Blogosphere

Mea Culpa Again (Sort Of).

We have a lot of great readers out there and we cherish every one. Recently, we have had a few unplanned and unavoidable gaps in our publication. Just a day here and there, but I thought some clarity was called for.

I have a full time career outside of writing. It demands a lot of my time normally, but during the winter months especially. Dee, the very capable editor of this column, also has a full time career and has proven to be a gifted writer filling in for me. It takes several hours to write, edit and distribute our articles to our affiliates, who then distribute to their readers.

With the intense work schedules there are times when we just don’t have the time. Our first choice is to go to the archives and see if something there will work. Then there are the times, such as happened this last week, when we couldn’t even do that.

We were under no illusions when we started this column that it was going to be easy. Our sole purpose is to get the Conservative Constitutional message to as many people as we can. As anyone who has read my columns for any amount of time will tell you, I’m an equal opportunity opinion editorialist. I’m just as quick to jump on and excoriate the Republicans as I am the Marxists… quicker in fact.

The situation and the economy demand nothing less than our dedicated vigilance. Conservative principles have gotten us this far… a political comeback and reversal of epic proportions, for a party who had been written out, walked over and buried by virtually every liberal political pundit (and not a few of our own) in the country.

Here’s where it gets tough for the Republicrats. Had it not been for the Patriots, had it not been for the Conservative blogosphere and the new media, the Republicans would not have had the prayer of the proverbial snowball in hell. I think they’re finally starting to get the picture, given some of the things we’re seeing in the Congress. We’re proud of the small part we’ve been able to play in advancing this great cause.

Semper Vigilans, Semper Fidelis

© Skip MacLure 2011

Obama’s Sniveling About Patriots And The New Media Continues.

CBS news, in keeping with the lowest standards of television news journalism, standards as low as their ratings, pandered to Barack Hussein Obama and listened to his diatribe against American citizens, patriots who would dare to speak their minds regarding Obama’s multi-trillion dollar assault on our way of life, our laws and Constitution. He continued his rant with references to conservative television (Fox News), talk radio and the Conservative internet, what is commonly referred to as the ‘blogosphere’ (a name I’ve never really cottoned on to, for what has turned out to be a very potent outlet for the dissemination of information and opinion).

Morning Show co-host Harry Smith tossed more softballs than a pitching machine, his most poignant question was enough to put any Conservative Republican in stitches. When on the basketball court with Obama, Harry actually asked Obama if he ‘could go to his right’, referring to his shooting. Obama (a leftie, cough) said he could but he “prefers his left”. Really? We’d never have guessed, Harry.

Speaking of one of the reasons Congress severely needs to be cleaned like a moldy basement, Representative Hank Johnson (D) Georgia replaced that intellectual giant Cynthia McKinney. When referring to the number of military personnel on the central Pacific island of Guam, the Representative spoke of his concern that the island would overturn like a boat with too many people in it. He stated that the island was 7 miles long and 7 miles wide (it’s 30 miles long by from 4 to 12 miles wide).

Guam is one of our most important Pacific bases and was the scene of some of the most brutal fighting of the war between the US Marines and the forces of Imperial Japan. Fortunately for the Representative’s peace of mind, Admiral Robert Willard, Commander of the US Pacific Fleet, was present to assure the Representative that this was ‘unlikely to happen’. Makes you wonder doesn’t it?

The DeMarxists’ goon tactics were in full bloom during the Patriot Rally in Searchlight, Nevada. About 30 members of IBEW showed up just in time for Andrew Breitbart to catch them on video throwing eggs at the ‘tea party express’ buses. One of the ‘gentlemen’ threatened Andrew and his camera crew with physical harm. Andrew also upped his offer for anyone who could come up with a video or audio of those two black Representatives, who claimed to be the victims of spitting and racial epitaphs from Conservative patriots at the Capitol rally during the health care voting, from 10,000 to 100,000 dollars. There have been no takers. That’s because they don’t exist. The claims, like the two gentlemen involved, are as phoney as a three dollar bill. We need to be constantly mindful of who and what we are dealing with.

Semper Vigilans, Semper Fidelis

© Skip MacLure 2010

Let's Recap Palin's "Outrage" And Letterman's Apologies

David Letterman was hardly alone in making jokes about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy. But it turns out there have been some by other comedians about her younger daughter. All of these jokes are in poor taste. Jokes about Bristol Palin, and even the other Palin children, are common place as is demonstrated here:

Top 10 Reasons Sarah Palin’s “Outrage” is Misplaced and A Little Late…

10) Last September, a skit on Saturday Night Live suggested incest in the Palin family. “What about the husband?” asked a mock Times reporter. “You know he’s doing those daughters. I mean, come on. It’s Alaska!” No outrage. Sarah Palin appeared on the show one month later in late October.

9) Days after the announcement of Bristol’s pregnancy, Conan O’Brien joked, “It’s true, John McCain’s running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, has revealed that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. Palin said, ‘We should never have introduced her to John Edwards.’” Where was the outrage? Was Conan promoting infidelity with an underage girl?

8 ) From two different Tonight Shows: “Governor Palin announced over the weekend that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is five months pregnant. Oh, boy, you thought John Edwards was in trouble before, now he’s really done it!” AND…”All the Republicans are heaping praise on Governor Palin. Fred Thompson said, as an actor, he could see them making a movie about Sarah Palin and her family. Didn’t they already make that movie? I think it was called ‘Knocked Up!’”–Jay Leno

7) Craig Ferguson’s skit of “Larry King vs Levi Johnston” asks about “kinky sex” with the drapes open. Craig Ferguson’s honorary Alaska citizenship, granted by Governor Palin wasn’t rescinded.

6) “According to expense reports, Sarah Palin charged the state of Alaska over $21,000 for her children to travel with her on official business. In fairness to Gov. Palin, when she leaves them home alone they get pregnant.” –Seth Meyers (SNL). Sarah Palin was in a sketch with Meyers a week earlier.

5) On October 8, 2008, Sarah Palin walked out on the ice with six year old Piper and 13 year old Willow, before the game, Conan O’Brien said, “Saturday night, Sarah Palin is going to drop the first puck at the Philadelphia Flyers’ hockey game. Then Palin will spend the rest of the game trying to keep the hockey players out of her daughter’s penalty box.” Oh, yes he did. You get the outrage…but not a peep then. According to the new “logic”, O’Brien was advocating for some really sick stuff.

4) Rush Limbaugh: “Everyone knows the Clintons have a cat. Socks is the White House cat. But did you know there is a White House dog?” Limbaugh put up a picture of Chelsea Clinton. At the time, Chelsea Clinton was 13 years old. Rush also said, “In last year’s campaign, the most prominent, articulate voice for standard run-of-the-mill good old-fashioned American conservatism was Sarah Palin.” Calling a young teenager a “dog” can’t be helpful to her “self-esteem.” Where is the apology from the leader of the GOP?

3) “Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno.”–John McCain, Sarah Palin’s running mate. Should McCain apologize to every young woman in America?

2) Palin’s friend, political defender and informer of the David Letterman comments, John Ziegler, was fired from his radio show for using the “n-word” online and on air in 1997. In 2000, he was fired for spelling the “n-word” on the air. How much does that word affect the psychological health of America’s youth, regardless of their race? Now he is pimping his film about how mean the “liberal media” was to Sarah Palin.

AND…The NUMBER 1 REASON Sarah Palin’s Outrage is Misplaced and A Little Late…

1) The “candidate who must be obeyed” was talking about Palin’s family when he said, “Kids are off limits.” Jake Tapper of ABC News interviewed then Candidate Obama, and asked, “Governor Palin and her husband issued a statement today saying their 17-year-old daughter Bristol, who is unmarried, is five months pregnant. Do you have any reaction?”

OBAMA: “I have said before and I will repeat again, I think people’s families are off-limits. And people’s children are especially off-limits. This shouldn’t be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Governor Palin’s performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president. And so I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories. You know, my mother had me when she was 18. And, you know, how family deals with issues and — and, you know, teenaged children, that shouldn’t be the topic of — of our politics.”

The Palin children have been fodder for comedians since they were brought to the national stage. Incest isn’t funny. Ugly kid jokes aren’t funny. Many of the things said about public figures are just flat wrong. Being “knocked up” isn’t much fun. Racist comments hurt all of us. I exhausted the top 10 list before I ran out of outrageous instances ignored by the Palins.

The National Organization for Women named David Letterman to their Hall of Shame. Will Letterman be joining Jay Leno? Conan O’Brien? Craig Ferguson? Seth Myers? Rush Limbaugh? Or John McCain? Of course not! I guess N.O.W. didn’t bother checking Sarah Palin’s “feminist” credentials. All across America, right wing radio and television talk show hosts feigned outrage in perfect synchronicity. The same people who back up Palin’s high drama assertions against Letterman ignored the connections between Bill O’Reilly’s irresponsible incitement and the murder of Dr. George Tiller. David Letterman, a late night entertainer, apologized. Fox New’s Bill O’Reilly has not.

As a parent, I understand being defensive. I just wonder what took so long. Why now?

Why now? The answer is simple. The right wing “outrage” has nothing to do with feminism and certainly nothing to do with jokes about Palin’s children. The right wing blogs were attacking Letterman over a Sarah Palin joke after Monday’s show before they realized they could attract more attention by falsely claiming Letterman was joking about Palin’s minor daughter as opposed to Bristol Palin. While Letterman’s joke was clearly about Bristol, other jokes above were not. While Letterman’s latest joke was about Bristol Palin after turning 18, and after she has been appearing in public speaking about her pregnancy, it is also notable that the above jokes were at the time about Palin’s 17-year-old daughter.

While the jokes were in poor taste,as even Letterman admitted last week, they hardly deserved the attention they received--unless the attackers have other motives for their attacks. This controversy is just another in a long string of examples of how the authoritarian wing of the right opposes freedom of speech and desires to silence anyone who disagrees with their reactionary agenda, and lying about what others have said is a frequent tactic which they employ.

Today, David Letterman has gone out of his way to attempt to diffuse the controversy by apologizing for jokes of his which were distorted by right wing attackersThe Los Angeles Times reports:

Under fire for a risque joke last week, David Letterman has apologized to Gov. Sarah Palin and her supporters. But a group urging CBS to fire the host says it’s still not enough.

On CBS’ “Late Show” tonight, Letterman says he’s sorry about a monologue earlier this month in which he joked that New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez impregnated Palin’s daughter during a game. Letterman has said he intended the joke to be in reference to Palin’s 18-year-old daughter Bristol, but Gov. Palin actually attended the game with her 14-year-old daughter Willow. Some critics have accused Letterman of joking about statutory rape.

“I told a bad joke,” Letterman told viewers at an afternoon taping. “I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception.  And since it was a joke I told, I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having told that joke.  It’s not your fault that it was misunderstood, it’s my fault.”

He concluded, “I’m sorry about it and I’ll try to do better in the future.”

The New York Times adds further information (but is off by a week--it only feels like it was well more than a week ago):

David Letterman directly apologized to Gov. Sarah Palin and her daughters on his program Monday night, saying he took responsibility for a joke that had offended Ms. Palin, her family, and her supporters.

Mr. Letterman opened the desk portion of his show with the apology in which he said he wanted to say he was sorry to “to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke.” Two weeks ago on his “Late Show” program on CBS, he had joked about Governor Palin attending a Yankee game with her daughter.

The joke, in which Mr. Letterman seemingly confused Willow, who is 14 and attended a Yankee game with Gov. Palin that week, with Bristol, who is 18 and an unwed mother, had to do with the Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez impregnating Ms. Palin’s daughter.

Last week Mr. Letterman somewhat defiantly said that there was a misperception going on and he would never make a sexually charged joke about a 14-year old. But he never expressly explained that he had inadvertently confused the two Palin daughters.

Monday he acknowledged that as the host of the program it was his responsibility to get the joke right. “I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception.”

He also insisted he was confused about the daughters. “I was told at the time she was there with Rudy Guiliani,” Mr. Letterman said. “I should have made the joke about Rudy.”

It is doubtful that this apology will make any difference with the Palin supporters who continued to smear Letterman after his first apology last week.  These attacks really have nothing to do with jokes about Palin’s daughters. Right wing bloggers began attacking Letterman for telling jokes about Sarah Palin after last Monday’s show and it wasn’t until later that they began distributing the fabrications that Letterman had told a joke about Willow Palin. Right wing supporters of Sarah Palin have been organizing to attack David Letterman for quite a while; last January Alaska Dispatch repoted that TeamSarah.org was trying to shut down this source of criticism (which John McCain would have liked to be silenced during the campiagn) while sending out  this message:

Over 500 Team Sarah members protested to the FCC about Letterman’s unsavory comment about Gov. Palin. They are hearing from the FCC that it is launching an investigation!

 

PS. TV Week has the full transcript of Letterman's apology:

“All right, here – I’ve been thinking about this situation with Governor Palin and her family now for about a week – it was a week ago tonight, and maybe you know about it, maybe you don’t know about it. But there was a joke that I told, and I thought I was telling it about the older daughter being at Yankee Stadium. And it was kind of a coarse joke. There’s no getting around it, but I never thought it was anybody other than the older daughter, and before the show, I checked to make sure in fact that she is of legal age, 18. Yeah. But the joke really, in and of itself, can’t be defended. The next day, people are outraged. They’re angry at me because they said, ‘How could you make a lousy joke like that about the 14-year-old girl who was at the ball game?’ And I had, honestly, no idea that the 14-year-old girl, I had no idea that anybody was at the ball game except the Governor and I was told at the time she was there with Rudy Giuliani…And I really should have made the joke about Rudy…” (audience applauds) “But I didn’t, and now people are getting angry and they’re saying, ‘Well, how can you say something like that about a 14-year-old girl, and does that make you feel good to make those horrible jokes about a kid who’s completely innocent, minding her own business,’ and, turns out, she was at the ball game. I had no idea she was there. So she’s now at the ball game and people think that I made the joke about her. And, but still, I’m wondering, ‘Well, what can I do to help people understand that I would never make a joke like this?’ I’ve never made jokes like this as long as we’ve been on the air, 30 long years, and you can’t really be doing jokes like that. And I understand, of course, why people are upset. I would be upset myself.

“And then I was watching the Jim Lehrer ‘Newshour’ – this commentator, the columnist Mark Shields, was talking about how I had made this indefensible joke about the 14-year-old girl, and I thought, ‘Oh, boy, now I’m beginning to understand what the problem is here. It’s the perception rather than the intent.’ It doesn’t make any difference what my intent was, it’s the perception. And, as they say about jokes, if you have to explain the joke, it’s not a very good joke. And I’m certainly – ” (audience applause) “- thank you. Well, my responsibility – I take full blame for that. I told a bad joke. I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception. And since it was a joke I told, I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having told that joke. It’s not your fault that it was misunderstood, it’s my fault. That it was misunderstood.” (audience applauds) “Thank you. So I would like to apologize, especially to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the Governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke. I’m sorry about it and I’ll try to do better in the future. Thank you very much.” (audience applause)

Anyone ever hear an apology such as this from people such as Rush Limbaugh, who has knowingly told jokes about children of Democrats who are under 18?

Palin supporters say they are continuing with their planned anti-Letterman protest outside of the Ed Sullivan Theater in NYC tomorrow evening.

Sarah Palin Continues To Hurt Her Chances And That Of The Right

I wonder to what extent Sarah Palin is being primed (and by whom) to be a serious contender for the 2012 GOP nomination. She is definitely a “candidate” at this early stage and is looking towards a run in 2012. Whether she turns into a serious candidate remains to be seen. She both has a real base of support and a lot of serious negatives. If Obama is still popular in 2012 and looks unbeatable, I also wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of other Republicans sit back and allow her to be a sacrificial lamb.

The controversy over the poor taste of a few of David Letterman's recent jokes continues to receive attention in the media and blogosphere, but the actual jokes have become overshadowed by the manner in which Sarah Palin has decided to sacrifice the good of her children for political gain, along with the mob mentality expressed by some on the right wing.

In the most benign reaction from the right, ditto heads repeat endlessly how Letterman’s jokes were in poor taste. True, but this is hardly worth spending any more time on. Everyone agrees that the jokes were in poor taste. Even Letterman agrees that he should not have told the ones about Bristol Palin (but he sticks by the reference to Sarah Palin as looking like a slutty flight attendant).

Right Wing Terrorist Act Condemned By Sarah Palin And Other Conservatives

While it might aggravate some readers on the left, I do try to quote conservatives when they are making sense. Perhaps I have a fantasy that such positive reinforcement will contribute to improving the sanity of the right wing. In that vein I quoted from Dick Cheney in my previous post. It is often the case that I can find material to quote from most politicians that I both agree with and disagree with, I’m not sure that I ever posted anything from Sarah Palin which I agreed with. Finally I found something worthwhile:

“I feel sorrow for the Tiller family. I respect the sanctity of life and the tragedy that took place today in Kansas clearly violates respect for life. This murder also damages the positive message of life, for the unborn, and for those living. Ask yourself, ‘What will those who have not yet decided personally where they stand on this issue take away from today’s event in Kansas?’ Regardless of my strong objection to Dr. Tiller’s abortion practices, violence is never an answer in advancing the pro-life message.”

Along similar lines, TeamSarah.org founder and Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser released the following statement about the killing yesterday:

“The Susan B. Anthony List condemns this anti-life act in the strongest of terms. The heart of the pro-life movement is one founded in love. Without this driving powerful center no justice can possibly be achieved.  Authentic progress in women’s rights has always encompassed the protection of human rights of every person across the board. The rights of one human being can never be honored by diminishing or ignoring the rights of another. This week as we gather for our annual June Tea event, themed Love Lets Live, we will lift up George Tiller’s loved ones in prayer.”

As I noted previously, there has been both unfortunate support from some on the right as well as opposition from others for this act of right wing terrorism. The blogosphere, especially in the comments, can easily amplify the views of a noisy minority and hopefully the comments supporting this type of terrorism do represent a tiny minority on the right.

Some additional sane views from the right on this issue, with Allahpundit followed by Ed Morrissey at Hot Air:

I could say there are no Bill Ayers types on our side, but I can’t; I wish I could say there are no right-wing nutroots degenerates online cheering them on, but I can’t say that either. As for those who condemn the murder while merrily hoping that he’s burning in hell, let a poor confused atheist ask you this: Isn’t the proper Christian response to any death to pray that God will have mercy on a flawed, fallible sinner, who’s now at last seen the error of his ways? Tiller might have changed his mind about abortion and repented in years to come but his killer’s deprived him of the chance. No prayers that God will take that into consideration?–Allahpundit

The murder of George Tiller at his church is a heinous crime, without any sense or justice. Regardless of how one feels about George Tiller’s profession, his murderer is nothing more than a domestic terrorist — someone attempting to impose by force a policy that one cannot get in place through democratic means. Tiller’s killer is no better than William Ayers, Kathleen Soliah, and Eric Rudolph, people who attempted to use violence for their extremist ends. Those who value life know that murder is the antithesis of the pro-life movement.–Ed Morrissey

The far right wing ties of the accused killer have been revealed today. While many conservatives are condemning this, there continues to be signs of support from some on the right.  Right Wing Watch has video and text on Randall Terry’s  press conference at the National Press Club “to discuss how the pro-life movement should deal with Dr. [George] Tiller’s death” and defend his statement that Tiller essentially deserved to die because he was a “mass-murder.”

While there have been far more vile responses from some on the right who have condoned this act of terrorism (which I won’t bother to give any publicity to) one of the more absurd arguments has been that this coverage given to right wing terrorism somehow justifies the bizzare reaction on the right to the report from the Department of Homeland Security on right wing terrorism. This act actually verifies the fact that right wing terrorism is a real problem, with this being only one example. This demonstrates that the Department of Homeland Security had reason to prepare a report on right wing terrorism. Of course conservatives who are bringing up the report ignore the facts that DHS prepared reports on both far left and far right wing terrorism, and that the recently declassified reports were prepared by a Bush appointee.

 

Conservatives Cry 'Conspiracy' On Chrysler Closings

In my previous post I commented on the ridiculous tactics being employed by the right to smear Sonia Satomayor. There is another ridiculous attack from the right on another topic:

Evidence appears to be mounting that the Obama administration has systematically targeted for closing Chrysler dealers who contributed to Repubicans. What started earlier this week as mainly a rumbling on the Right side of the Blogosphere has gathered some steam today with revelations that among the dealers being shut down are a GOP congressman and closing of competitors to a dealership chain partly owned by former Clinton White House chief of staff Mack McLarty.

The basic issue raised here is this: How do we account for the fact millions of dollars were contributed to GOP candidates by Chrysler who are being closed by the government, but only one has been found so far that is being closed that contributed to the Obama campaign in 2008?

It seems to me that if there were really politically motivated moves than we wouldn’t be seeing any dealers who contributed to Obama being closed. This basically fits into the conspiracy theory mode which many on the far right think in. They see the result but have failed to really look at the facts, and they think that because the propose one possible theory for the results there is reason to think it is true.

Megan McArdle points out that ” Democratic and Republican dealers are unlikely to be found in the same place, and the rural counties that tend to be red are probably less profitable.”

Nate Silver actually did the leg work to look at the dealerships which were not closed and found that they were overwhelmingly owned by Republicans. If most dealerships were owned by Republicans it only makes sense that most of those which were closed would be owned by Republicans. He also points out:

It shouldn’t be any surprise, by the way, that car dealers tend to vote — and donate — Republican. They are usually male, they are usually older (you don’t own an auto dealership in your 20s), and they have obvious reasons to be pro-business, pro-tax cut, anti-green energy and anti-labor. Car dealerships need quite a bit of space and will tend to be located in suburban or rural areas. I can’t think of too many other occupations that are more natural fits for the Republican Party.

The Auto Prophet reviewed the data and came to the same finding that there was no obvious political bias in the closings, finding “Chrysler dealers (and probably all auto dealers) who donated for the 2008 election cycle overwhelmingly supported the Republicans.”

 

Sotomayor Smear Campaign Exposes Current State Of Conservative Movement

As expected, and widely predicted even before the choice of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court was announced, portions of the right wing have been engaging in their usual politics of personal destruction to distort Sotomayor’s record and engage in character assassination. In this case the right is actually divided. Some conservatives see attacks on Sotomayor as part of their grand strategy for 2012 of painting Obama as a leftist, and many other conservatives  just fall into character assassination as a Pavlovian response to any action from a Democrat.

In contrast, some conservatives realize that it is counter to their goal of receiving greater Hispanic support to someone who is probably the first Hispanic nominee. I wonder if any on the right are also beginning to realize the degree to which their reliance on the politics of personal destruction has backfired, with even many who might not vote against them based upon their beliefs now wishing to disassociate themselves with the Republican Party and conservative movement due to their unsavory tactics.

There is far too much material and too little time to quote everything of relevance here so I will try to choose some of the best links. A case such as this is an example of both the blogosphere at its worst and best. At worst the blogs permit the right wing echo chamber to repeat the same lies and distortions, allowing good conservative sheep to quickly learn which lies to repeat. At best the blogoshpere has quickly presented far more actual analysis than has been present in the news media.

To begin, The Scotus Blog has presented a summary of her decisions in posts here, here, and here. Her decisions have often been on narrow, technical grounds and only provide limited insight into her views on the types of issues considered by the Supreme Court (despite attempts by the right to mischaracterize her as having a far left record ). There are some favorable signs with respect to her views on First Amendment rights.

There are many blog posts responding to the character assassination from the right, such as from Adam Server here and hereJohn Cole, Matthew Yglesias, Digby, Steve Benen, Chris Bowers (here and here), Nate Silver, Greg SargentMedia MattersJoan Walsh, Mahablog, and Ta Nehisi Coates. They include responses to some of the more prominent attacks from the right including distorted claims about her decisions being overturned, claims about her competence,  their rants against empathy, and statements taken out of context to claim she is racist or sexist.

Hopefully these links contain the facts with regards to all the falsehoods already being spread by the right wing noise machine–at least so far. The fiction writing ability of the right far exceeds their competence or principles, and we can expect many more comparable lies to be spread.

While conservatives quickly launched a smear campiagn full of misinformation on Sonia Sotomayor, it looks like it might already be fizzling out. There is no doubt that some right wing bloggers and talk radio propagandists will continue to repeat the same lies indefinitely. Those indocrinated in far right propaganda have a tough time shaking it off regardless of how much evidence is presented that they are wrong.  There are still some who claim that Obama isn’t a natural born American citizen and that there is some validity to the discredited claims of the Swift Boat Liars against John Kerry. There are also some signs of rationality as some conservatives realize that, barring some unexpected revelations, none of their false claims will be enough to prevent Sotomayor’s nomination from being approved.

The right wing attacks have been based on limited and distorted evidence and are so weak that even some conservatives are not able to go along. Some such as Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich are making claims that she is a racist–a claim which certainely takes a lot of chutzpah considering the record of the GOP. These claims were based upon taking a few lines out of context from a lecture given in 2001. The simple fact that claims of racism are based upon a single lecture from almost eight years ago should already raise some red flags as to the validity of the argument. Rod Dreher reviewed the statements which earlier had him thinking she was racist in context and conceded,  I was wrong about Sotomayor speech.

They have made an even weaker argument in dishonest claims that sixty percent of her cases were overturned by the Supreme Court. This argument is so deceitful that it might help open a few more eyes as to the dishonest tactics regularly employed by the right wing noise machine. They leave out the important facts that she only had five cases reviewed by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court typically reverses 75% of circuit court decisions that rules on. Having three cases reversed is hardly meaningful. This actually represents 2% of her total cases, far less than the 60% number misleadingly cited by the right.

The attackers also claimed that Sotomayor has a far more liberal record than she actually has. Her decisions have offen been based upon narrow technical grounds specific to the individual case  as opposed to ideology. The conservatives who have actually looked at her record are finding that she is far more centrist and far less ideological than they first heard. She has a very limited record with regards to abortion, and opponents of abortion rights found that her record was not what they expected. Steven Waldman wrote:

One has to assume Obama wouldn’t have appointed Sonia Sotomayor without some indication that she’s pro-choice but — based on very, very little information — I wonder if she might not end up being an abortion centrist.

First, in Center for Reproductive Law and Policy v. Bush, she actually ruled against the pro-choice group on Constitutional grounds.

Second, in Amnesty America v. Town of West Hartford, she ruled in favor of the rights of anti-abortion protestors.

Neither of these cases dealt with the merits of abortion. Nonetheless, it’s interesting that in the two cases we know of that related partly to abortion, she took the position that pro-life groups would have wanted (albeit for reasons unrelated to Roe v. Wade). At a minimum, these cases would seem to indicate that, if she is pro-choice, she didn’t let those views affect her view of the relevant law.

While some bloggers and right wing pundits will repeat any attack, the arguments are appearing to be too weak even for the Senate Republicans. Mike Allen reports that any Republican opposition to her is fizzling out quickly:

More than 24 hours after the White House unveiling, no senator has come out in opposition to Sotomayor’s confirmation.

“The sentiment is overwhelming that the Senate should do due diligence but should not make a mountain out of a molehill,” said a top Senate Republican aide. “If there’s no ‘there’ there, we shouldn’t try to create one.”

So far there is certainly no ‘there’ there in the accusations being fabricated by the right. The attacks upon Sotomayor are so weak, and so transparently false, that if they have any impact it should be to increase the backlash against the Republicans. It takes a certain amount of chutzpah for the Republicans to raise charges of racism against others and only their most hardcore supporters can even listen to such claims without chuckling at them. Maybe Joe Gandelman of The Moderate Voice is on to something and their attacks are being orchestrated by a mole out to further destroy the Republican Party:

In instance after instance since Obama’s 2008 election and the Democratic sweep of Congress, the GOP is proving itself to be not so much “stuck on stupid” as much as “stuck on preaching to its (already convinced) choir.” It seems oblivious to the fact that OTHER voters — from critically important ethnic and age demographics — need to be courted which means being at least partially on the same cultural wavelength. Today’s Republican party is seemingly Super-glued to the slash-and-burn, characterize and demonize conservative talk radio political culture.

It’s hard to imagine that a party that has problems with independent voters and Latino voters so going out of its way to repel voters it needs, unless there is a Democratic mole inside the GOP instigating these comments.

Calling her a racist will get lots of publicity but it’s going to drive many Hispanic voters away in droves. And so will the faces delivering this message: the well-fed, sizeable face of multi-millionaire private- jet-owner Limbaugh, sitting in front of his mike, and the very familiar face of Gingrich. Many Americans (who are not millionaires or who aren’t conservative Republicans) will look at and compare the two GOPers’ life narratives with that of Sotomayor. Even worse: many independent voters, Democrats who may not be enamored with Obama, and moderate Republicans have already distanced themselves from the GOP. This latest barrage at Sotomayor now clearly is part of a pattern: no matter what the issue, the GOP is responding now with demonization in attempts to stir up hot button resentments and/or political rage.

And even worse for the GOP: its unlikely to resonate among the younger voters the GOP will need to regain footing in the 21st century.

So, except for getting nods of approval and cries of “That’s the way, go get ‘em!” from Republicans, what gains will Republicans (via talk shows, Gingrich and weblogs) make in accusing Sotomayor of being a racist — except, rightfully or wrongfully, causing some on the fence to conclude that those Republicans raising the racism issue could perhaps be mistakenly talking about what they are seeing when they look in the mirror?

A mole might be the most rational explanation for the manner in which the Republicans persist in utilizing tactics which drive away rational voters, but unfortunately what we are seeing is the actual mindset of the conservative movement.

Barring any unexpected findings she will be easily confirmed. The manner of the right wing attacks are now one of the most  significant aspects of this story, considering that any pick would have been subjected to similar lies from the right wing. Their distortion of her judicial record is very similar to how the right typically distorts voting records, such as taking an up or down vote on an overall budget and then launching attacks based upon saying a Senator voted for or against a specific item in the budget.

In a democracy  it is an extremely serious issue when votes are being influenced not by the actual facts or serious discussion over different viewpoints but based upon repeated campaigns of distortion such as this. It is important for a democracy to work for the voters to be working from accurate information, not the misinformation regularly spread by the right. It would be both legitimate and healthy for the democratic process if conservatives responded to a nominee with an honest discussion of the areas where they disagreed. Instead they ignore her actual record, as they also do with political candidates, and launch attacks based upon fabrications created by distortions of the record and taking statements out of context.

 

Introducing Project Battleground

The right needs a few good bloggers.

Actually, more than a few. We need more good bloggers in every battleground state and in every competitive Congressional district in 2010.

As important as having activist blogs like The Next Right is at the national level, it's even more important at the state level. The states are where the mainstream media is breaking down big time, with multiple local and regional newspapers expected to stop publishing in 2009. Media coverage in these areas won't just go away; it will move to the Web and the blogosphere. Many of the reporters and journalistic resources at cash-strapped newspapers will likely land at left-wing "alternative" news websites affiliated with the likes of the Huffington Post, the Center for Independent Media, and ProPublica.

If the right doesn't act now, we could find ourselves outgunned in this next shift in media just as badly as we were outgunned on the Internet in 2008.

We need conservative websites and blogs in every state that are dedicated to winning those states. They should be run by sophisticated activists or consultants who know how politics works, who know where the bodies are buried in the statehouse, or young up-and-comers who are interested in working in the political arena and can use this as a venue to prove themselves. We need sites like the Flash Report in California, Minnesota Democrats Exposed, Red Mass Group, Sayfie Review, run by my friend Justin Sayfie in Florida, or the Politicker network.

Now is actually a very opportune time to what I'm calling Project Battleground. An unusually large number of Republican operatives now find themselves with decidedly fewer opportunities for career advancement as a result of the last election. To those operatives to whom that last sentence may apply: there is no better way to get your name out there than to become a public voice in the political debate in your state, and to do it using new media. Most of the good state political websites are run by people with real experience in politics, whether they're operatives, consultants, or people with significant experience volunteering. If you know what you're talking about, the chances of success are very, very good, and you'll be the key voice defining the public battle to take back a Senate or House seat. I view blogging as essential to what I do as a political consultant, not because I flog my clients or use it to get new ones, but because I can use public arguments to prepare the ground for the kinds of strategies that help get good candidates elected. 

OK, I'm sold, so what do I next? Just click the Read More link below to fill out a form letting us know of your background and interests. You really don't need our permission to start a new site, and you can use the form to make us aware of an effort you're already running or one that's planned. I may use the names to put together a Google Group for leaders in state political blogging -- and if it makes sense, I'm happy to piggyback on similar efforts that may already exist -- with the caveat that Project Battleground will focus more on electoral than policy battles.

WHERE OUR PRIORITIES SHOULD REALLY BE

After licking our wounds from this past election, the blogosphere is packed with suggestions and commentary regarding how to rebuild the Republican party. Many Republican activists and enthusiasts are debating who will be the face of our party as we go forward. At times I too have been eager to want to put forward a name that best represents us, but doing so does not help us establish the solid foundation that we need to build upon.

Aside from the race for leadership of the party, activists are caught up in a struggle over who is next, who is going to be our candidate for President and who we must rely upon to deliver our message and carry us forward? There are those who are demanding that we pin our hopes on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, while others debate the future of Sarah Palin or other party figures like Romney and Huckabee.

I have an appreciation for all of the above mentioned named people but I have an even greater appreciation for what my party stands for regardless of the name of who we discuss and there in lies what the real debate should be about.

We, as a party, need to be less concerned with the face of the party and more concerned with the heart of the party. We need to reestablish that which was the source of our political preeminence beginning with the '94 Republican revolution and the ending of its dominance which culminated in the 2006 elections when we lost control of the senate and house.

The 1994 Republican revolution ushered in 73 new Republican House members and 11 new Republican Senators. The largess of that freshmen class of Republicans influenced the leadership of congress with the "power to the people" sentiments that they brought to government. It was a sentiment that believed, as elected officials, they needed to make sacrifices for the people and live by the same rules that they created for the people.

This meant getting rid of special privileges and reversing the practices that allowed members of congress to abuse power. It also meant a strong adherence to conservative fiscal, foreign and law and order policies. Many in this class quickly became a part of a new informal group dubbed "New Federalists" and set an agenda of widespread U.S. government cuts in many departments and also intended on privatizing, localizing, consolidating and even , eliminating many departments and agencies. This federalist direction was part of their success.

At least up until 2002.

In my estimation our fall from power as a party came about not due to what we stand for but due to a lack of attention to coordinated efforts in clearly defining what we stand for and a backing away from those intentions.

After winning the White House in 2000, with total control of all three branches of federal government, many of our elected officials became complacent. With that White House win also came the loss of the "power to the people" spirit that ushered in

our majorities in 1994.

After winning the presidency, many of those who were a part of that '94 federalist style, freshmen class slowly left office. Many of them believed in term limits and felt, that in truth to their beliefs, they must step aside and move on. So by 2002, gone were many of the freshmen of the '94 GOP revolution. Gone were the strong federalist tendencies of John Kasich , J.C. Watts, Joe Scarborough and their like. And with them, the "power to the power" legislation and message slowly departed as well.

Slowly, congressional Republicans became complacent with their power. Slowly they lost touch with the people and lost their message. In 2004, the effects of this loss of spirit were not dramatically pronounced. Republicans maintained what power they had, including the White House, but the erosion was beginning. By 2006 it was set in. Our federalist influences were gone and so was our power.

And that is what we must get back in order to regain power. The "power to the people" message and federalist intentions which defined the '94 freshman Republican class was what helped to bring us to power.

In 1994 we did not win simply because we were not Democrats. We won because of the anti-establishmentarian mentality that we represented. We were also able to point fingers of blame at Democrats who controlled the establishment. We were able to point to the pay raises and special privileges that Democrats afforded the governing class while offering only a lack of attention to the needs of the people that democrat policies seemingly overlooked.

But by 2006 it became clear to the people that we were the establishment and that we were not responsive to their needs. By 2008 an exclamation mark was added to that sentiment.

So here we are today, wondering how to gain back our majority status.

Many are trying to achieve that goal by appointing one name or another as the one name that will propel us back into power. Yet, the truth is that no one name will restore faith in our party.

We can fondly mention the Reagan name and we can offer up Mitt Romney as a the new bearer of the Reagan torch or Sarah Palin as the Republican savior and Bobby Jindal as the leader of the next revolution but no matter what name may put forth, it is the what our party stands for that is more important than who represents it.

So I propose that we stop linking our fortunes to any one figure and start clearly defining our party. Not redefining it, but clarifying it's definition.

Doing that requires those Republicans who still remain in office to get back on message and adopt a stronger adherence to federalist in their legislative initiatives and voting records.

Beyond generalities, that means controlling spending and maintaining an aggressive posture with those foreign elements whom threaten our security and would weaken the threads of freedoms delicate fabric. It means reducing the size of a costly and inefficient government and the bureaucracy that makes government inefficient.

Under the auspices of Homeland Security, Republicans, during the Bush administration have tried to excuse away budget deficits. Although Homeland security did account for one of the largest reorganizations of federal government in our history, it did not create an excuse for avoiding budget cuts in other areas or streamlining departments and cutting waste.

In light of this, we must create a legislative agenda that reflects our political ideology. For too long the G.O.P. has been overshadowed by the War on Terror. That effort must not be diminished nor should any focus be taken away from it. However; our efforts must simultaneously embark upon the same domestic agenda that brought us to power in the mid '90's and that we lost track of during the security agenda of this current decade.

So put aside the name of your favorite potential Republican nominee four years from now. Focus on the clarity of our message and how best to shape that message. Let great work of Bobby Jindal and Sarah Palin, as a governors, speak for themselves and see what it shall bring. Let people like former congressman John Kasich reemerge on the frontlines of the political battlefield as he throws his hat in the ring for Governor of Ohio. Let the candidacies of the best and brightest develop as we help to recapture the spirit and agenda which brought us to power but strayed away from.

Through that agenda, the best of our leaders will emerge and victory will again be ours.

Campaigns need to listen to the Internet Media

Mark McKinnon - with whom I work in other contexts - has an interesting post at Internet Evolution on the impact of the internet.  He is specifically discussing Twitter, but I think his point about bilateral communication is applicable to the internet media in general...

The greatest impact the Internet has had on politics is democratization. And nowhere is this trend more evident than in the current use of microblogs like Twitter. [...]  People are listening to and analyzing every single word that John McCain and Barack Obama say, so the campaigns don’t necessarily need another channel for communicating to the public. But people are also paying attention to which campaigns and politicians are actually listening to the people as well, and it may be that the true value of Twitter for political campaigns is in listening more than talking. Twitter is more than just a large, unorganized focus group; it is a link to real-time constituent consciousness.

We have been conditioned by traditional communication channels - broadcast and print - to think in terms of Push Media; that is, using the media to push a message in front of an audience.   Campaigns, electoral and advocacy, are sometimes (very slowly) getting a little better at Pull Media (media that draws an audience organically), but even the Push/Pull media is only half of the value these organizations can draw from the internet.

As McKinnon says above, campaigns should listening.  There are a variety of values in this...

  • Early Warning Intelligence: campaigns, or any organization, can get a tremendous amount of intel and insight out of the online world.  The internet is the tip of the spear for their opposition.  Stories and frames frequently emerge online well before they bubble into the public consciousness.  Early warning allows campaigns to take preemptive action to mitigate or even prevent those probems.
  • Better Ideas: Ideas don't always need to originate from the campaigns. The best messages and the best research often comes from the crowd, and the internet - particularly the blogosphere - is a rich source of ideas.  Campaigns do this to some extent already (see: Joe the Plumber), but there is a great deal more idea-farming they could do.
  • Sound Boarding: If a message and theme is working online, then it works.  Online buzz is not a scientific way to test messages, but it can be a very valuable sounding board for campaigns to evaluate existing messages and ideas.  It can also be a useful way for campaigns to find the holes in an argument before they leap onto it.

 The evolution from Push to Pull Media is important; learning to listen better will improve their Push and Pull media efforts.

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