Saturday, April 9


To my mom, sisters, five kids and assorted other relatives and friends:

This has been a week to remember. Ten days after my husband's heart attack, I assumed my new position as Director of Communication Services (I was formerly Director of Corporate Marketing, but my boss and title were recently changed) and was immediately thrown a dozen immediate assignments in addition to my long-time responsibilities for our Fortune 200 company's web site, intranet, film and video production, and creative services for special events. Thank goodness my mother-in-law was visiting us to watch over The Sage, since I was later than usual coming home each night. When I'd arrive I'd spend a couple of hours researching and testing recipes to spice up his now extremely limited and bland diet. We'd eat around 8:30 p.m. and then I'd prepare his lunches for the next day. Around 10:30 I'd finally have a chance to sit beside him and hold his hand while we watched a movie. Most nights I almost immediately fell asleep before the TV -- one night he went to bed, leaving me asleep on the couch (I woke at 3 a.m. with grooves embedded in my feet from where they were propped on the coffee table). Did I forget to mention the kids arriving every evening to check on their dad and expecting me to feed them something reminiscent of my old Southern-fried cooking and not fat- and cholesterol-free? Oh yes, and on Tuesday evening I had two teeth extracted and a temporary bridge put in place that cut into my gums so badly I couldn't talk the next day without a great deal of pain (I had it cut down the next evening).

It's only in the wee hours of the morning that I've been able to steal a glance at the news, typing out short posts to later be posted during work hours when my printer is busy. Mama, I know you say you depend upon me to keep you informed about current events -- but the most important events these days seem to be occurring in my own life, so the best I can do is point you to a few news stories. The commentary, which takes more time and thought, will have to wait until God creates a few more hours in the day.


Richard Cohen addresses Bush's breach of faith with America:

The record will show, however, that as war approached I was expressing second thoughts. I urged patience since it was becoming obvious that my source might be right: Saddam's various arms programs either didn't exist or were being hyped by the administration. In short, I knew that the most alarming case against Saddam Hussein — that he was an imminent threat to the United States — was a lie.

Paradoxically, that basic fact becomes increasingly obscure the more one commission or another looks into America's epic intelligence failures. No doubt they were legion and no doubt they contributed to a public case for war, but the inadvertent impression left by these commissions — buttressed by the aw-shucks demeanor of the Bush administration — that something like an act of God led America to war is just plain ridiculous. America went to war because George Bush wanted to go to war.
From the very start, he had expressed the view that he had no need to read newspapers because, as he insisted, he got everything he needed from briefings. Unlike Bill Clinton, who got the PDB (the President's Daily Brief) on paper and routinely defaced it with questions and comments, Bush's briefings were delivered orally, much like children's medicine. Much was made of them, but we now know they were worthless and sometimes misleading.
No doubt that Iraq was a doozy of an intelligence failure. But it was, fundamentally and above all, a breach of faith with the American people. When it comes to matters of life and death, we expect our government to level with us. The Bush administration did not — and it would not matter if all of the Middle East, from the Tigris to the Nile, becomes a democracy overnight. The fact will still remain that this war was fought for a lie. The failure was not in intelligence. It was in political character.


David Brooks demonstrates that he understands the current Republican dilemma, then ends his op-ed piece with an assertion that shows his own disconnect.

DENNY HASTERT should be the public face of the party? The mean-spirited Tom DeLay crony who is Speaker of the House? The same Dennis Hastert who suggested that George Soros got his money from drug dealing? The same Denny Hastert who questioned John McCain's patriotism and Republican credentials?

If the Repugs like this guy, it's just one more reason why I don't like them.

Friday, April 8


Barbara at Mahablog has a must-read post up re wingnut assertions that the judiciary is supposed to rubber-stamp all legislation.


Margaret Carlson asks why no-one in seems to be angry about the intelligence failures leading up to the Iraq war.

So why care about anger? The ease with which many in Washington accept that we went to war on a false pretext means it could happen again. If someone doesn't say that this isn't only an organizational problem but a political one, CIA analysts will believe that if you give the boss what he wants, you'll be fine. And so will the boss.

Look at the people gone: Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill; director of the National Economic Council, Lawrence Lindsey; Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki. They spoke the truth. Look at the people rewarded: Tenet, L. Paul Bremer III, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and all those welcomed to a second term, like Donald Rumsfeld and Cheney.

The lesson is clear: Nothing upends a career in Bushworld like devotion to the truth. For delivering the appearance of a slam dunk, Tenet was awarded the Medal of Freedom. For playing his part, Powell, the noble warrior, was not invited back.


Robert Kuttner sounds the alarm about the extension of the Alternative Minimum Tax to middle-class families:

The AMT was enacted in 1970 to prevent very wealthy taxpayers from pyramiding tax deductions and literally paying no tax at all. The idea was that no matter how many deductions you had, you were still required to pay some tax based on an alternative tax schedule. That made sense.

But now, due to inflation coupled with administration tax policies, the AMT is hitting millions of ordinary families, many earning well under $100,000 a year. Within five years, 37 percent of people earning between $50,000 and $75,000 and 73 percent of those with incomes between $75,000 and $100,000 will pay the AMT, compared with less than 3 percent three years ago. Nearly all families earning over $100,000 will pay it, according to a Brookings Institution study.

The AMT reduces the value of the most common middle-class tax deductions, such as the ones for property taxes, state income taxes, medical care, and child exemptions. Adding insult to injury, it leaves intact some of the complex tax shelters used by the wealthiest.

So if you are a home-owning family with children in a state like Massachusetts with high housing costs, you may well get hit this year with a covert tax increase -- via the AMT. For many upper-middle-class families, the AMT tax increase more than wipes out all of Bush's tax cuts.

But Bush has not addressed the AMT tax increase. Why not? Because his administration needs all that revenue to plug the holes in the budget caused by his other tax cuts.


Slate has a pretty good roundup of the Tom DeLay scandals.


News stories you might have missed during the Schiavo-Pope coverage:

(1) The right-wing's renewed charges of a lack of "happy stories" coming out of Iraq.
(2) The insurgent attack on Abu Ghraib prison.
(3) The Zimbabwe elections.
(4) Discussion on the report of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction.


Anyone know what the Bush twins are doing these days besides partying? I mean, I was just wondering if they're teaching in the inner city or what-not, you know, fulfilling their campaign promises for after-college life.


Vincent Cannistaro, former CIA head of counterterrorism operations and intelligence director at the National Security Council under Reagan, thinks he knows who fabricated the documents that showed that Iraq was trying to purchase uranium for a nuclear program:

Q: Well, Ambassador Wilson publicly refuted the claims — particularly the 16 words in the President’s State of the Union address that the Iraqis were trying to buy significant quantities of uranium from Niger. That document, I understand, was fabricated ... it originally came out of Italian intelligence, I think SISME, or SISDE—I’m not sure which one.

A: It was SISME, yeah. ...

[D]uring the two-thousands when we’re talking about acquiring information on Iraq. It isn’t that anyone had a good source on Iraq—there weren’t any good sources. The Italian intelligence service, the military intelligence service, was acquiring information that was really being hand-fed to them by very dubious sources. The Niger documents, for example, which apparently were produced in the United States, yet were funneled through the Italians.

Q: Do we know who produced those documents? Because there’s some suspicion ...

A: I think I do, but I’d rather not speak about it right now, because I don’t think it’s a proven case ...

Q: If I said “Michael Ledeen” ?

A: You’d be very close . . .

Thursday, April 7


What are they thinking? The Florida legislature is about to pas a bill that allows people to kill with impunity anyone who threatens them, even in a public place, without requiring them to first attempt to escape.

Democrats pointed out the irony of the Florida legislature passing the Bill after both the President and his brother tried to intervene to save the life of Terri Schiavo, the severely brain-damaged woman who died last week after a state court ordered the removal of her feeding tube.

Democrat Dan Gelber said: "For a House that talks about the culture of life, it’s ironic that we would be devaluing life in this Bill. That’s exactly what we’re doing."

Irv Slosberg, Democrat representative of Boca Raton, said: "All this Bill will do is sell more guns and possibly turn Florida into the OK Corral."

I can see it now -- every wild-eyed lunatic wingnut in the state will be packing heat and itching to let loose on the first guy who doesn't hold his mouth the right way. Who's going to determine whether a fear of death or great bodily harm is "reasonable"?

The bill passed 94-20 in the Florida House. Sounds like more than a few Dems crossed the line on this one.


I'd been wondering why Jimmy Carter wasn't attending the Pope's funeral.


Jacob Weisberg reacts to the Intelligence Commission's conclusion that there was no politicization involved in the intelligence screwups leading to the Iraq invasion.

On one central point, however, the report is utterly, laughably, embarrassingly unpersuasive: that our world-altering intelligence screw-up was not the result of political pressure from the White House. "The Commission has found no evidence of 'politicization' of the Intelligence Community's assessments concerning Iraq's reported WMD programs," the document declares. But all you need is the report itself to see just how obviously intelligence was politicized.
Co-chairman Chuck Robb and his colleagues have a trick that allows them to deny the obvious with a straight face. They rely heavily on an apparently actual figure at the CIA called the "Ombudsman for Politicization." To this Dvorkin-esque super-spook, politicization (as is explained in a crucial footnote on Page 247) is "alteration of analytical judgments under pressure to reach a particular conclusion." The CIA's ombudsman has issued his own report finding—you guessed it—"no evidence" of such politicization of the intelligence on Iraqi WMD.

Can torturing a definition violate the Geneva Convention? If a CIA analyst loads the dice so that his boss can tell the president that evidence of Iraqi WMD is a "slam dunk," that's not politicization, according to the Ombudsman for Politicization's phrase book. If an analyst tilts to the wrong side of a factual question in hopes of increasing funding for his division, that's not politicization. If he shades the truth lest his agency be eclipsed by a more tractable, reporting-to-Rumsfeld rival, that's not politicization, either. Inside this legalistic boundary, all the bureaucratic imperatives of Washington—about which the report is elsewhere quite shrewd—suddenly cease to exist. It only counts as "politicization" if a policymaker explicitly demands that an analyst change his views to produce a desired result. Anything short of blunt subornation, and we're in the squishier realm of "tunnel-vision," "reliance on prevailing assumptions," and "an environment that did not encourage skepticism about the conventional wisdom," as the report alternately terms it.
Another tidbit from the intel commission report: Even after it became overwhelmingly clear that the CIA had been gulled about Saddam's biological weapons by the defector known as "Curveball," the agency still wouldn't acknowledge the truth "because of concerns about how this would look to the 'Seventh Floor,' and to 'downtown.' " In short, the CIA continued to suppress the truth even after its original, politically driven errors were exposed, lest the White House and political appointees at the agency be displeased. Politics? Sorry, friend. There just isn't any evidence.


The Dallas Morning News is reporting that contributions to Tom DeLay's defense fund are declining.

Donations to Majority Leader Tom DeLay's defense fund have slowed considerably in the last few months. Some of his critics hope to cut the money flow even more with a new line of attack launched Wednesday demanding that corporate donors stop covering his legal bills.

The Tom DeLay Legal Expense Trust took in about $50,000 during the first quarter of 2005 – far below the pace that pumped in $430,000 during the second half of last year.
In recent weeks, leading conservatives have expressed concern that the drumbeat of allegations about Mr. DeLay's foreign travel and fundraising tactics have tainted his image and threatened his political future.

The latest barrage came Wednesday from the Center for American Progress. The Democratic think tank, founded by Bill Clinton's former chief of staff, John Podesta, launched a campaign to try to embarrass corporations that have helped pay Mr. DeLay's legal bills. Its new Web site,, spotlights donations from American Airlines, Bacardi USA, Nissan USA, RJ Reynolds and Verizon, and some of the legislation those companies have sought help with over the years.
"Consumers shouldn't have to facilitate Tom DeLay's unethical behavior with their purchases," said Laura Nichols, a vice president of the center. "We demand that these companies ask for their money back and drop their support of Tom DeLay."

In another article from Bloomberg News, the DMN headline reads, "DeLay alumni earn at least $45 million for lobbying firms -- Ex-assistants have often earned clients unrivaled attention in Congress."

Wednesday, April 6


An e-mail I just received from the Dallas chapter of International Association of Business Communicators (I'm a member):

Regardless of where you stand on politics, 2004 was a fascinating year for political communication -- and communication in genereal. Dallas/IABC is fortunate to have two nationally recognized experts on political communication take on the topic -- Jennifer Webster is President of The Webster Group, a Houston-based political consulting firm that provided media planning and message coordination for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and Dr. Rita Kirk is Chair of the Ddivision of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs at SMU, who recently conducted an extensive examination of blogs during last year's campaign. Both will look at practical ideas corporate communicators can learn from the messaging tactics of the left and the right.

I've already made my reservation (it's next week, the 12th). I can't find anything on Dr. Kirk's study of blogs, but I'll keep trying -- I have some connections at SMU.

Any suggestions for questions for Webster? We always have a rather robust Q&A after the speaker is finished, and I expect it'll be the same at this meeting.

If I hear anything interesting, I'll be sure to report it. I just HAPPEN to have a brand-new tiny recorder.


Bush never saw a poor people's revolution that he didn't hate.


My friends at the Tallahassee Democrat are right:

It is naive to assume that this political danger receded when Ms. Schiavo was finally permitted to rest in peace after 15 years. Zealotry knows no bounds. It is foolhardy to think that the closing of this chapter means the end of the book in the increasingly rancorous debate over government's role in the lives of Americans between the time of conception and burial.

One need only to listen to the bloviations last week of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, took top honors for hyperventilating hypocrisy.

In a thinly veiled threat aimed at an independent judiciary, Mr. DeLay vowed: "The legal system did not protect people who need protection most, and that will change. The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior."

Never mind that a fundamental conservative principle is the limited power of government, especially in areas usually reserved to states and families. And never mind that the judge whose rulings were central to the outcome of the Schiavo case - Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer - is a conservative Republican.
Big Brother is in the wings. Public vigilance and political courage are required to keep him from taking center stage.


John Cornyn isn't yet backing down from his attack on the judiciary, and Ken Mehlman is running with Cornyn's message.

Questioned about his remarks Tuesday, Cornyn said: "The American people have to understand how the judiciary, in some instances ... has become more of a policy-making body rather than a traditional court of law."

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman echoed the point in an interview. He said "unelected and unaccountable judges" were taking decisions away from the American people as expressed by their elected representatives.

"I believe very strongly that one of the reasons we have ... culture wars today is because decisions that ought to be democratically made are taken out of the democratic process and instead are made by unaccountable judges," Mehlman said.
Said Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada: "I think that the Republican legislative leaders in Congress have forgotten what our Constitution's all about. If they don't get what they want, they attack who's ever around. Now they're after the courts. And I just think that it goes back to this arrogance of power."


From the NY Times:

To the Editor:

Re "Ads Will Seek to Turn DeLay's Powerful Network Into His Downfall" (news article, March 30):

The assertion by Dan Allen, spokesman for the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, that the Democrats are "attacking the House Republicans in order to bring the House down" reveals the magnitude of G.O.P. arrogance.

House Republicans, by themselves, are not the House of Representatives. Nor will attacking them or their leader bring the House down.

Evidently, Republicans now regard themselves as the only rightful occupants of Congress, just as they see themselves as the only ones entitled to sit in the White House.

This is not what was intended by the framers of the Constitution when they guaranteed a republican form of government.

Eric B. Lipps
Staten Island, March 30, 2005

Tuesday, April 5


This is the latest outrage from a man who has made a career of them. More here.

As I said yesterday in response to similar remarks by Tom DeLay about the judges involved in the Terri Schiavo case, if some wingnut decides to take it upon him/herself to practice a little "judicial activism" of his/her own by attacking a duly appointed judge, Cornyn and DeLay will have to face their own responsibility for creating a political climate in which such an action could be perceived as justified.

Take it from a resident of Texas, the barbarians are not at the gates, they're representing us in Washington.

On another note, I just loved this part:

...Cornyn criticized the Supreme Court's 5 to 4 decision on March 1 that said it is unconstitutional to execute people who were under 18 when they committed their crimes. "In so holding," Cornyn said, "the U.S. Supreme Court said: We are no longer going to leave this in the hands of jurors. We do not trust jurors. We are no longer going to leave this up to the elected representatives of the people of the respective states."

Of course, Cornyn and his cronies demonstrated their great love and trust for juries in their tort reform initiatives, didn't they?

UPDATE: From the Nashua Advocate:

There aren't many rules of behavior in the United States Senate.

For the most part, the body is a self-policing one, and one of its fundamental traits, throughout its august history, has been decorum.

However, one inviolable rule--or at least it says here--is that a sitting United States Senator must not excuse, condone, or seek to mitigate acts of terrorism committed against Americans on American soil.

A sitting United States Senator must not excuse, condone, or seek to mitigate the assassination of members of the federal government of the United States.

And a sitting United States Senator must do nothing whatsoever to promote, encourage, or justify continued acts of terrorism upon, or the attempted assassinations of, members of the federal government of the United States.

A Republican Senator from the State of Texas has just done all three of these things--and thus, in the view of this news outlet, has forfeited his job in the United States Senate.


Wingnut radio today is full of Jane Fonda-bashing. I gather in my today-only catch-up-to-the-news there was an interview wherein she semi-apologized for her anti-Vietnam-War activities.

Like most of the anti-war movement of that era, I didn't give much more than a tiny flip about the Fonda flap at the time. She was a movie star, she was against the War, and she apparently to some people went over the top in that effort. We didn't pay much attention.

But I DID pay attention on my commute home today to callers who insisted that the "blame" be shared by "ALL anti-war protesters," declaring that we ALL shared in the "crime" of abetting "the enemy," harming our soldiers and prisoners-of-war, and betraying our country. The premise, over and over as I heard it, was that "the anti-war movement didn't condemn Fonda's actions." As if there was a monolithic organization opposing the war instead of a gradually more-informed citizenry that came to realize the futility and immorality of an undeclared war against a tiny, undeveloped country that never threatened or harmed the United States in any way but yet our war efforts resulted in tens of thousands of deaths of American troops and that of many more innocent indigenous peoples.

Shades of criticism of Iraq invasion protests!

EXCUSE ME, but in light of post-Vietnam War revelations, we now know, by the words of many of the architects and executors of that war, that our government (including our Defense Secretary Robert MacNamara) deliberately and consistently lied to the American public about not only our conduct of the war but the progress of it. I am, and was, distraught by the horrors that our prisoners of war suffered at the hands of the Viet Cong. But I am a human being, not just an American, and I was equally dismayed by the ugliness and terrors that we Americans inflicted upon the indigenous population -- there are are countless (and many more instances than American sufferings) documented atrocities of U.S. attacks on villagers, primarily oldsters, women and children. And as as the scion of a military family I can even understand how an undeclared war with a murky enemy can result in terrible tragedies undeliberated by frightened young men put in a position of uncertainty.

To label all anti-Vietnam War protesters as "traitors" is to deny history.

So what are these Americans excoriating? Do they believe that any time our country -- or let us be realistic, our governing body -- adventures in a war posture, no matter how ill-advised, we are to be cheerleaders or else be declared a "third column"? Sorry, that's not the America I was raised to respect or to revere. And I AM a Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR).

I will never apologize, never regret, criticizing and acting to the best of a teenage college student's ability to defeat that war effort. I have tried for three decades now to explain to my fighter jock brother that it was to SAVE American (and, collaterally, Vietnamese) lives that we protested that war. I have never blamed our armed forces for their actions; I will always blame our political leaders.

I would have thought that by this time, with all we have known for several decades now, that those opposed to that illegal war would have acquired some respect for the legitimacy of our position.

But then, it's still a matter of "honor" that we insist that Iraq had WMD's and played a pivotal role in 9/11.

For all too many people, the facts are inconvenient.


This breaks my heart. Lest WE forget Martin's last days, and his last campaign.

Have we lost our sense of history? Shall we not remember the struggles and the progress achieved by acts of individual moral courage, the greatness that was reluctantly accepted and then embraced, the sacrifices consciously made and the lesson hard-learned that "one man/woman CAN make a difference"?

We are a Southern white upper-middle-class family. We have two sons, three daughters. The only real role model of the modern age that we (The Sage and I) knew how to introduce to our children was Martin. We have loved others -- Bobby, John, Jimmy, The Big Dog -- but it was Martin who inspired us, who represented the best blend of our own personal values of religious faith, progressivism, and populism, and articulated a vision for the future that, requiring the best in us, promised a utopian Christ-like result, whether here on earth or in the hereafter, if we would only be true to the ideal. In a pragmatic world, it is almost a miracle to discover a realist who also could have the courage to say, "IF then you will do, THEN this will be the result." We have, as a people, failed to believe in and execute Martin's vision. So have we Christ's, from which Martin's derived. The poorer we.

And it was Martin who engaged and inspired the hearts and minds of our children, just as he did our own when we were youths. We shared, and still share, his dream. We have seen the mountaintop through his eyes, we have tasted the glory of his vision. He never pretended to be, or presented himself as, a holy man to be worshipped. He merely spoke the faith of his fathers, the faith that drove his life and purpose, the faith that sustained him in the Birmingham jail. It is our faith, and it sustains us still. But Martin lived it in a way that we have never been challenged to -- we have never faced death for our beliefs or our actions. This is America, right? It was also Martin's America -- and he died knowing, like Moses, that he most likely would never see the culmination of his life's work but believed that all that really mattered was pleasing the Lord God and helping the poor, oppressed, afflicted and downtrodden in His name.

The Pope has died, and John Paul II did many good things in his life, including demonstrating a courageous outspokenness that contributed to the fall of communism in eastern Europe. Let us not, this week of the anniversary of his death, neglect to thank God for Martin's life or, if you choose, just remember his tremendous contributions to our nation and especially the
soul of our people.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

                Free at last! free at last!

                Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Thanks to PSOTD (About Politics), who consistently brings to our attention important, but almost unnoticed, information -- and reminders of who we are and how we got here.


Wow. I was just checking over my posts over the week before The Sage's heart attack just to refresh my memory on what I was thinking at that time and came upon this next-to-last entry. It is especially poignant considering what transpired just a few days later.

In my busy, complex life (probably similar to many of my readers), I sometimes don't remember from one day to the next what I've written. Isn't that the original purpose of many blogs, to record our myriad, often stream-of-consciousness musings? Well, in my case, it has to be. I characteristically use my blog for personal, immediate expression and communication to my closest friends and loved ones, most often on political and religious issues but sometimes just to record for my own memory my own feelings or experiences as I would in a diary or journal.

At any rate, I find that it is not only the professional, profound or erudite blogs that touch my life and influence my heart and mind, but the human touches that those same blogs periodicially record. Susie of Suburban Guerrilla, Barbara of Mahablog, and even many of the lefties guy bloggers interject their human feelings and reactions to current events from time to time. Yet I seldom see any right-wing bloggers do the same (Sully is an exception, and disagree with him as I regularly do on issues, I still appreciate that he reveals his human experience through his blog).

It's interesting to hear the pundits speculate on the identity of the next Pope. I keep waiting to hear someone (especially from The Church) expound on the fact that it is HOLINESS or devotion to Christ that should determine the man who will next attempt to fill the shoes of The Big Fisherman, Simon the Rock, but I never do. Has the papacy, like so many institutions, now become just another political post?

I think I personally was better off staying out of touch with the world and totally focused on my own little world of my love and my family. But as my mother-in-law reminded me when she arrived to assist with The Sage's after-cardio-care, "Americans are abysmally ignorant of world issues because they don't care or choose from fear not to know," I've never in my life not been able to join that group. I care. I fear. But I choose to know and to act.

So do you. Or you wouldn't be reading this.

Monday, April 4


The Sage is asleep and I am catching up (at midnight) on the news and political developments. The scariest items I am currently reading concern Republican politicans and their rash and irresponsible condemnations of judges who rule according to the law and not to conservative ideology.

Tom DeLay's dire predictions concerning the judges in the Terri Schiavo case and Sen. John Cornyn's (R-TX) remarks, I was told today by executives at my company, are not "threats" as they are generally accepted to mean, but are statements about the "eternal" price such people will pay for their actions here on earth. To which I responded, "Yeah, that reminds me of the rhetoric of Rush Limbaugh pre-the Oklahoma City bombing, wherein Rush screeched against the evil federal government but later resorted to the coward's 'It's not my fault if some crazy took me seriously!' defense."

If some other wingnut decides to take it upon him/herself to avenge Terri Schiavo (how did one youngish white woman become such a singular cause celebre among the hundreds of thousands of twixt-life-and-death Americans?) by attacking and/or killing one of the judges involved because of their sworn duty to uphold the law, Tom DeLay and other cynical opportunitistic politicians and broadcast media personalities will have to face their own responsibility for creating a political climate in which such an action could be perceived as noble and justified.


Here's the ammunition you need, folks, when the gang around the water cooler starts excusing Republican excesses with the old canard, "But Republicans are more fiscally responsible."

It has not escaped notice that the Daddy Party has been fiscally misbehaving. But it hasn't really sunk in how completely the Republicans have abandoned allegedly Republican values — if, in fact, they ever really had such values.
Our text today is the 2005 Economic Report of the President. I did this exercise a year ago, and couldn't quite believe the results. But the 2005 data confirm it: The party with the best record of serving Republican economic values is the Democrats. It isn't even close.
Statistics in the Economic Report back to 1960 tell the story. And a consistent pattern over 45 years cannot be explained away by shorter-term factors, like war or who controls Congress. Maybe presidents can't affect the economy much. But the assumption that they can and do is so prominent in Republican rhetoric that they are stuck with it.
Consider federal spending (a.k.a. "big government"). It has gone up an average of about $50 billion a year under presidents of both parties. But that breaks down as $35 billion a year under Democratic presidents and $60 billion under Republicans. If you assume that it takes a year for a president's policies to take effect (so, for example, President Clinton is responsible for 2001 and George W. Bush takes over in 2002), Democrats have raised spending by $40 billion a year and Republicans by $55 billion.
Leaning over backward even further, let's start our measurement in 1981, the date when Ronald Reagan took office on a platform of shrinking government and many Republicans believe that life as we know it began. The result: Democrats still have a better record at smaller government. Republican presidents added more government spending for each year they served, whether you credit them with the actual years they served or with the year that followed.
Spending goes up faster under Republican presidents than under Democratic ones. And the economy grows faster under Democrats than Republicans. What grows faster under Republicans is debt.

Under Republican presidents since 1960, the federal deficit has averaged $131 billion a year. Under Democrats, that figure is $30 billion. In an average Republican year the deficit has grown by $36 billion. In the average Democratic year it has shrunk by $25 billion.

Hat tip to Mahablog.


Nathan Newman argues that the filibuster benefits conservatives more than progressives.

That might be true, but the constitution is not about favoring one point of view over another. It is about protecting the rights of minorities from the tyranny of the majority. This country is based upon a system of "majority rule, minority rights," not simply "majority rule," under which such a majority could deny basic rights to a whole class of citizens. There's a good simple tutorial on the principle here.

Bill Press:

Before exercising his "nuclear option," however, Frist should learn a lesson from Iraq. Georgia's Freshman Sen. Johnny Isakson recently returned from Iraq, where he asked Kurdish leaders if they were worried about being outvoted in a Shiite-dominated National Assembly. Oh no, they told him. They'd borrowed a secret weapon from the United States: the filibuster.

"If there were ever a reason for optimism about giving more aid to Iraq," Isakson said on the Senate floor, "it is one of their minority leaders proudly stating one of the pillars and principles of our government as the way they would ensure that the majority never overran the minority."

If it's good enough for Iraq, it's good enough for the United States. Long live the filibuster.

Some day soon, I hope, Democrats will again be the majority party. Even then the principle holds. We are NOT the party of political expediency; we ARE a party of principle.


It's not a failure of intelligence, it's a failure of intelligence.

But the fallacy in the administration's appointment of a commission to study intelligence failures is that there is almost never such a thing as a pure intelligence failure. Intelligence failure is usually linked to policy failure.

It's easy to see why Bush, or any president, would not want to call attention to that link. But the commission should have.
What's worse, policy failure has actually caused intelligence failure in North Korea. From 1994 to 2003 North Korea's plutonium was at a known location, Yongbyon, where it was measured, handled and surveilled by international (including American) inspectors. We could inspect it -- or bomb it -- at any time. But when North Korea threw the inspectors out and threatened to truck the plutonium away to a hidden location, the United States did nothing. In due course the North Koreans made good on their threat and took the plutonium away. Are we now supposed to believe that it is an "intelligence failure" that we don't know where it is?

A second member of the axis of evil, Iran, demonstrates the same point. Iran, unlike North Korea, denies it has a nuclear weapons program. The Bush administration firmly contends that it does and is almost surely right, even though the intelligence is apparently not a "slam dunk." But since the administration does not plan either to attack Iran's nuclear sites or to try to negotiate them away (the Europeans are supposed to be trying the negotiation route), it hardly matters whether we know all the details.

The "intelligence failure" that prompted the creation of the Robb-Silberman commission was, of course, Saddam Hussein's missing weapons of mass destruction. Here there surely was a policy -- full-scale invasion, no less -- and no one can accuse the Bush administration of inaction. Knowing what we thought we knew, invasion was absolutely the right decision. WMD are too dangerous to take chances. But Bush has since made it clear that even if he knew then what we know now -- that the information on Hussein's weapons was "nearly worthless," in the words of the Robb-Silberman commission -- he would have invaded anyway. There were other reasons for his policy -- Hussein's mistreatment of his population and the wider implications for the Middle East of his continued rule in Iraq. Future historians will decide whether his policy was a failure or a success, but they will know from his own testimony that the CIA's "intelligence failure" was not the determining factor.

It therefore is a fact that in the three most important cases studied by the commission -- Iraq, Iran and North Korea -- the intelligence failures the commission so carefully identifies and makes recommendations to correct made no difference to policy success or failure.
It therefore is a fact that in the three most important cases studied by the commission -- Iraq, Iran and North Korea -- the intelligence failures the commission so carefully identifies and makes recommendations to correct made no difference to policy success or failure.

The commission's recommendations focus on improving intelligence on classical proliferation targets -- rogue regimes such as the three axis-of-evil states and Libya. But in the post-Sept. 11 world, we have to fear WMD not just in the hands of national governments but in the hands of terrorists. Here the policy-intelligence mismatch is also evident. Osama bin Laden has declared it a "sacred duty" of jihadists to get nuclear weapons. We hardly need more intelligence on his intentions. But to make a bomb, bin Laden's followers must get either plutonium or highly enriched uranium. U.S. efforts to safeguard these materials worldwide, even after Sept. 11, have been halfhearted. The tremendous success of the Nunn-Lugar program in denuclearizing the former Soviet Union in the 1990s has not been replicated in the post-Cold War era of terrorism. If the United States had such a vigorous set of policies to combat nuclear terrorism, it would need good intelligence to implement those policies. But until we get the policy right, it hardly matters that the intelligence is imperfect.


Could SugarLand voters be getting wise to Tom Delay?

Support for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has slipped in his district, and a majority of voters surveyed disapprove of his decision to lead Congress into the Terri Schiavo case, according to a Houston Chronicle poll.

Forty-five per cent of 501 voters questioned last week said they would vote for someone else if a congressional election were at hand, while about 38 per cent said they would re-elect DeLay.

Let's see: three ethics violations censures by the House Ethics Committee, an investigation by Travis County DA Ronnie Earle into DeLay's political fundraising violations, rampant partisanship that resulted in a Texas redistricting fiasco that included calling in Homeland Security to pursue renegade Democratic state Senators, and now the hypocrisy of demonizing Michael Schiavo for trying to fulfill his wife's wishes when DeLay pulled the plug on his own father.

It doesn't take MUCH to alienate Texas voters.


Ten days ago my husband, The Sage, had a major heart attack.

We were in my hometown in northwest Florida for a family wedding. One minute he was laughing as he dressed, then he asked our youngest daughter to find him some aspirin. Five minutes later he told me he had severe chest pain and a numb arm, and thought I better take him to the hospital. My mother's home is two miles from one of the finest cardiac units in the country, and within five minutes we were in the emergency room, where doctors confirmed that he was in the throes of a heart attack.

While I was admitting him, I was asked if he had a living will. "I'M his living will," I answered. Which reminded me of the Schiavo case (the main topic of conversation in the cardiac ICU -- 80% pro-Schindlers, I'd say). Ironically, on the trip to Florida the family discussed the case and The Sage made a point of telling our children what he wanted -- "I don't want you kids to argue with your mother after I'm not able to make the decisions any longer," he said.

The Sage is six feet tall, weighs around 165 pounds, is very physically active (an ex-FSU swimmer who takes pride in his body) and got a clean bill of health at his annual physical nine months ago. His cholesterol levels are normal. Yet he had 100% blockage in the right cardiac artery and enormous blockage in three other arteries in the left chamber of the heart. We were told that if he had not made it to the hospital within 30 minutes he would have died. Genetics determines how cholesterol is stored in the body and in his case, it all seems to have settled in his arteries. Clearly, a routine physical exam is not sufficient to spot such a problem. Please take note of your family history and seek a deeper understanding of your risk factors.

We are back home now in Dallas after eight days in Florida and eight stents inserted into his arteries. and he is doing well. He has been transferred to the care of one of the most well-regarded cardiologists in the city and has a detailed, robust after-cardio care plan. I have cleared out the refrigerator and pantry of all the foods he cannot have and restocked with those items he can eat. We'll be sitting on him for the next month as he recuperates at home.

I'm totally out of touch with the news as I have been overwhelmed with the need to learn about cardiac artery disease and its treatments, non-fat non-cholesterol diets and menus, and a renewed prayer life. I have so much to be grateful for: that we were so close to the hospital, that he didn't delay in recognizing his symptoms and reporting them, that because of the wedding all our five children (plus two grandchildren, a son- and daughter-in-law and boyfriend) were with us during the entire ordeal, that my large extended family was present for support, that the love of my life is ALIVE and still with me to argue about what I fix him for dinner or how much I'm fussing over him.