thedigbyblog at gmail Dennis: satniteflix at gmail Gaius: publius.gaius at gmail Tom: tpostsully at gmail
Spocko:Spockosbrain at gmail
David: isnospoon at gmail tristero: Richardein at me.com
George W. Bush is so desperate to get his embarrassed base out to vote that he's appearing with extremist talk show pig Rush Limbaugh tomorrow.
That honor and dignity schtick is now so dead it stinks --- they aren't even pretending anymore. He is sullying the presidency worse than a million adulterous blojobs could ever do. Just days ago that gelatinous blowhard cruelly derided a man with Parkinson's Disease for lowlife political purposes. And now the President of the United States is going to validate his malevolent cultural poison by appearing on his show.
Say your final good-byes to that silly Hughesian alliterative construct, "compassionate conservatism." George W. Bush and his porcine hatchet-man are going to be smothering the last remaining vestige of it tomorrow as they wallow around together in the fetid shit pile known as the Rush Limbaugh Show.
It sure makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it?
According to the NY Times some Republicans have a whole new approach to Iraq:
President Bush isn’t getting our frustrations — it’s time to be decisive, beat the terrorists,” Mike McGavick, the Republican candidate for Senate in Washington, said in an advertisement that began running this week. “Partition the country if we have to and get our troops home in victory.”
Good thinking. We need to beat those damned terrorists, partition the country whether the Iraqis like it or not, win and come on home. Why hasn't anyone thought of this before? Let's roll!
Update: I'm reminded by commenter Straight Talk express that there is another even more sophisticated GOP plan out there, proposed by presumptive GOP presidential candidate St. John McCain:
"one of the things I would do if I were president would be to sit the shiites and the sunnis down and say, 'stop the bullshit.'"
FUND: John Kerry is the titular head of the Democratic Party. And, clearly, in 2004, his position on Iraq was completely muddled.
And I think the problem is, this distracts from the Democratic message, and it makes people ask: All right, the Republicans are leading an unpopular war. But what is the Democratic plan to get the troops home?
And it is unclear. Nancy Pelosi wants to end the war. The only way to end the war, realistically, if the president doesn't want to, is to cut funding. This leaves this ambiguous.
WATERS: That's -- that's absolutely ridiculous.
As a matter of fact, the Out of Iraq Caucus that I have to organize have been working for over a year to try and get all of the members of Congress to have enough courage to pressure the president into correcting his wrong. He started this war.
FUND: Congresswoman, you...
WATERS: And those of you who -- those of you who protect him are simply...
WATERS: ... trying to say, yes, he started it.
WATERS: ... but, somehow we must come up with the answer about how to get our troops back out.
FUND: ... I'm not protecting President Bush. But I am from California.
WATERS: Yes, you are.
FUND: And I know lots of people in your district. And you have told people in your district you want to end funding for the war.
WATERS: No, I have not. And you don't know lots of people in my district.
FUND: Yes, I...
WATERS: I'm sure...
FUND: I know lots of people in Compton.
WATERS: ... you would like people to believe that.
FUND: I know lots of people in Inglewood, absolutely.
WATERS: I do not represent anybody in Compton. So, let's get it straight.
You have been protecting the president. You have been trying to make sense out of this war that he got us involved in. We have almost 3,000 soldiers that have been killed, almost $400 billion of taxpayers' money that's been spent, between Iraq and Afghanistan. There's no end in sight.
So a bunch of George Allen's banjo-boys roughed up blogger Mike Stark today saying "you got personal" when he asked Allen if it was true that he had spit on his first wife. He's lucky. Allen usually spits on people who annoy him.
The facts are that Allen refuses to release his divorce records or his arrest records. I have no idea what's it them, of course. But I don't think anyone would be particularly surprised to find out that the rumors about him spitting on his ex-wife are true. He often spits to make a statement. And he always has:
"One thing that always disgusted me about George was that he chewed tobacco in college and often carried no cup to spit into and he would walk down the halls at Newcomb Hall," Shelton said. "He would spit tobacco juice on the floors and on the wall with total disrespect, in my opinion, for the University, the students and the janitors, and at that time most of them were black."
And just a week or so ago Ryan Lizza, writing in TNR about Mark Warner, said:
One night in New Hampshire, after a few drinks at a pool hall in a college town, the conversation turned to the political troubles of another potential '08 contender. I told a story that had been making the rounds about how this politician once spit on his wife.
Gosh, I wonder who that could be? The '08 contender who is a known spitter? Hmmmm.
Maybe it's personal but that's not Stark's problem. Allen even made it his signature:
Allen's personal style is similarly distinctive. He drinks beer mixed with orange juice and signs personal notes with the salutation, "Spit, George."Washington Post, Dec. 31, 1995
I don't know why it's so wrong for his constituents to ask him about these rumors. He's a spitter and proud of it. If he doesn't want people gossiping about him spitting on his ex-wife, maybe he shouldn't spit at people all the time. It tends to make those rumors awfully believable.
Sam Rosenfeld and Matt Yglesias are wrong. The movement to establish an American theocracy is serious, relentless, and very, very dangerous.
Need proof? Start by picking up a copy of With Liberty & Justice for All: Christian Politics Made Simple by the Reverend [sic] Joe Morecraft III. You will find there a succinct discussion of the rationales and reasoning behind the modern christianist movement. You will also encounter, in stark language, many ideas, such as "America is a Christian nation" that are currently being mainstreamed.
Then learn something about "intelligent design" creationism. I don't mean the doctrine, which is simply worthless both as science or theology. I'm talking about the history, rationale, and culture (I use the term loosely) behind the movement. Read the Wedge strategy. Then, to get a sense of who is funding this, read Creationism's Trojan Horse by Barbara Forrest and Paul Gross. If you think alarm bells about the theocracy movement are just hype, you will be shocked to discover that the alarm bells aren't ringing loud enough.
ID creationism may be the wedge that theocrats are using, but it is hardly the only strategy. Go to Colorado Springs or Springfield, MO and attend some megachurch ceremonies. I'm talking about places where christianism is a lifestyle, 24/7, where the churches have elaborate multi-media services and a Starbucks on the premises:
The megachurches thus become part church, part shopping mall and part country club. One in Tacoma, Washington, even has its own Starbucks. Brentwood Baptist Church in Houston has a McDonald's on its 111 acres. The Prestonwood Baptist Church, near Dallas, boasts 15 baseball fields, a Fifties-style diner and a food court. New Birth Baptist Church, also in Texas, offers web links to "antiques", "dining" and "health and fitness".
In addition to the megachurches, there are 31 "gigachurches" in the US, which are defined as those that at least 10,000 people attend every Sunday; 73 per cent of all these are in Bush-Cheney territory in the South or West. Some offer bookstores and health clubs on their premises. The Lakewood Church, yet another in Houston, describes itself as a "non-denominational charismatic church" and has a congregation of 25,000 every Sunday. It says it will soon have more than 30,000 people attending the remodelled, $73m former "Compaq Centre" that was previously home to the Houston Rockets, a basketball team.*
Sam Rosenfeld sets up an utterly false dichotomy between the notion that christianists are rubes who have been suckered and christianists as malevolent force. Merely because there are some high-level Bush officials, like Rove, who think Robertson is nuts, doesn't show that the "religious" right has been suckered. Look at the faith-based programs. Look at the infiltration of science/health programs with christianist propaganda. After all, this is a country which, until Bush, wouldn't have dreamed of selling in a national park bookstore, a history of the Grand Canyon that claimed it was only 6,000 years old.
True, christianists have not gotten from Bush everything they've wanted. So they've been screaming bloody murder at their "betrayal." That hardly means they are in retreat. They have advanced far in the past 6 years. Now, they are simply honing their strategy for the next step.
Christianists, however, have succeeeded in mainstreaming the notion that religion belongs in politics. It doesn't, not in America, so it's quite a step to have the churches in this country so well organized to push a christianist agenda and even endorse (wink, wink, illegal tho it may be) candidates. It's quite a step to have mainstream national politicians trumpet their piety - as if that is some kind of qualification for running a country - with an intensity that I can't recall in the races of the past thirty or forty years.
To pooh-pooh the influence of christianism on American politics, as Rosenfeld does, requires ignoring the plain and simple fact that General Jerry Boykin, a man suffering from paranoid delusions that Satan is hovering over battlefields and who is clearly in need of psychiatric help, still has a job. And not just any job; he is one of the pointsmen in the hunt for al Qaeda and bin Laden.
Sigh. Once again, intelligent liberals are making the dangerous mistake of attributing their own intellectual acumen and worldview to other Americans, who think and live very differently than themselves. I share with Yglesias and Rosenfeld a thorough disgust with both the ideas and the lifestyle of the christianists. I find it hard to believe they take their theology seriously as a religion: as Yglesias points out, it's nuts to believe in an absurd religion that consigns Gandhi to hell. And like them, I find the unique cultural trappings of christianism - the crass materialism and cynical marketing of religious belief - repulsive. How can anyone be suckered into this bullshit?
But the fact that I find christianism utterly repulsive when it's not just silly doesn't take away from the fact that many, many Americans are deeply attracted to it. Many more Americans have trouble distinguishing between the more diluted versions of christianism and their own desire to have a meaningful place for religion and national pride in their lives.
It is a serious mistake to underestimate these people. They have more cash, and more followers than we do. More importantly, they know, as we yet don't, that they are in a culture war. And they know, as incredible as it surely sounds to Rosenfeld and Yglesias, that the culture war is a continuation of the ancient struggle between the priests and the philosophes and ideals of the Enlightenment. Go ahead, Matt and Sam, read what they actually say. Listen to their speeches. That's what this is about.
In 2002/2003, some liberals - but not this one - were bamboozled by the so-called "seriousness" of respected, brilliant minds like those of Wolfowitz and Perle. The notion that they were dangerous extremists who would lead the country into a catastrophe was extremely hard for some intelligent people to accept. It is dismaying to see that happening again with christianism. Yglesias and Rosenfeld fail to understand, as many liberals have over the past 25 years, that these people are serious and their influence over American life has grown exponentially over the past 6 years. Santorum may no longer have a Senate seat come November 7, but don't kid yourself. To christianists, that simply means that Santorum will be moved to a different battlefied.
One final thing. Dobson, et al, have been whining non-stop that they are not being taken seriously by the Bush administration, (a perception that, amusingly, both Yglesias and Rosenfeld seem to agree with, albeit with a different sense of whether that's a good thing). LIke everything else Dobson utters, it is utter crap. It's all of a piece with the kind of wingnut bitching that always casts the right as the beleagured good guys against the evil liberals. It's the "mainstream liberal media" myth all over again.
Don't you believe it. The "religious" right is on a major roll.
The notion that America was founded by christianists is now so widespread that scholars have been working overtime churning out books to remind this country that there is absolutely no truth to the meme. The war against fucking continues unabated, with serious people actually debating the utility of abstinence-only sex education and the "ineffectiveness" of condoms. The assault on embryonic stem-cell research is a national disgrace. And most important of all, the meta-myth of christianism - that a good leader should not listen to reason but to his heart - is so much the norm in America's concept of politics that very few dare question it in public. Indeed, Bush may not be a perfect christianist, but he embodies their ideal of leading from the depths of a soul at one with God.*
Sam and Matt, the religious right has declared war on you and me, a war they are preparing to win. And they can. They are armed and very dangerous. And they will surely succeed if you, and others with more influence, continue to underestimate their power and fail to grasp their alarming growth and their intentions. They cannot be dismissed as mere kooks. They cannot be ignored. They must be confronted and loudly denounced whenever they rear their ugly heads in national discourse. I don't have words strong enough to say how urgent I think it is for you to educate yourself on exactly who these people are and what they want. Don't wait until they are even stronger. We need your voices in strong opposition. Hell, guys, you need your voices, even if you don't know that yet.
*And that is why I think of christianism as a particularly obscene form of blasphemy.
In the final three weeks of the campaign, longtime leading Democratic strategists such as Stan Greenberg and James Carville urge the party to maximize the once-in-a-generation opportunity the 2006 election offers Democrats by reaching out for every seat that is even conceivably contestable. Netroots newcomers, however, are not so ambitious, preferring to see the Democrats focus their attention on locking in their potential gains rather than reaching too far and "blowing it."
That reflects an ironic turn of events for internal Democratic Party strategic debate. Netroots newcomers, throughout 2000, 2002 and 2004, complained bitterly about the cautiousness of Democratic campaign insiders in Washington. Now the tables are turned. Political guru Charlie Cook calls it a generation gap in perceptions of what is happening in 2006. Old-timers who lived through 1974 and 1994 have felt all year that 2006 could develop into an enormous, earthshaking Democratic sweep -- they'd seen this kind of thing before, and this felt like that. Netroots activists, in contrast, have not seen that kind of sweeping election victory before?their experience has been largely a series of narrow, nail-biting elections with winners and losers determined by a handful of seats in a 50-50 political world.
Because of their different experiences, netrooters have dismissed talk of a sweep as so much old-timer mysticism. Old-timers have been unable to believe the netrooters do not see what is clearly before their eyes. As a result of their different experiences, netrooters are also more focused on carefully bringing home every victory that's clearly in reach and leaving nothing to chance in any race, while the old-timers are wondering whether a bank would loan the DNC $5 million or $10 million against future contributions to expand their reach from 30 targeted seats to 50. Old-timers are also speculating about whether they should count as won the top ten prospective take-overs and shift resources from those seats to the Tier 3 opportunities.
Whichever direction the party takes in the final weeks -- whether a cautious, button-down strategy designed to make no mistakes and lose no birds in the hand, or a more "all-in," go-for-broke strategy that seeks every possible bird in every possible bush -- one outcome is certain: A very different, more mainstream, more suburban and small-town, greatly expanded House Democratic caucus will present a new face of the Democratic Party to the country as the 2008 Presidential election gets underway on November 8.
Well, that sure is going to come as a helluva surprise to all those netroots leaders who have been begging the establishment to expand the field for some time now, raised a bunch of money for candidates the house and senate election committees had given up for lost and then initiated a successful campaign to pry last minute money out of some cash hogs who refused to step up. If anybody objected to the party borrowing 10 million dollars it was only because there were a bunch of safe Dems sitting on cash they weren't using. WTF?
I'm not quite sure what to think about this freakishly incorrect scenario. Part of me thinks it's better if it continues, since it portrays we ignorant netroots as being a staid "buttoned down" faction. The last I heard we were the unhinged hippies dragging the party over the leftist cliff and the good boys and girls of the DLC choir were valiently beating us back.
But I don't think the other half of this will fly for a moment. The "old timers" are a bunch of swashbuckling risk takers? It's hilarious. These are the same people who were telling candidates not to talk about Iraq just a couple of months ago.
I have to assume that this is some sort of positioning for credit although it's not even slightly believable. But it does indicate that the establishment is now trying to hook themselves some of that hot and sexy netroots image. And who can blame them?
Let's say you have a problem. You have the choice of two people to solve the problem --- the one who caused the problem, refuses to admit it even is a problem and won't change anything even as the problem grows worse --- or the other one. Which do you choose?
That's the simple logic of this election.
There are, of course, many affirmative Democratic messages necessary for the future. But right now, this is it.
Below, Digby linked to an article by Garry Wills which details the extent the US government has been undermined by christianists with the help of the Bush administration, its ranks fully penetrated by political activists whose agenda is to establish an American theocracy. The article seems, for the most part, very good. The reason I haven't mentioned it, although I read it several days ago when my paper copy of New York Review of Books came is because there is a very unfortunate error of fact in the discussion of "intelligent design" creationism. In addition there is a minor factual error and a misleading emphasis. I alerted NY Review of these errors, and also notified a scholar of ID creationism, but the errors persist in the online version that they posted.
The Discovery Institute claims that it is a scientific, not a religious, enterprise, but that claim was belied when one of its internal documents was discovered. It promised that the institute would "function as a wedge...[to] split the trunk [of materialism] at its weakest points" and "replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God." The institute is mainly funded with evangelical money, and its spokespersons are evangelicals—one, Philip Johnson, says he was inspired by Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon to "devote my life to destroying Darwinism."
1. In fact, it was not Johnson but Jonathan Wells who said that. As it happens, Wells is a "senior fellow" at the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (which changed its name to the Center for Science and Culture).
2. CRSC is one part of the Discovery Institute but Wills conflates DI with CRSC, as do many authors. This is not a major error. I don't know, however, if DI's money comes entirely or mainly from religious groups (and have to rush out now before I can check). CRSC, however, has, shall we say, interesting funding (see below).
3. Unfortunately, Wills actually minimized the alarming character of the people funding ID by labelling them simply "evangelicals," which encompasses everyone from Tony Campolo to Pat Robertson. In fact, much of the original funding for the marketing of "intelligent design" creationism came from none other than Howard Ahmanson, a disciple of Rousas John Rushdoony. Rushdoony, of course, is a "Christian Reconstructionist," an open advocate of replacing the American Republic with a theocracy. My source is Barbara Forrest and Paul Gross's excellent Creationism's Trojan Horse. Forrest was one of the main witnesses in the Kitzmiller case.
As far as I can tell, the other incidents Wills discussed that I've heard about are accurately portrayed.
Obviously, I'm not happy drawing attention to flaws in an article by an author I admire and the thrust of whose argument I fully agree with. But they are there and readers should know about them. tristero 10/30/2006 12:23:00 PM
We Are The Realists
Maybe I'm out of stem with other liberals but this doesn't ring true to me. From a new Greenberg Quinlan Rosner research strategy memo on National Security:
Don't let anti-Bush reflexes undermine Democrats' heritage of internationalism. Over the longer term, Democrats can only retain national leadership and the public's trust if we promote a strong, idealistic, and outward-looking vision of America's purposes in the world. Anti-Bush passion may be enough to drive big gains in 2006. But Democrats cannot afford to let anti-Bushism morph into anti-internationalism. For example, it is troubling that, according to a poll conducted by the German Marshall Fund, a majority of Democrats -- the party that helped bring down apartheid in South Africa and Pinochet in Chile -- now rejects the idea of promoting democracy abroad. Similarly, there are worrisome signs that many Democrats now doubt our ability to improve the world; in the August Democracy Corps survey only a 49-46 percent plurality of Democrats agreed that "America's power is generally a force for good in the world," and fully 60 percent of liberal Democrats chose the alternative statement, that "America's power generally does more harm than good when we act abroad." As The New Republic's Peter Beinart and others have argued, it will be important for Democratic leaders over the coming months and years to push back against such beliefs and to mobilize support within the party's base for a serious international agenda that includes combating jihadist ideology and violence, stemming WMD proliferation, strengthening NATO and our other alliances, supporting the spread of liberal democracy and human rights, and tackling global environmental and humanitarian challenges.
I suspect there is an impulse to pause and take a breath with "democracy promotion" since it's been so bastardized by the neocons these last few years, but I don't get the sense that liberals want to withdraw from the world. What they want is a greater emphasis on international cooperation in dealing with these challenges instead of this militaristic (and yes, imperialistic) view that America must exert its power unilaterally. I don't think there are very many liberals out there who don't see every challenge on that list as something that must be dealt with --- it's the how, not the if.
After watching the Bush administration turn the US into a pariah nation in six short years we liberals recognise that we have some work to do to earn the world's respect and regain our leadership role. We will not have national security or global stability without it. Pretending that we are the same nation that sat atop the rubble of WWII is a foolish naive dream as much as the neocon Pax Americana was.
Liberals are the new realists (in the dictionary, not policy-school sense.)We're not about withdrawing from the world but we recognise that the Bush years have tainted our place in it so badly that the world has withdrawn from us. It's going to take more than evoking the ghost of George Kennan to get our honor back --- and we have to smart enough to be careful about how we do it.
Democrats need to dig deeper than "democracy promotion" and create a better argument if they want to prevail on national security. It shouldn't be too hard. The whole damned world hates us now and if that isn't a Republican failure I don't know what is. Let's start from there.
Many bloggers have pointed out that Jim Webb's novels are on the professional reading list of the US Marine Corps, which would indicate that the adults in the military aren't too shocked by the sex scenes.*
But there is something disturbing on that reading list, which is that the top recomendation for staff sergeants and first lieutenants --- the leaders who generally have the most face to face contact with the locals --- is that piece of trash "The Arab Mind." I had thought that it was only considered a bible by the senior brass. I didn't know they were having the troops read it too. No wonder things have gone so badly.
This is another in a long line of errors, but it points to one of the biggest motivations for this invasion and occupation --- racism. There were far too many people who were willing to believe that when it came to teaching the world who's boss, any arab would do. This book helped create the sense that arabs are all alike and that they are just a little bit less evolved than we purebred (hah!) Americans.
This is terribly unfair to the iraqis and it's unfair to the troops. They should remove that book from the reading list or at least provide some other books on the subject and some guidance. They should not give it to sergeants and first lieutenants and then just tell them to go forth and deal with the Iraqis. It's akin to giving them bad body armor. (Oh wait ... )
* I'm reminded of Ross Perot, who went to the Naval Academy but left the service prematurely because he couldn't take all the cursing.
Many people seem to be convinced that the key to this election is going to be conservative Christians staying home. I don't think so. James Dobson and his ilk are out there telling them to hold their noses and vote for the lesser of two evils and they will do it -- at least for now. And the southern Kristallnacht Republicans will vote for their tribe no matter what.
This, in my view, is the Republican party's big problem --- the suburban, educated voters:
The M.B.A.’s have had it. The engineers are fuming.
For as long as anyone here can remember, Bellevue has been a stronghold of socially liberal Republicanism. First, it was a prosperous Seattle bedroom community, then a technological boomtown, where employees of Microsoft and Internet start-ups consistently voted for fiscal restraint and hands-off government.
But now, voters here are accusing the party in power of overspending and overreaching — and when they do, they sound like people who write manifestos, not software code.
“I’m a mild-mannered guy,” Michael Mattison, a partner in a software venture development firm, said as he stabbed a piece of halibut in the sunlit dining room of a local bistro. “But we can no longer be subdued.”
Bellevue has been growing more Democratic for several years, thanks to an influx of liberal voters and a professional class that is changing teams. This year, Bellevue may send its first Democrat to Congress. Darcy Burner, who even supporters admit is inexperienced, may unseat Representative Dave Reichert, a well-liked, longtime public servant, simply because constituents want Democratic control of the House of Representatives.
“I am a Republican and have traditionally voted that way,” Tony Schuler, an operations services manager at Microsoft with a Harvard M.B.A., said as he sat with his wife, Deanna, in their home above Lake Sammamish. But Mr. Schuler abhors what he sees as a new Republican habit of meddling in private affairs.
“The Schiavo case. Tapping people without a warrant. Whether or not people are gay,” he said. “Let people be free! It’s not government’s job to interfere with those things.”
In Bellevue, the professional is political. Rather than religion or culture, what unites the diverse population — a quarter of residents are foreign born — are the values of their workplaces: technological innovation, accuracy, efficiency.
And this year, one issue incenses them above all others: restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.
It is a matter of concern across the country, even across parties. But for many engineers and their ilk, restriction of stem cell research is what gay marriage is to conservative Christians, a phenomenon so counter to their basic values that they cannot vote for any candidate who supports it. After all, for Bellevue’s professionals, science is not only a means of creating wealth but also an idealistic pursuit, the most promising way they know of improving the human condition.
I think that is one of the most interesting observations I've read in a while (certainly in the New York Times.) The Republicans and the Christian Right are leading America on a backward march into the Dark Ages --- and that is stepping on our dreams. As a culture, we have always been idealistic about progress and inspired by new discoveries to improve the lot of the human race. We're about invention and reinvention. It's one of our best qualities.
These people are telling us that those days are over. We have to depend upon brute force, superstition and ancient revelation. Science is dangerous. Art is frightening. Education must be strictly circumscribed so that children aren't exposed to ideas that might lead them astray.
It's a pinched, sour, ugly vision of America. For those who believe that their time on earth is all about waiting for The Bridegroom, perhaps that doesn't mean much. But for the rest of us, things like scientific breakthroughs or artistic achievement are inspirational, soaring emotional connections with our country and our fellow man. It makes us proud. The dark-ages conservatives want to take that away from us.
This country has been divided at 50/50 for some time. That probably cannot continue much longer and a real majority will emerge before long. Tax-cuts have held together the GOP coalition up to now, but their dark vision of the future may be the thing that finally drives the suburban, educated voters to our side of the ledger for a long time to come. We're the ones with the progressive dream of the future and that's as American as a Big Mac and fries.
Please understand that I think the Dems, in reality, have no incentive to backpedal or go soft on the egregiously awful, even criminal, behavior of our Republican overlords. They should hold them accountable via robust investigations, oversights, and when called for, indictments. That said, in reality there are many obstacles to doing so. The worst, of course, is that the US has a juvenile delinquent for a president who has been double-daring his opponents to make explicit the constitutional crisis he began during the Florida election debacle of 2000, and which he has renewed over Schiavo and the filibuster "nuclear option." Rightly or wrongly, the Democrats will not act in such a way as to force a serious public showdown over Bush's crackpot notion of the "unitary executive" (ie, the idea that the Constitution makes a Republican president an absolute monarch).
But there is another reason the government will remain seriously dysfunctional for a long time (and for you cynics who think government ipso facto is incompetent, far more dysfunctional than it was under previous presidents, and far more dysfunctional than it has to be). This outrage is a good example of why:
Congressional Democrats say a new government publication being sent to all Medicare beneficiaries inappropriately favors private insurance plans over the traditional government-run program.
The publication, the 2007 Medicare handbook, "presents a misleading and biased view of Medicare coverage and options," the Democrats said last week in a letter to Michael O. Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services.
Beneficiaries use the handbook as an authoritative guide. It has become more important in the last few years as Medicare has become more complex, with new insurance options and a prescription drug benefit offered by scores of competing private insurers.
"The 2007 handbook strongly favors health maintenance organizations, preferred provider organizations and other private Medicare Advantage plans over the traditional Medicare fee-for-service program," the Democrats said in the letter.
[boilerplate and vaguely worded denial from the Bush administration.]
Managed care plans often have networks of doctors and hospitals, and beneficiaries may have to pay higher fees, exceeding what they would pay under traditional Medicare, if they go outside the network. In traditional Medicare, patients can choose from a broader range of doctors and hospitals, although a small number of doctors say they do not take Medicare patients because they consider the payments inadequate.
In short, the rightwing assault on the US government since 2000 has been comprehensive and unrelenting. The Bush administration has not only mis-managed from the top, but has deliberately degraded the efficiency and integrity of government at the midlevel as well. It will take years, many years, to remove the godawful incompetents Bush has brought into bureaucracies.
And for the libertarians out there, let me be clear. I don't mind in the slightest having my tax dollars going to support Medicare. But I very much mind having my tax dollars wasted on ideological propaganda designed to undermine Medicare by misrepresenting its benefits and limitations in order to benefit the rich.
Update: Digby here. Sorry to intrude, but I have to add this link to Gary Wills' phenomenal article this week-end in the NY Review of Book on this very topic: A Country Ruled by Faith. (Let's just say Amy Sullivan won't be pleased.)
Down in Wyoming, U.S. Rep. Barbara Cubin got into some hot water when, after a debate, she threatened Libertarian candidate Thomas Rankin, who has multiple sclerosis and uses an electric wheelchair. She reportedly said to him, "If you weren't sitting in that chair, I'd slap you across the face."
She later apologized, saying she may have been influenced by listening to too much Rush Limbaugh. Last week, Limbaugh said he would slap actor and Parkinson's disease sufferer Michael J. Fox, "if you'd just quit bobbing your head."
I knew that he was a degenerate pig, and his comments have all been disgusting on this subject, but I hadn't heard he went that far. Does anyone know if that's true?
*And that woman deserves to lose, both for what she originally said and the idiotic excuse she came up with.
Update: Doh. That's what I get for taking the quote from another blog and not reading the whole article. It's a satire.
Readers urged me to write about this today and it is worth some discussion:
The federal government is investigating the takeover last year of a leading American manufacturer of electronic voting systems by a small software company that has been linked to the leftist Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chávez.
The inquiry is focusing on the Venezuelan owners of the software company, the Smartmatic Corporation, and is trying to determine whether the government in Caracas has any control or influence over the firm’s operations, government officials and others familiar with the investigation said.
The inquiry on the eve of the midterm elections is being conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or Cfius, the same panel of 12 government agencies that reviewed the abortive attempt by a company in Dubai to take over operations at six American ports earlier this year.
The committee’s formal inquiry into Smartmatic and its subsidiary, Sequoia Voting Systems of Oakland, Calif., was first reported Saturday in The Miami Herald.
Officials of both Smartmatic and the Venezuelan government strongly denied yesterday that President Chávez’s administration, which has been bitterly at odds with Washington, has any role in Smartmatic.
“The government of Venezuela doesn’t have anything to do with the company aside from contracting it for our electoral process,” the Venezuelan ambassador in Washington, Bernardo Alvarez, said last night.
(Right. This is worthy of investigation but the president of Diebold saying he was determined to deliver Ohio to Bush in 2004 was just a figure of speech.)
The fact that the government is investigating Hugo "sulphur" Chavez's alleged interest in election machines may very well be part of an emerging post-election GOP narrative. I have believed that Republicans might claim vote fraud in this election for some time. I wrote back in June:
The Republicans have figured out something that the Democrats refuse to understand. All political messages can be useful, no matter which side has created it. You use them all situationally. The Republicans have been adopting our slogans and memes for years. They get that the way people hear this stuff often is not in a particularly partisan sense. They just hear it, in a sort of disembodied way. Over time thye become comfortable with it and it can be exploited for all sorts of different reasons.
In this instance, there has been a steady underground rumbling about stolen elections since 2000. Now, we know that it's the Republicans who have been doing the stealing ---- and the complaining has been coming from our side. But all most people hear is "stolen election" and they are just as likely to paste that charge onto us as they are onto them. It's like an ear worm. You don't know the song its from, necessarily, but you can't get it out of your head.
We have created an ear worm that the Republicans are going to appropriate --- and they will use it much more aggressively and effectively than our side did. They are already gearing up for it. As I mentioned a month or so ago, Karl Rove was at the Republican Lawyers Association talking about how the Democrats are stealing elections:
QUESTION: The question I have: The Democrats seem to want to make this year an election about integrity, and we know that their party rests on the base of election fraud. And we know that, in some states, some of our folks are pushing for election measures like voter ID.
But have you thought about using the bully pulpit of the White House to talk about election reform and an election integrity agenda that would put the Democrats back on the defensive?
ROVE: Yes, it's an interesting idea. We've got a few more things to do before the political silly season gets going, really hot and heavy. But yes, this is a real problem. What is it -- five wards in the city of Milwaukee have more voters than adults?
With all due respect to the City of Brotherly Love, Norcross Roanblank's (ph) home turf, I do not believe that 100 percent of the living adults in this city of Philadelphia are registered, which is what election statistics would lead you to believe.
I mean, there are parts of Texas where we haven't been able to pull that thing off.
And we've been after it for a great many years.
So I mean, this is a growing problem.
The spectacle in Washington state; the attempts, in the aftermath of the 2000 election to disqualify military voters in Florida, or to, in one instance, disqualify every absentee voter in Seminole county -- I mean, these are pretty extraordinary measures that should give us all pause.
The efforts in St. Louis to keep the polls opened -- open in selected precincts -- I mean, I would love to have that happen as long, as I could pick the precincts.
This is a real problem. And it is not going away.
I mean, Bernalillo County, New Mexico will have a problem after the next election, just like it has had after the last two elections.
I mean, I remember election night, 2000, when they said, oops, we just made a little mistake; we failed to count 55,000 ballots in Bernalillo; we'll be back to you tomorrow.
That is a problem. And I don't care whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, a vegetarian or a beef-eater, this is an issue that ought to concern you because, at the heart of it, our democracy depends upon the integrity of the ballot place. And if you cannot...
I have to admit, too -- look, I'm not a lawyer. So all I've got to rely on is common sense. But what is the matter? I go to the grocery store and I want to cash a check to pay for my groceries, I've got to show a little bit of ID.
Why should it not be reasonable and responsible to say that when people show up at the voting place, they ought to be able to prove who they are by showing some form of ID?
We can make arrangements for those who don't have driver's licenses. We can have provisional ballots, so that if there is a question that arises, we have a way to check that ballot. But it is fundamentally fair and appropriate to say, if you're going to show up and claim to be somebody, you better be able to prove it, when it comes to the most sacred thing we have been a democracy, which is our right of expression at the ballot.
And if not, let's just not kid ourselves, that elections will not be about the true expression of the people in electing their government, it will be a question of who can stuff it the best and most. And that is not healthy.
QUESTION: I've been reading some articles about different states, notably in the west, going to mail-in ballots and maybe even toying with the idea of online ballots. Are you concerned about this, in the sense of a mass potential, obviously, for voter fraud that this might have in the West?
ROVE: Yes. And I'm really worried about online voting, because we do not know all the ways that one can jimmy the system. All we know is that there are many ways to jimmy the system.
I'm also concerned about the increasing problems with mail-in ballots. Having last night cast my mail-in ballot for the April 11 run-off in Texas, in which there was one race left in Kerr County to settle -- but I am worried about it because the mail-in ballots, particularly in the Northwest, strike me as problematic.
I remember in 2000, that we had reports of people -- you know, the practice in Oregon is everybody gets their ballot mailed to them and then you fill it out.
And one of the practices is that people will go to political rallies and turn in their ballots. And we received reports in the 2000 election -- which, remember we lost Oregon by 5000 votes -- we got reports of people showing up at Republican rallies and passing around the holder to get your ballot, and then people not being able to recognize who those people were and not certain that all those ballots got turned in.
On Election Day, I remember, in the city of Portland, Multnomah County -- I'm going to mispronounce the name -- but there were four of voting places in the city, for those of you who don't get the ballots, well, we had to put out 100 lawyers that day in Portland, because we had people showing up with library cards, voting at multiple places.
I mean, why was it that those young people showed up at all four places, showing their library card from one library in the Portland area? I mean, there's a problem with this.
And I know we need to make arrangements for those people who don't live in the community in which they are registered to vote or for people who are going to be away for Election Day or who are ill or for whom it's a real difficulty to get to the polls. But we need to have procedures in place that allow us to monitor it.
And in the city of Portland, we could not monitor. If somebody showed up at one of those four voting locations, we couldn't monitor whether they had already cast their mail-in ballot or not. And we lost the state by 5,000 votes.
I mean, come on. What kind of confidence can you have in that system? So yes, we've got to do more about it.
Nobody can ever accuse these Republicans of not having balls. It's really breathtaking sometimes. This is not an isolated remark. Here's an excerpt from yesterday's Chris Matthews show:
MATTHEWS: ... What did you make—we just showed the tape, David Shuster just showed that tape of a woman candidate in the United States openly advising people in this country illegally to vote illegally.
MEHLMAN: It sounds like she may have been an adviser to that Washington state candidate for governor or some other places around the country where this has happened in other cases with Democrats.
But the fact is, one thing we know, the American people believe that legal voters should vote and they believe that their right to vote ought to be protected from people that don‘t have the right to vote.
Rove was talking to the Republican lawyers association, many members of which specialize in "voter fraud," and may very well be preparing to challenge every close race and file spurious complaints to Alberto Gonzales' Justice Department.
And even if they didn't, be prepared to hear all of our complaints about election stealing yelled back at us if they lose. They are not afraid to take somebody elses talking point and use it to their advantage. It's one of the things they do best and because a lot of people don't pay close attention it will sound perfectly reasonable to them that the Democrats stole the election.
Just something to think about as we look to the morning after election day.
One other thing Rove said during that talk before the GOP lawyers:
Well, I learned all I needed to know about election integrity from the college Republicans.
Think Progress has Wolf Blitzer's response to Lynn Cheney's ridiculous claim that she was invited on CNN's the Situation Room 10 days before an election to talk about her dipshit children's book:
Blitzer:...In this most recent interview, she, of course, knew we would would be speaking about politics. That was reaffirmed to her staff only hours before the interview. As a former co-host of Crossfire during the 1990s, she knows her way around the media. She was never shy about sparring with Democratic strategist and co-host.
Lynn Cheney has a schtick and it's the "offended Republican mom responds with righteous indignation." You'll recall her excellent use of it in campaign 2004 with her "this is not a gooood man" line. In this case she aped Bill Clinton's earlier complaint when he was sandbagged on FoxNews by Chris Wallace, but it doesn't hold water --- Blitzer says the wide ranging topics were reaffirmed by her staff before the interview.
Cheney likes to pretend that she is just an indignant political wife and mother, but in fact she's a Republican political operative well-known in her own right --- far more than Hillary Clinton ever was before she became first lady. Lynn and Dick Cheney are the Borgias of American politics.
The minute I heard she was coming on CNN yesterday I posted that everyone should watch because I knew that she was coming out in full Republican harpy mode. That's what she does. It's her thing. I knew she would get especially outraged because her hubby was being heavily criticized for saying that "dunking" terrorists in water was a no-brainer and her own lesbian romance novel was back in the news since George Allen had gotten Drudge to post the sexy scenes from Jim Webb's Vietnam fictions.
In the final days of an election, when the Republicans are confronted with an uncomfortable truth concerning the Borgia clan, they send out Lynn, Queen of the Harpies with her rabid incoherent schtick to shut down that line questioning. It's all about attitude and Lynn has it in spades:
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you agree a dunk in water is a no- brainer if it can save lives?
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Well, it's a no-brainer to me, but I -- for a while there, I was criticized as being the vice president for torture. We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: It made it sound -- and there's been interpretation to this effect -- that he was, in effect, confirming that the United States used this waterboarding, this technique that has been rejected by the international community that simulates a prisoner being drowned, if you will, and he was, in effect, supposedly, confirming that the United States has been using that.
L. CHENEY: No, Wolf -- that is a mighty house you're building on top of that mole hill there, a mighty mountain. This is complete distortion; he didn't say anything of the kind.
BLITZER: Because of the dunking of -- you know, using the water and the dunking.
L. CHENEY: Well, you know, I understand your point. It's kind of the point of a lot of people right now, to try to distort the administration's position, and if you really want to talk about that, I watched the program on CNN last night, which I thought -- it's your 2006 voter program, which I thought was a terrible distortion of both the president and the vice president's position on many issues.
It seemed almost straight out of Democratic talking points using phrasing like "domestic surveillance" when it's not domestic surveillance that anyone has talked about or ever done. It's surveillance of terrorists. It's people who have al Qaeda connections calling into the United States. So I think we're in the season of distortion, and this is just one more.
Nobody does it better. She's as good as anybody in the GOP.
Here she goes right in Blitzer's face:
L. CHENEY: Well, all right, Wolf. I'm here to talk about my book, but if you want to talk about distortion ...
BLITZER: We'll talk about your book.
L. CHENEY: Well, right, but what is CNN doing running terrorist tape of terrorists shooting Americans? I mean, I thought Duncan Hunter ask you a very good question and you didn't answer it. Do you want us to win?
The answer, of course, is we want the United States to win. We are Americans. There's no doubt about that. Do you think we want terrorists to win?
L. CHENEY: Then why are you running terrorist propaganda?
It doesn't get any more aggressive than that. And then she went into an angry spin that would make a dervish dizzy:
BLITZER:Let's talk about another issue in the news, then we'll get to the book. This -- the Democrats are now complaining bitterly in this Virginia race, George Allen using novels -- novels -- that Jim Webb, his Democratic challenger, has written in which there are sexual references, and they're making a big deal out of this. I want you to listen to what Jim Webb said today in responding to this very sharp attack from George Allen.
L. CHENEY: Now, do you promise, Wolf, that we're going to talk about my book?
BLITZER: I do promise.
L. CHENEY: Because this seems to me a mighty long trip around the merry-go-round.
BLITZER: I want you to -- this was in the news today and your name has come up, so that's why we're talking about it, but listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES WEBB (D), VIRGINIA SENATE CANDIDATE: There's nothing that's been in any of my novels that, in my view, hasn't been either illuminated the surroundings or defining a character or moving a plot. I'm a serious writer. I mean, we can go and read Lynne Cheney's lesbian love scenes, you know, if you want to get graphic on stuff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
L. CHENEY: Jim Webb is full of baloney. I have never written anything sexually explicit. His novels are full of sexual, explicit references to incest, sexually explicit references -- well, you know, I just don't want my grandchildren to turn on the television set. This morning, Imus was reading from the novels, and it's triple-X rated.
BLITZER: Here's what the Democratic Party put out today, the Democratic Congressional -- Senatorial Campaign Committee: "Lynne Cheney's book featured brothels and attempted rape. In 1981, Vice President Dick Cheney's wife, Lynne, wrote a book called "Sisters," which featured a lesbian love affair, brothels and attempted rapes."
L. CHENEY: No.
BLITZER: "In 1988, Lynn Cheney wrote about a Republican vice president who dies of a heart attack while having sex with his mistress." Is that true?
L. CHENEY: Nothing explicit. And actually, that was full of lies. It's not -- it's just -- it's absolutely not a...
BLITZER: But you did write a book entitled "Sisters"?
L. CHENEY: I did write a book entitled "Sisters."
BLITZER: And it did have lesbian characters.
L. CHENEY: This description -- no, not necessarily. This description is a lie. I'll stand on that.
BLITZER: There's nothing in there about rapes and brothels?
L. CHENEY: Well, Wolf, could we talk about a children's book for a minute?
BLITZER: We can talk about the children's book. I just wanted to...
L. CHENEY: I think my segment is, like, 15 minutes long and we've had about 10 minutes of...
BLITZER: I just wanted to -- I just wanted to clarify what's in the news today, given -- this is...
L. CHENEY: Sex, lies and distortion. That's what it is.
BLITZER: This is an opportunity for you to explain on these sensitive issues.
L. CHENEY: Wolf, I have nothing to explain. Jim Webb has a lot to explain.
BLITZER: Well, he says he's only -- as a serious writer, novelist, a fiction writer, he was doing basically what you were doing.
L. CHENEY: Jim Webb is full of baloney.
I'm not sure who she persuaded with that argument, but I have no doubt that she impressed all the phony GOP women who profess to be traditionalists but who are actually thoroughly modern power brokers --- and the allegedly traditionalist housewives who voraciously devour those pornographic sexually explicit romance novels while decrying the Democrats' libertine values. Lynn Cheney's incoherent defense soothes their cognitive dissonence and makes them feel better about supporting torture and getting off to women's pornography racy fiction. That was her job, she's a professional and she did it well.
Update: To be clear regarding romance novels. First, I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with (adult) pornography, but I'll accede to the fact that romance novels may not be pornographic in the way that many people think of pornography. But they are indisputably very sexually explicit, which I guess many women find to be different from men's pornography because the sex is in the context of committed relationships. Different strokes (and I mean that in the nicest way.)
In any case, they are no less X-Rated than Jim Webb's books, even if they depict a more romantic form of highly detailed descriptions of sex from a female point of view. I'm all for whatever people enjoy and I'm not passing judgment. My objection was to the hypocrisy of women who read these books and then vote Republican, complaining that the Democrats are libertines. And there are bunches of them. Romance fiction is the highest selling paperback genre in the country.
.... and they are already behaving as the rabid opposition we all know and love. This is from a former Bush speechwriter and published in a Virginia newspaper.
Friends, neighbors, and countrymen of the Left: I hate your lying guts
WHEN I WAS speechwriting at the White House, one rule was enforced without exception. The president would not be given drafts that lowered him or The Office by responding to the articulations of hatred that drove so many of his critics.
This rule was especially relevant to remarks that concerned the central topic of our times, Iraq. Having left the White House more than a year ago, I conclude that the immunizing effect of that rule must have expired, because I now find that I am infected with a hatred for the very quarter that inspired the rule--the deranged, lying left.
I never used to feel hatred for people such as Cindy Sheehan, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, or other pop-culture notables who, for example, sing the praises of Central American dictators while calling President Bush the greatest terrorist on earth. I do now.
And though these figures might be dismissed as inconsequential, their views seem mild compared with those of some of our university professors charged with the "higher" education of our youth.
Thus have I come to hate Ward Churchill, the University of Colorado professor who called the Sept. 11 victims of the World Trade Center "little Eichmanns"; Nicholas De Genova, the Columbia professor who loudly wished "a million Mogadishus" on American troops in Iraq; and Kevin Barrett, the University of Wisconsin professor who teaches his students that President Bush was the actual mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks.
I used to laugh these people off. Now I detest them as among the most loathsome people America has ever vomited up.
I have also grown to hate certain people of genuine accomplishment like Ted Turner, who, by his own contention, cannot make up his mind which side of the terror war he is on; I hate the executives at CNN, Turner's intellectual progeny, who recently carried water for our enemies by broadcasting their propaganda film portraying their attempts to kill American soldiers in Iraq.
I now hate Howard Dean, the elected leader of the Democrats, who, by repeatedly stating his conviction that we won't win in Iraq, bets his party's future on our nation's defeat.
I hate the Democrats who, in support of this strategy, spout lie after lie: that the president knew in advance there were no WMD in Iraq; that he lied to Congress to gain its support for military action; that he pushed for the democratization of Iraq only after the failure to find WMD; that he was a unilateralist and that the coalition was a fraud; that he shunned diplomacy in favor of war.
These lies, contradicted by reports, commissions, speeches, and public records, are too preposterous to mock, but too pervasive to rebut, especially when ignored by abetting media.
Most detestable are the lies these rogues craft to turn grief into votes by convincing the families of our war dead that their loved ones died in vain. First, knowing what every intelligence agency was sure it knew by early 2003, it would have been criminal negligence had the president not enforced the U.N.'s resolutions and led the coalition into Iraq. Firemen sometimes die in burning buildings looking for victims who are not there. Their deaths are not in vain, either.
Second, no soldier dies in vain who goes to war by virtue of the Constitution he swears to defend. This willingness is called "duty," and it is a price of admission into the highest calling of any free nation--the profession of arms. We have suffered more than 2,300 combat deaths in Iraq so far. Not one was in vain. Not one.
These are the people I now hate--these people who seek to control our national security. The best of them are misinformed. The rest of them are liars.
So I intend to vote on Nov. 7. If I have to, I'll crawl over broken glass to do it. And this year I'm voting a straight Republican ticket right down to dog catcher, because I've had it. I'm fed up with the deranged, lying left. They've infected me. I'm now a hater, too.
PAUL BURGESS of Spotsylvania County was director of foreign-policy speechwriting at the White House from October 2003 to July 2005.
I heard this "broken glass" phrase earlier on Chris Matthews week-end show. Kathleen Parker explained that they are calling them "broken glass Republicans who will crawl over broken glass to vote against the Democrats." (This was compared to "Yellow Dog Democrat," but I would point out the yellow dog, at least, was an affirmative vote --- "I'd vote for a yellow dog if he was a Democrat.")
We'll be seeing more of this. Losing liberates them from having to even pretend to be civilized.
Update: One thing to keep in mind about this: he's not getting his hate on about politicians. It's about his fellow citizens. They complain mightily about "Bush hatred," and there's been plenty of it. But there's a difference between hating the leader of a political party and hating your fellow Americans. Take a look at the Amazon listings of political books and you'll see the difference is stark.
William Safire's New Political Dictionary explains the origin of yellow-dog Democrat. When Senator Tom Heflin of Alabama refused to support Democrat Al Smith in the 1928 presidential election, Al Smith's supporters popularized the phrase "I'd vote for a yellow dog if he ran on the Democratic ticket." These Southern Democrats were loyal to their party--they wouldn't vote for Republican Herbert Hoover.
James Wolcott understands Bob Corker better than he understands himself. (It's a masterpiece. Read it.)
I've always felt that the macho Republican closet was probably a spacious walk-in. After all, this isn't exactly subtle:
LIDDY: Well, I—in the first place, I think it’s envy. I mean, after all, Al Gore had to go get some woman to tell him how to be a man [Official Naomi Wolf Spin-Point]. And here comes George Bush. You know, he’s in his flight suit, he’s striding across the deck, and he’s wearing his parachute harness, you know—and I’ve worn those because I parachute—and it makes the best of his manly characteristic. You go run those, run that stuff again of him walking across there with the parachute. He has just won every woman’s vote in the United States of America. You know, all those women who say size doesn’t count—they’re all liars. Check that out. I hope the Democrats keep ratting on him and all of this stuff so that they keep showing that tape.
Glenn Greenwald did a thorough deconstruction of Peggy Noonan's noxious latest, but I do want to emphasize the most important point about it. She is signaling (along with a lot of others) that it's time to purge the Bushmen and, as Glenn says, we shouldn't let them do it:
There remains a broad, reflexive, and very Republican kind of loyalty to George Bush. He is a war president with troops in the field. You can see his heart. He led us in a very human way through 9/11, from the early missteps to the later surefootedness. He was literally surefooted on the rubble that day he threw his arm around the retired fireman and said the people who did this will hear from all of us soon.
Images like that fix themselves in the heart. They're why Mr. Bush's popularity is at 38%. Without them it wouldn't be so high.
But there's unease in the base too, again for many reasons. One is that it's clear now to everyone in the Republican Party that Mr. Bush has changed the modern governing definition of "conservative."
He did this without asking. He did it even without explaining. He didn't go to the people whose loyalty and support raised him high and say, "This is what I'm doing, this is why I'm changing things, here's my thinking, here are the implications." The cynics around him likely thought this a good thing. To explain is to make things clearer, or at least to try, and they probably didn't want it clear. They had the best of both worlds, a conservative reputation and a liberal reality.
And Republicans, most of whom are conservative in at least general ways, and who endure the disadvantages of being conservative because they actually believe in ideas, in philosophy, in an understanding of the relation of man and the state, are still somewhat concussed. The conservative tradition on foreign affairs is prudent realism; the conservative position on borders is that they must be governed; the conservative position on high spending is that it is obnoxious and generationally irresponsible. Etc.
This is not how Mr. Bush has governed. And so in the base today personal loyalty, and affection, bumps up against intellectual unease.
"He did it without asking." Poor Peggy, she was given a political Roofie and taken against her will. I've said it before but I'm going to say it again. Conservatism can never fail, it can only be failed.
The Republicans have fielded five presidents since 1968 and only one of them can be considered politically successful. One out of five. The rest have crashed and burned each time on incompetence, corruption or some combination of the two. I think it's fair to say that neither the modern Republican party or the conservative movement is capable of governance. And there's a reason for that.
The movement conservatives are not really very comfortable on the inside. Witness their absurd appeal above. It's all about the "permanent revolution" for them, even to the extent that they could ridiculously defend Tom DeLay as innocent, upright and under seige from powerful liberal factions less than a year ago. They seem to have realized that it won't work any longer and it's time to begin the conservative purification rituals if they want to keep the revolution alive.
This is why I don't want any of us to think for a moment that winning and losing elections means the same thing to us as it means to them. Democrats believe in government and they want to make it work. Republicans see government purely as a means to exert power. Unfortunately, they are not very good at that because in the modern world sheer, dumb might is no longer possible. The best they can do is loot the treasury and leave the rest of their mess to be cleaned up by the Democrats.
What they really excel at is politics. Governance just hangs them up. And don't think for a moment that they will be chagrined or ashamed and crawl off into a hole to lick their wounds. Being defeated liberates them to do what they are really good at --- destroying the opposition and pushing their agenda with sophisticated, scorched earth political rhetoric. It's not natural for them to be on the defense and they don't like it. They are going back to their natural state --- victimhood and the aggressive attack.
Get ready. The Democrats will not only have to govern, but they will have to fix all the problems they've created while fighting them every step of the way. They're not going away. And they will pull out every stop to win every election, not because they necessarily want to govern but because that's how you keep score. For a long, long time they've been able to get their way whether they win or lose and they see no reason to doubt that will continue. And unless we put a stop to this they might be right.
LET THE HEARINGS BEGIN! Subpoena Envy by Michael Crowley
As the Lord High Executioner said in The Mikado, 'I have a little list.'" So says John Dingell, the 26-term Michigan House Democrat who spent 14 years as a mighty committee baron before the 1995 Republican Revolution booted him into the powerless minority. At last poised to reclaim his House Energy and Commerce Committee gavel, the 80-year-old Dingell now sounds like a man who can't wait for 2007. Though he knows a House Democratic majority won't pass much legislation, especially given George W. Bush's veto pen, his chairmanship means he can subject the Bush administration to high-profile committee hearings--lots and lots of them.
"Privacy," he begins. "Social Security-number protection. Outsourcing protection. Unfair trade practices. Currency manipulation. Air quality. We'll look at the implementation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. We'll take a look at climate change. We'll take a look at [the Department of Energy's] nuclear waste program, where literally billions of dollars are being dissipated. We'll look at port security and nuclear smuggling, where there's literally nothing being done. We'll look at the Superfund program. We'll take a look at EPA enforcement." He pauses for a breath--but he's just getting started: "On health, we'll take a look at Medicaid and waivers. The Food and Drug Administration. Generic drug approval. Medical safety. We'll also take a look at food supplements, where people are being killed. We will look at Medicare Part D [prescription drugs]." Is that all? "Telecom. We'll look at FCC actions. ... Media ownership. Adequate spectrum for police, fire, public safety, and addressing the problems of terrorism. ... We will look also at the overall question of Katrina recovery efforts."
As Democrats have gained in the polls, Republicans are predicting that a Democratic majority will mean a frenzy of political witch hunts directed at them by newly installed chairmen like Dingell. "You can expect two years of all-out investigations and attacks and anything they can bring to bear," Newt Gingrich warned on Fox News last March. Clearly aiming to calm the hysteria, George H.W. Bush recently warned it would be a "ghastly thing" for the United States if "wild Democrats" were put in charge of congressional committees. A Washington Times article fretted that "key administration officials will be so busy preparing for testimony that they will not be able to do their jobs."
But the curious thing about Dingell's little list is that it targets policies--not people. While some Democrats may dream of hauling Karl Rove to the Hill to discuss Plamegate or forcing Dan Bartlett to testify about Dick Cheney's hunting accident, Dingell is one of a number of future Democratic chairs who plan to focus on substance, not sideshows. And, as strange as it sounds, this may not come as a relief to Republicans. The GOP would love nothing more than for Democrats to go off on half-cocked, mean-spirited inquisitions that generate sympathy for the hapless Bushies. Alas, the GOP's conduct during the Clinton years has provided Democrats with a near-perfect what-not-to-do manual.
If they have the guts to do this, and do it right, if they win the Democrats will have it in their power to end this cycle and shut the door on this era of conservative politics. Otherwise we will remain their cats-paws no matter which party is in the majority.
Jane's feeling Clarkie today and for good reason. Wes Clark has made a helluva good commercial for Ned Lamont. Jane sez:
Nice to see someone with guts who isn't intimidated by No Show Joe's petulant threats against the Democratic party.
As some of you may remember, I was a Clarkie in the last round of primaries and I still like the guy. He's spent the last two years working tirelessly for candidates all over the country and he is, as Jane points out, not intimidated by ossified GOP enablers or the Democratic establishment.
He also respects actual Democratic voters. I think that one of the reasons the netroots backed Dean and Clark in great numbers during the primaries was that simple fact. They both respected the base of the Democratic party -- the people who devote their energy and their money to the party and believe in Democratic principles. That's a rarity in Democratic establishment politics, as Joe Lieberman has demonstrated for us once again.
Clark's campaign fizzled and Dean's went out with a bang, but they were the first glimmer that the base of the Democratic party --- the netroots, in particular --- had had it with Washington's game. It's a lesson that still hasn't completely sunk in. But it's beginning to. And we're not going anywhere.
Good for Clark for being smart enough to see the future and gutsy enough to act on it.
You've got to give George Allen credit for gall. He's making his pitch that Webb's a pervert by trying to tie it to Webb's 1978 (admittedly misogynistic) article about women in the military academies. Allen is using a feminist argument to accuse Webb of being a sex fiend. (His novels are “servile, subordinate, inept, incompetent, promiscuous, perverted, or some combination of these.”) It's an interesting tactic coming from a man who is well documented as having a proclivity to literally spit on women:
I stepped near the governor and smiled, told him my name and that I wrote for the local newspaper. Then I asked him a softball question, what some reporters call a "set-up."
"Does Southwest Virginia need these jobs?" I asked.
He stopped and looked straight at me. He had to look down at me, because he stood so tall in those cowboy boots. I thought I spotted a twinkle in his eye, and for a moment, I suspected he might give a humorous, light-hearted answer. Then he leaned forward and looked all the way down at the pavement. I figured he was planning a perfectly crafted answer to my question. I put pen to paper, ready to take it down. His lips puckered as if he might speak.
Then, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia gathered up a glob of tobacco-laced saliva. He used his lips to squirt it out, as if he had practiced. The spit landed just at the tip of my shoe. He grinned, but didn't say a word. Then he walked into the building.
From the sound of the other stories related at the above link, it isn't only african americans who piss Allen off, it's women too.
Allen has refused to release his divorce records and his arrest records. It's not a stretch to assume that when his best behavior as a potential candidate for president includes bullying and intimidating dark skinned folks and women, his past is filled with some really disgusting episodes.
Jennifer Allen, documents many cases of her brother's bullying in her book Fifth Quarter: The Scrimmage of a Football Coach's Daughter. Read the excerpts below.
Explaining why she is scared of heights, Ms. Allen writes that "Ever since my brother George held me over the railing at Niagara Falls, I've had a fear of heights." [Fifth Quarter: The Scrimmage of a Football Coach's Daughter, page 43]
Referring to George's relationship with one of her boyfriends: "My brother George welcomed him by slamming a pool cue against his head." [Fifth Quarter: The Scrimmage of a Football Coach's Daughter, page 178]
Referring to George's early leadership skills, Jennifer wrote: "We all obeyed George. If we didn't, we knew he would kill us. Once, when Bruce refused to go to bed, George hurled him through a sliding glass door. Another time, when Gregory refused to go to bed, George tackled him and broke his collarbone. Another time, when I refused to go to bed, George dragged me up the stairs by my hair." [Fifth Quarter: The Scrimmage of a Football Coach's Daughter, page 22]
Referring to George's early career aspirations, Jennifer wrote "George hoped someday to become a dentist. George said he saw dentistry as a perfect profession - getting paid to make people suffer." [Fifth Quarter: The Scrimmage of a Football Coach's Daughter, page 22]
Referring to George's habit of terrorizing a Green Bay Packer fan in their neighborhood, Jennifer wrote that the fan's mailbox often "lay smashed in the street, a casualty of my brothers' drive-by to school in the morning. George would swerve his Mach II Mustang while Gregory held a baseball bat out the window to clear the mailbox off its post. . . . Lately, the Packers fan had resorted to stapling a Kleenex box to the mailbox post to receive his mail. George's red Mustang screeched up beside us, the Packers fan's Kleenex mailbox speared on the antenna." [Fifth Quarter: The Scrimmage of a Football Coach's Daughter, page 16]
Humans have a very complex, highly evolved way of interpreting a speaker's intent, which includes an instinctive understanding of paralinguistics and body language. I think that one of the things that struck most of us on a gut level about the macaca video was the expression on Allen's face and the tone in his voice. There was look in the eye that most of us can recognise right away as nasty, derisive bullying, no matter how bland his actual words. You can feel it. You know it when you see it. And the documentary evidence bears out what we saw. He's a nasty prick.
Here is how the kewl kidz look at politics. I was just watching Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and they did a segment on the attack ads we are seeing this cycle. They led off with the Harold Ford Playboy ad and the Michael J. Fox ad in Missouri.
Did you see the Fox ad as an attack ad? Did he disparage Talent's character or imply that he was a bad person? Was he appealing to peoples baser nature by playing to their prejudices? Or, as the nation's premiere advocate for Parkinson's disease, did he just ask people to vote for Claire McCaskill because she supported stem cell research and Talent didn't --- a straighforward, endorsement based upon a single issue. I don't see any attack in it at all.
I suspect the sad truth is that the kewl kids think it's hitting below the belt for a disabled person to appear in an advertisement --- just as Rush does. They obviously think it's manipulative and wrong to show the actual results of an illness for which you are advocating. After all, somebody might be having dinner and they don't want to have to look at that icky sick stuff that makes them feel all guilty and uncomfortable. Therefore, tt's an attack if someone endorses a particular candidate and he isn't "normal."
These DC elites really need to get out more. Sick, disabled, elderly imperfect people are very common out here in the real world. I would imagine it could even happen to some of them too --- and when it does I don't want to hear about their conversions to the cause. If you have to personally experience something before you have compassion for it or understand it you are an immature, shallow person. Which is what they are.
A number of commenters have objected to my characterization of Katie Couric's interview with Michael J. Fox. yesterday. Obviously I need to explain why I think it was wrong.
First of all, this is not actually a "controversy" in any legitimate sense. It was ginned up by Rush and the right wing noise machine to try to discredit a powerful spokesman for this issue, which is a very dangerous one for the Republican party. Now, it may be that the backlash against Rush will prove to have been worse than the fake one he and the press tried to create, but that's a testament to the basic decency of most people and the class act that is Michael J. Fox.
From the moment that Rush began his tirade (for which he has not apologized, despite the press's insistence that he has) the issue became whether Fox was faking his symptoms or failing to control them, whether it was right for him to show them at all, whether people should be "playing the gimp card" etc. All this is part and parcel of the right's ongoing program of character assassination. (Coulter recently took on the 9/11 widows, you'll recall.) Rush made this explicit earlier this week:
This is a script that they have written for years. Senate Democrats used to parade victims of various diseases or social concerns or poverty up before congressional committees and let them testify, and they were infallible. You couldn't criticize them. Same thing with the Jersey Girls after the 9-11 -- and in the period of time when the 9-11 Commission was meeting publicly. Victims -- infallible, whatever they say cannot be challenged. I don't follow the script anymore.
That's absurd, of course. The right holds up all kinds of people as being unassailable, particularly (Republican) veterans and religious figures. But that's not even the point. Nobody says you can't criticize a "victim's" point of view or disagree with their take on the issue. Rush could have made a straightforward argument that stem cell research is wrong. But the right wing almost never does this on any issue anymore. Virtually every time, they attack the person's character.
They do this for a number of reasons. The first is to give their followers some reason to reject a compelling argument like that set forth by Fox. They send this idea into the ether that Fox is faking it and create a controversy that suddenly makes what seems to be self-evident --- Michael J. Fox is suffering horribly from a dread disease that might be cured with stem cell research --- into a matter of interpretation. It furthers their meme that Democrats are phonies and flip-floppers who don't stand for anything. It helps their base come to terms with their own internal contradictions. They have turned spin into a worldview.
But they also want to advance the idea that the message always depends upon who is delivering it and you can accept or reject it purely on the basis of tribal identification. ("Don't think, meat.") And to do that they've introduced a form of congitive relativism in which there is no such thing as reality. The press's lazy "he said/she said" form of journalism reinforces it.
We've seen quite a bit of this in the campaign. In this case they are trying to make people feel ok about selling sick people down the river with the religious right's irrational devotion to saving embryos and the braindead at the expense of everyone else. In another, just a couple of weeks ago we saw James Dobson of Focus On The Family and many Republican politicians make a case that the Mark Foley scandal was a political dirty trick or that the pages had set him up.
Katie Couric becomes part of the problem when she validates these ginned up controversies or gives credence to accusations for which there is no evidence. She knows very well that nobody can really doubt Fox's sincerity. He's raised tens of millions of dollars for the cause and it's evident to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear that he's got this horrible disease. He should not have to prove that he's not faking his symptoms and it's unconscionable that the media is allowing the issue to be framed that way.
If it was necessary to refute Limbaugh's ridiculous claims, she should have had a leading expert in Parkinson's come on to discuss the symptoms and then interview Fox about the issue itself. Instead she presented it like a "he said/she said" by interrogating Michael J. Fox about whether it was proper for him to go ahead with the shoot when it appeared that he was going to look like a Parkinson's sufferer on camera. In doing so she validated the accusation that he might have been faking it when the only "evidence" was Limbaugh's noxious ravings.
Yes, Fox was articulate and well able to defend himself because he has been in the public eye nearly his entire life, he's a professional and he has guts. And every time he appears he probably helps the cause of stem cell research because of that. But that doesn't change the fact that this method of dealing with phony right wing noise machine controversies leads to all those who oppose Rush Limbaugh's version of reality being constantly on the defensive over nothing. The press knows it, just as they know without doubt that Michael J. Fox is a sincere and legitimate spokesman for stem cell research who isn't faking a bloody thing. They persist because it's an easy way to pretend they are not biased. But it is biased in itself and it's a major reason why the rightwing has been so successful.
Even after that interview, the CBS web-site is running a poll today that asks:
Was Michael J. Fox exaggerating his Parkinson's disease symptoms for political effect?
Here's an email from a reader on this subject:
I cannot explain to you how seething mad I am over the remarks made by Limbaugh and his friends in the conservative shithole universe. I thought I reached the boiling point when I was able to view the Limbaugh video of that fatass druggie mocking, MOCKING Fox's symptoms. Then, I thought I would lose it when Lauer said "Didn't Limbaugh just say what everyone was really thinking?". All wrong, the final nail was the Couric interview and the portion you wrote about. What the hell is the matter with people in this country when they're questioning the authenticity of a person with a horrible, progressive disease?
As a 23yo male who's been battling against a progressive disease(Cystic Fibrosis) all his life and will continue to do so until a cure is found, the original Michael J. Fox ad was both moving and forceful. I've been singing the hopeful benefits of stem cells for years now and have even managed to sway a few decent republicans my way; indeed, my political transformation was mostly spearheaded by the stem cell issue in 2001 and subsequent utter failures by the.worst.president.ever.
People with progressive diseases already wear different masks for different occasions, but when it comes to treatments for our diseases, we're supposed to put on a happy face and say, "hey, maybe one day if congress comes around something fruitful will happen!!"? Not in my lifetime. It's bad enough I feel as if I have to compose myself as a somewhat healthy person during school, social events or else face stares and neverending questions, but when people like Fox are attacked in a very public way for "coming out of the closet" so to speak, then I seriously start to question and worry for this country. Like you said, should we just stay in our rooms and hope one day those without disease will champion our causes?
It's like war; who do you want leading the fight? Some general with battlefield experience or the ivy educated whizkid? I think the current events answer that one.
I'm mad. I'm pissed. I literally want to throw something at the TV every time I see some offthewall commentator proffer up his/her worthless opinion on what Fox should and shouldn't be doing and how it's so "political." You're left with one option against a progressive disease -- to stay alive using every option, treatment possible. And in this current "war," the patients with diseases such as Fox's and mine are stepping onto the field not only without any armor, but without a gun too.
How sad America has become when science is simply a tool to bludgeon the head of those who advocate its welcome benefits.
That's what Rush and the cynical political creeps he represents don't want people to hear. They know they are on the wrong side of this issue.
If you want to see the full depth of Limbaugh's depravity and media complicity on this, Media Matters has documented the whole thing.