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Friday, October 07, 2005


Freddy the Pig

"And to go after Kerry's war record, when your own guy has a glass chin, was a bold, if despicable, move."

I don't think there was anything bold about it-- I think Kerry made it inevitable with the recruiting poster he turned the convention into. Kerry was the one who ran on a 30-year-old war record which he was on record as opposing. The idiocy of thinking that mattered to anybody at this late date was compounded by those who thought Bush's war record could be fatal to an incumbent president. An incumbent president's ONLY issue is his first term, nothing else matters to voters. Karl Rove must have looked at the Kerry "Vietnam Reunion Tour" campaign and thanked God for his luck in opponents.


"Well, Abbas, if you're dismissing the Soviet threat and the al-Qaeda threat equally, then Bush is not the only one repeating history rather than learning from it, isn't he?"

Excuse me, but wasn't the Soviet threat vastly overblown...and weren't the same people doing the "overblowing" the one's who today write crap speeches like Bush's recent screed. Repeating history, in this instance, means letting the same folks in the door who've already proven that they let their manias get in the way of rational analysis. This scare-mongering about the caliphate is an absolute sure bet that we'll push the least effective policies against al Qaeda possible, if the current war in Iraq that these phrasemongering geniuses came up with as an anti-bin Laden strategy is an example.

Also, what the hell happened to "The Axis of Evil"? Remember when Little Boy Bush thought that was a rational definition of "The Enemy". Everything that's happaned in the interim has shown what a shallow, impotent, crackpot concoction that was...especially since not a single one of the countries involved had anything at all to do with al Qaeda. Not even "clerico-fascist" Iran. These guys are nutcases, incapable of anything resembling rational foriegn policy. As for the Democrats' alternatives, I read stuff by policy wonks and experienced guys in the liberal camp everyday that beat this current approach hands down. Just putting Wesley Clark in charge would be an improvement of about 200% both in terms of credibility and basic strategy. And that's just a 5% solution in terms of the kinds of pragmatics available to any Democrat with reasonable brains and guts who held the Presidency.

I don't think the Democrats are great at politics, but the assumption that they couldn't put an effective anti-al Qaeda strategy together is absurd. Clinton had a more effective al Qaeda strategy than Bush did (or does IMHO), for Christ fucking sake.

Frankly, only an idiot would take the testimony of a bozo like Freeh over the Clinton-era narrative of the relatively prescient pre-9/11 strategist Richard Clarke. Clarke was calling it about as good as one could expect...Freeh was dithering and overseeing sheer incompetence. This guy couldn't even get a decent computer system for his people, and he's got a bill of goods on Clinton's lack of acumen and foresight ??? Also, while Clarke was focused on the al Qaeda, the neo-con strategists were obsessed with Iraq. You can chalk it up to their Sharonist politics, their desire to push American empire at any cost or whatever, but the folks in charge now had little or nothing to say about bin Ladenism at the time. Many of them were part of the adminisitration that did more to run from or give aid and comfort to our 9/11 era bad guys than any other, the Reaganites.

Also, I knew that some idiot would blame the spying in Cheney's office on Al Gore. Just knew it...

Freddy the Pig

Rich, I'm in Chicago so what do I know about Rockford (been to the water park, that's it) but believe me, in Chicago the subject of how to get your child into the magnet schools, the charter schools, the better parochial schools, the top private schools like Parker or Latin which charge Ivy League-level tuition, where to move out of the city to get a decent school system is an enormous and consuming one for parents and not just yuppies, either. There has been progress-- not least that the magnet public schools are a popular option-- but the Pershing Road bureaucracy has fought much of it tooth and nail and jumped on anything to close a charter school in a low-income area when it doesn't turn into Exeter overnight.

So thanks for trying to imply that I'm a conservative racist enemy of little black children, but it doesn't fly.


"give aid and comfort to our 9/11 era bad guys"
That would be BOTH Saddam and the Islamofascists, by the way. Now that's a helluva twofer to be strengthening militarily, but the Great Reagan and his "tough guy" advisors managed to pull it off, not to mention cutting and running when some slimeballs blew up our Marines in Lebanon. Lots of the same guys...real "tough on terror" when oil politics aren't on the radar screen.


Oh, and did anybody say "cut back on auto efficiency and ensure even greater dependence on an unstable Middle East" as another one of these pukes brilliant contributions to the safety and future of their fellow Americans.



Freddy, thanks for the background, but no, my intention wasn't to imply anything so drastic--just calling you on your over-the-top private school comment. Make whatever stereotypical claims you wish about teacher unions somehow ruining public schools, but unless you have some solutions prepared for the millions of ill-served children who aren't going to be affording even subsidized tuition at your list of desirables anytime soon, I don't think your criticisms hold much weight.

Freddy the Pig

So if I criticize the teachers' unions in any way, I am responsible for solving the entire Chicago school system this instant? Or I have no right to speak?

Thanks, Rich, spoken like a true City of Chicago Democratic Party functionary telling a taxpayer to pay up and shut up and, oh hey, vote Democratic!


Freddy, I'm not going to occupy any more thread space on this topic after this posting (my email address is visible, FYI), especially since you don't seem to want to take my words point blank. But I'll try once more: you weren't just criticizing teachers' unions (why would I care about that?); rather, you were blaming them for "forcing" Dems like you to move to private schools. The comment struck me as a blatantly false one, and actually part of the mindset that's contributing to the problem (if not "causing" it, ultimately) in Illinois--Chicago included.

Abbas-Ali Abadani


If the nuclear bogeyman scares, as well it should, it would be better if you tuned out the hysterical fear-mongering of the Rockfords and instead payed attention to the reasoned, articulate and knowledgable voice of someone like Subodh Atal.


He comes off as a bit of a Hindu nationalist at times, rather like Naipaul, but he knows his stuff on the subject of nuclear terrorism. I only wish that the topmost article linked to on that page was available online in its entirety.

Abbas-Ali Abadani

On the subject of fear and the nearly unlimited political capital it yields for any ruling class that is adept at wielding it as a weapon against its own populace see Corey Robin's "Fear: The History of a Political Idea"

He wrote an excellent article for a recent issue of The Nation that I linked to here before, but here it is again - "The Fear of the Liberals"

Also a must read is Marc Siegel's "False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear"

Part of what happens when we allow fear, overreaction and hysteria over terrorism to govern our lives is the disastrous lack of preparedness for other, much more foreseeable, preventable and likely disasters -- such as Katrina. See, for example, this article from the Sep. 5 edition of the LA Times entitled, "Why FEMA Was Missing In Action"

I also should have included a link to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in that last post. No better source for information on nuclear proliferation, dissemination and everything related.

Freddy the Pig

Okay, fine, Rich, read "forced" as "strongly encouraged by what I perceived, accurately or not (but I'm certainly not alone in perceiving it this way), to be the endemic crime, mediocre performance, poor physical plant and unresponsive, parent-hostile bureaucracy of the CPS." Feel any better? Sheesh!

I gotta say, I find it interesting that anybody who's responded to anything I said has gotten tripped up on things I see as side issues, and on hairsplitting like Rich. My major points had to do with the elections, last and next, and nobody's talking about them. Is that because you feel the next one's all but won, or all but lost?


"Is that because you feel the next one's all but won, or all but lost?"

Frankly, I don't know of any Dems who believe either. We're engaged in a tough fight, starting to strategize, etc. There's an awful lot of cartoonish stereotyping of Dems that's base on either hatred or self-hatred, from Marc to Rockford. It's a pit of hopelessness that styles itself as smart, but is fundamentally irrelevant to what's been building among Democratic activists over the past few years. Its a damned process. Slings and arrows be damned...either from the left or right. There's work to be done. Oh, and politics isn't ever easy or pretty.

Freddy the Pig

Quickly, Reg, here's the Freddy the Pig Plan for rebuilding the Democratic party:

1) Forget about the 08 presidential race for now. That'll be a personality contest and whoever wins wins. There will be a time to help that person but for now, it's too high level and quirky to affect meaningfully. All you do is feed the media's horserace sensibility.

2) Focus on electing ten new Democratic governors in the next four years.

The governors are presently about 3 to 2 Republican. And when you consider that 4 of the last 5 presidents were ex-governors, that's a problem of bench strength. Focusing on helping governors get elected will produce the crop of interesting new personalities out of which the next Clinton will rise.

Governors are also more moderate and bipartisan than senators or especially Congressmen in their safe, gerrymandered, play-to-the-extreme seats. (Even Bush was-- then.) They have to deliver and they do that by reaching across the aisle. Focusing on governors will create a power base in the Democratic party that has less Beltwayitis, is more down to earth, has a broader track record of interesting ideas and experiments behind it to run on, is less identified with the extremes, and-- this is the ultimate point-- more resistant, as Clinton was, to Rovian-Atwaterian smearing. Doing this may not win in 2008. But it could dominate the 2010s and 2020s, as the Republicans have dominated most of the era since the 1960s.

Have at it...

Andrew Gumbel

Karl Rove's problem is not his own mediocrity, but the mediocrity of the crew he has chosen to serve.

Bush would never have beaten Ann Richards without Rove. He would never have beaten John McCain without him. He would never -- and this is a true indictment of Bush's mediocrity -- have beaten the indigestible John Kerry without him. In pure political terms, these are not insignificant achievements, and the Dems (and the rest of us) are right to admire and fear him for them.

So, Rove has worked wonders with lousy material (and, it must be said, as Marc does, lousy opponents). The secondary problem, which stems from the first, is that Rove sees everything in terms of political jockeying. (What else, with this crew, is there to see things in terms of?) And the Bushies are so arrogant they think they can ignore reality altogether. So you're getting an exponential dose of spin: spin squared, or, if you will, bullshit multiplied by more bullshit. There's only one way for that pile to go in the end, and that's down down down.

Rove hitched his wagon to the Bushies because Bush senior, then chair of the RNC, took Rove under his wing after he shamelessly stole the presidency of the College Republicans in 1973. Loyalty, loyalty -- a much overrated political commodity. Rove would have done so much better with just about anybody else.

Rove saw W as Marc Hanna saw McKinley -- the blank slate on which he could write a whole new generation of Republican Party dominance. But McKinley, for all his lack of personal charisma, had some real political backbone and some concrete vision of what he wanted to achieve. (See Kevin Phillips rather excellent recent biography on exactly this point.) Bush, by contrast, is just an empty suit, and even Karl Rove can't fill it.

What we have is a classic ring in the 19th century sense -- call it the Bush Ring, just like the Tweed Ring in New York or the Gas Ring in Philly. And what is a ring, if not an encirclement of precisely nothing?

May they all rot in prison, which is where they belong.

(Hey, one can always hope.)


The so-called "Califate" is a joke. The idea that based on a stunt the country is in jeopardy of being taken over as in WWII is ludicrous. Only a paranoid fool would believe this.


Good perspective AG.

And Freddy, governors are good - your point's well taken. And you're mostly right about '08. But Senators and congressmen are also crucial. Hackett strikes me as a good example of the Dems starting to move in a positive direction in that area.

richard lo cicero

Freddy's prescription has much to reccomend itself but, as long as we are getting process wonky, we'll get "lousy" Presidential candidates as long as we keep anything like our current nominating process. I know Terry McCauluf wanted to grease the skids for Gore or Lieberman but the front loading just got out of hand. In 2004 the farmers of Iowa annointed Kerry which was then ratified by New Hampshire. After that it was all over. So a few percent of the country's population chose the nominee. And in the case of Iowa we know from exit polls that 75% of the caucus goers were anti-war. They picked Kerry over Dean because, in the exit polls, they said he was the most "Electable" and there you have it. As someone said just before the debates as Kerry's weaknesses were exposed, they should keep their day jobs and forget political prognostication!

I don't think much will come out of DC since the same old faces dominate there. But, just as the GOP insurgents turned things around, it will require a change out in the party's roots to get things going. And that is going on right now so I am hopeful. But then I've always been a sucker for happy endings in the movies. Hell, I even watch WEST WING!


Here's an idea for the Democrats: get a realistic, honest, fair policy on Palestine.

This little stone would take down several birds:

1. It would counter the allegation that Democrats are not a party of ideas.

2. It would offer a positive, assertive example of how the Democrats approach geopolitics DIFFERENTLY from the GOP. It would provide a realistic, constructive policy focus for the war against Islamic extremism by, among other things, winning support from "moderate" Arab states with the most at stake in the war against radical Islam.

3. It would stand a very good chance of success by forcing Israel to seek peace and compromise rather than territorial expansion.

4. The GOP response would surely be that the Democrats were "selling out our only true ally in the middle east'' which would leave the GOP vulnerable to the charge that they are putting Israel's interests before America's.

5. It would force the rawest opportunists such as Hillary out of their tragic policy isolation on Israel.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting this is a policy that would fly in the Democratic party today, or tomorrow or next year. But long-term, it's what will happen, or the party won't survive. So as long as we're casting out ideas on how to rescue this floundering party, I thought I'd toss that one into the ring....

Freddy the Pig

Gee, I'm sticking to what's vaguely realistic, but Richard L.C., you're certainly right-- the whole system of picking prez candidates is bizarre and not that effective. It works much better for the Republicans, who basically pick theirs before they even get to Iowa and merely ratify him in the primaries, than for the Democrats who actually have a wild clusterf--k of a race for about 3 weeks.

I don't mind the idea of a few states forcing the candidates to sell themselves house to house and town meeting to town meeting-- I just don't see why it has to be the same few states each time (Iowa and New Hampshire are hardly representative). Let's let a different group of states do it each time.

While we're at it, let's have the primaries in the summer. There's no good reason an election stretches on so ungodly long, and one bad consequence-- they cost a lot more. Money wouldn't completely go out of politics if the election was half as long, but some of it would.

As for Bunkerbuster, he doesn't seem to notice that Israel is in the process of implementing a solution for Palestine-- giving them their own territory and sitting back and watching as they destroy themselves. (He seems unaware that far from "territorial expansion," Israel is contracting at the moment.) His plan would maybe have the effect of hastening the exit of the Jewish population in the US from the Democratic Party, and depriving the Democrats of a lot of campaign cash, but other than that I doubt it would have much practical effect.

Abbas-Ali Abadani

Freddy the Pig: "As for Bunkerbuster, he doesn't seem to notice that Israel is in the process of implementing a solution for Palestine-- giving them their own territory and sitting back and watching as they destroy themselves."

A very telling post. I remember similar comments from Afrikaaners in the early 90's. "Let the blacks have their 'independence'. In a few years they'll be dining on the remains of their relatives in the streets of what used to be Jo'burg."

That sort of thing. An appropriate analogy, given the very close relationship between Israel and apartheid-era South Africa.


A few facts, Freddy P:
Aerial photographs by Israel's defence ministry have provided fresh evidence that the government is continuing its rapid expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank despite public statements to the contrary.

March 22, 2005
JERUSALEM -- Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government has given final approval for the building of 3,500 new housing units in Maaleh Adumim, already the most populous Jewish settlement in the West Bank, Israeli officials said yesterday. The expansion is the largest single housing project on occupied Palestinian territory in years and violates the terms of the US-conceived peace plan known as the ''road map."

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has vowed to keep expanding Israeli settlements on Palestinian land barely days after Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and four smaller West Bank settlements.
In a recent interview with the Jerusalem Post, Sharon stated his intention to expand the 400,000-strong Israeli population of the West Bank settlements, incorporate the larger blocs of Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim into the state of Israel, and to link the latter to Jerusalem.
‘There will be building in the settlement blocs,’ Sharon declared. ‘Each government since 1967…has seen strategic importance in specific areas [in the Palestinian territories]. I will build.’

It's telling that Freddy, who doesn't appear to be unintelligent, claims that Israel is "contracting." Apparently, he thinks Gaza and the West Bank are "Israel." In fact, as the excerpts and links above show, Israel is expanding in defiance of international law and ongoing agreements such as the "Road Map" negotiated via the U.S. and its allies.

Freddy's claim that Isreal is "sitting back and watching as they destroy themselves (they being the Palestinians) is equally without basis in fact:

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Israeli aircraft unleashed a barrage of missiles early today and fired artillery into the Gaza Strip for the first time, pushing forward with an offensive despite a pledge by Islamic militants to halt their recent rocket attacks against Israel.

JEBALIYA, Gaza Strip (CBS) Israeli aircraft launched three air strikes at buildings in the Gaza Strip early Saturday in the first air attacks since Israel withdrew from Gaza last week after 38 years of occupation, the army said.

While these attacks by Israel are apparently in retaliation for rocket attacks by Hamas, they nonetheless show that Israel isn't "sitting back" at all.

Abbas-Ali Abadani

Another example of the Israelis "sitting back and watching the barbarians rip themselves to pieces"



"Where was Edwards? Why wouldn't Kerry let him speak?"

Freddy, I do election work in an area where Edwards is very popular, and many local Democrats had exactly your question. The answer is sobering. Far from Kerry 'not letting him speak', the K/E campaign constantly sent Edwards to the exact areas you mention, to the suburban, exurban, and rural areas where he had lots of appeal.

And what happened? His appearances got ZERO coverage outside the specific areas where he campaigned.

After the election, in December or so, I watched a press panel that included Eleanor Clift and some other media poohbahs analyzing the campaign in the most cynical, horse-race, conventional wisdom way possible. Someone asked your same question, about the invisibility of Edwards.

In responding, Clift and another panelist actually mocked the K/E campaign for "sending him out to all those second-string cities, and OF COURSE he got no coverage"....
as if it were just a fact of nature, as if the complacent DC-NY Kool Kidz media "rules" had nothing to do with it.

In other words, unless the Edwards campaigned WITH Kerry, a tactic that would effectively halve the campaign's candidate resources, there's no coverage from big media. Because that's just the way it is.... from the lips of Big Media Lady herself.

Up until then I'd dismissed a lot of the post-election complaints about media treatment as whinging that prevented us from looking realistically at what we can do better to win. But that tipped me over an edge; I'm now convinced that Eleanor Clift and her kind pose as serious a structural obstacle as the system of legalized bribery known as campaign financing.

And the money/media realities do a LOT to stifle progressive, populist policy positions that could generate positive enthusiasm for Dems (as opposed to uneasy 'settling for' in response to Republian corruption and failures). It's easy to blame Dem. candidates themselves, and God knows I do a lot of that, but the realities of the fundraising requirements have so deeply corrupted the process that we're getting into a vicious circle.

The need for corporate money means no bold policies, which lowers already low enthusiasm of lower-income voters. Voting already varies directly with income in this country, despite a tick in the other direction from Rove's 'Bush is Jesus/gays are Satan' GOTV of fundamentalists.

Politicians looking at who actually votes make appeals more and more to them that already has, and the circle spins inward and downward...

richard lo cicero

Nell the national media ain't that important for coverage. How was Edwards covered in the LOCAL media? That's what you want since it usually is quite positive and devoid of the national media cybacism - these guys have heard the speech over and over while its still fresh and new to the locals.

The idea that all Dems have to do is get right with Palestine is ludicrous. The Carville-Stephanopolis maxim that "It's the Economy, Stupid!" is still right on and when you have a war like we do now, "It's Iraq, stupid" as well, Oh, and I'd add "it's Corruption, stupid", too. But Palestine, regardless of the merits, is as relevant as freeing Mumeia!

Freddy the Pig

"A very telling post. I remember similar comments from Afrikaaners in the early 90's."

Of course, by yelling "racist!," you avoid having to deal with the substantial difference between South Africa and Palestine: leadership. The Palestinians have quite possibly the worst on earth.

Unfortunately, like my own people-- some of the O'Pigs were from what is now Northern Ireland-- it may take the criminal gangs thinning their own herd before any other leadership has the opportunity to arise from the ashes. And that certainly seems to be underway-- the slaughtering part, I mean.

Think that's racism if you like. What about the Arafat regime or its present successors gives you confidence about the future?

"While these attacks by Israel are apparently in retaliation for rocket attacks by Hamas, they nonetheless show that Israel isn't "sitting back" at all."

That says it all, doesn't it? Somebody fires a missile into another country, and you blame them for being in the missile's way. Funny how that mindset only seems to apply to one tiny country. What could it possibly be about that one country that makes it different from others?

No racism to perceive in those statements, I'm sure.

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