Thursday, September 16, 2004

Political Compass Redux

I wrote about The Political Compass a while back.

Well, turns out there are new developments.

1. The Blogosphere Political Compass Project

Sandor at The Zoo is running The Blogosphere Political Compass Project, to graph out the political philosophy of the blogosphere, based on The Political Compass. Note that the blogs represented are predominantly right-wing; my my my. Let's balance out that chart a little, people.
blogosphere political compass graph

How The Blogosphere Political Compass Project Works

Straight from The Zoo:
1) Go to the Political Compass web site and take the Political Compass Quiz. It takes about 10 minutes. Here at The Zoo we are well aware that the questions are not perfectly designed, so please refrain from sending us complaints. The BPCP is an attempt to get a general idea of blogger's political affiliation and should not be construed as definitive or infallible.

2) Send me your results, along with the name of your blog and the name you use when posting. The BPCP Graph will be updated twice monthly (on or about the 1st and 15th of every month). Note that all respondents will be researched to ensure that quiz results are coming from actual bloggers and have really been sent by the party in question.

[Please note that "send me" refers to Sandor at the Zoo, not Shaula at C101. I think this is a brilliant project but I'm not actually part of it.]

3) Each update includes links, immediately below the BPCP Graph, to the bloggers new to the project. A permanent list of BPCP participants is maintained further down the page and new additions will "slide down" onto it with the following update.
You see? How simple. How lovely. How fun.

But as I cast my eyes up at that is just so lop-sided. Heavend forfend that the right-wing blogosphere tout this as indicative of their relative numbers/strength. (It's a propaganda war out there case you hadn't come to that conclusion on your own.)

So please, take the quiz, send in your results, and let's get that graph tidied up. :)

I took a look through the blog listings on Sandor's site--he doesn't tag the blogs on the graph yet, although he's working on it, and he does list the blogs, along with blogger names, and their rankings. Contributors to multi-author blogs seem invited to participate! So all y'all, send in your results and get your name and C101 on his list. :)

Non-bloggers are also invited to take the test and leave their results in the comments section here; we're always interested to learn more about C101 readers.

2. The Political Compass Scandal

I know...amazing what wonks get really excited about.

I posted about the Blogosphere Political Compass Project on BOP today, in an article called colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back (a fairly obscure reference to the lyrics of Arlo Guthrie's incredible 18 minute 20 second long, anti-Vietnam protest song; read about it here and read the lyrics here, and if you've never heard the song do yourself a favor and go and listen to it. Or ask your folks--I guarantee that they'll know how the chorus goes.)

Well, the comments EXPLODED. Turns out that there is Great Controversy about the Political Compass (who knew?). You can take a look at the comments here if you're curious, including some estorically impenetrable comments by BOP's Stirling Newberry. In the comments, a reader suggested an alternative, open source version called The Political Survey. I tried it out...and I'm still as liberal as the day is long. My left/right score was -8.7630 (-0.5275). No big surprise.

You can try the (Liberal Approved! Scandal Free!) Political Survey at

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

"W is NOT for Women", but I still feel left behind

panties with slogan 'expose bush'While BOP'sMatt Stoller has been exposing Republican strategies for reaching out to women, and exploring why these techniques are effective, the Bush v Choice blog has been discussing whether political fashion, such as sloganeering underpants, galvanizes or offends women.

The Republicans are attempting to gild a turd, and misconstrue the reality of their candidate to fool women into supporting a politician who works blatantly against their expressed interests. But from my perspective, both the Republican and Democrat strategies pander and condescend to women. The difference is, the Republican strategy is professional and effective.

I agree that the underpants can be smart and funny, but look at the subtext of this kind of "outreach":

- it pays to engage women as consumers, not as voters
- you can buy women's votes with shiny trinkets
- you don't need to engage women about issues--or, by extension, deliver on the issues they care about

The issue, yet again, is about framing--framing women's political participation as frivolous, framing women voters as impulse shoppers, framing women's political decision-making as childish. I have to agree with Bella DePaulo that the "lipstick and panty pitch trivializes and caricatures" women.

Granted, it isn't the Kerry campaign that is giving out the underpants, but Axis of Eve et al are part of the Democratic Campaign machine this year, and are perceived as such by the general public, just as MoveOn or the SwiftBoats are.

I don't begrudge anyone a gimicky campaign device--hell, if it picks up even one new voter I'm all for it. My concern is that I don't see a lot of meaningful, substantial outreach to women from the Democrats at the same time. (Is it there? Am I just missing it? I don't pretend to have an omniscient eye.) On the other hand, while Matt's fabulous new haircut may be voting for Bush, do gimicks like this persuade anyone to turn out to vote or to change their vote? If the research on yard signs and bumperstickers extends to political underwear, the answer is...No. Visibility gewgaws are like voter registration: an investment of resources in touchy-feelies to make the base feel good that at the end of the day accomplish nothing: i.e., they do not turn out OUR vote.

One more side note on yard signs, etc.: campaign tchotchkes are supposed to be about visibility. So, many people are going to see these underpants? (Or should I ask?) And what kind of promiscuity message is part of the subtext there? I.e., how do Democrats characterise the visibility of single women's underwear, and what message does that give to the women we want to vote for our candidates?

Let me try to explain this from a different angle. Would there be more of a fuss if outreach to the Business community consisted solely or primarily of giving away sloganed boxers? Or wife-beaters to NASCAR dads? Or collard greens to African Americans? Or any other gimick that went straight to the heart of the most basic stereotypes of gender or socioeconomics or race?

Back to framing. Elizabeth Edwards nailed it when she recently talked to the New York Times about women and voting:

"There are 22 million unmarried women who did not vote last time -- women who would not let someone else order their food in a restaurant or pick out their clothing. So why would they let someone else choose their president?"
(I'm not surprised to hear this from Elizabeth Edwards. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak in person and meeting her in November at a fundraiser hosted by democratic powerhouse Maryanne Hovis. Edwards is truly phenomenal.)

Now here is some framing I can get excited about: benefit selling and empowering women. I hope we can keep the Democrats moving in this direction.

Back to Bush v Choice's original question: does political fashion galvanize or offend women?

I'm afraid the question sets up a false dichotomy. I don't find the underpants offensive (and I applaud the creativity), but I also don't believe they galvanize the "woman vote." In a way, it goes back to what Matt just wrote about staying on message: the underpants are a diversion, at a time when I'd rather see our limited collective Democratic resources funnelled into programs that are more productive and effective and substantial--and on-message.


Speaking of projects of substance...

I received a timely email today (2004.09.10) from the Women's Caucus of the College Democrats of America on their new project, Young Women for Kerry:

We are currently working to create a website that will work as a resource for pro-Kerry young women across the country. We want to educate not only college women, but also working single women across the country. On this website we will be including talking points, information and resources for you to use on your campus and in your neighborhood, as well as a state contact list. While we are putting this together we are looking for help on a couple things:

1. Op-eds. We are looking for op-eds specifically on healthcare, but also for things on the importance of the young women's vote or other issues of your concern. This can be anywhere from a short paragraph to a page, whatever space you feel you need to voice your opinion. We hope to send these out to newspapers and other press resources.

2. Personal Stories. Just in the same way Women for Kerry/Edwards website has personal reasons why women are voting for Kerry/Edwards, we would like to spotlight young women across the country and their reasons for voting for the team. Also writing about things such as why you have decided to volunteer or work for the campaign would be great!

3. State Contact. Who have you contacted in your state that has helped you find volunteer opportunities or is the closest to the young women'ss organizer in your state?

I wish that DCA/DNC had started the ball rolling on this project earlier, but I'm glad to see it happen.

To get involved and support Young Women for Kerry, contact Emily Amick, Women's Caucus Chair, at [womenscaucus (at)].

If the Jackboot Fits

Jackboot size chartFrom NewsMax report, via Polis:
"Gen. Tommy Franks says that if the United States is hit with a weapon of mass destruction that inflicts large casualties, the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government."

If you are curious about the plausibility of this scenario...

Sinclair Lewis wrote an amazingly prescient novel in 1935, It Can't Happen Here, outlining the rise of a fascist military dictatorship in America. The book is out of print and hard to find but you can read the ebook here. I highly recommend it.

Thom Hartmann looks at Lewis's novel, Vice President Henry Wallace's 1944 concerns about how fascism could indeed arise in America, and the neo-feudal/fascistic patterns in the Bush Administration.

Paul Krugman narrowly avoids the 4-letter N-word and alludes to Lewis's novel to explain the fascist dynamics behind GOP astroturf campaigns.

Maureen Dowd draws more parallels between Lewis's prognostications and the Bush Administration, in her essay Can it Happen Here?

Martin Dyckman looks at American history and answers, It has happened here.

All of these articles are excellent, and I encourage you to read them in full.

The common themes are:
  • We have witnessed fascism in living memory, perhaps most notably in Germany and Italy. (That is not to say these two countries were "more" fascist," but rather they are examples that resonate emotionally with an American audience.)

    Thom Dyckman gives the following examples from American history:
    John Adams, an original American patriot, signed the Alien and Sedition Acts that put people in prison for what they said or wrote.

    Abraham Lincoln, one of our three greatest presidents, suspended the writ of habeas corpus.

    Woodrow Wilson, a scholar by profession, jailed and deported people for opposing a war that, nearly a century later, still raises the question of what American interests compelled our participation.

    Franklin D. Roosevelt put 110,000 men, women and children in concentration camps because of their race.

    In December 2000, the Florida House of Representatives, in broad daylight, voted 79 to 41 to steal the 2000 presidential election by formally appointing the Republican slate of electors regardless of what a recount might show.
  • From these experiences and the study of history, we can recognize certain patterns of fascism:
1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism.

5. Rampant sexism (including homophobia and anti reproductive freedom)

6. A controlled mass media

7. Obsession with national security.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.

9. Power of corporations protected.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts

12. Obsession with crime and punishment.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.

14. Fraudulent elections.
  • The actions of the Bush administration increasingly correspond to these patterns.
  • Dyckman and Lewis both point out that danger is consistently the "pretext for suspending democracy and decency."

Back to General Tommy Franks.

In the discussion of Barry Rihtholz's article Post 9/11's Hobson's Choice, BOP reader selise pointed out that the Bush administration has been highly secretive about their agenda, and the public doesn't know what their policies are.

My reply is that the Bush Administration's actions speak much louder than their words (or their stage-managed photo ops): events show us that the Bush administration is working very hard, very competently, and increasingly overtly to effect the kind of neo-feudal fascism that Thom Hartmann describes. (If anyone can offer a better explanation for the goals of the neo-con agenda, please share.)

This suggests that Frank's assertion that the US Constitution will not survive another terror attack is true...because his colleagues intend to make it true. Danger as pretext for seizing power.

I do not write this to be alarmist, and I hope to god I'm wrong. In the meantime, let us proceed on two assumptions:

  1. This is, indeed, the most important election of our lifetimes--lest it be the last for America.
  2. The NeoCons intend to hang on to power at any cost. (They have repeatedly demonstrated that they'd rather cheat to win today and take the slap tomorrow than risk fighting on a level playing field.)
What, then, can regular citizens do?
  • Plan ahead, and front-load election work as much as possible, in case of a "surprise" turn of events.
  • Vote by absentee ballot.
  • Volunteer to preserve and protect the vote
  • Recruit people you know to help, especially lawyers, law students, and Spanish-speakers
  • Book November 2 off work today.
  • Plan ahead to mobilize on November 3 for recounts in battleground states.
  • Fight hard for reform, starting with election reform, at every level of government.
Historically, Facist regimes have not survived. This tells us that by looking to history, we can also learn how other countries have resisted and overthrown previous authoritarian dictatorships.

Let's hope we can learn from history.

Crossposted to BOP.


Thanks to readers D MASON and thoughtcriminal for recommending The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012, Charles J. Dunlap, Jr.'s 1992 essay on developments in the armed forces that could contribute to a military coup.

More further reading suggested by BOP readers:

America's Mortal Danger
Germany in the 1930's and America Today from The Leiter Report; interesting discussion in the ensuing comments as well
Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An exegesis, by David Neiwert/Orcinus.

The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood, on the rise of theocracy.
We, by Yevgeni Zamyatin

Monday, September 13, 2004

Sharpen your AIM ;)

I just stumbled across a youth outreach project that I'm really excited about: The Pledge 04

The pledge itself:
I'm Young.
I Vote.
I'm NOT Voting Bush.
The mandate:
The 18-24 youth demographic in polls is consistently beating Bush, but this demographic is also the least likely to vote. We are trying to get as many people as possible to Pledge to NOT VOTE BUSH and then we will work towards making sure these people GET OUT AND VOTE!
The way it works:
1. Go to the Pledge04 site and sign the pledge.

2. Get your friends to take the pledge.

3. Pledge04 will remind you about deadlines for voter registration, absentee ballots, and when and where to vote. In other words, they'll help Get Out Our Vote.
It's a good project that looks well-designed and executed, but I am most excited about is their blitzkreig approach to promotions. They offer:
A selection of Linked Graphics for your website

AIM Buddy Icon

They're working on E-cards.

They also have Downloadable Flyers and suggestions on adding the pledge to your Email Signature and how to host a pledge party.
I think the AIM Icon is especially brilliant. I would love to see the same promotional features available from the Virginia Young Democrats (Dominic? Peter?) or the Democratic Party of Virginia (Laura?). I was happy to discover that that icons (AIM and MSM), web banners, and logos, as well as desktops, are all available from the Kerry campaign website.

You'll note I've added the logos to C101--go on and add them to your personal pages, too; AND, update your messenger icon (this is really just an extension of what Teresa wrote on the C101 list earlier); AND, sign up and get your friends who are 18-24 to take the pledge.

And then brag to me about it so I know how hard you've been working. :)