Saturday, June 30, 2007



You've probably never dreamed about lining Republican lawmakers and propagandists up against a wall, shoving a last cig into their faces and yelling, "Ready, Aim..." I didn't need to see Sicko for those images to getting buzzin' 'round my brain. They're never far away. And when Moore used the refrain from the Rolling Stone's "Street Fighting Man"... well, there was a visceral reaction. Just after the turn of the century, when I used to have trouble sleeping-- before I switched to a raw food diet; now I fall asleep in less than a minute-- I never counted sheep. I always counted dangerous threats to my country... swinging from lamp posts. Yep, I'm heartless. I had to get up halfway through the movie and go stand in a dark corner so I could cry without embarrassing myself in front of everyone.

The first time I met Howard Dean, then the little known, ex-governor of Vermont and a long-shot presidential candidate who no one was taking seriously, I had already endorsed John Edwards and written his campaign a check. Dr. Dean came over to my house for breakfast and I served him a variation of what my friends-- and their friends-- call a Howie breakfast, in this case, half a papaya with blueberries, pomegranate seeds, strawberries, lemon juice, freshground flax seeds and pecans. Then we talked about health care; well... he talked and I listened. His vision for a not-for-profit health care system-- a system for health instead-- didn't make me think any less of John Edwards. I just never thought about him or any other candidate again-- until after the public media assassination of Dean in Iowa. (And then the dream was over and it was back to politics as usual and I voted for Edwards in the California primary. Hillary can count on me on the first Tuesday of November to vote for her less evil ass than whatever more evil ass the fascists put up.)

Anyway, Moore uses Sicko to get across that same vision. He does it really well, although you can count on every reactionary asshole you ever heard of crawling out of the woodwork to attack him for it. People's true colors will come out, believe me. His film is truly revolutionary and it will be incumbent on all those desperate to maintain the status quo-- regardless of political party-- to attack it, and attack it with a fury. Their hatred and fears will fall on Moore in the next week like a ton of bricks, like a million tons of bricks. Google is even using the fear of it to sell advertising to health care companies! "We can place text ads, video ads, and rich media ads in paid search results or in relevant websites within our ever-expanding content network. Whatever the problem, Google can act as a platform for educating the public and promoting your message."

Take a look at what one of the Republican Party's highest paid whores corporate lobbyists had to say about Sicko. And being a Hollywood actor, he also "reviewed" the movie in a GOP propaganda sheet. And Moore responded, a bit more eloquently than the old geezer could possibly be expected to handle.

The movie is everywhere in L.A. and it was sold out all over town. I had to go to three theaters before I found one that could sell me a ticket-- and that was for a showing 3 hours later. It was worth the wait. I just wish I had brought some kleenex. It'll probably be the biggest grossing opening for a documentary since Fahrenheit 911-- and that'll drive the corporate health care industry and their paid political whores-- of both parties, but especially of the far right party-- into a frenzy of attack and recrimination. I loved the part about how the government in France fears the people-- so they do things the people want-- unlike here where the people fear the government-- so the government serves the interests of insiders and paymasters. Here's the preview:


Tomorrow's Washington Post has an article by a Chicago doctor, Thomas Fisher, who points out-- as Moore did early in the film-- that Sicko isn't about the millions of Americans without health insurance; it's mostly about the millions of Americans with health insurance, health insurance designed to screw them over and make them die. Dr. Fisher works with poor people and poor people of color who have no health insurance and grossly inadequate health care. And they're much worse off than the folks in Moore's movie, the ones whose stories made me cry for two hours and then sent me running to the shooting range so I could get my frustrations out and not do something sillier than writing a blog post.
Here's the view from the front lines: Hospital waiting times of 10, 12 hours. Emergency rooms so packed that ambulances must be turned away. People suffering from ailments ranging from organ failure to psychotic breakdowns, all preventable.

These issues affect not only individuals, but whole communities and the health outlets serving them. I sympathize with those who are unhappy about the quality of their insured care, but I'm more worried about those with no insurance at all. The bigger problem is that we all want the finest of health care, and as a result, many of us -- largely black and brown -- are left with nothing.

One scene in Sicko does deal directly with race: A white woman questions whether her husband, who is black and has kidney cancer, would receive better care if he were white. I can't speak to their situation, but my experience is that the influence of race and racism on health care is rarely that obvious. But it is unmistakable, nonetheless.

Although not for the people of color who work for the man in the Big House, like Condi, Clarence Thomas and Ken Blackwell.

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While the GOP acclimates itself to the electoral devastation headed their way in 2008-- and puts all its hopes on nurturing future shit-eating candidate General BetrayUs-- GOP members of Congress are doing all they can to minimize the damage to their own careers. Voters are so thoroughly disgusted with Bush's Iraq escalation that respectable Republican senators who have abdicated any semblance of oversight for the past 7 years-- like Richard Lugar, Jon Warner and George Voinovich-- are now calling for Bush to forget his grand designs for making Iraq into an American puppet state. The new CBS poll out today shows 77% of Americans think the war is going badly.

And near universal disgust with Bush, Cheney, their disastrous regime and it's catastrophic policies and venal agenda aren't the only things that bode ill for the Republicans at the polls next year. Even Republican voters have had enough! The Republican Party crafted themselves a brain dead, zombie-like base, incapable of independent thought and Pavlovian in it's response to the dog whistles from Hate Talk Radio and Fox-TV-- commercial enterprises catering to the lowest-information groups and most bigoted people in the country. And now Republican politicians, who were all too willing to feed that tiger are realizing that they're the next meal. The work they did on Bush's failed immigration legislation is killing McCain's presidential hopes and wrecking Lindsey Graham's hopes for re-election to the Senate. If not for the fact that the Bush Regime had the FBI arrest the far right Republican who was opposing Graham, South Carolina Treasurer Tom Ravenel, for selling cocaine, Graham would have had virtually no chance of even winning the GOP nomination. Now Republicans in South Carolina are trying to make a deal to support a Blue Dog Democrat just to teach Graham and other Republican hacks a lesson. Only 31% of South Carolina voters approve of Graham's job performance. And fewer Republicans like him than Democrats!

And the harder the "Amnesty Republicans" fight back, the more the base turns against them. Almost all the rubber stamp senators facing re-election, who supported Bush on everything and who have been supportive of the immigration bill-- from Saxby Chamberpot (GA) on the extreme right to the quartet of fake moderates Coleman (MN), Collins (ME), Smith (OR) & Sununu (NH)-- abandoned Bush at the last minute and bowed to the intense, searing pressure from the dominant Know Nothing wing of the party. Yesterday the GOP's hapless chairman, Florida Senator Mel Martinez, was still defending the failed immigration legislation. He's very lucky he isn't up for re-election next year, but his carping on the issue is ruining the chances for other Republicans to recover from the calamity. He's still calling the Republican base "the voices of negativity." They don't like that and Martinez' approval ratings in Florida are even worse than Graham's and almost as bad as Cheney's! Only 23% of Florida voters think Martinez is doing a good job. I've seen indicted Republican congressmen on their way to prison with higher approval ratings.

Today is the last day of the quarter, a time period Inside the Beltway hacks and pundits look at to figure out who is a serious candidate and who isn't. So if you're thinking about helping out some progressive candidates, today would be a good day. All of our candidates are on our Blue America page and I'd like to especially point out a number of incumbents who have been very steady and unflinching in their support for all of our values and ideals, especially Steve Cohen (TN), Carol Shea-Porter (NH), Tom Allen (ME), Jerry Nadler (NY), John Hall (NY), and Hilda Solis (CA). They deserve our appreciation. Also very much deserving our appreciation are real fighters who came close to beating Republican jerks in 2006 and who are going for it again, especially Angie Paccione (CO), Victoria Wulsin (OH), Eric Massa (NY), John Laesch (IL), Charlie Brown (CA), Darcy Burner (WA) and Donna Edwards (MD), whose opponent is a Liebermanlike fake Democrat and, I'm happy to announce, will be our Blue America guest next Saturday at 2pm, EST.

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They were both invented in Hollywood, but have you ever seen them in the same room at the same time?

The public has looked over the 10 old white dwarves who have put themselves forward as successors to George W. Bush. And the publicv has, collectively, puked. Oops... who will stop Hillary? Must... stop... Hillary. Disinterring Ronald Reagan was quickly taken off the table and, one after another there have been moves to prop up one of the dwarves. They've all failed. Rudy McRomney will never be president-- starting with the fact that none of them can win the GOP nomination. But someone has to win... right? The party can't just skip this one and run General BetrayUs in 2012, right? Yes, there has to be a sacrificial pig put up, like that old Dole guy in 1996.

So some wise old heads looked around at the list of reactionaries on the long list of Republicans on the Free Scooter Mandela Committee and they came up with a long-forgotten ex-pol, a contemporaryish actor, Freddy Thompson. A few days ago DWT readers got to watch a video showing how completely unfit Freddy Thompson would be as a candidate-- above and beyond the two decades as a slimy Inside the Beltwat lobbyist part of his resume.

Thompson has been trying to hold his appearances down to backwater gatherings in South Carolina, where all you have to do is scream "build a wall" and "support the troops" a few times and they want to crown you king. But sooner or later he was going to have to leave the Old Confederacy and come up to the U.S. This week ole Freddy popped up inNew Hampshire, a high info state that the rest of the states count on to separate the wheat from the chaff. The Republicans in the Granite State took a look and found... all chaff. They were "decidedly underwhelmed... 'He's got a nice voice. But there was nothing there. He's for apple pie and motherhood. He's going to have to say what he's for.'" That's Freddy!
...He left some Republicans thinking he needs more work before his nascent campaign matches the media hype it's gotten in advance.

The former Tennessee senator with the baritone drawl showed up Thursday in New Hampshire, the site of the first primary voting, and gave a speech that lasted only nine minutes, skipping over hot-button issues such as Iraq and immigration to invoke platitudes about freedom and strength.

He left more than a few Republicans disappointed.

One serious conservative donor took a look and saw another empty suit (like Willard). "He looks good onstage, but I don't know if he has the gravitas, It seems like he's trying to win over conservatives, but I'm still not sure he has the credentials. I'm worried he's trying to get by on his celebrity.''

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Remember when we did the vlog session with John Laesch a month or so ago? Christina put together a memorable event built around that and I got to meet some of the best progressive minds in Chicago. One was a 29 year old math professor named Daniel Biss who Christina was especially keen on me meeting. And now I'm keen on you meeting him. Daniel is running for State Representative from a district just north of Chicago, the 17th. It's a Democratic district with an unimpressive squishy Republican rep, just like the congressional district it overlaps (Kirk's). The district includes a bit of Evanston, where Daniel lives, plus  parts of Skokie and Wilmette, as well as Winnetka, Glencoe, Northfield and Glenview. Kerry and Gore each beat Bush handily here. Obama swept the area when he ran for Senate. Beth Coulson, the current Rep., isn't a monstrosity; but she is a Republican and she supports her party's leaders and their venal and destructive agenda. She has enjoyed support from one-issue liberal groups like the Sierra Club and the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council, whose heads are too far up their butts to be able to understand why Republicans are their enemies.

Daniel Biss is anything but wishy-washy or squishy. He's a genuine progressive leader with a powerful understanding of what government's role in society should be. "People in this district," he told me, "believe government is capable of benefiting people. The Republican Party functions as if government has to be kept out of the way." This primitive, anti-social Republican outlook helps draw the distinction between Daniel and Coulson. Mathematicians are logical and, above all else, they are problem solvers. Not only is that different from a Republican, that is different from most politicians of any stripe. It goes beyond the intellectual dishonesty that makes the political system a cesspool. Daniel, who graduated from Harvard and MIT, is a guy I found intellectually rigorous.

He finds the notorious shortsightedness engendered by our politics to be unhelpful to people and their problems and issues. "They're incentivized to focus on the 2-year election cycle rather than the 20-year plan. As an academic, I've spent my whole career thinking about long-term projects and goals. I think it's no coincidence that the issues I stress most, education and environmental policy... these are places where common sense dictates that making major changes now is a great long-term investment, and yet our politicians can't seem to bring themselves to make that investment, because they're too caught up in the short term."

He's actually a guy who has spent a lot of time seriously considering what it means to be a progressive. "I keep coming back to etymology: progressives like progress, which means that we're focused on the future. Believing in a better future has to also mean planning for and making a better future. And I find it flabbergasting how little of that goes on in our politics today."

Illinois, one of the richest states in America, is 48th in the country in dollars spent per pupil. "In the last legislative session there was a bill to increase the education funding level per pupil by a few hundred dollars-- rather than the thousand or more that many people feel is absolutely necessary-- and [in a party line vote] Coulson voted against it."

It doesn't look like she's in a position to do anything for her constituents even if she wanted to. She's boxed in between the progressive and moderate voters of the 17th on the one hand and her own crazy, incompetent party leaders-- the ones who imported Alan Keyes to run for Senate-- on the other hand.

Daniel got his political start as a grassroots organizer, after despairing over the river of misdeeds flowing out of the Bush Regime. He organized volunteers for Kerry and three congressional candidates, but with Democrats controlling every facet of Illinois government, he sees dysfunction where there could be a model for good government. He is hoping to help build a new independent power based within the Democratic Party-- a coalition of workers, middle class African-Americans, people in suburbs not enamored of a Chicago machine politics that spits up corrupt reactionaries like Rahm Emanuel and Dan Lipinksi, latinos newly galvanized by the immigration issue, etc. He hopes to open debate in the party, debate that has never been welcome in the old style political machines.

Daniel Biss is the kind of young leader we need to help build a Democratic Party that will be worth something. There are 65,000 registered voters in the 17th and he intends on meeting every last one of them. We can help him. Remember, Illinois practically has no campaign finance laws and the big corporations have a history of buying elections. Campaign mailers and even cable TV spots are not prohibitively expensive... but they cost something. Daniel is one of us, a friend of Rick Perlstein's and Christina Siun's. Let's welcome him to Blue America and help him raise the money he needs to conduct a competitive campaign. Today at 2pm, EST (1 pm in Chicago), Daniel will join us at Firedoglake for a discussion.

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Friday, June 29, 2007



Let's start the 4th of July weekend off with a bang!




Together, they covered up for Bush and made it worse-- much worse

There are very few senators who glom on to another senator and just copy their every move; most have more self respect. But there are always an exception or two. I've noticed that Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas' pathetic reactionary senator-- well the woman one; the male pathetic, reactionary is Mark Pryor-- always copies the equally pathetic and reactionary Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, the Democrats' most endangered incumbent-- not Republican enough for the Republicans and too Republican for the Democrats. The Senate will be a far better place without her. But what will Blanche do? I guess she'll just have to find someone else to mimic. Susan Collins (R-ME) did. For her entire senatorial career she has basically just done whatever Maine's senior Senator, Olympia Snowe did. Their voting records are very close, although Collins is always a little more likely to hew to the GOP line and it is always a big drama when Snowe takes an independent position and poor Collins gets confused and upset trying to figure out what to do.

But now she doesn't have to worry about that any longer. She's finished copying Olympia Snowe. Bizarrely, she has chosen a new mentor, Joe Lieberman, like herself, a reflexive rubber stamp for Bush and Cheney, each from a progressive state where there is a need to cover that posture up at every opportunity. This week the Lewiston Sun Journal blew the whistle on Collins-- at least in terms of the escalation in and occupation of Iraq. Republican Snowe agrees with Democrats Mike Michaud and Tom Allen that Mainers want the U.S. out of Iraq. Like her new role model, Lieberman, Collins is sticking with Bush and Cheney on that one.

Just as her re-election campaign kicks off-- with a Lieberman-sponsored fundraiser-- Collins finds herself the odd man out. Senator Snowe acknowledges that Iraq is "the paramount issue in Maine, as it is across America." Collins' opponent, Rep. Tom Allen, is happy to reach across the partisan divide on this and welcome Senator Snowe aboard. He's been pointing out the folly of Bush's policies in Iraq from the very beginning. He says it's the top issue in the state. "People are overwhelmingly looking for an exit strategy and support setting a deadline for getting our troops out of harm's way," said U.S. Rep. Tom Allen's spokesman, Mark Sullivan. Michaud agrees with Snowe and Allen, explaining that his constituents "have consistently and overwhelmingly called for an end to American military participation in Iraq."

So while the 2 Democrats who represent between them the whole state, and Senator Snowe, who also represents the whole state, claim their constituents, in Snowe's words, "range from those looking for our present course in Iraq to end or change dramatically, to those who are calling for phasing out or completely withdrawing our troops," Collins seems to think she represents a different place that isn't Maine. Of course, it isn't Connecticut either, but her deceptive rhetoric is very reminiscent of... well, you guessed... Joe Lieberman's.
A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said Iraq is a big concern, but not the top one.

Unlike the other three, Collins' office said the consensus from constituents isn't to get out of Iraq right away, or even soon. Her constituents have many different opinions about the war, said spokesman Kevin Kelley.

However, Collins "agrees with Mainers who believe that the current strategy in Iraq has failed to achieve the goal of a peaceful, stable democracy," Kelley said.

Collins has said that if President George W. Bush's surge strategy does not demonstrate results later this year, "Congress should consider all options including a gradual but significant withdrawal of our troops next year."

Collins is about to find out that most Mainers have already made up their minds about Bush's escalation and they don't agree with her footdragging or her mimicking of Lieberman's reactionary policies. Lieberman has, however, managed to get his K Street buddies to donate huge amounts of lobbyist cash to Collins' campaign. I urge all DWT readers to consider a donation-- even $5 or $10-- to Tom Allen, someone who has consistently opposed Bush's and Cheney's toxic agenda and will be a fantastic replacement for Collins in the Senate. One Joe Lieberman is more than enough. Please donate here.

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Today Slate asked liberals and moderates if they're sorry they didn't fight Roberts' nomination when Bush put him forward. And today some of my pals in Montana were berating the execrable Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from their state, Mike Lange. There aren't enough bad things anyone could ever say about Mike Lange. He's human garbage on two legs and anyone who votes for him should have a thorough psychological examination. But who is he running against? Max Baucus. The only good thing you can say about Baucus is that he's a little better than Lange-- although on Alito and Roberts, and on countless other crucial issues, there is no difference whatsoever.

In this morning's Washington Post E.J. Dionne wrote a "Just say no" column, Not One More Roberts or Alito.
The Senate's Democratic majority-- joined by all Republicans who purport to be moderate-- must tell President Bush that this will be their answer to any controversial nominee to the Supreme Court or the appellate courts.

Yes, they must. But E.J. is no fool. He knows what hacks reside in the Senate Democratic caucus. And what Republican moderates? Did even one Republican "moderate" stand up against Alito or Roberts? The answer is "no." The fake moderates who try to claim they are "independent," rubber stamp trash like Sununu, Coleman, Collins, Smith... they all voted to confirm, happily. And among the Democrats E.J. seeks to rally? It wasn't just former Democrat Joe Lieberman who thought Roberts would be a great Supreme Court Chief Justice. As many Democrats voted for him as opposed him, 22. And although fewer Democrats backed Alito, it was only three fewer.

Who is E.J. going to rally? Max Baucus (MT)? Mary Landrieu (LA)? Mark Pryor (AR)? Blanche Lincoln (AR)? Tom Carper (DE)? One of the reactionary Nelsons (NE & FL)? Good luck! These people are not on our side. They didn't accidentally vote for Roberts and Alito. They may claim they didn't have the right information to vote against Bush's attack on Iraq but they certainly had all the information they needed to know how Roberts and Alito would be voting once they got on the Supreme Court. They got what they wanted, what makes them comfortable.

E.J. says the Senate should refuse to even hold hearings on a future Bush nominee (God forbid) "unless the president reaches agreement with the Senate majority on a mutually acceptable list of nominees." But E.J. isn't the Senate Majority Leader; Harry Reid is. And Reid depends on the Baucuses and the Landrieus and the Nelsons.
We now know that the president's two nominees, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, are exactly what many of us thought they were: activist conservatives intent on leading a judicial counterrevolution. Yesterday's 5 to 4 ruling tossing out two school desegregation plans was another milestone on the court's march to the right.

Any senator who claims he didn't know that before the vote is too stupid, incompetent, and dense to hold the job.
If another conservative replaces a member of the court's moderate-to-liberal bloc, the country will be set on a conservative course for the next decade or more, locking in today's politics at the very moment when the electorate is running out of patience with the right.

That's why a majority of senators should warn Bush now that they will not take up his nominee unless he strictly construes the Constitution's provision that he appoint justices with "the Advice and Consent of the Senate." The rule should be: If the advice isn't taken, there will be no consent.

And if conservatives claim to believe the president is owed deference on his court appointees, they will be-- I choose this word deliberately-- lying. In 2005 conservatives had no problem blocking Bush's appointment of Harriet Miers because they could not count on her to be a strong voice for their legal causes. They revealed that their view of judicial battles is not about principle but power. When they went after Miers, conservatives lost the deference argument.

You go, girl! You know Reid's number, right? I can't wait to see how Democrats respond to DSCC pleas about donating money to Baucus, Landrieu, and Pryor this year for their re-election campaigns.

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In 1983 Flip Flop Mitt was cruel to Seamus, the family Irish Setter. What can I say? Does it make him unfit to be president? There's so much more to get to before that, although, for some people, it will help them see the kind of person behind the expensive pearly whites and million dollar image consultants. Fine that the Boston Herald dug up the old story about how Romney strapped the poor dog to the roof of the family car before heading up for a vacation in Canada. How about a closer look at the predatory business practices Bain Capital, Romney's investment firm, that specializes in buying out distressed companies and looting them of value, destroying the livelihoods of thousands of employees?

Although Romney always seems to be hovering around fourth place in Republican opinion polls, McCain's campaign is clearing in a death spin, Giuliani's is headed that way and Republicans are starting to get a better look at someone who may be worse than the whole lot of them: "White Knight" Freddy Thompson, who may actually be even worse than his slimy lobbyist career led us to believe. That leaves Flip Flop Mitt-- and the breathless adoration (male) Republican TV propagandists have for his broad shoulders and "presidential look."

Real journalists need to be looking in different directions if they want to figure out why Romney is even less fit to be president that the 3 goofballs who are ahead of him in the polls. And it isn't only because he's a dedicated member of the secretive Mormon cult. Romney is a man with no moral moorings or philosophical convictions on anything beyond grasping, relentlessly, for power. The well-practiced smile hides a lot of ugliness.

Just today, the Salt Lake Tribune gives us a brief glimpse into how the Mormons have been conspiring to sneak one of their own into power in DC. Romney has outraised all the other-- far better known and far more popular-- Republican candidates. Why? The Mormon Mafia. How? Cheating. Today's story, just one small example of what the whole campaign to install a Mormon into the White House, is about how one of his wealthy Mormon supporters chartered a jet to fly 150 Mormons from Utah to a Romney fundraiser in Boston. That was an illegal $150,000 contribution.

Romney's crass opportunism, though, has been the stand out feature of his campaign so far. Today he was viciously kicking Bush and McCain while they were still sprawled on the ground after the beating they took on immigration legislation. Romney's own record doesn't make him the best representative of the Know Nothing, nativist wing of the GOP on immigration. But that didn't stop him; it never does. Someone who doesn't believe in anything, just has to wet a finger, hold it up to the wind and practice sounding sincere in front of the mirror. And with the kinds of radio and TV "journalists" covering Romney's campaign, they wouldn't care even if he lied about his name; as long as he has that heavenly chin Hannity is poppin' a boner over. When Romney was asked to comment on his party's senatorial foreign policy expert, Richard Lugar, it was classic wishy-washy Romney. Lugar castigated the Bush's Regime's failed escalation policies. Romney knows what an easy target Mexican immigrants are with the Republican base, so he can speak out. With Iraq... too complicated. So here's what the fearless would-be leader muttered:
"I think it's a little early to make that call. The Congress and the president have expressed support for Gen. [David] Petraeus to use the troop surge to provide security in Baghdad and Anbar province... Gen. Petraeus is going to be back reporting in September. I'd like to hear what he has to say, unless there is some surprise in the interim.''

I worked at a major corporation for a very long time, as a vice president, a senior vice president, a president and a ceo. I read Romney's statement and I can tell you that I didn't hear a leader; I heard the worst kind of contemptible corporate hack, eager to get out and play golf and leave the tough decisions to someone else so his own fingerprints would never be on them-- although with the wiggle room necessary in there so he can rush in and claim the credit if things go well.

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One's a real American and one is a KKK terrorist. Wanna guess?

Yesterday we wondered whether the one-man Executive Department and his mouthy wife would stand by silently while their new grandson, David Samuel Cheney, was legislated into second-class citizenship. Today a super-reactionary, hysterically homophobic, ex-Democrat Virgil Goode introduced a blatantly anti-gay amendment to the DC Appropriations Bill so that Bush could pacify his-- and Goode's-- most extremist, hate-filled base.

I wasn't that worried because the Democrats certainly had the votes to stop it. I mean, sure there are the rabid gay-haters in the Democratic caucus, who always vote to penalize gay men and women-- vicious hate-mongering jerks like Jim Marshall (GA), John Barrow (GA), David Scott (GA), Gene Taylor (MS), Colin Peterson (MN), Dan Boren (OK), Chris Carney (PA), Dan Lipinski (IL), John Salazar (CO)... you know the Democratic Gay Hater Caucus, member's whose existence in Congress endangers gay people's lives and families. But with a dozen Republicans abandoning their bigoted leaders-- though not GOP closet queens like Patrick McHenry, David Dreier and Jim McCrery-- I figured Speaker Pelosi would have this well in hand.

But then something very strange happened. The Democratic leadership either was asleep at the wheel or just didn't give a crap as 40 Democrats showed their true gay-bashing colors. It passed by 6 votes. I hope gays in West Palm Beach, Florida get the message that their new quasi-Democratic congressman, Tim Mahoney (a vile homophobe) just voted to make Washington DC gays second class citizens. And the other reactionary that Rahm Emanuel talked into calling himself a Democrat and then running for Congress-- Heath Shuler (NC)-- also voted with the Republicans. So did Zach Space (OH); we could have kept Bob Ney and had the same result. Other freshmen voting the bigotry line: Boyda (KS), Ellsworth (IN), Donnelly (IN), Lampson (TX), and, of course, Carney (PA).

Let me go back to something I said yesterday about never donating to the DCCC, who will funnel your contributions to gay haters like Chris Carney, John Barrow and Jim Marshall (all of whom are on the skids because progressives are unenthusiastic about their Republican-lite votes, not just on this but on all important issues). Donate to progressives directly and thru trustworthy progressive groups like Blue America. Make sure your money goes to Democrats with Democratic values, not to Democrats with reactionary Republican values.

The whole list of Democratic traitors is up at AMERICAblog.

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-by Noah

Who needs conspiracy? Here's some interesting facts (for real) that drive JFK/CIA/Cuba conspiracy buffs into a frenzy:
1. Sam "Momo" Giancana was found dead in his kitchen the day before he was due to testify in front of the House Special Committee on Assassinations back around 1978. A circle of bullet holes placed none too discreetly around the corpse's mouth. Giancana and JFK were bangin' the same babe, Judith Exner. I never found her that appealing.
2. The financial interests that the mob wanted back in Cuba were the Havana casinos, the profits of which they enjoyed under Batista. Las Vegas wasn't enough. JFK wouldn't invade Cuba again after his agreement with Nikita over the missile crises. That made the right-wingnut crowd also hopping, foaming-at-the-mouth mad at JFK. Oh, and the mob detested JFK's bro for some reason. Something to do with trucks.
3. After he lost his campaign for the governorship of California in 1962, one of our country's biggest madmen, Richard Nixon, worked for Robert Maheu. He was essentially his bagman. Maheu worked for Howard Hughes in Las Vegas most of his adult life. Nixon got his reward 6 years later.
4. Nixon was meeting with Texas oilman Jim Brannen, on behalf of Maheu, in the DalTex building (on Dealey Plaza) in Dallas on 11/22/63. He left later that morning. Nixon carried a briefcase into and out of the DalTex building. It wasn’t weighed either time.
5. E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis (plumbers, later arrested in the Watergate break-in) have also been reported multiple times as having been in Dallas that day. Hunt’s alibis were blown to smithereens decades ago and Hunt's own kids once confronted him about their suspicions. What does your daddy do?                                   
6. Hunt was CIA. So was Sturgis; both had connections to the mob, the CIA, and Cuban exile groups. Oswald traveled in some of the same circles. You ever hear of six degrees of separation? Try two. Some say Sturgis was one of the shooters but there is little evidence and it is more likely that the actual shooters were brought in from out of the country by the mob, if the mob was involved, of course. That's just how they operate. "Sure, Lee, you can fire off a few rounds, too".
7. When arrested at The Watergate in June of 1972, Hunt and Sturgis were working for CREEP. It really was called that. Committee to Re-Elect the President. You can’t say these guys didn’t have a sense of humor. And, of course, it’s gotta just be a big fat coincidence that several lawyers defending players in the Watergate cover up also worked for the suspect Warren Commission ten years earlier.
8. CIA Caribbean station chief at the time of the JFK murder was George H. W. Bush, although the CIA has always claimed that it was "another George Bush". You can’t make this stuff up. Reality is what they say it is, or so they think. Kinda like Daddy Bush’s son Dubya saying amnesty means paying a price for your transgressions. They don’t lie. They just re-define.
9. The "troop" ships for the Cuban exiles in the original Bay of Pigs operation were supplied by a dummy oil company in Houston, set up for the CIA by George H. W. Bush.
10. Nixon's Watergate tapes reveal him to be very concerned about anyone talking about "the Bay of Pigs", saying that "It would be very bad to have this fellow Hunt… he knows too much". Nixon’s aide H. R. Haldeman, in his memoirs backs this up. Nixon had once told his other chief aide, John Ehrlichman, "this fellow Hunt… will uncover a lot of things… you open that scab… this involves the Cubans, Hunt and a lot of hanky panky", saying in effect that the Bay Of Pigs" and Dallas were one in the same, intertwined. THAT just may have been his biggest concern about the Watergate investigations.
11. John Ehrlichman once wrote a novel called "The Company". It’s about a President and a CIA head who are blackmailing each other over a past assassination plot that had CIA involvement. Hey, write what ya know!
12. OJ did it. Warning: This post will self-destruct in 30 seconds.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007



Apparently Fred Thompson is more than just a corrupt, Inside the Beltway lobbyist and TV actor. He's also a totally mixed up, shook up girl. What a mess! Pretty soon people are going to start wishing McCain hadn't self-destructed so fast-- or asking what exactly is so crazy about a flip-floppin', varmint huntin' Mormon.

And women's right to choice isn't the only thing Freddy is confused about. He's running hither and thither all over America trying to convince Republicans he's the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan. They were both actors. And like Reagan, as Thompson started losing his mind he started mixing up plots in movies to plots presidents could play at. He was frightening easily frightened South Carolina Republicans yesterday with tales of Cuban illegal immigrants-- oh, that's going to go over well in Florida-- sneaking suitcase atomic weapons into Charleston. "We're living in the era of the suitcase bomb," he warned the autograph seekers and imbeciles who ate up every word. But, as the Center For American Progress showed today, it's not the era of suitcase bombs-- unless you mean the TV era. These things only exist in Hollywood studios and in the small minds of people like Freddy Dalton Thompson.

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I find Mr Bush's and Mr Cheney's evasions amusing if disgusting. But they do pale compared to the defenses offered by their admirers like Sen. Pat Roberts for example, who tell us that our rights are useless if we're dead (disregarding original patriot Patrick Henry among others).
They get away with this because we're at war with a shadowy "enemy", one that isn't generally regarded as white and Christian for the most part. Because they'd like us to tribalize ourselves and see "terrorists" as non-white "others", I'd like to propose a paradigm that just might enlighten them a little and shatter this illusion.
To wit:
Many Irish and Italian Catholic priests have been charged with child sexual abuse, yes? In Massachusetts and Los Angeles and Philadelphia and Newport KY, as examples. So, if you know any Irish/Italian Catholics, they probably know a little about this, being of the same ethnic, geographicaland religious background. Why risk that they don't?
Therefore, according to the same logic that the Right applies to Cheney and to the administration's policies on torture, rendition and suspension of Habeas, they should be rounded up, wiretapped without warrants and imprisoned indefinately without facing their accusers, because child predation is a serious crime-- much as "terrorism" is--- you're talking about the life of a defenseless child here.
We have to use every resource here. Never mind that if these people had any actual contact with a priest that might yield information, it could be obtained by warrant and that in America, one is presumed innocent. All irrelevant-- because pedophilia is a horrible, brutal crime and must be wiped out. Ergo, the POSSIBLE association of any Catholic to a pedo-priest means said Catholic's rights are superceded by the need to end pedophilia.
Wonder how Sean Hannity's fan "Trish in Mineola" would think of an indefinate stay in Gitmo?
When the proverbial shoe is on the other foot, they can't walk in them.
Have a nice day.

Johnny Wendell, KTLK talk host, aka Johnny Angel, writer, musician, actor, loving father.

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Today the DCCC announced they will be targeting 14 Republican districts with radio ads, viral Internet videos and informational phone banking in a 5 day period centered on the 4th of July holiday. "Next week, Republicans are going home to talk up their support for our nation’s troops and veterans. But, their constituents deserve to know that the Republican record on veterans is all talk and no action," said Chairman Chris Van Hollen. "America’s troops and veterans deserve more than patriotic speeches this Independence Day."

The congressmen targeted are all looking vulnerable and shaky in their re-election hopes. In other words, the DCCC isn't going after congressmen with horrible records in deeply red low-information districts where it isn't likely to do any good. They're targeting Republican incumbents with bad records in toss-up and blue-leaning districts. Radio spots will run in districts misrepresented by:
Sam Graves (MO)
Shelley Moore Capito (WV)
Robin Hayes (NC)
Joe Knollenberg (MI)
Jon Porter (NV)
Jim Walsh (NY)
Don Young (AK)

And web videos, e-mail campaigns and phone banking will be deployed targeting:
Thelma Drake (VA)
Mark Kirk (IL)
Randy Kuhl (NY)
Heather Wilson (NM)
Marilyn Musgrave (CO)
Phil English (PA)
Mike Ferguson (NJ)

The DCCC is as likely to help a war-supporting, reactionary, corrupt hack-- like John Barrow, Gene Taylor, Jim Marshall, etc-- as they are to support a fighting progressive. So, if you want to make sure your donations go to Democrats who embody progressive values and ideals never donate to the DCCC or DSCC. Always donate directly to candidates of your choice or through organizations you trust to do the research. I hope Blue America, the Act Blue pages operated by this blog, is one of those organizations. We very much agree with the DCCC's choice of CO-04 and NY-29, districts where Angie Paccione and Eric Massa will make excellent representatives.

Right now, our #1 priority is making sure true progressives like Donna Edwards (MD-04), Jamie Eldridge (MA-05), John Laesch (IL-14) and Victoria Wulsin (OH-02) are the Democratic candidates in their respective districts instead of corporate insider politicians who will represent interests at odds with those of workers and consumers.

There are two birthdays we're celebrating at DWT today. One is for a candidate we admire and respect: Donna Edwards and one is for ActBlue, the wonderful organization that has helped Democrats collect over $24,000,000 in three years. You can wish them a collective Happy Birthday with us by donating to Donna's campaign.

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What a day! Bush's reactionary Supreme Court struck down at least basic underpinnings of school integration policies in places since 1954. Bush is back to a "Bring It On" posture regarding the subpoenas in the illegal wiretaps controversy. This is sure to wind up in the Supreme Court as a separation of powers case-- i.e.- Bush and Cheney not wanting to be separated from the powers they seized.

Rahm Emanuel's assault on Cheney's lair seems to be taking off, although cranky Republican nutcase Ralph Regula asked in Cheney would be forced to work out of a "Katrina trailer" if the Democrats defund his office. Smart to remind people of one of the Republicans' most disastrous failures-- and I think most Americans would prefer to see Cheney not working and in a cell rather than an office or a trailer.

The Republican philosophy of government continues to undermine the health and safety of all Americans as Miss McConnell's (R-KY) Chinese business partners flood America with poisoned toothpaste and poisoned food (and not just for Fido anymore), while the FDA sits around with their thumbs up their asses.

And even Fox is reporting lowest ever polling numbers on their failed president, while Republican postergirl Ann Coulter publicly melts down so that the whole country can see what these people are really, at their core, all about.

Meanwhile, the most reactionary elements of the GOP coalition, lead by bigots and nativists like Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL), drove a silver stake through the heart of Bush's immigration reform legislation, making it completely clear to anyone paying attention that the only way this problem will ever be dealt with seriously is to replace at least half a dozen Republican senators and another 30-40 Republican House members and elect a Democrat-- any Democrat, even someone as corporately-oriented as Clinton-- to the presidency.

And speaking of Hillary, my pal Matt sent me an hilarious video of Hill with her latest song theme contest, something that will hopefully help you get your mind off this awful day:

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It's over. Bush didn't have the clout with his own party's extreme right to keep them from sabotaging his immigration package. The bill was defeated this morning 53-46. They needed 60 votes to keep it from falling under the obstructionist tactics the GOP senators have perfected to keep the Democrats from passing important legislation. Although there were a small handful of thoughtful progressives who opposed the bill for principled reasons, the vast majority of the no votes came from KKK Know Nothings, xenophobes, nativists. and gutless wonders with no convictions or backbone.

The only Republicans Bush could muster were Robert Bennett (UT), Larry Craig (ID), Lindsey Graham (SC, the senator most likely to lose his seat over this), Chuck Hagel (NE), Jon Kyl (AZ), Trent Lott (MS), Richard Lugar (IN), Mel Martinez (FL), John McCain (AZ), Olympia Snowe (ME), and Arlen Specter (PA). The most electorally vulnerable Republicans were too afraid to vote yes, knowing that their status as "endangered" means they can't afford to lose any extremists from the GOP base. Rubber stamp regulars Bush counted on but who were too scared to vote with him today were:
Susan Collins (ME)
John Warner (VA)
stoner Norm Coleman (MN)
Saxby Chamberpot (GA)
Pete "Sneaky Pete" Domenici (NM)
Gordon Smith (OR)
Miss McConnell (KY)

While McCain was desperately running around the country trying to save his floundering, moribund campaign for the worthless GOP presidential nomination, Ted Kennedy has been working diligently to pass the flawed immigration bill. I'm sure in his heart he knows it will be a much better bill in 2009 when the Senate isn't burdened with half a dozen of the cowardly Republicans who caused it to die today. There is every likelihood that while Coleman goes back to smoking pot all day, Collins (ME), Sununu (NH), Cornyn (TX), Warner (VA), Domenici (NM) and Smith (OR) will all be working (officially) as lobbyists. Here's what Kennedy had to say today after the bill went down to defeat:
It is now clear that we are not going to complete our work on immigration reform.  That is enormously disappointing for Congress and for the country. 

But we will be back, and we will prevail. The American people sent us here to act on our most urgent problems, and they will not accept inaction.   

I have seen this happen time and time again. America always finds a way to solve its problems, expand its frontiers, and move closer to its ideals. It is not always easy, but it is the American way.     

I learned this first as a child at my grandfather's knee. He taught me that in America, progress is always possible. His generation moved past the cruel signs in the windows saying "Irish Need Not Apply," and elected that son of an Irish immigrant as Mayor of Boston. 

I learned that lesson first hand when I came to the Senate in 1962. Our nation was finally recognizing that the work of civil rights had not ended with the Emancipation Proclamation, nor with the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education. It was up to Congress to take action.

The path forward has never been an easy one. There were filibusters of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But we did not give up, and we prevailed.

The same was true in our battles for fair housing, and for an end to discrimination against persons with disabilities. On immense issues like these, a minority in the Senate was often able to create stalemate and delay for a time. But they have never been able to stop the march of progress. 

Throughout all of those battles, we faced critics who loudly warned that we were changing America forever. 

In the end, they were right. Our history of civil rights legislation did change America forever. It made America stronger, fairer, and a better nation.

Immigration is another issue like that. We know the high price of continuing inaction. Raids and other enforcement actions will escalate, terrorizing our communities and businesses. 

The 12 million undocumented immigrants will soon be millions more. Sweatshops will grow, and undermine American workers and wages. State and local governments will take matters into their own hands and pass a maze of conflicting laws that hurt our country. We will have the kind of open border that is unacceptable in our post 9-11 world.

Immigration reform is an opportunity to be true to our ideals as a nation. Our Declaration of Independence announces that all of us are created equal. Today, we failed to live up to that declaration for millions of men and women who live, work, and worship beside us. But our ideals are too strong to be held back for long.

Martin Luther King had a dream that children would be judged solely by "the content of their character." Today, we failed to make that dream come true for the children of immigrants. But that dream will never die. It has the power to overcome the most bitter opposition.

I believe that we will soon succeed where we failed today, and that we will enact the kind of comprehensive reform that our ideals and national security demand. Soon, word will echo across the country about the consequences of today's vote.

But we are in this struggle for the long haul. Today's defeat will not stand. As we continue the battle, we will have ample inspiration in the lives of the immigrants all around us. 

From Jamestown to the Pilgrims to the Irish to today's workers, people have come to this country in search of opportunity. They have sought nothing more than the chance to work hard and bring a better life to themselves and their families. And they come to our country with their hearts and minds full of hope.

We will endure today's loss, and begin anew to build the kind of tough, fair and practical reform that is worthy of our shared history as immigrants and as Americans. 

Immigration reforms are always controversial. But Congress was created to muster political will to answer such challenges. Today we didn't, but tomorrow we will.

And Doofus has something to say too-- although less intelligently or coherently than Kennedy. Jesus, everything he touches turns to shit. Here is one lame duck:




You may have heard me grousing about reactionary Democrat Daniel Lipinski (IL-03) from time to time. He's the Daley Machine's congressman from the South Side of Chicago. Lipinski inherited the district from his reactionary father in 2004, although he hadn't lived in Illinois for 15 years. Lipinksi Sr was the most conservative Democrat in the Illinois delegation; Jr may be worse-- opposed to progressive health care... homophobic, anti-Choice, he has a voting record that no representative from a solidly blue district should have. He won against meaningless Republican opposition with 77% of the vote last November. The only way to stop the Lipinski dynasty is with a primary. And this year there will be one, featuring Mark Pera.

A week from today, July 5, Mark, an environmental crimes prosecutor in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office and president of the Lyons Township School Board, will be speaking at an Edgewater/Rogers Park Democracy for America meeting. A DfA member describes the current occupant of the seat as someone who is

     •     anti-choice (has a 0% rating from Planned Parenthood and a 100% rating from the National Life to Right Committee)
     •     anti-stem cell research
     •     supported government intervention in the Terri Schaivo case
     •     supports a constitutional amendment against flag burning
     •     voted against a bill that would have set a withdrawal deadline in Iraq and voted for the Iraq war supplemental

Details of the meeting are here. If I were in Chicago next week, I'd be there. Knocking off Lipinski won't be easy, but if Pera is a fighter, it's worth giving him a hand. Many in Chicago will.

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The winner

This morning Congressional Quarterly published a story about the dueling fundraisers in Maine's contentious race for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by rubber stamp Republican and fake moderate Susan Collins. Collins, whose voting record mimics that of Joe Lieberman on important issues from Iraq to the confirmation of extreme right judicial activists, has made a career of talking one way and voting another. She is the first of what is expected to be several endorsements of rubber stamp Republicans by Lieberman who owes his continued presence in the Senate to the strenuous efforts of Bush, Cheney and Rove after he was defeated in last year's Democratic primary.

Lieberman's fundraiser for Collins brought together lots of K-Street prostitutes who love him for his consistent willingness to sell out his constituents' most basic interests. Collins' campaign claims that Lieberman helped her raise between $120,000 and $150,000. Between MoveOn and half a dozen blogs raising money for progressive Congressman Tom Allen, Lieberman's efforts were not just countered, but turned upside down. Grassroots and netroots contributions to Tom Allen last week out-raised Lieberman and Collins by between $100,000 and $120,000.

At Blue America, the fundraising arm of Firedoglake, Crooks & Liars, Digby and DWT, the announcement of Lieberman's fundraiser for Collins saw the 50 donors explode into 187. Blue America has brought in over $5,800 for Allen so far and intends to watch closely what sorts of activities Collins and Lieberman engage in between now and the 2008 election. Although Lieberman's assistance for Collins comes in big chunks from lobbyists and corporate management, the average online donation for Tom is $34. Many people donate $5 and $10 and these contributions add up quickly to counter the Insider impact on buying off representative government.


As my pal Jane pointed out this morning, "Collins could have raised this money in a variety of ways but there is no way the netroots could have raised this money if it wasn't for Lieberman's involvement. For every TV ad or flyer Collins bankrolls as a result of this, Allen can counter with two. The negative consequences for Collins are huge. She would have come out better if she had just written Lieberman a check and told him to stay home." Gee, I'm hoping he endorses his pal Sununu next.

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Rahm, some guy, Steny and a somewhat disguised Blunt

I wonder how many Americans think Congress should get a $4,400 annual pay raise. Not me-- and judging by the low esteem with which all Americans of all political persuasions hold Congress, I feel safe to wager that almost as few Americans would vote for a pay increase as would claim to approve of Dick Cheney's role in the U.S. government for the last 7 years.

Last year there was no congressional pay raise because Democrats put their feet down and said until there was a rise in the minimum wage for American workers, they would vote against a pay raise. Yesterday Inside the Beltway power-mongers Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), two hideous K Street-walkers, worked together to make sure another million and a half dollars went into congressional salaries this year. Congressmen now make around $170,000 a year, quite a bit more than most Americans. How can they represent us?
On a 244-181 vote Wednesday, Democrats and Republicans alike killed a bid by Reps. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, and Lee Terry, R-Neb., to get a direct vote to block the cost of living allowance, which is automatically awarded unless lawmakers vote to block it. The Senate has not indicated when it will deal with a similar measure.

...The annual vote on the pay hike comes on an obscure procedural move-- instead of a direct up-or-down vote-- and Democratic and GOP leaders each delivered a majority of their members to shut off the move to block the pay hike

Hoyer and Blunt worked the floor together and Hoyer pressured Blunt to force more than a dozen Republicans  to switch their votes including one of the far right's biggest phonies, Mike Pence (R-IN), as well as creeps like Dan Burton (R-IN), Fred Upton (R-MI), Dave Camp (R-MI) and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI).

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Evil is as Evil does

This morning's NY Times makes a great deal about reading between the lines of supposed dischord between a sour old fascist who fears his own mortality will overtake him before he overturns the last vestiges of all the social justice that came from, and flowed after, the New Deal and a much younger, but no less fascist Chief Justice who feels he has plenty of time to work the poison they both plan to administer to our nation through the packed judicial system. "Openly overturning numerous precedents early in his tenure would invite criticism that the Roberts court has an agenda to 'radically shift American law,' said Thomas C. Goldstein, a student of the court who argues there often. The conservative alliance at the court may be fractious but not fragile, strong enough to withstand Justice Scalia’s 'tweaking and needling,' as Prof. Richard W. Garnett of Notre Dame Law School describes it."

In light of this I look with trepedation at what is likely to come out of the Court today. This isn't something anyone should blame on anyone but the cowardly and purile Democrats who voted to confirm Alito and, especially, Roberts. As we explained yesterday, there are six Democrats who saddled us with this Supreme Court who are up for re-election next year: hideously reactionary Max Baucus (MT), Tim Johnson (SD), Mary Landrieu (LA), Carl Levin (MI), Mark Pryor (AR) and Jay Rockefeller (WV). I wouldn't vote for any of them. And on the Republican side... well they all enthusiastically supported the confirmations of Roberts and Alito. But there are 5 who are in electoral trouble and have been making the case in their home states that they are moderates and independents. None of them are; voting for these two radical right extremists should prove that. The 5 vulnerable Republicans who can be made to pay for the outrages of the Court are
John Sununu (NH)
Joe Lieberman's Susan Collins (ME)
Norm Coleman (MN)
Gordon Smith (OR)
Chuck Hagel (NE)

Now, about that trepedation I mentioned above. SCOTUSBlog has what to watch for. There is some talk about the conservative majority overturning the anti-segregation decision, at least partially, made in Brown v Board of Education. That would put a smile on Scalia's sour face. I wonder how Carl Levin will think about it. It would never have happened without him. Mary Landrieu is hoping African-American absentee voters displaced by Katrina will save her ass next year in the Senate race most likely to see a switch from Democrat (of sorts) to Republican. Any African-American who votes for Mary Landrieu deserves exactly what they get.


No one ever imagined Alito was going to be anything other than what he always was: a right wing thug with an agenda. He fits right in with Scalia, Thomas and Roberts. "Alito's vote will be key today if the court announces what could be a landmark decision about whether public school districts may consider an individual student's race when making assignments to achieve diverse school populations. 'There's no question that Justice Alito is more conservative than Justice O'Connor; there's no question that his replacement of Justice O'Connor moves the court to the right,' Washington lawyer Roy T. Englert, a frequent Supreme Court practitioner, said yesterday during a forum at the Washington Legal Foundation."


I know I have been saying for the last week that we had to expect it but I'm still in shock. My friend Adam put up a piece at Daily Kos that starts dealing with the ramifications of the hateful, racist 5-4 decision. I expect we'll be hearing from all the Democrats running for president. I would also like to hear from all the Democrats who voted to confirm Alitio and Roberts. Here's what Hillary, who voted against both of these catastrophic nominations, had to say today:
Today, the Court turned its back on the promise of Brown vs. Board of Education that students of different racial backgrounds deserve an opportunity to attend school together. At a time when our nation's schools are increasingly resegregating, we should be championing local efforts to pursue integration and reduce racial inequities in schools.

On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the valiant struggle to integrate Little Rock Central High School, let us remember the millions who marched, fought and even paid the ultimate price to help ensure every child in America has an opportunity to attend diverse, high-quality schools.

These decisions take away the right of local communities to ensure that all students benefit from racially diverse classrooms. Recent evidence shows that integrated schools promote minority academic achievement, and can help close the achievement gap.

Once again, the Roberts Court has shown its willingness to erode core constitutional guarantees. It is a set back for all of us who are on the long march toward racial equality and the building of a stronger more unified America. As President, I will fight to restore Brown's promise and create an education system where all children have an equal chance to learn and excel together.


Tomorrow's NY Times decries the hideous Republican 5-4 ruling in an editorial called Resegregation Now. "The Supreme Court ruled 53 years ago in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated education is inherently unequal, and it ordered the nation’s schools to integrate. Today, the court switched sides and told two cities that they cannot take modest steps to bring public school students of different races together. It was a sad day for the court and for the ideal of racial equality."
Today, the court’s radical new majority turned its back on that proud tradition in a 5-4 ruling, written by Chief Justice John Roberts. It has been some time since the court, which has grown more conservative by the year, did much to compel local governments to promote racial integration. But now it is moving in reverse, broadly ordering the public schools to become more segregated.

...In an eloquent dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer explained just how sharp a break the decision is with history. The Supreme Court has often ordered schools to use race-conscious remedies, and it has unanimously held that deciding to make assignments based on race “to prepare students to live in a pluralistic society” is “within the broad discretionary powers of school authorities.”

Chief Justice Roberts, who assured the Senate at his confirmation hearings that he respected precedent, and Brown in particular, eagerly set these precedents aside. The right wing of the court also tossed aside two other principles they claim to hold dear. Their campaign for “federalism,” or scaling back federal power so states and localities have more authority, argued for upholding the Seattle and Louisville programs. So did their supposed opposition to “judicial activism.” This decision is the height of activism: federal judges relying on the Constitution to tell elected local officials what to do.

So Roberts lied to get the job. Is there any way to remove him?

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007



It's safer to carry a Canadian one

At 15 I left home and hitchhiked to Florida to visit my grandparents in Miami Beach for Pessach. I was arrested on the New Jersey State Turnpike an hour after I set out and they made my (angry) father come pick me up. He gave me the bus fare so I could continue my trip. A couple years later I hitched to California. A few years later I flew to Europe, bought a VW van and drove to India. I spent over six years overseas, two of them in places like Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan... places where Americans were once feted and adored and are now... no longer quite so welcome. In fact, as recently as the 90's America was clearly the most beloved country in the world and an American passport was always a badge of honor. With the assumption of power by George Bush and the violent and aggressive clique of fascists around him that ended and was turned on its head.

According to tomorrow's Washington Post anti-Americanism has gotten much deeper. I notice it all the time in my travels these days. Everyone who travels does. If you look at my travel blog, AroundTheWorldBlog, it's a topic I often talk about. I didn't need the Post to tell me things have worsened, dramatically, under Bush. Right now I'm planning a long trip to India and I'm being less carefree about where I'm going and what arrangements I make.
The image of the United States has "plummeted" in many parts of the world, with mounting distrust of President Bush and U.S. foreign policy expressed not only in Muslim countries but also among traditional allies, according to a survey of global attitudes released yesterday.

...Respondents harshly criticized the United States for acting without taking the views of other countries into consideration. Support was strong for a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, and there was "considerable" opposition among those surveyed to U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan... Favorable views of the United States among Pakistanis dropped to just 15 percent, and among Turks to 9 percent.

After the theft of the 2004 election Europeans gave up on Americans at cowards who had been bought off and given in to tyranny. We are looked out by many Europeans as a people who didn't have the backbone to stand up to those who wrecked our democracy, as a people unwilling to risk our creature comforts-- or anything else-- in the face of the blatant destruction of our Constitution. Or maybe it's just the type of Europeans I hang around with.


You could ask that question almost anywhere in the world and get the same answer-- a four letter word starting with B. But that very same B. was addressing cadets at the Naval War College in Newport today and he got lots of applause and yucks when he said, "One day, the good Lord will take Fidel Castro away."

Castro, a man with some faults, like all of us, has been granted a long life by the Good Lord. He has protected his country from American corporate and military imperialism since the 60s. He has a great deal to be proud of and is one of the most admired men on earth. Bush, as everyone knows, is one of the most hated and reviled men on earth and certainly the worst president of the United States in history.




McCain should never have been the front-runner. He was always too old, too Manchurian, too corrupt, too right-wing, too confused, and, without the kind of support inside the GOP that would allow him to exploit his undeserved reputation as a moderate and an independent among low-information voters. Will he be the first of the 10 (or 11) elderly, white dwarves to pull out of the GOP presidential race? Well, donors certainly aren't giving him any money, despite the fact that he's spending more time chasing dough and promising the world than all the other candidates combined.

Someone trying to win a general election, by appealing to independent voters and moderates, is up against an almost impossible task in winning the extremist-dominated GOP nomination process-- unless, of course, they have no bedrock values or scruples whatsoever like, for example, a certain Mormon candidate whose name usually follows the word "flop." McCain was just overwhelmed by the balancing act and most observers think he'll be out of the race before the end of the year. Of course, being generally perceived as the "Bush candidate" isn't exactly helpful at this moment either.

I bet McCain wishes he had switched parties when he had a chance in 2004. Here is how he's being treated by his party after all those years and years of service:

And that doesn't even get into the fact that he's running for the nomination of a party seen by more and more Americans that not only governed abymally when they had the chance but is now nothing but the Grand Obstructionist Party.

• Senate Republicans have obstructed almost every bill in the Senate-- even ones with wide bipartisan support.
• So far, in the first half of the first session of the 110th Congress, there have been THIRTEEN cloture votes on motions to proceed - each one wasting days of Senate time.  (110th Congress, Roll Call Votes #44, 51, 53, 74, 129, 132, 133, 162, 173, 207, 208, 227, and 228)
• In comparison, in the first sessions of the 108th and 109th Congresses combined, there were a total of FOUR cloture votes on motions to proceed.

EIGHT times Republican obstruction tactics slowed critical legislation

• Fulfilling the 9/11 Commission Recommendations (Passed 97-0, Roll Call Vote #53)
• Improving security at our courts ( Passed 93-3, Roll Call Vote #133)
• Water Resources Development Act (Passed 89-7, Roll Call Vote #162)
• A joint resolution to revise U.S. policy in Iraq (Passed 89-9, Roll Call Vote, #74)
• Comprehensive Immigration Reform (Passed 69-23, Roll Call Vote #173)
• Comprehensive Immigration Reform (Passed 64-35, Roll Call Vote #228)
• CLEAN Energy Act ( Passed 91-0, Roll Call Vote #208)
• Funding for the Intelligence Community (Passed 94-3, Roll Call Vote #129) 

FOUR times Republicans blocked legislation from being debated

• Senate Republicans blocked raising the minimum wage. (54-43, Roll Call Vote #23)
• Senate Republicans blocked ethics reforms (Rejected 51-46, Roll Call Vote #16)
• Senate Republicans blocked comprehensive immigration reform (Rejected 45-50, Roll Call Vote #206)
• Senate Republicans blocked funding for renewable energy (Rejected 57-36, Roll Call Vote #223)

FOUR times Republicans stopped bills from reaching a vote

• Senate Republicans blocked funding for the intelligence community.  ( Rejected 41-40, Roll Call Vote #130)
• Senate Republicans blocked raising the minimum wage. (54-43, Roll Call Vote #23)
• Senate Republicans blocked ethics reforms (Rejected 51-46, Roll Call Vote #16)
• Senate Republicans blocked funding for renewable energy (Rejected 57-36, Roll Call Vote #223)

TWICE Republicans blocked bills from going to conference

• Senate Republicans blocked appointing conferees on the 9/11 Commission Recommendations (6/26/07)
• Senate Republicans blocked appointing conferees on ethics reform ( 6/26/07)

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dual useage: McCain on the hustings and the "Grand Compromise"

Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's reactionary and xenophobic immigration amendment was defeated today, 53-45. Had it passed, it would have required immigrants to return to their home countries before they could obtain even temporary legal status, and was widely viewed as unworkable.
The vote came as the Senate began to consider a score of amendments to a bill that would bring about the biggest overhaul in immigration policy in more than 20 years. The amendment that was defeated was sponsored by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas, and would have required adult illegal immigrants to leave the United States within two years if they wanted to apply for legal status in the form of “Z visas.”

There were five Democrats who voted with the anti-Hispanic Republicans on this:
Max Baucus (MT)
Byron Dorgan (ND)
Claire McCaskill (MO)
Jay Rockefeller (WV)
Jon Tester (MT)

With McCain out making like a truffle-sniffing pig on the campaign trail-- apparently there is no legislation that means anything to this grasping power-monger-- 8 Republicans joined the 43 Democrats to keep this hateful amendment out of the legislation:
Larry Craig (ID), who's probably retiring anyway-- having been caught in a public toilet having sex with another man.
Lindsey Graham (SC)... a trend seems to be developing here
Chuck Hagel (NE), probably retiring
Jon Kyl (AZ), just re-elected for 6 years
Richard Lugar (IN), needs to mend some Bush fences for some reason
Mel Martinez (FL), um...
Arlen Specter (PA), could always switch parties if someone doesn't like what he does
John Warner (VA), retiring

I'm enjoying a fantastic read these days, Kenneth Ackerman's brilliantly written YOUNG J. EDGAR: HOOVER, THE RED SCARE, AND THE ASSAULT ON CIVIL LIBERTIES. The title gives a lot away, but not the immigration piece. And that was a big piece. The Know Nothing traditions in our country have been long and powerfully rooted-- and always wrong. When Hoover's despicable career was getting started the victims of these reactionary bigots weren't from Mexico or Central America; they were Italians, Eastern Europeans, Russians and, more than anyone else, Jews. The contemporary descriptions that Ackerman has dug up could easily be used by Tom Tancredo, Jeff Sessions and Jim DeMint to push their current racist agenda, just substituting the vile references to Jews with the vile pictures they're painting of Latin Americans. It makes me want to puke to see Claire McCaskill and Jon Tester, two newly elected Democrats in the Senate, buying into this racist claptrap. I expect this from Max Baucus, but not from these two. The irony of Kit Bond (R-MO) standing up for decency and fairness while McCaskill (D-MO) plays to the sentiments of the KKK is truly disgusting.

Oh, and do take a look at this video. I mean, I wouldn't vote for Lindsey Graham either, but for a completely different set of reasons:

More of the same for poor Lindsey, who really just wants to be a Cabinet Secretary for McCain anyway. The other Deep South Senator most associated with Bush's pro-corporate immigration bill so reviled by the Know Nothings is Saxby Chamberpot of Georgia. But a new Republican poll (Strategic Vision) shows he may be weathering it. Although his voter approval rating is only 50%, he's backed away from supporting Bush on this and is trying to butter up the far right extremists who booed him at the Georgia Republican Party convention last month. 59% of Georgians say they oppose the immigration bill (and 51% disapprove of Bush in general).


Bush's immigration package looks cooked to me. It did manage to overcome a bunch of hurdles today and stay alive, but with Republican rubber stampers like Burr (NC), Stevens (AK), Gregg (NH) and Bond (MO) succumbing to intense pressure from the extreme Know Nothing edge of the GOP, it isn't likely to last out tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning the bill "faces a make-or-break vote... when senators will decide whether to cut off debate and move to a final vote." It needs 60 votes and it may be close but it's not going to happen unless Bush really digs deep and see if he has any of that vaunted political capital left that he was bragging about when he tried to kill Social Security. "Top legislative aides in both parties predicted today's vote would be very close but would fall short of keeping the proposal alive. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a key opponent, crowed last night that 'they tried to railroad this through today, but we derailed the train.' Another opponent, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said, 'I would say to my colleagues: Let's end this thing.'"

And it looks like some key Democrats-- particularly freshmen McCaskill, Webb and Tester-- seem to agree with him. Tomorrow's NY Times explains why.
"I like to keep my word,” said Ms. McCaskill, part of a triad of moderate Democratic freshmen balking at the proposed immigration overhaul and complicating efforts by President Bush and Senate leaders to pass it this week.

Her compatriots in opposition are Senators Jim Webb of Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana. All three represent Republican-leaning states and are breaking with their leadership and most of their Democratic colleagues on the legislation, whose fate in the Senate could be determined on Thursday after a day of votes on amendments left the outcome up in the air on Wednesday.

The Republican Party has been deeply split by its differences over immigration. But Democrats have their own fault lines, and the opposition from Ms. McCaskill, Mr. Tester, Mr. Webb and eight or so other Democrats could be critical in determining the outcome.
Unlike some veteran liberal Democrats who say the measure would be too harsh on illegal immigrants or would cost some American workers their jobs, the three freshmen are lined up against it for much the same reason as its Republican opponents: that it would not do enough to stop the flow of illegal immigrants across the border.