Can we bring popcorn?

January 26th, 2007 by Steve

According to Newsweek, Libby’s lawyers have subpoenaed Karl Rove.

First, I should confess that I secretly hope Scooter Libby doesn’t have to go to jail.  No one with a name that cute could possibly survive the big house.  (Yes, I know he’d go to a minimum security facility, it was a joke for Pete’s sake.)

Still, assuming his defense team continues to make life unpleasant for the White House, personally I’ll be satisfied if he receives probation.  (And may I suggest having him do his community service cleaning the toilets at the CIA).

Meanwhile, here’s the question of the day: Is Libby’s legal team bluffing (pressuring Bush to pardon him), or are they seriously going to call Rove as a witness? 

Please let it be the latter, pretty please with sugar on top.  Talk about a great show.  I’m generally no fan of cameras in the courtroom, but not having Rove’s testimony televised (which in federal court it won’t be) will truly be a crime against entertainment.

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When a blowjob was king

January 26th, 2007 by Steve

One big problem with much of what passes as moral thinking today is the tendency to treat morality as a black and white issue, when, of course, it’s actually about all those irritating shades of gray.

Murder and adultery may both be immoral, for example, but while most people would agree that life in prison can be a just sanction for the former, surely no one but a raving lunatic would argue it’s a morally defensible penalty for the latter (the recent ruling of the Michigan Court of Appeals notwithstanding).

So it would seem incontestable that to be a moral person, one must have a morally defensible sense of proportion. The sort of sense of proportion, for instance, that allows one to recognize that a sexual act between consenting adults is a less grievous crime than, oh, say, committing fraud in order to start a war that ends up killing hundreds of thousands of people.

So let us travel back to the waning days of the last millennium, to a time when a blowjob was king. We refer, of course, to Bill Clinton’s ill-fated tryst with a certain young intern. Take a moment, if you will, to remember back to that time of yore; let the sights and sounds of beltway moral outrage roll over you like the polluted wine from a Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Baker or Ted Haggard communion service.

Oh, yes, those were the heady days of righteous indignation among the beltway punditocracy. Most famous of all, of course, were the comments of the “dean” himself, David Broder who said of Clinton, “He came in here and he trashed the place and it’s not his place.”

Now fast forward eight years or so, to a time when — thank God — the White House appears safe from unsavory blowjobs, but where there’s that little matter of Bush & Co.’s clear deceit in leading our nation into one of the greatest foreign policy blunders in its history. Where’s the righteous passion among our opinion leaders today?

The answer, of course, is that for the most part it’s nowhere to be found, packed away perhaps in the same secret hiding place as the weapons of mass destruction. Dean Broder still seems mostly to care about maintaining decorum among the denizens of inside the beltway Washington. And by that I mean the people who belong there, like Joe Lieberman, as opposed to pretenders to the throne like Bill Clinton. In a recent column, for example, he sings the praises of an illusory opportunity for “A Chance For Unity On Iraq.” Yeah that’s the ticket. What’s important is unity among the ruling elite, not ending the war.

That’s a well-grounded view of moral proportionality all right — a consensual blowjob means there’s hell to pay, but defraud the nation into embracing disaster and massive bloodshed and any talk of accountability is met with a resounding “heavens no.” Why do that when, instead, we can simply let bygones be bygones, hold hands and sing a few verses of “Here Comes the Sun?”

I know this has all been said before, but maybe not enough from the standpoint of morality: Because ultimately, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that many of this nation’s top opinion leaders have a staggeringly amoral view of the universe.

And these are the guys who are supposed to lead our national dialogue.

Update: Like I said, it’s all been said before, here by Alterman, via Cliff.

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Another blow for Iraqi brotherhood

January 25th, 2007 by Steve

I see that things are still going swimmingly in the effort to tame sectarian tensions in Iraq,

(NY Times) Angry Dispute Erupts Among Iraqi Lawmakers

BAGHDAD, Jan. 25 — Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s presentation of a new Baghdad security plan to the Iraqi Parliament on Thursday broke down in bitter sectarian recriminations, with Mr. Maliki threatening a Sunni Arab lawmaker with arrest and, in response, the Sunni speaker of Parliament threatening to quit.
Eventually, the tensions eased and lawmakers approved the security plan, which gives Mr. Maliki, a Shiite, more authority. But the episode provided the Iraqi public with a live televised view of the extent of raw anger dividing Shiite and Sunni politicians.
Outside of Parliament, bloody sectarian battles continued on the streets of Baghdad. Three hours after the confrontation between lawmakers, a huge car bomb killed at least 25 people in the Karrada district, less than a mile from Parliament in an area favored by leading Shiite politicians. Residents there reported a horrific scene, with two busloads of people trapped in their vehicles and burned alive.

But, hey, Cheney says everything is going great over there.  So I guess we can all just relax and leave it to the adults in charge to do what’s right.

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Episode 52: Death visits after midnight

January 24th, 2007 by Steve

We’ve shared a lot of lighthearted moments here in café and there will be many more. But sometimes life takes us into darker places.

The Last Chance Democracy Cafe

Episode 52: Death visits after midnight

by Steven C. Day

Memory can be a funny thing: What our minds keep and what they throw away. In the case of our earliest childhood experiences, of course, almost everything gets tossed, victimized by what experts call childhood amnesia. But out of this blanket of early darkness, most of us retain at least one small pinprick of light in t
he form of our earliest memory. Often it’s nothing particularly noteworthy; an everyday event seemingly picked at random, almost like the reward given to the millionth person to drive across a bridge.

Donald, one of our Tuesday night regulars at The Last Chance Democracy Café, told me once that his first memory is of the coast of Maine. He was three years old, on the only extended vacation his family would ever take.

While walking along one of the rare bits of sandy beach to be found on the rocky coast of Maine, they came across a large piece of driftwood, probably from the main trunk of the tree. It had been run aground by the incoming tide. Donald and his sister both sat on it with one leg on each side like they were riding a horse, and their father pushed it back into the water, only to have the next large wave send them crashing back onto the sand. They did this again and again, laughing and generally having the time of their lives.

It was the only entirely unadulterated happy memory Donald would ever have of his father.

* * *

Donald had called me a couple of hours earlier. He sounded shaken.

“Steve,” he began, “tonight . . . well, actually tomorrow, right after midnight. My dad . . .”

I didn’t want to force him say the words. “I know,” I broke in quickly. “I heard.”

“Yeah, well, anyway, I had Cindy and the kids go to her parents for awhile. I thought it would be easier on them that way. And I was wondering . . . would it be okay if I came to the lounge tonight? I don’t want to be a downer or turn the place into a circus, but reporters will be calling and . . . I’d rather be out of the house when it happens.”

“Of course, we’d love to see you.”

I quickly called Horace, Tom, and Winston. Donald liked them, I knew, and, maybe more importantly under the circumstances, respected them. I figured he could use the support. I called Zach, our young college friend, too. I thought he might learn something.

Read the rest of this entry »

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You get over it Justice Scalia

January 24th, 2007 by Steve

Justice Scalia says we need to get over Bush v. Gore.

Perhaps the “good” justice should face a few facts himself: Bush v. Gore will go down in history as the worst decision ever handed down by the Supreme Court, one which, coincidentally, led to the inauguration of the worst president in American history.

History will damn Scalia (and the others) for this.

So get over that Justice Scalia.

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A star is born

January 24th, 2007 by Steve

On the very unlikely chance anyone here has not yet watched Jim Webb’s SOU response, take a moment to open up a bottle of champagne/wine/beer/mineral water (whatever is your cup of tea), oh yeah, or cup of tea — and enjoy.

Fighting to put the Democrats in charge of Congress was worth it.  If this is any indication, these guys heard what we said and intend to fight.

Go here to watch.


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Lordy, Cheney’s been a bad boy

January 23rd, 2007 by Steve

Just in case you missed it (or want to comment on it), Libby trial blockbuster here.

Stolen from BuzzFlash (they won’t mind we’re friends)

Update: It also appears Libby’s not inclined to take a fall for the White House.

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This helicopter thing is spooky

January 23rd, 2007 by Steve

Two choppers down in four days.  If the insurgents have learned how to regularly shoot down helicopters, this thing is going to get a lot bloodier fast.  Remember, taking out Soviet helicopters was a big part of how the rebels hurt the USSR in Afghanistan.

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Does the name Cheney guarantee publication of just any crap at all?

January 23rd, 2007 by Steve

Okay, let’s add up the score in the Cheney family literary sweepstakes:

First, one Cheney daughter writes a book that’s so awful that it tanks in sales despite tremendous free publicity, largely generated from calling John Kerry a “son of a bitch” and John Edwards a “total slime.”

Second, we have a second Cheney daughter publish an OpEd in the Washington Post that is so pathetically lame that I personally think Josh Marshall owes middle school students everywhere an apology for saying it reads like something authored by someone in junior high school.

All of which raises the interesting question: Does the name Cheney entitle one to publish in a leading outlet just any old crap at all?

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Episodes and other café stuff

January 22nd, 2007 by Steve

Changes are a coming (actually they’ve already come) to The Last Chance Democracy Café.  Most importantly, we have committed to producing new episodes on a regular basis, something that’s been absent for a long time.  The idea is to post a new one every other Thursday.  We’ll probably miss the deadline once in awhile, but we intend to make that the exception.

Episodes are the one truly unique thing about The Last Chance Democracy Café.  There are a million political blogs out there, but only one group of wise men gathered around the large round table.  But here’s the thing: It’s hard to hook new readers on a long term series like this.  So do me a favor, regulars — whenever you can, spread the word.

Here’s another thing: Writing episodes is very time consuming.  So while I intend to keep the blog active, posts will be shorter and perhaps a little less common than they have been (you may already have noticed the trend).  We have a fine little community going here.  So I’m hoping you regulars will keep the conversation going.

In case you missed it, the last episode, posted a week and a half ago, is here.

The next episode will be going up this Thursday. 

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