Thursday, March 31, 2005

I've noticed this very same thing that Oliver Willis points out:
In a larger post about liberals in academia (shocking! must be the work of "the syndicate"), Ezra throws this in
on the left, most everyone is a proud Democrat, the right is fairly littered with libertarians.
I've found this to be a remarkable phenomenon. In the blogosphere, you have almost a reverse dynamic to that found in the media. Overwhelmingly liberal bloggers identify themselves directly as Democrats. Yes, there are many who see the party as the lesser of two evils, and in their hearts would prefer Dennis Kucinich or Ralph Nader, but overwhelmingly I've found bloggers on the left have no problem saying "yep, I'm a Democrat" (I obviously count myself among that group).

But among bloggers on the right, it always seems that great pains are taken to make it clear that they are "independents" or "libertarians" - these are people who usually endorse much of the GOP agenda and reliably vote for Republicans - and they don't identify as "Republican". Yes, there are some like GOPBloggers who identify with the party, but that was essentially a recent development.

What does it mean? Well, liberals like to join movements, but as anyone who has watched the rightie echo chamber in progress can testify to, so does the left. It begs the question, are Democrats simply prouder of the Democratic party and what it stands for - for all the handwringing of "where do we stand" could it be that the donkey triumphs over the pachyderm? I think so.
I can't tell you how many self-proclaimed "libertarians" I've come across over the years that after talking with them for say ten to twenty minutes, you realize they're actually Republicans in denial. However, if you ever utter such truth to them, they get insulted and wish to make perfectly clear that I am mistaken. It's as if they fully realize there's much to be ashamed about the GOP, and that they should try to resist aligning with this party, but again if you discuss things with them over a long enough period of time, they always seem to drift back towards the GOP talking points.

We've seen this same thing with Bill O'Reilly and his idiotic insistence that he's a "traditionalist" -- whatever that may be. And do any of the right-wing radio talking heads (Limbaugh, Hannity, etc.) ever admit on the air that they're for the GOP, again literally stating such? You do hear this regarding Democrats with most of the hosts on Air America Radio.

I've long ago made the translation that when someone tells me they're a libertarian, or some other slippery term (I've even heard some say "I'm not a Bush Republican, but rather a Reagan Republican" -- ultimately voting for Bush in November), for most of them they're either a self-hating Republican looking to hide, or they're simply in denial, deluded about what they truly believe and those who side with them.

Oh well, so many in this country are in such a state of denial and so sadly deluded and misled, I wonder if the collective nation will ever wake up.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Implosion Grows Nearer....

First, several Republicans were voicing dissatisfaction with Delay a few weeks ago (and more recently was The Wall Street Journal!) as his ethical troubles mounted like snow in Boston, then comes GOP Congressman Chris Shays' statement ("This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy"), and now this op-ed in the NY Times, written by a former Republican senator. Danforth correctly states, "The problem... is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement."

It's just a matter of time.
More environmental federalism (may it continue):
E.P.A. Sued Over Mercury in the Air

New Jersey and eight other states filed a lawsuit yesterday challenging a new federal rule that they claim does not do enough to control dangerous mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.
So I guess I'm not the only "alarmist," but so also are the officials in many states....
That Goes For Me Too....
It's been really quite interesting how the rightwingosphere has just about completely ignored Tom DeLay's corruption and utter perversion of the very values that brought the GOP to power.

Now that the WSJ has greenlighted attacks on DeLay, that might change, but the silence over DeLay's perversions of democracy has been deafening.

Now everyone knows that I have never been afraid to take on Democrats when I think they are doing the wrong thing. But then again, this is a different place than the mindless automatons taking their talking cues from Limbaugh and company.

But I need a favor: when Democrats take power and become the majority party, and some of them start acting like DeLay (which is inevitable -- power corrupts), please make sure I'm speaking out against such corruption. And if I don't, line me up against the metaphorical wall and shoot me.

I don't ever want to become what they are. (Daily Kos)
WASHINGTON — Battered by an unusually tough recruiting season, the Army has raised the maximum age for recruits for the National Guard and the Army Reserve by five years, from the current 34 years old to 39.
Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, an Arlington, Va., think tank, says the change is "long overdue" because the military has been so thinly stretched by major deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Warfare has become more suitable for middle-age troops, he says. "Hand-to-hand combat is not a common thing today."
OK, so let me understand, war has become better suited for older folks compared to years ago, and yet no raise in the eligible age for Social Security -- despite a 9-year gain in life expectancy since the 1950's? Military "necessity" vs. political avoidance?
Regarding the horrendous bankruptcy bill passed by Congress not too long ago:
Only weeks before Congress is likely to approve the long-sought overhaul, bankruptcy judges across the country warn that the measure would undermine the very section of the law under which debtors are now repaying more than $3 billion annually to their creditors.

These judges say the effect of the overhaul would be to discourage most forms of personal bankruptcy, which for nearly two centuries has served as a safety net for people in economic trouble.

"The folks who brought you 'those who can pay, should pay' are pulling the stuffing out of the very part of the bankruptcy law where debtors do pay," said Keith Lundin, a federal bankruptcy judge in the eastern district of Tennessee in Nashville and an authority on bankruptcy repayment plans.

"The advocates aren't trying to fix the bankruptcy law; they're trying to mess it up so much that nobody can use it," Lundin charged. (LA Times)
From this awful bill to sneaking through ANWR drilling to spending valuable time on baseball steroid use to all but ignoring the many ethical issues surrounding DeLay and now the Schiavo debacle, this Congress is set to go down as one of the worst in quite some time.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Wall Street Journal recently printed an editorial urging the "the need for a national discussion on the care of the severely disabled and, inevitably, on the 'right to die.'"

Of course, I read nothing in the piece that hinted at any condemnation for the GOP's blatant use of the Schiavo family as a vote-seeking tool. When Bush, DeLay, and Frist first got word of polls showing that the public overwhelmingly opposed their actions, notice they quickly dissipated into nowhere land. If they truly cared about the "culture of life," you'd think they'd continue to fight for Terri Schiavo despite the abysmal poll numbers.

Mind you, the WSJ is not professing anything earth-shattering or provocative: sure, a national conversation on the "right to die" issue would be a productive, needed exercise. But why didn't Bush & Co. bring it up months or years ago, without the convenient prompting of a 15-year tragic, private family case? Heck, they could've used the Pope instead, a truly public figure (do we know if the Pope has a living will? Excuse my ignorance but I'm unclear of what could happen if the Pope slips into a coma, requiring a feeding tube, etc.).

Again, the entire manufactured spectacle has been sickening and I must admit, for many of those right-wingers I know that usually defend Bush and his gang no matter what, to hear most of them condemn this recent action shows you just how far over the line the GOP has finally gone.

You think they'll learn from this and moderate? Hah!! That would require reason and common sense, both clearly lacking in this current version of the ruling party.

UPDATE: Vatican reports Pope fed nutrition through tube.

Monday, March 28, 2005

What would've been a tragic death -- one of many that occur each year in this nation -- has now become a massively-publicized ghoulish death-watch.

Let's hope the American public (i.e. voters) do not succumb to amnesia come election time. Enough is enough.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Suddenly, even as legislative action becomes the sole hope of the Schindler family in the Terri Schiavo case, their biggest supporter, Rep. Tom DeLay, seems to have dropped off the face of the earth. Sure, it's Congress' Easter Recess, but that was true last week as well when DeLay and Bill Frist called Congress back into "emergency session" to prevent what DeLay called "murder" and "medical terrorism." Now that the whole thing hasn't worked out too well from anybody's point of view, DeLay seems to have decided it's no emergency at all.
Then again, could interpret: red meat thrown to religious backers, mission accomplished, go home. Either way, opportunism rules the day.
"We are, quite simply, witnessing one of the greatest examples of misplaced priorities in the history of the U.S. presidency."
How Rove & the GOP can claim a slimy victory regarding the Schiavo intervention:
Republicans are "going to get kicked around a lot," said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. On the other hand, he sees a silver lining in the otherwise miserable polls: The minority that does back congressional action probably supports it intensely, while the majority that disagrees "won't remember this woman's name in a few months."
Very sad, but likely very true. Cold and calculating (emphasis on "cold").
Great column by Dowd the other day. Criticizing the GOP for the many things wrong with the Schiavo case is getting to be too easy, but she still comes up with some choice comments. Example: "As the Bush White House desperately maneuvers in Iraq to prevent the new government from being run according to the dictates of religious fundamentalists, it desperately maneuvers here to pander to religious fundamentalists who want to dictate how the government should be run." Of course, Iraq simply has the wrong religion(s); if Christianity were popular there, oh you better believe GW, DeLay, and the rest would be pushing hard behind the scenes to make it a theocracy over there....

She points out that House Republican Chris Shays apparently still has a brain: "As Christopher Shays... put it: 'This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy.'" She also writes, "Dr. Frist thinks he can ace out Jeb Bush to be 44, even though he has become a laughingstock by trying to rediagnose Ms. Schiavo's condition by video. As one disgusted Times reader suggested in an e-mail: 'Americans ought to send Bill Frist their requests: 'Dear Dr. Frist: Please watch the enclosed video and tell us if that mole on my mother's cheek is cancer. Does she need surgery?'"

And more: "Republicans easily abandon their cherished principles of individual privacy and states' rights when their personal ambitions come into play. The first time they snatched a case out of a Florida state court to give to a federal court, it was Bush v. Gore. This time, it's Bush v. Constitution." In other words, selective beliefs translates into partisan posturing -- there's no conviction here. Recall that Bush and the "righteous" Sen. Santorum (PA) endorsed pro-choice Arlen Specter instead of the vigorously pro-life GOP candidate, Pat Toomey. What was that all about? Where was the "culture of life" then?

Friday, March 25, 2005

A terrific piece up at the student newspaper of USC.

A segment:
Surely, the growing religious right that captured congressional seats last fall by arguing that the institution of marriage is under attack recognized the hypocrisy in their argument - one of these tenets "under attack" is that spouses make such life-impacting decisions for each other, taking the place of parents upon marriage.

That the House Republicans would attempt to alter the law and the nature of the marriage they made an electoral campaign out of purporting to defend simply because they didn't like the result, must have been a tough pill for some to swallow. But cutting off their own arguments on the sanctity of marriage in the process has been a small price to pay for votes from a hypocritical electorate that cares little for the Constitution....
Another great piece, and segment:
Conservatives will tell you that the sanctity of the marriage relation between a man and a woman is so sacrosanct that the nation needs a Defense of Marriage Act, if not a constitutional amendment to preserve it. Yet let a husband like Michael Schiavo attempt to carry out the wishes of his wife, communicated to him within the bounds of such a marriage, then his word is worthless. Far from being able to carry out her wishes, everyone else's opinion, from the governor on down, means more and that sacrosanct relationship really means nothing, if it results in a result that the right doesn't approve of.
Indeed, the sheer number of hypocritical items swirling around this case is absolutely mind-boggling. It's to the point where more than a few Republicans must be wondering in private, "what the hell did we do?" as it's quickly become obvious to most of America that this sudden intervention by the GOP was from the start nothing more than naked posturing to appeal to certain voters. As I've said before, this is about as low as politicians can get (and that takes some doing!).
Never to be accused of being an intellectual elite, James Taranto, web hound for the Wall Street Journal, criticizes Jim Jeffords for suggesting GW went to war with Iraq for 1) the oil and 2) bolstering his re-election chances. (How dare Jeffords state something so outlandish! How un-American!).

Taranto writes,
So let's see if we have this straight: According to Jeffords, the president went to war in Iraq to "control the country's oil supply" and to help his own re-election chances. This doesn't quite jibe with what happened, which is that Bush was re-elected even though Iraq's oil industry, which America doesn't control at any rate, is operating at far from full capacity and U.S. gasoline prices are quite high compared with recent years.
Hey, he brings up a good point. Recall that several folks in the administration stated the war would primarily be funded by Iraqi oil (a free invasion!) -- what happened? Last time I looked this invasion / occupation was anything but free ($300+ bil. cost to American taxpayers, and counting).

Thanks to both Jims for prompting us to revisit this key question.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

More than two-thirds of people who describe themselves as evangelicals and conservatives disapprove of the intervention by Congress and President Bush in the case of the Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged woman at the center of a national debate.

A CBS News poll found that four of five people polled opposed federal intervention, with levels of disapproval among key groups supporting the GOP almost that high.
What a misread! The arrogance and hubris has risen to the point where they can't even pander correctly. Too much power = overstepping, look for implosion next (example: rats jumping ship re DeLay).
Be Afraid
WASHINGTON, (Reuters) - The budget deficit has overtaken terrorism as the greatest short-term risk to the U.S. economy.
GOP hypocrisy continues:
WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who has championed the "rescue" of Terri Schiavo, is a renowned heart surgeon who has pulled the plug on a "regular basis," his office acknowledged yesterday.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) — The trust fund for Social Security will go broke in 2041 — a year earlier than previously estimated — the trustees reported Wednesday. Trustees also said that Medicare, the giant health care program for the elderly and disabled, faces insolvency in 2020.

Hmm, it appears as if Medicare qualifies as more of a crisis than Social Security (2020 vs. 2041), no? But then why doesn't GW focus on that issue? Could it be that "fixing" SS involves diverting billions to financial service companies whereas fixing Medicare will likely involve taking money away from already bloated healthcare special interests (recall the 3AM Medicare bill passage)?

UPDATE: In today's Washington Post, "The two independent trustees overseeing Social Security and Medicare broke with the Bush administration's trustees yesterday, saying Medicare's financial problems far exceed Social Security's and are in urgent need of attention." Note that Medicare has a $30 trillion unfunded liability (present value over next 75 years) compared to $4 trillion for Social Security.

From Seeing The Forest:
August, 2001, Bush receives a memo titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.," leaves for vacation.

2005, Bush receives a Republican strategy memo saying "This is a great political issue, ... and this is a tough issue for Democrats," flies back from vacation for emergency Congressional session.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Dahlia Lithwick's must-read piece on the Schiavo bill. A segment:
Evidently, Congress has a secret, super-textual constitutional role as the nation's caped crusaders—its members authorized to leap into phone booths around the world and fly back to Washington in a single bound whenever the "culture of life" is in peril. Republicans acknowledged this weekend that their views on "the sanctity of life" trump even their convictions about federalism. Or, as Tom DeLay put it, when asked how he reconciles this bill with conservative calls to keep the federal government out of state matters, "We, as Congress, have every right to make sure that the constitutional rights of Terri Schiavo are protected, and that's what we're doing."

This congressional authority to simply override years of state court fact-finding brings with it other superpowers, including the power of gratuitous name-calling: Members of Congress unable to pronounce Schiavo's name just last week are denouncing her husband as an adulterer and common law bigamist who withheld proper medical care from her. I wonder what they'd say about my parenting—or yours—if they decided to make a federal case out of every domestic-custody dispute currently resolved in state court proceedings.

Members of Congress have apparently also had super-analytical powers conferred upon them, as well. Senate Majority Leader, and heart surgeon, Bill Frist felt confident last week—after reviewing an hour of videotape—in offering a medical diagnosis of Schiavo's condition, blithely second-guessing the court-appointed neurologists who evaluated her for days and weeks. His colleagues are similarly self-appointed neurological experts. Years of painstaking litigation, assessment, and evaluation by state courts are dismissed by Tom DeLay as the activist doings of a "little judge sitting in a state district court in Florida." Only the most extraordinary levels of congressional hubris could allow a group of elected citizens to substitute their personal medical, legal, and ethical judgments for those of the doctors, judges, and guardians who have been intimately involved with this heartbreakingly sad case for years.
This overtly transparent use of a family's tragic situation for sheer political gain is likely the most abhorrent and revolting act I can recall perpetrated by any politician(s) in recent memory.
And now for all those wingnuts who complain that "liberal" news is filled with bias and opinion....
In covering the Iraq war last year, 73 percent of the stories on Fox News included the opinions of the anchors and journalists reporting them, a new study says.

By contrast, 29 percent of the war reports on MSNBC and 2 percent of those on CNN included the journalists' own views.
Oh, but let me guess, this study itself was biased, right? Of course, what was I thinking.
Q: "Just curious, how did the Democratic senators vote on this issue?"

A: You force me to play the role of the elite liberal (happens very often): 1) the GOP controls Congress and therefore decides what comes up for vote, 2) they know they can throw red meat to their religious base on this issue, therefore pays to make it a big to-do, 3) they also know if Dems vote against it, they can then campaign (with usual campaign trail lies and deception) on Dems being anti-life (similar to indecency bill B.S.). You see? Win-win. If Dems controlled Congress and did this same thing, I'd be just as critical. Note: to get ANWR passed, they tucked it inside bigger spending bill (didn't have the votes otherwise), but on this issue (and others like it), where they WANT the big headlines and the "threat" of specifically-targeted roll call votes, it's a separate bill.

Pure bottom-feeding partisan politics -- surprise!
As Oliver Willis asks, where was the GOP's ire, indignation, and call to immediately step in and legislate on this one, and countless others in the past?
GW flip-flops -- again? Anything for votes (oh, but he's all about principles -- forgot).
From CrooksandLiars:

via DC Scoop

Here are the GOP's talking points on Schiavo that garnered so much attention over the weekend. Rumor has it that Rick Santorum's office wrote these talking points: here

This is as low as it gets, or until the next time.
Figures the self-righteous Santorum -- one who finely stokes and plays the religious folks -- appears on the scene (uh, allegedly).
The coup, continued. As you probably know by now, a special law was passed in the wee hours to avert Florida's judicial process regarding the removal of Terry Schiavo's feeding tube. But there were only three Senators present, out of a body of 100. No quorum, according to our Constitution, and the ideologues apparently care nothing for the Constitution or due process any longer.

We all know of course how the Medicare prescription bill's voting was held open for hours, when the normal time is about 15 minutes; and we also know how, on that same bill, the correct information on the plan's cost was deliberately withheld from Congress, as well as how there was an attempt to bribe one Representative right on the floor of the House.

A coup is in progress. Who will show their patriotism and stand in the way of this?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

In addition to steroid use in MLB, the Republican-controlled Congress apparently believes the Schiavo tragedy is another issue requiring their immediate attention.

Oliver Willis correctly writes:
The Republican Party Has Lost It's Damn Mind
The case of Terry Schiavo is very sad, tragic even. But the energy now being devoted to undermine multiple rulings of a state court as well as the refusal of the United States Supreme Court is an act of legislative insanity.

The Republican party has now made clear that in order to satiate those opposed to abortion and the religious far right, it feels no shame about propping up the broken body of Terry Schiavo in order to score electoral points. Our country is at war on multiple fronts, while our soldiers still do not have the equipment they need to keep them safe or a reasonable strategy to bring them home. Americans are without health care, our educational system needs funding - and this is the issue that keeps the Republicans burning the midnight oil? An essentially unconstitutional attempt to deligitamize the powers of the state courts and their related governments?

This is corruption - at the highest levels.

No wonder the ethics of people like Tom Delay are so bankrupt. If Republicans cared so much for the "sanctity of life", they would devote 1/10th the attention they've given to the Schiavo case to the truly important issues of our time that would save the lives of thousands -- or millions -- of Americans.
Bravo. And he presents this long-overdue piece of evidence of how the GOP truly operates in this day and age:
ABC News has obtained talking points circulated among Republican senators explaining why they should vote to intervene in the Schiavo case. Among them: "This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited..." and "This is a great political issue... this is a tough issue for Democrats."
Just sickening -- but highly believable.

Meanwhile, Digby makes some excellent points:
By now most people who read liberal blogs are aware that George W. Bush signed a law in Texas that expressly gave hospitals the right to remove life support if the patient could not pay and there was no hope of revival, regardless of the patient's family's wishes. It is called the Texas Futile Care Law. Under this law, a baby was removed from life support against his mother's wishes in Texas just this week. A 68 year old man was given a temporary reprieve by the Texas courts just yesterday.

Those of us who read liberal blogs are also aware that Republicans have voted en masse to pull the plug (no pun intended) on medicaid funding that pays for the kind of care that someone like Terry Schiavo and many others who are not so severely brain damaged need all across this country.

Those of us who read liberal blogs also understand that that the tort reform that is being contemplated by the Republican congress would preclude malpractice claims like that which has paid for Terry Schiavo's care thus far.

Those of us who read liberal blogs are aware that the bankruptcy bill will make it even more difficult for families who suffer a catastrophic illness like Terry Schiavo's because they will not be able to declare chapter 7 bankruptcy and get a fresh start when the gargantuan medical bills become overwhelming.

And those of us who read liberal blogs also know that this grandstanding by the congress is a purely political move designed to appease the religious right and that the legal maneuverings being employed would be anathema to any true small government conservative.

Those who don't read liberal blogs, on the other hand, are seeing a spectacle on television in which the news anchors repeatedly say that the congress is "stepping in to save Terry Schiavo" mimicking the unctuous words of Tom Delay as they grovel and leer at the family and nod sympathetically at the sanctimonious phonies who are using this issue for their political gain.
The fact that DeLay has entered the scene and uttered his typical sanctimonious, judgmental comments clearly with political motive and intent, all the while battling umpteen ethical transgressions, is a display of breathtaking -- and nauseating -- chutzpa. But then, I'd expect nothing less from this crew.

Friday, March 18, 2005

A segment from a letter in this week's TNR:
Your editorial concludes that, because of the January 30 election, we should stop debating the merits of invading Iraq (“Wrong Way,” February 14). I disagree. As heartening as the vote is, it does not change the fact that we invaded because Saddam Hussein supposedly had weapons of mass destruction. When WMD were not found, the rationale for the war morphed into democratizing Iraq.
I have received more than a few angry complaints that I don't spend enough time congratulating Bush for the amazing signs of democracy sprouting up all over the Middle East. I guess what they have in mind is apparently what's come over Bill Maher, who this past Friday simply gushed over GW's achievement in this regard, now oddly applauding the Iraq invasion and even endorsing Bush's lies & deception to get us to go there in the first place. It was stunning.

However, as I've stated repeatedly here, it's this last part that sticks in my craw. I don't see how you can wholeheartedly congratulate Bush when he did not originally propose going into Iraq to spread liberty and democracy. Nope, sorry, I was there, I remember how it was sold, and it was not for those reasons. We heard over and over again -- from Bush, but especially from Cheney -- that we needed to invade Iraq for two reasons 1) that Saddam was somehow connected or linked to those who were behind 9-11, and 2) that Iraq had WMD which could be used against us in the near future. There was no mention of the primary purpose being to establish a democracy. As Bill Maher said on his show, if they in fact used that exact reason and put it before the American public, there's no way the public would've went for it. And Bush/Cheney/Rove knew this all along. To get the public's backing, they needed to twist and deceive -- and hey, it's what they do best!

So excuse me if I'm a bit reluctant to high-five GW. To come up with a loose analogy, it's like a doctor who negligently tells a blind man that he needs to have his leg amputated (though the leg is perfectly fine) and right after removing the leg, the blind man amazingly regains his sight. OK, the man can now see, and he likely would not have if not for the removal of the leg, but 1) how do we know that the man wouldn't have eventually regained his sight at some point, but more so 2) THE DOCTOR IS STILL NEGLIGENT BECAUSE THE LEG DID NOT HAVE TO BE REMOVED.

With Iraq, only after the original reasons for invading proved to be 100% wrong (and there was ample proof prior proving the reasons to be extremely dubious) did the administration quickly switch gears and begin to play up the "spread liberty" message, i.e. they immediately emphasized the blind man's gained sight. Sorry, but I, the person who wrote the letter to TNR, and countless others have not forgotten the original reasons. And if we allow for this practice to go without scrutiny or rightful harsh criticism, then it opens the door for future such shenanigans where bogus reasons can be hoisted on the public just to win them over, the real reasons kept safely hidden.

As I've said repeatedly, just imagine Clinton in the same spot -- we'd never hear the end of it. Oh, and let's not forget, one of Bush's campaign promises in 2000 was to avoid the practice of nation building. A flip flop? Oh, that's right, 9-11 changed everything, but did it change the fact that president's shouldn't ever lie to or deceive the public about going to war?

UPDATE: See comments section for this entry.
A complaint received from a right-wing reader: "I've seen nothing but DeLay garbage for weeks."

I beg to differ about "weeks," more like days (though when it comes to this guy, there's been enough to write about for months if not years). Granted, I realize I should be mentioning more of the ever-pressing and crucial issue facing the nation, that being steroid use in baseball. Compared to the much less important topic of DeLay's many ethical lapses, you're right, Congress is, as usual, focusing on what truly matters to our country.

Of course, I'm sure the gripes would stay consistent if it was a Dem of equal stature to DeLay in hot water....

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

For more on the DeLay ethics train wreck go here and here and here.
John Zogby in the WSJ:
Why would the president risk his political capital on a plan that appears doomed to failure? I think the answer lies well beyond the politics of any single reform plan. And the president may end up a winner if his call for personal accounts ultimately fails. After all, he has raised a serious issue that needs attention--the very solvency of Social Security--which Democrats have never touched. Huge majorities of voters understand that the current system is in trouble. He will, at the very least, get credit for trying to reform the program....
This sounds awfully familiar. Wasn't there a First Lady not too long ago who tried to reform a system that was in trouble and heading for greater trouble? That being Hillary Clinton and the healthcare system. We now have a healthcare system out of control, escalating in costs and singularly serving as one of the main reasons employment has lagged. And yet do we ever hear or see any proof of Hillary getting credit for trying to reform this system? Me thinks not.

But no doubt, years from now we'll hear the right-wing zealots crow about how Bush could've saved Social Security -- similar to the same nutjobs who crow about how stupendously great Reagan was on nearly everything!

Zogby approaches this aspect of the issue as if all political types are the same -- they're not.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Chris Bowers echoes what I say below regarding DeLay ("You hear that "liberal" media? Let's see you finally live up to the absurd label!"):
DeLay and his litany of ethics problems is the key here. Despite the growing list of charges against DeLay, the stink of corruption has not hurt the Republican caucus or party in general because only around half of the country has even heard of him, much less heard of the charges against him. However, if we can succeed in introducing DeLay to the majority of the country through the frame of corruption, we will instantly be able to nationalize the campaign and turn it into a referendum on reform. If we can raise Tom DeLay's national name recognition to over 90%, then the majority of the country will know his name better than they know the name of their own congressman. If we do so by running ads describing how corrupt he is, then the entire Republican delegation will start to seem corrupt.
Meanwhile, Bull Moose brings up a terrific point: the greater the federal deficit, the more control given to communist China:
America is increasingly a debtor to those very same Communist Chinese. It is an irony indeed that the conservative Bushie tax cuts for the wealthy are assisting their class enemies!

Yesterday's New York Times Magazine contained a rather complacent view of the China debt.

"Let's translate that into political terms. In effect, the Bush administration's combination of tax cuts for the Republican ''base'' and a Global War on Terror is being financed with a multibillion dollar overdraft facility at the People's Bank of China. Without East Asia, your mortgage might well be costing you more. The toys you buy for your kids certainly would."

However, the writer, Niall Ferguson indicates that it is in the Chinese interest that the dollar not slide so America can buy their exports. But, the Moose asks what if the rulers of China decide that they can, in effect, hold a threat of economic blackmail to stop American efforts to defend Taiwan?

It is clearly in our national security interests that we not be vulnerable to such a possibility. While the Bushies today suggest that they are concerned about the deficit, they its architects. The question is why Republican hawks have been so quiet about the irresponsible Bush fiscal policies that both make it difficult to expand the military and give aid and comfort to a potential foe?
Back to DeLay, at 8AM this morning, I took a quick look at the excellent meta-blog The Daou Report and what do you know, on the right (he groups blogs liberal literally on the left, conservative on the right) I see zippo about DeLay. Hmm, you'd think this fairly big news story would incite at least a few comments from the right, but no, dead silence (hear: crickets), like it hasn't happened. Oh, but I did of course find one on that heinous Ward Churchill. The right-wing blogs have been a-buzz regarding this guy. I'm with Ed Schulz who stated on his radio show that he finds this guy just fodder for the right, serving as a needless lightning rod for them to get their base all excited (similar to the gay marriage furor). Dems should (if they didn't already) just condemn and distance, effectively pulling the plug on something that should never have amounted to anything near as big as what it's become. But then, that's what the right-wing does best: stir up false outrage to 1) keep their base in line, and 2) take attention off of more meaningful and outrageous topics (such as DeLay.... in fact, as the DeLay scandal train picks up steam, look for more false stories and red herrings to distract the public).

Monday, March 14, 2005

BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 12 - In the weeks after Baghdad fell in April 2003, looters systematically dismantled and removed tons of machinery from Saddam Hussein's most important weapons installations, including some with high-precision equipment capable of making parts for nuclear arms, a senior Iraqi official said this week in the government's first extensive comments on the looting.
Likely reason why?
"there was not enough military personnel to guard all of them during and after the invasion."
That great call by Rumsfeld.

Oh, and hello George Orwell:
Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance. In all, at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records and interviews show. Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production.
Yes, hundreds! OK, the Dan Rather thing was very bad, yes? Agreed? And yet this -- where's the outrage on tax-payer-funded fabricated news (i.e. propaganda)?!

And now for some signs of justice:
With some members increasingly concerned that DeLay had left himself vulnerable to attack, several Republican aides and lobbyists said for the first time that they are worried about whether he will survive and what the consequences could be for the party's image.
"While he is far from a nationally recognized figure, Republicans worry that all it takes is more national news coverage to change that...."
You hear that "liberal" media? Let's see you finally live up to the absurd label!

And get a load of this:
The list of recent donors includes dozens of Mr. DeLay's House Republican colleagues, including two lawmakers who were placed on the House ethics committee this year, and several of the nation's largest corporations and their executives.

Among the corporate donors to the defense fund is Bacardi U.S.A., the Florida-based rum maker, which has also been indicted in the Texas investigation, and Reliant Energy, another major contributor to a Texas political action committee formed by Mr. DeLay that is the focus of the criminal inquiry.
Where does the slime end? And isn't DeLay a Christian Right fave? He indeed just absolutely symbolizes moral values and ethics, someone all kids should look up to and admire....

Finally, great entry at DonkeyRising, about the woeful lack of news coverage regarding the bankruptcy bill. Once again, the "liberal" media is a big no-show.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Where's the investigation? Where's the self-righteous moral outrage? Just imagine if this were a leading Democrat:
Gambling Interests Funded DeLay Trip

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Great blog entry by Steve Gilliard.
This bankruptcy bill is about as complete and transparent a corporate suck-up as it gets. Leaving aside "the legislation will do far more damage than good by hitting middle-income families, women and the elderly who have used bankruptcy protection in growing numbers to protect themselves," two other items just kill me:

1) "In a letter to Congress two weeks ago, 104 bankruptcy law professors predicted that 'the deepest hardship' would 'be felt in the heartland,' where the filing rates are highest - Utah, Tennessee, Georgia, Nevada, Indiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Ohio, Mississippi and Idaho." Just classic. Look at the big outspoken backers of the bill: Orin Hatch (Utah), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Frist (Tenn.), i.e. the heartland! And the big opposers: Schumer (NY) and Kennedy (MA), uh, the non-heartland.... Tells you much about the over-the-top hubris when it comes to the reelection power of incumbency. These guys choose the corporate campaign donors over their constituents, every time.

2) "Critics also said the measure fails to do anything to curb abusive bankruptcy practices by wealthy families, who can create special trusts to shelter their assets, and by corrupt companies like Enron and WorldCom, which were able to find favorable bankruptcy courts and deprive many of their employees and retired employees of benefits. The Senate defeated a series of amendments proposed by Democrats that sought to address those issues." That's it, make sure to keep intact the loopholes for the wealthy and corporations -- just screw the little guy. Similar to tax audits with most being done on average John Q. Public, NOT corporations or the rich.

Probably the worst bill passed in the last 20 years, a shameless act of sheer special interest gifting. Of course, the Dems will not be able to use it come election time because too many of them voted for it!
Before rebuilding Iraq, or any other nation in the near future, perhaps we
should rebuild America first:
WASHINGTON (AP) - Crowded schools, traffic-choked roads and transit cutbacks are eroding the quality of American life, according to an analysis by civil engineers that gave the nation's infrastructure an overall grade of D. A report by the American Society of Civil Engineers released Wednesday assessed the four-year trend in the condition of 12 categories of infrastructure, including roadways, bridges, drinking water systems, public parks, railroads and the power grid. The overall grade slipped from the D-plus given to the infrastructure in 2001 and 2003.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Pass the smelling salts!
HOUSTON (Reuters) - Former Secretary of State James Baker, a close ally of the Bush family, broke ranks with the Bush administration on Thursday and called for the United States to get serious about global warming.
Snarky James Taranto of the WSJ recently wrote:
Interesting too is [Jon] Stewart's acknowledgment of his own "cognitive dissonance" and "mixed feelings" over the Iraq liberation. It's a version of an argument we've been hearing a lot lately: As our Brendan Miniter puts it, "The president's critics never seem to tire of claiming that the war in Iraq began over weapons of mass destruction and only later morphed into a war of liberation."

Miniter correctly notes that "this criticism isn't entirely right," but for the sake of argument let's assume it is. What does it mean? President Bush has altered his arguments to conform to reality, while his critics remain fixated on obsolete disputes. This would seem utterly to refute the liberal media stereotype. Bush, it turns out, is a supple-minded empiricist, while his opponents are rigid ideologues.
Just beyond hilarity. What planet is James living on? He first wants us to believe that GW altered to fit reality -- and yet this is a president that exactly DOES NOT do that. GW believes what he wants to believe no matter the evidence to the contrary; he simply declares he needs more science (i.e. the verdict is still conveniently out). And what about the ample intel that existed and was provided to the president showing that Iraq had no WMD, and yet GW and Cheney chose instead to ignore it? That's very different than altering one's view to conform to reality after the fact. The reality was always very much there to begin with!

Yet, in describing Bush as flexible and his opposition as "rigid" is all you need to know about Taranto. Yeah, Pelosi is as attack dog as Newt Gingrich, and GW/Cheney/DeLay and the rest of the GOP are a bunch of fun-loving, easy-going compromisers -- right....
When will it stop?

EPA Distorted Mercury Analysis, GAO Says

The Environmental Protection Agency distorted the analysis of its controversial proposal to regulate mercury pollution from power plants, making it appear that the Bush administration's market-based approach was superior to a competing scheme supported by environmentalists, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office said yesterday.

Rebuking the agency for a lack of "transparency," the report said the EPA had failed to fully document the toxic impact of mercury on brain development, learning, and neurological functioning.
(Washington Post)

Monday, March 07, 2005

BushGreenwatch writes about how GW and his thugs in the Senate are preparing to pass the very unpopular ANWR drilling legislation by way of sneaky, underhanded means. (Again, whatever it takes to achieve an end). They intend to attach it to a budget bill and therefore shield it from any debate or compromise.

Whether you agree or not that drilling in ANWR is of immediate national interest (and apparently most Americans do not by a 53% to 35% margin), that's NOT the point here. What is the point is these gutless legislators should let ANWR sink or swim on its own merit, AND allow for the votes to be recorded specifically on this issue alone so constituents can easily look it up. Ah, but that's exactly what they don't want: accountability.

Better to scurry and hide like roaches when the light is turned on....

Another example of spineless governing, Michael Crowley writes in TNR:
[Representative Roy Blunt's] provision—which had nothing to do with the bill’s creation of the Homeland Security Department—had never been debated in the House, either on the floor or in committee. Yet he tried to add this rider mere hours before his colleagues voted on the intricate 475-page bill, virtually guaranteeing they would never see it. Blunt is correct that illegal cigarette sales are a source of income for terrorists. But it is also the case that such sales, most of which are surely not terrorism-related, eat into the profits of tobacco companies like Phillip Morris, which employs both his son and then girlfriend (and now wife) as lobbyists. If this provision was so plainly virtuous, why didn’t Blunt introduce it weeks earlier for a transparent debate? That way people could have satisfied themselves that Blunt was really acting in the national interest and not carrying water for an industry that has supported him over the years—or doing a favor for his loved ones. It seems elementary that members of Congress should debate—or, at the very least, have enough time to read—legislation before voting on it, and yet Blunt offers no apologies for his attempt at covert lawmaking.
Our representative government at work....
My #1 fave must-read blog, pulling ahead of Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo: Kevin Drum's Political Animal. It's consistently excellent, providing truly interesting entries that are not just marginal fodder to fill up a page.

Here's a terrific recent example. GW & Co. are caught not just casting the usual spurious doubts on established science, but worse yet, lying about it. They can't just smear and distort -- their usual method for achieving desired ends -- but apparently now feel emboldened enough to just go all the way and completely misrepresent and misstate the facts.

And why not? They obviously have no qualms about doing so (says much about them), but where's the "liberal" press to enforce some degree of truth and honesty? As Kevin writes, "the Post was still unwilling to flatly call these statements lies. What does it take, guys?" Indeed.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Concerning one of my favorite subjects, hypocrisy (evident exceedingly more so in Republicans than Democrats I might add), much has been written of late about Greenspan and how he’s become so neck-deep in hypocritical goo that near all respect has been lost for the man.

Bull Moose writes,
...what planet the Fed Chairman has been living on the past four years.

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan descended from the heavens this week to inform us lowly earthlings that we face a deficit crisis. Who would have thunk it? But, in his infinite wisdom, the man who knows all told Congress,

"Unless we do something to ameliorate" rising debt levels, he told the House Budget Committee on Wednesday, "we will be in a state of stagnation."

This is from the man who has granted his blessing on the very tax cuts tilted toward the wealthy that has created this debt mess.
And New Donkey writes,
Back in 2001, you may recall, Greenspan endorsed Bush's tax cuts on the bizarre theory that otherwise the national debt might disappear and the federal government would have to start buying equity in private businesses to dispose of excess cash. More recently he has returned to his pre-Clinton administration doomsaying about federal budget deficits. So what does he propose now? Draining more revenues from Washington by creating big, fat tax-free savings vehicles to enable high earners to shelter investment income from taxation.

To be sure, what Greenspan actually wants is a national consumption tax, and endorses tax-free savings vehicles as a back-door means to that goal. This approach, of course, is a big part of the Grover Norquist "starve the beast" strategy of deliberately engineering large budget deficits in order to force big cutbacks in federal spending, or a shift in the tax base towards wage income or consumption, or all of the above.
Or to shift the tax burden to a regressive tilt, not progressive. Oh, and for those delusional enough to believe that Greenspan is 110% independent and non-partisan, don't forget my post on May 28, 2004.

Saving the best for last, of course it's Paul Krugman, the columnist that drives the right-wingers crazy, mainly because he's doesn't pull punches, is so often dead-on correct, and perhaps most of all, is not afraid to get inside the heads of the opposition to think like they do and in the process often be a step or two ahead of them, or at least in-step with them motive-wise. He concisely summarizes and reminds us of what these jokers are up to,
When Mr. Greenspan made his contorted argument for tax cuts back in 2001, his reputation made it hard for many observers to admit the obvious: he was mainly looking for some way to do the Bush administration a political favor. But there's no reason to be taken in by his equally weak, contorted argument against reversing those cuts today.

To put Mr. Greenspan's game of fiscal three-card monte in perspective, remember that the push for Social Security privatization is only part of the right's strategy for dismantling the New Deal and the Great Society. The other big piece of that strategy is the use of tax cuts to "starve the beast."

Until the 1970's conservatives tended to be open about their disdain for Social Security and Medicare. But honesty was bad politics, because voters value those programs.

So conservative intellectuals proposed a bait-and-switch strategy: First, advocate tax cuts, using whatever tactics you think may work - supply-side economics, inflated budget projections, whatever. Then use the resulting deficits to argue for slashing government spending.

And that's the story of the last four years. In 2001, President Bush and Mr. Greenspan justified tax cuts with sunny predictions that the budget would remain comfortably in surplus. But Mr. Bush's advisers knew that the tax cuts would probably cause budget problems, and welcomed the prospect.
Krugman's last line is most scary because it's extremely true -- and yet most Americans don't know a thing about it:
And the consequence of the failure of the starve-the-beast theory is a looming fiscal crisis - Mr. Greenspan isn't wrong about that. The middle class won't give up programs that are essential to its financial security; the right won't give up tax cuts that it sold on false pretenses. The only question now is when foreign investors, who have financed our deficits so far, will decide to pull the plug.
Yup, a ticking time bomb. Although starve-the-beast advocates I suppose assumed the public would just give-in to the argument that with such massive deficits, programs would need to be cut, Krugman proposes the more likely outcome, that the public will vote out the bums and NOT give up that to which they feel entitled. In the meantime, our fiscal fate rests with foreigners, who subsidize our debt via their "generous" buying of our federal securities. Quite a dicey predicament -- relying on the whims of non-Americans -- one that could change faster than many think.

Finally, note that the tide may finally be turning against Norquist and his like -- further providing proof that they (he, GW, etc.) may have greatly misplayed their hand. As a nation, let's hope so as time is running out.
Kobe Bryant, accuser settle her civil lawsuit

DENVER - Basketball star Kobe Bryant and the Colorado woman who accused him of rape 20 months ago have settled her civil lawsuit against him, their lawyers announced Wednesday. Kobe Bryant did not comment on his settlement with his 20-year-old female accuser. Terms of the out-of-court agreement were not released.
This announcement has received lots of media play but hey, let's not forget this near-exact same kind of news came out not too long ago regarding a very famous, family-values-ridden, traditionalist (?) FOX News talk show host.... Funny how that was so quickly forgotten -- where is the moral outrage, or grotesque fascination?! Could it be the right-wing easily forgive their own, no matter the transgression? No, couldn't be, not the righteous right -- strike thee down, no matter the political leaning! (Hah!)

Friday, March 04, 2005

Legislating good parenting:
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), head of the House Commerce Committee, said cable and broadcast TV "ought to play on the same field. If we can work out the constitutional questions, I'd be supportive of that."
Once again, bunch of hypocrites.... Regarding his indecency bill, Joe Barton discusses the possibility of regulating premium cable (Sopranos, etc.) -- this despite households knowingly paying for such content. I suppose more safeguards (coming from government) are needed for the innocent kids in the house. Uh, correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't these the same bunch of a-holes who incessantly whine about how the government is too large, too oppressive, too much into our lives? And the same morons who regularly criticize minorities and/or poor families for not pulling themselves up by the bootstraps and to not rely on the government to help out with parenting, raising their families, etc.?

It's the same old same old, the hypocritical card game they like to play -- to the point where it has to be a psychotic condition.
No bullshit:
Consider O'Reilly's signature schtick, the "No Spin Zone." What does he mean by this? I propose that "No Spin Zone" is merely an FCC-friendly translation of "No Bullshit Zone." O'Reilly is claiming that for at least a few minutes each night, you, the viewer, will not bullshitted. And yet, there's a meta level here, isn't there? Because this is itself bullshit. What's more, there's a level above that too: namely that both O'Reilly and his audience know that it's bullshit. And they don't mind.

This, I think, is a key characteristic of bullshit: not just that the bullshitter knows he's bullshitting, but that the bullshittee also knows it. He may know it for sure, or he may just suspect it deep in his heart, but part of the essence of bullshit is that both sides implictly recognize that the statement in question is, in fact, bullshit. In this way it acts like a compact between spewer and receiver, a shared secret that brings them closer together. Thus the piquancy of bullshit, as well as its popularity.
Kevin Drum

How comforting....
More environmental federalism:
WASHINGTON -- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Wednesday that governors should be allowed to protect environmentally sensitive federal land in their states against oil and gas drilling.
And more (i.e. States Fight Back!):
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California's attorney general sued the Bush administration Thursday over its management plan for the Giant Sequoia National Monument, home to two-thirds of the world's largest trees.

The federal plan adopted in December would illegally allow commercial logging in the 327,769-acre central California preserve, the suit alleges.

The plan also violates former President Clinton's April 2000 proclamation creating the reserve south of Sequoia National Park, which bans logging unless it is "clearly needed" for public or environmental protection, the suit says.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

I guess this is possible. It wouldn't be the first time they fabricated wedge issues to run on. But it could also be that at first they were earnest, but given the bad reception now they'll resort to this re-framing of the failed "crisis." I guess we're also to believe the recently setup war room is all for show:
The Treasury Department yesterday announced the formation of a Social Security "war room" and the hiring of three full-time employees to help coordinate and refine the administration's message on the issue. The war room, which the administration is calling the Social Security Information Center, will track lawmakers' remarks to their local news outlets, to help the White House detect signs of Republican concern or Democratic compromise. (Washington Post, 2/28/05)
Again, this all may be true, but I get the feeling it's taking conspiracy theory a bit too far....

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

So GW's attempts at creating massive fear in the public concerning Social Security appears to be a bust. Only 35% approve of the way he's handling the issue. I can just see Karl Rove scratching his head, wondering what went wrong. The create-panic-and-fear thing has worked like a charm for so long -- hmm, it's a puzzle.... Could it be that John Q. is finally wising up to being played for a fool?

Other interesting tid-bits from this poll:
Do you think leaders of other countries around the world have respect for George W. Bush, or do you think they don't have much respect for him?

Respect him 38%
Don’t have much respect 57%

Just your best guess, how much longer do you think the US will have a significant number of troops in Iraq?

Less than a year 4%
One-two years 29%
Three-five years 42%

How much longer do you think the US should have a significant number of troops in Iraq?

Less than a year 44%
One-two years 31%
Three-five years 13%

If the U.S. government decides to take military action in the following countries, would you favor or oppose it?

Iran: Favor 28%, Oppose 66%
Syria: Favor 26%, Oppose 65%
North Korea: Favor 32%, Oppose 62%
"I looked the man in the eye, and I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. I was able to get a sense of his soul." -- Bush about Putin
WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 - Russia agreed today to provide fuel for an Iranian nuclear reactor and sought to assure a wary world that tough safeguards would prevent any diversion of the fuel to build weapons.
It came only three days after President Bush, who has sharply denounced the Iranian program, expressed his trust in President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and joined with him in saying that Iran should not have nuclear weapons.
"I was disheartened and dismayed by the way he went eyeball to eyeball with President Putin and Bush blinked. Here is a president who has been talking eloquently about extending freedom and fighting for democracy around the world in his inaugural address and the State of the Union. And as soon as he comes up against the man who is doing more to stop the extension of freedom than anybody else, he wimps out all of a sudden." -- William Safire, MEET THE PRESS - NBC NEWS, 2/27/05