Friday, June 30, 2006



Ken does an incredible job every morning, seven days a week, heading up the DWTQOTD Selection Committee, and making sure someone is watching every TV show and perusing the entire NY TIMES. 24/7! But the committee may have missed one of great interest to one and all. June 8th issue of THE ONION-- see while Ken and his Committee are up into the wee hours scouring the NY TIMES, I'm reading month-old issues of a less high-brow news source-- asked the crucial question: The US Senate voted yesterday on a proposed Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. What do you think?

The Onion's Quote Selection Committee, as you can see, picked three amusing quotes, but, for some no doubt Rove-inspired reason decided to censor the one really important answer. And that, my friends, is today's Down With Tyranny Early Evening Quote of The Day.

From Maya Coolidge, a tax preparer (amazingly, the identical twin of Ariel Kenner, the piano accompanist) comes this shrewd analysis:

With the midterm elections coming up, Republicans need to assure their conservative base that they're not totally gay.

Although some inside the GOP insist that the entire upper strata of the Party is run by closeted homosexuals, they could be at least partially wrong. Scott McClellen is gone. And let's not even get into speculation about Rove (no matter how many gay men swear they know for sure) or the even more obvious Ken Mehlman. Look instead at how the GOP has made an effort of at least making themselves look less gay.

Former Maryland Congressman (and Chairman of the Conservative Union) Bob Bauman was arrested with a teenage boy's appendage in his mouth and he was forced to give up his political career (as well as his wife and his 4 children). Kentucky GOP heavyweight Bobby Stumbo was banished from his leadership in the party after he was arrested for molesting a 5 year old boy. Virginia Republican Congressman, a viciously anti-gay "family values" psychopath, resigned after he was caught soliciting for gay sex online. Sam Walls, a GOP Chairman and candidate for the Texas legislature withdrew from politics after pictures of him as a drag queen started surfacing. After right-wing Supreme Court nominee G Harrold Carswell was arrested for fondling the genitals of a police officer in a Tallahassee rest room in a shopping mall, Republicans stopped nominating him to the Supreme Court and settled on Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito instead. After it surfaced that GOP homophobic closet case David Dreier was grossly over-paying his lover/Chief of "Staff," he was not permitted to replace Tom DeLay as House Majority Leader. Similarly the Florida Republican Party decided it would rather lose a chance to win a Senate seat with one-step-from-the-loony-bin Katherine Harris than allow homophobic gay closet queen Mark Foley to move from his House seat (FL-16) to the Senate. Jim Kolbe, gay Arizona congressional homophobe, is retiring from Congress. Right-wing pressure forced Louisiana self-loathing gay blade Jim McCrery to marry his secretary before allowing him to rise in the Congressional hierarchy. After Clarkfield, Minnesota's ex-mayor Jeffrey Kyle Randall served 9 months in jail for sexually molesting 2 young boys (10 and 12 years old), he stopped running for office. And after Utah Republican state legislator Brent Parker, an upsatnding Republican father of 6, was arrested for offering a policeman $20 for a little sodomy he was forced to resign. Oh-- and Washington State conservative kingpin/Spokane mayor Jim West... what a mess!

It sure is a Gay Old Party!

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Yesterday Richard Pombo got a potentially catastrophic anti-environmental, pro-Big Oil bill passed by the Republican rubber stamp House. The bill, which passed 232-187, would end a quarter-century offshore drilling ban and allow energy companies to tap natural gas and oil beneath waters from Maine to Alaska. The bill is considered particularly politically toxic in Florida and California since its impact would probably wreck the states' multibillion dollar tourist and recreation industries.

Pombo, chairman of the House Resources Committee, rammed the bill through and dismissed other congressmen's concerns by saying "You can't say no on everything." Pombo, widely considered to be the most in-the-pocket-of-Big-Oil of anyone in either house of Congress, routinely says yes to everything that Big Business asks for-- as long as they keep paying him off.

Even some Republicans opposed Pombo's outrageous legislation, which is expected to die in the Senate. "We should not be opening all of our coasts to oil drilling when we have not taken the first step to conserve oil," said Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), Chairman of the House Science Committee, who wanted to put into the bill a requirement to increase automobile fuel economy, but was prevented from doing so.

Pombo's opponent, Jerry McNerney, an alternative energy expert, has gained popularity in CA-11 by pointing out that Pombo refuses to ever say no to Big Oil, no matter how detrimental their demands. He, as well as many environmental groups, agree that Pombo is "the number one shill for Big Oil in Congress." Even Schwarzenegger has told Pombo the bill would be a disaster for California and has declared that he will oppose it.

"I have called Richard Pombo 'Big Oil's Best Friend' because he has no problem putting the best interests of Big Oil ahead of the American people. Pombo's bill is riddled with industry-friendly loopholes that blow yet another hole in the Federal budget," explains McNerney.

Most of the fake Dems who normally support Republican Big Business initiatives were on board with this horrendous piece of legislation (with a few exceptions of congressmen afraid that voters will defeat them for their anti-consumer/anti-worker records-- particularly Melissa Bean and Al Wynn). But the list of Democrats includes most of the regular suspects with the consistently worst voting records: Skelton (MO), Matheson (UT), Boswell (IA), Marshall (GA), Peterson (MN), Cuellar (TX), Mollohan (WV), Herseth (SD), Barrow (GA), Edwards (TX), Melancon (LA), Holden (PA), Boren (OK), Costa (CA), Berry (AR), etc.

Meanwhile I was struck by how many normally straight-down-the-line corporate hacks on the Republican side were afraid to vote for this bill. This was especially true of weak GOP incumbents with strong and surging Democratic challengers. For example, all 3 of the deadmen walking southeast Pennsylvania Republicans-- crazy Curt Weldon, Jim Gerlach and Mike Fitzpatrick-- ran from their usual voting patterns in fear of, respectively, Joe Sestak, Lois Murphy and Patrick Murphy. Similarly in Connecticut, the 3 endangered Republican corporate hacks, Nancy Johnson, Rob Simmons and Chris Shays refused to back Pombo this close to the election, where normally all three could be counted on for their rubber stamp dependability. Even right wing kook/coward Dave Reichert (WA-08), under intense pressure from Darcy Burner, has suddenly backed away from Pombo and the GOP Big Business-owned mob.

Anyone who makes a contribution today to Jerry McNerney's campaign at the DWT ACT BLUE Page will win a cool music CD. That's on top of the satisfaction of knowning you're contributing to the political demise of the worst threat to the environment of any of Bush's rubber stamp congressloons.



Down With Tyranny has kept a close watch on Katherine Harris' rapidly deteriorating mental state. I think the turning point for her-- when she went from garden variety right-wing fruitcake to dangerously deranged psychotic was after she replaced her third campaign staff with some kind of quasi-religionist cult figure, her own personal Rasputin and decided to move away from a traditional political campaign and launch a kind of pseudo-religionist crusade.

According to Pensito Review the deranged congresswoman went off the deep end as she watched her ill-advised race against Bill Nelson completely unravel and her polling numbers fall even below George Bush's... almost as low as Dick Cheney's! Crazy Kathy, however, has processed her political demise as the roar of the crowd and the smell of the greasepaint.

She made up an absurd story (originally just for herself-- but then started believing it and, worse, started repeating it to members of the press). In Crazy Kathy's warped and delusional mind, everybody loves her and even liberal Democrats have pledged fealty to her highness.

She told the Palatka Daily News "I've had Democrats in the House of Representatives come to me and say, 'You know, we'd really like to take the majority in the U.S. Senate'-- these are Florida Democrats in the U.S. Congress-- 'but you'll do so much more for us if you're there.'"

The entire Florida Democratic caucus denies that any of them ever said anything remotely like this to her. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, for example, when approached for a comment, scoffed. "Under no circumstances, in any way, shape or form am I supporting Katherine Harris, nor do I know anybody in the delegation who is." Similarly, a spokesperson for Alcee Hastings said "I can assure you, Congressman Hastings is 110 percent committed to the re-election of Bill Nelson...He wishes Katherine Harris well in her life as a private citizen next year."

One of her own former campaign managers, Republican Jim Dornan, has confided to friends and acquaintances (and random people he meets at street lights) that Harris has lost her marbles. "I just figured it had never happened... It was all too weird."

Theories to explain Harris' erratic and unpredictable behavior range from "she forgot to take her medicine" to "she's been getting some strong stuff from her pal Rush Limbaugh." How lucky is Bill Nelson?

Quotes of the day: Justice Stevens explains our Chimpy's abuse of power so that even he could "get it" if he wanted (and the dissenting justices too)


"The executive is bound to comply with the rule of law that prevails in this jurisdiction."
—Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, "at the end of a 73-page opinion that in sober tones shredded each of the administration's arguments," as Linda Greenhouse puts it in today's New York Times

In voicing my dread yesterday of the gathering force of the Roberts-Alito-Scalia-Thomas bloc on the Supreme Court, I didn't mean to minimize the significance of the truly historic ruling that the administration had no authority to establish its inquisitorial military tribunals, that it broke U.S. law and violated Geneva accords that are legally binding on the U.S., and that the Court has the authority, indeed the obligation to stop it. For those of us who have been watching this administration trash the U.S. Constitution for going on six years, there has never been any question about the flagrant illegality and unconstitutionality of virtually everything these people have done. The only question was when someone with the authority would blow the whistle.

So while my dread for the future remains undiminished, I think for this one day, we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

And in case anyone was wondering what it means to say that we live in a country of laws, which even the president isn't above, let's give the final word to Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, the lawyer for Salim Ahmed Hamdan, the Afghani plaintiff in this case, who phoned his client news of the Court's ruling:

"I think he was awe-struck that the court would rule for him, and give a little man like him an equal chance. Where he's from, that's not true."

After all that the Bush administration has done to support and spread terrorism all over the world, the Supreme Court stood tall yesterday and delivered a powerful message to terrorists as to what they're really up against. An America that truly practices the values we were taught the country is supposed to stand for is a real enemy of terrorism.

Thursday, June 29, 2006



Last night at 11:30 PM I e-mailed Ken and asked him if he would be covering John Stewart's interview with Al Gore. For someone who until recently always made up upstairs by 9:30 to watch South Park and hit the lights at 10 sharp, that's saying a lot. I'm getting into a can't-miss-The-Daily-Show-and-The-Colbert-Report-phase again. Well, sometimes I'm just so tired I do miss Colbert. In fact, sometimes I'm so tired that when Stewart introduces his dull hacky guest, I can just turn off everything and get a few extra minutes of sleep.

Last night it seemed like I had barely gotten upstairs and turned on the TV-- having worked hard researching a story about the Rove pal caught molesting 8 year old girls who put together the Bush campaign TV ads in 2000 attacking Gore for selling nuclear secrets to China-- before Stewart was introducing his guest. "Is it that late already!" I thought. It wasn't. The guest was Al Gore and Stewart had, wisely, decided to devote most of the show to him. Many rock stars wish that they got the kind of reception Al got from The Daily Show audience last night. John Amato's got a low-res video clip of it up at CROOKS AND LIARS but it doesn't capture the hysteria and emotional connection between the audience members and Al. So many, many, many "what if's" must have been on so many minds at that moment when Al came out on stage, waved once and gave two Thai Buddhist-style wei greetings (folded hands, slight bow).

Most of the interview, one of Stewart's best ever, was spent discussing AN INCONVIENENT TRUTH and the truth behind the film and book. But at one point, Stewart, being Stewart, couldn't resist monkeying around and jokingly asked Al if he wouldn't have liked to have seen Florida already suffering the predictable fate of the world's coastal areas if Bush's environmental policies keep going unchecked. Not a chance. I mean beyond not wishing ill to any place, Al certainly doesn't wish ill on Florida because, as he pointed out, "I won Florida." The audience roared their approval. So did I; I hope I didn't wake my neighbors.



When I was growing up I heard a dozen bands doing it-- from the Blues Project, Ronnie Hawkins, John Hammond , Peter Green, Tom Rush, and The Band to The Doors, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Yardbirds, Santana and eventually The Jesus and Mary Chain but it was Bo Diddley who wrote the lyrics that asked the question, "Who Do You Love?"
I walked 47 miles of barbed wire,
Used a cobra snake for a neck tie.
Got a brand new house on the roadside,
Made out of rattlesnake hide.
I got a brand new chimney made on top,
Made out of human skulls.
Now come on darling let's take a little walk, tell me,
Who do you love,
Who do you love, Who do you love, Who do you love.

Today's GUARDIAN has an interesting story by Simon Tisdall pointing out why Iran's crazy leaders just love George W. Bush, even though no one else anywhere in the world does (with the exception of a few discredited old feudalists and plutocrats). He points out that although Iranian President rails at Bush as a warmonger and imbecile, Ahmadinejad understands and appreciates how Bush's bumbling, ignorance-fueled incompetence has worked miracles for Iran. Tisdall explains how how the Iranian leadership is "grateful to the Bush administration for ridding them of Saddam... Aliakbar Rezaei, a senior diplomat, [said] with an ironic smile. 'We're very thankful to the Americans. They paved the way for us in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Lebanon, too - our influence has increased due to the Syrians leaving. They've pushed up the oil price. Thank you! The Americans are also helping us establish a common identity in the region. Iran is closer to Egypt and other Arab countries because of the common enemy we share. The Arabs and Muslims were not unified. But the US has achieved this. They've done a lot for us.'"

Bush's policies and agenda-- both domestic and international-- have torn America's social fabric apart more thoroughly than at any time since his ideological forebearers did the same in the mid-1850s. But when it comes to the 1.3 billion Muslims in the world, George W. Bush has indeed been a uniter and not a divider.

There's relief but no long-term reassurance from the Supreme Court's principled 5-3 repudiation of the administration's military tribunals


So the Supreme Court has turned thumbs down on the administration's military tribunals as violations of U.S. law and the Geneva conventions. The 5-3 vote is a relief, but not much reassurance for the future.

For one thing, it's really a 5-4 vote. Our new bullyboy chief justice, whose existence seems governed by the principle "I never heard of a really powerful person I didn't want to suck up to," couldn't vote because he already had, as an appeals court judge who cheered the kangaroo courts on. So the Roberts-Alito-Scalia-Thomas alliance is not only intact but apparently growing ever more cohesive and more militant by the day.

[Confidential to the jackasses with all their "inside knowledge" who tried to tell us that Alito wasn't going to be "Scalito": Have you gotten your heads far enough out of your asses to tell us whether you were in on the con all along or you're merely too-stupid-to-live morons?]

What's happening is that, as I suspected, the authentically "conservative" Anthony Kennedy is going to be driven to the side of sanity with increasing frequency by the pack of bloodthirsty, rampaging judicial hoodlums sitting to his right on the Court. As a holding action, that provides us with a thin margin of protection. But there seems less and less reason to think that there's any limit to how far to the right the Pack of Four is prepared to move the Court. As soon as they get one more reliable vote, watch out! It looks like they're prepared to write a previously unimagined book of "The History of Judicial Activism on the Bench."

For now, let us bow our heads in prayer, for:

• the continued health of 86-year-old Justice John Paul Stevens, and

• the replacement of Joe "Bring On the Loons" Lieberman in the Senate before the next Supreme Court nomination.

Final thought: Since the 750-plus signing statements that Chimpy the Prez has graffito-ed onto bills he's signed into "law" tell us that he considers "laws" nothing more than "Congress's opinion," is there any reason to think that the Bush crowd pays any more attention to Supreme Court decisions it doesn't like?



I have to admit that I haven't been a huge James Webb fan. From day one I was a little apprehensive that, although he could beat George Allen, one of the absolutely worst senators anywhere in America, we could be creating the next Lieberman or Zell Miller by backing Webb. And then that primary campaign was so vicious and repulsive that I just plain turned the whole race off from my consciousness.

But I guess, at heart, I'm a cheap whore because Webb sure was my hero yesterday! The Associated Press reported that Webb knows how to answer the kinds of vile rightist slurs that is all they have in their little Rovian bags of filth. One would hope John Kerry would learn something about how to respond when one of these panty-wasted little pussies questions your patriotism-- especially when it comes from dog poop, like George Bush or George Allen that you just need to wipe off your shoes.

When Allen launched into an ignorant and pompous attack on Webb's opposition to the idiotioc flag-burning amendment that the Senate has been wasting time on lately instead of dealing with real problems the country is facing, Webb hit back-- fast and hard and Allen went and hid under his bed and shut his face. And all Webb, a much decorated war hero (and Ronald Reagan's former Secretary of the Navy), did was remind Virgnians that "Allen [is] a coward who sat out the Vietnam War 'playing cowboy at a dude ranch in Nevada.'"

One of Webb's senior aides tweaked Allen by continually using his much-hated middle name (which kids in elementary school used to call him when they would beat him up everyday, which is what made him turn to right-wing notions and, eventually, the Republican Party), "While Jim Webb and others of George Felix Allen Jr.'s generation were fighting for our freedoms and for our symbols of freedom in Vietnam, George Felix Allen Jr. was playing cowboy at a dude ranch in Nevada."

Referring to Allen's laughable press release as "weak-kneed attacks by cowards," Webb's aide reminded Felix that "people who live in glass dude ranches should not question the patriotism of real soldiers who fought and bled for this country on a real battlefield."

Wow! I bet Allen, who is best known for dealing with his profound feelings of inadequacy by beating up and torturing his sister-- who wrote a book about what a pathetic psychopath he is-- wishes he was never born. (You hadn't heard about the Virginia Senator who would be president who was already showing signs of psychopathic sadism when he was just a monstrous little punk? Perhaps you need to read his younger sister's book, FIFTH QUARTER: THE SCRIMMAGE OF A FOOTBALL COACH'S DAUGHTER. In it George Felix's younger sister Jennifer, exposes him as a sadist who routinely attacked his younger siblings, once dangling her over Niagara Falls by the feet, beating her boyfriend over the head with a pool cue, throwing their younger brother Brice through a glass door, dragging the children around the house by their hair, etc. "George hoped someday to become a dentist," she wrote. "George said he saw dentistry as a perfect profession-- getting paid to make people suffer."

Quote of the day: Can't Bushpeople keep secrets anymore? Also talking: Bush v. Gore 2006—GWB finds a special friend, and AG's OK with Florida


There is, it appears, a government designation for documents, "sensitive but unclassified," or SBU, roughly equivalent to whispering, "Shh, don't pass it on!" It has less legal force than pinky-swearing not to tell, and the State Department's Information Systems and Services (ISS) office recently reminded its people that it's a lousy way to keep secrets, especially with so many levels of classification available.

"This useful reminder was issued," Al Kamen notes in his Washington Post "In the Loop" column, "only five days after The Washington Post published a cable from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad recounting the daily hardships and dangers confronting Iraqi embassy employees. Every paragraph of that cable was marked SBU."

The timing was purely coincidental, however. We know so because the ISS said so. Kamen says:

"We certainly believe them, though we hear no one at the State Department does."

ALSO TALKING (1)—Is it possible that our George has a crush?

Rachel Maddow, back from vacation on Air America Radio this morning (was it really only a week?), casts a wary glance at today's visit to Graceland by a giddy-sounding President Bush and his Elvis-loving special friend, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. On Koizumi's last visit, you may recall, he and Bush "played baseball" at Camp David. Says Rachel:

"It's like two 12-year-old middle-school girlfriends."

(Also, in the "Ask Dr. Maddow" segment, Rachel exploded the myth that eating raw rice—like what you throw at weddings—causes birds to explode. Uh-uh, says her ornithologist expert. However, all that rice on the sidewalk can be dangerous to people. It can make us slip and fall.)

ALSO TALKING (2)—Our Al doesn't have anything against Florida

On last night's Daily Show, Jon Stewart asked guest Al Gore if he wasn't perhaps hoping to see Florida suffer the fate he warns of in An Inconvenient Truth for the world's low-lying coastal areas with the oceans rising? Said the former vice president:

"I thought I won Florida."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006



Although many of us may have forgotten, we don't need to hear from a judge and jury to know that Republican operative Carey Lee Cramer is a lowlife right-wing monstrosity who has long ago earned what's in store for him. But a judge and jury did speak today and they found the Republican consultant guilty, very guilty. A typical example of the Republican Party's family values in action, Cramer has become something on a posterboy for the GOP's "Leave No Child Untouched" policies.

I'll get into the specifics of Cramer's child molesting trial in a moment. First I want to remind everyone of the last time we ran into this Republican sack of dung. Think back to 2000 when Karl Rove's and George W. Bush's team was throwing every lie they could at the Clinton-Gore Administration. Rove's close friend Cramer became very wealthy as a Republican Party consultant who came up with a made-for-television lie claiming Clinton and Gore were secretly selling nuclear technology in return for Gore campaign contributions. Remember now? Obviously only insane people believed this silliness-- but that's the Republican base, the 29% of Americans who still insist that the absolute worst "president" in American history is doing an acceptable job.

Cramer’s repugnant TV ad showed a young girl picking daisy petals and ends with a nuclear blast, a remake of a 1964 ad that helped focus attention of what a kook and extremist Barry Goldwater was when he ran for president. Cramer’s ad made national news, though he refused to admit that he got the money for the commercial from Rove and Bush.

Interestingly, one of the girls he used in the ad was one of his rape victims. She lived with Cramer and his ex-wife for 8 years in Mercedes and McAllen in Texas. Cramer started molesting her when she was only 8 years old. (Do you know what they do in prison to dirty Republican men who molest little children?) Anyway, the inappropriate touching escalated to all sorts of Limbaugh/O'Reilly-like perversions and, finally, serial rape. On top of that, a second young girl, a 15 year old, came forward and also testified that the Republican slime bucket also molested her.

The jury found him guilty and Cramer faces up to 149 years in prison. He was taken into custody on a $4 million appeal bond after the verdict. All 29% of Americans who are still Bush supporters are going to need to pray that Cramer makes it through his first month in the pen.



Give 'em Hell Harry wasn't on my "Best Boy List" yesterday when he voted for that idiotic flag burning amendment-- which even he denounced as idiotic-- but he sure is today! That's because today Harry Reid threatened his avaricious, self-serving colleagues on the other side of the aisle with no pay raises if they continue to block an increase in the minimum wage for America's neediest families.

This morning CNN reported that Reid threatened to do whatever it takes to block pay raises for congressmen and senators until Republicans stop blocking raising the minimum wage from $5.15/hour to $7.25/hour. "We're going to do anything it takes to stop the congressional pay raise this year, and we're not going to settle for this year alone. They can play all the games the want. They can deal with gay marriage, estate tax, flag burning, all these issues and avoid issues like the prices of gasoline, sending your kid to college. But we're going to do everything to stop the congressional pay raise."

CNN was good enough to explain to their... online readers that "during the past nine years, as Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to increase the minimum wage, members of Congress have voted to give themselves pay raises-- technically "cost of living increases"-- totaling $31,600, or more than $15 an hour for a 40-hour week, 52 weeks a year, according to the Congressional Research Service."



It's pretty nauseating that Wyoming (population 506,529, a tenth less than Washington, DC, which has no senators; of course Washington is 70% non-white and Wyoming is just under 90% white) has two U.S. Senators-- both extremist loons, Mike Enzi and Craig Thomas. The good news isn't that they elected a Democratic governor-- all I ever heard from Dave Freudenthal was a gratuitous Rovian talking points attack on Howard Dean-- but that the sparsely populated state has only one House seat.

If you want to see what a rubber stamp right-winger's voting record looks like, just click on Barbara Cubin's. But her excruciatingly bad voting record-- alwaysagainst the interests of her middle and working class constituents and always in favor of the Big Business interests which have financed her miserable political career-- isn't even what makes Cubin singularly eligible for a place on a list of the 10 worst congresspersons in the country.

Before she was elected to Congress in 1994, the nasty, elitist ex-cheerleader was in the state legislature where she made a name for herself by distributing penis-shaped cookies to the other members
During a House debate on a bill that sought to limit the civil liability of firearms dealers and manufacturers (H.R. 1036), the Wyoming bigot got worked up into hysteria, lost control of herself and started spewing the hatred and racism always just lurking beneath her frosty surface. “I am going to tell you what," snarled America's Ava Braun. "My sons are now 25 and 30, and they're blond-haired and blue-eyed. One amendment said we couldn't sell [guns] to anybody that was on drugs or had drug treatment or something like that. Well, so does that mean if you go into a black community, you can't sell any gun to any black person? Or does that mean that because my..."

Although she struggled mightily to control her arm from the giving the Nazi salute, the whole House was in shock and before she could finish her racist rant, Representative Mel Watt (D-NC) calmly interrupted her to object to her characterization of the African-American community. Watt asked that Cubin's remarks be stricken from the Congressional Record. By now the crackpot congresswoman had worked herself into an explosive lather and she flatly refused. Watt put his request to a vote and the entire Party of Racism and Bigotry rallied round their gal and Cubin prevailed 227 to 195, embedding her insane rant in the Congressional record for all time.

Although her Republican predecessors in the At-Large House seat would rack up 70% of the vote, 2 years ago she squeaked by with 55%. Unfortunately for her, she has a far more formidable opponent to face in November than she's ever had before. And with investigations in full swing into the Republican Culture of Corruption, the big money she was getting from crooked lobbyists-- yes, she was one of Abramoff's little darlings (and accepted over $20,000 in tainted money from DeLay)-- has dried up and she won't have the 3-1 money advantage she had over her last Democratic opponent. This time she's up against Gary Trauner, a well-respected entrepreneur from Wilson.

Gary co-founded, a regional Internet Service Provider based in Jackson Hole. As CFO he acquired 12 companies and OneNet employed over 70 people. was recently bought by a Wyoming regional telecommunications company and Gary has devoted himself to public service. As an entrepreneur he's experienced firsthand the issues that matter most to working people-- how to pay for health care, how to achieve a quality education, how to juggle work and family, how to provide a decent "living" wage, and freedom from unreasonable government and corporate intrusion. This is what is what has informed Gary's campaign and what has united Democrats and independents behind him.

Gary seems like a populist with a very independent streak and the latest Rasmussen Poll shows a statistical dead heat already (a very bad omen for a long-time incumbent). This is a race worth keeping an eye on. I know I will.



The Democratic suit against DeLay's power-grabbing gerrymander of Texas was always-- at least to me, considering the make-up of the Court, basically a far worse bunch than the villains who handed Bush the presidency he didn't win in 2000-- an exercise in windmill tilting. So this morning's Supreme Court decison didn't surprise me at all.

Predictably, the 5-4 decision "upheld most of the pro-Republican Texas congressional map engineered by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and freed all states to draw new political boundaries as often as they want. The court, however, said that part of the new Texas map failed to
protect minority voting rights, a small victory for Democratic and minority groups who accused
Republicans of an unconstitutional power grab in drawing boundaries that booted four Democrats
from office... Some 100,000 Hispanics had been shifted out of a district represented by a Republican, and foes of the plan had argued it violated the Voting Rights Act which protects minority voting rights."

The practical effects look like a 3-judge panel will first decide when to re-draw TX-23 (and surrounding districts)-- before or after November-- and that will probably mean bye-bye to corrupt right-wing nutcase Henry Bonilla. Then they have to decide if they'll draw the new boundaries for that part of Texas themselves or kick it back to the lunatic fringe state legislature to do it. A bonus could be next door in TX-28 where far right fake-Dem Henry Cuellar's main base of support, Laredo, would probably be added to Bonilla's district, which would make the contemptible Cuellar a sitting duck for another challenge from a real Democrat like Ciro Rodruguez.

There are a couple of real messages here to think about. One will encompass my daily attack on George Bush's and Ann Coulter's favorite Democrat, Joe Lieberman, and the other is about the responsibilities we as citizens have if we even want a democracy. Attacking Lieberman is easier and more fun so let me deal with the democracy thing first.

To have expected this Supreme Court to throw out DeLay's partisan gerrymander was not realistic. This kind of partisanship is the business of voters. (That's why the Court, appropriately, took exception to just one part of the gerrymander-- the part that disenfranchised a minority group: Hispanics.) But if the people in Texas as not satisfied with the quality of their democracy they have a gubernatorial election and state legislative elections coming up, the perfect way to express their feeling about this stuff. Can the Democrats make the case so that Texas voters understand what's at stake? I'm not sure but I have a feeling they'd have a better shot with Texas voters than they would with the Roberts Court.

And that brings us to Lieberman unworthiness to be re-elected Senator from Connecticut. The always duplicitous and oily/slimy Lieberman is actually campaigning on a false claim that he opposed the nomination of Sam Alito, the deciding vote on this (all every other reactionary decision that has come down recently). Yes, he provided himself cover so he could go back to True Blue Connecticut braying like a jackass that he voted against Alito. But what he refuses to discuss is how he conspired with his Bush Regime buddies to guarantee Alito's confirmation by first voting for cloture-- the Republican tactic to shut off debate on the nomination and the Democrats' only chance to stop Alito. That pair of votes is showcases the quintessential Joe Lieberman: a dishonest hypocrite masquerading as a Democrat to keep power, power he consistently uses to advance much of the catastrophic and reactionary Bush agenda.

Quote of the day: Oh, the horror! DWT readers imagine Rush using Viagra, and Helen Thomas vetoes the Bush method of spreading democracy


"I am having difficulty keeping my dinner down with the thought of Rush Limbaugh actually having a purpose to possess Viagra.

"Oh the horror."

—DWT reader Matt, echoed by a slew of other commenters

By comparison, you're only too happy to imagine your parents having sex. (Ouch, I'm blind!)

On the gap between Bush rhetoric and Bush performance

"You don't spread democracy with the barrel of a gun."

—veteran Washington correspondent Helen Thomas, to Jon Stewart on last night's Daily Show, promoting her new book, Watchdogs of Democracy? The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public

Tuesday, June 27, 2006



The Republicans are making a lame attempt to get voters' minds off real issues, like Bush's catastrophic economic agenda, the gutting of the U.S. Constitution, and the gutting of Iraq-- to name just 3 that come to the top of my head instantly-- with a series of clownish proposals meant to appeal to the most extremist part of the Know Nothing base: gay marriage, abolishment of the estate tax (aka- The Paris Hilton Inheritance Tax Protection Plan), abolishment of the Voting Protection Act, and, today, the silliest and most meaningless of them all, the so-called Flag Burning Amendment. It failed. Frist is so lame he couldn't even keep Mitch McConnell (R-KY), his #2, from voting against this nonsense (which even Scalia signaled would be found unconstitutional).

Lucky McConnell voted no, thought, because there were enough Democratic turn-coats voting with Bush today to have passed it without McConnell's and Bennett's (R-UT) defection from the latest fascist nonsense. In case you like keeping track of which Democrats were the ones who don't deserve to call themselves Democrats today, here's the list:

Max Baucus (D-MT)- the #2 most reactionary voting record (after Ben Nelson) of any Democrat in the Senate
Evan Bayh (D-IN)- most reactionary voting record of any Democratic senator with presidential pretensions
Mark Dayton (D-MN)- good riddance
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)- up for re-election in November. I have never cast a vote for this worthless hack. I hope she wins by one vote.
Tim Johnson (D-SD)- coward
Mary Landrieu (D-LA)- third worst Democrat in the Senate; she'll lose next time anyway
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)- virtually tied with Landrieu for 3rd most reactionary Democrat
Bob Menendez (D-NJ)- he gets a pass cause he's normally a solid progressive
Bill Nelson (D-FL)- better than Katherine Harris, mostly because she's so terrible, not because he's worth anything
Ben Nelson (D-NE)- the Democrat with the overall worst voting record in the Senate; votes with the GOP at least as much as with Democrats on substantive issues. In fact his voting score is closer to 4 Republicans than it is to the next worst Democrat, Baucus.
Harry Reid (D-NV)- grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
John Rockefeller (D-WV)- no comment
Ken Salazar (D-CO)- more and more turning into a dickhead
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)- like Menendez, she gets a pass on this one 'cause she's normally a committed progressive


Frist and these other grandstanding horses' asses, who are not doing their jobs as they let our country literally fall apart, decided they had nothing better to do today than waste an entire day debating... nothing at all. As Dana Millbank reports in todays POST, the kooks and wingnuts at "the Citizens Flag Alliance, a group pushing for the Senate this week to pass a flag-burning amendment to the Constitution, just reported an alarming 33% increase in the number of flag-desecration incidents this year. The number has increased to four, from three."

That's what Bill Frist, who wants to be president (of the United States) decided to waste the Senate's day on. 4 people descrecrated a flag this year; let's pass a Constitutional Amendment. What about passing a minimum wage raise?



Tom DeLay still isn't in prison. He has some many criminal cases pending against him that it is hard to keep track of them all. So far he was forced to resign, "temporarily," as Republican Majority Leader in the House. Then the "temporarily" became permanent and he was replaced by another crooked wholly owned subsidiary of Big Business, John Boehner. And then, after it became apparent he stood virtually no chance of being re-elected in his home district and could drag the whole Republican Texas ticket down the toilet with him, he was forced to resign from congress. But he has already won the GOP primary (against a relative moderate, anti-corruption/anti-DeLay Republican). Still hoping to pull the strings behind the curtain, DeLay continues his never-ending efforts to corrupt Texas politics. He tried timing his resignation in such a way as to allow his own far right extremist machine to appoint the next Republican congressional candidate, instead of allowing Republican voters to pick his replacement in a democratic fashion.

So the Democratic Party of Texas sued and that court case has been dragging on for months as DeLay continues his cat-and-mouse game about where he actually lives now. According to Texas' Democratic State Chairman, Boyd Richie, "The fact that Tom DeLay was served (a subpoena) at his home in Fort Bend County supports what the Texas Democratic Party has known all along, that Tom DeLay has been and continues to be an inhabitant of the State of Texas. Obviously, this makes clear that the Republican Party cannot conclusively establish from any record, either today, tomorrow, or in October, that Tom DeLay will not be an inhabitant of Texas on Election Day... Tom DeLay's actions this weekend confirm that his cut and run scheme is just a charade. If the DeLay-Republican charade is allowed to stand, DeLay could conceivably return to Texas after he is 'replaced' on the ballot, re-register, and actually vote in the election he hopes to abandon."

Yesterday U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks heard DeLay lying his ass off at the federal courthouse in Austin, where he showed a Virginia hunting license to prove that he's now a citizen of Virginia and not of Texas. He claims to have not moved his furniture because the place he's crashing at living in in Virginia came already-furnished. His wife-- who has been an active participant in his criminal activities, a sort of a gun moll to his capo di tutti capi function in the GOP-- admits that she's not moving to Virgnia and will be maintaining the DeLay residence in Sugarland. Although the judge didn't have him jailed on the spot for perjury, according to the AUSTIN STATESMAN, he looked at DeLay and said "My recommendation is to run like a rabbit."

Bob Dunn at Fort Bend Now has all the details of the law suit.



Yesterday was a big day at McNerney headquarters. Fresh from smashing up Rahm Emanuel's handpicked Big Business Democrat in the June 6 primary and having won Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriot voting selection, McNerney landed two more major endorsements that will help him beat Dirty Dick Pombo. He won the DfA Grassroots All-Star vote and he was just named the latest Combined Netroots candidate-- which means Daily Kos, Swingstate Project and MyDD will all add him to their ACT BLUE Pages. (He's already on the DWT one.)

Chris Bowers over at MyDD has a great endorsement and has some new polling that Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research did for Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund. It shows that 52% of likely voters think Pombo should not be re-elected (with only 35% thinking he should be). And in a trial heat with Jerry, Pombo is bested by 4%.

Rahm Emanuel, still smarting over the way McNerney made mincemeat over his pro-Corporate, Insider candidate has already boasted to ROLL CALL that the DCCC won't help McNerney's race. There's only one way to beat Pombo in 2006-- grassroots people power. We have an opportunity to send Bush and his rubber stamp Republicans a message that we're sick and tired of their failed and catastrophic policies and at the same time we can tell corporate Democrats like Emanuel that we don't intend to trade in one bunch of shitheads for another branch of the same Wall Street-owned system. So far Down With Tyranny readers have contributed, overwhelmingly in small donations, $2,227.30 towards Jerry's campaign, about one-fifth of his ACT BLUE total. Today would be a good day to think about how we have a chance to replace the guy who is trying to drill off the coast of California and who has advocated selling the National Parks, with a man who has dedicated his life not to political buffoonery and corruption but to seriously studying alternative energy-- someone who understands that public service is different from Dick Pombo's avaricious, self-serving approach to being a congressman. Please consider Acting Blue today.

Today's quote-of-the-day Honorable Mention goes to Michael Isikoff for diagnosing the Bush gang's latest anti-NYT fight as yet another war of choice


Of course, QOTD can't be expected to work on krugmandays (days on which Paul Krugman is officially on vacation). So once again it's Honorable Mention only.

"It's clear to me that they want to have this fight."

Newsweek investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff, this morning on Air America Radio

Under other circumstances, we might have cited The Daily Show for its hilarious deconstruction last night of those seven sad-sack souls grotesquely pumped up into a major terrorist threat—whose thwarting was in some way connected to the bank-transfer spying program—by Bush administration lackeys spearheaded by Attorney General Al "The Torture Guy" Gonzales. However, at this point it appears that the Daily Show writers are actually writing the administration's material. They can hardly be rewarded for planting their own stories.

So today's Honorable Mention goes to Michael Isikoff for some gasbag-puncturing perspective on the administration's pugnacity in the matter of the New York Times's—though not the Wall Street Journal's or Los Angeles Times's—revelation of the government's secret bank-transfer screening activities.

Isikoff pretty much dismissed the prospect of any actual indictment of the NYT or anyone else, pointing out that Treasury Dept. officials actually provided briefings on the program to ensure accuracy. He described the political strategy at work as "Rovian jujitsu," the process of attempting to turn a political weakness into a strength, this being a fight the administration thinks it can score political points with, especially knowing that it can control the terms of the debate.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Sure, cornered Republicrooks have the right to try to bluff their way through, but shouldn't there be some extra penalty when they're finally nailed?


Like everyone else, I'm curious to see what ol' Rush has to say about his latest brush with the law.

Here's one possibility: "Okay, ya got me. Heh-heh. Everybody knows I'm a druggie. Heh-heh. And I know how funny it must seem, after all those terrible things I always say about druggies and about the dastardliness of coddling them. And here I am one. Heh-heh. I guess this time the joke's on me!"

Another possibility is that, once again, ol' Rush'll try to bluff his way through, while counting on his multifarious "connections" to work their usual magic, then when the dust settles (in his fans' eyes and ears) go back to business as usual.

Actually, I was thinking about this subject before Rush's latest troubles broke, in connection with the latest legal tribulations gnawing at the giant carcass of House Speaker Denny Hastert.

I have to confess that in this case I read the news account clear to the end. I don't always, you know. When I do, I think it's usually because my particular preoccupation with nuts 'n' bolts—the nitty-gritty way things really get done in the real world—has been triggered. As in the case of Speaker Denny's feat of real-estate profiteering.

Of course it stinks. All of it, in Rush's case and in Speaker Denny's, from nauseating start to stomach-turning finish. I don't claim to be either judge or jury, and I don't want to preempt their functions. The legalities of the matters need to be determined by our normal legal processes. But can there really be any question that in both cases it's time for those legal processes to get cracking?

With regard to Speaker Denny, come on, people, has anyone calculated the statistical improbability of the string of coincidences you have to believe in in order to accept his indignant protestations of innocence?

The one question that seems to me to remain open is whether this was an isolated instance in Speaker Denny's history—you know, a lone brazen shot for the gold—or this is just, you know, what he does. We can't even get to that question, though, because look who's there: It's the useless tub of shit himself, denying everything and angrily demanding an apology for the suggestion that his business dealings have been anything but pristine.

Now that's what gets me.

(And even if, for some reason, you're inclined to give credence to Speaker Denny's utterly incredible denials, don't you still feel some lingering sense of filth, filth mingled with degradation—some sense that even if by some miraculous chance the big blowhard didn't actually break the law, it's still unspeakably inappropriate for one of the country's most powerful elected officials to be grubbing for speculative riches like some garden-variety real-estate hustler?)

Of course, high-stakes bluffing is built into the modern world of Republicrookism. You know how folks used to say, "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime"? Under New Republicrook principles, the operative motto is, approximately: "You can't prove nuttin', copper." Or I guess not even. It's more like: "I didn't do nuttin', and anybody who says different is a commie, America-hatin' liberal faggot."

I don't know about you, but I for one am sick of it, and I say we need to change the system.

Obviously you can't deny any American his right to bluff his compromised guts out. That's what made this country great. But somewhere there's got to be an escape clause whereby, in effect, once you're caught, you're caught. You know, like in paintball. I don't know anything about paintball except what I've seen in a few excruciatingly tedious TV-series episodes. But I do know that it honors the old-time principle that when you're caught, you're caught.

True, we've had the edifying spectacle of Randy "Duke" Cunningham, the man who couldn't find enough indignant words to tell us how innocent he was, dissolved in those gorgeous Duke Cunningham Tears as he 'fessed up to the high points of what his friendly local U.S. attorney obviously had him dead to rights on. But what about the rest? Where is Tom DeLay doing a perp walk? Or Boo-Hoo Bob Ney holding House Majority Leader John "Ethics? Me?" Boehner hostage with a broken beer bottle to his neck, sneering, "You'll never take me alive, coppers"?

I just can't help thinking that while they should all have the right guaranteed by our Constitution to bluff their way clear through to the bitter end, there should nevertheless be some kind of extra penalty when their bluff is called and they finally have to fold. Don't ask me what, exactly. I haven't worked that part out. But really, I'm not asking for much. Hey, remember, I was willing to settle for Duke Cunningham Tears.

Oh sure, I have my fantasies. Like seeing "Limp Dick" Cheney "quail-hunt" his sorry-ass self on national TV. Or having the half-dozen most powerful Republicrook congressional committee chairmen stranded on a Survivor island with literally nothing to eat except one another.

Or how about this? Each caught crook has to participate in a series of TV "public-service announcement" (PSA) spots explaining in terms understandable to the people whose trust they've spent their public careers abusing: (a) what he did, (b) why exactly it was wrong, and (c) what punishment he thinks he deservse.

Unfortunately for ol' Rush, he's already on record regarding the evils of drug use and the punishment he thinks druggies should get. And that—ol' Rush throwing the book at himself—ought to make for some gripping PSAs. Can Speaker Denny's PSA script-writers top them?



Foaming-at-the-mouth radio talk show host/liar Rush Limbaugh, the posterpig-- along with Ann Coulter-- for real Republican values was arrested at Palm Beach International Airport smuggling drugs into the country after a weekend sex jaunt to the Dominican Republic. Along with the hillbilly heroin (oxycotin) that has become part of the Limbaugh legend, airport officials claim to have found piles of Viagra. According to CBS-TV "Limbaugh entered a plea deal back in April in a previous case where his charge of fraud to conceal information to obtain prescriptions was dropped under the condition he continue undergoing treatment for addiction. Limbaugh had admitted to being addicted to pain killers on his radio program and had entered a rehabilitation program prior to that arrest."

So it looks like Limbaugh has violated the terms of his agreement with the state of Florida. And international drug smuggling is a big deal. I wonder if lard-ass is going to jail this time? And what about buying sex from under-aged girls in third world countries? Isn't that against a law too now?

Limbaugh, who regularly denounces sex and drugs and rock'n'roll on his GOP propaganda show for people incapable of thought processes beyond a garden variety caterpillar, has still not sullied the good name of rock'n'roll with his outrageous hypocritical escapades (although Ann Coulter today claimed to be the world's only non-pot-smoking Deadhead).


No, not the video of Limbaugh in a drug crazed sex orgy during his wild weekend (at least not yet). What John has up now is the video of Olbermann talking about Limbaugh being "detained" at the airport. I'm sure John's got his sources searching every nook and cranny in the D.R. looking for the real tapes. As soon as he has 'em up, I'll let you know! (Tuesday: John's got the audio up of Limbaugh trying to defend himself with lame jokes about erections elections.)


My pal Taylor is a brilliant writer and an impassioned progressive. She has also done more investigative work on the sex trade than anyone I know. Her coverage on Rush's sex tourism is the best in town. I recommend you do some brain tourism at Taylor's blog. Meanwhile, here's a taste of RUSH STOPS BY "SINGLE MAN'S PARADISE."

"Oh, no, I'll listen to anything about sex . ... My friends, I'm a pervert. I like kinky weird sex and I'm going to continue to like kinky weird sex." - Rush Limbaugh

It's a classic dodge. The fat man asks for an international escort. It's a single man's dream when on an exotic island. There is only one problem. The "escort" is almost always underage, at least by American standards, as well as the standards of common decency. I've studied and researched the topic for years, little of which was pleasant.

But that's the thing about sex junkets and dipping your doo-hicky into international... er, watering holes. All bets are off. The rules don't apply. And word to the wise... Just watch out for "Caroline" or you may come home with more than you bargained for.

But if that's not clear enough for you try this. The Dominican Republic is known for being a sexual Disneyland.

"There is always a demand for sex," said one Dominican prostitute as she lounged at one of the town's waterfront bars. "Men will always pay for it, especially in here ... where they can get anything they want at a discount."

Indeed, the Dominican Republic is one of the biggest sex tourism destinations in the world, thanks in part to Internet sites that extol the country as a "single man's paradise."

Of course, for Rush, the Dominican Republic is a perfect stopping off point. He won't find any feminazis down there. The women are as desperate as the women in Ralph Reed's favorite spot, Myanmar.

"The radical left, the Big Labor Union Bosses, and Bill Clinton want to pass a law preventing Chinese from coming to work on the Marianas Islands," the mailer from Reed's firm said. The Chinese workers, it added, "are exposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ" while on the islands, and many "are converted to the Christian faith and return to China with Bibles in hand."

A year earlier, the Department of the Interior -- which oversees federal policy toward the U.S. territory -- presented a very different picture of life for Chinese workers on the islands. An Interior report found that Chinese women were subject to forced abortions and that women and children were subject to forced prostitution in the local sex-tourism industry.

Having done investigative work in the sex trade for years, the whole notion of Rush being stopped when coming from the Dominican Republic is just too delicious not to tie together. Sure, a grown man should never be caught without his Viagra, but I still don't get why the private jet Rush was on stopped in the Dominican Republic in the first place. Could be innocent and another one of those convenient Republican coincidences. But that's where fat men go, baby. Because child prostitutes can't say no.

After 3 divorces, it's easy to understand why Rush might prefer a little docile barely legal babe. However, other rumors for years. I mean, who can forget Rush's obsession with Gore's package in a show that had me in tears I was laughing so hard. Of course, now I know he was drugged out of his mind when he did it, but still. But those rumors are just silly, or is that stogie in his mouth telling the truth?



Last week the CHICAGO TRIBUNE laid out in great detail how Dennis Hastert was able to use his elected position to gobble up a cool $1,000,000 on some land speculation the price of which he was able to manipulate. Hastert, who has been protecting arch Republicrook Jerry Lewis, Chairman of the Republican Criminal Operation known as the House Appropriations Committee, was able to earmark a nice fat $200 million bit of federal tax dollar pork to increase the value of some land he sat on for 2 or 3 years.

Within a few days the WASHINGTON POST reported that the secretive deal actually netted Hastert a $2 million profit. But something else caught my attention. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a little-heard-from California congressloon, Gary Miller, by far the furthest right of all the nutcases who make up the California GOP congressional caucus, when I noticed people in his district were buzzing about large sums of money he was raking in by manipulative real estate speculation. And ditto for close Randy "Duke" Cunningham associate, Ken Calvert.

Using earmarks, Hastert, explains THE POST, "made a $2 million profit last year on the sale of land 5 1/2 miles from a highway project that he helped to finance with targeted federal funds. A Republican House member from California, meanwhile, received nearly double what he paid for a four-acre parcel near an Air Force base after securing $8 million for a planned freeway interchange 16 miles away. And another California GOP congressman obtained funding in last year's highway bill for street improvements near a planned residential and commercial development that he co-owns." These 3 crooked dealers are close with Jerry Lewis and his Republican earmark queen, Letitia White (both currently subjects of an intense FBI investigation).

"For more than a year, the congressional corruption scandal triggered by former lobbyist Jack Abramoff has focused attention on earmarks secured by lawmakers on lobbyists' and government contractors' behalf. Now watchdog groups are combing through lawmakers' land holdings and legislative activities, searching for earmarks that may have boosted the value of those investments.
'The sound bites from politicians have always been that they're doing what's best for their districts, but we're starting to see a pattern that looks like they might be doing what's best for their pocketbooks,' said Keith Ashdown, vice president of the group Taxpayers for Common Sense. The allegation that Hastert used a home-district 'earmark' for his personal enrichment is now at the center of a tussle between the most powerful man in Congress and a new watchdog organization that uncovered the land deal this month." Hastert, of course, hysterically denies any and all wrongdoing-- he is a Republican politician and "deny, deny, deny" is what they teach them in their version of ethics school-- and he is demanding retractions and apologies and everything else that Cunningham said and did (before he broke down and weeped and begged for mercy and wore a wire to help the Feds rat out his crooked associates).

Hastert, of course, has a long history of shady dealings and making vast sums of money through bribes and kickbacks. VANITY FAIR exposed him last year after he took a $500,000 bribe from Turkish agents to prevent the adoption of bipartisan legislation recognizing the Armenian holocaust. With Tom DeLay forced to resign in disgrace, and getting his affairs in order before his inevitable prison sentence, Hastert has become the titular head of the Republican Culture of Corruption. And what everyone in DC and back home in Illinois' 14th CD is wondering is, can he be swept out of office by the son of a preacher man?

The high school ex-wrestling coach-turned-multimillionaire (feeding, greedily, at the public trough for over 20 years), represents a north-central district due west of Chicago stretching nearly to Iowa. (Actually, Hastert represents multi-national corporations and the lobbyists who whore for them but his power derives from his political base in IL-14.) Electorally, Hastert has run far ahead of the GOP ticket, although his vote percentage slipped significantly in the last two cycles (from 74% to 69%) In 2004 Hastert spent $5 million on his campaign while his unknown opponent spent $18,028. Caught up in a more public corruption scandal than in the past-- and facing a far more formidable opponent-- Hastert is in for the battle of his political life this November.

It is rare-- very rare-- for constituents to defeat someone whose national power has brought the district so much pork and until 1994, when Republicans started a whispering campaign falsely accusing Speaker Tom Foley of being gay, no Speaker had been defeated for re-election since the Civil War! If John Laesch doesn't succeed in dislodging Hastert it won't be through lack of the personal qualities that define worthy leadership. And it won't be through lack of motivation. John's younger brother, Sgt. Pete Laesch, currently stationed in Iraq, asked John to run against the gargantuan rubber stamp who represents their district in Congress.

John is 32 years old and grew up in West Africa where his missionary parents were stationed. They moved to a farm in Newark, Illinois when John was 12. He enlisted in the Navy when he was 21 and served as an intelligence analyst in Bahrain, monitoring terrorist activity and analyzing foreign political and military structures, winning numerous citations and meritoriously rising 5 ranks within 3 years. After leaving the military he earned a degree in History from Illinois State University. He volunteered for Dennis Kucinich's campaign and in 2004 worked as campaign manager for progressive Democrat Dr. David Gill. (I was impressed yesterday to see Laesch make an impressive pitch for Gill on Daily Kos, at a time when non-DCCC candidates are scrambling, some desperately, for attention, endorsements and campaign cash. Read his Kos dairy; it shows what kind of a man he is.)

John has embraced the netroots enthusiastically and has run an open, grassroots campaign. I like it when candidates start off reporting to interested citizens rather than to party bosses Inside-the-Beltway. Laesch's outspoken criticism of Bush's war and his public embrace of progressive values-driven solutions to controversial issues hasn't made him a darling on D.C. Democratic Party bosses. But with yard signs sprouting up all over DeKalb, Kendall, Lee, DuPage, Henry, and Whiteside Counties, John's independent approach might well be exactly the right prescription for victory in a district where Democrats are heavily outnumbered by Republicans.

But even in a Republican-leaning district, like the 14th, Laesch's commonsense approach to the crucial issues of the day are far more in sync with voters' concerns than Hastert's, whose voting record defines rubber stamp support for Bush's catastrophic agenda. On health care, local development (and resultant skyrocketing property taxes), education, a realistic national energy, etc, Hastert has become more and more completely out of touch with Main Street as he has utterly embraced Wall Street. Laesch's positions grow out of his Main Street values and out of his sturdy, straight-arrow all-American character.

John already won his primary and now Democrats are united behind his race to replace an out-of-touch, entrenched, corrupt Speaker of the House with a fresh, energetic young man with integrity, strength and vision. John needs help to get out his message. I can't imagine a candidate as forthright and independent as John is going to get sufficient help from Rahm Emanuel's DCCC. It's up to us.

With a smidgeon of bipartisan common sense, we could easily deal with the wee problems cropping up among "entrepreneurial" Congressmembers


Reading Howie's report (below) on Orange County congressional sweetheart Ken Calvert, it occurred to me that these little problems could be dealt with by means of some simple, common-sense reforms, which should easily gain bipartisan support. Just to get the ball rolling, here are a couple of samples:

(1) We could start with a constitutional amendment banning the use of government funds to pay for hookers. Once the amendment passes and is formally adopted, it will probably require appropriate enabling legislation—whereby, for example, all government officials will be required to file quarterly reports of all hooker usage, with documentation that no taxpayer money was used in the payments.

(Depending on the wording of the amendment, it might be left to the courts to decide on the constitutionality and/or legality of HookerPACs.)

(2) Both houses of Congress should consider a system of graft regulation that would return a portion of members' loot to the U.S. Treasury, perhaps starting with what we might think of as the "lollapalooza" committtees, like the House Appropriations Committee, through which essentially every dollar the federal government spends is funneled.

There would undoubtedly be philosophical disagreements to work out:

• Advocates of "progressive" graft reform would probably want to see the share paid to the Treasury rise as the level of collections does, so that members would be required to pay, say, 5% of the first $100K, 12.5% up to $500K, 15% up to $1M, 20% up to $5M, and 25% of everything above that.

• By contrast, proponents of "free enterprise" graft reform might agree that it's right for members to "pay their dues" on their initial take, but that as "earnings" increase, it would be un-American to muzzle initiative. So, perhaps, of the first $50K it would be necessary to pay 40%, then 25% up to $250K, 5% up to $500K, and everything above that level is free and clear. (These reformers might argue that, as it would be inappropriate for the U.S. Treasury to profit from graft, the money should go instead to some other recipient, like a network of GraftPACs controlled by the Republican National Committee.)



In southern California there's an old joke about leaving L.A. and driving south "behind the Orange Curtain," a reference to the authoritarian nightmare that was post WWII Eastern Europe (behind the Iron Curtain). In the 60s and 70s Orange County could be written off as the "Bavaria of America" and compared to the Soviet satellites but politically a lot has changed since then. In fact one of Orange County's congressional districts-- formerly held by GOP nutcase "B-1 Bob" Dornan is now safe Democratic territory where Democrat Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-47) gets 60% of the vote and where Kerry beat Bush 56%-41%.

Change has been a lot slower in CA-44. This district, sprawling through the endless suburbs of southern Orange County and western Riverside County is improving... but more slowly. Ask anyone in the district what the biggest problem is and they'll all be reading out of the same hymn book: development and the problems that come with development from overtaxed public services (like education), runaway local taxes, traffic, crushing corruption... And the 44th CD has been represented in Congress by a greasy former real estate speculator as sleazy as the day is long (or, in summer, short), Ken Calvert. A gross little porky-pig lookalike, he was once arrested-- as a congressman-- with a prostitute giving him head in his car. (Yes, yes-- he's as much for Republican "family values" as the rest of them and, like most of them, flatly refuses to honor his word to step down after 6 terms.)

Even as a Congressman, Calvert is always on the make for a quick buck. His latest trick, a fave of many Republicans (they must all use the same financial advisor-- and ethics advisor), is buying cheap land and then using GOP crime boss Jerry Lewis to get dodgey earmarks secretly added to bills that directly increase the value of the property. House Speaker Denny Hastert was just caught with a $2 million dollar profit at this game, as were several Republicrook California congressmen, Gary Miller and Calvert.

But now Calvert is going for the really big bucks. Enough of the grubby and unseemly real estate deals that have been making him richer and richer. The chiseling far right extremist wants a shot at Lewis' uber-lucrative House Appropriations Committee, which oversees a trillion dollars annually. If anyone has proven unworthy of the kind of trust needed for a position like that, Calvert is the one. Now being investigated for his dubious connections to the endless scandals swirling around his former close colleague Randy "Duke" Cunningham, as well as Thomas Kontogiannis, Brent Wilkes, Jerry Lewis and the crooked GOP lobbying firm run by Bill Lowery, Calvert wants to clean up before the Republicans lose national power in November. Ironically the seat almost has Calvert's name on it. Before he was found guilty of accepting bribes, it was Cunningam's seat and after that Tom DeLay grabbed it for a brief by highly lucrative few months before his criminal behavior forced him to resign from Congress.

Last December and January I did a couple of posts about a little trip to Saudi Arabia arranged for Calvert and Duke Cunningham by Thomas Kontogiannis that seemed to go beyond just garden variety Republican culture of corruption greed and avarice, straying into the territory defined in the Constitution as treason. But neither this, his real estate swindling nor anything else seems likely to stop Calvert's obsession with getting his hands on the Appropriations Committee seat.

Unless he's indicted before that it is unlikely that anything will stop him-- including the district's Republican-leaning voters. The district gave Bush nearly 60% of its vote in 2004 (6% more than in 2000) and in 2004 Calvert beat Louis Vanderberg 62%-35%. Calvert spent $687,000 and Vandenberg spent $6,196. In November Vandenberg is running against Calvert again. I just spoke with him on the phone for 15 minutes.

He's incredibly knowledgeable and completely immersed in all the contemporary historical and political currents our country is going through now. He has no intention of trying to raise the $300,000 required by the DCCC before they were get involved in a congressional race. In fact, like so many Americans, Vandenberg feels certain that the corrupting influence of money on our political system is so corrosive that it undermines all the premises of representative democracy. Laughing, he told me if he wins, he'll thank Calvert. He says he's running so that in the future of someone asks him what he did to try to prevent what is being done to our country now by the Bush Regime, he'll have a good answer. Damn! He'd make an amazing congressman!


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Quote of the day: The amazingly funny Jeff Garlin confirms that you can be a star to your fans and also a total unknown to the doorman


"That is my level of fame. People are either excited to see me or have no clue I'm even a member of the human race. I have a sense of humor about that."
—comic-actor-director Jeff Garlin (aka Jeff Greene of Curb Your Enthusiasm), after going unrecognized by the doorman at a comedy club where he would be performing the next night and also "gaped and pointed at" by people in line, from a wildly affectionate profile in yesterday's New York Times Magazine

HONORABLE MENTION—Bob Herbert takes a dim view of using war for political fun 'n' games

"If hell didn't exist, we'd have to invent it. We'd need a place to send the public officials who are playing politics with the lives of the men and women sent off to fight George W. Bush's calamitous war in Iraq."

—Bob Herbert, in his NYT column today, "Playing Politics With Iraq"

Sunday, June 25, 2006



If you don't remember DWT Montana correspondant, John Rodwick, please take a look at his May 26 post, "Tester Time-- A Man Who Can Make Big Sky Country Proud in The U.S. Senate". John and his family are up in a log cabin for the summer with no internet access but they do have a TV and this evening he got by a cafe with wi-fi so he could send us a report on the Tester-Burns debate.

My wife, son and I watched the debate this morning between Jon Tester and Conrad Burns and it was great to watch Jon dance circles around Conrad! Conrad's verbal skills and ability to think on his feet are on a par with W's so sometimes the camera would cut to Jon while Conrad was responding, or trying to, and Jon was just chuckling and I could almost hear him saying to himself that this is like taking candy from a baby.

Conrad used, endlessly, the same old tired phrases like "you liberals" and "the other side of the aisle" has prevented us from doing what we need to do etc. But at one point he said he had voted for tax increases, then corrected himself, looked a bit sheepish and then uttered some other silly homily. I almost felt sorry, or at least embarrased for him and emabarrased that we would even be having a debate about who is more qualified. I felt like someone should have just stepped in and said, "Excuse me Conrad buit you need to step down right now, no waiting for an election; you are a doddering fool."

Tester speaks his mind so well and he just kept hammering home his main point about how there needs to be some vision and a plan, whether we are talking about Iraq, energy independence or border security. When they were sparring about spending Jon laughed again and told Conrad that he spends the people's money "like a drunken sailor." It was perfect.

Conrad got in to asking if Jon would open up ANWAR and Jon was great when he started talking about how short sigted that is at that, once again, we need a vision that looks into the future instead of the next 5 years.

That's about it from the front. I'd like to be hopeful and say that the elction is a lock for Tester but like my wife said when I was talking about how any fool could see who the better man is, that other people, Republicrooks she said actually, probably watched it and thought Conrad did a great job. I just don't know how many of those folks there are around here but I'm looking forward to finding out in November.


You can watch the whole Tester-Burns debate for yourself and see if John's wife got it right-- that anyone, no matter how brain dead could have thought Burns did well-- here. And here's the second 10 minutes of the debate:



Dick Durbin (D-IL) is no Barack Obama but he is a really good senator. His voting record is stellar (except for his proclivity to support Big Business interests over consumer and worker interests a little more than a Democrat should). And maybe that's the basis of his willingness to lay waste to the Democratic Party if it takes that to support his crony and fellow Big Business hack, George Bush's and Ann Coulter's favorite Democrat, Joe Lieberman.

This morning, the Democrat's senate whip-- who should understand party discipline and is no longer qualified for a leadership position in the party and should resign immediately from that role-- was a guest on This Week with George Stephanopoulos where he was asked if he would support Ned Lamont if Connecticut voters chose him in the August 8 primary (as looks more and more likely everyday). Durbin said regardless of the outcome of the primary, he would support Lieberman. I guess he and Schumer must be talking a lot.

Dick Durbin may be a hero to corporate lobbyists and old guard DLC Lieberman dead-enders. But Russ Feingold never ceases to give grassroots Democrats-- you know, the real ones who haven't been contaminated by too many years Inside the Beltway-- reasons to love him. Today on MEET THE PRESS Feingold stated the obvious-- and what every Democrat shouldn't have to think twice about saying-- that he would be supporting whomever the majority of Connecticut Democrats vote for in the primary. (He also mentioned that his positions are more in line with Ned Lamont's but that he would support Lieberman if Lieberman is the Democratic nominee.)

Let's keep our eyes on Durbin. And anyone who wants to show him what they think of his insult to Connecticut and to grassroots Democrats everywhere, here's an ACT BLUE Page that has buckets for Ned Lamont and for Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriots Fund (open for biz 24/7).


He only said he would support Lieberman in the primary, not after he loses it. He was weasley and slimy about avoiding the question in regard to what he will do when Lamont beats Lieberman on August 8.

Meanwhile, another Lieberhund, Dick Morris, may be looking to break his perfect record of being wrong about everything always. Questioned by Taegan Goddard about the Connecticut race, Morris has ill-tidings for his fellow corporate shill:

"I think Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) will lose the primary and will be so crippled by the defeat and Ned Lamont (D) so empowered, that he will lose the general election as an independent. Sen. Jacob Javits (R-NY), in 1980, could have avoided defeat by not fighting the Republican Primary against Sen. Al D'Amato (R-NY) and running as an independent. But D'Amato was so empowered by the primary win and Javits so disempowered that he won the general election with Javits running a poor third. Lieberman's correct course of action is to withdraw from the primary and run as an independent. It is the only way he can get re-elected."

Quote of the day: Alan Wolfe and Frank Rich investigate why conservative "thought" leads directly to Bush-style government malfeasance


"Iraq failed for the same reasons that all conservative public policy efforts fail. Refusing to acknowledge the importance of government while relying on it to achieve your objectives causes the same kind of chaos in foreign policy that it does in matters closer to home."
Alan Wolfe, in his article "Why Conservatives Can't Govern" in the July-August Washington Monthly

I expect to have more to say about the Wolfe article, and also about today's Frank Rich column, which sent me to it, "The Road From K Street to Yusufiya." For now, let me just offer one more tease from Wolfe, followed by Rich's parting shot.

Wolfe: "[T]oday's conservatives have no problem passing on the costs of their present madness to future generations. Governing well would require them to use the bully-pulpit of office to educate and uplift their base. But since contemporary conservatives get their political energy from angry voices of rage and revenge, they will always blame others for the failures built into their ideology."

Rich: "Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration, the very model of big government that the current administration vilifies, never would have trusted private contractors to run the show. Somehow that unwieldy, bloated government took less time to win World War II than George W. Bush's privatized government is taking to blow this one."

You really should read both. Hey, it's Sunday—what else do you have to do?

(I hear that blogosphere types are busy having hissy fits about an attack on Kos by David "Silly Boy" Brooks in today's NYT. I had no idea anyone paid any attention to Silly Boy. I mean, if he gets any sillier, he'll soon be soaring off, from sheer substantive weightlessness, into the upper reaches of the chumposphere.)

Saturday, June 24, 2006



One of the nice things about grassroots politics is that you meet really cool people, candidates and their supporters alike. I just got an incredible e-mail from Rick Penberthy's campaign manager, Kevin Cate, telling me he didn't have words to describe this video he sent me. Neither do I. It's Bruce Springsteen singing "Bring 'em Home." It's very moving.

With even folks on the right worried that Ann Coulter has "gone too far," the slimers try to equate her with Al Franken and Michael Moore


One question I don't lose sleep over is (gasp), Has that nice Ann Coulter gone too far? (You know, with that diatribe in her book against the 9/11 widows.)

I have a funny history with our Annie. For a good while, I used to listen to Howie rage about her, and I assumed I knew who she was—yet another indistinguishable right-wing talking head, I thought. THEN I SAW HER "IN ACTION." Yikes! I couldn't even begin to describe it. But surely you've seen . . . it.

Eventually, I had to swear off watching Bill Maher, when it turned out that, since he considers her one of his best friends, she could slither her way into my living room at any time if I allowed HIM in. No, thank you. My only interest in her after that was depressed wonderment that you can actually make a living being that ignorant and that violent and abusive.

I have a new interest, though, and that is Bill O'Reilly's enunciation (joined by Rush and the Lesser Flacks, I assume) of the right's latest Bogus Equivalency: Annie C on their side, Al Franken and Michael Moore on ours.

False equivalencies are of course a prime tool of the right-wing demagogues. If Rachel Maddow ever does the compilation we need of her daily "Underbelly" segments, which isolate and spotlight favorite techniques from their playbook, this one should turn up with some frequency. And it drives me nuts.

Yes, Al Franken and Michael Moore have beliefs, strongly held ones. But they are also sticklers for truth. In their different ways, they are both obsessive about digging out the truth of the subjects they cover. They certainly never spew raw prejudice, which is what our Annie pretty much only does. She doesn't care the slightest about facts or truth or reality, and I mean this absolutely literally. All she has to offer is the psychotic "truth" of her unprocessed mental cesspool of lies and stupidities.

I keep saying that for me the single most interesting revelation in David Brock's confessional Blinded by the Right is his wildly belated awakening—after he was already a highly paid and esteemed "journalist" of the right—to the fact that what he had learned to do from his right-wing mentors had nothing to do with journalism. At least in theory, journalists approach a story by trying to find out what the story is. We all understand that hardly any journalists really do that all the time. They set out on a story with at least some mental model of what it is, and too many of them are reluctant to let go of those preconceptions as they undertake, you know, actual reporting.

But traditional journalists at least pretend that that's what they're doing. Brock came to understand that his brethren didn't even have that as a goal. What they did was start with a polemical position—an extreme right-wing one, naturally—and then shake the bushes for any shreds of fact or fiction to dress it up. At a certain point they don't even care whether their window dressing has any basis in reality, only whether it can be portrayed as having some.

When Brock came to do a mea culpa for his sliming of Anita Hill, it occurred to him that while he was mucking up the slime, he never really worried about whether any of it was believable. The only test was whether it was stuff with a "source" which gullible people could be made to believe.

(For that matter, anyone old enough to remember the Anita Hill ruckus at Clarence Thomas's Supreme Court confirmation hearings may remember the contrast between the Democrats and the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Those poor befuddled Dems kept trying to figure out: Were the Hill charges about Thomas true? Meanwhile the crafty Repubs—led by Arlen Specter, in what remains one of the vilest public performances in American political history—focused on only one thing: getting the obvious slimeball confirmed. In other words, winning.)

More power to David Brock for eventually seeing the light. Look how many of those right-wing bogus journalists never do. It's interesting that in his remade configuration, he has become a tiger for journalistic truth.

The process of right-wing phony journalism is also, of course, the way Republican "talking points" work. Oh, there are probably a few really, really dumb Republican pols, and a few really dumb Fox "newshounds" (Sean Hannity? John Gibson?), so stupid that they actually believe the manure that Karl Rove and his minions dish up for them. But they can't all be that stupid.

No, I assume that most of them repeat the vile lies, mindlessly and joyfully, because they have the screwy notion that they're in possession of some kind of Higher Truth, and anything you say or do in the service of Higher Truth is justified.