Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Grand Old Docket

Check out TPM's list of Republican thugs and criminals! It's scandalicious. Only 21 members so far, but the criteria for inclusion are pretty strict. You have to have pled guilty to federal corruption or corruption-related charges, been indicted for such charges, or been identified as unindicted co-conspirators in public legal filings. (Don't you love hearing "unindicted co-conspirators" again?) I think my favorite so far is the Florida mob murder in which one of the three suspects got $145,000 from an Abramoff company for "catering services" and a second received $95,000 for "surveillance."

Stay tuned, because the list will be growing.

Public service announcement

As a public service, I'm posting the rules for Will Durst's State of the Union Drinking Game, freshly updated for 2006:

1. Whenever George W uses the phrases: "national security," "tax relief," "activist judges," or "affordable health care," drink two shots of beer.

2. Whenever George W mentions the tragic events of 9/11, the last person to grab a toothpick, stand, and salute must drink three shots of beer. If you stab yourself in forehead with the toothpick, drink two more shots.

3. If George W actually says, "If Al Qaeda is calling you, we want to know why." first person to finish a whole beer gets to toss Li'l Smokies at any of the others until they finish their beer. Use the toothpicks.

4. If George W makes up a word like "strategerie" or "deteriorize," drink four shots of beer.

5. If George W speaks of Hamas and repeats his earlier statement that "it's good to see people are demanding honest leadership," the first person to stop laughing gets to drink one shot of beer then pummel Suit with empty shot glass. No head shots.

6. Whenever George W talks about bi-partisanship, the last person to grab his throat in a choking motion has to eat 4 Li'l Smokies.

7. If either the Vice President Dick Cheney or First Lady Laura Bush are caught napping, last person to sing "Wake Up Little Susie, Wake Up," has to drink three shots of beer.

8. Predict the number of applause breaks. Person closest to correct number may then force the other three to drink that number of shots of beer in whatever ratio they wish.

9. Three shots of beer if he mentions New Orleans. Five shots of beer if he mentions Brownie. Two full beers if he mentions Abramoff.

10. Every time Tom DeLay is shown in the audience, take turns throwing Li'l Smokies at the TV. Suit sits out. First face hit doesn't have to drink two shots of beer. Every time Hillary Clinton is shown in the audience, Suit throws Li'l Smokies at the TV. If he hits her face, everyone else drinks two shots of beer. Use the toothpicks.

11. Whenever George W quotes the Bible, last person to fall to their knees and cry "Hallelujah!" drinks two shots of beer.

12. Whenever George W smirks during a standing ovation, take turns drinking shots of beer until the audience sits down. Do it double time if his shoulders shake with silent laughter.


# Whoever can correctly identify in advance the person giving the Democratic Response doesn't have to watch it.

I know I'll be watching toni... oh, darn! We don't get that channel!

The only way we can live

What Digby said. Don't miss it.

Monday, January 30, 2006

While they were otherwise engaged

Okay, we lost a fight we knew we were going to lose anyway. At least we fought. And while our Democratic leadership (with a few notable exceptions) were busy selling us out, here, in a list compiled by MyDD, is what the netroots got done in the last two weeks:
  • The Filibuster. The Senate was flooded with calls during the filibuster, despite a complete lack of leadership from NARAL, PFAW, and the groups.
  • Glenn Greenwald and the Dewine Amendment. Glenn Greenwald uncovered the fiasco of the Dewine amendment, which got major media coverage and substantially advanced the story on wiretapping. He is now blogging questions for the Judiciary Committee, here and here.
  • Jane Hamsher and the Washington Post. Jane Hamsher led a campaign to force the Washington Post to correct itself on the Abramoff scandal, showcasing the lack of accountability of Washingtonpost.com.
  • The MyDD poll. Chris Bowers led the first open source polling operation ever, funded and designed by you. This data revealed that there is no national consensus behind the Iraq war, the failure of the Homeland Security's persuasive authority, as well as partisan attitudes behind security concerns. (And there's more to come.)
  • SOTU parody. James Adomian released a hilarious SOTU parody, which has been seen 160,000 times so far (44,000 times on our internal host, before we moved it too youtube).
  • TV Blowhards. We've waged hard-hitting campaigns against Chris Matthews and Tim Russert, tarnishing their credentials as legitimate journalists and challenging the media establishment to examine the unaccountable pundits who grow fat off of spewing dishonest nonsense on TV. Russert has engaged in a smear campaign against Arianna Huffington after she revealed conflicts of interest on Meet the Press, and Matthews retracted his statements and spent a few days pretending he and Michael Moore were journalistic buddies.
  • And now we're exploring action against Lieberman.
That doesn't make the Alito problem go away, but it does afford us some satisfaction. And if you haven't already done so, pre-order a copy of Crashing the Gates.

We already knew this...

Racists vote Republican:

[S]ubstantial majorities of Americans, liberals and conservatives, found it more difficult to associate black faces with positive concepts than white faces -- evidence of implicit bias. But districts that registered higher levels of bias systematically produced more votes for Bush.

"Obviously, such research does not speak at all to the question of the prejudice level of the president," said [researcher] Banaji, "but it does show that George W. Bush is appealing as a leader to those Americans who harbor greater anti-black prejudice"....

As reported in the Washington Post (registration required), a psychologist at Emory has done a fascinating study on the subject of prejudice and political self-identification. There's food for thought on both sides. For a summary that doesn't require WaPo registration, go here.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Repentent Republicans

Shorter Paul Craig Roberts: half of all Americans too stupid to vote.

Shorter Chuck Hagel: country before party.

Shorter Bruce Bartlett: Clinton wasn't the devil incarnate after all.

Who's ruining the party?

I am so sick of being called an extremist just because I'm angry. I'm a centrist, okay? I'm angry at everybody. If I spend extra ink on Beltway Democrats and the media, it's because I hold them to higher standards of behavior than neocons, theocons, and war profiteers. So........ here's another attack on the party establishment!

Steve Gilliard has written a perfect gem about bloggers fighting back against the media and the beltway. The approved script says we're slavering leftists destroying the party by calling for blood if anyone strays from party doctrine and scaring away all the "value voters" and "moderates." Plus we're really, really mean to the media.

Gilliard dismisses the Washington Post as paranoid and focuses his attention on the lefty-lunacy meme. He boils his answer down to two points:

  1. We are not demanding ideological purity. That's rightwing behavior. We support Democrats who fight, period.
  2. Quit giving in before you even start. Losing does not endear you to moderates. Compromise with reactionaries does not work.
(Or, as BuzzFlash put it in a recent headline: What is the Major Flaw of this Typical Washington Post Article that Promulgates the Myth of the Elusive "Center" in American Politics? Well, if Voters are in the Center, then how come We Have a Radical Right Wing Regime Controlling All Three Branches of Government? Uh, Because They Have Passion and Battle Like the Mob. The Washington Democrats Couldn't Get Any More Centrist. Is Murtha a "Lefty." No, Those Kind of Definitions Don't Work Anymore. Bush's Presidency is a Staged Presidency. It's More About Theatrics, Deception and Getting Out the Vote Than Capturing the Undefinable "Center." It's a Myth. 1/29)

Worth reading the whole thing. And, by the way, I cheer the senators from Massachusetts in their filibuster fight. I called and faxed both Snowe and Collins and asked them to abstain or vote no on cloture, and to vote no on Alito. Here's contact info if you would like to do the same.

Senator Olympia Snowe:

Washington, 202-224-5344 (phone), 202-224-1946 (fax)
Bangor, 207-945-0432 (phone), 207-941-9525 (fax)
Presque Isle, 207-764-5124 (phone), 207-764-6420 (fax)
Biddeford, 207-282-4144 (phone), 207-284-2358 (fax)
Auburn, 207-786-2451 (phone), 207-782-1438 (fax)
Augusta, 207-622-8292 (phone), 207-622-7295 (fax)
Portland, 207-874-0883 (phone), 207-874-7631 (fax)

Senator Susan Collins:

Washington, 202-224-2523 (phone), 202-224-2693 (fax)
Biddeford, 207-283-1101 (phone), 207-283-4054 (fax)
Portland, 207-780-3575 (phone), 207-828-0380 (fax)
Caribou, 207-493-7873 (phone), 207-493-7810 (fax)
Bangor, 207-945-0417 (phone), 207-990-4604 (fax)
Augusta, 207-622-8414 (phone), 207-622-5884 (fax)
Lewiston, 207-784-6969 (phone), 207-782-6475 (fax)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Think we're impolite? STFU.*

I've said this before, but in light of my last two posts I think it bears repeating. Right-wing media figures routinely advocate violence against liberals.


"We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee." January 26, 2006

"In this recurring nightmare of a presidency, we have a national debate about whether he 'did it,' even though all sentient people know he did. Otherwise there would be debates only about whether to impeach or assassinate." - High Crimes and Misdemeanors, 1998

"We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed too. Otherwise they will turn out to be outright traitors." - February 14, 2002

"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building." - August 26, 2002

"The only compelling argument yet in favor of friendly fire." - August 14, 2003, speaking of Al Gore and Gray Davis' status as Vietnam veterans
“I mean, but this is what they're saying. It is just - you just sit there, you go, ‘They'll never get it until they grab Michael Kinsley out of his little house and they cut his head off.’ And maybe when the blade sinks in, he'll go, ‘Perhaps O'Reilly was right.’ May 17, 2005
Clear Channel radio host Glenn Beck:

“Hang on, let me just tell you what I'm thinking. I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out -- is this wrong? I stopped wearing my What Would Jesus -- band -- Do, and I've lost all sense of right and wrong now. I used to be able to say, ‘Yeah, I'd kill Michael Moore,’ and then I'd see the little band: What Would Jesus Do? And then I'd realize, ‘Oh, you wouldn't kill Michael Moore. Or at least you wouldn't choke him to death.’ And you know, well, I'm not sure.”
I simply do not want to hear any hand-wringing from the media or anyone else about incivility on the left until this problem is addressed head on.

*STFU = Shut the fuck up.

The culture of modern journalism


Among journalists, there's a deep sense of pride in the craft of journalism - I just attended a luncheon yesterday with some old practitioners, and they are proud of the work they do. And honestly, much of it is excellent excellent work. And they are keen to talk ethics, and blogging, and print journalism. But whenever I bring up TV, and especially cable TV, immediately reporters throw up their hands and avoid responsibility. They say things like "Chris Matthews is an asshole" or "Don't engage him" or "Fox News isn't what I do", as if the American public's responsibility to police the craft of journalism that they take so much pride in policing.

That same standard is NEVER applied to bloggers - are they journalists, are they reporters, are they mean people on the internet - there's endless handwringing about that question, and a deep sense that this-is-a-very-important issue-that-we-must-all-talk-and-fret-abo ut. Well, that's fine, except that if you believe you belong to a craft, and there is a self-policing mechanism, you have to actually self-police.

That means asking the same questions of Chris Matthews and Tim Russert as you ask of bloggers and journalists. I don't see that happening. And since television is an immensely powerful medium that dominates our discourse, I find it fairly irresponsible that there is such a lack of discourse.

And it also means, don't have the vapors if a few hundred bloggers get angry with the Washington Post for perpetuating a Republican talking point and then ignore rightwing blowhards when they spew hate speech all over us.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The storyline trumps the story

Call it framing, memetics, or unintentional bias. Call them narratives, memes, soundbites, or talking points. You pick the terminology, but please take a clear-eyed look at how our political discourse really works:

…the traditional media, the trusted media, the "neutral" media, have become the chief delivery mechanism of potent anti-Democratic and pro-Bush storylines. And the Democratic establishment appears to be either ignorant of this political quandary or unwilling to fight it.

Some background: Peter Daou, who managed Kerry’s internet campaign and publishes the much-read Daou Report (now behind the Salon subscription wall), has been studying the interaction and messaging power of netroots, traditional media, and the political establishment. In his earlier essays The Triangle: Limits of Blog Power and The (Broken) Triangle: Progressive Bloggers in the Wilderness, he observes that
the left messages in isolated pieces, while the right has linked its units into into a strong functioning triangle. (Here, have a graphic courtesy of Corrente.)

His point is that the media is not necessarily biased one way or the other - say what you will about reporters trending left and owners trending right - but that the right plays the media better than we do. Far better. So where the right has an “intricate interplay of Republican persuasion tactics, media story-telling, and 21st century information flow,” the left has bloggers talking hellish reality while Beltway Democratic strategy is still "two parts hackneyed sloganeering and one part befuddlement over the stifling of their message."

His latest installment, Matthews, Moore, Murtha, and the Media, is a must read.

Gonzales smackdown

Guess the Press Herald didn't have room to print this photo of Georgetown law students turning their backs on Abu Gonzales yesterday, as he spoke in defense of the president's domestic spying Terrorist Surveillance™ program. The editors were probably too busy cooking up another pro-Alito editorial in order to give Snowe and Collins cover in the upcoming confirmation vote.

Which reminds me - d
on't forget to call and politely ask them to veto Alito.:

Snowe: 202-224-5344
Collins: 202-224-2523

Meanwhile, we salute those Georgetown students for their principled stand in support of the Fourth Amendment.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The proper hierarchy of conservative loyalties

Oh, God - I think I'm in love. Jesus General tells the editor of the National Review why, despite his one-star review of Kate O’Beirne’s vile new book, they are still ideological soulmates:

I'm an ardent supporter of the forced childbirth lobby and the right of fetus-Americans to bear arms – an armed fetus-American is a safe fetus-American. I also believe that Our Leader has a divine right to torture suspects, deny due process, spy on dissenters, and betray CIA agents who endanger our nation by marrying those who would embarrass our President.

Most importantly, I firmly believe that the greatest threat this country faces is the society's abandonment of traditional gender roles. That's why I'm so disturbed by your assertion that I am part of a feminist conspiracy to trash Mrs. O'Beirne's book.

I understand how you could make such a mistake. After all, I did give the book a one-star rating, but, as I thought I had made clear in my review, I only did so because I felt she could have done more to dispel the lesbian myth. The rest of my review was very positive.

Could I have praised the book a little more. Certainly. One thing I didn't mention was the cover. It was fantastic. I particularly liked the allusion to charges of Hillary's lesbianism that the artist made by putting her in a man's suit (although I think lesbianism is a myth, I understand that accusations of lesbianism can be a powerful political tool). I also appreciated the clever way the cover paid homage to the cartoons of Der Stürmer (circa 1937) and Cox and Forkum.

I'll admit that I have a problem remembering the proper hierarchy of conservative loyalties. I think that was the case here. I chose opposition to the lesbian myth over loyalty to an important conservative pundit. I now realize that it should be the other way around, like the way we choose to support Our Leader rather than the principles of small government, liberty, and fiscal responsibility.

I hope I've cleared up any confusion you may have had about where my loyalties lie.

I am not a homosexual.

Gen. JC Christian, patriot

O'Beirne is the woman who said, "I have long thought that if high-school boys had invited homely girls to the prom we might have been spared the feminist movement."

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Stupidly cautious

Hey, Beltway Democrats? Molly Ivins has a message for you:

What kind of courage does it take, for mercy's sake? The majority of the American people (55 percent) think the war in Iraq is a mistake and that we should get out. The majority (65 percent) of the American people want single-payer health care and are willing to pay more taxes to get it. The majority (86 percent) of the American people favor raising the minimum wage. The majority of the American people (60 percent) favor repealing Bush's tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (66 percent) wants to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes.

The majority (77 percent) thinks we should do "whatever it takes" to protect the environment. The majority (87 percent) thinks big oil companies are gouging consumers and would support a windfall profits tax. That is the center, you fools. WHO ARE YOU AFRAID OF?

. . . You sit there in Washington so frightened of the big, bad Republican machine you have no idea what people are thinking. I'm telling you right now, Tom DeLay is going to lose in his district. If Democrats in Washington haven't got enough sense to OWN the issue of political reform, I give up on them entirely.

[Emphasis mine.] Meanwhile, over at Kos, John Kerry is showing his own form of courage by posting his first two diaries and sticking around to read more than 1,700 comments. He's currently something of a hero there for having lashed back at Chris Matthews with uncharacteristic bluntness for his egregious attacks on Michael Moore. (Who has already retaliated on his own, thank you very much.)

Here's my favorite comment - others said it more politely, but Felagrunt really gets the message across:

Thank you, Senator, for taking the time to communicate with us. Don't think I and we don't appreciate it, even if we don't always express our appreciation in such a way as to lead you to believe we're 100% appreciative. It's in our nature to question things; we wouldn't be here if we accepted what the media corporations saw fit to tell us.

I voted for you last November on a very pretty foggy morning in Midtown Atlanta. I pressed your name on that lying Diebold machine and who knows what it sent to its memory card? I kept refreshing the election returns all day and I know in my mind and heart that you have been the legitimate President of this rapidly-declining nation for just about exactly a year now. History will vindicate you and President Gore. I think you would have had a tough row to hoe with the situation in Iraq and the right wing firmly in control of both houses of Congress, and I honestly don't blame you for conceding even when the election was obviously stolen for you.

So what I want to know is, where have you been for the last year and where are you going? Like President Gore, you have complete legitimacy for at least 59 million people. Your seat in the Senate is yours for as long as you choose to keep it. You have nothing at all to lose and a public podium for the rest of your life.

Why are you surfing the web and fundraising?

That's a snotty-sounding question but I ask it you as a perfectly reasonable one. Why aren't you standing up like President Gore did the other day and indicting these motherfuckers, hour after hour, day after day, for the horrible crimes and sins they have wrought upon our nation and our world? What are they going to do, mock you on cable TV news? They already did their worst, and you're still a sitting Senator and half the country knows you're the legitimate President and half of the other half kind of wishes you were. Why aren't you standing on the steps of the Capitol demanding to filibuster this twit Alito, a man whose tongue has never strayed from the boots and asses of the powerful? Why aren't you using your public podium and considerable fortune to buy body armour for our soldiers -- to help raise funds from us to do this -- and shoving it in Bush's pussy little face?

Why are you and the rest of OUR party so stupidly cautious?

Maybe I answered my own question. Maybe by surfing the web and coming here and finding out what real people want -- which is someone who will stand and FIGHT, not more mealy-mouthed caution -- you'll find the... I don't know, "courage" is something that you documentedly do not lack, but "desire," "fortitude," the understanding that there are TENS OF MILLIONS of people who want you to stand up and say "J'accuse" and keep saying it until these people are in jail or hanging from lampposts.

Sorry for the rant. I do care, and I did, do and will support you.

There's something very satisfying about seeing posts like this and knowing that their target is reading them in real time, unmediated by handlers like Bob Shrum. For the record, many other comments were highly supportive, but nearly everyone had words of advice. The general themes were (1) filibuster Alito, (2) fight back and stop apologizing, (3) speak plainly, and (4) for God's sake be prepared for attacks on every Democratic candidate from every quarter.

Kerry will appear on This Week tomorrow morning - let's hope with our voices ringing in his ears.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Senator Snowe

Olympia Snowe (R-ME). Member, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Snowe previously indicated she supported amending FISA in some fashion, but voted with Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) to adjourn the committee without considering a motion to hold NSA hearings.

1. email – use webmail form.

2. fax – best method.
Washington, DC: (202) 224-1946
Auburn: 782-1438
Augusta: 622-7295
Bangor: 941-9525
Biddeford: 284-2358
Portland: 874-7631
Presque Isle: 764-6420
3. phone
Washington, DC: (202) 224-5344
Washington, DC toll-free from Maine (800) 432-1599
Auburn: 786-2451
Augusta: 622-8292
Bangor: 945-0432
Biddeford: 282-4144
Portland: 874-0883
Presque Isle: 764-5124
4. snailmail – not recommended because of scanning time.
Senator Olympia J. Snowe
United States Senate
154 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-0001

Senator Collins

Susan Collins (R-ME). Chair, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), which has jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security and the NSA.

1. email - use webmail form.

2. fax – best method.
Washington, DC: (202) 224-2693
Augusta: 622-5884
Bangor: 990-4604
Biddeford: 283-4054
Caribou: 493-7810
Lewiston: 782-6475
Portland: 828-0380
3. phone
Washington, DC: (202) 224-2523
Augusta: 622-8414
Bangor: 945-0417
Biddeford: 283-1101
Caribou: 493-7873
Lewiston: 784-6969
Portland: 780-3575
Toll-free Capitol switchboard: 888-355-3588
4. snailmail - not recommended because of scanning delays.
Senator Susan M. Collins
United States Senate
461 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-0001