Friday, September 28, 2007

Blogging Burma

CNN reports that Burmese citizens were risking their lives to send photos of the protest crackdown over their cell phones to the world outside.

Foreign journalists, at least one of whom is believed to have been killed by the military in their initial attack on protesters, have been barred from the country. Burma, suffering under a brutal dictatorship, has no free press. The only thing keeping the truth about Burma alive was the Internet, and the courage of ordinary citizens.

Ko Htike, a Burmese refugee living in London, has been blogging the protests and the ensuing crackdown live. Earlier today, the military junta cut the country off from the Internet, but Htike is still blogging, still collecting information, still making sure that this time, the world knows exactly what's happening.

Warning: Photo now at top of Ko Htike's page is graphic and disturbing.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Most Important Office for Democrats to Win in This Election is NOT Governor


There is one and only one state office on the ballot in November that Kentucky Democrats must win.

Unfortunately, it's also the one office Democrats seem most reluctant to take away from the Republican incumbent.

No question Secretary of State Trey Grayson is the most competent and least-corrupt Republican office-holder in Frankfort.

No question that Democratic challenger Bruce Hendrickson, a qualified candidate and fine person by all accounts, has yet to make a compelling argument for preferring him over Grayson.

But no question that Democrats simply cannot afford to have a Republican Secretary of State in charge of elections in 2008.

In other words, when you hear or see "Trey Grayson," think "Katherine Harris."

As Mark Nickolas of Bluegrass Report makes clear, the 2000 Florida debacle that stole the presidential election from Al Gore boils down to the series of perfectly legal decisions made by Florida Secretary of State, Republican Katherine Harris.

Who do I want as the state's top election official during next year's races? If McConnell's re-election (or even the presidential race) comes down to a few thousand votes, who do I want making the calls on election challenges or provisional ballots or when to certify a race or how to manage a recount at the top of the ticket? Is there any doubt that Trey -- like Katherine Harris -- will provide the Republican Party with an advantage at every possible turn within his legitimate power as Secretary of State? I have no doubt.

A friend recently raged against Hendrickson because that despicable bigot Frank Simon has endorsed Hendrickson.

OK, maybe a Frank Simon endorsement is prima facie evidence of unfitness for office. And for any other office, I'd be tempted to go for even a wingnut over a Friend of Frank's.

But Secretary of State isn't any other office. It is THE office. The one whose holder will determine whether every Democrat who is eligible to vote is allowed to register to vote, and whether every Democrat who is registered to vote is allowed to vote.

If Democrats do not reclaim the Secretary of State's office, then having a Democratic Governor, Lt. Gov., Attorney General, Auditor, Treasurer and even Commissioner of Agriculture will not make the slightest difference.

What profiteth a Kentuckian to gain the governorship, if we lose the right to have our votes count?

UPDATE, 6:10 p.m., Friday, Sept. 27: In comments, someone on Hendrickson's campaign claims the Simon endorsement was a mistake and takes the blame. An anonymous commenter respond that if that is the case, Hendrickson must publicly refuse the endorsement and disavow Simon. If Hendrikson does so, he will gain both votes and contributions. If he does not, he deserves to lose.

Cross-posted at Bluegrass Roots

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Beltway Madness: Why Any Democrat Just Won't Do

Our parochial Kentucky concerns about the governor's race, preparing to Ditch Mitch, and how we can make sure Sammie Phillips is the last Kentuckian to die in Iraq may be distracting us from the graduate seminar on How To Commit Political Suicide While Destroying the Country that is the "Democratic" Congress.

Since taking over Congress in January, Democrats have voted to:

- keep American troops as sitting ducks in the middle of an Iraqi civil war forever
- let Smirky and Darth keep disappearing and torturing American citizens without arrest warrants
- let Smirky and Darth keep spying on American citizens without warrants
- authorize Smirky and Darth to attack Iran, triggering global nuclear catastrophe

And I don't mean just Blue Dog, Smirky-worshipping, republicans-in-diguise Democrats like Ben Chandler and Joe Lieberman.

I mean supposed liberals like Dianne Feinstein, veterans like Jim Webb, presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton.

Why do they do it? Why do they spit in the face of the Democrats who voted for them? Why do they shit on the Constitution? Why do they turn their backs on America's Best and Bravest who are dying for no reason in the Iraqi desert?

Today Glenn Greenwald in Salon comes up with a new theory of Beltway Madness that explains votes that remain mysterious under all other theories.

Glenn's theory also emphasizes the critical importance of ensuring that the only Democrats permitted to reach Congress are true progressives who have not yet been co-opted by Beltway Madness.

Read whole thing, but here are the money grafs:

In this regard, she (Feinstein) really symbolizes a major imbalance in the Washington political system. The right-wing Republicans in Congress have an affinity with their base and share the same basic values. One saw that quite vividly in the recent immigration debate, where most Congressional Republicans -- particularly the "conservative" ones -- embraced rather than ran away from their angry, impassioned base by blocking enactment of the immigration bill which the GOP establishment favored but which the right-wing base hated. Most conservative Senators sided with their base over the GOP establishment, as they usually do when there is a split (Harriet Miers, Dubai Port Deal, even steadfast support for the Iraq War). And they rarely repudiate the political value system of their base because they respect it and share it.
By very stark contrast, most (though certainly not all) Democrats in Congress -- particularly the most influential and longest-serving ones in the Senate like Feinstein -- have contempt for their base and share virtually none of their values. In March of last year, I had an e-mail exchange with the spokesperson for a key Democratic Senator on the Intelligence Committee regarding how bloggers and their readers could work more closely with Democratic Senators to highlight the need for the NSA lawbreaking scandal to be investigated and taken more seriously. Ultimately, they made clear that they wanted nothing to do with actual citizens who were eager to bring that situation about, as I was told:
I think there is an opportunity for us to figure out a better way to work together. But, you have to understand, my ultimate goal is to help [the] Senator achieve his objective of real oversight on national security matters by the Intelligence Committee.
Even with the best of intentions, I'm not convinced that bloggers can help us meet that goal. In fact, I worry about it hurting our efforts given the increasingly partisan environment.

As Digby said yesterday of Senate Democrats: "it surely seems true that they loathe the Democratic base as much as the Republicans do."

Right now, only John Yarmuth of Louisville's Third District is genuinely representing Kentucky Democrats.

Let's get serious about recruiting REAL Democrats for the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, and yes, Sixth District Congressional races next year, not to mention Mitch's Senate seat.

Let's find the Sixth's District's John Yarmuth or Andrew Horne. Let's support a REAL Democrat who will take on Ben Chandler.

As we have seen over the past 8 months, Democrats In Name Only are not enough. America is teetering on the edge of genuine disaster, and only Real, Progressive Democrats can save us.

Cross-posted at BluegrassRoots

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Who Among Us Has Never Been An Asshole in Public?

If there's anyone left who thinks we're not a police state rapidly sinking toward Chile under Pinochet, with Abu Graibs, news this week that the punishment for being an asshole in public is now electrocution with 10,000 volts.

I am so sickened, stunned, horrified and terrified by this I don't even know where to start. So I'm going to let the Rude Pundit, in rare PG-13 mode, say it for me. Highlights:

To be sure, Andrew Meyer is an asshole. You get that from his writings. And if being an asshole is all that it takes for some to think you deserve a shot of electricity, well, let's march over to Fox "news" and let the voltage flow. No, no matter how many incidents of assholery are in Meyer's life, this doesn't fly. A prostitute can be raped, you know?

Yes, he did jump to the front of the line to demand to ask Kerry a question, but Meyer was tasered because he wouldn't knuckle under to the authority of the cops. He wasn't a threat, he wasn't violent, he was trying to comply (although you try doing anything rational when you're on the ground with half a dozen cops on top of you, yelling at you and an auditorium of people yelling about, some laughing at, what's being done to you), and he still got tasered.

Our country is so devoid of actual dissent and activism, so filled with citizens cowed by cops and security of all sorts treating us like criminals, that stepping out of line in the smallest way or slightly breaking decorum now seems to deserve a smackdown. Acquiescence is not only expected. It will be enforced. And so many of us are willing to participate in the enforcement, rolling our eyes and laughing at those who would dare misbehave.

Cross-posted at BluegrassRoots

Mitch's Solicitous Concern for the Democrats

If the fairy tale General David Petraeus told Congress accomplishes nothing else, it appears to have melted the cold, hard, partisan heart of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McConnell is very concerned about the effect of's infamous ad calling Petraeus "Betray Us" for his misrepresentations to Congress and the American people.

But McConnell is not concerned about the ad's deleterious effect on Petraeus' credibility, or public trust in Smirky or Congress.

No, no. McConnell is worried about the ad's damage to the Democratic Party.

On Hugh Hewitt's radio show September 11, McConnell said this about Move On and the Betray Us ad:

"I assure you, we're going to continue to press Democrats both collectively and individually to denounce this ad. I think this organization is ruining the reputation of the Democratic Party."

Bless you, Mitch. Bless you for your nonpartisan concern for American Democracy.

Hat tip to Glenn Greenwald.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Kentucky Farm Bureau a Bunch of Antediluvian Bigots

Page One Kentucky picks up an important story being studiously ignored by the state's media.

Short version: One of the largest and most influential lobbying organizations in Kentucky fired an employee for publicly supporting gay rights - and doing so in his private life.

Long version: A lawsuit has revealed that the Kentucky Farm Bureau has gone waaaay beyond its mandate to represent Kentucky's farmers and agricultural industry. Indeed, KFB is swimming neck-deep in racist, sexist, misogynistic, authoritarian, anti-freedom, homophobic, anti-First Amendment, tight-assed wingnut Puritanism.

Todd Eklof, minister of Clifton Unitarian Church in Louisville, spoke to his congregation in late 2004 about the importance of putting an end to discrimination. He vowed to stop performing marriage and commitment ceremonies for all couples until the anti-gay marriage amendment passed in 2004 is overturned.

Kentucky Farm Bureau (Todd’s employer) didn’t like this stance and fired Eklof shortly thereafter.


Rev. Eklof’s luck changed in May of this year when Sam Moore, president of KFB at the time of Eklof’s dismissal and a current member of its Board of Directors, admitted under oath that Kentucky Farm Bureau fired Todd Ekloff for being supportive of gay marriage.

It gets worse. Seems that KFB's institutionalized discrimination is documented in its policy handbook, which, under the section title "Our Democratic System," follows platitudes about freedom and equality with statements condemning abortion, pornography and affirmative action in addition to gay marriage.

What abortion, pornography, affirmative action and gay marriage have to do with farming and agriculture is beyond me. And contrary to what the KFB apparently believes, not all Kentucky farmers are right-wing authoritarian bigots. Some of us are even liberals. I own and live on agricultural land, although I don't make a living from farming it, and I strongly resent KFB taking political positions on issues that have nothing to do with agriculture.

Adding insult to injury, Kentucky's major media are ignoring the story, despite a press release Eklof sent to all of them September 4. As Page One properly and indignantly notes, this is a huge story about the state's biggest industry and the very powerful organization that calls itself the "Voice of Kentucky Agriculture."

KFB claims to represent farmers in every single one of Kentucky's 120 counties. Why is it not being challenged on this issue by the Louisville and Lexington newspapers and television stations?

Many fun and disgusting details here.

Cross-posted at BluegrassRoots.

Mitch Hit by Two Blows in Same Day

Not only did today see Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell outed as one of the most corrupt members of Congress, a new poll revealed how deeply unpopular he is in his home state.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released its report Beyond DeLay: The 22 Most Corrupt Members of Congress (and two to watch) this morning, Mitch prominent on the list, and lots of gory details.

This afternoon, the Lexington Herald-Leader and WTVQ-36 released more results of its recent comprehensive poll, these revealing that 55 percent of Kentuckians disapprove of McConnell's position on Iraq. Thirty-eight percent approve, and seven percent are undecided.

MediaCzech at BluegrassRoots has the details.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Republican Floodgates Open; Race to Endorse Democrat Beshear Begins


Bluegrass Report has been predicting for weeks that Republican officials would soon start endorsing Democrat Steve Beshear over incumbent Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher.

Most of us thought the first one would be Lt. Governor Steve Pence, who rejected Fletcher in August 2006, after Fletcher was indicted for violating state hiring laws.

But Pence wimped out last month with a pale refusal to endorse Ernie. Instead, first out of the gate is former state representative Steve Nunn.

"I believe in good government," Nunn said. "I believe we need to elect people who are going to govern and the core group around the governor and the governor himself haven't demonstrated an ability to do that or to deserve another four years."

Nunn, who lost his seat last year, said he has no plans to become a Democrat. "I think Republicans should be for good government and this Republican is for change."

Steve Nunn lost his seat in the state House last year for lack of wingnuttery - in other words, he put his constituents and the good of the Commonwealth ahead of his party and his own personal ambition.

Which is exactly what his father, Louie B. Nunn, did as Kentucky's last Republican Governor almost 40 years ago.

Louie Nunn is excoriated by state employees to this day for firing Democratic state workers and replacing them with Republicans. But Louie Nunn single-handedly saved the Kentucky economy from sinking to Fourth-World levels by creating the state's first sales tax.

The five-percent tax was labeled "Nunn's Nickel," and it cost Louie - only 47 when his term ended - any hope of future political office in Kentucky.

Louie had a political resurrection of sorts in the late '90s, when he once again championed an unpopular cause to help the state he served. Louie lent publicity, credibility, and some humor to the hemp-legalization movement by escorting a truckload of legal Canadian hemp to the front of the Capitol in Frankfort.

Steve is no fan of Ernie - he lost to Fletcher in the republican gubernatorial primary in May 2003 - but he's also his Daddy's boy. Louie died in January 2004, but his legacy of doing the right thing and damn the consequences lives on in his son.

Steve Nunn's endorsement of Steve Beshear may start not only a rush of Kentucky Republicans to the Democrat's side, but also some new thinking among those same Republicans about abandoning Mitch McConnell in 2008.

No one would call Steve Nunn a leader of the Kentucky Republican Party.

But I will call Steve Nunn this: The Last Kentucky Republican With Integrity.

UPDATE, 10:47 a.m.: Ben Carter of BlueGrass Roots points out that Governor Bert Combs established the first Kentucky sales tax of 3 percent. Louie Nunn increased it to five percent. Apologies for the fact-checking failure, and thanks to Ben. If I may point out, the sales tax was perhaps the least of Comb's accomplishments. He desegregated public accommodations in Kentucky, formed the first state Human Rights Commission, improved education, expanded the state highway system and established the merit system for state employees. I, too, would rank Bert Combs close to the top of the list of great Kentucky Governors.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Best 9/11 Tribute Ever

Warning: Rude Pundit, so XXX-rated.

9/11 Is Tired of Your Tears

Sixty-Seven and Counting

Private First Class Sammie E. Phillips, 19, of Vine Grove, Kentucky, was killed on Monday, September 10, when his vehicle overturned while conducting a traffic control mission on a highway near Rustamiyah, Iraq. Phillips was assigned to Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery, Kentucky Army National Guard, based in Carlisle, Ky.

PFC Sammie Phillips is the third Kentucky National Guard member to die in Iraq or Afghanistan in the last two weeks.

PFC Sammie Phillips is the 67th Kentuckian to die while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq or Afghanistan.

PFC Sammie Phillips is a homicide victim
The perpetrator of this cold-blooded, pre-meditated murder is George Walker Bush, a 61-year-old Caucasian male with a long history of using family money and influence to skate on felony charges.

Impeachment, my ass.

Nothing short of indictment on 3,759 charges of first-degree murder will do.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Court-Martial Petraeus

I originally posted this last Friday as a comment on Salon to Glenn Greenwald's column.

I'm going to keep repeating this until Betrayus is court-martialed for Dereliction of Duty and violating his Service Oath.

After reading Kevin Drum at Political Animal on Petraeus' brilliantly aiming his hearts-and-minds campaigns not at the Iraqis but at the American public, while Iraq burns all around him, I'm starting to believe that David Petraeus will very soon stand with Robert McNamara (another genius IQ unable to see past the end of a gun) and William Westmoreland as an unindicted war criminal.

Every word Petraeus speaks, every order he gives, every sentence he writes, every interview he grants in support of Smirky's and Darth's Endless War is a betrayal of his Service Oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, and his responsibility as a commander to his troops.

The "Lead to the Kentucky Story of the Decade?"

I can't resist a good mystery - who can? So operating completely blind, I'm posting this request from Page One Kentucky.

Are YOU the person who can help us?
September 7th, 2007

Page One is looking for answers to a few questions. It’s imperative that we get to the bottom of something. We need your help and we’ll be hammering this matter for weeks to come.

We’re trying to locate a male, possibly now in his 40s, who resides in Louisville or the greater Louisville metro area. He’s from the Oldham/Henry/Trimble County area and his family owned Earl Floyd Ford in Bedford in the 1970s. This gentleman was in his twenties in the 1980s and worked in a downtown Louisville parking garage.

Can anyone help us? If you can, please shoot us an e-mail. Confidentiality is a must and we absolutely don’t want a discussion about the specifics in the comments.

If you’re a blogger: please consider posting a link to our plea. It could possibly lead to the Kentucky story of the decade.

No, I don't have the slightest idea what this is all about. But I can't wait to find out.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Next Round Against the Religious Wrongs

If you worry that even with the republican party imploding left, right and center, the rovians will once again use their "Family Values" bag of tricks to pull out a victory in 2008, keep an eye on the Kentucky Governor's race now in its last 60 days.

Gay marriage, the ten commandments, prayer in schools - the republicans are preparing to launch all the Golden Oldies against the Democrats in October.

But this time, finally, there are definite signs that Kentucky Democrats have learned not only how to fight back effectively, but actually attack the repugs on their own "Family values" ground.

Republican incumbent Ernie Fletcher, with a record of incompetence that rivals Smirky's - except for the dead people - has been reduced to running on the "we're christians and they're not" line.

It started in June, when Fletcher reversed his previous stand on expanding gambling on Kentucky. Through the May primary, Fletcher had said he would not oppose a referendum on expanding gambling, though he wasn't personally in favor of it.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Steve Beshear has been running since February on a promise to bring expanded gambling to Kentucky. Some polls have shown that a majority of Kentuckians support expanded gambling, and more than 80 percent favor a referendum on the issue.

After Beshear won the May Democratic primary, the first post-primary polls showed Beshear beating Fletcher by as much as 40 points (Beshear has since dropped to an 18-point lead.)

Ernie flipped and came out four-square against expanded gambling, and against even allowing a referendum.

Let's upack that flip: First, if Ernie had a record of accomplishments to run on, he could afford to maintain his previous neutrality. But his record being one of unmitigated incompetence, illegality and immorality, he desperately needs an issue.

Second, Ernie gains precisely zero new votes with this changed position. Voters who oppose expanded gambling on moral grounds are already republicans who wouldn't vote for a Democrat under threat of waterboarding. Democratic voters, like me, who oppose expanded gambling on the reality-based grounds that casinos are a really stupid way to grow an economy, are desperate to get rid of Ernie and are prepared to hold our noses and vote for Beshear regardless.

Third, and this is the fun part, Ernie's flip may actually lose him some votes from his base. Among the republican opponents of expanded gambling are a significant number who strongly favor a referendum. Some may actually be deluded that they can defeat that measure, but others may want to get their opposition to expanded gambling on the record, or just make their voices heard.

So Ernie has really stepped in it. He claims to oppose expanded gambling on moral grounds, but also opposes giving those who agree with him to chance to vote it down.

A month of expensive TV commercials by Ernie on the horrors of expanded gambling has gotten him nowhere in the polls, and that's why Kentucky Democrats are preparing for an avalanche of "Democrats (heart) Satan" commercials, probably starting in October.

But Beshear and the other Democrats on the state ticket have already seized the high moral ground in a way that the party's 2008 candidates nationwide would do well to study and emulate. Some examples:

On Gambling: Democrats taunted Fletcher during his speech at the Fancy Farm picnic that his faith-based opposition to gambling exempts Kentucky's iconic horse racing industry and the extremely popular church- and community organization-based bingo industry. In fact, bingo took place just a few yards from where Fletcher was condemning gambling. If Ernie thinks gambling is so horrible, Democrats asked, why doesn't he propose shutting down the race tracks and the bingo halls?

On the Ten Commandments: Back in the early '80s, when Beshear was Attorney General, he issued an opinion that yes, the U.S. Supreme Count decision banning publicly-funded religious displays does, indeed, apply in Kentucky. Fletcher claims this proves Beshear, the son of a Baptist lay minister, is Satan's Agent.

Beshear says this: My father used to say that it doesn't matter where you hang the Ten Commandments on the wall; it matters how you keep the Ten Commandments in your heart and how you follow them in your life. Ernie Fletcher has admitted to breaking the laws of the Commonwealth. My father would not consider that to be living the Ten Commandments.

On Prayer in Schools: While he was Attorney General, Beshear issued another opinion that yes, the U.S. Supreme Court decision banning spoken prayer in public schools does, indeed, apply in Kentucky. Fletcher claims this proves Beshear, the son of a Baptist lay minister, is Satan's Agent.

I have not yet heard Beshear speak directly to this issue, but it's an absolute gimme for liberals. Not that the religious wrongs give a damn about the New Testament, but just for the record, here is Jesus on public prayer (Matthew 6)

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites [are]: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

On General Morality: Until recently, repugs have been so effective in painting Democrats as evil, atheistic minions of Satan, that last year a substitute teacher in my home town who admitted to a fourth-grade class that she was a Democrat, was asked by one child, innocently and seriously: "Why don't you believe in God?"

Kentucky's unions aren't taking that crap lying down. They formed a 527 to stop Bruce Lunsford from winning the Democratic gubernatorial primary in May and now they're airing radio spots to attack the republicans' "Christian values." From Bluegrass Report:

The deliberately folksy spot takes aim at Governor Fletcher (R) and attorney general nominee Stan Lee (R) on "Christian values." The ad criticizes both for "implying they are God's chosen candidates" and then reminds voters that Christian values also includes things like soaring health care costs, affordable education, and good jobs -- issues that neither candidate seems much interested in talking about.

Unions being smarter than your average bear, they are running these ads not in the secular-humanist, Democratic-majority enclaves of Lexington and Louisville, but in the Fundamentalist capitals of south-central, eastern and western Kentucky.

On Gay Marriage: This one killed Dan Mongiardo's nearly successful challenge to Senator Jim Bunning in 2004, and could threaten Jack Conway's race for Attorney General. Not because either Mongiardo or Conway are in favor of gay marriage, or even civil unions, but because both men (Conway is married; Mongiardo engaged) are the subject of repug whispering campaigns that they are gay.

Nice try, but the worm appears to be turning on gay issues even in Kentucky. People are just tired of the fear- and hate-mongering, and starting to admit they just don't care whether someone is gay.

No poll numbers for you, but a pretty good anecdote: Met a 70-year-old woman this weekend who talked about her still-healthy and still-sharp 91-year-old aunt. The one issue on which the aunt really hates republicans is gay marriage. Sayeth the aunt: "I don't care who sticks what where!"

There are two keys to success in these Democratic attacks on the repugs anti-christian values:

1) Authenticity. As in NOT hypocrisy. The Kentucky Democrats making religious points are genuine Christians and have been all their lives. In their professional and personal lives, they live New Testament, Jesus-directed values. When they speak on the subject of religious values, they sound authentic because they are.

2) Democratic/Progressive/Liberal Values. Kentucky's unions are making the too-often-ignored point that traditional Democratic values ARE genuine Christian values, and that republican values are not. This is critical. Democrats who apologize for traditional Democratic values as not being Christian enough lose (see Harold Ford.) Democrats who stand up proudly for their Democratic values win (see John Yarmuth.)

I have raged for three years now against Democrats attempting to win over "Family Values" voters by pandering to the religious wrongs. It never, never, EVER works. Members of the religious wrong would rather vote for Larry Craig or Mark Foley than any Democrat, no matter how "religious."

Moderate republicans and independents, however, are open to a Democratic candidate with the courage of her convictions, even if those convictions are secular humanist. Such courage might actually get all those non-voting Democrats off the sofa on Election Day.

Standing proud for Democratic values worked last November for John Yarmuth in Louisville. We'll see in 59 days if attacking repugs on their own "Family Values" ground works for Beshear-Mongiardo, Conway and the other Democrats statewide.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Road Out of Iraq Leads Through David Vitter

The Rude Pundit gets way too much attention for his Triple-X-rated rants, and nowhere near enough for his dead-on and usually unique political insights.

On Tuesday, he revealed the possible way out for Democrats on Iraq by forcing David Vitter out of office before November.

Read the whole thing, but Rude starts from the premise that the only thing keeping Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats from telling Smirky and Darth to fuck off and die is the threat of Joe Lieberman throwing the Senate to the Republicans (Cheney tie-breaker.) So far, so conventional wisdom. But then Rude makes the leap that could save the dems' ass - and as a bonus, the nation and the planet.

(Excerpt edited from XXX to merely X-rated.)

So Senate Democrats have gotta get rid of the Lieberman factor. With one more Democratic Senator, Lieberman will no longer control which way the wind blows until 2009.

And that's where David Vitter comes back into the equation. The oughta-be-disgraced, whoremongering Republican Senator from Louisiana has been embraced back into the Republican fold, as if he's a big goddamn hero for having kept his crimes hidden until after the statute of limitations had run out on him being arrested for soliciting hookers. Of course it's the basest sexual hypocrisy that Republicans went after Larry Craig because the Idaho Senator's case involved gay fucking and because Idaho's got a Republican governor and Louisiana's got a Democrat.

But here's the deal on Vitter: Republicans only have to stand by him until the end of the year. Louisiana elects a new governor this year, in 2007, with an open primary in October and a general election, if needed, in November. And you can sure as s**t bet a Republican's gonna win post-Katrina and Rita, probably Bobby Jindal. So, in as much as the Rude Pundit does the prognosticatin', Vitter's gone in January, so that no Republican running for President has to deal with questions of Republican sexual hypocrisy (at least as relates to current scandals). And, barring any other surprises, the same Lieberman-centric Senate until 2009.

So here's the deal: Democrats have to go Rove on Vitter. They have only a few months to get him out of there, so it's time to bring out the political demons in a savage way that pussies like Bob Shrum have nightmares about. Get the prostitutes out in front of the cameras, talking to Larry King about how Vitter likes to s**t himself in diapers and then get spanked while getting wiped by big-titted sluts. Get front groups to make ads about what a sleazy motherf***er Vitter is. Get outraged Senators talking to the pumpkinhead of Tim Russert about how it's just impossible to work with a man like Vitter. Take different angles: Barbara Boxer can talk about his exploitation of women, Mark Pryor or Ken Salazar can talk about how Vitter demeans the Senate by his presence and how can they be expected to hold their vomit in while working with a man like that.

Chase that motherf***er out of town and do it for a good cause: to end the war. You get rid of Vitter, you save American lives. Surely Democrats can wallow in the mud for a little while for such a noble end.

Yeah, I know, what makes me think that this time the dems will actually show some spine.

But this time there's no downside, no risk, no way to lose. Attacking Vitter is win-win-win: acquire a real majority in the Senate, marginalize Lieberman, and grow a gigantic set of brass ones.

Hell, get Rahm Emmanuel out of the House to lead the charge - I hate him for a DLC stooge, but that Chicago boy knows how to play dirty.

C'mon, Harry: you have nothing to lose, and literally the entire world to gain.

Finding Yet More Ways to Fuck Vets Over

I work with a number of military combat veterans, their experience ranging from early Vietnam through peak Vietnam, to Grenada, Lebanon, Panama, Columbia, Gulf War I, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

They are good men and women all: hard-working, dedicated, organized, responsible - exceptional employees and citizens. Despite experiences that would strain the sanity and peace of mind of the best and strongest of us, they have survived, prevailed, and thrived.

But if you read yesterday's lead story on Salon, you wouldn't believe that.

Thirty years ago, television shows were heavy on cops and PIs, and you could hardly get through one evening without seeing an episode that featured a "crazy" Vietnam vet going berserk and killing people.

The crazed vet plot accurately reflected the public perception of the time, but it also magnified that perception, making the job of advocates for veterans' mental health care nearly impossible.

In that atmosphere, even healthy veterans could not get a job, turned away by employers terrified by the popular stereotype of the drug-addled, violence-prone crazed vet. Denied work, the stereotype became a self-fulfilling prophecy, and no one was surprised to see homeless, substance-abusing, mentally disturbed vets wandering the streets. Although everyone should have been ashamed.

It's taken three decades of hard work to turn that perception around, to accomplish desperately needed changes in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, to regain by inches public respect for military veterans and understanding of their mental health needs.

But the current treatment of soldiers, marines, guardsmen, reserves and veterans by the Pentagon, the VA, and Smirky's maladministration is about to plunge us back into those bad old days of abandonment of veterans by the government and fear and hatred toward veterans by the public.

Salon's story is as much as indictment of SWAT-enamored local police forces as it is of a military that sends PTSD-disabled vets back to Iraq.

But to me it also presages a new era of the "crazed vet" stereotype.

And that will be yet another crime to lay at the feet of Smirky's maladministration and his repug and democratic enablers in Congress and in the media:

Yet another generation of veterans crippled not just by their experience in combat, not just by their mistreatment by the Pentagon and VA, but by a society conditioned to fear, reject and hate them.

Don't get me wrong: the LAST thing I want is to censor stories like Salon's. What happened to Jamie Dean is horrible and needs to be read by every American.

But the potential his tragedy - and the tragedy of too many others like him - has to re-create the crazed vet era adds even more urgency to calls to end the Iraq clusterfuck YESTERDAY. Bring our soldiers, marines, guardsmen and reserves home NOW. Double, triple, quadruple the military health care and VA health care budgets IMMEDIATELY.

Raise taxes, confiscate Halliburton, take it out of Smirky's hide - do whatever it takes to ensure that not one more veteran dies in a hail of police gunfire because no one would listen when he said he was hurting.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Mitch Trips Over Larry's Dick

Mark Nicholas at Bluegrass Report thinks Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has seriously screwed up over the Larry Craig mess.

Now that U.S. Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) appears to be fighting to keep his job, it's hard not to wonder whether Senate Minority Leader McConnell (R) has badly botched the handling of this matter by overcompensating for the gross mishandling of the Mark Foley mess in the House.


I love the fact that the Republicans are again finding themselves weighed-down by the scandal anchor, but the way McConnell has been handling the Craig matter has really rubbed me the wrong way. But more importantly, I think McConnell is killing his own caucus by botching this matter -- which now seems headed toward an intra-party collision with Craig staying and fighting -- at the worst possible time for Republicans: General Petraeus is days away from trying to save the GOP from the Iraq debacle.

UPDATE (5:26 PM): Apparently, McConnell has just flip-flopped on Craig, holding a press conference to announce Craig intends to stay in his Senate seat if he can get the charges dismissed. Amazing. So much for McConnell's earlier dismissal of any notion of a Craig return.

It would be too, too delicious if what brings down Mitch, who is widely believed in both Kentucky and D.C. to be gay himself, is a gay sex scandal that he mishandles because of his inability to deal directly and honestly with homosexuality among the GOP faithful.