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Boobs for Bush?

Thursday, January 11th, 2007

Let me see if I’ve got this straight: The combined forces of Bush, Inc. and the greater neocon community put their brains (and egos) together and the best catch phrase they could come up with to describe Bush’s escalation plan for Iraq was “augmentation?”


(NY Times) Bush War Plan Draws Fire on Capitol Hill

Rice engaged several tense exchanges with members, including with Hagel, a Vietnam veteran and longtime critic of Bush’s Iraq policy. She disputed his characterization of Bush’s buildup as an ”escalation.”

”Putting in 22,000 more troops is not an escalation?” Hagel asked. Responded Rice: ”I think, senator, escalation is not just a matter of how many numbers you put in.”

”Would you call it a decrease?” Hagel asked.

”I would call it, senator, an augmentation that allows the Iraqis to deal with this very serious problem that they have in Baghdad,” she said.

I repeat: Augmentation? Could there be a less inspiring rallying call?

Besides, part of the secret of effective advocacy is understanding that words come prepackaged with a particular frame based upon how they’ve typically been used in the past; and forgive me for mentioning it, but hasn’t the word “augmentation” been used by far the most commonly in recent years in the context of breast augmentation surgery? Try googling it: When I did the first 15 hits dealt exclusively with — yep, breast augmentation (enlargement) procedures. Exactly what message are these folks trying to send here?

Man, these people really are boobs, aren’t they?

The power of the stem cell research message

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

I guess we now know why Rush Limbaugh has engaged in such bizarrely self-defeating excess in attacking Michael J. Fox: Stem cell research, as a political issue, is hurting the GOP, potentially quite badly.

Voters Increase Support for Stem Cell Research After Viewing Michael J. Fox Ad (via Kos)

• Among all respondents, support for stem cell research increased from 78% prior to viewing the ad, to 83% after viewing the ad. Support among Democrats increased from 89% to 93%, support among Republicans increased from 66% to 68% and support among Independents increased from 80% to 87% after viewing the ad.
• The level of concern regarding a candidate’s view on stem cell research increased among all respondents from 57% prior to viewing the ad to 70% after viewing the ad. Among Democrats, the level of concern increased from 66% to 83% and Republicans’ level of concern increased from 50% to 60%. Independents’ level of concern increased from 58% to 69%.
• The perception that the November election is relevant to the U.S. policy on stem cell research increased across all voter segments, with an increase of 9% among all respondents pre- and post-viewing from 62% to 71%. The Democrats’ perception increased from 75% to 83%, Republicans’ perception increased from 55% to 62% and Independents’ perception increased from 60% to 68% pre- and post-viewing.
• The advertisement elicited similar emotional responses from all responders with all voter segments indicating that they were “not bored and attentive” followed by “sorrowful, thankful, afraid and regretful.”
• The vast majority of responders indicated that the advertisement was believable with 76% of all responders reporting that it was “extremely believable” or “believable.” Among party affiliation, 93% of Democrats 57% of Republicans and 78% of Independents indicated it “extremely believable” or “believable.”

Even more strikingly, the survey found that watching the ad (see it here) actually changed how people planned to vote.  The number of Republicans reporting they planned to vote for a Republican went down 10%, while the number of independents planning to vote Democratic went up 10%.  In a close election like this, those numbers are huge.

And what should be particularly troubling to Republicans in all this is that — Michael J. Fox notwithstanding — the ad’s potency doesn’t arise entirely, or even primarily, from star quality.  No, this is about common sense and basic humanity.  And putting the “interests” of a small collection of cells, destined to be thrown away as medical waste anyway, ahead of the hopes of millions of Americans who, just like Fox, are suffering from catastrophic diseases fails the test badly on both counts.

The real power of Fox’s message then is in the fact it speaks the truth — a truth so obvious that attempting to counter it serves only to increase its strength.  And for Republican politicians who feel compelled to kiss the ring of the Religious Right on this issue, this is an extraordinarily inconvenient truth.

So keep on spewing your hate, Rush.  Let’s keep this in the news right up until election day.

Let the Bill of Rights take a bow

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

I sometimes think I fill the role of the Grinch that Stole Christmas when it comes to exciting federal district court decisions.  I’ve just been burned too many times by wonderfully reasoned trial court decisions in favor of the good guys on politically relevant issues, only to see them go the way of the dodo on appeal.  Most federal circuit courts (the appellate courts between the district courts and the Supreme Court) are extremely conservative now.  And the Supreme Court — well, do I even have to go there?

So today’s decision by Judge Anna Diggs Taylor declaring the Bush Administration’s warrantless surveillance program unconstitutional, while immensely encouraging, leaves me less than overjoyed.  It faces what’s likely to be a rocky road on appeal. 

People shouldn’t read too much into the Supreme Court’s recent 5-to-3 ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld striking down Bush’s military tribunals.  There’s no doubt that the majority in Hamdan felt Bush had grown too big for his britches, but that’s far from a guarantee they’ll buck him on this one.  The Bush Administration has generally fared well in litigation involving claimed national security interests.

I also think the politics of this decision will be decidedly mixed.  Expect to see Bush & Co. hit the talk show circuit arguing that this is why we need to rein in the “activist liberal judiciary” and suggesting that national security will be severely imperiled if the decision is upheld.

But on second thought, screw all that.  For now at least, the Bill of Rights won a big one today and the imperial presidency took a well deserved hit.  So go ahead Bill of Rights — take a bow.      

Bush and Ahmadinejad: A match made in heaven

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

Thanks for the ideas for the café

Tuesday, April 11th, 2006

I’ve read with a lot of interest the comments suggesting possible “bigger and better things” for the café series.  They’re much appreciated.

Over the two plus years (God, it really has been that long) that I have been doing the series I’ve given a lot of thought to possible additional avenues for Horace, Winston, Tom, Zach and the rest, including a book or a play.  Interestingly, my editor at BuzzFlash made the same suggestion about a possible play very early on.

I have to say that I find the suggestion of having one produced by some community theater groups around the country intriguing, although I don’t know personally how realistic a possibility it is.

In any case, thanks for the kind words and generous suggestions.


Café proprietor and unofficial scribe to The Three Wise Men  

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Wednesday, February 8th, 2006