Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

More on the Poll

I mentioned before that I am apparently listed somewhere as a Republican, causing GOP Chairman Marc Racicot to send me a letter. I asked my readers if I should fill it out with far-right (to pull the GOP further from the center) or far-left answers (to confuse them). Upon reflection and inspection, I don’t think it matters. The “poll” does not have many questions that the GOP doesn’t already know the answers that registered Republicans will give.

Instead, the poll seems designed to make people think these are potential issues to the GOP, drumming up a little bit of fear–fear that the Republicans will move left, but more importantly, fear that the things that the Democrats would implement the policies that the pollees clearly oppose. This fear likely encourages the polled Republicans to send the poll back to the GOP, which I suspect dramatically increases the odds of the pollee sending a check at the same time. Rather clever, actually.

Here are some examples, with a little Fisking (full poll here):

1.1. Do you support President Bush’s initiatives to promote the safety and security of all Americans?
No, I’m sure 95% of Republicans polled are, like me, solidly against promoting safety or security, much less both.

2.3 Should small businesses be encouraged to grow and hire more workers?
No, this should be opposed at all costs.

3.1 Do you support President Bush’s plan to make our schools more accountable to parents and to restore local control of education?
Schools accountable to parents? Nonsense!

3.2 Should students, teachers, principals and administrators be held to higher standards?
No, standards must be reduced as far as possible.

3.3 Do you agree that teaching our children to read and increasing literacy rates should be a national priority?
No, if they can read, they’ll get an education and then be much more likely to vote Democratic.

5.1 Do you think U.S. troops should have to serve under United Nations’ commanders?
Yes, this will lead directly to a One World Government, hastening the Apocalypse, and then the Rapture.

5.2 Do you think that the U.S. should modernize our national defense to meet the challenges of the 21st century?
No. Our air power is overused, we need more trench warfare.

6.1 Do you support the election of Republican candidates across the country and rebuilding our majorities over the next ten years?
I think this is the definition of a Republican.

And now for my favorite part of the poll:

6.3 Will you join the Republican National Committee by making a contribution today?

Yes, I support the RNC and am enclosing my most generious contribution of: $______

Yes, I support the RNC, but I am unable to participate at this time. However, I have enclosed $11 to cover the cost of tabulating my survey.

No, I favor electing liberal Democrats over the next ten years.

That’s a nice dichotomy: give money now or you’re in favor of electing liberal Democrats. It needs a nice picture juxtaposing Tom Daschle and Saddam Hussein, though.


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Grover Norquist

There’s a pretty interesting piece in today’s Chicago Tribune, Pipeline leads to White House, that centers on Grover Norquist’s weekly meetings with conservative leaders and the interaction between Norquist’s group and the White House. Norquist, as you may recall, recently said “Bipartisanship is another name for date rape”. By that I suppose he meant that there’s no point trying to act nice (the date) with Democrats when you’ve got something else entirely in mind. Here are a few highlights from the piece:

  • “Senior presidential adviser Karl Rove, who is in regular contact with Norquist, always sends an emissary and sometimes personally attends the weekly meetings. George W. Bush sent a representative for a full year before he even announced he was running for president.”
  • “Norquist began pushing for Congress to pass annual tax cuts well before the White House said it would press Congress to do the same thing.”
  • “‘The goal is to reduce the size and scope of government in half over the next 25 years’, Norquist said.”
  • “Among Norquist’s goals is placing former President Ronald Reagan’s name on buildings across the country.” [Note: oddly enough, presumably financed with tax money.]
  • “…the White House asked Norquist for help in pushing Congress to confirm judicial nominee Miguel Estrada. Norquist used his national network of contacts to successfully push 10 state legislatures to pass resolutions calling for the nominee’s confirmation.”
  • “Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy and a Pentagon official in the Reagan administration, raised concerns in a speech about anti-American Muslim groups penetrating the White House…Norquist responded by sending Gaffney a letter denouncing him and demanding he apologize to the president and his staffers. He also banished Gaffney from the Wednesday meetings, which Gaffney had attended for the last five years.”

That last one is to Norquist’s credit. I don’t have any particular problem with the Republicans having meetings like this and attempting to influence policy, as there seems to be a lot of transparency. I just wish they weren’t so good at it.


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Happy 49th, No Sense of Decency!

From the NYT, today is the 49th anniversary of the beginning of the end for Sen. McCarthy, which started with Army counsel Joseph N. Welch confronted Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy during the Senate-Army Hearings over McCarthy’s attack on a member of Welch’s law firm, Frederick G. Fisher. Said Welch to McCarthy,

“Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”


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Al, Bill, and Molly

I finally watched the CSPAN coverage of the book expo featuring Franken, O’Reilly, and Ivins, and I can genuinely say that the reports of its high entertainment value are not exaggerations. Franken did go long, but as he put it in response to O’Reilly’s complaining, “I went long because I was getting some laughs” (he was). Sans producer and mute button, O’Reilly’s level of discourse devolved to “Shut up! Just shut up!”, “This guy’s an idiot”, and “we can have a bagel”. I guess that if Franken were from Mexico or parts south, O’Reilly would have invited him over to swim a river. Or perhaps if Franken were black, O’Reilly would have invited him over to steal some hubcaps. The acrimony was actually greater than I anticipated. Franken was also great in a digression on Ann Coulter.

More substantively, Franken and Ivins are both really entertaining and I think either one could draw a nice talk radio audience, because they combine insight with humor. I wouldn’t want them making policy; both a bit too left and too anti-corporate for me. But neither one is “out there”, either. They would be great for exciting the proverbial base, yet entertaining enough to draw from outside the NPR audience.


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New Links

I’m discovering some pretty neat tools in my effort to gizmo up the blog. First, given that maps of blogs are popular lately, take a look at who is in my blog neighborhood. Continuing with the theme of me being a Republican, InstaPundit is one of my nearest neighbors! The others are all fairly reasonable: Talking Points Memo, MaxSpeaks, Rittenhouse, Eschaton, and a few I haven’t seen but plan to take a look at. On balance, I’m keeping pretty good company, although CalPundit, Yglesias, Barlow, and a some other bloggers who I’d gladly have a beer with are not in my blog-neighborhood.

Also, I found a few glaring ommissions in my blogroll. Please welcome the following additions:

Body and Soul
Nathan Newman
Neal Pollack
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
South Knox Bubba
Thinking It Through


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My links are now powered by, which means a few things: 1) The order has moved around–in particular, alphabetizing is by the first letter of the word, so for example, Matt Yglesias is under ‘M’, not ‘Y’. 2) I may have inadvertently deleted someone from the list, so if this happened please email me. Coming soon: an Angry Bear RSS feed.


UPDATE: I think I’ve successfully added the RSS feed.

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I’m a Republican!

In this post, Kevin Drum talks about some of the problems the Democratic Party is having with its outdated database systems, concluding that

Like it or not, big, modern, centralized voter databases and marketing operations are the lifeblood of politics today.

But apparently there are some glitches in the Republican Party’s database too. In my mail today, I received this from RNC Chairman Marc Racicot:

Dear Fellow Republican

You are among a select group of Republicans who have been chosen to take part in the official Census of the Republican Party…

…your answers will represent the views and opinions of all Republican voters living in your voting district

…should the government be arable to continue discriminating against faith-based organizations?

…won’t you also enclose a contribution of $500, $250, $100, $50, or even $25 to the Republican National Committee.

Later, I’ll post a few of the questions. In the meantime, here’s one:

Do you think U.S. troops should have to serve under United Nations’ commanders?

Now the only question is whether I fill it out and send it in (without a check, of course). If I do send it in, should I fill it out with all extreme rightist answers, in an effort to push the GOP further away from the political center? Or should I confuse them and do my best to supply the answer Noam Chomsky would give?


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The Daily Show

You really should watch it. It’s funnier than watching Fox News, and it doesn’t make you want to throw stuff. From Thursday’s show, here’s Lewis Black on the latest upward-skewed tax cuts:

“Trickle Down Economics…Before we called it Trickle Down Economics, we called it Voodoo Economics, and before that we just called it Screwing the Oakies

That sounds about right.TM


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NYT Editors Out

I’ll give Raines credit for this:

“It’s been a tumultuous month, 20 months, but we have produced some memorable newspapers.” [emphasis mine]

Memorable! Not quality, excellent,outstanding, nor even just good. Now if they’d just take reporters Gerth and Bruni with them, and make sure Lelyveld really is only the “interim” executive editor then the grey lady might get back some of what she’s lost over the last ten years.


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Where’s he Been?

Back in the day, a comment from Sen. John McCain seemed like a mandatory part of every policy news story. But I haven’t heard a peep from him in a while. He voted for the latest tax cut debt increase package, but had no widely publicized comments. In any event, he’s apparently decided that media consolidation is too important to be decided on a 3-2 vote by the FCC, without Congressional input or approval:

“I have a long voting record in support of deregulation. But the business of media ownership, which can have such an immense effect on the nature and quality of our democracy, is too important to be dealt with so categorically [by a small group of regulators.].”

In general, I’m a fan of deregulation, particularly in markets where barriers to entry are not overwhelming (look what deregulation did for airline ticket prices and your long distance bill). But the mass media business does seem to have barriers to entry; as it stands, Viacom, Disney, AOL/Time-Warner, and NewsCorp probably produce around 70% of the content you see on cable. Newpaper ownership is also highly concentrated. So there is significant potential risk of further consolidation and the exercise of market power once the new rules are in effect. An issue this big really should be under the purview of Congress, rather than an appointed commission. Of course, even if the new rules do take effect, media consolidation will still be subject to review by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. On the one hand, that didn’t do much to stop Clear Channel from assembling a radio empire (there were some negotiated spin-offs), but the Department of Justice did recently block the merger of Echostar and DirectTV.


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