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

Friday, June 16, 2006

Textbook Example of How to Deal with the Immigration Issue

I don't have a whole lot of faith in the Establishment Democrats in Washington, but these new Democrats out in the states seem to know how to put their opponent on the defensive:

Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill on Thursday proposed large fines and prison sentences for employers who hire illegal immigrants and charged that incumbent Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., is too cozy with companies that flout hiring laws.

Stepping into a controversy that has divided Congress and many Americans, McCaskill said border security and pursuing those who come to the country illegally are important steps, but that a big part of the solution is cracking down on employers who view illegal immigrants as a cheap labor force.

McCaskill announced her plan in a speech outside the federal courthouse in Springfield. In an interview with The Associated Press, she said current fines and punishment aren't big enough to deter major corporations from exploiting illegal immigrant labor.

"The pattern here is we're not getting serious about cracking down on the people who are hiring the illegal immigrants. I want to fight for the American worker," she said. "Yes, we need to secure the border, yes we need to enforce the law. But the law not only is not being enforced by these employers, it is being ignored."

Under McCaskill's proposal, employers who hire illegal immigrants would face a $10,000 fine per illegal worker and up to six months in jail for a first offense. Penalties would rise to $50,000 per illegal immigrant and no less than a year in jail for a third offense.

McCaskill just missed in her run for governor two years ago, and I think she learned a lot of lessons. She's at the top of the ticket this time in the most high-profile race in the state, and I think putting Talent in that box between the corporate cons that want cheap labor and the anti-immigrant wingnuts that want all of the brown people out of the country is very smart. It puts McCaskill on the side of the worker, which is where Democrats need to be, while expanding the narrative of Republicans beholden to greedy corporate interests (particularly agribusiness, which I imagine plays well in Missouri).

McCaskill came out against the compromise Senate bill on immigration and has been against amnesty, but her focus on the employers is not only the way to actually get results on the hiring of illegal workers, but is also smart politics. Talent is trying to accuse her of hyprocrisy:

McCaskill says she opposes amnesty, but Chrismer claims she contradicted herself earlier this year in an interview with the Columbia Daily Tribune.

In the Tribune story, McCaskill said people who return home and apply legally should get priority, but also said, "I think that we need to look at ways that the people who are here illegally can pay for the crime they've committed without being a further burden on taxpayers."

"When McCaskill realized that most Missourians oppose her amnesty plan and support a border fence, McCaskill changed colors like a chameleon," Chrismer said in a statement.

McCaskill campaign spokeswoman Adrianne Marsh said the Democrat's earlier comments did not endorse amnesty.

Again, I like the way McCaskill presents the issues. By focusing on the "burden on taxpayers," she forces Talent to play on her field, where she is seen as relieving that burden by solving the problem, and he is seen as exacerbating the problem by turning a blind eye to illegal hiring.

Of course, I'd like McCaskill to go further and address the real underlying issue behind immigration, the driving force behind so many people coming to America to seek jobs, which has its roots in the NAFTA passage 12 years ago and the rise in poverty in places like Mexico thereafter. That adds to her argument about the problem being corporations seeking cheap labor. But McCaskill did a lot of things right: 1) She came out with her own plan early, setting the terms of the debate; 2) She framed Talent as a slave to big business interests; 3) She took the Republicans on with what is perceived as their strongest issue, the issue that ended up sinking Francine Busby, for example.

I like McCaskill's chances this November if she keeps this kind of campaign going.


By Any Means Necessary

James Madison impersonators had better get their costumes cleaned, as there may be another Constitutional Convention. Although I don't think this would be the kind of meeting that the Father of the Bill of Rights had in mind:

Meeting after the big failure at the offices of the social-conservative Family Research Council, the top leaders of the marriage movement — Catholic, Protestant and Mormon leaders among others — discussed the possibility of an unprecedented Constitutional Convention. Two-thirds (34) of the state legislatures would have to call for such a convention — which could be done only with great difficulty. Even then, no one knows what such a convention would look like or what sort of amendments could result from it [...]

[I]f such a convention were to pass a marriage amendment, we estimate that 28 states would easily ratify it. Another eight states may do so only after a protracted and bloody political fight (which could span an election cycle). That leaves supporters with two more states to go to reach the threshold of 38 (three-fourths), and only the most difficult ground to fight on — states such as Maine, Rhode Island, Oregon and Nevada are probably not ideal places to win such a fight, although not all would be unwinnable.

Are the gay really that much of a threat to the Republic that a Constitutional Convention under Article 5 must be convened to deal with them? The answer is, of course not. Marriage itself is a bigger threat to marriage than gays. This is a political decision to highlight discrimination because this particular stripe of it still plays to a large section of the population.

Bob Geiger notes that some strange forces are being summoned in the gay marriage deabate - Dan Brown-like forces:

(Kansas Sen. Sam) Brownback really hit his stride when he described a paper, called "Ten Principles on Marriage and the Public Good," published by a fairly new and extremely-conservative group at Princeton University. According to Brownback, the paper is an "… important statement of principles from top American scholars [to] be considered carefully by my colleagues." He then added that the sentiments expressed in the non-scientific treatise were so vital to our national dialog that they should " guide our debate on this issue."

The paper, sponsored by the Witherspoon Institute at Princeton, makes a case for banning same-sex marriage altogether. What's extraordinary, is the idea of a United States Senator attempting to sway opinion on an amendment that would have altered our Constitution (had it not been defeated last Wednesday) by using a paper from an organization linked to Opus Dei, a strict, religious group that some former members have described as a cult.

Brownback spent a good part of his lengthy Senate speech last week citing the study and attributing it to "this Princeton group of scholars" while never mentioning that all of the findings were based on the ultraconservative Witherspoon Institute bolstered by the involvement -- directly or indirectly -- of a nonprofit, tax-exempt religious organization in Opus Dei.
So what exactly is the Witherspoon Institute, whose paper formed the foundation of Brownback's anti-gay argument?
The Institute, which has only been around since 2003, has close ties to Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council , but is also tightly aligned with Opus Dei. Indeed, Luis Tellez, the president of the Witherspoon Institute is also the director and lead cleric of Opus Dei in Princeton.

It gets just ever-more-crazier:

So why then, is a U.S. Senator offering to Congress "research" linked to Opus Dei on something as vital as amending the Constitution? It turns out that Brownback, who was formerly an evangelical Protestant, converted to Catholicism by way of Opus Dei in 2002 and was sponsored in that conversion by Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), a vocal Opus Dei advocate.

Tellez, the leader of Opus Dei in Princeton, is a “numerary,” considered the most conservative of the sect's members -- they are unmarried, celibate, devote every aspect of their lives to their spiritual beliefs and turn over their salaries from secular jobs to Opus Dei.

Again, it bears repeating that Tellez is also the head of the Witherspoon Institute, the group Brownback cited at great length as his primary argument against gay marriage.

Of course, Sen. Brownback has a very creepy past with links to not only Opus Dei but other secretive far-right Christian organizations. He used to live in DC with a few other Senators and Congressmen in a million-dollar brownstone owned by a secretive religious group called "The Fellowship", paying only $600/month.

The forces at play in the gay marriage debate are very big and very dangerous. It's about more than just a political stunt to grab a certain cross-section of the vote, although that's a nice sidelight. But really, it's about Dominion. From the Rolling Stone article on Brownback:

"In his dream America, the one he believes both the Bible and the Constitution promise, the state will simply wither away. In its place will be a country so suffused with God and the free market that the social fabric of the last hundred years -- schools, Social Security, welfare -- will be privatized or simply done away with," reads the article. "There will be no abortions; sex will be confined to heterosexual marriage. Men will lead families, mothers will tend children, and big business and the church will take care of all."



I can't believe I've never did a post about Bloomsday before. Ulysses is the ultimate novel of the 20th century, at times almost completely inscrutable but also a darkly comic and soaring statement on love, the transmigration of souls, and the power of memory. I actually recommend Sean Walsh's Bloom, which is kind of a visual Cliff's Notes of Joyce's novel but gets a staggering amount of things right. But there's no substitute for the text itself. Back when I lived in Philadelphia they had an all-day reading which featured local celebrities, including then-mayor and now-governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell. I'm sure if you dig hard enough you can find a similar such celebration in your area. And it's well worth it. 102 years after June 16, 1904, the words and actions of Leopold Bloom and Molly Bloom and Stephen Dedalus still resonate. Especially these:

History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.

A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.

A nation is the same people living in the same place.

And of course, the decidedly non-political statement of desire, the rememberance of things past, all that was good about the first flush of love and the reawakening of how that can be renewed again...

… and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

It's important to remember that Ulysses was a novel that was burnt before it reached American shores, that had trouble getting published at all because of its alleged salaciousness (horror of horrors, people have sex over the course of a day!), that took ten years of legal battle to get clearance to be printed in this country. And earwicker from Kos notes:

All of which is why I'm a wee pissed that President Bush decided yesterday to sign bill S. 193 or the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act or the Does-the-American-Family-Association-want-a-biscuit? It-does? Beg-for-the-biscuit-AFA-that's-a-good-boy! AFA-likes-biscuits-yes-it-does-Now-roll-over Act.

Ladies and gentlemen, after two and half years of national soul searching, after tremendous gnashing of teeth, we can finally wake from our long nightmare that began with an errant pop star's nipple. This sorry excuse for legislation increases the maximum fine the FCC can levy on radio and TV stations by a factor of ten for violating decency standards. Well, praise the Lord for that! It's about goddamn time we got rid of all that objectionable material - who knew you could do it with just a stroke of the pen?

And that brings me back to Ulysses. For over a decade America was robbed of one of the greatest works of art made in the 20th century because it was considered "pornographic" and it would be a shame to ever have something like that happen again.

Mrgkgnao! to that.

p.s. This year's Bloomsday obsession may have something to do with my stay in Dublin back in March. I even stopped by Davy Byrne's pub:

Though I didn't have a gongonzola sandwich and a glass of burgundy.



Good news, America: one side of the aisle takes their job seriously:

House Democrats voted on Thursday night to strip a Louisiana congressman of a key committee position as they tried to avoid any taint of scandal in a year when they want to ride accusations of Republican corruption to election victories.

The congressman, William J. Jefferson, is the subject of a federal bribery investigation and has insisted he has done nothing wrong. He has rebuffed efforts to get him to step aside voluntarily.

After a meeting stretching more than three hours, the Democrats voted to remove him from the House Ways and Means Committee until his case is resolved. The action, on a 99-to-58 vote, is subject to the approval by the full House.

And the full House approved that today.

Josh Marshall is dead right in noticing the interesting pattern at work. When Democrats fall into trouble with ethical lapses or possible violations of the law, in the case of Jefferson and Allan Mollohan, they step down or are stripped of their committee assignments. Democrats believe in the appearance of impropriety and will not let one man be bigger than the party or above the law. Republicans, which have at least a dozen members under investigation right now, feel no such compulsion. They tried to get the DeLay rule passed where a Majority Leader could be under indictment. They have Jerry Lewis, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, under investigation along with two of his staffers. He's not stepping down. Lewis is the guy who deals with federal earmarks for local projects, he's accused of extorting lobbyists in exchange for earmarks, and he's still in charge of that committee. Similarly, Bob Ney is running for re-election after being all but named in the Abramoff indictment and the Scanlon indictment.

I can only conclude that when it comes to wayward members, Democrats seek to hold them accountable while Republicans have an instinct for protection. Maybe that's because that if Republicans cut loose all of their corrupt members, they wouldn't be able to hold a quorum call.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Laurel and Hardy

This looks like the cover of a little-known British WWII comedy starring Michael Palin.

Snow and Bartlett in: Flyboy Fops!

These dudes make Dukakis look like John Wayne.


A Disgusting Day

The debate in the House and the Senate today on Iraq should shame the nation. Instead of actually discussing the failed strategies that have caused the deaths of 2,500 soldiers and the wounding of several thousands more, what we saw today was a political stunt, outlined in a talking points memo that asked Republican lawmakers to conflate Iraq with 9-11 and paint Democrats as weak and wavering.

We actually had debate in Congress on a resolution NOT to set a timetable for troop withdrawal. Can you imagine? What other debates to assure that things won't happen will we see? A debate on NOT fixing the rising cost of healthcare? A debate on NOT funding No Child Left Behind? A debate on NOT inspecting containers at the ports? What is the point on a debate to NOT do something? Rep. McGovern?

"We will not be having a real debate on Iraq today," said Jim McGovern. "It will be a pretend debate, one that will have absolutely no effect on U.S. policy."

I have a question for Republican legislators. Go back to your homes tonight. Tell your children that you used our men and women in the Armed Forces as political props to stifle dissent and hang on to Congress in November. Tell them how you've left them without equipment, without a mission strategy, without support.

I ask you, how can you look your children in the face after you explain all that?

UPDATE: How much do Republicans hate the troops? They want to give amnesty to insurgents that have murdered US troops (and only the ones who murdered Americans, not the ones who've murdered other Iraqis), an idea that so incensed the Prime Minister (at least publicly) that the aide who mentioned it had to resign? To be honest, there's something to be said for solving the problem through the political process, but it flies in the face of everything Republicans supposedly stand for, to never negotiate with terrorists, to "smoke 'em out of their holes," to never send them a positive message. How can one party be so two-faced? You say the word "amnesty" in regard to the immigration debate and you have no repsect for the law. And immigrants never killed Americans with malicious intent.

There's a trend line here. The White House backed warlords in Somalia who had slaughtered US troops in the Black Hawk Down incident. Now the Senate has no problem giving amnesty to guerrillas. Yet they still call Democrats the party of cut-and-run.

What the fuck are we doing in Iraq?

I have to sit down, the topsy-turviness of this is giving me a headache...


Blogged to Death

Here's a list of items that others have blogged about already, leaving me late to the party, but I will offer my shortened remarks thereupon:

Greg Sargent notes that in his presser yesterday, the President made fun of a reporter for wearing sunglasses, it turned out the guy was legally blind, bloggers figured it out fairly quickly, and yet the venerable New York Times reported it as Bush "commenting about one man's sunglasses" without mentioning the blindness. A fact they later scrubbed from the story.

Steve Benen sees Bush arguing straw men, again, in his press conference, with lines like these:

* "…I fully understand how people might have made the decision that America is no longer under threat, or the lessons of September the 11th were just momentary lessons."

Who thinks the threat is over? Who believes the lessons of 9/11 were "momentary"? Bush didn't say, probably because no one actually thinks that.

* "I said that if people say, well, there's got to be no violence in order for this to be a successful experience, then it's not going to happen."

And who created this "no violence = victory" standard? Apparently, Bush did — in order for him to shoot it down.

I like the part where he said "Some people out there say puppies are here to kill us and take our babies. I don't agree." A longer piece by the traditional media on that phenomenon here.

Glenn Greenwald catches Instapundit being either ignorant or willfully stupid, or both, claiming that Jim Webb's primary victory in Virginia is "bad for the Howard Dean-Kos fringe" when in fact Kos endorsed Webb.

emptywheel catches Byron York misleading about the YearlyKos CIA Leak Investigation panel. It was clear to me, being in the room, that the panel was really about what it meant for the media to be complicit in a major case like this, and how they've fallen down in their coverage of it. Plus, as emptywheel said, most of the panel believed Rove was cooperating with Fitzgerald anyway, and Murray Waas explicitly stated that "this whole thing may fizzle."

Echidne of the Snakes looks at women in Iran getting beaten for protesting sexist discrimation.

This poster at My Left Wing explains how Bush set aside a large marine protection area, mainly because he heard about it in a movie.

A turning point came in April, when Bush sat through a 65-minute private White House screening of a PBS documentary that unveiled the beauty of — and perils facing — the archipelago's aquamarine waters and its nesting seabirds, sea turtles and sleepy-eyed monk seals, all threatened by extinction.

The film seemed to catch Bush's imagination, according to senior officials and others in attendance. The president popped up from his front-row seat after the screening; congratulated filmmaker Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of the late underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau; and urged the White House staff to get moving on protecting these waters.

"He was enthusiastic," Cousteau said. "The show had a major impact on him, the way my father's shows had on so many people. I think he really made a discovery — a connection between the quality of our lives and the oceans."

I think the "human-animal hybrid" thing came from watching "X-Men United."


Late to the Game In Somalia

Somalia is an example of a country that really is falling into becoming a terror state, with this Islamic Courts Union consolidating their hold on the country. There may be forces within the Courts that are not enemies of the US, but whether or not we can persuade them to reject terror is unclear at the moment. This all happened right under the noses of the US, who supported horrible warlords who had no popular support because we hoped our strongmen would beat their strongmen. It was a stupid strategy, not well thought-out, because the insistent focus on Iraq has taken away from all the other parts of the so-called "war on terror."

Now, via Think Progress, we're apparently moving on to diplomacy in Somalia at a time when we couldn't possibly have less leverage:

On Thursday, the US will initiate a “Somalia contact group” of interested countries and organizations to begin deliberating on how the international community can help stabilize what experts consider to be a “failed state.” The tone suggests a carefully revised US position on Somalia, analysts say. The broader lesson, they add, may be that instead of rejecting Islamist political groups outright, the US will have to do more to differentiate friend from foe within Islamist political movements.

“It sounds like Plan A didn’t work, so we’d better try Plan B,” says Jim Bishop, who was the last US ambassador to Somalia, before the US evacuated its embassy there in 1991. […] “Of course, we want stability and we don’t want to see a terrorist haven there, but discussion and finding a compromise is better than Plan A.”

Future President Feingold is all over this:

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, one of the few members of Congress who pays close attention to Somalia, expressed concern this week about U.S. policy in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Despite instability throughout Somalia, Feingold said there is "an absence of a unified and comprehensive U.S. government strategy for Somalia that deals with the full range of challenges facing that country."

He noted that the most recent State Department report on international terrorism says that Somalia has no functioning central government and that parts of the country "have become havens for terrorist and other illicit activities, threatening the security of the whole region."

Feingold is basically saying that this latest strategic move may be too little and too late, and certainly didn't happen in time to see Mogadishu restored and not given over to the Courts. Even today we have one State Department official charged with issues on Somalia, and our budget for counter-terrorism in Somalia is $2 million dollars. Pathetic. We spend $2 BILLION a week in Iraq.

The White House strategy against terror is so badly flawed, and Somalia is a tragic example.


Bad Strategery in Iraq

Sometimes the media covers events that don't really need to be covered. Or at least they don't cover them in the WAY they should be covered. Take today's press conference with Gen. Maj. William Caldwell about Al-Qaeda in Iraq's latest leader:

The U.S. military on Thursday identified Abu Ayyub Al-Masri, an Egyptian operative with connections to an Usama bin Laden lieutenant, as the probable new leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell showed a photo of Al-Masri at a Baghdad press conference, saying he is apparently the same person that Al Qaeda in Iraq identified in a Web posting last week as its new leader — Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, a nom de guerre.

Caldwell said Al-Masri's ability to lead the organization remained unclear, but added that he professed the "same tactics of attacking and killing civilians" as his predecessor Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

That's right, everyone, the head of the terrorist organization in Iraq is FOR using terror tactics. Surprisingly, the peace candidate for Al-Qaeda in Iraq never gained any traction. He was a small-donor, clean-money choice too, an insurgent candidate for the insurgents, if you will. Maybe if the primary season wasn't so front-loaded he would have had a shot.

I also feel that the media hasn't learned the lesson of believing the hype on Zarqawi, and are now transferring that right over to hype this next titular head, Abu Ayyub Al-Masri. Certainly Al-Masri has an interest in being seen as larger than life and the main force against the infidels. But we all know that foreign jihadis really aren't the biggest source of instability in Iraq at all. The problem are the sectarian forces who have been at each other's throats for close to the last two years. Foreign fighters aren't raping Iraqi women; members of the armed militia are. 1,000 Iraqi civilians are dying each month in Baghdad at the hands of not just foreign fighters, but roving bands of Shiites and Sunnis, including members of the Interior Ministry. To focus on one terrorist does a disservice to those of us trying to understand this war. It's done strictly for a stateside audience, just like the insistent focus on Zarqawi. Chopping the head off the insurgency doesn't work if the head is not already attached to the body (OK, that metaphor didn't totally work, but you get my point).

The current crackdown in Baghdad may yield some results in the short-term, especially if it is managed fully by the Iraqi Prime Minister and not US interests. But the only long term strategy is political, not search-and-destroy. And holding a big press conference to announce the new leader of a satellite organization that, IMO, is not the problem in Iraq does nothing for that long-term strategy.


Busy Day

There won't be much from me, although I have a lot of posts planned. I'll try to get to them later.

UPDATE: Welcome Daou Reporters! I'm available for bookmarking (and bar mitzvahs and funerals).


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

More on the RepubliWON'Ts

Greg Anrig at TPM Cafe discusses the fact that Bush can't be the ONLY thing screwing up the conservative project, considering he delegates everything to committed conservative ideologues. Maybe the problem isn't the messenger, but the message:

Congress has been in the hands of folks who learned everything they know about government policy from reading the National Review, attending Heritage Foundation workshops, and parroting soundbites provided by Bill Kristol and Rush Limbaugh. If Bush is some sort of rogue liberal – what about all the other proud conservatives who have been doing their thing to the country the past five years? This is what government run by people who proudly call themselves conservative looks like. Their failure is the failure of conservatism. Period.

And they're getting that in Kansas, of all places, where a horde of moderate conservatives are running, screaming, to the Democratic Party.

(Lt. Gov. candidate Mark) Parkinson became the third Republican politician in the last nine months to startle this red state by switching to the minority party. The other two are targeting GOP incumbents in the attorney general's office and in the state House of Representatives.

Political observers say the fracture within the Kansas GOP may foreshadow the future for the national party. The division between moderates and social conservatives is expected to define the contest for the party's 2008 presidential nomination [...]

"A lot of people in Kansas are feeling lost right now," said Parkinson, 48, who was invited onto the ticket by popular Democratic incumbent Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. "I decided I'd rather spend time building great universities than wondering if Charles Darwin was right."

The moderates are beginning to understand that the divisiveness and anti-progress policies of the hard-core GOP don't end up getting anything done for people. Indeed their entire point is to distract and subvert the real issues. Giving the fundies a voice, to the extent that in Kansas the Republican INSURANCE COMMISSIONER is being challenged because he's pro-choice, means that insurance issues might not be as prominent in the debate. Which suits real conservatives just fine. Conservative projects often fail by design, because success would mean that government works. And that's the last thing conservatives want. They want to destroy government to shrink government. They want to reduce it to the size where it can drown in the bathtub.

That's why I think the massive fraud taking place at FEMA is emblematic. FEMA used to be a model operation in the 1990s under Bill Clinton and James Lee WItt. Then the Bush Administration hired a bunch of people who weren't all that interested in effective management or serious policy, and everyone's eyes went off the ball. Indeed fraud on that scale HELPS the conservative ideology. Bad government means an outcry for LESS government, in their view.

That's why I've taken to calling the Party the RepubliWON'Ts because they simply refuse to govern in a way that would responsibly help Americans get to where they might want to go. There's a pointless debate in the Senate right now where they actually might get an anti-flag-burning amendment through the chamber. Only three countries on Earth have such an amendment (Cuba, China, and Iran), and furthermore this is a non-existent problem. There's a debate on Iraq, scheduled for tomorrow in the House, where the Majority Leader is telling his party to emphasize 9-11 and call your opponent "weak" and "conceding defeat on the battlefield." These are misleading and false choices, and they have nothing to do with the current policy and how it has proven unacceptable.

But this is the level of debate when you have a majority party that just refuses to govern.


Co-Opted in Record Time

I like Sen. Obama, and a couple positions he's boldly advocated - like an Office of Public Integrity to oversee Senate corruption, and his health care-for-alternative energy horse trade - showed a new way to boldly solve problems. But this article in The Nation by David Sirota shows a lot of same-old same-old in his approach. Obama doesn't want to upset the apple cart, but work within the system. And I've never seen a Senator downplay expectations more; every other word out of his mouth is "there's only so much I can do."

Joan Claybrook, president of the consumer watchdog group Public Citizen, tells the story of how, after Obama voted for the class-action bill, he attended a meeting of public-interest groups. "We were worried about what his vote indicated about him for the future," she said. "And he told us, 'Sometimes you have to trim your sails.' And I asked myself, Trim your sails for what? You just got elected by a wide margin--what are you trimming your sails for?"

In a Senate where even primary losers might get backing as long as they're in the incumbent club, Obama was supposed to be something different. But he put on that metaphorical gray hair and the paunch awful quick, didn't he?

Read the whole thing. One thing Sirota told me when I met him at YearlyKos, right after Jon Tester cruised to victory in the Democratic primary in Montana, was that "Two people are frightened by the Tester victory. Conrad Burns, and Max Baucus." Baucus is the centrist, DLC technocrat who sees his style of politics threatened by the hard-charging organic farmer and all-around regular person Jon Tester. I can assure you that Barack Obama isn't striking any similar fear in the hearts of anyone right now. He's as DC-ready as they come.

It doesn't mean he's not a good liberal, or even a good Presidential candidate. It's that he feels constrained by things that aren't actually constraints. He doesn't believe in the power of change. At least not right now.


Mickey Worm

Mickey Kaus, still in the running for dumbest man walking upright, gets all snippy because top bloggers are passing him by (no link as he's not worth it):

I rag on Markos Moulitsas for his 2004 "screw them" comment about the four American security contractors killed in Fallujah. That comment was more offensive than anything Ann Coulter's book is currently being criticized for. But I have to say that just as Coulter's comments become much less shocking when read in context (Chapter 4 of Godless, criticizing the press canonization of four highly political, pro-Kerry 9/11 widows), Moulitsas' comment also becomes more understandable when you read it on its original page, which is here [search for "screw"]. As his subsequent childhood-blaming non-apology apology makes clear, he thinks he's making a distinction between Americans who are "trying to help the people make Iraq a better place" and mercenaries who voluntarily accept risk in exchange for cash [...]

Yet Tim Russert and the rest of the MSM are falling over themselves giving respect to Kos. Is this due to a) liberal bias or b) Kos' seemingly determined Graydon-Carteresque attempt to make himself presentable** and join the club [$] he's been attacking? I suspect (b). Coulter would be on Meet the Press too if she decided to tone herself down. [But she wouldn't have gotten famous in the first place if she'd toned herself down--ed. Right. It's all in the timing!] ...

1,000,000 words over four years, probably more, and the right (not just Mick but others) still can't find anything more than those two - screw them - to use as ammo.

Mickey Kaus is a self-loathing fool who desperately wants to be famous but is so wracked with jealousy about those more talented around him in Hollywood every day that he's decided to hate their politics because (a) it makes him popular with the conservosphere, gaining the "ain't I cool" status he could never get for his banalities elsewhere, and (b) it makes his low-rent North Hollywood shittiest-condo-in-the-world (ever see the white-plaster backdrop on his gig?) life somehow bearable.

Ever served in a forward area, Mick? Ever spoken to a soldier? Because Kos was one, and he actually has an insight into how the military feels about trained killers who don't follow their rules and make their jobs impossible. Mercenaries have gone a long way into destroying whatever is left of a victory strategy in this war. The whole random shooting at civilians and making trophy videos about it doesn't do much to win hearts and minds. They exist outside the law, they don't give a crap who wins or loses, their harm is well-documented throughout human history, and they undermine the war effort.

This guy's a lout and a gossip-monger, who actually thinks Patrick Healy's ridiculous story on the Clinton marriage was a good thing because it was widely read (he's from the "as long as they're talking about it" school of the tabloidization of pretty much everything, which makes sense, because he doesn't give a shit about anything real). He lost his influence about four years ago and he now seeks to make outrageous statements ("We need MORE surveillance") in a futile attempt to get somebody to pay attention to him. Sorry you weren't on MTP, Mickey. Sorry your opinions are stale and vomitous. Sorry about your penis.


Going After the Big Guns

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is fighting back against charges from Team Ford:

Washington-The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) issued the following statement in response to Harold Ford's "unofficial" blog's preposterous charge the NRSC is "lying" about Ford's liberal record:

"Congressman Ford has realized his record is too liberal to win statewide in Tennessee and thus his minions have resorted to calling those who bring attention to it 'liars.' Whether he is proud of it or not, Mr. Ford's record is what it is, one well suited for a Memphis congressional district or statewide in Massachusetts, just not for Tennessee," said NRSC spokesman Dan Ronayne. "It is unlikely Tennesseans will be electing someone to the left of Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton no matter how loudly and falsely Ford and his allies object."

"Team Ford" is a 19 year-old blogger who has put up a blog but has nothing to do with the Ford campaign.

The NRSC must be very nervous about this race. A couple months ago they put up the "Fancy Ford" website, and now they feel the need to respond to the blogs of teenagers. They must have some poll data the rest of us aren't privy to. Touchy, touchy.

UPDATE: Maybe the NRSC read this Zogby poll.


A Plan

The myth that Demcorats don't have an agenda should be all but destroyed by now:

Democratic House and Senate leaders are planning to reduce the cost of student loans and prescription drugs, raise the minimum wage and launch an effort to develop alternative fuels if they win back control of Congress.

In an interview Tuesday with USA TODAY, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi previewed the "New Direction for America" platform hammered out by Democratic members of Congress, mayors and governors. She and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid plan to formally unveil the plan today.

"The American people need to know, if you win, what are your priorities," she said. Reid said the party is standing "with the people we have always stood with: seniors, students and the hardworking families of America. We intend to tackle the issues that matter most."

The main points of the plan include:

1) increasing the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour: This is a no-brainer. The minimum wage hasn't budged since 1997. This raises revenue for the federal government and Social Security while improving the lives of many people. And it's not a job killer, that's documented.

2) allowing the government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies: Again, no-brainer. This was the worst provision of the 2003 Medicare bill, which subverted the free market by denying the ability of the federal government to leverage their mass buying power.

3) Cut student-loan interest rates in half: I know people in their mid-30s who are still paying off student loans. Many of them are predatory. The last thing we should be doing in a knowledge economy is making it harder for people to go to college. And student loan companies can absolutely make a very good living lending at 3% instead of 6.8%. The government has a vested interest in a well-informed citizenry. Education is a jobs program, as the President has said. This would be an investment in education without stalling free enterprise.

4) Enacting all the 9/11 Commission recommendations: this includes fully fiunding port, chemical and airport security. It's the difference between talking about protecting the homeland and actually doing it. The gaps in our homeland security are staggering. Another Star Wars program that doesn't work is useless compared to inspecting every container that arrives on our shores.

5) Cutting tax breaks and subsidies for oil companies (you know, the richest companies in all of human history) and moving some of that money into developing alternative energy strategies: Volvo just came out with a car that runs on five fuels. Brazil is almost entirely oil-independent thanks to ethanol production from sugarcane. There is no reason we can't innovate our way to success in reducing oil imports, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and stopping global warming. Killing the electric car notwithstanding, I think the government has a lot to offer the automakers as incentives for them to invest heavily in producing alternative-fuel vehicles. This is particularly true with health care incentives (like Senator Obama's proposal). We can start a Manhattan Project for Energy and lick this problem in 10 years if provided the political will.

I would add to this list Sen. Reid's proposal, the only actual news to come out of YearlyKos, to verify intelligence about Iran with stiffer reporting requirements and stronger oversight.

Reid's proposed bill, called the Iran Intelligence Oversight Act, would require an updated national intelligence estimate on Iran, with an unclassified summary made public.

It also would require President Bush to report to Congress on his objectives and strategies for Iran.

The administration's national intelligence director also would have to show Congress that he has a process in place for reviewing administration officials' statements and ensuring they are consistent with the work of professional intelligence analysts.

"Everything they say will have to be supported by facts," Reid said. "I have no doubt the White House won't like this requirement, but after what happened in Iraq, the American people deserve nothing less."

These are real solutions and real plans that understand government exists to provide its citizens with the ability to succeed equally. At least one Republican understands that putting our plan side-by-side with their plan looks pretty good for the Democrats:

Ex-House majority leader Dick Armey, a 1994 contract author, says his former colleagues "need to do some serious substantive legislation" to improve their electoral chances. Armey, a conservative Republican, says his GOP colleagues are "wasting time" debating constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage and flag burning. "They're not doing real work. They're making political statements," he says.

So Karl Rove can continue impugning soldiers (and there's around 50 Democratic veterans challenging sitting members of Congress in November, so he'll be busy) and fearmongering on terror and taxes and gay people and brown people, but we've got a plan. And we're not putting up with the crap anymore.


It Just Hasn't Been Tried.

Josh Marshall has an important point, based off of a couple articles he read, and something I've seen floating around for quite a while. Clearly the conservatives are going to try and jettison themselves of the unpopular President and his unpopular policies for the sake of the conservative movement. Of course, at this point, the question is "what's left saving" in the conservative movement at all?

I am starting to believe that conservatism itself -- not the political machine, mind you, but the ideology -- is heading toward that misty land-over-the-ocean where ideologies go after they've shuffled off this mortal coil. Sort of like the way post-Stalinist lefties used to say, "You can't say Communism's failed. It's just never really been tried." [...]

What we appear to be in for now is the emergence of this phantom conservatism existing out in the ether, wholly cut loose from any connection to the actual people who are universally identified as the conservatives and who claim the label for themselves.

In other words, conservatives talk a good game but don't back it up with anything substantial. In fact, they actually frequently do the OPPOSITE of what they claim to be their core beliefs. For example, Republicans in the White House have consistently increased the size of government and ballooned deficit spending while in office for the last 25 years. Yet deficit reduction and smaller government are at the core of conservative ideology, supposedly.

For those of us who pay attention to this kinds of things, this is emblematic of a say-one-thing, do-another strategy that has been around the conservative movement for decades. Josh looks at what they've actually done:

Take the movement on its own terms and even be generous about it. What's it about? And has it delivered?

Aggressive defense policy? Check.

Privatization of government services? Check.

Regulatory regimes favoring big business? Check.

Government support for traditional mores and values on sex and marriage? Check.

That about covers it. And Bush has delivered. The results just aren't good.

The reason that, despite all the institutional supports, a friendly media structure, and a beleagured and frequently incompetent opponent in the Democrats, Republicans only win by the thinnest of majorities is because their results, the production and output they've given to the American people, is unpopular. They win on a "the other side would be worse" strategy. You saw it in force at Bush's press conference today. His answer to how he was going to help beat the Democrats in November was "they want to cut and run in Iraq, and they want to raise your taxes." There's no mention of the actual policies they've implemented, for which the American people are at best annoyed and at worst deeply angry. The media likes to ask if Democrats have a plan, and really that talk should be reserved for the Republicans.

Movement conservatives would tell you that there hasn't been any REAL conservatism, for whatever reason: the Democrats won't let it happen, the country isn't ready, etc. But actually, there has been. And those conservative policies, which have rewarded corporations, which have squeezed the middle class, which have lifted regulatory efforts, aren't popular. Bush today said "we have a record to run on." I wish they would run on it. They'd be slaughtered.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Fuzzy Math

Three years ago, Fox News anchor Brit Hume said Iraq was safer than California because less Americans died in a certain period in Iraq than in the Golden State, and both are roughly the same size. Of course, there were 30 million-plus Americans in California and 130,000 in Iraq at the time, but who's counting.

Republican Representative Steve King of Iowa must have gone to The Brit Hume School for Advanced Mathematics:

27.51 Iraqis per 100,000 die a violent death on an annual basis. 27.51. Now what does that mean? To me, it really doesn’t mean a lot until I compare it to people that I know or have a feel for the rhythm of this place. Well I by now have a feel for the rhythm of this place called Washington, D.C., and my wife lives here with me, and I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, she’s at far greater risk being a civilian in Washington, D.C. than an average civilian in Iraq. 45 out of every 100,000 Washington, D.C. regular residents die a violent death on an annual basis.

First of all, the figures are wrong. DC's casualty rates are lower, more like 35 per 100,000. Second, King uses the stats for ALL of Iraq (including the semi-autonomous and relatively quiet north) and compares them to the stats of one poor urban area. If we use the only city of comparable size in Iraq, Baghdad, we'd see that the murder rate there is 95 per 100,000. And that seems low considering there were 6,000 violent deaths in Baghdad already this year as of the end of May.

For some reason, the President manages to fly into Washington DC with the landing on every public schedule released everywhere, yet can't tell a soul that he's showing up in Baghdad, including the Prime Minister, who didn't know until 5 minutes before their meeting. Guess Mr. Bush needs a math course from Mr. King, it'd save him a lot of trouble and worry and secret scheduling. He could fly Delta!


Jim Webb

Ladies and gentlemen, the next senator from the state of Virginia.

I've heard more than a couple people worried because Webb has conservative credentials and was Reagan's Navy Secretary. I think the Democratic Party has to be a big tent and welcoming of those who are disgusted with where the Republicans have taken that party. I can assure you that the GOP doesn't turn away any disaffected liberals. Webb is an absolute nightmare for George Allen, who simply wanted to coast to victory and run for President in 2008. He's been quoted as hating to be a Senator. Well, we'd like to accomodate him.

Larry Sabato gets it:

"Allen fears Webb. And he ought to," Sabato said. "Webb has some conservative positions and a conservative background in some ways, but he is staunchly anti-Iraq war. He's got military and intellectual credentials that make George Allen wilt."

In two straight Democratic primaries now, the netroots-favored candidate has beaten the more establishment, DC-backed candidate. What's Joe Lieberman thinking right now?


Leave None to Tell the Story

I'm not above making fun of people. Actually I do it for sport. So I know that if you are going to mock someone there ought to be some reason for your mockery. Something beyond "I don't like them."

I bring you this site, wherein the author attempts to write a poor man's Onion but ends up writing a vacuous, oversexed, and puerile series of entries that read like they've been cribbed from the back of a bathroom stall. And this entry, approvingly linked by a few buddies, has left me scratching my head. Is it schadenfruede? Reveling in suffering? Or a desire to destroy? What?

You tell me...


From the Daily Kos*:

Hello all... I got to meet a bunch of you during the convention and had a fabulous time. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that it might save my life.

I just got a call that someone "crashed my gate" and drove through my office and my daughter's room. Had we been home I would have been working at my desk, and she would have been sleeping in bed. Instead, I was here, so the family's fine... I can now honestly say "Thank you for everything, YearlyKos."

The backstory here is that ct, or Jeremy, is the DailyKos tech guy. I saw him in Vegas about 3 hours after he heard that this happened. He looked pretty shaken up.

So here's this assclown's reply:

I am not easily moved to tears, but this post had me crying like a baby. Just think... he could have been... and the little ones are safe?... thank God for that!

Kos once saved my life too. I was reading a post about Senator Joseph Lieberman, and it was so dull that I got up to run my head under a cold tap. Just then this assagai comes flying through the window. Zulus! Fuck! If it hadn't been for Kos, I could have wound up in a cooking pot. I'll always be grateful to him for that.

Anyway, so we formed a laager, called for reinforcements and went all Rorke's Drift on their arses, and it all ended happily with a glorious slaughter of tribesmen. That was the day Boris Johnsons won the Victoria Cross.

Get it?

I make jokes continually, so I'm pretty up on my joke construction. The joke here appears to be "That guy is inflating the importance of how Kos saved his life, and I know something about British colonialism." Everyone's a comedian, I guess, so good on yer. You really "got" ct there! He's making a mountain out of a molehill! Sure, the crib went flying through the yard, and on any other day the baby would be home with the family and in that crib, but so what?

Actually, the post reveals nothing more than the mind of a pre-adolescent. It was this remark in the comments that truly explains conservative "humor":

2. That Daily Kos type is gonna feel pretty fucking stupid when the guy who missed him first time comes back for the second attempt.

dsquared | 12.06.06 - 8:56 am | #

There's a through-line from Ann Coulter's "Tim McVeigh should have blown up the New York Times building" through to this comment, a through-line often recorded by David Neiwart, complete with eliminationist rhetoric like "Liberal Hunting License," "Liberal target Practice," et al. These are considered jokes on the right, and if you object to them you don't have a sense of humor and are told to "lighten up."

If they actually were jokes, I'd lighten up. I'd like to see in human history the comedy routine that consists of "I don't like you, I should murder you, ha!!" Jonathan Swift comes the closest, I guess, but there is no satire in this joke, no greater point made that the logical consequence of policies against the Irish would be for the poor to eat their own children. Just "wouldn't it be funny if our enemies were dead?"

Furthermore, it's directed at ct, who's an enemy, apparently, merely by ASSOCIATING with those seen as the enemy. He's a tech guy whose house got trashed by a drunk driver. The joke says he deserved it, and wishes for "better luck next time."

This is not a joke. This is the rising tide of eliminationist language that I've seen for a lot of years on the right. It starts as chuckles among unformed or unaware or unprocessed minds, and can quickly metastasize into action. In a metaphorical sense it already has, with the cutthroat way Republicans do business in the political arena. Then it turns into jokes that reflect some wishful rage with a wink and a nod. From there it's just a hop and a skip and a jump to calling Democrats "cockroaches" that need to be "stamped out." And then you've got Radio television libre des mille collines, advising conservatives to "leave none to tell the story."


Diverting Hostile Fire

Here's something that isn't getting NEARLY enough attention. Brownie opened up his email box:

Michael Brown, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Friday that he received the e-mail five days before his resignation from a high-level White House official whom he declined to identify.

The e-mail stated that Bush was relieved that Brown -- and not Bush or Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff -- was bearing the brunt of the flak over the government's handling of Katrina.

The September 2005 e-mail reads: "I did hear of one reference to you, at the Cabinet meeting yesterday. I wasn't there, but I heard someone commented that the press was sure beating up on Mike Brown, to which the president replied, 'I'd rather they beat up on him than me or Chertoff.' "

The sender adds, "Congratulations on doing a great job of diverting hostile fire away from the leader."

The White House is denying the authenticity of the email, and CNN won't verify it either, other than saying the email address came from, which stands for Executive Office of the President. But did anyone check the KERNING!!!??? .

But this is consistent with the scapegoat and fall guy approach of this administration. They jettison people like Brownie and John Snow and Paul O'Neill rather than taking responsibility for their actions. They are supposed to be the party of personal responsibility, but they are the party of "Blame Somebody Else First." And in fact they appreciate the loyalty of those who take the fall.

"Diverting hostile fire" is apt. None of these guys have ever been in a firefight in their lives. Cowards.


On Critical Thinking

Today's announcement by Karl Rove's lawyer that Rove will not be charged in the CIA leak investigation is a real David St. Hubbins moment for the blogosphere.

"I believe virtually everything I read, and I think that makes me a more selective person."

Jason Leopold was either burned by sources or wished something were so, and his printing of an imminent indictment story harmed the blogs. Only it really didn't. Truthout has been around longer than the blogs, it's more of a straight news operation the likes of Zmag or Indymedia or other leftist alternative media sites that have little connection to the people-powered movement on the left that began four years ago. As Markos says:

I hope this serves a lesson to all of you who link to crap internet sources like Jason Leopold merely because they write what you want to hear...

This is the reality based community, not the "make up your own reality" community. Conservatives already own the trademark to that name.

Be properly skeptical of everything you read. Even on this site. And if I use blind sources, which I'm apt to do every once in a while, be particularly skeptical. I won't be offended.

Most were properly skeptical about the Leopold story. Some were not.

A few are properly skeptical about this being the dead-solid end of the Karl Rove story. If we can't accept one biased source in Leopold, we shouldn't close the book with another biased source in Luskin. Pat Fitzgerald has not released a statement and may not. Still, those who have followed the case the closest have some interesting things to say. Like Christy Hardin Smith at Firedoglake:

I’ve said this before, and I will say it again: unless and until I hear it from Patrick Fitzgerald, the investigation continues to be ongoing. Which means that there are still potential developments down the road, should the evidence (like handwritten marching orders on the Wilson op-ed in Dick Cheney’s handwriting) lead there.

And I’ve also said this, and it is worth a reminder: Patrick Fitzgerald and his team are career professionals. You do not charge someone with a criminal indictment merely because they are scum. You have to have the evidence to back up any charges — not just that may indicate that something may have happened, but you must have evidence that criminal conduct occurred and that you can prove it. You charge the evidence you have, you try the case you can make, and you don’t go down a road that will ultimately be a waste of the public’s money and time once you have ascertained that the case is simply not there. It doesn’t mean that you don’t think the SOB that you can’t charge isn’t a weasel or guilty as hell, it just means that you can’t prove it. (And, fwiw, those times are the worst of your career, because you truly hate to let someone go when you know in your gut they’ve done something wrong.)

Jeralyn has been saying all along that she thinks that Rove cut some sort of cooperation deal. I really want to see whatever wording was in (Luskin’s words) the letter from Fitzgerald before I get too far down this road on the what’s going on speculation. And I’m hoping that some enterprising reporter…cough…Murray…cough…will get the scoop on just what IS going on with all of this.

The evidence in the case has been leading down a hallway to the Vice President's office lately, particularly the appearance of the New York Times op-ed. Emptywheel, who knows more than God about this case and is a really sweet person to boot, had this speculation (which you notice she calls speculation):

When those of us on the Plame panel got to know each other over the weekend, sitting at the pool so Joe Wilson and Larry Johnson could smoke their stogies, someone (it was probably me, but my sleep-deprived memories of this weekend are hazy) asked who thought Karl Rove was cooperating with the investigation. Two and two halves of us raised our hands. (And I'm not sure whether the last member of the panel had shown up yet, so that may well have been half of us.)

I was one of those who raised her hand halfway. My logic is this:

Dick Cheney is dragging down the White House. He is largely responsible for the mess in Iraq. He is trying to sabotage any attempts to negotiate honestly with Iran. And he is exposing everyone in the Administration to some serious legal jeopardy, in the event they ever lose control of courts. At some point, Dick Cheney's authoritarianism will doom Bush's legacy.

But you can't make him quit. His is a Constitutional office, he was elected along with Bush, so you can't make him resign like you can with your Treasury Secretary or your Environmental Secretary. What better way to get rid of him, then, than to expose him to legal proceedings? It gives you the ability (farcical, but no matter) to say that you have severed all ties with his policies and legacies.

You should read the whole thing if you want to understand her thought process. This is a teachable moment for the blogosphere. We have a duty to contextualize and analyze rather than simply report the press release. There's a responsibility that comes with visibility.

Fitzgerald hasn't said a peep, and this is not over until he does. Until then, critical thinkers must continue to think critically.


Ain't That America

Here's an example of how actions have consequences. In 2003 the President phased out the COPS program that Bill Clinton used to put 100,000 more law enforcement officials on the streets and reduce crime to historic lows. Two years later, in 2005, violent crime shoots up, with murders up 4.8%.

You would think the first article, about the dropping of the COPS program, would get mentioned in the second. You would be wrong. There's a brief mention of "crime reduction efforts" in the 1990s, but not what they were, and certainly not that they were eliminated. The writer had no interest in contextualizing the news, just reporting it. You also would be wrong if you assumed that the increasing disparity in incomes, and the rise in poverty, which is a major factor in violent crimes, would get a mention.

Nope, just the numbers, and a couple flacks pooh-poohing the trend, saying "things fluctuate, like the stock market."

James Alan Fox, a professor of criminal justice at Northeastern University, said that after the sharp decreases during the 1990's, the crime rate over all from 2000 to 2004 was "essentially flat." (Yes, and what happened after that? -ed.)

"We squeezed all the air out of the balloon after having seven good years of crime decline," Mr. Fox said. "That ended when the 1990's ended. Now the challenge isn't so much to make the crime rate go down more, because that's not necessarily realistic, but the challenge is to make sure that the small blip doesn't become a big one."

Apparently criminals start fresh at the beginning of every decade, according to this guy.

Rumsfeld certainly started a trend among these kind of folks with his "stuff happens" comment, didn't he?


Monday, June 12, 2006

Things besides YearlyKos happened last week

...and I'm only beginning to figure that out. Here's a sample:

-As the Net Neutrality debate moves to the Senate, Josh Marshall is collecting votes, finding out where every Senator stands on the issue, and particularly S. 2917, the Byron Dorgan/Olympia Snowe Internet Freedom Preservation Act. Already he's learned that Inouye, Boxer, Clinton, Obama, Wyden, Kerry, Dodd, Lieberman, and Reid support the bill. I hope Marshall does for this what he did for the Social Security debate last year. Bottom line, there should not be a two-tiered Internet, a fast one for rich websites and a slow one for poor ones. This legislation would create online the same disparities that exist in the real world.

Craigslist founder Craig Newmark had a good op-ed on this, on CNN.

-There's a children's video game where Christian soldiers "convert or kill" citizens of New York while shouting "Praise the Lord." And as much as it's a byproduct of the eliminationist rhetoric of the far-right, it has extensive ties to "The Purpose-Driven Life" pastor Rick Warren and Left Behind creator Tim LaHaye. In facy, it's a real-time strategy version of the Left Behind series.

To be fair, the children that play the game CAN switch sides and be the forces of the AntiChrist and kill conservative Christians. I mean, it's not like they're TOTALLY nuts. As blogger Jonathan Huston says:

Comparisons to Grand Theft Auto and other such video game titles are irrelevant to this discussion. It is not the level of violence that is at issue, but the Christian supremacy. This game immerses children in an environment that copies present-day New York, and indoctrinates and rehearses children in the mass killing of New Yorkers. This is religious indoctrination that forms children's identities and teaches that they must be prepared to do a deadly deed to defend their creed. That message is unAmerican and unChristian; patriots and Christians alike should oppose this game.

-Forgot to post this from Vegas:

-Reading the conservative blogosphere opinion on the YearlyKos event, I'd say that they're missing the boat. This could be good for them, and anyone who wants to have citizens reclaim the political process. Unless they realize that if that happens, Democrats will prevail since the history of America is a history of movement towards progressivism and expansion of rights.

-Texas Democrats are trying to force Tom DeLay's name onto the November ballot.

The suit, filed in Travis County 126th District Court, seeks to undo an hours-old declaration by Republican Party Chair Tina Benkiser that DeLay is ineligible to run in the general election.

If DeLay doesn’t serve as the party’s candidate for Congressional District 22, then according to the Texas Election Code, no other candidate is allowed to replace him, the suit says.

DeLay, who won the primary, is trying to slink away on a technicality. There's no problem with calling him on that.

-3 inmates hang themselves at Guantanamo. This will happen with increasing regularity until the camp is closed. Which it ought to be, and everyone within ought to be charged with a crime if you want to maintain the rule of law in this country.

-"Gay marriage is the most important issue facing the country," says David Vitter, the Republican Senator from Louisiana, who represents the people of New Orleans.


Good Lord

I can't seem to get anything done, so freighted am I with reading events recalling the aftermath of YearlyKos. It'll be a slow blogging day. I'm also completely tired.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Pick Up Your Washington Post

I'm motherfucking famous.

That, said many of those in attendance, explains the contempt with which net-roots activists hold Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.), whom they see as having gone out of his way to support Bush and to criticize Democrats on the Iraq war and other issues. A popular button here showed Bush and Lieberman in near-embrace with the words "The Kiss," and Lieberman's primary challenger, Ned Lamont, has become a darling of the net-roots activists.

But Dave Dayen, a comedian and activist, said the net-roots activists are genuinely pragmatic in evaluating candidates, particularly those in heavily Republican states. He noted that Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) is as conservative as Lieberman but has not been targeted by bloggers. "We understand regional realities," he said.

My blog post on the Nelson/Lieberman divide here.