Saturday, September 17, 2005

School supplies for Katrina evacuees

Jessica, of the Rutland DFA-Link group posted this in the comments of the previous thread:

Hi everyone.

Today, our Link-Up collected and filled 24 backpacks with school supplies, to be sent to a middle school in Houston for students displaced by Katrina.

Info on the backpack program if any of you want to participate.

What kinds of projects are you working on these days?

It's puddle's birthday? How did I forget that?
Happy birthday, puddleriver*in*wv and Imn2Paine!

Strange days indeed...

...most peculiar, Mama!

Now, I do have a sense that we need to be careful in how we respond to Bush's obviously staged, don't-we-have-a-great-marketing-department speech on Thursday night. I gather that psychologically, it was important to give those affected by Hurricane Katrina a sense of hope. Certainly, they needed to be reassured that they will not be abandoned, given that at least one of Bush's prominent fellow Republcans had already suggested that rebuilding New Orleans "didn't make sense".

But, does Donna Brazile really need to get this--um, what's the word? Ass-kissy?

I Will Rebuild With You, Mr. President

On Thursday night President Bush spoke to the nation from my city. I am not a Republican. I did not vote for George W. Bush -- in fact, I worked pretty hard against him in 2000 and 2004. But on Thursday night, after watching him speak from the heart, I could not have been prouder of the president and the plan he outlined to empower those who lost everything and to rebuild the Gulf Coast.

New comment system

I'm trying a new commenting system. My hope is that this will work better for people who have had trouble logging into Blogger. This is the same system Atrios uses, and his site is on Blogspot. Let's give it a whirl and see if it works.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Notes from the Underground (Railroad)

Crossposted at My Left Wing, Booman Tribune, Daily Kos, and MyDD

One of the things I had hoped for this blog would be that it would be an opportunity for Dean-inspired activists to stay connected whether or not we still post or lurk on Blog for America. I want us to be able to easily find out what our fellow "Deaniacs" are up to, and how to support them if we feel so inclined. That's why I post things like Lauren in Tokyo's Sending Smiles project, mentioned here. It's why I have a blogroll consisting of links to our diaries or individual blogs, and it's why I post links to new diary posts when I find them, with the hope that we can help each other out with recommendations if we so choose. In that spirit, I'd like to share the most recent post by Quintus Jett of African Americans for Dean, posted over at the Underground Railroad. I think this is a discussion that many in the "liberal blogosphere" are interested in, but they may not know that this particular discussion is going on right now.

Quintus writes:

Like so many people, I am deeply concerned about the evacuees from Hurricane Katrina. What I think most about is how so many have had their political voices effectively cut off by being scattered to adjacent states and all around the country.

Presently, the way I look at it breaks down into three things:

1. Who are the evacuees? How can we get real data of who they are, capturing the variety of people who are out there? How can we get communicate who the evacuees are, in ways that break down any presumptions or stereotypes we may have?

2. What would it look like to have all kinds of evacuees reconnected with each other, wherever they may happen to be now? Surely, we know that this is happening already, due to the efforts of governments, churches, families, and numerous volunteer efforts. Is there some kind of order to these reunions that we can all opt-in to?

3. What would it look like to have evacuees speaking for themselves in a systematic way, despite being spread out all around the country? Could they be reconnected with the local and state politicians already elected to represent them? (I hear these officials are all congregated in Baton Rouge).

Are you motivated to work on any of these issues? Do you know others who are contributing to these issues already?

Sending Smiles update from Lauren in Tokyo

Hello all, great news.

my project "Sending Smiles" can now accept credit card donations (as well as paypal and checks). This is thanks to the help of people at AidMatrix

We had the idea soon after the NOLA and other Hurricane Katrina survivors and evacuees were moved to shelters in Houston and across many states, to organize a drive to provide some activity books, crayons and coloring books for the families and kids that are going through so much stress and worry as they try to deal with the future after Katrina.

go to donations by Credit Card

Many of the larger centers are getting a lot of assistance and media attention so we decided to start this by targeting some smaller shelters or less well known ones first, this will also help make sure that our donation is not a burden for distribution in areas already overwhelmed with donations and gift items.

"Sending Smiles" from will start by partnering with Camp Gruber in Braggs Oklahoma

There are just over 200 children at this time, housed in Camp Gruber, (more may be on the way) and the aproximate cost of sending a small activity oriented care pack to them would be about 10 dollars per child. So for our first shelter and fundraising goal, I need to raise aprox. 2000.00 dollars USA.

please go to the website to read more
you can give by credit card go to donations by Credit Card

by paypal account

or by check, details on the project website.

thanks so much for your help. the goal is to raise enough for the first shelter by 9/30
please consider helping us!

any questions, email me

*Lauren Shannon

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Transcript of Howard Dean on Paula Zahn

FYI, I found myself entirely incapable of writing this up without inserting the occasional snarky commentary, which is in italics throughout this transcript...

Paula Zahn: So, the polls would indicate that the American public overwhelmingly supports the idea of rebuilding New Orleans. The president expected to lay out a specific plan tonight. What kind of a bounce do you think he'll get in the polls?

My gosh--what a mind numbingly stupid question to ask!

Howard Dean: I can't say that, but I can tell you what better be in the plan. Good! You don't have to answer stupid questions--answer the question *you* want to answer. Fellow Democrats, kindly take note, and remember this the next time someone asks you a question about Howard that is entirely based on right wing talking points.

First of all, FEMA needs to become an independent agency again as it was under President Clinton. Second of all, the bankruptcy bill needs to be put off. It takes effect in about a month. There are going to be hundreds of thousands of people from Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana who are going to be in hock for the rest of their lives if that bankruptcy bill isn't put off. And that needs to be done. It needs to be put off either for a year, for everybody in America, or give a special exemption for people from those states. Thirdly, we cannot pass an extension of the estate tax. Sooner or later people in this country are going to wake up and understand that if you have 750 billion dollars around to give to 25,000 American families, you'd do much better rebuilding New Orleans, rebuilding Mississippi, rebuilding Alabama, and then having some left over to start paying down the deficit and start investing in American jobs again.

Paula: Governor, you've said "the ugly truth that skin color, age, and economics played a significant role in who survived and who did not." Are you suggesting that the president doesn't like Black people? Jeez! That's the most simplistic wording I've heard for that lame question all week!

Howard: The Republican National Committee is trying to say that. Most of the controversial things I've supposedly said in the last year or so have been spin-machined by the Republican National Committee who reworks them and sends them out to enterprising reporters, hoping that one of them will pick it up.

Do you think that this president looks at all Americans equally?
In the background, I could hear Demetrius quip, "I don't think this president looks at all Americans!"

I don't think this president is a racist. His policies have had the effect of harming some people more than others. For example, 80% of Americans, White, Black, or Brown, have seen their income drop by $1700 on average under this president. That hurts everybody. Cutting Medicare, cutting Medicaid, trying to privatize Social Security--that disporportionately hurts people in the lower income brackets, White, Black, or Brown, because they rely on those programs.

So if you use your math, you're saying this president only cares about the 20% of Americans that are rich? Terse little "bite" in Paula's voice at the end of that question.

Howard: If you look at his policies, that's true. The president has been good for the 20% of the people--one of which includes me--who are at the top, and not so great for the 80% who aren't at the top.

Paula: What about the folks in New Orleans? We know that 3/4 of that population was African American, and by and large, poor.

Howard: That's right. And I've said before, we still have a race problem in this country. Most people don't want to know about that.

But *isn't* it true, Governor, that the same people you're talking about in New Orleans that are homeless today, were *poor* under Bill Clinton's leadership?

Howard: Yeah, but Bill Clinton didn't try to cut Medicare, Medicaid and privatize Social Security. At least he had the temerity to understand that it *was* a problem and we ought to do something about it.

Appreciate your dropping by tonight. Thank you.

After she finished playing that pre-recorded interview, Paula felt compelled to say, "Well, that's one opinion, and probably a predictable one at that" before going on to interview James Glassman and Joe Klein. Bitch.

Howard Dean on CNN Open thread

I put in a tape in to record Howard Dean on Paula Zahn. Also, as you may already know, Howard Dean appeared on The View today. You can find my write-up of that appearance here.

I've added the DNC blog to the links on the right side of this page--it's turning out to be a good source of information about upcoming Dean appearances. Also on the DNC blog, you can find Howard Dean's op-ed, The Verdict on Judge Roberts, which will be appearing in newspapers around the country tomorrow.

On Booman Tribune, What Do You Want to Hear Bush Say?

Wow--there's a straight line if I ever heard one. Here's Booman's suggestion:

"With American sons in the field far away, with the American future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world's hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote and hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes. To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home.

Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow."

On My Left Wing, it's simple IF you ignore the complexity has posted Right Wing Talking Points - Pre-Speech. If you're one of those hardy souls who can endure a Bush speech first run, unedited, and not filtered through Jon Stewart, you might check to see how closely it compares with the predictions.

Call And Response

Karen (In Michigan) found this Letter To the Editor in her local paper, The Flint Journal:

After viewing the destruction from Hurricane Katrina, I was saddened and prayed for the victims. As I did, all I could do was wonder, "Was this a wake-up call from God?" New Orleans, with its Mardi Gras, voodoo and numerous other areas of wickedness, could only be compared to the biblical towns of Sodom and Gomorrah. And those towns were destroyed for their wickedness.

I truly believe God wants the hearts and minds of the people of this country and is using this and the tragic events of Sept. 11 to get people's attention.

What more will it take before this country wakes up and turns from its wickedness?

Russ Shourd


I have penned a response that can be used by anyone without attribution (change the name, obviously) to this and/or other LTE's along this same line of thinking:
As I read the letter from Russ Shourd posing the question about whether or not Hurricane Katrina was a wake-up call from God, I have to wonder whether or not Russ has actually thought that through. Is Mardis Gras (Exodus 32:1-6) more wicked than coveting (Exodus 20:17) - keeping up with the Joneses? Is voodoo (Deuteronomy 18:9-14) more wicked than equating the United States of America to The People of God (1 Peter 2:7-10)?

If God sent a wake-up call to New Orleans then what kind of wake-up call do you think is in store for the Church in America? I wonder if there is an American flag flying in Russ's church (Matthew 6:24) - rest assured that God has a wake-up call for that. I wonder how many of his church members support politicians whose policies ignore the hungry and thirsty, deprive the naked, and alienate the foreigner (Matthew 25:31-46) - God has a wake-up call for that. I wonder how many church members will find themselves before the the judgment seat of Christ saying, "Lord, Lord, did we not vote Republican in your name, and in your name drive out homosexuals and prevent many abortions?" just to hear Jesus say, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" (Matthew 7:21-23)

Wake up. There's a call coming in for you...
Feel free to use this if it's helpful to you.

The Campaign to Save Bush's Butt

Dan Froomkin has the details in today's column.

All you really need to know about the White House's post-Katrina strategy -- and Bush's carefully choreographed address on national television tonight -- is this little tidbit from the ninth paragraph of Elisabeth Bumiller and Richard W. Stevenson 's story in the New York Times this morning:

"Republicans said Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff and Mr. Bush's chief political adviser, was in charge of the reconstruction effort."

Rove's leadership role suggests quite strikingly that any and all White House decisions and pronouncements regarding the recovery from the storm are being made with their political consequences as the primary consideration. More specifically: With an eye toward increasing the likelihood of Republican political victories in the future, pursuing long-cherished conservative goals, and bolstering Bush's image.

My family's business is construction: my dad, my brother, my brother-in-law, my uncle, my late grandfather, even one of my sisters (who was more on the finance side) work in construction. I've brought my kids to tour my dad's jobs when they were smaller. Even on vacation, we were pointing out all my dad's company's projects as we drove around Hanover, NH.

And yet I'm expected to believe that Karl Rove is qualified to rebuild the Gulf Coast?! Un-be-liev-able.

Has BushCo learned nothing from the Michael Brown-FEMA fiasco? I guess not. Once again, it's party before people.

Froomkin isn't sure putting Rove in charge will work this time:

Rove has an astonishing track record of success. But at the same time, Bush finds himself today a deeply unpopular president according to the opinion polls, particularly damaged by his lackluster response to the protracted, televised suffering in New Orleans.

And Rove himself has not been at his best of late. Unlike many of Bush's advisers, who have plausible deniability for his initial under-reaction because they weren't with him on vacation, Rove was tagging along with the president, blithely touring the West Coast even as the Gulf Coast drowned. Rove is haunted by the possibility of indictment by a federal grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA agent.

AMERICABlog makes this assessment: "Knowing Bush and Rove were together during the initial stages of the hurricane and its aftermath sure helps explain why the GOP doesn't want an independent commission."

(Hat tip to AMERICABlog.)

Howard Dean on The View

This morning I turned on "The View" because Howard Dean was going to be on the program. Once again, like Hannity and Colmes, this is a show I would never watch otherwise. Of course, I knew that most likely he would not be on until the very end, but *just in case* the sun set in the east today instead of in the west as usual, I had the show on from the beginning.

Before one of the breaks, they announced that Howard will be coming up later in the show. You'll *never* guess what clip they showed (but without the sound) when they said his name.

At the beginning of the program, the women (bios here) were discussing Bush's statement accepting responsibility, and this one *very* young looking woman kept standing up for Bush. She reminded me of what I read about Britney Spears saying that Bush is our president and we should stand by him, or some such tripe. Anyway, I looked her up, and found out that her name is Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Here's the scoop on her:

In November 2003, Elisabeth Hasselbeck was selected out of hundreds of contenders to permanently fill the fifth co-host chair on ABC's The View. Defining her own voice among co-hosts Barbara Walters, Meredith Vieira, Star Jones Reynolds and Joy Behar was a challenge she didn't take lightly. Quick to express her conservative views, Mrs. Hasselbeck has proven herself not only as a strong young woman, but someone who won't let her voice be compromised, making her the perfect addition to the show.

She is formally known to television audiences as a participant on the wildly popular second edition of Survivor: The Australian Outback. While competing in Australia, Mrs. Hasselbeck used her competitive drive and survival skills to outwit her way to the final four.

In August 2004, Mrs. Hasselbeck spoke at the Republican National Convention, where she delivered a heartfelt speech that emphasized her continued effort in support of Breast Cancer prevention and research. In recent years she has worked with the the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Making Memories Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, The World Scholar-Athlete Games and the Knowledge Now Organization.

Very different sort of venue for Howard. I do think it's a good move--being heard by different kinds of audiences. This sort of show is kind of painful for me to watch, but I realize that not everyone gets their current events from The Daily Show.

At the beginning of the segment, Barbara Walters remarked that Howard Dean has criticized the Bush administration's negligence in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and while some people say it's good that the Democrats are speaking up, others say that they are taking advantage of a tragedy.

Howard: "Well, it is a tragedy. A lot of the reason it's a tragedy is that the federal government didn't know what it was doing, and that's a huge problem. I think the truth is, folks are still hurting, and instead of arguing about why the federal government didn't get their act together, we need to fix it. That's what needs to happen.

The government in this country is in big trouble, but the public is fantastic. There are enormous numbers of Americans in both parties working their rear ends off to make sure these people get properly clothed and properly fed and get some housing, and that's what we need to focus on right now."

Barbara asked if the Democrats could have done it better, and Howard responded that James Lee Witt, FEMA director under Clinton, was the best. He mentions how FEMA came through when he was governor of Vermont, during some of the 7 or 8 states of emergency Vermont experienced during his tenure.

Meredith interjected that none of those disasters were anything like this, and Howard responded "Yes, but if you're on the ball, you're on the ball, and you're *there*. People are always upset when they're losing their homes and their jobs and their lives, obviously--the question is, what are you doing about it? You do not wait four days."

Joy asked what about the responsibility of the local government, and Howard answered, "There's certainly enough blame to go around. And I hate to say this, but that really was a Rove inspired thing to go attack the local people. This business about the school buses--the school buses were controlled by the school board, not the mayor. You can't blame the mayor."

Elizabeth, the show's pet Republican, insisted that it was in the evacuation plan that the school buses were to be used. That was their "free ride out of there" and the local officials "didn't make a move". Howard and Elizabeth went back and forth about this for a bit, and then Howard said:

"You can argue about who's at fault. The problem is that Americans were really undone by such a failure of their government to act and get those people safe." Howard then asked why does Bill Frist want to cut the estate tax when we could use that 750 billion dollars to fix the Gulf Coast and fix the schools in this country, so we can compete again. We've made the wrong choices for the past 5 years, and now we're paying the price for it."

Meredith then changed the topic, and asked Howard Dean how he decided to go for the job of DNC chair, remarking that he hadn't wanted the job initially. It's a thankless job, because when the party wins you don't get the credit, but when the party loses you get blamed.

Howard: Because somebody's got to fix the party. We thought we were going to win by becoming Republicans--you can't do that. The key is, if you want to win, it's not so much what you believe, because there's going to be varation on that. It's whether you're willing to fight for what you believe. The Democrats had given up. We simply had not been willing to stand up and fight.

Barbara asked if the Democrats are willing to fight now and Howard responded, "I think we are."

Joy came back, "But you gave over the whole government!" She went on that now the whole government--the executive branch, the judiciary, and the legislative branch are all way to the right.

Howard stated that the problem is that we don't make our case--that, for example, he had opposed the war in Iraq, but not because he is against war in general, having supported the first Gulf War and the war in Afganistan. He opposed *this* war in Iraq because he didn't think Bush was telling the truth. He said that if he could figure out from Vermont that the president wasn't telling the truth, "surely the guys in Washington ought to be able to figure that out for themselves."

Joy said, "You don't believe he got the wrong information--you think he was *lying* about Weapons of Mass Destruction."

Howard: I think it was a combination of problems. He was getting the wrong information, but there were a lot of people in his administration who were asking for the wrong information on purpose. Because George Bush decided, according to his treasury secretary, in his first term, that he was going to go to war about three weeks after he got into office. That is in Paul O'Neill's book.

Mrs. Hasselbeck, not one to let her voice be compromised, piped in that people in both parties were convinced that the war in Iraq was the right thing to do. She then told Howard that while she disagrees with most of what he says, she admires his "passion" and "fire". But then, pulling out some note cards, she said that recently Howard Dean has receiving criticism and raising some eyebrows for comments he has made about Republicans. "You've been slamming them" she said, calling them "brain dead", saying they've "never made an honest living in their lives" and calling them a "white Christian party". She noted that even some in his own party have taken offense at these comments, and is he aware that he is turning off his own party.

Editorial comment here...RECENT? That's what she's got for RECENT? Ay-ay-ay!

Howard Dean: Well, first of all, the way this business works, some of what you said was taken out of context by the RNC and spread around. They love to play the victim. The truth is, there's nothing wrong with that--they are a white Christian party. I happen to be a white Christian--so what. The point is, they don't welcome and embrace diversity."

Elizabeth started to disagree with that, but Joy stepped in and asked about the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina. Was that racist neglect or class neglect or what?

Howard stated (again) that he does not believe that Bush is a racist, but that his policies disproportionately harm certain groups. Meredith that a lot of these people were poor before Bush was president, and that this is a problem every single one of us has to deal with and not specific to anything any president has done. Howard then described how 80% of Americans saw their incomes go down under Bush, and Bush's harmful policies like trying to get rid of Social Security and turn it over to the same people who brought us Enron. The president's policies hurt people--it's what you *do* not what you *say*.

The show's outspoken Republican, unable to take this any more, struck back: "What about No Child Left Behind? There's money being spent--I mean 21 billion dollars being spent on underprivileged education areas!"

That's what you've got? No Child Left Behind? I would have liked to see Howard address that, but Joy jumped in with, "But then why has poverty risen 17% under this president?" This format seems to involve a lot of interrupting, and a lot of comments not ever having a chance to be addressed.

Barbara mentioned that Bush was on television today and one of the questions was "how are you going to pay for all of this and would you consider raising taxes?" and of course Bush answered "no". Howard said that he's be happy just to get Bush to stop *cutting* taxes.

Asked what Democrats should put forth as a plan, Howard said we need to balance the budget, meaning we stop borrowing money for our children to pay for all these tax cuts and wars, and we need to provide health insurance to all our people so that we will no longer be the last industrialized country that has not done so.

The final question was about Dr. Judy Steinberg Dean, and her decision not to be very involved in campaigning during the 2004 primaries, and how important Howard thinks the spouse is. Barbara interjected that Laura Bush is a tremendous help to her husband, and Howard agreed "Oh, I think she is!" Howard Dean showed what I consider to be exemplary self control in stopping there, and not adding anything about Bush being a special case and needing more help than most grown men.

Howard said that everyone has to make such decisions form themselves. Judy's a great doctor, and he knew she'd be much happier if she continued being a doctor. Barbara noted that Judy had been criticized for that, and Howard responded that no matter what you do in politics, you're going to get criticized. One of the panelists said, "It's like being a parent!"

So, Howard said they decided to do whatever made Judy happy, because what made her happy made him happy. Awwww!

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Let's jump in with both feet.

Bush is rolling out yet another huge funding bill for Katrina aid, which the Washington Post says will cost more next year than the entire cost of the Iraq war thus far:

Bush and Republican congressional leaders, by contrast, are calculating that the U.S. economy can safely absorb a sharp spike in spending and budget deficits, and that the only way to regain public confidence after the stumbling early response to the disaster is to spend whatever it takes to rebuild the region and help Katrina's victims get back on their feet.

Josh Marshall asks, "Regain public confidence in who? Is the nation undergoing a crisis of confidence in itself?" As Josh points out, Mike Allen wrote in Time Magazine that "Administration aides were describing a three-part comeback plan. The first: Spend freely, and worry about the tab and the consequences later. "Nothing can salve the wounds like money," said an official who helped develop the strategy."

And the strategy, Josh says, is not being driven by a natural disaster but a political crisis--the president's political crisis. "The White House is trying to undo self-inflicted political damage on the national dime."

Josh also reported yesterday that there were votes on the House International Relations Committee on three pieces of legislation which would have required the White House to turn over documents related to the so-called 'Downing Street Memo'. They each went down on party-line votes. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) did a post on what happened over at TPMCafe.

Boy, am I glad DFA had that petition.

Chris Bowers continues to blog from the Roberts confirmation hearings. While the confirmation itself will succeed, which Democrat will state without equivocation, "Judge Roberts, I cannot vote for you based on your refusal to provide answers about your judicial philosophy and your lack of established record as a judicial figure." Chuck Schumer, perhaps? Joe Biden, ever aware that he wants to be president? I doubt it will be Hillary...

John Roberts is a DOUCHEBAG. Pass it on.

Over at Kos, nyc175 has a diary up about an e-mail from Howard asking for contributions to Freddy Ferrer's mayoral campaign.

One of the songs in rotation on my iPod is, I'm embarrassed to admit, a showtune. It's "Dirty Rotten Number" from "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" starring John Lithgow based on the movie starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin. What I found so appealing is that it sums up what a great big con the Bush Administration has been playing, which is slowly dawning on the American people:

You may be master of
Your chosen occupation
With several strings of
Polo ponies in your stable-
You must remember all the same
That at the crux of every game
Is knowing when it's time
To leave the table.

And it's important to be artful in your exit-
No turning back, you must accept
the con is done,
But now and then, you might recall
The moments when you had it all-
You had the charm,
You had the talent
And, my God, you had some fun.

It was a ball, it was a blast
And it's a shame it couldn't last,
But every chapter has to end,
You must agree.
It was a joy, it was sublime,
A splendid way to earn a dime
For a dirty rotten guy like me.

Can you just see Bush and Rove high-fiving each other in this verse:

You've got the verve
You've got the guts-
You've got the nerve-
You've got the nuts!

Yup, dirty rotten scoundrels.

Presponding to Bush's upcoming performance

Looking forward to seeing Howard Dean on The View--Corinne pointed out that she got the heads-up about that on the DNC blog. I just bookmarked that site and will have to remember to check in there more often. Note to myself--right here where I'll see it--I want to add that to the links here too.

You are probably aware that Bush is going to speak on television tonight. More details in this article on CNN:

Rather than speak before a live audience, Bush is planning to stand alone and broadcast his message directly into the camera from the evacuated city's historic Jackson Square, according to a White House official speaking on condition of anonymity since the site had not been announced.

The square and its most famed landmark, the St. Louis Cathedral, were on high enough ground to avoid flooding but did not escape damage from Katrina's 145-mph winds. Two massive oak trees outside the 278-year-old cathedral came out by the roots, ripping out a 30-foot section of ornamental iron fence and snapping off the thumb and forefinger of the outstretched hand on a marble statue of Jesus.

Remember the famous Bush administration stagecraft we were talking about the other day? Today's CNN article touches on that...

The format of the speech -- Bush speaking alone to a national audience from a famous urban site -- is reminiscent of his address from the front of the Statue of Liberty three years ago on the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Quick reminder about that one...

The White House efforts have been ambitious -- and costly. For the prime-time television address that Mr. Bush delivered to the nation on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the White House rented three barges of giant Musco lights, the kind used to illuminate sports stadiums and rock concerts, sent them across New York Harbor, tethered them in the water around the base of the Statue of Liberty and then blasted them upward to illuminate all 305 feet of America's symbol of freedom. It was the ultimate patriotic backdrop for Mr. Bush, who spoke from Ellis Island.

I've been told that in the hour before Bush's performance, Howard Dean will be giving the Democratic "presponse" on Paula Zahn Now. I think all of us should be presponding today, as well as responding this evening and in the days to come. There are a lot of good comments and suggestions here--please check them out. And let's talk about what else we need to be doing.

Today: Howard on ABC's The View

Oh my. I just chuckle thinking about this; I hope Joy Behar gives him a hard time, LOL.

Check your local listings.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Norquist poster to become a billboard in DC

Cool to see a blog-born, grassroots type idea being picked up like this. Check out this diary by highacidity at Daily Kos:

On Monday the 12th, I was contacted by Working Assets. They wanted to know if they could get permission to use my Norquist poster art on a billboard in the DC area.

They have put this project on the front page of their website, and if any of you want to help make this happen, you can go there to contribute. There is an alternate layout of this design to fit a landscape aspect ratio, but the impact and the message is the same.

After we take care of the people who survived these dual catastrophes, this point needs to be hammered home with the American public... the second catastrophe, which was avoidable, is is the end result of what this administration is doing to our government... we can't let them get away with this.

Additional links of interest:

What a Competent Government Would Have Done By TygrBright at Democratic Underground

There have been a number of good pieces on Democratic Underground lately. Here's one that just went up today:

Game Over by the Plaid Adder

Blaming is what you do when you have to explain why you showed up late to work. It's what happens when your mother finds the broken lamp and wants to know who was playing ball in the house. You blame people for not using their turn signals properly, or for causing the toilet to back up, or for dumping you for someone else. You blame people for something that you suspect you might have responsibility for; or for something that is a mildly annoying minor problem. You can't even say 'blame game' without sounding like a child. "Blame game, blame game, let's play the blame game! La la la la la la!"

BUSH to interrupt Thursday night TV again!(Bastard!) by Sam Loomis at Daily Kos

OH-15 - Mark Losey And The DFA Vote by Losey Campaign Staff (on MyDD)

As you have already heard, DFA is holding an online vote to determine which congressional candidate will receive their first DFA-List endorsement of 2006.

We ask that you consider voting for Mark Losey as he runs to unseat high ranking Republican Deborah Pryce
Given her ties with Tom DeLay, Deb Pryce is the best congressperson Texas ever had. Ohioans need representation that restores trust, accountability and responsibility to the Congress.

Please help us in this fight.

Democracy for NYC Volunteers Need YOU

BFA blogger ChrisNYC's sister has rented a big truck and is going to the gulf this weekend, so Chris posted this request over at Blog for America this afternoon:

Democracy For NYC Volunteers Are Going to The Eye of The Storm
Bringing Urgently Needed Supplies, Donations, and Volunteers to Ocean Springs, MS

Please help.

We are working directly with the Mayor and the Emergency Operations Center Command Post Director for this town, which was hit by the eye of hurricane Katrina and has been underserved by the large relief organizations. Departure for the Gulf Coast scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

Donated Supplies can be dropped off:
Wed.–Fri., Sept. 14–16., 3p.m.–1a.m.
[Sat., 9/17, noon–3 p.m., must call to confirm]:
The Kettle of Fish, 59 Christopher Street
—a great and giving bar, just east of 7th Ave., one block south of 10th St.—

To donate $$ for us to buy the supplies or pay for our gas & vehicles, to get help dropping off big batch of goods, for questions, or to volunteer! Please call 917-628-6016 or 212-924-6942

(sorry, no clothing)

Highest Priority

  • work gloves, all sizes
  • batteries, esp. sizes D & C
  • paper items (TP, towels, plates)
  • plastic eating utensils
  • bicycles!!!
  • Infamil, Pedialyte, soy & other boxed milks (no refrigeration)
  • tarps, all kinds—tons of them

Very high priority
  • bug spray; mosquito netting
  • cleaning supplies (e.g. bleach!!!, cleansers, handy wipes, sponges, scrub brushes, rubber gloves, rags, brooms! Grease Lightning, PineSol)
  • air mattresses, for kids & adults
  • hand sanitizer (small bottles)
  • diapers
  • adult hygiene items: tampons, pads, Depends, etc.
  • small propane burners, w/ many fuel cylinders; grills & charcoal
  • medical items (incl. over-the-counter drugs & sample prescription meds provided legally)
  • air mattresses, sheets, pillows

For cleaning up destroyed homes, building temporary shelters, repairs:
  • chain saws, generators, winches
  • picks & shovels
  • rope—extraordinary amount!
  • extension cords nails, screws, hammers, drills (w/ battery packs if possible)
  • work gear
Misc. but important
  • water, water, water!
  • gas cans, lots! (empty)
  • backpacks (adult & child)
  • school supplies
  • collapsible pet-carrying cases
  • cigarettes—have sympathy

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Howard Dean On Hannity and Colmes

Okay, we had our television set turned to Fox News, the *cough* fair and balanced station, for almost an hour, just because of the promise that Howard Dean would be on Hannity and Colmes. Our television is *never* tuned in to Fox--when we program in the cable channels we even leave that one out. Of course, we kept getting the "coming up" and "after the break" promises, but Howard Dean wasn't on until almost the very end of the show. I think our television may now need to be ritually purified in some way.

One of the times when they said "Coming up", there was a banner that said "Colmes vs. Dean"? Versus? Heh. For some reason my mind goes back to the old Life Cereal commercials with "Mikey" and tries to get this to fit...

"You debate him"
"I'm not gonna debate him--you debate him!"
"Let's get Alan!"
"He won't debate him--he's wimpier than everyone!"
"He's debating him! Hey, Alan!"

Here's the interview. I missed Alan's first question, so the transcript begins with Howard's first response.

Howard: Well, the situation obviously has been awful for the people of Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama. You know, one thing Bill Clinton did really well was to have a strong Federal Emergency Management Agency. And the Bush administration just went back to turning it into a dumping ground for people who evidently didn't have anything else to do. And it's really too bad, because now people have paid for that with their lives.

Alan: The president did say "I take personal responsibility".

Howard: Well, I think that's one thing. But there's a lot of people dead and a lot of people without their homes. Those people needed help, on time. They didn't need help and somebody to take responsibility two weeks after the fact.

Alan: Is it the governor's responsibility--as you divide the responsibility--

Howard: Here's how it works. I had seven or nine of these--I can't remember--when I was governor. Of course nothing to this extent. The way it works is the governor takes over the National Guard responsibilities first and then asks for help from FEMA--especially when it's something of this sort. There was a big squabble over who was going to have control. The thing that's so disturbing is that the Congressional Research Service, which is totally nonpartisan, came out today and said that Governor Blanco did everything she could. Which means, obviously, that they thought the real screw-ups were at the federal level. And they were. I mean, FEMA used to be incompetent when George Bush's father was in there. Clinton really cleaned them up and put James Lee Witt in charge--who was by far the best FEMA director of any administration and now the president's messed it up again. It's unfair to American citizens, because people need their help when they need their help.

Alan: We had Bill Frist on our show last night and we played for him what you had said about him prioritizing getting rid of the death tax (sic)--750 billion dollars--and you said it's a moral choice how do we spend that money, if we have that amount of money to spend. And he said it's really not a choice. That we're putting all of this money into reconstruction and so he kind of pooh-poohed the idea that there *is* a moral choice to be made.

Howard: Well, there are three things you can do. You can run the biggest deficits in the history of the country which we're doing right now, you can rebuild New Orleans, you can get rid of the estate tax. Now, the Republicans, including Senator Frist, chose to get rid of the estate tax, and evidently they say they're going to rebuild New Orleans. Which means we're going to have twice as high a deficit. When is this going to stop? These people are completely irreponsible financially. We need to balance the budget *some day* in this country. And to spend 750 billion dollars giving a tax break to 20,000 American families, as opposed to the rest of the 280 million of them, I think is morally *wrong*. We *did* have moral choices to make--we've made the wrong choices again and again and again, and we're paying for this very dearly. Moral choices *not* just in terms of favoring getting rid of the estate tax over dealing with the deficit, but moral choices in terms of downgrading FEMA, not putting the money into levee reconstruction--this is the wrong moral choice.

Alan: You've said that President Bush doesn't care about all of the American people, and you've said something similar about Judge Roberts--that he may love the law but doesn't necessarily love the American people. Do you ever have a concern about rhetoric that you may put out like that, that may be more divisive than uniting?

Howard: I think it's true. I think it's time somebody told the truth. The president said he was a uniter, and turned out to be the most divisive president probably in our history, except perhaps before the Civil War. This is a divisive president, and he got there by not telling the truth. The truth is that there are a lot of people who it turns out, through no fault of their own, really got hammered in this, and they didn't get any help from the federal government. There are a lot of women, for example, who couldn't participate in sports. My wife didn't have equal access to sports; my daughter did. Judge Roberts wants to undo that according to his writings. I think that those things that I say are true, and therefore they need to be said. You can't fix something if you're not willing to point your finger at it.

Alan: Barack Obama the other day talked about active racism versus a kind of passive, more innocent kind of negligence. Are they both equally racism and equally reprehensible?

Howard: I think, Alan, you have a mixture of both. I do *not* think President Bush is a racist. I know him personally, and I've never heard him say anything like that. And I don't think he's a homophobe either. But the effect of what he does, does hurt poor people disproporionately, and poor people are members of minority communities. The effect of what he does, does harm gay people disproportionately. So, the argument I would make with both the president and John Roberts is, they may not be overtly racist, but their actions contribute to harm for vulnerable people. And that includes women, it includes members of minority groups including Hispanics and African Americans. It includes anybody that doesn't look like them, and I think that's a problem.

Alan: Today, though, he did talk about the Civil Rights Act and of course how he believes in the 1965 act, and he talked about the right to privacy, and he did amend some of the things he had written back in 1981, and seemed to say the kind of things you would think Democrats would want to hear, stare decisis, the idea of established law as applied to Roe vs. Wade. Is that enough to say, "Look, maybe we should really look at this person--that he *might* be the appropriate judge?"

Howard: Alan, I didn't hear any *answers* today. I heard a lot of legal mumbo jumbo and a lot of dancing around... He is an *accomplished* attorney, there's no question about that. The question is, does he have the interests of the American people in his heart. Let me tell you what I mean by that. This is a guy who is very bright, and nobody can argue with that. This is a guy who's accomplished. But if you don't have compassion, then how can you really be a leader of the American people.

Alan: Do you believe that he's a racist?

Howard: No. I don't think there's any evidence of him being an overt racist but I think that his decisions have had the effect of harming, disproportionately, women, African Americans, and Hispanics.
While I was still working on this transcript, listener wrote in the comments:

(I think your television WAS ritually purified by having the abominable hour end with Howard.)

True that. Howard's truth-telling can have an amazing detoxifying effect.
UPDATE: Thank you, jc, for providing the link to the Congressional Research Service Report (PDF)

Bush: Lights! Camera! Empathy!

Crossposted at Daily Kos, My Left Wing, Booman Tribune, and MyDD.

Keepers of Bush image lift stagecraft to new heights

This article was written by Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times in May of 2003. The version here, includes photographic examples, added by media educator Frank Baker. You may have seen this article when it first came out, but I think it would be timely to revisit it now, and spend some time discussing it this week as Bush prepares to make a speech *from* New Orleans on Thursday evening.

Some excerpts about Bush's celebrated stagecraft:

On Tuesday, at a speech promoting his economic plan in Indianapolis, White House aides went so far as to ask people in the crowd behind Mr. Bush to take off their ties, WISH-TV in Indianapolis reported, so they would look more like the ordinary folk the president said would benefit from his tax cut.

The images of two of the more famous "sets" used by Bush for his speeches can be found here. These sets can clearly run into money, but it's clear that this is *one* area where Bush is not concerned about "cutting spending".

The White House efforts have been ambitious — and costly. For the prime-time television address that Mr. Bush delivered to the nation on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the White House rented three barges of giant Musco lights, the kind used to illuminate sports stadiums and rock concerts, sent them across New York Harbor, tethered them in the water around the base of the Statue of Liberty and then blasted them upward to illuminate all 305 feet of America's symbol of freedom. It was the ultimate patriotic backdrop for Mr. Bush, who spoke from Ellis Island.

For a speech that Mr. Bush delivered last summer at Mount Rushmore, the White House positioned the best platform for television crews off to one side, not head on as other White Houses have done, so that the cameras caught Mr. Bush in profile, his face perfectly aligned with the four presidents carved in stone.

Bush's people are clearly masters of the visual, but the stark contrast between appearance and reality can be painfully ironic.

But even this White House makes mistakes. One of the more notable ones occurred in January, when Mr. Bush delivered a speech about his economic plan at a St. Louis trucking company. Volunteers for the White House covered "Made in China" stamps with white stickers on boxes arrayed on either side of the president. Behind Mr. Bush was a printed backdrop of faux boxes that read "Made in U.S.A.," the message the administration wanted to convey to the television audience.

Anyway, I was reminded of this article, because I smell another big staging in the works. From CNN:

Earlier in the day, the White House said the president will address the nation Thursday night about the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

The 9 p.m. ET address is the latest administration reaction to Katrina, which roared ashore on August 29.

"The president will talk to the American people about the recovery and the way forward on the longer-term rebuilding," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters, according to Reuters.

Bush is expected to make his address from storm-wracked Louisiana, where the president toured damaged New Orleans neighborhoods on Monday.

This *almost* writes itself. Somehow there's going to have to be footage of Bush hugging a person of color--am I right? Or better yet, being hugged--and thanked--*by* a person of color. Prepare to be manipulated. Prepare for at least a very solid *attempt* to create a visual moment of "redemption" for Dubya. Let me know how it turns out--I can never bear to watch these things. Oh, and *dang*, I just realized--Thursday night will mean that we won't get the Daily Show coverage until at least Monday.

On right now

Crossposted at My Left Wing

I had to do a screen capture of this headline, on I *almost* couldn't believe my eyes, and I thought that if I navigated away from the page without saving the headline, it would disappear and I'd be left with no evidence that I'd ever seen such a thing. It reads, BREAKING NEWS President Bush says he takes responsibility for the federal government's failures in responding to Hurricane Katrina. Details soon.

What we have here is strategery in action, folks.
UPDATE: Here come the weasel words... (emphasis mine)

"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government and to the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said during a joint news conference with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

Bush said he wants to know what went right and what went wrong so that he can determine whether the United States was prepared for another storm, or an attack.

"I'm not going to defend the process going in, but I am going to defend the people who are on the front line of saving lives," Bush said.

Earlier in the day, the White House announced the president will address the nation Thursday night about recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: On Kos, by georgia10
Bush: "I Take Responsibility" for Poor Response (links to a video about the federal response)
Also on CNN, we have this headline:
Rice: Disaster shows 'ugly way' race, poverty collide

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the people who were stranded in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina are evidence that race and poverty can still come together "in a very ugly way" in parts of the "Old South."

Okay, so it's just the *Old* South that has a problem. Whew--we *don't* need to confront any painful issues about race after all, (contrary to what Howard Dean has claimed.) No, it's only those backwards folks in the "Old South" who have a problem. Well, that's a relief--that "I'm okay, it's all *your* fault!" approach always goes down a lot easier.

Brownie is out

Good morning everyone. As you can tell from my brilliant observation a few days ago (snark), Brownie has become the first to fall on his sword for the lack of government response to Katrina. I'm glad I sent my Magic 8 Ball in for a lube and oil change before the hurricane hit.

Before we hunker down for Day 2 of the John Roberts confirmation hearings, let me point out that Judge Roberts has already lied to the committee when he said:

Judges are like umpires. Umpires don't make the rules, they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire. . . . And I will remember that it's my job to call balls and strikes, and not to pitch or bat.

Now I love baseball but I'm not expert enough that I can keep score at the ballpark. I just enjoy the game and the food and the nice looking players. However, even I know that umpires have a bias and Armando at Kos calls Roberts out on this point:

As any baseball fan knows, umpires are not uniform in the delineation of the strike zone. Some are "hitters" umpires. Some are "pitchers" umpires. Some call the high strike. Some call the outside pitch.

And when it comes to the Supreme Court of the United States, it is important that we know what Judge Roberts' "strike zone" is. His record, the part that was not concealed by the Bush Administration, gives many of us pause regarding Judge Roberts' "strike zone."

(Armando also offers a nice tutorial on pine tar. Worth a read.)

Armando also follows up about Roberts on Griswold and Roberts on stare decisis (the doctrine of settled law). Excellent analyses.

Ever wonder if committee members are really taking notes in between asking questions? Atrios has the answer.

George Will wags his finger in today's Washington Post over "America's always fast-flowing river of race-obsessing [that] has overflowed its banks":

"...last Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois's freshman Democrat, applied to the expression of old banalities a fluency that would be beguiling were it without content. Unfortunately, it included the requisite lament about the president's inadequate "empathy" and an amazing criticism of the government's "historic indifference" and its "passive indifference" that "is as bad as active malice." The senator, 44, is just 30 months older than the "war on poverty" that President Johnson declared in January 1964. Since then the indifference that is as bad as active malice has been expressed in more than $6.6 trillion of anti-poverty spending, strictly defined.

The senator is called a "new kind of Democrat," which often means one with new ways of ignoring evidence discordant with old liberal orthodoxies about using cash -- much of it spent through liberalism's "caring professions" -- to cope with cultural collapse. He might, however, care to note three not-at-all recondite rules for avoiding poverty: Graduate from high school, don't have a baby until you are married, don't marry while you are a teenager. Among people who obey those rules, poverty is minimal.


Given that most African Americans are middle class and almost half live outside central cities, and that 76 percent of all births to Louisiana African Americans were to unmarried women, it is a safe surmise that more than 80 percent of African American births in inner-city New Orleans -- as in some other inner cities -- were to women without husbands. That translates into a large and constantly renewed cohort of lightly parented adolescent males, and that translates into chaos in neighborhoods and schools, come rain or come shine.

I'll say it, since I know you're thinking it: What an effing tool.

Who knew it could be so simple? If poor men could keep their pants on like middle-class men do, the problems of poor families would be solved.

Kathryn Edin (Univ. of Pennsylvania) and Maria Kefalas (St. Joseph's Univ.) are co-authors of "Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage." Their work is based on a five year ethnographic study of 162 single mothers in the Philadelphia area. They argue that

"any explanation of the decline in marriage and the growth of non-marital childbearing among the poor must take into account not just economics but the profound cultural changes American has undergone in the last 30 years."

According to Edin and Kefalas, marriage is now more of a consumption item than a cultural imperative and Americans, rich and poor, now hold it to a higher standard. Middle-class women are delaying marriage more, living together first, and divorcing when the marriage falls short of their high expectations.

The poor have responded by marrying less overall. Marriage is a luxury to be obtained someday. In the meantime, they say, children are a necessity; the key source of meaning and identity. Economically, poor men and women want to achieve a basic level of economic security they believe is essential for a lasting marriage. What good is a wedding if it will only lead to divorce? How likely is marriage in the face of violence, infidelity, drug and alcohol addiction, crime and incarceration?

A friend of mine is the executive director of N Street Village here in DC, which serves homeless women. They provide housing, medical care, employment services, and a host of other services to help women get back on their feet. It's a pretty amazing place.

When I got the tour, my friend told me that many of these women start out married, then when the marriage turns violent, the women start to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol and things spiral downward from there. I'm sure they would have a thing or two to tell George.

But George believes if he wags his finger enough, things will change.

Tuesday Morning Roundup

Playing a little bit of catch-up here...Tara Liloia posted Blog for America's Monday News Roundup at 9:15 p.m. and the headlines were: Chief Justice Hearings Begin, Hope in New Orleans, and Bush Approval at New Low of 39%. Regarding the Judge Roberts hearings, I didn't watch those at all yesterday, but imagined I would get the highlights by watching The Daily Show. But as it turns out, yesterday's program was a special episode called (if I recall correctly) "Evolution-Schmevolution". You can see recent Daily Show video headlines here.

Last night at My Vote is My Voice, Quintus Jett hosted a discussion about next steps for the Katrina evacuees...

There are three steps, in order of priority and complexity:

1. Putting a more personal face on the evacuees (online posts, audio, video)
2. Helping the evacuees develop local "meetups" where they are now displaced
3. Reconnecting the evacuees with the local elected officials who represented them in New Orleans

At the end of last night's discussion, Quintus added in the comments "if you have any comments or suggestions later, please post them here - or email me." (That comment includes his email address.)

At 11:03 p.m. on Blog for America, Tara posted DFA Welcomes Monisha
A dear friend to the DFA community, Monisha Sujan, was one of the tens of thousands of students left without a school:

"People are still trying to figure it out," Sujan said.

But Sujan cashed in on a job offer promised her this summer. Now Sujan will work for Democracy for America, a Democratic group led by former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean's brother in Vermont, to help coordinate hurricane relief efforts until she and her parents—both faculty members at Tulane—are allowed to return to their home in the New Orleans neighborhood of Uptown.

Thanks to Kimmy Cash for pointing me to this article in Truthout:
Exiles from a City and from a Nation By Cornel West
It takes something as big as Hurricane Katrina and the misery we saw among the poor black people of New Orleans to get America to focus on race and poverty. It happens about once every 30 or 40 years.

What we saw unfold in the days after the hurricane was the most naked manifestation of conservative social policy towards the poor, where the message for decades has been: 'You are on your own'. Well, they really were on their own for five days in that Superdome, and it was Darwinism in action - the survival of the fittest. People said: 'It looks like something out of the Third World.' Well, New Orleans was Third World long before the hurricane.

It's not just Katrina, it's povertina. People were quick to call them refugees because they looked as if they were from another country. They are. Exiles in America. Their humanity had been rendered invisible so they were never given high priority when the well-to-do got out and the helicopters came for the few. Almost everyone stuck on rooftops, in the shelters, and dying by the side of the road was poor black.

In the end George Bush has to take responsibility. When [the rapper] Kanye West said the President does not care about black people, he was right, although the effects of his policies are different from what goes on in his soul. You have to distinguish between a racist intent and the racist consequences of his policies. Bush is still a 'frat boy', making jokes and trying to please everyone while the Neanderthals behind him push him more to the right.

Read the article in its entirety here.

In the comments last night, Catreona shared this link:

Here is The Progressive Blog's self description:

The Progressive Blog is an outlet for Progressive Students and Thinkers residing in and around Lynn / Boston, Massachusetts. The Progressive Bloggers concentrate their intellectual energy on: Politics, Current Events, Philosophy, Cultural Critiques, and Social Commentaries. Please view the “Blogger Bios” post from 1 January 2005 and feel free to comment, contribute writings, and request to be added to the Progressive Blog e-mail update. Send correspondence to:

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Yoo Doctrine

I'd like to thank Quintus Jett for holding a discussion over at MViMV because it gives me time to summarize this interesting--and scary--story from today's Wall Street Journal (subscription only).

38 year old lawyer John C. Yoo has an idea for dealing with "the new terrorism": assassinating more suspected terrorists. His proposal would require "a change in the way we think about the executive order banning assassination, which has been with us since the 1970s." Such a change is needed, he said, because it is wartime: "A nation at war may use force against members of the enemy at any time, regardless of their proximity to hostilities or their activity at the time of attack."

Yoo is a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, that hotbed of liberalism. Ordinarily, we'd write this guy off as another extreme right-wing Ivory tower crackpot except that he was a lawyer in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel from 2001-2003. During his tenure, he authored "some of the most controversial internal legal opinions justifying the Bush administration's aggressive approach to detaining and interrogating suspected terrorists." Some of his memos are public, others are not.

Asked ... whether there is a classified Justice Department opinion justifying assassinations, Mr. Yoo hinted that he'd written one himself. "You would think they -- the administration -- would have had an opinion about it, given all the other opinions, wouldn't you?" he said, adding, "And you know who would have done the work."

Yoo has been a major player in taking advantage of that gray area where law intersects with foreign policy. That change is the basis of Bush's claim that he possesses the sort of far-reaching emergency powers exercised by past presidents during conventional wars. He belongs to an academic circle known as "sovreigntists;" they are "skeptical of international law and the idea that international relations are ever based on principle, as opposed to self-interest. Mr. Yoo argues that the Constitution gives Congress limited authority to deter presidential actions in foreign affairs. The judiciary, he says, has almost none."

I'm going to let the WSJ take it from here:

At the Justice Department, Mr. Yoo crafted legal arguments for the president's power to launch pre-emptive strikes against terrorists and their supporters. He molded a theory for not applying the Geneva Conventions to captured terrorist suspects. And he interpreted the federal antitorture statute as barring only acts that cause severe mental harm or pain like that accompanying "death or organ failure."

Yoo believes that American law permits the president to go to almost any lengths in the name of fighting terrorism.

The Yoo Doctrine, as it might be called, fits with the broader Bush-administration view that pursuing American interests is best for the country and the rest of the world. Before 9/11, Mr. Yoo helped lay legal groundwork for some of the president's high-visibility withdrawals from treaties, including the antiballistic missile pact with Russia and the agreement underpinning the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands, established in 1998 to deal with the gravest international crimes.

It should come as a surprise to no one that he is a member of the Federalist Society (he joined while attending Yale Law School in 1989). And since the Federalist Society also doubles as an employment network, Yoo has clerked for Judge Laurence Silberman, an appellate jurist in Washington much admired on the right, and then with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Thomas helped Yoo obtain a staff job with Sen. Orrin Hatch. In 2000, he was a member of the Republican legal team in Florida.

Oh, and Yoo believes he knows the "original intent" of the Constitution's authors. Riiight.

Yoo challenges an academic consensus that for decades has promoted international law and other legal restraints on U.S. war making. This thinking grew out of the post-World War II goals of resolving conflict at the United Nations and checking executive-branch excesses during the long nuclear standoff with the Soviets.

The majority view relies heavily on constitutional provisions, such as the one stating that Congress, not the president, has the power "to declare war" and "raise and support armies."

Years before he joined the Bush administration, Mr. Yoo was writing law-review articles arguing that this consensus is at once outdated and -- despite the Constitution's language -- in conflict with the intentions of the founding fathers.


When the planes hit on 9/11, anxiety raced through Justice Department headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue, recalls Robert Delahunty, then a lawyer in the counsel's office. He says Mr. Yoo immediately asserted himself, declaring, "This is war. The law operates differently." He "came to this first, before others," says Mr. Delahunty, who now teaches at the University of Saint Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis.

In the months that followed, the White House asked Mr. Yoo's office for memos on antiterrorism authority. He served as primary draftsman of key documents, such as one dated Sept. 25, 2001, that said the president had broad constitutional power to launch military attacks on terrorist groups or states that support them, "whether or not they can be linked" to 9/11.

A Jan. 9, 2002, memo concluded that neither the federal War Crimes Act nor the Geneva Conventions constrained the administration in its handling of al Qaeda and Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.

The most startling memo in this series was an Aug. 1, 2002, analysis concluding the federal antitorture statute forbids "only extreme acts" that cause either "lasting psychological harm" or physical pain "akin to that which accompanies serious physical injury such as death or organ failure." As commander-in-chief, the opinion stated, Mr. Bush could bypass U.S. law and international treaties prohibiting inhumane treatment of prisoners.

This is the guy folks. This guy is so extreme that he even scared the Bush folks; they would not defend him publicly. When the allegations and photos about Abu Ghraib surfaced, the memos started to leak out. "[I]n June 2004, the White House released a batch of them as part of a damage-control effort. Alberto Gonzales, then the White House counsel and now attorney general, disavowed the Aug. 1, 2002, memo on interrogation. He dismissed its analysis of presidential authority to disregard antitorture laws as "irrelevant and unnecessary."

Yoo has a small consolation, though:

"...most of the ideas he advocated are very much alive in Washington. The military and CIA continue to operate secretive detention-and-interrogation centers. The indefinite imprisonment of terrorism suspects and use of military commissions have survived legal challenges.

In June 2004, the Supreme Court ruled that federal courts can review the grounds for detaining foreign enemy combatants held outside the U.S. The justices separately ruled that American citizens held as terrorism suspects must have access to lawyers and fair hearings.

But beyond providing for the barest sort of judicial oversight, the court seemed to accept the idea that the country is at war and that the president and his subordinates have exceedingly broad latitude to run it. If confirmed, Supreme Court nominee John Roberts is expected to be a strong proponent of this view.

"It seems to me," says Mr. Yoo, "that the leaders in government and the judges and some legal thinkers, too, accept now that the fight against terrorism is a real war."

I'm sorry but guys like this shouldn't be let anywhere near the Constitution. Yoo is a lawyer who does not respect the rule of international and treaty law--and this is not a problem? He had to have known that his memos would be used to justify committing war crimes. These memos are not written in a vaccuum. How could he ignore the likelihood that his memos would facilitate the abuse of prisoners?

Incompetence or criminal neglect? You decide.

Postscript: In May 2004, a petition was circulated at Berkeley demanding Yoo's resignation when his role in setting the policies came to light. While Yoo was philosophical regarding the controversy, he said, "The only thing different was asking me to resign my position, which I think was over the line. It was a shock to me."

Open Thread

I won't mind things being a little slow this evening if lots of you are heading over to My Vote Is My Voice to do some interactive blogging with Quintus Jett at 8 p.m. In fact, it would be cool if right now some of you would take a minute and pass that link along to a blog, list, group, or bulletin board you frequent.

I'm going to call this our first open thread--what's on your minds this evening?

UPDATE: Here is the direct link to the discussion on My Vote Is My Voice:
Katrina Evacuees: Next Steps?

The discussion has ended for now, but in the comments Quintus added "if you have any comments or suggestions later, please post them here - or email me." He posted his email address in the comments.

Katrina pledge and Sending Smiles

I just got this in my email from Sojourners.

The Katrina Pledge: A commitment to build a new America

Here is the text of the pledge:

The waters of Hurricane Katrina have revealed fault lines of race and class in our nation, washing away our national denial about the large number of Americans who live in poverty and about its disproportionate impact on people of color. We have now seen, and so has the rest of the world, the effects of public policies that sacrifice the common good to private interests and misguided priorities.

In the aftermath of the storm's destruction, a new America must be born in which compassion and conscience reshape our society's priorities at all levels. Together we can transform our country into one where economic security for all is an essential part of our national security.

As a person of faith, I believe that the poverty we have witnessed on the rooftops of New Orleans and the devastated communities of the Gulf Coast is morally unacceptable. Therefore, I join my fellow Americans across the barriers of race, religion, class, and politics in the following commitments:

1. I pledge to be personally involved in helping those whose lives have been affected by this natural disaster - by praying for the victims and their families and by offering my time, talents, and resources to relief and recovery ministries that are meeting their needs.

2. I pledge to work for sweeping change of our nation's priorities. I will press my elected representatives to protect the common good - especially the needs of our poorest families and children - rather than supporting the twin social disasters of tax cuts for the rich and budget cuts that hurt the poor.

Click here to sign the pledge.

I also wanted to draw your attention to the following, which was posted by Lauren in Tokyo:
Launch of project "Sending Smiles"

I had the idea soon after the NOLA and other Hurricane Katrina survivors and evacuees were moved to shelters in Houston and across many states, to organize a drive to provide some activity books, crayons and coloring books for the families and kids that are going through so much stress and worry as they try to deal with the future after Katrina.

Thanks to some Democrats Abroad friends world wide, especially Shari Temple for help in tracking down information and assistance back home from, I am ready to launch an action called "Sending Smiles."

Many of the larger centers are getting a lot of assistance and media attention so we decided to start this by working with some smaller shelters or less well known ones first, this will also help make sure that our donation is not a burden for distribution in areas already overwhelmed with donations and gift items.

"Sending Smiles" from Overseas Americans will start by partnering with Camp Gruber in Braggs Oklahoma

read all about the project and help us at
please help us get the word out.

Questions, suggestions, comments? please email me.

thank you.
*Lauren in Tokyo
Democracy for America- Japan Chapter
Democrats Abroad Japan

And here is Lauren's post as a Kos diary, for anyone who would like to recommend it.

The Manchurian Nominee

Today at Noon the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the confirmation of John G. Roberts as Chief Justice will begin.

David Seldin over at the Fly Trap says that Democrats need to learn to counter "The Manchurian Candidate" strategy, which people like John Roberts have seem to perfected:

Roberts has seemingly spent the last several decades perfecting the art of appearing non-threatening. The most obvious explanation for the difference between his sharp, vociferous Reagan-era memos and his studied public blandness in more recent years was that he had his eye on the prize. He knew in a post-Bork world that articulating conservatives principles in an unembarrassed way can lead to trouble. And he knew that much of the "liberal" establishment could be won over through charm and intellect.

This concerns me greatly, because Democrats need more than a "Chicago Way" fighting style ("Here's how, they pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way, and that's how you get Capone!") to defeat what is really a Republican con game. They have a network of legal activists, and a language for covering up legal activism, Seldin says, "that would let them know who they could trust without attracting too much legal notice. The perfect expressions of this strategy is the Federalist Society, which managed to be both hugely influential in the halls of power and as quiet as they can get away with being in public." And John Roberts is their Raymond Shaw.

Chris Bowers thinks that Roberts can be stopped. He will be in DC to help lead the blogger opposition and given the latest poll numbers, less than half the country is ready to see Roberts confirmed, a number that appears to be dropping. Says Chris: "If the party can't stand up now when Bush is weaker than he has ever been, then we are pathetic."

Today's New York Times carries a cautionary tale from Clarence Thomas, of all people:

Yet while it may appear at the outset that the confirmation of Judge Roberts is all but assured, memories of bitterly contested confirmation hearings for Robert H. Bork in 1987 and Clarence Thomas in 1991 are still fresh on Capitol Hill, and many senators know from experience that there are no guarantees.

Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and a committee member, recounted a recent conversation with Justice Thomas: "I said, 'It looks like the Roberts nomination is going pretty smooth.' He said, 'Chuck, remember, I was nominated in July, and I didn't become controversial until October.' "

While the hearings may not disintegrate into a food fight, be assured that both sides have been conducting extensive mock hearings to prep for today.

People for the American Way have made their position pretty clear with respect to Roberts' record:

The White House has broken with precedent and unfortunately continues to deny the Senate access to key documents from Roberts' time as second-in-command to Ken Starr in the solicitor general's office in the Bush I Administration. In the absence of such documents, we must assume that the views expressed in the briefs Roberts signed during his tenure are in fact his own.

If you write lots of letters to the editor, the DNC has launched a new LTE tool to help. Initial feedback appears positive.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sunday evening, 9/11

I've had a very busy day, with little time for reflection, so I thank Catreona (aka uinen) for sharing some thoughts on the fourth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. In the comments, franster shared the text of her diary, "How will our hearts go on?", which is posted at My Left Wing and Booman Tribune. Subway Serenade shared the lyrics to his Red Line Blues, penned in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center four years ago today. In my morning post, I passed along the news from Quintus Jett that he will be live blogging on My Vote is My Voice again tomorrow, and wished a happy birthday to some members of our blog family community.

Here are today's main blog posts:

Katrina: Be All That You Can Be Just unbelievable. Has your life been turned upside down by Hurricane Katrina? Why not join the military?

Katrina: 'Focused' The GOP talking points of the moment--we can't "play the blame game" (talk about accountability) because we are just so darn "focused" on getting help by those who need it. (Right, by recruiting them to join the military at a point in time when *anything* that promises some semblence of security or a positive step toward getting one's life back on track could be perceived as a Good Thing.)

UPDATE, while it's still Sunday--click here for Oscar's Word for the Week.

September Eleventh

Crossposted at Disabled Americans for Democracy

On this fourth anniversary of September Eleventh, we remember those who were lost. But, on this day, we have even more to mourn than our fallen innocents, a heavier burden to bear than that imposed on us that bright, clear autumn morning by al Caeda.

Four years on, we also must endure an unjust, illegal, and immoral war, waged in our name against a country that posed no threat to us, in which tens of thousands of Iraqis (mostly civilians) have died, while the number of our dead approaches two thousand and the wounded overwhelm the military and VA medical systems. We must endure a government that lied to us about the reasons for waging this war; a government that blatantly steels from the poorest and most vulnerable of our citizens in order to stuff even further the overflowing coffers of the mega businesses and special interests that underwrite it. We must endure the erosion of our civil rights, the neglect of our infrastructure, government services, and national preparedness, while the president and Congressional Republican leadership concentrate on tax cuts for the ultra-rich.

This day, let us remember the innocent victims and the heroes who worked and fought to lessen the destruction, our American martyrs. Yet, let us also remember the evil that has been done in their name, the dishonor of a government bought and paid for by Haliburton and the National Rifle Association rather than a government by the people, for the people, and of the people.

We must remember our dead; and, we must honor them by restoring the honor of this great and beautiful country.

Red Line Blues by Subway Serenade

Red Line Blues

I was fast asleep that morning on the day the buildings fell,
And the platform where I'd sing that afternoon was gone as well,
And I cried for all of those on whom my livelyhood depends,
When I saw the downtown covered in the ashes of my friends.

So I gathered up my old guitar for a gentle Christmas show,
I could hardly bear the sadness, but I knew I had to go,
'Cause I heard that red line crying, sadly comin' round the bends,
Kickin' up amid the subway dust, the ashes of my friends.

I want to thank you for indulging this old subway serenade,
'Cause it's never been about how much or little I was paid,
I just stopped by to tell your hearts that true Love never ends,
And to sing this lonesome love song to the ashes of my friends.

I was fast asleep that morning on the day those towers fell,
And the platform where I'd sing that afternoon was gone as well,
And I cried for all of those on whom my livelyhood depends,
When I saw that downtown covered in the ashes of my friends.

David Teller

You can find that song, and others by David Teller (aka Subway Serenade) here.

Quintus Jett blogging on MViMV Monday

The current most recent entry at Blog for America, posted at 6:15 a.m., is Sunday Morning Shows. Click here to see who's appearing on the talk shows this morning.

I received the following in my email last night, and wanted to share it here, in the hopes that you will pass it along to anyone who might be interested, and post it at other blogs, Yahoo groups, etc:

On Monday September 12 (8-9pm EST), I'm scheduled to blog again at My Vote Is My Voice.

Weeks ago, the plan was to report on the progress of AAFD's Contract with Black America.

Instead, the focus will be on African American reactions to government failures in response to Hurrican Katrina, and AAFD's proposal to help establish New Orleans evacuuees (who are mostly black) establish themselves as a constituency that will be heard in further government response efforts. A proposal of tangible actions will be submitted for discussion.

Quinuts Jett
executive director, AAFD

Finally, a happy belated birthday to listener--her birthday was Saturday the 10th. Today is Zilpha's sister's birthday--has anyone heard from Zilpha lately? Hope it's a good one. And happy birthday a day early Toscha, to jjem's husband, and to Page in, um, it's Amsterdam now, right?

Click here for the blog family birthday calendar.