Archive for September, 2006

Things are getting a little tense in the GOP House caucus

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

Man the lifeboats! On second thought screw that: Every man for himself!

A cafe reader asks for your thoughts

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

If you get a chance, take a moment give another reader your thoughts on an idea. 

Check out DonnaWade’s post in this thread.


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Can Bob Woodward be redeemed?

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

In a world (and an American political system) awash with hate, smallness and wasted opportunity, not to mention a monster’s serving of sorrow and unnecessary cruelty, it was always one of the smaller tragedies.  Still, watching Bob Woodward, one of the undisputed heroes of two generations of journalists, turn into a stooge for the worst president in American history has been painful.

(Note, henceforth in referring to Bush as being the worst president in history I’m dropping the “arguably,” “quite possibly,” “many historians believe” caveats; at this point it’s indisputable).

Now, with the publication of his new book, State of Denial, Woodward appears to have taken one very large step back from the road he’s been traveling toward becoming one of the greatest journalistic sellouts in modern times.  But is it enough to redeem him?  Is redemption even possible at this point?

Regular readers of this site know that I’m a softy at heart; because of that, I suppose, I’m a big believer in the power of redemption both for people and for nations (especially this nation I was born into and deeply love).

But with Woodward, I just can’t get around the feeling that he’s probably already beyond redemption, or at least complete redemption.  Back when it really mattered, when there was still time to avoid, or at the very least reduce, much of the damage Bush has been doing to this country and the world in general, Woodward was happily (and profitably) playing the fool for the man.  Only now that the whole corrupted temple is showing signs of crumbling even without his help, does he jump on board the bandwagon.

No, this isn’t redemption.  This is just wanting to hang with the cool crowd.

They thought they were untouchable

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

After all the despicable things Republicans in the House of Representatives have done in recent years, it’s sad to think it may have taken something like this to bring them down a peg or two. What was Foley thinking? Sending out sexually suggestive messages to underage House pages — by e-mail!!! Is there any mode of communication more likely to be uncovered, shared and ultimately widely disseminated?

And what were GOP congressional leaders thinking when, at best, they intentionally overlooked the problem, or, at worst, engaged in a full-blown cover-up?

Actually, there’s very little mystery to it: It’s the same pattern that keeps popping up in the similarly brazen escapades in the Jack Abramoff scandal: They thought they were untouchable. And why wouldn’t they? They had it all, absolute control over every aspect of the federal government; there was nothing on the landscape but friendly faces, always ready to clean up any unfortunate messes (this is in no way intended to impugn the integrity of the professional staff at the Justice Department or other federal investigative agencies, such as the FBI).

But that was before: Some scandals, by the nature of things, don’t clean up very easily. And this one isn’t going away until every rock is turned over and every pebble is dusted.

I can only imagine what scum we’re going to find.

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Time to swallow hard and defend the Democrats who did the right thing

Friday, September 29th, 2006

This may not be popular in some quarters, but I calls ‘em as I sees ‘em. We wanted Senate Democrats to filibuster, but I guess that wasn’t in the cards. Still, 33 Democrats in the Senate and 160 in the House voted against the so-called antiterrorism bill — thereby voting to oppose torture and the indefinite detention of suspects without legal recourse. They didn’t oppose it as early, as forcefully or as diligently as many of us would have liked. But in the end the vast majority of congressional Democrats did vote against it.

And, yes, that does mean something.

At least in this one sense, they stood up for the constitution against a wholesale Republican attack against it. And almost certainly, many of them did so at least in part because they knew how strongly the Democratic base felt about the issue. And now, because of it, every one of them, to at least some degree, has a big target painted on his or her chest.

The gunfire has already erupted: This from a Bush fundraiser (what else?) in Alabama, “Five years after 9/11, the worst attack on the American homeland in our history, Democrats offer nothing but criticism and obstruction and endless second-guessing,” Bush said. “The party of FDR and the party of Harry Truman has become the party of cut and run.”

As mad as many of us have been at the congressional Democrats in recent days, it’s time to suck it up. We can’t afford to let the GOP get away with this. Most obviously, another two years of undivided Republican rule would cause this country incalculable damage. But even beyond that, if having taken a stand for constitutional rule (be it a depressingly halfhearted one) congressional Democrats now end up getting smacked for it at the polls, we won’t stand a chance of ever getting many of them to take such a stand (let alone a stronger one) ever again.

There’ve been a lot of complaints online that the netroots don’t get the respect, support and opportunities for coordinated action we deserve from the Democratic Party establishment — objections that, in my opinion, are very well taken. Well, here’s our chance to begin changing all that — an opportunity to prove once and for all that in addition to Crashing the Gates, we can also play a crucial role in defending them against the GOP.

(more…)

This is the best we can do?

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

There are just under 300 million people in the US — only 100 of them are US senators.  Given that large of a pool to choose from you’d think we’d come up with some prime cut quality leadership.

Think again.

(CNN) Lott: Bush barely mentioned Iraq in meeting with Senate Republicans, (via Atrios)

WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Bush barely mentioned the war in Iraq when he met with Republican senators behind closed doors in the Capitol Thursday morning and was not asked about the course of the war, Sen. Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, said.

“No, none of that,” Lott told reporters after the session when asked if the Iraq war was discussed. “You’re the only ones who obsess on that. We don’t and the real people out in the real world don’t for the most part.”

Lott went on to say he has difficulty understanding the motivations behind the violence in Iraq.

“It’s hard for Americans, all of us, including me, to understand what’s wrong with these people,” he said. “Why do they kill people of other religions because of religion? Why do they hate the Israeli’s and despise their right to exist? Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference? They all look the same to me.”

Remember, this guy used to be the Majority Leader of the United States Senate.  It would seem that the case of foot-in-mouth disease (and the racism that helped to feed it) that brought him down hasn’t gone into complete remission – a point of some importance given the talk of his possible return to the GOP leadership

The IRS investigates liberal churches, but this is okay

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

As we’ve discussed before, the IRS is harassing a liberal California church for alleged partisan political activity based upon nothing more than the minister giving an antiwar sermon (you know that turn the other cheek crap) shortly before the 2004 election (although no candidate was indorsed). 

On the other hand, as seen in this article posted today, the Southern Baptist Convention, which continues to operate as a virtual arm of the Republican National Committee, goes merrily about its business.

This goes beyond hypocrisy.  It’s the use of one of the most feared arms of the federal government as a weapon of political intimidation.  There is literally nothing these people won’t do.

Must we always pander?

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

As the Senate prepares to sell out much of what this country stands for – not for a little security, but for a big campaign issue – Democrats stew.  We can’t decide who we’re angrier at, the Republicans for doing it, or the Democrats for letting them do it so easily.  And we have plenty to be angry (and frightened) about.

This from as Op-Ed in the LA Times:

BURIED IN THE complex Senate compromise on detainee treatment is a real shocker, reaching far beyond the legal struggles about foreign terrorist suspects in the Guantanamo Bay fortress. The compromise legislation, which is racing toward the White House, authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights.

This dangerous compromise not only authorizes the president to seize and hold terrorists who have fought against our troops “during an armed conflict,” it also allows him to seize anybody who has “purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.” This grants the president enormous power over citizens and legal residents. They can be designated as enemy combatants if they have contributed money to a Middle Eastern charity, and they can be held indefinitely in a military prison.

The New York Times, in an excellent editorial decrying this outrage, is actually kinder to congressional Democrats than many rank and file Democrats are inclined to be.

Rushing Off a Cliff

We don’t blame the Democrats for being frightened. The Republicans have made it clear that they’ll use any opportunity to brand anyone who votes against this bill as a terrorist enabler. But Americans of the future won’t remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration.

They’ll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Alright, so congressional Democrats are justifiably scared, but does the response to political danger always have to be pandering and surrender?  How about fighting like hell for our national values instead? 

Why not — finally — counterattack full force on the real issue of how Bush and the Republicans have politicized the war against terror?  For an administration immersed in disgrace, surely this is one of the worst examples.  They took a nation united in common purpose following the Sept. 11 attacks and deliberately split it apart for political gain.  I think many people see this, even know it intuitively.  And it’s the worst sort of ugliness.  It’s time to call them on it in a big way.

And it’s time to stop running away.     

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Some (Republican) leaders don’t deserve to be called Americans

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

Even in the rough and tumble of politics, there are places where honor, decency, and yes, even patriotism, demand that politicians not go.  Challenging the loyalty of people fighting to uphold American constitutional liberties is one of those places.

Yet, here is what one of the most powerful officeholders in this nation had to say about efforts by Democratic members of Congress to add some small, if utterly insufficient, degree of respect for personal liberties to the so-called antiterrorism bill:

After Wednesday’s mostly party-line vote in the Republican-run House, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said in a statement that Democrats who voted against the measure “voted today in favor of more rights for terrorists.”

He added, “So the same terrorists who plan to harm innocent Americans and their freedom worldwide would be coddled, if we followed the Democrat plan.”

What am I supposed to say?  Seriously, what words can even begin to express the depravity?  This man doesn’t deserve to be elected sheriff of a small rural county, let alone Speaker of the House of Representatives.  His words are indisputably un-American.

Yet, they aren’t the least bit surprising, are they?  In fact, this may fairly be described as business as usual for the Republican Party.  These are, after all, the same people who won a Senate seat in Georgia in 2002 by questioning the honor and patriotism of Max Cleland, who only lost three limbs fighting for this nation in Vietnam (and can any one say
dé·jà vu this year). 

And it’s the same crew who falsely and maliciously besmirched the courage of John Kerry, a true American hero, so as to secure the reelection of a president who used his daddy’s connections to avoid having to fight in the same war.

They are also the same people who, ever since the attacks on Sept. 11, have consistently equated dissent with disloyalty, protest with treason and independent thought with providing aid and comfort to the enemy.

Still, this is a democracy, even if a very sick one at present: And in a democracy accountability doesn’t flow just one way.  Yes, office holders are ultimately accountable to the electorate, but we the voters are also accountable for the decisions we make. And the harsh reality is that if we continue to reward un-American political conduct at the polling booths, we become as responsible for that conduct and the harm it does to our constitutional system as all the Hasterts, Cheneys and Bushes themselves.

So yes, some Republican leaders don’t deserve to be called Americans.

But then how many of the rest of us do?


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Question: Is there anything you care less about than Paris Hilton’s DUI?

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

I only ask because it’s a fair bet that we’ll be hearing a lot more about it in the weeks leading up to the election than we will about Iraq.

The major media has to have its priorities after all.



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