Saturday, May 14, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

Actually, I envy Tresy. But I think that if he imagines that the Canadian border will render him immune from what's brewing here, he's very much mistaken. I'd like to be wrong, but...

The quote of the day 

From Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum:

"[SANTORUM] Now we are forced to do something that societies often do when people can't control their desires. We have to pass laws to stop their desires."
(via Times)

Um, exactly what desires do you want to stop, Senator? (Wait! I think I know!)


Does The Economist know something we don't? 

By this time, you've all heard of the downfall of Spokane's anti-gay crusader, Jim West:

As toug-talking conservatives go, they didn't come much tougher than Jim West. The state legislator and mayor of Spokane—a city of 200,000 in Washington state's north-eastern corner—opposed gay rights and abortion and once wrote a bill banning sex between teenagers, gay or straight. Yet Mr West, 54, led a double life. In recent months he apparently conducted an internet conversation with, as he supposed, a 17-year-old boy who went by the alias of “motobrock34”. The conversations were flirty and sometimes overtly sexual, and in their final chats the two arranged to meet.

But motobrock34 was not a teenage boy. He was an investigator hired by a Spokane daily newspaper, the Spokesman-Review. In the past week the newspaper has printed its online chats with Mr West, who at one point offered to make motobrock34 his intern. It also claimed that Mr West molested two boys more than 25 years ago, when he was a sheriff's deputy and Boy Scout leader, and that since becoming mayor in early 2004 he has offered city jobs to two young men he met in internet gay chat rooms. Mr West admits to the online conversations, and that he has had “relations” with young men. He denies the molestation charges, and that he lured young men by using the trappings of his office.

With recall petitions afoot and the FBI now on the case, Mr West looks doomed. His downfall will send ripples across much of Washington state. He is one of the most powerful politicians in the state's eastern half, and has talked of running for governor. The revelations about him may also boost a “gay civil rights” measure that was narrowly defeated in the state legislature this past April but will probably come up for a vote again next year.

There may be wider ripples, too. Gay conservatives are mumbling of undisclosed homosexuals in the Republican hierarchy. An equivalent sting in Washington, DC (remember Mayor Marion Barry smoking crack?) might find some unexpectedly famous names in Mr West's virtual hunting grounds.
(via The Economist)

Hmmm... Famous names, eh? Perhaps one of "Jeff Gannon"'s clients?

Frank Rich seems to be thinking the same way:

Even as it has ceased to be a crime or necessarily a political career-breaker to be gay, unprincipled gay-baiting has mushroomed into a full-fledged political movement. It's a virulent animosity toward gay people that really unites the leaders of the anti-"activist" judiciary crusade, not any intellectually coherent legal theory (they're for judicial activism when it might benefit them in Florida). Their campaign menaces the country on a grander scale than Drury and Preminger ever could have imagined: it uses gay people as cannon fodder on the way to its greater goal of taking down a branch of government that is crucial to constitutional checks and balances...

These people have been attacking gay people since well before Massachusetts judges took up the issue of marriage, Vermont legalized civil unions or Gavin Newsom was in grade school. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, characterizes the religious right's anti-gay campaign as a 30-year war, dating back to the late 1970's, when the Miss America runner-up Anita Bryant championed the overturning of an anti-discrimination law protecting gay men and lesbians in Dade County, Fla., and the Rev. Jerry Falwell's newly formed Moral Majority issued a "Declaration of War" against homosexuality.

What adds a peculiar dynamic to this anti-gay juggernaut is the continued emergence of gay people within its ranks. [T]his has been a consistent pattern throughout the 30-year war. Terry Dolan, a closeted gay man, ran the National Conservative Political Action Committee, which as far back as 1980 was putting out fund-raising letters that said, "Our nation's moral fiber is being weakened by the growing homosexual movement and the fanatical E.R.A. pushers (many of whom publicly brag they are lesbians)." (Dolan recanted and endorsed gay rights before he died of AIDS in 1986.) The latest boldface name to marry his same-sex partner in Massachusetts is Arthur Finkelstein, the political operative behind the electoral success of Jesse Helms, a senator so homophobic he voted in the minority of the 97-to-3 reauthorization of the Ryan White act for AIDS funding and treatment in 1995.

But surely the most arresting recent case is James E. West, the powerful Republican mayor of Spokane, Wash. ... Not unlike the Roy Cohn of "Angels in America" - who describes himself as "a heterosexual man" who has sex "with guys" - Mr. West has said he had "relations with adult men" but doesn't "characterize" himself as gay. This is more than hypocrisy - it's pathology.

[The 1950s] were the dark ages, but it isn't entirely progress that we now have a wider war on gay people, thinly disguised as a debate over the filibuster, cloaked in religion, and counting among its shock troops politicians as utterly bereft of moral bearings as James West.
(via the at-last-one-other-reason-to-read-it-besides-Krugman New York Times)



It can't happen here (right?) (via Tiny Revolution from Atrios)

NOTE: Requires Flash.

Absolut Power 

(Republican style).

That's the headline. Now if only we had some artwork...

Crossing 49 

To reach route 25 to the Canadian border, where I will officially become a landed immigrant, you first head north on Route 23 at Ritzville from I-90, about an hour West of Spokane, joining 25 at Davenport about an hour later. The land here is virtually featureless, a gently rolling semiarid plain dotted with the occasional farmhouse, occupancy uncertain, and carpeted by irrigated cropland. This time of year the crops--alfalfa, corn, and the mainstay, dryland winter wheat--are barely visible, so the impression is one of endless lawns, patchworked together with equally vast expanses of tilled earth. Overhead, pillowy clouds dot the blue sky. The road itself shoots north like a bullet--you can literally see where you are going to be 15 minutes from now--like it can't wait to get out of here.

The occasional town that one encounters does not suggest a contrary impulse; in Harrington (pop 426 and falling), I stop to contemplate a City Hall gone vacant, its windows boarded up, a vintage 60s car parked in the Mayor's parking slot with grass sprouting around its wheels. The noon sun beats down on the town, which aside from a single garden store, consists of one empty building after another, their last gasps marked by desperate, incongruous additions to their 50s era signage ("Now Serving Espresso") advertising Maytag washer repair or Champion spark plugs. A few residents wander the wide sun-bleached streets, like ants among the leftovers of a week-old wedding cake. Harrington's county, Lincoln (13% below poverty level), went for Bush 70-30 in 2004.

Getting back in the car I pop Neil Young into the CD player:
There are colours on the street
Red, white and blue
People shufflin' their feet
People sleepin' in their shoes....

Every President, seemingly no matter how mediocre, gets a nod in my adoptive state of Washington, especially around here. Garfield, Grant, and Pierce have their own contiguous counties, as does the more prepossessing Adams. Pierce's forgotten vice president, William Rufus King, whose main claim to fame seems to be that he may have been President James Buchanan's lover, perhaps appropriately got the gay-friendly oasis where I have lived for the last 24 years.

At the other end of the Presidential spectrum, Roosevelt gets a more tangible emolument in the form of Lake Roosevelt, formed by the Grand Coulee dam, the first of the rural electrification projects that literally made life in much of Eastern Washington possible, one of the great public works projects, and still the largest concrete structure in the world. These gains were not without cost. There's grim poetry in damming a river named after the first European to practice genocide against Native Americans, and flooding 400 longstanding settlements of Colville and Spokane tribes under 400 feet of water in the process. Perhaps as an attempt at apology, each tribe got a county named after them. As for the salmon that spawned upstream of the dam for millennia, well....

The lake itself, ecological disastrousness notwithstanding, is an impressive spectacle that stretches 150 miles north, to within feet of the Canadian border at the 49th parallel, its waters near the dam an almost unreal azure blue thanks to the siltation that comes with damming the turbid waters of its source, the Columbia River. Aside from the almost Stalinistically named Electric City, however, the region shows little evidence of recent benefit from the dam or the lake. Not that the area is unproductive: as Route 25 flows over and around increasingly robust canyon headlands, one continually encounters orchards in the valleys producing the apples with which the Wenatchee region is identified. It's just that, more and more, the owners are absentee agribusinesses, and the laborers illegal migrants with few rights at all. What remains is, again, a shell of what once was. At quaintly named Fruitvale, decrepit mobile homes sprout like mushrooms amid the rotting heaps of long-abandoned farm houses. Fruitvale is in Stevens County (16% below poverty). A single roadside store caters to the affluent on their way to their houseboats moored at Miles, where one can also play electronic slots on the Spokane Indian Reservation adjacent. In 2004, Stevens County voted for Bush over Kerry 64% to 33%. No word yet on plans to rename Lake Roosevelt in honor of Ronald Reagan, but to look at the lake right now, doing so would be appropriate, and not just because of the surrounding economic desolation. The lake is running a substantial drought-induced water deficit: a bathtub ring 40 feet above water level currently encircles its shores.

The approach to the Canadian border is presaged by a change in the lake's waters, which increasingly begin to darken and ripple from the Columbia River entering it a few miles farther north. The terrain, too, continues its slow but inexorable rise, and Douglas firs yield to the higher-altitude Ponderosa pines. Finally, I reach the Canadian Customs building, which the customs officers directs me to enter along with my sheaf of papers documenting family members, all our family's belongings and their declared values, permanent resident visa (as yet unexercised), financial records, and various other proofs that I am not a miscreant or other person of undesirable character.

My immigration officer is friendly, but only to a point, and her questions carry an edge that seems intended to make me wonder if they know something about me that I don't. What follows is a period of tedium mixed with anxiety familiar to anyone who has depended on a bureaucrat for something vitally important. At one point Officer Jakes whips out a ruler and proceeds to measure, to the millimeter, the dimensions of my photo on the PRV Confirmation form, matter of factly telling me that the tiniest divergence may cause the application, a year and a half in the making, to be rejected by Immigration Canada in Buffalo. I hold my breath, and finally exhale as she pronounces the dimensions just within tolerance.

As this mini-ordeal drags on, I think back to the start of my trip, 8 hours earlier, at the on-ramp to I-5 near my home in Seattle that morning. Access to I-5 is controlled during rush hour by stoplights on the on-ramps that turn green and red according to a computerized network of sensors that monitor the flow of traffic. The goal is to minimize bottlenecks at the access points. Seattle rush hour traffic is no picnic, but the system, implemented in 1981 shortly after I moved there, does work, and only minimally inconveniences motorists queued up for their turn.

Carpools, however, are exempt from having to queue. Being a carpool is easy: you need carry only one other passenger. Carpool, and you have an uncontrolled on-ramp lane all to yourself. The public policy reasoning is pretty obvious: carpools subtract from the problem that the rush-hour controlled-access system is designed to mitigate, so as an incentive, carpoolers get to sidestep the (brief) impediment to merging with your fellow commuters.

Eight o'clock that morning was a typical rush hour, and I joined a queue of about 8 cars lined up at the light. As I waited my turn, I saw in my rear-view mirror that, of the half dozen or so cars that swooshed by me in the carpool lane, not a single one carried a passenger. Not one. Conforming to stereotype, nearly all were SUVs.

To state the obvious, scofflaws were shamelessly taking advantage of a perk granted to the socially responsible (of which there were apparently very few), and in so doing, were exacerbating the very problem the rest of us sitting in line were being asked to pay for. On this on-ramp, in other words, there were basically two classes of Americans: cheaters and chumps. We awaiting our turn were chumps, because we got to pay without benefit for conscientiously following the policy, while the cheaters in the "carpool" lane got to benefit without penalty. I found this somehow paradigmatic.

Officer Jakes awoke me from my reverie. "Everything seems to be in order, Mr. Kilbourne," she announced. "And now here's something from us." She handed me what looked like a tiny, cellophane-wrapped breath mint. It was in fact a Canadian flag lapel pin.

"Welcome to Canada."

And with that, a year and a half after our family reluctantly began preparations to leave a land already bent on cannibalizing itself, I got back in my car and drove north across the 49th parallel (the rest of my family to follow soon), into a land where Columbia River still flows.

Filibuster: Breaking the rules to change the rules is the end of Constitutional government 

Yep, Bill "Hello Kitty" Frist is about to take the knife to 200 years of Senate tradition and the Constitution. As well as the notion that a Senate minority—that represents a majority of the American people (back here)—has any right to representation whatever.

Removing any doubt about his intentions, the Senate majority leader said Friday that he would try next week to advance the nominations of two judicial candidates opposed by Democrats and, should the Democrats block a vote, demand a change in Senate rules to prevent filibusters against the nominees.
(via Times)

We'll leave the pious cant and the weasel-wording about the "Constitutional Option" to the wingers who are so experienced and capable of laying down that kind of trail of slime; suffice to say, with Chuck Hagel, that the Republicans don't have clean hands on the issue.

Let's just focus on the basic fairness of what the Republicans are doing.

The Constitution also says in Article I, Section 5: "Each House [of Congress] may determine the rules of its proceedings." Senate rules permit members to engage in filibusters to stall judicial confirmation votes. Under Senate Rule XXII, even though only 51 votes are needed to confirm a nominee, it takes at least 60 votes to end a filibuster. In addition, the rule says any attempt to change a Senate rule requires the support of two-thirds of the senators "present and voting" (67 votes if all 100 senators are participating).

It is those higher vote requirements that are the intended target of the nuclear option. Under that option, the Republicans would use a majority vote (rather than 67 votes) to change the filibuster rule from 60 votes to 51 votes.
(CS Monitor)

So, it takes 67 votes (2/3) to change a rule. It take 60 (3/5) votes to end a filibuster. The Republicans are going to change the rule (should be 67 votes) with 51 (1/2 + 1), and end the filibuster (should be 60 votes) with that 51. All because they've got Dick "Dick" Cheney in the chair, and he'll ignore the Senate Parliamentarian, he'll break the rules to change the rules (as the Republicans have done over and over again.

Does that sound fair?

The bottom line, of course, is exactly what the Republicans and their Dominionist owners want: Absolute power. No opposition on Capitol Hill at all. No sunlight.

And I suggest the battle is not simply about Supreme Court judges; the battle is about the independent judidiciary, and whether the Repubublicans and their Dominionist allies are to have any checks on the absolute power they crave.

To take just one example: The RealID bill (back) contains a provision that purports to exempt the Department of Homeland Security from judicial scrutiny. (They say that's to build a fence on the Mexican border, but it's an obvious sighting shot. What next?)

How many other laws would the Republicans—with the absolute power their new rules give them—like to pass that can never be examined by the courts?

A lot, I would suggest; Republicans are very imaginative about behaviors they would like to forbid—for others.

But the bottom line is that our Constitutional experiment would perish from the earth. Federalist #78:

The judiciary has no influence over either the sword or the purse; no direction either of the strength or of the wealth of the society; and can take no active resolution whatever. It may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments.

This simple view of the matter suggests several important consequences. It proves incontestably, that the judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power; that it can never attack with success either of the other two; and that all possible care is requisite to enable it to defend itself against their attacks. It equally proves, that though individual oppression may now and then proceed from the courts of justice, the general liberty of the people can never be endangered from that quarter; I mean so long as the judiciary remains truly distinct from both the legislature and the Executive. For I agree, that "there is no liberty, if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers." And it proves, in the last place, that as liberty can have nothing to fear from the judiciary alone, but would have every thing to fear from its union with either of the other departments; that as all the effects of such a union must ensue from a dependence of the former on the latter, notwithstanding a nominal and apparent separation; that as, from the natural feebleness of the judiciary, it is in continual jeopardy of being overpowered, awed, or influenced by its co-ordinate branches; and that as nothing can contribute so much to its firmness and independence as permanency in office, this quality may therefore be justly regarded as an indispensable ingredient in its constitution, and, in a great measure, as the citadel of the public justice and the public security.

The complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited Constitution. By a limited Constitution, I understand one which contains certain specified exceptions to the legislative authority; such, for instance, as that it shall pass no bills of attainder [as the Republicans did in the Terry Schiavo case], no ex post facto laws, and the like. Limitations of this kind can be preserved in practice no other way than through the medium of courts of justice, whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing.

The Dominionist boot, stamping on a human face. Forever.

NOTE That this assault on the judiciary is long planned and policy-based is evident from the counterfactual rhetoric employed by the Dominionists in the aftermath of the Terry Schiavo case. The rhetoric was all about unelected liberal judges—despite the fact that Judge Greer was (1) elected (66% majority), (2) a registered Republican, and (3) a churchgoing Baptist. But your typical winger never lets the facts get in the way of a good assault on the Constitution.

UPDATE According to WaPo, Frist and Reid are going to have dinner on Monday. I hope Reid brings his own foodtaster:

Though nothing is fixed, negotiators believe they may have the seed of a real solution that allows Frist to bring all the nominees to floor, while leaving the filibuster rule intact -- a crucial demand of the Democrats, who want the option of using the filibuster on future Supreme Court nominees. Democrats are increasingly optimistic that they may be able to attract enough Republican support to kill the rule-change effort outright.

The two leaders have set a tentative deadline of the end of the day Monday to conclude their negotiations. Frist and Reid have a previously arranged dinner date Sunday at Frist's home.

People familiar with the talks cautioned that nothing is fixed. "It's not soup yet," said one senior Senate aide. But there is a growing belief on both sides that if a credible alternative with a guaranteed outcome is presented, it would change the dynamic of the debate, by exposing a substantial bloc of bipartisan support for a compromise. Although the most vociferous Democratic and Republican factions appear to be itching for a showdown, many rank-and-file senators are loath to tamper with Senate rules and are weary of the judicial battle, a massive distraction that threatens to grind business to a halt for months to come.

Leaving the filibuster rule intact this time. Since the word of the Republicans is not good, we can be sure they'll try again. Frankly, I think it's better that a Republican Congress can't pass any laws; especially if the way the Dems tie the chamber up is by introducing the kind of bills the Republicans ought to be passing. We could start with a resolution thanking the citizens who bought their own children body armor for Iraq, and we could end up with "Common Good" health insurance for all.

This Is How You Represent 

Rep. John Conyers of Michigan is stepping out of the Greek chorus of doleful Dems to become a real leader.

First he puts together a letter signed by 88 House members demanding that Bush respond to the questions raised by the release of the damning memo in the Sunday Times of London (the one that reveals Bush's intent to wage war in direct contradiction to his claims).

Now Raw Story reveals that he prepped one signed by 51 House members to be sent to the White House demanding Alberto Gonzales appoint a special counsel to investigate US war crimes. From the letter, here is the money quote:
"Therefore, given the Administration's concession that the Geneva Conventions apply to Iraqi and Taliban prisoners, given its concession in the Gonzalez memo that a violation of the Conventions would also constitute a violation of federal criminal law, and given the flagrant violations of the Conventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay which have been confirmed by official investigations, it is clear that a prima facie violation of federal criminal law exists. It is also evident that high-ranking Administration officials, including the Defense Secretary, as well as high-ranking military officials, may have authorized these actions and are potentially subject to criminal prosecution as well."
That's right---our "elfin Secretary of Defense" as Gore Vidal called him. And just in case you think it odd that Conyers is appealing to Gonzales himself, given all we know of his complicity, Conyers ends with this (emphasis mine):
"While Private Lynndie England and other low-ranking officers have pled guilty, those who ordered and authorized their actions appear to have been protected by the military and this Administration. Because so many high level officials, including you, have been implicated in these events, the only way to ensure impartiality is through the appointment of a Special Counsel. Indeed, our nation's integrity is at stake. We must reassure the world that we will fairly and independently pursue legal violations wherever they occur."
The letter is dated May 12, and according to Raw Story, would be "issued shortly".

Send Conyers a bouquet and some candy. As Lambert likes to say, "Reward good behavior".

Friday, May 13, 2005

Good night, moon 

Hey, smooth move by those Gitmo interrogators, flushing the Koran down the toilet. That'll teach 'em!

Rally Round The Flag 

Via indybay.org, by way of the tireless Jackie Chiles at The Airing Of Grievances, we find the Germans having a little guffaw:
"Police in Germany are hunting pranksters who have been sticking miniature flag portraits of US President George W. Bush into piles of dog poo in public parks. Josef Oettl, parks administrator for Bayreuth, said: "This has been going on for about a year now, and there must be 2,000 to 3,000 piles of excrement that have been claimed during that time."
And the photo, which I will spare the passing motorist, is priceless, simply priceless.

For those of you with time on your hands and a similar bent for political theater, you can download the images for flagmaking here. Others so inspired but lacking the arts and crafts talent, can just order them direct, here.

Go ahead. Support the poops.

Hey, Joey Ratz! 

You wanna canonize someone?
While you're mulling over how to dredge up a miracle performed by a pope whose policies on condoms helped spread AIDS and destroy millions throughout Africa, this man performed miracles on that same continent for 60 years!

That is a saint.

From the Halls Of Montezuma... 


In our bitch, Afghanistan, where getting into bed with the warlords hasn't worked out that well for us.

In our good friend, Uzbekistan, where boiling enemies of the state alive seems to have oddly made things worse.

In the hallowed halls of Congress, where taxation without representation is the Bill Frist rallying cry.

In Indonesia, which has a problem with our interviewing skills.

And how could I forget Iraq, where guerilla attacks have escalated to more than 75 a day, and suicide bombings occur daily?

Truly, our leader is the paragon of animals.


Goodnight, moon 

There's a theory running around that the Republicans have such a sense of impunity because it's an open secret among them that they have the voting systems completely rigged, and they know the story will never be covered.


On the other hand, RDF's dream is really beautiful, and let's hope and work to make it come true.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Whack: Civil war 

No, not the Red States and the Blue States all over again, silly! In Iraq!

As always, the numbers tell the story:

Insurgents are staging about 75 attacks a day, up from 30 to 40 daily six weeks ago, according to the U.S. military. Increasingly, the rebels appear to be employing car bombs. In April, the military recorded 135 car bombs, almost doubling the number in March, said Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, a military spokesman here said.

This month — when as many as a dozen car bombs have exploded in a single day — may set a bleak new record. U.S. authorities concede that they have yet to find a way to control the insurgents' most effective weapon. "There's no foolproof method against it," Boylan said.

The offensive appears to coincide with the seating of a U.S.-backed government three months after a parliamentary election in January.

Military officials said the surge in violence more than two years after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein was probably the result of weeks of planning and marshaling of resources, especially suicide bombers and bomb-laden vehicles.

In a separate offensive by the U.S. military, Marines have captured or killed scores of guerrillas in an offensive underway in western Iraq aimed at foreign fighters allegedly infiltrating the country from neighboring Syria.

U.S. officials believe that the bulk of the guerrilla force is made up of disenchanted Sunni Arab Iraqis, including many who lost their livelihoods after the fall of Hussein, and that no more than 10% of the guerrilla force is composed of foreigners.

That would be no more than 2,000 of the 20,000 hard-core fighters said to be operating in Iraq, according to estimates from government and private experts. More than 10,000 guerrilla suspects are also in U.S. custody in Iraq.
(via LA Times)

Not a lot of good options, here. Sure, we had the Marines level Fallujah, but that didn't do a lot of good. Now the insurgents are going after Baghdad. We're going to level Baghdad?

Helicopters off the roofs in the Green Zone, anyone?

Whack: More proof that we're winning 

I know we've all made up our minds... But it's really too bad Iraq isn't a story anymore. Because the story keeps getting worse. Reading all the way to the closing paragraphs:

American officials had hoped that the advent of an elected government, with a mandate from nearly nine million Iraqis who voted in January's elections, would persuade wavering elements in the Sunni-led insurgency to join in the American-sponsored effort to establish a Western-style democracy.

But so far, those hopes have been shattered by an eruption of violence that has carried the insurgency to levels rarely seen in the 25 months since American troops seized Baghdad, and left the new government of Prime Minister Jaafari looking vulnerable only nine days after it was sworn into office.
(via Times)

Well, at least we can drive from the airport to downtown Baghdad without getting shot or bombed. That's progress! Oh wait....

Republicans vs. the Constitution: Frist punches the nuclear button 

Here we go:

The Senate continued its march toward a historic partisan showdown today, as the Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee approved another of President Bush's controversial nominees to a federal appeals court despite vows from Democrats to block the nomination with a filibuster.
(via WaPo)

What Kos says:
Open-ended debate? Frist doesn't have the votes and hopes that having the issue on the floor of the Senate for several days will be enough to bear pressure on the wayward members of his caucus.

Some people have been frustrated at efforts within the Democratic caucus (including Reid) to craft a compromise with the other side. However, that is a necessary component to stopping this thing in its tracks.

Remember, the end game isn't seven judges nominated to the appelate court. It's the Supreme Court. Therefore, letting some of these judges through to have the filibuster handy for the next Supreme Court battle is a legit tradeoff.

And from a strategic standpoint, keep in mind that the GOP will suffer a serious bloody nose if Frist loses. However, the only way he loses is if he suffers six defections within his ranks. So how does Reid ensure he gets those six votes? Well, not by being an unbending, uncompromising ass.

Those Republicans that vote with Democrats are going to need a great deal of political cover, lest they get hit hard by their base and the GOP leadership. The easiest way to give them that cover is to point to repeated efforts by Democrats to compromise, including deals that would've essentially given most of these judges an up or down vote.

Talking to my sources on the Hill, no one has any clue how this will turn out. Reid is playing his cards close to his chest. But Frist's actions speak louder than words. If he had the votes, this thing would've happened by now. Instead, he'll hold an open-ended "debate" to try and twist as many arms as he can. It's up to Reid and his GOP allies, whoever they may be, to run out the clock.

Let's hope.

corrente Wants To Know 

I'm sick to my broken heart of this. Aren't you?

Thanks to the devastating Mr. Fish.

It's Good To Dream (Sigh) 

(Associated Press, November 23, 2006) In a stunning reversal, both the Senate and House of Representatives are in control of the Democrats, along with a smattering of Greens, Libertarians and Independents. Twenty Republicans in both houses have formed a caucus and have switched parties, opting to become what they call “Eisenhower Republicans.” They plan to build coalitions with Libertarians, as their primary concern is with battling the neocon agenda, which seemed unbeatable in 2005. This leaves the original GOP with the smallest minority in both houses. The House and Senate majority leaders vowed that “immediate steps toward impeachment and indictments for breaches of international and domestic law” would be taken against the Bush administration. The administration has declined comment, saying that it was “looking into voting irregularities.”

These “irregularities” resulted when millions of voters shunned electronic voting devices and demanded paper absentee and provisional ballots and meticulous hand counts. This resulted in a protracted vote count and certification. In thousands of districts nationwide, crowds gathered outside clerk’s offices and county commission chambers with torches and pitchforks, demanding an accurate count.

Many believe that voters were angered by accounts in the newly aggressive media and in “blogs” that showed, among other things, widespread lies, abuses of power and voting scams on the part of the administration and GOP politicians. Whistleblowers in the GOP disgusted at what their party had become played a large part in this exposure.

The results in state and local races mirrored the national results. World leaders were quick to breathe a sigh of relief, offering to gather in a summit with “anybody but Bush” to hammer out an end to nuclear weapons, poverty and environmental degradation.


The following is courtesy of esteemed reader MJS, who left this gem in the comments to Riggsveda's post below.


The Bad Magician becomes a child, and makes an army of fingers. On the floor of the desert hands become tanks and troops are deployed. Choosing to become a giant, the Bad Magician fashions a dark covenant; clouds roll by and whisper. The fingers report: "We have danced on the road to Damascus, and made like ants into the sand. We are waiting for the men in suits."

The Bad Magician mixes colors for a special piece of art: the insides of the eyes of the Middle Eastern God are painted to suggest the land of Abu Grahib, and the scarecrow shadows envelop the field of vision, and black birds build nests of bones along the eyebrows. Yahweh lies decrepit, covered in a pale coat of lifeless dust; he tries to rise but breaks in a thousand pieces, like the fracturing skin of a weathered lie.

The Generals turn to see the darkening of the sun and suspect that a cadre of local merchants possess a secret. God is dead in Iraq. Long live God. The Generals lay their men out on white cloth, and put chokeholds on their hearts.

The Bad Magician, in top hat, tails and with an elegant cane, emerges with the ants, the army of the hands of children; the Bad Magician crooks his arms and jitterbugs in the desert, the wind a whirling partner on the road to Damascus.

More soldiers die. More civilians bleed. A child holds his hand up towards the heavy sun, wondering if his fingers will march like the dead. The Generals, sworn to perform their duty, see only shadows in the night. They fear the dance.

MJS | 05.12.05 - 12:09

Doomed To Repeat It Doomed To Repeat It Doomed To Repeat It 

Amy Goodman has given some marvelous air to Seymour Hersh on the radio show Democracy Now, about the increasingly common tales of torture and abuse oozing out from under the rocks. Yesterday she spoke with him on the events building in Iraq. It's a fascinating interview--he talks about the declassified documents that, in 2000, revealed that Cheney and Rumsfeld had discussed ways to shut him up when he was reporting on the Vietnam War, and considered typically Nixonian options like having the FBI break into his house, or trying to force the NYTimes to shut him up--but particularly interesting was this:

"SEYMOUR HERSH: But we created an image that they were planning massive attacks. And when they didn't come off -- they were the usual daily assortment of attacks -- it's a victory. I mean, the information is totally controlled by the American government. I don't fault the press in Baghdad, because they can't get out and they can’t do it. They're stuck.

AMY GOODMAN: Civil war?

SEYMOUR HERSH: Why not? What is it? Where do you think we're at? There was a piece in The New York Times a week ago Sunday in the magazine section. I would say one of the most stunningly obtuse -- I don't know what they're thinking in my old newspaper. A piece essentially praising the fact that we have -- the United States is supporting a paramilitary group --.

AMY GOODMAN: This is the cover of the magazine, the “Salvadorization of Iraq.”

SEYMOUR HERSH: Right, and as you mentioned in your talk last night, with one of the American commanders who was involving and supporting and aiding the El Salvadorian hunter-killer teams back two decades ago, in charge, being the adviser to this group -- this is a group that, in The New York Times story, committed significant violations of the Geneva Convention, and it's almost being praised by it.There isn’t a sense in the article -- there is not any sense of the big picture, that these are violations of the Geneva Convention, that this is exactly -- this is the former Mukhabarat, the former secret police of Saddam. These are the people that we went to war against, and we're now writing articles in favor of them."

Add Negroponte, stir, and serve.

It's been apparent for some time that what 's happening in Iraq is civil war. I used to scratch my head as I watched it growing, and wonder why our policy was so clueless about it, but now I understand: the chaos of this kind of war offers infinite cover for the same kinds of maneuvering and atrocity-filled repressions that we saw in Vietnam and El Salvador. This kind of madness just feeds on itself, each horror reaping a retaliatory horror, until the overall "mission" is lost in a blood-red haze of escalating vengeance. Does anyone know what we're doing there anymore? Does anyone really think all those torture stories are old news? Read the Peter Maass article Hersh referenced in the interview, and be disabused.

Oh, That Again? 

Bush's plan to spread freedom and democracy has evidently convinced these beneficiaries of it:
"Four protesters were killed and more than 60 injured Wednesday in the eastern city of Jalalabad as the police and troops struggled to contain the worst anti-American demonstrations in Afghanistan in the more than three years since the fall of the Taliban.
Government officials said the violence appeared to have been planned and that religious hard-liners and armed men had usurped what had started as a student protest."
And what was it that prompted this display of Bushco solidarity? Well, nothing more than the very thing that the bovine American public yawns at every time some boring old story about it gets waggled in front of their sleepy eyes--frat hazing:
"The demonstrations were started on Tuesday by students angered by a report in Newsweek that American interrogators at the Guantánamo Bay detention center had desecrated the Koran by flushing a copy down the toilet.
It was unclear how the protesters got word of the report, but many Afghans receive their news from radio programs broadcast in local languages by Voice of America, the BBC and Radio Liberty, which often broadcast foreign news reports.
They carried banners condemning the reported sacrilege, chanted anti-American slogans and burned President Bush in effigy. The protest proceeded peacefully on Tuesday, but on Wednesday it suddenly turned violent, with hundreds of stone-throwing and stick-wielding demonstrators spreading across town. Soon they were breaking into compounds, smashing cars and setting buildings on fire."
Good grief! Gitmo again? Why don't these people get over it? Just because stories like this and this (damn that ACLU!) keep showing up doesn't mean Americans aren't serious about bringing freedom to their benighted little brown-skinned brothers and sisters.


Exodus: To Eldorado! 

Warren Jeffs and his fundamentalist Elect go in search of fabulous wealth and opportunity - in Eldorado! Eldorado Texas that is.

"The biggest thing they are taught is obedience and to not question anything."

Read: Tempest in Texas - Racist cult 'prophet' Warren Jeffs is on the move, and a tiny West Texas town fears another Waco, By Susy Buchanan. (via the Southern Poverty Law Center)
'Obey the Prophet'
Short Creek is completely dominated by Jeffs. FLDS members control the city government, the police force, the schools, and every aspect of life.

"Obey the prophet when he speaks and you'll be blessed," Jeffs has said. "Disobey him and it's death."

In late 2004, Jeffs asked his disciples to stand if they would be willing to die for him. No one remained seated.

"He asked them would they die for him. Well, that's a veiled question," says Richard Holm, a former elder in the FLDS church who was excommunicated in 2003. "'Would you kill for me?' is the subtle question within that question."

In the two years since he became prophet, Jeffs has ordered all dogs shot; closed the town zoo; forbidden television, holidays, movies and music; banned laughter; forbidden swimming and water sports, and sent "God Squads" of young men to inspect residences and report any violations of his edicts.

Ya know, one might think that the cheeky limo-pampered wowsers over at CNN or MSNBC would be besides themselves with excitable glee over the possibilities this story presents. Everything from runaway child brides, underage sex, multi-million dollar real estate development, old time "traditional" patriarchal family values - and - Biblical Law in action! All unleashed for the greater glory of His invisible hand and the sacred vision of one Dear "God commanded" Leader! What more could the go-getter hell-poppers and culture warriors at CNN and MSNBC wish for? This story even involves Texas! Which, as you all know, is the horny cheerleaders gone wild state.

Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) leader Warren Jeffs speaks his mind:
On Violence
"I want to remind you what the prophets have taught us, that whenever a man of God is commanded to kill another man, he is never bloodthirsty."

The End of the World
"For our God has a controversy with the nations, and He is about to stretch forth His hand and sweep the wicked off this land."

"Today the Lord rules over this people through President Jeffs, yet we're under the bondage of the gentiles here in America. Soon the Lord will overthrow our nation and the priesthood people will rule over this land because the priesthood people will be the only ones left."

"Your only survival will be to be lifted up. It will be the greatest earthquake ever to come on the earth. The great war before the earthquake will kill 2 billion and the earthquake will kill quite a bit of those that are left — besides diseases and other things."

"When we finally go to Zion, then another planet is going to crash into this earth."

Actually, as I recall, Debbie Norville (America's kindergarten teacher), reported on Warren Jeffs and his sainted Christian Nation cult a while back. But, alas, MSNBC disappeared her soon after that. And no follow-up ever ensued.

I'm sure Pat "Armies of Armageddon" Buchanan - or Joe banjo Scarborough - or Nancy "the Angel of Death Penalty" Grace, can make "common sense" of it all for US.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Red State Values 

Even Red State folks here in Missouri don't like slashing Medicaid to the bone. (As Paul Krugman mentioned in a recent column, Missouri currently plans to eliminate the Medicaid program by 2008.) My Republican governor, Matt Blunt, has a 33% approval rating. 57% of Missourians disapprove of the job he is doing as Governor. According to Survey USA, of the 50 states, my governor's rating is 48th out of 50. Only two other Republican governors, Frank Murkowski of Alaska (27%) and Bob Taft of Ohio (19%) have lower approval ratings.

And, I remind you, this is in a state that pretty easily went for the Chimperor in November.

Now if only the idiotic voters in this state would just remember this sort of thing for more than ten seconds maybe we could turn out the morons in the legislature too.

Goodnight, moon 

Gee, I thought Frist would have pushed the nukular button by now... What could be holding him up, I wonder? After all, surgeons are famous for their decisiveness; don't want a shaky hand making the cut, after all...

So, how bad can the Real ID bill be, anyhow? 

About as bad as possible.

Besides setting up a national ID system, placing every American's identity at risk of theft, and laying the groundwork for a RFID-enabled system of internal passport controls, the RealID sets a precedent for the executive branch overiding any law without judicial review:

H.R. 418 [the Real ID Act of 2005] would provide additional waiver authority over laws that might impede the expeditious construction of barriers and roads along the border. H.R. 418 would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive any and all laws that he determines necessary, in his sole discretion, to ensure the expeditious construction of barriers and roads under IIRIRA § 102...

Section 102 of H.R. 418 would amend the current provision to require the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive any law upon determining that a waiver is necessary for the expeditious construction of the border barriers. Additionally, it would prohibit judicial review of a waiver decision or action by the Secretary and bar judicially ordered compensation or injunction or other remedy for damages alleged to result from any such decision or action.
(via Ars Technica)


But it's that "barriers and roads" part that got me.

What if the "barrier" were the fence around a concentration camp, and the roads were for the trucks to take people in?

Just saying. Of course, there's probably no real possibility other than genuine traitors (and gay people) getting sent behind the barrier.

And we don't really need the law or the courts to protect us anyhow. We have Dear Leader!

Oh Plato, Plato, you have paved the way... 

... with your confounded fantasies...

Anyhow, Larry Flynt enters the John Bolton saga:

Corroborated allegations that Mr. Bolton’s first wife, Christina Bolton, was forced to engage in group sex have not been refuted by the State Department despite inquires posed by Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt concerning the allegations. Mr. Flynt has obtained information from numerous sources that Mr. Bolton participated in paid visits to Plato’s Retreat, the popular swingers club that operated in New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
(via Raw Story)

And before you say, Larry Flynt—he had the goods on Livingston during the Republicans coup against Clinton, didn't he?

What is it with Republican guys forcing women into group sex, anyhow? First that loon from Illinois, the one Obama beat down, Jack Ryan, now this. What next?

God knows, I hate to be skeptical about Bush and all the extremely non-political terror alerts 

so I'm trying really hard not to put on my tinfoil hat about The Cessna That Evacuated Capitol Hill (though I sure hope the Dems locked up their files when they left the office).


A small plane strayed within three miles of the White House on Wednesday, leading to frantic evacuation of the Executive Mansion and the Capitol with military jets scrambling to intercept the aircraft and firing flares to steer it away.

In the 3 1/2 years since [9/11], hundreds of small planes have flown within the restricted airspace around the capital - a 15 3/4-mile radius around the Washington Monument.

However, it's rare for fighter jets to be scrambled in response.
(via AP)

So, why now? Just asking....

Run, Condi, Run! 

What other possible explanation can there be for a gratuitous statement like this?

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, recalling how her father took up arms to defend fellow blacks from racist whites in the segregated South, said Wednesday [that]"The Second Amendment is as important as the First Amendment."
(via AP)

She's buying a little credibility with the wingers, isn't she? How sweet.

And I must say, I like the scenario where Dick "Dick" Cheney's heart condition forces him to resign in 2006—in Condi's favor...

Still, the way things are going right now, I think Condi's supposed sop to the wingers would find agreement across the entire political spectrum! At last, a uniter!

So, why no vote on the nuclear option, yet? 

I'm tired of waiting. Let's just deal with it. Reid says he's ready. So where's Frist?

Annals of Shamles...s......n.............e....................... 

Honestly, I almost don't have the energy to finish typing that word.

However, despite the embarrassment of shameless riches this administration continues to contribute to our national dialogue, as Bush & Co continues to pull justifications, ideology, policy, and religion out of its annal, when yet another example surfaces we have a duty to make note.
Ridge reveals clashes on alerts
By Mimi Hall, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says.

Ridge, who resigned Feb. 1, said Tuesday that he often disagreed with administration officials who wanted to elevate the threat level to orange, or "high" risk of terrorist attack, but was overruled.


Ridge said he wanted to "debunk the myth" that his agency was responsible for repeatedly raising the alert under a color-coded system he unveiled in 2002.

"More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it," Ridge told reporters. "Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on (alert). ... There were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said, 'For that?' "

For what,indeed? No, the story makes no mention of the issue of political motivations around the timing of the alerts, and contents itself with the technical questions involved in issuing alerts; among all the candidates for Ridge-clashers, only Ashcroft is mentioned by name. Ridge hesitated to issue multiple alerts because he knew that meant a lot of hassle and diversion of funds for local and state governments, and he also felt that too heavy an emphasis on the alerts would dilute their impact. No kidding. On the other hand, the public was disenamoured of the whole system right from the beginning.

I happened to catch Ridge Monday night on the Daily Show and he was adamant about denying any political motivation on the part of those within the administration who were alert-happy, so don't expect this story to go anywhere near that wagging dog tail; this isn't that down and dirty Clinton administration of whom all journalists were rightfully suspicious.

On the other hand, there is a lesson to be learned here, about the ways in which Rove/Bush & Co are often smarter than we are. Undoubtedly they knew the alerts were not being well-received, and were even being laughed at, but they also knew that those alerts contributed, even if only below the surface of consciousness, to an atmosphere of fear, a wartime atmosphere which was going to prove essential in the 2004 campaign. What they also knew was that they would never be called on the political use of those alerts by anyone who mattered in the SCLM. That, my friends, is how they get away with it again, and again, and ag........

Last Night 

Wandering around the perimeter of the field last night, looking at the stars, a wee bit drunk, I was reminded of the empires that have risen and fallen. I was reminded of the many times the greed- and fear-mongers have tried to assume complete control of those who had something they wanted, or had something they feared. Sometimes it just hits me that way, outside, walking on the earth, the transience of power and wealth.

The ground I was walking on was once covered by a vast inland sea, I’m told by the godless geologists. Fish and huge sharks and icthyosaurs once swam where I walk. Later, the sea dried up and huge land animals walked here until they, too, disappeared. Mountains rose up. Later, humans emerged and lived here. Then later, the land here was stolen from a couple of different tribes, and the government and churches worked very hard to exterminate their culture and Christianize them, but you know what? They didn’t succeed. In the old country, the government and churches tried real hard to exterminate my family’s culture and Christianize them. They didn’t succeed. And no matter how hard the current capitalist theocrats try to eradicate my culture and Christianize me, they won’t succeed either.

So, bring it on. Mother earth will have the last say. Those who don’t respect her and her children will soon find that she has limits of tolerance. And as she makes up her mind about humans and what to do with them, I will continue to struggle in my own little ways for those who are victims of greed and of intolerant, ignorant ideologies, keeping in mind all that has come before—the arc of history is long but it bends toward justice. And equilibrium. As Little Milton says,

No matter how great thou art,
No matter what you’re worth,
When it all is up,
You gotta go back to Mother Earth.

And that’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing. Remembering it keeps things in perspective. And a few stiff drinks don’t hurt, either. Those self-satisfied smirks and self-assured snarlings will sooner or later turn to hands begging for forgiveness.

At least that’s how I felt last night, a little drunk and looking at the stars and the ground.

Remember "No Taxation Without Representation?" Well, Forget It. 

Your Senate unanimously passed the appropriations bill with the Real ID booby prize tucked inside.

According to Raw Story, the Dems were shut out of the debate over Real ID,(though it doesn't seem to have stopped them from going along):
"Both chambers of Congress have already passed their versions of the bill; the Senate version does not contain REAL ID but it is expected to be added during negotiations. Senate Democrats say they are being kept out of discussions in much the same way that the House Democrats were barred from negotiations in late 2004."
Lambert's favorite Senator had this to say:
"Democrats have been completely shut out of the backroom negotiations
that I understand have taken place this week about the REAL ID Act,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said.
“This is not the way the United States Senate should be doing business, and this is certainly not the way the American people expect that the laws that govern their daily lives will be produced," he added. "This is yet another example of the Republican leadership's abuse of power."
All this fuss over the filibuster, and meanwhile, deep in the bowels of the Congresional bodies, Republicans are quietly cutting off half the nation's citizens' access to their government in little backroom deals and with the help of a mostly sedated Democratic "opposition". I suppose if they had attached an amendment to the bill requiring all people over 50 to show up at Selective Service for repatriation to the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, they would have gone along with that, too, since it would have been attached to a "support the troops" bill.

I'm away from the computer much of the day after this, so maybe my blood pressure will go back down.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

Here's a wonderful article by Garrison Keillor on radio:

Good-neighbor radio used to be everywhere and was especially big in big cities--WGN in Chicago, WCCO in Minneapolis-St. Paul, WOR in New York, KOA in Denver, KMOX in St. Louis, KSL in Salt Lake City--where avuncular men chatted about fishing and home repair and other everyday things and Library Week was observed and there was live coverage of a tornado or a plane crash and on summer nights you heard the ball game. Meanwhile lawn mowers were sold and skin cream and dairy goods and flights to Acapulco.

The deregulation of radio was tough on good-neighbor radio because Clear Channel and other conglomerates were anxious to vacuum up every station in sight for fabulous sums of cash and turn them into robot repeaters.

After the iPod takes half the radio audience and satellite radio subtracts half of the remainder and Internet radio gets a third of the rest and Clear Channel has to start cutting its losses and selling off frequencies, good-neighbor radio will come back. People do enjoy being spoken to by other people who are alive and who live within a few miles of you.

The reason you find an army of right-wingers ratcheting on the radio and so few liberals is simple: Republicans are in need of affirmation, they don't feel comfortable in America and they crave listening to people who think like them. Liberals actually enjoy living in a free society; tuning in to hear an echo is not our idea of a good time.

I don't worry about the right-wingers on AM radio. They are talking to an audience that is stuck in rush-hour traffic, in whom road rage is mounting, and the talk shows divert their rage from the road to the liberal conspiracy against America. Instead of ramming your rear bumper, they get mad at Harry Reid. Yes, the wingers do harm, but the worst damage is done to their own followers, who are cheated of the sort of genuine experience that enables people to grow up.

(via The Nation)

Giving shy persons the strength to get up and do what needs to be done.

The Princeton filibuster 

Et tu, John? 

McCain tries to compromise; Frist... Well, he can't compromise, can he? The theocrats own him.

Arizona Sen. John McCain privately urged fellow Republicans Tuesday to compromise with Democrats over President Bush's stalled judicial nominees, but Majority Leader Bill Frist countered by asking which of the controversial appeals court candidates should be jettisoned as part of a deal, according to officials familiar with the meeting.

Which should be jettisoned? How about the craziest? Of course, that might take some time to figure out...

With a Senate showdown looming, possibly as early as next week, Democratic leader Harry Reid publicly challenged Frist to allow GOP senators to "follow their consciences" when voting on a streamlined procedure for certain judicial nominations. "Senators should be bound by Senate loyalty rather than party loyalty on a question of this magnitude," he wrote.

[McCain] described Reid as a man of his word and said Republicans should trust reassurances he's made about any future Supreme Court appointments. Democrats want their right to filibuster judicial appointees as part of any compromise.
(via AP)

Seems like McCain won't be running for President of the Theocratic States of America, unlike Bill "Here Kitty" Frist...

Et tu, Kenneth? 

Even Ken Starr thinks the Republican plan to "break the rules to change the rules" is a bad idea:

Kenneth Starr — an appeals court judge on the D.C. circuit from 1983-1989 — came out against the Republican plan to ban judicial filibusters on Monday. He told CBS Evening News that it is a "radical, radical departure from our history and our traditions, and it amounts to an assault on the judicial branch of government."
(via SF Chroncicle)

So, even the Federalist Society isn't on board with this. Looks like it's a pure [cough] Christian show!

Reid to Bush: Bring it on 

I'm just wild about Harry:

I still consider this confrontation entirely unnecessary and irresponsible. The White House manufactured this crisis. Since Bush took office, the Senate confirmed 208 of his judicial nominations and turned back only 10, a 95% confirmation rate. Instead of accepting that success and avoiding further divisiveness and partisanship in Washington, the President chose to pick fights instead of judges by resubmitting the names of the rejected nominees.

This fight is not about seven radical nominees; it’s about clearing the way for a Supreme Court nominee who only needs 51 votes, instead of 60 votes. They want a Clarence Thomas, not a Sandra Day O’Connor or Anthony Kennedy or David Souter. George Bush wants to turn the Senate into a second House of Representatives, a rubberstamp for his right wing agenda and radical judges. That’s not how America works.

Reid then gives two Frist two options:

First, allow up or down votes on additional nominees, as I addressed in my proposal to Frist two weeks ago. If this is about getting judges on the courts, let’s get them on the courts.

Second, allow the Senate to consider changing the rules without breaking the rules. Every one of us knows that there is a right way and a wrong way to change the rules of the Senate; the nuclear option is the wrong way. Senator Dodd will go to the floor this afternoon to expand on the way the Senate changes its rules.

I suggest that Senator Frist introduce his proposal as a resolution. If he does, we commit to moving it through the Rules Committee expeditiously and allow for a vote on the floor. It takes 67 votes to change the rules. If Senator Frist can’t achieve 67 votes, then clearly the nuclear option is not in the best interest of the Senate or the nation.

Either of these options offers a path away from the precipice of the nuclear option. But if neither of these options is acceptable to you, let’s vote.
(via Raw Story)


Never forget the Democratic Senators represent an outright majority of the country's voters—and they are our only voice in Washington. Shouldn't we have a say in our country's future?

And He Should Know... 

This—and your other confessions and post hoc apologies—is almost enough to make me take back all those nasty things I said back in the 60’s, Robert McNamara. Oh, all right. I take it back. Hell, at least you can admit you were wrong, and that means you’re a mensch, in a world where they’re few and far between. Keep on. His latest is in that lefty rag, Foreign Policy. A sample from the intro:

It is time - well past time, in my view - for the United States to cease its Cold War-style reliance on nuclear weapons as a foreign-policy tool. At the risk of appearing simplistic and provocative, I would characterize current US nuclear weapons policy as immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary, and dreadfully dangerous. The risk of an accidental or inadvertent nuclear launch is unacceptably high. Far from reducing these risks, the Bush administration has signaled that it is committed to keeping the US nuclear arsenal as a mainstay of its military power - a commitment that is simultaneously eroding the international norms that have limited the spread of nuclear weapons and fissile materials for 50 years...

...The whole situation seems so bizarre as to be beyond belief. On any given day, as we go about our business, the president is prepared to make a decision within 20 minutes that could launch one of the most devastating weapons in the world. To declare war requires an act of congress, but to launch a nuclear holocaust requires 20 minutes’ deliberation by the president and his advisors. But that is what we have lived with for 40 years. With very few changes, this system remains largely intact, including the “football,” the president’s constant companion.

Scary shit, at least if you spent your formative years in classrooms practicing duck and cover drills under threat of immediate annihilation, while the neighbors built bomb shelters. The whole thing is here: Apocalypse Soon

Sweet dreams.

Connect the Dots 

Of course, neither of the writers of these stories saw any conceivable connection between them…….from this morning’s WaPo:
Responding to widespread criticism, Department of Homeland Security officials are considering changes to the color-coded terrorism warning system and other methods of providing more useful information to the public without causing panic or disclosing closely held intelligence.

Among the possibilities forwarded to Secretary Michael Chertoff are issuing lower-key alerts on the department's Web site -- as the State Department does now with travel advisories -- rather than by holding news conferences, and changing the color categories to numbers or letters, current and former officials said.

Also, the department may launch a years-long public education campaign, including television documentaries and participation in made-for-TV movies, officials said.
Homeland Security officials privately acknowledge the many flaws of the system under which the threat level was raised from yellow, or "elevated risk" of attack, to orange, or "high risk," six times between September 2002 and last fall.

Hmm, now what exactly was it that happened last fall that would make that the cutoff for consideration of this issue? Don’t tell me we could be talking about the election! NO! How could that be involved? Well, let’s look through the rest of the paper while waiting for inspiration to strike.

What have we here…? WaPo again:
A Democratic polling memo released yesterday found that women, who voted for President Bush last year in large numbers, have begun migrating back to their traditional home in the Democratic Party as the public's agenda has shifted from homeland security and terrorism to domestic concerns such as jobs and the economy.

The memo, released by Lake Snell Perry Mermin & Associates Inc., found women picked unnamed Democratic congressional candidates over Republicans by a 13-point margin. It also found that several key groups of women who voted Republican last year are now evenly or almost evenly split between the parties. Married women are now evenly split, while white women favor Democrats by three percentage points. Kerry lost both groups by 11 points.

"Homeland security and terrorism dominated the public's security agenda for several years following September 11th," the memo said. "However, the current focus appears to have shifted from safeguarding against terrorism to a stronger emphasis on issues that hit home financially. In dozens of recent focus groups among many different cohorts of women, concerns like retirement, health care and economic security are trumping the sorts of homeland security concerns that dominated women's issue agenda before the last election."
Start spreadin’ the word: If anything blows up, falls over, catches fire, turns pale or takes sick in large numbers, it’s the fault of George Bush and the Republicans who failed to protect us. ‘Cuz you just know if this trend keeps up they’ll try to hit us with the Terrorist Attack Stick again to drive the weepy waffly womenfolk back into Righty Camp.

Nukular Family 

Julia over at American Street picks up a story that Trish Wilson has been following for awhile, about a 7 months pregnant mother of 2 who lost her children to a ruling by a New York State Family Court judge, Damian Amodeo, who also happens to serve on a commission appointed by the Chief Judge of New York State to improve the family court’s handling of custody matters. For 4 years she went in front of this man, bringing against her ex evidence and allegations of his physical and emotional abuse of herself and the children, and Amodeo consistently ruled against her. Then Amodeo ruled recently that the ex could move with the children to Texas, effectively eliminating the mom from their lives:
"Having lost supervised visitation rights and having not seen her children for around eight months now, Genia may never see them again. All of this has happened to Genia, a Russian immigrant, IBM engineer, and former "Mother of the Year," due to the rulings of Judge Amodeo, which consistently have favored the children's father, despite good evidence that he abused Genia throughout their marriage."
So she goes into court once more to protest this action, and Amodeo slaps her with a contempt of court citation just before Mother's Day and sends her to jail for 30 days. To add insult to injury:
"If Genia were to happen to be in jail when she gives birth to this next child (whose father is not Genia's husband), she stands a high risk of losing custody of that child to the state"
The source material on this, which Trish and Julia have cited at length and which can also be found here, is too long to cover here. You need to read it to fully comprehend the enormity of the injustice suffered by this woman. And then check out the online petition that requests a stay in the Amadeo order and demands he be removed and investigated. Please seriously consider signing this.

I would have thought this was one of those judicial appointments the right gets so exercised about, what with all their family values. But since it was a Republican governor behind this, I imagine they can live with it.

I have only one question for Judge Amodeo: when did YOU stop beating your wife?

Grab The Popcorn 

...and kick back for a couple of movies from MoveOn.org and True Majority.

The first is a toe-tapping little ditty on Social Security(needs Flash). While watching, you can yell, "I knew it all along!" Lambert will like the cat food reference.

The second is a message from one of our venerable retired admirals on the issue of reducing nuclear weapons. The graphic that pops up behind him is very effective. Think of Bush's recent saber-rattling at N. Korea while you watch.

The MSM Shuck and Jive 

Today's Pat Oliphant cartoon (or last week's? who knows how old these damned things are by the time they send them to me) neatly skewers the media: in a Wagnerian opera scene, we see a Brunhilde-clad Dick Cheney and a diminutive George Bush embracing center stage, surrounded by fallen bodies labeled "UN", "Filibuster", and "Judiciary", while fanning out behind them on bended knee, a chorus of soldiers with upraised spears is labeled "The Press". In front, the requisite bird is saying "Today's spear-carriers", and a man responds "Yesterday's spear-chuckers". The audience is leaving in disgust.

Count Joe Conason among the audience. In a Salon piece he wonders what has happened to render our media so indifferent to the implications of the damning memo reproduced in last week's Sunday Times of London:
"Are Americans so jaded about the deceptions perpetrated by our own government to lead us into war in Iraq that we are no longer interested in fresh and damning evidence of those lies? Or are the editors and producers who oversee the American news industry simply too timid to report that proof on the evening broadcasts and front pages?
There is a "smoking memo" that confirms the worst assumptions about the Bush administration's Iraq policy, but although that memo generated huge pre-election headlines in Britain, its existence has hardly been mentioned here. "
Well, the Gray Lady stuck it into their Friday late edition when no one was looking, and the Seattle Times did a piece on it last week. What the hell more does he want?
"When Bush signed the congressional resolution authorizing the use of military force against Iraq on Oct. 16, 2002 -- three months after the Downing Street memorandum -- he didn't say that military action was "inevitable." Instead, the president assured Americans and the world that he still hoped war could be avoided.
"I have not ordered the use of force. I hope the use of force will not become necessary," he said at a press conference. "Hopefully this can be done peacefully. Hopefully we can do this without any military action." He promised that he had "carefully weighed the human cost of every option before us" and that if the United States went into battle, it would be "as a last resort."
In the months that followed, as we now know, the president and his aides grossly exaggerated, and in some instances falsified, the intelligence concerning the Iraqi regime's supposed weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11."
Ah, Joe, Joe, this is all so old, and not nearly as titillating as the runaway bride (what OTHER run-ins with police did she have??). But, naif that he is, Joe sallies on:
"Not only did Bush and his top aides lie about their approach to the alleged threat posed by Iraq, but they continued to lie about that process in the war's aftermath.
And what of the aftermath of the war in Iraq? Evidently "little discussion" was devoted to that topic as the Bush administration prepared to sell the war, or so "C" reported to his colleagues in London. Iraqis and Americans, as well as their coalition partners, have been suffering the dismal results of that lack of planning ever since.
Despite much happy talk from Washington about the successes achieved in Iraq, recent polls show that Americans are more disenchanted than ever with the war. Nearly 60 percent now say the president made the wrong decision and that the outcome is not worth the price in lives and treasure. What would they say if the media dared to tell them the truth about how it all happened? "
What would they say, the bovine American public, even if the press dropped their spears and picked up their pens? Well, I can guess:


According to Blogger's oh-so-helpful dashboard posting, we can expect about an hour of downtime on the blog today around 4:00 p.m. PST, so we may be incommunicado for a bit. Talk amongst yourselves.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

Paying them back for the Debt Peonage Bill—37 cents at a time. The secret is volume...

Alpo Accounts: Krugman nails Brooks's pasty, white... 

... jello-consistencied ... Oops, I promised to get more civil; my B.S.S. was spiking again. Yes, I know that's no excuse; I'll try to do better.

Anyhow, remember when David "I'm Writing as Bad as I Can" Brooks, Krautheimer, and other assorted winger media whores pundits were all atwitter about Inerrant Boy's new-found desire for progressive policies that really help the poor, as evidenced by His new and improved Social Security [cough] plan?

Why, that was just this Sunday! How long ago that seems.... Krugman:

The point is that the [Social Security] privatizers consider four years of policies that relentlessly favored the wealthy a fait accompli, not subject to reconsideration. Now that tax cuts have busted the budget, they want us to accept large cuts in Social Security benefits as inevitable. But they demand that we praise Mr. Bush's sense of social justice, because he proposes bigger benefit cuts for the middle class than for the poor.

Sorry, but no. Mr. Bush likes to play dress-up, but his Robin Hood costume just doesn't fit.
(via Times)

Brooks thinks we're all to stupid to look at the net. What a loser.

NOTE And speaking of "dress-up": Girly mandate.

Department of No Comment Necessary 

Froomkin quoting WaPo:

Bush evinced no discomfort reviewing a parade of goose-stepping soldiers.
(via WaPo)

But feel free to comment anyhow...

Cable News Alert 

No, not what you were probably thinking.

It appears that Chris Matthews is doing some actual journalism this evening on "Hardball."

He's interviewing a young man and his mother, who, fearing reprisal, wish to remain anonymous, whose faces are not being shown to protect their identity.

The story they have to tell is about the circumstances under which the was "recruited" into the National Guard, in which he is still serving. Those circumstances involve intense pressure, on both the son, who was seventeen at the time of his recruitment and the mother, (who had to give permission for her son to enter the Guard), lies told, promises broken, and more. It's a story that is disturbing and heart-breaking.

I believe that "Hardball" is repeated at least twice after its initial broadcast, so you might want to tune in later tonight; the interview is at the top of the show.

Oy Vayz Mir, Part 9,678,876 

It was my turn with the tractor this weekend and today, so I’ve been out getting ready to plant while it’s dry enough to do so. (Me and five other neighbors went in together and bought a tractor none of us could afford by ourselves and so we take turns. Damn commies.) Anyway, I been busy from dawn to dusk and to bed with a book and a bottle after that (Lysander Spooner followed by a few pages from the Dept. of Ag’s 1930’s book Living on a Few Acres). So today I finish up and pass on the tractor, I turn on the computer, whose home page is Yahoo!, and what do I find to greet me?

U.S. attack in Iraq kills 100 insurgentsAfghan clash kills two Marines, 23 rebelsReid offers Dems' support on Bush nominee

I’m going back to my no-news mode. On the foreign affairs front, I was immediately reminded of the lopsided body counts of Vietnam, wherein it seemed that as long as “we” were killing far more of “them” than they were of “us,” “we” were “winning.” (Of course, the counts on “them” were vastly inflated, and didn’t include South Vietnamese, but that’s another story.) On the domestic front, I see someone performed a spinectomy on the Dems again. Who is this Frankenstein, and why does he keep operating on the Dems? Where’s his lab?

I’m reminded of a passage from the letter that Lysander Spooner wrote to Grover Cleveland in 1886:

Your idea of the real character of the government is plainly this: The lawmakers are to assume absolute and irresponsible "control" of all the financial resources, all the legislative, judicial, and executive powers, of the government, and employ them all for the promotion of such schemes of plunder and ambition as they may select from all those that may be submitted to them for their approval; that they are to keep "the halls of national legislation" wide open for the admission of all persons having such schemes to offer; and that they are to grant monopolies, privileges, loans, and bounties to all such of these schemes as they can make subserve their own individual interests and ambitions, and reject or "postpone" all others. And that there is to be no limit to their operations of this kind, except their fear of exciting rebellion and resistance on the part of the plundered classes.

Why, oh, why, do I read the news? Nothing has changed in 119 years. Except the GOP. They’ve gotten worse. And the opposition more spineless.

Broadway Bound? 

Hey, the kids at Princeton have got together and they're puttin' on a show. A hit show. And they didn't even have no barn.

And at 313 hours, fifty minutes, and as...of...just...now, thirty-four seconds, it puts even the longest Peter Brooks production to shame.

It's essentially a drama, with comedic overtones, and melodramatic understones, and I think eventually, "Filibuster Frist" will make a great Broadway musical.

You can find out all about it here, and please do so, because what's happening at Princeton these days is...well, I think I'll let someone else tell you:
"...a whole elaborate setup, with a media archive, lists of upcoming speakers and events, links to filibusters at other campuses -- amazing.

Josh Marshall
Talking Points Memo
Hey, this is obviously a limited run, so hurry on over and get in on the fun.

I was reading a comments thread this weekend, sorry don't remember where, but someone was expressing sadness that we liberals weren't out on the streets, demonstrating, the way we did back in the good old sixties and seventies. Well, there was a lot to admire about those times, but activism takes many forms, what I think, as someone who came to adulthood in those olden times, is that we need to create, not recreate, an activism which suits the very different times we find ourselves in today. And if what's going on at Princeton is any indication, we shouldn't be despairing, we should be inspired.

We're going to need to be. I hear tell that Frist is going to drop that nukuler option on us Democrats any time now, maybe even this week, so we should be thinking now about who needs to be called, who needs to be emailed, who needs letters from constituents to let them know Americans disapprove of changing the rules in the middle of the game, and to let Democrats know that they needn't be afraid of that label, "obstructionists," but do need to hold their ground, and to use the space provided by the nuclear option to put forward, as Senator Reid has suggested they would do, a sample of what the Democratic legislative agenda would be if they weren't dealing with a ruling party that doesn't give a damn about what unites Americans, but only about what divides them.


Thanks to Leah (inspired by kelley b.). we may have found ourselves a new motto:

"The Blog of 8: Leah, Lambert, Tresy, the farmer, Tom, Xan, RDF, and Riggsveda,
Boldly Shrill Members of the Surreality-Based Community."

Screwing in lightbulbs since 2003.


Taking Dictation Once Again 

You've got to be kidding me:
BAGHDAD, May 8 -- Senior U.S. commanders say their view of the Iraqi insurgency has begun to shift, with higher priority being given to combating foreign fighters and Iraqi jihadists.

This shift comes in response to the recent upsurge in suicide attacks and other developments that indicate a more prominent role in the insurgency by these radical groups, the commanders say.

Previously, U.S. authorities have depicted the insurgency as being dominated largely by what the Pentagon has dubbed "former regime elements" -- a combination of onetime Baath Party loyalists and Iraqi military and security service officers intent on restoring Sunni rule. But since the Jan. 30 elections, this segment of the insurgency has appeared to pull back from the fight, at least for a while, reassessing strategies and exploring a possible political deal with the new government, senior U.S. officers here say.
(via the ever obedient WaPo)
How many times have we been told this? And this is just an attempt to regain their poll numbers after none other than General Myers said the insurgency had lost no strength in the last year. Remember that? It was only a couple of weeks ago, folks.

This whole thing reminds me of two things. First, this is what people were told was going on in South Vietnam in 1967 and 1968. "It isn't the local folks, it's outside insurgents causing all of these problems." Right.

This also reminds me, frighteningly so, of what white southerners said during the Civil Rights Movement. "Oh, now our black folks wouldn't feel that way. It's these 'outside agitators' that are causing all the trouble.'" Right.

Can our press really get rolled for the umpteenth time by this "foreign insurgent outside agitator" garbage? What evidence does the military and administration present for any of this other than wishful thinking?

They're now claiming to have killed 100 "foreign fighters" in western Iraq. Since we're never shown anything, why should we believe it?

Even if this is true do you think it'll stop or slow down the insurgency? Of course not.

We need to face it folks. A large portion of the Iraqi people -- maybe not a majority but a large minority -- want us out of there right now and they'll do anything to make that happen.

As I suggested would be the case before, during, and after this disastrous fool's errand of a war on my old blog, we're not improving the lives of the Iraqi people one damn bit. In their eyes we've brought this chaos down upon them. Saddam was an awful thug but the standard of living for the average Iraqi was actually better before this war than after it.

Let me repeat that for my slow righty friends: life was better for the average Iraqi under Saddam than it is now. Until you figure out how to fix that rather large problem the insurgency is going to grow stronger and stronger day by day.

And since the Iraq reconstruction effort is just an enormous feeding trough for the GOP-contributing Halliburtons of the world, don't expect life in Iraq to improve anytime soon.

The Critical-Paranoiac School of Government 

dali To paraphrase the original inventor of the concept:

"Your government does not need drugs. Your government IS the drug":

Real ID

Bush as friend to the poor.

$4.5 billion wasted on Homeland Security; let's try it again.

The Memo.

The War.

Nukular saber-rattling.

Nukular proliferation.

The death of equal protection

Did I mention Real ID?

The hits just keep on coming. To paraphrase the old Spaniard once again, "The only difference between your government and a crazy man is that your government isn't crazy at all."

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

Sometime I have to write the post connecting Dobson's sado-masochistic theories of child rearing, The Passion, Abu Ghraib, and why the Red States submit to abuse.

But not tonight. One too many mint juleps. The tiny room under the stairs in The Mighty Corrente Building is s-p-i-n-n-n-i-n-g....

WaPo editorial board embarasses itself yet again 

After doing the usual balance thing on how both Dems and Republicans are to blame for the Republicans wishing to pack the courts, the geniuses on the WaPo board actually come up with a new argument: It's not a good idea to make institutional changes to achieve tactical gains.

Is there more to either side's conversion than a lust for short-term political advantage? There is an honorable way to find out: If compromise proves impossible, the Republicans should propose a reform of Senate rules that would take effect in January 2009.

The debate on the merits and evils of the filibuster could then take place where Republicans and Democrats both say it belongs -- on the level of principle. Democrats could explain why they have lost faith in majority rule. Republicans could explain why majority rule is good sometimes, but not all the time. And both sides would be arguing without knowing who might reap tactical benefit.
(via WaPo)

Nice balloon to float.

But what's this about the Dems having no faith in majority rule? The Senate Dems represent a majority of the country. In fact, the Senate Dems are the only way we have any representation in Washington whatever.

So the Republicans are going to take that into account, right? Some level of basic fairness?

Or will they tell us to get on our knees for extremist judges who want to undo the New Deal in the name of Christ?

corrente SBL - New Location
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The Washington Chestnut
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