Dover Bitch

Friday, July 28, 2006

Conservatives with integrity finally fed up

This letter from Pete McCloskey is so spot-on it deserves a link here.

There is another strong reason, I believe, for Republicans to work this fall for Democrat challengers against the DeLay-type Republicans like Pombo and Doolittle. That is the clear abdication by the House over the past five years of the Congress' constitutional power and duty to exercise oversight over abuses of power, cronyism, incompetence and excessive secrecy on the part of the Executive Branch. When does anyone remember House Committee hearings to examine into the patent failures of the Bush Administration to adhere to laws like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, or to the arrogant refusal of the President to accept the congressionally-enacted limits on torture of prisoners? When can anyone remember the House's use of the subpoena power to compel answers from Administration officials? Why have there been no oversight hearings into the Cunningham bribery affair or Abramoff's Indian gaming and exploitation of women labor in the Marianas?

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More outstanding advice for Democrats

Hank Sheinkopf in March:

DOBBS: Hank, from the left.

SHEINKOPF: From the left, if I'm a Democrat, I get out of the line fire and let these guys keep stepping all over themselves. The best trick the Democrats have tactically is to let the Republicans keep governing, because every day they govern, it's going to drive up the numbers for the Democrats.

DOBBS: Well, I don't know if that's fair because when you look at Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt saying that the bird flu is on its way, way and put tuna fish and powdered milk under your bed, I mean ...

FUND: He's from Utah. He's just deferring to the home folks.

DOBBS: Well, he may be, but shouldn't we be expecting a little more here? Or is this simply deflection? I mean, what in the world is going on?

FUND: I think if you read his whole speech, you'll understand it in context, but as a sound bite it's awful.

DOBBS: It is awful, and ...

SHEINKOPF: We live in a land of sound bites. They've got to wake up. Every time they open their mouths, they make it easier for Democrats. Democrats just need to stand there, smile, let them keep doing what they are doing.

And today:

DOBBS: Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf.

Hank, let's start with you. Nancy Pelosi, Senator Harry Reid, how are they doing? Let's start with the Democrats tonight.

HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Not so great. I mean, you know, this is all a mess, and people are standing by hoping that there will be some electoral gain, rather than taking principled stances to move things along.

DOBBS: What in the world are they thinking about?

SHEINKOPF: Well, sometimes the quest for power overrides the need for major policy changes. And frankly, we're in an election year, so it's not unusual.

If the Democrats were not the minority, the Republicans were the minority, and they had a shot at taking back the chamber, they would be behaving the same way, frankly.

DOBBS: Do you think Pelosi and Reid are bolstering those chances, or do you think they're interfering with those chances?

SHEINKOPF: Chances get bolstered by what the political campaigns look like. There are a lot of seats in play, and anything can happen.

DOBBS: Very politically well analyzed, I thought.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Get your Furby out of my tubes

From CNet:
The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill that would make it a federal felony for Webmasters to use innocent words like "Barbie" or "Furby" but actually feature sexual content on their sites.

Anyone who includes misleading "words" or "images" intended to confuse a minor into viewing a possibly harmful Web site could be imprisoned for up to 20 years and fined, the bill says.

This sounds like an easy-to-enforce can of worms they just opened.


A central front except when it isn't

For years, the Republicans have been telling us that Iraq is a "central front" in the Global War on Terror. Just last month we heard it from the President.

There's an interesting debate in the Democrat Party about how quick to pull out of Iraq. Pulling out of Iraq before we accomplish the mission will make the world a more dangerous place. It's bad policy. I know it may sound good politically; it'll endanger our country to pull out of Iraq before we accomplish the mission.

See, Iraq is a part of the global war on terror. It's not the global war on terror, it's a theater in the global war on terror. --George Bush, June 14, 2006

The Republicans in Congress completely agree and even made it law when they passed their sham of a hip-hip-hooray resolution in lieu of an actual plan for Iraq.

Whereas the United States and its Coalition partners will continue to support Iraq as part of the Global War on Terror

Now we hear from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki:

I know that some of you here question whether Iraq is part of the war on terror. Let me be very clear -- this is a battle between true Islam, for which a person's liberty and rights constitute essential cornerstones, and terrorism, which wraps itself in a fake Islamic cloak; in reality, wages a war on Islam and Muslims and values -- (applause) -- and spreads hatred between humanity.

Contrary to what's come in our Koran, which says we have created of you -- of male and female and made you tribes and families that you know each other, surely noblist of you in the sight of God is the best conduct. The truth is that terrorism has no religion. Our faith say that who kills an innocent as it has killed all mankind. Thousands of lives were tragically lost in September 11th, where -- when these impostors of Islam reared their ugly head. Thousands more continue to die in Iraq today at the hands of the same terrorists who show complete disregard for human life.

Your loss on that day was the loss of all mankind, and our loss today is loss for all free people. (Applause.)

And wherever human kind suffers a loss at the hands of terrorists, it is a loss of all humanity. It is your duty and our duty to defeat this terror. Iraq is the front line is this struggle, and history will prove that the sacrifices of Iraqis for freedom will not be in vain. Iraqis are your allies in the war on terror. (Applause.)

But don't tell that to "Republican Strategist" Ed Rogers. Suddenly, everything that's happening in the Middle East is now a "side show" and the Democrats are trying to make Maliki a part of it, despite the fact that he's been critical of Israel.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: What do you make of the fact, Ed, that it took a half-dozen Democratic Senators and Congresspeople to squeeze this guy's arm -- to pull it back behind his back practically -- to get him to stop saying things against Israel and to promise, at least, to his foreign ministry that he will say something against Hezbollah soon?

ROGERS: I think it was petty. I think it was in poor form. I think it was against American interests for them to drag Maliki into this. He doesn't have a dog in the Israel-Hezbollah fight...


MATTHEWS: Is the prime minister that we installed as head of Iraq through the process we undertook, is he pro- or anti-Israeli as far as you know?

ROGERS: As far as I know, it is irrelevant for his task at hand. His day job is to bring peace and security and Democracy to Iraq. We shouldn't make him part of the side show that is taking place right now in Lebanon... in Southern Lebanon. It's unfair. It's unfair to him.


MIKE BARNICLE: First of all, the Israeli conflict is not a side show.

ROGERS: It is for the Prime Minister of Iraq. Sure it is.

BARNICLE: Second... Well, then why did he inject himself into it?

ROGERS: Maybe he made a mistake.


ROGERS: He was here to say thank you. Thank you to America. Let's give him that


BARNICLE: Ed, Ed, could you please take a breath, Ed?

ROGERS: I'm breathing.

BARNICLE: Before he got here to say thank you, he injected himself into this "side show" as you call it...


The worst part of that exchange was the way Rogers said "So? So?" with his head shaking at the camera like the wife in that horrible Century 21 commercial. Close second was when Rogers suggested Maliki didn't answer a reporter's question about Hezbollah because "he's not an English-speaker." Never stopped Bush.

But whatever you think about the current Israel-Hezbollah conflict, if you accept that Iraq is part of the GWOT then you cannot choose to detach it from parts you don't like.

Especially if you are going to praise Maliki for having the courage to come to the United States, which is hated for its support for Israel. If Israel's actions and U.S. support is putting him at risk, then Democrats have nothing to do with his relationship to that conflict.

The bottom line is that the big plan Rogers and the GOP supported -- to bring peace to the Middle East by invading Iraq -- is failing and watching them verbally construct and then deconstruct the region to further their rhetoric is migrane-inducing.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Slaves to the electron

While the faith-based government in Texas prays for rain, DB is praying the power stays on and the fans keep spinning here in California, where, at last report, 29 people have died in the heat.

Not sure if Ken Lay is feeling the heat wherever he is right now, but he and the Governator are in DB's thoughts today.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Vroom, vroom*

Want to buy DB a car?

Well, it was worth a shot. But if you would, this new electric car from Tesla Motors would be greatly appreciated.


* And it's silent

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Nice work if you can get it

"You heard that rhetoric, oh, all he's going to do is tax the rich. In order to make sure he can -- in order to make sure he fulfills a little bit of his promises, he said he's going to tax the rich. We've heard that kind of language before. Yes, the rich hire lawyers and accountants for a reason -- to stick you with the bill. We're not going to let the Senator tax you, we're going to whip him in November." -- George Bush, Oct. 9, 2004

Since DB is in Utah today, this news from the Washington Post seems appropriate:

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt and his relatives have claimed millions of dollars in tax deductions through a type of charitable foundation they created that until recently paid out very little in actual charity, tax records show.

Instead, much of the foundation's money has been invested or lent to the family's business interests and real estate holdings, or contributed to the Leavitt family genealogical society.

The Leavitts used nearly $9 million of their assets to set up the foundation in 2000 under an obscure provision of the federal tax code. But unlike standard private foundations, which are required to give away at least 5 percent of their assets to charitable causes, the Leavitt organization donated less than 1 percent of its assets in 2002, 2003 and 2004. The donations jumped to 6.3 percent of total assets last year, after the sale of family water interests that also allowed the foundation to increase its lending to Leavitt business interests.


According to tax documents, the Leavitt Foundation donated $49,087 of its $9 million trust -- or 0.5 percent -- in 2002 and $52,312 -- or 0.6 percent -- in 2003, the only years of tax data available.

"They're basically sitting on all this money, getting a charitable write-off and doing nothing with it," Cohen said.

Guess Bush was right about rich people -- his "base" -- evading their responsibilities. What a shock.

But what was Bush's point, anyway? Cut rich people's taxes or they'll just get out of paying them? That makes no sense and obviously doesn't work. Why not raise taxes on the rich to 100 percent if they're just going to get out of it? And since when does the IRS come knocking on poor people's doors to collect Leavitt's unpaid taxes?

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The squawk of the hawks

Glenn Greenwald observed last May (and again, here) that as it becomes clearer and clearer that the Bush administration's policies are failures, more and more right-wingers will come out and bemoan the fact that Bush is actually... wait for it... a liberal.

Yesterday, I referenced an article in National Review by Jonah Goldberg in which Goldberg argued that the two most glaring examples of failed Republican presidents -- Richard Nixon and George Bush -- weren't conservatives at all, but were actually liberals. I characterized this claim as "dishonest" because, as I pointed out, virtually no conservatives were claiming that Bush was a "liberal" when his popularity ratings were in the 60s and he was perceived as some sort of heroic, beloved political figure. It is only now that his approval ratings are reaching historically low levels, and it is becoming unavoidably apparent that his presidency is dying and failed, that conservatives are seeking to claim that Bush's failure is not a failure of conservatism because -- as it turns out -- Bush was really a liberal all along. Alas, Bush's failure is simply the latest instance of the failure of liberalism.

Let's hear it for Glenn. He spotted it early and that tree is bearing a sour fruit in today's Washington Post:

Kenneth Adelman, a Reagan administration arms-control official who is close to Vice President Cheney, said he believes foreign policy innovation for White House ended with Bush's second inaugural address, a call to spread democracy throughout the world.

"What they are doing on North Korea or Iran is what [Sen. John F.] Kerry would do, what a normal middle-of-the-road president would do," he said. "This administration prided itself on molding history, not just reacting to events. Its a normal foreign policy right now. It's the triumph of Kerryism."

The only thing DB will add to what Glenn wrote is that in addition to statements like this being a clear case of denial with an added layer of projection, in this case it also appears to have an added and dire motivation behind it.

It seems unmistakable that the neocons and hawks are worried that Bush won't fulfill their bloodlust and hope to goad him into a global war by calling him a chicken. Or worse, a liberal.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Principled Democrats for Bork

How far across the aisle do you have to reach to make a speech like this on the Senate floor (Oct. 27, 1995)?

Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I rise today to call my colleagues' attention to a thought-provoking speech recently given by Judge Robert Bork about the media, and our perceptions of the first amendment and censorship.

Judge Bork, who is now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, made these remarks at a forum sponsored by AEI entitled, `Sex and Hollywood: What Should Be the Government's Role?', at which I had the privilege of speaking. As the title suggests, this forum sought to examine what effect the media's bombardment of sexual messages is having on our children and our culture, and what steps the Government can and should take to address the public's growing concern about the threat posed by these increasingly explicit messages.

In his comments, Judge Bork argued that this threat puts not only our children at risk, but our civil society as well. If the entertainment industry's standards continue to drop, he suggested, the Government would be well within its constitutional bounds to take more active steps to protect children by regulating lewd and indecent content. In making this argument, Judge Bork reminded the audience that the Government has regularly played the role of censor--albeit a limited one--for most of our history, and that in recent years the general notion of what forms of expression are fully protected by the first amendment has, in Judge Bork's eyes, become distorted. Judge Bork's comments remind us that our commitment to free expression must be balanced by our commitment to protect our children and the moral health of our Nation.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Democrats for Feeding Tubes

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Lieberman, your Republican colleague from Connecticut in the House, Christopher Shays, had this to say. "This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy. ... There are going to be repercussions from this vote [on Schiavo's constitutional rights]. There are a number of people who feel that the government is getting involved in their personal lives in a way that scares them."

You agree with that?

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN, (D-CT): I don't. But that's a very credible and respectable opinion for Chris to take. See, I think--and Chris was there on the floor of the House, so maybe he heard in the debate some things that I didn't hear following it from a distance. The fact is that, though I know a lot of people's attitude toward the Schiavo case and other matters is affected by their faith and their sense of what religion tells them about morality, ultimately as members of Congress, as judges, as members of the Florida state Legislature, this is a matter of law. And the law exists to express our values.

I have been saying this in speeches to students about why getting involved in government is so important, I always say the law is where we define the beginning of life and the end of life, and that's exactly what was going on here. And I think as a matter of law, if you go--particularly to the 14th Amendment, can't be denied due process, have your life or liberty taken without due process of law, that though the Congress' involvement here was awkward, unconventional, it was justified to give this woman, more than her parents or husband, the opportunity for one more chance before her life was terminated by an act which was sanctioned by a court, by the state.

These are very difficult decisions, but--of course, if you ask me what I would do if I was the Florida Legislature or any state legislature, I'd say that if somebody doesn't have a living will and the next of kin disagree on whether the person should be kept alive or that is whether food and water should be taken away and her life ended that really the benefit of the doubt ought to be given to life. And the family member who wants to sustain her life ought to have that right because the judge really doesn't know, though he heard the facts, one judge, what Terri Schiavo wanted. He made a best guess based on the evidence before him. That's not enough when you're talking about aggressively removing food and water to end someone's life.

MR. RUSSERT: You would have kept the tube in?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: I would have kept the tube in.

Yep, one judge just guessing. It's better if the GOP decides.


Find the principled Democrat!

On Tilting the Supreme Court Far to the Right: "The spirit was very unified in the meeting. I think every one of the 14 of us feels that our membership and participation in the so-called gang of 14 is one of the best things we've done in the Senate ever, because we cut across party lines to deal with the national interest, what's right for the country, and it's something critically important, and that is nomination and confirmation of justices to the Supreme Court."

On Censorship: "Well, I was just going to say the word that Bill [Bennett] used. We've been trying for four or five years to shame the leaders of the entertainment industry, to say, 'Look, draw a line. Won't you please decide that going over that line can make you a few more dollars but it's just not worth it because it's harmful to our children and our whole society.' I'll tell you about those lyrics. They come-and the game Doom. You know, in almost every one of these school yard killings, Tim, the kids have either been focused on Marilyn Manson, 'Natural Born Killers,' 'Basketball Diaries,' or 'Doom and Quake.' This is no accident. We're coming dangerously close in the entertainment industry, much as we prize our liberties, to the point where they're going to invite legal restrictions on their freedom because they're beginning to yell "fire" in a crowded theater when there is no fire and they're going to be held accountable."

On Rape Victims Denied Birth Control: "In Connecticut, it shouldn't take more than a short ride to get to another hospital."

On Social Security: "This is an ongoing problem, and we'd be wise to deal with it... If we can figure out a way to help people through private accounts or something else, great."

On the Separation of Church and State: "Thank you, Mr. President. Thanks for your leadership on this, and thanks to Senator Santorum and all our colleagues and our staffs that worked very hard on this. I have always believed that faith, right from the beginning of this country, was one of the great unifiers of the American people. And faith has been strong enough to unify all of us as we went forward to find a constitutionally appropriate way to have a faith-based initiative, to help people who want to do good works and whose desire to do good works is motivated by their faith."

On Bill Clinton's Morality: "I have chosen to speak particularly at this time before the independent counsel files his report because, while we do not know enough yet to answer the question of whether there are legal consequences of the President's conduct, we do know enough from what the President acknowledged on August 17 to answer a separate and distinct set of questions about the moral consequences for our country. Mr. President, I have come to this floor many times in the past to speak with my colleagues about the concerns which are so widely shared in this Chamber and throughout the Nation that our society's standards are sinking; that our common moral code is deteriorating and that our public life is coarsening."

On 42 Minutes of Congressional Oversight: "I am glad the President has nominated someone already familiar with FEMA's mission to become Deputy Director. Mr. Brown, I thank you very much. I will certainly support your nomination. I will do my best to move it through the committee as soon as possible so we can have you fully and legally at work in your new position."

On Congressional Oversight during War: "In matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril."

On Undermining Presidential Credibility when You, Yourself, are a Candidate: "In our democracy, a president does not rule, he governs. He remains always answerable to us, the people. And right now, the president's conduct of our foreign policy is giving the country too many reasons to question his leadership. It's not just about 16 words in a speech, it is about distorting intelligence and diminishing credibility."


Friday, July 07, 2006

What's the worst that can happen?

"If you tell your enemy when you're going to leave, they'll wait and create disaster." -- Sen. Joe Lieberman, at the debate Thursday night.

This is something DB is having a tough time understanding.

Lieberman says he's "not for an open-ended commitment to Iraq." (Of course, we know he's lying because he's already said he's in favor of permanent bases. But let's pretend, for sake of argument, he never said that.)

Look what else he said during the debate:

So I am confident that the situation is improving enough on the ground that by the end of this year, we will begin to draw down significant numbers of American troops, and by the end of the next year more than half of the troops who are there now will be home. But not because we set a deadline. That would make it harder.

Why? Why would it make it harder?

Here's Lieberman's best-case scenario:

  • We don't tell the enemy when we are leaving, Iraqi troops continue to prepare to defend the country and in six months or so, American troops start to leave.

Here's Lieberman's worst-case scenario:

  • We do tell the enemy when we are leaving, the enemy waits, Iraqi troops continue to prepare to defend the country and in six months or so, American troops start to leave.

The only difference, in Lieberman's description, is that the enemy waits. Wouldn't that make it easier? Lieberman seems to think that the Iraqi troops can not only become prepared enough to defend the new government while car bombs are going off and new recruits are being executed in some back alley, but that the carnage has no apparent effect on the speed of their progress.

And he offers no explanation of how his best-case scenario avoids ending in disaster. The bottom line is that we cannot stay there, in the numbers we are today, forever. Regardless of whether we tell anybody when we plan to leave, the enemy will want to "create disaster" when our egress begins.

With or without a timetable, if our troops begin to leave and the violence continues, we'll have to make a decision at that point whether or not to extend our stay. And, also with or without a timetable, we should have some benchmarks that need to be met before we make any troop level decisions.

But Lieberman provides no benchmarks in lieu of a timetable. Either would require some actual decision-making and we all know the Decider has already decided to pass this mess on to the next President.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Having it both ways, Joe

As the headlines around Connecticut have demonstrated this week, Joe Lieberman, you are a pioneer in the art of trying to have it both ways.

Are you Democrat? An Independent? What the heck are you? In the debate tonight, you sounded like a Bush Republican.

But it goes deeper than just that. Having it both ways is the only way you will have it.

You said that a timeline for Iraq is "dumb." But you also said you don't "want to be there indefinitely." Joe, what is the opposite of indefinitely? Or do you actually have a date in mind, but don't think the voters in Connecticut deserve to hear what it is?

When John Murtha first spoke up, retired generals joined him and the Democrats were beginning to find a voice on Iraq. But you didn't just say they were wrong... You said they were threatening America by undermining Bush's credibility. You took a page out of Karl Rove's book, painted your fellow Democrats as a threat to America and stifled the debate. Now you want to stand there, at a moment of accountability to the voters, and tell your constituents that Ned Lamont and the Democrats are trying to silence you? Whom do you think you are kidding?

You praised the Supreme Court for it's Hamdan decision, but because of your Gang of 14, that might be the last time the court ever stands against unchecked executive power. You also have some nerve praising the Court for standing up to the president's illegal actions when you and your colleagues abdicated your own responsibility to act as a check on that power.

You complained that Congress is filled with partisanship, claimed you know how to reach across the aisle and then tried to bash Lamont for working with local Republicans.

Staying the course in Iraq is wrong. You want to stick with a failed policy because there is uncertainty in the alternative. Sounds like a metaphor for the campaign you are running.


Monday, July 03, 2006

The Pneumatic Tube from Alaska

The vacuum that represents Alaska in the Senate and chairs the Commerce Committee apparently knows as much about the Internet as a king crab. DB had heard Senator Stevens went on an incoherent rant about Net Neutrality, in which he appeared to bounce back and forth between arguments for each side, thinking he was making solely a case against the Snowe-Dorgan bill.

But holy crap.

Who could have possibly known that the man spearheading the telecom bill could be so unbelievably ignorant? When you actually listen to him deliver the rant (MP3) it's hard to believe he's even allowed near a microphone, let alone in a Senate office building.

It should be illegal for somebody this clueless to have any input whatsoever into the future of our national information infrastructure. That he got 10 other Senators to vote his way just shows how craven the GOP is in general.

Really, it's a fucking embarrassment and the people of Alaska should be ashamed.

UPDATE: Upon a closer listen, it appears Sen. Stevens used the term "Neternit" during his rant. DB objects.

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