05 January 2007

Harriet Miers Fired

Harriet Miers, of Supreme Court nomination fame, was asked to step down.

From the linked story:
"Miers, a longtime Bush loyalist whose nomination to the Supreme Court was withdrawn in 2005 as a result of conservative opposition, led an office that will oversee legal clashes that could erupt if Democrats aggressively use their new subpoena power. Bush advisers inside and outside the White House concluded that she is not equipped for such a battle and that the president needs someone who can strongly defend his prerogatives."

Later in the piece:
"In a letter to Bush released by the White House, Miers offered expansive praise for the president while never explaining her departure: "It is hard to leave the tasks at hand. They are gravely important, and I shall miss greatly the arena in which the battles of our times are being fought.""

Well actually, as WH counsel, you'd just be continuing to block the public's access to documents. But 'the battles of our times' does pop a little more.

02 January 2007

"The opportunity cost"

Richard Clarke posted a very interesting letter to the Post on Sunday that lists with some clarity what opportunities we've missed around the world since the start of the Iraq war.

"In every administration, there are usually only about a dozen barons who can really initiate and manage meaningful changes in national security policy. ...."

Please go read the whole thing.

Lieberman is Pro-Surge

Joe Lieberman writes in today's Washington Post in support of The Surge.

I wanted to break out some things I agree with:

"How we end the struggle there will affect not only the region but the worldwide war against the extremists who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001."

You're right, Joe. That's true. And thanks for reminding us about the lessons of 9/11.

What we're doing there is important. Losing will be very bad. The country could explode into civil war. Al Qaeda would claim our withdrawal as a victory. The region could be drawn in. Oil prices could spike, and the world's energy resources (and untold billions) would be a loose football. Right. Agreed. But Joe, and I hate to say this again, That's why most of your party, not including you, didn't want to invade in the first place.

And now we don't want to listen to you. We wanted you to go away. We don't know why you're saying this now, because you must know your party -- which just tried to ditch you at the last gas station, only for you to run back to the car just in time, which was a little awkward for a moment there -- doesn't care what you think we should do in Iraq. Especially since it's the same thing you thought before, just moreso.

There's no arguing that losing in Iraq would be anything but bad. And I'm not a military strategist, but I can tell you that another 10% added to our force in Baghdad, even another 30%, won't matter. We would need a 300% increase. We would need an overwhelming force on every corner of every street. And even that would only secure the capital. What about the rest of the country? Wouldn't success in this surge lead to a need for a national surge? Or at least other regional surges? And what if Baghdad slips back toward chaos during these other surges? A second Baghdad surge?

I'm not against the surge. I just haven't heard anything persuasive in support of it. That being said, if this is a police operation, are we equipped for it? If Dallas, Texas were in a state of low-grade civil war, if there were only a few hours of electricity every day, if many in the local police were working for one side of the dispute, how many foreign soldiers, who speak Arabic only, who no one likes all that much, would it take to bring order? And exaclty how many is 'A whole f-ing lot.'

09 November 2006

How Democrats Can Sustain

People want to argue that Republicans lost more than Democrats won. By next Monday, it won't matter, so let's not waste time arguing that now.

The voting public has a fragile belief that the Democratic leadership is more trustworthy on economic matters. This is a once-in-a-generation moment. Dems have been the tax-and-spenders. But that meme may become extinct if they act as a body in the next two years to bolster their image of fiscal restraint, of working toward balanced budgets. And let's perform some oversight of federal contracts, eliminate no-bid contracts from the Pentagon, and curb lobbyist influence and pork spending. Advocate line-item voting on spending bills. These actions are inevitable, and if the Democratic leadership doesn't say it first, Republicans certainly will.

This is a generational opportunity. If they squander this chance, It won't come again.

Democrats wish to raise the minimum wage. Fine. But I hope they argue that it won't hurt the tax base, that we won't lose more jobs overseas as a result. Start by arguing your opponent's side first, disarming him. Then say that we're strengthening the American family. That poverty tears families apart. That a living wage makes home ownership possible. This will sound familiar to many more people than you think. And many of them think they are Republicans. Not to mention, it is unconscionable that Americans make too little money to support their families. That is easy to argue, and difficult to refute.

The voters have also begun, in a much, much more fragile way, to believe that Dems may be more qualified on national security. This is a second generational moment. Democrats, seemingly, have cornered the market on mature, considered opinion on the Iraq war, from the beginning. Why invade Iraq? What's the rush? What do we hope to gain? What are the risks? Who will do the rebuilding? On and on, Democrats have owned these questions, and they were right to ask them. Now they must put action to those sentiments. Listen to James Baker's Iraq Survey Group findings. Partition? Redeployment? A summit with Iran, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the entire regional sphere of influence? Let the Bush administration take the laurels. It doesn't matter. But by summer of 2008, there must be improvement, if not peace, in order for Democrats to maintain control of Congress. And that would be the rarest prize.

08 November 2006

Federline, Republicans Ousted

What a morning.

I got Rick Santorum, Mike Dewine, Lincoln Chafee, Kevin Federline, Conrad Burns, and Jim Talent with bootprints on their back-ends, and it's only 10:17 on the east coast.

07 November 2006

Rosetta Projected Results

Just so everybody can go to bed:

House: +36 seats to the Dems.
Senate: 48/52 Republicans.
Dems hold NJ and MD.
Dems pick up RI, PA, OH, and MT.
Reps hold VA, TN, and, unfortunately, MO.

Take it to the bank.

06 October 2006

Lieberman Supports Hastert

From today's Hartford Courant:

"I know some people are calling for [House Speaker Dennis] Hastert to resign, but the truth is that unless he knows what he saw and he saw something he should have acted on, he deserves to have essentially a fact-finder to come in," Lieberman said.

"The Foley case bothers people," he added. "If anyone thinks they can make this into another partisan flap, it's not. It's very real and human. The House Republican leaders and, frankly, the Democratic leadership, should not make it partisan."

The words "beyond the pale" come to mind. Many prominent Republicans have come out against Hastert, their own Speaker, which should tell you something. Most are totally avoiding comment. Foley's chief of staff has called Hastert a liar, which is professional suicide, but the right thing to do. Joe Lieberman, again, is to the right of most conservatives. He's also acting in a way inconsistent with...

1. His own political interests. (Just look at how Chris Dodd is polling in his House race since last week.)
2. The political interests of his party. (No Democrat, other than Pelosi, has given any quotes, for good reason. Let them dig their own hole.)
3. The interests of justice. (Only pressure on the GOP will get a special investigator to look into who knew what when, and not just what's wrong with the Page program. Cover from the Dems makes that more difficult.)
4. Any honest interest in bipartisanship. (No Dem has been on t.v. "nationalizing" this issue. No one has said this is another result of GOP corruption. That would be partisan bloodlust. What we see instead is a call for accountability from one person, Hastert. He was told, he knew, he did nothing. )

The 109th Congress bears the dubious distinction of being the most do-nothing congress in the nation's history. Someething like 100 days in session, no real legislation passed, no achievements. So what was Hastert so busy with that he forgot every time he was told about this?

And as for Lieberman, I don't want him caucusing with us in January. I'm just sick of the man. I've heard enough.

03 October 2006

Foley's Orientation Wasn't the Problem.

He was a powerful person, a United States Congressman, trying to sleep with 16 year-old children. There's one real problem. He was doing this at work, in Congress. There's another problem.

The following has been widely excerpted this morning from today's WSJ editorial board:

But in today's politically correct culture, it's easy to understand how senior Republicans might well have decided they had no grounds to doubt Mr. Foley merely because he was gay and a little too friendly in emails. Some of those liberals now shouting the loudest for Mr. Hastert's head are the same voices who tell us that the larger society must be tolerant of private lifestyle choices, and certainly must never leap to conclusions about gay men and young boys. Are these Democratic critics of Mr. Hastert saying that they now have more sympathy for the Boy Scouts' decision to ban gay scoutmasters? Where's Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on that one?

The direct inference here, in case you missed it, is that gay men like young boys. The indirect inference is that everyone knows gay men like young boys. And if Hastert hadn't been so blindered by political correctness, he would've been able to intervene. (The real truth was that political calculation -- the GOP must keep control of the House -- could have been the leadership's only logical motivation.)

But here's another good excerpt I haven't seen anyone talking about:

What next was Mr. Hastert supposed to do with an elected Congressman? Assume that Mr. Foley was a potential sexual predator and bar him from having any private communication with pages? Refer him to the Ethics Committee? In retrospect, barring contact with pages would have been wise.

Since the page scandal in the early 80's, contact between pages and Congressmen has been restricted. Pages are not allowed to give out their email addresses, Instant Messenger screen names, or phone numbers to Congressmen. Congressmen aren't supposed to ask. And as a member of the Page Committee, Foley would be fully aware of these restrictions.

And as for the presumed "innocence" of the contacts that Hastert saw, ask yourself, as an adult, how many 16 year-olds you count as friends. Straight or gay has nothing to do with it.

So, yes, the Ethics Committee would be the first forum for investigation. Pages should've been interviewed. IM conversations reviewed. (ABC News nailed this down in about 24 hours). The findings would have then been forwarded to the Justice Department.

But instead, look forward to more coded homophobia from your friendly neighborhood GOP candidate in the next five weeks. How on earth does a thinking person, or the fourth-largest national paper, go directly from Mark Foley to "Boy, I sure hate gays" in one train of thought? How angry, how fearful do you ... never mind.

God, please bless America.

02 October 2006


I think every decent person needs to do the right thing on this: watch the first few minutes of Bill O'Reilly's show tonight. Our brave culture warrior. (Hit the site for a second and see Papa O'Reilly in boxing robe with neck towel. This is not a joke.)

I've been watching the Chris Matthews show this evening, and have to say that until the first ten minutes of him talking through this with people, I didn't get how much this is going to spread around. He didn't draw this connection, but I'd compare it to the Cardinal Law preist abuse scandal. Picture months and months of, "Wait, you knew about this? And what did you do about it?"

The FBI will keep it in the news, the James Dobson crowd is already batshit angry, and every Republican up for office will have to comment. This could shred the alliance between economic and social conservatives. Not to mention that thousands of Congressional Pages will be coming to a cable news network near you.

My prediction: Denny Hastert wins reelection and resigns his leadership post. You heard it here first.

Two questions for extra credit:
Was Mark Foley married?
Is Mark Foley, as Wonkette supposed, really attending a Scientologist-run "deprogramming" program in Clearwater?

11 September 2006

You Can Do It, Steve Laffey!

From The Note:

The most compelling political storyline for Tuesday's primaries is in Rhode Island where Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) is being challenged by the Club for Growth-backed Steve Laffey. Coming one month after Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) lost a Democratic primary in Connecticut, would a Chafee loss signal a resonant additional purging of party moderates?

Despite voting against the Iraq war, against the Bush tax cuts, and refusing to vote for George W. Bush for reelection in 2004 (he wrote in Bush the elder on the ballot), Chafee is still being backed by the national party because they view him as their best chance to keep the seat in GOP hands, and because he is the incumbent. If Laffey wins, the favorite in the race will be Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse in November — a key building block for Democrats as they try to gain six seats for control of the Senate.

If Laffey wins the primary, the Dems will pieck up a seat in the Senate. And Lincoln Chafee, frustrator of millions, will be smoted. Smited. Smoten. Not re-elected. Smote.

29 August 2006

Ted Stevens is the Secret Holder

There's an extraordinary thing happening today:

TPM Muckraker, boasting the world's worst title for a website seeking journalistic legitimacy, is one of a few sites tracking down the Senator who's placed a "Secret Hold" on the Obama/Coburn bill "that would create a user-friendly, public database of all government spending." (TPM, ibid)

They're getting people to call every Senator in the land and get them on the record. Saxby Chambliss is the only one so far to refuse to respond. 10 others haven't been reached, and I want to save everyone's time:
Ted Stevens.

Ted Stevens, ladies and gentlemen. Go home and eat dinner. The story's out.

UPDATE: See? Ha. A full day before his name was even floated at those other [mocking, nasal voice...] news [end mocking, nasal voice] sites. Ha. (OK, Robert Byrd was in there somewhere too, but that just overcomplicates the story line.)

22 July 2006

Ulcerous little self-seeking vermin

[This was from a Monty Python episode I happened to catch, presented as a public service anouncement. But it seemed apt, and I'd like to take full credit:]

We would like to apologize for the way in which politicians are represented in this programme.

It was never our intention to imply that politicians are weak kneed political time-servers who are concerned more with their personal vendettas and private power struggles than the problems of government.

Nor to suggest at any point that they sacrifice their credibility by denying free debate on vital matter in the mistaken impression that party unity comes before the well being of the people they supposedly represent

Nor to imply at any stage that they are squabbling little toadies without an ounce of concern for the vital social problems of today.

Nor indeed do we intend that viewers should consider them as crabby, ulcerous, little self-seeking vermin with furry legs and an excessive addiction to alchohol and certain explicit sexual practices which some people might find offensive.

We are sorry if this impression has come across.

14 June 2006

Lieberman To Run Independent?

I've been quietly watching this Ned Lamont run against Joe Lieberman, and I have to say it's an entertaining little news cycle. Joe's taken a conservative stand on Iraq, and hasn't wavered -- he may still be of the opinion that WMD's just haven't been found yet. I don't think anyone's asked him lately. But he also took a very long time to pick a side on the Social Security privatization debate. Same on a few similar issues. Suffice it to say, he ran to the right of everyone in the 2004 primary, and I think he'll be in there in 2008, damn the torpedoes.

But first he's got a primary in Connecticut, with Ned Lamont actually gaining -- gasp -- legitimacy and support. And so Joe's doing the noble thing, and threatening to run as an Independent -- making it very likely a Republican would pick up the seat. He's having his friends float it to maintain some distance for now. From Political Wire:
In fact, an important Lieberman backer, former Connecticut Democratic chairman John F. Droney Jr., is quoted by the Hartford Courant as a supporter of the plan: "I think to be terrorized through the summer by an extremely small group of the Democratic Party, much less the voting population, is total insanity for a person who is a three-term senator."

Being terrorized by the voting population is actually just being, like, unpopular for your views.

I don't know. He was so thick-headed about getting out of the race in 2004, I worry that the message won't get across when he keeps his seat this year. Joe, listen to your constituents. Listen.

07 June 2006

Howard Kurtz mentions today in his Media Notes column at the Washington Post, "An interesting letter from a soldier in Fallujah, Anthony Ippoliti, to his hometown paper, the Ridgefield, Conn., Times (via Andrew Sullivan):"

How can these groups claim to support our troops while telling us that what we are participating in is wrong? How can they support us if they are essentially saying that our blood and sacrifices have all been given in vain? How can they support us if they say that our comrades and brothers who have been wounded or killed in action have done so for a hopeless and morally questionable cause? . . .

I'll field that one.


Let me start with Ann Coulter, actually. On the Today show this morning, she said some stupid, inflammatory things to sell her book. She said 911 widows were "using their grief in order to make a political point while preventing anyone from responding. . . . I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much." Which is an evil, stupid thing to say. That being said, the first part of her remark, that liberal spokespersons like Cindy Sheehan and the 9/11 widows make for unfair debate partners (criticize their views and you will be called evil and stupid -- see above) is legitimate. She's put at an immediate disadvantage by having to debate a grieving mother.

I only mention this as preface to disagreeing with a presumably brave, self-sacrificing soldier who's done more for his country than I have. So, now that the niceties are out of the way, let's zoom back to Mr. Ippolitti's point ('how can you say you support the troops while also saying the war is more or less pointless')....

First, what a specious, stupid, unhelpful point to make. And honestly, what a useless piece of hot air. One has nothing to do with the other. I support the troops so much that I'd rather they weren't fighting and dying in this war. I questioned the rationale (or questioned for a rationale) long before the war started. Those questions were legitimate, and liberals were mocked for asking them. The war began, and it became clear that WMD inspectors should've been allowed to stay, that the administration indeed pulled them out so they would not be able to finish and conclusively declare that there are no usable munitions or weapons programs in Iraq. You called us crackpots. We were correct. We said the administration had tossed the State Department's post-war plan in the trash. You said 'so what.' Iraq has cost us a century of good will, and the saddest part is that we cannot yet leave.

Further, and apart from the straw liberals you imagine, I think the affairs of Iraq's people, suffering though they may be, are no more our business than our problems are theirs. Saddam tortures his own people? I feel badly for their circumstance, but I would not risk any American blood or treasure to help them. We've just been attacked. We have our own problems.

If we're concerned about WMD, we should focus on accounting for Russia's deteriorating and unguarded stockpiles. If terrorism is the problem, we should work to raise up the poorest and most hopeless parts of the world. If we're interested in stabilizing the Middle East, overthrowing a bad government and replacing it with no government is not a good start. (This is all slow, tedious work which makes for poor campaign advertisements, but it is what's necessary if these are our aims.)

There will not be Jeffersonian democracy in Iraq. Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds are separate populations united only by a British colonizer's relatively new and certainly arbitrary geographic border. Their territories are oddly arranged, and access to oil wealth is not equally distributed between them. There are external parties with competing interests on all borders, including Iran, Turkey, Russia, old Europe, and the USA. There is an infrastructure for the delivery of electricity, and of water, food, and medicine, which has been shorn to bits by poor governance and, wait for it, an ugly war. Anyone who wants to send another busload of our brightest, strongest, most idealistic 19 year-old nephews and neighbors to help the Iraqis sort this out needs to first explain what for, and how.

Mr. Ippoliti is braver than me, and has put his neck on the line for what he thinks are America's best interests. He's been misled, and I agree that is sad. But we are all adults, and sad is no reason for me to lie. Or for him to act like an angry fool.

28 April 2006

Harvard Student's Book Yanked by Little, Brown

It's a good thing I'm not envious or resentful of college students with book deals. Otherwise, this would just leave me tap-tap-tapping my toes all day long.

"Just a day after saying it would not withdraw "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life" from bookstores, Little, Brown, the publisher of the novel whose author, Kaavya Viswanathan, confessed to copying passages from another writer's books, said it would immediately recall all editions from store shelves."