Monday, February 28, 2005


Via The Stakeholder, I see Pelosi and Waxman have a report on the politicized of the Social Security Administration.

* "The Future of Social Security" booklet - which used to begin: "Will Social Security be there for you? Absolutely" - now begins: "Social Security must change."

* Agency press releases on the solvency of Social Security have grown more dire even as the projections of the program's long-term solvency have improved.

* Agency presentations have eliminated statements that assure beneficiaries that "there is no immediate financial crisis."

* The annual Social Security statement sent to Americans has dropped the assurance that Social Security will "be there when you retire" and no longer encourages Americans to think of Social Security as a "foundation on which to build your financial future."

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Hollywood Does Hate America

At tonight's Oscars(er tm) they had that part where they remember the dead former actors. And I think the loudest applause was for the guy who sold missiles to Iranian terrorists.

What we do to our allies

I'm not going to get into the specifics of if it's a good idea to spray poppy fields in Afghanistan. The ill effects are pretty stark.

Although farmers had noticed a white powder on their crops, they cut grass and clover for their animals and picked spinach to eat anyway. Within hours the animals were severely ill, people here said, and the villagers complained of fevers, skin rashes and bloody diarrhea. The children were particularly affected. A week later, the crops - wheat, vegetables and poppies - were dying, and a dozen dead animals, including newborn lambs, lay tossed in a heap.
But don't we owe it to our supposed allies to at least, um, tell them what we're doing in their country?

At that time, President Hamid Karzai publicly condemned the spraying. Though it was never clear who was responsible, members of his staff said they suspected the United States or Britain, which together have been leading the struggle to rein in Afghan poppy cultivation, which has reached record levels. Both countries finance outside security firms to train Afghan counternarcotics forces.

President Karzai said his government was not spraying fields and had no knowledge of such activity, and he called in the American and British ambassadors for an explanation. Then, as now, the American and British Embassies denied any involvement.
But remember, we control the sky. People saw the planes in the sky. They saw chemicals on the crops. Who else could do anything like this?

Friday, February 25, 2005

Two Year Moratorium

I'm with Tough Enough. We're way too far out to be polling on presidential politics at this point. Lets just give that a rest while we focus on taking back the House and Senate. Then we can go crazy tearing each other's hair out over the presidency.

Hannidate 2005

I kid you not.

Via Think Progress. It seems Sean Hannity has opened his big warm website to all conservative lonelyhearts. Check out Hannidate 2005, and you may meet your ultimate neocon love match.

Interestingly, Think Progress felt the need to add a disclaimer:
    Love, Hannity Style
    [Ed. Note: To clear up any confusion, this is not a parody. These are actual profiles clipped from Hannity’s website.]

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Containing Bush

Sid Blumenthal makes the case that Europe is using this trip to push Bush into a corner on Iran.

Of course, Bush has already contained himself, or at least his preemption doctrine, which seems to have been good for one-time use only. None of the allies is willing to repeat the experience. Even if he wants to, Bush can't manage another such military show because the U.S. Army, pinned down in Iraq, is unavailable. The immediate problem of Iran, in any case, is in many ways the opposite of Iraq. (Iraq is also not the ideologue's Iraq now.) The Europeans have committed their credibility to negotiations, the Iranians have the diplomatic means to preclude unilateral U.S. action, and Bush, who, according to high-level European officials, has no actual policy or sense of what to do, is boxed in whether he understands it or not.

Boston parking

Hosted by

Via Boston Online, and titled Best Use of Crap to Save a Boston Parking Space.  I think this might be a uniquely Boston custom, but please enlighten me if I'm wrong.

Mitt Happens

I’ve been bothering you with tales of our less-than-esteemed Massachusetts governor because, faced with a choice of running for re-election or for president in 2008, Mittens seems to be leaning towards the latter. Which makes him a potentially national figure. I consider it part of my mission to torpedo his hopes.

His re-election prospects are pretty grim, largely because he’s spent a large part of his first term traveling around the country campaigning for the Shrub. We Bay Staters always reserve the right to criticize our own, but Mitt’s constant sniping at Kerry has sunk him here. Not to mention what his pretzel-like positioning on stem cell research and gay marriage have done.

Any post written by Pookastew on the Boston-based is well worth your time. This one concerns itself with Mitt Romney and - ooooooh - big bad gay marriage.
    ...Governor Romney weighed in on the gay marriage issue, suggesting that civil liberties guaranteed under the state constitution should instead go up for a popular vote.

    Now, having amassed a war chest worthy of a 2008 presidential candidate, the governor has decided to give interviews in the national press opposing stem cell research.

    All of which leads us to wonder: what ever happened to that "rolodex" Mr. Romney claimed he'd use to bring jobs to Massachusetts?

    You remember Massachusetts, don't you? The place with all the biotech companies and universities staffed by people who vacation in Provincetown?
Provincetown = town at the very furthermost tip of Cape Cod, known for its great atmosphere and large number of gay residents. See what I mean? You don't want to hire this man.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The counterculture

This morning I woke up to a magnificent Marc Maron rant inspired by this lazy and vicious Weekly Standard article by Stephen Schwartz, titled The End of the Counter-Culture: Hunter S. Thompson, 1939 - 2005.

First of all, the word is counterculture. No hyphen. I googled it to be sure, and in doing so came across a beautiful and evocative website under the umbrella of the Smithsonian, full of Lisa Law photos from the late sixties and early seventies documenting life in the counterculture. That is to say, the counterculture as it actually existed in the real world rather than the form it is twisted into in Schwartz's mind.

Stephen Schwartz:
    "Counter" it was, as an expression of defiance toward everything normal and reliable in society. "Culture" it was not, any more than Thompson's incoherent scribblings constituted, as they were so often indulgently described, a form of journalism.
Morning Sedition:
    In addition to calling Thompson "indulgent" and "overrated," Schwartz was more than happy to proclaim "the end of the counter-culture." Why does the right have so much contempt for the pursuit of cultural growth and individualism? In our eyes, the right is more appropriately "the counter culture." They are "counter" to everything that encourages personal advancement and social progress outside of narrowly constructed moral norms. So, it naturally behooves them to strike down any vaunted member of the anti-establishment and deride unconventional thought as juvenile rabble rousing.

    Do not let them take away your icons. Do not forget your influences, the people and things that make you feel unique. Do not let physical death equal the death of independent spirit.
Oh, and P.S.:

Stephen Schwartz:
    Thompson had much in common with Burroughs and Ginsberg. First, their products were mainly noise. Their books were reissued but now sit inertly on bookstore shelves, incapable of inspiring younger readers, or even nostalgic baby boomers, to purchase them.
Real Life: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson is currently number 19 on the Amazon best sellers list.

Liberal Agenda 2-23

When someone calls Bush's European trip a "charm offensive" say, "well, you're half right." - Morning Sedition

And now a word from the Upper...umm...right?

I'd like to take this opportunity to give you upper lefters an update on the Mitt "Empty Suit" Romney situation and introduce you to some of the best Boston bloggers.

First is The Chimes at Midnight, which is no fan of the gov. Please do not miss this post if you're interested in the unvarnished truth on how Mittens is looking these days to the large majority of denizens of the Commonwealth.
    Under the “other skills” section of his resume, do you suppose Mitt Romney lists “brazen toady”?

    His speech to the Spartanburg County SC GOP was incomparably worse than anyone could imagine, full of groveling and shameless ass-licking of the lowest variety.


    From the looks of his speech monday, Decaf is quite literally running against the Commonwealth itself next year. The Viceroy is always at his best when he is being insufferably haughty and derisive, his hatred of Massachusetts and his compulsive need to brown nose out of state wowsers could not be clearer. Of course, his audience ate it up, indeed there nothing more entertaining for republicans that are drunk on triumphalism to watch a grown man grovel like a well whipped dog.
He sure ain't running for Mr. Popularity these days. At least in Massachusetts. But he's leading the pack in the world class suck-up competition.

Talking About Evolution

I finally agree with a member of the Bush administration. John Marburger is the White House science adviser. He agrees with 48 Nobel laureates. And over 500 scientists named Steve.

Speaking at the annual conference of the National Association of Science Writers, Marburger fielded an audience question about "Intelligent Design" (ID), the latest supposedly scientific alternative to Charles Darwin's theory of descent with modification. The White House's chief scientist stated point blank, "Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory." And that's not all -- as if to ram the point home, Marburger soon continued, "I don't regard Intelligent Design as a scientific topic."
Now if he could only convince his boss.

Assisted Suicide

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Oregon's assisted suicide law. The administration brief makes the case for letting Oregon keep the law better than I could.

The issue, the administration asserts, is "who gets to decide," whether "the attorney general, pursuant to a uniform national standard, or each of the 50 states, according to 50 different views regarding the proper use of controlled substances."

Although the justices have agreed to review the case, the "who gets to decide" argument on the merits may be a hard sell. The court has been notably deferential to the states, and eight years ago, in another assisted-suicide case, it appeared to invite continued state experimentation.

In that earlier case, Washington v. Glucksberg, the court rejected the argument that the Constitution itself gives terminally ill people a right to physician-assisted suicide. But at the same time, the justices were careful to make clear that they were not closing the door. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist concluded his majority opinion with these words: "Throughout the nation, Americans are engaged in an earnest and profound debate about the morality, legality, and practicality of physician-assisted suicide. Our holding permits this debate to continue, as it should in a democratic society."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Santorum Social Security Road Show

Chris Bowers reports from inside a Rick Santorum Social Security forum in Philadelphia today.
    Going into the event I had planned to ask Santorum about the slime attack on the AARP in the hopes it wold get some press coverage, but something he said during the presentation gave me an idea for an even better question. He claimed that some Senate Democrats agreed with Bush's proposal, so I went up and asked him to name names. He backed down and said that none of them support it now because it has become so politicized, which is a very hypocritical comment to make when you are on a campaign tour of your own.
Apart from savoring Santorum's discomfort, it will be very interesting to hear how the rethugs fare on their winter vacation project selling Shrub's Social Security scam without the benefit of *'s pre-screened crowds and pre-filtered questions.


August has his funniest comic since some guy with a website.


We've all seen the ads the Swifties' ad people trying to smear the AARP. Steve Gillard has the reasons why it won't work.

This is of a magnitude level of stupidity that it is simply astounding. Gay marriage? Anti-troops? Are they kidding?

What the cretins at USA Next don't get is that AARP isn't a campaign. They aren't an adhoc organization which comes together and falls apart in 18 months. They are here today, and will be here tomorrow, with a mailing list in the tens of millions. If this becomes about the survival of the organization, this fight could get much nastier than these folks can imagine. By suggesting that the organazation of widows and veterans can be slandered like a man, well, it's a campaign born of arrogance. They aren't called a powerhouse for no reason.
...Steve Soto has a strategy.

Monday, February 21, 2005

"No oil company really cares about ANWR"

Well it's nice to see oil companies taking a back seat on drilling in ANWR. There's probably not that much oil anyway. But if you thought that it would derail the administration from its plans to drill for oil there, you'd be wrong. Emphasis mine.

While Democrats have repeatedly blocked the drilling plan, many legislators believe it has its best chance of passage this year, because of a Republican-led White House and Congress and tighter energy supplies. Though the oil industry is on the sidelines, the president still has plenty of allies. The Alaska Congressional delegation is eager for the revenue and jobs drilling could provide. Other legislators favor exploring the refuge because more promising prospects, like drilling off the coasts of Florida or California, are not politically palatable. And many Republicans hope to claim opening the refuge to exploration as a victory in the long-running conflict between development interests and environmentalists.


A Bush adviser says the major oil companies have a dimmer view of the refuge's prospects than the administration does. "If the government gave them the leases for free they wouldn't take them," said the adviser, who would speak only anonymously because of his position. "No oil company really cares about ANWR," the adviser said, using an acronym for the refuge, pronounced "an-war."


Mr. Hunt, through an aide, declined an interview request. Others who advised Mr. Bush on his energy plan said including the refuge was seen as a political maneuver to open the door to more geologically promising prospects off the coasts of California and Florida. Those areas, where tests have found oil, have been blocked for years by federal moratoriums because of political and environmental concerns.

"If you can't do ANWR," said Matthew R. Simmons, a Houston investment banker for the energy industry and a Bush adviser in 2000, "you'll never be able to drill in the promising areas."
So there you have it. The administration wants to drill in parts of Alaska where there isn't much oil because they think it will help them drill in Florida and California where there is more oil but pesky environmental regulations. Sounds as smart as going after the people responsible for 9/11 in Iraq.

And now...

...for something completely different.

Upper Left Introduces New Anchor Team

OK, it's not Jane and Chevy. It's even better. While the Brilliant and Beautiful Bride of Upper Left and I take off for a few days on the road, a couple of excellent bloggers and longtime friends of Upper Left have offered to pinch hit for me. Diane of and Carl Ballard of Washington State Political Report are familiar voices in the comments here, and I can't wait to see what they do with the front page.

I'll be in and out until Wednesday, when the BBBUL and I take off for the Phoenix area to visit her dad and our granddaughter. I may be able to get online during the trip if I try, but I may not try. I'm confident you're in good hands, and Diane and Carl have the green light to jump in here anytime.

From the 'Early Candidates...

...For Post Of The Year' file.

Rudie on Hunter. Go see.

The Doctor is out...


The mainstream never really got a handle on Hunter Thompson. At the very end, they still couldn't decide something as basic as whether he was born in 1937 or 1939. Or maybe '38. It doesn't matter, really. The date of his birth, like the manner of his death is unimportant. The fact of his death is, really, far less surprising than the fact that he survived as much as he did as long as he did. Everyone will have a Hunter story, and many of them won't be pretty. Some of them won't be true. So what.

The work survives, and in the end, nothing else matters. Hunter Thompson, with I.F. Stone, stands as one of the twin pillars of inspiration for my efforts here. Just as Izzy demonstrated that any every effort could be meaningful, even if no one seemed, at times, to be listening, Hunter showed us that any means was possible, that voice mattered and that real journalism could marry facts and imagination to produce truths otherwise unseen. He showed that every effort could be meaningful, even if, at times, no one seemed to understand.

His work endures. His influence endures. His legend endures. His greatest lesson, that despite our fear, the fight against the bastards we loathe must go on, continues to instruct.

The Doctor may be out, but be assured...

Hunter Lives.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Not quite...

...Quotations from Chairman Howard, but Carla has a nice summary of the Governor's recent debate with Richard Perle in Portland. I think her outline of the key points in Dean's opening statement is worth attention, and sends important signals about the message Dean will focus on as DNC Chair. Carla writes that...
Dean went on to say that he believes the Republicans are failing to take a long term view of defense in three ways:
1. It's weak defense policy to run up the national debt and have the debt held by foreign governments.
2. It's weak defense policy to continue to support policies that give the US energy resources that don't come from stable sources.
3. It's weak defense policy to continually cut the benefits of US veterans.
Economic security. Energy security. Responsibility to those who have served.

Dean has said he would look to Congressional leadership for policy development, and it seems that he's already strongly, if not completely, on message with the Senate Democrats' mantra, Security, Opportunity, Responsibility. I'm sure Dean will speak to the opportunity side of the Senate agenda soon and often.

Now the House D's need to sit him down with a copy of their New Partnership for America's Future for the rest of the story...


I've had a few.

Of all the campaigns I've had a hand in over the years, one of the most disappointing results was Jerry Brown's loss of the 1992 Democratic nomination. I continue to believe that Brown would have won the November contest with a genuinely progressive message that would have made the Party stronger, retained the Congress and...well, let's just say I still wish Jerry Brown had become President.

He's remained visible in a variety of ways over the last decade, the most recent example until now in his role as Mayor of Oakland, Ca. Now he's entered a new arena, with his own blog. It's hardly surprising, really. In fact, if there's a surprise, it's that it took him so long. Brown has always been something of a technophile, from his early proposal for a sattelite-based communications system for California to the 1992 campaign's exploitiation of now common but then innovative things like email and toll free telephone.

At any rate, I'm looking forward to reading the Mayor's thoughts. After all, any Mayor who includes the idea that "the bar scene is coming alive" as exemplary of his success is OK in my book.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

One thing sure... spike my outrage meter is a story about the neglect and abuse of our veterans and troops. Like this...
WASHINGTON — Hundreds of Army Reserve and National Guard troops returning home after being wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone months without pay or medical benefits they were entitled to receive, military officials and government auditors said Thursday.


Lawmakers said they were fielding many calls from wounded Reserve and Guard troops who might have been wrongly denied their benefits. and benefits, according to the agency, the investigative arm of Congress. In one GAO sample of 38 wounded reservists who had trouble getting the Army to recognize them as being entitled to benefits, 24 went weeks or months without pay without pay and benefits, according to the agency, the investigative arm of Congress. They confront a "convoluted and poorly defined process" to obtain benefits, the GAO said.
24 out of 38. Jeebus.

Like SFC John Allen...
Allen, a 14-year Army veteran who serves with the National Guard's 20th Special Forces Group, has a brain injury and other injuries to his legs, back, neck and eyes resulting from a helicopter accident and a grenade blast.

But Allen said it wasn't until he returned home for extended treatment that his "real troubles began."

He had to reapply for coverage every 90 days and was at times denied pay, medical coverage and access to his military base.

After visiting his family in New Jersey for a week after his yearlong combat tour, his leave was cut short and he was ordered back to Ft. Bragg, N.C., because a commander could not find his paperwork.

When his wife went into premature labor in August 2003, she was turned away from a military hospital because his active-duty extension had not yet been approved, Allen said.
While most of the attention goes to the 1477 fatalities, there are a lot of people being overlooked.
The Army's Human Resources Command processed 15,000 disabled Reserve and Guard members in 2004, said Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck, the Army's head of personnel. That's more than at any time since the Vietnam War.
That's disabled, not just wounded. Reservists and Guardsmen, not including active duty. And if the GAO study is typical, it's almost 10,000 that are going weeks or months without pay and benefits. It's a freaking disgrace. Even more disgraceful
......the GAO found that recent changes had not resolved underlying management control problems. In September and October, for example, the Army did not know how many soldiers were on medical extensions or how many had returned to active duty, the study said.
The don't know?

Maybe they just don't care.

After all, George Bush hates veterans.

And he doesn't care about you.


BAGHDAD, Iraq - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Saturday a string of attacks killing more than 50 Iraqis in two days were failed attempts to sow sectarian strife and destabilized the country.
Wow. Great news! There's no sectarian strife or instability in New Iraq®. Can we come home now?

Clinton made her comments after a military briefing to five Senators on junket to Baghdad. She knows everything's fine because Lt. Gen. David Petraeus says so, I guess, because...
The group had not left the Green Zone, home to Iraqi government institutions and the American and British embassies, because of the security situation...
But what about the stability, Senator?

The truth...

...the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Oliver nails it.
...The goal of the modern conservative movement, as embodied by George W. Bush, is not just a simple majority of conservative thought – rather, it is the elimination of everything but conservative thought. In their dream world, a debate over war in Iran would be between differing ideas on whether a standard issue invasion or a tactical nuclear strike would best suffice. Any other sort of rational solution would be relegated to derision in the right-wing media echo chamber.

The only way to get around this is to simply reject them. By reject them, I mean deny them any sort of adult consideration. Cease the boneheaded notion that they may actually "have a point", because at best they're looking for somewhere to stick in the knife...
These days, "proudly partisan" may not be enough. It's time to get fiercly partisan against these viscious bastards.

Frame of the Day...

...via Jeanne D'Arc.

Democrats: The party of gay families.

Republicans: The party of gay pornographers.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The 'Good Question' file...

...expands to include this entry from Nathan Newman...

If Class War Rhetoric is so Bad for Dems, Why Do Republicans Keep Advising Them to Avoid It?

Couldn't be because when we don't talk about the class war, they win the class war, could it?

The damn cat...

...err, I mean, the lovely and talented Miss Audrey Hepcat just won't sit still today, but I think the eyes make this shot, small and fuzzy though it may be, worth rescuing from the bit bucket...

Personal to JC...

...drop me an email, would ya? There's a link in the sidebar.


The stakes in every election...

...from sewer commissioner to POTUS are immeasurably higher than the stakes in any sporting event, but that doesn't mean that sports analogies aren't sometimes useful, and Ezra Klein offers the best one I've seen lately...
We're not going to win by copying the Republican playbook. In football, you spend the week before a game learning the other team's plays. But you don't run them. You learn how to defend against them, and you run the plays you're good at. Because the other team has created a playbook relying on their specific attributes -- their strongest players, their coach's expertise, their linemen's size. If you tried to ape it, you'd simply be running their plays without any of their strengths. You'd lose. And if Democrats keep trying to run Republican plays without building the foundations that made them work, we will lose as well. We've got to make a conscious choice to find our own strengths, create our own image, and utilize attacks that play to our abilities. Otherwise, we're simply codifying Republican tactics as the de facto ground for political warfare, and we might as well give up now.
I encourage you to read the full post, which puts Gannongate in a useful perspective, but the excerpt above is worth repeating...and remembering.

Among the stories...

...that have failed to spike my outrage meter, the whole Gannongate affair is one that seems to have spiked damn near every one elses. As a citizen blogger whose only education for the task is experience, it's hard for me to get excited about Gannon/Guckert's similar lack of journalistic background. As a devoted partisan, I can't really get on him for his similarly devoted partisanship. As someone who has personal objections to neither homosexuality nor prostitution, his previous (?) employment is of little concern to me.

Still, it is the White House press room we're talking about, with all the relevant security considerations, and there is the matter of the classified memos related to the Plame situation, and...

Well, rather than going to far down this path, let me point you to Byron LaMasters at Burnt Orange Report, who has a handy summary of the story to date and a set of questions and conclusions that pretty fairly mirror what I'd write if I wrote more.

Reserving, of course, the right to revise and extend my remarks as developments develop...

Thursday, February 17, 2005

One we can win... we must.

The Stakeholder runs The Hill's roster of the 10 most vulnerable members of the House, and it didn't take Dave Reichert (WA-8) long to make the list. Of course, he'll last long enough to shame himself by supporting the Bushco budget cuts for law enforcement, stabbing his old colleagues in the King County Sherrif's Department in the back in exchange for bucks from his new masters who control the GOP purse strings, but there's just no reason for this guy to last more than one term.

Any Eastsiders out there with hot rumors on potential competition? Will Alben make another run? Will Heidi? Will Paul screw it up again?

Welcome Googlers!

Julia has a lot to say about the Negroponte appointment, but I'm betting the search engines send a lot more traffic her way because she mentioned the existence of big gay jpegs of Jeff Gannon's equipment from underneath. Why anyone would want to see big gay jpegs of Jeff Gannon's equipment from underneath I can't imagine, personally, and you won't find any big gay jpegs of Jeff Gannon's equipment from underneath here at Upper Left, but if what you want is big gay jpegs of Jeff Gannon's equipment from underneath, rest assured they're out there....

I'm going to go check my visitor logs now.

From the March To Democracy department...

Iraq adopts the one man, all votes system...
A close aide to al-Sistani, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the alliance leaders will visit his office in Najaf to get his blessing for their choice for prime minister. If they cannot agree, al-Sistani will decide.
Eat your heart out, Rev. Fallwell.

Another reason...

I heart my Congressman. He made the list.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Bush's back-door budget cuts... this week's entry on the

WASHINGTON (AP) - Health Secretary Mike Leavitt refused Wednesday to name the states he says are cheating taxpayers out of $40 billion in Medicaid funding, even as senators pressed him for details of President Bush's proposal to force states to curb mismanagement.


Bush has proposed squeezing Medicaid in part by forcing the states to find $40 billion over a decade by correcting mismanagement on their end. That would lessen the financial pressure on the federal government.
Now, maybe it's just me, but if there's $4 billion a year being skimmed from Medicaid it seems that not only should names be named, but indictments should be issued. But not by Bushco. The new Inquisitor General is busy with a porn case (not involving a certain former White House correspondent) so there's little time to pursue the fraud that they're asserting in the Medicaid program.

Of course, it would be a tough case to pursue, since they don't know who's doing it, or how, or why. They just know it must be happening, because, well, because they really want to spend a lot less money on health care for the poorest, most vulnerable Americans.

They know one thing for sure, though. It's the other guys...
Leavitt has repeatedly refused to name the offending states, except to say Utah wasn't one of them while he was governor.
So this week's Scorecard entry is a you pick ' the Bush Administration lying to cover up the real motivation behind their $40 billion Medicaid cut, or is the Bush Administration covering up for miscreants who are ripping us off for billions of dollars a year?

Either way, it's a scandal.

Says who?

I was reading an intriguing report about a possible shake up in the DC consulting order in The Hill when I was taken up short by this...
Reid, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and other Democratic leaders recently met with Paul Harstad, the pollster who worked on the campaigns of Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), the lone bright spots of the 2004 election for Senate Democrats.
Obama and Salazar were the "lone bright spots"? There are a few folks in my neighborhood who might beg to differ. The re-election of Patty Murray and the corresponding political retirement of George Nethercutt is considered a 'bright spot' hereabouts. Senate victories in red state outposts like Arkansas and North Dakota seem to offer some illumination. In fact, Democrats won 15 of the 34 US Senate elections last year, and each and every one of those 15 is a bright spot in its own way. Doesn't the re-election of Barbara Boxer brighten your day just a bit, for instance?

It's true enough that we're not where we want to be, not where the country desperately needs us to be, but we shouldn't let our resolve to work harder and win more take away from the celebration of the victories we have accomplished. The mainstream story line would have us believe we're a party in decline. We know better, and we need to say so louder.

The other coalition... remember - the one John Kerry described as the "trumped-up, so-called coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted" - turns out to be, well, a coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted. That's what Linnet at Looking At The Stars found out when she was looking at the news...
The $80 billion war-funding request that President Bush plans to send Congress next week will include $400 million to help nations that have troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Poland, a staunch ally in Iraq, is earmarked to receive one-fourth of the money.

The White House announced the fund, dubbed the "solidarity initiative," after Bush's meeting yesterday with Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski.
No mention of payments to the new coalition....

A quick shout out... pal o' Upper Left Carl Ballard of the Washington State Political Report (a daily read around these parts) whose letter to the editor of the Seattle Times was published today (and thanks for the kind mention of yours truly!)

Welcome, too, to those who've found there way here via that link. Kick the tires, give it a spin and hit that bookmark button if you please.

What you missed...

...or not.

If you're like me, you may have an occasional pang of conscience over a resolute avoidance of the local TV news. After all, there must be something important you're missing, right?

Well, apparently not if you're in my home town...
Seattle: Time spent on intro music and teases outnumbered time covering the Washington Governors race by 14-to-1

If I wasn't on record...

...against Dino's do-over in the Washington Governor election, this item might inspire some drum beating for Re-Vote USA.
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) - President Bush says he has not ruled out raising taxes on those who earn more than $90,000 a year to help bolster Social Security's finances.
Let's see, he wants to slash farm supports, he's shortchanged his religious charities program and now he's up for taxing the rich.

At this rate, there may not be a red state left anywhere.

A man of his word.

George W. Bush promised to create a 'coalition of the willing,' and damn if he hasn't gone and done just that...
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran and Syria, who both are facing pressure from the United States, said Wednesday they will form a "united front" to confront possible threats against them, state-run television reported.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The French have a word for it...


That's what they're calling the seven surviving American pilots who participated in an airlift for the embattled French troops at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The pilots, flying under a CIA contract, have been largely disowned by the US government, which has used the CIA 'contractor' subtefuge to deny them pension and other benefits, but the French haven't forgotten their heroism. They will be awarded the Chevalier de la Lagion d'Honneur, the highest French award for service.

The pilots haven't forgotten the heroism of the French troops, either. One of the survivors, Allen L. Pope, remembers...
"They never raised the white flag. There were men without hands, men without legs, men without feet, men that were blinded. They were catching hell."
Remember that the next time you hear a chickenhawk say 'France' with a sneer...

Some days I worry...

...that my outrage meter has been spiked once to often. I scan the stories that are stoking the fires of other bloggers and the newswires, and I feel nothing. Condi's a liar? Ho. The White House planted a shill in the press corps? Hum. The Bush budget screws his friends and foes alike? Wake me when it's over...

Then, sure enough, they go after my band of brothers again, I get blue in the face, reach for a keyboard and my outrage meter is reset for action. Here's the latest restorative outrage...
WASHINGTON — The latest chapter in the legal history of torture is being written by American pilots who were beaten and abused by Iraqis during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. And it has taken a strange twist.

The Bush administration is fighting the former prisoners of war in court, trying to prevent them from collecting nearly $1 billion from Iraq that a federal judge awarded them as compensation for their torture at the hands of Saddam Hussein's regime.

The rationale: Today's Iraqis are good guys, and they need the money.

And you thought the Bushco approval of torture was just for our side. But no, it's the Buscho compensation plan that's just for their side...
Many of the pilots were tortured in the same Iraqi prison, Abu Ghraib, where American soldiers abused Iraqis 15 months ago. Those Iraqi victims, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has said, deserve compensation from the United States.

But the American victims of Iraqi torturers are not entitled to similar payments from Iraq, the U.S. government says.
Bush hates veterans. He just does. It's so obvious.

And he doesn't care about you, either.

Monday, February 14, 2005

...and I wonder...

...if Bush is beefing up his defenses by transferring his White House defense shop to the DOJ, why would he be kissing off important red constituencies?
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration, departing from its normal practice of relying on U.S. farmers to supply food for hungry foreigners, expects to turn to overseas markets for part of its food aid program.
The Farm Bureau can't be loving that...

It just makes me wonder...

...why Bush feels the need to reproduce his in-house defense team at the DOJ...
WASHINGTON (AP) - Though declaring his independence from President Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has chosen as top aides three lawyers from the White House counsel's office he headed for four years.
Seems like he's bracing for an attack. Any notion on what or from who?

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Just in case... haven't been keeping score, Oliver has, and obligingly schools us...
Rice said there was no advance warning of Al Qaeda. That was a lie.

Rice said that there was no warning Al Qaeda would use planes as missiles. That was a lie.

Rice said there was no anti-terror plan given to her. That was a lie.

The woman is a liar, and not a word she says should be believed.
Our allies know this. So do our enemies. What possible use can she be as our chief diplomat?

I can't let another day pass...

...without giving a shout out to the folks at Chelsea Green Publishing and Dimpled Chad Productions.

When the call went out for bloggers to sign on in the campaign to stop the appointment of AG Gonzales, Chelsea Green and Dimpled Chad stepped up with gifts for the hundreds of bloggers who responded. Now, in my incarnation as a music journalist, shwag is everywhere - CDs, DVDs, shows, autographed 8x10 glossies, whatever. In the political blogger arena, though, this is a so-far unusual and highly appreciated gesture of support from the progressive community.

Anyway, I got a book and a CD. I haven't had a chance to do more than skim Michael Ratner's Guantanamo - What The World Should Know, but I'll be reading it in depth soon. It's full of first person interviews and original source documentation, and appears to be a definitive work on the subject. It's the Chelsea Green contribution, and they have a catalog of books that merit more of my attention as well.

Dimpled Chad's CD, American Way, is more immediately accessible, with five song parodies that display both wit and political insight. It's real fun and well done.

Anyway, schwag is good. This is great shwag, which is terrific.

Thanks, youse guys!

Elsewhere on the internets...

Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog makes a not-so-nice, but absolutely true point...
Right-wingers simply hate liberals, and people they believe are liberals (the entire mainstream media, for example), more than they hate bin Laden and Zawahiri and Zarqawi. We are the real enemy.

Conservatives don't care that the masterminds of 9/11 are still at large, as is the anthrax killer -- they've begun taking down the real menaces to society, John Kerry and Tom Daschle and Dan Rather and Eason Jordan. They're working on Ward Churchill.
It really goes to the heart of the problem for Democrats. We want to convince our opponents, then go forward together for the good of the country.

The radical destructionists who've won the Republican king of the mountain game for the moment don't care to convince. They just want to destroy. They lie, smear, use every ugly and illegal swindle they can find, because they don't want to go forward at all. Or back, really. They just want to destroy, and don't care who or what is destroyed in the process.

I'll have a few quick notes today...

...but if you've got time for something more substantial, I recommend taking a look at The Left Coaster, where Pessimist has an excellent primer on an ugly subject, Walmart's union-busting closure of their store in Jonquière, Quebec.

There's been a lot of encouraging talk in the blogosphere about the importance of supporting organized labor. The right to organize is the most basic right of labor, and we should all be paying attention to and making noise about this story.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

While I was away...

Good enough. Now lets get to work. Start here.

The unbearable lightness...

...of posting. Actually, you seem to be bearing up fine, though I'm starting to get some small withdrawal twinges.

Anyway, things will be hit and miss for a day or so while I devote every possible moment to try and show the Brilliant and Beautiful Bride of Upper Left how very grateful I am for each day of happiness since the day she became my wife, 17 years ago tomorrow. It's an orgy of romance, with the anniversary tied to Valentine's Day the following day.

I'm a lucky guy. She is brilliant, in fact, and beautiful, and my best friend and the unending object of my adoration. We met when we were just kids, and she has offered unconditional friendship for, damn, almost 40 years. For the last 17, she's been my wife.

I'm a lucky guy.


I've been told that Condi is "the most qualified nominee this country has ever had for Secretary of State" but I'm having trouble squaring that with the notion that everyone in the world knows that our top diplomat can't tell the truth about a damned thing.

Perjury is grounds for impeachment, right?

Hey, it's the weekend...

...why not another round of 'random first 10'? Here's what I woke up to...

1. Johnny Cash - I Walk The Line
2. Billy Bragg - The Price Of Oil
3. Dwight Tilley - Perfect World
4. Sopwith Camel - Hello, Hello
5. Sam & Dave - Hold On, I'm Coming
6. Culture Club - Karma Chameleon
7. Ivory Joe Hunter - Since I Met You Baby
8. Righteous Bros. - You've Lost That Loving Feeling
9. Cheap Trick - Ain't That A Shame
10. Buck Owens - Love's Gonna Live Here

Friday, February 11, 2005

Ah, the triumph of democracy...

The power was up in Baghdad long enough for Riverbend to post a missive on post-election Iraq. A bit of what we have wrought...
Please dress appropriately next time you come here." The man said to me. I looked down at what I was wearing- black pants, a beige high-necked sweater and a knee-length black coat. Huh? I blushed furiously. He meant my head should be covered and I should be wearing a skirt. I don't like being told what to wear and what not to wear by strange men. "I don't work here- I don't have to follow a dress code." I answered coldly. The cousin didn't like where the conversation was going, he angrily interceded, "We're only here for an hour and it really isn't your business."

"It is my business." Came the answer, "She should have some respect for the people who work here." And the conversation ended. I looked around for the people I should be respecting. There were three or four women who were apparently ministry employees. Two of them were wearing long skirts, loose sweaters and headscarves and the third had gone all out and was wearing a complete "jubba" or robe-like garb topped with a black head scarf. My cousin and I turned to enter the room the receptionist had indicated and my eyes were stinging. No one could talk that way before the war and if they did, you didn't have to listen. You could answer back. Now, you only answer back and make it an issue if you have some sort of death wish or just really, really like trouble.
Iraqi women nostalgic for the days "before the war."


More good stuff...

on and from my very own personal Congresscritter from Sandeep Kaushik at The Stranger, where Jim McDermott poses the essential social question...
"Do we live in a society where we think of we, or just me?" McDermott asks. "Bush is pushing the idea that everything is me."
...and the essential political one.
"I think for the American people this is a watershed event," McDermott says. "This one is a bedrock of Democratic security in this society. If Democrats give up that, what's left?"
The destructionists are out to destroy our security, destroy our legacy, destroy our Party.

They're coming after McDermott, too. Let him know we've got his back.

Someone should tell...

...the lovely and talented Miss Audrey Hepcat that if she wants to scan her hindparts, she needs to raise the lid first...

One second thought, let's keep that our little secret...

Matthew Sez...

Stand Up With Labor.

...and he's right. It's a basic obligation for Democrats.

He offers a way, too, with a link to a UFCW petition on the closure of the Jonqueiere, Quebec, WalMart following their successful organizing drive. After all, why negotiate when you can afford to walk away? The petition cuts sraight to the heart of the matter.

"Wal-Mart spent hundreds of millions last month in an advertising campaign that asked people to find out the facts about your company. The fact that you would eliminate jobs and displace an entire community because you want to deny workers their right to negotiate for a fair wage is the only fact I need to know."

Sign it!

If you don't believe...

...the current crop of Repubicans are radical destructionists, look a the way they're trying to destroy Social Security and compare that to the approach of a real conservative administration, via Think Progress...
Ronald Reagan “vastly expanded” the Social Security system. He signed into law a $165 billion legislative package which upped payroll taxes, brought new recipients into the system and “for the first time, taxed Social Security benefits, and did so in the most liberal way: only those of upper-income recipients.” It’s time for the right to stop trying to capitalize on The Gipper’s iconic status to maipulate conservatives into supporting President Bush’s plan.
The conservatives worked hard to conserve the program. The destructionists just want to destroy.

Hey, if they can lie about FDR, the least we can do is tell the truth about Reagan.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Me too.

Dean Nielsen at Progressive Majority writes...
I'm tired of people bashing my Congressman, U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott.
and offers a spirited defense, including a pointer to a rare but excellent example of positive coverage from the local press by the PI's Robert Jamieson. A teaser...
McDermott is a messenger for whom human caring knows no borders. And people facing ethnic hatred and hopelessness abroad place their message of suffering in his hands -- literally, it turns out.

When McDermott recently traveled on a fact-finding mission to the Darfur region of Sudan, people pressed pieces of paper into his palm. McDermott couldn't read the scribbling in the foreign language of the weary souls.


McDermott's office translated the notes from the trip and e-mailed the English version to me yesterday. The words show that history is on the verge of hitting the repeat button, as it did when ethnic Hutus slaughtered 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda.
Carl Ballard continues the love-in, saying that Jim's...
"...the Rep. for life because he represents his district so well."
As a faithful constituent of Rep. McDermott, I can hardly disagree with that sentiment, but however effusively offered, it falls a bit short. As Jamieson details, he's the Rep. for life because he represents the whole damn world so well.

Some reporters...

...are idiots. Or worse. Political Wire points to an offering by today's nominees, Peter Savodnik and Elizabeth Fulk of The Hill, who write under the headline "Some red-state Democrats facing balancing act with Dean."

"Some..." As in...
Some Democrats in Republican-dominated states already look to be putting distance between themselves and incoming Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Howard Dean, the Vermont firebrand.
Now, apart from introducing the mildly perjorative descriptor 'firebrand' in their lede, Savodnik and Fulk have an interesting, if hardly unusual point. Some Democrats in Republican-dominated states have run away from the national Party for years, regardless of who the Chair was, so some would doubtless back away from a Chair whose political identity is as vivid as Dean's (even if the record that underlies that identity sometimes belies it.) Should be simple enough, then, to find a few elected officials willing to back away on the record, right?

Well, apparently not. Savodnik and Fulk did find Jason Schulte, exec director of the South Dakota Democrats, who allowed as how...
"Representative Herseth and Senator Johnson don’t have to line up behind Howard Dean on every issue."
True enough. Of course, it's also true that Herseth and Johnson don't have to line up behind Howard Dean, or any DNC Chair, on any issue. They line up (one fervently hopes) behind their caucus leaderships in the House and Senate, each of which has already set their agendas. Howard Dean's job as Chair will be, in part, to support those agendas, not direct them.

But Schulte didn't say anything about distance, he just stated the facts on the ground. In fact, 'some' Democrats, as usual, seem to be some Democrats in Savodnik and Fulks' fevered imaginations. They sure don't seem to be in the US House or Senate.



Quote of the Day

Well, yesterday, but it's a good 'un...
"They're not going to frighten me. You know, they call me an obstructionist -- they're destructionists."

Senator Harry Reid
Damn straight, Senator, and thank you. It's way past time we stopped letting their leaders define us and started using ours to define them. I'm not always a fan of new coinage, but 'destructionist' sounds fine to my ear...

Good question...

...and a better answer from Better Donkey...
What is the point of preaching to the converted?

Well it was rallying the converted that won George Bush the Presidential Election, and if we are ever going to put the Republicans back on the defensive, we’ll have to start doing some rallying of our own.
One rally point our leaders are offering is the battle against Bushco's new taxes. First Harry Reid spotted the birth tax and now a team of leading Senators has discovered another rotten easter egg in the Administration budget basket.
Ranking Member on the Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus joined Democratic Senators Dick Durbin, Charles Schumer and Jon Corzine Wednesday in calling on President Bush and the Republicans to come clean about the effects of the “privatization tax” contained in the President’s Social Security privatization plan.
Bush I promised "no new taxes." With Bush II, it seems it's all new taxes!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The gift that keeps on giving...

Bush's Medicare scam has been so scandal ridden - vote buying, rule breaking, whistleblower bashing, and of course, just plain lying - that it almost qualifies for a list of its own, but for this week, at least, it's just more fodder for the

The Washington Post provides the ugly truth...
The White House released budget figures yesterday indicating that the new Medicare prescription drug benefit will cost more than $1.2 trillion in the coming decade, a much higher price tag than President Bush suggested when he narrowly won passage of the law in late 2003.

The projections represent the most complete picture to date of how much the program will cost after it begins next year. The expense of the new drug benefit has been a source of much controversy since the day Congress approved it, with Democrats and some Republicans complaining that the White House has consistently low-balled the expected cost to the government.
And the Shadow Speaker makes the appropriate call for investigation and real Medicare reform...
"Congress must have oversight hearings on the Republican Medicare prescription drug law and reopen it to hold down costs and give seniors the true benefits they deserve. We should move immediately to lower the costs of this bill by requiring the government to use the purchasing power of millions of seniors to negotiate lower drug costs. And we should allow the safe reimportation of drugs from Canada and elsewhere."
Sic 'em, Nancy!

And his point was?

This line from the Stakeholder's coverage of a dustup between Dennis Hastert and Rahm Emanuel caught my eye...
The story so far: In a Monday column, Hastert took aim at Emanuel as unduly partisan...
Well, golly gee! The Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is partisan! Even "unduly partisan," though I don't think that's a possible description of someone in an political leadership position within a partisan caucus. An important part of Emanuel's job is to be partisan and to advance the Party's 2006 election prospects at every possible occassion. I don't really want to hear anything about him reaching across the aisle. I want a Democratic majority.

Hastert's position, of course, is Constitutional, not partisan, derived from an election by the House, not by a caucus, so a measure of non - if not bi - partisanship is often appropriate to his role. It's understandable, then, that Emanuel would express appreciation for Hastert's new found cooperative nature...
"I am also pleased to learn of your new spirit of bipartisanship, which is a marked change from past policies of keeping the vote open for three hours on controversial measures, using the House rules to prevent alternate proposals and amendments from coming to the House floor, and withhold any vote on key pieces of legislation unless it could produce 'a majority of the majority,'" wrote Emanuel.

I got mail...

I got mail...

from Here's the juicy bit (dolled up a bit with my emphasis...)
...Thousands of you have written in about how to continue the fight. I believe the answer is to transform the movement you built into a permanent grassroots presence for the Democratic Party in every state across this nation. If we want to prevail in the 2006 elections, we've got to start mobilizing now.

To help kick-start this, I will make a contribution to support grassroots organizing at the Democratic National Committee in the amount of $1,000,000. Join me with a contribution of your own to show the incoming DNC Chair that you want to support organizing in your own community:

A new DNC Chair will be elected at the end of this week. Let's make sure that he has everything he needs to start strong. The Democratic Party should have powerful and nimble organizations in every single county and precinct. There's only one way to win - we've got to compete everywhere, all the time. Our party should be a constant positive presence in every American community, and we can be if we tap into the grassroots energy of volunteers.
It's an important gesture by Kerry, reflective of not just the desire, but the ability to demonstrate leadership within the Party.

I totally endorse his call for early donations to the DNC. If we really want to get the best of what Howard Dean has to offer, we could free him up to do his best work by getting a year's worth of fundraising out of the way in a month or two...

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

I haven't got much...

...but snark to offer on the situation surrounding the court challenges against our democratically elected Democratic Governor, but that's OK, because others are doing the hard work for me.

Carla from Preemptive Karma and TJ from Also Also have been doing yeoman's work individually, and now they've teamed up for the definitive take down of the case put forward by Rossi and the right wing noise machine in the Northwest. Start here and keep monitoring their work, and I'll keep looking for the likely spot for a snide comment...

I take encouragement...

...from this headline in the Seattle Times...

Rossi declares himself winner in latest round of court fight

...remembering that the last time Dino declared victory, he lost...

I've mentioned...

...the Northwest Progressive Institute's new Northwest Portal, which, in addition to blog and media links for Washington, Oregon and Idaho, syndicates feeds from selected blogs in each state. They've just expanded their selection of Washington sites and I'm proud to say that Upper Left has been included on the new page.

I'm in some fine company there, including sites long on my blogroll and a couple I'm just learning about. Congrats to NPI for fine execution of a great idea, and thanks for noticing Upper Left.

There's another new directory effort worth some of your surfing attention at Irregular News, with state by state listings of the lefty blogosphere. If you found Upper Left there, or at Northwest Portal, welcome!

Monday, February 07, 2005

Maybe you're not wild about Harry just yet...

...but he's driving the Republicans crazy and they're striking back.
The Republican National Committee is set to begin a prolonged attack against newly installed Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) aimed at weakening his support in his home state as well as on the national level.

Drawing on a blueprint used successfully against former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), the RNC will send a 13-page research document today to roughly 1 million people — a group that includes journalists, donors and grass-roots activists — detailing Reid’s alleged obstructionism among other topics.
Let them 'detail' Reid's obstructionism. Embrace every detail, and turn it into a celebration of Senator Reid's stand against the radicals that have siezed the reigns of the Republican Party.

Since we're right, and they're wrong, Harry's clearly doing the right thing. Democrats of every stripe at every level need to be vigilant and vocal in his defense.

Quote of the Day

"This thing is so dead that for professionals it's hardly worth talking about. But what else would we talk about?"

Lawrence O'Donnell on the Al Franken Show, discussing the Bush Social Security scam.

It puzzles me, really.

No matter how hard I try to wrap my head around it, I really can't figure out why it is that Republicans hate the men and women who fight for America. There's just no good reason for it, but the evidence just keeps piling up...
President Bush's budget would more than double the co-payment charged to many veterans for prescription drugs and would require some to pay a new fee of $250 a year for the privilege of using government health care, administration officials said Sunday.

The proposals, they said, are in the $2.5 trillion budget that Mr. Bush plans to unveil on Monday...
I give up. The motivation just doesn't matter, just the outcome. Time to place the blame. A header by Atrios provides the bumper sticker.

Bush Hates Veterans

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Another day...

...another duty to defend Dean.

Political Wire points to an item by Robert Novak which says...
...Democrats "are concerned about the massive negative research" about Howard Dean "stockpiled by President Bush's political operatives."

"The Dean file was compiled by Bush's re-election campaign when it appeared that the former Vermont governor was going to be nominated for president. It is a carefully researched compendium of Dean's often bizarre utterances."
Democrats are concerned, huh? OK, Bob, name one. After all, naming names seemed easy enough when you wanted to out a CIA agent. Surely you have a source for your veiled slander against our presumptive Chair.

But you don't, do you.

Your kind never do.

In fact, I think you'll find that in general, Democrats aren't the least bit worried about the oppo file on Dean, because we know that no matter who leads us, they'll get smeared by the Republican slime machine and their lapdogs in the media echo chamber.

And it doesn't matter, really, because we're right, you're wrong and, as pal 'o Upper Left Cereffusion so eloquently puts it, it's clobberin' time!

Without prefix, without suffix...

Jerome Armstrong makes a point worth repeating...

The only gripe I have with DLCers is that they can't get beyond last decade to realize that the new movement within the Democratic Party has nothing to do with restoring a Liberal agenda. Howard Dean did not say "I'm from the Liberal Wing of the Democratic Party," he said, "I'm from the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party. This is why the establishment in DC failed in their struggle to stop Howard Dean-- they don't understand how the terrain of the party has shifted, and are still thinking like Democrats are a governing party that must put forward an ideology.

The movement that brought Howard Dean to power has nothing at all to do with ideology, and everything to do with partisanship. In fact, Howard Dean was once a darling of the DLC, who cares? Harry Reid has a different viewpoint on abortion, but if he's not going to push government into a woman's body, who cares? Evan Bayh is a member of the DLC, but who really cares, as long as he's able to strike a partisan chord?

The only questions to ask is, are they a strong partisan Democrat that wants to beat Republicans? Do they walk the talk, and do they cut the crap? That's all I want to know. DLC, Deaniacs, Liberals, Centrists, Moderates.... it's all meaningless when you are in the minority. Democratic, that's the price of entry.
...without apology.

(my emphasis, as usual)

Guns and butter, '05...

...means more guns, less butter. While the war goes on and Rummy's budget gets goosed, a sampling of proposed cuts in the Bush budget shows that first responders, the heroes of 9/11 and the first line of homeland defense are on the chopping block...
Federal grants to local police will drop by 90%...

More cuts for intra-agency efforts to improve technology and communication for first responders...

$215,000,000 for local firefighters gone....

No more federal support for the costs of incarcerating illegal aliens convicted of crimes in the US...
Clean water takes a hit, too, with a cut to the EPA. Cuts to the National Park Service are a pretty clear demonstation that 'compassionate conservatives' have little compassion for actual conservation.

Little compassion, too, for Indian kids trying to get an education on the rez., with $100,000,000 coming out of the BIA's school building budget. Or the low income elderly, whose home heating aid program loses $200,000,000 as fuel prices climb.

But wait, there's more!

Did George mention to those red staters that he had a ten year plan to cut almost $6 billion out of agricultural supports, dropping the ceiling on payments by a third? And did he tell his banker buddies that the subsidies for low-interest student loans would shrink, with the Perkins Loan program, a staple for middle class families with kids in college, disappearing altogether?

No, I don't think he mentioned that on the campaign trail.

I didn't hear much about the 40% cut in federal housing and community development programs, either. And that cross-country train trip you've always wanted to take? Take it now. Amtrak subsidies? Bye bye.

A lot folks looked at the Bush re-election and thought someone should be punished for it. Bush, obviously, agrees, and his budget obliges.

The lefty blogosphere is abuzz...

...with kudos for Juan Cole's takedown of Lucianne's baby boy, of whom he writes...
Jonah Goldberg knows absolutely nothing about Iraq. I wonder if he has even ever read a single book on Iraq, much less written one. He knows no Arabic. He has never lived in an Arab country. He can't read Iraqi newspapers or those of Iraq's neighbors. He knows nothing whatsoever about Shiite Islam, the branch of the religion to which a majority of Iraqis adheres....
Tue enough, an a fine bit of work. Am I the only one, though, who noticed the description is similarly apt for the President, Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Unaccustomed as I am... defending Howard Dean, I may as well get used to it, because it's pretty clear they're out to get him.

No, not some secret cabal of ABD Democrats. (That was me, remember?) What's about to hit the Governor as he transitions into his new role as Chairman is the seemingly endless need by some journalists to concoct conflict where there's little or none to be found. A case in point is a story by Will Lester on the AP wire today, carrying the provacative headline "Dean's Bid to Lead Dems Gets Mixed Views."

I clicked it open, expecting, naturally, to find a mixture of views from Democrats about their incipient leader. After all, Lester assured me that...
"...some Democrats worry about the image Dean projects: anti-war Northeastern liberal from Vermont, the state that led the way on civil unions for gays. Amid all the talk of values, Democrats wonder if Dean would be an albatross as they try to make inroads with conservative-leaning voters in the South and Midwest."
Maybe he means NH Democratic Chair Kathy Sullivan, who he quotes thus...
"He gave the Democratic Party its swagger back," said Kathy Sullivan, chairwoman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, reminiscing about Dean's willingness to challenge President Bush. "He reminded them that they should not act like a beaten dog."
Hmmm...doesn't sound too worried, does she?
Must have meant Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha, who offers the view that Dean will...
"...invigorate the party with his enthusiasm and his organizational ability. After he lost, he went out and worked for Democratic candidates to get them elected. He's got volunteers all over the country."
Nope, couldn't be that one. How about erstwhile Clintonite Harold Ickes? He does have some advice for Dean...
"Howard's biggest challenge will be to understand that he is not a governor, not a presidential candidate. He's quick to take a position; he will have to slow that down."
Fair enough, but, as Lester is obliged to admit, Ickes endorsed Dean's run for the Chairmanship. How worried could he be?

Surely Will Lester didn't rush to print without a solid source or two to back up his assertions about Democrats running scared from the spectre of Chairman Dean. There must be some evidence to justify the headline, right?

Well sure. There's Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution, the source for all seasons. Of course, neither Mann nor Brookings can safely be described as 'Democratic' sources - in the eyes of some (me, for instance) the description 'non-partisan' is charitable, at best - but he knows Democrats, right? He can point out a couple who might compare Howard to a sea bird, right? Well...
"Some people worry that Republicans will portray him as a crazy liberal," said Thomas Mann, a political analyst at the Brookings Institution. "The question is whether he can effectively counter that."
"Some people..." Not even "some Democrats." Well, some people worry about most anything. I worry about a so-called objective journalist that sets out to torpedoe a DNC Chair before his selection is officially ratified, for instance.

The difference being that I seem to have an actual reason to worry...

Quote of the Day

One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington.

Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.

Bill Moyers
(emphasis, as usual, mine...)

They just want to destroy Social Security.

They always have.
Bush's proposal to overhaul Social Security wasn't born with the new forecasts of looming financial problems. It's the product of a conservative dream to undo the system that's as old as the program itself.

Conservatives started complaining that the system was a big-government boondoggle doomed to insolvency before the first check was sent out in January 1937. Their indictment has been part of conservative ideology ever since Barry Goldwater, whose doomed but defiant 1964 presidential campaign made him the father of the modern conservative movement, through Bush....(more)
It's not about reform, it's about repeal.

Hey Dino...

...the fish aren't biting. It's time to cut bait...
The judge said if Republicans did prove their case, he would not order a new election for governor as they want him to do. Rossi has said that was the only remedy he would accept.
It's true. You can't always get what you want. This is one of those times (and, by the way, that's a mighty big 'if' up there...)

So Dino, have you been lying all along, or are you ready to drop the case?

(Granted, those questions aren't mutually exclusive...)

Friday, February 04, 2005

Simon says...

"Effective today, I am ending my campaign for chair of the Democratic National Committee. I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to share my vision with Democrats around the country, and I remain encouraged by the depth and thoughtfulness DNC members have brought to this important process of picking our next chair.

Today, I am endorsing Governor Howard Dean to be the next Chairman of the DNC. While we have not always agreed on every issue, I believe his passion for our Party, his remarkable fighting spirit, his direct and powerful way of speaking, and his commitment to bringing regular people back into our Party will allow him to revitalize our Party and help us win again in the 21st century.

I call upon my supporters, and Democrats from all parts of the Party and all parts of the country, to join me in supporting Governor Howard Dean as the next DNC chair." (more)

I'm a Dean Democrat.

Who'd a thunk it?

Dino's Do-Over Survives Round 1

WENATCHEE, Wash. -- A judge Friday denied Democrats' first two motions to dismiss the challenge to Gov. Christine Gregoire's election.

The rulings by Chelan County Superior Court John E. Bridges were on questions of venue and jurisdiction. The Democratic Party motions were intended to move the issue to the Legislature, in accordance with the state constitution which grants legislative oversight to gubenatorial elections, or, alternatively, to move the proceedings directly to the State Supreme Court.

GOP lawyer Robert Maquire offered the argument that without dragging the case on through the lower courts, "...many - and perhaps the majority - of Washington voters will not believe the person sitting in the governor's office truly won the election."

Gee, you don't suppose that could have anything to do with a concentrated attack by right wing hate radio and television campaigns by PACs with a vested interest in weakening the democratically elected Democratic Governor, do you? Seems like someone with a sincere concern for the public interest would be all for moving this to the venue that will ultimately have to hear it anyway. The only thing to be gained from delay is more time for the campaign to undercut Gov. Gregoire.

More motions to dismiss will be hear later today, and this thing may be over before dinner...or it may last until the next election.

It's time for Dino to face facts.

It's done. Chris won. Get over it.

No, Audrey...

...the camera is not food.

The lovely and talented Miss Audrey Hepcat seemed more intrested in my photographic efforts than usual, but I suspect she'll find a can of tuna even more fascinating...

Ossie Davis, 1917-2005

A life lived 'doing the right thing.'


The Iraqis voted...

...and Kos pins the only outcome that matters.
Ultimately, the war will go on whether 95 percent of Iraqis voted, or 10 percent did.
Based on many reports, many Iraqis thought they were voting to end the war. We're the only ones who can do that.

Manly men...

"I was surprised. I extended my hand and he was good enough to give me a manly embrace."
So sez Joe.

Looks more like a loving caress of the cheek to me, but watch for yourself...

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Losing the youth vote...

Math is hard...

...that's why I majored in political science when the smart money was in engineering, so I'll go with Oliver's numbers...
2001: 8 sentences contain freedom 0 sentences contain sacrifice
2002: 14 sentences contain freedom 2 sentences contain sacrifice
2003: 5 sentences contain freedom 1 sentence contains sacrifice
2004: 8 sentences contain freedom 1 sentence contains sacrifice
2005: 17 sentences contain freedom 1 sentence contains sacrifice
The Preznit apparently thinks freedom is free, or nearly so...

He's got the little bitty babies... his plan.

Harry nails it...
"Too many of the president's economic policies have left Americans and American companies struggling. And after we worked so hard to eliminate the deficit, his policies have added trillions to the debt -- in effect, a 'birth tax' of $36,000 on every child that is born."
A masterful frame, with the traditionally Democratic advantage of being true.

Sic 'em, Senator!

Once again...

...Digby (ahem) digs up another gem, this time from Editor & Publisher...
I'll be delighted if the turnout figure, when it is officially announced, exceeds the dubious numbers already enshrined by much of the media. But don't be surprised if it falls a bit short. The point is: Nobody knows, and reporters and pundits should stop acting like they do know when they say, flatly, that 8 million Iraqis voted and that this represents a turnout rate of about 60%.
Stay tuned. The Hullabalooster may score a hat trick before the day's out...

There is no crisis.

Everybody knows it. Even Buscho has backed off the crisis claim, turning increasingly to describing the "problem."

So, if there is no crisis, why are they so anxious to destroy Social Security? Paul Waldman explains it in plain terms at the Gadflyer...
Bush is trying to destroy Social Security because he knows that it is the keystone of progressive government - if it can be eliminated, the entire idea that we have mutual obligations to one another that can be satisfied through government will be dealt a mortal blow. But because he will fail, and because in failing he is offering tributes to the program, the fight will leave the progressive vision stronger than it was before.
There it is. Bush has to destroy Social Security because the success of Social Security gives lie to his entire juvenile "I got mine" philosophy. It's the bottom line. If we win this one, we do it on the basis of overwhelming agreement that our ideas are right, and theirs are wrong.

And since we're right, and they're wrong, we simply must win.

Freedom isn't free...

...and in the pending state of Kurdistan, it isn't even freedom...
NEW YORK Some Iraqi Christians say their kinsmen in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq weren't allowed to vote in Sunday's election.

Simon George, co-director of an Assyrian satellite television station, says he received "at least 100 calls" from Assyrians complaining about being deprived of the vote in Christian villages around Mosul (MOH'-sul). He says Assyrian Christians were promised ballot boxes that didn't arrive.

George said he was told that in the Assyrian villages, Kurds "stopped all the elections."
The best work of our best friends in Iraq.

Think they sent election observers to Ohio for instruction?

It seems so obvious...

...when you see it written out, but it had never occurred to me. Unsuprisingly, a simple observation by Digby explains so much...
These doughy, briefcase GOP baby boomer geeks have always had a case of arrested development. They started their "revolution" in their 40's. In their 50's they've discovered the "generation gap." The rest of us got over this intergenerational squabbling a couple of decades ago. It's never too late to act like a teen-age ass.
I've often been puzzled why otherwise apparently bright people constantly support juvenile, simplistic solutions to real problems. It's because of their simplistic, juvenile mentality. Of course.

Hell, they've even tried to reproduce the war they missed when they were kids, so today's kids won't miss out...

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Lieblogging the SOTU.

I didn't even try to live blog Bush's speech, mainly because I didn't even try to watch it. Sitting around watching an inarticulate man lie usually falls pretty low on my priority list. You'll find the detrius of any number of liveblogging efforts scattered around the blogosphere, but the work you don't want to miss is over at the Center for American Progress' new blogging effort, You may want to bookmark the site for return visits, because when you start to follow the Preznit's departures from the truth, you're setting out on a thousand mile trail (and they're posting lots of other good stuff, too.)

Those with less time may find Oliver's summation sufficient...
Freedom. Freedom. I'm going to privatize your social security and give it to Enron. God bless America.
...and everybody should check out the coverage by Norbizness, which features what seems to be the speech Bush wanted to give, as opposed to the one he was told to give.

Oh yeah, it's Wednesday...

...and time for...

...kindly provided by the New York Times and modestly highlighted by yours truly...)
The Justice Department is demanding close to $400,000 from a public interest foundation before honoring its request for information on a lingering mystery of 9/11 - the secret numbers of immigrants who were rounded up after the terrorist attacks and never heard from as their court records were sealed. This huge tab, presented to the People for the American Way Foundation, is well beyond established criteria and amounts to an insult to the law's intent: letting citizens in on some of the murkier things the government may be up to.
I thought the Justice Department was supposed to enforce the law's intent.

Stop laughing. They should be supposed to...

The 'Good Question' file...

...grows a little fatter (and immeasurably more valuable) with these entries from Jeanne d'Arc
...does anyone seriously not understand that Iraqis lined up to say, "Okay, we've had your damn election. Now get out."

I'm impressed that Iraqis had the courage to do that, but how is that good news for George Bush?

From the 'Striking a Blow for Democracy' file...

Media Matters has a summary...
The Washington Post reported on February 1: "Insurgents made good on their repeated threats to attack Iraq's polling stations on election day, unleashing car and suicide bombs, mortars, rockets, small-arms fire and grenades in 109 separate attacks, according to U.S. officials." That followed similar accounts on January 31 by Knight Ridder and the Associated Press, among others. A list of election-day attacks on that resulted in deaths or injuries includes descriptions of attacks at polling places, including one in which "suicide bomber detonated explosives while standing in line at the Maysaloun polling station," killing three and wounding nine.

Two U.S. Marines were among the 45 people killed in Iraq on election day, including a Marine killed while guarding an Iraqi polling station, as The Cincinnati Enquirer reported on January 31 (and in more detail on February 1). The Los Angeles Times noted on January 31: "Seven U.S. soldiers were injured when an insurgent lobbed a hand grenade over the wall of a polling site in northwest Mosul, just after the gates had closed for the day."
While it seems popular in some circles to dismiss the deaths of 45 people, including two US Marines, as a minor detail barely worthy of note in the magnificent glow surrounding the Iraqi elections, I still think they're worthy of mourning. And I'm left to wonder how many were injured but managed to survive. Don't they deserve a bit of sympathy amid the celebrations?

And, jeebus. How democratic an election can you really have in an environment of widespread violence, demoninational boycotts and military occupation? Seems fair to ask...

Our very own Jim Jeffords.

Republicans in the State House follow in the footsteps of their pals in the other Washington, driving moderate voices from their midst...
OLYMPIA -- Maverick Republican Rep. Tom Campbell bolted the state House GOP caucus yesterday after clashing with his new caucus leadership.

Campbell, now serving his fifth term from the 2nd District in Pierce County, said he isn't switching parties, but will be his own caucus of one. Campbell said he has grown increasingly unhappy with his caucus' "cozy relationship" with the insurance and pharmacy industries...
The Republican response to his concerns about that relationship? They dumped him from the House Health Care Committee, where he was the senior member. Democratic Speaker Frank Chopp's response to Campbell's move? An appointment to the committee.

Good for Campbell. Good for Chopp. Good for all of us.

More evidence that there are no 'moderate Republicans.' Real moderates abandon the radicalism of the Republican Party.



An unnamed "party insider...with high-level access" floats a modest proposal regarding Ms. Brazille via Kos...
...Donna is to the party what Jesse, her mentor, is to the business community. She knows she can exact whatever she wants. What do we get in exchange? Is she spending a lot of time doing micro-analyses of the turnout and performance of minority districts? Is she developing messages to communicate to the emerging black middle class, many of whom were born after the civil rights movement and are increasingly receptive to Republican messages? Aside from the chuckles she gets at public events from her practiced good-ole-girl adages, she's not pushing forward the discussion, not offering solutions, not innovating. She's not even that good at taking Bay Buchanan or Jonah Goldberg to the woodshed when she's on CNN.

Speaking of Mr. Jackson, for years now he has repeated in his speeches that there are hundreds of thousands of African Americans who, if they turned out in states with large black populations, would make it impossible for Republicans to have a majority in Congress. (Or at least the Senate, where they can't be gerrymandered.) He's right. But ask yourself: Is Donna working to fix this problem? She's the highest-ranking black campaign manager in American history, but frankly, she can't deliver a pizza. She hurts the party and, therefore, isn't doing much good for the black community she derives her political power from. She's also one of the few Democrats who chats periodically with Karl Rove. Here's an familiar aphorism for you, Donna: That dog won't hunt.

Don't be fooled by her love letters, Dr. Dean. This is Donna's way of saying she plans to be on the payroll if you win, now that she can read the writing on the political wall (her one great skill). If you win, you should work hard to figure out ways to be inclusive, encourage black turnout, and continue some of the DNC's ambitious efforts to raise money from younger, upscale African Americans. The party is guilty of turning to blacks only when it comes time to vote, and you can help end that practice.

But the first "reform" action you ought to take is to show Donna the door.

Her 'Sister Soulja' moment is long overdue.
As the liklihood of Dean's election as DNC chair seems to increase day by day, so will the volume of advice he'll receive. He won't receive better advice than this.

It's good advice for Simon, too, who's still in the hunt for DNC votes.