a word from bill bradley

No time to blog lately. Super swamped with other stuff. Sorry…. I did, however, want to pass along a link to this op-ed by former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley though. It struck me as right on the money. A lot of it is stuff we’ve discussed here before, but he’s done a really good job, I think, of tying it all together. Here’s a clip:

Before deciding what Democrats should do now, it’s important to see what Republicans have done right over many years. When the Goldwater Republicans lost in 1964, they didn’t try to become Democrats. They tried to figure out how to make their own ideas more appealing to the voters. As part of this effort, they turned to Lewis Powell, then a corporate lawyer and soon to become a member of the United States Supreme Court. In 1971 he wrote a landmark memo for the United States Chamber of Commerce in which he advocated a sweeping, coordinated and long-term effort to spread conservative ideas on college campuses, in academic journals and in the news media.

To further the party’s ideological and political goals, Republicans in the 1970’s and 1980’s built a comprehensive structure based on Powell’s blueprint. Visualize that structure as a pyramid.

You’ve probably heard some of this before, but let me run through it again. Big individual donors and large foundations – the Scaife family and Olin foundations, for instance – form the base of the pyramid. They finance conservative research centers like the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, entities that make up the second level of the pyramid.

The ideas these organizations develop are then pushed up to the third level of the pyramid – the political level. There, strategists like Karl Rove or Ralph Reed or Ken Mehlman take these new ideas and, through polling, focus groups and careful attention to Democratic attacks, convert them into language that will appeal to the broadest electorate. That language is sometimes in the form of an assault on Democrats and at other times in the form of advocacy for a new policy position. The development process can take years. And then there’s the fourth level of the pyramid: the partisan news media. Conservative commentators and networks spread these finely honed ideas.

At the very top of the pyramid you’ll find the president. Because the pyramid is stable, all you have to do is put a different top on it and it works fine….

Democrats who run for president have to build their own pyramids all by themselves. There is no coherent, larger structure that they can rely on. Unlike Republicans, they don’t simply have to assemble a campaign apparatus – they have to formulate ideas and a vision, too. Many Democratic fundraisers join a campaign only after assessing how well it has done in assembling its pyramid of political, media and idea people.

There is no clearly identifiable funding base for Democratic policy organizations, and in the frantic campaign rush there is no time for patient, long-term development of new ideas or of new ways to sell old ideas. Campaigns don’t start thinking about a Democratic brand until halfway through the election year, by which time winning the daily news cycle takes precedence over building a consistent message. The closest that Democrats get to a brand is a catchy slogan.

Democrats choose this approach, I believe, because we are still hypnotized by Jack Kennedy, and the promise of a charismatic leader who can change America by the strength and style of his personality. The trouble is that every four years the party splits and rallies around several different individuals at once. Opponents in the primaries then exaggerate their differences and leave the public confused about what Democrats believe.

In such a system tactics trump strategy. Candidates don’t risk talking about big ideas because the ideas have never been sufficiently tested. Instead they usually wind up arguing about minor issues and express few deep convictions. In the worst case, they embrace “Republican lite” platforms – never realizing that in doing so they’re allowing the Republicans to define the terms of the debate.

A party based on charisma has no long-term impact. Think of our last charismatic leader, Bill Clinton. He was president for eight years. He was the first Democrat to be re-elected since Franklin Roosevelt. He was smart, skilled and possessed great energy. But what happened? At the end of his tenure in the most powerful office in the world, there were fewer Democratic governors, fewer Democratic senators, members of Congress and state legislators and a national party that was deep in debt. The president did well. The party did not. Charisma didn’t translate into structure….

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

and she’s great for fundraising!

I blogged so much last night, I was going to take today off, but then I happened across this article in the New York Times and felt compelled to fire up the laptop. Here’s a clip:

The parents of Terri Schiavo have authorized a conservative direct-mailing firm to sell a list of their financial supporters, making it likely that thousands of strangers moved by her plight will receive a steady stream of solicitations from anti-abortion and conservative groups.

“These compassionate pro-lifers donated toward Bob Schindler’s legal battle to keep Terri’s estranged husband from removing the feeding tube from Terri,” says a description of the list on the Web site of the firm, Response Unlimited, which is asking $150 a month for 6,000 names and $500 a month for 4,000 e-mail addresses of people who responded last month to an e-mail plea from Ms. Schiavo’s father. “These individuals are passionate about the way they value human life, adamantly oppose euthanasia and are pro-life in every sense of the word!”

Privacy experts said the sale of the list was legal and even predictable, if ghoulish.

So, am I the only one out there thinking, “What can I sell these people?”

I wonder if the family would sell me the rights so that I could make a Terri Schiavo action figure. If I act fast, I bet I could get them into Wal-Mart by Christmas.

Posted in Marketing | 5 Comments

melvin is tanked

A few days ago, in a conversation with Brett about the impending destruction of Detroit’s Belle Isle Aquarium, the oldest continually operating aquarium in the United States, I mentioned that there was a fish there that reminded me of my late grandfather. Well, much to my surprise, Brett tracked down of photo the exact fish that I’d been thinking of… Hopefully they’ll find a good home for him if/when the consistently shortsighted city of Detroit pulls the plug… Detroit politicians, for those of you who don’t live in the shadow of Motor City’s carcass, have a knack for sniffing out the things that make this city special, and then destroying them.

Here, on a happier note, is my grandfather.

…If anyone can tell me what’s going to happen to this particular fish, should the tanks be smashed on schedule, I’d appreciate it. I really do have a soft spot for the guy.

Posted in Mark's Life | 4 Comments

the ypsi sentinel

I went out and had beers with the Managing Director of Maproom systems the other night and was I pleased to find that he’d brought along an agenda for our meeting. (note to self: I need more friends that bring agendas to bars.) I don’t believe we got past the first item, but that wasn’t because we were either too lazy or too drunk, or because a mouse ran over my foot midway through my second pint. (Yes, it was like the Tap Room of the olden days again.) It was because we became so engrossed in the first item — how to set up and run a local citizen-journalism project here in Ypsi along the lines of what I alluded to a few days ago.

Fortunately, this fellow got home and posted about our meeting on his own site, so now there is at least some record of what was discussed pre and post-rodent. As you will see, he even went so far as to suggest a name and mascot for this new enterprise of ours, something stolen from of Ypsilanti’s secret history.

Check it out. Isn’t the spitting cat great?

If you think that you might want to be involved in some capacity, leave a note and I’ll add you to the citizen reporter email list that I’m starting.

Posted in The Spitting Cat | 8 Comments

o.g. – the origional guckert

It took her a while to chime in, but sexologist Susie Bright, a woman who knows a thing or two about the business of prostitution, is finally offering her thoughts on our friend, the male hustler/White House insider Jeff Gannon. Here are a few clips:

Well, this is certainly the case with high class sexual services… and that is why anyone who’s ever done sex work understands that Jeff is not some wacky fluke… that the only way his access happened was because Gannon was dialed in, connected via his cock, to all the right people. The reason he got his little laminated press card was because someone was plying his favors….

When Guckert was young, he undoubtedly had hair. His handsome face was once darling and cute. Most men don’t get into this business as older gents– it’s something you get into when you’re young. It would be a waste to advertise your youth as a Daddy fantasy, when you can make more money being adorable. Becoming a TopMan is what you evolve to when you age gracefully in this business; you become exclusively dominant. After all, there is no demand for submissive middle-aged men.

When you’re a young pro, you do your turn at submission. You are worshiped and condescended to as pretty boy. You make a lot of money acting like you’re a frat kid or a GI, with a “girlfriend” somewhere, who’s “going to school” and partying “for kicks.”

Bulldog, if he is anything like other gay hookers, has been at this for years, and has grown into his present persona. He moved up into a position a younger man wouldn’t have, where he learned a lot of dirt about people because he was fucking them and getting high with them. He advertised that he likes “to party,” which in sex ad jargon means that he was up for doing speed/ecstasy/cocaine. He would do a little bump with you, or more. This infers he got to know his client’s drug preferences as well as their erotic ones…

I am convinced Bulldog got into the press corps because someone was deeply in love with him, i.e, with the fantasy he provides. Others in the game saw what he could be used for. Jeff’s client wanted more of Jeff, he wanted preferential status, he wanted promises. Gannon, like any pro with a big fish on the line, was growing weary of diamonds and furs.

A mature hooker wants something that will lead to independence; like property, inheritance rights, or a new career. The ultimate way to win your hooker’s favors is by offering something that gives them the same kind of independence that you, the civilian, possess.

Pretty convincing expert testimony, don’t you think?

And, while we’re back on the Gannon/Guckert subject, there’s a great piece of investigative team-journalism shaping up at the Daily Kos site, where volunteers have pitched in to track Gunckert back to where he came from, from his days as a frat boy and landscaper, through his career as a male prostitute, and right up to that fateful day when he was discovered, pitching softballs to our president. It’s interesting stuff… especially the interviews with former coworkers, and frat brothers.

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment


Sidetrack ad Aubree’s ad BUY LOCAL... or shop at Amazon through this link Banner Initiative Why am I here