Slacker Friday

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

I've got a new "Think Again" column here about what looks to me like a cover-up inside the 9-11 Commission on behalf of Condi Rice, and a Nation column here, "Abolish the Editorial Page?" I also went back to the well for a short piece to jog everyone's memories about what, exactly, Robert Gates did wrong during the Iran-Contra scandal. That's up at the American Prospect website and can be found here.

Dysfunction Watch: Andrew Gelman of Columbia writes me that "Democrats did much better in 2006 (56% of the average district vote) than the Republicans did in 1994 (when they
only received 51.3%). In terms of national voting, the Democrats received much more of a mandate in 2006 than the Republicans did twelve years earlier. " I'll have more to say about this once I've had a chance to study the numbers.

Quote of the Day, "Britney Spears," Reid said as he shook his head, "She loses a little weight, and now she's getting all cocky about things. ... Britney has gotten her mojo back." Harry Reid (care of TP)

Slacker Friday:

Name: Stupid
Hometown: Chicago

Hey Eric, it's Stupid to weigh-in on the election (because, you know,
there's just not enough post-election analysis out there). I know, every
poll showed Iraq to be the most important issue, but I can't shake the
feeling that the turning point for this election was David Kuo. He pierced
a certain wall of denial among GOP voters. Do you remember the 2004
election post-mortem and all the talk about reaching out to evangelicals
and religious voters? Many times when I was campaigning for Kerry and got
into a discussion with someone like that, I found they generally agreed
with me (and Kerry) on the issues. It was a culture thing, but not a war,
they just wanted respect. "They" didn't respect them and given how Dubya
gets under "their" skin, voting for him was payback. Since then I think
these voters have had nagging doubts that they were getting plagued: social
security reform, Harriet Miers, maybe even soldiers coming back from Iraq.
But Kuo did more than that: he showed that they weren't just being played,
it was the GOP who was doing the mocking. Unlike Max Cleland this guy
couldn't be smeared as anything worse than "politically naive," and even
that didn't ring true. Check out some of the conservative religious blogs
from that time (Google Kuo with Christ and Bible Chapters to weed-out the
"secular progressive" blogs). The message filtered down to those who
weren't tuned-in to Kuo specifically. Imagine in 2004 if I had told you
the Dems would capture 1/3 of these "Rove base" voters within two years.
As you note, the Dems didn't win these voters, the GOP lost them. The
question is how to keep them without selling our souls. I cringed at every
gay marriage triangulation I heard. Why not focus on things we can unite
around: publicly invite Kuo back to give Dubya's own faith based initiative
one more "bipartisan" try. Whether he signs or vetoes (gasp), the Dems
will have a solid talking point for years to come.

Name: Christopher Barnes
Hometown: Studio City, CA

It was just a few weeks ago that the New York Times magazine cover story raised the question of whether other Democratic party leaders were about to stage a revolt against Party Chairman Howard Dean. What this election proves to me is that, just as many of us thought after reading that article, the Party needs both types of leaders: Someone who is busy rebuilding the Party from the ground up in all 50 states and someone who is focusing on winning current elections. A focus on either to the exclusion of the other is folly and I'm sure the Dean detractors really knew that all along. So I hope they are realizing now that the only way to capitalize on Tuesday's results are to continue to build the foundations of the Party--not just celebrate and forget about all those "Red" states until just before the next election.

Name: Rich Gallagher
Hometown: Fishkill, NY

Dear Eric,

One thing which the media have thus far overlooked is that Democratic control of the Senate means that within the next six months we should be seeing the long-delayed release of Phase II of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on pre-war intelligence. Phase II is the part of the investigation which the Republicans haven't wanted us to see, because it focuses on how the intelligence was used by the Bush Administration. The fact that soon-to-be-ex-chairman Roberts has refused to release the report is a pretty fair indicator that it is highly critical of Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, et al.

Here in New York's District 19 we are still celebrating John Hall's victory. He ran a hell of a campaign and was mostly financed by individual contributors. The DNC didn't even realize that it was a competitive race until late in the game, so the hard work was done by a large and enthusiastic group of dedicated volunteers.

Name: Brian P. Evans
Hometown: San Diego

So the first anti-net neutrality ad hit San Diego this week, claiming that unless we allow the ISPs to prioritize certain packets based upon how much the sender is willing to pay, the consumer will be forced to pay more.

I'm a bit confused...we consumers are already paying more. The ISPs already make people to pay for their internet access. And if you use a lot, such as by being a big company or a popular blogger, then your ISP starts charging you more because of all the traffic. And who pays for it? Certainly not the person providing the content. No, the costs get passed on to the consumer, of course.

Now, the ISPs want to charge content providers even more so that they can make sure that their packets get through the system reliably. Does anybody really think the companies will suck up this cost? Of course not: It will get passed along to the consumer just like every other cost is.

The net result (oy!) is that the little guy gets squeezed out while the big guy gets charged more. Of course, the big guys aren't going to mind being charged a bit more for their Internet presence since not only are the costs going to be passed on, but also their smaller competitors will no longer be able to compete and with no competition, consumers will have no choice but to buy the big guy's product.

Make sure your newly elected Congresscritter knows that net neutrality is important.

Name: John
Hometown: Kinnelon, NJ

Eric,
Rumsfield's resignation (obviously based on the outcome of the election) underscored, yet again, one significant leadership flaw in the current administration: it is reactionary rather than forward looking. The UN pre-war nonsupport, Iraq post-war situation, Iranian policy, North Korea nukes, Katrina response, Terri Shiavo case, withdrawl of Meyers' SC nomination, Dubai ports deal, now Rumsfield's resignation. The list of situations where the administration was caught by surprise by how the world or America thinks goes on and on. In addition, the issues or situations where the administration took the lead typically whithered and died on the vine. Think Social Security (what happened to THAT-this died TWICE), Immigration Policy, Health Care (shoot, did the WH ever try to do anything with health care-poor Hillary took a GOP pounding in the 90's?). Why is American leadership caught flat-footed so much? Then, when reacting, just reacting poorly (Katrina, Shaivo, and oops! North Korea has nukes). Scary.

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