Tuesday :: Jan 17, 2006

Seismic Shifting Erupts

by pessimist

Way Up North To Alaska, the Augustine Volcano is spewing forth, bloviating as if it is a real volcano demanding respect:

Tuesday's eruption was preceded by increased seismic activity at the volcano, located on an uninhabited island about 180 miles southwest of Anchorage. That prompted observatory officials to raise the volcano's threat level to red, meaning an explosive eruption was imminent, about 20 minutes before the eruption began.

There is increased seismic activity surrounding the Capitol Hill Volcano as well - and the changes are likely to happen just as swiftly.

Arianna Huffington prefers Al Gore to Hillary:

If there are still any left doubting that Hillary would be a good senator, she has certainly proved them wrong. She is a senator through and through. And she is just one more example, as if we needed one after John Kerry, of why sitting senators almost never become sitting presidents. As Kerry showed, if you can't do that during a presidential campaign, you'll find yourself right back in the Senate when the campaign is over.
I'd put my money on Gore. He didn't just get rid of the beard, he also got rid of the mitigating, the qualifying, and the equivocating that plagues sitting senators.
"Light ash can be expected, nothing that would accumulate in any thickness," said Michelle Coombs, a geologist at the observatory.

Yeah. Right!

For some reason, Hillary felt brave enough to come out from under her Senate seat and make some nasty-sounding anti-GOP noises which earned rave reviews from Al Sharpton and a loud two thumbs down from Scottie McClellan.

And, in typical GOP fasion, what better way to hit back at Al Gore than to slap Teddy Kennedy? Admittedly, Teddy is his own worst enemy sometimes, but with ScAlito's confirmation hung up in committee until next week, is it really smart to piss off Arlen Spector in their misguided effort to damage ANY Democrat in retaliation for Al Gore's clarion call?

Even Sen. Arlen Specter, king of the Republicans-in-name-only, chose to denounce Kennedy's pathetic attempts to stop or delay Alito's nomination. When even Specter, a big supporter of abortion rights [which makes him as evil as Teddy, right boys and girls? - ed.], turns his back on Kennedy in a situation like that, he's fighting for a lost cause.

I'm sure that Al really felt that one!

As Muhammad Ali loved to do when in the ring, he'd play like the guy he was fighting was actually getting somewhere, then he'd quickly turn the tables with his rope-a-dope strategy. That may well have just happened:

The RNC may have stuck its big fat foot squarely into it's even bigger mouth yesterday:
In response, Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman said Gore is "more interested in desperately trying to get attention than he is in focusing on the facts and the law."

"This is authority the president does have," Mehlman said. "It's authority that is consistent with protecting our Constitution and our civil liberties, and it's an authority that is critical to learning the lessons of 9/11."

Part of the problem is that this administration has been intensely partisan and polarizing. It has suffered from a growing and persistent credibility problem. It's unofficial mantra has been "trust us" but now many Americans don't trust it anymore.

We interrupt this article excerpt to add corroborating evidence to this conclusion!

As David Sirota reports:

Buried in an Associated Press story about the GOP's bogus lobbying "reform" bill is one paragraph that really should tell you all you need to know about how both parties in Congress really don't want to see serious reforms to clean up the system.

In an age where citizens are desperate for politicians to have a backbone, all you can really conclude from reading this is that neither party - even the one emasculated in the minority - still doesn't have the courage of its supposed convictions.

Here is the excerpt:

"The Associated Press asked the four lawmakers [Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) and Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) - ed.] who lead the ethics committees whether they would make a commitment to investigate ethical wrongdoing if, as expected, the information Abramoff supplies exposes misconduct by a number of lawmakers.
Each of the four declined, through his spokesmen, to do so."

This is, in a nutshell, why polls show the public believes both parties are equally corrupt. And let's be clear - the Republican stonewalling is understandable. They have a lot to lose in these scandals in terms of actual power.

What's absolutely disgusting is the silence of the Democrats, who really have nothing to lose other than a few perks. Yet apparently, those perks are too much to give up, even if it means a shot at winning back the majority.

As I've asked many times before: how many elections do Democrats have to lose to get serious?

We now return you to our regularly scheduled article excerpt:

Some observations:

(1) Bush's attitude in press conferences does seem to be "this is what I did, I think I'm right and waddaya going tah do about it?"

(2) You could make the case that this administration felt it was above-board to go the warrantless route — except for reports that there had been a concerted effort to get then-Attorney-General John Ashcroft to endorse these wiretaps (from Ashcroft's hospital bed)...and he refused. So they went warrantless and did them anyway. Can Ashcroft be accused of trying to limit executive power or being soft on terrorism? What did he see that turned him off?

(3) There will be some who will insist on dismissing all of Gore's comments as partisan pap — after all, it IS Al Gore and he MUST have a purely political motive and not be truly concerned — but now you have GOPers former Representative Bob Barr and Senator Arlen Specter raising their eyebrows. Will more follow?

(4) Will those who defend the White House's case make a more convincing case for the White House than the White House has done so far?

(5) It throws into focus once more ideological anchor of today's GOP. As we've said before, today's Republican Party is not your grandfather's, father's GOP or even George Bush's father's GOP anymore. The Cult Of Personality often trumps ideology and Follow The Leader (and adjust your original tenets accordingly) sometimes seems more vital than Stick To Your Core Principles.

(6) Yet, the jury is still out on EXACTLY whether these wiretaps were clearly legal of not. Will members of both parties in Congress take a role in looking into it and reaching a conclusion....unclouded by the 2006 mid-term elections? (Do cabbages fly?)

If they involved anything surrounding political elections — watch out. The scene then will be set for a re-run of Watergate except this time with a far weaker press and a GOP Congressional team more wedded to the personality of George Bush than to a set of cannot-be-violated principles.

The biggest danger: democracy requires the legitimacy of institutions. If the evolving wisdom is that the President violated the law, did a power grab (even if the intent is genuine concern over tightening national security) and continues to do so then the institution of the Presidency could indeed wind up more powerful — but far less legitimate.

The legitimacy of Bu$hCo may already be weakening:

The L.A. Times reminds us what crazy attention-getting left wing groups were involved in yesterday's breathtaking speech:

His speech, delivered to an enthusiastic audience at DAR Constitution Hall, was co-sponsored by the left-leaning American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, and the Liberty Coalition, a recently formed alliance of groups concerned with privacy and civil liberties.

Because winds are moving in different directions at different elevations, an ash fall advisory was issued for communities along the southwest portion of the Kenai Peninsula and east of the volcano, in the Kamishak and Iliamna bays.

Let's look at who some of these 'crazy attention-getting left wing groups' are:

The coalition includes liberal organizations, such as MoveOn.org's political action committee, and conservative ones, such as the National Taxpayers Union, the Free Congress Foundation and American Conservative Union.

Damn Conservative commies!

There is an interesting conclusion to be drawn from this information:

Looks like the GOP's newest strategy is pissing off their base. Let's see how it works out for them.

It isn't going well, as the above posts relate, and it doesn't stop there. Remember - those Maoist John Birchers think George should be impeached also!

The Republican Party is definite shaking and quaking, and some of the pieces are falling out. How else does one explain kissing up to George Wallace Jr. - a frequent speaker before the racist Council of Conservative Citizens - by John McCain, who above all other currently sitting Republicans knows something about being on the wrong side of racism???

It's getting really bizzare out there!

A notice this morning on the volcano observatory's Web site said: "Based on seismicity, preliminary estimates indicate that this event is at least as energetic as the events of last week."

For every GOP attack on Al Gore, there is an answering shot - and not always from the Democrats!

For instance, The New York Times - too often far too cozy with Hizz Hindni$$ - had this to say about the illegal Bu$hCo motivation for the current Constitutional uproar - and noted the results most slyly:

In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month.
But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans.
"We'd chase a number, find it's a schoolteacher with no indication they've ever been involved in international terrorism - case closed," said one former F.B.I. official, who was aware of the program and the data it generated for the bureau. "After you get a thousand numbers and not one is turning up anything, you get some frustration."

The second round is incoming!

There is empirical evidence that not all conservatives are happy with George's selection ot ScAlito:

The conservative case against Alito

Alito is indeed a lot like Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. But, to conservatives, that should be a cause for concern rather than celebration. If conservatives mean what they say about opposing judicial activism, then they should be horrified at the prospect of another Scalia-like justice on the Supreme Court.

A study by Yale University law professor Paul Gewirtz and recent Yale Law School graduate Chad Golder shows that those supposed strict constructionists are actually the Supreme Court's biggest practitioners of judicial activism.

The study shows Thomas and Scalia to be the justices who are first and third most likely to rule congressional legislation unconstitutional.

Frequently overruling the judgment of the people's elected representatives is the essential definition of judicial activism.
The most recent explosion occurred very early on Saturday morning. It was followed by a lull lasting until this morning. By Sunday afternoon, officials had lowered the earlier red warning level to orange.Tuesday's eruption was likely similar in style to the six significant eruptions last week, "but a little more energetic," Coombs said.

Columnist Ben Adler's disdain didn't stop with Alito! He took some shots at Alito's liege:

Conservatives have always been suspicious of centralized power in Washington over individuals and their locally elected representatives. Many conservatives are upset at the Bush administration's abuse of executive power.
Ultimately the Alito nomination is a perfect test case for the conservative movement.
* Will it finally stand up to Bush, who has expanded the size, scope and power of the federal government?

* Will it form a coalition with liberals, based on its shared interest in protecting individual rights, to oppose this nominee?

* Or will it abandon the principles it has professed to hold dear in obeisance to the Washington Republicans who talk about limited government and freedom but actually expand government and trample civil liberties?

The answer to all these questions will be an important measure of the intellectual honesty of the conservative movement.

There are similar comments being posed about the other side of the aisle:

Time for stronger coffee inside the incumbent-dominated Democratic Party. Time to tell the Democratic Leadership Council to officially switch parties. Time for Democrats to stop missing opportunities and to speak out firmly and boldly to their real constituents, not their donor base.

Don't care? The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

This battle matters.

Let's hope that this resonates with Americans. King George is betting his personal freedom that it won't:

Is Bush Stupid -- Or Is America?

Many Americans believe George W. Bush is uninformed, simpleminded and, in a single word, stupid. But there is a different way to look at the evidence and conclude that while Bush may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, it is he who thinks the American people are the real dullards.

After all, Bush is the one who explains the “facts” about current events as if he’s speaking to people with the mental capacity of a five-year-old.

He also assumes – with some justification – that his listeners don’t mind being misled and lied to, as long as he gives them some bromides that make them feel good.
Bush’s critics also question his sincerity about democracy, given the fact that he seized power in 2001 after losing the popular vote and then getting his partisan allies on the U.S. Supreme Court to stop a state recount in Florida.

Many Americans are worried, too, about Bush’s consolidation of government power through what his supporters -- including Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito -- call the “unitary executive,” a radical concept that gives Bush many of the powers traditionally held by the Legislature and the Judiciary.

Yet, Bush’s comforting language about the blessings of democracy tends to soothe his listeners, like children hearing a bedtime story.

So, the question for the American people remains – is Bush so ill-informed that his war policy is guided by a false historical analysis and so forgetful that he can’t remember important events in which he played a leading role?

Or does Bush think that the American people are so gullible that they will buy whatever he sells them – as long as he does it with a folksy charm?

We'll soon find out the answer to that question. The good news is, it isn't necessarily going to go George's way.

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