Are There Republican Moles in the Lay-Staff of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops?


I was listening to NPR this morning, and they were talking about the position of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding healthcare reform and abortion.

Any time that anyone talks about their position, this morning, it was a law professor, the consensus is that the position of the Bishops is coming from somewhere in the Twilight Zone: There is simply no basis in realities of law, precedent, legislation, or the manner in which regulation is derived from statute to suggest the Senate language will allow for federal funding of abortion.

This raises an obvious question: Why does the professional staff of the Conference hold a position at such extreme odds with every lawyer, and almost every other Catholic organization out there, most recently the Catholic Health Association and 59,000 nuns?

The only answer that I can come up with is that the professional staff working in their offices have been captured by partisan Republican operatives.

Either there are Republican operatives working and generating legal and legislative opinions, or the staff has been browbeaten by the loud right wing lay activists, most notably Bill Donohue and his Catholic League, and so the staff is taking its talking points from Republican operatives.

In either case, it is clear that the staff is NOT providing competent or good faith advice.

Perhaps a look at the senior lay staff at the organization, and their backgrounds might be warranted by some news gathering organization. (I sent an earlier version of my theory to Josh Marshall, if you know of any other investigative organizations, please forward this to them.)

Note that I am not suggesting that the Bishops themselves are operating as partisan political operatives, simply that their staff may be operating as such.

Cross posted from 40 Years in the Desert.


Josh Marshall is Right, and Was Right in 2004

In the aftermath of the Massachusetts debacle, a lot of people are wondering what the hell happened.

The talking heads inside the Beltway are sure that it's because Obama is too Librul, of course, but I think that Josh Marshall talked about the core problem in August of 2004.

He was talking about the Bush-Kerry campaign, and he characterized it as follows:

Let's call it the Republicans' Bitch-Slap theory of electoral politics. It goes something like this.


Consider for a moment what the big game is here. This is a battle between two candidates to demonstrate toughness on national security. Toughness is a unitary quality, really -- a personal, characterological quality rather than one rooted in policy or divisible in any real way. So both sides are trying to prove to undecided voters either that they're tougher than the other guy or at least tough enough for the job.


One way -- perhaps the best way -- to demonstrate someone's lack of toughness or strength is to attack them and show they are either unwilling or unable to defend themselves -- thus the rough slang I used above. And that I think is a big part of what is happening here. Someone who can't or won't defend themselves certainly isn't someone you can depend upon to defend you.


Hitting someone and not having them hit back hurts the morale of that person's supporters, buoys the confidence of your own backers (particularly if many tend toward an authoritarian mindset) and tends to make the person who's receiving the hits into an object of contempt (even if also possibly also one of sympathy) in the eyes of the uncommitted.


Only now, it isn't the Republicans bitch slapping anyone. It's the Democrats who bitch slap themselves.

Or as Zaid Jilani's southern ConservaDem friend says:

And can I say this? F*ck the Democrats. They couldn’t get shit done with 60 seats, why the hell would I care if they have 59? F%$# them seriously we deserve to lose Congress this year. And don’t bitch and whine about it either how much has changed since we took over in 2006? Ain’t s%$# as far as I can tell. We capitulated to Bush, then capitulated to Republicans and now are just capitulating to ourselves.

F%$# it dude, I mean Republicans get whatever the fuck they want with 50 seats and we can’t do fuck all we deserve to lose

("%$#" mine, "*" original)

Fundamentally, when we look at what is going on in DC, it looks like no one in the Senate or the White House is even trying to make substantive change. (Pelosi, at least, creates the appearance that she is trying to do something)

What's more, among the DC Dems, there has been near constant bitch slapping of the Party Base, whether it's the capitulation on the public option, the labor union insurance surtax, or the constant drum beat of how "the left" hates the Democratic Party because they want to primary DINOs (Democrat In Name Only) who have safe seats. The central campaign platform of the Republican Party is that government can't do anything.

The Democratic Party seems to try very hard to prove them right.

Cross posted from 40 Years in the Desert.

Bush-Cheney Were Even Crazier Than We Imagined

During the Russian-Georgian war in 2008, Bush and His Evil Minions considered military strikes against Russia:

As Russian tanks rumbled into Georgia in 2008, a post-Cold War turning point was at hand. George W. Bush’s national security team considered launching air strikes to halt the invasion. …………


Thus we learn that “several senior White House staffers” urged “at least some consideration of limited military options,” such as bombing the mountain tunnel that served as Russia’s main supply line.

What part of the phrase, "Russia has around 10,000 nuclear warheads in its arsenal," didn't these guys get? Great googly moogly!

Dick Cheney is Such a Whiny Bitch

This is normally not a phrase I use, even with the most annoying members of my family, but I think that for Dick Cheney, it is very clear that his complaints about George W. Bush remove any doubt about the fact, and furthermore it places his comments about the repudiation of his Manichean, and quite frankly delusional, view of the world by the voters in the proper context.

We need to call him a bitch, because to call him anything else grants him a credibility and gravitas that he simply does not deserve.*

The man, who has an uninterrupted record of failure in his life, recommending that Ford dump Rockefeller as VP, moving to contractors in the military, invading Iraq, etc., is now saying that George W. Bush was not hard line enough for him:

"In the second term, he felt Bush was moving away from him," said a participant in the recent gathering, describing Cheney's reply. "He said Bush was shackled by the public reaction and the criticism he took. Bush was more malleable to that. The implication was that Bush had gone soft on him, or rather Bush had hardened against Cheney's advice. He'd showed an independence that Cheney didn't see coming. It was clear that Cheney's doctrine was cast-iron strength at all times -- never apologize, never explain -- and Bush moved toward the conciliatory."
Truth be told, I really think that this is really all about two words, "Scooter Libby," and Cheney is upset, because he believes that without a full pardon, Libby may some day roll over on his flabby, lily-white ass.

He knows that Omertà means less in politics than it does in the Mafia, which means that it means nothing at all, and it terrifies him.

*Yes, I understand that the social dynamics of the situation, where in order to diminish a man you essentially call him a woman, and in order to diminish a woman, you essentially call her a man,† but you go to war with Dick Cheney with the societal norms you have---not the societal norms you might want or wish to have at a later time.

†See Clinton, Hillary and Pelosi, Nancy.

Cross posted from 40 Years in the Desert.

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Eric Boehlert and Bill Kristol Are Both Wrong

Eric Boehlert agrees with William Kristol when he says that Todd Purdum's piece must be wrong when he says that Hit's simply not possible that multiple individuals would have concluded that she had Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

First, my background:  I lived in Alaska from 1963 to 1969, I was 7 when I left, and my father worked at various levels in the state and local government, being the head of planning for Governor Bill Egan, and head of the State Charter Commission.

He maintains the friendships that he made there, and as such, he is in touch with many people who are very much a part of the political scene there, particularly on the Democratic Party side.

The other thing to realize is just how tiny the political scene is there.  Everyone knows, and meets, everyone else on an almost daily basis when the legislature is in session, so if one person made a comment, like "I was looking through the DSM IV, and 'Narcissistic Personality Disorder' matched Palin to a 'T," it could rapidly become a talking point.

This makes this story likely, but the email that I got forwarded to me by my dad pretty much makes it a almost certainly true.

I would note that my dad quoted this individual to me in October saying essentially the same thing.

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: -------
To: Mr Ron Saroff <-------->
Sent: Thursday, July 2, 2009 8:31:38 AM
Subject: FW:

Further amusement --this time amongst the R's.  Lots of bad substantive stuff to say about Palin, but frankly I think the sexism is disgusting from both parties and elsewhere.

Check out this page: 9/24392.html

I was one of the people who told TP [Todd Purdum] Sarah had a narcissistic personality disorder! And he told me I wasn't the first to say it.

Thank you,

Cross posted from 40 Years in the Desert.

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Sounds to Me Like Another Republican Spending a Few Days In the Closet

One of the odd bit of news right now is that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has gone missing.

He ditched his security detail, he's turned off his cell phones, and no one can find him.

The interesting quote in the above story is from his wife:

Neither his wife, nor the state's lieutenant governor, nor police officials know where he is, South Carolina newspapers reported.

But Jenny Sanford told the Associated Press she wasn't worried.

"He was writing something and wanted some space to get away from the kids," she said while vacationing with the couple's four sons.

(emphasis mine)

She sounds to me like someone who is studiously avoiding trying to find the answer to this.

The real issue here is not Mark Sandford's personal life.  It's the concern that self-hating individuals, and the closet does imply self-loathing, do not make good decisions on the public policy.

Here is a question, how many straight Republicans who practice marital fidelity does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Either one can do it themselves.

The governor has been located.

He has been hiking along the Appalachian Trail....Yeah, sure, I believe that.

A commenter on the 2nd link nails it:

brads77          Jun 23, 2009 7:28:12 AM
The only reason this guy would have hiked the Appalachian Trail is because he wanted to visit the Home of Deliverance--thinking that the movie was a love story.
Brads77 owes me a screen wipe.

Cross posted from 40 Years in the Desert.

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Obama Not Just Cheney in Drag, but Cheney's Guardian Angel

Great googly moogly, their latest brief in court is even more absurd than their DOMA brief.

Hell, it's more absurd than the Twinkie Defense, it's the Jon Stewart Defense:

A federal judge yesterday sharply questioned an assertion by the Obama administration that former Vice President Richard B. Cheney's statements to a special prosecutor about the Valerie Plame case must be kept secret, partly so they do not become fodder for Cheney's political enemies or late-night commentary on "The Daily Show."


....He told the judge that if Cheney's remarks were published, then a future vice president asked to provide candid information during a criminal probe might refuse to do so out of concern "that it's going to get on 'The Daily Show' " or somehow be used as a political weapon.

Gee, I wish that I could tell police investigating a crime to go pound sand because somehow it might be embarrassing.

Making this even more absurd is that this argument was first put forward by Bush's now disgraced acting head of the Office of Legal Counsel Stephen Bradbury. (See also here and here)

Cross posted from 40 Years in the Desert.

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Corruption, Business as Usual in the Financial Markets

Some times you notice something, and think, "I'm gonna have to post about it later," and by the time you do, the story has changed.

This is particularly true in corruption cases, where things move rather quickly.

Case in point, the corrupt, self dealing Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Stephen Friedman, who, "bought shares in Goldman Sachs in December, profiting to the tune of $1.7 million."

Ordinarily not a problem, since the Federal Reserve does not regulate investment banks, but for a little fact, that in September, the Federal Reserve allowed Goldman Sachs to become a bank holding company, and hence was regulated by the Federal Reserve, and most particularly was regulated by, you guessed it, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

But of course, as Yves Smith so eloquently notes, "A Conflict of Interest is Not a Conflict of Interest If It Involves Goldman," or as he said to the Wall Street Journal:

Last week, following questions from The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Friedman, 71 years old, disclosed he would step down from the New York Fed at year end. In an interview, he said he made the decision because the waiver letting him own Goldman stock and be a Goldman director expires at the end of the year. He added: "I see no conflict whatsoever in owning shares."
Except of course, as Ms. Smith notes, he bought shares in a company that he was regulating, and he did so before the waiver was approved.

This is insider trading, pure and simple.

Of course, today we see have justice, Wall Street style, as Mr Friedman has resigned, effectively immediately, from the NY Fed.

That's it.  He gets to walk way and keep his money, there will almost certainly be no criminal investigation.

This is business as usual, and, yet again, all roads on corruption lead back to Goldman Sachs, the BCCI of Wall Street.

Taking these racketeers down them down must be a government priority.

Cross posted from 40 Years in the Desert.

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It's Official, the "Stress Test" Was Just Theater

We are getting reports now of what Timothy "Eddie Haskell" Geithner's stress test has determined, and it's clearly not reality.

Bank, Needs Capitalization, Amount
Bank of America     Yes    $34 B
Wells Fargo    Yes    $15B
Citigroup    Yes    $5B
Morgan Stanley    Yes    $1-2B
Goldman    No   
MetLife    No

JP Morgan Chase    No

Bank of NY Mellon    No

American Express    No

Capital One    No

BB&T    No

This is a damn joke.

You have one "oh my God" number, for Bank of America, and it's about 50% of their market cap, but Citi, which is clearly in much worse shape is somehow better capitalized by a factor of 6.

This is simply not true, even after BoA's disastrous acquisition of Merrill Lynch and Countrywide.

Also note this joint statement from the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve, FDIC, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which, to my untutored eye, appears to say that they are going to go with their cockamamie scheme to claim that capital is increased by swapping preferred for common stock.

It's an accounting trick, and what's more, it's one where the taxpayer has just taken a second haircut.

They are making great theater by pretending to talk tough and giving a month for the banks that need to to present a plan to raise capital, and 6 months to have this plan in action, but it's all a lie, since the plan may very well be, "suck on this, taxpaying rubes".

I disagree with former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson's analysis, which is that they are selectively leaking to create confusion in order to keep people from looking at whether the test was too hard on the banks.

I think that his analysis is incomplete.  The "stress test" begins and ends with public relations.  It's a sham, and it has always been a sham, intended to show that the government was serious about reigning in the big banks, without actually engaging in the necessary actions, like <span style="font-weight: bold;">seizure of insolvent institutions</span> that would actually be required for it to work.

Cross posted from 40 Years in the Desert.

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L'Affaire Harman: In Which a Journalist Accuses the Bush Administration of Law Abiding

I've been following this for some time, and now we have a credible explanation from Laura Rosen as to why a further investigation might have been quashed by Alberto Gonzales, that you did not break the law until Dick Cheney and His Evil Minions(tm) told you to break the law:

3. Did Goss no longer have authority to certify the FISA Warrant when the call in question happened? The Time 2006 magazine piece on Harman coming on the radar in the Aipac case says that the tapped conversaation in question in which the possible alleged-by-some quid pro quo occurred was in "mid 2005." A former intelligence official familiar with the matter told me that Goss had certified a FISA warrant to target Harman based on that intercepted communication, but didn't know exactly what time it had occurred.

But a former intelligence community source tells me that DCI Goss no longer legally had the authority to certify FISA warrants at all beginning January 1, 2005 when the law creating the Office of the Director of National Intelligence went into effect. So if Goss did try to certify a FISA warrant to target Harman in 2005, sources tell me that would be unkosher at best, and legally suspect. That authority was no longer in the Director of Central Intelligence's hands and had gone to the Director of National Intelligence.

(Emphasis original)

The idea that the Bush White House was paranoid about various players pursuing their own agendas is not hard to believe, since both paranoia and ignoring the law was SOP for them, and they would naturally assume that everyone else would do the same.

On a note regarding the coverage of the coverage, it gets more interesting.

(more below fold)

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