Dover Bitch

Friday, June 29, 2007

Is our Cheney learning?

In my quiet, but urban neighborhood, after the sun goes down, you don't hear a lot. Pretty much any sound you hear is the result of a human. The loudest noise invariably comes courtesy of the LA Times, who, I'm convinced, deliberately remove the mufflers from their delivery vehicles.

Unless the earth does something to remind you that you are on it, it's easy to forget that's the case. Despite the most obscenely expensive 3-D computer-animated weather reports on the local news, you could go months without hearing a forecast here and it would have absolutely no impact on your life. The only time I've seen more than 12 stars in the sky here was after the 1994 Northridge earthquake knocked out all the power.

Last night, I was lured outside by an eerie conversation. Under the light of a nearly-full moon, I discovered that the nonsensical blathering was actually a pair of insane cats. I had no idea they could make noises like that.

What a relief. For a moment, I was convinced that Tucker Carlson and Jonah Goldberg (another example of the LA Times amplifying a dull roar) were continuing their bromidic paean to Dick Cheney right outside my door.

Asked by host Tucker Carlson why some critics have such a strong distaste for Cheney, Goldberg offered this penetrating analysis:

I have no idea. I truly have no idea. I like Dick Cheney — love to have a beer with the guy. I think he is a smart, serious man in American life. I think one of the things that bothers them is he doesn’t care. … He looks like he should be eating a sandwich while he’s [giving a speech]. That’s just the sort of matter-of-fact, eating lunch over the sink, oh yeah and by the way, here’s my view of the world. I love that!

As it turns out, the cats might not have just been howling at the moon. They might have been inspired to join our lunar companion in the Carlson-Goldberg celebration:

It's hard to know what these events really are, but if they're the result of gas seeping from the interior, we might learn some interesting things about the Moon by studying them. Like most people, I normally think of the Moon as a dead, unchanging place, but if it's outgassing from time to time, that view may not be so accurate.

Glenn Greenwald, typically, wrote a brilliant post about the segment:

But I want to focus on one specific exchange between Tucker and Jonah as they explored the Greatness of Dick Cheney:


GOLDBERG: And you know, but I do think that what Cheney has learned after a lifetime in Washington as a power player, is that the person who holds the secrets has power. And he is using that for what I would say, or probably what he believes to be certainly good ends. A lot of people disagree on that, but he's trying to do best as he can and he sees holding onto power as a tool to do that.

That, of course, is the defining mentality of the Authoritarian Mind, captured in its purest essence by Jonah. Our Leaders are Good and want to protect us. Therefore, we must accept -- and even be grateful -- when they prevent us from knowing what they are doing. The less we know, the more powerful our Leaders are. And that is something we accept and celebrate, for our Leaders are Good and we trust that the more powerful they are, the better we all shall be.

The part that jumps out at me in that jewel of wisdom from Goldberg is the word "learned." I guess we're finally discovering what, exactly, Cheney "learned" at the "refresher courses on ethics and handling classified materials" everybody in the administration was ordered to attend back in 2005.

Cheney "learned" that adhering "to the spirit as well as the letter of all rules governing ethical conduct" is the same thing as accumulating even more power for himself.

As was the case with "[t]he British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa," the Cheney administration has disabused me of the notion that something had to actually happen for you to "learn" that it did.

After all, I also "learned" that our government was created with three branches.

Labels: , , ,

Time Is On My Side (Yes, It Is!)

Josh Marshall notes that President Bush, after the defeat of his immigration bill, looks "like someone has literally knocked the wind out of him."

I'm sure the wind won't stay out of him long, though. In no time, he'll be breaking it in the White House, since he's broken just about everything else (his promises, the army, the environment, the economy, our standing in the world...)

Don't think he'll remain sullen. You see, history is on his side:

Hersh also stated that Bush likes to compare himself to Winston Churchill. Sources close to the President have heard him "say things like, 'It'll be 20 years before they appreciate me. ... Yes, I may be at 30 percent in the polls, but in 20 or 30 years, they'll appreciate what I've done.'"

He's already looking better, isn't he? Katrina looked bad at first, but now that we've had some time to reflect on it, doesn't it look like a great example of effective government?

Bush knew it would. He warned us not to rush to judgment, just one year after the disaster:

BUSH: First of all, there's no such thing as short-term history as far as I'm concerned. I think that you can't judge a presidency based upon a moment's notice. I believe you have to take -- eventually my standing in history will be judged by people 30 or 40 years from now who will be able to take an objective look, at whether the decisions I made led to peace and prosperity. You know, this is a job where you make decisions. And you, you do what you think is right. And you let people recognize, and the people are gonna say what's on their mind at the moment. But I read three histories of George Washington last year. The first President of the United States is still being analyzed by historians, which oughtta say to this president and future president: "Do what you think is right and eventually historians will figure out whether it made sense or not."

He's right. America is coming around. It only took 200-plus years, but people are finally realizing that George Washington wasn't a complete failure. I doubt it will take until 2208 before people figure out just how lucky we've been over the past seven years. It is inevitable. Like Condi said, when she linked Saddam to 9/11, "this is a story that is unfolding, and it is getting clearer, and we're learning more."


Thursday, June 28, 2007


It sure is great to see that one of the principle financial backers of the recall of California's governor is ashamed to be a member of a body that would use its power of the purse to demand accountability from an elected officer.

Let's not forget that Darrell Issa gave $2 million of his own money to the campaign to recall Grey Davis... A campaign which began one month after Davis' inauguration.



The Supreme Court is lost. Of course, we we fairly certain of that in November 2004. We knew it for sure after the worthless "Gang of 14" made the loss complete. Today, we can see the results of such a momentous failure.

It's hard for DB to decide which is the worst opinion of the term. The "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case is clearly the most illogical. Today's decision on school desegregation is the most dispiriting. The McCain-Feingold and faith-based decisions were disappointing, but unsurprising and based, at least, on a consistent application of the law on the part of the majority.

Chief Justice John Roberts (and Justice Alito) both said they respect stare decisis, but that was clearly a distortion. They respect precedent only in the context of what things were like before cases were settled in ways in which they did not appreciate. President Bush said he wanted judges like Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, and he got them.

Thomas, of course, told the Senate that he had never thought about Roe (an unbelievable claim) and then, as a Justice, stated that it was wrongly-decided. Scalia's willingness to violate his own rules in order to reach the decision that pleases him is well-documented.

The Roberts Court is not only failing America; Roberts is failing to meet the expectations he set for himself. Norman Ornstein says it quite well:

He did seem to be someone who would be respectful of stare decisis and would move to change the court in small steps, using a more consensus-driven approach, looking for narrow solutions that could command 9-0 or 8-1 decisions, rather than 5-4 votes. Such narrow decisions ultimately erode the legitimacy of the Supreme Court because they underscore a sense that rulings are not driven by careful adherence to law and precedents but by the political calculus, based on who retires and which president gets to make the replacement.

In his initial service on the court, I was encouraged that Roberts would fit that institution-building mold, working with a like-minded institutionalist on the other side of the philosophical divide, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer. Now, with the decisions this week, I see that I was wrong. We have fallen into a pattern of key decisions that come down 5-4, with Roberts and the more rigid Samuel Alito joining Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy to throw out precedents established only a few years ago, all driven not by changes in the law or objective deliberations over facts, but by the simple fact that Sandra Day O'Connor left the court and was replaced by a more conservative justice.

The good news is that these 5-4 decisions carry as little weight as possible (I know, that's not much silver lining) and Justice Kennedy's opinion actually does a little bit to protect affirmative action. The bad news is that we're stuck with this court for a long time and it could possibly get worse.

Thanks a lot, Joe Lieberman. The next time this blogger hears you talk about being a Freedom Rider, I hope somebody asks you why you helped destroy Brown v. Board of Education.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Impeach Cheney

That's the title of Bruce Fein's article in Slate.

There's nothing I can add to it. Just read it. Fein has been an unrelenting defender of the Constitution during these dark Cheney years.

While Chris Matthews and the other talking heads spend day after day babbling about that loser who calls Democrats playground names, this nation is missing out on the debate it should be having: Whether or not we still believe in the Constitution. Fein should be on every program.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cheney, Dick

Barton Gellman and Jo Becker's four-part Washington Post series on Dick Cheney is so infuriating (and has been covered so well by other bloggers) that I'm just going to list my favorite sentence from each chapter:

  • Part I: "The thing I remember about it is how rude, there's no other word for it, the attorney general [John Ashcroft] was to the vice president," said one of those in the room.

  • Part II: [Colin] Powell remarked admiringly, as they emerged, that [Condoleezza] Rice dressed down the president's lawyer "in full Nurse Ratched mode," a reference to the head nurse of the mental hospital in the 1975 film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

  • Part III: "I can't think of a time when I have thought I was right and the vice president was wrong." -- Edward P. Lazear, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers

  • Part IV: "What does the law say?" [Ron] Christie, the former aide, recalled the vice president asking. "Isn't there some way around it?"


  • Monday, June 25, 2007

    Christie: Unnamed sources are unfair

    Can you find a better example of political cognitive dissonance than Ron Christie's appearance today on Tucker, mercifully hosted by David Schuster?

    Christie was on the program to defend Dick Cheney, his former boss, and to continue calling for a pardon for Scooter Libby. The clip at Crooks & Liars is a must-see primarily for its end, when Schuster says:

    You're a great guest, you're a great guy, but on the politics and the law in the Scooter Libby case, you're wrong.

    MSNBC really ought to bring back the Gong Show. They could give gong beaters to Keith Olbermann, Schuster and Jack Cafferty (hired away from CNN). Then, during a Chris Matthews interview, they could bang away on the thing, half the time while Tweety is asking one of his insipid questions.

    Christie would have earned the gong so many times in this interview, they'd have to buy a new one. In addition to his support of the nonsensical position that Cheney is a member of the legislative branch and his fact-free defense of Libby, Christie floated this absurd gripe a few times:

    ...I would say this to you: So much of this article, I looked at it there are all these unnamed quotes and these people who won't speak on the record...


    First of all, that makes the assumption that everything in was in that Post article was true, which... I do not necessarily subscribe to that. When you have unnamed sources, when you have people who are unwilling to have the courage to put their name behind some of the statements...


    The problem with this sort of "gotcha politics" that's going on with this Post story it seems to me is that there's one side of the story. What else is there? What is it that we don't know? I would just hope that some of the folks who have come forward with these anonymous quotes and these leaked materials would put their names to it so they could actually give this a little more color.

    This is from a man who is vehemently defending a convicted liar who, at the bequest of the vice president (whom he is also defending) leaked classified information to Judith Miller, demanding that the quotes be attributed to a "former Hill staffer." The information he gave her from the NIE was only "one side of the story" and was exaggerated at that. The quotes went into the paper so Cheney could go on the Sunday talk shows and point to the article as confirmation of the need to follow his nefarious agenda and start an unnecessary war in Iraq.

    There could not possibly be a better example of a pair of men using anonymous, one-sided leaks of information in a more perverse manner of manipulating the American people than Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby -- the exact duo Christie is on television to defend.

    Cry me a river, Ron.

    Labels: , , ,

    Slow down

    Just once I'd like to return from a trip to find that nothing really happened while I was gone.

    I missed Glenn Greenwald's FDL Book Salon, hosted by Digby, the NY Times article about Dick Cheney's ridiculous interpretation of his Constitutional role, and the first two Washington Post articles about the Cheney Administration. Oh yeah, and the Supreme Court decisions.

    For the second time this month, I'm going to be playing catch-up.

    In the meantime, here's another reminder to go buy Glenn's book if you haven't already.

    Labels: , , ,

    Thursday, June 21, 2007

    From one Issa to another

    Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) voted against allowing the federal government to negotiate prescription drug prices for Medicare in January 2007 and against the reimportation of prescription drugs in 2003, a year in which he received a dismal 12% rating from the American Public Health Association.

    Yesterday, he made an appearance at the screening of Michael Moore's Sicko on Capitol Hill:

    WASHINGTON, June 20 (UPI) -- In an atmosphere that was part political rally and part tent revival, film director Michael Moore brought his scathing healthcare critique, "Sicko," to Congress Wednesday.


    At the Capitol, Moore showed clips of the film and threw his support behind a House bill -- which has gotten little traction since it was introduced in 2003 -- that would eliminate private insurance companies altogether in favor of extending Medicare-like coverage to all Americans.

    Surrounded by a host of supportive representatives and vocal activists, Moore pulled no punches when it came to criticizing health insurance executives and pharmaceutical company lobbyists.


    The chamber briefly cooled with the unexpected arrival of Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican who represents the area around San Diego.

    Chiding the Democrats for not inviting him, Issa called for universal healthcare coverage but stopped short of endorsing the state-run system spelled out by the bill.

    "It is a bipartisan issue," he said. "We may agree to disagree on nuances, but we must act."

    Spectators fell silent, but Issa was given a firm handshake by Moore after Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., invited him to become the first Republican co-sponsor of the legislation.

    Poor Darrell Issa wasn't invited to the movie. It's just not fair. After the largest health care legislation in decades was written behind closed doors, without any Democratic input whatsoever, put up for a vote before anybody could possibly read the 678-page bill and was passed after the GOP-controlled Congress bent the rules to keep the 15-minute vote going for three hours, Darrell Issa is whining that the Democrats didn't invite him and his lousy voting record to see a movie about the crisis for which he's partly responsible.

    DB has some traveling to do and I always try to leave a good poem in my absence. This one isn't long, but I think it fits:

    No doubt about it
    by Kobayashi Issa

    No doubt about it,
    the mountain cuckoo
    is a crybaby.

    Labels: , , ,

    Wednesday, June 20, 2007

    Thanks, Hullabaloo

    DB would like to thank Digby and all the Hullabaloo readers for the hospitality this week. It was definitely a tough assignment filling in for her.

    I wrote earlier here that I would be "pinch-hitting," but in reality, I was "eating innings." And I had no idea I'd be following a live speech! I've compared Digby to Jimi Hendrix before... Now I'm reminded that nobody wanted to follow Hendrix on stage when he made his American debut as a superstar at the Monterey Pop Festival almost exactly 40 years ago (off by just one day.)

    The reader comments were outstanding and illuminating -- part of the reason Hullabaloo is such a great blog. I must admit, I was a little disappointed that a Hullabaloo reader who took the name "Enoch Root" didn't seem to notice I gave one of my posts the title "Show some adaptability," which is pulled from the pages of Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. (One of the characters in that book is named Enoch Root.)

    Again, thanks Digby and congratulations on the well-deserved award!

    Labels: ,

    Sun don't shine above the ground

    (Cross-posted at Hullabaloo)

    Tomorrow, the Summer Solstice, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will be delivering a speech on Civil Rights in Oxford, Mississippi. Won't that be special. I wonder if he'll use the phrase "I don't recall" much.

    Oxford, of course, is home to the University of Mississippi, where, in the middle of a riot, James Meredith became the first African-American student. Meredith survived after being shot, nearly four years later, as he marched for voting rights.

    I've heard that Meredith does not enjoy being considered an important figure in the Civil Rights movement. From the looks of the Voting Rights Section of the Department of Justice, it would seem Gonzales doesn't, either.

    Via McClatchy on Monday:

    WASHINGTON — A former Justice Department political appointee blocked career lawyers from filing at least three lawsuits charging local and county governments with violating the voting rights of African-Americans and other minorities, seven former senior department employees charged Monday.

    Hans von Spakovsky also derailed at least two investigations into possible voter discrimination, the former employees of the Voting Rights Section said in interviews and in a letter to the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. They urged the panel to reject von Spakovsky's nomination to the Federal Election Commission.


    In the letter to California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the panel's chairwoman, the former employees said that von Spakovsky acted as the "de facto voting section chief" from early 2003 until late 2005, spending virtually all of his time on voting matters and promoting "partisan political interests."

    "We have never seen a political appointee exercise this level of control over the day-to-day operations of the voting section," they said.

    It was the second letter in the last eight days in which former employees of the Voting Rights Section, including [Joseph] Rich and former deputy chief Robert Kengle, urged the Senate panel to reject the nomination. Feinstein told von Spakovsky during the hearing that the criticism from former department officials would make it difficult for him to win confirmation.

    Monday's letter included the first allegations that von Spakovsky torpedoed suits and investigations over alleged state, county or local laws that diminish the voting strength of African-Americans, Native Americans or other minorities or prevent them from voting altogether.

    I'm sure Gonzales' speech will be riveting.

    McClatchy, by the way, has a new website with a new slogan, "Truth to Power." Josh Marshall sings the praises they deserve.

    Labels: , ,

    Presidential Power

    Thinking about how radical the Bush administration has been led me to pick up my dusty copy of Richard E. Neustadt's Presidential Power, one of the best books ever written about the executive branch. I just wanted to see how (my outdated copy of) the book holds up in light of the absurd nature of politics and the media in the early 21st Century. In some respects quite well, in others, not so much.

    Interestingly, I found two opposite pages (164-165) that stuck out in my mind for different reasons, and both are bouncing around in my head today.

    The first is this:

    In 1898, two years before Wilson's apologia, a scholarly observer who may well have influenced him wrote a deeper book than Congressional Government. This was Henry Jones Ford, his book The Rise and Growth of American Politics. Correctly, in my view, he even then put the Presidency at the system's center:

    The agency of the presidential office has been such a master force in shaping public policy that to give a detailed account of it would be equivalent to writing the political history of the United States.

    The evidence... history affords seems conclusive of the tact that the only power which... define[s] issues in such a way that public opinion can pass upon them is that which emanates from presidential authority. ...

    The rise of presidential authority cannot be accounted for by the intention of presidents; it is the product of political conditions which dominate all the departments of government, so that Congress itself shows an unconscious disposition to aggrandize the presidential office. ...

    Eighty years later the trend seems the same.

    Today, the talking heads are having a field day with the news that Congress has abysmal approval ratings. Lou Dobbs is reporting that fact as I type this.

    In the comments to my posts this week at Hullabaloo, it was plenty clear to me that people have lost faith in Congress' ability to rein in this president. The failed Iraq Supplemental opportunity to end the war and the fact that Nancy Pelosi said impeachment is off the table seem to have crushed a great deal of whatever optimism voters had after last November's elections.

    No doubt, it is true that the power this president has was ceded to him by the GOP-controlled Congress of the recent past, and has yet to be reclaimed by the thin majority the Democrats "enjoy" presently. Personally, I don't think they have the votes to change that much. The only real weapon they have is to continue investigating this reprehensible administration and hope that something comes out that is so egregious, even John Boehner and Mitch McConnell won't be able to save Bush.

    What is incredibly gut-wrenching to so many of us is the previously unimaginable extent to which the GOP Congressional leadership and noise machine has been willing to defend the indefensible. Which brings me to the opposite page (165) of my copy of Presidential Power:

    In the aftermath of Watergate, however, we have seen occasions where distinctions between reputation and prestige seemed to dissolve, where Washingtonians seemed quite like members of the general public, reacting to a President in almost the same terms, conducting themselves accordingly.' One such occasion was the "Saturday night massacre" of 1973 when Nixon fired the Watergate Prosecutor, forcing resignations from the Attorney General and his Deputy, all of whom responded on TV. This dramatic sequence-televised and thus "firsthand" in all parts of the country seemed so to contradict the President's contentions as to drain them of credibility, enlarging what we now label a credibility "gap," indeed extending it so wide as to cast doubt on his legitimacy and with it his authority as President. Nixon seemed to be engaging in a cover-up of criminal activity. He seemingly was fighting law enforcement. But he had sworn an oath of office encompassing the "take-care" clause. Hence the cloud on his legitimacy. The "massacre" tripped off impeachment proceedings. It is easy to see why.

    What was striking then is that inside the government or near it, in the watchful circle of the Washington community, reactions against Nixon seemed to have so much in common with the popular impressions outside government. Citizens at large were swept into a "firestorm" of protest and suspicion. But so were commentators, congressmen, and civil servants. Apparently the President's behavior planted the same question in all minds. Some Washingtonians, waiting upon evidence, were slower than others to draw ultimate conclusions, and slower by far than some citizens, but he was treated henceforth with reserve throughout the Washington community. Diplomacy aside-there was a crisis in the Middle East-he turned away from governing and focused on the prospect of impeachment. Had Nixon tried to be assertive in domestic spheres, I take it that he would have been ignored or resisted. All over town officials shook themselves free of the White House, released by suspicion from deference, distancing their programs from his person. This occurred within one year of his triumphant re-election, three years before expiration of his term. For Washingtonians it was a most uncharacteristic reaction, especially so early in the term. Calculations about possible impeachment played a part, no doubt. But so did outraged feelings about Nixon's performance. There was precious little rallying around him. Instead, so far as I can judge, there was a widespread sense, even in some quarters of the White House, that he had compromised his right to be there and should go, impeached or not.

    It is hard to imagine Washingtonians having less "in common with the popular impressions outside government" today (or during the Clinton impeachment proceedings.) As Digby correctly noted in her magnificent speech, the mainstream media -- the High Broderism and Meal Ticket Journalists -- have failed us completely.

    Glenn Greenwald wrote today:

    Only in the true fringe -- what Digby calls "the modern conservative movement of Newt and Grover and Karl and Rush," as well as their establishment media enablers -- does opposition to the Iraq War, or Guantanamo and torture, or the abolition of habeas corpus, or the grotesque deceit of the Limbaugh Right make one a "leftist" or fringe liberal, as those terms are used in their pejorative sense. The reality is that the views Digby identifies as the crux of the "progressive blogosphere" are entirely mainstream American views. "Extremism" is marked by those who reject those beliefs, not by those who embrace them.

    Radicals and extremists are those who believe that we ought to invade and occupy foreign countries which have not attacked and cannot attack us, or that we ought to lock people away indefinitely with no process and/or torture them, or that the president has the power to ignore our duly enacted laws. As is true for any collection of large numbers of people, there surely are liberal bloggers who hold views that are shared only by a small minority. But objectively speaking, the defining views, the ones that its members hold almost unanimously in common, are anything but radical or "fringe."

    It is not only our national character that has changed fundamentally over the last six years. So, too, has our political spectrum. As I've argued many times before, the term "liberal" or "the Left," as used most commonly, now denotes "opposition to Bush radicalism." Anyone who meaningfully deviates from the worldview of the Bush movement, who devotes themselves to opposing it, finds themselves -- for that reason alone -- described as "on the Left." Even the CIA, and Bush appointees such as Richard Armitage and James Comey, are so described that way. That is how profoundly these terms have been transformed.

    Ideas that were always previously so radical as to be unthinkable are now routinely identified as "mainstream conservatism." Conversely, political principles that have been such an integral part of America's political identity as to be unquestionable are now the hallmarks of "fringe liberalism" (a "fringe" which, as our last election demonstrated, now includes an ever-growing majority of the population). Those whose views of "bloggers" are based upon the caricatures of Time Magazine and The Washington Post would undoubtedly be shocked to learn of just how unremarkable is the Platform of Beliefs of the "Progressive Blogosphere" as articulated by one of its leading and most admired commentators.

    The litany of abuses of the public trust, to the point at which one of the highest ranking officials in the administration was convicted by a jury of obstructing the only significant criminal investigation of wrongdoing in the White House, has been so well-documented there's no reason to go through it here. When John Ashcroft was willing to resign to stop Bush and Cheney from hatching one of their schemes, we wondered what could have been so bad to make him say no.

    What it will take to make the rest of today's Washingtonians to say no? What it will take -- beyond a veto-proof majority -- to hold Bush accountable for his misdeeds and get this country back? The simple answer to my simple question is probably "nothing."

    Still, this member of the "fringe" will not relent.

    Labels: , , , , , ,

    No excuses

    (Cross-posted at Hullabaloo)

    Yesterday was Juneteenth, a time to reflect on Civil Rights and progress in America. As I was admonished in comments here for not making clearer, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in America. But sub-human conditions for workers still exist, to the everlasting shame of the Congress that has allowed it to continue on American soil.

    It's easy sometimes to feel helpless when confronted by crimes against humanity in distant locations, where seemingly little can be done. It is inexcusable for nothing to be done when the outrages occur within the legal jurisdiction of our own representative government.

    I'm writing about the exploitation that is hidden away in the Marianas Islands. I'm referring to the women who are tricked into thinking they are buying a chance to work in America, only to learn that they are essentially imprisoned in a filthy den, forced to work for nothing, forced into prostitution, forced to have abortions, and finally shipped back to their homelands, broken and penniless. I'm writing about a man who couldn't "spotlight" a blog post; he lit himself on fire to call attention to the desperation that has been largely ignored.

    I know of nobody on the blog-o-sphere who has devoted more energy to this horrible situation than dengre at Daily Kos. I urge you to read dengre's diary detailing how Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff made sure Congress would do nothing but turn a blind eye to these atrocities. You can read dengre's transcripts of the Senate testimony of abused women, some of which fell on deaf ears a decade ago.

    You can also see a (somewhat old) video here that shows the working conditions out there.

    Again, this is on U.S. soil. Now that the Democrats control Congress, there is no reason this ugliness should remain in the shadows. There is no excuse for allowing this exploitation to continue.

    Last week, Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) introduced "a bill to implement further the Act approving the Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States of America, and for other purposes." It remains to be seen what the bill hopes to accomplish, or what it will look like in its final form. Hearings may begin next month.

    There is no doubt what the bill ought to do. Slavery is wrong. Rape is wrong. That may be hard for Tom DeLay to comprehend while he smiles to allow people to see Jesus through his mugshot. But it should be obvious to just about everybody else. Please put pressure on Congress to do the right thing.

    Labels: , , , , , ,

    Tuesday, June 19, 2007


    What a speech! Digby is the best.

    Labels: ,


    (Cross-posted at Hullabaloo)

    I was traveling last week and I'm still catching up on all the news I missed. Today, I read the Fourth Circuit's al-Marri opinion and is it a doozy (PDF).

    If John Yoo and David Addington weren't done emptying out the liquor cabinet by p. 71, the conservative court's smackdown of the unitary executive theory here was probably enough alone to send them into a slurred-speech babble (emphasis mine):

    In light of al-Marri’s due process rights under our Constitution and Congress’s express prohibition in the Patriot Act on the indefinite detention of those civilians arrested as "terrorist aliens" within this country, we can only conclude that in the case at hand, the President claims power that far exceeds that granted him by the Constitution. 17

    We do not question the President’s war-time authority over enemy combatants; but absent suspension of the writ of habeas corpus or declaration of martial law, the Constitution simply does not provide the President the power to exercise military authority over civilians within the United States. See Toth, 350 U.S. at 14 ("[A]ssertion of military authority over civilians cannot rest on the President’s power as commander-in-chief, or on any theory of martial law."). The President cannot eliminate constitutional protections with the stroke of a pen by proclaiming a civilian, even a criminal civilian, an enemy combatant subject to indefinite military detention. Put simply, the Constitution does not allow the President to order the military to seize civilians residing within the United States and detain them indefinitely without criminal process, and this is so even if he calls them "enemy combatants."

    A "well-established purpose of the Founders" was "to keep the military strictly within its proper sphere, subordinate to civil authority."

    Marty Lederman had much more last week on the decision. TalkLeft had a series of posts on the case as well.

    After the 2006 elections, the concern-troll Republicans warned the new majority they better not "overreach." Certainly, nobody will accuse them of doing that with a straight face.

    But when future generations look back at the hubris and avarice of the Bush administration, the word "overreach" might be among the most appropriate. An overreaching view of authority. Overreaching in foreign policy. Overreaching in privatization. Overreaching in trying to control ideas and facts. Overreaching in expecting the military to fix everything.

    Great news from the Fourth Circuit and incredible to see how roundly rejected the law-breaking of this president has been. After watching Congress abdicate their obligations for so long, the hearings these past few months have been nothing short of flabbergasting. Learning that the leaders of the Justice Department were, at one point, on the verge of resigning, and now seeing conservative courts saying "enough..." It makes me think this might be America, after all.

    While we're on the subject of looking at Bush's place in history, I cannot wait to read Glenn Greenwald's new book, A Tragic Legacy, due to be released June 26.

    Labels: ,

    A reference point

    (Cross-posted at Hullabaloo)

    Today is Juneteenth. Happy Juneteenth!

    It's a day to celebrate the abolition of slavery, but also to remember that there remains quite a bit of road ahead on the path to true equality under the law in America. The hard work left to do is especially glaring this year, in light of the fact that the Department of Justice seems hell-bent on making a U-turn.

    Nancy Pelosi issued an eloquent statement today about the holiday:

    "In his famous Gettysburg address, President Abraham Lincoln promised a new birth of freedom in our nation. And today we commemorate the day of new birth in which all people in America were made free: June 19, 1865.

    "Known as Juneteenth, this is the day when Union Major General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas to issue the President's executive order, known to us as the Emancipation Proclamation. Although the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863, it took almost two and half years for the Proclamation to be enforced throughout all of the United States.

    "Juneteenth has evolved into a national day of reflection and celebration for millions of Americans across the country. Juneteenth is America's reminder of a past of inequality, and a future of justice for all citizens. It is a reference point from which to appreciate the progress made in our society, toward the ideal of equality that is America's heritage and hope."

    Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker published a post last Friday detailing how clearly the DOJ Civil Rights division has been undermined by this administration. Every week, it becomes even more obvious.

    I'm going to deviate a bit. It's not the true intention of the holiday, but I can't help thinking also about the way the world has advanced physically since 1865 and how news travels. Of course, part of the reason it took so long for word of the Emancipation to be delivered to the slaves in Texas was the fact that the Confederacy was in control and had no motivation for spreading that particular news item.

    But news didn't travel so fast, anyway. Radio was still a generation away. And even sending a person somewhere wasn't that easy. There was no interstate highway system. When the 19th Century began, First Lady Abigail Adams got lost in the woods just trying to get from Baltimore to Washington D.C.

    As with equal rights, it often seems that progress is "an arch wherethrough gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades for ever and for ever when I move," to be presumptuous enough to borrow from Tennyson. We just never seem to get there. You might be reading this post 10,000 miles from where it was written within minutes of its publishing. But a police officer still can't reliably tell a firefighter to get out of a collapsing building with an interoperable radio. The federal government couldn't even figure out help was desperately needed at the Superdome after Katrina. And the signal-to-noise ratio is so low these days that information doesn't penetrate even after it arrives, hence the Saddam was behind 9/11 poll results.

    I think the good news is that we're close enough technologically that a simple change of leadership might be all it takes to get our nation communicating the way we ought to be. Just getting Ted Stevens away from a gavel was a good start. With enough pressure on the FCC, the Internet just might survive the threat of corporate control.

    Equality under the law? Well, electing a president who will reverse some of the damage to the Justice Department will get us back on the road, at a bare minimum. I doubt there will ever be a Juneteenth when we can float out the Mission Accomplished banner. But as Pelosi said, today is a reference point and a chance to evaluate where we've been, where we are and where we are headed.

    Labels: , , ,

    Monday, June 18, 2007

    Show some adaptability

    (cross-posted at Hullabaloo)

    At the Take Back America Conference today, in the Women Rising: The Issues that Count panel, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards made an important point that may only be just beginning to sink in for most of America: The Bush administration's changes to the judiciary are going to have a long-lasting impact on the nation.

    I think the most lasting legacy of this administration, besides the war in Iraq, will be the total remake of the federal judiciary, which we're going to live with for decades. It's not... It is the Supreme Court, but it's obviously much, it goes much deeper.

    And I do believe, actually though, this is the time that we... Litigation was a tool we used for years and at the end of the day, we always thought we could sort of rely on nine predominantly men in robes, and those days are over. And so I think this is our opportunity and obligation to rebuild a movement in this country. And it does mean building grassroots support in this country, state by state.

    It's why it was so important for Planned Parenthood's action fund in the last election to demonstrate that being pro-women's rights and pro-women's health care was not only the right thing to do, it was the politically right thing to do. And I think that's why it was so important that we elected governors across the country and have to continue to do that. Because at the end of the day, the decisions that are being made, and some of them were spoken here, that affect women's access to health care, women's access to affordable health care and teen's access to comprehensive, medically accurate sex education... These decisions are being made by governors and state legislatures.

    So, I think it is incumbent on all of us to do our work at the local level and as we know -- anybody who is spending time in Washington knows -- everyone on Capitol Hill came from somewhere else. So, if we change power in this country, we're going to change Washington.

    The sooner this registers in everybody's skulls, the better. I hesitate to say that people who believe a woman has a right to control her own body have become complacent, but the fact of the matter is that the courts are no longer a reliable last line of defense for women's rights. The arena in which women's rights will be secured has shifted and become less concentrated, which means the burden of maintaining those rights will have to be shared by more Americans.

    Furthermore, there is hardly a flatter lie than when a GOP candidate says these issues should be left to the states. Is there any doubt that the minute a woman no longer has a Constitutional, fundamental right to make these decisions, the pro-life movement will immediately attempt to have a federal ban? They've been trying to do that already, even with a woman's rights protected by Roe.

    The ongoing struggle for women's reproductive rights is going to become increasingly a state and local issue, but it will remain a federal issue as well. Hopefully America won't waste too much time adapting to this new landscape because there isn't much time to lose and it's no longer up to a group of smart and dedicated lawyers to keep us free.

    UPDATE: After reading some of Hullabaloo's excellent commenters, it is obvious to me that I missed a golden opportunity to point out that the president of any organization that endorsed Joe Lieberman has some chutzpah to be lamenting the fact that we can no longer rely on the Supreme Court to protect women's rights.

    Labels: , ,

    Of course they knew

    (cross-posted at Hullabaloo)

    In one of the homework assignments Digby left for us all, The General's Report, Sy Hersh describes the willful ignorance of the pentagon leadership when confronted with the bitter fruit that Donald Rumsfeld's policies yielded. Rumsfeld refused to look at the photographs, even though he knew what horrible acts the photos depicted. Others made the same decision.

    Christy finds in this transparent and cowardly act a theme for the administration at large:

    Plausible deniability. If it sounds familiar, it is because it has been the constant refrain from Bush Administration officials — including AG Gonzales in the latest series of inquiries into Department of Justice improprieties. They are using what ought to be a solemn, ethical obligation as a shield for liability from wrongdoing, taking an obligation to not interfere with genuine fact-finding and twisting it into an excuse for not correcting an ongoing problem. This is not governing, it is CYA at the highest levels — and they should not be allowed to continue along this tactical path.

    The thing is, for plausible deniability to work as a defense, it has to be, you know, plausible. I suppose you could argue, after witnessing the war that Rumsfeld designed for us in Iraq, that he has either no imagination whatsoever or the greatest imagination of all time. After all, he couldn't seem to fathom that even basic lawbreaking would occur after the government was toppled in Iraq. On the other hand, the entire affair persisted in appearing to Rumsfeld a smashing success until the day he was dismissed.

    But no functional human lacks enough imagination to require a photo to picture this:

    "Here . . . comes . . . that famous General Taguba—of the Taguba report!" Rumsfeld declared, in a mocking voice. The meeting was attended by Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld's deputy; Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (J.C.S.); and General Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, along with Craddock and other officials. Taguba, describing the moment nearly three years later, said, sadly, "I thought they wanted to know. I assumed they wanted to know. I was ignorant of the setting."

    In the meeting, the officials professed ignorance about Abu Ghraib. "Could you tell us what happened?" Wolfowitz asked. Someone else asked, "Is it abuse or torture?" At that point, Taguba recalled, "I described a naked detainee lying on the wet floor, handcuffed, with an interrogator shoving things up his rectum, and said, 'That's not abuse. That's torture.' There was quiet."


    I learned from Taguba that the first wave of materials included descriptions of the sexual humiliation of a father with his son, who were both detainees. Several of these images, including one of an Iraqi woman detainee baring her breasts, have since surfaced; others have not. (Taguba's report noted that photographs and videos were being held by the C.I.D. because of ongoing criminal investigations and their "extremely sensitive nature.") Taguba said that he saw "a video of a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee." The video was not made public in any of the subsequent court proceedings, nor has there been any public government mention of it. Such images would have added an even more inflammatory element to the outcry over Abu Ghraib. "It's bad enough that there were photographs of Arab men wearing women's panties," Taguba said.

    At this point, there are so many examples of dereliction on behalf of the administration and the "party of accountability" that it's simply not plausible that any group of people could be that oblivious. But the idea that they could avoid responsibility simply by closing their eyes... that's the stuff a normal person learns won't work by the end of second grade in elementary school.

    Hersh explained to Wolf Blitzer what was done with these reports:

    HERSH: Oh, my God, two months. Is it possible — you know, the question you have to ask about the president is this. No matter when he learned, and certainly he learned before it became public, and no matter how detailed it was, is there any evidence that the president of the United States said to Rumsfeld, what's going on there, Don? Let's get an investigation going.

    Did he do anything? Did he ask for a — did he want to have the generals come in and talk to him about it? Did he want to change the rules? Did he want to improve the conditions?

    BLITZER: And what's the answer?

    HERSH: Nada. He did nothing.

    It's actually worse than nothing. Of course, this entire sorry episode stemmed from the policies that Bush put in place, with his torture memo and the latitude he gave Rumsfeld. But Al Gore, in Assault on Reason, noted that the administration's fingerprints are all over the abuses:

    The abhorrent acts at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere were a direct consequence of the culture of impunity — encouraged, authorized, and instituted by Bush and Rumsfeld in their statements that the Geneva Conventions did not apply. These kinds of horrific abuses were the logical, inevitable outcome of policies and statements from the administration. To me, just as glaring as the evidence of the pictures themselves was the revelation that it was established practice for prisoners to be moved around during the visits of the International Committee of the Red Cross so they would not be available for interviews. No one can claim that was the act of a few bad apples. That was policy set from above with the direct intent to violate U.S. values that the administration was claiming to uphold.

    There's another reason the deniability is simply implausible: There was never any doubt that abuse would take place in Iraqi prisons unless steps were taken proactively to stop them. These immoral acts didn't just happen; they were allowed to happen.

    In 1971, psychology professor Philip G. Zimbardo conducted what are known as the Stanford Prison Experiments. Zimbardo set up a fake prison and randomly assigned roles to his students. Some were guards, others prisoners. The experiment ended abruptly when it became clear to Zimbardo that his students, the best and brightest this country had to offer, essentially turned into monsters in a matter of days.

    Zimbardo discussed what happened in Alex Gibney's fantasic film The Human Behavior Experiments (video here), and how he saw, in Abu Ghraib, obvious parallels to his research:

    PHILIP ZIMBARDO: Were there a few bad apples? No. The, what was bad was the barrel. Who made the barrel? This whole chain of command.

    KEN DAVIS, ARMY RESERVIST: I feel terrible about what happened to these Iraqi detainees. They were in U.S. custody. Our country had an obligation to treat them right; to treat them as human beings. We didn't do that. [Uh] that was wrong.

    NARRATOR: Prior to the Abu Ghraib scandal, Donald Rumsfeld had personally approved interrogation techniques, including dogs, stress positions, and nudity, that violated long-standing military rules.

    DAVIS: When you follow an order, you gotta be held accountable as well. But the ones that hold the key to that door; the ones that ask you to walk through that door; hold a higher accountability, 'cause they know better.

    ZIMBARDO: I know the situation very closely now, because I was an expert witness for one of those guards, Chip Frederick. Exemplary soldier. Nine medals. Model father. Husband. Uh, patriot, and you know, normal, healthy, no sadistic tendencies; nothing that would indicate he was anything other than [an] ordinary k-, good guy. And he gets into this place. And he is totally corrupted.

    DAVIS: Sometimes you cross a line. And it's a thin line; that anytime, that can be crossed by anybody, if placed in certain conditions.

    CHRISTINA MASLACH: I think it's a hard conclusion, from all of the research evidence, to sort of say, there's nothing inherent in who you are that would necessarily say, I'm safe, I will never cross the line. That research was done thirtysomething years ago. This is not news, you know. The, the lessons that we learned: it's been in textbooks; it's been taught in psychology courses. Other research — Milgram; all of these other studies — are pointing to those same conclusions.

    Of course Bush knew. Of course Rumsfeld knew. Of course the pentagon leadership knew. It's been known for decades, perhaps centuries, what happens when a nation embraces the policies that this government has allowed to define us in the eyes of the world.

    They all knew what was happening, their denials notwithstanding. It's time for some accountability already. Because we all know, too.

    Labels: , , , , ,


    DB's posting here has been pretty thin lately, sorry. With all the work and travel, there hasn't been much time to write a whole lot over here.

    But this week things should pick up a little as I have the honor of supplementing the awesome work of Digby over at Hullabaloo. That is, if I can figure out how to publish over there correctly. When I do, I'll cross-post over here.

    Also, I've been asked by TRex to help out with the Friday night Late Night FDL shift, which I have done the past two weeks. (Here's last week's.) I won't be there next Friday (on the road again), but after that I hope to post regularly.

    UPDATE: Still working on getting a post up on Hullabaloo. I don't want to post it here until I can get it working over there. Hopefully, I'll get this straightened out soon. Sorry for the anti-climax.

    Labels: ,

    Friday, June 15, 2007

    Gore on the Internet

    Last year, DB had the pleasure of going to hear a speech delivered by former president Bill Clinton. While I gave the speech high marks overall, I was very disappointed with one aspect:

    He spent most of his time discussing the Internet in terms of its other benefit: the ability to raise money. He mentioned the huge amounts raised on the Net by both Republicans and Democrats in 2004. He talked about the money raised for both the tsunami relief and Katrina.

    All true, but Clinton came up terribly short here, and in the same manner as all the D.C. Democrats. Essentially, his only examples of Americans using the Internet to have a positive impact on the world involved a citizen typing in a credit card number or handing over $50.

    No mention of the effect of the netroots. No mention of the unique opportunity for the public to use the Net to hold the government accountable. No mention of the Net as an incubator for thoughts and movements.

    While I was away this past week, I read Al Gore's Assault on Reason. It is an outstanding book. Anybody who reads blogs regularly will already be aware of much of the book's examples from recent history. But Gore puts our recent decline in collective thought as a nation into a much-needed context.

    One of the things that stood out to me was this refreshing conclusion:

    In fact, the Internet is perhaps the greatest source of hope for reestablishing an open communications environment in which the conversation of democracy can flourish. It has extremely low entry barriers for individuals. The ideas that individuals contribute are dealt with, in the main, according to the rules of a meritocracy of ideas. It is the most interactive medium in history and the one with the greatest potential for connecting individuals to one another and to a universe of knowledge.

    An important distinction to make is that the Internet is not just another platform for disseminating the truth. It's a platform for pursuing the truth, and the decentralized creation and distribution of ideas, in the same way that markets are a decentralized mechanism for the creation and distribution of goods and services. It's a platform, in other words, for reason.

    Al Gore gets it. He always has.

    Labels: , ,

    What did I miss?

    Quite a bit it looks like. It's amazing how much happens in one week these days. DB was without Neternit access or TV (more or less) while travelling. Every time that happens, I come home mildly optimistic... maybe things straightened themselves out while I was gone!

    Nope. Going to be a while before I catch up, but I did see that Joe Lieberman is still insane. Thanks again, Connecticut.

    Here's a post at Daily Kos, picking up on DB's ongoing frustration with Congress' absolute lack of political will when it comes to preventing Bush from unilaterally deciding to expand this terrible war to Iran.

    Labels: , , ,

    Friday, June 08, 2007

    Gone fishing

    DB is taking off for about a week. First, I'll be subbing for the sensational TRex at Firedoglake tonight (here and here.) But after that, I'll be heading out of town. I'll try to post if I get a chance, but it probably won't happen until Thursday.

    So here's another poem to keep you going:

    The Fish
    by Elizabeth Bishop

    I caught a tremendous fish
    and held him beside the boat
    half out of water, with my hook
    fast in a corner of his mouth.
    He didn't fight.
    He hadn't fought at all.
    He hung a grunting weight,
    battered and venerable
    and homely. Here and there
    his brown skin hung like strips
    like ancient wall-paper,
    and its pattern of darker brown
    was like wall-paper:
    shapes like full-blown roses
    stained and lost through age.
    He was speckled with barnacles,
    fine rosettes of lime,
    and infested
    with tiny white sea-lice,
    and underneath two or three
    rags of green weed hung down.
    While his gills were breathing in
    the terrible oxygen
    - the frightening gills,
    fresh and crisp with blood,
    that can cut so badly -
    I thought of the coarse white flesh
    packed in like feathers,
    the big bones and the little bones,
    the dramatic reds and blacks
    of his shiny entrails,
    and the pink swim-bladder
    like a big peony.
    I looked into his eyes
    which were far larger than mine
    but shallower, and yellowed,
    the irises backed and packed
    with tarnished tinfoil
    seen through the lenses
    of old scratched isinglass.
    They shifted a little, but not
    to return my stare.
    - It was more like the tipping
    of an object toward the light.
    I admired his sullen face,
    the mechanism of his jaw,
    and then I saw
    that from his lower lip
    - if you could call it a lip -
    grim, wet and weapon-like,
    hung five old pieces of fish-line,
    or four and a wire leader
    with the swivel still attached,
    with all their five big hooks
    grown firmly in his mouth.
    A green line, frayed at the end
    where he broke it, two heavier lines,
    and a fine black thread
    still crimped from the strain and snap
    when it broke and he got away.
    Like medals with their ribbons
    frayed and wavering,
    a five-haired beard of wisdom
    trailing from his aching jaw.
    I stared and stared
    and victory filled up
    the little rented boat,
    from the pool of bilge
    where oil had spread a rainbow
    around the rusted engine
    to the bailer rusted orange,
    the sun-cracked thwarts,
    the oarlocks on their strings,
    the gunnels - until everything
    was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
    And I let the fish go.

    Labels: ,

    Wednesday, June 06, 2007

    Throw the book at 'em

    DB just heard the mail arrive and ran out to see if anything good was delivered along with the usual assortment of exciting offers from Capitol One.

    Ah, my copy of Al Gore's Assault On Reason is here. As I opened my door, admiring the cover of the book, I looked at the television and there was Chris Matthews with the Hardball logo and the following question printed on the screen:


    Labels: , ,

    Tuesday, June 05, 2007

    Fear Factor

    John McCain said during the GOP debate tonight that he would "take the lead in fighting this transcendent issue of our time: the battle and struggle against radical Islamic extremism." He might have even exceeded Rudy in describing the vastness of the threat facing our nation:

    It is a force of evil that is within our shores. Look at the events of the last few days at JFK, attempts at Fort Dix, the London suicide bombers.

    My friends, this is a transcendent struggle between good and evil. Everything we stand for and believe in is at stake here. We can win. We will never surrender, they will. I am prepared to lead. My life and my experience and my background and my heroes inspire me and qualify me to lead in this titanic struggle which will not be over soon, but we will prevail.

    This was, of course, a common thread among all the Republican candidates (save Ron Paul). "These are real problems," said Rudy. "This war is not a bumper sticker. This war is a real war."

    Another wonderful moment of unanimity was this:

    MR. BLITZER: Is there anyone here who believes gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the United States military? If you do, speak up now. (Silence.)

    So here's the hypothetical DB would greatly appreciate hearing in the next GOP debate:

    The questions in this round will be premised on a fictional, but we think plausible scenario involving terrorism and the response to it. Here is the premise: Three shopping centers near major U.S. cities have been hit by suicide bombers. Hundreds are dead, thousands injured. A fourth attack has been averted when the attackers were captured.

    U.S. intelligence believes that another larger attack, possibly involving a nuclear bomb, is planned and could come at any time, but the attackers do not speak English and the only person immediately available who speaks Arabic is openly homosexual.

    What do you do?

    How amazing would that be to watch?

    Labels: , , , ,

    What a day

    Scooter gets the sentence he deserves, Schlozman gets the grilling he deserves and Rudy gets interrupted by God while explaining why he's not Pontius Pilate.

    Some days I have nothing to blog about. Today, too much to know where to start.

    Labels: , , , , ,

    Monday, June 04, 2007

    First 100 Days

    One of the most interesting questions in last night's Democratic debate was posed by an audience member:

    BLITZER: Let's go back to Jennifer.

    VAUGHN: OK, Wolf. We have Ivy Merrill with us tonight. You are a substitute elementary schoolteacher.

    QUESTION: Yes, I am.

    VAUGHN: What's your question tonight?

    QUESTION: Well, thank you for being here. Given that the circumstances in this country and in our world were essentially the same when you take office, what would be your top priority for your first 100 days?

    Well done, Ivy. Too bad the answers and debate ended like this:

    BLITZER: Senator Dodd, very quickly. We've got five seconds.

    But it really is a great question. I'd like to know what readers and other bloggers would do in their first 100 days as president.

    To get the ball rolling, here's what DB would do at the beginning of the Dover Bitch Administration:

  • Restore habeas corpus and all our Fourth Amendment and other Constitutional protections

  • Issue an Executive Order reaffirming that torture has no place in American military or intelligence operations

  • Close Gitmo and bring our processes back into the best traditions of American law

  • Ask my top military commanders for a plan on my desk detailing the U.S. exit from Iraq that I would expect to complete by the end of the calendar year with no permanent bases

  • Repair our armed forces and ask the Defense Dept. to prioritize our pursuit of al-Qaeda worldwide and our work in Afghanistan

  • Ask Congress to fully fund the physical and mental health care our returning soldiers require and courageously earned with their service

  • Restore our National Guard to its proper role protecting America at home and ask Congress to fund the restoration of its equipment and capabilities

  • Require DHS to outfit our nation's first responders within nine months with the interoperable communications systems they need to do their jobs well and with a minimum of risk to themselves

  • Permanently and immediately end the indentured servitude, forced prostitution and forced abortions in American territories like the Marianas

  • Create a pro-business, bipartisan task force to address practical, immediate and effective solutions to climate change, and a similar, ancillary task force to address energy independence

  • Declare the U.S. aversion to bilateral talks with other nations over

  • Demand aggressive action from the United Nations and countries and corporations with leverage in Sudan to put an end to the genocide, with a simultaneous commencement of a strategy involving possible intervention by NATO

  • Ask Congress to fully fund an intensive effort to round up the world's loose nukes by the end of the calendar year

    After my first 100 days, I would roll up my sleeves and start working on these important issues, all of which will likely take an entire term to even make a dent in solving:

  • Sensible immigration reform

  • Rebuilding our country's education system with a focus on early childhood development

  • Fulfilling Bush's promise to rebuild New Orleans

  • Fixing our broken Health Care system

  • Replacing every unqualified hack at every level in every facet of the government who was installed by the Bush regime for ideological reasons

    What would your first 100 days look like?

    Labels: ,

  • Where the Hacks have no Brains

    Last night, after the debate, DB was flipping around during a commercial break to see what people were saying about it. One channel down from CNN is Headline News. Glenn Beck was chatting with Mary Matalin.

    This is what I saw before I was forced to change back by the stupidity:

    MATALIN: We have a wonderful competitive field that`s growing larger by the minute, which will make it even better. This is a centrist country, and we know how we become prosperous. The Dow is at an all-time high. Today, S&P at an all-time high.

    BECK: But you know what? Here`s what kills me, is people -- people say it`s compassion to -- to redistribute wealth, to move it around. They say all these -- all these big -- for instance, you say who`s -- who`s a big artist that is really compassionate. It would be U2. U2 actually has all of their music licensing done in Amsterdam. All of the rights are held in Amsterdam, because they have a corporate tax rate of 1.5.

    MATALIN: Thank you. That`s another thing that`s in her speech. Let`s tax corporations more. We are the second highest corporate taxed country in the world. This is why business move overseas. They`re about to resurrect two other Democrats...

    Those damn Democrats, look what they've done. They made U2 move overseas.

    Last June, with the Irish tax break about to shrink, U2 heeded the advice of its longtime business manager, Paul McGuinness, and moved its most lucrative asset — a song-publishing catalogue with hits such as Where the Streets Have No Name and It's A Beautiful Day — from McGuinness' firm in Dublin to Promogroup, in Amsterdam.

    Vote for one of Matalin's "wonderful" candidates before we lose the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, too.

    Labels: , ,

    Sunday, June 03, 2007


    One month ago, DB wrote a post about my fears over the logistics of an American withdrawal from Iraq:

    But then, I'm afraid, it will get even uglier. Assuming he hasn't started anything with Iran by then, with a majority of Congress calling for withdrawal, Bush will have to start redeploying. It is important to realize that extracting ourselves from Iraq will be a complicated and dangerous operation.

    Consider the incompetence of this administration for a moment. Now imagine this Commander in Chief presiding over that redeployment. It has the potential to be a disaster. And, as Pat Buchanan has been saying all week, they will blame every problem and death on the "party of defeat."

    Philip Carter wrote an excellent piece about what the withdrawal will probably look like.

    But then I reached a point in my post that caused me a great deal of anguish. I revised it three times, eventually toning it down. Here's what I wrote:

    I'm not suggesting that they will deliberately make the exit a disaster. I will not enter "Republican Strategist" Ed Rogers' dwelling:

    The clumsy politics that the Kerry campaign is playing on terrorism should be offensive to all Americans. And the media should blow the whistle on them. I think -- in my heart of hearts, I think that they're hoping for an attack, so that they can say, I told you so.

    (I must say it makes me quite apprehensive to hear people with such a pathological lack of empathy and who are the embodiment of solipsism making comments like that.)

    But, no, I will not go there. I will only go as far as asking how much this administration, which hasn't given a crap about the troops throughout the entire war, will care about them at this dangerous juncture?

    Part of me wanted to "go there," but the thought of following Ed Rogers there -- even for the sole reason that he is already there -- was too much for me.

    But I cannot deny that this administration and its mindless defenders scare the crap out of me. I truly believe they are pathological and have a disturbing lack of empathy. Consider how far removed from the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes you have to be to think Katrina survivors might think it's "kind of fun" to lose their houses and be forced to live in shelters. Or that the victims might actually be better off since they were so poor. Or that Iraq is not in that bad shape since it looks peaceful from 30,000 feet above. I mean, imagine how much you would have to be disconnected from the suffering to say, "And are people being killed? Yes. And is it unfortunate? Yes."

    It's just disgusting. There's no way to account for the lack of compassion on behalf of the people running this country other than to say simply that they lack the fundamental ability to see things from other people's perspectives. And the conclusion that follows is that they are solipsistic and everything out of their mouths says more about them than the people they are trying to smear.

    When they blame the media for being biased, I have always felt that clearly indicated that they themselves felt no obligation to speak honestly. I reasoned that if these people felt that the public forums provided by the modern era were fundamentally dishonest, then they would also feel that the proper way to play the game was to lie "just like everybody else." I still think this is true, but I realize now that it stems more from a projection of themselves than it does from any legitimate analysis of the environment they are in.

    Which leads me back to Ed Rogers' horrible, horrible accusation. I really didn't want to write this a month ago, but I have a deep fear that when somebody like Rogers suggests that liberals want to see an attack on American soil, it's because he would think the same thing if he thought his party would benefit from such an attack. Perhaps he truly believes liberals think like that. He probably does. But he's wrong... and worse, he's projecting.

    You know, I'm still not willing to believe that the Bush administration -- not even Cheney -- would deliberately allow the withdrawal to be a disaster so the Democrats could be blamed for ending the war. I still think they're incompetent enough to make it a disaster, but I won't say they'd be evil enough to make it a disaster deliberately.

    But I revisit this topic today because I just read this, from Dennis Milligan, Chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party:

    "At the end of the day, I believe fully the president is doing the right thing, and I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [Sept. 11, 2001 ], and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country."

    Unlike this important Republican, I pray we never have another attack on American soil. Unlike another important Republican, I won't even wish the next attack upon his family.

    The modern GOP is the lowest assortment of cretins we've ever had at the helm of our nation.

    Labels: , , , , , , , ,

    Democrats Debate

    Tonight's debate was surprisingly substantive. CNN deserves some credit for that, but they also negated any kudos they might have gotten from DB by tossing out those ridiculous hand-raising hypotheticals. While I am the last to blame a network for having unexpected technical problems, in this case the mics not functioning properly, the network's conscious decision to have camera operators running around behind the candidates was unnecessary and distracting. This is a presidential debate, not VH1's Behind the Music.

    OK, that's out of the way. How about the candidates?

    I thought Obama was doing a sensational job for the first 40 minutes or so. He called out Wolf Blitzer on the silliness of a question about making English the official language of the United States. He also handily shot down John Edwards when the former Senator said that Obama wasn't leading when it comes to Iraq, noting that Edwards was four years late coming around to his position. Edwards followed up by admitting that he was wrong about Iraq. Refreshing as it is to hear a leader admit mistakes in this day and age, if there's a time you don't want to be admitting you were wrong, it would be after having your attack thrown back in your face during a live debate.

    But Obama's command disappeared quickly. An audience member with a son in Iraq asked why soldiers cannot choose what hospitals give them care. Obama responded by praising the VA for negotiating cheaper medications. If there was a worse answer for a soldier's mom than "your son has no choice because it's cheaper," I'm not sure what it could be. Mike Gravel hammered away at Obama for the problems at Walter Reed, which is under Obama's oversight as a member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee. Quite frankly, there's no way to come out of that looking good. I don't think Obama really recovered.

    Edwards was not impressive to me tonight. In addition to being swatted away by Obama, he did himself no favors with some of his other answers. He was asked how he will keep gas prices down as president. I braced myself for what I knew would be his answer: Launch investigations of the oil companies. Ouch. This is the kind of answer I would expect from a candidate for the House of Representatives, not the White House. Not only will "investigations" never yield any real answers or have any effect on actually lowering prices, this answer distracts from the larger issue of intelligent energy policy. The answer isn't cheaper oil, it's less need for oil. I am grateful for Edwards' extraordinary focus on poverty. I am very concerned, however, that his answers will lead a dangerous number of voters to conclude that he has contempt for capitalism in general. To be sure, I believe the oil companies have been unscrupulous and I'm disgusted by many facets of the industry. I just don't think that blaming the oil companies as your primary answer is wise politically. People want solutions and all he provided in that answer was fodder for the Republicans who will accuse him of "class warfare."

    Hillary Clinton fared the best in my opinion. She made no major (even minor) gaffes and she took the initiative on several occasions. She also shot down Blitzer's use of hypotheticals, describing her husband's attempt on Osama bin Laden. Other people will have different opinions I'm sure, but I am always satisfied to hear a politician remind voters that Bush kicked out the weapons inspectors. Despite Dennis Kucinich's attempts to blame his fellow Democrats for the war, Hillary did quite well to put the blame back where it belongs.

    Chris Dodd simply did not get enough time to make the impact he needed. He had the most gratifying answer of the night: In his first 100 days, he will restore our Constitutional protections. Thank you, Sen. Dodd.

    Joe Biden, full of fury, had an excellent answer to a different question (about earmarks). Biden called for public financing of campaigns. Well done.

    I'm afraid Gov. Richardson is going to be out of this campaign before anybody else. He wasn't particularly bad. He just wasn't particularly anything. His best chance of getting into the White House in 2009 is as an ambassador in Hillary Clinton's cabinet. [UPDATE: I didn't give Richardson enough credit for highlighting the need to improve our country's education system, particularly in the area of giving very young children a great start. I applaud him for that.]

    A final comment... The Democrats as a party are fielding candidates who are light years better than the GOP. Every single one of them would be a better president than anybody the GOP is offering.

    Labels: ,

    Saturday, June 02, 2007

    Steve Gilliard, 1966-2007

    Often, there are days when DB thinks about closing up shop here.

    When I used to play guitar, I was always amazed at how Jimi Hendrix could simultaneously inspire me and make me want to put my guitar away forever. What was the point of playing when the benchmark was so high?

    I wrote that once to Digby, in reference to her blogging. Blogging is harder than it looks. It is especially harder than some bloggers in particular make it look.

    Steve Gilliard was also like Jimi Hendrix to me. I'm not sure I have a bigger compliment in me than that.

    Though there are reasons I sometimes think of hanging it up, every now and then -- often enough to keep me going -- things happen that keep me inspired to contribute, at least to try. Here is just one example:

    Last summer, when Net Neutrality was coming up for a vote in corrupt Senator Ted Stevens' Commerce Committee, I had the pleasure of authoring a few posts at FireDogLake. I was trying to lead progressive people to come up with some creative analogies to help explain what the issue was all about. Then, to act locally to get the message out.

    It was a thrill to have a chance to be a positive influence with regards to an important issue that means a great deal to me. It was an honor to be invited to post at FDL.

    But the most satisfying moment, for me, was when I looked at the FDL homepage and saw one of my posts sandwiched between a post by Digby and another by Steve Gilliard. I sent Christy an email to tell her exactly that.

    I'm not crazy enough to think that means I'm in either Digby's or Steve's league when it comes to blogging. I cannot tell you how impressed I am, having done this now as long as I have, with the amount of consistently insightful, well researched and truly powerful posts that bloggers like Steve Gilliard produced day after day.

    It's a tremendous amount of work and you have to have a tremendous fire inside to do it. You have to really care about people to try as hard as Steve did to make this a better world.

    Rest in peace, Steve. You are already deeply missed.

    Labels: , , ,

    Friday, June 01, 2007

    You go, Alison

    Atrios beat me to the punch and put up this part of a transcript from yesterday's Countdown on MSNBC:

    ALISON STEWART: And then there‘s Senator John McCain and Bill O‘Reilly. Let‘s just say you know you‘re watching Fox News when Mr. O‘Reilly said immigrants would, quote, “break down the white Christian male power structure.”


    BILL O‘REILLY, HOST: That would sink the Republican party, I believe, so we‘d have a one-party system, and change, pardon the pun, the whole complexion of America. Am I wrong?



    STEWART: Personally, I don‘t really pardon the pun.

    I don't either.

    Atrios notes how ridiculous it is that Howard Fineman "is practically in tears about how awful John McCain must feel about all the lies he has to tell."

    I was waiting for Fineman to remind Stewart that she should find it "reassuring" to know that people are so valiantly defending the "white Christian male power structure."

    Also, later in the show, Stewart got another shot in for women of color:

    STEWART: Behind every candidate, there‘s usually a political spouse who tries hard to balance campaign fundraising with family, and sometimes even gives up a professional career. Michelle Obama is doing just that. And, you know, oddly, the mainstream media seems fascinated with the concept of a strong, well-educated black professional woman who speaks her mind.

    In my family, we call that normal.


    Labels: , , , , , , ,

    Bill Nelson for torture

    I went to the Hakmiyah prison. I can only describe it as a hellhole. I wanted to go there because of the cell that has the initials carved into the wall "MSS", which is the same as Michael Scott Speicher. We have no proof that that was the case. I observed the torture chamber and the refrigerated containers outside where they would put the corpses. And it all the more underscored the brutality of this regime. -- Sen. Bill Nelson, July 9, 2003

    Captain Speicher was shot down during the first Gulf War and was the only American soldier for whom there was no account. No Senator worked harder to find out what happened to Speicher than Nelson. This, of course, is a good thing.

    As the photo above shows, Sen. Nelson found what he believes is a room in which Speicher may have been tortured:

    At a press conference in Kuwait City late Monday, Nelson said he visited the "hell-hole prison cell," as well as a torture chamber in the prison.

    "In the basement, we saw the place where the torture took place. We saw where the chair that the prisoners would be strapped into was ripped from the concrete floor. We saw the wires and the holes that the wires came out for the electrical shocks," he said.

    So naturally, one would expect any Senator who has seen first-hand the "brutality" of a government that condones torture to use his vote to ensure his own government never went down that dark road.

    You'd be wrong. From today's NY Times:

    WASHINGTON, May 31 — The Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday questioned the continuing value of the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret interrogation program for terrorism suspects, suggesting that international condemnation and the obstacles it has created to criminal prosecution may outweigh its worth in gathering information.

    The committee rejected by one vote a Democratic proposal that would essentially have cut money for the program by banning harsh interrogation techniques except in dire emergencies, a committee report revealed.


    But the most novel element of the report is the assessment of the C.I.A. detention program, which the committee has rarely discussed in public. While only the chairman and the vice chairman were briefed on the program during the first five years after it was created following the 2001 terrorist attacks, all committee members have now been briefed for the first time, the report said.

    The report acknowledged that the secret detention program “has led to the identification of terrorists and the disruption of terrorist plots.” But it says that achievement must now “be weighed against both the complications it causes to any ultimate prosecution of these terrorists, and the damage the program does to the image of the United States abroad.”


    But the committee stopped short of using its budget authority to shut down the program. In a closed session on May 23, two Democrats, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Dianne Feinstein of California, proposed barring spending on interrogation techniques that go beyond the Army Field Manual, which bans physical pressure or pain. Under their proposal, the only exception would have been when the president determined “that an individual has information about a specific and imminent threat.”

    The amendment failed when Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, joined all the Republicans in voting no.

    The loophole in this proposed amendment is already big enough for Bush to waterboard somebody through. But that wasn't good enough for Nelson, who was also one of the 12 Democrats who voted for Bush's torture bill, eliminating habeas corpus last September.

    What a disgrace.

    Oh, by the way, Sen. Whitehouse, once again, demonstrates that he is the rock star of the 2006 elections. If only there were 99 more like him.

    Labels: , ,