Saturday, December 11, 2004

Kerik

So by now we know that Kerik has had a shady past and that something that has already come out, or something that might come out, has caused him to withdraw from President Bush's nomination to the Homeland Security post. What is a bit surprising about the whole issue is not so much that Bush nominated a clearly unqualified person for the job, but rather that they were unprepared for Kerik's dirty laundry. Either they were unaware of it or they just didn't think it would come to light. Either way it smacks of arrogance. Bush simply assumed that Giuliani's lapdog, who happened to be the NYC Police Commissioner on 9/11, would make it through the nomination process unquestioned - as if 9/11 were enough of a shield to prevent any background checks.

But here is where the White House screwed up. Kerik is not really a national figure. People don't credit him for anything much, and he certainly isn't held in the same regard as Giuliani. Thus, the press wasn't at all reverential towards him (as they are Rumsfeld). It was therefore easy to take him down.

The White House must assume that they have the Midas touch - that anything they do will be accepted and that anything or anyone related to 9/11 will evoke unqualified support. Instead, their arrogance led them to nominate an unqualified character with a questionable past to one of the most important positions in government. They wanted a loyal "yes" man. Fortunately for us, we said "no."

Friday, December 03, 2004

Republican "Plans" No More

Don't use positive or even neutral words to discuss conservative plans. Instead, use the following words when discussing Republican proposals:

concoction
device
plot
scheme
stunt

Republican legislation is no longer about serving the people. Rather, it's to serve their special interests. It's time we starting framing their proposals as such. These words will help us do so.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Nuclear Option and Ethics

Much has been made recently over Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's deliberations on whether or not to end democratic filibusters of Bush's judicial nominations. And while most of the discussions have centered on whether the scheme would work and its political consequences, very little consideration has been given as to whether the scheme is ethical.

Filibusters in the Senate have been in existence for over 200 years. The current rule requiring 60 votes to end debate have been in place since 1917. This rule has allowed the minority party to exercise, on rare occasions, the ability to block legislation or appointments with which they vehemently disagree. Both Republicans and Democrats have used the 60/40 rule to block judicial nominations.

However, Republicans now feel that the rules should no longer apply to them. Frist is contemplating eliminating the Senate rule to push through Bush's extremist judges, perhaps one to the Supreme Court. Some Republicans, to their credit, are wary of this idea.

There is a reason people are calling this the "nuclear option." It would signal the end of over 200 years of tradition and the end of a rule that has existed for 87 years. It would signal that Republicans no longer care about the tradition of the Senate. But most of all, it would signal that Republicans no longer feel the rules apply to them.

People who don't like to follow the rules are childish and selfish. Their own gratification is more important that the social compact. Republicans want to break the social compact for their own personal gains. Breaking the social compact for such selfish reasons is unethical, and it should be noted as such.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Unethical, part 2

The most recent Republican plan to steal social security from millions of Americans is to simply not acknowledge the effect on the deficit. Instead, Republicans are divising complicated accounting tricks to hide the true cost of their plan.

This is completely unethical. Rather than have a true debate about the effects of their plan on the deficit, Republicans are demonstrating they have no interest in the truth. Being ethical means being forward and honest about the real cost. By using accounting tactics and subterfuge, Republicans are engaging in an unethical manner.

On a side note, no one should expect Republicans to come forward with the actual cost of their plan. Remember their health care plan wherein we learned after the bill was passed that it would cost billions more than they said it would. Expect the same with social security.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Unethical

One thing that should start becoming increasingly clear is that Republicans care little for ethics when it comes to helping their own. The vote to protect Tom Delay and the taxpayer provision that was inserted into the omnibus bill ("ominous" seems more appropriate) illustrated this quite well. However, progressives should argue that these are two sides of the same coin - ethical lapses by conservatives.

The vote to protect Delay is not about protecting their own. Rather, it's a demonstration that conservatives lack ethics. The IRS provision insertion is not a matter of privacy; it's unethical.

Progressives can either trot out a littany of instances against the Republicans, and hope death comes way of a 1000 cuts. Or, they can start pushing major themes. One of the best things about a major theme is that every time the Republicans do something questionable, we can label them as unethical. Each instance, and we know there will be more of them, will help reinforce the theme.

Rove likes to attack his opponent's strength. People seem to think that the GOP is the party of moral values. This is a good way to start chipping away at that perception.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Vioxx and Tort Reform

The recent removal of Vioxx from the market serves as a substantial reminder why tort reform must be defeated. Though conservatives often trumpet high medical malpractice insurance as a reason to cap damage awards, the real reason is to protect corporations from lawsuits. (Conservatives also like taking away income from a traditional progressive group: public protection attorneys.) The upcoming months will reveal whether Merck should have pulled Vioxx from shelves earlier. The liability that may ensue from their failure to do so could reach millions and millions of dollars.

Progressives need to remind the public that tort reform would mean that companies like Merck might keep dangerous products available for purchase even after they know their customers are dying. Companies that knowingly continue to sell dangerous products must be dissuaded from doing so. Consumers cannot rely on corporations to protect us; the threat of lawsuits must exist to keep us safer.

Thus, tort reform would make us less safe. We cannot rely on corporations to protect us.

Finally, in the future, we will consider whether "tort reform" is the proper terminology to discuss the conservative plan. Instead, progressives must frame the issue as one of corporate protectionism.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Gun Safety

Control is a bad word. It carries a negative connotation when we consider someone else having control over our person or our property. Gun control conveys the idea that the government wants to tell you what you can and cannot do with guns. However, the issue has never been about control, but rather about safety. Thus, progressives should now refer to such legislation as gun safety programs.

And this makes perfect sense. Aside from recreational purposes, people buy guns to protect themselves and their family - to keep them safe. And progressives want to help these people keep their families safe. Trigger locks are not about control. They are designed to help gun owners keep their families safe by avoiding accidents. Closing the gun show loophole is not about control. It's about keeping families safe from felons who want to use guns to commit crimes.

Progressives should stop having arguments with gun owners about the 2nd Amendment. Such debates only further the divide and make gun owners feels as though we're not on their side. Instead, accept the 2nd Amendment and advocate for "common sense" legislation that is designed to keep gun owners, and their families, safe.