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Saturday, April 09, 2005

Away Team 

They’re lookin’ good, these guys. Not that I feel a kindred spirit or anything, but they’re on the blogroll. See ya at the stadium, ducking batteries. Hey, it's worth it when you're watching the World Champions take it to the Evil Empire. Away… at home.

April in Iraq 

Occupation Day in Iraq isn’t quite as full of pageantry as the not-so-royal wedding in the UK, or the Papal funeral in Rome. Riverbend writes that April is the cruelest month for Iraqis.

UPDATE: See Juan Cole for detail on the demonstrations marking the anniversary. Not the pretty, pro-American picture we're led to believe, I'm afraid.

Spare the Rod and Spoil the Mad Bomber 

I have to wonder aloud if we’ll hear any screaming from the right about Eric Rudolph being offered a life sentence, instead of going through a series of capital crime trials for his bombings. Will anyone bet on whether his punishment will be greeted with less outrage than those of the juveniles whose lives where spared by the Supreme Court recently?

See Suburban Guerrilla for links to and a synopsis of yesterday’s gathering of wingers attacking Federal judges for taking account of world opinion in arriving at a definition of “cruel and unusual.”…

UPDATE: For a real scare, follow the links to Dana Milbank's Washington Post article and read some of the comments from winger panelists about disposing of Supreme Court Justices and other inconvenient jurists. These folks give heart to the Rudolfs of the world, I'm sure.

On Rolling in the Mud 

I’m going to sound like an old faart here, but anyway…

Two bits and bites from blogdom today converge in my little cruller

1) Michael Rogers from Blog Active harasses Gannon/Gluckert on CSPAN with questions about having sex with White House staffers.

2) Students pie-ing rightwingers in Indiana as they speak to conservative university audiences.

Now don’t get me wrong, the folks on the receiving end of both incidents have practiced the same low, guttersnipe tactics in their discourse and probably deserve worse than the humiliation heaped on them in these incidents. I got a little smirk reading about both stories too.

But the problem is that engaging in exactly the tactics many of us deride isn’t exactly the road to lifting American political discourse out of the gutter. Bringing the sex lives of political appointees (or Presidents, remember?) into the forefront of a discussion about fake news doesn’t exactly make the point that some news isn’t real, does it?

And however amusing, throwing lemon meringue at ideologues isn’t as satisfying as making verbal fun of their arguments. Billmon makes the point succinctly at the Whiskey Bar:

“In a civilized society, you don't physically harass or attack people for exercising their free speech rights, even if they are the vile scumsucking lackeys of crazed right-wing multimillionaires -- or even worse, David Horowitz. You just don't do it. And you particularly don't do it and then spout some fatuous nonsense about how you are protesting the absence of a "productive or meaningful dialog."

I know many in the blogosphere disagree, like Susan at Suburban Guerrilla, who believes, in Gluckert’s case, in fighting fire with fire. I understand the sentiment and the sense that it’s important to stand up to the scorched-earth tactics of the right wing defamation machine. It seems to me, however, that we’re better off fighting back by means more creative than theirs.

UPDATE: Actually, elsewhere in her post, Susan suggests a more intriguing and appropriate response to Gannon/Gluckert...simply laugh in his face, instead of treating his nonsense seriously.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Frist's 'Nuclear' Trigger May be Hard to Pull 

The Washington Times, a better barometer of Republican insider thinking than most sources, indicates that the bar may still be too high for Frist to push through the nuclear option.

"Of the 55 Republicans in the chamber, at least six are undecided or adamantly opposed to the plan of using the rare parliamentary procedure to end the filibusters with a simple majority vote, rather than the 60 votes normally required"

Nuclear Option Fallout 

Will Senator Frist use the ‘nuclear option?’

It seems less clear now than days ago whether and when Frist plans to go ahead with the move to strip Senate Democrats of the filibuster rule, allowing the Republicans to jam through approval of judicial appointees on a simple majority vote. Via Susan at Suburban Guerrilla, we refer you to this week’s The Hill on the murky subject of the Majority Leader’s goals.

“Conservative alarm surged when the Republican leadership canceled a briefing of Senate staff and activists ... The cancellation of the special meeting…left some with the impression that Frist might be backing away in the face of Democrats’ threat to retaliate by shutting down the Senate."

The same Hill article by Alexander Bolton indicates that K Street consultants have urged Frist to delay moving on the Democrats, concerned that the ‘option’ would trigger a Democratic shutdown of the Senate altogether.

It seems, on the other hand, that any possible delay or compromise in the offing will set off a maelstrom of recriminations from the more confrontational conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh and the Family Research Council.

If the option is to be used, look for it to happen as early as April 15, to force a confirmation vote on circuit court nominee Priscilla Owen. It could be quite an April storm in the Senate if this goes ahead and if not, Frist and Senate Republicans who balk are going to be in for a fratricidal struggle.

Pity.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

File This... 

President Bush yesterday ridiculed the Social Security Trust Fund by visiting the filing cabinet that houses bond certificates backing the trust. He spoke afterwards, saying, “Imagine, the retirement security for future generations is sitting in a filing cabinet.”

In an effort to beef up my own personal retirement fund, I’ve now instructed my financial advisor to take my mutual funds and cash them in. Specifically, I want the money turned into small bills, no bigger than fives. I spoke to the press after giving these instructions, saying, “Imagine, my entire retirement fund fit into one loose-leaf notebook folder. I’m taking steps to insure volume in my retirement. Next year, we’ll be investing in quarters, dimes and nickels.”

Darfur Genocide Continues, Unabated 

Today, Nicholas Kristof quotes Kenny Gluck, from Doctors without Borders, on the ineffectiveness of relief efforts in Darfur without putting a stop to the genocide there.

“…people's villages have been burned, their crops have been destroyed, their wells spiked, their family members raped, tortured and killed - and they come to us, and we give them 2,100 kilocalories a day."

Kristof comments, “In effect, Mr. Gluck said, the aid effort is sustaining victims so they can be killed with a full belly.”

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