Tuesday, November 28, 2006

No Rag Tomorrow

Howdy folks!

Due to a scheduling conflict tomorrow in which I have to get up about the time I'd normally be going to sleep, I need to go to bed a few hours earlier than usual. This means I won't have time to write the Rag for tomorrow. My apologies to everyone.

Be sure to check back on Thursday and Friday, though. And don't forget to join the Liberty Rag Fantasy Congress League! See the sidebar (over to the right...yep, right there) for the link. I've got my team. Have you got yours?


The Rag Returns

Howdy folks!

It was a longer vacation than I intended. It began, as you are likely aware, with my brother getting married. The ceremony was short and sweet. His in-laws (my in-laws too, now...I think that's how it works anyway; if not, I'm declaring that's how it works) are some of the best people on the face of the planet! We all had a great time celebrating. Even went to the King Tut exhibit in Chicago, which is really worth your time if you get a chance. I felt refreshed and was all ready to put out a new Rag when I got back, but, well, I'll explain what happened by starting with our first story.

As I said, I got back and was just sitting down for a few hours of post-election gloating, when I was greeted with this headline from the Belleville News Democrat in Missouri: "Republican report blames abortion for illegal immigration." Say wha? The Missouri House's Special Committee on Immigration Reform, led by Republicans (natch), "...also claims 'liberal social welfare policies' have created a disincentive for Americans to work and an enticement for foreigners to cross the border illegally." Rep. Ed Emery (R-Lamar) says that because we are "desperate" for workers, "we can't get serious about our borders...." He then claims that all the abortions are "killing" workers who would take those jobs. Because having an abortion is murder. See? Perfect sense. And so I felt that with the world (or at least one state) under such capable leadership, I'd just continue my little vacation for a while longer. It had nothing to do with the sudden desire to ram my head through a brick wall.

Then, last week, just as I'm thinking things might be looking okay, the GOP bitch-slaps us again.
Republicans vacating the Capitol are dumping a big spring cleaning job on Democrats moving in. GOP leaders have opted to leave behind almost a half-trillion-dollar clutter of unfinished spending bills.
I nearly put my fist through the monitor! See how this works? Instead of Pelosi being able to follow through with the First 100 Hours plan -- which would include raising the minimum wage, ending lobbyist-written legislation, enacting the 9/11 Commission recommendations, and many other things -- she and the rest of the Democrat-led congress will have to clean up the Republican temper-tantrum-induced budget mess. In fact, it's worse than a mess. Let me use an analogy. Imagine the budget is Iraq. Now imagine the Republicans declaring war on Iraq. Now imagine that unlike Iraq, the Republicans actually have the power and capability to save the budget. Instead they cut and run. This isn't something the Dem congress will be able to shunt aside for later. They'll have to deal with it immediately, and that's going to severely cut into the 100 Hours plan, if not kill it outright.

Speaking of Iraq, if you haven't heard, even the mainstream media's calling it a civil war, now. What tipped off these geniuses? The constant killing or the desire by both the Sunnis and Shiites to control the country (and I don't mean cooperatively)?
So some scholars now say civil war began when the Americans transferred sovereignty to an appointed Iraqi government in June 2004.
Until then, they say that because the country was still officially under American control, the fighting would be classified as anti-American. In other words, they were trying to take back their country from foreign invaders! Somehow, I just don't see how one is better than the other. We never should have been there; having gone there, there was no post-invasion plan; and now that we've Katrina'd the country, our presence fuels terrorism in the region and our troops are daily casualties in a fight we lost almost as soon as it began. There is no possible way we can pull out gracefully and prevent Iraq from spiraling into further chaos. Iraq is already in chaos. The fact is, other than in the "Green Zone" in Baghdad, we have no control over what's happening in Iraq. Our troops can do nothing to improve the situation. Rather than asking -- in the mistaken attempt to find some meaning in a meaningless fight -- who should be the last person to die in vain for a failed war, we should be asking how many more of our soldiers must die in vain before we pull out? How many more soldiers must die before you say it's enough?

I'd rather not bring my blood pressure above a medium boil, so with that in mind, how about we move onto something a little more positive? Some of the members of DailyKos have started a new project called the Congressional Committees Project. The idea is for the DK community (and anyone else who wants to participate, for that matter) to monitor all of the House and Senate committees and basically act as citizen oversight. This is such a brilliantly obvious idea, in hindsight, it's astounding that no one ever thought of it sooner! There are still plenty of hurdles to overcome for this project to be a success, not least of which is getting timely reports of committee meetings and hearings. While they are available to the public by default, their releases can sometimes lag behind by weeks. That makes it difficult to stay on top of current activities. Still, the project is barely over two weeks old and has already laid the groundwork for the future. I think this is a sign of where citizen participation in government is moving: toward distributed community projects which allow anyone to participate and which anyone can access. I don't know about you, but I find that to be a very exciting development!

And finally, what would the Rag be without the Quote of the Day? (Answer: The Rag without a daily quote. Duh!) I'm keeping it simple for today so I can finish up early. So without further ado, here ya go! "Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the National Debt." -- Herbert Hoover

And that's how we do The Liberty Rag. Good morning and see you tomorrow!


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Take a Long Weekend and Party!

Howdy folks!

Thank you.  Thank you for reading.  Thank you for voting.  Thank you for proving my cynicism wrong.  I came into this election with hope and determination, but I was prepared for the worst.  I haven't been so happy to be wrong in a long time.  Thank you.

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm taking a few days off while I go to my brother's wedding.  Considering all that's happening -- Rumsfeld resigning (goodness gracious!) and Bob Gates (just some CIA guy...who was heavily involved in Iran/Contra!) taking over, Bush trying to come off like he's going to work with the Dems (oh jeez, I nearly fell out of my chair laughing so hard!), Rush admitting to being a big fat liar for the last four years or so (no, really?!) -- can you believe all this?!  And I'm going to be gone with no way to keep you updated!  I'm getting withdrawal symptoms already.

I'm going to keep today's Rag short.  The Democrats won with a mandate.  It wasn't a squeaker, slim margin, or any other synonymous phrase.  They gained the House with 29 pickups (and according to CNN, there's still 10 seats undecided, so we could see more, yet), and the Senate with six pickups, though Allen could still call for a recount.  More on that in a little bit.  They picked up six Governorships, and I lost count of the number of state legislatures they gained control of.  The country went Blue in a very big way.

And it wasn't conservative Dems that won it back, either.  At least not many.  By and large, it was the progressive, liberal Dems who took over.  This might sound surprising, but the thing is, when you get right down to it, liberals don't just talk about supporting the troops or balancing the budget or providing education.  They actually do it.  They don't talk about smaller government when the reality is that we don't always want smaller government (think FEMA, firefighters, police, or just plain oversight to reign in the spending).  They don't talk about being less intrusive in our personal lives, but then illegally wiretap all our phones or try to tell us who we can and can't marry, let alone have sex with.  They don't talk about having a great economy when the vast majority of Americans are worse off than they were even two years ago, let alone four or six.  So what you got were a bunch of people voting for what they wanted: a real government that actually functions and benefits the people.  This really shouldn't be a surprise.  What's surprising is the number of people who couldn't figure it out until Katrina or Foley.

However, let's not forget to thank one of the most influential Democrats who made this all possible: DNC Chairman Howard Dean.  That's right.  Not the mainstream media darling DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel, who howled and screamed to limit the number of races.  Sure, Emanuel brought in a lot of dough, but it wouldn't have mattered if the candidates hadn't been there in the first place.  This election was mostly Dean's victory.  (Well, technically your victory.  You're the ones who voted.)  With candidates spread all over the country, the Republicans were strategically and tactically outmaneuvered.  Even with the cash advantage, they couldn't make up for the Democratic cross-country tsunami.  When you've got Democrats running practically everywhere, a few are bound to win just by the sheer fact that they tried.  So for the good doctor Dean, gimme a scream!

Moving on, as I mentioned earlier, Allen may call for a recount, but that might not be as probable as I first imagined.  Apparently he never did like being a Senator and was only using it as a platform for a Presidential bid.  Lets face it, with everything that came out about him, even if he had won this race, his Presidential chances had fallen to nil.  President "Macaca"?  I don't think so.  So to former Senator George Felix "Macaca" Allen, let us bid a not so fond farewell.  Good-by, good riddance, and don't let the door hit you on the way out.  And take your noose and confederate flag with you!  (Frickin' racist bastard.)

Well, we still got this war in Iraq -- the "Mess-O-Potamia," as John Stewart would call it.  And Osama bin Laden's still out there (thanks Bush).  And our economy (for most of us) is in the toilet.  And the Constitution's just barely hanging together.  And...ah jeez!  You know it's a mess.  I know it's a mess.  Let's remember that this victory is just the beginning.  There's still a long road ahead and lots of garbage to haul out.

But you didn't give up on this election, even when it looked like the machines were going to hand it to the GOP.  You went out and voted and showed the world what real citizens can do.  So I'm asking that you don't give up now.  We can get the job done.  In the coming months, we're likely to see lots of issues where phone calls or letters from you could make a big difference.  I'm going to be counting on you to help out.  You voted.  You earned your right to be heard.  For the next two years, I expect you to take advantage of that right.  Make our newly elected officials listen to you.

It doesn't take a lot of work.  Just a little of your time.  You can do it.  I believe in you.

And yes, I got you your quote, and boy is she a beaut!  Probably going to be one of my all time favorites.  It's by Karl Rove in an interview he had with Robert Siegel on NPR on October 26.
"Yeah. Look, I'm looking at all these, Robert, and adding them up. And I add up to a Republican Senate and a Republican House. You may end up with a different math, but you're entitled to your math. I'm entitled to 'the' math."
Hey, Mr. Rove!  I think the math's a bit off.  Are you sure you calibrated the machines correctly?

And that's how we do The Liberty Rag.  Good morning and see you next week!


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Post Election-Day Wrap-up

You people rock!  You did it!  You voted, and you made a difference!  Whether the votes were rigged or not, you didn't let it stop you.  You went out in record numbers -- RECORD NUMBERS -- and shouted down the Republican lie machine.  They didn't expect you to beat the system.  Their system.  The system that used robo calls to try to keep you from the polls.  The system that produced flyers that lied about who they were.  The system that tried to turn you away at the voting booth.  They threw everything they had at you, but you stood strong.

You deserve a cookie!

Now let's look at the national numbers.

We'll start with the Governors.  At this time, the Dems pick up 6 states, with Minnesota and Rhode Island still technically undecided.  Looking at the numbers, Rhode Island's Red, no doubt in my mind.  There might be a recount, but I don't see it changing anything.  Minnesota could still pull Blue, but that would be an impressive come from behind victory, so I'm sticking a fork in this one and calling it done.  A 6 state pickup ain't nothin' to be ashamed of.

Moving on to the House, we get some interesting results.  The numbers right now show a 28 seat pickup for the Dems.  Of the 17 races still undecided, I see two that'll likely go Dem (CT-02 and PA-08), though I predict CT-02 will have a recount before it's finalized.  NM-01 and NC-08, two seats currently held by Republicans, will likely have recounts.  GA-08 will likely remain Dem, but it's close with only a few percent of the vote left to count.  There may be a recount.  CO-04, ID-01, MI-09, and NE-02 still have some counting to go, but they'll likely remain in Republican hands unless I'm missing something (which is quite possible; I haven't been paying as close attention to the House races as I probably should).  I don't see a shift in the rest of the seats.  So at the end of the day, we're looking at nearly a 30 seat pickup for the Dems.  WOW!

In the Senate, as I write this, the only two seats left up for grabs are Montana and Virginia, and I feel pretty confident that Montana's going to Tester.  A little closer than I might like, but still Tester.  The Virginia race is incredibly close, but Webb's ahead, so it's up to Allen to decide whether he should leave his state in limbo or concede as graciously as Gore and Kerry did the Presidency.  Oh, who am I kidding!  It'll be another two weeks before the vote is certified, and then he'll call for a recount, and that'll likely take another week or two.  But that's assuming it doesn't turn out that the calls attempting to suppress voter turnout in the state came from his campaign.

Which brings me to an interesting story.  If you happened by the blog site yesterday, you likely noticed I had a few entries up about all the voter suppression going on.  Lots and lots of problems with voters getting calls telling them they weren't actually registered to vote, so they'd be arrested if they tried; or being told their polling location had changed; or even telling them to vote today (the 8th).

Well, the fine folks over at ePluribus Media, a journalistic group run by ordinary citizens, think they've found a link between the Allen campaign and the voter suppression calls.  However, it's a tad complex, and I'm a little too tired to be able to follow it right now.  I'll read through it tomorrow and see what's what, but since Virginia is such a tight race, I figured it was better you know of the possibility sooner rather than later.

I'm sure you'll hear from the talking heads how the results from this election don't signify a Dem mandate, or that it's not really a victory, or some other BS like that.  Well, that's all it is.  BS.  Let's nip it in the bud right now.  The Dems now have a greater majority in the House than the Republicans ever had when they took over in 1994.  The Republicans have likely also lost control of the Senate, but even with a tie, that'll force Cheney to spend lots of time in the Senate breaking ties, which means he can't be elsewhere causing trouble.  (Unless Lieberman chooses to Caucus with the GOP, in which case, the GOP keep the Senate no matter what, and any of you Connecticut voters who voted for "Sanctimonious" Joe deserve all the scorn which can be heaped upon you.)  This is an impressive victory, no two ways about it, and it sends a very clear message to Rove.  You'd have to be a fool or an idiot not to acknowledge that.  Or be lying through your teeth.

And as for reconciliation, while there's a part of me that would love nothing more than to see the Dems shove the Republicans into the same hole they (the Dems) were in for the last six years, that's not how Dems do things.  I don't mind giving the Republicans a chance to redeem themselves, but the Dems better be ready to smack them down when they try anything funny.  I don't have any sympathy for the Republicans, and neither should the Dems we just elected.

There's lots more, but I was up late watching MSNBC and following the results on cnn.com, so I haven't had time to read everything.  I'll catch up tomorrow, but then I have to leave for a few days to go to my brother's wedding.  I've got two things to celebrate this weekend, and let me tell you, that feels great!  (P.S.  Pennsylvania got rid of Santorum; that's worth celebrating all by itself!)

Oh, and before I forget, here's a reminder to join The Liberty Rag Fantasy Congress League!  Password: AllReadersWelcome.  The first season starts with the Lame Duck session, which will be composed of the current congress.  Our newly elected congress won't be available until the new year.  Think of this first season as a trial run.

Last, how could I let you go without a quote?  I can't!  Not today.  I think this one from Ghandi is appropriate for the occasion:
"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

And that's how we do The Liberty Rag.  Good morning and see you tomorrow!