Very busy day for me. Enjoy the links to your right for now.
As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."
After the State Senate OK'd a citizen-based redistricting plan, the State Assembly scuttled it, meaning it won't appear on the 2006 ballot. I don't know if this helps or hurts Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I think it's a mistake, as I support rational redistricting reform (not the confusing and prelude-to-a-disaster redistricting measure that was on the ballot last year). I do think that you should have to wait at least 2 years, if not longer, once your ballot measure has been defeated to put it before voters again. A parental notification law is on the ballot again in November, 12 months after its defeat in the special election. This is merely a callow attempt to drive up hard-right turnout for an initiative that's already been beaten multiple times.
It's beyond time to take a hard look at the man who California voters will decide in 12 weeks whether or not he should be allowed to continue to be their governor. This is a guy who's apparently so assured of his re-election that he's planning business trips to India in 2007 as if the governor's race itself is a fait accompli. What's he know about Diebold that we don't know? Kidding. But complacency can be very damaging to an incumbent, and this announcement is that type of move (or a trash-talk maneuver to get an aura of inevitability around him).
It's becoming increasingly clear that one of the major themes of Phil Angelides' campaign for governor will be an attack on the credibility of the incumbent, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. "He's not the man you thought he would be," would be one way to summarize the premise.
It's a line that could work to some degree with just about everyone, depending on what they expected from the novice politician they elected governor in 2003.
With the vote on his reelection just over 12 weeks away, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger faces a wave of conservative unrest that threatens the steady political recovery he has made this year by widening his appeal beyond his base of Republican supporters.
To keep conservatives in line, Schwarzenegger campaign operatives have quietly launched efforts to rally support among Christian fundamentalists, gun owners and other Republicans who have long been wary of the governor and backed him only begrudgingly.
His stands on illegal immigration, the state's swelling debt, gay rights and other matters continue to rankle many of them, and his high-profile courtship of Democrats and independents risks repelling them further as the campaign intensifies.
Schwarzenegger faces no danger of a broad defection of conservatives to his Democratic challenger, state Treasurer Phil Angelides; polls show they overwhelmingly favor the governor.
But their tense alliance with Schwarzenegger, combined with a foul election climate for Republicans nationwide, could spell a low conservative turnout in the Nov. 7 election. And if what is now a wide Schwarzenegger lead over Angelides narrows after Labor Day, as many analysts expect, low conservative turnout will loom as a key peril for the governor and prime source of hope for Democrats.
Meanwhile, to drum up support for Schwarzenegger among evangelicals, the state party has hired Ben Lopez, a lobbyist for the Rev. Lou Sheldon's Traditional Values Coalition, a group that seeks to outlaw abortion and roll back gay rights.
“Americans should understand that their attitudes about homosexuality have been deliberately and deceitfully changed by a masterful propaganda/marketing campaign that rivals that of Adolph Hitler. In fact, many of the strategies used by homosexuals to bring about cultural change in America are taken from Hitler’s writings and propaganda welfare manuals.”
I'm a little late to the party with this, but I wanted to comment on the conservosphere's latest scalp collection, namely the revelation that a Reuters stringer was doctoring photos to make them appear more ominous, including a particularly awful use of the Photoshop clone stamp. I'm about as amateur as they get when it comes to Photoshop and I think I could have done a better job.
If there are points of agreement between the photographers and the wingnuts (including the belief that Hajj's excuse -- that he was simply trying to "eliminate dust" -- was ridiculous), the photogs are as amazed as reticent as to why the act occurred. Of course, the right wingers want to believe that Hajj is a Hezbollah sympathizer and, thus, was somehow darkening the photo to make it more foreboding. If that's true, however, that still doesn't explain why Hajj would execute this particularly awkward and bone-headed retouch. (Well, the experts and checkers at Reuters who approved the pic might object to the "bone headed" reference, since they were none the wiser until the Rathergate crowd caught it, and flipped out.)
Along those lines, the most telling piece of information that came out of the Sportshooter discussion was the theory that perhaps Hajj wanted to be caught.
As a clinician, I have been taught that you follow the data, no matter where it leads, how weird it seems, or how divergent it is from your best (or favorite) hypothesis. I've had a bit of a chance now to look over these shots and check out various other Hajj pics appearing recently in various media. I've also taken a little survey of Hajj's work in the YN thread over the past four weeks. I don't have a good explanation for the "why" either, but I wonder if the "motive" might be as much psychological as political.
Maybe you'll think I'm crazy -- once you hear this -- but it's possible Hajj might have been obsessed with smoke.
Much of the debate about "staging" in Qana can be deflated a good deal by an appreciation of cultural differences. Among many Middle Eastern Muslims the display of the dead is very much a ritual part of dealing with death. Palestinian funeral parades, with or without media present, are a demonstration of this. While the display of the dead may appear callous and disrespectful to many western eyes, it is likely interpreted as a form of honor among those who actually display the dead - an attempt to give meaning to something senseless.
Photographing the display is not necessarily deceiptful, but rather an honest record of the extraordinary ways people react in these terrible circumstances. And a rescueworker displaying a body does not a Media Mogul the rescue worker make. He/She is still a rescue worker. Though the caption for pictures from that portion of the event should read "Rescue workers display the body of..." rather than "Rescue workers remove the body of..."
The Ace of Spades is but one of the many voices on the right that want to have it all ways at all times, and either willfully or just obviously neglect fundamental truths when making their ridiculous assertions. Yesterday he delivered this beaut claiming equivalence between a legal and an illegal program. The post was about the British government's use of wiretaps in the slowly unraveling civil aviation plot, conducted 100% under existing British law:
Note that when bugs are being planted inside the area afforded the greatest amount of privacy protection -- the home -- the "warrant" required is a warrant not from an independent judge, but from a member of Tony Blair's government, his Secretary of State. (A position I confess sounds American, but I imagine the UK Telegraph knows what it's talking about.)
How, exactly, is this different than Bush's Attorney General issuing similar warrants on his own authority? That's provided for in the Patriot Act, or at least was, before liberals went after it. (I confess I don't know if that's still permitted or not.)
Fox News reports a federal district court in Detroit has ruled that the Bush administration’s NSA warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and ordered an immediate halt to it.
A separate federal district court in San Francisco had previously rejected the administration’s argument that the courts could not hear the case due to a “state secrets” privilege. The lawsuits have alleged that NSA program violated the First and Fourth Amendments, as well as a number of federal statutes, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The defendants included AT&T and the federal government.
So this morning session might be all she wrote for me. You never know what kind of downtime you'll have on a new gig, plus you want to be on your best behavior.
Washington lobbying firms, trade associations and corporate offices are moving to hire more well-connected Democrats in response to rising prospects that the opposition party will wrest control of at least one chamber of Congress from Republicans in the November elections.
In what lobbyists are calling a harbinger of possible upheaval on Capitol Hill, many who make a living influencing government have gone from mostly shunning Democrats to aggressively recruiting them as lobbyists over the past six months or so.
"We've seen a noticeable shift," said Beth Solomon, director of the Washington office of Christian & Timbers, an executive search firm that helps to place senior lobbyists and trade association heads.
With the war in Lebanon, and now the war on JonBenet, the Iraq war has amazingly become lost in the shuffle. I really think the Republican Party is counting on Iraq fatigue among the media, the fact that it's not a "new story," to keep it out of the spotlight until November. Of course, more voters list Iraq as their primary issue than any other. So people will seek out these latest developments:
The speaker of Parliament said Monday that he was considering stepping down because of bitter enmity from Kurdish and Shiite political blocs, revealing the first major crack in Iraq’s fragile unity government since it was formed nearly three months ago.
The speaker, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, is the third-ranking official in Iraq and a conservative Sunni Arab. Shiite and Kurdish legislators have banded together to try to push him out, mainly because he is considered too radical.
Since taking office in late May, Mr. Mashhadani has publicly praised the Sunni insurgency, called the Americans “butchers” and denounced the idea of carving up Iraq into autonomous regions, which the Kurds and some Shiites support.
“Maybe now is the best time for me to withdraw,” Mr. Mashhadani said in a telephone interview. “My hand won’t be stained as they want it to be stained.”
Bush administration officials now admit that Iraqi government’s original plan to rein in the violence in Baghdad, announced in June, has failed. The Pentagon has decided to rush more American troops into the capital, and the new military operation to restore security there is expected to begin in earnest next month.
Yet some outside experts who have recently visited the White House said Bush administration officials were beginning to plan for the possibility that Iraq’s democratically elected government might not survive.
“Senior administration officials have acknowledged to me that they are considering alternatives other than democracy,” said one military affairs expert who received an Iraq briefing at the White House last month and agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity.
“Everybody in the administration is being quite circumspect,” the expert said, “but you can sense their own concern that this is drifting away from democracy.”
At the beginning of the year, even after the victory of Tim Kaine in the Virginia governor's race, it was extremely likely that Sen. George Allen would receive little more than token opposition. Harris Miller, a telecommunications lobbyist and friend of former Governor Mark Warner, announced in January, but he had a very specific constituency, and was not likely to have made this race any closer than, say, millionaire Jim Pederson in Arizona right now against Sen. Jon Kyl. I don't expect Miller would have received any national campaign money, and Allen would have surged to victory, freeing him up for those trips to New Hampshire and Iowa of which he is so fond.
In the aftermath of the infamous Bill Bradley incident, I was asked by the Capitol Weekly, an insider paper in Sacramento that covers state politics, to pen a few words about blogging and journalism and the future of media.
I do think that the blogosphere in general can become something of a partisan echo chamber that naturally creates a more standoffish mentality. But I really appreciate Josh Marshall and Kevin Drum and Digby's takes on their evolution because I recognize them. Only I recognize them from the other side. This line from Kevin Drum is significant:
THE (FORMERLY) MUSHBALL MIDDLE....Josh Marshall talks about the change in his writing over the past few years:
"I guess I'm one of those partisanized moderates Kevin Drum has spoken of (not sure that's precisely the phrase he used.) That leads to a certain loss of nuance sometimes in commentary and a loss in the variegation of our politics generally. As a writer, often it's less satisfying. But I cannot see looking back on all this, the threat the country is under, and saying, I stood aloof."
I've tried harder than Josh to retain a moderate tone over the years, but this describes me pretty well too. And just recently I've been thinking about what a genuinely profound story this is, one that the mainstream media ought to be more interested in. Instead of writing incessantly about "angry bloggers," they ought to be asking why so many mild-mannered moderate liberals have become so radicalized during George Bush's tenure. It deserves attention beyond the level of cliches and slogans.
Federal Even-yeared Anti-terror Response (FEAR) Unit is on the ground, in the skies, and at the ports, making sure that wherever there's the faintest hint of terror, they'll ensure that it's hyped, overblown and put on a silver platter for the news media.
Officials denied earlier media reports that the woman had been carrying a screwdriver and a note that made a reference to Al Qaeda. The T.S.A. confirmed this afternoon that the woman was carrying hand cream, which is prohibited under new carry-on rules, and matches.
But, Mr. White said: “There is no nexus to terrorism with this event at this time.”
None of the alleged terrorists had made a bomb. None had bought a plane ticket. Many did not even have passports, which given the efficiency of the UK Passport Agency would mean they couldn't be a plane bomber for quite some time.
In the absence of bombs and airline tickets, and in many cases passports, it could be pretty difficult to convince a jury beyond reasonable doubt that individuals intended to go through with suicide bombings, whatever rash stuff they may have bragged in internet chat rooms.
What is more, many of those arrested had been under surveillance for over a year - like thousands of other British Muslims. And not just Muslims. Like me. Nothing from that surveillance had indicated the need for early arrests.
Then an interrogation in Pakistan revealed the details of this amazing plot to blow up multiple planes - which, rather extraordinarily, had not turned up in a year of surveillance. Of course, the interrogators of the Pakistani dictator have their ways of making people sing like canaries. As I witnessed in Uzbekistan, you can get the most extraordinary information this way. Trouble is it always tends to give the interrogators all they might want, and more, in a desperate effort to stop or avert torture. What it doesn't give is the truth.
The gentleman being "interrogated" had fled the UK after being wanted for questioning over the murder of his uncle some years ago. That might be felt to cast some doubt on his reliability. It might also be felt that factors other than political ones might be at play within these relationships. Much is also being made of large transfers of money outside the formal economy. Not in fact too unusual in the British Muslim community, but if this activity is criminal, there are many possibilities that have nothing to do with terrorism.
This is what should have been done immediately:
A group of Senate Democrats is growing increasingly angry about Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (D-Conn.) campaign tactics since he lost the Democratic primary last week.
If he continues to alienate his colleagues, Lieberman could be stripped of his seniority within the Democratic caucus should he defeat Democrat Ned Lamont in the general election this November, according to some senior Democratic aides.
In recent days, Lieberman has rankled Democrats in the upper chamber by suggesting that those who support bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq by a certain date would bolster terrorists’ planning attacks against the U.S. and its allies. He also sparked resentment by saying last week on NBC’s Today show that the Democratic Party was out of the political mainstream.
Democrats are worried that Lieberman may be giving Republicans a golden opportunity to undermine their message.
“I think there’s a lot of concern,” said a senior Democratic aide who has discussed the subject with colleagues. “I think the first step is if the Lieberman thing turns into a side show and hurts our message and ability to take back the Senate, and the White House and the [National Republican Senatorial Committee] manipulate him, there are going to be a lot of unhappy people in our caucus.”
That's bunk. That's scare-tactic bunk. And it's an unfortunate statement from somebody of Joe's quality, and I regret it....
I'm not going to stand for those scare tactics, that's exactly what the Republicans have been doing for the last years. They avoid a real discussion by throwing out a slogan and they scare people....
It's a disgrace that people are playing to the lowest common denominator of American politics, which is fear.
Here are the four lessons of my business life that I talked about every day on the campaign trail, and that have resonated with Connecticut Democrats:
• First, entrepreneurs are frugal beasts, because the bottom line means everything. In Connecticut, voters are convinced that Washington has utterly lost touch with fiscal reality. We talked about irresponsible budget policies that have driven the annual federal deficit above $300 billion and the debt ceiling to $9 trillion. Meanwhile, the government is spending $250 million a day on an unprovoked war in Iraq while starving needed social investment at home. I am a fiscal conservative and our people want their government to be sparing and sensible with their tax dollars.
• Second, entrepreneurs invest in human resources. Our business strives to pay good wages and provide good health benefits so that we can attract employees that give us an edge in a competitive marketplace. Well-trained and well-cared-for people are essential for every business these days, particularly in a global economy. It's getting harder and harder for American businesses to compete on price, but we innovate and change better than any economy on the planet. The quality of our work force is one of America's competitive advantages--if our education system fails our children and our employers, we'll lose the future.
That's why I talked about my work as a volunteer teacher in the Bridgeport public schools, which can't afford to be open later than 2:30 p.m., schools that send children home to an empty house. That's why my campaign offered a strong alternative to standardized tests and No Child Left Behind. That's why I believe in an employer-based health-care system that covers everyone, and providing tax benefits to small businesses so they can provide insurance without risking bankruptcy.
• Third, in a market-driven economy, entrepreneurs can never lose touch with what customers, suppliers and workers are saying. A great strength of our campaign is that we embraced the grassroots and netroots, suburbs and inner cities, and used the most advanced technology to empower our door-knockers and activists. We listened hard and respectfully to what voters told us, and gave them the confidence to trust someone new.
• Finally, entrepreneurs are pragmatic. Unlike some politicians, we don't draw a false strength from closed minds, and we don't step on the accelerator when the car is headed off the cliff.
By every available metric, the "stay the course" strategy in Iraq is not a winning strategy. Changing course is neither extreme nor weak; it is essential for our national security.
We start with the strongest, best-trained military in the world, and we'll keep it that way. But here's how we'll get stronger by changing course. We must work closely with our allies and treat the rest of the world with respect. We must implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and put in place real protections for ports, airports, nuclear facilities and public transit.
“These writers merely want what other writers in this industry already have: health insurance, a portable pension, residuals, and fair pay. To achieve this, they have taken the brave step that no writer should ever be forced to do: they put their pens down and picked up picket signs. For this determination, guild writers everywhere salute them and support them,” said WGAw President Patric M. Verrone.
The reality organizing campaign began in June 2004 when seven bedraggled story producers just back from the Australian Outback met with WGAw staff and officers to talk about their recent experiences working in the field. Twelve hours was a short day for these storytellers as they worked outside in more than 100+ degree heat. One story producer recounted a 40-hour stretch during which time he was only able to sleep an hour and a half— the other 38½ hours he spent working.
However, if the work I do - and love to do - in Reality TV were covered under a WGA contract, it wouldn't be an issue. I'm not averse to long hours. I fully expect the occasional unrealistic deadline.
And uber-demanding bosses are a given in this industry. Crafting a story is both a skill and an art. And it's unreasonable that we receive no benefits when so many production companies and networks benefit so much from us.
These companies make millions in profit off of a genre of television that isn’t very expensive to produce. Add that to what product integration brings in, and it’s even more. Claims that there's no money to provide storytellers with benefits are absurd. I have a hard time believing that providing a handful of people with health insurance will send a large multi-national corporation into hock.
Sara Sluke and Kai Bowe, who have been picketing outside the production offices of "America's Next Top Model" since walking out more than two weeks ago, say their challenge is to avoid casting doubt on reality TV's legitimacy.
They're not claiming that they create dialogue for contestants and are eager to dispel that assumption, the women said. But they argue the work they do in shaping the series constitutes storytelling and they want to be represented by the WGA, which is eager to do so.
"There seems to be this idea that we feed lines to the girls and that we really do manipulate the actual shooting. That is not true at all," Sluke said.
Instead, the striking staffers _ whose job titles are show producer or associate show producer, and who collectively are known as "the story department" _ are responsible for distilling about 200 hours of raw footage into a cohesive and dramatic episode.
"We look at primary characters, maybe look at who is being eliminated that week, and craft an arc so that their elimination is either something the viewers are sad about or happy about," Bowe said.
Other secondary story lines are decided and, after an outline is drafted, the writers scrutinize the footage and choose "line by line how to best tell the story and craft it to a 41-minute episode with a beginning, middle and end," she said.
That makes them eligible for WGA representation and benefits they now lack, including health insurance, pensions, wage minimums, residuals and credits, Bowe and Sluke said.
So Chuck Roberts personally apologized to Ned Lamont for calling him "the Al Qaeda candidate" last week. His explanation is a teachable moment for the current state of American journalism, however.
Last week, I led into an interview with a guest analyst and really botched the set-up. The guest had wanted to discuss the Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman statements suggesting that terror groups — Al Qaeda type, to use Cheney’s words — would be buoyed by your win, but I posed it badly, stupidly ad-libbing about "some saying Lamont is the Al-Qaeda candidate."
Well, the cease-fire countdown clock reached zero, and both sides went to their respective corners (except rockets are still being fired by both sides), ending the month-long "Sixth War," as they're calling it in the Arab world.
After 34 days of fighting, Israel is occupying a portion of Southern Lebanon but has failed to accomplish its original objective of "destroying" Hizbullah.
Time to face the facts; Israel has punted and opted instead to settle for "degrading" Hizbullah capabilities. So, how did they do? Well, at the start of the invasion Hizbullah was firing less than a hundred rockets a day into Israel. Yesterday (Sunday) Hizbullah launched 250 rockets into Israel. I suspect Hizbullah was just plain worn out from lugging the rockets from their storage bunker to the launching sites. All of that lifting and shooting can make a terrorist tired. Here's a news flash for the IDF and the Bush Administration--if your adversary can fire more missiles/rockets after 34 days of combat then they did at the start your degradation campaign did not work. It is called "failure".
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday acknowledged mistakes in the war against Hezbollah as the Israeli government confronted widespread criticism and political recriminations over the conflict.
"There have been failings and shortcomings," Olmert, with deep circles under his eyes and a haggard look on his face, told a special session of the Israeli parliament. "We need to examine ourselves in all aspects and all areas. We will not sweep anything under the table, we will not hide anything. We must ensure that next time things will be done better."
There is no mistake Ehud Olmert did not make this past month. He went to war hastily, without properly gauging the outcome. He blindly followed the military without asking the necessary questions. He mistakenly gambled on air operations, was strangely late with the ground operation, and failed to implement the army's original plan, much more daring and sophisticated than that which was implemented. And after arrogantly and hastily bursting into war, Olmert managed it hesitantly, unfocused and limp. He neglected the home front and abandoned the residents of the north. He also failed shamefully on the diplomatic front.
In 1937, when imperial Japanese aircraft "mistakenly" attacked and sank the U.S. gunboat Panay and several other vessels on China's Yangtze River, some in the U.S. called for war; but FDR realized that the U.S. was in fact neither politically nor militarily ready for such a conflict. And so he (rather unhappily) bided his time, accepting what seemed to his enemies a craven reparations deal and awaiting an event that would allow the overwhelming majority of the American public to appreciate the dangers of Japanese medievalist militarism. The wait also gave the American Navy extra years to prepare.
Similarly, when Roosevelt later tried, after the outbreak of the European war in 1939, to engineer American entrance into the conflict through elaborate trickery centered on luring Nazi subs into attacking U.S. warships in the North Atlantic, he quickly found that, much as the Allies might match his own desire to get the U.S. into the war, his own people were still not ready. And so he did not act, convincing Adolf Hitler of his own degeneracy, as well as that of the people he led.
But Roosevelt was, of course, waiting for a precise set of conditions that would allow him not simply to be the just party in the war but to appear to be as much, at home and abroad. And, of course, by the time the U.S. entered the European and the Pacific wars, there was no doubt about our moral rectitude or our increased military and naval strength.
Lives had been lost, shipping endangered, prestige — personal and otherwise — sullied, but FDR had, by bending with the early blows and waiting for what turned out to be the disaster of Pearl Harbor, pulled off the stroke that would garner the United States, over the course of World War II, so much moral authority that even his less internationally adept successors — from Lyndon Johnson to George W. Bush — have not been able to drain it; not quite yet, at any rate.
The Washington Post editorial page presents two editorials today right out of Mother Jones or The Nation, and it's symptomatic of the backlash by the folks inside the Beltway against this Administration. The first is from, of all people, George Will, who makes about the most obvious point to come out of last week's thwarted terrorist plot, one I've made continually in its wake:
The London plot against civil aviation confirmed a theme of an illuminating new book, Lawrence Wright's "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11." The theme is that better law enforcement, which probably could have prevented Sept. 11, is central to combating terrorism. F-16s are not useful tools against terrorism that issues from places such as Hamburg (where Mohamed Atta lived before dying in the North Tower of the World Trade Center) and High Wycombe, England.
Cooperation between Pakistani and British law enforcement (the British draw upon useful experience combating IRA terrorism) has validated John Kerry's belief (as paraphrased by the New York Times Magazine of Oct. 10, 2004) that "many of the interdiction tactics that cripple drug lords, including governments working jointly to share intelligence, patrol borders and force banks to identify suspicious customers, can also be some of the most useful tools in the war on terror." In a candidates' debate in South Carolina (Jan. 29, 2004), Kerry said that although the war on terror will be "occasionally military," it is "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world."
Immediately after the London plot was disrupted, a "senior administration official," insisting on anonymity for his or her splenetic words, denied the obvious, that Kerry had a point. The official told The Weekly Standard:
"The idea that the jihadists would all be peaceful, warm, lovable, God-fearing people if it weren't for U.S. policies strikes me as not a valid idea. [Democrats] do not have the understanding or the commitment to take on these forces. It's like John Kerry. The law enforcement approach doesn't work."
This farrago of caricature and non sequitur makes the administration seem eager to repel all but the delusional. But perhaps such rhetoric reflects the intellectual contortions required to sustain the illusion that the war in Iraq is central to the war on terrorism, and that the war, unlike "the law enforcement approach," does "work."
"MY FRIENDS, we're going to run this campaign on positive, constructive ideas," Sen. George F. Allen told a rally of Republican supporters in Southwest Virginia last week. "And it's important that we motivate and inspire people for something." Whereupon Mr. Allen turned his attention to a young campaign aide working for his Democratic opponent -- a University of Virginia student from Fairfax County who was apparently the only person of color present -- and proceeded to ridicule him.
Let's consider which positive, constructive or inspirational ideas Mr. Allen had in mind when he chose to mock S.R. Sidarth of Dunn Loring, who was recording the event with a video camera on behalf of James Webb, the Democratic nominee for the Senate seat Mr. Allen holds. The idea that holding up minorities to public scorn in front of an all-white crowd will elicit chortles and guffaws? (It did.) The idea that a candidate for public office can say "Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia!" to an American of Indian descent and really mean nothing offensive by it? (So insisted Mr. Allen's aides.) Or perhaps the idea that bullying your opponents and calling them strange names -- Mr. Allen twice referred to Mr. Sidarth as "Macaca" -- is within the bounds of decency on the campaign trail?
Just to unclog my news item inventory:
Earlier in the piece, Weisberg makes clear that the Cold Warrior "repudiated" in 1972 was Senator Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson. I’m going to make it my special mission to knock this one down as often as I have to: Scoop Jackson wasn’t "repudiated" or robbed of something legitimately his. He just, like dozens of Senatorial would-be-presidents before and since simply Didn’t Get Any Votes. He’s not a martyr, just a guy who No One Voted For. A lot like Joe Lieberman in fact, although Saint Scoop’s performance in 1972 fell short even of Joe’s famous "three-way tie for third place." -- more conventionally known as "fifth place."
The Federal Even-yeared Anti-terror Response (FEAR) Unit has been thrilled with an actual anti-terror response from the UK, so much so that they decided to trot out another terror-related arrest stateside. 3 Palestinian-American men from Texas were picked up over the weekend in Michigan with about 1,000 cell phones in their car. The men claimed they bought the phones for resale, but every single report I read about this arrest claimed that not only were they involved in terrorist activity, but that specifically these three were plotting to blow up the Mackinac Bridge using the cell phones as detonators (why they would need 1,000 detonators as opposed to, um, one, is unclear).
CARO, Mich. - The FBI said Monday it had no information to indicate that the three Texas men arrested in Michigan with about 1,000 cell phones in their van had any direct connection to known terrorist groups [...]
Local authorities didn’t say what they believed the men intended to do with the phones, most of which were prepaid TracFones, but Caro’s police chief noted that cell phones can be untraceable and used as detonators.
The FBI issued a news release Monday saying there is no imminent threat to the bridge linking Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas.
The release also said the FBI had no information indicating that the men, Palestinian-Americans living in Texas, had any direct links to any known terrorist groups or to the alleged plot to bomb trans-Atlantic jetliners that was announced in London last week.
William Kowalski, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit field office, said authorities believe concern about the bridge was connected to images of the Mackinac Bridge found on a digital camera belonging to the men.
So over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times managed to print three editions of its newspaper, with less than 90 days to go until a statewide election, without including one story - ONE - covering the California governor’s race.
It is no small task for Angelides to compete in a personality contest with Schwarzenegger, a Hollywood star who has spent three decades polishing the public image that produced his wealth and political power base.
For Angelides, a Sacramento insider who toils over bond sales and pension funds in his job as state treasurer, a lack of pizazz would, in theory, have little bearing on his ability to run the state.
But candidate personalities always matter in a race for governor, and the difficulty of vying one-on-one against Schwarzenegger's is one of the most serious challenges that Angelides faces.
"Voters vote for people, not for platforms," said Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster who often surveys public opinion in California. "At the end of the day, who a candidate is, as a person, is vastly more important than almost anything else."
In a few instances this past week, Russ Feingold has shown that he understands the shifting political winds in this country and he has internalized that the best way for a opposition party to conduct itself is to oppose and not capitulate.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold knocked the centrist Democratic Leadership Council today, saying its strategy of hoping to win by being “a little different than Republicans” hasn’t worked. He also accused the group's adherents of instilling fear in Democrats who oppose the war.
“They are the ones that coalesced with the big corporations to pass unfair trade agreements that hurt America,” Feingold said. “It was the DLC that came up with the health care plan with the Clintons that was so complicated nobody could understand it. It’s the DLC that has cut off our ability to say things like, ‘Let’s get out of Iraq because it’s a bad idea.’”
Feingold said DLC consultants “instill fear in Democrats” by saying opposition to the war would be taken as not supporting the troops. “What I want is us to get the right answer whether it’s liberal, conservative or middle of the road,” Feingold said.
Democrats should not try to be just “a little different than the Republicans and hope that we win," Feingold said. "I think that’s what (the DLC) brought us and it hasn’t worked.”
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Lieberman thinks that your approach will strengthen the terrorists and it’s a victory for terrorists. What’s your response?
FEINGOLD: Well, I like Joe Lieberman, but I support Ned Lamont, because Joe is showing with that regrettable statement that he doesn’t get it. He doesn’t get it. The fact is that we were attacked on 9/11 by Al Qaeda and its affiliates and its sympathizers, not by Saddam Hussein. And unfortunately Senator Lieberman has supported the Bush Administration’s disastrous strategic approach of getting us stuck in Iraq instead of focusing on those who attacked us. I mean, look at the places that have been attacked: India, Morocco, Turkey, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Somalia, Spain, Great Britain. What does this have to do with Iraq? And Senator Lieberman is stuck on that point. Ned Lamont and I believe that we should refocus on those who attacked us on 9/11 and not simply try to cover our tracks because this was such a very poor decision in terms of the overall battle against the terrorists who attacked us.
I just had a belly laugh watching Chris Matthews mutter "I see dead people" after showing Joe Lieberman's ridiculous campaign commercial promoting his independent run for the Senate. "There's Joe Lieberman, the guy running for Senate who doesn't know he's already lost."
Well if this isn't a telling moment:
Democrat James Webb's Senate campaign accused Sen. George Allen (R) of making demeaning comments Friday to a 20-year-old Webb volunteer of Indian descent.
S.R. Sidarth, a senior at the University of Virginia, had been trailing Allen with a video camera to document his travels and speeches for the Webb campaign. During a campaign speech Friday in Breaks, Virginia, near the Kentucky border, Allen singled out Sidarth and called him a word that sounded like "Macaca."
"This fellow here over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great. We're going to places all over Virginia, and he's having it on film and its great to have you here and you show it to your opponent because he's never been there and probably will never come."
After telling the crowd that Webb was raising money in California with a "bunch of Hollywood movie moguls," Allen again referenced Sidarth, who was born and raised in Fairfax County.
"Lets give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia," said Allen, who then began talking about the "war on terror."
In an interview, Sidarth said he suspects Allen singled him out because he was the only non-white face in the audience, which he estimated included about 100 Republican supporters.
"I think he was doing it because he could and I was the person of color there and it was useful for him in inciting his audience," said Sidarth. "I was annoyed he would use my race in a political context."
Last week, when the whiners in Joe Lieberman's campaign claimed that Ned Lamont supporters took down their website the day before the election (a site which has only gone back up in the past day or so), every news organization covered it continuously. Now, the Lamont campaign, after noting the facts of the case (that Joe had an el cheapo webhosting service, and his normal election-day traffic spike brought it crashing down), has demanded an apology. No coverage.
Finally someone is willing to say that partisanship is not a dirty word, and that those who whine and moan about the lack of civility and the surfeit of partisanship are often the most partisan people in the world:
What "civility and bipartisanship"? Is it this?
"I'm worried that too many people, both in politics and out, don't appreciate the seriousness of the threat to American security and the evil of the enemy that faces us - more evil or as evil as Nazism and probably more dangerous that the Soviet Communists we fought during the long Cold War," Lieberman said.
"If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England. It will strengthen them and they will strike again."
Because I frankly don't see what is so very fucking "civil" about Lieberman accusing anyone who voted against him of giving aid and comfort to a greater evil than the Nazis and a greater menace than Stalin. And why is it "bipartisan" to borrow GOP talking points and use the British terror plot to smear a Democratic politician who is making an argument shared by most Americans? That's not "bipartisanship." That's arrogant stupidity and a vicious slap in the face.
The Bush Administration must be so used to the ignorance of their constituents that they tried to slide this one under the door. In 2002 this might have worked, and would have been yet another excuse to go forward with whatever nonsense police state tactic the NSA or CIA or JCTC wanted to try. In 2006 some of us know better.
And yet, here was a major plot foiled because the terrorist plotters were using telephones to communicate about their plans -- and using banking systems to wire money -- all of which law enforcement could track within the law. This whole episode potently illustrates just how inane are the claims that the Times' NSA story (and its SWIFT disclosures) would endanger national security. Terrorists already knew full well that we monitor their telephone conversations and banking transactions, and they knew that before the New York Times "told" them so. But in order to plan terrorist attacks, terrorists must communicate with one another and send money to each other. Somehow, the Times' story did not prevent us from eavesdropping on all of these conversations. That's because the Times stories -- as has been evident from the beginning -- told terrorists nothing which they could use to avoid detection.
There's a "Countdown to Cease-Fire" clock right now on CNN. Like it's New Year's Eve.