Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Torture, Schmorture

Enough with all the cowardly liberal hysteria over a little water on the face. Let's listen to a counterrorism expert whose job it is to subject U.S. soldiers to actual waterboarding in training them how to resist torture.

Waterboarding is not a simulation. Unless you have been strapped down to the board, have endured the agonizing feeling of the water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs, you will not know the meaning of the word.

Waterboarding is a controlled drowning that, in the American model, occurs under the watch of a doctor, a psychologist, an interrogator and a trained strap-in/strap-out team. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning. How much the victim is to drown depends on the desired result (in the form of answers to questions shouted into the victim’s face) and the obstinacy of the subject. A team doctor watches the quantity of water that is ingested and for the physiological signs which show when the drowning effect goes from painful psychological experience, to horrific suffocating punishment to the final death spiral.

Waterboarding is slow motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of black out and expiration –usually the person goes into hysterics on the board. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch and if it goes wrong, it can lead straight to terminal hypoxia. When done right it is controlled death. Its lack of physical scarring allows the victim to recover and be threaten with its use again and again.

There, you see? Now do you understand why Ben Chandler and Hillary Clinton voted to allow the U.S. to torture enemy prisoners, thus exposing U.S. soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen to torture at the hands of the enemy?

TPMmuckraker publicized the above description from a former Navy Instructor as a primer for Attorney General nominee Mike Mukasey, who claims not to know whether waterboarding is torture.

Mukasey should listen to longtime counterterrorism expert Malcolm Nance. Nance, a veteran of counterterrorism operations in Iraq, has written a moving post for the counterinsurgency blog Small Wars Journal explaining, in more detail than anyone else has in public, what exactly waterboarding is. And Nance knows what he's talking about. As a former instructor at the Navy's training program, Nance (full disclosure, a TPMm pal) confesses that he "personally led, witnessed and supervised waterboarding of hundreds of people" -- not detainees, of course, but would-be SEALs, so they could learn how (hopefully) to resist torture. That training program, known as Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE), became a template for how to abuse detainees in U.S. custody.

Nance's experience leads him to some sharp conclusions:

"Waterboarding is a torture technique. Period. There is no way to gloss over it or sugarcoat it. It has no justification outside of its limited role as a training demonstrator. Our service members have to learn that the will to survive requires them accept and understand that they may be subjected to torture, but that America is better than its enemies and it is one’s duty to trust in your nation and God, endure the hardships and return home with honor."

After the chilling description above, Nance writes:

"Call it “Chinese Water Torture,” “the Barrel,” or “the Waterfall,” it is all the same. Whether the victim is allowed to comply or not is usually left up to the interrogator. Many waterboard team members, even in training, enjoy the sadistic power of making the victim suffer and often ask questions as an after thought. These people are dangerous and predictable and when left unshackled, unsupervised or undetected they bring us the murderous abuses seen at Abu Ghraieb, Baghram and Guantanamo. No doubt, to avoid human factors like fear and guilt someone has created a one-button version that probably looks like an MRI machine with high intensity waterjets."

There have been a lot of calls in the liberal blogosphere for waterboarding apologists to undergo the procedure themselves. See if they think it's torture then.

Much as I wish Chandler, Clinton and the rest to live to deeply regret their un-American, un-Constitutional, inhumane votes, I cannot wish waterboarding on them.

I'm a proponent of the death penalty, but after reading Nance's description, I wouldn't wish waterboarding on anyone.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Crybaby Mitch

A couple of weeks ago, Steve Benen at TPM launched a new meme about the tendency of republicans to faint over the least little thing:

In other words, by throwing a fit, Republicans end up looking weak and hysterical. Indeed, it reinforces the least flattering GOP caricature of all -- these guys can't govern, but they can fall onto a fainting couch like nobody's business.

For years, Republicans worked to create the opposite reputation. They're tough. This is the macho "daddy party." They don't care about "political correctness" and wussies who cry over words that rub people the wrong way. This is a crowd that calls it like they see it, and doesn't look bad or apologize.

And yet, they've now spent the better part of a year trembling over mild rebukes from liberals. If Democrats were smart, they'd look at this as an opportunity to rebrand the GOP as pathetic cry-babies who can barely go a week without throwing a hissy fit over one manufactured outrage or another.

Now Media Czech at BlueGrassRoots adds to the meme with evidence of Mitch McConnell's hurt feelings:

Poor little Mitchy. He of the $10 million war chest, fancy black tie dinners fit for a queen, socialist government handout healthcare, and bribes contributions from big foreign arms contractors. Yes, the third most powerful Republican in the country decided to send out another whiny and pathetic fundraising letter today. Once more, Mitch cries about how the badass liberal blogosphere in Kentucky is kicking his ass.

"3. Liberal bloggers have made numerous unfounded allegations against me and spread these distortions across the web with few holding them to account"

Oh, have some dignity you big fucking baby! This is the second time Mitch has acted like a drama queen in distress in his fundraising letters. Earlier this summer, he whined about how Team Ditch Mitch was holding him accountable for his bullshit.

"Liberals on the internet have already created a website called "Ditch Mitch," and 6,000 radicals from across the nation have already signed up."

Mitch, you may have a big war chest, but the truth is free. And we'll be spreading it every damn day until you go down in flames one year from now. Money can't change the fact that your office spread a false smear of a brain damaged 12-yr old boy and his family to reporters, and then you blatantly LIED about this on camera. Money can't change the fact that you have blocked the expansion of SCHIP and student loans. Money can't change the fact that you have stood by and rubberstamped Bush's horribly disastrous policy in Iraq.

And as you can see in recent polls, Kentuckians are onto you and your days are numbered.

And Mitch, you may be scared to death of us, but please, for your own sake, try to show a little more dignity in public. Voters don't like a whiny drama queen.

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Total Rout in KY: 6 Days Out, Beshear Up 24 Points

The other day a dem friend sighed wistfully, "wouldn't it be great if Steve beat Ernie 80 to 20?" We all laughed. "Don't get greedy," we said.

Silly us. WHAS-11 trumpeted the news today: the latest Survey USA poll has Admitted Criminal Republican Incumbent Governor Ernie Fletcher losing to Democratic challenger Steve Beshear 36-60.

As he has been doing since May, Beshear is once again winning big across the demographic and category board - everyone except Hispanics and Other races, republicans, conservatives and those who don't want a vote on expanded gambling.

Other than those 14 people, Steve's pretty solid.

Money's pouring into Beshear's campaign faster than even their thousands of volunteers can count it, county clerks are bracing for an avalanche of changed party registrations starting next Wednesday, and across the state there's only one question left:

If Ernie loses by 50 points, takes repug incumbent Secretary of State Trey Grayson down with him, demolishes the state repug party to the point that next year it loses its four Congressional seats, the State Senate AND Mitch McConnell, and turns Kentucky Blue for the next three generations ...

Will that satisfy Kentucky Democrats?

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Tough vs. Strong

Smirky threatening air strikes against Iran.

Rudy-the-Perv singing the praises of torture.

Hillary the War Slut promising to maintain the Permanent War On A Noun.

As the tough-guy rhetoric heats up and pushes us ever closer to the brink of nuclear war, let's step back for a minute and remember that tough is the opposite of strong.

Salon commenter Taliesan put it best a few weeks ago:

Tough Vs Strong

The really strong don't just weather the storm, they build a house so they can weather it in comfort.

The tough stand out in the rain.

The really strong stop and think about their actions, and when their actions prove futile, change tactics.

The tough act first and stick to it especially when those actions prove futile.

The strong lead their countries, the tough lead their parties.

The rightwing is obsessed with being tough, and that is all you need to know about their policies on war, peace, poverty and wealth.

The leftwing would much rather be strong.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Kentucky Governor's Race Tightens - And Just in Time

Incumbent Republican and Admitted Criminal Governor Ernie Fletcher has pulled within 15 points of Democratic challenger Steve Beshear in the latest Herald-Leader/WTVQ poll.

Democrats across the state are heaving sighs of relief. Beshear's 20-point lead since May has been making people nervous that the apparently inevitable Democratic sweep would keep people home on Election Day, allowing Ernie to squeak out a victory.

Last week, Survey USA had Beshear up by 20, and Democrats responded with an all-out GOTV effort. Democratic candidates are campaigning like they're 10 points down. Which is exactly where they'll be on November 6 if they don't get people off their duffs and to the polls.

November weather in Kentucky is nasty: cold, gray, with freezing rain. Getting people to vote in close elections is like squeezing disaster assistance out of FEMA; this year it's going to be next to impossible.

Ryan Alessi writes:

Del Ali, president of the Olney, Md.-based firm Research 2000 that conducted the poll, said with such a wide margin between the candidates, campaign cash to fund a final ad blitz becomes critical.

But the most recent campaign finance reports from early October showed that Beshear had nearly $1.7 million left in his bank account after paying in advance for several weeks’ worth of TV ads, while Fletcher’s campaign had $1.2 million on hand.

“This is over unless (Beshear) foolishly spends the money like no one else has and Fletcher spends the money strategically perfect,” Ali said.


Ali compared Beshear’s strength in this election to former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards’ famous quote that he could lose only if he was “caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy.”

“I don’t even know if the live boy would hurt him,” Ali said of Beshear. “That’s where we are right now.”

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Tell the Senate: No Amnesty for Spying Telcos

I can't say it better than Glenn Greenwald (Salon), Jane Hamsher (Firedoglake) and Matt Stoller (Open Left):

The ball is in Majority Leader Harry Reid's court.

All he has to do is respect Senate tradition by honoring the "hold" Chris Dodd has placed on any bill that includes "retroactive immunity."

With one public pronouncement, we can rest peacefully in the knowledge the rule of law has been preserved ... this time.

We've written a letter to Senator Reid cosigned by, the ACLU, and a number of other prominent organizations and bloggers asking the Majority Leader to honor Senator Dodd's hold.

Add your signature to ours before we deliver the letter prior to next week's Judiciary Committee hearings on the issue.

No Retroactive Immunity

AT&T's alleged actions here violate the constitutional rights clearly established [by the U.S. Supreme Court]. . . . AT&T cannot seriously contend that a reasonable entity in its position could have believed that the alleged domestic dragnet was legal.
That was the emphatic rebuttal of the telecom's case by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker -- a President Bush (the elder) appointee.

Providing amnesty to lawbreaking corporations is a complete assault on the rule of law and on the basic fairness of our political system. When ordinary American citizens are accused of breaking the law, they are forced to go to court and, if the accusations are proven, they suffer the consequences.

If the telecoms really did nothing wrong, they should prove that in court, like all Americans must do.

And if Senator Reid honors the "hold," they'll have their day in court.

It's that simple.

Read the letter to Senator Reid and add your name.

No Retroactive Immunity

Senator Dodd also pledged to filibuster any bill containing retroactive immunity should his hold be ignored.

He has been joined by Senators Obama and Biden.

After a record number of threatened Republican filibusters, it shouldn't be a handful of Democrats actually forced to maintain one.

Hopefully, we can make sure it won't actually come to that.


Glenn Greenwald, Jane Hamsher and Matt Stoller

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Yarmuth Shows House How Oversight Is Done

Proud Liberal John Yarmuth, D-KY 3, gave Condi Rice what for in today's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. Via BlueGrassRoots:

Reminded by Yarmuth that the State Department's own inspector general recently found a rising level of Iraqi corruption that was compared to a "second insurgency," Rice still refused to say whether she believed conditions had worsened.

"...Some things have gotten better, some things have gotten worse...I can't give you a net assessment on the spot," Rice said.

Yarmuth told her that he and others were elected to Congress last fall because the American people were convinced "that they weren't leveled with about the conduct of this war, and that...if the administration had been more candid, then maybe the approval rating for what we're doing over there would be of reasonable levels."

"And, unfortunately, this total stonewalling and lack of candor is what's contributing to a lack of confidence in the American people," the Louisville lawmaker said.

And what has Ben Chandler, Kentucky's Sixth District DINO, done lately - or ever - to hold Smirky's maladministration accountable for the infinite number of disasters it has inflicted on the Sixth District and the nation?

(Crickets. Crickets.)

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Can't Take Your Eyes Off the Bastards for a Second

Both the Courier and the Herald are reporting that the Kentucky Democratic Party will deploy election observers to polling places throughout the state on November 6.

Joe Gerth at the Courier writes:

Democrats are planning to put "challengers" in precincts throughout Kentucky on election day -- but not to fulfill their traditional role of rooting out ineligible voters.

Instead, the party will use an army of lawyers and other monitors in an effort to make sure voting isn't being suppressed and to report any problems at the polls.

Suppressing the vote through polling-place intimidation is exactly the illegal stunt republiscum tried to pull in Louisville in 2003. They got caught because they were so stupid, they assigned white challengers from the suburbs to urban precincts with heavy minority registration.

Which makes it all the more hilarious that republiscum fuhrer Richardson is now getting on his high horse about Democratic poll observers.

Jefferson County Republican Chairman Jack Richardson, who was criticized in 2003 after ordering GOP challengers into western Louisville precincts in an effort to stop suspected vote fraud, said the Democrats are operating under a double standard.

"I wonder if the (American Civil Liberties Union) will file suit against them?" he asked.

The ACLU challenged the 2003 Republican effort in court but ultimately lost its attempt to block the party from using challengers.


Robert Kellar, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party, said challengers will not question the bona fides of any voter and will merely serve as observers and note-takers.

He said the challengers would be placed strategically around the state, largely in Democratic districts where the party has focused its get-out-the-vote efforts.

There's some heavy history the dems are swimming upstream against here. For a hundred years after Reconstruction, Democrats in the south used every type of intimidation to keep African-Americans away from the polls - from poll taxes and literacy tests to castration, hanging and burning alive.

It's now the repugs who are the racist intimidators, of course, but that doesn't erase the past. Let's hope KDP Chair Jonathan Miller treads carefully in this.

On a brighter note, this kind of polling-place observation by Democrats is precisely what is needed to put a stop to the endless whining by repugs about "voter fraud."

To make a very long explanation short and simple, there is no such thing as widespread "voter fraud" - people pretending to be somebody else in order to vote in a precinct not their own. Republiscum claim Democrats send armies of illegal voters to the polls to vote fraudulently. They use that lie to justify "security" tactics that intimidate poor and minority voters from voting.

There is, however, extremely widespread election fraud practiced almost exclusively by repugs. This ranges from "purging" voter rolls of everyone who is not white, rich and registered republican, to giving white, republican precincts more than enough voting machines and minority, Democratic precincts nowhere near enough machines, to getting your BFF the CEO of Diebold the contract for programming electronic voting machines.

The point is that Democrats have been playing electoral tiddlywinks while the repugs are playing three-dimensional chess, and it's far past time to fight back.

Putting Democratic observers at polling places vulnerable to repug dirty tricks is an excellent first step.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Have Fun, Stick It to the Dinos, and Maybe Do Some Good

Blue Girl Red State, founder of Watching Those We Chose, has come up with a great way to express your disgust with DINOs, work out your frustration with them, and have a little fun while maybe doing some good.

You don't even have to send a contribution - it's free! Although Blue Girl is investing in a few cheap stickers to avoid writer's cramp.

I am going to meet with a printer tomorrow to have stickers printed up to affix to appeals for donations.

They are going to come in two versions. Any Democrat who rebuked MoveOn for saying what soldiers in the Perfumed Prince's command said first will get back their postage-paid envelope and their fundraising letter with a sticker that reads:

“I am a MoveOn member, and your willingness to throw over the First Amendment makes you unworthy of my support. Instead I have made a donation of $______ to MoveOn, and encouraged them to support a primary challenger to fill your seat with the fanny of a REAL DEMOCRAT.”

And if they are on board with Telco immunity, they will get their mailer back with one that reads

“I am a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, and your willingness to throw over the Fourth Amendment makes you unworthy of my support. Instead, I have donated $_____ to the ACLU and will be working locally to find a strong primary challenger to fill your seat with the fanny of a REAL DEMOCRAT.”

Compose your own message. Keep it clean - contradicting the liberal stereotype drives 'em fucking nuts.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Oh, to Live on Frisco Bay's Eastern Shore

Where every two years they get to vote for Pete Stark.

If his torches-and-pitchforks speech on SCHIP wasn't enough to make you swoon, check out this Dailykos diary from Travis Bickle.

10 Reasons to Love Pete Stark
by Travis Bickle
Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 09:39:45 AM PDT

I first became aware of Pete Stark shortly after the invasion of Iraq. These were heady days of mainstream media manufactured euphoria in which few Americans were even thinking about the long term consequences of this incredibly stupid policy. One morning, seemingly out of nowhere, I saw Congressman Stark on CNBC, interacting with a bunch of pompous, gloating talking heads who were practically orgasmic over the "victory" in Baghdad. Stark got highly indignant and correctly predicted the disaster to come. He went as far as to call George W. Bush a "jerk". CNBC's Steve Liesman responded: "I resent that remark". Stark practically laughed at him and told him to resent it all he wanted. I practically stood up and cheered. Ten more reasons to love Pete Stark are below.

1. Stark was a successful businessman in the banking industry and a Republican who switched to the Democratic party as a result of the Vietnam War. He placed a giant peace sign on the roof of his Bay area bank and printed peace signs on the bank's checks.
2. Stark is the only declared "nontheistic" member of Congress, and has stated that he is "a unitarian who does not believe in a supreme being". He has verbally opposed the promotion of religion in the military, marriage contracts and science.
3. Stark is the longest serving member of Congress from the state of California.
4. Stark was an opponent of the Iraq war even before the invasion and called for a reinstatement of the draft, saying "If we are going to have these escapades, we shouldn't do it on the backs of poor people and minorities."
5. Until the end of the Republican Congress in 2006, Stark voted against every single bill to appropriate additional funds for the Iraq war.
6. In July of 2003, Stark got into an altercation with Republican Scott McInnis. The occasion was an attempt by Ways and Means chairman Bill Thomas to ram through a Republican written budget without allowing Democrats on the committee to even READ it beforehand. Stark called McInnis "a little wimp" and "a fruitcake" and challenged him to a fight. Stark is in his seventies, McInnis was fifty years old at the time.
7. In 2003, the ACLU rated Stark at 100% per cent in their scorecard devoted to ranking the votes of members of Congress.
8. In a similar process in 2005, James Dobson's Family Research Council rated Stark at 0%
9. Stark is a veteran having served in the Air Force 1955 to 1957
10. Stark participated in a lawsuit against George W. Bush over the federal budget. The suit brought by eleven congressman was ultimately dismissed.

Pete Stark is a breath of fresh air. If we had 100 members like him, the Democratic party would take back this government in a landslide. If anyone owes anyone an apology, it's Speaker Pelosi to a courageous and outspoken American public servant, Pete Stark.

OK, maybe it's easy to defy the Forces of Evil when you're in your 70s and represent San Francisco.

But I believe there's a Pete Stark in the Bluegrass, just waiting for the opportunity to overthrow Ben Chandler and return a Democrat to Congress for the Sixth District.

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose.

Piling-On Time

Because kicking a lying, hypocritical, criminal repug when he's down is despicable - but fun.

This website, which tracks the most-corrupt members of Congress, is blocked on state government computers.

Just too, too perfect that Ernie prevents state employees from viewing a website called - wait for it - Citizens for Ethics.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

When You're Paranoid - But Right

Back a few months ago, Serious People ridiculed the netroots for calling attention to NSPD-51, a presidential executive order that seemed to give the president authority to declare a national emergency on the thinnest of pretexts, institute the equivalent of martial law, including suspending elections, and proceed to rule as effective dictator for as long as he chose.

No, no, Serious People chided us, that's not what it says. It's just the same kind of contingency planning for the continuation of government that every president has issued for decades. Calm down, get back on your medication.

Now Serious Journalist Ron Rosenbaum takes a second look at NSPD-51 and realizes we may be paranoid, but we're also right.

After a detailed analysis, Rosenbaum concludes:

If you ask me, setting aside any paranoid fantasies, it is clear on the most basic level—read it yourself—that NSPD-51 is the creation of irresponsible incompetents, bulls in the china shop of our constitutional framework. It is a recipe for disaster. For a catastrophe of governance that would match whatever physical catastrophe it followed and threaten the re-establishment of constitutional democracy. It would make the partisan warfare over the 2000 election in Florida seem like child's play. We might recover from a disaster but we might never recover from the "continuity coordination" that followed, "coordination" that could forever undermine any faith in the actual continuity of constitutional liberty in America since it would put it at the mercy of any president who wants to "coordinate continuity" rather than govern legally.

I think it's urgent that we bring these questions out of the shadows of phony comity. I'd urge readers to call or e-mail their members of Congress and senators now. Call for an emergency joint congressional hearing to end this farce, give us some transparency about what our government will do if we suffer another 9/11. Let all branches of government participate in the attempt to reach some consensus on rational and effective continuity planning. Something more specific and sophisticated than the clumsy but dangerously Orwellian "Continuity Coordination Committee."
Read the whole thing.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Friday, October 19, 2007

U of L Grad Chris Dodd Under Siege - Let's Get His Back

The long knives are out for Courageous Senator Christopher Dodd, whose one-man fight to save our Constitutional Rights is being attacked by his very own "Democratic" "leadership."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trampling on 220 years of Senate tradition to ignore Dodd's hold on the bill to grant telecommunications companies amnesty for illegally spying on innocent American citizens.

Dodd is fighting back with a vow to launch a filibuster - a real one, not the fake threats the repugs use to terrify Reid & co. - but the powers funded by telco billions are just getting started.

Bloggers everywhere, including  FiredogLake, have publicized Dodd's fight, and thousands of people have responded with supportive emails to Dodd and contributions to his presidential campaign.

After bloggers revealed Harry Reid's machinations, thousands of calls and emails have poured into Reid's office, where by 4 p.m. his staff had reached the point of hanging up on people.

But it's not yet enough.  It's going to take millions of calls, emails and donations to stop the telco amnesty juggernaut.  It's going to take people talking about it to everyone you know, because the mainstream media is refusing to cover Dodd's Rebellion. And Kentuckians should take the lead.

Dodd is a graduate of the University of Louisville School of Law - that's right:  Dodd learned the Constitutional principles for which he is now fighting right here in Kentucky.

Let's get his back. 

Watch a video of Dodd talking about the bill and why he is fighting it.

Read Glenn Greenwald's superb coverage of the issue.

Read Retired Military Patriot's perfect letter to Reid.

Send a supportive email to Dodd.

Send a polite but passionate email to Harry Reid.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Compassion for the Hypocrite

No, I have no sympathy, emphathy or compassion for hypocrites, especially of the lying, republican, homophobic, hate-mongering variety.

But in response to Larry Craig's interview this week with Matt Lauer, Andrew Sullivan wrote a provocative column about the social pressure and cultural distortions that create a self-hating creature like Larry Craig.

If you want an argument for why the cause for gay visibility, dignity and equality is necessary and indeed noble, just watch that interview again.
Craig was seeking in that toilet stall a connection, a shard of intimacy, that the world would not give him, or that he could not give himself. No one should have to live without that intimacy and dignity - no one. Living a life like that - a deeply lonely, compromised, painful interior existence - is a very sophisticated form of hell. No human can keep it up for ever. No human should have to keep it up for ever.

Read the whole thing.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Help Chris Dodd Save the Constitution


One - and only one - Member of Congress is at this moment standing in front of a stampeding horde of telecommunications companies, bushies and bought-off Senators determined to burn the Constitution to the ground in the name of giving the telcos amnesty for illegal spying.

Trust me on this: Go to Dodd's site right now and add your comment supporting him. His office and campaign telephones are ringing off the hook, but so far the comment section on his blog is pretty open. Plus, it's more permanent and you can write rationally instead of screaming hysterically.

If you want the details, check out Glenn Greenwald's post on how the Senate is planning to cave completely to Smirky, the telcos and all the forces of UnConstitutional Evil.

UPDATE: To his credit, Chris Dodd has been, by far, the most vocal Democratic presidential candidate on the issues of executive power abuses and restoring our constitutional framework. Unsurprisingly, he has issued a very strong condemnation of telecom amnesty along with a vow to try to stop it:
While the President may think that it's right to offer immunity to those who break the law and violate the right to privacy of thousands of law-abiding Americans, I want to assure him it is not a value we have in common and I hope the same can be said of my fellow Democrats in the Senate.
For too long we have failed to respect the rule of law and failed to protect our fundamental civil liberties. I will do what I can to see to it that no telecommunications giant that was complicit in this Administration's assault on the Constitution is given a get-out-of-jail-free card.
The vow to "do what [he] can" to stop amnesty is interesting. Big Tent Democrat suggests he lead a filibuster to stop it (h/t Atrios), but I doubt, given Rockefeller's support, that they could get anywhere near the 40 votes necessary to sustain that. Dodd could, however, place a "hold" on any bill containing amnesty and prevent it from reaching the floor for a vote: "Senate tradition allows any senator to keep a piece of legislation from reaching the Senate floor by placing a hold on the bill." That is what Sen. Wyden did previously to prevent a vote on an anti-net-neutrality bill.
Dodd's emphasis in his campaign on constitutional issues -- along with his excellent voting record this year -- has generated significant positive feelings towards his campaign. But demonstrating real leadership on this incomparably important issue would almost certainly generate real, tangible support for his campaign in many circles.
Telecom amnesty implicates not only all of the issues raised by warrantless surveillance and the rule of law, but really calls into question the basic fairness of our entire political system, i.e, whether the wealthiest and most powerful corporations in Washington can literally buy their way out of lawbreaking. Anyone who boldly impedes what would be this bipartisan travesty -- and a "hold" on an issue of this magnitude would, in the context of Senate customs, be very bold -- is someone who will have demonstrated genuine leadership on a truly critical issue. There has been precious little of that thus far in the presidential race.
* * * * *
Amos Hochstein is the Policy Director for the Dodd Campaign. He can be reached at (202) 737-3633. It may be very helpful to have him hear from those who have appreciated Sen. Dodd's outspokenness thus far on constitutional issues to understand what Sen. Dodd's leadership on this issue here would mean. It is vital to have someone in the Senate take an emphatic stance against what would be the true atrocity of telecom amnesty (Atrios adds some insightful thoughts about the strategic rationale behind a Dodd hold).

Yeah, yeah, I'm committed to Edwards, and it's not really fair to compare him to Dodd on this one, since Dodd is right there in the Senate and Edwards is not, but I swear, if Dodd succeeds in stopping this abomination, his presidential campaign gets my Christmas Fund.

UPDATE, 3:50 p.m.: Senator Dodd has just successfully placed a hold on this disgusting piece of crap posing as legislation. Send the man some love!"

UPDATE II, 5:30 p.m.: Quote from Dodd: "It's about delivering results -- and as I've said before, the FIRST thing I will do after being sworn into office is restore the Constitution. But we shouldn't have to wait until then to prevent the further erosion of our country's most treasured document. That's why I am stopping this bill today."

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

My Wingnut Freakazoid Congress-scum is Worse Than Your Wingnut Freakazoid Congress-scum

Dear Hollywood: The above is the title of my enclosed reality-show "treatment" (that's what they call proposals on the Left Coast.)

Please send by return mail (self-addressed, stamped envelope enclosed) a six-figure check as soon as possible. You're welcome.

Episode One: Our First Contestant is six-term Republican Representative Ron Lewis, of Kentucky's Second District. Lewis is infamous for two things:

  • Getting personally plucked out of rural obscurity to run for Congress by none other than the Godfather of Kentucky Republican politics, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
  • Earning a "power ranking" near the bottom of Congressional republicans in 2006, despite 10 years in office.

But don't think for a minute that Rep. Lewis is not on top of the issues that matter most to his constituents in the Second District, which is plagued by both rural and urban poverty, low education and high dropout levels, epidemics of both methamphetamine AND oxycontin abuse, high unemployment, growing crime, an agricultural economy flat on its back and no hope for alleviation of any of the former.

No, indeedy, Rep. Lewis knows exactly what the good people of the Second District need:

More mentions of god in government documents!

Oh, Hallelujah and praisethelord that Rep. Lewis was there to chastise the godless commies of the federal government for trying to take god away from an Eagle Scout!

(From the email sent today to Rep. Lewis' constituents:)

Earlier this month, Andrew Larochelle, a 17-year-old Eagle Scout from Dayton, OH, requested a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol as a gift for his grandfather. Andrew asked that the official certificate accompanying his flag read: "This flag was flown in honor of Marcel Larochelle, my grandfather, for his dedication and love of God, country and family." However, the Architect of the Capitol, who oversees flag requests, chose to remove God from the inscription, citing a recent policy to ban religious and political expressions on official certificates. Upon learning of this, I joined many of my colleagues in demanding that this policy be changed. It is an outrage that bureaucrats are able to unilaterally eliminate references to faith from public institutions. Each daily session of Congress begins with a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, affirming that we are One Nation Under God. I believe that the traditions of the U.S. House of Representatives should continue to reflect that truth.
Rep. Lewis greets Andrew Larochelle during his visit to the Capitol and to discuss changes in the Architect of the Capitol's policy on flag certificates
The acting Architect of the Capitol, Stephen Ayers, has since agreed to revise guidelines on Capitol flag certificates. Employees of the Architect of the Capitol's office raise and lower flags flown over the U.S Capitol Building during sessions of Congress to meet an estimated 100,000 requests per year. Constituents can purchase these flags at a nominal cost through their Member of Congress. I was honored to meet Andrew Larochelle and his grandfather Marcel at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday morning as they were finally presented with a flag and amended certificate that included God. The American flag is the unique symbol embodying this nation’s culture, values and history. I commend Andrew for successfully fighting to restore an important tradition that has endured in the U.S. Congress for generations.

HA! Let's see YOUR Wingnut Freakazoid Congress-scum beat THAT!

OK, in the first place, I do not believe this bullshit for a minute. I guarantee you that if anyone requested their U.S. Capitol-flown flag certificate mention god, Buddha, the Flying Spaghetti Monster or even Allah, no one would so much as blink, much less object.

In the second place, shame on them for NOT objecting. Anyone who thinks or even imagines that any mention of any deity whatsoever belongs anywhere within spitting distance of any federal, state or local government entity of any kind, shape or form should be stripped of the right to vote and made to write 1,787 times on the blackboard:

I will not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

New AG, Same as the Old AG

You thought Gonzales was bad.

Our soon-to-be-confirmed new Attorney General has told the United States Congress, under oath, live on the tee-vee, essentially the following:

- Torture is perfectly fine and hunky-dory, as long as we don't repeat the "mistake" of writing down in memos how cool it is to play Jack Bauer. And as long as Smirky keeps lying to the world by saying we never torture.

- Habeas Corpus, the 900-year-old foundation of Democracy that you can't just lock people up for no reason, is a silly luxury we can't afford any more.

- Smirky is perfectly entitled to declare any U.S. citizen an enemy combatant and send them away to Guantanamo to be anally raped and waterboarded, for no reason whatsoever. As long as you are a Smirky-fellating, sky-wizard worshipping, loyal republican lemming, you have nothing to worry about.

- The Rule of Law - the only thing standing between us and utter chaos - is for wimps.

- The U.S. Constitution - the founding document of principles that gives Congress precedence over both the presidency and the courts - is stupid.

Although the Washington Post, like a good little lapdog, is suggesting that Mukasey made clear his opposition to torture, Glenn Greenwald in Salon live-blogged the hearings and proves otherwise.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Rally for the Home Stretch

Mine eyes have seen the turning of Kentucky to the Blue,
Dems are stamping out the repugs - Ernie now and next Mitch too ...

It was an old-fashioned, barn-raising, tent-revival of a rally tonight, complete with fire-and-brimstone preaching from State Senator and former Governor Julian Carroll, last of the who-needs-a-microphone screaming Democrats.

More than 500 people packed the National Guard Armory in Frankfort to rally for the Democratic ticket that's about to sweep the November 6 election.

I've been attending Democratic campaign events in Kentucky since 2002, and this is the first time I've felt that swooping wave of confidence, that irresistible urge to burst out laughing and hug the nearest person out of sheer, giddy anticipation of victory.

It's not a sure thing, as speaker after speaker warned. Secretary of State candidate Bruce Hendrickson is neck-and-neck with incumbent Trey Grayson, and liberal dems are abandoning Hendrickson over his refusal to disavow the endorsement of wingnut freakazoid Frank Simon.

Even with gubernatorial challenger Steve Beshear, Attorney General candidate Jack Conway, Treasurer candidate Todd Hollenbach and Auditor Crit Luallen all up 15-20 poll points over their opponents, and more than $1.5 million up in fundraising, dems this time are taking nothing for granted.

"Ernie's thrown everything but the kitchen sink at us," Beshear told the crowd, "and we expect to see the kitchen sink before this is over."

But Beshear also promised that his victory will be only the beginning for Kentucky Democrats. Next year will see the return of the state Senate to Democratic control and Democrats back in the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Congressional Districts.

And Mitch is going down.

For 32 years, from 1971 to 2003, Kentucky Democrats goofed off as the state turned slowly red, ignoring the all-repug national elections as long as the state house stayed in their hands.

But Ernie kicked their complacent asses raw in 2003 when he took the Governor's mansion away. They lost the state Senate in 2004 and were staring into the Abyss of Political Irrelevancy.

It was exactly what they needed. It'll take more than a few electoral victories before Kentucky Democrats start taking a single vote for granted again.

Although they do still seem to be taking a whole constitutency for granted.


Of the 500 faces in the crowd tonight, fewer than a dozen were non-white.

Memo to Kentucky Democratic Party chair Jonathan Miller: the state's minority population is growing, and they're not going to hand you their votes because you're boyishly cute and have a nice smile.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Ernie Take Ronnie for a Ride

On those days when you've run out of email jokes and need a quick laugh, surf on over to Ernie's web page. The press releases are always good for a guffaw. Here's today's:

Investment paves the way to new jobs at local industrial park

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher today joined community leaders and citizens in Lewis County to dedicate Ronald Reagan Memorial Parkway, a $10.5 million investment that will bolster job growth and economic development in northeastern Kentucky.

“I am honored to join the people of Lewis County in dedicating the Ronald Reagan Memorial Parkway,” said Governor Fletcher. “It is highly appropriate that a road which provides such great promise for the future will forever memorialize one of our nation’s most optimistic and revered leaders.”

The 1.17-mile parkway provides direct access from the AA Highway to Black Oak Industrial Park, and links area businesses and industries to Kentucky’s modern highway network. The road will eliminate unnecessary commercial traffic in downtown Vanceburg, improve safety and reduce congestion on city streets.

Sen. Charlie Borders (R-Grayson) led the effort in the Kentucky Legislature to name the new road in honor of the nation’s 40th president.

“This is a historic day for Lewis County,” said Borders. “This road will not only provide new opportunities for economic prosperity and safer mobility, but it will serve as a constant reminder of a great American who served our country with honor and vigor. I want to thank Governor Fletcher for his unabridged commitment to this project and I proudly stand together with him as we christen Ronald Reagan Memorial Parkway.”

Direct access to the AA Highway will be a boon to the industrial park’s effort to attract new business and jobs to the community. The new road is also a welcomed improvement for the 120 employees who commute to the park’s existing industries – Coroplast and Superior Fibers.

“This project will help bring new jobs and economic opportunities to Lewis County,” said Rep. Robin Webb (D-Grayson). “With increased competition among communities trying to attract new business and economic growth, the direct connection from Black Oak Industrial Park to the AA Highway is a critical improvement that will be attractive to prospective businesses and industries.”

“President Reagan recognized our nation’s boundless potential when he spoke of the ‘shining city on a hill’,” said Governor Fletcher. “My administration is working to capitalize on Kentucky’s vast potential by investing in highway projects that will bring new jobs and economic opportunities to our state.”

The parkway is nearly completed and is expected to be open to traffic by mid-November.

Note the grandly named "Parkway" extends a total length of - wait for it - one and one-fifth mile. You could fit the whole thing inside the Costco parking lot.

I could make a comment about how Ernie's need to exaggerate the size of his - er - accomplishments probably reflects a more personal - um - shortcoming.

But I won't.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

(Via Terry Whitehouse of DitchMitchKY and Media Czech of BlueGrassRoots.)

Louisville freshman John Yarmuth, KY-3 remains the lonely upholder of Kentucky's integrity in Congress.

David Herszenhorn in the NYT's blog the caucus features Yarmuth in a piece on the progressive freshmen's attempt to persuade their spineless and/or jaded colleagues that Congress, not the president, is the premier Constitutional power in this country.

The way Representative John Yarmuth of Kentucky sees it, lawmakers on Capitol Hill and Americans everywhere have forgotten who the Founding Fathers really intended to run the country –- not the President who was more of a Constitutional after-thought but the Congress, the people’s elected representatives.
Mr. Yarmuth said he and many of the 41 other freshman Democrats in the House had been puzzling for some time over just how to remind voters of this, how to mold a most basic lesson of American civics so that it could be carried far and wide by the modern techniques of political messaging. And then an idea struck.
Today, on the House floor, Mr. Yarmuth began distributing small buttons, seemingly made of parchment, with the words, “Article 1” – as in Article 1 of the Constitution, which states, “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”
In other words: Mr. President, the Congress would like to remind you, that you, dear pal, are Article 2.

Read the whole thing, as it is full of tidbits like the elected yahoos who think "Article 1" refers to the First Amendment.

I seriously doubt Ben Chandler, DINO-KY 6, can claim that kind of ignorance. He just prefers fellating Smirky to representing his constituents.

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Line to Replace Mitch McConnell Forms to the Left - and the Right


Now that Mitch McConnell's Communication Director has been outed for child-molestation-by-proxy, challenging the Senate Minority Leader for re-election next year suddenly looks less like a sacrifice bunt and more like a stand-up triple.

Truly sickening. We at BlueGrassRoots demand that McConnell fires Stewart. We don't want to be represented by people who find smearing a 12-yr. old kid with lies to be acceptable behavior.

Political speculators have abandoned the foregone-conclusion governor's race for rumor-mongering about potential Mitch-killers - Democrat and Republican.

Shack at The Rural Democrat and BlueGrassRoots has the most detailed analysis so far.

Is Senator McConnell vulnerable in 2008? Yes he is but McConnell will spend every dime of a probable $10 million war chest in 2008. New poll numbers show a massive drop in approval rating as McConnell had a 54% approval rating just last month, NOW his rating has plummeted to a terrible 45%. This tells me that a Democratic tsunami is probable in November of 07, can the Democrats hold that water for 08? I think a Horne, Luallen and or Stumbo could stand toe to toe with McConnell IF the Democrats find a way to avoid a bloodbath during the primary.

My two cents:
  • Crit Luallen, who would make a superb governor and excellent senator, is currently running for re-election as state Auditor. I have a very difficult time believing that she would meet the January 30 deadline for filing for the Senate race less than three months after winning re-election to a four-year term. I also believe that Crit, a cancer survivor, had very good personal reasons for not running for governor this year, despite heavy pressure to do so. If she wouldn't run for the powerful post of governor against a loser like Ernie, why would she want to go up against a dirty fighter like Mitch for a much less-powerful post? Everybody says I'm wrong, but I won't believe it until she files the papers.
  • Greg Stumbo, leaving the post of Attorney General after hitching his star to Criminal Loser and Fake Democrat Bruce Lunsford this spring, is quite possibly the only Democrat in Kentucky who could NOT beat Mitch. Go after Hal Rogers for the Fifth District seat, Greg, and leave the rest of us alone.
  • Iraq veteran Andrew Horne, Lt. Col. USA Ret., has really sprouted his political wings since losing the 2006 primary to John Yarmuth, who took the Third District seat away from Anne Northup. He speaks constantly against the Iraq disaster, against Smirky, and against spineless Congressional Democrats. There's a strong Draft Horne movement in Kentucky, but the Lt. Col. has yet to make a commitment.

That's not to mention the republicans who are making anti-Mitch noises, and there are more in both parties to come, especially after November 6.

Stay tuned. It's going to be a wild and woolly ride.

UPDATE, 8:19 p.m. Media Czech at BlueGrassRoots delves into the SurveyUSA tracking poll and finds that once plotted graphically, Mitch's latest approval/disapproval numbers represent less a plummet than a free fall.

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose.

Dr. Dan Honors Nurses' Strike

Like the Herald-Leader community columnist quoted below, I, too, was taught from the cradle: "Never cross a picket line."

Unlike Dan Mongiardo, I've never been faced with the choice of whether to do so in order to perform my job.

But I hope, if I ever do face a picket line, I'll have the courage and personal integrity to do as Dr. Dan, and honor the strikers by turning back.

When I was growing up here in Eastern Kentucky, I learned something very important: Never cross a picket line.

That mantra has been such a part of my and, indeed, this region's life that I can scarcely imagine anyone even daring to do such a thing. That is something Gov. Ernie Fletcher would do well to realize.

Fletcher, a Republican seeking a second term, has criticized Dr. Dan Mongiardo, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, for not doing just that.

On Oct. 5, Mongiardo, a surgeon, refused to cross a picket line at the Appalachian Regional Healthcare hospital in Hazard. Nurses there have been on strike and at other ARH hospitals since Oct. 1, citing poor staffing ratios, mandatory overtime and paltry pay raises. The nurses are also asking for better retirement and medical benefits.

Negotiations had gone on for several weeks, with ARH's final offer including a 2 percent pay raise that would gradually increase to 3 percent. The offer also included less holiday pay and higher insurance premiums that the nurses say would more than cancel any pay raise they might receive with the deal.

Fletcher, who is also a physician, voiced his criticism of Mongiardo from the relative luxury of Louisville's famed Seelbach Hotel. He said he had crossed picket lines in 1987 to deliver babies and questioned Mongiardo's commitment to patient care.

The ARH nurses say the strike is all about patient care. They argue that their hospitals have been constantly understaffed and that forced overtime has left them exhausted and unable to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

"You can't have good patient care if you don't have enough staff," said Pat Tanner, a negotiator for the nurses.

Many nurses on the picket line held signs saying, "Every patient deserves a nurse!" --with which most of us would agree.

ARH, which serves more than 350,000 patients in Kentucky's poorest region, has said that patient care will not suffer. Donnie Fields, senior community CEO at ARH's Hazard hospital, said that "the hospital is operating at full capacity using temporary replacement nurses, union nurses who didn't walk off the job and licensed practical nurses."

We have a word for people like that where I'm from, and I'll bet, where Fields is from: scab. But perhaps the bigger questions are: Where were these replacements when the nurses originally wanted additional staff hired? Why wasn't more of an effort made to run the hospital at "full capacity" to begin with? Who really has been negligent about patient care?

Mongiardo is continuing to see patients in his office and will treat people who need urgent care, but he is urging those who have elective procedures scheduled to either reschedule or seek treatment elsewhere.

Mongiardo has said that he supports the more than 630 registered nurses at Hazard and eight other ARH hospitals throughout Kentucky and West Virginia. He has also said his position is not connected to the Nov. 6 election and that fighting "between Democrats and Republicans at election time is not the answer to this (nurses' strike) problem.

Well, hallelujah. Somebody has enough of a backbone to put politics aside and stick to their beliefs. Fair working conditions for everybody and responsible patient care should be neither red nor blue.

Keila Bender of Grayson is a stay-at-home wife and mother.

Forgive me, Ms. Bender and Herald, for reproducing the piece in full, but it's too good to excerpt.

POSTSCRIPT: Kevin Drum has some relevant thoughts on unions and the social contract.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mitch Sinking Almost as Fast as Ernie

BlueGrass Roots has the latest beat-down on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY.

A new SurveyUSA poll shows that Mitch McConnell's approval ratings have plummeted 8 points over the last month to an all-time low of 45%.

And it won't get any easier for Mitch, as MoveOn is backing this news up with a Huge ad buy right here in KY.

The poll's breakdown of voters is even worse than that.

Mitch fails to gain more than 50 percent approval among either sex, any race, any age group, any generation, or any geographical area. The only two groups who give him an approval rating above 50 percent are conservatives and republicans.

Mitch may have $9 million in the bank, but unless he's going to use it to literally buy Kentucky voters one at a time between now and November 2008, it's not going to do him much good.

Get on the Ditch Mitch bandwagon now!

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose.

Ernie Hits the Skids: No Money, No Votes, No Love

Incumbent Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher hit rock-bottom this week under the weight of three pieces of bad news:

  • 27 days from Election Day, he's still 16 points behind Democratic Challenger Steve Beshear. Ernie's gained three points in the last month - at that rate, he'll be tied with Beshear about three months after Steve's inauguration.
  • He raised $3.5 million in the four months since the primary. OK, Kentucky's a small and poor state, TV time's pretty cheap, that's not too bad - whoops! Beshear raised $4.9 million in the same period. That's a Democratic challenger out-fundraising the Republican incumbent by 40 percent.
  • Two more Republicans - a former state senator and former state representative endorsed Beshear. In August, Republican Larry Hopkins, whom Fletcher succeeded as Sixth District Congressman, also endorsed Beshear.

Mark Hebert has the results of the latest poll.

Governor Fletcher has narrowed the margin in the governor's race, but not much.

The latest SurveyUSA/WHAS 11 poll shows Beshear leading Fletcher 56%-40%. Last month, Beshear led by 19 points in the same poll. The survey shows Beshear losing some support among male voters. In September, 58% of likely male voters planned to vote for Beshear. This month, it's 53% with Fletcher jumping up to 44% support among males. Beshear still has 59% of the female vote. In a strange twist, Fletcher loses support among folks who identify themselves as Republicans while gaining ground among Demcrats.

GOP voters: Beshear 30% Fletcher 65%
Dem. Voters: Beshear 76% Fletcher 22%

The only major bad news for Fletcher in this poll is that he's still far behind with 4 weeks to go. He gained among voters 50 years old and older and picked up support in the Louisville and western regions of the state, staying steady elsewhere.

Hebert neglects to mention that Ernie gained only three points after a month of non-stop attack ads that accused Beshear of drowning kittens, torturing puppies, throwing old people out into the street and inviting Osama bin Laden to Fancy Farm.

OK, they weren't quite that bad, but they were full of lies so blatant they failed to rise even to the level of truthiness. His anti-gambling ads are backfiring because a majority of voters want expanded gambling, and every time he accuses Beshear of causing the Kentucky Central collapse, yet another dignified Republican judge comes out of retirement to defend Steve and denounce Ernie's lies.

As for the money, anybody remember any time in the last 30 years that a Democratic challenger out-raised a Republican incumbent by a buck-forty, much less $1.4 million?

The endorsement situation is ugly, but the race not to be the last rat off the sinking Criminal Ship Ernie is worse.

Did I say three pieces of bad news? I meant four. Turns out Ernie's been illegally canoodling with the Republican Governor's Association on ads the RGA ran for him. The very exact same footage, complete with an "I (heart) UK" drawing in the background, was used by the RGA in ads for Louisiana gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal.

For Kentucky Democrats, there's only one question left:

What WILL I wear to the Inaugural Ball?

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

DINOs Beware: Your Primary Opponents are Drawing National Money


Watch your back, Blue Dogs, Bush-lovers and Ben Chandler (KY-6):  The Angry, UnSerious Left is taking aim at Bush Democrats.  And they're not just sending out complaining emails.

They're recruiting primary candidates and raising money.

Don't suppose you noticed how it was the angry left-wing netroots who returned Congress to Democratic hands last November. We didn't do that so you could flush our support down the crapper by continuing to roll over and play dead for Smirky.

We sent you back to D.C. with clear, strict orders to stand up to Smirky and put a stop to the Iraq disaster, torture, warrantless wiretapping, politicization of the Justice Department, and all the other un-Constitutional crimes this maladministration is blithely continuing right in front of your stinky brown noses.

Well you better notice now because we - we who handed you Congress on a silver platter - are royally pissed off.  You fooled us once, but we won't be fooled again.  We're shopping for REAL Democrats to challenge repug-lites like you in the primary, and we've got the wealth of the Net to back us up.

As Glenn Greenwald notes, the left is already mobilizing to take out every DINO it can find.

If the Democratic Congress capitulates yet again, there will be plenty of time and opportunity for all sorts of recriminations. I think it is quite encouraging that much of the "netroots" is now devoting its energies and resources not to supporting Democrats, but to opposing Congressional Democrats who merit defeat.
Matt Stoller and Open Left, for instance, are devoting most of their energies to figuring out how to surmount the obstacles to waging effective primary challenges against Bush-supporting Democrats. The fund-raising entity run by FDL, C&L and others has begun targeting worthless Democrats, funding and running robocalls against Bush-enabling Democratic incumbents in their districts (those inclined can help fund those efforts here). MoveOn is actively considering spending large sums of money to support primary challenges against war-enabling Democrats. Obviously, there is no point in working to empower Democrats who enable and support virtually all of the worst aspects of the Bush agenda.

And Democracy For America has already found its first Progressive Challenger and is raising money.  From the national email:

With Democrats like Congressman Dan Lipinski, the Republicans don't even need to run a candidate.
There are some Democrats - Bush Democrats - who claim to represent us, but vote with Republicans on too many issues that matter.
Send a message to Congress: You're on notice. Regardless of political party, when Congress won't represent the will of the American people, then DFA members will fight toreplace them with someone who will.

This is one bright blue Democratic district where we can make a change; Mark Pera is the progressive in the primary. Support Mark with a contribution of $15 right now:

Support Mark

We, the Angry, Unserious Left. handed Congress to the DINOs, and we WILL take it back.

Cross-posted at BlueGrass Roots.

Monday, October 8, 2007

E. KY Fire Season Set to Break Record

The Kentucky Division of Forestry is moving every spare firefighter in the state to eastern Kentucky and preparing to request assistance from other states as it braces for the worst fire season in 20 years.

You thought the drought was bad here in the Bluegrass; east of I-75 it's been at least Severe and usually Extreme since spring.

Fall fire is a tradition in eastern Kentucky, as the Daniel Boone National Forest goes up in flames every October. Dry conditions are usually enough to set it off, but you've always got a few jokers eager to see what happens when you drop a match into a pile of dessicated leaves.

It's been a while since we've had a call-in-the-out-of-state-reinforcements outbreak of fire in Kentucky; I remember one in the early '80s that raged close to I-64 and cast a pall of smoke that made it almost impossible to drive through.

And conditions then weren't remotely close to this bad.

From a Division of Forestry press release:

Extreme drought conditions have led to increased fire activity in the region over the last several weeks, straining firefighting resources, said KDF Director Leah McSwords.

"Many of our firefighters have been working for 15 to 20 days straight and now need some relief," she said.


With little to no rain in the forecast for eastern and southeastern kentucky for the next week to ten days, the KDF is not only repositioning its own resources but also is taking steps to ensure that aid will be available from other state and from federal agencies.

The fall 2007 fire season is shaping up to be one of the worse in the last 20 years. There already have been 1,536 fires this year, and October and November are historically the peak months in the first season.

MacSwords said that the severity of conditions has heightened the danger that fires pose to firefighters and citizens. Fires are burning hotter and moving more quickly. putting people and property at greater risk, she said.

We're lucky in Kentucky that our forests are mixed deciduous and evergreen, and a good distance from population centers, unlike the live matches of pine forest surrounding subdivisions in California.

But drought-driven fire in Kentucky is likely to become more, not less, common in the future, and the heavy economic costs - immediate destruction, firefighting costs and long-term damage to the Forest - will soon become an annual, rather than once-in-20-years, burden.

Global climate change is so tricky. Just when you think it means more hurricanes, it sneaks a catastrophic fire up your ass.

Cross-posted at BlueGrass Roots

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Democratic Tsunami Just One Month Away


If you're already tired of waiting for the likely Democratic campaign victories in 2008, have I got a treat for you.

Thirty days and about an hour from now, that sound you hear rising from the Bluegrass will be the victory cheer of Kentucky Democrats celebrating their sweep of almost every statewide office.

Yesterday, the campaign of incumbent republican governor Ernie Fletcher saw what Bluegrass Report called its hail mary pass fall short of the goal line.

For the past month, Fletcher has been trying to tar Democratic challenger Steve Beshear with the bankruptcy of Kentucky Central Life Insurance Co. 15 years ago.

Here's the Fletcher-Can't-Even-Read-Right-From-Rove's-Playbook part:

Fletcher is publicly blaming Beshear for the company's bankruptcy, even though it was friends and campaign contributors of Ernie himself who actually committed the crimes that caused the collapse, and it was Beshear's law firm that was hired to come in afterward and clean up the mess, eventually finding and restoring to cheated investors more than $300 million. And even though a 12-year-old, court-ordered report, released Saturday, concludes that Beshear did nothing wrong.

But Fletcher, who admitted breaking state law regarding hiring and firing state employees last year, is desperate to defuse Beshear's extremely successful attacks on Ernie's severe ethical problem. For the past two months, Beshear has maintained a 20-point lead on Ernie, despite Ernie flooding the airways with commercials attacking Beshear.

In fact, Kentuckians hate Ernie so much, they're giving the Democrats in down-ticket races the same double-digit margin.

Democrat Jack Conway has a 17-point lead over freakazoid wingnut Stan Lee for the open Attorney General seat.

Democratic incumbent Auditor Crit Luallen has a 20-point lead over Linda Greenwell, who lost big to Crit four years ago.

Democrat Todd Hollenbach IV has a 20-point lead over Melinda Wheeler for the open Treasurer seat.

Democrat and political neophyte Bruce Hendrickson started out in May at least 20 points behind incumbent Secretary of State Trey Grayson. But as Ernie failed to make any inroads against Beshear, Trey's numbers started to fall. Insiders now put him at 10 points ahead max, and moving in the wrong direction.

Supposed Democrat David Williams (NOT the republican president of the state senate) is challenging incumbent Commissioner of Agriculture Richie Farmer and is such a horrible candidate and so far behind that he's not even mentioned in Kentucky Democratic Party campaign materials. Farmer is a former University of Kentucky basketball star who would win re-election if his party were Hizbollah. Rumor has it that Farmer is deeply regretting not switching to the Democratic Party in January 2007, and will probably do so in January 2008. Richie's no dummy.

Yes, we're having quite a fun fall here in Kentucky. Best October since about 1999, when Democrat Paul Patton was coasting to re-election as Governor.

With the Capitol in strong Democratic hands come December 11, republicans on the 2008 Kentucky ballot are pretty much doomed. And that bodes extremely well for the nation.

Kentucky has picked the winner of the Presidential Election every time since 1964; only Missouri has a longer record.

You're welcome.

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose

UPDATE, 11:15 p.m. As Anonymous points out in comments, Kentucky doesn't have a Secretary of Agriculture. Richie Farmer is the Commissioner of Agriculture. Post has been corrected.

Congressional Democrats Are Killing Your Constitutional Rights - Again

Heave a sigh of relief this morning at the news that Congressional Democrats had come up with a "fix" for the despicably and blatantly unconstitutional FISA law?  Don't cancel your ACLU membership yet.

Once again, the dems' "compromise" gives Smirky's dictatorship all the power it wants to spy on American citizens, declare them "enemies" without evidence, snatch them off the streets and deport them to Guantanamo, torture them into madness and refuse to answer any questions about any of it.

  bmaz from Watching Those We Chose has the nauseating details. 

 When it was first announced that the House Leadership was pulling their new FISA legislation under pressure from progressives to retool it, I commented that the "Dem Leadersheep will come up with a couple of token meaningless concessions and prepare a parliamentary and whip count strategy to make sure the progressives don't cause any more problems". Sometimes, it is painful being right.
From the WaPo article:
"Some conservatives want no judicial oversight, and some liberals oppose any notion of a blanket order," said James X. Dempsey, Center for Democracy and Technology policy director. "So the challenge of the Democratic leadership is to strike a balance, one that gives the National Security Agency the flexibility to select its targets overseas but that keeps the court involved to protect the private communications of innocent Americans."

What total crock of dung. "The challenge of the Democratic leadership" is to enact a law THAT COMPLIES WITH THE CONSTITUTION; not to "strike a balance" between unconstitutional governmental intrusion and totally off the the charts unconstitutional governmental intrusion. This is absolute baloney.

I will just add this:  Once upon a time, deliberate destruction of the Constitution by elected officials had a name.


Read the whole thing. 

Cross-posted at Bluegrass Roots

Friday, October 5, 2007

Tiny Kentucky Town ROCKS for J.E.


They laughed back in June when Shawn Dixon launched his impossible crusade to bring a presidential candidate to his minuscule hometown of Columbus, Kentucky, population - wait for it - 229. That's two hundred and twenty-nine whole, entire people.

They were laughing in triumph Thursday when more than six times Columbus' population showed up to cheer Shawn and his guest, Democratic Presidential Candidate John Edwards.

Shawn was previously known as one of the geniuses behind Ditch Mitch KY, the galactic effort to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, next year. DMKY's coverage includes fabulous YouTube video from Kentucky blogging legend Jim Pence of Hillbilly Report(scroll down for two videos.)

Oh, yeah, some local rag inside the Beltway sent a reporter, too.

UPDATE, 6:55 p.m.Check out this great photo album of snapshots from the event. Note Best-of-America crowd shots of ages one month to 80 years, white 60-something male Vietnam veteran next to African-American female 30-something. Yes, that's the Mississippi River in the background, and that good-looking kid with the Better Hair Than John Edwards is Shawn Dixon Himself.

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Beeps, Babies and Bucking Bush

Twenty people showed up on Frankfort's main drag tonight to protest Smirky's veto of the SCHIP expansion and demand Congress override the veto.

That's 20 including at least three 20-somethings, and not counting a teenager and two babies.

Protesters received many beeps of encouragement and thumbs-up from drivers - even long air-horn blasts from a couple of truckers. One SUV driver rolled down his window to shout: "You know Bush had a good reason for that, right?" Protesters braced for a tirade. But the driver shouted "Because he's an idiot!"

A fun time was had by all.

Cross-posted at BluegrassRoots

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

If You Support the Troops, You Can't Oppose the War

For 35 years, we’ve had the lesson beaten into us: Support the Troops, or else! You can’t be anti-war unless you Support the Troops! You’ll lose credibility unless you Support the Troops! You’ll lose elections unless you Support the Troops!

We got hosed.

Turns out you can’t oppose the war – or the occupation, or the clusterfuck, or however you want to describe the catastrophe that is Iraq today – and support the troops at the same time.

Turns out if you support the troops, you have to support the war.

No, I’m not making fun of the latest wingnut talking points. I’m trying to make sense of a conversation I had recently with a veteran.

I wasn’t looking for an argument; coward that I am, I avoid discussing Iraq, Smirky, repugs, etc. with anyone I suspect harbors wingnut views, and I knew this veteran to be a conservative republican and christianist.

But somehow the subject of “negative press coverage of the war hurts the troops” came up and before I could stop it the question had spilled out: “How does criticizing the war hurt the troops? Just because the war is wrong doesn’t mean anything bad against the troops.”

At first, he tried to explain it calmly. Essentially, he claimed that every military person internalizes and identifies with whatever conflict he or she is fighting. Criticism of the conflict translates into criticism of the military itself and every person serving in it.

I tried to explain that was not what criticism of a conflict means, and he exploded. This very intelligent, educated, polite, generally soft-spoken and easy-going guy suddenly turned into Rush Limbaugh. Red-faced and infuriated, he yelled:

“When you say the war is stupid you’re saying that I’m stupid for fighting it! When you attack the war you attack me personally!”

No, Rush Limbaugh is the wrong analogy. Raw Limp Balls is a clown performing for the mob.

This veteran was releasing decades of pent-up resentment, of passionate fury and yes, self-pity, against a peace-loving society that he perceived as anti-military.

I was stunned. It’s not news that most military types conflate war criticism and anti-militarism, but I had never before witnessed the irrational anger behind it.

Later he apologized for his outburst, but undermined the apology with yet more justification of his belief. It was particularly despicable, he said, to criticize a war for which members of the military volunteered to join. They knew they were going to a combat zone, he emphasized; saying the war is wrong is calling them stupid for volunteering.

I asked if drafted soldiers felt differently, and he said no, draftees identify with their war the same way enlistees do. It’s just much worse to criticize a war being fought by volunteers.

I’m sure you’ve already jumped down to fill the comments section with the countless ways his argument is specious, and you’re right.

But let’s not forget that there are more than a few anti-war types out there who are, indeed, saying in so many words of one syllable that everyone in today’s volunteer military, especially the Army, is a stupid git who deserves whatever he gets.

As, of course, there are also many Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans, not to mention many active-duty soldiers and Marines, who strongly oppose the war as ill-advised, mismanaged and counter-productive.

This is not about whether the service members fighting and dying in Iraq are heroes, victims, or idiots.

This is about how difficult it is to discuss the relative merits of a particular armed conflict when even the slightest criticism is dismissed because it undermines the troops.

We will never come to any national consensus on rational use of military force as long as Supporting the Troops trumps all.

Cross-posted at BluegrassRoots

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

If You Need More Reasons To Hate Congressional Democrats

I have never been one of those liberals who claim “there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats.” I think the Bush Terror Interregnum has thoroughly disproved that proposition.

However, if you suspect that Congressional Democrats are doing less than their utmost to distinguish themselves from the freakazoid nutjobs who populate this maladministration, you’ll find plenty of evidence in Gary Kamiya’s Salon piece How the Democrats Blew It.

One of many head-banging sentences:

By allowing themselves to be intimidated into supporting Bush's war of choice, and by failing to offer a clear alternative to his moralistic, ahistorical, thuggish approach to the Middle East, the Democrats have once again embraced their time-honored strategy of presenting themselves as kinder, gentler Republicans.

Warning: Do not read while in proximity to sharp objects, loaded weapons or an open flame.

Cross-posted at BluegrassRoots