Saturday, March 03, 2007

Lincoln Chafee wrote an op-ed in Thursday's New York Times pointing out the existence, pre-AUMF, of a now-frequently-overlooked "third way":

As someone who was in the Senate at the time, I have been struck by the contours of the debate. The situation facing the candidates who cast war votes has, to my surprise, often been presented as a binary one — they could either vote for the war, or not. There was no middle ground.

On the contrary. There was indeed a third way, which Senator James Jeffords, independent of Vermont, hailed at the time as "one of the most important votes we will cast in this process." And it was opposed by every single senator at the time who now seeks higher office.
The third way in question was the Levin amendment to S.J. Res. 45 (which was later abandoned in favor of the identical H.J. Res. 114 [which is now Public Law 107-243 {which is better known as the Authorization for the Use of Military Force in Iraq}]). Essentially, the amendment encouraged the president to exercise a bit of diplomatic restraint; it didn't bind him to the U.N., exactly, but it certainly reinforced the value of acknowledging the international community. Needless to say, the amendment failed (24-75), and here we are four years later.

As the block quote notes, every senator now running for the White House voted against the Levin amendment four years ago. In fact, a list of the highlights from the "75" side of that vote would include (and this is just a sample): Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Tom Daschle, Chris Dodd, Russ Feingold, Bob Graham, Chuck Hagel, Joe Lieberman, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, and, alas, my buddy John Edwards. It's entirely possible that each of those guys has an excellent and principled explanation for his or her opposition. Maybe, for instance, the amendment contained some sort of preposterous earmark, or perhaps an egregious spelling error. But as The Linc points out, there's no way to be sure, because none of those guys has ever really been asked about it. And that seems a pity.

John Aravosis at AMERICAblog points out the unsettling lack of media response to Ann Coulter's thoughtful, level-headed critique of John Edwards.

Four of the eight fired U.S. Attorneys have been subpoenaed by the House, and will testify this coming Tuesday.

The Judiciary subcommittee on commercial and administrative law approved the subpoenas for former prosecutors in Arkansas, New Mexico, Seattle and San Diego -- all of whom will be required to appear for testimony at a hearing Tuesday. The Senate Judiciary Committee announced plans for a similar hearing on the same day.

The moves mark the latest escalation in the battle between congressional Democrats and the Justice Department over the controversial dismissals of eight U.S. attorneys, at least five of whom were presiding over public corruption probes when they were fired.
Meanwhile, the White House is being unusually candid about its (indifference to? acceptance of? desire for?) the firings.
"If any agency wants to make a change regarding a presidential appointee, they run that change by the White House counsel's office," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino. "That is standard operating procedure, and that is what happened here. The White House did not object to the Justice Department decision."
As usual, the muckrakers are raking muck.

(Fun with analogies! TPMmuckraker : U.S. Attorneys :: firedoglake : Scooter Libby.)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Robert Reich writes briefly in support of the union bill that passed the House this afternoon. It's probably a moot point, since the House is pretty much the end of this bill's road, but it's worth reading all the same (if for no other reason [ahem] than the fact that it gives me a chance to plug Reich's book, which I enjoyed quite a lot).

(And incidentally, here's a funny thing I just noticed: the book that I linked to is fully titled Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America. Which Amazon's URL handily encapsulates as "Reason-Liberals-Will-Battle-America." Very different messages.)

TAPPED, via Garance Franke-Ruta and Ezra Klein, is collectively pretty sure that Gore's not running.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

An interesting op-ed from the founders of, in which they argue (pretty effectively) that politicians - even the Barack-Obamiest of them - are utterly failing to use online video to its full potential.

Bob Ney went out on a high note this morning, leaving for prison on the heals of a thoughtful and poignant startlingly well-written email to his remaining friends and supporters.

my family and i have lost everything on an economical basis, house, health care, possesions, but so have other people, people in the district, many, have lost all. and yes , that is painful for anyone that has gone through it, but, i am so fortunate to have my wife and children, we are so rich with family, friends like you, loved ones that are there for us, and full of hope for a good future.
That he can profess repentance in one paragraph ("am i sorry for things that happened, absolutely"), and then in the very next paragraph compare himself to former constituents of his who have "lost all," I think, goes a long way toward explaining why he's on his way to prison in the first place.

This U.S. Attorney thing seems to have some serious legs. (I'm even giving it its own tag, on the assumption that I'll write more about it in the future, when I'm not quite as lazy as I am right now.)

TPMmuckraker is all over it.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Hill's Aaron Blake notes the growing movement among Arkansas Republicans - and to be clear, "growing movement" is entirely my phrase; the actual article calls it something closer to "a couple of overexcited bloggers" - encouraging Gov. Mike Huckabee to abandon his presidential campaign in favor of making a run at Mark Pryor's Senate seat.

I'm of two minds on this one. On the one hand, I've mentioned before my general fear of Huckabee, and I admit that I'd like to see him off the national stage. And honestly, I don't think I'd mind having him as a member of the Senate: he's like Sam Brownback, only jovial.

But on the other hand, I'm not blind to the big-picture expected-value considerations here: [(the likelihood of Huckabee going to the White House) * (the crazy, crazy shit that he'd do the country if he got there)] vs. [(the likelihood of Huckabee going to the Capitol) * (the cost of a power-shift if the loss of Pryor's seat leads to the reversion of Senate control to the GOP)]. Given what I'd estimate to be the considerably greater chance he has to win a Senate race, I suppose I should probably be rooting for Huckabee to continue his White House run.

I tend to suspect, though, that the discussion is moot: considering the very real possibility that Pryor would beat him in the Senate race (Pryor's not fantastically popular, but neither is he a slouch), and further considering that if Huckabee abandons his presidential run only to lose a Senate campaign, his political career is all-but-tanked, I'd have to imagine that Huckabee's feelings about a plan like this one would be, at best, skeptical. Still, fun to think about.

Nick Tosches, the author of a novel called In the Hand of Dante that I once read the first fifty mediocre pages of, tells the entertaining story of his quest to divine the origins of the stock Windows desktop photo called Autumn. Quite worth a read.

(Thanks to Pogue's Posts for the link.)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

This is really very funny.

On women in politics:

As the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards once noted, if you are a woman in politics, the media is coming for you no matter what you do. "If you're single, you couldn't get a man. If you're divorced, you couldn't keep your man. If you're married, you've abandoned your man. If you're a widow, you killed your man." ...

To be taken seriously, women have the almost impossible job of covering every flank. They have to convince the press and the public that they're simultaneously assertive and empathetic, independent and trustworthy, decisive and kind.
And that's a lot of convincing.

Monday, February 26, 2007

This is almost too incredible to believe (which, admittedly, is about what you'd expect from an article headlined "Sharpton's Ancestor Was Owned by Thurmond's"): according to a genealogical study released today, one of Strom Thurmond's distant cousins once owned Al Sharpton's great-grandfather, a South Carolina slave named Coleman Sharpton. Seriously. What are the odds of that?

(Also be sure to note this marvelous quote:

While some of Thurmond's relatives contacted by the Daily News expressed skepticism about the report, Doris Strom Costner, a cousin of the late senator, said Sharpton should be proud to know his family's connection to hers. "He's in a mighty good family," she said by telephone from Edgefield, S.C.
Yeah, because "pride" is exactly what I'd be feeling. Nothing says "honor and integrity" quite like the Thurmond family name.)

To celebrate the end of the weekend, here's that genuine insight* that I promised you:

Toward the end of the second season of The West Wing, while the staff was worrying about how to handle the disclosure of the President's multiple sclerosis, there was a scene in which Charlie realized that the Bartlets may have been suckered by some innocuous college paperwork into lying about the President's health.

Whilst watching that episode about a month ago, I had a startling, Charlie-like revelation regarding Sen. Barack Obaminator and his much-ballyhooed youthful indiscretions. According to his CV, Obama practiced for a few years in the early '90s; but it wasn't until 1995 that he publicly acknowledged the use of cocaine. I'm not a member of the Illinois bar, but I can guarantee you that the bar application contains at least one question about past drug use. And lying on a bar application is unquestionably grounds for disbarment. He may very well have answered the question truthfully; knowing what little I know about him, I suspect he did. But if he didn't, that bar application could be serious trouble.

How insightful!

* - I haven't done any sort of due diligence on this one, mostly because finding out that other people are all over this idea would ruin the illusion that it's a genuine insight. So if you've read this before, forgive me. And if you've actually written this before, well... you're a jerk, stop stealing my insights.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Al Gore announced nothing. Donna Brazile has let us all down.