Monday, January 31, 2005 protect the innocent.


WASHINGTON, January 29, 2005. United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in the Iraqi election despite a terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting. According to reports from Baghdad, 83 per cent of …registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the insurgents.

A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Bush’s policy in Iraq. The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Iraqi Government, which had been founded on coups and power plays since a year ago, when Saddamn Hussein was overthrown by U.S. forces. ” The fact that the backing of the electorate has gone to the generals who have been ruling Iraq for years does not, in the Administration’s view, diminish the significance of the constitutional step that has been taken.

In a statement cleared by President Bush and by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said that ‘the people of Iraq had expressed their choice and deserve our support’. [A] State department spokesman, drew attention to the fact that the balloting had been conducted ‘remarkably smoothly and fairly despite insurgents efforts to disrupt the voting’.
Words in bold have been altered from the original story, in which the New York Times lauded the September, 1967 Presidential elections in the Republic of Vietnam.

You rememember the Republic of Vietnam, don't you? It was in all the papers...

(Tip o' the hat to A La Gauche for the intriguing detournement...)

Really, I'm happy...

...that they had an election in Iraq. I'm happy that lots of Iraqi's, at least in some parts of the country, voted. I'm happy that the violence didn't match up with my worst fears.

But am I the only one that thinks it's pretty damn sad that after nearly two years of military occupation, an election taking place under virtual lockdown conditions across the country resulted in dozens of deaths and everyone thinks that's a good sign?

Just because election day fatalities weren't in the hundreds or thousands doesn't make dozens acceptable. Shouldn't we pause in our celebration to mourn those poor souls?

He's right, you know...

Dave Johnson at Seeing The Forest...
Dear Dean Supporters -

Threatening to destroy the Democratic Party if your guy doesn't win is probably not a super strategy for convincing DNC members that your guy is a dedicated and committed supporter of the party. Think about that.
Every discussion in the Democratic Party can't be framed as 'Dean v. anti-Dean.' It's worse than boring, it's destructive.

Here's my pledge. If Howard Dean is elected DNC Chair, I'll continue to do everything I can to build a successful Democratic Party, just as I have for some 37 years or so.

If anybody else is elected, I'll be doing the same thing.

How about you?

Just in case... thought the nice note from newly re-elected WA Democratic Chair Paul Berendt thought he was actually interested in grassroots input on the DNC Chair election, let this note from Matt Stoller at MyDD put that notion to rest...
....Paul Berendt publically endorsed Howard Dean 2 weeks ago, just before the State Chair election in Washington. Berendt was able to overcome Greg Rodriquez precisely because he backed Dean. I just made a few calls to Washington St., and talked with someone close to Berendt, whom told me that "yes, he's sticking to Dean".
It's still important to let Berendt and the rest of the WA DNC delegation know what you think, just as a matter of principle, but don't get too excited about the idea that he, at least, actually cares what you think, despite what he said.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I suppose I should point out that Matt, like me, supports Simon Rosenberg for DNC Chair, but facts are facts, and the fact is that Paul Berendt doesn't care what you think.)

Sunday, January 30, 2005

I admit... mixed emotions about the early reports about the Iraqi elections. I'm grateful that the death toll among voters didn't reach the level of my worst fears, but it's hard to celebrate dozens of peole dying in the act of voting. The higher than expected turnout claims seem encouraging, but they were achieved at a high cost - strict curfews, severe travel restrictions and a get-out-the-vote drive that prominently featured armored columns of occupation forces. I'm also wondering how they had such confident turnout statistics apparently before the polls even closed, although it's reported that "Preliminary voting figures are expected to be known Monday or Tuesday, although final results will not be available for about 10 days."

Since the identities of the actual candidates and the programs of the actual parties never seemed very clear, most voters were turning out in response to the demands of the cleric of their choice, making the elections more a matter of theological as opposed to political imperatives, with a climate of fear overshadowing the entire event.

Sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it?

Right now I'm inclined to line up with John Nichols, writing in The Nation that...
That democracy has been denied in Iraq is beyond question. The charade of an election, played out against a backdrop of violence so unchecked that a substantial portion of the electorate-- particularly Sunni Muslims--avoided the polls for reasons of personal safety, featuring candidates who dared not speak their names and characterized by a debate so stilted that the electorate did not know who or what it is electing.

Now that this farce of an "election" in Iraq is done, the fight for democracy should move from Baghdad to Washington. It is in the US Capitol that members of Congress, if they are serious about spreading democracy abroad and strengthening it at home, need to begin advocating for the rapid withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
...and Politus, who sees the election as day one the civil war (thought I think the civil war's been underway somewhat longer than that)...
Depending on who votes and who counts the votes, one group of Iraqis will rule another, and the blood hatred between these groups extends back centuries and boils on the cultural memories of sectarian ravages and atrocities. All of democracy’s blessings cannot heal those old wounds, at least not at first without decades of pent-up score settling and retribution.
In fact, the Iraqi elections will likely make little positive difference in Iraq, and they make no difference at all to this simple truth, well stated by Nichols...
Liberty is not spread at gunpoint, nor by the occupation of distant lands. There will be no real democracy in Iraq until the occupation of that country has ended.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Big doings... my off-line life preclude much posting today. It won't mean much to most of you, probably, but I'm being installed as the Commander of the Nile Temple Legion of Honor, an organization for Shriners who are military veterans.

Heady stuff for a guy who spent his time in the Army as a member of the lower enlisted...

More later, maybe.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of Bush?

The Shadow President knows...probably better than any of us.

A tip of the cap to Ralph Dratman at for maintaining a page listing over 300 anti-Gonzales bloggers, and especially for a pointer to this post by Athenae at First Draft. Noting John Kerry's fact-finding trip to Iraq and other post-election initiatives and activities, she wisely notes...
For too long we've treated our former candidates as if they have diseases. We've ignored the contributions they could have made if we'd kept them in the fold and acted very ashamed of our losses like good little Republican-dominated submissives.


...instead of deciding it's finally time to "say it," and bash (Kerry), we might continue to display a little of the progressive unity we were so busy patting ourselves on the backs for just a few months ago, and say hey, regardless of what happened at the ballot box, this is a good man, doing good things, and that's the kind of Democrat we need.
It may be a bit premature for talk of Kerry '08 - even Kerry admits that - but that's no reason to let time slip by without joining in his campaign for children's health care or signing his petition calling for Rumsfeld's removal. Every thing we did last year is only for naught if we fail to do everything we can this year, and if John Kerry's willing to lead, I'm still on the team.

Inquiring minds want to know...

From WA State Democratic Chair Paul Berendt...
On February 12th, members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC)will meet in Washington, DC to select a new Chairperson and effectively set the Party's direction for the future. Washington has six voting members at this important meeting but they must convey the thoughts of a diverse party. Because there is so much at stake, I am
inviting you to share your thoughts on where we should be headed as a Party and the kinds of qualities you would like to see in our next DNC Chair.

This is a pivotal moment for all of us who want to fight the Bush-Cheney-Rove plan to radicalize the federal judiciary, saddle our nation with ever-spiraling debt and pursue a reckless foreign policy that is sustained with the lives of America's uniformed men and women. This may be one of the most important dialogues we have as Democrats because so much is on the line. I will be sharing your thoughts with our
voting members of the DNC.

Please take a moment to forward this message to Democrats you know who may also be interested in voicing their opinions. Thank you for your tireless efforts to elect Democrats to local, state and national office. I look forward to reviewing your response and fighting for a strong, energetic Democratic Party.
So tell 'em...
The following are email addresses for DNC members from Washington:

Paul Berendt
Edward Cote
Karen Marchioro
David McDonald
Ron Sims
Patricia Whitefoot
Of course, I hope you tell them what I'm telling them. Simon Rosenberg is clearly the best choice. But in any event, tell 'em something.

Upper Lefties...

...are sometimes prone to getting all puffed up about how progressive we are in our bright blue home with all those women in positions of power and all our electors going for Kerry and, well, all of our wonderful wonderfullness.

Then reality sets in to provide a little perspective...
Rep. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, on Wednesday re-introduced a bill to make it illegal in Washington to discriminate against someone due to the sexual orientation.

"This bill is long past due," said Murray, who's introduced the bill every year for the past 10. Murray is one of four openly gay Washington state lawmakers.

State law already makes it illegal to discriminate on the bases of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, marital status or a handicap. But efforts to add sexual orientation to that list have repeatedly failed since the bill was first considered 29 years ago.
Isn't it time? Way past time?

Of course, there's still a matter of one of the country's most regressive tax structures, but let's stay in the realm of the vaguely possible, shall we?

The Lovely and Talented...

...Audrey Hepcat has the week off so that we may present Sally the cat, feline companion of the absolutely adorable Granddaughter of Upper Left...

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Strike three

I suggested in this week's Scandal Scorecard '05 entry that there might be more coming on the Bushco payola front. Didn't take long. The third stooge has been revealed...
One day after President Bush ordered his Cabinet secretaries to stop hiring commentators to help promote administration initiatives, and one day after the second high-profile conservative pundit was found to be on the federal payroll, a third embarrassing hire has emerged. Salon has confirmed that Michael McManus, a marriage advocate whose syndicated column, "Ethics & Religion," appears in 50 newspapers, was hired as a subcontractor by the Department of Health and Human Services to foster a Bush-approved marriage initiative. McManus championed the plan in his columns without disclosing to readers he was being paid to help it succeed.
Anybody believe this is over yet?

I guess it's true...

In response to one of my not infrequent complaint's about what Donald Rumsfeld has done to "my Army," a reader once responded that "It's not your Army anymore."

Apparently not.

Back in the day, whatever the difference between what your recruiter promised and what the Army delivered may have been, there were some things that you could count on. Chief among those were the proverbial 'three hots and a cot.' Not so anymore, at least not so for some of our casualties of battle, according to story in Salon...
Most patients at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington have a lot on their minds: the war they just fought, the injuries they came home with, the future that lies ahead. The last thing a wounded soldier needs to worry about is where the next meal is coming from. But for hundreds of Walter Reed patients, that's a real concern. Starting this month, the Army has started making some wounded soldiers pay for the food they eat at the hospital.
Coming back from Vietnam, we got new standard issues of uniforms to replace our jungle fatigues. That seems to have changed as well.
Soldiers in medical hold also complain they are still expected to line up for daily formations and buy new uniforms even as they struggle with debilitating physical and mental trauma from their service in Iraq. They say being charged for food while they're recovering is one more indignity.
It's an appalling story, and if you still haven't subscribed to Salon it's well worth sitting through the online ad to get to. When you're done, you'll wonder, as do I...

Why do Republicans hate the men and women who fight for America?

(Thanks to Steve M. at No More Mr. Nice Blog for the tip.)

By the way... are dropping in for a daily round at the Whiskey Bar again, right? Billmon's back on duty and he's serving the good stuff...

Quote of the Day

"Starkly put, Baghdad is not under control, either by the Iraqi interim government or the American military."

John F. Burns, New York Times

No Mo Joe

I'm generally against the whole notion of assigning perjorative labels like 'Vichy Democrat.' As long as our office holders caucus with the Party, support the Party on leadership votes and make some effort to keep, for instance, their Americans for Democratic Action rating a bit higher than their American Conservative Union rating, I'm inclined to be tolerant. After all, there really are places where a Democrat with the kind of liberal views and agenda I tend to favor could never get elected, and by and large I figure we're better off with an occassionaly wayward D than any R. When someone stops caucusing with the Party, or chooses to endorse the opposition ticket, I don't think of them as a DINO, I think of them as a Republican. Zell Miller, for instance, wasn't a Democrat by the end of his Senate career. He was (and is) a fraud.

One of the main beneficiaries of that view on this blog has been Joe Lieberman. He's the frequent target of attacks in comments here and in posts around the blogosphere, and on a number of occassions I've leapt to his defense, pointing out his strong progressive record on civil rights (if not civil liberties), labor issues, the environment and other things that I think merit at least as much attention as his abysmal views on national security and foreign policy.

His conduct during the Condee-lie-za confirmation, though, went over the edge. Again, I'm tolerant, perhaps to a fault, of many Democrats who chose to bow to the inevitability of her confirmation and cast a yea vote, with appropriate handwringing and caveats. Joe went a step further, though, and a step too far, in his stalwart advocacy for Rice. These quotations culled from Kos are typical...
Lieberman said voting against Rice as a protest of past disagreements over Iraq was futile, and urged senators to back Rice with an eye toward actions she can now take to improve the situation. "Give America's national interest the benefit of the doubt," Lieberman said.


Lieberman spoke passionately of Rice as a stalwart in the "world war with Islamic terrorism." He urged an end to political partisanship over Iraq, "particularly so when our nation is engaged in a war, a global war on terrorism, a war in Iraq in which Americans have already lost their lives in the cause of freedom and in protection of our security."


Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat who strongly backed the war, urged a "resounding vote" for Rice to show "that we're together for what we're pursuing which is a successful conclusion to our involvement in Iraq and to the spread of freedom and democracy throughout the world."
Enough. Connecticut is a place where a better Democrat can be elected, and I urge the Democrats of Connecticut to find one to challenge Lieberman for re-election. Find us a good one and I can promise whatever help a blogger from the Upper Left can muster. And his 'good points' be damned. You won't find any more defenses of Holy Joe around here.

Patty's story...

...and she's apparently sticking to it.

Statement by Senator Murray on the Confirmation of Condoleezza Rice
Today, I voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice to be our next Secretary of State. My vote today does not excuse Dr. Rice from the responsibility she bears for her work as National Security Advisor, particularly the Administration's woefully inadequate planning for post-war Iraq.

Despite my concerns, I voted to confirm Dr. Rice because I generally believe a president should have a Cabinet of his choosing. I take my responsibility to provide "advice and consent" seriously and consider each nominee individually. I also believe it's important that when America's Secretary of State meets with world leaders, that person has the authority that comes from support at home.
I hope that Dr. Rice will reflect on the valid concerns raised during her confirmation hearing and will adopt a more open style that welcomes all views, particularly those that she and the President do not already hold.

At the end of the day, Dr. Rice will be confirmed, and when she represents our country around the world, she needs to be successful, for all our sakes. I will work with her to meet the challenges our country faces around the world.
It's basically the old "debate stops at the border" argument, which has some merit, although I think this is an extraordinary case. Frankly, I think we benefit when the world understands that there is dissent in the US from the foolishness and arrogance of Bushco unilateralism. Patty, with six secure years and broad support at home, wasn't under any particular political imperative to vote yes, though, so I'll give her credit for a sincere, if a bit too safely traditional, stance.

I can't believe that she's naive enought, though, to imagine that Rice will reflect long about anything beyond the President's latest whim.

No word on Rice from Maria Cantwell yet, but there's this encouraging note...
January 27, 2005 - Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today announced that she will vote against the nomination of Judge Alberto Gonzales to be the next U.S. Attorney General when it comes to the Senate floor next week. "The Attorney General of the United States, as the chief law enforcement officer in the land, holds a special independent place in the government. While the President selects the nominee, the Constitution requires the Senate to provide 'advice and consent.' After carefully listening to Judge Gonzales during his Senate hearings and reading his responses to questions, I have decided to oppose his confirmation."

Frankly, I'm inclined to accept votes against Gonzales as a reasonable tradeoff for pro-Rice votes. I think Rice is a sycophant and a fool, but I think Gonzales is a criminal. There really is a qualitative difference.

C'mon, Patty. Redemption is at hand.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

We say yes... Senators who say no.

Democrats No
Akaka, Hawaii; Bayh, Ind.; Boxer, Calif.; Byrd, W.Va.; Dayton, Minn.; Durbin, Ill.; Harkin, Iowa; Kennedy, Mass.; Kerry, Mass.; Lautenberg, N.J.; Levin, Mich.; Reed, R.I.

Others No
Jeffords, Vt.
The rest have their reasons, I'm sure. If your Senators are among those who voted to confirm Condee-lie-za, be sure to ask why. Mine, sadly, are, and I will.

It's not always easy...

...maintaining the stance that my strong support for Simon Rosenberg for DNC Chair is not in any way an anti-Howard Dean position. The difficulty doesn't come from anything the Doctor has said or done, but from the tendency from some of his supporters to fall into the worst of their paranoid complaints that there's some kind of evil conspiracy out to get him. Of course, some media reports have only fueled that paranoia, sometimes in absurd fashion.

A lot of it seems to center around the notion that there's a cabal of Clintonista's out to stop Dean at any cost, which is why this item particularly caught my attention...
The AP expands the list, noting Dean "is also supported by former national party chairs Steve Grossman, who was a key supporter in his presidential race, and David Wilhelm."
David Wilhelm, of course, was Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign manager, and Clinton's hand picked choice to follow Ron Brown as DNC Chair. He is, in many respects, the uber-Clintonista (and a prominent Kerry supporter during the '04 primaries).

So, who will the Deaniacs find to blame any dissent from their passion on next? If Howard becomes the Chair, fine. We've done worst than second best before, I'm sure. But if he doesn't make it, it's because he couldn't close the sale with the voting members and sinister machinations behind the scenes just won't be the deciding factor. It's likely because we have a better choice.

But what about the lies, Mr. President?

The clown prince meets the press...
Q Mr. President, in the debate over Dr. Rice's confirmation, Democrats came right out and accused you and the administration of lying in the run up to the war in Iraq. Republicans in some cases conceded that mistakes had been made. Now that the election's over, are you willing to concede that any mistakes were made, and how do you feel about --

PRESIDENT BUSH: Let me talk about Dr. Rice. You asked about her confirmation. Dr. Rice is an honorable, fine public servant who needs to be confirmed. She will be a great secretary of State. And Dr. Rice and I look forward to moving forward. We look forward to working to make sure the Iraqis have got a democracy. We look forward to continuing to make sure Afghanistan is as secure as possible from potential Taliban resurgence. We look forward to spreading freedom around the world. And she is going to make a wonderful secretary of State.

Q No reaction to the lying?

Q (Laughs.)

Q No reaction?

Mistakes? Ha. Lies? Heh.


Threat or promise?

You decide. Either way, true to my word, the Upper Left Scandal Scorecard is back.

In the first year, we documented 65 Republican scandals, and there's no reason to believe that we can't do even better this year. The list was getting a bit unweildy, though, so last year's list is archived and we're starting fresh with Scandal Scorecard '05.

What better place to start than the GOP payola scandals? Yep, we all know about Armstrong Williams, but like most good stories about Republican bad deeds, this one just keeps getting better. Yet another shoe drops with this news...
Syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher wrote favorably about President Bush's marriage initiative, but failed to disclose that she was paid $21,500 by the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the proposal, the Washington Post reports.
How much better (worse?) can it get? Only time will tell, but here's a hint...

Sign me up.

Armando says it as well as I possibly could...
Unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions. In this case, we, the undersigned bloggers, have decided to speak as one and collectively author a document of opposition. We oppose the nomination of Alberto Gonzales to the position of Attorney General of the United States, and we urge every United States Senator to vote against him.

As the prime legal architect for the policy of torture adopted by the Bush Administration, Gonzales's advice led directly to the abandonment of longstanding federal laws, the Geneva Conventions, and the United States Constitution itself. Our country, in following Gonzales's legal opinions, has forsaken its commitment to human rights and the rule of law and shamed itself before the world with our conduct at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. The United States, a nation founded on respect for law and human rights, should not have as its Attorney General the architect of the law's undoing.

In January 2002, Gonzales advised the President that the United States Constitution does not apply to his actions as Commander in Chief, and thus the President could declare the Geneva Conventions inoperative. Gonzales's endorsement of the August 2002 Bybee/Yoo Memorandum approved a definition of torture so vague and evasive as to declare it nonexistent. Most shockingly, he has embraced the unacceptable view that the President has the power to ignore the Constitution, laws duly enacted by Congress and International treaties duly ratified by the United States. He has called the Geneva Conventions "quaint."

Legal opinions at the highest level have grave consequences. What were the consequences of Gonzales's actions? The policies for which Gonzales provided a cover of legality - views which he expressly reasserted in his Senate confirmation hearings - inexorably led to abuses that have undermined military discipline and the moral authority our nation once carried. His actions led directly to documented violations at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and widespread abusive conduct in locales around the world.

Michael Posner of Human Rights First observed: "After the horrific images from Abu Ghraib became public last year, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld insisted that the world should 'judge us by our actions [and] watch how a democracy deals with the wrongdoing and with scandal and the pain of acknowledging and correcting our own mistakes.'" We agree. It is because of this that we believe the only proper course of action is for the Senate to reject Alberto Gonzales's nomination for Attorney General. As Posner notes, "[t]he world is indeed watching." Will the Senate condone torture? Will the Senate condone the rejection of the rule of law?

With this nomination, we have arrived at a crossroads as a nation. Now is the time for all citizens of conscience to stand up and take responsibility for what the world saw, and, truly, much that we have not seen, at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. We oppose the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States, and we urge the Senate to reject him.
A long list of notable bloggers have signed on.

Me, too.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Product features...

...a modest contribution to the brand.

The Caucus, united...

...will never be defeated.

Good news from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer...
A poll of all Democratic senators by the Democrat staff of the Senate Finance Committee found none who supported diverting Social Security tax revenue into personal investment accounts, the centerpiece of Bush's initiative.
Are you getting wild about Harry yet?

Quote of the Day

"We are dead set against carving private accounts out of Social Security taxes. We can fix Social Security without dismantling it, which is what private accounts carved out of Social Security do."

William Novelli, CEO, AARP
Dismantle. Destroy. Whatever.

It's just not necessary, because there's just no crisis.

Too much is not enough...

...or vice versa, or something.

There's an Alan Fram piece on the AP wire, and the headline just annoys the hell out of me.
Bush Wants $80B More for Iraq, Afghan Wars
80B, huh? Only 80 of them? That's not so bad, is it?

Not nearly as bad as, say, $80,000,000,000.

Is it just me, or is exchanging one letter for nine digits damn close to dishonest journalism? And maybe I'm just feeling cranky today, but that's not the only thing that bugs me about the article. I fall on the wonkish side of near anybody's scale, but too many numbers with too little context can still make my eyes glaze over. This piece probably should have been spread out over three or four, because it would be better for the average reader to get all the information from any one of them than to skip over any of the information in this one. Here are some of the points I think merit independent attention...
Amid the White House's preparations, the Congressional Budget Office predicted the government will accumulate another $855 billion in deficits over the next decade.
Yeah, that's $885,000,000,000. Seven letters for nine digits is an improvement, I suppose, except that the number is totally meaningless anyway. Why? Because...
The projection, for the years 2006 through 2015, is almost two-thirds smaller than what congressional budget analysts predicted last fall. But the drop is largely due to estimating quirks that required it to exclude future Iraq and Afghanistan war costs and other expenses. Last September, their 10-year deficit estimate was $2.3 trillion.

Also left out were the price of extending Bush's tax cuts and easing the impact the alternative minimum tax would have on middle-income Americans, which could exceed $2.3 trillion, the report said.
"Quirks", huh? How about "fraud"? (and yes, that's $2,300,000,000,000. 8 letters for a dozen digits, this time...)

I admit that I almost missed this one...
Aides said about three-fourths of the $80 billion was expected to be for the Army, which is bearing the brunt of the fighting in Iraq. It also was expected to include money for building a U.S. embassy in Baghdad, estimated to cost $1.5 billion.
So when the wingnuts start their "support the troops" mantra, be sure to get an accounting for the $20,000,000,000 that's not "for the Army." Like the billion and a half for the stiped pants crowd in Baghdad.

Shadow Speaker Pelosi get this one right...
"As Congress works to ensure our troops have what they need to be safe, we owe it to them to critically examine President Bush's request and ask: What are the goals in Iraq, and how much more money will it cost to achieve them? Why hasn't the President and the Pentagon provided Members of Congress a full accounting of previous expenditures? Why, after all the effort dedicated to training Iraqi troops, aren't more Iraqi troops trained, equipped, and prepared to play a bigger security role?"
It's about responsibility. And security. Let's not let the opportunity to hold them accountable slip by.

Quick, go see!

Ezra's got a blog of his very own, and you just know it'll be a good one.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Reports of our death... a national political party have always been absurdly overblown, but Democrats can take heart in the legislative agenda being laid out today by the Senate Democrats. The Carpetbagger got the word early and laid it out...

Putting America's Security First

S.11: Standing With Our Troops. Democrats believe that putting America’s security first means standing up for our troops and their families. Democrats will work to increase our military end strength by up to 40,000 by 2007. We will create a Guard and Reserve Bill of Rights to protect and promote the interests of our dedicated citizen soldiers. Democrats will also fight for the families of those who serve our country. This includes providing income security and immediate access to affordable health care.

S. 12: Targeting the Terrorists More Effectively. Keeping America secure means stepping up the fight against the radical Islamic fundamentalism. Democrats will work to increase our Special Operations forces by 2,000 to attack the terrorists where they are and to protect our freedoms here at home. We will further enhance our efforts against enemies by targeting the institutions that spawn new terrorists. Democrats are also united to ensure that the world’s most dangerous weapons stay out of the hands of terrorists. We will expand the pace and scope of programs to eliminate and safeguard nuclear materials, enhance efforts to keep these and other deadly materials out of the hands of terrorists, and assist state and local governments in equipping and training those responsible for dealing with the effects of terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass destruction.

S. 13: Fulfilling Our Duty to America’s Veterans. A key component of keeping America secure is protecting the rights of our veterans. Since the time of Lincoln, Americans have made and kept a sacred commitment to those who served this nation in the defense of freedom. As a new generation of veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan, Democrats are united to fulfill that promise. We will ensure that all veterans get the health care they deserve while also expanding the availability and accessibility of mental health care. We will ensure that no veteran is forced to choose between a retirement and disability check. We will also make the same commitment to the soldiers of today that was made to past veterans with a 21st Century GI Bill.

Expanding Opportunity To All Americans:

S. 14: Expanding Economic Opportunity. Democrats understand that the most effective means of increasing opportunity for our families is a high quality, good paying job. Democrats will fight to restore overtime protection to 6 million workers and increase the minimum wage for 7.4 million workers. We must do more to create good jobs today and in the future and the Democratic bill does so by eliminating tax incentives for companies that take jobs overseas, creating new jobs through an expansion of infrastructure programs to repair America’s backbone, and encouraging innovation in the American economy. We are also determined to pursue a trade policy that protects American workers and addresses our record trade deficit. Democrats will work to strengthen enforcement of our trade agreements while assisting those workers who have been unduly burdened by unfair trading practices of other nations.

S. 15: Quality Education for All. Democrats are committed to providing a quality education to all Americans because we recognize that education has always been the cornerstone of equal opportunity. Democrats will keep our promise to our children by increasing support for pre-school education, fully funding No Child Left Behind and improving its implementation. We are committed to providing safe and reliable transportation for our rural school children and meeting the Federal commitment to children with disabilities. Democrats will also address the shortfall of math, science and special education teachers by creating tuition incentives for college students to major in those fields. We will help expand educational opportunities for college by providing relief from skyrocketing college tuition, increasing the size and access to Pell Grants and supporting proven programs that encourage more young people to attend and succeed in college.

S. 16: Making Health Care More Affordable. Spiraling health care costs are putting the opportunity of America at risk, making it harder for families to buy health insurance and placing a difficult burden on small businesses and manufacturers. Democrats will address these concerns by making prescription drugs more affordable through the legalization of prescription drug reimportation and more safe by ensuring drugs are monitored after they are approved for use. Democrats will ensure that all children and pregnant women will have health care and protect Medicaid. We will reduce the growing cost of health care to small businesses by offering tax credits while also modernizing health care to cut costs for patients and businesses.

S. 17: Democracy Begins at Home. Equal opportunity in this country is based upon equal representation and fair voting. Democrats are determined to reforming the voting system in this country to create Federal standards for our elections. The bill adds verification, accountability and accuracy to the system. It increases access to the polls with Election Day registration, shorter lines and early voting. The bill also aims to modernize our election equipment and increase impartiality and provides the resources to our states to implement the bill.

Meeting Our Responsibility To The Future And The Past:

S. 18: Meeting Our Responsibility to Medicare Beneficiaries. Democrats will take the special interests out of the Medicare law by repealing the provision that prevents Medicare from negotiating better prices for seniors and eliminating the slush fund for HMOs. We will also improve the prescription drug benefit by phasing out the current doughnut hole where seniors pay a premium but get no benefit. We will buy down the Part B premium so premium increases are not too steep. We will address incentives that encourage employers to drop retiree benefits and we will ensure that no seniors are forced into HMOs while helping seniors in their transition to the new benefit.

S. 19: Fiscal Responsibility for a Sound Future. Democrats know that fiscal mismanagement today only leads to greater problems for our children. It is our responsibility to address the fiscal irresponsibility of the current Administration by imposing discipline today and Democrats are united to strengthen budgeting rules that require the government to live within its means.

S. 20: Putting Prevention First. Democrats are committed to reducing unintended pregnancies by increasing access to family planning services and improving contraceptive coverage. We will increase funding for family planning and empower states to enable more women to take responsibility for their health. We will also improve contraceptive coverage by assuring equity in prescription drug insurance.
Like the House Dems New Partnership For America's Future, the new Senate legislative agenda is more than a laundry list of bills, it's a values driven program that illuminates the Democratic Party as the party of opportunity, responsibility and security.

Let's say that again.

Democrats are the party of opportunity, responsibility and security.

Let's say it over and over, anywhere and everywhere.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

An unsolicited testimonial...

...for the fine folks at, who offer a number of products of interest to Democrats (and an entertaining collection of wingnut hate mail those products have inspired).

I'm rather taken with this design...

A tribute to Franklin D., perhaps?


Words mean things...

...and "revote," the word that Republican trial lawyers are using in their search for an activist judge that will overturn the democratically elected Democratic governor of Washington, means something other than what they want to do.

This isn't a meeting where all the attendees can be asked to raise their hands and be counted again. The Republicans want a brand new election, with a brand new electorate in order to get what they hope will be a brand new result.

Their success in any of those goals would have a variety of negative consequences, not the least of which is that, as Dean Nielsen points out at Progressive Majority Washington, they would...
...disenfrancise Sgt. Jay Anthony Blessing, from Tacoma, who died in Afganistan on Nov. 14th, Spc. Harley Miller, of Spokane, who died Nov. 27 also in Afganistan, Staff Sgt. Kyle Eggers of Yakima, killed Dec. 4 in Iraq (and the son-in law of Yakima City Council member Susan Whitman), Spc. Blain Ebert, of Washtucna, who died Nov. 22 from injuries suffered in Iraq, Marine Staff Sgt. David Ries of Vancouver, WA, who was killed Nov. 8 in Iraq, pfc. Andrew Ward, of Kirkland, who was killed Dec. 5 in Iraq, Marine Lance Cpl. Nathan Wood, also of Kirkland, who was killed Nov. 9 in Iraq, or Pfc. Curtis Wooten III, of Spanaway, who was killed Jan 4 in Iraq.
...leading me to wonder again...
Why do Republicans hate the men and women who fight for America?
(credit Carl with the tip)

Aw damn....


I've heard dumber ideas...

...I suppose, but not from our side, not lately.

Political Wire cites Howard Feinman writing on the 'Stop Dean' movement, largely populated by Clintonistas who rear that the Governor is "...too left and too loose-lipped." (They may be about half right about half of that, but the fact that they let stories like this loose indicates their own problems with lip zipping.)

So what's their solution?
"Last week the search for a surefire Dean-stopper (if there is one) reached new levels, Newsweek has learned, with several governors -- among them Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Bill Richardson of New Mexico -- trying to gin up a last-ditch plan: let Dean be chairman, but confine his role to pure nuts-and-bolts duties by layering him with a new 'general chairman' spokesman for the party."
Huh? Howard Dean's main value to the Party right now is his popularity as a spokesman for a newly energized faction of the Democratic grassroots. His personal skills with the 'nuts-and-bolts' aspects of Party-building are, at best, uncertain. He has shown a certain amount of skill for taking some bold risks in hiring people to manage nuts-and-bolts campaigning for him and in listening to some unorthodox voices when they advocate unorthodox approaches. That's worked out well for him sometimes, less well other times.

But his greatest value is as a spokesman. If you don't want him speaking for the Party (as if you could stop him, titles notwithstanding), then don't elect him. Don't, though, give him a title and then muzzle him. It's pointless.

Want to share the responsibilities? Put Howard on the talk shows and give Simon Rosenberg the nuts-and-bolts job. Simon's a proven pro in that arena.

Better yet, give Simon the whole damn job and put Howard on the ballot for US Senate.

A Sunday funny...

via Dr. Streak...
Q: How many Bush Administration officials does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: None. There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; its conditions are improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are a delusional spin from the liberal media. That light bulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effect. Why do you hate freedom?

Saturday, January 22, 2005

The 'Good Question' file...

...gets a bit fatter with this entry from Dave Johnson...
"So where did the Armstrong Williams case go?"
He suggests some pretty good answers, too.

OK, I'll play.

A number of bloggers have been hitting shuffle on their MP3 players and listing the first ten tracks that pop up. Here's mine (and I didn't even edit out the guilty pleasures...)
Freddie & the Dreamers - You Were Made For Me
Wham - Wake Me Up Before You Go Go
Howling Wolf - Smokestack Lightning
Marvin Gaye - Can I Get A Witness
Major Lance - Um Um Um Um Um Um
Nick Lowe & His Cowboy Outfit - She Don't Love Nobody
Feel - Won't Stand In Your Way
Norah Jones - Come Away With Me
Dion - Abraham, Martin and John
Led Zeppelin - Whole Lotta Love
Yep. My tastes are eclectic...and I'm getting old.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Lest I forget...'s Friday. The lovely and talented Audrey Hepcat often draws comments on the color of her eyes. In fact, they're whatever color the flashbulb tells her they are.

Sometimes colors...

From what I gather...'s all about freedom. We're for it. They're against it.


Well, George, if you want to free some people, maybe you could start with your pals in the Coalition of the Coerc...err..."Willing."

Norbizness does the heavy lifting...
Angola: In the past year, the Angolan army has subjected civilians to extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture and other mistreatment, as well as sexual violence. The Angolan army also denies civilians their freedom of movement.

Azerbaijan: The 61-page report, "Crushing Dissent: Repression, Violence and Azerbaijan's Elections," documents hundreds of arbitrary arrests, widespread beatings and torture, and politically motivated job dismissals of members and supporters of the opposition following the October 15 presidential election, which was widely condemned by the international community as fraudulent.

Colombia: Human Rights Watch continues to document links between units of the Colombian armed forces and paramilitary groups who have committed atrocities. Some government commanders promote, encourage, and protect paramilitaries, share intelligence, coordinate military operations, and even share fighters with paramilitary groups.

Eritrea: No private newspapers or magazines have been allowed to publish in Eritrea since September 2001. The government controls all access to information in the country, radio, television, and print. A recent survey by the non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders classified Eritrea as 132nd in its index of press freedom of the 139 countries surveyed, below even Iraq. During the past year, the government implemented severe restrictions on the right to freedom of religion.

Ethiopia: The officers tied my hands and my ankles together with rope. They threw me down into the sand, and at night they torched me with electricity. When they beat me, they did it with a stick. They pushed my head into a bucket of water so I could not breathe, and I was so weak I couldn't resist, and my hands were tied together. The hardest thing for me is that those people knew my feelings, they were also Ethiopians. They knew what they were doing to me... They tortured me like that for three days.

Uganda: The 76-page report, "State of Pain: Torture in Uganda," documents cases of torture committed by military, intelligence, and security agents in the government's pursuit of armed rebels. However, politicians challenging the de facto single-party state and the 18-year rule of Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni, are often detained, severely beaten and threatened with death by the uncontrolled security apparatus.

Uzbekistan: Eyewitnesses said that during the past two weeks police have physically abused independent Muslim men in detention to coerce confessions. Officers beat men, hit them on the ears and genitals, burned them with lit paper and cigarettes, stuck metal pins under their fingernails, and anally raped male detainees with bottles and other objects. One man was stripped naked and beaten "until pulpy."
Uh-huh. Champions of liberty, each and every one...

More on what I missed...

...and why I didn't miss missing it. Wolcott watched, and reminds me that I didn't need to see it at all.
It's ridiculous for Judy Woodruff and Doris Kearns Goodwin (I think it was her I heard nattering) and Jeff Greenfield to wax patriotic about presidents and inaugurals past as if there were some heartening continuum at work when there are snipers perched on the roof of the White House and enough riot police to protect a Latin American dictator...What's on display in Washington today isn't strength, it's fear. Fear the White House wants every American to share, so that they won't mind--will accept--endless rows of men in visored helmets and boots.
Hell, George W. Bush is President of the United States. That's scary enough.

Drawing the line...

I largely missed yesterday's events in DC due to a self-imposed blackout of coverage save Franken's satirical bits and what slipped through in the news on Air America. I simply couldn't imagine that Bush would have anything to say that I wanted to hear, and from the various reports I've seen since, it seems I was right, mostly.

Somebody did have something good to say, though, to folks who watched the events on CNN, MSNBC and Fox. The DNC bought some time in the middle of the ceremonies to put Chairman Terry McAuliffe on the air with a pointed message, combining congratulations with a clear line in the sand on some key issues. Here's the text of his message...
Mr. President, congratulations. Democrats are eager to work with you.

But make no mistake - we will not abandon our long held principles.
On Social Security, we will not let you undermine its fundamental guarantee.

On taxes, we'll fight your efforts to shift the burden to working families.
And we'll demand an honest foreign policy.

So as you swear to uphold the Constitution, we will be standing with you – making sure you keep that promise for all Americans.
A good move, and a good message. If you, too, missed it, you can see the video here.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

After all, he's unemployed...

via Watching Washington...
Republicans in Washington state got stiffed. After the recounts deposed Republican Dino Rossi, 150 of his supporters tried to get their money back for the now useless $75 tickets to his canceled inaugural ball. Mr Rossi's people refused any refunds.
Seems Dino's better at pinching pennies than he is at counting votes...

Who's in charge here?

I've always been led to believe that one of the chief advantages of having a legislative majority is the ability to control the calendar. Maybe it's just the incompetence of Bill Frist, but I think I see the hand of Harry Reid's reputation for parlimentary brilliance at play. Either way, our Senate D's are beating them at the calendar game. There's this...
WASHINGTON — Attorney General designate Alberto Gonzales will have to wait at least another week before getting a Senate committee vote on his nomination to be the nation's top law enforcement officer.


Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said the committee should not vote on Gonzales yet because the nominee has not yet answered all of the Democrats' questions. Democrats have complained that Gonzales has been evasive with his answers to their qued they want him delayed until they are.
...and this...
The Democratic Senate leadership expects to reach an agreement with Senate Republicans for a nine-hour debate on the confirmation of Condoleezza Rice next Tuesday...


The agreement, which must be reached by unanimous consent, but which is very much expected, will allow Democratic senators not on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to voice their thoughts about Rice on the Senate floor.
Small victories? Sure. Unlikely to affect the outcome? Absolutely.

But ya gotta like the fighting spirit we're seeing early on. I'm getting a little wilder about Harry every day.

No crisis...

...about practically anything, really. Not anything on the Republican agenda, anyway. Jesse at Pandagon gets it...
If you look at what they're proposing, it's a series of patently false crises that are imperiling roughly nobody. Same-sex marriage? Social Security "bankruptcy"? Gun grabbers, trial attorneys and, well, liberals?

It's the Cavalcade of Conspiracy, a well-funded, well-oiled machine that accomplishes virtually nothing because, and this is the key, it isn't doing what the GOP says it is. And precisely because there's nothing to really stop, the appeal of the GOP is based on making you very angry for a very long time about an issue which they have neither the intent nor the ability to stop.
That's if they can't make you afraid of something they can't protect you from, anyway...

Send lawyers, guns and money...

...whatever. Send something. (...well, maybe not guns...yet...)

Lynn Allen, posting at Evergreen Politics, has a great idea...
We need a national Democratic SWAT team that can come into the states on a moment’s notice once we realize that national Republican operatives have arrived.
Watching the new desks crowding the state Republican headquarters in Bellevue, she writes about the assault on Chris Gregiore's win...
No wonder national money from business groups flowed into the state to stop her. No wonder the national Republicans are strategizing behind the scenes for Dino Rossi and Chris Vance and whipping up emotions through talk radio shows and flashy billboards. This is the great Republican noise machine in action, designed to distract us and keep us from making government work in this state.
Regardless of who you support for DNC Chair, this is an idea to put on their agenda. It's a good time to get ahold of your DNC representatives and tell them you want commitments of national support for local battles all year, every year.

This is the era of the permanent campaign, and we'd better start waging it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Damfa sez...

Evil, ugly AND stupid is a sad way to go through life.

Who could he mean?

You may have heard...

...there is no crisis in Social Security. The Republicans just want to destroy it.

Don't take my word for it, though. BlogPac's got the goods, and the DCCC's serving up even more.

This isn't just one we can win. This is one we must win. Get informed and fight back.

I know you've seen it...

...but I'm just so proud of him.
"Dr. Rice is a principal architect, implementer, and defender of a series of Administration policies that have not made our country as secure as we should be and have alienated much-needed allies in our common cause of winning the war against terrorism. Regrettably, I did not see in Dr. Rice's testimony any acknowledgment of the need to change course or of a new vision for America's role in the world."

John Kerry, announcing that he would vote against the confirmation of Condee-lie-za Rice.

Elsewhere on the internets...

...the new issue of Cosmik Debris magazine is online, wherein you'll find some thoughts I composed on the DNC Chair race before my endorsement of Rosenberg and Dean's official announcement (there are ways blogs just beat the heck out of monthy deadlines...), my top five album picks for '05 and a lucky colleague's interview with the notorious Freeway Blogger, among other delights.

Check it out.

From the frivilous lawsuits department...

The Seattle Weekly reports...
...Gregoire is not a defendant in the lawsuit, nor has she a lawyer representing her. Besides, the GOP's losing gubernatorial candidate, Dino Rossi, chose to take the matter to court knowing full well that the legal system is not built for speed. The Rossi campaign and the lawsuit's plaintiffs, which include regular citizens and state Republican Party Chair Chris Vance, are suing many, many people and institutions: all 39 counties, all 39 county auditors, Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed, Speaker of the House Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, and Democratic Lt. Gov. Brad Owen. All had a hand, however small, in certifying Gregoire's election. This week, Bridges allowed the state Democratic and Libertarian parties to have their say, too. Everyone—the plaintiffs, the defendants, and the interveners—is entitled to a lawyer, and every lawyer is entitled to make motions on behalf of his or her client. The first consequence is that the trial will be moved from the Chelan County courthouse in Wenatchee to the Chelan County Auditorium, just to accommodate all the defendants and their lawyers.
Every time a Republican legislooter in Olympia dares to so much as mumble 'tort reform' during this session, we should drown out the words in a chorus of criticism of their Party's penchant for judge shopping and the resulting strain on the municipal infrastructure of a rural county.

Not to mention the baseless nature of the suit itself, of course...

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Why is this woman smiling?

Kerry said every Arab leader he's talked to expressed a willingness to train more Iraqi military but have been rebuffed by the United States.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek, he said, has trained only 147 officers and doesn't understand why his training offers are not being accepted.

Current U.S. policy is "growing the insurgency, not diminishing it," Kerry claimed, adding that he met last week with Iraqis in Kirkuk, Mosul and elsewhere who said they are eager to help make democracy work but are not getting the support they need from Baghdad.

Sic 'er, JK!

Blowing my own horn...

...may be unseemly, but since Jesse took kind notice, I'd like to point out that Salon's list of Bushco scandals is a bit short. While they list 34 scandals, "...everyone of them worse than Whitewater," (which sets the bar somewhat low, since, as has been noted elsewhere, Whitewater wasn't a scandal at all), the Upper Left Scandal Scorecard went on hiatus with a total of 64, 48 coming directly from the Administration and 16 more from their partners in crime across Capitol Hill.

I may no claim to a complete list, and new entries have been piling up while I've been otherwise occupied (And, yeah, the Scorcard's coming back. After all, they just can't seem to avoid racking them up.), but here's a quick recap...

1. Cheney's secret Energy Task Force

2. Ashcroft's illegal campaign contributions in 2000

3. Boeing I - the $23 billion tanker lease deal

4. Boeing II - the $1.3 billion surveillance aircraft boondoggle

5. Bush-Cheney 2000's failure to report $14 million spent on "recount" activities

6. Haliburton in Iraq

7. Haliburton in Nigeria

8. The Valerie Plame outing

9. Withholding information about the Medicare bill costs

10. Daniel Montgomery, Director of the ATSB, accepting illegal gifts from airlines.

11. John Korsmo, FHFB chair and his wife Michelle, a DOL official, involved in illegal political fundraising.

12. The suspension of Parks Police Chief Teresa Chambers in violation of Title 5 whistleblower protections.

13. The Iraqi National Congress' use of government funds to lobby for war.

14. Misuse of the Secret Service and other security to shield the President and Vice President from dissent on the campaign trail.

15. Abuse of the Presidential Records Act, to shield Reagan, Bush I and Bush II from scrutiny, and leaking information about Clinton pardons.

16. DOJ and Interior blocking the investigation of oil leases that cheated American Indian nations.

17. Charges by John Dean that Bush knowingly violated the terms of the Iraq war resolution.

18. Diversion of $700 million in Afghan war funds to preparations for Iraq invasion.

19. Failure to account for $40 billion in 9/11 emergency response funds.

20. Use of IRS web site to disseminate political messages from RNC press releases.

21. Administration appointees with fraudulent academic credentials, including an Assistant and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and a member of the National Commission on Presidential Scholars.

22. HHS ethics investigations, including Thomas Scully negotiating a new job representing companies that directly benefit from his work as Medicare chief.

23. The non-partisan General Accounting Office (GAO) found that the administration engaged in illegal propaganda with its fake news segments about the new Medicare law.

24. Rumsfeld's phony list of Iraqi contractors, provided to Rep. Ike Skelton, that doesn't include key Abu Ghraib players Titan and CACI, or Vinnell, MPRI Int., SAIC, Eagle Group, etc.

25. The Defense Department failure to submit the required quarterly reports on how supplemental authorizations have been spent since May 9, 2003, a report that covered spending through February 28, 2003.

26. A dozen current and former truckers say they risked their lives driving across Iraq in empty trucks more than 100 times while "dodging bullets, bricks and homemade bombs" -- trips their employer, a Halliburton subsidiary, billed to the U.S. government.

27. Deputy AG James Comey's attempt to improperly influence the Supreme Court deliberations and/or poison any potential jury pool in the Jose Padilla 'unlawful combatant' case.

28. The DoD/DoJ coverup of the chain of command responsibility for Abu Ghraib tortures. As of 6/9/04, no commissioned officer is facing Court Martial charges for the events at the prison.
29. Attorney General John Ashcroft's obstruction of Congressional investigators by refusing to provide an unclassified memorandum reported to instruct Administration officials on methods to avoid culpability for torture and other war crime violations against prisoners.

30. Using Doug Feith, a political employee, to award no-bid contracts, coordinated with the Vice President's Chief of Staff, to the Vice President's former firm, Haliburton.

31. Bush's putting ideology above science in policy development, resulting in, among other things, allowing a Cabinet Secretary to withhold evidence in a Congressional Hearing and permitting idustry lobbyists to write mercury pollution legislation according to their profit desires instead of sound science.

32. Attorney General John Ashcroft giving false evidence under oath, according to the testimony of two FBI agents.

33. The Justice Department release without trial of terror suspect Nabil al-Marabh for deportation to Syria.

34. The Department of Homeland security awarding a high-level security clearance to Faisal Gill despite his submitting an application that concealed his association with indicted terrorist Abdurahman Alamoudi.

35. John A. Shaw, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for International Technology Security, conducting "...unauthorized investigations of Iraq reconstruction efforts," and using the results " push for lucrative contracts for friends and their business clients."

36. Bush officials editing the EPA report on NYC air quality after 9/11 in a way that "added reassuring statements and deleted cautionary statements."

37. Misuse of a technology contract with Affiliated Contract Services to employ interrogators at Gitmo.

38. Leaking the identity of Muhammed Naeem Noor Khan, the al Qaida double agent in Pakistan.

39. The EPA delivered an advance copy of a rule for commercial laundries to industry representatives for editing, letting the industry define the regulation.

40. A GAO audit finds the Defense Department has an error rate of 95% in payroll accounting for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

41. The neo-con cabal operating out of Doug Feith's DoD office, ranging from the espionage investigation of Larry Franklin through the House and Senate investigations of a broader pattern of misbehavior surrounding Feith's operation.

42. The GAO reports that corporations are permitted to bid for US government contracts while using subsidiaries in foreign tax havens to gain a competetive bidding advantage.

43. HHS deleting a chart from its annual report that revealed the cost increases for Medicare recipients until Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) noticed its absence and demanded disclosure.

44. John Ashcroft's publicity tours to support passage of the PATRIOT, which, as Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) points out, apparently violate laws that prohibit lobbying by executive branch officials.

45. Conditions in the prisons operated by the BIA, which Interior officials report have produced at least 11 fatalities, 236 suicide attempts and 632 escapes since the Bush administration took office.

46. Department of Interior mismanagement of the Indian land trusts, and their legal battles against tribal efforts to gain compensation, despite repeated judical sanctions for misconduct and malfeasance.

47. The GAO found the Bush administration vioalted the law by allowing the insurance industry to impose illegal limits on Medicare recipients under a managed care trial program.

48. A serious breach of homeland security reponsiblities has occured as the Bush administration has sent an aging fleet of Coast Guard vessels into an expanded mission with an understaffed, inexperienced corps of Coasties.

49. The NRCC's illegal transfer of $500,000 in soft money to ineligible recipients during the 1999 primary season.

50. The House leadership censored the C-SPAN cameras in the chamber during the three hours the they were harassing members to switch their votes, locking the cameras on the Democratic side of the chamber.

51. DeLay selling influence to Westar Energy.

52. DeLay using the FAA to chase the Texas "Killer D's."

53. Rep. Tom Davis using his chairmanship of the House Government Reform Committee to block the Haliburton investigations.

54. Rep. Joe Barton using his franking privelege to contact voters outside the District he was elected to represent.

55. DeLay's PAC contributions to House Ethics investigators.

56. DeLay directing Texas Republican Peter Cloeren to channel contributions to out of state PACs in order to evade FEC contribution limits in a Texas Congressional race.

57. The Republican Congress not only failed to tighten of the rules requiring pensions to set aside enough money to meet their obligations, but actually loosened them, giving the biggest flexibility was given to the most troubled industries.

58. Senate Judiciary Committee computer theft.

59. The Nick Smith bribe.

60. Tom DeLay's illegal Texas legislative contributions.

61. Tom DeLay's bogus “Celebrations for Children” charity, used as a front for political receptions.

62. Tom DeLay's abuse of Treasury Department personnel for political puposes by ordering a a partisan analysis of John Kerry’s tax plan.

63. Bill Frist's financial stake in a medical malpractice insurer, while pushing malpractice "reform" in the Senate.

64. Rep. Henry Bonilla's American Dream PAC, which has contributed less than 9% of its funds to the minority candidates it was chartered to assist.
And before the wingnuts weigh in, if you haven't kept up with the posts that introduced each item in more depth, details for each and every charge can be readily found at

Profiles in Courage, '05

Via Peacegarden, 16 who dare speak truth to power (including, I'm proud to say, my own personal Congresscritter...)
January 12, 2005
The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We write to urge you to take immediate steps to begin the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

Although the initial invasion of Iraq may have occurred with minimal troop deaths, the subsequent occupation of the country has been anything but successful. Already more than 1,300 American troops have lost their lives since the war began on March 19, 2003. At least 10,000 American troops have been injured as well, and it is impossible to know exactly how many thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians have been killed. Despite the enormity of the war’s casualties, the Iraqi insurgency continues to grow stronger with every passing day.

Iraq is no closer to becoming a stable democracy today than it was two years ago, as evidenced in recent weeks by the daily torrent of insurgent attacks on American forces and Iraqi civilian leaders. On January 4th, insurgents assassinated Ali Haidari, the governor of the Iraqi province that includes Baghdad. Just as devastating to the prospect of democracy, on December 30th, al-Jazeera satellite channel reported that all 700 electoral workers in Mosul quit their posts out of fear of being killed. Two weeks later, on January 10th, the entire 13-member electoral commission in the Anbar province, just west of Baghdad, resigned after being threatened by insurgents. If even Iraqi election officials fear for their lives, how can we possibly expect Iraqi citizens to feel safe going to the polls? How can we continue to put our own troops in harm’s way, the continued targets for Iraq’s thousands of malcontent insurgents?

It has become clear that the existence of more than 130,000 American troops stationed on Iraqi soil is infuriating to the Iraqi people - especially because Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction and did not have a connection to the tragic events of September 11th, 2001 or to the al Qaeda terrorist organization. Indeed, the very presence of Americans in Iraq is a rallying point for dissatisfied people in the Arab world. The events of the last two years have not only intensified the rage of the extremist Muslim terrorists, they have also ignited civil hostilities in Iraq that have made Americans and Iraqis substantially less safe. Therefore, by removing our troops from the country, we will remove the main focus of the insurgents’ rage.

Again, while it may be logistically difficult to immediately remove every American soldier, we urge you to take immediate action to begin the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. This is the only way to truly support our troops. Thank you for your consideration of this request.


Lynn Woolsey (CA-06)
Danny Davis (IL-07)
Lane Evans (IL-17)
Sam Farr (CA-17)
Raul Grijalva (AZ-07)
Alcee Hastings (FL-23)
Maurice Hinchey (NY-22)
Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL-02)
Dennis Kucinich (OH-10)
Barbara Lee (CA-09)
John Lewis (GA-05)
Jim McDermott (WA-07)
Grace Napolitano (CA-38)
Major Owens (NY-11)
Jose Serrano (NY-16)
Pete Stark (CA-13)
FWIW, me, too.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Keep climbing...

...He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get will get to the promised land!

Martin Luther King, Jr.
April 3, 1968

Sunday, January 16, 2005

My two cents...

...on the whole Kos/Jerome/Zephyr blowup. (Did I say two cents? Perhaps I flatter myself...)

I'm hardly an apoligist for Kos or Jerome. I do appreciate their work, generally, but since I was a pretty active anti-Dean blogger, some of our differences are apparent. I've cast a somewhat jaundiced eye on some of their tag team consultant bashing, considering that their own consultancy shingle is still hanging high (and despite Kos' assurance that he's mostly out of the biz, he's still a partner in the firm which is still trading on his (well-deserved) high profile in the progressive community). I'm on the other side of Jerome on the DNC Chair question to some degree, and generally unclear about where Kos is on that one.

All that being said, there's just no question that both Kos and Jerome went above and beyond any reasonable level of disclosure and ethical behavior when Armstrong/Zuniga was employed by the Dean campaign. Anyone reading Daily Kos during that time found a disclaimer at the top of the page, and anyone reading MyDD simply didn't find a word from Jerome, because he suspended blogging for the duration of the consulting contract.

So why is it a big deal? Because Zephyr Teachout, for reasons which seem totally clear only to her, chose to bash Kos and Jerome, and by extension the internet team at the Dean campaign, on her Zonkette site, assigning motives of questionable ethics to the decision to hire them. Trippi denies it and anyone who was reasonably observant of the scene at the time knows it's a crock, but it played right into the hands of the wingnuts as they campaign to rescue the reputation of the payola scandal surrounding Armstrong Williams.

Even our presumed friends are confused.
BEGALA: I don’t know. First, if in fact people were paid to flak Howard Dean and didn’t disclose it, that’s reprehensible. We talked about that earlier with Armstrong Williams, and the same standard should apply to liberals.

A couple of things are obvious from that quotation. First, Paul Begala's revealed as just another TV talker willing to prattle on about subjects he knows nothing of. Those that might bemoan the loss of his voice with the cancellation of Crossfire should be comforted that it's a much smaller loss than the removal of Carlson and Novak are gains.

It's also instructive about just how small the reach of even the biggest bloggers is. By the time Begala took to the airwaves with his blather, the truth - that Dean hadn't payed Kos or Jerome or anyone except his own campaign staff who wrote for his own campaign blog - to 'flak' for him had been prominently proven by Kos, Jerome, Atrios, Digby and any number of other heavyweights in the lefty blogosphere. Clearly, one of the most prominent liberal spokesmen in the SCLM went on the air without skimming any of them. All of us combined, I'm afraid, really aren't all that.

Then, of course, there's the craziness of the idea that there's any kind of equivalence whatsoever between the illegal reciept of government payola by Williams and the activities of overtly partisan bloggers. You can't hold people to the same standard unless they're involved in the same, or at least a vaguely similar, activity, and that's just not the case here.

Meanwhile, hay is made of this nonsense by all the usual wingnut suspects, simply because Zephyr couldn't resist a little of the intramural backbiting that's all too typical of progressive politics.


From the 'Good for the Goose' department..

The memory hole beckons, so we all need to do what we can to keep this one current...
"John Kerry did the right thing by choosing not to drag the presidential election into court. Slade Gorton made the same choice in the 2000 election. I hope Christine Gregoire will follow their example."

-Dino Rossi, 11/12/2004

Must be the weekend...

...because I can't resist playing with these online analysis thingies. Actually, I considered this result kind of flattering and pretty accurate, at least as measured by my self image..

You are a Folkie. Good for you.

What kind of Sixties Person are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

(That's Phil Ochs, kids. If you don't know him, you should...)

Saturday, January 15, 2005

I'm remiss, too... pointing you toward the work of Carla at Preemptive Karma, whose recent work on the Washington Governor's race transcends ordinary blogging and constitutes extraordinary journalism. I'm not sure you can fully grasp what's going on here without keeping up with her efforts.

She's been focused on one of the major whines of the Republicans, that military votes were treated unfairly, despite the absence of complaints from the military. In fact, as Carla reports, the DoD went to some extraordinary efforts of their own to promote the exercise of the franchise among the ranks (something even I will concede Rummy got right, even if his motives were all wrong), and take some deserved pride in the results.

Rossi, Vance and their brigade of radio talkers and wingnut bloggers, though, disparage those efforts and would have you believe that those efforts were for naught and that stories like the Stars and Stripes report that "...the US military has found no evidence of problems with overseas military absentee ballots" are a sign of some kind of incompetence, lack of concern or evil conspiracy on the part of our military commanders.

Once again I'm left wondering...

Why do Republicans hate the men and women who fight for America?

Building the Monolition...

I've been remiss in updating the list. No excuse really. Since it seems to get shorter all the time, it should be easy to track. Here's an update from the New York Times, via the Toronto Star...
Ukraine became the latest dropout from the "coalition of the willing" when President Leonid Kuchma formally ordered his generals to start pulling his country's roughly 1,600 troops out of Iraq.

That was not a surprise because Ukraine has been heading for the door for some time. Still, given that Ukraine has been much in the news and that its contingent was the fifth-largest in Iraq (after the United States, Britain, Italy and Poland), the exit is worth noting.


Ukraine's withdrawal punches a major and potentially fatal hole in the much-ballyhooed multinational division that Poland volunteered to lead in Iraq. Spain was the first to drop out, and Ukraine had the second-largest contingent after Poland itself.

The coalition has also lost Hungary, the Philippines and Honduras, among others, while Poland itself, long regarded as second only to Britain in its fealty to the United States, is talking of cutting back. Several other countries intend to reduce their participation in the next few months.
...and so goes the Coalition of the Coerced.

The Brilliant and Beautiful Bride...

...of Upper Left is right about an astonishing range of subjects, but she's wrong when she accuses me of acting like a 12 year old, and I have the proof right here...

You Are 27 Years Old


Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

Not bad for a guy about to turn twice the age I apparently act, huh?

Friday, January 14, 2005

From the Good Answers file..., pardon me...Dr. Streak reminds us...
What do we know about our Capital Punishment?

1) The states that execute the most are from the old Confederacy.

2) Those same states had the most illegal lynchings as well.

3) Our system is biased on both class and race. If you are poor and can't afford good counsel, you have a much higher possibility of being executed (especially in Texas).

3b. If the victim is white, much more likely to result in execution. Victims of color don't count as much.

4. Since the advent of DNA testing, the Innocence Project has exonerated 154 people who were on death row. Remember, DNA evidence only comes into play when there is, well, DNA to be tested. That doesn't mean those are the only wrongful convictions. Especially with what we know about eye witness testimony, it is inconcievable that we can claim that we only execute the guilty.
...which reminds me of one of the big reasons I was such a strong John Kerry supporter last year, and why I still think he's one of our finest leaders. Public officials who resist public blood lust to oppose state sanctioned murder deserve our support.

(as usual, my emphasis)

From the Good Question file...

Noam Scheiber's curiosity is piqued at TNR's etc...
According to Dick Cheney:
Others have made the broader argument that any kind of stock market investing is unwise when it comes to personal retirement....
...Who, exactly, has made the "broader argument that any kind of stock market investing is unwise when it comes to personal retirement"?
Who, indeed? If you can, you certainly should have investments independent of Social Security. I think that's univerally accepted. Some folks can't, though, for a variety of reasons, and the nature of the market is such that while some folks come out winners, some inevitably come out losers. Social Security evens the field a bit for everyone. That's what it's for.

Of course, if you have the resources and skills to get in the market, by all means do so. That's no reason to destroy Social Security, though, and that's what the Bushco scheme will do, because that's what they want it to do.

I choose... take it as a compliment that I'm not on the list of folks nominated for a Koufax award in the Most Deserving of Wider Attention category. I figure the only reason I'm not on the list is that all y'all figure that this place is just so terrific that everyone already knows about it.

The Carpetbagger Report is on the list, though, and I heartily encourage all of you to click over to Wampum and give the CBR your vote. I've got dozens of blogs on my Bloglines list, but when I just want to do a quick scan of a few sites, that's one I never skip. There's always something worth my while, and yours, there. This concise and insightful review of the function and future of the DNC Chair is a good example.

In fact, there are days when I think I should just convert this to a mirror of the Carpet Bagger. It would save a lot of time and be a considerable upgrade in content. But you'd miss me, right?


Anyway, give him a boost with your vote. And if you're inclined, toss something in the Wampum tip jar. They take on considerable effort and expense to provide this service to the lefty blogosphere.

The lion roars...

I could have picked most anything from Ted Kennedy's National Press Club speech as a quote of the day, but these comments really sum up why I'm a Democrat, and why despite setbacks, I'm a confident Democrat.
In fact, our values are still our greatest strength. Despite resistance, setbacks, and periods of backlash over the years, our values have moved us closer to the ideal with which America began - that all people are created equal. And when Democrats say "all," we mean "all."


A new American majority is ready to respond to our call for a revitalized American dream - grounded firmly in our Constitution and in the endless adventure of lifting this nation to ever new heights of discovery, prosperity, progress, and service to all our people and to all humanity.
The dream will never die.

On guard...

The lovely and talented Audrey Hepcat shifts into fierce and intimidating mode and takes a post in defense of the box that is Upper Left World Headquarters...

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Please, be specific.

Just a note for the wingers who drop by to comment on the "corruption and illegality" in King County's hand recount process.

Do you mean that the Republican vote counters and Republican election judges who were present to oversee the tally of each and every vote counted in King County were so hopelessly inept that their incompetent efforts spoiled the result, or that they were so universally corrupt that they were all bought off and thus failed to meet their responsibilities?

I'm sure either might be true, but I'm wondering which you mean...

Good news...

...on the internets.

Any legal eagles out there...

...who know what constitutes an illegal effort to influence a judicial decision under Washington law? This passage from a piece by Sandeep Kaushik in The Stranger got me wondering...
On Wednesday, Gregoire will be inaugurated governor. Whether she stays governor will be decided by the courts, not the public. But as Vance points out, "Even judges are human beings. They read newspapers too."
Sure they do. And being human, they might be influenced. But when someone openly admits that they're spending thousands of dollars to gin up a controversy in order to deliberately influence the decision of a judge, well, if it's legal, it shouldn't be.

At any rate, it seems that Vance's bald admission that he's at the head of an effort to intimidate the bench should be pretty offensive to every judge in the state, and put any decision in favor of a Mulligan for Rossi in doubt.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Yglesias gets it, too...

...and makes an important, if uncomfortable, point.
...there's simply too much bad blood between Dean and other important people in the party. Many centrist Democrats (and, frankly, non-centrist Democrats) are simply bitter about Dean's over-the-top "Republican-lite" rhetoric. Dean, too, is bitter about the over-the-top "Mondale-McGovernism" rhetoric that was directed at him. Neither side is blameless in this, and I don't really care to adjudicate who's more in the wrong. But that's the reality. The party could use a shake-up, but it certainly doesn't need a bitter, emotion-laden pissing match...
It's just true. Among Party regulars, 'important' and otherwise, there was a lot of resentment toward Howard Dean's implication that being a Democrat was something to be ashamed of. Folks who work year around, year in and year out, for the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates are generally proud of their work and their Party. Many of them, and I'm talking about the grassroots rank and file Party regulars, were offended by the tone of the Dean campaign, and they were I think, the biggest reason the Dean machine crashed and burned as soon as the pundits were replaced by the voters last winter and spring. They haven't gone away, and they won't (I certainly hope) be going away. Precinct captains tend to outlive Presidential candidates in the party organization, by years, sometimes decades.

Again, I'm largely over it. I don't have any great objections to a Dean chairmanship, at least not from the way he conducted his primary campaign. I think he aquitted himself admirably during the general election campaign and since. I question the depth of skill as a strategist and fundraiser he brings to the job. He's depended on hired guns for those services in the past, while the DNC Chair is a hired gun. A lot of folks, though, are no where near over it, and the overheated rhetoric that many of the hardcore Deaner's continue to throw at the Party regulars doesn't help a bit. I know the Deaniac fringe doesn't really speak for the Governor, but they don't seem to know it.

And there's just no getting around it. Other than the totally unacceptable Tim Roemer (sorry Nancy and Harry, but squeezing out a few more bucks for the Congressional campaign committees doesn't justify a bloody debate over key Democratic principles), there's just no more divisive figure in the DNC Chair race than Howard Dean. That might not be fair. It's probably not justified.

But it's true.