Monday, January 09, 2006

Democratic Leadership Finds Ass Using Both Hands, Map

Harry Reid apparently has been reading the Ape Man.

Hopefully this is for real and not just a trial balloon sent up to be shot down by Lieberman whining about how pointing out the fact that Republicans have been taking bribes will alienate middle America, who everybody knows believes congresspeople should be allowed to take bribes.

Strategy Session Over at LA

I've posted a longish treatment of the question Uncle Kevin raised in comments over at The Liberal Avenger. I'll reproduce it here for those who aren't interested in the LA comment thread.

A lot of fine, competent, together folks seem to get involved with the Democratic party. That’s a good thing. Democrats really know how to do things right; you get the sense that the party as a whole has, for example, really good penmanship, and always checks Mapquest to find the dopest route.

Unfortunately such a meritocracy tends to weed out folks who have a strong grasp of “big-picture” type thinking. Such right-brain dominant people (describing myself here) tend to be sloppy, lazy, and generally hard to work with. This is not so much of a liability in the Republican party, which is why they tend to have a political machine that runs like a BMW racecar and a policy apparatus that’s more of an enormous Rube Goldberg contraption administered by the Keystone Kops.

For this reason, on slow news days I often find myself offering the Dems advice on high-level strategy. Never have these guys been in such great need of such a talking-to as they are right now, as the Republicans sputter and flail their way into a key congressional election cycle.

We begin and end with the question of the Republican corruption scandals in the House. There is a ton of handwringing on centrist Democratic blogs right now (see TPMCafe for a representative sample) on exactly how to leverage GOP corruption on the micro scale, whether we need one cup of finger-pointing and three tablespoons of reform (a corruption-scandal tart crust, if you will) or if getting involved in a debate over reform measures is going to allow the Republicans to deflect attention from the reality that this scandal is really about a bunch of dirty, dishonest Republicans breaking the rules. And blah, blah, blah.

What all this fails to grasp is the fact that the no matter what tactics the Democrats use, if the 2006 elections center around the issue of corruption, the GOP is in desperate trouble. The only real danger to the Dems is that they get themselves so tangled up in tactical contortions that they forget to keep pounding, pounding, pounding the corruption issue right up to November.

Listen. Here’s as crude a strategy as you can get. I came up with it in five seconds. I’m offering it to the Democratic party for free to use in the Eric Cantor race. Let’s say the race has boiled down to Eric Cantor, the incumbent, vs. The Ape Man. My political people have informed me that the time has come to go negative. We run The Ad.

Ape Man’s 1st Ad: Eric Cantor was elected to look out for Virginia’s 7th district. Instead, he’s been looking out for himself, making his living by associating with Jack Abramoff, a convicted felon who has admitted to bribing members of congress. How many bribes did Eric Cantor take? He won’t say. Tell Eric Cantor to level with Virginia’s voters and tell us how many bribes he took from convicted felon Jack Abramoff.

Eric Cantor’s Ad: The Ape Man is a pinko hippie Marxist with no background in government.

Ape Man’s 2nd Ad: Eric Cantor still won’t say how many bribes he took from convicted felon Jack Abramoff. He’s also good friends with Tom Delay, who is so crooked he had to buy a threaded hat. How many bribes did Eric Cantor take? Virginia’s voters may never know.

Rinse. Repeat. You could use this in half the elections in the House. It doesn’t even matter if the guy never met Jack Abramoff. If you can make the incumbent spend a dime defending himself against allegations that he took bribes from a felon, I would say you’re at a strategic advantage.

Centrist Democrats are always fretting about the best way to get the public to prefer Dems to Republicans generally. Well, in this election, that battle is already won. All that’s left is driving home, on an individual candidate level, that these guys are crooks and need to be voted out.

Howard Dean Gets It

A lot of folks dislike Howard Dean because he says a lot of impolitic stuff. But the Democrats have needed someone who is willing to err on the side of offending people for a long time. Even if Howard has to take three punches (confederate flag pickups, Republicans are stupid, we can't win the war) to land one, I'm OK with that. The "pick our spots, never open ourselves to attack" approach, well, it sucked.

Anyway, this comes to us via Atrios, and it really makes my smile.

Dean Makes Wolf Cry.

BLITZER: Should Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, who has now pleaded guilty to bribery charges, among other charges, a Republican lobbyist in Washington, should the Democrat who took money from him give that money to charity or give it back?

DEAN: There are no Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, not one, not one single Democrat. Every person named in this scandal is a Republican. Every person under investigation is a Republican. Every person indicted is a Republican. This is a Republican finance scandal. There is no evidence that Jack Abramoff ever gave any Democrat any money. And we've looked through all of those FEC reports to make sure that's true.



Friday, January 06, 2006

It's All Connected, Man

This is something I've been waiting for a while now. Bloomberg has a piece up that finally begins to make the connection between the Duke Cunningham case and the Abramoff case.

Why is this significant? The scandals currently rocking the Republican party are a big deal, but as long as they remain individual scandals it won't damage the GOP as a whole to any serious degree (some of Bush's scandals have that potential, but we'll discuss that another time.)

It seems very probable, though, that the three major scandals involving congressional Republicans are actually one huge uberscandal. If bloggers/Democrats/journalists/honest people generally can find a way to fit these three pieces together, the modern GOP will finally be exposed for what it is - a vast political patronage operation, totally unconcerned with planning, policy, budget realities, or anything other than endless, endless greed.

Given Delay's central involvement in both scandals, it doesn't take much work to connect the Abramoff affair with the Delay money laundering fiasco. The difficult piece to work in is the Duke Cunningham scandal, since Cunningham wasn't a member of Abramoff's inner circle like Tom Delay or Bob Ney was.


One of the biggest clients Alexander landed was Group W Advisors, a San Diego-based defense consultant. The company is owned by Brent Wilkes, a businessman who is one of the four un- indicted co-conspirators in a Nov. 28 criminal complaint for allegedly bribing Cunningham, his lawyer, Michael Lipman, told USA Today. Cunningham pleaded guilty and resigned his House seat on Nov. 28.

Alexander took in at least $525,000 in fees from 2002 to 2004 from Group W to lobby on defense appropriations. Those appropriations are among the legislative favors Cunningham gave to receive his gifts, according to the former lawmaker's plea agreement. It isn't clear what role, if any, Alexander strategists had. Lipman didn't return a call seeking comment.

Big stuff. More later.

Welcome Daou Readers! Now go away.

OK, not go away so much as... Listen. I enjoy blogging and I'm glad everybody is making it over to sample some Ape Man. But I've had jumps in readership before, and people don't come back, because I just don't post enough.

So if you're thinking you'd enjoy a regular dose of the Ape Man, you might want to swing over to The Liberal Avenger, which is a group blog to which I've recently become a contributor. The rule is, people stop coming back if you don't post at least three times a day, and I post about three times a week. LA's site gets new material a lot more often, having the benefit of multiple authors.

Hope to see you back here, of course, but I really hope to see you over in LA's world.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Tactical Benefits of Crazily Lying

One of the key tactical realities the GOP has figured out about the modern media landscape is that no matter what, mainstream reporters and pundits will never say "the GOP is just crazily lying."

The upshot of this is that when the GOP tells some crazy lie, reporters generally will give you a "Claim A isn't true, but it's an exaggeration of Fact B which is true."

Problem is, often Fact B is made up. And Democratic talking heads tend to either be so inept (the Alan Colmes model) or so not-really-Democrats (the Biden model) that they never bother to point out that no, in fact there is nothing remotely close to what the GOP is saying that can reasonably be called the truth.

That's happening now with the Abramoff matter. Republicans are all over TV saying "this involves both parties equally." Which is insane, just a crazy lie, and everyone pretty much knows this. So reporters will help us out, saying "well, though Abramoff did give money to both parties, this is primarily trouble for the Republicans."

For the record, here's a list of everybody Abramoff gave hard money to in 2002 and 2004:

Jack Kingston, Republican (GOP US House, Georgia's 1st)
ARMPAC, Tom Delay (GOP US House, Texas' 22nd)
John Ensign (GOP US Senate, Nevada's Junior)
Friends of Big Sky (GOP Montana PAC)
John Doolittle (GOP US House, California's 4th)
Connie Morella (GOP US House, Maryland, defeated)
Saxby Chambliss (GOP US Senate, Georgia's Senior)
Frank A. LoBiondo (GOP US House, New Jersey's 2nd)
Chip Pickering (GOP US House, Mississippi's 3rd)
Tim Hutchinson (GOP Arkansas House, 95th district)
Chris Cannon (GOP US House, Florida's 3rd)
Johnny Isakson (GOP US Senate, Georgia's Junior)
Hawkeye PAC (GOP Senate PAC, National)
Eric Cantor (GOP US House, Virginia's 7th - my district)
Rich PAC (GOP US House PAC, National)
First Freedoms Fund (GOP PAC)
Rely On Your Beliefs Fund (GOP PAC, run by Roy Blount)
New Jersey Republican Committee
South Dakota GOP Leadership PAC
Keep Our Majority PAC (GOP PAC run by Bob Ney)
Ernest Istook (GOP US House, Oklahoma's 5th)
Ted Stevens (GOP US Senate, Arkansas' Senior)
Mike Ferguson (GOP US House, New Jersey's 7th)
Ric Keller (GOP US House, Florida's 8th)
Chuck Grassley (GOP US Senate, Iowa's Senior)
Denny Rehberg (GOP US House, Montana's At-Large)
Charles Taylor (GOP US House, North Carolina's 11th)
Kit Bond (GOP US Senate, Missouri's Senior)
Dave Camp (GOP US House, Michigan's 4th)
Jim Talent (GOP US Senate, Missouri's Junior)
Phil Gingrey (GOP US House, Georgia's 11th)
Richard Shelby (GOP US Senate, Alabama's Senior)
Tom Young (failed GOP candidate)
Curt Weldon (GOP US House, Pennsylvania's 7th)
Kimo Kaloi (failed GOP candidate)
Randy Forbes (GOP US House, Virginia's 4th)
Mike Simpson (GOP US House, Idaho's 2nd)
Gordon Smith (GOP US Senate, Oregon's Junior)
Rob Simmons (GOP US House, Connecticut's 2nd)
Heather Wilson (GOP US House, New Mexico's 1st)
Jim Bunning (GOP US Senate, Kentucky's Junior)
Bob Smith (GOP US Senate, NH - defeated)
Dana Rohrbacher (GOP US House, California's 46th)
Susanne Terrell (failed GOP candidate)
Jim Inhofe (GOP US Senate, Oklahoma's Senior)
Thad Cochran (GOP US Senate, Mississippi's Senior)
Arlen Specter (GOP US Senate, Pennsylvania's Senior)
George Nethercutt (failed GOP candidate)
George W. Bush (GOP US President)
Senate Victory Fund (GOP Senate PAC)
Richard Pombo (GOP US House, California's 11th)
Jim Saxton (GOP US House, New Jersey's 3rd)
Bill Janklow (failed GOP candidate)
Carolyn Grant (failed GOP candidate)
Battle Born Classic Committee (GOP US House PAC)
American Liberty PAC (GOP US House PAC)
Butch Otter (GOP US House, Iowa's 1st)
Ralph Regula (GOP US House, Ohio's 16th)
Mark Foley (GOP US House, Florida's 16th)
Jim Hansen (failed GOP candidate)
Newstar PAC (GOP Delay-linked PAC)
Marilyn Musgrave (GOP US House, Colorado's 4th)
Dan Burton (GOP US House, Indiana's 5th)

That's 63 candidates he gave money to, all Republicans. It took me a little while to track down all this info, but a professional journalist should be able to handle it, don't you think?

-- On edit --
OK, obviously all 63 are not candidates. But the point stands.

Wasn't he the DJ for Tribe Called Quest?

Hilarious gem from yesterday's White House press briefing:

Q: The President's speech today at the Pentagon as far as terrorism and fighting terrorism is concerned, do you think that Osama bin Laden is still in -- is running the al Qaeda business?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, who?