Saturday, August 02, 2008

Jesus, It Sounded Like A Violation of the Rico Act!

By J. Thomas Duffy

Actually, though humor and satire, certainly, can be sucked out of it, it was, when you really think about, pretty disgusting.

We speak of the Bush Clan (the former lackey President 41, the Court-Appointed President 43, and the one that will, mainly due to the previously-mentioned two, never get to be President) calling the "cheeseburger that sweats" (H/T Barry Crimmins), aka Rush Limbaugh, to congratulate him on 20-years of polluting the airwaves.

Much is being made of the Elder 1000-Points-of-Light giving away the secret handshake, asking the drug-addicted radio host "Do you see our man Ailes at all"", referring to the Faux News Network chieftain, Roger Ailes.

And the dark anniversary had CBS News publishing this kind of tripe;

What Rush Limbaugh has provided this country far exceeds his lucrative income, the result of what Rush calls “confiscatory advertising rates.” For every dollar he has earned over the years, his encouragement to millions of loyal Dittoheads has surely generated much more in new wealth for us all.

Go over to Hullabaloo, and read Digby's post of the transcript of the call, and note the specious boot licking of the riot-inciting Dittonoggin, done by 1000-Points-of-Light Jr.

Its' a hoot!

Bonus Dittohead Cow Pies

The RICO Act

John Amato: Rush Limbaugh attacks Michael J. Fox: ” …he was either off the medication or he was acting. He is an actor, after all.”

Top Ten Cloves: Things Overhead While The Nobel Peace Prize Committee Reviewed Rush Limbaugh's Nomination

Logan Murphy: Limbaugh At It Again - Mocks Voice Of 12 Year Old Graeme Frost

John Amato: BREAKING: Limbaugh’s “Barack the Magic Negro,” on-air song has workers up in arms

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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Running while black

By Libby Spencer

Bob Herbert's column on the so-called race card is being widely cited today with great approval. Creature has the quotes so I won't repeat them. I have to say I'm not as bowled over by the column as most people seem to be but I think Herbert does summarize the problem of "running while black" well.

Obama has to dance on the edge of the knife in this campaign. I see a lot of progressives complaining that he's not hitting back hard enough against McCain's smear tactics. But if he hits too hard he risks (a) being accused of breaking his own pledge for a civil campaign and (b) being seen as "the angry black man." If he appears too confident, they accuse him of being uppity. If he appears too humble, they'll accuse him of being too weak to lead. He's undeniably caught up in damned if he does, damned if he doesn't loop.

For what it's worth, I think he's making the right decision to hold back on confronting the smears with similar tactics -- at this point. It's early. Most voters aren't paying attention and won't be until mid-September at the earliest and momentum is everything in politics. You build the big 'Mo too soon and you run the real risk of burning out before you get to the finish line.

However, come September, I think he'll have plenty of archived footage of McCain contradicting himself and then I think he should definitely run the kind of hard hitting ads the progressive community is clamouring for now.

(Modified version cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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Bob Herbert steps up to expose McCain's disgraceful campaign

By Creature

While the majority of the media is feigning disbelief that people are hearing a very clear dog-whistle embeded deep within the McCain Britney/Paris ad some are brave enough to speak the truth. Here is Bob Herbert from today's NYT telling it like it is on race and on the rest of John McCain's lowdown and dirty campaign.

Gee, I wonder why, if you have a black man running for high public office — say, Barack Obama or Harold Ford — the opposition feels compelled to run low-life political ads featuring tacky, sexually provocative white women who have no connection whatsoever to the black male candidates. [...]

Now, from the hapless but increasingly venomous McCain campaign, comes the slimy Britney Spears and Paris Hilton ad. The two highly sexualized women (both notorious for displaying themselves to the paparazzi while not wearing underwear) are shown briefly and incongruously at the beginning of a commercial critical of Mr. Obama.

The Republican National Committee targeted Harold Ford with a similarly disgusting ad in 2006 when Mr. Ford, then a congressman, was running a strong race for a U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee. The ad, which the committee described as a parody, showed a scantily clad woman whispering, “Harold, call me.”

Both ads were foul, poisonous and emanated from the upper reaches of the Republican Party. (What a surprise.) Both were designed to exploit the hostility, anxiety and resentment of the many white Americans who are still freakishly hung up on the idea of black men rising above their station and becoming sexually involved with white women.

The racial fantasy factor in this presidential campaign is out of control. It was at work in that New Yorker cover that caused such a stir. (Mr. Obama in Muslim garb with the American flag burning in the fireplace.) It’s driving the idea that Barack Obama is somehow presumptuous, too arrogant, too big for his britches — a man who obviously does not know his place.

Mr. Obama has to endure these grotesque insults with a smile and heroic levels of equanimity. The reason he has to do this — the sole reason — is that he is black.

I can only hope this column gets passed around and picked up by the village at large. John McCain, as Senator Clinton did before him (yes, Big Tent, she did), has made a conscious effort to paint Senator Obama as a scary black man. It's the politics of division and a light must be shone.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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The one

by Capt. Fogg

One of the things that used to make me wake up in a cold sweat was the Nixon campaign jingle: Nixon's the one, Nixon's the one. Nixon's the one for me. Turns out he was the one to be elected and some of his supporters, like right wing radio crackpot and self confessed criminal G. Gordon Liddy were willing to break any law that got in the way of the process including laws against murdering people who get in your way.

It seems a bit ironic for the McCain campaign to be mocking Obama's charismatic personality by running a sleazevideo called "The One" and accusing the man of arrogance. Of course no one ever accused old John of being a charismatic anything and many is the time that his splenetic and explosive personality has got him into trouble. It's ironic when you remember the religious Ecstasy that helped lift W into the throne. People claimed it felt like voting for George was like voting for Jesus.

Of course accusations of elitism and arrogance can be interpreted to be a manifestation of inferiority -- in deed it's often the mating call of the loser. It's far too soon to be predicting a loss for McCain, particularly with the party of Liddy and Rove and the Swift Boat Veterans running amok, goading their demented minions into a frenzy of irrational hatred. Anything can happen. This is the country that elected Nixon twice and I hate to say it, but I think we're even dumber and more irrational today.

But there's an irony in comparing Obama to Jesus as the advertisement does is sarcastic tones. Indeed that sort of mockery of a popular figure as a false messiah is so integral to the Passion of Jesus that only a Republican can ignore the fact that they are painting themselves into the picture of Jesus in the Via Dolorosa, Jesus on the cross with the mocking I.N.R.I and the onlookers marvelling at the arrogance of claiming to be King of the Jews.

Barak Obama is hardly that; the video actually shows him telling us we need to be our own saviors, but by claiming that he claims it, by asking if the man they are mocking for his obvious leadership abilities is ready to lead, they do invite comparison to McCain's slithering and dithering and sucking up to the same old nefarious nabobs. Is there any evidence anywhere that John is ready or qualified to do anything more than continue the disastrous disunity that has us fighting with ourselves as never before while our wealth and prestige and indeed our prospects for the future leak away? What has John said that suggests he'll undo anything of what George has wrought?

Snark is cheap, but I'm hoping that for McCain, the price of this embarrassing insolence will be more than he can afford.


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Friday, August 01, 2008

My Billmon's back and there's gonna be trouble...

By Libby Spencer

Billmon is back. He doesn't have his own blog anymore but at the GOS, he posts a long diary that reminds me why I loved him so much. Here's the theme:

But anyone who’s studied McCain’s career with any intellectual detachment at all (as opposed to the hagiographic tendencies of his media cheerleading claque) could have told you: The truth about John McCain is that he'll do just about anything and say just about anything to win. He always has. He's just been more clever (and cynical) than most in how he goes about it.

If you read nothing else today, read the rest of this one for yourself.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)


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Too weird

By Libby Spencer

For the second time in one week, Joe Klein makes sense.

Courage is grace under pressure. McCain showed it when he was a prisoner of war, and on many issues--yes, even on his stubborn insistence that the surge would work--but he is not showing it now. He is showing flop sweat. It is not a quality usually associated with successful leadership.

If he's not careful, I'm going to start liking him.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)


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Election bits from the experts

By Carol Gee

It is just a bit over three months until the 2008 elections. We will begin to get more involved and excited as we watch the conventions and the opinion polls. But right now, we have passed into the predictable -- negative campaigning, which often works, according to the experts.

The presidential campaign is getting really nasty reports one of my favorites, The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson. In my opinion the tactical change is the result of the Republicans' realizations that they stand a good chance of losing, not only the presidency, but a significant number of congressional elections.

An "Analysis: GOP Poised for Huge Losses,"(7/29/08) by Josh Kraushaar and Reid Wilson, can be read in full at As examples here are 10 of their predictions about races for the U.S. Senate seat.

  1. Democrat Mark Warner could become Virginia's new senator.

  2. Democrat Tom Udall might win New Mexico's senate seat.

  3. Ted Stevens' indictment leaves Alaska's Republicans very vulnerable.

  4. Former Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen might beat Republican Senator John Sununu.

  5. Colorado hosts another Udall contest (in this case Mark U. leads in the polls) against Republican, Bob Schaffer.

  6. The authors believe that Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu "is the most, and perhaps the only, vulnerable Democrat this year."

  7. Oregon Republican Senator Gordon Smith sometimes votes with the Democrats and thus might be vulnerable to defeat by his Republican constituents, is the thought.

  8. Republican North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole is a fixture in the Senate but the DSCC has reserved nearly $6 million in ad time in the state, believing that state Senator Kay Hagan will run a good race.

  9. Mississippi's Republican appointed senator may not be able to take his election to a full term. He is running against a former governor.

  10. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) also votes with the Democrats at times, but "polls show this race may be a blowout for Collins."

"The Party Registration Gap"(7/17/08) by Ed Kilgore at The Democratic Strategist, is a story that adds interesting information to the above analysis. To quote:

Keep in mind that only 29 states (plus DC) register voters by party. So [Cook's] national numbers--a total increase in Dem registration of about 700,000, and a decline in GOP registration by about a million--just show part of the picture.

But far more significant are the trends in some of the battleground states. Combining D and R numbers, the net shift towards Democratic as opposed to Republican registrations since November of 2004 has been 124,000 in Oregon, 94,000 in Iowa, 60,000 in both Colorado and Nevada, 33,000 in New Hampshire, and 30,000 in Arizona.

"The Ethics of picking a Vice-President", (7/15/08) was written by Bruce Weinstein, PhD. (he calls himself "the ethics guy") in Business Week. He makes these thoughtful points, which I quote:

. . . for ethical reasons, the question of how a Vice-Presidential pick would help Obama's or McCain's electability cannot be the sole concern.

. . . it might be easier to have a yes-man or yes-woman as Veep, but with so much at stake for the country and the world, such a person might allow a troublesome decision to go unchallenged.

. . . If McCain or Obama believes a person is not going to be the best Vice-President and best potential successor, that candidate should simply not be considered, no matter how appealing on the ticket.

. . . It's not just McCain and Obama but all of us in leadership roles who should keep in mind that what it's all about is making a positive difference in the lives of others. This is why ethics must be a central concern—not an afterthought—when the time comes to find the best person to succeed us.

Voters exercise expertise and leadership as they fact-check, talk to people they know about politics, or get involved in working for a campaign, either local or national. If you do it well, you are the best expert I can think of to safeguard this republic.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Dead men tell no tales

By Creature

Anthrax case solved! How convenient.

A top government scientist who helped the FBI analyze samples from the 2001 anthrax attacks has died in Maryland from an apparent suicide, just as the Justice Department was about to file criminal charges against him for the attacks, the Los Angeles Times has learned.

Bruce E. Ivins, 62, who for the last 18 years worked at the government's elite biodefense research laboratories at Ft. Detrick, Md., had been informed of his impending prosecution, said people familiar with Ivins, his suspicious death and the FBI investigation.

Now go read Greenwald to connect the dots between the anthrax attacks, 9/11, ABC News, and the Bush administration's exploitation of it all to fulfill their need to go to war.

Bruce E. Ivins is the new Lee Harvey Oswald.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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The media's arrogant problem

By Creature

What's Obama's problem? Actually nothing, but if you follow the news--in other words, if you follow McCain's narrative which the media so easily adopts--Obama's an arrogant, presumptuous, uppity, gay man who wants to fuck your white daughters. But when John McCain called himself president there was nary an arrogant peep from the media. This is Karl Rove seeping into the media's collective mind and it's pitiful. They should be ashamed, but we should not be surprised.

Here's TPM's arrogant compilation (pay close attention to Rachel Maddow at the end--she deserves a medal):

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Why were they surprised?

By Carol Gee

Today's big Intelligence Story -- on the revision of Executive Order 1233 -- gets even bigger. It turns out that Congress got by-passed with the revisions and they were hurt and surprised. We are not a bit surprised. And the "Two Mikes," may have a bit of negotiating to do as Mike McConnell-DNI takes over a bit more power from Mike Hayden-CIA. As follow-up to an earlier post, "Bush Orders Intelligence Overhaul" (NYT -- updated the afternoon of 7/31/08). To quote:

The [House Intelligence] Committee believes it has not been consulted or informed about critical intelligence matters. These include the executive order; Israel's bombing of an alleged Syrian nuclear facility last summer; changes in U.S. intelligence on Iran; the administration's warrantless wiretapping program; and the CIA's destruction of interrogation videotapes.

''This president is making it impossible for Congress to do oversight of the intelligence community,'' the committee's top Republican, Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, told The Associated Press. ''The only effective oversight that can be done is out of the executive branch. And this is the fox guarding the chicken coop.''

. . . Even before the executive order was released Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union condemned it.

''We have secret laws governing secret agencies that are engaging in secret spying against Americans, and they're using our own tax dollars to do it. This isn't keeping us safer it's only making all Americans suspects in the eyes of the government,'' said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU's legislative office in Washington.

. . . the latest version of Executive Order 12333 gives the national intelligence director new power to oversee those relationships, including how much information and the type of information to be shared with a foreign government; the CIA still will carry out day-to-day contacts. The intelligence director is also gaining oversight of covert operations, an area where the CIA has been the traditional authority.

Exactly how disagreements will be worked out between the two is to be determined. CIA Director Michael Hayden told agency employees in an e-mail message Thursday that CIA officers on ''the front lines'' will have ''a strong voice'' in working out the new procedures.

Here are a few more Intel Committee walk-out details from "The Crypt" at (7/31/08) "House Republicans walk out of meeting with DNI McConnell." To quote:

A group of House Republicans, led by Rep. Pete Hoekstra, walked out of a meeting with DNI Mike McConnell on Thursday, to protest what they see as a lack of consultation from the administration on intelligence matters.

. . . Earlier in the day, President Bush approved revisions to Executive Order 12333, the order that governs the activities of America’s intelligence agencies. Many members of Congress felt they were note properly consulted throughout the revision process.

. . . Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes agreed with Hoekstra, saying he was "deeply disappointed" that the president did not seek congressional input.

"We were only shown the document after it was complete and on its way to the President for his signature," said Reyes.

“After seven years of a go-it-alone presidency, perhaps I should expect nothing more from this White House. But this order will be binding on future administrations as well. For that reason, we must conduct effective oversight, so that we can advise the next President of whether this order should remain in effect or should be repealed.”

Mike McConnell must really be feeling his oats these days. I have a hunch that the next thrust will be to coopt their adversaries. That is my dark view of this story. I may just be looking for trouble. The headline reads, "DNI McConnell to Intelligence Analysts: Go Talk to Juan Cole." It was written by emptywheel (7/30/08) at Firedoglake. To quote:

In a post on AJ Rossmiller's Still Broken, I pointed out that bloggers probably knew more than Condi Rice leading up to the 2005 Iraqi elections because 1) we were reading Juan Cole, 2) we didn't censor out news we didn't like:

When AJ was asked how he got the 2005 election right, one of the things he pointed to, half-seriously, was the open source work of Juan Cole.
Well, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell just conceded that AJ was right for reading Juan Cole.

In conclusion, I know you all will be so excited to learn that as of June 5, 2008, DNI McConnell is willing to stay on for six months to assist with the presidential transition. Why are we not surprised? To quote from an earlier story.

CNN has learned that the Director of National Intelligence Admiral (retired) Michael McConnell is letting it be known he is willing to stay for up to six months in the next Administration to help facilitate any transition, if a new president wishes him to.

Reference: Executive Order 12333 Amended (pdf 40 pgs).

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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What kind of government do you want

By Carol Gee

. . . in Iraq differs, depending on with whom you are having the discussion. The original goal of the neocons was quite clear. They were intent on establishing a democracy as a foothold somewhere in the Middle East. Iraq seemed militarily and strategically easier than Afghanistan. It is now five years later, 4000 American military deaths later, and $541 billion later. And the United States UN mandate to be in Iraq runs out at the end of this year. The deadline set by our current president (OCP) for getting a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the government of Iraq is today, July 31, 2008. With the Iraqi parliament's failure to reach an agreement on holding provincial elections in the fall, Democracy In Iraq looks a bit in peril. But the SOFA persists. The New York Times story is headlined, "Deal on a Security Agreement Is Close, Iraqis Say." Alissa Rubin and Steven Myers' story elaborates on many of the key elements of the SOFA. To quote:

Iraq and the United States are close to a deal on a sensitive security agreement that Iraqi officials said on Wednesday satisfies the nation’s desire to be treated as sovereign and independent.

. . . The emerging agreement, officials said, gives Iraqis much of what they want — most notably the guarantee that there would no longer be foreign troops visible on their land — and leaves room for them to discreetly ask for an extended American presence should security deteriorate.

. . . The Bush administration’s unofficial deadline for the deal has long been July 31. Although the United Nations mandate allowing American troops to operate in Iraq will not expire until the end of the year, politicians in both countries have been concerned that with elections approaching in the United States and Iraq, it might not be possible to reach an agreement once the fall campaign is in full swing and it would be better to finish negotiations during the summer.

. . The authorization for the presence of American troops would be renewable annually so that if conditions worsened or improved, Iraqis could respond to that, according to Ayaed al-Sammaraie, a Sunni leader, and several other Iraqis knowledgeable about the agreement.

"American hubris, " is how my friend, betmo, characterizes this from the link (at Take it Personally) to Tom Friedman's column in the New York Times. Friedman's stance fits in quite nicely with (the above) neocon ambitions for the Middle East, unfortunately. One of my gurus, Dr. Marc Sageman, reminded us that Afghanis historically will be more nationalistic than anything else. Friedman obviously is not familiar with "leaderless jihad." I quote the offending paragraph at the end of these three:

. . . For many Democrats, Afghanistan was always the “good war,” as opposed to Iraq. I think Barack Obama needs to ask himself honestly: “Am I for sending more troops to Afghanistan because I really think we can win there, because I really think that that will bring an end to terrorism, or am I just doing it because to get elected in America, post-9/11, I have to be for winning some war?”

The truth is that Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Pakistan are just different fronts in the same war. The core problem is that the Arab-Muslim world in too many places has been failing at modernity, and were it not for $120-a-barrel oil, that failure would be even more obvious. For far too long, this region has been dominated by authoritarian politics, massive youth unemployment, outdated education systems, a religious establishment resisting reform and now a death cult that glorifies young people committing suicide, often against other Muslims.

. . . The main reason we are losing in Afghanistan is not because there are too few American soldiers, but because there are not enough Afghans ready to fight and die for the kind of government we want.

The kind of government we civil libertarian activists want is one that balances the need for intelligence with the need for Fourth Amendment Constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure. Just claiming that those protections are included in this so-called overhaul in no way makes it so. In fact the recent work by Congress on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is a foolproof recipe for the loss of those protections. "Bush Orders Intelligence Overhaul," is today's NYT (7/31/08) headline. I paid close attention to this story for hints about how it will affect the kind of government civil libertarians want. To quote what seems to pertain from the article:

. . . an executive order that revises the rules for intelligence agencies and strengthens the authority of the national intelligence director . . . according to a power point briefing given to Congress that was reviewed by The Associated Press.

. . . The new order gives the national intelligence director, a position created in 2005, new authority over any intelligence information collected that pertains to more than one agency -- an attempt to force greater information exchange among agencies traditionally reluctant to share their most prized intelligence. The order directs the attorney general to develop guidelines to allow agencies access to information held by other agencies. That could potentially include the sharing of sensitive information about Americans.

. . . The order has been under revision for more than a year, an attempt to update a nearly 30-year-old presidential order to reflect organizational changes made in the intelligence agencies after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It was carried on in secret in the midst of pitched national debate about the appropriate balance between civil liberties and security, spurred by the president's warrantless wiretapping program. The briefing charts assert that the new order maintains or improves civil liberties protections for Americans.

The order also gives the national intelligence director's office the power of the purse: . . . It did not explain the FBI's domestic intelligence mission, which has gotten increasing attention since 9/11.

''The executive order maintains and strengthens existing protections for Americans' civil liberties and privacy rights,'' Perino said Thursday.

Is this, too, hubris? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a recently headlined statement, was not addressing the questions raised by her mass abandonment of civil liberties in the eventual FISA bill revision. Pelosi's statement about the energy crisis leaves a bitter and ironic taste in the mouths of many of us including this articulate minister. "Save the planet? How about saving the Republic?," by Chuck Baldwin at News With, July 30, 2008. To quote more extensively than normal from his essay (hoping the author will not mind too much):

Yesterday, the Politico quoted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as saying, "I'm trying to save the planet; I'm trying to save the planet." She was responding, of course, to pressure that she and her fellow Democrats are experiencing to suspend a congressional ban on offshore oil drilling in the face of skyrocketing energy prices. It would be really wonderful, however, if the liberal congresswoman could get as energized about saving our once great republic.

Herein lies another problem: the vast majority of our politicos (from both major parties) do not even seem to know what kind of country the United States was designed to be. Virtually every reference made to the United States by our civil magistrates is that we are a "democracy." That's odd; someone should have told our Founding Fathers, because they emphatically rejected the concept of creating a "democracy" in favor of creating a constitutional republic.

. . . The fear of what happens to freedom and liberty under democratic rule is what prompted Madison and the rest of America's founders to labor so hard to create what they did: a constitutional republic.

Under God, it is allegiance to the Constitution that has preserved our liberties, our peace and happiness, our security, and our very way of life. Furthermore, it is the repudiation and rejection of constitutional government that is responsible for the manner in which these very same blessings are currently being lost.

. . . What every elected officeholder is expected and required to do is very simple: they are required to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. Period. End of story.

. . . Of course, the problem is, the people who are charged with the preservation of our republic are the ones who are the most responsible for its destruction. The American people have far more to fear from Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and John McCain than they do from any foreign adversary, because our leaders have proven that they have absolutely no fidelity to the principles of constitutional government. They have no compunction about eviscerating the protection of our freedoms, or about abolishing the vanguard of our liberties. They are Machiavellian, making King George of old look like a mere amateur.

No, I take that back. It is not our civil magistrates who are most responsible for the destruction of our republican form of government: it is "We the people."

At the end of the day, it is the responsibility of the people to govern themselves. We must be willing to hold our civil magistrates accountable to the contract they made with us, which is to uphold constitutional government. It is our duty to "throw off" any system of government that does not secure our liberties and protect our constitution. And this we have not done.

. . . Patriotism is more than waving a flag on July 4th, or singing The National Anthem at a ball game, or wearing a flag lapel pin on Flag Day. For an American, real patriotism means that we are willing to preserve and protect our constitutional republic. Remember, Franklin's answer: "A republic--if you can keep it."

Nancy Pelosi can talk about saving the planet all she wants to: her duty, however, is to preserve, protect, and defend the U.S. Constitution. And that is also the job of every single American citizen. Unfortunately, most of us are no better at doing our job than Pelosi is at doing hers.

"Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?" (Matthew 7:3) Today's post takes a look at recent news with an eye to the hypocrisy of U.S. leaders who ignore the loss of democracy in the last 8 years, while persisting in imposing "democratic" occupation in Iraq, while neglecting the more crucial terrorist threat posed by al Qaeda's bases on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The kind of government we want is one that cares more about its own people than the neocon adventurist agenda, one that does not spy on its own people, and one that rewards politicians for statesmanship rather than the acquision and maintenance of political power. Dare I dream?

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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A week without you / Thought I'd forget / Two weeks without you and I / Still haven't gotten over you yet

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Anyone know what song that's from? (Hints: It's a group. The lead singer's initials are B.C.)


Alright, I'll give it away: I'm off on vacation from today until August 18, a long and much-needed break. Yes, I'm off with the family to Prince Edward Island.

I'll keep checking in and blogging while I'm there, but I likely won't post all that much. (Except when a huge story breaks, like something veep-related. Or if something goes haywire at the Olympics.) Well, I may try to do shorter posts than usual, but more of them. We'll see.

Regardless, the co-bloggers will post frequently, as they do now, and so there will continue to be fresh material on the site. They always have a lot to say, and what they say, they say extremely well. It's nice to know that this blog is in great hands when I'm away.

Speaking of great hands, Creature will be at the reins during my absence.


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Yet another example of the media's abominable coverage of the presidential race: Look out, Obama's a celebrity!

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Desperate, pathetic, predictable. The GOP smear campaign against Obama, picked up by a media establishment all-too-willing to spew the latest talking points -- because it likes McCain, because it fears being branded liberal by the media-manipulating right, and/or because Republicans play the smear game so well -- is in full steam. And yet, with Obama so difficult to smear, at least compared to previous Democratic presidential nominees, there just hasn't been much to go on.

As usual, and perhaps more than usual (given how, even more than usual, Republicans lag well behind Democrats on the issues), the campaign against Obama, waged by both McCain and the RNC (i.e., the party itself) is simple: It's almost all straightforward character assassination: Obama is an elitist, and egotist, an opportunist, a black man with close ties to a dangerous anti-American black pastor, a terrorist-coddling Muslim, etc. You get the picture... and you've surely gotten it if you've paid any attention to the race so far.

And how is the GOP responding to Obama's successful trip overseas? By hurling new smears, of course. Obama the Europe-loving international jet setter, Obama the German, Obama the photo-op-loving opportunist who cares more about the people of Berling than about the suffering citizenry back home, etc. Again, you get the picture. It's not about what Obama said, nor even about how he was received, and certainly not about his statesmanship and leadership qualities, it's about spinning the superficial to make him look bad.

And as Le Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown notes today, the smear campaign has come up with a new spin on the superficial, a new smear: He's a celebrity! "McCain's camp launched its most forceful effort yet to define him negatively. It released a TV ad Wednesday describing Obama as the 'biggest celebrity in the world,' comparable to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, stars who are famous for attitude rather than accomplishments."

Oh, how terrible. And how wrong.

Obama may be popular, but his popularity is political -- it stems from his candidacy. And, in democratic politics, there's nothing wrong with being popular. It's how you win. He's popular, that is, because of what he stands for, what he represents, who he is, what sort of a person he is, his qualities and abilities, not because he's a celebrity. The smear has it backwards. Obama's popularity has made him a sort of celebrity -- but one based on substance. Other celebrities -- the Paris Hiltons of the world -- are popular only because they're celebrities, which is all that matters sometimes in our celebrity-obsessed culture.

No matter, though. The media, including Le Politico, are, to repeat, all-too-willing to spew the smears, usually under the guise of neutral reporting. And Brown's article is among the worst of the lot, a selective regurgitation of late-night talk-show jokes and McCain/GOP talking points. The first paragraph even quotes Karl Rove.

Yes, the media are just as desperate, pathetic, and predictable as the GOP smear campaign feeding it its lines.

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"I can say with authority that George Bush is the worst president in American history."

By Michael J.W. Stickings

And just who made that statement? Dennis Kucinich? Someone at Kos? Me, perhaps?

No, it was actually Alaska Republican Vic Vickers, who is challenging incumbent U.S. Senator Ted Stevens -- the indicted Ted Stevens, the arrogant, ignorant, corrupt Ted Stevens -- for the Republican nomination.

Yes, it seems that Mr. Vickers, like many Republicans around the country, are actually running against their own party -- and certainly against the president.

As Eve Fairbanks explains, this "American historian" who has "studied every president" (his words) is not your typical Republican: "Vic Vickers is a George-W.-Bush-hating, Exxon-despising, Iraq-War-loathing Republican who wants to 'put an end to the stranglehold that Big Oil' has on Alaska and has an Iraq withdrawal plan -- if the Jordanians and Saudis don't start cutting big checks, you just pack everyone up and come right home."

He's a self-styled "Bull Moose, a Teddy Roosevelt Republican," you see, and that sets him well apart from much of the rest of the GOP. "Pressed to identify a Republican he admires in Alaska besides himself, Vickers could not come up with a single one." Even Governor Sarah Palin, who has "authorized the hunting of wolves by helicopter" and, it seems, the shooting of wolf pups in the head -- "barbaric," according to Vickers, and I agree. And, what's more, one of Vickers's closest allies in Alaska politics is -- gasp! -- a Democrat, Tim June, currently running for the state Senate as a reformer.

And Vickers is not alone:

To establishment Alaska Republicans, Vickers might seem like a peculiarly bad headache, but he's really only part of a larger phenomenon this year: candidates signing up to run on the state or local GOP ticket who then publicly deride the party or pioneer their own esoteric political philosophies. Call them the weakened GOP's opportunistic infections: people like Montana's Bob Kelleher,whose campaign website intially stated he was a member of the Green Party, or North Carolina's Carl Mumpower, who put out a press release calling for Bush's impeachment and, shortly thereafter, put out another release informing the public that angry officials from his own party had kindly requested he "impeach himself."

Of course, these are the exceptions, not the rule. Most Republicans still fall in line behind Bush and remain loyal, well past the point of fault, to their party.

Still, the rise of these anti-Republican Republicans is yet another sign of the deep unpopularity of the Republican Party this year.

If there were ever a good time for the Democrats to capitalize on the problems of their opponents and a political landscape almost entirely in their favour, this is it.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A man of the people

By Creature

Rich people humor:

Standing on the patio of Gallagher's home, McCain made his usual fundraiser jokes about being welcomed "into this modest, middle-income tract home." After Gallagher murmured about the possibility of a tax break, the senator continued, "These public housing projects are quite remarkable."

And, the home John McCain is referring to:

Gallagher's home abuts a country club golf course and is located just a couple of houses away from that of Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen. It featured the usual trappings of a fancy estate: gurgling fountains, manicured topiaries and elaborate fencing.

At least McCain wasn't making such jokes in $500 shoes. Oh, wait. Well, at least the media is mocking him for his expensive taste in footwear. Oh, wait.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Huge chunk breaks off Arctic's largest ice shelf

By Michael J.W. Stickings

A couple of months ago, I posted on the discovery by Canadian researchers of major new cracks, or fractures, in the Arctic's Ward Hunt Ice Shelf.

Well, if that was the bad news, here's the worse news:

A four-square-kilometre chunk has broken off Ward Hunt Ice Shelf -- the largest remaining ice shelf in the Arctic -- threatening the future of the giant frozen mass that northern explorers have used for years as the starting point for their treks.

Scientists say the break, the largest on record since 2005, is the latest indication that climate change is forcing the drastic reshaping of the Arctic coastline, where 9,000 square kilometres of ice have been whittled down to less than 1,000 over the past century, and are only showing signs of decreasing further.

Basically, the Arctic is disappearing as a result of global warming.

Allow me to repeat myself: When sea ice melts, the seas rise, and, as I put it last October, there are potentially dramatic changes to the earth's hydrologic cycle, including to the so-called Ocean Conveyor, which regulates the Gulf Stream, the flow of warm water up into the North Atlantic. If the Conveyor slows down significantly as a result of more and more fresh water coming down from the north (melted sea ice), temperatures would cool significantly in Europe and elsewhere in the region, and, more dramatically, much of the Northern Hemisphere could be plunged back into another ice age. (Researchers have already discovered remarkable changes in oceanic salinity levels.)

Allow me to repeat myself again: We're fucked.

Unless there is a concerted global effort to address the climate crisis in a serious and sustained way. I'm hardly filled with confidence.


Previous posts on global warming and the Arctic:

-- On climate change, they know the truth in Tuktoyaktuk (6/05)

-- Meet the polar bear, a victim of climate change (7/05)

-- The climate crisis in Canada's Arctic (12/06)

-- Canadian researchers discover more evidence of global warming in Arctic (5/08)

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Operation Iraqi fiefdom

By Capt. Fogg

So the government of Iraq is sovereign? Well obviously not when it comes to being able to ask an occupying army to leave or to make Iraqi law apply to their actions or being able to tell foreign powers and their carpetbaggers that no, they can't just come in and take their only natural resource.

In case you haven't been reading the papers, one of the architects of our conquest of Iraq, Richard Perle, has been making oil deals which include a venture near the Kurdish city of Erbil . Needless to say Iraq, to which this area allegedly belongs and which is trying to put together legislation affirming its ownership of its resources, is displeased. Of course he's not the first and not the only entity with close ties to President Bush to attempt to circumvent US policy and Iraqi law for private gain. The State Department is investigating, but one expects nothing to come of it as long as the carpetbagger oil men themselves run our country.

Perle, together with Turkish AG Group International, has been talking with Kurdish officials and with Kazakhstan's ruthless and corrupt dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has been involved in a US oil bribery investigation about all kinds of oil deals. Mr. Perle, who began pushing an attack on Iraq nearly 10 years ago and who invented dishonest scenarios including Saddam Hussein dancing around the maypole with Osama bin Laden to justify it all, calls Nazarbayev "visionary and wise," says The Wall Street Journal. Sometimes words fail me.

Will a Department of State under another Republican president continue not to object to such imperial appropriation of another country's resources while continuing to sell that country as an independent nation struggling for freedom against foreign enemies? Who knows, but Mr. McCain has not said much other than to talk about "victory" and "surrender" nor has he any record of maintaining a consistent position for very long.

But unless you're looking for this sort of news, you won't be aware of it and you'll probably buy into the comic opera scenario they've been presenting for 7 years. You'll be made far more aware of the fist bumps and the funny sounding middle name of the other candidate. You'll wave the flag and talk about honor while your country becomes another corrupt and greedy empire pushing its will on the world through fear and force of arms.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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The media gets on board

By Creature

From a scathing NYT editorial this morning on John McCain's despicable campaign tactics, to a front page WaPo article on McCain's lies regarding Obama's troop visit (though the word "lie" is still painfully absent) it seems the media may be tired of getting played.

Here's the opening and close from the NYT:

Well, that certainly didn’t take long. On July 3, news reports said Senator John McCain, worried that he might lose the election before it truly started, opened his doors to disciples of Karl Rove from the 2004 campaign and the Bush White House. Less than a month later, the results are on full display. The candidate who started out talking about high-minded, civil debate has wholeheartedly adopted Mr. Rove’s low-minded and uncivil playbook. [...]

Many voters are wondering whether a McCain presidency would be an extension of Mr. Bush’s two disastrous terms. If the way Mr. McCain is running his campaign these days is an indication, Americans don’t have to wait until next January for the answer to that one.

Read the rest and read the WaPo story on McCain's troop-visit lie -- which, BTW, his campaign refuses to back down from because, they say, it's a way to create a "narrative." Yes, a narrative based on a lie. Sounds familiar.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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The story behind the story

By Carl

You know, when I saw
this flash past on the news this morning, I wondered if I had been in a coma:

The House yesterday apologized to black Americans, more than 140 years after slavery was abolished, for the "fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow" segregation.

The resolution, which passed on a voice vote late in the day, was sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), a white Jew who represents a majority-black district in Memphis. Cohen tried unsuccessfully to join the Congressional Black Caucus this year.

"I hope that this is part of the beginning of a dialogue that this country needs to engage in, concerning what the effects of slavery and Jim Crow have been," Cohen said. "I think we started it and we're going to continue."

I thought it was odd that only one of two white men representing a predominantly black district was the one to introduce this legislation.

I hate to give credit to a weasel, but
Andrew Sullivan came up with the goods on why:

One of the most dramatic congressional races this year is the battle for Tennessee's 9th. Wrapped around Memphis, this overwhelmingly-black district is represented by Steve Cohen (D) -- just one of two white congressmen with majority-black constituencies. In his inaugural '06 bid, Cohen had faced a dozen candidates trying to maintain the district's 40-year streak of black representation. In the end, runner-up Nikki Tinker barely lost to Cohen, 31% to 25%.[...]

As told in a great piece by
Jonathan Martin, Cohen had pledged to become the first non-black member of the Congressional Black Caucus upon winning his seat. "He was probably the most liberal white member in the legislature, perhaps even more so than most of the black members," a local politico told Martin. Most of the staffers Cohen hired were black, including his chief of staff. But when a leaked memo circulated by one of the CBC's co-founders made it clear that Cohen's membership was not welcome due of his race, he gave up the effort. Now, two years later, Cohen's fighting to keep the seat against his old rival...

What you've just witnessed is a fairly bold statement made by a man who is pretty desperate to keep his job (although having beaten his rival by six points and having the knowledge that 98% of Congresscritters get re-elected should provide a little more confidence, you would think).

That Barack Obama is running this year for president merely highlights this race as one to watch, and don't think Tinker isn't showing the race card is in her hand:

Her TV ads play up humble beginnings growing up in Alabama with a single mother and disabled grandmother. She argues her campaign is not about race but adds that her supporters hunger for more racial diversity in Congress.

There's a bit more irony than a white Jew apologizing to blacks for slavery that his ancestors probably had nothing to do with in order to win re-election in his district, particularly when you consider it was white northern Jews who stood side by side in Alabama and Tennessee and Mississippi with blacks struggling for equal rights back in the '60s.

That district was represented by Harold Ford Jr. before he ran for Senate in 2006, and lost based on, well, a commercial that played up the old racist stereotype of "black man raping our white women".

Stay tuned. This race could turn into a barnburner.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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By Capt. Fogg

I finished my coffee, put down the Michio Kaku book on multidimensional universes, and opened my e-mail to find this.

What can you say? Whatever multidimensional universe I was born into, it must have been the wrong one.

Yes, but will it transubstantiate?

(Cross-posted from The Impolitic.)


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More on Ted Stevens, "patronage-distributing warlord"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Who, as you likely already know, has been indicted. Steve Benen explains:

Looks like the senator best known for his "bridge to nowhere" may be heading down the bridge to jail.

To be sure, everyone deserves the presumption of innocence, but the details of this scandal look really bad for Stevens. The central focus of all of this stems from Veco Corp., an oil-services company, which generously remodeled Ted Stevens' house in an exclusive ski resort area, adding an additional floor to the home. After the lavish renovation was complete, Stevens steered $170 million in contracts to Veco, which, wouldn't you know it, looked suspicious to the FBI.

Complicating matters, Stevens has simultaneously been under investigation for "a series of earmarks pushed through Congress over the past several years by Stevens for an Alaska nonprofit tied to Trevor McCabe, a former Stevens aide and a business partner of his son, Ben, sources familiar with the investigation said."

But here's the kicker. This could actually be good for the GOP.

Stevens is up for re-election this year and he's running behind Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D)." As TNR's Isaac Chotiner puts it: "[T]his is potentially very good news for the Alaska GOP. If there's any way for them to get Stevens to step down so that some generic Republican can run for the seat, that's their best chance of holding onto it."

He's a stubborn guy, though. He won't step down. He'll win the primary and then face Begich with this scandal, and his indictment, fresh in voters' minds. It's hard to believe that his seat would ever go Democratic -- Alaska is a rather red state and Stevens has done his pork-barrelling best to keep it that way -- but this might just be the year.


For more, as Steve suggests, I recommend checking out TPM Muckraker's overview of the Stevens scandal.


TNR's Barron YoungSmith provides the rather colourful background: "Ted Stevens predates the State of Alaska. In 1953, he drove to Alaska Territory in a Buick, and -- like a modern Al Swearingen -- he built himself into a local luminary, successfully lobbied Congress to make Alaska a state, and then used his position on the Senate Appropriations Committee to transform himself into a patronage-distributing warlord."


See all the reaction over at Memeorandum.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The corruption of Ted Stevens

By Michael J.W. Stickings

This is one of those stories that gives you a nice warm feeling inside. Not because of the corruption that is so rampant throughout politics but because getting caught couldn't have happened to a better guy, Ted Stevens, the arrogant, ignorant, and corrupt Republican senator from Alaska.

Check out Memeorandum for the latest -- the headlines alone are worth checking out, if only because they have "Stevens" and "indict" together. Here's McClatchy with the details:

Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the U.S. Senate and one of the chamber's most powerful members, was indicted Tuesday in Washington for failing to disclose more than $250,000 worth of gifts that he received from businessmen who were seeking his help on federal issues and projects.

In response, Stevens professed his innocence (of course, they always do): "I have never knowingly submitted a false disclosure form required by law as a U.S. senator. I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that."

Yeah, good luck... with that.

More later...

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Congress runs for election, too

By Carol Gee

In addition to electing a new U.S. President, some 435 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 35 Senators will be required to stand for election or reelection on November 4, 2008. There will be 7 Democratic House incumbents retiring and 25 Republicans. Five Republican Senators have announced retirement. We should ask the rest of the legislators running to stand on their records, just as we do our next president.

As Democratic voters we have more than one decision to make as we mark ballots, touch a computer screen or pull a lever. We have to decide whether to work to re-elect some of the Democrats with whom we have deep disagreements or not. I have starred* those Senators with whom I often have the "deep disagreements" I mentioned. According to Wikipedia, Democratic incumbent Senators running this year include: *Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Joe Biden of Delaware, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Tom Harkin of Iowa, *Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, John Kerry of Massachusetts, Carl Levin of Michigan, Max Baucus of Montana, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, and *Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. Democratic incumbents should not have a free ride with us. But this view presents several big dilemmas for us as we consider our choices for congressional representation. Those include accepting the new power of the relative conservatives elected in 2006, avoiding the temptation to not vote for some Democrats in November -- or vote Republican, understanding that Democrats need healthy majorities in Congress in order to do anything meaningful, and holding up the "big tent" principles that have long been the mark of the Democratic Party.

The Democratic victories in the 2006 midterm elections, according to Media Matters, could often be attributed to the wins of conservative Democrats in Red States. Intra-party strife was correctly predicted in that article. Glenn Greenwald and Ed Kilgore, two of my favorite reads, had a spirited debate recently over many of these gut-wrenching dilemmas for Democrats. Greenwald is involved in a fundraising effort that targets "Blue Dogs" whom we think vote wrongly. Kilgore maintains that we should "let the sleeping Blue Dogs lie," saying in 2008, "now is no time to settle scores with conservative Democrats." Blue Dog Democrats are a group of 47 moderate and conservative Democratic Party members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The New Democrat Coalition is an organization within the United States Congress. It is made up of 20 Democratic Senate members and 44 Democratic members of the House of Representatives who claim moderate and pro-business stances. The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) is another group sharing many of the values of New Democrats. The DLC is united behind Senator Barack Obama, however, according to Chicago columnist Lynn Sweet.

At the same time, the highest ranking Democrat in the land, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), is not riding a huge wave of popularity with those of us calling ourselves progressive activists. Even though she says that she is "trying to save the planet," according to, she is not trying hard enough to save the Constitution, or hold her President accountable through supporting impeachment. She is now on the TV author circuit with her new book, "Know Your Power: A message to America's daughters." And next month she will chair the Democratic National Convention as they nominate Barack Obama to, I believe, be the next President. Pelosi's title sounds a bit ironic to me because she may be forgetting that her power derives from the Constitution she has sworn to uphold.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Veepstakes: Obama's choice

By Michael J.W. Stickings

According to Marc Ambinder, Obama's veep vetters are focusing on four condenders:

  • Even Bayh;
  • Joe Biden;
  • Tim Kaine; and
  • Kathleen Sebelius.
"Based on discussions with high-level Obama aides, I do not get the impression that Obama has made up his mind yet. These aides do say that Obama is narrowing his choices."

According to Ambinder, Kaine and Sebelius are about governing, not campaigning, while Bayh and Biden are about legislating. The first two are outsiders, the second two are insiders. The first two are young and relatively unknown. The second two have loads of experience in Washington and "would be expected to do heavy lifting with allies and adversaries." (For more on Kaine, and the enthusiasm in Kaine-land, see WaPo. For a cogent critique of Ambinder's analysis, see Publius at Obsidian Wings: Given their lack of experience in Washington, Kaine and Sebelius can't be about governing. Instead, they are about campaigning, and about Obama winning certain key states: "They’re Red State pragmatic governors and the media would love the narrative." (Maybe the media would, at least at first, but I'm not sure they'd remain media darlings for long.) By contast, Biden "would be an excellent governing choice.")

But they are all, in Democratic terms, centrist. Kaine and Sebelius are red-state governors. Kaine, in particular, could help Obama win a key emerging swing state, Virginia. Each one would be a risky pick. I'm not sure how either would do on the national stage, but, given recent performances (say, giving the Democratic response to a State of the Union address), I'm not confident that either one would do all that well. At best, solid and unexciting. At worst, too obviously inexperienced, in way over their heads, criticized by the media and the Republicans alike, which could reinforce Obama's general lack of experience.

(Still, a relatively unknown governor could match up well against a relatively unknown governor on the other side -- say, if McCain were to pick Jindal or Pawlenty. The experience factor wouldn't matter quite as much, though McCain will still play the experience card against Obama no matter what.)

Bayh and Biden, by contrast, would be safer picks, I think, though Biden has an unpleasant knack for getting his foot stuck in his mouth and Bayh is immensely dull, too much the consummate career politician. Bayh could help with Indiana, another key emerging swing state, as well as with Hillary supporters (he was one of her prominent backers during the primary campaign), but I'm not sure this is a good year to be a Washington insider. Biden, on the other hand, would be riskier but also more dynamic out on the campaign trail. He also has extensive foreign policy experience. There is the risk that he could overshadow Obama in this area, also reinforcing Obama's lack of experience, but Obama has become a superstar statesman and would not easily be overshadowed. As well, I suspect that Biden would be kept in check by the campaign (or, at least, the Obama people would try to ensure that he doesn't dominate, or try to dominate, the ticket). Biden also comes with a lot of baggage, having run for president in the past and having been around for so long, but it's not like any of the others is without baggage, and, what's more, the Obama campaign has proven extremely capable at dealing with the media and the GOP smear machine.

(Biden or Bayh would match up well against Jindal or Pawlenty or Thune, in terms of experience, but, of course, experience in Washington can leave a nasty mark. If McCain were to go with someone with more experience, like Portman, Obama would do well to have even more experience on the ticket. And if it's Romney, well, both Biden and Bayh are strong enough not just to stand their ground against his attacks but to overwhelm him both on domestic and foreign policy.)

But... what about Hillary? I asked "why not" a while back, and some of her supporters are still pushing her name, but I doubt she'll get the nod. (Unless the Obama campaign is keeping her vetting secret and leaking other names to deflect media attention. Imagine what a story it would be were she to be picked, say, right after the Olympics. Imagine an Obama-Clinton ticket at the convention in Denver -- united, not divided. Imagine the momentum for Obama. I'm not saying I'm for it, but it makes sense, eh?)

For further analysis, see my recent Veepstakes posts here and here.

I made some predictions in those posts, and I predicted Biden in the second. He's not my prediction here -- I'll go with Kaine, who seems to be on the rise (though perhaps propelled more by the enthusiasm of his supporters than by anything else) -- but, of the four, he's my clear and overwhelming preference.

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He's not even pretending anymore

By Carl

Why does George W. Bush
hate America so?

WASHINGTON — The White House predicted Monday that President Bush would leave a record $482 billion deficit to his successor, a sobering turnabout in the nation’s fiscal condition from 2001, when Mr. Bush took office after three consecutive years of budget surpluses.

The worst may be yet to come. The deficit announced by Jim Nussle, the White House budget director, does not reflect the full cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the potential $50 billion cost of another economic stimulus package, or the possibility of steeper losses in tax revenues if individual income or corporate profits decline.

The new deficit numbers also do not account for any drains on the national treasury that might result from further declines in the housing market.

The really chilling part of this story comes a paragraph or two later...

Mr. Nussle predicted Monday that the deficit would more than double in the current 2008 fiscal year — to $389 billion, from $162 billion in 2007 — before shooting up to $482 billion in the 2009 fiscal year, which begins in about two months.

(emphasis added)

Well, the neo-cons got what they wanted. Grover Norquist must be chuckling behind his latte and scone. They've destroyed America.

The combination of enormous budget deficits, which seem to stretch ad infinitum, a recession, which will likely deepen into a depression, although no one you know will ever admit to it in our lifetimes, and the ghastly costs of an irresponsible and illegal war, which will cost us in ways we can't even begin to monetarize, have created the perfect economic storm.

One that will force harsh choices on Americans in the coming administration. This is the ultimate "scorched earth" policy: spend, spend, spend, and leave nothing in the till for the next guy.

It is, in my opinion, no coincidence that the two largest deficits in American history, $413 billion in 2004, and $482 billion next year, come at the nexus of elections that could see the shift of power from Republicans to Democrats.

In 2004, it was possible for John Kerry to win the election-- certainly he was poised to-- and Bush clearly wanted to destroy this great nation in a temper tantrum.

And now, with Bush leaving office to either his greatest Republican rival or to the Democrats, and with history's judgement of his administration already weighing in negatively, he's pooped his diaper again!

Even McCain is alarmed by what he has perceived from these numbers: he's being stabbed in the back once more:

“There is no more striking reminder of the need to reverse the profligate spending that has characterized this administration’s fiscal policy,” Mr. McCain said.

$482 billion dollars is a lot, to be sure, and that's just the half of it, newswise. See, the Iraq war is fought off-budget. The coming mortgage crisis package, as half-assed as they are, will add a minimum of $25 billion (and in my estimation, more like $75 billion) to the budget deficit short term.

And this is before the warning shot that the
IndyMac bank bailout foreshadows!

For example, the S&L crisis of the Reagan years... funny how these always happen under Republicans... cost the government $125 billion over ten years. This crisis could make that crisis look like a bad day at the track! A March 2008 report said that the subprime mortgage crisis alone could cost the government
$300 to $500 billion dollars to solve.

So forget the Iraq invasion. Forget Katrina. Forget September 11, and his cowardly dash to safety.

George W. Bush will go down in history as the first President to truly hate his country.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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Monday, July 28, 2008

When the Law breaks the law; or, the politicization of Justice

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Here's another sordid chapter of Bush's presidency -- and of Bush's legacy -- not to mention of the history of the Republican Party and its various conservative organs:

Former Justice Department counselor Monica M. Goodling and former chief of staff D. Kyle Sampson routinely broke the law by conducting political litmus tests on candidates for jobs as immigration judges and line prosecutors, according to an inspector general's report released today.

Goodling passed over hundreds of qualified applicants and squashed the promotions of others after deeming candidates insufficiently loyal to the Republican party, said investigators, who interviewed 85 people and received information from 300 other job seekers at Justice. Sampson developed a system to screen immigration judge candidates based on improper political considerations and routinely took recommendations from the White House Office of Political Affairs and Presidential Personnel, the report said. [emphasis added]

Indeed, just to drive the point home, one of the questions Goodling asked applicants was this: "What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?"

Which would be funny if, say, Stephen Colbert were uttering the line, but when two top Justice officials act like they're serving Stalin, well, that ain't so amusing.

But it's just government-as-usual under Bush, who, along with his minions and underlines, has been spent much of his presidency picking away at the the very foundations of American democracy.

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