Saturday, February 16, 2008

Saturday Treat: Nutella Ice Cream

No politics today. Instead, a delightful food blogger, French, with eclectic humor.
For instance:
"Did you know woolly mammoths had a flap of hairy skin over their anus to keep out the cold? Can you think of a more endearing feature? or a more appropriate topic to discuss with your V-Day date?"

Now, go read her for a little while, learn how to make Nutella ice cream and forget all our troubles for a while.

Friday, February 15, 2008

ACTION ALERT (sigh, again)

There are so many petitions out there, I can barely keep up.
Here's one from the ACLU telling House leaders to stand tough against telecom immunity and stand tall for principles, like, er, the Fourth Amendment.

New Man, New Woman

There's a Democratic candidate in Texas mounting a campaign against Neanderthal Republican Sen. John Cornryn.
Rick Noriega is an active National Guard member, Afganistan veteran, and it looks like Cornryn is trying to Swiftboat him.
You can sign a petition regarding this tactic here.

You can read more about it here.

Another Good Woman
I don't want to discourage anyone from working for or donating to Darcy Burner in Washington, but I think she's going to beat Dave ("I vote the way they tell me") Reichert.
And there are other great people like Donna Edwards of Maryland who recently beat a corrupt incumbent Demo.
One of them is Dr. Victoria Wulsin, running against "mean" Jean Schmidt in Ohio.
Give her a look here. Every few bucks counts.


Wednesday, it was Harry Reid. Today, Pat Leahy sent me a letter.
I'm tight with these guys, I tell ya.
Leahy wants me to send his news out to all my friends.
He says the best way to a decent surveillance bill is to set up a conference committee between the House and the Senate.
I think that's what Sylvester Reyes and John Conyers are up to already, but just in case not,
here's where to go to easily get word to your senators and representatives.

No, You Can't

Where did this come from? Try Viral Videos.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Alert: Dems Grow Ovaries

The Bipartisan Blues

First verse:

Woke up dis monin'

And all de R's was gone

Walk out te chamber while I was sleepin'

All time cryin' for a bone


A bone, dey cry, a bone

Gib us a goddam bone

Gib us spyin' 'n lyin' 'n denyin'

We keep tryin'

Gib us dat goddam bone

Second verse:

No, sayd da Dems

No way today

Jes go way

No mo playin' yo way

Jes go way

And so, dey did. All ob 'em.

Okay, so it may not win a Grammy but I felt today (and starting yesterday) that finally, finally the mist was dispersing and congressional Democrats' basic intent was beginning to be clear.
They had set up the Republicans for three big losses, Shrubya was left sputtering for the second day in front of the cameras, even promising to postpone his trip to Africa if only, if only, House Democrats would see their way clear to give their approval to the Senate surveillance bill and include retroactive immunity for telecoms that helped him practice illegal wiretapping of Americans.
If not that, at least extend the current bad surveillance bill, he pleaded, or something much worse than 9/11 could happen. That was a lie, of course.
The Dems refused to take up the bad Senate bill, they ignored another extension of the current operating legislation after Republicans inexplicably joined with a few Dems to reject extension the day before. It will expire, but there are provisions in the new and old laws that do not prevent surveillance already in place, and only requires, heh-heh, a warrant to initiate new ones. No free pass for AT&T or Verizon this time.
And then, to top it all off, the Dems — and three Republicans — gave leadership permission to sue Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten for contempt of Congress.
That was the final blow for the R's, who walked out in protest. The two contempt measures passed anyway.
The netroots — progressive bloggers and commenters — have been railing for many months against Democratic leader for their cowardice, their go-along attitude towards the minority party, their fear of the fearmongers.
But maybe it was in the plans all along to let it build to this drama.
Anyway, today my head is exploding in joy and gratitude.
Congress is now in recess for 12 days.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

FISA and Torture and Contempt, Oh My

Democrats=Backbone Dept.

Late word out of the House on Wednesday is Nancy Pelosi's statement that the Protect America Act will likely expire Friday night and it's all the recalcitrant Republicans' fault.
So despite the Senate's willingness — with the help of 12 Democrats — to approve a bill on Tuesday giving retroactive immunity to telecoms (and legal cover to the Bush administration) for earlier illegal wiretapping, the House defeated an effort to replace its much better and already approved bill with the Senate travesty.
But, again with the help of some Democrats, members also rejected an extension of the current terrible surveillance legislation approved in a hurry under a cloud of fear in August. So that expires on Friday.
There was such a flurry of activity that I'm positively breathless.
Bottom line: House Dems to Shrubya: FU
'Bout time, eh?
Unless they take it all back in the next two days.
The Senate approved a report that requires the CIA to abide by the same anti-torture regulations as the military. No more waterboarding, boyos, no matter if some Justice Dept. tells you it's okay.
A bill to direct the Speaker of the House to pursue a lawsuit against former White House officials Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten for hiding behind executive privilege and refusing to testify before Congress about its involvement in the firing of U.S. Attorneys who balked over pursuing specious voter fraud cases was dropped onto the House floor today.
Democrats have the majority, so it's expected to pass.
But what if a court disagrees? We'll see.

My take? This stuff has been cooking in the cloakrooms for a long time with lots of sturm and drang in the netroots over Dems footdragging. But to tell the truth, I suspect there's been a lot of strategy and tactics involved in all of it, some bad, some good. But now, it all looks pretty good.
P.S. There's another war funding bill brewing. Hmmm. Election year. 60 % hate the war. Well, I can dream, can't I?

He Has Black Relatives? I'm Shocked. Shocked.

Barack Hussein Osama bin Laden Obama Dept.
According to Wonkette's sources, the Christian Right is way ahead of that October Surprise stuff, warning their devoted followers of the dangers that lurk in the favored Democratic candidate's extended family of turrerists.
Wonkie doesn't link to the original, why encourage them, so I won't either.

Shameless Pandering...But Also, FISA

Update below
You may have noticed there's an adsense ad up on my blog today for Credo Mobile (yesterday it was Ann Coulter, go figure), which means their algorithms must work pretty good, since Credo, which used to be Working Assets, offers phone service with special appeal to political progressives. It gives 1% percent of profits to progressive causes and claims to have disbursed $50 million since 1985. More than I've given, for sure.
Anyway, I can't use Credo because I live in a black hole so cell phone is pointless most of the time.
But, here's something even better, signing up with Credo is being suggested by netroots denizens as a protest against AT&T and Verizon, the two companies who've spent millions lobbying for — and winning — retroactive immunity for their cooperation with illegal government wiretapping that we now know went back to Feb. 2001, long before 9/11.
We know that because it showed up several weeks ago in depositions in the lawsuit by the former CEO of QWest, who believes he was punished for refusing to cooperate.
In the meantime, 21 so-called Blue Dog Dems in the House sent a letter last week pledging to support the horrible surveillance bill that passed the Senate yesterday, which among other things, gives the telecoms the immunity they and Shrubya and the Dark Lord wanted to protect not only their corporate enablers but themselves from the 40 or so lawsuits out there by ordinary people and public advocates like the ACLU and the Electronic Freedom Foundation challenging the legality of what they did.
Retroactive immunity means those suits will be dismissed unless the whole thing lands before the Supremes, which Russ Feingold has said he believes will eventually happen.

Where was I? Oh, go to Credo's Web site for more info and consider this form of protest. If you choose it, write a nasty letter to your carrier and tell them why.

FISA Update 3:40 p.m.
Reuters reports that the House has rejected a three-week extension of the Protect America Act, a proposal from Senate Majority leader Harry Reid to forestall a total cave on the retroactive immunity issue in surveillance legislation.
Speculation is that the House will okay the horrible Senate bill passed on Tuesday.
If not, the whole thing expires on Saturday. It may be up to House leadership to stall with everything going back to Square One. The R's will accuse the D's of being soft on terror, but what else is new?
See Action Alert in right column for House petition.

Harry Reid and Me. Tight.

Short notice, but take a stand against torture here.
Updated Below
Dear Julie,

Tomorrow, I will bring the Intelligence Authorization Conference Report to the floor of the Senate. Section 327 of the bill establishes one interrogation standard for the entire U.S. government. This would effectively end torture by requiring that the intelligence community abide by the standards articulated in the Army Field Manual.

In order to attempt to block the ban on torture, Republicans may filibuster the bill or raise a point of order, claiming the torture provision violates the rules of the Senate. If the Parliamentarian agrees, we will be forced to try and waive the point of order. Either way we need 60 votes.

Already some Republicans have signaled they will side with us - however we need more.

Take a stand against torture

Every Senator will be forced to answer a simple question: do they support torture?

Do they support torture even though they know it is morally repugnant?

Do they support torture even though they know it puts our own Soldiers, Sailors and Marines at risk?

We are a nation at war -- a war in Iraq and a war against terrorism -- but this war does not give our leaders the authority to cast aside the laws of armed conflict. We need to restore our nation's moral authority, because the most effective way to fight terrorism is to harness all of our power - military, economic, and moral. When we do, the world will follow our lead once again.

It may take years, but we can start by declaring loudly, and with one voice: America does not torture.

Take a stand against torture

If we fail to oppose an evil as obvious as torture -- and it is an evil, then as Thomas Jefferson said, I will "tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just." By passing this bill we can send a clear signal to the world that America does not torture - no ifs, ands or buts.

Take a stand against torture

Thank You,

Harry Reid

Updated 3:13 p.m.

You're Welcome, Harry
Senate Votes to Ban Harsh Interrogations

Published: February 13, 2008

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted 51 to 45 on Wednesday afternoon to ban waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods used by the Central Intelligence Agency against high-level terrorism suspects.

Senate Republicans generally opposed the bill, but several of them also did not want to cast a vote that could be construed as supporting torture, and so were relying on President Bush to make good on a threat to veto legislation limiting C.I.A. interrogation techniques.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

There's a Woman in Maryland

named Donna Edwards, a single mother who overcame struggles to become a lawyer. Edwards is an anti-war Democrat who nearly toppled longtime entrenched and corrupt DINO (Democrat in name only) Al Wynn in District 4 two years ago.
She's been one of the stars of the Act Blue campaign to elect more and better Democrats, "primary" the bad ones out of office. Yay, netroots, who raised more than half the approximate $400,000 she got for her campaign.
On Tuesday, she beat Wynn in the primary, 55 to 39 percent, despite the fact that Wynn got a sudden influx of $150,000 in so-called "walking-around money" from his corporate buddies the day before the primary. Walking around money is used to pay off your helpers in the district.
I gave Donna $25 a couple months ago, and I'm proud of that. It's a Democratic district, she's not likely to need any extraordinary help to win the general in November.

"Then They Came for the Bloggers"

That was the best comment of the night to news that three more people are fired from the Clinton campaign, two of whom were members of the internet team.
Oh yeah, more Virginians voted for Obama than voted for Clinton and McCain combined.
But you already know how the Potomac Primaries turned out, right?
They're calling the big primaries in Ohio and Texas March 4 and Pennsylvania April 22 (OPT they're tagged) Hillary's must wins, and she must win by significant numbers to have any credibility with the superdelegates who are watching closely.
In the meantime, Wisconsin, Hawaii and North Carolina, all of which Obama is expected to win as well.

FISA Redux

Okay, so here's what happened today. The Senate, with the help of a slew of Democrats, rejected every amendment to the terrible Protect America Act, including the Dodd/Feingold measure to strip telecom immunity from the bill.
Mcjoan at Daily Kos reports that Sen. Chris Dodd has concluded a filibuster at this time is pointless, and is putting his faith in the conference committee with the House, which passed a much better bill without immunity.
If what comes out of conference committee is still unacceptable, Dodd has promised to filibuster when it hits the Senate floor.
But remember, Sen. Russ Feingold said a week or so ago, that he expects a bad bill to succeed and end up in court.
But in the meantime, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid has filed to extend the PAA an additional 15 days, maybe winning time on this crucial Constitutional issue.

Update 2:46 pm

Glenn Greenwald and Firedoglake have a new FISA petition to the House members here:

Greenwald has been consistently eloquent about this travesty.
In today's piece, the Money Quote: 1973, The Washington Post won the Pulitzer Prize for its work in uncovering the Watergate abuses, and that led to what would have been the imminent bipartisan impeachment of the President until he was forced to resign in disgrace. By stark and depressing contrast, in 2006, Jim Risen, Eric Lichtblau and the NYT won Pulitzer Prizes for their work in uncovering illegal spying on Americans at the highest levels of the Government, and that led to bipartisan legislation to legalize the illegal spying programs and provide full-scale retroactive amnesty for the lawbreakers. That's the difference between a country operating under the rule of law and one that is governed by lawlessness and lawbreaking license for the politically powerful and well-connected.

Coffee, With Sugar Please

Ah, ain't science grand!
Caffeine does, in fact, enhance your cognitive function and seems also to help prevent Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Even better taken with sugar. And, erm, nicotine.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Yeah, it's FISA again

I wasn't planning on alerting people about FISA anymore, because I perhaps wrongly believed it was past the point of citizen influence. But I respect and admire Sen. Pat Leahy, he's going to join Dodd in a filibuster on the retroactive immunity for telecoms issue, and he says he wants to hear from us.
So, here's his link to another petition.

NOTE: Everthing I used to send out as Action Alerts to a short list of email subscribers will now be found on this blog. Just check the Labels list to the right on the front page, all will be found at the top under the heading Action Alert with the most recent first. Just click on it and you'll find the list of items with links.

One Caucus Experience: Bremerton

A reader writes:

The Bremerton High School was packed, the classrooms were packed when we split up into our precincts. The guy who ran our precinct last time said the turnout was double. We went 2 Hillary, 9 Obama, 1 undecided (after half the people went home, we discovered there was no 15% rule - so they quick took a delegate from Obama and found a delegate and an alternate for the undecideds).

Some discussion to try to convert the undecideds. Folks didn't seem all that informed about the issues - mostly it was gut feelings about the candidates.

A few interesting folks - we had three first time voters -ages 23, 20, and 19 - all for Obama. Folks were saying that they're the future - so if Obama can pull them in and get them to care about politics, that makes Obama even more important. I thought all the younger generations were lost causes after the boomers. I read something yesterday about Gen Xers (I can't remember what ages X and Y are) being a lost cause, but the Millenium Generation ('84-'03?) are movers and shakers. So, we have a delegate who's 20, has a pierced nose and big ubangee earrings stretching out his earlobes!

Someone else said that the independents will control the outcome - and Hillary can't attract them, but Obama can.

We also had an organizer from Chicago who worked with Obama years ago. I can't recall the issue (they were trying to rush him - I wanted to hear his story). I recall something about needing a million dollars and 5 factories closing in conservative southern Illinois. And Obama snapped his fingers and raised the million. He asked Obama to go down to southern Illinois - and he did - and this guy's bigoted uncle in southern Illinois voted for Obama. Impressed the hell out of this guy.

One of the nurses at the jail last night says the kids grew up with integrated schools - via non-contentious busing and voluntary
school choice - so they grew up with more diversity - and race is just a non-issue with them. Cool? One of the other nurses grew up in Virginia (he's 50
yrs old) - with a high school football team that blacks weren't allowed to join. He was there when it integrated (the Remember the Titans movie with Denzel Washington!)

Viral Videos

You have to see this

to get this

BTW, more than 200,000 people attended the Democratic caucuses in Washington on Saturday. About 13,500 attended the Republican caucuses.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Neocons are Coming

I haven't done enough reading about the neocons and their influence on Democratic candidates' foreign policy advisors. But I'm going to this week.
Here's why: "While President Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Richard Holbrooke and others can count the take-down of Slobodan Milosevic and the containment of Serbia as a victory today -- it nonetheless is increasingly being referred to by some Dems as "regime change done right".

This ethic is gaining real traction in Democratic circles -- and has a bunch of chairs at the foreign policy advisory tables of both Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton."
We need to remember:"The neoconservative story is one that is very important to understand -- because America will relive it, and we need to know next time what strategies work to curtail the ideologically seductive bravado of militant utopians on either side of the aisle."

I'll start by following Steve Clemons' links here.

Lose Weight: Shake Your Booty

Weight-loss machine
Clinton Rubin and colleagues at the State University of New York in Stony Brook claim to have made the extraordinary discovery that light vibrations can prevent and even reduce the formation of fat tissue.

Women Rulers

From Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times.

"If they’re self-effacing, people find them unimpressive, but if they talk up their accomplishments, they come across as pushy braggarts."
But it changes with the electorate's experience, I guess.

What Striking Writers Do

in their spare time.

Huckabee Not in WA GOP Script?

Josh Marshall over at Talking Points Memo notes that the state GOP stopped releasing its caucus results yesterday with only 87% reported and Huckabee and McCain separated by less than 2%. Then, it put out a press release declaring McCain the winner. McCain's supposed to be the party nominee now, but Kansas and Washington Republicans apparently didn't get the memo. This could only get worse when primary ballots are counted Feb. 19, because half the delegates will be chosen from those results.

Update 3 p.m.
“The Huckabee campaign is deeply disturbed by the obvious irregularities in the Washington State Republican precinct caucuses. It is very unfortunate that the Washington State Party Chairman, Luke Esser, chose to call the race for John McCain after only 87 percent of the vote was counted. According to CNN, the difference between Senator McCain and Governor Huckabee is a mere 242 votes, out of more than 12,000 votes counted—with another 1500 or so votes, apparently, not counted. That is an outrage."
From David Postman at the Seattle Times.