Friday, February 17, 2006

The Acts Of A True Patriot

I had a big disagreement with Russ Feingold a little while ago over his vote to confirm John Roberts as Chief Justice for the Supreme Court, but he quickly recovered by standing tall during the Alito confirmation circus by supporting the filibuster AND voting against confirmation. Also, he is the only senator to vote against confirming the Patriot Act.

I’ll repeat that because it’s so unbelievable when you really think about it; he is the only senator to vote against confirming the Patriot Act.

I believe that it is important to highlight this because, apparently, Arlen Specter (the bill’s sponsor and a guy who has made a career out of pretending to be a moderate while siding with his right-wing Repug party membership on EVERY SINGLE OCCASION – remember how “inviolable” Roe v. Wade was supposed to be to him before he helped confirm Alito?) now has the 60 votes required to overcome Feingold’s courageous filibuster (my God, someone in Congress actually trying to protect civil liberties...what a “pre-9/11” mindset, huh?). As this story notes, though, Feingold is doing everything in his power to gut this ruinous piece of legislation.

You may wonder why Feingold has maintained such a principled opposition. I think this speech shortly after the infamous terrorist attacks in 2001 explains a lot, particularly this highlighted passage (the fact that we’re considering this as the holiday for George Washington and, especially, Abraham Lincoln nears is particularly ironic to me):

During those first few hours after the attacks, I kept remembering a sentence from a case I had studied in law school. Not surprisingly, I didn’t remember which case it was, who wrote the opinion, or what it was about, but I did remember these words: “While the Constitution protects against invasions of individual rights, it is not a suicide pact.” I took these words as a challenge to my concerns about civil liberties at such a momentous time in our history; that we must be careful to not take civil liberties so literally that we allow ourselves to be destroyed.

But upon reviewing the case itself, Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, I found that Justice Arthur Goldberg had made this statement but then ruled in favor of the civil liberties position in the case, which was about draft evasion. He elaborated:

“It is fundamental that the great powers of Congress to conduct war and to regulate the Nation’s foreign relations are subject to the constitutional requirements of due process. The imperative necessity for safeguarding these rights to procedural due process under the gravest of emergencies has existed throughout our constitutional history, for it is then, under the pressing exigencies of crisis, that there is the greatest temptation to dispense with fundamental constitutional guarantees which, it is feared, will inhibit governmental action. “The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances.... In no other way can we transmit to posterity unimpaired the blessings of liberty, consecrated by the sacrifices of the Revolution.”

Protecting the safety of the American people is a solemn duty of the Congress; we must work tirelessly to prevent more tragedies like the devastating attacks of September 11th. We must prevent more children from losing their mothers, more wives from losing their husbands, and more firefighters from losing their brave and heroic colleagues. But the Congress will fulfill its duty only when it protects both the American people and the freedoms at the foundation of American society. So let us preserve our heritage of basic rights. Let us practice that liberty. And let us fight to maintain that freedom that we call America.
So now, barring the success of any more of Feingold's heroic efforts, Frist and his fellow Repugs can railroad this awful act through Congress and claim victory.

Well, if I had the opportunity to contact any of those clowns who support this, I would ask them to read the highlighted text of this post aloud and see what happens.

I’m sure Specter’s eyes would glaze over, because his actions communicate to me that he doesn’t understand what all of this means any more. Frist would probably choke, since the words of free, peace-loving people who cherish their liberties, aspire to equality for all and seek no quarrel with others unless provoked would no doubt turn into poison in his mouth.

Now I'm Confused

Not a banner day for our side today, citizens (local PA politics)...

So let me try to get this straight…

Ginny Schrader is dropping out of the PA State Senate race against a Repug other than Joe Conti for “personal reasons,” but instead is going to be “a co-chairwoman” of the Andy Warren campaign, he being one of the candidates for the Democratic nomination to run against Repug Mike Fitzpatrick for the incumbent’s U.S. House seat?

This is bad on so many levels that I’m not sure I can describe them all (J.D. Mullane has probably been assaulting his keyboard in a fit of orgiastic ecstasy for hours now writing his new upcoming “attack” column over it).

So Schrader is going to bail out of a PA state senate campaign for what is, in effect, a vacant seat against an unnamed Repug challenger (possibly Chuck McIlhenny) to be a co-head of a primary campaign for a man who was a Republican until last year and who, barring something akin to a nuclear holocaust, will be defeated by Patrick Murphy in the primary? For “personal reasons”?

Ginny, I would say that, for “personal reasons,” any kind of a career you may have been planning in public life, as a result of this turn of events, has now been effectively flushed down the toilet. Considering that this has come on the heels of two failed U.S. House campaigns and your committal to a third before bowing out, I can’t see how you or anyone else can expect to overcome this.

I don’t know if you can recover, and frankly, I’m not sure if you should be allowed to.

A "Libtard" Request

Out of the same sick sense of curiosity one feels when viewing gnarled steel and broken glass on a highway after a traffic accident (and hopefully everyone involved in it up and moving around reasonably well), I opted to read a very small bit of a screed by right-wing icon Michael Reagan that appeared in (where else) The Bucks County Courier Times this morning. The part I focused on was the very end where Reagan said, in effect, that liberals calling the vice president’s recent hunting accident “Cheney’s Chappaquiddick” should stop it, seeing as how Mary Jo Kopechne actually died all those years ago, and Harry Whittington, fortunately, was released from the hospital today.

Reagan HAS TO BE making that up, I thought to myself. There’s no way that a comparison between those two events could be drawn by anyone but a Repug sympathizer looking for pity and a reason to blame the opposition both at once.

Well, just to make sure, I did a Google search to confirm my brilliant theory before I wrote this.

Oops (I stopped counting the number of hits I got with that phrase at 40…I’m sure it was substantially more, with the most prominent offender being R.J. Eskow of The Huffington Post).

To anyone out there who may be reading this who is or would be a guilty party to this, I have a simple favor to ask:

KNOCK IT OFF!!! (It totally sickens me to have to actually agree with Reagan.)

(I mean, I give Eskow credit for digging into the angles of the story regarding alcohol and some of the “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” stuff surrounding Cheney and Whittington’s female companions, but to compare this to Chappy is ridiculous for the simple reason that CHENEY, WHITTINGTON, AND EVERYONE ELSE SURVIVED.)

Aside from the reason I mentioned above (Ted K./Dead Person vs. Cheney/Living But Dangerously Injured One), this shouldn’t happen because, when we make these stupid comparisons, all we do is give ammunition (so to speak) to the other side. And believe me when I tell you that it would make me VERY HAPPY to NEVER HAVE TO BE REMINDED OF CHAPPAQUIDDICK AGAIN BY A REPUG OR ONE OF THEIR SYMPATHIZERS.

(I swear, I once worked with a man in his 50s in the Chester County, PA area who had a pacemaker and just about went into convulsions when you mentioned that particular “C” word to him since he despised Ted Kennedy so thoroughly…yes, it was terrible, but the unfortunate fact is that people in power do these things and cover them up; we don’t have to like it, but merely act like adults and acknowledge the reality – protest as much as we reasonably can and then LET IT REST, FOR GOD’s SAKE!). And for a liberal/progressive/Democrat/whatever to bring this kind of heaping abuse on oneself by casually inviting this comparison is something that I would consider an act of narcissistic lunacy.

Hey, I’m laughing at the Cheney jokes as loudly as anyone, especially now that Harry Whittington is going home, as I mentioned. But is it asking too much to know where to draw the line?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

We'd Be In Deep Ship

You know something is up when a group of senators that includes both Frank Lautenberg and Tom Coburn are on the same page about a particular issue, and that is the case with this story.

Oh, but the Saudis are such nice guys, aren’t they? They're our buddies. Why, we can trust them to make sure container traffic from Dubai Port World doesn’t contain nuclear material or massive amounts of chemical toxins that can be unleashed as part of a terrorist plot, right?

Just keep something else in mind, if you would; as noted in this story about British national William Robb (have to scroll down a bit), we don’t have an extradition treaty with Dubai, so if these terrorist cowards ever attack us again and then go to that country for refuge, we can’t get them (not “officially” anyway).

I would also ask that you remember this (according to AFSCME, concerning Bush’s 2006 budget):

Homeland Security: The President does not spare the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from inflation-adjusted budget cuts. The overall DHS budget is increased only one percent. On the positive side, the President's budget improves spending to protect public and private infrastructure, such as transit, ports and chemical plants, by about $300 million. However, these improvements are made at the expense of cuts of about $500 million or 38 percent in first responder grants to state and local governments.
Feel better about our global economy now? Sure you do.

Update 2/17: georgia10 at The Daily Kos has more.

Update 2/21: Tick, tick, tick...

Dems Closing Ranks

Don’t like to write some of this, but…

I almost replied to a post at Brandoland having to do with Paul Hackett’s exit from the Ohio Democratic primary in the election against Repug incumbent Mike DeWine, but I thought it would become really long (we’ll see), so I’m doing so (sort of) here instead.

As noted by Kos from this link, I think the problem was that Hackett waiting too long to announce his candidacy last fall, and that was the first domino, if you will, that fell the wrong way, and Hackett’s pullout this week was the culmination of a bunch of things that didn’t go the way he wanted. As Kos also noted, calling Hackett’s donors and telling them not to contribute is truly ridiculous.

I’m not going to justify that, but I am going to tie in a bit to the Swann/Scranton post below and note that all of these elections are, in large part, a battle to allocate resources as efficiently as possible. It shouldn’t be that way – as many people as possible who meet the candidacy requirements should be allowed into the primaries – but that’s the way it is. That’s why the Repugs here in PA fell in love with Swann so quickly and told Scranton to hit the road.

I do hope, though, that Hackett reconsiders somehow, because I think he’s still an outstanding candidate. I also don’t like to point out anything that can be looked at as negative against him, in part because of his service and also because he’s fundamentally new to this game anyway.

If everyone were to put this episode in the past in as amenable way as possible, that can only help the Democrats. Besides, it sounds like Schumer, Rahm Emanuel, et al were trying to set up Hackett for another go-round against that cowardly stick Jean Schmidt for her U.S. House seat, and a scenario with Sherrod Brown in the Senate and Paul Hackett in the House one day would be a terrific outcome. If all parties can get past the wounded pride and bitter words, that goal can be achieved.

Besides, I believe that in PA, we’re going to be looking at something like a Brown/Hackett scenario, if you will, in the U.S. Senate race against Santorum. As nearly as I can see, Chuck Pennacchio is the better Democratic candidate, and he deserves our support. However, it’s becoming more and more clear that the entire party apparatus will be put to work on behalf of “Sideshow Bob” Casey. I don’t know if that can be overcome, but I’ll be realistic enough to do what little I can for Chuck but prepare myself for the distinct possibility that Casey will be the party standard bearer when all is said and done. There are also three Democratic candidates running against Mike Fitzpatrick for the U.S. House seat, though Patrick Murphy stands as the best one, so I can’t see how we will have any kind of an internal revolt if he eventually gets the nod. However, the goal (and my point) should be that the party emerge from the primary in the best possible shape for the general election in terms of organization, financing, and support of the nominee.

As I pointed out, Hackett is new to all of this, and I sincerely hope he gains an understanding and level of trust with the Democrats once more to the point where he can run again. He offers a lot and could hold a prominent role in a U.S. House with Democrats in charge as the majority party, working on behalf of a progressive agenda apart from DLC conciliation and totally alien to the corporate playpen that it has become under Republican neglect.

Repugs Closing Ranks

PA politics again (yes - couldn't put it off any more)...

I think we can pretty much say for certain at this point that former Pittsburgh Steeler great Lynn Swann will be the Republican candidate for PA governor in the upcoming election, having won the endorsement of prominent local party bosses and, in the process, freezing out Bill Scranton, the former PA lieutenant governor who was also running for the nomination.

I know it’s always better to have as wide a field of candidates as you can in these primaries, so it’s kind of funny to a point to see each party condemning the other for deciding on an “anointed one” early on at the expense of everyone else in the field. This is because of the simple fact that, as in most things, money (consolidating resources as early as you can to mount as strong of an opposition as possible) will trump any notion of fair play.

So, in the process of accepting the nomination, what does Swann do? Well, for starters (taking a page right from the Repug playbook), he criticizes Rendell for, among other things, failing to provide property tax relief. Swann also criticizes Rendell for “raising every fee you can think of”.

(I know it is completely expected for Swann to totally ignore the fact that Bushco, the corporate Repug office in Washington D.C. to which Swann now reports as a member of the PA subsidiary, has done nothing except generate oceans of red ink while expecting the states to balance their own budgets, and that minor fact may have something to do with Rendell’s alleged across-the-board fee raising as governor of a “blue” state. However, the fact that Swann did that anyway is still amusing.)

Well, maybe Number 88 should give this a read (from the Bucks County Courier Times yesterday):

The state House of Representatives on Tuesday rejected a property-tax cutting bill similar to a version it rejected two months ago, even though Gov. Ed Rendell had urged members to send the bill to his desk. The House’s 197-0 vote to “non-concur” with legislation passed by the Senate set the stage for the creation of a House-Senate conference committee to resolve a lingering stalemate over how, and how much, to reduce a tax that helps finance the cost of public schools. Both Republican and Democratic House leaders expressed hope that the conference committee’s negotiations would produce a final bill that lawmakers can consider next month.
Sounds to me like those jugheads in our state legislature should pull a stick out of somewhere and actually start ACTING ON WHAT RENDELL PROPOSED YEARS AGO!

This, though, points out that Swann’s popularity has leveled off for now against Rendell, and the incumbent governor still leads in the polls, so it may be that the factor of Swann’s name recognition may be wearing off. However, I’m sure this will turn out to be a close race, assuming that Swann emerges as his own man and something more than an East Coast version of “govanah Ahh-nold.”

Oh, and by the way, according to this morning’s Philadelphia Inquirer (and also noted at the Keystone Politics site above), Swann failed to vote in 20 of 36 elections for the senate, the president, and the governor. I would say that this lapse in his civic duty will do absolutely nothing to help him at the polls in November.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Wingnut Fever Dream

I went back and forth about whether I should say something about this Guest Opinion from a man named Dennis Miller (no relation to the once-funny comedian and failed football commentator who is now a right-wing mouthpiece for HBO, presumably to offset Bill Maher I guess), but though I dismissed it at first as utter frothing-at-the-mouth right-wing propaganda, the problem is that he introduces quotes in this screed out of context which necessitates a response. Otherwise, it is one of the most hateful pieces of bile that I have read in the Bucks County Courier Times in a long time.

(On the one hand, I wonder why the hell the paper would print this without at least giving it a thorough copy edit, but on the other hand, maybe printing it warts and all is appropriate given the overall juvenile quality of the work itself.)

(By the way, speaking of Bill Maher, “Real Time” returns for some new shows this Friday on HBO. For anyone who may remember, I used to basically provide a play-by-play of the entire show in the form of a weekly post, but I can’t keep doing that. I’ll try to mention highlights of the episodes this time around instead – sorry, but that’s the best I can do.)

I’ll try to respond in as factual a way as I can to Miller’s fantastic, delusional scenario, but it will be difficult. At any rate, here it is.

Liberal media, politicians hold key to conquering America

In the worlds of business and sports, executives and coaches will attempt to place themselves in their competitors’ position in order to gain a better perspective. Extending this thought to the Iraq war, let’s place ourselves in the position of an al Qaeda commander and see how he views his archenemy – America.
Here’s the first wrong assumption; with that remark, Miller assumes that al Qaeda is some kind of conventional army with conventional soldiers and officers fighting some kind of conventional war the way nation-states used to do quite frequently. Miller also assumes that al Qaeda’s main enemy is this country, which is wrong. Its main enemy is anyone who isn’t them, who thus becomes an infidel to them (including Israel, of course).

Perhaps his comments would sound like this:

“We are fighting a war that we did not plan to fight. Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden told us America is a ‘paper tiger’ and does not have the stomach to fight back. After eight successful attacks that killed hundreds of Americans, we did not feel America would retaliate with a serious counter attack. I guess killing 3,000 innocent people on 9/11 took the paper out of the tiger and hardened the stomach.
In true wingnut form, Miller links Hussein and al Qaeda even though no substantive link between the two has ever been established (and of course, implies that Dubya is a “strong leader” for fighting back). Also, his remark about “eight successful attacks that killed hundreds of Americans” needs to be explained, assuming Miller can do that of course (and how much do you want to bet that the implicit assumption is that the overwhelming majority of these attacks occurred during the Clinton administration, even though arrests were made and convictions obtained for every terrorist attack on the U.S. during his presidency except the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole?.)

“Our mission is clear; our mission is our destiny. We will conquer America, its men, women, and children, and bring them to their knees. Their military may continue to win on the battlefield, but we will make this another Vietnam.
Yes, our fine service people have managed to weed out insurgent strongholds, but the problem is that the terrorists simply move to another location in Iraq when that happens, mainly in the Sunni “golden triangle.” It is a hopeless situation for our people. They were set up to fail by crass, incompetent civilian political leadership that didn’t provide enough of a force to do the job, didn’t secure the borders, and didn’t even bother to provide proper armor for our troops (oh, but the oil ministry was secured PDQ!).

Just as in the 1960s, we will get strength and success from the words and condemnations of liberal politicians and a liberal news media.
You knew it was coming, and here it is.

America fled in shame from Vietnam and their shame will be felt again if they give into liberal pressure to prematurely withdraw from Iraq. America, by itself, will defeat America at home.
Listen, freeper, the person providing the most pressure to get our people the hell out of there is John Murtha, a Democratic U.S. House representative from our own state. To get the first clue about Murtha and his accomplished record of military service, read here. If he’s a “liberal” as defined by you (gutless, cut-and-run, non-committal), then I would suggest that you tell him that, and then expect a visit from him in which he would “dress you down” in the appropriate manner.

“Our spirit will soar and America’s military resolve will crushed (sic) when we replay the scathing words of the prominent men and women who feel that war is not an American alternative. We will trumpet the words of Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic Party, who likens Iraq to Vietnam, when he says he’s ‘seen this before’ and concludes, “The idea that we’re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea that is just plain wrong.’ Ted Kennedy called Vietnam a ‘quagmire’ and uses the same name for Iraq.
That is substantively correct. I should add, though, that it might be a good idea to read this and get some more context about what Kennedy said in particular.

“John Kerry accuses America’s military of ‘terrorizing kids and children’ in Iraq. Thirty-four years ago, he claimed American soldiers had ‘cut off ears, cut off heads’ in Vietnam. Dick Durbin compared American soldiers to the armed forces of Hitler, Josef Stalin, and Cambodia’s Pol Pot.
This is a link to the "Face The Nation" transcript where Kerry made this difficult observation (given the fact that he actually served, I think he can be excused for what some sensitive souls would consider to be a poor choice of words).

This is a link to the Vietnam Veterans Against the War Statement by John Kerry, 1971 to the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations April 23, 1971 (which Kerry was told to give, by the way).

This is a link to Dick Durbin's apology for his remarks, which, as far as I'm concerned, he should not have had to give (the fact that he was utterly browbeaten for what he said is sickening given the fact that Ann Coulter, for example, can advocate violence against people she doesn't like with impunity.)

All of these quotes are attributed properly, to be fair, but context is nowhere to be found. And of course Miller’s argument assumes that our Repug leadership is blameless in conducting the Iraq war, when nothing could be further from the truth. Where is his mention of Abu Ghraib? Where is his mention of the recently released U.N. report on prisoner abuse at Guantanamo (something WE decried as forcefully as we could when we heard about it taking place against our people held captive during Vietnam and other wars – so are we now as bad as enemies we once fought with no regard for international law…and yes, that is important if we’re supposedly fighting a global war)? And by the way, before anyone points out that the U.N. delegation turned down the offer last December to visit Guantanamo, I should point out that the reason they did was because we didn’t give them permission to interview prisoners, so they decided that there’d be no point to it.)
“We will use the words of these four liberal leaders to rally our fighters and embarrass and demoralize America’s military men and women. Their words and their faces will be televised to the world by Al-Jazeera. Once again, America will vanquish America.
Some of these “liberal leaders” actually once served in our armed forces (Kerry, Kennedy, and Murtha, of course), as opposed to the chickenhawk Repugs who have no qualms about sending our kids off to die for their war for blood and oil while their own lives remain comfortable and unthreatened (one day I won’t have to point that out any more, and that can’t come soon enough for me).

“The three major broadcast networks also have a damaging effect on American troops. The programs many Americans watch each night – the CBS Evening News, the NBC Nightly News and ABC’s World Report – are against the war. Only 13 percent of ABC’s stories regarding the war are positive; NBC has 11 percent, and CBS is last at 9 percent.
Please explain to be the basis upon which you decided that these news programs have an anti-war bias. Quantifying that sort of thing is much more difficult than you assume it to be, of course.

“The media claims it shows its support of their troops by daily highlighting the total casualty figure. And yet very, very seldom does it ever mention any heroic acts or the medals and commendations that brave American men and women have earned for exceptional courage, bravery, and valor.
If you or anyone else is willing to provide that information to me, I will publicize it here. I’ve said before MANY TIMES that I really would like to know about what our people are accomplishing over there besides trying to keep from getting killed (infrastructure projects completed, roads or power plants built…that sort of thing), but of course since our reporters are embedded (basically a logical move given the great danger of reporting there), their reporting is heavily filtered also and we either don’t hear about this for security reasons or maybe (likely) because the scenario isn’t as rosy as the “101st Fighting Keyboarders” would have us believe. I've noted in the past, upon occasional visits to the sites of Dr. Kaloogian and his fellow opportunists at Moving America Forward, that I haven't been able to find this information there either.

Oh, and by the way, that begs a good question: What is your record of military service, Mr. Miller? Do you have one? Or are you another one of these “warriors” supporting Dubya by having more “Support Our Troops” decals on your Hummer than any of your neighbors?

“During most of the 1990s, America (sic) policy, when attacked, was appeasement and concession. We would attack and American response was minimal.
More right-wing hammerhead BS without proof – Miller is trying to “speak” through the voice of his theoretical terrorist of course, but the words are his alone.

Now we have a fight on our hands. Let’s hope the American media can convince the American people to cut and run from Iraq.”

The above story is not farfetched.
No, of course not. It’s completely realistic. And I’m excreting solid gold ingots as I read it.

Unfortunately the question is not if (sic) will be attacked again, but when? Bin Laden’s (sic) military commander in Iraq, Musub al-Zarqwai (sic) prophesized, “We will either achieve victory over the human race or we will pass to eternal life.’”
I’m not going to bother to research this quote, because it’s just crazy enough to be true coming from “Zarqwai.”

The philosopher, Edmund Burke once said, “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”
Oh, but “good” people are doing something, Dennis. They’re fighting those chicken pansy liberal Democrats who want all of our troops to get killed so they can crow about Bush failing (and by the way, if Dubya were managing this and other matters so well, somehow I think he would have better than a 39 percent approval rating, with Clinton’s rating at the height of the business with Monica Whatsername hovering around 72 percent).

And one more time now (everybody join in…)

- Iraq didn’t have WMD.
- There was no link to Saddam and 9/11.
- Condoleezza Rice (among others) was engaging in misinformation when she talked about “a mushroom cloud over New York City.”
- Colin Powell was doing the same thing when he talked about sarin being used by Iraq in an attack on the New York subway system.
- We fought the wrong war in the wrong country with no plan for our troops to succeed and no plan to fight the subsequent terrorist activity, which has a hell of a lot to do with the mess we face now, and NO ONE FROM THIS ADMINISTRATION HAS BEEN HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR IT!

Souce: Network news reports on Iraq were analyzed by the Media Research Center between Oct. 1 and Nov. 31, 2005.
A-HA! That explains it. Here’s more information on these characters.

As I pointed out above, the quotes from Miller are substantively correct. However, there is no consideration (nor would I expect there to be in this mess) given for the fact that most television news programs and media outlets generally have skewed conservative in their reporting and choice of panelists and commentators for at least the last five years (a fact borne out more thoroughly by other bloggers at other sites). To say that that filters the content that they provide is ridiculously obvious.

Paul Waldman of Media Matters for America commissioned a study with data to support that conclusion, and the data can be accessed from this link (the study was an analysis of liberal vs. conservative guests appearing on “Meet The Press” over the last ten years, with Waldman’s response to the response by Betty Fischer, a producer of “Meet The Press,” at the top of the post.)

As far as I’m concerned, this is part of a vast body of knowledge to support the fact that what we hear day in and day out is information filtered primarily from a conservative point of view (I can tell you quite plainly that if I didn’t believe that, this blog wouldn’t exist). So, Miller’s rants of the age-old chestnut “liberal bias” are just that – rants and nothing more.

Finally, even though the readership of the Bucks County Courier Times skews conservative anyway of course, I should point out that this morning’s editorial section contained the following feature columnists: Kathryn Jean Lopez of The National Review Online haranguing the late Betty Friedan (nice) and author Judith Warner; Dick Morris with yet another written assault on Hillary Clinton; and Beverly Lahaye, president of the conservative group Concerned Women of America (a lineup which, as far as I’m concerned, echoes Paul Waldman’s “Meet The Press” analysis mentioned earlier).

I guess even a token liberal presence in today’s Courier Times was too much to ask. Oh well.

Update: I realize a sophisticated, all-knowing conservative like Miller would NEVER believe a godless commie liberal like Trudy Rubin (registration required), but maybe Miller could actually try listening to Paul Pillar (story explains who he is) and find a clue.

"Double Plus Good, That!"

Somehow, I don't think George Orwell realized quite how prophetic he would be.

It turns out that our esteemed Congress is going to turn a blind eye to Dubya's domestic spying in their ongoing effort to invalidate the U.S. Constitution.

I have only one question in response to that. Would you like your Victory Gin for here or to go?

The blogger georgia10 over at The Daily Kos was quite rightly in a fit over this yesterday. Given that, I think the typos should be excused (along with some typical freeper taunts in the I've said, the right-wing sites and their slavish followers are basically a distraction, and if they ever provide something close to an informed opinion about something, it is nothing more than an accident.)

Update 1 2/15: Glenn Greenwald provides an outstanding analysis on this entire situation.

Update 2 2/15: And why stop at illegal spying, by the way? Why not try to totally squash dissent while you're at it?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Tuesday Stuff

- I added Glenn Greenwald’s great blog “Unclaimed Territory” under “What Doomsy Reads” in the right column. I’d been meaning to do that for a little while, but his post today (hat tip to Atrios) finally made me do it, because he calls out Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds for not condemning (at first) the latest barbaric remarks from Ann Coulter.

The response from Reynolds is hypocritical in the extreme, as per usual, with Greenwald making the excellent point that Ward Churchill, a bogeyman for the right-wing zanies cited by Reynolds, is a fringe type at best, though Churchill is commonly associated with liberals by Reynolds and his followers. Reynolds frequently calls on lefty bloggers to disavow him, but he had to be dragged kicking and screaming to do that in a very tame way to Coulter, who is infinitely more important to her followers than Churchill is to any he may have on the left.

(By the way, apparently Churchill has written that many of the people killed on 9/11 were not innocent civilians, and I categorically repudiate that. However, though such a notion disgusts me, I respect the fact that Churchill has a right to his opinion, as well as his pungent “little Eichmanns” remark.)

Update 2/15: Sounds like Coulter has more of a problem than just her noxious words for a change (hat tip to Atrios).

- This is a great summary of the story of Paul Hackett dropping out of the running for the Democratic Party nomination in the Ohio Senate election by Kos, who I believe would know about it better than anyone. I read the CNN story, but aside from the spin that somehow Hackett got hosed by Charles Schumer, I would listen to Kos and ignore “our MSM cousin” on this one (I’m not happy with Schumer for making sure we in PA got stuck with Bob “Not Santorum” Casey, but I don't think he can be blamed this time around).

Maybe It Wasn't An Accident

I got a lead on this from The New York Post, of all places, and I thought I should follow up. I’m glad I did.

Others have noted the fact that Dick Cheney’s recent gun mishap is a perfect metaphor for the entire Bush-Cheney presidency, but I haven’t found anyone yet who has noted that Cheney’s choice of a victim in this stupid, reckless accident turns out to be a man who stands in complete opposition to everything about this reckless, selfish, naïve and hopelessly corrupt administration.

Harry Whittington, quite simply, is everything Bushco will never be; chiefly, a tireless, dogged advocate for the basic rights of everyday people with a thorough understanding of right and wrong. Upon doing a bit of investigating, I found that he has spent a majority of his life fighting battles against bureaucracies of varying degrees and, as noted from this link, cleaning up at least one mess handed to him by none other than former Texas governor George W. Bush.

In the Austin Chronicle story about Travis County District Court Judge John Dietz’s decision that Bush would not have to testify in a whistle-blower lawsuit filed by Eliza May of the Texas Funeral Service Commission from September 1999, you see some familiar names and, I would argue, familiar patterns of behavior.

You have former Texas Attorney General (now U.S. Senator) John Cornyn pontificating in a fashion similar to that of the Alito hearings in Bush’s defense. You have Bush campaign manager (and former head of FEMA who hired Mike “Horsey Time” Brown, Joe Allbaugh) being named in May’s suit also. You also have Dubya himself claiming no knowledge of illegal activity and calling May’s lawsuit (in which $445,000 in fines against the funeral company regulated by May’s agency is in question) “frivolous” (I don’t know about you, but nearly half a mil is pretty substantial to me, though I guess that’s chump change for the Bush clan), and you have the head of the funeral company tied to the Bush family by way of sizeable campaign donations.

This excerpt of the story should sound familiar.

May's lawyers allege that Bush did not tell the truth when he filed an affidavit earlier this month saying that he has "had no conversations with SCI officials, agents, or representatives" about the state's investigation into the funeral home giant. Since that time, Bush's statement has been contradicted several times.
Something else that struck me about this was the reason why May’s request to have Bush testify was denied.

(Judge Dietz) cited Texas case law which requires that before plaintiffs are allowed to depose heads of corporations and other entities, they must show that person has information that is not available from other, lower-ranking people in the company. Cornyn argued that the same, or higher, standard should apply to the governor. Dietz agreed.
I’ll admit that I’m hardly a “legal eagle,” but what kind of stupid law is that? I’m sure the logic is that that sort of thing is supposed to be found out at the “discovery” phase, but suppose it isn’t somehow? Why is that the plaintiff’s fault? “Frontier justice” indeed.

Well, Harry Whittington was called in to make sure SCI complied with TFSC codes, and here is more from the story.

The appointment of Whittington appears to be a good move. A well-respected lawyer, Whittington has served on other controversial state positions in the past…

Whittington said his motivation for taking the job comes both from his age and his desire to serve the public. "I know it's a challenge," he said. "But we have 150,000 people dying every year in Texas. That's a lot of funerals, and my generation is getting closer to them every day. It's a big part of our lives that needs to be dealt with."
The story accessible here from the Texas American-Statesman has more on Whittington, who also served on the state’s prison board. An excerpt from the story follows:

In 1981, Whittington pushed a plan to reduce prison overcrowding by moving nonviolent inmates with mental retardation to separate state institutions. It was a bold new idea that clashed with the prevailing build-more-prisons mentality; Estelle likened it to mixing thugs with the general public.

Whittington was dismayed by prison officials' ignorance about mental retardation, perhaps because the subject is so close to his heart. One of his four daughters is mentally retarded. He felt that the condition contributed to inmates getting into jail and that those inmates, who are outmatched in prison, deserved a chance to fare better. He persuaded the board to open a separate unit.

At the time, the state was embroiled in a long-running prison-reform lawsuit filed by inmate David Ruiz in 1972. The suit, which stretched well into the 1990s, showed state prison officials as an unchecked, unregulated authority presiding over shockingly brutal conditions. The case led to unprecedented judicial control over the prisons and a revamping of the state's incarceration practices.

The lawsuit also targeted the practice of "tenders," a cruel, unofficial system of inmates disciplining other inmates. State officials held firm that no such system existed.

As the lawsuit unfolded, and Whittington kept digging, he and others realized top officials were lying. He arranged a key meeting to get state officials to fess up to State Attorney General Mark White, pestered lawmakers to help straighten out the mess and lined up allies until the truth slowly emerged.

Estelle lost his credibility and resigned in 1983. Few people question that Whittington was a prime catalyst in toppling that regime.
Whittington, according to the American-Statesman story, also “faced off against bond lawyers who had a stranglehold on Texas’s lucrative debt business” (as I noted at another time, everything we’re living with now has already been done in Texas, which Molly Ivins has called “the breeding ground for bad government”), and “won a court ruling that invalidated a 1959 bond election allowing Austin to use federal money to condemn and redevelop blighted homes. The judge found that ineligible voters had cast ballots, something Whittington had suspected.”

This tells you more about him.

His dignified presence belies a fierce competitive spirit and antipathy toward government power…”My nature is, if you have a cause and feel like you're right on the law, you'd be letting yourself down to just cave in."
In short, Harry Whittington sounds like my kind of guy. Sure he’s a Republican, but he’s one in the traditional centrist mode that we haven’t seen on the national stage since the days of Robert Michel, Barry Goldwater, and others of their type.

And this is the guy that Dick Cheney filled full of buckshot (and Whittington, by the way, was NEVER “just fine,” despite Bushco propaganda. He was in intensive care for a time, and some of the pellets are so tiny that they can never be removed from his skin).

Update: If “just fine” in Bush-ese means “almost died,” then yeah…Whittington is doing great (I don't know anyone who's had a "minor" heart attack).

Yeah, I made a joke out of Cheney’s stupid accident, and others including Jon Stewart have come up with some great lines. But I’m sure we can all agree that this is no way for a man like Harry Whittington to be brought into the national spotlight, and we all hope and pray for his speedy recovery.

Update 1 2/15: Molly Ivins is the perfect individual to provide more on this.

Update 2 2/15: This is actually funny and pathetic at the same time (hat tip to The Daily Kos).

Monday, February 13, 2006

Cause, Meet Effect

I don't think it's an accident that we've heard about this...

Because of this...

As Karl Rove said a few weeks ago, the '06 elections have already begun. And when was the last time you heard of any Repug talking about gay marriage?

The '04 elections, that's when (just about two years ago today).

That's the playbook, ladies and gentlemen. All terrorism, Iran, and gay marriage all the time, whether we like it or not (and particularly when the Repugs get bad approval numbers).

Given that, I would ask that you remember this.

Dick Needs Practice

As you can see, he didn't even hit the target (though, knowing him, I know it wasn't for a lack of trying...and here's more from Josh Marshall via Atrios).

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Let Us Pray

Fortunately, you can chalk the latest from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi up to little more than comic relief coming from a country which, thankfully, poses no threat to Western civilization unless they plan to attack us with deep-fried calamari and anchovy pizza.

Berlusconi, with remarks such as this, is running what I would consider to be the most interesting election campaign I've ever seen. And I wonder if he's still celibate, by the way (if so, could that explain his behavior)?

A Look In The Mirror

I'm still trying to fathom why Laura Bush would tell Hillary Clinton to show some "empathy" in Clinton's recent remarks about Dubya. The latest I heard from Clinton about Dubya was criticism for renewing his "fear and smear" show on behalf of Repugs running for state and U.S. congressional office this fall, and as even Mrs. Bush admitted, that's just politics.

To this day, I have yet to see the slightest trace of empathy from this regime towards anyone who isn't, so I would say that Mrs. Bush's remarks are disingenuous at the very least anyway.

Well, to me, empathy is more or less a gateway to humility, which is another concept Bushco doesn't understand. As proof, I would like to offer this speech from Al Gore in May 2004 (a really easy Google search for this one).

(By the way, SusanG at The Daily Kos had a great take on this.)

Also, for anyone out there who may be reading, I should point out that posting will again be sporadic over the next day or so. We got really whacked, so to speak, with snow, and there's other stuff I need to catch up on. As always, thanks for hanging in there.