Few things show the intellectual bankruptcy of the GOP today more effectively than Senator James Inhofe's objection to holding a concert just outside the capitol to raise awareness about global warming.
It's a mystery why Bush and Gonzales fired the U.S. Attorneys knowing that a major shitstorm would ensue and that the Democratically-controlled Congress would investigate the hell out of it. But Ted Kennedy has a theory:
Senator Edward M. Kennedy yesterday accused President Bush of using the
Department of Justice to further his administration's "right-wing
ideology," saying that veteran prosecutors were replaced by political
operatives in key states to ensure that "reliable partisans" are in
place in time for the 2008 presidential election.
Kennedy noted that the recent rash of firings among US attorneys put
new top prosecutors in place in several presidential swing states,
including Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Arkansas.
least two of the eight US attorneys fired by the administration refused
to investigate spurious claims of voter fraud that were initiated by
Republicans, Kennedy said. Two of the new US attorneys, meanwhile, had
documented records of pursuing GOP goals, one as a Justice Department
official and the other as a top aide to White House political adviser
Karl Rove, he said.
"The administration views our system of
justice as merely another arena for furthering its right-wing
ideology," Kennedy said in a speech at the National Press Club. "The
conclusion is inescapable that the administration has methodically
placed reliable partisans in positions where they can influence the
outcome of the 2008 election."
The other two U.S. Attorneys were from Nevada and California, where the results were as follows:
California: Kerry 54%, Bush 45%
Nevada: Bush 51%, Kerry 48%
The national election results were Bush 51%, Kerry 48%. Only four out of seven of the states that were home to the sacked U.S. Attorneys had margins as narrow or narrower than the national average. Kennedy's theory sounds dubious to me.
Does Bill Donohue travel around the country looking for things to be outraged about, or does he have a staff to do that for him? And is he more outraged 1) that Jesus is depicted with chocolate-brown flesh, 2) that chocolate is, in fact, the sculptural medium, or 3) that Jesus has a penis?
Hey Bill, since you're calling for a boycott of the gallery where brown chocolate penis'd Jesus is hanging, maybe you should boycott Tom Waits while you're at it.
The Conceptual Guerilla has a fine analysis of how the GOP is attempting to frame the funding bill making its way through Congress that sets a deadline for withdrawal from Iraq. To summarize:
True to form, the Flying Monkeys have kicked into "spin cycle," trying
to establish their own frames for interpreting this situation. Three
distinct lines of attack have emerged. The first has to do with all that "pork" contained in the bill -- like this is something new. * * * The second line of attack is the claim that "the surge is starting to work." * * * [And third,] "Congress continues to pursue this bill" knowing the President is going to veto them.
How should the anti-war forces respond?
Repeat after me out on the message boards. "If the President vetoes
the supplemental spending bill, defunding the war will be his
responsibility. Congress gave him the money, he didn't want it."
To this I would add a cautionary note. The last time there was a major showdown between Congress and the President over the budget was in late 1995 and early 1996. President Clinton vetoed the federal budget passed by the Republican-controlled Congress because it made unacceptable cuts in many federal programs. Since he didn't have the votes to override the veto, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich simply refused to submit a revised budget to a vote, resulting in the partial government shutdown due to a lack of appropriated funding. Clinton was very successful at blaming Gingrich and the Republicans in Congress for the shutdown, and was re-elected in 1996. In 1998, the Republicans lost five seats in the House.
Even Karl Rove is not as clever a spinner as the Big Dog was--but there is still risk to the Democrats here. If the administration is able to successfully push the meme that it was the Democratic Congress that shut down the U.S. military, then woe betide the Dems come 2008.
Conceptual Guerilla is right: this is one framing issue the Democrats must control.
In our poll, Hillary Clinton loses to John McCain, 42-48%, and to
Rudy Giuliani 41-50%. Even though Clinton maintains a 7% edge over
Obama among Democratic respondents, Obama fares better in the general
election match-ups. It's so close that it's a statistical dead-heat,
but Obama still loses: 43-45% to McCain, 44-45% to Giuliani.
It's hard to know exactly why respondents who are generally
unhappy towards --and in many cases fed up with -- the GOP might still
prefer a Republican for president over a Democrat. Much of it has to do
with the individual candidates involved. In Clinton's case, as TIME
pollster Mark Shulman points out, "with Hillary the Democratic
front-runner, most voters have made up their minds about her, both pro
and con. She may have limited upward potential against Republicans. The
emerging anti-Hillaries, Obama and Edwards, suffer from low awareness
at this point."
This is precisely why, despite many favorable omens, the Democrats cannot afford to be complacent about 2008. And given the large number of people who say nohow noway would they pull a lever for Hillary Clinton, this is why Democrats should give more serious consideration to Edwards and Obama.
It always struck me as ironic that while "Parents' Television Council" called Buffy the Vampire Slayer the least family-friendly show on TV, it was the show around which my wife and children and I really bonded. But my kids are growing up now, and with a twinge of regret I think of this:
Sorry, Fred. You can't be President. See, you're not a Christian. Well, at least you're not a "a committed Christian—someone who talks openly about his faith." James Dobson says so, and he sits at the right hand of god, so it must be true.
If I could point to a single passage that summed up the multiple failures of the Bush administration, it would be this one:
The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the
reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe
that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible
reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment
principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the
world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and
when we act, we create our own reality.
That comment was made back in October of 2004. Harold Meyerson thinks that two and a half years later, reality is still problematic for the GOP:
[T]he alternative reality conveyed by the Republican media -- Fox News,
Rush Limbaugh and their ilk -- has created a Republican activist base
that is genuinely not reality-based, and from which the current
generation of Republican pols is disproportionately drawn.
Perhaps that's why so many of the administration's actions seem frankly puzzling to us progressive types. A lot of things Bush & Co. have done just don't make sense. I don't mean I disagree with them politically; I mean they just seem irrational:
Why did Bush ever invade Iraq?
Why was his administration so inept at handling Hurricane Katrina and wounded soldiers?
Why would the administration out one of its own spies just because her husband wrote something they didn't like?
Why would the Justice Department plan and execute an illegal mass firing of U.S. Attorneys after the Democrats had taken power in Congress, when they themselves knew it would touch off a vigorous inquiry?
These actions are explicable only if we understand that for this administration, reality is what they want it to be.
There's been a lot written recently about how isolated Bush is now. The truth of the matter is that he and his true believers have been isolated from objective reality for six years--and those realities are now pushing back.
Six years ago, "It's the economy, stupid" was the banner that hung in Bill Clinton's campaign HQ. It was there to remind the campaign staff and the voters what the central issue of the day was.
If there is to be a banner in the office of the victorious 2008 Democratic Presidential candidate, I'd suggest that it read, "It's energy, stupid." Energy policy could--and should--be the Unified Field Theory of the 2008 election. It touches foreign policy, the environment, the economy, tax policy, education policy, trade policy, and just about everything else the government does from running the post office to running the war in Iraq. In the right hands, energy could be the centerpiece of a highly cogent, successful campaign.
Manufacturing jobs heading south? We can make the domestic non-fossil energy industry bigger than the auto industry.
Balance of trade trending deeper into the red? The U.S. should be building and exporting solar panels, geothermal generation units, wind farm components, fuel cells, high-capacity batteries, hydrogen transmission and storage equipment, ethanol plants, biodiesel technology, ultra-efficient appliances and homepower rigs. At the same time, we can reduce what we spend to import oil and natural gas.
Environment in trouble? We can cut our emissions of greenhouse gasses by switching to renewables.
Foreign policy in shambles? Reducing our dependence on energy from unstable, hostile and oppressive governments will allow us to conduct foreign relations in a way more truly consistent with democratic values and American interests.
Losing our edge in education and innovation? A huge investment in math and science education will revitalize U.S. technical education and allow us to regain our lead in these fields.
It was with these thoughts in mind that I was especially interested in Chaoslillith's excellent comparative piece on the Democandidates' energy proposals. I was not surprised to see that as in other areas, John Edwards has the most detailed and comprehensive plans out there. Richardson's ideas are also impressive, if not as fleshed out as Edwards's.
My wonky side is attracted to candidates who spell out in specific detail what they intend to do. I recognize, though, that in laying out policy proposals for health care, taxation and energy in such detail, Edwards is opening himself up to criticism from other candidates who have not offered plans of their own for analysis. Maybe Edwards should start calling his opponents Hillary "No-Plans" Clinton and Barack "No-Plans" Obama. He might also draw the analogy to the occupation of Iraq: see what happens when we elect a President who has some vague, general ideas about what he wants to do but no carefully thought-out plans for how he's going to do them?