Archive for August, 2007

Wishful Thinking
August 28, 2007

Here’s something kind of interesting in this article about Bob Ney’s besieged Democratic successor:

Both parties see Mr. Space’s seat as an important prize. The 18th Congressional District, which Mr. Space represents, is Republican territory; President Bush received 57 percent of the vote here in 2004. Winning the seat is essential for Republicans to regain control of the House next year, said David Cohen, a political science professor at the University of Akron. [Emphasis mine]

Huh. Does anyone actually see this as a possibility? It seems like since 2006 the goal of the Republican Party has just been to avoid hemorrhaging more seats. Sure they might be able to take this particular seat back, but overall what are the odds another coup as dramatic as 2006 but in reverse?


August 27, 2007

Jesus. You spend one little news-free day moving into college and when you come back the Attorney General of the United States is suddenly gone.

So the question is, did his resignation have more to do with the fired prosecutors scandal or the warrantless wiretapping scandal? My money’s on the latter – there must be something incriminating in those documents Leahy requested from the White House. And the clock is still ticking for them to turn them over.

A brief blogging hiatus from my indefinite hiatus
August 25, 2007

Almost packed. In the meantime, I just found out today that I’m going to be interning for the fall semester at Talking Points Memo. I’m really excited, as this this is something of a dream internship for me. The thing is, and this is the chief reason why I’m mentioning the internship here, that and classes are going to be keeping me really busy for the semester. So that’s going to cut into the time I spend writing and posting stuff here.

Just keep in mind that while you might see a lot fewer posts here with my name on them, it’s because I’m doing work related to a blog with literally more than three times my readership.*

*Much, much, much more

August 24, 2007

College is looming. On Sunday I’ll be moving into my dorm at NYU, so I’m going on indefinite hiatus as of now to pack, move and get settled. I’ll start posting again when I’m settled in, whatever that means.

August 23, 2007

Taylor Marsh is so indignant about the tone Edwards has been taking lately that she accidentally forgot to listen to the actual substance of what he’s saying.

They just left out the Clinton money quote Edwards used today, which is straight out of the right-wing playbook. There are plenty of ways to come at Clinton on the issues, especially Iraq. But if this is the Edwards re-launch, I hope it makes a turn into better territory. Because between Obama’s “Bush-Cheney lite” and Edwards talking about “The Lincoln Bedroom is not for rent,” I’ve got to say that these guys sound positively desperate.

What does it matter whose playbook it’s out of if it’s correct?

August 23, 2007

The messy thing about installing a democracy in another country is sometimes you don’t like who they vote for.

As bad as the White House has been with the occupation of Iraq militarily, politically it’s been a complete joke. Check this out:

After the 2005 elections in Iraq, Blackwill wrote a laudatory op-ed in The Wall Street Journal praising Allawi’s strategy for crushing the insurgency: “Mr. Allawi’s message is simple: Join us in building the new Iraq and accept its benefits or, if you support the insurgency, get ready to die.”

As it happened, the strategy didn’t live up to its promises. The elections knocked Allawi out of power, as his tenure ended up alienating a large swath of the majority Shiite population. His attempts at enlisting American support to return to office — a perennial rumor in Washington
over the past two years — have all fallen short. Evidently, though, Blackwill and BGR evidently think that the time is right to get the old gang back together.

So a Senator Levin, the president, and a GOP lobbying firm all seem to want as prime minister the guy who got voted out of office the first time around for severely alienating a portion of Iraq that already feels thoroughly marginalized and trampled upon. Sounds like an awesome way to end that sectarian strife.

August 23, 2007

I’d say right now that the Bush administration’s attempts at secrecy have reached a new level of ridiculous, but of course that’s probably not true. Be fair, though; it’d be pretty hard. And they’re clearly trying.

Anyway, let’s hope this gets laughed out of court [emphasis mine].

The Bush administration argued in court papers this week that the White House Office of Administration is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act as part of its effort to fend off a civil lawsuit seeking the release of internal documents about a large number of e-mails missing from White House servers.

The claim, made in a motion filed Tuesday by the Justice Department, is at odds with a depiction of the office on the White House’s own Web site. As of yesterday, the site listed the Office of Administration as one of six presidential entities subject to the open-records law, which is commonly known by its abbreviation, FOIA.

Not absurd enough for you? Try this on for size.

Thanks to widespread efforts to understand what the NSA’s highly classified warrantless surveillance program is — from journalists, from legal scholars, from national security experts, from elected officials — the Bush administration was forced last month to reveal too much about how the program operates, in order to correct misunderstandings. And that means, McConnell said, “Americans are going to die.”

If there’s one civics lesson that the administration has taught to Americans again and again it’s that in a democracy, openly debating national security-related initiatives is about the deadliest thing you can do.

And I know this has been said before, but how stupid does the Bush Administration think these terrorists really are? Not even the dumbest lackey in the dumbest mob movie is going to openly discuss business on a phone line he doesn’t know is totally secure. We’re supposed to believe that Al Qaeda had never heard of wiretaps before all the newspapers started running stories about FISA?

August 22, 2007

Could someone please explain to me what the big deal here is?

This old Free Republic post contains the text of [Republican Louisiana gubernatorial candidate] Jindal’s “How Catholicism is Different” article, which is now the focus of a Democratic Party attack ad against him. It won’t likely be up long, as the magazine is aggressively seeking to expunge versions of the piece from the web to protect Jindal.

Aside from the fact that it’s written like a legal brief, apparently to make it seem “authoritative”, it really is a slap across the face of all non-Catholic Christians.

Jindal’s article has a lot of deliberately obfuscatory pseudo-intellectual talk so I’m just going to quote directly from Kos’s summaries of each component of the argument:

Summary: Catholics are right, everyone else is wrong.

Summary: Catholicism is infallible, all other religions are burdened with utterly depraved minds subject to subjective interpretations leading to anarchy and heresy.

Or even more concisely: Non-Catholics are anarchic heretics.

Summary: Jesus was a Catholic, not a protestant.

Summary: Anyone leaving the Catholic Church is a heretic.

Summary: Luther was an idiot.

Summary: My church is big and old and can kick your church’s ass.

Pretty controversial stuff, if you’re not a Catholic. But there’s really no reason to be surprised that Jindal would believe all of this stuff. It kind of comes with the territory of being a member of any religion. If you’re Catholic, obviously Protestants are heretics. If you’re Protestant/Jewish/Muslim/Hindu/etc., every single adherent to any religion not your own in deeply and profoundly wrong on many of the most basic matters of human existence.

It’s something that liberals and pretty much anyone interested in the idea of religious tolerance get uncomfortable with, but there’s really no way around it besides perhaps some kind of Gaimanesque omni-pantheon. It’s simply not possible to have faith that something exists without the corresponding belief that a contradictory entity or event does not exist.

Religious conservatives tend to be a lot more up front about this than liberals. And while it may expose one of the bigger problems with religion in general, it makes us look a bit ridiculous when we get the vapors because a Catholic thinks that Protestant beliefs are dead wrong.

And while we’re on the subject, the idea that tolerance of religion means that religious convictions, unlike any other form of belief, are magically above criticism in an open society is absurd.

August 21, 2007

Unsurprisingly, some are upset that Leahy has responded to the Bush administration’s snubbing of his deadline for turning over documents by … extending the deadline. And sure it makes him look toothless right now, but there’s a good reason for extending the deadline until after recess.

If Leahy starts handing out subpoenas right before August recess, he’s giving the White House a month to let the whole scandal drop off the headlines and then when Congress comes back into session the story is effectively buried. But if he gets on this right after Congress goes back in session, he’ll have all the press coverage he needs.

So the real question is, why was the deadline right before a recess anyway?

August 19, 2007

This is the Edwards I’ve been waiting to see. It’s a good move on his part.

From Ida Grove to Pocahontas, from Onawa to Osage, Mr. Edwards, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, led a 7-day, 31-stop barnstorming tour of rural Iowa this week billed as the “Fighting for One America” tour — and fighting was an apt choice of words.

At each stop, he let out the same battle cry: a populist attack on big oil, big pharmaceutical companies, big insurance companies and corporate lobbyists in Washington. These he described as being “powerful insiders” that had “rigged the system” against the ordinary working man, leaving him poorer, degrading the environment and blocking access to affordable health care.

At the end of the day, passion is what’s going to resonate with voters; not Obama’s vague platitudes about optimism or Clinton’s nonsense about corporate lobbyists representing real Americans. A lot of people are very angry for the right reasons and they’re looking for a candidate who shares their righteous indignation.

The one risk that comes out of this is that what happened to Howard Dean will happen to Edwards – namely, the press will sink him by portraying him as angry, “abrasive,” etc.

“There’s a fine line between passion and anger,” said David P. Redlawsk, an associate professor of political science at the University of Iowa and director of the university’s political poll. “It’s too early to tell which side of the line he is straddling. If he seems to be purely angry all the time, it will fail. People are not interested in a guy who is always angry.”

In the modern terminology of the campaign press, anger, even totally justified anger, is automatically a bad thing. That’s what makes this such a big risk, and it’s yet another reason why Edwards should be applauded. He could have easily clung to his safe 2004 persona as a smooth, inoffensive ken doll – but that’s a cynical thing to do when you’re running on real issues. The basis of Edwards’ platform is poverty, and there’s plenty to be furious about there. I would doubt his sincerity if he weren’t.

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