Dover Bitch

Friday, March 31, 2006

Surreal, indeed

Before Senator Cornyn launched into an attack on John Dean at this morning's censure hearings, the Boot Full of Hammers showed us all how much his finger is on the pulse of America:

I think the American people would be also justified in thinking that the atmosphere in Washington D.C. is surreal when it comes to the GWOT and how we conduct our business and how we spend our time. While there were those who initially expressed some doubt as to the legality of the president's actions and his authority, you have conducted a number of different hearings including with some judges who serve on the FISA Court. The Chairman has noted a number of circuit court opinions which have reached the same conclusion that many of those judges did and that is the president's authority is not exclusively derived by a statutory grant from Congress under the FISA act. And that would be a very strange proposition to argue that one branch of the government is somehow limited by a grant of authority from another branch when in fact each derive their powers by the Constitution itself.

And no one, to my knowledge, has suggested that this program be stopped. Sen. Sessions mentioned that a number of people have been briefed on this program. I agree it should not be stopped. It's saving American lives and it's allowing us to fight and win the GWOT. And it would be ironic indeed if the Congress were to pass an authorization for the use of military force and say that we ought to locate and detain -- capture and detain and even kill the enemy, but we can't listen to their telephone calls that come from overseas to the United States. That is, I think, contributes to the surreal atmosphere.

Yes, sitting here worrying about my civil liberties while a Senator graces an important hearing with five minutes of his presence and then spends it talking about "ironic" hypotheticals concerning a situation he just finished mentioning that nobody is endorsing... Yes, that's "surreal."

(image swiped from Wonkette)


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Man of the People

KATE O'BEIRNE: Illegal aliens represent less than five percent our economy. There's not a single sector in our economy where they make up a majority of the workers. There are, in fact, no jobs Americans won't do at a certain price. What businesses, of course, want to do is import cheap labor. You could probably get 535 illegal aliens to serve in Congress for $80,000 a year instead of $160,000.

BOB SHRUM: So you're ready to join me, Kate, in raising the minimum wage so that we make sure that all of these people are not paid to little?

CHRIS MATTHEWS: No, the market economy would normally raise up the wage rate to get more sheet rock workers. You've got people unemployed today that if you told them they're going to make $30,000 or $40,000 as sheet rock guys that come into their house and put up the... what do you call it, the...I'm forgetting my old phrases now...

SHRUM: Wallboard?

MATTHEWS: Wallboard, yeah...

O'BEIRNE: Unemployment...


O'BEIRNE: Unemployment on the part of low skilled Americans is up over the past two or three years because they're being undercut by this cheap imported labor.

What a shock to learn that Kate O'Beirne thinks everybody has a price. DB shudders to even think some of the things O'Beirne couldn't raise enough cash to pay this blogger to do.

But the real humor in yesterday's banter isn't in the official transcript. It's camouflaged in the "(CROSSTALK)" that naturally occurs on "Hardball."

Here's how that exchange really went:

SHRUM: Wallboard?

MATTHEWS: Wallboard, yeah...

O'BEIRNE: Unemployment...

MATTHEWS: Don't laugh, Bob. I know the word. You're not more closer to the people than I am.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Fair is fair

This may be hard for some to swallow, but there's no denying that it's true: The American government and American employers have tacitly encouraged illegal immigration.

Employers have hired illegals and taken advantage of their status, while the government has sporadically and arbitrarily enforced the law. How could anyone deny that the people coming here did so without the federal government looking the other way?

Why is it important to face this fact? Because although it is entirely appropriate for the United States to decide that, as of this minute, the laws and borders will be enforced fervently, it is absurd and immoral to pretend that this seriousness of purpose began in the distant past and that people who came here to establish families and to work for the American Dream did so without any complicity from those who would punish them today.

If we recognize the contributions of the undocumented workers who have been here for some time, does that tell the world that it's OK to break the law? Lou Dobbs and others will say it does, but the truth is that this country already told them that. It is absolutely delusional to think that we can focus all the burden of this policy transformation on to a hard-working minority and somehow communicate to the world that we are the shining emblem of justice.

This government isn't suddenly telling people they can no longer jaywalk. These immigrants have established lives here. Anybody claiming to have respect for life, for families, for work... for the American Dream should have enough room in his or her heart to accept the people who are already here.

If we don't want to tell the world that it's OK to break the law, we should ask our Senators and Congressmen to stop figuring out how to change the laws so that the president isn't breaking them anymore.

UPDATE: Following up, DB would like to add that it is not hard to understand why people in Bay Buchanan's "deport them all" camp would feel no hypocrisy in taking a position that people in the U.S. illegally deserve no "reward" for being here. People like her and Dobbs aren't individually culpable for the lax enforcement of the immigration laws. To the contrary, they've been demanding tougher enforcement for years.

But they, more than anyone, should recognize that collectively, our nation has not respected its own laws. Dobbs' show would not even have its primary focus had the federal government been enforcing the laws and had American employers been hiring legal workers exclusively. It should be more clear to the people who don't feel personally responsible for the problem and who have been critical of the federal government that it is in no position to act with any legitimacy as though it believes its laws are sacrosanct.

The point is that the message, "You get rewarded for breaking the law," isn't going to be sent out by anything the government does at this point. That message has been sent for decades and the people who came here to work are here because they received it.

The only message we should be worried about sending to the rest of the world at this point is "The people with power and money in our democracy will sell out their own citizens by hiring cheap foreign labor until it becomes politically untenable, at which point they will tell the minorities working for peanuts to get the hell out."

Tougher border security and consistent enforcement of the laws is not only appropriate, but DB demands it. Treating working people with families, already in our communities, like garbage to be dragged to the curb, however...

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Still a House of Cards

So Andy Card is out and Josh Bolten is in at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Fantastic, although DB will hold off on any kind of Bay Buchanan mouth-foaming Alito praise:

We are thrilled. We are celebrating. This is terrific appointment by the president. It couldn't be greater.

Ah memories.

Speaking of which, let's play My Favorite Bolten Quote!

Here's DB's:

"If this provision is not removed, the president's senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill." -- White House budget director Joshua Bolten, on some senators' insistence that Iraqi oil be used to reimburse the U.S. for the reconstruction funds included in the $87 billion requested by the president, Oct. 10, 2003.

Yes, that's the same $87 billion that the right pilloried John Kerry for a symbolic vote against.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Scalia, Hypocrite

Don't always agree with Slate's William Saletan, but his article on Justice Scalia's boundless hypocrisy is a thorough smack-down.

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Oh, Lou

Are you astounded that illegal immigrants would demonstrate to protest the enforcement of the borders they crossed illegally to enter the United States?

Lou Dobbs is nothing if not consistent and willing to fight for what he believes. For that, DB applauds him.

However, this question assumes that there were "illegal immigrants" among the protesters. DB will stipulate that's probably true, but how does Lou know how many there were? It's as if everybody out there protesting "crossed" the borders.

What about neighbors and first-generation citizens? Maybe Lou's right and everybody in the Los Angeles streets this weekend snuck into this country... but this blogger thinks that Lou should be sure about that before throwing that question out there.

Furthermore, 77% of his respondents were "astounded" by that. Why would anybody be shocked that people assumed to have not respected a border would protest its enforcement?

Maybe Lou's next question should be:

Are you astounded that a television show would wonder why people don't respect a border when American business owners are offering gainful employment to undocumented workers and the governments on either side tacitly encourage people to cross it by inconsistently, infrequently and arbitrarily enforcing the laws?

UPDATE: Just to be clear. DB has little doubt that some percentage of those protesters are in this country illegally. Obviously, it is unreasonable to assume that none are, and it is both statistically and logically likely, based on the point of the protests, that a substantial number are. But DB gets the impression that Dobbs, and those who share his ideas about immigration, looked at those crowds and saw 500,000 Mexicans, when it is just as likely for a reasonable person to assume that some substantial percentage of the protesters are citizens. Without any evidence either way, this poll question seems irresponsible.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Could there be anybody on MSNBC less Irie than Chris Matthews?

KRISTINN TAYLOR: We have kids that wear Che Guevara shirts here in the United States.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Yes, but they’re kind of cute at this point, aren’t they? They’re not about somebody out to get us now. I think there’s a difference. I mean, that’s kind of camp almost, isn’t it?

TAYLOR: No, bin Laden is the ultimate, you know, symbol of sticking it to authority.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but is Che Guevara the symbol of hate in the United States anymore?


MATTHEWS: I don’t think so. I mean, a lot of our kids wear them. I see kids wearing them all the time, even my kids wear them. It’s like a Robert Marley T-shirt at this point

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006


There is just about nothing that pisses DB off more than this article on Raw Story.

Will somebody with both principles and balls join Russ Feingold in Washington? For the love of God?

Though all say they believe the program warrants "more investigation," several Senate aides rebuked Feingold for proposing censure. They say that his move had the potential to derail Democratic efforts to strengthen the party's image on homeland security issues, noting that a large part of the country believes the eavesdropping program should continue. Bush has defended the program, calling it a "terrorist surveillance" program, and has used aides to defend its legality.

More investigation? How about any investigation? How much more do you need to know about it to determine whether or not it was illegal? Hint: It was.

While you wimps are "noting a large part of the country believes the eavesdropping program should continue," please also note that a large portion of those voters believe it should continue with oversight. And censuring the president for violating the law would not stop you from being able to refine the laws and review the program. Idiots.

Standing up for principles, civil liberties and the rule of law is not a position of weakness. You don't look soft for standing up for justice. You look weak by tossing your principles out the window because some freaks who sleep in dirt have threatened us. If you want to look strong on national security, propose and defend ideas on protecting America and hammer away at the administration and GOP leaders when they drop the ball. Don't stop. Every damn day, deliver that message.

But caving on other issues isn't signaling strength to anybody. It's shameful and it tells the people who try to support you that you don't reciprocate.

"Feingold's grandstanding screwed the pooch and played into Bill Frist's hands," the aide said. "Thank God Dems punted this down the field. Frist was going to force Democrats to vote on a resolution Feingold had kept a big secret and he would've split the caucus on an issue that needed time to get the whole caucus to support. Russ Feingold had only one persons' interests in mind with his Sunday bombshell, and those were his own. He practically handed a victory to a Bush White House that desperately needs a win."

Maybe after watching the party cave to Frist and Roberts, Feingold decided that waiting for the rest of the caucus to get on board would be on par with waiting for a disconnected phone to ring.

Feingold, defending his censure plan today on Fox News, said: "I'm amazed at Democrats, cowering with this president's numbers so low. The administration just has to raise the specter of the war and the Democrats run and hide... too many Democrats are going to do the same thing they did in 2000 and 2004. In the face of this, they'll say we'd better just focus on domestic issues...[Democrats shouldn't] cower to the argument, that whatever you do, if you question administration, you're helping the terrorists."

You're goddamned right. Thank God there's at least one member of the party who gets it. Oh, and John Murtha, also the recipient of a lackluster effort by his party... despite the fact that he was right and the majority of the country agrees. [UPDATE: DB didn't give Congressman John Conyers his due.]

"I don't think people are unwilling" to support it, one Democratic Senate aide said. "I don't think people are 100 percent yes. If you look at the comments of Senator Reid and other senators' comments, you can see that other people want further investigations. Nobody's said no on censure except Joe Lieberman as far as I know."

Joe Lieberman has as much integrity as an Uzbek duplex in a magnitude-10 earthquake, but the rest of the caucus already blew their chance for a real investigation. How high are they? Are bloggers the only ones paying attention?

"The majority of the American people agree with what the president's doing. A lot of people outside the beltway see this as a tool that's keeping Americans safe."

Translation: We already totally fucked up delivering our message and we can't understand how to read a poll. Or a series of polls.

The rest of the article is just painful:

"There were concerns that this would backfire on the Democrats just as they were beginning to get the upper hand or at least beefing up the playing field on homeland security credentials," the aide added. "The Dubai deal, the war in Iraq, the president's numbers heading south. Democrats have a long history of shooting themselves in the foot when the good things work and we've been known to do some things that end up hurting us rather than helping us."

Several aides said their offices were stressing "more investigations" as an alternative to censure. One aide said public hearings would be better in bringing Americans around to the idea that Bush had done something wrong.

"Democrats had decided that public hearings were needed on the wiretapping to educate the public before considering a censure," one staffer quipped. "Hearings would've forced Arlen Specter and Lindsay Graham to continue to criticize the Administration. Everyone knew that was the gameplan. Feingold just wanted to hog the spotlight. If he were interested in holding George Bush accountable he would've made his pitch in the Democratic caucus behind closed doors."

These lazy, worthless tools. The Democrats weren't "getting the upper hand." The Republicans are just being exposed as frauds.

"Forcing Arlen Specter and Lindsay Graham to continue to criticize the Administration" just makes them look more independent and principled. Running away shitless makes Democrats look pathetic. Besides, how many Americans or television pundits are giving the Democrats even half the credit for standing up for port security?

In 2004, the Republicans scored points by saying Kerry couldn't stand up to Howard Dean, let alone terrorists. How do these morons expect to look if they can't stand up to Bill Frist or a president with a 34% approval rating?

Why does everything have to be a calculated political strategy for these "leaders" anyway? When, in the last six years, have any of their political calculations yielded anything positive for them?

Can't they agree that a president who breaks the law needs to be challenged? Can't they stand up for civil liberties? Is Bill Frist correct -- do they have no principles or convictions?

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

The McCain Media Conundrum

Jane Hamsher at her excellent blog, firedoglake, has issued a blog challenge -- to paint an accurate picture of John McCain, a mission the traditional media has already demostrated a propensity for avoiding.

At the risk of amplifying the McCain lovefest, DB has decided to show some examples of McCain at what this blogger feels is his finest. Why, for the love of God? Well, because DB is curious about the "McCain Media Conundrum."

Half of the MMC is no secret -- the media loves McCain.

The other half of the MMC, however, has eluded most casual observers. McCain has been one of the few Senators to openly criticize the broadcasting lobby. Readers may remember that this was one of the few blogs that tried to figure out why our government was content with an F grade from the 9/11 Commission when it came to communications and equipment for our first responders. Consistently, research revealed that Senator Ted Stevens and Congressman Joe Barton played big roles in prioritizing business interests over national security interests. But in this particular battle, McCain fought more vigorously for an immediate upgrade to our communications systems than any other national figure.

DB is not a big fan of McCain, but an honest blogger must give props where they are due. Senator McCain was fighting a good fight.

But that leaves the conundrum. Why does an industry shower one of its only powerful critics with affection? It will take a smarter blogger to figure that one out. DB is just putting the MMC out on the table.

Here are some examples, DB dug up while researching the DTV transition (all emphasis mine):

Example 1: McCain on the Senate floor, Nov. 2, 2005

During a hearing held just last year by the Senate Commerce Committee, then-chairman of the FCC, Michael Powell, predicted it could be even ``multiple decades'' before the turnover of spectrum to first responders under existing law. That provision, which required 85 percent of homes to be available for high-definition television, would have effectively prevented the analog spectrum from ever being returned, and that provision was never run through the Commerce Committee that I was chairman of at the time. It was never debated or discussed. It was snuck into a bill by individuals at the request of the National Association of Broadcasters . It could have been no one else. That is a terrible way to do business. Unfortunately, more and more we are doing business by adding little lines into appropriations bills which never see the light of day.

I am sick and tired of it, and the American people are sick and tired of it. We are sick and tired of all the earmarks, and we are sick and tired of the billions of dollars of pork-barrel spending that occurs. We are sick and tired of mortgaging our children's futures.

I am, most of all, sick and tired that the National Association of Broadcasters is able to prevent this transition from taking place at the risk of American lives, our bravest Americans, our first responders.

Example 2: Senator calls for quicker digital TV transition

McCain complained that Congress has too often sided with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in the DTV debate. NAB has until recently opposed a DTV transition deadline. Under current law, broadcasters are required to give up their analog spectrum by the end of 2006, but only in television markets where 85 percent of homes can receive digital signals.

In December 1997, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted to reallocate some frequencies in the band for TV channels 60-69 to public safety and new commercial uses, in exchange for the digital spectrum TV stations received. Most television markets would never reach the 85 percent digital threshold now in law without a hard DTV deadline, say critics including McCain.

"It's not a proud moment" when the NAB continues to exert influence over Congress in the DTV transition debate, McCain said. An NAB spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for a comment.

Example 3: Crushing the Little Guys

In February a congressionally commissioned FCC report came out, debunking the notion that chaos loomed and saying the risk of interference from low-power signals is trivial. As for Congress' plans to study the matter further:Don't bother, the report advised. It called any other inquiries a waste of money. "It was just an exercise in raw political power on the part of the National Association of Broadcasters to squeeze out people who have little or no voice here in Congress," says Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.). "It's no more complicated than that."

In June McCain and Senator Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat, introduced a bill to overturn the Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act and let more stations on the air. The NAB is violently opposed and has backed an amendment by Senator Conrad Burns, a Republican representing Montana, to spend $800,000 doing just what the last study recommended against: more studies.

Senator McCain assesses the chances that Congress will ever buck the broadcasters and let in more radio competitors this way: "Dim. Extremely dim."

Example 4: Broadcast Bullies

The power comes in part from connections. Ed Fritts went to the University of Mississippi with former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, and they remain close; the NAB's general counsel, deputy counsel and regulatory director who led the antisatellite effort are FCC veterans. Far more power, however, comes from the fact that the NAB represents owners of just about every large and small broadcast outlet in the country--and you can't get elected if you can't get on the air.

"There are no threats," says Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.). "There's no coercion. It's just the people who represent the best way of getting your image and message across to the people in your state." This reality, he says, is why NAB is "one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington--and one of the most arrogant."

Example 5: McCain Stakes Claim on DTV Transition Bill

McCain blamed last year's defeat on broadcasters.

"Our efforts were thwarted by the powerful National Association of Broadcasters," he said. "This year, I hope we can all work together and to pass a bill that ensures the country is not only better prepared in case of another attack, but also protects the vital communications outlet of broadcast television."

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