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January 22, 2006

Via Think Progress & FOX News Sunday, we learn that Senator John McCain has joined the growing list of Republicans who believe the President's spying program may be illegal and needs to be investigated.  McCain stated that he does not believe Bush had the authority to implement such a program.

Right-wingers though simply won't acknowledge that the call for an investigation is bi-partisan. Take today's Washington Times, for example, a reliable barometer of winger sentiment and spin:

While opinion polls show public support for the program, liberals have tried to use it against Mr. Bush by suggesting he is overstepping his authority as the nation's chief executive. The program was called "illegal" yesterday by the American Civil Liberties Union in a briefing to Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee. [...]
    To counter this argument, the administration is mounting an aggressive campaign to retain and solidify public support for the eavesdropping program. It began yesterday, when White House strategist Karl Rove accused Democrats of making "wild and reckless and false charges" against Mr. Bush.

"Solidify public support"?  A Pew Research poll conducted Jan. 4-8 "found that 48 percent of respondents thought that "monitoring Americans suspected of terrorist ties without court permission" was "generally right," and 47 percent thought it was "generally wrong."" Given how poorly worded the questions are in such polls, that certainly doesn't show "public support" for the program. Too many poll questions on this subject are along the lines of: "would you allow the government to monitor some of your calls if it would prevent evil terrorists from coming into your home and slaughtering your family? YES or NO?" Considering the false dichotomy set up by many of these polls, the fact that the program is only garnering a 45%-50% approval rate is shocking.

More on the flip...

Categories: Blogs
The Cult of Secrecy in Government and the Undermining of Democracy

It is a commonplace that "you can't keep secrets in Washington" or "in a democracy," that "no matter how sensitive the secret, you're likely to read it the next day in the New York Times." These truisms are flatly false. They are in fact cover stories, ways of flattering and misleading journalists and their readers, part of the process of keeping secrets well. Of course eventually many secrets do get out that wouldn't in a fully totalitarian society. Bureaucratic rivalries, especially over budget shares, lead to leaks. Moreover, to a certain extent the ability to keep a secret for a given amount of time diminishes with the number of people who know it. As secret keepers like to say, "Three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead." But the fact is that the overwhelming majority of secrets do not leak to the American public. This is true even when the information withheld is well known to an enemy and when it is clearly essential to the functioning of the congressional war power and to any democratic control of foreign policy. The reality unknown to the public and to most members of Congress and the press is that secrets that would be of the greatest import to many of them can be kept from them reliably for decades by the executive branch, even though they are known to thousands of insiders.

--Daniel Ellsberg
Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

This is the third of a six-part series of conversations with Ellsberg that were conducted earlier this month. My questions are in boldface, Ellsberg's responses are in lightface. Topics and dates of future and past postings can be found at the end of this interview.

Let's talk a bit about the role of secrets in a democratic society. Obviously, this concerns you - in fact, "Secrets" is the title of your memoir.

Categories: Blogs
The modern GOP is a precarious alliance between moderate, sane, conservatives, corporate interests understandably focused on short term profits, and a fundamentalist mob whose social policies poll anywhere between unpopular to repugnant among the majority of Americans.

The moderates are the official face set forth in PR efforts, the corporate interests drive the money, and like in any feudal system, the cultish masses provide the votes and do the grassroots work. But there's a glaring weakness: Expose that extremist base for what it is, flip that rock over to illuminate the ugly squatting trolls hiding underneath, and it's game over folks. Here's one way to go about doing that, and in all fairness we should thank the GOP shills on Cable News and all across the blogosphere for bringing it our attention and warming up the soundbite for us so nicely.

Categories: Blogs
From Media Matters:
On January 22, the day after The Washington Post first broke the Lewinsky story, the paper ran ... a total of 11 articles, written by or using contributions from at least 20 reporters, and comprising 11,844 words dedicated to allegations that the president lied about a consensual relationship.

The New York Times gave the story similar treatment....a total of eight articles, written by at least eight reporters, comprising 9,044 words.

Now, here's what the Post did on December 17 -- the day after the initial disclosure of the Bush administration's use of the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct domestic surveillance that has been widely described as an illegal trampling of the Constitution.... Three articles, eight reporters, 3,227 words -- and that's generously including the USA Patriot Act article in the tally.

And from the Times, which had broken the NSA story the day before.... two articles, four reporters, 3,076 words.

All told, on January 22, 1998, the Times and the Post ran 19 articles (five on the front page) dealing with the Clinton investigation, totaling more than 20,000 words and reflecting the words of at least 28 reporters -- plus the editorial boards of both newspapers.

In contrast, on December 17, the Times and the Post combined to run five articles about the NSA spying operation, involving 12 reporters and consisting of 6,303 words.

You can find more numbers in the Media Matters post, which I encourage you to go read in full. It's just too damned infuriating and depressing to include more here.

We've been over it all again and again here in blogotopia. Using the Oval Office to having extramarital, consensual sex trumps using the Oval Office to falsify intelligence to take the country to war. It trumps using the Oval Office to engineer the outing of CIA operatives. And now we also know it trumps using the Oval Office to orchestrate the illegal, warrantless wiretapping of thousands of American citizens. Well, gee. I think we just really need to work on getting our priorities straight.

I'm just wondering when the traditional media is finally going to give up the pretense that it is objective in reporting the news. From Chris Matthew's (and the entire Fox gang's) hate speech to Deborah Howell's non-correction "correction," it's time they just admit the truth. They are Republican party organs. Most of the rest of the developed world doesn't operate on the false assumption that their media is unbiased. Why should we? Let's just get that out in the open, recognize who is on which side, and go on our merry way.

We get most of The New York Time's editorial page (David Brooks doesn't count anymore, anyway), um, Salon, and well, the fake news shows on Comedy Central. Oh, and a few of the  quiz shows on NPR. They get The New York Times news division, The Wall Street Journal, most of The Washington Post (can we please have Dana Priest?), all of the broadcast and cable news shows, the wire services, and well, everything else.

Now you'll have to excuse me. My forehead has an appointment with nearest brick wall.

Categories: Blogs

January 21, 2006



Below the Fold:

  • The Full Sunday Lineup

    In the Comment Section:

  • The 9-11 Commission  Hands Shrub a BIG FAT Gentleman's F  !!!

  • ANGRY!!! Letters to the Editor

  • Blogging at the Dem Convention, with a very special cameo appearance

  • How the Military Industrial Complex is damaging our national security

  • A wonderful interview with Bishop Desmond Tutu

  • Sunday Funnies with Face the Nation's Bob Schieffier

  • Delicious, Red Carpet Coverage of the Golden Globes - with George Clooney,  Deaniac, Scarlett Johansson,  a very pregnant Gwyneth,  and many, many, many more

  • And debuting today, new photo technology.  This solves an annoying problem for Dial-Up users, but more importantly, now they can hang out and party - no more congestion.


  • It's here, it's here! Come inside and take a spin - it's dial up friendly! Come on, piss off Abu Gonzalez

Categories: Blogs
Before dissecting Deborah Howell's new column on her errors regarding the Abramoff Scandal, let's highlight and underline this statement from her:

My mistake set off a firestorm. I heard that I was lying, that Democrats never got a penny of Abramoff-tainted money, that I was trying to say it was a bipartisan scandal, as some Republicans claim. I didn't say that. It's not a bipartisan scandal; it's a Republican scandal, and that's why the Republicans are scurrying around trying to enact lobbying reforms.

Now that we have THAT straight, on with the dissections.

Update [2006-1-21 23:24:43 by Armando]: Okay, a quick fisking on the "Abramoff directed contributions to both sides" lie - Bloomberg News Service column: U.S. President George W. Bush calls indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff ``an equal money dispenser'' who helped politicians of both parties. Campaign donation records show Republicans were a lot more equal than Democrats. Between 2001 and 2004, Abramoff gave more than $127,000 to Republican candidates and committees and nothing to Democrats, federal records show. At the same time, his Indian clients were the only ones among the top 10 tribal donors in the U.S. to donate more money to Republicans than Democrats. . . . Of the top 10 political donors among Indian tribes in that period, three are former clients of Abramoff and Scanlon: the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of California. All three gave most of their donations to Republicans -- by margins of 30 percentage points or more -- while the rest favored Democrats. . . . Abramoff's tribal clients continued to give money to Democrats even after he began representing them, although in smaller percentages than in the past. The Saginaw Chippewas gave $500,500 to Republicans between 2001 and 2004 and $277,210 to Democrats, according to a review of data compiled by Dwight L. Morris & Associates, a Bristow, Virginia-based company that tracks campaign-finance reports. Between 1997 and 2000, the tribe gave just $158,000 to Republicans and $279,000 to Democrats. Pretty simple if you have a brain and choose to use it. Abramoff pushed his Indian tribe clients AWAY from Dems and TO Republicans. That is, Abramoff DIRECTED his Indian tribe clients to give LESS or NOT AT ALL to Democrats and to give MORE OR ALL of their contributions to Republicans. Only a simpleton can not understand that.

Categories: Blogs
They are vehemently against abortion, they resist progressive woman's rights. They view homosexuality as a crime against nature and God, some advocate the death penalty as an option for it. Separation of Church and State is despised by these folks; they insist the nation is founded on the principles of their religion, and they work hard to bring that de facto theocracy about. They deplore strong language, gay characters, and sexual content on TV and in the media. And they ignore the Geneva Convention when it suits their ideological purposes, including provisions against torture or due process. They're anti-stem cell research, pro-creationism, and generally distrustful of science. These folks are easily whipped into a state of frenzy with ideological manipulation to the point where they will commit violence, or at least tacitly endorse that violence is acceptable, if it advances their Divine agenda. They then take great pains to justify that violence, including unprovoked attack of civilian areas, under certain conditions, with convoluted theological gymnastics. They are almost to the man pro-death penalty ... Am I railing against the religious right again?

Could be, but my target here is actually Al Qaeda and related fundamentalist Wahhabism; the source of terrorism, the scourge of our planet, the Axis of Evil.

Categories: Blogs
  • Frist lets the, um, cat out of the bag and admits Alito is the Democrats' "worst nightmare".  Has a nice, mainstream ring to it, doesn't it?

  • The Washingtonian claims to have 5 pictures of Bush & Abramoff.

  • Chris Matthews issues a "clarification" that would make Deborah Howell proud.

  • Via Crooks & Liars, Joe Klein turns his nose up at bloggers: "Well I bow to nobody in, in my disdain for bloggers. They're all opinions and very little information."

  • Senators Kennedy and Leahy introduce a resolution explicitly rejecting the lame-ass excuse that the 2001 AUMF gave Bush the authority to spy on American citizens.

Categories: Blogs

January 19, 2006

The Media has declared that Alito's nomination is a sure thing since the first day of the Judiciary Committee hearings. And of course some Democratic Senators reinforced this narrative with some very clumsy and unfortunate statements. But a funny thing has happened on the way to this "easy confirmation." It turns out it is not so easy.

Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) joins Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) as a Red State Dem voting No on Alito and not ruling out a filibuster. Here's  a part of Salazar's statement:

I will vote against the confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito to the United States Supreme Court. I am convinced, based upon a very careful review of his record, that Judge Alito will move the Supreme Court outside the mainstream of American law. Judge Alito's judicial philosophy will expand Executive power too far, hurt the checks and balances built into our Constitution to protect us all, and roll back important civil rights protections that were achieved in our country through the sacrifices of many.

So far, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, in a much expected move, is the only Dem to announce he will vote for Alito. As I wrote a few days ago, the first issue is do we have 41 Nos on Alito. Without that, filibuster is not a possibility. It begins to look more and more like there will be 41 Nos.

And that might explain why Senator Bill Frist has prohibited floor speeches on Alito.

Will the Media be forced to cover the ACTUAL issues surrounding the possible confirmation of Alito as a Supreme Court Justice? Maybe. More on the other side.

Categories: Blogs
Interesting analysis from Leon H. at Red State (believe it or not):

The probability: I don't think Alito has 60 votes at this point. My estimate before the holiday break was right at 60, and I was including Baucus in that total. Remember that Baucus was one of the earliest defectors on Roberts, even defying Reid's order to keep silent until after the caucus meeting. At this point, I can't think of 5 Democrats who would be more likely than Baucus to vote for Alito (and if anyone can, I'd love to hear the list), and accordingly, I'd say Alito's chances of breaking 60 votes are pretty slim at this point. It's possible that Baucus is merely feeling his oats due to the various troubles Conrad Burns is facing at the moment, but apart from some consideration that I'm not currently aware of, Baucus's signal is a pretty good indicator that the Democrats will almost completely hold ranks over Alito (with the exception of Nelson, and perhaps one or two others.) Right now, I put the odds of Alito breaking 60 votes at around 33%.

Up in the air: Do the Democrats have 40 votes against cloture, so that invoking a filibuster would even make tactical sense? This is a much harder question. Apart from Nelson, I've not heard public statements from any of the other "Gangsters" on the Democrat side of the aisle. Assume that the Republicans start with 54 votes (Chafee is an issue that I will discuss below), plus one for Nelson. Probably Mark Pryor would also vote for cloture, if not for confirmation. In order to invoke cloture, then, we would have to believe that Byrd, Salazar, Inouye and Liebermann will all simultaneously keep their word to the rest of the gang. Personally, I am not very optimistic about such a scenario.

One thing you can be sure of, however, is that Harry Reid does know exactly who is behind him and who is not. And surely, after the caucus meeting today, he's got a pretty accurate count of whether he can hold a filibuster together and force the Constitutional Option or not. Based on that calculation, the situation presents Reid with a pair of interesting strategical dilemmas.

If he knows that he does not have enough votes to survive a cloture vote, does he call for a filibuster anyway? In so doing, he can at the very least put pressure on Lincoln Chafee, who is facing a very uphill battle in Rhode Island. Chafee is balancing on such a thin wire right now that a vote either way might very well doom his chances in the general election - a vote FOR cloture would be damaging with Rhode Island's overwhelmingly Democrat general election voters. If he votes no, that may well be the final straw that provokes GOP primary voters to kick him to the curb. For Reid, I think his choice is actually made easier if he knows he doesn't have the votes to survive a cloture vote: by calling for a filibuster anyway, he doesn't risk losing the filibuster as a future tool in the judicial battles, and he likely insures a gained seat for his party in 2006.

If Reid knows that his filibuster would survive a cloture vote, his choice becomes much more difficult. If he presses a filibuster anyway, he buys at least a week of delay in the process - and he may be able to keep Alito off the court for the entire term. Also, forcing a vote on the Constitutional Option would provide great fodder for Sherrod Brown and Bob Casey in October television ads. However, this would come at a very steep price - the certain knowledge that the filibuster would be gone forever. Would Reid be willing to face a world without judicial filibuster in which Bush nominated Emilio Garza to replace Justice Stevens? My guess is that he would not. However, if he feels that he can win back control of the Senate entirely in 2006, he may chance it anyway, banking on the continued health and survival of the four liberal Justices currently on the court - at least for another 10 months.

Right now, the safest tactic for Reid to pursue is to call for a filibuster, but to give consent to the 7 Democrat "gangsters" to vote for cloture (or at least, enough of them to push the vote over 60). In so doing, he can significantly tilt the playing field in at least one critical race in '06, basically for free. However, the bolder move would be to exercise all the discipline that he can, and force the GOP to exercise the Constitutional option. And, if he feels that the majority can be regained in '06, this is actually the right tactical decision.

It seems to me that at least two things are relatively certain: (1) Alito will be confirmed, and (2) If Reid plays his cards right, he can make the GOP pay for it. Either way, I can't see how a filibuster doesn't make tactial sense for the Democrats at this point, given the current political landscape. And I don't see a way to avoid some damage from the fallout.

This is why I was opposed to "The Deal" at the time of its inception, and remain opposed to it to this day. First, it seems clear to me that "The Deal" played a major role in Harriet being foisted upon us in the first place. Now, it has enabled the Democrats to play this out on television, during election season, when we are in a weaker position than we were spring/summer '05. "The Deal" amounted to a failure to press the advantage when we had it, which inevitably results in a loss.

It seems now, however, that the loss will not be to the judiciary, but to the Senate GOP itself.

(Props to Adam B for bringing this to our attention.)

Categories: Blogs
(Bumped -- kos)

Dems voting "No"

Baucus (MT)
Durbin (IL)
Harkin (IA)
Kennedy (MA)
Leahy (VT)
Mikulski (MD)
Salazar (CO)

Dems leaning "No"

Feinstein (CA)
Nelson (FL)

Dems voting "Yes"

Nelson (NE)

GOoPers voting "No"

None yet.

(This list will be updated regularly)

Categories: Blogs
  • Nice blurb for our book:

    Two of the hottest Democratic bloggers, Markos and Jerome, prove with this book that they are also two of the sharpest and most insightful voices in the progressive movement.  Crashing the Gate is an urgent and powerfully-written look both at what ails our democracy and what can heal it.  Ultimately, they show that the fuel to reform our politics will not come from Party insiders but from "the netroots, grassroots, and the rise of people powered politics." -- Arianna Huffington, Editor, The Huffington Post

    Next week will be the last one the limited special edition of Crashing the Gate will be available for pre-order.

  • Thanks to everyone who emailed me about programming the new poll engine. I've got enough responses to choose from. I'll be creating an RFP and sending it out to respondents over the next couple of days.

  • Things that make you want to scream for $200.

  • David Broder shows a pulse. Gives Gore props for his Monday speech.

    Gore is certainly right about one thing. When he challenged the members of Congress to "start acting like the independent and co-equal branch of government you're supposed to be," he was issuing a call of conscience that goes well beyond any partisan criticism.

  • Another chickenhawk puts principle before personal safety. Oh wait, no he doesn't.

  • Matt Stoller isn't convinced of the wisdom of backing a primary challenger to Lieberman. Wonders why. Commenters give great reasons.

  • Jane Hamsher urges Dems to tap Murtha to give the Dem SOTU address rebutall. That would be a great idea. Update: Dems have already tapped Tim Kaine. Not a bad idea, either.

  • Ken Blackwell is losing it on the Ohio campaign trail. Apparently, secular people are Nazis.

  • Not only does the Oregonian editorial board not seem to realize that the Colbert Report is a satirical show, but they purport to speak for the entire media. Hilarious. Did they really need to telegraph to the world how out-of-touch they are?

Categories: Blogs
If Laura Bush really wants to "debate" Hillary, I'm sure it could be arranged.

Otherwise, why run her useless "response" as though it means something?

This morning, all I'm hearing on the news is that Laura responded to Clinton, calling her characterization of the GOP House leadership "a ridiculous comment." It's run over and over again, as if it has any sort of meaning or intellectual weight. If the media want to turn this into a debate, let's have an actual debate. Let's have Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton have it out on 'Hardball,' or whatever forum they want. Let's hear Laura Bush air her views of the leadership style of the Congressional Republicans. Calling something "a ridiculous comment" doesn't really mean anything unless she can back that up with some sort of supporting theories or data.

The media coverage of this is what's ridiculous.

Someone ask Laura if she thinks Bob Novak, Newt Gingrich, the Wall Street Journal, the National Review, Newsmax, Townhall.com, Rush Limbaugh and the Washington Times are ridiculous for using that phrase.

Categories: Blogs
Funny how the GOP have put Santorum in charge of clearing up their act given his prominent role in the K Street Project that is in many ways the root of much of the GOP's evil.

Ricky has taken to pretending he's only peripherally heard of the K Street Project. Well, too bad for him the Google Cache exists, snagging this vintage 2001 piece from Roll Call:

With high-profile positions opening up at lobbying giants such as the U.S. Telephone Association and BellSouth Corp. in coming months, Senate GOP Conference Chairman Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and a group of well-connected Republican lobbyists plan to compile a list of candidates they will push for those posts.

Other targets include AARP, the Business Roundtable and the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.

However, unlike the controversial hard-line tactics of the past, where threats of retaliation were made against those who didn't comply with GOP demands, this latest effort will be a more subtle reminder that Republicans control all the levers of power in town and that those seeking favors from Congress and the White House will be better served if their requests are delivered by Republican lobbyists.

"We control the White House, the House and the Senate," noted a well-connected Republican lobbyist familiar with Santorum's plans.

"The people who are doing the hiring and the recruiting [of top lobbyists] have to remember that. We're just going to remind them of that fact when they're out there looking, they better look for a Republican first."

Santorum's latest attempt to boost the GOP's profile on K Street is part of a continuing philosophical battle that has raged in Washington since the Republican revolution of 1994.

"My perspective is, we want to have people at associations who will be receptive to our message and be fair to our proposals," Santorum said in an interview. "I'm just looking for some fair treatment." [...]

The latest stage of the K Street strategy is part of a broader campaign by Santorum and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, the GOP Conference vice chairwoman, to reach out to the business community.

Santorum has assembled a virtual Who's Who of Republican lobbyists, including a number of prominent ex-lawmakers, to advise him on how to improve communications and coordination between K Street and Capitol Hill as the GOP leadership seeks to push Bush's agenda.

As congressional Republicans try to cloak themselves in the mantle of "reform", let's remember their record:

The number of registered lobbyists in Washington has more than doubled since 2000 to more than 34,750 while the amount that lobbyists charge their new clients has increased by as much as 100 percent [...]

The Republicans in charge aren't just pro-business, they are also pro-government. Federal outlays increased nearly 30 percent from 2000 to 2004, to $2.29 trillion. And despite the budget deficit, federal spending is set to increase again this year, especially in programs that are prime lobbying targets such as defense, homeland security and medical coverage.

This is the practical face of modern conservatism -- cronyism, graft, corruption, criminality. It marks a complete abandonment of those so-called principles conservatives supposedly stand for in favor of a kleptocratic and unprincipled gold rush.

And Santorum has been there from the beginning. In fact, he was an architect of the rampant criminality infecting Congress.

Update: The DSCC is runnign an anti-Santorum web ad on this very topic.

Categories: Blogs
Eric Boehlert:

One of the most depressing traits of the news media's timid performance during the Bush years has been their newfound fear of facts and the consequences of reporting them. Where Beltway journalists once eagerly corralled facts and dispensed them to the public, scribes today, like youngsters' endless checking to see if it's safe to cross the street, over-think the consequences and end up giving the Bush administration and Republicans a pass.

For instance, in the wake of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff's guilty plea on Jan. 3, some press outlets did their best, belatedly, to explain the crooked lobbying empire Abramoff had built with the help of Rep. Tom DeLay. And specifically, some news outlets addressed the K Street Project, the DeLay/Abramoff/Santorum/Norquist pay-to-play money machine that's playing a pivotal role in the GOP's deepening ethical morass. (Read a smart, concise description of the K Street Project here.) But even then, the media's descriptions have often been half-hearted at best. Appearing on the Don Imus radio show recently, Newsweek's Evan Thomas mentioned, "this thing called the K Street Project," as if he'd just heard about the day before over lunch at The Palm.

In truth, there's not a serious reporter in Washington, D.C. who for the last three years did not know exactly what the K Street Project was. (The GOP openly boasted about it.) The K Street Project was, hands down, the most important behind-the-scenes development in terms of how power/legislation was bought and sold inside the Beltway and represented an epic story with endless angles and repercussions. And yet for the last three years those same serious MSM reporters participated in a virtual boycott of the story, refusing to detail corruption inside the GOP. (Curious, because during the Clinton years the press couldn't stop writing about alleged Democratic funny money scandals that never actually materialized into criminal wrongdoing by prominent Dems.) Only in recent weeks, after Abramoff pleaded guilty and DeLay's grip on power loosened, have reporters felt confident enough to cross the street--to explain what the K Street Project is.

The chickenhawks don't have a monopoly on fear and cowardice. All of DC is infected with it. Pray the sun doesn't come out in that city, the panic at the sudden proliferation of shadows would cause mass suicides.

And that would be arguably a bad thing.

Categories: Blogs

Duck and cover!  Bill's got a Bible in his hand...!!

So what to make of our party's seeming inability to connect with voters on the issue of religion?  Why are we so timid about citing the Good Book?  Why do we seem uncomfortable professing our faith?  Why are we getting our clocks cleaned by a bunch of sanctimonious Republican hypocrites who use the same pair of lips to praise Jesus Christ one moment and kiss Jack Abramoff's hairy ass the next?  Because, up 'til now, we've been chicken, that's why.

Exhibit A: You remember, during the 2004 campaign, when the RNC mailer that was sent to residents in Arkansas and West Virginia warning that Democrats wanted to ban the Bible?  More important, do you remember how our side responded?  The blogs exploded, of course.  But all the Kerry campaign could muster was a "written statement."  Ooooh!!

Why do I bring this up?  Because James Carville and Paul Begala have a sensational new book out called Take It Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future.  On page 80, they imagine how Bill Clinton might have rapidly responded to the above smear:

Can't you just see him in Morgantown, waving his family Bible over his head, biting that lower lip:  "I couldn't make it one day without this good book," he might say.  "I read it every day.  And Lord knows every day I fall short of the glory of God.  But this book has a happy ending.  It says we don't have to be perfect; just forgiven.  But Lord, I'm having a hard time forgiving our Republican brothers and sisters for accusing us of bannin' the Bible.  Haven't they read the Ninth Commandment?  Let me read it to them.  It's right here: Exodus 20:16, `Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.'  Before God Almighty, and with the Bible in my hand, I swear to you we will never let anyone ban the Bible.  And let me warn you: If we get four more years of Republican economic policies; four more years of plant closings; four more years of jobs going overseas; four more years of tax cuts for the idle rich and more burden for the forgotten middle class, you're going to need that Bible more than ever.  Because we're all going to be praying for deliverance from these economic policies.  We're all going to be praying for food to eat, a roof over our heads, and health care for our kids.  So I will never ever allow anyone to ban this Bible."

I'm not (necessarily) criticizing Kerry's response as much as I'm screaming at any future Democratic candidate running for the Senate, the House, the Oval Office or the Bureau of Weights and Measures:  Fear not the progressive lessons of wisdom, compassion and common sense in the Good Book.  When the knuckledragger wing of the Republican party comes after you over God, guns and gays, grab a mike, grab a Bible, and smite their hypocritical asses.  As is evident above, it's not that hard...but it can be that powerful.

P.S. As good as Carville & Begala's book is, we're betting dollars to doughnuts that Kos & Jerome's will be even better. Pre-order the special edition here.  We hear it comes with a free pony.

Cheers and Jeers starts in There's Moreville... [Swoosh!!]  RIGHTNOW!  [Gong!!]

Categories: Blogs

January 18, 2006


The CT primary is around six-and-a-half months from now - Aug. 9th. In October of 2003, also about 6 to 7 months out from the PA primary, Quinnipiac [...] did a poll on the senate race in that state. This time, I just want to look at Dem voters in CT and GOP voters in PA (forget about tags like "liberal" or "conservative").

Job Approval
among Republicans: 57-30
Lieberman among Democrats: 55-29

Favorability (favorable-unfavorable-mixed)
Specter among Republicans: 49-18-25
Lieberman among Democrats: 50-15-28

Six months out, Specter was looking pretty comfortable. But as Adam notes, the race tightened considerably in a very short amount of time, and Specter came within a hair's breadth of an early retirement. Lieberman's numbers are virtually identical.

David gets into the similarities and differences between the two contests. There are a bunch of both. But bottom line, Lieberman is beatable.

Categories: Blogs
The last open thread has been pushed way down, so here's another.

And while I have your attention, I need a programmer to create our own version of the conservative blogosphere's 2008 Straw Poll engine (results page here). Credit given where due, and that poll, courtesy of Patrick Ruffini, rocks.

If you've got the chops, please email me (use the contact form). Please include your experience. This is a paid gig.  

I don't want exactly what the other guys did. We'll customize for our own needs. But what they've done is a great model. I especially love the ability to have various sites participate in each poll and then track results by site. I wonder if dkos results would differ significantly from Eschaton's, or MyDD's, or AMERICAblog.

Categories: Blogs
One of the most striking things about today's Supreme Court decision in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England was how quickly it was decided. Oral arguments in the case were heard on November 30, 2005. In contrast, arguments in Oregon v. Gonzalez were heard October 6.

In sending the case back to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, O'Connor (in what is likely her final decision) said:

"We do not revisit our abortion precedents today, but rather address a question of remedy. . . . States unquestionably have the right to require parental involvement when a minor considers terminating her pregnancy," Justice O'Connor wrote. "Accordingly, we have long upheld state parental involvement statutes like the act before us, and we cast no doubt on those holdings today." But, she added in a footnote, "it is the sad reality" that some young women lack "a loving and supportive parent" to whom they can turn.

Reading Supreme Court tea leaves reminds me of being a Kremlinologist in the bad old days of the cold war. Speculation based on scraps of knowledge, a little bit of history, and a lot of wishful thinking. But conventional wisdom on this case definitely held that Justice O'Connor would not be in on the decision. Here's Yale Constitutional Law professor Jack Balkin:

It is very unlikely that the decision will be written and delivered before a new justice is confirmed and O'Connor leaves the Court. So the key question is what the initial vote is when the Court meets in conference after hearing the oral arguments in Ayotte. If the Justices split 5-4, and O'Connor is in the majority, then the case will probably be held over for reargument. If the Justices split 6-3 and O'Connor is in the majority, or if she is in the minority, then the case can go forward without her vote. In effect, that means that Justice Kennedy's vote will probably decide whether the case is held over for reargument.

So, why did the Court push this decision through in what appears to be record time? Justice O'Connor obviously took the lead in writing the decision and confirming again that Roe is settled law, as is the health exception. With the Alito nomination, and his affirmed hostility to Roe, the timing of all of this is just too tantalizing to not raise speculation. Did O'Connor not trust this decision to be made with Alito on the bench? We'll never know. But one sure can't help wondering.

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James Webb, former secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan:

It should come as no surprise that an arch-conservative Web site is questioning whether Representative John Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who has been critical of the war in Iraq, deserved the combat awards he received in Vietnam.

After all, in recent years extremist Republican operatives have inverted a longstanding principle: that our combat veterans be accorded a place of honor in political circles. This trend began with the ugly insinuations leveled at Senator John McCain during the 2000 Republican primaries and continued with the slurs against Senators Max Cleland and John Kerry, and now Mr. Murtha.

Military people past and present have good reason to wonder if the current administration truly values their service beyond its immediate effect on its battlefield of choice. The casting of suspicion and doubt about the actions of veterans who have run against President Bush or opposed his policies has been a constant theme of his career. This pattern of denigrating the service of those with whom they disagree risks cheapening the public's appreciation of what it means to serve, and in the long term may hurt the Republicans themselves [...]

A young American now serving in Iraq might rightly wonder whether his or her service will be deliberately misconstrued 20 years from now, in the next rendition of politically motivated spinmeisters who never had the courage to step forward and put their own lives on the line.

Categories: Blogs