Friday, September 29, 2006

Winning the House just got easier
Maybe Democrats could regain control simply by waiting on Republicans to continue getting either thrown in jail or resigning in disgrace.

And, you know I'm not expert...but I'm pretty sure that when a Congressman has to resign for exploiting the children that intern for him, and that Congressman is the chair of the Missing and Exploited Children Caucus, it counts as ironic. And if that doesn't, maybe this does:
Federal authorities say such messages could result in Foley's prosecution, under some of the same laws he helped to enact.
Thanks for nothing, Arlen Specter
Glenn Greenwald
During the debate on his amendment, Arlen Specter said that the bill sends us back 900 years because it denies habeas corpus rights and allows the President to detain people indefinitely. He also said the bill violates core Constitutional protections. Then he voted for it.
Friday Fun
The George Allen Insult Generator

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Torture/Imprisonment Debate [UPDATED]
Atrios is posting the statements of many Democrats on the torture bill. Some of them are quite lengthy, but they are worth reading if you have the time--you should know what our Senators are saying about this important issue.
Chris Dodd
Russ Feingold
Barack Obama (video)
John Kerry
Hillary Clinton
John Edwards

[UPDATE: The amendment to strike the anti-habeas corpus provision of the bill failed...51-48. Thanks for nothing, McCain, Graham and Warner. All Democrats except Ben Nelson (Nebraska) stood up against Bush's determination to hold the accused indefinitely and without charging them with a crime.]
Obama Update
His statement on the torture bill is here. I haven't had a chance to watch it yet, so I have no idea what he says.
Freedom...ho hum
How's this for depressing?
Every organized society, from the most libertarian to the totally repressive, shares one goal: raising its children to believe in its institutions and ideology. If our values matter, they need to be passed on.
Two political scientists at the University of Connecticut surveyed high school students in 2004 and '06 and made an alarming discovery: Regard for the First Amendment to the Constitution declined between the surveys.
Four out of five high school students felt they knew enough to give opinions on this 215-year-old list of rights. And among them, 55% thought the First Amendment goes too far in granting rights.

That's a turnaround from two years ago, when 57% expressed support for the First Amendment and its enumerated rights.
The decline in support for the First Amendment as a whole came despite an apparent increase in the number of students taking high school classes that cover First Amendment issues: 72% in 2006 vs. 58% two years ago. Dautrich acknowledges that some of that could be testing effect. All 34 of the high schools in the second survey had participated in the first, and that might have motivated them to teach the First Amendment before Round 2.
We like to pick on kids in these surveys (like the suveys that show fewer and fewer of them able to pick out Spain on a world map), but is there any doubt that adults would answer the questions the same way, showing a similar growing disregard for First Amendment freedoms?

And do we have any doubt that this phenomenon also is related to the rise of authoritarian attitudes (which a new study also showed has developed a new alliance with the Republican Party). What is this all about? Ignorance? The fear of terrorism? An inability to perceive threats to one's own freedoms?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Serious and Severe
Matthew Yglesias
Thanks to the recent "compromise" between the hard-core torturers in the Bush administration and "moderate" Republican torture opponents, we continue to live in a country that does not officially endorse the infliction of "severe pain." That would be torture, you see. "Serious pain," however, is fine. That's merely cruel and degrading treatment. (The president used to be against that, too, but, well, things change.)
As the congressional Republicans march in lockstep behind the White House's torture agenda, they don't even know the composition of that agenda. The Boston Globe reported Saturday that 90 percent of members of Congress don't know "which interrogation techniques have been used in the past, and none of them know which ones would be permissible under proposed changes to the War Crimes Act." Which is to say: In practice, absolutely everything would be permitted, since the only people capable of overseeing the interrogation program haven't done it, won't do it and have no intention of doing it in the future.
Obama Watch
We've had a lively debate (here and here) over at Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death about Obama, where I continued an argument I started here a few posts ago. Since we're at election time, and not just any election cycle but one in which the minority voice Democrats are trying to take over the Congress and save us from the ongoing GOP dereliction that is enabling the President to ruin the country, I was saying that it is not the best time for Senator Obama to be offering his blanket condemnation of the Party, especially since right now he is one of the Party's leading voices. He should be demonstrating our values and exercising some leadership, instead of decrying Democrats' lack of same. I simply don't understand why any general criticism of unnamed Democrats should be entertained right now.

Republicans are tearing apart the country and quite frankly devastating the entire world. Vote Democrat. To me, that's the only story right now.

But, if you're going to get on your high horse and have a good time winning selfish applause while you smack down your own Party for not being good on values, you'd better get it right when important issues are staring you in the face and demanding that a line be drawn.

So, with that in mind, read this , this, this and this, and know that Obama is facing an important test that will go along way in determining whether his intra-party lecturing will be taken seriously; whether he will become a true leading voice of the Party, or take the easy road of critic. Yeah, yeah, I'm down on him right now, but only because I'm a fan with high expectations. I hope, and expect, that he will pass this test with flying colors and that I can go back to drooling over his skills and his promise, like I did before.

Also, Kos has something relevant (and important) to say here.
The House
At MyDD, poll collector Chris Bowers shows that there are enough Dems in the lead right now to take over the House, if current numbers hold up.
Overall, Democrats lead in twenty congressional districts. One district is tied, and Democrats are within striking distance in at least thirteen more. I did not even include polls here form KS-02 and ID-01, both of which show Democrats winning, because I am highly suspicious of both polls. TX-22, a sure Democratic pickup, was also not included because no polls have been released for the district. There are also several more Republican held seats not shown here that have shown strong signs of competitiveness
We need to gain 15 to take control.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

David Plotz, at Blogging the Bible, has read the book of Jericho. His new post is up.
The song goes:

Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho
Joshua fought the battle of Jericho
And the walls came tumblin' down.

But they didn't fight a battle of Jericho. Here is my biblical ignorance in full flower. I always thought that there was a pitched battle for Jericho. But no. Joshua has the Israelites circle the city once a day for six days. On the seventh day, they circle the city seven times, with seven priests blowing seven rams' horns. (Question: If they were circling the city for seven days straight, how did they observe the Sabbath? Also, it's nice to see seven finally replace 40 as the holy number.) At the end of the final circuit (the 13th total, actually, not the seventh), Jericho's walls collapse in a heap.
The MS stands for Mostly Stupid
MSNBC knows how to properly cover the substance of the Clinton interview:
The former president showing off a little leg during the sitdown with Chris Wallace. We’re going to show you that, and that’s left some — see, there it is, a little glimpse of leg. Well, how does this happen? … I mean — is this a travesty or what?
If I had been doing that interview, I’ve got to say, I would just say, “Oh, Mr. president, your leg is showing,” or it’s sort of like telling someone they have spinach in their teeth. Come on, it’s not cool to let someone go around with spinach in their teeth, same thing with leg.
Another "Yop"

Last night when I saw Keith Olbermann's commentary on the Clinton interview with Chris Wallace, I woohoo'd so loudly that I scared both cats. Don't just hear about it, watch it or at least read it.

Olbermann talked about the interview and how it's been portrayed, but he more importantly talked about the substance -- imagine -- of what was said and how right Clinton is.

Keith, I would have your baby.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Watch this. Maybe Allen is toast after all. The NYTimes is on the story now also. We're going to find out what Virginia is made of.
What have you been listening to, reading, watching?

The Marmaduke Project

Article 19 Film Recommendation: Feast
Over the weekend, Lewberry and I caught the movie that finally killed Project Greenlight (sadly). My recipe for this indie horror flick: 2 parts gory fun, 1/2 part interesting, deliberate camera angles and editing techniques, 6 parts really stupid dialogue.

There are lots of new TV shows out there, and lots getting decent press that I've never seen. I'll admit I'm not really into TV lately unless it's South Park or the Daily Show/Colbert, Keith Olbermann (sometimes) or C-Span. So, am I missing anything good?

I know I'm supposed to be watching The Wire (HBO) but I've never seen it, so I'm out of that loop. I don't mind Weeds so much, but have some catching up to do there. What am I missing? Is there a regular show you watch?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Haunted by the past? Or no big deal...?
If America is a sensible place, and one truly committed to the principles we claim, this revelation would really be the end of the Senate race in Virginia, indeed the end of George Allen's political career.
Three former college football teammates of Sen. George Allen say that the Virginia Republican repeatedly used an inflammatory racial epithet and demonstrated racist attitudes toward blacks during the early 1970s.

"Allen said he came to Virginia because he wanted to play football in a place where 'blacks knew their place,'" said Dr. Ken Shelton, a white radiologist in North Carolina who played tight end for the University of Virginia football team when Allen was quarterback. "He used the N-word on a regular basis back then."

A second white teammate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared retribution from the Allen campaign, separately claimed that Allen used the word "nigger" to describe blacks. "It was so common with George when he was among his white friends. This is the terminology he used," the teammate said.
Hopefully, if nothing else, the Senator will have to spend the next week anwering questions about this. But really, the last 2 years should have had no political conversation besides the fact that the majority Party in DC is running the country like the dangerous, incompetent assholes that they are. This is merely a story that backs up the asshole angle.
Clinton Takes on Fox News
Some video here. Transcript here.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Watching from the Sidelines
Yeah, it was fun watching the squabble within the GOP over the torture issue. And where there is in-fighting like that it can make sense to stay out of it...I admit I was inclined to just eat the popcorn myself. But this compromise may turn out to be a disaster for both the country and the Democratic Party. Charles Pierce says it this way (via Kevin Drum), though I'm not sure I agree--comment after:
THE SILENT PARTY. You worthless passel of cowards. They're laughing at you. You know that, right?

The national Democratic Party is no longer worth the cement needed to sink it to the bottom of the sea. For an entire week, it allowed a debate on changing the soul of the country to be conducted intramurally between the Torture Porn and Useful Idiot wings of the Republican Party
And the Democratic Party was nowhere in this debate. It contributed nothing. On the question of whether or not the United States will reconfigure itself as a nation which tortures its purported enemies and then grants itself absolution through adjectives -- "Aggressive interrogation techniques" -- the Democratic Party had…no opinion. On the issue of allowing a demonstrably incompetent president as many of the de facto powers of a despot that you could wedge into a bill without having the Constitution spontaneously combust in the Archives, well, the Democratic Party was more pissed off at Hugo Chavez.
That's an easy thing to agree with, but really what were the Democrats supposed to do? This is what happens when one party holds all the cards. Republicans can argue over these things, come to an agreement, and pass the result while completely ignoring the Democrats. It's not as if John McCain, John Warner and Lindsay Graham would have conducted their press conferences side-by-side with the Democrats. This is what happens when you're an across-the-board minority party. Sometimes (when it's in the majority party's interest), you're out of the loop.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Spreading American Values Around the World
That's really working well, isn't it?
The number of civilians slain in Iraq reached an unprecedented level in July and August, which saw 6,599 violent deaths, the United Nations said Wednesday.
"These figures reflect the fact that indiscriminate killings of civilians have continued throughout the country while hundreds of bodies appear bearing signs of severe torture and execution style killing," the report said. "Such murders are carried out by death squads or by armed groups, with sectarian or revenge connotations."
On other issues, the report painted a similarly grim picture. It said about 300,000 people had been displaced in Iraq since the bombing of a shrine in Samarra in February, and reported a rise in honor killings against women.
"Honor killings" against women...God help us all.

And, hey, Associated Press, if we have to use that offensive phrase at all, how about we put it in quotation marks like I just did?! There's no honor there.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Cartoon World
Of course Jonah Goldberg likes the incendiary Hugo Chavez speech to the UN today for demonstrating his clear animosity for the US. That kind of stark difference plays right into the right-wing's kindergarten view of the world: where people are characters in a clearly drawn, black and white, good v. evil tale.

It's all just a big fun Western movie for these guys. The whole world's on fire with violent hatred and confrontation, but it sounds to me like Bush apologists kinda like it. It confirms all their most childish beliefs about the world.
Who's got it?

The good news is that recent Senate polls show Dems gaining ground--a solid lead for picking up seats in Montana, and in Ohio, and in Pennsylvania, plus surging in Tennessee and closing the gap in Virginia and even Arizona. Not to mention staying close in Rhode Island and Missouri. Winning in 6 of those 8 (and holding on to New Jersey which is turning against Menendez) will be tough, but it's not unthinkable.

The bad news is that nationally, Bush is gaining some ground (just in time) in approval polls, and Republicans are as well, showing up as tied (after being down double digits) in a generic congressional poll.

It seems to me that both of these trends can't, or at least won't, continue.

I don't think it helps that some aspiring Dems continue to talk bad about the party. That's right, Obama, I'm looking at you. You're on my shit list for this week.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Help Dean's 50-State Strategy
If I can afford to do it, you can afford it too. Take it out of this month's entertainment budget.

Thankfully, this strategy is not just about winning Congress back this year, it's also about winning all the races we can, everywhere we can, from the road commission and the school board on up... so that we have viable, known candidates with experience to step up and run for state legislature, Congress, Governor and President in the years to come.
Gore's Speech
Read it here.

Here's the bit that's made some news and that seems like the most dramatic proposal. I'm not sure that I like it. Won't this make a major portion of the budget dependent on CO2 emissions? Is that really what we want? Also, what does this plan do the possibility of a lockbox? What do you think?
For the last fourteen years, I have advocated the elimination of all payroll taxes — including those for social security and unemployment compensation — and the replacement of that revenue in the form of pollution taxes — principally on CO2. The overall level of taxation would remain exactly the same. It would be, in other words, a revenue neutral tax swap. But, instead of discouraging businesses from hiring more employees, it would discourage business from producing more pollution.

Global warming pollution, indeed all pollution, is now described by economists as an “externality.” This absurd label means, in essence: we don’t to keep track of this stuff so let’s pretend it doesn’t exist.

And sure enough, when it’s not recognized in the marketplace, it does make it much easier for government, business, and all the rest of us to pretend that it doesn’t exist. But what we’re pretending doesn’t exist is the stuff that is destroying the habitability of the planet. We put 70 million tons of it into the atmosphere every 24 hours and the amount is increasing day by day. Penalizing pollution instead of penalizing employment will work to reduce that pollution.

When we place a more accurate value on the consequences of the choices we make, our choices get better. At present, when business has to pay more taxes in order to hire more people, it is discouraged from hiring more people. If we change that and discourage them from creating more pollution they will reduce their pollution. Our market economy can help us solve this problem if we send it the right signals and tell ourselves the truth about the economic impact of pollution.
Good for them
It looks like the anti-torture strain of the Republican Party (sadly a small group) may be holding together and rejecting the White House's latest compromise. It's about time the president realized there are more branches of government than just the Executive, and the one that's responsible for making laws is in charge here. How long will he go on pressing this (hopefully) losing battle?

It's nice to see Congress actually standing up to the bully and drawing the line somewhere...who knew the line would be at torturing those we think are our enemies, holding them without charges, then trying them without letting them see the evidence.

Sheesh. Hard to believe how far we've gone in casting off our deepest values, rejecting much of our claim to moral high-ground, all pissed away for the sake of mostly hollow arrests and small military victories, killing men and women whose children immediately take up the cause of vicious hatred for America.

There are lots of ways to lose a war. Nice to see us trying our hand at all of them.

Hopefully this rejection of the President's un-American tactics will mark something of a turning point. But there's a long way back.

Monday, September 18, 2006

What have you been reading, listening to, watching?

Weekend Box Office
1. Gridiron Gang
2. The Black Dahlia
3. Everyone's Hero
4. The Covenant
5. The Last Kiss

Apparently, The Black Dahlia is no good. Neither is Last Kiss, or HollywoodLand, or the new version of All the King's Men (and, why is there a new version of All the King's men?). Come to think of it, apparently every movie is pretty bad.

The Science of Sleep
Looks very cool. From the director of Eternal Sunshine. Watch the trailer here.

New Yo La Tengo
It's got a snappy title and it's getting great reviews.

I Can't Wait
Early returns for Scorcese's The Departed are quite positive. Here's one.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I'll Believe it When I See it
Apparently this is not a joke perpetrated by the Yes Men.
President Bush is preparing an astonishing U-turn on global warming, senior Washington sources say.
Over the past few days rumours swept the capital that the "Toxic Texan" would announce his conversion this week, in an attempt to reduce the impact of a major speech tomorrow by Al Gore on solutions to climate change.

The White House denied the timing, but did not deny that a change of policy was on its way. Sources say that the most likely moment is the President's State of the Union address in January.
This is going to put everyone in a fix, if true. Pro-environmentalists will have to decide whether to still attack Bush's plans for not being good enough (and surely they won't be) even while trying to embrace his new direction. And what will Republicans do? Especially the ones who have been claiming it's all a big hoax? Will there be a significant anti-fact caucus left in DC after this about-face? And will this all make moot Al Gore's planned new book? Stay tuned.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Everyone Can Be Funny Once in a While
even Vanity Fair. Torture the Weekly Standard.
I'd like to say something about what a fabulous way this is to effectively end your political career, but mostly I'm annoyed that this really great headline is splashed all the way across the top of the front page of my newspaper. Who shows worse judgment in this case, the editor that made this the most important news of the day? or the subject of this fascinating journalism? The headline? Wait for it..... "Gallatin mayor let 'Thong Girl 3' be Filmed in his office."

Looks like everyone's equally classy here.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Former Opponent Joins Draft Obama for President Movement
Not sure what to make of this. You should scroll down and read the whole letter.

What say you, Illinoisans?
Please Oh Please...
Couldn't we get Borat himself to meet with President Bush in the White House? Maybe on pay per view? It's weird/sad enough that Borat will be discussed in the White House...I'd pay alot of money to see him there in person...

[Warning: my link is ok but if you follow the Daily Mail link after that, there's a picture of Borat in, well, in man-thong suspenders. May not be work-safe. Hell, it may not be safe for anyone anywhere anytime.]
Sweet Dreams, Annie
The amazingly smart, witty and strong former TX Gov. Ann Richards has died following a battle with cancer.

She took on the Bushes long before we all knew how much disaster they would wreak on our nation, and was one of the few redeeming qualities the state of Texas could claim.

She's been one of my heroes and will remain so. Thanks Ann, for fighting The Bad Guys, making us laugh, and showing the world that short mouthy women can kick ass.

UPDATE: "Ten Reasons We Already Miss Ann Richards", from Salon's Broadsheet

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Reason #596 to Stop Eating Processed/Fast/Restaurant Food
There's too damned much salt in it.
Sprinkled into everything from bread to cheese, soups and breakfast cereal, just about every fast-food restaurant meal and now even fresh cuts of meat, salt is ubiquitous in the American food supply. And according to government data, Americans eat far too much of it.

Now the nation’s largest doctors’ group, the American Medical Association, is going after the government and the food industry to reduce what it sees as a persistently high level of salt in many processed foods.
About three-quarters of the salt Americans consume comes from processed food, according to the Department of Agriculture. No more than 10 percent comes out of the salt shaker, and another 10 percent is contained naturally in foods.
When our food contains 10 times as much of something as nature offers, it's a sign we're eating too much of it, as far as I'm concerned. And why do they put so much salt in the food? Because they haven't figured out any other way to mask the fact that their product tastes bad.
Part of the problem is that salt is an easy and cheap way to give processed foods an appealing taste. The manipulation of ingredients that occurs during manufacturing can diminish food flavors, requiring flavor to be added back in.

Gary K. Beauchamp, director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, a research center in Philadelphia, says that salt also functions as a preservative, gives texture to food and helps hide unpleasant tastes that are sometimes created during processing.
Get this man some Ambien
President Bush really is a religious fanatic. It's no act. And not surprising that, as the Washington Post article says, the White House chose not to post a transcript of the remarks in question.
A Good Read
There's a new "blogging the Bible" entry up at Slate. "Moses turns into Jackie Mason" is quite good.
Miracle Tranquilizers....what the hell?
You might remember all the stories from about a year ago about people who took Ambien only to wake up and find out they had done all kinds of nutty things - including drive, cook and eat entire meals - in the middle of the night without remembering any of it. Well, there's something else Ambien apparently can do. It's one of the craziest things I've heard in a while. You will have to read it for yourself. It's a head-scratcher. We don't really believe this do we?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

More Great News About Our Religion
According to a new Baylor study, at least 10% of those who claim "no religion" nonetheless identify with a congregation. The study concludes that America is more religious than has recently been suggested--with other surveys showing that we've become slightly more secular since 1990. The Baylor study attributes this mistake primarily to the growth in non-denominational churches, leaving more people feeling like they don't have a religion but do have a church. But that's not the part that struck me. It's this: 31% of Americans believe in an authoritarian God who is highly judgmental and highly involved in their daily affairs and world events.

And also God accomplishes this by transporting himself from person to person on a team of invisible unicorns.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Presidential Address
He's about to speak from the oval office...and the accumulated memories of the day have me angrier at him than ever. His ultimate response to the horrible day of 5 years ago....what a waste, and a disgrace. A neverending war in Iraq, politicization of tragedy, abuse of power, squandering of goodwill around the world.

Along with my outrage against the hateful minds that would commit such a horrific crime, it should primarily be a day of sad memory and a celebration of courage and national unity, but, alas, for me, today it is not.
Response to ABC
Clinton's lawyer writes another letter. Richard Clarke writes a letter. American Airlines writes a letter. I can only hope that lawsuits flow... no network should feel comfortable re-writing recent history, especially when the details and blame-game at stake are so politically charged.

You want the short version of their response? "disgraceful," "inaccurate," "irresponsible," "misrepresentation," "outright fiction," "fraught with error," "defames dedicated public officials," "irreparable,""egregious disservice,""outrageous,"" "politicization of history..."

ABC, like other broadcast networks, has free access to the public airwaves. Our airwaves. We should demand better.
What have you been reading, listening to, watching?

"Orpheus Says Howdy"
The NYTimes reviews Nashville's new symphony hall that debuted this weekend with ouru own version of red-carpet glitz. I haven't seen/heard the hall yet, but the level of community excitement over a symphonic venue has been impressive and a little bit exciting. Frankly, I'm more disturbed that so much of the music remains old than that the building's decor evokes the past (though they did premiere a new work for the occasion). But in general I can't endorse the basic criticism here, that there is not enough of an homage to the city itself so much as a desire to look like some other city/time/place. The new hall is literally a stone's throw (not that I recommend that) from the Country Music Hall of Fame, and a short walk honky-tonks and the Ryman Auditorium. I think the downtown area has a certain cultural diversity on its own without the need for each structure to convey a uniquely Nashville experience. I would think that just walking to and from the building does enough of that. Criticism of the acoustics and of the symphonyh itself may be warranted - I haven't been there - but both have been pretty universally praised apart from the Times' take.

Looking for Recommendation
Should I watch V for Vendetta? Anyone here seen it?

Path to 9/11
I watched a few minutes at the end. ABC might as well have pulled the plug, since they lost their advertisers and tons of money in the airing. It's a complete smear of Madeleine Albright and Sandy Berger, not to mention Bill Clinton. So is anyone taking it to be the gospel truth? You bet...
The two-part, five-hour ABC special airing Sunday and Monday at 8 p.m. on Channels 5 and 6 is compelling and confounding, gripping and disturbing. And it’s all completely true. The program, which gives TV docudramas a good name, is based on the 9/11 Commission Report, which was published in 2004. All the details are documented. All the characters are real; so are the events, unfortunately.
That's the review of the Providence Journal--no kidding..."it's all true...." sheesh. (via talkingpointsmemo)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Does this sound like America?
This is your Vice-President, champion of free speech, the right to criticize your government, and belief in the value of public debate over important policies like war. Today:
So you look at situation today in Afghanistan or even in Iraq, and you’ve got people who have doubts. They want to know whether or not if they stick their heads up, the United States, in fact, is going to be there to complete the mission. And those doubts are encouraged, obviously, when they see the kind of debate that we’ve had in the United States, suggestions, for example, that we should withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, simply feed into that whole notion, validates the strategy of the terrorists.
Negative Campaigning
One reason why Democrats aren't likely to experience a 1994-style wave of congressional takeovers (though I'll keep my fingers crossed) is either the disinclination, or inability to do this:
Republicans are planning to spend the vast majority of their sizable financial war chest over the final 60 days of the campaign attacking Democratic House and Senate candidates over personal issues and local controversies, GOP officials said.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which this year dispatched a half-dozen operatives to comb through tax, court and other records looking for damaging information on Democratic candidates, plans to spend more than 90 percent of its $50 million-plus advertising budget on what officials described as negative ads.
I've already seen this here--the first negative ads against Harold Ford run by the Republican National Committee. It's classic stuff: ominous music, the voice that sounds right out of a horror movie preview narration, and charges that Ford is essentially uninterested in keeping Americans safe.

Wouldn't it be nice if for once this didn't work? Backfired even? If Americans were finally so sick of seeing the party in power run the country into the ground in favor of corporate interests at home and a domineering, simple-minded and deadly bravado abroad? But is there any reason to believe that the most massive negative campaign in US history won't work?

Friday, September 08, 2006

ABC is feeling it. When you've pissed off Arthur Schlesinger, you've gone too far. I hadn't thought there was a chance in hell they'd pull the plug on the September 11 anti-Clinton fantasy, but now...maybe.
Literal Truth
Somebody just shoot me now. Please.
Alabama and Arkansas came out on top as 75% say they believe the Bible is literally true. West Virginia (70%) and Tennessee (68%) are close behind.
Three possibilities: 1) Many don't know what "literally" means; 2) Many have not read the Bible; 3) Many live in a world so fantastical and filled with magic and the constant possibility of the divinely bizarre that it bears no resemblance (literally) to the world I live in.

If you are interested in reading the Bible, but don't really want to go through with it yourself, I can't recommend "Blogging the Bible" highly enough.
It's a Tie
Harold Ford's recent internal poll showing him up slightly on Corker had an impressively huge sample. Now, Rasmussen's new poll shows him just 1 point behind. It's a race, and time for the national prognosticators, and liberal blogosphere, to upgrade Tennessee in the possible Dem pickup category, and to start giving it the attention and money it could use.

There is a long way to go, but I'm impressed with how hard Ford is campaigning, and confused about how absent Corker is. Ford's not great on alot of issues. And he is surely campaigning as the most conservative version of himself he can muster, which gives me heartburn but is a reflection of our state. Still, he is being tough - on Bush and on Corker - he's got ideas, energy and the best-produced tv ads of any Senate candidate this cycle.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Jay Carson Sighting
For those of you that care. He's released a statement about the ABC farce of a "docu-drama"

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Defining the Enemy: What's in a Name?
The National Review's Rich Lowry is pooh-poohing all the silliness that is "naming the enemy", you know the game: is it al qaeda, is it Islamic jihadists, Islamic fascists, "terror," "evil doers" or whatever. What's the big deal?
I don't think when President Bush says (or said) "Islamo-fascists" light bulbs go off for most Americans who sit up and think, "Oh, now I know who we are fighting." My view is the whole naming debate is "much ado," and although it's very interesting, its contribution to actually winning this war will be nil.
Ok, fair point. There's no need to define the enemy in war, especially if that absence will let us fight anyone, anywhere, anytime and claim it's all part of the important (ill-defined) battle. So, I propose a compromise: How about we at least have a go at defining "victory." That might, you know, help us figure out the best ways to get there (and not). And help us figure out which goals are just bat-shit insane nonsense.
California Dreamin'
I don't know what's gotten into the water in California, but they're on a tear passing dramatic legislation, and mostly getting support from the Governator. Last week, I posted about legislation that's infuriated the religious right, and another bill that set new emission standards. Now, Kevin Drum relays that the state is poised to take on the electoral college, if their plan is constitutional...which sounds like a big "if."
Under the legislation, California would grant its electoral votes to the nominee who gets the most votes nationwide — not the most votes in California....The California legislation would not take effect until enough states passed such laws to make up a majority of the Electoral College votes — a minimum of 11 states, depending on population.
I have mixed feelings about the electoral college. But right now, today, I'm ready to scrap it. Either way, some parts of the country will not receive significant attention from presidential candidates. But I just can't think that it's cool for the majority of Americans not to decide who the President will be. Dump the electoral college and everyone knows their vote counts, not just people living in states where it's close. Yeah, it would take some of the calculating, tactical fun out of the campaign and out of the vote-tally coverage, but I'm not so sure that's a bad thing.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Pressing Republicans for a Yes or No
Of course a no-confidence vote on Rumsfeld would not be binding on the President and would have trouble passing the Republican-controlled Senate. But the point isn't, as Chuck Schumer says, to "send a message that the administration's policies in Iraq are failing." The American people already know that they are failing. The point is to tie Republican incumbents, like Senator Kyl (R-AZ), Talent (R-MO), Burns (R-MT), Dewine (R-OH), Santorum (R-PA), and on and on. Even better, in races for an open seat, like here in TN, we need to put the Republican candidate to a simple test: would you or would you not support Rumsfeld in a Senate vote? They can't just be allowed to vaguely support the President but imply they understand mistakes were made. Every candidate needs to answer directly whether they support the war's chief architect, apologist, and executor.

Friday, September 01, 2006

This is a Good Idea
A no-confidence vote on Rumsfeld.
The Enemy of My Enemy is Not My Friend
It's easy to pile onto President Bush by pointing to all the conservatives who have turned against him. Kinda fun. "Look there, George Will thinks you're being crazy and dangerous". And, "hey, did you see that even Newt Gingrich thinks the war has been screwed up?" Most impressive has been the relentless anti-Bush torrents from none other than Pat Buchanan. But he hasn't changed. Recently, Pat has been reminding me of why I always loathed him, and what makes him a scary first-class bigot and asshole. Hopefully in the future I can manage to point out Bush's mistakes without his help.