Friday, July 27, 2007

Absolute Disasters of Human Beings

I don't want to wade too deeply into this, but the conservative blogosphere is made up of some pretty horrible people. Case in point, their recent all-out assault on a US soldier serving in Iraq (see madness: here*; see coverage: here here here here). In a nutshell, here is what happened:
  1. Using a pseudonym, the soldier writes a story for The New Republic (TNR) detailing some rather disturbing behavior on the part of himself and fellow soldiers in Iraq.
  2. Nutcases on the right, declare that because we don't know his name- the story is made up and demand that TNR apologize for making things up.
  3. The soldier who wrote it comes forward to let the right wing know that he does, indeed, exist.
  4. Nutcases on the right, from the safety of their parents' basements, personally attack the soldier going as far as to post pictures of him on their blogs and threaten him with physical harm.

My one thought in reading all of this is, who on God's green Earth behaves this way? These aren't some isolated crackpots who are doing this, these are people who guest host for Bill O'Reilly, appear on CNN and write for major American newspapers. Yet, when faced with the fact that they were 100% wrong, they don't kindly apologize and then decide to shut the F-up. Instead, they act like a pack of wild dogs who just got a taste of blood. As Digby notes, the fact that war makes soldiers do things which are morally questionable or downright wrong, is not a secret. But in listening to the right wing on this, you would think that war is all gumdrop bullets and lollipop IEDs.

*I don't often check out Malkin's blog, but doesn't it seem that she is coming unhinged? It is like reading something written by someone suffering from schizophrenia. It is both rambling and random, visually disorganized and is filled with paranoid delusions.

Fatigue

Back in May, I noted that there was very little mention about Bush Fatigue in the mainstream media, while back when Clinton was President, it seemed like every other story was about how the public was growing tired of him.

Atrios has a similar post today, and while I relied on my intuition, he has actually done some research. Here is what he found:
Number of times the term "Clinton fatigue" appeared, according to a Nexis search, in major papers during July of 1999: 27.

Clinton Gallup poll approval rating in July of 1999: 64

Number of times the term "Bush fatigue" has appeared, so far, in July of 2007: 1, courtesy of Byron York's hair.

Bush Gallup poll approval rating in July of 2007: 31.

This really just makes you want to put your head in a microwave oven. Clinton was TWICE as popular as Bush is, at the same point in his presidency, yet the thought that the public is sick of Bush barely enters the press discourse. The only time it did, it came from the right.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Why Gonzales is Staying

By and large, I think Josh Marshall is right about Gonzales staying. If he were to go, there would be a full airing of all the Justice Department's dirty laundry. Right now, Gonzales is sitting on top of an absolute gold mine of Justice Department misdeeds and the Bush administration is not going to let that go public. Also, if he were to resign, the Democrats would be responsible for confirming his replacement and the replacement AG would almost certainly be more willing to work with Congress.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Something everyone can agree on

I watched some of the lowlights from the Gonzales hearing today, and I all I can say is that impeachment proceedings should start on him immediately. If the President won't get rid of him, we will get rid of him ourselves. I think this comment from the Washington Post blog sums it up perfectly (from Atrios):
No reasonable person watching Gonzales' tragically comedic performance Tuesday's on Capitol Hill-- especially his miserable exchange with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in late morning-- can any longer defend his appalling lack of competence, courage and credibility. And no one who hears him say that he is what's best for the Department right now should forget that on the eve of his testimony (and a few days after he urged his subordinates to work diligently to regain their morale) the nation's top law enforcement official reportedly left work early to go for a bike ride Monday afternoon-- at about 3:50 p.m.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Perspective from CNN

This was not brilliant-



Too much more of this and I am moving in with Pork Rinds

Perspective from Edwards

This was brilliant-

Double Super Secret Plans

The White House's plan for governing after a terrorist attack is so secret, not even members of Congress- who serve on the Homeland Security Committee are able to see it:
Constituents called Rep. Peter DeFazio's office, worried there was a conspiracy buried in the classified portion of a White House plan for operating the government after a terrorist attack.

As a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, DeFazio, D-Ore., is permitted to enter a secure "bubbleroom'' in the Capitol and examine classified material. So he asked the White House to see the secret documents.

On Wednesday, DeFazio got his answer: DENIED.

I am sure there is nothing to be concerned with here. Well, except for the fact that this is unprecedented-

Norm Ornstein, a legal scholar who studies government continuity at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said he ``cannot think of one good reason'' to deny access to a member of Congress who serves on the Homeland Security Committee.

"I find it inexplicable and probably reflective of the usual knee-jerk overextension of executive power that we see from this White House,'' Ornstein said.


I think the lesson to be learned here is that we should trust the President- unconditionally.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

When Character Matters

Marc Ambinder (who I wrote about here and here) has a follow-up post that attempts to answer his critics. He tries to make the argument that the story was important because it shows us something about Edward's character and his ability to advocate for the poor. However, this is just silly. I cannot see how his decision to get an expensive haircut will inform his policies regarding poverty or how it says anything about who Edwards is as a person.

Even if Ambinder is correct, this is not a standard which is applied uniformly (if at all). For example, look at the coverage of Bush back in 1999-2000. At that time, there was evidence to suggest that he was an absolutely horrible person who had little concern for how others felt. Perhaps the most horrid example comes from an interview Tucker Carlson did with Bush in 1999 where Bush mocked the pleas of a condemned prisoner:
In the weeks before the execution, Bush says, a number of protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Karla Faye Tucker. "Did you meet with any of them?" I ask. Bush whips around and stares at me. "No, I didn't meet with any of them", he snaps, as though I've just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. "I didn't meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with Tucker, though. He asked her real difficult questions like, 'What would you say to Governor Bush?'" "What was her answer?" I wonder. "'Please,'" Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "'don't kill me.'" I must look shocked — ridiculing the pleas of a condemned prisoner who has since been executed seems odd and cruel — because he immediately stops smirking.

Yet if Ambinder is right, and that political journalists are just trying to highlight possible character flaws in candidates, why didn't this story get some serious coverage? In 2000, Bush sold himself as a compassionate conservative and committed Christian- if anything, the Karla Faye Tucker story shows that Bush was full of it. However, this story is relatively unknown and I only came across it a couple years ago while reading a blog entry on Atrios.

Compare the relative silence on this story with the hubbub surrounding Al Gore's mythic pronouncement that he invented the Internet in 2000. Gore was mocked endlessly by the political press for saying that he invented the internet, when he actually said nothing of the sort. The story was supposed to show that Gore was someone who exaggerated a little too much and suggested that he had some serious honesty problems.

Seen in this light, Ambinder's original assertion that this is all about revealing important character flaws is ridiculous. The political press chooses to cover certain stories because they are just very petty people with an inflated sense of importance. They aren't wisely presiding over our public discourse because they want to inform the American people, they are playing the same type of game silly teenagers play.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Troops Hate America: Further Evidence

Our soldiers must really hate freedom, here are the percentage of contributions given by soldiers to our current slate of Presidential contenders:

Group 1
Ron Paul 26.23%
Barack Obama 24.02%
Hillary Clinton 11.08%
Bill Richardson 5.59%
John Edwards 2.63%
Joe Biden 0.84%
Mike Gravel 0.16%
Dennis Kucinich 0.05%
Chris Dodd 0%

Group 2
John McCain 18.31%
Mitt Romney 4.05%
Rudy Giuliani 2.44%
Mike Huckabee 1.84%
Tom Tancredo 1.63%
Duncan Hunter 1.05%
Sam Brownback 0.07%
Tommy Thompson 0%
Jim Gilmore 0%
John Cox 0%

Do you notice the difference between those in Group 1 and those in Group 2? Group 1 represents all of the candidates that want to see an end to the war in Iraq, which had 70.6% of all donations from the troops. Group 2 wants this war to last indefinitely and they got 29.4% of all donations from troops.

Joe Lieberman is going to be hopping mad when he finds out that the troops are being partisan.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Right Kind of People

The President's practice of going exclusively to friendly audiences is certainly not new, as BarbinMD at DailyKos reveals, a similar gathering went on today in Nashville. The President was barraged with tough questions such as these:

Q Sir, thank you very much for your service to our country so far, we appreciate that very much.

Q Mr. President, I appreciate your position on the war in Iraq. We've got a debate that's going on as much about should we stay or should we come home. Is there a way to change the tenor of the debate to determine how we win in Iraq?

Q I personally admire the way you've conducted the government and I admire your backbone, where you just stand and take a position. (Applause.) I'm not happy about the influx from Mexico...Now then, thirdly, when they do these polls to determine how you're rated, how come, if they have 1,000 people, they call 750 Democrats and only 25 Republicans? (Laughter and applause.)

Q And I want to thank you for the appointments or the nominations for our Supreme Court. That will be a wonderful legacy for you. (Applause.)

Q Semper Fi. First of all, Mr. President, I want to thank you, personally, for your support for our veterans. My son was lost in Iraq, and I want to thank you very much for your strength.

THE PRESIDENT: Thanks. Thanks for sharing that.

Q I also wish that there was some way that, as the press make so much to-do about what goes on in areas around pretty much the 50-mile area around Baghdad, which is pretty much where everything is going on, if there was some way to offset that with all of the great things that are going on.


So, the White House was able to find the last half-dozen people remaining in this country who still think the President is the most bestest President ever. Yet apart from just how damn creepy this all is, shouldn't there be some serious press scrutiny over this practice?

For one, isn't it a bit disconcerting that only those who think the President is awesome get to ask him questions? Those that really dislike the President also pay taxes, why shouldn't they have an opportunity to speak their minds? Couldn't someone in the press corps ask this question of either the President or Tony Snow? When you think about what it means for this country, that a President views himself as only the leader of those that support him- it's an absolute outrage. If the press was really interested in asking the tough questions, they could certainly ask about this.
Secondly, what does it say about a man who cannot face ALL of the people? Why must he be protected from any possible criticism?

If we lived in a world where the press was focused on keeping the powerful in check and not on trivial news stories, we might be able to find this all out. Yet, I cannot recall a single news story which asked if this practice was fair. The Daily Show did a bit on how maddening these Potemkin Town Halls are, but outside of this the press has been happy to let the President and his crazed supporters play pretend.

The Beltway Clique

Onto Ambinder's other ridiculous statements in his post. He offers another reason why the press latched onto the Edwards story and not the Romney story:

There is a difference in the political reality: fairly or unfairly, a healthy chunk of the national political press corps doesn't like John Edwards.

Fairly or unfairly, there's also a difference in narrative timing: when the first quarter ended, the press was trying to bury Edwards. It's not so much interested in burying Romney right now -- many reporters think he's the Republican frontrunner.

I am really too pissed off to offer anything thoughtful here, so I will let Digby say it for me:
Now, I am not especially surprised that the press corps doesn't like John Edwards. Many of these people probably didn't like guys like him in high school either and one thing we know about the political press corps is that they have never matured beyond the 11th grade. (See: chilean bass stupidity.) But I have to ask, once again, just who in the hell these people think they are and why they think they are allowed to pick our candidates for us based upon their own "feelings" about them? I don't recall electing them to anything. (But, hey, maybe we should just poll the kewl kidz and find out which candidate they "like, totally, like" and we can cancel the election and save a lot of time and money.)

This is our Beltway press corps, in a nutshell. They see themselves as divine creatures. They know what's best for the American people, and they will base those decisions on the most ridiculous of reasons. This, of course, isn't the first time its happened. The press corps fell in love with George W. Bush and hated Al Gore. They mocked John Kerry, Howard Dean, and John Edwards in 2004, while their naughty parts became engorged at the first sight of the War President.

They managed these elections like high school girls manage their own popularity. Unfortunately for us, the outcome here wasn't that Sally got to be homecoming queen, instead we ended up mired in a war that won't end, an economy that is just moments away from collapse and a Constitution that is now in the White House septic tank.

Thanks guys!

Disposable Class Awareness

The Beltway press is the most incredibly petty group of individuals to ever walk the Earth. In a post by Marc Ambinder at the Atlantic, he mentions why John Edwards getting a $400 haircut should have rightly been a story, while Mitt Romney spending $300 on make-up should not be a story.

There is just so much crap here it is hard to get through without putting your head into a microwave oven. So much so, that this will be two posts. The first major problem with Ambinder is the ridiculous assertion that the hair cut matters because Edwards is essentially being a hypocrite over his stance on poverty:

Why doesn't John Edwards's hair equal Mitt Romney's face paint?

The primary difference is definitional: The centerpiece of Edwards's campaign is his anti-poverty efforts; he presents himself as a dedicated messenger for the cause, and he likes expensive haircuts, bought a gimungous house, etc. etc. His credibility as a messenger comes into question when he spends money ostentatiously. (The haircut was inadvertently billed to the campaign, a spokesman later said).

First, Edwards is running for the highest office in the land and if it looked like a drunk monkey cut his hair he would be ridiculed. Second, why should someone apologize for doing well for themselves? Edwards came from working class roots but then worked hard and enjoyed enormous success. Good for him. Why is it that his spending is considered crass, but if you come from money it is okay and you can still say you understand regular folks? As Glenn Greenwald says:
Beyond that, every politician claims to understand and be devoted to the plight of the "working family." Mitt Romney and George Bush, born to great wealth, certainly make those claims, even though they haven't been anywhere near "working families" since the day they were born. Ronald Reagan was endlessly held up as the fighter for "working families" despite his personal wealth. If Edwards' wealth makes him so suspect when he claims to be devoted to the poor, why doesn't the in-born, unearned wealth of Bush and Romney -- and every other non-poor politician -- make them equally suspect as advocates for "America's working families"?

Yet, the largest problem here, is that those who represent the elite, like Ambinder, have no idea what class means in America- while Edwards has lived it. Like your racial background or your religious background, if you are coming from the working class it is not something that just magically disappears if you attain a certain status. However, for those who grow up comfortably, social class isn't something that matters. For them, it can be switched off.

This is why those that manage the public discourse can't believe that Edwards can be both wealthy and focused on class issues. Once he attained that certain financial status, he surrendered any authority on what it means to be poor in this country. But, those of us who grew up as working class know better than this. It may be harder to recognize someone who grew up needing food stamps to get by, but that doesn't mean a certain awareness about life's difficulties doesn't follow you for the rest of your days.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Touche

Of all the mysteries in the world, the one that I have never been able to fully wrap my head around is, "Why would anyone ever listen to Bill Kristol?" The man has been wrong about everything, especially on Iraq.

His latest example of outright hackery was published in the Washington Post, made the argument that history will judge Bush kindly. As you may well imagine, the piece was just ridiculous and had no right to be featured in any newspaper, much less the Post. Fortunately, David Corn has provided a much needed reality check for Kristol. Please read.

Journalistic Theater

Of all the horrible coverage on the Republican filibuster, this is absolutely the worst.

True, there is a bit of political theater involved here but it is happening for a reason. Senate Republicans are purposefully ignoring the wishes of the American people, we want an end to the conflict in Iraq. While we pay the price for this mismanaged ill-conceived war, the President's supporters have managed to keep us headed in the wrong direction. They don't seem to care that this war has cost us billions, thousands of American and innocent Iraqi lives.

Instead of pointing this out, Tumulty frames it as a petty political squabble. The problem, as Tumulty sees it, is that it is just so UNCOOL to point out that the Republicans are standing in the way of what the American people want.

Unfortunately, the reaction from the pundit class is not that surprising. They are more concerned with finger-wagging than they are with things that actually matter to the American people.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

If only

If only the news of the day looked like this:



What pisses me off is that Olbermann is considered a liberal. He is really just an honest journalist.

Al Qaeda Everywhere

Over at TPM, Josh Marshall has a short video explaining just how devious President Bush is being in regards to the different factions in Iraq. Watch it here.

As expected, the press has decided to swallow the line that the only enemy we face in Iraq is the terrorists.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Good Move

I just thought I would join the chorus in celebrating the fact that Harry Reid is going to force an actual filibuster over the Iraq War. The American people need to understand just how far the Republicans will go in supporting this horrible war.

I am also dying to find out how the pundit class is going to react to this. My gut tells me they will paint this as the Democrats being too partisan/political. Instead of what it really is, the Republicans ignoring the will of the American people.

Anger and the Democrats

I was going to reply to Disco in the comment thread of my last entry, but I thought it would be better to leave it as a post. As he notes:
The numbers are low because of Congress's inaction on 1] failure to substantially move towards redeployment in Iraq, 2] failure to move towards Impeachment, or 3] both issues.

I think 3 is probably right. However, I do worry that Democrats are somewhat misdirecting their anger. In the Senate we are operating with the thinnest majority possible. As of now, we have 50 Senators to their 49 (with Johnson of South Dakota still recuperating). However, on some issues we are actually in the minority as Lieberman sides with the Republicans on a lot of foreign policy issues. We also need to remember that the Senate provides the minority party with a lot of rights, hence the recent dust-up over the usage of the filibuster by Senate Republicans.

Even if we do pass something, we then must contend with the veto. President Bush has made it quite clear that he will veto just about anything now that the Democrats are in charge and with the current Republican Cult, overriding a presidential veto is damn near impossible.

I worry that over the next 16 months, many Democrats will forget that we are in a tough position on so many important issues. And as a consequence, will stop supporting good Democratic candidates. As I wrote about a few days ago, there already seems to be a disturbing trend where liberals are throwing up their hands in disgust over the fact that things haven't changed immediately. We need to stop doing that. Otherwise, I fear that we will end up losing big in 2008, and go through another 8 years of destructive Republican rule.

The Press vs. The People

I love this post by Glenn Greenwald. In it, he shows just how far removed the press is in regards to what the American people think by looking at recent poll results on a whole host of different issues. In short, the American people want greater oversight of the Bush Administration, an end to the war in Iraq and widely disagree with the Scooter Libby commutation. Yet, according to the Beltway press, all of these are thought to be fringe opinions.

He also points out something that is quite important- in regards to the current disparity between the press and the people. Pundits have been keen to point out that the approval ratings for Congress are very low which, they believe, shows that the American people want to see an end to partisan squabbles. The numbers, however, don't bear this point out. The reason for the low approval ratings is that Democrats are not happy with the lack of partisanship as nearly 50% of all Democrats disapprove of the job Congress is doing. We want our leaders in Congress to show some spine and not roll over when the Republicans start whining. We want them to fight back.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

They're all crazy

As the Guardian reports, Dick "Last Throes" Cheney is currently winning the internal White House debate on Iran. I don't think I need to tell you what he is advocating for. But in case you have been sleeping for 6.5 years, here you go:
The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned.
...
The vice-president, Dick Cheney, has long favoured upping the threat of military action against Iran. He is being resisted by the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and the defence secretary, Robert Gates.

But wait, it gets even nuttier. One of the candidates seeking the Republican nomination, Sen. Sam Brownback, has come out and said that he would preemptively strike Iran if elected president. He was interviewed by Sean Hannity on Fox News, when they had the following exchange:
Hannity: There’s probably going to come a point for the next president that they’re going to have to determine whether to go out and have that preemptive strike. And you’re ready and would be ready to do that?

Brownback: Yes, I am, and I think we have to be.

I think a lot of people look at what has happened over the past six years, and blame it purely on the Bush White House. While I am sure that he is responsible for a lot of it, we cannot forget that the entire Republican party is diseased. They are a group of people whose world view is absolutely detached from reality. We will get rid of Bush, sooner or later, but this warped way of thinking will go on.

All Impeachment All the Time

Here is the link to the video Disco posted about yesterday.

I recommend viewing it, as it is perhaps the most well reasoned presentation I have yet to see regarding impeachment. I won't say that I am entirely convinced that we should head down this road right now, but it certainly softened my stance against this course of action.

What I will say about it, and I think most sane people would agree, is that this is a conversation that needs to move beyond PBS and onto CNN, ABC, NBC, etc. The American people are certainly open to having a broad conversation about impeachment and it is time for the major news networks to have it.

My concern with the broader debate (and it was actually brought up in the Moyer's video) is that the frame of the debate will be on punishing the President rather then on upholding the Constitution. There is ample evidence out there to show that the major news networks and pundit class will make this a very silly affair. We will have shouting heads rail about how this is payback for Clinton, or how it is sour grapes over 2000 and 2004, when it is really very simple. It is about protecting this country's most sacred principles.

He has no soul

In his relentless pursuit to show that he is the worst person to ever live on Earth, President Bush plans to veto a bill that provides medical insurance for poor children. Without this funding, the program will end in September. Why is he going to veto it? Look at his spokesman's own words:
“The proposal would dramatically expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program, adding nonpoor children to the program, and more than doubling the level of spending,” Mr. Fratto said. “This will have the effect of encouraging many to drop private coverage, to go on the government-subsidized program.”

The way the President sees this, these helpless insurance companies need to protected from those free-loading health care hoarding children.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Moving Goal Posts

ThinkProgress has a great post up regarding the constant change on our mission in Iraq. It is a long post, so I won't reproduce it in full, but I recommend checking it out. In short, they take Bush quotes to point out that the mission in Iraq has gone from:
  1. The pre-War mission was to rid Iraq of WMD
  2. After the war began, the mission expanded
  3. Then the mission was complete
  4. But then it continued again
  5. Then the mission was to develop a free Iraq
  6. And to train the Iraqi troops
  7. Then it shifted to advancing democracy
  8. And protecting America from terrorists
  9. Then the mission was providing security for the Iraqi population
  10. Now?? Undefined

Ten separate missions in 5 years, and now it is not entirely clear just what the hell we are supposed to be doing over there.

I am left wondering, however, after reading this post, why did it take a dirty hippie blogger to point this out? Couldn't someone in the press look through what this Administration has said, and maybe ask some pointed questions about why the mission keeps changing? This isn't rocket science.

Lastly, this is a pretty clear example of what the Democrats have to fight through with regards to the press. Democratic leaders have been saying since 2003 that the mission in Iraq was not entirely clear and that President Bush kept changing the goal posts. Yet, we have had nothing from the media pointing out, just like this post did, that the mission has never been certain.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Mandatory Viewing

Just finished watching Bill Moyers Journal [PBS],which was Tough Talk on Impeachment. Moyers brought together progressive John Nichols [editor of The Nation] and Constitutional law expert and Reagan official Bruce Fein. Highlights included:
  1. There is ample evidence already provided that would be grounds to open impeachment hearings on both Bush and Cheney
  2. Both the enemic Congress and the lax press bear responsibility for not moving swiftly to overdue impeachment hearings
  3. The very Constitution hangs in the balance
  4. Not holding Bush/Cheney to account would allow the next president, whether Democratic or Republican, unprecedented power to trample the civil rights of all Americans.
  5. Pelosi squandered her Constitutional duty by taking Impeachment "off the table"
  6. Impeachment is bigger than partisan battles, and calls for true statesmanship, not political calculations.
I'll post the video as soon as it becomes available.

The Time for Serious Political Debate Is Now

Circle Jerk

The Republicans have a plan! The Republicans have a plan! Sakes alive, the Republicans have a plan!
Two leading Republican senators said today that President Bush should seek a new war authorization and present a plan to Congress by Oct. 16 outlining contingency plans in Iraq. Those plans, which would include reducing American forces, should begin by the end of the year.

Senators John W. Warner of Virginia and Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, both of whom have criticized the administration’s troop buildup plan, introduced a measure expected to be considered next week when the Iraq war debate resumes. The senators said it was critical to move beyond the current clash between Congress and the White House and begin making plans to be implemented after the military releases its progress report in September.

Atrios, captures my thoughts on any Republican plan perfectly:
There will come a point where all of the very serious members of Congress (the wanker caucus) will come together on some bill or another which will pretend to force Bush to do something about Iraq but which won't actually force him to do anything. David Broder will applaud, the media will praise the president for not vetoing it, and only us dirty f-ing hippie bloggers will point out that it doesn't change a damn thing.

These very serious people are in way way over their heads.

O'Reilly Gets the Smack Down from Donahue

Still waters run deep. Here at Discomo we have such a carefully orchestrated plan for postings, that I now present a vid posted exactly 13 months ago, in honor of this being Friday the 13th....or, I just found it and thought it was cool. You be the judge.

Why doesn't Fox put on Donahue opposite Hannity, instead of that lapdog Colmes?

Funny but sad

It seems the Republicans know who their base isn't:



As the caption accompanying this photo states:
U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Col., is the sole Republican candidate to address the NAACP convention. He was flanked by lecterns with placards for nine other GOP candidates -- all no-shows.

Jeffrey Feldman asks a very good question about this picture, however. Essentially, why isn't this picture on every newspaper in the country? Not one of the major Republican candidates decided to show up to a forum dedicated to talking about race in America. Guiliani, Romney and McCain all had something better to do. Maybe they decided that they didn't have to attend because racism is over (since Imus was fired).

Looky Here- It's Journalism!!! -- well, kind of

As you may have noticed in President Bush's press conference yesterday, he mentioned that the big problem in Iraq is Al-Qaeda:
In rebuffing calls to bring troops home from Iraq, President Bush on Thursday employed a stark and ominous defense. “The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq,” he said, “were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th, and that’s why what happens in Iraq matters to the security here at home.”

It is an argument Mr. Bush has been making with frequency in the past few months, as the challenges to the continuation of the war have grown. On Thursday alone, he referred at least 30 times to Al Qaeda or its presence in Iraq.

As anyone with an IQ above that of the common house plant can see, Bush is plainly using this as a ploy to connect Iraq with Al-Qaeda- again. The New York Times, to its credit, tries to debunk this claim:

But his references to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and his assertions that it is the same group that attacked the United States in 2001, have greatly oversimplified the nature of the insurgency in Iraq and its relationship with the Qaeda leadership.

There is no question that the group is one of the most dangerous in Iraq. But Mr. Bush’s critics argue that he has overstated the Qaeda connection in an attempt to exploit the same kinds of post-Sept. 11 emotions that helped him win support for the invasion in the first place.

Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia did not exist before the Sept. 11 attacks. The Sunni group thrived as a magnet for recruiting and a force for violence largely because of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, which brought an American occupying force of more than 100,000 troops to the heart of the Middle East, and led to a Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad.

For the most part, this is great. I bolded, however, something which really bothers me and it has been going on for far too long. These disputes are always presented as two sides of an unresolved argument (in fact, the title of the article is: Bush Distorts Qaeda Links, Critics Assert). As in, Bush has his reality, his critics have theirs. Yet, Bush's reality is extremely easy to debunk. In the very next paragraph, the authors lay out quite clearly, that Al-Qaeda didn't exist in Iraq before 9-11!

Instead of reporting it as a he said/she said, kind of dispute, call it like it is. The President is making another attempt to play fast and loose with the facts about Iraq. If the White House challenges the claim, the New York Times has a mountain of evidence to back it up. It isn't that hard to understand. After all that we have seen from Bush and his cult, it shouldn't surprise anyone that they will actively try to manipulate the American people in order to further their goals.

Glaring error

Although comments on this site are not as rigorously fact-checked as the posts themselves, I thought it was important to point out a correction. The other day Broca compared Cheney to Vader. It's an appropriate comparison. However, he said that Cheney would change "Hail to the Chief" to the "Darth Vader theme." To the best of my knowledge there is no such song as the "Darth Vader theme." The song Broca was referencing was "The Imperial March."

On behalf of the staff at Discomo I apologize for any confusion that may have caused.

-PR

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Flurry of Impeachment Posts continued

Bill Moyers' Journal on Impeachment

Bill Moyers' Journal on Impeachment

On PBS everywhere Friday evening July 13

Topic: Impeaching Cheney and Bush

Guests: Bruce Fein, former deputy attorney general under Ronald Reagan; John Nichols, author of "The Genius of Impeachment"

Check for local broadcast times.

Podcast this show here.


Militaristic fashion

For a couple of years now (at least) military-style fashions have been all the "thing." I personally haven't really gotten into the look. Maybe it's because I don't look good in khaki* or olive green. There's also a part of me that thinks that dressing like you're in the military when your military is currently engaged in actions which kill all sorts of people seems like it's in poor taste. Yet all sorts of people, including indie-rocker peace nicks are sporting the stuff. This leads me to wonder if it's an attempt to take the stigma out of the look. Sort of the fashion equivalent to using the n-word.

Of course that begs the question then, for whom is the stigma being broken down? I don't think the military is that self-conscious about it.

I guess if you have to ask then you're probably not really deck. Oh well.

*I also don't know where to put the "h" in khaki. Took 4 tries before I got rid of the red squiggly line.

American Taliban

Maybe someone can explain to me what the difference is between American Christian fundamentalists and all other types of fundamentalists. Because I just don't see how they are all that different, just change some choice words in this story:
Today was a historic first for religion in America's civic life: For the very first time, a Hindu delivered the morning invocation in the Senate chamber — only to find the ceremony disrupted by three Christian right activists.

The three protesters, who all belong to the Christian Right anti-abortion group Operation Save America, and who apparently traveled to Washington all the way from North Carolina, interrupted by loudly asking for God's forgiveness for allowing the false prayer of a Hindu in the Senate chamber.

"Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight," the first protester began.

"This is an abomination," he continued. "We shall have no other gods before You."

To this:
Today was a historic first for religion in Pakistan's civic life: For the very first time, a Christian delivered the morning invocation in the Parliamentary chamber — only to find the ceremony disrupted by three Muslim activists.

The three protesters, who all belong to a fundamentalist Sunni sect, and who apparently traveled to Islamabad all the way from Karachi, interrupted by loudly asking for Allah's forgiveness for allowing the false prayer of a Christian in the Parliamentary chamber.

"Forgive us for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight," the first protester began.

"This is an abomination," he continued. "We shall have no other gods before You."

RFK at Live Earth

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is fast becoming one of my heros. His insightful opinions are well-reasoned and well-informed. His frequent contributions to Rolling Stone have examined the theft of elections, and he offers a powerful contribution to the excellent Air America show Ring of Fire. They pack heaps of information into just a few hours [you can subscribe to the free podcast here]. To wet your beaks a bit, here's a video of a recent speech he gave at Live Earth.

The Child Caucus

Over at Daily Kos there is a rather robust discussion over Cindy Sheehan's decision to run against Nancy Pelosi, as an independent, if Speaker Pelosi does not move to impeach the President immediately (here, here and here).

Ms. Sheehan can, of course, do what she likes . But what bothers me about her announcement is the "I am taking my ball and going home" mentality of some on the left. I understand that there is great deal of frustration with the way things are going, I feel that too. However, I get the feeling that with these folks, they thought the electoral victories in '06 was going to instantly result in a liberal paradise. Unfortunately, that is just not the case.

I will say that we are certainly better off now, then we were a year ago. Jon Tester is an improvement over Conrad Burns, Jim Webb is an improvement over George Allen, Bob Casey is an improvement over Rick Santorum, etc.

Yet, as we saw yesterday with the Republican obstructionism on Webb's Amendment or the lack of press coverage on its defeat, we still have quite a fight ahead of us. What this means is that if we want to build a political movement which will last well into the future, we need to develop some political maturity.

We need to understand that we can't win every fight, and more importantly, we need to understand why we lost those fights. We need to realize that the changes we made to the party in '06 represented a beginning and not an end. And, lastly, we need to be both patient and vigilant, in regards to our political leaders. The problems brought about by conservatives, are going to take a long time to undo yet we shouldn't let this serve as an excuse for our leaders.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Politicalization of Everything

Our former Surgeon General just testified in front of Congress yesterday and in his testimony we find that the Bush administration made deliberate efforts to both stifle reports and prohibited the Surgeon General from talking about certain subjects:
Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona told a Congressional panel Tuesday that top Bush administration officials repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports because of political considerations.

The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm.

Sadly, this should not come as any surprise. The Bush administration is fervently anti-science and routinely puts politics before policy. Yet, we also get a glimpse at the cult-like devotion this administration demands from the folks who work for it:
Dr. Carmona said he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches. He also said he was asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings.

You read that right, public officials, working for the White House, MUST say the President's name three times. I am not sure if the official is then supposed to genuflect or look skyward, but the idea that there is a rule about how often his name is mentioned scares the hell out of me. That bit of news, however, is not the most shocking/sad/anger inducing nugget included in his testimony:

And administration officials even discouraged him from attending the Special Olympics because, he said, of that charitable organization’s longtime ties to a “prominent family” that he refused to name.

“I was specifically told by a senior person, ‘Why would you want to help those people?’ ” Dr. Carmona said.

The Special Olympics is one of the nation’s premier charitable organizations to benefit disabled people, and the Kennedys have long been deeply involved in it.

Forget the fact that almost nobody associates the Kennedy family with the Special Olympics or that the Kennedy family is no longer a dominant political force in this country. In perhaps the sickest display of this administration's pettiness, these heartless SOBs running the White House thought it okay to play politics with an event that is designed solely to help disabled children and adults. This level of outright villainy is typically reserved for Ernst Blofeld or Lex Luther not the President of the United States. I half expect to read in the news tomorrow that President Bush has ordered all kittens be put to death because Garfield's owner is a registered Democrat.

Dredging up the impeachment debate - again

So, as I was reading through some of the posts on muckraker a thought occurred to me: if the president were impeached, that means that Cheney would be in charge. If Cheney were impeached as well, the honor would go to Pelosi.

Here's my case for why impeachment proceedings should be seriously considered: the presidential pardon. Get rid of the two jackasses at the top so that the American public can once and for all learn what has happened to this country over the last 8 years. I mean what has really happened.

Failure to impeach leaves Bush (or Cheney if he's the man) to pardon each and every law-breaker in the administration.

Discuss.

Inside the Mind of a Bushie

From TPM Muckraker, in Sara Taylor's testimony before the Senate today, she said the following:
"I took an oath to the president, and I take that oath very seriously"

Under normal circumstances I might be surprised by this, but after 6.5 years of this administration, it is very easy to understand how they think. They are only loyal to the President, not to the Constitution or to the American people. Fortunately, Patrick Leahy provided a correction:

Senate Republicans are Vile People

The Republicans have successfully filibustered Senator Webb's (D-VA) bill requiring troops get the needed resources to fight effectively. In their continued attempt to obstruct any bill that the President doesn't like, they have decided our soldiers should stop bitching about the fact that their tours are getting extended. How can these people sleep at night? They have a coronary anytime Democrats complain about the mission in Iraq, because it "undermines morale". Yet, when Democrats propose a bill that military officers heartily endorse, they stab them in the back.

Although, in their defense, I am sure a lot of them have yellow ribbons on their SUVs so their support of the troops is unimpeachable.

Jackasses.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

How did I not know about this???

The former philosophy major in me absolutely loves this:



I love Monty Python.

They hate him, they really hate him.

Following up on my post below. I found this on ThinkProgress and it highlights the relative high water marks for presidential disapproval since FDR. Look who is tied with Nixon for highest:



Yeah, I am sure these numbers are purely a product of bad circumstances.

Healthcare for everyone please

I was just listening to an old show of This American Life while doing a fairly mindless data task and I heard something which I thought was relevant and startling. The show was about professionals and in one segment they were interviewing a professional poker player. This was a very successful woman who had managed to pay for her house in cash, plays regularly at the elite tables at the Bellagio, keeps a million-dollar bankroll, and is on her mother's health insurance because paying for her own is too expensive.

What chance does a Wal-Mart employee have?

Oh My

For a while now, I have asserted that Gonzo would not leave the Justice Department voluntarily. As a testament to his remarkable stubbornness (and stupidity), the President refuses to see him go. This might change, however, with the newest revelation from the Washington Post:
As he sought to renew the USA Patriot Act two years ago, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales assured lawmakers that the FBI had not abused its potent new terrorism-fighting powers. "There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse," Gonzales told senators on April 27, 2005.

Six days earlier, the FBI sent Gonzales a copy of a report that said its agents had obtained personal information that they were not entitled to have. It was one of at least half a dozen reports of legal or procedural violations that Gonzales received in the three months before he made his statement to the Senate intelligence committee, according to internal FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

This is the clearest test yet, regarding Gonzales and the President. And while the odds have improved regarding his resignation, I would still place my money on Gonzales staying on as Attorney General. Either that, or Congress will work to forcibly remove Gonzales via impeachment (or once again hold a vote of no confidence) as this revelation may very well push Congressional Republicans in the Democrat's direction.

It is never about him

The latest Gallup/USA Today poll is out. In it, President Bush hits an all-time personal low of 29%. These numbers are startling, yet what is equally as surprising, is the explanation given by Gallup for why the numbers are so low:
At this point, the public's view of the president has been affected to one degree or the other by the conflict in Iraq, his support for the now-aborted immigration bill, the Scooter Libby sentence commutation, and the negative way in which the public views the economy.

The part that is curiously absent here is any mention of the man himself. The reason for the bad poll numbers always seem to be related to certain circumstances surrounding his presidency, NOT his own personal leadership style or personality. That never enters the equation when evaluating Bush; for whatever reason, the idea that people do not like him or that they believe he is a horrible leader is simply outside the realm of possibility. Yet, I get the sense that it is these evaluations which are driving these numbers.

This became clear to me when I was talking to my grandmother, back in late 2002. Like all grandmothers, she is very sweet and never has a bad thing to say about anyone; but while we were watching TV, Bush came on the screen. Without any hesitation, she looked at the screen and exclaimed:
I hate that asshole.

Nuff said.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The actual fact check

In regards to my earlier post about Moore's appearance on CNN. Here is his response to the CNN 'fact check' on his movie.

Is a very big shoe about to drop?

Back in late 2002, I had a conversation with a coworker about the upcoming war in Iraq. We were talking about whether the war was worthwhile as he was unsure about it. I carefully ran through the reasons why the war was not in our best interest.

One of the points I was careful to impress upon him was that the worst part of a war in Iraq would be the potential conflict between Turkey and Northern Iraq. This, I said, was probably the most overlooked problem in the run-up, yet it represented the gravest threat to all involved. Turkey would not appreciate an autonomous Kurdish territory on its border, as it would threaten their own internal stability by encouraging the Turkish Kurds to annex their section of Turkey. The U.S. as the assumed protector of Iraq, could not let another nation harm or threaten Iraqi civilians nor could it afford the potentially huge headache in the north. Yet, the U.S. was limited in its possible response to Turkey, a NATO ally. I explained, that it would take a miracle to avoid an added conflict in the region.

Up to now, it would seem that I have been proved wrong on this prediction. Perhaps by divine intervention or European pressure on Turkey, this area of the country has stayed peaceful and Turkey has kept to itself. If there had been a confrontation, it would have made the situation in Iraq infinitely harder to deal with. The U.S. would have needed to send logistical and military support to northern Iraq, further depleting it's already weakened force.

Unfortunately, things may be coming to a head:
Reports that Turkey has massed a huge military force on its border with Iraq bolstered fears that an invasion targeting hideouts of Kurdish rebels could be imminent. But how deeply into Iraq is the Turkish army willing to go, how long would it stay and what kind of fallout could come from allies in Washington and other NATO partners?

What is most infuriating about this scenario, is (like so many other things that have happened in Iraq) that these things were not hard to predict. It is not like I or the millions of other people against this war, were privy to some secret intelligence. We just didn't get our news "from the MOST TRUSTED SOURCES EVER!", we searched for news that was reputable and didn't carry water for Bush Administration. And if CNN did present this debate before the war it probably would have gone something like this:
Serious News Anchor: Can we expect any problems from Turkey, if there is an autonomous Kurdish section of Iraq?

Over matched anti-war Hollywood celebrity: This is something that really concerns those of us against the war, this could prove to be a Catch-22 for the U.S. If we placate Turkey, we lose the Kurds. If we placate the Kurds, we run the risk of instigating Turkey...

Conservative think tank shill: It is quite obvious that this liberal elite does not want freedom and ponies for Iraqi Kurds.

Serious News Anchor: We have to leave it there, you both make excellent points. Next up, are your children at-risk from backyard trampolines? A report you don't want to miss.

Actually...I don't want to pretend trampolines aren't treacherous. They are incredibly dangerous.

Fact Checking

I just watched some of Michael Moore's smack down of Wolf Blitzer, and it is good. I would like to see the whole segment, which I imagine will be up later on other websites.

In a nutshell, Moore asked Wolf if CNN is going to apologize to him for attacking Fahrenheit 9-11 when it turned out he was ultimately correct. As I pionted out previously, Moore has a much better record than the vast majority of other pundits/commentators. Yet, as this commenter from Atrios notes:
I would love to see any statement from this administration get one tenth of the fine-toothed combing that every single scene of Moore's movies get.

I would also extend this to CNN, MSNBC and certainly Fox News. The media's standards for Moore's movies border on the ridiculous. For instance, in one of the many articles that sought to fact check Moore, they point to the fact that he did not mention the following:
Believe it or not, the United States does rank highest in the patient satisfaction category. Americans do have shorter wait times than everyone but Germans when it comes to nonemergency elective surgery such as hip replacements, cataract removal or knee repair.

In regards to the last part, I think this only strengthens Moore's point about the feebleness of the U.S. health care system. If you need a boob job or liposuction, you will be hurried right along. If you need emergency surgery, well you are kind of screwed.

On the first part of the quote, this certainly helps Moore's argument about the weakness of the American system. As is revealed in an earlier segment of the article:
Like Moore, we also found that more money does not equal better care. Both the French and Canadian systems rank in the Top 10 of the world's best health-care systems, according to the World Health Organization. The United States comes in at No. 37. The rankings are based on general health of the population, access, patient satisfaction and how the care's paid for.

According to this little nugget, we can assume that the measure of patient satisfaction is most definitely skewing the overall results. I would be curious to know what our ranking would be if patient satisfaction was left out. CNN could have found that out, but I am sure they try their best to stay away from anything resembling journalism.

In CNN's defense, I should point out that Michael Moore is fat.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Into the Woods

For the first time in close to a year, I was able to go and enjoy a long hike. The Mrs., the dogs and myself headed out hike a section of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. I haven't had too many opportunities to get into the mountains since moving back to the east coast, which is really disappointing.

There are some interesting differences between east coast vs. west coast hiking. First, the weather is just not as good on the east coast. The humidity makes hiking a lot more difficult as breathing is harder and you sweat like a monkey. Second, it is hard to get used to the distances. We went on a 8.5 mile hike here, which would typically be regarded as a moderately long hike in the Cascades, but on the east coast that is a very long hike. The trails are much more rugged here as we had to hike over 3 miles of craggy, exposed rocks (as the old saying goes about hiking in Pennsylvania- "this is where boots go to die"). As you might imagine, this slows down hiking time considerably.

Otherwise, it was a great time and I will let the pictures speak for themselves:





I think the dogs had fun too. Here is Pico:



Here is Lola

Beating a barely breathing horse

Rasmussen has a new poll out on impeachment and the numbers are not as strong as the ARG poll. Thirty-nine percent of those polled supported impeachment, while 49% were opposed. The numbers supporting impeachment are up 7% since December of 2005. Considering that Rasmussen is a polling outfit that tends to skew conservative, I think the actual number supporting impeachment is a few points higher than that (maybe 42-43%).

These numbers are important and they allow me the opportunity to clarify why I think having a super-majority of the people behind impeachment is essential. I am not suggesting that we need this type of broad support as some sort of political calculus (i.e. a Clintonesque sampling of the political landscape before assuming a policy position). Rather, impeachment is a revolutionary act. As such, it requires the consent and support of folks across the political spectrum. If this is only the will of a vocal minority, I don't see how it becomes any different from those behind Clinton's impeachment or the tyranny of the religious right. We, as a nation, need to say with one voice- this President needs to leave, now.

I would certainly encourage those that support impeachment to voice their concerns to their fellow citizens. I do think there needs to be a robust public debate about this president's legacy. I would also like to see some more congressional investigations into possible wrong-doing, both now and in the future.

However, I don't want this to become a distraction for our side. Our primary focus must be on why we are better able to lead this country than conservatives. We have better ideas than they do, and we need to make that case every day. We need to challenge conservatives on their opposition to increases in the minimum wage, the war in Iraq, health care, foreign engagement, trade and human/civil rights. We need to fight for these principles so that, in the end, we improve the lives of millions.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Impeachment Tide

From CBS News, and their partner Political Animal, comes coverage of a poll on impeachment, conducted by the "American Research Group, a non-partisan outfit":

Question:
Do you favor or oppose the US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush?

7/5/07 Favor Oppose Undecided

All Adults 45% 46% 9%
Voters 46% 44% 10%

Democrats (38%) 69% 22% 9%
Republicans (29%) 13% 86% 1%
Independents (33%) 50% 30% 20%

3/15/06 42% 49% 9%

Based on 1,100 completed telephone interviews among a random sample of adults nationwide July 3-5, 2007. The theoretical margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points, 95% of the time. Of the total sample, 933 interviews were completed among registered voters.

Question:
Do you favor or oppose the US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against Vice President Dick Cheney?

7/5/07 Favor Oppose Undecided

All Adults 54% 40% 6%
Voters 50% 44% 6%

Democrats (38%) 76% 24% -
Republicans (29%) 17% 83% -
Independents (33%) 51% 29% 20%

Based on 1,100 completed telephone interviews among a random sample of adults nationwide July 3-5, 2007. The theoretical margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points, 95% of the time. Of the total sample, 933 interviews were completed among registered voters.

Yet, it appears that pollsters are shy about even bringing up the topic:

Independent national pollsters rarely ever ask Americans for their opinions about impeachment. In fact, when Washington Post polling director Richard Morin started receiving questions about it from readers, he got a little snippy about it, and refused to take the questions seriously.

It's hardly a mystery -- the notion of impeaching Bush and/or Cheney is still considered a "fringe" concept that "serious" people are supposed to reject out of hand. And yet, for a radical idea, a surprising number of Americans seem to think impeachment is a good idea. .....t's hard to compare these numbers against other recent polls -- news outlets are generally afraid of the "I" question -- but once an idea is embraced by nearly half the country, I think it's probably safe to stop calling it "fringe."

Further Chronicles of the Manliest Man EVAH!!!

It looks as if Fred "Mr. GOP" Thompson was a lobbyist for an abortion rights group in the early 1990s:
Fred D. Thompson, who is campaigning for president as an antiabortion Republican, accepted an assignment from a family-planning group to lobby the first Bush White House to ease a controversial abortion restriction, according to a 1991 document and several people familiar with the matter.

A spokesman for the former Tennessee senator denied that Thompson did the lobbying work. But the minutes of a 1991 board meeting of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Assn. say that the group hired Thompson that year.

I would like to think that this would destroy Thompson's chances in 2008. However, I just know that Chris Matthews will turn this story into how manly Thompson is for supporting abortion rights.

Too easy?

Am I crazy or does it seem that Al Gore would win the presidency in a walk if he ran. I don't think he would even need to campaign. He would just have to come out and say, I am running for President and then he could go and do whatever he wanted until his inauguration.

Friday, July 06, 2007

MORE TERRORISTS!!!!!!!!

If we have universal health care, we'll have terrorists as our doctors! Run for the hills!





These folks are either the most intellectually dishonest jackasses on the planet or bed wetting ninnies (or both).

I don't get it

Whenever I go to Daily Kos, I can't help but notice the posted diaries on impeachment. It seems like everyday there are 8 to 10 diaries suggesting we impeach the President and Vice President as soon as possible. Upon reading these diaries, and others blog posts in support of impeachment, I have had a consistently mixed reaction. I believe Digby explains it best:
Has there ever been a president who deserved it more? I don't think so. Looking at this as someone who believes that until we hold them accountable for their crimes, these zombie crooks will keep doing this over and over again until our country is unrecognizable, my instinct is to scream it from the rafters. But I'm still not convinced that the Democrats should try to impeach.

She points out three reasons why impeachment is a long shot:

1. There isn't an identifiable 'crime' to impeach him on- some might say the actions that led to war would constitute grounds for impeachment, but we need a specific, easily provable instance of wrongdoing here. I don't see one. The acts related to the attorney scandal may constitute grounds, but that leads us to 2.

2. Time is not on our side- the legal battles related to the attorney scandal would take an extremely long time to settle. By that time Bush would already be out of office.

3. This is the most compelling reason against impeachment- so I will quote in full:
Finally, there is the most important and indisputable fact that Bush and Cheney will never be convicted in the Senate. This isn't the GOP of 1974 and they will never cross over in enough numbers. They won't do it even if video tapes of Bush personally giving hush money to Scooter Libby turn up. Let's not kid ourselves about that reality. The fact is that impeachment will probably bring their caucus together.

But even so, that's not necessarily a good enough reason not to do it. It could be useful, if only to tie the administration up in knots until they leave the scene. But the risks are high that if you don't have a specific (and somewhat simple) crime to point to and a good chance of at least getting a quick impeachment vote in the House, that it could blow back pretty hard on the Dems. This is not because people like Bush and don't want him out of office. It's because they see that the presidential campaign is in full swing and know that Bush will be out of office soon anyway. That means many of them will likely be susceptible to the inevitable GOP screeching that the petty Democrats are playing politics, going for payback, wasting time etc. And the media will be thrilled to help the Republicans make that case.

I would also add that before a move like this is made, we need broad public support for it. As of now, less than half of all Americans support impeaching the president. If we get to a point were a full 65% of the American public supported impeachment, then there would be a compelling enough reason to follow through on it. Until that time, however, I would suggest focusing on getting a Democrat into the White House in 2008.

David Corn has a Ricki Lake moment

The sensible conservative (David Brooks) gets it handed to him by David Corn. If this were Springer or Ricki Lake, David Brooks would be all pouty while Corn would be exhibiting the three snaps.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Suck on it Pork Rinds

Lasting change

I was troubled by the Linda Greenhouse article summarizing the new Supreme Court's first full session. Obviously, as a liberal I would be troubled by any news from this conservative court. Still, there's always hope that they won't be that conservative, however slim. Not any more.

I think that Scalia sort of summarizes the situation with his critique on the performance of Chief Justice Roberts, accusing him of "faux judicial restraint." Meaning that Scalia, though possibly happy(ish) about the decisions, is apparently not too happy with why the U.S. isn't a conservative's Shangri-la yet. They've already had a full session for Pete sake! What are they waiting for?!

Apparently, Scalia's take is that if you're going to legislate based on political ideology, you might as well be openly dickish about it.

God help us.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Perspective

Josh Marshall has two posts which offer some interesting insights on the Scooter Libby brouhaha:

The first:
Paris Hilton did more time than Scooter Libby.

The second:
I have to say that the claim that Wilson's charges have been discredited, disproved or even meaningfully challenged is simply false. What he said on day one is all true. It's really as simple as that.

There's a tendency, even among too many people of good faith and good politics, to shy away from asserting and admitting this simple fact because Wilson has either gone on too many TV shows or preened too much in some photo shoot. But that is disreputable and shameful. The entire record of this story has been under a systematic, unfettered and, sadly, largely unresisted attack from the right for four years. Key facts have been buried under an avalanche of misinformation. The then-chairman of the senate intelligence committee made his committee an appendage of the White House and himself the president's bawd and issued a report built on intentional falsehood and misdirection.

No one is perfect. The key dividing line is who's telling the truth and who's lying. Wilson is on the former side, his critics the latter. Everything else is triviality.

The conservative meme on this, is that the charges which got this all started are crap. The right wing is trying desperately to make this point part of the conventional wisdom. It is essential for those of us who want greater accountability from the Bush Administration that we fight them tooth and nail on this point.

Libbytalk

from Editor & Publisher
From the [New York] Times' Tuesday editorial: "Mr. Bush’s assertion that he respected the verdict but considered the sentence excessive only underscored the way this president is tough on crime when it’s committed by common folk ...

"Within minutes of the Libby announcement, the same Republican commentators who fulminated when Paris Hilton got a few days knocked off her time in a county lockup were parroting Mr. Bush’s contention that a fine, probation and reputation damage were 'harsh punishment' enough for Mr. Libby.

"Presidents have the power to grant clemency and pardons. But in this case, Mr. Bush did not sound like a leader making tough decisions about justice. He sounded like a man worried about what a former loyalist might say when actually staring into a prison cell."

The [Washington] Post, which had often mocked the court case, declares today: "We agree that a pardon would have been inappropriate and that the prison sentence of 30 months was excessive. But reducing the sentence to no prison time at all, as Mr. Bush did -- to probation and a large fine -- is not defensible. ... Mr. Bush, while claiming to 'respect the jury's verdict,' failed to explain why he moved from 'excessive' to zero.

"It's true that the felony conviction that remains in place, the $250,000 fine and the reputational damage are far from trivial. But so is lying to a grand jury. To commute the entire prison sentence sends the wrong message about the seriousness of that offense."

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "President Bush's commutation of a pal's prison sentence counts as a most shocking act of disrespect for the U.S. justice system. It's the latest sign of the huge repairs to American concepts of the rule of law that await the next president."

The Denver Post found that "such big-footing of other branches of government is not unprecedented with this administration. The president's abuse of signing statements show his disrespect for Congress' power to make law. His insistence that terror detainees at Guantanamo Bay be denied Habeas Corpus rights mocks legal tradition. It's a shame that his actions in the Libby affair will add to that list. Libby should be held accountable for his crimes."

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's editorial declares that "mostly this commutation fails on the most basic premise. There was no miscarriage of justice in Libby's conviction or his sentence. The trial amply demonstrated that he stonewalled. Like President Clinton's 11th-hour pardons of an ill-deserving few, this commutation is a travesty."

New York's Daily News: "However misbegotten was the probe by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, the fact is that Libby did commit a federal crime and the fact is also that he was convicted in a court of law. Thankfully, Bush did not pardon Libby outright, but time in the slammer was in order. Sixty days, say, wouldn't have hurt the justice system a bit."

Chicago Tribune believes that "in nixing the prison term, Bush sent a terrible message to citizens and to government officials who are expected to serve the public with integrity. The way for a president to discourage the breaking of federal laws is by letting fairly rendered consequences play out, however uncomfortably for everyone involved. The message to a Scooter Libby ought to be the same as it is for other convicts: You do the crime, you do the time."

The Arizona Republic: "We thought Scooter Libby was going through the criminal justice system. Just like anyone else. Then, President Bush whipped out a get-out-of-jail-free card. This is the wrong game to play on a very public stage."

San Jose Mercury News: "Other presidents have doled out pardons and the like, usually on the way out of office. It's never pretty. But few have placed themselves above the law as Bush, Cheney and friends repeatedly have done by trampling civil liberties and denying due process. Chalk up another point for freedom. Scooter's, at least."

The Sacramento Bee: President Bush, a recent story in the Washington Post tells us, is obsessed with the question of how history will view him. He has done himself no favors on that count by commuting the prison term of I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby."

But Clinton did it?!

The reports from the mainstream pundits are in, and the gold medal for foolishness goes to Tom Curry. The main point of this commentary is that the public reaction to the Libby pardon will be the same as the reaction to Clinton's pardons:
President Bush’s commutation of the 30-month prison sentence of former vice presidential aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby fit the pattern set by his predecessors.

And the reaction to these acts of clemency had a familiar ring.

Compare “the arrogance of this administration's disdain for the law and its belief it operates with impunity are breathtaking” to the statement that the president “will never live down the arrogance of his final departure.”

The first “arrogance” quote came Monday from Democratic presidential contender Bill Richardson. The second quote came from Jim Webb, now the Democratic senator from Virginia, criticizing Clinton’s pardon of Rich in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal in 2001.


So...to Curry (and with the vast majority of the press) there is a simple algebra, Bush = Clinton. Yet, this couldn't be further from the truth. There are two major differences here:
  1. Clinton was a hell of a lot more popular than Bush is. Bush is seen as a stubborn dolt, while Clinton was seen as a vibrant, popular (though personally flawed) leader.
  2. The circumstances surrounding the two are vastly different. With Clinton, the criticisms levied against him were part of a conservative witch hunt. The country had just endured 6 years of endless partisan investigations, which yielded nothing substantive. With Bush, the leak investigation yielded real findings and revealed that the White House was willing to subvert national security in order to retaliate against a critic.
In the end, I think the American public will respond much more harshly to the pardon than the Washington press corps is willing to believe. The Bush administration might not see a huge drop in overall approval ratings, rather I believe you will see more people go from 'somewhat disapprove' to 'strongly disapprove'.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Not surprised

Libby's sentence was commuted, and I am firmly in agreement with Atrios about the coming press coverage. The White House essentially got away with a very serious crime, and no one will call them on it.

TERRORISTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!

Josh Marshall posts an email from an American visiting overseas. The e-mailer comments on the difference in press coverage from CNN and BBC. CNN is treating the terrorists attacks as proof that the end is near, while the BBC is keeping their wits about them:
I am in the last day of business meetings in Bangkok, and have been watching the media response with great interest. My hotel TV offers both CNN and BBC news coverage, and the difference between them is remarkable. When the Glasgow attack became known, CNN offered non-stop coverage which preempted all normal programming. The attackers were defined in no uncertain terms as Al-Quaeda members, despite any conclusive evidence of same.

In stark contrast, BBC offered quite detailed coverage of the attack, but continued with normal programming covering weather, sports, international affairs, etc. BBC was quite careful not to ascribe any specific Al-Quaeda membership, and seemed to be more comfortable describing the attackers as "influenced by other Al-Quaeda types". CNN created the image of a major world crisis, while BBC presented an isolated but obviously troubling event.

What is the coverage like in Norway, Pork Rinds?

Misunderstood Genius?

The Washington Post has an article today dissecting the psyche of the President. It is an extremely odd read and ultimately maddening, as the author did his best to assume that Bush thinks like a rational person.

There is so much in the article that I don't dare try to analyze it all here (although you can check out some thoughtful analysis here, here, here). I strongly recommend reading it. But if you want the short version of the article, I can offer it in the form of something I tell my brother:
I am not conceited, it is just that other people are too damn stupid to realize that I am awesome.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Huh?

At heart, I am really just a 14 year old.

I laughed my ass off at this.