Archive for May 8th, 2007

by Jay Stevens

Steve Benen is one of my favorite bloggers. No, strike that. He is my favorite blogger, which should be evident to regular readers of my “Links…” post. He’s prolific, his posts are well-written and well-thought-out, and he seems to be always right.

Well…almost always.

He recently wrote a post criticizing Rep. Ted Poe’s quoting of Nathan Bedford Forrest on the House floor. To Benen – and a number of other liberal bloggers – Forrest’s background as slave trader, Confederate general, and founder of the KKK implied that Poe is a racist f*ck:

Shouldn’t this be a bigger deal? Given all of the racial problems of the Republican Party, isn’t it rather scandalous for a Republican lawmaker to rely on the words of the founder of the KKK?

Er…yes…but this was the quote: “Git thar fustest with the mostest.” (The correct quote is “git thar fust with the most men.”)

Sorry, Steve, but this is a form of ad hominem attack. It’s bad rhetorical form to discount an idea because of the moral makeup of its source. Despite Forrest’s politics, racism, and battlefield barbarism (Fort Pillow massacre, anyone?), he is also known by military historians as perhaps the Civil War’s greatest tactician.

Rightie Ed Morrisey:

It’s an anecdote used by people to talk about military strategy, as Poe clearly did, instead of some invocation of racism. It’s not particularly bright of Poe to quote Forrest — especially since the quote is essentially meaningless as well as fabricated — but discussing Forrest’s military acumen (which was considerable) doesn’t mean people support the Klan, a point that is rather obvious when considering authors such as Catton who catalogued Forrest’s strategic thinking.

Well put, but then is followed – as are many rightie responses – with finger pointed to former KKKer, Sen. Robert Byrd, who happens to be a Democrat, as if somehow Byrd’s presence in the party negates all of the eliminationist, nativist, and racist rhetoric flowing from the right lately. (And there are a whole lotta links I didn’t post.)

At worst, Poe was giving the ol’ wink-and-nudge to Confederacy idolizers and their passion’s racist not-so-subtle subtext. And to be fair to Benen, Poe’s office’s explanation of the quote didn’t help quash that suspicion:

“The reference to Forrest was used in an historical context comparing the request to Congress for support of the Confederate troops to the request that is being made today by our Generals in Iraq.”

Huh?

In all seriousness, there should be no prohibition from bringing up people’s names or accomplishments because of their background. Should we ditch the interstate highway system because Hitler came up with the idea first? Should we spurn pasta because Italy went for Mussolini? Should we push Texas into the sea because it propelled Bush into the nation’s top political seat? Well…now that you mention it…

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Terror attack!

by Jay Stevens

Dig this:

Gee. A terror plot involving Christian radicals. Imagine that. And to think I got jumped yesterday (and today) in email and attempted nasty, unprintable comments for expressing concern as to whether or not the bombs seized in Alabama involved white supremacists, and today we read about a terrorist plot against a woman’s clinic that was supposed to take place on American soil – planned out by ……………… Christian radicals.

You idiots on the wingnut right who only see the media and ‘Islamofacists’ as the “real” enemy ever gonna get a clue? Ever going to get beyond slamming people for rightly worrying that an explosion or a thwarted plot is the work of an Christofascist? Was your first thought today when you heard about this plot was that it was a “Islamic” plot? I wonder which one of the righty ‘nuts declared the news of this thwarted plot as ‘overblown’ first?

Ever since I saw the newstory about the clinic bomb, I’ve been wanting to take a rightie rant about terrorists and do a find-and-replace. I didn’t have to wait long, thanks to the idiots who wanted to shoot up a military base.

Basically I took “Sista Toldja”’s hysteria-laden post about a “Islamic militant terror plot” to attack Fort Dix, and replaced a few key words and links.

Not to downplay the Fort Dix gang…yet, but the administration does have a history of passing off less-than-dangerous and less-than-organized plots as proof of a world-wide organized Islamic terror threat. What’s already known is that the Fort Dix six were not affiliated with any known terrorist group.

Were they dangerous? Of course, just like any other group of alienated twenty-somethings with assault rifles. (See, “Shootings, Virginia Tech,” for more details.)

But what’s not in doubt is that they were nowhere near as well-organized or had as much history of violence as anti-abortion clinic bombers and militia groups, both mentioned in the links above.

My point is that terrorism isn’t inherently Islamic – or even religious — or the purveyance of dark-skinned illegal immigrants. To simplify the problem to a set of preprogrammed ideological values only diminishes the complexity of the problem.

I’m happy the Fort Dix six were caught before they could act – I’m especially happy for the soldiers stationed and training there – but let’s not pretend they’re the vanguard of an “invasion” of Islamic radicals or something, eh? There are plenty of violent loonies right here at home we need to deal with.

by Jay Stevens

We got ourselves a humdinger this legislative session.

Governor Schweitzer called the special session of the Legislature this weekend – starting Thursday — and has declared it will meet for three days, through Saturday.

Here’s what we know from the news reports. Schweitzer and his administration have met with “a dozen Republican legislators,” including House Majority Leader Mike Lange. Apparently the Governor and the rogue Republicans have struck some sort of deal.

My thoughts, and things to look for:

— It appears that John Sinrud, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and Scott Sales, Speaker of the House, were excluded from the deal.

That’s huge, and means that the Governor has to line up more than just a couple of Republicans to his tax and budget plans. Sinrud can table any appropriations bill – such as, say, a budget bill – that passes through his committee. Sales can tweak procedures to sit on bills. He can use “pocket vetos” – simply putting passed bills into a desk drawer or refuse to sign them. Both men have this past legislative session used those procedural tactics to deal with legislation or legislators they don’t like. (Yes, a lot of bills vanished.)

In order to bypass these procedural difficulties, the Governor needs 60 House votes to “blast” bills out of committee. That means he needs at least eleven Republicans to vote with a unified Democratic bloc to get bills past the Sales/Sinrud bottleneck.

— If Schweitzer does have his “dozen” Republican legislators, we’ll see some internecine sparks fly on the House floor. Maybe even more angry speeches from Sales again questioning the morality of his opponents and no doubt some of his one-time allies.

If Schweitzer does have his “dirty dozen,” then we may be witnessing the beginning of an internal struggle for the Republican party. Scott Sales won the House speakership over the more moderate wing of his party by a single vote; is this the first sign of a moderate versus radical struggle in Republican electoral politics, we’ll see intensify in 2008? Are state party leaders and donors pulling the party back to the center?

— Schweitzer’s plans and call for a special session caught the Democratic leadership completely off guard.

That doesn’t bode well for some of his pet projects, notably the “green” energy bill he tried to pawn off on the Legislature this session. A complete mess, possibly illegal as it’s written, only one Democrat voted against it the last time around – Jim Elliot, a Senator who’s facing term limits, and who had nothing to lose politically by opposing the Governor. You can bet more Democrats step up against this dog when the bill threatens to become reality. Does the Governor have enough Republican votes to overturn his own party’s defection on questionable legislation?

— Right now, this is the Governor’s game. By most accounts, his leadership – or lack of it – was a major reason why the 2007 Legislature’s regular session failed so spectacularly. (The other major contributor, of course, was demagoguery from the House leadership.)

 I’m really beginning to hear a lot of negative comments about the Governor’s communication style, and a lot of internal, muffled disgruntlement with policies and politeness stemming out of Helena.

The bottom line is this: if Schweitzer pulls this special session off – and there’s a lot of reasons why this session could crash and burn – it’ll be a major political coup for the Governor. If so, it’ll be seen as a validation for Schweitzer’s diplomacy and policy-making. That’s not a good thing, but I’ll take it if it comes with a budget and the public humiliation of right-wing extremists Sales and Sinrud.

(I know the Good Guv reads the blogs, so let me make a personal appeal: a crash is coming. Poor policy and poor manners will catch up to you. It may not happen now, it may not happen before your re-election; but if you’re thinking bigger and beyond, you need energy policy that’s well written and effective. And you need friends.)

So there’s my views on the special session. Your thoughts?

Links…

Tester kills liquid coal bill. Is he splitting off from the Good Guv over coal-to-gas? Let’s hope so, because that scheme ain’t got legs, IMHO, tho’ Eastern Montana is getting goose bumps just thinking about it.

The Senate kills a bill that would allow consumers to buy prescription drugs from Canada. So much for “free trade.” Baucus was among those that took this legislation down.

Montana legislative special session to convene on Thursday. Jeff Mangan is surprised at the timing and length of the session, the Good Guv’s optimism, and wants to know what the Governor knows, and when he knew it.

Ed Kemmick has a modest proposal on how to lubricate legislative relations.

Sarpy Sam doles out the blame for the infusion of contaminated wheat gluten into our food supply. Warning: you do not escape his critical eye.

Canada has better health care than the US. Oh yeah, it costs half as much.

In an effort to create its own politically-biased video web site – QubeTV – Nicole Belle sees a pattern in which the conservative movement seeks to create its own “reality.” Kind of cult-like, if you ask me.

Obama tells Detroit car manufacturers they need to start implementing better fuel efficiency.

Dave Neiwert kicks in his two cents on the racism – subtle and otherwise – surrounding Obama’s entry into presidential politics.

Jon Stewart on the first Republican presidential debate.

It’s one thing for Giuliani to flip flop on abortion, but it’s another altogether to have made donations to pro-life bugbear, Planned Parenthood. IMHO, Giuliani’s stance on abortion is the only reasonable thing about him. And it’s what will sink his candidacy for the GOP nomination.

Pogie’s found his 2008 presidential candidate: Eugene V Debs.

Kevin Drum points out some of the ideological absurdity that created the 2003 Medicare prescription bill. Say! Wasn’t Baucus a key player in this?

Shane points out that SCOTUS nominations matter, and lists the folks who both voted to end the filibuster, and for Alito. Say! Didn’t Baucus vote for cloture on the Alito nomination?

Aftermath of Kansas tornado hampered by missing equipment deployed to Iraq.

Robert Gates has a mind of his own when it comes to Iraq. That’s sad that things have gotten so bad most of us are relieved that we have a rogue Defense Secretary.

Republican legislators, too, and getting nervous and considering timelines. Shane’s take.

The case for endless war, debunked.

LA Times: “Bring them home.”

A primer of the DoJ hiring practices, starring Goofus and Gallant.

Dept. of irony: DoJ Civil Rights division appears to have discriminated against African-Americans in its hirings…

John Doolittle accuses the DoJ of searching his home to take the heat off of Alberto Gonzalez. (A nice profile of Doolittle here…)

Former White House staffer confirms impression that the administration is isolated from reality.

Bush at all-time low in polls, and is dragging all of the GOP presidential hopefuls with him.

Iconic Republicans are turning into Democrats, thanks to Bush et al. Welcome aboard, you Eisenhowers, (Teddy) Roosevelts, and Goldwaters!

Miliblogs praised by Big Sky Blog’s David.

Bloggers are a bunch of young punks…not!




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