Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Fit to print: GOP plans bill condemning New York Times

Mind you, this is just a bill condemning them; it doesn't have any legal leverage. It just basically says, "New York Times, you've been bad. Shame on you."

The issue? Recently the Times reported that the Bush administration condones a government program to monitor banking records, as The Hill reports. Our Beloved President stood up and indignantly cried, "We're at war! We can't defend our country and our freedoms at the same time!" Okay, I'm paraphrasing, but that's what it amounts to.

The funny thing is that the Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal all ran this story, but it's only the Gray Lady that Bush is bashing, and that Congressional Republicans are preparing to bash. I guess it's the old narrative of America versus those damned East Coast liberals again (but I'm pretty sure that Wall Street is on the East Coast.) Faux populism rides again!

Even more insidious is Representative J.D. Hayworth (R-Arizona), who's working on a bill to revoke the New York Times' press credentials. Not the Los Angeles Times' and the Wall Street Journal's, mind; just the New York Times'. Yeah, make sure that messenger is killed good and dead.

America's conservatives are acting spectacularly disgustingly these days, probably due to the fact that polls are against them and their president, and with an election coming up in just over four months, that's a problem. Still, I bet the New York Times feels awfully foolish for having run all those stories backing the Bush lies for attacking Iraq without doing the perquisite research first.

Moral: never trust the Bushes. Never even be nice to them. When in doubt, ask Tony Bliar.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Flag desecration amendment fails!

By a 66-34 vote today, the proposed anti-flag desecration amendment to the Constitution failed. It's a triumph for freedom in America—albeit by a hair's breadth.

59 senators actually sponsored this travesty, mostly Republicans. In fact, all but three Republicans sponsored it, and the only Republican who didn't sponsor it but who voted for it anyway was Oregon's Gordon Smith (who's up for reëlection in 2010—go get 'im, Democrats!)

The full breakdown of this near-breakdown of the Constitution is as follows:

Democrats in favor:

Max Baucus (Montana)
Evan Bayh (Indiana)
Mark Dayton (Minnesota—the bastard's retiring this year. Good. I used to like him, you know...)
Diane Feinstein (California)
Tim Johnson (South Dakota)
Mary Landrieu (Louisiana)
Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas)
Bob Menendez (New Jersey—the disappointing rumor is true.)
Bill Nelson (Florida)
Ben Nelson (Nebraska)
Harry Reid (Nevada—the other part of the disappointing rumor is true.)
John Rockefeller (West Virginia—I always thought better of him.)
Ken Salazar (Colorado)
Debbie Stabenow (Michigan—what the hell?!?)
Republicans opposed:

Robert Bennett (Utah—a pleasant surprise)
Lincoln Chafee (Rhode Island—no surprise, but his Republican primary challenger is already using this against him.)
Mitch McConnell (Kentucky—conservative prick with apparently respectable free speech principles. At least on this issue. Credit where credit is due.)

The benefit of this to the Republicans would have been that if it passed, the vote would have to go to the state legislatures, and three quarters of them—at least 38 states—would have to approve it to make it an amendment to the Constitution. Whether it passed or not, it would have helped Republicans in midterm elections to have everyone talking about the flag instead of, say, wiretapping or Iraq or the lack of jobs or inflation or some trifle like that. This vote just made the Republicans' job that much harder for this November. It's about bigger things, sure, but to them, I have to wonder if they see it as anything but a potential assist to their political strategy for 2006? Disgusting.

Anyway, cooler heads have prevailed. Barely. I can name a few on the yes list who aren't going to be around come January (and four on the no list who probably won't, either.) Hopefully it won't be so close next time (and you *know* that as long as there's a Fourth of July, and an election season, there will be a next time...)

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Democrats: America's proven security party.

So the Republicans are trying to shore up support for this year's elections by "declassifying" documents that contain information that was given to the press in 2002 and 2003 about how we haven't found any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but we're still looking. They're referring to this as a development; some are even going so far as to claim it's proof that such weapons were found.

Really, it's just an attempt to muddy the waters of the debate. But if they want to make this election about national security, let's look at a few prime, recent examples of how national security and military issues were handled by the two major parties:

—The Bush administration ignored warnings about al Qaeda left by the Clinton administration, focusing instead on space-based missile defense (until September 11, 2001.)

—The Bush administration attacked Afghanistan but ordered U.S. troops to let Osama bin Laden escape when they had him cornered at Tora Bora.

—The Bush administration attacked Iraq based on fabricated evidence.

—The Bush administration got us stuck in Iraq, which we can't pacify and we can't abandon.

—The Clinton administration attacked al Qaeda encampments in Afghanistan in 1998, which Republicans condemned as a bloodthirsty act.

—The Clinton administration foiled a terrorist bombing plot on the World Trade Center in 1997. (I remember this well—most of the terrorists lived in my Jersey City, New Jersey neighborhood, and the nights were filled with police sirens for nearly a week.)

—The Clinton administration pushed for increased airline security, which was pushed aside by our Republican Congress, acting at the behest of the wishes of the airline industry. (The Bush administration, of course, did nothing to help with airline security until September 11, 2001.)

That list is by no means definitive; I'm sure you could come up with more examples (and I encourage you to post them in the comments section.) The bottom line is: if you look at the track record of the Republicans, you wouldn't think of them as the national security party at all. In fact, considering how the Republicans have handled security versus the Democrats, you'll probably want to thank God we all haven't been killed yet.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

How can the Chinese tolerate internet censorship?

Did I say Chinese? I meant Kentuckians.

Governor Ernie Fletcher is in hot water with a massive cronyism scandal, which prompted him to pardon 27 state employees last year—even though no indictments had been proffered. Fletcher didn't pardon himself, probably only because he can't do that.

So what's a poor, besieged governor to do? Why, he goes ahead and blocks The Bluegrass Report, which is a leading liberal blog that focuses on Kentucky politics. Also Wonkette has been blocked, which is a more general liberal site. In fact, it seems that loads of liberal and Democratic sites are getting blocked, while conservative sites are left alone. Numerous conservative Kentucky blogs are left accessible (not to mention Fox News and the Drudge Report.) Why? Why could this be, I wonder? Why?

Frankly, this seems foolish on Fletcher's part. If my office were in trouble, I'd want to know what they were thinking outside, and I'd want my employees to, too. This circle-the-wagons mentality isn't good for keeping Kentucky's employees in the loop as to what the people of their state are thinking. In fact, pulling wool over their eyes will only serve to drive home the idea that things are very wrong—possibly wronger than they actually are. Bad move, Mr. Governor.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Lieberman's bears.

Longtime Connecticut residents might remember Senator Lieberman's cartoon TV commercials back in 1988 where he showed incumbent Senator Lowell Weicker as a grumpy old bear in a cave. The commercials, I understand, were a hit, and Lieberman, as we know, got elected.

Now it's been eighteen years and, at the end of his third term, Joe Lieberman is facing an outside challenger himself, this time from fellow Democrat Ned Lamont, as I've mentioned previously in True or Better. Perhaps because it all seems like déjà vu all over again, Lieberman's trotted out the old bear commercials, but this time, Lowell the Bear is joined by Ned the Bear. It's a cute effort on the senator's part to paint himself as a kind of iconoclast, but that's a trick that's hard to pull off when you're a three-term incumbent, and it doesn't work.

Maybe it's just me, but these commercials make me think of other bears...

"Neddie! I’ve been meaning to talk to you!”

“What about, Ranger Joe?”

“Well, I’ve noticed you’ve gone through some personality changes lately.”

“Like what, Ranger Joe?”

“Well, it’s just that you used to be one of the good bears, Neddie. You always listened to us Rangers, never bothering the campers, sticking to the woods, eating nuts and berries. What happened?”

”I just wanted a little red meat, Mr. Ranger. Is that so wrong?”

”Frankly... yes. Nuts and berries, Neddie. Nuts and berries.”

”But Mr. Ranger... why do I have these sharp, pointy teeth?”

”Why do you... Oh, I get it. You’ve been talking to that bad Lowell Bear, haven’t you?”

”You mean that bear who doesn’t like you, Mr. Ranger? Not really. This stuff sort of occurred to me on my own.”

”Well, I don’t like him either. He’s always trying to steal picnic baskets, bother the campers, run for Governor of Connectistone Park. He’s not in charge, Neddie. I am. Ever since us Rangers came in and set this park up, it’s been our show, and what we say... Hey, Neddie! Where’re you going?”

”Huh? Oh, there’s some hamburgers over at that campsite, and I’m going to get some.”

”Neddie! You have no right! You can’t do this! I’m the Ranger here! You gave me a contribution, dammit! Oh, that Neddie... He used to be one of the good bears...”

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Murtha's bid for Pelosi's job: what's going on?

Representative John Murtha of Pennsylvania recently declared that if the Democrats take the House this November, he'll seek Nancy Pelosi's job as House Leader. Maryland Representative Steny Hoyer's feathers got ruffled over this, too. Sure is a lot of fuss over something that hasn't happened yet, isn't it?

It occurred to me that maybe the talk about who would run the House if the Democrats won is part of a strategy to make it seem more likely that the Democrats will win. If we're already talking about how we're going to run the show after victory, will that make voters believe more in a Democratic victory, and thus more likely to vote Democratic this fall?

I don't know if anyone thought that far ahead, but it seems plausible. When it comes to Pelosi, Murtha or Hoyer as Majority Leader, I'm not madly for either of them. My dream Majority Leader is Rep. Tim Ryan (OH-17), but he won't be running this time. Maybe some day. Maybe some day Ryan will run for president! Hell, he's got my vote already, if he can get on the ballot. Tim Ryan is the man.

Anyway, I'm glad Murtha's agreed to cool it on the challenge for now. I have a hunch that getting such talk out there will help project a picture of Democratic inevitability, and that's a good thing.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Virginia primary will make a difference either way

This year, there's a Democratic primary contest between former Reagan administration Navy Secretary Jim Webb and the more liberal millionaire, Harris Miller. It's turning into quite a contest, with Webb still as the Democratic favorite. Recently a kerfuffle has arisen over some Webb literature with a caricature of Miller with a hooked nose and money spilling from his pockets. The Miller campaign says it's anti-Semitic, but the Webb campaign denies it. I've searched the web to see if I could find a picture of Miller showing whether his nose really is hooked or not, but to no avail. If anyone out there can help me out, I'd appreciate it. Just post a link in the comments, thanks.

It's true about Miller having money spilling out of his pockets—metaphorically, at least. Miller is a lobbyist, which is one of those things that's been getting a lot of bad press lately. I'm betting this will help Webb's bid, and the charges of anti-Semitism will come to naught.

This is bad news for Republican incumbent Senator George Allen. Although Allen will probably win reëlection, a strong challenge this year could bloody Allen's nose before his 2008 presidential bid, and will drain resources from his campaign war chest. And there's always the possibility (though it's unlikely) that the Democrats will have an even better night than many expect, and wind up winning in Virginia, which would be nice, but I'm not counting on that. You never know, though. Allen could wind up getting caught in some creepy sex scandal or something and see his whole campaign melt down, which would be an easy in for the Democrats. No guarantees of that, though, and that's certainly not a contingency to plan around.

At any rate, if the Democrats' Virginia U.S. Senate candidate loses (whoever it is,) he'll still look good, because there's no shame in taking on a strong incumbent like Allen and losing. And that means a deeper bench for the 2009 gubernatorial race, which would be nice to see play into the Democrats' hands... for the third time in a row! This is sure to make Republican Lieutenant Governor Bolling nervous, come what may.

I look forward to a healthy primary and a healthy Senate race. And may the best Democrat win.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont on gay marriage

Incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut had this to say about gay marriage: "Although I am opposed to gay marriage, I have also long believed that states have the right to adopt for themselves laws that allow same-sex unions." That's... above average, I'm afraid. But Senator Lieberman, who was Al Gore's running mate in 2000, has a challenger for the Democratic nomination this year—a man named Ned Lamont. On the same subject, Mr. Lamont had this to say: "If two people want to get married, God bless them."

Ned Lamont started what looked like a longshot challenge to Lieberman this winter, but he's looking surprisingly stronger than expected. Lamont needed to get at least 15% of the vote in a pre-primary of sorts in order to keep his campaign running; he won 33%. And he's looking stronger.

The actual Democratic primary is slated for August 8, when Lamont could possibly take Lieberman out of the running. Since the Republicans don't even seem to be fielding a candidate this year, though there is talk about a man named Alan Schlesinger running on their ticket, though Mr. Schlesinger's name doesn't even appear on the state party's web site, which doesn't speak well for him. What's that about, anyway?

I like Mr. Lamont's position on gay marriage. Lamont speaks up and actually takes a Democratic stand on issues. Mr. Lieberman is entitled to his point of view, of course, but likewise, I'm entitled to mine, too, which says that Lieberman has no place in the Democratic Party anymore. Lieberman claims to be unfazed by this. He pointed out that the cutoff date for registering your Senate bid is August 9—the day after the Democratic primary. Lieberman didn't say he wouldn't run as an independent if the nomination went to Lamont, but I dunno. I think Lieberman is trying to frighten his state's Democrats into backing him up.

I say that if Connecticut Democrats want to take down an established, safe incumbent and place an energetic progressive like Ned Lamont on their ballot instead, God bless them.