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October 11, 2005

Democrats: alas for the poor movie mogul

You know those Democrats, lying awake nights worrying about endangered species. The latest object of their insomnia is wealthy movie studios and record labels. Eight Congressional Democrats have joined forces with twelve Republicans in another move to promote the "Broadcast Flag," a copy prevention scheme for digital media that would make it against the law -- and seek to make it impossible -- for you to tape a TV show.

Of course you expect this sort of thing from Republicans, but there may be a couple of four-year-olds somewhere in the country who are still surprised when Democrats, representing poor districts in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Chicago, Pittsburgh and San Antonio, go to the mats for the swimmin'-pool-'n'-movie-star crowd in Bel Air.

The bare-faced eight joined their Republican colleagues in signing an "open letter" to the chair of the House subcommittee on telecommunications and the Internet, urging that the "broadcast flag" be written into law.

This is Round Two for the studios and the labels; they got knocked flat in Round One, when the FCC tried to mandate "broadcast flag" observance in cable boxes and TVs. That was back in 2003; two years later, last May to be exact, a Federal court issued the FCC a stinging rebuff, bluntly stating that the agency had exceeded its authority. But the intellectual-property totalitarians don't discourage easily. What an agency can't do, Congress can -- and probably will, since the two parties are both thoroughly convinced of the need to protect wealth and power.

So here are the infamous eight, the outriders of the Intellectual Property Inquisition:




Median household income, $ thousands

Edolphus Towns

New York

10 (Brooklyn)


Eliot Engel

New York

17 (Bronx)


Michael Doyle


14 (Pittsburgh)


Charles Gonzalez


20 (San Antonio)


Bart Gordon


6 (Nashville suburbs)


Bobby Rush


1 (Chicago)


Albert Wynn


4 (Washington suburbs)


Frank Pallone

New Jersey

6 (Shore suburbs)


Kind of an interesting mix, very characteristic of the contemporary Democratic party. There are old urban soup hounds like Towns, Engel, Rush, Gonzalez and Doyle, representing fairly poor districts, and thus themselves available on the cheap. Then there are glossier, more upscale, more suburban Democrats, presumably in good standing with the soccer moms or whoever the current reference group is. Even among these, though, Gordon of suburban Nashville is the only one who could colorably claim to be representing his constituency; you could probably meet a fair number of record-label executives at his fund-raisers.

Burn the biggest lice first

Organized labor must focus its fury if it wants to be feared.

Let's be specific: defeat the re election bids of, say, the weakest, most venal 5 of the CAFTA 15.


By fully funding "peace and jobs" independent runs in these five districts. Split the bastards' base. Run a charismatic martyr, maybe a long haired peace and foliage gal, or a minority bobcat, or a lunchpailer. Run them straight onto the ballot with all the money you've got and find celebrities to be their campaign managers. How hard can it be to find five Hollywood or sports ex-spotlight hounds willing to set up camp in these districts, for a few months of national attention?

Nothing constructive about this at all, of course -- that's the beauty of it. It should be seen as pure punishment: "Regardez, all you big-D whores out there... this may be your fate next time. Wise up or we're coming for ya."

Real political short run consequence on the downside: Zero. More beauty. This is not a spoiler op. The Dems, short of a second '29 in '06, won't retake control of the House anyway. A slightly nearer miss is no better then a mile, with all those yellow dogs on the big-D side of the looking glass anyway.

Major consideration here: don't fall for the age-old Gomper-room BS getting batted around these days by little Jimbo Hoffa, to wit, that organized labor ought to "reward Republican friends." Skiing down that crud slide is nothing but folly. No: we must focus our limited funds where it can have maximum effect, croaking a few of our fondest, nearest enemies.

In case anybody doesn't remember the CAFTA 15, here they are, with my picks for the initial carthago-delenda list in boldface:

Melissa Bean, Illinois (8th District):
Jim Cooper, Tennessee (5th District);
Norm Dicks, Washington (6th District);
Henry Cuellar, Texas (28th District);
Ruben Hinojosa, Texas (15th District);
William Jefferson, Louisiana (2nd District);
Jim Matheson, Utah (2nd District);
Gregory Meeks, New York (6th District);
Dennis Moore, Kansas (3rd District);
Jim Moran, Virginia (8th District);
Solomon Ortiz, Texas (27th District);
Ike Skelton, Missouri (4th District);
Vic Snyder, Arkansas (2nd District);
John Tanner, Tennessee (8th District);
   and... and.. and... egregious beyond the power of words to express:
Edolphus Towns, New York (10th District).

October 12, 2005

Not so strange bedfellows

Michael Scherer, over at Salon magazine, is chortling about the flak Bush is getting from his True Believers over the Miers nomination. He writes:

"With only 44 seats in the Senate, Democrats have the ability to carp and grandstand, but they have no real power to defeat a nominee, barring the nomination of an ideological zealot who would rally support for a filibuster. Rather, it is the Republican senators and the right-wing special interests who have the power to defeat the president's nominee."

Indeed. And no doubt some of Bush's normally reliable Republican Senators will bolt -- with a wink from the White House, and an eye on the poor bait-and-switched fetus fans in the gallery. These poor fuddled folk will thus continue to believe that they have paladins ready to break a lance in their behalf within the Republican party.

But Bush will still get Miers through, because the Democrats will help him out. Every Republican who takes his stand in the anti-abortion Alamo will find his place taken by an obliging Democrat, who will be quite prepared to explain to his or her vote for Miers on the grounds of lesser-evillism -- I mean, hey, think what an ogre Georgie might have nominated! So the Dems cover George's ass, and he covers theirs.

In fact there will be no nose-holding on the Democratic side of the Senate floor; Miers absolutely represents the bipartisan consensus. You can count on her to be sedulously sympathetic to large corporations, and in particular to be a downright Robespierre in the intellectual-property Reign of Terror; you can count on her to approve when they take away whatever pathetic shreds of civil liberty we still have, in the name of national security; and you can count on her to leave the abortion business alone. These are matters on which Senate Republicans and Democrats are in complete agreement, and the solons will find a way to slide her skinny rump onto the Supreme Bench and come out of it with every one of 'em smelling like a rose.

Footnote: It's pretty hilarious to see how flummoxed and dead-in-the-water the "progressive" sector of the Democratic Party is on this nomination. has been reduced to putting up a form on their website plaintively asking whether anybody out there knows anything about her.

October 13, 2005

Coming soon to a progressive party near you

If you want to know what Democrats would do if they ever got back into office, you can just look at Tony Blair. The Clinton clone has just offered a new package of measures to combat -- you guessed it -- "terrorism." Among the highlights:

"...the government wants the power to detain terror suspects for three months without charge ... and make it an offense to glorify or encourage terrorism."

That last item seems particularly pregnant, being directed quite specifically at political speech.

Lord Carlile, the government's own legal monitor, noted that the three-month detention period would violate the European Human Rights Act. Well, at least our Democrats wouldn't have that problem here.

Deluge or delusion

Donkeys take a lot of beatings, and even so, just the slightest scent of distant prickle-pears has 'em capering in their harnesses. A case in point bloomed into print today in the New York Times:

" Suddenly, Democrats see a possibility in 2006 [for] a sweeping midterm election"

A return to Democratic control of Congress? Yup, that's the dream. And not just a half-ass set-up, not just a new razor's edge Senate; no madame no, there's to be a House takeover too, "an anti-incumbent, 1994-style" tsunami.

Dream on.

The donkey won't see such good times till Hillary is burnt at the stake. And if you don't believe me, here's the gray lady's squint :

"New polling .... shows the approval rating for Congressional Republican leaders at 32 percent with 52 percent disapproving, a sharp deterioration .... "

Sounds good, right? Well, guess what:

"The ratings of Democratic leaders stood at 32 percent approval, 48 percent disapproval."

I.e. 32 versus 32 approving, 52 vs 48 disapproving -- where's the hee-haw in that? To think this ridiculous less-than-a-dime's-worth of difference is the stuff donkey dreams are made of.

Ah, but there's more hope on the horizon:

"48 percent say they want a Democratic-led Congress compared to 39 percent who prefer Republican control."

Any well-funded bunch of corporate PR types can drown that lead in Grover Norquist's bathtub, surely? But let's move on.

So what if the Republicans are "swimming in a culture of cronyism and corruption"? Is that enough to get it done? Or do the D's need (as the Times suggests) their own "Contract With America"? And if so -- just what are the "broad themes" to be ?

Well, the Times obligingly revels a top secret Demo poop sheet. The bullet points:

"energy independence"
"broader access to health care and college education"
"government reform"
"economic security"
[insert trumpet fanfare here]
"Iraq and national security."

Now naturally that last theme is the jazzerciser, right ? -- since all the others are as venerably stale and eminently defeatable as they were back in the 94 98 and 02 platforms.

So -- how about that Iraq thing? Will it be -- go for it -- a cry of "out of Iraq"?

Well, the Times isn't coming flat out of the closet on this -- probably because there's no closet to come out of. They write: "Iraq is the most divisive issue for the Democrats." I'll translate for ya: Peace now on the Euphrates ... Not gonna happen.

Oh, before you beam off -- Here's a final money graph from this same NYT article: it seems Democrats have a "long-running argument" going on amongst themselves whether to "offer alternatives or simply critique the Republicans." Seems it's this Gordian knot that so far, anyway, has limited the party's collective war bray to this:

"America Can Do Better."

Well. Yes. Indeed she can.

October 14, 2005

And... we have a Hunger Chancellor!

A few days ago I explained elsewhere why I think the Republicans will happy to hand over the store in 2008 to a Democratic "Hunger Chancellor." There's no shortage of Democratic applicants for the job, but now we have one who appears to have accepted the Republican nomination as Democratic candidate, namely Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico.

The New York times today reports that Richardson will traveling on an Air Force plane to North Korea in order to browbeat Strange Leader Kim Jong Il about his nuclear program. It's official, it's not official, he's an envoy, he's a private citizen -- nobody understands it, but whether he manages to achieve anything or not it will help the Republicans in '06: if he succeeds Bush will take the credit and if he fails Bush will blame the stupid Democrat.

Richardson's fellow Democrats are presumably gnashing their teeth over this stunt, which may possibly bolster Richardson's chances of being the nominee in '08 at the expense of the party's prospects in '06.

But nobody ever gets excommunicated from the Democratic Party, for anything. Will Rogers' comment that "I don't belong to an organized political party -- I'm a Democrat" is true in a much deeper sense than he intended. The Democratic Party isn't really a party at all, in the sense of being an organization with a political program and some modicum of party discipline. Rather, it is a loose collective of individual opportunists, an ad hoc camel train of unconnected entrepreneurs temporarily banded together against desert marauders, owing each other no loyalty and in fact perfectly willing to stab each other in the back first chance they get.

People who write software have an old joke: when you tell them about something strange their program is doing, they reply, That's not a bug, it's a feature! Even so with the Democrats: their lack of principle, their not being about anything, is not a flaw; rather, it's their essence, the very life blood and raison d'etre of the outfit.

October 19, 2005

Democrats with machine guns (and knives in their back)

This year, it's all about Marines.

Yep, the Great White Hope for the Democratic party, according to Daily Kos among others, is something called "Fighting Democrats". Meaning former soldiers running for Congress on the Democratic ticket.

The most prominent of these men-on-jeepback is of course Paul Hackett. I don't quite know what to make of Hackett yet. He has gotten closer to advocating a rapid pullout from Iraq than any other aspiring Democratic officeholder, but if he 's serious he needs to be a little less coy about it.

Anyhow, whether he's the real goods or just another flash in the pan, he's getting quite a shafting from his party. After a surprisingly good (though losing) effort in a special Congressional election back in August, Hackett set his sights on the Senate. Seems that he made the rounds of all the usual consiglieri and capi -- in particular, the vile (up)Chuck Schumer, godfather of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) -- pronounced discock, I think. Hackett also sought, and says he received, the blessing of Ohio congressman Sherrod Brown, who seems to have been a good enough soldier -- metaphorically speaking -- that the Ohio party organization considered the Senatorial nomination his if he wanted it. Hackett says Brown told him, go ahead.

That was then, this is now. With the spectacular implosion of the Bush administration, and the Democrats' new-found optimism about 2006, they don't want a sacrificial lamb any more, a la McGovern; they want a real Democrat in there, not some loose cannon. So voila, Brown now wants the nomination after all. And Don Carlo Schumer seems to be telling Hackett to bow out gracefully and let Brown have it.

It's not at all clear to me yet whether this tussle is about anything more than Brown's and Hackett's career plans. I'm skeptical about Hackett, who seems a little too good to be true. But I've been wrong before.

Here's one thing would convince me: Hackett loses the nomination to Brown, who will certainly waffle and temporize on the Iraq issue. So Hackett runs a third-party campaign based on bringing the troops home right away. Now wouldn't that be fun.

October 21, 2005

I got your litmus, right here

Read my virtual lips: universal single-payer health care. What Hillary should have done, and did the opposite instead.

If you're a lefty -- even if you're a liberal -- hell, even if you're a "progressive" -- you've wanted this since you morphed from a polliwog. Don't try to deny it. You know you want it.

So let's nail our colors to the mast on this one. If we can't insist on this, then we might as well crawl into a hole and pull it in after us.

As far as the flea-cracking details go... leave that to the Ivy wonks. But let's resolve to run some third-party wild man against any Dembo who won't flat out endorse single payer... period.... no exceptions. Anybody who waffles on this one -- let's close the iron door on him.

Or, ahem, her.

Honor among thieves? Fuhgeddaboutit

I can't help feeling a little sorry for poor Freddy Ferrer, the Senor Wences of New York's Democratic party, whose thankless job it is to be steamrolled in this year's mayoral election by pipsqueak caudillo Mike Bloomberg.

According to the New York Times, Freddy is getting little help from Bill and Hill, who are, according to the Times, "the unofficial royal couple of New York Democrats" -- and what a sad commentary on New York Democrats that is.

El Diario, not surprisingly, has a little more detail on the event reported by the Times, and quotes Clinton as saying "In 1991, [Ferrer] supported a Southern governor, from a small state, named Bill Clinton. A lot of people in the Bronx and New York didn't know who Bill Clinton was or where Arkansas might be" -- and they wish they still didn't, he might have added.

Funny how Clinton has this impulse to inadvertent and ill-advised self-disclosure. Who hearing these words could help contrasting the actual support Bill got from Freddy, with the derisory, pro-forma efforts of the "royal couple" on Freddy's part? AP adds the telling detail that Clinton's myrmidons didn't want a stage or loudspeakers.

Of course, Freddy probably doesn't really mind either -- everybody, including Freddy himself, has written this election off, and is perfectly willing to let Mike have his four more years. After all, he paid for them, fair and square. The real-estate business, which owns both parties in New York, couldn't be happier with Bloomberg. Even elements of the New York kleptocracy that are normally aligned with the Democratic Party -- like the municipal employees' union DC 37 -- have actually downright endorsed the tiny poison-toad.

The Village Voice's amusing headline, "Billionaire Buys Union", neglected to point out that the union in question was for sale at a bargain price, as is the case, come to think of it, for every other circus act in the Democrats' "big tent".

October 22, 2005

The power of prayer

After posting an earlier comment about poor Freddy Ferrer's pro-forma New York mayoral campaign, I found myself trying to remember whether Freddy had ever found any issue on which to differentiate himelf from the Bloomberg administration. Finally I remembered one: the world-historical Pay to Pray fracas.

Sunday parking was always free in New York -- one of many outrageous subsidies to drivers, who constitute a minority of New Yorkers -- until 2002. In that year, a decree went forth from Mike Bloomberg to the effect that Sunday parking would henceforth cost as much as parking on Jehovah's six workdays. This is actually one of the very few constructive things Bloomie has done.

Enter the City Council, in defense of... religion. (I'll be back in just a sec, when this little paroxysm of laughter passes.)

--There, that's better. The Council, apprently concerned that our municipal government's hard-earned reputation for comprehensive idiocy might be marred by a single random act of good sense, passed a bill restoring the Sunday-parking SUV subsidy, and Bloomie vetoed it.

Well, there are no flies on Freddy Ferrer. He seen his opportunity, and he took it. No way could he disagree with Iron Mike on anything substantive. But Sunday parking, well, talk about a hot button.

So the most Christian knight Don Fernando saddled up Rocinante and rode forth against the Sunday parking rule, armed with the immortal phrase "pay to pray."

This is quite perfect, really. The Democrats would like to connect with "people of faith," or so we're told. Now there are lots of things that people of faith are supposed to be interested in -- feeding the hungry, for example, and setting the captive free. But those are a little problematic. Driving to church, though -- now there, if you like, is a twofer.

October 26, 2005

Dept. of weak reeds

Daily Kos is telling us that "stem cell research is the perfect wedge issue."

Let me see if I've got this straight -- the Democrats are ging to get back into office because people are really worked up about stem cell research?

Don't get me wrong -- it all seems like way-cool science and terrifically interesting and promising and all that. But even so... there are quite a few topics much closer to the forefront of people's awareness than stem cell research. How odd that the Democrats can't find anything new or different to say about anything less esoteric.

About October 2005

This page contains all entries posted to Stop Me Before I Vote Again in October 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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