Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Fun with Dick

I don't spend a lot of time at Democratic Underground, but luckily I wandered in in time to catch Dick Cheney doing American Idol (scroll down to the bottom of the page; he's No. 10).

Rubberstamp Republicans

If you can spare a few minutes and $6.50, head over to FireDogLake for today's instructions. It's Phase Two of the Republican Congress Wakeup Call. This one is fun.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Collins "ethics" speech disrupted by protesters

Breaking news: Susan Collins spoke earlier today on ethics at the Margaret Chase Smith Center in Orono and was overshadowed by an extremely effective and organized group of protesters. PhilinMaine has the goods. (And it's very good.)


I missed these studies the first time around:

Two years ago, the American Political Science Association produced a study entitled Democracy in an Age of Rising Inequality. The report said people with wealth – privileged Americans – are “roaring with a clarity and consistency that public officials readily hear and routinely follow” while citizens “with lower or moderate incomes are speaking with a whisper.” The study concluded that “progress toward realizing American ideals of democracy may have stalled, and even, in some places, reversed.”

The following year – 2005 – the editors of The Economist, one of the world’s most pro-capitalist publications, produced their own sobering analysis of what is happening in America. They found great and growing income disparities. Thirty years ago the average annual compensation of the top 100 chief executives was 30 times the pay of the average worker; today it is 1000 times the pay of the average worker.

They found an education system “increasingly stratified by social class” in which poor children “attend schools with fewer resources than those of their richer contemporaries.” They found our celebrated universities increasingly “reinforcing rather that reducing” these educational inequalities.

They found American corporations no longer successful agents of upward mobility. It is now harder for people to start at the bottom and rise up the company hierarchy by dint of hard work and self-improvement.

The editors of The Economist studied all this evidence and concluded – and I am quoting a pro-business magazine, remember – that the United States “risks calcifying into a European-style, class-based society.”

Let that sink in: The United States “risks calcifying into a European-style, class-based society.”

That's Bill Moyers, in a fascinating speech he gave earlier this month at Wake Forest Divinity School, where he and his wife were being honored with the creation of a scholarship in religious freedom in their names. After tracing the history of religious freedom in this country and comparing the courageous role of early Baptists with some of their theocratic modern brethren, Moyers says this is again "a time for heresy":

We need such courage today. This is a time for heresy. American democracy is threatened by perversions of money, power, and religion. Money has bought our elections right out from under us. Power has turned government “of, by, and for the people” into the patron of privilege. And Christianity and Islam have been hijacked by fundamentalists who have made religion the language of power, the excuse for violence, and the alibi for empire. We must answer the principalities and powers that would force on America a stifling conformity. Either we make the heretical choices that will inspire us to renew our commitment to America’s deepest values and ideals, or the day will come when we will no longer recognize the country we love.

The Domenech Disgrace

Aravosis has the best summing up:

Ben was hardly an anomaly. He's the founder of one of the top conservative blogs, was an editor at the top conservative publishing house (Regnery), was a White House employee, and a top speechwriter family-values US Senator Cornyn. He isn't the worst of the Republican crop, he IS the Republican crop. He is typical of Republican bloggers, and is typical of Republicans. That's why they defended him so heartily last night on the blogs - they know Ben and they love Ben for who he is: a typical family values conservative who tells others how to live their lives while refusing to live under the same rules.

Washington Post, good luck finding another Republican blogger who isn't a racist, who isn't a plagiarist, and who doesn't just make shit up.

UPDATE: I spoke too soon. The incomparable Hunter just weighed in.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Smiley nails GOP rats

Jane Smiley has a few words for Bruce Bartlett, Sandra Day O'Connor, Andrew Sullivan, and all the other newly minted Bush deniers among the GOP:

Your ideas and your policies have promoted selfishness, greed, short-term solutions, bullying, and pain for others. You have looked in the faces of children and denied the existence of a "common good". You have disdained and denied the idea of "altruism". At one time, our bureaucracy was full of people who had gone into government service or scientific research for altruistic reasons--I knew, because I knew some of them. You have driven them out and replaced them with vindictive ignoramuses. You have lied over and over about your motives, for example, making laws that hurt people and calling it "originalist interpretations of the Constitution" (conveniently ignoring the Ninth Amendment). You have increased the powers of corporations at the expense of every other sector in the nation and actively defied any sort of regulation that would require these corporations to treat our world with care and respect. You have made economic growth your deity, and in doing so, you have accelerated the power of the corporations to destroy the atmosphere, the oceans, the ice caps, the rainforests, and the climate. You have produced CEOs in charge of lots of resources and lots of people who have no more sense of reciprocity or connection or responsibility than George W. Bush.

Now you are fleeing him, but it's only because he's got the earmarks of a loser. Your problem is that you don't know why he's losing. You think he's made mistakes. But no. He's losing because the ideas that you taught him and demonstrated for him are bad ideas, self-destructive ideas, and even suicidal ideas. And they are immoral ideas. You should be ashamed of yourselves because not only have your ideas not worked to make the world a better place, they were inhumane and cruel to begin with, and they have served to cultivate and excuse the inhumane and cruel character traits of those who profess them.

It's an incredible piece. Go read.

Koufax finalists

Get your votes in and enjoy the reading.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

We already knew this: they're insecure, defensive, and rigid

Ha ha! We're spending the night in Berkeley tonight, and what should I discover over at BlogsPeek but this gem:

A Berkeley study, published in the Journal of Research Into Personality, showed that whiny 3- and 4-year-olds:

... tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity.

The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests.

Very funny. Still, much as I appreciate the heady intellectual climate at Berkeley, I'd have trouble attending the place for more than a week, I think, without wanting to punch someone. We ventured onto the campus for exactly twenty minutes this sleepy Monday afternoon and in that time I noted:
  • a PETA display with graphic, lifesized photos of baby seals being clubbed to death and handouts thrust at passersby
  • two men clad in black leather, each with multiple body piercings, one saying to the other, "Well, then, call them 'white-centric' views..."
  • a building festooned with so many gender/ethnic/sexual orientation/racial qualifiers in multiple combinations that I kept walking around it in wonderment to see each new doorway (the Lesbian Latina Center; the Asian Gender Equity Project - I'm making these up but you get the picture)
  • a demonstration in formation, for what we don't know, occasioning a TV news van, multiple police cars with sirens, and a blocked off street.
And lots of other stuff I think I've blocked out. For instance, I spent about five minutes reading the action-packed student bulletin board (which did have a notice in the middle for a course in Intelligent Design). Anyway, maybe I'm just old and cranky.

But now I know I wasn't a whiny child!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

St. George

Another email making the rounds:

President George W. Bush was scheduled to visit the Methodist Church outside Washington as part of his campaign. Karl Rove made a visit to the Bishop and said to him, "We've been getting a lot of bad publicity among Methodists because of Bush's position on stem cell research, the war, and such. I'll gladly make a contribution to the church of $100,000 if, during your sermon, you'd say the President is a saint."

The Bishop thinks it over for a few moments and says, "The Church is in desperate need of funds. I will do it."

Bush pompously shows up that following Sunday, looking especially smug, sneering for his photo ops, while strutting his way, cowboy-style, into the church.

As the sermon starts, the Bishop begins his homily:

"George Bush is a petty, self-absorbed hypocrite as well as a nitwit. He is a liar, a cheat, probably still a drunk, and a low-intelligence sneaky weasel. He has lied about his military record, and then had the gall to put himself in uniform on a military jet, landing on a carrier, and then posing before a banner stating 'Mission Accomplished.' He invaded a country for oil and money, all the while lying to the American people about the war, with nary a care for the thousands of lives it has taken and continues to take. He is destroying our Constitutional rights, spying on US citizens and surrounds himself with cronies. He is the worst example of a Methodist I've ever personally known or known of.

"But compared to Dick Cheney, George Bush is a saint."

Thursday, March 16, 2006

But we mustn't censure him because it would make us look bad

Reuters via Americablog:

A majority of Americans, 56 percent, believe Bush is "out of touch," the poll found. When asked for a one-word description of Bush, the most frequent response was "incompetent," followed by "good," "idiot" and "liar." In February 2005, the most frequent reply was "honest."

At this point, any person claiming to think "good" when he hears Bush's name is either an idiot or a liar.

I guess enough time has gone by to laugh about it

Ex-Fighting Dem Paul Hackett gives a good-natured interview to The Daily Show, where he and reporter Ed Helms dissect "winning matrices," "The Dukakis Method," "Al Gore's 837 Steps to Campaign Victory," and other hot Democratic electioneering tips. C&L has the video.

Monday, March 13, 2006

On losing well

Digby invokes Sun Tzu to explain why opposition is our only path.

Let's help Russ

firedoglake is tracking senators on Feingold's censure Bush proposal. All she needs from us is one phone call and one email.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sanity makes an appearance

Leonard Pitts nails the moral hypocrisy of biblical literalists. And DarkSyde interviews Barbara Forrest, the woman whose decades-long debunking of creationism, intelligent design, and the "wedge strategy" of the Discovery Institute folks helped bring about last year's court victory in Dover, PA.

DarkSyde: So, is there even a theory of Intelligent Design?

Dr. Forrest: No. A scientific theory is a well-established scientific explanation of natural phenomena using abundant data acquired through rigorous scientific testing and research. ID proponents have produced absolutely nothing except a spate of books aimed at the popular audience. They have produced not one scintilla of scientific data because they have no scientific research program. ID is nothing more than a slightly repackaged extension of pre-Edwards creationism, advanced through the Discovery Institute's political connections, lucrative donor funding, Religious Right allies, and a slick public relations program. The Discovery Institute recently hired Creative Response Concepts, the same PR firm that represented Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Which is reminiscent of the larger Republican strategy for victory, no?

I was a bit surprised to find their analysis as compelling as I do, given that I'm no far left ideologue. But when you think things through and realize that the Selfish Right Wing spent more than 40 years after the 1964 Goldwater debacle building up its infrastructure, it becomes a lot clearer how the GOP can keep winning---not only elections but arguments.

Let me offer an example. If you wanted to prove the world was flat, and you sent some shill to MIT for five years to help him come up with a compelling, syllogistic theory as to why the world is flat and give him a PhD in WorldIsFlatology, and then put him in a televised debate against me, he'd probably win. But he'd still be flat out wrong.

That's about what has happened. The Left became complacent, and the Right, well-funded but shut out of power for most of the 20th century, was hungry.

The latter quote is from a review of Crashing the Gates, by the way. Highly recommended. (Read the reviews here but don't buy from Amazon if you can help it.)

Putting it very succinctly, I think

Must-see webTV, in case you missed it.

Friday, March 10, 2006

A veteran writes the president

This came in via email, so no links:

Dear Mr. President:

As a young man I was honored to serve our nation as a commissioned officer and helicopter pilot in the U. S. Navy. Before me in WWII, my father defended the country spending two years in the Pacific aboard the U.S.S. Hornet (CV-14). We were patriots sworn "to protect and defend". Today I conclude that you have dishonored our service and the Constitution and principles of our oath. My dad was buried with full military honors so I cannot act for him. But for myself, I return enclosed the symbols of my years of service: the shoulder boards of my rank and my Naval Aviator's wings.

Until your administration, I believed it was inconceivable that the United States would ever initiate an aggressive and preemptive war against a country that posed no threat to us. Until your administration, I thought it was impossible for our nation to take hundreds of persons into custody without provable charges of any kind, and to "disappear" them into holes like Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram. Until your administration, in my wildest legal fantasy I could not imagine a U.S. Attorney General seeking to justify torture or a President first stating his intent to veto an anti-torture law, and then adding a "signing statement" that he intends to ignore such law as he sees fit. I do not want these things done in my name.

As a citizen, a patriot, a parent and grandparent, a lawyer and law teacher I am left with such a feeling of loss and helplessness. I think of myself as a good American and I ask myself what can I do when I see the face of evil? Illegal and immoral war, torture and confinement for life without trial have never been part of our Constitutional tradition.

But my vote has become meaningless because I live in a safe district drawn by your political party. My congressman is unresponsive to my concerns because his time is filled with lobbyists' largess. Protests are limited to your "free speech zones", out of sight of the parade. Even speaking openly is to risk being labeled un-American, pro-terrorist or anti-troops. And I am a disciplined pacifist, so any violent act is out of the question.

Nevertheless, to remain silent is to let you think I approve or support your actions. I do not. So, I am saddened to give up my wings and bars. They were hard won and my parents and wife were as proud as I was when I earned them over forty years ago. But I hate the torture and death you have caused more than I value their symbolism. Giving them up makes me cry for my beloved country.

Joseph W. DuRocher

[Joseph DuRocher was for 20 years the elected Public Defender of Florida's Ninth Judicial Circuit, covering Orange and Osceola counties. Since retirement, he's been writing and teaching law at the University of Central Florida and the Barry University School of Law. He was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy in the 1960s, serving as a Naval Aviator in the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. On Monday, Mr. DuRocher returned his Lieutenant's shoulder bars and Navy wings to President Bush, and enclosed this letter.]

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

NSA/FISA post mortem

Long and thorough post mortem over at Unclaimed Territory, with a dig or two at the pretend-moderate Republicans:

[I]t is almost unfathomable how little personal dignity these compliant GOP Senators have. Sens. Snowe and Hagel issued a statement in December pompously expressing their "profound concern" over the eavesdropping program and proclaiming that it is "critical" that the Senate hold hearings in order to learn what the Administration did when spying outside of FISA and without warrants on Americans.

After standing up and publicly making those statements and issuing those demands, they completely reverse themselves a few weeks later when the White House decrees that they do so. …

Recommended reading.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Our gutless, cowardly, craven...

...chickenshit, spineless, weak, timid, lily-livered, faint-hearted, pathetic, nervous, Bush-enabling, Frist-abetting, Rove-fearing Senator Snowe caves on the FISA investigation.

UPDATE: "Useless." I forgot "useless."

Monday, March 06, 2006


Asked in 1944 about the possibility of an American fascist movement, Vice President Henry Wallace had this to say:

The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power. …

They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.

And of course we all know what Sinclair Lewis had to say on the same subject.

Come on, Senator Snowe

Call Snowe. She hasn't issued a statement yet on how she intends on the issue of NSA hearings, and she's sending mixed signals. The vote is on for tomorrow at 2:30 pm, and it's going to be close.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Holland is particularly good today:

Then there's the conservative way of dealing with poverty, which amounts to covering your ears, closing your eyes and repeating: "Lalalalala, I can't hear you." You move into a gated community, you consume only media that tells you the economy is going gangbusters for everyone and then, when some dirty poor people do manage to worm their way into your well-guarded consciousness -- for example, by dying in a flood -- you indulge in wild intellectual contortions to convince yourself that they deserve it. Hell, maybe they're even happier that way.

If you take the latter course, it's best to keep pesky facts from intruding on your capitalist utopia. That's Bushenomics....

On another note, we Mainers have been given an assignment as part of the Roots Project. We're going after Snowe on the FISA vote. Check FireDogLake for details.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Knock, knock

Made any overseas phone calls or emails lately? Ever said anything unpleasant about the Bush Administration? Might you have employed dangerous words or phrases like "Second Amendment," "CIA," "drycleaning," "ashes," "baseball," or "oyster stew"?

You might belong to the ranks of the great overheard. Hop over to People for the American Way, file a FOIA request, and find out. It's your right.