Secret Fun Time takes the Dearborn 911 marijuana call and makes a damn good video
The Center for Economic Policy and Research issued a press release today announcing their new Housing Cost Calculator. The press release concludes with the following:
Over the last decade, there has been a record increase in U.S. house prices, with prices rising by more than 70 percent after adjusting for inflation. By contrast, rents have risen only slightly more than the rate of inflation over this period. People who buy a home at a bubble-inflated price -- and then see the price plummet in the crash -- may lose much or all of their equity, which comprise the bulk of most household’s wealth. Homeowners are still taking on mortgage debt rapidly, even as their homes have largely stopped appreciating in value. Homeowners increased their mortgage debt at a 5.4 percent annual rate in the first quarter of 2007, adding debt at an annual rate of $510 billion. This pushed the ratio of equity to value to a record low.
Let every soldier hew him down a bough
And bear't before him: thereby shall we shadow
The numbers of our host and make discovery
Err in report of us.
Macbeth: Act V, Scene IV
During Emperor Justinian I's war against the Goths, the Roman general Martinus conceived a strategy to burn as many campfires as possible so as to deceive the enemy about the size of his army. The plan worked, and the Goths fled. In the United States, Nixon invented the fictional "silent majority" of American conservatives to intimidate the progressives of his day, but Brent Bozell has probably done more than anyone to keep the campfires lit.
Best known for his work with the Media Research Center, a right-wing PR firm masquerading as a media watchdog, Bozell has spent the past 20 years working to propagate the myth of a "liberal media bias," a claim roundly debunked in investigative reporter Eric Alterman's 2003 book, What Liberal Media? Not one to surrender easily, the year after Alterman's book was published, Bozell's Media Research Center engaged in a multi-million dollar advertising campaign to keep the "liberal media" myth alive.
Apparently oblivious to irony, earlier this year Bozell's Media Research Center presented Rush Limbaugh with a "William F. Buckley, Jr. Award for Media Excellence." Bozell's most recent complaint has been that CNN hosted two Democratic debates and only one Republican debate earlier this month. This, to Bozell, amounts to "double time for Democrats," despite the fact that CNN features a daily primetime show hosted by conservative talk radio host Glenn Beck.
Another of Bozell's campfires is the Parents Television Council, a group that purports to represent "Americas demand for positive, family-oriented television programming." In 2004, then FCC Chair Michael Powell startled U.S. Senators by reporting that indecency complaints were soaring. According to Mediaweek reporter Todd Shields, however, Powell didn't tell anyone that FCC analysis found that over 99 percent of complaints came from Bozell's Parents Television Council.
Last June, Shields reported that Bozell's Parents Television Council is still manufacturing illusory outrage. Following a record FCC indecency fine, it was discovered that "There were no true complainants from actual viewers." In fact, every complaint had come from Bozell's group. Once again, many campfires, few actual troops.
But that's not all. Bozell also founded the Conservative Communications Center, a conservative messaging organization which produces the conservative web site, Cybercast News Service, famous for reporting that Saddam Hussein had both weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda. Bozell is also Executive Director of the Conservative Victory Committee PAC, and is a member of the Council for National Policy. In the past he has been National Finance Chairman for Pat Buchanan's failed 1992 presidential bid and President of the National Conservative Political Action Committee.
Last fall, at a conservative forum in DC, I overheard a panelist say, "sometimes, if you don't have a crisis, you have to generate one." This was a major facet of the conservative rise to power over the last 20 years - generating phony crises and creating an impression that the public has shifted far to the right in matters both social and economic. Brent Bozell has dedicated his life's work to generating crises where none exist, to distracting from substantive discourse and attacking the reputations of men and women who are trying to effect sensible solutions to meet America's policy needs.
Michael R. Bloomberg, a longtime Democrat who switched to the Republican Party to run for mayor of New York City in 2001, announced this evening that he is changing his party status and registering as an independent.
Hillary Clinton's new video announcing the choice for her campaign song is pretty clever. A great use of pop culture references, and much better than her last video, which struck me as trying way too hard to be cute. At any rate, I'm glad to see campaigns taking advantage of this medium, and Clinton seems to be at the top of the game in this regard.
Unfortunately, the song she chose is awful.
I'm not one to condemn opposition research outright. It has its place in any campaign. But what's allegedly been coming out of the Obama camp isn't strategic, it's poisoning the well.
Primaries are tough campaigns, but scorched-earth policies are ultimately self-defeating do little but feed opposition narratives.
How about a little Lisa Nova as a reminder.
Mike Gravel's Press Secretary Shaun Alexander Colvin talked to NBC's Domenico Montanaro about the thinking behind the new low-budget, expressionist Gravel campaign videos.
"It’s a personal statement rather than a usual political statement that you get from candidates. This message and this candidate are not just about rhetoric and promises or about being verbose. It's about a candidate looking you in the eye. He’s laying himself out, exposing himself, showing who he is." "He’s a man who’ll look you in the eye. He could’ve been standing in the park making political statements and promises and such, and he’s doing just the opposite. His message is out there. He’s articulated it for a year. He’s standing by his word. And giving you a chance to see who he is.
"The senator has very much an artistic spirit."
"The beginning part of it is very interpretational. In metaphor, it would be the rock in the water and the ripple effect of the senator and his message and who he is, a man with an idea, who is little by little, day by day communicating that message.
"We are seeing a ripple effect from here in our offices in Arlington to communities across the country for his platform on Iraq and economic fairness. That metaphor is how a man spreads his message."
I must admit to being rather nonplussed. Needless to say, I stand by my earlier contention that these videos are great. Perhaps they're not the best vehicle for getting your candidate elected, but they're bound to outlive anything the other campaigns are putting out.
Tom Goldstein writes at the indispensible SCOTUSblog that the war for control of the Supreme Court is over, and the right has prevailed.
The fact that Justices’ Ginsburg and Stevens dissented from the bench in three cases – twice in late-May and early-June after all the votes had been cast – strongly suggests an exceptionally high level of frustration on the left. (Neither does such a thing lightly.) It seems entirely possible that the remaining cases involving, for example, challenges to public funding of programs with religious components (Hein), search and seizure (Brendlin), and the environment (Defenders of Wildlife) all will be decided five-to-four, with Justice Kennedy siding with the conservatives.
If that happens -- and I think it is likely that it (or something close to it) will -- the President will have gotten with his appointments precisely the Court he sought and that liberals feared. We can already count on conservative rulings on race, abortion, campaign finance, and the death penalty, and may be able to add to that religion, the Fourth Amendment, and the environment. It would be a memorable Term indeed.
Earlier today, Dave Johnson, James Boyce, and I were on Smoking Politics on Blog Talk Radio. We talked about the Media Research Center, the far-right media watchdog founded by right-wing smear merchant Brent Bozell.
Media Reserach Center has been a constant contributor to the pervasive climate of intimidation that James wrote about last week. Both MRC and Bozell have been responsible for a number of smear campaigns going back to the Clarence Thomas nomination.
Listen to the show online or download a podcast from BlogTalkRadio.com. Check out the show to hear more about the MRC and Brent Bozell and their role in the rise of the right-wing smear campaign.
This past weekend, I read that young people don't have the money to be engaged in the current campaign finance system. I also read that the University of Virginia Class of 2007 presented their school with a gift of $3.4 Million. The conventional wisdom that young people don't have money to donate to political campaigns is simply wrong. College students represent over $120 billion in spending power.
The private sector has understood this for generations – just consider the marketing revolution that is MTV. Young Americans have considerable purchasing power. The problem is, Democrats simply aren't selling anything young people want to buy. In order to tap into this crucial market, Democrats need to engage young people in such a way that students feel they are getting something for their contributions – that they are not just giving their money away, but buying something.
Here's where most people bristle – at the idea of mixing buying and politics. As good liberals, we're supposed to talk in terms of investment. Your contribution is an investment in the future. On a personal level, I agree 100 percent. But selling promises of future progress is not attracting young donors, neither are threats of imminent Republican disasters. Young buyers want something for their money now, not a vague promise of something good in the distant future.
The question is, what is it that young Democrats want now?
I went to a well-known liberal school where conservative students were a definite minority. There was a distinct difference between the way conservative and liberal students approached money in politics that I think is fairly common. Liberal students treat money in politics as something inherently corrupting. These students are much more likely than their conservative peers to be regularly engaged in activism, but hold a fundraising party for a liberal candidate and you'll probably have a lonely night.
The Obama dinner auction is an interesting way of generating new donations, but let's face it – it still only offers a chance of engagement to a small group of the population. This offer may appeal to some, but Obama is still missing the chance to engage and foster a real relationship with the broader population of young Democrats.
What if candidates held fundraiser meet-and-greets only open to young Democrats? What if candidates addressed issues of immediate concern to students, issues like financial aid? What if the Democratic party and progressive organizations offered concrete career development opportunities by broadening access to internships and networking with leaders in the business and non-profit communities?
Democrats don't need to sell gimmicks, they need to find a way to get young people to buy in to the Democratic Party. The only way to do that, of course, is to ask young people directly what they want, to really open a sincere dialogue with young Democrats to find out not only what their issues are, but what sorts of events and engagement they're looking for.
For those of you under 30, what do you want?
Paul Weyrich, father of the right-wing movement and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, Moral Majority and various other groups tells his flock that he doesn't want people to vote. That's why the GOP is obsessed with voter fraud—only they want to disenfranchise voters because as Weyrich said back in the '80's...the more voters there are—the less of a chance the wingers have in any election.
via Crooks and Liars
William Otis, in this morning's Washington Post, argues that Bush should not pardon Libby, but commute his sentence so that he doesn't serve jail time.
A sense of proportionality argues in favor of eliminating Libby's prison term. This was an unusually harsh sentence for a first offender convicted of a nonviolent and non-drug-related crime.
And so Otis, a former federal prosecutor, with a flick of the wrist, reduces impeding a federal investigation into the outing of a covert CIA operative to something less than a teenager with a marijuana cigarette.
Rick Perlstein talked to me and James Boyce on Heading Left Radio about The Big Con and how conservatives can't compete in the marketplace of ideas.
We also talked to Virgina blogger Lowell Feld about the growing progressive community in Virginia, and a great new project called Newsladder that's set to launch on June 15th.
You can stream or download this show as well as past editions at the Heading Left Radio site.
Heading Left Radio, the best of the progressive blogosphere, every Friday at noon.
In today's Washington Post, Dana Milbank nails down the reality of Bush's "new plan" on climate change:
"Will the new framework consist of binding commitments or voluntary commitments?" asked CBS News's Jim Axelrod.
"In this instance, you have a long-term, aspirational goal," Connaughton answered.
Aspirational goal? Like having the body you want without diet or exercise? Or getting rich without working?
"I'm confused," Axelrod said. "Does that mean there will be targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions, and that everybody will be making binding commitments?"
"The commitment at the international level will be to a long-term, aspirational goal," the Bush aide repeated.
There's a saying in Texas, something along the lines of "Why don't you shit in one hand and put your long-term, aspirational goals in the other and see which one fills up faster."
Bush's new plan on climate change? Shit on the world.