The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

SocSec Silence is Golden for Dems

Good news for Democrats always puts a smile on my face these days. The latest pro-privatization ad by the fine folks who brought you the notorious and moronic "AARP: pro-gay, anti-military" ad have unveiled their latest. Called 'Tick-Tock,' it features a close-up of a ticking stopwatch while attacking Dems for having no Social Security plan. And it's another strikeout, according to this piece by Noam Scheiber over at TNR:

"In these sessions we showed the 30 swing voters the new ad by Progress for America ("Tick Tock") that attacks Democrats in Congress for failing to put forward a Social Security plan. The response was strong and nearly unanimous: voters hate this ad and find it completely unpersuasive."

Although many Dems have, in fact, made proposals that would keep Social Security solvent for a very long time (and remarkably, the public seems to be aware of some of them), the viewers of the ad were of the opinion that there isn't any need for Dems to be making proposals at this point.

Recommended reading for its ability to put a smile on your face. And improve your faith in the American public.

Yet another trip to the Potemkin Village

The blogs are paying a lot of attention to this story from Colorado. It's hardly surprising, and it's just the sort of thing that Bush has been doing for all along-- screening the crowd and booting out potential dissenters. In the latest incident, three people were thrown out for having a bumper sticker on their car that read "No Blood for Oil."

Maybe it's the fact that these are taxpayer-funded events. Maybe it's the new twist of Republican operatives disguised(?) as Secret Service agents. Or maybe it's the fact that people are actually reporting on the incident.

John Danforth Rocks the House

My fellow Missourian John Danforth has written a great op-ed piece for the NY Times, and nothing makes me happier than being able to applaud a Republican these days. It's not like I enjoy calling them fascists, but that a reasonable voice of conservatism so rarely emerges these days.

"I do not fault religious people for political action. Since Moses confronted the pharaoh, faithful people have heard God's call to political involvement. Nor has political action been unique to conservative Christians. Religious liberals have been politically active in support of gay rights and against nuclear weapons and the death penalty. In America, everyone has the right to try to influence political issues, regardless of his religious motivations.

The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active. It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement."

(Thanks to Nancy Nurse for this story)

I have my disagreements with Danforth's stances, but I also have tremendous respect for him as a man of principle and integrity.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Please let this be the last post...

On this terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad story. But the blogs are all reporting this one, so I'm going to pass it on. This might be the most ghoulish twist on the affair yet, and that's saying a lot.

Guess who the latest interested party is to cash in on the tragedy of Terri Schiavo. The husband, who's been accused of abuse and conspiracy to commit murder in recent days, after caring for her for fifteen years? Nope. The 'radical activist' judge Greer, who has been forced to leave the Southern Baptist church, in spite of being a lifelong Christian... and Republican? 'Fraid not.

Read on, and tremble (from the NYT):

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

Yes, some 10,000 individuals who expressed their compassion for Terri Schiavo are now a commodity to be bought and sold by the neo-fascists. This new "Culture of Life" sure is grand. Maybe it should be called a "Cult of the Good Life." Like it or not, Republicans, these are the people holding the reins of your party. The big question is, are you just going to sit there and take it?

Dept. of Pots and Kettles

I was surprised and very disappointed to hear about Jesse Jackson's decision to jump in the center ring of the Schiavo circus. His embarrassing interview with drama queen Michael Jackson-- in which (Michael) Jackson invoked the name of Nelson Mandela-- played like an opportunistic, race-baiting move by a man who has long since lost the attention of the political spotlight.

Appearing at the Florida hospice in a limo pretty much cements the deal, by playing like an opportunistic, religious-baiting move by a washed-up celebrity trying to make a comeback. Shame on you, Jesse Jackson.

A more cynical assesssment of Jackson's shenanigans: he's "pulled a Lieberman" by giving right-wing pundits an actual example of a Democrat they can bash on this affair. Up until now, they were reduced to sheepishly suggesting that "both sides are going too far."* Now they have a way to get the spotlight off DeLay, Falwell, Frist, Terry, and other opportunistic Republicans-- an opportunistic Democrat just jumped on board. Way to go, sport.
WaPo story above.

* Bill O'Reilly was put on the spot by no less than a priest who appeared on his show. O'Reilly was trying to make this claim, but the priest had him dead to rights. (video) It's nice to see that lying windbag trying to sell a priest a bill of goods... Now that's shameful. 4-meg download.

That other gay Republican prositute.

Here's something you don't see here every day. Or year. A link to Drudge.

Here's the story-- you might remember the Cheney family's outrage (not to mention every right-wing pundit with access to a microphone) that John Kerry would dare-- would dare!-- to invade daughter Mary's privacy and mention her sexuality.

At least, without paying her first. Apparently she's more than happy to discuss it with the nation for a cool $500,000. Oh, and she has a history of charging $500 a pop for having her picture taken with gay Republicans at fundraisers.

It's been a massive week for GOP hypocrisy, and that's the focus of the blogs that I monitor. So that's what I'm writing about. I foresee a move back to issues soon....

You can put away the tinfoil now

Back when Fahernheit 9/11 came out (prior to the Dems' hopeful re-emergence as scrappy fighters), it was quite the trend to defer to right-wing pundits who decried the film as a pack of lies. Those on the left were tripping over themselves to get some distance fromMoore.

I watched the spectacle with an open mind-- I tried to find specific charges against Moore. It was surprisingly difficult to find any, but the most prevalent was his story about the government helping to fly Saudis (including relatives of Bin Laden) out of the country when all flights had been grounded. All right, I thought. Maybe he overstated his case. Maybe he took some license with the facts.

Now check out the AFP story above. It looks like Moore was not only correct, but understated what had happened (according to the FBI, no less). I won't be holding my breath while I wait to hear some apologies.

An excerpt:

"The New York Times reported that the documents show Federal Bureau of Investigation agents gave personal airport escorts to two prominent Saudi families who fled the United States, while several other Saudis were allowed to leave the country without first being interviewed, citing newly-released US government records."

Monday, March 28, 2005

Hypocrisy: the bitter pill

It really feels unplesant to come across information like this. You might've heard about the incident where a ten-year old boy was arrested for trying to cross the Schiavo protest lines with a bottle of water. What a dramatic statement. Just the sort of thing that gets right-wing activists all fired up about "jack-booted thugs." He's become something of a poster boy for Fox News, naturally. Never mind the fact that, had the kid succeeded in his mission, Schiavo would have drowned. She's incapable of swallowing.

But, as usual, it turns out that the story isn't that simple. No, it's much uglier. The boy, Joshua Heldreth, is the son of one Scott Heldreth. And while Heldreth the elder might be a proud crusader these days, he doesn't have the sort of history you expect from right-wing Christian activists. Or maybe he does, and that's the problem.

How did Scott Heldreth come to join the front lines of reactionary fundamentalism? He had a conversion while in prison, doing time for two counts of raping a minor. And now he's a follower of Randall Terry, supporter of Schiavo's "right to life" and founder of anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, whose members have (among other things) stolen fetuses from abortion clinics in order to hurl them at clients, and killed a doctor who performs abortions.

Yep, these are your "culture of life" warriors, and Bush's most ardent supporters (aside from robber barons like Ken Lay, that is). How about this moniker: The Coalition of the Chilling.

The quote doctor is: IN

Now this is more like it. Here's what it looks like when the GOP employ their usual strategy of lies and spin....

Here's a sample from an RNC website:

More Americans Support Call To Strengthen Social Security

Clif Smith, A Retiree From Joplin: “I Believe [Social Security] Needs Improved [Sic].” (Jeff Wells, “SS: Privatize Or Leave Alone?” Joplin Globe, 3/24/05)

“[Kimberly] Holloway Sees Advantages In Personal Accounts In That It Would Encourage More Savings And Financial Responsibility …” (Tom Morton, “What’s A Mother To Do?” Capser [WY] Star Tribune, 3/24/05)

Scott Savelkol, Recent Graduate From Dickinson State University: “Doing Nothing Is Not An Option.” (Dave Kolpack, “Social Security Overhaul Discussed At Hearing In Fargo,” The Associated Press, 3/23/05)

Wow. Sounds like privatization is really popular with everyday Americans. Unless you bother to look at the original articles cited. Come to think of it, why did they cite these articles?

Check out the link above to a Think Progress story, and prepare to be amazed at what these three people actually said about privatization. Here's a hint: they all oppose Bush's plan.

BONUS: Just for fun, let's have a little lesson on doctoring quotes. You see, if someone wanted to, they might be able to make a headline like this:

Sandwich calls Bush great world leader

Naturally, it would only mean that I had made a statement like this: "If you define a great world leader as an incoherent and incompetent alcoholic who steers his country toward fiscal ruin, makes enemies of traditional allies, supports corrupt dictatorships, impoverishes hundreds of thousands, doesn't create any new jobs, starts arbitrary wars and regularly lies to his fellow citizens, then I guess Bush is a great world leader."

See how easy and fun it can be? Now try making your own at home!

When righties tell the truth....

Not too long ago, the blogs were abuzz with Senator Rick "Spreading" Santorum's pro-privatization rallies. Not because anyone was surprised to see him shilling for the prez, but because a few boosters deviated from acceptable GOP talking points on the issue. We had a group of college Republicans chanting "Hey hey-- ho ho-- Social Security has got to go." We had an audience member ask "what problem everybody has taking care of themselves." See, when your actual goal is the destruction of a successful and hugely popular program, it doesn't pay to talk straight. You want to stick to code words like "ownership society."

Now a creationist has come along and explained why the school board of Dover, Pennsylvania, and "an organization of Christian lawyers" are fighting science in the classroom. Here it is, in the words of pastor Ray Mummert:

"Christians are a lot more bold under Bush's leadership, he speaks what a lot of us believe," said Mummert.

"We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture," he said, adding that the school board's declaration is just a first step.

Uh oh, I actually agree with a creationist. These are strange times, indeed...

Harvard goes all right-wing on us

This is really beyond belief. I've been a little behind working my way through last week's New Republic. The cover story was a point-counterpoint on Social Security. Shilling for Bush's "plan" is Harvard economics professor N. Gregory Mankiw. Here's the opening, which had my eyeballs sproinging out of my skull:

"Harvard University is, by some measures, one of the most left-wing institutions on the face of the earth. So you may be surprised to hear that it has endorsed George W. Bush's proposal for Social Security reform. Literally, of course, that is not true. But the retirement plan Harvard has set up for faculty members like me bears a striking resemblance to what the Social Security system would become under the president's proposed changes.
Harvard's retirement plan is essentially the nonprofit sector's version of a 401(k). Each year, the university puts a certain percentage of my income into my retirement account. I then invest this money. . . "

This is just the first fragment of the article, but it already contains so much misinformation and spin that you'd think the guy was the chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers. Oops-- he was the chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers.

Bogus Argument 1: Academia is a radical socialists-only club

If Harvard's faculty includes players in the most right-wing administration of the last century, exactly what "measures" make Harvard so left-wing? The conservative-leaning president, Lawrence Summers? Harvard isn't even considered the most left-wing of the Ivy League. Not by a longshot. But by "some measures," which are conveniently left unexplained by Bush crony Mankiw, it stands right next to Fidel Castro's government.

Bogus Argument 2: Liberals are hypocritical elitists

Isn't nice how he indicts "left-wing" professors as secretly loving Bush's privatization plan? (Incidentally, the word 'privatization' doesn't appear once in this article-- good to know he's still sticking to the talking points.) What Mankiw fails to point out, of course, is that Harvard's program is private. Professors aren't exempt from Social Security laws-- the University is offering something above and beyond. And at no time has Bush proposed supplementing Social Security payouts in any way.

In fact, Daniel Patrick Moynihan suggested a little something called "Social Security Plus," which would enable people to add to their retirement income with voluntary contributions. What Bush is suggesting is taking on some ten trillion dollars in debt-- while refusing to raise taxes-- to reduce Social Security payouts, whether by lowering benefits or raising the retirement age. And he acknowledges that after incurring all that debt, his system would lose money. In other words, Harvard's plan looks nothing at all like Bush's plan, and if a private business did adopt a Bush economic plan, they'd be called Enron.

You'd think a Harvard economist would know the difference between a federal program and a business' private employee retirement plan. Of course Mankiw knows the difference-- he's just hoping that it doesn't occur to you...

(The article isn't available at TNR's website, so no link. It starts on page 16 of the March 21 issue.)

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Salazar: Let's Get Busy!

It sounds like Colorado freshman senator Ken Salazar, who's been making headlines since winning in a red state primarily for going against the Democrats' positions, is ready to join the ranks of the fighting Dems. Let's hope it keeps up. From the Washington Times:

"Sen. Ken Salazar has backed off the position he took during his campaign last year that Democrats should not filibuster President Bush's judicial nominees. Republicans had been counting on Mr. Salazar, a Democrat from Colorado, as a key vote against the filibusters. His defection is a serious blow to the hopes of Senate Republicans who wanted more bipartisan weight behind their "nuclear option" to dislodge filibusters. "

Keep your fingers crossed. It's amazing that Democratic boosters like myself have been reduced to applauding our fellows for simply refusing to roll over and play dead. But it's better than nothing. Now that the GOP is taking a pounding over Schiavo and Social Security, the time is right to start piling on.

More evil from DeLay

Gee, who would've guessed that Tom DeLay, public advocate number one for Mrs. Schiavo's "right to life" has some personal experience with this issue. And came down on the other side. So when he claims that Schiavo was a "gift from God to the Republican party," you can be pretty sure he isn't talking about morals. From the LA Times:

"More than 16 years ago, far from the political passions that have defined the Schiavo controversy, the DeLay family endured its own wrenching end-of-life crisis. The man in a coma, kept alive by intravenous lines and a ventilator, was DeLay's father, Charles Ray DeLay. . .

. . .And [DeLay] is among the strongest advocates of keeping the woman, who doctors say has been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years, connected to her feeding tube. DeLay has denounced Schiavo's husband, as well as judges, for committing what he calls "an act of barbarism" in removing the tube.

In 1988, however, there was no such fiery rhetoric as the congressman quietly joined the sad family consensus to let his father die."

Friday, March 25, 2005

Hoo boy...

Here's a story from the New York Times that rather nicely encapsulates the GOP's current ability to motivate certain segments of the population (link to full story above):

SEMINOLE, Fla. (AP) -- A man was arrested after trying to steal a weapon from a gun shop so he could "take some action and rescue Terri Schiavo,'' authorities said.

Michael W. Mitchell, of Rockford, Ill., entered Randall's Firearms Inc. in Seminole just before 6 p.m. Thursday with a box cutter and tried to steal a gun, said Marianne Pasha, a spokeswoman for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Mitchell, 50, told deputies he wanted to ``take some action and rescue Terri Schiavo'' after he visited the Pinellas Park hospice where she lives, Pasha said.

I wonder how long I'll have to wait to hear someone say, "I wanted to take some action and prevent $15 billion in budget cuts from Medicare." You may well already know this, but Terry Schiavo has been receiving Medicare payments for quite some time now. Quick question: do you think that the GOP would have been crying out for her right to life if her parents were protesting Medicare funding cuts? Of course not. Here's another softball question: Have you heard any Republicans speaking out against Medicare cuts during their "culture of life" crusade? Of course not.

Florida Repubs: NO to totalitarian dictators, YES to fascism.

Somebody please remind me how we got to this state in the land of the free... Florida state representatives have voted along party lines for the "Academic Freedom Bill of Rights," which means (in the grand GOP tradition) that academics will no longer be able to enjoy academic freedom.

Is it enough for the GOP to control all three branches of government? Hell, no! They're sticking to their victim mentality and fascistic ideals by trying to legislate the speech of college professors. How? By guaranteeing the right to employ trial lawyers (you know, the guys the GOP hates so much) to file multi-million dollar suits against professors who express their personal views. And in classic "deep pockets" reasoning, the wealthy universities who dare to hire professors with whom any individual student may disagree.

In a week filled with Republican hypocrisy over the sanctity of marriage, it's nice to be able to write about an aspect of Republican hypocrisy that fills me with outrage rather than revulsion...

Required reading.

White House withholds transcripts from Cheney's speeches

First time I've seen this blog, but it's an excellent story. I've pulled quotes from the White House's official website many a time-- so you know that they haven't always held back when W was looking like a dumbass. But for Cheney's latest appearances to tout privatization, they have held back. The reason could be that crowds aren't as reliably suppliant without Fearless Leader on stage. Somewhat recommended reading, but not exactly a bombshell.

Gulp. GOP may win on Schiavo issue?

Noam Scheiber makes an interesting (and frightening) point on his New Republic blog. I'm going to reprint a big part of it here, and I have a bad feeling that he's right. I also think it undermines TNR's recent spate of arguments in favor of Democrats moving to the right-- after all, the public agrees with Dems on pretty much everything. But we keep losing, in spite of the fact that Dems have played Mr. Nice Guy for the last four years. We need to be articulating our positions, not acting like they aren't really our positions. Anyway, here's (part of) Scheiber's post:

I think Democrats face a similar risk with respect to Schiavo. Since the 1960s, the party has tended to take a libertarian position on social issues like abortion and the right to die. As with the U.N. and alliances, polls show that these are overwhelmingly popular positions. Large majorities agree that the government should stay out of people's personal decisions even in socially conservative regions like the South. My concern is that, despite the public support for these individual positions, embracing them tends to reinforce deeper suspicions people have about Democrats--namely, that they're a bunch of moral relativists who can't be trusted to do what's right. (Obviously Republicans got a lot of mileage out of this caricature this last election.) The right is already beginning to frame the Schiavo episode that way (apologies to George Lakoff). Here, for example, is how a spokesman for the conservative group Concerned Women for America put it in today's Washington Post:

"It was necessary and very touching to see [Bush] was willing to go to those lengths [i.e., fly back from Crawford] to help this abused woman. ... This is an issue of right and wrong, and what President Bush has done is come down on the side of right, which is to protect life."
Republicans aren't stupid. They've built their majority by losing individual battles that help them win broader political wars. I hope this issue will turn out differenly, but so far I've seen nothing to convince me that's the case.

Dignity, Honesty, Compassion.

Just a few of the things missing from the right-wing's latest religious crusade. As usual, The Daily Show does a great job of pointing out their shameless hypocrisy.


This is a very large file-- 14 megs. You've been warned. But it's got a heck of a lot of shock value, courtesy of (who else?) Fox News. To lend another insightful perspective, they invited a TV psychic on the air. Seriously. Fox News brought in a TV psychic. To comment on a legal case. On the other hand, this particular "psychic" has made a career of offering false hope to the bereaved, so maybe they've got a point.

Now that no one's paying attention....

I was stunned during last year's presidential debate to hear Bush derisively dismiss Kerry's observation that he had said he wasn't worried about Osama bin Laden's whereabouts. "Sounds like one'a them... hehhehheh... exaggerations." Never mind that it was true. And that wasn't the only time Bush lied about his administration's bungling of the Afghanistan operation. From Salon:

Remember when George W. Bush railed against John Kerry for suggesting that the administration missed a chance to catch Osama bin Laden in Tora Bora? At a campaign stop in Greeley, Colo., in October, Bush said: "Now my opponent is throwing out the wild claim that he knows where bin Laden was in the fall of 2001 -- and that our military had a chance to get him in Tora Bora. This is an unjustified and harsh criticism of our military commanders in the field. This is the worst kind of Monday-morning quarterbacking." It turns out that Kerry may have been right. As the Associated Press reports, the Pentagon has now made what appears to be a "definitive statement" that bin Laden was at Tora Bora and evaded capture by U.S. troops there.

Of course, Salon should point out that the administration didn't use US troops at Tora Bora-- they "outsourced" the job to Afghani warlords.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Welcome to Flippity-Floppity Land

Man, this is tiresome. The sort of nonsense that makes you wonder why you bother to fight. Here's what stalwart movement conservatives have had to say about the Schiavo case (which I'm still really, really disgusted by even having to address). No, you won't hear a peep about the following hypocrisy on network or cable news. No, it won't make a damn bit of difference in how Americans view the issue. Yes, it demonstrates the GOP's willingness to do whatever it takes to remain in power. And yes, it proves once again that Republicans don't give a damn about conservative values. While you're reading it, just think about accusations of John Kerry being a "flip-flopper."

Bill Frist: The notorious Republican senator who has a degree from Harvard's medical school, yet insinuated that AIDS could be transmitted through tears and sweat-- although there isn't a single case on record of that happening.

Frist on Schiavo: "I'm proud of today's Senate passage of the Terry Schiavo Bill. As a doctor and a Senator, I believe that Congress must do everything in its power to ensure that any life and death decision is based on a sound medical diagnosis of Terri's condition. There is no more sacred virtue in our society than the need to preserve and protect human life. To knowingly and purposely starve Ms. Schiavo to death would be callous, cruel and immoral. I am hopeful that the House will consider and pass this legislation quickly." (March, 2005) Nice transition between favoring a 'sound medical diagnosis' and determining that letting her die in peace is 'callous, cruel and immoral,' don't you think?

Frist on politicizing the injured: "I find it opportunistic to use the death of someone like Christopher Reeve -- I think it is shameful -- in order to mislead the American people. . . We should be offering people hope, but neither physicians, scientists, public servants or trial lawyers like [then vice-presidential candidate] John Edwards should be offering hype. It is cruel to people who have disabilities and chronic diseases, and, on top of that, it's dishonest. It's giving false hope to people, and I can tell you as a physician who's treated scores of thousands of patients that you don't give them false hope." (Oct. 2004) Man, what a disgrace to see a politician make a supportive statement about a guy who wasn't brain-damaged and worked as an advocate for stem cell research.

Frist on-- wha?!?!: Near the end [of his 1989 book 'Transplant'], for example, Frist suggests changing the legal definition of 'brain death' to include anencephalic babies, who are born with a fatal neurological disorder but show just the slightest hint of brain-stem activity. Such a change would make it possible to harvest their organs for transplant--something the Catholic Church and pro-life groups oppose. (book pub. 1989) Whoa! Suddenly it sounds like he's promoting some sort of evil government organ-harvesting farm!

Pat Buchanan: I think we're all familiar with his brand of xenophobia, and his reliable street cred as a Republican hack and punditocracy attack dog.

On Schiavo: "What George Bush ought to do right now is send federal marshals in and pick up Terri Schiavo and put that ... food and hydration tube back into her." (March 23, 2000) Well, I suppose that when it comes to human rights, we have to look to the government to take action...

On Elian Gonzales: "[Clinton's decision to use federal law enforcement officials to take custody of Gonzales was] a police-state tactic one associates with a Communist tyranny, not the United States." (April 23, 2000) Dammit! When are those jack-booted thugs going to stop dictating our lives by taking our decisions out of our hands?

Note: I'm borrowing the quotes from several sources (notably Media Matters and Eschaton), and since I'm still feeling under the weather, I don't have the energy to source them all with hyperlinks-- although I've decided that they're credible. If any of them prove to be inaccurate, I'll correct this story.

Olbermann on Schiavo

I think this is the first time I've linked to the MSNBC host's blog, but he has an excellent piece on the matter-- and I'm sick of writing about all this tasteless demagoguery.

John McCain: Meeeeooowww!

That's right, the Republican that liberals love the most has embraced the neo-fascist agenda. McCain has stated that he won't investigate any of the Republican Congressmen involved in the (highly successful) conspiracy to bilk Native American reservations out of tens of millions of dollars.

And just this week he could be heard stumping for Bush's plan to destroy Social Security. Even worse, he was citing phony statistics. Here's the breakdown. The Social Security Trustees, including several Bush allies) have stated that the trust fund will pay out full benefits until 2042. After that, the program will be able to pay out 70% of benefits from incoming FICA taxes. McCain's line was that Social Security would "stop paying benefits" by that date. Simply put, a lie.

My guess is that McCain is digging his own grave. Bush has already stabbed him in the back once (with his operatives telling North Carolina primary voters that McCain had "fathered an illegitimate black daughter," when he had actually adopted a Bangladeshi child), he's been persona non grata in his own party for years-- and just like the DLC Dems, he thinks the best strategy is to roll over and show them his belly. Just like the DLC Dems, he'll be betrayed every time.

Capitalizing on Tragedy, Part III

The posts have been sporadic this week for a couple of reasons. First, I've come down with whatever bug is making the rounds of Boston these days. Sort of a bronchial, flu-like thing. Second, if I weren't already sick, the fact that the Shiavo affair is still at the top of the blogs and the mainstream media would have made me sick.

It's sad to see the media adopting their usual tabloid tactics and love of gossip over actual news. It's loathsome listening to bastards like Tom DeLay refer to the poor woman as "a gift from God to the Republican party." (You can hear it for yourself at the link above.)

Naturally, and unsurprisingly, poll after poll shows the same results-- about 80% of Americans think that Congress shouldn't be involved. About 70% of Americans think that the entire episode is nothing more than Republican attempts to make political hay out of one family's problems. Also unsurprising is the fact that every right-wing pundit is decrying every single poll as a fraud.

What's becoming apparent, though, is that the GOP has decided to use this circus to sell their latest bit of fascism. Listen to any rightie chiming in on the issue, and you'll hear the following phrase: activist judges. Naturally, W has been using this phrase since 2000. And his idea of non-activist judges is to replace qualified jurists with like-minded hacks who have no problem with subverting the Constitution if it favors the wealthy.

So what this is going to play out as is an attempt by the Republicans to convince Americans that the nation's judges are foam-mouthed radicals. Never mind that the Supreme Court has declined to hear the case three times now-- and that seven of the justices are Republican appointees.

Court after court has decided that the decision is best left up to the husband. More than a half-dozen neurologists who have examined Shiavo agree that she will never recover. It's been adjudicated something like twenty times now, always with the same result. No controversy there. The controversy had to be manufactured by the GOP to sell their otherwise extremely unpopular agenda to the public. Fox has been doing their part by giving plenty of airtime to a physician "nominated for a Nobel Prize" who claims he could cure Shiavo. Typically, he was "nominated" by a Republican congressman who isn't qualified to nominate candidates.

It looks like it isn't going to work this time, but if there's one lesson I've learned over the last five years, it's that you can't underestimate the ruthlessness of the neo-fascists. But if they go so far as to deny the will of 80% of Americans-- and get away with it-- we will have entered a dangerous new era.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Time for a math lesson!

Now, now, don't grumble. It's really a valuable lesson on how to manipulate facts in order to create fiction. And it's so blatant-- so patently absurd-- that a 10-year old could figure it out. But, ostensibly, not a Republican.

A CNN/USA/Gallup poll determined the percentage of people who approved of the Schiavo case as it turned out:

Dem: 62
Rep: 54
Ind: 54

Not all that much of a difference, right? Looks like Americans are pretty much on the same page here. But CNN managed to graph this data to make it appear that eight times as many Democrats as Republicans/Independents held this view!

Follow the link above to see how they employ this classic bit of hucksterism.

Capitalizing on Tragedy, Part II

There are a couple of issues regarding the Schiavo case that particularly worry me. The NYT op-ed above (thanks, NJ) points out the willingness of Republicans to subvert the law and even flaunt the Constitution if it means short-term political gain. Not to mention forsaking their "core value" of less government intervention in people's private lives.

Judging from polls, however, some 70-80% of Americans think they should have kept out of the affair and minded their own damn business-- instead of setting up the big top and bringing in the usual clowns of right-wing pundrity to complete the circus.

Which brings us to the Democrats caving in on this vote. They must've regarded opposition as political suicide, judging from the only 50-odd House Democrats who voted against the legislation. And in doing so, missed another chance to demonstrate that Democrats are the party who share the views of America. This probably isn't the sort of vote that would come back to haunt a Dem like supporting the bankruptcy bill, or helping Bush take the first steps toward dismantling Social Security, but I think it qualifies as evidence that the Dems need to keep fighting against a Republican party that shows no sign of turning away from neo-fascism.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Capitalizing on Tragedy

I haven't written anything on the Schiavo matter to date. That's because, like many in the liberal blogosphere, I'm so disgusted with the way the GOP is trying to use the family's tragedy to earn some more of their beloved "political capital." Think I'm being a litte harsh? Then consider this excerpt from a memo reported by ABC and the Washington Post (story linked to above) as having circulated among Republican senators:

"This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue. . . This is a great political issue, because Senator Nelson of Florida has already refused to become a cosponsor and this is a tough issue for Democrats."

In other words, let's put on the biggest political circus we can-- it'll be a great way to hoodwink the public. On the other hand, getting the long-suffering Schiavo family media coverage typically reserved only for the likes of a Michael Jackson or Martha Stewart might finally turn a light on the shameless, immoral politics of the neo-fascists.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Comedy Sandwich

Whew. What a week in news that was. Italy leaves the coalition, two nutjobs are given a chance to alienate the rest of the world, and revelations of hundreds of millions of dollars being used to produce White House propaganda. I could use a laugh after all of that.

And here it is: Spamusement!

"Poorly-drawn cartoons inspired by actual spam subject lines!"


Friday, March 18, 2005

The Running Man

General Wesley Clark appears to be gearing up for a presidential run in 2008. He has a new blog going (link above) that hypes his national security bona fides right there in its title. It's interesting that several would-be-president Dems are employing "webroot" initiatives as their first offensive. And at the same time-- in the case of Clark, at least-- employing DLC tactics of appealing to independent security hawks.

There were questions about Clark's standing in the military last year, but I can't find much fault with his stance on the issues. From what I see, Clark is a staunch defender of the founding fathers' Enlightenment values. And it's tough to argue with his credentials on national security. I'd trust a career military man on the issue before a failed oil man anyday, and I suspect that much of America would agree.

It's way too early to be prognosticating on the 2008 race, which is why I haven't even mentioned it here, but I think Clark could be a glorious representative of the Democratic party. Republican friends of mine are inclined to agree....

More to come on this issue.

The Wolfowitz enigma

I surprise myself by my ability to keep being surprised at this administration's decisions. Within a week of appointing a UN hater as America's ambassador to the UN, Bush has decided to nominate the third world's public enemy #1 as the guardian of the third world.

Paul Wolfowitz, most frequently referred to in press bios as "one of the chief architects of the Iraq War," has made such brilliant predictions as the American troops being greeted with candy and flowers, a statue to Bush being erected in Baghdad by grateful Iraqis, and the not-so-accurate notion that the war would cost America $1 billion at the most. On the other hand, he was only off by $199,000,000,000. So far.

Which brings me to this clip from The Daily Show: Video

It really is a shame that we need to turn to a comedy show for stories that should make headline news around the nation. But that's how things stand.

NOTE: The link is not for people with dial-up connections. It's an 8-meg download. If you can't access it, I'll sum it up for you: Wolfowitz= lying crook.


The president of the United States, speaking on March 16:

THE PRESIDENT: "Well, actually I called Silvio Berlusconi on another matter, which may or may not come up during this press conference. It's -- I'll give you a hint. I called him about the World Bank, and -- (laughter) -- and discussed my nominee, and -- but he brought up the issue of Italian troops in Iraq and said, first of all, he wanted me to know that there was no change in his policy, that, in fact, any withdrawals would be done in consultation with allies and would be done depending upon the ability of Iraqis to defend themselves. And I said, are you sure I can say this to the press corps that will be wanting to know what took place in our conversation? He said, absolutely."


What Berlusconi actually said on March 15 (link above):

ROME (Reuters) - Leading U.S. ally Italy said on Tuesday it would start withdrawing its soldiers from Iraq in September, in a fresh blow to President Bush's shrinking coalition.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, one of Bush's most vocal supporters, said he was in talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair about a total exit strategy from Iraq, adding people in both countries wanted their troops to return home.

"We will begin to reduce our contingent even before the end of the year, starting in September, in agreement with our allies," said Berlusconi, who faces an election next year and went against public opinion to deploy troops in Iraq.

Does this qualify as an actual lie? After all, Bush didn't say that Italy hadn't changed its policy since last week. And I guess you could argue that withdrawal of Italian troops "would be done in consultation with [their] allies." As long as that means the Italian government will be letting us know the date when their troops leave Iraq.

Tell me again--how does the prez keep getting away with this sort of dishonesty?

A Propagandist's Life for Me!

I've referred to Bush's public appearances as choreographed, Mao-esque photo-ops more than once. Americans should be worried when the president's handlers start denying certain citizens a voice. Americans should be very, very worried when an entire political party decides that open debate is verboten.

From USA Today:

"This month, Republican leaders say they are chucking the open town-hall format. They plan to visit newspaper editorial boards and talk to constituents at Rotary Club lunches, senior citizen centers, chambers of commerce meetings [sic] and local businesses. In those settings, "there isn't an opportunity for it to disintegrate into something that's less desirable," says Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference."

I think that comment by Rick "Spreading" Santorum sums it up nicely. If the deck isn't stacked in our favor, we're taking the ball and going home. (Apologies for the mixed metaphor.)

The Fools' Pope

The more Bush pushes for privatization, the less the American public likes the idea. Something like 29% of Americans think it's a good idea.

So how do you explain articles like this one from Time? It portrays Bush's roadshow as a down-home, folksy good time. Never mind that the audiences are carefully screened, questions are pre-scripted, and anyone who voices dissent is immediately whisked away by the Secret Service...

Here's an example:

"[Bush] delights in defying expectations, and he can't resist tweaking the ears of all those who looked at his college transcript and voted him most likely to hawk siding. He also can't resist, because he's in the middle of prospecting for a bigger comeuppance: he'll show all those naysayer who claim his plan for Social Security is dead. " Someone said, 'It's a steep hill to climb, Mr. President,'" he told the audience at the University of Notre Dame a week ago. "Well, my attitude is, the steeper, the better—because when you get up top, you realize you have left a significant contribution behind."

Sounds pretty heroic, huh? Never mind the fact that the priviatization plan does-- by the GOPs own admission-- nothing to keep Social Security solvent. So what's up with the encomium to a man out to add trillions to the national debt and push hundreds of thousands of Americans below the poverty line?

By the way, here's one of Bush's latest statements on privatization:

"I repeat, personal accounts do not permanently fix the solution."

I'm not sure what that means, but it seems to acknowledge the shortcomings of privatization. And that's exactly why journalists shouldn't be writing puff pieces like this Time article. I don't think of it as 'folksy,' but as 'incredibly stupid.'

NOTE: I came across that last quote at flakmag. Recommended reading. Here's the link:

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Speak out: stop using tax dollars for propaganda

It's been all over the news-- excuse me, the blogosphere. The administration has used hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to produce and disseminate videos that look for all the world like evening news stories. The thing is, these 'press releases' are utter fabrications. They star PR firm employees as reporters, and they sing the praises of W's policies to the exclusion of any other opinions.

The GAO, or Government Accountability Office, has repeatedly cited these 'press releases' as unlawful propaganda unwittingly funded by American taxpayers. According to the WaPo, this is the White House line: "The Bush administration, rejecting an opinion from the [GAO], said last week that it is legal for federal agencies to feed TV stations prepackaged news stories that do not disclose the government's role in producing them."

The Bush administration claims that it can use our dollars to sell us on their proposals-- even if they sell it to us disguised as the evening news. But we can take action. And I'd encourage all of you to follow the link above and sign the petition. While you're at it, take a minute to write your own original comments-- e-mails that simply parrot the same line (aka Astroturf) don't get as much attention. Speak out, and spread the word.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

House Republicans kill Guckert investigation

It helps to have friends without scruples in high places. Raw Story infoms us that the House Judiciary Committee voted down a resolution that would look into how a gay prostitute earned credentials that allowed him to access the president for more than a year. Typically, all Republicans present voted against it. After all, there's no gay prostitute like a right-wing gay prostitute.

The Dems didn't have a chance, but this stands as another opportunity for Democratic candidates to use Republican congressmen's votes against them. Let's hope they use it next year...

This is the perfect chance to apply a classic piece of politician assessment-- would the Republicans have voted down the resolution if we had a Democratic president being asked questions by a left-wing homosexual prostitute? The very notion is such a joke I won't even bother answering it for you. But it's just the sort of question that I love to run by my right-wing friends. I'm always amazed at their ability to spin themselves silly when it comes to questions of morality.

ANWR: The good, the greedy, and the dishonest.

The GOP tucked an ANWR drilling amendment into the budget, and the measure passed by a vote of (sigh) 51-49. Apparently anti-filibuster provisions were in place, so there wasn't much chance of preventing the move for a second time.

Why is ANWR drilling so important to the GOP? Couldn't tell ya. It represents a drop in the American oil consumption bucket, and won't even start producing oil for years and years. In short, we lose a part of America's wilderness for little in the way of benefits. But a few oil companies stand to make a pretty penny. You'd think that a responsible administration would opt to explore alternative fuels, rather than prolonging American dependence on Middle Eastern oil-- which requires us to prop up dictatorships, hurts the environment, and means a prolonged period of high consumer prices. After all, with several of the world's most populous countries, like China and India, becoming ever-more dependent on oil themselves, the prices simply aren't going to drop. We could become world leaders in alternative fuels, but instead the Republicans are selling out the American people, the economy and the environment in the name of... what? Profits for oil executives, I guess.

Interestingly, John Kerry was fighting hard to defeat the amendment. I'll be the first to admit that I think it's just motivated self-interest on his part-- in anticipation of another run for the presidency, he's eager to establish his bona fides with the netroots. If he keeps it up, though, I'll be a happy man. McCain is doing much the same-- except that he's toeing the GOP party line in anticipation of his run. And in the process, alienating Democrats who admired his integrity. All for a party that stabbed him in the back in 2000. Wake up, pal. All you have left is your integrity-- what exactly is your plan to attain higher office after selling out for four years? I'll work on finding info on this, but I heard on Al Franken's show today that he's even working to block investigations into GOP improprieties. Let's see, shilling for people who've double-crossed him? Maybe he should run with Lieberman....

News Flash: MSNBC tells the truth!

Whoa. On 'Connected' today, there was a piece on the phony news releases that the White House has created and disseminated using taxpayer money. Naturally, there's a Bush apologist (Terry Jeffrey) who claims that Bush has to use propaganda and fake 'town hall' meetings because of their favorite boogeyman. Oh, wait, that's Bill Clinton. Their second favorite boogeyman-- the "liberal media." He also uses a tried and true tactic: when the facts are against you, laugh derisively at your opponent.

Well worth a watch, if you have the bandwidth. It's a 5 meg download. Video

When it finallly dawns on the public that these GOP shills are nothing more than ministers of propaganda, this pack of hucksters should be spending some quality time in the unemployment lines. Somebody should send Terry Jeffrey a transcript of the Nuremberg trials...

As for MSNBC (and CNN, and every other media outlet), they damn well better start decrying the admin's use of propaganda-- in dodging this issue, all they're accomplishing is hastening their own demise as respected journalists and assuring that all of America buys the myth of the "liberal media."

The Subtle Knife

From Daily Kos comes this nice summation of yesterday's "Nielson Amendment." Let's hope that Dems running in 2006 have the sense to recite the amendment early and often. From the post:

. . . Sen. Bill Nelson introduced a "sense of the Senate" amendment that stated, simply,

"It is the sense of the Senate that Congress should reject any Social Security plan that requires deep benefit cuts or a massive increase in debt."

Five Republicans joined all Democrats in voting for the amendment [ed: also Independent Jim Jeffords]. ThereIsNoCrisis helpfully gives us the names of those Republicans who voted for deep cuts in social security and massive debt, and who are up for reelection in 2006:
Allen, George VA
Burns, Conrad MT
Chafee, Lincoln RI
Ensign, John NV
Hatch, Orrin UT
Hutchison, Kay Bailey TX
Kyl, Jon AZ
Lott, Trent MS
Lugar, Richard IN
Santorum, Rick PA
Talent, Jim MO
Thomas, Craig WY

Note to self: encourage GOP to push privatization

Noam Scheiber has a nice entry in his TNR blog. It's too early to start counting out GOP congressmen, but I sure enjoyed reading this:

SOCIAL SECURITY PRIVATIZATION = LEAD WEIGHT: I wrote a piece a few weeks ago about why Social Security privatization could be even more devastating for congressional Republicans than most Democrats think. Today Gallup released some polling data suggesting congressional Republicans may be taking a pretty serious hit already:
According to the poll, 37 percent of Americans approve, but 53 percent disapprove, of the way Congress is handling its job. Last month, the comparable figures were 45 percent approve to 48 percent disapprove. The current figures are the lowest that Gallup has measured since September 1999, though approval was as low as 40 percent just last October.
For those keeping score, that's a net 13-point swing in the wrong direction in the last month. But, hey, we're only two weeks into the White House's 60-day Social Security push. There's still plently of time for that number to drop a lot further. ..."

Privatization deserves to be a GOP albatross. They're trying to pass a measure that will rack up trillions in debt and disproportianately hurt their "red" base. Of course, it's always the case that Dems are fighting for the protection of those most likely to be hurt-- and the GOP keeps winning anyway. But they might have struck a serious nerve this time. One that can't be erased by using national security scare tactics or exploiting religion. Let's keep our fingers crossed that they've finally gone too far, and been too ham-handed, in trying to win over the disadvantaged while they pick their pockets. Dems need to start hammering away at privatization and the bankruptcy bill-- this time 'red' voters will actually be able to feel the consequences of voting Republican. And that's a potentially huge advantage.

We of the DLC are really nice guys...

.... and the sooner you wacked-out kooks acknowledge that, the better!

After my post yesterday on the New Dems claiming Barack Obama as a member, I came across the above post. Sanctimonious title and angry finger-pointing aside, there are well-reasoned critiques like this: attacks on the DLC have been "endless, personal, often obscene, and frankly, a little nuts." Whew. I haven't witnessed anything like that, frankly, although I always hear capable bloggers being called fanatics and extremists by the DLC. Most blogs have been pretty kind to the New Dems, and the concensus seems to be, "Why so much energy spent on attacking your fellow Dems, when we should be united in stopping the admin's reactionary agenda?"

But here's the money shot, as it were. Early in the post: "[Kos]
even took the trouble to dig down in our web page--bypassing a few hundred thousand pages of policy work, which is what we do to pass the time while waiting for the next call from Fox News--and discover that Sen. Barack Obama is still listed in our data base! Scandal! (He's in there because he recently joined the Senate New Democrat Coalition, all of whose members are in our database, which is about as controversial as a phone book)."

Note the update at the bottom of the page: "
UPDATE: Turns out I was misinformed about Obama's being a member of the Senate New Democrat Coalition. The misunderstanding was based on the two different meanings of "New Democratic Senators," but we were wrong about that, and have removed his name from our Directory. Still love the guy, though."

The whole post is worth reading for its bizarre fusion of persecution complex and see-no-evil-ism. That 'correction' at the end still manages to be arrogant, in spite of the fact that it tacitly acknowledges that Kos was quite right-- without retracting calling Kos a 'hater' who throws 'temper tantrums.' Now, is that nice?

MEANWHILE, over at TPM, guest blogger Jonathan Chait writes of the Bull Moose having pretty much the same problem. He likes Lieberman. He calls other bloggers extremists and fanatics. And he defends Lieberman even when he has his facts wrong. Kinda like the above post-- he pretty much refuses to acknowledge his error, and isn't about to back off the hyperbolic rhetoric.

Chait (who also calls other bloggers lefty-fanatics) writes:
"Be that as it may, there’s a specific issue here. Marshal [aka The Bull Moose] claimed Lieberman opposed the bankruptcy bill, but it turned out he really didn’t. Shouldn’t he, you know, admit that? He could still argue why he supports Lieberman despite this one bad vote. But clearly he was caught praising Lieberman for a particular stance and then, when it was pointed out that Lieberman actually did the opposite, lashed out at his critics without acknowledging the contradiction."

Thanks for the intellectual honesty, John ol' boy. I don't have anything against centrist Dems, but this is just bad behavior-- and it does anything but win them friends.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Thank you, good Americans, for beating my child!

Yet another astounding example of right-wing radio that's-- in a word-- fascistic.

Here's the story: a high school kid decides not to stand for the national anthem. His angry teacher responds by "screaming at the class and pulling the chair out from under [the] student."

Naturally, this doesn't go far enough. That kid earned himself a beating. You know, for undermining Bush's war on terror. The kid might have been acting like a goofball, or just being a smart alec (this has been known to happen to some high school students over the decades), but what sort of American would suggest that the patriotic response is to beat him senseless? A 21st century Republican, that's who.

Follow the link and find out why America needs "more teachers beating people."

I'll use this opportunity to share a story about Imperial Japan. Students were required to bow to the image of Emperor Hirohito in the WWII era, and he was considered to be a divine presence on earth. Literally a god-- infallible, and beyond criticism. Once upon a time, there was a smartass kid who decided to add a little ill-advised zest to the morning ritual. When he stood before the picture of the emperor, he combined the mandatory bow with a well-timed fart. Considering how we felt about Japan's colonial ambitions, and how many Americans dies to stop their conquest, we might give that kid a friendly slap on the back. As it happened, he was immediately escorted out of the building and beaten savagely by his homeroom teacher. There isn't a Republican in America who'd go on record as saying that it was right for the Japanese government to beat that child So why are so many Republicans willing to say that it's okay for the American government to do the same thing today?

Bush appoints Moynihan to UN

This is insane. And inexplicable. I was always a huge, huge fan of Daniel Patrick Moynihan. And I feel confident saying that he wouldn't be a fan of this administration. Strangely, the administration has decided to spread the line that the new UN ambassador, John Bolton (see earlier post "Meet Your New UN Ambassador"), is a virtual Moynihan clone. Let's put that to rest:

John Bolton: "there is no such thing as the United Nations."

Daniel Patrick Moynihan: "In the realm of law, the United States seems almost to have forgotten our once deep and abiding commitment to the rules of international conduct."

Quick! Can you spot the difference?

The truly mystifying part is that this is the second time in the last few months that the GOP has tried to use the legacy of Moynihan to push one of their reactionary ideas. They've also suggested that he was in favor of Social Security privatization. His daughter, outraged, made the rounds in various media outlets demanding that the Republicans stop misrepresenting her father's views. Moynihan supported Social Security benefits above and beyond the basic guarantees on a voluntary basis-- a nice, safe way for people to further pad their retirement nest egg. He also advocated reforming the system in a way that would guarantee its solvency for all Americans. In other words, keep it going and make it even stronger. Moynihan never advocated cutting benefits, taking on trillions in debt to change to system, or putting it in the hands of Wall Street.

So why does the GOP keep invoking Moynihan's name? Could it be because he was a New England liberal who fought for the common man, and defied their stereotype of the latte-sipping elitist? Why do they still fear him from beyond the grave? Personally, I'm still not sure what a latte is, but then I'm a Missouri liberal who just happens to live in Boston.

Dominating this galaxy-- now.... AND ALWAYS!

Are you ready for me to blow your mind? Take a look at the above article from Editor and Publisher. While the majority of the public is now feeling very uncomfortable with the way things are going in Iraq, it looks like self-identified Republicans still have an itchy trigger finger. So to speak-- after all, they just like sending other people's kids to fight.

39-46% of Republicans surveyed favor taking military action against North Korea, Syria, and Iran. Somebody better tell that horse's ass Zell Miller to break out the spitballs, considering that we have under-equipped troops in Iraq two years after invading.

Oh, the rest of the country opposes war with these countries by a two-to-one margin... So who's out of touch with America?

The Great Red Hope

Another darling of the left these days is Montana governor Brian Schweitzer. He's almost become a legend already, having won the post in a seriously red state and garnering national attention as not only outspoken, but pretty damn sensible.

Frankly, this is what we need in the party. The right has spent so long trying to portray Democrats as east-coast-trust-fund-beatniks that much of America seems to have forgotten that we're the party of fighting for the little guy, the worker, and the small business owner against money-grubbing CEOs, plutocrats, theocrats, and America's self-styled nobility (e.g., the Bush family).

People like Schweitzer and radio host Ed Schultz ( are what people should think of when they think Democrat. People should think of smarmy fanatics like Ashcroft, and robber barons like Enron's Ken Lay when they think Republican. After all, it's the truth.

I've posted before on Schweitzer ("The Case of the Vanishing Accent"), and the more I see of him, the more I like him. Perhaps best of all, the guy's doing a bang-up job of falling into the political trap that we all learn on the playground, but still ensnared Gore and Kerry-- BE YOURSELF! We've seen Gore looking positively presidential since 2000 (even a GOP friend of mine has been impressed with his fiery, populist speeches), but "Dukakis Tank Syndrome" still afflicts a whole lot of Dems.

The Hammer Comes Down?

Things are starting to look extra-grim for ethically-challenged Tom DeLay. Just last year, House Republicans were set to change ethics rules so that he could keep his post even if he were indicted. They backed off amid public outrage (despite having no collective conscience, apparently they still feel fear), and it looks like that's as good as things might have been for DeLay. Some Republicans are starting to skooch away from him nervously as more and more evidence piles up against him-- although others are still trying to manipulate House rules to protect him from being hoist by his own petard.

The above link will take you to a DCCC weblog that contains lots of info and links. Stay tuned. This story is beginning to pick up speed in the mainstream (finally), and it's getting plenty of attention in the blogs and on progressive radio.

DLC: Still up to their old tricks

I've put some time into this issue, and so have a number of the big-time bloggers out there. It sounds like the DLC is still out to portray themselves as victims of "extremist" bloggers who want to somehow purge the party of moderates. This is pure, uncut hooey. The blogosphere has been celebrating Harry Reid's newfound fighting spirit, and even sticking up for Lieberman's record-- if not Lieberman himself. Which is why it's so frustrating when the DLC starts loudly decrying fellow Dems. It's the only thing they seem to do these days! Who ever hears about the DLC proposing bold, new legislation? Instead, DLC media appearances are almost certainly going to focus on DLC members attacking fellow Dems. Which is why we've been criticizing Lieberman. They're playing right into the GOP's hands by doing this, and fueling partisan animosity by helping to paint Democrats as obstructionists. Wake up, you dolts!

There's another great example of Dopey Joe's mealy-mouthed behavior this week from my hero at the NY Times, Paul Krugman. He's talking about the Dems who wussed out on the bankruptcy bill-- a big mistake, even if it was sure to pass.

Bonus matrerial from Kos-- Obama rejects the DLC. But they cover their ears and shout "LALALALALALALA!!!" Read on...

"Last year, Barack Obama asked the DLC to remove him from their list. He's still on it.

Obama's presence is another bit of proof that the DLC tries to take credit for any Democrat elected for office.

Anyone else who seems out of place on the list? Anyone else we can peel off this list? Martin O'Malley? Maria Cantwell? Jennifer Granholm?

And do Hillary Clinton and Evan Bayh want to run for president with the DLC albatross around their neck?

Do any of these people want to associate with an organization that is urging the eviction of millions of Democrats from the party's ranks? An organization that likes to claim credit for Bill Clinton, but never -- mind you -- helped deliver 50 percent of the American people for any Democratic ticket. "

Friday, March 11, 2005

Hardware the hard way

Posts are going to be spordaic at best for the next few days-- having a little hard drive trouble at the ranch. Nothing too serious, thankfully, but it's going to take some time for the company to send me the necessary parts....

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Red States lose on Bankruptcy Bill

Hardly a surprise, seeing as how they've also cornered the market on poverty, teen pregnancy, divorce, etc. Also unsurprising is that their party of choice is screwing them. Again. Courtesy of Eschaton.

Bankruptcy filing rank, by households per filing:

Utah 1
Tennessee 2
Georgia 3
Nevada 4
Indiana 5
Alabama 6
Arkansas 7
Ohio 8
Mississippi 9
Idaho 10

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Even monkeys fall from trees

I'm fairly ashamed of myself for not putting together two stories that I've posted on this week. First, there's the defeat of an increase in the minimum wage, which hasn't been changed in years.

Hot on the heels of that slap in the face of working-class Americans comes the Bankruptcy Bill, which will make it harder for them to make any economic headway byt stripping them of all rights in the case that they suffer from some unforeseen economic hardship (e.g., a debiliating stroke).

Think about it-- in the same week we've seen legislation that prevented people from earning more money, and legislation that prevented these subsistence-level workers from protection from predatory lenders. Keep it up, Republicans, and you'll see the revolution that a Freeper promised as per my post of yesterday. And that isn't pro-America.

I'll paraphrase the right-wing propagandists once again-- why do they hate America? The nation is best served when all Americans do better. Please stop working against that, GOP. Is it really a crime for credit card CEOs to earn just a few million a year (rather than, say, fifteen million) if it helps thousands of Americans to be productive members of society?

Matt Sandwich IS.... cranky blogger.

I'm not a reality TV fan. But I'll admit that it keeps getting worse. More exploitative. Wall-to-wall humiliation per minute. Pointy-headed liberal elitist that I am, the only reality shows I've watched are the ones that don't count. On PBS.

Anyway, Showtime started airing Kirstie Alley's new show this week.... Fat Actress. I came across a link that lets you watch the first episode. In all its glory. Think of it as a has-been's attempt to make a comeback through ironic self-deprecation (Pauly Shore recently made the same bid). She makes cracks about her desperation. The men in the show make cracks about how it's okay for men in Hollywood to be fat, but not women. You know-- it's "funny," but it's also serious social commentary. Especially the condescending remarks about black guys digging fat chicks. Sheesh.

Two things. First: it isn't reality TV. It's a carefully staged and scripted sitcom. A sitcom that isn't funny in the least. Second: the show spends the first few minutes committing Kirstie's enlarged boobs to film. In a flimsy negligee. Gotta keep the sex in, ya know.

Now that I've seen how bad this genre is for myself, I feel comfortable skipping the premiere of A&E's classy new entry, 'Intervention.'

See the show for yourself. You've been warned. ‘Fat Actress’ Pilot: Big Butts

In other unpleasant Hollywood news, Keanu Reeves continues to be the most inexplicable action hero in movie history (hey, Tom Laughlin produced his own movies) as he signs on to star in what will undoubtedly be a classy and classic homage to the swashbuckling pictures of yesteryear as.... Sinbad the Sailor. Groan.

Your activist judge all-stars

This is from a letter MoveOn sent out, and I'll just borrow it from them. I've mentioned that Democrats have blocked far fewer of Bush's nominees than Republicans did with Clinton's nominees. And since the Dems were such chickens in the first term, you just know that "the terrible twenty" were really, really bad. Here's the lowdown on a few of them. I've written my senators-- have you?

William Myers III has never been a judge and spent most of his career as a lobbyist for the cattle and mining industry. [1] He has written that all habitat conservation laws are unconstitutional because they interfere with potential profit. [2] In 2001, Bush appointed him as the chief lawyer for the Department of the Interior. In that role he continued as a champion of corporate interests, setting his agenda in meetings with former employers he promised not to speak with, and even illegally giving away sacred Native American land to be strip mined. [3]

Terrence Boyle was a legal aide to Jesse Helms. As a judge, his signature decisions have attempted to circumvent federal laws barring employment discrimination by race, gender, and disability. [4] His rulings have been overturned a staggering 120 times by the conservative 4th District Court of Appeals, either due to gross errors in judgment or simple incompetence. [5]

William Pryor Jr. served as Attorney General of Alabama, where he took money from Phillip Morris, fought against the anti-tobacco lawsuit until it was almost over, and cost the people of Alabama billions in settlement money for their healthcare system as a result. [6] He called Roe v. Wade "the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history," and has consistently argued against the federal protections for the civil rights of minorities, lesbian and gay couples, women, and the disabled. [7]


[1] "Unfit to Judge," Community Rights Council, 4/2/04.

[2] "Myers Troubling Legal Philosophy," People for the American Way.

[3] "Environmental Group Calls on Senate to Block Myers Nomination: Ethical Problems and Anti-Environmental Activism Make Him Unfit for Judgeship," Friends of the Earth, 2/5/05.

[4] "Federal Judge Terrence Boyle Unfit for Promotion to Appeals Court," People for the American Way, 2/23/05.

[5] "Eastern District of North Carolina Terrence Boyle Nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit," Alliance for Justice.

[6] Eric Fleischauer, "Pryor Called a Tobacco Sellout," Decatur Daily News, 10/30/02.

[7] Ann Woolner, "Bush Judicial Candidate Shows How Things Change," Bloomberg News, 5/16/03.

TNR rips New Dems. Finally.

After the appearance of many misguided arguments supporting the DLC and their appeasement tactics, this appeared online at TNR. Noam Scheiber reprints some letters from moderate Democrats expressing their support for the bankruptcy bill. The bill that was written by and for credit card companies-- who are already earning record profits-- and prevents people from filing for bankruptcy because of things like catastrophic medical costs.

His conclusion?

". . .support for the bill by Democratic moderates betrays a striking obliviousness to the most important debate underway within the Democratic Party. Moderate Democrats have been under assault from grassroots liberals lately for selling out Democratic values in their rush to appease conservative interests. I normally think this criticism is highly misplaced, and that moderates have exactly the right instincts when it comes to social issues and foreign policy, even most economic issues. But in this case the moderates proved the liberals' point for them, which could set back the cause of moderates within the party for months, if not years. It really is a colossal, inexcusable mistake."

When you consider my previous post, you have to wonder-- if the public (blue and red) is against this bill, and its only boosters are giant corporate contributors, what's with the pious rhetoric from moderate Dems? The only answer I can think of is that inside the Beltway, the DLC is still convinced that the only way to be a good Democrat is to roll over and expose your belly to the claws of the far-right. Wake up, guys-- this is going to be used as a bludgeon during the next election cycles.

Who's afraid of the bankruptcy bill?

Maybe a whole lot of Republicans. Normally I link to the Free Republic as a demonstration of how out-there Bush fans can be. Then I came across this thread (via Escaton), which is a response to Paul Krugman's recent column on the Bankruptcy Bill-- now set to pass. The column itself is at the top of the page.

Read the column, then look at some of the reactions from the Freepers. Here's a sample:

"I hope the Republicans are pleased with themselves--they are going to pay a huge political price for this down the line."

"Conservatism must mean something more than simply doing what pleases big business."

"I usually disagree with Krugman, and sometimes find him disingenuous and tendentious, but I agree with each and every word he wrote in this Op Ed piece."

Now that's the sort of sense I expect conservatives to talk-- individual rights and reduction of corporate influence in government.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Crooks Cook Dems' Books?

This is astounding, and coming to you straight from the "liberal media." Jonah Goldberg, a hack of the first order, gets this lead-in to his LA Times op-ed: "For Democrats, allowing felons to exercise the franchise isn't a matter of justice, it's a way to get votes."

Just the sort of snappy line that makes right-wingers drool and people who like to think shudder. At least he's, uhhhh... intellectually honest. After all, Goldberg admits that it isn't just because Democrats have a "simpatico outlook with thieves, robbers and rapists." What a relief!

His grand conclusion? "If you are having an intelligent conversation with somebody, is it enriched if a mob of uninformed louts, never mind ex-cons and rapists, barges in?" Classic GOP reasoning-- screw the people, voting should be a right of the privileged. Undoubtedly, Goldberg believes that his cronies at the Weekly Standard are just the folks to decide who qualifies. After all, they've produced several thought-provoking and intelligent arguments on the right to vote (thanks to Kevin Drum for this, link to follow):

"The [Weekly Standard] ran an article in 1965 opposing the Voting Rights Act because, "Over most of this century, the great bulk of Southern Negroes have been genuinely unqualified for the franchise[.]" The [magazine's founder] wrote sympathetically that, "In much of the South, what is so greatly feared is irresponsible, mobocratic rule, and it is a fear not easily dissipated, because it is well-grounded that if the entire Negro population in the South were suddenly given the vote, and were to use it as a bloc, and pursuant to directives handed down by some of the more demagogic leaders, chaos would ensue[.]"

Hopefully they'll have a spot for Rush Limbaugh on the committee-- the man who advocated maximum penalties for casual drug users, then enlisted the aid of the ACLU to help him beat his own drug rap. Oh, and George W., who was arrested, but conveniently managed to avoid doing time.

Think about it, folks: GOP activists are publicly suggesting that we curtail citizens' rights to vote. Unless they're connected. Sounds like fascism to me.

Here's Drum's piece:

Crunch time for the bankruptcy bill

Eschaton has this report (link above) on the way things stand with the bill. The Republicans are trying to invokethe cloture rule and end debate. Ostensibly so they won't have to go on the record explaining their support for a bill that makes it harder for military families, seniors and the poor to free themselves of crushing debt-- at the same time it allows millionaires to keep their assets.

I'm inclined to think that the admin. really is serious about privatization-- that it's not just a smoke screen. But this issue needs some serious attention. Read the post, and if you're in a state represented by any of the senators on the list of Dems set to support the bill, take five minutes to call or write them. Please.

Monday, March 07, 2005

The Florida election goblin turns against Bush

There have been lots of hopeful-sounding comments on the blogosphere lately concerning divisions within the Republican party. One example is GOP grumbling about making Bush's tax cuts permanent, even as he proposes a Social Security plan that would cost some $7 trillion in additional national debt. Reality could be setting in, but I'm skeptical. Just because Bush will be history in a few years doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of other GOP bullies eager to club dissenters into submission. I'll believe it when I see it.

On the other hand, there's this statement from James Baker-- an infamous fixer in his own right. But he seems to be going a little mellow in his twilight years. And in the process, he's directly contradicting the official party line. Check it out (the final link doesn't work- I'll update):

"Former Secretary of State James Baker believes the U.S. should actually do something about global warming, and he declared this in Houston last week before an audience that included local oilmen.

Baker, who served under President George H. W. Bush, and helped George W. seal the 2000 election, told the members of the Houston Forum Club last Thursday that an "orderly" change to alternative energy is needed, Reuters reported"

Beinart: If only Dems loved minorities like the GOP does...

Peter Beinart has been annoying me for months with his inexplicable calls for the Democrats to start imitating Republicans. If it sounds straight out of the DLC, it's because it is straight out of the DLC. Here's the whiz-bang finale of his latest piece, featured in the WaPo (link above):

"Genuine multiculturalism is not just about race, ethnicity and gender. It's about embracing people whose culture differs from yours, in hopes of finding core principles that you share. Over the past four years, Republicans have done that. Now Democrats must too. [sic]"

Is it just me, or does this statement drip with irony? The reason Republicans are making headway with these groups is that they are employing underhanded tactics to make headway-- like Bush's attempts to con black Americans into thinking that they're being ripped off by Social Security. Which is an utter falsehood. In fact, the GOP is trying to win everyone's votes the only way it knows how-- by finding novel ways to convince people to put robber barons in charge of the country.

If Beinart thinks that the Republicans are worthy of emulation in their present incarnation, he needs a nice, long vacation. If we were the party of unprecedented deficit spending with no oversight, we'd be the liberal party that has been scorned for decades. If we were passing corporatist-friendly, anti-consumer legislation at light speed, we wouldn't be Democrats to begin with.

UPDATE: Hey, Petey-boy. Here's a great example of the GOP's brilliant minority outreach from Raw Story:

“We don’t do Lincoln Day Dinners in South Carolina,” Senator Graham told a Lincoln Day gathering in Tennessee Saturday. “It’s nothing personal, but it takes awhile to get over things.”

According to a Knoxville News Sentinel article published Sunday, Graham entertained an amicable crowd and joked about his predecessor in the Senate, former Sen. Strom Thurmond.

UPDATE: I just heard Beinart interviewed on The Al Franken Show (March 8). Al didn't give him an inch, and frankly, I didn't think that Beinart had a leg to stand on. It sounded suspiciously like a guy with a book to sell (oh, wait-- he is) who insisted that there was more to his proposal than met the eye-- even as he conceded that the GOP is winning minority votes by lying, that Dems are the only people genuinely promoting their well-being, and that we aren't doing anything wrong. We just need to find some method to counteract the right wing's dishonesty. Thanks, but that isn't exactly news, chum. Now how about getting out there and fighting alongside us, instead of trying to write a bestseller?

Criswell predicts.... lukewarm sales.

Bipartisanship, GOP style

Republican wunderkind Frank Luntz wrote a handy strategy guide for Republican candidates and their wives. Everything you need to know about winning at all costs. But it leaked.

A favorite example of mine:

"Make the GOP the party of BIPARTISANSHIP. If Americans love anything, it's bipartisanship. Anything described as "bipartisan" is an automatic winner with the American public, and any candidate who can effectively portray themselves as "bipartisan" with automatically have an advantage. Call the Democrats out on their partisanship and obstructionism."

That's right, "portray yourself" as bipartisan while beating up the other party. We all knew that this was the GOP playbook-- now we have proof. A must-read.

The author has it right when he cites such examples of rhetorical shysterism as East Germany calling itself a "Democratic Republic," or China calling the murderous purge of anti-Communist elements as a "Cultural Revolution." What can I say? They've learned from the leaders in their field.

UPDATE: Via Daily Kos, you can skip the PDF format of Luntz's guide-- read it in HTML here

When Blogs Attack

Finally, an analysis of the blogosphere that doesn't take the easy way out and proclaim it to be the domain of pajama-clad extremists. Unsurprisingly, most liberal bloggers turn out to be people like myself-- frustrated with the current state of affairs, and starting to get active. Right-wing bloggers? Paid operatives of the reactionary establishment from day one.

That's an oversimplification, but if you're interested in the story of who bloggers are and how the media portrays them, check it out. Good reading. I'm linking to the MyDD summary, but the complete article at the American Prospect is, of course, the real story.

Rick Santorum: The Art of the Sucker Punch

We all know that Republicans are always against increases in the minimum wage-- even to match cost of living increases. But wait! Rick Santorum wants to increase the minimum wage? By $1.10 an hour? Well, no. Just like Bush's offer to "increase Pell Grants" while secretly making them more difficult to earn, it will actually raise benefits for a few while cutting the wages of the many. Loathsome.

"Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum is leading the charge for a GOP bill that would ostensibly raise the minimum wage by $1.10 per hour, but in reality would cut wages for millions of American workers and expand unregulated sweatshops across the country.

As this Economic Policy Institute analysis details, the bill is a trojan horse for assaulting workers rights.

Licensing Sweatshops: While a $1.10 per hour minimum wage increase by itself would help 1.8 million workers, Santorum includes a poison bill exempting any business with revenues of $1 million or less from regulation -- raising the exemption from the current $500,000 level.

The upshot: while 1.2 million workers could qualify for a minimum wage increase, another 6.8 million workers, who work in companies with revenues between $500,000 and $1,000,000 per year, would lose their current minimum wage protection. "

UPDATE: Santorum's proposal was defeated by a good-sized margin (39-61). Unfortunately, Senator Kennedy's genuine proposal to raise minimum wage was also defeated.

NYT gets Lieberman all wrong

As little common sense and research as it takes to be a "real" reporter these days, maybe I should add a "slash-journalist" to the end of my resume title.

Here's what the paper has to say about Lieberman's willingness to cave in on privatization:

"[Some Connecticut Dems'] disappointment with Mr. Lieberman illustrates the difficulty of trying to be a centrist in an increasingly polarized political climate. Mr. Lieberman has gone from a possible Democratic heir apparent to a presidential primary footnote in 2004 to the conspicuous odd man out in his own Senate party caucus."

This should appear on Fox. As quite a few bloggers (including myself) wrote last week, this is the DLC line-- anyone opposed to Lieberman's policies is a radical-- which sounds a lot like saying that anyone opposing Rice's nomination is a racist.

But we aren't angry with Lieberman for "trying to be a centrist." Privatizing Social Security isn't something centrists want to do-- it's been a pet project of right-wing thinktanks for decades, and no one else took it seriously. Until they came to dominate the GOP. The fact that Lieberman has lately been making headlines for his willingness to cooperate with Republicans represents a man who is willing to support reactionary policy. As many have noted, Harry Reid is anti-abortion, but he's becoming extremely popular with Dems these days. Because he's fighting for Democratic principles. Lieberman has become an object of scorn because he's a Dem who gets lots of airtime, and uses it not to promote his party's agenda, but to sound like he thinks that GOP proposals might be quite sensible. Poof-- instant grist for the right-wing mill. "He listens to reason! What's with all those other fanatics?!?" Lieberman isn't a bad Democrat, but his primary role of the last few years has been to give Republicans another way to misrepresent our party.

Shame on the NYT for suggesting that there's anything centrist about the current GOP. And shame on Lieberman for still pretending that they're anything but corrupt robber barons. It's possible to be civil without being a pushover.

Meet Your New UN Ambassador

In the proud tradition of crapping on the rest of the world, Bush has named John Bolton to the post. Here's sampling of what Bolton has said about the international body:

Bolton has harshly disparaged the United Nations in the past. In 1994, for example, he charged, “There’s no such thing as the United Nations,” saying that ‘’If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.'’ Four years later, he attacked the international body again, saying, “many Republicans in Congress - and perhaps a majority - not only do not care about losing the General Assembly vote but actually see it as a ‘make my day’ outcome. Indeed, once the vote is lost, and the adverse consequences predicted by the U.N.’s supporters begin to occur, this will simply provide further evidence to many why nothing more should be paid to the U.N. system.”

Ahhhh, diplomacy. Makes you proud, doesn't it? By the way-- who do you suppose announced that Bolton was the appointee? None other than Condoleeza Rice, another *ahem* darling of the global community. Maybe the administration will use her as a deflector shield to start announcing unpopular decisions, i.e., if you criticize the revelation, it's because you're racist.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The Bankruptcy Bill

Kevin Drum links to a WaPo story on the bill, and does an admirable job of summation. One thing I've noticed is how companies are pitching 'fixed-rate' cards now. Except that on Capital One's ads, for example, the tiny print right there on the screen points out that Capital One can change the rate any time they want. Talk about cynical.

Some other fun facts:

* MBNA is the single largest contributor to the GOP.

* Credit card companies earn "half their profits from penalties and late fees."

Since it looks like the bill will pass, credit card companies are now able to intentionally target risky customers and be shielded from the risk of default. Coming soon to an area near you: debtor's prisons.

Popular Uprising

This is great to see-- large, organized opposition to Bush's desperate privatization roadshow. W is fighting the only way he knows, with pre-screened crowds and pre-screened questions. But the AARP is taking out ads in the papers of every city he visits, and large crowds of protestors are showing up-- in the words of one report, "of all ages, colors and backgrounds." (That's a paraphrase)

Even the mainstream press is having trouble portraying this as anything less than what it is-- a flailing attempt by the administration to push a hugely unpopular and horribly flawed plan to end a successful government program. A program which, incidentally, keeps large numbers of "red state" seniors above the poverty line.

Service Guarantees Citizenship!

I've often found parallels between the way this administration functions and Paul Verhoeven's chilling anti-fascism film Starship Troopers. This would be the most direct corollation I've come across: the suggestion that we start recruiting foreigners to join our army in exchange for the promise of becoming citizens. The title of this post is one of the movie's oft-repeated military slogans.

As you've probably heard, the branches of the military all facing recruiting shortages-- unsurprisingly, considering growing public opposition to the war and the treatment of our soldiers there (under-equipped, pressed into extending tours of duty, veterans denied medical access). So we're borrowing a page from the fading Roman Empire, and suggesting that immigrants will be welcome to our shores if they're ready to spend five years in Iraq first. Disturbing stuff.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Using my tax dollars to cut my benefits

Astounding. The administration is using taxpayer dollars to sell the Social Security idea. After all, only 30% of the population hasn't flat-out rejected it. From the AP story:

WASHINGTON - A new Social Security war room inside the Treasury Department is pumping out information to sell President Bush's plan, much like any political campaign might do. It's part of a coordinated effort by the Bush administration.

The internal, taxpayer-funded campaigning is backed up by television advertisements, grass-roots organizing and lobbying from business and other groups that support the Bush plan.

Paying off journalists (with taxpayer money) to peddle programs wasn't enough. Producing fake news videos (with taxpayer money) to promote their drug bill wasn't enough. The irony of so-called fiscal conservatives using taxpayer dollars to promote unfunded programs and payouts to giant corporations is about as evil as it gets.

Jim Gibbons: A little bit crazy, a little bit lazy

I'm overdue on writing about this one. I mentioned the speech that Utah Rep. Jim Gibbons gave this week, in which he suggests that liberals would make good human shields in Iraq. Now it turns out that the speech was, for the most part, stolen from an Alabama official! (At least he knows where to turn for fiery, hate-filled speeches) This article from MyDD has a pretty complete assessment.

TNR pitches woo to the DLC. Again.

This is getting old. Just days after CEO Al From chastised people like progressive bloggers and Michael Moore as destructive extremists, The New Republic posts another love letter to 'New Democrats.' Naturally, it accuses people like Howard Dean and progressive bloggers of being destructive extremists. The article lauds folks like Joe Lieberman. What makes conscientious Dems like Lieberman and John Breaux such great guys? Well, maybe because they "can be--and have been--forceful critics of the GOP." Wow. What do the New Dems need to be a political powerhouse? How about "developing and pushing new ideas"? Explosive stuff, this.

The author goes to great lengths to avoid the criticism most frequently aimed at these fellows: victory comes from emulating the GOP and moving to the right. Need I remind DLC enthusiasts that the Dems have been trying this on the national level for a decade and had their asses handed to them time and again?

Personally, I think that they're starting from a false premise: that America's suddenly gone all conservative. After the closest presidential election in more than a century? When Democrats made record gains in "red state" offices?

And how about the line that bloggers are extremists? It's straight out of the Karl Rove playbook-- it isn't true, but that doesn't matter if it discredits your perceived enemy.

Finally, I'd think that this bit of wisdom would have gotten through even the thickest skulls by now: there is no playing nice with the current GOP. You can be a conservative Democrat or a left-wing firebrand. It doesn't matter-- they're out to take you down.

And it isn't "extreme" liberal bloggers who are trying to exclude DLC Dems from the party. It's the DLCs insistence that all Dems have to emulate them. Their divisiveness is alarming stuff.

UPDATE: I just caught this story on Daily Kos on the same issue. And it reaches the same conclusions. But it was inspired by a different article.

Check it out:

Friday, March 04, 2005

The Supremes and the Ten Commandments

It's been a real shock to read reports of the argumentation in front of the Supreme Court this week. If you know the facts, there can be no question that the Founding Fathers would disapprove (see my post 'Washington Roasts in Hell'). But most of the justices are coming across as apologists for the posting of religious monuments on civil property. Whether it's to preserve the Texas monument because it's more than 40 years old, and therefore a valuable relic (O'Connor), or the question of why a non-Christian couldn't just look the other way when passing by (Kennedy), they're trying every excuse. Kennedy didn't even say 'non-Christian,' he said 'atheist.' A telling remark in itself. He isn't even thinking about Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, agnostics, Hindus, or anyone else. It's just an age-old struggle between the faithful and those notorious bugaboos of the right, 'atheists.'

Meanwhile, protesters outside the court gave the lie to all of these arguments by holding pray-ins on the steps. Here's what one Bible fan had to say:

"Johnny Horton, a 45-year-old visual specialist for the United States Military at WestPoint, said all the controversy over the Ten Commandments is overblown. Horton said the Ten Commandments should be allowed to stand on government property, especially courthouses.

"If you look at every law from the beginning of time, every law that we now use was based on a foundation from the bible," Horton said."We should be looking at whether or not the laws are fair and is everyone on trial being treated fairly in our justice system."

This is, of course, an embarrassingly ignorant statement. Hammurabi's Code predates the Bible by centuries, and the Bablylonian ruler appears on the walls of the Supreme Court.

Here's what it comes down to: the Ten Commandments are religious. The aim of the Founding Fathers was to prevent government from endorsing any particular religion. Government buildings are not appropriate venues for promoting religion.

Make no bones about it, though-- when Bush has his chance to appoint a judge or two, we're going to be looking at a court that opposes evolution, opposes reproductive freedom, and promotes governmentally supported religion (see my post 'Stop Reactionary Judicial Appointments'). We have to start fighting, people, or deal with a nation that's more like medieval Europe than modern America.