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January 11, 2004 - The odd side of politics this week...

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Truth in Advertising: Do NOT Drive a Volvo!



Much has been said in the last few days about the MoveOn.org anti-Bush advertisements that have Bush morphing into Hitler and all that.  But that was two of thirty "draft" advertisements, none broadcast, and those two were withdrawn with an apology for their "poor taste."

What about actual advertisements that got on air?

See Conservatives launch TV attack ad on Dean
Ralph Z. Hallow, The Washington Times, Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Here's the skinny:


A conservative advocacy group will begin running a TV ad in Iowa against Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, in a move questioned by some of President Bush's supporters.

The Club for Growth Political Action Committee said the 30-second spot against the former Vermont governor will begin running in Des Moines today - two weeks before the Iowa Democratic caucuses.

In the ad, a farmer says he thinks that "Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading ..." before the farmer's wife then finishes the sentence: "... Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont, where it belongs."

... The Club for Growth was founded in 1999 to elect what it calls "pro-economic growth fiscal conservatives."  Mr. Moore said the club and its members raised or donated more than $10 million to help elect 17 new members to Congress in the 2002 election cycle.

Mr. Moore said his PAC will announce next week a $4 million campaign to counter the expected, massive ad campaign by what he calls "left-wing groups" largely funded by liberal activists and businessmen such as George Soros and Peter Lewis.


Well, not one latte for me now.  Never liked latte that much, anyway.

And even the Republicans think this advertisement is not exactly useful.

Over at the Atrios-Eschaton blog one finds this:


Imagine if I ran an ad which went something like "George Bush should take his negro-lynching, anti-intellectual, pig- feet eating, sister-screwing, wife-beating..." before the farmer's wife then finishes the sentence: "... KKK-loving, right-wing freak show back to Texas where it belongs."

Mine's slightly more over the top than the actual Club for Growth ad, but it's no more incorrect.  For some reason it's perfectly valid to make just about any regional stereotype about the Hollywood and Northeastern "elite," (which, we should remember, was just code for "JOOs and Negro-lovers"), but people get all sensitive when one stereotypes the South and Texas.  I don't think such regional stereotypes are particularly enlightening or useful, but nor do I think their invocation should provoke the kind of outrage that genuine racism should. But why the double standard?

Of course, the amusing thing about the Club for Growth ad is how wrong it is - Vermont is not part of the "elite Northeast" to the extent that it exists, it's a small rural farm state.  And for the record, Vermont has precisely two Starbucks for all those latte drinkers to go to.


Just for the record, David Frum, Bush's former speechwriter and the man who gave us the "axis of evil" concept, has a minor criminal record - he did beat up his wife a few times.  The rest about lynchings, pig-feet, and anti-intellectual tendencies you can work out on your own.

Oh well.

Say, are there really regional stereotypes about the Hollywood?

Of course, and they all have much truth to them.

Are we all looking forward to the upcoming campaign?  We're well beyond Willie Horton and the revolving prison door.

Democracy: Necessary and Sufficient Conditions



Those libertarian guys over at the Cato Institute are tons of fun.  

See Can Iraq Be Democratic?  
by Patrick Basham, January 5, 2004
Patrick Basham is a senior fellow with the Center for Representative Government of the Cato Institute.  

Here's the core of what Pat says:


Is Iraq capable of moving smoothly from dictatorship to democracy?  This paper contends that the White House will be gravely disappointed with the result of its effort to establish a stable liberal democracy in Iraq, or any other nation home to a large population of Muslims or Arabs, at least in the short to medium term.


Not good.  


The building blocks of a modern democratic political culture are not institutional in nature.  The building blocks are not elections, parties, and legislatures.  Rather, the building blocks of democracy are supportive cultural values - the long-term survival of democratic institutions requires a particular political culture.  

Four cultural factors play an essential, collective role in stimulating and reinforcing a stable democratic political system.  The first is political trust.  The second factor is social tolerance.  The third is a widespread recognition of the importance of basic political liberties.  The fourth is popular support for gender equality.


It seems getting a secular, free-market capitalist representative democracy up and running by mid-summer over in those parts might be a stretch.  

Heck, it's a getting to be a stretch over here.  

Political trust?  Not a whole lot of that going around these days here at home.  

Social tolerance?  We say pretty things about that.  And, we really will accept you - heck, were tolerant of all kinds of folks like you - if you accept Jesus as your personal savior, and you think Britney Spears' twelve-hour marriage was far more moral than any "gay marriage" ever could be, and you think abortion is murder and assassinating doctors who perform them is justified, and you think everyone who uses illegal drugs should be executed, except for Rush Limbaugh, and that Bill Bennett knows how we all should act - just as Martha Stewart knows which chafing dish is correct.  Yeah, we're tolerant.  As long as you don't talk down George.  He knows best.  

Basic political liberties?  Here?  As long as you watch what you say, and where you say it.  And as long as you don't get all uppity about you so-called "right to privacy."  There's a war on, remember?  

Gender equality?  As Phyllis Schlafly.  Gender equality is code for those anti-Christian New York types who flaunt God's law about women's holy obedience to their male sovereign.  She knows about happy marriages.  Ask her.  

Yep, we're doing fine.