Breaking: GOP Calls for Investigation of Previous Administration

Stalwart Clinton impeachment champion Peggy Noonan had this to say over the weekend about the potential for investigations into illegal acts committed by the Bush administration :

Some things in life need to be mysterious.  Sometimes you need to just keep walking. ... It's hard for me to look at a great nation issuing these documents and sending them out to the world and thinking, oh, much good will come of that.
Notwithstanding Noonan's protestations to the contrary, a deluge of GOP leaders have just come out with a full-throated call to open up wide-ranging investigations into the former administration's abuses of power.

... See all the quotes from these GOP leaders after the jump.  Please read the whole post ...

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The Chilling Rise of Right-Wing Hate in America

[Originally posted on my blog, Library Grape.]

Crooks and Liars posted new details about the right-wing psychopath who gunned down three police officers in Pittsburgh:

Thanks to some sleuth work on the Internet, we're starting to learn more about Richard Poplawski, the 23-year-old who killed three police officers yesterday in Pittsburgh, evidently out of fear that his guns were going to be taken away.

It appears that what police may be looking at is a budding white supremacist who frequented one of the most popular neo-Nazi websites and harbored an apocalyptic dread of the federal government...

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has some corroboration from other sources that indicates he fits this profile:

Richard Andrew "Pop" Poplawski's ex-girlfriend said he dragged her by the hair and threatened to shoot her.

He slept with a gun under his pillow in a basement room filled with firearms and ammunition, convinced that Jews controlled the media and President Obama was scheming to take away his arsenal, friends and relatives said Saturday.

"He was a violent, abusive man. He dragged me by the hair, pulling me across the floor. I saw him choke his own mother. He was controlling," said Melissa Gladish, 23, of Verona, his former girlfriend who received a protection from abuse order against him in 2005. She said she had no doubt he would kill someone.

I can't begin to tell you how frightened this makes me.  The radical right wingers that were so prevalent during the Clinton administration went dormant during the Bush years.  Now that Obama is in office, and irresponsible sociopaths like Michelle Malkin, Glenn Beck and Rep. Michele Bachmann are recklessly stoking the fires of paranoid rightwing victimization, I fear we will face countless tragedies like what just went on in Pittsburgh.

When liberal radicals get upset, they engage in protests and damage property, like the unfocused, anti-everything nonsense you saw outside the G-20 summit.

When right wing radicals get upset, they shoot lots of people and or blow up a building with lots of people in it (see, e.g., the FBI building in Oklahoma City).

As Tim F. at Balloon Juice opines:

  How is that "orderly revolution" going, Michelle?  How about that laundry soap rebellion, Erick? This is what Glenn Beck's citizen army looks like. People like Michelle Malkin fantasize about citizens rising up against the (Democratic) state. They stoke their followers' paranoia with bullshit that, mostly, they know is bullshit, for ratings and a shot at political traction. Did they expect the American revolution?

In response to John's famous Peak Wingnut post I pointed out that political irrelevance will hardly stifle rightwing victimology but feed it like CO2, manure and sunlight.  I tend to call the relevant phenomenon `toxic victim syndrome', or TVS. The feeling that one is a powerless victim has a corrosive psychological effect. It exempts self-appointed victims from normal moral standards. It justifies (in one's own mind) an endless list of behaviors that an ordinary person would never consider.

John Cole, as usual, has a spot-on view of the situation:
And, of course, when you point out that certain individuals with all their talk about "revolution" and "armed insurrection" are inciting this kind of behavior in unstable people, you will get howls of protest about the 1st Amendment and what not. Sure, crazy people do crazy things. But that doesn't make it responsible to encourage them, which is what a lot of really foolish people are doing right now for purely political reasons.
And for a final word on the responsibility of the media, here's Andrew Sullivan:
Many of us have worried that the heated, apocalyptic rhetoric of the anti-Obama forces might spill over at some point into violence in the hands of individuals prone to lashing out. We now have what seems to be a clear instance of that and three dead police officers.  One wonders whether Fox News or the Second Amendment fanatics will chill it out a little. And then one realizes who we're talking about.

How many people have to die before the right-wing media acknowledges their complicity in these kinds of attacks and voluntarily dials back their inflammatory rhetoric and incitements to violence?

Sadly, I think it's going to take a long time for that to happen -- and a lot more innocent people are going to die in the interim.  I guess this is what "America First" means for the radical right under an Obama presidency.

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Alaska Lawmaker Violates Privacy of Famed Anonymous Blogger - UPDATED

[Originally posted on my blog, Library Grape.]

I hardly have the words to describe how shocking and shameful this is:

An Alaskan state legislator revealed in his constituent e-newsletter Friday the identity of an anonymous local blogger who was made famous by her criticisms of Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential campaign season.
Apparently, this dickhead of a legislator got his panties in a bunch because the anonymous blogger, so-called "AKM" who owns the wildly popular Mudflats blog, once called him out for some inappropriate emails he was sending to his constituents:
AKM earned the ire of Alaska Representative Mike Doogan (LD-25) of Anchorage (who happens to be a writer by trade) when AKM wrote a blog post about a rude email that Doogan sent to his constituents: "Are you people nuts? You send me -- and everybody else in the legislature, from the looks of things -- Spam and then lecture me on email etiquette -- as if there were such a thing? Here's an etiquette suggestion: Abandon your phony names, do your own thinking and don't expect everybody to share your obsessions."
Well, this Mike Doogan spent months cyberstalking AKM to find out her real identity and then publicly outed her in an official legislative newsletter (which is currently on the freaking homepage of the Alaska Democratic Caucus!):
Anonymous Blogger Anonymous No More

The identity of the person who writes the liberal Democratic Mudflats blog has been secret since the blog began, protected by the Anchorage Daily News, among others. My own theory about the public process is you can say what you want, as long as you are willing to stand behind it using your real name. So I was interested to learn that the woman who writes the blog is Anchorage resident [redacted].

Best wishes,  Mike

This is the mark of a shameful, petty man.  Regardless of this cruel asshole's protestations to the contrary, the right to remain anonymous is firmly ensconced in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  As the Supreme Court held in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission:
Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical, minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society.
Here is the email I sent to Representative Doogan:
Dear Rep. Doogan,

While reading the news today, I was shocked to find out that you took it upon yourself to reveal the identity of the anonymous blogger behind Mudflats.  Are you capable of understanding how damaging your actions may have been?

You chose to run for public office and expose your family to the harsh light of the public sphere.  The woman that writes Mudflats did not make that choice.  She is a private person with a passion for commenting on current affairs in Alaska.

She chose, for reasons you probably know nothing about, to remain anonymous.  Certain founders of our country wrote the Federalist Papers anonymously, to avoid the threat of reprisal.

Maybe the woman who writes Mudflats has a boss who would fire her for her views.

Maybe she has an abusive boyfriend who would beat her for her views.

Did you know any of this when you took her privacy and threw it in the garbage?  Of course not.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

If you want to take action, send him an email yourself; his email address is: Rep.Mike.Doogan@legis.state.ak.us.

If you want to really express your outrage, you should write an email to the Democrats with the real power, the Minority Leader and Minority Whip. Their email addresses are rep.beth.kerttula@legis.state.ak.us, and rep.david.guttenberg@legis.state.ak.us.

Also you should email the Alaska Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics. Their emails are Representative_John_Coghill@legis.state. ak.us, Representative_Berta_Gardner@legis.state .ak.us, Senator_Gary_Stevens@legis.state.ak.us, and Senator_Thomas_Wagoner@legis.state.ak.us .

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Obama Is Playing Three-Dimensional Chess

[ Cross-Posted to Library Grape ]

Now that I've had the opportunity to watch Obama's moves over the last few weeks on the stimulus bill, I've drawn some reasoned conclusions about how shrewd this man named Obama is.

While it's true that Republicans have been dominating the debate in the mainstream media from a decibel perspective, the most recent Gallup poll reveals that Americans have come to strongly disapprove of the way Congressional Republicans are handling the crisis and give Obama high marks for his approach.

What does this tell us?  Think back to a year ago when Obama was being routinely counseled by partisan hacks and the mainstream media to "take the gloves off" against Clinton and McCain.  Remember how many times Obama was flying under the radar only to ultimately hand his opponents a neverending series of trouncings?

The simple fact is that Obama is a once-in-a-generation political virtuoso who is able to think many moves ahead in the complicated game he is engaged in.   As someone said to me recently, Obama's playing three-dimensional chess while we're still stuck playing checkers.

Almost without fail, Obama has time and again proven himself more shrewd and astute in the game of politics than any of the tired partisan hacks that control the media spigots of "conventional wisdom" and misinformation.

People on the left who are worked into a frenzy about how supposedly muted Obama has been at times over the last few weeks need to take a deep breath and give him a chance to prove himself to us.

Chances are, Obama is going to make all them sound pretty tone-deaf once he unveils yet another unexpected checkmate.

Here's Andrew Sullivan's take, which I think is exactly right:

One feels exactly as one did in the primaries as his occasional drifts against Clinton led to a chorus of attacks from the base that he was being too much of a wimp, too defensive, too polite. My gut is to advise him to let rip. But Obama's brain is often shrewder than many guts. From a long-term strategic perspective, even the critics are already entrenching the central meme that Obama has tried to bring as many people on board as possible. They are doing his work for him. If his core identity has been established as genuine and conciliatory - something Bill Clinton, fairly or unfairly, failed to achieve - then he can make a good faith case for his bill on its merits, not on the demerits of his opponents. The case is more effective if people don't interpret it as partisan. And since I suspect the case is very strong, that's his long-term advantage.

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Please Don't Let Ken Starr Divorce These People

[Cross-Posted at Library Grape]

This video is absolutely heart-breaking.  I am having a hard time holding back the tears at work.

Sitting here without a mate in my little bubble of comfort, it's easy to forget about the countless married gay families in California that are currently under assault from the likes of Ken Starr.

Not only are the religious fundamentalists behind Prop. 8 planning to defend its legitimacy in the California Supreme Court, they have taken their fight to the most outrageous extreme imaginable and are actively trying to invalidate the marriages of tens of thousands of devoted Californians.

This is not some abstract discussion about rights, equality or the legal merits of gay marriage.  

These are real people with real families who were legally married in California before Prop. 8 took away the marriage rights of every gay Californian.  

These families are now faced with the prospect that the perennial agents of intolerance will forcibly rip their marriage away from them.

I hardly have the words to describe how furious this makes me.  

We've come a long way in this country -- struggling mightily to stamp out the abominations of slavery and segregation -- but we still live in a society where people unapologetically indulge their ignorance and animus in order to lash out at vulnerable minorities they blindly choose not to understand.

If this makes you as angry as it does me, take action now and sign the Courage Campaign's letter to the California Supreme Court.

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Action: Support Conyers Truth Commission

[Cross-Posted at Library Grape.]

As to the Bush administration's illegal excesses over the last eight years, there are a few salient options: (1) let bygones be bygones; (2) sic prosecutors after the lawbreakers; or (3) form up a South Africa-style Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

I am starting to lean toward option three.  It would have the benefit of partially muting the "Witch hunt!" wing of the naysayers and, above all else, have the power to bring to light all of the illegal things that have been done in our name over the last eight years.

Here's where the action comes in.  Representative John Conyers has introduced legislation to create a Truth Commission:

There is established the National Commission on Presidential War Powers and Civil Liberties (hereinafter in this Act referred to as the "Commission") to investigate the broad range of policies of the Administration of President George W. Bush that were undertaken under claims of unreviewable war powers, including detention by the United States Armed Forces and the intelligence community, the use by the United States Armed Forces or the intelligence community of enhanced interrogation techniques or interrogation techniques not authorized by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, "ghosting" or other policies intended to conceal the fact that an individual has been captured or detained, extraordinary rendition, domestic warrantless electronic surveillance, and other policies that the Commission may determine to be relevant to its investigation (hereinafter in this Act referred to as "the activities").
If you want some background on the potential illegality the bill is referencing, check out the new 500-page report that was issued on Tuesday: "Reining in the Imperial Presidency: Lessons and Recommendations Relating to the presidency of George W. Bush".

To date, Conyers' bill has only received 12 co-sponsors.  We need to get the word out to Congress that Conyers' bill is important and has our support.  If you have a few minutes, please write or call your Congressperson today to express your support for the Conyers bill: H.R. 104.

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Republicans Fiddle While U.S. Burns


[Cross-Posted to Library Grape]

Every time I read stories recounting the Republicans' overt strategy to obstruct Obama's stimulus plan in order to place him at the helm of a sinking ship so that they can, in four years, point to him and yell 'FAIL!', I always get an image in my head of Nero fiddling while Rome burned.  

Considering that Bush and the Republican-led Congress were the ones that drove us so far into the ditch, why are they considered to have any credible say in the matter?

Here's a flavor of how Republicans view their noble, high-minded, 'Country First' historical imperative:

At least some Republicans are starting to muster an anti-stimulus drive, claiming that President-elect Obama's package will not help the economy. Their drive is centered on what they claim is a careful rereading of the history of the New Deal. According to their account, President Roosevelt's policies actually lengthened the Great Depression.

In their story, we would have been better off if we just left the market to    adjust by itself...  [F]rom the standpoint of Republicans, the more ominous lesson of the New Deal policies is that it left the Democrats firmly in power for more than 20 years. The Republicans did not regain the White House until 1952, 20 years after President Roosevelt was first elected...

[T]he Republicans can be expected to adopt a strategy aimed at delaying and diluting the stimulus. We can expect their leaders to find every conceivable argument to slow down the spending that the economy desperately needs right now to prevent further job loss. While some of their concerns may be legitimate - we should all support efforts to restrain wasteful pork barrel spending and rein in corruption - these concerns should not be the basis for obstructing stimulus. The public should be careful to distinguish legitimate concerns from simple delaying tactics.

In short, we should realize that the main concern of some of those opposed to stimulus may not be that it will fail, but rather that it will succeed. Most of us don't have the same set of concerns.

Yep, while our economy teeters on the brink of collapse, Republicans fiddle their obstructionist song in the craven interest of preserving what little is left of their political power.

'Country First' my ass...

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Dianne Feinstein Can Go Suck an Egg

The Obama team made what I consider to be a political masterstroke yesterday by announcing their selection of respected former Congressman Leon Panetta to head the CIA.

[Cross-Posted on my New Blog, Library Grape.]

Although somewhat mixed, the reactions from the intelligence community have included a lot of praise for the Panetta pick:

Former intelligence analyst Greg Treverton, now with the Rand Corporation, said Panetta's experience as a former White House chief of staff might give him a unique understanding of the presidency and its needs for intelligence. "One of my experiences with people like Panetta who have been chief of staff is that they have a clear sense of what is helpful to the president that most senior officials don't," Treverton told me. "They get it. What he could do and couldn't do. And that's an interesting advantage Panetta brings. Knowledge of what the presidential stakes are like, how issues arise, and what they need to be protected from, for better or worse."

Retired CIA deputy director for the East Europe division Milt Bearden said Panetta is a "brilliant" choice. "It is not problematic that Panetta lacks experience in intelligence," Bearden e-mailed. "Intel experience is overrated. Good judgment, common sense, and an understanding of Washington is a far better mix to take to Langley than the presumption of experience in intelligence matters. Having a civilian in the intelligence community mix is, likewise, a useful balance. Why not DNI?"

Well, what could be the problem, considering that many successful past CIA directors have lacked direct intelligence experience (e.g. George H.W. Bush)?

3...  2... 1...  Cue a tone-deaf, self-immolating Democrat shooting the Party in the foot:

"I was not informed about the selection of Leon Panetta to be the CIA director," incoming chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was cited by the Los Angeles Times. "My position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time."
Yep, that's right.  As the Republican obstruction machine opposition in Congress gears up to turn some of Obama's appointments into partisan political theater, the incoming Democratic chairperson of a key intelligence committee decides to publicly cast doubts on one of Obama's key appointments.

Can't we Democrats even wait until Obama is inaugurated before we start shooting ourselves in the extremities?

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Burris Sympathizer Compares Reid to Segregationists

Say what you will about the propriety of Roland Burris accepting an appointment to the US Senate from disgraced Governor Hairdo but the tide of evasive, nonsensical wankery coming out of his camp at the moment is driving me a bit batty (see, e.g., Burris' tortured performance on Rachel Maddow yesterday).

A more recent example?

Take the new gambit being trotted out today, with Burris and his sympathizers triumphantly trying a new and improved version of the race card on for size.  

Today, Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush -- already having ham-handedly played his first race card yesterday with his oh-so-subtle entreaty that we try to avoid lynching Mr. Burris -- doubled down with his second, even more ludicrous race card by comparing Harry Reid to segregation-era race-war-mongers George Wallace and Bull Connor:

[T]he recent history of our nation has shown us that sometimes there could be individuals and there could be situations where school children -- where you have officials standing in the doorway of school children. You know, I'm talking about all of us back in 1957 in Little Rock, Arkansas. I'm talking about George Wallace, Bull Connors and I'm sure that the U.S. Senate don't want to see themselves placed in the same position.

Look, I'm no fan of Harry Reid but this whole ludicrous intra-party racism-baiting bullshit needs to get nipped in the bud (no, "nipped" is not a thinly-veiled derogatory reference to those of Asian descent).

How is intraparty racism concern-trolling helpful for anyone involved in this mess (besides Gov. Hairdo)? Are segregation references still this much of an assumed magic get-out-of-jail-free card in the grievance politics arsenal?

Question regarding your appointment to the US Senate? SEGREGATION!
Question regarding a law you sponsored? GEORGE WALLACE!
Sharp criticism on the fluffiness of your quiche? RACISM!

Do we have something like Godwin's law for knee-jerk, inappropriate references to segregation-era policies or figures like George Wallace?  If not, we need one.

[Cross-Posted at Library Grape.]

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What About Holy Roland Burris the Pure and Exalted?

Well, it looks like everyone in the political establishment and the media is playing along with Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's gambit by hastily canonizing the newly appointed junior Senator from Illinois, Roland Burris, as the kind of unquestionably pure and saintly lion of the people Blago wanted us to view him as.

You know what question I've haven't heard anyone ask Mr. Burris?

[Cross-Posted on Library Grape, my new blog.]

It would go something like this (read in the voice of that rare breed of journalist that remembered how to do their job):

"Mr. Burris, the Democratic leadership in this country is unanimous in calling for Governor Blagojevich to resign.

The President-Elect and the entire Democratic Caucus in the Senate have stated for weeks that they would not accept any person appointed by Mr. Blagojevich to President-Elect Obama's vacated Senate seat.

Why now, after decrying Mr. Blagojevich's allegedly illegal actions with respect to trying to sell the vacated Senate seat, have you decided to forcefully thumb your nose to the entire elected leadership of the Democratic Party by accepting Mr. Blagojevich's appointment?

Although many say that you are a man of great character, why would you now then decide to get caught up in a naked plot by the Governor to hold onto power and, in the process, sow division and rancor in your Democratic Party?

Shouldn't you have let the process play out before deciding to complicate the matter in this way and run the risk of making the entire leadership of your chosen party look like ineffectual hacks should they ultimately cave to Mr. Blagojevich's demands?"


As usual, the media was fed a handy narrative and they ate it up like starving children.  More needs to be asked of Roland Burris about why he effectively decided to volley a big "Fuck You!" to nearly every important figure in national and Illinois Democratic politics.

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