George Bush’s America

I plan to be far, far away from a television set during the SOTU speech tonight. But no matter; Dan Froomkin provides a preview:

President Bush goes before a disaffected nation tonight to reassert his leadership — quite possibly by insisting repeatedly that he’s a leader with an obligation to lead at a time that requires leadership.

“Lead” certainly was the word of the day at the White House yesterday.

After his Cabinet meeting, Bush told reporters : “I can’t tell you how upbeat I am about our future, so long as we’re willing to lead. . . .

“We talked about how to make sure this economy of ours stays the strongest economy in the world, and that we recognize we can’t just sit back and hope for the best, that we’ve got to lead.”

And at the mid-day press briefing , spokesman Scott McClellan was typically unsubtle.

“We are living in historic times and, as the President has said, we have a responsibility to lead. . . . It’s important that we continue leading and acting to spread peace abroad and prosperity at home. The President is optimistic and confident about the path that we are on.”

Didn’t catch that?

The word for the drinking game crowd, boys and girls, is lead.

While you’re at WaPo, check out this story by David Finkel about Randolph, Utah, a town that in 2004 gave Bush “95.6 percent of the vote and support for him continues to be nearly unanimous.”

Randolph is “a place that seems less a part of the modern United States than insulated from it.”

There have been no funerals here from Bush’s war on terrorism. There are no unemployment lines, no homeless people sleeping in doorways, no sick people being turned away from a hospital because of a lack of insurance, no crime to speak of, no security fence needed around the reservoir, no metal detectors at the schools.

Terrorist threats? That’s anywhere but here. Iraq? That’s somewhere over there. Hurricane Katrina? That was somewhere down there. Illegal immigrants? Not here, where everyone is fond of Ramon, who came long ago from Mexico and is married to the Catholic woman, who is the one non-Mormon everyone mentions when the conversation turns to religious diversity. As for racial diversity, everyone says there are three African Americans in the county, including the twins on the high school cheerleading squad, which also includes a Hispanic, according to the superintendent of schools, Dale Lamborn, which means “we’ve probably got the most diverse cheerleading squad in the state.”

Finkel interviewed a number of locals, and boy, do they love President Bush. It’s still September 12, 2001, in Randolph, Utah.

I say slap Randolph, Utah, in a bell jar labeled “George Bush’s America” and put it in a museum, where it belongs.


This is a post about where we go next, but first I want to talk about where we were, and are.

Yesterday’s failure to sustain a filibuster is causing the punditocracy — defined as “people who make a living telling the rest of us what mood we were in 18 months ago” — to run with the story about how Dem leadership caved in to the unhinged, whackjob leftie fringe.

Dana Milbank, hardly the worst of them, characterized the grassroots effort to stop Alito as a “Democratic food fight.” “Elected Democrats and their liberal base are in one of their periodic splits between pragmatism and symbolism,” Milbank writes.

But there’s Left, and then there’s Left. Milbank’s article describes an “impeach Bush” rally in which no one wanted to hear that it ain’t gonna happen as long as the House is controlled by Republicans.

When one of the impeachment forum’s sponsors posted an item on its Web site about news coverage of the event, a reader responded that, without conservative support, “this becomes a cartoon image of the old pinko commie left, and fair game for the wingnuts at Fox.”

The lineup of speakers indeed could have been a Bill O’Reilly fantasy: Saddam Hussein’s lawyer ([Ramsey] Clark), Hugo Chavez’s friend ([Cindy] Sheehan) and the man who denied Al Gore the presidency in Florida in 2000 (Ralph Nader).

Nader, as it happens, couldn’t make it because of a death in the family. But Fox News was there — and the other speakers did not disappoint.

I respect Ramsey Clark’s decision to represent Saddam Hussein at trial, but IMO he and Nader are not part of today’s mainstream Left, and they played no part in the Netroots Uprising. And I’m afraid Sheehan has taken a wrong turn and is aligning herself with the old fringe that’s stuck in a 1970s time warp of identity politics and street theater projects and handing out fliers for the next cause du jour rally.

Frankly, I’m sick to death of that Left.

There is another Left, one that is more serious about good government than it is about making posters. And that Left is serious about winning elections. It’s also serious about building progressive coalitions that can have a real impact on making and enacting policy.

The Left Blogosphere, more than anyone else, speaks for the mainstream Left. And we are the descendants of the Progressive Era and the New Deal. The GOP wants to make us out to be the same old New Left of the 1960s, and there are plenty of people (International ANSWER, Ralph Nader, etc.) who are ready to oblige and play the role of the cartoon “pinko commie left” in front of news cameras. But IMO that’s not who we are. Not most of us, anyway.

I anticipate getting comments about how we should support other lefties instead of Bush. But though its corpse is still twitching the New Left is dead. And its baggage is holding us back. Cut it loose, I say.

It’s not 1968 any more. But note what Digby says — it’s not October 2002 any more, either.

You remember October 2002 and the Iraq war resolution. We made phone calls, sent emails, wrote letters — and the “smart” Dems, the ambitious Dems, ignored us and voted for the bleeping resolution. “The entire leadership of the party,” says Digby. The entire leadership voted for the resolution.

Yesterday was different. “Every one of them went the other way this time,” Digby writes.

Maybe it’s still calculation, but the equation has changed. John Kerry, for one, must realize that his vote in October 2002 hurt him badly in 2004. One could argue that it cost him the election. Kerry must realize that if he has any hope of another presidential nomination, he can’t do it without us. And he must realize that if he has any hope of getting elected, he can’t do it without us — the mainstream Left.

Like I said, maybe it’s calculation. But maybe the long-slumbering Winter Soldier is waking up and remembering why it was he got into politics to begin with. Jane writes,

It was a groundswell that swept me and other bloggers up and called out for direction, and somehow John Kerry heard that and he stepped into a leadership position and he gave it to us. He gave our frustrations a focus, he offered us a chance to stand up and fight regardless of the likelihood of success, and that was all we asked. He validated our efforts and he let people know that their voices were being heard in spite of the timidity gripping many of his peers.

I frankly think the passion of the netroots community surprised him. For those who want to criticize him for not acting earlier or better, I do not think he had any reason to believe that this kind of support was extant or that we would have his back. He put his neck on the line over at Kos and the Huffington Post, not knowing what was going to come back. The outpouring of gratitude that came back to him for his efforts was extremely moving.

I’m not saying I want Kerry to be the nominee, but I’m not ruling him out. Now and in the next few months we’ll find out who our real leaders are.

Digby continues,

I believe that there is finally a recognition that the Party has hit the wall. We have moved as far to the right as we can go and we have been as accommodating as we can be without thoroughly compromising our fundamental principles. Most of us are not “far left” if that means extreme policy positions. Indeed, many of us would have been seen as middle of the road not all that long ago. We are partisans and that’s a different thing all together. The leadership is recognising this.

Now, people, is the time to believe in ourselves, and to work harder. We are having an impact.

And They Think We Should Vote for Them Because … ?

By now you’ve probably heard that the Gang of 14 scuttled the Alito filibuster. But I agree with Kos; we accomplished something amazing. “The Alito vote may have fizzled,” Kos writes, “but you better believe the Dem establishment knows we exist.”

So the next step is to get more Dems in Congress. But what about the Dems who caved today? They are: Akaka (HI), Baucus (MT), Bingaman (NM), Byrd (WV), Cantwell (WA), Carper (DE), Dorgan (ND), Inouye (HI), Johnson (SD), Kohl (WI), Landrieu (LA), Lieberman (CT), Lincoln (AR), Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Pryor (AR), Rockefeller (WV), Salazar (CO).

Some argue that red state senators like Landrieu need to walk carefully, but there’s no excuse for blue staters like Lieberman to be such a toady. That’s why Ned Lamont needs to win the Connecticult Democratic senatorial primary this year.

Short takes:

Via Steve M: Fox News reports:

A new provision tucked into the Patriot Act bill now before Congress would allow authorities to haul demonstrators at any “special event of national significance” away to jail on felony charges if they are caught breaching a security perimeter.

Sen. Arlen Specter , R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sponsored the measure, which would extend the authority of the Secret Service to allow agents to arrest people who willingly or knowingly enter a restricted area at an event, even if the president or other official normally protected by the Secret Service isn’t in attendance at the time.

Rightie blogger Bruce Kesler says leftie bloggers are vulgar. Has this guy tuned in to the Rottweiller lately? And are wingers born with a hypocrisy gene, or what?

Jeanne d’Arc explains how to escape from Guantanamo: Be Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard. If you’re an innocent nobody locked up by mistake, however, be prepared to stay awhile.

Wes Clark endorses single payer. Yes!

Freedom Is Slavery, and Other Republicanisms

Here are the rules: Republicans own the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and all issues touched by the attacks. Therefore, when a Republican waves the bloody WTC tower, so to speak, to stir up emotional support for a GOP policy, that is not politicizing 9/11. Because they own 9/11, see. However, whenever a Democrat mentions 9/11 in any context, that is politicizing 9/11.

Further, wherever the GOP has used 9/11 as part of an emotional appeal for a GOP policy (which is not politicizing), Democrats may not criticize that policy. Because to do so “politicizes” the policy and is an insult to the memory of those who died on 9/11.

Further, whenever the Republicans stir up fear of terrorism to justify curbing civil liberties protected by the Bill of Rights, that is “resolve.” As in, we must be resolved to compromise our constitutional heritage and the freedoms our forefathers fought and died for, because of 9/11. To do otherwise is an example of “pre-9/11” thinking, as well as an insult to the memory of those who died on 9/11.

Whenever someone (such as a Democrat) expresses reluctance to jettison long-established civil liberties for the sake of security, that is an example of “paralyzing self-doubt.”

In the post-9/11 world we must be resolute and decisive. We must not hesitate to destroy the Bill of Rights in order to save it.

Phrases like “Article II authority,” “separation of powers” and “right to privacy” are code words for paralyzing self-doubt. We no long stand on constitutional principles in the face of events; rather, we allow events to dictate our constitutional principles. Anyone with any resolve at all knows this.

Because our President is a man of action and resolve, he doesn’t have to bother with following laws passed by Congress regarding surveillance, nor should he be expected to ask Congress to revise regulations to make them easier to follow. He can just ignore them. Anyone who wants to make the President accountable to the law is risking the lives of American citizens.

Whenever a Republican, such as Vice President Richard Cheney, claims that a controversial Bush Administration policy would have prevented the 9/11 attacks if only we’d had it sooner, that is an example of reasoned political discussion.

Whenever anyone else brings up the myriad clues we had before 9/11 that a terrorist attack involving al Qaeda cells and hijacked airplanes crashing into major landmarks like the World Trade Center, which the Bush Administration ignored, that is not reasoned political discussion. It is irresponsible discussion; nothing but ‘connect-the-dots’ reporting.”

Real Americans don’t connect dots. Connecting dots lets the terrorists win.

I must admit that before today I didn’t understand these rules. But then I read “Our Right to Security” by Debra Burlingame.

It’s all clear to me now.


Finally, someone in the “MSM” gets the Abramoff/”bipartian” scandal story straight. It’s Paul Krugman, behind the New York Times subscription firewall. Fortunately you can read the column on True Blue Liberal. It begins:

“How does one report the facts,” asked Rob Corddry on “The Daily Show,” “when the facts themselves are biased?” He explained to Jon Stewart, who played straight man, that “facts in Iraq have an anti-Bush agenda,” and therefore can’t be reported.

Mr. Corddry’s parody of journalists who believe they must be “balanced” even when the truth isn’t balanced continues, alas, to ring true. The most recent example is the peculiar determination of some news organizations to cast the scandal surrounding Jack Abramoff as “bipartisan.”

Krugman goes on to explain that Abramoff is a long-time “movement conservative” who gave money only to Republicans. “There’s nothing bipartisan about this tale, which is all about the use and abuse of Republican connections.”

What about the claim that Abramoff “directed” tribes to give money to Democrats?

… the tribes were already giving money to Democrats before Mr. Abramoff entered the picture; he persuaded them to reduce those Democratic donations, while giving much more money to Republicans. A study commissioned by The American Prospect shows that the tribes’ donations to Democrats fell by 9 percent after they hired Mr. Abramoff, while their contributions to Republicans more than doubled. So in any normal sense of the word “directed,” Mr. Abramoff directed funds away from Democrats, not toward them.

True, some Democrats who received tribal donations before Mr. Abramoff’s entrance continued to receive donations after his arrival. How, exactly, does this implicate them in Mr. Abramoff’s machinations? [emphasis added]

Abramoff’s “guidance” caused his tribal clients to loosen long-time ties to Democrats. Yet “journalists” like Katie Couric and WaPo Deborah Howell report that the Abramoff scandal is “bipartisan,” and the fact that Abramoff gave money only to Republicans is just a small, unimportant technical detail.

Why does the insistence of some journalists on calling this one-party scandal bipartisan matter? For one thing, the public is led to believe that the Abramoff affair is just Washington business as usual, which it isn’t. The scale of the scandals now coming to light, of which the Abramoff affair is just a part, dwarfs anything in living memory.

More important, this kind of misreporting makes the public feel helpless. Voters who are told, falsely, that both parties were drawn into Mr. Abramoff’s web are likely to become passive and shrug their shoulders instead of demanding reform.

So the reluctance of some journalists to report facts that, in this case, happen to have an anti-Republican agenda is a serious matter. It’s not a stretch to say that these journalists are acting as enablers for the rampant corruption that has emerged in Washington over the last decade. [emphasis added]

And, once again, that’s why I blog.

Pottymouths in PJs

This James Wolcott post is especially delicious, given my fondness (snark) for LGF — JW quotes a Los Angeles Magazine article by RJ Smith (not online) about why Pajamas Media is having trouble attracting advertisers —

Smith hones in on the primary dilemma facing PeePee Media: how to attract affluent, upscale advertisers who tend to shy away from rabid controversy to a blog mall where there are always ugly brawls breaking out near the coin fountain. Smith quotes Roger L. Simon claiming that racism, sexism, and other “stuff universally disliked” will not be verboten in their camp.

Smith: “He must have forgotten about Charles Johnson, whose Little Green Footballs believes all Muslims are terrorists until proven innocent. Slangy, clever, the site is a dysfunctional mix of beautiful photos Johnson takes on coastal bike rides and constitutionally protected hate speech.”

Smith excerpts a choice batch from a LGF hate rally in the comments section, adding drolly, “The screech you hear is the sound of a Lexus backing over a Nikon camera. Is there any corporation in the would that would pay to have its log slapped alongside such calls for slaughter?”

Tee hee.

Update: See also Tom Tomorrow.