Thoughts from a Yellow Dog Democrat living in Olympia, in the great BLUE state of Washington

I am a liberal because it is the political philosophy of freedom and equality. And I am a progressive because it is the political path to a better future. And I am a Democrat because it is the political party that believes in freedom, equality and progress. -- Digby

Monday, December 31, 2007


I'm a little sad that Huckabee is crashing and burning so soon. His meltdown after the Bhutto assassination showing his complete lack of any international knowledge came too soon. I was looking forward to him gathering steam and then watching the inevitable overt trashing of the evangelicals by the Republican party. For a couple decades they have talked the talk and courted them but almost never delivered on any of their wishes. I'm sure the evanelicals know they are the ugly cousin, just invited to the party becuase the Repubs have to, but otherwise ignored and forgotten. But if Huchabee started gathering steam, the repubs would have to start trashing him and it would be obvious to even the most die hard denier.

I have a question for Huckabee after his performance yesterday on Meet the Press:
MR. RUSSERT: Some Americans believe that life does not begin at conception, and that it's...
GOV. HUCKABEE: Well, scientifically I think that's almost...a point that you couldn't argue. How, how could you say that life doesn't begin at conception...
MR. RUSSERT: Right. Do you respect that view? [..]
GOV. HUCKABEE: I respect it as a view, but I don't think it has biological credibility.
So since two-thirds of fertilized eggs are spontaneously discarded through the menstral flow, should we start holding funerals and burials for all our pads and tampons?

Sorry to be crude. But his argument always gets me. I can go along with the viability test but the 'moment of conception'!!??

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Senator Cantwell

I sent Senator Cantwell an e-mail yesterday asking her to support Senator Dodd efforts and that I am against retroactive immunity for the Telecoms. She sent me an e-mail back today but I haven't a clue what she supports. See if you have any better luck deciphering it:

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I appreciate hearing from you on this important matter.

As you may know, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 was enacted after a series of Senate hearings revealed CIA abuses throughout the 1970s. This law sets requirements for physical and electronic surveillance and provides for judicial oversight for most federal wiretapping conducted in the United States .

I believe we must take necessary actions to defeat terrorists, including those here in the United States helping terrorists overseas, but we should do so in a way that is consistent with the U.S. Constitution and that protects the privacy of law-abiding Americans.

In August 2007, my Senate colleagues and I considered two bills to amend FISA, both entitled the Protect America Act. The version Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and John Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced, S. 2011, would have broadened authority to conduct domestic surveillance, but with expanded judicial oversight. I voted for this bill, but it failed by a 43-45 vote. Another version, S. 1927, introduced by Senator Christopher Bond (R-MO), expands authority to conduct domestic surveillance, but limits the role of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and gives the Attorney General more power to force telecommunications firms to cooperate with surveillance operations. Even though this legislation sunsets in February 2008, it raises critical civil liberties concerns and I voted against it. However, the bill passed by a 60-28 vote. President Bush subsequently signed it in to law on August 5, 2007.

Congress is currently considering legislation on surveillance issues on a more permanent basis. Members of both the House and Senate are working on legislation to balance surveillance activities with the need to protect civil liberties and enhance judicial oversight. The House FISA amendment bill, H.R. 3773 , passed the House on November 15, 2007 by a vote of 227-189. The Senate Intelligence Committee approved its own version of the bill, S. 2248, by a vote of 13-2. Unlike the House bill, the Senate bill contains a provision for retroactive liability protection for telecommunication companies that assisted the government in electronic surveillance after 9/11. The Senate Judiciary Committee also released a version of the bill, though like the House bill, it does not contain retroactive liability protection.

On December 17, 2007, the Senate voted on a motion to consider the Intelligence Committee version of the FISA amendment bill, S. 2248. I voted against this motion, but cloture was invoked by a vote of 76-10. I opposed cloture on the motion to proceed to the FISA amendment bill because I have significant concerns that the bill does not adequately protect the constitutional rights of American citizens, and at the same time it provides blanket immunity to telecommunications companies for their role in the Bush Administration's warrentless wiretapping program without information as to precisely what those companies did. Later that day, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced the Senate would delay further debate on the FISA amendment bill until January 2008.

I believe we can protect both national security and civil liberties, and there must be oversight of government and anti-terrorism programs to ensure that civil liberties are indeed protected. I will certainly keep your comments in mind when this issue comes before the full Senate again.

Thank you again for contacting me to share your thoughts on this matter.

I think she's against retroactive immunity but she seems anxious to make sure we can spy domestically. Wouldn't it be great if our legislators could write in plain English?


Monday, December 17, 2007

We Are Through the Looking Glass . .

. . . and we are Alice (the pawn).

It is shocking to have Harry Reid present this version of the FISA bill today (2 months prior to it's expiring -- why the hurry, Harry??) and we have Democrats debating Democrats. We should for now on refer this as a 'Jabberwocky' -- or debating yourself as in a mirror. The Republicans (the crows) must all be wetting themselves laughing at us. Feinstein is an embarrassment defending retroactive immunity -- she says it should be up to a court to decide if the wiretraps were legal BUT she wants immunity for the phone companies -- it's Humpty Dumpty discussing semantics and pragmatics:

"I don't know what you mean by 'glory,' "Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. "Of course you don't -- till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!'"
"But `glory' doesn't mean `a nice knock-down argument,'" Alice objected.
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master -- that's all."
Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again.
"They've a temper, some of them -- particularly verbs, they're the proudest -- adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs -- however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That's what I say!"

Meanwhile the Republicans are sitting on the sideline, controlling the strings, laughing at us but ready to do a "booga, booga" and the spineless Democrats are falling for it AGAIN!
Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.
Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
As black as a tar-barrel;
Which frightened both the heroes so,
They quite forgot their quarrel.

GAWED! Can't we throw ALL these bums out! The Democrats are woosies! What a mess.

UPDATE: 12-18-07

We had a temporary success. Harry Reid decided to pull the bill off the floor. Hurrah for Kennedy, Dodd, Feingold, Boxer and the others who spoke passionately to get rid of retroactive immunity and stand up for the Constitution but where were the others? Expect Reid to sneak it back once the political pressure lessens or we get distracted by another white woman in trouble or some other non-sense. Remember the Dudai Port sale deal? When we're not paying attention it will slip by.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Yep. It's the Blogger's Fault

Helen Thomas asked NBC White House correspondent David Gregory what was responsible for the polarization, Gregory answered:
I think it’s because of the internet largely. The polarized atmosphere in the internet and blogs and whatnot have been a major contributor to that.

Richard Powers has a great response to Gregory:
Yes, of course, it was the bloggers who polarized the US body politic.

The bloggers spent $50 million plus on Ken Starr's rogue investigation, which was coordinated with the work of the privately funded, reich-wing "Arkansas Project."

The bloggers shackled Susan McDougal and sent her to jail.

The bloggers impeached a popular President at a time of peace and economic prosperity over testimony in a civil suit involving sexual intercourse.

The bloggers issued that voluminous report on Bill Clinton's dalliance with Monica Lewinsky, and posted it on the WWW.

The bloggers ignored accurate US intelligence on Al Qaeda pre-9/11, leading to the slaughter of thousands of innocents at the WTC, and the bloggers distorted accurate US intelligence on Iraq post-9/11, leading to the deaths of thousands of US military personnel, and the maiming of tens of thousands more.

The bloggers swift-boated John Kerry in 2004, morphed Max Cleland's face into Osama bin Laden's in 2002 TV ads, and smeared John McCain in South Carolina in 2000.

The bloggers gutted the surplus, and took the leash of the federal deficit.

In 2000, the bloggers stopped the counting of the ballots ordered by the Florida Supreme Court, and installed the man who lost, as the counting, finished later by researchers, would confirm.

In 2004, the bloggers made sure there weren't enough voting machines in the poorest and blackest districts of Ohio.

The bloggers caged voters. The bloggers purged voters from the rolls.

The bloggers intimidated voters.

The bloggers jammed the phones of the Democratic Party on election day 2002 in New Hampshire.

Yes, it was the bloggers who wasted seven years the planet could not afford to waste clinging to denial and disinformation about the nature, causes and implications of global warming.

The bloggers prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman on false charges.

The bloggers fired eight US Attorneys for pursuing Bush-Cheney associates and not pursuing Bush-Cheney adversaries. The bloggers made Habeas Corpus and the Bill of Rights optional.

The bloggers established a Gulag system, instituted torture and rendition, and started disappearing people. The bloggers stayed on vacation while New Orleans drowned.

The bloggers blocked federal funding for stem cell research.

The bloggers tried to make certain that the brain-dead Terri Schiavo would be kept on a feeding tube indefinitely.

The bloggers betrayed US secret agent Valerie Plame, and then made certain that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby -- the man who was convicted of obstructing Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation -- would not spend a single day in prison.

Yes, of course, the bloggers have polarized us all.

The sad fact is that if the David Gregorys of the US mainstream news media had fulfilled their special responsibilities as the "fourth estate," which are articulated in both the US Constitution and the writings of the Founders, most us who have served as citizen journalists and commentators would never have gone into blogging.

Blogging is really simply the pamphleteering of our age.

If Tom Paine were alive today, he would, of course, be a blogger.

But this time there is no need for a revolution, only for the restoration of the democratic institutions that were won in the revolution, including a press free of both governments and corporations.

In the 1960s and 1970s, we only need one I.F. Stone; because, in large part, the US mainstream news media still did its job, at least on some stories concerning egregious wrongs, e.g., Watergate and the Pentagon Papers. But now, after decades of media consolidation, we need an Internet-based Information Rebellion, and that is what we have delivered.

What David Gregory is really saying is that he and those who write his checks are scared of the future. And they should be. They are on the wrong side of the digital barricades, and the wrong side of US history.

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