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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, January 31, 2006

 
Doing His Part

by digby

In a system of two parties, two chambers, and two elected branches, there will always be differences and debate. But even tough debates can be conducted in a civil tone, and our differences cannot be allowed to harden into anger. To confront the great issues before us, we must act in a spirit of good will and respect for one another - and I will do my part.


Uh huh.

September 26, 2002

The [Democratic controlled] Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people."


Of course, that was a long time ago. He's changed since then. He's working hard to do his part now.

Ooops.

"I ask all Americans to hold their elected leaders to account and demand a debate that brings credit to our democracy not comfort to our adversaries," Bush said.



Oh. And "second guessing" is not a strategy.


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What About Mars?







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State Of The Strawman Preview

by digby

Good news. On Fox, "Stretch" Cameron just said the president is going to reject the approach of "some" that says we should surrender to terrorism.

He's going to say:


"In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores."


Boy that's telling all those people who are anxious to "leave the vicious attackers alone." All four of them.

I also understand that he is going to announce a bold new program to allow people to pay for their own health insurance so that employers can keep more of their money. (After all, it's their profits!) I do hope that he is going to put the same people in charge of designing it that he put in charge of the prescription drug program (if there are any who aren't working for Big Pharma now.) That's worked out awfully well.

He's going to say that we are all addicted to foreign oil, which is an excellent point. We should have weaned ourselves long ago. But he may not be the best evangelist for the cause. After all, his good friends in the energy industry have just overdosed on windfall profits and are lying face down in a pool of oily tax-payer subsidies. (But hey, it's their profits!)

And then there is the expected soaring rhetoric:

"Abroad, our Nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal - we seek the end of tyranny in our world. The future security of America depends on it."


And just as soon as we end tyranny in our world we will turn our attention to restoring the Bill of Rights to the Constitution.


No word on how the manned mission to Mars or the crusade against steroids are going. And one can assume that the bold plan to privatize social security has been a rousing success too. Strangely, nobody is talking about it.



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Master Debaters Redux

by tristero

I was very interested to read the comments to my query: How on earth could Liberty beat Harvard in debate? Most commentators made points like no one cares about college debate, debating contests are esoteric and not real world, Liberty spends a lot of money on debate and Harvard doesn't, the rankings are misleading, and so on. All of this I have no doubt is true but it sidesteps a crucial fact that reverberates far beyond the trivialities of college debating:

There are no circumstances in which a contest between Harvard University debaters and a team from Liberty should even be close.

I'm not saying that Harvard has the smartest and most knowledgeable kids in the country, but I'll be damned if it doesn't have many of them. Conversely, I'm not saying that Liberty has the dumbest, most ignorant kids in the country, but it sure has a helluva lot more than Harvard. (For the record, I did not go to Harvard. Or Liberty.)

In short, Harvard should cream Liberty. Hell, nearly every school in the country should cream Liberty. But apparently they don't. And I'd like to know exactly how and why. We should all be interested in the answer.

Assuming it really is the case that Liberty can beat Harvard -and it seems to be* -, then it is one more example of how seriously undervalued the study of rhetoric - the art of persuasion - has become within the reality-based community. It's also illustrates how seriously important rhetoric is considered among the wingnuts. Once again, they are systematically training, with no expense spared, the next generation of rightwingers. Training them to roll America back to the halcyon years of Cotton Mather. And convince the majority of the country that that's a Good Idea.

Yes, the corruption of the media is a dreadful problem in getting out the truth about these nuts. Yes, the crazies can and do outspend us. Yes, they will lie, distort, and defraud elections, scientific data, and their opponents' positions. Yes, the Democratic infrastructure is cowardly (notable exceptions duly noted).

But from where I sit, that doesn't fully explain the serial failures by Democrats and liberals to make their case, a case which is so obviously sensible, especially when compared to the arguments of the winners on the right. What's left out of the explanation of failure can easily be symbolized - if not actually demonstrated - in this seemingly trivial, unimportant debate contest.

If we care about a world where religious lunatics aren't telling the rest of us what we can and cannot do, we damn well better figure out how to beat clowns like Liberty every time, no matter how trivial college debating might seem to some of us.


*One hightly knowledgeable commentator said the rankings were just pr and that Liberty was known as a joke among the varsity. That may have been true in 199x, but according to the article
Liberty is competitive at all three levels—varsity, JV and novice. "They're tough. [But] we're not afraid to debate Liberty," says Harvard coach Dallas Perkins Jr., whose varsity team was beaten by Falwell's last month.

[UPDATE] A very good discussion of why the ranking of Liberty as #1 is somewhat misleading. Perhaps most importantly, Liberty focuses on novice debaters and since it enters so many contests, its program, not its debaters or their teams, is ranked one. As Ed says in his reply to the fellow from Liberty, the Newsweek article reads as if the best debating teams in the country are at Liberty. Hat tip to TW in comments.

Even so, that doesn't get at the heart of the matter for me, which is why Liberty *still* does so well, apparently even beating Harvard.
 
Tweety And Tom

by digby


Atrios wonders why Matthews is so easy on Tom DeLay, which is to say, given his normal proclivities, incredibly easy. Suspiciously easy.

Maybe it's this:

Matthews implicated in Abramoff scandal

[...]


Now there are two big issues here -- one is the fact that Matthews has cavorted with Abramoff in the past, to the point of helping out with one of his sham charities.

Then there's the ethical issues with this so-called journalist hanging out in (and helping with) such a blatantly partisan event. It's again obvious that his schmoozing with the rich and powerful have hampered his ability to commentate on those issues properly detached and rational. He's been co-opted by the DeLay/Abramoff machine.


I hate to jump to conclusions, here. Matthews loves all Republicans, especially big powerful ones who have awesome masculine nicknames like "the hammer." He gets all tingly merely being in their presence. But his "interview" with Delay last night was adoring and worshipful even for him. He looked like Nancy Reagan staring at the gipper during his inauguration speech. (He even actively coached him at times, just like Nancy in the later days.) There's more to this than your normal Tweety Codpiece envy.



GEARY

I passed out.

[He stands up and moves over the bed where we see a bloody dead girl.]

I -- I'll fix it.

[He unties the girl's hand from the bed post.]

Just a game.

[He takes a towel and begins to wipe up the blood that is all over her. He looks at the towel and wipes off his hands.]

Jesus, Jesus.

[He begins to cry. As he does, TOM looks over at NERI who is wiping his hands in the bathroom.]

Jesus, God -- Oh, God. I don't know -- and I can't understand -- why I can't remember.

TOM

You don't have to remember -- just do as I say. We're putting a call into your office -- explain that you'll be there tomorrow afternoon -- you decided to spend the night at Michael Corleone's house in Tahoe -- as his guest.

GEARY

I do remember that she was laughing...we'd done it before -- and I know that I couldn't've hurt -- that girl

TOM

This girl has no family -- nobody knows that she worked here. It'll be as if she never existed. All that's left is our friendship.



If you wonder what is going on between Tweety and Tom, you can ask him, here.


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Freedom Roast

by digby

All you latte-swilling, wi-fi worshipping, NY Times reading, muffin scarfing liberals should head over to Dave Johnson's new blog, "Smelling the coffee" He's talking about the iconic symbol of everything we godless Democrats hold dear.

(I'm drinking a cup of french press medium roast Kona as we speak. Mmmmmm. After I finish it I'm heading for the beach to protest the war and sing kumbaya in a drum circle.)


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Monday, January 30, 2006

 
Hey Beavis

by digby


The Editors found many good wankers this week, but this one's a keeper:

The Pillsbury Pantload sums up pretty neatly why Bushbots will never catch Osama:

OSAMA’S TRUCE [Jonah Goldberg]

What if Bush offered/accepted one and then, under the flag of truce, had Osama killed and his minions rounded up?

It’s amusing to imagine what some of Bush’s biggest critics might say.


No, “amusing” is imagining Jonah Goldberg’s first day at Marine boot camp. “Retarded” is fantasy schadenfreude about what would happen if Osama fell for some crap shananigans you saw on The A-Team. I think killing Osama is going to require a different brand of cunning than the sort required to get B.A. on an airplane. Although: you’ve given me a great idea! What if Bush and Cheney went to Osama’s hideout dressed like trouble-shooters from the power company, and told Osama that his neighbors were having some work done and then, when he let them in to check the fusebox, they killed him and all the terrorists in the world gave up? It’s a foolproof plan, and I bet that would shut Paul Krugman up but good. Or, how about this one:

What if Osama pulled off the biggest terrorist attack in human history in the United States, killing 3,000 people, and, five years later, Bush still hadn’t caught him? He lowered taxes a bunch of times, invaded a country for no outstanding reason, and proposed some nonsense about going to Mars, but, doggonit, never quite got around to getting that Osama feller. Can you imagine?

It’s amusing to imagine what some of NRO’s doughiest wankers might say.




I can only add: Jonah Goldberg has a regular op-ed column in the Los Angeles Times. That symbolizes everything that is wrong with this world.


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The Lighter Side of Self Loathing

by digby


Kick Me, I'm A Democrat

by Michael Kinsley.

It seems to be time once again to play Kick the Democrats. Everyone can play, including Democrats. The rules are simple. When Republicans lose elections, it is because they didn't get enough votes. When Democrats lose elections, it is because they have lost their principles and lost their way. Or they have kept their principles, which is an even worse mistake.

Democrats represent no one who is not actually waiting in line for a latte at a Starbucks within 150 yards of the east or west coastline. They are mired in trivial lifestyle issues like, oh, abortion and gay rights and Americans killing and dying in Iraq, while the Republicans serve up meat and potatoes for real Americans, like privatizing Social Security and making damned sure the government knows who is Googling whom in this great country. Just repeat these formulas until a Democrat has been sent into frenzies of self-flagellation, or reduced to tears.

There is always a pick-up game of Kick the Democrats going on somewhere. But something about the Alito confirmation—the pathetic and apparently surprising inability of 45 Democratic senators to stop 55 Republicans from approving anyone they want—seems to have made the game suddenly a lot more popular.

How dire is it for the Democrats? George Will noted on TV the other day that they have lost five of the past seven presidential elections. This baseball-like statistic—"Democrats have lost X of the past Y elections"—has been one of Will's favorite tropes over the generations. But why now five out of seven? Two out of the past four would be equally accurate, and not nearly as grim. If you take a longer view, things get grimmer again. In fact, you can measure back from the present to any of the past 20 elections (which takes you back to 1928) and only once (starting in 1932) do the Democrats come out ahead. But this hardly supports Will's contention—and everyone else's—that things went to hell in the 1960s. If this exercise has any meaning, they've been in hell continuously since 1936.


Sounds right.


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10 Questions

by digby


As we absorb our latest loss --- it sucks being in the minority, you hardly ever win --- we need to keep our eye on the ball and remember that we have hearings coming up on the illegal NSA wiretaps. Glenn Greenwald has been the go-to guy in this and he's compiled ten questions that he'd like the Judiciary Committee to ask Alberto Gonzales. Glenn says:

I believe the paramount objective with these hearings is to force out into the open the theories of Presidential power which the Administration has embraced in order to justify its transgressions of FISA -- not just as applied to eavesdropping but with respect to all decisions broadly relating to the question of how this country will respond to the threat of terrorism. Thus, the questions posed to Attorney General Gonzales should absolutely not be confined strictly to the question of the NSA eavesdropping program, but must explore how the Administration’s theories of its own power apply generally.

The Committee, with its questioning, must make clear to the public that this scandal is not about whether we should be eavesdropping on Al Qaeda, because everyone agrees that we should and must do that. That is why we have a law -- FISA -- which specifically authorizes eavesdropping on terrorists. Nobody opposes eavesdropping. The scandal is about -- and these hearings must therefore emphasize -- the scope of the President’s claimed powers, and specifically his claimed power to act without what the Administration calls "interference" from the Congress or the courts, even including -- literally -- engaging in actions which are expressly prohibited by the criminal law.


Read the entire post and look at the questions. Glenn is looking for feedback on this. He received some major media attention this past week from Knight Ridder, the NY Times and The Washington Post for his outstanding catch of the administration's 2002 objection to loosening the FISA laws. He is in a position now to advance this another step.


Update: TalkLeft has a post up that says Russ Feingold is openly accusing Gonzales of lying in his confirmation hearings. It sure looks like he did.

Sen. Feingold: And I also would like you to answer this: does the president, in your opinion, have the authority acting as commander in chief to authorize warrantless searches of Americans' homes and wiretaps of their conversations in violation of the criminal and foreign intelligence surveillance statutes of this country?

MR. GONZALES: Senator, the August 30th memo has been withdrawn. It has been rejected, including that section regarding the commander in chief authority to ignore the criminal statutes. So it's been rejected by the executive branch. I categorically reject it. And in addition to that, as I've said repeatedly today, this administration does not engage in torture and will not condone torture. And so, what you really are -- what we're really discussing is a hypothetical situation that --



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"It Is The Only Way We Can Live"

by digby


So we only got 25 Senators to vote for a filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee who, if defeated, would be replaced by someone just as bad by a president in the pocket of his radical right wing. Well.

Do you know how many votes the Republicans managed to get when uber wingnut Antonin Scalia was confirmed? 98. And Democrats had a majority. We didn't have to even think about a filibuster. We couldn't defeat Clarence Thomas and we had a majority, a huge push from women's groups and a very dramatic set of hearings that went into the wee hours of the morning. It is very, very tough to do.

Kevin Drum says:


The lefty blogosphere has spent the last week trying to fire up support for a filibuster of Samuel Alito. This campaign was never likely to succeed, and today it failed as expected. But that's not all: it failed by the embarrassingly lopsided margin of 72-25.

I'm glad the filibuster took place, because even in failure it puts a marker down for future court fights. Still, even given the amateurish way that Senate Dems handled it, I expected it to get more than 25 votes. So here's today's assignment: In 5,000 words or less, what does this say about the influence of the lefty blogosphere?


I didn't expect it to get more than 25 votes and I'm frankly stunned that we did as well as we did. Indeed, something very interesting happened that I haven't seen in more than a decade.

When it became clear that the vote was going against the filibuster, Diane Feinstein, a puddle of lukewarm water if there ever was one, decided to backtrack and play to the base instead of the right wing. That's new folks. Given an opportunity to make an easy vote, until now she and others like her (who are legion) would always default to the right to prove their "centrist" bonafides. That's the DLC model. When you have a free vote always use it to show that you aren't liberal. That's why she was against it originally --- a reflexive nod to being "reasonable."

Obama had to choke out his support for a filibuster, but he did it. A calculation was made that he needed to play to the base instead of the punditocrisy who believe that being "bold" is voting with the Republicans. Don't underestimate how much pressure there is to do that, especially for a guy like Obama who is running for King of the Purple. The whole presidential club, including Biden joined the chorus.

The last time we had a serious outpouring from the grassroots was the Iraq War resolution. My Senator DiFi commented at thetime that she had never seen anything like the depth of passion coming from her constituents. But she voted for the war anyway. So did Bayh, Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Kerry and Reid. The entire leadership of the party. Every one of them went the other way this time. I know that some of you are cynical about these people (and ,well, they are politicans, so don't get all Claud Rains about it) but that means something. Every one of those people were running in one way or another in 2002 and they went the other way. The tide is shifting. There is something to be gained by doing the right thing.

I keep hearing that it's bad that these Senators "pandered" to the blogosphere and I don't understand it. We want them to pander to the blogosphere. In their book Politicians Don't Pander; Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness Lawrence R. Jacobs and Robert Y. Shapiro argue:


Politicians respond to public opinion, then, but in two quite different ways. In one, politicians assemble information on public opinion to design government policy. This is usually equated with "pandering," and this is most evident during the relatively short period when presidential elections are imminent. The use of public opinion research here, however, raises a troubling question: why has the derogatory term "pander" been pinned on politicians who respond to public opinion? The answer is revealing: the term is deliberately deployed by politicians, pundits, and other elites to belittle government responsiveness to public opinion and reflects a long-standing fear, uneasiness, and hostility among elites toward popular consent and influence over the affairs of government
.

Bingo.

It isn't actually pandering. It's responsiveness. I believe that there is finally a recognition that the Party has hit the wall. We have moved as far to the right as we can go and we have been as accomodating as we can be without thoroughly compromising our fundamental principles. Most of us are not "far left" if that means extreme policy positions. Indeed, many of us would have been seen as middle of the road not all that long ago. We are partisans and that's a different thing all together. The leadership is recognising this.

I know it hurts to lose this one. I won't say that I'm not disappointed. But it was a very long shot from the outset and we managed to make some noise and get ourselves heard. The idea that it is somehow a sign of weakness because we only got 25 members of the Senate, including the entire leadership, to vote to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee is funny to me. Two years ago I would have thought somebody was on crack if they even suggested it was possible.


Firedoglake has a very nice post up about John Kerry and the others who voted to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee tonight and I urge you to read it. I agree with every word. This is a dramatic moment for the netroots. Get ready for marginalization, evocations of 1968 and 1972, calls for purging us from the party, the whole thing. That's what happens when the citizens rise up. Don't let it shake your will. We are the heart of the Democratic party and we can make a difference.

If you don't believe me, here's a great Democrat who might just convince you, Robert F. Kennedy:

"Some believe there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world's ills. Yet many of the world's great movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man. A young monk began the Protestant reformation, a young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the borders of the earth, and a young woman reclaimed the territory of France. It was a young Italian explorer who discovered the New World, and the thirty-two-year-old Thomas Jefferson who proclaimed that all men are created equal.

"These men moved the world, and so can we all. Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

"Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. And I believe that in this generation those with the courage to enter the moral conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the globe.

"For the fortunate among us, there is the temptation to follow the easy and familiar paths of personal ambition and financial success so grandly spread before those who enjoy the privilege of education. But that is not the road history has marked out for us. Like it or not, we live in times of danger and uncertainty. But they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history. All of us will ultimately be judged and as the years pass we will surely judge ourselves, on the effort we have contributed to building a new world society and the extent to which our ideals and goals have shaped that effort.

"The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Rather it will belong to those who can blend vision, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of American Society.

"Our future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not completely beyond our control. It is the shaping impulse of America that neither fate nor nature nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands, matched to reason and principle, that will determine our destiny. There is pride in that, even arrogance, but there is also experience and truth. In any event, it is the only way we can live."


You rise to the occasion every time it's necessary. It is the only way we can live.




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Master Debaters

by tristero

Falwell's college has the best college debating team in the country. Harvard's is 14th.

Questions, anyone? I have one: How on earth is that possible? (And no, the ranking doesn't seem to be entirely explained by the amount of debating tournaments they enter.)
 
When Thrill Rides Turn Deadly

by tristero

I'd like to riff a moment on Digby's post, that radical Islamism does not pose an existential threat to the US.

Digby is absolutely right that radical Islamism has been so overly hyped and pornographied, and the "war on terror" so fictionalized, that we are more like a country watching a horror film than a country at war. It is absolutely the case that bin Laden's gang can't possibly bring down the US government.* And while it is distressingly easier than it ought to be for bin Ladenists to acquire nuclear technology, it is highly unlikely in the next few years that a nuclear attack - or even a biochem attack - will succeed. When you think about how hard it is to acquire, store, weaponize, manufacture, ship, deploy, and initiate an attack, it becomes very clear that this is beyond the technological capabilities, as we know them, of al Qaeda, even assuming that some members hold degrees in engineering. It is no accident that al Qaeda's spectacular attacks involved box cutters and simple bombs.

But there's an important caveat which I'm sure both Digby, Glenn Greenwald, and others are aware of, even if they disagree with my argumentation here. Radical Islamism is not an existential threat today. But given that the Bush administration has turned Iraq into a terrorist petri dish and that Afghanistan is little better - and that's just for starters - it is very likely that the growing isolation and consequent increasingly virulent opposition to the US will create a self-fulfilling prophecy. More secularized opponents of the US will have more and more reasons - the death of their children, for example, by US bombs - to become radicalized. And if the US traumatizes enough people, and makes it clear, as Bush stupidly does, that it is the US who is doing the traumatizing, you will eventually have a population of very angy young people which includes the technologically sophisticated, people who hate our guts and also have the wherewithal to inflict considerable damage to US populations through guerilla operations of many different sorts.

A cynic, or a paranoid, might think that a terrorist breeding ground was the goal all along for Bush/ Iraq - to create a genuine existential threat for the US to fight - which would maximize profits, destroy liberalism, etc. I don't think that's so. It's too simplistic a formulation to satisfy me; the world is more complicated than that. But in a certain sense it doesn't really matter. Deliberate psychopathy or blithering stupidity or both: The reality is that Bush has opened the gates of Hell.

There is still some time, I think to close the gates and contain the horror, but what, exactly, should the US do? The first thing is to get Bush and Bushism out of power. That is a necessary precondition to avert disaster. Since Bush will not be impeached, rational observers must operate under the assumption that the world situation by 2009 will almost certainly be very dire. Let's set aside all that can still go wrong and which Bush will certainly do wrong in the next few years. The fact remains that many of the children of Bush's victims - and let's not forget, Iraq has a very young population - will be in their late teens. Many will be growing up fully committed to radical anti-US movements. And some of them will be very, very smart. And there will be no way to kill 'em all, even if there were hundreds of Fallujahs, even if it were just.

So what should the US do in 2009? I don't have a clue. But I do know what not to do: continue the suicidal policies of the Bush administration. I'm talking not only about respecting fundamental human rights. A full repudiation of Bushism - from its economic terrorism to its lust for military "solutions" - would be a minimum first step. What to do after that is anyone's guess.

If the US wishes to avoid serious danger, it will simply have to stop aspiring to rule the world in a militarily and economically enforced Pax Americana. It will need brilliant leadership to negotiate the Post-Bush world, a world this total moron of a president made immeasurably more dangerous than the one he presumed to rule in January 2001.

I don't fear the present - in spite of my dread. I don't even fear al Qaeda, but I admit they worry me a great, great deal. I don't even fear al Qaeda's sons and daughters. What I fear more than anything is that the US will continue to place in power catastrophically awful leaders who will fulfill their own prophecies of Armageddon by acting to cause it.


*Unless, of course, the US government is even more negligent than they were prior to September 11, and that seems pretty unlikely, imo.
 
Molly Ivins, Bless Her, Doesn't Understand How Republicans Think.

by tristero

Oh, I love Molly, don't get me wrong. But this seriously misunderestimates the Republican mindset:
I am confounded by the authoritarian streak in the Republican Party backing Bush on this [extensive, illegal spying on Americans]. To me it seems so simple: Would you think this was a good idea if Hillary Clinton were president? Would you be defending the clear and unnecessary violation of the law? Do you have complete confidence that she would never misuse this 'inherent power' for any partisan reason?
Molly, you're assuming that sooner or later there actually will be a Democratic president. Republicans assume that will never, ever happen again. And they're doing everything possible - controlling voting machines, gerrymandering, fraud, blackmail, buying the media - to make sure it doesn't.

So why bother worrying the "other party" will abuse the power Bush now has? It's like worrying about a large asteroid colliding with Earth. Sure, it's theoretically possible, but...

Wouldn't it be nice if they were wrong? And Republicans no longer were in a position to wreak the havoc they've inflicted on our country over the past 5 plus years? And the laws were again obeyed?

Me, I'd be perfectly happy if none of the scoundrels currently destroying our country's way of life and government were never prosecuted if we could just keep them out of power. Well, not happy exactly, but I'd settle for it.
 
Micro-Propaganda

by tristero

Dontcha just love this stuff?
The tiresome pas de deux between rigid civil libertarians in denial of reality and an overaggressive executive branch seemingly heedless of the law...
Get it? You think it's a parallel construction, both sides are wrong. But look closer. Rigid civil libertarians deny reality - there's no question about it. The Bush administration seemingly ignores the law in its "overaggressiveness."

Cute.

At the end Bobbitt has two sentences more about "the executive branch's repeated appearance of an indifference to law" before finishing up with another swipe at reality-denying wimpiness. Oh, and didja notice? Somehow, the executive branch that possibly, maybe be giving the appearance of breaking the law remains nameless. Who could they be, I wonder.

But let's not be naive, folks. We're living in an America in which you cannot criticize Bush if you want to have any influence. Once we understand that, it's obvious that this little essay (and I haven't begun to discuss its substantial problems of logic and fact) wasn't meant to be read by John and Jane Q. Public but by King George and/or his codpiece full of courtiers. Given this is his target audience, what Bobbitt's saying becomes equally obvious:

He wants the Bush administration to do better at denying the reality that it is breaking the law. That way, Bush can better accuse civil libertarians and other liberal commie radical Muslims of denying reality in a post-9/11 world.

Cute.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

 
Snark Boomerang

by digby

From the interesting tid-bit files, from Robert Parry:

Nevertheless, the Republicans may have added a complication to their expected Alito victory parade by ridiculing Kerry for making his filibuster announcement while at an economic summit in Davos, Switzerland.

As Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s right-wing Washington Times gleefully reported, Republicans quickly dubbed Kerry the “Swiss Miss.” [Washington Times, Jan. 28, 2006]

Presidential spokesman Scott McClellan joined in mocking the Massachusetts Democrat by joking at the daily White House press briefing that it was a “pretty historic” day.

“This was the first time ever that a senator has called for a filibuster from the slopes of Davos, Switzerland,” McClellan said. “I think even for a senator, it takes some pretty serious yodeling to call for a filibuster from a five-star ski resort in the Swiss Alps.”

These insults added a personal element to the decision facing Democratic senators. With Republicans hooting down the Democrats’ last presidential nominee, as well as a longtime Senate colleague, crossing the aisle to support Bush’s Supreme Court nominee suddenly had the bitter taste of an act of political treason.


They have been strutting like high stepping chorus boys all week-end, shrieking with hysterical laughter and high-fiving like mad. If I could do nothing else, I'd force these bastards to wait until Wednesday for a vote, regardless of the outcome. Deny the arrogant fucks a quorum and watch them have a full-on hissy fit on the day of the speech. Maybe they can even get Mrs Alito to pump out another fake tear or two.




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Katrina Needs Glasses

by digby

Katrina Vanden Heuvel, who I love, is taking the liberal blogosphere to task for its outraged fury over picking Tim Kaine for the Democratic rebuttal at the SOTU. (Was there a fury and nobody invited me? I'm hurt.) I know I said "feel the magic" when it was announced, but I wouldn't call that a fury. A little snarky, maybe. But you know, I can only get really furious 27.3 times a week or I get low blood sugar and Kaine just didn't make the cut for me.

Apparently Ezra was a little bit more than snarky and Katrina got snarky right back:

Liberal writer Ezra Klein (no Brad Pitt, last time I checked him out) vented that Kaine is "a squat, squinty, pug-nosed fellow."


Now I told you that I love Katrina and I do. But she has gone too far here. I know Ezra Klein and you can say what you will about his writing, his politics or even his little American Prospect friends --- but don't say he is no Brad Pitt. This is crazy talk. He's almost as pretty as Katrina herself.


Ezra:


Katrina:


Tim Kaine:



Update: I see that Jane, Mrs TBOGG and David E have weighed in on this important matter as well, thank heavens. Case closed.



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Thrill Ride

by digby

Glenn Greenwald points to this op-ed in today's NY Times which points out something that many of us have been hammering for years, namely that Islamic fundamentatlist terrorism is not an existential threat. (That's not to say that violent fundamentalism isn't threatening, but the problem cannot be solved with warfare --- sadly, it's much more complicated than that.)

The oceans never protected us. I guess our president with his degree in history from Yale, doesn't know that the British live across the oceans and sailed over to burn down the White House in 1812. Or that we have lived under the nuclear unbrella for more than 50 years. All those drills when I was a kid were for the exercise.

And this is not a "different kinda war" or "World War IV" or any other type of war. And allowing it to be called a "war" is a grave mistake that we probably can't go back and undo. And unfortunately, we now know that mere unleashing of the word "war" can kick in a whole bunch of executive powers that nobody ever knew existed.

I have thought about what it is that 9/11 really evokes in people. It is assumed that it is fear, and I think that most people probably interpret it that way. Glenn attributes it, in part, to the success of bin Laden's terrorist tactics:

The cause of this irrationality, this inability to view the terrorism threat with any perspective, is not a mystery. Terrorists like Al Qaeda deliberately stage attacks which are designed to instill fear in the population far beyond what is warranted by the actual threat-level posed by the terrorists. That's the defining tactic and objective of terrorists. Fortunately for the terrorists, in the United States, Al Qaeda has a powerful ally in this goal: the Bush Administration, which for four years has, along with Al Qeada, worked ceaselessly to instill in Americans an overarching and excessive fear of terrorism.


That may be true, but I don't see a society that is truly fearful. I've been to countries that were at war. And life always goes on to some extent. But this country does not feature the psychological traits of a country that is really at war or one that really fears terrorism in any palpable way. It features the psychological traits of a country watching a horror movie, which is not the same thing at all. You certainly see this in the fevered one-handed war blogging and the endless evocations of pre-9/11 and post 9/11 thinking reminds me of nothing so much as people who are hooked on a stimulating drug.

Of course we all felt real fear in the early days, none so much as those who lived in New York and DC. It was almost unbelievable to see those scenes. But there was a sense of spectacle and drama about it that was literally unreal to those of us who watched it on television. This was fear put to music, with dramatic title treatments and a soaring voice-over. Because of that, on some level, 9/11 was a thrill for many people, even some Democrats. It was sad and horrifying, of course, but it was also stimulating, exciting and memorable because of the way it was presented on television. (When we were talking about this, Jane described it as if "the whole country was watching porn together every time the rerun of the towers falling was broadcast.") And we subsequently fetishized the "war on terrorism" to the point where some people become inexplicably excited whenever it is mentioned. They want that big group grope again, that sense of shared sensation. That is the "fear" that people say they have. And it's why they want to vote for the guy who keeps pumping it into the body politic.

It's why the "war on terrorism" still has some potency for the Republicans that the very ugly, very real war in Iraq does not. We can't lose the "war on terrorism" because it isn't a real war. Unfortunately, because we have allowed those words to be used, we have opened the door for authoritarian Republicans to assume the powers of a dictator under its auspices.

Greenwald and Ellis both argue very persuasively that islamic fundamentalist terrorism does not present an existential threat to our country. I think that idea is beginning to get some traction in the national security debates. I don't know how long it might take to break this country out of its shared fetish for the "war on terrorism" but perhaps it's time to start addressing that as well. Until we finally admit that we aren't "at war" by any real definition of that term, we are going to be hamstrung in addressing the very real national security challenges we do face.

I haven't the vaguest idea how to do it, though. This nation is on the "war on terrorism" thrill ride and is enjoying it so much they've bought a season pass. And like most thrill rides these days, after the first little while I start to feel nauseated.



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Gnocchi

by digby

What I learned on Press the Meat this morning:

The Republicans' numbers are in the dirt but they are going to win decisively on the optimistic issues of endless war and endless debt. The Democrats' numbers are substantially better but they will never win anything because they are icky.

The NSA illegal spying scandal is good for Republicans because there is no evidence that the president has ever used it for political purposes.

No word on the federal case against two close presidential advisors who are accused of exposing a clandestine CIA agent for political purposes.

Bill Frist has the charisma of day old gnocchi.



.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

 
Unconcerned About Bin laden

by digby

MYDD has part two of their poll up and it's quite interesting. It seems that Republicans aren't very worried about Osama bin laden. But then, neither does their president:



"I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him. ... I truly am not that concerned about him."




Just what are they so bedwetting afraid of then?





Update: Also check out this boffo MYDD post by Matt Stoller.



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Republican Moolah

by digby

If you read nothing else this week-end, check out this report from the American Prospect that demolishes the theory that the Abramoff scandal is bi-partisan.

The analysis, which was commissioned by The American Prospect and completed on Jan. 25, was done by Dwight L. Morris and Associates, a for-profit firm specializing in campaign finance that has done research for many media outlets.

In the weeks since Abramoff confessed to defrauding tribes and enticing public officials with bribes, the question of whether Abramoff directed donations just to Republicans, or to the GOP and Democrats, has been central to efforts by both parties to distance themselves from the unfolding scandal. President Bush recently addressed the question on Fox News, saying: “It seems to me that he [Abramoff] was an equal money dispenser, that he was giving money to people in both political parties.”

Although Abramoff hasn’t personally given to any Democrats, Republicans, including officials with the GOP campaign to hold on to the Senate, have seized on the donations of his tribal clients as proof that the saga is a bipartisan scandal. And the controversy recently spread to the media when the ombudsman for The Washington Post, Deborah Howell, ignited a firestorm by wrongly asserting that Abramoff had given to both. She eventually amended her assessment, writing that Abramoff “directed his client Indian tribes to make campaign contributions to members of Congress from both parties.”

But the Morris and Associates analysis, which was done exclusively for The Prospect, clearly shows that it’s highly misleading to suggest that the tribes's giving to Dems was in any way comparable to their giving to the GOP. The analysis shows that when Abramoff took on his tribal clients, the majority of them dramatically ratcheted up donations to Republicans. Meanwhile, donations to Democrats from the same clients either dropped, remained largely static or, in two cases, rose by a far smaller percentage than the ones to Republicans did. This pattern suggests that whatever money went to Democrats, rather than having been steered by Abramoff, may have largely been money the tribes would have given anyway.


Gosh, that must be why he said this:


‘I wish those moronic Tiguas were smarter in their political contributions. I'd love us to get our mitts on that moolah!! Oh well, stupid folks get wiped out.’


Doh.

Can somebody get this to Tim Russert because he's under the impression that this is a bi-partisan scandal.



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Conviction Politics

by digby

I just saw a very interesting exchange on FOX News. The designated Democrat was Bob Beckel, the other two were typical faceless wingnut gasbags and I can't remember their names.

When asked how the Democrats could make such a stupid mistake by allowing Kerry to call for a filibuster (the two wingnuts giggling like schoolgirls at the question) Beckel replied something like this (I'm paraphrasing)

"Now you know that in this enviroment if a Democratic president nominated a pro-choice, pro-affirmative action, pro-government secrecy judge to the high court that many Republicans would want to filibuster. Sometimes politicans do things out of conviction and many Democrats are supporting a filibuster because they really believe that he should not be on the Supreme Court."

The wingnuts were very taken aback by that statement, one of them replying: "Well, that's putting the best possible face on it."

Indeed it is. It's one of the big issues lurking beneath this Alito fight. The Republicans know very well that their future depends upon Americans continuing to see Democrats as weak and lacking in conviction. That's all they've got.

The chattering classes are all very sure that the Democrats have made a grave mistake on Alito. According to reports in the press, many insider Democrats believe this too. I believe they are wrong. This may look like a ragged strategy in some respects, but it is good for us to be seen doing things that have no obvious political advantage and for which we can legitimately claim to have taken the moral high ground. Yes, the tittering congnoscenti will flutter their fans and whisper that Democrats are witless and dull, but in this case we are talking directly to the people not to them. They have no idea anymore that a world exists out here where poltical calculation is beside the point.

Regardless of how this comes out in the end, and we don't know until the votes are cast, this may be seen as a defining moment for the Democratic Party. When a calculating political creature like Dianne Feinstein rushes to support a filibuster rather than reaffirm her opposition once conventional wisdom says a filibuster will fail, is meaningful. Democratic politicians (if not their moribund strategists) are feeling the pressure from the people to do the right thing.

Voters are still working hard this week-end to convince Democrats to support the filibuster. You can get action items and information at Kos, The Agonist and Democrats.com .

And ... I know that it is somewhat unpopular to say this, and I will get a ration of angry comments for suggesting it, but I'm doing it anyway. If any of the following are your Senators, think about taking a minute to thank them for announcing they will support the filibuster. They are being ridiculed and scorned by everybody in the beltway for being dimwitted tools of the angry left or craven political opportunists. It seems to me that if we tell them we like it when they act out of conviction, they'll do it more often. I still think we should get their back on this:

1. Barbara Boxer (D- CA)
2. Dianne Feinstein (D- CA)
3. Christopher J. Dodd (D- CT)
4. Richard J. Durbin (D- IL)
5. John F. Kerry (D- MA)
6. Edward M. Kennedy (D- MA)
7. Paul S. Sarbanes (D- MD)
8. Debbie A. Stabenow (D- MI)
9. Harry Reid (D- NV)
10. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D- NY)
11. Charles Schumer (D- NY)
12. Ron Wyden (D- OR)
13. Russell D. Feingold (D- WI)
14. Barack Obama (D-IL)
15. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)




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Harper's In February

by tristero

You really should grab the February issue of Harper's. They don't post much online so they kinda get short shrift in Blogworld, but in this issue there is an hilarious, brilliant first person account of the Dover "intelligent design" creationism trial by none other than Darwin's very own great-great grandson.

And there's also a superbly written, heartbreaking, infuriating account of the trials of Lynddie England and the other "bad apples" at Abu Ghraib, trials that took place in a legal atmosphere so deliberately disconnected from the reality of the tortures that, as the article points out in a heart-stopping passage, someone got away with murder at Abu Ghraib.

Must reads, both of them.
 
Posted Without Comment

by tristero

New York Times:
Human rights organizations and the co-chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus protested on Thursday a decision by the Bush administration to back a measure introduced by Iran denying two gay rights groups a voice at the United Nations.

In a vote Monday, the United States supported Iran's recommendation to deny consultative status at the United Nations' Economic and Social Council to the Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians and the International Lesbian and Gay Association, based in Belgium.

Nearly 3,000 nongovernmental organizations have such status, which enables them to distribute documents to meetings of the council.

Among countries with which the United States sided were Cuba, Sudan and Zimbabwe, nations the State Department has cited in annual reports for their harsh treatment of homosexuals.

[snip]

Mark P. Lagon, a deputy assistant secretary of state, said in an interview that the vote did not stem from "being against gay rights groups" but was based on "the controversial history of the International Lesbian and Gay Association — an affiliate of the North American Man/Boy Love Association, was associated with it in the past and openly condoned pedophilia."

Scott Long, a Human Rights Watch director, said that the association had publicly expelled the man/boy group in 1994.

Friday, January 27, 2006

 
Mau-mauing the Media

by digby

Jane points me to this wildly enjoyable recounting of a close encounter between the barbarian bloggers and the Beltway Quilting Bee and Ladies Circle Jerk Society, also known as the DC press corps. My goodness, it sounds as if somebody got up on the wrong side of the fainting couch that morning.

I've been writing a lot lately about how the mainstream media internalize the criticisms of their right wing critics. I suspect they are always subconsciously seeking ways to prove that they aren't actually liberal --- and the more liberals in general are demonized, the more they want to distance themselves from us.

I've also been trying to show how it looks from our side: years of relentless violent eliminationist right wing rhetoric toward liberals goes unnoticed or unremarked upon and yet a few hundred hostile e-mails to the Washington Post ombudsman turns the whole town into a tizzy. The liberal blogosphere is thus turned into a rampaging vulgarian force while the relentless cacophany of wealthy right wing gasbags continues to go out to tens of millions of people unabated, undisturbed and unnoticed by the media cognoscenti.

How can that be, we wonder? Why, after all these years of being called every name in the book by the conservatives, can the "so-called liberal media" be upset when the liberals use very mild tactics in comparison to what has been happening on the right?

Perhaps this is why:








It is another right wing meme that has been absorbed by the mainstream media.

Here's Michelle:

From the Inside Flap
Un·hinged

adj : affected with madness or insanity; [syn: brainsick, crazy, demented, distracted, disturbed, mad, sick, unbalanced]

- The American Heritage Dictionary

*** Warning: Unhinged liberals are hazardous to the nation’s health.

They’re slashing your tires. Burning your lawns. Heaving pies at Republican pundits. Hurling racist epithets at minority conservatives. Nursing nutty conspiracy theories. And pining publicly for the murder of President Bush.

And they call us crazy?

In Unhinged: Liberals Gone Wild, Michelle Malkin plays conservative Margaret Mead to the alien political creatures of the American Left. With uproarious detail and rollicking reportage, Malkin chronicles the bizarre world of leftists gone mad in their natural habitats: the mainstream media, academia, Hollywood, and Washington.

Unhinged unmasks liberals who’ve completely abandoned rationality and reality. They’re taking chainsaws and bayonets to campaign signs. Running down political opponents with their cars. Setting fire to political opponents in effigy. Defacing war memorials. Swiping yellow ribbons off cars. And supporting the fragging of American troops.


Michele didn't come up with this on her own. It's a consciously applied meme for specific purposes. All these books allegedly about liberals called "Slander" "Treason" and "Unhinged" would have been written no matter what we did. It's how they control the mainstream media. After all, they've been calling the media liberal for more than a quarter century. They're talking about them as much as they are talking about us. And reporters don't like that. They have to live in that town.

Now we can deal with this two ways. We can be quiet and respectful and try to prove to the mainstream media that we aren't the crazed, violent freaks that Michelle says we are.

Dear Ms. Howell,

Would you be so kind as to check your facts regarding the Abramoff scandal.I think you are mistaken. I do not believe that Mr Abramoff personally gave any contributions to Democrats. Indeed, the evidence suggests that he was part of a long running Republican plan to create a political machine that exclusively funneled money from business to elected Republicans and back again.


I would very much appreciate anything you can do to clear this up. Thanks ever so much for all your hard work.

sincerely,

a nice liberal


meanwhile:


Deb,

I received a call today from Karl Rove on double secret-super-duper-deep backround. He was hopping mad. He says this Abramoff thing is a bi-partisan scandal and we're going to be embarrassed when it comes out that certain Democrats are the dirtiest Abramoff guys in town. I told him I'd look into it and get back to him.

I'm not suggesting you change your reporting. You are the ombudsman, after all. Just make extra sure you have all the facts and tell both sides of the story. The White House is riding my ass big time.


Len Downie

See you later at Sally and Ben's picnic. I hear Lynn Cheney's bringing her famous chili and Russert's going to sing.


And then there's this:

"Liberals can't just come out and say they want to take our money, kill babies and discriminate on the basis of race."


That's how it becomes "he said/she said" and "stay tuned" and why the words "crazy liberal" just rolls off their lips. The right has mau-maued the press by going aggressively in their face with everything they've got every time they write a word that can cause them trouble. And back in the day, they carefully fed the press the kind of tabloid scandal stories that made good copy and caused ratings to rise. They work this stuff from all angles.

We can be nice liberals and continue that highly successful strategy (for them) or we, the great unwashed blogosphere, can mau-mau the media into being accountable for what they write. It isn't pretty --- they are calling us nasty names and everything. But for the first time in memory we actually have a vehicle for pushing back from the other side and we literally represent millions of people who are willing to take the time to join the fight. That's powerful juju.

Over time, they will see that we are actually giving them an excuse to lean the other way. When Karl calls up Len, he can say that liberals are on the rampage --- what does he want him to do, ignore his own readers? We liberal bloggers and readers can produce some ballast on the other side so that the press has a way to resist the wingnuts.

This is a huge change and everyone involved is going to resist. Tonight they were talking about the "angry left on both coasts" on Lehrer, as if we aren't real Americans again. That's nonsense, as we know. My traffic comes from all over the country, much of it deep in the heart of Red America. They don't know what they are dealing with.



Update: Jim VandeHei has written an interesting piece in the Post today about how we barbarians fit into the Democratic infrastructure. (Short answer: they don't know what to think about us. They love our money and they need our energy. They just don't like it that we have dug in our heels and refuse to move any further to the right. It means they have to rethink their whole strategy.)

And I think this is largely correct:


The closest historic parallel would be the talk-radio phenomenon of the early 1980s, when conservatives -- like liberals now -- felt powerless and certain they did not have a way to voice their views because the mainstream media and many of their own leaders considered them out of touch. Through talk radio, often aired in rural parts of the country on the AM dial, conservatives pushed the party to the right on social issues and tax cuts.

The question Democrats will debate over the next few years is whether the prevailing views of liberal activists on the war, the role of religion in politics and budget policies will help or hinder efforts to recapture the presidency and Congress.


We can't do any worse, now can we?


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Flip-Flopping Fredo

by digby

The Carpetbagger reports that preznit Bush has adopted candidate John Kerry's "ignorant" and "dangerously wrong" proposed policy toward Iran.

And some of the preznit's supporters are all confused:. Apparently they were under the misapprehension that Junior Codpiece had some sort of coherent philosophy.


President Bush's endorsement of a plan to end the nuclear standoff with Iran by giving the Islamic republic nuclear fuel for civilian use under close monitoring has left some of his supporters baffled.

One cause for the chagrin is that the proposal, which is backed by Russia, essentially adopts a strategy advocated by Mr. Bush's Democratic opponent in the 2004 election, Senator Kerry of Massachusetts.

"I have made it clear that I believe that the Iranians should have a civilian nuclear power program under these conditions: that the material used to power the plant would be manufactured in Russia, delivered under IAEA inspectors to Iran to be used in that plant, the waste of which will be picked up by the Russians and returned to Russia," Mr. Bush said at a news conference yesterday. "I think that is a good plan. The Russians came up with the idea and I support it," he added.



I'll let you click over to the Carpetbagger for the punchline.

Sigh.




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Straight Answers

by digby


A few weeks ago MYDD put out a call for contributions to finance a poll. There was tremendous frustration at the time, if you'll recall, at the reticence of the major pollsters to ask questions that were deemed politically incorrect or beyond conventional wisdom. And considering that the major media's long standing habit of assuming the GOP dominant narrative, they wanted to verify their numbers.

That's why Chris Bowers and Matt Stoller over at MYDD went out of their way to engage a credible pollster with impeccable credentials and pledged to let the chips fall where they may. We want real information guiding strategy, not push polls or partisan slant. This is for real. Today, the first results are in.

These first numbers are not surprising. They track with what we've seen in all the other major polls. But over the next few days, the rest of the poll will be rolled out and we will probably see some questions asked and answered that we haven't seen before. And perhaps we will gain some understanding of where the electorate stands on so many of the issues we discuss here in the blogosphere every day.

As Lil' Debbie Howell would say: Stay Tuned.



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Flower Shops and Bodegas

by digby


Via Crooks and Liars

What planet does this man live on?


MATTHEWS: Welcome back. Antonio—Antonio Villaraigosa?

MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA (D), LOS ANGELES: Villaraigosa.

MATTHEWS: Villaraigosa. Is the first Latino mayor of Los Angeles since, catch this, 1872. He's also been picked, more importantly, to deliver the Spanish-speaking response to the president's State of the Union address next week. Well, the big question is, will it sound different in a different language, your response, from the Democrats' response of the Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia?

VILLARAIGOSA: Well, the answer is I made it absolutely clear that I had to have control of the editorial content of this response, since it's mine. And I thought it's important—I think any message should be a hopeful message, a positive message, one that speaks to the American dream for more people.

MATTHEWS: What's the difference in tenor when you speak in English and Spanish? Is there more of a—a more of a—I don't want to be derogatory, but I know it sounds better. It's more upbeat? It's more positive? What would be—call it—more romantic?

VILLARAIGOSA: No, I try to—well, first of all, I was born in the U.S., so my English is a lot stronger than my Spanish, but I say that the message is the same


Is he drunk? The State of the Union response will sound more romantic in spanish? Jesus H.Christ. Maybe we can get Marc Antony and J-Lo to sing the motherfucker, Chris. With a taco in one hand and a pinata in the other.

This is why we cannot have people ever thinking this man is a Democrat. It's rich, pampered beltway bubble boys like him who are killing us.

But that wasn't all. Tweety, the voice of the manly working man, had this to say about immigrants:


MATTHEWS: When I think of people who have come to this country from other countries where they speak Spanish—Puerto Rico is not another country, but it's the commonwealth—hardest working people, they are extremely entrepreneurial. If it's just owning a flower ship, it's owning a small business, a bodega, right? Puerto Ricans come to this country to start business. Cubans certainly come here to start businesses. The hardest working people in the United States are people who just got here from Mexico, the first day they get here. Everybody knows—they don't want a big social democracy. They want free enterprise and entrepreneurialism, don't they?

VILLARAIGOSA: I think what they want...

MATTHEWS: They sound like they're natural Republicans to me.



That's certainly the first time I've heard "needing to earn a dollar so I can eat today" described as being "entrepreneurial." Or Republican.

Poor people are natural Republicans because they work hard to survive. I assume the opposite is true as well. Rich people are natural Democrats because they sit on their asses all day like parasites living off of other people's hard work. No? Oh that's right. Rich people are the most productive people in the economy so they shouldn't be asked to pay a fair share of their income --- because they'd lose their motivation to work so hard. See how this works? Everybody who works or hires people who work is a natural Republican in Tweety's world. Fifty percent of the nation just doesn't know it. Except for the fags, of course. And the bitches. And the blacks.

Tweety likes to see himself as a man of the people and he is. He's a man of the rich celebrity people. But even in his little beltway bubble he still has his finger on the pulse of one fine group of regular Americans: the bigots:

The mayor got a firsthand look at the different values held by some Americans as he was peppered with questions about immigration from callers on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal."

After saying that Los Angeles is not going to follow the lead of Costa Mesa and involve police officers more in identifying illegal immigrants, a caller from Arkansas said not enough was being done to counter illegal immigration.

The woman declared: "It's only after the influx of illegals that you were elected, sir. How is this possible?"

Clearly stunned, Villaraigosa responded, "Are you kidding?" After a long silence, he added, "I was born in the United States."


The mayor of the second biggest city in the nation has to inform bigoted assholes from Arkansas and big money celebrities on MSNBC alike that he was born in America and English is his first language. Unbelievable.


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Thin Skin Tim

by digby


I hear the High Priest of Kewl Kid High is all upset that Arianna is reporting that the Carville radio talk show The Monsignor promoted on his show this past week-end is being produced by his own son --- a fact which he omitted. But then he has a habit of omitting information --- like the dozens of discussions on his show about the Plame leak without telling his viewers that he was a primary witness, for instance. (He's since revealed that a reporter has no ethical obligation to tell the public what he knows if doing so might harm his relationships with his social class.)

But this thing with his son really is beyond the pale. How could Arianna delve into his private life like this ... into his family for crying out loud? This is his son who has been outed as a radio producer on the pages of the mighty Huffington Post. For shame.

Of course there are times when it's absolutely necessary to drag the family into it, as in this case: Russert's first exchange with presidential candidate Howard Dean in his first appearance on Meet The Press in 2003 (via the Daily Howler)


RUSSERT: You said that your son got in a scrap. He was arrested for driving a car in which some of his friends broke into a beer cooler and stole some beer—

DEAN: Right.

RUSSERT: —and was indicted. How are you—

DEAN: He hasn’t been indicted, but he—

RUSSERT: Cited.

DEAN: He’s been cited, right.


Howard Dean had no expectation that his teenage son's mortifying lapse in judgment would not be talked about on Press The Meat. I'm sure he was prepared for it, although he might have thought that something more important would open the discussion (or at least that Russert wouldn't claim his high school aged kid was indicted.) Still, it's part of the game, and public families know what they are getting into. Everybody is just doing their jobs, no matter how sleazy.

But apparently, if someone points out that Father Tim is shilling for his kid's show on Press The Meat without revealing his son's involvement, it's out of bounds, deserving of a full PR push back from NBC News replete with sour grapes from none other than professional Republican sleazebag, Ed Rollins.

Interesting ethics you've got there, padre. I must have missed that day in Aquinas class.


Check out the Tim Russert Blog. Leave a comment and help push it to the top of Google search. His Holiness is a busy man and his assistants don't have time to search for all the things people say about him. Let's make it easy for him.



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Thursday, January 26, 2006

 
What A Coincidence

by digby

So, Via Talk Left, I see that the lead prosecutor in the Abramoff case is leaving because Bush has appointed him to a federal judgeship:

The prosecutor, Noel L. Hillman, is chief of the department's public integrity division, and the move ends his involvement in an inquiry that has reached into the administration as well as the top ranks of the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill.

....Colleagues at the Justice Department say Mr. Hillman has been involved in day-to-day management of the Abramoff investigation since it began almost two year ago. The inquiry, which initially focused on accusations that Mr. Abramoff defrauded Indian tribes out of tens of millions of dollars in lobbying fees, is being described within the department as the most important federal corruption investigation in a generation.


Shumer and Salazar are calling for a special prosecutor.

When I read this a minute ago, I was reminded of a similar story from a month ago:


The Florida prosecutor investigating radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh will soon be weighing cases rather than prosecuting them.

Gov. Jeb Bush has announced Assistant State Attorney James Martz has been appointed a Palm Beach County judge, filling a vacancy left after this year's legislative session.




TOM

Senator Cauly apologized for not coming personally -- he said you'd understand. Also, some of the judges. They've all sent gifts.

(then, toasting to the Don)

Salute!





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Whirlwind

by digby


With all of my politicking today I failed to note this unbelievable development in the mid-east: the terrists won an election in Palestine. And they won big time.

What does this mean for the preznits cartoon foreign policy? Here I thought that democracy was all like magic 'n shit and we were spreadin' freedom to everybody so they'd love us.

Here's Juan Cole:


How do you like your democracy now, Mr. Bush?


Jan. 27, 2006 | The stunning victory of the militant Muslim fundamentalist Hamas Party in the Palestinian elections underlines the central contradictions in the Bush administration's policies toward the Middle East. Bush pushes for elections, confusing them with democracy, but seems blind to the dangers of right-wing populism. At the same time, he continually undermines the moderate and secular forces in the region by acting high-handedly or allowing his clients to do so. As a result, Sunni fundamentalist parties, some with ties to violent cells, have emerged as key players in Iraq, Egypt and Palestine.

Democracy depends not just on elections but on a rule of law, on stable institutions, on basic economic security for the population, and on checks and balances that forestall a tyranny of the majority. Elections in the absence of this key societal context can produce authoritarian regimes and abuses as easily as they can produce genuine people power. Bush is on the whole unwilling to invest sufficiently in these key institutions and practices abroad. And by either creating or failing to deal with hated foreign occupations, he has sown the seeds for militant Islamist movements that gain popularity because of their nationalist credentials.


[...]

Bush has boxed himself into an impossible situation. He promoted elections that have produced results opposite of the ones he wanted. For all his constant rhetoric about his determination to hunt down and kill terrorists, in Palestine he has in effect helped install into power a group he calls "terrorists." His confusion over whether this is democracy, which should be legitimate, or is an unacceptable outcome -- and his unwillingness to address the underlying issues behind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- suggest that a fatal paralysis will continue to afflict the region.


The man who is planning to run the mid-terms on his great success as a wartime president just facilitated the first elected Islamic terrorist government and delegitimized moderates throughout the region. That's quite an achievement.

Here's what the commentators were saying tonight on Lehrer. (Both of them looked like they were giong to shoot themselves right after the show was over.)


KHALIL JAHSHAN: I think the program that the president has been advocating has definitely suffered as a consequence of these elections. There is a big question mark right now on a program that was hastily put together post 9/11 without thinking of the consequences of this type of advocacy of democracy without tilling the ground, if you will, or tilling the soil to allow that type of democracy to grow and to be able to nurture it from a distance. These results, I think, made that criticism a lot more credible and more forceful today than yesterday.

[...]

MARTIN INDYK: Basically, look, I agree that recently we've heard the last few days some interesting statements from Olmert at the Herzliya Conference, some of the Hamas leaders during the election showing some hope that one could build on. But frankly this is deja vu in the sense that these results I think have set us back probably 20 if not 30 years.

We're going to go back to again negotiating over charters and negotiating over removing the destruction of this party by the other party. And so there is -- the chances of two parties who have conducted ten years of negotiations coming back to the table and restarting their negotiations from where things stopped right now are much dimmer. These chances are much dimmer and much slimmer than anticipated.


I'm sure all the warbloggers have been feverishly typing "bring it on!" all day. But this is actually very serious stuff and it is a direct result of a simpleminded American policy. It isn't the first failure and it is going to be far from the last. You cannot successfully run the world on comic book slogans and third rate biblical homilies. When the Supreme Court installed a halfwit in the oval office we reaped the whirlwind.

Oh, and in case anyone's thinking that this really wasn't in the hands of Americans:

MARTIN INDYK: ... And, by the way, one should say in this regard, that there was an opportunity to postpone the election. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the PA wanted to do so. But this administration insisted that it go ahead.



When it comes to elections, there is nothing more sacred to a Republican than an arbitrary, meaningless deadline.



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Learning To Lose Well

by digby


I hope some of the comments I'm reading around the blogosphere aren't reflections of of a knee jerk cynicism on the part of Democrats who have fallen in love with their assessment that they are superior to their elected leaders. This is a very dangerous state of mind.

John Kerry stepped up today. Apparently, that isn't enough for some. He is still a "loser" in their eyes and is to be shunned. He didn't do it soon enough. Or he didn't do it right. Or he is nothing but a political opportunist. I'm beginning to think that some Democrats have gotten attached to their vision of Democrats as losers so they won't be emotionally shattered anymore. That's understandable. It's painful to get beaten. But, the rank and file need to step up too and be willing to lose and not hate ourselves or our leaders for it. How we lose on issues like this makes the difference for the future.

Sustaining a filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee is a huge undertaking with the numbers we have. (Read Kos' Reality Check on this.) It's worth doing anyway because it's important to stand up for principles. We can "lose well" by beginning to make a case to the American people that we believe in something other than splitting the difference. And we might just pull it off. Either way, we make the country (and the media) see that there are lines that we won't cross.

But the way some people are acting, if we now lose this one it will be seen by the grassroots as just another example of Democratic fecklessness, even Kerry's fecklessness, which is self-defeating and unfair. If we carp when our elected politicans take risks just as we carp when they don't take risks, they have no motivation to listen to us at all.

Kerry and Kennedy stepped up today. They aren't going down without a fight. This is worth doing and if we lose it, we should reward them and those who stood with them with our gratitude and support not another round of complaints about how they are a bunch of losers.

Go vote in this stupid CNN poll and give Kerry some props for doing something out of conviction. This isn't a big winner for him and he didn't have to do it. We need to let our politicans know we have their back when they take a stand.



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Heterosexually Yours

by digby

The General is passing the collection plate. He sits on the right hand of Republican Jesus, so helping him is the same as helping the Lord.


A General's Prayer:


Lord, please bless the State Security Apparatus, that it might conduct it's wiretaps to the best of its abilities. Provide Our Leader with the ability to look into our bedrooms, so that He might catch French politicians putting their little soldiers in ladies' mouths and watch celebrities doing it. And Lord, let him share those videos with godly men like myself, who may then rail against these evils from our pulpits.

And bless our interrogators and their glowsticks and electrified nipple clamps of freedom. Provide them with the ability to induce pain as close as possible to that experienced during organ failure without quite equaling it.

And give us the ability to kill brown people more efficiently, so that our contractors may garner more fruit from their labor.


Praise Be.



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Filibuster!

by digby


John Kerry is calling for a filibuster of Alito. Flood your Senators' offices with phone calls now.

Here are the phone numbers.

Might I make a special appeal for Califronia voters to make a forceful appeal to our Senator Dianne Feinstein. She is supposed to be a voice for women in the Senate and right now she is a voice for lukewarm water. Let her know that her constituents demand that she represent the people of California's support for a women's right to choose and a judiciary of fairminded jurists, not Federalist Society fascists.

(202) 224-3841---Washington
(415) 393-0707---San Francisco
(310) 914-7300---L.A.
(619) 231-9712---San Diego
(559) 485-7430---Fresno



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Men Of Principle

by digby


The Editors deconstruct the Deborah Howell story as only they can. An excerpt, regarding those who bemoan the new leftist barbarity:

When one is an Elder Statesman of the American media, and when one can’t be bothered to look into the particular details of some issue, it is never a bad idea to fall back on Ecclesiastes, and remind the readers - in a tone as wise and weary as you can muster - that the seasons change and the winds blow now this way, now that, turn turn turn, but there is nothing new under the Sun. As there was a time of saying Clinton was a coke-dealing Commie and a serial rapist, now comes the time of saying that George W. Bush shouldn’t run secret torture prisons. Men of Principle lament both of these equally, for they are just two sides of the same lamentable coin. Vanity of vanity, all of it. Can’t we just play nice?


Amen.
 
Political Fandango

by digby


I know that Atrios and others have already discussed this, but it's such an obvious example of Tweety bullshit that I have to pile on.

Matthews yesterday claimed that an ad about GOP corruption implied incorrectly that DeLay was charged with bribery:


MATTHEWS: Dana, you've got to love it. This is America in action. Have you noticed in the Democrat ad, though, they do a close-up on Tom DeLay and they said "bribery"? Well, that's not a charge against Tom DeLay. His charge is this thing about hard money, soft money. It's a political little bit of a fandango. But nobody's accused him yet of bribery. But that ad sure does.


The problem is that it clearly doesn't. The ad shows a picture of DeLay when they say "money laundering" and a picture of Abramoff when they say "bribery."

This is the kind of stuff Matthews does all the time. Just recently he had really bizarre hissy fit about Alito:


MATTHEWS: Well, I don't know, I mean the Democrats, I've got a, I'm sitting here holding in my hands a pretty disgusting document. This is a, uh, put out for not for attribution, but it comes from the Democrats. They're circulating it, I can say that. And in their complaint sheet against Judge Alito's nomination, the first thing they nail about this Italian-American is he failed to win a mob conviction in a trial 20 years ago or -- way back in '88. In other words, they nail him on not putting, putting some mobst -- Italian mobsters in jail, the Lucchese family. Why would they bring up this ethnically charged issue as the first item they raise against Judge Alito? This is either a bad, a very bad coincidence, or very bad politics. And either way, it's going to hurt them. This document -- not abortion rights, not civil rights, the fact he failed to nail some mobsters back in 1988. And this is at the top of their list of what they got against this guy. Amazingly bad politics.


He was so way out there on that one, that it didn't even get traction among the Republicans. The document was about Alito being a lousy lawyer, which was clear when you read it ---- unless you are Chris Matthews, of course, whose world is filled with people who love Bush for his sunny nobility and lying Democrats who slime fine public servants like the "moderate living" Tom Delay for crimes they didn't commit. He is living in Bush's bubble.



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Gentleman's Agreement

by digby

Maureen Dowd is the Queen Bee of the Kewl Kidz. And she is one of those most responsible for the media's current narrative of American Politics: Republicans are jocks, Democrats are nerds.

Here's Dowd's nasty and dangerous little sideswipe today:

"As the White House drives its truckload of lies around the country, it becomes ever clearer that Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Al Gore are just not the right people to respond to the administration's national security scare-a-thon."


And whoever does end up speaking for the Democrats will also fall short. In Maureen's world, a Democrat is an object of derision, always. She may put down the Republicans, but she always reinforces the accepted narrative: Republican strong/Democrat weak. She has reduced the whole world into her stifled little junior high dating drama, and her influence is immense. She represents one of the most serious problems Democrats have.

Reed Hundt takes Maureen on today in a scathing post over at TPM. But here's the nut:

In its way, this sorry tale resembles that of many other erstwhile liberals in the mainstream media who, when invited to the never-ending Washington cocktail party, have chosen to smile obligingly at the contemptible remarks made about progressives rather than to express repugnance for the viciousness. Ms Dowd is famously shy in person, they say, but in writing she's laughing it up at the bar with the rest of the crowd. The original movie version was Gentlemen's Agreement, starring Gregory Peck.


For those of you who aren't familiar with that movie, here's the pertinent passage from the NY Times review:

This film stars Gregory Peck as recently widowed journalist Phil Green. With a growing son (Dean Stockwell) to support, Green is receptive to the invitation of magazine publisher John Minify (Albert Dekker) to write a series of hard-hitting articles on the scourge of anti-Semitism. In order to glean his information first hand, Green decides to pose as a Jew. As the weeks go by, Green experiences all manner of prejudice, the most insidious being the subtle, "gentleman's agreement" form of bigotry wherein anti-Jewish sentiments are merely taken for granted. Green's pose takes a toll on his budding romance with Minify's niece Kathy (Dorothy McGuire), who comes to realize by her own example that even those who insist that they harbor no anti-Semitic feelings are also capable of prejudic


This is why we out in the hinterland are alarmed by people like Deborah Howell and Chris Matthews. These are people who are not open partisans. Yet by "gentlemean's agreement" they take for granted certain negative assumptions about Democrats and pump them out into the body politic. It has been so internalized that they seem to not even know they are doing it. In a world where toxic liberal-eliminationist rhetoric is openly celebrated as "mainstream" and where liberals are commonly derided as cowardly and denounced as treasonous, this is very disturbing indeed.

I'm sure that most of Washington laughed uproariously when Grover Norquist made this crude characterization of Democrats as animals last January:


Once the minority of House and Senate are comfortable in their minority status, they will have no problem socializing with the Republicans. Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant, but when they've been fixed, then they are happy and sedate. They are contented and cheerful. They don't go around peeing on the furniture and such.


And I'm sure that the same people whose sides were splitting over that hilarious bon mot were nodding their heads in agreement when Lindsay Graham admonished the Democrats to behave with decorum toward Samuel Alito and then fell over with the vapors when readers of the Washington Post rebelled against an ombudsman who refused to acknowledge a biased assumption. Not only are we democrats cowardly and tresonaous, we have no sense of humor, either. That's the curency of the nation's capital.

Many of us out here in the country are seeing a capital that operates in dozens of ways on a Gentleman's Agreement that Democrats are bad. Our values are wrong, our leaders are dishonest, our philosophy is weak, our policies are ridiculous and our beliefs are immoral. The conventional wisdom is crystalizing into prejudice.

Here's Howard Kurtz talking about Rush Limbaugh (via the Daily Howler):

KURTZ: Has Tom Daschle lost a couple of screws?

Did the normally mild-mannered senator accuse Rush Limbaugh of inciting violence?

He came pretty darn close. There were cameras there. You can watch the replay.

We can understand that Daschle is down, just having lost his majority leader’s job and absorbed plenty of blame for this month’s Democratic debacle.

What we can’t understand is how the South Dakotan can suggest that a mainstream conservative with a huge radio following is somehow whipping up wackos to threaten Daschle and his family.

Has the senator listened to Rush lately? Sure, he aggressively pokes fun at Democrats and lionizes Republicans, but mainly about policy. He’s so mainstream that those right-wingers Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert had him on their Election Night coverage.


Here is the commentary Daschle was referring to:

Limbaugh: You seek political advantage with the nation at war. There is no greater testament to the depths to which the Democratic Party and liberalism have fallen. You now position yourself, Senator Daschle, to exploit future terrorist attacks for political gain. You are worse, sir, than the ambulance-chasing tort lawyers that make up your chief contributors. You, sir, are a disgrace. You are a disgrace to patriotism, you are a disgrace to this country, you are a disgrace to the Senate, and you ought to be a disgrace to the Democratic Party but sadly you’re probably a hero among some of them today...

Way to demoralize the troops, Senator! What more do you want to do to destroy this country than what you’ve already tried? [pounding table] It is unconscionable what this man has done! This stuff gets broadcast around the world, Senator. What do you want your nickname to be? Hanoi Tom? Tokyo Tom? You name it, you can have it apparently. You sit there and pontificate on the fact that we’re not winning the war on terrorism when you and your party have done nothing but try to sabotage it, which you are continuing to do. This little speech of yours yesterday, and this appearance of yours on television last night, let’s call it what it is. It’s nothing more than an attempt to sabotage the war on terrorism for your own personal and your party’s political gain. This is cheap. And it’s beneath even you. And that’s pretty low.


In case anyone failed to notice, Daschle lost his next election. And nobody connected the dots, least of all Howard Kurtz or Maureen Dowd, who bask in the glow of establishment approbation for mainstreaming the idea that Democrats are crazy, ineffectual and treasonous.



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