The Sideshow

Archive for August 2007

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Friday, 31 August 2007

Found on the intarweb

In a piece that alerted me that Sandra Day O'Connor has continued her slow and much-too-late discovery of liberalism, Mahabarb says, "We Are All Uninsured Now [...] I have thought for years that, some day, we'd reach a tipping point at which enough Americans were personally impacted by the failures and inequities of The Best Health Care System in the World that they would be desperate to change it. I think we've reached that tipping point. Even corporations are now calling for reform, although they are still talking about a "market-led" system. They can't yet see that sticking to a "market-led" system is what brought us to this crisis, and all the "market-led" solutions amount to using tax dollars to keep the "private" health insurance beast alive. People are so invested in "government is not the solution" ideology that they make government the solution for maintaining a failed "private" system."

Jay Stevens at Left in the West on the myth of voter fraud, quotes Tova Andrea Wang of the Election Assistance Committee (EAC) (from an article in the WaPo): "We said that our preliminary research found widespread agreement among administrators, academics and election experts from all points on the political spectrum that allegations of fraud through voter impersonation at polling places were greatly exaggerated. We noted that this position was supported by existing research and an analysis of several years of news articles. The commission chose instead to state that the issue was a matter of considerable debate. And while we found that problems of voter intimidation were still prevalent in a variety of forms, the commission excluded much of the discussion of voter intimidation."

Via Make Them Accountable I see this promising news about students at Xavier University who have decided to counter a speaking engagement by Ann Coulter not by protesting her appearance, but by raising funds to bring progressive speakers to their campus. This is a much smarter way to counter bad speech - with good speech.

Whiskey Fire: "Michael Reagan has performed a double-reverse triple-axel somersault ice flip thingy! Hooray! What he seems to be saying is that he is terribly disappointed that hypocrisy is indeed hypocritical." Look! Clinton! Liberal media!

The Making Light Sidelights refer me to The "Blog" Of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks, and Avram directs my attention to Edward Gorey's "The Trouble With Tribbles".

18:47 BST

Spellbound and swallowed till the tolling ended

I'm very relieved to know that Kenneth Foster's death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment last night by Texas Governor Rick Perry. And thank you, Sean-Paul, for helping to make this happen. (More from Digby.)

More good news from Iowa, where "Polk County Judge Robert Hanson struck down Iowa's prohibition on same-sex marriage Thursday.," mainly because the state has no compelling interest in banning gay marriage and it violates the state constitution's equal protection requirements. It sounds to me like the plaintiffs made a good case, the state made a bad one, and the judge really had no choice but to come to this decision - although, of course, the wingers are whining about "activist judges" (a term that we now understand to mean "judges who don't twist the law to coincide with the right-wing agenda"). (via)

Tom Hartmann's Air America show will be broadcast live today at noon Eastern Time on C-SPAN. Tom will have his regular Friday Breakfast With Bernie segment where Senator Saunders will discuss issues with Tom and take calls from listeners/viewers. (Bernie is the only politician Tom talks to because he's the only one who will take unscripted questions.) Tom will also argue with some conservatives.


Bruce Springsteen performs "Chimes of Freedom".

14:09 BST

Recommended reading

MICHAEL COPPS: All right. We've got issues of peace and war. We've got issues of how do we insure our kids and insure our families? How do we find jobs? How do we educate our kids? Those are all important. And one of those may be your number one issue. All I'm saying is, if that's your number one issue, you better make this media consolidation issue your second most important issue. Because all those big issues get filtered and funneled through big media. That's how the people hear about it. That's what sets the parameters of the debate. And that's what maybe limits intelligent decision making for the future of our democracy.

Sex-change Socialism, or more evidence that Lord Saletan has serious problems around sexual issues.

Susie Madrak: "The reason why so many more Republican senators are outraged and calling for Larry Craig's resignation than they did for Vitter the sh***er has nothing to do with it being man-on-man sex. (Although they're trying to take advantage of that to please the fundie base.) It's because unlike Vitter's home state, Idaho has a Republican governor who will appoint a Republican if he resigns."

At Angry Bear, cactus continues the series comparing presidents with Rankings of Economic Growth, in which you will be unsurprised to learn that, once again, Democrats are better for the country than Republicans.

Trifecta asks: "Isn't It Time To Change Our Cuban Policy?" Hell, yes.

Here's a book that looks like it should make a great gift: FOUNDERS v. BUSH: a Comparison in Quotations of the Policies and Politics of the Founding Fathers and George W. Bush.

Russ Feingold: "My President Will Be a Bob Dylan Fan." (via)

03:22 BST

How to do it

Jimmy Breslin wants to Remove Bush over war lies:

Our politicians despair that there can be no way to override Bush and save our young and everybody of any age in Iraq.

Of course there is. By all the energy and dignified disgust of a nation that needs it to keep any semblance of greatness, there is an extraordinary need for an impeachment of this president and his vice president.

You start an impeachment with an investigator who starts to develop a case. That's what got Nixon out. He had the most expensive, elaborate defense in the world, and when they were pressed his assistants folded and Nixon quit. I wonder whether Bush and his people can do any better when pressed.

02:03 BST

Thursday, 30 August 2007

When summer's gone, where will we be?

Night before last, Texas executed a man. Last night, they executed a man. And tonight they are planning to execute a man for a murder that everyone knows he didn't commit. But, hey, we're America, right? We don't mind killing innocent people.

It's approaching midnight all over the world, though, as we watch what seems to be an inexorable roll toward an attack on Iran and a whole new list of crimes, and death, and ruin for us all. Do you feel safer, yet?

Thanks to getting a link to my little rant on conservative libertoonians from Digby, I'm introduced to Bruce Garrett's epiphany: "I was one of those who were conned...right up until Reagan gave me a clear understanding of what kind of government we were likely to end up with when market forces become the moral standard and the rule of law bows to the rule of money."

Ah, hell, while I'm at Hullabaloo: Tucker Carlson's homosexual panic (and kharma's uncomfortable experience in a public men's room), and, more seriously, One Step Beyond: "I knew these guys were capable of a lot of things, and I'm not especially surprised by their disregard for civil liberties and the constitution. But I don't think I ever could have predicted that they would be able to put torture back on the menu and the congress and the press would pretty much turn the other cheek. It's still kind of a shock."

Libby used to live in a nice town until it was invaded by immigrants.

Who could have predicted that Mitt Romney would get it totally wrong on the Larry Craig toilet excursion?

I'm reminded at Norwegianity that it's Molly Ivins' birthday. Remember: "We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war."

"Summer's Almost Gone"

16:00 BST

We have nothing to fear but fear

The Washington Post reports that Democrats are split on the question of whether to be sheep:

A growing clamor among rank-and-file Democrats to halt President Bush's most controversial tactics in the fight against terrorism has exposed deep divisions within the party, with many Democrats angry that they cannot defeat even a weakened president on issues that they believe should be front and center.

The Democrats' failure to rein in wiretapping without warrants, close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay or restore basic legal rights such as habeas corpus for terrorism suspects has opened the party's leaders to fierce criticism from some of their staunchest allies -- on Capitol Hill, among liberal bloggers and at interest groups.

["at interest groups"? I wonder if Weisman actually wrote that clumsy phrase. Is this one of those things Fred Hiatt shoe-horned into the article so the RNC would be happy? Who are "interest groups", anyway? 70% of the country is an "interest group"?]

The article is full of juicy quotes from various Dems about whether or not they should stand up.

"I don't think it's that we're reluctant to take on Bush," said Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (Fla.), a senior member of the House intelligence committee. "I think it's we are reluctant to take on each other. . . . If I can fast-forward to September, October, November, December and see where we'll be, we'll be nowhere."

Said Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (Va.): "I would've thought the administration would have been bereft of credibility by now, but they seem to be able to get what they want from this Congress."

The terrorism issue came to a head early this month in an explosive final closed-door House Democratic Caucus meeting before the August recess. Reps. Hastings, Moran, Melvin Watt (N.C.), John F. Tierney (Mass.) and Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) pleaded with party leaders not to bring to a vote a White House bill extending the administration's authority to listen in on electronic communications from abroad without a warrant.

Conservative Democrats, including Rep. Allen Boyd (Fla.), argued just as vociferously that Democrats dare not leave on vacation without passing the White House bill.


"People say to me, 'Well, what about the 30-second spots?' " said Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, referring to attack ads. He is pushing a bill to restore habeas corpus.

"If you just say you're standing up for civil liberties, the American people are with you, but if you say terrorism suspects should have civil liberties, it stretches Americans' tolerance," said Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), who along with Hastings represents Congress on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, a human rights monitor. "It's a tough issue for us."

Someone needs to tell these people how to unpack spin. Tell them, too, it's their job to defend their position against all that spin. One thing I plan to ask Ben Cardin is what, exactly, is wrong with acknowledging the inalienable rights of terrorism suspects?

Right now the best way to contact your reps is to use the phone or else try to visit their offices. (When they are in recess, they are supposed to be available to their constituents in their respective states - have you tried arranging to speak to them in person?) A word of advice: write down your points beforehand, and make it as concise as possible. If you can think of good sound bites, by all means feed them to your Dem reps. Clarity is more important than completeness; leave out points that take too long to explain, but feel free to say things like, "I could give you a long list of reasons why you should fight Bush, and you can't give me one good reason not to."

Not everyone gives bad sound bite:

"We can do this, but you have to keep in mind Republicans care more about catching Democrats than catching terrorists," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. "They have spent years taking Roosevelt's notion that we have nothing to fear but fear itself and given us nothing but fear."
We should be hearing that one on television at least three times a week:

Republicans care more about catching Democrats
than catching terrorists.

13:19 BST

I'm lookin' for the evening and the morning in your eyes

On Being Home in America....saving our soul - Two years ago, George Bush started letting an American city die. He's still doing it.

Lance Mannion vs. Chris Hitchens on Vietnam analogies. Actually, that would make an interesting debate. Too bad Hitchens doesn't read Lance's weblog.

Glenn Greenwald on The president's escalating war rhetoric on Iran (and the enabling cheerleaders).

Musharraf agrees to step down as military chief and let Bhutto run for office. This could be good news, for a lot of reasons. Except that Bush doesn't like democratically elected leaders very much....

John Edwards on healthcare.

Fundies used to insist that the Revelation of St. John clearly said that the final confrontation would be between the US and the USSR. Not anymore!

"That's some catch, that Catch-22."

Anderson, Collins, Rush, and Guthrie, "Thirsty Boots"

01:25 BST

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

I saw this

Arthur says that You, Too, Can and Should Be an "Intelligence Analyst" - and he means it. Because most of what real analysts are analyzing is in the media, and what makes you a good intelligence analyst is your own judgment. Bush never had any real "secret information" - nobody did. The things you needed to know were always publicly available. Had Iraq tested a nuclear device? Did he have delivery systems? Did he even have any particular motivation to start a nuclear war with the US? No, no, and absolutely not. So he was no threat. See how easy it is?

A good recommendation from Atrios, who says, "AJ's post on candidates and the pundit class who loves them, comparing their support for Allawi with their fetishization of Unity08 type things, is quite good. There's an incredible amount of love for candidates which don't actually have a constituency, which echoes the fact that the Washington Elite Consensus, always falsely labeled "centrism," doesn't have much of a constituency outside of Washington Post editorial board office." (I often wish that Atrios would give me administrative privileges at Eschaton so I could copy-edit him.)

At Bad Attitudes, Chuck Dupree makes some Observations on the Candidates' Iraq Positions, including the fact that their positions are different from each other's. A lot of them seem to be arguing about how long it will take to get out, but I do think it's unrealistic to think that, even if we started a total pull-out tomorrow, it could be done in less than 10 months (a year to 18 months is probably more realistic). Buck Batard finds an ironic quote from Alberto Gonzales, and Jerome Doolittle finds an interview with Clay Johnson III, one of the rumored short-listers for Alberto's job. (And thanks to Buck for passing on the link to "A Social History of the Bra", which reminded me that I still hate the fact that the British do not know what the word "pants" means.)

Touched by a Kagan: "No coherent policy, confusion and ignorance, preconceptions, little or no political planning, political implications of military action swept under the rug in advance of an invasion, the chanting of ritual incantations about democracy, too much faith in exile leaders, and misguided efforts to govern a country without reference to its established and familiar systems of government: The 1981 Eric Edelman recognizes the folly of all that stuff. The Eric Edelman of 2007 thinks the terrorists will win if we develop war plans. Wonder what happened in between."

The newly-renovated Boing Boing (with added TNH!) reports that BBC4 will be doing a three-show series on British comics. They've got a bunch of stuff up on their BBC pages, including video of Alan Moore and Leo Baxendale. Also via BB, a study at George Mason "concludes that unmarried couples that live together divide housework more evenly than married couples." (Meanwhile, PNH is having his brain exploded in Japan, and Teresa finds time to talk about More Republican gay bathroom sex.)

16:58 BST

The perennial question: Stupid or lying? (Log Cabin edition)

I was thinking about that video with Barney Frank and Bill Maher and wondering who that other guy was - a Log Cabin type, I guess? I think Frank was pretty good at smacking him down, and I think it was probably smart that he refused to engage him on his little side-trips into what he claimed was Republican philosophy; Frank had a point to make, and he made sure it got made.

But if I'd been there, I would have been unable to resist saying that Republicans have shown no sign of believing in "the right to keep your own money" or in limited government or in a "strong defense". Allowing rich people and corporations to make use of (and often ruin) public services without paying for them is not giving you "the right to keep your own money"; in fact, it's making you pay for the things they get more use from. Limiting the power of government to protect your Constitutional rights is not "limited government"; neither is allowing a president the power to summarily deprive individuals of those rights "limited government". Bankrupting the Treasury in order to give the DoD money it doesn't need (and doesn't spend wisely) while you go blow up other countries that posed no threat to the US is not "a strong defense".

Conservatives have always supported intrusive government, they have always endangered Americans by aggravating other countries, and they have always been very happy to collect taxes from ordinary working people and use that tax money to fatten the Malefactors of Great Wealth while depriving the rest of us of our freedoms. Those same people conned a number of libertarian-minded young people in the '70s and '80s into believing that conservatism was liberalism and vice-versa because a few intolerant lefties went overboard in their objections to morally reprehensible expressions of racism and sexism. I would have thought these kids would have grown up by now and realized that they're still paying taxes but under the Republicans they're getting less for them - and that's before the bill for all that "strong defense" comes due. How dumb they have to be to think it makes sense to be both Republican and gay after all this just doesn't bear thinking about.

14:47 BST

News and views

John Nichols has found the perfect conservative to appoint to the office of the Attorney General of the United States: Bruce Fein.

At DKos, Chris Dodd gets the first union endorsement - from the Firefighters, and bloggers raise $123,160 for Darcy Burner in the weekend blogothon for her campaign to oust a Bushista from the House.

At Think Progress, Despite Announcing His 'Retirement,' General Who Oversaw Walter Reed Scandal Still Serving In Army; apparently, we are staying in Iraq so we can fight Iran to prevent a mushroom cloud (wait, haven't I heard that somewhere before?); Spitzer threatens to sue federal govt over SCHIP; and Ari the Liar accuses Congress of politicizing the Justice Department.

At TPMmuckraker, it looks like Saint Petraeus is somewhere in the mix of a whole bunch of Pentagon scandals.

No More Mister Nice Blog has a story about an Ohio cop, Officer Susan L. Purtee, who makes videos about the evils of Jews and blacks, with her sister. They support Giuliani for president.

02:26 BST

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Stuff to check out

Robert Parry: "Having written several books that span periods of years, I'm often surprised how patterns emerge that aren't apparent to me in day-to-day news coverage. In Neck Deep, our new book about George W. Bush's presidency, one of those surprises was how often former Vice President Al Gore turned up making tragically prescient comments." (Also: "If Democrats Want to Lose...")

Oh, man, I sure wish Arthur was wrong and Lindorff was right, but I really don't think Congress is suddenly going to come to its senses and decide they have to impeach Bush and Cheney after all.

Barney Frank and Bill Maher discuss The Gay Republican Agenda.

Paperwight has a lovely example of what Republicans would sound like if they were honest about their intentions. (via)

Paul Krugman explains why the Heritage Foundation's spin should convince no one, in "A Socialist Plot" (which appears for free at Alternet under the title "On the Right, Public Healthcare for Children is a Socialist Plot"). Bob Herbert on the same subject, "Holding Kids Hostage" (free at Greenpagan, via TGW).

Digby finds another fine case of journamalism, in which MSNBC learns that fake black people are disagreeing with each other.

This week's Seder on Sunday was a series of interviews with the authors of seven books you might want to know about. The post linked above tells you who they are and what they wrote. The widget should get you the show.

21:40 BST

Bad judgment

Think Progress:

Former H.W. Bush justice appointee 'looking very good.'NBC reports the latest speculation on Gonzales' successor: "Per a source close to the White House, ex-Deputy Attorney General George J. Terwilliger III is 'looking very good' to replace Alberto Gonzales. Former Solicitor General Ted Olson and former appellate judge Laurence Silberman are 'also in the running.' And Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and former deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson 'are unlikely.'" Terwilliger was a leader of President Bush's legal team during the Florida election recount, and served in the DoJ during the George H.W. Bush administration.
Terwilliger helped make the whole BCCI scandal go away for some important people (like GHW Bush).

Ted Olson, a mastermind of the Arkansas Project to throw even the most absurd mud at the Clintons until they could make something appear to stick, was also one of the men who actually went to the Supreme Court to argue that it would be unfair to allow the ballots to be counted in Florida because then George Bush might not get to be president. He was rewarded with his appointment as Solicitor General in the Bush administration. His wife, public harpy Barbara Olson, cut from the same cloth as Ann Coulter, died on American Airlines Flight 77 on September 11th, 2001. Olson served as SG until he retired from the post in 2004. He's never told anyone whether he understands that George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney's stewardship of our country killed his wife. But maybe he doesn't care - she was, after all, only his third wife (he's obviously a "family values" Republican), and he's got a new one, anyway.

Laurence Silberman is one of the most dangerous men in America, and his decisions have cost us dearly. Find a right-wing conspiracy, and you'll usually find Silberman in it somewhere.

So, are these just trial balloons, or distractions, or what? Is there any likelihood that Pelosi and Reid know that these people are out of the question? Hmm...

Just to give you nightmares, I've heard Lieberman's name being floated. As we have seen, it's pretty near impossible to convince members of the Senate to reject one of their own, no matter how odious. And Connecticut's Republican governor would appoint his replacement.

17:58 BST

At Suburban Guerrilla

A wealth of material linked at Susie's place, leading me to:

I Can Taste It

Going home is a beautiful, terrifying thought to have once it gets this close to happening. Not only am I in the twilight of the deployment, but of my military career that began three years ago yesterday. It was then when a nineteen year old chubby kid found himself bound for Ft. Benning, Georgia, fresh and malleable as molten copper. Weeks from completing a fifteen month tour, I'm as confused and apprehensive as that teenager with the twiddling thumbs and darting eyes that had no idea where he was going, or why.

You may want to sit down for this.

This occupation, this money pit, this smorgasbord of superfluous aggression is getting more hopeless and dismal by the second. It's maddening to think that more than a year's worth of blood, sweat and tears will lead to little more than a pat on the back and a hideously redundant speech from someone who did none of the bleeding, sweating or crying.

Despite being in a meaningless situation, my life has never had this much meaning. I watch the backs of my friends and they do the same for me. I've killed to protect them, and they've killed to protect me.

That piece preceded the one Susie linked (here), providing this quote:
In the future, I want my children to grow up with the belief that what I did here was wrong, in a society that doesn't deem that idea unpatriotic.
Susie also quotes from Andrew Cohen's article on the departure of Alberto Gonzales in which he actually explains why he has recently been giving his coverage of the DoJ the treatment it deserved:
I did not make lightly the decision to become a fierce critic of the Attorney General. I have always believed that my job as an analyst is to shed more light than heat on a topic-to provide you with enough context and perspective so that you can make your own informed judgments about a particular legal issue or event. And I recognize that when you become too subjective about a particular topic, or when you write about it in a particularly conclusive way, you run the risk of cutting into the reservoir of credibility you have with news consumers. After all, one person's utterly lame pol is always another person's honorable politician.

But there are times in the life of a "beat journalist"-my "beat" being the law-when the knowledge and experience you've gathered over the years-in my case, 10 years- tells you that something is so horribly off-kilter with a particular person, institution, or practice that it cries out for a different kind of coverage, a different level of analysis; a different depth of commentary. And when that time comes, it seems to me, the commentator has a responsibility to explain forcefully and with passion why what is occurring is so different from and so much worse than what has occurred before.

And so it was for me with Gonzales.

The odd thing is that he says this as if the problem is completely gone with Gonzales, and as if the Department of Justice has not been so deeply polluted by the on-going politicization and corruption that, in his absence, everything will revert to a just, fair, independent system where Republicans who break the law can expect to be prosecuted and Democrats who do not break the law can expect to be left alone.

I only ever get to see Boston Legal - or rather, parts of it - when people post it on the net, so thanks especially for this, in which James Spader explains why the credit card companies are scum.

16:53 BST

What in the wide wide world of sports is going on here?

Eric Alterman has been away, and says he's been spending time with academics "who say, unabashedly, without warning, that Bush and Cheney and Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld are "just as bad as Hitler" and wanted to know what I thought the likelihood of war-crimes trials were. I get awfully depressed about the future of my country at such moments." The rest of the post is "A Short Treatise on American Stratification" by Douglas S. Massey, who says, "Since the mid-1970s, mechanisms in the American political economy that were enacted in the 1930s to limit stratification and promote equality have been dismantled and replaced with new mechanisms that institutionalize exploitation and opportunity hoarding on the basis of class." Yeah, I noticed that, too.

Why does George Bush hate children?

Brian Baird (D-WA) has become the Republicans' new favorite Democrat, which means he's become the media's new favorite Democrat, as well. What a coincidence. I wonder what the GOP promised him for his sudden turnaround in support of the "surge".

Well, if we won in Vietnam, then obviously it was okay for us to leave when we did, right?

Cursor: Following up reports that an inexperienced John Galt was behind some botched '9/11 demolition work,' the New York Times' "City Room" blog rummages through the literature for an appropriate "corporate credo."

Watch anti-birth control people lie about contraception.

Does the United States of America still exist?

Republican bad tippers with obnoxious kids hassle waitress.


01:00 BST

Monday, 27 August 2007

20 questions

How did I forget that when Alberto leaves, the Bush-appointed Solicitor General will be the acting AG, so Bush doesn't have to appoint anyone? (This, people, is why Russ Feingold, no matter how wonderful he is, should never be president, either. This is what that whole "advise and consent" thing is about. I really do like Feingold a lot, but it was always a crackpot idea that you just have to confirm a president's nominees - an idea no one with any judgment should ever, ever have fallen for.) But does it surprise you to know that the ground is already being prepped for a recess appointment? And are Feinstein and Pelosi dreaming?

What made the Talking Dog use the word "evil"?

Why would Natasha vote for Hillary Clinton? And where did most people tell Michael Copps they learned about public hearings about FCC rule changes?

How on Earth did L. Paul Bremer end up running Iraq?

Why is Max Sawicky ABANDONING ME!!!!?

Why are the evil liberal bloggers trying to destroy the Dems?

What did Bush learn from Vietnam?

Do you support the the originalism of James Madison - or do you hate America? (Also: How good was Karl Rove's coffee?)

Who could imagine that you might have to compete for employees by paying them?

Who could have predicted that most people wouldn't think the economy was doing all that well?

Who wouldn't rather live in Iraq under Saddam?

What's the difference between Vietnam and Iraq? (And who will finally admit that Clinton is running a terrible campaign?)

Could the RIAA Lawsuit Decision Matrix be real? (via)

What are you doing Sunday at noon? (Please don't tell me that sleeping in is more important.)

What Kind Of Fool Do You Think I Am?

17:29 BST

Don't you miss Martha Mitchell?

So, Fredo is finally stepping down before impeachment proceedings get started. I guess that's a way to take the pressure off of investigations (which it shouldn't, but it probably will). Let's see, who could Bush nominate that the Democrats would confirm? Part of me says, "Who wouldn't they confirm?" Ah, but the White House says they plan to replace him "quickly". Does that mean, like, before Congress returns from recess? That would be entertaining, though I wouldn't put it past 'em. I just heard Cenk say on his show: "For him to make a recess appointment, the whole Senate would be up in arms - even the Democrats would be up in arms." Is that possible? Would the Democrats actually, you know, do something?

All I know is that I still want him to be impeached, because there is nothing preventing a Republican president from appointing this guy to the Supreme Court at the earliest opportunity. (And you know what? Bush wouldn't be the first president to try to expand the size of the Supreme Court in order to pack it with his nominees. Who's going to stop him?)

Update: Glenn Greenwald on The Democrats' responsibility in the wake of Gonzales' resignation:

This is a real moment of truth for the Democratic Congress. Democrats, who have offered up little other than one failure after the next since taking power in January, can take a big step toward redeeming themselves here. No matter what, they must ensure that Gonzales' replacement is a genuinely trustworthy and independent figure.

That means that Democrats must not confirm anyone, such as Michael Chertoff, who has been ensconced in the Bush circle. Instead, the DOJ and the country desperately need a completely outside figure who will ensure that the prosecutorial machinery operates independently, even if -- especially if -- that means finally investigating the litany of Executive branch abuses and lawbreaking which have gone almost entirely uninvestigated, as well uncovering those which remain concealed.

The standard excuse invoked by Democrats to justify their capitulations -- namely, that they cannot attract a filibuster-proof or veto-proof majority to defy the President -- will be unavailing here. They themselves can filibuster the confirmation of any proposed nominee to replace Gonzales. They do not need Blue Dogs or Bush Dogs or any of the other hideous cowards in their caucus who remain loyal to the most unpopular President in modern American history. The allegedly "Good Democrats" can accomplish this vital step all on their own. They only need 40 Senate votes to achieve it.

It is difficult to overstate how vital this is.

You know what to do.

14:11 BST

Flee from me, keepers of the gloom

More than a week of rain really bummed me out, but it's amazing what a couple days of sunlight has done for my mood.

Big Tent Democrat at TalkLeft, "How Broderism Led To the Rise Of A Third Party; By Destroying An Existing Party" - and how, if Democrats keep following Broder-style "centrism", they could go the way of the Whigs. (And from Jeralyn, it sounds like there's actually someone in charge who genuinely wants to fix the mess in California's prison healthcare crisis. Also, Why We Haven't Found Osama - the subject Newsweek is finally talking about.)

I'm sure what McConnell said is a lie, but if he really did believe that Americans would die just because we have discussed the spy program publicly, he shouldn't be giving interviews about it, should he? We know these guys will say anything, but the skinny is that they never needed to expand FISA or to break the law to protect Americans. What they really needed to do was impeach Gonzales, and then Bush and Cheney.

Amanda Marcotte on who we're in Iraq for. (And she's even more right than Josh Marshall is.)

Bill Scher has posted video of his radio show, where he talks about Vietnamization of Iraq and Warner's fake "break" with Bush, and interviews Rachel Maddow. He's also got the FOX ATTACKS: Iran video, reminding you that other networks actually followed Fox's lead on Iraq, and asking you to write to the networks to tell them not to do the same with Iran. Don't let it happen again.

Tim Curry visits the mall... (Via Drastic Verge.)

"The Rain Song", live and unplugged (1994).

12:53 BST

A bunch of links

Digby on the Katrina "recovery", Slow As Molasses under Karl Rove's leadership.

Broder, civility, bipartisanship, Unity '08, blah blah blah.... I suppose the Bloomberg/Hagel ticket makes more sense than seeing Sam Nunn get back into the game.

I see Deborah Howell managed to avoid discussing anything of consequence in this week's column.

It's not saying much, but Democrats are still getting more done than Republicans did in this Congress, regardless of the conventional "wisdom".

"Democratic Mob Censures Bush In Effigy: WASHINGTON, DC-In an emblematic move intended to stand in for the official symbolic reprimand of the president, a vehemently well-mannered mob of demonstrators censured an effigy of George W. Bush Tuesday, making known its displeasure over such actions as illegal wiretapping and the politically motivated firing of federal lawyers." (via)

George Washington wants America to fail in Iraq.

Lance Mannion has finished reading HP and the Deathly Hallows.

I think it's pretty funny that the right-wingers' favorite show, 24, which they think reflects real life, will have Janeane Garofalo in it next season.

Just go here and keep looking, and you might see pictures like this, this, this, this.... I could do this all day. Via Biomes Blog.

02:49 BST

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Open windows

Charles Pierce: "You can't have missed the fact that the president this week gave the dumbest speech in the history of that office. You would not think you could stuff that much stupid into a single human being, but they managed to do it."

Robert Fisk, "The Iraqis Don't Deserve Us. So We Betray Them..." - as we always do. (Also: "Spare Me The 'Ravers', But Even I Question The 'Truth' About 9/11." He doesn't think it was an inside job, which is fair enough, but his reason is that he thinks they're too incompetent to pull it off. I disagree; there's a difference between planning to win a war and planning to blow up some buildings. These guys are really good at breaking things, so maybe it wouldn't have been that hard for them.)

Author claims US invasion of Iraq 'fulfilled Osama bin Laden's wish [...] "He told me personally that he can't go and fight the Americans and their country. But if he manages to provoke them and bring them to the Middle East and to their Muslim worlds, where he can find them or fight them on his own turf, he will actually teach them a lesson," Atwan said. "It seems the invasion of Iraq fulfilled Osama bin Laden's wish. That's why the Americans are losing in Iraq."

At The Left Coaster, Mary says: Overthrowing Maliki? Is That a Democratic Value? Democratic Senators who are calling for the ouster of Iraqi's Prime Minister are betraying their constituents and assuming responsibility for Bush's failed war."

At the opening of Sicko in Rome, "Moore would not discuss his next film, "Fahrenheit 9/11½," currently in production for release next year. "I'm not talking about it, because if I did you may never see the film," he said."

If you live in the San Diego area (especially if you are in reach of KLSD 1360 AM, San Diego's only voice for Progressives), you might want to get on board to try and save the progressive format, before it becomes another sports talk station.

22:57 BST

What they said

Douglas Brinkley on the Reckless Abandonment of New Orleans: "Eventually, the volunteers' altruism turns to bewilderment and finally to outrage. They've been hoodwinked. The stalled recovery can't be blamed on bureaucratic inertia or red tape alone. Many volunteers come to understand what I've concluded is the heartless reality: The Bush administration actually wants these neighborhoods below sea level to die on the vine."

Zbigniew Brzezinski endorses Obama: "In an interview with Al Hunt that will air on Bloomberg's "Political Capital" at 11 p.m. tonight, Zbigniew Brzezinski said that Mr. Obama is "clearly more effective and has the upper hand." The national security adviser under President Jimmy Carter continued, "There is a need for a fundamental rethinking of how we conduct world affairs, and Obama seems to me to have both the guts and the intelligence to address that issue and to change the nature of America's relationship with the world." He called Mrs. Clinton's foreign policy "very conventional." "I don't think the country needs to go back to what we had eight years ago," Mr. Brzezinski said."

Christopher Brauchli hopes no one interprets any of his anti-Bush writing as anti-Bush writing, because: "On July 17 Mr. Bush signed one of those executive orders (EO) that enables him to make laws without bothering Congress. In the introduction, EO 13438 explains that it is "in the interests of the United States to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in [assorted executive orders issued in 2003 and 2004]." It says that property and interests of certain defined bad people can be confiscated without advance notice to those bad people. The order doesn't apply to everyone in the United States. It only applies to people who have what is referred to in the EO as a "constitutional presence" in the United States. That term is not defined in the order but presumably it applies only to people who have the complete panoply of constitutional rights accorded citizens. Thus, terrorists and unlawful combatants who lack those rights are probably not affected by the EO."

"The Great Iraq Swindle" at Rolling Stone: "How is it done? How do you screw the taxpayer for millions, get away with it and then ride off into the sunset with one middle finger extended, the other wrapped around a chilled martini? Ask Earnest O. Robbins -- he knows all about being a successful contractor in Iraq."

My god this woman is a dope. Look for her to have a high-paying job on CNN momentarily.

16:42 BST

People are talking

Glenn Greenwald: "What possible reason is there to protect anyone -- including telecom companies -- with a special law enacted to declare that they are relieved of all accountability for illegal behavior? And the premise of this argument is even more dangerous than the conclusion: it is all premised on the claim that these companies were only acting at the behest of George Bush, and therefore were entitled, even obligated, to do what they did. In other words, the President has the power to order private actors to break the law and when those orders are obeyed, the private actors are immune from the consequences of their lawbreaking, because they acted at the Leader's behest."

PGL is buying a book on Brad DeLong's recommendation. Brad says you should read Jonathan Chait's The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by Crackpot Economics because, "(a) the book is very well written; (b) the book has a very important message." Chait's summary: "Let me take this as a serious question and offer an answer: It's important to understand that the Republican Party is mostly an organized conspiracy to redistribute wealth upwards, that deceit is an essential element of their M.O., that the conservative movement is fundamentally radical and dangerous, that the national media have done an abysmal job of covering politics and policy, and that the Bush administration has overturned the basic norms of governance that have prevailed for decades..."

Neil the Ethical Werewolf explains why John Edwards' support from trial lawyers and unions is not the same thing as support from the industry lobbyists who corrupt the system: "The answer is simple. If you think that consumers have been robbing corporations blind, or that the balance of power between workers and executives is unfairly tilted against executives, then these donors should make you look darkly at John Edwards. But if you think consumers need better protection against corporations whose products disembowel little girls, or if you think that the next president needs to fight tooth and nail for working people's interests, you should be happy that trial lawyers and unions support him.

Oliver Willis wonders whether Edwards' policy speech hasn't come too late to help him beat Hillary and Obama. But I think a lot of Americans are hearing something that the consultant class is not, and putting the speech out there can't hurt: "For more than 20 years, Democrats have talked about universal health care. And for more than 20 years, we've gotten nowhere, because lobbyists for the big insurance companies, drug companies and HMOs spent millions to block real reform. Instead, they've grudgingly allowed incremental measures that do nothing but tinker around the edges -- or worse, they've hijacked reform to improve their own bottom line. So today, more Americans go without health care than ever before. Instead of prescription drug reform that brought down the cost of drugs, the lobbyists for the big drug companies got us a prescription drug bill that boosts drug company profits but doesn't cut patient costs." Obama and Clinton are both temporizing, trying to sound non-threatening and "bipartisan", and talking about abstracts. Edwards is talking about you.

Via Scott Lemieux, Henry at Crooked Timber observes not only that John Cole is driven into shrill unholy madness, but that: "If we discount the out-and-out hacks, my entirely unscientific impression that apparently smart1 pro-war bloggers who were/are genuinely right wing have been much more likely than apparently smart pro-war bloggers who were (or who claim to have been) left of center to accept that they were wrong and that their former comrades appear to be increasingly deranged. To the extent that I'm right, I suspect that there's some psychological mechanism involving the sunk costs of ideological conversion here (but I could of course be wrong)." Like Scott, I share this feeling.

And Scott provides an example in this article by Gregory Djerejian at The Belgravia Dispatch in which GD actually reads the O'Hanlon & Pollack trip report rather than just the op-eds, and says it's even worse than you might have imagined: "I'm sorry, but when progress is being highlighted by showcasing the existence of large-scale clean-up crews to tidy up the devastation (and, mind you, crews the central government refuses to pay, as they employ Sunnis, so it's on Uncle Sam's dime!), or needing to rush about local stores to get the nitric acid off the shelves so the bombings aren't as gory (alas, this didn't help the Yezidis much), boy, you're really scraping the barrel I'm afraid."

I have come to hate Heathrow as much as I hate O'Hare. And it's not just me: "According to an experiment commissioned by Silverjet, which operates all-business class flights between London Luton and New York Newark, and conducted by the neuropsychologist David Lewis, the stress that passengers endure when traveling through Heathrow is higher than that of a Formula 1 driver during a race, a free-fall parachutist during a descent, or riot police confronting a stone-throwing mob." (And are they just stupid, or what?)

13:38 BST

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Nobody's right if everybody's wrong

Lepel Cologne underwired braBra of the Week

Dept. of Chocolate-Covered Cotton Balls: "Troops Confront Waste In Iraq Reconstruction", or what happens when you put the armed services into the hands of Milo Minderbinder's even more evil twin. (via)

YouTube vids of the previously mentioned agents provocateurs in Quebec.

Who are the laziest Americans?


Tim Robbins and Bill Maher do a great job of stomping all over war-promoter Stephen Hayes. Via Atrios.

Kevin Drum: "CONTRACEPTION....Cristina Page writes in the Baltimore Sun this week that the press should pay attention not just to Republican candidates' rhetoric on abortion, but also to their rhetoric on birth control in general [...] If the GOP field is going to compete with each other to pander to their base on this, the media ought to let the rest of us know it. Words matter, right?"

I wonder how many people remember just how amazing it was at the time to see Buffalo Springfield sing "For What It's Worth" live on national television.

23:41 BST

Assorted linkage

Kevin Drum is banging his head against a wall over the GOP lie that the surge has turned the Iraqi people against Al Qaeda in Iraq, since they had already turned against them a year ago. (But you're wrong about this, Kevin, because Hillary is wrong. Anything that happens, the Republicans will spin to their advantage. But I don't really think Americans are poised to fall for it if there's another attack on Bush's watch. Not this time. Not after everything that's happened. And it doesn't help to have Clinton, or you, claiming otherwise. You should already be saying it: Another failure on Bush's watch is Bush's failure.)

Personally, I would put the use of agents provocateurs at least third down on a long list of worst things you can do in a democracy, but it's nice to see it failed this time - it usually works a treat.

Here's Digby on Roger Stone's latest moves against Eliot Spitzer, with a link to The Albany Project with more details and a link to Matt Stoller's article on how Jerry Nadler is speaking up for Spitzer and describing what's going on as Like Whitewater - an effort to gin up a scandal to try to kill a Democratic political career.

Via Scott Horton's legal round-up, The 10 WORST U.S. Prosecutors 2007. Much of it refers to prosecutors who seem to take pride in putting people in jail for no reason - including those who are known to be innocent - but I wonder why Leura Canary and Alice Martin, who are responsible for this, didn't make the list.

No good deed goes unpunished: "One after another, the men and women who have stepped forward to report corruption in the massive effort to rebuild Iraq have been vilified, fired and demoted. Or worse. [...] "If you do it, you will be destroyed," said William Weaver, professor of political science at the University of Texas-El Paso and senior advisor to the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition." They actually tortured an American citizen for reporting illegal arms sales.

Did I mention that democracy is no longer a goal in Iraq? Did anyone really think it ever was?

So, is Ted Nugent threatening the lives of Obama and Clinton? Maybe not, but I'm sure liberal bloggers are much nastier (because I read it in a "respectable" newspaper).

"Why I No Longer Get Excited When Bush Cronies Quit", by Mad Kane.

Thunderclap Newman

17:05 BST

What the papers say

In The Washington Post:

  • "Terror Suspect List Yields Few Arrests" - unsurprising since they obviously use it to harass lots of people who can't possibly have anything to do with threatening terrorism against the United States or anyone else.
  • Michael O'Hanlon gets it wrong some more: "Unfortunately, much of the blogosphere and other media outlets have emphasized the wrong question, challenging the integrity of anyone who dares to express politically incorrect views about Iraq." No, you drip, we criticized your integrity in representing yourselves as critics of the war when in fact you have supported the invasion and occupation from the very beginning. If you had honestly said you'd always supported the Iraq venture, you knew you would be dismissed by anyone who understood that this was evidence of your poor judgment. No one should listen to you: You have always been wrong.
  • Deborah Howell has devoted two successive columns to whether or not words within quotation marks should reflect exactly what the speaker said. I have no particular disagreement with her position, but I'm willing to bet readers had other complaints in the last few weeks. Her column for this weekend isn't up yet, as far as I can tell, but I do wonder if it will reflect the disgust with, oh, say, having Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack represented in their pages as critics of the invasion and occupation of Iraq (or things like this). And, oddly, I note that the comment box isn't at the bottom of her column. That's right, there is no place for comments on the ombudsman's column. Jeez.

In The New York Times:

In the Guardian:

  • "Three British troops killed by US jet: In the worst "friendly fire" incident involving British forces in the country, an American F-15 long-range strike aircraft dropped a single 500lb bomb killing the soldiers from 1st Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment."
  • Simon Hoggart stayed awake for his eye surgery, making me feel even more glad that I slept through mine. I wasn't supposed to - the anesthesiologist had spent some time convincing me that I should have a local - but I have no memory of what happened between being directed to lie down and waking up being told that when they'd given me the "happy juice" I'd fallen asleep, so they had to give me a general. (I do find it extremely unnerving to know that, as a side-effect of the drug, there is a period where I was awake but I don't remember it. It's like whatever was in short-term memory was deleted from the buffer by the dope. Isn't that kinda creepy?)

14:43 BST

What's goin' on

Eli draws my attention to this piece by BooMan on what the other side doesn't get about how those of us who understand what's going on in Iraq view the occupation: "The Iraqi people are like a grandfather that has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. You have six months to a year to prepare yourself and manage your grief. When the day comes, you are sad. But you knew that day was coming. You are not distraught. [...] I don't think the Republicans understand that people who have been watching the war in Iraq for the last four years have been internalizing their grief all along ... preparing for the day when all hell breaks loose. The time is long since past when rational people could expect a remission of the metastasis. One last blast of radiation is not, and has not, solved the problem."

Once again, Obama shows he's good at the relaxed TV thing, on The Daily Show.

Maha has an amusing insight on how conservatives speak in myth. (Man, that episode of ST/TNG annoyed the hell out of me.)

Digby has a transcription of Rush Limbaugh's remarkable explanation for why all the liberals are so interested in Darfur. I heard it on the radio this morning and I have to admit I giggled a bit at the idea that all those black folk are wedded to "Africa" - and particularly Darfur - the way Lieberman is to Israel.

Marvin Gaye live

02:37 BST

Friday, 24 August 2007

Please don't nominate this woman

Matt Yglesias finds Hillary self-destructing before our eyes

This is, I think, a disaster:
"It's a horrible prospect to ask yourself, 'What if? What if?' But if certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again, no matter how badly they have mishandled it, no matter how much more dangerous they have made the world," Clinton told supporters in Concord.

"So I think I'm the best of the Democrats to deal with that," she added.

Two points in response. The first is that I think the Democrat best positioned to deal with GOP political mobilization in a post-attack environment is going to be the one who isn't reflexively inclined to see failed Republican policies resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Americans as a political advantage for the Republicans.

The other is that I think there's a pretty clear sense in which the further one is from Bush's Iraq policy, the easier it is politically to say that the failures of Bush's national security policy should be blamed on Bush's failed policies.

... Most of all, though, I think the politics of national security call for a strong, self-confident posture that genuinely believes liberal solutions are politically saleable and substantively workable, not the kind of worry-wort attitude that says we need to cower in fear every time Republicans say "terror."

Josh Marshall:
I agree with Matt on this one. It is extremely important for the Democrats to nominate someone who doesn't think like a loser. And assuming that any failure of the president's anti-terrorism policies will automatically be a political boon for the Republican party means thinking like a loser.
And I just don't see how this woman can represent us if she doesn't really believe in foreign policy without war.

23:06 BST

It caught on in a flash

Paul Krugman on how the Republicans are still relying on racism to get them through, in "Seeking Willie Horton: To appreciate what's going on here you need to understand the difference between the goals of the modern Republican Party and the strategy it uses to win elections. The people who run the G.O.P. are concerned, above all, with making America safe for the rich. Their ultimate goal, as Grover Norquist once put it, is to get America back to the way it was "up until Teddy Roosevelt, when the socialists took over," getting rid of "the income tax, the death tax, regulation, all that." But right-wing economic ideology has never been a vote-winner. Instead, the party's electoral strategy has depended largely on exploiting racial fear and animosity." [Paywall link]

The right-wingers have found a statistic about Americans' health that makes them feel much better about our healthcare - but Ezra says the stat may not mean anything, and even if it did, we'd still need to know why we do a teeny bit better (at considerably higher cost) in that one area when we do so poorly every where else.

Via the latest blog round-up at C&L, I see that Atrios is a threat to free speech because he says rude things about Tom Friedman. It's the Republican Gag Rule - when liberals speak, it's censorship of crackpot right-wingers.

Here and here, George Packer considers Vietnam comparisons. (Thanks to D. for the tip.)

People like Joe Biden have made a lot of hay out of their fantasy of a tripartite Iraq, but even that (not very good) idea may come too late, since, thanks to the way we've atomized the place, it might be fair to say that Iraq No Longer Exists.

While Ari Fleischer is launching a video using an American soldier whose name he doesn't even know as a prop, to support Dick & George's Excellent Adventure, Iraq Veterans Against the War have their own video, using their own names and voices.

If you missed Rachel's show from last night (which you can still hear here until the next one airs), you missed her interview with Iraq Slogger's Christina Davidson, who broke the story yesterday about this: "Republican lobbyists with close ties to the Bush administration are aiding and supporting the efforts of an Iraqi opposition leader who is calling for the ouster of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The anti-Maliki crusader is former Iraqi interim prime minister Ayad Allawi, and the Washington firm retained to spearhead U.S.-focused efforts on his behalf is the Republican powerhouse group of Barbour, Griffith, and Rogers (BGR)." Allawi, of course, is best remembered for his willingness to personally blindfold suspects and shoot them. Also known as "Saddam Lite", he was a lousy interim prime minister, and so is al-Maliki, because even if they were the best leaders in the world, the fact is that they are just fingers in the occupation hand. (Spencer Ackerman suspects Allawi can pay for all this because he was in on the theft of a lot of money from the Iraqi treasury.) Rachel also cleared up a matter of confusion for me about all that stuff about the alleged corruption of Eliot Spitzer. It seems the same guy who arranged the Brooks Brothers Riot in Miami is behind it all, just aside from making obscene phone calls to Spitzer's elderly father. Oh, and there's the interview with body modification legend Jim Ward, the guy who did all those piercings on Karl Rove's father's squidgy bits.

Little did I know that the late Bobby "Boris" Picket had recorded "The Climate Mash".

19:11 BST

As if no blood were spilled

So, it comes to pass, unsurprisingly, that the wingnut "intellectuals" have risen to support the Bush theory of Vietnam.

It would be nice if we could somehow force them into a real debate in which we get to ask them just what exactly it is they think we lost in 'Nam, and what we would have won if we'd stayed. What prize would have been worth thousands more names added to that wall?

Well, we could have done what Barry Goldwater suggested and dropped a nuke on them, and then... well, maybe they would have officially surrendered? And then what? We'd have a Marshall Plan and make them like Germany? Or we'd screw it up the same way we did Iraq, by staying and messing them around some more so that they'd still be fighting us? I mean, what?

What were we fighting against in 'Nam, exactly? We are told it was "communism", but it's pretty clear that a free and fair election would have put Ho Chi Minh in the leadership, and he was basically an admirer of American government, only without the free-market theology that conservatives so worship. Uncle Ho, according to what we know about him, actually liked the idea of democracy. So, first and foremost, that's what we defeated. We beat Ho Chi Minh and ruined his chances of becoming the democratically elected leader of Vietnam.

And the Vietnam we left behind, that we "lost" to? Today, they have a thriving commercial sector, and an American can safely go there to walk the streets and shop without flak jackets or a military escort. They even like us. I mean, what's the big loss?

Yes, people died when we left, and it was definitely embarrassing to the Mighty Beacon of Freedom.

But people lived because we left, and Vietnam has become something more than just a war.

And how many more dead do we need to satisfy the testosterone cravings of desk-jockeys among the eastern effete elites? I only wish our Newspapers of Record were listening to what may be America's smartest political analyst, instead of people like this.

14:04 BST

And perpetually awaiting a rebirth of wonder

Matthew alerts me to the fact that Bruce Fein is at it again with "The Heart of Queens: Can Nancy Pelosi single-handedly take impeachment off the table?" He sees things as so bad that he even suggests replacing Pelosi with Steny Hoyer. (Steny Hoyer!) And not without good reason: "The prospect of an impeachment inquiry by the House judiciary committee would concentrate the minds of the president and vice president wonderfully on obeying rather than sabotaging the Constitution. But Speaker Pelosi has at least figuratively joined hands with the White House in opposition. Emulating the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, she has threatened the removal of Michigan Rep. John Conyers from his chairmanship of the House judiciary committee if an impeachment inquiry were even opened, according to reliable congressional chatter." Gah! And here is the bitter irony: As much as some Broderesque types would like to convince us that all those investigations, as well as the desire for impeachment, are mere partisanship, it is really Pelosi's fears for the party's fortunes in 2008 that have kept the lid on those investigations going where they should lead. So yes, at long last, we have an example of the Democrats being calculatedly partisan - in their refusal to begin the impeachment of George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney.

Another thing to hate about Ohio's electronic voting methods is the fact that it virtually eliminates the secrecy of the ballot. Which is ironic, given that it's the very need for such secrecy that makes it difficult to track the integrity of your electronic vote. Sure, if we could match people to votes, it'd be a lot harder to cook them.

Progressive Blog Digest has a big fat post full of responses to Bush's Yay for Quagmire! speech.

I got a prezzie from eRobin, who says, "Call Congress and Tell Them to Start Doing Their Damn Jobs."

The Daily Record, where Ettlin is temping, has a blog (on Blogspot!), and thus Dave Ettlin's first blog post, "Remembering the man who shot George Wallace: "Word that Arthur H. Bremer likely will be freed from a Maryland prison in a few months brought a rush of memory to me Thursday - as one of the handful of reporters who saw him on the fateful day in May 1972 after he shot Democratic presidential candidate George C. Wallace on the Laurel Shopping Center parking lot."

04:25 BST

The Battle of Little Saigon-on-the-Potomac and other depressing crap

I try to avoid Bush's speeches these days, but this recent one was unavoidable and turned my brain to jelly. I know there are still Vietnam Vets who will cling to the idea that we left the 'Nam "too soon" and thus betrayed them - but the truth is that we didn't leave soon enough. And there are those who won't remember that our activity in Cambodia is what caused the outrages of Pol Pot - because we went in there and wrecked their existing government, thus opening the way to "the killing fields". And yes, Lyndon Johnson really did utter such rubbish as that if we didn't fight them over there, they'd follow us home and we'd have to fight them "over here" - but I don't remember having to fight the Vietnamese in the streets of America. Do you?

Oh, I know, by now I should be past being surprised and horrified by the mad mouthings of His Chimpness, but listening to aWol talk about the glory that was missed in Southeast Asia just went right by my filters and reopened some old and mostly - I thought - healed wounds.

Having Bush actually invoke The Quiet American as if it were something he could take pride in was, well, just the icing on the cake. It's just an especially jarring irony after Atrios has been using exactly that term for many months to refer to the foreign policy geniuses who got us into this disaster.

And speaking of such geniuses, Thers alerts us to a remarkable post at Democracy Arsenal contesting Glenn Greenwald's contention that America has turned into an imperial power - and that that is a bad thing. I'm one of many people who left a comment responding to his claim that America is "inherently good" (and his snide insinuation that to dispute this is to "hate America"), but let me especially recommend two by Dan Kervick, who explains why empire and democracy are incompatible, and why the idea of being "inherently good" makes no sense. (And more at A Tiny Revolution, via Atrios.)

If only we could hope to be spared the absurdity of having concern trolls assure us that Democrats will lose votes if they support the views of their own constituents and get us out of this insanity - but we won't, thanks to the Bush Dog Dems. (On the other hand, I see we're getting some nuance from the identity-crisis-prone folks at ABC News....)

And just to add injury to injury, I try to avoid sports here, but really, this is just taking the piss.

01:49 BST

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Now and then

Juan Cole is Fisking the "War on Terror": "Once upon a time, a dangerous radical gained control of the US Republican Party. [...] Bin Laden not only raised millions for the effort, but helped encourage Arab volunteers to go fight for Reagan against the Soviets and the Afghan communists. The Arab volunteers included people like Ayman al-Zawahiri, a young physician who had been jailed for having been involved in the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar El-Sadat. Bin Laden kept a database of these volunteers. In Arabic the word for base is al-Qaeda. [...] In the US, the Christian Right adopted the Mujahideen as their favorite project. They even sent around a "biblical checklist" for grading US congressman as to how close they were to the "Christian" political line. If a congressman didn't support the radical Muslim Muj, he or she was downgraded by the evangelicals and fundamentalists." (via)

A Blog Named Sue found more than I did about the situation with the contractors in Iraq, not to mention the significantly higher death toll than the official figures tell of.

Lambert says McConnell is lying about the NSA spying program. Looks like it to me, too, but even if you presume he's telling the truth, it seems mighty strange that they needed to break the law just for "phone numbers".

Diane has discovered the god-squad story. The good news is that the Pentagon actually seems to have been embarrassed into stopping some of it.

It looks like running for president has turned out to be a bad career move for John McCain.

Oh, hey, Digby's doing some blogging at Common Sense, too, now.

Bill Scher is going to be doing a weekly half-hour radio show on WHMP Saturdays at 10:00 Eastern - and Rachel Maddow will be his first guest.

Steve VanZant, Patriot

13:39 BST

Assorted stuff

Real heroes in uniform - brave enough to speak up.

Who says they're incompetent? There's one thing they do well, and that's stage-managing Bush's public appearances and keeping you from being seen or heard. Hecate reports.

Democrats again: "Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), who made waves when he returned from Iraq by saying he was willing to be more flexible on troop withdrawal timelines, issued a statement to constituents "setting the record straight." "I am firmly in favor of withdrawing troops on a timeline that includes both a definite start date and a definite end date," he wrote on his Web site. But in an interview yesterday, McNerney made clear his views have shifted since returning from Iraq. He said Democrats should be willing to negotiate with the generals in Iraq over just how much more time they might need. And, he said, Democrats should move beyond their confrontational approach, away from tough-minded, partisan withdrawal resolutions, to be more conciliatory with Republicans who might also be looking for a way out of the war." This guy is hopeless. And he is not alone.

Via Little Thom I learn that the poor, helpless Creationists, oppressed by the evil scientific community that wants them to actually produce some science in order to be called "scientists" (those secret handshakes are always so ...exclusionary), are making a movie about how oppressed they are. Lucky for them, they have Ben Stein on their side to fight against these thuggish thought police who want to ban you from thinking about the existence of a Creator.

NTodd ponders a suggested general strike.

00:08 BST

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

It's up to you

Thanks to Atrios, The Poor Man Institute, and Glenn Greenwald, I started my day having a long grump about the Democratic Congress that lasted well into the afternoon. Glenn only states the obvious - that Congress' low approval ratings are a direct result of the fact that the Democratic leadership has pretty much betrayed all those people who went to the polls for them last November by continuing to enable Bush's stunning power-grab and war-mongering.

Since Democrats took over Congress in January, there have been three major attributes characterizing their conduct: (1) a failure to stop or restrict the war in Iraq; (2) a general failure/unwillingness to stop Bush on much of anything else of significance (FISA, a failure to reverse any of the excesses of the GOP Congress, such as the Military Commissions Act, lack of limits on his ability to attack Iran, etc.); and (3) numerous investigations, sometimes flashly but thus far inconsequential. There is no rational way to argue that the numerous investigations (item (3)) are responsible for Congressional unpopularity given how overwhelmingly Americans want Congressional investigations of the administration.

Thus, the only rational conclusion is that Congress is so unpopular, particularly among Democrats, because of their ongoing capitulations to the Bush administration, their failure to place any limits on his Iraq policy, and their general inability/refusal to serve as a meaningful check on the administration. Democrats and independents overwhelmingly dislike the President. Thus, the weaker Congress is in defying the President, the more unpopular Congress becomes.

I realize David Broder and his pals like to reframe Congress' low popularity as a response to all those investigations that allegedly prevent Congress from "getting anything done", but the fact is that polls have been clear for well over a year that the public wants Democrats to counteract the administration, to rein-in the excesses and uproot the corruption the Republicans allowed to run riot. Exit polls in November suggested that this was as important to Americans as getting us out of Iraq. In fact, Americans - particularly Democrats and Independents (but more than a few Republicans) - are furious at Congress for getting too many things done: the wrong things. Things like expanding FISA. So why do they keep doing it some more?
Americans still trust the Democratic Congress far more than the President on "the major issues facing the country." Congress is so deeply unpopular not because they are investigating or obstructing too much, but because they are investigating and obstructing far too little. Every time "Blue Dog" Democrats and Democratic consultants and mindless, conventional-wisdom-spouting TNR types successfully argue that, especially on national security and war issues, Democrats need to capitulate to Bush lest they be politically harmed, they make Democrats look weaker, more like losers, and more impotent (the opposite of the "strength" they think they are projecting) and dig this political hole further and further.

With a President and a Republican Party this deeply unpopular, the only thing the Democrats could really do to harm themselves is to minimize the distinctions between them and Bush, and fail to take a strong stand against the administration. With very rare exception, that is exactly what they have been doing, and that is why they are held in such low esteem. That, of course, has been the predominant critique of Beltway Democratic insiders for quite some time, but this polling data proves this view rather conclusively.

Again, I don't think the Democratic leadership is particularly smart or particularly moral, but this political calculus seems so obvious to me - and, clearly, to a significant proportion of other Americans - that it is simply amazing that Democrats in Congress don't stop behaving like this even if only for their electoral survival.

Maybe your next letter to your reps and other leading Democrats should ask: "Why are you guys trying to dissuade Democratic voters from going to the polls in the next election?" Because that's what they're doing.

But there's another way to make your voice ten times louder if you haven't done it yet: Contact your local party and go to meetings and speak up. If enough people do this, the party will hear it, and eventually elective officials will hear it. They may not listen to you, alone, but they will listen to the party, and if you're what the party is hearing, it can make a lot of difference. Do it. Get involved.

18:54 BST

On the Infobahn

Natasha has a few words for Matt Bai (I'm loving this): "You may not think that these issues are worth caring about, or even blaming Bush for (I guess a person could make a case,) but they are substantive complaints about policy outcomes and not some eccentric vendetta against bad grammar or compulsive smirking. And because these are my complaints, my concerns, I expect them to be addressed by anyone seeking my support. That includes people who say they're in my party, who are asking to represent me to other members of my government and world leadership."

NTodd says: "If you aren't marching in DC on September 15th, you hate America."

They get letters: Sinfonian's post complaining about the "Choose Life" license plates and distribution of funds straight to a a forced pregnancy outfit via the DMV generated a response which, strangely, doesn't seem to be consistent with the record.

Hoist on their own petard? Seems like the mortgage crunch is even hurting...the Carlyle Group.

So, NBC has decided to put a bit of Keith Olbermann and Countdown on broadcast next Sunday - by which I mean the kind of television that isn't cable. Cool.

CIA blames Tenet: "A CIA inquiry has accused the agency's ex-chief George Tenet and his aides of failing to prepare for al-Qaeda threats before the 9/11 attacks on the US." I thought that was the Dick Branch's fault.

Dr. Rachel Maddow talks to Amy Robach about Karl Rove's farewell tour, on Countdown. (Also: The economy really does bite.)

This is pretty good, but you might want to turn the sound down a bit.

Here's a few nice cave-diving photos.

15:06 BST

On a cold day in August

Matt Bai has written another stupid book about Democrats, and Joan Walsh has reviewed it: "Bai's book is flawed by his failure to grapple with the negativity, lo, the hatred behind the Republican revolution of the '70s and '80s, some of which is still politically operative today. Does he really think Reagan rode to power on the Laffer curve, not by bashing Cadillac-driving welfare queens, scruffy war protesters and big bad government?" I was pleased to see that this earned Bai the coveted Wanker of the Day from Atrios, since, as you may recall, I have a thing about what a jerk Matt Bai is.

"In Bush World, when you lose your house to foreclosure, your world of pain has just started: It's a perfect Catch-22: You lose everything, but at least your debt is forgiven, but because the debt is forgiven, it's income, and now you have a new debt to Uncle Sam, one with penalties and interest added, because of the time that elapsed since you "earned" that income. And then you have just a month to appeal, or you lose your rights to question the decision. That 1-month appeal period is the icing on the cake. Most low income people don't have attorneys waiting in the wings to give them good advice in a case like this, which can often be won on appeal (after spending a lot on legal bills, of course). Many just go into panic mode and freeze instead, doing nothing until it's too late."

Some crackpot is suing PZ Myers for calling him a crackpot.

Real men don't care if Republicans think they're real men.

Steve M. reminds me of this post he did a few months ago about the people on the no-fly list. (I don't for a minute believe that Ted Kennedy is just a coincidence.)

Remember the bridge.

Everything I Know About Diversity, I Learned from Superhero Comics. (via)

01:13 BST

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Stuff I saw

Steve Benen says it's time for Gonzales to be gone, and even the neoconservative Washington Post agrees. Mcjoan says: "Gonzo isn't going to go on his own, regardless of the opprobrium the papers of record heap upon him. A real attorney general is a dangerous thing to BushCo, and they'll most certainly do everything in their power to prevent having to appoint one. This isn't a crew that understands or appreciates subtlety. It will take nothing less than the blunt instrument of impeachment hearings against the architect of so many of their illegal activities to get Gonzo pried out of office." Chris Dodd is on the same page. (Also: AT&T Shareholders Alarmed by Pearl Jam Controversy - John Amato says, "This is not going away.")

Glenn Greenwald attempts to explain to Dan Drezner why the predominant foreign policy ideology in Washington can accurately be described as an "imperialist".

Cernig on the 7-year-old terrorist - but yes, they are stopping everyone named "David Nelson".

Ted Sorensen Compares Obama to JFK - I guess that qualifies as a serious establishment stamp of approval. (Personally, I think Obama has to be on the ticket - but it'll be as VP. I also think the Republicans want Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic nominee, which is a good reason for her not to be the nominee. The one the Republicans are obviously really afraid of is Edwards, and he's the one who still beats the Republican among all voters in the match-ups. Unfortunately, this message still doesn't seem to have reached registered Democrats.)

I totally loved this. Thank you, Hugo!

20:19 BST

On the landscape

Jeez, what kind of jury did Padilla have, anyway? "The jury did seem to be an oddly cohesive group. On the last day of trial before the Fourth of July holiday, jurors arranged to dress in outfits so that each row in the jury box was its own patriotic color -- red, white or blue."

I see at News Hounds ("We watch FOX so you don't have to.") that Shepard Smith recently suggested that killings of Kurds in Iraq would be worse if we weren't there. Trouble is, they'd been asking for our help, and we weren't there for them.

Buzzflash reviews Marilyn W. Thompson's The Killer Strain: Anthrax and a Government Exposed, and still finds the timing of the anthrax assassination attempts, just before passage of the Patriot Act, to be more than a little suspicious.

Paul Krugman, "It's a Miserable Life [...] Whatever happens now, it's hard to avoid the sense that the growing complexity of our financial system is making it increasingly prone to crises - crises that are beyond the ability of traditional policies to handle. Maybe we'll make it through this crisis unscathed. But what about the next one, or the one after that?"

Digby on the GOP's Nostalgia Act.

And speaking of Digby, she was certainly right about how the press would ignore the article from troops who aren't optimistic about Iraq. No surprises there.

Joel Achenbach actually has a decent article about online journalism at the WaPo, "I Really Need You to Read This Article, Okay?" But then, he actually does blog.

Bill Scher thinks that Edwards and Obama are making a mistake by not doing more to distinguish themselves from Clinton on Iraq.

Thanks to Rich for the 12-Volt Battery Hack.

11:50 BST

Monday, 20 August 2007

Comparing apples and horses

Earlier at Eschaton I wrote: "At some point I have to write something about why this stuff makes me crazy." By which I mean attempts to "not be a hypocrite" by coming up with arguments for why it would have been a good thing if Clinton had resigned, just so you don't feel like you're being unduly partisan for saying Bush should be impeached. There are about a bazillion reasons why this is wrong, but in the comments, ProfWombat offers help:

Well, this stuff makes you crazy because there's no sense of proportion whatever. There will always be such a thing as prosecutorial discretion. Thus, someone driving two miles above the speed limit usually doesn't get stopped; there's a clear violation of written law, but nobody's being endangered by the conduct and there are more important things for a policeman to do. A few minutes' thought places the notion of a government of laws, and not of men, of necessity well outside reality. Thurgood Marshall, whose greatest moment was arguably the overturning of longstanding precedent in Brown v Board of Ed., could be heard bitterly complaining about Rehnquist and Scalia all but inviting people to bring actions allowing them to ignore stare decisis from the right.

So the issue isn't whether Clinton broke the law, or whether he resorted to legalisms, or tortured English. The issue is what exactly he in fact was doing, which was being indiscreet with a willing adult. It wasn't extraordinary rendition. It wasn't both outright violation of an existing federal law (FISA) and claiming authority to do so. It wasn't torture, or restriction of habeas corpus. It wasn't about the unitary executive. It wasn't about an attorney general who thinks he can remain on the job after lying to Congress. The hundreds of thousands dead, for a pack of lies. All of it.

Maybe that's why this stuff makes you crazy. Works for me.

Well, that's certainly a great deal of it, yes.

23:42 BST

Some links

Actual reporting by Ed Cone in 2005 shows that this isn't the first time: "I called Michael Skube to learn more about his outlook on blogs, and verified that he knows very little about blogs and bloggers, and had done almost no research before writing his N&R column (unposted) (why?)." Skube hasn't learned from that experience. (This whole thing reminds me of one of my favorite examples of the kind of fairness and accuracy we can expect from the corporate media: Michael Kelly, whose rewriting of the Florida recounts helped get him killed in Iraq.)

Steve Benen keeps on watching the debates so you don't have to, and finds the Democrats having a love-fest moment, and Chris Dodd showing how it's done. I wish more Dems knew how to do that - use a question to jump in with the point they want to make (and make sure it's a good point, too).

Naomi Klein doesn't think lack of ideas or money or even political will are the problem: "I still don't think they would listen. That's because elites don't make justice because we ask them to nicely and appealingly. They do it when the alternative to justice is worse. And that is what happened all those years ago when the income gap began to close. That was the motivation behind the New Deal and the Marshall Plan. Communism spreading around the world, that was the fear. Capitalism needed to embellish itself. It needed to soften its edges. It was in a competition. So ideas aren't the problem, and money is not the problem, and I don't think political will is ever the problem."

It was good to get back and be able to check out the regular weekend stuff I was missing. Like Jamison Foser: "There are few better reasons for having a free press than exposing potential government torture of its own citizens. And yet, after hyping the Bush administration's initial announcement of the arrest of the so-called "dirty bomber," the three major evening news broadcasts largely went silent about the government's treatment of Padilla." (Also missed the Saturday cartoons.)

LiveLeak from Iraq.

What they're afraid of.

20:02 BST

Things to make me grumpy

From The Raw Story, "Abu Ghraib abuse just tip of the iceberg":

"Today, polls show that a sizable number of soldiers think that torture is OK in certain conditions, that they won't report abuse if it takes place.

"And I think the sad truth is that these things are still taking place but the difference between now and April-May 2004 is that people aren't taking pictures."

From Walter Pincus at The Washington Post, "Contractors in Iraq Have Become U.S. Crutch":
Only estimates are available for the total employment by contractors in Iraq that perform "functions once carried by the U.S. military," according to the study. Testimony at an April 2007 congressional hearing gave the impressive figure of 127,000 as the number working in Iraq under Defense Department contracts. Breakdowns don't exist, but one Pentagon official said less than 20 percent were American.

CIA and the Pentagon intelligence agencies have hired contractors in Iraq, but the tasks and the funds involved are secret.


But the expanded contractor use has evoked new attention to a 1995 criticism of the practice. According to the study, a Defense Department Commission on Roles and Missions found then that depending on contractors was detrimental and that it kept the Pentagon "from building and maintaining capacity needed for strategic or other important missions."

That's on Page A13, or course. What's on the front page is a piece by inveterate Bush stenographer Peter Baker about how poor old George is lonely at the top:
As he sat down with opposition leaders from authoritarian societies around the world, he gave voice to his exasperation. "You're not the only dissident," Bush told Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a leader in the resistance to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. "I too am a dissident in Washington. Bureaucracy in the United States does not help change. It seems that Mubarak succeeded in brainwashing them."
Via Mona, who has more. (And Jim Henley has more on FISA. But I wonder if Jim has given much thought to the commercial aspects of having all this free-flowing personal "intelligence" in the hands of so many private companies who have no apparent limitations on what they can do with your data once they get their hands on it.)

Pharmaceutical houses have First Amendment rights, but you don't.

Gary Younge in the Guardian says "Bush is now the embarrassing uncle the Republicans just can't hide", and they might not even invite him to their convention. They'll keep trying to pretend they had no part of him, when in fact he could not have done all this damage without them. The problem of course, is that too many Democrats have helped.

And I'm sick of all these big grey clouds and rain.

14:23 BST

I saw it on the Internet

I see via Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns and Money that the LAT published a lousy op-ed by Michael Skube, a journalism professor who thinks he is an arbiter on what the product should look like, who says the usual lame things about how bloggers aren't as good as real journalists - a position Amanda makes short work of. But perhaps more astonishingly, he uses as an example of these non-journalists Josh Marshall! Unsurprisingly, Josh, who is not only a real reporter but a remarkably good one, took issue with the idea that his site has no original journalism, an obvious falsehood. And he received a response saying that, in fact, Skube hadn't really checked out the Talking Points Memo site and Marshall's name had just been added by an editor. Now that's great journalism!

Via Atrios, more evidence, at Firedoglake, that even the rationale for the new FISA expansion was pure bollocks, and that the White House was indeed duplicitous, and that the Democratic leadership were of course completely remiss (at best) in allowing it to pass.

The byline says "Buddhika Jayamaha is an Army specialist. Wesley D. Smith is a sergeant. Jeremy Roebuck is a sergeant. Omar Mora is a sergeant. Edward Sandmeier is a sergeant. Yance T. Gray is a staff sergeant. Jeremy A. Murphy is a staff sergeant." Is the media going to pay as much attention to their NYT op-ed, "The War as We Saw It", as they paid to an op-ed by a couple of pro-war hacks who saw Iraq only as the Pentagon arranged for them to see it? I'm not going to hold my breath, and neither are Digby, Jack Hitt, or Sam Seder.

Man, I'm glad it was just a coincidence that the US Treasury poured out money to fund Republican election campaigns....

I've always loved watching this.

What we were doing in Wales: Apparently, my sister-in-law could think of no finer way to spend her birthday than to take us on the Torchwood tour.

12:22 BST

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Quick links

Fayreform Profile Perfect Plunge bra

Bra of the Week

We ran off to Wales for the weekend and spent a lot of time looking at rain. Maybe I'll post a few pictures of when it wasn't raining. I still need to decompress a bit, and I'm watching the SammyCam at the moment. I did grab a few links I didn't get around to posting before I left....

If I have this right, Peggy Noonan thinks we can learn something from the British in Northern Ireland... but, strangely, it's not the same lesson the British (finally) learned.

Kos talks about Winning as a liberal as a viable strategy for beating the conservatives.

Conservatives, discussed by moonbat and Maha.

PGL at Angry Bear on Adolph Giuliani's Social Security plan. (OK, I didn't get that one before I left, but it's easy to post.)

Become a card-carrying member of the ACLU. You might as well give 'til it hurts, since it hurts already.

22:24 BST

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Known knowns

Barbara Boxer wants real election reform, but dividing up the electoral votes in California isn't it.

If it makes you feel any better, The New York Times isn't any better at talking about the movie-making business than they are at talking about political news, John Rogers at Kung Fu Monkey assures us.

Jerome a Paris: "The very people that, in many instances, denied that there was any kind of bubble, or that house prices were a problem in any way, and denied that market valuations of certain assets were completely unreasonable, are now saying, in hindsight, that it was indeed a bubble and, while they are still saying that nothing much will really happen from the end of the bubble (other than silly people getting punished), they are already hard at work trying to pin the blame elsewhere."

Are your papers in order? Passports aren't just for leaving the country, anymore. I think they should hire guards with German accents to make the whole experience feel authentic.

The top six untruths of Alberto Gonzales, and the undiplomatic diplomat.

Interesting artwork, pretty vacation shots, and sweet family photos, all on the weblog of the Syrian envoy to America, Imad Moustapha. He hasn't mentioned to his government that he has a blog, since back home it's kind of illegal.

01:05 BST

Friday, 17 August 2007

The crime

I wanted to reemphasize this quote from Tim Grieve's article in Salon:

Actually, according to the Monitor, today's verdict may have come as happy news to Padilla. He was terrified that if he were acquitted, President Bush would declare him an enemy combatant again and move him back to the brig. Angela Hegarty, a forensic psychiatrist who examined Padilla, told the paper that "there is no question in my mind that his first and most important priority is to not go back to the brig. This is what leaves me chilled, if one were to offer him a long prison term or return to the brig, he would take prison, in a heartbeat . He told me more than once that if he went back to the brig he knew what he had to do." What he "had to do," Hegarty said, is commit suicide.
Via Firedoglake, which has discussion of the case here and here.

The wingers, of course, are using the fact that Padilla was convicted as some kind of vindication, pretending that if what the administration did to Padilla was wrong, it was just an error, an aberration. John Cole isn't buying it.

Thanks to Dave Ettlin for alerting me to an editorial in today's Baltimore Sun, "The Padilla Crime":

Yesterday a federal jury in Miami found Mr. Padilla guilty. That's hardly a vindication of the administration. For one thing, no acts of violence or terror were linked to the man who was once said by President Bush to pose a "continuing, present and grave danger" to national security.


Yet because of someone like this, the Bush administration was willing to junk the Constitution and redefine the legal system as it saw fit. That's the real crime.

There's also an article by Siobhan Gorman saying,"Verdict may challenge Bush's case for tribunals" - and a lot of people fighting the Guantanamo kidnappings are referring to it.

21:34 BST

Sight and sound

Can you see the widget? It allows you to listen to all of the Seder on Sunday shows. (It will start up on the most recently-posted show. You can get the embed code, or select earlier shows from the directory, after you start it up.) Sam always has interviews with some of our favorite bloggers - and this week he even had Digby. (I can't find any archived links for the shows he did Monday for Rachel and Malloy, alas. If anyone has posted them, do let me know.) (via)

Rachel Maddow's Campaign Asylum XI - on lame gay lobbying in Washington. "Now ya know why I hate gay politics?"

Colbert interviews the Great Orange Satan of the goosestepping blogstapo, the head of the Ku Kos Klan.

A lot of people, including Keith Olbermann, have been wondering whether the media would tell the truth about this. Well, amazingly, Tweety blows the whistle on the phony "Patraeus Report" that isn't, on Hardball.

17:59 BST

News and analysis

You can listen to Scott Horton interviewing Stu Bykofsky at AntiWar.

Paul Krugman is for "Workouts, Not Bailouts [...] Many on Wall Street are clamoring for a bailout - for Fannie Mae or the Federal Reserve or someone to step in and buy mortgage-backed securities from troubled hedge funds. But that would be like having the taxpayers bail out Enron or WorldCom when they went bust - it would be saving bad actors from the consequences of their misdeeds. [...] The point, however, is that doing nothing isn't the only alternative to letting the parties who got us into this mess off the hook. Say no to bailouts - but let's help borrowers work things out."

So, you think you can safeguard the value of your money by investing in gold? Maybe not: "Key precious metals tumbled in late business on Thursday as bullion investors sold their holdings following declines in stock markets and increased worries about credit market troubles."

So, the Republican Party is going to protect your Second Amendment rights? I don't think so. "Homeland Security Enlists Clergy to Quell Public Unrest if Martial Law Ever Declared: "Could martial law ever become a reality in America? Some fear any nuclear, biological or chemical attack on U.S. soil might trigger just that. KSLA News 12 has discovered that the clergy would help the government with potentially their biggest problem: Us. [...] But gun confiscation is exactly what happened during the state of emergency following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, along with forced relocation. U.S. Troops also arrived, something far easier to do now, thanks to last year's elimination of the 1878 Posse Comitatus act, which had forbid regular U.S. Army troops from policing on American soil." (More on that here.)

"The Enhanced Sentence: California prison inmates have something to look forward to: a brand new prison, one with an added bonus. The site selected by the state just happens to be located in an area loaded with spores that lead to coccidiomycosis or "Valley Fever," according to an article in yesterday's Sacramento Bee."

"Votescam" - Hendrik Hertzberg in The New Yorker last week about how Republicans are planning to take California.

15:30 BST

This is news

If, as Grist reports, Al Gore is telling a [paywalled] New York Times columnist that he advocates civil disobedience, then I don't think he's going to run for president: "I can't understand why there aren't rings of young people blocking bulldozers," Mr. Gore said, "and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants."

Will Bunch calls our attention to the seriously redacted notes from FBI Director Mueller on his meeting with Bush. Your secret government at work. (More on this from Spencer Ackerman at TPMmuckraker.)

Scott Lemieux alerts us to the new originalism - the argument from the neoconservative Washington Post (Fred Hiatt) that Congress can't change laws to reflect new knowledge about, say, unintended consequences or changing realities - or the will of the public.

Bloomberg reports that the "Pentagon Paid $998,798 to Ship Two 19-Cent Washers: A small South Carolina parts supplier collected about $20.5 million over six years from the Pentagon for fraudulent shipping costs, including $998,798 for sending two 19-cent washers to an Army base in Texas, U.S. officials said. The company also billed and was paid $455,009 to ship three machine screws costing $1.31 each to Marines in Habbaniyah, Iraq, and $293,451 to ship an 89-cent split washer to Patrick Air Force Base in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Pentagon records show."

13:02 BST

Staring down this broken land

Glenn Greenwald on "The Padilla verdict: A federal jury in Miami today unanimously found U.S. citizen Jose Padilla guilty of "conspiracy to support Islamic terrorism overseas." In so doing, the jury dealt an enormous blow not only to Padilla himself, but also to the theory which the Bush administration cited to justify its most extremist power over the last six years -- namely, the power to imprison U.S. citizens, on U.S. soil, with no charges of any kind." Can Padilla be credibly claimed to have been able to assist in his own trial? I don't think so. He made it clear to his defenders that he was so afraid of being returned to the brig that he was relieved by an ordinary jail sentence. John Cole asks: "I still do not understand why it was necessary to keep this guy in solitary confinement until he was basically a grunting vegetable. I just don't. Why was it necessary to violate his rights as a citizen? Why keep him from a lawyer? Why?" (Much more here.)

At Alternate Brain, we learn What they really want, and it's for Bush to become "first permanent president of America".

Steve M. is interested to learn that David Brooks is a truck-drivin' man and working-class hero.

The Uncapitalist considers the debate on the impact of eliminating the uptick rule.

I agree with Ezra and others that reinstituting the draft is a terrible idea, but I also think Dems would be smart to point out that the administration was told up-front before the invasion that their goals could not be met without a draft, and that if they really believed it was important for us to "succeed" in Iraq, they would have called for a draft. Make 'em explain in public why they have never asked for one, or even called for their supporters to enlist.

The other Bill Thompson (who I've also met) has an article on the BBC site about the inadvisability of electronic voting machines: "But we would be better off keeping an old, paper-based system that we can trust rather than rushing to replace it with flawed technologies whose inevitable failure will further damage trust in the democratic process." And poor old Diebold can't find a buyer.

Chris Whitley, "Living With the Law"

01:58 BST

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Meandering on the Internet

Digby has some observations about another eruption by Chris Matthews and someone from Time regarding the way all those wild-eyed atheist Democrats like Jimmy Carter have been alienating Christians, unlike the party of Sun Myung Moon.

If children don't matter to your political career, do they matter at all? In some cases, you'd think the answer is, "No."

Scott Horton, doing his roundup of This Week in Justice, quotes David Obey: "He's one sneaky, lying S.O.B., to put it bluntly. He's the most authoritarian attorney general in the history of the republic. He's the most dangerous. I never thought I'd long for the days of John Ashcroft." So, David Obey is...shrill! (There's lots more in that post, including questions about how many US Attorney's have really been fired, and the possibility that the courts might not be buying Bush administration claims that everything is a state secret.)

Charles Dodgson on the mystery of all those bad mortgage loans: "This sort of moral hazard and pure arrant stupidity in positions of power would be a marvelous object lesson for libertarians to cite, if only Standard and Poor's were part of the government. But since they were in the private sector, we're supposed to just assume the invisible hand will hold them accountable. Not a problem --- if they were the only ones getting hurt."

So, um, the California Highway Patrol is using a David Horowitz video to teach What Every American Needs to Know About Jihad? Oy.

Internet Weekly has some amusing or sometime even beautiful visual stuff all over its front page.

16:59 BST

I'll be waiting

Greg Sargent: "By now you've probably heard the news that the report on Iraqi progress we've been expecting in September from General Petraeus is actually going to be written by the White House, with "input" from "officials throughout government." [...] In other words, the White House has repeatedly said that this report will represent the Gospel According To Petraeus -- except, of course, that it won't." Not that anyone ever really believed that Petraeus was really going to be giving us anything other than White House-approved propaganda. I really don't know why anyone pretended otherwise. This is the Bush administration, and all they do is catapult the propaganda.

Speaking of which, seeing yet another right-winger suddenly acknowledge that the leadership the Republicans have been operating under - Karl Rove - has been entirely about partisan politics and not at all about doing anything for our country, long after everyone else has had it rubbed in their faces to the point of asphyxia. But, as usual, this is just prelude to claiming that whatever the rest of us do in response will just be an emulation of Rove's ultra-partisanship rather than an attempt to undo some of the damage. (And not enough, either - and I'm thoroughly unnerved by the way The Netroots seem to be taking for granted, again, that voting machines aren't an issue.)

For an assessment of Rove that is unencumbered by a need to smear "the left", Allison Hantschel's Southtown article, "His work complete, Rove heads home to Texas", is useful: "In other words, he's an example of what you can achieve when you read Dante's Inferno as an instruction booklet and not a cautionary tale." (We know Allison better by another name.) Via Carpe Datum.

"When is a terrorist not a terrorist?" I bet you know.

RIAA Fails to Pay Attorneys Fee Award; Debbie Foster Asks Court to Enter Judgment for Attorneys Fees. (via)

The Chiffons, "One Fine Day"

12:43 BST

Down so low

I'm feeling pretty bummed out about the news from this morning that Bush has erected yet another supporting wall in that structure he's been building to become a platform for launching an attack on Iran. Yep, just call them "terrorists" and pretend you have an excuse. Oh, but didn't Congress leave that door open a long time ago? Oh, God.

Meanwhile, there are no limits at all on how much they can spy on us, and they have a great big eye in the sky watching up. A military eye. But that's okay. "Because 'largely uncharted territory' and 'unclear about the legal boundaries' and 'little if any policy, guidance or procedures' are always the way to go when we're considering mere civil liberties."

You're not waiting for the Supreme Court to come in and protect your rights, are you? Because, as Thom Hartmann reminds me, our nation's highest court is full of people who openly revile democracy.

I wish I could find a YouTube link for Tracy Nelson & Mother Earth's "Down So Low", since it reflects my current mood. (Come to think of it, I only have it on a badly damaged piece of vinyl I haven't dared play in years. Must do something about that.) "But it's not losin' you/that's got me down, down so low./I just can't find another man land to take your place/'Cause no one can...."

02:54 BST

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Some stuff

"Time Warner Destroys America and a Political Mag Near You [...] The short and sweet of it is that Time Warner has proposed and postal regulators have accepted a proposal which is actually reducing postage costs for mega-mags like Time and Newsweek while dramatically raising them for small independent publishers. From small mags on the right and left I've been deluged in recent weeks by letters saying the new rates are tipping them into financial crisis."

Don Young's Plot Against the Constitution, from TPMtv.

Chris Hayes in The Nation, popping a bubble: Grassroots movement exposes elite conspiracy and forces politicians to respond: It would be a heartening story but for one small detail. There's no such thing as a proposed NAFTA Superhighway." [Update: To stave off further outbursts of self-righteousness on the part of certain commenters due to my own sloppiness, a sentence I meant to include but forgot the first time around: "And unlike the NAFTA highway, the Trans-Texas Corridor is very, very real."] More from Digby.

Walter Koenig has been running around reminding us that there used to be a country called Burma and it used to be a democracy until a military junta took over rather than let the newly-elected leader take office, instead putting her under house arrest, where she has been for the last 17 years. I missed this article when it originally appeared, but today I heard him talking about it on the radio.

James Carville has an article about Karl Rove in The Financial Times. I actually find that fact more interesting than the article.

22:53 BST

Suddenly the sun came out, and it felt just like a...

There are only two Republican candidates I've actually worried about. One is Benito Giuliani, who strikes many authoritarian chords for the right-wing crowd, but I think he may have managed to take the shine off his own star. But even before Benito, I worried about Mike Huckabee. And he's playing a lot smarter than other Republicans by talking about something that's really and truly wrong in America, and the need to fix it. Digby, noting that Democrats currently enjoy a huge polling advantage over Republicans, says, "But you have to be optimistic, at least, that the American people are eager to hear a new story. The question is whether the Democrats can tell it." Not if they let a Republican grab it first.

Somehow, I think the Democrats Like Being in This Position: "I think the Democratic Leadership actually likes being in this position of do-nothing. I think someone's benefitting from ReThug largesse, and to actually have to respond to the demand of the American people, would actually upset that largesse. What other explanation can there be of a Congress who still caves into a President that has no clothes on and the entire world knows it?" Via a very linky post at Tennessee Guerilla Women.

Oh, look who else is editing Wikipedia entries: "On November 17th, 2005, an anonymous Wikipedia user deleted 15 paragraphs from an article on e-voting machine-vendor Diebold, excising an entire section critical of the company's machines." Yep, the digital trail leads right back to Diebold.

From The Rude Pundit, "White House to Louisiana: You Don't Need No Stinkin' Levees"

"Ball and Chain"

13:12 BST

Stuff I saw

Does Al Qaeda just say "Boo!" and laugh? Or maybe they just watch and laugh. I mean, we've been threatened by cheese!

Via Atrios, I learn from Matt Stoller at Open Left that: "There's a new tool out there that lets you search the destination IP addresses for people editing wikipedia entries. Arthur Bergman found that folks at Fox News's IP address were editing Al Franken's entry." But they're not biased, oh, no.

"WaPo offers nuanced coverage of Rove departure" - without mentioning some of the real highlights of his White House career.

What Dick Armey learned early about Bush, and Just say yes to drugs.

Childrearing & Politics: Red State, Blue State, Purple Butts - Zinya stumbled on a poll on child-rearing, and notices the red-blue divide.

Matthew explains why you should support the ACLU.

I almost missed Susie Bright's recommendation for the best sex education links for minors. (Susie's page may not be work-safe.)

03:36 BST

Tuesday, 14 August 2007


Atrios on how "liberal" hawks sold the war, a useful antidote, as always, to our mass amnesia. (I can't bring myself to call these people "liberal" without scare quotes. I mean, what have they done for me that they get to be called "liberal" anything? People who are too stupid to understand the fragility of democracy and freedom - and how little war does to serve liberty - are like that because they don't even understand what liberalism is.)

Kudlow asks, "What Was the SEC Thinking? Savvy veteran investor Mike Holland keeps asking a question that no one seems to be asking, much less answering: Why in the world did the SEC revoke the "uptick" rule in early July?" The rule was put there by Joe Kennedy to prevent the market from going nuts.

Picture of Rove. Yeah, good riddance (if that's what it is), but there's no reason to refrain from impeaching him, unless you want to see him back in the White House after the next Republican "wins" it.

More terrorism that wasn't - I don't know why there's anyone left who even considers it worth repeating claims that there's more new terrorism to worry about. If there were a real threat, and if our Leaders were actually trying to do something about it, we wouldn't hear about it until they'd made real arrests of people who could credibly be indicted - and they'd actually indict them and put them through the ordinary judicial system. The rest is theater. (Funnily enough, we get false reassurances about the economy to go with our faked-up alarmism over terrorism.)

Jonathan Schwarz has more details from the source of that Ralph Nader article on talk radio payola. (Also, Richard Viguerie's latest convolution: Karl Rove Failed Conservatism By Moving The Republican Party Left.)


Oh, my, Michael Swanwick has a blog. (via)

14:12 BST

Beat your head against a wall

I see Stu Bykofsky has moderated his remarks, but still doesn't get that all that wonderful American unity after 9/11 was pissed away by Bush Republicans and Americans are unlikely to fall for it a second time. Besides, where would the wingers be without their favorite line - "Why haven't we been attacked again, huh, huh, huh?" - if we were unforgettably attacked again by Al Qaeda?

Of course, the wingers would still always have their "The Islamists are coming!" story. "Every now and then, it is worth noting that substantial portions of the right-wing political movement in the United States -- the Pajamas Media/right-wing-blogosphere/Fox News/Michelle Malkin/Rush-Limbaugh-listener strain -- actually believe that Islamists are going to take over the U.S. and impose sharia law on all of us. And then we will have to be Muslims and "our women" will be forced into burkas and there will be no more music or gay bars or churches or blogs. This is an actual fear that they have -- not a theoretical fear but one that is pressing, urgent, at the forefront of their worldview." And yet, it never occurs to them that they have enabled a very similar sort of ideology right in the good old USA, and made common cause with its adherents. Those people are the ones who shoot gynecologists (or at least cheer them on), beat up gays (or try to pass laws against them), and have a remarkably limited and limiting idea of what sort of churches we ought to be allowed to have. (Not too happy about blogs, either.) But a note to Glenn: Our fabulous chickenhawk enablers don't know a lot about the history of WWII and Weimar/Nazi Germany, either. You can thank David Horowitz for that kind of thing.

Looks like Harry Reid made another deal. What are the chances we'll get screwed on this one, too? I mean, Bush couldn't possibly nominate more repulsive, Constitution-hating judges for Harry to force us to swallow, could he? Naaah...

I take this to mean that Murdoch is going to use The Wall Street Journal to launch a price war against The New York Times.

Ralph Nader says General Motors is pretty much doing its own version of payola for certain talk radio people: "What is surprising is that GM purportedly enlisted not only the expected suspects like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Bill O'Reilly but also Bill Press and Ed Schultz, know for their liberal views. Attempts to reach Press, Schultz and Hannity were unsuccessful. Surely, they will be explaining their relationship shortly." This sort of thing would be illegal if it was in music radio.

The FCC is trying to defy the public again and cheating to allow more media consolidation while trying to evade public consultation. It might be good to find some time to lean on your legislators about this, of course.

03:40 BST

Monday, 13 August 2007

Look through any window

At Brilliant at Breakfast, the not-so-secret story on why recruitment is down, and who's no longer interested in signing up.

Wolcott reviews the GOP straw poll performance. Performances. Whatever. He says The Smilies won, The Grumpies lost.

Cop-killer goes free - but it's okay, it was only a funny-colored cop in a different country, and the perp was a US Marine.

Marcy Wheeler takes some guesses as to why Karl Rove is resigning - but her list doesn't include one of my favorites, the Siegelman case. Meanwhile, I don't really expect this resignation to put a stop to his practice of his favorite project. And Will Bunch is right - his work in Washington is already done.

My thanks to grendelkhan in comments* for alerting me to this article about What If Captain America Were Revived Today? It's interesting to get the perspective of the impact of that issue on a kid who, in Reagan's America, could be freaked out by the idea that, "Without its ideals -- its commitment to the freedom of all men, America is a piece of trash!"

19:32 BST

Ain't that America?

Okay, so Karl Rove is leaving Washington - but why announce this now? I mean, first thing everyone sees Monday morning. What else is going on right now that they don't want us to notice? I somehow don't believe Rove's story about it being for "his family", either - I mean, he has a wife, and he's got a kid in college. Is he going to Texas so he can be closer to the border when he makes his escape? Or is he just gearing up for someone else's presidential campaign? Anyway, the whole thing reminded Res Ipsa Loquitur of a previous rendition of this old song. Some people are speculating that some chickens are coming home to roost, but I don't see why now would be any different.

"Boyz Will Be Boyz: An enlisted woman who filed a complaint that she had been raped by three of her associates is now targeted for a court martial for committing indecent acts because, after being verbally assaulted by one of the men's attorney, she declined to testify in the original case."

Krugman, "It's All About Them So the G.O.P. field is dominated by smart men willing to play dumb to further their personal ambitions. We shouldn't be surprised, then, to learn that these men are monstrously self-centered." [Paywall link]

God, talk about your WINO Republicans - Jim Ramstad says he agrees with Harry Reid about benchmarks with teeth, then turns around and says he's going to vote for a bill with no teeth. Typical "waverer".

Those of us who still remember right-wing nut Linda Chavez trying to beat Barbara Mikulski out of her seat as Maryland Senator decrying her "San Francisco lifestyle" will particularly enjoy the WaPo article Josh's summary about Chavez and her family business of PACs that raise money to raise money.

13:11 BST

I fashion my future on films in space

Captain America is Dead: "Where is Captain America's place in the ugly America of George Bush and Dick Cheney? What does Captain America do when he has witnessed a stolen presidential election, 9/11, the swift boating of John Kerry, fraudulent WMDs, Shock and Awe, Abu Grahib, the erosion of habeas corpus, torture, Alberto Gonzales, No Child Left Behind, Enron, "Intelligent Design", the Supreme Court putting out the welcome mat for Jim Crow, and Katrina? In Karl Rove's broken mirror, Captain America would be beating up abortion doctors and appearing on Rush Limbaugh's radio show. [...] And if we choose not to stop our slow descent into the abyss, then Captain America and the ideals he honored is truly dead. Unlike the comic book hero, the America we used to be so proud of won't be resurrected. It won't deserve to."

"To Save America, we need the Black Death."

"Fatigue cripples US army in Iraq: Exhaustion and combat stress are besieging US troops in Iraq as they battle with a new type of warfare. Some even rely on Red Bull to get through the day. As desertions and absences increase, the military is struggling to cope with the crisis " (Thanks to Charles.)

Tom Schaller waits for the great Darwinian mutation.

FISA: So bad even Jonathan Alter gets shrill (and Josh rounds up a few more).

Roger Ebert reviews No End in Sight.

Steven Colbert with The Word: "Clarity".

A Symphony of Lies

The Flesh Failures

10:39 BST


If I understand this correctly, George Walker Bush is trying to take credit for eBay - more proof that, as Bill Scher says, "Republicans didn't understand our economy then. They sure don't understand it now." Oh, yes, we really, really need to reframe the tax debate now.

Roger Ailes suggests a replacement for the Baghdad Diarist at TNR. (Roger's links don't work all that well, so scroll to "Danny Boy" if you don't see it up top.)

Matthew makes a call to arms - because it's an emergency, and the Dems are the only thing we've got, and they're not good enough. So, you know, we have to be.

Sam Seder will be sitting in for Rachel Monday night (6:00-8:00 PM Eastern) and for Mike Malloy on Nova M at 9:00 PM.

00:14 BST

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Now, would I say somethin' that wasn't true?

As Atrios often reminds us, most of the folks on The Hill aren't really all that bright. That includes Democratic legislators who just seem unprepared for what we're facing - and what they are facing from their constituents.

And Atrios is, as usual, absolutely right about "The Good War". All you had to do was ask yourself what would really be necessary to turn Afghanistan into a place that wouldn't just go back to warlords and Taliban, and then ask yourself if Bush was likely to do those things, and you knew. Iraq was just more proof.

So, David Brooks himself admits that even Republicans hate Bush. Nicole Belle: "Look how absolutely gobsmacked Tweety is with this information. For me personally, it just makes me angry. Because what it tells me is that these politicos enabling Bush to dismantle our Constitution don't even have the courage of their own convictions-it's just Party over Country over and over again." But Brooks has exposed even more: "Somehow the Romney campaign seems less like an authentic conservative campaign than an outsider's view of what a conservative campaign should be. It oversimplifies everything, and underexploits the G.O.P.'s vestigial longing for efficient administration." Nitpicker reminds us what "vestigial" means. (It's certainly true, but did Brooks really mean to say it in public?)

Dick Cheney explains why going into Baghdad is a bad idea.

Annie Lennox and the Bra of the Year: "Would I Lie to You?"

17:23 BST

Doing our transmission thing

Mary explains The Case for Single Payer Health Insurance, and why more and more businesses are beginning to support it.

Simbaud is writing again (yay!), and has a helpful solution to Stu Bykofsky's problem that doesn't require "another 9/11". (Also: Our hollow army.)

Roy Edroso: "A while back I said that Dean Barnett's Generation Nine Eleven article showed that pro-war conservatives have shifted their rage almost entirely away from Middle Eastern terrorists and onto Democrats. The President's statement that the Iraq adventure is the "decisive ideological struggle of our time" seemed, in its context last January, to refer to action in the Iraq and thereabouts, but his supporters appear to have reinterpreted it. If you take a stroll through most of their opinion journals, you will find only occasional references to the war itself -- mostly based on favorable surge updates from milbloggers -- with most of the attention going to the treasonous activities of the domestic opposition."

The Talking Dog has a fine rant on the greatest danger facing our country: "The courts used to be about the Constitution (well, that was what the Civics course said, anyway). It seems that an awful lot of judges are also now about the money and power, stupid. [...] If we hang tough, and demand to be treated as a strong and free people (as Jim Henley would say, a pack and not a herd), then I think we can preserve the precious freedoms our Founding Fathers aspired to give us. Or we can continue to wallow in the fear that the President and his bipartisan allies in Congress want us to feel."

At The Next Hurrah, Marcy learns that there were two court rulings that went against BushCo, and also that Senators Rockefeller and Levin were told to go Cheney themselves by the man himself.

Johann Hari saw a lot of musicals at the Fringe attempting to puncture Britain's sociopolitical terrain, and found that they ranged from repulsive to brilliant. (The winner: Jihad - the Musical!)

"Dust Radio"

14:04 BST

Another Saturday Night

Elle Macpherson Intimates Notorious soft cup bra

Bra of the Week

"From The Dept. Of NOT Keeping US Safer: We need a new DHS Threat Indicator - one that denotes the level of threat that Bush's Dept. of Homeland Security itself comprises to Americans. It would range from "Telling Scary Stories As Usual" through "Spying On Everyone" to "FUBAR"."

Fred Clark takes us on another excursion into the strange world of Left Behind, this time noting something interesting about the Anti-Christ: "This idea of giving Nicolae supernatural powers is LaHaye and Jenkins' response to the biblical passages that warn of false leaders who will "deceive many." The authors seem to think that such deception requires magical powers of mind control. That demonstrates not just a failure of imagination, but an ignorance of 20th-century history. The choice to give Nicolae these magical powers might have worked here had the authors used these elements of fantasy as a metaphor to explore the almost magical-seeming methods that real-world demagogues have used (and are using) to seize power. That might have been interesting, but instead of that we have the strange, unhistorical notion that the only way a bad person could rise to power is through something like mass-hypnosis."

At Firedoglake, "Patriotism Worth Its Name" - Lewis Zoch on the Padilla case.

Dan Froomkin and Scott Horton remember the world's greatest blogger, I.F. Stone. (Thanks, as always, to D.)

Bob Geiger's Saturday Cartoon Round-up. And Fishing with Diane, and Executive power.

"Balance" - some neat photos - and "Make my people sing", via Biomes Blog.

Sam Cooke

01:44 BST

Saturday, 11 August 2007

What else have they got to do?

Thomas Nephew reports that our Congressman offers this excuse:

While I understand the sentiments of those calling for impeachment, I am concerned that impeachment proceedings would have the effect of consuming the attention of the whole Congress, and leave little room for us to pass positive reforms and fully address the business of the American people. [...] Should the House engage in impeachment hearings, it would inevitably divert time, resources, and attention from other efforts to pass meaningful legislation to address the many needs of the country.
"Meaningful legislation" that the Republicans wouldn't filibuster and George Walker Bush wouldn't veto. There's only one kind of legislation that this usually happens with, and it's the kind that shouldn't be passed at all.

If Congress is going to keep allowing crap like the FISA amendment and yet more funding for continued occupation without restriction to hit the floor and reach Bush's desk, then they really don't have any more important legislative business to attend to that impeachment would be taking time and attention away from.

20:57 BST

On the landscape

I keep wondering: Why have Muslims hated our freedoms since before we had them?

Right-wing nuts agree: America needs more terrorist attacks!

What's the U.S. Nuclear Policy? Running with nuclear scissors.

America, beacon of freedom! So much so that they are copying our freedoms in Libya and Zimbabwe. Bush and Cheney must be very proud.

BooMan looks at who voted for the FISA cave-in - and finds that nearly all of them are either in the Blue Dog Coalition or the New Democratic Coalition - or both.

Taylor Marsh has a nice clip of herself, Digby, Christy Hardin Smith, Jonathan Singer, and James Rucker discussing FISA at Yearly Kos. (You can watch the whole Hot Topics panel here.)

Bill Gibson feature at Salon. Boy, it's been a long time since I've seen him in the flesh.

Stuff I posted at Eschaton but forgot to post here: Sleazy Republican voter "confirmation" tricks; Rudy the fraud; A letter to Al Gore.

I have something really weird happening between Salon and my computer where there are a lot of pages I can't read all of for some reason. I don't mean I have to sit through an ad - I don't - I mean it shows me the top couple of paragraphs and doesn't offer me a way to see the rest of it. At all.

18:03 BST

Am I blue

Good on Clinton for characterizing this as "a string of misrepresentations": "During a forum at the National Association of Black Journalists convention Thursday, Clinton was asked why as a candidate for president she was "still insisting" on bringing "socialized medicine" to the United States, when people were "pulling away" from similar systems in Canada and Great Britain. Worse, the questioner argued, socialized medicine hurt rather than helped poor people." Via a linky post from Steve Soto in which he also notes that, "A new Pew poll finds that as Fox has become the main source of news for Republicans, it has turned the GOP against local newspapers, network news, and the national newspapers. At the same time, the favorability ratings for all cable news have declined since Pew began asking survey respondents their views about Fox." Steve also notes the curious fact that Bush has responded to the failure of his immigration bill by enforcing the illegal hiring laws against employers. I'm stunned. This may be the first thing he's ever done that I'm actually in favor of. I must be hallucinating this.

Feeling a draft? Bush's new "war czar" says, "I think it makes sense to certainly consider it." (Also, a link-rich post notes that Republicans seem to be making a habit of spilling state secrets, and lawyers for POWs have moved quickly to ask a judge to overturn the new FISA amendments on the grounds that "Neither Congress nor the president has the power to repeal the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirements."

Lance Mannion on The most successful President ever: "Think about it. What has the man wanted that he hasn't gotten? What has he wanted to do that he's been prevented from doing?"

Dr. Black says it again: If there is another terrorist attack, why would anyone in their right mind blame the Democrats? By now at least 70% of the country knows this kind of talk is pure bollocks - so why was it enough to scare the damned Blue Dogs?

Your tax dollars at work - employing the unemployed, in Iraq: "The Latin Americans typically served in the military back home -- many fought leftist guerrillas in places like El Salvador and Colombia -- and were taught by U.S. instructors, making it easier for them to use U.S. weapons and work under American security procedures."

Ezra Klein explains why Medicare Part D is a bad plan - and why people don't notice.

Ethel Waters

15:25 BST

Just around midnight

BooMan has a few words for professional journalists who think they can blame bloggers for journalism's declining credibility, and also describes what happened to FISA.

At Daily Kos, davefromqueens did a little research on Hannity's "Freedom" concert scam, which pretends to be a charity to raise money for the families of dead American soldiers but appears to be just way to funnel more money into the pockets of Hannity, Ollie North, and their pals. (via)

More evidence that policing the web for "obscenity" is a waste of time and money.

Matt's been trying to figure out whether we should just blame the DLC - or all of them. He did a bit of research to find out just who they are and whether they made up the bulk of those Dems who voted for the new FISA holes. I think it's difficult to know who these people are going to be once they get into Congress, especially when we're trying to learn about a whole lot of new candidates at once. National support is nice, but we really do need to support good local progressive bloggers who can do the necessary nosing around on who those people running in their districts really are. Can't leave it to MyDD and Daily Kos to tell us everything. (And I was never all that happy with Webb - the trouble with the whole "Fighting Dems" thing is that all we really know about them is that they were in uniform. Which tells you very little.)

Meanwhile, in Ohio: free speech on trial.

Somebody's been having fun....

00:22 BST

Friday, 10 August 2007

Afternoon links

"Black, like me" - Tucker Carlson and other white people discuss how black Obama is.

You know, I really never wanted to know about Chris Matthews' psychosexual quagmire, to be honest. Someone should tell him he's really giving us too much information on that score.

Thanks to Thom for alerting me to the fact that Hendrik Hertzberg has a blog! He's been blogging about YearlyKos, and he recalls that the hotel he stayed in is the one once known as the Conrad Hilton, and he remembers.... (BTW, I'm hearing great things about No End in Sight. I really ought to watch it, they sent me a disk and I still haven't gotten around to it, yet.)

Pick the winner of the Dump Dick Contest.

Rudy Giuliani, complete fraud.

Hope springs etrnal.

Cookie. This looks gorgeous, doesn't it? (Except for the butter thing, I mean.)

17:17 BST

What the papers say

Guardian: "Tension between British and American commanders in southern Afghanistan erupted into the open yesterday as a senior UK military officer said he had asked the US to withdraw its special forces from a volatile area that was crucial in the battle against the Taliban. British and Nato defence officials have consistently expressed concern about US tactics, notably air strikes, which kill civilians, sabotaging the battle for "hearts and minds" and infuriating Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president."

Eugene Robinson: "If you listened to Bush at his news conference yesterday, you heard a man who's not about to let something as petty as objective reality change his mind -- and who's not going to pay attention to what the Iraqi government or even his own government might say or do. [...] If Bush hasn't changed his mind by now, he ain't gonna."

NYT, "U.S. Promotes Free Elections, Only to See Allies Lose: There has been talk of the Christian vote and the Armenian vote, of history and betrayal, as each side sought to claim victory. There is one explanation, however, that has become common wisdom in the region: Mr. Gemayel's doom seems to have been sealed by his support from the Bush administration and the implied agendas behind its backing. 'It's the kiss of death,' said Turki al-Rasheed, a Saudi reformer who watched last Sunday's elections closely. 'The minute you are counted on or backed by the Americans, kiss it goodbye, you will never win.'" Via Cab Drollery.

Krugman on "Very Scary Things: "What's been happening in financial markets over the past few days is something that truly scares monetary economists: liquidity has dried up. That is, markets in stuff that is normally traded all the time - in particular, financial instruments backed by home mortgages - have shut down because there are no buyers." [Paywall link] And, via Atrios, there's more to the problem.

13:01 BST

A further exploration of stuff

I always find it complete gibberish to hear someone who claims to be a libertarian "explain" to me why they believe in an exception to personal liberty when it comes to abortion (because it's "murder"), and it's equally gibberish to me when someone tells me that they think the question of abortion rights should be returned to the states. The question of murder should be returned to the states? The question of individual liberty should be returned to the states? Can that possibly make any sense? No, of course it doesn't. But neither does it make sense to plead for the personhood of fetuses - and even blastocysts - to such an extent that these tiny organisms have greater personhood than the women in whose bodies they reside. When libertarians make such arguments, it seems clear to me that their arguments for individual liberty are no more than rationalizations for taking personal liberty away from certain classes of people on the grounds that these liberties interfere with the freedom of others to oppress them. Arthur Silber explains the problem.

Washington, D.C.: Worst City On Earth? "Washington is full of individuals who are bored by the idea of raising children, or curing diseases, or building bridges that don't collapse. But dealing out death in great quantities-that they find very, very interesting indeed."

MediaBloodHound found two dismaying bits of journalism in the NYT, on working-class millionaires and hackable voting machines.

Invisible art

At Last the 1948 Show - The Four Yorkshiremen Sketch (Thanks to Dominic.)

03:13 BST


Former Republican former U.S. Rep. Pete McCloskey:

John Ehrlichman, the man most directly responsible for Nixon's downfall, was no wartime slacker. He had flown 50 missions as a lead bombardier over Europe in a unit that suffered extremely high losses both in planes and aviators. He had made an enviable record as a lawyer, was a fine father and husband and had entered public service for reasons of patriotism, not power or financial gain. We were close friends in law school and, save for his last two years in the White House, remained so until his death.

I visited him at the federal penitentiary in Safford, Ariz., one Thanksgiving Day and asked what had caused him, an honorable lawyer, to lie for his president. He looked for a long time across the desert at the distant mountains where Cochise and Geronimo once ranged, and finally quietly replied: "It took us three-and-a-half years to be corrupted by the power. ..."

(Thanks to windje in comments for alerting me to this quote.)

00:16 BST

Thursday, 09 August 2007

Driven to drink

Two via The Blog Report:

  • Dave Neiwert on our Soldiers of the apocalypse: "Think about this: By making this proselytization part of official DOD "outreach," we begin the process of making the Christian conversion of American soldiers official military policy. And then we are sending these converts into a Muslim war zone with visions of crusades dancing in their heads. Can things possibly get any more insane? Well, yes they can. Read on" - about how they will then be bringing their "Left behind" training home.
  • Alternate Brain on Cowardice in action: "From a good article about Bush's base, I lift this quote from a bigot Bush supporter: "The Democrats keep complaining and whining about intrusion or privacy and all that. If we didn't have that, then the terrorists would be blowing us up. The stuff he's done is what's protected us. Every big city in this country is pretty much liberal, but guess where the terrorists are going to hit first? They're going to hit the big cities. That's what I think is so funny about the Democrats." Listen to me. This is a prime example of cowardice in action."

This should be interesting: "I might get up early for this one. Watching Fox News Democrat Harold Ford writhe and moan at the hands of Kos is what I view as a wonderful way to start the day. Kos will 'debate Harold Ford on Meet the Press [this Sunday] for 15 minutes on the future of the Democratic Party. For now, it is set for the top of the hour.'"

Ever hear that phrase about winning the battle but losing the war? Apparently, a lot of people haven't. Look, we always win battles. That doesn't bring us one step closer to winning a war. (It doesn't help, of course, that we still can't figure out who we're at war with, but that's yet another stupid story.)

Yeah, just what we need, another tax cut for corporations. That'll solve our problems!

"Simply a mistake." No. Just happening to drop a few lines that happen to be critical of George Walker Bush is not a "mistake", it's deliberate. No one believes you, just quit lying. One more reason not to let any telco touch your content, ever. More at Down With Tyranny!. (via)

People keep asking me what would be a good country to move to in order to escape from American right-wing insanity. There is no such country - you will constantly have to worry about America wherever you are. It's inescapable.

The Shroud of Colin

17:45 BST

Who do you trust?

Scott Lemieux thinks he's found a silver lining in the fact that Gonzales is the AG:

As awful as his ongoing presence in office is in every other respect, Gonzales is serving a salutary purpose: a reminder that arbitrary executive power cannot be limited to wise, virtuous, and self-abnegating leaders but will sometimes be in the hands of people like Alberto Gonzales and George Bush. If you don't want to give Gonzales de facto unlimited powers to engage in warrantless surveillance of any communication allegedly involving one individual outside the United States, then you shouldn't give it to anybody.
I wish I could agree, but it seems to me that, on both sides, there are an awful lot of people who think that that power is just peachy in their own hands. I'm not in that camp because I can't be absolutely certain that I could never be tempted to cheat - and I don't want to find out - and I sure don't trust anyone else more than I trust me.

But the other side of the problem is that a lot of the right-wing leadership is so convinced that (a) Democrats are too goody-two-shoes (or too wimpy) to be as bad as they are, and (b) Republicans would never let them get away with it if they did, that they just aren't worried about it - they want the power, and they're pretty sure they can keep it out of the hands of anyone who might use it for purposes they don't approve of. They're not scared of Hillary "former Goldwater Girl" Clinton - after all, she may not have made an appearance at the DLC conference, but she's still on the leadership team. Bill Clinton was nicer to them than Dwight Eisenhower ever was. What's not to like?

14:54 BST

Assorted stuff

The Black Commentator has been looking at John Conyers and impeachment - Part 1, "John Conyers: What Of Impeachment? and Part 2, "Rep. John Conyers - Friend or Foe?, follows it up with responses.

More media news than I can link to at MTA (including news that music publishers are joining a suit against YouTube and Keith Olbermann is on a roll).

Jay Carney doesn't understand that saying reporters have "a responsibility not to be labeled left or right" is not the same as saying reporters have a responsibility to the truth. The truth will get you labelled, regardless, but that doesn't make it any less true. Telling the truth about Iraq will get you labelled "liberal" or "left".

Wait a minute, are Democrats trying to pretend it's all Michael McConnell's fault that they were snookered into supporting the FISA bill? I'm sorry, but everyone knows that Bush is in the White House, Cheney is in his pants, and Alberto Gonzales is running the DoJ. There's no excuse for believing a single word they say. No one is fooled by this nonsense. (They could have at least waited to see what would happen with Leahy's subpoenas.)

Meanwhile, the Scott Thomas Beauchamp story has now become downright spooky. If I were in uniform today, I wouldn't attach my name to anything talking about what's going on in theater.

More from LarryE on the weakness of the anti-war/pro-democracy movement. (I would have linked to BTD's post earlier if he'd posted the right link so I'd have seen it. I think there's a good point there, too.)

Rovemort and the Sorcerer's Stonewall (Thanks to Stu for the tip.)

13:25 BST

A few things

Elizabeth Edwards got Drudge Reported, so it's best to read her quote in context. I know she's catching flak about it, but let's not forget that many people have been talking about having two credible candidacies from people who are not white men as a special moment in history. People want it, not just because they like Hillary or Obama, but because they feel it's time. So, yes, in this particular race, it kicks the white boys out of the spotlight in a way that it wouldn't if we were used to having blacks and women treated as credible candidates in presidential contests. It doesn't sound to me like Elizabeth is saying this is an unfair advantage for them, or even that it is the sole reason for their support - just that it means they have a certain exotic quality that grabs interest, and there's no white guy in the race who has a similarly compelling specialness that can compete with that; it's an extra challenge for them. (There is, of course, one white guy who does, but I'm beginning to suspect that he just doesn't want to be in the race.) (via)

MahaBarb: "You have to be old enough to remember the Second Red Scare to appreciate this. Or maybe not. Lt. Gen. Ion Pacepa, a self-described "old KGB hand," says liberals are destroying America. [...] Now, let's see if we've got this straight. According to Pacepa, Americans must give their leaders unquestioned allegiance, because to do otherwise weakens the nation. Questioning Dear Leader is an act of subversion. This is unlike communists, who deified their own ruler. Oh, wait..."

"Journalism by Ordeal" - The Urbanite, a free magazine in Baltimore, has stories on local people, and this one (third story on the page) is about Dave Ettlin. The site also links to this video of Dave talking about one of his first stories on The Baltimore Sun 40 years ago, about a house fire. It made me cry.

Jay Rosen, "Why Do We Suck? and Other Questions Political Journalists Asked Themselves at YearlyKos." (via)

Hey, look who's posting....

02:12 BST

Wednesday, 08 August 2007

Stuff I saw

Sara at Orcinus on Leering Old Men: "The howling conservative and MSM men we're seeing on the air these [days] seem to be stuck in some early sexual stage -- a stage where manliness and sexuality are scary adult mysteries, the obsessive stuff of wild curiosity, rampant misunderstandings, crude jokes, dress-up play-acting, and bizarre fetishes. For all their media power, these guys have sexually scarcely moved beyond playing doctor-- and, at this late stage, probably never will. Scratch any leering old man, and you'll expose a scared kid who, fifty years on, still hasn't come to terms with his own uncontrollable wet dreams, let alone the challenge of engaging productively with his own adult sexuality and that of the real-life adult women he shares the world with." (Thanks, D.)

Will Bunch notes that the owner of the collapsed mine thinks it's unAmerican to care about workers' safety and rights, because, "These people should -- are misleading the American worker then they talk about jobs. These are the people advocating draconian global warming conditions that are going to drive American jobs to foreign countries and raise electric rates for everybody on fixed incomes." But he's already been giving those jobs to Mexicans.

Huh. Three analysts went to Iraq to get the lay of the land, but only two of them - Kenneth Pollack and Michael O'Hanlan - were courted by the media to talk about how well things are going in Iraq. Maybe that's because Anthony Cordesman didn't agree with them.

Digby on The Banality Of Dick Cheney's Evil: "Read this amazing piece by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker. But gird yourself. It's one of the worst things you'll ever read about your government, and that's saying something." Digby also links to this piece at Balkanization pointing out there is no justification for keeping details of these torture programs secret. (Also: your right-wing "liberal" media strikes again.)

Some clips from the presidential debates before the AFL-CIO, moderated by Keith Olbermann: Dennis Kucinich on China; A disabled worker asks John Edwards about disappearing pensions and healthcare; Obama, Dodd, and Clinton on wrong war and more war.

Speechless: The Erosion of Free Expression in the American Workplace by Bruce Barry: "He critiques a legal system that gives employers wide latitude to suppress worker expression, and argues that freedom of speech in the workplace is excessively and needlessly limited."

What would you have done?

20:33 BST

Written words

Down in comments, who knew praises Scott Horton for good and diligent work, reminding me that Horton's blog deserves a spot on my blogroll. In fact, Horton is a truly stellar addition to the blogosphere, and has consistently been providing some rich exposure of the hideous corruption that infects our country. Often, he spends real energy discussing vital issues that are of such profound importance that I keep being amazed that they continue to be ignored elsewhere - such as in this recent post about the world's waning support for the US dollar, and this one about the way Bush has made our military more of a mercenary force than an army of citizen soldiers, and this one telling us one of the most illegal aspects of Bush's ex-FISA spy program - spying on American lawyers talking to their clients. He also refers us to his article in The American Lawyer discussing the fact that Ken Starr is one of the world's biggest illegal leakers, and that he is the proud source of much of what should have been confidential material that was openly given to Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta, Jr. for their book Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton. There's also his coverage of the strange prosecution of Don Siegelman, a stunning case in which, as far as anyone can tell, the GOP's infestation of our legal system resulted in a revenge persecution of a Democrat for having the temerity to beat a Republican in a southern state has ended up with a man being jailed on charges he was never convicted of.

Paul Krugman* on The Substance Thing: "In fact, I suspect that the real reason most of the Republicans are ducking a YouTube debate is that they're afraid they would be asked questions about policy, rather than being invited to compare themselves to Ronald Reagan." (And congrats to Ezra on the name-check.)

"1996 Redux on Wiretaps: Is Anybody Listening?" - Jeralyn Merritt has been watching the Democratic leadership allow our privacy to be whittled away for years, and can still remember when it was Bill Clinton fear-mongering over terrorism to get Democrats to fall in line against the Constitution. (Jeralyn also notes that the NYT is planning to kill the op-ed paywall. Yay!)

Oh, and the Freakonomics blog has moved over to The New York Times website.

Good name for it: "Witness Exposure Program". One thing we know is that with this administration, no good deed goes unpunished.

Spelling note: Not "Avadon". Not "Avendon". (And why do I still keep getting letters addressed, "Dear Carol"?)

17:28 BST

The DLC - still not on your side

Let's start with who the authors are of "Our Chance to Capture the Center" in yesterday's Washington Post. Martin O'Malley won in Maryland because the state wanted to get rid of Republican rule - that is, he won because there was a "D" after his name. Harold Ford lost in Tennessee, at least partly because he was too right-wing to get progressive support. Neither of these men is in any position to lecture progressives about how to win elections. And now they are accusing "some liberals" of wanting to "ignore the vital center".

But they say things like this:

A majority comes hard for Democrats. In the past 150 years, only three Democrats, one of whom was Franklin Roosevelt, have won the White House with a majority of the popular vote. [...]Like FDR, we can build a lasting majority only by earning it -- with ideas that demonstrate to the American people that if they entrust us with national leadership, we can deal effectively with the challenges our country faces and the challenges they face in their everyday lives.
This is pretty rich coming from the DLC, who have been at the forefront of trying to undermine Roosevelt's accomplishments and turn the clock back even farther. Ford supported the bankruptcy bill, for godssakes. Maybe if the Democratic Party supported more Roosevelt-like candidates, we could win more often. But the DLC has done its best to prevent any more Roosevelts from rising to the top.

Over the past six years, we've seen what happens when an administration writes off the political center and manipulates every decision for partisan gain. Bush's failure to solve -- or even address -- America's great challenges has left our country dispirited, disillusioned and divided.
Yes, indeed, but that's not what the progressive left has been advocating, is it? We aren't saying we should end the occupation "for partisan gain", we're saying we should end the occupation because it's the only sane and moral thing to do - and because it's the democratic thing to do when it's what the vast majority of Americans want.
Contrast the collapse of a conservative president with the success of the last centrist president. Bill Clinton ran on an agenda of sensible ideas that brought America a decade of peace and prosperity. He was the only Democrat to be elected and reelected president in the past seven decades, and he left office more popular than almost any other president in recent memory.
Bill Clinton ran on a promise to solve the healthcare crisis - and the DLC helped prevent him from doing it. He also made it clear that it was his intention to protect reproductive choice and to get rid of the restrictions on gays in the military - both positions the DLC has tended to oppose. He owes a significant portion of his continued support to the fact that he immediately overturned the abortion gag rule. He also owes a lot of his popularity to his own personality, which was a great crowd-pleaser. The fact that his vice president had worked tirelessly to lay the foundations for a new growth area - the Internet (both with legislation in Congress and by continuous promotion of "the information superhighway" while he was VP) - was a tremendous boost to the economy. And the Republicans' outrageous attacks on Clinton created a lot of sympathy for him among people who ordinarily wouldn't have liked him so much; Americans were mightily disgusted with the Republicans (and DLCrats) who encouraged public discussion of a President's sex life and turned it into, literally, a federal case. Very little of this has anything to do with his support of DLC policies, most of which were not supported by the public and have even less support now that we've had a chance to see how they worked.
Nearly seven years after Bush succeeded Clinton in the White House, America is facing challenges as great as we've ever seen -- a war against Islamist radicals who would destroy our way of life; global economic competition that demands we raise our game; and a quest for energy independence and efficiency that Al Gore has shown us could make or break our planet. To conquer such enduring problems, Democrats will need a broad, enduring majority -- and a centrist agenda that sustains it by making steady progress.
Oh, now they like Gore, who they abandoned after he won the Democratic nomination and continuously attacked for having moved "too far left". The DLC stabbed Gore in the back and was nowhere to be found when he needed them. They've also never shown any interest in the environment before and are coming very late to the bandwagon.
Most Americans don't care much about partisan politics; they just want practical answers to the problems they face every day.
Nice rhetoric, but lets not pretend that ending the occupation, protecting Americans from predatory lenders and insane trade policies, and protecting the Constitution from being shredded, is about partisanship. The progressive left doesn't actually care about the leadership games that people are playing in Congress; we only support Democrats to the extent that they don't support right-wing policies.

And the DLC have been handmaidens to the push to privatize Social Security and switch our public schools to a voucher system - both ideas that undermine popular programs that help Americans with "practical answers". They also like to temporize about reproductive rights - not something that helps Americans in any way.

This is a classic DLC document - attacking progressives while offering nothing but a partisan lecture on how to elect Democrats, all the while pretending that it's about "non-partisanship".

It makes no sense: They insist that doing what they want to do will elect more Democrats, though they castigate "the left" for wanting to promote popular policies. To support popular policies is automatically judged as "partisan" because it is likely to attract voters; it is treated, therefore, as pure political calculus rather than honest support for those policies. Thus, it is "partisan". It cannot possibly be that we are part of the majority that supports those policies - policies that have from 70% to 90% of American support.

And yet, all of their articles and speeches are about how Democrats can win elections by opposing those popular policies.

It's exactly why some Americans still bother to vote for Republicans at all.

More from Big Tent Democrat.

13:57 BST

A few late links

It occurs to me that Bush couldn't possibly want these new ex-FISA spying powers to spy on foreign terrorists, because they've already fired their interpreters for being gay. They want to spy on people who they are reasonably sure will be speaking English. Not that we didn't already know that. No, this thing is about spying on Americans in America. There's nothing in the bill that even requires that the people they spy on have anything to do with terrorism. They're not closing up "loopholes" created by technology; there are no such "loopholes".

Sam Boyd presents his nominee for the "single worst piece of political coverage I've ever read." I dunno, Sam - it's pretty bad, but there's a lot of competition out there.

Via Atrios, I see that David Rees (yeah, this one) has written his own analysis of Ignatieff's mea culpa on the war, and it's fun to read.

Amy Goodman had Glenn Greenwald and Marjorie Cohn on Democracy NOW! to talk about the FISA vote - you can read the transcript or stream it.

Salt in the wound of New Orleans.

Digby discusses your freedoms - to work on the plantation for bad managers and other miscreants who are being rewarded for wrecking companies and the country.

This is beautiful.

Squid pen (via)

01:55 BST

Tuesday, 07 August 2007

All the news in bits

An interesting post on Prisons from cactus at Angry Bear directs us to "Why Are So Many Americans in Prison?" by Glenn C. Loury in the Boston Review, about how many people we incarcerate (we're a world leader!) and how it harms neighborhoods.

FAIR: "New findings that "blacks on death row convicted of killing whites are more likely to be executed than whites who kill minorities"-and that 'blacks who kill other minorities are less likely to be executed than blacks who kill whites.' Shouldn't a story like this-an old story reconfirmed by a new study-spark a spate of reports questioning Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts claims about "colorblind" justice? Conant's report stands instead in stark contrast to major media's uncritical conveyance of Roberts' language, which is 'loaded with historic, legal and social baggage.'"

FAQ: How far does the new wiretap law go? - Declan McCullagh and Anne Broache at CNET.

I see Mark Green has axed the Air Americans show after only a brief run, but isn't grabbing the opportunity to put AAR's biggest draw, Sam Seder, back into the daily line-up. I'm also interested to see that Sam's week-day replacement, Lionel, has lowered listening figures in the slot. And cheered to learn from the comment thread that Rush Limbaugh lost a lot of audience share when Howard Stern left WXRK for Sirius.

And speaking of Sam Seder, Jimbo Hoyer interviewed Sam at Yearly Kos, and they talk about blogs, AAR, and other things.

Phoenix Woman found a great bumper-sticker.

I'm in ur White House Ruinin Ur Country.

21:17 BST

"When I hear that music, it makes me proud to be a dwarf," Pt. 368

Thanks to D. for a link to Scott Horton's depressing "The Boot is Descending":

This weekend something of tremendous consequence happened. The attitude of the Bush Administration will likely be mirrored by that of the Democratic leadership: this is nothing, tend to your own work, just move along. The media will dish up some more Paris Hilton prolefeed (let's call it by its proper, Orwellian name). But what happened was very important-another massive sledgehammer blow was taken to the foundations of our democratic institutions. And it was a thoroughly bi-partisan effort.

Here's what occurred. The Bush Administration sought an amendment of FISA to overcome roadblocks that the FISA court threw in its way. It put its case to Congress in secret and sent its national intelligence czar to negotiate a deal. When he concluded an agreement, Bush rejected it. The White House replied with threats, essentially stating that as soon as another terrorist attack occurs, we will pin the blame on Democrats in Congress because of their failure to amend FISA to give us what we want.

That's good politics. As usual, the White House was not really interested in compromise. In fact, their conduct demonstrated that they would have much preferred not getting their way; they were in search of a political issue. News of such a ploy might even be enough, with a full-court press from the heretofore pliant media, to reverse our current political doldrums and make people take notice.

But Congress looked Bush's insatiable quest for power squarely in the eye, unlocked the chicken coop, and said to the fox "here-take anything you want." The changes that were made were subtle, but arguably they gave the Bush Administration even more than it asked for. And from this point forward, any conversation any American has with a foreigner or a person overseas may be snooped upon, no warrants necessary.

Things can always get worse, but who knew we'd get a government that was bent on proving it? This administration is embarked on the most profound act of vandalism I have seen in my lifetime - and the Democrats helped.

In other news: I used to know some people like Condi Rice, and I didn't like them, either.

12:54 BST

State of play

I can't just link to one of these posts at The Heretik.

MadKane: "Bush Growls; Dems Kowtow."

Arthur Silber says the Democrats have pretty much incinerated any hopes of doing any of the right things.

Glenn Greenwald has now posted the complete interview with Chris Dodd.

One county in Texas is trying to run a pilot needle-exchange program, but a local DA is trying to throw a spanner in the works.

"Pew: Consumers Sick of Celeb Scandals: According to a study released Thursday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 87 percent of those surveyed said celebrity scandals receive too much coverage. Only 2 percent responded there wasn't enough coverage. The public put most of the blame for the coverage squarely on the new media, with 54 percent responding that news organizations are at fault; nearly one third (32 percent) blamed the public for paying so much attention to celebrity coverage; 12 percent said the blame should be equally shared between the public and the media."

PSoTD says it's time to start talking about Lieberman's impending betrayal when he endorses a Republican presidential candidate.

Brownback goes after Multiple-choice Mitt, and Jane Hamsher discusses Mitt on CNN. And Ava of Peace Takes Courage has a new video, "The History of Nixon and the Future of Cheney".

Dateline Mole outed at DefCon - This is actually kinda funny. (Video here.)

03:54 BST

Monday, 06 August 2007

The bleedin' obvious

I was struck dumb this morning by the astonishing news from Glenn Greenwald that even the neocon Washington Post figured out that the Democrats were stupid, irresponsible, and weak to cave in to Bush over FISA:

THE DEMOCRATIC-led Congress, more concerned with protecting its political backside than with safeguarding the privacy of American citizens, left town early yesterday after caving in to administration demands that it allow warrantless surveillance of the phone calls and e-mails of American citizens, with scant judicial supervision and no reporting to Congress about how many communications are being intercepted. To call this legislation ill-considered is to give it too much credit: It was scarcely considered at all. Instead, it was strong-armed through both chambers by an administration that seized the opportunity to write its warrantless wiretapping program into law -- or, more precisely, to write it out from under any real legal restrictions.
It's worse than Hiatt and Glenn say, though. I've heard not one single person who actually understands the technology say that this "modernization" was needed. I hear legislators from time to time explaining when pressed that they had it explained to them by the administration but they don't know enough about the technology to know what it meant, and that's it. That's how it works: People who don't really know about this stuff get snowed with a load of jargon and nod thoughtfully without understanding a single word they hear. "It's all too complicated for me; I'll just trust the people who seem to know what they're talking about."

Look, these people are professional politicians, they do not sit around figuring out what their computers are doing, or participating in online discussions of what data mining actually is, or reading Schneier on Security. They haven't got a clue.

Atrios: "Haven't said much because I was traveling and sometimes things are just too depressing. But it was wrong for reasons that apparently even Fred Hiatt can understand. These people just don't deserve our support, so we'll focus on supporting the ones who do."

Here's a Democrat you can support. You won't hear any Republicans talking like that, let alone see them voting to preserve our freedoms.

19:40 BST

Excuses, excuses

I've been at Blah3:

Even in defeat, they blame the dirty effing hippies

Michael Ignatieff, one of the liberal "hawks" in favor of the Iraq invasion, posts a mea culpa in today's NY Times Magazine. I'd give him more kudos for doing so, except for the fact his piece is so short on specifics.

And the reason he didn't listen to the people who opposed the invasion? Because we did so for "the wrong reasons". That's right:
They opposed the invasion because they believed the president was only after the oil or because they believed America is always and in every situation wrong.
I know a lot of people who figured oil was part of the calculus for at least part of the administration (because they said so, in their 1998 letter to Bill Clinton), but I don't think many people thought it was the only reason, nor did those who did assume oil was the main concern think it was purely a matter of wanting the money from that oil wealth. Energy is, after all, a strategic matter, and America's standard of living is very much dependent on petroleum. Any leader would be foolish not to care about losing access to major sources of it.

Nevertheless, most of the people I heard objecting to the invasion did not object merely because they thought oil was its object; they objected because it was a stupid idea, it would kill lots of people, it would alienate world opinion, it would be bloody expensive, and it wouldn't work.

It was obviously false from the beginning, of course, to claim that Saddam posed any imminent threat - if he had nuclear capability, we would have known it because we would have known he'd successfully tested a nuclear device and we would have known he had delivery systems. And we knew he hadn't, and he didn't. It was also sheer fantasy to think it would be an inexpensive war that would "pay for itself". (Note that it was supposed to "pay for itself" with Iraq's oil - that is, we - or "we" - would be paying for the war out of Iraq's pocket. This obviously takes for granted that we would indeed be controlling Iraq's oil and have a right to do so.)

It was also quickly obvious that the administration was lying about its reasons for wanting to invade - especially once the weapons inspectors were already in Iraq (the alleged purpose of the force resolution) and were not finding any WMD, and Bush still wanted to invade. Anyone who missed the significance of this wasn't merely resisting the opinions of crazy people, they were being willfully stupid.

Ignatieff's excuse for having been wrong about everything is that he was guilty of wishful thinking, while those of us who were right were just carried away by some sort of visceral - that is, irrational - distrust of Bush. But there was never anything irrational about distrusting a man who presumed that he had a right to be declared the winner of an election without first counting the ballots.

18:12 BST

Readers' lettuce... from my comment threads


It is telling that the morning after the Dems caved in, the FBI stormed the home of a former Justice Department official (Thomas Tamm) and took all the computers in the house including his children's laptops. Why? Because they suspect this man of actually fulfilling the requirements of his oath of office "to support and defend the Constitution" by revealing Bush's illegal wiretapping scheme to the New York Times.

Can anybody say "jack-booted thugs"?

Furious left us a link to that story.


I tell you: Bush told all of us that we were attacked because "they hate our freedom" - we've been appeasing al Qaeda by allowing georgejr to remove those "freedoms" systematically, ever since . Now the Democrats (at least 16 of them) see fit to continue that appeasement - Safe from whom? Georgejr scares me more than bin Laden ever could. Now the Democrats don't even stand up for the Constitution...
Randolph Fritz:
I can only stress that the Democrats are a US national party with a liberal wing, not a liberal party. The Republicans, unfortunately, no longer have a liberal wing. This makes the Democrats a better choice than the Republicans (usually), but it doesn't, alas, make them my party.

Work for electoral reform!

And eRobin, responding to the post immediately below:
Don't forget to include in this the transfer of our vote to corporate control. That's where all of this necessarily began. We lost this battle in 2000 when we failed to recognize the real threat and didn't mobilize against the obvious crime of keeping Al Gore out of the White House. It's been easy pickings for the bad guys every day since then.

15:03 BST

Welcome to Amerika

I just saw these at Alternate Brain:

All you need to know ... About the FISA 'compromise' the Dem dupes gave the Chimp. Larisa:
Make NO mistake, we are in serious peril when an Attorney General who has subverted the Constitution per request of his boss, lied, obstructed justice, and defended torture, is now in full authority to declare who is going to be a target of warrant-less surveillance. You may not see this as seriously as I do, but then again, you have not lived under a dictatorship to know the difference. Mostly though, the people who failed most, are the citizens of this country - who should have taken to the streets and shut down all commerce, all traffic, and disengaged from the machine of government. You did not shut it down. You did not even try. You waited as your hopes were put entirely in the hands of cowards.
I don't know whether "shutting it down" was necessary, but I do know that an awful lot of people have been sitting around waiting for someone else to lead, instead of getting out there and doing the business.
That's about right ... From JB at Balkinization, a look at what our future holds:
Do not be mistaken: We are not hurtling toward the Gulag or anything that we have seen before. It will be nothing so dramatic as that. Rather, we are slowly inching, through each act of fear mongering and fecklessness, pandering and political compromise, toward a world in which Americans have increasingly little say over how they are actually governed, and increasingly little control over how the government collects information on them to regulate and control them. Slowly, secretly and imperceptibly, the mechanisms of government surveillance are being freed from methods of political control and accountability; and the liberties of ordinary citizens are being surgically removed under a potent anesthesia concocted from propaganda, fear, ignorance and apathy.
This actually understates the case, because all those government functions have been put into the hands of private companies, and there don't seem to be any limits on what those companies are allowed to do with that information. So the governments of several countries and every corporation have all the details about you - and what they don't have, they can get. And if you aggravate anyone, they can find out what they need to know about you to make sure you know your place.

Yep, any minute now, those Republicans are going to "overreach", and then we'll have 'em.

12:41 BST

Now the glamour and the glory's gone

Lance Mannion, "Mitt Romney gains new appreciation for the political genius of Bill Clinton: So, guy running for President walks into a diner in New Hampshire and winds up in an argument with a waitress over health care."

Just when it's time again to remind people of Phil Agre's terrific article on conservatism, someone else does it for me.

Barbara Ehrenreich on Opportunities in Abstinence Training. I had no idea how important pasta and breakfast pastry were to this! (Via Emphyrio.)

I posted these the other day on Eschaton and completely forgot to link them here: A highly-recommended discussion of FISA by Turley and Olbermann on Countdown; Stephen Crockett on Collapsing Bridges vs. War in Iraq at Consortium News; and Jay Leno's interview Darth Cheney.

There's some nice sky pics in this set from an Arizona road trip. And some smashing studies here.

"Yesterday's Hero"

03:03 BST

Sunday, 05 August 2007

Some more links

A clip from No End In Sight, about how Iraq turned into chaos - this section is posted with the title "Why did they Disband the Iraqi Army?". Everyone was so surprised!

The Ma & Pa Kettle of discourse! That is, Anne-Marie Slaughter accuses "the blogosphere" and "the left" of road rage for recognizing that the Republicans cannot be trusted and do not compromise, and Broder attacks the Democrats for trying to pass a good bill for SCHIP. (Look, Anne-Marie, if your columns rate candidacy for the Stupidest Op-Ed Ever, don't blame other people for noticing. Even your mother and friends disagree with you, as you admit, so perhaps you should consider the possibility that you are the one who is wrong.)

I'm not sure I understand "The Impeach Pit" - Troops were in the field during Watergate, too. And the only reason not that many members of the Bush administration have been indicted is that members of the Bush administration would have to be responsible for indicting them, and they all seem to believe they are above the law. This is a far more serious situation than when Nixon was subject to impeachment hearings.

Rachel and Keith on infrastructure.

Roz Kaveney's TLS review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

21:38 BST

What we say

Rosa Brooks on Heroism and the language of fascism:

Distinguishing heroism from service and suffering is important for two reasons. First, it's always worth fighting the Lake Wobegon effect because, in a world where "all the children are above average," the truly special child gets no recognition, and genuine acts of exceptional courage are trivialized.

Take Jason Dunham, a 22-year-old Marine corporal who, in 2004, threw his helmet and then his body on top of an Iraqi insurgent's grenade, saving the lives of the Marines around him. Dunham died of his wounds and became one of only two soldiers in the Iraq war to be awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration in the United States. But in a world where every service member is a "hero," how many Americans have heard of Dunham's fatal courage?


But there's a deeper reason to be wary of the "everyone's a hero" rhetoric. Simply put, it fits neatly alongside other terms beloved of the powers that be, such as "warrior" and "the Homeland": It's part of the language of fascism.

Via Cursor, which also says:
You know that "conservative misinformation" that Media Matters debunks? Our Media Transparency makes it possible for them and dozens of other progressive organizations to find out who's paying for it. Please help us to continue helping them, as we urgently need your support.

16:37 BST


Outside of the Beltway, nearly everyone ranges from outraged to flabbergasted to outraged and flabbergasted.

Glenn Greenwald marvels at Democrats' responsibility for Bush radicalism:

It is staggering, and truly disgusting, that even in August, 2007 -- almost six years removed from the 9/11 attacks and with the Bush presidency cemented as one of the weakest and most despised in American history -- that George W. Bush can "demand" that the Congress jump and re-write legislation at his will, vesting in him still greater surveillance power, by warning them, based solely on his say-so, that if they fail to comply with his demands, the next Terrorist attack will be their fault. And they jump and scamper and comply
In an update, Glenn interviews Christopher Dodd:
GG: Can you describe what you think it is that motivated 16 of your colleagues in the Democratic caucus to vote in favor of this bill?

CD: No, I really can't . . . We had caucuses during the day, so everyone knew what was there. You had a vote at 10:00 at night, people say I didn't know what was there, then normally I can understand, but we had a caucus during the day. There was a lot of conversation about it. [...] But I wish I had a better explanation.

The New York Times called this behavior unbelievable. But Arthur Silber is disgusted not just with Democrats in Congress, but with members of Left Blogistan who are astonished that the Democrats can do this:
It must be noted that Atrios and Digby (and many other liberal and progressive bloggers) are obviously intelligent; on occasion, they are unusually perceptive on narrower questions. But when the story upon which we insist is used to trump history and facts, even when those facts continue to scream in our faces every day, even intelligent people render themselves functionally stupid. As a result, they "don't get it," and they cannot begin to understand why the Democrats act as they do.
But Arthur seems to be talking about what Democrats believe rather than about what they do.

Hillary Clinton is an advocate of executive power and thought her husband should have had more. Despite what it has meant since that time, she has shown no sign of changing her mind on that score. Nevertheless, she did not vote to pass this legislation; none of the Democratic presidential candidates did. They know that, politically, that would have been very unhealthy for them. It's not about morality, belief in the Constitution, or anything else except political calculus: The Democrats have nothing to stand on if they don't stand against Bush. Meteor Blades:

No Republicans voted against the bill. The following Democrats voted for it: Evan Bayh (Indiana); Tom Carper (Delaware); Bob Casey (Pennsylvania); Kent Conrad (North Dakota); Dianne Feinstein (California); Daniel Inouye (Hawai`i); Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota); Mary Landrieu (Louisiana); Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas); Claire McCaskill (Missouri); Barbara Mikulski (Maryland); Bill Nelson (Florida); Ben Nelson (Nebraska); Mark Pryor (Arkansas); Ken Salazar (Colorado); Jim Webb (Virginia).

Senators Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd and Barack Obama all opposed the bill, as did 23 other Democrats and Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont. Joe Lieberman voted ...well, you know how he voted.

I don't think there's a single liberal blogger who has any illusions about most of these people, although - despite the fact that she's done this kind of thing before - it's a shock to see Mikulski on that list. And though I can still remember when Inouye used to be more reliably liberal, I've long known those days were gone. Progressives have been warning about Casey and Webb since before the election, and most of the rest have been voting with the Republicans all along - even on the bankruptcy bill. Feinstein has long been second on progressives' list after Lieberman of Democrats We'd Like To Get Rid Of. It's not like we didn't know we had these vipers in our midst.

(In Congress, a majority of Democrats voted against the resolution, as well.)

Most of us have given up on the conservative contingent on both sides of the aisle in terms of getting them to understand the morality of their behavior and the principled reasons for voting with liberals, but we expected more of them to have figured out that their careers could be at stake if they don't show some sign of knowing that they have constituents. Did the Republicans promise to rig the voting machines in their favor if they voted with conservatives?

Liberal Democrats do not control Congress - conservatives do.

But in this particular case, one Democrat can be held responsible for letting this thing hit the floor, and that's Diane Feinstein.

If you are in the state or district of a legislator who voted in support of this expansion of illegal power, it would be a good time to demand of them an explanation for their vote.

[Senate, House]

11:02 BST

A world of ideas

Lejaby Lia half cup bra

Bra of the Week

Mercury Rising offers A modest proposal: "Republicans express deep concern about sexual immorality, teenage pregnancy, drinking, drugs, contempt for religion, lawlessness, and treachery toward the nation. Considering that these ills are concentrated among their ranks, perhaps they have good reason for concern. I hereby propose that we place a stipulation in the Constitution that they can pass any laws that they like to suppress these evils, but the laws will only apply to them."

This article about rising inequality includes this: "That shifting perception combines with the powerful driving force of "relative deprivation." ... Frank urges fellow economists to look at numbers and data in relative terms, not absolute ones. A Web surfer with a 56K modem today knows, intuitively, that he is better off than he was 20 years ago, when he had to rely on a 1,200-baud modem. But when everybody else has broadband, that 56K makes you feel like a cyberloser." It's more than that - it's that even parts of the net that were once accessible to you with your 56K become less accessible, or inaccessible, as more and more websites adapt to faster traffic with formats that load too slowly or not at all. And it works that way with a lot of other things - the jobs you must have a car for, the ones you must have several nice suits for, the ones where you not only must have a TV but also watch the same programs as your workmates, etc. At a certain level of play, you need a nice house where you can easily set a nice table for business guests, too. But I have more sympathy for people who just want to buy neat personal toys for their own entertainment than I do for people who are just breathless about being able to make their next billion so that they can - what? What do they need that they just can't bear to pay taxes on what they already have?

People with bad ideas.

Nightmare on Wall Street - The Jim Cramer freakout, with subtitles.

John Emerson disproves the existence of God.

00:43 BST

Saturday, 04 August 2007

Points of view

Sinfonian has the list of The new Senate caucus: Democrats For Undermining the Constitution and Kowtowing Eternally to Drunky (not the most successful forced acronym I've ever seen, but it certainly fits), and their phone numbers. I've written a very sharp letter to Barbara Mikulski. Phone her twice for me ((202) 224-4654).

Dave Johnson reports back from Yearly Kos, Dean Announces Election Protection Project, "working with every single county in the country to get ahead of election problems NOW, rather than just before and after the 2008 election. They will identify problems like providing too few voting machines in precincts as a way to keep the vote count down, etc. From a press release e-mailed to me about the project." Now might be a good time to contact the DNC to get involved.

LarryE reckons the anti-war movement is weak because it is "too god damned concerned with its own image. Too god damned concerned with being 'respectable,' with being seen as 'serious,' as truly "pro-American." Too god damned concerned with politics over praxis, with positioning over protest." I think that's a lot of it.

Atrios quotes Juan Cole about how disturbing it is to have candidates talking about whether nuking Pakistan is "off the table". Yes, it's embarrassing to have George Walker Bush causing international incidents every time he opens his mouth, and it's not that great an improvement to have the Democratic candidates doing it, now. Just stop it.

I'm afraid so.

Hey, look, Dave Neiwert has a new job at crosscut, a new news site out of Seattle.

The New Weird Archives

19:54 BST


You know, when I hear people like Tom DeLay and other miscreants talking about how The Terrists are about to do something that could make Washington a really dangerous place to be if Democrats don't instantly cave in and sign over whatever else Bush wants, it sounds to me like it's not so much a warning as a threat. And therefore, I expect Democrats to stand right up and say, "Are you threatening us?"

Because constantly trying to terrify people with the threat of violence really is terrorism, and it's not Al Qaeda that's doing that to us right now.

So my next question would be: "Why would Al Qaeda want to launch a terrorist attack on America just in time to give a bomb-happy executive the opportunity to suspend the elections so he can take out half the Muslim world?"

I would just love to hear the Democratic leadership stand up and ask what the Republicans are up to when they start terror-threatening over legislation. They could say:

"I thought you said you were keeping us safe. If that's true, why are you so sure we're about to be attacked? Aren't you planning to stop it? Are you saying you will refuse to 'keep us safe' if we don't support your bills?"
Or they could say:
"My, it sure is convenient for you that Al Qaeda is always about to attack us right before you want us to vote for your bills that we haven't even had time to read. Are they on your payroll or something?"
Digby says:
I have the niggling feeling that there has been some pretty heavy cocktail and bar-b-que chatter in the capital this summer with the elders warning everyone that something is afoot, but they can't talk about the details. Suddenly the villagers are all acting like nervous cats on a hot tin roof and dancing around like it's the hot summer of 2002 again for no discernable reason.

If that's so and little birdies are whispering in ears, the congress should stay in town and hash this thing out for real instead of signing off on something they haven't read. And if that's so, the president also needs to stay in town instead of rushing off to clear that poor brush again on his "ranchette" set in Waco and negotiate in good faith to protect the American people. The fact that nobody is doing this suggests to me that if there is some fear mongering going on, everyone involved knows it's typical Bushian nonsense but they are afraid to take a chance just in case he gets lucky and hits another trifecta.

And you know what? If there is another attack while Bush is at his holiday villa, there is no intelligent reason to think it was just "lucky". It's Bush and his Republican cronies who are threatening us, and they're the most likely suspects. These people have just had too much luck.
No. More. Executive. Power. Period. It's their job to figure out how to track terrorists without trampling on the constitution. If that means staying in town for the month August in that sweltering heat, well, that's what they're paid for.

15:12 BST

Open windows

Paul Krugman, "A Test for Democrats: It's been a good Democrats, bad Democrats kind of week. The bill expanding children's health insurance that just passed in the House makes you want to stand up and cheer. Reports that Senator Charles Schumer opposes plans to close the hedge fund tax loophole make you want to sit down and cry." [Pay wall link]

Top Generals Join Dems in Opposing Troops: From the Chicago Tribune, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) describing his decision to vote with Dems on the non-binding resolution opposing the surge ... "When the proposal for that operation came in, the senior commanders didn't like it, and I sided with them against the president," Kirk said.

From Wednesday's WaPo editorial: It nevertheless should be clear that the administration's initiative amounts to an unblushing return to the regional strategy that President Bush and Ms. Rice herself explicitly repudiated two years ago. Once again, the United States will use military aid to bolster autocratic Arab regimes in the name of regional "security and stability." Not only reinventing the wheel, but it's the wrong wheel.

From Conceptual Guerrilla, "New Deal Revisionism - As usual, the right-wing is making it up when they tell you how Franklin Delano Roosevelt hurt America's economy.

Senator Bernie: "President Bush's nominee to head the White House budget office testified at a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday. Senator Bernie Sanders, a member of the Budget Committee, questioned former Rep. Jim Nussle about tax breaks for the rich (Bush and Nussle are for them, Sanders and the majority of Americans are not). The senator also cited troubling statistics about the number of Americans who have fallen into poverty since Bush took office. And he brought up the growing gap between the rich and the poor, a gap that is wider now than at any time since The Great Depression." You can watch it here. (Aside from the information Bernie recites, I liked it that he didn't care about partisanship.) Bernie voted against confirmation of Nussle.

From Radley Balko, "FBI to Congress: Murder, Wrongful Imprisonment May Be Necessary to Preserve Drug Investigations: Last week, a federal judge excoriated the FBI for not only hiding exculpatory evidence that would have exonerated four innocent men who served more than thirty years in prison, but for rewarding those who did the hiding and covering up with bonuses and promotions. For this crime against American citizens, American taxpayers will now shell out more than $100 million. Thus far, none of the government agents actually responsible for this crime have been held accountable. Only rewarded." Via Drug WarRant.

At Lawyers, Guns and Money, "It's Not Just the Eyewitnesses Who Screw Up." Because sometimes people do know what they didn't see, until prosecutors put unethical pressure on them.

Rudy & Judi not popular in New York - LowerManhattanite tells the tale at The Group News Blog. (Thanks to D.)

13:45 BST

Friday, 03 August 2007

Baby then you let me down so low

Yet another reason why you really can't trust Republicans around kids. Or any issues involving kids. It's not just "terrorist suspects" they want to torture.

There is just no excuse, no excuse at all, for Diane Feinstein voting another right-wing fruitcake Bush nominee out of committee to head for the Circuit Court. Howie asks: "Will the KKK get their judge confirmed?" Thanks to conservative Democrats in tandem with Republicans, the answer appears to be, "Yes."

In this Joe Klein piece, he can't even bring himself to admit that the conservative Dems are conservatives - he calls them "moderates". So far has this country fallen that you get to be a "moderate" if you just avoid setting the Constitution on fire in public (you do it behind the scenes instead). Oh, and he thinks Al From is a wise man - From, who is disappointed that Lieberman has moved further to the right than he expected. That's the same Lieberman whose first run for the Senate was supported by William F. Buckley, for dog's sake. It's not like there was all that much further to the right to go. So much for Time's "liberal".

Madison Guy caught an Althouse eruption on the radio. She apparently advocates a complete shutdown of your mental faculties in response to any "terror alert". There does seem to be a lot of this in the right wing, but the more I learn about Ann Althouse, the more I think she's a seriously disturbed person.

For some reason I can't seem to find the original of the Evil Picture that upset Bill O'Reilly (anyone got the link?), but John Aravosis has the screen-shot of it from Fox. [Update: Here it is.]

Pan and zoom panorama of Yokohama by night, via PNH.

The New Yardbirds, "I Can't Quit You Baby"

22:16 BST

Linky goodness

Picture New York is the website for a campaign to overturn Mayor Bloomberg's war on smaller media outfits. Here's what Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker said: "The kind of films we make simply could not be made if we had to go through a NYC bureaucracy to get a permit every time we picked up our cameras. It's intrusive, stifling and goes against our first amendment rights - not to mention it would probably put us out of business." Democracy NOW! did a story on them, The National Press Photographers Association has joined in, John Sayles and Moby have signed on, and Keith Olbermann named a New York commissioner and her gang as Worst Persons in the World. Oh, yeah, and Josh isn't too happy, either.

Culture of Truth: "Lately we've all been wondering: what's the rush to change the federal wiretapping and surveillance laws all of a sudden? Bush has, of course, been going around demanding that Congress change the FISA statute, and Congress seems pretty willing to do it. It turns out that a FISA Court judge ruled earlier this year that yet another one of Bush's warrantless spying programs violated the law." In secret, even.

Steve Benen has a good post following up Kevin Drum's post about how empty Giuliani is and Ezra's post about Giuliani's fake healthcare plan, but Steve ends it with a serious candidate for the next edition of Simple Answers to Simple Questions. I'm sure you can supply the answer in one word - certainly based on the evidence you had in 1999, if not all that's been added since then.

The Rude One notes a Bushian tic: "Just in the last week, Bush has let people know what a privilege it is to be near him. During his brief press meet with British PM Gordon "Not-Neutered Poodle" Brown, Bush was extolling to the UK leader how wonderful America is by pointing out, regarding a reporter who had just turned 38, "Here you are -- amazing country, Gordon, guy is under 40 years old, asking me and you questions. It's a beautiful sight." Oh, how everyone laughed, Brown a bit uncomfortably, as if he realized he was standing next to someone who would feel at home with both Charles Manson and Henry Ford. We could dismiss this as a mere joke if Bush hadn't done it so often in the past." (He notes that Bush was too much of a coward to accept an invitation to parachute-jump with another guy who'd gotten his legs blown off.)

All of this morning's links at once at Progressive Blog Digest.

17:27 BST

People are talking

Scott Lemieux says, "AND THIS MONTH'S VICHY DEMOCRAT AWARD GOES TO...: Diane Feinstein, who cast the key vote to let arch-reactionary Leslie Southwick out of the Judiciary Committee. Apparently, she saw the Roberts Court's first term, liked what she saw, and figured that the federal courts could use yet another neoconfederate judge. This would be one thing if it was a Southern Democrat, as opposed to someone in a safe-as-milk seat in one of the most liberal states in the country. Well played! Not that this is shocking; she's been an appalling wet for a long time. California really needs to get two Democrats in the Senate at some point." I've been saying that for years. (Also: Hillary Clinton, war-maniac.)

The Talking Dog interviews Kenneth D. Ackerman, the DC lawyer who wrote Young J. Edgar: Hoover, The Red Scare, and the Assault on Civil Liberties, about the infamous Palmer Raids - inspired, of course, by the administration response to 9/11: "But Hoover went way beyond the pale-- such obvious abuses ended up causing a backlash toward Palmer, and indeed, was counter-productive to Palmer's own interests, as the particular bad guys who blew up his house got away! They were eventually traced to two Italian anarchist groups, L'Era Nuova based in Paterson, New Jersey and the Galliani gang based in Lynn, Massachusetts... and the likely perpetrators all managed to get away! The comparison to Bush and the al Qaeda leadership is striking! The mission creep is staggering-- we had al Qaeda on the run in Afghanistan, and then lost our focus and turned our attention to Iraq! Six years later, Osama bin Laden is a free man and Al Qaeda appears to be making a comeback."

"Revise FISA? Trust This White House? Are You Serious? By late Thursday afternoon, Feingold, joined by Senators Robert Byrd and Bernie Sanders sent Harry Reid this letter letting him know their concerns: None of the Administration's proposals were acceptable, and the Democrats counterproposal, while better, was not good enough. Moreover, any change adopted now should be sunset in 90 days, which would give Congress another chance to consider more carefully the need for permanent changes. [...] Last night, it was not clear what the Democratic leadership would do. But they should have learned by now that the WH cannot be trusted on these matters, and they should heed the warnings of Feingold, Byrd and Sanders. Today's New York Times editorial agrees." (Also: Hillary Clinton: Not good enough.)

Chris Floyd says, "Everything is Broken: People think that the rapidly expanding gap between the richest rich and everybody else is just the way things are, when in fact, it is totally unprecedented in America. Again, you don't have to be very old to remember when things weren't this way. And I'm not talking about some kind of nostalgic utopia where corruption and cronyism was never known. Such things we have had and will have with us always. What is different today is the vastly magnified scale of the corruption and cronyism, and its active, ruthless, relentless augmentation by government -- and the ever-growing cumulative effect of year after year of this rot on our infrastructure, our politics and our lives. But the bright, garish diversions and carefully cultivated, corporate-skewed media misinformation that have swallowed our civic society have induced a kind of amnesia amongst the older populace, who are led at every turn to distrust and reject the historical evidence of their own lives." And Chris recommends this piece at A Tiny Revolution, where Jonathan Schwarz says, "A country that can't keep its bridges from collapsing is not going to be running the world very much longer." Maybe we'll be more like... Saudi Arabia.)

Toast responds to Bill O'Rielly.

15:12 BST

The weather's fine if you've got the time

Senator Chris Dodd actually went on Bill O'Reilly's show to defend Daily Kos, and didn't do a bad job, either (although, personally, I think that completely unacceptable "hateful" phototoon was actually funny and not so much hateful as astute), but I have really been enjoying the fact that DKos is getting all that free advertising from O'Reilly, who even told his viewers to go to the site and see for themselves how hateful it is. I hope they do. They might find posts like "A Knock on the Door and Unfulfilled Dreams" and get a closer look at what those pictures of flag-draped coffins really mean. And they might find "'Deferred Maintenance,' Tumbledown Bridges, and Bathtubs" and learn about how America's infrastructure has been neglected by tax-cutting glamor-spenders. (Personally, I think it would be smart for Kos to pin a post making Dodd's other point up at the top where O'Reilly's fans are sure to see it - one listing the numerous hateful comments that O'Reilly himself makes regularly on his show.) Jonathan Singer wants us to reward Dodd's good behavior.

Also on the subject of what one of my commenters) calls "Domestic Terrorism by neglect", "Are the Dead From the Minneapolis Bridge Collapse Victims of Conservative Ideology?: After swallowing 30 years of small-government rhetoric, our infrastructure, once the pride of the developed world, is falling apart around us. We're reaping what we've sown." (Thanks to another commenter, "who knew".)

Isn't "Frum" a foreign name? Sounds like it to me, even if he wasn't Canadian. But since he is, he's got a lot of nerve telling funny-colored Americans that they aren't American enough. (More here.)

Maha: "A long time ago I wrote a poem that compared the spiritual journey to getting lost in New Jersey. You're driving around looking for the way to Manhattan, and you're completely lost. Then you see an exit sign by the road that says "Route 4 East to the George Washington Bridge." The George Washington Bridge will take you across the Hudson River to Manhattan. Now, the sensible thing to do would be to follow the sign and head toward the bridge. But in the world of religion, for some reason people don't do that. Instead, they pull over, get out of their cars, and begin to worship the sign."

Felix Cavaliere's Rascals live last month in Albany, "It's a Beautiful Morning" [Original by The Young Rascals]

12:18 BST


Rachel Maddow joined Keith Olbermann to discuss the ramifications of Rupert Murdoch's takeover of The Wall Street Journal and the dominance of fraudulent "news" in American media.

Infrastructure is one of Rachel's big hobby-horses, and she and Rick Perlstein often complain that it's not a subject that is easily made sexy. But the tragedy at the Minneapolis bridge is a story about how tax policies at both the state and local level have meant the continual degradation of America's infrastructure, so Thursday's show was all about that story. Rick was a guest on the show, and so was Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman, whose "Public anger will follow our sorrow" may be the best article about the day's event. An excerpt:

There isn't any bigger metaphor for a society in trouble than a bridge falling, its concrete lanes pointing brokenly at the sky, its crumpled cars pointing down at the deep waters where people disappeared.

Only this isn't a metaphor.

The focus at the moment is on the lives lost and injured and the heroic efforts of rescuers and first-responders - good Samaritans and uniformed public servants. Minnesotans can be proud of themselves, and of their emergency workers who answered the call. But when you have a tragedy on this scale, it isn't just concrete and steel that has failed us.

So far, we are told that it wasn't terrorists or tornados that brought the bridge down. But those assurances are not reassuring.

They are troubling.

If it wasn't an act of God or the hand of hate, and it proves not to be just a lousy accident - a girder mistakenly cut, a train that hit a support - then we are left to conclude that it was worse than any of those things, because it was more mundane and more insidious: This death and destruction was the result of incompetence or indifference.

In a word, it was avoidable.

That means it should never have happened. And that means that public anger will follow our sorrow as sure as night descended on the missing.

This is, of course, what tax-cut mania really means, but it's also what it means when politicians prioritize showy expenditures over basic maintenance and services. This is America, breaking down.

As always, Rachel's two-hour show (sans ad breaks) should be streaming from the archive until the new show is posted 24-hours later, here, and I recommend it.

02:44 BST

Thursday, 02 August 2007

Via Making Light

Linkmeister directs us to photographs of the bridge taken by someone who lives nearby. As far as I can tell, we haven't lost any of our Mipple-Stipple contingent, but Teresa is maintaining a check-in thread for us.

Also: More questions Brit Hume can ask the candidates - from the same people who brought you, "24, the foreign policy".

17:39 BST

It's in the news

Arlen Specter made Wanker of the Day at Eschaton, but Josh's link is kind of messed up, so the link to "Specter's Gonzales Verdict: Misleading But Not Perjury" brings up a page with no story on it. Leahy, unlike Specter, thinks Fredo's response was not good enough. Pelosi admits that an impeachment inquiry is merited, but doesn't say she will help to move it. Colbert has The Word.

Still waiting to hear what possible excuse Democrats could have for wanting to give Gonzales more power by weakening the requirement for warrants for spying on people, but there you are. As always, Digby is right.

Sean-Paul Kelley at The Agonist: "You see, one night in August 1996 one of my best friends, Michael LaHood, was murdered by Mauriceo Brown." But Kenneth Foster, Jr. did not participate in murdering Michael, yet he is slated to be killed by Texas on August 30th. Sean-Paul makes a plea for Foster's life. If you live in Texas, you might want to make some phone calls and write some letters, too.

America's most notorious fraudulent voter, Ann Coulter, is still being investigated. "I didn't realize that she had tried to vote somewhere else and was turned back. This was willful. Anyone else would have been prosecuted."

Is it really true that a deluge of Canadians are coming to America for healthcare? Well, no.

This David Broder article has such a classically Broderesque title - "A Setback For Civility" - that a regular Broder reader would have expected an article on some incivil Democrat having the audacity to try to live up to their oath and say why. Instead, Broder is lamenting the loss of a Republican who wasn't a contributor to the noise machine, but fails to note that that makes him exceptional for a member of his party - though not so much that he placed the Constitution above that (R).

Froomkin takes Cheney's non-denial denial as an admission that he was the guy who sent Gonzales and Card to Ashcroft's hospital room.

More delays on the ethics bill in the Senate when Jim DeMint (R-obstructionist) puts a hold on it.

In Ohio, a bill that would require a man's permission for a woman to get an abortion.

16:51 BST

Now that is news!

To my amazement, Time actually acknowledges some truth in it's piece on Why Bush Won't Ax Gonzales:

If cabinet members were perishable goods, Alberto Gonzales would have passed his "sell by" date sometime last spring. Since January, when he first faced sharp questioning over the firing of U.S. Attorneys, the Attorney General has earned disastrous reviews for his inconsistent testimony, poor judgment and for appearing to place loyalty to the White House above service to the public. By June it was hard to find a Republican willing to defend him. Now Gonzales' dissembling testimony about a controversial domestic-spying program has raised suspicions about what he is hiding and fueled new calls for him to go. Senate Democrats have called for a special prosecutor to investigate his activities as Attorney General, and a group of moderate House Democrats has called for the House to weigh impeachment proceedings against him.
First clue is the reference to "moderate House Democrats". You can tell something is up when they don't just leave the word "Democrats" unmodified - they're actually emphasizing that these are not a bunch of lefties. And then we get to the reasons, and the first one says it all:
1. Gonzales is all that stands between the White House and special prosecutors.
Gonzales is in the best place possible to cover up for the criminals by simply refusing to allow investigations. Everything that follows is mere spin - it's about the fact that the whole house of cards falls if Gonzales isn't there to block exposure of a thoroughly corrupt administration.

And kudos to Massimo Calabresi for spelling it out.

Update: For contrast, Trifecta presents the WaPo editorial on the subject.

14:50 BST

Bits and pieces

I have a tendency to just wrinkle my nose whenever I hear some nitwit carry on about the goals of the terrorists as interpreted through big talk from Islamic idiots who apparently think they can rouse the Muslim World to bring Worldwide Islamofascist Oppression even to Kansas. There may be a handful of Islamacist crackpots who actually believe this, and a few more who think this kind of talk will inspire a few disaffected jerks to become suicide bombers, but there seem to be a number of Republicans who actually believe this is a credible threat. But, like Digby says, it's not gonna happen, and it's an amazingly stupid idea to base America's foreign policy on. The trouble is, there do seem to be people who think doing so is, um, "serious". Worse, I can't help the feeling that some Democrats are letting themselves be cowed by this kind of talk.

After our posts about asking Democratic candidates what they intend to do about restoring the Constitution, Lambert and I have both been contacted by someone in the Dodd campaign to remind us that restoring the Constitution is a major part of Chris Dodd's policy pledge.

If you have issues to raise about the energy bill that's supposed to be debated shortly, someone might actually take it on board if you post to the thread at The Oil Drum.

Let's face it: Even if we had a functioning news media, you know that the best of them still couldn't cover the Ted Stevens story with a straight face. There is only one place for Senator Tubes - The Daily Show.

Congratulations to Eli on four years of Left I on the News.

13:12 BST


Dave Neiwert on Conservative fascism and the irony of Jonah Goldberg's call to prevent "some people" from voting after writing a book called Liberal Fascism. Thers suggests that pundits should have to take a test before they are allowed to bloviate in public, which should be enough to put Jonah out of our misery. Mark Thoma is on the same page, and gets some help from PGL at Angry Bear.

Also in Jonah news, Roy Edroso reports that Jonah and Beinart got together to pontificate on comedy. Yeah, I know, I already can't keep a straight face, either.

Bill Scher has a nice rebuttal to the conventional Hill wisdom that says Democratic contenders should ignore those vituperative, far-left bloggers.

Matt Yglesias reminds us that O'Hanlan was one of the hit-men who went after Howard Dean for opposing the invasion of Iraq - which is just one more thing that makes it *special* when O'Hanlon now represents himself as someone who used to be "critical" of Bush's war. (via)

Dean Velvel on his interview with Glenn Greenwald.

Underside of "the American Hologram" and the fraud at the heart of conservatism.

Personally, I'm not eager to expand the war to Pakistan, but it's interesting to know that Michelle Malkin has found a military action she's not in favor of - because it was proposed by a Democrat.

00:24 BST

Wednesday, 01 August 2007

When the law is a crime

Diane at Karmalised has been posting Bob Ray Sanders' Star-Telegram articles about the impending execution of an innocent man in - where else? - Texas. (More here.)

It should surprise no one to learn that I am completely opposed to privatized prisons. They are more expensive than letting the state do it, and once they become an industry it becomes very difficult for legislators to say No to the people who run them (and also employ people locally). One of the results is that the prison lobby and the anti-crime lobby get together to promote more and more reasons to imprison people. It's much the same as with so many privatized functions of government - you get a less accountable management system that charges more and cuts costs to make more profit, often with disastrous results. But it doesn't just increase the number of things that are called crimes - it even increases crime. I'm also opposed to transporting prisoners to states they have no relationship to. There are several reasons to oppose it, including electoral issues, but TChris mentions another one: it severs people from their families and communities and increases the likelihood that they will become repeat offenders.

And why do Democrats appear to be preparing to give Gonzales more power to spy on us? This really is crazy. The administration already has more power than it should even if you ignore the signing statements and obvious law-breaking - and they certainly do not believe more. (Maybe the real question we should be asking legislators is, "What do they have on you?")

21:03 BST

Brain cells rubbing together

In comments, HerrmanNewticks suggests:

The democratic plan for restoring constitutional government is simple: Get elected. The instant a Democrat is in the Oval Office, the Constitution will miraculously be transformed, in GOP eyes, from toilet paper to sacred text. Watch how zealously they protect it and attempt to reign in the 'excesses' of the new Democratic president who poses a grave threat to the future of the republic.
Glenn Greenwald talks about the problem of a journalists' shield law in the context of the Judith Miller problem. As I have said before, I don't believe Miller's situation really applies, since she wasn't protecting a whistle-blower, she was protecting an attack on a whistle-blower, which is a very different thing - and she was also the witness to the suspected crime, not merely someone who had heard about it later. Journalists do need to be able to shield whistle-blowers. But journalists don't need to be shielded when they are merely carrying water for an administration's propaganda arm; on the contrary, they need to be exposed.

I wish I could say I didn't know why this is happening, but I'm afraid that some people really don't get that what made the Holocaust bad wasn't that it was done to Jews, but that it was done to anyone.

I think I need someone to digest this down for me, but if I'm reading it right, it seems to be suggesting that a decision for discovery in a state case may have made some of the data that the White House is refusing to give Congress available through other means, and exposes some communications that may reveal the information that Congress is looking for.

18:57 BST

Cheap-labor Republicans and identity politics

Conceptual Guerilla always offers insight on how they did it to us:

As national elites have gradually fused into one international corporate elite, the basic deal between elites and certain preferred elements of the working class has broken down.

You should recognize this basic deal between corporate elites and certain privileged wage earners. It is the same basic deal that supported southern segregation, and the old south plantation economy, before that. Indeed, it is the basic paradigm for "racism" -- which didn't exist until the sixteenth century, when it was invented to justify enslaving, dispossessing and slaughtering the non-European inhabitants of colonized territory. The deal is simple. Help us oppress those other people, and we'll cut you in for a little bigger piece of the pie.

Which brings us around to Ron Paul and the rest of the extreme right. Corporate elites have broken the deal -- and if Ron Paul doesn't know it discursively, he surely knows it intuitively. This is what elites do. They use you. They use you until they don't need you. Then they throw you away. The American working class, in general, and the white working class in particular, have been thrown away. If they don't understand the full theoretical explanation, they certainly understand the immediate reality.


The white working class has been "thrown away." Specifically, corporations have embraced "liberalism" in the place working people are most likely to see it. They have become "equal opportunity" employers. They now hire "minorities," illegal immigrants, and promote women to positions of management. They do this using the corporate-bureaucratic language -- PR language -- of "diversity." In other words, they hire "minorities" and mouth what sounds like liberal platitudes to justify it. White working people conclude that "the liberals" have taken over their companies, when in fact, it is the same greedy bastards that always ran the place. "Diversity" turns out to be a nice excuse for "hiring people who work cheaper." The fact that those "minorities" can do the job just as well as the formerly privileged white workers guarantees that the newly "enlightened" hiring practices of corporate elites are here to stay.

It's not a secret that "women and foreigners have been stealing the jobs of real American men" is one of the divisive memes the right-wing uses to explain away the fact that their right-wing corporate policies have reduced the rewards for labor in our society. We need to get a good grasp on the fact that we're trying to communicate with a bunch of Americans for whom that economic insecurity is what "liberalism" is all about.

Maybe Kevin Drum is right when he says we're going to have to give up on calling ourselves "liberals" and start calling ourselves "progressives". The only problem is that there are already too many people of dubious liberalism who are also calling themselves "progressives", because they've figured out that "liberal" is a dirty word. And, anyway, the wingers have already tumbled to this trick, and they're prepared.

17:15 BST

Method and madness

I posted a link at Eschaton earlier to Lambert's question for the Dem candidates who come to Yearly Kos: "What is the Democrats' plan to restore Constitutional Government?" In the ensuing comment thread, Ruth seemed to have inferred that I was joining in the Dem-bashing, so I updated the post to say that isn't at all what I meant. Yearly Kos is a rare chance to inject some real questions into the public discourse, and we sure know the usual suspects are not going to treat restoring Constitutional government as an issue of importance (I mean, what does it have to do with John Edwards' haircuts?), but it is a major issue of the day, and it should be asked - and they should be able to answer questions about it, just like any other policy issue.

Will Bunch says, "Told ya so, Part 1: CNN says 'just kidding' after terror scare: Those terrorist 'dry runs' at airports that bumped a slew of bad news for President Bush off the front page and scared a lot of summer vacationers in the process, were, as CNN itself confessed in a different report, 'bogus'."

This is the classic Republican method of dealing with reports that something is wrong: Make it illegal to say so. Fortunately, the victims can't talk. Also, your "privatized" occupation: "I've worked for a billion companies, and this is the worst I've ever worked for," said Brad Ford, a former Crescent guard who now works in Afghanistan for another security firm. "I couldn't believe how they were getting away with all the stuff they were getting away with." (Via eRobin's Profiteering Progress Report.)

SteveG on Why Abortion Can't Be Depoliticized: "It turns out that it is impossible to depoliticize abortion because when we think we're talking about abortion, what we are really talking about is *ABORTION*, and *ABORTION* has little or nothing to do with abortion."

14:10 BST

I should be asleep

Taegan Goddard says a Democracy Corps poll shows Democrats leading Republicans in battleground districts at the same level they did in 2006.

Maybe Hillary has PTSD, I don't know, but I don't think Obama is really that different, and I think this whole generational analysis just ignores the fact that there was no one "baby-boom" behavior or personality type or goal or anything else. What was different about the baby-boom generation was its size, which meant that anything that was going on had a lot of people in it and could make itself visible. The press, as always, had a shallow analysis of what was going on and focused only on what it wanted to, but there were as many different types in that generation as in any that followed - there were always straights, always suits, always cheerleaders and football heroes and people who liked to read and people who wanted to be the class president and people who wanted to be rock stars and all that other stuff. And in both the baby-boom and the generations that followed, damn few truly smart and dedicated people of character who bothered to run for office, and that is a big part of the problem we have today.

On the other hand, I'm inclined to agree with Josh's comparison between the Bush apologists and the German revanchist right, complete with "stabbed-in-the-back" rhetoric and calls to violence: "The stakes must keep rising because that is, paradoxically, the only way for them to avoid taking responsibility for their failures. And cowardice that militant, in a faction within the body politic, is dangerous for the rest of us."

Antonioni made one of my favorite films, and now he's dead. Blow-Up fascinated me with its frames and plot and scenes that each, in their way, depicted the journey of a photographer from being a pure observer into being a participant. (Even the scene where the protagonist ignores Jeff Beck smashing his guitar into the amp, while Jimmy Page just looks bemused, seemed to be part of that theme.) I was surprised, years later, to look up reviews of the movie and see that virtually every reviewer had overlooked this angle entirely and concentrated only on the "eroticism" of the film (a reference, as far as I could tell, to only one scene where he does a fashion shoot). I hated the pseudo-remake, Blow-Out, which referred to none of this thematic content. (via)

A conservative regrets his false beliefs. (via)

02:57 BST

Liars, thieves, cheats, and dupes

"In Violation of Federal Law, Ohio's 2004 Presidential Election Records Are Destroyed or Missing: In 56 of Ohio's 88 counties, ballots and election records from 2004 have been "accidentally" destroyed, despite a federal order to preserve them -- it was crucial evidence which would have revealed whether the election was stolen." Gosh, I guess that's not at all suspicious, is it?

Yesterday, Diane wrote about a Monday Morning Shocker: "Even on a Monday morning, it's hard to pass by an op-ed piece with the following title, "The erotic undertones of the administration's words on enhanced interrogations." The column by A.S. Hamrah appears in today's Los Angeles Times and makes a pretty good case that "the more the White House refines the rules, the pervier things get" (its subtitle)."

Rudy Giuliani is lying about Edwards and lying about taxes. It's your standard GOP lie, of course - Democrats want to raise taxes and spend money and will do terrible things that discourage investment. (You know, it's funny how we don't hear as much as we used to about how perfect the 1950s were. D'ya think that's because too many people figured out that taxes on large amounts of wealth and on unearned income were a lot higher in those days?)

Rick Perlstein has a heartbreaking story about why he is joining the Fox Attack squad. Via Maha, who has other evidence of right-wing lunacy. (I was thinking about this thing O'Reilly said about how "liberals want people to die" because someone posted a comment at DKos in response to a post about a failed attempt on Cheney's life with words to the effect that it would have been no great loss. This, I guess, was supposed to be worse than O'Reilly's buddy Ann Coulter advocating someone poisoning Justice Stevens. And I remembered that the right-wingers had an absolutely party over the fact that Rachel Corrie was bulldozed to death in Gaza. How come they don't get O'Reilly's opprobrium? Oh, wait, I know.)

00:25 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, August 2007

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