Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Upcoming Texas Democratic Candidate Events

Air America Radio's Al Franken takes his show on the road to Dallas this Friday, December 2 at the Hard Rock Cafe (2601 McKinney, 75204 for those of you in Big D). Guests include Texas Attorney General candidate David Van Os, US Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, and columnist Molly Ivins.

(Since Clear Channel hasn't yet been convinced to bring AAR to Houston, you can stream the broadcast live through your computer by clicking on the link above. David's interview with Al is scheduled to air at just after noon -- but since it's live radio that could change.)

David's Whistlestop Campaign Kickoff party is Saturday, December 3, at Austin's Barr Mansion. Jim Hightower is featured speaker. Music by Tres Lunas. Tickets are $50 and include a dinner buffet.

Barbara Radnofsky will file for election and hold a press conference on Monday, December 5 at the Democratic Party offices, 707 Rio Grande, in Austin at 2 p.m., where she will deliver her proposals for Texans' health care, education, and veterans' affairs. She'll also outline the Top Ten Cynical Anti-Texas positions her opponent, Kay Bailey Perjury Technicality Hutchison, has taken during the past year.

And Chris Bell will be appearing at the Galveston County Central Labor Council's Holiday Banquet on Tuesday December 6, at Fisherman's Wharf restaurant in the Strand, Galveston. The event starts with a social hour at 6 p.m., and the dinner program begins at 7. Congressional candidates Nick Lampson and Shane Sklar will also be speaking at the event.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Lurching toward theocratic fascism

Long before Dr. James Dobson forced Harriet Miers to withdraw from consideration for the Supreme Court, and long before Dick Cheney and the Big Oil kingpins had the minutes from their meetings sealed by the USSC after Cheney and Scalia went duck-hunting in Louisiana, I felt that the United States was heading down this ominous path. Two friends recently forwarded me some articles that prompt me to cobble together this post. Two excerpts follow, the first from Paul Bigioni:


Observing political and economic discourse in North America since the 1970s leads to an inescapable conclusion: The vast bulk of legislative activity favours the interests of large commercial enterprises. Big business is very well off, and successive Canadian and U.S. governments, of whatever political stripe, have made this their primary objective for at least the past 25 years.

Digging deeper into 20th century history, one finds the exaltation of big business at the expense of the citizen was a central characteristic of government policy in Germany and Italy in the years before those countries were chewed to bits and spat out by fascism. Fascist dictatorships were borne to power in each of these countries by big business, and they served the interests of big business with remarkable ferocity.

These facts have been lost to the popular consciousness in North America. Fascism could therefore return to us, and we will not even recognize it. Indeed, Huey Long, one of America's most brilliant and most corrupt politicians, was once asked if America would ever see fascism. "Yes," he replied, "but we will call it anti-fascism."

... Before the rise of fascism, Germany and Italy were, on paper, liberal democracies. Fascism did not swoop down on these nations as if from another planet. To the contrary, fascist dictatorship was the result of political and economic changes these nations underwent while they were still democratic. In both these countries, economic power became so utterly concentrated that the bulk of all economic activity fell under the control of a handful of men. Economic power, when sufficiently vast, becomes by its very nature political power. The political power of big business supported fascism in Italy and Germany.

Business tightened its grip on the state in both Italy and Germany by means of intricate webs of cartels and business associations. ... This was an era eerily like our own, insofar as economists and businessmen constantly clamoured for self-regulation in business. By the mid 1920s, however, self-regulation had become self-imposed regimentation. By means of monopoly and cartel, the businessmen had wrought for themselves a "command and control" economy that replaced the free market. The business associations of Italy and Germany at this time are perhaps history's most perfect illustration of Adam Smith's famous dictum: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."

How could the German government not be influenced by Fritz Thyssen, the man who controlled most of Germany's coal production? How could it ignore the demands of the great I.G. Farben industrial trust, controlling as it did most of that nation's chemical production? Indeed, the German nation was bent to the will of these powerful industrial interests. Hitler attended to the reduction of taxes applicable to large businesses while simultaneously increasing the same taxes as they related to small business. Previous decrees establishing price ceilings were repealed such that the cost of living for the average family was increased. Hitler's economic policies hastened the destruction of Germany's middle class by decimating small business.

Ironically, Hitler pandered to the middle class, and they provided some of his most enthusiastically violent supporters. The fact that he did this while simultaneously destroying them was a terrible achievement of Nazi propaganda.

Hitler also destroyed organized labour by making strikes illegal. Notwithstanding the socialist terms in which he appealed to the masses, Hitler's labour policy was the dream come true of the industrial cartels that supported him. Nazi law gave total control over wages and working conditions to the employer.


The same economic reality existed in Italy between the two world wars. In that country, nearly all industrial activity was owned or controlled by a few corporate giants, Fiat and the Ansaldo shipping concern being the chief examples ... As a young man, Mussolini had been a strident socialist, and he, like Hitler, used socialist language to lure the people to fascism. Mussolini spoke of a "corporate" society wherein the energy of the people would not be wasted on class struggle. The entire economy was to be divided into industry specific corporazioni, bodies composed of both labour and management representatives. The corporazioni would resolve all labour/management disputes; if they failed to do so, the fascist state would intervene.

Unfortunately, as in Germany, there laid at the heart of this plan a swindle. The corporazioni, to the extent that they were actually put in place, were controlled by the employers. Together with Mussolini's ban on strikes, these measures reduced the Italian labourer to the status of peasant.

Mussolini, the one-time socialist, went on to abolish the inheritance tax, a measure that favoured the wealthy. He decreed a series of massive subsidies to Italy's largest industrial businesses and repeatedly ordered wage reductions. Italy's poor were forced to subsidize the wealthy. In real terms, wages and living standards for the average Italian dropped precipitously under fascism.

Even this brief historical sketch shows how fascism did the bidding of big business. The fact that Hitler called his party the "National Socialist Party" did not change the reactionary nature of his policies. The connection between the fascist dictatorships and monopoly capital was obvious to the U.S. Department of Justice in 1939. As of 2005, however, it is all but forgotten.


It might be argued that North America's democratic political systems are so entrenched that we needn't fear fascism's return. The democracies of Italy and Germany in the 1920s were in many respects fledgling and weak. Our systems will surely react at the first whiff of dictatorship.

Or will they? This argument denies the reality that the fascist dictatorships were preceded by years of reactionary politics, the kind of politics that are playing out today. Further, it is based on the conceit that whatever our own governments do is democracy. ... In the U.S., millions still question the legality of the sitting president's first election victory, and the power to declare war has effectively become his personal prerogative. Assuming that we have enough democracy to protect us is exactly the kind of complacency that allows our systems to be quietly and slowly perverted. On paper, Italy and Germany had constitutional, democratic systems. What they lacked was the eternal vigilance necessary to sustain them. That vigilance is also lacking today.


And from Bill Wheeler, in an e-mail to me:


The first of the Dixiecrats to leave the Democratic Party in 1948 took place when the Democrats would not remove a plank in the platform calling for an integrated military. Jesse Helms formed the Dixiecrat Party and ran for President that year. He later moved on to the Republican Party who accepted him and all others of his ilk with open arms.

In the South they were called the ‘yellow dog’ Democrats because it was said that if they ran an old yellow dog against any Republican, they would still vote for the dog. Now they’re Republicans. Mostly made up of neo-Nazi, KKK, white supremacists, paramilitary and conservative religious fanatics, they joined the far right conservative, John Birch Sociey wing of the Republican Party. Their movement grew slowly in the fifties, gained speed in the 60’s and 70’s. At best, they could be described as social conservatives or, in my view, social misfits.

They became the ‘swing vote’ that started changing the face of Congress and the national political scene. This is when the likes of Trent Lott and Phil Gramm went ‘over’. The old conservative social Democrats would accept the traditional Republican adherence to Big Business; in return, the Republicans would accept them as the petty bourgeoisie with their social hatreds.

I explain this political movement not as a long journey from the politically extreme left to the extreme right; but as one short step. How? The political dichotomies, in my view, form a continuum not along a straight line left and right but rather as a clock face, where moderates or centrists are located at 6:00 and the extreme right and left wings converge at 12:00. With this in mind, it is easy to see that it is but a small step from totalitarian left to totalitarian right. There is not much difference in these extremes except their social standings.

Leon Trotsky called both of these enigmas of mankind ‘fascist’. The right wing corporate conservative unites with the petty bourgeoisie left wing social (usually religious) conservatives. He called left wingers “social democrats” and “social fascists”.

Once the petty bourgeoisie were compelled to change course, they were employed to fight the street battles, to get bloody, and take the risks. This is just what the Republican Party needed, an Army – not in this case to fight a war but to win the battle at the polls.

Trotsky wrote:

“the changes in this sphere ultimately play a minor role -- but it means first of all for the most part that the workers' organizations are annihilated; that the proletariat is reduced to an amorphous state; and that a system of administration is created which penetrates deeply into the masses and which serves to frustrate the independent crystallization of the proletariat. Therein precisely is the gist of fascism....”

Trotsky further wrote:

“After fascism is victorious, finance capital directly and immediately gathers into its hands, as in a vise of steel, all the organs and institutions of sovereignty, the executive administrative, and educational powers of the state: the entire state apparatus together with the army, the municipalities, the universities, the schools, the press, the trade unions, and the co-operatives.”

And finally:

“And the fascist agency, by utilizing the petty bourgeoisie as a battering ram, by overwhelming all obstacles in its path, does a thorough job. After fascism is victorious, finance capital directly and immediately gathers into its hands, as in a vise of steel, all the organs and institutions of sovereignty, the executive, administrative, and educational powers of the state: the entire state apparatus together with the army, the municipalities, the universities, the schools, the press, the trade unions, and the co-operatives. When a state turns fascist, it does not mean only that the forms and methods of government are changed."



Monday, November 28, 2005

HCDP has a new Director

Meet my buddy Melissa Taylor, who was just named the new Director of Party Administration for the Harris County Democratic Party.

I've known Melissa since we both rode the bus to Crawford on the first anniversary of the invasion of Iraq in March of 2004. She was *ahem* slightly active in Howard Dean's presidential campaign, was the volunteer coordinator for Richard Morrison's congressional run last year, and has recently served on the steering committee of Democracy for Houston.

Melissa's task -- and she is more than qualified to accomplish it -- is to improve upon some of the following numbers:

Harris County, with a population of 3.6 million people, is larger than 24 states and the District of Columbia. It covers 1,777 square miles and has 913 precincts. In 2004 58% of its 1.8 million registered voters cast ballots in the general election, and 45% of those votes were for John Kerry.

This county -- the second most populous in the United States -- is already purple, and with a little extra work is going to turn blue in 2006.

Congratulations Melissa. Let's kick some Republican ass in 2006 -- and beyond.

Abramoff, Scanlon, Suncruz, and Elmore Leonard

Josh Marshall just keeps pulling on the loose threads (and so does the Justice Department):

You know that when the casino boat line SunCruz was owned by Jack Abramoff and Adam Kidan, the company paid the men who blew away SunCruz founder Gus Boulis.

Now it turns out they also had the company pay the National Republican Congressional Committee (the House GOP election committee) $10,000 on behalf of Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH). That was in exchange for Ney's putting anti-Boulis remarks in the congressional record that helped Abramoff and Kidan pressure Boulis to sell them SunCruz.

The guy who helped arrange Ney's anti-Boulis-trash-talking and the later pay-off was none other than Mike Scanlon, who later did public relations work for SunCruz, in addition to going into the Indian gaming bilking biz with SunCruz owner Abramoff.

Scanlon is the guy who just agreed to testify against, well ... everybody in the Abramoff cases.

Complicated? Hey, don't blame us! We didn't tell them to go out and live an Elmore Leonard novel.

As Glenn Reynolds would say: "Heh."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sounds like a plan (but it may just be a flip-flop)

Dick Cheney said this just a week ago:

A precipitous withdrawal from Iraq would be a victory for the terrorists, an invitation to further violence against free nations, and a terrible blow to the future security of the United States of America.

That was in response, of course, to Rep. John Murtha's call for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

The LA Times reported this yesterday:

President Bush will give a major speech Wednesday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., in which aides say he is expected to herald the improved readiness of Iraqi troops, which he has identified as the key condition for pulling out U.S. forces…The developments seemed to lay the groundwork for potentially large withdrawals in 2006 and 2007…

And then there was this (in response to this op-ed piece by Joe Biden in the Washington Post, also yesterday):
The White House for the first time has claimed possession of an Iraq withdrawal plan, arguing that a troop pullout blueprint unveiled this past week by a Democratic senator was "remarkably similar" to its own.

It also signaled its acceptance of a recent US Senate amendment designed to pave the way for a phased US military withdrawal from the violence-torn country. ...

In the White House statement, which was released under the headline "Senator Biden Adopts Key Portions Of Administration's Plan For Victory In Iraq," McClellan said the administration of President George W. Bush welcomed Biden's voice in the debate.

"Today, Senator Biden described a plan remarkably similar to the administration's plan to fight and win the war on terror," the spokesman went on to say.

McClellan added that as Iraqi security forces gain strength and experience, "we can lessen our troop presence in the country without losing our capability to effectively defeat the terrorists," and also said the White House now saw "a strong consensus" building in Washington in favor of Bush's strategy in Iraq.

You may recall that McClellan -- less than two weeks ago -- blasted Murtha for calling for an immediate pullout of troops, accusing him of "endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore".

So let's review:

Two weeks ago Republicans were calling Democrats cowards for advocating troop withdrawal from Iraq -- and voted 403-3 against doing so -- and next week there will be a plan announced by the President to withdraw troops from Iraq. A plan heretofore unknown, but is "remarkably similar" to a Democrat's plan.

Would that be considered a flip-flop?

Is bringing the troops home a bad idea only if someone other than Bush suggests it?

'Walk the Line' is a fine tribute to Cash

So we went to see this movie yesterday.

I was a Johnny Cash snob growing up. My Dad was a big fan; he used to walk around singing "Hey, Porter", but I was way too much into Kiss and Deep Purple and Black Sabbath for anything from another musical genre to make much of an impression.

It's really only been the last several years that I discovered his artistry, and what led me to his music was reading about his influence on musicians whom I respect.

Now I'll have to go find some of the bios of John and June, because their love story is timeless.

And this will make the FReepers' head explode: Johnny Cash was a progressive populist.

What could be more liberal than this...

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black

Saturday, November 26, 2005

NBC censors Thanksgiving Day parade

This just seems appalling to me:

NBC did not interrupt its broadcast of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade yesterday to bring viewers the news that an M&M balloon had crashed into a light pole, injuring two sisters.

In fact, when the time came in the tightly scripted three-hour program for the M&Ms' appearance, NBC weaved in tape of the balloon crossing the finish line at last year's parade - even as the damaged balloon itself was being dragged from the accident scene. At 11:47 a.m., as an 11-year-old girl and her 26-year-old sister were being treated for injuries, the parade's on-air announcers - Katie Couric, Matt Lauer and Al Roker - kept up their light-hearted repartee from Herald Square, where the parade ends. ...

Ten minutes later, the upbeat broadcast ended without mention of the accident in Times Square. CNN carried a flash about the accident at 11:51, while the parade telecast was still going on. NBC's cable news network, MSNBC, followed two minutes later. And WNBC, the New York affiliate, carried the news at 12:30 p.m. ...

When the balloon failed to arrive at Herald Square at the appointed time, she said, "we rolled with some previously recorded footage."

Does this make you curious about other times this kind of manipulation may have occurred?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Le Grande Thanksgiving

Wide awake this morning for no good reason, with the local "news" reporting the occupancy of the mall parking lots and "interviewing" the lemmings out early to consume.

Trying not to reach the conclusion that this is what our soldiers are dying for in Iraq: our God-given right to go deeper into debt in order to acquire the latest X-Box.

Did you read Art Buchwald yesterday?


One of our most important holidays is Thanksgiving Day, known in France as le Jour de Merci Donnant .

Le Jour de Merci Donnant was first started by a group of Pilgrims (Pelerins) who fled from l'Angleterre before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World (le Nouveau Monde) where they could shoot Indians (les Peaux-Rouges) and eat turkey (dinde) to their hearts' content.

They landed at a place called Plymouth (now a famous voiture Americaine) in a wooden sailing ship called the Mayflower (or Fleur de Mai) in 1620. But while the Pelerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pelerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. The only way the Peaux-Rouges helped the Pelerins was when they taught them to grow corn (mais). The reason they did this was because they liked corn with their Pelerins.

In 1623, after another harsh year, the Pelerins' crops were so good that they decided to have a celebration and give thanks because more mais was raised by the Pelerins than Pelerins were killed by Peaux-Rouges.


More here, including the tale of Miles Standish (Kilometres Deboutish), Jean Alden, and Priscilla Mullens (no translation).

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Which one is the turkey?

Click to enlarge.

Off to the in-laws, where we'll be having ham. No beef (mad cow) and no fowl (bird flu).

Did I mention my FIL is an Orthodox Jew? Seriously.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Straw Men of Iraq: Ten Pro-War Fallacies

Peter Daou at Salon has the definitive smackdown of the lies and exaggerations associated with the Republicans' ongoing war-mongering. Here are the just the first two:

1. Virtually everyone who saw the intelligence believed Saddam had WMD, therefore Bush is being unfaily singled out for criticism.

The typical framing is: "Democrats got the same intelligence and reached the same conclusion, so blaming Bush for misleading America is purely political." The argument is also presented in 'gotcha' form by people like Sean Hannity, who use a lengthy blind quote about the threat posed by Saddam that turns out to be from Bill Clinton, John Kerry or some other Democrat. The conclusion is that if Bush was lying, they must have been lying too.

There is a false assumption underlying this argument, namely that Dems received the same intel as Bush (they didn't), but setting that aside, here are two reasons why this is a straw man:

a) The issue is not whether people believed Saddam had WMD (many did), or whether there was any evidence that he had WMD (there was), it's the fact that Bush and his administration made an absolute, unconditional case with the evidence at hand, brooking no dissent and dismissing doubters inside and outside the government as cowardly or treasonous. That's what "manipulating the intelligence" and "misleading the public" refers to, the knowing exaggeration of the case for war (whether by cherry-picking intel or using defunct intel or by speaking about ambiguous intel in alarming absolutes). As I wrote in this post: "There we were, more than a decade after the first gulf war, two years after 9/11, and Saddam hadn’t attacked us, he hadn’t threatened to attack us. And then suddenly, he was the biggest threat to America. A threat that required a massive invasion. A bigger threat than Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Iran, Bin Laden. A HUGE, IMMEDIATE threat. It simply defied belief."

b) In addition to the fear-mongering described above, the contention that Bush 'misled' the public is not simply about Saddam's WMD, but about the way the administration stormed ahead with their plans and invaded Iraq in the way they did, at the time they did, with the Pollyannaish visions they fed the world, all the while demonizing dissent and smearing their critics.

In both (a) and (b), the crux of the issue is proportionality. Whether or not Bill Clinton or France or the U.N. believed Saddam was a threat, the administration's apocalyptic words and drastic actions (preemptively invading a sovereign nation) were decidedly out of proportion to the level and immediacy of the threat. THAT is the issue.

2. After 9/11, we can't wait for the threat to materialize before taking action.

This is often used as a counterpoint to the notion that Bush overhyped the rationale for war. It's a vacuous argument whose logic implies we should invade a half-dozen African countries as well as North Korea, China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Every day that goes by that Bush allows these threats to "materialize," he is failing in his duties to protect the American public and should be impeached. And if the pushback is that North Korea and others are being dealt with diplomatically, isn't that exactly the approach this argument purports to refute?

Furthermore, the war's opponents never claimed they'd prefer to "wait" for threats to materialize. This is another straw man. Nobody wants to wait for threats to materialize; they just want to deal with them differently.

Go read them all.

Not Moneyshots, but still on the mark...

"The federal government began investigating allegations of fraud against the Coalition Provisional Authority, a U.S. contractor accused in a bid-rigging operation involving millions of dollars. Asked to comment, a spokesperson for Halliburton said, 'Millions? With an M? That is adorable.'"

-- Amy Poehler on Saturday Night Live

"President Bush, is on his Asian tour now. He'll visit Japan, China, South Korea, Mongolia. Once again, he's skipping Vietnam."

-- David Letterman

"Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito says he's embarrassed by some of the things he wrote in the 1980's. Apparently Alito wrote the song 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.'"

-- Conan O'Brien

"While the Democrats are focusing on how we were misled to war, Bush is focusing on how to mislead us out of it. ... If we were wrong about why we went in, we have to be wrong about why we're leaving. Otherwise it sends our enemies the message that America lacks the will to remain incorrect."

-- Rob Corddry on The Daily Show

"President Bush is planning on spending Thanksgiving out at his ranch in Crawford. And you know how he always pardons the White House turkey? Bad news for the turkey: There are three cabinet members ahead of him."

-- Jay Leno

If I don't see you again before the holiday, have a happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2005

2008 Presidential straw poll

Daily Kos is conducting the last of these for 2005, so go cast a vote here.

The Kossacks have consistently picked Wesley Clark as their favorite, with Russ Feingold and John Edwards running second and third. The MSM's presumptive front-runner, Hillary Clinton, barely leads the rest of the pack, which includes Senators Kerry and Biden, Governors Warner and Richardson, and a few lesser lights.

So far the order for November holds true to form: Clark, Feingold, Warner (who is obviously getting a bounce from the November 8 results in Virginia) and Edwards.

Update (11/22): The results are in.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Another Swift Boat blown up

The latest incarnation of the New McCarthyism blew up in the Republicans' faces on the floor of the House last night.

The vote last night on the rule to bring the "Murtha Resolution" -- that's what the Shut Up and Clap Louder Crowd called it before they suddenly all started saying 'this isn't about one man' -- to a vote passed 210-202, but every Democratic representative voted nay. And 5 Republicans joined them.

The actual vote on the referendum itself (which was to end the occupation of Iraq immediately) was 403-3, with the nays carrying. John Murtha voted against it. Even Dennis Kucinich voted against it.

But the signature moment was the nasty attack on Murtha by Rep. Jean Schmidt -- the GOP House member with the least seniority, who managed to squeak past a decorated war veteran in a special election, who built herself a straw man in order to call another decorated war veteran a coward.

That said it all.

The Republicans went after the wrong Marine.

This has all the earmarks of a Karl Rove-Swift Boat-style smearjob. Hunter at Kos writes about Newsweek's Howard Fineman indicating precisely that.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Another Moneyshot Quote

"I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

-- Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania, on Dick Cheney.

Murtha, who has a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts from his service in Vietnam, retired as a colonel from the Marines after 37 years and was elected to Congress in 1990. He serves on the House Appropriations Committee, which among other things oversees military spending. White House press secretary Scott McClelland, following the Chickenhawk-in-Chief around in Korea, took his mouth off the President's boots long enough to describe his boss as "baffled" -- no surprise there -- but then began the Swift-Boat-style smear by saying Murtha was "endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic party."

Now I proudly consider myself one of those, and as such don't consider that kind of comment an insult, especially when I consider the source. But how I would take it isn't the point; how it's intended is.

Speaker Denny Hastert, himself a Vietnam draft avoider (he had bad knees, so he stayed home to wrestle) described his own fat ass as "saddened". "Rep. Murtha and Democratic leaders have adopted a policy of cut and run," he said.

This is how the White House and the Republican leadership treats the people who actually supported them on the war. The ones who truly believed they were doing the right thing at the outset.

They piss all over them. Publicly.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Reuters buried the lede (but I dug it up)

Not that there wasn't anything newsworthy on the first page, but on the second page of this Reuters news item, rather innocuously headlined "Post urged to probe Woodward's role in CIA case":

A White House official said on Thursday that national security adviser Stephen Hadley was not Woodward's source on Plame. According to current and former administration officials and lawyers, neither was: President George W. Bush himself, top political adviser Karl Rove, Libby, White House chief of staff Andrew Card, counselor Dan Bartlett, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former CIA director George Tenet, and former deputy CIA director John McLaughlin.

You may have noticed that Dick Cheney is conspicuously absent from that list.

Now on the one hand, why should I believe an unnamed White House official when it turns out I shouldn't have believed Scottie McClellan when he said that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby had nothing to do with the CIA leak?

Unnamed sources in the Bush administration lie like rugs. Even the offical White House spokesperson doesn't know what the truth is. And besides, why doesn't this conflict with the offical position that the White House does not comment on an ongoing investigation?

Are they lying now or were they lying then?


My money is back on Vice President Torture as the felonious leak, especially with the news yesterday that Cheney refused to comment on the Woodward bombshells.

No wonder "Last Throes" Dick has been so grouchy lately.

Moneyshot Quotes of the Week

The last couple of weeks I have simply made headlines out of them ...

(Pat Robertson, by virtue of his condemning the city of Dover, PA for kicking their creationists out of office, has been inducted into the MsQotW Hall of Fame. From now on we can all ignore everything he ever says.)

"War is not a Republican or Democrat (sic) issue. The casualties of war are from both parties. The Bush Administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them. Suggesting that to challenge or criticize policy is undermining and hurting our troops is not democracy nor what this country has stood for, for over 200 years."

-- Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., departing again from the Rove talking points

"When we have our majority leader being indicted and a bridge to nowhere, then it's time for us to reflect upon the Republican Party."

-- Rep. Charlie Bass, R-N.H., who also said that the House Republican conference "would be healthier and more unified if we had real elections and if Tom DeLay would step aside".

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

It was Hadley all along

National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley was the senior administration official who told Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward that Valerie Plame Wilson was a CIA officer, attorneys close to the investigation and intelligence officials tell Raw Story.

Hadley, you may remember, has been previously implicated in the Niger forgeries, and has also been the point man in 'catapulting the propaganda that "everyone believed" Iraq had WMD.

You may also recall that Hadley was the fall guy for the infamous "sixteen words" in the State of the Union speech. His excuse? "I forgot I was told to take that out."

So it would seem that the National Security Advisor of the United States of America appears to have been at the center of most of the lies told by this administration over the past four years.

If he keeps going at this rate, he'll be promoted to Secretary of State when Condi Rice replaces Cheney (who will be resigning shortly due to health concerns).

Update (11/17): I could still be correct about Cheney.

Woodward's disgrace

One of my favorite sites described Bob Woodward, all the way back in September, as a "Pre$$titute Extraordinaire." And did so again in October with Bob Woodward, Pre$$titute Extraordinaire (Part 2).

Rook's Rant:

"Woodward has to be the biggest disappointment in all of journalism. At what point did he stop being a reporter and start being a Republican mouth piece? It seems traitorous to journalism. Even worse, he appears to be an apologist for the administration."

Pamela at the Democratic Daily has more:

"This all comes out now, more than a year after disclosures of this sort might have swayed voters' opinions in the ‘04 presidential election. How convenient is that?"

Others commenting on the Woodward bombshell include The Carpetbagger, Mahablog, and BooMan.

Woodward and Bernstein were icons of journalistic integrity, modern-day Thomas Paines who saw corruption and followed the links to the nation's first constitutional crisis. They were idols of mine as soon as I saw All the President's Men. I was 18 years old when I first saw Redford, Hoffman, Robards, Holbrook, et. al. reprise the real-life journalists -- and "DeepThroat", whom we finally learned (from Woodward, who hid the secret for thirty years) was a CIA man named Mark Felt. The lesson I learned was that no man, not even the President of the United States, is above the law.

Richard Nixon was brought down by two dogged reporters (and the editors that backed them) who were unafraid of pressure and threats. At least, that is how my eighteen-year-old brain interpreted it.

And now Woodward's image lies in tatters. At his own hand. You might as well have told me that Babe Ruth used steroids.

The man who brought down Nixon turns out to be nothing more than a shill for Bush.

And a liar.

The President has four Mommies

OK, this is just weird.

The Washington Moonie Times' Insight magazine, courtesy of Americablog:

President Bush feels betrayed by several of his most senior aides and advisors and has severely restricted access to the Oval Office, administration sources say. The president’s reclusiveness in the face of relentless public scrutiny of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and White House leaks regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame has become so extreme that Mr. Bush has also reduced contact with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, administration sources said on the condition of anonymity.

And then Drudge follows up with this:

The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions.

Who says the United States has never had a woman President? Hell, we have four of them right now.

But don't tell the other kids at school; they might tease little Georgie. That could be very traumatic for him, and later in life he might start to drink, take drugs, lie, deceive and evade his responsibilities.

Georgie, I want you to know that it is perfectly fine to have two four mommies. We are not prejudiced. Diversity is beautiful. It's like a game! No daddies allowed in your clubhouse!

Plamegate, Watergate, fossil fuel, and Dick Cheney

There were a couple of items that broke late yesterday that seem to be more bad news for the Cheney administration regarding le affaire Plame. First, from the front page of this morning's WaPo:

Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward testified under oath Monday in the CIA leak case that a senior administration official told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was disclosed.

So you really ought to go and read the whole piece, because there are several things revealed that portend to be big trouble for a lot of people. More:

Woodward did not share the information with Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. until last month, and the only Post reporter whom Woodward said he remembers telling in the summer of 2003 does not recall the conversation taking place.

"The only Post reporter" is Walter Pincus, who among the members of the MSM has done the yeoman's labor unwinding this tangle. Still more:

Woodward's testimony appears to change key elements in the chronology Fitzgerald laid out in his investigation and announced when indicting Libby three weeks ago. It would make the unnamed official -- not Libby -- the first government employee to disclose Plame's CIA employment to a reporter. It would also make Woodward, who has been publicly critical of the investigation, the first reporter known to have learned about Plame from a government source.

The testimony, however, does not appear to shed new light on whether Libby is guilty of lying and obstructing justice in the nearly two-year-old probe or provide new insight into the role of senior Bush adviser Karl Rove, who remains under investigation.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Rove, said that Rove is not the unnamed official who told Woodward about Plame and that he did not discuss Plame with Woodward.

Got all that?

"A senior administration official" -- not Libby, not Rove -- told Woodward about Valerie Wilson first. Beforethe leak trickled to Novak, Judy Miller, Tim Russert, or any of the other reporters. Woodward didn't think it was important enough to mention this to his boss until a month ago -- coincidentally about the time Patrick Fitzgerald indicted Scooter Libby -- but Woodward claims he did mention it to the WaPo writer leading the CIA leak investigation, who claims he doesn't remember that happening.

Bob Woodward is on the record as having called the special prosecutor's investigation into the leaking of a CIA agent's name "laughable" and the consequences of that leak "quite minimal".

Editor and Publisher has more.

There is certainly a few best-selling books' worth of irony here, with Bob Woodward being eyebrows-deep in the government's deception as opposed to his '70's role as intrepid reporter, but for now I'd rather speculate on the unnamed official who leaked to him.

It's "Big Time" Dick Cheney, I'm guessing.

Speaking of Vice President Marquis de Sade, his oil task force is also Page A-1 in the Post today:

A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.

The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.

So you're telling me that the oil company CEOs lied about this? Imagine that. Lying to Congress is still a crime, though since they weren't sworn, the crime isn't perjury.

Where's the Vice President going to be for the next few days?

Yesterday he got jeered at a ceremony in Tennessee honoring Howard Baker, who had a small role in Watergate if I recall correctly. Something related to a question regarding 'what did the President know and when did he know it' kinda thing. I hear he's planning on being in Houston next month ...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

W: "YOU screwed up, you trusted us"

That's the abridged version of what Fred Kaplan is saying. It's worth repeating his words, though:

President George W. Bush has suddenly shifted rhetoric on the war in Iraq. Until recently, the administration's line was basically, "Everything we are saying and doing is right." It was a line that held him in good stead, especially with his base, which admired his constancy above all else. Now, though, as his policies are failing and even his base has begun to abandon him, a new line is being trotted out: "Yes, we were wrong about some things, but everybody else was wrong, too, so get over it." ...

Let's go to the transcript:

Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

This is not true. Two bipartisan panels have examined the question of how the intelligence on Iraq's WMDs turned out so wrong. Both deliberately skirted the issue of why. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence deferred the second part of its probe—dealing with whether officials oversimplified or distorted the conclusions reached by the various intelligence agencies — until after the 2004 election, and its Republican chairman has done little to revive the issue since. Judge Laurence Silberman, who chaired a presidential commission on WMDs, said, when he released the 601-page report last March, "Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us agreed that that was not part of our inquiry." ...

That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and Senate—who had access to the same intelligence—voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.

This is the crucial point: these Democrats did not have "access to the same intelligence." The White House did send Congress a classified National Intelligence Estimate, at nearly 100 pages long, as well as a much shorter executive summary. It could have been (and no doubt was) predicted that very few lawmakers would take the time to read the whole document. The executive summary painted the findings in overly stark terms. And even the NIE did not cite the many dissenting views within the intelligence community. The most thorough legislators, for instance, were not aware until much later of the Energy Department's doubts that Iraq's aluminum tubes were designed for atomic centrifuges—or of the dissent about "mobile biological weapons labs" from the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. ...

What we didn't know—and what the Democrats in Congress didn't know either—was that many insiders did have reasons to conclude otherwise. There is also now much reason to believe that top officials—especially Vice President Dick Cheney and the undersecretaries surrounding Donald Rumsfeld in the Pentagon—worked hard to keep those conclusions trapped inside.

Everything this administration does has the stench of deception around it.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Gammage for Governor?

A couple of sites are reporting that Bob Gammage, a Democrat with a long resume' in state party politics -- mostly recently as a Texas Supreme Court Justice -- is considering a run for Governor.

The links above have all the earmarks of a viral marketing campaign , complete with an e-mail posted here (scroll down to the comments) from Gammage soliciting "your honest, unvarnished and critical opinions" about his prospects.

I am fully supporting the candidacy of Chris Bell, but if Gammage intends to make it a contested primary in March, I think that would be a good thing for the Democratic Party.

Judith Miller To Take Job Actually Carrying Libby's Bags

(The header above and the article below from Tom Burka's Opinions You Should Have:)

Will Continue Work She Started As Reporter At NY Times

Reporter Judith Miller announced today that she will resign from the staff of the New York Times to take a job with White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Miller testified recently before a federal grand jury concerning conversations she had with Libby about CIA agent Valerie Plame.

"Working directly under Scooter seemed like a natural move," said Miller. Miller may also assist Libby with some deep cleaning of intransigent stains in his apartment. "Yes," Miller confirmed, "I will continue to do his dirty work."

Miller has come under fire lately for a 'chummy' relationship with Libby that some say clouded her reporting on Iraq's alleged WMD. Miller wrote five crucial articles advancing the Cheney administration's claims that Iraq possessed WMD, although she later admitted that those articles were "kind of wrong."

"Oops," she said, smiling and shrugging her shoulders.

Responding to critics who alleged that it was, at the very least, poor journalism to uncritically report as fact unsupported theories advanced by President Cheney and Scooter Libby, Miller said, "I can only be as ethical as my sources."

Miller recently spent 85 days in jail to protect the identity of a source whose name she cannot recall.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

John Crony-n gets choreographed

by Ralph Reed. I knew he was gay ...

Former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed claimed in a 2001 e-mail to a lobbyist that he choreographed John Cornyn's efforts as Texas attorney general to shut down an East Texas Indian tribe's casino.

The lobbyist was Jack Abramoff, who is under federal investigation along with his partner Michael Scanlon, on allegations of defrauding six Indian tribes of about $80 million between 2001 and 2004. The e-mail, along with about a dozen others, were released last week as part of the investigation. In 2001, Abramoff was working as a lobbyist for the Louisiana Coushatta tribe to prevent rival gaming casinos from siphoning off its Texas customers. He paid Reed as a consultant, and Reed lobbied to get the Alabama-Coushatta and Tigua casinos closed in Texas.

In the Nov. 30, 2001, e-mail, Reed told Abramoff that 50 pastors led by Ed Young, of Second Baptist Church in Houston, would meet with Cornyn to urge him to shut down the Alabama-Coushatta tribe's casino near Livingston, Texas. He said Young would back up the request in writing.

"We have also choreographed Cornyn's response. The AG will state that the law is clear, talk about how much he wants to avoid repetition of El Paso and pledge to take swift action to enforce the law," Reed wrote. "He will also personally hand Ed Young a letter that commits him to take action in Livingston."

Cornyn, now a Republican U.S. senator, had filed a lawsuit in 1999 to shut down a casino operated by the Tigua tribe in El Paso, saying it violated the state's limited gambling laws. In 2002, federal courts shuttered the Tiguas' casino and Cornyn used that ruling to shut down the Alabama-Coushattas' casino.

The entire article, including the transcripts of the e-mail exchanged between Reed and Abramoff about Cornyn, can be found here.

Here's a question for my local paper, the Houston Chronicle: do you plan on investigating this and/or covering it yourselves or are you just going to rely on the wire reports?

(So far, the Austin American Statesman has an identical wire story. Houston Chronicle, nada. Dallas Morning News, zip. Thanks to Sean Paul at The Agonist for the tip.)

Update (11/14): Charles Kuffner has been all over this from the beginning, which was over a year ago.

Friday, November 11, 2005

In honor of her father, on Veterans' Day

My friend Lisa wrote this, and I post it here in its entirety:

I have been thinking about my father a lot lately. It seems like every time we pass another milestone in the Iraq War death count, I think about my dad. No, he didn’t die in a war, but I still believe that war killed him … slowly.

It really saddens me to hear about every new life lost, but for each one of them, how many others’ lives have been irrevocably changed? I was too young to know who my father really was before Viet Nam, but I still realize how it changed him. I was 17 when that realization sunk in.

I was in an advanced history class in high school, which encouraged unusual class projects and different perspectives as opposed to memorization of names and dates. When we reached the Viet Nam era, I had the idea to do an interview with my father about his experiences and how they affected him. He agreed. I had two weeks to write the report. Somehow the weeks passed with him managing to put me off several times.

Finally, the day before it was due, he sat down with me. I asked him to tell me about what it was like. He stared across the room and did not speak. His eyes welled up a bit. He shook his head gently and said, “I’m sorry. I can’t.” He stood and left the room.

Initially, as a rather normal selfish teenager, I wondered, “How the heck am I gonna do this report?!” But then I realized the importance of those two short sentences. It had been almost 17 years, and all he could say was “I’m sorry. I can’t.” That spoke volumes about the horror he had been through. I ended up doing a report on PTSD in Viet Nam veterans and made an A.

In addition to the weight of the terrifying memories, my father also suffered from numerous health problems. Some he believed were related to chemical exposure, most were from alcohol abuse and smoking, both habits he picked up during the war. He would eventually die from cancer, with few treatment options due to damage to his heart and liver.

I often feel like I was cheated. We had a tumultuous family life. Beer was the wall between him and us. At times I thought he hated me because it made him so moody. I was cheated out of having a closer relationship with him, and I was cheated in years as he died in only his 50s. I believe it was war that cheated me and him. I believe that the horrors he experienced changed him forever, and he was unable to cope with it in any other way than by staying numb.

The scene from Fahrenheit 911 that moved me the most was of a young, fresh-faced kid with a hollowness in his eyes talking about his experience. He said, “Every time you kill someone, you can't do it without killing a piece of yourself.” I wondered how many pieces of himself had died already.

I was raised to be patriotic. I even won a scholarship for an essay on patriotism. I love my country, warts and all. I respect people like my father who devote their life’s work to serving their country. I respect them regardless of what mission they are sent on. More than respect, I stand in awe of their commitment. But I respect and love them so much that I can’t bear the thought of them risking death, injury, and emotional trauma for a cause that is not just. They are precious, a resource not to be wasted. It is an INSULT to their honor to use them in an immoral war based on lies and manipulation.

MY troops deserve more respect than that!

My father deserves more respect than that!

Every soldier who has ever served his/her country deserves the knowledge that they and all who come after them will be serving NOBLE causes. It is our duty to ensure that for them.

That is why I march. Justice, to me, is to hold this administration accountable for disrespecting our armed services by committing them to a cause that is beneath them.

I want justice in honor of my father, who gave his life for his country. It just took a long time to happen. I want justice for the men and women we have lost in this war. I want justice for the ones who will come back and never fully recover. I think this justice is also a way of paying respect to the veterans who have served us over the ages. It says “The country you protected strives to live up to your honor.”

Thank you, Dad. I know I didn’t say it enough while you were alive. And thank you to all of you who have committed to protecting me.

"Everything was all right so long as the children didn't look over the roof at the bodies floating past."

From behind the paywall at Texas Monthly, the account of two New Orleanians, as told to John Spong in the Astrodome:

TEN ROWS OF COTS and two thousand or so people away, a couple in their fifties, Benjamin and Ermica Wilson, sat next to each other on a cot with a Bible. He was a big man, wearing a black T-shirt and a black New York Mets cap. She was much smaller, in bright purple sweatpants and a white T-shirt covered in little purple flowers.

Benjamin said they’d gone to their Ninth Ward church, St. Mary of the Angels, to weather Katrina. When the water rose too high in St. Mary’s, they’d climbed to the roof with their own family of 18, from Benjamin’s mother on down to his young nieces and nephews, plus about 75 other people. They were up there for two nights.

“We had a grill up there,” said Benjamin, “and I put a life jacket on and swam to my mother’s house to get meat from the freezer. We had pork chops, ribs, smoked sausage. My mother made a pot of gumbo for everybody, and my wife made a pot of chili. It seemed like we were stretching those five loaves and two fishes. Everything was all right so long as the children didn’t look over the roof at the bodies floating past.

“The worst part was at night. It was pitch-black. No street lights or lights in the buildings because there was no electricity. It was dead silent except the sound of people trapped in their attics screaming as the water rose..."

Update (11/12): People Get Ready has some photos of St Bernard's Parish.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

"We do not torture."

Then I suppose it depends on what your definition of the word 'torture' is.

Or 'we'.

Or 'not'.

Prop 2 post-analysis

I've been ruminating on the declaration of bigotry overwhelmingly displayed on Tuesday by my fellow Texans, and while thinking of something to say that had the right amount of bitterness, as well as a root cause for the landslide of ignorance demonstrated at the polls, found two articles which contained both.

sui generis expresses the frustrations of us 26 percenters quite clearly, and from the first-person POV (my edits appear in red, blue, and bold):

I couldn't help but notice that your newspapers actually called it a "Texas Upholds Gay Marriage Ban", instead of "Upholds Straight Marriage Defense", but we knew that's what you meant all along.

To the 535,000 people who voted in Texas to recognize same sex marriages, many of which already exist but not yet legally: thank you, from the bottom of our hearts for being remarkable, principled, fair minded and decent humans. You did the right thing, and it means more than is possible to put into words. You recognized that my love for my family is as fierce and as powerful and as consuming as your love is for your family, and you did the right and decent and moral thing, as you would have done for your own family. Thank you, thank you.

The rest of you three out of four Texans, you can go f*** yourselves, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart, for being the (lots of expletives deleted) shitbag throwback worthless waste of piss poor protoplasm that you are. I wouldn't give you my piss to drink if you were dying in the desert today...

The next time you ask for money for breast cancer at the supermarket, I want to know which way you voted. The next time a fireman stops me in traffic with a boot collecting for charity, I want to know which way you voted. The next time your kids come to my home by the busload for Halloween or Scouts or school trips, I want to know which way you voted; the next time you call me to get a cat out of your tree, pick your ancient husband up off the bathroom floor, or to rake your leaves or help find your kid's dog, because I know that three out of four of you voted to make and keep my family illegal. You will be held accountable.

Three out of four of you voted to make my family's life as difficult and as fragile as possible. Three out of four of you voted that my evil little nephews have a greater claim on my estate than my life partner of 9 years, or my adopted children as long as I live in the state of Texas. Three out of four of you voted to keep my life illegal and invalid. Three out of four of you assaulted my family, stepped out of your busy little evil lives and into mine to tell me, with the weight of the law, what is right for me, by taking away my rights. Three out of four of you had better watch your back now, you will be held accountable.

I want vengeance. I want to hurt your families the way you've hurt mine; legally, financially, socially. I want to figuratively slam you up against the wall and ask you why you think that the green-eyed marriage ban is moral, or why you think that the asian-american marriage ban or the red-headed marriage ban is moral or why you petty little judgemental sons of bitches think that the gay marriage ban is moral. I want to know why you think that discriminating against my family is a family value.

I want to know why you think my family means less to me than your family means to you, why you think I should feel any less angry or devastated than you would if your family was assaulted by three out of four people that you know. I am hurting today and deeply, profoundly, even dangerously angry today, and there isn't a lot that I can do for the pain and the rage I feel except to vent it here.

We knew it was coming, like knowing that getting pushed down the stairs means you probably will break an arm doesn't make it hurt any less when you break it. How can we support what is right and decent in society when society won't be right and decent to us?

We're not waiting for your permission to live our lives. We are already married for all intents and purposes. We already have families, we just have to work A LOT harder to keep bigots from hurting us, from interfering with our families in the name of "morality" and "family values". But a clear warning here: if you get in the way of me and mine at the hospital, you will require the services of a hospital, and I mean that literally, not figuratively. If you decide that my children no longer belong to me or that I can't live with the person I love for the rest of my life, I can't say in public the lengths I would go to to disabuse you of that notion, but I will invoke Darwin ...

Just for the record here, I'm comfortably hetero, in addition to being happily married. But there are gay members of my immediate family who have fought for years for the rights Prop 2 now denies them by constitutional fiat, and I profoundly feel the impact of what this means for them.

That it was a prominent number of minority voters in Democratic precincts -- who attend church regularly -- who voted to deny those rights is particularly galling:

Blacks and Hispanics who traditionally vote Democratic strongly backed the state's gay marriage ban at the ballot box this week, sometimes outpolling Republicans, analysts said Wednesday.

That broad interest across political lines contributed to the highest participation in a constitutional amendment election since 1991, with roughly 18 percent of registered voters turning out for Tuesday's election.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry rallied his evangelical, socially conservative base on the issue, but political analysts said Proposition 2's success doesn't necessarily predict future success for individual politicians.

"I don't see how it can be useful for a party or a candidate because this so transcends all the political parties and the typical categorizations," said Kelly Shackelford, president of the conservative Free Market Foundation, which backed the amendment.

"We didn't even call Republican homes. *cough*bullshit*cough* We called Hispanics, African-Americans and rural Texas voters. That's where the numbers were," he said.

Others agreed, noting that religion and family values resonate in traditionally Democratic precincts with large minority populations.

On the single issue of defining marriage as between a man and a woman, minorities often voted as favorably and sometimes more favorably than higher-income Republican precincts, said political scientist Tim O'Neill at Southwestern University in Georgetown.

There's about a dozen more nuggets of wisdom in that Chron article, so go read it all. Last paragraphs:

(Rice University political scientist Bob) Stein said the Proposition 2 election probably did little to change the dynamic of the GOP primary for Perry because he already had the support of solid social conservatives.

"What Perry did with the evangelicals was an organizational effort," Stein said. "Liberals tend to view those people as rabid dogs. They're not. They're sophisticated. They're organized. Church is just another organization."

Remember this for the near future: Prop 2 was just a dress rehearsal for the GOP GOTV effort in advance of the primaries in March and the general election in November. Bear in mind the words of former DeLay press secretary and Abramoff cohort Michael Scanlon:

"The wackos get their information through the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the internet and telephone trees," Scanlon wrote in the memo, which was read into the public record at a hearing of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. "Simply put, we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them."

Boy, we still have a lot of work to do.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A good start toward taking our country back

** Kaine wins in Virginia, Corzine in New Jersey. Handily. In fact, we should've paid Dubya's traveling expenses to stand beside other Republicans. (Oh wait, we did.)

** A gay marriage amendment actually failed (in Maine).

** Californians don't like their governor (again).

** Locally, the man who may be the strongest Democrat in the South won re-election with over 90% of the vote. There's rumors -- and not just on the internets -- that he'll run for something statewide next. I personally hope it's against Senator Torture in 2008.

** ... and ...

Texas Bloggers have banded together to ask our readers to nominate a Texan for our very own blogger version of the mainstream media's favorite attention grabber, the "Person of the Year"! Join us by nominating a Texan that has made the most impact this year, be it good or bad, evil or embarassing. We're accepting nominations from you through November 23 and we'll post your Texan of the Year by December 1st. Email your nominations to:

All of your favorite Texas political blogs -- left, right, and center -- are participating. Each of us will write our own post about the winner, so on December 1st you'll have lots of different opinions but they'll all come from the same source, you ... the smartest people in Texas.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Prop 2 garners Supreme endorsement

God has announced His support of Proposition 2.

At least according to Charlie Howard, the Texas House representative from Sugar Land:

"What we're doing, we are saying, here is a law we are going to follow. It happens to be God's law".

You may see it for thine own eyes by clicking here (link will carry you to and their embedded Windows Media Player will begin).

Let me simply say that the separation of church and state is a good thing for both religion and government. And you can support the separation of church and state by voting AGAINST Prop. 2.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Cheney polls two points below adultery

Bob Harris via This Modern World:

As you’ve no doubt heard, Bush’s approval rating has fallen to 35. Maybe America is starting to realize that secret prisons and endless war aren’t really the best government we can possibly hope for.

Dick Cheney, in the same poll, has a 19 percent approval rating.

How low is 19 percent?

According to previous surveys (scroll down in the link), that’s two points less popular than cheating on your spouse and seven points behind corporal punishment in schools.

Dick Cheney is now comfortably nestled deep in what can be politely called lunatic territory. As I’ve been pointing out for years, twenty or thirty percent of Americans believe any insane thing you can imagine.

Dick Cheney is now 18 points behind the number of people who believe alien beings have secretly contacted the U.S. government.

Friday, November 04, 2005

"Do you suppose we could get Bush a BJ..."

Overheard at today's Houston progressive blog luncheon:

"Do you suppose we could get Bush a blowjob so that he can be impeached?"

Considering that a majority of Americans polled now believe he should be, maybe soliciting an oral favor won't be necessary.

Pictured: Rick Perry and Greg Abbott (can't tell which is which)

...and their GOTV volunteers, who will be appearing in Austin tomorrow.

From the man who will defeat Greg Abbott next November:

On November 5, the hooded bigots of the Ku Klux Klan will descend on Austin to march in support of the passage of Proposition 2. These masked shock troops of hate do Texans a favor in exposing the real meaning and significance of the proposed amendment in all its shining glory. There could be no greater barometer of what is really at stake in the vote on Proposition 2. The Klan does not show up anywhere unless it is to support bigotry and hate. Never before has the Klan shown up to support passage of a proposed amendment to the Bill of Rights of the Texas Constitution, because never before has there been such an organized attempt to enshrine the Klan’s brand of hate in the noble charter of liberty and democracy of the people of Texas.

The Bill of Rights of our Texas Constitution of 1876 is one of the greatest charters of individual human rights on the face of the earth. Every Texan who loves our state should be personally offended at this disgusting effort to use it as a forum for the propagation of hate. I know that I am.

Every Texan should also be appalled that the lawyer who has the greatest responsibility to defend the Constitutional rights of the people of Texas, the state Attorney General, instead allies himself with the prophets of hate, as Attorney General Greg Abbott does in his public letter of October 27, 2005, in support of Proposition 2. I know that I am, and I know that Texans are entitled to a lawyer for the people who understands that every Texas citizen should have equal legal respect as a 100% equal part owner of our Constitutional democracy.

The world will be watching Texas in the vote on Proposition 2. Fellow Texans, let’s show the world what we’re made of. Take a stand against hate. Take a stand against the Ku Klux Klan. Take a stand against politicians who ally themselves with the Klan. Take a stand for liberty and democracy. Show the power of Texans’ support of our Constitution. Show the power of your vote. Vote down Proposition 2.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A squabble over Prop 2 among Republicans

An amazing exchange between the Executive Director of the Republican Party of Texas and one of their precinct chairs in Harris County (my edits to protect privacy appear in red). There was a message ahead of Ms. Sykes' response, which follows:

Mr. (name redacted),

We have no association with, nor control over, the KKK. I think the fact that we have been working partners with such as Pastor Blackwell, Pastor McKissic and the Cornerstone Baptist Church shows that in itself. To equate the KKK’s idea of white supremacy with the RPT standing for traditional marriage is ludicrous. Thank you for your comment and for representing to me the Harris County GOP Precinct (redacted).

Jennifer Sykes
Assistant to the Chairman & Executive Director
Republican Party of Texas

And to that, this:

Dear Ms. Sykes:

Thank you for your response to my message of October 31, 2005, although I am a bit surprised to receive such a stern rebuke. I neither stated nor implied that the Republican Party of Texas has any "association with, or control over," the Ku Klux Klan. I did not "equate the KKK's idea of white supremacy" to the RPT's position on Proposition No. 2. You falsely accuse me of both of these things merely to characterize me as "ludicrous"—not a very respectful attitude toward a fellow member of the GOP.

Over 1100 rights flow automatically from the legal state of marriage. Not long ago, we watched Britney Spears walk down an aisle in Las Vegas with an Elvis impersonator officiating and obtain all 1100 of these legal rights for a marriage she later termed "a joke"--a marriage that lasted only 55 hours. If "traditional marriage" is in jeopardy in this country, it seems to me that the good Republicans of Texas should perhaps look in their own back yards before setting out to blame the decline of traditional marriage on homosexuals.

Many Republicans feel that gay Texans pay their taxes and should be entitled to the same legal rights as everyone else.
Many Republicans feel that passing laws to deprive one group of citizens of constitutional rights to which they would otherwise be entitled harks back to the days of segregated waiting rooms, all-male juries, laws against interracial marriages, and "whites-only" drinking fountains—all ideas which were vigorously supported by the KKK, but now lie "in the ash heap of history," to borrow Ronald Reagan's colorful phrase. Many Republicans feel that this is not the direction Texas should be heading in the 21st century. Most of all, many Republicans are offended by the presumptuousness of GOP leaders in taking for granted that all Republicans are in agreement on this issue.

While your desire to distance the GOP from the KKK is understandable, the KKK's alignment with the GOP on this issue is
not coincidental. Flies are drawn to garbage wherever it may be found. Proposition No. 2 was motivated by an animus toward gay people and the bald arrogance of declaring that heterosexuals shall be forever superior to homosexuals through policies of law.

Declaring groups of people to be unworthy of the same rights as others is something the KKK knows a lot about. The GOP's pretensions of self-righteousness and its harrumphing about how different the GOP is from the KKK have a very hollow ring in the context of Proposition No. 2.

(name withheld)
GOP Chairman, Harris County Precinct (redacted)
(address withheld)