Monday, July 30, 2007

Better Late Than Never

Josh Marshall, Founder of the Talking Points Memo Empire, and one of the most eloquent progressive skeptics on impeachment, appears to finally be coming around.

Without going into all the specifics, I think we are now moving into a situation where the White House, on various fronts, is openly ignoring the constitution, acting as though not just the law but the constitution itself, which is the fundamental law from which all the statutes gain their force and legitimacy, doesn't apply to them.

If that is allowed to continue, the defiance will congeal into precedent. And the whole structure of our system of government will be permanently changed.

Whether because of prudence and pragmatism or mere intellectual inertia, I still have the same opinion on the big question: impeachment. But I think we're moving on to dangerous ground right now, more so than some of us realize. And I'm less sure now under these circumstances that operating by rules of 'normal politics' is justifiable or acquits us of our duty to our country.

I've been a loyal TPM fan since 2001, when it was a one-man, bare-bones blog, just a few months old. TPM Cafe, Election Central, Horse's Mouth, Muckraker, TPMTv and the staff that keep TPM at the top of the blogging game were not even gleams in Josh's eye.

Yeah, he's always been a little too fond of the DLC line than I liked, but I was thrilled by the reporter's sensibility he brought to his posts - a sensibility now grown into the major-story-breaking hard news of TPMMuckraker.

And for all his DLC apologia, liberals and progressives owe Josh Marshall a permanent debt of gratitude for putting a stop, virtually single-handedly, to The Usurper's 2005 attempt to destroy Social Security.

I thought Josh was wrong when he expressed doubts about the wisdom of impeaching Bush and Cheney, but I respected his logic.

I respect him even more for his ability to consider changing his mind based on new evidence and circumstances.

Nevertheless, I think he's missing one of the strongest arguments in favor of impeachment: Nixon.

Josh is 38, which means he was in kindergarten during Watergate. I was only in high school, but I remember the extreme shock felt by people of all political persuasions when the full extent of Nixon's crimes were laid bare.

I remember the heart-swelling pride in the strength of our political system when Congressional Republicans and Democrats banded together to expose those crimes and demand the president be held accountable.

I remember my father - a third-generation Republican - and my mother, a sixth-generation Democrat - both emphasizing to me that the true lesson of Watergate was that the U.S. Constitution was stronger than any politican, stronger than any president, stronger than any crime perpetrated against it.

And I remember how all that shock, all that pride, all that faith in the Constitution was swept away by Gerald Ford's pardon.

Nixon skated. The man shat on the Constitution, came within a whisker of establishing a police state that put the East German Stasi to shame, and he skated.

The precedent for The Usurper's treason was established.

Reagan and Bush I used it to escape punishment for Iran-Contra (Presidents are above the law.) And the republican freakazoids of the '90s turned it inside-out to impeach Clinton for telling a lie told by thousands of married people every single day (Impeachment isn't a serious Constitutional mechanism; it's a political tool.)

If Nixon had been impeached, or indicted and convicted for his crimes after his resignation, it would have been much harder for Reagan and Bush I to resist Congressional investigation through secrecy and perjury. It would have been much harder for '90s republicans to justify using the Constitutional majesty of impeachment for a fib about sex.

And it would have been damn-near impossible for George W. Bush and Richard Cheney to continue to trample the Constitution for more than five years after a pre-Nixon Congress would have kicked their asses into the dustbin of history.

If Congress doesn't impeach Bush and Cheney - or given the time constraints, indict and convict them after they leave office - it won't matter who's elected president in 2008. It won't matter if Democrats take the Senate and House with 80-percent majorities. It won't matter if the republican party is shut out of every national, state and local election for the next three generations.

If Bush and Cheney skate, an even more dangerous precedent than Nixon's will be set in stone:

The president is King; Congress is a debating club; the judiciary is a joke; the Constitution is as dead as Ozymandias, and The American Experiment is a historical fluke that failed.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lame, Lamer, Lamest

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote to both of Kentucky's U.S. Senators (Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning, both republicans) and two of its six Representatives (republican Ron Lewis and Democrat Ben Chandler) and demanded that they support impeachment proceedings against Bush and Cheney.

I received the following email response from one of them. See if you can guess who it is.

Though I fully support our troops in their efforts to aid Iraq in its transition from Saddam Hussein's regime, I continue to have serious reservations about the extent of our nation's involvement in Iraq. I was not a Member of Congress when it agreed to a resolution authorizing the President to use force in Iraq, but I believe that Congress, who alone has the authority to declare war, was presented questionable evidence regarding weapons of mass destruction and related matters.

However, now that we find ourselves in this situation, we must look forward and devise a plan to stabilize Iraq, ease the strain on our troops and improve the capacity of our intelligence agencies. Rest assured I will keep your thoughts in mind if the congressional leadership calls for an investigation into the President's reasons for going to war.

Yep, that's our BennyBoy, DINO extraordinaire. And rotten office manager. His staff sent me the autoresponse for Iraq (which I did not mention in my impeachment demand, which focused on violations of the Constitution), not the one for impeachment. Maybe Benny doesn't have an impeachment auto-response prepared yet.

Nothing from the RWAs, but that's no surprise. McConnell's waaaaay too important to stoop to responding to the likes of a lowly voter (and obvious Democrat/traitor - my name's probably being purged from the voter rolls as I write), Bunning's senile and Lewis is a sniveling weasel.

I'm currently trying to borrow a residential address in Louisville, district of Proud Liberal Democrat and Northup-Slayer John Yarmuth, so I can get past the stupid House email verification system to make the same request.

We'll see if Yarmuth, whose outspoken liberal courage has been making Benny look bad all year, can get it up for impeachment.

From the Land of Liberal Utopia

Bad enough that Sweden uncomplainingly provides its citizens with all the good-government wonders for which we'd kill - a cradle-to-grave social services net, universal single-payer health care, superb education, public transit, renewable energy - now they're doing the journalistic job the American MSM refuses to do.

Via a friend in Canada, a new Swedish documentary on Guantanamo

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Effort to Ditch Mitch Stumbles Out of the Block

Two pieces of bad news this week for those hoping to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, next year.

According to the Federal Election Commission, McConnell now has more campaign cash on hand than the entire National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Mitch has $5.7 million - enough to win two or three normal statewide races in Kentucky. The NRSC has about $5.5 million on hand.

As an old Deaniac, I am painfully aware that money isn't everything. I firmly believe that both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are going to learn the same hard lesson Howard did: money gets you only so far in Iowa.

Let's hope Mitch discovers the same law of diminishing returns applies in Kentucky.

In even-worse news, the first Kentucky Democrat to go public with intentions to run against McConnell next year is State Attorney General Greg Stumbo.

Stumbo is not exactly an icon of personal integrity. He was arrested for DUI in 1991 and is infamous for fighting and losing a paternity suit filed by a woman with whom he had an affair while married to his first wife. The child was born in 1988 and he pleaded the DUI down to a lesser charge, but both stories still get traction.

Stumbo appeared to redeem himself and become a Democratic hero in 2005 when he investigated, and in 2006 indicted, Republican Govenor Ernie Fletcher for violating state law by firing civil-service-protected Democrats to make room for his republican cronies.

Then Stumbo allowed Fletcher to plead to a misdemeanor, pissing off most of the Democrats who weren't already pissed off about the DUI and the kid.

But the capping stupidity was when he accepted the Lite Guv position on the ticket of Fake Democrat and Criminal Bruce Lunsford.

All his many flaws aside, Stumbo had always been considered one of the sharpest political minds in the state. But latching onto Lunsford, widely reviled as a traitor for endorsing Fletcher in 2003, had Eastern State Mental Hospital dispatching guys in white coats to corral Stumbo.

Proof that Stumbo did not, in fact, know something everybody else didn't came in Lunsford-Stumbo's 20-point loss to Beshear-Mongiardo in the May Democratic primary.

Losing a statewide race doesn't disqualify Stumbo from challenging McConnell. After all, right now there are only two living Democrats in Kentucky who have won but never lost a statewide race: retired Senator Wendell Ford and State Auditor Crit Luallen, neither of whom has any interest in the race. And the other two most likely Mitch challengers - Charlie Owen and Andrew Horne - are also former losers.

No, losing doesn't disqualify Stumbo. Stupidity does.

For the latest on McConnell, keep tabs on DitchMitch.

UPDATE: The Herald-Leader's Pol Watchers blog, with the link to the McConnell money story, appears to be down temporarily. Here's the NYT's piece on national party fundraising.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Fletcher Official Admits Politcal Gagging

If you're reading this at work - on your lunch hour or break, of course! - count your blessings and do something nice for your boss.

You're better off than Kentucky state employees, who cannot read this, or any other blog that republican Governor Ernie Fletcher doesn't like, at work.

Yeah, yeah, they shouldn't be reading blogs at work, blah, blah, blah.

That's what Fletcher officials said. AFTER they got caught blocking a particular blogger who was exposing their crimes and stupidity several times a day.

For 2-1/2 years, from his inauguration in December 2003, Ernie had no problem with state employees reading blogs at work. State computer techs blocked porn sites, of course, and if your blog reading interferred with your work, your boss would call you in for a little chat about productivity, but if you wanted to spend your break reading the latest on Daily Kos or Little Green Footballs, nobody cared much.

But in May 2006, a grand jury indicted Fletcher on charges of violating state merit law by firing civil-service-protected Democrats to make room for his republican cronies.

And Mark Nickolas attacked.

Nickolas, who managed the campaign of Ben Chandler, who lost the governor's race to Fletcher, operated a blog called For two years, he'd been posting news and snarky commentary about Fletcher's Keystone Kops administration - along with strong criticism of the state's cowardly and incompetent Democrats.

But after the indictment, Nickolas moved into overdrive, and BluegrassReport became the don't-miss, refresh-all-day, multi-commented Blog Everybody Reads.

And Fletcher couldn't take it. One day, state employees checked out and found only a full-page message: "This Site Has Been Blocked by the Commonwealth Office of Technology."


That first day, you could still get on Kos, and LGF, and TPM, and Drudge, and all the rest.

So by lunchtime, it was pretty obvious what had happened. Fletcher had specifically blocked BGR because Nickolas - and his many bright, funny, well-informed commenters - hurt his tiny widdle feewings.

Emails flew between Nickolas and his state employee informers, and by close of business, Nickolas was accusing Fletcher of targeting BGR in political retribution.

The next day, all the liberal/progressive blogs were blocked, but state employees could still spend all day soaking up the vomit spewed by LGF and Drudge and the rest of the bush-fellators.

Nickolas cried foul again: Republican blogs were fine, but Democrats and liberals need not apply.

Fletcher officials blustered and lied and stalled, but in the end, they had no choice. To cover up their un-Constitutional gagging of BGR from state computers, they had to block all blogs.

Elephant-footed, they blanket-blocked everything on the Internet, to the point that people who needed information couldn't access even federal government websites.

Over the course of months, COT refined its blocking techniques, lifting the block on specific web sites if an employee could justify it as work-related.

It's still highly suspicious: FOX gets a pass, despite being news-free, as do Amazon and most shopping sites. Right-wing and Christian religious sites get through, but the Flying Spaghetti Monster is blocked.

It's also somewhat arbitrary: Talking Points Memo, TPM Cafe, TPM Election Central and TPM Horse's Mouth are blocked, but TPMMuckraker is not. Salon's War Room blog is blocked, but its Broadsheet blog is not. Kevin Drum's Political Animal blog at hung on for a few months, but was gone by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Nickolas filed a federal First Amendment lawsuit against Fletcher and kept beating Ernie senseless on his blog.

In June, Nickolas moved to Montana and shut down BGR. But the lawsuit continues, and last Friday former Fletcher technology commissioner Michael Inman dropped a bombshell:

Robbie Rudolph, Fletcher's running mate for lieutenant governor and secretary of the executive cabinet, directly ordered Inman to block BGR.

"It was apparent that the state had intentionally targeted and had blocked the category of blogs and other categories of Web sites in an attempt to disguise that fact," Inman said in a sworn statement.

No shit.

The Blocking of BGR is small potatoes compared to the wholesale burning of the U.S. Constitution perpetrated by Smirky and Darth Cheney. But the testimony of Inman - whom Fletcher stupidly fired - is a crack in the Right-Wing Authoritarian Wall.

It gives me hope on two counts: That republicans with integrity are not a myth, and that they will, when pushed hard enough toward the Dark Side, do the Right Thing. And that blogs like BGR and Watching Those We Chose can, indeed, Make A Difference.

Mark Nickolas and BluegrassReport contributed enormously to the 2006-2007 rebirth of the Kentucky Democratic Party, not least by flaying moribund and corrupt Democrats as raw as he flayed Fletcher and other republicans. Nickolas and BGR strongly supported Steve Beshear's gubernatorial candidacy and played a significant role in Beshear's 20-point drubbing of Fake Democrat and Convicted Criminal Bruce Lunsford in the May primary.

The new chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party is State Treasurer Jonathan Miller, who staunchly opposed Fletcher's Internet blocking. Miller was the Voice of Reason, pointing out that Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and other neighboring states manage to get the work of the people done without denying their employees access to anything on the Internet except porn.

Miller's withdrawal from the governor's race ensured Beshear's victory, so Steve owes him big time.

If Beshear wins the election in November, state employees will be able to read political blogs at work again by Christmas.

BGR is gone, but several other progressive Kentucky blogs are working hard to fill its shoes, including Bluegrass Roots, Kentucky Democrat, Drinking Liberally Louisville, Hillbilly Report, Kentucky Woman and Ditch Mitch Kentucky.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bush Bleeding Out in Kentucky

Kentucky's got a Republican Governor, a Republican State Senate, two Republican U.S. Senators, and a 2-1 Republican advantage in U.S. House seats.

But now, according to Survey USA, President Smirky is almost as unpopular in Kentucky as fighting-for-his-political-life Governor Ernie Fletcher.

Like Fletcher in another recent poll, Bush is losing in just about every category.

Bush gets the thumbs-down from more than 50 percent of Kentuckians of both sexes, every race (except Hispanics - what's up with that?), every geographical region, independents as well as Democrats, moderates as well as liberals, civilians and members of the military (HA!), and people who think the U.S. won the Vietnam War.

Good Grief, even 48 percent of Kentuckians who are pro-life disapprove of Bush.

The Usurper's still hanging on to Republicans, Conservatives, people who think Global Warming is "made-up," and people who think we're going to win in Iraq (whatever that means.)

In every category, the "Not Sure"s ranged from zero to 4 percent, except 24 percent of Hispanics (what IS that deal?) and nine percent of "Other" races (86 percent of whom disapprove of Bush - more than any category except the 88 percent of people who think we're going to lose in Iraq.)

Yeah, yeah, Smirky's 38 percent approval in Kentucky is still way above his national rate of 29 percent, but this isn't Manhattan.

If Kentucky's deserting Bush, can Florida be that far behind?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Only 16 Weeks Left for Beshear to Lose 23 Points

No, I'm not trying to jinx the Democrat apparently destined to bury Gov. Ernie Fletcher in a historic landslide.

I'm trying to keep Kentucky Democrats from throwing premature victory parties, ignoring the campaign, forgetting to vote and waking up on Nov. 7 to discover that once again the Democrats have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

SurveyUSA's latest poll on the governor's race has Steve Beshear leading Fletcher 59 to 36, with only five percent undecided.

Check out the details - Beshear leads Fletcher in every single sub-category (age, race, sex, region, politics, etc.) except Republicans, Conservatives and people who oppose expanded gambling. And even 43 percent of people who oppose expanded gambling support Beshear, who has made expanded gambling a centerpiece of his campaign.

Beshear sits comfortably with more than 50 percent in every category he leads.

For pity's sake, Beshear even leads Fletcher among Republicans who voted in the primary for one of Fletcher's opponents: 57 percent of Anne Northup's voters and 40 percent of Billy Harper's voters support Beshear.

But here's the killer: 14 percent of people who voted for Fletcher in the primary now support Beshear.

Of course, the poll also has four percent of the people who voted for Beshear in the primary now supporting Fletcher, but that polling point was probably a UK fraternity prank.

Kentucky political campaigns traditionally don't really get going until after Labor Day, but that five percent undecided has got Democrats waaaaaay over-excited. Even if you grant Fletcher all the undecideds plus the entire five-point margin of error, they babble, Beshear still wins by 8 points.

If the election were held today, that is.

Beshear's a smart, savvy guy with minimal baggage who's run a near-perfect campaign since January. No Democrat in the state has a better chance of knocking Fletcher off his throne.

It's still almost 16 weeks. 110 days. 2,640 hours. 158,400 minutes.

And every one counts.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Third Time's a Charm?

Kentucky ranks at the top of world-class lists in just three areas.

We got world-class horses.

We got world-class bourbon. (By federal law, if it ain't made in Kentucky, it ain't bourbon.)

And we got world-class poverty.

And not just any old world-class poverty. World-class presidential-candidate-attractin' poverty.

Robert Kennedy found us first, back in the '60s (although Eleanor Roosevelt knew about us in the '30s.)

Bill Clinton came a-callin' in the '90s, not being above stealing a good Kennedy idea.

And today it's John Edwards.

Don't get me wrong; I'm a strong Edwards supporter. If Elizabeth Edwards were a religion, I'd have to convert from Pastafarianism.

But Appalachia is the Iraq of the War on Poverty. Sure, the intentions are good, but the policy is weak, the strategy non-existent and the tactics akin to emptying the ocean with a teaspoon.

Not to mention the utter bloody-mindedness of the natives, who are less than appreciative of the economic, environmental and social devastation wrought by the various "foreign occupiers," including the timber industry, the coal industry, the pharmaceutical industry (Oxycontin) and bottom-feeding "employers" like telemarketers and chicken-processing plants.

Life in Eastern Kentucky, even for the poorest, is certainly far better than in was in 1962, when Harry Caudill published his passionate expose Night Comes to the Cumberlands. But it still lags far behind the rest of the nation, as the Herald-Leader explains.

The Herald's poll has 59% agreeing that Edwards' visit is a publicity ploy. I agree, but I don't think it's publicity for himself. I think it's publicity for the issue of deep-seated poverty, which hasn't registered on the national radar for more than a quarter-century, since Ronald Reagan taught us that only rich people really matter.

John Edwards isn't making speeches on this Poverty Tour - he's listening to people's stories, hoping to publicize the crisis and maybe gain some insight. So that's a step forward.

And I believe that John Edwards sincerely, genuinely, passionately wants to end poverty in this nation and will do his damndest to succeed.

If a visit to Eastern Kentucky doesn't dash his hopes on the cold, stony ground of Appalachian reality, then he's got a level of progressive determination this nation hasn't seen since FDR.

Who actually DID reduce poverty in Eastern Kentucky.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tim Johnson, Your Country Needs You

Can someone please explain to me why Senator Tim Johnson, D-S.D., is not voting on the most important issues the U.S. Senate has considered since, oh, the Gulf of Tonkin resolution?

Yes, I know he's recovering from a nearly-fatal brain aneurism, and as someone whose family history includes stroke victims, I emphathize strongly.

But really, they were propping up Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., and faking his votes for years after he was, for all intents and purposes, you know, dead.

Johnson's not bed-ridden. There are photos on his Senate web site of him undergoing physical therapy, walking with a cane. His Newsroom page has more than a dozen press releases just this month announcing the millions of dollars in funding that he has secured for South Dakota.

So why does Harry Reid keep using the absence of Senator Johnson as an excuse for the Senate Democrats not having even a one-vote majority (Joe Lieberman notwithstanding?)

I understand and appreciate the importance of near-constant physical therapy for those who have suffered brain injuries. If it were me, I'd want to be home, as far away from the lethal miasmas of D.C. as I could get.

But these, dear Tim, are perilous times. The fate of this country and the entire planet are quite literally at stake. I don't believe that getting you onto the floor of the Senate, whether in a wheelchair or a hospital bed, to vote to preserve the Constitution of the United States, would kill you.

But even if it would kill you, I am still asking - nay, demanding - that you do it.

When the Founders signed the Declaration of Independence, they were signing their own death warrants. If they'd been caught by the British soldiers who patrolled every street, they'd have been hanged. No trial, no appeal, no delay.

Is your taking a break from physical therapy to cast a vote to preserve the nation they risked their lives to create so much to ask?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Mitch McConnell: Adding ChickenHawk Insult to Iraq Injury

To all you soldiers, Marines and National Guardsmen on your fourth and fifth deployments to Iraq, Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has these words of comfort:

Suck it up, chumps, you're not coming home anytime soon.

On Sunday, the Lexington Herald-Leader had an article about McConnell's utter contempt for the hardship the Iraq quagmire is causing the soldiers and families of the Army's Fort Campbell in Western Kentucky, home of the storied 101st Airborne.

A few days after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bo Ward put these words on the sign at his 12-chair barbershop near the main gate at Fort Campbell: "President Bush, show no mercy. Kick their ass!"

But almost six years later, and after more than four years of war in Iraq, Ward's no longer so sure.

"Soldiers are tired; wives are tired; families are getting worn down," Ward said. "I know these boys can't just pick up and come home from Iraq, but we need some kind of exit plan."

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell's recent visit to Fort Campbell highlighted the emotional strain and frustration this southwestern Kentucky military town is feeling as the 101st Airborne Division prepares for its third deployment since the Iraq war began.

"We're sorry that the effort in Iraq has been as difficult as it has been," McConnell said Friday on CNN, "but giving up and letting the terrorists come into this country isn't a good plan."

And Mitch would know, given his extensive experience supporting the troops from a bar stool in Louisville during the Vietnam War.

Read the whole thing, but don't eat for a good 90 minutes before or after reading.

DitchMitch (scroll down) also has some choice words on the subject.

Can you imagine Mitch McConnell having to debate a tough Marine veteran like this in his Senate race next year? Someone that actually has a DISTINGUISHED military record and can speak for the veterans and their families that have paid such a heavy price for their sacrifice to their country in Iraq?

Perhaps we can make that happen, eh?

They're talking about retired Marine combat veteran Lt. Col Andrew Horne, who lost the Democratic Congressional seat Primary to John Yarmuth last year, but is still the darling of progressives in Louisville and throughout the state.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Time for the Re-education Camps

I recently heard a retired high-ranking Army officer, a Vietnam combat veteran, speak to a group of veterans on the subject of giving genuine, meaningful support to our troops.

He spoke passionately about the families of dead soldiers who need more than our tears, returning injured soldiers who need more than waving flags, soldiers on fourth and fifth deployments who need more than yellow-ribbon magnets on the backs of SUVs.

I listened to this career soldier, this combat veteran, this son of poverty who graduated from West Point, pour out his heart and I bit my tongue. I respect this man and what he has accomplished, although I deplore his Republican loyalty to this maladministration.

So I did not stand up and scream at him. I did not demand he answer these questions:

- Who sent our finest young men and women into battle without proper armor, without proper weapons, without enough support troops, without a plan for occupation or exit?

- Who put those troops into harm's way by ignoring the pleas of their commanders for more troops, more equipment, more help?

- Who cut the death benefit of soldiers killed in combat in half?

- Who slashed the Veterans Administration budget to ribbons, thus denying adequate benefits and health care to soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan?

- Who told the nation that the most patriotic thing we could do during a time of war was to go shopping?

Who, General? Go on, you know who it was. SAY IT!

I have bitten my tongue for more than two years now, as I watched loyal Republicans - particularly military veterans - slowly but surely come to the realization that Smirky and Darth Cheney are destroying their beloved military and even more beloved nation.

I have bitten my tongue and lowered my eyes as they raged against the horrors wrought by The Usurper without ever mentioning his name.

I have bitten my tongue and waited, hoping my refusal to sink to the tempting level of "I told you so" would inspire them to finally admit out loud who is really to blame.

It's not going to happen. They'll never admit their support of The Decider is the worst decision they ever made.

I'm done waiting.

Round them all up. All 54 million idiots and assholes who re-elected this drooling disaster. Every reporter, editor and pundit who disseminated The Usurper's lies. Every service-avoiding couch potato who cheered torture. Everybody who ever watched an episode of "24" and failed to vomit. Every Democratic elected official who ever - even just once - voted in favor of anything this American Stalin wanted.

March them all out to the secret concentration camps Halliburton is building out West and make them confess their sins and recant their anti-Democratic beliefs.

Make them walk, barefooted and without food or water, to the home of every family with a member who served or is serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, to crawl on hands and knees the last mile over broken glass and beg for forgiveness.

This isn't about "honest disagreement" anymore. It isn't about "respecting the other point of view."

It's about eliminating from the body politic a cancer, a vicious Democracy-eating bacteria that is destroying this country and everything America has stood for since 1776.

No quarter. No mercy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

When Democrats Attack

Four months from the election that may put an end to Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher's political career, the Democratic House of Representatives is slapping him around.

On July 5, Fletcher called the General Assembly into Special Session. Because the Kentucky legislature meets only 90 days every two years (60 days in even-numbered years, 30 days in odd-numbered years), if the governor wants to get anything done between April and January, he has to drag the legislators away from their real jobs in their home districts screaming and kicking back to Frankfort.

But when the Democratic-majority House met on Friday, Speaker Jody Richards stepped down onto the Floor and told Fletcher to fuck off and die. The dems adjourned sine die and left town, mooning Fletcher all the way.

Kentucky State Police launched a house-to-house search for the bottle of Tobasco sauce somebody emptied into Richards' morning oatmeal.

Special Sessions are supposed to be rare, called only for emergency, but this one is less of an emergency than an oopsie.

Seemed Fletcher had second thoughts about his failure to secure legislation awarding hundreds of millions of dollars in unnecessary tax breaks to Kentucky coal companies planning to build "coal-to-liquid" plants.

Set aside for the moment that the many hyped plans (clean coal, synthetic fuels, liquefaction, etc.) to use coal in ways that do not put the planet on the fast track to destruction are a galactic boondoggle.

Remember only that Democratic Gubernatorial Nominee Steve Beshear's 40 percent victory in the primary came as a nasty surprise to Fletcher. He was counting on a Democratic runoff to drain Beshear's campaign chest and leave Fletcher way ahead in the money game. Now Fletcher is looking at a united Democratic Party with a well-funded candidate. He needs money.

And where have Kentucky politicians in trouble always found money? The coal industry. Never mind that the coal industry has screwed this state over six ways from Sunday for more than 100 years - it's got the money.

So Ernie figures, hey, give Peabody Coal Company 2, 300 million bucks the state can't afford in unnecessary tax breaks and maybe they'll cough up six figures for my re-election campaign.

And what's the $60,000 per day in costs to keep the legislature in town compared to a 9-figure bribe?

Democrats and various goo-goo commentators screamed bloody murder. Both the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader, plus other newspapers across the state, accused Fletcher of playing politics (which in Kentucky is a sport, not a crime), wasting taxpayer's money and generally being a jerk.

No, no! Ernie cried. The General Assembly also hase to approve all these capitol projects the legislature failed to approve in the spring.

Those would be the capital projects Ernie vetoed. Three months ago, they were worthy but unaffordable. Now they're the dearest wish of thousands of constituents Ernie desperately needs in November.

Richards, who usually stuns the scientific community with his ability to stand upright despite the handicap of a spine made of cooked spaghetti, saw an opportunity to look like a hero and grabbed it.

So here's where it stands tonight:

- Fletcher has suspended the Special Session until July 30 in hopes the Dems will cave, as they usually do.
- In record time, the republican Senate approved everything Ernie asked for, including ponies, then set their lawyers to investigating the possibility of turning the General Assembly into a unicameral body.
- Every special interest in the state with a vetoed capitol project suddenly given a second chance at life by Dr. Ernie - in other words, every special interest in the state - is loudly demanding the dems return to Frankfort to rubber-stamp their appropriations.
- the GOP is making robo-calls to voters in house dems' districts claiming their reps are violating the state constitution and standing in the way of progress.

We haven't had this much fun in Frankfort since 1978, when Lt. Gov. Thelma Stovall waited until Gov. Julian Carroll left the state to call the General Assembly into Special Session to pass property tax reform.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Preach It, Brother Sorenson

If you do not receive the hard copy of The Washington Monthly, go to your local library or bookstore and get your hands on the July-August issue right now. Although the hard copy has already been delivered to subscribers, the Editors have not yet posted the new issue on the web site, for which they will suffer the Wrath of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Because that issue features a new speech by JFK speechwriter Ted Sorenson that just may be his best ever - and for the man who composed "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," that's saying quite a bit.

This speech says everything we lost, lonely, desperate Democrats have been dying - some of us literally - to hear for six-and-a-half unspeakable years.

The Democratic Presidential Candidate who gives this speech will, I swear, get a check from me that same day for the legal maximum contribution, and another for the legal maximum next year.

Even if it's Hillary.

The Monthly's editors asked Sorenson to write an acceptance speech for the Democratic Nominee to give at the 2008 convention. In their words:

"We requested that he proceed with no candidate in mind and that he give no consideration to expedience or tactics - in other words that he write the speech of his dreams."

And boy, did he ever.

I am seriously tempted to retype the entire thing right into this post, copyright be damned.

But as a loyal Monthly subscriber for 27 years, and knowing that they've spent their entire 38-year existence teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, I can't do it.

However, I will give you a few highlights - the ones that had me either sobbing or screaming to the Speechwriting Gods "Why Can't I Write Like That?!"

It takes my breath away.


"Nor will I shrink from calling myself a liberal, in the same sense that Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, John and Robert Kennedy, and Harry Truman were liberals - liberals who proved that government is not a necessary evil, but rather the best means of creating a healthier, more educated, and more prosperous America.

"They are the giants on whose shoulders I know stand, giants who made this a better, fairer, safe, stronger, more united America."


"My chief political consultant will be my conscience."


"Our nation is emerging from eight years of misrule, a dark and difficult period in which our national honor and pride have been bruised and battered. But we are neither beaten nor broken. We are not helpless or afraid - because in this country the people rule, and the people want change."


"We are coming back, back to the heights of greatness, back to America's proud role as a temple of justice and a champion of peace."


"We will be safer from terrorist attack only when we have earned the respect of all other nations instead of their fear, respect for our values and not merely our weapons."

"If I am elected president, my vow for this country can be summarized in one short, simple word: change."


"I shall restore the constituional right of habeas corpus, abolish the unconsitutional tapping of private phones, and once again show the world the traditional American values that distinguish us from those who attacked us on 9/11."


"I believe in an America in which the fruits of productivity and prosperity are shared by all, by workers as well as owners, by those at the bottom as well as those at the top; an America in which the sacrifices required by national security are shared by all, by profiteers in the back offices as well as volunteers on the front lines."


"The purpose of public office is to do good, not harm; to change lives, help lives, and save lives, not destroy them. I look upon the presidency not as an opportunity to rule, but as an opportunity to serve."


"Although we may be called fools and dreamers, although we will find the going uphill, in the words of the poet: 'Say not the struggle naught availeth.' We will change our country's direction, and hand to the generation that follows a nation that is safer, cleaner, less divided, and less fearful than the nation we will inherit next January.

"I'm told that John F. Kennedy was fond of quoting Archimedes, who explained the principle of the lever by declaring: 'Give me a place to stand, and I can move the world.' My fellow Americans - here I stand. Come join me, and together we will move the world to a new era of a just and lasting peace."

There's much more here, about withdrawing from Iraq and establishing peace in the Middle East, about universal health care, about economic and racial justice, about restoring the military, about stopping global warming and reconnecting with allies.

It's the perfect synthesis of policy prescription and soaring rhetoric.

Read it and weep.