Friday, January 13, 2006

Via Digby, I noticed this Bush quote:

But one way people can help as we're coming down the pike in the 2006 elections, is remember the effect that rhetoric can have on our troops in harm's way, and the effect that rhetoric can have in emboldening or weakening an enemy.

Bubble Boy's concern about the "the tone of this debate" is tied up with the 2006 elections.

It's right there in black and white.

The degree to which he cares about the elections, compared to the troops and that pesky emboldening o' the enemy, is of course a matter of speculation.

But, the 2006 elections are part of the equation.

My profuse apologies for noticing that he plays politics with the very lives of the people in the military. I will shut up and go back to watching TV now.

Gushing for the weeper

Thrust Into Limelight and for Some a Symbol of Washington's Bite

(Emphasis added.)

Republicans held her up as a victim of Democrats' browbeating, while Democrats, backpedaling, insisted it was a Republican, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who caused Mrs. Alito's upset.

From this very same article:

On Wednesday, one of those Republicans, Mr. Graham, tried to mock the Democrats with a question about the alumni group, which opposed affirmative action.

"Are you really a closet bigot?" Mr. Graham asked, at which point Mrs. Alito drew her hands to her face and left the hearing room weeping.

Back to the tut-tutting:

One fact was not in dispute: Mrs. Alito has generated sympathy for her husband in the hearing room and, perhaps, beyond Washington among Americans who had otherwise tuned out.

Interesting use of the word "fact." And, no mention of people who thought the sympathy and the outburst were bogus.

On to the fawning:

In some ways, Mrs. Alito is a classic suburban mother, working part-time as a substitute teacher when she is not shuttling her teenage daughter, a champion swimmer, to practices and meets. Friends say she has devoted the last 20 years to raising her children and supporting her husband and his career.

She is, they say, an extremely intelligent and well-read woman who orders restaurant meals in fluent French and recently took a philosophy class for intellectual stimulation.

"She's like a renaissance person," Susan Engelman Volkert, an employment lawyer who, along with her husband, Judge Donald J. Volkert Jr. of Superior Court in Essex County, N.J., has been friends with the Alitos for two decades. "She knows a little about music, a little about art. She's very active in sports and has been active in the community.

"And the role that she plays in life is that she has stayed home and raised two beautiful children, and of course been there for him."

A renaissance person AND a conservative idol housemommy. A rare breed, for sure.

She has sat behind him all week, a pleasant-looking woman in sensible clothes, peering through rimless glasses as Democrats grilled Judge Alito about his investments and his affiliation with a conservative Princeton alumni group and Republicans tried to provide him some relief.

I surprised that this paragraph doesn't read "as those nasty, mean Democrats grilled Judge Alito..."

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Texas Redistricting Is One More Hurdle for DeLay

Local Republican leaders play down the chances that Mr. DeLay will be defeated in a district that remains predominantly Republican.

"The only people who consider this possible are clearly delusional," said Eric Thode, Republican chairman in Mr. DeLay's home county of Fort Bend. "It's not a competitive district. It's not even an issue."


"Despite everything, it's extremely difficult to dislodge Tom DeLay in a district with such a strong Republican base and a strong, straight-ticket Republican voting trend," said Ted Delisi, a Republican strategist in Austin.


"I am sure the Democrats are going to pour money into this race," said Jared Woodfill, the Harris County Republican chairman. "But I think the congressman is going to be successful in March and in November. What is different this cycle is that people on both sides have started working harder and earlier."

That is some in-depth reporting. Three different Republican officials, and they all support the Bugman. Do they all like ice cream and puppy dogs, Mom and apple pie, too? Sadly, the article does not explore this.

In a poll for The Houston Chronicle last March, for instance, 40 percent of the respondents in Mr. DeLay's district said their opinion of him had dropped in the previous year. And a USA Today/Gallup poll in early December showed Mr. DeLay with a favorability rating of just 37 percent, and had him losing to an unnamed Democratic opponent 49 percent to 36 percent.

Mr. DeLay and his supporters question the polls' methodologies and say his support is significantly stronger. "We have our own internal polls showing us doing much better," Mr. DeLay said, flipping that silver dollar.

Translation: "We'll rig this election just fine, thank you very much. Just watch."
Local Insurgents Tell of Clashes With Al Qaeda's Forces in Iraq

This has the potential to be good news. Assuming that the insurgents can neutralize Al Qaida, and assuming that the insurgents then fold into the political, non-blowing stuff up process. Smarter people than me can weigh in on the likelihood of all that.

But. All I can think of, considering recent history, is that the four men interviewed for this article are plants. They are either not who they say they are, or they are who they say they are, but their interview was prompted or bought by either the U.S. or the Iraqi politicians.

This is what it means when an administration has no credibility, and engages in propaganda. Even cautious good news is suspect. All news is suspect.

We're gonna need Truth and Reconciliation hearings in this country in order to move forward.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Police arrest suspect in Starbucks bomb case

A bomb in a Starbucks, in San Francisco. Are the cops sure that O'Reilly didn't have something to do with this?

Update: Dammit. Holden beat me to this. Right down to the "hmmm," too. Eerie.

Playing ping-pong with the 4th Amendment

Probe Set In NSA Bugging

The National Security Agency's inspector general has opened an investigation into eavesdropping without warrants in the United States...

The Pentagon's acting inspector general, Thomas F. Gimble...[said] that his office would decline to launch its own investigation because of the ongoing NSA probe.

Another inspector general, Glenn A. Fine of the Justice Department, [said] in a recent letter that his office does not have jurisdiction.


Justice officials said the request has been referred to the department's Office of Professional Responsibility. As the current attorney general and previous White House counsel, Alberto R. Gonzales played a central role in reviewing the wiretapping effort's legality and has strongly defended it in recent public statements.

I'm sure we'll get answers real soon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

No thank you

If anyone had asked me if I wanted to live through a redux of the Nixon / Watergate era, I would have impolitely declined.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Representative of ... whoever wrote the biggest check

Change Is Coming: The Question Is Just How Much

...One of Washington's best-regarded lobbyists, Robert E. Juliano, has been talking up public financing of elections as a way to remove the taint that money in politics has brought. In my view that's a noble but impractical idea. Taxpayers won't long tolerate paying for politicians' campaigns with their hard-earned dollars.

Why wouldn't they? A small tax on every citizen, a shared burden. And a much more direct stake in the person that is representing them in Congress.

Suppose I live in Springfield. Suppose also that, miracle of miracles, the U.S. Congressional district which encompasses Springfield matches the geographic borders of Springfield.

So, Springfield now needs to elect itself a Congressperson. The current system has the interested parties, Quimby and Wiggum for example, spending lots of their time getting people to give them money. They spend the money on their campaigns, most significantly on advertising. Who benefits from this? The donors, because the candidates are beholden to them, and the media companies, who get the advertising dollars.

That's a pretty small group of people being directly and actively served.

Under public financing, everyone citizen has to pay a share of the campaign costs. A candidate would be beholden to the citizens. A candidate would spend his or her time engaging as many citizens as possible. Basically, it would be a long job interview process, as opposed to a fund-raising and media offensive process, which does nothing but distance the candidates from the citizens.

Or perhaps we plebes should just be grateful and subservient to our financial betters. Perhaps I should just recognize that my check is not large enough to actually give me a voice, and be thankful that I am still allowed to pull the lever in the voting booth every now and again. Oh dear, I realize now that I may have spoken out of turn. A thousand to do my penance now.