Thank George Bush for This One

Via The Political Wire:

Poll Finds 73% of Young Voters Will Vote

"If the 2004 and 2005 elections are any indicator, young voters will continue to turn out at the polls in record numbers in upcoming elections... A new poll released by Young Voter Strategies, a project of the George Washington Graduate School of Political Management, shows that 73 percent of young people who are eligible to vote are likely to cast ballots this November."

Said YVS director Heather Smith: "This generation will be 25 percent of the population by 2016 and it is likely that the party that wins in 2006 will be the party in power in 10 years."
These are people that grew up watching The Real World. Sex Ed and Gay Baiting won't sell Republicanism to enough of them to keep the GOP coalition together.

From the Campaigns & Elections:
Turnout in 2004 among the 18-to-24 year old bloc increased 11 percent over 2000 turnout, while general turnout increased only by four percent. In key governor races in Virginia and New Jersey in 2005, youth turnout continued to grow while general turnout dropped. A new poll released by Young Voter Strategies, a project of the George Washington Graduate School of Political Management, shows that 73 percent of young people who are eligible to vote are likely to cast ballots this November.
Ok, I'm a little suspicious of the 73% statistic. But I do believe that people in my generation voted more in 2004 and will vote more in 2008 (and beyond) because George W. Bush taught them that it's important to pick your leaders - otherwise people that are more than half way to being dead will pick them for you. And their priorities have nothing to do with taking care of you in your old age. Or keeping the air you'll breath clean. Or making sure people around the world don't hate you...

Best of all, more young people self identify as Democrats / Progressives / Liberals. And the Democratic Party Platform lends itself to appealing to young voters because it's actually about the future.

All a candidate needs to do to appeal (not pander) to these voters is mix talk about long term issues like environmental protection and controlling the National Debt with the issues that mean something to them. Stop talking about tax credits for parents putting kids through college and start talking about tax credits for people carrying massive amounts of college debt. And any effort to make rent payments tax deductible would be great too.

The point is that whoever goes after this block of oft-ignored voters will get them.
The survey also found that 63 percent of respondents thought that the country was on the wrong track. The top three issues that concerned young voters were gas prices, education and jobs and the economy. Forty-nine percent of those polled believed that Democrats would do a better job of addressing their top issue, while 28 percent believed Republicans would do a better job. In a generic ballot question, 45 percent said they would vote Democrat while only 26 percent said they would vote Republican.
The signs are good, Democrats just need to pick up on them.

No Love for Bilbray

John McCain, who'll let himself be photographed hugging the President after Bush's campaign called his wife crazy and will speak at an institution started and operated by a man who McCain himself called an 'Agent of intolerance,' will NOT be seen with Brian Bilbray, Republican Candidate for Randy 'Duke' Cunningham's newly vacated Senate seat.

From the AP:

U.S. Sen. John McCain on Tuesday canceled an appearance for a Republican congressional candidate who has attacked his opponent for supporting McCain's immigration bill.


Bilbray, a former congressman who worked as a lobbyist for an anti-immigration group, has repeatedly attacked [the Democratic Candidate, Francine} Busby for supporting the immigration bill passed last week in the Senate. McCain was a principal architect of the bill.

In an e-mail sent to the Bilbray campaign, McCain spokesman Craig Goldman acknowledged that McCain and Bilbray "disagree on some of the issues related to immigration reform."
Sounds like Bilbray's in a bit of trouble. CA-50 would be a great pick up...

"Taking the Long Way" - Dixie Chicks

My fiance, long time Dixie Chicks fan, picked up the new Dixie Chicks album yesterday. I have not yet had a chance to pry it away from her long enough to listen to it, though I intended to do so and have a review here today. Tomorrow. Maybe.

The Washington Post had this to say about the album:

"Taking the Long Way" is a tuneful tour de force, overflowing with rich melodies, soaring harmonies and otherwise sharp pop songcraft.

Still, many country music fans will likely disapprove of the group's new direction. But, then, what else is new?

The Dixie Chicks, of course, were all but excommunicated from the church of country music in 2003, when the best-selling Texas trio had the temerity to pop off about President Bush and the war in Iraq. "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas," lead singer Natalie Maines said onstage in London that year. The remarks riled up the Chicks' red-state base, leading to a bitter backlash that included radio boycotts of the Chicks' 2002 album, "Home," plus all manner of insults, denouncements and even death threats. ("Home" sold 6 million copies -- half the total of the group's 1998 album, "Wide Open Spaces.")
Oh, and Toby Keith can suck on the fact that the Dixie Chicks album will be number one on Billboard's charts next week.

I'm not a fan of most country music. Some of it's the politics, but mostly it's the plasticy feeling it has. So few big country stars write their own stuff... Even fewer feel genuine. They write songs about other people's lives. They all pretend to be just like you. I think that's what really rubs me the wrong way. There are exceptions. I owned Johnny Cash albums before the movie and the 'Hurt' video. I appreciated the Dixie Chicks for their craft and their songwriting. Pissing on Toby Keith was the icing on the cake.

Anyway, hopefully I'll have a chance to digest the album tonight...


By all rights, this should already be a huge story. It isn't yet, but it's starting to pick up steam. The New York Times:

A military investigator uncovered evidence in February and March that contradicted repeated claims by marines that Iraqi civilians killed in Haditha last November were victims of a roadside bomb, according to a senior military official in Iraq.

Among the pieces of evidence that conflicted with the marines' story were death certificates that showed all the Iraqi victims had gunshot wounds, mostly to the head and chest, the official said.


When Colonel [Gregory] Watt [the officer leading the investigation] described the findings to Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the senior ground commander in Iraq, on March 9, they raised enough questions about the marines' veracity that General Chiarelli referred the matter to the senior Marine commander in Iraq, who ordered a criminal investigation that officials say could result in murder charges being brought against members of the unit.

Colonel Watt's findings also prompted General Chiarelli to order a parallel investigation into whether senior Marine officers and enlisted personnel had attempted to cover up what happened.
Rep. Murtha has already been demonized for merely mentioning that the killings took place and that a cover up followed. Nevermind that Time Magazine has Minnesota Republican (also a retired Marine) John Kline saying, "This was a small number of Marines who fired directly on civilians and killed them. This is going to be an ugly story."

Time also discusses photos of the massacre taken by those involved. And our good buddy George didn't know about the whole situation until the press told him about it. I feel safer knowing he's the Commander in Chief. Really

All this while increased violence in Iraq makes any sort of draw down in forces look increasingly unlikely. From the LA Times:
BAGHDAD - The Pentagon's hopes of making substantial reductions in U.S. troop levels in Iraq this year appear to be fading as a result of resurgent violence in the country, particularly in the Sunni Arab stronghold of Al Anbar province, military officials acknowledge.

Army Gen. George W. Casey, commander of U.S.-led forces in Iraq, said Tuesday that he was moving 1,500 "backup" troops from Kuwait to Al Anbar, the western region that includes the war-torn cities of Fallouja and Ramadi.


But the [Pentagon's congressionally mandated quarterly status] report also shows an increase in the overall average number of attacks, from fewer than 500 per week last year to more than 600 per week in the most recent quarter. The increase was attributed to sectarian violence that erupted after the February bombing of a prominent Shiite mosque in Samarra.

On average, nearly 80 Iraqis were killed or wounded every day from mid-February through mid-May, up from the previous quarter's 60 per day. At least 92 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Al Anbar since the start of the year.
Not good news for Republicans looking into the 2006 elections. More importantly, not good news for all of the people with friends and loved ones in Iraq, be they military personnel, civilian aid workers or ordinary Iraqis.

This could be a problem

When a newly installed 'friendly' government's ambassador to the U.S. says that U.S. forces killed his cousin on national television, you have a problem. From CNN:

BLITZER: But even months before the incident in November, you lost a cousin at Haditha in a separate battle involving United States Marines.

SUMAIDAIE: Well, that was not a battle at all. Marines were doing house-to-house searches, and they went into the house of my cousin. He opened the door for them.

His mother, his siblings were there. He led them into the bedroom of his father. And there he was shot.

BLITZER: Who shot him?

SUMAIDAIE: A member of the Marines.

BLITZER: Why did they shoot him?

SUMAIDAIE: Well, they said that they shot him in self-defense. I find that hard to believe because, A, he is not at all a violent -- I mean, I know the boy. He was [in] a second-year engineering course in the university. Nothing to do with violence. All his life has been studies and intellectual work.

Totally unbelievable. And, in fact, they had no weapon in the house. They had one weapon which belonged to the school where his father was a headmaster. And it had no ammunition in it. And he led them into the room to show it to them.

BLITZER: So what you're suggesting, your cousin was killed in cold blood, is that what you're saying, by United States Marines?

SUMAIDAIE: I believe he was killed intentionally. I believe that he was killed unnecessarily. And unfortunately, the investigations that took place after that sort of took a different course and concluded that there was no unlawful killing.

I would like further investigation. I have, in fact, asked for the report of the last investigation, which was a criminal investigation, by the way.
This is not going to be good for the U.S. This guy is supposed to be a puppet. Our puppet. He's supposed to shill for us. We set up his new 'friendly' government. He's not supposed to be saying these things where people can hear him. Except that guy. He should have mentioned it when he was talking to that guy.

Back in the Game

A little bit of burn out and a long weekend have left this site a little thin lately. Now, once again fueled by gas station coffee and donuts, I rejoin the fight.

First bit of interesting news of the day:

Former GOP Chairman Parkinson switches affiliation to Democrat

TOPEKA, Kan. - Former Kansas Republican Party Chairman Mark Parkinson switched his party affiliation to Democrat on Tuesday, fueling speculation that he will be named Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' running mate.

Parkinson came into the Johnson County election office shortly before noon Tuesday and switched parties, said Brian Newby, the county election commissioner. Newby said Parkinson did not say why he was switching parties. But his name has been widely circulated as Sebelius' choice to run for lieutenant governor after she announced Friday she was seeking a second term without a running mate in tow.
My understanding is that the Kansas Republican party is split between its more moderate elements and the batshit crazy 'wingers. Switching parties isn't entirely unheard of.
Also among prominent Kansas Republicans who have switched parties is Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison, who switched to challenge conservative Republican Attorney General Phill Kline in the November general election. Parkinson is co-chairman of Morrison's campaign.

A former House member also recently switched from Republican to Democrat to challenge the woman who beat her in 2004. Cindy Neighbor of Shawnee filed for office as a Democrat and faces Rep. Mary Pilcher Cook in a rematch in November.

Besides serving as GOP chairman from 1999-2003, Parkinson served in the House from 1991-92 and the Senate from 1993-97.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, has known Parkinson since he was a teenager and served with him in the Legislature. He said Parkinson is qualified to be lieutenant governor and that his party switch was significant.

"My guess is that he's been thinking about this for a long time, that this isn't a fly-by-night decision to change parties," Hensley said. "It's not a case of them leaving the party, they feel the party as left them for a long time. This is not an isolated deal."
In many ways, this is a good thing. It weakens the GOP, both in terms of lost experienced campaigners and in a psychological sense. It also makes it plain that the Republican Party is radicalizing.

For state races, especially governor's races, I think this is a wonderful thing. Having Democratic governors is good for the national party. That doesn't mean that there are no drawbacks to attracting GOP defectors.

First, if a politician has defected once, there's no reason that he or she won't do so again. Should the Republican Party return to more 'traditional' positions and platforms, will these new Democrats revert to their original, preferred party affiliation?

Reverting to Republicanism isn't an immediate problem. We can deal with it if we need to in the future. What really concerns me is that while politicians such as Mark Parkinson may have changed the letters after their names from R to D, they haven't necessarily changed their minds about important issues.

Just because Parkinson is now a Democrat doesn't mean he's abandoned his philosophy of government - nor should it. And while I am excited to have a variety of opinions and well reasoned debate within the party, one has to wonder, if Parkinson would be elected to the U.S. House or Senate, would he vote more often with his fellow Democrats or with his old party?

A politician who has realized that the Republican party is leading this nation off a cliff is welcome within the Democratic Party. What we must be careful of is relying on re-badged Republicans to win races for us. Our 'brand' is diluted and we can't rely on a constant stream of defectors to fill the ranks.

That said, welcome, Mark Parkinson, to the right side of history. I hope that you find the Democratic party welcoming and that your campaign is successful.


Slick Ricky.

Well, yeah, that too.

But I'm talking about the fact that Rick Santorum has managed to keep a little problem he has from becoming a campaign issue. And it's juicy. It cuts across party lines and across ideological divides.

It seems he doesn't live in Pennsylvania anymore.

From the Post-Gazette:

Before every election, the Post-Gazette routinely sends letters to the candidates seeking material for the Voters Guide. Back in March, as part of that process for the primary, the newspaper sent a letter to Rick Santorum at his home address, at least the one that he claims. Back from Penn Hills came the letter with a sticker from the U.S. Postal Service checked as "Not Deliverable As Addressed -- Unable To Forward."

That is all you need to know about the nasty dispute between the Republican Sen. Santorum and his Democratic opponent, Bob Casey Jr., in the November election. The whole thing is rooted in one inconvenient fact for Sen. Santorum: He doesn't live here anymore.
The editorial repeated the refrain "he doesn't live here any more" twice more each time in italics. Granted, Pittsburgh is already pretty Blue, but getting this issue raised is good. Having it stated so plainly is even better.

It should also make a good TV spot for the last week of the race. Ominous voice over with pictures of Santorum with all sorts of unpopular people like Jack Abramoff. "Rick Santorum isn't good for Pennsylvania. He doesn't want to support stemcell research, he doesn't want to raise the minimum wage, and he wants to restrict..." At the end, the spot goes to a black screen with the words "He doesn't live here anymore - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette." It plays to the anti-incumbent mood in the country. It works both on a literal and figurative level.

If the Democrats can't pull out a win in a Blue state against the Senator with the lowest approval rating who also doesn't live there anymore, the party - and the country - is in real trouble.

Main Line Christians Wake Up

It seems the head of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society has called for the impeachment of President Bush, a Methodist. Via the American Spectator:

"Impeach President Bush!" urged Jim Winkler, head of the Capitol Hill-based United Methodist Board of Church and Society. Winkler was speaking earlier this spring here in town to an "Ecumenical Advocacy Days" rally for liberal religious activists, organized by the National Council of Churches, mainline denominations, several left-wing Catholic orders, and Jim Wallis's Sojourners group.

Winkler, ostensibly a spokesman for 8 million United Methodists, whose numbers include both Bush and Vice President Cheney, said impeachment is the correct response to an "illegal war of aggression" that was "sold on lies." He also cited the NSA's "spy program," which he insisted is "unconstitutional."

"These are actions far more serious than a failed land deal on the White River or a sexual indiscretion with a White House intern," Winkler said, comparing Bush to Clinton, whose impeachment was never urged by Winkler's agency. Had the Iraq war been led by John Kerry or Al Gore, Winkler surmised, the "Limbaughs and Gingriches of the world would be screaming for their impeachment."
About time somebody in the religious community pointed that out. A little bit about the United Methodist Board of Church and Society:
Energized by the radicalism of the 1960s, the church's new lobby office had little interest in temperance. Instead, the United Methodist Building became the headquarters of the Religious Left in the nation's capital. The Methodist lobby group, along with other liberal religious lobby agencies, pushes for an ever larger welfare and regulatory state, ultra-environmentalist causes, abortion rights, and opposition to a vigorous U.S. foreign and military policy.
How shockingly Christian. It's always amazed me that people who claim that Jesus is their personal savior (or favorite philosopher) support wars. After Peter attacked the Roman soldiers coming to capture and crucify Jesus, he healed the ear of the Roman Soldiers that was injured. All that 'Prince of Peace' stuff never really resonates with the 'wingers.

The article cited is hostile to Winkler's positions. That's good. "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win."

Welcome Back

I hope that everybody had a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day. I hope that everybody managed to enjoy the marvelous weather (at least here in the North East) without getting as sunburnt as I did.

As always, coming back from a long weekend is full of sharp doses of reality, such as street violence in Kabul and dead camera men (and American Soldier) in Iraq.

But I'm still in weekend mode, so we'll stick with slightly more light hearted news - Like middle aged tech workers in Silicon valley who've started their own underground 'Fight Club.' If those guys are trying to up their 'tough guy' quotient, different shorts might be easier than getting your ass kicked.


Top 50 "Conservative" Rock Songs.

Really. The National Review compiled a list, which the NY Times has posted. The Top Ten:

1. "Won't Get Fooled Again," by The Who.
2. "Taxman," by The Beatles.
3. "Sympathy for the Devil," by The Rolling Stones.
4. "Sweet Home Alabama," by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
5. "Wouldn't It Be Nice," by The Beach Boys.
6. "Gloria," by U2.
7. "Revolution," by The Beatles.
8. "Bodies," by The Sex Pistols.
9. "Don't Tread on Me," by Metallica.
10. "20th Century Man," by The Kinks
Um, The Beatles? I mean, yeah, the Beatles were railing against taxes in that one song but have you listened to anything else by the band that invented the 60s? The Who? Um, not really values voters. And yeah, U2 may reference Christianity, but I'm pretty sure that nobody would call Bono a Conservative. Relieving Third World Debt is now a Conservative cause? Sex Pistols? Punk is not Conservative. Sorry. The Kinks and Metallica don't really fit with Jerry Falwell's vision for America. The only way you could possibly call the Rolling Stones Conservative is if you examined them as a corporation that has remained profitable for 40 years.

That leaves The Beach Boys and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The Beach Boys might be small 'c' conservatives, singing about surfing and cars and ignoring all that 60s stuff, but they're not making sweeping social commentary. Lynyrd Skynyrd made it onto the list for a song about a racist governor.


Some other ironic choices include songs by Bob Dylan, (Neighborhood Bully) David Bowie (Heroes) and Aerosmith (Janie's Got a Gun). Other songs that made the list due to complete misunderstandings include:
32. "Keep Your Hands to Yourself," by The Georgia Satellites.
An outstanding vocal performance, with lyrics that affirm old—time sexual mores: "She said no huggy, no kissy until I get a wedding vow."
You know that this song is demonstrably not about 'affirming old-time sexual mores,' right?

Conservatives need to stick to Country. Pretending to be hip doesn't help your cause.

Enron Convictions

From the AP:

HOUSTON - Former Enron Corp. chiefs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were convicted Thursday of conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud in one of the biggest business scandals in U.S. history.

The verdict put the blame for the 2001 demise of the high-profile energy trader, once the nation's seventh-largest company, squarely on its top two executives. It came in the sixth day of deliberations following a trial that lasted nearly four months.

Lay was also convicted of bank fraud and making false statements to banks in a separate trial non-jury trial before U.S. District Judge Sim Lake related to Lay's personal banking.

Lay was convicted on all six counts against him in the trial with Skilling. Skilling was convicted on 19 of the 28 counts against him, including one count of insider trading, and acquitted on the remaining nine.
Good. I'm hoping these guys don't get some kind of 18 month sentence and community service. But then again, they're rich white guys so they probably will. Sentencing is on September 11.

"Sportsmen for Bush"

The "Sportsmen for Bush" sticker was a common one on trucks in Pennsylvania during the 2000 and 2004 elections. I thought it was one of the most rediculous campaign slogans. I'm a hunter and fisherman and I was smart enough to know that the best way for me to preserve those hobbies was to vote for Al Gore and John Kerry. They'd you know, make sure that there were forest and clean lakes left for me to teach my children to fish in.

The New Mexican reports that hunters and anglers are starting to see through the smokescreen BushCo. has been putting up about global warming.

A recent nationwide survey shows that it's no longer just radical environmentalists who think global warming is real.

About half of America's hunters and anglers -- including many who said they voted for President Bush in 2004 -- told pollsters they are witnessing firsthand, in the outdoors, the effects of some form of climate change, according to the results of a nationwide survey of sportsmen released Tuesday by the National Wildlife Federation, an environmental group based in Washington, D.C.

The sportsmen are seeing climate change in the form of lakes that no longer freeze over for ice fishing in the winter, fall-hunting seasons without enough snow to track deer and other drastic environmental changes they consider a threat to wildlife, the group says.
Most of those survey thought these changes were caused by global warning and many of those attributed rising temperatures to burning fossil fuels.

Not a good sign for Bush as he continues to be a global warming denier. Democrats would be well served to remind sportsmen and sportswomen that things like national forests (where they hunt) streams, lakes, and rivers (where they fish) are vulnerable to polution and developement under Republicans.


Found Humor

The actual article is here.

Finders Fee to Wonkette.

I do not Endorse Violence

But as Chris Rock said, I understand.

Five people in Delaware face criminal charges after clashing with members of a Topeka church protesting the weekend funeral of a Marine killed in Iraq.

Police stood between the protesters and counter-demonstrators, some of whom tossed eggs, stones and water bottles at the picketers from Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church. The church believes U.S. casualties in Iraq are God's retribution for America's support of homosexuality.
Phelps and his ilk are lucky they have't been hit with anything worse than eggs and water bottles, to be perfectly honest...

Joe Knows American Idol?

US News & World Reports has Joe Lieberman's campaign manager saying:

"Senator Lieberman has as good a chance of winning the MoveOn primary as he does being the next American Idol."
The concept of Joe Lieberman being grilled by the American Idol judges is fascinating. (It was a little pitchy to me.) The premise of the U.S. News article was that the Democratic base (we have one too, you know) is starting to abandon the Connecticut DINO.
Now running for a fourth term, the Connecticut senator has been an unwavering supporter of the Iraq war. He was famously kissed on the cheek by Bush after last year's State of the Union address. "Lieberman has spent the last six years undermining the Democratic Party every chance he gets," says Markos Moulitsas, founder of Daily Kos, a popular liberal blog. "He spends the weekend going on Fox News and Sean Hannity's show talking about how wrong the Democrats are."

Moulitsas recently appeared in the first TV ad aired by Lieberman's primary opponent, the antiwar Ned Lamont, and he has posted a link for Lamont donors at Daily Kos, generating $50,000 for the candidate. "We're not accepting money from lobbyists, so we need to be creative with fundraising," says Tom Swan, Lamont's campaign manager. "The Netroots have been vital in that effort."
Not taking money from lobbyists is a scrupulous position that I'd like to see more candidates and politicians take up. Help Ned out by going to his website, NedLamont.com, and look around. If you like what you see, give some money in support of non-corporate government.

Way to Go Roy!

Political Wire reports that,:

In the race for Alabama’s Republican nomination for governor, a new Press-Register/University of South Alabama poll shows Gov. Bob Riley demolishing former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice Roy Moore, 69% to 20%. Moore gained national notoriety after he refused to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from an Alabama state judicial building
Roy Moores can't even get elected in Alabama. Actually, he can't even get nominated. I guess Americans really do want their country to be something resembling a democracy...


Just too Good to Pass Up

From Think Progress:

2000 lbs: Weight 76-year-old Pat Robertson claims he can leg press thanks to his “age defying protein shake."

Clay Travis at CBS Sportsline notes "That would mean a 76-year-old man broke the all-time Florida State University leg press record by 665 pounds over Dan Kendra. 665 pounds. Further, when he set the record, they had to modify the leg press machine to fit 1,335 pounds of weight. Plus, Kendra’s capillaries in his eyes burst. Burst."
Oh, Pat. Didn't you hear? "Thou salt not bear false witness." Exodus 20:16.

Pat Robertson, revealed as the snake oil salesman he really is.

Alarmist Much?

Yep, that's right. Not only do we need to worry about Tom Hanks destroying our nation's relationship with God, we're facing an economic meltdown due to a movie by Al Gore. Not 'Tax-cut and Spend' President Bush's skyrocketing deficits. Not the president's wars and saber rattling - and corresponding jumps in oil prices. Not the Republican in control of all three branches of government. It's all Al Gore's fault.

Damned internets.

Over the weekend, FoxNews host David Asman asked his guests, "If people buy into [Al Gore'’s] global warming hysteria, will it put him in the White House and our economy on the skids?"”

Steve Forbes answer: "It will ice the economy. And after all, some people do believe the DiVinci Code, so some will believe the DiGore Code. [Laughter] But the fact of the matter is, the policies that result from it would hurt the economy, would create unemployment. It'’s a real recipe for more socialist regulation."

Finders Fee to Think Progress.

Anybody But Bush

Via the Political Wire:

President Bush "goes to Pennsylvania tomorrow to campaign for embattled Republican House members in the Philadelphia suburbs," but Rep. Curt Weldon (R) says Bush "is really doing poorly in our state" and explains that he won't be on hand and hasn't asked for the president's help, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"Mr. Weldon did invite Arizona Sen. John McCain to his district last month to help him campaign and raise money, and he is thinking about doing it again."
And to think, less than 2 years ago, Bush came within inches of winning Pennsylvania. Doesn't really bode well for Lynn Swann or Rick Santorum.

Party Before Country, Politics before Government

Via the Washington Post:

Backers of President Bush's bid to revamp immigration laws scored another small victory in the Senate yesterday, but they are increasingly concerned about a House Republican policy that could block final agreement even if a bipartisan majority is within reach.

Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's insistence that major legislation reach the House floor only if it appears to be backed by a "majority of the majority" could throw a high hurdle in front of efforts to reach a House-Senate compromise on immigration later this year, lawmakers said. Hastert (R-Ill.) has invoked the policy in blocking bills that appeared likely to win approval from more than half of the House's 435 members but less than half of its 231 Republicans.

That is the scenario that could emerge in the House this summer, sources say, because the immigration debate divides both parties along unusual lines. It is possible, they said, that enough House Democrats and Republicans -- but not a majority of the Republicans -- could support a version of the legislation backed by Bush and most senators to enact it into law.

But Hastert would prevent House action on such a measure under his leadership policy, spokesman Ron Bonjean said yesterday. Hastert still embraces the majority-of-a-majority rule -- first enunciated in a 2003 speech -- "and he intends to do so with any immigration bill that comes out of [a House-Senate] conference," Bonjean said.

One Republican senator, speaking on background to avoid inflaming colleagues, called the policy "a death-blow standard."
Definitive proof that the GOP is more concerned with making their party looks 'good' than actually running the country. "Majority of the majority" ensures that any bipartisan legislation be created and passed with Republicans in the position of power even if that means that legislation that the majority of The House - representing the majority of Americans - support never gets voted into law.

So much for 'an up or down vote.' I guess that only counts when the Republicans know they're going to win.

Union Busting Kills Miners

The New York Times:

The Kentucky mine where five men were killed in an explosion on Saturday had been cited at least 41 times in the last five years for failing to clean up coal dust properly, which can lead to explosions, according to federal records.

State officials and mining experts said the reach of the blast, which was felt more than 5,000 feet from its estimated point of origin, seemed to indicate that coal dust was a major factor.

Federal regulators had cited Kentucky Darby LLC, the operator of the mine, three times this month, and at least 38 other times since 2001, for not cleaning up coal dust and other combustible materials, according to federal records. While federal investigators continued to study the cause of the explosion at the mine, relatives of the miners voiced frustration over a report that the miners' air packs had not worked.
My family came from Wales, which produced the coal that made England's industrial revolution world wide empire possible. My great grandfather, who I was lucky enough to meet, left the mines of Wales for a better life in America, not wanting his sons to only see the light of day one day a week. He came to Pennsylvania and began work in American mines. When he had saved some money he sent for his wife and children. My Great Grandmother wrote back that she wouldn't come if he was working in mines. He got a job in a steel mill. The Unions made sure that he was relatively safe and well paid. I am where I am today, with a profession and a college degree, because of Unions.

That's why I think that it's a travesty that the New York Times wouldn't tell me if the mine in Kentucky was Unionized. I had to go all the way to the Google cache from the Charleston, West Virginia Gazette-Mail to find out that it wasn't.

Union Busting Kills Miners

The explosion was caused by coal dust that, by government regulation, should have been contained. The rescue breathers that were supposed to provide an hour of clean air provided only 5 minutes.

These are the reasons that Unions are necessary. This was not some isolated incident. 41 safety violations? With no advocate, the miners were at the mercy of Kentucky Darby LLC. Look where it got them. Republicanism, with it's abhorrence of organized labor, kills workers.

Truth Slips Out

Chris Matthews on Hardball yesterday, via Crooks & Liars:

Matthews: So what diverted us to Iraq?

Batiste: Good question. I don't know, and that's...

Matthews: How come nobody seems to know who this crime...this, this mistake was committed. How come everybody -- and maybe it'll look like a crime at some point because we were chasing bin Laden, we still haven't caught him, the President said at 9/11 "We're going to catch the guys that knocked down these buildings," but we have lost that pursuit. The top people in al-Qaeda are out there somewhere in Pakistan and yet we're stuck in Iraq with a course that had nothing to do with the people who attacked us on 9/11, right?

Batiste: Chris, that's the $24,000 question and I turn to the Congressional oversight committees, the other branch of government who is charged with getting to these answers.

-Emphasis Mine
Video here.

You better be careful, Chris, somebody might think you're some kind of pinko-commie America Hater undermining the President by asking questions that support the terrorists.

Ruth Marcus' Column

In the Washington Post:

When mega-pastor Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church opened last year in its new Houston home, the city's former professional basketball arena, a most unlikely guest was on hand for the celebration: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), a minister's son who chairs the House Democrats' Faith Working Group, headed to Dallas a few months later to worship with Bishop T.D. Jakes, an African American Pentecostal minister who's been called "the next Billy Graham."

This month, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean -- yes, that would be the Howard Dean who dismissed Republicans last year as "pretty much a white, Christian Party" -- went on Pat Robertson's "700 Club," asserting that Democrats "have an enormous amount in common with the Christian community, and particularly with the evangelical Christian community." Randy Brinson, founder of Redeem the Vote (think Rock the Vote meets Jesus), met last week with the centrist Democratic Leadership Council.

Democrats these days are a party on a mission that might sound impossible: to persuade evangelical Christian voters to consider converting -- to the Democratic Party.
Ms. Marcus' column is a well reasoned examination of Democratic Outreach to Evangelicals. It explains that Evangelicals make up 25% of the population, a voting block to large to be ignored. It also points out that this group isn't millions of mindless clones. There are moderate and even 'modernist' (they won't use the word liberal) Evangelicals that already self identify as Democrats or Independents more often than Republican.

Ms. Marcus most valuable piece of advice is that one of the best things that Democrats can do to woo Evangelicals is show up. Megachurch services and Christian Radio are largely echo chambers for the GOP because there are no Democrats going there.

Once there, it's important that Democrats not misrepresent the party. (That means you, Gov. Dean.) Democrats have allowed themselves to be painted as the party of gays and abortion. We need to remind people that while we do support equality for all Americans and a woman's ability to have control of what happens within her own body, we're also the party that is at the forefront of reducing poverty, helping the poor and disabled and feeding the hungry. We are the party that's working to save the environment and to keep workers safe on the job.

Ms. Marcus closes with, "So, by all means, let Democrats woo Evangelicals and cast the message in a way that speaks to religious voters. But in doing so, keep in mind: What does it profit a party to gain a demographic but lose its soul?"

We must remember that pandering to Evangelicals will alienate the base. Luckily, the Party Platform already incorporates many Christian Principals. We need to engage the Evangelical community and show them that we share many of their values.

It is unlikely that Democrats can peel off many of the 'traditionalists' Evangelicals, but gains among the 'moderate' and 'modernist' portions of the Evangelical community are certainly possible. The trick is to know how much to push - and when to stop - while remaining true to our ideals.


Poor Jimmy

I wasn't alive when Jimmy Carter was President. It seems to me that he was a pretty decent guy trying to do a good job at being president who get caught by the Iran Hostage Crisis. Since then (he was only 57 when Reagan replaced him) he's done a great deal of good both for this nation and people around the world.

Apparently I'm wrong.

Move America Forward [http://www.moveamericaforward.org/] has started a new effort to censure Pres. Carter. The creatively named site [http://www.censurejimmycarter.com/] lists the reasons:

Since leaving office, President Jimmy Carter has repeatedly undermined U.S. foreign policy, criticized the missions of the men and women of the United States Armed Forces, as well as embracing known terrorists and terrorist organizations.
You know, things like making sure that Palestinians didn't starve to death, publicly calling for investigations into Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. And winning that damn Nobel Peace Prize. Just like it says in Patton: "Americans love to fight." Doesn't Jimmy know that all this peace mongering and helping the poor and building houses for people doesn't fit with the free market ideal?

These people are twisted.

Democratic Sweep

The preview for a subscription limited Roll Call article:

"A Sweep the Republicans Don’t Want
Now Only GOPers Head the List of This Cycle’s Most Vulnerable House Members May 22, 2006

What a difference six months makes. The last time we put together this list, we believed that four Democrats were among the 10 most vulnerable House incumbents in the nation. Today’s list finds no Democrats among the most threatened. Not a one. Zero. Nada. Can you feel those breezes blowing?"
I don't have a subscription but with a preview like that, I don't really feel like I need one...

British Troops to leave

Via the Times:

Britain and Iraq announced an accelerated timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops from much of Iraq today during a surprise visit by Tony Blair to show his support for the country's new government.

Britain could return two southern provinces to Iraqi security control within in a few months. Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's new Prime Minister, said that he expected as many as 16 of the 18 provinces to be "Iraqi-ised" - under the control of Iraqi forces - by the end of this year.

The timetable will increase pressure on the United States to set its own deadlines for withdrawal, which Bush Administration officials have steadily refused to do for fear of handing a propaganda victory to al-Qaeda linked insurgents.
"Iraqi-ised" sounds a lot like 'Vietnamization' to me. Rawstory reports that American planners are expecting a drawdown from the current 133,000 troops to around 100,000 by the end of the year. (October Surprise, anybody?)
[A] senior official accompanying him [Blair] told reporters that the Multi-National Force in Iraq would wrap up its work in the next four years - the clearest deadline yet set by a Western official - Mr Blair refused to be drawn on the precise details of withdrawal.
Under orders from George, no doubt.

I'm surprised it took this long for the British to begin their withdrawal. First, Britons are not under the false impression that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11. They're not even in a 'War on Terror.' For British troops, they're not fighting a way, they're simply 'on operations.' As the Coalition of the Willing dwindles, Bush will find himself more and more exposed. Actually, his lack of planning will be more and more exposed. Withdrawal will come, sugar coated as the Iraqis taking control, sooner rather than later. The timing will be politically determined.

Conservative Statistics

From the Website Conservative Truths:

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2006 the years where a Republican President was in office show that the Total Receipts from International Visitors is lower than when a Democratic President was in office.

Republican President George Herbert Walker Bush:
In 1990 the Total Receipts from International Visitors was $58,305,000,000.

Democratic President William Jefferson Clinton:
1995 - $82,304,000,000.
1998 - $91,423,000,000.
1999 - $94,586,000,000.
2000 - $103,087,000,000.
Republican President George Walker Bush:
2001 - $89,819,000,000.
2002 - $83,593,000,000.
2003 - $80,652,000,000.
Yeah, I know that there are probably a bunch of other factors at work here, but these statistics are great fun to pull out when talking to 'wingers.

The website also documents a rise in the use of birth control during liberal presidencies and a decline under conservative ones, an increase in low birth weight during conservative presidencies and a higher rate of suicide during conservative presidencies.

Pray for Him? How about Pray for Us?

The Gossip column of they NY Daily News:

Just how bad are things for President Bush?

Pretty bad, I'd say, if even Clarence Thomas is worried about him.

The other night at a Washington book party for the President's sister, Doro Bush Koch, the Supreme Court justice arrived with his wife, Ginny, on the tented roof of the Hay Adams Hotel, overlooking the White House, and made a beeline for the author.

"We have to pray for your brother. He's in real trouble," Thomas told a wide-eyed Koch, whose older brother is, indeed, suffering from near-catastrophic public-opinion ratings.
Emphasis mine. Now, granted, this is coming from the gossip column, but I'm inclined to say that Supreme Court Justices shouldn't be cavorting around with the President's sister, exhorting anybody who will listen to pray with him for a politician.

I'm also inclined to say 'screw the President, pray for what's left of America.' But that's just me.

A Loss of Joe-mentum

Hotline reports on Ned Lamont recieving enough votes (33%) to qualify for a primary against Joe Lieberman.

But as Colin McEnroe says: "I've had some stranger nights covering politics, but not many. I have never seen a group of people as elated to lose 2-1 as the Ned Lamont supporters nor a winning side as lifeless and frozen-faced as the Lieberman crowd when Friday night's votes were counted."
It seems that there's a new sentiment of "Joe Must Go" floating through the north east. I'm guessing that Senator Lieberman won't be as quick to come up with just what's needed to silence the critics.

Joe (the Senator) will face a real primary. As in one that he might not win. He's staked out positions that aren't in keeping with his constituency but are in line with a tremendously unpopular president.

Though this race is between two Democrats, it will be a case study in nationalizing an election. Lamont will be the first Democratic candidate to succeed or fail and other candidates, critics, and pundits will be watching.

Prison Nation

From the AP:

- Prisons and jails added more than 1,000 inmates each week for a year, putting almost 2.2 million people, or one in every 136 U.S. residents, behind bars by last summer.

The total on June 30, 2005, was 56,428 more than at the same time in 2004, the government reported Sunday. That 2.6 percent increase from mid-2004 to mid-2005 translates into a weekly rise of 1,085 inmates.

Of particular note was the gain of 33,539 inmates in jails, the largest increase since 1997, researcher Allen J. Beck said. That was a 4.7 percent growth rate, compared with a 1.6 percent increase in people held in state and federal prisons.

"The jail population is increasingly unconvicted," Beck said. "Judges are perhaps more reluctant to release people pretrial."


The states with the highest rates were Louisiana and Georgia, with more than 1 percent of their populations in prison or jail. Rounding out the top five were Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

The states with the lowest rates were Maine, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire.
Oh, and while only 1.7% of white males 25-29 are incarcerated, 11.9% of all black men are behind bars. Women make up the fastest growing segment of the prison population, though men are 10-11 times more likely to be imprisoned.

The article cites mandatory sentencing and drug laws as the reason for a growing prison population.

* * * * *

I'm beginning to develop a theory that most of the things wrong with government stem from a breakdown of the "Three Branch" system. Problems with the Executive Branch stem from a lack of oversight by congress. Problems in the Judicial Branch are rooted in the Legislative Branch - in this case the inability of judges to decide sentences due to minimum sentence laws passed by congress. And the Legislative branch seems more concerned with anything and everything except passing useful legislation. Baseball hearings, Judicial Appointments, elections.

It's an emerging theory. I'll see how the framework fits as new stories come along.

The Resurgent Religious Left

From the Washington Post:

The religious left is back.

Long overshadowed by the Christian right, religious liberals across a wide swath of denominations are engaged today in their most intensive bout of political organizing and alliance-building since the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements of the 1960s, according to scholars, politicians and clergy members.

In large part, the revival of the religious left is a reaction against conservatives' success in the 2004 elections in equating moral values with opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

Religious liberals say their faith compels them to emphasize such issues as poverty, affordable health care and global warming. Disillusionment with the war in Iraq and opposition to Bush administration policies on secret prisons and torture have also fueled the movement.
About damned time! And while I agree that the left certainly embodies more 'Christian' principals (reducing poverty, care for the sick and hungry, etc.) I'm not convinced attempting to create a polar opposite to the Religious Right is a good idea.

No nation is ever better for having two opposed groups of people claiming to know what God wants the government to do.

Liberal / Progressive politics is by its nature inclusive. Any coalition of religious Progressives would (presumably) include portions of the Catholic Church, Main Line Protestant denominations, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims and people who would consider themselves believers, if not members of specific organized religions. This inclusiveness is both a strength and a weakness. While the Religious Right can use the same language and code words, drawn from a narrow faith, the Left will need to draw from various traditions. This inclusiveness is demonstrative of liberal ideals and fits well with the American Tradition of religious tolerance but it does not help distill a message.

If the rise of a Religious Left helps bring about an end to terms like 'values voter' and removes Republican overtones from things like 'moral majority' it's a good thing. It's possible that rising Progressive Religion could provide an alternative (or at least the perception that the existing alternative is a viable one) for some of the more reluctant members of the Religious Right. As elections walk the razors edge, a few percentage points either way can determine elections.

The Republican Party has become an organization tied securely to the desires of two groups, corporatists and religious fundamentalists. Their relationship is one of convenience, not one of ideology. Progressive believers should be drawn to Progressive politics because our positions already reflect their beliefs about peace, poverty, and health care. As a movement, we must be careful not to become tied to a religious movement in the way that Republicans have. Not because it could cost us elections but because embracing a single religious identity would be abandoning one of our core values.


Friday Link Dump

I haven't done one of these in a while and thought, since I'm leaving work early to attend a funeral, I thought that it'd be a good idea.

The Stranger
has a story about GOP efforts to destroy Jim McDermott - and possibly the First Amendment at the same time.

The Political Wire reports that Ned Lamont's campaign to unseat Joe Lieberman has been attracting donors but that the big question is Lamont use his own money (The AP has him between $90 and $300 Million) to run. Oh, that fortune includes Haliburton Stock.

The Blotter @ ABC reports that the head of a group of Federal Air Marshals is saying that "Right now we cannot protect the public."

The New York Times has a story documenting the flight of the Middle Class from war torn Iraq.

The BBC (!) has a story comparing Homer Simpson to Kant and Plato. Seriously.

And the Washington Post reports that everybody's favorite Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia, has "rebuked fellow conservatives on Capitol Hill yesterday, saying they have gone too far in trying to prevent the Supreme Court from using foreign law in its constitutional rulings." Scalia condemns someone for being to conservative. The end of the world is surely upon us.

A person who speak two languages is bilingual...

A person who only speaks one language is an American. Via the Washington Post:

After an emotional debate fraught with symbolism, the Senate yesterday voted to make English the "national language" of the United States, declaring that no one has a right to federal communications or services in a language other than English except for those already guaranteed by law.

The measure, approved 63 to 34, directs the government to "preserve and enhance" the role of English, without altering current laws that require some government documents and services be provided in other languages. Opponents, however, said it could negate executive orders, regulations, civil service guidances and other multilingual ordinances not officially sanctioned by acts of Congress.

That vote, considered a defeat for immigration-rights advocates, was followed last night by an important victory: By 58 to 35, the Senate killed an amendment that would have blocked eventual citizenship for future immigrants who arrive under a temporary work permit. Democrats and Republicans agreed that the amendment would have destroyed the fragile, bipartisan coalition backing the Senate bill.
Nine Democrats, I'll try to find the names, voted in favor of the James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) bill. One Republican, Pete V. Domenici (N.M.), voted against it.

Ignoring, for the ten millionth time, the Democrat's inability to vote as a block on ANYTHING, this still pisses me off. For over 100 years, people have been immigrating to America. Not all of those immigrants spoke English when they arrived. A large portion of those immigrants never learned English. But their children did. Whether the parents speak Polish, Italian, Swedish, or Spanish, the one sure thing is that the second generation speaks English.

It's wrong to try to deny services to any person in America because they don't speak English and you won't make any effort to speak their language. You're just putting people at a greater disadvantage. You're putting the second generation, American born citizens at a great disadvantage too.

It shocks me that more people don't see all this action about immigration as what it is - an effort to placate the 'base' of the Republican party. It scares me that to do this, the GOP uses racism.

Sweet Land of Liberty?

By Mike Luckovich.


Why does this not surprise me?

From KGTV in San Diego:

It is now more than just mudslinging in the race for the 50th Congressional District.

Wednesday, the Democratic Party called for an investigation into allegations of perjury and voter fraud against Republican candidate Brian Bilbray.

Democrats said the proof is in property records from three homes and Bilbray?s declaration of candidacy.

These are serious allegations against a man who has run a campaign saying San Diego is and always will be his home.

The ad states San Diego is the home where Republican congressional candidate Bilbray said he lives.

"I live in Carlsbad, taking care of my mother," Bilbray said.

He said he has lived in the Carlsbad house since March 2005.

It is the address he used in his declaration of candidacy for the North County congressional seat.

Democrats said Bilbray does not live at that address.

"It was a convenient residence to use for this particular election since it is the 50th Congressional District," said County Democratic Party Chair Jess Durfee

In fact, there are serious questions about where Bilbray really lives.

Virginia property records show Bilbray claims a home in Alexandria, Va., as his primary residence, for tax purposes.
Oh, I remember. It's because Rick Santorum, my former senator, also lives in Virginia while serving as Senator for Pennsylvania. So this raises the Virginia delegation to four. Are there more out there?
Neighbors told 10News they rarely ever see Bilbray at the house, which is his mother?s home.

"He comes here occasionally to see his mother like boys will do, but he doesn't live here," said neighbor Frank Knudsen.

Another man, who lives right next door, said he wondered when people would catch on that Bilbray does not live here.
Right about when they figured out that Republicanism is ruining the country.


Thanks George

You fucking asshat. From the Times Picayune:

The United States has often irritated the rest of the world, but lately it's gotten worse -- and more dangerous.

In increasing numbers, people around the globe resent American power and wealth and reject specific actions like the occupation of Iraq and the campaign against democratically elected Palestinian leaders, in-depth international polling shows.

Analysts say America's image problem is pervasive, deep and perhaps permanent, an inevitable outcome of being the world's only superpower.

But there is worse news. In the past, while Europeans, Asians and Arabs might have disliked American policies or specific U.S. leaders, they liked and admired Americans themselves.

Polls now show an ominous turn. Majorities around the world think Americans are greedy, violent and rude, and fewer than half in countries like Poland, Spain, Canada, China and Russia think Americans are honest.

"We found a rising antipathy toward Americans," said Bruce Stokes of the Pew Global Attitudes Project, which interviewed 93,000 people in 50 countries over a four-year span.

The dislike is accelerating among youths, Stokes said. For instance, 20 percent of Britons under age 30 have an unfavorable opinion of Americans, double the percentage of 2002.
Everything this man touches turns to shit.

Who Has More Money?

Me or the New Hampshire Republican Party?

That would be me.

From the Washington Post:

McGee and two other participants -- Republican National Committee regional political director James Tobin and GOP consultant Allen Raymond-- have been found guilty of criminally violating federal communications law. Tobin will be sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Concord, N.H.

The New Hampshire Republican Party, burden by legal bills, is virtually broke, with $733.60 in its federal and state accounts.
It's not like the New Hampshire GOP set the bar very high... And note the way in which the Republican party actively tried to suppress votes. How positively 'freedom and democracy' of them.
Most tantalizingly to Democrats, evidence filed in Tobin's trial in December shows 22 phone calls from Tobin to the White House between 11:20 a.m. Election Day, two hours after the phone jamming was shut down, and 2:17 a.m. the next day, four hours after the outcome of the election was announced.

Democrats charge that these phone calls and the RNC payment of Tobin's legal fees suggest possible White House involvement or knowledge of the phone jamming plan. RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman was at the time serving as White House political director.
Just as all roads lead to Rome, all shit leads to the George W. Bush White House. I can't wait for the Democrats to take back a house of Congress (both?) and get some real investigations started...

FoxNews and Racism

After the New Press Secretary (and former Fox 'journalist') Tony Snow made a reference to "tar babies" in his first televised press conference, I thought I'd find a few more examples of racism on FoxNews.

John Gibson, 5.12.2006

GIBSON: Now, it's time for "My Word." Do your duty. Make more babies. That's a lesson drawn out of two interesting stories over the last couple of days.

First, a story yesterday that half of the kids in this country under five years old are minorities. By far, the greatest number are Hispanic. You know what that means? Twenty-five years and the majority of the population is Hispanic. Why is that? Well, Hispanics are having more kids than others. Notably, the ones Hispanics call "gabachos" -- white people -- are having fewer.

To put it bluntly, we need more babies.
Who, exactly, is "we," John. FoxNews commentators? Americans? People with white skin?

And now Bill O'Reilly. 05.17.2006
[T]he newspaper [New York Times] and many far-left thinkers believe the white power structure that controls America is bad, so a drastic change is needed.

According to the lefty zealots, the white Christians who hold power must be swept out by a new multicultural tie, a Rainbow Coalition, if you will.

An open border policy and the legalization of millions of Hispanic illegal aliens would deeply affect the political landscape in America. That's what The New York Times and many others on the left want.
So it's not what you want, Bill? You don't want non-whites coming to America, changing the political landscape. America's supposed to be a white country, isn't it, Bill? I had a hunch that, underneath it all, that's what you thought.

Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee (Arkansas), Via the AP:
"If I were to say that some of it is driven by sheer racism, that would be true,"
I agree.

The AG's Story

Alberto Gonzales admitted to Wolf Blitzer that his grandparents might have been illegal aliens. Movie.

BLITZER: Give us your — tell our viewers who aren’t familiar your personal story, how you got to where you are, your grandparents, your parents. They struggled, they came here. I don’t know if they came here legally or illegally. But give us the story.

GONZALES: Well, three of my grandparents were born in Mexico. They came to Texas. My parents — both my parents were born in Texas extremely poor. My mother…

BLITZER: When they came to Texas, were they legally documented, were they un-legally documented?

GONZALES: You know what? It’s unclear. It’s unclear.

And I’ve looked at this issue, I’ve talked to my parents about it and it’s just not clear.

But in any event, my mother had a 2nd grade education — my father had a 2nd grade education, my mother had a 6th grade education. And my father worked construction.

And so, for me, my life has — represents the American dream.
With these guys, the hypocrisy makes your head spin. And how soulless does somebody have to be to be the Attorney General for the President of a Party that is actively trying to keep Latinos out (legal or illegal) when you are only two generations removed from illegal Latino immigrants?

This isn't the AG fairly enforcing the laws as they exist. If it was, I could accept that. I'd be proud of a public servant that could put the law above his own emotions. But it's not that. This is the AG being a part of an effort to use immigration as a wedge issue to win elections. This is being a cog in a machine that uses racism to get votes. This is about crafting NEW laws that are designed specifically to keep certian populations from becoming citizens of the United States.

Finder's fee to ThinkProgress.

Politics as Sporting Event

I LOVE college football. Being a Penn Stater probably has something to do with that. There are winners, losers, and fiercely partisan fans. Unfortunately, politics is beginning to look more and more like (and be treated more and more like) a sporting event.

Congress.org has recently begun posting 'Power Rankings' for the House and Senate. From the Washington Post:

A company serving lobbyists published its "Power Rankings" of Congress online yesterday after five months of combing through legislative records, committee assignments, news articles and fundraising documents.

The list, which can be viewed at [here], is a snapshot of who the company believes wielded the most power on Capitol Hill last year, said Brad Fitch, chief executive of Knowlegis, a new firm that provides software and information to clients who want to influence public policy.

The rankings take into account such factors as tenure, committee positions, party membership, money contributed to congressional candidates through leadership PACs and the degree to which a politician was able to shape legislation through amendments.
The website also ranks states by political power. States with the most power include Nevada, Vermont, Montana, West Virginia and Iowa. States with the least power include Colorado, Georgia, Arkansas, New Jersey and Maryland. California only ranks as 'average' along with other high population states like New York, Florida and Pennsylvania. Texas and Illinois are only slightly above average. Kinda funny, huh?

The top 10 states by population (California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia and New Jersey) represent 57% of the U.S. Population and do not have a single state in the 'Political Power' top ten. The Political Power heavyweights (New Mexico, Nevada, Montana, Utah, Alaska, North Dakota, Iowa, West Virginia, Vermont, and Connecticut) represent only 6% of the U.S. Population.

Ladies Need to Know Their Role

Or at least someone at the Center for Disease Control thinks so. Via the Washington Post:

New federal guidelines ask all females capable of conceiving a baby to treat themselves -- and to be treated by the health care system -- as pre-pregnant, regardless of whether they plan to get pregnant anytime soon.

Among other things, this means all women between first menstrual period and menopause should take folic acid supplements, refrain from smoking, maintain a healthy weight and keep chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes under control.
I guess the CDC forgot that we have made leaps in birth control since the 1950s.
Women should also make sure all vaccinations are up-to-date and avoid contact with lead-based paints and cat feces, Biermann said.

The report recommends that women stop smoking and discuss with their doctor the danger alcohol poses to a developing fetus.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for state of the art pre-natal care (and post-natal care) for all pregnant mothers. Laws should be written to require health insurance to cover it. But treating every woman, even those activly trying to NOT become pregnant, as a baby incubator is retrograde and sexist.

Women, if they chose to drink, should drink. If they chose to smoke, they should smoke. When they make the choice to become pregnant, they make that choice knowing that it may require lifestyle changes. Any health decisions made by a woman should be that woman's decision alone. If she intends to not become pregnant, she shouldn't be expected to adjust her lifestyle. Expecting women to be little drones, constantly activly preparing for their next pregnancy is insulting.


Red State - Blue State

From the new Survey USA poll.

Credit to MyDD for the map.

On Manufactured Issues

George W. Bush's speech last night a resounding success. Why you ask? Because I'm talking about his speech and the manufactured issue of illegal immigration rather than his illegal spying on Americans, his failure in Iraq, the continued failure in Louisiana, the ever present rumors of Karl Rove's resignation, rising oil prices, or an economy that only seems to be good for CEOs. That aside, let's look at the speech.

First, Bush's intro was rather weak. He pandered and blubbered about being a country of immigrants' in a completely unconvincing manner. His comments about illegal immigration bringing crime to neighborhoods was rather insulting.

Then came Bush's call to militarize the U.S. - Mexico border. This is a bad idea for many reasons. First, regardless of how many times Bush (or anybody else) tells Mexico the troops are for catching illegal immigrants, the Mexicans will station troops along the border too. Have you ever seen a border where only one side had troops along it? Plus the constitutional questions about National Guard troops doing law enforcement work. Yeah, he said they wouldn't be doing it, but I don't believe him.

And now the meat. Bush's Guest worker program is, as Gov. Dean noted on the Daily Show, glorified indentured servitude.

This program would match willing foreign workers with willing American employers for jobs Americans are not doing. Every worker who applies for the program would be required to pass criminal background checks. And temporary workers must return to their home country at the conclusion of their stay. A temporary worker program would meet the needs of our economy, and it would give honest immigrants a way to provide for their families while respecting the law. A temporary worker program would reduce the appeal of human smugglers and make it less likely that people would risk their lives to cross the border.
Ignoring the fact that Bush said 'jobs Americans are not doing' not 'jobs Americans won't do' or 'jobs Americans don't want' - the idea of allowing 'guest workers' essentially creates a two class system for people living in America. This is followed by bio-metric ID cards for immigrants ("I need to see your papers, sir" is something that shouldn't be said in America anywhere but at immigration when entering the country.)

Then the usual 'honor the melting pot but learn English and adopt our ways' crap with a chaser of 'keep this contentious discussion civil.' Can't have the moderates thinking the President is a racist xenophobe. At least not before the midterms.

* * * * *

So aside from being a resounding success (nobody's talking about the NSA) this speech was a colossal failure. The only people that thought illegal immigration was a pressing problem, at least when compared to the Global War on Terrortm, the War in Iraq, the economy, oil prices, etc. were people that already agreed with the president. The racist, xenophobic wing of the Republican Party really doesn't like Mexicans. And for them, Bush's speech didn't go far enough. His 'this isn't amnesty' pitch was aimed right at them and they aren't going to buy it. Or at least I wouldn't. The same with the 'illegals that have been here for X number of years get to stay' idea he tried to float.

At the same time, this speech does nothing to help continue the inroads Republicanism had made into the Latino community. Bush equivocating and talking about melting pots won't convince people that are pro-immigrant that Bush's initiative is about anything but xenophobia and the midterm elections. Bush tried to triangulate and all it got him was nothing from both sides.


Of Course He Is

Via the AP:

Rove Said Unfazed by Chance of Charges

Of course he is. George W. Bush owes his elections, both in Texas and as President to Karl Rove. Why should he be worried?

Slow Monday

Perhaps it was my exhausting weekend, but I just can't find anything that compells me to blog. I guess I'm waiting for the xenophobia fest that will be the President's speech to the nation tonight.

Georgie 29 will be telling 'Mericans that he wants to put the national guard along the border with Mexico to 'combat illegal immigration.' No doubt '9/11 changed everything' and 'War on Terrah' will be trotted out and used over and over again. Probably some 'hate us for our freedoms' too. There will be plenty of people out there trying to spin his bumbling idiocy into something heroic. My guess, however, is that nobody will hear them.

Bush is speaking during prime time sweeps week. The people will tune in, watch him speak, then immediatly tune into whichever season finale they prefer. Unlike States of the Union, there will be very few people (at least very few people who's minds aren't already made up) watching the post-speech coverage.

This can't be good for the President. He's not exactly a silver tounged speaker with the ability to change an audience's position with 'flowery grandiloquence.' Heh-heh.

The policy itself opens Bush to criticism as well. You're going to use the National Guard to keep illegal immigrants out? Aren't they busy fighting in Iraq? Will a stint at 'the fence' be used for R&R between stints in 'the desert?'

At some point, people are going to realize that Immigration is a manufactured issue. Nobody was clammoring for immigration reform until the House GOoPers started writing a bill that is, at it's root, thinly vieled racism. Of course thinly vieled hate has worked for the Republicans before...

I Agree with Pat Robertson

"This is our government at work, and unfortunately it is run by Republicans."

-- Rev. Pat Robertson, in the Manassas Journal Messenger.

After realizing that the words coming out of Pat Robertson could easily have come out of me, I felt a bit woozy. I think I may take a few minutes to try to recover.


Cheney Does Impressions...

This is Dick Cheney doing an impression of me in my Math 035 class - History of Math. Now, let me say this. It was irresponsible for me to sleep during my college lectures. But then again, me missing some scrap of information would not have resulted in military actions that could cost people their lives. I'm as much a 'nap guy' as anybody else out there, and if this were any other VP I'd be cool with it, but really, Dick, this is important.

Photo credit to Reuters.

Politics in the Home State

The Political Wire:

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) has opened up a 55% to 33% lead over challenger Lynn Swann (R) in his race for reelection, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

Said pollster Clay Richards: "Rendell's numbers have bounced back as voters see no compelling reason to vote against him for a second term and no compelling reason to vote for Lynn Swann to unseat him."
Good. All due respect to a man that helped my beloved Steelers win four Super Bowls, but I'm gonna stick the the Gov. One doesn't go from sports caster to governmor of a large state.

When Newt thinks you've gone to far...

From Hotline:

Newt Gingrich: "I'm not going to defend the indefensible. ... I'm prepared to defend a very aggressive anti-terrorist campaign, and I'm prepared to defend the idea that the government ought to know who's making the calls, as long as that information is only used against terrorists, and as long as the Congress knows that it's underway. But I don't think the way they've handled this can be defended by reasonable people." ("Hannity & Colmes," FNC, 5/11).
Isn't this exactly what all those whacky right wingers have been so afraid of for all these years? Phone taps and black helicopters? No wonder support among conservatives is falling. Bush is doing the exact opposite of what 'small government' conservatism has been advocating for the last 50 years. Bush is charting a new course towards Hard Right, Big Government, Corporate Conservatism. That sounds familiar...

Oh, and Tom Delan is going to resign on June 9th.


Go read Glenn Greenwald's piece on Quest's decision not to turn over records to the NSA. It's long, but very good.

Welcome to the Roaring '20s!

From the Wall Street Journal:

President Bush’s job-approval rating has fallen to its lowest mark of his presidency, according to a new Harris Interactive poll. Of 1,003 U.S. adults surveyed in a telephone poll, 29% think Mr. Bush is doing an “excellent or pretty good” job as president, down from 35% in April and significantly lower than 43% in January. Approval ratings for Congress overall also sank, and now stand at 18%.

Roughly one-quarter of U.S. adults say “things in the country are going in the right direction,” while 69% say “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track.” This has been the trend since January, when 33% said the nation was heading in the right direction. Iraq remains a key concern for the general public, as 28% of Americans said they consider Iraq to be one of the top two most important issues the government should address, up from 23% in April. The immigration debate also prompted 16% of Americans to consider it a top issue, down from 19% last month, but still sharply higher from 4% in March.
All this before it came out that the NSA was illegal spying on millions of ordinary Americans. I'd love to see a new poll. I'll probably have to wait for Monday... Oh, and an 18% approval rating for Congress? Karl Rove's plan to do nothing but have 'culture war fights' from now until the 2006 elections isn't going to help that number.


Parting Shot & Citation du Jour

Last post on a busy day... From the Political Wire, the Quote de jour: My favorite Republican Senatorial Candidate, Rep. Harris talks about her favorite way to hand out government contracts on Hannity and Colmes last night:

Colmes: Did Mitchell offer to hold a fundraiser for you? And did you ask for $10 million that would have gone to benefit his company?

Harris: I asked for an appropriation for an authorized naval program in Sarasota, Florida, which would bring a lot of new jobs. So, clearly -- and, in the future, I had hoped that he would host one for me.

Colmes: So there was a quid pro quo?

Harris: There was no quid pro quo, ever.
Video at Crooks & Liars. Spend every penny, Ms. Harris, every penny.