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February 21, 2005

Comments

I'm appalled. Is USA Next an important group? I've never heard of them.

Ask, and you shall receive!

But that was a little quick. Dems need quick response like this.

I'm impressed. Kidding, too!

"..they are playing on hatred and bigotry for political gain".

This is the how they work.

Fight back in kind. When did reason ever work on the second-grade playground? You gotta stoop to win.

It's not just that this is bigoted, or even stupid. It's surreal -- negative campaigning by the Knights Who Say Ni.

It's not just that this is bigoted, or even stupid. It's surreal -- negative campaigning by the Knights Who Say Ni.

John: it was so quick that I posted this a full minute before you posted your request. (The deterministic universe prediction machine screwed up again...)

Sebastian: I don't know. From the NYT piece:

"Though it is not clear how much money USA Next has in hand for the campaign - Mr. Jarvis will not say, and the group, which claims 1.5 million members, does not have to disclose its donors - officials say that the group's annual budget was more than $28 million last year. The group, a membership organization with no age requirements for joining, has also spent millions in recent years vigorously supporting Bush proposals on tax cuts, energy and the Medicare prescription drug plan. (...)

Formerly known as the United Seniors Association, USA Next was founded in 1991 by Richard Viguerie, a Republican pioneer and mastermind of direct mailings, who raised millions of dollars from older Americans using solicitations that sent alarming messages about Social Security. In 1992, there were allegations that the group was used as a device to enrich other companies owned by Mr. Viguerie, drawing criticism from watchdog groups and Democratic lawmakers.

Mr. Jarvis, who joined the group in 2001, said he knew little about the allegations, and Mr. Viguerie could not be reached for comment. The group persevered and has grown in the years since then. The group spent years primarily working with direct mail before changing to a model that emphasized the use of heavy television and radio advertising to get its message across, fueled by millions of dollars from wealthy donors, trade associations and companies that share its views.

Mr. Jarvis said donors have included food, nutrition, energy and pharmaceutical companies, which have given money to support various advertising campaigns.

In previous years, and often during elections, the money was used to saturate the airwaves with advertisements. In 2002, for example, the group relied partly on money from the pharmaceutical industry to spend roughly $9 million on television commercials and mailings supporting Republican prescription drug legislation and the lawmakers who backed it.

The group spent more money than any other interest group on House races that year, according to a study by the Wisconsin Advertising Project, and drew charges from Democrats that it was a stealth campaign by the pharmaceutical industry to support House Republicans. The group denied the allegations. Critics contended that the group was a front for corporate special interests. In a 2002 report, Public Citizen's Congress Watch denounced it, calling its leadership "hired guns."

In 2003 and 2004, USA Next was again heavily represented, spending roughly $20 million, according to the group's own numbers. It sponsored more than 19,800 television and radio advertisements last year alone."

This campaign will be aimed at 10-15 yr olds. The Republicans will lose this time, and the next, and the next. And then that 10 yr old will be a thirty-yr old voter, who will note that he did not get the tax cuts that were paid for with FICA increases in the 80's, and why should he suffer for the baby-boomers? There is no trust fund, and he made no promises. And AARP is a lefty partisan interest group.

And Greenspan will giggle in hell.

Sebastian: I take the point of the excerpt above to be: they claim 1.5 million members, but their real importance seems to be as a funnel for corporate donors interested in funding ads for Republican policy initiatives and the politicians who support them. And if they spent more money than any other interest group in 2002 (i.e., more money than the NRA, the AARP itself, etc.), then I think they are quite important as ad funders.

I'm just waiting for people to start defending this stuff. It'll be a hoot.

This is the Rovian Republican party. These are the tactics of the culture war -- you can only fight back by calling them scum -- often.

How different is this from the bile that pours out of Limbaugh or other conservative Republican noise-machines?

The one guy looks lke Gunkert with hair.

Here's the CMD link for USENext. I have to disagree with Bob, I don't think this is targeted at 10-15 year olds (that slice of the Spectator demographic is pretty small, methinks) This is aimed at elderly who are not comfortable with homosexuality with the goal of peeling off support from AARP. Hence the Linkletter endorsement. I also think there is a linkage with the Bennett revivification, in that Las Vegas is prime senior territory. Also, check out this pdf, which lists Keith Appell as one of the contacts. Appell's PR firm is linked to the world of RW talk radio, so one can be sure that these points are going to be disseminated via that route.

I think the story is that the AARP was against the Ohio ballot initiative.

In any case, it's cartoonishly dumb.

Well, my first reaction (after picking my jaw up off the desk) was WTF!!! An x-ed out soldier, and a "gay marriage", being used for a smear-ad campaign against the AARP? What's next? Pictures of beaten puppies? Where do they get this junk? Out of the Right-Wing-Clip Art-File?
If the issue were not so important, and the stakes not so high, it would be ludicrous and laughable: but as "cartoonishly dumb" as it may be, it is sadly par-for-the-course for today's Republican shill-machine.
Even sadder will be the teaction it gets, if any.

Sorry: last line should read "traction".

liberal japonicus nailed it.

This particular ad is aimed at readers of American Spectator, and I doubt there are many 10-15 year-old kids among that group. AARP counts approx 35 million members, and about 40% identify as Republican, 44% as Democrat, and the rest as Other. With this particular ad, I think USANext is weighing how to turn enough of those members (the Republican members first) to blunt AARP's influence.

But I gotta tell ya that as an AARP member myself, this ad doesn't exactly "warm" me to their position. Not by a long shot!

"I also think there is linkage with the Bennett revivication, in that Las vegas is prime senior territory."

If true, liberal japonicus should be the military's expert on enemy flanking strategies. Also, if true, the diabolical subtlty of the right-wing machine requires nuking. Because the loss of troops fighting this thing may not be acceptable.

What's next? Vegas hookers for Medicare reform?

If you go to the USA Next link, there's a place for comments. That ad has quite a few supporters, and their comments are illuminating. AARP is "left wing socialism," AARP is "against the 2nd Amendment," AARP is "un-American." They're all so very, very glad USA Next is around, so they can quit AARP and join it instead. They're also eager, needless to say, to support Bush's Social Security phase-out.

These are the people who swallow everything Bush & Co. tell them. Profoundly ignorant, profoundly hateful, and profoundly unreachable.

This is the new majority, folks. Like I said earlier, how do you fight that?

Fight back in kind. When did reason ever work on the second-grade playground? You gotta stoop to win.

Billmon agrees with you. Not enough other people do.

As long as smear campaigns work and one side is afraid to respond in kind, smear campaigns will be common. And cartoonishly dumb or not, it will work. One man's pandering is another man's populism. It's the same with people like Ann Coulter - it's hard to find anyone to defend her statements, but she sells millions of books. You'll see people try to imply that this ad was put out by some marginal group - "never heard of them!" - but marginal groups don't regularly spend 8 digit sums on smear campaigns.

You've got an administration that apparently prefers to field press conference questions from a gay prostitute rather than a journalist, and at the same time, is able to benefit from anti-gay bigotry. At some point, it is time to take off the white gloves.

If true, liberal japonicus should be the military's expert on enemy flanking strategies.

Thanks John...I think. But I do like the ring of "we had to destroy the Republican party to save it".

I confess to being hypnotized by the saga of Bill Bennett, who taught at my undergrad university (long before I was there, mind you) And the Las Vegas thing, well, my folks, who are pretty much classic liberals (though it's hard to tell if that is by choice or the result of living in a red red red state and not having access to lattes and stuff) went the Las Vegas and, to my horror, _loved_ it. When I told them that I wanted to meet my future wife, they said that they would love to, but could we meet them in Las Vegas. Ever the dutiful son, I said of course. But when I got there, I was really surprised at how the whole place is pitched at seniors. All of the all you can eat buffets are decorated with 30's and 40's objets and the underlying message is look how far you are away from the times when you really had to scrimp and save. As such, Bennett, whose sin is probably imagined as a fat lumpy guy playing the quarter slots, is a perfect candidate for dusting off.

I think I'm going to not believe the WH (or any non-1%-fringe Republican) condones this too-wacky-to-believe campaign until someone asks Bush about it. If nothing else it's too, well, wacky.

It's apparently already been removed from the American Spectator site. I'm not sure why, whether it was a trial balloon that's now been rethought or they just don't want it spread around more than it has been - which is dumb, because it can be copied from blog to blog.

I hope the response was bad enough to spook them. I also hope it's too damn late to stuff that genie back in its bottle.

I'd be interested in knowing if the posters who thought the original SBV campaign was "An Important Truth the Nation Needed to Hear" feel the same way about "SBV II: Troop-Hating, Homo-Loving Old People are a Threat to America."

I don't think it's been removed; at any rate, I just clicked through and there it was.

Ah? I clicked on there a little while back and didn't see it. Maybe it takes a while to load - I didn't want to stick around that site very long.

I think I'm going to not believe the WH (or any non-1%-fringe Republican) condones this too-wacky-to-believe campaign

That 1%-fringe consists of how many hundreds of thousands if not millions of people?

The best comment I've seen so far, from publius of Legal Fiction:

"the picture captures the 2004 election in a single image. if there are any historians from the future mining the old blogosphere for primary sources, that picture perfectly captures the election."

"I think I'm going to not believe the WH (or any non-1%-fringe Republican) condones this too-wacky-to-believe campaign"

The White House that sent Rush Limbaugh as a cultural ambassador to Afghanistan with the USAID director? The RNC that sent out direct mail about how the Democrats want to ban the bible and require gay marriage, then refused to retract or apologize for it? To say nothing of the Swift Boat ads? You're right. It's unpossible, to quote Ralph Wiggum.

I could see arguing that it's too politically stupid. I mean, the AARP just is not convincing as a bunch of troop-hating gay-marriage-lovers. And sending the AARP this Valentine not long after they helped pass the godawful Medicare bill is a nice reminder to moderates in Congress that compromising with these guys provides no security. But who knows. These tactics have never really hurt them before, so why would they start hurting them now?

This USANext piece is almost identical to the mailer sent this past fall to West Virginia (and at least one other rural state) by the RNC, with the difference that in that case the X was on the bible. There was also explicit language about Democrats "banning bibles". I suppose the subtext in the new piece is that the treasonous, stab-in-the-back AARP is weakening our national resolve, undermining our brave soldiers....

Just as here, there was never any effort to back up the slimy attack in those mailers. And I regret to say that they were effective.

These messages aren't effective in urban or even most suburban areas. But in rural precincts, they are powerful, to an extent that makes me fearful and somewhat despairing if I let it.

Pentecostal and some Baptist churches that put out the same message as these wretched ads, from the pulpit and in the prayer meetings, brought out voters who had not voted for twenty-five years in my county, which is near and not dissimilar to West Virginia.

Sebastian: Is USA Next an important group? I've never heard of them.

All Republicans, but especially gay Republicans, could benefit from looking at little more closely at how that party organizes and campaigns. I'm not interested in doing a lot of your work for you, but if you're really so naive about the networks that mobilize bigotry for the party, and you're interested, I'd be willing to supply some links.

A web-savvy reader at TPM notes that the American Spectator has two ads prepared conflating AARP with Jesse Jackson etc and NARAL etc. These seem relatively sane, if also probably counterproductive.

OT:
For stocking up on your ideological ammo and tit-for-tat non-responses I give you videos.google.com. A disturbingly great tool to access the information held in the broadcast media. I wish I'd thought of it!

They store the closed caption stream from a broadcast, index it, and save some pictures every few minutes to go along w/ it.

Wanna see what the hubbub was about the new gay marriage simpsons episode?

Wanna see how many times Jeff Gannon was mentioned on tv?

Have fun!

On a similar note, want to see when a broadcast appears that has "american spectator" + "aarp" in its CC? None yet, but maybe in a few days this might have some links in it.

Josh Marshall has a rundown on the group.

hilzoy, great minds...

heet, that is slick! Interestingly, I couldn't get the page to come up when I went to http://video.google.com/, but when I added
http://video.google.com/videosearch it came up. Also, it is for the local videos for a specific zip code (go to preferences to set your zip code if you live in the US)

Amazingly AARP gets 135 hits. This one features Charles Jarvis. The most aggravating thing is that you can't find any context. I mean, here's what Jarvis says

Aarp basically, Bill, is the world's largest left, Liberal lobbying organization in the world. They are huge. They are masquerading, basically, as a benefits association. Essentially over the last 15 years they brought in $8.1 Billion and $1.1 Billion of that came directly out of the pocketbooks of taxpayers.

and then

Why take three workers, you and me and one of my tenage exons and say you thre Wil pay for the retirees of the future. When they get to be 40, it Wil be two of my sons -- Bill: I understand the social security. But what about prescription drugs? Lots of seniors need them, don't have a lot of money. Where do you come down on that? >> The interesting thing about prescription drugs is aarp has actually gotten us into the situation we are in.

I'm wondering 'how is it AARP's fault?'

Will we be able to use the Google video powers for good or will they be used for evil?

Felixrayman: As long as smear campaigns work and one side is afraid to respond in kind, smear campaigns will be common.

That's the irony: considering Bush's back history (AWOL from TANG, drunk/drug user for years, narrowly avoided getting prosecuted for illegal trading for no discernable reason except that his father was President at the time, etc) and his track record as President (and we haven't even moved on to Dick Cheney's back history), there's no need to run a smear campaign: the plain truth does fine.

Except, of course, that the MSM, which is largely owned by Bush supporters, won't play. Nasty truths about Bush get ignored: nasty untruths about Clinton or Kerry got spread wide.

CaseyL, are you so sure the ad has a lot of supporters? Yes, there are a lot of comments, but it would hardly be a stretch to imagine that they were posted by a single USA Next staffer. Astroturf is these guys' stock in trade.

Thanks John...I think. But I do like the ring of "we had to destroy the Republican party to save it".

You can destroy the damn thing, but why save it? it'll do nothing but bring more misery to countless poor & defenseless people.


As far as this ad goes, why is anyone shocked? This is the political party that has a bunch of chickenhawks and a deserter at the top of the ticket and still managed to make people believe that a war hero with a chest full of medals is not sufficiently patriotic and not trustworthy enough to be President.
They also managed to convince the voters of Georgia that quadraplegic vietnam vet was not as patriotic as their chickenhawk candidate, and convinced the fine people of California that a holliwood action hero was thougher than a decorated Vietnam Vet.

I think Jarvis (and USANext) has demonstrated that they're ready to smear to win, but still. Are we *sure* this ad wasn't planted? I mean, it's so off-the-wall bizarre, considering the AARP audience, and it doesn't link to the specific Social Security campaign, but just to the "generic" USANext site...

Of course, if it had been planted, USANext would have said something by now, so I guess it's for real. It's appalling. I have a hard time believing it's going to convert people. I think it's more likely to make AARP folks who delayed sending in renewals after the Medicare scam re-up immediately, in solidarity.

not that i really needed yet another reason to never vote Republican, but thanks USA Next, for possibly helping convince someone else that Republicanism is the ideology of small-minded bigots and liars. please, make more ads like this !

and Bush supporters, i hope you're comfortable with this - it's what you voted for, after all.

Here's what's really behind this IMO:

Formerly known as the United Seniors Association, USA Next was founded in 1991 by Richard Viguerie, a Republican pioneer and mastermind of direct mailings, who raised millions of dollars from older Americans using solicitations that sent alarming messages about Social Security.

USA Next is gunning for AARP dollars. Happy to be a tool of the pro-privatization crowd and hoping to come out on top in the scramble for retirees disposable income.

Five years ago I would have laughed at such a transparent and ludicrous effort. Sadly, I no longer have that much faith in my fellow citizens and think USA Next must be squashed like the repellent slug of an organization it is.

liberal japonicus: "Thanks, John .......etc."

Really, your take on Bennett and the strategy is very good ... watching all this stuff is a little like watching the ending of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers".

Don't go to sleep.

And, by the way, I find Las Vegas utterly captivating in a horrifying sort of way, like rioting in Mecca. But fun, nonetheless.

Your image of Bennett the pasty, fat guy doing the nickel slots as the poster boy for vivisecting Social Security is, well ...

....no wonder Hunter Thompson shot himself in the mouth last weekend. He saw this coming, too, like some loathsome neon beast rising from the desert heart of Richard Nixon.

Besides...that's a cute couple. Who wouldn't want to see them married happily ever after?

Free speech for all, except when it offends me.

I think that's what everybody is saying here.

What kind of Open Society is Obwi?

Look, the X against the war and /(how do I show a check mark?) for gay marriage would accurately describe the opinions of most of Obwi's readers. Now I don't know about AARP leadership, but should we look into that further before we say its a smear? Maybe it's an accurate representaion of AARP leaderships views.

Maybe I would give checkmarks to both, I dont know. But what I do know, hilzoy, is that this post is a worse piece of hackery than the one that Bird Dog got so much grief for. (You inserted a picture for shock value for instance).

Now let's focus our attention on firing Larry Summers and denying Peter Robinson and Todd Zywiki seats on the Dartmouth Board of Trustees, ok?

So much for open minds and freedom of speech.

I think the right response to this group is to laugh. Mock. Macht Spass. Jibe. Ridicule. Do anything but pretend that they are serious people -- because they aren't.

Whatever my agreements with the group's larger goal -- and I do want personal accounts, although I'm beginning to wonder about my bedfellows -- it doesn't deserve a seat at the table.

Nice try DaveC, but the ad's not even reomotely balanced enough to support your conclusion. Read the text "The REAL AARP Agenda."

That in no way connotes a casual support of gay marriage or ambivalence about the war. It suggests very clearly that these are major focuses of the AARP and that if someone was unaware of that it's most likely because their REAL agenda is a hidden one.

To come out and defend this, even on the grounds of free speech, you should really try a bit harder.

Maybe it's an accurate representaion of AARP leaderships views.

And, if so, what does it have to do with the Social Security debate? This is an ad hominem, Dave C -- an attempt to distract people from the argument, not to make an argument.

I favor personal accounts, and I think I can win with an apples-to-apples comparison. Why don't these folks?

(I'm out for the next few days; business calls.)

DaveC: "Free speech for all, except when it offends me.

I think that's what everybody is saying here.

What kind of Open Society is Obwi?"

And where, exactly, did I say that this ad should be illegal? I find its content repellent. I said so. That is: I expressed my opinion. I never denied USANext's right to express theirs.

Freedom of speech does not mean the freedom to speak without anyone criticizing you. It just means the freedom to speak without being arrested, or given the choice between silence, exile, and death.

yes, Von and Edward_, it is an probably an ad hominem, but what I am saying is that people have the right to make stupid ads. Look, the commenters here have brought up the chickenhawk, deserter accusations already.

And also I was pointing out that given the gift of a strawman, even the smartest folks can fall into the trap of saying:"See they say they are lebertariarian, but this is hate speech and it must be suppressed!"

Vote for the lebertariarian party!

But what I do know, hilzoy, is that this post is a worse piece of hackery than the one that Bird Dog got so much grief for. (You inserted a picture for shock value for instance).

Yeah, amazing that. Imagine putting the very same pic up _as it appears on the website_. At least BD photoshopped his photo of Howard Dean back in the day if I remember correctly. And hilzoy didn't even put up the other graphics located here and here that are ready to be rolled out.

Since we have such closed minds, maybe you could open them by explaining what the redeeming features of this campaign are and why we should treat this as a reasoned contribution to the debate on Social Security. If you could provide some cites that show precisely what the views of the leadership of AARP, I'm sure it would explain how they are pushing gay marriage, something which I have never associated with AARP. And I hope that you could explain precisely what corrections you feel Hilzoy should make in an update, similar to the points that I and others requested BD add to his post. Perhaps you feel that Hilzoy violated the Spectator's privacy by posting an ad that appears on their web site. Or perhaps, hilzoy violated intellectual property rights by putting the picture up. I'm only hoping we will get to look at the USANext founders tax forms the way Byron York got to look at the ones of Soros.

I can't speak for Hilzoy, but I am the last person who would want this suppressed. I'd really like to know what the general population's reaction to this is.

And also, I'm all for changing federal laws to reduce or eliminate marriage from special consideration, although I'm all for tax breaks for people with dependent children.

That in no way is against the Defense of Marriage Act. Let's let each state decide, and let no state coerce the rest of the country about the gay marriage issue, and for that matter abortion laws. There are certain issues on which we can't reach a consensus, so let's just kick it back to the states.

Whoops, correction. BD photoshopped the picture of Gore , not Dean.

Dave,

Do you have a comment about the content of the ad, or are you just wanting to use this as a springboard to announce you're perhaps right of center?

DaveC, you're attacking the strawiest of men. Hilzoy never argued that an open society should never allow the criticism of ideas one disagrees with; in fact she very explictly said the opposite re: the Nazi issue. Her argument was that they should not be offered the choice of "silence, exile, or death." I really am not sure what you're trying to do here.

Hi liberal japonicus,

Glad you liked Milt!

I was just saying that hilzoy did a cut and paste picture, big cut and paste from NYT, and some short commentary, and pitch to like-minded readers, which is what Bird Dog did, and what people criticize Gleen Reynolds for. (Thank goodness his wife is okay.)

And I'm not necessarily agreeing with the ad. I think hilzoy is whacking the heck out of the strawman. After all, it's in the American Spectator, not the National Review, you know, (I should have left out the "the", you know like "Ukraine") although I think this appeared on my mimeographed copy of the latest VRWC newsletter! (what's the smiley thing for just kidding?)

And you know Edawrd_, I do love you for keeping ObWi and open forum for both right and left, and have consistently pointed this out.

OMG !! I think I gave a out gay man a kissy thing (or the equivalent thereof)

If you go to the AARP Community Message Board and scroll down to message #2769.2 from Benedictine 2, you'll find links tracing Bennett and Scaife to USANext's alleged business relationships with something called LNH Corp -- otherwise known as Triad Election Systems -- supplier of voting machines to, oh, Ohio and other places.

This via a commenter over at Kevin Drum's place. Someday, I'll learn to link properly.

I love it when life becomes a Thomas Pynchon novel.

As to DaveC's free speech issue, I would read AARP's magazine more thoroughly if they did come out in favor of gay marriage and take on the the issue of Iraq. Those subjects would be more interesting than articles counseling me to get more fiber in my diet for colon health. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

But the USANext ad is designed to push all of the usual liberals-are-traitors and here-come-the-fags and Social Security-is-fluoride-in-the-water buttons.

Far be it from me to shut them up. But then I think civility is just some bunting brought out for surrender ceremonies to make the prior incivility acceptable.

DaveC
As someone who had harsh words for BD about the Soros-Stewart post, I am really having a hard time seeing any parallel between this case and that.

The problem with BD's post was not that he lifted it from another source, it is that he failed to correct any of the points that were made the comments and actively ignored them in his updates. Please tell me where any of the points that have been made by Hilzoy have been refuted. You suggested that Hilzoy advocated the suppression of the ad. I cannot find that anywhere in what she has said. It is your responsibility, having accused her of saying that, to show that she did.

OMG !! I think I gave a out gay man a kissy thing (or the equivalent thereof)

There's no turning back now...next thing you know you'll be asking your wife or girlfriend if those khaki's make you look fat. ;-)

Sorry Edawrd_ and Gleen, I'm not a good typist and I know that I swore I'd go back to lurking only, which proves that

A) I'm basically weak or dishonest because I am writing stupid comments again

B) I must be crazy because I am writing stuff to imaginary friends

C) Looking at the internet makes you late for work, because you are too weak to turn off the computer. Reality = real live boss yelling at you.

Free speech for all, except when it offends me.
I think that's what everybody is saying here.

I don't see anybody saying that. I see lots of people saying they find this ad repugnant, and commenting on what it says about those who prepared it.

Perhaps I missed something. Can you find a quote here along the lines of, "This should be illegal?"

DaveC: Points A, B, and C: me too! :)

New Program: Grey eye for the queer guy

4 elderly AARP members give their opinions about one gay guy. It is never clear if they realize that the guy is gay but the Liberace references alone are worth the price of admission!

Dave, I didn't notice anyone on this site saying that the ad sponsors had no right to sponsor the ad. Calling it stupid, homophobic etc. is simply our free speech response to their free speech.
As for fighting back--yes. We must. Forget about taking the high road, rising above it etc. But when we fight back we do not have to stoop to the same level. We do not have to resort to appeals to bigotry, slander, lies, and disportionate faux outrage. What we have to do is call things by their real names. The Republican party has been highjacked by extremists--let's call them that. Santorum is an extremist. DeLay is an extremist. And the Republican leaders who aren't religious or economic extremists are criminals. The Bush nominees for the federal courts are extemists. And we need to use powerful words, yes even "fascist", when those words apply. Their methods are unAmerican. We need to say so.
No I don't think the ad should be censored. I think it should be accurately labelled as bigoted and word about the ad should be spread far and wide as an example of how Republicans operate.

Amen, lily.

von: Do anything but pretend that they are serious people -- because they aren't. Whatever my agreements with the group's larger goal -- and I do want personal accounts, although I'm beginning to wonder about my bedfellows -- it doesn't deserve a seat at the table.

von, Richard Viguerie has had a large, comfy seat at the table for twenty-five years, and neither he nor USANext nor the Swift Boat slimers are going anywhere, no matter how energetically "principled" phase-out-Social-Security proponents mock them.

USANext rakes in tens of millions of dollars from drug and oil companies, and spends them on PR like this. The Swift Boat slimers are the hot consultants in the Republican campaign world, credited with making a crucial difference in the fall campaign.

This campaign is explicitly, overtly about destroying an organization that is in the way of Bush's policy juggernaut. I'm glad you don't approve, but please: face the reality of who your allies are and what this is all about.

"Do anything but pretend that they are serious people -- because they aren't."

They are seriously powerful, and they seriously believe in the cause they are forwarding and the methods they use to achieve it. Given those two, a principled opponent would be foolish to do anything other than take them seriously.

Given that, in what context could you mean that they aren't serious people? I expect that you would like them to not be serious, because you would like to believe that the machinery of the Republican party has certain standards. I think this is yet another among many opportunities to rethink that belief.

Sidereal: I think this is yet another among many opportunities to rethink that belief.

Given that Von refuses, as a matter of faith, to accept the evidence that Bush & Co lied, I don't suppose he'll want to accept evidence of his own eyes that this is the standard machinery of the Republican party.

"Given that Von refuses, as a matter of faith"

This in my view is not "reasonably civil".

Given that Von refuses, as a matter of faith, to accept the evidence that Bush & Co lied...

Von does not draw the same conclusion as you from the evidence. It's not that difficult to understand.

I agree, Jes, lets not make the argument personal.

And Josh Marshall reports that USA Next has pulled the ad.

heet, your Google search was close but no cigar.

This one is already bearing, er, fruit.

A tried and true strategy: subrational association.

tried and true subrational association indeed. Brought to you by the same minds that convinced a significant portion of the population that John Kerrys medals (ribbons -whatever-) should be torn from his chest and pinned on George Bush.

Sometimes I'm amazed that I don't cry myself to sleep every night.

Sebastian Holsclaw:

"I'm appalled. Is USA Next an important group? I've never heard of them."

Not to worry, the White House has. But they seem to have learned their lesson since the swift boat bruhauhau.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/21/politics

"In the case of USA Next, the group and the White House say they are not working together. Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman, said the administration was familiar with the group and has interacted with it on issues in the past, but said that it had no input on its current efforts. USA Next says it has taken pains to disassociate itself from the administration, even declining to join the large lobbying coalitions the White House is working with to pass Social Security legislation."

What was the term --- plausible deniability?

"What was the term --- plausible deniability?"

In this case, I'd say implausible deniability.

Lily, I've been wanting to say this for some time: Your comments are so often rewarding because they're so clearly sincere, and not argument for the sake of argument. And that makes them refreshingly straightforward.

(Oh, and I almost always agree with them; that has something to do with it, too...)

Oh thank you Nell. I often feel that I am too shrill and overthe top but I don't think anyone wants to ban me yet! I hope not.

Now Josh Marshall, with help from one of his readers, has found the link between USA Next and the RNC. It seems that USA Next shares the address of one of the RNC's marketing firms.

The cute couple step forward.

I saw that rilkefan. Nice to know that USA Next isn't above copyright infringement in their efforts to make America a more moral place.

Well, that hasn't been established yet, Edward. All we know right now is that the guys in the picture are righteously pissed that these USA Next slime-mongers have exploited their wedding photo on behalf of the Republican Party.

Gromit,

You're right, The Portland Tribune sells its photos, and USA Next probably did pay for it. Forgive me for expecting the worst of them.

hmmm...not sure why that link didn't work. Try this one.

Aha!

I was right to expect the worst of USA Next:

I got a call this morning from the Portland Tribune and our photo was used without the Tribune's permission.

Copyright-infringing scum!

The plot thickens.

I haven't commented on this yet, Edward, because it's one of those Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot moments. How AARP, soldiers and gay marriage are somehow connected together is not a thought process I want running through my head like a bad song from the '80s.

Copyright-infringing scum!

Anyone else wonder if that's why they took it down?

Jes-

Nah...I'm sure it's just an odd coinky-dink ;)

Entirely innocent, don't ya know.

From Marshall again, a rather surreal discussion of the ad with USA Next's Charlie Jarvis and the Cato Institute's Michael Tanner.

Since CPAC I've been hearing a lot about growing dissatisfaction among Republican-leaning libertarians. They apparently got the cold shoulder at the conference, and are growing increasingly nervous about the social agenda of today's GOP. Now we see this lover's quarrel on CNN.

What to make of this? (Other than to confirm that Charlie Jarvis is a complete buffoon, I mean.)

In addition to Jarvis being an idiot, having Jarvis debate someone from CATO, and no one else, just confirmed my belief in CNN's liberal bias. A truly balanced report would have had a genuine ideological counterweight, maybe someone from the Montana Militia.

Now, Hilzoy, they did invite someone from the AARP, the "largest left liberal lobbying organization on the planet".

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