January 13, 2006

Don't Mess with Texas: Last month, over 15% of the new foreclosures nationwide were in the Lone Star State. One out of every 631 households are in some stage of the foreclosure process in Texas, encompassing 12,753 homes, and the numbers rose 61% for the month of December. In comparison, California, which also saw a significant jump in December, reported only 7,674 homes in foreclosure. Other states joining Texas at the bottom of the heap are Utah, Indiana and Ohio, which regular readers of this site know have also seen the smallest increase in property values over the last five years, as well as the highest bankruptcy rates.
Prof. Kleiman, on getting CAPPED:
conservatism has never gone through the process of separating itself from the bigots, as liberalism separated itself from the communists during the Cold War period. Conservative politicians are delighted to receive the support of bigoted voters, the dollars of bigoted contributors, and the endorsements of bigoted TV preachers, and reluctant to do anything to alienate that large chunk of the 'base.'
He's right, but then again conservatives have not seen any political reason to do so. In fact, throughout the history of American politics, the side that best speaks the "code" of racial politics is the one that wins elections most frequently. Bigots outnumber blacks in the electorate, and for the GOP to renounce the "code" would place them in the same situation that LBJ perceived for the Democrats after he signed the Voting Rights Act.

January 12, 2006

Forget what anyone is saying right now about the chances of a filibuster over the Alito nomination. They are mainly commenting on whether a filibuster has a chance of success, which isn't the same thing as actually attempting one; once it gets started, with the debate centering on the nominee's membership in a white supremacist group, as well as his more recent lying about same, it will take on a momentum of its own. Even Democrats like Nelson and Baucus will have to take a stand when the time comes.

In any event, Lieberman's announcement this morning that a filibuster is definitely in play for him is far more important. It was the then-rookie Senator's decision to renounce a filibuster, while at the same time publicly opposing the nominee, that allowed the Thomas nomination to squeak through fifteen years ago. Without Lieberman, it becomes a lot harder to find at least five Democrats (and that's assuming the GOP can hold all of its caucus) to vote for cloture.

In spite of what may have transpired at the hearings (which it is safe to say that no one watched), I think Alito is in worse shape than Clarence Thomas was in 1991 at the same point in time.

January 11, 2006

Obviously, the right does not hold a monopoly on political criticism of the Stalinoid variety. To wit, David Sirota:
If you want to know why many people believe the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) severely hobbles the Democratic Party and gives cover to the worst right-wing stereotypes, just take a look at a guy they employ named Marshall Wittman. Now, I tend to think giving any publicity to people who are hacks gives them undue attention - but in this case, Wittman provides a cautionary tale about Democrats' "big tent" mantra, where everyone gets accepted no matter how idiotic, dishonest, uninformed or dangerous their blather is.

Wittman is a former Republican operative and Christian Coalition official who now purports to speak for Democrats from his post at the DLC - an institution that has over the years been funded by, among others,
Enron, Philip Morris, and Chevron. He is now trying to make a name for himself defending President Bush's illegal domestic spying operation - again, while pretending to speak for Democrats. Here's what he says:

"There is absolutely no evidence that [Bush] was attempting to do anything else but protect America...We can have a reasoned debate about this issue without impugning the motives of a Commander in Chief who was attempting to defend the nation."

Earlier today, I wrote a piece about a new form of journalism sweeping the nation: it's called
Rectal Journalism, and it features reporters and supposedly objective experts basically pulling things out of their asses and peddling it as fact - when it is anything but. Wittman represents Rectal Punditry - the art of commenting on current events without bothering to actually look at the facts, and instead relying only on what the pundit pulls out of their ass. And Wittman does it in a way that exposes his own ideological motives, which are clearly to undermine the courageous Democrats who have questioned the President's behavior.


...Wittman wants us to forget all the facts that provide ample reason for us to suspect the White House was trying to do something other than protect America when it ordered the illegal surveillance operations and refused to get warrants. He wants us to simply swallow what he's pulling from his ass - no matter how smelly the turds of dishonesty are.

This is why the DLC is dangerous. For all their claims of supposedly wanting to help Democrats, they employ people like Marshall Wittman who specifically try to undermine the Democratic Party, even if it means he has to publicly defecate out the most rank and easily-debunkable lies. They reguarly give credence to the right wing's agenda and its worst, most unsupportable lies. They are the real force that tries to make sure this country is a one party state and that Democrats never really challenge the Republicans in a serious way.
[Emphasis mine]
Those damned Weimar Democrats...acting as if they had as much right to criticize liberals as, lets say, someone else might have in stabbing a Fighting Democrat in the back who's running for the Senate in Ohio.

Memo to David Sirota: Democrats have been winning statewide elections in Montana for more than a century. Almost every person who's ever been elected to the Senate from that state has been a Democrat. Hell, Dukakis almost won that state in 1988, and he got killed everywhere else. Your gravytraining off of the victory of a multimillionaire last year doesn't impress. You bring nothing to the table.

January 10, 2006

Any inclination I might have toward giving Judge Alito a break is tempered by the fact that he just isn't credible on his membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton. If he had answered this morning that thirty years ago, he was an inmature sexist bigot, but that through the normal passage of life, having to witness what his wife and daughter go through every day (for example), he had come to regret such dealings, and become more sensitive to the difficulties people outside his privileged circle face, I would say it was a non-issue, in the same way I treat Senator Byrd's role as a recruiter for the Klan sixty years ago. Now is now.

But to pretend that he not only has no idea why he joined, but that he can't recall why he listed his membership in the organization ten years later in his c.v., that doesn't pass the giggle test. When he applied for a job with the Meese Justice Department, he knew who his audience was, what sort of code they paid attention to, and stating that he belonged to CAP spoke volumes. No Democrat could possibly vote for this guy in good conscience.

UPDATE [1/11]: "Armando" from DK, who has been a must-read since the hearings started, has more on why CAP (and Alito's mendacity) is important.

January 09, 2006

Michael Hiltzik's follow-up to last week's critique of media critic types in the blogosphere can be found here. He seems to have generated a great deal of heat, if not a lot in careful rebuttal. While he goes overboard when he ascertains motives to others (ironically, since his targets base most of their obsessive behavior on proscribing ideological motives to journalists), and he seems to have no problem ignoring the same problems when they occur on the left, the reaction to his post does seem to indicate that certain bloggers have a problem when the factchecking spotlight is focused on them.

Those who pore over every front-page article, cherrypicking any picayune example of ideological bias (such as whether an item of news is placed on page one, or inside the paper), are engaged in an attempt to subvert journalism, whether they do so from the right or left. To use the analogy Eric Alterman is so fond of, they are playing the role of a coach who paces the sideline, constantly yelling and getting in the face of the ref, in the hope they can plant a seed that will lead to a more favorable call later in the game. Whatever "working the ref" is, it's not designed to produce a fairer or better officiated game. And particularly since conservatives holds the reigns of power at almost every level of our society, any effort to mau-mau journalists into putting government spin on an equal billing with objective fact will fundamentally limit all of our freedoms.

What Hiltzik did here was to apply objective analysis to the task of reviewing the work of a blogger. The hysterical reaction from the right is a sign that the blogosphere is not ready to deal with constructive criticism, or even a factchecker.
A good rundown of the obstacles facing Judge Alito en route to confirmation, here. The first day of hearings are always the best for the nominee. He gets to put on his best face, introduce his wife and family, pablumate his great love for the Constitution and America, etc., while his adversaries always shoot themselves in the foot, by making long-winded, pompous opening statements. The polling is decisively in his favor right now, although that seems to be based on the erroneous notion that he would vote to preserve privacy rights, not limit Roe, etc..

Memo to Charles Schumer: if you can't say what you need to say in 30 seconds or less, STFU !!! This nomination is important to the rest of us; the last thing we need is for you to be sabotaging the opposition because you love the sound of your own voice.