Thursday, February 08, 2007

Pretty Weak

John Edwards today

The tone and the sentiment of some of Amanda Marcotte's and Melissa McEwan's posts personally offended me. It's not how I talk to people, and it's not how I expect the people who work for me to talk to people. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that kind of intolerant language will not be permitted from anyone on my campaign, whether it's intended as satire, humor, or anything else. But I also believe in giving everyone a fair shake. I've talked to Amanda and Melissa; they have both assured me that it was never their intention to malign anyone's faith, and I take them at their word. We're beginning a great debate about the future of our country, and we can't let it be hijacked. It will take discipline, focus, and courage to build the America we believe in.

And therefore....?????

It sounds like Edwards is keeping them on but took them to the woodshed in agreeing to do so.

Democrats need to learn how Republicans "apologize": issue a non-apology-apology that attacks the messenger. Edwards needed to do an "up-yours" here, and whiffed.

While I'm glad that Amanda and Melissa were not thrown overboard for the sake of a balding, pompous, in-your-face loudmouth who I can only describe as thoroughly contemptible, this just won't cut it. The Bill Donahue's of the world are bullies who need to be cut down to size.

Is "The Catholic League" an Astro-Turf Group?

From AmericaBlog

Check out who this "Catholic group" is affiliated with.

Members of the Catholic League's board of advisers include conservative author and media analyst L. Brent Bozell III; conservative radio host and syndicated columnist Linda Chavez; right-wing pundit and author Dinesh D'Souza; former Republican presidential and senatorial candidate Alan Keyes; and National Review Washington editor Kate O'Beirne.

Yeah, some Catholic group. It reads like the board of the Heritage Foundation.

So what really happened here is that the Associated Press got a call from a bunch of conservative longtime Republican party activists criticizing a lead Democratic candidate, but didn't suspect a partisan motive, and didn't bother informing its readers.


And among Bill Donahue's greatest hits list are

Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It's not a secret, OK? And I'm not afraid to say it. That's why they hate this movie. It's about Jesus Christ, and it's about truth. It's about the messiah. Hollywood likes anal sex.

I don't know what about -- the queer-bashing is all about. I'm pretty good about picking out who queers are and I didn't see any in the movie. I'm usually pretty good at that.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue said lesbians were "something I'd expect to see in an asylum, frankly" when he spoke to Justice Sunday, a gathering of far-right evangelical Christian activists.

h/t to AmericaBlog and Atrios for the above gems. Keep 'em comin'.

Meanwhile, the Edwards campaign still hasn't said what it intends to do regarding the employment of Amanda and Melissa. There are, however, already a number of diaries on the Edwards website imploring the campaign not to let the right-wing determine its personnel policies or its policies period.

What's worse is, apparently Donahue's astro-turf hate group has punked the Democrats before, as recently as 2004 when Edwards was the VP nominee:

A more recent -- and relevant -- example was when the Kerry-Edwards '04 campaign pushed aside the DNC's religious outreach coordinator in response to pressure from -- wait for it -- Bill Donohue's Catholic League. The National Catholic Reporter's 2004 assessment of that situation:

The Kerry campaign has a gang-that-can’t-shoot-straight quality when it comes to outreach to the religious community, the net result of which is that they hurt their friends and give credibility to their critics.

The August 4 resignation of Rev. Brenda Bartella Peterson from her post as Director of Religious Outreach at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is the most recent example. Soon after her appointment, the New York-based Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights revealed that Peterson had joined 31 other religious leaders in filing a friend of the court brief in support of removing “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. (Kerry, by the way, supports keeping “under God” in the Pledge.)

Officially Peterson jumped, telling Religious News Service that it was “no longer possible for me to do my job effectively.” But it sure sounds like she was pushed.

Previously, the Kerry campaign silenced religious outreach coordinator Mara Vanderslice after the Catholic League issued press releases which labeled her soft on anti-Catholicism because she had engaged in civil disobedience with, among others, the AIDS activist organization, Act-UP.

Perhaps the DNC and the Kerry campaign should have never hired Peterson or Vanderslice. And, God knows, there’s truth to the idea that Kerry doesn’t need more distractions related to religion. But to give the press-release-machine of the Catholic League veto power over Democratic campaign staff strikes some as, at best, an overreaction; to others, it represents a fundamental misunderstanding about the Catholic community and its influential players.

No one who signs up for a presidential campaign should be surprised if they get turned into an issue, and no one hiring people for such a campaign should be surprised if staffers get attacked. That's how things roll. Also: No one should be surprised that Donohue is again creating a controversy about a Democratic staffer, since it worked out so well for him just two and a half years ago. The issue is whether Democrats can figure out how to fight off such attacks.

In the meantime, why not drop the Edwards campaign a line supporting Amanda and Melissa, and letting the campaign know if it doesn't already, who the person is who's demanding the campaign bow to its wishes.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

How Does This Stuff Get Printed?

Several people have already commented on the David Broder column in which he repeats Republican talking points about Democrats and the military. Here is the money paragraph in what is otherwise a rather vanilla "I'm mailin' this in" article:

One of the losers in the weekend oratorical marathon was retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who repeatedly invoked the West Point motto of "Duty, Honor, Country," forgetting that few in this particular audience have much experience with, or sympathy for, the military. The larger disaster was the long harangue of former Alaska senator Mike Gravel, a strident critic of almost everything and promoter of a folly -- a national initiative process -- that not even a deranged blogger could love. Someone has to give him the hook before the real debates begin.

So, "few" in this Democratic crowd have much "experience" with the military? What kind of ass-clown do you have to be to type this and not be struck by the ludicrous irony; I mean how many times do we keep having to go to the well and report the fact that among Democratics in Congress, for starters, a far greater share of them have military "experience" than their Republican colleagues? And, um, how about those brave souls sitting in the WH who have no trouble sending other people's kids off to war but couldn't find time themselves to serve when there was a war going on in their prime-war years, and when there was a draft no less?

Broder used to be a "journalist". In the old days that involved, you know, investigating and stuff about what was going on. Today, all J-school grads have to do is go to Google. Apparently Broder feels himself beyond the need to stoop to such low levels of drudgery.

And then he references someone I've never heard of, Mike Gravel, and his apparently loony idea of a national initiative process, which, as Broder summarizes, is so goofy that not even a "deranged blogger" could love it. WTF?

Meanwhile, I'm sure Broder continues to think that Very Serious people like Joe Lieberman and John McCain are Still Serious and constitute the only people who's ideas are worth offering the public.

Yes, we're deranged alright.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Rethinking the Afghanistan War

It's an almost common article of faith among liberals that while we opposed the invasion of Iraq we humbly submit that the American invasion of Afghanistan was justified. The Taliban was harboring Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda attacked us on 911. So we're not against all wars, we're really not soft, we don't just automatically reject the extension of American military power and the use of force, and so on.

But was the invasion of Afghanistan a risk free choice, an option without more troubling and widespread implications?

I'm beginning to think not. Or at least not in the manner it was executed and especially in the form of authorization it gave the administration.

Consider the administration's rationale in the on-going treatment of detainees. In particular, consider the case of Ali al-Marri, who was in the news last week.

A Bush administration lawyer urged the panel to dismiss al-Marri's appeal, arguing that under the Military Commissions Act, the courts have no jurisdiction to hear cases of detained aliens who are declared enemy combatants.

David B. Salmons, assistant to the solicitor general, also argued that the government properly classified al-Marri as an enemy combatant, citing what the government said is evidence that he trained at an al-Qaida camp and met with Osama bin Laden and suspected Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

Judge Diana G. Motz asked Salmons what would stop the president from declaring anyone an enemy combatant, including those who are citizens of nations not at war with the U.S., including al-Marri.

"What I don't understand is how you make one an enemy combatant," she said. "What did the president look to, to call someone an enemy combatant?"

Salmons said that Congress and the Supreme Court have given the president the authority to fight terrorism and prevent additional attacks on the nation, including declaring those with suspected al-Qaida links as enemy combatants. Furthermore, Salmons argued, al-Marri is "clearly an al-Qaida operative and qualifies as an enemy combatant."

"If the U.S. can do this, it's contrary to the Constitution," Motz said. "It would give other nations the ability to do that by declaring a U.S. citizen an enemy combatant."

Salmons responded: "It's different; we're responding to the attacks of September 11." He added that the government doesn't make such declarations lightly and that al-Marri will receive a combatant status review tribunal in the District of Columbia federal court.

So, the assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General, who's arguing the federal government's case with regards to al-Marri, says "Congress" gave the president "the authority to fight terrorism...". And when might that authority have been given? Certainly long before the vote to authorize force against Iraq. In other words, according to the administration, "Congress" ceded this authority to the president in the initial package of legislative responses to 911. And included in this legislative package and central to the treatment of "detainees" was the invasion of Afghanistan.

I recognize I'm not the first liberal or concerned citizen to express concern about this. But in the weeks and months after 911, Congress ceded to the president not just the authority to invade another country, but also the authority to conduct a global war on terrorism with extra-Constitutional implications at home as well as abroad. Obviously, the many Democrats who supported the invasion of Afghanistan and the overthrow of the Taliban probably didn't believe they were also granting such unique, troubling, and wide-ranging authority to the president in regards to the imprisonment of those who would soon be called "enemy combatants". Nonetheless, in the rush to allow the invasion of Afghanistan to proceed with their blessing (and no doubt faced with the demand for action by voters), much else was also "allowed".

And we are still in the midst of trying to ascertain, much less evaluate and undo, the damaging implications for civil liberties and Constitutional protections that resulted from the seemingly "no-brainer" dimensions of the vote to authorize the war in Afghanistan the broader global war on terrorism.

Four Wars

Mo Dowd:

At a Pentagon briefing yesterday, Bob Gates rebuffed the idea of a civil war, saying: “I think that the words ‘civil war’ oversimplify a very complex situation in Iraq. I believe that there are essentially four wars going on in Iraq. One is Shia on Shia, principally in the south. The second is sectarian conflict, principally in Baghdad, but not solely. Third is the insurgency, and fourth is Al Qaeda.”

That’s a relief, all right — we’re in four wars in Iraq and threatening another with Iran.

I intended to add something to this, but I am at a loss.