August 05, 2006

Three major Hollywood players, including Steven Spielberg, are backing Ahnolt in his reelection bid in a big, big way. Even more significantly, the three previously opposed the recall effort that brought Schwarzenegger to power in the first place, and had been high profile supporters of Gray Davis.

August 04, 2006

Lefty blogs need to call a moratorium on the use of Photoshop. It's sleazy and unethical to doctor a photo when you're posting on something unimportant (eg., a photo "showing" an SC cheerleader "celebrating" a Texas touchdown in the last Rose Bowl), so why should it be tolerated in the context of political advocacy over life-and-death issues? And while we're at it, let's vow never to make a point by putting the likeness of an adversary in blackface. Amos & Andy has been off the air for fifty years, and those for whom that is still a visceral image are collecting Social Security. The rest of us just think that the person who creates such a caricature is a jackass.
Arthur Lee, 1945-2006: A giant in our local music scene, Lee influenced both the psychedelic and punk generations. His group, Love, had only two hit singles, but both were classics that sound as fresh today as they did forty years ago: "My Little Red Book", a Burt Bacharach composition which was a huge hit in Los Angeles and on the West Coast, and "7 and 7 Is", their biggest national hit, and for decades a staple for any self-respecting garage band. He hit on hard times, and for awhile he was probably the most famous person to be serving time under California's Three Strikes law. In recent years, he toured Europe with Love, performing songs from their seminal 1967 album, Forever Changes, before calling it quits last year upon the onset of leukemia, which took his life yesterday. Requiescat in pacem.

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus has his own tribute, here.

August 03, 2006

The normally reliable Stuart Rothenberg, on one possible consequence of a Ned Lamont victory:
Some Democrats fear that a three-way contest could encourage Republicans to find a way to force their nominee out of the race and replace him with a much more serious Senate candidate. But a Lamont victory would not seriously threaten the Democrats’ hold on that seat unless the Republicans were to find a stronger nominee.

Lamont’s victory, however, would not be without its downside for Democrats, since it would only embolden the crazies in the party, a consideration not lost on other Democratic elected officials and strategists.

Lieberman’s defeat is likely to add to the partisanship and bitterness that divides the country and Capitol Hill, and to generate more media attention to grassroots bomb-throwers who, down the road, are likely to make the party less appealing to swing voters and moderates.
(emphasis added)
Last time I checked, it was the "crazies" in the party that unquestioningly supported the Bush Administration's policies in the Middle East. After three years of abject failure and lowered national prestige, those in the Democratic Party who continue to back the Neocons' Grand Adventure are certainly more nuts than anything Little Green Firedogs might be blogging about this week.
54-41: That's the lead Ned Lamont now has over Senator Joe Lieberman in the race to be the Democratic Senate nominee in Connecticut. It's become increasingly clear that St. Joseph's announcement that he would run as an independent should he lose on Tuesday was the dumbest of a series of really stupid tactical moves in this campaign. He seemed churlish and contemptuous of the voters within his party when he made that announcement, and his support cratered; even voters who were skeptical of Lamont now had a free pass in the primary to vote their conscience on the Iraq War, since the incumbent would still be on the ballot in November. But a rout next week will thoroughly discredit any independent run, and make it more likely that the GOP will try to find a more credible standardbearer for November, further cutting Lieberman's base. [link via Daily Kos]

August 02, 2006

From Media Matters, a new low for the Far Right (at least for this week): a LaRouchite smear against George Soros begins to worm its way into the "mainstream." And from Andrew Sullivan, a compare-and-contrast posting on partners-in-bigotry Mel Gibson and Ann Coulter:
Coulter has condemned all Muslims and all gays in ways that pander to the basest prejudices against them. She used the term "fag" on cable television recently. She has publicly argued for killing Muslims in the Middle East indiscriminately. She does all this stone-cold sober and means not a word of it. Gibson, on the other hand, clearly deep down believes that the Jews are evil, that they are responsible for all the wars in the world, and his hatred for gay men is well-documented. Both Coulter and Gibson have made a fortune catering to bigotry. But one is sincere; and one is completely cynical.
I don't know about that; is there any reason to believe Coulter's hate isn't as sincere and real as Mad Max's? I know there has been some under-the-table gossip about Coulter and a certain openly lesbian right wing talk radio hostess, but Sullivan doesn't appear to be alluding to that.

August 01, 2006

Send In The Clown: Who is the genius in the Lamont campaign who thought this association was a good idea? Was Mike Tyson not available?
Wikiality: Stephen Colbert actually did edit several pages on Wikipedia last night on his show, as he said he would.
Sugar-t**s Feminism:
Christian women — especially Catholics — know what pop culture thinks of their role: subservient; unworthy; barefoot and pregnant; seen but not heard. Consider, in contrast, the words of the current pope: "In transforming culture so that it supports life, women occupy a place, in thought and action, which is unique and decisive. It depends on them to promote a 'new feminism' which rejects the temptation of imitating models of 'male domination,' in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation." Mel Gibson gets that genius.


...Mel Gibson's understanding of women and his articulation of their unique mission could have remarkable repercussions. This new — or old, inasmuch as it is natural and commonsensical — kind of feminism, a focus on the different contributions of men and women and the different ways they live their missions, should make us all rethink how we live and love.
- Kathryn-Jean Lopez, National Revew Online (12/2/03) [link via Andrew Sullivan]

July 31, 2006

Ahnolt's first treaty !! Not bad, either. Stem cell research, now greenhouse gasses; why don't we just cut out the middleman and declare ourselves independent.
When I read this column, a panoply of trite cliches and stereotypes that were stale when England still had a good soccer team, I went slackjawed for about a minute. Can you imagine a similar column about a P.M.'s trip to Ireland or Israel. [link via LA Observed]
The world's worst lefty blogger goes after the world's worst columnist. Hilarity ensues...I guess we should all be relieved that Sirota doesn't use the word "Establishment" at all, and only uses the word "elite" four times, but simply using a dictionary would have helped. First of all, Thomas Friedman is neither a "scion" nor an "heir" to a multi-billion dollar fortune. His wife is. It's her family that has the dough, not his; since he has no legal expectancy of receiving a dollar of that fortune through any future probate proceeding, he's not an heir, and since he is not a blood relative of his wife's family, he's not a scion.

Secondly, the attack on Friedman suggests that because support for Free Trade, job outsourcing, etc., supposedly benefits only the wealthy, and since he is " heir to a multi-billion-dollar business empire," that means his opinion is inherently tainted on the subject. I happen to agree that Mr. Friedman is a bit of a loon, but that's because he's usually wrong about what he writes, not the fact that he married into a family that made its fortune in real estate. If we were to impose the strictest trade barriers imaginable, and if we were to criminalize the practice of outsourcing jobs to the Third World, Friedman's in-laws would still be just as wealthy. Their investment is in land, not WalMart.
Atrios is my friend: A list of the Democratic Senators who so courageously went to the matt defending the interests of Visa and AmEx last year: Baucus(MT), Bayh(IN), Biden(DE), Bingaman(NM), Byrd(WV), Carper(DE), Conrad(ND), Inouye(HI), Johnson(SD), Kohl(WI), Landrieu(LA), Lincoln(AR), Nelson (FL), Nelson(NE), Pryor(AR), Reid(NV), Salazar(CO), and Stabenow(MI).

Again, bold means they're up for reelection in November, and blue means they're from a state carried by Democrats in each of the last four elections. I've also italicized the names of those Heirs to FDR and JFK who last week voted to criminalize the assistance of minors crossing a state border to obtain a legal abortion.

Funny how the same names appear on both lists, and Lieberman doesn't appear on either.

UPDATE: But he does appear on this list, of Democratic Senators who voted to invoke cloture on the nomination of Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court: Akaka (HI), Baucus (MT), Bingaman (NM), Byrd (WV), Cantwell (WA), Carper (DE), Conrad (ND), Dorgan (ND), Inouye (HI), Johnson (SD), Kohl (WI), Landrieu (LA), Lieberman (CT), Lincoln (AR), Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Pryor (AR), Rockefeller (WV), and Salazar (CO). Again, the italicized names are those Senators who voted the wrong way on the other two issues (abortion and bankruptcy). There are eleven Democrats who fit that category, including two Blue State Senators up for reelection this November, and none of them are named Joseph.

UPDATE [II]: Mark Schmitt, writing an early post-mortem for the junior Senator from the Nutmeg State, issues this howler:
...Lamont supporters actually aren’t ideologues. They aren’t looking for the party to be more liberal on traditional dimensions. They’re looking for it to be more of a party. They want to put issues on the table that don’t have an interest group behind them - like Lieberman’s support for the bankruptcy bill -- because they are part of a broader vision. And I think that’s what blows the mind of the traditional Dems. They can handle a challenge from the left, on predictable, narrow-constituency terms. But where do these other issues come from? These are “elitist insurgents,” as Broder puts it - since when do they care about bankruptcy? What if all of a sudden you couldn’t count on Democratic women just because you said that right things about choice - what if they started to vote on the whole range of issues that affect women’s economic and personal opportunities?

But caring about bankruptcy, even if you’re not teetering on the brink of it or a bankruptcy lawyer yourself, is part of a vision of a just society.
The problem with that example is Lieberman voted against the bankruptcy bill last year, as my list above shows. He may have voted in favor of cloture beforehand, but since the bill had the support of seventeen other Democratic Senators, and had been debated, in one form or another, for some six years, voting in favor of finally ending debate on the matter was certainly defensible (unlike the Alito vote, which dealt with a judicial nomination only two months old, and which had the support of only four Democrats). With less than 30 Democrats in support of the bill, the cloture vote simply wasn't very important; the horses had already left the barn, if you will. Saying Lieberman "supported" the bankruptcy bill is not unlike the frequent refrain of the chickenhawks claiming that those who opposed the Iraq War were "supporting" Saddam.

July 30, 2006

.12: Apparently, it doesn't take a lot of booze to make Mel Gibson a raging, out-of-control neo-Nazi.
In making a defensible argument that Joe Lieberman should not be blamed for voting for cloture before he voted against the nomination of Samuel Alito, Dan Gerstein makes this indefensible point:
Up until this session of Congress, the filibuster was not even considered a fringe option for blocking Supreme Court nominees. With one notable exception, the case of Abe Fortas in 1968, the tactic had never been invoked to block a Supreme Court nomination. According to the official account by the Senate historian, Fortas was not torpedoed because of his ideology, but because of serious ethical issues.


That all changed last year with the Roberts and Alito nominations. Some in the Democratic family decided that Bush's high court appointments had to be blocked by any means necessary, and the threat of a filibuster based purely on ideology was openly discussed. This of course prompted the whole showdown over the so-called "nuclear option, with Republicans threatening to change the Senate rules to permanently bar the use of filibuster for Supreme Court nominations if Democrats used the tactic against John Roberts or Alito.

Lieberman and other moderate Democrats then worked with the reasonable elements of the Senate Republican caucus -- the so-called gang of 14 -- to craft an agreement that would protect the right of the minority to filibuster court nominees in the future in extreme circumstances. That was his great sin -- finding a compromise with Republicans that helped Democrats, by preserving the precedent that had been followed for the entire history of the filibuster.

If Lieberman had supported the filibuster, it would not have changed the outcome at all. It would have, though, threatened the agreement he had made, which at the moment was the only thing standing in the way of the nuclear option being triggered and the filibuster being eliminated completely as a check and balance in Supreme Court nominations.

If Lieberman and the other members of the Gang of 14 had broken their word and backed the filibuster, it may have derailed the Alito nomination temporarily. But it would have had disastrous consequences, setting in motion a chain of events that ultimately would have resulted not only in the end of the filibuster as we know it, but in Alito getting on the bench in the end once the Senate rules were changed. Talk about a pyrrhic victory.
Besides totally mischaracterizing the Strom Thurmond-led movement to derail the Fortas nomination, which focused specifically on his high court rulings in favor of civil rights and limitations on the power of the state in criminal investigations, and ignoring the use of the filibuster against Clinton's nominees, Gerstein completely misses the point about why Lieberman's vote for cloture has infuriated so many Democrats. For Democrats, the "triggering of the Nuclear Option" wasn't a worse case scenario, to be avoided at any and all costs. It was, rather, the desired outcome, ending once and for all the noxious barrier to progressive legislation that the threat of a filibuster had blocked for so many years. The Gang of 14's pact ended up giving the Republicans everything they desired without having to make a politically unpopular vote, while maintaining the filibuster for a time when they are no longer hold the majority.

And even if Alito had ultimately been confirmed, Democrats would have had the satisfaction of having fought the President, tooth and nail, on the slogan it has used to rally its supporters in every Congressional election in the past 25 years when the GOP has controlled the Presidency: do we want the Republicans to be able to rubber-stamp the judicial picks that President Reagan or Bush makes. It would have been a sign that the Democrats were going to start to fight back, and not take it anymore.

Gerstein is correct that Lieberman's vote for cloture should not be viewed as one that assured the ascension of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, not when nearly half of his fellow Democrats followed suit, and not when the lefty blogosphere cared more about the apostacy of a Washington Post ombudswoman than the Alito nomination in the weeks leading up to the vote. If there had been a more concerted effort to rally "netroots" opposition to oppose the nomination, rather than a last-second, half-hearted circle jerk the weekend before, we might have been spared a cloture vote even coming up.
Scoop: In the just-released Woody Allen movie, Ian McShane based his character, a dissolute, recently-deceased journalist, on a certain "old British hack who you tolerate in this country."