's Diary
  • /

October 4th, 2006

Bush gets an inverted bump in the polls

Hey Tonto! Jump on it! Ride the pony! Jump on it!

In the poll, Bush’s job approval rating is at 39 percent among registered voters, a drop of three points since September, when his rating had increased to its highest level in months after he gave a series of speeches on national security leading into the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The three-point drop, however, is within the poll’s margin of error of plus-minus 3.5 percentage points.

I’m going to go ahead and offer a little poll analysis now. I think the most telling question to poll would be whether this year’s White House spin machine is “too little, too late.” Something tells me that therein lies the secret to Bush’s terrible numbers. Sure, his colleagues on the Hill are criminals and molesters and Iraq is a swinging dickfest of freedom carnage and his party says we can’t win in Afghanistan, but please, this is the Rove machine. C’mon baby! ROVE!! If it’s so bad that the Rovo-Rooter can’t unmuck it then it’s probably too late. Period.

Technorati Tags: Bush, Elections, Iraq, Polls

Read the rest of this post »

Posted in Politics, Poll Results | No Comments »

October 3rd, 2006

November is about the Court, too

Tuesday the Supreme Court begins its new session in what promises to be a very significant year both in terms of the decisions handed down and in forecasting the future of the Roberts Court. The Court has opted to hear cases that, as the New York Times says, “offer few off-ramps, requiring instead that the justices proceed to rulings that will define the new court in both substance and style,” not to mention have serious effects on the country.

The media rarely does any serious SCOTUS reporting until the Court’s opinions start coming out in May, but resources are available for those of us who are interested. Also, a new administrative decision by the Court gives us a front row seat as daily transcripts of arguments will be available immediately for the first time (here).

As the session starts, I can’t help but recognize an essential–but currently unfortunate–reality: you can’t lobby the Supreme Court. We can stand with our noses pressed against the glass and watch, but we can’t turn on the grassroots to try to sway the Court.
Read the rest of this post »

Posted in General, DailyFeatured | 5 Comments »

September 30th, 2006

Gas Price Circle Jerk

Gas prices are falling. Elections are approaching. Energy bills have stalled. Three articles about falling gas prices came out today that do little more than report dull factoids, but reveal an important truth about our political system if read together. There is a movement afoot to protect Republicans and the oil-based economy from the meddlings of concerned voters and their chosen Democratic champions. Post-Katrina price spikes and a summer of $3 gasoline were driving Americans to do something about our oil addiction. But then politics and money intervened, and the media doesn’t seem to get it.

First of all, the debate over the politicization of oil prices is quickly dismissed. Though the Times argued that falling prices won’t necessarily help the GOP this November (you can’t campaign on a lesser degree of badness), the paper dismissed “conspiracy theories” about price manipulation. They did so explicitly by referring to concerns as just that, but they also did it implicitly by choosing two starkly different authorities to represent the two sides:

And the accusation has provoked a vigorous debate on the Web. On huffingtonpost.com, a left-wing blog, someone commented: “Anybody with any brains KNOWS this government manipulates almost everything here in the States.”

The White House press secretary, Tony Snow, even brought up that conspiracy theory at a recent briefing by joking that some people thought “the President has been rigging gas prices, which would give him the kind of magisterial clout unknown to any other human being.”

Read the rest of this post »

Posted in Politics, Economics | 22 Comments »

September 26th, 2006

Keep talking about Iraq

Crooks & Liars (quoting Eric Boehlert) highlights an upsetting trend in the Traditional Media. As we approach the November elections, Iraq is slipping off the front pages:

There is, however, ample evidence that the American media, on the eve of the crucial midterm elections, have lost interest in the chaotic saga, with network news coverage in recent weeks plummeting and Page One newspaper dispatches from Iraq growing sparse. The media fade has come at a perfect time for the White House as it attempts to shift voters’ attention away from Iraq and move it over to the war on terror.

What the media doesn’t understand, or at least won’t show they understand by covering it sufficiently, is that people care about Iraq even if editors don’t, and they’re making their own news:

Technorati Tags: Elections, Iraq, Media

Read the rest of this post »

Posted in Politics, Middle East | 2 Comments »

September 21st, 2006

Detainee Deal cedes power to president

Yesterday I objected to the proposed changes to the War Crimes Act on the grounds that by specifying certain acts as illegal Congress risked condoning unspecified acts. That is, by pre-interpreting what interrogation techniques violate the Geneva Conventions (which set the standards of the War Crimes Act) Congress drastically limits the interpretive powers of the courts. For a president that is disdainful of the judiciary, this restriction would be a coup. Additionally, using the current CIA interrogation toolbox to write specific violations into the War Crimes Act misunderstands the creativity of the CIA and effectively invites the agency to torture via loophole.

This evening, after a full day of negotiation, Senate Republicans emerged from Cheney’s office with a compromise that proudly goes even further than what I was originally concerned about. According to the Times, the War Crimes Act will be amended to include prohibitions against certain specific conduct as defined by the president. In a major concession to executive authority, the senators included language that “the executive branch is responsible for upholding the nations’ commitment to the Geneva Conventions, leaving it to the president to establish through executive rule any violations for the handling of terror suspects that fall short of a ‘grave breach.’” Considering that this negotiation grew out of the Supreme Court’s condemnation of the administration’s fiat, this seems like a lot of leeway to be granting to the president. It is significant, as the Times points out, that the president is required to publish his decrees in the Federal Register so that they are not secret, but it is just as significant that the president retains the discretion to interpret what is egregious conduct and what is not.

Technorati Tags: Bush, Geneva Conventions, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, McCain, Republicans, Terrorism, torture

Read the rest of this post »

Posted in Politics, Police State | 1 Comment »

September 20th, 2006

Undermining Geneva

“There’s agreement on the goal, that is, that we continue to comply with our international treaty obligations and all of our domestic laws, but at the same time not tie the hands of our intelligence officials.” - Senator John Cornyn
Shorter Cornyn: we have to change the law to obey the law.

The negotiations between the White House and a handful of Republican Senators over interrogation techniques used on terrorists is, according the the New York Times, progressing. The administration, supported by the likes of Senator Cornyn, continues to push for a clarification of domestic laws and international treaties as to what constitutes a violation of those laws so that interrogators don’t have to worry about whether their conduct constitutes “outrages upon human dignity.” On the other side of the table, Senators McCain and Warner reject at least some of the administration’s clarification demands on the principle that enumerating the scope of what constitutes torture in fact broadens what does not qualify as torture. Additionally, the Senators believe that tampering with our interpretation of international treaties will encourage other countries to do the same if and when they have Americans in custody. As a result, they have succeeded in getting the administration to drop its demand to reinterpret the Geneva Conventions in favor of amending the domestic War Crimes Act.

So, Bush has been forced to stop picking at the scab that is our international treaty obligations not to torture people. Great day, good morning and congratulations Senators McCain and Warner, you’ve limited the administration’s dick-swinging to our own laws.

So now the focus is on the War Crimes Act. The War Crimes Act lays out the punishment for US personnel who commit war crimes. It also defines what constitutes a war crime. Get this: the definition based entirely on international treaties:

Technorati Tags: Bush, Geneva Conventions, interrogation, McCain, torture

Read the rest of this post »

Posted in Right Wing Nut, Police State | 2 Comments »

September 17th, 2006

Sunday Wonkery: Tort Deform & The Common Wrong

Twelve years ago the Gingrich revolution thrust the modern conservative agenda upon us. By now we’re pretty familiar with its laundry list–essentially, they pick something they hate and legislate it. Call it the cringe agenda: gay marriage, abortion, civil rights, social safety net, tort reform—wait, what was that last one? Tort reform? Where the hell did that come from? As far as I know, torts never got an abortion or had sex with a man or took handouts when they were in bad shape. Well, for any of you who believe that most of the right wing agenda is actually just a culture war smokescreen used to obscure a fundamentally pro-corporate, anti-middle class economic program, congratulations, you nailed it. And for any of you who still have that icky taste in your mouth from the bankruptcy bill, get ready for seconds.

I hate to do this–tort reform is a really uninspiring topic in times of war and elections–but I really think it’s time to educate ourselves about this issue. Aside from a handful of people, tort reform is a very abstract issue that we’re pretty ambivalent about, but that’s exactly why it’s a good idea to learn about it. If we get blind-sided by a State of the Union propaganda attack and have to spend a week catching up while the president moves on this issue, we’re going to lose and we are going to regret it. So, if you’re with me, put on your wonk hats and join me for a brief look at the issue, the propaganda, and the solution.

Technorati Tags: Bush, Tort reform, Torts

Read the rest of this post »

Posted in Politics, DailyFeatured | 3 Comments »

September 11th, 2006

Remembering 9/11 podcast

Matt and I help produce the weekly podcast for the Roots Project. Today we are remembering 9/11 with pieces by bloggers and commenters, including Pachacutec, Howie Klein, and TRex.

Subscribe Free
Add to my Page

If you would like to share your own thoughts, visit the podcast website at srpnewsweekly.wordpress.com

Technorati Tags: 9-11, Netroots, Roots Project

Posted in Miscellaneous | No Comments »

September 8th, 2006

Help us with our 9/11 Podcast

In addition to Bring It On!, I help produce a weekly blogger podcast through the Roots Project (of Firedoglake fame).

Monday is the 5th anniversary of September 11, 2001. The events that transpired that day evoke strong feelings in many people, as do the events of the 5 years since they happened. In the spirit of SRP Newsweekly’s mission to give voice to the netroots, we are asking people to share their thoughts and feelings with the Roots Project community by helping us create content for our podcast.

You can share your words in a variety of ways. You can post comments in this thread or on our website, send us an , or leave us a message on our voice mail by calling (641) 985-5999 and using 17365# as your access code. If you use the voice mail please keep the message of a manageable length.

Over the next few days, the Newsweekly staff will sift through the comments, emails and messages to compile a podcast. Voicemail messages will be added directly to the podcast if they are chosen. The podcast will be published here (and on our site) on Sunday morning. Please join us then to hear what this community has produced.

The anniversary of September 11 is a solemn occasion so please be respectful in the comments. It is important for people to feel comfortable when sharing these personal memories and feelings.

Posted in Miscellaneous | No Comments »

September 6th, 2006

The Constitution as Rubicon

“‘Even Julius Caesar didn’t get to bring his armies back into Rome, although he did,’ the judge said” during oral arguments over the legality of the president’s warrantless NSA wiretapping program. Judge Gerard Lynch’s language seems almost playful in response to government lawyers, according to the New York Times account of the hearing, however the message he is sent is clear: provided he finds that the plaintiffs have a cause of action, he will be taking the constitutional issues at hand very seriously.

Technorati Tags: Bush, NSA

Read the rest of this post »

Posted in Police State | No Comments »

September 5th, 2006

The Path to 9/11 blog contradicts itself (updated)

After I learned that Richard Clarke found serious problems with a key scene in the upcoming ABC docudrama, “The Path to 9/11″ I decided to check out the project’s website. The Path to 9/11 has a blog, which is an interesting choice. It demonstrates a willingness on the part of ABC, director D. Cunningham (who writes posts) and others involved in the project to engage the public about the project. Too bad the blog is full of contradictions.

Technorati Tags: 11, 9-11, Media

Read the rest of this post »

Posted in Politics, Current Affairs, Television | 2 Comments »

September 5th, 2006

Thinking Rumsfeld through

Atrios has a letter from congressional Democrats to President Bush (Atrios, DCCC) that suggests a number of ways that Bush might change the course in Iraq. They also suggest that Bush “consider changing the civilian leadership at the Defense Department.” Which is wuss for “fire Rumsfeld.”

In general, the letter is polite, almost pleading in tone. A handful of barbs are tucked in for good measure, but they are worded to suggest that the Democrats want to find a solution instead of score points. Obviously, this letter is designed less for the President’s consumption than for candidates and voters around the country. It’s a roadmap: attack here and suggest these things, but maybe don’t be so polite. Democrats can point to this letter as an instance of their cooperative spirit. It’s nice to see this on paper.

On the other hand, however, an Lakoffian alarm bell went off when I read the bit about firing Rumsfeld. By focusing on the Defense Secretary’s competence and demanding that he be dismissed the Democrats are opening a very useful escape hatch for the White House.

Technorati Tags: 2006, Bush, Democrats, Elections, Iraq, Lakoff, Republicans, Rumsfeld

Read the rest of this post »

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment »

September 2nd, 2006

Standing in a fallen world

Today is September 2, 2006. Very soon we can expect an inundation of stories, tributes and exploitations of the 5 year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Today, though, before we are thrust into the past I think it is useful to consider where we are right now and what must come next. What, if anything, has changed since 9/11 occurred 4 years, 11 months and 22 days ago? Have we learned anything? Where do we go from here?

It is with deep regret that I observe that America has learned very little from the actual attacks on our homeland. We have learned less from 9-11 than we have from the failed policies that were enacted after it.

Technorati Tags: 2006, 9-11, Bush, September 11

Read the rest of this post »

Posted in Politics, DailyFeatured | 8 Comments »

August 28th, 2006

No Confidence Vote on Rumsfeld

According the MSNBC’s “First Read,” the WSJ is reporting that the Democrats plan on calling for a vote of no confidence on Rumsfeld when they return to session:

the Wall Street Journal on Friday reported that Hill Democrats may try to hold a no-confidence vote on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during consideration of the defense-spending bill next month.

This is big: people have been expecting Bush to replace Rumsfeld sometime before the November elections to signal a change in direction and inspire, well, confidence in the administration. If the Democrats can preempt the White House stunt they can take away a major political boost for Republicans around the country, not to mention slam Rumsfeld for his failures.

This has been a long time coming so let’s call our Congressmen and tell them we support this move. Also, put in a call to Pelosi and Reid and give them a thumbs up for what could be a very well-timed move.

Technorati Tags: 2006, Democrats, Rumsfeld

Posted in Politics, Current Affairs | No Comments »

August 24th, 2006


Voting machines aren’t really an issue I write about much, but maybe I should. Diebold is one of the big players in electronic voting machines. It is also huge in ATMs. Apparently it’s business model is to profit on the American way: capitalism (cash) and democracy (voting). Unfortunately, they seem to suck at helping us with the latter:

Technorati Tags: Diebold, Elections, Voting machines

Read the rest of this post »

Posted in Politics, Campaign News | 3 Comments »

August 24th, 2006

National Popular Vote

Progressive States reports that California (woot!) has joined the movement to bypass the Electoral College without passing a constitutional amendment:

California’s State Senate has approved a plan for the union’s largest state to join an interstate compact that would effectively end the electoral college and allow the victor of the popular vote to become the President.

The plan is simple, members of the compact award their electors not to the candidate who won their own state, but to the candidate who won the national vote. The compact only goes into effect once enough states have signed on to constitute an electoral majority.

Technorati Tags: 2008, Common Good, Constitution, Elections, Electoral College, National Popular Vote, Progressive States

Read the rest of this post »

Posted in Politics, Campaign News | 6 Comments »

Baby Shower Supplies
Stock Market Closure
Canvass Ballet Shoes
Harm Reduction Coallition
Inpatient Drug Treatment