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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Late Nite FDL: Joe Klein -- In His Own Words, Final Round

I thought we would announce the winner of the Joke Line Joe Klein mental midgetry award tonight but I fear that the varying amounts of traffic/participation we have had on each night make a cumulative vote total a bit skewed, so we find ourselves in the interest of fairness conducting a runoff. Tonight the top vote getters from each of the previous heats will advance and tomorrow we will have our counter-Oscars when we will award the gold.

Since it was Digby's relentless skewering of Wee Joe that inspired this particular contest in the first place, it is only fitting that Digby be the wind beneath our wings tonight:
Has there ever been a more useful Republican idiot than Joe Klein? I don't think so. If you don't believe me, check out the huge array of idiotic statements he's written over at firedoglake. Jane says, "No one man can claim credit for the minority status of Democrats today, but Joe Klein can certainly rest easily knowing that he has done more than his fair share." I think he and all his fake liberal pundit friends are the most responsible of all. They are killing us. People on both the left and the right confuse Joe Klein with a real Democrat and mistake his incomprehensible political philosophy for that of the Democratic Party. If there is nothing else that the liberal blogosphere can do, we must make it clear to the American people and the Democratic politicians that Joe Klein speaks only for his elite, insider cadre of cocktail weenie addicts. His opinions are irrelevant to serious Democratic politics.
We humbly accept the challenge. And with that here are tonight's finalists in Joe Klein: In His Own Words:
3. "The possibility of vice-presidential anguish was barely mentioned by most commentators at first. Cheney is a tough customer; Oprahfied "sharing" isn't his way. But then, there he was, with that haunted look in his Fox News interview, saying, "[T]he image of him falling is something I'll never be able to get out of my mind. I fired, and there's Harry falling ..." Hunting had given him "great pleasure" in the past, but he wasn't so sure now. In fact, he sounded a lot like the combat veterans I've spoken with over the years, for whom the living nightmare of firing a weapon under questionable circumstances is a constant theme."

13. "People like me who favor this [NSA wiretapping] program don't yet know enough about it yet. Those opposed to it know even less -- and certainly less than I do."

25. "I've never seen George Bush lose a debate. He is a brilliant minimalist.

36. "Abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution, and so interpretations are all we have. One way to solve this--perhaps the best way--is to put abortion to a vote, as a constitutional amendment or on a state-by-state basis. Issues this important should be decided democratically, don't you think?"
Tough contenders all. Who will wear the coveted crown? Judges the burden is upon you. Since we have all snarked on these particular entries before, tonight is simply a victory lap -- freestyle snark for the fun of it. We will also be announcing the winner of the Charles P. Pierce Award for Excellence in Klein Snark tomorrow, the winner currently being held in a sealed envelope by the firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Please vote by number, vote early, and since this is not Florida, only once.


Amy Ridenour: How Low Can You Go?

Margot has found the perfect job for Amy Ridenour (no, not Dennis Hastert impersonator).

Angie lets us know she was a real piece of work during her testimony before the Indian Affairs Committee.

Valley Girl gives us this link to an article about the NCPPR entitled "Tom DeLay's Right Arm" and quotes from The Hill, June 23, 2005:
The Center's chief executive officer, Amy Ridenour, a friend of Abramoff's from their time as College Republicans in the early '80s, testified that Abramoff told her the money was part of an "educational project to tell the American people ... the very impressive story of the ... Choctaw Indians." She accepted an additional $1.5 million contribution in 2003. Abramoff directed her to route that money to the Capitol Athletic Foundation and a company named Kaygold.
And it looks like Pam Spaulding has been on this one for a while.

Yet another College Republican. What a pernicious mutant breeding ground that turned out to be.

Update: Digby chimes in:
Amy has long been jack, ralph and grover's personal bitch. From Frank Foers great piece about the College Republicans:
Back in 1981, Abramoff and his campaign manager, Norquist, promised their leading competitor, Amy Moritz, the job of crnc executive director if she dropped out of the race. Moritz took the bait, but it turned out that Abramoff had made the promise with his fingers crossed. Norquist took the executive director job and named Moritz his deputy. That demotion didn't last long, either. After discovering the talented Ralph Reed, Norquist handed the Christian Coalition godfather Moritz's responsibilities and her office space. They placed all of Moritz's belongings in a box labeled "amy's desk." Even 25 years later, she hasn't shed her role as College Republican doormat. Abramoff used her think tank, the National Center for Public Policy Research, to funnel nearly $1 million into a phony direct-mail firm with an address identical to his own.
Poor Amy. Never cool enough for the real Ratfuckers. While the three little pigs were making millions, she was still doing college republican level dirty tricks: Bilking old people.

Her "think tank" was also used last year by the allegedly liberal NPR to explain why social security privatization was such a great idea. They actually referred to it as non-partisan. I wrote about it here.

I was told by a reader who complained that the executives of the show were appalled when they realized that their producers had no idea that they were dealing with a right wing organization.

I was appalled that NPR producers didn't realize they were broadcasting partisan swill just by the content alone. I had heard the program while driving down the 405 and almost swerved off the clover-leaf when I realized it was going to be unrebutted.
I guess that particular College Republican chestnut of ripping off the elderly is something passed down from generation to generation.

The GOP. They're all about tradition.


Day of the Locusts

In January, 2005 Raw Story published a letter sent by Amy Ridenour of The National Center for Public Policy Research to elderly people under the pretense that they were "saving" their endangered Social Security benefits:
"Should we put most of our time and effort into fighting to prevent liberal big-spenders from draining an estimated $100 billion from the trust fund?" Ridenour asks. "Or should I go head to head against the left-wing's reckless use of $70 billion tax surplus when they promised to put our Social Security first?"
It was one of many "scare letters" designed to terrify the elderly. And it worked. According to the San Francisco Examiner:
The letters so distressed Shelby, who is 86 and lives in a senior center, that she often sat up nights, fretting over which crisis most deserved her help. Fearful that her benefits might expire, she regularly responded with small donations.

"I didn't know that I could just turn them down," Shelby said. "I was thinking it was something I had to do. . . . I thought if I didn't correspond about Social Security, I wouldn't get my checks."

Shelby is one of millions of seniors nationwide targeted by so-called "fright mail," computer-generated by self-proclaimed public policy organizations in mostly legal but controversial campaigns to raise cash.


Amy Moritz Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, says that emotional pitches get results, and insists that would-be donors don't want the details.

"It's just that you're competing with a lot of other organizations. People seem to respond better to emotion than they do with letters that have lots and lots of facts," said Moritz, who said her letters were written by a direct-mail firm, Response Dynamics, but read by her before they were sent. "You have to give something that is light enough that people will be willing to read it upon receipt. . . . If they don't read it right at that moment, all the studies show they never will."
In the Ridenour letter printed by Raw Story, she tells her elderly victims that:
Inside your sealed envelope is information regarding the potential collapse of the Social Security system -- and how it can endanger you and the entire United States senior citizen population."

It is also critical that you share this pertinent information ONLY [sic] with other trustworthy individuals.
In other words don't tell anybody who might tell you this is a scam and interfere with our right to fleece you. A typical tactic used by those who exploit children and the elderly.

Raw Story noted at the time that NCPPR were the group that paid $64,000 in travel expenses when Hot Tub Tom went to Moscow in 1997, and over $70,000 for a trip made by DeLay and his aides in mid-2000 to Europe. Oh and they mention that one of the NCPPR's directors at the time was Jack Abramoff.

Suddenly the NCPPR has decided that Raw Story has "violated their copyright" by printing the letters, which is such unmitigated bullshit it's hard to know where to begin. The publication of the letters would be a rather text book case of Fair Use, but the point of the cease and desist email doesn't have anything to do with the merits of their claim (virtually none) -- it has to do with the fact that most small organizations don't have the funds to hire lawyers to battle this stuff so it is easier to comply with the request than to fight it.

You can read the excerpted letters here and here.

There is a bright side to all this -- it gives the story a whole new life cycle, and awakens people to the machinatians of social mange/professional GOP crooks like Amy Ritenour. Who will not doubt be making a more prominent entry onto the Abramoff stage in the near future.

Nice to be able to accelerate her debut.

Update: Pigboy tells us Amy has a blog -- and it is quite possibly the ugliest blog I've ever seen. Funny that.

I wonder -- can you blog from the slam?


The Apostasy of Michael Brown

I didn't expect my post about Michael Brown to cause as much controversy as it did. But it got a conversation going that I think is actually quite interesting so I'd like to carry it a bit further.

Josh Marshall is right -- the release of the new tapes show simply that Brown cared about what was going on, was aware of the potential danger of Katrina and tried to do something to address it. It does not absolve him from a host of other sins we've all devoted much time to documenting from the time Katrina hit. And as Atrios notes, his current candor does not make Brown a hero. It would have been heroic to step up at the time and tell the public what was happening, at a time when it could have made a difference. That didn't happen.

And as Digby notes, Michael Brown really didn't have many other options. He was so thoroughly discredited, so completely goated by BushCo. that he didn't have much alternative but to turn on them if he wanted to have a future at all as anything other than the guy who forever fucked New Orleans.

Still, his current actions took some nerve. The kind of nerve people quite frequently can't muster on their own and are much more likely to discover when they know they have people who will back them. Which raises an interesting point of speculation.

As a veteran of many PR trench warfare campaigns, I can tell you that the first thing I would've done once it became apparent that BushCo. was going to throw him under the bus would be to go after Brownie. If I was, say, a big politician who had been targeted by the GOP and lost my seat, or was given to a pugilistic bent, or had an axe to grind over any high-profile Rovian rat-fuck delivered by BushCo. over the years I would've looked at the Katrina disaster, recognized that it was the single worst blow to George Bush's credibility in the public mind and gone immediately to work on the guy who had the potential to deliver me a blue dress moment.

I have no knowledge of what actually happened but the push to rehabilitate Brown does have, at moments, something of an organized feel (particularly the superb timing). And right now, Brown has the ability to do what no other person can -- keep Bush's Katrina inadequacies in the headlines, kicking him when he's down and damaging his poll numbers such that it both paralyzes him and emboldens his opponents.

None of which can work, mind you, if nobody is willing to listen to Brown's story. That Bush let someone with the goods on him get so far out of the fold is an incredibly stupid mistake; Brownie above all others should've been kitted up with some cushy job and bankrolled to into abject silence. It was an outrageous stumble on the part of a beleaguered and embattled administration, one I'm more than willing to take advantage of.

So if you're still speaking, Michael Brown, I'm all ears.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Late Nite FDL: Joe Klein In His Own Words, Fourth Semi-Final Round

And thus we arrive at this, the final night of our semi-final round to see who will take home the gold for finding the most gallingly stupid Joe Klein comment of all time. If the past three nights have taught us nothing else, it is that there is no agony of defeat here; each and every comment proffered for entry seems to supersede the one before it for pure noxious flapdoodle.

No one man can claim credit for the minority status of Democrats today, but Joe Klein can certainly rest easily knowing that he has done more than his fair share.

So without further ado, here are tonight's contenders in "Joe Klein, In His Own Words:
29. "And yet, for the moment, Bush's instincts -- his supporters would argue these are bedrock values -- —seem to be paying off. The President's attention span may be haphazard, but the immediate satisfactions are difficult to dispute. Saddam Hussein? Evildoer. Take him out. But wait, no WMD? No post-invasion planning? Deaths and chaos? Awful, but ... Freedom! Look at those Shi'ites vote!"

30. "As for Bush, a hopeful sign is that he spent more time talking about poor people when he ran for president than any Democratic nominee I've watched -- —since, er, McGovern. His domestic policy was the most creative of any Republican I've ever covered, far more creative than Gore's."

31. RE: Bush's "incredible instincts": "But expertise and deliberation have never seemed more stodgy, unappealing and unconvincing than they do right now."

26. "I think private accounts a terrific policy and that in the information age, you're going to need different kinds of structures in the entitlement area than you had in the industrial age."

33. "Kerry, like many other Democrats, never truly understood this reality. He did not bother to visit the Southern Baptist Convention or any other fundamentalist group to say, Look, we're going to disagree on some issues, but there are lots of things we have in common, and I want to hear your point of view. He did not take a "listening tour" through rural Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi; he simply ignored the South. When Whoopi Goldberg lewdly compared the President to a body part in her southern hemisphere, Kerry -- —who was in the audience -- —came onstage and said entertainers like Goldberg represented "the heart and soul of America." He did not criticize the mayor of San Francisco when he broke the law to perform gay marriages. He condoned late-term abortions. He had nothing to say about Janet Jackson's Super Bowl breast flash. Unlike Al Gore, he did not even give a speech supporting faith-based social programs. To religious conservatives, he seemed a secular extremist. The Democrats have paid a heavy and honorable price for their support of equal rights -- —first for African Americans and now for homosexuals."

34. "I'm not nearly as smart as Eric [ Alterman], to have opinions without bothering to report first. Instead let me react by speaking to the facts. After all, I've lived my life by seeking out facts and then reporting them. One advantage I think I have over other columnists is that I do reporting."

35. "Given the circumstances, there is only one possible governing strategy: a quiet, patient, and persistent bipartisanship."

36. "Abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution, and so interpretations are all we have. One way to solve this--perhaps the best way--is to put abortion to a vote, as a constitutional amendment or on a state-by-state basis. Issues this important should be decided democratically, don't you think?"

37. "I watched the President go through his public paces last week—a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, speeches touting Social Security reform and the Patriot Act—and his stubborn consistency was both admirable and annoying. His unwillingness to drop Social Security reform in the face of lousy polling results is certainly admirable. He has changed the emphasis from semi-privatization of old-age pensions (although he still favors that change) to the solvency of the system, and he has proposed a creative solution, progressive indexing, which would modulate benefits according to income, with the poor receiving proportionately more than the wealthy. This is an idea Democrats would embrace if they had the courage of their "progressive" convictions. But the donkeys appear to be more obsessed with social issues (like abortion rights) than with programs to benefit the poor, and most obsessed with short-term tactics to thwart Bush, regardless of the quality of his proposals."
Remember to vote only once and by number, and that your comments are also being evaluated for snark factor as they contend for the Charles P. Pierce Award for Excellence in Klein Snark. Mr. Pierce will be selecting the winner of this award from entries made in the comments section, so please defend your choice with craft and passion. The winner of this coveted crown will likewise be awarded a DVD copy of the darkly funny and late lamented show Action.

Show Joe some love.

First night semi-final round
Second night semi-final round
Third night semi-final round


Meltdown in the Falafosphere

Mike Stark's O'Reilly action makes it to Olberman. Mike reports he now has dozens more volunteers for a Monday call-in, and that he has told O'Reilly he will cease and desist if he takes down his anti-Olberman petition and apologizes to Keith.

I know, I know, when pigs fly. But it's good old fashioned entertainment for the rest of us in the mean time.

Crooks & Liars has video of the glue coming out of O'Reilly's cracks. Watch if for no other reason than the former prosecutor who says the only person who's done anything actionable here is O'Reilly, and that she thinks he needs to be investigated.


Brownie Redux

Michael Browne's willingness to be honest about what happened during Hurricane Katrina and not be just another ass-coverer for the sins of BushCo. has facilitated one of the most amazing image rehabilitations in blogger history. Over at The Moderate Voice Joe Gandelman wrote an apology to him, and received this in his comments (Joe believes it is legitimate):
Dear Joe:

I have religiously avoided responding to any of the blogs, but feel compelled to respond to you. Apology accepted. And thank you, too, for the apology.

I have stated on numerous occasions the mistakes that I made and accepted responsibility for those mistakes. And, I hope now that the public, Congress, and especially the Administration, will heed the warnings I wrote to them in 2003, 2004 and 2005, that this kind of disaster was inevitable because of the way the Department of Homeland Security was functioning. I would be glad to provide you copies of those memos if you're interested.

In January, 2005, I came to the conclusion that FEMA was doomed to failure. But rather than quit immediately (which my wife reminds me constantly was a huge mistake for our family) I commissioned an internal study (the "Mitre Report") in order to leave a legacy of how FEMA could make things work that were broken - logistics, supply chains, communications. We were never able to finish that study because of a lack of funding and of course, impending disasters.

The Mitre Report is now in the hands of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and I hope they make good use of its initial findings and recommendations.

Best regards,

Michael D. Brown
I'll pick up that baton from Joe -- Michael Brown was in over his head but contrary to what I snarked about at the time, the tapes show that he did appreciate the threat and he was trying to get the government to respond. They wouldn't, and they deserve to absorb every bit of scorn that was heaped on Brown at the time for their failure to do so, so I would officially like to transfer my snark. It is to Brown's credit that he's being honest about it now and refusing to be the BushCo. goat. I offer my apologies and hope that others are encouraged to follow in his footsteps.

Update: FWIS "Michael Brown" responds in the comments.


O'Reilly Sicks The Goons on Mike Stark

Just got an email from Mike Stark. One of the people he organized into an O'Reilly call-in, whose crime was uttering the name "Olbermann" on Bill's radio show, was contacted by someone who identified himself as Tony Burdy of Fox Security. For the record, this is what was said on the radio show:
O'REILLY: Orlando, Florida, Mike, go.

CALLER: Hey Bill, I appreciate you taking my call.


CALLER: I like to listen to you during the day, I think Keith Olbermann's show --

O'REILLY: There ya go, Mike is -- he's a gone guy. You know, we have his -- we have your phone numbers, by the way. So, if you're listening, Mike, we have your phone number, and we're going to turn it over to Fox security, and you'll be getting a little visit.

HILL: Maybe Mike is from the mothership.

O'REILLY: No, Maybe Mike is going to get into big trouble, because we're not going to play around. When you call us, ladies and gentleman, just so you know, we do have your phone number, and if you say anything untoward, obscene, or anything like that, Fox security then will contact your local authorities, and you will be held accountable. Fair?

HILL: That's fair.

O'REILLY: So, just -- all you guys who do this kind of a thing, you know, I know some shock jocks. Whatever. You will be held accountable. Believe it.
So Mike called Fox Security back:
I took the number and called Tony. We had a ten minute conversation. I explained that I run and that I am recruiting callers to join me in calling Bill's show to protest his smearing of Keith Olberman. Tony explained to me that if he can use his years of experience as a NYC Police detective as a guide, that it can be considered harassment if you repeatedly call somebody. I told him that i was no lawyer, but it would probably take a pretty novel argument to convince a judge that a person was harassing a talk show host by accepting their invitation to call... I also explained that he can sample the wares on my site and see for himself that I've never been rude or disrespectful.

I asked him to tell O'Reilly that we'd be happy if he took the anti-Olberman petition down and apologized to Keith. Tony said that would be an unlikely turn of events, and we left it at that.
Then Mike received another email from another caller:
I just got a phone call from the head of Fox Security, Anthony Burti, #212-XXX-XXXX. I got the call on the phone I used to call him from the head of Fox News security. He said that harassing phone calls were coming from my phone. I asked him how many? He did not know. I asked him what was said that was harassing? He said that he did not know but that it did not have to be what was said, but how many calls were being made. He tried to make like I made 20 phone calls instead of one, and that I cursed O'Reilly out. All I said was that I was grateful to O'Reilly for turning me on to Olberman. Then he hung up.
I guess O'Reilly was telling the truth, the Falafosphere does have its own personal storm troopers.

Fifty bucks says Loofah Boy likes to parade around in lace panties and jack boots.

Update: Mike gets more emails from yet another caller:
I called back Fox Security, (unfortunately was not able to tape the call), but Tony was very pleasant, and told me that my phone number had come up on a list of having called Bill "numerous times". I interupted and said "Numerous times? I had to call several times to get through, but today was the first time that I called the Bill O'Reilly show."

He seemed surprised and said that "If that's the case than I apologize for calling you." (I paraphrase here...) Some people have called numerous times and it can rise to the level of harassment based on the number of calls, and it varies from state to state. (it "can" not that it "does"!)

I asked him why security at Fox News was handling an issue that happened at Westwood One. He didn't have much of an answer, accept to say that Bill wanted them to look into it, and they work for the same company. Honestly, he really didn't sound like he wanted to be doing this at all. Then he told me that "you're entitled to like or dislike whoever you want, you know, freedom of speech, but if it rises to the level of harassment, then they have to take it seriously. I commented that "Ol' Bill has some pretty thin skin, huh?" He didn't really answer, then I assured him that I was no threat to Bill O'Reilly.
That's a very good question. If O'Reilly's show is on Westwood One, what the heck does Fox Security have to do with it? And what right would Fox have to be taking legal action?


In Over Their Heads

We've been having some vigorous discussion here -- and have been in correspondence with the ombudsmen of The Washington Post and New York Times -- about various ethical and journalism issues. We thought you'd be interested in these issues, and we'd appreciate your thoughts about them. We also think some of this should raise caution flags for your gatekeeping editors as they assess whether to use copy from competing national news organizations.

First, in this post-Jayson Blair era, we believe newspapers must be more transparent then ever about the sources of their stories. That includes acknowledging when others have beaten us to a big story. The Washington Post and New York Times each failed this standard in recent weeks.

On Feb. 7, Warren Strobel reported on a State Department reorganization that sidelined career arms control experts who don't share the Bush administration's mistrust of international arms negotiations and agreements. Exactly two weeks later, The Washington Post published a virtually identical story by Glenn Kessler. We say "virtually identical" only because the stories were written with different words. There was not a single fact in Kessler's story that was not in Strobel's, the product of weeks of careful enterprise reporting and interviews with 11 current and former government officials. We have asked, through the Post's ombudsman, Deborah Howell, who was once executive editor in St. Paul, for a published acknowledgement of the Knight Ridder story. To date, it hasn't happened. We understand that there has been vigorous opposition from the Post reporter, who has claimed, in essence, that the "trade press" had already widely reported the story, a contention that is in fact not correct. We're waiting to see what happens.
Lil' Debbie is on the case. When she's done covering the local pie eating contest and flogging Dana Milbank for his fashion gafs I'm sure she'll be all over this.

Meanwhile our Roots radio advisor Mike Stark had scored a direct hit on Bill O'Reilly with his team of radio callers. At the very mention of the word "Obermann" O'Reilly said Fox Security would personally order the police to deal with it. C&L says Keith will be covering it tonight on Countdown. More must-see TV.

Update: Howie Klein is over at Kos giving Lieberman a whipping. If you're a Kos member please go hit the "recommend" button.


Judas Sheep

From aRealPatriot, per me to me:
There is something known as a [sic] Judah sheep.

These are sheep that lead their own brothers and sisters to their doom and slaughter, then they get out of the way just before they themselves are slaughtered.

The rest of the sheep follow the "Judah" to their own doom, even through the slaughtered screams of their kin before them.

Clearly, there are not only "Judah sheep" among animals, there are those among men that would lead their own to slaughter as well.

The question arises;

Do Judah sheep know what they are doing and what will become of their brothers and their sisters?

I would think most of these "Judah sheep" both sheep and men, probably not, for these sheep and and these men have been conditioned to do what they do. They don't exactly see or understand where they lead those behind them, they think it's their calling in life

However among men there ARE Judah sheep that DO know what they are doing.

They are part of the very plot.

I don't believe people that support this administration even through the legislation that flies in the face of their own best interest, and people that try to convince others that these are good policies actually know that they have become Judah sheep.

Supporting these policies that attack the fiber of the middle class demonstrates the how effective the corporate propaganda machine really is.

I believe most of the middle class in America who vote republican are just sheep, and victims of the corporate propaganda machine, they are shallow and lazy, and they are hypnotized by the marketing strategies of corporate enterprise.


The politicians and the media personalities who repeat things like "talking points" do know what they are doing.

People that protect and defend those who forge data and initiate unprovoked war against countries that they know pose no threat to our country.

And people that protect and defend policies that would actually siphon vital resources FROM our fight against terrorism, and take the equipment and funding FROM the boys and girls that desperately need those resources if they are to succeed.

And people that protect and defend policies that create terrorism in countries where none existed before, and policies like those that deliberately destroy the infrastructure of the country we overthrow.


And policies that would take our very own money which we invested for generations and giving those assets to the richest people on the planet, people who will never ever spend it...our hard earned money which we earmarked for our retirement, we earmarked your parents health and drug care, and most important, investments we earmarked for our children's college education.

Even your kids future is not a sacrifice too great to these Judah sheep.

It's mind boggling the damage that can be done to this country before the people that enable it realize what's happening.
Name your favorite Judas Sheep.

(Anonymous pointed out in the comments that it's actually "Judas Sheep." But the point is the same.)


Like We Needed More Proof the Warmongers Were Actually Chickenhawks

I think it's great that a guy who normally gets 200 hits a day can terrify a sitting U.S. Senator just by telling the truth, but how petrified must Lieberman be of Ned Lamont to try and strongarm the Huffington Post into censoring their bloggers?

I guess that "Vote Lieberman: Warmonger" slogan must not be testing out too well.

Anyway, go read about how Howie Klein is giving Joe Lieberman the running shits. It's a scream.

Update: Howie has more Lieberman graphics love here, and he's got two more musicians giving statements about their opposition to Holy Joe. I guess I understand why he's now in the Imodium brigade.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Late Nite FDL: Joe Klein In His Own Words, Third Semi-Final Round

The competition has been fierce this week to discern which comment by every B-list Bush apologist's favorite "Democrat" takes the title of Most Revoltingly Stupid Joe Klein Comment of All Time. Project Runway has nothing on the drama heating up in our comments section, just a few more bugle beads and bloomers.

From week to week people like Atrios and Media Matters do a very good job of pointing out the all-Republican, all-the-time composition of most TV news shows. Many in our comments section often wonder "where are the Democrats?" like they have anything to do with it.

The person who gets the coveted slot of "token Democrat" is usually of the Joe Klein ilk. We then get a break from Republicans endlessly repeating GOP talking points to hear a self-professed Democrat endlessly repeating GOP talking points. It's not like the Democrats are telling the bookers "sorry, I'm too busy." This guy gets the air time.

And what does he do with it? Here are tonight's entries for "Joe Klein: In His Own Words:"
19. "One can only imagine the Republican wrath and utter ridicule—the Rush Limbaugh fulminations—if, say, John Kerry had proposed a similar policy: Let's pin our Middle East hopes on the statesmanship of Hizballah and Hamas. But that is where the democratic idealism of the Bush Doctrine has led us. If the President turns out to be right—and let's hope he is—a century's worth of woolly-headed liberal dreamers will be vindicated. And he will surely deserve that woolliest of all peace prizes, the Nobel."

20. "I bow to nobody in my disdain for bloggers. You know, they're all opinions and very little information." (video here)

21. "And I've got to say, Bob, that, you know, usually at this - at this stage of a campaign, with a whole big field of a lot of candidates, you know, it's easy to look on them as a bunch of dwarfs or buffoons, but the Democrats have some really serious and substantive and - and effective candidates out there. Of course, there's another whole brigade of buffoons that are led by Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich and Carol Moseley-Braun, none of whom really have a chance to become president, and - and are kind of cluttering up the stage at this point, but there - there are some good, serious candidates out there, too."

22. The Democrats have for the last 10 or 15 years blatantly, shamelessly demagogued this issue. They've offered nothing positive on Social Security or on Medicare or on Medicaid, and it's time for them to compromise here. It's also time for the Republicans to compromise here. One area where you might see, you know, some--one possibility is the old Washington standby, the demonstration project. We might try privatization for some younger, you know, Social Security recipients--not recipients but, you know, contributors, or we might try it in a city or a couple of places. We haven't--we don't know how it's going to work."

23. "But these concerns pale before the importance of the program. It would have been a scandal if the NSA had not been using these tools to track down the bad guys. There is evidence that the information harvested helped foil several plots and disrupt al-Qaeda operations.There is no such thing as a pure political product. The two existing political parties are amalgams of passion and sanity, traditional liberalism and conservatism. Those who win the presidency create harmonic majorities by plausibly balancing these strains."

24. "In less than a second, less time than it takes to tell," Dick Cheney mused last week, his quail-hunting expedition had gone "from what is a very happy, pleasant day with great friends in a beautiful part of the country, doing something I love—to, my gosh, I've shot my friend. I've never experienced anything quite like that before." It was perhaps the most eloquent, emotionally unguarded moment from the notoriously buttoned-up Vice President. He seemed stunned, uncertain for once. And the haunted look in his eyes reminded me of what soldiers in Vietnam used to call the Thousand-Yard Stare—the paralytic shock that comes from seeing the impact that even low-caliber weaponry can have on human flesh.

25. "I've never seen George Bush lose a debate. He is a brilliant minimalist.

26. "And then there is her husband, a one-man supermarket tabloid. A few weeks ago, the New York Post ran a photo of Bill Clinton leaving a local restaurant with an attractive woman, and the political-elite gossip hounds went berserk."

27. "Look, this is a debate we're going to have in this country. And the rules may well change and they maybe should change. But to do it in the way that this has been done, to send the message that we're sending, you cannot guarantee me that we're not creating more militants, more -- and more problems for ourselves."

28. "If Lee does hook large black audiences, there's a chance the message they take from the film will increase racial tensions in the city. If they react violently--which can't be ruled out--the candidate with the most to lose will be David Dinkins."
Remember not only to vote by number, but to vigorously lobby for your choice because the winner of the best Klein snark in the comments section will also receive The Charles P. Pierce Award for Excellence in Klein Snark (to be awarded by Charles P. Pierce himself) and will also win a copy of the DVD of Action.

Now is your chance to do to Joe what he does to us every time he opens his mouth. Don't waste it.

First night semi-final round
Second night semi-final round


Bush Cargo Cult

The latest meme from TBogg. I'd say it's right up there with his best work -- "The Clenis" and "101st Fighting Keyboardists" (so omnipresent nobody remembers he originated them.) I think "Bush cargo culters" is a perfectly succinct description of those who don't have to have the slightest idea about what Fearless Leader is doing before they know they like it.

Latest case in point -- Ole 60 Grit O'Beirne:
I heard the fellow in front of the weather map saying we can't predict this could happen and then I heard Michael Brown telling us what his gut was telling him. Unfortunately, when I watched, I guess The National Weather Service fellow at his map, we all bring a lot of skepticism to weather reports, Chris. We're habituated to thinking weather reports are wrong....
That woman would get on her knees and blow a tail pipe if Bush asked her to.

(via TRex)


National Security Conservatives and the Polls: BushCo. Disaster

As mcjoan notes over at Kos, all of Bush's polls are in free fall. Periodically Gosprey sends me bits of interest from the subscription-only conservative Stratfor report, and I always feel like I'm getting a look into the belly of the beast. Behind all the lies and spin and absurd attempts to put a good face on things, they're freaked:
The point here is not to argue the merits of the Dubai ports deal, but rather to place the business deal in the context of the U.S. grand strategy. That strategy is, again, to split the Islamic world into its component parts, induce divisions by manipulating differences, and to create coalitions based on particular needs. This is, currently, about the only strategy the United States has going for it -- and if it can't use commercial relations as an inducement in the Muslim world, that is quite a weapon to lose.

The problem has become political, and stunningly so. One of the most recent opinion polls, by CBS, has placed Bush's approval rating at 34 percent -- a fairly shocking decline, and clearly attributable to the port issue. As we have noted in the past, each party has a core constituency of about 35-37 percent. When support falls significantly below this level, a president loses his ability to govern.

The Republican coalition consists of three parts: social conservatives, economic conservatives and business interests, and national security conservatives. The port deal has apparently hit the national security conservatives in Bush's coalition hard. They were already shaky over the administration's personnel policies in the military and the question of whether he had a clear strategy in Iraq, even as they supported the invasion.

Another part of the national security faction consists of those who believe that the Muslim world as a whole is, in the end, united against the United States, and that it poses a clear and present danger. Bush used to own this faction, but the debate over the ports has generated serious doubts among this faction about Bush's general policy. In their eyes, he appears inconsistent and potentially hypocritical. Economic conservatives might love the ports deal, and so might conservatives of the "realpolitik" variety, but those who buy into the view that there is a general danger of terrorism emanating from all Muslim countries are appalled -- and it is showing in the polls.

If Bush sinks much lower, he will breaks into territory from which it would be impossible for a presidency to recover. He is approaching this territory with three years left in his presidency. It is the second time that he has probed this region: The first was immediately after Hurricane Katrina. He is now down deeper in the polls, and it is cutting into his core constituency.

"In effect, Bush's strategy and his domestic politics have intersected with potential fratricidal force. The fact is that the U.S. strategy of dividing the Muslim world and playing one part off against the other is a defensible and sophisticated strategy -- even if does not, in the end, turn out to be successful (and who can tell about that?) This is not the strategy the United States started with; the strategy emerged out of the failures in Iraq in 2003. But whatever its origins, it is the strategy that is being used, and it is not a foolish strategy.

The problem is that the political coalition has eroded to the point that Bush needs all of his factions, and this policy -- particularly because of the visceral nature of the ports issue -- is cutting into the heart of his coalition. The general problem is this: The administration has provided no framework for understanding the connection between a destroyed mosque dome in As Samarra, an attack against a crucial oil facility in Saudi Arabia, and the UAE buyout of a British ports-management firm. Rather than being discussed in the light of a single, integrated strategy, these appear to be random, disparate and uncoordinated events. The reality of the administration's strategy and the reality of its politics are colliding. Bush will backtrack on the ports issue, and the UAE will probably drop the matter. But what is not clear is whether the damage done to the strategy and the politics can be undone. The numbers are just getting very low.
Karl Rove did not just arbitrarily decide that "national security" would be the battle cry for the 2006 elections. Losing the "national security" conservatives is an unmitigated disaster for them, and they know it.

The Dubai Ports World deal is set to go through on Monday. Another manifestation of Bush's "hang tough and fuck'em all" leadership strategy? This isn't just another garden variety scandal for the GOP. The implications are much greater. But it would seem that the Administration is treating it as such.


Investment Opportunities in the Coathanger Industry

I don't want Cecile Richards, head of Planned Parenthood, to feel left out by giving Nancy Keenan all the credit for the new Mississippi Rapist Rights Bill, so The General has a few words for her, too.

Feel the love.

Update: Digby on the Utah law which requires parental notification for abortions even if the father molested the girl:
These Republicans admit that women give up their rights when they have sex. Good to know. And they believe a child molesting father's parental rights are more important than the daughter he impregnated. Also good to know.
Thanks, Sammy Alito. You make this all possible.


Mississippi to Pass Rapist Rights Bill Too: Thanks, Nancy Keenan

As a direct result of Samuel Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court, Mississippi now falls in line behind South Dakota to pass a Rapist Rights Bill:
Gov. Haley Barbour said Wednesday he would probably sign a bill under consideration in the state House that would ban most abortions in Mississippi.

The measure, which passed the House Public Health Committee on Tuesday, would allow abortion only to save a woman's life. It would make no exception in cases of rape or incest.

Barbour, a Republican, said he preferred an exception in cases of rape and incest, but if such a bill came to his desk: "I suspect I'll sign it."

The full House could vote on the bill next week, and it would then go to the Senate.
And yet NARAL and Planned Parenthood continue to support Joe Lieberman and Lincoln Chafee. I'm hearing that they are greatly annoyed at having to deal with "attacks from the left" on this "one little point" that we seem to disagree on. They're catterwauling that this is "just what the right wants."

Number one -- if you're rubber stamping the people who put Alito on the bench, how EXACTLY does that qualify YOU as the left?

Number two -- it's not "one little point." If another vacancy comes up on the Supreme Court, how do NARAL and Planned Parenthood plan to fight it? If it was okay for Lieberman and Chafee to vote for cloture on Alito, what's going to be different the next time? Are they waiting for someone WORSE before they put up a fight?

Number three -- "just what the right wants?" I'll tell you "just what they right wants." They want to be able to steam roll their fundie freaks onto the bench with no organized opposition, which is exactly what they got. I really don't see how we can make them much happier.

Most big feminists, I'm finding out, have no idea that NARAL and Planned Parenthood are supporting Chafee and Lieberman, or that they told their memberships to thank them both for their Alito votes. When they find out they go appropriately apeshit. They've been contacting a much-irritated Nancy Keenan who seems to think choice is a fine price to pay to maintain her own personal access to Republican cocktail parties.

We get coathangers so she can have cocktail weenies.

Not one more penny for either organization until they agree to stop giving it to people like Lieberman and Chafee who put Alito on the bench.

If there is any hope of stopping this juggernaut, I urge everyone to put your money where it will do some good -- to send a wake-up call to the Democratic Party, NARAL and Planned Parenthood that this is bullshit, people are angry and they better smell the fucking coffee.

Give to Ciro Rodriguez and Ned Lamont.

The fight starts now.

(hat tip to Joe from Americablog and not to NARAL, whose blogger mailing list I am on)


Cue The Aneurysm

Dubai Ports World's $6.85 billion acquisition of Britain's P&O will close on Friday or Monday, despite an additional 45-day review by the U.S. government in response to security concerns, a U.S. Treasury Department official said on Thursday.

"My understanding is that the deal will not close today," Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt told a Senate panel. "Although they had announced March 2 as the closing date ... that deal will not now close until tomorrow or Monday."

Kimmitt made his statement in response to a question from lawmakers on the Senate Banking Committee.
Can I just say how unhappy I am that Dobbs is allowed to own this thing?


Maine and Nebraska Roots

The March 7 deadline on the vote by the Senate Intelligence Committee is looming as to whether or not they'll investigate the illegal NSA wiretaps, and the wavering Republicans -- Snowe and Hagel -- need some nudging. So we're asking people to both call and write on behalf of this today; BushCo. is on the ropes right now and the time is perfect to use it to our advantage.

Glenn Greenwald has been doing yeoman's work into this, you can brush up on talking points here and read his latest update here. But the basic point is that the Committee needs to vote to look into this.

So pick up your telephones, grab your fax machines and work those keyboards:

Olympia Snowe (R-ME) -- previously indicated she supported amending FISA in some fashion, but voted with Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) to adjourn the committee without considering a motion to hold NSA hearings.

Senator Snowe webmail

Senator Snowe Telephone Numbers:
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 224-5344
Washington, D.C. toll-free from Maine (800) 432-1599
Auburn office (207) 786-2451
Augusta (207) 622-8292
Bangor (207) 945-0432
Biddeford office (207) 282-4144
Portland office (207) 874-0883
Presque Isle office (207) 764-5124

Senator Snowe Fax Numbers:
Washington, D.C. (202) 224-1946
Auburn office (207) 782-1438
Augusta (207) 622-7295
Bangor (207) 941-9525
Biddeford (207) 284-2358
Portland (207) 874-7631
Presque Isle (207) 764-6420

Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
Senator Hagel Webmail

Senator Hagel Telephone Numbers:
Washington, D.C. (202) 224-4224
Omaha office (402) 758-8981
Lincoln (402) 476-1400
Kearney (308) 236-7602
Scottsbluff (308) 632-6032

Senator Hagel Fax Numbers:
Washington, D.C. (202) 224-5213
Omaha office (402) 758-9165
Lincoln (402) 476-0605
Kearney (308) 236-7473
Scottsbluff Office (308) 632-6295

We're also encouraging people who are from Maine or Nebraska, or have ties to those states, to write carefully crafted letters to local media outlets. Vichy Dems has the contact information for Maine here and Nebraska here.

We keep getting fabulous feedback about all the letters we managed to get printed in the local Kansas papers last week (more on that later), and I'm certain we can do the same in Maine and Nebraska. It's a great way to cut through the national media ice, fly under the radar and hit hard in the back yards of these Senators where our efforts can have the maximum impact.

Thanks to everyone for their help on this matter, you're inspirational.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Late Nite FDL: Joe Klein In His Own Words, Second Semi-Final Round

We have a very special announcement tonight. Last night we told you that there would be not one but two prizes awarded in our contest -- the best Joe Klein quote to be voted on by the readers of this blog, and the Charles P. Pierce Award for Excellence in Klein Snark to be awarded by a panel of FDL judges. Our version of the Thalberg.

But we know how these things go -- with decisions this subjective there will inevitably be charges of jury tampering, favoratism and just plain bad taste. And thus we have enlisted the outside assistance of a judge with too much at stake to be swayed by the lures both sexual and chemical inevitably proffered in exchange for such a crown, someone who would never allow his good name to be sullied by succumbing to base and carnal temptations.

The sole judge for the Charles P. Pierce Award for Excellence in Klein Snark will be noneother than Charles P. Pierce himself, who set the gold standard with this piece.

So sharpen your quills and get ready for tonight's contestants as we enter the second round semi-final of "Joe Klein, In His Own Words":
10. "This month, Democrats may use procedural tricks to stop all Senate business and block a Republican effort to eliminate minority filibuster rights and jam through seven federal judges proposed by the President. The fight may be winnable, but it is a culture of law cul-de-sac. The Democrats will be shutting down the Senate over a matter of process rather than substance, a pinhead of principle most civilians will find difficult to understand. The Armageddon of confirmation battles—over the next Supreme Court Justice—will probably follow soon after, and it may cement a public impression of the Democrats as a party obsessed with the legal processes that preserve the status quo on issues such as abortion, gay rights and extreme secularism—and little else. The political damage may be considerable."

11. "[I will] have a lot more to say on this (NSA) issue next week -- but first I have to learn more about it."

12. "The notion of calling it wiretapping is questionable, I think, although I'm still not entirely sure."

13. "People like me who favor this program don't yet know enough about it yet. Those opposed to it know even less -- and certainly less than I do."

14. "The president has said privately he doubts that he will ever get credit for this eruption of American diversity. But admirably, he has never really asked for credit. He hasn't gone around trumpeting the fact that during his first term, the Secretary of State and the National Security Adviser were the first African Americans to hold those positions. Or that there were four women in his Cabinet. Or that Gonzales would be the first Hispanic Attorney General."

15. "And then there is the pessimism problem. Populists of both strains tend to believe that the system is rigged by dark and powerful forces that prevent the little guy from getting ahead, which means they tend to be angry. They also tend to be dividers rather than uniters. Even the nice-guy populism attempted by former Senator John Edwards in the last presidential campaign had a divisive edge. His theme was "two Americas." Pessimism, anger and unsubtle divisiveness tend to be total nonstarters in American politics."

16. "In fact, liberal Democrats are about as far from the American mainstream on [the NSA spying] as Republicans were when they invaded the privacy of Terri Schiavo's family in the right-to-die case last year. But there is a difference. National security is a far more important issue, and until the Democrats make clear that they will err on the side of aggressiveness in the war against al-Qaeda, they will probably not regain the majority in Congress or the country."

17. "Bill Clinton gives the appearance of taking stands-for some sort of tax cut, some sort of welfare reform, some sort of balanced budget-but these are ploys, mirages: they exist only to undermine positions taken by the Republicans. He doesn't fight for anything substantive-except of course, re-election. ...He has fallen into the dangerous habit of lip synching the presidency: he gives the appearance of leadership, but not the substance."

18. "And so the President finds himself in an exceedingly odd position for a post-Reagan Republican. He is acting like a Democrat, standing for abstract principles and high-minded long-term projects in the face of a public demanding easy answers and immediate results."
Remember to vote by number and only once for the best quote. Your analysis will be evaluated separately for snark factor, so please argue your choice passionately for the benefit of your fellow commenters. The winners will receive a copy of the newly released DVD of Action.

Bring your best work because someone -- we don't know who -- is obsessed with searching Technorati for the name Joe Klein.

Let the snark begin.

First Night Semi-Final Round


You Knew That Katrina Karma Was Going To Be a Nasty Bitch

But who knew it was going to be so direct.

George Bush with Diane Sawyer, September 1, 2005:
"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm. But these levees got breached. And as a result, much of New Orleans is flooded. And now we are having to deal with it and will."
But now according to a new tape unearthed by the AP, we see Bush being advised by experts the day before the storm hit:
"I also make absolutely clear to everyone that there is the potential for a large loss of life in the coastal areas from the storm surge" and "I don't think anybody can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not, but that's obviously a very very grave concern."
Despite this, George Bush made a decision to stay on vacation in Crawford.

From the AP:
Homeland Security officials have said the ``fog of war'' blinded them early on to the magnitude of the disaster. But the video and transcripts show federal and local officials discussed threats clearly, reviewed long-made plans and understood Katrina would wreak devastation of historic proportions. ``I'm sure it will be the top 10 or 15 when all is said and done,'' National Hurricane Center's Max Mayfield warned the day Katrina lashed the Gulf Coast.
Hoping to counteract the damage of the story, the White House leaked Newsweek transcripts from daily noon FEMA conference calls during and after Katrina to show how engaged and concerned Dubya was. Trouble is, these are transcripts that they had initially refused to provide to congressional investigators:
[T]he administration initially told Congress that the transcript for the Aug. 29 call -- the call congressional investigators were most curious about, given that it occurred as the hurricane was actually battering the Gulf Coast -- did not exist, with officials initially telling Capitol Hill that someone at FEMA or Homeland Security forgot to push the button on a tape recorder.

"Everybody has been looking for that transcript,"” former FEMA chief Michael Brown said Wednesday.

A White House official unexpectedly e-mailed the transcript to NEWSWEEK earlier today Wednesday morning -- —initially without explaining that it was the missing transcript. Two officials familiar with congressional investigations said that the document was turned over to Capitol Hill investigators Tuesday night. Administration officials told both Congress and NEWSWEEK that FEMA officials in Atlanta had taped the Aug. 29 conference call by aiming a video camera at a TV screen rather than following the usual recording procedure. The videotape was subsequently discovered and transcribed.
I can't recall offhand how many times the Administration has invoked the "dog ate my homework" excuse this year, but I'd have to take off my shoes to count them.

They really had to weigh the benefits of this one -- in order to try and prove that a narcissistic, elitist frat boy actually gave a shit about a bunch of dying poor people they had to bust their own lies:
Under questioning by congressional investigators as to why he went home at 10 p.m. on Aug. 29 amid conflicting reports about flooding and levee breaches, Rapuano indicated that the administration did not believe the White House was supposed to be a command center. He says he went home believing that FEMA'’s Michael Brown had all the resources he needed and that extensive search-and-rescue efforts were under way in New Orleans. Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman, said earlier this year: "The White House is not an operational institution. It doesn't run the nitty-gritty in natural disasters, and it doesn't direct bombing sorties in Iraq."

Some congressional investigators say it now seems somewhat ironic that having belatedly found the Aug. 29 conference-call transcript, the administration is now touting it as evidence of deep presidential -- and White House -- involvement in the crisis.
Once again, the White House proves that when Congress asks for documents for the purposes of a legitimate investigation -- well, that's just beyond the pale, executive privilege, national security, blah blah blah, fill in the blank. But leaking those very same documents to spin the press in a convenient moment of CYA, or if something needs to be declassified as part of a larger PR smear campaign, well that's just fine and dandy.

I don't know what deity might be brewing up this perfect storm of payback for Dubya but he does not seem to be interested in having a friendly conversation with the Boy King at the moment.

(graphic by Dark Black)


NARAL Endorses Ciro Rodriguez

Just got off the phone with Sara Wheat, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas who told me that NARAL has endorsed Ciro Rodriguez. They've also donated $5,000 to his campaign.

Sarah said, "Ciro was such a strong ally in the US house, with a 100% voting record for supporting reproductive health and pro-choice legislation. With so many right-wing extremists in the US Congress, we need someone like Ciro who understands that most Texans are pro-choice."

This is really exciting and exactly the kind of thing NARAL should be doing -- jumping into primary races when there's a clear-cut distinction between a pro-choice candidate (Rodriguez) and an anti-choice candidate (Cuellar). The endorsement was made by the NARAL national PAC, so despite the fact that they continue to endorse Lincoln Chafee they are doing something right.

We've kicked 'em when they're wrong so let's thank 'em when they're right. Please let NARAL know how much we appreciate their support of Ciro and their efforts to kick the DINO Cuellar back into the unemployment line, and while you're at it tell them you hope they will endorse Ned Lamont in his race against Joe Lieberman:
NARAL Pro-Choice America
1156 15th Street, NW Suite 700
Washington, DC 20005

Main Number: 202.973.3000
Main Fax: 202.973.3096
feedback form
And we're closing in on our ActBlue page as the single biggest donor to Ciro's campaign. How much would I love to be screaming from the rafters that the largest internet donation to Ciro was pro-choice money? That's a headline. That might just knock some sense into the Democratic establishment. That would be a message that even lunkhead Democratic "strategists" like Steve Elmendorf and Bob Doyle -- who plan to use the internet as an ATM for the upcoming election -- will be able to hear.

Remember -- every $50 dollars you give today puts someone on the ground in Texas walking the precinct for next week's primary vote. You can make the lesson so clear that even DC cement heads can understand it by giving here.


Roots Project: Nebraska and Maine

Last week we initiated a campaign to get people in Kansas writing letters to the editors in their local papers with remarkable success. Although many of them haven't yet appeared, numerous people have been contacted by the papers and told that they will in fact be published. We'll have a round-up as soon as we get something more concrete.

The deadline for the new vote by the Senate Intelligence Committee as to whether they will investigate the illegal NSA wiretaps is March 7. In targeting Kansas we've already hit committee Chairman Pat Roberts, and today we want to direct our energies toward writing letters targeting wavering Republicans Olympia Snowe and Chuck Hagel in Maine and Nebraska respectively.

Glenn Greenwald's post here provides good talking points, and as his post from today notes that it has become apparent based on news reports that there are other warrantless surveillance programs aimed at Americans besides the one the NYT reported on. All the more reason the committee cannot shirk its duty to investigate.

A contact list of Nebraska papers here.
A contact list of Maine papers here.

Remember -- personal, carefully crafted letters from local addresses are much more likely to get printed, so we want to encourage people who actually live in these states, or have some kind of connection with them to do so.

Tomorrow we'll be asking people to call Snowe's and Hagel's offices, so stay tuned.


Strip Search Sammy Sends a Letter

Dear Dr. Dobson:

This is just a short note to express my heartfelt thanks to you and the entire staff of Focus on the Family for your help and support during the past few challenging months.

I would also greatly appreciate it if you would convey my appreciation to the good people from all parts of the country who wrote to tell me that they were praying for me and for my family during this period.

As I said when I spoke at my formal investiture at the White House last week, the prayers of so many people from around the country were a palpable and powerful force.
As long as I serve on the Supreme Court I will keep in mind the trust that has been placed in me.

I hope that we'll have the opportunity to meet personally at some point in the future.

In the meantime my entire family and I hope that you and the Focus on the Family staff know how we appreciate all that you have done.

Sincerely yours,
Samuel Alito
The fight against the next repulsive Supreme Court nominee begins now with a wake-up call to the Democratic party: pro-choice matters, gay rights matter, and don't come calling on the blogosphere with your hand out unless you're willing to fight this Dobson shit tooth-and-nail. Ciro Rodriguez is neck-and-neck in a Congressional red state race against an anti-choice, anti-gay rights, pro-war so-called Democrat. Every $50 he gets today will send someone to walk a precinct next week on March 7, the day of the primary.

Let's show up now. Today. When it really matters.

You can donate to Ciro here.


Tuesday, February 28, 2006

FDL Late Nite: Joe Klein In His Own Words, First Semi-Final Round

Whenever Father Tim, Tweety and others decide to have the rare, one-off episode where they lure a Democrat into their lairs, more often than not the quote-unquote "Democrat" they book is Joe Klein. He then becomes the emblem for the party, the pundit who comes to mind when many Americans think "Democrat." He's the one the bookers have on speed dial, the one chosen to represent the "liberal" viewpoint on a weekly basis in Time Magazine.

Did it ever occur to Joe that the country's low opinion of "Democrats" -- something he is always quick to invoke -- is in large part due to the fact that people instinctively loathe him?

Here are tonight's entries for "Joe Klein: In His Own Words":
1. "For too many liberals, all secret intelligence activities are "fruit," and bitter fruit at that. The government is presumed guilty of illegal electronic eavesdropping until proven innocent. This sort of civil-liberties fetishism is a hangover from the Vietnam era, when the Nixon Administration wildly exceeded all bounds of legality—spying on antiwar protesters and civil rights leaders."

2. "There is evidence that the information harvested helped foil several plots and disrupt al-Qaeda operations. There is also evidence, according to U.S. intelligence officials, that since the New York Times broke the story, the terrorists have modified their behavior, hampering our efforts to keep track of them..."

3. "The possibility of vice-presidential anguish was barely mentioned by most commentators at first. Cheney is a tough customer; Oprahfied "sharing" isn't his way. But then, there he was, with that haunted look in his Fox News interview, saying, "[T]he image of him falling is something I'll never be able to get out of my mind. I fired, and there's Harry falling ..." Hunting had given him "great pleasure" in the past, but he wasn't so sure now. In fact, he sounded a lot like the combat veterans I've spoken with over the years, for whom the living nightmare of firing a weapon under questionable circumstances is a constant theme."

4. "Most polls indicate that a strong majority of Americans favor the [Patriot] act, and I suspect that a strong majority would favor the NSA program as well, if its details were declassified and made known."

5. "Populism is one of the more romantic and less admirable American political traditions. It purports to represent the interests of the little guy -- —the people, not the powerful... but more often than not it has manifested itself as a witlessly reactionary bundle of prejudices: nativist, protectionist, isolationist, and paranoid. The central assumption is that the little guy is so aggrieved that he can only be roused to citizenship by an appeal to his basest suspicions. Exploitation and venality are posited as the central fact of American life: The country is being taken to the cleaners by wicked plutocrats."

6. "I'm a so-called journalist who views his job as doing the legwork and then calling them as I see them. And I'm tired of civilians of the left and the right who, in their infinite wisdom, spew vituperative nonsense instead of asking substantive questions when they have the opportunity."

7. "John Kerry--John Kerry's been having a very bad cheese year. First he was going to put a Swiss cheese on his cheesesteak in Philly and now this."

8. "“In a way, President Bush is the beneficiary of 40 years of Democratic policy -- not just affirmative action, which helped create a broader, deeper pool of successful nonwhite college graduates, but also the Democratic Party'’s historic support for civil rights legislation, the feminist revolution and the easing of strict immigration policies in the 1960s, policies long opposed by many Republicans. But the Bush Cabinets have also been very much a reflection of who George W. Bush is and always has been."

9. "The Democrats' relative silence on all this has been prudent, but telling. Their implicit position has been to err toward law. 'The notion that Florida failed to do its job in the Schiavo case is wrong,' said Congressman Barney Frank, one of the few Democrats willing to speak about the case. 'Procedurally, there was a great deal of due process.' Frank was right, but it was a curiously sterile pronouncement, bereft of the Congressman's usual raucous humanity. It exemplified the Democratic Party's recent overdependence on legal process, a culture of law that has supplanted legislative consideration of vexing social issues. This is democracy once removed."
We will have four nights of semi-finals so that we can carefully evaluate each of the entries. Please vote only once and by number, but you are encouraged to passionately defend your choice for the benefit of those who come after you.

There will be two prizes -- one for the best Joe Klein quote, and there will also be a winner of the special Charles P. Pierce award for excellence in Klein Snark inspired by this piece (to be decided by the FDL panel of judges). Both will win a DVD copy of the dark and brilliant series Action. We will have three more nights of semi-finals before the final vote (one contestant from each night will make it to the finals), so please give your careful consideration to the task at hand.

Joe always speaks so highly of us, we really need to show up for him.


Lampooning Lil' Debbie: No Longer Just For Bloggers

Congratulations Washington Post, your ombudsman is now a national joke.

(graphic by Valley Girl)


Rickie Lee Jones Speaks Out Against Joe Lieberman

There's plenty of lingering resentment by musicians against Joe Lieberman's draconian PMRC censorship measures, and Howie Klein is having no trouble in his efforts to line them up to speak out against Lieberman and support Ned Lamont. Within minutes of sending out his initial entreaties he got this from Rickie Lee Jones:
Herr Lieberman helped me realize there is not much of a fine line left between the middle of the right and the edge of the left. We have moved so far over that even middle America stands perched on one foot, with it's one strand of hair tossed across its frowning face, trying to straighten the coffee in a cup that will forever be leaning far too right to ever feel balanced again.

No good American can go out into the street today and not turn gray with nausea at the complacency of every single newspaper, financial institution, and influential individual in the conspiracy to keep this unqualified, uneducated, unelected criminal in office. Lieberman was an important candidate, and he, above all of them, is a turn coat who helped to nullify the potency of the left.
Howie has the rest of her letter here. He's been hearing back from dozens of really big artists and managers and will be posting more in the next few days.

This could get very interesting.


Clowns for Cuellar

The Texas race between Ciro Rodriguez and the DINO Henry Cuellar is heating up. Looks like some unexpected help may be coming from inside the Cuellar campaign, in the form of Cuellar's Democratic strategist (*cough*) Bob Doyle, whose skills were so meager he failed to get the 50 (yes, 50) signatures he needed to put his Ohio Democratic candidate on the ballot (and who must now run as a write-in).

I have a rather large poodle who could've done a better job.

From today's Roll Call:
An embarrassing last-minute filing snafu in a must-win Ohio open-seat House race has led to a round of behind-the-scenes finger-pointing in Democratic circles, as party leaders sought to assess blame for state Sen. Charlie Wilsons (D) failure to qualify for the primary ballot in the 6th district.

As Wilson announced Friday that he will pursue a write-in campaign to win the Democratic nomination, it was clear that some in the party were looking to Bob Doyle, Wilsons fundraising consultant who was believed to hold great sway over the campaign, to shoulder at least some of the responsibility for the major setback.

"I think in any screw-up like this one, you first look to the campaign manager and then you look to the consultant," said one Democratic operative.


[I]n 2004, Doyle further incensed some party insiders on Capitol Hill by working to defeat a Democratic incumbent in a Texas primary.

His client in that race, now-Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), is currently involved in a biter rematch with former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D) in the March 7 primary. Cuellar, a conservative Democrat who touts his ties to President Bush and was recently endorsed by the Club for Growth, is unpopular with liberal party leaders and interest groups.

As head of Sutters Mill Fundraising and Consulting, Doyle has built his reputation on electing moderate to conservative Democrats in tough contests largely in the South and Midwest, risky territory for the party in recent cycles.

But Doyles willingness to work against more liberal candidates, including incumbents, hasn't helped to foster the best relationship with his partys leadership, though he is close with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), a champion of party moderates.

Meanwhile, within the DCCC, frustration with Doyle has festered in recent years due to the consultants insistence that the committee communicate with campaigns through him, according to knowledgeable Democratic sources. That frustration with Doyle has been amplified this cycle, due to the fact that he has several top-tier clients in races that are viewed as must-wins for Democrats.

Wilson and Ohios 6th district fall into both of those categories.

The open-seat race is among the most competitive in the country, and national Democrats had coalesced behind the socially conservative Wilson early on as their prospect for holding the seat that Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio) is vacating to run for governor.

But last week Wilson was deemed ineligible to appear on the May 2 primary ballot after only 46 of the 96 signatures he submitted were ruled valid four shy of the 50 needed to qualify for the ballot in the Buckeye State.

Wilson has decided to run as a write-in in the primary, on a ballot where two lesser-known and underfunded Democrats will be listed.


Wilsons failure to make the ballot opened a wide door for Republicans to raise questions about the competence of his campaign and whether he is ready for a national-level race.

"Charlie Wilsons inept non-candidacy is badly wounded both politically and in terms of his failure to understand the geography of the district he wishes to represent in Washington," NRCC spokesman Ed Patru said in a statement following Wilsons disqualification.

Wilson is not the only highly-touted candidate in a competitive race Doyle is working to elect this cycle.


Last year, some party insiders privately questioned whether Doyles close relationship with DCCC Executive Director John Lapp was factoring prominently in his firms ability to score a number of top-tier recruits.

Lapps and Doyles political ties date back to the 1998 cycle and the campaign of Ken Lucas, a conservative Democrat then running for an open seat in Kentucky.

Doyle, who was just getting his new firm off the ground, was a consultant to the campaign and hired Lapp to manage the race.

Lucas, who retired in 2004, is now seeking a comeback and is challenging Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) in what is expected to be a highly competitive race this November. Doyle is once again working for Lucas.
The Republicans have been taking advantage of the truly awful Democratic "strategists" for years. It's nice to know we may now be able to take advantage of the same -- there's no reason to think they won't be shooting Cuellar in the foot too and staying true to form.

But how many other seats are these people going to cough up to the GOP through cronyism and ineptitude before they're through?

The March 7 Ciro primary is coming up soon so thankfully it may be working on our side for once.

You can give to Ciro here.

Update: From a dennisl at Kos: "You call them 'loser consultants.' I call them 'future Fox News experts on Democratic strategy.'"


Fresh Out of the Oven: The New Republican Memes

Via Atrios, we find that Media Matters is documenting the new GOP meme over the UAE ports fiasco: Democrats are "moving to the right" of Republicans on national security. As if the GOP are somehow the true banner carriers here.

As this whole mess unravels they are trying to digest their own history of spin and quite frankly choking on it. Democrats (like John Kerry) have long known that the corrupt GOP machine was all about consolidating its own power with fear mongering and using 9/11 as a means to get its hand on all the war and national security profiteering it could eat. They never cared about real national security in the form of actually securing our porous ports, probably the biggest gap in fighting the true terrorism threat (as opposed to the simple unremitting hatred of brown people that is now blowing back uncontrollably in BushCo.'s collective face) so it's both ironic and appropriate that their undoing should come in the form of the Dubai Ports World deal.

Meanwhile the war bloggers are picking up the Bill Kristol baton and have discovered what went wrong with the war in Iraq: protests from the left. I think we should let Glenn Greenwald field this one:
One can bet the mortgage that we'll be seeing a lot more of this over the next few months -- between now and, say, oh, November or so. Those who insisted on this war, who started it, who prosecuted it, who controlled every single facet of its operation --– they have no blame at all for the failure of this war. Nope. They were right all along about everything. It all would have worked had war critics just kept their mouths shut. The ones who are to blame are the ones who never believed in this war, who control no aspect of the government, who were unable to influence even a single aspect of the war, who were shunned, mocked and ridiculed, and who have been out of power since the war began. They are the ones to blame. They caused this war to fail.


Virtually every prediction the President and his followers made about this war has proven to be false, while virtually every prediction made by war opponents has proven to be true. The President and his followers controlled every part of this war with an iron fist, ignoring anything which their political opponents said and insisting on the right to exert full-scale, undiluted control over it. And now it has failed. And it's everyone'’s fault except theirs.
Yes if only we had fallen in behind their superior intelligence, superb planning and visionary leadership none of this would have happened. The logic is ineluctable.

Meanwhile the bitter 101st Fighting Keyboardists take time off from playing paintball to cry that TBogg is being mean to them over all this.

Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of WAAAAHHH.


NARAL and Planned Parenthood (UPDATED)

Thanks to all your calls, faxes and letters a firestorm has broken out in the Connecticut pro-choice community over the decision of NARAL and Planned Parenthood to ask their members to thank Joe Lieberman for his Alito vote. I'll keep you posted as I hear more, but it looks like the consistent effort we've been applying has really started to take hold. I'm really, really encouraged. Thanks to everyone who has taken time to make the effort to thank NOW for getting it. We appear to have finally hit the mark.

Velouria left this comment over at the HuffPo in response to my post about Planned Parenthood and NARAL and I thought it was quite good:
For the record... PPFA was not able to participate in any electoral work until it started it's PAC just prior to the 2004 elections. Until then they had only a C3 status which does not allow for endorsements or money raising for candidates. They then endorsed John Kerry as their first candidate. In addition they have been working the past few years to create a network of national folks to contact lawmakers and raise the volume of pro-choice voices. PPFA (and NARAL) were the main players in the 2004 March For Women's Lives, the under-reported and largest protest in American history (over 1.125 million).

These issues are complex and ever changing. The right has created a battle plan that keeps pro-choice America on the defensive constantly, with trumped up issues like 'fetal pain' and so-called 'partial birth abortion'. It is the American people who voted for right wingers who get legislation after legislation designed to take away reproductive rights. And, in response, PPFA fundraised to fight legislation in the court systems. I betcha many of you have no idea how many court battles they have fought in the name of choice and access to reproductive health care. You are correct in that PPFA, NARAL and other groups failed to win at this point. Much of this is due to many being slow to believe reproductive rights are under attack anyway and called these groups hysterical. There is truth in the accusation everyone failed in framing the issue correctly. It is true that candidates should be cut off when they are not up to pro-choice snuff, and these groups need to be accountable for that. I will agree there have been serious missteps but to write off this very important agency, who is on the front line every day, is lunacy... and quite frankly what the right wants.

PPFA does raise money, but I can tell you it is not nearly as much as the right has in their deep pockets. This battle has been raging on all fronts and has been escalating. Without Planned Parenthood affiliates across the country, many women AND men would have NO health care at all. In addition to providing basic healthcare to the severely underserved and advocating for reproductive rights on a daily basis, Planned Parenthood workers are on the front line in this battle. Many receive clinic bomb threats, anthrax treat hoaxes, hate mail and phone calls, and have to walk a gauntlet of screaming lunatics DAILY. Those folks deserve support. So PPFA not only tries to hold together the battle weary affiliates across the country, it is also working to grow support and fight bad legislation. These groups are not unlike all non-right wing groups and politicians... on the short end of the stick... unaware of how strategic and powerful their opposition had become. EVERYONE blew it and now is not the time to jump ship. We need to tell them to get strategic now and work toward electing sane folks into office.
Absolutely. The people on the front lines of Planned Parenthood are heroes, day in, day out, every day of the week. From the people who are willing to staff clinics in places like South Dakota where doing so can get you killed, to the doctors who risk flying in an out of hostile territory just do do their job out of conviction, to the people in the community who defend its right to be there. These are extremely brave souls who deserve every bit of support we can give them.

But the fact is that Planned Parenthood has now gotten into the political endorsement game, no doubt because they have to. And the credibility that their endorsement lends to political candidates in states where pro-choice actually matters, like Connecticut and Rhode Island, is huge.

While it's open to debate how much influence NARAL's decision not to support anti-choice Langevin in the Rhode Island race had on his decision to drop out, it was perceived as significant. Their endorsement may not mean a lot in Alabama, but it means a lot in solidly pro-choice New England states. Further, their decision to continue to support Lincoln Chafee and Joe Lieberman even after their disastrous vote on Samuel Alito is a signal to other Senators that is okay to vote like this in the future and keep your official pro-choice credentials in the process. NARAL and Planned Parenthood are rubber stamping these votes. How exactly do they plan on coming out and fighting the next Supreme Court Alito-lite nomination if they don't start yanking chains now?

Whenever major media outlets need an official quote from the pro-choice movement, they call NARAL and Planned Parenthood. If they are not speaking up against this bullshit, nobody is.

The problem is that in doing nothing they are actively hurting their own ability to do the good work that Planned Parenthood consistently does. If the South Dakota Rapist Rights bill goes through, it won't matter how many brave souls are willing to staff an abortion clinic, they won't be able to do so. I've said it before and I'll say it again: there is no more important task right now before the pro-choice movement than changing the balance of power in the US Senate and breaking up the Gang of 14, something that -- as Chris Bower says -- has a very good chance of happening this fall.

If Planned Parenthood and NARAL put themselves in the position of granting the pro-choice seal of approval to people who don't deserve it in places where it's really meaningful they don't really leave us much choice but to go after them as a way to go after those they continue to endorse.

I wish it were otherwise but it is not. I can scream about how Lieberman and Chafee are not truly pro-choice all day but their constituents aren't going to listen to me or any other blogger if NARAL and Planned Parenthood are telling everyone not to worry, they're great.

It shows just how behind the times these organizations are that they would put so much energy into something like the "March for Women's Lives" in this day and age when the impact of an action like that depends on the media's willingness to cover it, something they quite obviously haven't been willing to do for a good long while.

NARAL in particular is sitting on a mountain of cash they did not spend to fight the Alito nomination. They need to make a real commitment to make up for this by getting into these races early and committing all that loot they've been hoarding to fighting in the races and apply it where it can actually do some good. This is not a time for moderation. The battle for the next Supreme Court vacancy begins now, and if they don't understand it we're just going to have to keep screaming until they do.

Right now it's imperative that people like Ned Lamont get every dime they can to muster the resources to cut through the media ice. You can do what NARAL and Planned Parenthood don't seem to understand (yet) that they need to do by giving to Ned Lamont here.

Update: The Supreme Court just dealt a big blow to pro-choice clincs, saying they could not use extortion and racketeering laws against the clinic bombing, doctor killing forced birth lobby.