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Friday Talking Points [139] -- Three Years Of FTP

[ Posted Friday, September 17th, 2010 – 16:42 PDT ]

Last week was a busy one, and also a pretty good one for Democrats, all around. But we'll get to all of that in a moment.

First, though, we simply must wish ourselves a happy third anniversary. Woo hoo! Three years of FTP columns!

The first of these weekly columns (before we even began numbering the volumes) ran on September 14, 2007, and was a bit crude in comparison to the finely-tuned punditry you read today (ahem). On our first anniversary, we handed out the MIDOTW award to Craig Ferguson, for delivering a rant on his late-night show that was so amazing I had to transcribe it as a public service to all. The second anniversary last year found us suggesting what President Obama should say after the "gaffe" of calling Kanye West exactly what he should have been called (Talking Point Number Five):

"Well, that was supposed to be off the record, but you're right, I did call Kanye West a jackass. I apologize if my language offended anyone, but I think I spoke for most of the country on that matter, and I stand behind what I said. Don't you think he was a jackass?"

The more astute among you will notice that 52 times three equals somewhat more than 139 columns. This is so these anniversaries will sneak up on you, unexpectedly. Well, no. It's actually due to a combination of laziness and pre-emption. Occasionally I take a break from writing, and run repeat columns. Also, occasionally I run other columns on Friday, such as my year-end wrapup where I hand out awards left, right, and center (which is so long it takes two columns to cover). All of this adds up to less than 52 columns per year (last year we clocked in at only 45 FTP columns, for instance). But enough of this self-congratulation, as we've got a lot to cover this week, so let's get on with it, shall we?

As I said, it was a pretty good week for the White House and Democrats in general. A signature foreign policy objective of President Obama's moved forward in the Senate, the treaty with Russia to reduce our nuclear stockpile. The federal budget deficit was down 13 percent last month, not that the media noticed or anything. And a small business tax cut and aid package made it through the Senate, even though all but two Republicans voted against it. It is expected to pass the House easily and be on Obama's desk for signature next week.

Other than voting against tax cuts (that Obama suggests), Republicans also kept busy during the week. A Republican leader in South Carolina posed for a monumentally insensitive photograph. In other jaw-dropping news, the Republicans in the Senate released their plan to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. This plan has $300 billion in budgetary spending cuts, which sounds like a lot, until you realize that the tax cuts they're proposing would cost thirteen times as much money as they saved -- a whopping $3.9 trillion-with-a-T. Meaning their plan would add $3.6 trillion to the deficit and the debt. Way to get all fiscally responsible, Republicans! But we'll have much more on this later, never fear.

So, nothing much else happened in the political week, did it? Hah! Surely we jest! There were two big news stories we saved for last, just because. The first was the last big day of primary season, where the Tea Party scored another upset win over establishment Republicans, nominating Christine O'Donnell as the GOP Senate candidate from Delaware. Ever since, all sorts of amusing things have been unearthed about her past (see: the entire Lefty blogosphere for the past few days). Beau Biden sustained minor injuries from kicking himself after the results were in (just kidding), for not running as the Democratic candidate. Delaware was supposed to be an easy Republican pickup seat in the Senate, and they had a great candidate groomed and ready to go who likely would have cruised to victory. Now, they've got a train wreck. The most delicious aspect of all of this was watching Republicans savage each other the day afterwards (thanks for the memories, Karl Rove et al!).

Now, I'm not totally writing O'Donnell's chances off here, I should point out. That's because, more than a day after her victory, I had that lightbulb-over-the-head moment of saying: "Oh... she's that Christine O'Donnell?!?" Because I remember her well from her many Politically Incorrect appearances from roughly a decade ago. Bill Maher had her on his show for a number of reasons, not least of which she was cute in that wholesome girl-next-door kind of way. But the main two reasons she was invited on the show so much, defending and proselytizing her religious views to a very unresponsive audience, was that she was entertaining, and she never backed down -- and managed to stay mostly cheerful while doing so. Maher's views on religion are well known, and his other guests were equally relentless in their criticism of O'Donnell's unbending views on God (and sex). But she just kept smiling and being adorable throughout it all.

In other words, the media world has it wrong when they label O'Donnell "the next Sarah Palin" or "Palin East" -- O'Donnell was actually the pre-Palin (or "proto-Palin," perhaps).

Which is why I'm not totally writing her chances off yet. She's been media savvy for a lot longer than Palin, and she seems to have moderated her views slightly (or she has learned to appear this way in order to appeal to a wider audience, take your pick). So we'll see what the Delawareans think of her schtick, now that she's in the center ring (so to speak). Having said all of that, though, her primary victory certainly is the best news Democrats have gotten since Sharron Angle won in Nevada, and could even deny Republicans control of the Senate next year.

Speaking of other news to make Democrats smile, Elizabeth Warren was just named as Barack Obama's first economic advisor to truly put the little guy first. For reasons I laid out yesterday, I refuse to see this as anything other than good news. Now, some on the Left are grumbling a bit about her appointment, but seriously some of these people can't take "yes" for an answer. They say they "don't want half a loaf," but they probably wouldn't be happy unless they got the whole loaf, the entire bakery, the grist mill down the street, and the wheat farms producing the grain.

Warren's appointment was an olive branch offered by Obama to the fervent Democratic base (in other words, just about anyone who recognizes her name without having to be told who she is). Because of the way she was given the job, she can start work right away instead of having to wait for the Senate to confirm her. Confirmation would not have been a sure thing, and it likely wouldn't have even taken place until (at the very earliest) the lame duck session -- if at all. Her new title theoretically gives her full access to the Oval Office (it's the same official "rank" as Rahm Emanuel has), and Obama will -- finally! -- have an economic advisor who considers what people who don't work on Wall Street have to say about things.

As I said, for the life of me, I can't see how this has any downside. Of course, your mileage may vary, as they say.

But this intro is running way too long as it is, so let's get on with the awards.

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

Before we get to the main event, we've got a few Honorable Mention awards to hand out. Chris Coons gets one, by default. He's the Democratic candidate who will now be taking on Christine O'Donnell for Joe Biden's old Senate seat in Delaware. Few politicians ever see such a stunning turn of fortune -- and fewer still due to the other party's missteps, rather than their own words or actions. Charlie Rangel also gets a nod this week, for winning his own primary even though large ethical thunderclouds hang over his head. In his district, winning the Democratic primary is pretty much "winning the entire election," so he will hang on to his House seat as a result.

Two Honorable Mention group awards were also earned last week. The first goes to the Democratic National Committee, for putting out a new ad entitled "BoehnerLand" (which is pretty self-explanatory). Nicely done, guys! And the second group award goes to One Nation Working Together, who is putting together a march on Washington slated to take place early next month (on the catchy date: 10/2/10). Check out their website at www.onenationworkingtogether.org to see all the details.

But the real winner of the coveted Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award this week can be no other than Elizabeth Warren. The whole concept of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was her idea initially, she fought hard to make it as strong as possible in the bill that passed (mostly by fighting timid Senate Democrats, it should be pointed out), and now she gets to set the whole thing up and has full access to President Obama while doing so. That is indeed impressive. Of course, we fully expect she'll win a few more of these awards, but we'd like to congratulate her on her first MIDOTW award, as well as her new job.

Best headline of the week, which describes far more than the accompanying photo, was from Salon: "To the Left of Obama, Elizabeth Warren." Whatever editor came up with that one deserves a raise.

[Since the C.F.P.B. is not yet up and running, you'll have to congratulate Elizabeth Warren via the White House contact page, to let them all know you appreciate her appointment.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

There were a whole lot of disappointing Blue Dog Democrats up for the award this week, for proving once and for all their inherent Republican nature. A bunch of them signed a letter in support of extending the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy, to pressure Nancy Pelosi and the White House on the issue before it comes to a vote. By doing so, they have shown without a shadow of a doubt that they are incredible hypocrites when they use fears of "the deficit" to vote against Democratic proposals. Because now their list of priorities is clear:

(1.) Tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.

(Some number far down the list from number 1.) Solving the deficit.

Thanks for clearing that up, guys. The White House -- astonishingly enough -- pushed back on this hypocrisy. For all the Blue Dogs lining up now to prove how fiscally irresponsible they are, we simply have to hand out (Dis-)Honorable Mention awards all around.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, shadow member of the House of Representatives for Washington, D.C., left a voice mail with a lobbyist nakedly begging for money. The transcript is pretty eyebrow-raising:

I'm simply candidly calling to ask for a contribution. As the senior member of the committee and a subcommittee chair, we have (chuckles) obligations to raise funds. And, I think it must have been me who hasn’t, frankly done my homework to ask for a contribution earlier. So I'm trying to make up for it by asking for one now, when we particularly need contributions, particularly those of us who have the seniority and chairmanships and are in a position to raise the funds.

This used to be known as "selling your vote" or "trading on your influence," but we have to admit that this is the normal way of doing business in Washington these days, by members of both parties. The only difference in Norton's case is that she left a recording of it, which was then leaked to the "media." So we really can't give her more than a (Dis-)Honorable Mention, since she's right in defending her words with the "everyone does it" excuse.

Chuckles, indeed.

This week, however, our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week is none other than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Immediately after Chris Coons' surprising good news in the Delaware primary, Reid opened his mouth wide and inserted his foot to approximately mid-shin. Here's what Harry had to say:

I'm going to be very honest with you -- Chris Coons, everybody knows him in the Democratic caucus. He's my pet. He's my favorite candidate. Let me tell you about him: A graduate of Yale Divinity School. Yale Law School. A two-time national debate champion. He represents two-thirds of the state now, in an elected capacity. I don't know if you've ever seen him or heard him speak, but he is a dynamic speaker. I don't mean loud or long; he's a communicator. So that's how I feel about Delaware. I've always thought Chris Coons is going to win. I told him that and I tried to get him to run. I'm glad he's running. I just think the world of him. He's my pet."

Seriously, Harry, "He's my pet"?!? How, exactly, did you think that was going to help his chances of getting elected? I mean, maybe if you were a beloved elder Democratic statesman (think Teddy Kennedy, for instance) known for his wit, you might have gotten away with saying something like that. But you just aren't. On either count, really.

Now, it is likely that nobody in Delaware is going to change their vote because of what Harry said. But if O'Donnell's smart, she's already splicing this into her next television ad, which would run something along the lines of: "Coons... lap dog for Harry Reid..." or possibly some play on the cat breed named "Maine Coon."

For this awkward "endorsement," Harry Reid wins our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award.

Next time, Harry, please take brain out of neutral before engaging mouth, OK?

Sigh.

[Contact Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on his Senate contact page, to let him know what you think of his actions.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 139 (9/17/10)

Well, this is an eclectic list this week. Not all of them even really fit into our normal template of "talking points for Democrats everywhere to start using this weekend." But that's OK, it's our anniversary so we get to do what we want today. Because we said so, so there.

I have fun here each week doing what I suppose (since it is "football metaphor season") you could call "Friday afternoon quarterbacking" -- attempting to suggest how to frame Democratic points in ways pleasant to the listener's ear. To be fair, though, I have to give you all a chance to hear how I perform when I get the chance to do so myself.

This morning, I was interviewed on the East Village Radio podcast show "Shock and Awesome" by the dynamic duo T.J. and the Tux. While most of what I talked about was election analysis, I felt it would only be fair to blatantly plug... ahem... what I meant to say was, "give others a chance to see how I do at this sort of thing." So listen to today's show (it's a two-hour show, I come on about an hour-and-a-half into it), or if that link doesn't work, go to the show's site and click on today's date to hear.

Shameless self-promotion out of the way, let's move right along to the talking points.

 

1
   Tax cuts increase the deficit

This is such a basic, basic thing. But Democrats need to hammer on it, with every chance they get, because the media certainly hasn't figured this basic, basic thing out yet. I mean, even the Republicans have, for the most part, given up on trying to sell the snake oil of "tax cuts pay for themselves," because it has so obviously been proven false, over and over again, every single time they try it. But just because Republicans have quietly conceded this point doesn't mean Democrats shouldn't take the field and hammer away at it. Because it's such a basic thing, it is easily understandable to just about everyone. If, that is, you make the effort.

"Well, before I answer your question, I have to point out a basic economic fact: tax cuts raise the deficit. They just do. That is the way the world works. If you cut taxes, the government takes in less money. As long as we're all agreed upon this basic fact. Because the same people fighting hard for tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires right now are the ones who have been tearing their hair out over the deficit for the past year or so. But now, apparently, the deficit doesn't matter so much as giving millionaires an extra $100,000 a year, does it?"

 

2
   Which is your highest priority? Cutting taxes, or cutting the deficit?

Which leads straight in to the next point.

"You can't have it both ways. It's just flat-out hypocrisy to do so. You can either have as your number one priority reducing the deficit, or you can have as your number one priority cutting taxes on millionaires. You cannot have both. So which is it to be? Tax cuts? Or the deficit? Which is the most important, and which can be sacrificed to achieve your highest priority? The voters deserve to know, because the two are mutually exclusive. And as for all of that 'we've got to give millionaires tax cuts to create jobs' nonsense -- where are the jobs? The Bush tax cuts are a decade old, and I don't notice them producing many jobs. So why continue an already failed policy, in the hopes that a few jobs might appear in another decade or so? It makes no sense."

 

3
   Biggest deficit hike in all of American history

As mentioned previously, the Republicans just announced their tax-and-spending-cuts plan, and the numbers simply don't add up (as everyone who doesn't need their fingers to count could have predicted). In fact, they add up to adding $3.9 trillion to the deficit and debt.

Because he did a great job on this subject already, I'm turning this talking point over to Ezra Klein of the Washington Post, for pointing out in stark terms what this means. Take it away, Ezra (most of his article is excerpted here, but it's worth checking the link out to see the accompanying graph):

There is no policy that President Obama has passed or proposed that added as much to the deficit as the Republican Party's $3.9 trillion extension of the Bush tax cuts. In fact, if you put aside Obama's plan to extend most, but not all, of the Bush tax cuts, there is no policy he has passed or proposed that would do half as much damage to the deficit. There is not even a policy that would do a quarter as much damage to the deficit.

The stimulus bill, at $787 billion, would do about a fifth as much damage. But that's actually misleading: The stimulus bill was a temporary expense (not to mention a response to an unexpected emergency). Once it's done, it's done. An indefinite extension of the Bush tax cuts is, well, indefinite. It will cost $3.9 trillion in the first 10 years. And then it will cost more than that in the second 10 years. Call that number Y. And then it will cost more than Y in the third 10 years. And so on and on into eternity. Comparatively, the stimulus bill is a tiny fraction of that. The bank bailouts, which were passed by George W. Bush and the Democrats in 2006, will end up costing the government only $66 billion. The health-care bill improves the deficit outlook.

Republicans and tea party candidates are both running campaigns based around concern for the deficit. But both, to my knowledge, support the single-largest increase in the deficit that anyone of either party has proposed in memory.

 

4
   Don't back down! Fight!

President Obama is surprising many by holding strong (so far) on the issue of extending the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. He seems to be ready for this fight. And he doesn't sound like he's backing down.

Now, he may eventually have to -- let's just admit that up front. But that's immaterial right now. Because right now what is important is fighting for what you believe in. You don't enter negotiations by giving up your strongest bargaining position (see: healthcare reform). You don't begin the fight by waffling on what you're fighting about. You may not win everything you want, but the stronger you are entering the battle, the better a deal you will likely strike. Nancy Pelosi has done a fairly good job of understanding this for the past few years. Harry Reid, not so much. And Barack Obama hasn't even entered the early fray at all. Which makes it all the more notable his doing so on the Bush tax cuts battle. Maybe we're seeing Obama in "campaign mode" again, or maybe he's made a fundamental change in strategy (or, at the very least, tactics). Either way, it is refreshing to hear, for a change. Here's what Obama said to the press the other day, for instance:

Right now, we could decide to extend tax relief for the middle class. But once again, the leaders across the aisle are saying no. They want to hold these middle class tax cuts hostage.

. . .

If we can't get an agreement with the Republicans that's what will happen. Everyone's taxes will go up.

 

5
   End the secret hold!

Senators Claire McCaskill and Sheldon Whitehouse make an eloquent plea this week for everyone to pressure their senator to support ending an insidious Senate practice -- the "secret hold." While filibusters (cloture votes) are noticed publicly, the secret hold (no surprise, given its name) are not. A single senator can hold up any bill for any reason, and the public doesn't even get to know who is grinding things to a halt.

As they put it:

The use of "anonymous holds," the arcane procedure that allows a single senator to secretly torpedo any piece of legislation, has skyrocketed in the last few years. And with its rise, our ability to pass strong legislation -- and hold senators accountable for their actions -- has nosedived.

. . .

In politics, your record is the report card voters use to choose their representatives. If senators are allowed to continue to avoid public scrutiny, we can't hold them accountable. And without accountability, democracy fails.

 

6
   Political cartoon worth 1,000 words

Every so often, a political cartoon speaks louder than mere words. This is one of those times. I wish I could display it here, but being mindful of copyright laws I will instead direct you to this gem from Tom Toles of the Washington Post. For those of you too lazy to follow this link, here is my poor attempt at saying the same thing in a non-image-based way (what is technically called "using just words"), with full apologies to Toles for diminishing his work in such a fashion:

"The only thing the Tea Party seems to be throwing overboard is the establishment Republican Party, since they were the only ones on board with them in the first place."

 

7
   Diverse Tea

Speaking of words, Republicans are demonstrably terrified of ever using the word "minority," in any context whatsoever. Case in point, Mitch McConnell, whose official leadership title is "Senate Minority Leader." You will not find this title on his official web page, though. Instead, he is listed everywhere as "Senate Republican Leader."

Second case in point, a new (and, so far, desperate) effort to prove that there are indeed minorities in the Tea Party. This effort, led by Tea Party group Freedom Works has been titled "Diverse Tea" (Um... oh, wait, I get it -- "divers-i-ty"? Really? That's the best you could come up with? Wow.), and also shies away from the word "minority," much like a little girl would shrink in horror from a perceived monster in her closet. Seriously, they ask on the site: "Are you a Diverse Tea Partier?" Um, well, no. I don't think it's possible for one single human being to be "diverse," personally, but then I guess I'm one of those "elitists" who know what words mean and stuff.

Dana Milbank, after quite obviously after eating his full breakfast bowl of Snark-O's, has the full story. His article states that "As of Tuesday afternoon, the list of "Diverse Tea Partiers" on the site had reached a grand total of five." As of this writing on Friday, it's up to a very underwhelming nine entries.

"I noticed the Tea Party folks are trying to highlight minority participants, without a whole lot of success so far. Here's a suggestion: if you're trying to court minorities, don't be scared of actually using the term 'minority.' It even has that 'Tea' thing on the end there to make it easy."

 

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Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground
Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post

 

-- Chris Weigant

 

43 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [139] -- Three Years Of FTP”

  1. [1] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Chris,

    Since to my surprise there are no other comments at this moment; let me be the first to congratulate you on the three years. It is excellent, as always. More in just a jiff; I'm trying to be the first comment on this post.

  2. [2] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Now that I've accomplished that trivial feat; a few additional thoughts. I guess I'm just lucky sharing your time zone, it seems I'm one of the first fans to get to appreciate your latest words of wisdom. Anyhew, after about two years of following this site, I find it interesting that despite his ten-to-one comment ratio, the senior doomsayer has yet to convince any other CW afficiando of the brilliance of his certainty in his beliefs...I don't count the relatively new fellow traveller as a convert; they have independently shared the beliefs I heartily disagree with. To each their own, I do appreciate that they take the time to try to influence your loyal readership. Just doesn't seem to be catching on, though. So congratulations again on three years of FTP's, I hope to continue reading them into the distant future; and that you achieve the fame and fortune (I know you have modest dreams :D) you so richly deserve.

  3. [3] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Kevin -

    Yeah... it's quiet out there... too quiet...

    Heh.

    Ah, but the contrarians have their uses to me. Just think, I'd have to scour the right wing websites to see what the current thinking was "over there" without them! M and C save me lots of time, truth be told. To every commenter, there is a purpose (to paraphrase Ecclesiastes).

    :-)

    -CW

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    I find it interesting that despite his ten-to-one comment ratio, the senior doomsayer has yet to convince any other CW afficiando of the brilliance of his certainty in his beliefs..

    Don't worry... Come 3 Nov that 10-1 ratio will be up around 30-1... :D

    But I am truly honored to have such a high place in your thoughts, K... :D

    Michale.....

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    Something just occurred to me...

    Hay, gimme a break... It's 0344 here.. :D

    "It's Oh Six Hundred. What's the OH stand for?? OH MY GOD IT'S EARLY!!"
    -Robin Williams, GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM

    :D

    the senior doomsayer has yet to convince any other CW afficiando of the brilliance of his certainty in his beliefs..

    "That's not entirely accurate."
    -Defense Secretary Nimzicki, INDEPENDENCE DAY

    I seem to recall another CW "aficionado" stating quite clearly how he modified his thinking in a certain event due to our (mine and his) discussions here. I am too lazy to search out the reference, but it did happen..

    So there! ppppfffffffffftttttttttttt :D

    Michale.....

  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:

    Ah, but the contrarians have their uses to me. Just think, I'd have to scour the right wing websites to see what the current thinking was "over there" without them! M and C save me lots of time, truth be told. To every commenter, there is a purpose (to paraphrase Ecclesiastes).

    Not only that, but your sheer numbers are a lot better than the other sites that are nothing but echo chambers. Those sites are lucky if they get a comment or two a week... You get dozens of comments daily...

    That's what happens when one actually fosters real debates and mature discussions as opposed to just how many times one can say "motherf***er" in a commentary... :D

    No doubt about it. We got it good here. :D

    Michale.....

  7. [7] 
    Kevin wrote:

    I just read the first FTP, and after scanning the comments, at least some things haven't changed...:D

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    I just read the first FTP, and after scanning the comments, at least some things haven't changed...:D

    WOW, that was a blast from the past.. :D

    I wonder whatever happened to that guy... :D

    I like to think I have mellowed a bit since then...

    But it's likely I haven't....

    Michale.....

  9. [9] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Actually Michale, you have. I've been re-reading old postings and stumbled across Elizabeth's and my first comments. Ah, memories. And one last time, thank you for your techno help. Learning how to post links has made a HUGE difference in my communications with my friends. :D
    I forget which comment thread it was, but belated kudos on your "help me Obama-wan, you're my only hope" quip. Genius. :D

  10. [10] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Kevin -

    OK, I admit I re-read the column before I wrote FTP[139], but failed to read the comments. There were a lot of them! My favorite, the suggestion by CDub to use the following title format:

    "Free SEX with BRITNEY!"

    So, um, in FSWB[139]... Heh.

    I actually did use his other suggestion "Democratic Talking Points" for a few weeks before settling in on FTP and a number.

    And the rules have changed here, I now frown on posting entire articles' text. A link, then maybe a paragraph or two, but please don't post entire articles, as that could indeed get me into trouble.

    Also there were the beginnings of the "are talking points per se a "good thing" or a "bad thing" or a "neutral tool both sides can use" debate, which raged for weeks. I decided (no surprise) that they were a tool which could be a good thing if Dems would learn how to use it. If I had decided anything else, we wouldn't be reading this column today.

    But, for a blast from the past, here's the comment (by me) that truly began the entire past three years:

    I got to thinking after writing this column that this might be an interesting thing to do every Friday - put out a talking points memo for Democrats to use on the weekend talk shows. Sure, they'll probably ignore me, but it certainly seems like whoever is in charge of Democratic talking points (assuming there even IS anyone in charge -- a substantial assumption, it should be pointed out) doesn't really know what they're doing. Every so often there will be a week where the Dems score a few political points by repeating the same soundbite, but for the most part they're just all over the map.

    So what do you think of the idea of this becoming a weekly (Friday) feature? Good idea? Bad? Would it just get boring after a few weeks?

    Of course, since it would be weekly, I could go after very specific "hot issues" (which I normally don't do, read the "About the blog" page for why I philosophically try to stay away from "flash in the pan" stuff) -- and give Dems some snappy things to say about that week's issue du jour (issues de la semaine?).

    In the words of Brother Jerry, what a long strange trip it's been, eh?

    :-)

    Also, Kevin (and everyone else) -- your request and others like it made me write out the tips for links and bold and italic and all of that sort of thing in comments, and post them under the "Commenting Tips" page (see link immediately under the "Leave a Reply" label above the commenting box). So if anyone's been wondering how to do these things, check it out.

    -CW

  11. [11] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Chris,

    If that's a subtle hint to get me using your commenting tips tools, sorry, I'm too old and too much of a Luddite to bother...However, I do seem to still be able to get my points across :D

  12. [12] 
    Kevin wrote:

    And Chris, another thought...it was reading your FTP's that brought me here. I enjoyed all of your writings, but the FTP's inspired me to check out and appreciate this site...So on behalf of all us Weigantites, thanks for all your great work.

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    A hearty congratulations, Chris - I'm raising a glass in your honour!

    Wow! Another year has passed, another milestone reached. And, this just shows to go ya that time does indeed fly when you’re having fun!

    As you know, I have become a great fan of FTP because I have learned very well over these three years - only because you have been a great teacher who the Democrats will ignore at their great peril - that mastering the art of framing and communicating a message is paramount in this day and age.

    I have become fully aware of the fact that doing the right thing is not nearly enough for any administration - even the one we have now - and that any political leader worth his or her salt had better be up to the task of selling their ideas and sticking to their principles if they have any hope of moving their middle class friendly agenda forward ... the inevitable and unending chattering class of the “professional left”, notwithstanding. :)

    You and your FTP series have been responsible for changing my entire outlook on what is important in moving a political agenda forward.

    Here's looking forward to another great year of FTP and more fun discussion and debate with everyone here at CW.com!

  14. [14] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Kevin -

    No, no, that's what's known as an opportunity to inform the other commenters of something I updated recently which they may have missed... was just using the issue you brought up for a free plug, that's all!

    As for FTP, I'm glad I paid the seven bucks to register "fridaytalkingpoints.com" because it is a LOT easier for people to remember and spell than "chrisweigant.com" if you know what I mean!

    But "Weigantites"? Hmmm... "Weigantians"? "Weiganters"? "Weigantoons"? I gotta think about that...

    Liz -

    You weren't the only one who needed convincing that framing matters, even over on the Left. Many folks felt that the tactic itself was so tainted by the way the Right used it that it wasn't even a valid thing to suggest. As I said, this was a running battle for like the first six months of the column, and I still occasionally get comments on it from first-time readers. But I still firmly believe that this sort of thing can work wonders for Democrats, if they'd only learn how to do it a bit better. If they had all "seen the light" by now, then I'd be out of business in the FTP realm. I'm not, to put it mildly. I just hope that after three years, more folks with 202 area codes are reading it, that's all.

    :-)

    -CW

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW,

    But "Weigantites"? Hmmm... "Weigantians"? "Weiganters"? "Weigantoons"? I gotta think about that...

    We've had this discussion before.. :D I don't think anything was ever set though.

    I like "Weigantians" and my reasoning (as back then) was that it sounds kewl like "Atlantians" or, if you prefer the later nomenclature, "Lantians". That's pronounced 'Lan TEE Ends'.. :D

    As I said, this was a running battle for like the first six months of the column,

    Troo dat! :D Reading back over the first comments (Thanx, Kevin!! :D) ya took away one of the Leftie Bloggers main line of attacks.. Namely, "Yer just spouting Talking Points!!"... My natural response was, "Yea, so???" :D

    Ahhhhhh the memories... :D

    I still remember our first encounter. 5 Sep 2006... Wish HuffPo had an archive. :D

    Michale.....

  16. [16] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Weigantians works for me. Consider this a second vote for Michale's proposal...Unless Chris or the Mrs. really detest it.

  17. [17] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    I like "Weigantians" and my reasoning (as back then) was that it sounds kewl like "Atlantians" or, if you prefer the later nomenclature, "Lantians". That's pronounced 'Lan TEE Ends'...

    I favor "Weinauts" pronounced [why-nots] :)

  18. [18] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    correction: Weiganauts

    (the g and a are silent) hehehhe

  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:

    Well, dragging this back to political discussions, I read that the Left is slamming ODonnell because she "dabbled" in witchcraft in high school??

    Seriously??? HIGH SCHOOL???

    Obama was snorting cocaine in College... The Left doesn't seem to have any problem with that??

    Personally, I would take a hot witch over a druggie any day of the week... :D

    But that's just me....

    I guess the "Religious Freedom Warriors" of the Left aren't too keen about defending Wicca, eh???

    Hypocrites...

    Michale.....

  20. [20] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Seriously??? HIGH SCHOOL???

    Obama was snorting cocaine in College... The Left doesn't seem to have any problem with that??

    no, that was high school too. it's a silly criticism to make about anybody who hasn't done drugs for decades since, even if it were in college, as with bill clinton.

  21. [21] 
    Michale wrote:

    NYpoet,

    I can't find any specifics, but there is a lot written about Obama's drug and alcohol use in college...

    But that's beside the point.

    So we can agree that the Left's attack on O'Donnell for this "witchcraft" thing in High School is "silly"..

    Right???

    Especially in light of the fact that Wicca is a recognized religion and the Left has been all about religious freedom as of late...

    Michale.....

  22. [22] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    nypoet22 -

    Heh. Why nots? Heh heh.

    Michale -

    I've been out of touch this weekend. I heard the initial reaction to Maher's airing the O'Donnell bit, and to me it seemed like nothing more than laughter from the Left. So far, most of the actual attacks on O'Donnell have come from the Right, as far as I can see. But, like I said, I've been out of touch this weekend, so things may have moved on since then, I dunno.

    -CW

  23. [23] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW,

    Well, if you have the time to read thru over 12,000 comments.... :D

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/18/odonnell-witchcraft-politically-incorrect_n_722035.html

    It's just simply amazing to me that liberals could be so clueless in that they are acting EXACTLY like they accuse the Right of acting..

    The ignorance is simply mind-boggling.

    Michale.....

  24. [24] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Heheheh. I saw that O'Donnell witchcraft thing this weekend. Ridiculous.

    Why not just ask her about her beliefs instead? With all the noise, it's hard to figure out how extreme she really is. (I'm guessing pretty extreme.)

    It's just simply amazing to me that liberals could be so clueless in that they are acting EXACTLY like they accuse the Right of acting.

    Welcome to the corporate news media where we simply reprint the craziest stuff we can find to increase readership.

    Though w/ O'Donnell, at least they didn't make up the story.

    Maybe what we need is a rally to restore sanity. Hmmm ... cue the music ...

    http://www.rallytorestoresanity.com/

    Ok, everyone's probably already heard about this but it still makes me laugh.

  25. [25] 
    Michale wrote:

    David,

    Welcome to the corporate news media where we simply reprint the craziest stuff we can find to increase readership.

    It's not just that. If it were just corporate/media spin on events, that would be easy to ignore.

    I am talking about everyday Americans who, while professing to be liberals, act just as nasty and hateful and hurtful as they accuse Republicans of being.

    In my military/federal years, I was very VERY conservative. I would laugh and sneer at liberals and their "koom-bye-ya", "love in" mentality. But, deep down inside (WAY deep down) I respected that they could stand by their principles and their beliefs in the face of tremendous pressure..

    Liberals these days have none of that. Their only "principle" is to be against anyone or anything from the Right.. These latest religious freedom issues is a perfect example...

    "THIS GUY HAS THE FREEDOM TO BURN ANYTHING HE WANTS IN PROTEST!!! I DON'T CARE IF IT'S A SACRED BOOK!!! HE CAN BURN IT TIL..... WHAT'S THAT??? HE IS A CONSERVATIVE!!!??? HELL NO, HE CAN'T BURN THAT BOOK!!!! HE SHOULD BE SHOT AND KILLED AS A LESSON TO OTHERS THAT MIGHT TRY TO DO THE SAME THING!!!!"
    -Today's Typical Liberal

    It's a sad state of affairs when the Left seems to have more in common with thugs and terrorists and the Right seems to have more in common with foreign corporate interests than they have in common with their own fellow Americans....

    Michale.....

  26. [26] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Nothing personal, Michale. But each person can only be responsible for him or herself.

    And I think it's idiotic. And I've said so.

    And I don't see others on this site raging about how O'Donnell is a witch. Seems pretty subdued. And we're pretty liberal.

    What it really looks like is a HuffPo post that's been picked up by the media to try and create controversy. I would ask, why not interview Ms. O'Donnell about her political views?

    In fact, most of the outrageous broad generalizations here seem to be coming from ... ahem ... nevermind.

    Thugs and terrorists? Really? Come back to reality, Michale. We're really a pretty decent lot even though we disagree w/ you. None of us kill civilians mug little old ladies.

    Cheers
    David

    "The only time it's appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler. Or Charlie Chaplin in certain roles." - John Stewart

  27. [27] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Whups. Was supposed to say "None of us kill civilians or mug little old ladies"

  28. [28] 
    Michale wrote:

    David,

    And I don't see others on this site raging about how O'Donnell is a witch. Seems pretty subdued. And we're pretty liberal.

    By and large, the folks here are CW are the exception to a LOT of rules that govern Lefties these days... :D

    What it really looks like is a HuffPo post that's been picked up by the media to try and create controversy. I would ask, why not interview Ms. O'Donnell about her political views?

    I agree.. Why doesn't HuffPo or other Lefty outlets do that??

    Because they might find out that, hay, this lady makes a lot of sense...

    See the latest Rasmussen poll??

    Fifty-two percent (52%) of Likely U.S. Voters say their own views are closer to
    Sarah Palin's than they are to President Obama's

    Food for thought, eh??

    Thugs and terrorists? Really? Come back to reality, Michale. We're really a pretty decent lot even though we disagree w/ you. None of us kill civilians mug little old ladies.

    Yet it's undeniable that many on the Left sympathize more with terrorists and scumbags and less with the fellow Americans who want to throw them in a dark hole and throw away the key.

    It sure would be nice if the Left in general would maybe show as much sympathy for the VICTIMS of terrorism that they show for the terrorists themselves...

    Again, no one around here fits that description.. But there are plenty on the Left who do...

    "The only time it's appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler. Or Charlie Chaplin in certain roles." - John Stewart

    Couldn't agree more...

    Michale.....

  29. [29] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Yet it's undeniable that many on the Left sympathize more with terrorists and scumbags and less with the fellow Americans who want to throw them in a dark hole and throw away the key.

    Really Michale? I'm sorry, but I'm calling BS on that statement. This may surprise you, but my idea of cosmic justice for these obominations of "humans"
    is far worse and extreme than anything you've ever suggested. Short version..I would happily run them through wood chippers a millimeter at a time for eternity; so they could watch and feel their bodies pulped into jelly and perhaps learn to appreciate just what they inflict on the innocents they so blithely maim in the name of whatever CrapKing they believe in.

  30. [30] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Couldn't agree more.

    You realize of course that as you agree you continue to associate "the left" w/ terrorists.

    Have you ever thought that this might be offensive to the folks here? I find it tremendously offensive.

    After all, I don't imply all conservatives are thugs or terrorists just because I disagree w/ them.

    It's easy to go off on folks, but at the end of the day the only person you can change is yourself :)

    Cheers mate,
    -David

  31. [31] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Whoops. Meant abominations; I was just sputtering with disbelief at your "many on the Left sympathize" schtick. Were you beaten up by hippie children in grade school? Your hatred of any progressive opinion destroys every one of your arguments for me. I don't hate right-wingers, just shake my head at most of their naivete and ignorance. You, on the other hand, seem to have serious issues with anything "left". Anyhow, BS, BS, BS!!!!....:D

  32. [32] 
    Michale wrote:

    Kevin,

    Really Michale? I'm sorry, but I'm calling BS on that statement. This may surprise you, but my idea of cosmic justice for these obominations of "humans"
    is far worse and extreme than anything you've ever suggested. Short version..I would happily run them through wood chippers a millimeter at a time for eternity; so they could watch and feel their bodies pulped into jelly and perhaps learn to appreciate just what they inflict on the innocents they so blithely maim in the name of whatever CrapKing they believe in.

    As I have stated on many occasions, the people here are NOT representative of the "Left" in general.

    The Left in general wants to give these terrorists rights and compassion and consideration..

    Why do you think it is that known and proven terrorists are languishing around in Gitmo at the taxpayer's expense??

    Because the Left won't countenance to torturing their asses to wring every bit of useful intel out of them and then taking them out and feeding them to the gators...

    No, the Left wants to give them a trial and give them sanctuary and considerations and rights and all the other amenities of a CIVILIZED society..

    Terrorists, by definition, are not civilized.. They are animals. They should be treated as such...

    It's really that simple..

    David,

    See above..

    If the Left (present company excepted of course) doesn't want to be called terrorist sympathizers, the easy way to prevent it is to quit sympathizing with terrorists and supporting terrorist's "rights".

    Once again, I am not pointing the finger at anyone here...

    But the link between the Left and terrorist "rights" is undeniable..

    I am not sure how we got to "terrorists" from "witches".. I would much rather talk about witches.. :D

    I knew this really hot redhead in Chula Vista who.....

    Er.... Well, that's a story for another time... :D

    Michale.....

    Michale.....

  33. [33] 
    Michale wrote:

    Kevin,

    Whoops. Meant abominations; I was just sputtering with disbelief at your "many on the Left sympathize" schtick. Were you beaten up by hippie children in grade school? Your hatred of any progressive opinion destroys every one of your arguments for me. I don't hate right-wingers, just shake my head at most of their naivete and ignorance. You, on the other hand, seem to have serious issues with anything "left". Anyhow, BS, BS, BS!!!!....:D

    I DO have a serious issue with those on the Left who fight for terrorist's rights...

    It's because I have first hand seen the handiwork of terrorists and know deep in my soul (if I have one :D) that they deserve no rights.. No consideration or compassion...

    Just so we're clear.. My beef is with anyone who believes that terrorists are deserving of rights, consideration, compassion or anything allowed to a civilized person...

    If ya'all don't fit into that category, then the beers are on me!! :D

    Michale.....

  34. [34] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Sigh...If nothing else you are an excellent provocateur.
    Not living in your simplified reality, I think the problem the "left" has with your viewpoint is the innocents who get caught up in your paranoia. I have no problem with PROVEN terrorists doing a life sentence buried in an ant hill; it is the denial of basic human rights until it is conclusively proven that they are scumbags...Ever read Kafka? Put yourself in the place of some poor shmuck who's been indefinitely imprisoned without trial for many years, on the shaky word of some unidentified accuser who may well be a scumbag themself. Why are you afraid of trials to nail genuine terrorists to the fate they so richly deserve? There is ample evidence that there are a scarifying number of innocents languishing in prison without the basic right to defend themselves. We on your "hysterical left" simply want them lawfully proven guilty first. As the new president of my "rabid right", what is your problem with that?

  35. [35] 
    Michale wrote:

    Kevin,

    Again, we are not talking about the wrongfully accused. We are not talking about the "innocents" who are caught up in my "paranoia"..

    We are talking about confessed and proven terrorists..

    Whether you believe it or not, there are many on the Left who defend those proven and confessed terrorists..

    They are the ones who want to give them a "fair" trial and give them rights and all the compassion and consideration of our legal system.

    And THOSE people on the Left are the ones I have a problem with..

    And, if you take a sampling outside of CW.COM, you will find that THOSE people are the majority of the Left..

    You see!? We DO think alike!! We both have the same opinion on what to do with terrorists.. :D

    What's yer take on witches??? :D

    "She turned me into a newt!!"
    "A newt!!???"
    "Walll.... I got betta...."

    :D

    Michale.....

  36. [36] 
    akadjian wrote:

    But the link between the Left and terrorist "rights" is undeniable.

    No. It's not. No one supports "terrorist rights", Michale.

    We just disagree on how best to combat terrorism and over the burden of proof.

    But someone has cleverly marketed this as "terrorist rights" so as to get you all worked up.

    Same thing they're doing w/ Christine O'Donnell. Trying to paint her as a radical "witch". Ridiculosity!

    Hitler is Hitler. Stalin is Stalin. The terrorists are the people who flew the planes into the WTC. Unless you can fly on a broomstick, you're not a witch! Stop the madness!!! :)

    -David

  37. [37] 
    Kevin wrote:

    David,
    Thank you.

  38. [38] 
    Michale wrote:

    I REALLY want to talk about witches!! :D

    David,

    No. It's not. No one supports "terrorist rights", Michale.

    Actually, this is not accurate.

    Anyone who wants to try the Gitmo Five in civilian courts supports "terrorist rights"...

    We just disagree on how best to combat terrorism and over the burden of proof.

    There is no "burden of proof" with the Gitmo Five. They have confessed and the evidence against them is overwhelming.

    So we should take them out and shoot them, right?? Or try Kevin's idea and find the nearest wood chipper... :D

    Agreed??

    Michale.....

  39. [39] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Sadly, Michale, my knowledge of witches is lacking :). Though my favorite TV witch is Witch Hazel from the Bugs Bunny cartoons.

    So back to this other stuff which I agree isn't nearly as much fun.

    We could go back and forth on this (and in fact have) but I don't see the point as we already know where we each stand.

    You believe that these people are terrorists and they should be thrown in the chipper. I am not so sure these people are terrorists because I have not seen any evidence because everything, so far as I know, everything has been classified and conducted behind closed doors.

    Now I will admit that my knowledge of this case is probably not the latest. But everything I've seen looks like there's a lot of problems w/ Guantanamo and not a whole lot of proof.

    You will disagree and say the evidence is overwhelming. And we will have to agree to disagree. So we know how this turns out.

    Regardless, I'm pretty sure you're not Hitler though I can't see your mustache. And I know I don't support terrorist rights. And I'm pretty sure Kevin is not a terrorist either (though he is Canadian which is suspicious :)

    http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash2/hs335.ash2/61562_474751936116_580406116_7103398_6548346_n.jpg

    Cheers
    David

  40. [40] 
    Michale wrote:

    David,

    You believe that these people are terrorists and they should be thrown in the chipper. I am not so sure these people are terrorists because I have not seen any evidence because everything, so far as I know, everything has been classified and conducted behind closed doors.

    With regards to these nine accusations that you are putting us on trial for; to us, they are not
    accusations. To us they are badges of honor, which we carry with pride. Many thanks to God, for his
    kind gesture, and choosing us to perform the act of Jihad for his cause and to defend Islam and Muslims.
    Therefore, killing you and fighting you, destroying you and terrorizing you, responding back to your
    attacks, are all considered to be great legitimate duty in our religion. These actions are our offerings to God. In addition, it is the imposed reality on Muslims in Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, in the land of the two holy sites [Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia], and in the rest ofthe world, where Muslims are suffering from your brutality, terrorism, killing ofthe innocent, and occupying their lands and their holy sites. Nevertheless, it would have been the greatest religious duty to fight you over your
    infidelity. However, today, we fight you over defending Muslims, their land, their holy sites,and their religion as a whole.

    http://www.defense.gov/news/order%20regarding%20pro%20se%20filing%20to%20islamic%20resp%20to%20gov%209%20accusations.pdf

    Regardless, I'm pretty sure you're not Hitler though I can't see your mustache. And I know I don't support terrorist rights. And I'm pretty sure Kevin is not a terrorist either (though he is Canadian which is suspicious :)

    hehehehehehe

    So, let me ask you this..

    Do you favor a trial for Bin Laden??

    Or the wood chipper?? :D

    Michale.....

  41. [41] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Elizabeth...Curses! David is on to us! Cancel the plan and take appropriate evasive protocols...:D

  42. [42] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Re. Bin Laden...I'd be satisfied with your basic stoning...He'd have to approve or be the hypocritical little weasel he is.

  43. [43] 
    Michale wrote:

    David,

    Sadly, Michale, my knowledge of witches is lacking :). Though my favorite TV witch is Witch Hazel from the Bugs Bunny cartoons.

    Here ya go.... :D

    http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2020423_2020422,00.html?iid=moreontime

    Unfortunately Hazel didna make the cut... :D

    Michale.....

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