Saturday, April 30, 2005
Interesting History Tidbit
A dear friend of mine, Maia Cowan, passed this on to me:
You know how the Republicans keep calling themselves "the party of Lincoln" and claiming that they're the party of civil rights, because the party was founded as an antislavery party? I've been reading "Don't Know Much About History" by Kenneth C. Davis and came to a screeching halt at this revelation:If anyone wants to look it up, it's on page 204 of both the paperback and hardcover editions."Although the Republicans made antislavery claims that attracted former Free Soilers and other antislavery groups, the party's opposition to extending slavery beyond its existing boundaries came from economic and political reasons rather than from moral outrage. Essentially, the party appealed to the free, white workingman. Its basic tenet was that the American West must be open to free, white labor. Not only were the Republicans opposed to slaves in the West; they wanted all blacks kept out."So they weren't motivated by righteousness or notions of equality. They just wanted to protect white people's jobs from being "outsourced" to blacks, whether slave or free. That little detail about them wanting to keep all blacks out of the new U.S. territories is something we just don't hear about these days.
A White Girl and a Firing Squad
Read this, then call/fax these people: The Yemen Ambassador in the US: Chief of mission: Ambassador Abd al-Wahhab Abdallah al-HAJRI FAX:  (202) 337-2017 Telephone:  (202) 965-4760 Chancery: Suite 705, 2600 Virginia Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037 The US Ambassador to Yemen: Chief of mission: Ambassador Edmund J. HULL Eembassy: Dhahar Himyar Zone, Sheraton Hotel District, Sanaa Mailing address: P. O. Box 22347, Sanaa Telephone:  (1) 303-161 FAX:  (1) 303-182 Then you might want to ask our illustrious American news media why they spent so much time covering the fake "wetbacks kidnapped me" story of a rich white woman, and totally ignored the upcoming judicial murder in Yemen of a girl whose apparent only crime was to be female and fertile. (What the heck, write your Congresscritters while you're at it.) To contact your elected representatives: http://www.congress.org/congressorg/home/ League of Women Voters Media email database: http://www.capwiz.com/lwv/dbq/media/ TV news addresses: http://digbig.com/4bqmq Addresses for major U.S. daily publications/wire services/weekly publications: http://digbig.com/4cqge Major publication addresses by state: http://digbig.com/4bwxw
Friday, April 29, 2005
Surprise, Surprise: Big Media Headlines Tell Truth About Bush's Plans To Slash Social Security Benefits
Over in the Kos diaries, longtime Kos diarist "georgia10" has a roundup of newspaper headlines on Bush's Social Security plan from around the nation. And it's not pretty reading if you're a Bush supporter. No wonder why Bush's spokesgeeks are whining today about how "irresponsible" the media coverage of this has been. I guess in their dictionaries "irresponsible" means "telling the truth". (Update: Here are the WP and NYT front-pagers, thanks to another Kossack. Heheheh.)
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Chris Bowers on DINOs
Bowers makes a persuasive argument that the real DINOs in the Democratic Party are not the DLCers, but the Blue Dogs. And not all of the Blue Dogs are in deep-red areas, either. A few of them, like Ellen Tauscher, are in bluish parts of California.
DeLay: objectively pro-Castro
Our southern neighbors
House MBNA DINOs: Waaaahhhhh! Pelosi's Picking on Us!
As Atrios says, these people are really the biggest bunch of whining losers on the planet. These MBNA DINOs planted an article in Roll Call intended to punish Nancy Pelosi for daring to chastise them for their selling out Joe and Jane Average and making it impossible for most folks to avoid going to the poorhouse if they get sick. As Atrios also says:
Call the offices of Steny Hoyer (202) 225-4131, John Tanner (202) 225-4714, and Ron Kind at (202) 225-5506, and tell them to apologize to Pelosi for being babies and apologize to America for voting for and vocally supporting that bankruptcy bill. Remind them that they did indeed sell out to special interests, we know they did, and we will not stop pointing that out. If they make these decisions, they will be called on it. Hoyer is minority whip. He's obviously unsuited for the job, as he seems uninterested in doing it. Ask him to resign.Oh, and notice that they can't admit that their own constituents were against the damned bill? Or that both the left AND right halves of the blogosphere were solidly against this bill? No, instead they have to say that this mean old cootie queen Pelosi wuz pickin' on them! WAAAAHHH! Quick, get me some more MBNA money so I can use it to paper over my hurt feel-wings!
Today's Word is "Zampolit".
Steve Clemons thinks that John Bolton was spying on Colin Powell, apparently to make sure he toed the PNAC Platoon party line. This wouldn't surprise me in the least if it were so. I seem to recall an incident from last year, right before Powell announced he was leaving the Bush administration, where a woman who was supposed to be one of Powell's subordinates was in fact caught on TV telling him what she wanted him to say to a reporter -- and he was resisting mightily. The Soviets made sure that they had zampolit, or political officers, attached to people of even minimal importance in the power structure. Powell apparently rated at least two of these ideological nannies. ------- UPDATE: Thanks to Anonymous Commenter, I now am reminded who the first Powell minder was -- and guess what? She was one of DeLay's hired gunsels that worked to stop the count in Florida in 2000:
Powell staffer who stopped interview had defended Republican protesters during Florida recount "melee" Emily J. Miller, described on May 18 by The Washington Post as "the controversial press aide" who "ordered a cameraman to stop filming an interview with" Secretary of State Colin Powell from Jordan on NBC's Meet the Press with Tim Russert on May 16, worked as a spokesperson for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) during the 2000 Florida presidential election recount. ... http://mediamatters.org/items/200405190002
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
GOP = The People of the Lie
The Sensenbrenner-approved falsifying of the Democratic amendments to the Let's Penalize Women As Much As We Can Bill has actually made the news. Click here and scroll down a bit: The House bill was approved after acrimonious exchanges in which Democrats accused Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee of grossly distorting their amendments. "I've never seen anything like this," said an incensed New York Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who had offered an amendment exempting grandparents or clergy from prosecution if they helped a girl travel to get an abortion. The committee report described the measure as one that "could be used by sexual predators to escape conviction." Pretty scummy, eh? I wonder what most Republican voters would think of this. As for the bill itself: If this bill had been the law back in 1982, a college classmate of mine would be in prison right now for having had two abortions while outside of her home state. And her Republican parents would be screaming like banshees about the unfairness of it all. See, that's who this law is going to hurt the most in the end. The poorest girls can't even get up the money to go out of state for a week or two anyway, so it's a moot point unless they have very generous friends. Only those with rich -- or at least middle-class -- mommies and daddies can pull this off easily. So it's back to coathangers and pennyroyal tea for these people. I've often heard it said by clinic workers that Republican women who are publicly anti-abortion are their biggest client group. This law is going to hit these women where they live -- literally. No longer will they be able to hypocritically run away to have done what they condemn their poorer and darker-skinned peers for doing. Not unless they're VERY rich, in which case they'll simply move to a state like New York for a few months or jet to someplace overseas.
Speaking of mercury rising...
He's met his match
The British Elections
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Bill Frist. Tony Perkins. David Duke.
Yes, they're all linked together. Max Blumenthal of The Nation shows us how:
Senate majority leader Bill Frist appeared through a telecast as a speaker at "Justice Sunday," at the invitation of the event's main sponsor, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins. "Justice Sunday" was promoted as a rally to portray Democrats as being "against people of faith." Many of the speakers compared the plight of conservative Christians to the civil rights movement. But in sharing the stage with Perkins, who introduced him to the rally, Frist was associating himself with someone who has longstanding ties to racist organizations. Four years ago, Perkins addressed the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), America's premier white supremacist organization, the successor to the White Citizens Councils, which battled integration in the South. In 1996 Perkins paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,000 for his mailing list. At the time, Perkins was the campaign manager for a right-wing Republican candidate for the US Senate in Louisiana. The Federal Election Commission fined the campaign Perkins ran $3,000 for attempting to hide the money paid to Duke.This is why I call them "the religio-racist right", people.
Blogging and the Control Paradox
One of the reasons that I suspect that well-meaning politicans like Russ Feingold want to put limits on blogging is the fear that the right-wing corporate clowns will use their money to dominate the blogosphere the way they do most other spheres of human activity. But there's no way that the right-wingers can pull this off. Why? It has to do what I think of as the control paradox. The secret to effective blogging is to give up some control to get back power and influence many-fold, and conservatives hate anything that isn't tightly controlled. True blogging -- which involves blogs that allow comments -- is two-way and participatory, with the commenters the equals or near-equals of the blogger or bloggers running the site. The GOP and their corporate masters (and their media lackeys) much prefer the top-down system, where they tell the peasants what to do and the peasants go do it. This is why most GOP blogs (especially the ones belonging to GOP politicians) are just glorified vanity sites: They exist because some RNC suit heard about this whole blog thing and wanted a site that he thought would attract the kidz, but is not in the least two-way because he's actually scared to death of the sort of participatory democracy that real blogging is all about. Furthermore, while the conservabloggers themselves may be in perfect command of the Republican Code Language, the right-wing blogs that do allow comments risk letting the commenters (such as Little Green Footballs' infamous "Iron Fist") blow the lid off what the code is meant to conceal: namely, the GOP's racist, sexist, corporatist agenda. (That's why the GOP will publicly embrace PowerLine, which has no comments, while ignoring Little Green Footballs.) Lefty blogs operate from a different premise. They welcome and seek out reader input. In fact, DailyKos is not only the biggest blog around by far (it has more readers than the four biggest conservablogs combined), it's also a way for progressives to communicate and organize, and it's a great way for an increasing number of elected officials to communicate directly with an alert and educated part of the citizenry. It's spawned a whole series of satellite blogs and message boards, and helped change how politics in America is done. This is simply impossible for righties to comprehend, let alone do, because it gives up far too much centralized control and lets in -- gasp! -- the people to the decision-making process. That is why Feingold is wrong to go after the blogs. He thinks that the right-wingers will use blogs better than we can, since they have more money than we do. But he misunderstands how blogs work. The right wing uses thuggery and money to solve its problems. But the Kossacks don't scare easily, and as for money, no righty blog is going to have the effect of DailyKos, no matter how much money is thrown at it, for the simple reason that Kos' strengths have very little to do with money and everything to do with people working together for the common good. Yes, the sheer number of Kossacks means that a ton of money can be raised in a short time. But it's the networking, and the ability to pass around information to a wide audience, that is DailyKos' real strength.
Dobson Backed Filibusters When Clinton Was President
And here's the proof. Me happy today.
Yes, Karl Rove Has Lost It
Otherwise he wouldn't have told the Boy-King to hold the DeLay viper to his bosom, especially if the goal is to revive Bush's dead-in-the-water plan to destroy Social Security. Howard Dean must be over the moon right now: Rove's just given him lots of lovely footage to use in the DNC's 2006 campaign ads.
GOP's Anti-Tax Coalition Starting to Weaken...
... at least in Colorado. David Strom is shaking in his boots now. If Colorado falls, what's to stop the same thing from happening in Minnesota?
"Dirt Sailors": Bushco's misuse of the American military
When Dustin W. Peters, an Air Force supply technician, arrived in Kuwait in January 2004, all he and his fellow airmen knew was that they would be supporting US troops in Iraq. But when their unit received its assignment, they recalled, they were stunned: They would be protecting supply convoys traveling along Iraq's violent roadways....."Airmen are driving trucks in Iraq because the Army didn't have enough of them," Brigadier General S. Taco Gilbert, the Air Force's deputy director for strategic planning, said in a recent interview. "They're manning .50-caliber machine guns."..."We are definitely playing a part that is not a normal Navy role," said Lieutenant Lesley Smith, a Navy spokeswoman. "We have sailors who were assigned to ships [who are instead] guarding oil platforms in the Gulf. These are definitely different roles. We call them dirt sailors." Bryan Bender of the BoGlobe (via The Chimp
Reid 1, Rove 0
Reid's plan (as detailed yesterday by Josh Marshall) worked! For those of you playing at home, Harry Reid, knowing full well that Frist's religio-racist right backers will not accept anything less than total victory on the nuclear option and judgeships, offered Frist a compromise: We'll let two judges go, if you take the nuclear option off the table. The idea is that if Frist rejects the compromise -- and as Josh states, he HAS to, or James Dobson will call for his head -- then Reid and the Democrats look like reasonable grownups while Frist and Company look like either pigheaded Gingrichian buffoons or totaly spineless tools of the Fundies. Well, Rove's rejected the compromise offer out of hand. ROVE, mind you, not Frist. It's in the dead-tree and web editions of USA Today. So the Democrats can say "Hey, we tried one last time, but Rove said no -- and by the way, notice those strings running from Rove's fingers to Bill Frist's body? And the ones running from James Dobson's fingers to Karl Rove's body?" Not only does this give the Democrats all the political cover they need, it also undoes the pathetic attempts by the GOP to hemi-semi-demi-distance themselves publicly from the Fundy fanatics that they started in the wake of their disastrous interference in the Terri Schiavo case. Perfect.
Monday, April 25, 2005
Krugman on BushCo's Divorcement from Reality
Paul Krugman nails it, as always. This time, he explains how BushCo is divorced from reality -- and how reality has finally come around to bite Bush and the Republicans on the ass:
Since November's election, the victors have managed to be on the wrong side of public opinion on one issue after another: the economy, Social Security privatization, Terri Schiavo, Tom DeLay. By large margins, Americans say that the country is headed in the wrong direction, and Mr. Bush is the least popular second-term president on record. What's going on? Actually, it's quite simple: Mr. Bush and his party talk only to their base - corporate interests and the religious right - and are oblivious to everyone else's concerns. [...] The point is that people sense, correctly, that Mr. Bush doesn't understand their concerns. He was sold on privatization by people who have made their careers in the self-referential, corporate-sponsored world of conservative think tanks. And he himself has no personal experience with the risks that working families face. He's probably never imagined what it would be like to be destitute in his old age, with no guaranteed income. The same syndrome has been visible on cultural issues. Republican leaders in Congress, who talk only to the religious right, were shocked at the public backlash over their meddling in the Schiavo case. Did I mention that Rick Santorum is 14 points behind his likely challenger? [...] Democracy Corps, the Democratic pollsters, say that there is a "crisis of confidence in the Republican direction for the country." As they're careful to point out, this won't necessarily translate into a surge of support for Democrats. But Americans are feeling a sense of dread: they're worried about a weak job market, soaring health care costs, rising oil prices and a war that seems to have no end. And they're starting to notice that nobody in power is even trying to deal with these problems, because the people in charge are too busy catering to a base that has other priorities.Bush and his backers are so rich that they've been able to warp the normal rules of political time and space. But they've done so badly at actual governance that even the massive amounts of money and power they've amassed won't be enough to insulate them from political reality for much longer. This is why Harry Reid is storming ahead, being the pugnacious Senate leader of the Democrats, while Nancy Pelosi charges ahead in the House and Howard Dean is cheerfully doing the door-knocking grunt work that is rebuilding the Democrats from the ground up. Somebody's going to have to pick up the pieces when BushCo's nightmare reign is over.
Why We Need Public Funding of Campaigns
As noted earlier, Minnesota's Republican governor, Tim Pawlenty, is of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. So it stands to reason that he would, as a waterboy for the rich, want to attack anything that allows the not-rich to have a fair shake at getting the reins of government:
Proposals by Gov. Tim Pawlenty to drain much of the money from Minnesota's campaign finance subsidies are moving through the Minnesota House and might be on the table for final budget negotiations. Pawlenty and his House Republican allies are pushing through bills that would scrap the political contribution refund program, cut direct campaign subsidies from the general fund and change the campaign "checkoff" system so that income-tax payers would have less incentive to use it. Republicans, who have long been critical of the programs, say the state's budget problems and public demands for basic services such as education and transportation are forcing some tough choices. [...] But DFLers and campaign overhaul advocates say the bills threaten Minnesota's reputation for clean and competitive politics. The cuts will protect incumbents and could deliver a severe blow to the Independence Party of former Gov. Jesse Ventura, they say. "This is not a smart idea," said David Schultz, a campaign finance expert at Hamline University. Since Wisconsin slashed its subsidies recently, up to a third of legislative incumbents have gone unchallenged and in a few races the campaign spending has topped $1 million by each candidate, he said. Sen. Chuck Wiger, DFL-North St. Paul, said Pawlenty's proposal "will be opposed and opposed strongly" in the Senate. And Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, the architect of much of Minnesota's campaign finance regulation, labeled the proposals "outrageous" in view of Pawlenty's strong position going into his expected 2006 reelection drive. "Our governor is an incumbent with a lot of money and a lot of wealthy friends who's figuring out he doesn't need the money himself this time, and if he can take it away from everyone else it saves money on his budget," Marty said.Yet another reason to back public financing of campaigns.
Good News from Vermont
According to this: 1) Bernie Sanders is most likely running for Jim Jeffords' seat. 2) The local Democratic Party is happy to help him. 3) He has over $600,000 in his war chest as seed money for a run. Oh, and he has the blogosphere, as well as DFA, ready and willing to help him.
Armies of destruction, armies of justice
Terri Schiavo updates
What, you thought her case was over? Hell no -- Frist and his Frothing Fundies are still milking it big-time -- though the blow-back is also starting to hurt him big-time:
As [Terri Schiavo] lay dying in Florida, Frist - who said he had reviewed court documents and videos - appeared on the Senate floor. Saying he "spoke more as a doctor than a senator," he declared that "there seems to be insufficient information to conclude" that Schiavo - an icon to religious conservatives - was in a "persistent vegetative state" that would justify allowing her to die. In a private letter to Frist, NEWSWEEK has learned, 31 of the 165 members of his medical-school class accused him of using his medical degree improperly.Keep it up, Bill. You think this will help you win the White House in '08? Think again. Six months from now, Republicans will be ashamed even to say your name in public. Meanwhile, Jackson Thoreau over at Counterpunch reminds us that the mother of "Culture of
Chris Bowers makes some excellent points.
Because You All Needed Some Good News Today!
Got this in my e-mail this morning:
Dear MoveOn donor, Today, the TV ad that you made possible, "Smashing the Courts," goes on the air in four critical states: Maine, Nebraska, Oregon, and Virginia. The pressure it adds on Senators Snowe, Collins, Hagel, Smith, and Warner to preserve the filibuster could make all the difference. Thank you so much for stepping in: since Wednesday, more than 8,700 people have given over $446,000 to spread the word about this danger to our democracy. As you know, the circumstances in this fight have been changing by the minute, and I wanted to let you know that we've changed our ad strategy slightly since we last emailed. Instead of running targeted radio ads, we're now running "Smashing the Courts" in targeted states. And instead of running "Smashing the Courts" nation-wide, we've developed a new ad -- one of our favorites since the election -- that will be running in its place. Since you contributed the funds to make this happen, I wanted you to see this new ad first -- before we email it to the whole MoveOn membership. The ad portrays a herd of elephants ransacking the House and Senate and federal courts, as the narrator explains the context of the radical Republicans' power grab. You can watch the ad online at: http://www.moveonpac.org/ MoveOn works because together, we can do things that wouldn't be possible for any of us alone. We didn't have the funds to run these ads, but you and tens of thousands of others came to the rescue. In a fight of national proportions, your generosity will make a difference. Thanks again, --Eli Pariser Executive Director, MoveOn PAC April 25th, 2005MoveOn is made of you and me. Together, we're doing lots of good.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Another New Blogroll Entry
This one's a Minnesota blog: Pharyngula!
While We're Talking About Frist And His Religio-Racist Right Buddies...
...it's a good time to bring up the creationists' latest trick to try to smuggle the first few pages of the Christian Bible's Book of Genesis into the science curriculum of our nation's public (and secular) schools: "Intelligent Design". Since creationism has been shown, to the satisfaction of every court that's had to rule on the issue, to be religion and not science, the science teachers of the land have managed to stall and in some cases reverse the big and well-funded creationism drive. To get around this, the concept of "Intelligent Design" was created. ID, as its backers call it, is creationism stripped of not only all overt references to the Christian religion, but also of most of the obvious references to creationism. This is so that ID backers like Dave Eaton can try to claim with a straight face that a) "Intelligent Design" has nothing to do with the discredited religious concept known as creationism, and b) ID has been proven by science. Of course, Eaton and the other ID fans are wrong on both counts. ID's backers were outed as creationists years ago, and ID's claims have been debunked as thoroughly as the creationist claims have been. Here's the outing material: http://skepdic.com/intelligentdesign.html As for ID being scientifically validated, all of Eaton's claims on this, past and present, have been debunked on Mark Isaak's excellent Index to Creationist Claims. Read it, bookmark it, use it.
Speaking of hypocrisy... the Bush family's ties to terrorism.
Frist the Filibuster Hypocrite
For those of you wondering if Bill Frist, the man who now is claiming that the filibustering of judicial nominees is an evil Satanic plot, has ever himself taken part in a filibuster of a judicial nominee: Of course he did. Hypocrisy is like air to Republicans -- they can't exist without it. Here's the skinny, courtesy of The Nation (via Common Dreams), the Center for American Progress, and CBS News: On March 9, 2000, Frist participated in a filibuster of Richard Paez, President Clinton’s nominee to the Ninth Circuit. When confronted about his vote to filibuster late last year, Frist claimed he filibustered Paez for “scheduling” purposes. This is a lie, as shown by a press release by Frist's Republican colleague, former Senator Bob Smith. The press release, titled “Smith Leads Effort to Block Activist Judicial Nominees”, states clearly that the filibuster was intended to “block” the Paez nomination. And Paez was only one of at least six filibusters Republicans attempted during the Clinton years. The Republicans have argued that these filibusters don’t count because they ultimately weren’t successful in blocking the nominees. But that just proves that Clinton’s nominees were moderate and sane enough to secure sixty votes, even in a Republican-controlled Senate. If Bush wants every single judicial nominee of his to be passed, instead of "only" well over 90% of them, he should try nominating judges who aren't rabidly right-wing activists.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
The papal enabler
Hey, Congress! BushCo'll Take Your Powers Away and Give'em to Lobbyists Unless You Show Some Spines
Check this out:
.... The spending plan that President Bush submitted to Congress this year contains 2,000 pages that outline funding to safeguard the environment, protect workers from injury and death, crack down on securities fraud and ensure the safety of prescription drugs. But almost unnoticed in the budget, tucked away in a single paragraph, is a provision that could make every one of those protections a thing of the past. The proposal, spelled out in three short sentences, would give the president the power to appoint an eight-member panel called the "Sunset Commission," which would systematically review federal programs every ten years and decide whether they should be eliminated. Any programs that are not "producing results," in the eyes of the commission, would "automatically terminate unless the Congress took action to continue them." The administration portrays the commission as a well-intentioned effort to make sure that federal agencies are actually doing their job. "We just think it makes sense," says Clay Johnson, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, which crafted the provision. "The goal isn't to get rid of a program -- it's to make it work better." In practice, however, the commission would enable the Bush administration to achieve what Ronald Reagan only dreamed of: the end of government regulation as we know it. With a simple vote of five commissioners -- many of them likely to be lobbyists and executives from major corporations currently subject to federal oversight -- the president could terminate any program or agency he dislikes. No more Environmental Protection Agency. No more Food and Drug Administration. No more Securities and Exchange Commission.Oh, and get this:
... The commission not only threatens the environment and public health -- it would also violate the constitutional separation of power between Congress and the executive branch, enabling the president to dismantle programs created by lawmakers. "Under the administration's proposal, Congress would relinquish its constitutional power to legislate," says Rep. Henry Waxman, a Democrat from California who has been the commission's most vocal opponent. "Power would be consolidated in the executive branch, and the legislative role would be emasculated." Republicans already have a plan to counter such concerns. Under a bill expected to be introduced soon, the power to appoint the commission would be given to Congress rather than to the president -- simply transferring the authority from Bush to his GOP allies on the Hill. And if the commission is challenged in court, the administration is likely to drag out the fight until it has firmly established a conservative majority on the Supreme Court.
A generous coat of whitewash at Abu Ghraib
Friday, April 22, 2005
The FBI, framed
Axis of Evil -1 + 4
Johnny Wendell clocks up more AAR hours
Going for the Loser Trifecta
Let's see, now: The GOP's push to destroy Social Security: Backfired. The GOP's DeLay-fueled decision to meddle in the Schiavo case on behalf of fringe pretend Christians like Randall Terry: REALLY backfired. And now, with the Republicans' own internal public opinion polls showing that the American people strongly oppose Republican efforts to trash the filibuster process in the Senate (yeah, it's just for judicial nominations now, but you know damned well that the Republicans will try to eliminate all filibusters if they think they'll never lose control of Congress ever again), will we see the GOP go for the Loser Trifecta? Considering how deeply they've gone into political and financial hock to the religio-racist right, they probably feel that they don't have a choice but to plow ahead. Which, as 2006 looms and the Congresscritters both need to spend 70% of their time on election fundraising while simultaneously trying to placate both the fringies and the normals, is going to be a momentous and nervewracking decision for them. Why, it might almost be enough for them to join the sane two-thirds of the American people and decide to support public financing of elections. (Maybe.)
Thursday, April 21, 2005
How Tim Pawlenty Screws Minnesota
Britt Robson of City Pages lays it out for us:
... The state is currently wrestling with its fourth budget deficit in four years. Merely by making the tax burden on the wealthiest 5 percent of the people equal to the average state and local tax rate would produce hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Yet David Strom, president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota and a staunch Pawlenty ally [PW butts in: Make that "Pawlenty's puppeteer"], has said the price of asking the rich to pay their fair share "may be less economic activity." It's a pretty desperate argument. Economic data from around the nation show no correlation between a state's economic growth and high income-tax rates--if anything, high-income-tax states have relatively robust economies. And if Strom is concerned about a drag on the economy, what does he think tossing tens of thousands of people off health care, as Pawlenty's budget proposes, will do?
Don't Back Companies That Back DeLay
As Michael Tomasky points out in AmProspect (thanks to Atrios for the link), a bunch of corporations are donating to DeLay's legal defense fund. If you want to know what not to buy, the Web site dropthehammer.org pinpoints American Airlines, Bacardi, Nissan, R.J. Reynolds, and Verizon.
Reed, Norquist Subpoenaed
This makes my day: Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist subpoenaed in Abramoff probe Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist -- well, I can't describe how evil they are, not without taking two weeks, several thousand words, and a ton of speed. And I don't do speed. Just go do a Google search on "reed shimmy cammies" or "norquist bathtub" or "norquist date rape".
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
From Benedict to Benedict...
John Cloud is a Tool
The CJR interview with him makes that crystal-clear. And Media Mattersand August J. Pollak of Xoverboard smack him around from here to next Tuesday. (Thanks to Atrios for the CJR, MM and Xoverboard links.) I strongly suspect that Cloud had a nice long talk with Time's in-house lawyers before doing that CJR interview. Why? Notice certain key statements of Cloud's which imply that Alterman and Brock's and Pollak's partisanship automatically makes their facts suspect -- but without actually providing evidence in context to back up these implied assertions. He doesn't dare say that Eric Alterman and Media Matters and Pollak are wrong on a specific set of facts, much less say that they were deliberately wrong on them; he knows if he dared do that, Alterman at any rate would sue his ass into the dirt, NYT v. Sullivan be damned. So instead, he settles for these subtle little smears that I believe came either from Time's in-house legal staff or the RNC (or possibly both). It cuts no ice with me that these smears are of the "they both are equally icky" variety. Remember, the RNC doesn't care if you think they're corrupt, so long as you think the Democrats are corrupt, too. Cynicism lowers voter turnout, and Republicans love low voter turnout (why do you think they've opposed measures such as "motor voter" for the past few decades?); they figure they can always get more of their base out than we can in low-turnout situations.
Now that's what I call a successful nomination: Bush's man in Rome
New Blog Added To Blogroll
It's New European Times, and it's actually a message board. But you'll still find it useful. It's an outgrowth of the UK and European diaries posted on DailyKos.
Of COURSE It's Always About The Sex
Except, of course, when it's about the money. Or power. Which are all facets of the same thing. Bainbridge's efforts to prove otherwise are disingenuous at best and offensive at worst. Atrios and Max nail it effectively. I just have to add this: The whole idea of celibacy is based on women being a) inferior beings, and b) such irresistible temptations to poor innocent men (so that of course men can't be blamed if they want to grab those irresistible temptations without concern for such irrelevancies as consent), and never on the idea that women are independent beings who are fully human and should be treated accordingly. If the Church's cons truly respected women as fully-fledged humans, then why is the idea of homosexuality so scary to them? The cons' attitude towards sex comes straight from that held by the ancient Greeks, and which was summed up so brilliantly by Jon Stewart in discussing Jim "Jeff Gannon" Guckert the gay prostitute: "It's not gay if you're the 'guy'" -- meaning that if you're the penetrator, you are still considered manly. But anything that is penetrated -- be it women or other men -- is considered unmanly, which is another way of saying Not Fully Human. Unclean, in other words. This is why the cons like the idea of sex having far greater consequences for women than for men. Remember, Saint Augustine, the guy whose pronouncements form the basis of virtually every branch of modern Christianity, opposed abortion not because he thought it was murder (he didn't think that) but because it allowed women to have sex without consequences -- in other words, to have the same sexual privileges that men did.
Anti-Semitism on the March. Literally.
Funny, isn't it, that the same rightwingers who claim that opposition to PNAC makes you an anti-Semite always seem to look the other way when stuff like this is reported:
Less than two years after it was plunged into a rape scandal, the Air Force Academy is scrambling to address complaints that evangelical Christians wield so much influence at the school that anti-Semitism and other forms of religious harassment have become pervasive. There have been 55 complaints of religious discrimination at the academy in the past four years, including cases in which a Jewish cadet was told the Holocaust was revenge for the death of Jesus and another was called a Christ killer by a fellow cadet.(Thanks to Eschaton for the link to Holden's blog.)
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Bolton Nomination Going Off The Rails
And we all thought that Chafee was going to be the Republican with a conscience. Turns out that George Voinovich is leading the way -- at least until Karl Rove can get to him.
State of Florida: Terri Schiavo Was NOT Abused
Every last one of the wild stories spewed by the Schindlers and their associates has now been debunked. From the University of Miami's timeline of events in the Schiavo case:
April 15, 2005Will this shut up the diehards? Probably not. But the sane people will understand.
In response to a motion from the media, Judge Greer orders DCF to release redacted copies of abuse reports regarding Ms. Schiavo. The Orlando Sentinel reports that DCF found no evidence of abuse after investigating the 89 reports filed before February 18, 2005. Thirty allegations are outstanding and still being investigated, but Judge Greer earlier had ruled that those allegations were duplicative of the ones previously filed. Order and Reports: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Orlando Sentinel report
Opus Dei Enthroned in Rome
PlameGate Heating Up Again
Mrs. Ahmad Chalabi (aka Judith Miller) and Matthew Cooper have lost their appeal. (Not that Miller had any real appeal for anyone outside of the PNAC Platoon and Chalabi.) They must disclose their sources. Aside from seeing Miller finally get something resembling comeuppance for being a PNAC-approved lie conduit, my main thoughts about this involve Bob Novak. Miller and Cooper at least had the decency to withhold Plame's name from stories intended to be published. Novak, on the other hand, wrote the published column that outed Plame. He should be facing jail time, but he's apparently more valuable to Bush and his PNAC Platoon friends than Judith Miller ever will be. (It doesn't help Judy that her good friend Mr. Chalabi no longer enjoys the influence he once had in DC. Poor thing.)
Ten Years After: Musings on Domestic Terror
Today was the day when terrorists blew up the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. I remember when the news first hit. The conventional belief was that foreigners, probably brown-skinned Muslims, did it. So of course the usual right-wing media suspects were all for stringing them up without trial. Nobody cared to try and figure out why such a crime was committed. Nobody asked about what motive these supposed Muslims would have had for doing this. Then the evidence started coming to light, and it pointed straight at a bunch of white guys from Michigan, hyper-conservative racist gun nuts who were part of the "militia movement". And suddenly the same folks who'd been yelling "string 'em up!" got all touchy-feely on us. Suddenly, motive became very important. Suddenly, all sorts of excuses -- revenge for Waco, revenge for Ruby Ridge, revenge for whatever -- not only were mentioned, but accepted as full justification for the murder of 168 people, many of whom were children (the Murrah Building had a day care center). Hell, a lot of the REALLY wacky people -- such as the gunshop-working father of a friend of mine -- think that the government did it in order to discredit the Nice Honorable White People in the militia movement. And the same thing has played out with Eric Rudolph. When folks thought Arabs did it, no one cared about motive. But when it was found that a Nice White Supremacist Boy did it, people fell all over themselves trying to make excuses for him -- even turn him into a hero, in some cases. The media go into ecstatic frenzies when somebody like Jose Padilla is allegedly connected to Al-Qaeda; they make him into Public Enemy Number One. But when a Noonday, Texas white supremacist loads up over a hundred bombs, many of them disguised as suitcases, to give to his militia friends -- someone who, unlike Padilla, has been shown to be a clear and present danger to Americans -- the press by and large looks the other way.
Monday, April 18, 2005
Two new articles on Social Security
Which side are you on? Are you with MBNA or with working people?
"Kidnapped Shiites" Story Turning Out To Be Bogus
NEAR MADAIN, Iraq (AP) - Iraqi security forces backed by U.S. troops had the town of Madain surrounded Sunday after reports of Sunni militant kidnappings of as many as 100 Shiite residents, but there were growing indications the incident had been grossly exaggerated, perhaps an outgrowth of a tribal dispute or political maneuvering. The town of about 1,000 families, evenly divided between Shiites and Sunnis, sits about 15 miles south of the capital in what the U.S. military has called the ``Triangle of Death'' because it has become a roiling stronghold of the militant insurgency. An AP photographer and television cameraman who were in or near the town Sunday said large numbers of Iraqi forces had sealed it off, supported by U.S. forces farther away outside Madain. The cameraman said he toured the town Sunday morning. People were going about their business normally, shops were open and tea houses were full, he said. Residents contacted by telephone also said everything was normal in Madain. And American military officials said they were unaware of any U.S. role in what had been described as a tense sectarian standoff in which the Sunni militants were threatening to kill their Shiite captives if all other Shiites did not leave the town. [...] The confusion over Madain illustrated how quickly rumors spread in a country of deep ethnic and sectarian divides, where the threat of violence is all too real. Poor telephone communications, and the difficulty of traveling from one town to the next because of daily attacks on the roads make it difficult even for government officials to establish the facts. National Security Minister Qassim Dawoud warned Parliament on Sunday of attempts to draw the country into sectarian war and said three battalions of Iraqi soldiers, police and U.S. forces were sent to Madain. He said the Iraqi military was planning a large-scale assault on the region by week's end. A Defense Ministry official, Haidar Khayon, said early Sunday that Iraqi forces raided the town and freed about 15 Shiite families and captured five hostage takers in a skirmish with light gunfire. He said there were no casualties. Iraq's most influential Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, urged government officials to resolve the crisis peacefully, his office said. By the end of the day, however, Iraqi officials had produced no hostages and Iraqi military officials and police who had given information about the troubles in Madain could not be reached for further details. Also on Sunday, Sheikh Abdul Salam al-Kubaisi, a spokesman for the Association of Muslim Scholars, an organization of Sunni clerics, denied hostages had been taken in Madain. ``This news is completely untrue,'' he told al-Jazeera television. The country's most-feared insurgent group, al-Qaida in Iraq, also denied there had been any hostage-taking in a statement Sunday on an Islamic Web site known for its militant content. The group, headed by the Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said the incident was a fabrication by the ``enemies of God'' to justify a military attack on Madain aimed at Sunnis.As a TableTalk acquaintance of mine likes to say: Believe nothing. (UPDATE: Several dozen bodies have been found in the Tigris, but as this Guardian story points out, it's not clear when these people were killed, so they may or may not be the fifty-odd hostages that interim Iraqi President Jalal Talabani claims them to be. He wouldn't say when or exactly where the bodies were found. Again, believe nothing.)
Topeka held hostage
Why I Love Howard Dean, Reason #98798696
The crowd grew feistier Saturday during a speech by Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, who echoed a complaint by the state's teachers that Schwarzenegger had reneged on a promise to deliver $2 billion in unanticipated funds to public schools. ''We will say no to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's attempt to take $2 billion out of the education budget,'' Dean said. ''Governor, keep your promise to the children of California and fund public schools. We don't need any more corrupt Republicans in office in this country.''Howard's reading from the Book of Lakoff, he is.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
More Asian tremors as US sabotages its relationship with only strong Asian ally
The U-xis of evil: British Ambassador says US, UK, Uzbekistan reviving medieval tortures
Bush policy: shoot them all and let God sort them out
Divide and conquer
Yet Another Set Of Right-Wing Legends Debunked
In the name of debunking the slanders that are still being hurled against Michael Schiavo, Judge Greer has ordered Jeb Bush's Department of Children and Families, the Florida state agency that oversaw Terri Schiavo's medical care, to open up all of its records on the Terri Schiavo case. Guess what? Every single claim of "abuse" made by the Schindlers or their allies has been refuted. Period.
The Schindlers made eight complaints to DCF starting in 2001, with each one containing multiple allegations of abuse and neglect. But agency said it found no evidence that Michael Schiavo abused, neglected or exploited his wife. "During the time Mrs. Schiavo has been a patient of hospice [Hospice House Woodside in Pinellas Park], the spouse has always been courteous and very compassionate towards his wife. He is rarely alone with her when he visits and he has never compromised her care," the DCF said.This won't shut up the hardcore idiots or the truly dishonest, but it should serve to convince everyone else.
File This Under "I Knew He Was Evil, But I Didn't Realize He Was Stupid"
Maybe it's just that he's had so much power and money for so long, and been so well insulated against the consequences of his actions for so long, that he simply got out of the habit of thinking. But it's hard not to wonder how much of Tom DeLay's reputation as a wizard exists simply because he substitutes sleaziness for brainpower -- especially when you see things like this:
DeLay has denied any wrongdoing. He showed a typically combative streak over the weekend when he talked about the allegations against him and then referred to Sarah Brady, the wife of the former White House press secretary Jim Brady, who was shot in the assassination attempt against former President Ronald Reagan. "Sarah Brady said that when a man's in trouble or in a good fight you want all your friends around them, preferably armed," DeLay said in a speech to the National Rifle Association. "So I feel really good."For you young'uns whose schools don't teach this because your school boards are stacked with Fundies, Sarah Brady and her husband Jim are among America's best-known advocates of gun control. In other words, they are NOT the NRA's favorite human beings. And the feeling is mutual. Secondly, if Sarah Brady really did say what Tom DeLay says she did -- and to judge from what I've seen of her over the past quarter-century, I sincerely doubt it -- it sure as hell hasn't turned up on Google.
Iraq = Southeast Asia, Part 324356565
Atrios mentions the latest unpleasantnesses in the country which we liberated against the will of its inhabitants. Here's a choice set of paragraphs in the story he cites:
Iraqi security forces raided a town in central Iraq on Sunday where Sunni militants were holding dozens of Shiite Muslims hostage and threatening to kill them unless all Shiites left the area, an Iraqi official said. Elsewhere, three American soldiers were killed and seven service members wounded overnight when insurgents fired mortar rounds at a U.S. Marine base near Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Sunday. Residents said dozens of armed militants had tried to force their way into Camp Blue Diamond and that some suffered casualties. The attackers fled into a nearby mosque and were pursued by Iraqi security forces, but no insurgents were found there, the U.S. military said.Gee, and last week I couldn't turn on the evening news without being told how the insurgency was supposedly on its last legs. These people are directing rocket attacks at Marine bases, and they've got enough trained bodies now that they're willing not just to toss a few bombs around, but to actually try to engage the Marines in something resembling one-on-one combat. Like Gilliard says, this is 1971 all over again. Except in the desert instead of the jungle.
DeLay, Abramoff, and the GOP
Wow. Did y'all catch Meet the Press this morning? It was almost as if Tim Russert managed to forget that he owes his job to Republican stalwart Jack Welch. He actually played the DeLay story straight, and only tried one "gotcha" moment on Democratic guest Barney Frank: "Are you trying to make a poster boy out of Tom DeLay?" Frank easily brushed that aside -- "Tom DeLay made Tom DeLay into a poster boy" -- and then went back to beating the snot out of the Republican guest (and token DeLay defender) Roy Blunt. (At one point Blunt tried to drown out Barney by talking over him and the Frankster came back with "I thought you were against filibusters!") This can only mean one thing: It looks like the corporate media got Bush's memo to go after DeLay. Tommy still has one hell of a support base, and Bush doesn't want it to look too obvious (hence Blunt's presence "defending" the Bug Man), but the writing is on the wall: DeLay must go down now, to save the GOP's 2006 midterm chances. It's so funny to visit the comments threads of the various blogs and read the screeds left by the people who actually think DeLay is going to survive this. What the reflexive pessimists don't get is that DeLay is going down. Here's why. See, before he botched things so badly in the Terri Schiavo case, there was a chance that the Texas Lege would come to his aid and take Ronnie Earle's jurisdiction away from Ronnie, thus stopping the grand jury process that Earle set in motion years ago. But Hot Tub's ordering around the House AND the Senate AND the White House over the Easter recess, in order to pass a Bill of Attainder that proved to be astonishingly unpopular among all classes of Americans, even Texans (hell, even 69% of the evangelicals hated it, and most other Americans hated it in far bigger percentages), was the last effing straw. With his very visible meddling -- and coercion of the other GOP members of the legislative and executive branches to meddle -- in the Schiavo case, Tom DeLay not only tore a rift open between the religio-racist right and the corporate money men, he also singlehandedly took five to ten percentage points off the re-elect chances of nearly every single GOP House member. Nobody wants to stick their neck out for a guy who just did that to them. Meanwhile, Ronnie Earle's finishing up Grand Jury #3 -- the one focused on DeLay buddy (and Texas state AG) Craddick, and which will feature lots of indictments. Earle will then start up Grand Jury #4, whose target is none other than DeLay himself. When this Grand Jury winds up in a few months -- just as the 2006 election season starts to heat up -- Tom DeLay, if he's still in the House, will find himself on the receiving end of a big fat indictment, and be forced to resign. Knowing all this, is it really surprising that Bush and Company want to force DeLay out now, in the hopes that this all is forgotten (and thus isn't connected to other Republicans) come 2006? But the problem for them is that DeLay has left his mark on every aspect of the modern Republican Party. They are conjoined at the hip. You can't cut out every last trace of him without exposing the corruption that is the Party's stock in trade. Furthermore, DeLay has already shown that he's not going to fall on his sword for the good of the party and resign "to spend more time with his family". (Why should he? His family is hip-deep in the scandal anyway.) He'll fight hard and dirty, and take a few folks with him as he goes down. (It's already happening in Texas, where DeLay's good friend and current United States Senator John Cornyn has been implicated in the Abramoff casino scandal. And the Abramoff backwash is slapping around Senator David Vitter in Lousiana, too.) Pass the popcorn!
Frank Rich On DeLay, Frist, And The Religio-Racist Wing Of The GOP
Two K Street fixers, a lobbyist named Jack Abramoff and a flack named Michael Scanlon, managed to snooker six American Indian tribes into handing over $82 million in exchange for furthering their casino interests. According to The Washington Post, some of their tribal takings, cycled through a nonprofit center for "public policy research," helped send Mr. DeLay golfing in Scotland. The pious congressman, a gambling foe, says he had no idea of his trip's sinful provenance. Never mind that Mr. DeLay was joined abroad by Mr. Abramoff, whom he has described as one of his "closest and dearest friends," or that Mr. Scanlon had once been his spokesman. Mr. DeLay was as innocent of the goings-on around him as a piano player in a brothel.Bam bam bam. Note how Rich concisely lays out the connections here. But it gets better. Rich shows :
In the DeLay story almost every player has ostentatious religious trappings, starting with the House majority leader himself. His efforts to play God with Terri Schiavo were preceded by crusades like blaming the teaching of evolution for school shootings and raising money for the Traditional Values Coalition's campaign to save America from the "war on Christianity." Mr. DeLay's chief of staff was his pastor, and, according to Time magazine, organized daily prayer sessions in their office. Today this holy man, Ed Buckham, is a lobbyist implicated in another DeLay junket to South Korea. But it's not merely Christian denominations that figure in the religious plumage of this crowd. Mr. Abramoff, who is now being investigated by nearly as many federal agencies as there are nights of Passover, is an Orthodox Jew who in his salad days wore a yarmulke to press interviews. In Washington, he opened not one but two kosher restaurants (I hear the deli was passable by D.C. standards) and started a yeshiva. His uncompromising piety drove him to condemn the one Orthodox Jew in the Senate, Joe Lieberman, for securing "the tortuous death of millions" by supporting abortion rights. Mr. Abramoff's own moral constellation can be found in e-mail messages in which he referred to his Indian clients as "idiots" and "monkeys" even as he squeezed them for every last million. A previous client was Zaire's dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, who, unlike Senator Lieberman, actually was a practitioner of torture and mass murder.Read Rich a little further, and it turns out that Ralph Reed has Abramoff connections, too. In fact, there are plenty of professional-moralist pastors and rabbis tied into this scandal. And of course, Bill Frist is their best friend in the Senate, just as Tom DeLay is their best friend in the House.
Saturday, April 16, 2005
Driftglass v. Kristof
Game, set, and match to Driftglass. This is an even better takedown of Kristof than the one Somerby did. Here's a taste:
... In your weird fetish to be “objective”, the Republicans learned the little trick that makes you dance like organ grinder monkeys. Whatever goofy-assed idea they came up with, you’d reflexively cede them half the distance between the truth and their goal. There was a book I loved when I was a little driftglass called, “Half Magic” by Edgar Eager, about a talisman that granted the user exactly half of what they asked for. Wish to be ten times stronger that Lancelot, you’ll get five. Wish for a million in cash, you get 500K. In the Mainstream Media, the Right Wing of the Republican Party found their Half Magic Charm. And each time you met them halfway, they moved the goalposts another twenty yards again...and you jogged right on along behind them, ten yards at a time. The “compromise” between the truth and a lie...is a lie. The “compromise” between science and superstition...is superstition. Now, would you care to guess what the compromise between tolerance and bigotry is? Between knowledge and ignorance? Between Ann Coulter and Paul Krugman?There's much more, and it's all worth reading.
The Hastert-Abramoff Connection
Yet more evidence that shows that DeLay, Inc.'s tentacles extend throughout the Republican Party:
Denny Hastert's Late Payment Signatures restaurant, the expense-account haven owned by super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, has hosted at least 60 GOP fund-raisers since it opened on Washington's Pennsylvania Ave. NW in early 2002. But the June 3, 2003, lunchtime gathering was special: The guest of honor was House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), and the event was a relatively intimate gathering dominated by lobbyists from Greenberg Traurig, the law and lobbying firm where Abramoff then worked. The problem? Nobody paid for the lunch -- or reported it in disclosure documents as an in-kind contribution -- as federal election law requires, BusinessWeek Online has learned. The tab -- which Hastert's office would not disclose -- was paid only this month, around the time that BusinessWeek Online began to investigate fund-raisers for Republican politicos held at Signatures. Hastert's office says his staffers uncovered the oversight. Capitol Hill Republicans are sweating over fallout from their relationships with Abramoff. The lobbyist is under investigation by two Senate committees and a criminal task force involving the Justice Dept. and the IRS for allegedly defrauding his clients -- Indian tribes flush with casino cash -- out of millions of dollars. ABOVE THE FRAY. An associate of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), Abramoff was a key cog in the conservative political movement in Washington, with ties to scores of GOP members of Congress. DeLay, the House's No. 2 Republican, has been hammered by revelations of trips allegedly funded by Abramoff and his firm. DeLay says he never knowingly did anything improper and denounces coverage of his ties to Abramoff as a politically motivated attack on him by Democrats and what he calls the liberal media. The long-unpaid bill from the June 3, 2003, fund-raiser is the first sign that Abramoff's largesse extended to Hastert. While DeLay enforced strict partisan discipline in the House and muscled the lobbyists and trade associations that line Washington's K Street, the genial Speaker from Illinois has been the party's Mr. Clean, floating above the fray.DeLay's going down for reasons unrelated to Abramoff (namely Ronnie Earle's own investigations). But Abramoff not only is linked to DeLay, but to the rest of the Republican Party.
The Wonderfully Tolerant Minnesota GOP Strikes Again
Lordy, Lordy. Our very own wacky theocrat, Minnesota State Senator Michelle "Betty Bowers, except with less fashion sense and not played for laughs" Bachmann, has been getting much press lately, thanks to her anti-gay stances and her promoting David Horowitz' neo-Stalinist legislation designed to muzzle professors. Well, her craziness has hit the news right as Paul Koering, one of her fellow Republican State Senators, announced he was gay. (He did so after he voted against amending the state constitution to ban gay marriage.) His constituents have known for years and don't give a rat's ass one way or the other, but the Crow Wing County Republican Party wants to force him out of office -- and will almost certainly be running a candidate against him in the next primary. "Big Tent" my ass. Here's some letters on both Koering and Bachmann from today's Strib:
Bashed by the bosses Judging by the response of the Crow Wing County Republican Party chairman at the news that Sen. Paul Koering is gay (Star Tribune, April 15), it seems the new sign at the Crow Wing County line should read: "Welcome to Crow Wing County -- Home of bigots, a designated center of ignorance on the edge of the big woods." Brian Arnold, Mora, Minn. Sen. Paul Koering announces he is gay, and who is it exactly that is trying to run him out of office that same day? His constituents? Apparently not, because most of them seem adult enough to realize that his sexual orientation doesn't alter his integrity. No, his new predators are the career politicians in the Republican Party. Instead of embracing one of their own who is going through a challenging time and accepting that Koering is a staunch supporter of other high-profile Republican issues, Crow Wing County Republican Chair Brian Lehman -- in true, not-so-subtle Republican form -- is already working to undermine his reelection. All of this over one issue, one procedural vote. This is utterly despicable. It further proves that the leaders in today's Republican Party don't care about people, they only care about power. They only want yes-men in their ranks, not people who can form their own thoughts and opinions. Joe Schlefke, St. Paul. It seems the Republicans in Minnesota are ready to pull down the "big tent." That Crow Wing County Republican Party Chair Brian Lehman would pull his party's support of Sen. Paul Koering before the current session is even over shows how nasty and uncivil Republicans have become. It is hard for Republicans to claim that there is room for everyone in the party if the retribution for a procedural vote -- oh, and maybe coming out as gay -- is so swift. Ralph Wyman, Minneapolis. C. Ford Runge's April 15 commentary regarding Sen. Michele Bachmann's efforts to ban gay marriage through a constitutional amendment prompted the return of a question to my mind that, so far, no one has been able to answer satisfactorily: Just how in the world does the prospect of gay marriage threaten to "destroy marriage" and "bring heretofore unheard of consequences to this nation?" The question is conveniently ignored. Is it possible that these conservatives have such a degree of tunnel vision that they seriously believe such nonsense? Or is this part of a more sinister effort to manipulate the judiciary (Bachmann threatens the impeachment of judges with whom she doesn't agree)? Those not paying attention to this issue should; if these noisemakers have their way, an independent judiciary will be a thing of the past, all three branches of government will be under control of the right wing, and democracy as we know it will be gone forever. Sharon Anderson, St. Louis Park.
In Keeping With The Bush Junta's Neo-Stalinist Tradition Of Hiding Facts They Don't Like...
... we have this bit of news:
Bush administration eliminating 19-year-old international terrorism report By Jonathan S. Landay Knight Ridder Newspapers WASHINGTON - The State Department decided to stop publishing an annual report on international terrorism after the government's top terrorism center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985, the first year the publication covered. Several U.S. officials defended the abrupt decision, saying the methodology the National Counterterrorism Center used to generate statistics for the report may have been faulty, such as the inclusion of incidents that may not have been terrorism. Last year, the number of incidents in 2003 was undercounted, forcing a revision of the report, "Patterns of Global Terrorism." But other current and former officials charged that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's office ordered "Patterns of Global Terrorism" eliminated several weeks ago because the 2004 statistics raised disturbing questions about the Bush's administration's frequent claims of progress in the war against terrorism. "Instead of dealing with the facts and dealing with them in an intelligent fashion, they try to hide their facts from the American public," charged Larry C. Johnson, a former CIA analyst and State Department terrorism expert who first disclosed the decision to eliminate the report in The Counterterrorism Blog, an online journal. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who was among the leading critics of last year's mix-up, reacted angrily to the decision. "This is the definitive report on the incidence of terrorism around the world. It should be unthinkable that there would be an effort to withhold it - or any of the key data - from the public. The Bush administration should stop playing politics with this critical report."The Bush family has always had a hostile relationship with the truth. Bush Senior suppressed the Sandia Report on Education because it conclusively debunked the bullshit in the Reagan-era crap masterpiece "A Nation At Risk". It took Bill Clinton's taking office to get the Sandia Report officially released. To read past "Patterns of Global Terrorism" reports online, go to http://www.mipt.org/Patterns-of-Global-Terrorism.asp.
Old GOP to Current GOP: Stop Protecting DeLay!
It doesn't get any better than this:
Ten former members of Congress, all Republicans, sent a letter on Friday to the House leadership saying they believed that recent revisions in House ethics rules were an "obvious action to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay" from investigation. They called for the changes to be reversed "to restore public confidence in the People's House." [...] ... As one of the signatories, former congressman Pete McCloskey put it, "if the Republicans circle their wagons around DeLay like they circled their wagons around Richard Nixon, it may have the same result."Of course, the current House GOP is protecting him because this is The House That Tom DeLay Built. Most of these people owe their jobs to him. This helps emphasize that It's Not Just DeLay.
Friday, April 15, 2005
The DeLay-USANext Connection
Remember the USANext/United Seniors Association dingbats? The front group for the pharmaceutical lobby? Well, turns out that they have big-time connections to both Tom DeLay and to disgraced DeLay pal Jack Abramoff:
USA Next's powerful connections, however, extend beyond contributors. In fiscal year 2003, other records show, USA Next mistakenly filed with the IRS a list of its top five contractors. The top contractor for that tax year, earning more than $1.3 million, was a firm whose founder is also a principal in another firm with strong ties to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). And United Seniors has packed its board with prominent Republican consultants over the years. Board members include Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist under investigation by the Justice Department and Congress who also has links to DeLay.The Republican leadership wants to pretend it can throw DeLay over the side and limit the damage to itself. But he's inserted himself into the party's machinery in so many ways that when he goes, he'll be taking plenty of folks with him. That's why we're now calling it "DeLay, Inc." Because Tom's just the CEO of the whole corrupt enterprise.
Two Bits of Good News
#1: Texas' Rick Perry, Governor Goodhair, may well be sucked into the DeLay, Inc. undertow. Seems that a Republican member of the Texas House, Tommy Merritt, is alleging that Perry coerced his vote for Tom Craddick as Texas House Speaker. Remember, Craddick is DeLay's point man in the Texas Lege -- and one of the subjects of Ronnie Earle's current grand jury, which is expected to fire off a few indictments once it wraps up at the end of this month. (After which Earle convenes his next grand jury, which will target none other than DeLay himself.) And of course next month is when we'll get a ruling on the legality (or rather, the illegality) of the redistricting plan DeLay rammed through the Texas legislature. Heheheheh. #2: Even as the NYT media empire (which includes the Boston Globe) is taking a turn for the worse, the McClatchy group -- which includes my hometown paper, the Minneapolis StarTribune -- is seeing its weekly circulation go up a tick. (Sunday circulation is going down, but that's happening all across the industry.) Take that, John "Assrocket" Hinderaker.
Who Should We Target?
I was originally thinking that Ellen Tauscher was the queen bee of the DINOs. But there are thirty-one DINOs out there who have out-DINOed her, by voting for both gutting the Rich Person's Estate Tax as well as the Debt Peonage Act of 2005. As mentioned earlier, unlike the Republicans, we don't have the cash to punish every guy/gal who steps out of line by running a primary opponent against them. But we can pick one particularly nasty example and target that person. Which of these thirty-one people is the most deserving of losing their primary race next year? Or at least being made to sweat hard? Post your suggestions in the comments thread below. (Note: The person we run MUST be capable of actually winning the seat should he/she win the nomination. No self-destructive protest candidacies, please.)
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Report from Nashville. The silent scream of numbers, telling us the election was stolen
Bedtime for Ellen
The House's DLC go-to gal on peeling off enough Democrats to pass the shameful MBNA Profit Enhancement and Jailing of Hospital Patients' Act of 2005, aka the Bankruptcy Bill, is one Ellen Tauscher of California's Tenth District. Now, we can't run primary opponents against all of the Democrats who betrayed the American people by voting for this bill. But if we can take out the DLC's and MBNA's queen bee in next year's primaries -- or give her one hell of a scare at the very least -- then we will have sent a message to the rest of them to start remembering that they were elected to be Democrats, not to screw us all into the ground at the behest of Corporate America.
A Bold Prediction
Remember how the right-wing media pundits have spent the past couple of years wetting themselves over "the UN Oil-for-Food Scandal"? And how they tried without proof to accuse UN Secretary General Kofi Annan of helping to rip off his own agency? Well, first off, Kofi Annan has been exonerated of any wrongdoing. And by the Volcker Commission, which isn't exactly stacked with Noam Chomskys. And second off, it turns out that the scandal should more properly be called "the Texas Oil-for-Food Scandal":
A Texas businessman and two of his companies were charged with paying secret kickbacks to Iraq in a federal indictment unsealed on Thursday as part of an investigation into the scandal-plagued U.N. oil-for-food program. David Chalmers Jr., his oil company Bayoil of Texas, and Bayoil Supply & Trading Ltd., based in the Bahamas, faced federal criminal charges as part of the scheme to pay millions of dollars in secret kickbacks to Iraq. Two others also were charged in the plot: Ludmil Dionissiev, a Bulgarian citizen living in Houston, and John Irving, a British citizen, according to the indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The indictment charges that the kickbacks were paid so the Bayoil companies could participate in selling Iraqi oil under the United Nations' program.There you have it. Of the people facing charges in this scandal, two are Texas residents, and one's a Brit. Unfortunately for the race-baiters in the conservative pundit's universe, there are no Arabs of any sort listed in the indictments, and nobody named "Kofi Annan". A bold prediction: From here on out, unless it can somehow be made to look as the prime crooks involved in ripping off the UN are guys named Pierre or Mohammed or Gunter, instead of fair-haired Texan boys from George W. Bush's and Tom DeLay's home turf of Houston, we will hear as much about this scandal from the right-wingers as we heard from them about Chinagate, once it was clear that James Smith, the main US intelligence guy working on digging up the Chinagate "info" for his Clinton-hating Republican boss Louis Freeh, had as his longtime mistress one Katrina Leung, longtime California GOP fundraiser and intelligence operative for Communist China. That is to say: Not very much at all.
Judge is forbidden to tell the truth
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