Thursday, August 30, 2007

Unprecedented Treason

If you click on no other link today, this week, this month, this year, click on this one.

If you value in the slightest the rights for which our ancestors, the Founders, risked everything to secure for us, read this.

If you want to cut through all the bullshit, fear, obfuscation and politics that prevent a unanimous Congressional vote for Impeachment, forward this article to everyone you know. Make copies and press it into the hands of strangers on the street. Memorize it, set it to music, paint it on your car.

William Rivers Pitt demolishes the puling repug whine "but they haven't committed any crime."

The crime, Pitt demonstrates, is their murder of the foundation of American democracy: The Rule of Law.

(The Bush administration is full of) criminals joined in an act of treason so vast and comprehensive that it beggars comparison. Nothing quite like this has ever before been attempted in America, and if they are allowed to succeed, there will be nothing of what defines America left to be seen.

Gonzales and his Bush administration collaborators have committed their treason against the rule of law itself, a crime so absolute that it is technically not illegal.
But there is no America without that rule of law - no rights, no protections, no Constitution; there is nothing, and if you destroy the rule of law, you destroy the idea that is America itself.
Their treason is not in the actual crimes they have committed, but in the way they have chosen to avoid accountability for them (by claiming to be above the law.)
Americans have only the rights they are able to protect and defend. Our rights are nothing more than ideas; only theory and argument on parchment all too easily burned to ashes. The power of those rights is only found in our collective submission to the rule of law, and submission to that rule of law is all that stands between our freedoms and the conflagration of tyranny. Without the rule of law, there is no America.

They are killing the Rule of Law; they are destroying the Foundation of America.

That is their crime.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Iraq Summer in Kentucky

More than 1,000 Kentuckians turned out in Louisville last night to protest the Iraq War. Your humble correspondent was not there, but Bluegrass Roots was.

Proud Liberal Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, spoke, as did his 2006 primary rival Andrew Horne, the subject of a grass-roots draft to persuade him to run against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, next year.

Horne on Iraq, Bush and McConnell:

"Americans do not start wars of aggression. Americans do not torture. We know who we are. Americans do not abandon and neglect their veterans, no more than they abandon their own children. "

"This isn't a partisan issue, this is an American issue"

"President Bush and Mitch McConnell are responsible for this, and they must be held accountable"

"Mitch, can you hear us, we are the people!"

Don't miss the Update 6 description of the post-rally march to Mitch's house, in which 300 protestors chased off the 20 bikers Mitch was hiding behind. With pictures!

Live-blogging courtesy of wi-fi provided by Mitch McConnell.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Political Incest Among the Anti-McConnell-ites

Hoo, baby. Turns out that Larry Forgy, the most likely Republican to challenge Mitch McConnell in a primary next year, is a dear, close law-school buddy of -

Wait for it -

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"Harry and I both worked our way through law school," Forgy said. Both served in the U.S. Capitol security detail, working 4 p.m. to midnight.

"We were very close," Forgy said.

And Forgy wrote a $1,000 check to Reid's re-election campaign in 1998 -- the same year McConnell served as chairman of the National Senatorial Campaign Committee that was trying to beat Reid and other Democrats. Reid ended up beating Republican U.S. Rep. John Ensign by about 500 votes that year.

Ditch Mitch notes that a Forgy-McConnell battle could rip wide open the rifts in the Kentucky Republican Party caused by McConnell's quiet backing of Anne Northup agains Governor Ernie Fletcher in this spring's primary.

The key is to understand how hated Mitch McConnell is in substantial factions of the Kentucky GOP (he’s very hated). In a primary election where turnout among McConnell Republicans might be suppressed because their man is the embodiment of everything about their party that turns their stomach these days and Forgy loyalists who hate McConnell with a passion and will turnout if for no other reason to cause McConnell trouble, it will be an interesting election..

Never a dull moment around here.

Sustained Outrage

Kentucky blogger Logical Negativism has a great post on Salon's Water-Is-Wet article of the day, about how dems need to stand up to Bush and show voters some passion if they want to win next year. No mention by Salon, of course, about how the lefty blogosphere has been screaming this exact demand since, oh, 2002.

Too many of the commenters expressed an understandable doubt that dems will ever be able to discover their balls, regenerate their spines and start appealing to voters desperate for Proud Progressives.

But Logical Negativism, bless his heart, hasn't given up, summoning an admirable level of outrage that puts liberal cynicism to shame.

I know it's arguable that the very qualities that caused you to choose to be a Dem to begin with might also be the very reasons that being tough in public discourse is so distasteful to you (and conversely, those qualities that make a person a Rep are exactly the ones that allow them to use such disgusting rhetoric etc. with no apparent pangs of conscience.)

But listen: if you get nothing else from this article, and my comment, and that of the others who are before and after me, get this:

You MUST learn to be sonsabitches when dealing with the Reps, or you will cease to exist as a political entity.

And so might America as a nation. Or at least as the nation we've thought we were for 200+ years.

Good reminder that some things cannot be said too often or too loudly.

2008 Year of the Novices?

A political novice has stepped forward to take on two-term Congressman Geoff Davis, Republican of Northern Kentucky.

New Kentucky political blog Page One Kentucky broke the story August 14, including the first interview with Dr. Michael Kelley, a physician from the northern Louisville suburbs.

Our sources say Kelley will not be a candidate just for candidacy’s sake— he won’t be the sacrificial lamb— that he’ll have support similar to that of Ken Lucas in 2006. If you remember the horde of commercials purchased on behalf of Lucas (and the $1.5Million the FEC says he raised that year) you realize this could potentially be big bucks— and aid— for Kelley.

According to a contact at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, “Kelley will garner strong support from the state and national party because he’s not a career politician. He’s not your average hack from Halliburton. He has a simple plan that hits home with the voters and he connects with people on a personal level that career-types like Davis cannot.”

Read the whole thing, but short version is Kelley wants the troops out of Iraq, major health care reform, and campaign finance reform.

Davis is an interesting case. Despite being an intellectual and political lightweight, valued primarily for his reflexive RWA, wingnut Smirky-worship, he's beaten two fairly strong Democrats.

In 2004, he ran for retiring Democrat Ken Lucas' open seat against journalist Nick Clooney. Yes, that Clooney - brother of Rosemary, father of George (DOWN, girls!) Not only is Nick just as handsomeas his famous son, he's also just as smart, articulate and passionately liberal. You may have read George's comments that Nick's journalism career and First Amendment values inspired him to make Goodnight, and Good Luck.

2004, of course, was a bad year for Democrats, especially in Kentucky, and it didn't help Nick that Northern Kentucky is a conservative republican bastion.

In 2006, however, a grassroots draft persuaded former Congressman Ken Lucas to try to unseat Davis. 2006 was a good year for Democrats, as Proud Liberal John Yarmuth proved by defeating five-term incumbent Anne Northup in Louisville. Davis was considered so endangered that he was a recipient of some of Karl Rove's taxpayer-funded save-the-repugs media events, now under investigation. But conservative Lucas ran as republican-lite (DAMN you, Rahm Emmanuel!) and as always when given a choice between a fake and the real thing, people chose the real republican.

Now things are looking extremely bad for Kentucky republicans, with Governor Ernie Fletcher hurtling toward a historic crash-and-burn in November, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, up for reelection in 2008, looking weaker by the moment.

Dr. Kelley faces some serious hurdles. The Fourth District is, as Kentucky Enquirier columnist Pat Crowley notes, "a 24-county behemoth that stretches more than 200 miles along the Ohio River from Ashland to near Louisville to near Lexington." In other words, from Appalachian Mountain redoubts to liberal suburbs. Kelley may also suffer from "doctor fatigue" among Kentucky voters, who have a physician running for Lt. Governor, whose ticket beat another physician in the primary, against a physician who is the incumbent governor.

But if Dr. Kelley is able to stand tall for progressive values and resist DLC and DCCC advice to play nice, he should be able to unseat Davis in a year when republicans will be fighting for their political lives.

(Betcha didn't know George Clooney is a native Kentuckian, born in Lexington and raised in the beautiful Ohio River town of Maysville. Heard a rumor a month ago that George is considering running against Mitch McConnell. Waaaaaayy too good to be true.)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Unity08: Your Grandmother's Manners and a Pony

I'm probably going to liberal hell for linking to The New Republic (motto: Finding New Ways Every Week to Betray Our Progessive Founders), but this inside look at Unity08 is too good to ignore.

As Steven Benen points out at Talking Points Memo, Unity08 is "a solution in search of a problem."

Third parties, if they hope to compete, have to offer voters some kind of policy positions. Unity08, on the other hand, is a policy-free gimmick. It's a "party" that will "nominate" a bipartisan ticket in '08, simply for the sake of bipartisanship. What does the party think about the war? It doesn't have a position. Culture war issues? Nada. Trade? Domestic security? The environment? Nothing but a blank page.

The party, apparently, believes that politicians should be more "civil." Leaders should be more open to "compromise." There should be less negative campaigning and more solution-oriented discussions.

It all sounds perfectly pleasant, just so long as you over look how vacuous and incoherent the whole undertaking is.
But running a presidential campaign that intentionally prefers process and politeness over substance and policy isn't going to do anyone any favors.

I can't decide whether Unity08 is an amazingly naive fantasy or an incredibly cynical scam, but either way, it's got the situation completely backwards.

Far from wanting less partisanship, American politics is in dire need of more partisanship.

American Government isn't failing because politicians are putting party over principles; it's failing because politicians are putting blind loyalty to an individual, obligations to lobbyists and fear of what the cool kids at the media table will say about them above party principles.

If Congressional Republicans were truly partisan in the sense of upholding republican principles and protecting republican interests, they would have spent the last eight months demanding Cheney resign so Bush could appoint an heir apparent with a chance in hell of winning the '08 election.

If Congressional Democrats were truly partisan in the sense of upholding democratic principles and protecting Democratic interests, they would have spent the last eight months in the House bringing impeachment charges against Bush, Cheney, Gonzales, Rove, Justice Roberts, Justice Alito and everyone else they can think of, and the last eight months in the Senate forcing the Republicans to actually filibuster - on their feet, non-stop, no food, no water, no toilet breaks, no passing - every single bill, until all 49 Republicans had to be hauled away in ambulances.

As they say, politics ain't beanbag. And Unity08 ain't even a bean.

Help Draft an Iraq Vet to Challenge Mitch McConnell

The Draft Andrew Horne effort is up and running, having acquired more than 50 signatures on its petition in the first week.

Whether leading his troops as a Marine officer into combat in Kuwait and Iraq, giving strength and support to his wife as she successfully fought breast cancer, or volunteering as a coach for his sons’ soccer teams, Lt. Colonel Horne has defined himself by the values of duty and honor.

Horne's first and only run for public office ended in a primary loss last year to John Yarmuth, who went on to beat Third Congressional District Rep. Anne Northup. Horne is unknown outside Louisville and Kentucky's small but determined community of Progressives, and he has no access to the piles of money some other potential candidates can tap.

But as BluegrassRoots put it:
Horne matches up ideally against McConnell. McConnell won't be able to smear him for standing up to Bush on Iraq, at least not successfully. If McConnell tries to call a 27 year Marine and Iraq veteran a wimpy cut-and-runner terrorist appeasing Defeatocrat for opposing a very unpopular war, it will be suicide.
Horne also doesn't have many of the flaws that other candidates have, particularly with past scandals or social standing/perception.

Horne has also spent the last year speaking publicly and passionately against the Bush/Cheney maladministration and the catastrophe in Iraq. What he lacks in name recognition he makes up in credibility.

No rich-as-Croesus, politically perfect White Knight is going to ride up and effortlessly smash Mitch. It's going to be a long, hard slog, one donor and voter at a time, to unseat the U.S. Senate Minority Leader.

Help us persuade Andrew Horne to accept this mission for his country by signing the petition.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Last Real Democrat in the Kentucky Senate


One and only one of the 16 Democrats in the Kentucky State Senate had the integrity, courage and balls to stand up to Big Coal and Admitted Criminal Governor Ernie Fletcher today.

Senator Ernesto Scorsone, D-Lexington, cast the sole Senate vote against the Bankrupt The Commonwealth And Destroy the Environment At The Same Time Act of 2007

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Scorsone said the bill is not the state's energy policy, but that of (coal giant) Peabody Energy Co.

The bill, which passed the Democratic House on Wednesday, now goes to Ernie for his signature. Ernie, lagging 18 points behind in the governor's race, called this totally unnecessary legislative special session and demanded approval of this bill because he's desperate to show an accomplishment - any accomplishment, no matter how destructive - to voters.

Not going to be easy for Democrats to call him on this boondoggle since so many of them voted for it.

Ernesto, as all of his admirers call him, admittedly risked very little with his No vote. He represents a Senate District that is by far the most liberal in the state. Someday when we country liberals grow up, we want to move to Lexington so we can have Ernesto as our senator.

In 1998, Ernesto ran against then-state-representative Ernie Fletcher for the Sixth Congressional seat, in the Battle of the Erns. Ernie won on the strength of a whisper campaign about the single Ernesto's probable sexuality.

Ernesto had never denied being gay, mostly because no one had ever been rude enough to ask him about it. He ignored the whispers, and lost to Ernie by seven points.

Five years later in 2003, Ernesto made a speech in Lexington in which he referred obliquely to his homosexuality. The Lexington Herald-Leader put it on the front page, but everybody yawned.

Here's how incredibly popular Ernesto is in Lexington: In 2004, the year after he became the only openly gay member of the Kentucky General Assembly, the year republicans nationwide ran on gay-bashing, the Kentucky GOP did not even attempt to field a challenger to Ernesto.

Kentucky Democrats, however, made up for that lack. Also in 2004, the flat-on-its-ass Kentucky Democratic Party was desperately searching for someone to take charge as chair. Ernesto's name was mentioned, and the panicked party honchos lashed out by choosing corrupt, antediluvian hack Jerry Lundergan. Several Central Committee members, including current Democratic Gubernatorial Nominee Steve Beshear, resigned in protest.

Ernesto quietly returned to his Senate seat, and continues today to serve as the lonely - and sometimes lone - voice of liberal values in the General Assembly.

He's also the only Democrat in the Senate who grasps the criminal obscenity of handing billions of tax dollars to the destructive and inhumane coal industry at a time when, as the Herald-Leader noted, the state's economy, public education, infrastructure and just about every measure of civilized life rank in the bottom 10 states nationally.

UPDATE, 6:27 p.m.: Steve Beshear's Lite Guv running mate, Dan Mongiardo, is a current member of the State Senate. Does that mean he voted for the Bend Over For The Coal Industry, One More Time Act of 2007? No, thank goodness. He was not present for the vote, presumably because he's on the campaign trail. Still, what a chicken.

Historical note: Democrat Dan Mongiardo earned the everlasting enmity of thousands of Kentucky Democrats in 2004 when he sponsored the anti-gay marriage amendment to the Kentucky Constitution. Keep in mind he did so months AFTER his fellow Democratic Senator Ernesto Scorsone had come out as gay.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Coal: Kentucky's Renewable Energy

Whenever anybody says "tax incentives for renewable energy," check your wallet.

The energy bill passed this afternoon by the Kentucky House of Representatives reminds me of that trick soap that leaves your hands dirtier than when you picked it up.

It is, not to put too fine a point on it, a billion-dollar blow job on the coal industry.

The press release calls it "A comprehensive energy bill that would create tax incentives for the construction of alternative fuel and renewable energy plants in Kentucky and provide millions of dollars for energy research and development ..."

Well, not really. What it actually does is hand over to Big Coal 50 percent of the construction cost of any energy plant that uses coal ("alternative fuel" being left undefined). Such plants cost a minimum of $100 million to build, and usually closer to a quarter billion. Figure $100 million in cash rebates for each plant, times an infinite number of plants (the bill has no limits, and is such a free-whorehouse giveaway it'll spark a coal-rush to Kentucky), and you're lookin' at a budget buster that'll turn the entire state in a giant pig pen of slave labor for the coal companies.

According to the Lexington Herald, it’s even worse than the 50 percent construction rebate. “Qualifying companies could recover as much as 100 percent of the sales, use, income and corporate tax on a project and as much as 80 percent of the coal-severance tax paid on coal used by approved alternative fuel or gasification facilities.”

Now you’re looking at billions of dollars Kentucky simply does not have, and for what? A handful of jobs that will never earn back the bribe paid to the employer? More sliced-off mountains, more poisoned rivers, more forests and prime farmland turned into moonscapes? More enslaved, impoverished communities, more destroyed roads, more dead miners?

Kentucky Progress calls it the Coal Company Crazy Check Act of 2007.

In the first place, any process that uses coal in any way, shape or form is not, repeat NOT, renewable. Renewable applies to things that keep coming back even after you use them. Fast-growing plants, wind, sun, geothermal. Not oil. Not natural gas. Not coal.

In the second place, so-called "clean coal" - synfuels, gasification, liquefaction, mumbledy-mumble-abracadabra-cation - is a myth. Like cold fusion, only less plausible. Coal companies have been fucking around with supposed technologies for literally decades and nothing has ever come of it.

You think wind and solar power are pie-in-the-sky fantasies that will never work economically? Since the 1970s, solar and wind power technologies - with virtually no help from the federal government - have slowly but steadily improved efficiency and lowered cost to the point that in many parts of the country they are competitive with fossil-fuel generation.

Over a much longer period, Big Coal has wasted hundreds of billions of tax dollars in federal government subsidies turning "clean coal" from a powerful fantasy into ... a highly destructive boondoggle.

Jim Waters, director of policy and communications for the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank, offers an eye-opening short history of the industry's "clean coal" scam. Highlights:

...Frankfort adults who still believe in fairy tales should consider this: Several attempts to create the kind of coal-liquification technology that would provide viable substitutes to oil have become fuel for past taxpayer nightmares instead.

In the 1940s, Congress appropriated millions of dollars to enact the “Synthetic Liquid Fuels Act.” In 1948, the New York Times declared it would result in energy – produced from coal, air, and water – in quantities sufficient enough to “free us from dependence on foreign sources of oil.”

By 1952, these federal coal-to-liquid demonstration plants shut down.

In 1960, Congress (code: taxpayers) paid for construction of six synthetic fuels demonstration plants, including one in Cresap, W. Va. Proponents promised gasoline at 11 cents per gallon.

Didn’t happen. In fact, the Cresap economic disaster called “Project Gasoline,” went in the tank in 1970.

The most well-known energy-liquification effort occurred in the 1970s when an oil embargo threatened America’s economy. Many of us maintain unforgettable images of long lines at gasoline pumps.

In one of many demonstrations of ineptness, President Jimmy Carter signed the 1980 Energy Security Act, authorizing money for the Synthetic Fuels Corporation (SFC) and charging it to produce a half-million barrels of oil per day by 1987. President Gerald Ford previously promised 1 million barrels of oil a day from coal by 1985.

Instead, the SFC shut down in 1985. Not a single coal-to-oil plant produced anything – except the loss of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.

He goes on to make the obvious point that if "clean coal" was so easy and fabulous, the free market would be investing in it, as the free market has done for real renewable energy - wind, solar, geothermal.

"Clean coal" needs government subsidies because no money manager with an ounce of sense would invest a dime in it.

But in Kentucky, Coal Is God. Not even University of Kentucky basketball, the State Religion, gets as much worship as coal.

No one in Kentucky is surprised at the way Democratic congress critters cringe and cower and show their asses in submission at the maladministration's mere whisper of terrorism.

We've watched Democratic legislators perform precisely the same way when any governor so much as mentions coal.

Not that Ernie’s any better

“I am glad that the House is working with us to make Kentucky a leader in energy,” said Governor Fletcher. “As we have said from the start, this legislation isn’t just important for a single company – it is important for the future of Kentucky. This legislation is a continuation of the energy strategy my administration initiated three years ago. I look forward to the passage of House Bill 1.”

Energy strategy? The closest thing Ernie has to an energy strategy is his practice of climbing into a state-owned gas-guzzler every morning for the 500-foot commute from the Governor's Mansion to the Capitol Building. No, wait, that's his Get Healthy Kentucky initiative.

What's that you say? What about "renewable energy?" Sorry, it's so easy to miss. The incentives in House Bill 1 for actual, reality-based, affordable, environment-protecting, child-friendly renewable energy are a grand total of ...

wait for it ...

One million dollars.

Peabody Coal probably spent more than that on booze and hookers for the General Assembly.

Postscript: Keep in mind, too, that this bill was passed by the Democratic House. The version that emerges from the Republican-controlled Senate is likely to be stripped of even the weak-ass renewable energy provisions House Democrats wrote.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

McConnell's Re-election Troubles Go National

No, unfortunately the Moonie Times has not found compromising photos to support rumors of Mitch's man-love tendencies.

But it has managed to stumble across a few Kentucky Republicans who have serious doubts about the Senate Minority Leader's re-election chances.

Too bad one of them is Larry Forgy, a perennial losing Republican candidate who is being talked up as a primary challenger to Mitch.

“The average Kentuckian feels we are giving away this country with both hands — jobs are going, essentially the primacy of the people who made this country great is going, and Mitch McConnell is lumped with the Washington types on this,” Mr. Forgy said.

But even a county party chair has his doubts, albeit anonymously.

A county party chairman who supports Mr. McConnell but asked not to be identified said Mr. McConnell's re-election next year is uncertain — despite the Capitol Hill clout he brings Kentucky — unless he shows the folks back home he understands their distrust of Washington on enforcing immigration laws.

Wingnut stalwart Tom Buford was willing to go on the record - but only in general "incumbents have it hard" terms.

“The immigration issue is trouble for everyone in central Kentucky,” Republican state Sen. Tom Buford said. “The Iraq war is always difficult for all incumbents, even if they support pulling the troops out. It is a no-win situation when elections are at risk.”

Mr. McConnell registered a 48 percent approval rating last month in a SurveyUSA poll.

The weird part is the article's emphasis on immigration, which has supposedly split the state party and left people angered at Mitch's failure to publicly oppose Smirky's immigration bill.

No question that Kentucky Republicans hate and fear the dusky-hued and accented as much as Republicans anywhere, but even in a major election year here, immigration languishes at the bottom of the issue list.

The governor's race is all gambling, all the time, down-ticket repugs are running on being Not-Ernie, and the General Assembly is busy writing a rubber check for $300 million to Peabody Coal - apparently just because.

Right now, Mitch's re-election hinges on three factors over which he has little, if any control:

- The Governor's race. If Democrat Steve Beshear wins, he'll galvanize Kentucky Democrats for the 2008 election.
- The Iraq War. We've lost 62 Kentucky men and women in Iraq, and each new casualty increases the discontent exponentially.
- His Democratic opponent. At the moment, the field of potential candidates is weak, but a Beshear victory could change that quickly by opening the money spigots.

Hat tip to Bluegrass Report.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Repeat After Me: Bush Killed the Fourth Amendment


No surprise Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, is parroting the maladministration's lies on the Gut FISA And The Fourth Amendment For Good Measure Act, but for the record:

Speaking to the national Fraternal Order of Police conference (in Louisville Monday), the Kentucky Republican hailed the update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, saying "we're safer for it."

"Now to me, the idea that we were supposed to extend the Bill of Rights to a bunch of noncitizens overseas, let alone terrorists, wasn't only dangerous, it was the height of stupidity," McConnell said, drawing applause from the police group.

Remind me not to donate to the FOP this year.

To the Courier-Journal's minimal credit, they did indulge in some he-said-she-said stenography:

Civil liberties groups and some Democrats have said the measure went too far, and could enable the government to wiretap U.S. residents communicating with people overseas without adequate oversight from courts or Congress.

"This law has basically given the government the right to scoop up those communications without a warrant," Caroline Fredrickson, legislative director of the national American Civil Liberties Union, said in a phone interview Monday.

How much do we regret not strangling in the cradle the "Iraq (hearts) Al Qaeda" meme and the "Mushroom Cloud" meme and the "Liberals Want Us To Lose In Iraq" meme and all the other lies we let slide because we couldn't believe anybody with the brains FSM gave a walnut would believe them?

We have to put a stop to this "We're Only Spying on Terrorists" meme right now this instant.

It's not going to be easy. I spent my lunch hour today explaining to a highly intelligent, well-informed, very liberal co-worker that the "FISA revision" was actually the removal of privacy rights for American citizens. This co-worker hates Smirky, hates repugs, hates the war, would vote for Satan if he ran as a Democrat. But he couldn't believe that Congress would actually approve a bill that gave the president - any president - the right to spy on U.S. citizens without a warrant.

He did make one good point - people don't believe their rights have been removed until that removal affects their lives directly.

So how do we bring this home to people? How do we make them believe their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor are once again on the line?

UPDATE 8:20 p.m.: Always read the blog first. Looks like Gadfly at Watching Those We Chose may have discovered exactly the issue we need to bring this home to people.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Only 12 Weeks Left For Beshear to Lose His 18-Point Lead Over Fletcher

Kentucky Democrats are rejoicing over the latest poll showing Democratic Gubernatorial Nominee Steve Beshear 18 points ahead of Incumbent Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher.

And if they don't shut up and get to work I'm gonna take 'em all out back and beat the crap out of 'em.

In the last month, Beshear's lead has eroded six points. At this rate, come election day it'll be a dead heat.

Don't get me wrong; Beshear's running a great campaign, and Ernie keeps tripping over his own feet.

First Ernie chose to make the campaign all about Beshear's support for expanded gambling, flipping his own previous neutral stance on casinos to reveal a born-again opposition. Gambling is eeeeeeeevvvviiilll, Ernie shouted.

Really? Beshear responded. Then why haven't you shut down the state lottery, closed the racetracks and outlawed church bingo?

Casino interests are mobsters and criminals who will turn all our children into drug addicts and prostitutes, Ernie cried.

Really? BluegrassReport blogger Mark Nickolas asked. Then why have you taken thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the likes of Harrah's, Caesar's and the American Gaming Association?

Not my fault! Ernie whined. It's not like I solicited them.

Oops. Turns out Ernie sent out begging letters to those very eeeeeevvvvviilll criminal gambling interests in hopes they would buy into his $1,000-a-ticket golf fundraiser.

Ernie's one break was U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's better-late-than-never decision to campaign for Ernie, after abandoning Ernie during the primary.

Oops. Ernie paid Mitch back by refusing to endorse Mitch for re-election to the Senate next year.

In February, 12 weeks before the primary, pundits and "experts" - including yours truly - were declaring Ernie dead, with no chance to beat Mitch favorite Anne Northup. In May, he left her in the dust.

Kentucky Democrats lost the governor's mansion to Ernie in 2003 because they couldn't believe that a republican could take away the place they'd owned for 32 years.

This year, Kentucky Democrats can't believe Ernie can overcome an 18-point deficit.

Fletcher's a political moron. He's also the undeserving recipient of exceptional political luck.

Since last November, Kentucky's 2007 gubernatorial race has been held up as a harbinger for the 2008 presidential race.

Let us hope it does not also become a painful reminder of that old but still true saying:

Never Understimate the Ability of Democrats to Snatch Defeat From the Jaws of Victory.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Yet Another Coverup of a Murdered Soldier in the "War on Terra"

If you liked the Pat Tillman case, you'll love this one.

The Angry Independent, guest-posting on The Rude Pundit (no permlink - scroll down to America's Forgotten Soldier) details the horrific case of Private Lavena Lynn Johnson.

Young Pvt. Lavena Johnson, was killed in Iraq on July 19th, 2005. Evidence in the case points to assault and murder. However, the Army has been covering up the killing, calling the soldiers death a suicide instead. The Army has refused to provide the family with key documents, and has ignored the families attempts to find answers in their daughters death.


My theory on what may have happened to this young soldier? She was likely a victim of a rape or sexual assault of some kind, likely by superior officers or enlisted soldiers. In an effort to cover up their crime and keep her from telling anyone, they decided to kill her. The evidence in the case shows that the suspect (s) attempted to destroy evidence at the crime scene, including an attempt to try to set the crime scene on fire. The new information also shows that there was a blood trail leading outside from Lavena's tent. If she shot herself in the head with an M-16, then she would not have been able to get up and walk outside of her tent to create the blood trail. Another person would have had to do that.

OR an alternate scenario could be that Lavena was a witness to or knew of serious criminal activity involving officers or senior enlisted folks over there. She must have saw something or heard something, and her superiors knew that she could be a witness against them. In an effort to guarantee that she would not tell what she knew, someone decided to have her killed.


Fast Forward to May of 2007

Lavena Johnsons body was exhumed and an independent autopsy was performed. The final report is still pending. The Army is still stonewalling the family and Congress regarding documents and other evidence in the case.

This is currently where the case stands.

The publics help is still needed to get this story on the national stage. Once in the spotlight, pressure could be brought to bare to force officials into action.

Please call or write your member of Congress. If you are a journalist or the editor of a newspaper or magazine, you could help by covering the story and getting the word out.

Incredibly depressing post-script: Need I mention that unlike non-hero Jessica Lynch, Pvt. Johnson is neither white nor blond?

Even Worse Than We Thought

In Salon, Juan Cole lays bare the lies behind the claimed reduction in violence in Iraq during July.

By the time all the casualties were counted and reported (not until early August), was giving the July toll as 80, only one less than in March, during the opening stages of the surge.

Worse, comparisons to previous months in the spring don't take into account the searing summer environment. Baghdad in July is one of those torrid colonial locales of which Noel Coward was speaking in his 1923 song when he wrote that only "mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun." The dip in casualties is always substantial in July, since guerrillas usually prefer not to operate with heavy explosives when it is 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade.

And as a tally noted on Foreign Policy magazine's blog, the number of U.S. troop deaths in July, compared with previous years of the war, is anything but a turn for the better:

July 2003: 48
July 2004: 54
July 2005: 54
July 2006: 43
July 2007: 80


What has surged is not calm or political compromise, but rather the number of guerrilla attacks, the number of U.S. troop deaths compared to the same months in previous years, and the number of Iraqi casualties. That some of the U.S. media and the U.S. public have allowed themselves to be manipulated into thinking the "numbers" from Iraq are a cause for optimism echoes the sloppy and wishful thinking that got U.S. into this mess in the first place.

Iraqi access to electricity and even food and water has fallen, 2 million have been displaced internally and another million abroad since April of 2003. That is not encouraging, to say the least. The "national unity government" of Prime Minister al-Maliki is on the brink of total collapse, as the bad news piles up.

Indeed, the power of positive thinking is an old American value. But sometimes it causes people to fall for pyramid schemes, or even worse.

Yet more evidence than ever before that, as Kevin Drum has argued, the continued American occupation of Iraq is NOT postponing - much less avoiding - a civil war bloodbath, but rather aggravating it.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Falling for the Same Old Line

There are probably 57 different reasons why 16 Democratic Senators (including Jim Webb! - my heart's broken) and 41 Democratic Representatives voted to gut the Fourth Amendment and give The Usurper dictatorial powers.

But if the primary reason was that those 57 dems actually fell - AGAIN - for Rovian fear-mongering, Glenn Greenwald in Salon demolishes that excuse.

Read the whole thing, but here's a taste:

We do not need to wonder or speculate about what might happen if Democrats obstruct warrantless eavesdropping legislation and Republicans are then able to make an issue of it politically. That already happened in 2006. That was Rove's whole strategy. It failed miserably, across the board. And yet the Democratic leadership just permitted, and many Democrats supported, a wild expansion of George Bush's warrantless eavesdropping powers based on a jittery fear of this already-failed tactic, if not based on actual support for these increased eavesdropping powers.

In this post and this one Glenn also makes the point that the 57th Retreating Dems aren't as big a problem as the Democratic "leadership" in both houses, which could have put a stop to the disaster by simply rejecting Smirky's order to pass the law or else.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Mitch at Fancy Farm: Stumbo Draws First Blood

Never let it be said that Greg Stumbo doesn't come out swinging. The Kentucky Attorney General is close to the worst possible choice to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for re-election next year, but Greg drew first blood at the 127th annual "Pork, Pie and Politics" Fancy Farm picnic yesterday. The Lexington Herald-Leader's Jack Brammer reports:

McConnell never mentioned his bid for re-election next year. But Democratic Attorney General Greg Stumbo, who has formed an exploratory committee for a possible run against McConnell, brought several dogs with him to make light of McConnell's famous campaign ad against U.S. Walter "Dee" Huddleston in the 1980s, in which he used hounds to search for Huddleston. Stumbo's white polo shirt said he is "hunting for a real U.S. Senator."

McConnell's only decent line was a shot at Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Steve Beshear.

McConnell noted that he defeated Beshear in a U.S. Senate race in 1996 and that Beshear ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1987.

"It's actually good to see that Kentucky Democrats embrace recycling," McConnell said.

Yep, and you're headed for the compost pile, Mitch.

The real fireworks were between Beshear and Incumbent Criminal Gov. Ernie Fletcher. Brammer again:

The two candidates for governor stumped for votes as a heavily partisan crowd whooped for their favorites and heckled their opponents. Fletcher employed costumed characters in the crowd to underscore his comments. Fletcher said Attorney General Greg Stumbo and other Democrats could not stop him even with their "political witch hunt." On cue, a young woman dressed in a witch's black outfit stood up in the audience as Fletcher pointed to her.

He was referring to a lengthy investigation of hiring in his administration that led to three misdemeanor charges against Fletcher that later were dropped when he and Stumbo reached an agreement.

Fletcher later pointed to a character dressed like Moses. "He must be looking for the Ten Commandments, but he won't find them in our courthouses or schools," the governor said.

He was referring to Beshear's decision as attorney general from 1979 to 1983 when Beshear issued advisory opinions that removed copies of the Ten Commandments from public-school classrooms. At the time, Beshear said he had to follow constitutional and U.S. Supreme Court guidelines.

"I obeyed the law," Beshear said yesterday. "As governor I would obey the law. And wouldn't that be a great change to have a governor who obeys the law?" To illustrate his point, about 15 Beshear supporters who were labeled "Ernie's Chain Gang" marched around the crowd while dressed in prison garb and handcuffs.

Fletcher countered with "Easy Money Steve," who threw out casino chips ridiculing Beshear's position that Kentuckians should decide at the polls whether to allow expanded gambling.

Fletcher, who initially said he would not support or oppose a legislative move for casino gambling but now maintains expanded gambling will never occur while he is governor, said casino gambling in the state would lead to an increase in crimes, divorces and bankruptcies.

Beshear accused Fletcher of using scare tactics on the gambling issue, noting that the Fancy Farm picnic's main purpose is to raise funds through charitable gaming for St. Jerome Catholic church.

He called Fletcher hypocritical for not calling for the repeal of church bingo, the state lottery and parimutuel wagering.

After their speeches, Fletcher said "there is a world of difference" between casino gambling and other forms of gambling now in Kentucky.

In his speech, Beshear pounded away at the "failed leadership" in Frankfort the last four years.

Mixing a tourist slogan for Las Vegas with his lack-of-leadership claims, Beshear said, "What's going on in Frankfort right now shouldn't stay in Frankfort any longer." He then rattled off some figures that showed Kentucky in recent years has been dropping in economic development rankings for states.

And the prize for low blow predictably goes to one of the state's slimiest wingnuts.

The two candidates' running mates also did not shy away from each other. Robbie Rudolph, Fletcher's running mate, said Beshear and state Sen. Daniel Mongiardo of Hazard are "a match made in Vegas."

Rudolph said, "Fancy Dan likes young ...." Rudolph then paused, saying he is glad his daughter recently married.

Rudolph's comments were a reference to Mongiardo's engagement to Allison Patrick of Frankfort. There is an age difference of about 25 years between Mongiardo, 47, and Patrick. Mongiardo said they will not marry until after the November election.

Nice double-play there, implying Mongiardo is both gay and a child molester. Classy, Robbie. Very classy.

UPDATE 7:15 p.m.:
Ditch Mitch has good Fancy Farm coverage (no permalink; scroll down) and Hillbilly Report has pictures.

Takin' Names for 2008


I hereby nominate Sixth District Congressman Ben Chandler, D-KY, for the first name on the DINO Hit List to get a progressive primary opponent in 2008.

The treasonous schmuck was one of 41 "Democrats" voting to let the Usurper put the finishing touches on his American Dictatorship.

In January, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave Sophmore Chandler a seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee, as a fairly obvious incentive to get him to vote the straight and narrow on the Democratic agenda.

At first it seemed to work, too. Benny voted in line with the leadership on most of the important votes, most recently co-sponsoring a bill to impeach AG Alberto Gonzales.

But Benny's been a shill for this maladministration since his special election in 2004, and now he's reverting to form.

Look, I understand the importance of not eating our young, keeping the majority, red-state politics, blah, blah, blah.

But a vote that blatantly invites Smirky to shit on the Bill of Rights? An engraved invitation to declare himself dictator-for-life? When bush's disapproval rate is poised to exceed Nixon's? When republicans are running for the exits? When a significant majority of Americans trust DEMOCRATS more than republicans on the war on terror?

What. The. Fuck?

No, scratch that. I don't really care what slimy rationalizations float in Chandler's wingnut brain.

With Democrats like Chandler (and Nick Lampson and Henry Cuellar, the ungrateful bastards), what do we need with republicans?

We - real Democrats, liberals, progressive, members of the reality-based community, bush-haters all - WE got these assholes elected. WE handed them the House and the Senate.

WE brought them into this new Democratic world, and WE can take them out of it.

Next year, people will not only be looking for a way to punish republicans hard, they'll also be looking for a way to punish Democratic Collaborators.

2008 is going to be our best chance to not just grab huge majorities in both houses of Congress, but to replace Democratic Collaborators with Real Democrats.

Check out this vote roll to find out whether your Democratic representative is a collaborator. If he or she voted yes, start recruiting a primary opponent today.

Do it now, before voting Democratic makes you an enemy combatant, Guantanamo-bound.

I am extremely relieved and proud to announce that Louisville's own John Yarmuth, D-KY voted keep the Bill of Rights and deny Smirky a crown.

UPDATE, 7:18 p.m.: Logical Negativism has the full list of House Blue Dogs.

Matt Bai Doesn't Get It

The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics

It's a bad sign when, after you finish reading a book you're going to review, and you flip back through the pages, you find that on every fifth page you've written in the margin:


Bai writes for the New York Times Magazine, so you won't be surprised that this book gave me flashbacks to the Clarence Thomas hearings.

Yeah, Bai hung out with Jerome and Markos, and he attended the first Yearly Kos, and he has one or two not-nasty things to say about Howard Dean, but basically these 308 pages boil down to this:

The Democratic Party has been hijacked by a bunch of clueless billionaires and crazy losers from the blogosphere who don't have the kind of well-designed party platform that will gain them the trust and endorsement of real Democrats like Joe Lieberman and the Editorial Board of the New York Times.

One typical snide snark:

"The blogs ... were, in fact, the voices of the new public square, but it was more like the Parisian public square in the days of the Bastille - not a place where tonwspeople came to carefully consider what their leaders had to say, but where the mob gathered to make its demands and mete out its own kind of justice."

OK, first up for the Internet guillotine: Patronizing MSM Broderists like Matt Bai.

And the section on a Move On house party to come up with five-word progressive agenda items was just about the most condescending thing I've ever read. The "tiny apartment" (Bai couldn't find a place to sit) in "a mostly-black, mixed-income neighborhood" (poor people and minorities - borrrrrring) filled with people who struggled with ideas and weren't poised and eloquent like his Georgetown friends. Good grief, even the snacks were home-made and brought by attendees - haven't these people ever heard of caterers?

FSM give me strength.

But the real crime Bai commits is that in the service of his Beltway MSM agenda he wastes a ton of pretty decent reporting. Bai's premise is that despite a historic political victory last November, the Democrats still don't have a winning platform. And he'll twist any fact, any quote to prove that premise.

One minute he's sneering at dems for phrasing their beliefs in broad, philosophical language - "help working families," "universal health care" - lacking specific policy prescriptions, and the next he's complaining that their beliefs are just a bunch of detailed policy prescriptions, without a broad, overarching philosophy.

And they have the gall to hate Bush and the Republicans! Just because Bush and the Republicans are doing every thing they can to destroy the last semblance of democracy, freedom and the rule of law in this country. How naive. How unserious. How inappropriate. They probably wear white after Labor Day, too.

Then he accuses Democrats of the worst crime of all: working to win elections!

Boy, it's a good thing FDR, Truman and JFK never had to campaign for office - they never would have had time to actually lead the country.

He even trots out that old canard that Democrats have no "new ideas." Gives it pseudo-legitimacy by quoting actual Democrats saying it.

Matty boy. you're about four curves behind. The Liberals and Progressives of the Democratic Party have spent the last 12 years developing exactly the broad philosopies and detailed policy proposals that are not only good for the country but have the approval of the majority of Americans.

No, we don't all agree on the specifics, but that's how ideas and policies get honed to perfection - in the fire of political debate.

What we're just starting to get - in the persons of Jim Webb, Jon Tester and John Yarmuth - are Democratic politicians who are willing to stand up proudly and proclaim those liberal values and policies. And by doing so, win elections.

If you're curious about how we got from the suicidal depression of November 2004 to where we are today, there's some good stuff here - especially about the secretive Democracy Alliance of progressive billionaires.

But The Argument is best read as a warning: that even after the genuine miracles liberals and progressives have achieved in the past two years, the twin stereotypes of "feckless Democrats" and "crazy, nihilistic bloggers" aren't going away any time soon.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Pork, Pie and Politics

If you're going to be spending Saturday afternoon like me, in an air-conditioned living room hiding from a truly vicious heat wave, check out KET's live web-casting from Fancy Farm starting at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.

If you know what Fancy Farm is, and you're not from Kentucky, congratulations! You are a seriously addicted political geek in dire need of A Life. If you're from Kentucky and you don't know what Fancy Farm is, what are you doing reading a political blog? Go back to surfing Facebook, you slacker.

Fancy Farm is a tiny town in the far, far southwestern corner of Kentucky, where, on the first Saturday in August, the population explodes from 600 to 15,000 people there to eat the Best Barbeque North of Memphis and heckle politicians attempting to make campaign speeches outdoors in a heat/humidity index pushing four figures.

Rumor this year is that the Young Democrats are going to dress up in orange prison jumpsuits and march around to mock Indicted and Admitted Criminal Governor Ernie Fletcher.

Republican heckling of Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Steve Beshear is supposedly going to involve a well-funded parody of Beshear's support for expanded gambling. I have a hard time believing they're not going to exploit running mate Dan Mongiardo's - well, the repugs can't decide whether Dan's gay or a cradle-robber for getting engaged to a girl half his age (I do wish the wingnuts would keep their sex fears consistent.)

The event is being emceed by Republican State Senate President David Williams, who has vowed to "control" the crowd. This announcement caused uncontrollable laughter in every precinct of the state. The whole point of Fancy Farm is to goad your candidate's opponent into some kind of foaming-at-the-mouth freak-out that your guy can make the centerpiece of his attack ads.

Fancy Farm always provides political theater at its best; this year, with the first Republican Governor in 32 years running for re-election despite admitting breaking state law and boasting an approval rating worse than George Bush's, is driving partisans on both sides to new heights - depths? - of bring-your-video-camera drama.

Williams' threat of "control" is driving Democrats to a performance-art frenzy. Expect Gestapo-style "security" tactics against Democratic demonstrators.

But the big attraction is Kentucky's own U.S. Senate Minority Leader and Facilitator of the Filibuster Mitch McConnell.

Mitch will have his handful of supporters, of course, and his hundreds of bought-and-paid-for demonstrators, but the Fancy Farm crowd demands its speakers stand up alone and expose themselves to shrieking abuse.

No tame New York Times reporters at Fancy Farm. No Fox Noise sycophants. No Joe Lierberman to hide behind.

Just you, Mitch. You, the heat, the humidity and 15,000 partisans slavering for payback.

And the Food Network, there to check out the barbeque.