Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The fall of Rome

Taibbi's piece in Rolling Stone is one of those articles where you find yourself chuckling while getting the creeping feeling that we are really reading about the end times.

And the cost? Republicans in the Clinton years spent more than $35 million investigating the administration. The total amount of taxpayer funds spent, when independent counsels are taken into account, was more than $150 million. Included in that number was $2.2 million to investigate former HUD secretary Henry Cisneros for lying about improper payments he made to a mistress. In contrast, today's Congress spent barely half a million dollars investigating the outright fraud and government bungling that followed Hurricane Katrina, the largest natural disaster in American history.

"Oversight is one of the most important functions of Congress -- perhaps more important than legislating," says Rep. Henry Waxman. "And the Republicans have completely failed at it. I think they decided that they were going to be good Republicans first and good legislators second."

As the ranking minority member of the Government Reform Committee, Waxman has earned a reputation as the chief Democratic muckraker, obsessively cranking out reports on official misconduct and incompetence. Among them is a lengthy document detailing all of the wrongdoing by the Bush administration that should have been investigated -- and would have been, in any other era. The litany of fishy behavior left uninvestigated in the Bush years includes the manipulation of intelligence on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, the mistreatment of Iraqi detainees, the leak of Valerie Plame's CIA status, the award of Halliburton contracts, the White House response to Katrina, secret NSA wiretaps, Dick Cheney's energy task force, the withholding of Medicare cost estimates, the administration's politicization of science, contract abuses at Homeland Security and lobbyist influence at the EPA.

Waxman notes that the failure to investigate these issues has actually hurt the president, leaving potentially fatal flaws in his policies unexamined even by those in his own party. Without proper congressional oversight, small disasters like the misuse of Iraq intelligence have turned into huge, festering, unsolvable fiascoes like the Iraq occupation. Republicans in Congress who stonewalled investigations of the administration "thought they were doing Bush a favor," says Waxman. "But they did him the biggest disservice of all."

Congress has repeatedly refused to look at any aspect of the war. In 2003, Republicans refused to allow a vote on a bill introduced by Waxman that would have established an independent commission to review the false claims Bush made in asking Congress to declare war on Iraq. That same year, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Porter Goss, refused to hold hearings on whether the administration had forged evidence of the nuclear threat allegedly posed by Iraq. A year later the chair of the Government Reform Committee, Tom Davis, refused to hold hearings on new evidence casting doubt on the "nuclear tubes" cited by the Bush administration before the war. Sen. Pat Roberts, who pledged to issue a Senate Intelligence Committee report after the 2004 election on whether the Bush administration had misled the public before the invasion, changed his mind after the president won re-election. "I think it would be a monumental waste of time to re-plow this ground any further," Roberts said.

Sensenbrenner has done his bit to squelch any debate over Iraq. He refused a request by John Conyers and more than fifty other Democrats for hearings on the famed "Downing Street Memo," the internal British document that stated that Bush had "fixed" the intelligence about the war, and he was one of three committee chairs who rejected requests for hearings on the abuse of Iraqi detainees. Despite an international uproar over Abu Ghraib, Congress spent only twelve hours on hearings on the issue. During the Clinton administration, by contrast, the Republican Congress spent 140 hours investigating the president's alleged misuse of his Christmas-card greeting list.

Makes Kerry's "sanitized" campaign look pretty good, doesn't it, Matt?


Kerry fights back.

“If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they’re crazy,” Mr. Kerry said in a statement. “I’m sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did.”

“I’m not going to be lectured by a stuffed-suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq,” Mr. Kerry went on. “It disgusts me that these Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have.”

At a televised news conference today in Seattle, Mr. Kerry said he was “disgusted” by the Republican attacks, which he noted were coming at the end of a bloody month in Iraq. “Sadly, this is the best this administration can do,” he said.

Mr. Kerry did not mention Mr. McCain in his statement, although at the news conference he said Mr. McCain should seek an apology from President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney if he wants an apology from anyone.

Mr. Kerry and Mr. McCain, separated by party and political philosophy but united by their experiences in Vietnam combat, have been described before as having a friendly relationship. Mr. McCain is also viewed as a potential rival in the 2008 presidential race.

Mr. Bush stepped up the language on Iraq on Monday while campaigning for Republican candidates in Georgia and Texas. “However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this,” he said. “The terrorists win and America loses.”

What I find so amazing about that last paragraph is that Rove, despite the brave talk, is sending preznit out to deliver the red bullshit meat in such "battleground" states as Georgia and Texas. Christ, I remember in the days just before the 2000 election, Rove was so confidant he sent the princeling to campaign in (reliably blue) California, and damn near...oh wait, he did lose that election.

Good times, man. Good times. Despite their overall awfullness.

And "doughy Rush Limbaugh." Well said, sir. Well said.

The sound and the fury

Signifying nothin'.

Can't copy and paste for some reason, so you'll have to go, as they say, and read the whole thing.

GOP hearts Lieberman

A blast from the past.

But Republicans sarcastically responded to the choice by calling for a Gore-Lieberman debate, pointing out that the Democratic vice presidential candidate and the GOP's nominee, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, have held similar views on school voucher programs, privatizing part of the Social Security program, and the need for a national missile defense system.

During the Democratic primary season, Gore criticized challenger Bill Bradley for supporting experimental school voucher programs in the Senate.

"Instead of meaningful public school choice and competition, he proposes private school vouchers draining away precious public dollars from our private schools, giving them to private schools that are not accountable at all," Gore said during one debate with Bradley, a former senator from New Jersey.

Although he was taking aim at his Democratic primary challenger, Gore could have very well been talking about Lieberman, who voted with Bradley on a number of school voucher programs during the mid 1990s.

Republicans also say that Gore is at odds with his running mate on Social Security, pointing to a 1998 interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune, in which Lieberman called privatization proposals "innovative."

"We're going to see a kind of old Democratic Party, new Democratic Party kind of split on this. I think in the end that individual control of part of the retirement Social Security funds has got to happen," Lieberman was quoted as saying.

We held our collective nose when Gore chose Lieberman. He ain't smelling any sweeter.

The bottle let me down

Sheesh, these guys sure do have trouble holding their liquor, don't they?

Representative Rafael Arza, Republican of Hialeah, directed the racial slur at Representative Gustavo Barreiro, Republican of Miami, in a phone message on Oct. 21. The slur came in response to a complaint filed by Mr. Barreiro charging that Mr. Arza used racial epithets to describe Rudy Crew, the schools chief in Miami-Dade County, a charge Mr. Arza has denied.

The speaker, Representative Allan G. Bense, also a Republican, gave the committee of six House members until Nov. 7 to decide whether to recommend the expulsion of Mr. Arza. Many Republican leaders, including Gov. Jeb Bush, have asked Mr. Arza to resign, but he said Monday that he had been unfairly maligned.

The controversy around Mr. Arza first erupted in April, when Mr. Barreiro and three other public officials told The Miami Herald that Mr. Arza had repeatedly used racial epithets to describe Mr. Crew, formerly the schools chancellor in New York. Mr. Arza was chairman of the House education committee, with considerable power over education policy and financing.

Dr. Crew, who is black, filed a complaint with the Legislature, but it was dismissed because he did not hear the slurs himself and Mr. Arza denied making them. Mr. Arza said on the House floor that he was not a racist, and the dispute appeared to be over until Oct. 20, when The Herald reported that Mr. Barreiro had filed his own complaint about the alleged slurs.

The following night, Mr. Arza left two profane voice messages for Mr. Barreiro, calling him one of the offensive racial epithets that he allegedly called Dr. Crew. Mr. Barreiro turned the messages over to the police and Mr. Arza soon acknowledged leaving them, saying he had been drinking beforehand and lost control.

Not one, but two "voice messages."

NYT endorses Lamont

One more week to go.

No one expects legislators to dictate military tactics. But what we need from the next crop of elected officials in Washington is a willingness to face reality, to choose from among difficult options and have the courage to be honest with the public about the consequences. On those points, Mr. Lamont is by far the better candidate.

Two months ago, Connecticut’s Democratic voters sent Mr. Lieberman what should have been a jarring wake-up call when they rejected him for Mr. Lamont, a relative newcomer. We have been waiting to see what lessons the state’s best-known politician took from his defeat, and from the daily evidence of the deterioration of the situation in Iraq.

We wanted to see a capacity for growth and change in Mr. Lieberman. The country is full of Republicans who now realize the Iraq invasion was a disaster, either in its basic concept or in its execution. The most honorable of them are in agony over what has happened. Mr. Lieberman, who had not only continually defended the administration’s Iraq policy but also attacked Democrats who criticized the president, had more cause for soul-searching than most.

But instead of re-evaluating his own positions, Mr. Lieberman blamed his constituents for failing to notice that he had offered some negative comments about the conduct of the war, too, mainly when he was running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004. He did not protest when Dick Cheney said that people who voted for Mr. Lamont were giving comfort to “Al Qaeda types.” His only reflection seemed devoted to a re-examination of the rules for getting back on the ballot.

Since his primary defeat, Mr. Lieberman has run a well-packaged campaign built around his self-assigned bipartisan image — “It’s not about politics,” say his ads. But it is very much about politics — from the flood of special interest campaign donations that has been running Mr. Lieberman’s way to the old Karl Rove lesson that political winners never admit to error.

We are living in perilous times. Being able to work with the opposition party — Mr. Lieberman’s claim to fame — is hardly a sign of moral courage when the opposition party controls the White House, Senate and House of Representatives. President Bush did not need Mr. Lieberman’s persistent support on Iraq when he had the deference of his own party members in Congress. What the country needed — and what Connecticut had the right to expect — was for Mr. Lieberman to risk some of his bipartisan clout to call attention to the way Iraq was spiraling out of control.

The fatal problem with Mr. Lieberman’s candidacy is not that he was wrong about the invasion, but that he has not shown any capacity to grow and change. Suggesting that getting rid of Donald Rumsfeld might be a good idea is hardly a breakthrough at a time when the secretary of defense’s supporters are pretty much limited to the president and members of the Rumsfeld family.

Mr. Lieberman has changed his tone but not his underlying conviction that he has been right all along. He and Mr. Bush are still on the very same page, encouraging the American people to believe that there is a happy ending for American involvement in Iraq, and that all it takes is the perseverance to keep marching toward the end of the rainbow.

Ned Lamont has run a far less polished campaign than Mr. Lieberman, but the more we see of him, the more impressed we are by his intelligence and his growing sophistication about the issues facing the nation. He is very much in the Connecticut mold of basically moderate, principled politicians, and his willingness to take on Mr. Lieberman when no one else dared to do it showed real courage and conviction. He would make a good senator. More important, he has the capacity to continually become a better one. We endorse Ned Lamont for Senate.

Gerstein responds, as only he can.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Damned Yankees

Until yesterday's broadcast of the NY Giants game, I had yet to see a Lamont ad on television. I suspect the reason for this is that Lamont has been advertising on local radio and local television. And by "local," I mean Connecticut TV and radio stations. The Giants broadcast was a New York regional buy, and those spots are very, very expensive and, obviously, full of waste (yeah, New Jerseyans, I'm looking at you). Truth is, I've seen -- and heard -- a lot more Menendez and Keane Jr. (the New Jersey senate race) ads than I have Lamont (or Lieberman, for that matter). In the Jersey race, the candidates have understood they have to cover both the New York and the Philly stations to get their message across.

There's a huge problem with a fairly little known candidate such as Lamont confining himself primarily to CT media.

It's called DirecTV.

In March of 2002 the YES Network was launched, a place where you can see that night's game, yesterday's game, game five of the 2001 World Series, and lots and lots of David Justice. All things New York Yankees (and Ivy League football, for some reason). When YES was formed, the local cable power, Cablevision, decided that they wanted to make YES a premium channel, as opposed to Basic cable. They wanted to make up the revenue they lost when the Yankees cut ties with another station, MSG, that was owned by Cablevision. YES balked and the two sides remained deadlocked even as Opening Day approached.

No lover of Cablevision to start with, I and thousands of other Yankee adoring households grew more and more nervous as March gave way to April. So, over about a 10 day period around the first and second week of April, all across our great southern CT region, dishes began to sprout on roof tops, apartment balconies, motor homes, bars, etc. Satellite dishes.

DirecTV picked up thousands of new subscribers (I remember calling Cablevision to cancel my service, and the operator asking me why. "Yankees," I said. "Oh," she replied). Eventually Cablevision did relent, but in the meantime they'd lost many subscribers who found that their reception was much better with the digital satellite and, anyway, it was fun to say "Screw you" to the cable monopoly.

Cable had always tried to scare people away from satellite TV by saying that only cable carried local channels. DirecTV made a big selling point of saying that they did, in fact, offer local channels. Trouble is, by "local," they meant New York.

DirecTV does not carry the CT stations, so those of us with a dish on the top of our roofs have been spared any CT political ads this season.

And that's a problem for Lamont, whose campaign has made many informative, tough, and funny TV spots that most of us can only see by going to YouTube.

I'm not sure Lamont, a cable executive, understood this.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Decider

Funny, all this time we've been worried about Diebold's ties to the GOP, and it turns out Hugo Chavez is deciding our elections. Who knew?

UPDATE: Seems this may be yet another tip-off of the November 8 conservative "voter fraud" plan.

Conservative principles don't fail, people fail conservative principles

They haven't even lost anything yet, and yet the chorus of "this isn't a repudiation of conservatism" gets louder and louder.

The likely Republican losses in next week's elections will not constitute a repudiation of the conservative legacy that drove the Reagan presidency and created the Contract With America. To the contrary, it would represent a rejection of big government conservatism. When we get back to being the party of limited government, putting a national agenda ahead of parochial short-term politics, we will again be a party that the American voters will trust to deal with the serious challenges facing our nation.

The 2006 midterm elections will be a success for the Democrats. Republicans will have to manage their own disappointment. Fingers will be pointed, and various villains will be fashioned out of recent events. But the plain fact is that Republicans have been setting the stage for this outcome for nearly a decade, running from themselves and their own principles. We will not find ourselves by conforming to the status quo, but by returning to our Reagan roots.

Right. It's all about the big government thing. Wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that, given the opportunity to govern with single party control of all three branches of government,

They Just. Couldn't. Hack it.

On the other front

Five years after the Taliban's guests launched the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, how could we be failing in Afghanistan? Elisabeth Rubin writes in the Times Magazine,

The final draft of the U.S. military’s latest counterinsurgency manual, written under the direction of Lt. Gen. David Petraeus and Lt. Gen. James Mattis, emphasizes that if you skimp on resources, endurance and meeting the population’s security requirements, you lose. Yet for the past five years, the Pashtun provinces have been plagued by a lack of troops and resources. James Dobbins, President George W. Bush’s former special envoy to Afghanistan, blames the White House, which he said had a predisposition against nation-building and international peacekeeping. The Bush administration rejected Afghan and State Department appeals to deploy a peacekeeping force in the provinces, dismissed European offers of troops and had already begun shifting military resources to Iraq, Dobbins told me, while U.S. troops in Afghanistan were to be limited to counterterrorism. “In manpower and money,” he added, “this was the least resourced American nation-building effort in our history.” In Afghanistan, the White House spent 25 times less per capita than in Bosnia and deployed one-fiftieth the troops. Much of the money that was pledged didn’t show up for years. “The main lesson of Afghanistan is low input, low output,” Dobbins said. “If you commit low levels of military manpower and economic assistance, what you get are low levels of security and economic growth.”

And why are we cutting and running in a place where our military can still succeed?

The next afternoon, we flew by helicopter to Andar, a nearby village. I sat in the fields with a former teacher named Anwarjan. The governor had appointed him district chief for all of Day Chopan, but Anwarjan could barely travel. The entire province, he said, was Taliban. Still, he was busy with Shields getting hundreds of kids to school in the central town. He had convinced the parents that Pakistan wants their children to stay wild and uneducated. “I have 300 students now,” he said. “They’re changed. They are polite, greet people, treat their mothers well. One man can change a generation.”

But his efforts, he said, were being undermined by the constant incursions of Taliiban from Pakistan. “The leader of Day Chopan, Mullah Kahar, lives in Quetta,” in Pakistan, Anwarjan said. “All the heads are there. So why don’t you do anything?”

U.S. intelligence knows the same thing. As Seth Jones, an analyst with Rand, told The New York Times earlier this year, Pakistani intelligence agents are advising the Taliban about coalition plans and tactical operations and provide housing, support and security for Taliban leaders. Sturek told me that the U.S. is well aware that the Taliban heads are in Quetta. On one side, he said, most U.S. policy makers argue that the Pakistanis are our friends. On the other side are those, including some in the military, who say, “Let’s just drive into Quetta.”

I often received updates from Charlie Company soldiers after leaving Afghanistan. One of their platoon was killed heading up to an observation post in Day Chopan. After they pulled out of Day Chopan, one of the soldiers told me, they heard that things weren’t going so well and that the Taliban were using the fact that the Romanians had taken over to claim the Russians were back. And another soldier wrote: “Our platoon got sent to a National Guard unit to help them out. They’ve lost like six people in the last week, but none of them were from our platoon.We were in Kandahar for a little while to get resupplied, and you’re notkidding about the Canadians going down.We kept having to go to the big ceremonies for their bodies to get loaded on the plane.It seemed like they were getting messed up pretty bad. I definitely don’t get the whole ‘success story’ thing.”


Even Atrios, who put the "ger" in Blogger, is having problems today. The archive seems to be working, so for new posts go there today.
General Wes Clark TV ad for Ned Lamont


Why, oh why, can't we have a better press corps? Fact vs. fiction edition

Our liberal media at work.

Greg Sargent has a run down here of the aspects of Sen. Allen's personal background he's not releasing records on -- the arrest records from the early seventies and the sealed divorce records down in Albemale County. Following the Allen campaign, the Post today devoted a full length article to scenes in Webb's novels -- stuff that's been in print for years and only became a story when the Allen campaign released a press release. They've tried on the Allen divorce stuff, even had a reporter out West on it for week or more. But apparently they won't discuss it since they can't get access to the records.

What some candidate wrote in some novels years ago is worth more reportorial shoe leather to the Post than his opponent's arrest records and divorce records. Yea.

It's this sort of thing -- along with Karl Rove's certainty regarding "his" math -- that has me less than confidant nine days before the election.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Dixie Chicks Shut up and Sing Trailer

The revolution will be televised

The troops' loyalty must be ensured.

Dear Leader must be revered.

We will do better.

The Parkinson entitlement

Oh, this is nice.

As expected, the MSM is going bananas over Limbaugh's pointed commentary. Liberal celebrities stride onto the political stage with an imperial sense of entitlement--expecting to fling barbed criticism at their opponents while invoking immunity against any tough scrutiny of their positions or motives.

Their motives? Like, um, getting well, or maybe that others might not have to go through what they're going through? Via T-Bogg.

I'm not one to argue with these wingnuts if they want to make this a referendum over Michael J. Fox. They're gonna lose there, no matter how "hot" they think fake Jesus guy is. But are they really this insane to imply that a man with a horrible, destructive disease has "an imperial sense of entitlement" should he wish to ask people to vote for a hope that government-funded research might find a cure? I knew they were sick fucks when it came to torturing brown people. I didn't know their utter lack of humanity stretched to the sick in this country.

As always, Digby has more and more.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Gang of 500 and the Terrible Three

Bob Sommerby, who, regrettably, we haven't checked in with for awhile (we will make amends for that in this run-up to another addled election), is running a series on a new book, The Way to Win, by John Harris and Mark Halperin. The book is apparently an appraisal of just how and why George W. Bush was able to become President of the United States.

In the book they come to a "stunning" conclusion. Sommerby appreciates the honesty with which Halperin and Harris point to their fellow journalists' complicity in the fateful election of 2000, but takes exception with the way in which they get there.

PART 1—BURY THE TRUTH: Deep inside their important but deeply flawed book, John Harris and Mark Halperin tell an astonishing story about the most important political event of the past twenty years. How did George W. Bush reach the White House? In the following passage, Harris and Halperin refer to the “Gang of 500"—roughly speaking, to “the group of columnists, consultants, reporters and staff hands” (page 24) who constitute Insider Washington:
HARRIS/HALPERIN (page 129): A number of members of the Gang of 500 are convinced that the main reason George W. Bush won the White House and Al Gore lost was that Gore’s regular press pack included the trio of Katherine “Kit” Seelye (of the New York Times), Ceci Connolly (of the Washington Post), and Sandra Sobieraj (of the Associated Press).
Simply put, that’s an astonishing statement—but it appears as a minor aside, buried deep inside a very long book. In this passage, Harris and Halperin—major press corps insiders themselves—say that some of their well-placed colleagues believe that George Bush reached the White House because of the work of just three Gore reporters! Harris and Halperin have dropped a bomb here. And as they do so, they pretend they have not.

How astounding is that statement by Harris and Halperin? As with much that they write in this book, the statement is carefully couched and qualified; for example, the writers don’t tell us how many members of the Gang of 500 think that Bush became president because of Seelye, Connolly and Sobieraj. But make no mistake about the significance of the passage we have quoted. Harris and Halperin are discussing the three most important Gore reporters of Campaign 2000—and here’s the paragraph which immediately precedes the one we have just presented:
HARRIS/HALPERIN (page 129): No one who kept a close eye on the media coverage of the 2000 campaign would deny that the press corps assigned to Gore was more aggressive and more hostile toward the candidate than those assigned to Bush ...This discrepancy made Old Media reporters much more likely to buy into political party press releases, late-night comic jokes, and the general story line that mirrored the Bush campaign’s crafted version of Gore.

A number of members of the Gang of 500 are convinced that the main reason George W. Bush won the White House and Al Gore lost was that Gore’s regular press pack included the trio of Katherine “Kit” Seelye (of the New York Times), Ceci Connolly (of the Washington Post), and Sandra Sobieraj (of the Associated Press).
We begin to see how astounding their statement really is. According to Harris and Halperin, no one denies that the reporters assigned to Gore were “more hostile” toward Gore than those assigned to Bush. It is in that context that they makes their next statement—saying that some insiders “are convinced” that Bush reached the White House just because of three such reporters. For the record, Harris writes for the Washington Post—the newspaper for which Connolly covered Gore. Indeed, as we will see at the end of the week, Harris co-authored some of the reports in which Connolly made up fake tales about Gore! Yep—Ceci Connolly made it up about Gore for twenty straight months. And on occasion, John Harris helped out.

As such, this statement by Harris and Halperin is little short of astonishing. And make no mistake—Harris and Halperin don’t believe that the three reporters they name were alone in their journalistic misconduct—in the “hostile” way they “b[ought] into...the general story line that mirrored the Bush campaign’s crafted version of Gore.” As we noted in a post last week, they go on to say that the entire press corps behaved in this startling fashion:
HARRIS/HALPERIN (page 129): And it was not just those three tone-setters who latched onto a negative image of Gore. Nearly every newspaper and television network in the country did stories at some point during the campaign raising the question of whether the vice president was a big liar or merely a small one. As Rolling Stone pointed out long after the election, “Journalists just refused to drop unflattering Gore stories, no matter what the facts revealed.”
As we noted last week, Harris and Halperin accept the judgment of Eric Boehlert, who wrote that statement for Rolling Stone. Incredible, isn’t it? According to Harris and Halperin, “no matter what the facts revealed,” their colleagues just kept repeating their negative tales about Gore! Indeed, what do Harris and Halperin say about the press corps’ endless assaults on Gore’s character? “Nearly every one of these controversies was overplayed or mischaracterized” by the mainstream press corps, they write on page 128.

Truly, these are astonishing statements—statements about the White House campaign which has now transformed U.S. (and world) history. And yet, this analysis is buried deep in this book—thrown away as a mere aside on two pages of a 413-page book.

Astonishing stuff. Even more astonishing that two journalists would come to the (obvious) conclusion that influential members of the press corps had their thumb on the scale during campaign 2000 is the further conclusion that Harris and Halperin arrive at, as covered in Part 2 of Sommerby's series: That it was all Gore's fault.

Talking World War III Blues

Well, now time passed and now it seems
Everybody's having them dreams.
Everybody sees themselves walkin' around with no one else.
Half of the people can be part right all of the time,
Some of the people can be all right part of the time.
But all the people can't be all right all the time
I think Abraham Lincoln said that.
"I'll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours,"
I said that.

Marketing homelessness

Oh great. A car being sold on the basis of alleviating our anxieties over economic dislocation and finding ourselves homeless. Brilliant.

Buy a Nissan and it won't be all bad (as long as you can find someplace to shower, I guess).

Millennial zombies?

I know there's a few of these so-called "millennials" amongst you, Dear Readers. Please tell me that this does not describe you.

Jeff "Criswell" Jarvis finds something else to love about our hopeless future: a brave new generation called "millennials" who, according to the Jersey Star Ledger,

can text message, listen to their iPods and instant message on their laptops -- all at the same time. They are patriotic and relentlessly optimistic about the future.

They rarely read books for fun and most likely aren't reading this newspaper.

They are the most diverse -- and perhaps the smartest -- generation in U.S. history...

The smartest generation in U.S. History? Do you know any people who take no pleasure in reading, need to be constantly entertained by demotic IMs and crappy pop music, and never believe anything but the best about themselves and the place they happened to have been born in?

I have. They're called morons. In fact I would say that such behaviors and beliefs are pretty much the definition of moronism.

To be fair to the kids, I do not for a second believe that they are as this article describes them -- else they would all be in special-needs facilities, instead of out there tearing up my lawn.

And in fairness to Jarvis, I've lately had to do a lot of research on these strange animals, otherwise known as "kids," and what I've read does point to them being a fairly clueless, selfish and self-absorbed lot. But, when I go out to "the field" for some primary source research, I don't find that to be the case, generally.

Another "serious" endorsement

A Kerry vs. Kerrey day as the former stumped for Lamont and the latter gave an endorsement to Lieberman. At least, I guess it was an endorsement.

As Senator Joseph I. Lieberman stood beside Bob Kerrey, the former Nebraska senator, to accept his endorsement on Wednesday, the two seemed to differ about whether the war in Iraq had made the United States safer.

Like Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Kerrey supported the toppling of Saddam Hussein early on and said that the region was safer without him in power. But he added: “Do I think invading Iraq helped the war on terror? No, I do not. I think it reduced the threat in the region, which was serious.”

His comments put Mr. Lieberman in an awkward position. Mr. Lieberman declined to say whether he believed that the war in Iraq had helped the war on terror.

Initially, Mr. Lieberman cited Mr. Kerrey’s comments about Saddam Hussein, saying that overthrowing him had helped make the Middle East safer, but he conceded that terrorists had “poured into Iraq now.”

Then, pressed by reporters, Mr. Lieberman answered, “It’s a more complicated question than that, and it doesn’t have a yes-or-no answer.”

Maybe it "doesn't have a yes-or-no answer," whatever that means. But the choice between Lamont and Lieberman isn't a complicated question. You're either for sticking with an open-ended commitment to having a major U.S. military presence in Iraq (even as that presence exacerbates the insurgency), or you're not. You either believe that the war in Iraq has reduced the danger of global Salafist terror, or you do not. You're either for Lieberman or you're not. Kerrey is simply not serious when he says he supports Lieberman in this, and then undercuts Lieberman's main rationale for his ongoing support for the Cheney administration.

Jeebus, even Tweety gets that.

Chris Matthews: You mentioned some ads, some numbers there, but it seems to me, as a state --- I just looked at here --- 46th on how much they like President Bush, 46th in approval --- the president's down to 31% approval in that state, that means the Iraq war is way down. People who are against this Iraq war in the worst way are going to re-elect the strongest hawk on the Democratic side.

Chris Jansing: Well they might not re-elect him, but you have to look again at that number. 35% of people say that Iraq is the number one issue. For the rest a very strong percentage are those care about the economy. And remember Chris, when the Groton sub base was going to be closed, Joe Lieberman went in and got it to stay open. That's 31,000 jobs right there. He is somebody who they think can go back to Washington, he may be in the Democratic majority and they're saying "Look, I don't think any single Senator can necessarily change the course of where we're going in Iraq but they can make a difference about the things that matter to me like the economy, like jobs, like gas prices. That may be the ace in the hole for Joe Lieberman.

CM: I just don't want to hear from those people later about how terrible the war is because the one thing about these elections is that in every national poll the number one issue is Iraq and the issue is going to turn on that elect because we are already seeing develop a new policy refinement based upon these new political circumstances right now [emphasis added, obviously].
As Matthews noted earlier in the segment, preznit's favorability is polling at around 31% in the Nutmeg State, and the Iraq war is equally unpopular. It is most disorienting then, that the most hawkish Democrat in the Senate (hell, he may be the most hawkish Senator, period) is running ahead in the polls. It seems to be pissing even Chris Matthews off.

MATTHEWS: If you're against the war, vote against it. You only get one vote. Shouldn't you vote against it, if you care about it? If you care about other issues more, fine.


DICKERSON: That's where they're coming down, is they're saying they like, you know, the war is complicated, a lot of positions, they like Joe.

MATTHEWS: There's nothing complicated. Use your intelligence and vote your brains.
In the meantime, you know what to do.

UPDATE: Another thing that really bugs me has to do with something Jansing says above: "[Lieberman] may be in the majority," and will, presumably, keep the Groton sub base operating. Don't these pundits (or, for that matter, the DNC), realize that if Lieberman wins as an independent, he doesn't count towards a Democratic majority? Or am I missing something here?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bob Dylan - Idiot Wind

It's a wonder that we still know how to breathe.

Blogged again


In which the snark writes itself

K-Lo, exhibiting the epic curiosity and research of which she's so well known.

Rush said what doctors and other experts were saying off the record on Monday when the news of the Michael J. Fox ads were fresh to the election buzzlines: That it looked like he must have laid off his medication to make sure viewers would have a worse-day kinda look at life with Parkinson’s. As Limbaugh has pointed out, Fox admitted he does such things (like when testifying before a congressional committee) in his memoir. I knew this because I watched the E True Hollywood Story on Fox (true story, alas). That's not to say that he doesn't suffer — he obviously does. But the hard-to-watch Fox ads we've seen this week were, like most political ads, made in Spin City.
Alas, indeed.

I know, it's cruel to make fun of her and her peculiar illness.

"Have you had enough?"

Then this is for you. Enjoy!


The Times corrects itself.

HARTFORD, Oct 25 — Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut has used the phrase “stay the course” several times in discussing the war in Iraq in recent years, echoing a key phrase of the White House, contrary to an article published Tuesday in The New York Times.

The article used a database to analyze hundreds of Mr. Lieberman’s war-related comments since 2001. It pointed out that Ned Lamont, the Democratic nominee for United States Senate, frequently criticized Mr. Lieberman for being a strong supporter of the Bush administration’s “stay the course” policy on Iraq, and said that in the statements reviewed, Mr. Lieberman had never actually uttered that phrase.

In fact, Mr. Lieberman has used the phrase more than a half-dozen times over the last two years, during a presidential debate and in television interviews — including several instances that were in the Times database. As recently as November 2005, upon returning from a trip to Iraq, for instance, he said on CNN’s “American Morning” that he agreed with the administration’s view that it was necessary to “stay the course.”

“I agree to the extent that we have to stay the course of the policy we chose in overthrowing Saddam and helping the Iraqi people become free, which will really make us a lot more secure and set the terrorists back,” Mr. Lieberman said, adding that some war tactics should change.

The original article noted that the database, which included more than 300 Iraq-related comments since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, could not be comprehensive. But five of Mr. Lieberman’s “stay the course” references were, in fact, included in the database, and should have been mentioned in the article.

It is unclear why, when the database was checked for the phrase before publication, three times, it did not come up. A similar search on Tuesday, after readers complained, yielded the correct results.

Mr. Lieberman used the phrase several times in January 2004 during a presidential primary debate in Iowa. “We have to stay the course in Iraq now,” he said, “and continue to build a stable, modernizing, democratizing country there.”

After losing his party’s primary, in April 2004, Mr. Lieberman said in a televised news conference that he blamed his support for the war in Iraq and his praise of the Bush administration’s policy for his loss.

“I thought the president gave the strongest case that I can remember him giving about why we went in and why we have to stay the course,” he said then. “We’ve got to adopt a strategy of success. A defeat will create chaos in Iraq, chaos in the Middle East, and will embolden the terrorists in a way that will endanger our future and our children’s future.”

Mr. Lieberman also made his support for the president clear in an interview on CNN’s “Larry King Live” in May 2004, saying, “The president’s right.”

“It’s been a lot harder to achieve it than we hoped it would be,” he said of America’s mission in Iraq. “But we’ve got to stay the course and finish the job.”

In July 2004, Mr. Lieberman used the phrase again on Fox News’s “Hannity & Colmes,” saying of the president: “What I’m most happy about is that he said that he will stay the course in Iraq until we finish the job and the Iraqis are in control of their own destiny.”

In recent weeks, Mr. Lieberman has called for different tactics in Iraq.

Glad we cleared that up.

The GOP's theme song for this election

It's just perfect for their efforts this Fall.

From someone who knows about "taking his medication"

Cocksucker. I mean, really, that's all there is to say.

After his apology, Limbaugh shifted his ground and renewed his attack on Fox.

Support the troops

Ok, how long before the Right demands trials for mutiny?

More than 100 U.S. service members have signed a rare appeal urging Congress to support the "prompt withdrawal" of all American troops and bases from Iraq, organizers said yesterday.

"Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home," reads the statement of a small grass-roots group of active-duty military personnel and reservists that says it aims to give U.S. military members a voice in Iraq war policy.

"As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of American military forces and bases from Iraq," it reads. The group, which aims to collect 2,000 signatures and deliver the message to Congress in January, is sponsored by antiwar activists including Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace and Military Families Speak Out.

The unusual appeal -- the first of its kind in the Iraq war, organizers say -- makes use of a legal protection afforded by the Military Whistle-Blower Protection Act, which provides that members of the military, acting in their capacity as citizens, can send a protected communication to Congress without reprisal.

"Just because you put on the uniform of our country doesn't mean you've given up your rights as a citizen," said J.E. McNeil, a lawyer for the group and executive director for the Center on Conscience & War, a Washington organization that protects the rights of conscientious objectors.

But the service members can exercise this right only while off duty and out of uniform, and they must otherwise make clear they are not speaking for the military. In addition, they cannot say anything disrespectful about their commanders, including the president, McNeil said.

Navy Seaman Jonathan Hutto of Atlanta was the first service member to sign the appeal.

"I hear discussions every day among my shipmates about the war in Iraq and how it doesn't make any sense at this point," said Hutto, who is based in Norfolk and served from September 2005 until March on a ship off Iraq's coast. "There is no victory in sight, and war is still inevitable." He said he opposes the war because of its human and economic tolls, adding that the billions of dollars should be spent on jobs and education at home.

Marine Corps Sgt. Liam Madden, 22, served in Iraq's restive Anbar province from September 2004 until February 2005 and found his opposition to the war intensified after he returned to the United States. "I don't think any more Iraqis or Americans should die because of the U.S. occupation," he said, expressing disappointment that Iraqi elections in January 2005 did not lead to a decline in violence.

"I think some things are worth fighting for, I just don't feel Iraq is one of them," said Madden, of Bellows Falls, Vt. The Quantico-based Marine plans to leave the service to attend college in January.

Madden said he and Hutton met and learned of the vehicle for expressing their views to Congress when they attended a lecture at the YMCA in Norfolk by David Cortright, the author of "Soldiers in Revolt: GI Resistance During the Vietnam War."

Did I say trials? I meant "tribunals."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

After Pat's birthday

A brother remembers.

It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we got out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Read, yes, the whole thing. The day after Pat Tillman's birthday we can begin to take back our country, our values as a nation.

Or not. In which case we will have shown ourselves to be a generation of cowardly, narcissistic castratos, without the curiosity to look behind our "Support the troops" slogans to see how those troops are dying. And why. An age when the incompetence of our national leadership has less impact on the casting of votes than the spector of gay marriage. When Republicans are rewarded handsomely for their cynical use of war, of torture, of lies, of racism, of bribery, of sexual hypocracy. Of the Constitution.

I hope that's not the case, though the dark thoughts have been getting darker as we approach another hopeful election night. Because as The Poorman writes, "Behind the national and global tragedy, there is sickness."

Now, the Left did not in fact cause 9/11 (although I’ve still got my eye on The Left), so one could legitimately question the wisdom of having such a public discussion at that particularly touchy point in time. On the other hand, the Right most assuredly did cause the Iraq War, as well as the many other problems which this country has brought upon itself over the last six years of Republican rule and right wing political media dominance, and these problems may prove to be the Right’s political undoing. We’ll see after Pat Tillman’s birthday. But despite this active national crisis and a looming political disaster, the nearest thing to self-reflection I have seen from the Right as a whole is some pondering about whether Bush is a liberal; concerns that Bush is not ideologically rigid and bloody-minded enough; and the usual up-is-downism, wherein we discover that, in NewsSpeak, “policy” is a synonym for “slogan”. (Fittingly, this leads us to Jonah Goldberg, pom-poms in hand, warning people not to question his playcalling.) A few brave souls have gone further, but it is my impression that they have been ostracized rather than engaged. This is my personal observation - I don’t have perfect knowledge of everything the Right does, and I will admit that I am not a fully dispassionate observer, and I would welcome correction. But it seems that, in a moment of actual, as opposed to philosophical, crisis, a crisis entirely of their own making, the Right is mostly concerned with shutting out any uncomfortable questions, like those raised by Kevin Tillman, and by millions of Americans just like him. This is the opposite of confidence and health - this is a sign of sickness, and fear, and weakness. And I see little reason to believe that this will improve.

Feeling better? Aren't you glad you stopped by?
Joe's Nixonian Deception

McCaskill's stem cell message

Powerful and moving.

The sleazy fatman with his typical response.

Sticking principles

Interesting. Ned Lamont says that what finally drove him to consider entering the race was Lieberman's involvment in the Terri Schiavo debacle. Seems that even some Republicans had a similar visceral reaction.

Regardless, I don’t know where the GOP will go from here, and I have even less of an idea where right-wing blogging will go. I can predict that whatever happens, it will be ugly, and if the GOP wants to start somewhere when trying to figure out where things went downhill, they should start with Terri Schiavo- that is really where they started to lose my support and the support of many others. Schiavo was the beginning of the end, and is a perfect example of where this GOP has gone wrong- they suspended all of their long-held cherished beliefs for short-term political pandering. The idea was that this is a great way to shore up political support with the base, but no attention was paid to how it betrayed core principles and less attention was given to the long-term effects. It is an offense the hacks who run this party would repeat over and over- I can’t wait to hear the bleating when President Hillary Clinton (or whoever) uses all of her expanded powers in 2008. Sure, it was ‘fun’ passing those laws and using those votes to portray all Democrats as terrorist-loving defeatocrats, and it may have yielded some short-term political gains, but we’ll see how much fun those broad powers are in the future.

"Another time like that"

November 19, 1863, Gettysburgh Pennsylvania

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

It seems that, for Joe Lieberman, "these dead" shall in fact have ultimately died in vain.

Senator Lieberman's glib comment that "Lincoln suspended habeas corpus" and "we're in another time like that," indicates that he needs a brush up, not only on the history of the Civil War, but on Lincoln's rationale for the suspension of habeas corpus. Lincoln suspended it during a time of rebellion, not potential threats from terrorists. Lincoln suspended habeas corpus in order to preserve the Constitution, not because he felt the Constitution was a malleable document that could be adjusted as he saw fit or because of "necessity." Writes Jeffrey Rosen in a review of Daniel Farber's Lincoln's Constitution,

Today, self-styled constitutional pragmatists and defenders of broad executive power in wartime have little patience for the technical details of the arguments that Lincoln offered to justify his actions. The president should be able to do whatever he likes to defend the country against a serious threat, they argue, and the legal justifications for his actions are little more than retrospective window-dressing that should not be allowed to constrain his options in any meaningful way. But this cynical view of the malleability of constitutional law was not Lincoln's view. Legal arguments were central to the formation of the policies that allowed him to achieve greatness as president. They constrained him from committing excesses and also liberated him to take extraordinary action when the exigencies of the threat required it.

Far from showing contempt for the coordinate powers of Congress in wartime, as some modern defenders of executive power do, Lincoln was careful to enlist congressional approval for his most controversial actions in ways that strengthened him as a leader in peace and in war. He was not paralyzed by legalisms, and was willing to test the limits of ambiguous constitutional restraints when he believed that the survival of the entire Constitution required nothing less. Ultimately, the power of his constitutional faith in liberty and equality transformed the existing constitutional order into something greater than it had been before. But Lincoln did not spring fully formed into greatness; he made himself great by the strength of his vision and the wisdom of his decisions. To the degree that his legal training and vision were part of what guided his actions at every turn, it is impossible to understand Lincoln as the savior of the Union without also understanding Lincoln as a lawyer.

In his illuminating and unexpectedly timely book, Daniel Farber sets out to evaluate Lincoln's wartime decisions by taking seriously the legal arguments that Lincoln offered to justify them. By and large, Farber concludes, Lincoln did quite well in respecting constitutional boundaries during the greatest constitutional crisis in American history. "Most of what Lincoln did ... was in fact constitutional," Farber concludes. "He was correct that secession was unconstitutional, a revolutionary act rather than a legitimate exercise of state sovereignty. He was also correct that, in actual areas of war or insurrection, he had emergency power to suspend habeas and impose martial law." Not everything Lincoln did was constitutional, to be sure: he expanded the jurisdiction of military courts in the North beyond constitutional bounds, and he occasionally infringed free speech, although much less than he might have done. He called unilaterally for volunteers to expand the regular military — an action that clashed with Congress's power to raise armies — and he transferred federal funds to private parties to pay for the early phases of the war, which violated the constitutional requirement that all money drawn from the Treasury must be legally appropriated by Congress. In both cases, however, Lincoln sought congressional approval after the fact, and Congress promptly supported him. Farber calls this, on balance, "not a perfect record, but a creditable one, under incredibly trying circumstances."

The most striking signs of Lincoln's respect for legal restraints on the president's power are the arguments that he chose not to make. Unlike many modern defenders of increased presidential power in wartime, he did not claim that public necessity allowed him to do whatever he thought necessary to preserve the Union. He was not an executive unilateralist, contemptuously refusing to acknowledge Congress's constitutional authority over the army and the national purse. He recognized that public emergencies often forced him to act without congressional authorization; but he also understood that this made him constitutionally vulnerable if Congress refused to support him after the fact. He rarely acted in ways that clashed with the explicit will of Congress, preferring instead to reserve his displays of unilateral authority for the gray areas where Congress had not made its intention clear. (In such gray areas, the modern Supreme Court has stressed, the president has broad discretion to act during times of emergency.)

Lincoln did not claim a sweeping power to start a war without congressional approval, but only the more limited authority to respond to hostile fire against the American military. Instead of arguing crudely that ordinary legal procedures should be suspended during times of war, Lincoln asserted the much narrower power to suspend ordinary legal procedures only in areas of war or insurrection where they could not plausibly be maintained. Those who invoke Lincoln on behalf of the need to ignore ordinary constitutional protections in times of war are bad historians as well as bad pragmatists, for Lincoln showed that it is in fact possible to save the nation and the Constitution at the same time. And what enabled him to accomplish this remarkable task was the precision of his personal engagements with the legal arguments on which he relied. He did not rely on speechwriters or aides to provide legal justifications for his actions retrospectively; he justified them himself in the course of formulating them. In his hands the justifications shaped the actions, rather than the other way around.

These are difficult issues, I don't deny that. And having been in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, I can attest that the threats we live under in Our Great Times are very real ones. But to glibly assert that Bush is simply using powers that Lincoln snatched for the Executive branch is to ignore the nature of the threats the nation faced in 1861 versus 2006. In 1861 the Constitution was under threat from Southern seccessionists. In 2006 the Constitution is not under threat from Islamo-whatevers; it is under threat from a grasping unilateralist Executive branch and an all too compliant Legislative branch.

Well, I guess then there is some similarity between the times. In both eras, the Constitution was and is under threat from within.

UPDATE: Sanctimonious Joe gets shrill. Such incivility. As Digby notes, wish he'd aim some of his fire on Republicans for a change. It is an interesting angle Digby takes. I remember my father -- a staunch Republican who'd voted for Nixon in '68 and '72 (though, good Catholic that he is, voted Kennedy in '60) -- taking me to the bookstore to buy a copy of the transcript of the Nixon tapes. What finally killed Nixon for my father was not the dirty tricks, the slush funds, the anti-semitism. It was the profanity. It shocked and disgusted the hell out of him.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Pine tarred

"This guy's been a bum in the post-season his entire career," Mike Francessa reminds us. Suddenly he's pitched 23 scoreless innings against the Yankees, the A's, and, last night, the Cardinals. Hmmm.

If I were the Cards, I'd be demanding he doesn't pitch again in this Serious, but it's doubtful MLB wants to make a big deal out of something on the basis of video tape evidence that could mar what may shape up to be a rare exciting "October Classic."

Personally, I love the frisson of a little suspected October ball doctoring. And truth is, the nose to toes curve he was hurling against the Yankees was probably not the result of pine tar.

UPDATE: I've been told by someone who "pitched in High School" that indeed a little pine tar expertly applied would most certainly make the break in his curve even break-ier.

“You like to give credit, because the guy’s been a good pitcher his whole career,” Larry Bowa, the Yankees’ third-base coach, said in a telephone interview. “But he’s dominating now, not just pitching good games, but dominating games. It was obvious last night on TV — that was pine tar. It was shiny. Pine tar is a shiny substance.”

Bowa said none of the Yankees raised suspicions about Rogers cheating in the division series, but he said players were incredulous at the way his pitches moved.

“Some guys said, ‘I’ve never seen that before,’ ” Bowa said. “But nobody pressed the issue when

we played him. They just said he had great movement on his pitches and kept the ball down.”

The Independent Thinker

Mano a mano?

Remember this touching familial scene?

By the end of 1972, Bush's father was mulling over a new job offer from Nixon – to be chairman of the Republican National Committee. With his parents back in Washington, Bush went to stay with them for the holidays and was involved in one of the most notorious incidents of his "nomadic" years. He took his 16-year-old brother Marvin out drinking, ran over a neighbor's garbage cans on the way home, and when his father confronted him, challenged him to go "mano a mano" outside.

But he's all growed up now.

Mr. Bush has been saying for months that he believes Republicans will keep control of the House and the Senate, and he is not changing his tune now, even if it means taking the rare step of rebuking his own father.

In an interview shown Sunday on ABC News, Mr. Bush was asked about a comment by the first President Bush, who said this month that he hated to think about life for his son if Democrats took control of Congress. “He shouldn’t be speculating like that, because he should have called me ahead of time,” the president said, “and I’d tell him they’re not going to.”

Analyze this.

Money makes things easier

When I heard about this on the radio yesterday, all I could say was, "Wow." I didn't even know they'd begun negotiations.

Guess both sides agreed not to put anything in the way of the manna falling from heaven.

The efforts of the negotiators are impressive. Not only did they complete a new deal before the existing contract expires, but they nearly had it done before they even had to inform the National Labor Relations Board that they were going to commence bargaining. They filed that notification only a week ago.

The clubs had an incentive to complete a deal without an extended negotiation. Under terms of the expiring contract, the luxury tax would not have been in effect next season. The Yankees would have gone for that, but the idea didn’t have much support generally.

The primary reason for the early agreement, though, was the money in which the sport is awash. The major leagues drew 76 million in attendance this season for the first time, and Selig said last week that this year’s revenue was expected to be $5.2 billion. In other words, there’s enough money for everybody without having to fight for it.

When Marvin Miller, the former players-union leader, was told yesterday about the projected revenue, he chuckled and recalled, “I remember when free agency was going to be the end of the entire American League and bring the National League down to four clubs.”

Bowie Kuhn, the commissioner at the time of the creation of free agency, said it would ruin baseball. Miller recalled that Walter O’Malley, who as owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers was baseball’s most powerful owner and told Kuhn what to do, said that free agency would “be the end of baseball as we knew it.”

Thirty years later, baseball is flourishing so brightly that the owners and the players no longer have to engage in labor wars.

Lord knows, the Vega is often critical of the late, great Bud Selig, but gotta admit, he's presided over a Golden Age for baseball. The turnstiles keep turning despite the bulking up and even more mysterious thinning down of the sluggers, the Evil Empire, "Everything that's wrong with baseball," etc.

Say it ain't so, Joe.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Rallying for endless war

Fascism. Embrace it. It will keep you warm.

I am watching something so bizarre on Fox news right now I hardly know how to describe it. Sean Hannity and Dennis Miller are frothing at the mouth and jerking each other off in front of a big carnival at the Arizona State Fair. (Colmes is holding their coats, I guess.) Miller just shouted "we will be fighting this war for the rest of our lives!" People cheered wildly while the ferris wheel went round and round in the backround.
Volunteer for Ned Lamont

I have never volunteered for anything in my life. There's a first for everything.

Ned Lamont

Madame Cura and I had the opportuntiy to hear Ned Lamont speak before a small group of concerned yet hopeful Democrats last evening. He was passionate, funny, and articulate on a whole range of issues, from universal health care to "the central issue in our campaign," Iraq.

I guess it's no secret, the Vega endorses Ned Lamont for Senate.

As for his opponent, there's only one issue...

Joe Keeps Focus On Mud

`Negative' Brand Frustrates Lamont

Courant Staff Writer

October 22 2006

Upon hearing that Ned Lamont was about to launch his closing advertising blitz, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman hastily called a press conference to pre-emptively denounce ads he'd never seen.

"Ned is going to use his wealth to run an uglier campaign and throw as much manufactured mud at me as he possibly can ... every half hour of every television viewing day from here on in," Lieberman said.

Offering only speculation, Lieberman then questioned if the personal fortune Lamont is using to pay for the ads comes from big oil, tax shelters or investments in companies that ship American jobs overseas. After savaging his opponent, he promised to fight "the politics of personally funded, personal, negative, attack campaigning."

The press conference Thursday was part of a game plan Lieberman has closely followed for months to neutralize Lamont's wealth, his anti-war message and an energizing Democratic primary victory over Lieberman on Aug. 8.

At every opportunity, Lieberman has stayed on message, defining Lamont as "Negative Ned."

It is paying dividends.
Lieberman's relentlessly negative campaign, in which he constantly denounces Lamont as "negative," seems to be working. It's very depressing driving past lawn signs with "I'm sticking with Joe." No new ideas. No new energy. No new challenges to the policies of the Republican government. Just ol' Joe. It's the perfect example of "staying the course," and it's painful to experience.

Timetable for November?

November 30, 2005

(CBS/AP) In what was billed as a major speech on Iraq, President Bush said Wednesday that Iraqi troops are increasingly taking the lead in battle but that "this will take time and patience."

But Mr. Bush refused again to set a timetable for a U.S. withdrawal, saying conditions in Iraq will dictate when American forces can come home. He said setting a deadline to pull out is "not a plan for victory."

Mr. Bush said the U.S. military presence in Iraq is set to change, by making fewer patrols and convoys, moving out of Iraqi cities and focusing more on specialized operations aimed at high-value terrorist targets.

"As Iraqi forces gain experience and the political process advances, we will be able to decrease our troop level in Iraq without losing our capability to defeat the terrorists," the president told a supportive audience at the U.S. Naval Academy.

But Mr. Bush was emphatic in stating that the decision on troop levels will be made by American commanders and "not by artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington," reports CBS News correspondent Mark Knoller.

11 months -- and two weeks before an election -- later.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 — The Bush administration is drafting a timetable for the Iraqi government to address sectarian divisions and assume a larger role in securing the country, senior American officials said.

Details of the blueprint, which is to be presented to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki before the end of the year and would be carried out over the next year and beyond, are still being devised. But the officials said that for the first time Iraq was likely to be asked to agree to a schedule of specific milestones, like disarming sectarian militias, and to a broad set of other political, economic and military benchmarks intended to stabilize the country.

Although the plan would not threaten Mr. Maliki with a withdrawal of American troops, several officials said the Bush administration would consider changes in military strategy and other penalties if Iraq balked at adopting it or failed to meet critical benchmarks within it.

A senior Pentagon official involved in drafting the blueprint said Iraqi officials were being consulted as the plan evolved and would be invited to sign off on the milestones before the end of the year. But he added, “If the Iraqis fail to come back to us on this, we would have to conduct a reassessment” of the American strategy in Iraq.

In a statement issued Saturday night, a White House spokeswoman, Nicole Guillemard, said the Times’s account was “not accurate,” but did not specify what officials found to be inaccurate.

"Stupid and arrogant"?

Rare candor from a State Dept. official?

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- A senior U.S. diplomat said the United States had shown ''arrogance'' and ''stupidity'' in Iraq but was now ready to talk with any group except Al-Qaida in Iraq to facilitate national reconciliation.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera television aired late Saturday, Alberto Fernandez, director of public diplomacy in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department offered an unusually candid assessment of America's war in Iraq.

''We tried to do our best but I think there is much room for criticism because, undoubtedly, there was arrogance and there was stupidity from the United States in Iraq,'' he said.

''We are open to dialogue because we all know that, at the end of the day, the solution to the hell and the killings in Iraq is linked to an effective Iraqi national reconciliation,'' he said, speaking in Arabic from Washington. ''The Iraqi government is convinced of this.''

Or not.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, in Moscow with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, later said that Fernandez disputes the description of his comments.

''What he says is, that is not an accurate reflection of what he said,'' McCormack said. Asked whether the Bush administration believes that history will show a record of arrogance or stupidity in Iraq, McCormack replied ''No.''

A senior Bush administration official questioned whether the remarks had been translated correctly. ''Those comments obviously don't reflect our position,'' said the official, who asked not to be identified because a transcript had not been available for review.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Purdy horsey

Geez, the idiot can't even take a decent photograph, and yet seems to think he's an expert. It's about as vapid as you can get. Oh, right, he's Glenn Reynolds.

Damned immigrants

Blogger is truly blogged today...must be all those drunken Mets bloggers and their recriminations.

But this is priceless.

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 19 — The Orange County Republican Party asked one of its Congressional candidates on Thursday to withdraw from the November election after a campaign worker from his office sent a letter threatening Hispanic voters with jail if they went to the polls.

The candidate, Tan Nguyen, who is running on an anti-immigration platform, said in a news release on Thursday: “Evidently, an employee took it upon herself to allow our database to be used to send out the letter. It was disseminated without my authorization or approval. The employee has been discharged.”

The letter, which The Los Angeles Times reported was sent to about 14,000 voters in central Orange County last week, wrongly claimed that immigrants could be subject to criminal penalties if they voted in a federal election. Immigrants may vote only if they are naturalized citizens.

The letter also claimed that anti-immigration groups would be able to access a federal computer system containing the names of those who vote in October and November. No such database exists.

Despite Mr. Nguyen’s disavowing involvement with the letter, local Republican leaders said they thought he had played a direct role in it, said Adam Probolsky, a spokesman.

“The Republican Party of Orange County has asked Mr. Nguyen to resign his candidacy,” Mr. Probolsky said. “We condemn all voter intimidation, and Mr. Nguyen is not a welcome member of our party.”

Mr. Nguyen, a Vietnamese immigrant, is running an underdog campaign for the 47th Congressional District seat held by a five-term Democrat, Loretta Sanchez, a member of the House Hispanic Caucus. The district has a sizable Vietnamese and Hispanic population.

Some immigrants are better than others, I guess.

Ya gotta believe!

Oh well. It was a helluva baseball season here in New York.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Casey Randolph

Endy Chavez just stole a homerun from Rowlen and doubles off Edmunds...Geez...He just saved Willie Randolph's ass. Willie left Perez in even after the left hander had just bounced a couple into LoDuca's adam's apple and walking Edmunds. Willie's been managing brilliantly, and really luck-ily.


UPDATE: Buuuuut, why wasn't Wagner pitching the ninth? There is no save situation at home. I guess it was a "trust" thing.

We're all complicit

We can scream at "the centrists" who seem lately to be growing, literally, demented as they try to explain not only their vote for the war during it's run-up, but also their ongoing support for the course being stayed (or worse). But in the end, Billmon is right, we're all guilty.

The point deserves frequent repetition: We did this. We caused it. We're not just callous bystanders to genocide, as in Rwanda, but the active ingredient that made it possible. We turned Iraq into a happy hunting ground for Al Qaeda and the Mahdi Army. If Iraq is now a failed state, it's because of our failures.

But one can fully accept America's moral and legal responsibility for unleashing this barbarism and still not have a clue as to what can or should be done to stop it. Would a U.S. military withdrawal reduce the bloodshed or worsen it? I don't know, and I think anyone who says they do know is either lying or as deluded as Bush. But my intuition tells me that either way, whether we stay or go, thousands more, maybe millions more, are going to die.

A certain hoplessness [sic], you see.

For someone in my shoes, though, hopelessness can become an excuse for not thinking about unpleasant truths. But there was something about Riverbend's quiet despair that forced me to think hard about my own moral responsibility as an American for a genocide caused by America -- because of a war started in my name, paid for with my taxes.

I've opposed this war since it was just a malignant smirk on George Bush's face. I've spoken against it, written against it, marched against it, supported and contributed to politicians I generally despise because I thought (wrongly) that they might do something to stop it. It's why I took up blogging, why I started this blog.

But the question Riverbend has forced me to ask myself is: Did I do enough? And the only honest answer is no.

I opposed the invasion -- and the regime that launched it -- but I didn't do everything I could have done. Very few did. We may have put our words and our wallets on the line, but not our bodies. Not when it might have made a difference. In the end, we were all good little Germans.

I feel particularly complicit. While the invasion was being "debated (such as it was)," I argued that forced regime change in Iraq was good policy. It was right to want to remove the murderous thug and his henchmen. It was right to end the sanctions that were killing Iraqis anyway. And it was probably going to take the threat of force to do it, by putting troops right on the border. I did argue that the Bush regime were the wrong people to do this. That they didn't take troop levels seriously, and they didn't take seriously what was going to happen after Saddam's fall. So I opposed the war on reality-based, but not philosophical terms.

I was wrong to provide any intellectual cover for this. Completely wrong.

And now I feel as hopeless as Billmon. There is no good answer for Iraq right now. No good answer for the Iraqi people. No good answer for our troops who bravely say they want to "see this thing out." But there may be no "out." And we are responsible.

Lieberman: Let's go invade Iran!

Crazy ol' Joe, from yesterday's debate.

Mr. Lamont criticized a bill Mr. Lieberman sponsored that called for “regime change” in Iran.

“Reminds us an awful lot of how we got into Iraq,” he said. “I think first and foremost we’ve got to use hard-headed tough negotiations, working in concert with our allies, try sanctions and force as a backup.”

Mr. Schlesinger made it clear that he agreed with Mr. Lieberman on that issue, saying that it would be impossible to negotiate with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. Mr. Lieberman did not back off his support for the legislation, saying it was because “there are some leaders you can’t negotiate with.”

“History reminds us in the case of Hitler and Osama bin Laden that they said exactly what they ultimately did,” Mr. Lieberman said. “He wants to wipe out Israel and he has told thousands in the town square of Tehran: Imagine a world without the United States of America. That is possible in our time.”

He now sounds so much like George W. Bush -- that some characters are just too "odious" to negotiate with, they can only be invaded -- that it is hard to tell the rhetoric apart. Equating Hitler and OBL is a desparate tactic and a straw man argument when talking about Iran.

But is Lieberman saying that the political ravings of Ahmadinejad may actually be prophetic?

The lunacy of our senior political leaders is mind numbing. And Lamont's right, of course, it does sound an awful like the run-up to invading Iraq. Lieberman is a tool of the neoconservatives who, while hiding in the weeds these days, still have the ear of the Vice President. That's why Lieberman is so popular with this administration. He will support whatever war they want to get us into. He always has. He always will.

UPDATE: And then there's Chris Shays. I wouldn't trust these guys with an unloaded handgun, let alone the greatest military in history. For them, the men and women who are making the greatest sacrifices for their country are simply to be used to shore up the politicians' machismo points behind a philosophy, apparently, that two wrongs do indeed make a right. They can't admit that they were lied to and allowed themselves to be lied to, and hence their culpability in all the death. So in their denial, they just talk tougher. It's madness.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Remember the Maine

Maine gets Encarnacion to fly out to end the top of the 2nd. I've enjoyed this Mets Cardinals series. It's been pretty riveting and it has rekindled long forgotten memories. Although the Vega is a die hard Yankee fan, when first we arrived in New York City it was the mid-eighties and the crazy, cocaine snortin' Mets owned this town. Furthermore, Tim McCarver and Ralph Kiner were the TV announcers for the team, and the Vega spent many nights sitting on (the future) Madame Cura's couch watching the games and learning all about baseball from those guys.

Unfortunately, towards the end of the decade, Mets management got all "moral" on Davey Johnson, got sick of McCarver's criticism of the team, traded away a team that we all thought was going to be a decades long dynasty but who were a dangerous bunch, etc., etc.

Anyway, back in the day the Mets' nemesis was the St. Louis Cardinals. We hated those guys. Coleman, McGee, Whitey Herzog, the loathsome Andujar, sheesh.

The spotlight on the current Cardinals team has brought out that feeling of revulsion, even among those of us who are now reformed Mets fans. The aptly named Pujols in particular (why he's choosing to take charm lessons from Barry Bonds, I'm not quite clear) -- the perfect villain, who's been show to be a real asshole whose plaque even as, at the age of 26, is plaque is already being etched in Cooperstown. But Rowland, Belliard (who just rolled over Reyes after Jose stole second), Edmunds, Spezio and his really stupid facial hair, etc. add to the viewer's pleasurable dislike. And, of course, there's "the pesky" David Eckstein, who Yankee fans know well. All too well.

On the other side is a team no Yankee fan should root for, but our old bench coach Willie Randolph* and his gang are, top to bottom, hard to not like.

But I gotta say, seeing Mookie Wilson's kid, Preston, playing in a Cardinals uni is very disconcerting.

*Who, in an interview with Mike and the Mad Dog this afternoon, sounded very loose, very confidant...almost insouciant.

UPDATE: Reyes steals second...defensive indifference in a 2-0 game? The Cardinals just lost this game unless Wagner blows up.

Michelle Urry, 1939-2006

She had a tremendous influence on me and I never even knew her name.

Complex questions

How a president with an approval rating scraping along in the 30s and a vice-president with approval ratings that would make Nixon blush could be given the power to render the Constitution as just so much pulp, I will never understand.

Over the past few months the debate over this bill has been heated, and the questions raised can seem complex. Yet, with the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously, and did we do what it takes to defeat that threat? Every member of Congress who voted for this bill has helped our nation rise to the task that history has given us. Some voted to support this bill even when the majority of their party voted the other way. I thank the legislators who brought this bill to my desk for their conviction, for their vision, and for their resolve.

Some of those legislators.

STRATFORD, Conn. -- Weighing in on Connecticut's hotly contested congressional races, a group of religious activists have unveiled a giant billboard off busy Interstate 95 that accuses four candidates of voting to allow torture.

The billboard in Stratford names Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman and Republican Reps. Christopher Shays, Rob Simmons and Nancy Johnson as supporters of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

The legislation, which President Bush was expected to sign into law Tuesday, allows military commissions to prosecute suspected terrorists and spells out violations of the Geneva Conventions.

Organizers say about 100,000 commuters pass the billboard in Stratford each day. The billboard - 14 feet high and 48 feet wide - was sponsored by Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice, which describes itself as a statewide interfaith network of religious leaders created in 2002.

The legislation would prohibit war crimes and define atrocities such as rape and torture but would otherwise allow the president to interpret the Geneva Conventions, the treaty that sets standards for the treatment of war prisoners.

"This is a shameful law," organizer Rev. Kathleen McTigue said Monday. "It grants extraordinary power to the president to interpret the Geneva Conventions, including which methods of interrogation will be considered torture."

Proponents of the bill say abusive interrogation methods, including "waterboarding" - or simulated drowning - would amount to war crimes and are prohibited.

"This is just another example of the kind of mudslinging partisanship that Joe Lieberman wants to remove from our debates about how best to keep our nation safe," said Lieberman spokeswoman Tammy Sun. "The fact is, Joe Lieberman does not support torture. He joined 11 other Democrats as well as Sen. John McCain - who is himself a prisoner of war - in voting to uphold the Geneva Convention."

No, he joined 11 other Democrats and John McCain in giving the worst president in the history of the United States the power to say what is torture and what is not and in eliminating the right of habeas corpus for prisoners whom the president declares an enemy combatant.
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