Saturday, May 31, 2008

Some Boys Won't Be Coming Home At All


Last week, John Amato, Irwing and I went to our friend's house to hear Andrew Rice speak and we were really impressed with Peter Salett, a young singer-songwriter who sat down at the piano and played a song before Andrew gave everyone an update on his campaign. This afternoon Peter sent me an mp3 of the song he played that night, "Some Boys Won't Be Coming Home At All," which he recorded last night. I put some pictures to the music but it's really the lyrics that are important, not the pictures:

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This Tuesday: Ed Fallon-- BETTER Democrats, Not Just More Democrats


Tuesday is the Iowa primary. The one key race is between Bush rubber stamp and Blue Dog incumbent-- one of the worst of the retroactive immunity enablers-- Leonard Boswell and the Blue America-endorsed progressive grassroots candidate Ed Fallon. Yesterday's CQPolitics showed its utter lack of depth in understanding the importance of primaries with a hackish article by staff writer Greg Giroux. Latching on to the corporate media narrative of referring to Bush rubber stamps as "centrists," Giroux manages to misrepresent why this primary-- like Donna Edwards' against Al Wynn and Regina Thomas' against John Barrow-- is so important.
Liberals are upset with some Democratic lawmakers of more centrist orientation who they think haven’t opposed President Bush’s policy positions vigorously enough. And in a handful of places, the party’s activist wing is sponsoring serious primary challenges to Democratic incumbents. Six-term Iowa Democratic Rep. Leonard L. Boswell, whose 3rd District in central Iowa includes the state capital of Des Moines, is one of these targeted members.

Boswell is opposed in Tuesday’s primary election by Ed Fallon, a former state representative who lost but staged an unexpectedly competitive bid in the Democrats’ 2006 primary for governor. Fallon is running to the congressman’s left on the Iraq War and other issues.

Boswell is “out of step with Iowans on so many issues,” Fallon charged Thursday morning on the radio program of conservative host Jan Mickelson, broadcast on Des Moines station WHO.

Fallon’s campaign Web site highlights the challenger’s differences with Boswell on issues, of which the biggest appears to be the ongoing war in Iraq. Boswell voted for the original 2002 resolution that authorized Bush to wage military operations in Iraq, which placed the congressman among a sizable minority of Democrats who sided with nearly every House Republican in backing the administration’s position. In June 2006, Boswell was one of 42 House Democrats who backed a non-binding Republican-authored resolution that said in part that “it is not in the national security interest of the United States to set an arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment” of troops.

Fallon and his allies argue that Boswell’s positions run counter to a strong majority opinion among Democratic voters in the 3rd District and nationwide that favors an expeditious redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq.

...In terms of financial resources, Fallon has restricted his campaign somewhat by not accepting money from political action committees (PACs). He says that decision rids him influence by “special interests” who Fallon says are funding Boswell’s campaign. But it also has limited him to about a fifth of the money that incumbent Boswell has raised. Boswell reported raising $1.2 million from the beginning of last year through May 14; Fallon, in his pre-primary report, showed a total of $245,000 in campaign receipts. The congressman had $710,000 left to spend at the middle of this month to just $28,000 for Fallon.

Now for a real understanding of why it is so important to defeat old school reactionaries like Boswell, take a look at whoreallyownscongress and immerse yourself in the typical Blue Dog worldview of taking big bribes from corporate special interests and then voting for them against the interests of your own constituents (and oath of office). Blue Dogs like Boswell are more like Republicans than they are like actual Democrats. If the citizens of MD-04 could rise up and wash Al Wynn out of the House, Iowans can do the same thing on Tuesday.

Boswell personifies the bad old politics we need to get beyond. Unlike the district, which went for Obama, he's a Hillary Clinton dead-ender; Fallon supports Obama. Boswell has consistently refused to debate Fallon, relying instead on the most vicious Rove-like attack smears (implying he supports child molesters). Boswell has no ideas, no accomplishments and no reasons to offer the voters for why they should return him to Congress. So he lays low, counts on the Democratic Party Incumbent Protection Racket to save his ass, and prays Fallon can't raise enough money to get his message out. So while the man who nearly saddled us with Joe Lieberman as Vice President croaks out a knee-jerk endorsement of Boswell, grassroots Iowans have put out a strong GOTV program for Tuesday.
“What Leonard Boswell is selling, the voters aren’t buying.” said Jim Dean, Chair of Democracy for America. “Races like this are won at the door and over the phone. Ed Fallon’s grassroots campaign understands this and that is why he is going to win on June 3rd.”

Democracy for America will use its grassroots infrastructure in the 3rd District to turn out hundreds of volunteers to participate in get out the vote activities in support of Ed Fallon. DFA and its members have, time and again, shocked the political establishment by focusing on the neighbor-to-neighbor outreach that is crucial for victory in tough races. Earlier this year, DFA and its members were instrumental in helping Donna Edwards defeat incumbent Congressman Al Wynn in Maryland.

Ed Fallon’s campaign which is funded by small donations from individuals contrasts with Leonard Boswell’s campaign which is dependent on large contributions from PACs like AT&T and Wal-Mart. Ed Fallon has excited and energized voters from across the District who have volunteered in large numbers to drive his people-powered campaign to victory in the primary. While Ed Fallon talks about bringing high-paying jobs to Iowa and fixing our country’s broken health care system and ending the War in Iraq, Leonard Boswell lashes out in a pathetic and vain attempt to confuse voters about his own shoddy record.

“Leonard Boswell has had his chance and he has failed. Leonard Boswell has failed on education, on the environment, on farm issues, and on the War in Iraq,” said Daniel I. Medress, Communications Director of Democracy for America. “Ed Fallon has the grassroots support and understands the issues that matter to voters. That is why Ed Fallon was endorsed by the Des Moines Register and why Ed Fallon will win on June 3rd.”

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David Frum Blames The McClellan Mess On Bush's Lack Of Vision and Lack Of Managerial Skill


Frum now claiming publisher botched title & he meant "Rightist Man?"

Although the GOP reaction To Scott McClellan's book that gets the most ink was prissy Bob Dole's "miserable creature" remark, a few days ago, author Newt Gingrich was questioned about McClellan on Fox and, speaking as a publishing business insider, he claims the whle thing was a big giant ploy to sell books and that the publisher probably encouraged McClellan to "spice it up." Gingrich went on to say that he's "more concerned about 'American Idol' than I am about Scott McClellan... where there are more voters and maybe more to vote for."

Republican Party wordsmith and propaganda agent David Frum has a more serious critique to offer. He thinks the whole tawdy episode is a reflection on the poor managerial qualities of his ex-boss, the man who, pre-9/11 when he became the "War President,"  fancied himself the "CEO-President:
That early team was recruited with one paramount consideration in mind: loyalty. Theoretically, it should be possible to combine loyalty with talent. But that did not happen often with the Bush team.

Bush demanded a very personal kind of loyalty, a loyalty not to a cause or an idea, but to him and his own career. Perhaps unconsciously, he tested that loyalty with constant petty teasing, sometimes verging on the demeaning. (Robert Draper, whose book Dead Certain offers a vivid picture of the pre-presidential Bush, tells the story of a 1999 campaign-strategy meeting at which Bush shut Karl Rove up by ordering him to “hang up my jacket.” The room fell silent in shock-- but Rove did it.)

These little abuses would often be followed by unexpected acts of thoughtfulness and generosity. Yet the combination of the demand for personal loyalty, the bullying and the ensuing compensatory love-bombing was to weed out strong personalities and to build an inner circle defined by a willingness to accept absolute subordination to the fluctuating needs of a tense, irascible and unpredictable chief.

Had Bush been a more active manager, these subordinated personalities might have done him less harm. But after choosing people he could dominate, he then delegated them enormous power. He created a closed loop in which the people entrusted with the most responsibility were precisely those who most dreaded responsibility-- Condoleezza Rice being the most important and most damaging example.

Yet as the proverb warns us, even worms will turn.

...To recruit and hold strong personalities, a president must demand something more than personal loyalty. He must offer a compelling vision and ideal-- a cause that people can serve without feeling servile. Otherwise a president will only get… what Bush has now got.

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Blue America Endorses Judy Feder In Virginia


Today our special Blue America guest is Judy Feder from northernmost Virginia-- from McLean out past Winchester-- who is running against 14-term backbencher Frank Wolf. Judy is one of the more articulate of our candidates and I'll be happy to let her speak for herself at our 2pm (EST) live blog session with her today at Firedoglake, while I tell you a little something about Congressman Wolf.

Like almost all Republicans-- especially the ones in districts that have changed from red to purple-- Wolf is now claiming to be a "moderate" and an "independent voice." (The district used to be a GOP bastion and in 2001 Mark Warner lost VA-10 by 9 points while winning the governorship. Four years later Tim Kaine won by 4 points; quite the swing. And in 2006 Jim Webb defeated incumbent wingnut George Allen here, giving him his margin of victory. Two months ago The Economist did an excellent account of the district and why, like much of exurban America, it is no longer a GOP Bastion.) But let's take a look at how Wolf's definition of "moderate" (which, of course, is re-inforced by a lazy corporate media) stacks up against reality. Let's take an issue that has been in the headlines lately... Iraq. Since the October 10, 2002 Resolution Authorizing the Use of Force in Iraq, which Wolf enthusiastically voted for, there have been 63 roll calls regarding Iraq and, to his credit, Wolf hasn't missed a single vote. Unfortunately Mr. Moderate Independent Voice voted all 63 times with Bush and Cheney. You may find that startling; it defines an utter and contemptible rubber stamp, not a moderate and not an independent voice.

And lest you think Wolf is just a McCain-like warmonger but challenges Bush on other items on the Regime's toxic agenda, let's look at another issue that's been in the news lately: the welfare of our country's military veterans. Virginia's much-admired junior senator, Jim Webb co-sponsored a bipartisan bill that passed both houses of Congress overwhelmingly, 256-166 in the House. It updates the GI Bill, giving Iraq and Afghanistan veterans a chance to get a higher education. Wolf was one of the die-hard extremists to vote against it. But he is consistent. Since late 2002, there have been 24 roll calls regarding the well-being of our vets. Wolf voted against their well being all 24 times. He says he supports the troops but he means he supports the corporate war profiteers and, of course, George W. Bush. He voted in favor of torture, in favor of retroactive immunity and wireless wiretaps, for a constitutional amendment to ban abortion (even though the district supports Choice by a wide margin) and against the relief bill for victims of predatory lenders in the mortgage crisis that is even more acute in VA-10 than in much of the country.

After the Republicans lost the far redder Mississippi district a few weeks ago, Wolf's congressional neighbor, Tom Davis, who is wisely retiring of his own accord, sent a now famous "dog-food" memo about the Republican brand to all his colleagues. He cited the district right next door to his own, VA-10, as a seat that is in jeopardy due to a toxic political environment for Republicans. The Democrats could hardly have found a better candidate to take advantage of this situation.

First off, people in the district know Judy well, mostly because she ran in 2006, holding Wolf to a 57% win, his closest call since his freshman year in 1982. She has been building on that base for the past year and a half. "This is a district," she told me on the phone a couple of days ago, "that is really ready for change. They want new leadership in Congress. After 27 years Frank Wolf is clearly not representing them and they know I will. On issues important to the district, like affordable healthcare, Frank Wolf is either not engaged-- or standing in the way."

As a congresswoman, Judy neither of those descriptions will fit Judy. A nationally recognized expert in health care policy, Judy did a guest post for DownWithTyranny on the subject a couple of months ago. From her campaign bio:
Judy Feder's three decades of health policy experience will make her an invaluable leader in transforming how Washington does business. She began her career researching ways to make health care more affordable. A widely published scholar, Judy worked at the Brookings Institution and Urban Institute before joining the faculty of Georgetown University in 1984.

In 1988 she served as Staff Director of the Congressional Pepper Commission, the bipartisan commission on comprehensive health care. In 1993, she was appointed to the Department of Health and Human Services, where she worked to expand health insurance coverage, manage Medicare and Medicaid effectively, and assure the safety of food and drugs.

Judy is a professor and, from 1999 through 2007, was Dean of Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute. Her combination of scholarship and government experience have made the institute one of the nation's most respected training grounds for public policy leaders. Her graduates are tackling the nation's most complicated policy challenges-- from health reform in the Congress to military intelligence in the Pentagon.

I hope you'll stick around and get to know Judy a bit. She'll be with us for a couple of hours answering questions about the campaign. If you'd like to donate to her campaign, you can do it at our Blue America page. Please keep in mind that this weekend brings to a close our contest with Air America and if you add one cent to your donation to Judy-- and for any candidates you like-- they will be a step closer to winning the Air America check. [UPDATE: Crooks & Liars has a brand new Blue America video from Judy. Swing by.]

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After Scotty: The Tom Brokaws of the world ask, How could we have known?, while the Bush kooks crawl out of the woodwork to denounce the traitor


"Regardless of whether McClellan is right about [the media] not pushing back hard enough or even, as my friend thereisnospoon says, what they reported after he stonewalled them (although it is an excellent point) . . . there are still so many abuses and lies and stories that they should be reporting on and are not."
-- clammyc, in his Daily Kos diary yesterday,
"While 'defending its honor,' MSM still dropping the ball"

"There's the loyalty trade-off for you: On the one hand, [Bernie] Kerik did a terrible job in a critical assignment in Iraq, allowed himself to be nominated to a hugely important post for which he was ill qualified and showed a stupendous lack of interest in ethical considerations when he served in New York City.

"On the plus side, he will never, ever write a tell-all memoir about any of the great men he has served."

"While the bracing effects of being pushed out of his job have helped [Scott] McClellan face reality, clarity might have come earlier if he'd just been more canny about personal relationships. His White House career could have been so different if, when Bush started babbling about W.M.D.'s in Iraq, McClellan reminded himself that this was coming from a guy who couldn't remember what drugs he had ingested."

-- Gail Collins, in her NYT column today, "What George Forgot"

It occurs to me that I may have been underestimating what poor Scotty McClellan's revelations have to tell us.

Oh, not poor Scotty's revelations themselves. I'm thinking of the reaction to them, in particular among the two groups who feel most challenged by poor Scotty's shocking revelation of, well, stuff we've known for some time now.


Even some of the media mensches who actually got the story right are up in arms about poor Scotty pointing a pudgy finger at them. How dare he? they seem to be asking. Why, why (note how they're reduced to spluttering), by his own admission, he just stood up there and lied to us!

Is it really necessary to explain how fatuous this is? Of course the Bush regime's relentless propagandizing and lying made the media pigeons' job harder. But wasn't it still their job to get at the truth? There were lots of media people who weren't fooled, and who tried to do honest reporting -- and a bunch of them did a splendid job. Of course nobody paid any attention to them, in large part because the fat and lazy big-time media, with their suspicious big-corporate ties, tanked on the job.

But even within those organizations, I think it's safe to say there were people who knew better. I have no inside sources at the New York Times, but I know enough about the organization to venture with confidence that inside the Times building there were a lot of reporters and surely lower-level editors as well (we saw the way it worked in the last season of The Wire) screaming bloody murder about, for example, how Judy Miller had become a shill for the Bush regime.

The depressing thing is that the infotainment media don't seem to have learned a bloody thing. NBC's Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams put their heads together, combining their two generations and years beyond counting (albeit mostly wasted years) of Nightly News managing-editor experience to figure out whether "the right questions were asked, the right tone was employed and should it be viewed in the context to that time?" (That's Brian doing the asking.)

And here's the wisdom of Graybeard Tom:
Look, I think all of us would like to go back and ask questions with the benefit of hindsight of what we know now, but a lot of what was going on was unknowable.

Except, of course, that lots of people knew, and were jumping up and down trying to get the attention of the stonewalling infotainmenteers. "Well," as our pal John Amato notes on Crooks and Liars, "he should have watched Bill Moyers special on the media as a refresher course."

Meanwhile, as our friend clammyc pointed out yesterday in the terrific Daily Kos diary from which I've quoted at the top, those media slugs are providing essentially the same caliber of performance now that they did back then (I should warn that I haven't attempted to reproduce the scads of links embedded in the text -- you can check them out on Daily Kos):

While "defending its honor", MSM still dropping the ball
by clammyc

For starters, I only use "MSM" in the title because "corporate media" or "infotainment media" wouldn’t fit. That being said, the sad irony of the press corps which once again shows how out of touch the village idiots are with reality is that, despite all of the huffing and puffing about how Scott McClellan wouldn’t let them do their jobs, they still are falling flat on their faces at every turn.

I’d use the term jumped the shark (hyperlinked for those who don’t know what it means) to describe them and their role in the whole "reporting the news and professional journalism" thing that they clearly have long given up but I think the term "jump the shark" has kind of jumped the shark...

When news reporters say that their corporate bosses pushed them to take out their "America, Fuck YEAH!!!" pom poms, that is bad enough. But when the same reporter complains about how unfair McClellan was being to criticize them was not only the same one to share a stage with traitor Rove in one of the most eye-burning dances ever and is STILL, to this day the NBC News Chief White House Correspondent, and is not doing the job that McClellan accused him of not doing, well, sorry, I have no sympathies there.

And when someone like Tom Brokaw is shocked, SHOCKED, that his profession were either dumb or complicit or unfit to do the jobs they are supposed to do, it is time to not only call him on this, but to push back forcefully.

When Brokaw says that "all wars are based on propaganda", he misses the point. Propaganda means the spreading of ideas or rumor to further your cause or to damage an opposing cause. This was not propaganda. It was lies.


Hell, even Speaker Pelosi calls it a lie, although that apparently is still not grounds for impeachment.

What makes this worse, and what all of the whiny whiners are missing is that regardless of whether McClellan is right about them not pushing back hard enough or even, as my friend thereisnospoon says, what they reported after he stonewalled them (although it is an excellent point), is that there are still so many abuses and lies and stories that they should be reporting on and are not.

Where to even begin here? Even equating McCain’s total cluelessness about the troop levels and the violence in mosul with Obama’s minor "gaffe" (if it can even be called a gaffe) about a personal story that happened to be accurate in every meaningful way is a great disservice to what Americans should know when judging who should be their next President. Or the way that the Wright/Hagee/Parsley stories were reported -- if they should even have been covered at all in the first place.

And it doesn’t stop there, of course. There are real serious things -- things that should be covered and reported to the American people that we deserve to know about. Things that are imperative -- things that are both accurate but ignored and things that are inaccurate yet covered non-stop as if they were gospel.

Things like the number of troops that are committing suicide and have PTSD. Things like telecom immunity really being about protecting Bush and his illegal programs. Things like the GAO report that shows how unprepared we are to deal with the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan. Things like the Pentagon propaganda campaign. Things like FISA. Things like fake "evidence" that overblows the threat that Iran is to the United States (or Israel for that matter). Things like the continued devastation in the Gulf Coast, almost three years later.

Things like Rove and Miers ignoring Congressional subpoenas for no good reason. Things like the hundreds of thousands of disenfranchised voters from voter ID anti-voter laws and other voter suppression tactics. Things like the same voting machines that were unreliable in 2002, 2004 and 2006 are still being used, despite many not being certified. Things like asking what exactly happened to the millions of dollars in cash that were "lost" in Iraq. Things like why the US was arming both sides of a civil war in Iraq, or exactly what the role of our troops is or the desired end game is in Iraq or the reason we should still be spending billions of dollars every month there.

So many more things. Even things like why Cindy McCain gets a pass when Teresa Heinz Kerry didn’t. Or why McCain still calls himself a "straight talker" when he is either lying, stupid or just losing it. And even bringing it back to McClellan’s bubble bursting smack in their faces, why they STILL aren’t saying that they were lied to.

All the handwringing and finger pointing and blame gaming in the world won’t change the fact that McClellan passed along (either willfully or not) lies and they were not challenged or questioned at the time. And nothing will change the fact that the independence and integrity of those who are in the corporate media were sacrificed to become "buddy buddy" with the very people that lied and destroyed national security secrets and pissed all over the Constitution and made them out for the damn fools that they proved to be.

Regardless of whether it was their choice or the choice of their corporate puppetmasters bosses.

But instead of this "woe is me" nonsense, how about a bit of reflection and actually using it as a learning experience. There is so much that needs to be reported, so much that needs exposing, so much that a bit of research can lead to a huge story that the American public will be interested in.

The sad thing is that instead of doing the job that McClellan said you didn’t do a few years ago, you choose to keep crying that it just isn’t fair.


Here's where it gets hilarious. Presumably on the old theory that there's honor among thieves, the most astonishing people are crawling out of the woodwork. Mary Matalin? Bob Dole? And . . . and . . . Bernie Kerik???

When we venture into the land of the kooks, there's no better tour guide than the Times's Gail Collins:

Op-Ed Columnist
What George Forgot

"DISLOYAL, SICKENING AND DESPICABLE DISLOYAL, SICKENING AND DESPICABLE," wrote Bernard Kerik in an e-mail that he was circulating around this week. Kerik, you may remember, was the former New York City police commissioner who George W. Bush once tried to make chief of Homeland Security. This was during Kerik's happier, preindictment era.

Kerik's outrage was directed at Scott McClellan, the former Bush press secretary whose much-discussed memoir, "What Happened," reveals that the Bush White House put politics ahead of truth and openness with the American people.

I know it's a shock, but try to be brave.

The administration's defenders have not really attacked the book's thesis -- really, what could you say? But they've been frothing at the mouth over McClellan's lack of loyalty. "This will stand as the epitome, the ultimate breach of that code of honor," said Mary Matalin.

We've heard a lot about loyalty this year. Remember when Bill Richardson endorsed Barack Obama and James Carville compared Richardson to Judas Iscariot? And the whole Jeremiah Wright drama was mainly about Obama's coming to grips with the sad fact that presidents do not have the luxury of being loyal to anybody outside of their immediate gene pool.

"Having been through all I have been through in the past four years, disloyalty and betrayal seem more prevalent today than ever before in my lifetime, and that in itself, to me, is sickening," Kerik wrote in his e-mail, which also suggested that writing unflattering memoirs about working for the president "should be a crime."

Currently under indictment for multiple counts of fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion, Kerik is not, at this point, a person the administration calls upon when it wants to be defended. But he is a perfect example of what a worthless quality loyalty is in high government officials.

Kerik is stupendously loyal, which is what endeared him to Rudy Giuliani, his great patron. The Bush administration, which also prizes loyalty, shipped him off to Iraq with the critical job of supervising the rebuilding of the Iraqi police. Kerik stayed only three months, during which he devoted himself to giving interviews and being gregarious, the two things he does very well. Management, however, turned out not to be a strong point.

Back home, Bush was embarrassed when Kerik's Homeland Security nomination immediately ran aground on reports of his ethics issues. His downfall was a terrible blow to Giuliani's presidential candidacy -- although given Rudy's multitudinous deficiencies as presidential timber, it's hard to pick the one that made the difference.

Anyway, there's the loyalty trade-off for you: On the one hand, Kerik did a terrible job in a critical assignment in Iraq, allowed himself to be nominated to a hugely important post for which he was ill qualified and showed a stupendous lack of interest in ethical considerations when he served in New York City.

On the plus side, he will never, ever write a tell-all memoir about any of the great men he has served.

Whoever the next president is, I hope he-she picks incredibly well-qualified people who are strong enough to speak their minds and cynical enough not to assume the chief executive knows what he-she is doing. Loyalty does not tend to be a great virtue in these types, and the goal should be to wring as much accomplishment as possible out of them before the inevitable betrayal.

My favorite moment in "What Happened" was from 1999 when George W. Bush was deeply irritated about questions from the press on his past drug use. "The media won't let go of these ridiculous cocaine rumors," the future president said. "You know, the truth is I honestly don't remember whether I tried it or not."

"I remember thinking to myself, How can that be? It didn't make a lot of sense," McClellan wrote.

While the bracing effects of being pushed out of his job have helped McClellan face reality, clarity might have come earlier if he'd just been more canny about personal relationships. His White House career could have been so different if, when Bush started babbling about W.M.D.'s in Iraq, McClellan reminded himself that this was coming from a guy who couldn't remember what drugs he had ingested.

Even now, McClellan still appears to have trouble with the critical concept that deeds matter more than words.

"Waging an unnecessary war is a grave mistake," he writes. "But in reflecting on all that happened during the Bush administration, I've come to believe that an even more fundamental mistake was made -- a decision to turn away from candor and honesty when those qualities were most needed."

Personally, I'm a huge fan of candor and honesty. But when it comes to fundamental mistakes, I'll start with the unnecessary war.

Man, you can't make this stuff up. Sometimes I wish you could, but when it comes to these people, trust me, you really can't.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Tonight's Video


It's been a tough day, especially for women priests. The monks in Myanmar have stepped up to the plate where the fascist junta has failed. I hope this doesn't make it tougher for anyone:

How Big A Let Down Have The Democrats Been?


Well... alas, pretty big. In the new issue of Rolling Stone Tim Dickinson takes on the Democratic Senate leadership. Below I want to talk anecdotally about some Democratic Party letdowns but first take a look at what ex-Democrat/current independent candidate for Congress, Steve Porter has to say and let's look at some of Dickinson's most salient points. He points out what a shill NY reptile Chuck Schumer has been for crooked billionaire Wall Street operators, "championing one of the biggest tax breaks for billionaires in the history of the republic [as] Democrats in the House fought to close a loophole that levies a tax rate of only 15 percent... on hedge-fund managers who make as much as $3.7 billion a year. But when the debate reached the Senate, Schumer broke with his fellow Democrats and sided with Wall Street-- inspiring the hedge-fund industry to hail him as its 'guardian.'"

Another New York member of Congress, seems to be criticizing Schumer and other Insider Democrats who serve the interests of a very generous plutocracy (generous to their career aspirations that is): Rep. Charles Rangel, who led the hedge-fund tax in the House: "America's middle class have been forgotten. It seems that those with the money have the power." And Harry Reid is backing Schumer and the hedge fund crooks up. Why? They are financing the DSCC, the same way other equally corrupt corporate special interests have financed the NRSC and Bush and the GOP. With power-hungry sleazebags like Schumer (or McConnell for that matter, a kind of Schumer doppelganger in many horrifying ways) in charge do you think effective campaign finance regulations-- taking the billions of dollars pumped into our political system by special interests eager for special consideration-- will ever be enacted? There's only one answer and it has two letters and the first is "no."
According to campaign-finance records, seven of the country's 10 richest hedge-fund managers contributed an average of $24,400 to the DSCC last year. "Schumer didn't want to turn the spigot off," says Bob McIntyre, director of the nonpartisan Citizens for Tax Justice. All told, the hedge-fund and private-equity sectors have showered the Democrats with more than $14 million this year-- double what they have given Republicans.

As the hedge-fund fiasco demonstrates, Democrats have turned the Senate into the chamber where good legislation goes to die. Since regaining the majority in 2006, the Democrats have granted the Bush administration and big telephone companies immunity for illegal wiretapping, declared a branch of the Iranian military a terrorist organization and stuffed the recent Foreclosure Prevention Act with far more goodies for big lenders than for struggling homeowners [$25 billion in corporate welfare-- including, outrageously, billions in tax breaks to speculative home builders who helped create the disastrous housing bubble in the first place-- and only $9 billion for struggling homeowners]. They also confirmed Attorney General Michael Mukasey despite his refusal to disavow torture-- a move engineered by Schumer. "You really want to like the Democrats," says Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "Then they go and do shit like this."

...The bitter truth in the Senate is that it's not Republicans who are betraying the Democratic agenda-- it's Democrats themselves. "It's not the Congress that's ineffective," says Rangel. "It's not the promises that Nancy Pelosi made. We have passed the courageous bills — but for what? To be told what's 'acceptable' by the Senate." These days, he adds bitterly, "We don't need no House of Representatives. All we need to do is go over and ask the Senate, 'What have you Democrats and Republicans agreed to?'"

But the problem with the Insider Democrats who think they know better than the grassroots isn't just about Harry Reid and the NY Reptile-- and it isn't even only about Republican-lite Blue Dogs conspiring with the GOP to thwart a progressive agenda. House Democrats are always whining that it's the Blue Dogs who hold them back and there is a modicum of truth in that. But then how do you explain the fact that the House Democrats consistently break their own rules to prevent real Democrats from being nominated by throwing DCCC support behind Blue Dogs? Oh, they stopped doing that when Emanuel moved upstairs, you say? Well, Chris Van Hollen promised they would-- but they haven't.

Just yesterday the DCCC violated it's own rules by following John Boehner, Tom Cole and the NRCC down an old Stalinist model for candidate selection, backing a clueless Insider stooge, Ann Kirkpatrick in AZ-01 over a grassroots progressive, Howard Shanker. This thoroughly anti-democratic, old Communist regime way of doing things is working out really badly, even catastrophically, for the Republicans... so why would Van Hollen blunder into it, just when everything has been going so well?

A disgruntled Democrat from Flagstaff, on the DCCC's own website wants to know too:
Why does the DCCC pick before the people of the democratic party?

First you quietly pad Ann Kirkpatrick’s coffers, and then you call her the candidate to beat and offer public support. And all this before the primary. If you @$$holes would stop trying to force a candidate down our throats then we would have turned CD1 blue years ago.

Your “anointed” candidate (which you always seem to choose before the primaries) has lost in the last four elections.

Ever thought of playing fair with your own people before? It might work. Either wait till after the primary to back someone, or give a little bit to everyone who brings in enough petition signatures when qualifying.
And personally, I would set the bar higher than the measly 2500 signatures Ann K. brought in.

In fact all the comments on the DCCC site oppose Van Hollen's decision to morph into an unpleasant combination of Rahm Emanuel, John Boehner and Stalin. Another Arizona commenter: "This is pretty simple: Kirkpatrick is not the strongest democrat in the race. I wish folks at the DCCC had seen a debate or two between Kirkpatrick and Howard Shanker-- there’s no contest here. People on the ground in CD1 know that, but people out in DC don’t. This race is Shanker’s to lose, and all the top-down pressure from the Governor and the DCCC isn’t going to change much. Except maybe increase democrats’ frustration with the party." And another: "Yet another lame election year where the party decides who we should vote for even before we vote. Rick Renzi must have enjoyed having the DCCC in his corner for all those years. He would have faced some stiff competition if you actually took the time to see what the Democrat voters of DC1 wanted. Nobody likes being told who to vote for. Ann Kirkpatrick would make a T-shirt illegal if she does not like what it says. I guess she fits well in the DCC’s 'we’ll think for you' approach to politics."

Please think about that the next time the DCCC send you an e-mail begging for money to elect more Democrats-- never BETTER Democrats, always more Democrats, more Democrats to vote exactly how their Republican opponents would have voted on the issues that matter most.

And it isn't only the Inside the Beltway insiders who are systematically betraying the grassroots. A couple weeks ago former grassroots hero-- though never someone him trusted for 2 seconds-- Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia endorsed a corrupt reactionary, Gerry Connolly, for Congress, over Leslie Byrne, the grassroots progressive. Only 18% of Kaine's own base, Raising Kaine, agreed with his decision; 65% disapproved. (Fortunately, Jim Webb endorsed Leslie-- as did Blue America.

But I'm not just complaining because Leslie is a Blue America candidate. Out in southern New Mexico's sprawling second CD, Blue America hasn't endorsed any candidate, although we have noted that nearly 800 people have gone to ActBlue to donate to the progressive grassroots candidate, Bill McCamley, while only 2 people have donated to Harry Teague. It doesn't matter to Teague, a multimillionaire oilman, who is self-funding. Teague was just endorsed by Governor Bill Richardson, who everyone loves because he endorsed Obama. Predictably Teague is a huge Hillary supporter and has donated tens of thousands of dollars to politicians-- from both parties-- and immense amounts to... Bill Richardson. In fact, Richardson for President, Inc. owes Harry Teague's company-- Lea King LLC-- $203,850.70 for the use of Harry's private jet during the campaign. This currently comprises 64% of his campaign debt. Since the end of February Governor Richardson's Campaign has paid off $103,354.41 or 24.5% of his debt. Not a single penny had been paid to Lea King. (Under FEC regulations a vendor like Lea King may forgive debts owed by a committee if the debt was incurred in the normal course of business, the committee “undertook all reasonable efforts” to raise the funds, and the vendor made “the same efforts to collect the debt as those made to a non-political debtor." It doesn't mention endorsements.) On top of that, Teague's company, Teaco Energy, and its employees have bundled over $30,000 in campaign contributions for Richardson and some of that money may have been provided to the "donors" from Teague himself like a $4,600 contribution from an office assistant; that's illegal.

Democrats want our political leaders to act like Democrats, not like Republicans-- whether it's Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, Chris Van Hollen, Rahm Emanuel, Bill Richardson or Tim Kaine. Grassroots Democrats should stop funding the DSCC and DCCC and donate directly to the candidates who they know they can trust. You can count on the Blue America candidates to support the people's interests, not the special interests and party bosses. Should you decide to donate to Leslie Byrne or Howard Shanker or any other of our progressive, grassroots canddiates today, please remember to add one cent to your donation so it counts as a vote in the Air America contest, which ends Monday morning at 6am, PT.

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The job of reclaiming the Justice Dept. from the Bush regime's wrecking ball is too big and too important to wait for a Democratic administration


As wacky as any of the other Federalist Society
wackos: Chief Justice John Roberts

On the one hand, you could argue that the executive-power-grabbing megalomaniacs of the Bush regime, while undeniably ruthless and insatiable in their lust for power, are in the end clueless morons. Because what happens if they actually succeed in overturning the Constitution and piling up all the power of the federal government in the executive branch -- and then have to turn all that power over to a Democrat when the country turns them out of office?

The other hand would be, I guess, that they don't worry because: (a) they don't believe any Democrat would dare try to assert the powers they've gathered unto themselves, which are actually for use only by far-right-wing Republican presidents, and (b) in any case they're prepared to turn on a dime and argue with equal ferocity and ruthlessness that for a Democratic president even so bold an act as drawing a breath would represent an intolerable usurpation of constitutional authority.

After all, we're not talking about people who are known for either rationality or consistency. They're only about getting their way, and I've got a feeling the day Chimpy the Prez ends his eight-year illegal squat in the White House, that will be the last we hear about the mystical -- and wholly mythical -- Unitary Executive, the all-powerful executive branch, until the next time wingnuts feel the Oval Office is again within reach of their beady clutches.

"Unitary Executive" -- or don't the wingnut law-mongers call it "the Doctrine of the Unitary Executive"? The better to make it sound as if there actually is such a thing. A "doctrine" indeed! Except that there is no such thing, not in or in any way connected to the Constitution. It's just a sick fantasy made up by dangerously psychopathic right-wingers, an authoritarian melange of bogus constitutionalese, gobbledygook, and garden-variety megalomania. What it seems to come down to is that these people for whatever reasons would like to recontour the model of government outlined in the Constitution to something closer to what you can find in Mein Kampf, with a president who's more or less interchangeable with the Reichsfuehrer of the Third Reich.

Apparently this is the sort of thing that passes for serious legal philosophy among the increasingly influential membership roster of the loony-tunes Federalist Society, which under the Bush regime has become, appallingly, a breeding ground not only for federal judges at the district and appellate levels, but for the Supreme Court itself.

I can't help feeling that most of this legal insanity is being let loose on the land because growing numbers of terminally repressed men have no safer or saner outline for all those raging hormones. In other words, the Republic has been put in peril because all these closet cases -- hetero as well as homo, they seem equally ashamed of and self-loathing over their sexual impulses -- need to be reintroduced to their trusty right (or left, as the case may be) hand?

Well, to judge just by Dick Cheney, he apparently doesn't get enough reinforcement of his manhood from hunting. Probably not enough, you know, release -- at least not of the kind he needs, not to be confused with the kind that puts his victims in the hospital.

Which brings me back to the U.S. attorney scandal. (Oh, you didn't realize that's what this was about?) For me, one of the greatest outrages of the Bush regime has been the systematic polliticization of the Justice Department, and one of my most agonized sources of frustration has been the inability to make this the raging issue it should be to ordinary voters -- why they should care, for example that U.S. attorneys, the legal point men who supervise the cadres of federal prosecutors in their districts, who oversee the administration of federal law, apparently have been transformed into bone-cracking enforcers, not prosecutors of the law but persecutors of the regime's political enemies. (And from what statistics we've been able to see, the Bush U.S. attorneys have gotten the message that their job is to prosecute almost exclusively Democrats.)

It's not an easy concept to define, this "rule of law" that we know instinctively is one of the fundamental components of our freedom. But it's pathetically easy to establish that when enforcement of the law is based, not on the fairest and most uniform possible application of law, but on the wishes of the people who control the legal system, you the rule of law is kaput.

No thanks to the regime's customary penchant for secrecy, we know by now that the wholesale firing of U.S. attorneys was pure and simple a political purge, and that it was moderated only by the realization that too flagrant a sweep of the "undesirables" among the USAs would draw the public attention that the firing program managed for so long to escape. But from what has been revealed, we have abundant indications that the only considerations according to which USAs were put on (or, rarely, taken off) the famous List were political.

And as many people have pointed out, the only thing scarier than the thought of purging competent USAs for insufficiently zealous political partisanship is the thought of what the un-purged ones did to keep their jobs. There are probably some honest and competent USAs who escaped the vengeance of (as best we can tell) Karl Rove, and if I were one of them, I would be as outraged as the good men and women who were improperly fired, because surviving the purge should be a mark of shame.

Oh, there are hardy warriors who haven't given up the fight, including watchdog groups like CREW and Judicial Watch. And the House Judiciary Committee is still trying to enforce its subpoenas of former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten to probe the firing process.

Yesterday the AP reported that "twenty former U.S. attorneys from both political parties sided with Congress and asked a federal judge on Thursday to settle a subpoena fight with the White House."

Ex-prosecutors side with Congress in subpoena case


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Twenty former U.S. attorneys from both political parties sided with Congress and asked a federal judge on Thursday to settle a subpoena fight with the White House.

The former prosecutors filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a lawsuit over whether Congress can demand documents and testimony from President Bush's closest aides.

The House Judiciary Committee wants to know whether some U.S. attorneys were fired for political reasons, an issue that helped lead to the resignation of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The White House says the president's former counsel Harriet Miers and chief of chief of staff Josh Bolten do not need to comply with the subpoenas, citing executive privilege, the principle that one branch of government can't make another branch do something.

Congress wants a judge to settle the issue but the Bush administration says the courts should not wade into a political dispute.

The list of former U.S. attorneys who filed the documents in U.S. District Court includes David C. Iglesias, who says he was fired as New Mexico's top prosecutor for political reasons. The prosecutors said that, without congressional oversight, presidents would be free to meddle in prosecutorial decisions.

"If permitted to enforce its subpoenas for documents and testimony, Congress has a unique ability to address improper partisan influence in the prosecutorial process," the former prosecutors wrote. "No other institution will fill the vacuum if Congress is unable to investigate and respond to this evil."

The prosecutors who signed on to the document are: Steve Sachs, who was appointed by President Johnson; George Beall, an appointee of President Nixon; Roxanne Conlin, James K. Robinson, Atlee W. Wampler III and Edward G. Warin, appointees of President Carter; Leon Kellner, Dan K. Webb and J. Alan Johnson, who were appointed by President Reagan; William Braniff, an appointee of the first President Bush; Zach Carter, Edward L. Dowd, B. Todd Jones, Doug Jones, Donald K. Stern, Sheldon Whitehouse and Alan Bersin, who were appointed by President Clinton; Bush appointees Iglesias and Matthew D. Orwig, and Richard Rossman, who was appointed by the court in 1980.

Four watchdog groups filed their own court papers Thursday also siding with Congress. Conservative groups Judicial Watch and the Rutherford Institute joined the Brennan Center for Justice and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, both liberal groups.

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Say, gang, don't you miss the days of daily Larry "Wide Stance" Craig jokes? Well, he's back, sort of, and it's Make Up Your Own Punchline Day at DWT!


"Retirement for me will probably be not quite retirement. I certainly plan to stay busy."
--Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), in an interview with Idaho station KTVB

Of course it's a bit unfair to refer to the senator being "back," since he never really went away, as much as a lot of his colleagues hoped desperately he would. But you remember the good old days, right? When every day brought what I once referred to in a DWT head as "another round of childish, tasteless Larry Craig-being-gay jokes" -- to which we were always happy to contribute our share. That was the day, actually, that I pictured the senator "Celebrating a Quarter-Century of People Gossiping About Me Being Gay (1982-2007)."

Maybe that quarter-century of denying that he's gay has gone to our Larry's head. Anyway, something seems to have. You have to wonder, does he listen to the stuff that comes out of his mouth?

"I certainly plan to stay busy"???

Okay, girls and boys, if that's the way the man wants to play this, he's fair game, don't you think? Let's get those punchlines rolling.

Actually, his impending busy-ness isn't the big news that Senator Larry is sharing. No, the big news, courtesy of the Washington Post's Ben Pershing in a "Capitol Briefing" blog entry last night, is that our Larry is (drum roll) writing a book!

"There'll be a bit of what happened in the last year and the way it evolved," Craig said in the interview. "I think that's important for Idaho and those outside Idaho [who] are interested to know."

While he's at it, Craig plans to address "the state of politics in Washington today and across America" and the "dysfunctional and hyperpartisan Senate" he will soon be leaving. (Follow-up questions that weren't asked: If the Senate is so awful, why didn't he resign when the scandal broke and his colleagues were practically begging him to quit? Why stick around for another year?)

The book is due out "around the middle of 2009," and while Ben suggests that he "make sure his book tour doesn't include a stop in Minneapolis," I say the tour should kick off right there where it all started, in the Minneapolis airport! Seat Senator Larry on the throne in the very stall, and have the line of book signees snake out the men's-room door into the corridor.

All in all, things seem to have worked out okay for the senator, don't you think? After all, it wasn't that long ago that, if he was known at all, it was for (1) that humiliating business of being one of the four Singing Senators and/or (2) being just another extreme-right-wing loon. Publishers don't often hand out book contracts for those, er, accomplishments.

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What Does McCain Accomplish On All Those Trips To The Green Zone?


John McCain has been bashing and berating Barack Obama for not skipping over to Iraq and making any of those showy photo-ops like he and Lieberman and their South Carolina rug-buying Mini-Me do. McCain has only gone to Iraq for one reason: to distort the situation on the ground in the eyes of Americans... strolling around a Baghdad market with a regiment of heavily armed guards and two helicopter gunships hovering above while he smiles and says, "See how safe it is?" (And while Lindsey Graham scurries around looking for bargains in the carpet shops of distressed merchants.)

McCain's trips to Iraq have cost the taxpayers many millions of dollars and have distracted and endangered our troops serving there. And to what end? So he could pose and preen as some kind of a diplomat? So he could trample on Pentagon rules and use the military for backdrops in his political advertising (something he refuses to stop doing)? So he could give the folks back home a false picture of how well it is all going there? And from the very beginning of the Bush Regime propaganda war against the American people, McCain was a very key player. Yesterday CNN's man in Baghdad, Michael Ware, pointed out how divorced from reality politicians like McCain, Lieberman and Mini-Me are when they drop in for their little propaganda visits.

Now that another key Regime insider, Scott McClellan, has come clean and ratted out the liars and manipulators in the Regime, we have to ask ourselves why we would even consider taking seriously a bid for leadership by a pathetic hack and warmonger like McCain who has been both wrong and deceptive about Iraq from day one... and every step of the way. McCain worked very hard to deceive the American people about Iraq. And he is still doing it:


Color me dumbfounded when I heard Senator McCranky pulling the old switcheroo on Senator Obama: going beyond pretending that his own schlepps to protective custody in Baghdad are anything other than sleazy photo ops to argue that Obama is somehow less qualified to be president because he doesn't engage in this astoundingly cynical exercise.

As Howie and his links point out above, the warmongers who make these detestable pilgrimages to tightly cocooned little safety zones in Iraq not only don't learn anything, they come away knowing less than when they started, because they've added so much additional misinformation to their headful. And of course each time one of the loons perpetrates one of these trips, not only are massive resources wasted on protecting them, but innocent people die. Apparently McCranky, like his soulmate Holy Joe Lieberman, places no limit on the amount of death and destruction he deems it necessary to unleash in order to pump up his puny, diseased ego.

I thought I was working up to a punchy joke about the rug-shopping Baby Bear of these merchants-of-death Three Bears, shopaholic Lindsey "Anything for a Bargain" Graham. But frankly the whole notion of pointing a finger of accusation at public officials who choose not to engage in this deadly form of cynical pandering sickens me too much for any attempt at humor.

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As poor Scotty talks to Keith, Richard Clarke reminds us that poor Scotty used to merrily dish out the abuse that's being heaped on him now


It was interesting last night seeing poor Scotty McClellan spend most of the Countdown hour with Keith Olbermann. (There's a complete transcript on the Countdown website.) The rest of the hour was filled out with an instructively complementary interview with onetime Nixon White House Counsel John Dean.

It was also interesting, later in the evening, to see counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke (flogging his new book, Your Government Failed You: Breaking the Cycle of National Security Disasters) with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show recalling how when he published his 2004 book Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, which accused the Bush administration of screwing up the anti-terrorism effort, he had been attacked with almost exactly the same talking points that McClellan is hearing now: disaffected former official, was totally out of the loop, never said those things while he was here, is just trying to sell books in an election year.

Of course back then Clarke heard the talking points from White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan.

I still don't hear much news in the "revelations" in poor Scotty's book, or for that matter in the interview. I think I got the circumstances pretty much right yesterday. The discovery that both Karl Rove and Scooter Libby had just plain lied to him when they told him unequivocally that they had not leaked Valerie Plame Wilson's CIA identity seems to have gotten the poor boy's attention like being thwacked over the head with a two-by-four. After that wake-up call, he began to see the people around him rather differently.

The poor sap had entered the service of George W. Bush believing him to be what he had pretended to be as governor of Texas: a bipartisan uniter who could bring people together. Of course he wasn't really that in Texas either, but it was still possible for simple souls -- or complex ones with devious agendas -- to believe it. That's who he thought he was following to Washington, and even after 9/11, he really believed in, and was inspired by, Chimpy the Prez's supposed plan to bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East, and any other damned place that got in his way.

I just don't think poor Scotty has much more to tell us about the Bush regime. Is he really telling us anything we didn't know about the regime's singleminded and ruthless pursuit of its vicious partisan agenda? The significance of his witness is that it comes from someone that close to the center of power.

John Dean also suspects that poor Scotty doesn't have much more to tell us, for the obvious reason that press secretaries really don't know very much about policy-making or the inner workings of an administration. In fact, the nature of the job dictates that the less they know, the more effectively they can sell what they do know to the media they service. The press secretary is briefed to know exactly what the administration wants him/her to pass on, and nothing more. This way he/she isn't put in the position of having to hide or lie about things he/she isn't supposed to talk about. (Conspicuously, when Keith tried to press the discussion beyond the few matters that have already been discussed, it usuallly turned out that it was an area poor Scotty had never been briefed on.)

Nevertheless, Dean agreed with Keith's suggestion that with the passage of time, Scotty may find that he has more to tell us. In his own case, once he had absorbed the beating he took from his former colleagues and friends over his congressional testimony laying bare some of the Nixon administration's grubbier secrets, he began to realize that other things he had witnessed and taken for granted might actually have larger significance.

The difference, of course, is that Dean as White House counsel really was often part of the policy-making (or at least policy-enforcing) apparatus. Poor Scotty was thought of and used as a tool. In that capacity he had the misfortune, as I suggested yesterday, of having a shred of decency that was both (a) absent from his regime predecessor and successors and (b) unsuspected by his regime overlords.


Just to be clear on this matter of White House press secretaries being basically out of the policy-making loop, it seems reasonable to assume that while this model applied to poor Scotty's dismal predecessor, Ari Fleischer, and to the incumbent, Dana Perino, it was probably not the case with poor Scotty's immediate successor, the unspeakable Tony Snow. I doubt that he would have taken the job under those conditions.

Snow brought conservative movement cred of his own to the job, and I suspect was permitted rare access and input for a press secretary. After all, since he had already established himself as one of the most accomplished liars and propagandists in the modern communications business, he could be trusted to bamboozle the docile White House press corps.

Even so, I doubt that our Tony would have lasted much longer in the job even without his health considerations. I suspect that the regime policy-makers were coming to find him a bad fit for the job. The last thing they needed or wanted was more opinions. They had all the opinions they needed, thank you very much.

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A Guest Post From Dr. Steve Porter: Is Nancy Pelosi Surprised By Anything In Scotty's Book?


In 2006 Dr. Porter was the progressive Democratic candidate in northwest Pennsylvania. Although he didn't win, he came close enough to deserve another shot at pathetic rubber stamp incumbent Phil English. But, like many Americans, he was frustrated and sickened by the lack of follow-through from the Democrats who did win. In fact, he was so frustrated and sickened that he quit the Democratic Party and is running for the seat as an independent. English is a contemptible rubber stamp for Bush and for the avaricious corporate interests who feed him. The "Democrat" in the race is an anti-choice reactionary with as little to offer towards tackling our country's problems as English. A victory in Erie for Dr. Porter with send an unmistakable message to both out of touch and imperious political parties. If he wins in November it will be the most significant message the grassroots could possibly send to Washington short of open revolt. I was curious about Dr. Porter's take on the brouhaha over Scott McClellan's new book. His point of view isn't what you're hearing from the corporate media. He shares it with us below:

Today’s outrage over Scott McClellan’s new book is misplaced. The Republicans are furious over McClellan’s revelations that Bush and his administration manipulated intelligence to lead us into war. Predictable but rather irrelevant. The press is all agog about asking McClellan to explain his revelations further. Again, predictable and irrelevant.

The real question ought to go to Nancy Pelosi, and it ought to be this: "In the light of McClellan’s book-- and several others like it-- why did you take impeachment investigations off the table two years ago when you became the Speaker of the House?"

That the Bush Administration has mangled our Constitution and led us into military and economic disaster is no longer the point. The tragedy equally appalling is that the Democrats, who came to power promising to hold Bush accountable, have done nothing in the last two years except to contribute to the deaths in Iraq and sit idly by while gas prices have risen and our jobs have continued to be exported.

Before the 2006 elections, the Democrats in Congress fairly salivated at the chance to hold impeachment hearings. In fact, senior Democratic Congressman John Conyers did hold them-- at least mock inquiries in the basement of the Capitol Building. On March 2, 2006, Conyers said this: “People think of Watergate or Iran-Contra as constituting crises… Today the crisis is substantively and systematically far worse. The alleged acts of wrong-doing-- lying about the decision to go to war; manipulation of intelligence; facilitating and countenancing torture; using confidential information to out a CIA agent; open and flagrant violation of wiretap laws-- are more egregious than any I have witnessed in my 41 years in Congress… We could simply ignore the myriad transgressions…or we could do everything in our power to call attention to and document these grave abuses…I opted for the latter."

But the day after the Democrats got control of both houses, Pelosi took impeachment "off the table," as she said. In other words, all the pre-election hullabaloo was just a ploy to gain political power. Pelosi and the Democrats had no intention of stopping the war and devoting their attention to the American economy. And they are counting on the voters in 2008 to turn to them for the “change” they have failed to deliver. Laughable.

I hope that the American people understand how corrupt both parties have been, and how poorly we have been led. Neither party deserves our support. They are both cut from the same cloth. Both are willing to play with our lives for power. Disgusting.

-by Dr. Steven Porter


Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL), a senior member of the Judiciary Committee and someone serious about impeaching Bush, would like to have McClellan testify under oath about some of the assertions in his book. The House Judiciary Committee is investigating the manipulation of prewar intelligence in the run up to Bush'a ttack on Iraq. So far all they have gotten from the Regime is a total lack of cooperation and a refusal by any of the potential war criminals to testify. The Regime's bogus claim of "executive privilege" would be moot in McClellan's case because he has already written about the issues the committee is looking into.
McClellan's new memoir, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception," is scheduled for publication Monday. In it he says the administration became mired in "propaganda" and political spin and played loose with the truth at times.

In his book, McClellan wrote that President Bush decided to go war with Iraq shortly after the September 11 attacks and then ordered his aides to make the arguments for it.

"I think very early on, a few months after September 11, he made a decision that we're going to confront Saddam Hussein, and if Hussein doesn't come fully clean, then we're going to go to war. There was really no flexibility in his approach," McClellan said on NBC's "Today" show Thursday, referring to the former Iraqi dictator. "Then it was put on the advisers: How do we go about implementing this; how do we go about doing this?"

Although it is expected that the Regime will somehow try to prevent him from testifying, McClellan said he would "be glad" to.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

McCain's Agenda Seems Incoherent and Inconsistent-- Just Like His Record


He has tried branding himself a maverick-- and he gets plenty of help from the corporate media lackeys-- but when you examine his record, you come away feeling he is more confused, incoherent and catering to conflicting special interests than he is anything approaching being either a moderate, independent or any kind of a maverick. I was reading some of Cliff Schecter's definitive McCain book, The Real McCain at lunch today and I came across his perpetually flip-flopping stands-- if you can call them stands-- on equal rights for gay people. Let me quote from Cliff's book, just after he explains McCain's confused and contradictory for and against gay marriage statement on Hardball in October of 2006. He seemed to be for gay marriage until one of his aides explained the power of broadcast TV and that he wasn't just talking to a small studio audience. Then he was against it.
The next month McCain was a guest on This Week With George Stephanopoulos. Stephanopoulos asked McCain whether he was against civil unions for gay couples. "No, I'm not," McCain replied. A few minutes later Stephanopoulos tried again. "So you're for civil unions?" "No," McCain said. Neither for nor against civil unions, McCain went on to clarify his position. He was against "discrimination" and he referred obliquely to certain partnerships qualifying for things like "hospital visits."

Fortunately, that year Arizona voters weren't fooled by McCain's flip-flopping and deception and they rejected the state constitutional amendment he campaigned for that would have denied even hospital visits to gay couples. But today it is neither gay marriage or hospital visits that is in the news. It's McCain's breathtaking changes and flips on climate change.

You may recall that it was just a week or two ago that McCain was using his position on climate change (he was strongly for policies that would combat the man-made elements of global warming) to point out to voters how different he is from George Bush. By yesterday one of his lobbyist staffers had persuaded him to change his opinion again-- ostensibly because the very generous (donation-wise) nuclear energy lobby is unhappy with the Lieberman-Warner bill McCain had vowed to support. Now he vows to avoid the Senate and not vote for it. Time Magazine:
Despite stressing the issue on the stump, McCain says he won’t be in the Senate to vote on a landmark bill imposing mandatory greenhouse gases limits.

“I have not been there for a number of votes. The same thing happened in the campaign of 2000. The people of Arizona understand I’m running for president.”

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Some Our Of Elected Officials Want To End The War And Some Don't


Desire for more war deeply rooted in his damaged psyche

If Congress could vote on a nice easy, simple question like "Do you like the war or not?" there would probably be only a dozen lunatic fringe warmongers like Inhofe, McCain, Cornyn, Lieberman, DeMint and those two kooks from Wyoming who would vote "Yes." Everyone else would vote no-- and wouldn't that feel nifty? But feel good votes are not what the American public is looking for. People want to see an end to the occupation of an unjustifiable war they know they were tricked into backing, a war that is benefitting no one but Iran, jihadist recruiters and Bush campaign contributors. And what they see instead is that the entire GOP and far too many Democrats are not willing to vote "No" on the only way they can stop the war-- by stopping the hundreds of billions of dollars to the Bush Regime. Every time "an emergency supplemental" comes up Blue Dogs and Republicans start repeating their little Karl Rove mantra about taking the bullets away from the troops.

On May 22 senators has an opportunity to vote against the war in a meaningful way, Twenty-six Democrats-- and only one petrified Republican-- availed themselves of that opportunity. The whole list is here but I just want to mention the senators who are up for re-election:

Dick Durbin (D-IL) voted to end the war
Tom Harkin (D-IA) voted to end the war
John Kerry (D-MA) voted to end the war
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) voted to end the war
Jack Reed (D-RI) voted to end the war
Gordon Smith (R-OR) voted to end the war

Lamar Alexander (R-TN) voted to stay the course and continue the war
John Barrasso (R-WY) voted to stay the course and continue the war
Max Baucus (DLC-MT) voted to stay the course and continue the war
Joe Biden (DLC-DE) voted to stay the course and continue the war
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) voted to stay the course and continue the war
Thad Cochran (R-MS) voted to stay the course and continue the war
Norm Coleman (R-MN) voted to stay the course and continue the war
Susan Collins (R-ME) voted to stay the course and continue the war
John Cornyn (R-TX) voted to stay the course and continue the war
Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) voted to stay the course and continue the war
Mike Enzi (R-WY) voted to stay the course and continue the war
Lindsey Graham (R-SC) voted to stay the course and continue the war
James Inhofe (R-OK) voted to stay the course and continue the war
Tim Johnson (D-SD) voted to stay the course and continue the war
Mary Landrieu (DLC-LA) voted to stay the course and continue the war
Carl Levin (D-MI) voted to stay the course and continue the war
Miss McConnell (R-KY) voted to stay the course and continue the war
Mark Pryor (DL-AK) voted to stay the course and continue the war
Pat Roberts (R-KS) voted to stay the course and continue the war
Jay Rockefeller (DLC-WV) voted to stay the course and continue the war
Jeff Sessions (R-AL) voted to stay the course and continue the war
Ted Stevens (R-AK) voted to stay the course and continue the war
John Sununu (R-NH) voted to stay the course and continue the war
Roger Wicker (R-MS) voted to stay the course and continue the war

I've bolded the names of the senators who have talked out of both sides of their mouths on the Iraq War and who either purposely try to deceive people into thinking they are moderates and independents or who appear to be making decisions based on political career calculations not on what they believe. Obama and McCain were campaigning and didn't vote. Hillary voted to end the war.

Try to remember when you vote in November.

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Guest Blog By Barry Welsh (D-IN): Why Out Of Control Gas Prices Matter... A Lot


Barry Welsh, part of the solution & Mike Pence, part of the problem

Barry Welsh is the Blue Amerca-endorsed candidate taking on one of the most radical right extremists in the whole rotten Republican House caucus, fanatic Mike Pence. Barry has been leading the way in showing Democratic candidates how to talk about the inflation in energy prices caused by Republican policies. He agreed to do a guest post for us today. If you agree to donate to his campaign this week, please be sure to add one penny so that he has a chance to win the Air America contest. Barry's guest post:

Gas Prices Have a Tremendous Impact, Congressman Pence

-by Barry Welsh

Two years ago, during our first campaign for United States Congress, we ran a radio commercial where I said gas would be 4 to 5 dollars a gallon if we did not change.  Many laughed me at, but I understand economics, and I had the correct judgment. 
Two years later and gas is indeed at 4 dollars a gallon, and I understand the impact that has on all of us.  My opponent doesn’t see things in the same way.  While appearing on Fox News, my opponent said, “Well, look, I did two parades today here in Eastern Indiana. Gasoline is at $3.99 a gallon.  And while your report suggested accurately, that — that may be affecting vacation plans, it has no impact whatsoever on business, especially business on the farm."

I do not know if my opponent could say anything that could more indicate how out of touch he is with us in this district.  I was amazed when he said, “Iraq was like any Indiana Market in the summertime,” but to state on national television that the increase in gas prices have no impact whatsoever, takes things to a new level. 
My opponent obviously continues in lockstep with Big Oil and with the failed policies of the Bush Presidency.  We must move away from ALL oil, not just foreign oil.  If I were currently the congressman, I would be bringing funding for wind, solar, and flex fuel vehicle manufacturing to this district, and the jobs that would be created.
My opponent voted no on HR 5351. This bill would extend tax credits to power companies that are producing green energy. Allow for financing through US bonds up to 2 billion dollars for clean renewable energy research. Lowered property taxes for people with energy efficient properties, give tax credits for people who buy hybrid cars, and finally cut some tax credits for oil companies.

This bill would have created funding for projects in the sixth district such as expansion of the wind farm now being built in Randolph county, as well as the creation of new wind farms in Jay and Wayne counties, with the possibility of more wind farms in Randolph county as well. Also new jobs would be created in Muncie, Anderson, Connersville, and New Castle.  These are places where we have some of the best machinists in the country. They could be machining and building the turbines and blades for these new wind farms. Also the universities in the district, such as Ball State, would be able to receive some of this funding to innovate and design the next generation of green technologies. It's time we stop giving tax credits to oil companies that are posting record profits and start investing in the future of East Central Indiana, and America.

My opponent also voted no on HR 6, The Energy Act of 2007. This bill would have increased standards for fuel efficiency in cars, increased production of renewable fuels, and also required ethanol plants, as well as other renewable fuel refineries, to lower greenhouse gas emissions, as well as other pollutants, which are detrimental to the surrounding communities.

This bill again would have allowed for the creation of new research and manufacturing jobs in the 6th district.  The people in this district already know how to make great quality automotive parts, and there is no reason to believe that in the future they wouldn't be able to make great quality, more fuel efficient, automotive parts. This would also allow for ECI to take advantage of its fertile soils that allow for ethanol plants to become a larger part of our economy, and become a new point of employment here, and this would eliminate the main concern that we all have about ethanol, and that is the pollution and smell that comes with some of these plants. This bill would have made these plants become environmentally friendly as well as more community friendly.

My opponent also voted no on HR 3221, which was titled: An Act moving the United States toward greater energy independence and security, developing innovative new technologies, reducing carbon emissions, creating green jobs, protecting consumers, increasing clean renewable energy production, and modernizing our energy infrastructure. How can one be against any part of that?

This bill would have given grants to medium and small business, allowing them to become more energy efficient, created more funding of research for renewable clean fuels, and set aside 1 billion dollars for funding of new clean energy producing plants.

Greater energy independence isn't just important when you're paying 4 dollars a gallon at the pump.  It is a matter of national security. A matter of public health and cleaner communities, and most importantly, an opportunity to create new jobs here in East Central Indiana. I hope you will join me in working toward these necessary changes.

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How would you expect the lying liars of the Bush regime to respond to the charge that they (gasp) LIED? Why, naturally, with a new fusillade of lies!


C'mon, Scotty, smile! Rod Serling rarely managed a Twilight Zone scene as creepy as this sendoff Chimpy the Prez gave his longtime loyal lapdog. (Poor Scotty looks like he's praying to a different sci-fi icon -- to his Star Trek namesake, to be beamed up, or anywhere away from here.)

"McClellan's explosive new book, which alleges that the Bush administration waged a 'political propaganda campaign' in favor of the Iraq war and bungled the response to the storm that devastated the Gulf Coast, prompted a counterattack yesterday from some of his oldest political colleagues, who accused him of disloyalty and questioned his credibility."
--from Dan Eggen's front-page report in today's Washington Post

Howie has already noted the furious response by Bush regimists to news of former White House Press Secretary Scotty McClellan's new book. I'm more struck by the comic element of the fracas. As news of the book's innards tumbled out last night, I really didn't think all that much about it. I figured, well, this should cause the regime gang some temporary embarrassment -- you know, having such stuff said by such a deep-inside-the-regime insider.

But the revelations themselves? I mean, really now! Ooh, the bad regime boys (and girl, with Madame Condi's ritual denial duly noted) propaganda-blitzed the country into a war in Iraq. Blah blah blah. Shocking!

Yawn. Come on now! In May 2008, can there possibly be anyone to whom this is news? And so on with all the "revelations" in the book. Of course I haven't read the thing, but could there be anything in it that would surprise anyone who's been paying even the tiniest attention to the unfolding horror of the Bush regime?

Least of all the gang of conspirators within the regime, rising now in unison in such self-righteous dudgeon. And they all profess to be shocked, really shocked. The deck on Dan Eggen's Washington Post story captures (I suppose unwittingly) the hilarity of it:

"Former Bush Aide Stuns Many With Critical New Book"

Why, they're beyond shocked, they're stunned! All the way to the, er, top. We have it on the authority of no less than poor Scotty's most recent successor as White House manure-shoveler, Dana Perino, that the president "is puzzled, and he doesn't recognize this as the Scott McClellan that he hired and confided in and worked with for so many years." (Doesn't it seem possible, even likely, that if you put a pair of Groucho glasses on Mrs. Chimpy, Chimpy the Prez wouldn't recognize her either?)

Now we all know the brand of comedy that's being played out here, don't we? One hates to invoke yet again the utter shock of the corrupt police Captain Renault in Casablanca, as voiced so memorably by Claude Rains, at the discovery of gambling in Rick's Cafe Americain. But this wonderful moment has become a cliche precisely because in it the hypocrisy is so perfectly distilled.

Except to the brain-locked class of Beltway insiders, there's no imaginable mystery about "what happened" to poor Scotty. During his long lapdog-like service to George W. Bush, it obviously escaped everyone's attention that while he might have been every bit the schlub he appeared, he may not have been the doofus and moral cypher normally pressed into service for the moral sinkhole that would be the Bush regime.

Clearly there were glimmerings during his service as press secretary that the regime power brokers were lying to him, and sending him out to the briefing room to spread those lies to the press, and by extension to the American people. Clearly there were instances when he discovered he was being lied to bare-facedly, as with the manure that Karl Rove among others shoveled at him over Plamegate.

Maybe the book spells out the process by which poor Scotty came to understand how badly he had been used by a pack of liars he had foolishly trusted -- and, worse, came to understand that he had been made a cog in their machine for systematically lying to the American people. My guess is that the loyal sad sack started with an alarmingly high doubt threshhold, but that once it was breached, the real story came together increasingly easily.

By the time poor Scotty couldn't take any more and abandoned his liar's podium, it was clear to anyone who was paying attention that something terrible had happened to him. My gosh, who could forget that creepy scene where Chimpy the Prez bade farewell to his loyal retainer, who looked like he was about to walk off into an alien spaceship? It was like a scene out of The Twililght Zone.

But of course the Bush regimists weren't paying attention. Poor Scotty was just another lowly functionary who'd been used and now, when his time came, discarded. (Write if you get work!)

However far along poor Scotty was in his path to illumination at the time he left the White House, I'm guessing that the view from outside the Beltway did wonders to clarify and sharpen his vision. Why exactly he went public, especially knowing the kind of humiliation and character assassination that inevitably awaited him, only he himself could explain. If I had to guess, I'd say that there was a spark of decency in him that escaped the notice of the regimists who had been pulling his strings. (We'll speculate a bit more below.)

It's that same spark of decency that turned out to lodge somewhere inside some of the Nixon faithful as the Watergate scandal unfolded. John Dean, for one, who after all had tried to warn the president that there was a cancer on the presidency, at a time when he was still too naive to realize that the president he had served so loyally was the cancer on the presidency. Talk about a fish rotting from the head: All the filth and corruption of the Nixon regime traced back ultimately to the mind of the master.

So where, I keep asking, is the mystery in all of this?

Supposedly serious media types tell us, in all supposed seriousness, how mystified all of poor Scotty's former colleagues are by this shocking book. Where could poor Scotty have gotten those crazy ideas?

Now, it could be that some of the Bush loyalists, both within the regime and in the media, are genuinely stumped. Because Bush loyalists (again, both in the media and within the regime) come in two basic flavors: the people who drank the Kool-Aid and the people who served it.*

And it's entirely possible that the Kool-Aid drinkers are puzzled. For example, all those Bush regime law diplomates who got their "legal training" at Pat Robertson's Regent U. I can believe that many (most?) of them believe that shredding the damned document and lining bird cages with the resulting confetti really is how a president can best "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

But as for the others, the people who have made the Bush regime function, my gosh, if it weren't so pathetic, and also so semi-serious, it would be hilarious.

Here we have the bloated carcass of Karl Rove, a man who has never in his benighted life told the truth about anything unless he was playing some other-dimensionally devious angle, blithering bemusedly (on Fox Noise, where else?) about the perfidy and ignorance of poor Scotty. Okay, in fairness to our Karl, it's not as if treating poor Scotty like a schmuck and a patsy is something new, or something that he does only behind his back -- look how long he did it right to the dumb schmuck's face.

Thank goodness for Countdown, where we at least had Keith Olbermann pointing out that the regime's hastily assembled Get Scotty Posse was merely spewing -- what else? -- talking points! "Why, that doesn't even sound like our Scotty!"

Well, this may actually be true, because it's doubtful that their Scotty ever talked to them this way when he was shoveling their manure to the ever-eager-for-more White House press corps. Where they apparently went wrong was in assuming that he was just another member of the loyal Kool-Aid Brigade.

On Countdown last night there was much speculation as to what poor Scotty could hope to gain by writing a book that incriminates himself as much as anybody. Let me throw out a theory. Might this be the necessary first step toward redeeming his soul?

It can happen. The young John Dean paid a heavy price for his involvement in the swamp of Nixonian corruption. The older-and-wiser John Dean has emerged from his crucible as one of our more valuable public figures.

It's a start, Scotty.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -
*Although it doesn't really concern us here, there is in fact a third category of Bush loyalist, especially prevalent among the crony capitalists who have been so well served by the regime -- like the war profiteers and other sleazy opportunists for whom each successive regime disaster, regime-made or otherwise, represented another potential bonanza. The cronies didn't need to drink the Kool-Aid because they didn't need to believe any of the regime's pathetic mock-patriotic cover stories. They understood how the game is played: You make the payoffs so you can cash in on the paydays.

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