Monday, October 30, 2006


Circulation Plunges at Major Newspapers
Circulation at the nation’s largest newspapers plunged over the last six months, according to figures released today. The decline, one of the steepest on record, adds to the woes of a mature industry beset by layoffs and the possible sale of some of its flagships.

Overall, average daily circulation for 770 newspapers was 2.8 percent lower in the six-month period ending Sept. 30 than in the comparable period last year, the Audit Bureau of Circulations reported. Circulation for 619 Sunday papers fell by 3.4 percent.

But some papers fared much worse. The Los Angeles Times lost 8 percent of its daily circulation, and 6 percent on Sunday. The Boston Globe, owned by The New York Times Company, lost 6.7 percent of its daily circulation and almost 10 percent on Sunday.

The New York Times, one of the few major papers whose circulation held steady over the last few reporting periods, did not emerge unscathed this time: its daily and Sunday circulation each fell 3.5 percent. The Washington Post suffered similar declines.

The Wall Street Journal’s new Weekend Edition, just over a year old, lost 6.7 of its circulation from a year ago.

We will suffer without the Platonic form of newspapers. Matter of fact, we suffer that loss now. How much we will suffer from the loss of the hacks we actually have is less clear. Even less clear is whether said hacks will put two and two together and conclude that their sycophancy has cost them more than relevance, and the way back is to the traditional role of journalists: to aflict the comfortable.

OTOH, If the Dems take Congress, I suspect they will remember that role in a hurry.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

More music

Digby excerpts a Michael Crowley article from TNR:
Subpoena Envy
by Michael Crowley

As the Lord High Executioner said in The Mikado, 'I have a little list.'" So says John Dingell, the 26-term Michigan House Democrat who spent 14 years as a mighty committee baron before the 1995 Republican Revolution booted him into the powerless minority. At last poised to reclaim his House Energy and Commerce Committee gavel, the 80-year-old Dingell now sounds like a man who can't wait for 2007. Though he knows a House Democratic majority won't pass much legislation, especially given George W. Bush's veto pen, his chairmanship means he can subject the Bush administration to high-profile committee hearings--lots and lots of them.

"Privacy," he begins. "Social Security-number protection. Outsourcing protection. Unfair trade practices. Currency manipulation. Air quality. We'll look at the implementation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. We'll take a look at climate change. We'll take a look at [the Department of Energy's] nuclear waste program, where literally billions of dollars are being dissipated. We'll look at port security and nuclear smuggling, where there's literally nothing being done. We'll look at the Superfund program. We'll take a look at EPA enforcement." He pauses for a breath--but he's just getting started: "On health, we'll take a look at Medicaid and waivers. The Food and Drug Administration. Generic drug approval. Medical safety. We'll also take a look at food supplements, where people are being killed. We will look at Medicare Part D [prescription drugs]." Is that all? "Telecom. We'll look at FCC actions. ... Media ownership. Adequate spectrum for police, fire, public safety, and addressing the problems of terrorism. ... We will look also at the overall question of Katrina recovery efforts."

As Democrats have gained in the polls, Republicans are predicting that a Democratic majority will mean a frenzy of political witch hunts directed at them by newly installed chairmen like Dingell. "You can expect two years of all-out investigations and attacks and anything they can bring to bear," Newt Gingrich warned on Fox News last March. Clearly aiming to calm the hysteria, George H.W. Bush recently warned it would be a "ghastly thing" for the United States if "wild Democrats" were put in charge of congressional committees. A Washington Times article fretted that "key administration officials will be so busy preparing for testimony that they will not be able to do their jobs."

But the curious thing about Dingell's little list is that it targets policies--not people. While some Democrats may dream of hauling Karl Rove to the Hill to discuss Plamegate or forcing Dan Bartlett to testify about Dick Cheney's hunting accident, Dingell is one of a number of future Democratic chairs who plan to focus on substance, not sideshows. And, as strange as it sounds, this may not come as a relief to Republicans. The GOP would love nothing more than for Democrats to go off on half-cocked, mean-spirited inquisitions that generate sympathy for the hapless Bushies. Alas, the GOP's conduct during the Clinton years has provided Democrats with a near-perfect what-not-to-do manual.

Subpoena power. It can mean that the the whole of the next two years will be one long nightmarish news cycle for the Republicans. In an environment in which Congress has been AWOL, Democrats can score political points simply by doing their damned jobs with even a picogram of competence.

Yet the Republican ostrich is holding form to the bitter end. The Foley ethics report? After the election. James Baker's Iraq Study Group report? After the election. And then of course there is the report that Pat Roberts' Senate Intel Committee was going to deliver after the 2004 election...

With a little luck, lots of things are going to change after the election. And yes, TA, I think a hog-tied Bush adminstration is a big improvement. It isn't paradise, but it sure as hell is an improvement.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Musical chairs

Two mornings in a row now, my first thought upon awaking was "Chairman Conyers." (That is, of course, Congressman John Conyers, who will become chairman of the House Judiciary COmmittee if the Democrats take control in a week and a half.)

It is not like me to wake up thinking such happy thoughts.

Cynicize all you like, TA. But I am pretty damned confident that Chairman Conyers is going to subpoena up a storm. Ditto for Chairman Henry Waxman at the Committee on Goverment Reform. If you want to get really starry-eyed, imagine Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy. They won't succeed in turning over every rock, but there will be no shortage of exposed creepy-crawlies.

Not every new committee head will be such a firebrand. But there are others: Charles Rangel will head Ways and Means; Barney Frank will head the Financial Services Committee; Louise Slaughter will head the Rules Committee.

"Chairman Conyers." Music to my ears.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

That subtle Republican sense of humor

Bush Admin Appoints Exxon’s Lee Raymond To Solve America’s Energy Crisis

You really have to hand it to the Jon Stewart wannabees within the Bush cabal -- their version of The Onion may not be quite as funny as the work of the folks who parody them, but they sure do try hard. Via GroovyGreen:
Not only will ExxonMobil announce third-quarter profits tomorrow, they’ve also got to be smiling from ear-to-ear about the recent appointment of former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond to lead an influential study to develop policy solutions to America’s energy crisis! How ironic is that? The genius behind this appointment is energy secretary Samuel Bodman — another Bush standout with obvious ties to Big Oil.

It is hard to imagine other outrages equally offensive. I mean, to equal this move, they would have to do something as stupid as putting Mark Foley in charge of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. Or sending Rush Limbaugh out to chastise Michael J. Fox about his use of medication. Or having Gerorge Bush proclaim a "Character Counts Week."

But who would be gullible enought to believe any of those things would happen?

You can register your opinion here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Off the charts

Rush Limbaugh On the Offensive Against Ad With Michael J. Fox -
Possibly worse than making fun of someone's disability is saying that it's imaginary. That is not to mock someone's body, but to challenge a person's guts, integrity, sanity.

To Rush Limbaugh on Monday, Michael J. Fox looked like a faker. The actor, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, has done a series of political ads supporting candidates who favor stem cell research, including Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin, who is running against Republican Michael Steele for the Senate seat being vacated by Paul Sarbanes.

"He is exaggerating the effects of the disease," Limbaugh told listeners. "He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act. . . . This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting."

This from the guy who excused his own narcotics addiction on the basis of his "back pain."

This from the guy who avoided the draft because of a cyst on his ass.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bombs away

Here is another way citizen bloggers are able to make a difference -- Google bombing. And good reading.

Explanation here.

--AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl

--AZ-01: Rick Renzi

--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth

--CA-04: John Doolittle

--CA-11: Richard Pombo

--CA-50: Brian Bilbray

--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave

--CO-05: Doug Lamborn

--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell

--CT-04: Christopher Shays

--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan

--FL-16: Joe Negron

--FL-22: Clay Shaw

--ID-01: Bill Sali

--IL-06: Peter Roskam

--IL-10: Mark Kirk

--IL-14: Dennis Hastert

--IN-02: Chris Chocola

--IN-08: John Hostettler

--IA-01: Mike Whalen

--KS-02: Jim Ryun

--KY-03: Anne Northup

--KY-04: Geoff Davis

--MD-Sen: Michael Steele

--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht

--MN-06: Michele Bachmann

--MO-Sen: Jim Talent

--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns

--NV-03: Jon Porter

--NH-02: Charlie Bass

--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson

--NM-01: Heather Wilson

--NY-03: Peter King

--NY-20: John Sweeney

--NY-26: Tom Reynolds

--NY-29: Randy Kuhl

--NC-08: Robin Hayes

--NC-11: Charles Taylor

--OH-01: Steve Chabot

--OH-02: Jean Schmidt

--OH-15: Deborah Pryce

--OH-18: Joy Padgett

--PA-04: Melissa Hart

--PA-07: Curt Weldon

--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick

--PA-10: Don Sherwood

--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee

--TN-Sen: Bob Corker

--VA-Sen: George Allen

--VA-10: Frank Wolf

--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick

--WA-08: Dave Reichert

To help out, link to this post, and put the same list in your own blog.

Blogger-powered politics.

Monday, October 23, 2006

That's why

Frequent commenter TA gives me hard time here for daring to dream that a Democratic takeover in Congress will make a difference. It is even worse than that: He accuses me of exactly what I pin on the wingnuts: basing my approach on faith.


Is the sun going to come up in the morning? How do you know?

Here is what Nancy Pelosi says is the plan for her first 100 hours as Speaker:
Day One: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."

Day Two: Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Time remaining until 100 hours: Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.

Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds _ "I hope with a veto-proof majority," she added in an Associated Press interview Thursday.

All the days after that: "Pay as you go," meaning no increasing the deficit, whether the issue is middle class tax relief, health care or some other priority.

To do that, she said, Bush-era tax cuts would have to be rolled back for those above "a certain level." She mentioned annual incomes of $250,000 or $300,000 a year and higher, and said tax rates for those individuals might revert to those of the Clinton era. Details will have to be worked out, she emphasized.

It could be a bucket of bilgewater. Pelosi and the Democrats could walk away from all of it. And if they do, I will freely acknowledge TA's greater cynicism on my way to a secure undisclosed location. But just as we know the sun came up yesterday, and understand that the mechanism that caused it to do so is likely to repeat, we know that Democrats have voted for most or all of those things before, and that most of those things are strongly supported by a majority of Americans. And because the "money talks" system has always favored and will always favor the Republicans, it is in the interest of the Dems to change that system.

Thus there are some solid reasons why I feel cautiously optimistic that the sun will indeed come up on November 8th.

If that be faith, so be it.

Update: Bowers @ MyDD makes me look apocalyptic by comparison. His take on the Democratic surge:
The reason that there is near unanimity among "Democratic insiders" that they have to oppose Bush and the war when, thirteen months ago, Rahm Emmanuel would not even mention Iraq when asked about the Democratic agenda, is because of the Connecticut Senate primary. As much as I would like to credit Adwatch and the Candidate Memo, I think the only reasonable conclusion is that Democratic leaders finally learned this lesson over the summer on the ground in Connecticut. The reason that Democrats are running against the war nationwide is because Ned Lamont and the progressive movement taught them the price they will pay among their own base if they fail to do so. Everyone remembers the things that brought Lieberman down during the primary: failure to oppose the war, and inability to stand up to George Bush. The media constantly called Lamont's campaign a single-issue, anti-war campaign. Everyone remembers the Kiss Float and the commercial where Lieberman's words come out of George Bush's mouth.

Ned Lamont's victory in that primary changed the direction of the Democratic Party in this election, and not just among a few blog fanatics...

It was bloody, and it was exhausting, but Ned Lamont's campaign finally brought the Democratic leadership to where the netroots, and the Democratic rank and file, have been for a long time. The war and Bush are not any less popular in October of 2006, when Democrats have decided to run on Iraq, than they were in October of 2005, when Democrats thought ignoring Iraq was the best option. The difference is that the progressive movement and Democratic base taught the Democratic leadership a much-needed lesson. There is certainly no guarantee they will remember that lesson once the election is over (I give it about an even chance), and there are probably still quite a few Democratic insiders who said "Bush" because, even now, they would rather contract the plague instead of talk about Iraq. But the reason they have finally come to where the Democratic base, and the rest of the country, is on both Bush and Iraq is because of Connecticut. If Democrats win in 2006, it will be our accomplishment, and it will be Ned's accomplishment.

I think Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Keith Olbermann will deserve a nod, too. But I'll wait two weeks to hand out the palmares.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Say Anything

It was the title of a better-than-average 1989 adolescent movie. It is also the modus operandi of dramatically worse-than-average adolescent president. Via Think Progress:
During an interview today on ABC’s This Week, President Bush tried to distance himself from what has been his core strategy in Iraq for the last three years. George Stephanopoulos asked about James Baker’s plan to develop a strategy for Iraq that is “between ’stay the course’ and ‘cut and run.’”

Bush responded, ‘We’ve never been stay the course, George!’

ThinkProgress lists five direct Bush quotes to the contrary. I think you could find fifty if you wanted to. I talked at length about the phenomenon here.

Jon Stewart will play t-ball with this set-up. Olbermann will surely call him on it. But will anyone else point out this whopper?

Update: This clip from YouTube is devastating.

Updater: Yup, Olbermann opened the show with a similar clip, and a bit of wry snark, pointing out that the Administration had apparently forgotten that Ampex invented videotape back in the 1950s.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Perfect Storm?

I've been trying really hard not to count my chickens -- memories of 2004 are still painful. But the signs just keep on coming.

First, there is this from a Newsweek article titled "Are the Faithful Losing Faith?":
If the elections for Congress were held today, according to the new NEWSWEEK poll, 60 percent of white Evangelicals would support the Republican candidate in their district, compared to just 31 percent who would back the Democrat. To the uninitiated, that may sound like heartening news for Republicans in the autumn of their discontent. But if you’re a pundit, a pol, or a preacher, you know better. White Evangelicals are a cornerstone of the GOP’s base; in 2004, exit polls found Republicans carried white Evangelicals 3 to 1 over Democrats, winning 74 percent of their votes. In turn, Evangelicals carried the GOP to victory. But with a little more than two weeks before the crucial midterms, the Republican base may be cracking.

The fact that six in ten fundies still believe in Tinkerbell is disheartening. But 14 percent attrition should translate into a huge shift at the polls. And I'm guessing that for every Evangelical who is willing to speak the name of the devil (D, Pelosiville), there must be at least one more who won't go that far, but won't quite make it to the polling booth, either.

But even more remarkable is this, from Derbyshire @The Corner on National Review Online:

Look, we're not ever likely to get a govt. that follows a purely conservative line on all issues. We are an influence, that's all, and that's all we can reasonably hope to be. But when faced with a GOP government intent on massively expanding the welfare state, on open borders, and on "nation-building" in remote places, we should acknowledge that we are being no influence at all. We have gone from being an influence for good policies to being an enabler of bad policies.

The only thing we can usefully do then is to assert our existence as a voting bloc in the one way that's available to us: by not voting. That lays down a warning to any future GOP administration that might be tempted to go as badly wrong on important conservative issues as this one has.

This nation survived Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton; it will survive Nancy Pelosi and Charlie Rangel. Ten, fifteen, twenty years from now, when our kids are voters, some GOP administration and Congress might be tempted to violate core conservative principles as egregiously as this one has. But they will hear key voices, the voices of party elders and wise commentators, warning: "Remember the Great Congressional Massacre of '06! Let's not risk that happening again!" And Congress and the admin. will then turn the wheel to the right.

So stay home Nov. 2nd—-Er, for the sake of the children.

Of course, staying home on November 2nd will be a rather hollow gesture, since election day is actually Nov. 7th. I'm not sure if this is like the mailers sent out to Democratic voters urging them to head to the polls the day after the election in 2004, or just another Republican wrong on the facts.

In any event, if the Bush party is losing the fundamentalists and losing the (self-styled) principled conservatives, what's left? Monarchists, neofascists and thieves.

In a few weeks we will find out if that (and a smidge of Diebold) is enough.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Troops imitate Congress, get ticket home

via Needlenose, our men and women in uniform seem to be learning from their elected officials:
Troops' Debt a Growing Security Concern

Thousands of U.S. troops are being barred from overseas duty because they are so deep in debt they are considered security risks, according to an Associated Press review of military records.

The number of troops held back has climbed dramatically in the past few years. And while they appear to represent a very small percentage of all U.S. military personnel, the increase is occurring at a time when the armed forces are stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We are seeing an alarming trend in degrading financial health," said Navy Capt. Mark D. Patton, commanding officer at San Diego's Naval Base Point Loma.

The Pentagon contends financial problems can distract personnel from their duties or make them vulnerable to bribery and treason. As a result, those who fall heavily into debt can be stripped of the security clearances they need to go overseas.

While the number of revoked clearances has surged since the beginning of the Iraq war, military officials say there is no evidence that service members are deliberately running up debts to stay out of harm's way.

I'm of two minds on this one. Given the fact that our military is so desperate for warm bodies that it cheerfully accepts skinheads, gang members, high school dropouts, etc., maybe they are right. Maybe it is simply a logical consequence of our tragically stupid policies. This recent story about military families depending on handouts to make ends meet is terrbly sad, but consistent with the other.

OTOH, think of the lengths people went to avoid service in the Vietnam era. Self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Fleeing to Canada. Pilondial cysts. Other priorities. And now all you have to do is max out your credit cards?

Even your average high school dropout won't have much trouble figuring that one out.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ah, memories....

For much longer than I care to admit, I lived in Orange County, CA, or, as all eleven liberals living there put it, behind the Orange Curtain.

So I was not surprised in the slightest by this:
A Republican congressional candidate said in an interview Thursday he was not personally involved in sending a letter threatening Hispanic immigrant voters in California, a mailing that prompted a state investigation.

"I did not do this. I did not approve of any letter," Tan D. Nguyen, the Republican challenger to Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, told The Associated Press.

The investigation is focused on Nguyen's campaign, according to two law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Nguyen, who has made halting illegal immigration a main plank of his platform, said he believed an employee in his office might have used his campaign's voter data base to send the letter without his knowledge. He said that employee has been "discharged."

The letter, written in Spanish and mailed last week to an estimated 14,000 Democratic voters in central Orange County, tells recipients: "You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time."

It is a federal and state crime to threaten or intimidate voters.

For those of you not familiar with the special brand of wingnuttery practiced there, the guy who held this very seat when I lived there was the immortal B-1 Bob Dornan. You can read about him here.

I lived one district away from Dornan's neighborhood. My congressman was Dana Rohrbacher, posing here with his Taliban friends:

Those were the days.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Lobotomy, Republican style

The right brain is outraged over the political use of homosexuality and sex -- seriously.

The other right brain is busy insinuating that the Democratic candidate for governor in Ohio is gay.

Oh, and Captain Renault is shocked, shocked.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Never wrestle with a pig, part XII

On this dark day -- the day our "New Enabling Act" became law -- I went back and read the column. I also Googled it, and found that it has been posted all over the Web. In most cases, alas, it seems to get as little discussion as it did at Raw Story. But at a place called "Conservative Underground," it attracted exactly the kind of intelligent, witty repartee one expects from such a site. To wit:
RawStory? You're kidding right?
And at the end of the day...what you think is "intelligent debate" nothing more tha another steaming pile of Bu$h = Hitler moonbattery.

This isn't the echo chamber you're used to posting this crap in.

If you're gonna have people take your debates better step your game up and post something intelligent.
It's nothing more than another steaming pile of "Bush = Hitler" bullshit.

No intellectual or other kind of value to it at all beyond that.
It's bullshit.

Piss off.
Is this supposed to make sense or mean anything?
Thanks, but I prefer things I read to make sense.

If you provide a snipet that is interesting and I want to read more, I will click on the link. That's the point of providing a snippet, to capture the readers attention. Once I saw the source I knew there was no point in clicking on the link.
Bush=hitler-liberal meme-lame as fuck and a lie. You may as well have used kitty kelly as a source.Just as credible. Second mistake.

And lest you be tempted to conclude that these dismissive, "la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you" comments are not representative of the approach of more (seemingly) cogent conservatives, there's this:
This story was written with the intention of targeting the "ignorant masses" who have little real knowledge of history or how it's played out. I, however, do and I can tell you that this "FISA Act = Enabling Act" comparison is an utter load of bullshit.

First off, the Enabling Act allowed Hitler to utterly ignore the Reichstag in creating and passing laws. The FISA Act only confirms the already known fact that President Bush's warrantless wiretapping is completely legal. Congress has not, through this Act, allowed Bush to usurp their authority in any way. Strike one.

Second, the Enabling Act was created in wake of the Reichstag Fire and was created to help Hitler "combat the Communist invaders," a fictionalized enemy that Hitler played up anytime somebody doubted his authority. The FISA Act is meant to help stop terrorists both on our soil and well as abroad, a threat that is very real, as 9/11 should have already demonstrated. Strike two.

And third, the Enabling Act was meant by Hitler to allow himself to remove all opposition from the Reichstag, leaving the Nazi Party the only party in any position of power. Unless the Democrats are making a habit of calling up Bin Ladin on a regular basis, there's no way Bush could use the FISA Act to directly attack them or their leadership. Strike three.

That's three strikes and you're out, shithead. Go peddle your little trinkets somewhere else, where the people are more gullible. And if you're gonna argue, don't use somebody else's words in place of your own.

Monday, October 16, 2006

None so blind has a brief excerpt from David Kuo's book. Kuo is obviously earnest and somewhat disillusioned. But the Time excerpt includes this passage:
Now I am finding the courage to speak out about God and politics and their dangerous dance. George W. Bush, the man, is a person of profound faith and deep compassion for those who suffer. But President George W. Bush is a politician and is ultimately no different from any other politician, content to use religion for electoral gain more than for good works. Millions of Evangelicals may share Bush's faith, but they would protect themselves—and their interests—better if they looked at him through the same coldly political lens with which he views them.

Thus Kuo reveals himself to still be illusioned in some significant ways. How, exactly, does he know that Dubya is "a person of profound faith"? What evidence can he martial in support of that conclusion? The thesis of his book appears to be that Dubya, like his administration, is coldly cynical and a bald-faced liar -- and not in service of his faith, but in service of his own earthly power.

So how could he know if Bush's piety is genuine? Does he think he knows what is in another man's heart? How has that worked out so far for Dubya? Not so well. At the very least, Kuo is still horribly naive. He continues to manifest the very flaw that has allowed this Administration to fleece its flock -- an eagerness to believe the cynical pieties of of charlatans. If Kuo can still believe, after witnessing such manipulation and betrayal, that the perp is deeply religious, he will be fleeced again-- and, frankly, deserves it.

(On the other hand, I suppose it is possible that Kuo doesn't really mean the sentence I am pointing to. Perhpas it is a sop thrown to his evangelical pals to try to soften and make his core message more palatable. But what would that say about him?)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Wanker of the day month

From the Hartford Courant:
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, a lifelong Democrat and student of politics, blanked when asked if America would be better off with his party regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

A Democratic victory would immeasurably boost the influence of two Connecticut friends, U.S. Reps. Rosa L. DeLauro and John B. Larson, and provide a counterbalance to the Republican Senate and White House.

"Uh, I haven't thought about that enough to give an answer," Lieberman said, as though Democrats' strong prospects for recapturing the House hadn't been the fall's top political story.

He was similarly elusive about the race for governor. Is he voting for John DeStefano Jr., a Democrat and mayor of the city where Lieberman has lived since the 1960s?

"I'm, uh, I'm having," he stammered, then laughed and said his decision would remain private.

This in a very blue state.

The nightmare scenario: Lieberman beats Lamont. Dems (less Joemental) capture 49 seats. Joe makes it offical and causcuses with the Republicans.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Nutshell moment #435 has a story up about a new investigation of possible page problems for another once-closeted Republican -- Congressman Jim Kolbe. Seems he invited two 17-year olds who just graduated from the page program on a camping trip ten years ago.

NBC interviewed the two former pages.
One of them said that Kolbe was a gentleman and never acted in an improper fashion. He recalled that the pair spent time in Kolbe's house at one point — and briefly were alone with him on the trip — and that Kolbe always acted professionally and decently.

The other would not comment on Kolbe's behavior during the trip or characterize it in any way.

"I don't want to get into the details," he said. "I just don't want to get into this... because I might possibly be considered for a job in the administration."

Does that response strike anyone else as rather sad? Perhaps I am reading too much into it, but to me it seems like this guy is saying, "Sure, this Republican used his position of power to fondle teenage boys. But if I confirm the story, they won't let me into the club!"

Do kids who were molested by priests tend to join the clergy?

And I think this something very different from kids terrified of testifying against parents or other abusers with ongoing power over their lives. This guy is now in his late twenties according to the article. He doesn't seem to be in any real danger here. What he wants to protect is his ability to ascend the very ladder that enabled Kolbe in the first place. It is probably going too far to assume that he seeks the right to do unto others as was done unto him. But even if he is motivated by ordinary Republican avarice, the fact that he still sees that power structure as attractive says something chilling about him, and about the culture around him.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The General offers a movie poster for the ages

The Investigators is sure to be a blockbuster.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Olbermann had a segment tonight on the forthcoming blockbuster book from David Kuo, "Tempting Faith -- An Inside Story of Political Seduction." Kuo worked in the White House as deputy director in Bush's highly touted Office of Faith-Based initiatives from 2001 through 2003. There is little advance information about the book online. But based on Keith's story, Kuo's kiss and tell sounds devastating, exposing the cynicism and hypocrisy underlying the relationship between the Republicans and the religious right.

Yes, of course -- the rubes won't read it. But (a) some of the shepherds will, and (b) perhaps a few of them will watch "60 Minutes" -- the corporate site does not yet list next week's stories, but the American Bookseller's Association website says "Tempting Faith" is on the roster. I expect this book to put pressure on even those televangelists and other hucksters who have financial incentives to ignore such personal affronts. This book is going to create yet another rift between the the Republicans and their enablers.

So even if the White House succeeds in pushing Foley off the front page (so to speak -- is it even possible to talk about this story with out double entrendre?), next week promises to be another bad week for the Republican coalition of the willing.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Strange bedfellows

I starting working on a column a few days ago about the fallout from the Foley story. I may still finish it, but I have to say that a couple of columns I read today cover much of what I wanted to say, so I may not bother. Eugene Robinson has a good piece in the Washington Post today. And Stirling Newberry has a very long but important analysis at the TPM Cafe.

The bottom line is that this story has the potential to shatter the fundamentalist/Republican alliance in a way that Iraq, Abramoff and Katrina could not. And I think the Democrats are almost completely immune to the damge it will cause.

Monday, October 09, 2006

By the numbers, continued

NY Times/CBS poll via AMERICAblog:

Mr. Bush’s job approval has slipped to 34 percent, one of the lowest levels of his presidency, posing a complication for the White House as it seeks to send him out on the road to rally base voters. Mr. Bush’s job approval rating has even slipped with his base: 75 percent of conservative Republicans approve of the way he has handled his job, compared with 96 percent in November 2004.

Mr. Bush clearly faces constraints as he seeks to address the public concerns about Iraq that have shrouded this midterm election: 83 percent of respondents thought that Mr. Bush was either hiding something or mostly lying when he discussed how the war in Iraq was going.


Digby, looking past the coming election, sees the future, and it ain't pretty:
...if Democrats ever gain control of the political system, guys like Matthews and Fineman will be out there tut-tutting and nit-picking, falling back on same the fetid, moldy slogans about Democratic "taxing and spending." And I'm sure they'll call them immoral even as they try to put the fiscal house back in order after the GOP criminal gang came through and destroyed the place. These deficits will not disappear like magic --- and the punditocrisy will help the Republicans fight the necessary hard decisions every step of the way.

If the pundits can't even get this one right, after all we've seen, then they are truly hopeless. Their knee-jerk criticism of Democrats under all circumstances is a major impediment to decent, competent governance and our democracy is in danger because of it. The Republicans would never have been able to get away with what they've done without the so-called liberal media regurgitating GOP platitudes and calling it analysis for the last six years. It's only been in the face of such jarring cognitive dissonance as we've seen with Iraq and Katrina that that they've adjusted their robo-rhetoric at all.

If Democrats win in November, look for an immediate return to the standard critique of Democrats and an almost instant nostalgia for the "non-partisan" days of total GOP rule. They haven't questioned their assumptions in decades and they aren't going to start now.
The conclusion that Bush and his cabal were wrong about everything they touched is finally being acknowledged. The equally obvious conclusion that the Punditariat was every bit as wrong remains off limits.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Separated at girth?


Last week Dubya used one his patented signing statements to undo a relatively small thing -- an insistence from Congress that competence have at least a small role in the selection of future heads of FEMA. You could interpret this as pure defiance, of course -- stubborn resisance to any and all attempts to reign in absolute discretion.

But you could also see it as an equally stubborn insistence on their hostility to competence in all its forms. That hypothesis is supported by this story:

Gitmo win likely cost Navy lawyer his career
Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift -- the Navy lawyer who beat the president of the United States in a pivotal Supreme Court battle over trying alleged terrorists -- figures he'll probably have to find a new job.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift first represented Hamdan two years ago in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Of course, it's always risky to compare your boss to King George III.

Swift made the analogy to the court, saying President Bush had overstepped his authority when he bypassed Congress and set up illegal military tribunals to try Guantanamo detainees such as Swift's alleged al-Qaida client, Salim Ahmed Hamdan.

The justices agreed, ruling 5-3 Thursday in favor of dismantling the current tribunal system.

Despite his spectacular success, with the assistance of attorneys from the Seattle firm Perkins Coie, Swift thinks his military career is coming to an end. The 44-year-old Judge Advocate General officer, who was recently named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the country by The National Law Journal, was passed over for promotion last year as the high-profile case was making headlines around the world.

"I may be one of the most influential lawyers in America," the Seattle University Law School graduate said, "but I won't be in the military much longer. That irony did strike me."

Swift's future in the Navy now rests with another promotion board that is expected to render its decision in the next couple of weeks. Under the military's system, officers need to be promoted at regularly scheduled intervals or their service careers are essentially over.

"The way it works, the die was cast some months ago," he said. "The decision has been made. I don't know what it is yet." But he thinks his chances are slim.

Asked if he believes he was passed over for promotion last year for political reasons, Swift would not speculate.

He said what he is supposed to say. But it ain't speculation in my book.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

What she said

Shakespeare's Sister said this six months ago. I missed it then. It is still worth reading now.
At each turn, we were met with accusations that our blind hatred of Bush drove our criticisms, but what the accusers failed to realize—and fail to realize still—is that our hatred was never blind.

You’re goddamned right if you think I found George Bush an insignificant slip of a man who was unprepared for and undeserving of the presidency, whose history as a drunken dullard, constructed aw-shucks shtick, and careful positioning as the ordained man who would marry religious extremists with neocon corporatists made me want to puke from the moment I laid eyes upon his sneering visage. You’re categorically correct if you think that his leadership shames me, that every heh heh which has emanated from his condescending mouth has made my skin crawl, that I am utterly unable to find the merest shadow of anything to like about him, that I fervently long for the day he takes his leave from governance and retreats to Crawford for good, where I won’t give the tiniest, microscopic shit about him whether he is lost in a tragic brush-clearing accident and his body devoured by wild dogs before the search party arrives, or whether he lives out the remainder of his useless life in good health and happiness—either way, I don’t care, as long as I never have to think about him for the rest of my days. You’re right as rain if you think I hated him from the get-go, but maybe it’s time to consider that my hatred left my eyes wide open, and it was his most ardent supporters who were blind.

Blindly allegiant. Blind defenders. Deliberately, selectively blind.

The MSM is nowhere near ready to accept this kind of thinking, because it implicates them as co-conspirators. But Shakey's anger, like mine, is not blind. Blindness is what we are so damned angry about.

Down-bound train

NEWSWEEK Poll: GOP in Meltdown
Meanwhile, the president’s approval rating has fallen to a new all-time low for the Newsweek poll: 33 percent, down from an already anemic 36 percent in August.

Friday, October 06, 2006

2,000 words

Fashion plate Condi Rice sports the latest in stylish protection from thrown flowers as she lands at the Baghdad Airport yesterday:

While Senate Majority Leader Frist goes for the full "greet me as a liberator" look in one or the other of the lands pacified by American might (the Senator's web site being too smart to tell us which one):

I know what the "in" crowd will be wearing to that $20M victory party!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

What a difference a year makes

Emptywheel @ Next Hurrah has an update on Plamegate.

Remember Plamegate?

It was exactly a year ago that we are all holding our breath, waiting for Fitz to save the Republic. Think back and remember what the world looked like then. Katrina was still a fresh wound, of course, and Iraq was awful. But we were all talking about Fitzmas. We thought that was our only hope of stopping the Republican juggernaut.

Think about what has happened since then.

Fitz's case seem to be dead but for the Scooter prosecution. (It could still be revived, but that doesn't seem quite so vital as it did.)

Tom DeLay is gone.

Bob Ney is gone.

Abramoff is gone.

Ralph Reed is gone.

Duke Cunningham is gone.

Dennis Hastert is dead man walking.

And barring wholesale Diebolding, it is looking like both houses of Congress may well turn over.

Who would have thought that there would so many other alligators dismembering the culture of corruption that Plamegate would have dropped off the radar?

Damned by faint praise

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Looks like somebody took the warning seriously

The White House is in full panic mode trying to find a way to spin the now-admitted fact that George Tenet did indeed brief Condi Rice on July 10, 2001 about the terror threat. The latest damage control approach has been to claim that the report was "nothing new".

So how come when then-Attorney General John Ashcroft heard the same warning a week later, he immediately stopped flying commercial aircraft?

Christy Hardin Smith at FDL runs down a bunch of the story of the July 10, 2001 terror briefing Condi somehow failed to remember. She also touches on the fact that George Tenet gave the same warning to John Ashcroft exactly a week later.

It seems to me that we ought to be asking whether that story has anything to do with this one, dated July 26, 2001:

Fishing rod in hand, Attorney General John Ashcroft left on a weekend trip to Missouri Thursday afternoon aboard a chartered government jet, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart.

In response to inquiries from CBS News over why Ashcroft was traveling exclusively by leased jet aircraft instead of commercial airlines, the Justice Department cited what it called a "threat assessment" by the FBI, and said Ashcroft has been advised to travel only by private jet for the remainder of his term.

"There was a threat assessment and there are guidelines. He is acting under the guidelines," an FBI spokesman said. Neither the FBI nor the Justice Department, however, would identify what the threat was, when it was detected or who made it.

Got that? July 17 -- Ashcroft briefed. July 28 -- Ashcroft flies in a charter, leased, according to the article, earlier that week.

Seems to me this could be another blockbuster. If Ashcroft decided that commercial flights were too dangerous based on the same warning as Rice (who presumably wasn't flying commercial flights either) ignored, we have ourselves some rather dramatic evidence of callous indifference and willingness on the part of the Bush Administration to put the preservation of their own hides before their duty. It will be tough for Rice to argue that the briefing was nothing new if it scared Ashcroft away from flying with commercial airlines.

Right on schedule

Your humble scribe, Saturday:
On the other hand, the Republican response should come as no surprise: the problem was that Foley was gay. Of course he preyed upon underage boys -- that's what "they" do, doncha know.

As Think Progress reports, Conservatives Respond To Foley Scandal With Anti-Gay Smears.

The William Jefferson corruption story, which the Republicans now bring up with great frequency, should actually be used by Democrats as an object lesson. When evidence of Jefferson's wrong doing came to light, the Dems quickly stripped him of his Ways and Means Committee seat and essentially declared him toxic persona non grata.

Claiming that one party is pure and 100% above reproach is folly. But what the party does after finding malfeasance -- now there is a distinction that can mean something. The Republicans embody the worst of Dubya's character defects -- a total inability to admit error, and a preference for loyalty above all else. Rummy and Rice and Foley and Hastert are the result.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Uh huh

Kissinger: "Victory is the only meaningful exit strategy"

Frist: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday that the Afghan guerrilla war can never be won militarily and called for efforts to bring the Taliban and their supporters into the Afghan government.

Have you ever kicked open an ant colony and watched the intense, random activity that followed?

How the other half thinks

Somebody posted "The New Enabling Act" to a Netscape chat board, where it generated a lot more commentary than it did at Raw or dKos. Some of it reminds me why I no longer spend much time reading parallel universe stuff. For instance:

If some crazed "I die for Allah" Suicide bomber, that thinks he is gonna get 72 virgins after he blows his butt and yours up, happens throught you neighborhood sometime down the road and threatens your family I wonder what you folks will say then?
You people really are starting to scare me, who believe in this kinda of crap. Really sounds like the ACLU has been very busy getting you guys out of your cages and off your med's.
when we left (Abu Ghraib), you could hear the prisoners screaming and crying for us to stay and protect them.

For those that think that (the then-proposed law) is leading us down the path to becoming a Fascist state, please read it and point out specifically what sections are subverting our Constitution or endanger our society. All people do is suppose that this legalizes torture which it does not. If you don't want to read the whole thing then start on page 80 of the pdf version.

As to the habeus corpus provision, it only applies to "any alien detained by the United States as an unlawful enemy combatant." See Page 77 of the pdf version.

Please evaluate this bill for what it actually says rather than what someone else tells you it says. This is not the horrible thing that so many claim it is.


If Clinton had AT LEAST required secure cockpit doors and warned all airlines of this type of threat, i.e. terrorist trained as pilots, 9/11 would NEVER have happened, PERIOD.

I...believe we are in a special time and may need special tools. We are closer to anarchy than fascism. In what time I have left, I will be very surprised if any President in the future will be able to avoid the deep criticism which ours has received.

There are other comments indicating that some folks there get it, but precious little indication that facts or the light of reason are changing anybody's mind.

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