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February 15, 2006
Sometimes I wish that this was a one-day story, that Henry Cuellar really wasn't this bad.
U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar -- a so-called Democrat from Laredo, Texas -- wants to give $100 million dollars to the Minutemen, the racist, gun-toting vigilante group.
Last October, Representative Cuellar sponsored a bill called the "Border Law Enforcement Act of 2005" that would essentially deputize members of the Minutemen militia by giving them new titles, badges and guns.
There is a saying in Spanish,"dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres," which basically means that you can tell a lot about a person by the company that they keep. Representative Cuellar sponsored the "Border Law Enforcement Act" with none other than the "Grand Dragon" of the anti-immigrant legislators - Rep. Tom Tancredo, Republican from Colorado. Cuellar's bill is also part of the draconian House-passed immigration reform bill HR 4437, which, among other wrong headed ideas, would further militarize the US/Mexico border, build a Berlin-style wall all along the border, and criminalize millions of immigrants and good Samaritans.
The transcript isn't much better:
CAVUTO: This is a Fox News alert. The lawyer accidentally hit by Vice President Dick Cheney suffering a mild heart attack this morning. Doctors say he's doing just fine and could be released in a week. Meanwhile, the White House press corps again beating a dead horse as it tries to find out why they were not told right away about the Vice President's hunting accident. Not one person bothering to ask, in the meantime, how Dick Cheney's feeling about all this. After all, he's a human being and injuring someone else in an accident can take a huge toll. With us now someone who knows the Vice President pretty well. Ron Christie is a former Cheney advisor and author of Black in the White House. Good to have you back my friend.
Of course, people could ask poor victim Dick Cheney how he was holding up from the strain of Whittington's inconsiderate and rude decision to get in the way of Cheney's rifle and having his buzz, like, totally killed, if he held a press conference.
A House Investigative Committee composed entirely of Republicans will officially issue their findings as early as today on the Federal preparedness and response during Hurricane Katrina. The stinging five-hundred plus page document characterizes the poorly planned and badly coordinated Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, and White House response to the disaster as "dismal".
President Bush: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." Good Morning America on 9/1/05 (Video at Crooks and Liars).
Even the House GOP committee gagged on that one, saying in part:
[CNN] "It remains difficult to understand how government could respond so ineffectively to a disaster that was anticipated for years, and for which specific dire warnings had been issued for days. This crisis was not only predictable, it was predicted," the committee said.
Remember that DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff said on Meet the Press (And with a straight face mind you):
[MTP Transcript 9/4/05] "I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, 'New Orleans Dodged The Bullet.'"
Leaving aside the disturbing implication that the head of the DHS was relying on newspapers to get his information about a national emergency. Ignoring that out of 400 headlines that ran that Tuesday morning, all of them said the exact opposite. What makes that dodge so particularly outrageous, is that his own department reportedly predicted the flooding a few days beforehand and then, according to Brownie under oath, confirmed it the day the storm hit:
[Wapo] In the 48 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit, the White House received detailed warnings about the storm's likely impact, including eerily prescient predictions of breached levees, massive flooding, and major losses of life and property, documents show.
[YAHOO NEWS] Senator Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., asking about Brown's conversation with Hagin on the evening of Aug. 29. "Did you tell Mr. Hagin in that phone call that New Orleans was flooding?" ... Brown answered: "I think I told him that we were realizing our worst nightmare, that everything we had planned about, worried about, that FEMA, frankly, had worried about for 10 years was coming true."
A few more highlights and conclusions:
"Katrina was a national failure, an abdication of the most solemn obligation to provide for the common welfare," the report states. [...] The federal government's response was marked "fecklessness, flailing and organisational paralysis". [...] "Our investigation revealed that Katrina was a national failure, an abdication of the most solemn obligation to provide for the common welfare," said a summary of the scathing report.
Feel safer yet? There are so many instances of what can only be interpreted as paranoid behavior, incompetence, misinformation, scandals in various states of legal and journalistic illumination, or blatant lying, now plaguing this White House, that just trying to keep up with them all is bewildering. But from Loose-lips Libby to Heckuva-job Brownie to Dead-eye Dick, perhaps a useful unifying framework to keep it all sorted out is the apparent Bush and Company gub'mint playbook:
Maybe the powers that be lost the next page out of the playbook, or they would know Step 5 is traditionally followed by Step 6 in which voters demonstrate at the polls that they're fed-up. Or Step 6a; after which the guilty and the complicit are locked-up.
Yesterday's post on Republican Senator Dewine's attempt to legalize an illegal spying program prompted a lot of frustration towards Democrats which I think is unwarranted. On the legislative side, Democrats have taken action. From the week the scandal broke, Democrats introduced legislation relating to the domestic spying program. A summary:
Today, the Senate Intelligence Committee will have a closed briefing on intelligence matters, and will be voting on whether to conduct on inquiry into the domestic spying program. Over at the House, the Judiciary Committee will be voting on House Resolutions 643 and 644, which demand that the Attorney General and the President hand over any documents relating to the domestic spying program. You can watch the Judiciary Committee hearing live on the House Judiciary Committee website. The hearing will begin at 10 AM ET/9 AM CT.
Update [2006-2-15 11:23:23 by georgia10]:: There's still time to contact Senate Intelligence Committee members and demand an investigation. Rather than calling Democratic members who are the ones calling for an investigation, we'll be more effective acting against the WH pressure on Republican committee members. The toll-free number for the Senate switchboard is 888-355-3588. More below the fold...
From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE...
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER...
This morning House Republicans---yes, Republicans---are expected to release a report on the government's response to Hurricane Katrina:
According to portions of the draft obtained by ABC News, the report charges Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff with executing his responsibilities "late, ineffectively or not at all."
Chertoff should resign in disgrace for failing to protect American citizens from terror---in this case the terror brought on by Mother Nature. But let us not forget that the rest of Republican hierarchy was asleep at the switch when the hurricane unloaded its fury on the Gulf Coast. As we noted in our September 2 column, this is what America's "leaders" were doing on September 1:
President George W. Bush said, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice went shoe shopping on Fifth Avenue, but not before she played tennis and yukked it up at Spamalot.
The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael D. Brown, leapt into action, mustering all the emergency disaster management skills he learned as a lawyer for the International Arabian Horse Association Legal Department (from which he was fired). His money quote: "Paula, the federal government did not even know about the Convention Center people until today."
The Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, said, eh, maybe we should just forget all about rebuilding New Orleans. Because it might cost money and stuff.
The Pentagon, headed by Donald Rumsfeld, reassured America that, yes, the Country music hoedown with Clint Black on September 11th is still on, pard'ner! And maybe we'll even break the record for the longest line dance.
The head of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman, sent out an email stressing that now---for God's sake, people---NOW is the time when we must repeal that which is really causing pain and suffering throughout the land: the estate tax.
And Vice President Dick Cheney? He was still on vacation.
As if it even needs to be said anymore: This imbecilic, corrupt, lunatic party needs to become the minority party again. They're killing us...body, mind, soul, bank account and spirit. You want to know what the Democrats will do differently? Here's a hint: Everything.
Cheers and Jeers starts in There's Moreville... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]
February 14, 2006
This one in Texas.
Democrat Donna Howard has won election to the Texas House today to serve the remainder of Republican Todd Baxter's term.
Baxter resigned November 1. He became a lobbyist for the Texas Cable and Telecommunications Association.
After two elections in the last month, voters in west Austin and western Travis County are making a big change in the State Legislature.
House District 48 is switching parties and sending a Democrat to the State House for the first time since the district was re-drawn in 2001.
It wasn't even that close. Despite being outspent $480K to $80K in a district that is 52 percent GOP, Howard got nearly 58 percent of the vote. Dems now have 64 seats in the 150-member chamber.
And it follows a trend of Democratic state-level special election pickups this cycle in Virginia, Minnesota, Minnesota (again), Missouri, and New Hampshire. It's a clean sweep, with no results the other direction (Republican gains).
We've got the big mo'.
Bush had a party. His not-so-secret valentine was there.
Some women get flowers, others jewelry. This year, first lady Laura Bush got a formal dinner and an intimate concert by a well-known crooner from her valentine.
For the second year in a row, President Bush and his wife spent the lovers' holiday formally entertaining about 100 friends and associates at the White House.
Singer Michael Feinstein capped the romantic evening by serenading the crowd, which included new Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, actor Chuck Norris _ wearing black cowboy boots with his tux, of course _ singer Wayne Newton and Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn.
The King's henchman have sounded the death knell for Presidential accountability. Just a few weeks ago, Republicans from Specter to Hagel to Snowe were calling for a congressional inquiry into the domestic spying program. On the eve of a Senate Intelligence Committee vote to determine whether such an inquiry should take place, the Washington Post reports that a "full court press" by the administration has swayed many Republicans against such an investigation:
Two committee Democrats said the panel -- made up of eight Republicans and seven Democrats -- was clearly leaning in favor of the motion last week but now is closely divided and possibly inclined against it.
Lawmakers cite senators such as Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) to illustrate the administration's success in cooling congressional zeal for an investigation. On Dec. 20, she was among two Republicans and two Democrats who signed a letter expressing "our profound concern about recent revelations that the United States Government may have engaged in domestic electronic surveillance without appropriate legal authority." [...]
In an interview yesterday, Snowe said, "I'm not sure it's going to be essential or necessary" to conduct an inquiry "if we can address the legislative standpoint" that would provide oversight of the surveillance program. "We're learning a lot and we're going to learn more," she said.
Republican Senate DeWine says he will introduce a bill sanctioning the program, explicitly exempting it from the requirements of FISA. Both Hagel and Snowe are said to be in favor of the bill. So suddenly, Republicans are comfortable with the President breaking the law? Where was the bill in the 90s condoning Oval Office blow jobs and Presidential perjury? Oh, that's right. The lawlessness of a President is exempted only when that President wears a 10-gallon hat and calls himself a "conservative."
Good lord, our Founding Fathers must be shaking their heads in shame at the mindfuck that is about to occur in Congress. A legislative body, which is constitutionally tasked with oversight and the solemn duty of ensuring that the Presidency acts within the law, is now prepared to gleefully greenlight its blatantly criminal actions? Is this a democratic Congress or the King's Court? What controls the fate of this country, the Constitution or Karl Rove's blacklist?
As with any scandal, its lawlessness is judged by the proportionality of the administration's response:
Sources close to [Democratic Senator] Rockefeller say he is frustrated by what he sees as heavy-handed White House efforts to dissuade Republicans from supporting his measure. They noted that Cheney conducted a Republicans-only meeting on intelligence matters in the Capitol yesterday.
How kind of Cheney to take a break from his Texan target practice long enough to collude with a partisan cabal on how best to absolve this Presidency of its crime. Roberts, Hoekstra, and every other Republican who votes against an investigation is an accomplice in the raping of citizen's rights. Because, as the article explains, Republicans don't want any investigation to be "punitive." It's the same bullshit we dealt with when Phase II was killed, when the August PDB was dismissed as "historical," and when the Katrina hearings weren't meant to place blame but to "fix" problems. Congressional "oversight" in this Republican Congress doesn't include hindsight, only foresight--only forward-looking tunnel vision with a singular purpose: covering up for the most corrupt administration in history.
Look at your party, Republicans. Look at your civil servants, all you logic-minded conservatives out there. Look at your legislative bimbos, your lemmings in Congress. Look at how they serve only the interests of an Executive drunk with power. Your representatives are about to give the ok to the President unilaterally erasing the 4th Amendment from the Bill of Rights. Your so-called "conservatives" don't dare conserve jack, not the separation of powers, not any sense of fairness, and certainly not your rights.
It's party over principle. Party over justice. Party over civil rights. They just keep shredding up that Constitution and feeding it to that goddamn Elephant, because they have to anything and everything to keep that damn Elephant alive and fat and happy, right? Members of Congress, my ass. Every one of them took their oath of office with their fingers crossed behind their back. Every one of them pledged to uphold and defend the Constitution, with a huge asterisk (*) that when the President's ass needs saving, well, that Constitution just has to step out of the way.
If the vote tomorrow fails, and if indeed this Republican Congress passes a law to cover up the President breaking the law, then this becomes a campaign issue in every damn congressional election in every damn county in this country. And as for history...history will never forgive this Republican Congress, who too many times has given this Nixonian President a pardon from his crimes.
Watching this whole Hackett craziness unfold, I'm struck by two major themes.
1.) The establishment dragged Hackett out of the race
It's true that the establishment lined up behind Sherrod Brown -- he has spent years building up his networks and has a proven record people can embrace. Hackett didn't.
But this isn't the only race in which outsider candidates are running. In Rhode Island, the establishment has rallied around Sheldon Whitehouse. Yet Matt Brown hasn't bowed to pressures to clear the field. In fact, he's fought harder.
In Montana, the DC establishment has rallied around John Morrison, seen as a "more electable" because he has won statewide twice. Still, Jon Tester is refusing to bow to to any such pressures.
In Connecticut, a sitting US Senator, Joe Lieberman, is facing a primary challenge. The establishment would love nothing more than to direct the type of energy and funds we'll be directing at Ned Lamont and use that against endangered Republicans. But is that stopping Ned Lamont?
And what about primary challengers to annointed nominees Maria Cantwell, Bob Casey, and Harold Ford? They haven't quit. [update: nor has Mfume in Maryland.]
In the Republican side, Katherine Harris gave Karl frickin' Rove the middle finger and cleared out the field herself, despite efforts of both the state and national Republican parties to push her out. In 2004 in Oklahoma, Tom Coburn was the bane of the GOP establishment and they fought him tooth and nail in the primary. He didn't quit, and in fact went on to defeat both the establishment favorite in the primary, as well as the general election.
And do we need to talk about Obama? Barrack terrified establishment Democrats because 1) he was black (which could've been an electoral liability in downstate Illinois), 2) he had no money, and 3) his name was easily confused with some other person's. At one point he had 2% in the polls, yet somehow he managed to turn things around and defeat his cash-flushed opponents. he didn't quit when the odds were stacked up against him.
So it can be done, and it has been done. The party is not all powerful. In fact, it's pretty weak. That's been sort of the problem for a long time.
2.) Primaries are bad
This is something akin to gospel in the Democratic Party and I used to buy it. Until 2004. In that cycle, competitive Republican primaries in Oklahoma, Alaska, South Carolina, and Florida allowed those Republicans to use the momentum boost and media coverage to eventually win their seats. Democrats cleared their primary fields up and down the map for all the good it did (absolutely none).
This obsession with clearing fields really is counterproductive, generating a great deal of hostility and ill-will. And really, what better place to work on message and build the campaign machinery than in a primary? The primary election, at worse, becomes a test run to make sure the machine is firing on all cylinders. And the money used on media and whatnot during a primary is not wasted money -- it's a way to build up early name recognition to the electorate. It worked wonders for Republicans in 2004.
Now, insurgent candidates don't have a god-given right to respect or support. But if they want to run, then the party should stay the frack out of it. There is no legitimate justification for the price the party pays in meddling in such affairs.
From the subscription-only House Race Hotline:
In an email, Club for Growth Pres. Pat Toomey explains his endorsement of Rep. Henry Cueller (D). Toomey explains Cuellar is a "pro-growth" Democrat compared to his "ultra-liberal" primary opponent ex-Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D), who got an "F" from the Nat'l Taxpayers Union. The Club says its "putting principles above political party" lead it to endorse Cuellar. "If you can't bring yourself to donate to a Democrat, we understand. But please keep in mind that on many key pro-growth votes, there are plenty of so-called Republicans in Congress who won't support the policies we need to make our country prosper" (release, 2/14).
Three weeks to go.
CNN ticker at the top of their homepage:
Man shot and wounded by Vice President Cheney suffers "minor heart attack" after birdshot becomes lodged in his heart, hospital spokesman says.
In his heart? This wasn't a surface scratch with a pellet gun. The guy has been in ICU for three days, was supposed to be moved out today, and now suffers a heart attack from birdshot lodged in his heart?
Atrios learned a few things today:
Every conservative on the internet is an avid hunter and they've all been shot multiple times.
Shotguns aren't really guns, just toys. You can't really hurt people with them, only animals.
It's standard hunter etiquette to yell and scream at your fellow hunters as they're stalking their prey.
The most dangerous place to be is behind the people with the guns.
And the late-night roundup:
Jon Stewart: "I'm joined now by our own vice-presidential firearms mishap analyst, Rob Corddry. Rob, obviously a very unfortunate situation. How is the vice president handling it?
Rob Corddry: "Jon, tonight the vice president is standing by his decision to shoot Harry Wittington. According to the best intelligence available, there were quail hidden in the brush. Everyone believed at the time there were quail in the brush.
"And while the quail turned out to be a 78-year-old man, even knowing that today, Mr. Cheney insists he still would have shot Mr. Whittington in the face. He believes the world is a better place for his spreading buckshot throughout the entire region of Mr. Whittington's face."
Jon Stewart: "But why, Rob? If he had known Mr. Whittington was not a bird, why would he still have shot him?"
Rob Corddry: "Jon, in a post-9-11 world, the American people expect their leaders to be decisive. To not have shot his friend in the face would have sent a message to the quail that America is weak."
Jon Stewart: "That's horrible."
Rob Corddry: "Look, the mere fact that we're even talking about how the vice president drives up with his rich friends in cars to shoot farm-raised wingless quail-tards is letting the quail know 'how' we're hunting them. I'm sure right now those birds are laughing at us in that little 'covey' of theirs.
Jon Stewart: "I'm not sure birds can laugh, Rob."
Rob Corddry: "Well, whatever it is they do ... coo .. they're cooing at us right now, Jon, because here we are talking openly about our plans to hunt them. Jig is up. Quails one, America zero.
Jon Stewart: "Okay, well, on a purely human level, is the vice president at least sorry?"
Rob Corddry: "Jon, what difference does it make? The bullets are already in this man's face. Let's move forward across party lines as a people ... to get him some sort of mask."
"Good news ladies and gentleman, we have finally located weapons of mass destruction ... It's Dick Cheney." [...]
"We can't get Bin Laden, but we nailed a 78-year-old attorney." [...]
"The guy who got gunned down is a Republican lawyer and a big Republican donor and fortunately the buck shot was deflected by wads of laundered cash. So he's fine. He took a little in the wallet."
"When people found out he shot a lawyer his popularity is now at 92%" [...]
"Something I just found out today about the incident. Do you know that Dick Cheney tortured the guy for a half hour before he shot him?"
After 2002 and 2004, I'm gun shy and refuse to get my hopes up too much about this November. I'd rather be pleasently surprised than crushed. But things like this make it harder to dampen expectations.
With a potential political wave developing, Republicans should face the reality that it likely will only break one way - toward the Democrats.
Not only are Republicans likely to lose seats this November, but their chances of defeating a Democratic incumbent or taking over a Democratic open seat are minimal. Sure, the GOP has opportunities against newly-appointed Sen. Bob Menendez (D) in New Jersey and a handful of other Democratic incumbents, as well as in open seats in Minnesota and Maryland, but in "wave" elections, competitive seats tend to break heavily toward one party.
Back in 1980, a whopping twelve seats changed hands in the Senate, with Democrats losing all of them. Nine incumbents went down to defeat, including heavyweights like Birch Bayh (IN), Frank Church (ID), and George McGovern (SD). Republicans also won Democratic open seats in Alabama, Alaska, and Florida.
Six years later, ten Senate seats changed hands, nine of which were Republican losses. In that 1986 election, seven GOP incumbents lost, along with 2 open seats. Kit Bond's win in an open-seat race in Missouri was the lone bright spot for Republicans that night.
And in 1994, eight Senate seats switched parties, with all eight being Republican takeovers. Only two Democratic incumbents were defeated (Harris Wofford of Pennsylvania and James Sasser of Tennessee) but six open seat losses were the Democrats undoing. (Along with the net loss of 52 seats in the House) [...]
But the bottom line is that Republicans should not depend on off-setting losses in Pennsylvania, Ohio, or Montana with wins elsewhere. Over the last 25 years, when the wave hits, only one party drowns.
It's not that political prognosticators (like Stuart Rothenberg, Chuck Todd, Larry Sabato and the like) have infallible crystal balls, but they do have the resources to do their homework and aren't entirely full of it. All three predicted GOP gains the last two years and their record on individual races wasn't bad (for example, Chuck Todd told me early in the 2004 cycle that Daschle was history).
But more important than that, these guys shape the DC conventional wisdom, which then affects things like candidate recruitment and fundraising. The DCCC and DSCC have had an easy time recruiting candidates compared to their GOP counterparts. They DSCC is killing the NRSC in fundraising, and the DCCC is surprisingly competitive with the NRCC.
It's all interconnected. The stronger the Dem chances appear in November, the more money will flow to them (and conversely, the less the GOP will be able to raise), and the better the odds we pick up some great late candidates in some of the races without strong challengers.
Rasmussen. 2/8. Likely voters. MoE 4.5% (1/10 results)
Allen (R) 48 (57)
Allen (R) 49
Allen is now under 50 percent against two unknown Democrats, great news for our side. This is now a second-tier race threatening to become seriously competitive.
From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE...
Why can't those crazy over-the-edge lefty Communist bloggers be more like us in the respectable media???
Chris Matthews "Hillary has to make up for the fact that she really backed the war...and the base of the Democratic party, like...40...40...4-out-of-5 people is [sic] against the war right now. To win back that base, she has to stir them up in style. He [RNC chair Ken Mehlman] said, you start stirring that base up to get them back after backing the war, or we're gonna nail ya..."
The New York Times' David Brooks: Well, I think for...whoever the Democratic candidate, that is the weakness of the Democratic Party. They've got the blogs and the netroots who are semi-nuts...
NBC Washington correspondent Norah O'Donnell: [Snort!]
Brooks: ...and who insist on a Stalinist line of discipline, and...HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!
Matthews: Y'know, I love this objectivity. This point of objectivity.
Brooks: That is objectivity. I did a psychoanalytic test.
Joe Klein: ...as opposed to the gun advocates...and...and...?
Brooks: It's true for both parties. You have DailyKos on the left. You've got Pat Dobson [sic] on the right.
Matthews: Which party has more nuts, by your count?
Brooks: Objectively the Democratic party.
Norah O'Donnell & Chris Mathews together: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!
---The Chris Matthews Show, 2/12/06
Now picture the above conversation taking place between patients in a psych ward. Paging Nurse Ratched: somebody needs their morning meds.
Cheers and Jeers starts in There's Moreville... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]
It is unfortunate that upland bird hunting has gotten this kind of bad press because of irresponsible hunting practices by a prominent member of the upper class. Hunting preserves open spaces for use by all; hunting connects younger generations with the land and with traditions; hunting is about conservation. As a hunter and conservationist, I feel misrepresented by Cheney and his ilk. They portray hunting as a sport for the rich, carried out on vast private lands, where pulling the trigger takes priority over everything else.
That's what happens when you elect elites pretending to be cowboys and hunters.
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