Thursday, June 30, 2005

Please join me... welcoming my friend, colleague and co-conspirator, DJ Johnson, to the user list at Upper Left. Another native son of Seattle, Deej is a true pioneer in the world of online publishing as the founder and Editor In Chief of Cosmik Debris, which has maintained an online presence in a variety of formats for, well, over ten years now, or approximately forever in internet time.

For nine or so of those years he's given me a free hand to write about whatever strikes my fancy - politics, pop culture, music, anything, really - and has entered the ranks of my bestest pals, so when he mentioned that he was looking for a blog home for some of his stuff that really didn't fit the magazine format at Cosmik, I was happy to add him to the rolls.

Only one condition. I told him he's not allowed to be funnier than me.

But he probably won't be able to help it...

Word Up, Senator

Following George W. Bush's June 28th national pep talk on the subject of the war in Iraq, elements of the GOP Thought Police sprang into action. Among the more interesting decrees were a few nuggets from Sen. John Warner (R-Va).

"We need to knock off this business of quagmires," opined Warner, who seems more than a little worried that use of such words might get back to the soldiers on the ground in Iraq and brings the morale down, as if they don't already know they're fairly well bogged down. That's right, Senator Warner wants to make sure he and his other Congressfolk don't utter any descriptive words that might provide a startling reality check for our brave soldiers who, by and large, are not the idiots he seems to think they are.

But surely the Senator wouldn't want his colleagues to avoid telling the truth in the name of propaganda when so much is at stake, would he?

Let's ask him.

"I think we're going to take it very seriously to watch our rhetoric, those of us in Congress," Warner said, "and also members of the administration in their rhetoric to make certain what we say can not be misconstrued [or] in any way shows a lack of support."

Okay, so maybe Senator John Warner wants to blow rainbow-colored smoke every time he speaks on the subject of the war in Iraq, but hey, big deal. It's not like he's in any particular position of responsibility regarding Iraq. Well, unless you count the fact that he's chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Isn't it nice to know we have real watchdogs in these important government posts? Seriously, folks, this kind of onomatophobia is troubling, to say the least.


It's the fear of a certain word or words. Very much in vogue in the Republican party, and especially in the Bush Administration. It's obviously not the lone phobia on the right side of the Beltway, of course. There's been an epidemic of homophobia, as you know, but you might not be as aware of the recent upswing in poinephobia (fear of punishment), especially from those who associate closely with House Majority Leader Tom Delay. They probably don't have to worry much, though, since it seems that there are still plenty of voters out there suffering from optophobia (fear of opening one's eyes). The recent shameful display by the twelve Senators who refused to be associated with the official apology to African Americans, and others, for failing to outlaw lynching shows that there's still a bit of melanophobia (fear of the color black) mixed with sociophobia (fear of people in general) and phronemophobia (fear of thinking)... which actually makes them "mongrels," in a way. There's some delicious irony in that.

It's not all on their side. When I watch the talk shows and see Vice President Cheney revising history and setting the talking points that will be re-uttered, word for word, by everyone else for the rest of the week (now that he's gotten over his bout with pupaphobia, or fear of puppets), I get a little twitchy. When I see Rumsfeld sweating and repeating Cheney like a parrot an hour later (see "poinephobia"), I get a headache from involuntary rolling of the eyes. But my own phobias truly go on display when the Prez hits the screen, whether it's to commit our troops to endless purgatory (nostophobia, or fear of returning home) or to announce another death sentence for a wilderness area and a contract for a timber company (xylophobia, or fear of forests). Maybe it's that "you can't stop me" cackle of his, or maybe the ease with which he accomplishes these things using such short little words (hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words, but don't ask him to pronounce it because we're almost out of time here). All I know is I end up with a tweaked out case of coulrophobia. And fear of clowns is nothing to laugh at, my friend.

Go west…

Go west…

Via Terry Turner
The President has a 50% or higher disapproval rate now in these nine states he carried back in November:

New Mexico
North Carolina
Interesting list. I'm particularly interested in the swing of sentiment in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. I'm in the camp that admits that the 'solid South' is lost for at least longer than I'm likely to last. Like Dixie, the great plains seem to offer little better than chances to chip away at the edges of the Republican base. On the other hand, I think there's a real possibility to consolidate the mountain West as a Democratic stronghold, and to do it without making the kind of compromises in Democratic principles that victory in the South seems to sometimes require.

It's all well and good for Chairman Dean to give the Mississippi Ds a hand, but I'm looking for a comprehensive western strategy to prove we're serious about winning.

Nelson Algren's advice…

..."Never play cards with a man called Doc," may be a sound rule of thumb, but it appears that the Gentleman from the 4th District can't back his hand, offering himself as the exception that proves the rule as he tosses in his chips...
The Republican Chairman of the House Ethics Committee has retreated on a bid to have his chief of staff become co-director for the Committee, paving the way for ethics investigations of House members, including House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), RAW STORY has learned.

In a letter to members of Congress today, Ethics Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA)indicated he will retreat from a plan to have his personal chief of staff Ed Cassidy serve as co-director of the committee.
Count this one a win for the House Ds.

Now, Doc, about that resignation...

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Stumbled across this…

Stumbled across this…

…at Comments From Left Field, and got a chuckle at first...

…then I realized, not only is this pretty much how I expect our Iraqi adventure to turn out, but that I'm not totally convinced that that's a bad thing…

Nope, I didn't watch.

I was pouring beer and feeding the jukebox at work during the President's speech, and if I'd been home I would have been watching CSPAN for the Democratic Special Order anyway. I might have made an effort to put it on one of the tav's TVs if it had been a policy speech, but it wasn't. It was a campaign speech, only this time the opponent is the American people. This was GW's attempt to get the people back in line and it can't really be judged by its content, but by its effect. CNN has some early returns (my emphasis)...
(CNN) -- A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of Americans who watched President Bush's Iraq speech Tuesday night showed that 46 percent had a "very positive" reaction to what they heard.

The poll was taken immediately after the speech, and the 323 adults interviewed were 50 percent Republican, 23 percent Democratic and 27 percent independent. The margin of error was plus or minus 6 percentage points.
The sample looks skewed, but it was unavoidable, since they only talked to people who had actually seen the speech, and CNN candidly admits...
"Many Americans did not watch the speech. Those who did were 2-to-1 Republican, so most were arguably already in the president's camp."
The percentage of those with a "very positive" reaction was down from the 60 percent expressing the same sentiment in a similar poll taken immediately after Bush's State of the Union speech in February.
And we know how well things have gone for Bush since then. It seems that Bush, unable to win over even half of an audience heavily skewed in his favor, has lost another battle in his war against Americans. Give folks credit - they're getting fed up with the facade of platitudes this administration tries to pass off as policy.

I wonder. Can a President preside with approvals in the thirties?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Freedom on the march…

in Basra.
Physicians have been beaten for treating female patients. Liquor salesmen have been killed. Even barbers have faced threats for giving haircuts judged too short or too fashionable. Religion rules the streets of this once cosmopolitan city, where women no longer dare go out uncovered.

"The militias are more powerful than the police," said Saba Shedar, a goldsmith. The man who brings home a bottle of liquor or the woman without a veil both risk beatings, he said. Merchants who kept their shops open well into the night now close at sunset out of fear...."

"The militiamen carry out political assassinations and dole out punishment for alleged religious infractions, residents say.

..."During Saddam, we had the secret police. Now it's coming again. If you say something bad, they shoot you in the night." …
Meet the new boss...

One of these quotes…

…is not like the others.
"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is." - Bush criticizing President Clinton on not setting a timetable for troops in Kosovo, 4/9/99

"I think it's also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn." -- Bush, again critizing Clinton, 6/5/99

"It doesn't make any sense to have a timetable. You know, if you give a timetable, you're conceding too much to the enemy." -- Bush on Iraq, 6/24/05
"Victory means exit strategy."

Words to live by.

Hat tip to Think Progress via Political Wire.

Ya know…

Ya know…

…the legal, ethical and moral issues to the side, this raises some pretty serious doubt about Frist's judgement and ability to handle his own affairs…
In June 2000, Senator Frist took $1 million of the money that had been contributed to his 2000 Senate campaign and invested it in the stock market, where it promptly began losing money. In November 2000, Senator Frist sought to collect $1.2 million he had lent his 1994 Senate campaign committee. As a result of the stock market losses, however, Frist 2000, Inc. did not have enough money to repay the loan. Senator Frist solved this problem by having the 1994 and the 2000 campaign committees jointly take out a $1.44 million bank loan at a cost of $10,000 a month interest. Frist 2000, Inc. did not report this debt on its FEC disclosure forms.
…not to mention pretty serious doubt about a political party that would put a dishonest incompetent in a position of authority.

Maybe 'doubt' isn't the right word, though, since it just goes to confirm so many things I was already pretty sure about...

Heads up…

Reps Conyers, Waters and Lee extend an invitation…
June 24, 2005

Dear Democratic Colleague:

Please join the 'Out of Iraq' Caucus this Tuesday, June 28th for a Special Order hour on the Downing Street Minutes. The Democratic hour for these remarks is scheduled for the second hour of the Special Orders, which will commence immediately after votes for the day have ended...
…and Preemptive Karma has good advice for the rest of us...
Make sure your Congresscritter is attending. Call their office and have them contact the House Judiciary Committee staff:

Phone: 1-877-762-8762

Monday, June 27, 2005

It's all about priorities…

The Carpetbagger clips a gem from the WaPo...
"As you know," Deputy Undersecretary [at the Veterans Health Administration] Laura Miller said on the May 27 call, "many of our facilities, medical centers, CBOCs" — that's community-based outpatient clinics; there are about 850 of them in the country, many in rural areas and some open only one to two days a month — "and [other] offices have a picture of Secretary [Jim] Nicholson prominently displayed.

"Unfortunately, however," Miller continued, "there are many facilities that currently do not have the picture displayed. I am aware that the mailings of the pictures occurred on April 22, 2005." So that's more than five full weeks.

"Dr. Perlin" — that's Jonathan B. Perlin , undersecretary for health, who revealed the $1 billion shortfall after being grilled by committee Chairman Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) — "and I cannot stress the importance of this enough," she said. "We are asking that you give this your highest priority. We will continue to ask for daily updates on the status until we are assured that all of our facilities have a current picture displayed." (my emphasis)
Bushco™ - hate the vets, love the bureaucrats.

Maybe they should hang that commandment about graven images in the VA offices...

In case you missed it...

...Media Matters has the transcript of Franken and Conason's rhetorical dismemberment of Ed Klein.

Fast and furious...

News is pouring out of the Supreme Court today, but I'm working a split so I won't have much comment until later. Chris Woods is updating the rulings as they come in, and it looks like a mixed bag so far (commandments OK on the city hall lawn, out of the courtrooms, for instance). Check it out and comment freely 'til I get back.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A tragedy... time and space.

Fighting liberals...

...striking back.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Welcome to Planet Cheney...

where there's no success like failure.
"We will succeed in Iraq, just like we did in Afghanistan…" Dick Cheney, June 23, 2005

Like this?

Afghan fighting toll mounts...

…or this...

The stability of Afghanistan was being compromised by a worsening security situation and the persistence of drug trafficking, two top UN officials said today.


A perennial problem in Kabul, and in Afghanistan in general, is the state of the roads. They are hardly maintained,...


Taliban rebels have killed a candidate for Afghanistan's provincial council elections and two of his bodyguards, an official and an insurgent source said...


Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, said on Friday that militants from Afghanistan and Pakistan were training for attacks against Russia and...


Maybe someone needs to tell him that failure's no success at all.

I hate to keep asking…

…largely because I don't expect a straight answer, but what's up, Doc?

It looks like a cozy relationship with Preston Gates is only part of the ethics problems confronting the ethics chair…
WASHINGTON — Rep. Doc Hastings, already under fire as chairman of the stalled House ethics committee, accepted a $7,800 trip to England in 2000 from a company he championed for a multibillion-dollar contract at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, records released by an advocacy group yesterday show.

In addition, other records released yesterday by a political Web site show that Hastings, a Republican from Pasco, did not file a required travel report for a 2004 trip to a resort on Stuart Island, B.C. That was paid for by another company also working at Hanford.
The company that sent him to England, BNFL, also shows up as a Hastings campaign contributor, as does at least one of its employees. There may be more to find there...
BNFL won a $6.9 billion federal contract in 1998 to convert 54 million gallons of nuclear waste into glass for permanent storage. The contract was promoted by Hastings, who offered amendments to the Defense Authorization Act to pay for Hanford projects, including BNFL work.

But in October 1998, the General Accounting Office began questioning the contract as too lucrative for the company. Hastings continued to defend the contract.

The trip to the U.K. took place in January 2000. Four months later, the Department of Energy abruptly terminated the BNFL deal when it learned the cost could soar to $15.2 billion.
Guess there must have been a fact or two Doc didn't find.

The trip to B.C. wasn't reported as the law requires, although Hastings' staff insists that it must have been lost in the mail. Or the dog ate it. Or something…

No wonder he's thinking about giving up his chairmanship. Operating below the ethics radar is a tougher chore than the Ethics Chairman seems to be up to. Of course, he's blaming it all on the Democrats, but the Democrats didn't endorse the checks, Doc.

Hey, if you're going to resign as Chair, why stop there? Don't the folks in the 4th deserve an honest and ethical Congressman?

Another Saturday morning...

...and yet another random ten.
Jimmy Buffett - Changes In Latitude, Changes In Attitude
Beth Orton - Central Reservation
Rickie Lee Jones - Bye Bye Blackbifd
Cowboy Junkies - Black Eyed Man
Albert King - Born Under A Bad Sign
Blondie - X-Offender
Black 47 - American Wake
Flying Burrito Brothers - Hot Burrito #2
Megadeath - Breadline
Gene Vincent & The Blue Caps - Race With The Devil
A couple of fairly contemporary (by my standards, anyway) tunes this week, and hardly an embarrasing oldie to be found...

Friday, June 24, 2005

Just because...

...I'm too lazy to track her down, here's a archive edition of the best of the lovely and talented Audrey Hepcat...

After he promised…

…to bring the Downing Street memo to the attention of the US Senate, that Kerry fella got a little heat from some folks who wondered, fairly perhaps, if a bit impatiently, what was taking so long. Today we got the answer when he released a letter to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence calling for an investigation into questions raised by the memo. The delay, apparently, came while he distributed the message among his Democratic colleagues, an effort which added 9 signatures, and raises some even better questions, posed by Salon...
...There are 44 Democrats in the Senate, and Kerry circulated a draft of his letter to the whole lot of them two weeks ago. In the end, he was able to persuade just nine of his colleagues to sign on: Jon Corzine, Tim Johnson, Frank Lautenberg, Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer, Tom Harkin, Jack Reed, Jeff Bingaman and Dick Durbin.

Where are you, Harry Reid? Any reason you didn't sign, Sen. Clinton? And while we wouldn't expect to see a signature from someone like Joe Lieberman on this letter, why don't we see your name there, Sen. Obama?
There's a debate in our Party about the wisdom of nominating US Senators for President, since we've had little success doing so in recent elections. There shouldn't be any debate on this point, IMO - any Senator seeking our nomination should be a signatory to the Kerry letter. For a Democrat, it's as basic as, say, supporting an anti-lynching resolution should be for everyone.

Umm, Mr. President?

You may not think they can 'shake our will,' but you might notice that they're pretty damn good at killing our troops, and show every sign of getting better.

Six more fatalities today bring the monthly toll 67, which brings the average daily toll to it's highest level since April, '04.

Have we even recruited 67 replacements this month? Do the twins have an enlistment contract yet?

Dear President Bush,

In the days following the 9/11 attacks, you movingly spoke of the unity of purpose emanating all across America. Now, Karl Rove, your top political aide, wants us to believe that you weren't telling the truth -- that Americans were offering "therapy and understanding to the attackers." You cannot remain silent as your most senior advisor purposely twists the truth about a great moment of American unity for political gain.

It isn't the first time Karl Rove has crossed the line. It needs to be the last. I call on you to thoroughly reject his cheap, divisive efforts to challenge the patriotism of your political opponents. It's time to fire Karl Rove.

Sign here.

He hate me…

…and you, if you served your country in uniform...
The Bush administration, already accused by veterans groups of seeking inadequate funds for health care next year, acknowledged yesterday that it is short $1 billion for covering current needs at the Department of Veterans Affairs this year.

The disclosure of the shortfall angered Senate Republicans who have been voting down Democratic proposals to boost VA programs at significant political cost. Their votes have brought the wrath of the American Legion, the Paralyzed Veterans of America and other organizations down on the GOP.
Yep, it didn't have to be that way. Patty Murray, senior Senator from the Upper Left, offered up an amendment that would have added $1.9 billion to the VA budget, to fill the billion dollar hole the VA now admits exists for existing services and to begin to meet the increased demand caused by George Bush's elective war. But the Administration fought it and 54 Republican Senators killed it, and here we are.

Steve Robertson of the American Legion says their "policies are inconsistent with a nation at war." True enough.

They're totally consistent, though, with a President who hates soldiers and veterans.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

I may be the last blogger alive…

…to weigh in on Karl Rove's outrageous remarks in New York, and I'm gonna cheat a bit and let (surprise) that Kerry fella speak for me.

Kerry addressed his colleagues on the Senate floor. Lots of great stuff, but I think this is the keeper...
"Karl Rove also said last night, quote: "No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."

"Well, I think a lot more needs to be said about Karl Rove's motives, because they're not the people's motives, and if the President really believed his own words of unity, then he should fire Karl Rove. If the President of the United States knows the meaning of his own words, he should listen to the plea of Kristen Breitweiser, who lost her husband when the Twin Towers came crashing down: she said, "if you're going to use 9/11, use it to make this nation safer than it was on 9/11.

"And that's not being done. If you're going to use 9/11, if you're going to be impassioned about the lives lost on 9/11, then do so by making us safer."

"Karl Rove doesn't owe me an apology, he doesn't owe Democrats an apology, he owes her an apology -- he owes an apology to every one of those families who paid the ultimate price on September 11th.
Light Up The Darkness has the whole thing, It's worth your while…

Quote of the Day

"Isn't it time for you to resign?"

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Gen. John Abizaid announces retirement plans…

…if the pattern holds.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The top American military commander in the Persian Gulf disputed a contention by Vice President Dick Cheney that the Iraqi insurgency was in its "last throes" and told Congress on Thursday its strength was basically undiminished from six months ago.
Credit where it's due. There are no points scored for honesty by Generals in the current corrupt, anti-military administration. This is a gutsy move by an officer with nothing to gain.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Burning his bridges?

Seems to me Tom DeLay is writing off the greater Houston Chamber of Commerce folks...
"You know, if Houston, Texas, was held to the same standard as Iraq is held to, nobody'd go to Houston, because all this reporting coming out of the local press in Houston is violence, murders, robberies, deaths on the highways," DeLay said.
Before the Bugman spilled the beans, I had no idea that Houston's murder, robbery and general mayhem rates were comparable to Baghdad's. Conventioneers take note...

Hat tip to Atrios.

Mazel tov!

A toast to Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown and Anne Gust, who were married on June 18th.

Upper Left wishes great happiness to a great Democrat and his bride.

Well, there's still some tweaking to do...

...but I seem to have enough functionality here to try and sneak through a post or two.

Remember folks, the updates on those spyware and virus filters are very, very important...


Battling a nasty spyware infection and I have to leave for work in a bit, so I may not get back to the blog before this evening, but be assured I'll be back...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A little justice, a little peace...

Too little? Too late? Maybe so, but just the same...

I think of Andy in the cold wet clay
Those three are on my mind
With his comrades down beside him
On that brutal day
Those three are on my mind
There lays young James in his final pain
Those three are on my mind

So I ask the killers can you see those three again
Those three are on my mind
I see dark eyed Michael
With his dark eyed bride
Those three are on my mind
And three proud mothers
Weeping side by side
Those three are on my mind

But I'm grieving yet
And for some the sky is bright
I cannot give up hoping
For a morning light
So I ask the killers do you sleep at night
Those three are on my mind

Oh, yeah…

I promised to talk about Doc. The New York Times, pondering the question 'quis custodiet ipsos custodes,' notes the curious smell at the head of the fish...
With other complaints pending against Mr. DeLay, the new chairman chosen by the G.O.P. leadership, Representative Doc Hastings of Washington, is trying to have his own chief of staff assume a supervisory role in investigations. The last thing Republicans need is another power play by a DeLay loyalist to keep the panel neutered.
From the clumsy attempt to railroad changes to the ethics rules following his elevation to Ethics Committee Chair to this latest example of his fealty to DeLay, Doc Hastings (R-WA), a party line hack at his best, has revealed himself as one of the House Republican's notably unprincipled members. His Chairmanship is a sham, and a shame, and it's no wonder that Democrats shun participation in his charade.

At first glance, one's forced to wonder why Team DeLay would choose to put such a strong focus on their disdain for the House ethics process by making such a patently egregious choice in charge of it, but I see it as part of a larger pattern. It's in the interest of Republicans to foster public contempt for the institutions of government, encouraging citizens to eschew participation in public affairs, including the ballot, in the process. It's part of their general campaign to suppress the vote, and it doesn't even require rigged machines or dishonest elections officials.

It also serves miscreants like DeLay well to foster the idea that 'they all do it,' that you really can't expect anything but liars and swindlers to occupy positions of power in our government. By forcing expectations ever lower, they can extend their corruption ever further without fear of an outcry that might force a full and impartial investigation.

Of course, a full and impartial investigation of Tom DeLay and his minions will never take place in the current circumstances. The Times is right...
It's time for Speaker Dennis Hastert to show some leadership by signaling that the ethics committee has a larger role to play than weighting the scale to favor Mr. DeLay. In the past, committee rules calling for a nonpartisan investigative chief were honored in the high-profile inquiries that dealt with abuses by Speakers Newt Gingrich, a Republican, and Jim Wright, a Democrat.

Nothing less is acceptable now.
Yes, it's time. Past time.

Don't hold your breath.

Quote of the Day

"The church won the 2004 elections and don't let anyone tell you any differently."

Jerry Falwell

Hat tip to Light Up The Darkness.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Condi's latest lie...

...reveals more truth than she may have intended...
... the Administration, I think, has said to the American people that it is a generational commitment to Iraq, but it is not a generational commitment in military terms; it is a commitment of our support to them, our political support, and an understanding that democracy takes time. (my emphasis)
Um, I think not. Not until Madame Secretary piped up, anyway.

The war was going to be quick and cheap, remember? Drive out the dictator, scoop up the WMDs, celebrate with flowers and candy and back to the home front, all on the tab of the Iraqi oil fields. Nothing 'generational' about that.

Of course, no one can even pretend it's going to be quick and cheap anymore, but generational? Decades of military and/or political involvement in the affairs of Iraq (and there seems to be no separation between military and political in the affairs of Iraq)? Who said that?

Even today, in the midst of the qWagmire, the Vice President tells us that our enemies are in their 'last throes,' that the light is barrelling down the tunnel toward us. We're told that the Iraqization program is going full steam ahead, with new Iraqi security forces being steadily cranked out, tens of thousands at a time. So what's with this 'generational' bit?

Looks to me like the set-up to justify those permanent bases Halliburton's building...

Did he say 'bright prospects'?

Yep, I'm back to talk about just how good things look for a Democratic upset in the '06 election cycle. I know the smart money is betting against Speaker Pelosi taking the gavel in January of 2007, but it wouldn't be all that surprising at all, really.

History, after all, is on our side. While the average midterm loss for the President's party since WWII is 25.5 seats, second terms are particularly deadly for incumbents, since the first term average is only 13.3 seats. From a purely historical standpoint, then, a pickup of, 30 or so seats wouldn't be exceptional.

Doubters will point out the effects of gerrymandering, as though that's somehow a new phenomenon, and that there are simply not enough seats in genuine play. As Ruy Teixeira pointed out earlier this year, though, there are 25 "high-risk" districts held by a Republican Member of Congress that lean Democratic in Presidential elections. Any of those could be in play, and all of them should be vigorously challenged.

The vulnerability of House Republicans can be enhanced by a campaign tying them to the catalog of ethical violations, radical destructionist agenda and generally divisive behavior of the Republican leadership. No matter how attractive, how eloquent or how 'moderate' those high-risk Republicans may be, they each have personal responsibility for the elevation of Tom Delay and his destructionist cronies to their positions of power, and for the abuse of that power.

Last week brought more encouraging news, with new polling showing that " seven of the nearly 40 Republican House districts that the DCCC is targeting, showed that no GOP Member registered re-election numbers higher than 43 percent heading into 2006."

Now, that's only seven districts, but more interesting to me is the number of districts already targeted this far out. There have been several signs that the DCCC is putting a more aggressive effort, with exactly the kind of emphasis on the grass roots that Chairman Dean is encouraging in the Party at large (having the best on-line shop in the Party is only part of the DCCC drive, but an important part). There are also signs that it's paying off. Quoting The Hill, Political Wire notes that…
So far, the DCCC "has recruited 19 candidates to challenge incumbents or run for open seats, well ahead of the three candidates the committee had at this time last cycle."
Well ahead, indeed. And another great reason to look forward to '06.

Feel better now?

What a day…

…for a day shift.

I'm filling in as day cook for a couple days, so blogging will be a little irregular. Among the things I'm thinking about, and have every intention of writing more about later on, are the bright prospects for House Democrats, Condi's startling confession and the NYT dissing Doc.

See ya then...

Bob Schieffer may think it's news…

...but it seems that 'Joe Biden wants to be President' is a statement containing exactly no new information.

But hey, he's got as good a chance as he's ever had, I suppose.

As in approximately none.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon...
...Bill Frist is 99% craven opportunist and 1% water/carbon/various minerals.

Quote of the Day

"Things aren't getting better; they're getting worse. The White House is completely disconnected from reality. It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we're losing in Iraq."

Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska)

Joseph Dale...


I miss you every day, Dad.

Happy Father's Day to everyone who is one or has one...

Saturday, June 18, 2005

If it's happening there…

…it's likely happening elsewhere, but even if this problem is isolated to the North Carolina Guard, it's a national disgrace
N.C. National Guard officials say that at least 400 troops are owed an average of $2,000 each, for a total of at least $800,000, but the numbers may be considerably higher.

In addition to their regular pay based on rank, length of service and type of duty, National Guardsmen called to active service are entitled to be reimbursed for authorized travel and living expenses they incur while traveling on official business.
Every commanding officer knows there are three things that have to be taken care of if any kind of unit morale is to be maintained - payroll, mail and chow. Competent commanders, the ones that earn the kind of trust that inspires troops to follow orders into harms way, go to the wall for their men and women to make sure any SNAFU in those areas is corrected quickly and completely. At least, that's what happens when the service of our troops is valued.

While the N.C. Guard and the DoD pass the buck back and forth, these men and women ar repaid for their patriotic sacrifice with neglect and excuses. This problem isn't new, and really, it's not all that surprising. In a bureaucracy the size of the Defense Department, mistakes are made. What's important is that when they're discovered, they're corrected. Immediately. It's the responsibility of those at the top of the chain of command to handle this problem. Does anyone think that this couldn't be solved in a minute by an order from the Secretary of Defense, or a phone call from his boss, the Commander In Chief? Ignorance is no excuse. If a beat reporter in Greensboro knows, everyone in the chain of command should know. The NC Guard command knows what's happening, but they don't know to who or why...
State Guard officials acknowledge that they don't know how many of the about 3,500 N.C. National Guard soldiers who served with the 30th EHSB have not been paid their daily expense money, known as per diem, and their travel allowance, and they're not sure why.
Well, I can suggest a simple answer. George Bush and his immediate subordinates at the DoD must hate our fighting men and women. No one wants to believe it, but their actions (or inaction) in cases like this repeatedly proves it.

When Conservatism Had A Conscience…

"The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in A, B, C, and D. Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of 'conservatism.'"

Barry Goldwater, 1981
Of course, the destructionist fundies running the Republican Party today aren't 'conservative' at all...

Shamelessly lifted from jnfr at Fierce Planet.

Kicking off the weekend...

...with another random ten.
Johnny Cash - In The Jailhouse Now
Rolling Stones - Blue Turns To Grey
Dave Van Ronk - Cocaine
Fats Domino - I'm Ready
Ian Drury & The Blockheads - Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick
Little Eva - Locomotion
Julie London - Cry Me A River
Don & The Goodtimes - Louie, Louie
Merle Haggard - I Think I'll Just Stay Here And Drink
Ian & Sylvia - Early Morning Rain
Sheesh. I really do have some stuff from the last 20 years or so somewhere in that directory. Really.

Friday, June 17, 2005


…more ugly truth.

There have been almost 500 American wounded and 229 American dead, 29 of them since March, on the Afghani front of Bushco's War On (some) Terror, but despite the catchy nickname, the 'freedom' in Afghanistan doesn't seem to be particularly 'enduring'…
KABUL - Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network is regrouping and preparing to bring Iraq-style bloodshed to Afghanistan, the defense minister said Friday, warning his country may face intense violence ahead of key legislative elections this fall.

Recent intelligence indicates the terror organization slipped about half a dozen Arab agents into Afghanistan over the past three weeks, including two who detonated themselves in suicide bombings against a packed mosque and a convoy of U.S. troops, Defense Minister Rahim Wardak told The Associated Press.

"It looks like there has been a regrouping of al-Qaida and they may have changed their tactics not only to concentrate on Iraq but also on Afghanistan," Wardak said in an interview over tea at his wood-paneled office next to the heavily guarded presidential compound.
Of course, they didn't change their tactics to concentrate on Iraq until we invaded there, diverting troops and finances from the search for Osama Been Forgotten.

I was, in general, a supporter of action against the Taliban when they were harboring the al-Qaida leadership, although our commitment was inadequate to begin with and aborted prematurely in favor of the Iraq invasion. It's abundantly clear to our enemies that the Bush administration lacks the will to raise and sustain an army sufficient to wage a multi-front conventional war, turning to a variety of warlords, strongmen, scoundrels and thugs to hold the Islamic fundamentalists at bay in Kabul while the opium traders and their militias run the countryside. If we were to commit the resources we need to truly stabilize, let alone democratize, Afghanistan, our puppet regime in Iraq would quickly collapse. If we transfer our few remaining resources from Afghanistan to Iraq, Kabul would fall as quickly, either to the warlords or a resurgent Taliban.

Meanwhile the combined American death toll for Bush's military adventurism nears 3000 as the alternatives narrow to decades of occupation at an incalculable toll in blood and treasure or withdrawal with the hope that the international community will summon the will to come behind us and clean up the terrible mess we've made in both current arenas of combat.

Support the troops. Bring them home.

Too intent on rest to resist...

...the lovely and talented Miss Audrey Hepcat is captured in repose...

Beyond the good news close to home…

…there's the ugly truth across the sea. Gilliard's take rings true…
The resistance can kill almost anyone, anytime anywhere. They control the highways and make the ride from the airport to the Green Zone the most dangerous on earth. It is safer to drive around the Colombian coca region than it is to drive around Iraq. The government is non-functioning, with the Kurds disappearing anyone they choose, and Shia leaders split between SCIRI and Sadr. So there is no "emboldening" possible. There is no day in which the US could prevent Sadr and 100,000 friends from marching into said Green Zone and declaring a provisional government. If Sistani gave the high sign, it would be done.
Anyone remember a Republican President promising 'peace with honor'? How'd that work out, anyway?

It's time to call saving as many American lives as possible success so we can start bringing the troops home now.

And now for something completely different…

…a little good news.

Survey USA has been polling approval ratings for US Senators, and our Democratic duo from the upper left seems to be doing fine. Patty Murray weighs in with a 56% approval rating, vs a relatively anemic 33% disapproval. Maria Cantwell, gearing up for re-election, has the approval of 55% of Washingtonians, with only 30% disapproving of her first term perfomance.

There's a good bit of demographic and geographic data at the Survey USA site. Among the more notable data points is Patty's 55% approval rating in the presumably bright red eastern Washington region. Since she doesn't have a race to run in '06, it looks like we need to put her in the 5th District, campaigning early and often for our next Democratic challenger.


…the President and every Republican Congresscritter should be aboard for this one...
WHEREAS, the College Republican membership has always fully supported the war in Iraq;

WHEREAS, we have encouraged the notion that the degree of one's patriotism is directly proportional to their support for the war;

WHEREAS, by word, by deed and by support of Ann Coulter, David Horowitz, and Michelle Malkin we have decreed that dissent against the war is the equivalent of treason;

WHEREAS, the military continually falls far short of meeting its recruitment needs resulting in a manpower crisis;

The College Republicans organization is officially disbanded until the end of the war;

The College Republicans membership immediately volunteer for military service as infantrymen.
The line forms behind the Bush twins...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

From the "I wish I'd written that" file...

...the Bush administration had so little international support for the Iraqi war that their "coalition of the willing" meant the U.S., Britain, and the equivalent of a child's imaginary friends.
Paul Rogat Loeb at Smirking Chimp

Dear George,

"Within 30 days of the enactment of this legislation, Congress expects an accounting from you as to what the strategy for success is. What are the security and political measures that you are putting forth that can lead us to bring our troops home?"

Love, Nancy
…and me...

...and you too?

Sorry Dave…

…the knife won't come out.

As noted last month, freshman Republican stabbed his former colleagues in law enforcement in the back, voting to kill the COPS program, which he tapped for more than $15 million in his days as King County Sherrif. One notable beneficiary of the dollars was the Green River Killer investigation, which made Reichert a crime busting celebrity of sorts and helped launch his partisan political career.

Perhaps he thought his hypocrisy would go unnoticed, but it was just a bit too blatant to hide, and now Reichert's backtracking, attempting a last minute hail Mary on the House floor in a vain effort to restore some of the funding he had already voted to cut.

Naturally, the GOP leadership isn't having any of it. They've already picked the constituencies that will prosper under the new budget, and Reichert's police pals (are they still his pals?) aren't among them. No real profit in police work, I guess.

Astonishingly, the Seattle Times' Alicia Mundy managed to crank out nearly 1000 words under the Orwellian headline "Dave Reichert Goes to Bat for Police" about Reichert's failure to restore the funds and never mentioned his success at getting them cut in the first place. Reichert comes across sounding like an innocent bystander who just showed up and found the budget cut rather than a the loyal minion to the destructionist Republican leadership that he's quickly proven to be.

In fairness, the Times piece reveals his complete ineptitude as a legislator, too, so I don't imagine a resume to his PR shop is in Mundy's future, even if her latest work seems like a press release from his office…

Hat tip to Cool Aqua

Quote of the Day…

…at least the more or less polite part from The Rude Pundit
...when Deputy Attorney General J. Michael Wiggins told the Senate Judiciary Committee, in answer to a question from Joe Biden, that, regarding inmates at the prison at Guantanamo Bay, "It's our position that, legally, they can be held in perpetuity" was the moment that the zombie corpses of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams should have burst into the chamber and ripped the head off the government stooge...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Bubbling scandal?

While the McMansions popping up on land taxed out of agriculture from coast to coast sell for record prices to speculators and the favored few, more and more regular folks find themselves forced out of the housing market without resort to a variety of risky financing schemes. The steady increase in values and the declining ability of the public to pay the price through conventional financing is part of the background for talk of a housing bubble

Still, everyone wants in, because as we all know, you just can't lose money in real estate, right?

Well, that brings us to this weeks entry in the

Maybe Mitchell Wade thought real estate was a sure bet, but...

WASHINGTON – A defense contractor with ties to Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham took a $700,000 loss on the purchase of the congressman's Del Mar house while the congressman, a member of the influential defense appropriations subcommittee, was supporting the contractor's efforts to get tens of millions of dollars in contracts from the Pentagon.
… maybe it didn't matter, because…
Wade, who had been suffering through a flat period in winning Pentagon contracts, was on a tear – reeling in tens of millions of dollars in defense and intelligence-related contracts.
Of course, regardless of Mitchell Wade's sad experience with the San Diego resale market, there's still money to be made through prudent investment. Just ask the senior Senator from Alaska…

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) made $822,000 last year from the sale of a controversial real estate investment with an Anchorage developer who had obtained a huge federal contract with his help, records show.

In 1997, Stevens invested $50,000 with developer Jonathan B. Rubini. Last year, at Stevens' request, Rubini and his partner bought back the senator's interests in their deals for $872,000, according to Senate financial disclosure forms made public Tuesday.
Good luck? Smart choices?

I say it stinks of scandal.

Speaking of deals…

Noting that Tom Friedman's likely not the only one to hold the preposterous notion that...
"Liberals don't want to talk about Iraq because, with a few exceptions, they thought the war was wrong and deep down don't want the Bush team to succeed."
…I'd argue that liberals can hardly stop talking about Iraq. We just can't say much that Tom Friedman and the "we must win!" faction want to hear. Part of that's the fault of the relentlessly bad news generated by the occupation, of course, but part of it's simply a matter of confusion about what 'success' for the Bush team is.

It's really one of the first questions you have to ask when going to battle, isn't it? What does victory look like? That's been a moving target, redefined every time one or another rationale for war has crumbled under public scrutiny.

OK, then, let's just say that Saddam Hussein was undoubtedly an evil ruler, and that while the price in blood and treasure has been high, removing him was a sufficient goal, well accomplished?

OK, I'll buy that. But I need a little something back. How 'bout an agreement to start standing down the National Guard immediately, followed by all components of the Reserves, culminating in reposting all of our active duty military to stations outside Iraq?

In other words, George, if you say you've won and bring the troops home now, I'll give you credit for for catching the bad guy and I'll hardly even gloat about your abject failure to impose democracy by distinctly non-democratic means.


Has Joe Biden slipped out of the tent?

The latest round of Biden bashing seems to have started with David Sirota. As he rightly points out, progressive Democrats have more than a few bones to pick with Senator Biden lately. After all, he...
...led the fight to pass the bankruptcy bill, voted against limiting the interest credit card companies can gouge consumers with, voted against limiting predatory lending, voted against protecting consumers when their identity is stolen, voted for the Iraq War and voted to confirm Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Apparently, though, none of those was enough to start up a drum roll for Biden's banishment from respectable Party circles. Nope, that took the ultimate sin, criticism of Howard Dean. Steve Gilliard's more specific...
Let me explain this slowly: if you go after Dean, people will go after you. Why? Because you have failed. Biden has failed repeatedly to defend the principles of the party...
I agree that Biden's continued protestations that Dean doesn't speak for him are hardly helpful, providing continued distraction from far more important policy questions. Of course, from Joe's standpoint, he might argue that he's trying to preserve some independence from the Chairman since he fancies himself (not, I understand, without justification) a significant dealmaker in a hostile environment, and preservation of some relationships among the majority is important to him in that role.

Still, I wish he'd shut up. His repetitious pomposity is as boring as Joe Lieberman's whiny sanctimony. By now, I think everyone who cares knows that Howard Dean doesn't speak for Joe Biden. So shut up, Joe.

Still, it's really no more helpful to attack and discredit a Democratic Senator who will, for better or worse, doubtless continue to be a regular booking on the Sunday shows, who will be solicited for comment by the national media and who will be seen by the general public as every bit as much a spokesman for the Democratic Party as Howard Dean.

It's especially unhelpful to base those attacks on the misguided attempt to canonize Dean and shield him from any possible critique. Sirota offers a bargain…
Is it a deal, Joe? We won't speak for you, as long as you never, ever try to claim your record is representative of us.

Well, what is that record, anyway? I hopped over to Project Vote Smart to see just what Joe might have done for us lately. Here are some recent ratings…
NARAL 100%
ACLU 86%
NAACP 100%
NEA 90%
League Of Conservation Voters 92%
AFL-CIO 100%
Americans For Democratic Action 95%
Gee, if that's not representative of the Democratic Party in general, it probably errs to the left a bit. Despite his uncomfortably close ties to the financial services industry, leading to several of the recent missteps in Sirota's list, the National Journal found that...
in 2004, Senator Biden voted more liberal on economic policy issues than 93 percent of the Senators.
I've got to think that meets most standards of mandatory purity for a Democratic Senator.

Is Joe Biden an imperfect progressive? No doubt. Could we all stand to hear a lot less of him? Well, I certainly could. Is he the enemy? Hardly.

I'm proud to be a member of a political party big enough to embrace Howard Dean and Joe Biden (actually, that's not a very vast span). They're both human, and hence flawed, and it's fair to call them to account for those flaws when they seem to hinder our efforts. It's also important, though, to remember that they're both Democrats and equally worthy of credit for their good efforts on our behalf in their respective arenas.

Now, can we save the purge talk until we've got, oh, 85 or so Democratic Senators?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Because I know…

…that your day isn't complete without some news about that Kerry fella, there's this...
"There's a reason CAFTA is in trouble. There's a reason why so many long time trade supporters oppose it today. It's a bad agreement."
For me, Kerry's standing as a Clintonian free-trader was always one of the less attractive parts of his record, so I'm pleased by this forthright stand, and by his obvious ability to learn from past mistakes and change course accordingly, further evidenced by the AFL-CIO supported Kerry Amemdment, which would put labor and environmental standards into CAFTA that would protect American jobs and everyone's planet.

How bad are they?

How bad are they?

WASHINGTON (AP) - If there is a Supreme Court vacancy this summer, President Bush may look no farther than the Capitol for a member of Congress who can be confirmed quickly. Past presidents have done it, more than two dozen times.

While admittedly long shots, GOP Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona and John Cornyn of Texas are being talked up by some conservatives as possible nominees for the high court.
Kyl and Cornyn. Funny how those names keep popping up today...

Twenty two Senate Republicans (out of fifty five) decided to cosponsor anti-lynching legislation... as compared to 38 out of 45 Democrats. Yep, that's right. A full forty percent of Republicans in the Senate wanted to go on record as being strongly opposed to lynching blacks!

When it became too late to be a sponsor, and it became obvious that the legislation would pass, even more legislators signed a document indicating their support for the legislation.

Several members of the Senate did not sign this document or sponsor the legislation, however.

They include:

Jim Bunning (R - Kentucky)
Conrad Burns (R- Montana)
Saxby Chambliss (R - Georgia)
Thad Cochran (R - Mississippi)
John Cornyn (R- Texas)
James Inhofe (R- Oklahoma)
Johnny Isakson (R - Georgia)
Jon Kyl (R- Arizona)
Trent Lott (R - Mississippi)
Mitch McConnell (R- Kentucky)
Jeff Sessions (R- Alabama)
Richard Shelby (R - Alabama)
Apparently they're bad enough to think the best of their worst...

Monday, June 13, 2005

Krugman's right…

...The Clinton plan actually preserved a big role for private insurers; the industry attacked it all the same. And the plan's complexity, which was largely a result of attempts to placate interest groups, made it hard to sell to the public. So I would argue that good economics is also good politics: reformers will do best with a straightforward single-payer plan, which offers maximum savings and, unlike the Clinton plan, can easily be explained.

We need to do this one right. If reform fails again, we'll be on the way to a radically unequal society, in which all but the most affluent Americans face the constant risk of financial ruin and even premature death because they can't pay their medical bills.
Single payer is the only health care alternative that makes sense financially, medically and socially, and it's the only one with an existing, identifiable constituency. That's why the Clinton plan was a foolishly undertaken setback for universal health care in the United States, and why it's important for the Party leadership to get behind something like the late, great McDermott/Wellstone plan.

As a middle class American who can't afford health insurance and can't access poverty-based programs, this one's personal, but we are legion...

While the Chairman graciously declined comment…

…Kickin' Ass lives up to it's name in responding to the vile Veeps attack on Dr. Dean...
"I've never been able to understand his appeal. Maybe his mother loved him, but I've never met anybody who does. He's never won anything, as best I can tell."
As the DNC blog points out
...leaving aside his unanimous election as DNC Chairman in February, Howard Dean has won more elections than Dick Cheney — including five terms as Governor in a state 20% larger by population than Wyoming, where Cheney was elected to the U.S. House.
And the sumbitch is talking about Howard's mama! All bets are off...

There's lots to talk about…

…in Newsweek's piece on Chairman Dean's recent, ahem, visibility. My concern, for instance, about his tendency to let other voices be drowned out by the chorus of his most fervent loyalists is born out somewhat by this…
...Dean's real problem may not be his mouth but his mind-set. He and his aides seemed genuinely mystified at the idea that his characterization of the GOP was a political mistake.
Howard, sometimes your best friends won't tell you, but please remember, we're all friends (and that's advice those of us with reservations about some of the Chairman's statements should bear in mind, too. He's on our side, regardless). Remember, too, that few things are more valuable than an aide who will (and feels they can) say no.

On the other hand, Chris Bowers pins the best news...
As a fund-raiser--the first duty of a party chairman and Dean's claim to fame in '04--he isn't quite the disaster some critics suggest. Early in the last "cycle," in 2001, the Republican National Committee outraised the DNC by a 3-1 margin. So far this year, that ratio has been cut to 2-1. More important is the way it was raised. In the past the party relied on "soft money" from millionaires. But such donations are now illegal. Officials esti-mate that $12 million of the $14 million the Dean regime has collected so far this year has come from those who gave less than $250. "For people who really look hard at the numbers, he's wowing people," says Elaine Kamarck, a respected DNC member.
…bolstering my hopes for Howard's attempt to change the fundraising culture of the DNC.

I've mentioned my experience with Brown '92. There was something incredibly empowering about the $100 contribution limit. It drew out people who had never thought about giving to a campaign, because they never thought they could make a meaningful contribution. When we told them that for a hundred bucks they'd be as vested as the highest rollers in Gucci Gulch, they lined up to give, usually to the max. It wasn't just egalitarian, but effective. Jerry wasn't going to get much boardroom cash anyway, and PACs were off the table. The contribution limit, along with the 800 number, was a major reason we were competetive at all, anywhere, against the power of the legendary Clinton Rolodex.

So, with that experience in mind, and with the numbers show above, a not so modest suggestion. Cap the contributions to the DNC. Make it $250, and find out how many people will by a full share in the Democratic Party for twenty bucks a month and a small holiday bonus. Could it be a way to attract a million new donors? More? Would it be a disaster, quickly (possibly too quickly) abandoned?

I dunno.

But if anyone in the Party could make it work, I've got to think it's Howard Dean, and if he could do it, it would be worth doing. Done right, it would be the right thing to do for a democratic Democratic Party.



Works for me...

Be the first one on your block...

The General has congrats and a question for Hindrocket.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Speaking of…

…that Kerry fella and the Swift Boat Liars For Bush, one of the most persistent myths about the 2004 campaign is that John Kerry failed to respond to the attacks on his military service.

In fact, Kerry saw it coming all along (O'Neill's attacks had been a consistent part of Kerry's political life for over thirty years) and much of the campaign - bringing Kerry's old crew and others like Jim Rassman, whose rescue from the Mekong brought Kerry his Silver Star, on the campaign trail, for instance - was designed to pre-empt those attacks. When they came, the response was strong and consistent. If it was ineffective, blame a compliant press who was willing to give uncritical coverage to the outlandish fables of the Swift Boat Liars.

Don't believe it? Well, Sandy at Light Up The Darkness did the homework, putting the response to the Liars August 4th ad under the microscope. Here's a summary of her findings...
August 4 - the Swift Boat Liars released a new ad.

August 5 - Senator John McCain (R-AZ), "a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, called the ad criticizing John Kerry's military service 'dishonest and dishonorable' and urged the White House on Thursday to condemn it as well."

August 4 through August 19 - the campaign relied on the news media, surrogates and 700 letters to the editor to discredit the charges, including Carville taking on O’Neill on Crossfire on August 12.

August 19 - Kerry told the IAFF convention "They're a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the president won't denounce what they're up to tells you everything you need to know: he wants them to do his dirty work.”

The campaign releases Rassmann ad, "All these Viet Cong were shooting at me. I expected I'd be shot. When he pulled me out of the river, he risked his life to save mine."

August 21 - The campaign released the internet ad “Old Tricks” and a statement asserting, in part, that "A front group for the Bush campaign called "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" is continuing to spread their lies about John Kerry's military record. Their statements have been contradicted by official Navy records, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune and every man who served under John Kerry -- yet George Bush refuses to condemn their tactics. Through his silence, George Bush is approving their action. And Bush campaign officials in Florida are even promoting events for this front group."

August 25 - Max Cleland attempted to deliver a letter to George Bush asking “where is his shame to attack a fellow veteran who has distinguished himself in combat?"
Gee, sounds like a pretty rapid, forceful response to me...and George Bush still hasn't condemned that viscious attack on an American hero...


You haven't signed the Conyers letter yet?

So, what are you waiting for? It's right here.

Just in case…

…you won't take Commander Hernandez' word for it…
A top official at the national repository for military personnel files confirmed yesterday that the full record of the Navy service of Senator Kerry, a Democrat of Massachusetts, was sent to the Navy to prepare responses to requests from Mr. Kerry and others for his service history. “We have sent the original file to the Navy,” the director of archival programs at the National Personnel Records Center, Bryan McGraw, said in an interview yesterday.
"...the full record.."

As in everything they've got. The whole enchilada. The entire story of John Kerry's distinguished, heroic military service.

So shut up.

Uh oh...

WASHINGTON - Howard Dean said Saturday that positive responses from supporters have reinforced his determination to keep talking tough despite suggestions from some congressional Democrats that the party chairman should tone down his rhetoric.
Umm, Howard? There's no doubt that anything you say is going to be greeted with a flood of adoring emails and the encouragement of cheering crowds. You have one hell of a fan base, there's no doubt about that.

But remember, those were the folks who told you the Iowa concession speech was great, too, because you fired up your base and took it to the other guys. So, how'd that work out for you?
"People want us to fight," Dean told the national party's executive committee. "We are here to fight."
Damn straight. Fight. Fight like hell. But please, fight a little smarter. That's all I'm saying. Kevin Drum is right about this...
I don't want Dean to go over a cliff with this kind of stuff, but his reputation as a straight shooter allows him to say things that other people are only thinking, and his role as party chairman forces the press to pay attention.
I hope he's right about this, too...
This is a good thing.
...and he may well be. But as DNC Chair, Dean's responsible to more than his DFA base and the liberal blogosphere. The Congressional Democrats and other Democratic elected around the country are an important constituency, too, ignored at the peril of the Chairman and the Party.

Fight hard, Howard, but fight smart.

On the other hand, what's up with this?
"Privately, people have said they don't want Howard Dean to become the story because we have more important issues to talk about," said Donna Brazile, who managed Al Gore's presidential campaign in 2004.

"But publicly we will continue to give Howard Dean our strong support," she said.
Conversations with AP reporters aren't private, Donna. You just dissed the Chairman in front of a very large public audience. I don't know if Ms. Brazile is a liar or a fool, but can't somebody make her go away?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

I wish I'd written this…

…but since I didn't, I'm glad John Cory did.
The Bush GOP is a Wal-Mart of five-and-dime ethics, self-enriching corporate sponsored war, imitation morality made in China, and a fresh baker's dozen of half-truths for every occasion. America on sale: to the right folks in the right place at the right time for the right price. Going once, going twice ...
Great stuff, that.

He wrote more, too, and Smirking Chimp's got the whole thing...

A little more fun...

...with today's random 10.
Elizabeth Cotten - Freight Train
The Leaves - Hey Joe
Rodney Crowell - Ballad Of A Teenage Queen
Jesus & Mary Chain - I Love Rock N' Roll
Joni Mitchell - Last Time I Saw Richard
Herman's Hermits - Silhouettes
Steve Earle - Ashes To Ashes
The Wailers - Out Of Our Tree
Tommy Castro - Had Enough
The Drifters - This Magic Moment
A couple guilty pleasures in there, but the Earle>Wailers>Castro run works particularly well...

Got me!

OK, Diane from Tough Enough (and Upper Left comments and guest blogging fame) has tagged me with one of those infernal blog memes...
How Many Books Do You Own? More than I used to, but not as many as I will.

Last Book Bought: Three at once - Robert Reich's Reason, Todd Gitlin's Letters To A Young Activist and Like Young, mostly jazz criticism by Francis Davis.

Last Book Read: The last round of purchases are still in progress. The last one finished was John Perkin's Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man, highly recommended, if somewhat scary.

Five Books that Meant A Lot: Hmmm, only five?

OK, first some stuff from the literature shelf…

Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerouac. Deciphering the real-life identities of the characters and looking at their own work introduced me to the world of beat literature, especially the poetry, and expanded my consciousness as much as any chemical could.

Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me, by Richard Farina. The campus life I wish I'd lived.

Confederacy Of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole. The back story alone, involving a tragic end, a devoted mother and a posthumous Pulitzer, offers hope to every frustrated author. The story is insanely magnificent, or magnificently insane, or…it's a great story, told brilliantly.

Rules For Radicals, by Saul Alinsky. Because you can't win the game if you don't know the rules.

The Tanakh, by G_d. Because.
You know, Diane's right. That was kind of fun. Now I guess I'm supposed to pass it along…so how 'bout it, Carl? And maybe the Carpetbagger has something to share…

Update: Carl takes the bait.

Listen up...

...and then shut up.
...the Navy spokesman, Commander Hernandez, said the latest release does include the papers from St. Louis. "It's the whole record."
The whole record of an honorable, heroic Naval officer's service.

Enough already from the haters of America's combat vets. No more.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Everybody needs a little slack…

…and few in Democratic circles need it more than DNC Chairman Howard Dean does right now. Whatever you want to call some of his latest remarks about Republicans (the leadership, he says, but the brush sure seemed wider to many), they've fueled the wingnut propaganda machine, providing a needless distraction from important legislative and electoral battles that should be our main focus.

Then there's the fundraising. Josh Holland passes along this from The Hill...
Three top fundraisers at the Democratic National Committee have resigned at a time when its chairman, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, has come under fire from fellow Democrats for controversial comments and his Republican counterpart has raised more than twice as much money.

Democratic sources link the resignations to Dean's decision to focus on raising money in small increments through the Internet, as he did during his 2004 presidential bid, and building up the party's grassroots infrastructure while paying little attention to major Democratic donors…
If you've got any slack to spare, slip some to Howard while he gets his fundraising house in order. It sounds like there's a sea change coming for the DNC money shop, and there's tremendous potential there if Dean steers the right course.

Of all the campaigns I've worked on over the years, Jerry Brown's 1992 primary bid is among my personal favorites for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the groundbreaking effort in grassroots fundraising that was central to the campaign. Trying to fund a Presidential campaign with a self imposed $100 contribution limit and a toll free telephone number seemed hopelessly Quixotic at the outset, but at end we had raised nearly $5 million, a decent figure in those days, and only Bill Clinton's seemingly impregnable windmill could dull our lances.

The lesson of the power of small dollar, grassroots fundraising wasn't lost on one veteran of the Brown campaign, Joe Trippi, and he brought his enthusiasm for the concept along with the new technological possibilities of the internet to the Howard Dean campaign and proved, once again, that there was unrealized potential among rank and file Democrats and progressives, many of whom had never made a contribution to a Presidential campaign before, because few campaigns had made the help of people with $20, $50 or $100 so central to its focus.

In addition to the money raised, these new donors, both to Brown and Dean, seemed vested in the campaigns to a degree that seemed to some inordinate to their relatively modest financial investments. Highlighting the importance of small donors was a critical factor in building grassroots organizations, and right now the national Democratic Party needs to build that kind of grassroots organization, creating a new fabric of partisan identity and solidarity in every region, every state, every town. A well developed small donor strategy, supported by contemporary technology, may be a key, even a necessary, element in rebuilding our Party.

There's evidence that it's working on the financial front. Although our coffers aren't as swollen as those at GOP headquarters, it's important to remember that, according to Media Matters... DNC chairman, Dean raised $14.8 million between February and April 2005 -- roughly a 74 percent increase from the same period in 2003, the previous non-election year. Additionally, over that same three-month period, the DNC has raised more money in 2005 in comparison to the Republican National Committee than it did in 2003.
What we need are people who will give $100 and walk a precinct, give $20 and wave a sign, give $10 and their heart to the Party. They're the ones that will spread the word, produce the victory, hell, save the world. And those high dollar fundraisers? Well, think about this snip from The Hill...
Democratic fundraisers say that there is growing concern over what they call Dean's lack of attention to major donors and that donors are much less likely to give money if they don't have sufficient opportunity to meet with the party's leadership.
Those folks aren't about supporting principles, they're about buying access. The less they buy, the more the rest of us will have. That's not a bad thing, provided the plan is in place to pick up the financial slack.

The models exist. Lessons have been learned. The technology's never been better. Developing and implementing the right plan will be the key to Dean's ultimate success as Chair, and that, more than anything he says or how he says it, is the basis on which he should be judged.

Although the early returns are actually promising, contrary to the popular wisdom of the corporate media, it's still too soon to pass that judgment. Until judgment day arrives (and it surely will), there's slack available from this outpost...

OK then... she is...or was, the last time the sun was shining, and we were home, and the camera was handy, and the lovely and talented Miss Audrey Hepcat decided to sit still for a minute, and...

...well, you can see how hard this is sometimes.

Even the so-called liberal media…

…gets it right once in a while, and when it happens, it's often as not E.J. Dionne making it happen. I could pick at some of the sub-points in his latest WaPo column, but in the main, he's spot on...
...dissing Kerry is an easy way for Democrats to evade discussion of what the party needs to do to right itself. By focusing on the past, the Kerry alibi allows Democrats to avoid engaging the future. In 2008, the Democrats could nominate a candidate who combines Harry Truman's toughness, JFK's charm and FDR's gifts of leadership -- and still face many of the problems Kerry confronted. Blaming everything on Kerry as a supposedly elitist, stiff and indecisive Massachusetts liberal is the Democrats' version of cheap grace.
We nominated the best candidate available last year, and he was buried in a flood of misinformation from the most crooked, lying bunch of politicians and operatives in the business, abetted by their handmaidens in the national press. None of his primary competitors could have avoided an assault, and I don't think any of them could have weathered it better.

All along, Bushco and their media pals were aided by anti-Kerry carping among certain factions of what passes for a 'progressive' movement who have never stopped. Continuing to tear John Kerry down does nothing to enhance a progressive agenda, or to improve our electoral prospects. In fact, the reverse is true.

It's destructive, it's boring, it's time to knock it off.

Quote of the Day

via Political Wire
"You can't ignore the Senate. We've told them what we've wanted. The ball is in his court. If they want John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations, give us this information. If they don't, there will be no Bolton."

Harry Reid, Senate Democratic Leader
Sic 'em, Harry!


US Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Sec. 8 (g):

"The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature."

What part of "never" don't you understand, man? Might as well use a match...

Hat tip to lefty.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Irresponsible, fruitless, whiny, radical…

…etc, etc.

George Howland seems to hit most all the right notes in his post-mortem on the recent unpleasantness in Wenatchee for the Seattle Weekly
On Monday, June 6, after seven months of irresponsible rhetoric and fruitless litigation by his lawyers and spinmeisters, Rossi finally ended his bid for the governorship. He did not, however, take personal responsibility for his headline-grabbing, whiny, and expensive litigation. Instead, Rossi took a page out of the playbook of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, making an ad hominem attack on the integrity of the state's highest court. It was as baseless as the rest of his legal arguments and should serve as a reminder that Rossi is deeply wedded to the radical right-wing agenda emanating from D.C.
He comes up with the money quote from Seattle U. law professor John Strait, too...
"I'm not sure that the Republicans ever thought they would reverse the results of the election. This was an organizing tool for them."
...a valuable reminder that this victory isn't truly consolidated until Rossi's next loss, and then offers some useful background for my outrage over the slimy partisan attack on the State Supreme Court.
...the state Supreme Court has a deserved centrist reputation in legal circles and has acted in an exemplary fashion during this season of election discontent. In December, the court made two key rulings in the gubernatorial election challenge. Both were unanimous. One favored the Democrats and Gregoire, the other supported Rossi and the Republicans. The truth is such fairness and independence is precisely what Rossi and the Republicans hope to eliminate from the judiciary.
Good stuff from a usually reliable source. Don't take my word for it. Read the whole thing.

The path to success…

…is undertaken one step at a time, and it seems that the Army recruiting command has picked an intriguing first step - reduce your goals to accommodate your diminished performance...
Early last month, the Army, with no public notice, lowered its long-stated May goal to 6,700 recruits from 8,050. Compared with the original target, the Army achieved only 62.6 percent of its goal for the month.
Of course, a little over-confidence and it's back to the drawing board…
Even after reducing its recruiting target for May, the Army missed it by about 25 percent…
Anybody feel a draft?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Ehh, What's Up Doc?

NYT, via The Stakeholder...
Newly disclosed lobbying records and other documents show that the chairman of the House ethics committee, Doc Hastings, a Washington State Republican, has had a close relationship for years with lobbyists at the Seattle-based law firm that is at the center of ethics accusations involving Tom DeLay, the House majority leader.
Yep, that's Preston Gates & Ellis, Jack Abramoff's old stomping grounds, which was the first Upper Left entanglement in this ongoing saga of Republican corruption. Of course...
The records do not show any direct contact between Mr. Hastings and Mr. Abramoff; the contacts were always with others in Mr. Abramoff's lobbying operation.
Ah, Mr. Abramoff's lobbying operation. That's much better now, isn't it.

Of course, there's the question of Doc's involvement in one of the nastier byways of Tom Delay's highway of corruption, the 'Made In America' sweatshops of Saipan...
...Preston Gates pressed Mr. Hastings and his staff several years ago for help on behalf of Mr. Abramoff's most important lobbying client at the time, the government of the Northern Mariana Islands, a small American commonwealth in the Pacific, in blocking the imposition of the federal minimum wage on the islands' clothing factories; human rights groups have long described the factories as sweatshops.
And they weren't just talking to him. In the end, it all comes down to following the money...
Federal Election Commission records show that the firm and its partners have been consistent campaign contributors to Mr. Hastings, donating more than $14,000 since he entered Congress a decade ago, $1,000 of that from Mr. Abramoff.
Ethics Chair, huh? What's up with that, Doc?

Words mean things…

…and it's pretty clear that Dennis Hastert has no idea what the word 'scandal' means...
"Last week's scandal was Deep Throat. This week's scandal was Dean's throat…"
Deep Throat? All the juicy bits of that were rung out decades ago, Denny, and as for Dr. Dean, well the truth isn't always welcome, and it may not always be presented with grace, but it's never a scandal.

Nope, this is a scandal, one fitting for the

Remember the brouhaha around the $23 billion dollar leasing agreement between the Air Force and Boeing for some refueling aircraft that critics claimed were neither needed nor suitable?

It seemed to have been largely written off as a matter of collusion between Pentagon civilians and the Boeing executive suite in Chicago (and some related scandal about cross-pollination between the two) but recent reporting in the Washington Post on the heels of an departmental IG report that casts a wider net, reaching the White House itself. In fact, Bush seems to have applied the personal pressure required to close the deal...
The Pentagon's leadership agreed to back the project last year despite objections from a few members of Congress and initially the Office of Management and Budget, after President Bush personally asked his aides to work out a deal, according to a senior administration official and internal Boeing communications unearthed in a congressional investigation.

How deep is the scandal? How overt was the quid pro quo between the avaricious fund-raiser Bush and the deep pockets of Boeing? We do know that the Chicago company has long been a generous contributor to Republican campaigns, and that the last cycle was not exception, topped off with a healthy contribution to Bush's inauguration, generally viewed as an excessively lavish spectacle for a country whose Army is at war. The final answer about how deeply entrenched the Bush administration, already among, if not the, the most scandal ridden in our nation's history, in yet another story has been carefully excised from the record...
In the copy of the report obtained by The Washington Post, 45 sections were deleted by the White House counsel's office to obscure what several sources described as references to White House involvement in the lease negotiations and its interaction with Boeing. The Pentagon separately blacked out 64 names and many e-mails. It also omitted the names of members of Congress, including some who pressured the Pentagon to back the deal.
In fairness, I admit that if those Congress members were named, I'd fully expect folks I support and admire among them, including Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Norm Dicks, and likely more. They, of course, have a local interest. The Pentagon's in D.C. and Boeing is in Chicago, but the jobs are right here in the Upper Left, and while we expect the Executive branch, via DoD, to cut the very best deal possible on the very best gear available for our fighting forces, we expect our representatives in the legislative branch to fight like hell for our jobs. It's part of the give and take of governance.

The Executive branch, of course, is exempt from such parochial considerations. The President is the only officer of government elected nationally in his own right. As such, he is responsible only to the national interest, which in this case seems to have been suborned to financial interests, and that's a scandal.

Hey, prove me wrong! Release the 45 sections and all the names. Bet our guys can take the heat. Bet yours can't...

As usual...

...the Carpetbagger Report says it about as well as it can be said...
I'm not prepared to blame Dean, but I believe it's up to him to make this situation better before it becomes an even greater distraction.
I don't think it's particularly useful for Democratic elected officials to distance themselves from the DNC Chair, but I don't think it's particularly useful for the Chair to put them in a position where the question would even arise.

That's one of the reasons I didn't support Dean's bid for the Chair. I didn't think that his reputation for, ahem, rhetorical flourish would serve him well in the position, and I thought that would ultimately be a disservice to all of us. It was the judgement of most of the voting members of the DNC that I was wrong.

So we've got what we've got, and we might as well get with the program. That doesn't mean a free pass for the Chairman. Unity doesn't require uniformity, and I'm sure that there will be times when Dean will deserve a woodshed session. It does mean, thought, that it's for Democrats to realize that we've got exactly what we bargained for. As the Carpetbagger says...
If anyone's surprised that Dean has a proclivity for provocative remarks about Republicans, they haven't been paying attention. His passion is what led so many people to like him in the Dem primaries in late 2003, and his aggressive style is exactly what helped him get the DNC chairmanship's job in the first place. We hired a pugilist; it's foolish to ask him to refrain from taking a swing now and then.

The question, of course, is how Dean should target those punches and what other Dems are going to do when a stray punch lands below the belt.
Ah. The question.

It's a good one.

Here's hoping Howard comes up with some good answers soon.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

In case you'd forgotten...

The president's tax policy gives more to the richest of the rich at the expense of everyone else.
George Bush and the D.C. Republicans don't care about you.

(Unless, of course, you are one of the richest of the rich, in which case, hit the tip jar, wouldja?

Speaking of ginned up controversies…

John Edwards ties the wagging tongues in knots, coming out with a strong statement contradicting the notion that he's distancing himself from Chairman Dean...
...all Democrats and all working people - should be complaining, criticizing, and generally speaking out about this critical failure of the Republican party and offering our positive vision for America. And we have.

Howard and I have been saying the same thing about this for years. Hear that? The same thing. For years. (my emphasis)
Edwards said that Howard Dean is not the spokesman for the Democratic Party. That's true enough. It's also true that Dean is a spokesman for the Party (if not always among our most, ahem, judicious). Edwards, too, as a veteran of our national ticket, is a spokesman. So, for that matter, am I, as a Party officer and a rank and file activist.

There are a lot of spokesmen, a lot of voices in the Democratic choir. We each have our own part, our own set of notes, but in the end, we're all singing from the same page and the lyrics are very clear. Sing along...

Hat tip to Kicking Ass