Ok, Here’s Some Saturday Nite Fun

Random blogging can be a gas.

…especially when you run into a post like this one at an Okie blog that I had no idea had even blogrolled ASZ.


Drunken Cranium-style blogging coming later tonight…betcha can’t wait…

Sunday, February 27th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Calling Howard Dean

Many of you have commented on the threads I’ve started concerning the nature of Left Blogistan and what its “use-value” is and can develop to in the next years. I chose this quotation by Prairie Weather to start a thread today, because it crystalizes some forward-thinking we all need to participate in. Prairie Weather also Blogged about the Howard Dean ascendency to the DNC Chair on Thursday, and that might be a resource we can all use, given that part of the problem we are worrying is how Mr. Dean apprehends the challenges of working with Left Blogistan. PW worked from an article in the Nation that covered the Dean ascendency, so don’t miss that either. The problem with that article, though, is that it treated fitting Dean into the “politics-as-usual” Party hierarchy, and our task is much different.

How does Howard Dean ally himself with Left Blogistan to fully employ “politics-as-unusual” into the fray that will surely be shaped and framed, for most Americans, as the same old, same old?

This is a great conversation which is not so much about Dean as it is about us!

Can’t tell you how discouraged I got, as a Deanie, trying to participate in the Dean blogs and feeling that everyone was scared to death of (and frequently very tetchy about)any opinions which exhibited diversity, which varied from a kind of party line.

Brad DeLong, in his way, is urging bloggers to vet their links now and then, make sure we aren’t locked into group-think (though his context is different). I agree, but I also believe that, just as Dean is going to have to deal with diversity among his followers. That’s something he’s actually very good at, which is why so many “rednecks” in my area fell in love with him.

The most difficult thing for him will be to detach himself from the establishment — to keep his cherry –or learn to use them rather than get used by them. If he doesn’t, he’s a goner (and so are we).

Maybe bloggers should issue invites to Dean, blog by blog, to be an occasional guest-blogger. Just as long as he (or his sidekicks) don’t use the privilege to spout the D.C.’s favorite political cliches. No more of that, puh-lease!

It seems that PW’s comment is about diversity and how to nurture it in the confines of a rigid DNC machine. And I’d agree with PW that we in Left Blogistan, unlike those on the Wing Ding side, fear falling into lockstep. Still, PW is right to note that there are exclusionary tendencies in any group, as detected in the Dean Blog.

I like also PW’s reference to updating blogrolls, for these may be the backbone of any disciplining Left Blogistan has got. Even then, those included on any one blogroll are picked using criteria relatively unique to that Blog. Some are heavy on the news blogs like Kos, Atrios, etc. Others concentrate on special interest blogs, while still others may feature regional blogs, as we do here on ASZ. PW’s referencing of Brad DeLong’s call for vetting links is interesting in this context. I’ve noticed some of that out there, but was that merely in response to the Koufax Awards letting folks know about Blogs such as ours?

I’m most interested at this point in a couple things, one of which PW addresses. First, though, I am very cognizant of the need to continue the conversation concerning what Blogs are, how does their organizational and social structure work, what is the extent of cooperation and competition, and how is the formation of ideas enhanced or limited in Left Blogistan.

I am just as intrigued about getting this conversation, and then the strategic conversations, going with the Dean and DNC camps. Let us not kid ourselves: the Dean camp is being lauded over how they worked with Blogs and innovative communications, as referenced in the Nation article (my bolding for emphasis):

Dean’s plan to spend at least $11 million annually to beef up state parties will be his most expensive early initiative. But he has a lot of big ideas. “The tools that were pioneered in my [presidential] campaign–like blogs and Meetups and streaming video–are just a start,” he says. “We must use all of the power and potential of technology as part of an aggressive outreach to meet and include voters, to work with the state parties, and to influence media coverage.”

One of the most intriguing measures of the difference between Dean and his DNC predecessors is the excitement his election has generated among people with big ideas about strategy and policy. Internet innovators like Zach Exley and Zephyr Teachout have already made smart proposals for how to push the technological envelope [see Katrina vanden Heuvel's February 13 "Editor's Cut" weblog at www.thenation.com]. But where Dean could cause the greatest stir is in championing bold new approaches that will again make the Democrats a party of ideas.

Yes, Dean is already talking about some of the issues we’ve talked about here and over at www.publicorgtheory.com. But, hell, I’m not even sure of how to get hold of the Dean camp so that they actually will read my email, much less respond. Any suggestions?

As to strategy and idea building in concert with the DNC, I think small-group regional meetings seem good, and the structure of Liberally Drinking might work to support such a move. I would want it similarly casual and non-hierarchical, surely. And then maybe reported on by all bloggers in attendance.

I volunteer. Any other takers?

Saturday, February 26th, 2005 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized

Well, It’s One, Two, Three, What Are We Bloggin’ For…

Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
But I’m out of Left Blogistan

(For the day…enjoy yours…open thread time. What’s in your wallet?)

Saturday, February 26th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Regarding the Kansas AG’s Witch Hunt

Found this comment on the blog for Ron Reagan Jr. and Monica Crowley’s new MS-GOP show, Connected Coast-to-Coast, regarding the Kansas AG’s order to turn over abortion records:

Isn’t it interesting that when the prosecutor came and seized Rush Limbaugh’s records (for taking massive amounts of narcotics), the far right was outraged. Now, it seems to be okay to seize medical records? —BMC

Indeed. Apparently Arizona drug rehab centers don’t censor incoming news.

Saturday, February 26th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Medicare / Medicaid – The Social Security Bait and Switch

For about the eleventeenth time, I’m going to opine that the “third rail” political nature of Social Security hasn’t fundamentally changed. At the end of the day, there may be some tweaks and tuning to the program, but no major phase-out plan posing as “reform” will go forward. George Bush knows it, Bill Frist knows it, Denny Hastert knows it, and I know it. But for all of the good work that Left Blogistan has done in exposing Plan Bush, in the dark of night I start to thinking that maybe we’ve taken our collective eye off of the bigger picture.

I keep reading stories like this…

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration believes it can improve services for Medicaid beneficiaries and help the program’s shaky bottom line by caring for more elderly and disabled patients in their homes or through community-based programs. [Note the lack of the use of the term, "faith based" - Ed.]

…President Bush’s 2006 budget proposal seeks $500 million over five years to move some of the disabled out of institutions and into these community programs. For patients who make the switch, the federal government would pay the entire cost of care in the first year and then split the cost with states – anywhere from 50 to 70 percent – in subsequent years…

…and I continue to think that BushCo’s real end game is to phase out a true problem child for both state and federal governments – Medicare and Medicaid. Just as a refresher, Medicare provides assistance to (primarily) the disabled and elderly after they’ve exhausted their own personal assets, and Medicaid provides assistance (primarily) to the poor who had no assets to begin with.

$100 million per year — I had to chuckle when that number sunk into my non-financially oriented mind. First off, a half billion dollars over five years is a drop in the Medicare sea of red ink, and will do little more than cover the salaries of the bureaucrats who will need to be hired to justify cutting off Medicare payments to the affected constituency. The burden for covering the cost of care for these patients will then shift either to the states, or to the families of the patients.

State governments are already busting their budgets in trying to keep Medicaid programs afloat. I’ve blogged before that Medicaid is, for obvious reasons, low-hanging political fruit and an easy target for either devastating cuts or total elimination. Medicare is only a branch or two higher on the fruit tree.

In reading the timeframe expressed in the above cited article (one year), I believe BushCo’s going to move exceptionally quickly in gutting both programs, using a faux Social Security fight for cover. And why not? The political risk / benefit equation is tilted dramatically in their favor.

Listen, I can’t get inside these people’s heads to figure out what’s really going on, but with every alarming story I read on Medicare / Medicaid, it makes more sense.

From a Medicare perspective, it’s made more sense since the advent of Elder Care tax deductible accounts, and the relatively recent offering of long term care insurance products. BushCo wants to shift the risk (“ownership”, if you will) of nursing home care from the government to insurance companies, and force as many people as possible into setting up Elder Care accounts for the exact same reason as they want to privatize Social Security – float some more schwag to their investment company sugardaddies.

Medicaid is even easier. The primary consumers of Medicaid are the working poor. The primary consumers of Medicaid simply don’t vote in overwhelming numbers. Yes, dramatically cutting or eliminating Medicaid would touch off a social service shitstorm. But let me reiterate – the primary consumers of Medicaid simply don’t vote in overwhelming numbers. So tax-cut-and-spend politicians aren’t going to really care; in fact, I can see them shifting a portion of Medicare / Medicaid payroll deductions to plug Social Security holes.

The more I hear about the dire straits of Medicare / Medicaid, the more I’m convinced that some variation of the theory I’ve described is the real strategy behind the Social Security smokescreen.

If this plays out the way I think it might, Left Blogistan is going to have to “rapid respond” as quickly as we have on Social Security. The problem is, there’s a whole lot more nuance to Medicare / Medicaid, and any fight to save the intent of either program is going to require exponentially more work. If, as I suspect, there’s a fight to be had, we need to think a bit more strategically on the issues. The counter arguments and message have to be fine tuned before the message is needed.

This time, we’re not going to have the luxury of “making it up as we go along” as we did with Social Security, because there is no built-in constituency (retirees) or heavyweight advocacy group (AARP) to lean on.

The Medicare / Medicaid fight needs to be battle-planned as if socially responsible progressives in Left Blogistan are going to be the only significant, broad-based organized resistance to the BushBorgs. Because that might indeed be the case.

Saturday, February 26th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

All Your Airspace Are Belong to Us

You might have missed this – Canada has refused to sign onto the U.S. missile defense shield initiative (Star Wars). And guess what the American ambassador to Canada said to Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin?

“Who cares? We’ll invade your airspace if we want to.” Well, ok, not his exact words but close enough to the official transcripts. Here’s a story from The Globe and Mail:

Ottawa — Prime Minister Paul Martin said yesterday that Canada has to be involved in any U.S. decision to shoot down an enemy missile in Canadian airspace, but the American ambassador said the country had given up its right to be involved in any such decision.

Paul Cellucci, the U.S. ambassador, made the remarks just after Mr. Martin officially announced Canada would not join the controversial missile-defence shield.

“We will deploy,†Mr. Cellucci said. “We will defend North America.

“We simply cannot understand why Canada would in effect give up its sovereignty, its seat at the table, to decide what to do about a missile that might be coming towards Canada. 

Maybe it’s because Canadians perceive the Bush administration as a pack of INTERNATIONAL JACKALS? Ya think? Anyway, Timmy (any relation to Horton?) at Voice in the Wilderness had this to say:

What a fascinating principal the Bush administration is applying. If we don’t sign onto their every boondoggle, it is tacit approval for them to invade our sovereignty at whim. If we don’t increase port security to their satisfaction, can we expect the U.S.S. Nimitz to be posted outside Halifax Harbour?

Did you miss the memo on Iraq, Tim? The BushCo cabal is getting pretty good at doing whatever the fuck they want, sovereign foreign nations or not. You also may have missed the accountability memo, Tim – as in, they have none. Or at least they don’t think they do.

Keep your government honest, Timmy. Gawd knows we didn’t.

Update, 7:20 – RossK’s got the full snark 411 (from a Canuckistan perspective) on Ambassadors Yin and Yang at Gazetteer.

Friday, February 25th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Rising From the Ashes

And you thought Guckert was a goner. Heh. It’s like a George Romero script – just when you think the boogeyman has been vanquished, and a Celine Dion song is hitting a life-affirming creshendo, a hand pokes through a freshly filled grave and grabs the hero by the balls.

Will Bunch @ Attytood (the Philadelphia Daily News’ answer to “Bloggermann“) brings a couple of stories on the continuing Guckert saga to the table today:

“Jeff Gannon” still wants your money

Comrade Jeff Gannonski and Moscow on the Potomac –  – (actually, this particular piece is more on the Bush / Putin “free press” dustup yesterday than another screed on Guckert, but it’s a good read anyway.)

I am absolutely flabbergasted that James Guckert continues to keep his story alive. Or perhaps more succinctly, that the Rovemasters allow his story (and him) to be kept alive. Maybe he’s figured out that’s the best way to stay alive — continue to be an attention whore.

If you recall, back when PimpMyPOTUSgate first broke, Guckert took his Gannon site offline with words to the effect that “the voice has been silenced”. Ok. So that would explain why jeffgannon.com has morphed from its previous incarnation to a blog. And, a blog in which JimmyJeff is now whining for support.

It would be interesting to see how many Freepers step up and click on his PayPal button. Actually, it might even been some sweet justice – Guckert’s been fleecing the neocon flock for so long that it’s somewhat amusing he’s now making it official and making them all pay for the privilage. And keeping his name front and center at the same time. Come to think of it, if it will help him keep his name in the news, maybe I’ll go pony up a few bucks myself.

You go, James. With friends like Ann Coulter, you need all the help you can get.

Friday, February 25th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

In Case You’d Forgotten, It’s the Happy Planet.

The US government via its myrmidons in the Department of Defense continue to poison the planet under the lying umbrella cover of creating freedom and democracy.

Not just in 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, but for decades. Rumsferatu, et al are the party goers that bring the world gifts that keep on giving. And they’re using your credit cards and bank accounts and slave wages and your children’s college fund and your parents’ food budget to do it. And you vote for them. Don’t tell me you don’t. Denial is not just a river in Egypt, ya know.

Do you DU? (pronounced “dee-you”) Of course you do, even though it’s easier to think that it’s “them” doing it. DU is depleted uranium. It’s rained down upon Iraq and Afghanistan and Somali and Kosovo. Yes. There too. And if it weren’t for your buck three-eighty, the Strangeloves in the DOD wouldn’t be able to kill and maim and mangle today and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

And don’t tell me we’ve already done the depleted uranium topic to death. Since the US is still doing it to the “other”, I’m thinking we haven’t nearly worn the subject out. Some people are still screaming at the top of their lungs about it, but Peter Jennings is doing UFOlogy on network television … earnestly of course … and the rest of us aren’t feeling too well.

So, before I head off to work, where I will once again drag my share of rocks up the side of the Pharoah’s pyramid so I can put food on my family, I thought I’d leave you with a few DU reminders. They’re still doing it, and they’re using your blood, sweat and tears, and those of your children to rain down death upon people like YOU whenever and wherever they want.

Dr. Helen Caldicott

Poisonous Legacy

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium


Dennis Kyne

What happened to the test tube paradigm?

Rolling Stone

Life Magazine

Friday, February 25th, 2005 by Kate Storm |
Category: Uncategorized

Dear Howard Dean:

Can I call you Howard? Thanks.

Man, you are in the news lately. Evidently Liberal groups are keeping an eye on you to make sure you’re going to keep your backbone, or so say many newspapers this morning, including Newsday. Perhaps they are secretly afraid you’ll becoming absorbed by that polite debating society that is the Democratic Party. Perhaps they are worried you will lose some of the bite that infused your voice during that dynamic campaign you waged last year. Heck, they’re worried that you’ll forget to break out into the scream, maybe, even that the “scream” was a fake? Holy Conspiracy Theory, Batman! Perhaps those worries are legitimate, but you’ve got a bigger one.

Remember all that money you raised through harnessing the internet? Well, we’re still here, the Bloggers who helped energize your campaign and the Presidential race, and we’re just not that easy to understand, and shy of taking the harness to be simply “used” in a campaign. Still, we’re contributing daily, often driving the debate. DailyKos and dozens of the writers of Left Blogistan, for instance, have spearheaded the drive against Mr. Bush’s Social Security boondoggle, which should be hereafter known as the Wall Street Welfare Act (Kos used a similar term more than two months ago in describing this issue). The Bloggers of Left Blogistan are also responsible for exposing the Republican embarrassment that is Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert and the fake news that is so rampant in far more right wing sources than Talon News, which has evidently shut down.

To borrow phraseology from the radical gay movement, we are here, we are BLOGS, and we aren’t going anywhere. But here’s the news: you aren’t liable to be going anywhere either without starting and vigorously maintaining the discussion with us. Yeah, you need us, both the big Blogs like DailyKos and DemocraticUnderground and Atrios Eschaton and MyDD, and also the less major players, like our own Allspinzone and Blondesense and Jesus’ General and Suburban Guerilla, and even specialized or more “literary” Blogs, such as Rittenhouse Review or PublicOrgTheory. And you don’t just need these folks because of the hard news they develop. You need us because of our potential to develop and popularize themes, to create groundswell, to raise money, and to raise the energy level of the progressives in this country. But first you have to understand us. And in discussions here and at www.publicorgtheory.com over the last couple days it has become vitally clear that understanding the morals and motivations and organizational workings of Left Blogistan enough to creatively and productively employ our work to full advantage.

Howard, you need to start the dialogue and participate in it, not necessarily online as a commenter, and certainly not by starting your own blog, or hiring a few good bloggers, but through grass roots connections. You and several of your staffers need to come out and talk to us face-to-face. As such, I recommend you make the Drinking Liberally Tour. And noticing that a huge group of the Blogs I mentioned above are from Philadelphia, I suggest you send some folks to Philly to take the pulse of the Blog world. Of course, you’re a Doctor, so you’re practiced in taking pulses.

Remember this, though, because you and the Democratic Party run a huge risk of figuring out the dynamism of Left Blogistan through so-called experts who describe us falsely. We are not a pack of wolves, we are not one voice, and we are not a nameless horde. We do not work in our pajamas, often, and we are not disconnected nodes just yammering. We are definitely not sheep, as the Wing Dingers of the Right so often seem to be. We’ve flexed our power and we’ve shown you what we can do. It is incumbent upon you to figure us out, because you’re going to want us by your side in the next couple years.

Oh, and as a special favor, can you guys give extra attention to helping get rid of Senator Santorum in the ’06 election?



Folks, what else do you think Mr. Dean needs to know about Left Blogistan?

Friday, February 25th, 2005 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized

The Not-So-Secret War on Choice

An update from the front lines of the culture war:

No battle is or has been more visible than that of abortion rights. Under a cloak of secrecy, the state of Kansas has opened a new front in the battle…

Kansas Attorney General Seeks Late-Term Abortion Records

TOPEKA, Kan. Feb 25, 2005 –— The Kansas attorney general, a staunch opponent of abortion, has demanded the medical records of nearly 90 woman and girls who had late-term abortions, saying he needs the material to investigate crimes…

Let me translate from old German: “Ve vant ze records, Fritz.”

This whole story is a chilling reminder that, over the next four years, America is going to be jackbooted by the legions of Bushbotsâ„¢ who lurk in every nook and cranny in the country. The rabid fundie pro-life MEN who are mostly behind this movement will stop at nothing, including raising the specter of wholesale intimidation of an entire class of women by demanding the government be privy to private medical records.

The court situation in Kansas is mixed, so it’s hard to predict the chances of success of the Kansas AG’s demand. But what is clear is that he’s 1) on a campaign of intimidation, and 2) embroiled in a good old fashion witchhunt that he has to inherently know is not going to be decided locally in Kansas. The issue will most certainly land before SCOTUS at some point in the future.

Chip, chip, chip…

Update, 1:30PM – Atrios writes more on the topic.

Update, 9:45PM – Ron Reagan Jr. thought enough of us to cite this post at the blog for the recently launched MS-GOP show, Connected Coast-to-Coast.

Friday, February 25th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized
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