Sunday, April 30, 2006

Speaking truthiness to power

Stephen Colbert's Colbert Report is one of the few (along with Jon Stewart and Keith Olberman) "must-see" shows in the CaliBlogger household. And here's yet another reason why.

At this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner, Colbert, serving as headliner, and with guests including the cream of the DC power elite, up to and including George W. and Laura Bush, pulled exactly ZERO punches in his, as usual biting satire on the state of the nation.

Needless to say, King George, his royal consort, and a fair number of DC power brokers were, shall we say, less than pleased.

And, of course, the loyal lapdogs of the wingnut blogosphere are busily excoriating Colbert's performance even as I type.

Which only proves the point, if the right hates something this much, isn't that de facto evidence of its value?

But don't take my word for it, DemocraticUnderground has the video here. Frederick, posts the transcript at DailyKos. And Joe Gandelman has a nice overview, plus exerpts and links to commentary from around the blogoshpere at The Moderate Voice.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Can't we just call it Watergate-gate?

Better and better.

Just when you think the self-immolation of the Republican party couldn't be more complete, another revelation crops up to add yet more evidence of GOP corruption.

In fact, the only element that's been missing from the DeLay-Abramoff-Cunningham-Safavian-AIPAC-Rumsfeld-Brownie, et alia, et alia set of GOP greed, corruption, incompetence, & c., & c. story, has been the one thing that REALLY catches the public's attention: sex.

Courtesy of my erstwhile hometown paper, the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Federal prosecutors are reviewing records of two Washington, D.C., hotels where Poway defense contractor Brent Wilkes rented suites as part of their investigation into whether prostitutes were involved as he tried to curry favor with lawmakers and CIA officials.

Wilkes, whom federal prosecutors have identified as a co-conspirator in the bribery case of former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, rented hospitality suites in the capital on behalf of his flagship company, ADCS Inc.

As The San Diego Union-Tribune reported in December, the suites – first at the Watergate Hotel and then at the Westin Grand Hotel – had several bedrooms where lawmakers and other guests could relax.

Federal investigators are trying to determine whether Cunningham and other legislators brought prostitutes to the hotels or prostitutes were provided for them there, according to a report in yesterday's Wall Street Journal that was confirmed by the Union-Tribune. [Emphasis mine-SK]

I love the last line highlighted: are trying to determine whether Cunningham and other legislators brought prostitutes to the hotels or prostitutes were provided for them there. Think about it.

Yep, that's the controversy, did Wilkes et al. provide the hookers for the congresscritters, or did they bring them themselves?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Email humor making the rounds

Stop me if you've heard this one:

George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld are flying on Air Force One.

The President looks at the Vice President, chuckles, and says, "You know, I could throw a $1,000 bill out the window right now and make somebody very happy."

The Vice President shrugs and says, "Well, I could throw 10 $100 bills out the window and make 10 people very happy."

Not to be outdone, the Secretary of Defense says, "Of course, then, I could throw 100 $10 bills out the window and make a hundred people very happy."

The pilot rolls his eyes and says to his co-pilot, "Such arrogant asses back there. Hell, I could throw the three of them out the window and make 6 billion people unbelievably happy."

via Needlenose

A Vision for the Democratic Party

For much of my life I've considered myself politically independent, and typically to the left of either major party. In fact, though I'm now ashamed to admit it, I didn't even vote in the 2000 presidential election.

But then Bush happened, and I realized that the only hope for getting rid of this fool, criminal, satanic minion fellow was by supporting the opposing party.

And so, in 2004, after initially supporting Howard Dean, I held my nose and voted for Kerry.

And we all know how well that turned out.

Now it may well be that Republican depredations and incompetence have grown so great that Democrats can win simply by pointing out that hey, at least they're not Republicans.

But would it not be better to take the opportunity of the GOP collapse to establish a more lasting Democratic and progressive ethos? To shift the center a little back to the left?

In an important article in The American Prospect (which you should read in full here) Prospect editor Michael Tomasky makes the case for a unifying principle for today's Democratic party.

For many years -- during their years of dominance and success, the period of the New Deal up through the first part of the Great Society -- the Democrats practiced a brand of liberalism quite different from today’s. Yes, it certainly sought to expand both rights and prosperity. But it did something more: That liberalism was built around the idea -- the philosophical principle -- that citizens should be called upon to look beyond their own self-interest and work for a greater common interest.

This, historically, is the moral basis of liberal governance -- not justice, not equality, not rights, not diversity, not government, and not even prosperity or opportunity. Liberal governance is about demanding of citizens that they balance self-interest with common interest. Any rank-and-file liberal is a liberal because she or he somehow or another, through reading or experience or both, came to believe in this principle. And every leading Democrat became a Democrat because on some level, she or he believes this, too. [Emphasis mine - SK]

Mr. Tomasky's essay and argument needs to be read in full to be appreciated (yes, I know it's long, but it may be one of the most important essays you'll read this year). But the gist is this, that to be truly successful, the Democratic party has to move away from the simple single-issue, litmus test sort of politics to which it has become addicted. And, equally important, those single-issue groups so accustomed to guiding Democratic politics need to recognize their own self-interest in promoting a broader set of Democratic goals.
Interest groups need to start thinking in common-good terms. Much of the work done by these groups, and many of their goals, are laudable. But if they can’t justify that work and those goals in more universalist terms rather than particularist ones, then they just shouldn’t be taken seriously. Immigration policy can’t be chiefly about the rights of undocumented immigrants; it needs to be about what’s good for the country. Similarly with civil-rights policy -- affirmative action, say, which will surely be up for review one day again when a case reaches the Roberts court. As I noted above, when talking about Gingrich’s failure in 1995, there exist powerful common-good arguments for affirmative action. In addition to the idea that diversity enriches private-sector environments, affirmative action has been the most important single factor in the last 40 years in the broad expansion of the black middle class, which in turn (as more blacks and whites work and live together) has dramatically improved race relations in this county, which has been good, as LBJ would put it, for every American.

As Mr. Tomasky puts it, the common good is common sense. It also happens to stand in sharp contrast to the every man for himself, social Darwinism that characterizes the modern Republican party.

And wouldn't it be nice, the next time your annoying Naderite friend starts ranting as to how the two parties are the same, to be able to contradict him?

And wouldn't it be nice to vote without holding your nose?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Whitehouse "shake-up"

Scotty's gone, Bush's brain to be freed up to focus more on politics than on policy (yeah right), but until BushCorp™ manages to let some top officials "seek opportunities in the private sector" or "spend more time with their families" nothing will change, in either the direction of the country, or in the standing (now a new low) of the Bush administration.

Of course the early retirements most beneficial would be that of Bush and his veep themselves. But failing that, the BushCorp™ official who's most obviously outlived his shelf life is Donald Rumsfeld.

Unfortunately, I believe Rummy's here to stay, and I think Josh has the right of it:

With Rumsfeld, or any other cabinet secretary, there's a related problem -- the importance of which has, I think, not been fully appreciated or aired. If Rumsfeld goes, you need to nominate someone else and get them through a senate confirmation. That means an open airing of the disaster of this administration's national security policy. Every particular; all about Iraq. Think how much they don't want that ...

And I'll repeat: Think about how much they don't want that.