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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Johnny Come Early

Here we are little more than five months from the November mid-term elections and the political press corps is hard at work vetting the 2008 Democratic presidential race. And the 2012 GOP field.

I guess beat reporters and the punditocracy have already played Decider and came to the conclusion the GOP revolution will end with a whimper. How else can you explain, in one week, the New York Times focusing on John Kerry's continuing (and by all accounts more energetic) effort to restore his Swift-boated reputation; examine the Clinton marriage; and opine whether Al Gore can stage a Nixonian-like comeback (subscription required).

As a recovering political reporter, I played the same poll-driven game. News consumers don't want to know about issues, we were told. Politics as personality, whether it is about who's (not) sleeping with who or the sad state of political consultancy will attract more readers. Issues? Bah humbug.

That abdication of responsibility has led to the current sorry state of American politics, where Karl "Boy Genius" or is that "Turd Blossom" Rove employs the time-honored GOP campaign tactic to "scrape the bark off the little bastard" in order to get his failed candidate elected.

Some quick observations:
  • John, spare me. The time to have defended your reputation was in 2004, when the attacks were fresh and you had a chance to actually show some leadership against Atwater strategy. It's too late now. Sit down before I decide not to vote for your re-election to the Senate in 2008.
  • Hillary, if you really want to show leadership, put your not-so-well-hidden ambitions on hold for now. What we need in 2008 is a referendum on a GOP executive and Congress that has shamed the United States at home and around the world in Iraq, New Orleans and points in between. We don't need that race overshadowed by the bark-stripping smears of the aptly named vast right-wing conspiracy.
  • Al, make your actions match your words. Keep your promise to focus on global warming and don't back off from your promise not to run.
As for the press corps -- stop going on book leaves, get your noses out of the gutter and start focusing on the issues that are tearing this country apart and dishonoring us in the eyes of the world.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

No amnesty

The increasingly bizarre world of Washington politics leads to an inescapable conclusion: there should be no amnesty for the bungling and incompetence (and likely criminality) of Republican "leadership."

The nativist bleatings of James Sensenbrenner and Tom Tancredo is actually secondary to this unraveling soap opera. The hardline GOP stance on immigration is standard operating procedure: pander to the base and raise fears in order to shift attention away from the real issue. While immigration (and border security) are legitimate subjects for the discussion, the high signal to noise ratio is cover for other failings.

And those failings are the utter meltdown of the ruling party. Let's start with the obvious: a Republican "leadership" that has caved to the White House on EVERY significant question of executive mismanagement or overstepping (illegal wiretaps, using faulty intelligence to rush to war, you know the drill) find its cojones over the issue of an FBI raid on a Democrat's House office?

Then there is this headscratcher. David Addington and Darth Cheney, two of the strongest believers that Congress exists only to blow the executive's nose, take offense to the raid on William Jefferson's office.

Denny Hastert, who could not stand up to Termite Tommy DeLay, nominally his underling, rises in full dundgeon to object to the execution of a search warrant (something that isn't necessary, in his view, to listen in on average folks). And in one of the biggest surprises of all, Hastert joins forces with Nancy Pelosi, probably for the first time in recorded history, to argue this shall not stand.

That prompts Alberto Gonzalez and William Mueller to threaten resignations unless they get their way -- and in turn forcing the Decider to act (shortly after saying his major mistake in Iraq was being Mr. Macho).

More surprising still is the political implications. Why is the hard right GOP frittering away it's chance to have some inoculation against corruption charges? The likelihood is that Jefferson would be the GOP pinata to use in defense against the Abramoff-DeLay corruption scandal.

What's in the water down there? (We know what's in Jefferson's refrigerator -- cold, hard cash.)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Straight Talk Express

How someone can go from an "agent of intolerance" to someone being worthy of courting in the search for the GOP presidential nomination is a stretch to me.

Perhaps John McCain would care to explain how this is not pandering? Even Gary Bauer knows it when he sees it.

They may be on to something

This rather unconventional poll reaches a conclusion I drew years ago.

Not sure I buy the methodology, even if the results are straight on. Nati0nal pundits take note.

Wrong direction

All the impeachment talk bubbling just below the surface is actually misdirected. As become clear with each passing day, the real person who has abused the Constitution is our #2.

It's never been a secret that Darth Cheney exerts an undo amount of influence in this administration -- from putting himself in the #2 spot to being the man on the ground and in charge on 9-11 to the secret commissions and so on ad naseum. W. has been his tool for much of the past five years.

The only reason to belabor the obvious this time is two stories appearing today that reinforce the depth of Darth's controls: the latest Scooter Libby evidence dump (do you really believe he thought Niger was a junket?) as well as the latest on the NSA's decision to spy on average American citizens.

The saddest thing is the outrage fatigue that has settled in on this country, coupled with the venal incompetence of Congress, prevents any significant steps to address the rape of the Constitution perpetrated by this "moral" administration.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Let's change the subject

Let's see: The polls are tanking; there's a rising stink about terrorism surveillance; the wheels are coming off the wagon in Congress and in part of the West Wing. Karl is on the hot seat. How can I change the subject?

I got it: put the National Guard on the Mexican border to protect us from all those al Qaeda types coming up from the south. They're not Arabs, but Mexicans looking for a better job and a better life, once known as the American Dream? So what! We can an election that we need to win with a diversion.

Is W. that cynical. You bet!

The tried and true GOP tactic of pandering and fear-mongering will be served up Monday night, live from the Oval Office. W.'s latest "compromise" on the immigration issue is a doozy -- no walls, just people.

A couple of key questions: isn't the National Guard under the control of individual states. So how do you send the Massachusetts guard to Texas? Aren't we really short on Guard troops and equipment because they are carrying the fight in Iraq? Who is going to pitch in when the next hurricane hits? Prayer alone won't be enough.

Faced with all these contradictions, the Bush folks aim for the only lifeline that matters: the true believers. Those who are ready to bail because Congress hasn't banned homosexuality (let along gay marriage) need some red meat and immigration is the answer.

So keep that in mind when the Pompous Pontificator (or is that the Deadly Decider?) speaks from the Oval Office. With this proposal to post troops on the border, he's trying to keep red meat conservatives in the party and not worrying about keeping out al Qaeda (or Mexicans).

Rove Rule #1: When in trouble -- pander.

T is for two-faced

A pretty good Machiavellian take on the proposed T fare hike in this week's Phoenix.

Why can't the Globe do this kind of reporting? Or the People's Voice, aka the Herald?

Now for the rest of the story....

We're starting to understand why Porter Goss was dumped so quickly and so unceremoniously.

It seems that while the CIA can't really get the scoop on weapons of mass destruction, it is fairly good at double dealing with upstanding citizens like Brent Wilkes.

The ultimate irony is that Mr. Foggo (great name for a spook, dontcha think?) was only good at one thing. Firing leakers and tightening agency publication rules. In other words, he was good at keeping secrets from the American people, not finding secrets that could be used to protect Americans.

Just go away, please

Memo to Mitt: Go away before you do anything else that shows how totally clueless you are about life in the state you profess to govern.

The baseless pandering (or is that pandering to the base) involved in his flip-flop decision to kill, then spare the Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth is reflective of how out-of-touch he is on day-to-day functions of his state.

The pathetic second-day efforts by his Loathsome $150,000 a year spokesman (thanks Ben, please come back!) to make it into an issue about cross-dressing, highlights the bottom line remains unchanged: Massachusetts is a foil for Mitt's presidential ambitions.

The charge to the commission to not spend its money on the parade is specious because it does not contribute to it. But what can you expect from a governor who fires a lesbian department head because her agency did not do a job that it had no responsibility for?

Worst news for Mitt about this episode: It ain't working yet. He's trailing in Utah!

Phoning it in

The questions raised by the latest "domestic terrorist surveillance" revelation (that means you and me, by the way) is less about the actual data released than the act itself and what it symbolizes.

Only computers can love billions of phone numbers and on its own the data is quite harmless. That of course, gives the Constitution-bending Bushies the small opening the need to grotesquely violate the privacy of millions of Americans and teeter up to the edge of breaking both the 4th and 5th amendments in this non-lawyer's view.

We're all familiar with data-mining. It's the largest source of junk mail, annoying phone call and e-mails. In the wrong hands, like say the NSA's, it can lead to massive intrusions on privacy. Just how hard is it to match a name and a phone number in any online reverse directory?

It's frightening when only one telephone company executive sees a problem with this massive information grab. More troubling is whether anyone in Congress will see a problem.

Coming on top of the earlier revelations (and wordsmithing) about the surveillance of "international" phone calls, it's not surprising "conservatives" are howling about leaking valuable national security information.

That weak defense is the only thing they can come up with to explain this massive intrusion of government into the lives of private citizens. That and fear-mongering about terrorists and immigrants, of course -- more on that shortly).

Arlen, you keep promising hearings up the wazoo. It's time to put up or shut up.

Clear the shrubbery

Here's a call for the next constitutional amendment -- one that bars more than two members of a family from serving as president.

Jeb Bush would make a great president? Hasn't that family done enough to this country?

How about Neil Bush? When you're old and irresponsible, you're old and irresponsible.

I'll happily skip President Hillary to avoid another Bush. It would certainly be our last president.