Filtered news 5/15

Tommy Thompson: Most uncouth, pathetic candidate ever may qualify as the worst excuse ever by a presidential candidate:

Tommy Thompson cited a dead hearing aid and an urgent need to use the bathroom in explaining on Saturday why he said at a GOP presidential debate that an employer should be allowed to fire a gay worker.... "I was very sick the day of the debate. I had all of the problems with the flu and bronchitis that you have, including running to the bathroom. I was just hanging on. I could not wait until the debate got off so I could go to the bathroom."

Leaving aside his total lack of dignity and the apparent need to share way too much information, does anyone really want this man's finger on the button?

Rudy cashed in on 9/11 He took in $100+ million selling the tragedy. There are lots of words that describe people like this. I'll go with "scum.'

Unhappy Mother's Day :

As individuals, we're pretty fond of our mothers. But as a nation we don't value motherhood all that much. We lag far behind Europe in granting leave for the birth or adoption of a child, for example. Our system of unpaid leave applies only to those who work for the largest corporations, and most new mothers (or fathers) can't afford to take it anyway. CEOs and their lap-dog lawmakers say paid leave, the norm in most of the rest of the developed world, would cost too much. Guess it would. After all, we have to save money — for tax breaks and corporate bailouts benefiting the same employers that don't provide any family benefits. -17249">(Read the rest of this story…)

Life ain't fair: Harry Reid on Russ Feingold measure to end Iraq War. There's something wrong with the roles when Feingold has to get Reid's cooperation, rather than the other way around.

Fear not The cult in Miami -- billed by Dick Cheney as being "a very real threat" -- turned out to be more farce than force. McLeary also noted that the "Lackawanna Six" were "hardly the that they were initially made out to be."

A few other examples come to mind. The plot to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge . Jose Padilla was to detonate a dirty bomb in DC. The facts of the British hijacking plot to scrutiny, and the plot to attack Los Angeles' Library Tower turned out to be than we'd been led to believe. Has the administration ever heard of the boy who cried wolf?

The Columbia Journalism Review's "real time media criticism" site has a of the way that "stuff of farce" terror plots are too much of what we get from the Bush/Cheney/Rove Republican Department of Justice in the domestic war on terror.

These informer-assisted indictments usually happen at a time, like now, when the Bush/Cheney/Rove regime's popularity is at a low ebb.

Almost every one is more akin to disinformation -- the deliberate dissemination of false information, in these cases, about the real level of the terrorist threat -- than to the essential truth about real domestic terrorist threats.

The latest instance is the Fort Dix Six, who were .

When did American women's libbers stop beating Iraqi women? New Republic editor in chief Martin Peretz, a recommendation that I read a "powerful critique" that "should be embarrassing to true feminists." It's by Christina Hoff Sommers . The headline is "The Subjection of Islamic Women" but, obviously, neither Sommers nor the Standard nor Peretz actually cares about Islamic women. Rather, the subhead -- " And the fecklessness of American feminism" -- captures the point she's trying to make:

If you go to the websites of major women's groups, such as the National Organization for Women, the Ms. Foundation for Women, and the National Council for Research on Women, or to women's centers at our major colleges and universities, you'll find them caught up with entirely other issues, seldom mentioning women in Islam.

Ah, yes. Certainly no U.S. feminist groups have set up a site or anything of that nature. And, of course, American feminist leaders have famously failed to call on American women to . Back in the real world, American feminists ignore the poor state of women's rights in Muslim countries in much the same way that Western human rights groups -- only in the imagination of bad-faith conservative critics.

The Republican Party, meanwhile, most often takes note of women's severely subordinate status in many Muslim countries when Republican presidents are hoping to collaborate with Islamist governments in order to block women's rights treaties.

Corruption watch After a midterm campaign cycle in which the GOP's "culture of corruption" played a major role, lobbying reform was slated to be a key legislative issue in the 110th Congress. Interest in changing the way the system operates, however, .

House Democrats are suddenly balking at the tough lobbying reforms they touted to voters last fall as a reason for putting them in charge of Congress.

Now that they are running things, many Democrats want to keep the big campaign donations and lavish parties that lobbyists put together for them. They're also having second thoughts about having to wait an extra year before they can become high-paid lobbyists themselves should they retire or be defeated at the polls.

The growing resistance to several proposed reforms now threatens passage of a bill that once seemed on track to fulfill Democrats' campaign promise of cleaner fundraising and lobbying practices.

Kevin Drum offers congressional Democrats some : "Come on, folks: show some spine. If Democrats want people to believe that there's really a difference between the two parties, then show them there's a difference."

It seems black Americans may be on the purge list at the Bush Civil Rights Division too. See .

One of the more promising new candidates, Adam Cote, tossed his hat into the ring :

Cote served in the Maine Army National Guard's 133rd Engineer Battalion in Iraq in 2004 and 2005. A first lieutenant, Cote also was deployed to Bosnia in 1997 and 1998. He said he was spurred to run because Congress and the American public have little idea about how the lack of equipment hinders troops in the field. "We literally had to go to a junk yard to armor our vehicles," he said. "When I returned from Iraq, I was just terribly frustrated with the disconnect between what's happening in Iraq and what's happening in the rest of the world."

Frustration leading to political action? That's crazy talk!

Corruption watch Another in Alaska.

Slippery fingers. Hey kids, it's time to go on a wacky scavenger hunt! Your first item to find is . No one knows where the hell they are, but, really, how hard could it be to find them? Hint: Look in Haliburton's back yard.

: was the GOP voter fraud fraud behind the firing of yet another U.S. attorney?

New arrival. Please join me in giving a warm welcome to the one and only Iraqi refugee who was .

We interrupt this blog to bring you a Code Red FOX News alert. We take you to the White House where, moments ago, Tony Snow made this stunning announcement: "" He added: "The others? Not so much." Our next update in 30 seconds here on Fox News, where the more you watch, the stupider you get.

Throwing another log on the bonfire at Justice. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty for family reasons. Namely, his family is friggin' embarrassed that Daddy works for Alberto Gonzales.

Southern inhospitality. Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC)---who last month scored in Iraq (I believe the rug maker is now floating face-down in the Tigris)---made the mistake Sunday of saying that to criticize the escalation is to call our troops "losers." Senator Barbara Boxer then put him in a chokehold and beat his ass until it matched :

"Lindsey, just be careful what you say. The bottom line here is that the losers are the ones who have engineered this war, made a huge mistake---Dick Cheney 'we’re in the last throes,' 'the war will last six months'---and all of you who have supported this escalation and have turned us away from fighting al Qaeda into putting us in the middle of a civil war."

Shorter version: takes one to know one, jackass.

Great moments in poor judgment. In this episode, on the final night of a school field trip, teachers stage a as a 'learning experience' for the sixth graders on the trip.

During the last night of the trip, staff members convinced the 69 students that there was a gunman on the loose. They were told to lie on the floor or hide underneath tables and stay quiet. A teacher, disguised in a hooded sweat shirt, even pulled on a locked door.

After the lights went out, about 20 kids started to cry, 11-year-old Shay Naylor said.

“I was like, ‘Oh My God,’ “ she said. “At first I thought I was going to die. We flipped out.”

You dare dis Saint Favre? AP Via :

Note to Sen. Sam Brownback: In Packerland, it's not cool to diss Brett Favre.

The GOP presidential hopeful drew boos and groans Friday at the Wisconsin Republican Party convention when he used a football analogy to talk about the need to focus on families.

"This is fundamental blocking and tackling," he said. "This is your line in football. If you don't have a line, how many passes can Peyton Manning complete? Greatest quarterback, maybe, in NFL history."

Oops, wrong team to mention in Wisconsin, once described by Gov. Tommy Thompson as the place "where eagles soar, Harleys roar and Packers score."

Realizing what he had said, the Kansas Republican slumped at the podium and put his head in his hands.

"I'm not sure how I recover from this," Brownback said. "My point is we've got to rebuild the family. I'll get off this."

Ouch. That's gonna leave a mark….

Neocon media CBS officially that one of its contributors is a liar; they say they hired him because a rival network hired Glenn Beck, so I guess they decided they needed a fool of their own. This is the kind of thing that makes it a little hard to take seriously the notion that the news biz was all about the unadorned pursuit of truth until bloggers ruined everything.

Stephen relates an anecdotal story from his past to explain the magic of the GWB years. | | "The most secretive administration in history is the Bush administration. And that's what makes the last six years so magical!"

Neocon media As Colin Powell's right-hand-man during Bush's first term, is in a position to know intimate details of the "high crimes" he speaks of. This should be front page news around the country. Why it's not eludes me. | | Now some background: before the Democratic Policy Committee — the only Congressional body that conducted Executive oversight before the November takeover — back in June 2006, and revealed some startling information about how the administration "cooked the books on intelligence" vis a vis the . In October 2005, Wilkerson before the New America Foundation that detailed how the manipulation worked. () In February 2006, he conducted and expounded even further on the OSP and how a secret cabal hijacked the intelligence process and sold us a bogus war. In my opinion, this secretive body is at the very heart of the scandal that is the Iraq War; that's where Doug Feith and the other DoD neocons manipulated intelligence The whole story about how we were misled into war has never adequately been told. If the OSP is thoroughly investigated as Wilkerson is pushing for, the flood gates will open and expose all the lies and manipulation. This should be priority for Democratic oversight. For another example of just how badly the intelligence was manipulated, see from last year where European CIA Chief Tyler Drumheller recounts how top Iraqi officials were telling the CIA that Saddam had no WMD, and how this crucial source was entirely ignored by the Bush administration.

Jon Stewart uses the President's own words to answer the most pressing question of our time: What will a successful Iraq look like? | |

Necon media smearing Obama ABC News headline:

One could be forgiven based on that headline and photo for assuming that, say, Barack Obama hasn't released his tax information. But as , the twelfth (!) graf of the piece mentions that "as the 2008 election draws near, the only top-tier candidate who has committed to releasing his 1040 forms is Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who already made public the return he filed this year."

I tend to think that financial disclosure for presidential candidates (as opposed to, say, House candidates where I'd really like to know) is relatively unimportant since I think it's safe to assume that at this point in their career these are all people motivated much more by lust for power than by greed. The ins-and-outs of John Edwards' brief career in the financial services industry don't have an obvious relevance to whether or not he'd be a good president unless you take the view (apparently popular in the press) that one shouldn't be allowed to advocate for the interests of poor people without first taking a personal vow of poverty. That said, if you're going to do the story and make a big deal about it, you should do the story properly.

Dick Cheney, all fear, all the time. From Salon's :

"We didn't get elected to be popular. We didn't get elected to worry just about the fate of the Republican Party. Our mission is to do everything we can to prevail on what is now, we believe, a global conflict, a fundamental test of the character of the American people, whether or not we're going to be able to prevail against one of the most evil opponents we've ever faced.... We know how committed our adversaries are to try to get at us. And we've done what we thought was right for the country."

Did Karl and Gonzo get the memo about not worrying about the fate of the GOP?

"The enemy we face is fearless. They're mean.
They know new -- they know new -- they know no
boundaries of civilization. They kill to impose their will."
-- Bush, explaining that the biggest difference between him
and Osama is that Osama can speak clearly,

Meet the White Guys Identity politics, .

America's best lawyers James Spader's character named Alan Shore can definitely give one hell of a closing argument. I've and on Tuesday night the topic was Gitmo. Boston Legal often tackles the incompetence of this administration and whole bunch of issues that are smart and funny…"": Alan Shore sues the United States on behalf of a client who was tortured for two years at a detention camp. | | (rough transcript)

Shore: Your honor, I believe a lawyer should put his country before his client and for that reason I'm going to take the unusual step of asking you to dismiss my client's lawsuit.

Lawyer: Objection, it's a trick…

Shore: I agree, nobody knows how to fight this war, we should never the less defer to the Executive branch—who have indeed demonstrated a particular expertise. I for one just can't wait to see what they do next… My client is a whiner…a little duck tape, sexually violated,…He wants the government to show evidence. We're in a war…

This guy, and his book, are brilliant CBS News Middle East Analyst and author was on "The Daily Show" last night to talk about Iran and explain how it already has the elements of a successful democracy. | | Aslan's new book, No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, can be purchased .

The cost of war

Now in the fifth year, Bill Moyers asks and tries to answer the question: | |

Big Oil cashes in on Iraq Via:

The 'IoS' today reveals a draft for a new law that would give Western oil companies a massive share in the third largest reserves in the world. To the victors, the oil? That is how some experts view this unprecedented arrangement with a major Middle East oil producer that guarantees investors huge profits for the next 30 years

So was this what the Iraq war was fought for, after all? As the number of US soldiers killed since the invasion rises past the 3,000 mark, and President George Bush gambles on sending in up to 30,000 more troops, The Independent on Sunday has learnt that the Iraqi government is about to push through a law giving Western oil companies the right to exploit the country's massive oil reserves.

Now, unnoticed by most amid the furore over civil war in Iraq and the hanging of Saddam Hussein, the new oil law has quietly been going through several drafts, and is now on the point of being presented to the cabinet and then the parliament in Baghdad. Its provisions are a radical departure from the norm for developing countries: under a system known as "production-sharing agreements", or PSAs, oil majors such as BP and Shell in Britain, and Exxon and Chevron in the US, would be able to sign deals of up to 30 years to extract Iraq's oil.

There's another issue involving Iraqi oil that has gone virtually unnoticed. According to , in Saturday's New York Times it's revealed that somewhere between $5 and $15 million dollars in Iraqi oil goes missing every day. It's becoming clear why Dick Cheney's 2001 energy task force meetings were made classified and why attempts to gain access to records from those meetings met with such and are still being kept from the public to this day.

Neocon media CBS fired General John Batiste as a consultant because he "advocated" for withdrawal from Iraq in a VoteVets ad. Yet CBS News Consultant Michael O'Hanlon has Has CBS fired O'Hanlon? We've unearthed yet in favor of Bush's war policies -- and against those of Congress.

Saving us from the threat within Bill Moyers on PBS that examined the separation of church and state in the context of and of "bring[ing] to bear the will of our Creator, Almighty God, upon legal education and the legal profession." Moyers paints a stark picture of a law school and a religious leader that are having a profound effect on the American system of law and government. Seeing Regent's newly graduated students talk about the philosophy they intend to bring to the practice of law (and ) is frightening to anyone who appreciates the traditional notion of the separation between church and state. | |

O'Reilly likes to to this country, but look what happens when you take his and replace Soros and the left with Robertson and the right:

[F]ar right Evangelist Pat Robertson is buying political influence in America in an unprecedented way. Robertson is pouring tens of millions of dollars into far right Internet sites and organizations designed to intimidate Republican politicians and advance his radical right agenda.

At the center of this cluster is the notorious Christian Coalition, which has received at least $5 million from Robertson himself and an unknown amount from organizations he funds. Doesn't take a Jerry Falwell to figure out that Robertson now has direct access to the most powerful Republicans in the nation.

And now Robertson has set his sights on the political landscape here in America. He has his character assassins lined up. He has the Christian Coalition ready to move out. And he has direct access to the highest levels of our government.

Although BillO never articulates exactly what Soros's "far-left agenda" entails, it's pretty clear what Pat Robertson's "far-right agenda" is: To move America closer to a Christian theocracy that lives under under Biblical law; not secular Constitutional law. To any rational person, Robertson and the religious right are a far greater threat to American values and system of government than Soros could ever be.

Naked corruption watch Once a congressional corruption probe gets to the boffo cruise ship pics with women pulling their tops off phase you know the indictments can't be far behind. See the .

Brass attacks. Recent Pulitzer Prize winner Cynthia Tucker on The Chris Matthews Show last Sunday:

"Look for a revolt from active-duty generals if September rolls around and the president is sticking with the surge into '08. We've already heard from retired generals, but my Atlanta Journal-Constitution colleague, Jay Bookman, has lots of sources among currently-serving military officers who don't want to fall by the wayside like the generals in Vietnam did---[they] kept pushing a war that they knew was lost."

The president will know for sure that he's lost the support of his generals when he wakes up and finds a severed neo-con's head under his covers.

"We’ve got loads of terrific investigative reporters in America, but gutless editors. So the suck-ups
to power get the choice posts. Think of the punishment inflicted for the crime of investigative reporting.
Seymour Hersh told me he was forced out of the New York Times and Bob Parry, the guy who busted
open the Iran-Contra story, was pushed out of the AP. On the other hand, Bob Woodward,
with his journalistic tongue up Bush’s rectum, is doing just fine."
-- Greg Palast,

The latest from -- Major General (ret.) Paul D. Eaton becomes the second of Bush's ex-"commanders on the ground" to tell it like it really was, and still is: Bush. Never. Listened. It's all a lie. Surprise!

Saving our beautiful minds How many times have you heard George W. Bush say some variation :

Our enemies in Iraq will make every effort to ensure that our television screens are filled with images of death and suffering. Yet over time, we can expect to see...fewer brazen acts of terror...

Well now, with the aid of the Iraqi government, we will no longer have to see the results of those pesky bomb :

Iraq's interior ministry has decided to bar news photographers and camera operators from the scenes of bomb attacks...

This follows the recent decision by the Iraqi government to no longer release civilian . Toss in the U.S. of not including the victims of bomb attacks in casualty counts, and soon we will all be able to pretend that there is progress in Iraq.

"Being a Republican means that you're motivating generals to retire so that they can do commercials
pointing out your war policy sucks more than Dick Morris in a room full of Brit Hume's toes."
-- Cliff Schecter,

They love Obama in KC Excerpt: Calling for an end to the war, Obama spoke in Kansas City Saturday. In his first campaign visit here, he spoke to more than 1,500 people, hitting hard on the war, health insurance and the president. "The day that this president steps down, the entire world will breath a sigh of relief," he said, attacking Bush. "After half a trillion dollars spent and after 3,400 lives lost of our bravest young men and women, thousands more wounded, legs severed, nerves shattered, it is time for us to bring this war to a close, "This war is a bad idea," Obama said to a roar of applause.

I started a joke ... Give your most patriotic workers cancer and then deny any responsibility. Nice country you have . How nice that Rudy G continued in . (Think about it: worse than Bush ...)

Neocon media If a Republican presidential candidate snubs some working-class farmers, and the media doesn't report it, does it really make a sound?

When Greg Sargent on Thursday that Rudy Giuliani's campaign cancelled an event at Deb and Jerry VonSprecken's family farm because they're not millionaires, he asked in his first paragraph, "[W]ill the haircut-obsessed political media cover it?"

I've been wondering the same thing. The blogs have been all over this story, and I've heard that John McCain's campaign has been sending information out to its email lists, but how's the coverage been in the traditional media?

Based on searches on Lexis-Nexis and Google News, it seems the political establishment doesn't care. I found one article -- , which presumably appreciated the local angle.

That's it. The story hasn't been mentioned in any of the major dailies, the wires, or on any national TV broadcasts.

C'mon, assignment editors, this is an easy one. It obviously isn't nearly as fascinating as a Democrat getting an expensive haircut, but couldn't CNN send a camera crew to the VonSpreckens' farm?

Ana Marie Cox yesterday that Giuliani "could've probably gotten away with tap-dancing his way through the abortion issue, but I somehow don't think any campaign -- R or D -- could weather this." It's actually pretty easy when the media blows it off.

The anguish mounts, my bitterness deepens Many of you are familiar with , the international relations prof at BU. Bacevich is a retired Army Colonel, a military policy intellectual and, by most standards of place and time, a conservative. But he's also become a powerful critic of what in his most recent book he calls 'the new American militarism', a book I strongly recommend. And he's been a consistent and powerful opponent of the Iraq war from start to finish -- or whatever point we're at now. This afternoon a friend who works in military budgeting world forwarded me an email from the DOD. It began ...

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense



May 14, 2007

Media Contact: (703) 697-5131/697-5132

Public/Industry(703) 428-0711


DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

1st Lt. Andrew J. Bacevich, 27, of Walpole, Mass., died May 13 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit during combat patrol operations in Salah Ad Din Province, Iraq.He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

I don't think I knew whether Bacevich had a son. But he comes from that class of career military where professional military service is often an intergenerational endeavor. Age sounds about right. And I just had a hard time seeing how many Andrew J. Baceviches there would be in Massachusetts.

But no more wondering. . I can only imagine the special agony reserved for a professional military man to lose a child in a war he has now spent years arguing was a mistake.

You remember that famous passage in Henry V: Act IV, scene one where Bates tells the disguised King Henry that if the King's "cause be wrong, our obedience to the King wipes the crime of it out of us."

There's shameless game of moral chicken that war supporters play in which they dare opponents to say the war is a mistake because, they claim, saying so would then dishonor all the men and women who've already died in its cause. So to spare the dead that ignominy kill many more of our children. All to avoid swallowing that bitter pill. But I think there's a converse to Bates' argument which I agree with, though I disagree with his claim about the moral reckoning. And that is that the service and the sacrifice wash the death clean of the folly of the leaders ordered them into the battle.

And of course this drama gets played out ... what, two, three times a day? Often more. Each time no less shattering for the family involved. Steve Clemons has

Nice! Fox Noose segment reporting on illegal voting .

Corruption watch When a lawmaker is accused of corruption, and he or she is prepared to pronounce their innocence, they should generally avoid huge caveats. It appears Rep. Paul Gillmor (R-Ohio) hasn't quite learned the tricks of the trade.

As Al Kamen , Gillmor has a luxurious new home, alongside a golf course designed by Arnold Palmer, in suburban Columbus, Ohio. It's not Gillmor's official residence, however, because it's not in his congressional district.

Curiously, Gillmor pays the mortgage and taxes on the $1 million house, but the home isn't in the congressman's name, which appears nowhere on the property records. This gets a little tricky, but the house is apparently owned by trading company, Zenith Holding & Trading Corp, which has contributed to Gillmor's campaigns.

That's when it gets .

Gillmor's office initially declined to confirm the address, saying Capitol Police suggested for security that lawmakers not give out such information, the paper reported.

But Gillmor acknowledged that he retained Zenith to buy the property on his behalf.

"There's nothing unethical or unusual," he told the paper. "It's all pretty much aboveboard." He said the deal was transparent because the Blade was able to trace it back to him, the paper said.

First, just because a newspaper reporter was able to eventually connect the dots doesn't make the deal "transparent."

Second, "pretty much" aboveboard?

The stupidity hurts! Are Mitt Romney's advisors complete idiots? Is there something in the Romney family DNA that causes them to say stupid things while running for president? The answer increasingly seems to be yes. This is just getting farcical. It's hard to see how Romney can survive if Who knows? Maybe this will end up like 1996 and the conventional wisdom candidate will end up winning after all. And then, of course, going down to a crushing defeat in the general election. If that's the storyline, then I guess John McCain might be the smart bet to win the nomination. In any case, his decision to get his pandering and flip-flopping out of the way last year is certainly looking smart.

Can history matter? The Progressive has a story this week about Michael Baker, a high school teacher in Lincoln, Nebraska, who was let go after showing the HBO documentary "Baghdad ER" to his geography class. Stupid. But that's not what caught my eye. Extremely longtime readers may recall that I once suggested that history could be made more interesting to high school students if it were taught backwards (), and it turns out Baker was doing exactly that.

Baker has clashed with administrators before. In 2005, they objected to his innovative approach to teaching history, which was to start at the present and work backwards, an approach he'd been using for four years.

But then, the school district forbade him from teaching that way any longer. The school's consultant said it was "not logical, does not contribute to effective teaching or monitoring of progress, and puts students at a disadvantage" with newly instituted statewide tests, according to a paper on the subject by Professor Nancy Patterson of Bowling Green. Baker appealed but lost, and was eventually "prohibited from teaching U.S. history," Patterson writes.

Hmmph. It still seems like a decent idea to me, though: current events are intrinsically interesting, and learning about them make you genuinely curious about why the world ended up the way it did. If the lessons are structured with curiosity about causes in mind, this will make you interested in the Cold War, which in turn makes you interested in World War II, which in turn makes you interested in the Great Depression, etc. It's a solution to the most obvious problem of teaching history: without any context, why should a 16-year-old care about dusty topics like the Missouri Compromise or the rise of the labor movement?

Oh well. I suppose the amazing thing is that they let him teach this way for four years before they shut him down. He was probably a communist, after all.

Neocon media making things up People concerned with accuracy and a commitment to truth could pay a bit more attention


Such is the Democratic party’s confidence that some Democrats are talking of bringing about the same kind of splits in the Republican party that so damaged their own party’s electoral fortunes following the Vietnam war a generation ago. “There are a lot of people on the Republican side who are not happy with the situation,” said Trent Lott, a normally hardline Republican Senate leader.

For the record, in the 1974 election, before the full end of the war but certainly after the Democrats had become tainted by antiwarness the democrats picked up 49 seats in the House, increasing In the Senate they picked up 3, for a total of 61.

This did where, yes, they lost 13 whole seats in the House, leaving them with only 242 seats. That year they gained 2 seats in the Senate, giving them a total of 56.

And then came the 1976 election, post-war, where Democrats picked up the presidency, 1 House seat, and stayed even in the Senate.

True, in 1978 they lost leaving them with a meager 277, and 3 in the Senate, leaving them with only 58.

And then along came Reagan, though his election had little to do with Vietnam, and those Vietnam-scarred Democrats managed to maintain control of the House until 1995, with Senate control flipping back and forth. Democrats did ok in '68 and '70 too. So, maybe Vietnam gave us Nixon. That's it.

Frank Rich seems to believe corruption has .

By my rough, conservative calculation -- feel free to add -- there have been corruption, incompetence, and contracting or cronyism scandals in these cabinet departments: Defense, Education, Justice, Interior, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development. I am not counting State, whose deputy secretary, a champion of abstinence-based international AIDS funding, resigned last month in a prostitution scandal, or the General Services Administration, now being investigated for possibly steering federal favors to Republican Congressional candidates in 2006. Or the Office of Management and Budget, whose chief procurement officer was sentenced to prison in the Abramoff fallout. I will, however, toss in a figure that reveals the sheer depth of the overall malfeasance: no fewer than four inspectors general, the official watchdogs charged with investigating improprieties in each department, are themselves under investigation simultaneously -- an all-time record.

Wrongdoing of this magnitude does not happen by accident, but it is not necessarily instigated by a Watergate-style criminal conspiracy. When corruption is this pervasive, it can also be a byproduct of a governing philosophy. That's the case here. That Bush-Rove style of governance, the common denominator of all the administration scandals, is the Frankenstein creature that stalks the G.O.P. as it faces 2008. It has become the Republican brand and will remain so, even after this president goes, until courageous Republicans disown it and eradicate it.

That might be a while.

The big news orgs of the Iowa farmer family snubbed by the Rudy campaign.

Obama and affirmative action I've seen several bloggers suggesting today that Barack Obama repudiated race-based affirmative action in his interview with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday (see Malena Amusa Jon Chait Paul Butler ). That would be pretty big news if he did, which makes it odd that of the Stephanopoulos interview doesn't even mention it and the gave it only a couple of paragraphs at the end of a short story.

So did Obama really do any repudiating? Here's the complete transcript:

Stephanopoulos: You've been a strong supporter of affirmative action.

Obama: Yes.

Stephanopoulos: And you're a constitutional law professor so let's go back in the classroom.....I'm your student. I say Professor, you and your wife went to Harvard Law School. Got plenty of money, you're running for president. Why should your daughters when they go to college get affirmative action?

Obama: Well, first of all, I think that my daughters should probably be treated by any admissions officer as folks who are pretty advantaged, and I think that there's nothing wrong with us taking that into account as we consider admissions policies at universities. I think that we should take into account white kids who have been disadvantaged and have grown up in poverty and shown themselves to have what it takes to succeed. So I don't think those concepts are mutually exclusive. I think what we can say is that in our society race and class still intersect, that there are a lot of African American kids who are still struggling, that even those who are in the middle class may be first generation as opposed to fifth or sixth generation college attendees, and that we all have an interest in bringing as many people together to help build this country.

Stephanopoulos: Sandra Day O'Connor wrote that in 25 years affirmative action may no longer be necessary. Is she right?

Obama: I would like to think that if we make good decisions and we invest in early childhood education, improved K through 12, if we have done what needs to be done to ensure that kids who are qualified to go to college can afford it, that affirmative action becomes a diminishing tool for us to achieve racial equality in this society.

Hmmm. This is pretty hard to deconstruct. Which two concepts is he talking about? Presumably (a) it's OK to reduce race-based affirmative action for well-off black kids and (b) it's OK to increase class-based affirmative action for poor white kids. But Stephanopoulos doesn't seem to think this is a big enough deal to follow up on, and Obama's subsequent statements seem to be pretty standard affirmative action boilerplate. If either one of them thought Obama was making news, they sure managed to cover up their excitement.

In any case, the most Obama seems to be suggesting is that he's OK with income-based affirmative action and — maybe — also OK with a modest reduction in race-based affirmative action for well-off blacks. Sometime in the indefinite future, that is. But it's hard to tell. Obama doesn't like being nailed down on specifics much, and this is a topic where nobody likes being nailed down anyway. I suspect we'd need some detailed followup to see if there's really anything here.

But it would be nice if there were. Switching to a system of class-based affirmative action, perhaps combined with very modest levels of race-based affirmative action, and do it with far less acrimony. It's certainly something worth injecting into the national conversation.

Quote of the day,

I have no animosity toward the president. I look forward to when he's out of office, maybe going to a ballgame or something.

Or something.

Trade agreements Jared Bernstein writes today about global trade deals that hurt (some) workers and "What would you tell some guy who just lost his good, middle-class, union, high-wage and benefits job? What's your program to help him?"

Here's what I'd say to the guy in the question:

"We can't stop globalization, but we can take its benefits and plough them back into repairing the damage it has done to you. That includes access to quality health care for you and your family, expanding and keeping your pension safe, and some serious retraining.

This will mean letting the Bush high-end tax cuts sunset (a point Obama agrees on — go, big O!) and using that revenue to help you. It will also mean major health care reform.

We'll also work to behind the scenes to pushback on the downsides of trade. We'll push the Fed to maintain truly tight labor markets, we'll put enforceable labor standards in our trade deals, and we'll pushback against countries that manage their currencies to keep our exports out."

Roughly speaking, this sounds great. I don't want to stop trade, which is fundamentally a good thing. I'd just like to make sure that we don't have one group that gets all the benefits while another group pays all the price.

My only problem with Bernstein's answer, then, is this: It's more or less the same answer we've been hearing for the past 15 years. Unfortunately, in case after case, after we end up voting for trade agreements based on promises of relocation assistance, retraining, etc., everyone somehow loses interest in the promises. Republicans in particular, who still control 47% of the House and 49% of the Senate, simply refuse to consider this stuff.

So, free trade supporter or not, I'm increasingly of the view that I'd like to see us fulfill some of these promises first, and then pass the trade agreements afterward. We've tried it the other way around for a long time, and it doesn't seem to work out so well.

That nutty Pope -- what a joker! Many good people adhere to the Catholic Church of Pope John XXIII. They have waited and prayed for the arrival of a second pope dedicated to social and economic justice. Unfortunately, while they waited and prayed, Cardinal Ratzinger was stacking the deck with cardinals identififed with the Opus Dei movement. So many of these arch-conservative bishops became cardinals that when the last pope died, it was a foregone conclusion that Ratzinger would be elected pope. And he was.

We all permit hopes to father thoughts from time to time, and for those Catholics who adhere to the "theology of liberation", many thought that perhaps Pope Benedict would see the world differently than he did as Cardinal Ratzinger. Well, dream no longer. Pope Benedict's trip to Brazil ended any speculation of a forward leap. Instead of moving the Church forward, the pope is planning to bring back Latin! More importantly, he will not tolerate the notion of married priests and he condemns the use of condoms with the same ferver he exhibits about a woman's choice.

One must enjoy the NYT's careful reporting on the visit to one of the poorest areas in the world. Here is the description I enjoyed most: "...also other prickly regional problems, including endemic poverty, social injustice and a chronic shortage of clergy...".

As for liberation theology, he gave it the back of his hand. "In his speech to the bishops, he criticized Catholics who argue that the church's supreme moral duty is to denounce and resist social injustice." The pope warned the men that they should not let such concern eclipse their spiritual duties." Whoa Nelly!

What a shame. I wonder how he feels about stem cell research.


May 15, 2007 - 8:34am