Friday, May 27


For the first time, a majority of Americans say they are likely to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton if she runs for president in 2008, according to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday.

Hillary would be a superb president, but I fear for her life if she wins. I've never understood the vitriolic hatred some wingnuts have for her, but there's no denying the fervor of their opposition.


He's out of touch with most Americans.

(CBS) Four months into his second term, President Bush is increasingly viewed as being out of touch with the American people, according to a CBS News poll.

Six in ten Americans say the president does not share their priorities, while just 34 percent say he does – the lowest numbers for Mr. Bush since the eve of his first inauguration. If there's any solace for Mr. Bush, it's that even fewer people, just 20 percent, say Congress shares their priorities.

Overall, slightly more Americans (48 percent) disapprove of the job the president is doing than approve (46 percent).

While Mr. Bush continues to push hard for his Social Security plan, and has recently spoken out on issues like stem cell research and the fight over judicial nominees, the public is far more concerned with the war in Iraq and the economy.

Asked to name the most important problem facing the country, 19 percent of those polled cited the economy, 19 percent the war in Iraq, 7 percent terrorism and 5 percent Social Security.
Overall, Americans are pessimistic about the direction of the country with 60 percent saying the U.S. is on the wrong track and 34 percent saying it’s on the right track.

Thursday, May 26


The details are here.


Holden catches a :great moment in The Gaggle:

Q There are news reports this morning that parents and children who were guests of the President, when they visited Congress, wore stickers with the wording, "I was an embryo." And my question is, since all of us were once embryos, and all of us were once part sperm and egg, is the President also opposed to contraception, which stops this union and kills both sperm and egg?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President has made his views known on these issues, and his views known --

Q You know, but what I asked, is he opposed -- he's not opposed to contraception, is he?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, and you've made your views known, as well. The President --

Q No, no, but is he opposed to contraception, Scott? Could you just tell us yes or no?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think that this question is --

Q Well, is he? Does he oppose contraception?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think the President's views are very clear when it comes to building a culture of life --

Q If they were clear, I wouldn't have asked.


The Texas legislature is trying to pass legislation aimed at keeping many Texans from voting, especially minority Texans and others who traditionally favor progressive candidates. The amendment would require citizens to present two kinds of identification, including a photo ID, at the polls. Senate Bill 89 (SB 89), with its amendment offered by Rep. Mary Denny (R-Aubrey), would impose on Texans some of the most restrictive voting laws in the nation. House Bill 1706 (scroll down) is part of a national partisan push to suppress turnout among the elderly, the poor, and minorities.

Supporters act incredulous when told such requirements could create a hardship for many of our citizens. That just shows how ignorant they are of the reality of the "other America." Perfectly qualified, but poor, voters would find it difficult to comply. These are people who have no driver's licenses, can't afford cars, ride mass transit or in groups in the back of someone's pickup to their menial jobs, and have no access to credit cards. But they're proud of their citizenship and they take pains to vote. Then there are the ambulatory-but-home-restricted elderly, who also don't own cars or drive, who live from Social Security check to Social Security check, and have to depend upon someone else to take them to the grocery store or to the polls.

Now this bill may still not sound unreasonable to some. I've heard arguments all over Texas conservative talk radio, including interviews with Senator Royce West of Dallas who opposes the bill, that something like this is required to discourage voter fraud. But if you had my experience in voting in November 2004, you'd suspect that any voter fraud in Texas was more likely to be sponsored by the powerful, not the little guys. Voter intimidation is a much bigger problem in this benighted state than the specter of poor Democrats voting more than once. We're lucky, and we have to work at it, to get even that one vote.

If you're like-minded, please call your senator today and tell him/her to reject the Mary Denny amendment to SB89.

If you don't know who represents you in the Texas Senate, click here to find out.

UPDATE: Just discovered that Off The Kuff has an excellent post on the issue.


WaPo prints an honest analysis of the Bush/GOP government makeover. I'm posting a long excerpt, but it's worth reading the whole thing.

Yet, amid the partisan rhetoric, a little-noticed fact about modern politics has been lost: Republicans have already changed how the business of government gets done, in ways both profound and lasting.

The campaign to prevent the Senate filibuster of the president's judicial nominations was simply the latest and most public example of similar transformations in Congress and the executive branch stretching back a decade. The common theme is to consolidate influence in a small circle of Republicans and to marginalize dissenting voices that would try to impede a conservative agenda.
With control over the House Rules Committee, which determines which bills make it the floor, how they will be debated and whether they can be amended, Republicans have made it much harder for Democrats to offer alternatives -- for example, a smaller tax cut than one Republicans advocate. Democrats also are increasingly shut out of the final negotiations on legislation between the House and the Senate before bills are sent to Bush for his signature.
Bush created a top-down system in the White House much like the one his colleagues have in Congress. He has constructed what many scholars said amounts to a virtual oligarchy with Cheney, Karl Rove, Andrew H. Card Jr., Joshua Bolton, himself and only a few others setting policy, while he looks to Congress and the agencies mostly to promote and institute his policies.


It's a definite setback for DeLay. His Texans for a Republlican Majority, the PAC that was used in the Texas redistricting fight, was found to have violated election law by failing to report more than $500,000 in corporate donations. The PAC claimed that the money was spent for "administrative purposes," which was legal at the time, but an argument that did not find favor with the judge. In reality, the money was funneled from corporations through the PAC to DeLay-chosen candidates seeking to defeat Democratic incumbents. Texas law bans corporations from contributing money to candidates for office.

Just wait till Travis County DA Ronnie Earle concludes his grand jury inquiry. Look for more indictments -- and I'm not excepting Tom DeLay.


Xan at Corrente thinks he's found evidence that Sy Hersh and Scott Ritter are right in saying that Bush has plans to bomb Iran in June of this year.

Frightening. I'd like to see some expert take a look at Xan's speculations and offer his opinion.


Amnesty International has condemned U.S. treatment of prisoners under "enemy combatant" status at Guantanamo and other bases in Afghanistan and Iraq in the harshest terms, calling Gitmo "the gulag of our times."

Administration officials and other conservatives are outraged (the screeches on talk radio will damage your eardrums) at having America's honor besmirched by comparisons with Soviet excesses. But the fact is, aside from the prisoner abuse allegations, holding suspects incommunicado for years without charges being filed and without providing access to legal representation is exactly what the gulags of old were all about. We condemned it then, and it is worthy of condemnation now. We justify our actions by the extent of the danger they "might" pose to the state if released, but that is exactly the same rationale that was offered by the Russians.

To date, the portions of military investigations made public have found only limited abuses by low-level soldiers and officers, but Thursday a bipartisan group of more than 30 lawyers, former military officers and former government officials assembled by the Constitution Project, a Washington advocacy group, echoed Amnesty's call for an independent investigation of prisoner abuse.

The signers -- ranging from former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta to David Keene, head of the American Conservative Union, and former FBI director William Sessions -- said a comprehensive study by a group modeled after the Sept. 11 Commission was needed. One signer, Kevin Barry, a retired Coast Guard captain and military judge, said military probes suffered from an inability to point the finger at higher-ups in the Pentagon.

"You can't indict the boss," Barry said. "But we have so much evidence of abuse in so many locations that to say it's a couple of bad people here or there has lost credibility with the public."

One of the cardinal tenets I was raised on was "if you do it to someone else, they may do it to you." The more the Bush administration mistreats the peoples and nations of the world, the more danger to our own troops and our domestic security. The pervasive "country club cowboy" rhetoric proves that the Bushies just don't get it. Their sense of personal privilege extends to their belief in American exceptionalism. They simply don't believe the rules apply to them.

Wednesday, May 25


Existential Ramble links to an article that, as he says, "begins to unravel the propaganda that surrounds the question of Shrub's faith."

On the same subject, Ernest Partridge says in his essay What a Friend We Have in Jesus, "There is only one voice that might speak to the fundamentalists and persuade them to re-evaluate their ethical norms, their moral behavior, and their political agenda. That is the voice of Jesus of Nazareth." Another great article, one to be read and repeated.

Welcome to the blogroll, ER. Great site!


Dr. Cole is just a wellspring of optimism about Iraq:

If the US drew down its troop strength in Iraq too rapidly, the guerrillas would simply kill the new political class and stabilizing figures such as Grand Ayatollah Sistani. Although US forces have arguably done more harm than good in many Sunni Arab areas, they have prevented set-piece battles from being staged by ethnic militias, and they have prevented a number of attempted assassinations.

In an ideal world, the United States would relinquish Iraq to a United Nations military command, and the world would pony up the troops needed to establish order in the country in return for Iraqi good will in post-war contract bids. But that is not going to happen for many reasons. George W. Bush is a stubborn man and Iraq is his project, and he is not going to give up on it. And, by now the rest of the world knows what would await its troops in Iraq, and political leaders are not so stupid as to send their troops into a meat grinder.

Therefore, I conclude that the United States is stuck in Iraq for the medium term, and perhaps for the long term. The guerrilla war is likely to go on a decade to 15 years. Given the basic facts, of capable, trained and numerous guerrillas, public support for them from Sunnis, access to funding and munitions, increasing civil turmoil, and a relatively small and culturally poorly equipped US military force opposing them, led by a poorly informed and strategically clueless commander-in-chief who has made himself internationally unpopular, there is no near-term solution.

In the long run, say 15 years, the Iraqi Sunnis will probably do as the Lebanese Maronites did, and finally admit that they just cannot remain in control of the country and will have to compromise. That is, if there is still an Iraq at that point.


Caught the tail end of Bill "Gambling-Is-Not-A-Vice-Since-I-Can-Afford-It" Bennett's Morning In America radio show this morning. Bill quoted his own political axiom: "The ony thing I know about Washington is that you're either on the offense or the defense" and then urged Rethugs to get back on the offense.

Good advice for Dems, too. The Bolton nomination goes up for a vote, and as the Houston Chronicle headlines, "Despite loud opposition," he is likely to be confirmed.

The International Herald Tribune quotes Sir Harold Walker, a retired British Foreign Service officer who has held a number of ambassadorships, responding to the Bolton nomination: "Bush's loudly declared policy, that diplomacy is irrelevant and that an exertion of raw military power can achieve things, has permeated the U.S. administration in a way that it never has before. Bolton embodies this belief, and his nomination would suggest that the Bush administration is going to continue in this direction."

Would that more Democrats would have the courage of Republican Senator George Voinovich, who sent a letter to every one of his Senate colleagues saying Bolton is "the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be."

California Senator Barbara Boxer (D) has been an outspoken critic of Bolton and a leader in delaying the debate. "Time works against Bolton because he's so outrageous," Boxer said. "He is a walking symbol of this administration's abuse of power and the longer it hangs out there, the more the American people can focus on it."


Big flack in Texas over the fact that the Waxahachie High School yearbook was printed with the caption "Black Girl" identifying the only African-American member of the National Honor Society. Waxahachie, about 25 miles south of Dallas with a population of 20,000+, is the scene of the megastar movie (Sally Fields/Danny Glover/John Malkovich/Ed Harris/Amy Madigan et al) "Places in the Heart." Young Shadoyia Jones was graduating 17th in her graduating class of about 400 and was devastated, according to her aunt and the local NAACP president (heard by me on Dallas KLIF talk station show The Greg Knapp Experience this afternoon), to be labeled by her race and not her identity after all her hard work and accomplishments. Seems it was a matter of carelessness, not maliciousness, as the unidentified student in charge of that section of the yearbook "didn't know her name" and used the designation "black girl" as a placeholder. Therefore, say most local residents, all should be forgiven and forgotten, especially since the school has offered to replace the offending page to any student who will submit to having their yearbook's page ripped out and replaced with a correct one (I'm sure that just EVERYONE will be rushing in for that). "It's a matter of hypersensitivity," I heard at least one representative caller to Knapp's show say. How could the student in charge be expected to know everybody's name in a class of about 400? Just an honest mistake.

Except. I was a member of the NHS in a class of 500, and there were only about 50 of us. So I'd expect about the same ratio in the Waxahachie school. How is it possible that the student in charge knew EVERY WHITE MEMBER but didn't know the name of the sole (and therefore standout) African-American? And even if so, it shows a marked lack of sensitivity not to have made every effort to have discovered, and supplied, the missing name. Again, I was a member of my yearbook staff, and we were carefully supervised by adult staff; after all, yearbook is a credited class, a teaching and learning exercise -- students aren't expected to be professionals at such a juncture.

Yes, it's perfectly possible that this was just an embarrassing oversight. But it shows a marked lack of consideration, and delicate understanding, not to see how even if apart from a race issue, this event has resulted in a very real reality check for a young lady who, by all accounts, is an outstanding achiever: her race is her chief identifier. And while others may not see it, I can't help but remember how fragile the egos my own daughters were at the same age, trying so desperately to blend in and be accepted. How would they have felt to be identified, even accidentally, as "fat girl" or "ugly girl"? It's not realistic to dismiss racial sensitivities as "in the past" -- we know from statistical studies that African-Americans are more likely to be viewed suspiciously by police and other authorities, to be "last hired, first fired" even today. Even as we encourage young minorities to aspire to assimilation and to the "ownership class," we continue to regard them, as a group, as people who have to prove themselves individually unlike their Caucasian counterparts who receive an initial societal acceptance based solely on their position as members of the predominant race.

This young woman, who was trying to do exactly that, has been embarrassed and enlightened. She may not be the victim of a crime, but it is not right to belittle the impact on her self-respect, her self-esteem, and her world vision. As the mother of daughters, I am terribly, terribly sympathetic. I hope she will quickly recover from this unfortunate incident.


Oh man, I've found me a fellow Baptist (and an impressively credentialed one at that) who speaks the faith of my fathers. A recent post:

Robert Dreyfuss has an article on the Tom Paine website that tries to explain why the American news media have been loathe to discuss the significance of the Downing Street memo.

Drefuss gives plausible explanations why both Republicans and Democrats have chosen to ignore the memo. At bottom, it all boils down to the fact that the truth is too hot for Americans to handle.

It looks like Bald Eagles have gone extinct and we've made the Ostrich our national bird.

Welcome to the blogroll, Mainstream Baptist.

Tuesday, May 24


Well, Memorial Day looms. Wingnuts would assert that I, a progressive, even gasp! unrepentent liberal! CHRISTIAN, could not possibly appreciate the significance of the day.

Well, my beloved deceased dad was a career Air Force officer. I was, as were my three sisters, raised on military bases. My oldest sister is married to my adored retired Air Force fighter-jock brother-in-law. Three of my nephews have served in the Iraq theater. My two sons don't qualify for service because of physical disabilities. And my middle daughter, in an 9/11 patriotic fervor, tried to join the Air Force but was rejected even though she scored the highest enlistment test score in Dallas for several years, because she had actually had in her past the nerve to consult a psychiatrist for mild depression. Though we opposed the Iraqi war and even shudder! the Vietnam "conflict," I think that The Sage and I qualify as "decent" Americans. We pay taxes, we've raised five good offspring, and we are devout Christians (not required for good citizenship).
I'm even an executive at a Fortune 200 company, surely an indicator by this administration's standards, as a "responsible" citizen.

Memorial Day means, to me, a time for honoring our armed services personnel, particularly those who have died in the service, for their sacrifice in defending our national security, our Constitution, and in general our American way of life. It is not an opportunity for deepening the partisan issues that divide us or for increasing, for no reason other than national hubris, the risks to those valiant men and women. It is long past time for us, as a nation, to formulate a plan that will bring our troops home from a conflict that has no real chance of resolving sectional and religious issues that we do not even understand, and that have no real relevance to our own security other than that our current and past activities have acted against it. Only in that way will we truly demonstrate a respect and value for our preserving their lives.


The House voted to extend federal funding for stem cell research today.

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, a doctor of obstetrics, played the sound of a fetal heartbeat over the House speaker system, declaring, "This is what it's all about, folks."

This is outrageous political demagoguery. Embryonic cells in a petri dish do not have a heartbeat. It's as good an example of the extremist position of the right wing as any I can imagine.

Democrats don't participate in this kind of dramatic drivel. If they did, I'd suggest they listen to my son, who has cerebral palsy, crying during his childhood. Or the sound of a fully human adult suffering from Alzheimer's or spinal-cord injury.

Ethically-challenged Tom DeLay was in the vanguard of the opposition:

Voting yes would amount to a "vote to fund with taxpayer dollars the dismemberment of living, distinct human beings for the purposes of medical experimentation," DeLay said Tuesday, opening debate on the bill."

Dismemberment? Do embryos (or cells in a petri dish) have members? Christopher Reeve did. My son does. George W. Bush, in his privileged life, has the privilege of pandering to the Christian right. He just doesn't have the compassion, the human experience or the intelligence to understand or care about the difference. Together with his military adventurism (and so many other ill-conceived actions!), his position (a threatened veto if it passes) on this issue will write his worst-ever-presidency reviews.

UPDATE: As William Saletan details it, the Republican opposition in the Senate promise to keep it from a Senate vote or filibuster it. Guess the filibuster option, for Republicans, is only bad if it's inconvenient.


Short snippets from "The Sean Hannity Show" today. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) told Sean that if the Democrats "abuse" the filibuster "as they have many times in the past" to block Bush judicial nominees, he'll call for a rules change at all speed. Now Sean wasn't particularly satisfied with what SOUNDS like an equivocation, but the way I read it, Frist was more or less saying that he'll do it if we use the filibuster at ALL. We've only filibustered ten nominees, so "many times" has to refer to those. And to qualify as "many," each individual incidence must count as an "abuse." This is torturous logic, I know, but it's the way these people send signals to one another outside the understanding of the general public. I'm guessing that the Rethugs are going to allow the compromise deal to go through -- they get Owens, Brown and Pryor (ironically the most objectionable of the nominees), and they throw the others to the wolves in order to be able to trumpet to the voting public their "save-the-Senate compromise" nobility before they submarine the filibuster if it's used on an ultra-conservative Supreme Court nominee.

Also on Hannity, former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork told Sean, again to Sean's mild disappointment, that he wasn't "attracted by" the argument that the filibuster being used against judicial nominees is unconstitutional. Instead, he said, the Senate can make whatever rules they want: if they make a rule to require a super-majority necessary to bring cloture to a judicial filibuster, they can do that. And if they want to change the rules, they can do that too. The super-majorities required by the Constitution can't be changed by legislation, he affirmed, but ones instituted by legislation can be. Sean quickly turned to Bork's ideology to divert the listening public's attention from the real issue, but the damage was done. The "unconstitutional" argument has been one of the primary talking points of the Rethugs. As Bork, one of their icons of "injustice," stated, it doesn't hold water.


The New York Post says the Beltway buzz is that Tim Russert "basically tanked" in his interview with Howard Dean on Meet the Press on Sunday, leaving Dean "relatively unscathed."

Darn right. Here's the transcript.


This is just too good not to share the whole thing:

Rarely are the words of one state legislator worth national attention, but when Senfronia Thompson, a black representative from Houston, stalks to the back mike with a certain "get-out-of-my-way" look in her eye, it's, Katie, bar the door. Here is Thompson speaking against the Legislature's recent folly of putting a superfluous anti-gay marriage measure into the state constitution:

"I have been a member of this august body for three decades, and today is one of the all-time low points. We are going in the wrong direction, in the direction of hate and fear and discrimination. Members, we all know what this is about; this is the politics of divisiveness at it's worst, a wedge issue that is meant to divide.

"Members, this is a distraction from the real things we need to be working on. At the end of this session, this Legislature, this leadership will not be able to deliver the people of Texas fundamental and fair answers to the pressing issues of our day.

"Let's look at what this amendment does not do: It does not give one Texas citizen meaningful tax relief. It does not reform or fully fund our education system. It does not restore one child to CHIP [Children's Health Insurance Program] who was cut from health insurance last session. It does not put one dime into raising Texas' Third World access to health care. It does not do one thing to care for or protect one elderly person or one child in this state. In fact, it does not even do anything to protect one marriage.

"Members, this bill is about hate and fear and discrimination... When I was a small girl, white folks used to talk about 'protecting the institution of marriage' as well. What they meant was if people of my color tried to marry people of Mr. Chisum's color, you'd often find the people of my color hanging from a tree... Fifty years ago, white folks thought interracial marriages were 'a threat to the institution of marriage.'

"Members, I'm a Christian and a proud Christian. I read the good book and do my best to live by it. I have never read the verse where it says, 'Gay people can't marry.' I have never read the verse where it says, 'Thou shalt discriminate against those not like me.' I have never read the verse where it says, 'Let's base our public policy on hate and fear and discrimination.' Christianity to me is love and hope and faith and forgiveness -- not hate and discrimination.

"I have served in this body a lot of years, and I have seen a lot of promises broken... So... now that blacks and women have equal rights, you turn your hatred to homosexuals, and you still use your misguided reading of the Bible to justify your hatred. You want to pass this ridiculous amendment so you can go home and brag -- brag about what? Declare that you saved the people of Texas from what?

"Persons of the same sex cannot get married in this state now. Texas law does not now recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, religious unions, domestic partnerships, contractual arrangements or Christian blessings entered into in this state -- or anywhere else on this planet Earth.

"If you want to make your hateful political statements then that is one thing -- but the Chisum amendment does real harm. It repeals the contracts that many single people have paid thousands of dollars to purchase to obtain medical powers of attorney, powers of attorney, hospital visitation, joint ownership and support agreements. You have lost your way. This is obscene...

"I thought we would be debating economic development, property tax relief, protecting seniors' pensions and stem cell research to save lives of Texans who are waiting for a more abundant life. Instead we are wasting this body's time with this political stunt that is nothing more than constitutionalizing discrimination. The prejudices exhibited by members of this body disgust me.

"Last week, Republicans used a political wedge issue to pull kids -- sweet little vulnerable kids -- out of the homes of loving parents and put them back in a state orphanage just because those parents are gay. That's disgusting.

"I have listened to the arguments. I have listened to all of the crap... I want you to know that this amendment [is] blowing smoke to fuel the hell-fire flames of bigotry."

Then they passed the amendment.


Darrell Ankarlo, Dallas KLIF radio station conservative talk show host and rah-rah Iraq War enthusiast, surprised me this morning by inviting Bob Ray Sanders, columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, to be on the show and discuss this column on why we need a swift withdrawal of our troops in Iraq. Seems Darrell, whose son is a Marine stationed in Iraq (but who is currently home on leave), is having second thoughts about our ability to "kick butts and get the job done." He still thinks it's a "righteous war" and we went into it for good reasons, but his enthusiasm is waning in light of the increased insurgent attacks and the probability of Iraq being on the verge of an all-out civil war. And, he said, Bob Ray's Sunday column started him thinking:

Although I was adamantly against the United States going to war in Iraq, I have been one of those who has said that now that we're there, we must stay and finish the job.

I can no longer say that in good conscience.

It is time for this administration to commit to a plan for withdrawal from Iraq, and that exit strategy should have a completion date of months, not years.

The growing cost of the war, in human as well as economic terms, simply is not worth it, and polls show that more and more Americans are coming to believe that.
American generals in Iraq and in Washington are now admitting that we really can't expect a reduction in U.S. military strength there any time soon, and that the current level of 138,000 troops may have to be in place for years to come.

Our forces, no matter how mighty, can't protect the people of Iraq because they are unable to secure Iraq's porous borders, control its continued ethnic strife or rely on that country's inadequate police and military forces.

I know the president has said it is better to fight America's enemies on foreign soil rather than give them the opportunity to wage their war here.

But as it stands now, with tens of thousands of troops in that hostile land, we are simply giving outside terrorists and native insurgents more American targets to attack.

Believe me, I've considered the question of what would happen to Iraq and its people if Americans were simply to leave. No doubt it would quickly plummet into a bloody civil war.

That is not the only question we Americans should be asking. What happens to this country, and particularly those deployed troops, if we continue to stay in a land where people are not only willing to die, but are expecting to die as long as they kill someone else in the process?

The administration does not like the comparison of Vietnam to the Iraq fiasco, but I can't think of a better analogy.
Just as in the war in Southeast Asia, we have hardheaded leaders who, rather than admit a mistake and withdraw, continue to "stay the course" in which Americans and innocent civilians continue to die.

This country needs to set a timetable -- 12 months at the most -- in which it will leave Iraq.

In that time, with the help of "the willing" nations, the United States should continue its efforts to train as many Iraqi police and military personnel as possible, help build as much infrastructure as it can and assist the country's new government and financial institutions in becoming more stable.

This is a mess we made, and it is one we can't undo.

We can do what is right, though, for those American troops who are still there. We can start bringing them home.

Of course, by the time Darrell had received a few calls totally disagreeing with him and affirming the old "stay the course" b.s., he started backtracking. One woman, who insisted we should just nuke the entire Muslim world (really), got Darrell to laughing -- laughing, mind you, and almost agreeing, though not explicitly. Laughing about murdering one billion people.


WaPo writer Terry Neal is suffering from too many episodes of The Bushlight Zone and its attacks on the media. Memorize it and repeat it to your rightwing friends the next time they start to rant.


Steve Clemons reminds us that now that the filibuster issue is over, the Bolton nomination is back in play:

One of the issues that still lies outstanding is the failure of the administration to provide the NSA intercepts as requested by Senators Lugar and Biden. Chris Dodd started the intercepts request process more than a month ago -- and still nothing has been received.

Rumor has it that Senator Rockefeller and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence staff have discovered patterns of conduct by Bolton and Fleitz that raise red flags. They are now "looking into" how Bolton and Fleitz used the intelligence from the NSA intercepts -- or bettter put, "misused it."

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has been standing by waiting form some sort of communication from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which Negroponte said would be communicating with SFRC on the intercepts. This has not happened.

Some senators on both sides will not vote to confirm Bolton simply on this issue -- all of the necessary information needed to make a decision is not in.


Xpatriated Texan has an insightful take on original design. Read the whole thing.

The real problem with intelligent design, from a Christian standpoint, is that it seeks to limit God to being a proxy for what is unknown by science. To do this, it ignores evidence that has been rigorously tested and found to be solid. Faith simply cannot conflict with reality and lay any ongoing claim to truth. Faith is the belief in things not seen - yes. Faith is not, however, the belief in things proven to be untrue or nonbelief of things that have been proven true. That way lies dogma and the repression that always accompanies it. That is, in fact, the opposite of faith.


Another of my fantasies. I'm sitting here at 5 a.m. waiting for a Vicodan to kick in (pain resulting from gum surgery) reading James Dobson's rant on AmericaBlog about the filibuster compromise ("Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist would never have served on the U. S. Supreme Court if this agreement had been in place during their confirmations") when suddenly it hits me. After Scalia and Rehnquist were confirmed in 1986, the Dems took control of the Senate back from the Repugs 55-45 in the next election!

I can dream, can't I?


Between Glenn Beck contemplating on-air murdering Michael Moore and Bill O'Reilly fantasizing about terrorists beheading the op-ed editor of the LA Times, I'm getting the impression that the right is going completely nuts. Our airwaves are being inundated by the ugliest kind of rhetoric from the right-wing talk hosts, their "Christian" leaders speak far more of hate, exclusion and earthly power than they do of the love of Jesus Christ, and their politicians pander to them all.

It all seems like evidence to me that the right is losing it. I simply cannot believe that Americans other than the total wingnuts will countenance such rhetoric indefinitely, and as it heats up I believe they'll start to lose everything but their base.

I'm such a dreamer.


So a compromise has been reached on the Senate filibuster. Priscilla Owens, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor will get a vote in the full Senate and be confirmed as U.S. appellate judges.

I suppose, pragmatically, this was necessary to preserve the filibuster for "extraordinary" cases, as has been said. But how much more "extraordinary" can you get? Bush is deliberately stacking the appellate court with ultra-conservative, anti-abortion, pro-business activist judges. Dems say this sends a message to Bush/Cheney that they can't abuse their power. How so? They got away with it, didn't they?

Last night was the premiere of the film about John McCain's life, "Faith of Our Fathers." McCain used the event to announce he would vote against changing the filibuster rules. I don't believe Frist had the votes; John Warner and others were showing every sign of moving to oppose the rules change. Conscience was about to prevail among just enough Repugs to win this thing. I think this was a case where the two parties were eyeball to eyeball -- and we blinked.

UPDATE: Russ Feingold agrees with me.

UPDATE: The wingnuts are "outraged" that they didn't get their fight, progressive groups are "disappointed." A telling choice of adjectives.

Monday, May 23


Some progressive bloggers are yawning ho-hum about the secret Downing Street memo since after all, anyone with a brain knew what was going on at the time. Perhaps they're correct. However, there are an awful lot of Americans who didn't believe what the opposition was declaring, and this British administration memo is about as clear a snapshot, and HASN'T BEEN DENIED by the British, as you can have of THEIR understanding of the situation. It thus has much more credibility with moderates than any Democratic allegations. I've been outraged by the complicity of the press in keeping this a non-story. Now Walter Pincus puts it in context with what else we've learned/proven since the war began, but how much of America reads Walter Pincus? Where are the networks and cable news?

Covering the Michael Jackson trial.


Two Democratic congressmen have challenged Bush to "bring it on." Bush has promised to veto expansion of federally funded stem cell research, and Washington Congressmen Jay Inslee and Jim McDermott believe the political fallout would prove that the pResident is failing to realize that the American people aren't with him on this issue.

As the Christian mother of a son with cerebral palsy, I simply cannot understand the Christian right's position. How is it possible to equate a few cells in a petri dish with a suffering human being? When Christ said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me," I cannot believe he was speaking of cellular tissue as his brethren. It surely is clear that when he invited the children onto his knee and instructed his disciples, "Let the little children come unto me and do not forbid them, for of such is the kingdom of heaven," he wasn't suggesting we hasten their deaths so that they could be reunited with Jesus.

Anyway, the whole opposition argument is ridiculous. Bush has already shown his hypocrisy on this issue by allowing existing stem cell lines to be used. Embryos are washed down the sink every day in fertility clinics. Where's the consistency of position? When will the wingnuts sponsor a bill that demands that every embryo produced by an infertile couple be implanted into the mother's womb?

Are these people nuts? I know Bush isn't acting on principle, it's all politics with him, but some of them are. But what KIND of principle? A principle of preserving the POTENTIAL for life at the expense of the living? That logic, carried to its natural conclusion, would forbid masturbation.

I'd LOVE to see the wingnuts try to enforce that.


(With apologies to The Eagles)

Republicans sure seem to be the masters of knowing how to scam and to deceive;
Don’t matter if they bring on more disasters: the test of truth is what will be believed.
Abuses don’t exist if there’s no pictures; and if there are, it still was justified.
To listen to their wingnut spokesmen’s strictures, it’s Newsweek’s fault that anybody died.
So they issue a new talking points directive, and Rush and Sean and Scotty spew it out.
It doesn’t matter that it’s so selective; the facts don’t matter when you’ve got the clout.

You can hide your lying eyes but someday you’ll be surprised
When the truth can’t be disguised, you’ll have to answer for your lying lies.

To save jobs we need tax breaks for the wealthy, and safety nets are for the immature
And more than that, to keep our nation healthy, we need more bombs to keep us all secure.
Our energy will probably last forever since Jesus will be coming back ere long.
And gay rights will be universal never, and don’t try saying it’s a civil wrong.
It's obvious the sad state of our nation is Bush can't get his judges all confirmed.
The thing most necessary for salvation? The filibuster must be overturned.

You can hide your lying eyes but someday you’ll be surprised
When the truth can’t be disguised, you’ll have to answer for your lying lies.

On the other side, the Dems can’t just be waiting for people’s eyes to open to the facts.
It’s up to us to constantly be stating them with the boldness that the press it lacks.
On every front we need to be united and speak our message loudly with one voice.
Unless the populace can be ignited, we’re doomed for decades to be second choice.
Our efforts should be focused on creating new instruments for getting out the word
But if there's no time spent in formulating just what our message is, it won’t be heard.

You can hide your lying eyes but someday you’ll be surprised
When the truth can’t be disguised, you’ll have to answer for your lying lies.


It's interesting the things you think of when you're under gas at the dentist's office. Saturday I started my reflections with the messaging initiative I'm working on at the office and I segued into thinking about the Democrats' failure to "get our message across" and the Republicans' success at it. In the former case, I think it's largely a function of not understanding what messaging IS. We spew out a lot of information at the public, but there's no real inspirational summary to tie it together. The Republicans, on the other hand, have proven very good at negative messaging -- e.g., "tax-and-spend liberals." They're great at demonizing and marginalizing, but they're not so shabby at positive messaging either. (Witness the "values" debate.)

With all the money we spend on advertising and marketing agencies, why hasn't someone come up with a pithy "We've got your back" kind of message. Or "The Republicans represent the upper 10% of the income bracket. We're looking out for the rest of you." Or "It's time to expect more." (More accountability. More access to healthcare. Etc.) We simply have to improve our positioning in the minds of the voting public. And we have to improve our negative messaging as well. "Who's lost more of your tax dollars?"

For well over a half century the Democratic Party was perceived as the party of the little people. Now the Rethugs have painted us, effectively, as the party of intellectual elitism. We need to return the favor. With the events of the past four years, we should hammer away at the Rethugs as the party of adventurism and cronyism, of wild impractical plans for world peace that ignore border security and the needs of the common man. I hate the politics of division, but never before has a party's policies so turned Robin Hood on its head, and we need to blanket the nation with that image.

It's all about branding -- shaping the perceptions of the public. There are experts in the field, and it's high time we put a few of the dollars we spend on political consultants into the practical exercise that has so benefited the Rethugs. They're business people, and they know how to condition the market. We're way behind, but if we don't start to catch up we're dead meat for the foreseeable future.