Monthly archives: August, 2007

Stifling Protest: Bad Choice Between Law And Order

From our friends at the First Amendment Center:

Taxpayers and First Amendment values can take a hit when police and other officials forget that dissent is as American as apple pie and also is constitutionally protected speech.

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Amen Rally the Dems!

Alex Koppelman writing for throws a shot at the Democrats: Run against Bush — and toughen up — or lose in ’08.

Koppelman interviews psychologist Drew Westen, who “says Democrats could lose yet again if they don’t learn how to stand up for themselves and connect with voters emotionally.”

His emphasis? The Democrats should run against Bush:

I think the most important thing they could do is to make sure that they tie every Republican incumbent and whoever becomes the Republican nominee for president in with George Bush, because the reality is the Republicans are all going to run from George Bush as best they can in this next election. Elections are won and lost on associations, and right now, unless there’s another terrorist attack on our soil in the next 18 months, the connection to George Bush is going to be a tremendous liability for any candidate …

If the Democrats run against anyone other than Bush and the Republican Party, Bush and the Republican Congress, Bush and the Republican presidential nominee, I think they’ll probably lose, because I think the Republicans are adept enough at getting out of those associations unless the Democrats start making them now.

I would find every picture these guys ever took down at Crawford with “W” and put them on billboards, in major newspapers, on YouTube.

And don’t forget Giuliani in drag:

The Dems’ “Alberto Moment”

So what happens to this guy now?  Alberto Gonzales is finally out as Attorney General, and we’re all wondering who will replace him.  But what happens to Alberto now?  Does he get a free ride?  Is the president so sure that he’s safer now?

Ruth Marcus at The Washington Post muses on what finally convinced AG it was time to flee:

Did Gonzales finally decide he preferred to leave, or was it decided for him? Based on Gonzales’s previous insistence on staying, I’d guess he was pushed, in one of those Washington, no-fingerprints ways.

We’ll never know for certain.   But Marcus nails the most convincing reason for Gonzales’ departure:

During the attorney general’s last, disastrous appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee a month ago, Wisconsin Democrat Herb Kohl asked the question that was on the mind of anyone watching, and wincing, at Gonzales’s pummeling: “What keeps you in the job, Mr. Attorney General?”

“Ultimately I have to decide whether or not it’s better for me to leave or just stay and try to fix the problems,” Gonzales replied. “I’ve decided to stay and fix the problems.”

This captured precisely why Gonzales needed to go. The notion that Gonzales could “fix the problems” ignored the fact that these were problems of his own creation — in many ways, he was the problem. Gonzales tended to talk about himself as if he were having an out-of-body experience, saying, for example, about the firing of U.S. attorneys: “I am not aware that it certainly was in my mind a problem or basis to accept the recommendation that they be asked to leave.”

Gonzales was the problem, and two major problems remain in Bush and Cheney.   Which brings me to a theme I’ve explored before on Turning Left: Where are the Democrats?  Are they having a collective “Alberto Moment” and forgetting what they were elected to do?  Where is their leadership?

Everyone is so concerned about being in on stage right now.  Seems like half the party is running for president.  Some of our best leaders right now are too concerned about image, too concerned about polls, too concerned about fund raising, too concerned about Iowa, that they’re forgetting to lead.  Some of our best leaders are focusing on the center, trying to be everybody’s lover, everybody’s buddy.

I’ve said this before: We need the Democrats now.  NOW.

Topics of Interest

Articles of Interest

US Official: “There will be an attack on Iran.”

The neo-cons are having wet dreams about attacking Iran, and they’re stepping up the rhetoric.

According to an article in yesterday’s Time Magazine,  the Bush Administration is planning on putting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the terrorism list.  The article by Robert Baer, a former CIA field officer assigned to the Middle East, gives every indication that the Bush Administration intends to go forward with some type of attack in Iran, “an awe and shock campaign, lite, if you will,” and actually believe that taking out the IRGC will pave the way for Democracy in Iran, and help stabilize Iraq.

And, dammit, we’ve heard that all before.

From the article:

As with Saddam and his imagined WMD, the Administration’s case against the IRGC is circumstantial. The U.S. military suspects but cannot prove that the IRGC is the main supplier of sophisticated improvised explosive devices to insurgents killing our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And later:

A second part of the Administration’s case against the IRGC is that the IRGC has had a long, established history of killing Americans, starting with the attack on the Marines in Beirut in 1983. And that’s not to mention it was the IRGC that backed Hizballah in its thirty-four day war against Israel last year. The feeling in the Administration is that we should have taken care of the IRGC a long, long time ago.

So, take out the IRGC, and we’ll have regional stability at last.

But what if that doesn’t happen?

And what do we do if just the opposite happens — a strike on Iran unifies Iranians behind the regime? An Administration official told me it’s not even a consideration. “IRGC IED’s are a casus belli for this administration. There will be an attack on Iran.”

Yet another half-baked casus belli from the neo-cons an “W”.  Will they finally be sending their own children to fight this one?

Rubbing Salt in 9/11’s Wounds

PhD-dropout Alec Rawls has a conspiracy-theory laden blog he’s using to rub salt in 9/11 victims’ wounds. Aptly called, “Error Theory,” Rawls latest has drawn the attention of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for his criticism of the proposed Flight 93 memorial. According to the Post-Gazette:

Nearly two years after the design of the United Flight 93 Memorial was changed to eliminate any perceived Islamic symbolism, the father of one of the people killed in the crash has asked that his son’s name be withheld from the monument.

“It’s something I’d rather not do, but I can’t get anyone to listen,” said Tom Burnett Sr., of Northfield, Minn. “In a sense, I’m asking for a call to action.”

Burnett’s suspicions have been inflamed by Rawls’ strange allegations:

“A person facing into the giant central crescent of the Flight 93 Memorial is facing Mecca.”

There are 44 glass blocks being used in the design, representing the 40 passengers and four terrorists who hijacked the plane.

The 93-foot tall Tower of Voices, which will include wind chimes to represent those who died, is an Islamic sundial. “Shadow calculations confirm that, on any day of the year, when the tower shadow reaches the inner arc of trees, it will be time for Islamic afternoon prayers.”

According to Rawls, he has Burnett’s full support:

He described his own efforts to stop the crescent design, including letters to the press that were never published. [Update: In a subsequent discussion with Mrs. Burnett, she thought that at least one of the letters was published by the Somerset Daily American. Will update later with what I can verify about who did and did not publish the letters.] With the crescent design still going forward, he has decided that it is necessary to up the ante, and has authorized me to publicize his decision to protest the crescent design by insisting that Tom Jr.’s name not be inscribed on one of the 44 glass blocks emplaced along the flight path, or used anywhere else in the memorial.

The problem with the theory, of course, is, like theories of Young Earth Creationists, it has no bearing on reality. There are only 40 glass blocks planned for the memorial.

Back to the Post-Gazette:

When the concerns about the use of the crescent first arose, the designer of the memorial, Paul Murdoch, willingly changed the shape to an almost full circle.

And this:

Regarding the claim that there are 44 glass blocks in the memorial, Mr. Murdoch vehemently disagreed, saying that, first of all, there is no glass block used in the design.

Instead, there are 40 inscribed marble panels listing the names of the passengers and crew at the gateway to the Sacred Ground, where their remains still rest.

There is then an opening in the wall, Mr. Murdoch said, and three additional panels, which would include the date, Sept. 11, 2001.

“Where the other one is being fabricated, I don’t know,” he said.

And there’s more in the Post-Gazette to refute these absurd allegations.

It’s enough that we collectively were victimized on September 11, 2001, and that some, like Mr. Burnett, felt that pain as no one ever should. But Rawls’ fabrications continue to divide us, and rub salt in old wounds. And Muslims were also horrified at the actions of a few, claiming their religion as justification for pure evil – just as the vast majority of Christians are horrified by the Ku Klux Klan claiming Jesus of Nazareth as inspiration for their hateful deeds.

Sifting through plans for a memorial to eradicate every imagined reference to Islam brings us all down.

Rawls and others of his ilk should visit a Mosque, or an interfaith gathering with Muslims, Christians, and Jews. For one evening, they should speak with, pray with, and get to know their neighbors. But perhaps that is asking too much.

After all, Jesus had a very unconventional response to the question, “Who is my neighbor?”

Ranch Dressing

President Bush's Ranch DressingAustin American-Statesman reporter White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, and President Bush, no doubt, for awarding the president the “Walker, Texas Ranger” ranch clothing prize. drew our attention to this. According to an article in the Washington Post:

What really gets George W. Bush riled up? Calling him a fashion victim.

Last week, Marques Harper of the Austin American- Statesman wrote a short piece about the president’s sartorial style on his Texas ranch, where Bush is spending a two-week vacation. The article was reprinted Tuesday in a Waco, Tex., paper, and the leader of the free world was not pleased.

Harper received a phone call that morning from White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino, who, Harper told friends, said the president read the article and was unhappy about the way he was portrayed.

On this trip, President Bush wins the coveted award for US Prez. who has spent the least time at the White House, rivaling only Governor Blagojevich of Illinois in time spent away from his respective capital.

According to Harper’s article, which requires a free subscription to view:

Bush has two distinct looks when he’s in Texas: the ranch-hand man and the crisp appearance of a ranch owner. In recent months, with his sliding popularity, he’s opted to look more like “Walker, Texas Ranger” than a sweaty, tough ranch hand.

“As he loses popularity, his image is more and more critical,” said Sara Canaday, an Austin-based communication and image consultant. “He’s being advised wisely. He’d better step it up. He wants to have this sort of bravado image when he’s on that ranch.”

When things really fall apart, bring in the fashion consultant!

It’s tough times at the White House on the style front. According to The Washington Post, signs have appeared at numerous White House entrances in recent days, reminding staff members and others that proper attire must be maintained. That means no jeans, sneakers, shorts, miniskirts, T-shirts, tank tops or flip-flops.

Harper’s piece ends with a bit of advice for the First Vacationer:

With only one presidential summer left in Crawford after this, perhaps it’s time for Mr. President to line up work for life after the White House. Here’s a thought: Follow the lead of Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader who is the new face of luxe brand Louis Vuitton.

In his Western duds, Bush easily could model for Ralph Lauren. But if his popularity is still low through the end of his presidency, he could always try Wrangler.

Time for Queer Eye for the Travelin’ Guy.

The “Responsible Democrat”

Once Upon A Time has a very good take on what it means to the right when the left capitulates and folds:

If you believe the United States has the “right” to take “offensive military action against Iran” — that is, against a nation that does not threaten us now and will not threaten us for years to come, if ever — and if you believe, in the event we do launch an unprovoked, non-defensive attack on Iran, which is to say, if we commit another monstrous war crime, that it would be nice, but hardly necessary, “if the rest of the world saw it as a position of last resort”; and

If you think the United States should still have troops in Iraq at the end of your second term as president, which is to say, at least through the end of 2016 — which is, of course, the view of the entrenched foreign policy establishment that believes in a foreign policy of aggressive, neverending global interventionism maintained by an empire of military bases around the world, all to guarantee American hegemony….

Reminds me of Jeff Foxworthy, “You could be a redneck.”

Hillary right now tops the Democratic charts, and apparently has some appeal to the right.  But at what cost?

And The Field Narrows

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson has dropped out of his race for the White House.  According to the AP:

The campaign statement said Thompson intends to take some time off before returning to the private sector and his nonprofit work.The 65-year-old said he’s comforted by the fact that he thinks he made a difference for people during his campaign.

He finished sixth among 11 candidates in this weekend’s GOP straw poll in Iowa, garnering a disappointing 7 percent of the vote. He had said before the Iowa event that he would drop out of the race unless he finished first or second.

The statement didn’t say whether he would endorse another candidate.

The Republican field thins out by one.