Thursday, July 28, 2005

Pelosi to Question Dems Votes

From Roll Call via Booman:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), angry that some of her own betrayed the party on a key trade vote, called a last-minute, Members-only meeting tonight to review the early-morning balloting and the reasoning behind defectors' votes.

Pelosi called for the special session of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee at a private whip meeting this morning, during which she said she "had a sleepless night" over the Central American Free Trade Agreement vote that narrowly passed early in the morning. Sources in the room said Pelosi was furious at the outcome and the votes of some of the 15 Democrats -- notably some in safe districts -- who joined the Republicans to pass the bill.

"I've never seen her like that," described one Democratic aide ...

While sources insisted Pelosi has not called for any retribution in the Democratic Caucus, she left open the likelihood that defectors' committee assignments would be reviewed at tonight's meeting of the Steering Committee, which helps determine Members' placement on panels.

Why should someone like Melissa Bean, who continued her voting record of undermining the Democrat's agenda by again voting with the GOP on key legislation, continue to sit on any committee of substance? Way to go Pelosi. Take away the DINO's perks. It's about time Democrats started playing for keeps.

Bean Votes with GOP Again!

So CAFTA passed the house 217- 215. It passed despite the opposition from traditional Democratic bases of support like organized labor and civil rights organizations. It passed because several Democrats defected and voted for passage offsetting Republican defections against it. And once again, those of us in Illinois were treated to Melissa Bean, Democrat from IL-08, being one of those voting with the Republicans.

Now if this were just an off-hand occasion of voting with the Republicans it wouldn't be so bad. If this vote wasn't so close it wouldn't be so bad. If this vote was so important to the Republicans it wouldn't be so bad. But sadly, this vote was just another example of Bean voting with the Republicans on matters important to her Democratic base.

Bean voted with the Republicans to grandstand and intrude in personal family decisions in the Schiavo case. She voted to help Paris Hilton and the Republican base on the estate tax bill. She voted to screw over working people in favor of the credit card industry on the bankruptcy bill. She voted to support the Republican agenda on the flag-burning amendment. She voted to get tough on terrorism by eliminating civil rights by supporting the Republican PATRIOT Act renewal. And now she's putting business interests ahead of workers rights, abandoning the support given her by organized labor, by supporting CAFTA.

On all these key pieces of legislation she's voted to support the Republican and corporate agenda. That's not what a Democrat does. Especially a Democrat who won with just 52% of the vote. A Democrat who needs her base to get re-elected.

This seems to me another case of a DINO running on the platform of "Hey, if you don't vote for me (regardless of what I do), then the Republican will win." Essentially, a giant "screw you" to the Democratic voters who put her in the position she now holds.

What's the difference between a Democrat who votes consistently to support the Republican agenda and a Republican? A Republican victory waiting to happen.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Remember Who's In Control

I haven't blogged in a while because I'm just overwhelmed. The Bush administration and Republicans have so many ties to so many things going wrong that my head is spinning. Rove outting a CIA agent. Abu Gharib photos part II. The "look over here" appointment of Roberts. Bush's poll numbers continual race to the bottom. Downing Street Memos. Terrorism on the rise in London and Egypt. Iraq turning yet another corner on the way to a democracy that looks more like a civil war.

Yet in all of this the one consistent thread is Bush and his helpers ducking responsibility. Anyone involved in leaking information would be fired. Unless it was one of his administration, then they have to be found guilty of a crime. In the Bush ownership society, consequences are for those without power. They don't apply to any of Bush's friends or political allies.

And through all this, the Republicans continue to defend this administration. We have soldiers sodomizing children and raping women - and being photographed doing it - and Bush and his administration are suppressing the photographs to protect "national security." Bush is threatening to veto any defense spending bill that includes provisions to investigate such crimes. And even though the International Red Cross has documented these crimes as widespread, the Bush administration continues to claim they were not sanctioned, but just a few bad apples. Once or twice this story would be believable, but the boy George and his keepers are crying wolf a wee bit too often.

Let's remember this: In an ownership society the consequences of actions taken by the government are the result of the majority party's policy. The majority party in control of the House, the Senate, the office of the President, and soon the the Courts, are all Republicans. Republicans control the legislative agenda. Republicans chair the committees that send laws and nominees to the floor for a vote. Republicans control what happens legislatively. They can call the Democrats "obstructionist" and without any agenda, but in the end of the day it is the Republicans with the ability to pass any law they want due to their significant majority in the House and Senate. And it is the Republican party that has veto power through President Bush. There is nothing the Democrats can do but slow the Republican agenda down and force moral victories hard fought though losing battles.

It is the Republicans who own this economy. It is the Republicans who own this war and the deaths of nearly 1,800 Americans and tens of thousands of innocent civilians. It is the Republicans and their war on terror who own the steep rise in terrorism world wide. It is the Republicans who own the corruption in the House, the Senate and the office of the President. It is the Republicans who have stretched our military to the breaking point, and attempted to cut benefits for veterans and service members at the same time. It is the Republicans who own "enemy combatants" and the indefinite imprisonment without charge, lawyer or trial that goes with that legal creation. It is the Republicans who own the highest number of bankruptcies, persons living in poverty, and foreclosures in our nation's history. It is the Republicans who outed a CIA agent for political gain, then moved the goal posts on removing persons involved from their positions in the Bush administration.

Let's not forget the Republicans are the ones in control.

Friday, July 15, 2005

IL-06: Dems Should Follow GOP Lead

From Jeff Berkowitz at Public Affairs, we learn that Roskam is the man for the GOP in IL-06:
In short, State Senator Peter Roskam had too much and State Senator Carole Pankau had too little. Peter had been knocking on doors, including those in DC, since the beginning of this year, if not before. Carol, I am sure, found many of those doors long, since closed to her in June. The Haves and the Have-nots. A tale oft told in politics. Chalk up another one for the ole Boy’s network. Old habits die hard.

Me? At least I got one show out of this primary race, such as it was, and I got to know Senator Carole Pankau. She is a good, personable guest and we look forward to having her back on the show.

The 6th CD, although an open seat, is looking like a tougher and tougher race for the Democrats, which as of now has novice candidate Peter O’Malley taking on Christine Cegelis in their March primary. Cegelis surprised many by losing to Cong. Hyde in 2004 by a margin of only 56-44, and like Cong. Melissa Bean in the 8th CD in 2002, Cegelis never stopped running. However, still looks like a tough race for Christine, assuming she wins the primary. Roskam, the favorite to start with, can now marshall his resources and focus his message for the general. Somebody, quick-- bring something to DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel to help with his migraine.

This is why Republicans win. There will be no costly primary battle and no infighting highlighting any Republican candidate's short comings in IL-06. Yet on the Democratic side, we have Christine Cegelis, who has the organization, troops on the ground, name recognition and 5-times the funding of her Democatic opponent Peter O'Malley. But are those doors that Cegelis has been knocking on in DC for two years opening to her? Is the party supporting her? Are top Illinois pols endorsing her?

Nope.

Instead it looks like we are going to have a Democratic primary where O'Malley will have his lawyer bank account, fourth our of four finish in his only failed attempt at running for office and "DLC connections" highlighted and Cegelis will be called "too liberal" and "unelectable" over and over in the media. Then there's always the possibility of a political insider with deep pockets and no real support in the district will be anointed from high within the party at the last possible minute. Either way, Roskam and the GOP will just sit back, take notes, and save their money to dump on who ever the Democrats eventually run for the seat. After the Dems waste campaign funds bloodying each other first.

Brilliant.

Culture of Corruption

So if a federal employee with security clearance access to classified information took classified information gained with said security clearance and disclosed it to someone without authorization or security clearance, should such a person be allowed to keep their security clearance? Wouldn't they be a threat to our national security? Shouldn't they lose their right to access information so sensitive it requires a security clearance in the first place?

Republicans don't think so. They think such a person should be allowed to keep their security clearance. Case in point, The Reid Amendment:
Statement of Purpose:
To prohibit Federal employees who disclose classified information to persons not authorized to receive such information from holding a security clearance.

Sound simple enough. Give out classified information and lose your security clearance. So how did this amendment do? It was rejected 53 to 44. How many Republicans voted for removing security clearance from someone who gives away classified information to those not authorized to see it? None. Not one.

All 53 Republican senators voted against this. In the GOP ownership society there is no ownership, no consequences, no penalty for those in power, especially if they are a Republican.

Simple Logic

Kid Oakland sums it up: Either the Bush administration is telling us the truth, or they are manipulative political hacks bent on power:
Either the Bush Administration and the GOP are a group of sincere, earnest patriots doing their best in trying times to serve our nation... or they are the biggest bunch of liars, opportunists and hypocrites our country has ever seen.

[...]

Either Iraq had WMD and was an "imminent" threat to the security of our nation....or it didn't, and the Bush Administration lied when they led us into war in Iraq.

Which one is it?

Either Iraq, as our Vice President, Dick Cheney said, over and over again....was directly linked to the attack on our nation on 9/11 or it wasn't.

Which one is it?

Either this Administration had highly convincing evidence that, as Colin Powell reported to the UN and Condoleeza Rice authorized Bush to state in his 2003 State of the Union address....that Iraq had a burgeoning nuclear program that brought our nation face to face with a "mushroom cloud"...or it didn't

Which one is it?

Either John Kerry, as a young man, lied about wounds he received in combat and medals that he "didn't deserve", in anticipation of running for President in 2004....or he was smeared by the GOP in the most disgraceful attack on a combat veteran running for President in our nation's history.

Which one is it?

Either Karl Rove, who has had the full faith and confidence of the President of the United States, is worthy of that trust, and the trust of the American Public...or he is a political operative, a weasal, and a traitor who stooped to exposing a CIA agent working in service of our nation simply in order to attack a political enemy.

Which one is it?


I think you know my answer.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Wilson, Plame, and GOP Lies

So now that Rove seems up to his eyeballs in trouble for revealing that Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a covert CIA agent, the GOP is spinning like crazy trying to discredit the story. As always, one of their favorite methods is to tar the people who they've caused the most damage to. In this case, the Republicans designated point men are trying to spin in the media that Valerie Plame wasn't a covert CIA agent with a front company, overseas contacts, and a diplomatic passport, but instead a desk jockey shuffling papers. No one is going to execute a desk jockey.

Once again, lies. From TPM we hear from Larry Johnson, a retired CIA officer who was a classmate of Valerie Plame's when both entered the CIA in the mid 1980's:
Valerie Plame was a classmate of mine from the day she started with the CIA.  I entered on duty at the CIA in September 1985.  All of my classmates were undercover--in other words, we told our family and friends that we were working for other overt U.S. Government agencies.  We had official cover.  That means we had a black passport--i.e., a diplomatic passport.  If we were caught overseas engaged in espionage activity the black passport was a get out of jail free card.

A few of my classmates, and Valerie was one of these, became a non-official cover officer.  That meant she agreed to operate overseas without the protection of a diplomatic passport.  If caught in that status she would have been executed.

The lies by people like Victoria Toensing, Representative Peter King, and P. J. O'Rourke insist that Valerie was nothing, just a desk jockey.  Yet, until Robert Novak betraayed her she was still undercover and the company that was her front was still a secret to the world.  When Novak outed Valerie he also compromised her company and every individual overseas who had been in contact with that company and with her.

The Republicans are all about national security. Unless you don't carry water for them as Joe Wilson refused to when he told the truth that Iraq wasn't trying to get yellow cake from Niger. Then your wife is "fair game" even if she's CIA-NOC patriotically risking her life to gain information on real honest to goodness WMD's that do exist in the world in places other than Iraq.

How very patriotic of them.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Why They Hate Us

If you listen to President Bush and his ilk talk about why terrorists are willing to blow themselves up to make their point, you will learn that they hate us. They hate us for our religion. They hate us for our Democracy. They hate us for our freedom. To quote comedian David Cross:
"If the terrorists hated freedom, then the Netherlands would be fucking dust."

Suicide bombings have little to do with hating our freedom. Don't believe me. I don't know much more about terrorism than Bush does. Instead, let's listen to Robert Pape, University of Chicago professor who's studied every suicide terrorist attack since 1980. From the American Conservative, via Kevin Drum:
RP: This wealth of information creates a new picture about what is motivating suicide terrorism. Islamic fundamentalism is not as closely associated with suicide terrorism as many people think. The world leader in suicide terrorism is a group that you may not be familiar with: the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.

....TAC: So if Islamic fundamentalism is not necessarily a key variable behind these groups, what is?

RP: The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide-terrorist campaign — over 95 percent of all the incidents — has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw.

....TAC: If you were to break down causal factors, how much weight would you put on a cultural rejection of the West and how much weight on the presence of American troops on Muslim territory?

RP: The evidence shows that the presence of American troops is clearly the pivotal factor driving suicide terrorism.

If Islamic fundamentalism were the pivotal factor, then we should see some of the largest Islamic fundamentalist countries in the world, like Iran, which has 70 million people — three times the population of Iraq and three times the population of Saudi Arabia — with some of the most active groups in suicide terrorism against the United States. However, there has never been an al-Qaeda suicide terrorist from Iran, and we have no evidence that there are any suicide terrorists in Iraq from Iran.

[...]

....TAC: Has the next generation of anti-American suicide terrorists already been created? Is it too late to wind this down, even assuming your analysis is correct and we could de-occupy Iraq?

RP: Many people worry that once a large number of suicide terrorists have acted that it is impossible to wind it down. The history of the last 20 years, however, shows the opposite. Once the occupying forces withdraw from the homeland territory of the terrorists, they often stop — and often on a dime.


It seems it isn't our freedom they hate after all. It's our invasion and occupation of their country. Bush needs us to think they hate our freedom. That way we may miss the fact that his decision to invade Iraq is what is driving the sharp increase in terror attack globally since we invaded.

Yet the Bush administration continues to insist we are safer now, fighting "them" over "there" rather than at home. Tell that to the citizens of London.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Senseless.

Unless you've been under a rock, you are aware that terrorists struck London yesterday and have killed at least 50 people in four separate bomb blasts. Ordinary everyday people on their way to work, sight seeing, going about life; people like you and me. Not soldiers. Not government officials. Not armed or fighting in anyway. Just people. Moms. Dads. Brothers. Sisters. Children. Now gone.

At dKos there is a diary covering the Right's reaction to this. Theirs is the typical reaction I'd expect from the Right. Liberals are to blame. The rag-heads are sub-human. The typical fare. But this comment from Little Green Footballs, a leading Republican Right blog, left me stunned:
"Martyring Muslims doesn't seem to make much of a difference to the fanatics. What is needed is to take their human capital out their hands - their children. No more warped children, no more jihadis."

Kill their children. No man. No problem. I'm sitting here, still digesting this in disbelief. Kill children? Kill innocent children just because they are a different religion, race or from another country we see as beneath our right as Americans to live at a standard which the majority of the world will never come close to achieving. So we can waste energy, waste the environment, and waste our minds on reality TV. For this, children should die?

How exactly will this stop terrorism? How exactly will this stop the senseless killing of innocent people? By killing children? The people who write such revolting garbage are as nuts, or more so, than the terrorists who created the bombs exploded in London. Kill a man's child and watch him exist to aide anyone who will kill his child's killers. Do they think any parent would react any differently? Do they think Muslims love their children any less than Christians?

But no. This is the Bush doctrine. Get them before they get you. Fear difference. You're with us or against us. This is a Christian God fearing country, and God's on our side. Might makes right. The ends justify the means. Preemption. Killing children. How can anyone believe this?

What's wrong with this nation? This isn't America. We're not suppose to torture people. We're not suppose to arrest people and hold them indefinitely without a lawyer, a charge and a trial. And by God we're not suppose to kill children or even consider it as a means to an end.

Bush has changed this nation. His administration and foreign policy have cost us dearly. They have turned neighbor against neighbor and divided our nation. His "war on terror" is a myth. It is no more winnable than a war on poverty, illiteracy, or the common cold. Anyone could put a bomb in a briefcase and blow up a train or a bus. There is no preventing it by force no matter how many billions we spend on our military or homeland defense. There is no preventing it especially by killing innocent civilians in a war of aggression. Especially by viewing killing anyone's children as acceptable. This is how to win the war on terror?



Senseless.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy 4th of July??

I'll probably catch some heat about this, but I'm going to be honest: The 4th of July is probably my least favorite holiday. On this day, America is supposed to celebrate our Declaration of Independence from the crown of England. We as a nation are supposed to reflect on the genius of the Founders who wrote inspired words beyond their times like these:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.


But most won't. Instead people will go outside in the heat and sit around and bitch about their lives. They'll bitch about the high price of gas, but they'll still buy a big ass SUV that gets 12MPG. They'll bitch about how their property taxes are too high, while they bitch about our crumbling infrastructure. They'll bitch that teachers are paid too much and in the next breath complain about our "failing" public education system. They'll bitch that politicians are all crooks, yet fail to involve themselves in politics what so ever. They'll bitch about our government, but they'll refuse to watch C-Span, contact their Senator, learn the name of their US Representative, or even vote in local elections. I'm not a hot weather person. I hate the heat in July. But I hate the bitching more.

Next, while we are out in the heat bitching, we'll stand around an even hotter grill, and cook hot dogs until they turn black and blister, seer hamburgers until they are hard as rubber, and turn any tender white chicken into dark meat. Of course there will be potato salad and any other type of side dish that is not suppose to sit around in the heat sitting around in the heat. This of course will attract flies and bees. Additional protein, right?

So as we'll stand around in the heat, getting hotter by the grill, turning various meats into charcoal, eating potentially rancid potato salad, and we will drink. I rarely drink, but don't have a problem with people who do in moderation. Yet on the 4th it just seems like people tend to drink to the point of stupidity. As they dehydrate themselves standing around in the heat, they seem to mistakenly think that alcohol re-hydrates the body. This makes them loud, stupid, and where beer is concerned, allows the men to have the ability to piss nearly on command.

Now that we've sat around in the heat dehydrating ourselves, eaten meat that resembles charcoal, and raised our blood- alcohol levels to the point our senses are dulled, it's time for explosives! What would be the point of the 4th of July without blowing stuff up? Now in most places, such explosives are illegal. But that won't stop us, as the SUV can easily make it over the state line on a couple of tanks of gas and has tons of cargo room for illegal contraband. Isn't it great that those things go boom. Really loud! Wow, light a match, light the fuse, throw the M-80 in your neighbor's yard at 3 a.m. and it goes boom. Really loud too. How cool is that? In a slightly intoxicated state, senselessly blowing stuff up gives one hell of a sense of power. Woo-hoo! Me a man! Me blow stuff up! Maybe even my hand or a neighbor's kid. But hey, all in good fun, right?

No, standing around in the heat, eating over cooked meat, with slightly drunk people setting off explosives just isn't high up on my list of things to do. I don't think this is what the founders had in mind when they signed the Declaration of Independence either.