Dinner Crashers

So, about Tuesday.

Yeah, there was definitely a security breach of some sort. Heads are going to roll. And that should be the story. Not the crashers-who-shall-not-be-named. I was walking from a parking garage on I Street to the White House – three and a half blocks, tops – and on the way there this morning I heard at least two conversations that referenced the crashers. In the briefing room, I hear their names all over. They’re instant celebrities – which is of course what they wanted. And it makes me sick that we’re letting them attain such status.

If you spend much time on internet discussion boards, you soon learn a hard and fast rule: Do Not Feed The Trolls. By “feeding the trolls”, it means giving disruptive people fuel for argument or even just paying attention to them. Ignore them, and they go away. Continue reading

Shinetastic Blog Post

Hopefully, this will take care of my Shiny Suds jones.

Hold Outs

angle by Lee Stranahan

Nearly everyone is talking about the four Democrats threatening to filibuster the health care bill – Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln, Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson – is using the algebra of how the voters will react. For example, TPM says of Landrieu…

Her constituency is very broad, she’s mindful of the warnings of industry, she has leverage, and she’s using it. But…she was just re-elected. It’s almost inconceivable that her vote on health care in late 2009/early 2010 will matter very much when she’s up for re-election in 2014. Strictly on political terms, she should be a company Democrat right now, though it’s unclear if the political consideration is all that’s driving her decision-making on the issue.

Hmm. Yeah. Quite a mystery. Why WOULD that Mary Landrieu ever want to stop the Public Option? I wonder what could POSSIBLY be driving her decision making on the issue. I wonder….could it be….SATAN?

Well, close. It’s lobbyist money. Duh.

As FDL points out…

  • According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Sen. Landrieu has raised $1,668,693 from health care and insurance interests throughout her federal political career.
  • Of the $1,668,693 in health care and insurance money Sen. Landrieu has raised, just 36% came from in state donors, with 64% coming from out of state interests.

This health care bill is a bonanza for the insurance industry. They are fine with it passing…as long as there’s no Public Option. If a Public Option is created, they know it’s a toehold towards Single Payer. Not much of one but WITHOUT the Public Option, this bill is a straight giveaway with very few downsides. The Opt-Out and Trigger water it down enough where it MAY be safe for them but this is the Insurance Industry we’re dealing with. They hate risk.

Given all that pressure, I’m not sure what will sway more than a couple of the holdouts.

It begins … again

Now is the time – with Navy SEALs facing a court-martial, and with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to face trial in New York – for the familiar name calling to begin.

The rule of law is the rule of law, and the laws of war are just that.  These are the laws that keep us civilized and hold us accountable.  No one is above these laws, and no one should be … as much as anyone would like to wish their own culpability away.

However, in this country each person has the right to a fair and speedy trial whomever they are  or for whatever they stand accused.  It is for these reasons I love my country, and appreciate how hard those who do battle on my behalf work – whether it be on the literal battlefield or a court of law or in a city council meeting.

But, now is the time when this retired and deceased Army Master Sergeant’s daughter must – along with every other liberal patriot, and perhaps every other liberal soldier – face stinging allegations of being lovers of terrorism, face charges of supporting those who would do us harm, and (most ridiculously) hear the ignorant charges of  ‘treason,’ which not only is factually incorrect, but insulting.

Taking politics personally is what destroys constructive discourse, and refusing to have a civil debate without hurling accusations at another who not only likely understands what our civil servants and soldiers endure, but also may directly know how it affects their families is uncalled for, and sad.

In a perfect world, we know the outcome of all things.  In a perfect world, we know every little pain someone is enduring in order to provide the appropriate response or assistance.  In a perfect world, the intentions of the accused are known, and justice is always served.

We do not live in a perfect world.  We live in a complicated-shades-of-gray-world, where little is what it seems and where we don’t know the whole story.  Have patience with each other.  Let each of the accused stand trial, and let them be punished or proved innocent according to the law.

That said, each and every male influence on my life in my family has been in the military, and when you call me a ‘terrorist lover’ or anything nearing that description because I prefer to adhere to the rules of law, when each of these men helped to shape who I am today, you are using fighting words …. make no mistake, I AM MY FATHER’S DAUGHTER … that sort of talk is unacceptable from either side.

P.S.  Oh, also, Mr. President please release those who are being held without charge to the country of their origin.  Thx.

Billie’s Quickies … KSM, home fragrance, and the “bad black mother”

What a fabulous idea!  I don’t eat a lot of fruit, but I know a lot of folks who do … what a great idea for adding fragrance on the cheap to your home.

Here’s an interesting idea … is it possible Murdoch is shunning Google because of its oh-so-special relationship with the President?

  • Well this little game is rather addictive – h/t Neatorama.
  • Very interesting blog post on the KSM conundrum – “…what to do with KSM. Clearly, this new administration can not follow in the footsteps of its predecessor, lest it fall victim to the same fate. But the people still demand justice. So what are you going to do? Another military tribunal that goes nowhere, or do you scratch that idea and take it to a federal court as America has always done for these type of terrorism cases in the first place? (see Ramzi Yousef; see also Zarcarias Moussaoui; see also Jose Padilla).”
  • Very great take on “Precious” from a religious point of view. H/T Melissa Harris-Lacewell (@harrislacewell).  “…if churches don’t see their need of the Precious living on their block. Not if we realize that our single garment of destiny has no hem without her. Not if we miss opportunities to have truth-telling break the demonic silences in our midst. This movie is one that bears theological weight upon the issue of real presence in the world, and the one scene featuring the inadequacy of the church-as-institution is one worth mulling over. For if we refuse Precious, have we not refused the gift of our Lord?”
  • Toobin on KSM:  “Leval has confidence in the ability of the American judicial system to dispense justice even in a case as difficult as this one. ‘You have to be very careful in jury selection, ask the right questions, identify the jurors who will be fair,’ he said. ‘Judges and juries can be protected. I don’t see any reason why the system can’t handle this (KSM) case.’”
  • As per usual, Harris-Lacewell’s gripping interpretation of racial and feminist politics:  “At the turn of the century many public reformers held African American women particularly accountable for the “degenerative conditions” of the race. Black women were blamed for being insufficient housekeepers, inattentive mothers, and poor educators of their children. Because women were supposed to maintain society’s moral order, any claim about rampant disorder was a burden laid specifically at women’s feet.”


The Open Secret


angle by Lee Stranahan

HuffPost reports that NY Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer was on CBS’s Face the Nation this morning and saying he is “assuring his more conservative Democratic colleagues that the public option included in the Senate bill is "modest" and not the first step in a government takeover of the insurance industry.”

One small problem – nearly every progressive I read in the blogosphere who is defending this health care reform bill is doing so by explaining how it actually IS a first step towards a Single Payer government takeover of the insurance industry.

Progressives who support the bill making it’s way through Congress aren’t shy about saying that the current bill has lots of problems but that a puyblic option will be expanded and improved upon until it will eventually lead to a real Universal Health Care system. Should we be hoping that Schumer is successful in tricking his fellow Senators?


Few American citizens would like to see the Federal Government fail.  But, on August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina – only a category two or three hurricane by the time it hit the city of New Orleans – caused shoddily constructed levees built by the Army Corps of Engineers to break.

Thousands were killed, and thousands misplaced and traumatized in one of the biggest natural, and now so decided by U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval, man-made disasters in U.S. history.

While this is far from justice served for the thousands whose lives were forever changed by a disaster that could have been averted, this judgment hopefully will hold those whom we thought could never be sued to account.  While it’s a small victory, it is a victory nonetheless.  This is a good day.

Termination of privacy and termination of insurance choice?

Last month an Oklahoma County Court Judge ruled to dissolve a restraining order that has been filed against the state on the grounds that House Bill 1595 – a bill to prohibit abortions based on sex-selection, and to enforce a reporting procedure to track abortion statistics – is unconstitutional on the assertion that it violates the Oklahoma Constitution’s “Single Subject Rule.” If the restraining order had been overturned by the judge before debate on the constitutionality of the bill argued in court, the bill would have become law on Nov. 1 – before Dec. 4 proceedings even began.  With the Stupak Amendment, severely limiting a woman’s choice of insurance provider, now tacked on to the Affordable Health Care for America Act … there will be a double-whammy to pro-choice Americans and pro-choice Oklahomans if either – or both – pass.

Already the issue in Oklahoma has been receiving national attention because of what many pro-choice advocates, doctors, and those with privacy concerns consider an unnecessary and potentially dangerous collection of publicly accessible data about patients.

What may have been a little-known bill to Oklahoma residents now could affect doctor-patient confidentiality, narrowly increase the chances a patient could be identified, and – according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s Oklahoma Branch Vice Chair – could increase the likelihood of dangerous “back-alley” abortions.
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Those Anonymous Leaks

angle by Lee Stranahan

Steve Clemons from The Washington Note has a piece in the Daily Beast today called The Assassination of Greg Craig.

The article concerns the circumstances surrounding the recent ouster of White House counsel Greg Craig. The story makes it clear that the Craig exit was “the Obama team’s first assassination by leak.”  As Steve writes,

Such intrigue and innuendo stand in sharp contrast to the internal vow of key stakeholders in Barack Obama’s campaign, as reported in David Plouffe’s insider account Audacity to Win—whom he says vowed not to allow “@#%holes” and leaks and the blame game to disrupt any aspect of their campaign. When problems arose or mistakes were made, the president and his team were forthright and dealt with each other directly and confessed their sins, when they committed them, to the public.

Steve’s article doesn’t mention health care reform, where debate has been shaped for months by anonymous leaks. Many Obama apologists spend a good deal of time attacking the these leaks as rumor but I’ve had the sense for a while that the White House was actually the source of many of them.

I wrote Steve Clemons and asked him, “There have been a ton of anonymous leaks on health care reform – have any of them had tacit White House approval?”

Here’s Steve’s response.

The health care leaks that have come from administration sources seem to have the approval of those at the helm of the political operation — particularly when it has come to the question of whether the public option should be in or out of a final package.  But there have been leaks on other subjects as well.  The reason that there seems to be tacit approval of some of these leaks is the disinterest the White House has shown in tracking leakers and plugging them up.  Also, the leaks came at key moments in the debate designed to fight back against those who were distorting Obama’s health care plan intentions.

So, yes — leaking things out to the press seems to be a key part of the White House tool kit in shaping public opinion and wrestling with political opponents.

Oh, Mika

Mika, Mika, Mika.

You couldn’t just leave last week’s Huffington Post column be, could you?

The first post, while semi-controversial I suppose, was actually thoughtful, and probably mostly well received … and, then you really did it.  You had to push it, and in so doing managed to insult feminists – yourself included.  I hate to break it to you, but you are pretty much a feminist.  I only say ‘pretty much’ because you do your DAMNEDEST to try and convince yourself that you are not.

You may very well be correct, that women steadfastly pursuing perfection in their career path should not forget to have kids … really, that’s just biology.  And, not every woman can afford to freeze her eggs … so, in that case you are correct – we shouldn’t forget.  If we want them, that is.  I thought you were pretty clear in conveying that message, and I don’t think there were as many women disagreeing with you as you think.  It may have been that they were disagreeing with you for a few more reasons than you may be willing to admit.

Reason #1 – You are an intelligent woman who – to the absolute frustration of feminists everywhere – continue to allow yourself to be Joe’s doormat.  Scarborough is also an intelligent person, but you do not agree with him A LOT … and, rather than speak your mind, you hide your face in embarrassment and don’t call him out on ONE IOTA OF ANYTHING EVER. That’s irritating, Mika.  We feel badly when you let him do this, and lose respect for you each time you do.

Reason #2 – See what great advice this is Mika? “… you have to be fearless and force yourself to get outside of your comfort zone.” How wonderful, and true.  Great advice from a successful woman, I’d say.  Or how about this wonderful thing? “Don’t make your journey through life harder by placing rules on yourself like, ‘I can’t get married till I get promoted to your dream job.'” See, that’s pretty okay advice, and very soundly feminist … why should women place rules on themselves?  Answer – they shouldn’t.  They can have it all, and they oftentimes do.  This is why it’s so uncomfortable for us to watch you squirm and whisper your opinion rather than shout it!

Reason #3 Today’s near retraction of all of the encouraging words you give to women who wish to have it all … Mika, it’s very disappointing.  First: “… since diapers, bras and babies have been seen as symbols of oppression from the Old World run by the likes of Don Draper … “ Oh, Mika.  That’s not what feminism is all about … this makes me sad.  I recently worked on a story myself that was about a seminar especially designed for women.  The first thing the women – strangely – felt the need to do was disqualify it as ‘feminist.’  “We aren’t about man-hating or male-bashing,” they said.   As if this sums up the feminist experience any more than your assertion that it’s all about babies and bras.  Well, these ladies were about the same age as you, so maybe I can only assume that you aren’t old enough to have been faced with a woman’s experience of having only recently been given the right to vote, nor young enough to have little girls dressed up as nymphettes or Lolita’s thrust in your face in advertising through your teen years … maybe, but that might be ageist of me to assume.

Oh Mika, you couldn’t stop there.  No, you continued:  “For those who still want to take off their bras and burn them, so be it. But I’d rather find one to wear that is pretty. And when it comes off, its not because it’s being thrown into the fireplace.” Of course, Mika, because no feminist would be caught dead wearing pretty shoes or a bustier?  Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Mika, don’t let Joe or the rest of the team rub off on you – Joe may think that all feminists are butch, but you know that’s not true.

On behalf of all feminists, we wish the following Mika would come back: