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

Friday, July 29, 2005

One Side Only

I'm a blogger. I wear my politics on my sleeve. If you think I only give one side of the story (and I try to at least offer the other alternatives), it's probably because of these facts. I also don't write this as news, but opinion. There's a big difference.

Roll Call is a nonpartisan Congressional weekly offering news. Today they ran a story (subscription only) about anti-Robert Byrd ads being run in West Virginia without contacting anyone in the WV Democratic Party, the DNC, the DSCC, or the Byrd campaign. Now, the news item is that Republicans are running ads, so if you think the other side doesn't really have to respond to report this news, fine. But apparently the writer was told by the GOP that she could only run the story if she didn't call anyone else.

This isn't the first time this has happened. The New York Times and the Washington Post have engaged in this one-sided "journalism" recently as well. The GOP has learned that these media outlets are so desperate for inside dirt that they can muscle the reporter to tell their story their way. This has unbelievably dangerous consequences for the future of a free press.


Thursday, July 28, 2005

CAFTA passes: collective anmesia

There was appparently more arm-twisting than a night at the WWE, but in the end, the odious Central American Free Trade Agreement passed the House by two votes last night. Or one vote, if you believe Republican Rep. Charles Taylor's story that he actually voted no and the House clerk didn't record it.

It stuns me, the level of collective amnesia our "leaders" in Congress seem to have. NAFTA passed over a decade ago, and literally NOTHING that was promised about it has come true. It has not raised wages in Mexico, causing the so-called "rising tide" that would lift all boats. It did not improve trade for the United States, now running at all-time high trade deficits. It has not stemmed the tide of illegal immigration in the least, as Mexican workers still desire to travel to the US in search of livable wages. It has destroyed the US manufacturing sector, cost hundreds of thousands of American workers their jobs, and singlehandedly ruined entire industries.

And CAFTA will do all that and more. Without global labor and environmental standards, we all lose.

I'll have more on this in a minute...


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Swift Boat II: A Return to Slanderville


I guess the GOP motto is "if it worked before, let's try it again," no matter if that which allegedly "worked" is to slander true patriots. But with a week to go in the special election for Ohio's 2nd Congressional district, an aide to Republican Jean Schmidt has attempted a takedown of Iraq War veteran and Democrat Paul Hackett:

I understand that Hackett did not participate in combat at all. ... Let's just not act as though we led marines in combat if we did not, okay?

He commanded a Civil Affairs unit. Riding around in the desert distributing supplies when the roads are littered with IEDs and snipers is combat, buddy. 11 other civil affairs officers have died in the conflict. No matter what you think about the war itself, it's truly disgusting that anyone who volunteered to go over there would have their patriotism questioned.

And unlike John Kerry, Hackett has immediately answered back:

When asked to answer that charge, Hackett is blunt: "The only way I know how to support the troops is by going over there." He doesn't hesitate to criticize Schmidt's support of the war: "All the chicken hawks back here who said, 'Oh, Iraq is talking bad about us. They're going to threaten us' - look, if you really believe that, you leave your wife and three kids and go sign up for the Army or Marines and go over there and fight. Otherwise, shut your mouth."

I'm sure that will receive the same answer it has from the College Republicans, Jonah Goldberg and all the other members of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders, who type through cyberspace with the greatest of ease, torching the enemy with their diatribes about "Islamofascism," rat-a-tat-tatting with the guns of "They hate our freedom!" But whine though they must, deep down they know it's true.

Maybe it's that kind of straight talk that earned Hackett the endorsement of The Cincinnati Post, who endorsed Bush in the last two elections;

Hackett, in our view, is a gust of fresh air. If we had to put a label on him, it would be Libertarian Democrat. He says what he thinks and doesn't seem to have much use for the orthodoxy, or the partisanship, of either party. He doesn't want the government telling him what kinds of guns he can own, nor does he want it interfering in family or medical decisions or taking away civil liberties in the name of fighting terror. He regards Social Security more as an insurance program than a retirement savings plan, but wants to put it on a sound footing and would raise the earnings ceiling if necessary to do so.

If elected, he notes, he would be the only member of Congress with direct military experience in Iraq - which, he says, is a fight we should end as soon as possible. He wants to finish the job and get out, and he wants the United States to stop holding hands with Pakistan and to get serious about tracking down those responsible for the 9-11 attacks.

We like Hackett's candor. We're impressed with the freshness of his ideas. We believe his experience shows him to be someone who is action-oriented.

This would still be an upset if Hackett were to win this very partisan Republican district, but he's the right candidate for this race: a civil libertarian with national security credentials who ran for office because he "got off the plane from Iraq and all they were talking about in Washington was Terri Schiavo!" This guy won't be Swift Boated. He'll do the asskicking around here, and he just might win this thing.


NY-Gov: Say hello to Governor Spitzer

My favorite Democrat just moved one step closer to Albany today:

ALBANY, July 26 - Gov. George E. Pataki told a group of supporters and aides Tuesday night that he would not seek a fourth term as governor after abruptly summoning them to the governor's mansion, according to two people who attended the meeting.

Spitzer was burying Pataki in every poll anyway, but the GOP bench there is pathetic, so this one won't even be a fair fight. Spitzer is a committed reformer that will bring real results for ordinary people to the governor's mansion. He believes in a clean free market where everybody plays by the rules. He believes in a level playing field and honesty in business. He works tirelessly for his constituents against the seats of financial power every day. In short he's the closest thing this country has to Theodore Roosevelt, who, by the way, began his ascent to the Presidency as the governor of New York.


More Stonewalling

Now the White House has refused to release John Roberts' tax returns, breaking all known precedent not just for Supreme Court nominees, but for the vast majority of public officials as well.

This all comes from a culture of secrecy in the White House, a belief that everybody is out to get you and that you must protect information by burying it. As we're learning from the Plame investigation, the problem with this kind of massive secrecy is that, once one secret gets out, the whole ball of wax starts to unravel. That's what's going on here.


Monday, July 25, 2005

That's a Whole Lotta Recusal

We know that the official White House policy on its Supreme Court nominee is to have him answer as few questions on specific issues as possible, and to reject any disclosure of documents from a large portion of his working life, his time in the solicitor general's office under the first President Bush. We heard all over the Sunday talk shows that such disclosure would violate "attorney-client privilege," despite the fact that Judge Rehnquist gave up exactly such papers when nominated for Chief Justice in 1986.

And that will be a battle played out more over the rights of the legislative branch versus the executive (and the judiciary, in a way). But the drips and drabs of information that we are learning about Judge John G. Roberts are pretty unusual. For one, he seems to have forgotten several years of his professional life, including his membership in the Federalist Society, pretty much a must-join for conservative lawyers.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Supreme Court nominee John Roberts declined Monday to say why he was listed in a leadership directory of the Federalist Society and the White House said he has no recollection of belonging to the conservative group.

The Washington Post reported Monday that it had obtained from a liberal group a 1997-98 Federalist Society leadership directory listing Roberts, then a partner in a private law firm, as being a steering committee member in the group's Washington chapter.

Roberts has acknowledged participating in Federal Society events and giving speeches for the organization.

But on Monday, presidential press secretary Scott McClellan said, ''He doesn't recall ever paying dues or being a member.''

It's not that membership in the Federalist Society is an automatic disqualification from the federal bench any more than membership in the ACLU should be. It's that the dodge-and-duck strategy has now led to deliberately misleading the public. He doesn't recall being a member, yet he's on the steering committee? How lame an excuse is that?

And then there's this bit that, if true, is deeply disturbing:

The exchange occurred during one of Roberts' informal discussions with senators last week. According to two people who attended the meeting, Roberts was asked by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) what he would do if the law required a ruling that his church considers immoral. Roberts is a devout Catholic and is married to an ardent pro-life activist. The Catholic Church considers abortion to be a sin, and various church leaders have stated that government officials supporting abortion should be denied religious rites such as communion. (Pope Benedict XVI is often cited as holding this strict view of the merging of a person's faith and public duties).

Renowned for his unflappable style in oral argument, Roberts appeared nonplused and, according to sources in the meeting, answered after a long pause that he would probably have to recuse himself.

Good thing that no cases regarding religion (or values-based issues like abortion or gay rights or the death penalty) ever come up on the Supreme Court. Otherwise this guy would be sitting out for weeks at a time. Oh wait, looks like he will be.

This crosses dangerously into "unfit for confirmation" territory. Do we want to nominate a justice who's going to run away during some of the most contentious cases on the docket, leaving the possibility of a 4-4 tie in nearly all of them? Roberts has to explain and clarify that statement, and assure the county that he's able to do his job. Of course, he can always say that he can't recall ever talking to Durbin, I suppose.


Iraqi Citizens Get the Talking Points

Seems like the RNC has a direct fax over to Baghdad:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. military on Sunday said it was looking into how virtually identical quotations ended up in two of its news releases about different insurgent attacks.

Following a car bombing in Baghdad on Sunday, the U.S. military issued a statement with a quotation attributed to an unidentified Iraqi that was virtually identical to a quote reacting to an attack on July 13...

Following are the two quotes as provided by the U.S. military in news releases:

Sunday's news release said: "'The terrorists are attacking the infrastructure, the ISF and all of Iraq. They are enemies of humanity without religion or any sort of ethics. They have attacked my community today and I will now take the fight to the terrorists,' said one Iraqi man who preferred not to be identified."

The July 13 news release said: "'The terrorists are attacking the infrastructure, the children and all of Iraq,' said one Iraqi man who preferred not to be identified. 'They are enemies of humanity without religion or any sort of ethics. They have attacked my community today and I will now take the fight to the terrorists.'"

Ovbiously these are horrible attacks, everyone with any sense understands that. You don't have to buttress them by recycling fabricated quotes by Iraqi citizens to prove they're on our side. Or do you? Can we chalk this up to "an administrative error," as the military has claimed (although that's a pretty good administrator, to change the name from "the ISF" to "the children" to suit the needs of the story. Maybe there's an automatic "enemies of humanity" generator at CentCom), or can we glean that it's getting harder and harder to find Iraqis to speak out against the insurgency, for fear of their lives or for a certain contempt for the US military presence that has brought this constant violence to their shores?

It's amazing how easily, quickly, and cavalierly the military will lie, no matter how big or small that lie is. This is a small one but it's instructive. If you're making shit up about the unimportant stuff, how much can you be trusted about anything? Like "the war will last six months," which is what Rumsfeld said two and a half years ago?

Everybody lies in war. We seem determined to lie about everything.