Wednesday, May 31, 2006

OK, then.

David Postman solves the riddle of Jack McGavick's transcontinental matriculation at his new blog...
Jack, McGavick's eldest son from his first marriage, graduates from high school out of state.
Fair enough. Ours is a blended family with kin across state lines, too, so I understand how those things happen, and how challenging they can be to manage.

Still, you'd think that one of a handful of targeted GOP Senate campaigns would inspire some calendar flexibility from the White House if the candidate really wanted to stand next to the Preznit in Seattle. Of course, it could be that the DC GOP has given up on McGavick. It wouldn't, in fact, be surprising.

Still, that campaign bio seems a little deceptive. If Jack's "going off to college" it won't be from here.

And isn't Jack one of "the boys"?

The only reason this has any relevance to me is that McGavick would deny some Americans, including my daughter, the simple right of marriage equality in order to "protect" marriage. He'd actually write discrimination into the US Constitution to "protect" marriage. That puts his own marital history squarely in the realm of public interest, and the evasiveness his official website reflects about that history puts his character squarely in question.

Of course, I'm sure he's glad he got that second marriage in before the gay people used all the marriage up...

Point taken.

When I wrote that "I don't understand why you don't slip Darcy Burner a few bucks right now…," this comment set me straight…
Because some of us need to slip Peter Goldmark and/or Richard Wright even more bucks since they probably won't get much support from the Democratic party money bags. Cathy McMorris and Doc Hastings have to go and spend the rest of their Republican lives with their families.
bluesky's right, of course. We have an outstanding roster of challengers here in the upper left (don't miss Steve Zemke's excellent roundup of recent coverage for all of them at Majority Rules), and while Darcy's no doubt the headliner right now, they each deserve their share of attention and support. Of course, some of us have our pet incumbents, and every one of us should include Maria Cantwell in that category.

Correspondingly, I've updated the Upper Left ActBlue page to include Goldmark and Wright, along with Maria and my own personal Congressman (anybody know how to get ActBlue to include Jim's defense fund?). Give to any one. Give to everyone. Give what you can.

But please, give something to someone.

WA-08 is all the rage…

…over at The Stakeholder today, with the scoop on Rahm's rally for Darcy, Dubya's visit to Dave and such, but it was Jesse Lee's rare nod to a Senate race that really drew my eye. Citing an AP item in the Seattle P-I, he notes that...
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McGavick said Tuesday he can't attend a fundraising event with President Bush next month because the date conflicts with his eldest son's high school graduation.

...McGavick said he had to turn down an overture from the White House because he is traveling to Pennsylvania for his son's June 15 graduation.
At first glance I thought that surely McGavick could make a cross town run to hook up with the President of the United States, but since the graduation is in Pennsylvania…

Hold it. Pennsylvania? There's not a single school in the state of Washington fit for the son of the would-be Senator? What special school might this be? I dunno. Here's what the McGavick campaign has to say...
...Jack, heads off to college next fall. The younger boys, Gates and Marco, and their yellow lab Frosty make the McGavick household a very lively place. Mike, Gaelynn and the boys make their home in the Seattle area.
Seems like Jack headed off a while ago, and if home is where you hang your hat, his ain't here.

Small things, sure. The small things, though, the minor evasions, the casual betrayals, the modest distortions, that add up to a man's character in the end.

The next Senator from the State of Washington will be either Maria Cantwell or Mike McGavick.

Which side are you on?

I've never understood…

…the open hostility that Nancy Pelosi draws from some corners of the blogosphere, so I appreciate the recent round of approval she's received from some others. Sam Rosenfeld makes any number of good points in an entry at Tapped, none better than this…
"...the actual alternative to Pelosi is Hoyer…"
Whether you're a fan or a flamer of the Shadow Speaker, I recommend Rosenfeld's whole post.

"The truth... that Hillary Clinton is not very interesting. She doesn't lead. She doesn't address real problems that people are facing. She preens and self-righteously moralizes about the flag and how kids are lazy and play violent video games. She passes some reasonable legislation, like the minimum wage increase, and works on good things like net neutrality. But there's nothing particularly interesting, considering that her last name is Clinton."
Matt's right. I'm not opposed to Hillary for any particular reason, I'm just not interested in her in any meaningful way.

Well, there's one exception to that, I suppose. It's kind of interesting that after almost six years in the Senate and the constant glare of the spotlight, she hasn't really established herself as a leader or as particularly authoratative on any notable issue. It's probably for the best that she shies away from health care given her history. She seems vaguely hawkish, but she's nobody's go-to source for defense or foreign policy questions. I'm sure she piles up good ratings with all kinds of liberal interest groups, but that's a natural consequence of being a reliable caucus vote.

Still, she's presented as some kind of Democratic leader. How's she do it? Why does anyone care? I mean, if you don't consider that her last name is Clinton.

I don't know how…

… or why Ntodd set a target 419,067 visits for his third blogiversary, but he did, and he needs your help, especially since Atrios "Never, Ever Links To Me." (Come to think of it, it's been a while since Dr. Black took notice of this joint.)

Anyway, Ntodd's been one of the good guys since before most of us have been in the game, so click here and help him out.

I guess it's good to know…

…that something can still spike my internal outrage meter. David Postman reports that...
Congressman Dave Reichert told me yesterday that he is willing to consider a proposal that would end automatic citizenship for babies born here. "It makes sense to me. This is people taking advantage of the system," he said. Reichert said that he has heard stories of pregnant Mexican women "just moments before the baby is born crossing the border and having the baby in a parking lot ... then claiming they can't leave because their baby is a citizen."
Right. And I've heard stories of winged pigs and the wee fairy folk. And the Constitution our legislatin' lawman swore to uphold? Well, that's "something 'for the lawyers' to hash out."

Of course, the top lawyer in the state, Republican AG Rob McKenna, has hashed it out and judged it unconstitutional on its face, but that's not really the point. The Constitution isn't the business of lawyers until it's passed through the hands of lawmakers. A Congressman can't pass the buck on the Constitution, and Dave Reichert's failure to understand that is emblematic of his failure to competently represent the people of the 8th Congressional District.

Dave Reichert doesn't understand the plain language of the Constitution. He clearly doesn't understand his oath and his responsibilities as a Member of Congress. Since his lack of understanding is so broad, I'll even be charitable and assume he doesn't understand how racist his legend of pregnant Mexican women in the parking lot is.

Me? I don't understand why you don't slip Darcy Burner a few bucks right now...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Separated at birth?

It may seem unlikely, but riverbend notes the disturbing parallels...
It's amusing - they look nothing alike - yet he reminds me so much of Bush. He can barely string two sentences together properly and yet millions of people consider his word law...
Of course, Our Gal In Baghdad has lots more to say (futball fatwa, anyone?) about life close to the ground in a war zone. Go see.

It's not unusual…

…unfortunately, but Atrios spotlights a textbook example of the kind of bad writing that produces even worse reporting in the NYT...
As the prospect of a Democratic majority gains credibility and Ms. Pelosi is more visible, she is also subjected to the speculation and analysis about her hair, makeup and clothes that any woman positioned for such a big job often must endure.
Ah, the passive voice. Who is subjecting her to such speculation? Why, Mark Leibovich is! In the pages of the paper of record.
The passive voice provides the pretense of objectivity, I suppose, when a journalist's work is particularly embarrassing. It's in the same hand as the "some people say" card.

Of course, in this case it's sexist, petty and generally uninformative.

A complete waste of the First Amendment.

Welcome... all y'all sent this way by I'm off to the day job in just a few, so there probably won't be much fresh content 'til the PM, but there's some neat stuff in the attic. Feel free to rummage around...

Monday, May 29, 2006

Remembering every one, from every war... brothers and sisters in arms.

Hat tip to Mr. Natural at Left Edge North.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

And now...

Just thinking...

If the Republicans are so damn sure that a Democratic majority will impeach Bush, aren't they admitting that Bush has committed impeachable offenses?

So their argument against the D's is that they will do what they should do.

Bring it on.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Graffiti of the Day

"Democracy assassinated the family that was here."

From the wall of a deserted house in Haditha. (WaPo)


Another good question…

…from that Kerry fella.
"How many lies do you get to tell before someone calls you a liar?"

Hat tip to Ron Chusid at The Democratic Daily

So it wasn't quite like Murtha said…

it was worse.

At first it sounded like the Marines in Haditha went into a sudden blind fury over the death of a comrade and blew a bunch of folks up before they got a grip. Not, apparently, so. The slaughter was, according to one informed official, "methodological in nature."
Evidence indicates that the civilians were killed during a sustained sweep by a small group of marines that lasted three to five hours and included shootings of five men standing near a taxi at a checkpoint, and killings inside at least two homes that included women and children, officials said.
Now the the wingnuts are left to decide whether to apologize to Jack Murtha or to declare that even Republican Marines are liars and traitors…
Representative John Kline, a Minnesota Republican who is a retired Marine colonel, said that the allegations indicated that "this was not an accident. This was direct fire by marines at civilians." He added, "This was not an immediate response to an attack. This would be an atrocity."

It happened, folks. In war, such things usually happen eventually, and, I'm afraid, given enough time, they happen repeatedly. It's completely predictable, and perversely understandable and there's still absolutely no excuse. Reasons? Plenty. Excuses? Zero.

But there's blame to share with people far from the battle zone. Glenn Greenwald says it with damning eloquence...
It is certainly true, as many pro-war advocates today have noted, that incidents of this type are inevitable in every war. And it is also true that the mere existence of incidents of this sort does not prove that the war is unjustified, since even the most justified wars have included soldiers engaging in gratuitously cruel, violent and outright criminal behavior. The killings are morally reprehensible but do not constitute direct evidence as to whether the war itself was, from the beginning, a justified war. That's all true enough.

But what incidents of this type do underscore is that wars are not something that are to be routine or casual tools in foreign policy. The outright eagerness and excitement for more and more wars that we see so frequently from some circles is not only unseemly and ugly unto itself -- although it is that -- but it is also so reckless and unfathomably foolish. Every war spawns countless enemies, entails incidents which severely undermine a nation's credibility and moral standing, ensures that the ugliest and most violent actions will be undertaken in the country's name, and, even in the best of cases, wreaks unimaginable human suffering and destruction.
Every Marine who participated in the massacre at Haditha must be called to account, as must anyone in the chain of command who participated in what appears to be an attempted cover=up. This one can't top out with a Staff Sergeant.

And those who sent them? The ones at the top of the chain? Their hands, too, are red with the blood of innocents. They, too, must be held to account for the lives lost that day.

And regardless of the judgment of men, may God damn them all to hell.

A random ten…

…truly deserving the name.
Clarence Bucaro - Leave A Light On
Michael Martin Murphy - The Bunkhouse Orchestra
Charlie Musselwhite - Juke
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - The Message
Roger Miller - It Just Happened That Way
The Isley Brothers - Shout (Pt 1 & 2)
Townes Van Zandt - Quicksilver Daydreams Of Maria
Traffic - Feelin' Alright
Sheryl Crow - All I Wanna Do
Weavers - Which Side Are You On?

Good question…

...from Jesse Lee at The Stakeholder.
"...why does the truth have to be so frickin' liberal?"
Anybody got a better answer than just because?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Once again…

…I have no particular expertise to judge the constitutional dustup between the Executive and the House. Until they issue me a set of those spiffy black robes (I like the ones with the stripy sleeves), no amount of expertise would make much difference anyway.

Still, it seems to me that if the Preznit's doing this, someone has persuaded him that DOJ's case is shaky, at best…
WASHINGTON, May 25 — President Bush intervened directly Thursday in an increasingly tense constitutional fight between Congress and the Justice Department by ordering that records seized from a Congressional office over the weekend be sealed for 45 days.

Well, sure...

Thanks to all and kudos to the Washington State constituents who have been on Cantwell's case to stand up for us against the craziness of the Republican leadership.
…after all, holding public officials accountable is an obligation of good citizenship.

But, jeez, Lynn, couldn't you throw Maria an appreciative bone, too? It's hardly, after all, the first time Maria's stood up to Republican craziness.

To take a stand with a minority within the minority (only 12 other Democrats joined Maria in voting against General Myers' appointment to head the CIA), in the midst of a hot election contest while you're taking fire from both sides of the ideological divide for errors real or imagined is no small thing.

It's political courage.

It's leadership.

It's inspiring.

So, thanks, Maria. You did good. Again.

The lovely and talented Miss Audrey Hepcat…

…would like all y'all new folks sent by the Daou Report to know that the Upper Left comments are fully functional.

Please take a minute and say hi.

(Of course, they work fine for you old timers, too…)

Looks like Hutcherson's off the hook…

The Lake Washington School District reconsiders...

Dear Church Leader,

We are following up on the Lake Washington School District's letter to you dated May 24, 2006, concerning use of school facilities for certain political activities under RCW 42.17.130.

Since we wrote to you, we have contacted the Public Disclosure Commission, the state agency charged with enforcing the guidelines governing the use of school facilities in campaigns. The prohibitions we described in the letter apply to the district's use of school facilities, but according to the PDC, the guidelines do not restrict the ability of third parties to promote or oppose ballot measures in that part of a school governed by a rental agreement during the time of the rental. Thus, the district is retracting its May 24th letter.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you,

Janene Fogard
I don't really like the effect, as in I really don't like the effect, but I think it's the right ruling. After all, when we rent school facilities for Democratic caucuses and conventions there's obviously electioneering, and often some signature gathering. Just because Ken Hutcherson and his followers would deny civil liberties to others is no reason for us to support suspending theirs.

For now, Permanent Defense has tools and resources for the fight against Referendum 65, and if you see one of those petitions in circulation, let them know.

A sociopathic sort of contrition.

There's some buzz about the Preznit finally acknowledging "missteps and mistakes" in Iraq. Even a casual look at his feigned contrition quickly reveals, though, that there's no there, there…
Saying "Bring it on." Kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong signal to people. That I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner. You know, "Wanted dead or alive," that kind of talk.
OK, fair so far. But what was the lesson? What's the principle error? The basic dishonesty of "Mission Accomplished"? Or that "dead or alive" meant "sooner or later (maybe)." Perhaps George has finally realized that the hubris of "Bring it on" communicated a callous disregard for the lives of the troops he dispatched into harms way?

But no, it wasn't anything he said at all, was it?
I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted. And so I learned -- I learned from that.
Yes, he learned. He learned it was their fault, because they just don't understand.

Of course, in the context of the tragedy that is Iraq, or any war, for that matter, George Bush's rhetorical overreach is a relatively minor concern. His blame-shifting reveals his complete lack of genuine contrition. Rather, we have another eample of of a sociopathic self-absorption that says absolutely nothing about anything that Bush has learned, or about anything he sincerely regrets.

He wasn't through, though. There's something that looms even larger than George's rhetorical excesses...
And, you know, I think the biggest mistake that's happened so far, at least from our country's involvement in Iraq, is Abu Ghraib.
That sounds like a place where the Preznit and I could find some exceedingly rare common ground. There's so much to regret, so many errors to confess, surrounding Abu Ghraib, from the lack of properly trained MP's to the assignment of NCOs with civilian records of prisoner abuse to the jailing of innocents, to the horror of the psychological and physical torture suffered by the prisoners to the evasion of responsibility by virtually the entire chain of command above the rank of Staff Sergeant. Where to begin? Oh...
We've been paying for that for a long period of time.
Ah, there it is. He regrets the price we've paid. The royal we, no doubt, because in the end, it's always all about George, and it's never his fault.

One more reason

Thursday, May 25, 2006


While much speculation centers on why Denny Hastert would be so upset about the search of a Democrat's office, Macswain examines another issue over at Comments From Left Field...
This also explains Hastert's recent support for "English only" legislation --- apparently he believes, under that bill, no one can legally utter quid pro quo.
The scary part is that it sounds plausible...

Oh frabjous day!

HOUSTON - Former Enron Corp. chiefs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were convicted Thursday of conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud in one of the biggest business scandals in U.S. history.

The verdict put the blame for the demise of what was once the nation’s seventh-largest company squarely on its top two executives. It came in the sixth day of deliberations following a trial that lasted nearly four months.

Lay was also convicted of bank fraud and making false statements to banks in a separate trial related to his personal banking...
Lay and Skilling - Not Above The Law.

Speaking of being above the law...

…an epistle from Ken, via Slog.

May 24, 2006

Dear Prayer Warrior,

Well, as you can read in the letter I just received from the Lake Washington School District, the fight is on!!! We better start praying.

Pastor Hutch
And what's Rev. Hutcherson fighting? Just the law, according to the Lake Washington School District attorneys...
In fact, under Washington state law, the facilities of a public agency, i.e., the Lake Washington School District, may not be used directly or indirectly for the purpose of assisting a campaign for election of any person to any office or for the promotion of or opposition to any ballot proposition (RCW 42.17.130). Our attorneys have advised us that collection of signatures on any proposed ballot initiative on school property is a violation of that law, as campaigning for any candidate for elected office would be. Therefore we cannot allow your organization or another organization at your invitation to come onto district property for any efforts that would assist a political campaign of any kind.
...and it looks like the lawyers are right.

Maybe Pastor Hutch should look away from John 3:16 for a few minutes and catch up on his Bobby Fuller Four…

This isn't me being a little grumpy…

…it's Kos being very wrong as he launches an(other) attack on Nancy Pelosi for joining Dennis Hastert in criticizing the raid on William Jefferson's office and demanding the return of any documents siezed. Here's some of the letter she signed on to…
"No person is above the law, neither the one being investigated nor those conducting the investigation.

"The Justice Department was wrong to seize records from Congressman Jefferson's office in violation of the Constitutional principle of Separation of Powers, the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution, and the practice of the last 219 years. These constitutional principles were not designed by the Founding Fathers to place anyone above the law. Rather, they were designed to protect the Congress and the American people from abuses of power, and those principles deserve to be vigorously defended.

"Accordingly, the Justice Department must immediately return the papers it unconstitutionally seized. Once that is done, Congressman Jefferson can and should fully cooperate with the Justice Department's efforts, consistent with his constitutional rights.
…and here's some of Kos' response...
And there is NOTHING in the Constitution that places Congress above the laws faced by the rest of American citizens. If there is lawbreaking happening on Capitol Hill, the Justice Department is duty bound to investigate and enforce the law.

And if Hastert and Pelosi can't see that, then the place is truly completely hopeless.
So, no one's above the law. At least everyone seems to agree on that.

Where the disagreement lies, of course, is in what, exactly, the law is. Kos is wrong, of course, about the relationship of Congress and the rest of American citizens to the law. There are Congressional exceptions to the law written into the Constitution, principally via the Speech and Debate clause that Pelosi and Hastert cite. Members, for instance, are immune to suit for libelous speech on the floor and immune from arrest on their way to work. Those protections don't hold true for you and me.

Those protections may not extend to immunity from the executive serving a warrant issued by the judiciary, either, but I don't know that, and neither does Kos. I suspect not, and so apparently does he, but we don't know. Since the separation of powers is based on the principle of co-equality between the three branches of government, with every decision and action being the proper subject of some sort of check and balance between them, my sense is that two in agreement have standing to act in relation to a third, but I don't know that, either.

In fact, the most compelling fact surrounding the case is that in 219 years, no Attorney General has found it necessary to turn to any court for a warrant to invade the working space of any member of the House or Senate, and that there's been a common understanding that they couldn't do it if they wanted to. The Jefferson search upends that long-standing precedent. It's perfectly in order for Congressional leadership, on a bi-partisan basis, to assert the traditional prerogatives of their fellow members, without partisan distinction.

Nancy Pelosi has shown no more taste for sheltering William Jefferson from the charges surrounding him than she previously showed for indulging his ambitions in the caucus. In fact, there's every reason to believe she would be happy to see him go. Her call in this case is not on behalf of William Jefferson, but of the other 534 beneficiaries of a variety of Congressional prerogatives.

I think her case fails in this instance, but what I think isn't at issue. It will take the opinions of at least five Americans to settle this one, and Nancy Pelosi being a part of getting that ball rolling is perfectly appropriate.

Markos owes the Minority Leader an apology.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Happy Memorial Day, vets!

Without consultation or notification, the Bush Administration has closed its office at the Small Business Administration (SBA) solely dedicated to helping veteran-owned small businesses gain access to federal contracts. The Administration has also informed the Veterans Advisory Committee, another group dedicated to helping veteran small business owners, that their charter will not be extended and instead will expire this September.
They hate the survivors.

Remember in November.

Extended inspiration at The Democratic Daily.

Time to clear out the office, Denny…

…the FBI is on their way.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, is under investigation by the FBI, which is seeking to determine his role in an ongoing public corruption probe into members of Congress, ABC News has learned from senior U.S. law enforcement officials.
Don't forget to check the freezer, too.

(Or not. Justice sez no. Still, Jesse Lee's point is worth making, and remembering...)

Some details at The Stakeholder, with this reminder...
Dennis Hastert was never expected to be Speaker. Tom DeLay made it so.

A question of perspective.

Mike Seely uses the Mossback space at the Seattle Weekly for an appraisal of his old boss (he did communications for the 2000 Cantwell campaign). He was clearly an unhappy camper...
Cantwell is far from perfect. In fact, she ranks high among the most difficult people I've ever worked for or with...a paranoid hellcat of a boss who rolls through staff like toilet paper, would make her daily sweep through the office, berating everyone in sight.

...she was not what you would call warm…

...if you were to ask Cantwell, the only person responsible for her victory over Gorton was the person who stared back at her in the bathroom mirror each morning. Her lack of gratitude and common human decency were simply repulsive…
…and from this draws a terrible conclusion...
There are plenty of good reasons for voters to withhold support from Cantwell...
Well, maybe. But not on the list of defects Seely describes. He may offer some excellent reasons to keep your resume in your pocket the next time you cross paths with the Senator, but none of that should be of critical concern to voters. My guess is that the best boss in the Senate might not make the list of the best Senators, anyway.

My own view is colored by knowing Maria personally for over 20 years, during which time I've found her consistently approachable, whether my approach was as a colleague, acquaintance or constituent. She was once helpful to me at a time I had nothing to bring to the table. I'm not sure what "warm" means to everybody, but I did see the lights shine in the eyes of a 12 year old girl after as the newly elected US Representative Cantwell took time to chat with her on election night '92. (The 12 year old was the Incomparable Elder Daughter of Upper Left. The impression stuck. You mess with Maria, you gotta go through Em.) Of course, I've never worked for her, but the point is that personality is a matter of perspective.

Whether you share Seely's perspective, mine, or one of your very own, though, I hope you join me in endorsing his final conclusion, which offers all the reasons voters should need to offer Maria Cantwell whatever support they can muster...
Whatever her personality shortcomings, she's a principled, thoughtful legislator who meets the consequences of her actions head-on and without apology. And unless antiwar activists want those consequences to be a Republican stealing her seat come November, they'd best put a sock in it.
Eyes on the prize.

Quote of the Day

“Show me a 50-foot wall, and I’ll show you a 51-foot ladder.”

Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ), via Molly Ivins.

Hat tip to litbrit at Shakepeare's Sister.

I can't get too grumpy…

…(though that nasty cold is still hanging on) about the presumption of a gaggle of national bloggers who think they can bestow "netroots" approval on a candidate, whatever their criteria (I could get pretty grumpy about the whole notion of the "netroots," but not now).

Nope, I'll let my reservations slide this time, because I'm so delighted that Darcy Burner, largely through the efforts of the northwest blog community, and particularly the leadership of NPI's Andrew Villeneuve, has made The List.

It's the same kind of national attention for Darcy that came from the last minute push by folks like Andrew and Carl and Goldy and many others to help Darcy cross the DCCC's Red To Blue threshold, and it holds the same potential for a major financial impact on the campaign.

So congrats to Darcy, thanks to her supporters and to the bestowers of the blessing.

Congrats, too, to the local bloggers who made the Kewl Kids list.

And, of course, you can still support Darcy via ActBlue right here.

"That's some catch, that Catch-22."

"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.

Meet the new news...
The Federal Communications Commission will not pursue complaints about the National Security Agency's access to millions of telephone records because it cannot obtain classified material, the commission's chairman said in a letter released on Tuesday.
…which Steve Benen reminds us is the same as the old news…
This comes just two weeks after the Justice Department announced it would not conduct a review whether the NSA's warrantless-search program was legal because it couldn't obtain classified material either.
As Steve says, Congress could do the investigation, but won't.

Not this Republican Congress.

One more reason…

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

And it's tasty, too!

"...while I love freedom and equality and the rule of law, you know what else I love? Pissing off the sanctimonious. That's the ice cream sundae of my world."
Watch Athenae indulge her sweet tooth at First Draft.

He knew Jack Kennedy…

Lloyd Bentsen

I haven't read the book…

…though, as a Freemason with an interest in the esoteric side of the craft I'm familiar with the general notion behind the story of The DaVinci Code. I've read Leigh and Baigent and any number of less familiar pseudo-histories that cover the ground Dan Brown presents as fiction, so I've been pretty smug in my feeling that there's was nothing in Brown's tale I needed to know sooner than the inevitable film would end up in my Netflix cue. Nothing in my reading of various reviews of the book and film had really altered that feeling.

Had, that is, until I read Juan Cole's thoughts on the film. Professor Cole argues that...
The film is popular because it isn't about Catholicism or France or some odd conspiracy theory centered on Mary Magdalene. It is popular because it is about the dilemmas of secular modernity.
…in a post that's worth your attention. Really. Go see. Frankly, I'm kinda cheap, and pretty busy, and I'll probably still wait to see it until Netflix has it, but thanks to Juan Cole, I'll be watching it with new eyes.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Yep, I'm definitely grumpy.

Blame it on a rotten spring cold.

Or blame it on Josh Feit, who waxes defensively about his Cantwell coverage of late...
While we do a lot of advocacy journalism here ("Hey, Gov. Christine Gregoire, will you please stand up to the Board of Pharmacy!"), my coverage of Cantwell’s detractors from the anti-war left does not fall into that category. I’m writing about the anti-war folks and their challenge to Cantwell’s reelection bid because it’s a fascinating news story: Cantwell constituents are holding her accountable for a major vote and they're jarring her campaign in the process.
Really, Josh? First, "Cantwell constituents" deserves some kind of qualifier. Senator Cantwell has millions of constituents. Most of them probably don't have a clear understanding of her position on the war at all, though they may have heard she's somehow "for" it. Many, including myself, know her position and disagree with it but, for a variety of reasons, will campaign for and vote for Maria regardless. Then there's the fractional faction of anti-war zealots who somehow think they can hasten an end to the war by "jarring" Maria's campaign.

Out of the millions of Cantwell constituents, this latter group numbers what? Hundreds, maybe? Even thousands, perhaps. Out of millions.

So how does a group so far out of even the Democratic Party mainstream, which flows pretty hard to the left in these parts, garner the influence and attention to undermine Maria's fundraising and grassroots organizing? Well, through the indulgence of reporters who find the story "fascinating"…or should I say "scintillating"? Frankly, it's the alternative press version of sweeps week journalism.

Beyond the complaints of a marginal, if vocal, faction, what's the story? Josh suggests...
Cantwell voted for the war, and she's a U.S. Senator, and so I think she has an extra responsibility (unlike me, for example) to have some answers. There’s a story in watching her try to come up with those answers in this historic election year.
Maria would doubtless second his sense that she has, as a result of her vote on the authorization to use force if necessary (not "for the war") and has expressed her heightened sense of responsibility for the outcome in Iraq in turn. There's no story, though, about her attempt to "come up with" answers. She's come up with her answer, and has s expressed it consistently and repeatedly. Some people, of course, don't like her answer, a dissatisfaction they tend to express as "She won't answer my question" rather than the more accureate "She won't give me the answer I want."

I don't particularly like her answer. Maria has adopted the "year of transition" approach that's been promulgated by the Democratic Congressional caucuses. I don't like it much when Darcy Burner walks a similar line. Landmarks, timetables, all a little to fuzzy and open ended and too dependent on the sudden arrival of competence in the White House for me (I'm a supporter of that Kerry fella's call for an immediate move to a staged withdrawal).

It is a position, though. She's given her answer.

Maybe the real story is the willful deafness of the activist fringe. Maybe the story's about the unwarranted, slightly sensationalist, elevation of that fringe in the press. Maybe the story is about how totally awful the notion of Mike McGavick representing the state of Washington in the United States Senate truly is.

But Maria "trying to come up with" an answer that she's already come up with and repeatedly expressed?

Sorry. No story.

Maybe I'm just feeling grumpy again…

…but this kind of thing seems pretty damn irresponsible to me.
There is at least one high profile progressive Democrat out there that you love - and probably more than one - that is going to go down over ethical lapses over the next few years unless they are willing to come clean….

Now if Matt Stoller's got someone in mind, fair enough. Name names. Floating a statement that could basically puts every high profile progessive Democrat in a shadow of suspicion isn't fair at all. It isn't helpful. It isn't necessary.
Stoller's right about this...
Having Democrats with ethical problems is a bad situation. Ethically challenged are weakened dramatically, since mostly everyone has leverage over them, including Republicans and journalists. They also weaken the party, since the entire leadership of the party must make a choice about whether to throw them under the bus or stand behind their ethical transgressions.
Ethical problems are bad. OK, then. Concern for the Party may be a bit overblown. The Minority Leader didn't seem to have any trouble leaving Rep. Jefferson in the path of that bus, and the Democratic case against the Republican culture of corruption was strengthened, if anything, by her forthrightness in that case. But, sure, every case brings its particular set of problems, its particular set of decisions.

The only high profile progressive that I know is in the Ethics Committee's sights, for instance, is my own personal Congressman, Jim McDermott. In the bizzaro world of Republican leadership, though, his 'ethical' problems stem from reporting the unethical behavior of his colleagues while serving as the ranking member of the Ethics Committee a decade ago. That's not corruption, it's just crap, and the entire caucus (along with anyone with a passing interest in the First Amendment) should be forming a human wall between Jim and the wheels of the bus.

Our Congressional leadership seems to be capable of the discernment needed to make sound judgements from case to case, though. What there don't seem to be ara a surplus of identifiable cases, but that seems to be an advantage rather than a problem as the Repubicans are swamped with an ever growing wave of investigations and indictments.

It is a problem, though, to see a widely read and generally respected figure in the progressive blogosphere going all Joe Klein, fretting about unspecified problems that are problems at all largely because of all the damn fretting.

Name names or stow the speculation, please.

If he's innocent…

…as he says, Rep. William Jefferson should resign in order to prepare his defense for a likely criminal trial and for the good of his Party, the House and our country.

If Rep. William Jefferson is guilty, and supsicions seem to be well-grounded, he should resign to put his affairs in order before sentencing and for the good of his Party, the House and our country.

He's just got to go.

Too good…

…not to pass along complete


The formation of a unity government in Iraq is a new day for the millions of Iraqis who want to live in freedom.

--President Bush today

Today, the call of liberty is being heard in Baghdad and Basra, and other Iraqi cities, and its sound is echoing across the broader Middle East.... It means that the days of tyranny and terror are ending, and a new day of hope and freedom is dawning.

--President Bush, December 12, 2005

A long night of terror and tyranny in that region is ending, and a new day of freedom and hope and self-government is on the way.

--President Bush, December 1, 2004

The Iraqi people, themselves, are seeing a new day thanks to the brave men and women who came to liberate them.

--President Bush, August 14, 2003

As trade expands and knowledge spreads to the Middle East, as women gain a place of equality and respect, as the rule of law takes hold, all peoples of that region will see a new day of justice and a new day of prosperity.

--President Bush, May 9, 2003

Step by step Iraqi citizens are reclaiming their own country. They are identifying former official guilty of crimes and volunteering for citizen patrols to provide security. Many are reviving religious rituals long-forbidden by the old regime, and speaking their mind in public -- a sure sign that a new day has come.

--President Bush, April 25, 2003

Many Iraqis are now speaking their mind in public. That's a good sign. That means a new day has come in Iraq.

--President Bush, April 24, 2003

The fall of that statue in Baghdad marked the end of a nightmare for the Iraqi people, and it marked the start of a new day of freedom.
--President Bush, April 16, 2003

The world is also witnessing the liberation and humanitarian aid our coalition is bringing to that country as a new day begins in Iraq.

--President Bush, April 8, 2003

Nice piece of work by Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog, where you can find links to all the quotes.

A sweeping bow from here.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

And now...

That Kerry fella…

…loves him some upper left Democrats.

First is was Darcy, an early entry on the short list of races John Kerry's Keeping America's Promises PAC chose to feature as critical for national attention and support...
Darcy Burner, opposing Dave Reichert in Washington, is running because she’s fed up with the Bush Republicans paying only lip service to alternative energy and conservation while they give away billions of dollars in tax subsidies to giant oil companies that are already raking in record profits.
That, and more (haven't heard much about that "third tier" business lately, have you?).

And now Maria. From a recent Kerry email...
...we've added another Washington candidate to the list -- my good friend, Senator Maria Cantwell.

As you well know, Maria has been a leader in the Senate on a wide range of environmental issues, including securing energy independence and protecting Puget Sound from polluting supertankers. I have been especially proud to join her in offering a series of critical Senate amendments aimed at protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling.

This year, Maria faces a tough race against a former lobbyist and friend of big oil who supports drilling in the Arctic Refuge.

With amazing courage, she has stood up for what is right. Now, it's time to stand up for her.
My first question for Presidential aspirants in '08 will be "Where you in '06." If Kerry runs, I won't have to ask.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

I've got to work tomorrow…

…and it's not my sabbath anyway, but if you've up early and have the inclination, Goldy's got a plan...
According to the Washington State Department of Revenue, our state’s churches receive about $44 million in property tax exemptions annually – that’s tax burden that is shifted to ordinary citizens like you and me. But one of the prerequisites for maintaining this not-for-profit status is that these churches must refrain from actively engaging in political campaigns.

If tomorrow, on “Referendum Sunday,” these churches distribute petitions and/or canvass for signatures, or parishioners are instructed to do so, I would say that this would constitute a very real violation of the prohibition on electioneering, and would thus provide clear grounds for suing to have their tax exempt status revoked.

So I strongly urge all my readers to show a little faith, and go to church tomorrow (focus on those evangelical mega-churches if you can,) and bring along a video camera or other recording device, just in case. And God forbid you find any prohibited political campaigning on church property, drop me an email.

But what about the children?

No hands, no harness, no helmet? What kind of example is this man setting?

I mean, we're talking about a guy who needs facial protection to comsume a pretzel. Where was the Secret Service during these foolhardy off-road heroics?

No more risky business until Speaker Pelosi is in the line of succession, please.

Something old, something new…

…well, mostly old. But all random…
Edwin McCain - Wino's Lullaby
Red Meat - Streets Of Baltimore
Peter Tosh - Stepping Razor
Arrested Development - People Everyday
Coyote Run - The Hunley
Paul Thorn - Fabio & Liberace
Jefferson Airplane - We Can Be Together
Neil Young - Comes A Time
Creedence Clearwater Revival - Lookin' Out My Back Door
Randy Newman - Rednecks

Friday, May 19, 2006

Well, it might be nuance…

…or it could be straightforward hypocrisy...
I guess it's nuanced ... maybe you can follow the debate on why Republicans strongly feel that English should be our official language at the in Espanol page or the official White House version.
Either way, there have to be better ways to spend the Senate's time.

Maybe next year...

Lovely, talented...

...and the mistress of her domain, Audrey Hepcat in her natural habitat...

2454 Americans have died in Iraq...

50 more this month alone. There's $3.00 gas, stagnant wages and flat job production numbers. A major American city continues to lie in ruins. While there's widespread anxiety about a potential epidemic, we're already plagued by debt and deficit.

So what do Bill Frist and the Republican Senate have to offer?
After a emotional debate fraught with symbolism, the Senate yesterday voted to make English the "national language" of the United States, declaring that no one has a right to federal communications or services in a language other than English except for those already guaranteed by law.

The measure, approved 63 to 34, directs the government to "preserve and enhance" the role of English, without altering current laws that require some government documents and services be provided in other languages. Opponents, however, said it could negate executive orders, regulations, civil service guidances and other multilingual ordinances not officially sanctioned by acts of Congress.
Just dandy. That certainly goes to the heart of our nation's problems and healing our divisions, doesn't it.

Sadly, we lost a dozen Democrats to this nonsense (the 34 no votes included Sen. Jeffords, and independent, and a lone Republican, New Mexico's Pete Domenici). I haven't seen a roll call yet, but I found some solace in the Hotline's look at some Democrats facing tough races this year...
Voting NO

Sen. Menendez (D-NJ)
Sen. Cantwell (D-WA)
Sen. Stabenow (D-MI)
Thanks, Maria.

(Of course, I can't imagine Patty voted for this mess, either. Somebody got a pointer to the roll call?)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

35 House seats in play?

So sez the National Journal, updating their ranking of the top 50 contests.
...we're now convinced that the first 30 to 35 are easy to argue in terms of fall competitiveness and that's a jump from 15 to 20 last month.
Some jump. And in that 30 to 35?
31. WASHINGTON-08 (Reichert-R)
Soon to be (Burner-D).

You can congratulate Darcy in a tangible way (and help push her into the top 20) here.

George has gotta love him…

… some Latter Day Saints.

Hat tip to Billmon


It's one thing to know things are this bad. It's another to admit it, even in electronic text...
You talk about "rumsfeld's fondest ideas and theories" as if you have the first clue as to what those are. I have worked with him side-by-side for five years, and I wouldn't even try to divine what his fondest ideas and theories are.
There it is. Even Rummy's chief of staff, Larry DiRita, has no idea what the boss is up to. It's one of a series of startling statements from DiRita in an email exchange he had with Joe Galloway following a recent Galloway column focusing on retired Marine Corps Lt. General Paul Van Riper's critique of the Rumsfeld Pentagon. For instance, there's this...
The army is so much more capable and suitable for the nation's needs that it was 5 or 10 years ago.
That's right. Officials at the highest level of the Department of Defense believe that. And woe be it to any brass hat who dares differ.

Be afraid.

Be very afraid.

Don't miss the whole exchange, with Galloway's informed and effective takedown of Rumsfeld. It's, well, inspiring is a suitable word.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"...there was no firefight…

….there was no IED that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."

Jack Murtha


…to newly elected Pennsylvania State Committeemember Chris Bowers. Chris' decision to engage with the organized Democratic Party as an elected Party official, first at the ward level and now on the State Committee, is distinctive, if not unique, among the leading national bloggers. He's not only to be congratulated for his victory, but commended, for his example.

I'm cautious about some of the lessons he finds in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary, though. For instance, he cites a candidate, Anne Dicker, whom he lauds for a second place finish in a three way race. Dicker finished ahead of a candidate who had apparently wrapped up significant institutional backing. That's fine enough, I suppose, but the candidate who actually won seems to have lacked those institutional resources, too. I'd like to learn more about the actual winner, because those are usually the best campaigns to learn from, but Chris takes this away from the results...
The party lost to both labor and the netroots. All the money in the world, and all the establishment support in the world, is officially good for last place. Change or become irrelevant.
That's a pretty broad judgment to draw from a single race, but there is a grain of truth within it. It's certainly true that you don't need all the money in the world, or even the most money in a field of candidates, to win an election. You do need enough, and Dicker seems to have fallen short on that score, but you don't need it all.

There's really no way, though, for the Democratic Party to 'lose' a primary election. They have a nominee, which is the purpose of the primary. If there's any losses to be counted, it will be because the people who participated in any way on any side of the primary aren't every bit as, or more, engaged in securing the nominee's victory in November.

The Party certainly can't 'lose' an election to labor, either. Organized labor continues to be an integral part of the Democratic coalition, perhaps the integral part. A win for labor is a Democratic win.

Lose to the 'netroots'? Well, I dunno. I hope not. I'm not exactly sure what the aim of the 'netroots' is, or what their general commitment to the Democratic Party as such might be. Of course, that's partly because I'm still uncertain what exactly the 'netroots' is. I've been a blogger for going on three years, sure, and I read dozens of 'em. A substantial part of my political activism these days is informed by the internet. On the other hand, I'm a self-confessed Party hack, and have been for going on forty years. Am I a 'netroot'? Or am I just the grassroot I've been all along? I'm hopeful that the distinction becomes increasingly irrelevant as more people follow Chris' example.

One thing I'm pretty sure of is that we don't need to promote artificial antagonisms between folks who, on election day, at least, need to be on the same side.

On a more positive note, I hope that Chris sees himself reflected in this observation…
Were it not for mavericks such as Chuck Pennacchio willing to take on long-shot campaigns, it is difficult to imagine that nearly as many new committee people would be ready to take office for Democrats tomorrow. I know I wouldn't.
Good for Chuck Pennacchio. But inspiration is like a game of tag, Chris, and you're it. I'm hopeful, no, I'm confident that your example will inspire people from coast to coast to take the first steps toward engagement with their local Party organizations. I'm confident, in fact, that in not so long a time, there will be State and National Committee members in place across the country who were initially inspired by your example. Thank you.

And Chris is right about this...
...all of the progressive and reform defeats will eventually succeed as long as the people who participated in those losses keep trying.
…because he's right about this.
Hell, that is probably how the establishment came to power in the first place.
The Party, after all, is just the people who show up, led by the ones who stick around.

Leaders like Chris Bowers (welcome to the 'establishment').

Leaders who know, as he says...
Give up easily, and be defeated easily. Never give up, and eventually you will govern.

A campaign…

…worth a thousand conferences.
In a campaign tied to appearances by President Bush on behalf of House candidates later this week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has bought time on stations with Christian and conservative audiences to try to remind those who traditionally vote Republican of their party's plan to add private investment accounts to Social Security. […]

"We are going to keep them back on their heels and make them compete for their own base," said Representative Rahm Emanuel, Democrat of Illinois, chairman of the House campaign organization.
Good ol' self interest politics. And it turns out that we're in their self interest.

Ya gotta love it.

And have I mentioned what a valuable resource The Carpetbagger Report is lately? Inspiring, even.

Don't get me wrong…

…I mean, if I wasn't Jewish, I'd probably be a Unitarian.

Just the same, I have my doubts about this...
A conference geared to help Democrats infuse God into their politics begins tomorrow at All Souls Unitarian Church in [DC] with the unveiling of a "spiritual covenant with America."

The "Spiritual Activism Conference" aims to equip liberals to operate in a political arena where religion has played a more prominent role since 2000, says Rabbi Michael Lerner, founder of the Jewish magazine Tikkun and a chief conference organizer.
Frankly, a conference organized by a Rabbi at a prominent Unitarian church is unlikely to address the real issues Democrats face as a result of a perceived inattention to religion. Democrats do just fine with Jews and Unitarians, thanks, and United Methodists and Congregationalists, too. We do a lot worse with conservative evangelicals, and we're not even on the map for fundamentalists, but it's highly unlikely that the Spiritual Activism Conference will come up with anything to ease their doubts.

Actually, Democratic politics are pretty well infused with God in my experience. As a Democrat whose religion informs, to a degree, his politics, I know that I'm completely unexceptional. We're everywhere, and we're acknowledged and respected in the Party in a variety of ways, though I admit that after sitting through years worth of non-denominational invocations, benedictions, memorial prayers and moments of silence to allow communion with the cosmic muffin I've been acknowledged just about enough. And one "God bless America" after another, capping every speech by, well, pretty much everybody.

We've got pretty much all the God that Constitutional government can stand.

That's the problem with addressing religious questions in a way that might appeal to many evangelical Christians today. They want more God than Constitutional government can stand. The evangelical denominations have become increasingly theocratic, holding the myth of an America created as a Christian nation as stubbornly as the biblical literalists among them reject elementary geography. They would make their interpretation of their preferred translation of their selected scriptures the supreme law of the land. It's the most fundamentally un-American notion that ever wrapped itself in red, white and blue. They are the clearest and most present danger to the Constitution that exists today.

It's not a partisan problem, it's an American problem, one that merits a conference or two of its own.

Hat tip to The Carpetbagger Report.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Livin' in the future in a plastic dome…

Sounds mighty strange I agree
But now I call it home sweet home
It's where I want to be…

Country Joe McDonald

The administration in a bubble.

“I don’t really believe those polls. ... As I travel around the United States, I see a lot of appreciation for him. A lot of people come up to me and say, 'Stay the course.'"
…and Karl...
"….people like him, they respect him, he's somebody they feel a connection with, but they're just sour right now on the war."
…and, of course, the…

Whenever I point out…

…that the only good Republican politician is a retired Republican politician, I get comments or email encouraging me to except some "moderate" or another. Those Women From Maine are frequently cited as worthy of slack, as is the senior Senator from Pennsylvania.

Well, here's a "good" Republican in action...
Specter has mollified conservative opposition to his bill by agreeing to drop the requirement that the Bush administration seek a legal judgment on the program from a special court set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978.

Instead, Specter agreed to allow the administration to retain an important legal defense by allowing the court, which holds its hearings in secret, to review the program only by hearing a challenge from a plaintiff with legal standing, said a person familiar with the text of language agreed to by Specter and committee conservatives.
As usual, "good" loses out to "Republican."

…even the "good" ones. They've all got to go.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Health Care Hat Trick

Atrios is right. This deserves a little more noise...
With great fanfare, Frist brought three major pieces of legislation to the Senate last Monday and all three of them were dead by the end of the week.
Harry gives 'em a little hell...
"To think with American consumers paying over 3 dollars for gas, with college tuition moving beyond the reach of many in the middle-class, with the Iraq war dead approaching 2,500, with immigration a security crisis unresolved, with our country’s deficit standing at 9 trillion dollars, with 46 million Americans lacking health care coverage, we are moving to bills that are unnecessary and go nowhere."
The do worse than nothing Republican Congress.

Rove indictment?

I dunno. What Steve says, I suppose.

Bit it could be. It should be.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Moms are incredible...

...from the Venerable Matriarch of Upper Left, who has loved me longer than anyone else, to the Brilliant and Beautiful Bride of Upper Left, who loves me more than anyone else, to the Baby Sister of Upper Left, who started up a second family in her forties and decided to tackle law shool in her fifties to the Younger Daughter of Upper Left who is going to deliver the Future Quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks (after an All American stint with the UW Huskies, of course) any day now.

Incredible. Each one of 'em. Each one of you.

Happy Mothers Day.

And now...

Pretty shocking stuff...

…at Hullabaloo...
Leading Democrats tell the New York Times that it would be better if the party doesn't win in the fall --- and if it has the sad misfortune to do so, it would be better off not holding any investigations into the Bush administration.
…or it would be, if the folks Adam Nagourney styles as "some of the party's leading figures" actually had any followers. The strongest case for the benefit of defeat is Tony Coehlo, whose last partisan job was at the helm of the Gore disaster in 2000. Still, he's an active entry in many a media rolodex, always handy for a party-bashing quote in a pinch. Bill Clinton's quoted on the subject, too, but basically says the whole idea is nuts.

On the investigation front, former Rep.Martin Frost and former DNC Chair Joe Andrews are distressingly over-cautious, and former Senator Bob Kerrey weighs in with anxiety about the difficulty of leading the caucus through the investigatory minefield, but who, exactly, are they the leaders of? Former Democrats? They have no Party office, no political constituency and nothing resembling the influence that Nagourney's article implies.

These former pols are, with the possible exception of Kerrey, really familiar only to political junkies, which is the problem with articles like the New York Times piece that got Digby all riled up. The casual reader will see the titles the quoted Democrats once held and think they must still matter. They don't, but even as sophisticated an observer as Digby isn't completely immune to Nagourney's endless effort to diminish Democratic prospects, Democratic unity and, well, damn near anything that can be labeled Democratic.

Want a quote from a "leading Democrat"? How's this…
Former State Committeeman and District Party Chairman Shaun Dale said today that winning is everything.
He was a big deal once. Really.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Since you asked…

Ok, so Donna Brazile and Mike McCurry are working for the telcos in the net neutrality fight, Donna Shalala is screwing workers at her new perch at the University of Miami, David Brooks is praising Hillary Clinton's centrism as she holds fundraisers with Rupert Murdoch, Paul Begala is calling organizers nose-pickers, George Stephanopoulos is making millions in a boring establishment show at ABC News, and I've heard rumors that Joe Lockhart is sending around corporate-funded memos to the media saying that Democrats shouldn't tackle the Medicare RX fiasco.

What's going on here?
Just business as usual, Matt. Folks with long enough memories typically viewed Bill as the best Republican President since Nixon, or maybe the last of the Rockefeller 'liberals'. That his administration failed to produce a strong roster of progressive champions should be no surprise.

Shalala's signature achievement at HHS was dismantling the Great Society safety net. Why would she be expected be expected to show sympathy for the interests of low income workers in another context? The rest, of course, are just flacks of various stripes, whose activities can be read with various degrees of cynicism as they angle for advantage in their dream of a future Clinton administration.

Darn that dream...

I'll be happy to answer your question... soon as the boss wakes up.

We have to...

"We have to raise the issues," said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, who met Friday with General Hayden. "The American people expect someone to do it. Certainly the administration is not doing it. We are all they've got."
Once again the Democratic Party is called upon to do the patriotic thing and clean up the mess the corrupt Republican Party has made with its free lunch policies, taxpayer rip-offs and criminal invasions into the lives and privacy of the American people.

We're all they've got.

Sic 'em, Harry.

Inspiration from Glenn Greenwald.

Random rhythms…

Ten off the top…
Lyle Lovett - Nobody Knows Me
Marly Karlzen - St. James Hotel
Roger Miller - Chug-A-Lug
Dan Montgomery - The Seventies
Rickie Lee Jones - Danny's All-Star Joint
Suzy Bogguss - Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Elvis Presley - Little Sister
Curtis Mayfield - We're A Winner
Dixie Chicks - Hello Mr. Heartache
Mikey Spice - If You Don't Know Me By Now

Friday, May 12, 2006

I have no idea...

...where the damn ca err, the lovely and talented Miss Audrey Hepcat has gotten to today, so here's one from the archives...

Liddy Dole…

…loves her some, umm, Green Panther.
Dole was asked about several individual races…
· WA: She spoke glowingly of McGavick, and noted ex-Green Panther Aaron Dixon's (G) challenge to Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) as a complication for Dems.
That's it? That's what they've got?


Please don't feed Liddy's fantasies.

If you're as lucky as I am…

…or if you're just grateful for any sign of corporate responsibility, don't forget to say thanks to Qwest.

Operation Snowjob begins...

…and the WSJ's John D. McKinnon seems less than impressed.
For his first morning briefing as White House Press Secretary, Tony Snow decided to move the event back into the press secretary’s cozy West Wing office.

…where the press corps doesn't fit. And then...
Complicating matters further, the event was first scheduled for 9 a.m., then officially postponed until 9:30 – and actually began at 9:15. That left many deadline-obsessed wire service reporters — as well as ordinary procrastinators — stuck in the hallway, unable to hear most of what was being said.
Wasn't one of the reasons Snow was supposed to improve Bushco™ press relations was, well, he's one of them, right? He knows what they do and what they need, right? Like adequate space to work and accurate schedules to work by, for instance.

Since he seems so woefully uninformed about the White House press operation, considering that he's, well, in charge of it, you'd think someone might have told him who might show up for the gaggle, wherever and whenever he decided to have it.

And I thought I'd miss Scotty's unfailing ineptitude...

Update: The NYT has more on Snow's self-described "mess." Apparently our first chance to see the circus on camera has been put off 'til Tuesday.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Yes, as a matter of fact…

…I do hear 20something%.
President Bush’s job-approval rating has fallen to its lowest mark of his presidency, according to a new Harris Interactive poll. Of 1,003 U.S. adults surveyed in a telephone poll, 29% think Mr. Bush is doing an “excellent or pretty good” job as president, down from 35% in April and significantly lower than 43% in January.

Roughly one-quarter of U.S. adults say “things in the country are going in the right direction,” while 69% say “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track.”
Is it November yet?

Tension at the top?

I hope so.

The way I figure, if Chuck and Rahm weren't scratching deep for every available Democratic dollar, they wouldn't be doing their jobs.

And if Howard wasn't battling to conserve the resources he needs to keep his 50 State Strategy pledge, he wouldn't be doing his.

That's the point. They have different constituencies, different jobs, different ideas. That's the big tent in action. That doesn't mean they have different goals, though.

The fact that they might put some emotional energy behind their efforts just doesn't upset me at all. In fact, it's more reassuring than not.

Who's right? No telling, really, until election day, but a battle over the best vision for victory is a fight we can all win in the end.

That Kerry fella…

…has been thinking.
So what do we say yes to? What are our ideas?

How about starting with this: tell the American people the truth!

Then, full-on fire the incompetents!

Make America secure with energy independence.

Value work, not wealth, and make our tax code fair for the middle class and people struggling to join it.

Export products, not jobs.

Make health care accessible and affordable for all Americans.

Do something about global warming and, while we’re at it, clean up our lakes and rivers so people can fish and swim in the United States.

Set a deadline for Iraqis to run Iraq and bring our troops home.
Now that's inspiring.

Hat tip to Pamela at The Democratic Daily.

Pin the (tarnished) star…

…on the Sheriff. Goldy's got it.
It was Reichert who ultimately failed to properly discipline or fire deputies who had committed serious crimes and conduct violations… and as the latest P-I installment reveals today, his lax attitude towards bad cops has cost taxpayers millions. And yet still, Reichert refuses to talk to reporters.
It was Reichert. Important to remember.

Just wait for the GOP spin machine to try and lay this at the feet of Ron Sims, who elevated Reichert from the Green River Task Force to the horse he rode all the way to Congress. Granted, it was probably Ron's worst call as County Executive, but this mess belongs to Sheriff Dave, and cleaning it up should help sweep Darcy Burner into Congress.

Mess in the Sheriff's office?

It was Reichert. Worth repeating.

Walking the talk.

Kudos to MyDD's Chris Bowers, who's running a write-in campaign for a slot on the Pennsylvania State Democratic Central Committee from the 8th Senatorial District. The filing period for the election apparently ended with five out of six possible seats empty, so Chris and a colleague have taken on the challenge of drumming up 100 write in votes to validate their election.

One of the lessons we can all take from his experience is how truly low the barriers to entry are for those who want to lead the Democratic Party and are willing to do the work. It can be even easier. With just a bit of foresight, Chris could have appeared on the last day of filing and essentially installed any five Democrats he chose onto the State Committee, avoiding the write-in requirements.

If that seems like an extreme example, it's actually all too common in my experience. Here in Washington, in the Puget Sound region, a relative hotbed of political activism with a strong Democratic constituency, even the strongest local organizations have dozens of vacancies in the ranks of their Precinct Committee Officers, the position that appears on general election ballots in our state.

Think about it for a minute. If you didn't vote for a PCO in the last general election, that means you don't have one. Although Democratic candidates appear on your ballot, there is no Democratic Party in your precinct. That was true where Chris lives. He fixed the problem. If it's true where you live, you can fix it there.

No crashing required.

Anything's possible...

...even a corporation that gives a damn about liberty.
Among the big telecommunications companies, only Qwest has refused to help the NSA, the sources said. According to multiple sources, Qwest declined to participate because it was uneasy about the legal implications of handing over customer information to the government without warrants.
Gives me a whole new appreciation for my pokey dial-up connection. Thanks, Qwest!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I suppose it's red meat…

…for some faction of activist Democrats that Senator Feingold imagines will create an illusion of viability for his Presidential aspirations, but I personally find nothing commendable in this kind of rhetoric right now…
The consultants and the pundits and others will tell you…that it is dangerous to let there be any real light between our position and the White House’s position, or else you’ll get called soft on terrorism. You already hear people saying that the Michael Hayden nomination will be a great opportunity for the White House to show the Democrats are soft on terrorism…
Actually, most of what I'm hearing about Hayden is Republican leaders throwing him overboard, but supposing the Senator is right. Who, exactly, are these 'consultants, pundits and others' that counsel no light between Democrats and the White House? Just as, perhaps more, importantly, who are their clients? Which Democratic candidates are indistinguishable from Bushco™?

Of course, there's a chance that he doesn't actually know a consultant who counsels any such a thing, or a candidate who has taken any such advice. There's probably merit to the notion, for instance, that stealing a page of anti-consulting rants or two out of Markos' and Jerome's book might yield some entrée to the Daily Kos audience. If nothing else, it's the kind of thing likely to yield some headlines as the very punditocracy he derides looks for evidence to sustain a steady 'Democrats in disarray' drumbeat. The potential advantages for Senator Feingold, who needs to expand his national profile for 2008, aren't hard to identify.

Still, I wonder, how, exactly, does this shotgun blast at Democratic voices, whether they're heard in private councils or the public arena, whether real or imagined, advance the goal of Democratic victory this November? Who benefits? Which Congressional Districts are made more competitive, which Senate seats are put in play, by Feingold's attack on, by virtue of his lack of specifics, virtually any and every Democratic campaign?

As I've repeatedly said, the first question for any candidate in 2008 should be about their efforts to secure victory in 2006. In his lust for the spotlight, Feingold has already shown his willingness to disrupt caucus legislative strategy and embarrass his colleagues. Without specific instances and specific individuals whose merits might actually be examined and discussed, his broad brush assault on his own Party at this critical time is a disqualifying error in the next race for the nomination.

He's the Decider…

…you're the janitor.

Hat tip to Paul the Spud at Shakespeare's Sister.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I never imagined…

…that among the pack of liars, thieves and fools employed by Bushco™ there could possibly be a resignation more urgent than Rummy's, but HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson is definitely a candidate
"Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don't get the contract. That's the way I believe."
Atrios is right. Secretary Jackson needs to resign. Immediately.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Do I hear 20something?

Preznit 31%.

The Maria Meeting.

Senator Maria Cantwell met with a group of anti-war activists, including those who recently sat in at her Seattle office to protest her stance on Iraq. Arthur Ruger has a fairly thorough, and, I think, impressively balanced eyewitness report at WashBlog.

An 'out now' kinda guy going in, Ruger came away unchanged...
I came out of the meeting convinced that Maria is wrong and I am right about Iraq.
...but not unimpressed (my emphasis).

But I also came out of the meeting convinced that where she is wrong has never made her more culpable than any other Democrat AND Republican who voted foolishly when even the dumbest old Veteran in Bay Center, Washington knew that Bush as a viable and effective president was lying through his teeth and had nothing but foolish, unjustifiable and unworthy reasons for taking this country down a road of military shame that would make this nation guilty of the ultimate humanitarian horrors

I also came out of the meeting convinced that Maria is in the right place at the right time. There are no other candidates out there of equal caliber. Those who have presented themselves have not demonstrated any knowledge of how to run, let alone how to lead, how to inspire and how to engender confidence that someone more competent should be at the wheel.

Our competent someone may have not chosen the best route regarding Iraq but she's headed in the right direction and - "it looks to me like ..... " she has the tools to help us get there and may surprise those of us who think she won't.

Nothing is as helpful as turning over the damn cover and reading the book.
I agree with Ruger. Maria is wrong about the war. Not, though, as so frequently charged, because she supports "Bush's war." Maria's position is grounded in Clinton, not Bush, foreign policy. She has been critical of the conduct of the war, the treatment of soldiers and veterans and the paucity of oversight under Bush. The call for transition, rather than withdrawal, may not satisfy all of us, but it's not Bush's policy, it's the policy formulated, however loosely, by the Democratic Congressional caucuses.

It's also, in essence and effect, the policy advocated by Darcy Burner, who I suspect has the support, for good reason, of most of Maria's critics.

If you believe Kos and Jerome (and that's an if about the size of Bush's big fish), then the blogospherian gate crashers aren't bound by ideology, but are, rather, all about the more pragmatic matter of winning elections. Nothing good will happen, after all, until we get new Congressional majority.

The next Senator from the state of Washington will be either Maria Cantwell or Mike McGavick.

Which side are you on?

Fish Story.

"I would say the best moment was when I caught a 7 1/2-pound largemouth bass on my lake."

Someplace along the translation line (the original story was published in German) the fish in question has mutated from a record setting freshwater perch to a stocked bass charitably described as, well, fair sized. The size and species of George's finned prey isn't what really struck me, though.

It was the way he tossed off "…my lake," as though owning your own lake is the most natural thing in the world.

Of course, there's nothing natural about Bush's private man-made lake, or the fish, for that matter, which are planted for his private angling pleasure.

And there it is. After six years as "the most powerful man in the world," the final Decider of all matters of national and international importance, George W. Bush's best moment was the solitary pursuit of a private pleasure on his private lake playing what was, in essence, a game of shoot the fish in the barrel.

Doesn't that seem a bit, I dunno, sociopathic to you?

But we're not

…talkin' 'bout a revolution. Just a little oversight.

Let John Conyers explain…
Perhaps, if we had a little oversight, we wouldn't be mired in a war based on false pretenses in which we have lost thousands of our brave men and women in uniform and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis.

Perhaps we would not have had an energy policy drawn up in secret with oil company executives that has led to gas prices of more than three dollars per gallon.

Perhaps, if we had a little oversight, we wouldn't have a prescription drug plan written by the pharmaceutical companies, that prohibits the government from negotiating for lower prices with the same drug companies, and that no one really understands.

Perhaps, if we had a little oversight, we would know the extent to which our own government is spying on our phone calls, emails and other communications, contrary to the law of the land.
Just a little oversight.

But first, a new Congress.


Steve M. grumbles a bit (with links)…
Let's see: Here's Atrios complaining about Mark Kleiman complaining about Atrios favorably linking to Digby complaining about Wonkette complaining about Peter Daou complaining about the media refusing to proclaim that Stephen Colbert was funny at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Is it possible that we're getting just a wee bit excessive in our meta-ness here?
For the record, he was funny.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

And now...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Ten for today…

The B list.
Booker T. & The MG's - Hip Hug Her
Black Crowes - Hard To Handle
Beau Brummels - Laugh Laugh
Blasters - Border Radio
Beatles - Boys
Black 47 - Watch All The Days
Beach Boys - Let Him Run Wild
Blues Traveler - Run Around
Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys - Uncle Pen
Buddy Holly - True Love Ways

I'll take $20,000.


My blog is worth $45,727.74.
How much is your blog worth?

Friday, May 05, 2006


Just off a conference call with Leader Pelosi. Lots to digest, but here are some quick notes.

Look for the House D's to roll out some good stuff in the coming weeks, starting with energy independence. The Leader promises a plan that will "…send our energy dollars to the mid-west instead of the Middle East."

With an enrollment deadline (and some generally overlooked penalties in store for the tardy) coming up, the "Bush prescription drug tax" will be on the agenda, along with the abandonment of the middle class through cuts in student financial aid program.

Net neutrality seems to be high on Pelosi's personal agenda, and she reports improved prospects within the caucus, but cautions that it can't be done without Republican help.

And, oh yeah. Broadband for every American in five years. I'm so down with that.

The whole thing was so, you know, inspiring...

Andrew's half right, anyway…

…when he writes...
It's high time that Maria Cantwell took a look around and realized that her support of George W. Bush's costly war is having costly repercussions that are hurting her reelection campaign.
Maria's taking a hit, alright, but it's not because she supports "George W. Bush's costly war." While her position isn't mine, it isn't his either. In fact, the Seattle Times guest editorial Andrew uses as a take-off point for his piece makes that pretty clear. While Maria remains in the "we broke it, we bought it" camp, she's pretty uncompromising in her criticism of Bush's efforts, writing that...
President Bush has not provided all the leadership necessary to build international support for stabilizing Iraq and getting the Iraqi troops trained.
She calls for exactly what Bush has failed to deliver...
The formation of the Iraqi government offers a new chance to succeed. But we need to set clear objectives and hold President Bush, Congress, U.S. military leaders and the Iraqis accountable for meeting them.
…and takes him to task for his go-it-alone attitude (with a not too subtle jab at the Veep's old pals)...
The president also needs to recognize that the U.S. cannot and should not rebuild Iraq alone. We can and should enlist international cooperation in that effort. Getting the rest of the world more involved in Iraqi reconstruction may cost Halliburton and others some contracts, but it will benefit Iraq while saving American taxpayers billions.
So, when Andrew writes that…
We will continue to support Maria Cantwell, but unless she changes her views on the administration's handling of the Iraq conflict, that support will be given reluctantly.
…what changes, exactly, is he looking for?

Should Senator Cantwell change her view that the President as offered inadequate leadership? Or her view that the administration should establish clear goals and be held accountable to them? Or should she give up on the idea that the President should be building a stronger international coalition and soliciting greater international investment for rebuilding Iraq?

I'll continue to support Maria, too, but with enthusiasm inspired in part by her ability to bring home the point she's been working tirelessly to make (my emphasis)...

President Bush must act with urgency. He must provide the leadership necessary to make sure that 2006 is the year that the new Iraqi government succeeds and our troops can begin to come home. We must work harder to get that done and we must also develop a long-term strategy to curb our nation's dangerous dependence on foreign oil.
As for State Chairman Pelz' concerns, well, the single issue anti-war crowd may never come around, but "passionate Democrats" need to get over it.

Passionate Democrats support the ticket, and the ticket is Maria.

Lots of new guests today... some of you may have never met the lovely and talented Miss Audrey Hepcat...

Speaking of good questions…

BobsAdvice has a timely one.

Does anyone recall the history of the Anthem?

I just thought I would remind everyone.

You know.

How we were fighting the BRITISH in the War of 1812. And now we are fighting to preserve the National Anthem so it shoud be sung only in the language of that enemy we were fighting?
Maybe we should sing it in the language of our true friends (true enough to tell us when we go wrong) through thick and thin, friends who never invaded our country.

You know, the French.

He wasn't perfect, of course...

…but he was certainly funny. Granted, Steven Colbert's timing slipped in spots, he blew one set up so badly he had to acknowledge it during his act and his 'audition' video was in desperate need of some good editing, but he was funny. If you've watched the video you've heard laughter throughout, even though a laugh out loud was likely to make you the target of a glare or two from those around you (and who'da thunk that Justice Scalia had the best sense of humor in DC?).

Even the laughers won't admit it now, though, and Dan Froomkin comes as close to the reason as I've seen in mainstream coverage...
What Colbert was saying about the guy sitting a few feet away from him -- and I think this is what made so many people in that room uncomfortable -- was: Don't believe a word he says.
Of course, there's a related reason that Froomkin touches on as well. The White House press corps got their own dose of plain truth from their guest...
Here they were, holding a swanky party for themselves, and Colbert was essentially telling them that they've completely screwed up their number one job these past six years.
The case typically put forward against Colbert isn't that he was wrong, but that he was rude. Maybe, but if you're going to make that case, you can't use the 'not funny' argument as part of it. What, after all, could be less funny than a satirist who's considerate of his audience's feelings? If folks don't squirm, at least a bit, then the satirist has certainly failed, hasn't he?

What's really surprising isn't anything Colbert said, or any Presidential irritation over the saying, but that we're still talking about a comic performance at a Beltway dinner party. If it's true that Colbert was really reaching past the room to cable and internet audiences across the country (and I think, to an extent, that is true), well, mission accomplished.

Inspired by Atrios.