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I'm a Yellow Dog Democrat! Steve Bates,
The Yellow Doggerel Democrat
POLITICAL GRAVITY -- POLITICAL LEVITY -- VERSE AND WORSE
I'm a Yellow Dog Democrat!

DogBloggerel
for March 2007

 


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Astonishing Even For 'Them'

TPMMuckraker.com quotes Tony Snow on ABC:

The executive branch is under no compulsion to testify to Congress, because Congress in fact doesn't have oversight ability. So what we’ve said is we’re going to reach out to you – we’ll give you every communication between the White House, the Justice Department, the Congress, anybody on the outside, any kind of communication that would indicate any kind of activity outside, and at the same time, we’ll make available to you any of the officiels [sic] you want to talk to …knowing full well that anything they said is still subject to legal scrutiny, and the members of Congress know that.

Emphasis mine. Breathtaking arrogance, isn't it? I don't remember the GOP's disclaiming Congress's oversight role when Dan Burton was chair of the oversight committee, subpoenaing over 200 Democrats and zero Republans. Once again, if you're a GOPer, it's your right to rule; if you're a Democrat, you ought to shut the fuck up and take whatever crumbs you're handed.

The Bushists' anticonstitutional arrogance reminds me more than a bit of Richard Nixon. We all remember what happened to him, don't we? Let's see if we can make it happen again.

Steve
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Two Kinds Of Bad News - UPDATED

UPDATE: Edwards himself denies reports that he is suspending his campaign:

Edwards also said that Elizabeth's sickness wouldn't lead them to "cower in a corner," adding: "We leave here, this press conference, to go to New York and Boston and California tomorrow. Together."

One has to wonder where the reports came from...

Original post follows:


Via Josh Marshall, a source talking to Politico says that John Edwards will at least suspend his presidential campaign and possibly end it, in the face of Mrs. Edwards's recurrence of the breast cancer that afflicted her in 2004.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Edwards family.

Steve
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Why Was David Iglesias Fired?

According to Iglesias himself, he was fired for unmistakably political considerations. Based on the available record, the allegations that he was fired for performance-related reasons are simply false.

For reasons beyond my control, I have not been able to post on this story as it has broken. That doesn't mean I'm ignoring it. And it certainly doesn't mean that I don't recognize the consequences for the Bush administration, especially now that Bush has decided to charge directly into the fray in defiance of common sense and publicly available evidence against the administration's story... stories, plural; take your choice... about why the prosecutors were fired. Bush's decision to insist on Rove, Miers and others testifying behind closed doors, not under oath, and with no transcript is, I am happy to say, not acceptable to congressional Democrats, who are supposed to vote soon in committee on subpoenas to be issued to those officials.

All the charges of partisanship are BS. Apply the classic Clinton test: what was the GOP saying about testimony regarding Bill Clinton's alleged misdeeds, back in the day? It's a wonder they didn't call the babysitter to testify; as I recall, they did call Secret Service agents who worked in the immediate vicinity of President Clinton. Don't try to tell me that Congress and the public have no right to comparable information from Bush's subordinates: IOKIYAR is unacceptable in matters so serious.

And... not under oath? Can someone give me one good reason why they should be allowed to lie their fucking asses off without any consequences?

Rove and Miers, at a minimum, should appear in public before a Congressional committee, and give testimony under oath, for the record, to be released to the press.

No more secrets. No more dodging of simple accountability. Enough is enough.

Steve
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John Backus 1924-2007

If you've ever coded in Fortran, you owe this grand old man of higher-level computer languages a debt of gratitude. As a young man, he mounted a project at IBM to remove the need for the "priesthood" of coders that stood between computers... formidable face on, as people who have coded in various assembler languages can tell you... and people who just needed to perform computations. There is still something of a priesthood, though no one bows before me the way they might have in the mid-1960's, but Backus's signature effort went a long way toward allowing ordinary people... if by "ordinary" you mean (or are willing to accept) "scientists and engineers"... to use computers on their own.

The first program I ever wrote was in an early version of Fortran, and that fact is no accident... it's true for almost every computer user and computer professional of a certain age. The latest version of Fortran I have seen (but not really used) has object-oriented features comparable to the mainstream of today's general-purpose programming languages. Now that's adaptability and longevity!

Backus was supposedly never a particularly good student, having flunked out of college at least once. Here's my unsolicited advice to young people interested in pursuing careers in technology: if you're going to emulate a figure in history who was a C student (or worse), Backus is a better choice than the Shrubbery.

(NY Times obit)
(Wikipedia)

Steve
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Brief Involuntary Blog Break

Thanks, one and all, for your recent comments. I'm not ignoring you; I'm just trying to organize all the material I need for my annual taxes. Seldom has such a large fuss been made about such a small income. Among the many ways in which our federal government punishes the self-employed, taxes have to be the most annoying... not so much the paying of them, which I accept like the good liberal I am, but the bookkeeping necessary to file them. Sometimes I think I'd be better off taking the unmistakable hint, closing my tiny business and accepting servitude with some multi-megacorporation. But the times I think that are not my most rational times.

I have a meeting with my accountant on Tuesday. After that, I hope things will return to something resembling normal around here. Thank you for your patience.

Steve
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True Believers

An editorial in the Wilmington Morning Star online, after expressing outrage at much of the Bush administration for the U.S. Attorney purge, quotes a Republan representative:

This administration has turned politics-as-usual into total war. Decent Republicans can't stomach it anymore. U.S. Rep. Walter Jones Jr., a devout conservative, expressed his dismay in a letter to the president:

"While I recognize that all U.S. Attorneys serve at your pleasure, recent news reports alleging the improper political influence of partisan politics in the decision to terminate several U.S. Attorneys are most disturbing. If the environment of the Department of Justice - under the leadership of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales - could allow for the exertion of such partisan pressure, then our nation's law enforcement officers will lose the trust of the American people."

I agree with Rep. Jones's assessment of the consequences. (Don't worry; I'm not committing bipartisanship. I'm just echoing his evaluation of the coming disaster at DoJ in my own much less elegant language: "Oh... shit.") But I note that the editor refers to Jones as a "devout conservative." Is anyone else troubled by that usage? Do you find it accurate? Rep. Jones is willing to question the prevailing Bush administration spin on an important matter. Is he "devout"? or not? If being devout means exhibiting unwavering faith in the object of one's devoutness, can one ever say someone is devout in a political context without in essence insulting them? There are such people... the politically devout... but Rep. Jones is not among them.

Last night, on an excellent blog I will not name, I ran across a comment thread being trolled by someone who either had not seen or read transcripts of Valerie Plame's committee testimony, or else had not gotten the latest talking points... or, likeliest in my opinion, was a "devout" Republan quite beyond the way some people are devout in their religions: willing to suspend their rational faculties not just in abstract theological matters, but in matters of fact staring them in the face. I think there's something wrong with that. Having a sense of one's political identity is good; allowing that identity to lead one to defend the indefensible is not good.

Spare me from political true believers. Yes, every political party has theirs, but at the moment, the GOP has an overabundance of them. I'm sure Rep. Walter Jones Jr. doesn't want my pity, but I feel sorry for him.


(Small changes made after initial posting.)

Steve
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When Irish Signs Are Tiling

For the first Saturday Signs post of St. Patrick's Day, I thought it appropriate to point to a tiled display of Irish (actually Irish American) signs. I'll have you know these aren't cheap signs, either.

What? Why, yes, of course, I'm Irish, or at least I have Irish ancestry on my father's side. But I'm not about to spin any fake Irish dialogue when a genuine Irishman may very well stop by. The best of the day to you, jams!

So far, exactly zero out of those twelve naked women have placed themselves between me and the strong drink, so there's no way for me to test the truth of it. Forget the sign; now about that stout... I'd better have it before I drag out my pennywhistle. And yes, I really do have one. And yes, I sometimes subject my neighbors to bad renditions of tunes from O'Neill's. From a style standpoint, I'm awful at it; even the stout cannot prevent me from recognizing that fact.

No St. Patrick's Day post would be complete without praise for America's very own St. Patrick. Thanks, Mr. Prosecutor, for banishing at least a few more snakes from our midst.

From the heart of an Irish Texan: Éirinn go Brách, y'all!

Steve
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Did Sen. Clinton Lie?

Or just change her mind about the war in Iraq within the past month or so? Matt Browner Hamlin, on Huffington Post, compares Hillary's statements and concludes that one explanation is as bad as the other from the viewpoint of a liberal voter. Meanwhile, Silent Patriot, on Crooks and Liars, points to Hillary's backpedaling on her original commitment to end the war, quoting the NYT (this is from the C&L post; its NYT link is broken):

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton foresees a "remaining military as well as political mission" in Iraq, and says that if elected president, she would keep a reduced military force there to fight Al Qaeda, deter Iranian aggression, protect the Kurds and possibly support the Iraqi military.

On a not unrelated subject, we lost in the Senate, in the attempt to force a withdrawal of troops from Iraq in 2008. The vote wasn't close (50-48, which according to the NYT is "12 short of what was needed to pass"). Democrats and "Democrats" voting against the resolution were Mark Pryor (Arkansas), Ben Nelson (Nebraska), and Joe Lieberman (Hell).

Forgive me if all this has me in a bad mood this morning. What, exactly, did we send those people to Washington to do? Why are they not doing it?

Steve
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Friday Chat Blogging

Tabitha and the YDD have a serious chat...




... resolved to everyone's satisfaction.

Photos by Stella. Mangling Postprocessing by the YDD.


I meant to mention that these pictures are not posed: Tabitha climbed aboard of her own volition. It is a good thing she doesn't weigh much!

Steve
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Revels In The Cheerful Spring

That's what "ev'ry happy, happy living thing" does, according to an uncharacteristically cheerful Henry Purcell. Actually, someone else wrote the text he set... Thomas Shadwell? I'm not certain. In any case, you supply the revels; I'll supply the traditional Spring pictures taken near my apartment (actually, the robin is in a nearby park, one of many birds that showed up in recent weeks) ...





"In these delightful, pleasant groves, let us celebrate our happy loves. Let’s pipe and dance and laugh and sing. Thus every happy living thing revels in the cheerful spring."

Steve
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Hillary Clinton: Stay In Iraq

I am committed to vote for the Democratic presidential nominee in 2008. But this will make it difficult for me to do anything more than vote for Sen. Clinton if she is that nominee:

WASHINGTON, March 14 — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton foresees a “remaining military as well as political mission” in Iraq, and says that if elected president, she would keep a reduced military force there to fight Al Qaeda, deter Iranian aggression, protect the Kurds and possibly support the Iraqi military.

     ...

That's not what she has said at recent campaign appearances; she has recently called for bringing the troops home. The NYT calls it a more "nuanced" position, and it is that. (Please read the article for details.) But that is very nearly irrelevant. To a great many people... including, I must admit, me... the nuance will be lost in the inevitable media simplification. Worse, the very fact that Sen. Clinton says things like that enables George W. Bush to argue that he has bipartisan support for his far more extreme position.

I have frequently criticized Sen. Clinton for her policy positions, which are in general far more conservative than my own. But this is the first time I've had occasion to question her judgment on a matter of life and death. Moreover, I believe this statement is just plain bad politics: the American people have overwhelmingly made known their determination to end this ill-conceived occupation and to get out of Iraq's civil war; why in the world is she advocating any sort of continuation of Mr. Bush's folly?

Perhaps it's too early to worry. But I'm beginning to be concerned that Sen. Clinton, if she is the Democratic candidate in 2008, could snatch defeat from the jaws of otherwise certain victory. The American people, as fallible as their judgment may be in the short run, have at last fathomed the moral bankruptcy of this war. (Another kind of bankruptcy may have entered their minds as well.) Whatever is Sen. Clinton thinking?

Steve
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Bonin On Campaign Reform And Blogs

Here is a well-thought-out post on the uneasy relationship between advocates of traditional campaign finance reform, who tend to work on restricting the influence of money in politics, and the netroots, who pursue the other end of the problem, using less expensive means accessible to people without great amounts of money at their disposal, both to get their ideas out and to concentrate the limited resources of the "little guy" in ways that are more effective. Adam Bonin was a lawyer for some of the netroots blogs in 2005-06, arguing before the FEC and Congress in behalf of DailyKos and Eschaton. Here is a sample of his expression of discontent:

Liberal blogs like DailyKos and Eschaton, which I represented during the FEC and Congressional process, would seem to be natural allies of groups which otherwise promote progressive values like reducing the influence of large dollars on elections and public disclosure. But having emerged during a post-Watergate era in which the mindset seemed to be "if it looks like money, regulate it," the reform groups missed the boat on this one entirely, and simply failed to see how this technology was leveling the playing field in a way that law alone had not. This is not a field to be regulated, but encouraged.

Bonin also says many of the traditional campaign reform groups not only misunderstand the technology but also mistake current very ordinary day-to-day capabilities, e.g., web video, for far-future concerns. Please read the whole thing; you know the FEC rulings two years ago are not the end of the matter, and our future roles as political bloggers probably depend on how some of these arguments are eventually resolved.

Steve
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Gonzo Is Dismayed?

Dismayed? He's DISMAYED? Well, hell, so am I. I am dismayed every time an official of my government... well, it used to be my government... lies to me. I am dismayed every time a government official lies to cover up past lies. I am dismayed every time the highest ranking officials of my government appear to adhere to a policy of lying about everything, all the time, in every circumstance, whether or not it even confers any advantage to their sorry prevaricating selves. Damn them all and especially damn Gonzales for faking responsibility instead of taking responsibility... you bet I am dismayed.

If Gonzales knows what's good for him... it's too much to ask that he do anything for the sake of the nation he is systematically playing false, but for his own sake at least... he will resign forthwith. Tomorrow may be too late; he may not be able to save his own sorry reputation or Mr. Bush's much-discussed legacy.

Mr. Gonzales: either go home, or go to hell jail and take your cronies with you. At this point, I don't care which you choose.

Steve
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Red-Handed: White House Did It - UPDATED

My, oh my. Via ellroon, we have this news from Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo:

Uh-oh ... Bush got Iglesias axed.

Yes. The firing of U.S. Attorneys (USAs) goes all the way to the White House. The document dump intended to obscure the fact appears instead to confirm it. Read the details at TPM. Those details grew more damning as the night wore on: administration disclaimers notwithstanding, there is evidence of an actual plan to use the firings for political purposes... and of the Bushies' full awareness of how they could use the new PATRIOT Act provision to bypass the Senate confirmation process for replacement USAs.

In other words... the Bush administration's actions in the matter match your worst assumptions. Again. And you won't be surprised who else is involved.

Not wanting to lift large portions of Marshall's post, which obviously cost him some midnight oil, I'll send you there for links to the NYT and WaPo articles on the document dump and the administration officials involved in it, and for most of his analysis. But I will borrow his conclusion about how bad this must be:

And remember this key point: The 'document dump' is meant to get bad news out of the way fast. But it's always a hedge. It never includes the really bad stuff. And if you're not in deep crisis mode, ya' never do it on a Monday.

Stay tuned; there's almost certainly worse news to come.


UPDATE: Paul Kiel of TPMMuckraker.com provides a timeline. This has been in the works since February 2005. Who hatched the scheme? Apparently, Harriet Miers. But many in the administration got to play, especially Kyle Sampson (later Gonzo's chief of staff), who appears to have been a primary implementer. And supposedly he did it without telling Gonzo. Right. You know what that's all about: if Gonzo knew, and Gonzo didn't tell Congress in his testimony, well, he's in Trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for... well, you know, it's "not really a crime" according to the Right, the one they used to nail Scooter Libby.

Steve
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New Victory In War On Poor

The War on the Poor™ GOP (not to be confused with Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty back in the Sixties) has seen significant new victories in the past year:

WASHINGTON, March 11 — A new federal rule intended to keep illegal immigrants from receiving Medicaid has instead shut out tens of thousands of United States citizens who have had difficulty complying with requirements to show birth certificates and other documents proving their citizenship, state officials say.

Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Ohio and Virginia have all reported declines in enrollment and traced them to the new federal requirement, which comes just as state officials around the country are striving to expand coverage through Medicaid and other means.

Under a 2006 federal law, the Deficit Reduction Act, most people who say they are United States citizens and want Medicaid must provide “satisfactory documentary evidence of citizenship,” which could include a passport or the combination of a birth certificate and a driver’s license.

Some state officials say the Bush administration went beyond the law in some ways, for example, by requiring people to submit original documents or copies certified by the issuing agency.

“The largest adverse effect of this policy has been on people who are American citizens,” said Kevin W. Concannon, director of the Department of Human Services in Iowa, where the number of Medicaid recipients dropped by 5,700 in the second half of 2006, to 92,880, after rising for five years. “We have not turned up many undocumented immigrants receiving Medicaid in Waterloo, Dubuque or anywhere else in Iowa,” Mr. Concannon said.

     ...

Is this an instance of the strangely named Law of Unintended Consequences at work? No. I say this rule is working precisely as the Bush administration intends. If you think this denial of legitimate benefits to American citizens is only a side-effect of the GOP's use of immigration as a wedge issue, you are not attributing enough deep-seated meanness of spirit to George W. Bush and his handlers.

In forty years, our government's moral position on poverty has declined from "poverty in America must be eradicated" to "the American poor must be eradicated." I'd use some liberal potty-mouthed words to describe the perpetrators of this transition, but I cannot find any words strong enough. Suggestions are welcome, but remember, I know just about all the obscenities and profanities in the English language, and have already considered and dismissed them as insufficient.

Steve
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Whose Subpoena's Longer?

Short answer: the FBI's.

This happened on Friday, presumably timed as a bad-news dump. But Robert Mueller's admission of responsibility (and of course his unrepentant defense of administrative subpoenas as an antiterrorism tool) was such effective theater that even the always Bush-administration-compliant Fox News showed a large segment of it. (Why was I watching Fox News? I was in the big Harris County jury assembly room downtown; Fox News is what appears on the TV when they're not displaying ranges of numbers of jurors to be empanelled. Yes, they do provide a room in which one can avoid it, but the snack bar is awfully crowded. City of Houston jury duty is marginally better: they show CNN.)

With over 20,000 of these suckers issued by the FBI, it is pretty clear that "national security letters," the technical term for the FBI's administrative subpoenas, have little or nothing to do with national security: the FBI is using them for any damned thing it pleases. Going before a judge to obtain a warrant is so... "quaint." Why would they do that when they can give themselves permission. Obviously our founders intended this executive power all along; the fact that it is not merely omitted but otherwise constructed in the Constitution must be, ahem, an oversight. Yep... oversight; that's the problem all right. But Bush took care of that in one of his "signing statements." Balkin:

You may recall that one of the effects of the USA Patriot Act was to ease the standards for obtaining records without a warrant. By easing the standards for issuing national security letters, it became even more imperative for someone outside the executive branch to make sure that these new powers were not being misused. However, you may also recall that one of the Bush Administration's infamous signing statements maintained that the Administration could refuse to provide information to Congress necessary for oversight of the FBI's use of national security letters under the USA Patriot Act.

I suspect it is time for a little Congressional oversight.

I suspect Professor Balkin is right.

Steve
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Microsoft Malware

Microsoft Live OneCare: worse than any virus?

Microsoft has admitted that its Live OneCare security suite has been accidentally deleting some users' Outlook and Outlook Express e-mails.

According to postings on Microsoft's OneCare forum, erasures have been caused when the antivirus programme finds a virus in an e-mail attachment. Instead of then quarantining that single e-mail, users have reported that entire .pst or .dbx files -— the personal folder where non-Exchange Server users' messages and other details are kept -— have been quarantined or, in some cases, even deleted.

One user commented on the forum: "Is there a chance to recover it? If not, OneCare will have done more damage than any virus in my 30 years of active computing." Forum postings indicate, however, that recovery is possible in some cases, where the .pst or .dbx file is still available in OneCare's quarantine facility.

Stephen Boots, a forum administrator, commented that he was "very unhappy about this problem as it was reported over a year ago and fixed in the 1.0 release", adding: "It never appeared throughout the beta, but suddenly appeared when 1.5 was released".

     ...

Gee, that sounds familiar... didn't that happen with the PATRIOT Act, in which the version hammered out during the original debate was completely replaced by GOP congressional leaders at the last moment with something suspicious, malicious, and pernicious? Our federal government and large corporate bullies grow more similar every day.

More than once, I've tried to convince conservative colleagues... who inevitably insist on discussing politics in the workplace... that their privacy rights and property rights are trampled by large corporations as surely as they are by the government. Often they admit the fact, but continue with their "private sector good; government evil" theme unabated. Draw your own conclusions about their ability to reason from the facts they freely acknowledge.

Back to Microsoft's malware. The last time I ran Windows Update on this machine, Microsoft had only one thing to install: Windows Genuine Advantage™, their own little bit of spyware that determines the validity of your Windows installation. Presuming that Microsoft would, at some future date, refuse to install required security updates if I didn't permit WGA to be installed, I allowed it. Afterward, I was shown some fine print that appeared to say that Microsoft would be running WGA silently from time to time to assure itself that the instance of Windows was still genuine. Understand: this Windows installation was done at the factory before I bought this computer about four years ago.

As a customer, I find that being treated by Microsoft, not once but repeatedly, as if I were some sort of shoplifter does not make me want to buy more Microsoft products.

Curiously enough, neither does the admitted potential to have all my emails deleted by Microsoft Live OneCare when one of them contains a virus.

(Next tech episode: Symantec LiveUpdate™, the ultimate in noisy software.)

Steve
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Saturday Signs

I am reminded of one of my engineering professors in college. Alan Chapman, from whom I took a course in thermodynamics, wrote and published a short paper titled something like "How to Come In Out of the Rain." The paper, complete with relevant mathematics and diagrams, was very thorough, aimed at people who were literate but clueless in the matter. I don't think Chapman had anything to do with the creation of this sign, which is posted in the restroom near the food preparation area in a nearby grocery store, but the idea is the same. One question occurs to me: has anyone checked the Texas sodomy laws to see if it's legal to follow this sign's instructions in a public restroom?


Stella bought a vehicle last night, and picks it up Monday. As it is nearly impossible to get a recent used Subaru Forester at any price, let alone for the amount of the insurance settlement (though that was respectable), because people buy them and keep them for years, Stella opted for another make and model. It is slightly newer and slightly larger, and gets slightly worse gas mileage. It appears to be in excellent condition. After her experience in the wreck, I can't blame her for looking for a mid-sized SUV to replace her lost mini-SUV. The model name is politically incorrect in a way that will offend at least Lilith, but there's not a thing we can do about the name. Given all the criteria, Stella's decision was a sensible one; that fact is no surprise to me. Thus ends the great adventure that began a week ago Wednesday. I hope to return to political blogging soon.

Steve
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Friday Crowded Cat Blogging - UPDATED

Yes, there really is room for both of us on this little window platform. Never mind that Stella got two such platforms for us; this is the one in the sun at the moment. Now, housemate, if you would just scrunch over a bit more...



We're back home. The "blurple" (bluish purple) Subaru is now officially condemned: contrary to what we were told last week, there actually is frame damage, and the vehicle is quite properly totaled. (Thank goodness only the vehicle is totaled, not Stella.) A series of phone calls from people very anxious for Stella to move instantly if not sooner in this matter literally prompted our hasty exit from Stewart Beach and a return to Houston... not the conclusion either of us envisioned for our little vacation. Stella drove the rental car a couple dozen miles to sign one more release... the fourth? fifth? she had to sign in person to move or be compensated for her former vehicle. I, meanwhile, dealt with a client's request regarding a performance issue that emerged while I was gone. Well, actually, what I did in response turned out not to be what the client wanted, but it was as prompt and professional as I could manage under the circumstances. At least he doesn't expect miracles; matters could be much worse.

And did I mention that I have jury duty today? Don't expect much blogging.

UPDATE: I sat for a few hours and was sent home. At least I had an excuse to take MetroRail downtown; I always enjoy riding Houston's only light rail. If only there were more of them...

Steve
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Tenth Anniversary

We had a grand one. We ate and drank. We shopped. We took a harbor tour by boat. (Note to jams: actually, according to the signs, we took a "Harbour Tour" ... the King's English, I suppose.) We saw dolphins! For both of us, that was a first, unless you count forced appearances of that admirable species in aquariums etc. We saw art, including many works by a well-known Texas artist, Kermit Eisenhut. In addition to the harbor and the strand, we saw the seawall, built after the 1900 hurricane that destroyed much of Galveston; it is a mere block from our hotel, on a comfortable stretch of public beach. The sense of violent history, peaceful evening today, and who-knows-what in the future is enough to make one pensive. But we are not pensive today. We celebrate today.

It is great to be a liberal blogger, whom nobody asks of the tenth anniversary, exactly what it is an anniversary of. Actually, it is the anniversary of our re-meeting after not having encountered each other for over a dozen years (not counting random meetings such as at Democratic conventions), the anniversary of the day we began thinking that maybe, just maybe, we were an "item" and not just a tangential encounter. That sense... the sense that in our relationship, the whole is more than the sum of the parts... is worth more to us than most people can imagine.

Stella is falling asleep reading a novel. Paul Simon is on the CD player. (Hey, what can I say: we're leading-edge boomers, unapologetically part of our generation.) We spent the last part of the evening downloading and viewing the photos of the trip. Real life never completely vanished in this trip; there were quite a few cell phone calls with auto insurance representatives... when one carries a cell phone, one is never really as isolated as she might hope. The strength of our relationship lies in the fact that it not only survives real life... but improves it. What more could one ask!

Steve
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Four Out Of Five

... ain't bad:

Count I: GUILTY

Count II: GUILTY

Count III: NOT GUILTY

Count IV: GUILTY

Count V: GUILTY

I cannot rejoice that Mr. Libby saw fit to lie under oath. That is not cause for celebration... ever. But as Patrick Fitzgerald said in his post-trial press conference,

What is now clear, we knew that Mr. Libby had told a story. What is now public is that the FBI had learned that Russert did not and could not have told Libby the information regarding Mrs. Wilson. As prosecutors, we could not walk away from the fact that Libby was lying to federal investigators and the grand jury. Seems to me that no responsible prosecutor could walk away from that — the facts justify themselves.

The role of the Vice President? Any lie under oath is serious. We cannot tolerate perjury. The truth is what drives our judicial system. If someone tells a lie under oath, it is every prosecutor's duty to pursue that case. It is obviously a serious matter when a high level official does that under a national security investigation — it should never be tolerated.

Remember that: it should never be tolerated. And I will celebrate the fact that Libby was investigated, caught, charged, tried, prosecuted by an apolitical straight arrow, and convicted by a jury that was evidently diligent beyond our dreams. To that I lift my glass.

Yes, of course, there will be motions for retrial, and failing that, appeals, and if those don't work, eventually, a presidential pardon. So be it. Those predictable legitimate acts by Libby's defense team and self-serving acts of craven cowardice by the preznit and vice preznit are not something we can affect. But the persons occupying those two offices (and as always I use the word "occupying" premeditatedly) will never be the same. The stain is like yellow curry: no amount of scrubbing, bleaching or covering up will ever remove it; it is visible for all to see.

As Jane Hamsher said, "It's a good day to be an American, huh?" Indeed it is. Thanks to FDL for their preparatory work over the past year, and especially for their liveblogging of the trial.

Steve
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Anniversary Trip

Tomorrow morning Stella and I are headed out for a couple of days of recreation for our 10th anniversary. We'll be back Thursday evening at the latest. My current plan is to take the laptop, so it's possible you'll hear from me sometime during the week, provided our hotel has a suitable net connection. Their web site is a bit vague about that.

Then on Friday I have jury duty. Again. You've heard my whine before, about having jury duty literally twice as often as the typical Harris County resident because my name is on the rolls twice, once for my driver's license and once for my voter registration... it's a long and boring story. But it almost never matters, because Harris County has only two flavors of court cases, drug cases and murders, and nobody wants me on a jury for either one of those.

But I'm not thinking about jury duty again until Friday morning. We've made a list of lots of places in Galveston that we've never been before (for all the many times we've gone to the island), and it looks like the weather is going to cooperate with us, so we're looking forward to some fun.

Fun... F-U-N... fun. remember that?

Steve
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Cheney's Blood Clot

The Washington Post has some details. While Cheney has been taking blood thinners for some time, there is speculation that this episode was brought on by his spending long periods of time in airplanes on his recent trip.

I wish Mr. Cheney a quick recovery free from any complications. Many of us, including me, hold him in extremely low regard for his actions in the political sphere, but we cannot allow those ill feelings to extend to his physical well-being. Apart from the moral dimensions, that sort of negative sentiment would be, as I see it, far too much like that of right-wing extremists who wish physical harm to liberals. We are better than that.

That's it. No snark from me on this one. I do reserve the ongoing right to criticize Mr. Cheney's actions as alleged veep. I am sympathetic to his medical plight, but not to his politics.

Steve
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Trial-Size Snack

As we sit here anxiously awaiting more action in the Libby perjury trial, it is well worth your time to read Christy Hardin Smith's explanation of Judge Walton's 48-page opinion, issued apparently to preempt some possible reversals on the grounds that the judge declined to admit some kinds of evidence the defense wanted admitted and... apparently in Judge Walton's opinion... attempted to sneak into the record. There's no short version, and I am not a lawyer, but apparently Libby gave up a lot by refusing to testify in his own defense after his lawyers had indicated a dozen or more times that he would do so. The very fact that such matters are being seriously discussed by the judge and the lawyers (including the defense) must mean that they anticipate one or more convictions, which would, of course, be appealed.

Following this trial is hungry work. What snack shall we have? Well, any trial involving Scooter Libby and Tim "Pumpkinhead" Russert surely calls for the ancient and justly famous Libby's Pumpkin Pie...

Steve
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Potty-Mouthed Incivility

The Editors at The Poor Man Institute provide us a chart of examples of civility and incivility, seriousness and unseriousness, for us poor souls in the left blogosphere who simply don't know any better. This is your homework assignment for the day. Pay no attention to that Judge behind the curtain...

(Big H/T to Pachacutec at Firedoglake.)

Steve
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Saturday Signs

Shoes? Shouldn't this store...



... sell bras?

Steve
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Muck, Rakes, And Fired Prosecutors

TPMMuckraker.com has a slogan that I love: "They've got muck. We've got rakes." Indeed they do, and they know how to wield them. They have been all over the Bush administration's fired federal prosecutors scandal from the beginning, doing a lot of the heavy lifting... investigative reporting, remember that, Gray Lady? ... and it has finally paid off in a big way. Josh Marshall:

The canned US attorney story is now really picking up steam. Two members of Congress -- a senator and a representative -- are scurrying from office to car and vice versa refusing to confirm or deny whether they tried to interfere with a federal corruption investigation to help save an endangered Republican House seat.      ...

Emphasis mine. Please visit the post by Marshall (whose brainchild TPMMuckraker.com was, though he is not involved in the nuts and bolts of this story) for a chronological list of all the stories they have published on this rapidly widening scandal. U.S. Attorneys nominally serve at the president's pleasure, though it is clearly bad form to replace them with toadies and political hacks when they are in the middle of major corruption investigations. But if there was pressure from GOP elected officials (or even unelected officials; hey, this is the era of elections decided by a vote of 5 to 4) to influence investigations in progress, that could well be a violation of Senate and House ethics rules, and arguably even obstruction of justice... if the ethics committees will follow through with investigations.

(Update: if I had reread the linked articles for updates issued while I was writing this post, I would have known that subpoenas have been issued, and some of the U.S. attorneys who were forced out will be testifying Tuesday morning before the Senate ethics committee, where at least one may name names of elected officials who allegedly attempted to influence them. Things are moving fast.)

Marshall thinks this could be a big deal. I've seen a lot of big deals fizzle in my political lifetime, but this looks worse than a "third-rate burglary" to me. Stay tuned.

Steve
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Against Bipartisanship

This post has been fermenting in my mind for some time. I am provoked to write it now in part by the incidents of literal, physical break-ins of, and thefts from, Democratic offices described in the previous post.

For more years than Bush has usurped the office of president, I have had a homemade sign on my refrigerator door, bearing a quote from Robert Kuttner:

Bipartisanship is sometimes a necessary tactic. It is never a philosophy of governance. Otherwise, why have two parties?

I regret to report that I now disagree with Mr. Kuttner. Of course, parts of his statement are neither more nor less accurate than they've ever been. There are many more than two political parties, but only two that have the remotest chance of wielding real power. And the formation of coalitions across party lines has never been, in America anymore than in European parliamentary democracies, a matter of shared philosophies. But I question whether bipartisanship is, or can be in today's America, a necessary tactic, or even a tolerable one.

If a tactic is a means used in pursuit of a strategy, bipartisanship is an utter failure as a Democratic tactic. This should be no surprise when one considers that the more candid members of the GOP such as Grover Norquist equate bipartisanship with "date rape." How can a failed tactic ever be a necessary one? Bipartisanship is indeed a tactic... a GOP tactic. Think of all the recent post-election GOP whines calls for bipartisanship. Remember all those GOP cries for bipartisanship when the GOP held all the threads? when Democrats were literally omitted from congressional committee meetings? Remember the cooperation between majority and minority parties in matters of redistricting? Neither do I.

Since the days of Richard Nixon, what, exactly, have Democrats gotten for their attempts at wholesome interaction with the Republan Party in the alleged interest of better government? I actually attempted to compile a list of some of the worst results, for both American politics and international diplomacy, but found myself overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of false dealings by Republans. Nixon's burglaries, "dirty tricks" and so on; Reagan's dealings with Iran to assure his own success in defeating Carter; Lee Atwater's pursuit of the Republan "Southern strategy" to victories by two GOP presidents, etc. etc. In each case, any Democrat who sat down to reason with these "gentlemen" had his or her head handed to him as thanks for his troubles. GOP eliminationism toward Democrats is nothing new, and continues to this very day. Ask Al Gore. Ask John Kerry.

There was a time when a typical Republans' word was his or her bond, as surely as it was for most Democrats. With the Republan leadership of the post-Nixon era, their word is a creature of momentary convenience, and their "leadership" is honest only when it serves them in funneling money and channeling power into the hands of their cronies. Yes, I am impugning their honesty. It's difficult to take the word of people who have regularly and relentlessly deceived us even in the most vital matters of war and peace, of life and death, as if America were some giant zero-sum game... not to mention called us traitors and described us as unpatriotic whenever it was politically convenient.

I therefore urge every Democrat, particularly every Democratic member of Congress, to abandon any attempt at constructive interaction... "bipartisanship"... as a tactic for the advancement of Democratic ideals. It is inevitable that Democrats will sit down with Republans as each party pursues an agenda, but make no mistake: there is no common agenda, and there are no interactions not tainted by the GOP intent to win every encounter by means fair or (more typically these days) foul. Never forget this. Anticipate false dealing by the GOP at every turn, and you will not be disappointed. As everyone from Mother Jones to the Great Confabulator is reported to have said, you trust your mother... but you cut the cards.

Steve
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Break-In Breakdown

Paul the Spud at Shakespeare's Sister, with the help of commenters, enumerates recent break-ins at Democratic Party offices, complete with laptop thefts in some cases. You might take a look, especially if you thought the ghost of Nixon was actually laid to rest when he was buried.

Steve
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Friday Mat Blogging

OK, OK, it's not really Friday yet, but things are a little crazy here this week. Tabitha and Samantha evaluate the new location of "their" chair in the living room, eventually deciding that the presence of the catnip mat pays for all, even if Stella didn't ask them whether she could move their chair:



Tabitha, Samantha and I are going out of our way to be kind to Stella this week, as she is kind to us every week. As of today, Stella is not as achy as the doctors led her to expect, though sometimes such things take another day. She has a rental car now, and so is not dependent on me for every trip she has to make. All in all, Stella is recovering nicely from the accident. We still don't know about her own car; we hope to find out soon whether it can be repaired.

Steve
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Our Great Adventure Wednesday

Stella was in an auto accident Wednesday about 11:20am. She was stopped at a red light at the intersection of two busy streets, second car from the intersection, when her Subaru Forester was struck from behind, pretty much full speed, by a Suburban or similarly gigantic vehicle. The driver of the Suburban appears to have been asleep, possibly under the influence of drugs, possibly legal prescription drugs; details are not yet known. The driver was ticketed for failure to control speed.

Stella is not seriously injured. Nothing is fractured, though she will be mighty sore today, according to the doctors who examined her. You can imagine my relief: considering the vehicles involved, and the speed of the vehicle that rear-ended hers, the result could have been serious or even fatal.

(Much of the rest of this post is adapted from my own earlier comment on a previous post.)

Stella's good friend and colleague S., whom she was to have met for lunch, arrived on the scene quite a while before I did, and was helpful and supportive in ways I can't begin to thank her for. When I arrived, Stella was standing, talking a blue streak, organizing (her default behavior; remember she manages projects for a living), and obtaining information as rapidly as possible. I was suitably impressed, even though I know she does this in crisis situations.

Her vehicle was a mess in the back. The hatch window was gone, its glass strewn in huge swaths in the street behind it and all over the contents of the hatch. (Stella said that a fair amount of glass was projected into the front seat with her.) The hatch was caved in, and the rear door on one side was buckled. The rear bumper... don't ask. I am not certain whether the vehicle can be repaired or not; an adjuster will presumably determine that today.

S. drove Stella home; I followed. As I pulled into my parking space and got out, I noticed a loud hiss from my left rear tire. Damn. Apparently I picked up some glass at the accident scene. AAA changed to the spare, and Discount Tire... happily only four blocks away... plugged the tire. By that time, it was two hours after the accident; Stella was phoning auto insurance companies, the tow lot, etc., and trying to line up the correct emergency clinic that her medical insurance will pay for, in the event she cannot get money out of the negligent driver. Ironically, this proved to be the beginning of another set of troubles.

Stella chose a name-brand hospital's local minor emergency clinic; it was close, and covered by her insurance. We arrived at the clinic at 3:40pm, over four hours after the accident. Long story short: it took this clinic six (6) hours to attend to her injuries; when they finally did so, it was ten (10) hours after the accident. Did I mention that the clinic was in its first day using new patient management software? Don't get me started on the flaws of marketing insufficiently tested software to dedicated but understaffed clinics.

The clinic understandably schedules treatment by triage, not by order of arrival. But the waiting room filled and emptied three times while we were there. A child with a boo-boo on her nose was treated prior to Stella. One has to wonder about the triage procedure. Finally, at my encouragement, Stella (who hates to admit she is in pain) went to the front desk, mentioned how long she had been there and that her pain was growing by the hour, and finally was treated (apparently) out-of-sequence. Who knows when she would have been seen to if she had not voiced her increasing discomfort with her injury.

Once during my hours of waiting I photographed a sign in the waiting room; the sign explained to patients that they should complain to their HMOs, not to the clinic. To this has our medical care system sunk. I'll put it up for Saturday Signs. "Blame them, don't blame us" seems to be a major message in our emergency care and healthcare funding systems these days.

We have a lot of details to attend to today, and while I'm not even remotely sleepy, I'd better at least give sleep a chance. (Sing it to "Give Peace a Chance" if you like.) Once again, I hope to resume political blogging within a day or two. Thanks to all of you who stopped by to express your concern.

Steve
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Selected Links To Recent Posts

 
Click any permalink below to go to the original article on a previous page. Click a comment link below to add a comment to the original article. Your comment will be noticed, by the YDD at least: HaloScan has a page allowing me to view recent comments, no matter which post they refer to.

Standing Up Or Lying Down

Steve
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Great Concert - Great Mexican Food

Steve
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Another Headline Needs Changing

Steve
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Enduring Freedom

Steve
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Shachtman Moves To Wired

Steve
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Live In Concert

Steve
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Saturday Signs

Steve
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How To Tell Them Apart

Steve
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Friday Stretch Cat Blogging

Steve
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Craft Your Own Urgent Breaking Story - UPDATED

Steve
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A Clue: Democracy Is Noisy

Steve
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Better Headline

Steve
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Generous GOP Contributor

Steve
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The Real George W -- UPDATED

Steve
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Three Essential Posts

Steve
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Making It Official

Steve
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Saturday Signs

Steve
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Blog Outage And Miscellany

Steve
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Friday Cat Reading

Steve
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