Wednesday, August 30, 2006

more on Allen's racist friends

Oh my. Archpundit posts an actual letter s/he got from one of the guys in the picture with George Allen. It's racist vitriol on a level I've rarely heard. Take a look, and decide for yourself if Allen's buddies are racist pricks.

racist George Allen's racist friends

Man, this guy's dirty. From The Nation (c/o Kos):
Only a decade ago, as governor of Virginia, Allen personally initiated an association with the Council of Conservative Citizens, the successor organization to the segregationist White Citizens Council and among the largest white supremacist groups.

In 1996, when Governor Allen entered the Washington Hilton Hotel to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of conservative movement organizations, he strode to a booth at the entrance of the exhibition hall festooned with two large Confederate flags--a booth operated by the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), at the time a co-sponsor of CPAC. After speaking with CCC founder and former White Citizens Council organizer Gordon Lee Baum and two of his cohorts, Allen suggested that they pose for a photograph with then-National Rifle Association spokesman and actor Charlton Heston. The photo appeared in the Summer 1996 issue of the CCC's newsletter, the Citizens Informer.

According to Baum, Allen had not naively stumbled into a chance meeting with unfamiliar people. He knew exactly who and what the CCC was about and, from Baum's point of view, was engaged in a straightforward political transaction. "It helped us as much as it helped him," Baum told me. "We got our bona fides." And so did Allen.

I can't believe people scoff at the idea that racism is alive and well and is a driving force in the Republican party. It ain't like the CCC is defunct or even diminished. The Southern Strategy was less than 40 years ago. And we still hear the "code," the terms and ideas that sound racially innocuous... unless you're a racist, and you know the buzzwords. Words like "welfare queens" that Reagan and others used that were tacitly understood as "black welfare queens." It was racistcodeapalooza during Katrina, what with "looters" (who were always black), the "lazy" residents who "were waiting on their welfare checks" and forming "street gangs." And far too many daft talk show hosts and TV magazine shows let conservatives spout that crap without questioning what they really meant.

Allen is the perpetuator of that system, and he's the product of it, having been taken in by the "coolness" of confederate conservatism growing up, despite having no ties whatsoever to the South.

Had enough, Virginia? Support Jim Webb.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

somebody's gotta do it

Ok party people, here's the skinny: I've started a new blog. I'm keeping this one, and will continue to post on it, but I can't find any blogs dedicated to the race in IN-02, and damnit, it's just too important to go unnoticed on the internets. So here's the site: 'Round the Bend: Shock troops in the bluification of Michiana.

I'd appreciate a couple of things from y'all. First, feedback. Please feed me your ideas/qualms/leads/whathaveyous. Second, your eyes and ears. Please pass me any info you find, any articles you read, any rumors you hear on the IN-02 race, or on politics in Michiana in general. Also, plug this site to your family, friends, coworkers, anyone living in this district or curious about the race. Finally, I'm going to give it my best, but I don't know if I can do this alone, and I can use all the help I can get. If anyone I know would like to contribute actual material (as in, do some posting), please let me know. Obviously, you won't have to post under any deadlines or quotas or anything, just adding your 2 cents or whatever is great.

Bush Administration to be subpoenaed?

Rawstory sez White House will receive subpoenas at 4:30 today over domestic wiretapping (c/o a gnostic at dKos). Should be big news if it actually happens, but I don't think Rawstory is exactly Reuters, so take it with a grain of salt.

poll fun

Here is a fun interactive new poll from WSJ/Zogby. It covers all the races for senate and governor this year.

It also contains a ton of good news. It shows the GOP only holding 4 of the 20 gubernatorial races (a possible Dem pickup of... get this... nine), and while it's more mixed on the Senate it has potentially great news on that front as well.

I wouldn't trust the explanation of the poll's ramifications on the side panel, though, at least for the Senate one. It predicts the Republicans will maintain their majority 52-46, despite the fact that 2 of that 52 includes races not covered by Zogby where the Democratic candidate is consistently beating the Republican (Montana and Rhode Island). Taking those into account would make the numbers 50-49, and with a likely Democratic tide and 4 Republican races within the margin of error, it's hard to say this poll clearly shows a Republican majority in '07.

That simple fact alone is amazing, considering the Senate wasn't even considered in play at the beginning of the year.

To put said blurb's credibility into proper perspective, it also says that Jim Jeffords is expected to caucus with the Democrats. Actually, he's not expected to caucus with anyone, because he's retiring. Bernie Sanders, the Independent leading and projected by everyone to win in that race (also not covered by this poll), however, will.

Now, let's see if I can provide a slightly better blurb:

There are only 3 races where the Dems lead in a GOP seat (again, not including the ones in Montana and Rhode Island), and it shows McCaskill down against Republican Jim Talent in Missouri, but it confirms a poll earlier this week showing Allen losing to Webb in Virginia (a tradeoff for McCaskill, who was leading slightly until recently in other polls). It also shows the Republican leads in Nevada, Arizona, and Tennessee whittled down to within the margin of error.

Though it also shows the same number of Dem seats within the margin of error, no polls in a long time have shown any Democrats losing, and even nonpartisan outfits like Cook political report are predicting that the Dems will hold all of their seats due to the almost certain Democratic wave. Also, the close Dem races have been that way pretty much the whole cycle (and, in fact, have generally trended bluer, with the exception of Stabenow) while the closeness of the GOP seats is a new development (Ensign, Kyl, and Allen, for instance, were not considered vulnerable 6 months ago).

Remember, if the Dems win 6, they flip the Senate.

Nota bene: The MT-Sen race, according to Rasmussen, is now tied at 47%, though previous polls showed Tester (the Democrat) up by 7. This was taken before Burns' gaffe about his "little Guatemalan man," though, so I still think this one will go to Tester.

the GOP economy

From The New York Times (c/o AMERICAblog):
With the economy beginning to slow, the current expansion has a chance to become the first sustained period of economic growth since World War II that fails to offer a prolonged increase in real wages for most workers.

The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity — the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation’s living standards — has risen steadily over the same period.

As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as “the golden era of profitability.”

Until the last year, stagnating wages were somewhat offset by the rising value of benefits, especially health insurance, which caused overall compensation for most Americans to continue increasing. Since last summer, however, the value of workers’ benefits has also failed to keep pace with inflation, according to government data.

It's worth mentioning, first of all, that the only bright spot in the report, i.e. "the rising value of benefits, especially health insurance", isn't referring to people getting better benefits, but rather simply that the same benefits are costing more than ever so employers have to dig deeper into the pockets to give us the same crappy HMO coverage we were getting in 2000. So it's not really a bright spot at all, it just looks like one when you crunch the numbers.

Since the House of Reps was somewhat consistently Democratic from the Roosevelt Administration to 1994 (including a forty-year period of constant Democratic control from 1954-1994), this is the first time since WWII that the entire government has been run by the GOP for any appreciable length of time. And this is what we get.

It shouldn't be surprising, of course: an economy where businessmen prosper and workers suffer uncannily reflects Republican priorities. They favor the entrepreneur over the worker, the corporation over the consumer. And their policies, from tax cuts for the rich to failure to raise the minimum wage for a decade (which is at its lowest buying power since 1966) to the lack of oversight over corporate criminals like Enron, reflect such priorities.

Had enough? Support your local Democratic candidates.

Monday, August 28, 2006

big pharma dishes it out for the GOP

From the Cleveland Plain-Dealer (c/o TPM Muckraker):
The pharmaceutical industry quietly footed the bill for at least part of a recent multimillion-dollar ad campaign praising lawmakers, including Sen. Mike DeWine of Ohio, who support the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, according to political officials.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce claims credit for the ads, although a spokesman refused repeatedly to say whether it had received any funds from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA.

I know Big Pharma went up to bat for Chocola with those prescription drug bill ads, and I remember that there's also a pro-Chocola ad out from the US Chamber of Commerce.

Does anyone remember what the USCoC ad was about, and could it be part of this same ad blitz?


Some interesting facts about Barry Goldwater, the founder of modern conservatism:
1. he was pro-choice
2. he was pro-gays in the military
3. Hillary Clinton campaigned for him.

That helps bring into perspective just how far right national discourse, especially the rightwing version, has drifted. Goldwater's positions on some issues fall to the left of many of today's Democrats.

Friday, August 25, 2006

our national detour into CRAZY!town

From Walter Williams (c/o Glenn Greenwald):
Does the United States have the power to eliminate terrorists and the states that support them? In terms of capacity, as opposed to will, the answer is a clear yes.

Think about it. Currently, the U.S. has an arsenal of 18 Ohio class submarines. Just one submarine is loaded with 24 Trident nuclear missiles. Each Trident missile has eight nuclear warheads capable of being independently targeted. That means the U.S. alone has the capacity to wipe out Iran, Syria or any other state that supports terrorist groups or engages in terrorism -- without risking the life of a single soldier.

Terrorist supporters know we have this capacity, but because of worldwide public opinion, which often appears to be on their side, coupled with our weak will, we'll never use it. Today's Americans are vastly different from those of my generation who fought the life-and-death struggle of World War II. Any attempt to annihilate our Middle East enemies would create all sorts of handwringing about the innocent lives lost, so-called collateral damage.

Such an argument would have fallen on deaf ears during World War II when we firebombed cities in Germany and Japan. The loss of lives through saturation bombing far exceeded those lost through the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

This is why the elections matter. This is why the Democrats have to win. Neoconservatives like Williams are currently running the Republican party. They comprise most of the senior staff in the Executive branch, up to (and including, in my opinion) the guy sitting in the Oval Office.

This is what they want. This is what they believe in. The nuclear annihilation of other countries that have not even attacked us, nor is there any tangible evidence that they plan to.

Preemptive. Nuclear. War.

So Williams is among the first to actually say it. Plenty of others, however, have hinted at it, as Greenwald shows. You really think there's no possibility of neocons in the government wanting this as well, or at least something similar? How much are you willing to bet on it?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

the next step in the New American Century

From New York Times:
Some senior Bush administration officials and top Republican lawmakers are voicing anger that American spy agencies have not issued more ominous warnings about the threats that they say Iran presents to the United States.

Some policy makers have accused intelligence agencies of playing down Iran’s role in Hezbollah’s recent attacks against Israel and overestimating the time it would take for Iran to build a nuclear weapon.

The complaints, expressed privately in recent weeks, surfaced in a Congressional report about Iran released Wednesday. They echo the tensions that divided the administration and the Central Intelligence Agency during the prelude to the war in Iraq.

The criticisms reflect the views of some officials inside the White House and the Pentagon who advocated going to war with Iraq and now are pressing for confronting Iran directly over its nuclear program and ties to terrorism, say officials with knowledge of the debate.

And now it's Flashback: 2002! Ya know, I can't help but wonder, why would Republican lawmakers (I actually just typed "lawbreakers" on accident) want the intelligence agency to start getting shrill about threats from Iran just now? I mean, what possible ulterior motive could the GOP have for wanting to scare the bejesus out of people, or better yet, start another war, which causes Americans to instantly rally around their leaders? And why would this particular group of leaders want war with Iran so badly?

Possibly the least reassuring part of the article:
Several intelligence officials said that American spy agencies had made assessments in recent weeks that despite established ties between Iran and Hezbollah and a well-documented history of Iran arming the organization, there was no credible evidence to suggest either that Iran ordered the Hezbollah raid that touched off the recent fighting or that Iran was directly controlling attacks against Israel.

“There are no provable signs of Iranian direction on the ground,” said one intelligence official in Washington. “Nobody should think that Hezbollah is a remote-controlled entity.” American military assessments have broadly echoed this view, say people who maintain close ties to military intelligence officers.

“Does Iran profit from all of this? Yes,” said Gen. Wayne A. Downing Jr., the retired former commander of the Special Operations Command and a White House counterterrorism adviser during President Bush’s first term. “But is Iran pulling the strings? The guys I’m talking to say, ‘no.’ ”

Shorter White House counterterrorism adviser: "What do you mean all of the militant groups in the Middle East aren't part of a single monolith emanating from Tehran?"

Sounds like the guys in charge of this stuff in the Bush Administration are part of what you might call a "pre-1990 mindset."

"the brainiacs of the bunch"

When did we all flashback to 1963? From Media Matters:
On the August 23 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, Rush Limbaugh suggested that the competition in a new season of CBS' reality TV program Survivor, in which contestants are reportedly divided into competing "tribes" by ethnicity, "is not going to be fair if there's a lot of water events." In support of this assertion, he cited a March 2 HealthDay article reporting that "young blacks -- especially males -- are much more likely to drown in pools than whites."

Regarding the new Survivor series, Limbaugh also stated that there "are many characteristics ... that you would think would give [the African-American tribe] the lead, and the heads up in terms of skill and athleticism and so forth." He also stated that "our early money" is on "the Hispanic tribe" -- which he said could include "a Cuban," "a Nicaraguan," or "a Mexican or two" -- provided they don't "start fighting for supremacy amongst themselves." Limbaugh added that Hispanics have "probably shown the most survival tactics," that they "have shown a remarkable ability to cross borders" and that they can "do it without water for a long time, they don't get apprehended, and they will do things other people won't do."

Limbaugh also asserted that "the Asian-American tribe" -- whom he called "the brainiacs of the bunch" -- "probably will outsmart everybody," but while "intelligence is one thing ... raw, native understanding of the land -- this is probably why the Native Americans were excluded, because they were at one with the land and they would probably have an unfair advantage."

And what a Grand Ol' Party it is that brought us back to an era where this is considered reasonable discourse.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

IN-02: Chocola spreads more disinformation

I just saw yet another new Chocola ad, this one countering the DNC's attack on Chocola's support for the Federal Energy Bill of 2005. Of course, it's one long exercise in bs, from referring to the DNC as "Donnelly's liberal allies" (meant to insinuate the intrusion of 527's and interest groups into the fight-- in fact, Chocola seems to have more of those on his side, including the US Chamber of Commerce and the American Healthcare Association and Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care that funded the disinformation ad on Medicare Plan D) to cynically referring to the bill as "the ethanol bill."

Because, ya know, it was all about ethanol, and the $5 billion in takeaways to the oil and gas companies that contributed so much to Chocola's reelection fund was just a minor detail!

The icing on the mendacity cake? One of the key parts of the energy bill was a provision protecting manufacturers of MTBE from damages for it soaking into our groundwater. MTBE, you may remember, is a gasoline additive that helps it burn, just like ethanol. Unlike ethanol, if it gets into the groundwater it can be disastrous to the public health. Ethanol and MTBE compete with each other, so protecting the makers of MTBE hurts the makers of ethanol (and, arguably, corn farmers). And this particular provision proved to be so controversial that it threatened to derail the entire bill.

Well, in July 2005 (HR 6, Vote #373, 7/14/2005) the Democrats introduced an amendment to strike that particular provision, holding MTBE manufacturers accountable for the environmental damage their product (which remember, kids, is in competition with ethanol) does. Guess which way Chocola voted on said provision? That's right, folks, he voted for protecting MTBE producers.

I guess that mean Chris Chocola was against ethanol before he was for it.

is W getting senile?

This is fascinating. Here's a comparison video of Bush at a debate for the Texas governorship in 1994 and Bush vs. Kerry 10 years later. The difference in his cognitive abilities is striking.

I paid a lot of attention to this race in 1994, being 16 and just becoming politically aware. I remember Bush the gubernatorial candidate a little bit, and I remember people being pretty impressed with him (admittedly, in a very conservative town). One thing I definitely remember is that people had some reservations about Bush, but it was never that he was stupid, and you'd think that criticism would've come up seeing as he was going toe-to-toe with Ann Richards, who at least presented herself as exceedingly polished and sharp.

Perhaps my faint rememberings of his governorship (or at least his '94 campaign) are why, even though I joke about it, I still sometimes resist the argument that W has been such a disaster because he's stupid. I really think that W is still the man in charge, and that he's going along with the neocons because he is one. He totally buys into that ideology. The reason he has such a puppet persona, in my opinion, is because as long as people believe he's being pulled this way and that by various unseen hands (2 of them being Dick Cheney's, of course), they can hold out hope that maybe he'll wake up and boot out the neocons and set a new course for a less disastrous, if still mediocre, end to his tenure in the Oval Office.

Read my lips, folks: Na. Ga. Happen.

Update: Here's the video:

The Stranger? Hamlet? OH COME ON!

An interesting post from the Carpetbagger on Bush's "summer reading list." And what a whopper it is! Aside from the fact that this reading list is a baldly mendacious attempt to boost W's intellectual cred (Hamlet and MacBeth? honestly...), it also happens that after a little number crunching, some folks on "the internets" figured out it's pretty much impossible for the president to have read all these books over the summer and done his job at the same time.

Steve Benen continues:
C'mon. We're talking about a guy who's supposed to be folksy and simple. It's an image the White House has worked hard to cultivate over the years. The president seems to enjoy it — otherwise he wouldn't openly mock people with PhDs.

The fact that the White House gang is experimenting with a new persona — Bush, the reader — is embarrassing. He's not supposed to be about book learnin'; he's about governing by instinct and relying on the advice of educated people who tell him what he wants to hear. Switching gears now is not only literally unbelievable, it's pointless. The die is already cast.

There have been a number of these ridiculous PR stunts over the course of the Bush Administration, but this is one of the more obvious and sadder ones. It's also one that they've been pushing for at least a few months now (you may remember that the line Bush used to sneak off to Baghdad for his last trip was, "Excuse me, I'm going to go read..."). The good news is that Bush's overriding need to change his image may be due to internal polls showing that the people have figured out that a "shoot-from-the-hip guy I want to drink with" president isn't such a good idea. Such a change of opinion requires some pretty serious un-branding.

I think this image is not so much an issue of cubila jacta est ("the die is cast") as much as Erasmus' correction cubila jacta esto ("oh, what the hell...")


From a blurb on Richard Viguerie's new book Conservatives Betrayed (stetson tip to Digby:
This is the first book that deals with the disappointment and even anger that most conservatives have with President Bush and the GOP-led Congress on major public policy issues. In this conservative manifesto, Viguerie applies conservative principles to 21st Century problems and issues. He also presents a detailed strategy for conservatives to take back control of the Republican Party and govern America.

With President Bush's low approval numbers, the unrest among grassroots conservatives, and the potential for GOP losses in the 2006 and 2008 elections, this book is a roadmap for conservatives as they begin to rebuild the conservative movement, recapture the Republican Party, and move even the Democrats to the right. In Conservatives Betrayed, Mr. Viguerie proposes bold action for conservatives to take back the Republican Party from Big Government Republicans, including:

Withhold financial support from Republican committees and most Republican incumbents.

Withhold support from all 2008 presidential candidates.

No longer call yourself a "Republican" but rather a Reagan conservative or Reagan Republican.

And so the great conservative canard is perpetuated: "Bush isn't really conservative, that's why he screwed up. If he were a real conservative, ya know, like Reagan..." But there are 2 serious problems with this argument:

1. If Bush isn't really a conservative, then how come conservatives absolutely luuuuuuved him until quite recently? He got no less than 84 percent of the conservative vote in 2004. Not 2000. 2004, after the War in Iraq had not only begun, but had begun to sour. He failed to break even among either liberals or "moderates," but got such an overwhelming proportion of the conservative vote that they swung the election for him.

Of course, conservatives inevitably say, "Oh that's just because Kerry was sooooooo bad! We held our nose and voted for W, honest!" Oh really? Then maybe you can explain why Bush's approval rating was polling at 94% among conservatives in January 2005, after the election and long after Iraq had become a quagmire. In fact, just 5 months ago he was still stamped "Grade A Conservative" by 78% of his ideological peers, long after everyone else in the country had kicked him to the curb. By this point, for instance, he was only fooling 26% of Independents and 9% of Democrats.

2. How, exactly, is Bush different ideologically than Reagan again? Their foreign policy looks astonishingly similar to me. So similar, in fact, that it appears Bush is trying to wage Cold War on a Soviet-style terrorist monolith that doesn't even exist. Their economic and budgetary policies are nearly identical. And their domestic policy. Ditto with their rhetoric ("God Bless America," good vs. evil, etc.). Hell, don't they even have a lot of the same staff?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

the media's idea of accountability

If the Revolution isn't televised, it will be because the media will still be talking about Jonbenet Ramsey. After they spend a week shoving this story down our throats, they dare to stand agape on the evening news at "how interested the country is" in this decade-old murder.

Really? Did "the country" decide to pre-empt everything else going on to spend all their time stalking John Mark Karr? Or did the media?

Their ability to stand there and pretend like they have no hand in the manufacturing of "news" is sickening sometimes.

more poll madness

Polls, get your polls right here! (c/o Kos)

I'd like to highlight VA-Sen. 2 polls, Rasmussen (8/16. Likely voters. MoE 4.5% (7/18 results)):
Allen (R) 47 (50)
Webb (D) 42 (39)

and SUSA (8/18. Likely voters. MoE 4.2% (6/28 results)):
Allen (R) 48 (56)
Webb (D) 45 (37)

Looks like we have a race! This is truly huge, I think. All the news has been that the Webb campaign has been broke for weeks, yet he's still managed to bring the race to a statistical dead heat. People are saying the "macaca" thing hurt Allen somethin' awful, which may well be true. If it is true, Allen's in deep doodoo because he has a long, checkered, and well-documented past when it comes to racism. He may well be the most outwardly bigoted person in the entire Senate (funny thing for the son of a French-speaking African Jew).

I'm gonna put this out there: I don't think Webb's chances are very good, despite what the polls say. And here's why: the Republicans need George Felix Allen, Jr. By all accounts, he's their man in '08. In '06, he represents a formerly blood-red state that's suddenly trending blue in a whole damn hurry. A Southern state that's trending blue in a whole damn hurry.

I got a piece of trivia for ya: did you know that only 1 Democrat has received 50% +1 of the popular vote in a presidential election since Johnson kicked the dogshit out of Barry Goldwater in 1964? You wanna know why we stopped electing Democratic presidential candidates after the Johnson Administration? Look no further than the 12-state 3rd World country under the Mason-Dixon Line.

Allen's upset could well signal the beginning of the end, as far as the GOP's iron grip on the South goes. They're already losing the Mountain West, one of the fastest growing regions in the country, where Colorado and Montana have already booted the Republicans out of the state legislatures and are poised to send 2 Democrats into the Senate in 2 years, where Idaho may be electing a Democrat to one of their 2 congressional seats, and where Nevada might just make a Senator out of the son of the last donkey president to get 50%--Jack Carter. They cannot afford to lose the South. Not a single Southern state. To do so would be potentially to set off a Democratic infiltration that could cast the GOP out into the political desert for decades to come. The repetition of the post-Hoover conservative political cataclysm.

All this means, I suspect, that the GOP will spend whatever it takes to win Allen's reelection, making this race a huge money drain. If Webb can continue to force Allen to spend many times as much money just to stay afloat, the Republicans may have to start diverting funds from other contested races to prop Allen up, making the other R candidates that much more vulnerable.

trouble in Lieberland

Wow, wasn't expecting this. Only a week or two after polls showing Lieberman with as much as an 11-point lead, we have this from Rasmussen (c/o MyDD, MoE 4):
Lieberman: 45 (46)
Lamont: 43 (41)
Schlesinger: 6 (6)

and this from American Research Group (MoE 3.5):
Lieberman: 44
Lamont: 42
Schlesinger: 3
Undecided: 11

Also, Lamont appears poised to scoop up the UAW endorsement (apparently a big deal). I gotta admit, I wasn't giving Lamont the greatest odds in a general election opposite Joementum, but now I'm starting to wonder. What seems most apparent in all the poll madness is that Lieberman's support among Democrats is dead, dead, dead, which is almost certainly what's given Lamont this boost.

Of course, to seal the deal Lamont has to swing the independents and/or get the Republicans to stay home. Can he do it?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Lamont vs. Lieberman: should we care?

Apropos of a growing debate in the Democratic party, I give you TPM Reader DK, who thinks the CT-Sen race is a waste of resources and blogger time, vs. Atrios, who thinks the race is a big deal.

Overall, I'm going with Atrios on this one. There are 2 sub-debates where I think Atrios and Co. are indisputably the "righter" ones:

1. Letting Lieberman off the hook sets a dangerous precedent where incumbents with support from the right are no longer expected to respect the will of their party members, as decided by primaries. In a political age such as this where people want to throw their weight behind the donkeys but are skeptical of their populism, unaccountable incumbents are a big problem.

2. (the more obvious one) Lieberman vs. Lamont isn't just about Lieberman or Lamont because there are no less than 3 House races at stake that Lieberman's campaign strategy of "get out the Republican vote" ipso facto jeopardizes. In other words, Lieberman's choice to flip CT Democrats the bird may cost House Democrats 20% of the gains they need to retake House leadership. Twenty percent.

There is, however, one notable place where I think DK is closer to the mark: Money, time, and labor allocated for Lamont/Lieberman (mainly by voters but also, I suspect, by the party campaign committees) is money that could've been spent elsewhere against actual card-carrying Republicans.

The problem for DK is that he's looking the wrong way when he says that, i.e., he's looking scornfully at the netroots when he should be looking at Joe Lieberman. It's not the netroots' fault that Lieberman's running as an independent and sapping Democratic resources; it's Joe Lieberman's fault. Nor did the netroots elect Lamont in the first place; Connecticut Democrats did. Is anyone going to say they were wrong for speaking their minds and expecting Lieberman to respect their wishes?

DK's very valid point that there is, in fact, resources going to this race that should've gone to others only exacerbates the fact that Joe Lieberman is doing tremendous damage to his party for defying their will in a perfectly legitimate primary and that nobody's fault but Joe Lieberman's.

UPDATE: Marshall has finally put his 2 cents in here. Like Atrios, he questions the "zero-sum" nature the resources spent on the race. Again, I really still don't agree. Certainly it's not a 1-to-1 ratio of, for instance, money to Lamont-money to Donnelly, but there most certainly is some opportunity cost involved in fighting the CT-Super Primary. There are people out there who are gung ho about the midterms and definitely going to give money to Dem candidates and would like to cut Webb 50 clams, but they're giving some (or all) of it to Lamont instead because they feel ousting Lieberman is a higher priority. If Lieberman weren't running, then what, they'd keep their money to themselves? I'll bet there's a ton of people in Connecticut in exactly this position.

Josh also sez:
What does irk me is that there's a tendency I see in a lot of liberal blogosphere to go from being against Lieberman, to being against anyone who supports Lieberman, to being against anyone who isn't sufficiently against Lieberman, to be against anyone who even raises a question about the emerging orthodoxy about this race.

Well, I would agree, and this makes a lot of sense to me, except I haven't actually seen much any of this. Or rather, I haven't seen anything that doesn't have a doppleganger on the other side. In fact, I'm tempted to say that the "I'm against anyone who dares question the supreme importance of CT-Sen. over all other races" Democrat is of the same feather as the "O Boy! I just Luuuuuuuuuv big government!" Democrat.

Chimerae do have feathers, right?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

judge strikes down NSA wiretapping program

Holy cow. From AP (via TPM Muckraker:
DETROIT - A federal judge ruled Thursday that the government's warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and ordered an immediate halt to it.

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit became the first judge to strike down the National Security Agency's program, which she says violates the rights to free speech and privacy as well as the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.

"Plaintiffs have prevailed, and the public interest is clear, in this matter. It is the upholding of our Constitution," Taylor wrote in her 43-page opinion.

How long until rightwingers resume calls for violence against judges?

Coulter Skelter

coul-ter: [ancienne Francais, from Lat. culter, "ploughshare"] n. "knife"

Digby has a great post up today about Ann the Knife and her apologist in the New Republic (is this what "moderation" is now, defending Ann Coulter? Stop the ride, I wanna get off). I've wanted to write about Coulter a number of times, but I've tended to refrain b/c I really don't wanna give her any more publicity. But I'm all for joining the rest of the blogosphere in talking Elspeth Reeve back from the brink.

Ann contributes nothing to political discourse. Contrary to what Reeve says, she brings no insights to the conversation b/c, as Digby says, her arguments are absurd and her proofs are all too often patently false. She deals in political porn: asinine assertions written wittily.

Baking elephant shit in a graham-cracker crust.

Coulter says the things that hard-core conservatives really think, the nasty little prejudices and condescensions of the rightwing mind that people try to conceal when they're arguing with non-likeminded folk. Underneath the theories and the ideology and references to obscure people and events is a bullying spirit that everyone else hides, but Coulter proudly displays. All non-whitebread conservative American Republicans are inferior, especially the blacks who would all be working at McDonald's if it weren't for affirmative action. The Middle East (b/c it's all just one big pile o' brown folk at the end of the day) needs to be forcefully subjugated to protect (whitebread Republican) American interests. All the "pretty people" are conservative. The "weenie" motif in Reeve's article. Digby's "superiority theory" take on Coulter's brand of humor.

The Knife's brand of "humor" is something I'd thought about before, along a somewhat different tack. A favorite tactic of hers when she's confronted for making a comment so hideously offensive that it really does teeter on the brink of genuine "bad publicity"-- as much as such a thing exists for political pornographers like the Knife-- is to dismiss the comment as "a joke."

But as Al Franken famously said of Limbaugh's Chelsea Clinton/dog bit, "what's the joke?"

If one of Coulter's statements is a joke, the implication is that "she's kidding," i.e., she doesn't really believe that, say, the 9/11 widows are griefarazzi harpies who made a cool mil off of their husband's deaths. But how, then, is that funny? Such a funny is only "funny" in 2 cases: 1. she believes the complete opposite of the statement and is mocking people who believe it (Stephen Colbert), or 2. she really believes it and has put it in an exceedingly defiant and witty way (Dennis Miller). Any exaggeration is often minimal, as in Dennis Miller doesn't believe Saddam has bin Laden literally "on speed dial," but only because bin Laden isn't using phones anymore.

We can bet that reason #1 probably does not apply here.

Significantly, she never has retracted any of these statements, either. Her comment that "it's a joke" is just a faux retraction with a wink to her rightwing fans and friends who know how much of a "joke" that line really isn't. To use the Rush analogy again, do you think Rush "was joking" when he insinuated that Chelsea Clinton was a dog in the sense that he didn't really think she was ugly and used that to kick the president in the balls? Whether or not "it's a joke" doesn't say anything about the "joker's" belief in the insinuation and their conveyance of it as truth.

The joke excuse is just that: an excuse to get away with saying things that considered outside the boundaries of reasonable discussion, but things she and her ilk, nevertheless, believe to be true. As Digby sez:
Ann Coulter is not a brash comedienne, she is a propagandist and if you can't see that she is deadly serious you are a fool.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

UK terror plot another political stunt?

Andrew Sullivan puts 2 and 2 together, and comes up with a sum that looks an awful lot like another arrests-as-political-stunt situation like we saw in Florida, this time from the British (though still at the behest of the Bush team):
So far, no one has been charged in the alleged terror plot to blow up several airplanes across the Atlantic. No evidence has been produced supporting the contention that such a plot was indeed imminent. Forgive me if my skepticism just ratcheted up a little notch.

Josh isn't ready to concede that the plot was more Seas of David tripe, though he admits it's "less than met the eye."

Certainly as of yet there's nothing to indicate that FULL PANIC MODE AT THE AIRPORTS and cable news' return to 24 hour OH MY GOD THEY'RE GOING TO BOMB THE SHOPPING MALLS mode had any justification whatsoever.

The only evidence produced on these guys? One guys testimony, obtained under torture in Pakistan.

Had enough?


Best. Clip. Ever.


This guy was jailed after 9/11. When he got sent to jail, he was 27. They didn't let him out until he was 32.

He was never charged with a crime.

(hat tip AMERICAblog)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Lieberman commits to the Democratic Party

Might be the first smart move he's made this cycle. From TPMCafe, asking Lieberman if he still planned to caucus with the Democrats and vote for Harry Reid for Majority Leader, should he win as an Independent in November:
Here's the answer given by Lieberman senior adviser Dan Gerstein: "Senator Lieberman is a Democrat, will continue to be a Democrat and is committed to caucusing with the Democrats should he be reelected. If reelected, he is absolutely committed to supprting Senator Reid as leader, and he very much hopes it will be as majority leader."
Lamont could've beaten him mercilessly for failing to commit, seeing as he's been suffering this whole time for looking a little too "Republican-lite."

future voting problems in Indiana?

The midterms in the Hoosier State are set to be among the most raucous in the country. Out of 9 congressional districts, 3 are in grave danger of switching from Republican to Democratic. 3 W's by the Dems would switch Indiana's congressional delegation from majority Republican to majority Democrat. The coattails of these candidates downticket could be disastrous for the state GOP as well, and as you can expect, the governor has taken action to stop the blue tide. Not by governing, of course, but by the soft disenfranchisement of the 21st century equivalents of Jim Crow.

All you Hoosier readers, I'm sure, are well aware of the governor's successful move to pass legislation requiring an ID to vote. And as you probably know as well, this disproportionally affects poor minority voters that vote overwhelmingly Democratic (the governor, of course, as well as the majority of the lege, is Republican).

Interestingly, the governor's move to update the computers in the state local BMV branches (yes, I know, everyone else has a Dept., not a "Bureau") has caused their systems to crash. Even more interestingly, this seems to be primarily affecting... you guessed it... people trying to get their licenses renewed/reinstated.

More than a month later, 2 of the state's 8 BMV branches are still having trouble. Which 2? According to the BMV, the ones in Sellersburg (IN-9) and South Bend (IN-2).

Wouldn'cha know, those just happen to be 2 of the 3 districts most likely to flip!

To be clear, I'm not saying I think Governor Daniels intentionally KO'd the BMV's computers to screw Democratic voters. If that is what he had wanted to do, he probably would've waited until closer to Election Day, since license branches here can print up your driver's license on site while you're there.

I am saying, however, that Daniels enacted a voter ID law to screw Democratic voters. And I am saying that his government's incompetence has led to further Democratic screwing. And I am insinuating that, if there was some choice as to which branches could get fixed first, said decision was made with an eye to further screwing Democratic voters by fixing the safe GOP districts first and making the endangered districts wait longer.

George Allen calls kid little-known racist epithet

I gotta hand it to the senator from Virginia: I grew up in the South with a dad who was, shall we say, well-versed in racist language, and I'd never heard of this one. From the Washington Post (c/o David NYC at dKos):
RICHMOND, Aug. 14 -- Virginia Sen. George Allen (R) apologized Monday for what his opponent's campaign said were demeaning and insensitive comments the senator made to a 20-year-old volunteer of Indian descent.

At a campaign rally in southwest Virginia on Friday, Allen repeatedly called a volunteer for Democrat James Webb "macaca." During the speech in Breaks, near the Kentucky border, Allen began by saying that he was "going to run this campaign on positive, constructive ideas" and then pointed at S.R. Sidarth in the crowd.

"This fellow here, over here with the yellow shirt, macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great," Allen said, as his supporters began to laugh. After saying that Webb was raising money in California with a "bunch of Hollywood movie moguls," Allen said, "Let's give a welcome to macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia." Allen then began talking about the "war on terror."

Depending on how it is spelled, the word macaca could mean either a monkey that inhabits the Eastern Hemisphere or a town in South Africa. In some European cultures, macaca is also considered a racial slur against African immigrants, according to several Web sites that track ethnic slurs.

In case anyone thinks Allen's comments were intended to be benign, here's the video. He hides it pretty well, but to me, at least, there is definitely a hint of contempt in his demeanor toward the person behind the camera, and the word "macaca" is clearly intended to convey something negative to all the white Southern conservatives around him. There's a palpable "schoolyard bully"-ness to the whole escapade.

Jeffrey Feldman at Frameshop does a little internet research on this word, and finds that it's commonly used on white supremacist websites to describe African Americans (in America) or North Africans/Middle Easterners (in Europe). A snippet from the many pieces of tripe he culled from the web using the term:
"I watched the press conference they had when they caught the rampaging macaque. ...goddamn rapin, lootin', murderin', rampaging niggers, goddamn them all..."

Is this out of character for Senator George Allen? Well, this is the same Senator who keeps a noose on a ficus branch in his office and a Confederate flag in his living room. This would also be the same Senator who opposed making Dr. King's birthday a Virginia state holiday. His record as a state legislator is a tad, ahem, "suspect" as well:
Allen became active in Virginia politics in the mid-'70s, when state Republicans were first learning how to assemble a new political coalition by wooing white Democrats with appeals to states' rights and respect for Dixie heritage.

Allen was a quick study. In his first race in 1979--according to Larry Sabato, a UVA professor and college classmate of Allen's--he ran a radio ad decrying a congressional redistricting plan whose main purpose was to elect Virginia's first post-Reconstruction black congressman. Allen lost that race but was back in 1982 and won the seat by 25 votes. He spent the next nine years in Richmond, where his pet issues, judging by the bills he personally sponsored, were crime and welfare. But he also found himself repeatedly voting in the minority on a series of racial issues that he seems embarrassed by today. In 1984, he was one of 27 House members to vote against a state holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, "Allen said the state shouldn't honor a non-Virginian with his own holiday." He was also bothered by the fact that the proposed holiday would fall on the day set aside in Virginia to honor Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. That same year, he did feel the urge to honor one of Virginia's own. He co-sponsored a resolution expressing "regret and sorrow upon the loss" of William Munford Tuck, a politician who opposed every piece of civil rights legislation while in Congress during the 1950s and 1960s and promised "massive resistance" to the Supreme Court's 1954 decision banning segregation.

And then there was this from his days as Virginia governor:
In 1994, he said he would accept an honorary membership at a Richmond social club with a well-known history of discrimination--an invitation that the three previous governors had refused. After an outcry, Allen rejected the offer. He replaced the only black member of the University of Virginia (UVA) Board of Visitors with a white one. He issued a proclamation drafted by the Sons of Confederate Veterans declaring April Confederate History and Heritage Month. The text celebrated Dixie's "four-year struggle for independence and sovereign rights." There was no mention of slavery.

Allen would also be one of the GOP's top picks for the presidency in 2008.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

the sheer breadth of the incompetence, part 5,349

Why do I still get surprised at this stuff? From AP (c/o Hunter at Dkos:
WASHINGTON -- As the British terror plot was unfolding, the Bush administration quietly tried to take away $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new explosives detection technology. Congressional leaders rejected the idea, the latest in a series of Homeland Security Department steps that have left lawmakers and some of the department's own experts questioning the commitment to create better anti-terror technologies.

Homeland Security's research arm, called the Sciences & Technology Directorate, is a "rudderless ship without a clear way to get back on course," Republican and Democratic senators on the Appropriations Committee declared recently.

You have got to be kidding me.

As Hunter sez:
The cost of the Iraq War is currently over three hundred billion dollars. The cost of ongoing Bush administration and Republican tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans is in the hundreds of billions. The cost of researching tools to better detect explosives known to be used by terrorists in the cut program was six million dollars.

Six million dollars for explosives detection is roughly two thousandths of one percent of the current cost of the Iraq War. The Bush administration wanted to cut it.

And then they have the audacity to paint their political opponents as "weak on terror".

Jeebus, how much longer do we have to deal with these idiots? Every day they're in charge we get less safe.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Via TPM Muckraker:
“I’m worried that too many people, both in politics and out, don’t appreciate the seriousness of the threat to American security and the evil of the enemy that faces us — more evil, or as evil, as Nazism and probably more dangerous than the Soviet Communists we fought during the long Cold War,” Mr. Lieberman said.

Okay, that's just bonkers. As Kos put it:
More evil than the guys who gassed 6 million Jews?

More dangerous than the guys who had thousands of nuclear warheads pointed at us and could've snuffed out all life on the planet at the press of a button?

Lieberman's pushed to the superdupercrazymost extreme an old conservative canard: that the War on Terrorism is The Greatest Threat America Has Ever Faced. It's become conventional wisdom to the point that people do double-takes when you dare to question it. It's also boneheadedly stupid when you think about it.

Really? The Greatest Threat Ever? Greater than when we fought Britain, back when the sun never set on its empire, and we were a pipsqueak country full of bumpkins constantly watching our left flank for the Indians? A greater threat than that posed by the tearing asunder of our country in the Civil War, where Americans slaughtered 365,000 of their brothers? A greater threat than WWII, where we fought 2 empires at the same time, one of whom had just finished conquering the entirety of Europe, and the other of whom had, among their other accomplishments, kicked the dogshit out of Russia and then China? A greater threat than the Soviet war machine and nuclear arsenal?

I'm not saying terrorism isn't a genuine threat, but c'mon, people. Take a step back and look again. We've survived worse (and without sacrificing our civil liberties, to boot). The only thing we really have to fear is losing all sense of perspective, and tossing the rule of law and the Bill of Rights because of it.

a competitive Republican entering the CN-Senate race?

From TPM Cafe:
If a genuinely credible GOP candidate enters the Connecticut Senate race, that could spell doom for Joe Lieberman, who needs some GOP votes if he's going to beat Democratic nominee Ned Lamont.

Well, it looks as if such a GOP candidate might in fact jump into the game: Jack Orchulli. A well-connected multi millionaire who ran statewide and lost against Senator Chris Dodd in 2004, Orchulli has just told The Politicker blog that he's been approached by state Republicans about replacing the current candidate, Alan Schlesinger, who has little hope of getting into the double digits. Orchulli says he'd "make himself available" to do the race.

Nope, sorry. This is far worse news than that.

Republicans ain't gonna turn out for Lieberman when there's an actual, competitive Republican in the race. And it ain't the Republicans whose vote is split by Lieberman: they're going to vote for Lieberman in the absence of an actual, competitive Republican.

This may be bad news for Joe, but it's just as bad, if not worse, for Lamont, and makes this a potential Republican pick-up opportunity. That's right, people, now Joe in his selfish, desperate clinging to his campaign, may actually hand his seat to the Republicans.

Which would all but guarantee the GOP keeping the Senate.

IN-02: "Hypo-Chris" Chocola should check his own tax records

Eyes and splinters and whatnot. From the South Bend Tribune (c/o Masson:
U.S. Rep. Chris Chocola's former company, CTB Inc., failed to pay its spring property taxes on time in 2000 and had to pay substantial penalties at the same time Chocola was serving as chairman of the company board.
Given Chocola's current ad campaign, the irony of the situation was not lost on Adams, a former Republican state legislator with a long political history of his own.

"You have to be really careful criticizing other people," Adams said.

Ac-Count-ing problems, Chocola? Was it a company that manufactured glass houses, or just non-issues?

Had enough of the hypocrisy? Support Joe Donnelly.

a word about campaign ads

Joe at AMERICAblog is right. The Spitzer campaign in New York makes some great ads. Check them out.

The question, though, is this: why aren't more campaigns hiring people like Spitzer's ad (wo)man? Or like Bill Hillsman, Ned Lamont's ad guy (the same guy who worked for the Jesse Ventura and Kinky Friedman campaigns)? Why are they sticking with the same tired losers who have been repackaging the same crap for years?

And as an aside, why does Spitzer even need these ads? He's up by, get this, 40 points. Does he even have an opponent anymore? He should this person out. I know we could use him here in IN-02!

Hank Hill goes to Congress

Xpatriated Texan at DailyKos points out a press release from the office of Congressman Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas):
The Senate is taking up the issue of border security this week. Unfortunately, late today, “temporary worker” provisions were inserted into what initially looked like a good bill. As readers of the Roundup may recall, I voted for and the House passed strong border security legislation last December that focuses on enforcement.

Xpat laments:
Oh, Randy! Your search for the perfect soundbite has finally led you in direct opposition to the needs of your district. See, all those farmers and ranchers in West Texas (you remember West Texas, Randy? It's where you're supposed to be from.) need temporary workers to work the fields. Apparently they were under the mistaken notion that you'd be willing to look out after their interests.

Being the product of a West Texas farming family, I can say that in West Texas they're referred to as "hired hands," and they are absolutely necessary for West Texas farms. They are generally looked down upon, but also very much needed, and they're all Mexican immigrants.

And my impression is that, as a general rule, they're illegal. And the farmers know damn well that they're illegal, but they need hired hands. Neugebauer can sit up on his high horse and talk about "enforcement of the law" all he wants, but farmers in Idalou and Floydada and Hale Center can't hire "enforcement" to get all their cotton picked. For Neugebauer to play politics with such an important issue for Texas farmers is to be almost criminally negligent toward the needs of his constituents.

And you may be asking, what gives with the title? Well, I imagine you know of Hank Hill from "King of the Hill":

Now just imagine him 20 years older and a million dollars richer, and what do you get?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Kinky Friedman says liberals are not "pro-America"

Why do people support this wanker? From his appearance on "Scarborough Country" (c/o TexasKAOS):
"I think the mood of the country is really, really independent. I mean, I think the winds of change are really blowing right now. And all the—the way I see Lieberman, he‘s very—he‘s pro-America, unashamedly, and he‘s pro-Israel. And these liberals are not."

But hey, at least he's not still pushing his 5 Mexican Generals plan to fix immigration. Hehe, 5 Mexican Generals, it's funny, get it? Because Mexicans are corrupt! (for more on the Kinkster's Buchanan-friendly immigration views, see here)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lamont wins the CN-Sen primary

So I'm sure you've all heard that Lieberman has lost his bid to be the Democratic nominee for the Senate in 2006. Great for Lamont, and for the populist uprising in the Democratic party.

Incumbents do not get a free pass. You have to earn your seat every single cycle, or we [the voters] will boot you out for someone who will.

I'm sure you've all also heard that Lieberman, not content to abide by the results of the primary, is going to file for a do-over in November. Apparently Connecticut Democrats are not smart enough to decide who's going to represent them.

Unfortunately, though Lieberman will suffer politically for this defeat, he still has a number of endorsements from popular Democrats to boast in his now-Independent run. I'll like to take this moment to send out an official "fuck you" to Bubba Clinton, Barbara Boxer, Joe "the Man Who Will Never Be President" Biden, and all the other jerkoff DC politicians who have now officially undermined the Democratic nominee in Connecticut. Sure, most of you said that, in the end, you'll support the nominee, but you've already endorsed Lieberman over Lamont. What are you gonna do now, say you were just kidding and that actually Lamont is the right guy?

And an even bigger "fuck you" to Chuck Schumer, who said he'll support Lieberman even as an independent. Guess what, Chucky? You're the head of the DSCC. It's your fucking job to support the Democratic Senatorial nominee Period.

In all honesty, I don't like the idea of Maxine Waters, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton campaigning against Lieberman, either. However, Lamont has said from the beginning that he would support the winner of the primary, so it's not like anyone would be using their pro-Lamont statements against Joe in the general. Nor does the Republican have a chance in Hell against either Democrat. So at least they're not actually sabotaging the Democratic nominee's chances of winning the seat.

What was these people's rationale for interfering in the race? Do they not realize that their statements can be used against the nominee if their candidate doesn't win?

Kos is right: the first thing Harry Reid should do now is strip Lieberman of his committee assignments. He's not a Democrat anymore (arguably he hasn't been acting like one for years), and it's the duty of Reid et al. to do everything they can to elect Democrats. And that means stripping Lieberman of his "but I can pull a lotta strings for Connecticut" meme.

Update: Schumer now says he will support Lamont. Good, that demotes his salute to the regular variety.

the Revolution starts now

Today's the day, the Connecticut primary between Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont. The netroots have thrown their full weight behind Lamont, and will undoubtedly face heaps of scorn no matter what happens: they'll be "inquisitors" purging all moderation from the Democratic party if Lamont wins, or ineffectual losers if Lieberman does.

Of course, both are already demonstrably false, but that's never been a factor in editorial writing before, eh?

Speaking of editorializing, the New York Daily News this morning broke with journalistic tradition, which says you can't publish election-affecting articles within 2 days of the election, and released a hit piece on Lamont this morning. Classy. I guess it's ok if you're backing the guy the right wing supports.

I personally am pretty nervous about the election. I really do want Lamont to win it, and I think it's important for the party that he win it. At the same time, I'm nervous about the vitriol that's sure to ensue either way. I'm nervous about the possibility of being wrong (seeing as I called this thing for Lamont a couple of days ago). It wouldn't be the first time by any stretch of the imagination, but still...

In a way though, I'm glad to be nervous, because it means that I believe in something. Too often, we as a society deride the "starry-eyed idealists," the people who dare to care, and revere snarkily apathetic types like Trey Parker and Matt Stone, or the writers of Wonkette. Reporters and editorialists try to maintain such a facade (though, of course, they tend to be quite ideological), pretending to stand above the fray, eyes half-closed and mouth contorted in the smirk that screams, "I'm witty, really!", trying to tap into that natural admiration people always felt for the rebellious kid with his feet up in the back row in high school (and what was he rebelling against? no one ever asked, no one ever even expected him to know. It was irrelevant).

Personally, I find such an attitude pathetic. Apathy is merely a defense mechanism, a way of avoiding scorn or failure for those too weak-kneed to endure it. It doesn't take any courage or intellectual acuity to stand back and poke holes in other people's candidates or ideas. Anyone can do that. It's standing up for something that's the hard part.

And on days like today, facing the possibility of defeat, it's hard to stand up and be counted among the believers. And yet, exhilerating.


Friday, August 04, 2006

Kay Bailey Hutchison: cynical liar

Sweet Jesus I hate Texas' senators. Examples are legion online about how John Cornyn is your classic Republican empty suit, but only slightly rarer and sicker are the occasional Hutchison gems.

After the minimum wage hike (cum poison pill estate tax cut + minimum wage gutting for tipped employees), Hutchison oh-so-melodramatically had this to say. See if you can count the lies in this whopper: "[W]e are turning our back on the middle-class and poor people in this country who depend on the minimum wage and death-tax relief."

I count 4 lies (including the term "death tax," which is itself misleading) and 1 ironic truth (relating to the term "we").

How many did you find?

Pat Robertson convinced of global warming

Wow. From Reuters:
NEW YORK - Conservative Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson said Thursday the wave of scorching temperatures across the United States has converted him into a believer in global warming.

“We really need to address the burning of fossil fuels,” Robertson said on his “700 Club” broadcast. “It is getting hotter, and the icecaps are melting and there is a buildup of carbon dioxide in the air.”

How much you wanna bet he just can't admit that he saw An Inconvenient Truth?

Matt Taibbi on the Connecticut primary

Here is a great article by Matt Taibbi (who is, by the way, a deliciously irreverent writer) on what Lieberman's problem is. Er, sorta. Really it's about what the Democratic Party's problem is, and it's very good.

Taibbi's vision of the problem (and a hint at the solution):
"Well, I've got grass-roots support that is perceived as a threat to the established order," [Lieberman's challenger, Ned Lamont] said. Then he scratched his head. "But it's weird. It's like there's a signal sent down from somewhere. The other day I was with this reporter from The New York Observer, and he was reading down a list of talking points: Why is it that bipartisanship can't exist in the party? Are you a pacifist? And so on. And I was like, 'Man, where is this coming from?' "

Of course it's fairly obvious where it's coming from. Even the most casual Democratic voters understand by now that there is a schism within the party, one that pits "party insiders" steeped in the inside-baseball muck of Washington money culture against . . . well, against us, the actual voters.

The insiders have for many years running now succeeded in convincing their voters that their actual beliefs are hopeless losers in the general electoral arena, and that certain compromises must be made if the party is ever to regain power.

This defeatist nonsense is sold to the public in the form of beady-eyed party hacks talking to one another in the opinion pages of national media conglomerates, where, after much verbose and solemn discussion, the earnest and idealistic candidate the public actually likes is dismissed on the grounds that "he can't win." In his place is trotted out the guy the party honchos insist to us is the real "winner"—some balding, bent little bureaucrat who has grown prematurely elderly before our very eyes over the course of ten or twenty years of sad, compromise-filled service in the House or the Senate.

This "winner" is then given a lavish parade and sent out there on the trail, and we hold our noses as he campaigns in our name on a platform of Jesus, the B-2 bomber and the death penalty for eleven-year-olds, consoling ourselves that he at least isn't in favor of repealing the Voting Rights Act. (Or is he? We have to check.) Then he loses to the Republicans anyway and we start all over again—beginning with the next primary election, when we are again told that the anti-war candidate "can't win" and that the smart bet is the corporate hunchback still wearing two black eyes from the last race.

I think it's worth noting that this more accurately reflects Taibbi's (and many people's) idea of what's been happening, than what's necessarily been happening. For instance, I found myself nodding along during that last part, yet I don't think we've had a real "third way" guy heading the Democratic ticket since, well, Clinton, and Carter before that. This is a backhanded complaint about the intraparty takedown of Howard Dean, which I don't think has many precedents (at least, not recent ones-- but then again, I dunno that candidate Dean has many recent precedents). And the only guy to run for Prez twice in my lifetime (at least, who actually became a party nominee) was Ronald Reagan.

What's important here is that Taibbi is noting how much of the blue electorate feels about their own party. That they don't listen to them. That they look down scornfully upon the masses to whom they owe their f$&king jobs. That they're unnecessarily concessive. That they're, as a whole, more conservative than the voters are (and certainly vastly more pro-business).

Why such a sentiment? Well, for one, it's probably true that Democratic candidates tend to be somewhat more conservative than their voters. A large percentage of Democratic voters, for instance, favor gay marriage, yet the only candidate willing to come out (no pun intended) in favor of it in 2004, to my knowledge, was Dennis Kucinich. Also, the majority of Democrats wanted out of Iraq at that time, but none of the frontrunners were even willing to entertain the possibility. Hell, Howard Dean supported NAFTA, and Lieberman was for school vouchers!

Also, I think people feel this way b/c the party anointing of the elite centrist really does happen frequently in the races further downticket. People frequently have to settle for squishy centrist Senate candidates, people like Bob Casey in PA. This year's actually quite rare in that a number of real progressives like Sherrod Brown, Jon Tester, and yes, Ned Lamont, are getting their shot at the seat.

The Democrats are taking their party back. It's a process that will take far longer than just this electoral cycle, but with Dean at the helm, hopefully we'll see real changes.

Beginning with a spine transplant.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Can the Dems take the Senate?

Here's a snippet from Kos where Scott Rasmussen (of the Rasmussen polls) discusses the Senate picture in November:
With all the usual cavaets about a long time until Election Day, it is now hard to see the Republicans picking up any Democratic Senate seats.

When we look at seats the Democrats hope to pick up, it becomes even more clear that the summer months have not been kind to Republicans. Early in the year, Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum was the only Republican clearly in trouble. Now he is joined by a growing list of vulnerable colleagues, four of whom trail their Democratic challenger (Burns in Montana, Chafee in Rhode Island, DeWine in Ohio, and Talent in Missouri).

5 seats leaves the Senate with 50 Republicans, 49 Democrats, and 1 Independent (Bernie Sanders, who may be the most strident liberal in the next Congress). One more seat flips the Senate.

It could happen: there are possibilities in Nevada (with Jimmy Carter's son, no less), in Virginia (Jim Webb vs. George Allen), Arizona (Pedersen vs. Kyl), and more distantly, Tennessee (Ford).

Remember, only 1 of these seats has to end with an upset.

we may get to watch him lose, after all...

In case anyone hasn't been keeping up, Texas Republicans have been trying to get Tom Delay off of the ballot in November b/c he will, in all likelihood, lose to Nick Lampson (he's already losing to him in the polls), thus handing a safe Republican seat to the Democrats and humiliating the GOP. Their excuse is that Delay has already moved to Virginia, and is thus ineligible to run.

Via TPM, we find out today that the courts have spoken. Tom Delay must remain on the ballot.


The much-anticipated final Q-poll of the Connecticut primary came out this morning, and the results are mind-blowing (trend lines from 7/20 in parentheses):
Lamont 54 (51)
Lieberman 41 (47)

A 13 point lead for Ned Lamont. I know Kos is still cautioning against calling this race over, but I can't help it. The primary is less than a week away.

This one is over.

If the Lamont campaign is still worried about a Lieberman upset through superior GOTV (which is, by the way, being conducted on the Lieberman side by the New Jersey College Republicans), all they need to do is show this clip over and over again.

It's footage of Tom Delay expressing his support for Joe Lieberman.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

so many questions

From The Washington Post (via AMERICAblog):
A draft Bush administration plan for special military courts seeks to expand the reach and authority of such "commissions" to include trials, for the first time, of people who are not members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban and are not directly involved in acts of international terrorism, according to officials familiar with the proposal.

The plan, which would replace a military trial system ruled illegal by the Supreme Court in June, would also allow the secretary of defense to add crimes at will to those under the military court's jurisdiction. The two provisions would be likely to put more individuals than previously expected before military juries, officials and independent experts said.

Under the proposed procedures, defendants would lack rights to confront accusers, exclude hearsay accusations, or bar evidence obtained through rough or coercive interrogations. They would not be guaranteed a public or speedy trial and would lack the right to choose their military counsel, who in turn would not be guaranteed equal access to evidence held by prosecutors.

Detainees would also not be guaranteed the right to be present at their own trials
, if their absence is deemed necessary to protect national security or individuals. (emphasis mine)

John Aravosis rightly asks whether journalists would find themselves on the wrong side of this legislation. My question is, do you really want to live in a country where anyone can be faced with this kind of treatment?

And exactly what people and what kind of crimes would be commuted to military tribunals? They would probably spell it out if the American people were likely to support it. If they're not involved in terrorist organizations, and they're not directly involved in terror plots, what the hell business could they possibly have in military tribunals instead of the regular criminal courts?

Which brings to the the biggest question of all: how again is this not unconstitutional?

This segs with another question I asked recently: what the hell do Republicans have against our own justice system? In what way is it inadequate or untrustworthy for handling terrorists or POWs or "enemy combatants?" Our system may not be perfect, but it works. It's worked for 200 years. It was good enough for Timothy McVeigh and Jeffrey Dahmer and John Muhammad (the sniper from 2 years ago). Why wouldn't it be able to handle these clowns?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

the hidden evils of flame retardant kids' pj's?

Where do they find these people? Via Josh Marshall, we find out that the nominee to be the new OMB regulation czar positively froths at the idea of the government making sure kids' pajamas are safe:
From the moment we wake up in the morning -- flushing the toilet twice, courtesy of the Department of Energy's appliance standards -- to the time we put our children in their Consumer Product Safety Commission-approved pajamas, regulations not only increase the cost of goods and services we buy, but also the choices we can make.
And to think, the extra cost of creating nonflammable pj's comes out of our pockets! O Liberty, whither hast thou fled!

I think she's gonna fit in the oil-lobbyist-turned-EPA-head just fine.