Thursday, July 31

:: I Do Not Support Vandalizing Churches...

... but in this case I'll have to make an exception.  As seen on Shakesville.

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Saturday, July 26

:: Ponies on Steroids

Democratic White House will be purer than driven snow
I really don't have the time to do this, but I feel compelled to share the following exchange I had over at Shakesville. Since the main Canaries have all worked for years in the political / advocacy arena, I think its of passing interest.

Melissa McEwen, a blogger whom I enjoy a great deal, posted the following tidbit (and I totally sympathize with her):
"Well, certainly."—Former White House spokesbot Scott McClellan, when asked by Chris Matthews if the Bush administration used Fox commentators as spokespeople by feeding them talking points.

Anyone who's been paying attention knows that Fox News is the propaganda arm of the Bush White House, but it's nice to have such blunt confirmation.
I'm particularly ill-tempered today, so when I read that I immediately thought - oh no. Please let's not have progressives start demonizing talking points the way the campaign finance folks demonized so many routine aspects of political advocacy - PAC donations, for example.

So I sent off the following quick response, not thinking I was saying anything controversial:
"...Plenty of "news" people were using Dem talking points too, for a while. Map Olbermann against Axelrod and you get a perfect fit.

So is it wrong that Fox and the White House are in a permanent liplock because politicians and these pseudo-journalists shouldn't have that close a relationship as a matter of principle, or is wrong because we don't agree with the content? Because any Dem, candidate or elected, would replicate this relationship in a heartbeat and call it success.

Thus a word of caution - stigmatize the closeness between Fox and the White House now and you're just preparing the ground for conservatives to argue that the (Obama) White House is using CNN (or Olbemann, etc.) as Pravda, etc., because the WH is sending CNN press communications and there are similarities between what the WH says and what CNN is reporting."
I was very surprised to receive the following response (slightly abridged):
"...if they are repeating a WH statement without accreditation, then it is -- as has been pointed out -- propaganda. All they have to do is attribute the source to the WH -- or the Obama campaign -- and it becomes what it is: a talking point.

Sorry, I don't buy the assumption that the Democrats would do the same thing as the Bush administration. I'm too old to be that cynical."
Its cynical to assume that a Democrat would try to cultivate a media outlet in the hope they would run the Dem's talking points more or less verbatim? This would never happen? Its kind of what I was afraid of - routine press relations takes on the aspect of something shady. One edge of the double-edges sword is being sharpened... so I responded (slightly abridged):
"Everyone - conservative, progressive or other - who does this kind of work hopes to see their press materials repeated verbatim by a friendly journalist or media outlet. That is considered a marker of success - regardless of political ideology. And everyone cultivates friendly relationships with specific journos, producers or media outlets in the hope this will happen. But that's not my point.

My point is simply that the shoe is about to be on the other foot and the meme will be that the Obama White House is using (fill in the blank journo or media outlet) as a propaganda tool because the WH is sending out 'talking points." The reason conservatives will say this is because they want reporters to defensively knee-jerk criticize the Dem WH in every single story just so the reporter / media outlet can show that they're not behaving like, ahem, tools."
... realizing full well that I was now making too much of an off-hand thought, but I didn't want to be misunderstood. Among the responses I got were (again, slightly abridged):
"... the entire problem goes away if the talking heads merely say, "The White House said today that..." or whoever else dropped the talking points into your journalistic lap. That gives both the data and the source, making critical analysis of the statement more complete. It isn't the distribution of the material that is the problem, it's the pretense that it is original work by the media person in question.

And I'm confident that if Obama or any other Democrat were to do what this White House has done, the Shakers here would call him/her out on it."
And I'm confident that if Obama or any other Democrat were to do what this White House has done, the Shakers here would call him/her out on it.

That goes for me, too.
Well, I left that alone, despite the fact that those responses really surprised me. The idea that the Democrats would never do so dastardly a deed as forming a tight relationship with a reporter or media outlet... and even that the deed is dastardly... where did this come from?

Yes, Fox is evil. Yes, the White House is evil. Yes, the collusion between them is evil. But that's because of who they are and what they are saying. If CNN were working that closely with an Obama White House to, for example, raise awareness about climate change and explain the benefits of, I don't know, the Kyoto Treaty because the U.S. was about to sign on... we'd see it as acting in the public's interest. We'd see it as a positive development. Not because there is something good about the working relationship, but because the message is important and good.
I know the wingnuts will complain, regardless, that CNN or the NY Times is the propaganda arm of a Democratic White house. But do we have to position ourselves now in a way that will be diametrically opposite the one we'll adopt should the executive branch change parties? Do we have to be the ones who place a stigma on the term "talking points" just in time to be hoisted on that petard? And how did anyone miss the fact that both presidential campaigns did daily conference calls and regularly sent around talking points, and one campaign saw their messages routinely picked up verbatim by certain media figures?

Its a minor point, I know. No big deal. Just strange to me... since the utterly rude awakening of the primary process, I'm noticing more and more the ways Dem criticisms of GOP candidates and policies are hypocritical.

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Tuesday, July 22

:: Another Do-Over

The latest Obama do-over, courtesy of ABC News. There's more (but not much more) if you follow the link. Basically this one boils down to: If things had happened differently, I would have been right, so strictly speaking there is nothing wrong about what I said - its just that things turned out differently than I predicted.

"I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence" in Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, said in January 2007. "In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

In Baghdad yesterday, after a day spent witnessing the reduction in violence in Iraq, Obama was asked by ABC News' Terry Moran if he was wrong.

"Here is what I will say," Obama said, "I think that, I did not anticipate, and I think that this is a fair characterization, the convergence of not only the surge but the Sunni awakening in which a whole host of Sunni tribal leaders decided that they had had enough with Al Qaeda, in the Shii’a community the militias standing down to some degrees. So what you had is a combination of political factors inside of Iraq that then came right at the same time as terrific work by our troops. Had those political factors not occurred, I think that my assessment would have been correct."

Obama went on to say "the fact is that there was a combination, I think. Look, the troops and General Petreaus and Ambassador Crocker deserve enormous credit for that and that is credit that I have given publicly. And I will say, again this is the danger of politics is that I can probably show you a couple of other quotes, in which I said 'Look, whenever you put US soldiers on the ground, in those particular areas, they are going to have an impact.' So it wasn’t any doubt that you have an additional 20 thousand troops and where they are right there it is going to have an impact."
Read more!

Monday, July 21

:: Boycott the DNC

The DNC is not on your side.
The poor Canary has been neglected of late... but if anything could bring her back from the brink of collapse it would be (and is) this unbelievably - no, mindblowingly - obnoxious email sent by DNC officials to Hillary donors and reproduced in TPM Election Central.

Do follow the link; however, I'm reproducing the entire email (as posted there) because I don't trust y'all to not lose focus and skip on over to Miranda July's balm-for-the-soul place instead.
Dear Democratic Friends:

2008 is a Democratic year-at all levels in all the states. The opportunity is ours. We just have to seize it.

We experienced an exciting, intense, sometimes difficult, campaign to nominate our presidential candidate. Now it's over. Barack Obama won.

I supported Hillary Clinton and am proud and pleased that I did. But she lost. Barack Obama won. It's over.

It is time for all Democrats, supporters of Senator Clinton and all other contenders for the nomination, to stand with him to secure his election and the election of Democrats at all levels of competition.

I must confess a bit of fatigue and irritation with people who continue to carp, complain, and criticize the results of the primary and lay down conditions for their support. The Los Angeles Lakers didn't establish conditions to recognize the Boston Celtics as NBA Champions; Roger Federer did not demand concessions before recognizing that Rafael Nadal defeated him at Wimbledon.

It is time to act in a mature and resourceful fashion. It's time to put the primaries behind us. It's time to support Barack Obama without conditions or demands.

It's time to WIN for Barack Obama, the Democratic Party, America, and our future. We have an unparalleled opportunity. I hope we will all do everything we can to seize the moment.

See you at the Inauguration.


Don Fowler
DNC Member At-Large, South Carolina
Former Chair of the Democratic National Committee

Alice Germond
Secretary, Democratic National Committee

According to TPM, this is a real email that was really sent. Part of me almost wonders whether Mr. Fowler and Ms. Germond are acting as provocateurs -- purposely trying to rile up Obama dissenters ahead of the convention. Its hard for me to believe that sentient humans actually thought this would be helpful to the DNC and Barack.

But let's take it at face value. Apparently pre-Convention, pre-election organizing to impress upon Barack and the party leadership that benefiting from rampant sexism, caving on a critical aspect of Roe and voting to gut the Fourth Amendment is just bitter carping by sore losers. Apparently the resolution of the nomination battle is as simple as tallying up points, awarding a trophy, and going home for the off-season. Apparently all this trouble is just because Hillary's supporters are just being difficult and tempermental. Why don't we just shut up and get in line, already?

Seriously, its really worrying that people in the Democratic leadership are so willing to cast huge numbers of the party faithful as "other" - unknowable (why don't they just stop?), illegitimate (you lost fair and square!), and a threat to the cause (you'd better start giving). Because dissenters have been cast as "other," its easy for the DNC to think in profoundly undemocratic ways - that the dissenters should shut up, that the Convention is just pro-forma because its "over already."

These people really, really don't get it and they are not listening to anyone's concerns. The only thing they care about is stifling dissent. If this is the way they are behaving before the election - before the Convention! - how much traction do you think we'll have if they decide to nominate a Sandra Day O'Connor style justice for the Supreme Court? How much juice will we have when Obama's faith based allies start receiving conscience exemptions with their federal grants for providing certain social or health services?

The inimitable Dr. Violet Socks of Reclusive Leftist adds the DNC's latest salvo to her updated "reverse-reality scenario" thusly...
In behind-the-scenes maneuvers, as Obama is wrapping up his final primary victory in Puerto Rico, the DNC forces him to suspend his campaign and endorse Hillary.

Hillary, for her part, plunges into the role of presumptive nominee with confidence. She abandons any pretense of being a progressive (or even much of a Democrat), espousing right-wing Republican policies on everything from domestic surveilliance to the (non)-separation of church and state. She also drops her support — never more than lukewarm — for full voting rights for African-Amercians, arguing instead that they should have to pass stringent psychological tests and consult with their families and pastors before making important decisions like who to vote for. When members of the Congressional Black Caucus urge her to reach out to African-American supporters of Obama, she sneers that they need to “get over it” themselves, and that if they’d just think for a moment they’d realize it’s for their own good.

Hillary’s occasional attempts to downplay racism go awry. She makes an awkward speech praising Obama for proving that black men can perform every bit as well as white girls. At one of her fundraisers a comedian regales the crowd with “n—-r” jokes; Hillary starts to chide him gently, but then smiles and says, “I’m just messin’ with you!”

In Dr. Socks' updated reverse reality scenario, the comedian she refers to is Bernie Mac. Do the Google if you are unfamiliar. The reference to full voting rights is an allusion to Barack's dismissal-then-backtrack on health exceptions for abortion - they are equally fundamental abrogations of human rights.

It's worth taking a look at Dr. Socks' original reverse-reality scenario... and when you're done with that, head over to Ms. July's website to decompress. Read more!

Monday, July 7

:: Is NARAL just there to decorate the office?

I woke up this morning still in a tizzy about Obama's idiot statements about abortion over the weekend. So I headed over to the "Equality Means Choice" group on I was pleased to see this at the top of the discussion list - and they are none too pleased. I'll join with them and send my scathing comment to the campaign to suggest they pull the candidate's head out of his ass and actually consult with some skilled pro-choice leaders that have publicly affiliated themselves with the campaign.

However, it is not at all clear that these "advisors" will actually be of any help. This is from the AP story on Obama's idiot statement:

In a statement, NARAL Pro-Choice said Obama's magazine interview is consistent with Roe v. Wade.

"Sen. Obama has consistently said he supports the tenets set forth by Roe, and has made strong statements against President Bush's Federal Abortion Ban, which does not have an exception to protect a woman's health," the organization's statement said.

"No! Really! He's going to be ok! We promise!" Wow. Once again NARAL has shown that they are so desperate for political relevance that they will undermine their own positions.
In case you forgot what those were (they clearly did), AP will helpfully remind you:

The official position of NARAL Pro-Choice America, the abortion rights group that endorsed Obama in May, states: "A health exception must also account for the mental health problems that may occur in pregnancy. Severe fetal anomalies, for example, can exact a tremendous emotional toll on a pregnant woman and her family."

Sadly, the opposition defended Obama better than his own pro-choice "advisors":

A leading abortion opponent, however, said Obama's rhetoric does not match his voting record and his previously stated views on abortion rights.

David N. O'Steen, the executive director of National Right to Life, said Obama's remarks to the magazine "are either quite disingenuous or they reflect that Obama does not know what he is talking about." [emphasis mine]

"You cannot believe that abortion should not be allowed for mental health reasons and support Roe v Wade," O'Steen said.

Jill at Feministe has a nice post on this topic - so much more articulate than I find myself capable of being. Read more!