Saturday, February 11, 2006

Lemons and Lemonade

I want to respond to a comment that was made in response to the last diary and the comments that it engendered.  Specifically, I want to respond to this:

This has got to stop. This is absolutely insane. Has anyone noticed what happens on this blog? A post attacking Pombo -- 0 to 5 comments. A post about Filson -- 25 comments of all of us bitching at each other, pointing fingers, and now, calling one of the candidates a condescending asshole.

I am going to respond to this in two ways. One way is probably defensive.  The other way is probably constructive.  But I believe both and want to put both out there.

So first, the defensive and unrepentant part.  

I think we try to limit the extent of the finger-pointing and name-calling to a minimum here.  But one of the purposes of this blog is to hash out in a public way some sort of shared (truthful) understanding of who the candidates are and what their strengths and their weaknesses are.  

So let us take the case of Steve Filson.  Both Filson and his backers have proclaimed Steve Filson the “electable” candidate capable of wooing the swing voters. This is not something that has been mentioned in passing.  This has been made one of the central arguments in favor of Filson.  

Well suppose Filson comes across to a lot of people as a condescending asshole.  I mean, really, let’s assume he’s a genuinely nice guy and something in the tone of his voice or how he carries himself (something unconscious and unreflective of his true nature) really comes across badly.  I think that might make him a lot less electable.  And if so, why ought it to be illegitimate to bring up? I know it’s not pretty or polite to discuss, but screw politeness.  

Honestly, nothing Babaloo or I say will come close to the type of things Pombo and his people is going to say about the eventual Democratic nominee.  There is a difference between creating an issue where there is none and addressing an issue that isn’t being addressed.  I know some of the Say No to Pombo readers want a completely positive, no criticism of Dems allowed, discussion. But at a certain point that becomes indistinguishable for wishing that the Democrats live in denial.  And the call for restraint simply becomes a palliative that makes us feel better but does not address the underlying issues at hand.            

To be clear, I don’t want to make it an issue about who he is; to me it’s about how he will be perceived.  And ever since I first met Filson I have been concerned that he will be perceived in a way that will prevent him from connecting with the people he will need to connect with.  And my perception has been borne out by further experience and by what a ton of people have told me, including people who are by no means on the McNerney bandwagon.  

I have no doubt that if Babaloo had not posted her transcript of the MySpace diary, then the speech would still be up there.  And Pombo’s people would have been just as able as I to find it on MySpace.  Now it’s down from the site, which means on some level that someone from Filson’s campaign agreed with me and Babaloo that it wasn’t Filson’s most shining moment.  Great.  

Hopefully he’ll avoid making such mistakes in the future.  God only knows that Filson made a similar mistake in San Ramon.  At this point, if Pombo tries to make hay all Filson needs to do is own up to his mistake and apologize.  But if he kept on saying similar things the entire primary, he’d be in a lot worse shape come June.  And frankly, if Filson continues to say such stupid and needless things I don’t see a problem in pointing out that Rahm Emanuel’s Great Democratic Hope for CA-11 can’t even act like he respects the voters of the district.  

Now the productive part.

Part of the reason there are so few comments about Pombo is because it’s really hard to write up new stuff about him.  At least that’s true in my experience.  So what I’m going to try for the next week is to start posting open threads in which people can comment about good articles they read, thoughts they had about the articles, questions they’d like to see answered, etc.  Hopefully the open threads will open a new space for people to discuss important developments without feeling constrained by the framework one of the Say No to Pombo authors imposed on a post.  

Also, I am hoping that if some authors choose a pseudonym to use in an open thread, we will see voices developing that have different takes on Pombo such that the open threads will have dialogues as interesting to follow as normal posts are to read (I hope the posts are interesting to read).  I have become more and more convinced that Say No to Pombo needs more authors, and maybe if people start commenting consistently in the open thread that will make them comfortable enough to periodically write guest posts of one sort or another.  I don’t know.  But I’ll do it for the week and see what happens.  


Anonymous jbmendel said...

Good post, Matt.

Discussing horse-race ad nauseum is not the best use of any of our time. This blog serves a very useful purpose. I agree though that talking more about Pombo and swaying any truly undecided voters on the Information Superhighway (I think its time for that term to make a comeback. Also "bitchin") is a good goal, and I'll try to help.

Entirely unrelated, is anyone else running out of outrage? I mean, scandals are coming out of Washington and being ignored by the media faster than I can keep up with them, and frankly I'm not sure if I've got enough energy to be outraged about all of them at the same time.

11:39 AM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Until registered Democrats in the district have voted in the primary and picked the man they feel will best represent their Party in the fight to rid the district of the scourge of Pombo (and rid America of one of the most corrupt and digraceful figures California has ever sent to Washington), those of us who consider ourselves progressives have an obligation to make sure some hack Beltway political boss with a thirst for finding pliable shills to run for Congress inorder to help further his own agenda (be it displacing Pelosi or making sure the U.S. continues supporting the neo-con line in the Middle East) doesn't get to dictate who our candidate is.

If Democrats in the district feel Filson's the man, I'm sure that even people who see him as a "condescending asshole" or as a Republican soul with a (thin) Democratic veneer will prefer him to Pombo. I mean we can all agree Pombo is a flat-out "F" and whether we see Filson as a "D" or even a "C"... well a "D" is better than an "F" any day of the week. Once the primary season is over and the candidate is chosen by the people-- and not by Rahm Emanuel-- we all need to remember is that no matter how we feel about one Democrat or another-- even a make-believe one like Filson-- anything is better than Pombo.

11:50 AM, February 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. 2% of a buck again -- sorry to burst the euphoria that the "anything but Pombo" crowd wants us to swallow, but here's some perspective from the non-lefty part of the planet, direct from the same publication that broke the "Pombo charges RV vacation to you and me" story, the Tracy Press -- in this case, the "Letters to the Editor" section, verbatim (without any of the usual SNTP "edits" that I've witnessed):


Pombo's choice beneficial to taxpayers

Larry Hite
Tracy Press

I’ve been following the recent allegations about Congressman Richard Pombo and his family vacation to many of this country’s national parks between July 27 and Aug. 11, 2003. The expense for this trip (reported to be just shy of $5,000) was for the rental of an RV that Pombo used to drive to these parks to get a good look at them and to talk with some of the park officials. Based on these figures, the trip amounted to approximately $333 per day.

In all fairness, if he had decided to climb on a plane by himself and fly to all of these locations and rent hotel rooms, the daily expense would have been considerably more.

Actually, I found it rather refreshing to hear that an elected public official was getting out and actually seeing this country on his own and viewing our land and its resources from the layman’s view. In this particular case, there was no entourage accompanying him (with the exception of his family) and he wasn’t doing his research while circling in a holding pattern above one of the parks. If those in opposition to his trip reviewed the travel itineraries and expenses of other elected officials, I would be willing to bet that many of those trips made for the purpose of becoming more familiar with the people and the resources they represent were significantly more expensive and the trip less informative.

As far as who he met with during this RV trip, there were many park officials who he did meet and take tours with.

Most of us would probably agree that if someone from Washington, D.C., (or Sacramento for that matter) showed up in our town to see what condition our resources were in, the tour would consist of a prearranged agenda designed to show that official the things that our city representatives wanted to focus on. If that official just showed up in Tracy without anyone’s knowledge, the view and impression of our town and its resources would probably be much different.

I’ve never aligned myself with any political party and don’t support public figures based on their political affiliation. I do, however, vote for people who I feel are doing their best to represent the people that they serve. In Pombo’s case, I have e-mailed his Web site on two occasions with issues of concern. On both occasions, I not only received a response to my questions, but there also was a follow-up by his staff. Most recently, I had a question regarding a possible tax conflict on a piece of property I own in El Dorado County. Not only did I get a reply from Pombo’s office, but within days, I also received a letter from the El Dorado County tax collector’s office acknowledging Pombo’s inquiry on my behalf stating that my concerns were being addressed. Whether or not the issue is resolved in my favor, the fact that an elected official actually responded to my needs is not only impressive, but it also demonstrated that Pombo and his staff are “on the job” and taking an active role in representing the citizens in his 11th District.

So before we get too embedded in believing that Pombo’s intent was to take an all-expense-paid vacation for he and his family (on the taxpayers’ dime), doesn’t it seem just as believable that maybe he was taking the trip to get a low-profile, candid view of our parks by means that would be a savings to the taxpayers as well? If you’re still inclined to believe that Pombo is not being truthful about his trip and what he did on it, consider this: The man had his wife and children along with him on this trip. Would he really lie about this publicly, knowing that his wife and kids would know he was lying? I doubt it. We’re talking about Richard Pombo here, not Ted Kennedy!

• Larry Hite, a frequent contributor to the Tracy Press, is owner of a local home inspection service, president of the Tracy Rotary Club, a director of the Tracy Chamber of Commerce and chairman of Tracy Entrepreneurs.


Lest we forget, two things are relevant here if we as a party want to stand any chance of getting to "50(%)+1(vote)" (the magic number for victory in the 11th CD:

1) This is currently a primary election season where parties determine their choice as spearchucker, and any Democrat that thinks we should not be jumping ugly on Filson for his "errors in judgement" but instead be "loyal little clones" to the party effort should likewise be calling on McCloskey to strongly support Pombo in the general election even though McCloskey is certainly "jumping ugly" on Pombo right now

2) You are not going to get the needed votes from decline-to-state voters and disaffected "reds" when you make fun of them through pitiful and tasteless humor, and you are not going to show that you have a clue when you allow a 59 year old grandfather to post material on a site (MySpace) that is synonomous with two primary audiences:

a) kids under the age of 18 (who can't vote anyway), and
b) adults (usually older white males) who are admitted sexual predators, and who surf sites like that to specifically prey upon the young among us

This is not a race for dog catcher, or city council -- it is a race for the US House of Representatives, and as such, "Jane and Joe" in Tracy need to be given more than an "anything but Pombo" choice, they need to be compelled to lunge for the alternative to Pombo, and none of the three supposed "bright lights" on the horizon are activating any such behavior from us "blues", yet alone the "whites" or disaffected "reds".

$.02 out.

9:39 PM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger Matt said...

Mr 2% of a buck,

I'm not exactly sure what you're implying about SNTP's editing of the source material.

I try to make sure the stuff I copy complies with fair use exemptions of copyright law as I understand it, which admittedly is not very well. But basically I have been told not to copy the entire text of an article, and so I try to pare it down to what is necessary to read. And I probably include more than I ought to because so few people actually click through to the material.

But regardless, I really do mean that I don't know what you're trying to imply. If you want to furnish a criticism about material included or excluded from an excerpt, feel free. But simply implying in an offhand manner that we do something bad is not really helpful for anyone.

10:07 PM, February 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr 2% of a buck to take on this clearly defensive (that alone says volumes) slur (what? you thought I have no gloves to put on?) -- you have been one of the most egregious "editors" when it comes to "editing" the substance of a rather lengthy article down to what YOU determine worthy of being shared on this blog.

What we learned at where I went to school is that the motto of the venerable New York Times -- "All the News that's Fit to Print" can be further parsed as "...and who Decides...what's Fit to Print? We Do!"

You can fool some folks with your disingenuous "who, me?" act, but not everyone buys it, buddy.

$.02 out.

10:33 PM, February 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. 2% of a buck here -- with an example of how you give unbiased, copyright-protected attribution to a piece of good, balanced journalism from a media professional, with NO "biased" edits:


Eyeing ’08, McCain courts Bush loyalists
Arizona Republican beats a path to president’s best donors and allies

By Dan Balz
The Washington Post
Updated: 9:36 p.m. ET Feb. 11, 2006

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a man in perpetual motion, flew to South Carolina on Jan. 16. His stops included a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and speeches to local Republican groups. But one of his most important events was not on the public schedule -- a 5 p.m. meeting at a Spartanburg hotel with loyalists to President Bush.

A dozen or so people were in attendance. At least two were among Bush's major national fundraisers. Virtually all had been on Bush's side in the bitter 2000 South Carolina primary that badly damaged McCain's chances of winning the presidential nomination and scarred the relationship between the two men and their rival political camps. McCain was there to woo them.

"For people who were really strong for Bush, I feel like this was a dating meeting," said Barry Wynn, Bush's state finance co-chairman in 2000 and 2004 and a Pioneer for Bush both times, meaning he raised $100,000 for each campaign. "He's not quite ready to ask us to go steady. But I was a little surprised at the reaction, including my own reaction. I was much more positive than I thought I'd be going to the meeting."

With a 2008 campaign in the offing, McCain has begun an intensive courtship of Bush's financial and political networks. His recent travels included a December swing through the heart of Bush country in Texas that put him in front of many of the president's leading supporters there.

Party gives McCain a second look
In 2000, McCain proved better at attracting independent voters than Republicans, and his success in overcoming doubts about him within his own party holds the key to his prospective candidacy. As Republicans look toward 2008 and worry about maintaining the White House, a streak of pragmatism has drawn them to look again at a man who often has been an antagonist of the president and party leaders.

McCain, who was not interviewed, will not make a final decision about running until after November, aides said. In anticipation of a likely campaign, he appears eager to reach accommodation with longtime GOP adversaries. He has undertaken the kind of practical steps necessary to enhance his chances of winning the nomination, focusing on organizations in states critical to winning the GOP nomination and building relationships with Republicans who rejected him in 2000.

There are many obstacles. Many conservatives, particularly social conservatives, still distrust him. His outreach to party insiders could threaten his appeal as a maverick. His mercurial personality could still cause problems with some of those with whom he has sought to mend relations. His age, now 69, could deter some voters; if elected he would be the oldest president-elect in history.

But recent events and McCain's record have coincided to make the Arizona senator newly attractive to many Republicans. After the scandal involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Republicans are scrambling to associate themselves with McCain's image as a reformer. They also praise McCain for his role in smoothing the confirmation of Bush's judicial nominations.

A brand in demand
McCain's upcoming schedule, which includes trips to New Hampshire, Iowa, Ohio, California, Florida, Minnesota, Arkansas and New Jersey, reflects the convergence between his political ambitions and his growing demand among Republicans. "The McCain brand in this environment is something people want, and they're breaking down the door of McCain's operation to get an appearance or an endorsement," said GOP strategist David Carney.

Fiscal conservatives, alarmed by the ballooning federal deficit on the president's watch, have been drawn to McCain as someone who says he can rein in spending -- though they remain suspicious of his commitment to tax cuts. "He's reaching out to all of us," said Mallory Factor, chairman of the Free Enterprise Fund. "He may not be winning converts, but he's making gains."

Most important may be the admiration McCain earned for his steadfast support of Bush in the 2004 campaign and his unyielding defense of the president's decision to go to war in Iraq. Despite a public quarrel with Bush over torture policy late last year, a number of Republicans loyal to Bush now see McCain as perhaps best positioned to continue the president's national security policies.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a McCain supporter who helped arrange the Arizona senator's South Carolina itinerary, called the confluence of events "gifts of the political gods," adding, "Nobody's going to get to the right of John on the war or spending."

As the torture policy battle showed, McCain is not reluctant to challenge the White House, even as he reaches out to Bush supporters. Relations between the Bush and McCain camps have improved, but there is no assumption on the part of McCain advisers that Bush will lend him any direct support if he runs for president.

Two-pronged approach
McCain's activities, which have been shaped under the guidance of his chief political adviser, John Weaver, reflect overlapping political priorities. The first appears to be expanding his fundraising network, starting with Bush's Rangers (those who raised $200,000) and Pioneers (those who raised $100,000). He also has signed up John Moran, who was finance chairman for Robert J. Dole's 1996 presidential campaign.

The second underscores McCain's commitment to build or bolster political organizations in key states on the nomination calendar. He skipped Iowa in 2000 but cannot afford to do so again, and an April trip there on behalf of gubernatorial candidate Rep. Jim Nussle (R) will help establish a beachhead in that state. His New Hampshire team remains solid, and he has begun to attract supporters of the president.

No state is getting more attention from McCain than South Carolina, given the senator's loss there in 2000. With Graham's help, McCain has been systematically meeting with prospective supporters who were with Bush in the past. In November, he had lunch in Columbia with John Rainey and C. Edward Floyd, state co-chairmen of Bush's finance team in 2004. His team has reached out to Warren Tompkins, the state's leading Republican strategist who ran Bush's operations there. Tompkins said he is "genuinely up in the air" about 2008. Floyd, too, said he is far from committed.

Michigan is another prime target. McCain won the state in 2000, but Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) could be a threat there because of his family roots. Romney's father, the late George Romney, was governor in the 1960s.

"I'll be sitting having a cup of coffee and the phone will ring and it will be McCain," said Charles "Chuck" Yob, Michigan's GOP national committeeman. He described the senator as "a lot more conservative than a lot of conservatives give him credit for."

McCain has helped raise money for the Michigan GOP, and Yob returned the favor at last month's Republican National Committee meeting in Washington by helping to organize a private lunch for McCain with about 20 state party officials from around the country.

Strengthening inroads
McCain's early strategy includes an effort to build links to party conservatives, or at least minimize their antagonism to him. He made an early endorsement of Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, who is running for governor; held a 90-minute meeting last fall with the Rev. Jerry Falwell, whom he had attacked during the 2000 campaign; and attended a private dinner with conservatives, hosted by the American Spectator magazine.

David A. Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, said that McCain's "chances are enhanced if there's not a crusade against him" among conservatives but that many conservatives still believe McCain is personally antagonistic toward them. "They think that, if he had his way, it would be a party without them," Keene said.

Deep in the heart of Texas
With Bush heading toward private life after 2008, McCain is building alliances in Texas. His four-day trip in December included receptions in Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and Houston attended by many of the president's leading allies.

A principal organizer and hosts at a dinner for McCain at the San Antonio Country Club on Dec. 9 were former House member and lobbyist Tom Loeffler and his wife, Nancy. Both are longtime members of the Bush political family, but Loeffler also enjoys a close relationship with McCain, dating to their days together in the House in the early 1980s.

That relationship was interrupted by the 2000 campaign, when the Loefflers stayed loyal to Bush. Now they are enthusiastic members of the prospective McCain 2008 operation, and a few weeks after the Texas trip, each contributed $5,000 to McCain's Straight Talk America political action committee. "If needed, I'd wash bottles and change the tires on the Straight Talk America van," Tom Loeffler said.

Gunning for Hillary Clinton
McCain's host at a luncheon in Dallas was Tom Hicks, who bought the Texas Rangers baseball team from the president and his partners in 1998 and was a Bush Ranger in 2004. In Austin, former representative Kent Hance, a Bush Pioneer in 2004, gathered 38 people at his home on a Sunday night to meet McCain. Among them was Hance's next-door neighbor Joe Allbaugh, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Bush's 2000 campaign manager.

Without endorsing McCain, he said the GOP will need a strong candidate if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) is the 2008 Democratic nominee. "She's very political and a talent to be reckoned with," he said. "The Republican Party has to be as smart, as aggressive and political about the '08 nominee."

While in Austin, McCain, mindful that Bush and the current governor have not always been on the closest of terms and that sitting governors can be helpful in nomination battles, took time for breakfast with Gov. Rick Perry (R), the second private meeting between the two in a matter of months. McCain also met with former governor William P. Clements in Dallas.

From Texas, McCain flew to Florida for a scheduled book-signing in Jacksonville Beach. En route, however, he found time for a strategic stop in Tallahassee, where he had lunch with Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R). Traveling with McCain that day was Mark McKinnon, Bush's chief media consultant, who already is signed up to help McCain in 2008 -- unless the president's brother or Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice unexpectedly enters the race.

McKinnon is the only senior member of Bush's team to commit publicly to McCain, but others are interested. One strategist, who played an instrumental role in the 2004 campaign but did not want to be identified because he is still looking at 2008 options, said, "I thought he would be a contender and a good general election nominee, but a year ago I would not have thought I would be seriously considering being with him. Now I am."

Staff writer Charles Babington, special correspondent Chris Cillizza and political researcher Zachary A. Goldfarb contributed to this report.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

© 2006



$.02 out.

11:12 PM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger babaloo said...

$.02 --
The Daily Kos "Community Norms" site links to this diary by Soj which includes the following (selectively edited) quote: "Under standard internet 'etiquette' and the law in most countries, quoting an entire article from another source is usually prohibited. Make sure you quote just part of an article or another website and put a link (see official FAQ!) for readers to click on to read it in its entirety."

I don't know of any blog where articles are quoted in toto precisely because of the copyright issues mentioned by both Matt and Soj. I also don't know of any blogs where quotes are posted without accompanying links so that the excerpted material can be fully read and credited to its original author.

It seems to me that if you feel something has been selectively quoted in a biased manner and/or is being used out of context, the particular post or comment that you take issue with might be the appropriate place to address that concern. That's why there's a "Comments" section. But I have to agree with Matt that making blanket assertions of improper "editing" is just not helplful to the dialogue.

I'm a little more troubled by your assertion that Matt is being disingenuous in his comments on the blog. Adults can disagree over many things, but hurling invective is both rude and unproductive. I know that expressing cogent ideas in a well-reasoned manner is a lot more work, but it really is worth the extra effort.

11:43 PM, February 11, 2006  

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