Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Is D.C. becoming a one-party town?

Howie Kurtz is actually good today, writing about the Republican Machine (no, not Fox News). Actually, Kurtz isn’t good, but he quotes very extensively from Nicholas Confessore’s Washington Monthy story:

“Today, the GOP holds a two-to-one advantage in corporate cash. That shift in large part explains conservatives’ extraordinary legislative record over the last few years. Democrats, along with the press, have watched in mounting disbelief as President Bush, lacking either broad majorities in Congress or a strong mandate from voters, has enacted startlingly bold domestic policies–from two major tax cuts for the rich, to a rollback of workplace safety and environmental standards, to media ownership rules that favor large conglomerates. The secret to Bush’s surprising legislative success is the GOP’s increasing control of Beltway influence-peddlers. K Street used to be a barrier to sweeping change in Washington. The GOP has turned it into a weapon.”


UPDATE: Roger Ailes, who’s been really good of late, has the right take on Kurtz’s piece: “Howie has also broken the story that cable news is covering the Laci Peterson murder a lot. A lesser scribe would have missed that story completely.”

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Feeding the Base

There’s a nice NYT story today, Bush, Looking to His Right, Shores Up Support for 2004, describing how Right wing base is quite happy with Bush II. For example,

–David A. Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, said: “In the first Bush administration, the conservatives were asked to be spectators — and it was hoped that they would applaud the action in the field. In this one, they have a president who wants them to be part of the team.”

–“Just about every conservative is thrilled with a president who tells the U.N. to take a hike,” said Nelson Warfield, a conservative strategist.

Also providing fawning quotes are Grover Norquist and Wayne LaPierre of the NRA; Steven Moore of the Club for Growth is a bit angry over the impending prescription drug benefit, but otherwise quite pleased with Bush. The NYT has to go to the Libertarian Cato Institute for an honest assessment:

“His fiscal record is appalling — spending is out of control,” said Edward H. Crane, president of the Cato Institute, a libertarian research organization. “The fiscal record of the Bush administration makes Clinton look downright responsible.”

And here’s hoping that pride goeth before a fall:

“The Republicans are looking at decades of dominance in the House and the Senate, and having the presidency with some regularity,” Mr. Norquist said. “So if this year the tax cut isn’t the one we wanted — no biggie. There’s a sense that we can afford to wait.”

Take that, John Judis and Ruy Teixeira.


UPDATE: Speaking of Teixeira, he’s got a blog now: Donkey Rising.

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Sodomy and the Pledge of Allegiance

An unlikely connection, but here goes. One part of yesterday’s ruling struck me as interesting:

(b) Having misapprehended the liberty claim presented to it, the Bowers Court stated that proscriptions against sodomy have ancient roots. 478 U. S., at 192. It should be noted, however, that there is no longstanding history in this country of laws directed at homosexual conduct as a distinct matter. Early American sodomy laws were not directed at homosexuals as such but instead sought to prohibit nonprocreative sexual activity more generally, whether between men and women or men and men. Moreover, early sodomy laws seem not to have been enforced against consenting adults acting in private. Instead, sodomy prosecutions often involved predatory acts against those who could not or did not consent: relations between men and minor girls or boys, between adults involving force, between adults implicating disparity in status, or between men and animals. The longstanding criminal prohibition of homosexual sodomy upon which Bowers placed such reliance is as consistent with a general condemnation of nonprocreative sex as it is with an established tradition of prosecuting acts because of their homosexual character. Far from possessing “ancient roots,” ibid., American laws targeting same-sex couples did not develop until the last third of the 20th century.

The implicit reasoning seems to be along the lines of if something is constitutionally questionable but it dates back to the American Revolution or thereabouts, then it’s ok. But if it’s constitutionally questionable and originated in the 20th century, then the court will strike it down. This logic suggests that this Supreme Court would be likely to uphold, by a 6-3 vote, the 9th Circuit’s ruling that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in schools, when the Pledge contains “under God”, is unconstitutional, since “under God” was added in 1954. Of course the sodomy case was ruled under equal protection grounds while the Pledge case involves the establishment clause (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”).


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Back to Normal

That was fun, now back to my regularly scheduled programming of not noticing the little f*ck’s existence. BTW, if you run a Google search of “Michael Savage”, the number 3 hit is Savage Stupidity, followed by Michael Savage The #2 hit is also a parody site. The objective is to keep linking to these sites until they surpass (that’s not the URL, but I’m not linking to as the top Google hit for “michael savage”.

Also, I wish more–or even some–conservative bloggers had joined in. Seriously, most of us moderate lefties (and even the extreme lefties) vigorously repudiate ANSWER–can’t some Righties do the same with Savage?

Finally, Via Blah3, here’s the most comprehensive list of appropriators I’ve found, give them all a hand! And props to Neal Pollack for taking the initiative.

Angry Bear, Ann Slanders, Army Of Fun, Atrios, Bag Times, Big Picnic, Bitter Obscurity, Blah3, Bunsen, Bush Is A Moron, Deckie Holmes, Duckwing., For Freedom Century, Fengi, Haypenny, Genoan Sailor
I Am The Man Who Will Fight For Your Honor, Left Pedal, Liberal Media Conspiracy, Like Father Like Sun, Lisa Rocci, Matthew Tobey, Max Sawicky, Michael Savage’s Only Official Website, Monkeytime, Mykeru, Nurse Ratched’s Notebook, Off the Kuff, Pandagon, Rashomon, Rob Curran, Sam Heldman, Savage Ass Rape, Savage Cruel Bigots, Suckful, Shared Thought, South Knox Bubba, Ted Barlow, The Daily Harrumph, The Donkeypissonian, The Funny Farm, The Plunketts, Utter Wonder, Warblogger Watch, Yankee Pot Roast, and Yar’s Revenge


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A Picture Tells a Thousand Words

Remember, these graphs only go through 2000, so this is before the Bush tax cuts. Still, these wealthy people stand to lose a lot more from a crappy economy than they stand to gain from Bush’s tax cuts–but when will they figure this out? Go read the whole NYT story. And hell, I pay an effective tax rate a bit over 20%, the same as 400 wealthiest taxpayers paid in 2000.


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Flood the Jackass Zone

I tend to ignore Michael Weiner (who you may know as Michael Savage) because anyone who would listen to him for more than two minutes is beyond reason or redemtion. My initial take when MSNBC hired him was to highlight the obvious:

“Michael Savage is a jackass…I guess that makes the decision-makers at MSNBC objectively pro-jackass.”

Surprisingly, in spite of terrible ratings, to date MSNBC is maintaning its objectively pro-jackass stance.

A few things to note about Michael Weiner: 1. Changed his last name to “Savage”, 2. Visits wax museums to get a photo of him touching Barbra Streisand’s breast (it’s true–check near the bottom of his homepage if you are so inclined), and 3. Is obsessed with phallic symbols guns. All of these can lead to only one conclusion: a chronic and severe inability to interact romantically with women, a condition exacerbated by a particularly virulent strain of ClenisTM envy.


P.S. If you are wondering why so many blogs have Savage/Weiner related posts today, click here and then here.

Here are the sites that are being sued: Take Back The Media, Michael Savage Sucks, and Savage Stupidity. Give them a visit and a buck or two.

UPDATE: Partial list of sites appropriating “Savage” for their own purposes: Ted Barlow, Neal Pollack, South Knox Bubba, Jesse, Atrios. Dwight Meredith has a brief explanation of why Savage deserves scorn, here.

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Failing the Hillary Test

By now you have probably heard about the latest move by the Senate Rules Committee: passing, in a voice vote in which no Democrats were present, a measure proposed by Bill Frist to “provide for a series of cloture votes, where the threshold would gradually decrease until only a simple majority is required to overcome it [a filibuster of a judicial nominee].” Fortunately, as The Hill reports, “Under Senate rules, a two-thirds majority vote is required to overcome a filibuster of a rules change, giving a disciplined minority the ability to stop the GOP effort in its tracks.” So the Democrats will have to filibuster the Republican’s anti-filibuster measure in order to continue the Democratic filibuster of Bush’s far-right nominees to the Appellate Courts.

So it’s probably much ado about nothing, but the Republicans really are huffing and puffing over this issue. I suggest they take the Hillary TestTM, which I believe was originally used in the context of the Patriot Act’s substantial expansion of the Attorney General’s power:

Would you want Hillary Clinton to have these powers if she were Attorney General?

I recommend that Republicans think carefully about this Hillary test:

Would you want to rule out the filibuster option if Hillary Clinton were Senate Majority Leader?

I’m pretty sure the answer is “No!”


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More on Web Page Seizures

Earlier, I commented on the Justice Department seizing (pre-trial) a web site that has information on how to pirate X-Box and PlayStation games, and then redirecting visitors to a DOJ site. A ZDNET commentary has a bit more:

That’s why we should think twice before applauding this trend in police power. One reason is that the Justice Department’s privacy policy allows it to hand over information it collects from people visiting seized Web sites to “appropriate law enforcement officials” for criminal prosecution.

It’s possible to imagine a scenario where an innocent Web visitor becomes unfairly targeted by the Feds. It’s legal to browse the Web for information about illegal drugs and even legal to read about bypassing copy-protection technology (though under the DMCA, researchers writing such papers may have cause for concern). But in a newly security-conscious climate, the Justice Department may not be terribly sensitive to Americans’ First Amendment rights and may assume the worst about visitors to its collection of seized domains.

What’s more, the Justice Department is able to review the search terms that people type in before connecting to the seized site from search engines such as Google or AltaVista. That’s because Web protocols pass the search terms to the destination site in the Referer: header.


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