Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Who'da thunk it?

Via Political Wire...
Ron Brownstein notes that though Democrats "are optimistic about their chances of ousting GOP senators in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island," they're "unlikely to regain a Senate majority -- in 2006 or soon thereafter -- unless they can reverse the GOP consolidation of Senate seats in states that have supported Bush."…
From which I gather that if we don't win, we'll lose, and if we lose, we won't win...

In case you missed them…

…the General has a set of Memorial Day photos every mindful American should see...

Am I the only one...

...who's way past caring who 'Deep Throat' is?

What's wrong…

A couple random observations after a cruise through the blogosphere...

What's wrong with contemporary American liberalism is the liberal compulsion to endlessly dwell on what's wrong with contemporary American liberalism.

What's wrong with most Democratic candidates is the Democratic obsession with what's wrong with Democratic candidates.

What's wrong is that we've started to believe too much of the nonsense the liars on the other side say about us...

Monday, May 30, 2005

In Memory...

Today's parade will probably be the shortest of the season, with (sadly) the smallest audience, and perhaps the most important one of all, as our drill team and color guard hook up to join the parade of colors past this old fella and the plain white headstones in the veterans' section of Evergreen Washelli cemetary in Seattle.

'Happy' Memorial Day doesn't really hit the mark as a holiday sentiment. Have a mindful Memorial Day. If you like, you can start with this...
No Man's Land- Eric Bogle

Well how do you do Private William McBride
Do you mind if I sit here down by your grave side
And I'll rest for a while in the warm summer sun
I've been walking all day and I'm nearly done
And I see by your gravestone you were only 19
When you joined the glorious fallen back in 1916
Well I hope you died quick and I hope you died clean
Or Willie McBride was it slow and obscene

Did they beat the drum slowly
Did they play the fife lowly
Did the rifles fire o'er you
As they lowered you down
Did the bugles play the Last Post in chorus
Did the pipes play the Flowers Of The Forest

And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind
In some faithful heart does your memory enshrine
And though you died back in 1916
In some faithful heart are you forever 19
Or are you a stranger without even a name
Enshrined forever behind the glass pane
Of an old photograph, torn and tattered and stained
And fading to yellow in a brown leather frame

Did they beat the drum slowly
Did they play the fife lowly
Did the rifles fire o'er you
As they lowered you down
Did the bugles play the Last Post in chorus
Did the pipes play the Flowers Of The Forest

Ah the sun's shining now on these green fields of France
The warm winds blow gently and the red poppies dance
The trenches have vanished under the plough
No gas and no barbed wire, no guns firing now
But here in the graveyard it's still No-Man's Land
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand
To Man's blind indifference to his fellow-man
To a whole generation who were butchered and damned

Did they beat the drum slowly
Did they play the fife lowly
Did the rifles fire o'er you
As they lowered you down
Did the bugles play the Last Post in chorus
Did the pipes play the Flowers Of The Forest

And I can't help but wonder now William McBride
Do all those who lie here know why they died
Did you really believe them when they told you the cause
Did you really believe that this war would end wars
Well the suffering and the sorrow and the glory, the shame
The killing, the dying, it was all done in vain
For Willie McBride, it all happened again
And again, and again and again and again.

Did they beat the drum slowly
Did they play the fife lowly
Did the rifles fire o'er you
As they lowered you down
Did the bugles play the Last Post in chorus
Did the pipes play the Flowers Of The Forest

Sunday, May 29, 2005

I try to be positive…

…heck, in terms of the blogosphere, I'm a downright cheerleader for the organized Democratic Party, but I try to stay conscious, too, of potential trouble ahead. That's why this remark from Howard Dean's recent appearance on Inside Politics has been stuck in my craw for a few days…
I can't worry about what the press does. The press has done what they do since I have been running for office. My job is not to worry about the press. My job is to worry about the American people and the Democratic Party.
I don't know why the hell he said that, but I sure hope to hell he doesn't believe it. Howard Dean brought two strengths to the position of DNC Chair. The first was a personal appeal to a faction of progressive activists who might typically vote for Democratic candidates but have been generally unafilliated with the Party in more formal ways, including financial support of Party organizations, as opposed to campaigns. This is the area that seems to have received most of Dean's attention to date, as he's worked to integrate his network of supporters to build stronger Party organizations at the grassroots level, state by state. While the lackluster fundraising at national headquarters has disappointed some Democrats, I think it's too early to measure the impact of Dean's efforts to date. The attempt to rebuild a Party, bringing aboard new voices and working from the ground up, takes time and there may yet be a commensurate financial reward.

Dean's other strength is actually something of a mixed blessing. What many Democrats laud as a spirited defense of our Party and its principles is portrayed by the GOP as a demonstration that the Democratic Party is so whacked out that they made the notorious Iowa screamer their Chairman. Maintaining his aggressive persona while countering that Republican libel means that Howard Dean has to walk something of a tightrope every time he makes a public appearance, knowing as he must that the spinners in the GOP oppo shop will be pouring over every word. How his story is presented vs. theirs in the press will have a powerful effect on every other effort undertaken by our Party and its candidates, for better or worse.

Unless Dr. Dean understands that a very important part of his job is to worry about what the press does, to him and to all of us by extension, we can only expect the worst...

Sometimes it's worth the extra pennies…

…to get the good stuff, especially when the good stuff comes from the good guys. Kos has the text of a letter from a Kraft Foods executive, under assault from the fundies over the company's sponsorship of the Gay Games. My take on the best bits...
Diversity is more than a word many people like to say. At Kraft we truly respect all kinds of differences. And diversity is not a selective concept. By definition, it's nothing if not inclusive. We respect diversity of ethnicity, gender, experience, background, personal style and yes, sexual orientation and gender identity. Recognizing, respecting and valuing these differences helps us be a more successful business and a workplace where all employees can realize their full potential.


It can be difficult when we are criticized. It's easy to say you support a concept or a principle when nobody objects. The real test of commitment is how one reacts when there are those who disagree. I hope you share my view that our company has taken the right stand on diversity, including its contribution to the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago.
Sadly (if too typically), the thread at Kos quickly devolved into condemnations of Kraft as purveyors of poly-unsaturated something or other and a puppet of big tobacco.

Don't even go there. All y'all waiting for the Democratic Party to become as dogmatically anti-corporate as some on the left are going to have to wait until after the revolution - or until Dennis Kucinich wins the Presidential nomination - or something.

Is every product Kraft produces the key to healthy living? Certainly not, but mac & cheese was a staple of my GI-bill financed undergraduate diet, and I've lived many years to tell the tale. Is every link in their corporate chain a paragon of enlightened corporate citizenship? That, too, would be a big no.

Is this a good time to shut up about all that for a minute and laud Kraft for an enlightened and committed position on workplace diversity and community engagement?

Damn straight…err…right…err…Hell yeah!

Catching up...

I've been a bad blogger, I guess. No Friday pet blogging, for instance. Just couldn't book time to chase the cat around with a camera this week. I should update you on the fate of Hambone, who made a guest appearance in the last pet post. He's the terrier that the Brilliant and Beautiful Bride of Upper Left rescued from a busy intersection. Hambone has been reunited with his grateful owner, via the Tacoma Humane Society. Once in awhile it's nice to cover the good news.

Didn't run a random ten this week, either, but that's easy to fix...

Rickie Lee Jones Chuck E.'s In Love
Big Joe Turner Shake, Rattle & Roll
The Who Going Mobile
Randy Newman Short People
The Riviera's California Sun
Sam & Dave I Thank You
Townes Van Zandt For The Sake Of The Sun
Donovan Mellow Yellow
Hank Williams Honky Tonkin'
King Pleasure Swan Blues

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Goldy wraps up the week…

…in Wenatchee, and in the process tells us not only what's wrong with the GOP case, but the GOP in a much broader sense…
The GOP spent good money on good attorneys, and you can be sure that going into their opening arguments they had a pretty good understanding that this was a lost cause. But they decided to drag the state through it anyway (and I’m guessing again, in the inevitable Supreme Court appeal), simply because they believe they can use this as a forum for scoring political points in the court of public opinion.

That may be true, and that may constitute shrewd political strategy. But it is fundamentally dishonest, shows great disrespect for the law and the courts, is counter to the very purpose of the contest statute, and in the long term, may be very harmful to our democracy.
"…fundamentally dishonest…" "...direspect for the law and the courts…" "…very harmful to our democracy…"

Tells you about all you need to know about the destructionist mob running the Republican Party these days…

Hut, two, three, four...

Off to another parade, this time up north in Bellingham. No night shift at the pub this week, though, so blogging will resume when I return this afternoon...some good stuff percolating...check back.

Well, yeah…

…me, too, if she's on the ticket. Via Political Wire...
"For the first time, a majority of Americans say they are likely to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton if she runs for president in 2008," according to a new USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll.
But I suspect that's got more to do with the excellent Democratic prospects for '08 generally than with Hillary's appeal specifically. The more relevant question is how many Democrats will support her for the nomination, which is pretty meaningless absent the names of her opponents.

And, of course, there's the open question of whether she'll run or not…my story is she won't, and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, May 27, 2005

While Republican pols…

…crowd their Memorial Day weekend calendars with opportunities to laud our heroic fallen, it's becoming even more obvious that they hate the survivors. This, after all, was the week they choose to kill these bills
Taylor Amendment on TRICARE for Reservists

Last night, Republicans in Congress defeated an amendment by Gene Taylor of Mississippi to provide full TRICARE benefits to all members of the Guard and Reserve and their families. This was offered as a motion to recommit the Defense Authorization bill, and was narrowly defeated by a vote of 211 to 218. Currently, the Guard and Reserve are covered by TRICARE only when they are mobilized for active duty.

Under the Taylor amendment, all members of the Guard and Reserve could buy into TRICARE for an affordable monthly premium. A 2003 report by the General Accounting Office showed that 20 percent of all Reservists do not have health insurance, and 40 percent of Reservists aged 19 to 35 lack health coverage. According to the latest Defense Department data, 18 percent of activated Reservists have no medical coverage. More than 433,000 members of the National Guard and Reserves have been called up for active duty over the last two and one-half years, not all Guardsmen and Reservists have access to TRICARE. The Taylor amendment was adopted by the Armed Services Committee by a vote of 32 to 30. However, after the mark-up, Chairman Hunter used a technicality to remove the amendment from the bill.

Obey Amendment on Veterans' Health Care

Today, House Republicans blocked consideration of amendment by Congressman David Obey of Wisconsin by a vote of 194 to 223. The amendment would have provided an additional $2.6 billion for veterans' health care, which would have resulted in an appropriation of $3.2 billion over President Bush's budget request. The Obey amendment would make certain no qualifying veteran is denied VA health care and would also accommodate new veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The total would include $300 million for mental health services to meet the growing needs of Iraqi veterans, as well as $200 million for prosthetics and amputee care and programs. The coalition of AMVETS, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, and Veterans of Foreign Wars all endorsed the Obey amendment.

Melancon Amendment on Needs for Returning Soldiers

Today, Republicans rejected by a vote of 213 to 214 an amendment by Congressman Charlie Melancon of Louisiana to provide an additional $53 million for urgently needed funding for items critical for veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These funds would have been used for combat-related trauma care centers, telemedicine initiatives for trauma care centers, VA medical and prosthetic research, survivors of those who die from service-connected deaths, and for processing claims for compensation and pension benefits.
George Bush and the Washington Republicans hate veterans.

Wild About Harry…

the agenda edition...
We Democrats have something better to offer. A reform agenda that will cleanse Washington…give power to the people – not special interests…and make sure that everyday Americans and their concerns get back on the Congressional calendar.

Strengthening our national defense. Rebuilding our economy. Providing families with affordable health care. Making America energy independent. Securing our retirement. That’s our agenda. That’s America’s agenda.
Our agenda is America's agenda.

George Bush and the Washington Republicans are out of touch with America.

Sic 'em, Harry!

The trial continues…

…in Wenatchee, and I'm tracking it a little closer than the lack of posts here might indicate, but there's really not a lot to say at this point. The judge seems to be conducting the trial with one eye toward the appellate courts, where everyone knows this will end up anyway. The result is a fairly broad minded approach to accepting the 'evidence' offered by the forces of darknes…err…the Rossi legal team. Nothing they've offered so far, either in court or in their pre-trial briefs and discovery, seems to meet the standard set by Jeffrey Egan, representing the Secretary of State, on the first day of the proceedings…
Until proven otherwise, the last count was the correct count. Rebutting the evidence requires clear and convincing evidence that illegal votes, fraud or misconduct changed the results.

Misconduct is not enough. Effecting the accuracy is not enough. Changing the outcome is.
"...until proven otherwise..." Baseless assertions and gross exaggerations may satisfy the wingnut radio audience, but the court, thankfully, is a bit more exacting

Anyway, if you find yourself in need for hour by hour, blow by blow coverage, it's out there in abundance (as usual, Goldy's my go-to guy for this stuff). If anything comes up that seems to remotely approximate the required standard of proof, I'll let you know...

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Ya know...

...August has it right...
Amidst all this celebration over Bill Frist being made to look like a complete asswipe who has no control over his own party dominated by right-wing religious fundamentalist extremists, most people left-of-moderate haven't really noted that the sudden success of the "moderate" John McCain is, you know, a really bad thing.
In fact, the whole notion that the filibuster compromise was something brought about by 'moderates' at all. It was a coalition of conservative Democrats and some of the last conservative holdouts against the destructionists who've captured control of the Republican Party. Kind of impressive, actually, that for once conservatives rallied to, umm, conserve something…

By now you know…

…the money quote from the Greece, NY performance of Bamboozlepalooza...
“See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”
I know it's true, but it's hard to believe that he actually said it...

You put that in your mouth?

In the process of serving thousands of refreshing beverages in my capacity as a licensed mixologist, I've discovered that you can tell a lot about a person by what they drink. For instance...
The drink of choice for DeLay is decaffeinated Diet Coke.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Pay no attention…

…to those people behind the voting curtain…
GREECE, N.Y. (AP) - President Bush, facing an uphill battle on Social Security in Congress, worked Tuesday to persuade moderate Republicans to resist pressure from constituents…
"…resist pressure from constituents…" Their arrogance really knows no bounds. None.

George Bush doesn't care about you, and he doesn't think your Congresscritter should either.

Well, that makes sense...

"We should not cut the benefits of any law-abiding retiree by one dime or raise the taxes of any law-abiding worker by one dime until we have done our best to ensure that all taxpayers are complying with the current tax laws," said Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.
...which leads us to this week's edition of the

J. Russell George, the Treasury Department's inspector general for taxation, told lawmakers that the government loses billions of dollars annual because businesses avoid paying the employment taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare.
According to the Treasury auditors, sole proprietors of businesses are abusing Subchapter S corporations to dodge nearly $6 billion a year in payroll taxes, leading Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) to call them "Social Security scofflaws."

Now, since we know this, and we know we need the money, you'd think there'd be a mad dash to collect what's properly owed. You'd think so, until you paused to reflect on who's running the show in D.C...
The committee chairman, Sen. Charles Grassley, said some proposals to collect unpaid taxes or expand the reach of employment taxation might be too difficult to pass.
Much easier, I suppose, to pass some dicey scheme that robs Social Security of even more funding through Bushco's private account wet dreams, or to cut the social safety net out from under retirees with benefit cuts.


Quote of the Day

“These demonstrations were in reality not related to the Newsweek story. They were more against progress in Afghanistan and our strategic partnership with America. We know the people who were behind the demonstrations.”

Afgan President Hamid Karzai
Reality-based government in Afghanistan. Who'da thunk it?

Hat tip - hell, abject bowing and scraping - to Terry Turner, who has an exceptional eye for this stuff...

The good questions…

…just keep coming, sometimes from the most curious quarters...
“I’m inclined to support the Republican Party, but the question becomes, how much other stuff do I have to put up with to maintain that identification?”

Andrew A. Samwick, former chief economist of Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers.
How much? Offhand I'd say roughly a hell of a lot...

Hat tip to The Carpetbagger Report

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


…sorry, but thanks for playing.

The great and powerful Kos proclaims...
NARAL, and many people here, whined and cried about Langevin, the way they whined and cried about Harry Reid, because of those Democrats' personal opposition to abortion. Didn't we know, they demanded, that choice was a core principle of the Democratic Party?

To which I have a simple answer: The hell it is.
The hell you say. Everyone's entitled to their opinion and all, but when I want to figure out what the core principles of the Democratic Party are, though, I generally find the Platform of the Democratic Party a more authorative source than a blog, any blog...
Because we believe in the privacy and equality of women, we stand proudly for a woman's right to choose, consistent with Roe v. Wade, and regardless of her ability to pay. We stand firmly against Republican efforts to undermine that right…. (my emphasis)
Granted, Kos bases his case on the primacy of the right of privacy, a point that's well made in my opinion. My own pro-choice position stems largely from my conviction that it's just none of my business. That's not the sole ground for Democratic support of reproductive choice, though. I think the equality of women is a pretty core principle in its own right, and I'm sure the list could be extended. There's tolerance for a diversity of opinion in the Democratic Party, but we are, in the end, a pro-choice Party, for better or worse. You may never see Harry Reid take a pro-choice vote as a Senator, but you'll never see him move anti-choice legislation as Majority Leader.

Of course, all this comes up largely because of the outrage in some quarters over NARAL's endorsement of Lincoln Chaffee, to which I can only offer a big get over it. NARAL isn't a branch of the Democratic Party, no matter how closely our interests may align with theirs. They're an independent lobbying organization with a need for friends on both sides of the aisle, and an obligation to stand with their friends regardless of partisan affiliation. Lincoln Chaffee is one of the best friends they have on the wrong side of the aisle and they could hardly afford to leave him behind or they'd soon find themselves without any friends there at all.

With the right candidate and the right resources, we can beat him without them, but we can't do it by bashing NARAL or pretending that we're something other than what we are, a Party that stand firmly on the side of the ground of reproductive choice.

I heart my Congressman.

An unnumbered chapter in the never ending story...
"Bring it on" and face the fallout of public opinion, said U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, who joined Rep. Jay Inslee and several transplant surgeons, doctors and researchers to publicly press for passage of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005.
Before Jim, Jay was my Congressman. I heart him, too.

And I still think they should have called it the Ronald Reagan Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act...I'd love to see George veto that one...

While the Senate played nukular chicken…

…things were somewhat more conventional in Iraq. If you didn't notice, Juan Cole did…
Car bombs and other attacks killed at least 49 Iraqis on Monday and left at least 130 wounded, according to AP. Four American troops have also been killed in the past two days.

(umm, make that 9 U.S. Soldiers Killed in 2 Days in Iraq. That's 1645 to date, no end in sight. 58 so far this month, the highest fatality rate in 4 months…damn.)

Happy Holiday!

In honor of "Every Single Blogger In The Goddamned Universe Groping Around In The Dark To Find Out Who Won And Who Lost in The Senate Deal On Filibustering Judicial Nominees, and Then Either Expressing The Result As If Their Dog Had Just Been Run Over or If They Just Won The Lottery Day." (™ Norbizness), here's my view of the (not quite) great compromise.

I was putting the finishing touches on a perfect pint of Guinness when the phone rang. Pal o' Upper Left Terry the Ranger called to tell me that the deal was done and that "…the Democrats won everything." That, of course, begs the question of what exactly we won, other than the opportunity to call Priscilla Owens, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor 'your honor' for the rest of their natural lives. At first glance, I figured August had it about right...
Democrats agree not to filibuster as long as Republicans agree not to stop them from filibustering, unless the Democrats do, which they won't, unless it's really important, but not if fingers were crossed, and something about no backsies. Also, everyone gets a free cot.
My expectations for every possible outcome in the Senate battle were very low. As I've said, there was simply no good result available for liberal minded folk. The best we could hope for was not quite as bad as possible, which is about what we got.

The Carpetbagger brightened my mood a bit, though, with this...
I’ve mentioned that Bill Frist is one of the big losers as a result of the deal struck by the Group of 14, but there’s another name that might challenge the Majority Leader at the top of that list: James Dobson. The man who believes he’s helping guide the Republican domestic agenda made a series of unequivocal demands that weren’t open to negotiation. He came up completely empty handed.

Dobson insisted — in fact, he commanded — Senate Republicans to ensure confirmation votes on every Bush nominee, eliminate judicial filibusters permanently, and sidestep any attempt at compromise. Dobson invested heavily to rally millions of evangelicals to the cause, bombarding the hill with messages, and making this vote the top priority for the religious movement in Congress this year. For his efforts, he was rewarded with absolutely nothing from his wish list.
I suppose the practically nothing we 'won' is better than the absolutely nothing Dobson ended up with, and anything that hurts the Taliban wing of the Republican Party is a good thing in and of itself. Good for America, if not specifically for Democratic politics.

It was Steve Soto, though, who finally convinced me that Terry the Ranger had it right. It wasn't an unqualified victory, but it was a victory. "Trust me," Steve offers, "we’re doing fine." Well, yeah, I guess we are. Check out his case at The Left Coaster...

Monday, May 23, 2005

Two apparently big stories...

...are coming down the pike this week, but I can't get too excited about them because while they carry the aura of controversy, their outcomes seem fairly well pre-determined.

Regionally, the biggest political story of the week is the opening of trial for Dino Rossi's extra-constitutional pursuit of the Governor's mansion. He's going to lose. He's going to lose in humiliating fashion. Every objective veiwer of his case has found it riddled with legal and logical holes.

The proceedings should provide some irresistable opportunities for snark, but in the end it's Governor Gregoire. Get used to it.

In the US Senate, whether there's a 'compromise' of some sort or the Republican's nuke the rules, there's simply no good thing going to happen for anyone of an even slightly progressive bent. Bad judges will be approved because we have a bad President and the bad guys run the Senate. Again, whatever controversy exists in the fight for an independent judiciary, the outcome seems inevitable.

Until we win back a piece (or two or three) of the federal government, the bad guys will do bad things without regard to our opinions. If there's any good at all in this mess, it depends on our ability to communicate just how bad the bad guys are to a wider audience.

And he's loaded for bear…

"I may be a target, but I'm a target that shoots back."

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV)

From the 'Good Question' file…

From the 'Good Question' file…

An entry by Jerry Bowles.
What kind of man sends his wife out to face a dangerous foreign mob but is too chicken shit himself to face a roomful of average Americans who haven't been screened in advance?
The Bush plan: Women and children first … into the line of fire.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Oh, well…

…Howard Dean's Sunday show debut as DNC Chair didn't provide all that much to talk about after all. The Doc was pugnacious enough to satisfy his loyalists, and loose enough, apparently, with some facts and figures to confirm the worst fears of his critics. Mostly, he was the opinionated centrist, with a streak of stubborness, that was Dean the candidate at his best.

Unfortunately, it's not necessarily the best persona for his new role. Too much about Howard, I'm afraid. It's the inevitable residue of his media celebrity last year, but now he needs to divert the focus from himself. That's why he's stayed of the Sunday circuit and in the trenches for the first 100 days of his chairmanship. Frankly, I think we're better off with the media bleating 'Where's Howard?" than 'Look what he said this time!,' but he has to pop up now and then, I suppose. He did about as well as I could hope.

But he has work to do elsewhere, and I won't be disappointed if 100 more days - or more - pass before his next run through the punditocracy's gaunlet.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Well, I'm back...

...for a minute, then off for a shift at the tav...

Can't find a lot to blog about on short notice, but I'm sure there will be plenty to say after Chairman Dean faces off with Pumpkinhead tomorrow. He's changed his rhetoric a bit in the days following the dustup over his remarks about Tom Delay at the Mass. Democratic Convention, but he hasn't really softened his tone. That's fine. It's time, heck, way past time to apply some heat to the destructionist mob in the GOP, and Howard's just the guy to do it. There's a smart way and a dumb way, of course, but the Chairman's a smart guy and he's still speaking from a fairly new perspective as Party Chair. He'll figure it out.

Hopefully by tomorrow morning.

Either way, there should be fun and fireworks aplenty. Check your local listings...

Parade time again...

...but this week somewhat closer to home (the Armed Forces Day parade in Bremerton, WA - bet you didn't even know it was Armed Forces Day) so I should be back with time for some afternoon blogging before heading out to man the taps at the family pub again...

Random ten...

...from the MP3 directory on my hard drive.
Blondie - Heart Of Glass
Beach Boys - Let Him Run Wild
Doobie Brothers - Long Train Running
Willie Nelson - Red Headed Stranger
Prince - Purple Rain
The Who - Behind Blue Eyes
Rickie Lee Jones - Prelude To Gravity
Ween - Japanese Cowboy
Billy Bragg & Wilco - Secret Of The Seas
Billy Bragg - All You Fascists Bound To Lose
Willie to Prince to The Who, that's pretty random, all right. Those last two seem less so, I guess, but it's all up to the machine...

Another good one…

…from Watching Washington.
It has now been 1,347 days since 9/11. That's how many days there were between Pearl Harbor and V-J Day.
So, what's that mean, exactly? Well, for instance...
1,347 days after Pearl Harbor and Hitler and Mussolini were dead, Tojo was in the dock.
1,347 days after 9/11 we still don't know where Osama bin Laden is.
1,347 days after Pearl Harbor the US had won the race to build the atomic bomb.
1,347 days after 9/11, we've done virtually nothing to guard against a terrorist atom bomb.
It means Bushco has been a failure in the war on terror...

Friday, May 20, 2005

Quote of the Day

The final word on the bottom line.
"The attempt to do away with the filibuster is nothing short of clearing the trees for the confirmation of an unacceptable nominee to the Supreme Court."

Minority Leader Harry Reid.
Via the News Blog

Audrey's on strike…

…until she gets some flowers of her very own, so this week we offer a guest pet. Meet Hambone…

That's the name slapped on this fella by the folks at the Humane Society after the Brilliant and Beautiful Bride of Upper Left rescued him from the intersection of two six lane boulevards today. He was disoriented, with a makeshift harness and evidence of recent surgery, but no tags, so she shuttled him to safety.

A sweetheart, apparently. The BBBUL tells me if it were not for the Lovely and Talented Miss Audrey Hepcat, we might be dog owners.

Maybe it's a function of age…

…being old enough to have been red-baited by right wingers back in the day (and Trot-baited by left wingers, for that matter) that this kind of rhetoric from the likes of Rick Santorum really doesn't surprise or particularly outrage me…
The audacity of some Members to stand up and say, how dare you break this rule? It's the equivalent of Adolf Hitler in 1942. "I'm in Paris. How dare you invade me? How dare you bomb my city? It's mine."
Hmmm. It is pretty awful, isn't it.

Maybe I'm just a bit too numb. Anyway, invoking Hitler's bound to hit a lot of hot buttons, and there's outrage to spare around the net. Oliver rounds up links to some of the key players.

OK, so it's outrageous. But hey, anything that helps bring down Santorum is a good thing.

Arrivederci, Dino?

Goldy and Horses Ass poster DJ offer up some statistical evidence and analysis that seems to shred any hope Dino Rossi may have had of maintaining even a shred of dignity in court. He's going to lose so bad. It'll be so great.

It's beyond my ability to adequately summarize, so you'd best go read the whole thing.

I know the public interest would be best served if Rossi just let the whole thing drop now, but there's a side of me that really wants to see him humiliated by his sophomoric efforts to undermine the state constitution and wreak mischief on the body politic…

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Hi Jim!

Along with some greatly appreciated praise of his own for this joint (thanks, man!), pal o' Upper Left N in Seattle, proprietor of PeaceTreeFarm.org, offers some tidings from an unexpected source...
The May 2005 newsletter from my (and Shaun’s) United States Congressman, the Honorable Jim McDermott (WA-7) contains this note:

Here are just a couple of the Web sites I rely on to get the facts.
• Upper Left: http://upper-left.blogspot.com
• Democracy for Washington: http://www.democracyforwashington.com/
Well, boy howdy! I must be doing something right.

And Rep. McDermott? A guest blogging slot is yours anytime you'd like…

From the 'Good News, Bad News' file...

AP - South Korean scientists have dramatically sped up the creation of human embryonic stem cells, growing 11 new batches that for the first time were a genetic match for injured or sick patients. It is a major advancement in the quest to grow patients' own replacement tissue to treat diseases.
Maybe I'm a hopeless jingoist for feeling this way, but glad as I am for the suffering who are a step closer to a cure via the efforts of the South Koreans, seeing the United States fall behind the third world in science is, well, it sucks, doesn't it?

There's stem cell legislation moving in the House, with apparently bright prospects. Here's hoping...

Watching Washington…

...um. the other Washington, Terry Turner snags a noteworthy factoid…
Adjust for inflation, and the Korean War would cost $350 billion. So far, Congress has spend $320 billion on the Iraq War.
So far...

No problem.

Discussing a Larry Sabato analysis of Democratic prospects for '06, Taegan Goddard makes a point I've heard in several quarters...
For Democrats, the dilemma is whether it's best to turn up the heat on DeLay now, or keep him around as a poster boy for the midterm elections.
I just don't see the dilemma. Nothing that's bad for America is good for Democrats. Every day that Tom DeLay remains in a position of power in the House of Representatives - hell, every day he remains in the House at all - is bad for America.

Of course, they've all got to go, because as we know, the only good Republican politician is a retired Republican politician (remember how great Barry was in his latter days?). Tom DeLay is a perfect place to start.

If you can't beat 'em…

…swipe 'em. Lambert sums it up about as well as it can be done...

Of course, the filibuster fight isn't about the 7 judges, or even about the Supreme Court.

It's about the Republicans, with 51 votes that don't even represent a majority of the country, having the power to do whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want to do it.

And breaking the rules to change the rules isn't a very promising start for a party that wants absolute power, now is it?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Scandal Scorecard - Old School Edition

What with the blizzard of unethical behavior and downright criminality that's been a hallmark of Republican government, I tend to overlook the traditionally fertile ground of 'fraud, waste and abuse.' This week's entry on the

is a slight correction to that tendency. The AP reports...
An audit showed that thousands of people who did not need aid cashed checks that totaled more than $31 million. The allegations were based on "marginal cases" and did not reflect the typical response to disasters by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael D. Brown told a Senate committee.

But an internal investigation by the Homeland Security Department, of which FEMA is a part, found "programatic, systemwide weaknesses" in aid distribution.
Marginal cases," huh? How marginal?
The audit cited allegations that FEMA paid $720,000 to 228 applicants for personal property items based only on the applicants' verbal descriptions.

Arm yourself…

Media Matters has The Top 10 filibuster falsehoods.

The best ammo against their lies is the truth.

Let them eat durable goods...

Good news...
The Labor Department said that excluding food and energy costs, which can vary widely from month to month, the core rate of the Consumer Price Index was unchanged for the first time since November 2003.
Hey, great. As long as you eliminate food and energy from your household budget, you'll be just fine...

Got a problem with this?

"Democrats are setting forth the new ethical standard containing these six principles:

* Ban Members from accepting any gifts from lobbyists.
* Ban Members from secretly working with corporate lobbyists to write legislation.
* Ban lobbying by Members of Congress and high level staff for two years after leaving Congress.
* Enforce the ban on Members and staff soliciting privately-funded travel.
* Ban lobbyists from arranging and financing travel.
* End the 'K Street Project' - ban Members and staff from threatening lobbyists with official actions.
Sounds like a pretty common sense list for anyone who's the least bit concerned about conflicts of interest in Congress. Can't wait to hear the contrary argument from the destructionist mob in the GOP…

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The real point…

Via the LA Times.
The more interesting question may not be how Newsweek goofed, but why the Muslim world is so ready to believe the story. For all the administration's huffing and puffing about Newsweek getting the story wrong, it has produced such a catalog of misdeeds at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo that almost any allegation is instantly credited abroad. The administration itself has said that 11 soldiers have been disciplined for abusing prisoners at Gitmo.
Of course, it's not just a problem abroad. How many Americans, of any ideological stripe, read the news and said "Oh, we'd never do that!"? How many, in fact, read the news and applauded the notion of using sacrilege against Islam as a creative tactic?

(…and whether Newsweek actually 'goofed', at least in terms of whether the behavior described actually happened, is an open question. One that many are still inclined to answer 'yes'…)

Monday, May 16, 2005

No surprise, really...

Your Political Profile

Overall: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Social Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Ethics: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

If you're not afraid…

…you're not paying attention.

Ed Naha takes a close look at the Christian Reconstruction and Dominion wings of the Destructionist cult...
We think because we're smart, because we read books and newspapers, because we know that Jesus said "love one another," we get it. We don't. And that's what these deviants are counting on.

There's a war going on and we're not paying attention.

It's being fought right here, right now.

It's a war of conquest; geared towards, not only conquering our minds, but our souls…and, eventually, our nation.
Sound shrill? Well, consider who we're dealing with...
George Grant, author of "Bringing In The Sheaves: Replacing Government Welfare with Biblical Charity," declared in "The Changing of the Guard: Biblical Principles or Political Action:"

"Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ — to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.

" But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice.

“It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.

“It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.

“It is dominion we are after.

"World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish.

"We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less…
They hate the Constitution. They hate democracy. If you're not one of them, or you resist their advance, they hate you.

War, indeed.

Read it all at Smirking Chimp

Well, it's no wonder…

From CBS Marketwatch: "Foreign demand for U.S. securities slowed sharply in March, the Treasury Department said Monday. Net capital inflows fell to $45.7 billion in March from $84.1 billion in February as foreign central banks became net sellers of U.S. assets for the first time in nearly two years.
…after all, how much would you spend on a stack of paper in a filing cabinet?

Hat tip to Hale Stewart at Bop News.

Even blue states…

…have red counties, and Blue Washington has a series on electing Democrats on the dry side of the Cascades that plenty of pointers worth the attention of us wet siders, as well…and anyone else trying to stop their local GOP machine.

Start here to check it out...

Now we know…

Some folks, hoping for a more aggressive posture by the DNC, have wondered aloud "Where's Howard?" Now we know, and as is often the case, we're reminded to be careful what we wish for...
Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Party, said yesterday that the US House majority leader, Tom DeLay, ''ought to go back to Houston where he can serve his jail sentence," referring to allegations of unethical conduct against the Republican leader.
I'm sure his remark was red meat for the partisan crowd, but some who apparently have a different angle on the big picture demur...
Dean's remark, in a speech to Massachusetts Democrats at their party convention, drew an immediate rebuke from US Representative Barney Frank, the Newton Democrat and one of DeLay's harshest critics. ''That's just wrong," Frank said in an interview on the convention floor. ''I think Howard Dean was out of line talking about DeLay. The man has not been indicted. I don't like him, I disagree with some of what he does, but I don't think you, in a political speech, talk about a man as a criminal or his jail sentence."
Barney's right. I remain as hopeful as anyone that the long awaited Delay indictment will come to pass, but my yearning is as yet unfulfilled. Until that happens, I'd hope that the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee would reflect a little stronger commitment to the principle of due process.

Of all the fates that may await the Bugman, jail's among the least likely anyway, and the Doctor should know by now that when he serves up that kind of red meat rhetoric, the wingnut sound machine will feast on the table scraps for months, doing our Party and its office holders and seekers no good whatsoever.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

All y'all…

…that are all excited about the prospects of some kind of new populism taking hold in the Democratic Party and bringing the Bubba vote back should take note of this from Digby. He starts out quoting Jack Balkin...
History teaches us that populism has recurring pathologies; it is especially important to recognize and counteract them. These dangers are particularly obvious to academics and other intellectual elites: They include fascism, nativism, anti-intellectualism, persecution of unpopular minorities, exaltation of the mediocre, and romantic exaggeration of the wisdom and virtue of the masses.
And concludes that "nativism and racism are powerful populist impulses pretty much everywhere. It may change colors and creeds, but it's always there." There's a lot of valuable ground covered in between. You should read the whole thing.

It's no doubt true that economic populism should work to our advantage, but one of my principle objections to the emphasis it's receiving in some Democratic circles is the tendency to reduce human beings to a bundle of economic interests. Life is more complicated than that, and so is developing a successful populist agenda.

It's not that we shouldn't look there, but we should look very carefully before we go there...

Déjà vu all over again…

They say there's nothing new under the Sun. Frank Rich offers an example…
Today's judge-bashing firebrands often say that it isn't homosexuality per se that riles them, only the potential legalization of same-sex marriage by the courts. That's a sham. 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.
It's pretty much the same with the UN bashing, red baiting (now reduced to accusations of liberalism) and other prominent features of wingnut behavior these days. The good news is that we beat back the Birchers and White Citizens Councils then, and we can beat back the destructionists and fundies now.

I've got to believe that.

Smoking Gun

Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo

Hat tip to lefty at A La Gauche.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Well, maybe...

...maybe not. I'm not sure how much blogging I'll do over the next 24 hours or so...oops, it's almost 2:00 am here. Make that, oh, 32 hours. I'm going to be sleepy tomorrow night. I'm pulling some extra shifts at the family pub over the weekend, and tomor...err...this morning I'm up early to hit the highway for beautiful downtown Sequim, WA (that's 'skwim' for you outlanders) for the annual Irrigation Days festivities and the kickoff of parade season for the veteran's drill team I march with, then back to pour beer. Whether you hear from me depends on what time I'm back from the parade, and how early I close up shop (our little neighborhood tav is rarely open 'til legal closing time).

Meanwhile, feel free to use this as an open thread...

Friday, May 13, 2005

Don't tell her...

...but the Mother's Day flowers weren't really for the lovely and talented Audrey Hepcat. The Beautiful and Brilliant Bride of Upper Left was willing to share, though...

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The circular firing squad returns...

Ezra thinks Kos is "a bit off" with this…
People who worked for Dean, Edwards and Clark all passionately loved their man. The campaigns stuck together. Why?

Because the campaigns were based in the candidates' home states. Hence, staffers had to move to work on those campaigns. They had to make a sacrifice to uproot and travel to a strange city on behalf of their guy. That commitment was real. And since those staffers knew no one else in these cities, they worked together, played together, and stuck together through thick and thin. It was shared sacrifice, and it translated to genuine affection and commitment to their candidate and their cause.

Kerry's campaign was based in DC. The staffers didn't have to make a commitment to their candidate beyond taking a different bus or metro stop. They didn't hang out after work, since they already had their established social circles in town. There was no sense of shared sacrifice and commitment to their guy. Kerry, the consumate insider, ran his campaign from frickin' Washington D.C. And now he tells us he's an "outsider"?
Frankly, I think he's full of bullshit and I'm getting pretty sick of him throwing sour grapes in bunches at the Senator every time he gets the chance.

In case Kos was asleep at the time, a quick glance at some old newspapers will quickly reveal that John Kerry kicked the Dean, Edwards and Clark campaigns across the parking lot and into the gutter, despite the kind of slime and slander that Kos regularly featured on his front page and the sewer that passed for a comments section at his blog. When Kerry was done doing that, he went out and raised more money and more votes than any Democratic candidate in history, despite being the victim of the most slimy, slanderous national campaign the Republicans have ever waged.

While some carp that Kerry won't appear before the Democratic Policy Committee for a round of neo-Maoist self criticism, Kerry is talking about the lessons learned, principally that in order to "change the current political dynamic'" we need to "go out to the grass roots." Got a problem with that, Kos? I suppose so, since it was the grass roots, the Democratic primary and caucus electorate in state after state after state, that thoroughly rejected your champion. And while we're at it, you got a cite for Kerry calling himself an outsider, or are you just lying about John Kerry again?

I don't know if John Kerry will be the 2008 nominee, but it's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility. So, what's the best use of our time? To see how badly we can disable his efforts even before the campaign is engaged, or to get behind his efforts to help Howard Dean rebuild the Democratic Party by raising money for Hilary Clinton's Senate re-election, making contributions to the Washington State Democrat's Governors Defense Fund, promoting a dynamic and progressive social agenda and speaking out aggressively against some of the worst of Bush's appointees to judicial and foreign policy posts?

It's too early to know for sure where I'll be in the 2008 primaries, although I haven't seen any names floated that are more progressive and capable than John Kerry. Still, it's a long way off, and there's no way to know who, including Kerry, will actually run, so I'm not about to make an endorsement, or to rule anyone out. I do know which direction I'm going take in the meantime. John Kerry's doing important work, pushing a solid agenda, and I'm going to push with him.

Silver lining?

Well, maybe
But across the Pentagon, officials acknowledge that the twin tasks of building Iraqi security forces and defeating the insurgency stand in the way of Mr. Rumsfeld's longstanding ambitions to fundamentally transform the nation's military into something leaner, more agile and thoroughly modern. Success in Iraq would allow troop withdrawals to begin, relieving strains on budgets and personnel.
It's not that the US military doesn't have a need to restructure and reform, but the Rumsfeld approach, which radically devalues the role of ground soldiers, emphasizes privatization of essential support functions and overstates the value of high tech weapons systems isn't the way to do it. I think the inability of the Rumsfeld DoD to deploy an adequate force in a nickel and dime war like Iraq, both in terms of troop strength and material support, provides more than enough evidence of that.

Of course, Rummy's working the system for the long term, whether he hangs around or not.
Mr. Rumsfeld works hard to leave his imprint on the bureaucracy, spending up to 10 hours a week on senior officer and civilian appointments. He has seeded like-minded protégés throughout the military's senior ranks to ensure that his priorities outlast him. He routinely reaches down to interview one-star and two-star officers for important jobs, a practice that some officers deride as a politically motivated "Rumsfeld sniff test."
In other words, whether he lasts three more months or three more years, Rumsfeld's determined to leave behind a generation of General officers whose positions and promotions have been predicated on their devotion to a particular ideological approach to defense planning, saddling future administrations with his philosophical clones. Challenge him and you can find a 20 or 30 year career, no matter how exemplary, at an abrupt dead end.

Damn, I hate what they've done to my Army…and my dad and brother's Marine Corps…and my buddy's Navy…

Hell, to the whole damn country.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

From the 'Good Question' file…

One from Think Progress...

Let’s not fool ourselves: the House ethics process is dysfunctional in the case of congressional leaders precisely because of the inevitable financial conflict of interests. That’s why former speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and former speaker Jim Wright (D-WA) were subject to independent investigations when they had ethics problems. Why should Tom DeLay be any different?

And again...

...Bushco's back in the headlines with an ugly story, proving, I suppose, that they can't buy all the journalists all the time. They can try, though, and everytime they do the

gets a little longer...
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Agriculture Department paid a freelance writer for stories in hunting and fishing magazines where he promoted the agency's conservation efforts.

The writer, Dave Smith, later was hired by the department. He is now a biologist for the department's Natural Resources Conservation Service in Missoula, Mont.
Hmmm. Maybe David Sirota needs to tell Gov. Schweitzer about this guy. And the plot thickens...
Three of Smith's stories ran in the magazines Outdoor Oklahoma and Washington-Oregon Game & Fish. The Oklahoma publication, published by the state's Wildlife Conservation Department, identified Smith as a freelance outdoor writer and biologist working for conservation service.
So, the feds hire a 'journalist' to write as a ringer for one state government before going to work for another one. What do these Republicans have against the private sector, anyway?

Agriculture Department spokesman Ed Loyd's response?
"We don't think that paying journalists to promote government programs is a proper use of funds."
Or, at least, not anymore. Sounds like a classic case of closing the gate after the critters have eaten the crops…

(by the way, I know I'm woefully behind on the Scandal Scorecard '05 home page. Hope to have it all caught up by the weekend. Hang in there with me.)

So, what's that mean, exactly?

It's one thing to throw around numbers, like Dave Reichert's 95% + support for DeLay's destructionist agenda. It's another thing to look at just what that means for Americans, and particularly those in Reichert's 8th District, or his old comrades in the King County Sherrif's Department. How bad is it? A flash email from the DCCC offers a striking example...
The Facts:

Crime on the rise in Reichert's congressional district:
Newly released crime statistics for 2004 show a 6.5 percent overall crime increase in unincorporated King County, and crime in suburban cities like Auburn and Bellevue is up nearly twice as much.  ["Crime rate on the rise in Auburn, Bellevue," King County Journal, 5/11/05

As sheriff, Reichert relied on the COPS program: In his tenure as sheriff, Reichert tapped the COPS program for more than $15 million, allowing him to bolster his department with 142 new officers and shift detectives to the Ridgway investigation... "the 142 positions we gained absolutely yielded results," Reichert said. ["Differing priorities create a conflicted Reichert," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 7/6/04]

Today, Reichert votes to eliminate the COPS program: [H Res 268, Roll Call #164, 5/11/05]
So, for a lousy ten grand in ARMPAC dollars, Dave Reichert has compromised the safety of his constituents and the men and women who once counted on him as their leader.

Goes to show - the only good Republican politician is a retired Republican politician…

The good, the bad, the bought...

The Public Campaign Action Fund has compiled a list of House members ranked by their relationship to Tom DeLay, using a variety of criteria, including the cash they've received from ARMPAC, the amount they've contributed to the DeLay Defense Fund and the degree to which their voting records match up with the Bugman's.

One particularly handy feature is the ability to search by state, so I took a quick peak at the Washington state delegation, fully expecting to find Doc Hastings at the top of the local list. After all, Doc's compiled the kind of doctrinaire voting record you'd expect from the Congressman from the state's most conservative district (a 96.84% match with DeLay), has banked $5390 from ARMPAC and was installed as the House Ethics Committee Chair in order to oversee the Committee's decline into irrelevancy.

Well surprise, surprise!

Doc actually has a relatively middling ranking of 173 overall, and number three in the state on the PCAF's 'Delay's Pocket' list, just behind the 5th District's Cathy McMorris (who took a little less cash from DeLay than Doc, but votes with him a little more often, winning the #171 spot on the list. Sounds like she sold out cheap to me…)

So who's the local champ?

None other than freshman Rep. Dave Reichert. Reichert, who likes to pose as a fairly moderate, thoughtful kind of guy, someone in tune with the changing ideological makeup of his suburban district (while 8th District voters have consistently elected Republicans to the US House, Democratic candidate candidates for President, Governor, Senator and a variety of local offices have found considerable success there). His 95.24% record of supporting DeLay's destructionist agenda belies any such moderation, though, and the $10,000 in ARMPAC money that purchased such a loyal soldier in the battle to eviscerate Constitutional government lifted Reichert all the way to a #73 ranking.

The lowest ranking (and therefore the best of the bunch)? I'm happy to say that it's my very own personal Congresscritter, Jim McDermott, who comes in at #414. Jim has somehow found himself allied with DeLay 6.25% of the time, but just as a stopped clock is right twice a day, I suppose even Tom Delay has a halfway decent idea about six times in a hundred.

Jim's good (great, even). Hastings and McMorris are bad.

Reichert? Ugly.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

On the other hand…

…it good to see Chairman Dean sharing lessons learned from his '04 primary campaign...
...DNC Chairman Howard Dean "warned Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates to avoid a 'scorched earth' primary that could destroy the party's chances of regaining the state's top office for the first time in 16 years," the Boston Globe reports.

Said Dean: "I don't like to lecture states, but if you run a scorched earth campaign, the nomination won't be worth anything."
...though some of us tried to tell him that at the time...

Hat tip to Political Wire

Yeah, I know…

…there's a critical Congressional election between now and the next Presidential election, and that's where our main focus belongs…unless, of course, you want to run for President. Although he makes some of the boilerplate 'it's too early to talk about it' noises that makes me wonder if he knows how good his point is, Eli Pariser makes a very good point in a Salon interview with Tim Grieve…
When I woke up on Nov. 3, the feeling that I had was that while it was a real blow, it was also a moment of extraordinary opportunity to get some of the things right that the campaign showed were wrong. One of those things is that Kerry not only had to cobble together a presidential campaign but actually make the ideas for that campaign, all in the space of the six months leading up to the election.

All while under attack from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Exactly -- while responding to the president's punishing assault. I think he may have done the best job he could given what he had to start with. The opportunity we have now is to recognize that there's an infrastructure that needs to be built, a movement that needs to be fed and nourished and tended to that will ensure that whoever is the candidate in 2008 or 2012 doesn't end up in that same predicament.
People who are complaining about John Kerry's reluctance to dwell on the last campaign in favor of building for the next one by maintaining his fundraising network, issuing calls to action to his email list, distributing his surplus dollars in key locales (and big thanks to the Senator for the quarter million he dropped into the WA State Democrats' Governor's Defense Fund) and issuing a series of bold domestic initiatives for Democrats to identify with should keep in mind that most of those efforts will ultimately accrue to the eventual 2008 nominee, whether it's John Kerry or not.

And those folks who say in May of 2005 that John Kerry can't win the 2008 nomination? What do you suppose most of them were saying in December, 2003.

No matter who you like for '08, this is a good time to hold your fire and let Kerry help build the Party. We can fight it out later…

Monday, May 09, 2005

Nobody likes a whiner…

…but sometimes a disagreement is just that, and sometimes a complaint is warranted. David Sirota makes a number of good points while discussing a Roll Call article that he describes as claiming that…
"...these "moderates" are still whining simply because a few weeks ago Pelosi had the guts to tell the truth and level with Democrats who sold out the party by supporting the credit card-industry written bankruptcy bill.
...but I think this is a story probably best left alone.

I can't really comment much on the nature or validity of those complaints. Roll Call's just a bit too pricy for those of us without think tank connections, and Sirota's excerpts don't say exactly who those "moderates" are (though it isn't that hard to connect some of the dots) or what the tone and substance of their reported complaints might be. His claim that they have "sold out the party" may be taken at face value by some who find themselves in constituencies that actually were sold out, but it's a debatable contention itself.

Similarly debatable , I think, is this...
In other words, all she did was tell the truth and try to keep her party together - exactly what a LEADER is elected to do.
In ideal circumstances, I suppose, it is part of a leader's job to "keep her party together," but those circumstances don't exist until she brings her party together. Sirota has a complaint himself, that these unnamed "moderates" are...
...sending the embarrassing message to America that Democrats are divided on even the most fundamental economic issues.
Well, there ya go. Like it or not, Democrats are divided on, among other things, some fundamental economic issues. On the issues Sirota highlights, there's a minority faction in the Democratic Caucus with positions that are out of step with the progressive wing of the Party, but that minority is significant enough to make the divisions in our party real. I disagree with the "moderate" minority among Congressional D's, but were I in a position of leadership, I'd think hard before I discounted them, or engaged in public rebuke.

20% of the Caucus voted for the permanent repeal of the inheritance tax and the Buscho energy bill. That's not insignificant. 25% voted for class action 'reform,' and fully 36% voted for bankruptcy 'reform.' Those are real divisions, demonstrating that there is, in fact, no partisan concensus on those issues. Pelosi's job (and I think she's fully equal to the challenge) is to find a way to bring those Democrats to agreement with the Caucus majority. There are any number ways to do so. Public chastisement is probably the least effective among them.

I don't know that Pelosi crossed the line in her conversations with wayward D's. I don't know the degree to which those who suffered her presumed wrath are actually dismayed. All the information available seems to be second hand and dubiously sourced. Tolerance for division is a venerable part of our Party's character, but it was a lot easier to tolerate in the days of substantial Democratic majorities. That's just one of the way in which Nancy Pelosi faces a far more arduous task than many of her predecessors. There's simply no reason to make it harder by holding her responsible for enforcing a non-existent unity on some issues.

Of course, her real job is to lead us back to a House Majority. Speaker Pelosi will have tools for uniting the Party that are sadly unavailable to Leader Pelosi. In the meantime, calling for the heads of 25-35% of the Caucus membership while placing an unrealistically high expectation of performance on the Leader by assigning her a job description that ignores our very real internal divisions simply doesn't help at all.

A Democratic majority will heal a multitude of ills.

Eyes on the prize.

Been there…do that again?

Matt Yglesias joins Joe Klein in the "enough is enough" column...
On a purely tactical level, I think Senator Clinton is disastrous. As Peter Beinart writes, she's always been a centrist sort. But as Tim Graham makes clear, she'll never get any credit for it from anyone. As with Howard Dean this business of being a lot more moderate than your public image and reputation would suggest is an absolutely terrible situation to be in. We should be looking for the reverse.
Hmmm. The reverse. Like, maybe a solidly progressive Senator who's been attacked as Bush-lite by sundry insurgents on the left…wait a minute...

Dean's Dilemma

Steve Soto sees the DNC falling short - very short - of the RNC's fundraising totals since Howard Dean's ascension to DNC Chair and wonders...
Here's my question for the evening: why shouldn't Howard Dean outline some basic principles that the party stands for irrespective of individual votes that Hill Democrats have to take, and appeal to the base using those basic principles and a 50-state strategy that challenges the GOP in their own red state backyard?
The obvious answer reinforces a point made repeatedly during the DNC campaigns earlier this year. Dean doesn't - and shouldn't - offer such an outline because it's not his job. The outline of 'basic principles the party stands for' is called the Platform of the Democratic Party, and it's Howard Dean's job, or at least part of his job, to promote it, not to define or create it.

Of course, that's problematic, because the Platform is the creation of delegates to the National Convention, and tends to reflect the views and goals of the Presidential nominee, who has a large roll in the composition and activities of the Platform Committee and enough votes on the floor to control the outcome of debates. That, of course, presents a particular problem for Chairman Dean, who, as Candidate Dean, spent much of 2003 and part of 2004 belittling many of John Kerry's ideas, ideas that became incorporated into the Democratic Platform.

There's an easy out for him, of course. When the Presidential campaign is unsuccessful, the role of the Platform is diminished accordingly, and the Congressional leadership of the Party takes a more prominent role in defining the policies that will best express our principles. Dean recognized this early on, and ceded policy questions to Reid, Pelosi & co. It was a smart move, and an appropriate one. After all, Howard Dean's own formulation of Democratic Party principles had been decisively rejected by the rank and file Democratic electorate in primary after primary, caucus after caucus.

The Chair of the DNC is not empowered to override the work of the Convention, nor to direct the agenda of Congress. Maybe he or she should be, maybe he or she will be in the future. My own belief is that he or she shouldn't, and won't, but there's a contrary case to be made. The place to make it is at the next Democratic National Convention.

Anybody think there's a potential nominee likely to support such a move? Not likely. Meanwhile, Howard Dean, who built a reputation (deserved or not) as an insurgent unafraid to speak his mind on his own set of strongly held opinions finds himself in the grip of the Party establishment, tasked to measure his words so that they reflect well on the ideas of others.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

A necessary first step...

...in the campaign to secure equal rights for gay and lesbian Washingtonians has damn little to do with enlisting more corporate support and a lot to do with the composition of the State Senate. In fact, amid all the brouhaha about Microsoft's off again, on again support for equal rights legislation in Washington State, not really a surprising development to those familiar with the company's traditional political ineptitude, it seems to have escaped notice that the Microsoft position on the legislation seems to have had exactly no effect on its failure to pass for the umpteenth time. Nor did their previous support give the bill a legislative majority. And regardless of where they're at on it next session, they likely won't have any particular impact then.

We were simply short of the votes we needed in the Washington State Senate, because the Democratic majority simply isn't big enough to withstand impact of conservative Democrats like Senator Jim Hargrove, or of fraudulent Democrats like Tim Sheldon, who is a Democrat only by virtue of stealing our Party's ballot line in some of the elections he runs in.

That's why the most encouraging development for the passage of equal rights legislation in Washington isn't Microsoft's red-faced return to the fold, but the State Party's apparent new resolve to defend our ballot line against Tim Sheldon. The Stranger reports that...
Motivated by the fact that Sheldon regularly voted with the Republicans last session (no on stronger car-emission standards, no on stem-cell research, no on anti-discrimination laws to protect gays), State Democratic Party Chair Paul Berendt has now decided to make the complaint against Sheldon--which could remove Sheldon from office--a priority.

"This is a front-burner issue," Berendt says. The complaint, filed by Seattle Democratic busybody David Coffman last week, isn't about Sheldon's votes; instead, it protests that Sheldon--who was elected to the Mason County Commission in 2004--is violating state rules by holding two elected offices at once.
That's right, in addition to his State Senate seat, Sheldon's also a County Commissioner. When he ran for the County office, which is partisan, though, it wasn't as a Democrat, but as an independent.

Runs independent. Votes Republican. Some Democrat.

Earlier this year I noted that Democrats in Olympia ought to shun Sheldon because he broke with the Caucus on sustaining the legal election of Governor Gregoire. That, I felt, was the equivalent of voting for Republican leadership in the Senate - an unforgivable breach of partisan obligation. My own views on mandatory Party loyalty are pretty forgiving, but that one seemed to cross a pretty broad and bright line.

Failing his removal for violating the law which seeks to avoid conflicts of interest by forbidding multiple offices, every available resource should be made available to recruit, finance and elect a Democratic candidate over Sheldon in his next primary. It's not unlikely that the kind of Democrat that will be needed will be unsatisfactory to many of the Seattle liberals who provide the State Party with a lot of its financial punch. Mason County ain't Capitol Hill. I'm not even sure we can get a vote for G/L/B/T rights out of there. Doesn't matter. Chairman Berendt deserves full support in his efforts to put a Democrat - any Democrat - in that seat.

I can't - I won't allow myself to - imagine that we can do worse than Tim Sheldon.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

...and by the way...

This popped up in my NYT feed at Bloglines.
Also today, a late morning bombing in Baghdad killed at least 22 people, including two people the Iraqi police identified as Americans, and wounded dozens.
"Also today…"


What the heck...

...it's Saturday. Let's play...

Random Ten

Born To Lose - The Heartbreakers
Whole Lotta Shakin' - Jerry Lee Lewis
One Toke Over The Line - Brewer & Shipley
Thing Called Love - Bonnie Raitt
Bluebird - Buffalo Springfield
Same Stone - John Prine
Hot Rod Lincoln - Commander Cody
Superfly - Curtis Mayfield
In My Hands - Natalie MacMaster
Jukebox - Ani DiFranco

A vintage list, mostly, but I'm mostly a vintage lister...

Democracy on the march…

Iraqi troops, many of them veterans left jobless when Saddam's regiments were dissolved but later rehired by the new army, badly lack equipment including ammunition, body armor, helmets, weapons, uniforms and radios, soldiers say.

Several of the troops in training wore tennis shoes. None had helmets. Few had the same uniforms and equipment.


Troops did not have bolt cutters or shovels and used discarded iron bars and rusty axes to smash open doors and gates.
…in sneakers. With axes.

Why don't I feel better?

Friday, May 06, 2005

And proud of it...

I am:
"The Marxists are too reactionary for you. With people like you around, America collectively thanks God for John Ashcroft."

Are You A Republican?

Give 'em Hell, Harry!

"The man's father is a wonderful human being. I think this guy is a loser. I think President Bush is doing a bad job."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid
I think he's right...at least about "this guy"...

Hat tip to Political Wire.

I know, I know...

...'black lump on couch,' 'black lump on chair,' 'black lump on carpet,' doesn't make for very interesting cat blogging. This week, though, a special treat! A warm spot on the concrete inspired the Lovely and Talented Miss Audrey Hepcat to favor us with a rendition of her famous 'dead cat' impression...

Amazing, isn't it?

No surprise, really…

…that the slimy tentacles of Jack Abramoff's lobbying shop extended well beyond the Bugman and his buddies...
AP: In President Bush's first 10 months, GOP fundraiser Jack Abramoff and his lobbying team logged nearly 200 contacts with the new administration as they pressed for friendly hires at federal agencies and sought to keep the Northern Mariana Islands exempt from the minimum wage and other laws, records show.
Actually, it's probably not that notable for a major DC lobbying firm to have that many contacts with a new, and presumably friendly, administration. Not normally. Abramoff, though, has demonstrated an extraordinary, if not singular, disregard for legality, let alone ethics. In that light, more information about the nature and outcome of some of those contacts might be very interesting...

Democracy on the…

…err, crawl...
WASHINGTON (AP) - The legacy of Saddam Hussein could take years to overcome, John Negroponte, former U.S. ambassador and the new national intelligence director, said Thursday in urging patience in looking for democracy to emerge in Iraq.
But what about the purple fingers?

Thursday, May 05, 2005



The Colonel could occasionally be as infuriating as he was frequently entlightening, but through it all he was the best friend the American grunt ever had, before, during and long after battle.

...and maybe now they can take care of this...
Within 10 weeks, the fiery young combat leader had so transformed the 4/39 that it was routing main force enemy units. He led from the front, at one point getting out on the strut of a helicopter, landing on top of an enemy position and hauling to safety the point elements of a company pinned down and facing certain death. Thirty years later, the grateful enlisted men and young officers of the 4/39, now grown old, are still urging the Pentagon to award him the Medal of Honor for this action. So far, the Army has refused.
It's the Congressional medal, isn't it?

Write your Congressperson.

One of my favorite internet time sinks…

…err, valued sources of brilliant writing and accurate information has become David Sirota's personal blog. He's damn near become the King Of All Lefty Media, a favorite on the Franken show, a book deal, In These Times, American Prospect, Washington Monthly, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Well, he deserves it. As evidence, I offer his take today on the latest Bushco attempt to strongarm organized labor. The Department of Labor, prompted by a GOP Congressional inquiry, issued a thinly veiled threat, suggesting that union pension managers could be violating their fiduciary responsibilities by investing their funds in accord and communicating their displeasure with the Republican - well, it's not really a plan, is it - their displeasure, then, with the Administration's relentless musing about destroying Social Security.

Sirota points to the typical big lie at the heart of the Bushco case...
Here's the thing with Bush's argument: the union has a fiduciary duty to make sure workers get the best return on their investments, and more broadly, the most generous overall pension benefits possible. Those overall pension benefits, however, inherently include Social Security because a workers' overall retirement pension is the mix of both their private pension, and Social Security. Thus, the AFL-CIO is perfectly justified in using workers' pensions to advocate for the policies that will best shore up Social Security for the long-term, and oppose those that will destroy the system. If, as Bush wants, the union continued to blindly invest worker pension money in Wall Street firms that were actively working to destroy Social Security, the union would be doing a financial disservice to the workers it is supposed to protect. In other words, the union would likely be violating its fiduciary duty if it DIDN'T do everything it could to oppose Bush's plan and try to make sure Social Security was preserved for the long-haul.
It helps that the unions simply haven't done anything wrong...
Bill Patterson, head of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s campaign over investment companies, said the government's warning would have little impact on his efforts.

"We operate comfortably within the principles laid out by the Department of Labor, and we're going to keep on doing what we've been doing," he said.
Kudos to Patterson and the AFL-CIO for standing strong, and a hat tip to David Sirota for the valuable perspective.

Caution: Parental Guidance Required

I don't talk much about the fundie encroachments into the public schools under the guise of Intelligent Design. Maybe that's because the thinking behind ID is, in many ways, similar to my own thinking about things supernatural.

I believe in God, in no small part, because it's a handy way to account for the sensations I get when faced with the astonishing nature of the physical world. I can't know if universe was created by design, but I sure feel like it was.

My feelings, though, are one lousy basis for a science curriculum, though, and that's where I part ways with the Intelligent Design enthusiasts in public education. It's not science, it's theology. It's not a theology that I profoundly disagree with, as such, but it's also not one I want the government spending scarce education resources to promulgate. Scientology has 'science' right there in its name, but we don't teach it in psych classes.

Jesse Taylor does cover the ID beat regularly, and has some great stuff up today...
In Kansas, students are being armed with "Ten Questions To Ask Your Biology Teacher About Design". It's a brilliant tactic - give kids who don't know enough about evolution to understand the answers questions challenging it. Particularly when evolution, which will likely give refined scientific answers to the questions, is up against "logic" that seems straight out of a self-help manual?
Jesse handily dismisses the "questions," and the answers provided by the creation 'scientists' who argue for ID, but the average middle or high school biology student isn't likely to approach them with Jesse's sophistication. This is serious stuff, the attempt to dislodge science in favor of theological indoctrination in the schools.

Happily, all the offspring of Upper Left successfully survived their public school years without undue fundie influence, but some kids today aren't so lucky. If you've still got kids in school, make sure you know what they're being taught, and what's being aimed at them by the other side.

And if they come after the Absolutely Adorable Grandaughter of Upper Left (have I mentioned that she's the smartest and prettiest girl in the whole world), no mercy.

Pardon me while I wipe the screen.

Jeanne D'Arc makes me laugh out loud…
Now let's be fair. This wasn't just The War To Paint All Schools
Apologies in advance, Jeanne. I'll be stealing that one...

Here he comes to save the day…

That mean's the Carpetbagger's on the way! Responding to Joshua Green's misbegotten attack on the Democratic leadership in the Atlantic, Steve Benen writes...
In the seven months since the election, the Dems’ standing has improved greatly, in part because of the leadership offered by Reid and Pelosi. The party is united, fundraising is strong, and the polls are showing increasing receptiveness to the Dems’ message about the flaws in the Republican agenda.

In the House, Pelosi has helped lead a sometimes-bickering caucus to victories over the GOP over “ethics reform,” while quietly stoking the fires of scandal surrounding her counterpart (Tom DeLay). In the Senate, Reid has run circles around his GOP counterpart (Bill Frist) on everything from Social Security to judicial nominations, while keeping disparate factions together on nearly all of the big issues. Moreover, both have made institutional changes behind the scenes — staffing moves, establishing “war rooms,” creating party initiatives to reach out to traditional GOP constituencies — that will help the party for years to come.

How, exactly, have things “not gotten better”?
…and I heartily concur. Pelosi and Reid have a nearly impossible task, really. In such circumstances a minor amendment here, a tweaked clause there, would be signs of real success in the face of a relentlessly hostile and increasingly radicalized majority. Our leaders, though, have stepped up to the challenge presented, fought back on some big issues and scored some real wins.

I'm pretty much in the 'we need a program to win an election' camp, but if simple opposition were enough, Reid, Pelosi and their teams and caucuses are doing a better job than I would have bet on.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Decisions, decisions...

I struggled a bit over whether this one deserved notice as the Scandal Scorecard point of the week. While it's sometimes disappointing to have to settle for something that merely 'demands investigation,' and a big juicy actual indictment is always a tempting, and usually an irresistable, target, I had some doubts about laying the Larry Franklin case at the feet of Bushco.

After all, Franklin's a career guy, who made the transition from Carter to Reagan, from Reagan to Bush I, from Bush I to Carter, decades of federal service. Still, it wasn't until Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith set up shop at DoD that Franklin's career took such a sharp wrong turn. You have to wonder, don't you, about the climate change that inspired this career defense analyst, a senior officer in the Air Force Reserve, after a lifetime devoted to the security interests of the United States, to deliberately compromise that very security.

Steve at Distance really tipped the decision. He's been following the story since it broke last summer, and offers links to his findings along the way. Steve's hardly given to wild speculation or conspiracy theory, so when he seems to find a pretty strong line from Franklin to a wider investigation that could draw in Wolfie and Feith, I pay attention, and the Larry Franklin bust makes the

What if you knew her...

...and found her dead on the ground?

Update: Don't miss the story behind the Heretik's comment.

Powerful stuff. Thanks for the link.

It's sure nice...

...to win one once in awhile…

Via Think Progress.
American Airlines, Verizon and Nissan Pledge to Stop Financing Tom DeLay’s Legal Defense Fund

Move Comes In Response to American Progress Action Fund’s “Drop the Hammer” Campaign

Under pressure from nearly 20,000 citizen activists, American Airlines, Verizon and Nissan North America have formally pledged to stop contributing to Rep. Tom DeLay’s legal defense fund. For four weeks, individuals have sent nearly 150,000 e-mails to the three companies demanding action through DropTheHammer.org, a website created by the American Progress Action Fund. John Podesta, President of the American Progress Action Fund, said, “We congratulate these companies for responding to the public’s concern and taking a positive step towards restoring confidence in an ethical government.”
DropTheHammer.org's still running strong. Check 'em out.

George Bush and the Washington Republicans…

…out of touch.
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush said Wednesday that private investment accounts created from Social Security payroll taxes is an idea whose time has come...
Really? Come to whom, exactly? Maybe the handful that don't know there's no crisis, but...
...despite the president's efforts to rally support for his Social Security plan, seven in ten Americans say they're uneasy about his approach to the issue...