Thursday, November 17, 2005

Fighting Democrats

On the heels of today's House revolt on spending, Reid blasts Cheney on the Senate floor tonight, saying "we need answers and a way forward in Iraq, not another Cheney attack speech." He also points out that anyone who has time to meet with DC insiders, oil executives, and convicted felons like Chalabi ought to find time for a press conference to give answers to the American people. He also framed yesterday's Iraq vote as a bipartisan vote of no confidence in the administration's Iraq policy.

But nobody beats ex-Marine John Murtha (D-PA) for clarity:

I like guys who've never been there to criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there, and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what need(s) to be done. I resent the fact on Veterans Day he criticized Democrats for criticizing them.

This is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion! The American public knows it. And lashing out at critics doesn't help a bit. You got to change the policy. That's what's going to help with the American people. We need to change direction. The troops -- what hurts the troops are the things that I listed before.

Scott McClellan bleats that Rep. Murtha has joined the Michael Moore wing of the Democratic party and surrendered to terrorists. Despicable.

Thanks, Snowe & Collins!

Another vote upholding the spirit of liberty and democracy from our Glorious Moderate Senators:

"On a straight party-line vote last week, Senate Republicans voted down a bill 54-44 that would have established an ombudsman function to monitor the American Forces Network," writes Bob Geiger.

Tom Harkin, who sponsored the amendment, pointed out that AFR carries our American way of life into foreign nations on the spittle-flecked cries of Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, and James Dobson, while "most offer at least 85 percent conservative programming [and] many offer only the right-wing viewpoint."

It may sound like a little thing, but it's just another example of how a vote for a Republican, any Republican, is a vote for the Bush agenda. Period.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Bishop: Pat Robertson is an idolatrous buffoon.

Wonderful rant by the Rt. Reverend John Spong, a retired Episcopal Bishop (Diocese of Newark) who grew up southern and conservative but has been fighting fundamentalism and asking uncomfortable questions for most of his career. When asked about Pat Robertson's latest Doom for Dover pronouncement, he fired back with this:

[W]ho, other than Pat himself, designated Pat Robertson to be God's spokesperson? How dare Pat assume that the God revealed in the Jesus I serve is filled with all of Pat's peculiar prejudices. Why does he not understand that God is God and Pat Robertson is not? Why does he not see that when he tells the world with an unashamed certainty what God thinks and what God will do, he is only revealing what he thinks and what he would do if he had God's power? Pat needs to understand that he is acting out the very meaning of idolatry. He has confused God with himself.

Second, someone needs to inform Pat Robertson that the idea of God sitting on a throne above the clouds manipulating the weather in order to punish sinners is so primitive and so naïve that it is staggering to the educated imagination. It is bad enough that his mind cannot embrace the thought of Charles Darwin from the 19th century, but Pat has yet to embrace the thought of Copernicus from the 16th century or Galileo from the 17th century.

He goes on to say that he knows Robertson and his family well from Virginia, that Robertson's father lost his U.S. Senate seat to Spong's first cousin - William Spong - in 1966, and that his ludicrous comments embarrass all who devote their lives to Christianity. They also raise an interesting question:

Pat is a 1955 graduate of the Law School at Yale University and received a Master in Divinity degree from New York Theological Seminary in 1959. He cannot possibly be as dumb as he sounds in his wild and thoughtless utterances. If ignorance is not his excuse, then one has to wonder what motivates him. In academic theological circles he is treated as a buffoon. No one takes his thoughts seriously.

Yay, Episcopalians.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Enemies list

Bill O'Reilly is putting together an Enemies List, no joke. So I wrote him a letter.

Dear Bill O’Reilly:

Please, please please put me on your enemies list! I have a blog called The Alna Erratic and I just can't stand you! I write negative things about you and other twisted members of the jackal pack all the time. I talk about your hate speech and cheer whenever your ratings go down, and I write letters to your sponsors asking them to drop you! Also, I lie awake nights thinking about negative things to say about George W. Bush.

Thanks in advance for including me.

Your enemy,

Hundreds and hundreds of bloggers are writing in. You can too, at

Republican senator tells Bush to lay off war critics

Well, well, well. Here's Chuck Hagel (R-NE) talking to the Council on Foreign Relations today:

The Iraq war should not be debated in the United States on a partisan political platform. This debases our country, trivializes the seriousness of war and cheapens the service and sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. War is not a Republican or Democrat issue. The casualties of war are from both parties. The Bush Administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them.

In the next breath he even says the V-word:

Vietnam was a national tragedy partly because Members of Congress failed their country, remained silent and lacked the courage to challenge the Administrations in power until it was too late. Some of us who went through that nightmare have an obligation to the 58,000 Americans who died in Vietnam to not let that happen again.

I haven't followel Hagel's voting record closely - I'm told he generally talks more independently than he votes - but it's great to have this said by other side. Maybe more of them will find their voices.

Urgent action for today

Key senators to call on the Bingaman Amendment, which is up for a vote today:
Collins (ME) T: (202) 224-2523 F: (202) 224-2693
Snowe (ME) T: (202) 224-5344 F: (202) 224-1946

Dewine (OH) T: (202) 224-2315 F: (202) 224-6519

McCain (AZ) T: (202) 224-2235 F: (202) 228-2862

Warner (VA) T: (202) 224-2023 F: (202) 224-6295

Hagel (NEB) T: (202) 224-4224 F: (202) 224-5213
Nelson (NEB) T: (202) 224-6551 F: (202) 228-0012

Conrad (ND) T: (202) 224-2043 F: (202) 224-7776

Landrieu (LA) T: (202)224-5824 F: (202) 224-9735

Lieberman (CT) T: (202) 224-4041 F: (202) 224-9750

Wyden (OR) T: (202) 224-5244 F: (202) 228-2717
Read more about its significance here, and please pass the word.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Four simple rules

Via MyDD, we have four simple rules to guide us during the rest of Bush's miserable term:
  1. When referring to Bush, always include the word "Republican" in close proximity to his name, as in "Bush and his Republican Culture of Corruption..."
  2. When referring to Congress, remember to remind readers that the Legislative Branch is Republican-controlled. For example: "Legislators in the Republican-controlled Congress today proposed legislation that would cut veteran benefits..."
  3. When writing about Bush or Republican leaders like Frist, always include the word "Republican" in association with them. For example, instead of "Majority Leader Bill Frist" use "Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist."
  4. When referring to the Republican Party, always start with the words "Republican Party" rather than "GOP." To the less politically aware, the lack of awareness that "GOP" is the Republican Party may be to the Republican's advantage.
As the author points out, we want to make sure the full measure of discredit accrues to the whole party, not just the man at the top. We want them out of power for a generation. And while "Republican" is already synomous in our minds with "corruption, scandal, and lies," we need to link the terms repeatedly in our speech and writing to see the same understanding settle on the general public.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Operation Falafel

Guess who's a terrorist sympathiser?

Read all about it here - and if you're sufficiently motivated, drop a line to a sponsor or two.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Another good day to be a Democrat

It's not just seeing their eat-the-poor, feed-the-rich, drill-ANWR budget bill derailed. It's the latest NBC/WSJ poll numbers:

When it comes to (READ ITEM), which party do you think would do a better job--the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, or both about the same?

Protecting the environment: Dems lead by 39 points
Dealing with Social Security: Dems by 22
Dealing with health care: Dems by 26
Dealing with taxes: Dems by 10 (first Dem lead ever)
Dealing with gas prices: Dems by 28
Dealing with education: Dems by 19
Dealing with the economy: Dems by 14
Reducing the federal deficit: Dems by 19
Dealing with foreign policy: Dems by 9 (first Dem lead)
Dealing with energy policy: Dems by 16
Controlling government spending: Dems by 12 (first Dem lead)
Dealing with abortion: Dems by 8
Dealing with Iraq: Dems by 3 (first Dem lead)
Protecting America's interests on trade issues: Dems by 10 (first Dem lead)
Promoting ethics in government: Dems by 5
Dealing with the war on terrorism: Reps by 9 (smallest lead ever)
Dealing with immigration: Dems by 6
Ensuring a strong national defense: Reps by 21 (smallest lead)
Promoting strong moral values: Reps by 17 (smallest lead)

Paul Waldman has more detail and analysis over at The Gadflyer.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Keeping up the pressure

While Republicans roll out the red carpet for Ahmad Chalabi, Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. George Miller call for him to be subpoenaed. Rep. Maurice Hinchey introduces a measure that would force the administration to turn over the drafts of two speeches - October 2002 and the 2003 State of the Union - to sort out the disputed uranium claims, which were pulled from the earlier speech at the request of the CIA. And on the Senate floor, Sen. Kennedy reads a catalog of administration lies - in their own words - on Iraq.

In his march to war, President Bush exaggerated the threat to the American people. It was not subtle. It was not nuanced. It was pure, unadulterated fear-mongering, based on a devious strategy to convince the American people that Saddam's ability to provide nuclear weapons to Al Qaeda justified immediate war.

I think we're seeing the beginnings of an opposition party.

On to 2006

Quick followup to yesterday's post: in-depth report of upsets in the tony Philadelphia suburbs, as Democrats rolled over Republicans in town after town.

Our job for today: Call our senators and ask them to support the bill that Barack Obama introduced on election day - the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act of 2005:

After seeing what happened over the last two presidential elections, I have some other hopes for this Election Day. I hope all voters who go to the polls find voting machines that work, nonpartisan poll workers who understand the law and enforce it without bias, lines that move smoothly, and ballots that make sense and are easy to understand. I also hope voters go to the polls today with accurate information about what is on the ballot, where they are supposed to vote, and what our Nation’s voting laws are.

It might surprise some of you to know, but even in this awesome age of technological advancement and easy access to information, there are folks who will stop at nothing to try to deceive people and keep them away from the polls. These deceptive practices all too often target and exploit vulnerable populations, like minorities, the disabled, or the poor.

Read more of Senator Obama's comments here, and read see the GAO report on election irregularities here (warning: both PDF files).
Snowe: 622-8292, 622-7295 (fax)
Collins: 622-8414, 622-8414 (fax)
Others: online directory

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A good day to read the news

The more you look at it, the better it gets.
  • Maine: "No on 1" won by 10 points, 55% to 45%. It wasn’t just southern Maine talking, either. We carried Bangor, Biddeford, and Lewiston – even small towns like Skowhegan. The measure was championed by a truly diverse coalition of business, labor, mainline Protestant churches, gay and straight people, and politicians on both sides of the aisle. A tremendous victory by Maine Won’t Discriminate.
  • Virginia: Kaine won decisively 24 hours after Bush went to Richmond to pull for Kilgore. Best of all, he made huge incursions into the sacred GOP exurbs and suburbs (of Bobo Brooks fame) and set up his mentor Mark Warner for a run at the presidency.
  • New Jersey: Winner Jon Corzine thanked voters "for rejecting the Bush-Rove tactics that are bad for democracy and that were stopped in their tracks tonight."
  • California: Voters defeated every single one of Arnold's initiatives in his expensive and pointless special election, further damaging the Governator.
  • Pennsylvania: The entire 8-person school board of Intelligent Design Republican wingnuts in Dover was tossed out and replaced by intelligent Democrats.
  • New York: Dems won conservative Ulster County for the first time in 25 years, turning a 16-17 minority into a 21-12 majority in the county legislature. They also made huge gains in Long Island and looks like they also won control of Nassau and Suffolk counties for the first time in history.
  • Arizona: Tucson turned Democratic after two Republicans were ousted from the city council.
  • Minnesota: The turncoat Democratic mayor who supported Bush in 2004 was tossed out and replaced by a real Democrat in a 69% to 31% vote. He was the first incumbent tossed out in 30 years.
We didn't win everywhere, but these stories augur well for 2006.

Big news

We won! AP called the election at 15 minutes past midnight. Said Joe Solmonese of Human Rights Campaign, "Understanding overcame fear and fairness overcame discrimination in Maine."

Big thanks to Maine Won't Discriminate.

There's a lot of good news coming in tonight. Time for a good night's sleep!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

So that explains it

The Washington Note reminds us: For Bush, it's not torture unless there is organ failure and death. That's how he was able to say "we don't do it" even as Dick Cheney was telling Congress how much he loves coercive techniques.

P.S. Did you vote yet?

Monday, November 07, 2005

His Noodly Appendage

I have pre-election jitters on behalf of Maine Won't Discriminate, Reform Ohio Now, and the gubernatorial races in VA and NJ. Polls show us ahead in all four races, but given the other side's GOTV discipline, questionable vote-counting tactics, and latest round of dirty tricks we can't rest till it's over. Maine has been through three of these civil rights referenda already, each time seeing an organized minority triumph over the wishes of the majority.

To take my mind off things I'm posting this hilarious and true account of how one man is fighting the intelligent design crowd... by demanding equal time for the theory of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. If you haven't seen it yet, go read:

[M]any people claim our beliefs are not substantiated by observable evidence. What these people don't understand is that He built the world to make us think the earth is older than it really is. For example, a scientist may perform a carbon-dating process on an artifact. He finds that approximately 75% of the Carbon-14 has decayed by electron emission to Nitrogen-14, and infers that this artifact is approximately 10,000 years old, as the half-life of Carbon-14 appears to be 5,730 years. But what our scientist does not realize is that every time he makes a measurement, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage. We have numerous texts that describe in detail how this can be possible and the reasons why He does this. He is of course invisible and can pass through normal matter with ease.

I'm sure you now realize how important it is that your students are taught this alternate theory. …

Highly recommended.

UPDATE: This just in! Even more paralyzing good fun can be had from this short video about Harlan McCraney, Presidential Speechalist. Warning: Do not drink liquids while viewing, or you will snort them through your nose.

And don't forget to vote!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The venereal game

No, it's not what you think... it's wordplay, based on the book An Exaltation of Larks by James Lipton. You think up new collective nouns (pride of lions, gaggle of geese) for any topic you choose - in this case, Politics 2005. My favorites:
A corruption of Republicans
A swindle of lobbyists
A murder of mercenaries
A scream of Deaniacs
A weep of Liebermans
A bias of partisans
A crock of creationists
A vehemence of evangelicals
A bewilderment of dittoheads
A wash of investigations (and a whitewash of White House investigations)
A delusion of neocons
A spin of talking points
A squander of economists
A howl of fascists
A compliance of reporters
An agony of Democrats
Once you get started, it's hard to stop.

It's no fun being Cheney anymore, either

John Dean says Fitzgerald is really targeting Cheney. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson says Cheney is directly responsible for the prisoner abuse scandal. Oh, and Cheney's approval rating with the American public stands at 19%.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The I-word

Via Aravosis, news of the latest Zogby poll: 53% of Americans say Congress should consider impeaching Bush if he lied about why we went to war in Iraq.

UPDATE: 46% of born-agains agree! And if you like this line of thinking, visit ImpeachPac, which funds Democrats who support impeachment.

They don't like him any better over there

Can't be fun being Bush today.

Thousands gather in Mar del Plata, Agentina, to protest Bush's visit to their country for the Summit of the Americas (AP photo).

Meanwhile, a member of Argentina's parliament named Alicia Castro took it upon herself to write Bush a personal letter and put the protesters' feelings into words.

Here's a portion (translated from the Spanish by the European Tribune):

We do not want you to come to our country. Maybe for diplomatic reasons, our Chancery will not have made you aware how reviled you are by our people. It is not simply that we disagree with your policies, but that you represent a danger to the democracies of South America. We Argentinians have nothing against the American people, but much against the government that has put the largest political and military might in the planet at the service of bloody ambition, which does not doubt to annihilate lives to appropriate someone else's oil, to make money from arms trade and, moreover, to expand its most sinister industry: the one that reconstructs what you destroy. ...

Spare us your undesirable presence. We do not share anything that can be debated at the Summit of the Americas….

We South Americans are for the happiness, freedom and life of peoples, we are also for peace. You are on the side of war, of predation and of death.

Emphasis added by me, with glee.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Waaaah! Snowe & Collins whine about Reid

Snowe & Collins criticize Reid's closed-session move as partisan, theatrical, diversionary and - horrors! - disorderly. Says Snowe:

The Senate could have come together in an orderly fashion to address the issues raised by the minority through a deliberative process working with Senate leadership.

You know, she's right. They could have. In an alternate universe, that is, in which George W. Bush is still a failed businessman in Texas, Dr. Frist is still killing cats back in Tennessee, and Democrats represent the people of Maine in the United States Senate.

UPDATE: As usual, Fafblog puts it better:

Oh how Giblets longs for the good old days of seven months ago, when the stately Bill Frist held court over an emergency session to prolong the life of the famously vegetative, or when the august Rick Santorum compared gay marriage to terrorism on the Senate floor! Instead we must endure the pernicious and terrible tricks of Harry Reid, Mormon from Hell, as he hijacks America's upper house in some petty quest for Congressional oversight! Giblets just doesn't know if he can ever trust him again. Giblets is a Frist man from now on! Next week Giblets is given to understand the majority leader will restore the dignity of the legislature by dressing up in a giant fetus costume and jumping through a hoop of fire in the Capitol rotunda.

Ethics hilarity

Ha! Judy Miller consults her own paper's ethics column, three years too late. Brilliant snark from The Panopticist.

Hat tip Alternet.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

We can relax about Rove

We can relax about Rove still being in the White House because we know the president is a man of his word, and the president said that anyone who was involved in leaking
remembers leaking
leaked and was indicted
leaked and was indicted for leaking, not for perjury
the name of an undercover CIA agent
an undercover CIA agent whose job status was classified
an undercover CIA agent posted in the US less than five years and meeting all other definitions of "covert" in the Intelligent Identities Protection Act
would no longer be part of this administration
stay put until the investigation is done
stay put until the investigation AND any trial or other legal proceedings are done
. So there.

From today's press gaggle (via Think Progress):

Q Kind of a housekeeping question. You repeatedly say that you’ve been instructed not to comment on the CIA leaks case, because there’s an ongoing investigation. Can we infer from that that when Fitzgerald announces his investigation is completed you will be in a position to comment?

MR. McCLELLAN: I said I’d be glad to talk more about it after it’s come to a conclusion.

Q Well, would that mark the conclusion?

MR. McCLELLAN: Would what?

Q The end of the Fitzgerald investigation.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there’s an investigation and legal proceeding. And the comments I make –

Q So now you’re adding court cases.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Bob, I think any time there’s been a legal matter going on, we’ve said, that’s a legal matter.

Q No, what you said is, you can’t comment on an ongoing investigation.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think what I said last — and look what I said –

Q So you’ve added the words, “legal proceeding.”

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, now there is a legal proceeding.

Q So you’re adding the words, “legal proceeding,” to the formulation.

MR. McCLELLAN: That’s not — any time there is a legal proceeding such as that, we don’t discuss it. I mean, I think you can look back at –

Q Because –

MR. McCLELLAN: Because it’s a legal matter, and it’s before the courts.

Q The world is crawling with legal matters that the White House comments on all the time. What sets this apart?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, there are legal matters that occur all the time that we do not comment on, because they’re ongoing legal matters that are before the courts. Remember, numerous times we’ve referred stuff to the Justice Department because it’s an ongoing legal proceeding.

Q What is the concern of the White House, they’re not commenting?

MR. McCLELLAN: Exactly what I said. Maybe you want to go back and look at my remarks, but we don’t want to prejudice the opportunity for there to be a fair and impartial trial.

Q Okay, because your remarks earlier had suggested that you didn’t want to influence an investigation that was ongoing.

MR. McCLELLAN: We don’t want to do that, either. We want to do our part to continue to cooperate, and that’s what we will do.

Meanwhile: As the White House gamely continues wanting to do their part to continue to cooperate, William F. Buckley announces that the leak is a deadly serious matter and Trent Lott hints that Rove should resign.

The Liberty Platform

Remember all the framing talk and 10-word platform contests and search for the perfect Democratic elevator speech? I have files full of them. But somehow when my back was turned Digby just sat down and wrote the perfect, simple, elegant solution:

Personal liberty, economic responsibility, land conservation, energy independence, and effective national security.

Okay, so it's 11 words (12 if you count the conjunction). He calls it the Liberty Platform. We could win on this.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Reid! Reid! Reid! Reid! Reid! Reid! Reid! Reid! Reid! Reid! Reid! Reid! Reid! Reid! Reid! Reid! Reid! Reid! Reid! Reid! Reid!

Frist comes unglued; Reid stays calm and furious.

Send some love to the Man from Searchlight.

Snowe & Collins: "Fraudulent moderates"

God, I love it when somebody backs me up on the damage they do.

Raise your own CAFE standards

There's a superb diary over at Kos today on how to improve your car's fuel efficiency - probably the most useful action an individual can take to help this nation cut emissions, save money, boost health, and weaken our sick and symbiotic ties to Saudi Arabia. Outside the voting booth, that is.

It's divided into three sections: (1) Change a few habits; (2) Maintain your stuff; and (3) Buy a few things. Very simple and well presented, with lots of research links. Some tips you will have heard before...

Don't Be an Aggressive Driver. Accelerate slowly - stomping on the gas will kill your fuel efficiency quickly and easily. Also - remember that every time you step on the gas and then brake, you are wasting gas. Several aggressive driving habits (such as accelerating and breaking to weave traffic lanes) are wasteful for this reason.

[Are you listening, M---?] ...and some may be new:

Refuel Early in the Morning or Late in the Evening. According to the EPA: When the weather is warm, try to refuel early in the morning or late in the evening. This will reduce the amount of evaporative emissions being pushed out of the tank during the heat of the day, when smog most easily forms. On Ozone Action Days, try not to refuel at all. And never top off your tank beyond the automatic shutoff point.

It's not self-righteous or crunchy granola in tone, either, just helpful. Also has contact info for activist geeks. Highly recommended.

UPDATE: More Bush lawbreaking - this time on energy standards. Elliot Spitzer and a few NGOs are suing the Department of Energy in attempt to bring them to heel.