When President Bush erased the prison term of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, he reinforced some Americans’ perception that status can affect justice, according to the judge who sentenced Libby.
Walton, whom Bush nominated to the District of Columbia bench, acknowledged Tuesday that Bush’s decision was part of the system, but he also said it fed some people’s notion that justice isn’t equal.
“The downside is there are a lot of people in America who think that justice is determined to a large degree by who you are and that what you have plays a large role in what kind of justice you receive. . . . It is crucial that the American public respect the rule of law, or people won’t follow it.”
That was not the message Dubya sent at all (besides, it’s not like anyone needed him to spell it out for them). No, his message was that if you break the law on his behalf, he’ll see to it that you’re untouchable.
If it’s not a pardon, it’s the all-purpose handy-dandy shield of Executive Privilege, or State Secrets. Even if they’re completely groundless, they can be used to drag the congressional investigation process out until the Democrats give up and the public forgets, or until the next president takes office. (Yes, I’m assuming that that will be Congress’s cue to drop all pending investigations – you got a problem with that?)
So if he ever asks you to break the law for him, you should totally do it ‘cuz he’s got your back. Too bad he’s having trouble getting Congress to help out his telecom buddies…
3 commentsApril 30th, 2008 at 11:10pmPosted by Eli
Apparently they’ve been incredibly close friends for decades, but Democrats have been close friends before without campaigning for each other. Or, more specifically, without the Democrat campaigning on behalf of the Republican…
NBC confirmed that Huffington wouldn’t be booked on any NBC-affiliated show to promote her book, but refused to explain why. Huffington’s people say that this is Tim Russert’s doing, that Russert is out for revenge because Huffington called him a “conventional wisdom zombie” in her book and devoted seven pages to faulting Russert for allowing his Meet the Press guests to go unchallenged (not to mention HuffPo’s RussertWatch).
If Huffington’s claim is true and Russert has been pulling rank with NBC, then this whole affair smacks of immature middle-school antics. Is Russert really that sensitive that he can’t take criticism from Huffington? And if he truly thinks his show hasn’t become an outlet for Bush administration figures to push their message uncontested (as Huffington suggests), then shouldn’t he bring Huffington on and challenge her assertions? Or, at the very least, allow Huffington to go on another NBC show?
Way to prove that Arianna was totally wrong and you really are a Totally Awesome Journalist Of Integrity, Timmeh. Well played.
WEEKLY World News sources have confirmed that a professor at Webster University… is in possession of a book that was printed on another world. What’s more, the thick volume isn’t a cookbook.
“It’s an alien bible,” said 41- year-old linguistics professor, Dr. Emmanuel Johnson, whose skill with foreign languages has earned him the nickname “Magic.” “And wait till you hear who their god is!”
The book was discovered by construction workers who were on their lunch break at the ‘Big Dig,’ the city’s new interstate tunnel. While the workers watched TV, the foreman was crushing soda cans against his massive forehead. When he ran out of them, he looked for something else to prove he was a hardhead as well as a hardhat. That was when he saw a large container half-buried in the earth. He dug it out, struck it hard against his brow and passed out. The vessel was unharmed but one of the workers spotted strange writing on the outside. Dr. Johnson was summoned along with paramedics.
“The first thing I noticed was that the markings were not the petroglyphs of Native Americans,” Dr. Johnson said. “There were numbers and mathematical signs. One of them almost looked like the letters UPN and NBC. If I didn’t know better I’d have sworn they were a TV schedule.”
Back in his library, Dr. Johnson opened the container.
“Being whacked against the foreman’s head had loosened the top,” Dr. Johnson said. “It popped right off. I began to wonder if, in fact, that was how the aliens opened containers on their world. If so, they must have suffered brain damage over time.”
Inside, Dr. Johnson found a small, thick book. The cover illustration showed a constellation that bore the unmistakable likeness of Oprah Winfrey. Stunned, he opened the book, which consisted of multicolored, cloth-like materials. The writing glowed when the professor looked at it.
“It was an illuminated manuscript,” Dr. Johnson explained. “I was immediately able to translate the title, which is called Their Eyes Are Watching Me. The book was comprised of two sections: A Sacred Alien Testament: Written and a Sacred Alien Testament: Oral.”
“The Written Testament is the shorter of the two. Apparently, the aliens didn’t like to read much,” said Dr. Johnson. “The text explains that Oprahs exist on many worlds. There are probably colonies of them throughout the universe, possibly a Planet of the Oprahs. They all spring from the Oprah who wrote the alien bible. It is likely that Earth’s own Ms. Winfrey is descended from these beings.
“The Oral Testament actually speaks to the reader,” Dr. Johnson revealed. “Naturally, it talks in the authoritative but reassuring voice of Oprah.
“It begins with a section called ‘Syndication,’ which encourages aliens to do good deeds on other worlds, including the Earth,” Dr. Johnson continued. “We suspect that the alien visitors who owned this bible were missionaries, members of Oprah’s ‘The Angel Connection.’ It instructs acolytes on the basics of worship, including the use of something called ‘the remote.’
“Then there’s a section called ‘The Boutique’ where you can obtain items like loungewear for worship, mugs for sacred beverages and caps to show your devotion to the ‘Big O’ as she is also called. This is followed by ‘The Books of Oprah’ which are a collection of stories and poems she likes. Most of these were written by an angel named Maya. Next there’s a chapter called ‘Ooooo’ which is all about the do’s and don’ts of sex. Finally, there’s a very thin section on dealing with ‘loss’ — weight loss. The foundation of the diet is the consumption of something called ‘stedman graham crackers.’ This chapter contains erasures which suggest that it was once much, much thicker. “We have only begun to delve into the volume, which is extremely complex.”
Dr. Johnson intends to continue his studies of the alien bible and the other artifacts from the Big Dig.
“All I can say is I hope the aliens return to Earth,” he told Weekly World News. “They’d be impressed at how much Oprah has influenced our own culture!”
I believe the ur-Oprah that all other Oprahs are descended from is known as “The Grand Ol’ Oprah.”
I’m always interested to see just how much it takes to get fired from the Bush administration. You have to be either pretty good or really bad. Lurita Doan was not pretty good.
Lurita Doan, head of the General Services Administration, was forced to offer her resignation tonight, according to an e-mail she sent out this evening.
Doan was appointed in late May, 2006, becoming the first woman to serve as GSA Administrator. With 12,000 empioyees and a $20 billion annual budget, GSA has responsibilty for overseeing the thousands of building and properties owned by the federal government.
Doan became the subject of congressional scrutiny last year for allegedly using GSA to help Republican lawmakers win re-election. Doan denied the allegation, but her appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was disastrous. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the panel, called on Doan to resign over the allegations, but Doan refused to do so.
Now that Hillary has decided to follow Obama’s lead and legitimize Fox News as A Serious News Organization That Serious People Take Seriously, I thought I would offer up a video tutorial on how best to approach her interview with Bill O’Reilly:
It was a mistake for Obama to go on FOX’s Sunday show and treat the experience as if it was a real news interview. Democratic politicians need to understand that FOX is a Republican mouthpiece masquerading as a news outlet. When dealing with FOX, you either burn them or they will burn you.
FOX’s power lies not in its audience size – which is puny and consists mostly of unpersuadable voters. Instead, FOX’s power comes from tricking politicians and real journalists into treating their “breaking stories” like real news, thereby propelling smears like the Swift Boats and Rev. Wright into the mainstream political dialogue. That’s why progressives fought (successfully) last year to deprive FOX of the legitimacy that comes with hosting a Democratic presidential debate. And that’s why Democratic politicians should never treat FOX like a real news outlet – including FOX’s Sunday show.
The interview began with a question about Obama’s race – implying that white people won’t vote for him. Instead of “taking FOX on” and saying FOX’s questions are premised on Republican talking points, Obama simply answered. So, Wallace kept going – asking more than 10 straight race-related questions, all skewed against Obama. (One laughably began with, “I wasn’t sure whether I was even going to ask you about your former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, but…”) One of these rigged questions got Obama to say, “The fact that he is my former pastor I think makes it a legitimate political issue” – resulting in John McCainquoting Obama hours later, hinting to right-wing allies that Rev. Wright is fair game.
FOX also asked a bunch of questions aimed at getting Obama to distance himself from Democrats and progressives. Because Obama didn’t “take on” the Republican framing of these questions, Obama was cornered into saying things like, “I think there are a whole host of areas where Republicans in some cases may have a better idea [than Democrats]” and parroting the right-wing caricature of “Chablis-drinking limousine liberals” and boasting about being “fiercely attacked” by bloggers at Daily Kos.
Enough. Democratic politicians, for your own benefit: stop legitimizing FOX.
You know, I bet Howard Dean could have given Obama some great pointers, had he bothered to ask. First and foremost would have been, Don’t accept the premise of anything they ask you, and point out their role as a right-wing propaganda outlet every chance you get. Obama did neither.
Factually, the state of Indiana had a few good things going for it. The District Court made a number of factual findings that strengthened its case (although, for the reasons set out in Justice Souter’s opinion, still not to the point I would have swallowed it). For example, the District Court “found that petitioners had “not introduced evidence of a single, individual Indiana resident who will be unable to vote as a result of [the Indiana Law] or who will have his or her right to vote unduly burdened by its requirements.” Furthermore, the District Court found that 99% of voting-age public had a driver’s license. So the number of potentially harmed people was low. (While opinions differ as to whether this fact should matter in a facial challenge — 1% of voters is still high — it won’t be an issue in an as-applied challenge.)
And, one key fact of future significance is that the state offers all citizens a free photo ID. That allowed the three Justices in the lead opinion to distinguish this case from a poll tax. Many other states charge for non-driver photo ID — such as Florida for example. I read this decision to suggest pretty strongly that there are six votes for the proposition that any state which charges for photo ID cannot constitutionally require that voters show a photo ID in order to vote, as this would in effect be a poll tax. (I hope this result doesn’t get lost in the lower court shuffle that is sure to follow.)
This is still not an ideal ruling by any stretch of the imagination, as even the hassle of getting even a free photo ID, especially if there aren’t any DMV offices nearby – but at least it sounds like it makes the photo ID requirement dependent on said IDs being free. Which should dilute their ability to function as a stealth poll tax.
I wonder: Could the same grassroots organizations that give people rides to the polls also give people rides to the DMV to get their photo ID? It shouldn’t be at all hard to raise gas money, right?
I forgot to comment on this the first time around, but since Gail Collins has been helpful enough to comment on it, I figured I get another chance…
McCain’s special It’s Time for Action Tour was in the impoverished Kentucky town of Inez on Wednesday, so he was unable to make it to Washington to vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This is the bill that would restore workers’ ability to go to court in cases of pay discrimination.
But McCain was not ducking the issue. After all, this is a man who told the folks in Youngstown, Ohio — where most of the working single mothers cannot make it above the poverty line — that the answer to their problems is larger tax deductions. He is fearless when it comes to delivering unpleasant news to people who are probably not going to vote for him anyway.
So McCain made it clear that if he had been in Washington, he would have voted no because the bill “opens us up for lawsuits, for all kinds of problems and difficulties.”
How much straighter can talk get? True, this is pretty much like saying that you’re voting against the federal budget because it involves spending. Still, there is no denying that a bill making it possible for people who have been discriminated against to go to court for redress would open somebody up to the possibility of a lawsuit.
See, that’s the problem with laws. The more laws you have, the more opportunities there are for lawsuits, and those damn trial lawyers all get rich. Better to just get rid of laws completely. Sure, we’d end up like Darfur or Afghanistan, but at least we wouldn’t have to worry about lawsuits.
2 commentsApril 26th, 2008 at 01:55pmPosted by Eli
A Fort Bragg soldier’s father uploaded a YouTube video of photos he took of his son’s barracks earlier this month. The video shows the deplorable living conditions to which his son and the other soldiers of his unit in the 82nd Airborne Division returned after a 15-month-long deployment to Afghanistan.
The most shocking photo, in my opinion, is the one of the soldier standing in the latrine sink, trying to unstop a drain, while human excrement and urine fills the floor below him….
The video was made by Edward Frawley, the father of a sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division who returned from Afghanistan on April 13 and is among the soldiers now living in the barracks.”This is unbelievable,” Frawley says in the video. “It’s disgusting. It makes me mad as hell. If these buildings were in any city in America and were called apartments, dormitories, they would be condemned.”
This is disgusting. These guys just spent 15 months fighting Taliban in the mountains of Afghanistan and this is what they come home to. America has three-quarters of a billion dollars to spend on the embassy in Baghdad, but our troops have to live like this. It’s a disgrace.
Gotta start balancing the budget somewhere, so I guess you might as well start with the people who are risking their lives in hellish conditions for 15 months at a time. That seems reasonable – wouldn’t want to touch any of the really indispensable stuff like the Iraqupation, and tax cuts for the wealthy investor class.
Just some random photos which don’t necessarily have anything to do with the implosion, although a couple of them are in the general vicinity.
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Silver balloon on the ceiling. I would have liked to get more pictures of the cool reflections, but there were coworkers trickling by, and I don’t really like having an audience.
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Tipped-over desk near the implosion site.
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Corrugated wall of the parking lot right next to the implosion site.
Hey, remember when the Republicans made that huge stink about MoveOn getting a discounted rate for their General Betray Us ad (as we know, The Most Horrible And Unpatriotic Ad Evar)? Wonder if they’ll have anything to say about this:
Republican presidential candidate John McCain got a deal when his campaign rented gathering space from the city of Homewood for a private fundraiser earlier this week.
His campaign was given a discount of about 80 percent off the standard booking rate for Rosewood Hall. In September, Jefferson County Democrats rented the same facility and were charged the full rate.
The McCain campaign was charged $250 to use two rooms in the hall, which normally would book for $1,200 on a weeknight. The campaign also was given free labor from Homewood City Jail inmates to set up tables and chairs for the event, avoiding a $100 set-up fee, but did pay a standard $50 cleaning fee.
Homewood Mayor Barry McCulley said the rental rate was discounted because the event was on Monday, a slow day for business. City Council members say they always vote on such discounts but didn’t get a say in this deal. They’re upset, as are local Democrats.
“I think it’s outrageous,” said Robert Yarbrough, chairman of the Jefferson County Democratic Party and a Homewood resident.
“I was charged full book rate. I was never offered any free inmate services to set up for my event. Mayor McCulley owes an apology to every citizen in Homewood as to why he arbitrarily changed the fee for this out-of-state senator from Arizona.”
McCulley said he and City Council President Ginger Busby agreed on the lower rate for McCain’s event. He said minor policy changes such as this don’t require council approval.
City Councilman David Hooks said that the council typically debates and votes each time there is a request to discount or waive the rent, but that didn’t happen this time.
“I’d be concerned with the legal ramifications of that, from the city’s perspective,” Hooks said. “It could be a problem for the city to have made in-kind donations to a political candidate by charging less rent or having inmates do work for the event.”
Yeah, I’m sure the Republicans will be denouncing this preferential treatment any day now. A-ny day now…
[Llewellyn] Werner, chairman of C3, a Los Angeles-based holding company for private equity firms, is pouring millions of dollars into developing the Baghdad Zoo and Entertainment Experience, a massive American-style amusement park that will feature a skateboard park, rides, a concert theatre and a museum. It is being designed by the firm that developed Disneyland. “The people need this kind of positive influence. It’s going to have a huge psychological impact,” Mr Werner said.
Mr Werner, who has been sold a 50-year lease on the site by the Mayor of Baghdad for an undisclosed sum, says that the time is ripe for the amusement park. “I think people will embrace it. They’ll see it as an opportunity for their children regardless if they’re Shia or Sunni. They’ll say their kids deserve a place to play and they’ll leave it alone.”
Riiiight. That’ll totally happen.
The project will cost $500 million (£250 million) and will be managed by Iraqis. Under the terms of the lease, Mr Werner will retain exclusive rights to housing and hotel developments, which he says will be both culturally sensitive and enormously profitable. “I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t making money,” he said. “I also have this wonderful sense that we’re doing the right thing – we’re going to employ thousands of Iraqis. But mostly everything here is for profit.”
Wow, what a humanitarian. I’m all verklempt.
The park’s most popular attraction will be Not-Getting-Shot-At-Land, but I hear they’re having some trouble constructing it.
How crazy and intolerant is the Religious Right? This many:
In 1952, when Harry Truman called for a National Day of Prayer, now celebrated annually on the first Thursday of May, it was meant to encourage Americans of all faiths to pray with one another in whatever way felt best to them. It would be an ecumenical celebration of faith that would draw people together in common religious and spiritual contemplation. One can only imagine what Truman would think of this year’s event, the planning for which has been marred by bitter squabbling over who should be allowed to participate.
Shirley Dobson, wife of James Dobson, the conservative founder of Focus on the Family, is this year’s chairperson of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a non-governmental organization based in Focus on the Family’s offices in Colorado Springs and charged with organizing various events. According to Jay Keller, national field director of the Interfaith Alliance, Dobson has made a point of “excluding Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Buddhists, and even mainline Christians” from the National Day of Prayer.
Thanks to Dobson, this year’s task force volunteers are required to sign pledges, stating: “I commit that NDP activities I serve with will be conducted solely by Christians while those of differing beliefs are welcome to attend.” Volunteers must also affirm that they “believe that the Holy Bible is the inerrant Word of The Living God” and that “Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only One by which I can obtain salvation and have an ongoing relationship with God.” Such oaths violate the non-sectarian nature of the National Day of Prayer and clearly align “a government-sponsored event with a particular Christian denomination, in violation of the basic provisions of the First Amendment to the Constitution,” says Keller.
If that isn’t enough to make Truman roll over in his grave, try this: Dr. Ravi Zacharias, the honorary chairman of this year’s event, has refused to invoke the name of Jesus Christ in his official prayer, so as not to offend the faithful of other religions. (Read the text of his prayer here.) This has sparked outrage among Evangelicals, such as those at the Christian Newswire, which issued a press release—titled, “Ashamed of Jesus at the National Day of Prayer”—which attacks Zacharias and, if you can believe it, takes aim at Dobson for not doing enough to uphold Jesus’ name in the upcoming events.
An excerpt from the release:
According to the truth of God’s Word, the entire counsel of God, we do not pray in “God’s Holy Name” to God the Father. We pray to God the Father in the name of His only Son, Jesus Christ, who alone provides us access to the Father. It is appalling that Dr. Zacharias is willing to capitulate to the un- Scriptural, interfaith ecumenism and discard the name of Jesus. NDP Chairwoman, Shirley Dobson, owes a biblical explanation to Christians around the nation as to why the name of Jesus is absent from the official prayer. We are not here as Christians to appease those of other world religions. We cannot come to God except through His Son’s righteous merits. To pray as “Christians” in any other way is both a farce and a mockery. While other believers around the world are dying for that name, in America, Dr. Zacharias will not even breathe that name in his official public prayer because it might “offend”.
If evangelical leaders want God’s help in the midst of America’s deepening national crisis, we must come to Him on His stated terms, not ours. Either God’s Word is truth, or it is not. There is no middle ground. There are no special interfaith prayer models in Scripture for evangelical activists hoping to maintain conservative political coalitions. Such tacit denial of Jesus Christ will court God’s righteous wrath, not His blessing. Dr. Zacharias owes an apology to those throughout history who have paid the ultimate price for their fealty to King Jesus. May God grant repentance to those pragmatic evangelicals who place cultural concerns before Scriptural truth.
Yes, God forbid you should show any respect for other religions, because that would totally make the Baby Jesus cry. I swear, the fundie God must be the most insecure deity ever.
When Deb Roy and his wife, Rupal Patel, learned of their impending bundle of joy, they did what many first-time parents do: They got a video camera. Actually, they bought 11 video cameras and 14 state-of-the-art microphones. Then they built a temperature-controlled data-storage room in their basement and loaded it with, among other gear, five Apple Xserves and a 4.4TB Xserve RAID, backup tape drives, and robotic tape changers. No, Roy and Patel hadn’t instantly become the world’s most doting parents; instead, they had hatched a plan to record practically every waking moment of their son’s first three years.
The high-powered academic couple—he directs of the Cognitive Machines Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, and she directs the Communication Analysis and Design Laboratory at Northeastern University—scrambled to convert their suburban Boston home into a state-of-the-art research center that would host the most ambitious study ever conducted on how children acquire language. They named the linguistic data-mining odyssey the Human Speechome Project (HSP)…. In addition to their roles as primary investigators in the study, Roy and Patel are, along with their now two-year-old son, the central research subjects.
“My ultimate goal is to understand how language works,” Roy explains. That’s a tall order, and the logical place to start, he maintains, is with children. Decades of inquiry involving video and audio recordings of children interacting with caregivers and psychologists in institutional “speech labs” have laid a foundation to begin answering questions about how children develop language skills. The day-in/day-out interactions between children and adults, Roy points out, are key to the way children grasp language. “But for all of the interest in how children learn language, there’s no comprehensive data of even a single child’s development,” Roy says. “Most researchers rely on speech recordings that cover less than 1.5 percent of a child’s complete linguistic experience.”
And that simply isn’t a dense or broad enough data set to answer the kinds of deep questions that Roy thinks are necessary to uncover the steady process of language acquisition. Truly understanding how human beings acquire language requires “stepping into a child’s shoes.”
So, from the moment he arrived home from the hospital, Roy and Patel’s son has lived under the almost constant observation of the 14 microphones and 11 video cameras that are embedded in the ceiling over every major room of the house. “Somewhere around 80 percent of his waking hours at home are being recorded,” says Roy. For the other 20 percent, privacy considerations permit mom, dad and other caregivers to turn off the cameras or microphones using wall-mounted touch panels in each room. Roy also equipped each controller with an emergency “oops” switch, marked with a giant exclamation point, to erase any particularly embarrassing family moments.
…Twenty-two months into the project, Roy says the storage network holds approximately 250TB of data, and by the end of the project in another year he expects it to grow to a full capacity of 1.4 petabytes (million gigabytes). That’s enough room to hold digitized copies of every book in the Library of Congress–10 times over.
I’m sure this could end up contributing valuable information to the study of linguistics, but I have to ask how it affects their relationship with their kid when he realizes that he was a test subject for his whole childhood, that 80% of said childhood is on tape, and all without his informed consent. That kid is going to have ISSUES.
Bush’s second term has witnessed the great unraveling of the Republican coalition. After nearly two generations of political dominance, the Republican coalition has rapidly disintegrated under the stress of Bush’s failures and the Republicans’ scandals and disgrace. The Democrats have the greatest possible opening in more than a generation — potentially. They should pay strict attention to how Bush has swiftly undone Republican strengths as an object lesson.
In 2004, Bush swaggered through his reelection campaign, still swept along on the momentum from September 11. He and Rove did not consider the perverse and unprecedented illogic of Bush v. Gore as anything but a rightful decision. They did not see the means by which he became president as artificial, making his position inherently weak and unstable. Bush took occupying the office itself and September 11 as tantamount to a resounding mandate for his radicalism. Nor did Bush or Rove view Bush’s steady and precipitous decline in popularity as cause to reconsider their preconceptions. After the Afghanistan invasion, Bush’s numbers tumbled until he ramped up the campaign for the invasion of Iraq, after which his standing dived again, only to spike once more after the capture of Saddam Hussein, only to fall again. Nonetheless, Rove drew no lessons from these warnings, except that war and terror served as indispensable political weapons to sustain Bush. On this rock, Rove proposed to build a reigning party.
The scale of the Bush disaster is larger than any cataclysm since [the Democratic collapse in 1968]. Whether or not there is a powerful geopolitical analogy between Iraq and Vietnam wars, as Bush first insistently denied, then vehemently argued, there is a pertinent domestic political analogy. Vietnam ended a Democratic era as definitively as Iraq is closing a Republican one.
Every time the conservative Republican period seemed to be exhausted it gained new impetus through openings created by Democratic fractiousness and incompetence in politics and governing. With each cycle conservatism reemerged more radicalized — a steady march further to the right. After Nixon’s disgrace in Watergate came Reagan; after the conservative crackup that engulfed George H.W. Bush came the radical Congress elected in 1994, led by Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay; and then came George W. Bush. Bill Clinton’s presidency served as an interregnum that might have broken the Republican era for good had his vice president Al Gore been permitted to assume the office he won by a popular majority. But the conservative bloc on the Supreme Court ultimately thwarted him. When the court in Bush v. Gore handed the presidency to Bush it gave him an extraordinary and unnatural chance to extend Republican power.
Only through the will to power in the Florida contest, the deus ex machina of the Supreme Court, and the tragedy of September 11, was Bush able to gain and hold the presidency. But he and the Republicans have been living on borrowed if not stolen time.
Karl Rove believed he could engineer a political realignment by recreating his work in Texas where he marshaled money and focused campaign technology in order to destroy the Democrats. But the analogy of the nation as Texas writ large was faulty from the start. In Texas he had the wind at his back, regardless of how elaborate and clever his machinations. The transformation of Texas in the 1980s and 1990s into a Republican state was a delayed version of Southern realignment. Yet Rove came to Washington believing that the example of Texas could be transferred to the national level. With the attacks of September 11, this seasoned architect of realignment believed he possessed the impetus to enact his theory. It apparently never occurred to Rove or Bush that using Iraq to lock in the political impact of September 11 would ever backfire. In his First Inaugural, Bush spoke of an “angel in the whirlwind,” but the whirlwind was of his own making. For all intents and purposes Rove could not have done more damage to the Republican Party than if he had been the control agent for the Manchurian Candidate.
The cataclysm has consumed Rove’s theory, his president, his party, and prospects for a Republican majority. The Republicans may take years if not decades to recreate their party, but that project would have to be on a wholly different basis.
The radicalization of the Republican Party is not at an end, but may only be entering a new phase. Loss of the Congress in 2006 is not accepted as reproach. Quite the opposite, it is understood by the Republican right as the result of lack of will and nerve, failure of ideological purity, errant immorality by members of Congress, betrayal by the media, and by moderates within their own party. They may never recover from the election of 2004, when they believed their agenda received majority support and they ecstatically thought they were the “Right Nation.”
Herbert Hoover did not transform his party but became its avatar through failure. By contrast, Bush has remade the Republican Party, turning it into a minority party as a consequence of his radicalism. Bush’s discredited Republicanism has further provoked the radicalization of its base where religious right and nativist elements are increasingly dominant. The party is in the grip of an intolerant identity politics — white male semi-rural fundamentalist Protestant — that seems only to alienate women, suburbanites, Hispanics, and young people. By the end of his presidency, Bush had achieved the long conservative ambition of remaking the Republican Party without an Eastern moderate wing. Once a national coalition, embracing New York and California, Alabama and Illinois, the Republican Party has retreated into the Deep South and Rocky Mountains.
But the Democrats have not yet solidified a new coalition. They may be on the eve of becoming a majority national party for the first time in their history without conservative Southerners at their core. But they may still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, mesmerized by grandiose delusions as if the past were weightless. Just as the Republican collapse under Bush has given the Democrats an unprecedented opening, the Democrats may still find a way to reinvent the Republicans. Even if they win the presidency, the Democrats can only consolidate their future coalition through skillful and successful governing. Only then they will be the sun. In Bush’s final days, a new era has not yet dawned, but an old one is setting.
In other words, Rove managed to suppress America’s gag reflex just enough to keep the Bush and Republican toxins in our system for an extra four years, and now everyone is far more sick of Republicans than they would have if Bush and the Republican majority had gone away like they should have in 2004.
I think there’s something to that, but the question is whether the Democrats can capitalize on it – especially after doing so little to oppose the Bush agenda, even after they assumed the majority in 2006. I have to admit to being amused by Blumenthal’s worry that the Democrats might blow it by becoming “mesmerized by grand delusions” – if there’s one thing the post-2000 Democrats have not been guilty of, it’s overreach. It’s underreach that I’m worried about – that even with control of Congress and the White House, the Democrats will be too timid and cautious to effectively roll back and repair all the damage BushCo. has done.
In which case they’ll hand power right back to the Republicans, who will probably have retooled and reinvented themselves by then. I mean, who would have thought that we would have a Republican president just 6 years after Watergate? The Republicans are more resilient than cockroaches.
2 commentsApril 24th, 2008 at 07:16amPosted by Eli
With federal investigators closing in, Illinois political insiders hoped to avoid prison by having Bush administration architect Karl Rove oust U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, according to accusations made in federal court today.
An attorney for Rove and the Republican insider accused of leaning on him, Bob Kjellander, flatly denied the accusations this afternoon.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago dropped the bombshell allegations as part of the federal corruption trial against Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a former Gov. Rod Blagojevich fundraiser and confidant.
Federal prosecutors say two witnesses could testify that they were told by two separate people close to Kjellander that he was working to get Fitzgerald removed by leaning on Rove, his old friend.
The power play was allegedly plotted before Fitzgerald received a questionably low ranking by the Bush Administration and the controversial ousting of eight U.S. Attorneys.
The first hints of the far-reaching accusations came out in court late Tuesday when Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Hamilton read the grand jury statements of Steven Loren, a co-schemer in the Rezko case.
Veteran insider Bill Cellini “said it was Bob Kjellander’s job to take care of the U.S. Attorney,” Hamilton read from the transcript, which recounted a 2004 meeting between Cellini and Loren over how to handle the deepening federal probe.
…Hamilton… said Rezko business partner Ali Ata is expected to testify Rezko told him the same thing in 2004.
“Mr. Kjellander is working with Mr. Rove to have Mr. Fitzgerald removed so someone else can come in (and end the corruption investigation),” Hamilton said in summarizing Ata’s expected testimony about Rezko’s statements.
Kjellander, an Illinois lobbyist, is a national Republican party player who recently served as treasurer to the Republican National Committee. He has been friends with Rove since the early 1970s when the two got their start in politics while still in college.
Kjellander helped orchestrate George Bush’s Midwest campaigns.
In late 2004, Fitzgerald was also the special prosecutor probing the Valerie Plame leak in which White House officials were accused of illegally disclosing her CIA identity in retribution for her husband’s opposition to the Iraq war.
Rove was questioned in that case. The investigation ultimately ended in the conviction of Dick Cheney aide Scooter Libby for perjury.
In 2005, the Bush administration ranked Fitzgerald as one of several U.S. attorneys who did “not distinguish themselves” – at the same time he was pursuing landmark cases covering Plame, the Chicago Outfit and former Republican Gov. George Ryan as well as the administrations of Blagojevich, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Cook County President John Stroger.
The rankings later evolved into the notable ousting of eight U.S. attorneys in 2006, a move that was widely criticized as being politically motivated. Two of those attorneys fired were given the same ranking as Fitzgerald.
Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenoff said the governor was unaware of any moves to oust Fitzgerald.
This is rich. Rove and the Republicans actually tried to sabotage the case that would have otherwise been the centerpiece of their campaign against Obama. Of course, they didn’t know that at the time – they were just reflexively gaming the system to defend Republican criminals, like they always do. But now they can’t draw too much attention to Rezko, lest they draw attention to Rove’s involvement, and to the US Attorney firings. Even so, Obama should have a good strategy to bring the pain if the Republicans do come after him on Rezko.
But he’d better be careful – being tied to Rove is the worst thing that could happen to him.
(For the record, I think the Obama-Rezko connection is tenuous, and it’s a manufactured scandal – but that doesn’t mean the Republicans wouldn’t have made a big deal about it. Quite the contrary.)
3 commentsApril 23rd, 2008 at 08:30pmPosted by Eli
PRAGER: Now, they have you on Hurricane Katrina, quote, from NPR two double-o six: “All hurricanes are acts of God because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that.” Go ahead.
HAGEE: Yes. The topic of that day was cursing and blessing. Moses taught in the book of Deuteronomy that everything in life is either a blessing or a curse. There are days that things happen that at the time look like a curse. In the passing of time, they may become what appears to be a blessing. An illustration is Joseph, when he was sold into slavery it looked like a curse, it looked like the worse day of his life. When his brothers came into Egypt looking for food, what looked like a bad day 13 years before turned out to be a blessed day. What happened in New Orleans looked like the curse of God, in time if New Orleans recovers and becomes the pristine city it can become it may in time be called a blessing. But at this time it’s called a curse.
PRAGER: Right, but in the case, did NPR get, is this quote correct though that in the case of New Orleans you do feel it was sin?
HAGEE: In the case of New Orleans, their plan to have that homosexual rally was sin. But it never happened. The rally never happened.
PRAGER: No, I understand.
HAGEE: It was scheduled that Monday.
PRAGER: No, I’m only trying to understand that in the case of New Orleans, you do feel that God’s hand was in it because of a sinful city?
HAGEE: That it was a city that was planning a sinful conduct, yes.
Granted, I’m not exactly the foremost expert on religion, but it sure does sound like Hagee is making some kind of Great Flood analogy, where God cleanses the Earth of the wicked for a clean start. Either that, or He was simply so outraged by the idea of a gay pride parade that he wiped out the entire city. But if God hates gays and their horrible, sinful gay parades of gayness that much, why is San Francisco still standing? I mean, it’s in prime earthquake country, and yeah, it got hit pretty bad in 1989, but it hasn’t been totally devastated since 1906, and I’m pretty sure that was before gayness was even invented.
So what gives? Why wipe out New Orleans and not San Francisco? Is it all the black people and the poor people? Is that it? Or maybe God is waiting for all the gay people to migrate to San Francisco, until it’s like Israel for gays (Gaysrael?)… so then He can wipe them all out at once, thus conserving His divine energy and reducing collateral damage to cities like New Orleans.
Um, not that I’m actually advocating that God destroy San Francisco, I’m just trying to understand the apparent inconsistency here. Admittedly, I can’t see the entire universe, so I’m sure there must be very good big-picture explanation that I just can’t comprehend. Or, alternatively, Hagee could just be a hate-filled crackpot who believes God to be an omnipotent version of himself, but I’m sure a Serious Presidential Nominee Of A Major Political Party would ever seek the endorsement of a hate-filled crackpot. No, surely not.
Boy, I sure hope McCain gets some questions about this when he’s in Louisiana tomorrow. I hope they make him angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
3 commentsApril 23rd, 2008 at 07:34pmPosted by Eli
“Go to Hell” may not be such a terrible thing to say after all:
(By Lisa Merakis)
Photographer Johnny Corazzo died for seven minutes when his heart stopped during an operation, went to Hell – and says it was great, absolutely great!
The 51-year-old bachelor says Satan’s kingdom was full of fast cars, free booze, babes in bikinis, slot machines, hookers, greasy fried food and other amenities. It was so terrific down there that he didn’t want to return to normal life again.
“In Hell I saw my best friend from the old neighborhood and when he told me it wasn’t my time yet I was really disappointed,” recalled Corazzo.
“I woke up in intensive care and I actually cried, thinking of the exciting scene I had left behind.”
“I want to be back there where things are hot. I want to be having fun wil all those dudes down there. But I guess Satan has plans for me here on Earth.”
“I remember travelling through a tunnel toward a bright light,” said Corazzo… “Suddenly I came out into a huge space where I could see millions of people, many of whom I knew had died years ago. These people were enjoying themselves, sitting around playing cards or drinking beer or playing the slots.
“They all looked so happy. They were having so much fun. There were beautiful babes all over the place, serving chicken nuggets, french fries and drinks. I had ust grabbed a frosty bottle of beer when my old pal came up to me and told me I had to go back. I was so upset.”
Corazzo said that since his glimpse of Hell, he’s lost his fear of death. He says he can’t wait to die and go back to the great afterlife there.
But meanwhile, he intends to live a sinful life so he doesn’t wind up in Heaven by mistake.
“I know where the fun is now,” the photographer said, “No way do I want to spend eternity with a bunch of boring goody two-shoes in Paradise.”
You know, if they have Dr Pepper, it doesn’t sound half bad. On the other hand, maybe this is just the version of Hell you see if you’re not going to stay dead, so you’ll be motivated to continue doing evil things. Then, when you die permanently, you go to the real Hell, where you get disemboweled with rusty garden shears every hour on the hour.
Weekly World News also provided a helpful list of Signs You’re Going To Hell. My favorites:
You wear white after Labor Day
You own a Michael Jackson album on CD
You’ve occasionally asked God to damn something for you
You consider yourself a homosexual, transsexual, heterosexual, metrosexual, or Democrat [by my math, this leaves only bisexual Republicans and Independents]
You’re a producer, director, or writer for a reality TV show
You enjoy movies with graphic violence, brief nudity, adult situations, or CGI effects
You engage in sexual acts for reasons other than procreation
You have rolled your eyes at the mention of Mother Teresa
I have a very simple, two-part take on tonight’s primary results:
1) Hillary did not win by nearly enough. The clock is running out, and she needs to make up a lot of ground on Obama to remain plausibly viable. She didn’t.
2) All the bullshit scandals that the media hyperventilated about do not appear to have damaged Obama at all. Not unless he was actually poised to win in a landslide and “Bittergate” destroyed his momentum.
That second point is potentially huge. If voters are finally starting to tune out the media when they obsess over inane non-stories and manufactured Democratic scandals, then the Republicans are in a world of hurt come November.