As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, August 05, 2005

Novakula Strikes Again

I almost pissed myself watching this. Yesterday on Inside Politics, Bob Novak lost his shit and stormed off the set, cursing like a drunken sailor. Here's the transcript:

HENRY: And the "Strategy Session" continues on INSIDE POLITICS. Still here: James Carville and Robert Novak.

Katherine Harris made a name for her self during the Florida recount in the 2000 presidential race. She was then Florida's secretary of state. She went on to the House of Representatives.

Now she wants to move over to the United States Senate. Today she got the news that the speaker of the Florida House won't challenge her for the Republican nomination. In the meantime, Harris is blaming unnamed newspapers for tarnishing her image by doctoring her makeup with Photoshop. -- that computer program. Bob Novak, have you been investigating this make-up story?

NOVAK: No, but I've had the same experience that she did. A lot of my trouble in the world is that they've doctored my make-up and colorized me in a lot of newspapers on my picture. So, I sympathize with her.

HENRY: This is breaking news. I've haven't heard this.

CARVILLE: Breaking news. Who did it? What paper?

NOVAK: Well, I don't. I can't tell you.

CARVILLE: Yes. You know the two happiest people in America today about this decision, is Bill Nelson and Jay Leno. I mean --

HENRY: Bill Nelson the Democratic Senator.

CARVILLE: The Democratic Senator and Jay Leno. That -- I mean, they're going to go nuts over this. They're messing with my make-up, but you really don't know who it is. I mean, let's say this: She's going to be good for the humor circuit. She's going to be good for the speech circuit and she's good for a lot. And I think that Nelson -- I think, it's probably no secret that the White House wanted the speaker to run and I suspect that the Nelson people are, you know, feeling pretty good here today.

NOVAK: A couple of points here: The first place, don't be too sure she's going to lose. All the establishment's against her and I've seen these Republican -- anti-establishment candidates who do pretty well. Ronald Reagan, I guarantee you that the establishment wasn't for him. We just elected a senator from Oklahoma, Senator Tom Coburn, everybody in the establishment was against him. She might get elected -- So, wait. Just let me finish what I'm going to say, James. Please, I know you hate to hear me, but you have...

CARVILLE: He's got to show these right wingers that he's got backbone. Show them you're tough.

NOVAK: Well, I think that's bullshit. And I hate that. Just let it go.

(Novak leaves set.)

Many have pointed out that Carville wasn't really saying anything that inflammatory, at least not on the surface. Of course, in today's Republican Party, questioning someone's manhood (he's got to show that he's a tough guy) is inflammatory. Atrios raised the possibility that Carville was speaking in code. (as in, you have to show right-wingers you've got backbone by... not selling Karl Rove down the river.) Others have speculated that Novak was running away from a copy of "Who's Who in America" that Ed Henry had on the table (Novak famously said that naming Valerie Plame was not wrong because anyone could look up who Joe Wilson's wife was in that book); obviously Henry was going to ask him about the CIA leak case, and Novak doesn't want to hear any of it.

But maybe Novak was under orders from the CNN bosses. Desperate for ratings in the absence of missing white girls or celebrity trials, perhaps they just wanted to create some pizzazz by throwing a couple s-bombs around. If that's the case, some thanks he's getting!

NEW YORK (AP) — CNN suspended commentator Robert Novak indefinitely after he swore and walked off the set Thursday during a debate with Democratic operative James Carville.

Once CNN gets rid of all of their political reporters, they may be able to get down to the business of reporting the news.


The George W. Bush Vacation Act of 2005

Sign the petition because you know in your heart that you'd love five weeks off a year. I have a feeling this would poll extremely well. Even in red states.


Thursday, August 04, 2005

Out of the Loop on GSAVE

I hadn't gotten around to the end of the War on Terror, or at least the end of the brand "War on Terror," that the White House appeared to push last week. Which is funny, because apparently they're now backtracking on the backtrack. Originally, the idea was to change the name from "global war on terror" (GWOT) to "global struggle against violent extremism" (GSAVE!), mainly because, in the words of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers, "because if you call it a war, then you think of people in uniform as being the solution."

Well, apparently the President thinks people in uniform ARE the solution.

I also want to talk to you about national security. Make no mistake about it, we are at war. We're at war with an enemy that attacked us on September the 11th, 2001. We're at war against an enemy that, since that day, has continued to kill. They have killed in Madrid and Istanbul and Jakarta and Casablanca and Riyadh and Bali and London and elsewhere....

...Make no mistake about it, this is a war against people who profess an ideology, and they use terror as a means to achieve their objectives....

...To win this war on terror, we will use all elements of national power. We will use our military...

...See, it's a different kind of war. In the old days you'd have armies that were funded by states. You knew where they were, you could trace them. This war is against killers who hide, and then they show up and kill innocent life, and then they retreat. And so you've got to have good intelligence in order to defeat them...

Wow, somebody didn't get the memo.

I thought the rebranding into a struggle from a war represented a real admission of error, which this President is just highly unlikely to do. It hewed closer to John Kerry's way of looking at how to defeat this threat. That's why it seemed completely odd to me that they'd change it. And now we know that they haven't. Or at least Bush hasn't; he can still go out and talk to the masses in his base and say "war on terra" and get the crowds amped up with fear.

But I think Bush actually put this whole thing best himself, before last year's RNC:

Lauer: “You said to me a second ago, one of the things you'll lay out in your vision for the next four years is how to go about winning the war on terror. That phrase strikes me a little bit. Do you really think we can win this war on terror in the next four years?”

President Bush: “I have never said we can win it in four years.”

Lauer: “So I’m just saying can we win it? Do you see that?”

President Bush: “I don't think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world –- let's put it that way.

No, I don't think you can win it either, dude.

P.S. George Lakoff maybe hits the nail on why it's a war, again:

What is most important is what is not being said. The Bush administration is implicitly, through the use of language, admitting that war won't stop terrorism and that the war in Iraq had no justification. Important questions arise and must be asked: If this is not a "war," does the president still have the war powers given him by Congress? If there is no "war" anymore, how can there be "enemy combatants" in Guantanamo, whose imprisonment without due process is being justified by "war." If there is no "war," will we still need to call up the reserves and the National Guard? And is the new framing retroactive? Was there ever a "war" on terror? Was it just mistake to think so?


So let's teach communism in schools, then

Before leaving for yet another vacation (and I hear he's taking a break during to vacation to visit his "vacation vacation" ranch), The President said in an interview with several newspapers that he believed Intelligent Design should be taught in the classroom, side-by-side with evolution.

Recalling his days as Texas governor, Mr. Bush said in the interview, according to a transcript, "I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught." Asked again by a reporter whether he believed that both sides in the debate between evolution and intelligent design should be taught in the schools, Mr. Bush replied that he did, "so people can understand what the debate is about."

Mr. Bush was pressed as to whether he accepted the view that intelligent design was an alternative to evolution, but he did not directly answer. "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought," he said, adding that "you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes."

In other words, in a perfectly free marketplace of ideas, all theories and concepts deserve equal weight.


So I suggest we start teaching communism in economics and social studies classes, in junior high school and high school, as a viable economic theory, so people can understand what the debate is about. I mean, a few people out there believe that a full distribution of wealth and collectivist central authority leads to more societal harmony, and a communitarian interdependence, not to mention the elimination of poverty. It's a nice little theory. Hasn't worked in practice for the most part in human history, mind you, but on paper it looks just dandy. So we should teach it to all American children. Children should be exposed to different ideas, and they can sort it out for themselves.

While we're on the subject: chemistry classes absolutely should teach kids about the medicinal value of marijuana. Many prominent scientists believe mmarijuana use is effective at treating a variety of diseases and ailments. Other doctors disagree. It should be brought into the classroom so 9 year-olds can be exposed to the debate and make up their own minds. Because there's nobody better at analyzing and discerning both sides of a debate than 9 year-old kids.

P.S. This guy at Outside the Beltway is on the same wavelength.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Know Your Enemy

Mithras has the rundown of conservative blogs. I can't get myself to stomach Malkin, but I've been to the other ones on more than a few occasions. Mithras is on the money.

The fact that most of these 10 don't offer comments is telling about the "I'm right, you're wrong" nature of the right blogosphere.


Reaching Exurbia

Yesterday's outcome in the OH-2 district brought a disturbing fact into even sharper relief. Republicans are becoming dominant in exurban areas, newer suburbs full of younger suburbanites. Hackett won the rural areas of his district by a surprising margin, proving that straight talk and sensible economic policies can reach those sought-after voters. It was in the exurbs of Warren and Clermont counties where Schmidt made her victory, and in my opinion it was a victory made purely on ideological grounds.

David Brooks is, well, a jackass, but when he's not speaking of Bobo's world, he's largely talking about this exurban landscape. And Democrats need to craft a message that'll work here, because it's expanding. Here's some facts from an NYT article Brooks wrote just after the election:

Ninety percent of the office space built in America in the 1990s was built in suburbia, usually in low office parks along the interstates. Now you have a tribe of people who not only don't work in cities, they don't commute to cities or go to the movies in cities or have any contact with urban life. You have these huge, sprawling communities with no center. Mesa, Arizona, for example, has more people than St. Louis or Minneapolis.

The conclusions Brooks draws from the rest of the piece aren't entirely valid, but it is very true that reaching the exurbs needs to be part of a long-term project in restoring the Democratic Party.

Now, not all exurbs are created equal. The ones in the Inland Empire of California, for example, are more middle class families that have no hope of buying affordable homes close to LA, so this is the best they can do. Other exurbs are far wealthier. My family moved from a suburb to an exurb when I was 15, in Bucks County, PA. I saw hundreds of miles of farmland turned into subdivisions in the space of a few short years. Big-box stores and giant malls turned up everywhere. Foot traffic was not even possible; I don't remember more than a few sidewalks in the entire area.

Our problems in these areas are manifold. This is largely an aspirational class in exurbia. You won't reach them with traditional populist themes because they consider themselves as part of the wealthier classes, or at least on the road to being so. Tax cuts and pro-business policies mean something to them because they think it will benefit them in the long run (even if it won't).

There's another factor at work. Ruy Teixeira tells us that 29% of the US population lives in exurbs. Chris Bowers sharply notes that the GOP Noise Machine is expanding the definition of what an exurb is, making exurbian expansion and continued Republican dominance a self-fulfilling prohecy.

That may be true, but 29% is a hell of a lot of people, and we need to find a way to at least hold our own in these districts. I don't have many answers here, but I think there's a possible economic solution.

We need to frame the Dem/GOP differences as ones between small business and big business. There are plenty of commuters in exurbia, but just as many small business employees and owners, who set up shop in one of the many industrial parks in the area. Stating in sharp relief how Democratic policies could help small business is absolutely crucial. Framing the GOP as the party of big business will help even more. Because there are so many big box stores in exurbs, that means there are plenty of big box employees living there. So while people may have a lot of affinity for Wal-Mart, just as many must see it in a negative light. Infiltrating with unions (the Coalition to Win strategy) as well as a meaningful discussion of how progressive policies improve the lives of workers is a must.

Plus, unions are community-building exercises. In the vaccuum of social networking, the churchs will of course take root. In addition to unions, building Democratic clubs in exurban areas is crucial. There's a "red/blue" summit coming up here in California, where Dems from red and blue areas (including many of these exurbs I'm talking about) will meet to determine electorial strategies. Our voice makes a much bigger difference in San Bernadino County than it would in the middle of Santa Monica.

More than anything, this is an opportunity for discussion. How can we get a foothold in this growing section of America? Thanks.


Tuesday, August 02, 2005


I prematurely blogged exit polling on election night, so I'm typing with much trepidation. But these are raw numbers. And 52-48 with almost 30% of the vote in is amazing in this district:

195 out of 753 precincts. Hackett 52-48 Schimdt. Hackett 14,600--13,549 Schimdt.

You can argue and post and pontificate until you're blue in the face, but until you start to win elections none of that matters. This would be absolutely enormous. The great thing is that this shows how valuable the grassroots is to the Democratic Party. That won't be lost on its current chairman. The DNC was slow to reach Hackett, so the blogs and the grassroots did it themselves. Where others saw a lost cause they saw an opportunity. Regardless of the outcome we've already won tonight, but if we can pull this one out it would be a fantastic bellweather for 2006.

UPDATE: Well, he didn't quite make it. But 48% in such a heavily Republican district is pretty damn good. A great run. And I agree with Jerome Armstrong that Hackett should take his message statewide. It's too much of an uphill battle in his district but he would demolish Bob Taft for Governor. And he would come pretty damn close to blowing out Mike DeWine for the Senate seat.

Hackett proved that Democrats can walk into any district in the country and make it a race. Now it's a matter of turning that into a victory.


Thank You For Being a Friend

Once again, the President proves that as long as you're his friend, everything you say is sweetness and light:

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Rafael Palmeiro is a friend. He's testified in public, and I believe him. He's the kind of person that's going to stand up in front of the klieg lights and say he didn't use steroids, and I believe him. Still do.

He believes the guy that says this:

"When I testified in front of Congress, I know that I was testifying under oath and I told the truth," the Baltimore Orioles' first baseman said during a telephone conference call. "Today I am telling the truth again that I did not do this intentionally or knowingly."

As my good friend Doug said in an email, "And I never intentionally downloaded Internet porn." It just wound up on his hard drive.

It's a little unbelievable how critical thinking for this President goes out the window when you're his friend. Or a campaign contributor. I hope he's not friends with Tom Cruise, or we'll be passing the "Thaton-5 Tax Relief Act" before the end of the year.


No Middle Ground

Josh Marshall has a question:

Can we be sure we're pushing for a sufficiently robust reform agenda so long as a significant portion of the Democratic leadership on the Hill doesn't have to be dragged to it kicking and screaming?

I think you have to lead, follow, or get out of the way. Most of us in the grassroots are keen to push a reform agenda, and that should be nonpartisan. Unlike the Republican notion, which seems to be (from everyone with whom I bring up this issue) that "your side does it too" and that makes the DeLays of the world OK, we cannot allow Democrats to just go along to get along on this. It strikes at the very core of our values. We can't very well demand accountability on the one hand and try to twist yourself into knots defending wayward Congressmen on the other.

This starts with the leadership, and Pelosi may be compromised on this point, if we are to believe press reports. The DNC then must take up the mantle of reform. I believe that independents in the heartland will react strongly to this anti-corruption strategy; we're about to see how much when the Ohio results come rolling in. We cannot allow ourselves, then, to let Democrats get a free pass.

Reform Democrats need to take out the rot that sets into a complacent political structure, be it consultants or lobbyists or Congressional malefactors. The only way to do that is by not rewarding Democrats engaging in corrupt practices with your money or your votes. This sounds a tad idealistic, but as I said, it strikes at the very heart of what we need to stand for.


Just Another Day in Iraq

At least 7 Marines dead today, pushing the total KIA over 1800.

It's depressing that the reporting on troop casualties goes up when there are nice round numbers to report and down at other times. Every death should be a reminder of the insanity of this unnecessary war, and how we're completely incapable of setting it right for the near future. Maybe Iran can fix the whole mess we've gotten ourselves into. Yeah, that'd be fantastic.

Interestingly enough, 6 of the Marines killed in this attack came from Ohio, where another Iraq War veteran is up for election today to the Congress. I hope the residents of Hamilton County see the worthiness of having someone who's been in Baghdad, in combat, having an active role in determining the correct course of action. Then again, we could always listen to the likes of Rush Limbaugh, who calls people who volunteer for service in the shooting gallery that is Iraq "staff pukes." Nice. Way to defame the entire military in two words, dickhead.


Team Player

So in our continuing quest to spread freedom and democracy around the globe, the White House congratulated the new King of Saudi Arabia for ascending to the throne of succession in the wake of the death of King Fahd:

On behalf of the United States, I congratulate my friend, King Abdallah bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, on assuming the Saudi throne and the position of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. We wish Saudi Arabia peace and prosperity under his leadership. I have spoken today to the new King, and the United States looks forward to continuing the close partnership between our two countries.

This despite the fact that it's, well, a monarchy. And despite the monarchy's continued vigor in stifling any dissent or calls for democracy in the Kingdom. Last week two reformers were jailed for 6-9 years for circulating a petition calling for democracy. Yeah, a petition.

And still we cover for the Saudis. We do it for access to cheap oil, although it isn't all that cheap anymore. We do it because we believe strong central governments that silence dissent are good for distributing natural resources. Period.

And after funding international terrorism for decades, despite having 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers come from the Kingdom, we still play these cover story games. We're like a battered wife covering for their violent husband. "Sure, their fully-funded madrassahs preach hate and create a support system for terrorists, but that doesn't mean they're not our ally! Bruises on my face, what bruises on my face? I fell! Saudi Arabia said to say I fell."

What do you do? You don't let the Saudi Royal Family dictate US policy. If you're serious about this democracy thing, nobody gets a free pass.


Sudan: More tragedy

John Garang, rebel leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, worked for decades to fight against the despotic ruling regime, and through military and political prowess moved all the way up to the vice-presidency and a power-sharing agreement.

Then he died in a helicopter crash.

EAST Africa began five days of mourning for Sudan's vice-president, former rebel leader John Garang, as a close ally was chosen to succeed him. Many fear his death in a helicopter crash may jeopardise years of work to build peace.

Mr Garang's former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement quickly named his deputy, Salva Kiir, as new leader and said it expected him to be sworn in as Sudan's first vice-president in two weeks.

Members of the movement and the Government, former enemies promised to maintain the power-sharing peace agreement Mr Garang helped realise.

Mr Garang, a skilful battlefield commander and politician, was sworn in as Sudan's first vice-president on July 9, when more than a million Sudanese thronged the streets.

His death prompted some to rampage through Khartoum yesterday, burning cars and looting shops in some of the worst riots in the capital in years.

Police said at least 24 people were killed.

I don't want to be unnecessarily alarmist here, but there's a huge difference between John Garang and his deputy in terms of speaking out against continuing violence in Darfur, and providing a stable peace in the country with democratic reforms. There hasn't been suggestion of foul play, but from a country that indiscriminantly murders hundreds of thousands of its citizens (and it's the country doing it, the janjaweed get all their support from the government), I find that hard to swallow.


Monday, August 01, 2005

Federal Police Need Mapquest

To figure out how to get to 46th and 1st so they can find John Bolton.

That's going to be a fun day for America, when our UN Ambassador is given a perp walk out of his office in front of the world's diplomats, isn't it?

A guy who literally answered the accusation that he lied to Congress about having been questioned by the CIA by saying "I forgot" now represents the country at the world's governing body.

Incidentally, for any originalist that thinks the Constitution is a perfect document, have them ruminate on the whole idea of a recess appointment. Exactly how does this support the fundamental tenets of the separation of powers, or checks and balances? It's nothing but a loophole, a sneaky way to push your agenda. Maybe that's why this President has used it so much, on judicial appointments and now this. Remember Bush's line about how we cannot set artificial timetables for troop withdrawal in Iraq because the insurgents will just "wait us out"? That's what he's done repeatedly with Congress; he waits the Senate out until they go home for their scheduled recess, and then he does what he wants. All Hail King George!

Speaking of timetables, Bolton now has one, as the recess appointment is not permanent. He only has until the beginning of 2007. Which is not the best way to push for reform, when everyone else at the table knows you're going to be gone in a year or so. World diplomats will only have to listen to his badgering and howling, then wait to be saved by the bell. Hell of a way to get reform done.

Of course, if the UN was truly reformed, Republicans wouldn't be able to bitch about it anymore. I think deep down they'd rather it continue, they'd rather have this straw man they can blast at regular intervals. Installing a lame duck to change things just serves as more evidence for the theory.