The Sideshow

Archive for August 2008

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Sunday, 31 August 2008

American landscape

"New Orleans Redraws Its Color Line: First, the Confederate flag hoisted over a neighbor's house followed by stares and sneers; then the official torment by the parish government as it waged a post-Hurricane Katrina crusade against the specter of rental housing. For Clark, this took the form of a series of 'notices of violation' warning her that the parish would disconnect her utilities--not because she had done anything wrong but because her landlord had failed to apply for a rental permit, as required by a new parish law. According to Hestel Stout, a white contractor working on Clark's house, the parish official who delivered one of these notices explained to him, 'How would you like those types living next to you?'"

Congress passed, and Bush signed, the Hubbard Act - without even a threat of a veto. For 65 years the "sole survivor" policy discharged troops who'd lost all of their siblings in the war - but with that discharge, they lost their benefits as well because they hadn't completed their contract. Jason Hubbard contacted his Congressman after he lost his brother, his service career, and all of his benefits upon returning home, and so the Hubbard act has fixed the loophole. The fact that that loophole existed is almost as amazing as the fact that we haven't had to listen to Bush and McCain explain why it should be left in place - or would be, if we weren't in election season, I guess. (Via Deb, who also notes that medical insurers and doctors just don't seem to care about the patient any longer.)

Last week Eric Boehlert noticed a funny thing about the way the media anticipated Hillary Clinton's participation in the DNC: They acted like it was unprecedented, even though it has been normal for many years for runners-up to have their names placed in nomination and even to speak at the convention. In fact, the only real departure is that, "Clinton represents the only runner-up to speak at the convention who formally endorsed the party's nominee months before the convention; i.e., all the others grudgingly held out on endorsing their rivals. The media also worked overtime to create a narrative of enormous hostility between the Clinton and Obama camps over planning stages of Clinton's nomination and participation - despite the fact that there didn't seem to be any evidence of it.

I wonder how the media is going to deal with McCain's re-emerging objection to torture, and the fact that he forgot it long enough to vote in favor of it and to advocate a veto of a bill that would have banned it.

Fortunately, I can choose to vote against John McCain regardless of what some guy in the blogosphere says.

You know, the weirdest thing about this video is being reminded of what a terrible idea it is to have your candidate standing around next to a speaker like that, with nothing to do. And McCain is really bad at knowing what to do with himself in that situation.


19:59 BST

Freedom of the corporate press

I guess I was pretty distracted last weekend (I wonder what caused that) - I didn't notice a Washington Post Article last Sunday that advocated pricing small media off of the internet so that more people would read the important information that can be found in The Washington Post:

For this article, I got newspaper Internet readership statistics from the Web site of the Newspaper Association of America (NAA). But if there hadn't been prior newspaper coverage of the NAA, I might never have found its site. And if I had simply posted the information online, few people would have seen it. By contrast, The Washington Post's print edition reaches about 2 million readers on Sunday, more than 35 percent of whom are likely to read the editorial page, according to a Mediamark Research study.

Which highlights the larger problem: The overload siphons audiences and revenue from newspapers such as The Post and other outlets that can spread important information, forcing these media to shrink and to rely increasingly on advertising to stay afloat. These trends predate the Internet era, but they've gotten worse.

It can't possibly be that part of the problem is that the newspapers have become less and less likely to promote the kind of information that readers want from their newspapers, could it?
Without broad media coverage, the civil rights movement might never have succeeded. In 1965, front-page newspaper coverage of the bloody march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., helped push Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act, write journalists Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff in their 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "The Race Beat." Even the Fairbanks Alaska News-Miner carried the story on the front page for 10 straight days.
Today's Washington Post might not have covered the civil rights movement at all. Millions of people marched against the invasion of Iraq and it certainly didn't get appropriate front-page coverage in the nation's leading newspapers. But that can't possibly have anything to do with it.
It's possible that over time, an energy tax, by making some computers, Web sites, blogs and perhaps cable TV channels too costly to maintain, could reduce the supply of information. If Americans are finally giving up SUVs because of high oil prices, might we not eventually do the same with some information technologies that only seem to fragment our society, not unite it? A reduced supply of information technology might at least gradually cause us to gravitate toward community-centered media such as local newspapers instead of the hyper-individualistic outlets we have now.
The reduced supply of useful information, replaced by useless trivia and GOP lies, is what created the need for small news-based websites. Media that relies on advertising to survive is necessarily restricted to material that supports the advertising. This would be just as true for "community-centered media such as local newspapers" as it is for national papers, and is a significant reason for the decline in readership of established media. It's too expensive to start a newspaper and the ones that exist already are now so tied up with the needs of advertisers and their own corporate interests that few could survive if they really gave a reasonable profile to the news that matters most to people.

The GOP and the larger media outlets conspired to raise the postal rates of smaller periodicals, driving many out of business. This year I've suddenly started getting begging mail from The Nation because subscriptions and advertising alone are no longer making up for their postal costs.

Do the people who created this situation really want to "educate" readers about important social and political matters? No, of course they don't. They want to drive out any information that interferes with their corporate agenda. They want "free speech" to be a protection for them from accountability and competition, but to be too expensive for the rest of us.

Our taxes paid for the development of the internet, and our participation helped it evolve into something that people want to use. We already pay commercially for the equipment to use it, the software, and the bandwidth. Now they want to tax us into silence so that they can monopolize speech here, too. No surprises. And no shame.

(Thanks to Mr. Sideshow for alerting me to this article, but I see that other bloggers have belatedly picked it up, too.)

In other news, the California Assembly has passed single-payer legislation. It'll be interesting to watch what happens next.

Are you registered to vote? Republicans have been working hard to find ways to take people's names off of the rolls, so check to see if you are registered.

14:32 BST

Last off the mark

Triumph Romantic Desire underwired braBra of the Week

Funky office furniture, and the world's largest free-hand drawing, (via)

The view from Everest, and ... hmmm.

Dave Romm reports: "The police from several jurisdictions raided at least three houses in Minneapolis this morning, serving warrants from Ramsey County (St. Paul) apparently with cooperation with the St. Paul police, the Mpls police, the Ramsey County Police and the Hennepin County police. At 3240 17th Ave. S, the police broke down doors, drew guns and took three people away in handcuffs. They confiscated numerous items. I interviewed a resident of the house who was not involved in any planned activity at the Republican National Convention, who saw the warrant and who's life has been affected. He's a very popular guy, and as I was talking to him another reporter came by. Here is the entire interview, unedited." DavE has an .mp3 of an interview he did with one of the residents. They can be held until the convention is over. (Thanks to Dave W. for the tip.) And Lindsay Byerstein also spoke to a homeowner - while the house was surrounded by police: 'You figure this would be going on in South Africa, or Russia, not in St Paul,' Whelan said, marveling at the incongruity of it all,'St. Paul is nice.'

From a couple of days ago, "Retired Generals Scold Bush Administration On Torture, Pentagon Spokesmen: Yesterday evening, ThinkProgress spoke with Lieut. Gen, Harry Soyster and Ret. Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, at a Human Rights First reception honoring retired generals who have spoken out against President Bush's torture policies. Soyster criticized Bush's veto of a bill banning the CIA from waterboarding - a veto Sen. John McCain supported. Soyster said one clear standard on torture was needed" (via)

Of course, there is another way to look the comparison between Palin and Kaine - and rubbing it in Karl Rove's face.

PGL at Angry Bear finds David Frum and Joe Klein in agreement that picking Palin is evidence that McCain is the one who is the risky choice. And PGL also quotes Ruth Rosen on just how "feminist" Palin's group, Feminists for Life, really is.

05:06 BST

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Yes, I've been skiving off all day

Dahlia Lithwick says, "It's the Constitution, Stupid: Pat Buchanan is right. There, I said it. Shoot me. Pat Buchanan and I are both maddeningly frustrated by the Democrats' inability to deliver red meat to their base, even when President Bush has spent eight years hunting, shooting, and filleting that red meat himself. Appearing last night on MSNBC, Buchanan, after arguing that Bill Clinton had utterly failed to rally the crowd about real issues, ended up hollering, 'Has anybody heard the word Guantanamo mentioned this entire convention?' I've been kind of wondering the same thing. But, as she notes, Kerry did mention it - but Buchanan wouldn't have noticed, since, "Almost all the networks had cut away from what may have been the convention's only prime-time mention of the zenith of Bush administration lawlessness." (via)

And, as Jamison Foser notes, political conventions are supposed to be about something more than what the networks wanted to talk about: "Instead, the media treated the convention as purely a political matter -- are the Democrats unified? Should they criticize President Bush and Sen. John McCain more? Was Sen. Hillary Clinton's speech good enough? Too good? (No, really: several journalists suggested that might have been the case.) How many pronouns did she use? Will Sen. Barack Obama get a "bounce" in the polls? ABC's convention coverage actually featured Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts channeling Republican mockery of the stage design for Obama's speech by chanting "Toga! Toga!" Yes, that really happened."

I understand he changed his mind after he got the memo, but even this winger loved Obama's speech in the first blush.

Digby also notices that Palin was a smart choice for McCain, and attacking her might just be full of landmines. Go carefully, my children. (And the media continues to help the Republican.) Some people think Palin is going to make this thing easy, but, sadly, no.

Palin And The Bridge To Nowhere - When Republicans tell you how someone is all clean and uncorrupt and stuff, you know they're lying. Oh, wait, when Republicans say anything they're lying.... Booman notes Eight Women That Are Better Qualified. Er, eight Republican women. They still have a shortage. For some reason. A Heartbeat Away

From last night's Maddow show, David Bender's interview of Gore Vidal, in which he says he expect's Obama will win the election, that we're dealing with thugs, and John McCain should have been court-martialed for crashing his plane - and responds to Bender's query about a potential October Surprise with: "Knowing them? Brace yourself: Assassination." (And made me wonder if the feed is more live than what goes out over the air.)

23:22 BST

Boys will be boys

Yes, I, too, used to think that some moves by politicians were so transparently cynical that no one would fall for them, before I finally absorbed the reality that those moves aren't aimed at the people to whom they are transparently cynical - except, of course, those who respect a cleverly transparently cynical move. I also think people who are laughing and comparing Palin to Dan Quayle need to remember that the ticket he was on won. (Well, okay, maybe not, given what we now know about how early the Bush family started experimenting with election-fixing. But, still.)

I believe Chicago Dyke is correct that Palin is A Dangerous and Intelligent Choice who could be a game-changer if people aren't careful. Both her real personal story and the "clean" reputation she pretends to have are already out there and having an impact, and you can't expect the media to downplay the former and point out the falseness of the latter - this is, remember, a Republican. And CD is exactly right when she warns:

7. Stay Away from the Beauty Queen attack. I really mean this. For many reasons, it's a loser. In the most base sense, I'll remind you that people do in fact, love Beauty Queens. Also, she's smarter than that, and has already proven she understands how to manipulate her opponents, who think to attack her this way thinking that she won't have the brain-power to respond. She does, and she will. Also, there's that whole winger thing of pretending to care about women who are being 'attacked' for being women; they do it (sadly) better than many on our side do. While we should recognize that her looks will play a role in the election, we should be very careful to treat her as a corrupt, Republican politician, and nothing about her gender or appearance. Short version: wingers long for and follow with religious conviction, their "Joan of Arcs." Palin could be one.
My commenters are having mixed reactions, but I think BDBlue is on to something:
I think where Palin will help McCain with women is to give GOP women a reason to vote for the ticket (women generally have been unhappier with Bush than men). But more than that it gives the Dems one more chance to show off that sexist strain of fauxgressivism that we all enjoyed so much during the primary. All ready there are sexist comments being made left and right by Democratic operatives, bloggers and commenters. I don't think it will drive Democratic women to vote for McCain, but it could make it harder to vote for Obama. Not that I'm not going to love watching comments at Kos that say things like Palin's nomination shows that McCain wants to screw our "cuntry" (which at one point had 80+ positive ratings so it's not some lone troll) or all the jokes on the word "mate" or having Palin, who has every bit as impressive a life story as Obama even if she is wrong on everything, reduced to being a beauty queen.

A brilliant pick not because she's going to win over all those Hillary voters but because she gives the Dems an opportunity to remind women that not everyone who hates us has a (R) after their name.

This is going to be so much fun - racism from the right, sexism from the left. America rocks!

Don't think so? Then think about this:
Let me also add that when Tim Kaine, who has exactly the same experience as Palin, was treated by the Media and the Dems as a serious and acceptable potential pick, it opens up charges of a double standard.
It sure does.

By the way, "McOld" is a pretty stupid way to go, too. Go right ahead and alienate those older voters who should be voting Democratic because they really don't want to lose their Social Security.

Of course, if you're sure none of this matters, you can just sit back and enjoy all the fun.

14:44 BST

A bunch of links

Lots of interesting stuff up at After Downing Street:

Glenn Greenwald, writing before Obama spoke, was disappointed in the DNC speeches: "First, there is almost no mention of, let alone focus on, the sheer radicalism and extremism of the last eight years. During that time, our Government has systematically tortured people using sadistic techniques ordered by the White House; illegally and secretly spied on its own citizens; broken more laws than can be counted based on the twisted theory that the President has that power; asserted the authority to arrest and detain even U.S. citizens on U.S. soil and hold them for years without charges; abolished habeas corpus; created secret prisons in Eastern Europe and a black hole of lawlessness in Guantanamo; and explicitly abandoned and destroyed virtually every political value the U.S. has long claimed to embrace." Although in an update he says, "Whatever else one might want to say about it -- and, as speech-giving goes, I think it was superb -- Obama's speech was, by far, the most sharply critical of both Bush and McCain and was extremely effective in those criticisms."

Different priorities: "I have been participating in the National Journal's blogger poll. Tonight's question is 'What would you most like to see Obama accomplish in his acceptance speech?' A majority of left-of-center bloggers said 'Show he grasps Americans' economic problems.' Only two said 'Establish that he's ready to be commander in chief.' The results among right-of-center bloggers is opposite. The majority said 'Establish that he's ready to be commander in chief.' Only two said 'Show he grasps Americans' economic problems.'" (Also: My, McSame certainly is Mr. Grumpy!)

Tweety totally dug Obama's speech.

Ruth is safely back in Texas, and has uploaded the photos she took on her day-trip to Stonehenge and Bath.

01:25 BST

Friday, 29 August 2008

I still can't get over them playing "Power to the People"

So, Palin - someone who, as Atrios observes, none of the "expert" talking heads even thought of for the GOP veepstakes. A governor of a deep red state who is a long-time anti-choicer and gung-ho advocate of drilling in ANWR - why wouldn't they think of Palin? Oh, right, girl parts. But this is a year when the Republicans think they can make hay out of having a woman on the ticket, and the gods know they got nothin' else, so here we are: Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska. Down in comments, Dan remarks: "So the entire Alaska GOP has either been promoted or indicted." (Well, Palin is still being investigated, at any rate....)

At The Poor Man Institute, a study in practical politics. It's good to hear people are organizing to go after them, because Media Whores Online is gone, and Democrats for some reason just refuse to fund an infrastructure for it.

Last night Julia learned What John McCain Looks Like Being Gracious.

But Dan reminds us that Bush is still in the White House destroying our government, and he's filled it with people who will do his bidding because they have nowhere else to go.

As for the rest - well, it's up to you.

18:58 BST


Video of Barack Obama's speech (MSNBC). Prepared text.

That was pretty much the speech I've been saying he should give, and I believe he made some sales with it. I'm willing to bet that a lot of people saw that speech who hadn't heard him sound like that before. Some of them will be people who just watch network TV and so far all they've heard have been pretty abstract-sounding things that seemed to create more distance rather than reach out to them. This was a different speech - good enough that while I was listening to it I (mostly) forgot all the things about him that piss me off. Obama needed to speak to Democrats and populists, and I think he finally did it.

You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.

We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President - when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.

We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job - an economy that honors the dignity of work.

That, I think, is the kind of talk that a lot of people were waiting to hear coming out of Obama's own mouth - people who didn't see it on their televisions before.
We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country. Don't tell me that Democrats won't keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans -- Democrats and Republicans - have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.
It's nice to hear him stand up for his party rather than talk only about how good Republicans are.

I don't mean to imply that Obama didn't say some things that irritated me - I'm sick of hearing that preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is such a priority that it deserves so much focus (and, potentially, squandering whatever is to be gained from getting out of Iraq), and I'd like to hear that getting those contractors out of Iraq is important, too, since they now have a larger presence than our troops, and are considerably more expensive as well as destructive. But I also know that this seems to be required political language now, and I know Obama is no peacenick. I wonder if he knows that the "young preacher from Georgia" he evoked probably wouldn't have approved of it.

But what I mean to say is that that was the speech of a winner.

Now, don't get me wrong - I still think there are some people who will never vote for a black man (and some who will never vote for a woman, either), and I don't for a minute think race has nothing to do with why it's so easy for the talking heads to repeat stupid Republican memes. But I also think the talking heads would be repeating stupid Republican memes anyway, and the fact that they have all these "problems" with Obama has less to do with race than that he is, in the end, the Democrat. They're hammering racially divisive angles because it's a way to attack the Democrat, and they're giving McCain a pass because they've always liked McCain and, anyway, he's not the Democrat.

Last night, though, even the talking heads were Obama's. Greg Mitchell reports that outside of the GOP's Associated Press:

With rare exception, nearly all of the top commentators and reporters on the three cable news networks had hailed Obama's speech as something new and powerful, and filled with specifics, and predicted it would have a positive effect on his chances vs. John McCain. This hallelujah chorus included conservatives such as Bill Kristol and Pat Buchanan and the longtime Republican David Gergen, as well as Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams. Buchanan called it the best and most important political convention speech he had ever heard, going back 48 years.
Now: Just stop talking about PUMA - nothing you can say about them is likely to make them feel like supporting Obama, and mostly serves to alienate them further.

Let's make it about the issues that are important to all of us, and pry Overton's Window open for us as wide as we can, and work the issues, every day, not just until November, but every day after, as well. No matter what.

(Also: Video of Al Gore's speech, at MSNBC, or at YouTube. And Patrick reminds me in comments that both Clinton and Kerry did mention torture in their speeches. My apologies; I haven't been getting much sleep after staying up so late to hear these speeches and still having to get up during the day....)

14:47 BST

President Gore

If you missed Al's speech, the prepared version is up at his blog:

Today, we face essentially the same choice we faced in 2000, though it may be even more obvious now - because John McCain, a man who has earned our respect on many levels, is now openly endorsing the policies of the Bush-Cheney White House and promising to actually continue them, the same policies all over again?

Hey, I believe in recycling, but that's ridiculous.

He hit all the high points. And he said:
After they abandoned the American principle first laid down by General George Washington when he prohibited the torture of captives because it would bring, in his words, "shame, disgrace and ruin" to our nation, it's time for a change.
I wonder if anyone else will mention torture.

03:06 BST


This is what happens when you base your support for Obama on the belief that he is more likely to win, or he'll help with those down-ticket races, etc. (And Franklin D. Roosevelt didn't run on being "post-partisan", by the way.) However, the scuttlebutt is that Obama is finally ready to admit he's a Democrat tonight. 'Bout time.

Reminder: Kevin Drum is now blogging at his new address at Mother Jones; Kevin's old place, Political Animal at The Washington Monthly is now being carried on by Steve Benen (formerly of eight zillion other places; he's suspended The Carpetbagger Report, although his archives persist), and Hilzoy of Obsidian Wings (which is not suspended). BTW, Hilzoy's computer was stolen today at the DNC. Hmph!

"Goodnight Bush" - the flash choir.

01:15 BST

Thursday, 28 August 2008

DNC junk

Since I was watching live last night, let me explain it for Amy Sullivan: The song that was playing as the last elected President of the United States left the stage last night was (a cover of) U2's "Beautiful Day", a song that even I recognize (even if it's a bad cover). They played "Addicted to Love" later.

I'm happy to see Jon Stewart asking Howard Dean a question I've been wanting to ask him: When are the Democrats going to start showing ads quoting some of the things the Republicans have been saying? (I detract points from Jon for the Parthenon stuff. I see big Greek columns, I think "some building in DC." And in whose fantasy was the building I usually think of - this building - not a backdrop for this candidate? (On the other hand, he's sure right that Mark Warner's speech was crap. Why would I be impressed with the instincts of a guy whose first reaction to the idea of cell phones was that no one would want one? I've always wanted one.)

Last night, Bill Clinton's speech had even me thinking "Big Dog". Nice one-two punch from Hill and Bill, and of course Hillary's call to suspend the roll call and declare Obama the nominee by unanimous acclimation was a fine piece of theater. The talking heads have kept making a big deal of speculation that somehow the Clintons were going to screw up the convention, but that was never going to happen, and to anyone who understands how this stuff works, they sounded stupid. (And I include Rachel Maddow in this; her performance over the last few months has been the biggest disappointment in the election coverage - I expected nothing better from the rest of the talking heads, but I hardly recognize the sharp progressive analyst I've been listening to for years since she turned into an ordinary Obama partisan with a Village accent. I'm pleased that she got the job, of course, but having a real progressive on MSNBC isn't going to be worth much if she just turns into another hack.)

The biggest surprise was John Kerry, who looked better and sounded much, much better last night than he did four years ago, and had a much stronger speech (part 1 and part 2), as well. I like the way there's a theme of people "slipping" and saying "George" or "Bush" before "correcting" themselves and saying "McCain" or "John McCain".

The Hill says the Obama team has been tenderizing the red meat in the speeches at the convention. Here's the line they cut out of Dennis Kucinich's speech: "They're asking for another four years - in a just world, they'd get 10 to 20." (via)

Credit where it's due: The NYT very nearly gets it right: "Sixteen years after his father was denied a speaking part at a Democratic convention because his anti-abortion views led him to oppose Bill Clinton's candidacy, Senator Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania told the convention Tuesday night that Senator Barack Obama could bring together supporters and opponents of abortion rights." The rare acknowledgment that his refusal to endorse the nominee was the real reason Casey speaking at the convention was out of the question - but eight other anti-choice people spoke at that convention, so it wasn't just the fact that he opposed abortion, despite the way the zombie lie would have it. Don't look for recognition of that in the rest of the paper, though.

"Listen. Just listen." Everybody's been talking about what the Clintons need to do - but they were always going to do those things, and neither of them is the nominee. It's Barack Obama who needs to convince people himself that they want to vote for him. He needs to get up there and stand for something bigger than "nonpartisanship" and "reaching across the aisle". Barack says precious little about the things that keep people up at night, and until he does, some perfectly decent people will remain unconvinced - and not without good reason. When people don't hear you talk about what concerns them, they have every reason to wonder whether they concern you at all. (Not that he'll make me believe in him, but I'm assuming that you actually want to win.)

In other news: Margaret Cho interviewed in plunge-neckline dress.

13:48 BST

Del Martin, 87, RIP

(08-27) 14:57 PDT SAN FRANCISCO:

-- Del Martin, a lesbian rights pioneer who took part in one of California's first same-sex weddings, died today in San Francisco after a long period of declining health. She was 87.

Ms. Martin's political activism began more than five decades ago when in 1955 she co-founded a ground-breaking lesbian rights organization, Daughters of Bilitis, named after a book of lesbian love poetry. On June 16, she and her partner of 55 years, Phyllis Lyon, were married at San Francisco City Hall by Mayor Gavin Newsom.

"Her last act of activism was her most personal - marrying the love of her life," said Kate Kendell, a long-time friend of the couple and executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.


Newsom, who said Ms. Martin "laid the groundwork for all those who want a life of dignity," ordered the flags at City Hall and the rainbow gay-pride flag on Market Streets to be flown at half-staff until sunset Thursday.

I hardly know what to say. She meant so much to so many of us.

02:14 BST

Links of the moment

The Raw Story is reporting that Ken Blackwell appears to have diverted nearly half a million bucks of GOP federal campaign money to his own gubernatorial campaign. Tsk!

Why, just a couple of posts ago I was quoting Batocchio's complaint that political reporting doesn't have the virtues of sports reporting because sports reporters at least tell you what happened, and now Media Matters comes up with the perfect real-life example of Batocchio's illustration of a Green Bay Packers' game if it were covered the way the Villagers cover politics: "O'Donnell asked why not let McCaskill give a "red meat" speech at the DNC -- McCaskill did, but MSNBC didn't cover. (I note that McCaskill engaged in a bit of wishful thinking, though: "John McCain is running for four more years of the same old politics and exact same failed policies that we had under George Bush." Um, Claire, that's "have", not "had" - we still have Bush and his policies.) (Via Atrios.)

Ruth liked Casey's speech for its populism.

Just what I want to hear: back in my own old stomping grounds, another case of police murdering a guy and lying about it. Someday no one will remember when there was a difference in meaning between the words "security" and "terrorism".

I hope they do run an ad of John Sidney McBush trashing American workers on the television machine.

SEIU has two new videos about the Employee Free Choice Act.

00:22 BST

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Sight and sound

I've been cruising Crooks and Liars and found some stuff I was looking for all in one place. Before we get to the partisan stuff, I'd just like to point out that the guys who were maybe plotting to assassinate Obama were discovered by ordinary police methods and that Homeland Security, the NSA, and the White House, despite being able to tap your phone and read all your e-mail, did not notice what these guys were up to. (Come to think of it, ditto 9/11, although the program was already in place, and of course that little anthrax thing. Why, one would get the impression that no one has ever been looking....) Apparently, the spy-on-Americans program looks for everything except those things that would make us safer.

Kucinich's convention speech: "Wake Up America!"

Ted Kennedy's speech for "the question of my life" - that every American will have decent healthcare as a right and not a privilege.

Hillary Clinton's speech here or here. (I can't believe the dimwits in the comment thread at C&L who are still fighting out the being paranoid about how Hillary secretly gave an insufficient speech. It was a good speech. The primaries are over, give it up. Don't you know where this stuff comes from?)

The final version of the Oregon Dem ad, "We The People".

Elsewhere (and in plain old text), let's take the temperature in Republicanland.... (This clever and linky post also includes a link to a McClatchy story saying the country is definitely more liberal than ever. And happy 100th birthday, Lyndon!)

17:29 BST

Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion

I wasn't happy with a lot of the tributes to Stephanie Tubbs Jones that I saw the other day when the news came that she'd died, but this one comes with a video interview, and talks about her attempts to get our votes counted.

The Myth of the Tragedy of the Commons: "Given the subsequent influence of Hardin's essay, it's shocking to realize that he provided no evidence at all to support his sweeping conclusions. He claimed that the "tragedy" was inevitable - but he didn't show that it had happened even once. Hardin simply ignored what actually happens in a real commons: self-regulation by the communities involved. In short, Hardin didn't describe the behaviour of herdsmen in pre-capitalist farming communities - he described the behaviour of capitalists operating in a capitalist economy. The universal human nature that he claimed would always destroy common resources is actually the profit-driven "grow or die" behaviour of corporations."

Denial of care as a business model - the thread has two bits of personal testimony to the fact that for many people, paying over a grand a month for health insurance is just pissing your money away.

And the race tightens up in...Arizona. (Meanwhile, Liddy Dole doesn't seem to be doing so well, either.)

Remember 'go outside and play'? Why, yes, I can remember when our mothers used to throw us out of the house to get us out of their hair. Didn't hurt me none. (via)

More for you Thomas Frank fans - he takes a cruise through DC-area neighborhoods with a video camera. Oh, and the right-wing footnote problem is back, too. (Also, The Sporting Life: "To strain this metaphor even further (and apologies to all non-sports fans), say the Green Bay Packers were playing the Chicago Bears and scored the first two touchdowns. If our political reporters were sportscasters, David Broder would insist that the Packers should let the Bears score, Sean Hannity would loudly proclaim that the Bears did score, and Cokie Roberts would misreport the score and then proceed to ignore the game.")

Karen Marie claims that if you go to Keith Olbermann's Countdown page, you get the straight live stream from the DNC without anchors or anything, and you can get a bigger picture than that little box on the C-SPAN pages.

I like it, Bartcop is giving away "Worst President Ever" gas-cap stickers to people who give him donations.

12:11 BST

School of hard knocks

In comments, Jack K., the Grumpy Forester, responding to MoDo's recent question:

MoDo asks "Did he fail to absorb the lessons of Vietnam, so that he is doomed to always want to refight it?" The answer would appear to be "probably", and it may well be because his stint as a POW from late '67 to early '73 meant he wasn't around to appreciate the full context of those lessons when they were being taught. His 'Vietnam experience', brutal though it was, was contextually an entirely different experience than that of those who saw - even if only on TV - the assassinations, the marches, the riots, My Lai, the Pentagon Papers, the government killing its own citizens at Kent State and Jackson State, and - night after night, just in time for dinner - young Americans on TV fighting and dying in a war that no longer made any sense.

He didn't see what the Vietnam war was doing to the country and came home to a place far different than it was while he was imprisoned. It seems that, to him, Vietnam was just mismanaged, not a bad idea to begin with...

Just like Iraq, and he wants to "win" it this time.

00:58 BST

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Why I fell asleep

I've listened to a few of the speeches from the convention and it was very hard not to get irritated when I wasn't bored with them. The convention seems, for the most part, to be about what great people the Obamas are, especially Barack, who has a Great American Story and will transcend politics by being transcendent, but Michelle also has a perfectly America story, so she's okay too. There have been a few mentions of important work on important issues, but the media is ignoring that stuff anyway and basically the important thing is: Barack Obama. The only real critique of the Republicans was by a Republican, but the media didn't cover that either because only criticisms of Democrats are worth airtime. It's all putting me into a coma. (Yeah, I'm not immune to the Ted Kennedy thing, especially since he is now all-out for healthcare, but, still.)

Get FISA Right - that's the message a group of people want to get on TV during the period of the GOP convention, and they have a plan.

Note to David Sirota: If you don't want it to be all about the Clintons, stop making it all about the Clintons.

Driftglass is always entertaining, but this one works better if you don't know that Obama has already pretty much promised not to bother holding the Bush administration accountable.

Arthur Silber begins his long-promised series on what's wrong with everything, but I still don't see what can be done about it.

Bill Scher interviews Sam Seder about media infrastructure on the left.

Welcome Back Kotter to Pottersville.

21:56 BST

And the beat goes on

I just noticed that a few real people somehow got trapped in my spam blacklist. How embarrassing. My apologies to anyone who thought they were being spurned.

Glenn Greenwald reports: "AT&T thanks the Blue Dog Democrats with a lavish party: [...] Amazingly, not a single one of the 25-30 people we tried to interview would speak to us about who they were, how they got invited, what the party's purpose was, why they were attending, etc. One attendee said he was with an "energy company," and the other confessed she was affiliated with a "trade association," but that was the full extent of their willingness to describe themselves or this event. It was as though they knew they're part of a filthy and deeply corrupt process and were ashamed of -- or at least eager to conceal -- their involvement in it. After just a few minutes, the private security teams demanded that we leave, and when we refused and continued to stand in front trying to interview the reticent attendees, the Denver Police forced us to move further and further away until finally we were unable to approach any more of the arriving guests." Only tiny sliver of the media thought this was worth mentioning - Democracy NOW!. (You'll be pleased to know that Ron Kovick is outside demonstrating and refusing to be shoved into "free speech zones", declaring that, "I did not give three-quarters of my body in Vietnam in 1968, 40 years ago, to be put inside of a cage!")

Digby appeared on a panel in Denver: "I did find one thing quite interesting, which is that Alter insists that nobody listens to the gasbags and pundits so we shouldn't worry about them. I asked him how he thought people got their information about politics and he said from their talkative coworker or politically engaged relative and things like chain emails. It's apparent that many in the mainstream media have not see the documentation and analysis that's been done online about how the stories and themes of elections, as conceived by political operatives and political pundits, dominate the campaigns and color the voters impressions of the candidates. Maybe the inside of the bubble is too heady a place to be able to connect those dots." Digby still remembers that Jonathan Alter played a significant role in making torture "acceptable".

Charlie Savage had a piece in the NYT the other day about how the administration has packed the immigration bench so thoroughly with illegally-vetted judges that, "Immigrants seeking asylum in the United States have been disproportionately rejected by judges whom the Bush administration chose using a conservative political litmus test, according to an analysis of Justice Department data. The analysis suggests that the effects of a patronage-style selection process for immigration judges - used for three years before it was abandoned as illegal - are still being felt by scores of immigrants whose fates are determined by the judges installed in that period." Of course, this is the problem we now have at every level of government. We gotta get rid of these people. Via Froomkin, who as always has plenty of interesting stuff to read.

Mick Arran: "Not that this is exactly news to many of us but Joe Biden's role in pushing an onerous, anti-consumer bankruptcy bill through Congress with the aid of the GOP and his BD buddies was, it turns out, paid for by large contributions from Delaware banking giant MBNA (Maryland Bank, National Association, now owned by Bank of America) to Biden's campaigns along with "consultancy fees" for his son, Hunter."

I confess to having been entirely unaware of Obama GOTV efforts in Edinburgh.

14:53 BST

And now, a few words

Let us not confuse objectives with methods. Too many so-called leaders of the Nation fail to see the forest because of the trees. Too many of them fail to recognize the vital necessity of planning for definite objectives. True leadership calls for the setting forth of the objectives and the rallying of public opinion in support of these objectives.

Do not confuse objectives with methods. When the Nation becomes substantially united in favor of planning the broad objectives of civilization, then true leadership must unite thought behind definite methods.

The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. The millions who are in want will not stand by silently forever while the things to satisfy their needs are within easy reach.

We need enthusiasm, imagination and the ability to face facts, even unpleasant ones, bravely. We need to correct, by drastic means if necessary, the faults in our economic system from which we now suffer. We need the courage of the young. Yours is not the task of making your way in the world, but the task of remaking the world which you will find before you. May every one of us be granted the courage, the faith and the vision to give the best that is in us to that remaking! -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 22 May 1932

01:20 BST

Monday, 25 August 2008

We walked on frosted fields of juniper and lamplight

Jonathan Schwarz: "Glenn Greenwald just posted an interview with Dennis [Perrin]. They spoke mostly about Dennis's new book Savage Mules: The Democrats and Endless War. I agree with Dennis about the Democrats. But I'm also sure that if the Green Party ever reached a comparable level of power, they'd act in exactly the same way, and then he'd have to write a book called Savage Trees." Also: John McCain achieved the American Dream of being married to the mob.

You may still be able to recall that a few years ago we were talking about how the Republicans always manage to arrange to lower gas prices when there's a re-coronation race in progress. That seems to be happening again, and yes, it should also remind you that it's not just a matter of supply and demand.

Bernie Horn says he can describe What We Stand For - In Twelve Words: "Fair wages, fair markets, health security, retirement security, equal justice...for all."

Cindy Sheehan Bugged in Denver: "Cindy Sheehan returned to her Denver hotel room today to find the door unlocked and ajar. She walked in to discover a man working on her phone, screw driver in hand." (BTW, Op-Ed News does original reporting and could use your help to pay its reporters.)

Yonmei explains why it's not a good idea to use the American Family Association's mail form to send Hallmark a message that says the opposite of what the AFA wants you to say. There are other ways to show your support for Hallmark (including buying a card from them and sending it to them to thank them.)

23:33 BST

I wandered empty streets, down past the shop displays

Atrios, blogging live on the City Paper blog, has posted a photo of the familiar face sitting across from him, who also had taken pictures of familiar faces and posted some video at the Big Tent. (Yes, he'll be doing a regular daily show on Air America's dime with Marc starting in September.) Speaking of which, check out Thom Hartman's interview with Jerome Corsi, in which he takes a somewhat different tack than his usual respectful manner of interviewing - using the same research methods and types of questions that are endemic to Corsi's own work.

I honestly can't remember if I posted about this at the time, but it's always good to have a reminder that one party wants to suppress voting integrity, and it isn't "illegal immigrants": "A little-known legal opinion issued days before Florida's presidential primary has slammed the door on public oversight of the final vote tally in Florida elections."

Matt Yglesias and Atrios discuss Richard Cohen's conviction that it's good enough to fill his column in one of the country's two most important newspapers with very bad fanzine articles that regurgitate Village gossip (and call the rest of us "communists" for disagreeing with him).

Diane explains that the reason the FBI's warnings about the likelihood of increased financial fraud (that is now destabilizing our economy) were ignored was because it was more important to go after pornography and brown people.

Roger Ailes puts McCain's stay in Vietnam in perspective (via).

FrenchDoc joins Stephanie Coontz in celebrating the 45th anniversary of The Feminine Mystique: "An important point that Coontz makes is that gender inequality in the Middle East has more to do with oil than with Islam. Middle-Eastern oil rich countries are more gender-unequal than their oil-poor counterparts. Why? Because countries with oil have centered their economies around that resource, focusing their economics development on extraction, refining, and construction, all men-dominated industries. There is limited room for women in these economies. " (Also: The Obama team still can't resist being unhelpful. What is with them?)

Checking in with Jess, I find him Reporting live from an Inland Empire Starbucks.

"For Emily"

19:30 BST

Political terrain

Frank Rich says: "What we have learned this summer is this: McCain's trigger-happy temperament and reactionary policies offer worse than no change. He is an unstable bridge back not just to Bush policies but to an increasingly distant 20th-century America that is still fighting Red China in Vietnam and the Soviet Union in the cold war. As the country tries to navigate the fast-moving changes of the 21st century, McCain would put America on hold." And he hopes Obama has figured out that the press is not his friend.

Wow, even MoDo reckons McCain has overdone it on the POW card: "While McCain's experience was heroic, did it create a worldview incapable of anticipating the limits to U.S. military power in Iraq? Did he fail to absorb the lessons of Vietnam, so that he is doomed to always want to refight it? Did his captivity inform a search-and-destroy, shoot-first-ask-questions-later, "We are all Georgians," mentality?" (Note to Mo's mom: Lots of men in America are living in boxes.)

Now this is a post that tells you how to vote, and based on how much money you have and which tribe you belong to, I think the choice is clear.

This is interesting - Bob Ney is claiming he got prosecuted because he wouldn't play ball with the Bush cover-ups: "Ney reported that he received communications from Iran, 'Iran would have recognized Israel and a whole host of other things, would have let our inspectors on their ground; and I said that to the White House; I'll stand by that today; the white house denies it, but Colin Powell's former assistant admits that that [document] came over to the State Department and the White House wanted no part of it.'"

I was interested in the idea that "freedom of speech" apparently means being forced to talk to Fox News.

13:12 BST

A lotta links

Just in case you forgot, the GOP labelled Gore as elitist, they labelled Kerry as elitist, and they were going to label Obama as elitist no matter what. They were not waiting for Hillary Clinton to give them their talking points.

Gosh, Stacy McCain, famous white supremacist, is concerned that evil liberal bloggers are complaining about Ron Fournier's clearly partisan bias at AP. Who'd a thunk it?

I don't understand what's going on in Bolivia, and I hope what's going on in Paraguay is as good as it seems.

Two humdingers from Atrios: An idiot who doesn't know that Senators get tax-payer-funded health insurance*, and an astonishing highschool "internet safety presentation" by a cop.*

"U.S. and Global Economies Slipping in Unison" is another headline that should have been on the front page.

So, did McCain agree that we need to reinstitute the draft?

This Week in Tyranny, I learn that , "The Peace Corps, the popular service program that President Bush once promised to double in size, is preparing to cut back on new volunteers and consolidate recruiting offices as it pares other costs amid an increasingly tight budget, according to agency officials.

Debbieleft posts photos of The Homes McCain doesn't want us to see - and Patch Adam provides a little contrast.

A billboard on I-494.

Spencer Davis Group live, 1967

04:07 BST

Sunday, 24 August 2008

This post is not an instruction in how to vote

I guess I should apologize in advance for this, but I just can't seem to stop myself:

The BooMan addresses another astonishingly silly piece by Dan Gerstein in which he misapprehends the ages of Kossacks and Lamont-supporters and appears to think that the problem is post-war baby-boomers who, um, "believe that Republicans are venal bordering on evil, and that the way Democrats will win elections and hold power is to one-up Karl Rove's divisive, bare-knuckled tactics. Their opponents within the party -- who skew younger and freer of culture war wounds -- believe that the way to win is offer voters a break from this poisonous tribal warfare and a compelling, inclusive vision for where we want to take the country."

I'm always interested in this construction that paints fighting back and standing up for principle as adopting "Karl Rove's divisive, bare-knuckled tactics". Allowing the GOP to lie about liberals/Democrats and their policies and even force people into using the GOP's own dishonest language has been the policy of Democrats and "centrists" for the last couple of decades, now, and wanting to depart from that strategy hardly counts as "bare-knuckled", and is "divisive" only in the sense that it suggests that the Tory view may be subject to question. But since most people don't actually agree with the Tory program, you'd think it would make perfect sense to run for office on, and promote, policies that aren't Tory policies.

Instead, we're supposed to continue to make nice with torturers and thieves and pretend they aren't criminals who are wrecking our country. In fact, we're supposed to keep silent under a heavy barrage of even the nastiest lies and murderous policies.

These, of course, are the real "politics of the past" that everyone really, honestly wants to get rid of, but what we're really meant to do is keep on pretending that we haven't been the victims of a consistent, divisive partisan attack, and class war, launched by the Republican Party and the rest of their shadowy Tory friends (in both parties or no party, or, way back in the shadows, internationally).

But BooMan unpacks the falsehood that the Kossack assault on the GOP disinfo war is all about Boomers making trouble by showing that the majority of Kossacks aren't Boomers. Fair enough - a lot of the misapprehension of the Baby-Boomer generation misses the point that we weren't so much overwhelmingly liberal or spacy or rock'n'roll as simply large - that is, there were an awful lot of us, and if enough of us got together to do the same thing, the numbers looked a lot bigger than they (comparatively) really were. Get us one by one and you find that for every long-haired boy walking down the road in 1966, there was always a car-full of jocks ready to come along and beat him up.

Besides, I've always thought that it's very likely that Boomers probably made up a significant percentage of that minority of Democrats who voted for Lieberman rather than Lamont - out of habit rather than any understanding of the issues at stake - in the 2006 election. Many of them may have been politically active in the '60s, or at least the sort of person who read the newspaper to find out what was going on, and no longer paying attention in the present to the details of what Lieberman has been up to, lately. There are those who still reliably vote Democratic on the assumption that any Democrat has to be better than any Republican (which was never true in Lieberman's case, but if you weren't someone who got into the details, you wouldn't have noticed that Lieberman won by running to the right of the Republican he ousted, Lowell Weicker). A lot of people see presidential elections and think you can duplicate the result all the way down to the local school board level. Besides, Lieberman managed to get that endorsement from NARAL and their continued support on the grounds of his visible (and mostly irrelevant) floor votes, and no one including NARAL was paying attention to his counterproductive machinations earlier on in the legislative or confirmation process. So, yes, out of habit, I think a lot of less-engaged Boomers just routinely voted for "the Democrat".

(Neither Gerstein nor BooMan discusses the fact that in the 2006 campaign itself, Lieberman very overtly and publicly lied about his sudden, temporary, opposition to the continued occupation of Iraq. If both candidates wanted out of Iraq, and one was experienced and one was not, why would you vote for the new guy?)

As BooMan says, the distinction was not generational. But it was based largely on who was paying attention. It had nothing to do with "new" or "old" politics, either, but on whether you recognized that Lieberman's role had become far more visibly destructive (and partisan - on behalf of the other side) than it had been 20 years earlier.

So BooMan does a lot of good work taking a look at the numbers, but I think he falls into a trap himself of trying to make a distinction between the politics "of the past" and of the Obama movement. For one thing, he's lumping one "past" with another; the politics of the recent past (the conservative surge and Democratic capitulation of the last few decades) isn't the politics the Boomers grew up on or what liberal Boomers practiced in the '60s, it's just the cut-throat Republican politics. It's already divisive and partisan, but it's not the doing of liberal outsiders who were engaged with politics in "the past".

The people who were an active part of the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement don't actually deserve the kind of slam they've been getting. They were issue-driven, not "politics"-driven. In fact, the generational attack is just creating more divisiveness.

White activist liberal Boomers and the black leadership are not the ones who've been responsible for couching every issue in terms of party politics rather than in terms of the impact of policies on real Americans, but all of this "post-partisan" and anti-"politics of the past" language comes across as a slam against some of the best and hardest-working people in American politics. Attacking them for their age, their "old" way of thinking, and for their alleged racism has not been endearing. (The added insult of charging some of them with being bitter old women or caught in an also bitter Oedipal struggle hasn't helped much, either.)

And it's wrong. That passion and analysis "of the past" is precisely what's been lacking and desperately needed for the last 30 years that the Tories have pushed it into the background and turned it into a shallow caricature. A politics that pretends that racism and sexism are no longer pervasive and crippling is a lie. A politics that pretends that there was something unseemly about a large segment of a generation being outraged at persistent insults to the dignity and the flesh of real people both at home and abroad is soulless. A politics that insists on ignoring real sexism and racism while promoting both is not promising of hopeful change. Martin Luther King's impassioned words against not just racism but of war and poverty - and of how these are inextricably intertwined - are as relevant today as they were when he first spoke them.

Today in America, a higher percentage than ever of black people, some of them children, are imprisoned for crimes and infractions that are more often committed by whites. Black men know that in certain neighborhoods they can expect to be pulled over and sometimes beaten bloody by the police merely for being there. Whites take more drugs, but blacks go to jail for it more often. Black neighborhoods are being trashed by our drug policies. And do I have to talk about the death penalty?

When I said that Joe Biden was the best we could hope for from Obama, that wasn't a compliment or even much of a sigh of relief, it was a condemnation. Joe Biden is a drug warrior, and that makes him one of the most dangerous people in America for the black community (and ultimately, of course, for us all). The War on Some Drugs (and some classes and colors of people who use those drugs) has possibly been the single worst policy in the whole of American politics. It has normalized the idea that the police can routinely violate every single civil right we supposedly have on what amounts to little more than a whim, and act in the most vicious ways on little or no provocation, merely on the utterance of certain words (not deeds) such as "drugs", or "terrorism", or "pornography". It now seems to be legal for the cops to beat you up (or taser you) just for swearing in their hearing range.

We are now seeing the fruition of another ugly policy Biden was a strong proponent of in the foreclosure crisis that was so dramatically exacerbated by Biden's beloved bankruptcy bill. Make all the excuses you want, but there was no moral justification for that bill and it was obvious at the time.

And the children of the most devastated neighborhoods, having little future on offer, join the standing army we are not supposed to have and help fight to defend the only inalienable right that seems to exist anymore: the right of Malefactors of Great Wealth to make war on other nations to make themselves even more rich and powerful. (Then they can come home and help populate our prisons to make some other Malefactors in the prison-and-security industry rich.) Joe Biden is a "national security" Democrat, which appears to mean he's an "engage with other nations by blowing some of them up" Democrat. Yay.

That's the same Joe Biden who as much as declared every good, hard-working black leader in history to be dirty and ugly and stupid and inarticulate when he described Barack Obama as being the first to depart from this caricature. It's okay! After all, he didn't say "spadework". He didn't say, "As far as I know." (Not that I wanted to see Hillary Clinton in the presidency, but this is actually starting to seem worse than my most nightmarish speculations about Clinton.)

So, we enhance the credibility of someone who just casually runs around saying racist stuff, we see hair-trigger charges of "racism" against any less-than-laudatory discussion of Obama - helping to inoculate the right-wing against legitimate charges of racism - and we consign people who have a real critique of racism in America to a dead and diseased "politics of the past". That's just ... peachy.

As I said above, this post isn't about me telling you how to vote. But it is about how you can't trust politicians, you can't wait for one guy to come and be your leader - you have to fight like hell to push the country in the right direction, and you can't just pretend that the fight is over at the election, or that you can break the work up into electoral cycles. You can't blame the older generation or the younger generation, you can't let people get divided up by race or sex or by whatever jobs they do or talismans they wear. You have to recognize that we're all in this fight, that we all have things to bring to the table and concerns that matter. We are not "special interests", we are We The People, and that matters more than any individual politician or any tribal signifiers that might, even for an instant, make you forget that your real enemy is someone who is not listening and will not be stung by your insults, although your potential allies will be.

And always remember:

"Just because you're on their side doesn't mean they're on your side." - TNH

21:17 BST

Communication breakdown

Julia reports from the Department of What Liberal Media that The AP's Fournier problem Is a Sign of a Bigger Problem With AP Board Chairman Singleton:

Clearly Mr. Boehlert is right - the AP has a Ron Fournier problem. The question is, why does the AP have a Ron Fournier problem? Could it be because William Dean Singleton, the Chairman of the AP Board and a man who owns a lot of newspapers, has a Democrat problem?

[...]See, Mr. Singleton has a bit of a Cause. He's a big fan of relaxing the FCC regulations banning cross-media ownership. Here, he discusses Michael Powell's short-lived rules change allowing people who own a lot of newspapers, like, say, Mr. Singleton, to also own a lot of TV stations in the same market [quote elided]

And the fight still goes on, with Barack Obama solidly defending the people's right to media diversity (such as it is anymore) and John McCain working hard on behalf of Singleton.

(It's not just AP that wants the rules change, nor is AP the only media organization that is benefiting from right-wing policies - you won't find The Washington Post suddenly developing a conscience about this stuff when there is so much money involved for them in these things, either.)

And so, the call to action:

Jane's e-mail action to tell the AP and the newspapers which subscribe to it how we feel about all this is here. Be respectful, remember that the person who reads your e-mail almost certainly isn't in a decision-making role and may well agree with you, and happy hunting.
I'd like to think Obama's position on this - which is, make no mistake, important - tells us something about where he really is on the issues. My problem is that so much else that he does appears to be working in the other direction, undermining one after another of liberal voices, causes, positions, strengths. BTC News on what for many is an essential question: "I've become an increasingly adamant Obama opponent, but not because I think the winner in November is insignificant. It's just that as someone who has travelled that archipelago of disappointment for longer than most, and watched it get more populated almost daily, I fully expect Obama to finish the job of discrediting the Democratic party among Democrats should he win. Conversely, I expect McCain to make anyone to the right of Leon Trotsky look really, really good. So to my mind the question isn't whether or not the outcome matters, but whether or not the ends justify the means. Does the less punitive Obama presidency justify flushing away what little credibility the Democrats possess? Is shocking the country hard to the left an outcome worth buying at the cost of one or two malevolent and bloody McCain terms?" Like Weldon, I find the prospect of an expanding population of dead bodies under a McCain presidency too horrific to want to entertain, but the alternative appears to be no better than a devil's bargain all the same.

13:49 BST

Hot satin and other things

Gossard Superboost Satin plunge braBra of the Week

Eric Boehlert and Jamison Foser more than once a week! They're blogging together at County Fair. Via Digby, who also ponders how to show voters the bottom line.

Can you guess these accents? (via)

God is Republican!

Michael Moore was the latest guest on Meet the Bloggers, and I was surprised to hear him buying the claim that Obama has the most liberal record in the Senate. It's just not true. (via)

"The Haves, the Have Mores and the McCains: Eight years ago, then Governor George W. Bush revealingly joked about his backers at the 2000 Al Smith Dinner. "This is an impressive crowd - the haves and the have-mores," Bush said, adding, "Some people call you the elites; I call you my base." With his own quip Saturday night that "$5 million" is his definition of rich," John McCain made no mistake that he is Bush's natural heir."

I see that Greg Gordon at McClatchy also picked up the theme that When it comes to trust-busting, McCain's no Roosevelt: "McCain and consumer groups speak of the same goals: more competition, better service and lower prices. But consumer groups think that government must intervene to curb monopolies, while McCain contends that deregulation breeds competition."

Since my commenters want to talk about David Cay Johnson's take on the Republican attack on Social Security, I thought I'd look for some stuff from him and found this post from January recommending some of his stuff, including his interview on Bill Moyers' Journal.

02:33 BST

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Getting it over with

Joe Biden on the issues - It's a mixed bag, and I can't say I'm thrilled with the way it's mixed, but I suppose you'd say he was straddling something closer to the real center than most "centrists" ever do. Not many people noticed that he regretted his AUMF vote in 2005, and he has made statements advocating that we get out of Iraq. Generally pro-choice record, though ambivalent on D&E termination, and opposed publicly-funded abortion. Voted for bankruptcy bill but has low rating from "pro-business" groups. Mixed on most other issues as well, although the NAACP rather likes him. On some things, he seems to have been moving to the left from less attractive positions over the years. Bob Herbert likes him for bringing the populism. He's very pro-Amtrak and takes the train to work. He's also pretty much as un-monied personally as Senators get. Of anyone Obama was likely to have chosen, I expect Biden was probably the best.

Right-wing hack Ron Fournier found a way to spin the Biden announcement as showing a "lack of confidence" on Obama's part. (More about AP crap at MyDD.) I wonder how he'd have slammed it if he'd picked Sebelius instead. (Actually, there are a number of pluses with Biden, most notably that he's got the ability to present a sharp retort that most of the others suggested wouldn't be capable of. Once Clark was ruled out, Biden was pretty much all that was left. Playing attack dog is pretty much the job of a running-mate. But the cat-and-mouse game Obama played with this was pretty damned annoying.)

OK, this is going to come up, so you might as well arm yourselves: "Whenever Biden used the speech, he cited Kinnock, and the emotional power of the words were magnified by the fact that the words could apply to an American Senator and a British MP along with many people in the audience. But one time, Biden forgot to cite Kinnock when he read the speech, and Michael Dukakis's campaign slammed him for it. Shortly thereafter, someone dug up an old record showing that Biden had been accused of plagiarism in law school, though conveniently ignoring the fact that Biden had been cleared of any wrongdoing. By the time Biden refuted both charges, the damage had been done, and Biden had been forced to quit the race."

22:31 BST


I am surprised to learn from Scott Lemieux that Richard Posner has written an article dissenting from the Heller ruling on gun control. Scott says, "It's a useful corrective to the glib certainty of the majority opinion and its strongest supporters. And yet, it's frustrating in its own right." Among other things, and typically for a conservative judge, Posner entertains the fantasy that judicial "activism" is a new phenomenon introduced by liberals in the 20th century, when in fact conservative judges have been doing it all along - and Posner sure didn't mind that extraordinary bit of meddling in Bush v. Gore.

All of this reminds me that I've been meaning to mention that one of the "killer" arguments that the wingers have used against Roe v. Wade is that the word "privacy" appears nowhere in the Constitution/Bill of Rights. There's a really good reason for that: the very word "privacy" did not mean then what it means today. What it means today is pretty much what the Bill of Rights is all about. What it meant then was what you did in the privy, something I don't think the Founders even imagined they'd have to refer to.

13:40 BST

Under a misty moon

"How Do We Avoid Executing the Innocent? Joseph Tydings is a former U.S. senator from Maryland. As a former U.S. attorney and as a private lawyer, he has prosecuted and defended death penalty cases. Tydings therefore has credibility when he argues that the risk of executing the innocent is simply too great." (It's funny, Ruth and I were talking about Joseph Tydings today - a name I hadn't heard or even thought about in years, and then I go over to TL and TChris has this post up.)

Sarah Blustain at TNR says in "Life Sentence": "Stop kidding yourself: John McCain is a pro-life zealot. Moreover, say advocates, he is not open to dialogue. 'Whether it's abortion care, birth control, or comprehensive sex education, McCain is not moderate or a maverick,' says Donna Crane, policy director of NARAL Pro-Choice America and a key lobbyist on these questions. 'We never ask--and we never hear pro-choice Republicans question--whether McCain will be with us on a vote. He's always on the wrong side.'" Via Under the LobsterScope, where I also learned that a recent poll says a majority of Americans now say churches should stay out of politics.

Why did Mother Jones let Justin Elliot do a fake review of Uncounted, and why did he get it so wrong? (Also: Is there really much point in replacing existing unreliable voting machines with other machines that also don't work?)

Driving is down and car accidents are down, but the insurance companies want to hike your insurance.

When Wainwright performed "Dead Skunk" over here, he explained that a skunk is like a hedgehog. No it isn't! Anyway, I thought these kids did an amusing video for the song.

01:00 BST

Friday, 22 August 2008

Your happening world

To celebrate the American Family Association's boycott of Hallmark for selling gay wedding cards, you might want to send AFA a Hallmark card.

It certainly is puzzling that our media has found so many ordinary things (like drinking orange juice) risible when Democrats do them, and yet they don't consider it worth remarking on that McCain has more superstitions than a comic book character. I guess it's because he has an endless supply of these.

Not reassuring: "The theme that the McAyn campaign has fallen into lately is that as a POW their candidate lost his memory or fell into the helplessness syndrome, and now his wife is the source of information about functional things like how many houses, children, wars, important events and the like are in his knowledge. Does this increase anyone's comfort level with having a basically dysfunctional occupant of the White House for another term?"

Among a number of items well worth reading from Froomkin, a good reason to impeach Mukasey ("James Oliphant blogs for the Chicago Tribune: "Attorney General Michael Mukasey intends to let Congress have its say before signing controversial new guidelines that reportedly broaden the FBI's authority to conduct investigations. But he will not delay their implementation.") and a song by LL Cool J's addressed to "Mr. President".

Norman Solomon, "Progressives and Obama: The Clash of Narratives [...] In an odd and ironic way, progressives who are unequivocal Obama boosters and unequivocal Obama bashers embrace similar concepts of limited alternatives in electoral work. They seem to rule out candidly critical support of a candidate -- viewing such an option as either a betrayal of the candidate or a betrayal of principles. But supporting one candidate -- clearly preferable to the Republican -- should not require a lack of candor about the preferred candidate's defects. And progressive interests are not advanced by claiming, against the evidence, that it doesn't really matter which candidate wins."

Atrios is pretty sure that people will be interested to learn that McCain spends more on servants than most people make in a year. (Also, Jim Wallis patronizing crap about abortion earns him the Wanker of the Day title.)

What if Hillary was right?

Those Who Did Not Go Crazy - and many were heroes.

Sidney and Cindy McCain's humble Phoenix home.

A dozen strippers, seven houses, Keating Five, three planes, one aircraft carrier, and a partridge in a pear tree....

20:14 BST

Stealing history

Ruth and I have just wandered the length and breadth of India Town. While I recover, read this post from Jesurgislac and discuss (a) other stolen histories, (b) other political songs, and (c) why the wingers have to steal from the other side:

How conservatives even steal the dead - and why Roseanne Carter is pissed at the McCain crowd. (So add the Man in Black to the list that starts with MLK and now includes the founding fathers and every decent president we've ever had, eh? Lots or rolling over going on in those graves.)

17:11 BST

Campaign crazy

If I didn't know that John McCain was a POW, I would suspect that his campaign had sent out talking points to David Broder (WaPo), Politico, Bill Kristol, The Weekly Standard and the whole gang informing them that McCain was prescient about Putin and Russia because of all his experience and his understanding of such matters going back through the decades, although it seems that once upon a time it didn't occur to him that George Walker Bush sounded like a buffoon when said he trusted Putin because he'd looked into his soul - gave him "high marks" for his soul-reading, in fact. Why, Bush liked Putin's phony "we're all Christians on this bus" story about his grandmother's (non-existent) cross that he'd had blessed in Israel, that Bush decided he could trust and not verify with the guy, declining to bug his hotel room. This is, you will remember, the same George Bush who bugged the UN delegations (even from friendly nations).

Doing the math: At Open Left, tremayne has a discussion of two new Obama ads and asks readers to compare the two. On focus and content, I agree with most readers who thought the first one was better - except for the arithmetic. First the ad tells you that McCain won't cut your taxes at all, then it says simultaneously that Obama will cut middle-class taxes three times as much as McCain and three times more than McCain. Even plenty of low-information voters will hear that and go, "Let's see, three times nothing is...." (An even newer ad was later added to the discussion.) One commenter noted that the AFL-CIO's mailer was pretty good, too.

This video is an interview by Mike Signorile of right-wing crackpot Bill Donahue of the Catholic League, in which Donahue reads off dirty language on the air - but I'm just linking to it because I like Mike Signorile.

I haven't actually weighed-in on whether Obama should have involved himself in the latest Jesus fest, but since I have been credited with doing so, I left a comment.

12:15 BST

All the news in bits

Atrios can be so wonderfully succinct - the whole post says, "A Man Of The People: Like many Americans, John McCain has a hard time remembering just how many homes he owns."

Glenn Greenwald discusses the absurd concern of Serious People that, by giving Rachel Maddow, an actual liberal, her own TV show, MSNBC is forsaking the historically objective values of TV news ordinarily found on Fox (Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Britt Hume), CNN (Glen Beck, Nancy Grace), and MSNBC itself (Joe Scarborough, Michael Savage, Tucker Carlson), and polluting the media landscape with partisanship. You know, some people really need to read News Hounds.

"Thought Control In Economics: A high level of conformity in academic institutions makes it difficult for economists to tackle the world's most pressing problems."

The complete Veepstakes (both teams) by the Medium Lobster can now be found at Grauniad Comment is free.

Oh, look, you could buy some old fanzines Anne-Laurie and I did for...twenty-seven dollars?!? (Thanks to Gary for the heads-up.)

I got an e-mail from Sam Seder saying he and Maron are doing a show on the SammyCam Friday at 3:00 PM Eastern and that they will have An Announcement. (Also, they're doing daily shows for the Dem convention with Sam live in Denver and Marc live from his kitchen.)

01:22 BST

Thursday, 21 August 2008

A few things

Ruth has arrived safely from Texas and has just unveiled a care package which contains, among other things, four boxes of Saltines and a cup of Divinity. I'd never heard of it, but she says it's an institution in the south, and one time she offered some to Lyndon Johnson when he came by in the federal building in Austin and he just grabbed a big handful and "unashamedly munched".

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals says passengers can challenge the no-fly list: "Critics of the government's secret no-fly list scored a potentially important victory Monday when a federal appeals court ruled that would-be passengers can ask a judge and jury to decide whether their inclusion on the list violates their rights." Of course it does, but if a jury agrees, does that mean they'll actually take you off of it? (The sad thing is that it was only a 2-1 decision and not unanimous.)

I see General Petraeus has been helping the Christianist cause and causing a bit of stir.

I don't understand this post from Kevin Drum. I mean, the Republicans have been behaving like it's the end of the world ever since a Democrat "stole" the White House "from them" in 1992.

Ralph Reed radioactive - He seemed to be helping to organize a fundraiser and mail went out over his name, but he was mysteriously absent from the event itself....

Conservatives work hard to help shoehorn insufficiently-tested drugs through the approval process, and allow them onto the market even when they've failed to show a reasonable level of safety. But one drug that had gone through the process without their help didn't conform to their other goals, so they've been pretending that the Clinton administration cut corners to get it onto the market. So they demanded an investigation into whether Clinton rushed the process to get the drug out. That drug was RU-486, and the GAO investigation says these forced-pregnancy freaks are full of it.

Imagine helping your neighbors by fixing their lawn-mowers and other items in your garage - without payment - and then having the city charge you with operating an illegal business. Alas, the story doesn't tell us who was responsible for bringing this nefarious endeavor to the attention of the authorities....

14:17 BST

Linkin' and blinkin'

Rick Perlstein say a fact too many Democrats have trained themselves to ignore is that what we need is A Liberal Shock Doctrine: "The Oval Office's most effective inhabitants have always understood this. Franklin D. Roosevelt hurled down executive orders and legislative proposals like thunderbolts during his First Hundred Days, hardly slowing down for another four years before his window slammed shut; Lyndon Johnson, aided by John F. Kennedy's martyrdom and the landslide of 1964, legislated at such a breakneck pace his aides were in awe. Both presidents understood that there are too many choke points - our minority-enabling constitutional system, our national tendency toward individualism, and our concentration of vested interests - to make change possible any other way." (He also says there's no mystery about The McGovern Mystery - that, despite his having been such a fiery opponent of the war in Vietnam, he was never exactly much of a union supporter.)

Paul Krugman presents: The python theory of inflation! (Also: The Greek menace!)

Offered a deal he hopes to negotiate into one he can't refuse, The General agrees to sell his soul on net neutrality.

Thanks to Anna for tipping me off to this totally depressing little post from Hunter expressing a growing sense of despair about repairing our system.

The "centrists" claim Obama needs to move to the right. Well, how much farther do they expect him to go. Oh, probably that far.

The totally fake Beijing Olympics (Thanks to Rich.)

MadKane has Some Friendly Advice For Obama

Wolfgang's has some Gary U.S. Bonds.

01:11 BST

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Continuing nightmares

Thom Hartmann's interview with Mark Crispin Miller Tuesday (third hour) informed me of many things I did not know, such as that the person who wrote the infamous Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was Bob Ney (recently returned from doing time in prison), and that Velvet Revolution has set up a special page dedicated to their attempt to prosecute Karl Rove under the RICO laws at One thing Thom and Mark discuss is the fact that exit polls were always accurate until the 1988 New Hampshire primary, when George Herbert W. Bush was running for the Republican nomination, and that the Bush/Rove technowizard who has been involved with their election fraud is the same guy who runs the e-mail system in the White House and the Capitol that's been disappearing mail and also making all the mail there accessible to Republican spying. Perhaps some of you might also want to think about that in the context of FISA....

From the Dept. of the War on Tourism, Emily Feder says, "At JFK Airport, Denying Basic Rights Is Just Another Day at the Office: "I was recently stopped by Homeland Security as I was returning from a trip to Syria. What I saw in the hours that followed shocked and disturbed me. [...] In the past five years I have worked for human rights and refugee advocacy organizations in Serbia, Russia and Croatia, including the International Rescue Committee and USAID. I have traveled to many different places, some supposedly repressive, and have never seen people treated with the kind of animosity that Homeland Security showed that night. In Syria, border control officers were stern but polite. At other borders there have been bureaucracies to contend with -- excruciating for both Americans and other foreign nationals. I've met Russian officials with dead, suspicious looks in their eyes and arms tired from stamping so many visas, but in America, the Homeland Security officials I encountered were very much alive -- like vultures waiting to eat."

At, another Viet Vet who ended his tour as a POW for several years talks about "Why I Will Not Vote for John McCain [...] People often ask if I was a Prisoner of War with John McCain. My answer is always "No - John McCain was a POW with me." The reason is I was there for 8 years and John got there 2½ years later, so he was a POW for 5½ years. And we have our own seniority system, based on time as a POW. [...] I furthermore believe that having been a POW is no special qualification for being President of the United States. The two jobs are not the same, and POW experience is not, in my opinion, something I would look for in a presidential candidate."

The polls now appear to be showing McCain even or ahead in the polls: "John McCain is gaining in the polls nationally, according to several independent measures. The general consensus among political analysts is that McCain's relentless personal attacks on Obama are taking their toll. Obama's week-long vacation and McCain's saber-rattling during the Georgia/Russia conflict didn't help the Democratic candidate, either. McCain pulled ahead of Obama in Reuters/Zogby's latest national poll, the results of which were released this morning. The live operator telephone survey of likely voters showed McCain leading Obama 46 percent to 41 percent--a spread outside the poll's three-point margin of error. An identical poll conducted last month had Obama in the lead. [...] The latest Zogby result is definitely an outlier compared to other polls taken during the same time period. Real Clear Politics' average of national poll results taken since August 4 shows Obama retaining a lead of 1.2 percentage points." The map at now shows the EV at Obama 264, McCain 261. Thanks for locking yourself into that post-partisan, non-negative corner, Barack. Didn't anyone tell you that Republicans want to vote for Republicans, and no one wants to vote for a Democrat who thinks he can win by sounding like a Republican? (I gotta say, I really liked this map a whole lot better....)

19:41 BST


From John McCain's own original account of that time he is so reticent to talk about:

I think it was on the fourth day that two guards came in, instead of one. One of them pulled back the blanket to show the other guard my injury. I looked at my knee. It was about the size, shape and color of a football. I remembered that when I was a flying instructor a fellow had ejected from his plane and broken his thigh. He had gone into shock, the blood had pooled in his leg, and he died, which came as quite a surprise to us-a man dying of a broken leg. Then I realized that a very similar thing was happening to me.

When I saw it, I said to the guard, "O.K., get the officer." An officer came in after a few minutes. It was the man that we came to know very well as "The Bug." He was a psychotic torturer, one of the worst fiends that we had to deal with. I said, "O.K., I'll give you military information if you will take me to the hospital." He left and came back with a doctor, a guy that we called "Zorba," who was completely incompetent. He squatted down, took my pulse. He did not speak English, but shook his head and jabbered to "The Bug." I asked, "Are you going to take me to the hospital?" "The Bug" replied, "It's too late." I said, "If you take me to the hospital, I'll get well."

"Zorba" took my pulse again, and repeated, "It's too late." They got up and left, and I lapsed into unconsciousness.

Sometime later, "The Bug" came rushing into the room, shouting, "Your father is a big admiral; now we take you to the hospital."

So it wasn't the pain that broke McCain, it was the realization that he was going to die. And he was not saved by his own forbearance or by his new willingness to cooperate, but by the fact that his father was important. McCain was a screw-up bomber pilot (not a fighter pilot) who kept crashing his planes and got caught on his last run. That's not heroism. McCain's account includes the deaths of others who were not so well-connected, including those who were able to hold out to the end. All of the real heroes in his story are dead. Just sayin'. (Thom Hartmann went through some of this on his show Monday in hour one.)

Oh, and let's not forget, John McCain opposed the new GI Bill and is now taking credit for its passage.

* * * * *

No, I haven't heard from Arthur Silber, either, and I'm just as worried as you are. I do have a friendly (though sporadic) correspondence with Arthur and would hope to hear from him if anything was up, but there's nothing in the in-box.

14:49 BST

If I had some bacon, I could have bacon and eggs

Bob Herbert on a candidate who is awash in oil money: "To put it mildly, that was not very Rooseveltian. Around the same time that the McCain campaign was pocketing its oil industry windfall, the historian Douglas Brinkley was poring over letters in which Roosevelt, running for his first full term as president in 1904, was indignantly ordering his campaign to return a $100,000 contribution from the Standard Oil Company." McShame also lies about his relationship to pork.

Greg Mitchell on Tom Shales' creepy slur on Helen Thomas: "In suggesting that the Rory Kennedy HBO documentary on Helen Thomas performed "cosmetic surgery" on the legendary reporter's alleged major "flaw" - a rabid anti-Israel bias -- Tom Shales of The Washington Post revealed, instead, what the Thomases of the world are up against in the media. To criticize Israel at all in the U.S. media generally provokes this kind of outraged and outrageous response. Of course, in Israel itself, Israelis criticize their own government and policies all the time."

Looks like I missed the story of how Obama's Muslim outreach coordinator resigned from this volunteer position after claims of his ties to a fundamentalist imam who once served on the board of an organization that he also served on.

Correction: McCain didn't steal the cross-in-the-dirt story from Solzhenitsen after all - he stole it from right-wing fabrications that Solzhenitsen had said it.

Fafblog (the only source of Fafblog) covers Veepstakes 2008 (Republican): "While the Democratic veepstakes is being driven largely by a search for qualities like Strength, Experience, and other ways to say Penishood, Republicans this year will be looking for candidates with a kind of energy or vitality, what the French call a certain having-a-pulseness. Once again we ask: who has what it takes? Who can check if the president's still breathing at a state dinner while maintaining an air of dignity and resolve? Who can project the confidence and authority America expects from its leaders while wiping the dribble off the Commander-in-Chief's chin? This week: the Republicans."

12:43 BST

News and analysis

Thanks to CMike and Bruce F. for dropping the following links into the comments* below:

Cookie Jill alerts us that those spaces between the old TV channels - the "white space spectrum" - are up for grabs and could revolutionize wireless services if they are put in our hands.

Bob Somerby on the idiot press and how the define Democrats, and who won't be the vice presidential pick, and why.

The Rachel Show: "Just in time for the closing rush of the presidential election, MSNBC is shaking up its prime-time programming lineup, removing the long-time host -- and one-time general manager of the network - Dan Abrams from his 9 p.m. program and replacing him with Rachel Maddow, who has emerged as a favored political commentator for the all-news cable channel." Rachel confirmed the story on-air and says she also plans to remain on AAR in her current timeslot. (There's also a post on her blog repeating the news. And also at TRMS blog, Dukakis offers advice to Obama: "Don't do what I did".)

In other changes, Kevin Drum announces he will be moving from The Washington Monthly to Mother Jones; he'll be replaced by Steve Benen and Hilzoy at the old place.

02:32 BST

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Good news and bad news

Conyers Calls Committee Back from Summer Recess to Investigate Suskind Allegations:

"The 110th Congress isn't over. We're starting our work, and then we're doing it in a period where the Congress is in recess. I'm calling everybody back." -- John Conyers on DemocracyNow, Aug.14,2008

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers has taken the highly unusual step of calling his committee back from summer recess in order to investigate allegations by Ron Suskind that the Bush administration forged a letter to buttress the links made between Saddam and 9/11, and Saddam and WMD. The congressional Authorization for the Use of Force Against Iraq, the ""War Resolution" which, as far short as it fell of a congressional declaration of war, gave the invasion its constitutional legal cover, and gave Bush the authorization to invade only after he had certified to congress the existence of these two critical links. If Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11, and if he did not possess WMD, the war was off.

Schneier on Security - the book! Yeah, bunches of Bruce's expertise all in one package you can give out to people as gifts. Cool. Bruce is really good at making these issues sound as simple as, in truth, they really are. People try to hoodwink you with babble about how complicated all this technology stuff is, but it really isn't - it's the same as it was before we all had our little computers, and there's just no reason at all to change our lives and our laws to accommodate all this government paranoia.

Would you buy used campaign spin from this man?

McShame is unfit to lead, via Scarabus, who is unsure why his(?) candidate is blowing off Wes Clark. Via Cannonfire, who says Obama is a "backpacker" candidate.

23:20 BST

More tales of absurdity

Oh, here's a good one I just got in the mail from "Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) introduced a bill that would amend the Social Security Act to require States to implement a drug testing program for applicants for and recipients of assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.  If an applicant fails a drug test, or was convicted of a drug related crime they can be denied aid. Also, states would be allowed to require random or set time drug tests.  A person can be permanently denied aid if they fail three drug tests or receive three drug related convictions. Read the details of the bill - The Drug Free Families Act of 2008 [Link]"

I heard a rumor that Mikulski is actually being talked about in some quarters as a VP pick, presumably because of her excellent credentials on reproductive choice. Well, really, it's worth your time to see the rest of her voting record. She's (mostly) okay on gay rights, and has voted the right way when the whole Democratic leadership was doing it, but she's been shocking on a whole lot of progressive issues - and of course, her FISA vote.

You know, it really does stick in my craw that Casey, whose claim to fame seems to be keeping the zombie lie about his father alive, will be speaking at the convention (about the "unborn"!) when there doesn't appear to be a place for Wes Clark. This is just stupid. The less than 20% of Americans who support a so-called Human Life Amendment aren't going to vote for Democrats in any event, and pandering to them will just alienate the majority. But Wes Clark brings the real military/security muscle home, and he's also a man with the guts to stand up to the myth of Maverick-hero McCain.

Mullah Dobson wants you to abuse your children. (Also: It is still weird to know that there are people old enough to vote who were born on the day a song you can remember dancing to as a teenager or adult was still at the top of the charts.)

Vocabulary note: It's "The jig is up." I am sick of seeing this word spelled wrong. "Gig" (which has a hard "g" - or, rather, two hard "g"s) means job. "I'm going to a gig at the Cellar Door" means "I'm working at the Cellar Door." Do not say, "The gig is up," or I might tsk at you. (And if you say, "I'm going to a gig" and you mean you're watching someone else perform, I might just smack you.)

17:08 BST

Can we please not throw another election?

Paul Krugman says Obama dropped the ball in his speech on the economy, an issue where Democrats have the lead in the public mind. "It's the Economy Stupor: "Worse yet, he seemed to go out of his way to avoid scoring political points. "Back in the 1990s," he declared, "your incomes grew by $6,000, and over the last several years, they've actually fallen by nearly $1,000." Um, not quite: real median household income didn't rise $6,000 during "the 1990s," it did so during the Clinton years, after falling under the first Bush administration. Income hasn't fallen $1,000 in "recent years," it's fallen under George Bush, with all of the decline taking place before 2005. Obama surrogates have shown a similar inclination to go for the capillaries rather than the jugular. A recent Wall Street Journal op-ed by two Obama advisers offered another blizzard of statistics almost burying the key point - that most Americans would pay lower taxes under the Obama tax plan than under the McCain plan." (People may not remember what a big deal it is for Krugman to want to give credit to Clinton for the improved economy under his administration. He's learned a big lesson in the last eight years about the impact presidents can have.) Obama needs to fight the Republicans and McCain, not some vague idea of "the past" that he doesn't seem to recall. The "new kind of politics" we need is really the old kind of politics - the one where progressives shoot back.

At Open Left, "Obama's Slide Started with the FISA Compromise and NAFTA Reversal [...] Obama's brand is progressive. When he refuses to run as a progressive, he loses ground. This should not be a surprise." And: "Presidential Forecast, 8/18: Obama's Lead Almost Gone." (Also: "Dear Senator Obama, It is Time to Tie McCain Tight to Bush.")

Here's what we mean about double-standards: Why was it a big outrage when Hillary gave an interview to Scaife and his paper, but Obama singing the praises of the man who funded the Swift-boat Liars gets barely a whisper? Yeah, I know, the primaries are over and we have to keep McCain out of the White House, but can anyone tell me again why Obama was supposed to be so much better than Hillary? Was there really any reason ever to think so? And why was Obama so much more willing to go for Hillary's throat than he is to go after McCain? Has he so easily forgotten the word "pander" that he used so well a few months ago? It's as if all the passion in his campaign was for defeating Hillary, whereas winning the actual election just isn't as big a deal. I know some people are still going to blame Hillary if McCain gets into the White House, but if he does, Hillary will not be why.

14:45 BST

Monday, 18 August 2008

Other wars/it's all one war

The Red Zone: "I could segue into some political rant here, a slick dismissal of the Bush administration, perhaps, or a paragraph declaring my support for Barack Obama. But the moment I walked into the soup kitchen - the moment I acknowledged, publicly, that I could not provide food for myself or my children (which is why the soup kitchen is so much more difficult than the food bank) - is the moment that my ability to believe in the politics of this country was forever altered. I know why poor people have historically low voter-turnout rates. If you vote, you acknowledge that you believe in the system." Via Suburban Guerrilla, who also points out that methadone, while increasingly popular with insurance companies, is actually not the best instrument for pain control.

First, some good news from Shakesville, where we learn that, "California's State Supreme Court has struck a blow against "conscience clauses" and ruled unanimously today that doctors practicing in CA cannot withhold medical care from gays and lesbians because of religious beliefs. Because of the state law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, doctors have "neither a free speech right nor a religious exemption from the state's law" and the antidiscrimination obligations it compels." So you gotta do what you're hired to do. On the other hand, some of the mail she's getting is a bit depressing.

And speaking of transphobia.... Roz Kaveney's recently re-emerged activism has generated a small victory, although there is still, alas, more depressing stuff.

Know your placeness.

23:40 BST

Assorted stuff

As we have seen, McShame isn't even remotely like the image the public has pushed on us of the heroic man of character who would never even think of exploiting his time as prisoner of war just to evade having to face any serious campaign analysis. The problem is, y'see, the reason the race is close is that the media is part of that 27%.

So, the state of Virginia has been going through old cases checking any existing DNA evidence, and they notify the defense that they're doing the tests, but they don't tell them the results. They have "at least eight cases" where the results cast possible doubt on convictions, but they won't tell anyone else who they are.

Norm Coleman is a humble Senator who lives humbly in a studio apartment in Washington, DC, that he rents from a contributor for only $600 a month. He says his constituents appreciate that he lives on the cheap.

FiveThirtyEight has a Democratic VP Buyer's Guide, in case you want to place your bets. Some interesting speculation, there....

Every day there are hundreds of people who could use an advocate for the idea that an accused party is innocent until proven guilty - including falsely accused politicians. So, who does Lanny Davis leap to the defense of? Why, Ted Stephens. God Almighty, Lanny Davis is an enormous putz.

The news that people who watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are more knowledgeable about current events than those who don't is not too surprising when you remember one of my favorite Jerry Kaufman quotes: "The more you know, the more jokes you get." (via)

20:54 BST

Did we mention that he was a POW?

There's been a lot of discussion about whether Rick Warren's people made sure McCain (but not Obama) had the questions for the forum in advance. Here's a section from the transcripts that suggests that's the case:


              9    DEFINE MARRIAGE.

             10        A    UNION -- A UNION BETWEEN MAN AND WOMAN, BETWEEN



             13    COURT JUSTICES.

             14        Q    WE'LL GET TO THAT.

             15        A    ALL RIGHT.  OKAY.

             16        Q    YOU GOT ALL MY QUESTIONS, GOOD.

Both Warren and the McCain campaign have made all sorts of assurances that McCain was kept in "a cone of silence" while Obama was being questioned before McCain, although then it turned out that in fact McCain was in his motorcade where he could have been listening to the whole thing on the radio. But then, McCain's answers were all pre-scripted stuff from his stump speech, anyway, so it might just as easily have been the case that the questions were geared to McCain's campaign themes and didn't need further rehearsing.

Not that it will matter, of course. McCain's lies, distortions, cheating, and dishonesty don't count. Nothing McCain does matters as long as he has that (R) after his name, and as long as he continues to be, as Atrios noted, "A Noun, A Verb, POW," a point starkly brought home by the McCain team's defense against the charges: "The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous."

My friends, if having been a prisoner of war is now going to be an automatic qualification for the presidency, could we please start looking at the records of other POWs to see if we can't find someone who is less of a lying, cheating, right-wing crackpot? I'm sure there must be several.

15:23 BST

Leftover links

Next time someone tells you how important it is to pass some horrible law that violates civil liberties and endangers thousands of people because we need to "protect the children", it might be a good thing to remind them of just how little regard our society shows children in other matters. Like this: "One in three Texas foster children has been diagnosed with mental illness and prescribed mind-altering drugs, including some that the federal government has not approved for juveniles, state records show." And that's just one little thing.

Frank Rich points out that the candidate Americans really don't know about is John Sydney McCain III. In fact, with McCain it's worse than whatever confusion people claim to have Obama, because people think they know McCain, but thanks to our worshipful media, the things they know are entirely wrong, often diametrically opposed to what McCain's real history tells us.

Jumah al Dossari: "It has been a little over a year since I left the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but I still have trouble sleeping sometimes. On a recent restless night, I found a DVD entitled "United 93" beside the family television set. I had no idea what it was about, but I started watching. When I realized that it was about the hijacked American plane that had crashed in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001, I began to cry. It reminded me of a very simple question I had asked myself countless times during my 5 1/2 years in Guantanamo: When will humans start treating each other with respect, whatever our religion or color?"

Josh Marshall wants you all to see Bill Moyers' interview of retired US Army Colonel Andrew J. Bacevich on the imperial presidency. (See the whole show here.)

13:26 BST

Quick links

Jim Henley follows-up on Diane's post about Aafia Siddiqui and learns that it's even weirder than we thought, leading him to suspect "that the US government has been secretly taken over by the Brotherhood of Dada."

Turkana recommends Jack Balkin's explanation of net neutrality, and reminds us that, "Barack Obama supports network neutrality. John McCain doesn't."

Steve Benen says one highlight of Sidney and Barack's recent encounter was when they defined the meaning of "rich".

So, Michael Gerson says Joe Lieberman would make a great VP choice for McCain if only he hadn't voted against Alito, and Lieberman's office says Lieberman now likes Alito and believes he was wrong to vote against him.

Well, at least McCain steals from the best when he wants to tell a touching religious tale about his time in captivity in 'Nam which, of course, as the media often tells us, he is hesitant to talk about every chance he can get. Who knew that the big tough guy had such high-brow tastes? (Unlike Joe Biden, who only sorta stole from Neil Kinnock.)

Why China is not the new Nazis (via)

Greg Gordon at McClatchy, "Did Washington Waste Millions On Faulty Voting Machines?" I bet Karl Rove doesn't think so....

03:07 BST

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Ever wonder who the meek shall inherit the Earth from?

It's an astonishing coincidence that Evan Bayh's votes just happen to coincide with the interests of the corporations on whose boards his wife serves. Thanks to Max Bernstein for 100,000 Strong Against Evan Bayh for VP.

Digby on Mainstreaming Crazy: "Corsi is not just a right wing ideologue. He's a full fledged nutcase, and yet he was hired by a major publisher, by a star GOP villager, to write an incendiary book of lies about the Democratic presidential candidate. They aren't even trying to keep their fingerprints off this thing. In fact, the default position among Democrats, Republicans and the media is that the only kooks in the country with whom it is unacceptable to be professionally or financially involved with are on the left. And "the left" is defined so broadly that it includes groups like MoveOn and Vote Vets. The right, in contrast, has fully integrated even their extremist fringe into the mainstream and everyone accepts it."

Him and me both: "On Sept. 7, 2006, Nouriel Roubini, an economics professor at New York University, stood before an audience of economists at the International Monetary Fund and announced that a crisis was brewing. In the coming months and years, he warned, the United States was likely to face a once-in-a-lifetime housing bust, an oil shock, sharply declining consumer confidence and, ultimately, a deep recession. He laid out a bleak sequence of events: homeowners defaulting on mortgages, trillions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities unraveling worldwide and the global financial system shuddering to a halt. These developments, he went on, could cripple or destroy hedge funds, investment banks and other major financial institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac." And they all shook their heads. Nobody listens to me, either, but c'mon, you could see this one coming a lot earlier than two years ago. (via)

Somehow I find it charming that a the office of a member of the US Congress was forced to issue a denial that he'd said that there are up to 40 barrels of crude oil in every tree.

John Amato offers his first impressions of the Obama/McCain Saddleback Church forum, and HuffPo has a brief recap.

Stout stout-drinkers relieved to learn that disturbing Guinness ad is a hoax; video removed from YouTube at request of Diageo, owners of Guinness. (Also: John Sidney McCain III turns out to be passionate about something - ABBA.)

22:45 BST

Something tells me coffee won't help

The United Police State of America [...] Read it and weep for our formerly free country. The measure seeks to roll back the protections against government excess that arose out the Watergate era, ignoring the fact that the reasons those protections were enacted in the first place was because of abuse of the existing powers. It would be nice to think that Obama would fix all this when he's elected president, but as emptywheel notes -- don't hold your breath." No, because what the world's been waiting for is COINTELPRO II.

Someone seems to have kidnapped and tortured a 90-pound woman for five years, and now she has mysteriously reappeared and the US government is charging her with having assaulted US officials. Can you make sense of this? "Pure speculation by Yvonne Ridley and Aijaz Zaka Syed? Perhaps. Anti-American rhetoric by a disgruntled Arab? It's certainly possible. Ten years ago I would have dismissed this report out of hand. After all, surely no civilized government would behave in such a fashion, and, if it did, surely our free press would have gone through walls to uncover the behavior."

I guess if the Cubans were a decent, civilized nation, they would just bomb the hell out other nations to make them see things their way, but the insidious bastiches send doctors instead.

C&L's Mike Finnegan, who does the Blog Roundup there, adds a personal note of tribute to the man who produced his record, Jerry Wexler.

Jack Reed on the Issues. Voted against invasion of Iraq (but hasn't been in much of a hurry to get out). 100% pro-choice record. Opposes stronger penalties and enforcement for drug laws. Supports separation of church and state and more progressive taxation. Not perfect, but certainly no Blue Dog.

Guess it's a sign of the times.

12:41 BST

Never thought I'd have to pay so dearly for what was already mine

Ruby Pink Iris underwired braBra of the Week

What was the number one song on the day you were born? (via)

Play Who's Younger? and see the world's creepiest tower, naturally via Biomes Blog.

Athenae wonders, "Is there some holiday that would explain the parade of people who have been enabling the biggest jackasses in this country to be the even bigger jackasses they've always wanted to be suddenly coming to the conclusion that maybe that wasn't all such a good idea?" It's probably too late for any of those people to atone for what they've done, but it is entertaining.

Ray McGovern invites Colin Powell to clean off the blot on his record: "I saw the street smarts you displayed then. The savvy was familiar to me. I concluded that it came, in part, from the two decades you and I spent growing up in the same neighborhood at the same time in the Bronx. On those Bronx streets, rough as they were, there was also a strong sense of what was honorable -honorable even among thieves and liars, you might say. And we had words, which I will not repeat here, for sycophants, pimps, and cowards."

My sense of horror over the way we now treat non-citizens in America pre-dates the Bush administration, but it's been growing exponentially every year the Bush machine occupies the White House. Dave Neiwert looks especially at how we abuse their children.

I see they're making friends again: "Raising Kaine first reported that Wes Clark won't be at the Democratic National Convention. Steve Clemons is now reporting that Clark was actually disinvited." Yes, because the last thing we need at the Democratic convention, or anywhere even remotely in the vicinity of Obama's foreign policy apparatus, is a hugely popular genuine war hero-general who has actually won a war and says things that make sense. God forbid.

Totally wrong.

"Accidentally Like A Martyr"

01:54 BST

Saturday, 16 August 2008

I saw this

"The Defunding of the Peace Movement" Last December I wrote an optimistic cover story for The Nation predicting that 'peace advocates will likely have the best funded antiwar message in history' during the coming election year, as 'tens of millions of dollars will be raised for voter education and registration and get-out-the-vote campaigns through the 527 committees which disseminate election messages independent of partisan candidates.' It was downhill from that point, for reasons that may never be explained." Gosh, and you were so hopeful and starry-eyed, Tom.

Digby on the macho boys: "This is why most people over the age of nine learn that issuing a bunch of threats and failing to carry them through --- or following through and failing to succeed --- is a recipe for people to stop taking you seriously. Bush and Cheney (and now McCain) have made a fetish out of sabre rattling for the past eight years and the results have been, shall we say, less than stellar. The US has shown that its volunteer military, while valiant, is undermanned and overstretched, its intelligence services are willing servants of political manipulators and its leadership is dishonest, immoral and incompetent. It's understandable that somebody out there would think that now is the time to make a move. That it would be Bush's soul brother Pooty-poot was entirely predictable." (Also: A general so over the top that he gets kicked out of the kangaroo court.)

It's not just that McCain says astonishingly amnesiac and stupid things, it's also that right-wing idiots will then leap up to defend him in equally stupid terms. (Also: If the best choice we have is between Bayh and Biden, we are dead. How about the actual Democrat who went on Obama's world tour with him?)

The Code Pink Platform

People have been warning me about this movie for over a week, but I just can't bring myself to discuss it.

Gershwin plays Gershwin.

20:10 BST

Web trawl

This week on Meet the Bloggers, Bernie Sanders talks about the collapse of the middle class. (If someone can find a specific link to this particular item, I'd be grateful - I couldn't make the URL in the embed work, and I don't want to embed it, but I do want to save the address for the show.)

Robert Borosage on The Great Corporate Tax Heist: "Remember the old Steve Martin routine on how to make a million dollars and not pay taxes: "First, make a million dollars... Second, don't pay taxes." Turns out Martin's joke is standard operating procedure for corporations in the United States - only, in comparison, Martin was a piker."

I definitely approve this anti-McCain ad. But Bob Herbert says the candidates are not paying enough attention to domestic issues, and he's right.

Jamison Foser goes after the great zombie lie: "Here's all you need to know in order to know with absolute certainty that Casey's views on abortion were not the reason he was not given a speaking role: that very same Democratic convention featured speeches by at least eight people who shared Casey's anti-choice position, including Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley Jr., Sens. John Breaux and Howell Heflin, and five governors." This stupid story is supposed to "prove" that Democrats are a small tent that is "insensitive" to the forced-pregnancy cadre. If only it were so! But Casey was not chosen for a speaking spot because he refused to endorse the Democratic nominee. You have to be a nitwit not to understand that he had no place speaking at the convention on that basis alone. Truth is, Casey was nobody special in those days and probably wouldn't have been given a speaking spot, anyway, even if he'd been pro-choice and endorsed Clinton. But Casey started lying about why he wasn't speaking, and reporters still repeat the lie.

Who said, "Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century"? Man, I can't wait for the 21st century to start!

Vote for McCain, Butch. Real Men don't like to think.

14:44 BST

Crime watch

So Karl Rove's Crimean holiday included Richard Haass, Bob Shrum, Mikhail Saakashvili, and William Taylor? My, oh, my, what were private citizens doing meeting up with Saakashvili? And Bob Shrum? Oh, my! (Thanks to kelly b. for the tip.)

The insurance industry listens: "First, it's important to point out that the public was not invited to this event. Though AHIP's 'Campaign for an American Solution' purports to be a grassroots, transparent effort, the participants in this 'listening tour' stop were either paid or invited by the insurance industry. The audience was members of the press. AHIP is lying when it says, 'The Campaign for An American Solution held an open to the press, public forum on Wednesday, August 13th in Detroit, Michigan.' No advance notice was given, and no location was made public. The only people that knew about this event were the people the insurance industry wanted to know about it. Second, it's telling that the focus of the meeting was on the uninsured. As I've argued previously, focusing on the uninsured is a insurance industry smokescreen, made to distract attention from the real problem - a failing private insurance system." Got insurance? Are you sure?

Krugman says John Maynard Keynes saw all of this before.

Shuffling Those Walnut Shells - The claim that there are corporate taxes is just one big con game these days. And so is the idea of affordable prescription drug pricing.

Arrested at Disneyland: Mickey Mouse, Snow White, Aladdin, Tinkerbell, Peter Pan, and others.

Really? The SCLC is hustling for predatory lenders? (via)

Almost as scary as horses.

Bigfoot's press release (Thanks, Dominic.)

Jerry Wexler, 91, RIP

04:26 BST

Friday, 15 August 2008

Seen on the internet

Thanks to Bruce F. for alerting me to this xkcd strip, and therefore to a story I seem to have missed - Premier Election Solutions, formerly known as Diebold, is blaming their McAfee antivirus software for the problems people are having with them. Interesting, there's a virus keyed to their super-secret proprietary software that no one is allowed to look at that makes the machines shift the votes to Republicans? How did that happen? Of course, it shouldn't be possible to access voting machines from the outside in any event; the entire model is faulty, unless it's your intent to make them hackable.

I'm not sure it's the best idea in the world for the prospective Democratic Nominee to diss the House Ways and Means Chairman, just aside from the fact that he happens to be an important member of the black caucus.

Since his name is currently being floated for McCain's VP pick, Phoenix Woman reminds us that Salon covered Tim Pawlenty back in July, and there's another article here that she says demonstrates that Pawlenty is "Just another Grover Norquist Republican."

I guess sexism has nothing to do with it: "The Sunday New York Times Magazine will have a big feature entitled Is Obama the End of Black Politics. Filled with reporter Matt Bai's Obamessiahanism, the piece is unreadable for all intents and purposes. But it is notable for one big reason - Bai renders black female politicians invisible in his discussion of black politics. Of the 15 African Americans whose names get a "link" from the Times, there is only one woman - Michelle Obama. In addition to the "linked", there are other black political figures quoted or mentioned - none of whom are women." Well, you already know what I think of Matt Bai.

Hm, maybe Bush won't be safe in Paraguay, either.

20:33 BST

Food for thought

I was just listening to Hartmann's interview with Larissa Alexandrovna in the third hour of his show Wednesday - full of eye-opening stuff, and heartily recommended - and they mentioned a Scott Ritter article that sounded pretty interesting. While I was looking for it I found some other stuff and discovered that today is a good day to read TruthDig, where you'll find things like this:

  • McCain: 'We Are All Georgians': If there is any doubt that John McCain is gulping down the neocon Kool-Aid on Georgia, one need only read his new manifesto in The Wall Street Journal, where he once again flaunts his Wikipedia-sourced foreign policy expertise. In addition to misrepresenting the crisis in favor of his good friend and neocon man-crush Georgian President Saakashvili, McCain once again speaks as if he isn't the leading cheerleader for America's own war of aggression: "The world has learned at great cost the price of allowing aggression against free nations to go unchecked."
  • Robert Scheer, Georgia War a Neocon Election Ploy? Is it possible that this time the October surprise was tried in August, and that the garbage issue of brave little Georgia struggling for its survival from the grasp of the Russian bear was stoked to influence the U.S. presidential election? Before you dismiss that possibility, consider the role of one Randy Scheunemann, for four years a paid lobbyist for the Georgian government who ended his official lobbying connection only in March, months after he became Republican presidential candidate John McCain's senior foreign policy adviser.
  • David Sirota asks, "Will Obama Wave Bayh Bye to the White House?" The son of Sen. Birch Bayh, Evan has no discernible political skills (unless "skills" include being the cure for insomnia and having a famous last name). In the decade since this prince claimed his daddy's Senate seat, he has amassed not a single significant accomplishment-a miraculous achievement, even by Washington's do-nothing standards. If he is known at all, it is for heading a business front group called the Democratic Leadership Council, using that position to rake in corporate campaign contributions and then paying back the money with votes.
  • Mukasey Gives Scandalistas a Pass: "Attorney General Michael Mukasey has said he will not prosecute his predecessor's aides for politicizing the Justice Department. Mukasey said the officials' violations were "disturbing," but not crimes."
  • Borgnine Blushes, But He's on to Something: The 91-year-old actor sent the cast of Fox and Friends into a juvenile tizzy this week when he revealed the key to his longevity: "I masturbate a lot." Don't snicker. The health benefits of auto-eroticism have been well documented, yet modesty prevents many adults from discussing such matters.

  • Jackson Browne Sues Team McCain, Republican Party - for using his music in their campaign without license, of course.

  • And, of course, that Scott Ritter article, "Where Are the Weapons of Mass Destruction?", which corroborates much of what Larissa says in her interview with Thom.

And a caller to Thom's show reminds us that a little while ago when Karl Rove declined to appear for Congressional hearings on the grounds that he would be out of the country on a "long-planned trip", that trip was to the Crimea. Gosh, I wonder what he was up to, there....

16:21 BST

On background

A couple of weeks ago, Matt Yglesias was dismissing the relevance of beliefs people held way back when, and I didn't weigh in at the time, but Charles Dodgson did: "Now, maybe an endorsement of Matt's position is why we don't see more references to "ex-Trotskyist Irving Kristol" in journals of refined opinion. But I, for one, think there are insights into their character here, and think that we could stand to have at least a little more discussion of these guys' political upbringing in groups and movements dedicated to the use of deception and false fronts in undermining the health of capitalist states from within." More recently, Charles observed that an "unnamed American diplomat" appears to believe that a Russia is obliged to get the permission of the United States before it can approve the naturalization of foreign nationals as Russian citizens.

Man whose US immigration notice was sent to the wrong address is detained with untreated spinal cancer until he dies, denied access to his wife and children - This is, of course, murder, and no civilized country would do such a thing.

At Cup O' Joe, a suggestion that we avoid helping the Republicans by hammering each other too much.

Mark Adams is doing his own little electoral map with the states sized according to their electoral votes.

Mary recommends some Reflections on Adam Smith: "Was this absolute reliance on the marketplace to run society really what Adam Smith believed? Mark Thoma has a very interesting post that strongly asserts what the conservatives say about Adam Smith's beliefs are wrong, and he certainly would never have subscribed to the "greed is good" philosophy."

In the third hour of his Friday show, Thom Hartmann said he thinks what's going on in Georgia is another bit of extra-curricular Republican "diplomacy" that sets us up for the October Surprise. (Democratic candidate Debbie Cook, who is running to oust Dana Rohrbacher in California's 46th, was a guest on the show. You might like to help her out.)

How did I miss the news that the Knights Templar are suing the Pope?

This is a nice one.

14:13 BST

Damned liberal media

This is an article about Jerome Corsi's book smearing Barack Obama, The Obama Nation. (via) (Watch Paul Waldman trounce Corsi on TV.) This is a paragraph from the article:

"There's just no doubt that in terms of longer-term infrastructure, there's more out there on the right than there is on the left," said Cliff Schecter, author of a liberal attack book on Mr. McCain, "The Real McCain," which, with 35,000 copies in print, did not make the Times bestseller list.
No, and it was never reviewed in the NYT, either, let alone with an excerpt from the book and the promotion of a major article like this one. In fact, both the NYT and the WaPo have a habit of reviewing books by right-wing crackpots like Corsi - usually giving the reviews to approving right-wingers. Oddly, they also have a habit of seldom reviewing books by more liberal political authors (whether they make the NYT best-seller list or not) such as Glenn Greenwald or Joe Conason - and usually giving the reviews to disapproving right-wingers. And then there was this earlier paragraph:
The book is being pushed along by a large volume of bulk sales, intense voter interest in Mr. Obama and a broad marketing campaign that has already included 100 author interviews with talk radio hosts across the country, like Sean Hannity and G. Gordon Liddy, Mr. Corsi said on Tuesday.
"Bulk sales" means that the sales of the book are not being pushed by individuals ordering the book or walking into bookshops and picking it up, but rather that right-wing organizations with deep pockets are buying up huge stacks of the book in order to push sales figures. In some right-wing imprints, the sales figures are even based on a bulk sale by one arm of the publisher to another part of its organization. Here, on the other hand, is the FDL Book Salon history; see if you can find reviews of those books at the NYT. See how many of those books you can find NYT reviews for. Ask The New York Times why they didn't review Cliff's book, and why they haven't reviewed so many other fine books, some of which were even on their best-seller list and didn't have that asterisk to warn that it's sales figures were pumped up by bulk sales.

03:50 BST

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Stuff to read

Insurance Industry Astroturf: Secret Meetings, Undisclosed Locations: "The insurance industry front group America's Health Insurance Plans is continuing it's "listening" tour on short notice. After a month of silence, they are announcing the 2nd stop in their tour in Detroit. ([Link]) The announcement was sent out an hour ago. The tour stop is today. There is no information on where or when the event will be held. How can you claim to be listening to the public if you give less than 24 hours notice and no indication where your event is?"

The Agonist: "We are at a very dangerous point right now. The US is over-extended and to some extent paralyzed by the election that is upcoming. The next 12 months are the perfect time frame, as Ian notes, for Russia to make it very clear that it will not tolerate a Ukraine in NATO." And we can blame John McCain's presidential presumptions for some of it, too.

One of the creepier things that happened during the FISA fiasco was that Morton Halperin, a respected civil libertarian, suddenly became a a voice for the other side, claiming that the "new" version of the bill was good for civil liberties. Glenn Greenwald interviewed him and tried to get an explanation for it. Spooky.

Can anyone actually believe what the press tells us about the polls?

I do not want weapons out of science fiction in the hands of these people.

You cannot invite someone halfway in.

17:20 BST

Loose ends

All your jobs are belong to us: "The weakness of the economy is obvious, if you look at any financial news. The occupied White House will keep babbling about the strong fundamentals, and we all know it's lies. The old, old story about consumer confidence just doesn't hold water anymore, we know it is a lie that we are fine, and we know the reason for the lie is the executive branch's basic disrespect for the public." (Also: The War on Poverty is over. We lost.)

Wonkette wonders if Bush was falling down drunk at the Olympics, but Roy thinks he was just having a good time being irritating. (It's not as if McCain is really upstaging him all that well, though.)

Sam Seder and Mike Papantonio discuss McCain's oil lies (and how they mysteriously end up in every pundit mouth), McCain's mysterious middle-class donors, Monica Goodling, and other things, on Ring of Fire. And Sam interviews Scott Horton.

Sometimes the hardest part of doing a post is just finding a title for it. Last night I was in an "Ayn Randed, nearly branded a communist 'cause I'm left-handed" mood, but it didn't quite seem to work, so I went with the musical reference. I tried to find the YouTube for it but, strangely, couldn't locate the album cut. Did find the other version, but don't like it as much. Anyway, while I was roaming around the net trying to find the track, I ran into this post about reading Ayn Rand and why her science fiction novel has such an impact on lonely young people.

Meanwhile, you might remember that time I was really, really totally bummed out by the Dems and wanted to link to "Down So Low" by Tracy Nelson and Mother Earth, but couldn't find it. Someone was kind enough to mail me the .mp3, and I was planning to post it the next time I was in that mood, but after my recent experience with the record industry pirates I'm a bit gun-shy. However, there are now a couple of versions up, one a recent live version by Nelson that I didn't like as much, and one by Linda Ronstadt that's a more faithful cover of the original. And, re the previous post, she needs back-up.

15:13 BST

Give me something to sing about

In Slate (of all places), Linda Hirshman says it's time to get back to making the moral argument for reproductive choice:

The Democratic Party platform of 2008 finally dropped its old abortion language ("safe, legal and rare"), which had asked that women not have abortions unless they absolutely must. The 2008 platform, just announced, says instead, "The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right." Should a woman desire to bear her child, the Dems advocate prenatal care, income support, and adoption programs to help her there, too. But in the world of the new Democratic platform, it's the woman's decision to make.

In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled by a margin of 7-2 in Roe v. Wade that women - not their husbands, their doctors, or their legislatures - must be the ones to decide whether to bear or beget a child. Edward Lazarus, who clerked for the author of that opinion, Justice Harry Blackmun, called the decision "the Emancipation Proclamation for American women." But if Roe was Emancipation, the past three decades have felt like the Jim Crow South. Unable to repeal the decision itself, opponents made abortion as illegitimate as possible. The Hyde Amendment pulled Medicaid financing for the poorest and most desperate women. In 1992, the Clinton campaign reframed abortion as an unpleasant last resort. Last term, the Supreme Court finally broke, affirming the criminalization of certain late-term abortions. And Democratic candidate Barack Obama, in The Audacity of Hope, compared women's regrets over their past abortions to white people's regrets about past bigotry. This Clintonian compromise - that abortion was a necessary moral evil - had become the most progressives could hope for.

With the release of the new platform, and so long as the Obama campaign doesn't cast the platform into purgatory and pick an anti-abortion candidate - like Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine - for vice president, the emancipation of women may once again become a legitimate political position. It is time to revive the moral argument for protecting a woman's right to choose: Abortion is about the value of women's lives.

Read the rest.

11:05 BST

I lost my harmonica, Albert

Steve Clemons says that Max Bernstein has started a Facebook group to oppose Evan Bayh for VP choice. Now, that's something I can sign on to! Honest to gods, with all the Bizarro names that are being floated for the job. Hillary looks better and better every day. (I'm still pumping for Clark, though. I don't like Senator Credit Card Company Biden, either.)

Have I mentioned lately that McCain is a raving pro-forced-pregnancy zealot? (He's also a nitwit.) And it's pretty creepy that his top foreign policy advisor is on the payroll of a foreign government.

Obama's Best Plan Yet: no income taxes on seniors who make less than $60,000 a year.

Study Tallies Corporations Not Paying Income Tax: "Two out of every three United States corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005, according to a report released Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress."

On Democrats Reshaping Themselves As Republicans: "When your supporters don't vote for you, you lose."

Busting stereotypes about the uninsured.

Jeez, Amundn gets spectacular sunsets even when he isn't shooting in HDR.

The retirement experience documented in haiku.


01:06 BST

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Iffy weather

New Blue flower - PlumbagoI'm posting this photo of the plumbago in the back garden to remind myself that I originally took it on the 6th of August in 2006, the first year we had them. And they still haven't blossomed this year. As much as the cavefish may complain, I can only remember one day so far where I've been able to say I was hot. Warm and sticky, sure, we have a lot of days like that, but it's positively autumnal out there.

Safe as houses: "There were no bank failures in 2005 or 2006 and only three in 2007. Now, some analysts expect a few hundred banks to fail over the next several years -- the most since the savings-and-loan crisis two decades ago. And some critics say the failures aren't happening fast enough. They say regulators are keeping some troubled banks on life support by allowing them to spend money to stay in business that should be reserved to cover loan losses after the bank has failed." Did someone say "savings-and-loan crisis"? I always think of the Keating Five and John McCain when that happens.

Gorbachev says the US really screwed up in Georgia. Mark Kleiman is sure of it. And it doesn't look any better from anywhere else.

Republican lies, Republican warmongering. A vote for McCain is a vote for disaster, and an eventual nuclear strike against the US in retaliation. You can hear it in their own words. And Scott Ritter asks what you'd like to lose: "Pick your city."

Was the USSR better prepared for its collapse than the USA will be? Probably. Via For the Record, where I also found this useful tutorial on Charlie Black.

Yonmei does a big take-down of Orson Scott Card.

16:56 BST

The Gong Show

Blimey, Thomas Friedman is actually telling the truth about McCain's lies on energy, and explaining why government support for alternative energy development is so important. He didn't actually use the word "lying", but he made it fairly clear that McCain knows he's not telling the truth.

Lieberman is suggesting that, unlike St. McCain, Obama hasn't always put the country first. Actually, it's true that Obama was probably thinking of something other than his country when he endorsed Lieberman over Lamont in the Connecticut primary. It's also true that many people wonder what country Lieberman puts first.

Someone needs to remind Taegan Goddard that there is a distinction between self-identified Christian Evangelicals and "Christians". It's not accurate to have a headline that says, "Obama Leads McCain Among Christians" when the money quote is: "Of the 18 faith groups identified in the polls, McCain is only leading among evangelicals and it's a narrow lead. Obama leads among the other 17 faith groups identified including the born again vote. Barna notes that would mark the first time in more than two decades that the born again vote has swung toward the Democratic candidate." (Mind you, the phrase "leading among evangelicals" is also inaccurate, since I sincerely doubt McCain is leading among evangelical Wiccans, Buddhists, or Pastafarians.)

You know, someone really needs to tell Pelosi that it isn't just about the war. Most people understand that you can't pass good legislation without enough votes in the Senate, but you also can't pass bad legislation in a Democratic Congress unless the Speaker puts it on the House floor and enough Democrats vote for it.

Hm, it really does seem like a game show.

13:38 BST

Comin' through the tubes

Ron Suskind did an online chat at the WaPo that was a refreshing departure from the usual ducking and diving readers get from journalists. For example:

Chicago: It seems that free and democratic societies fall when those who take power and destroy the rule of law have little fear of retribution. In this light, do you not think it is important the members of Bush administration should not be allowed to run out the clock without facing some form of justice? That doing nothing condones, sets a precedent and allows by silence future leaders to continue and extend the abuses of power that we have seen executed by this administration?

Ron Suskind: This question is crafted with great resonance and power. I agree with every word of it. The great challenge of this period is to exercise the powers enumerated in the Constitution in present tense. That Constitution is not a document to be employed at one's convenience or concerns for time frames or a ticking clock. The difficulty here is this larger issue the reader discusses of accountability in a democracy. I think we've had a kind of severing between issues of accountability of the duly elected to the soverign public. The term public servant is very carefully crafted and carries an odd tension -- that these people with great powers at their disposal are in fact servants of the people. Only with accountability, transparency and exercise of the rule of law does this system work. Can power exercised by so few over so many every be properly checked?

"Judge says UC can deny class credit to Christian school students: A federal judge says the University of California can deny course credit to applicants from Christian high schools whose textbooks declare the Bible infallible and reject evolution. Rejecting claims of religious discrimination and stifling of free expression, U.S. District Judge James Otero of Los Angeles said UC's review committees cited legitimate reasons for rejecting the texts - not because they contained religious viewpoints, but because they omitted important topics in science and history and failed to teach critical thinking."

Next time someone tries to do the "elitist" scam about Obama, point out that John McCain has never had a real job - you know, the kind you have to apply for.

Say it isn't so! Is George McGovern giving aid and comfort to the union-busters?

03:44 BST

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Various stuff

I don't recall seeing this at the time, but you can listen to or download Beating Around the Bush: An Evening of Satire, featuring several familiar names.

"Jail Bites Back: It's never been something I gave much attention, but the series is publishing now on prisons has given me a great deal to consider. We've been shutting away problems, and now those problems have grown, festered, and are eating us alive. The expense of throwing people in jail is huge, in many ways we are just beginning to be socked with."

We Don't Need Insurance, We Need Guaranteed Healthcare. Nyceve includes a clip from the cutting-room floor of Sicko, from the interview with bankruptcy expert Elizabeth Warren, who points out that not only are half of those who file for bankruptcy doing so as a result of medical costs, but that 75% of those people had health insurance. (Do remind people when they worry about "the cost" of a universal guaranteed system that every place that already has one does it cheaper than the US does. And even the genuinely socialized system in the UK, despite currently being underfunded, provides healthcare as good as most rich people in American get. Did I mention lately that Nye Bevan is my hero?) (via) A point: It might be easier to negotiate our way to single-payer if we had a contingent demanding an NHS-style system instead....

Reality Break has started posting podcasts of interviews with sf-related authors again, and provides the 1998 interview with the late Will Eisner.

Naturally, it's been pretty cloudy around here, but I was really hoping for a change I could see a meteor shower.

23:17 BST

Who knows where the time goes?

It appears I slept through some record-breaking, torrential rain this morning - I'm told we got as much rain as normally falls in a month. And yet I've just had a nice, sunny day.

Rorschach suggests we Ask Congress to Investigate LaVena Johnson's "Suicide".

Fred Clark wants to put Louis Armstrong on the $20 bill. I rather like that. (Although I also liked a suggestion in the comments of George Washington Carver. I really don't think most people realize what I big deal he really was.)

The Constitution Project has just announced that they will be giving their 2008 Award for Constitutional Commentary to Linda Greenhouse: " Ms. Greenhouse covered the United States Supreme Court for The New York Times, where she earned the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism in 1998, from 1978 to 2008. While the Award is traditionally given to the author of a single work, Ms. Greenhouse is being recognized for her body of work at the Times." The award will be presented on Constitution Day - Wednesday, 17 September, at Georgetown University.

Here's a video you can pass around to your relatives who believe McCain's ads about taxes.

Fixing Elections by Steven Hill - a book about how bad our system really is.

At Sadly, No!, an illustration of spite-voting from Brad, and a marvelously linky post from HTML Mencken. (Do you think Megan McArdle has ever even read the Gospels? I doubt it.)

Lego Bowling

Judy Collins

19:51 BST

Tuesday afternoon

Jason Rosenbaum says, "Make the call for health care! We've set up a quick and easy way for you to contact your Members of Congress and ask them if they support our vision for health care reform. Just click here and enter in your phone number and address. Choose the elected official you want to talk to and in a few moments, we'll call your phone and connect you automatically.

Robert Parry says, "WPost Admits Bungling Obama Quote: The Washington Post's ombudsman says the newspaper's original source for a quote that was used to portray Barack Obama as a megalomaniac now disputes the Post's negative interpretation that has spread across cable TV, the Internet and even into a John McCain attack ad. Post ombudsman Deborah Howell also acknowledges that neither Post reporter who relied on the misleading quote spoke directly with the source, checked out its accuracy, or made any independent effort to determine the context of the remark, which was made to a closed Democratic caucus meeting on Capitol Hill on July 29. [...] Generally, she treats the quote as a case study on the risks of anonymous sources, not a clear-cut case of shoddy journalism. She also demeans critics of the Post's handling of the issue by calling them 'partisans.'" And, of course, Howell doesn't seem to see it as all that bad. This misquote was blasted all over the media, but the WaPo won't be treating the real story as news.

Bush's victory in the war on tourism - Americans can't afford to go travel much, and the falling dollar means even Canada isn't such an attractive stop anymore.

Uh oh, is he in charge? "Vice President Cheney, speaking Sunday with Saakashvili, expressed the United States' "solidarity" with the Georgian people and their elected leaders, Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride said in a statement. Cheney praised the decision to withdraw from the conflict zone and said that Russian aggression must not go unanswered." Matt Yglesias has a good point about The Limits of Bluster and how Bushian cheerleading led Georgia into a trap he can't get them out of (via Atrios), and the comment thread is fairly interesting until you get to the wingers who claim that criticism of another stupid Bush policy is "blaming America". Oh, yeah, Israel is in it, too.

Tim Rutton claims that the Edwards Confession signals that old media has been dethroned in terms of who sets the limits on what is acceptable journalism. Oh, I don't think so - they're still setting limits on whether questions about John McCain's probity. Via Cursor, where you can get all the rest of the news - that is, if y'all send 'em some money so they can keep doing it. Give!

Another happy outcome for the shadowy Gnome Liberation Front.

No, I'm much more in the mood for a different Moody Blues track.

13:35 BST

Watching the defectives

Ivins Anthrax Case Another Black Eye for Network News: While cable news dutifully devotes nonstop coverage to the latest random criminal cases -- kidnappings, shootouts, murderous love triangles, car chases -- it's telling when a supposed break in one of the biggest manhunts in FBI history, for a terrorist who murdered and poisoned multiple American citizens with anthrax, takes a backseat to nearly every other story. That is, if it's mentioned at all." That would be the terrorist who murdered and poisoned multiple American citizens and tried to assassinate two Democratic leaders with anthrax.

Doesn't look like John McCain will really be happy until there is open war with Russia. He may get his wish, since the "serious" people seem to think we have to "defend an ally." Some people have observed that McCain's history lesson on Georgia appears to come straight from Wikipedia, but I'm inclined to think they both have a common source: the lobbyist for Georgia who happens to be one of his advisors. Meanwhile, the Secretary of State refuses to interrupt her holiday during an international crisis that her administration created. Oh, wait, that's the whole last seven years....

Jane Smiley says: "Every time I read the words 'Rielle Hunter', I am going to say the words 'Vicki Iseman' and 'Cindy McCain'. There you go. Rielle Hunter Vicki Iseman Cindy McCain Rielle Hunter Vicki Iseman Cindy McCain Rielle Hunter Vicki Iseman Cindy McCain."

It really is a scandal that dozens of Blue Dogs and Republicans are facing no challenges in this election. Meanwhile, Carol Shea-Porter, who isn't on the corporate payroll, is being targetted hard by right-wing loonies in Freedom's Watch, who are filling the airwaves with ads attacking her.

03:41 BST


Paul Krassner was kind enough to pass along an excerpt from his autobiography, Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counterculture, (Simon & Schuster in 1993), to fill in some background on that Hustler cover:

The cover of the June 1978 issue of Hustler was scheduled to feature Larry Flynt's vow--"We will no longer hang women up like pieces of meat!"--and, as a visual contradiction of that quote, it would be accompanied by photo-artist Alfred Gescheidt's portrait of a woman as a piece of meat. Inside, there would be more of his work--a six-page menu of nude women, plastered with appropriate condiments, mustard or tomato sauce as if they were actual pieces of meat, superimposed on various meals, such as a frankfurter or a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. An invitation government stamp would label this as the "Last All-Meat Issue." A memo from senior editor Tim Conaway to the art editor summed up these carnivorous machinations.

"The meatball shot will face the hamburger shot and that would give us two open pussy shots. The turkey shot was re-shot with open pussy, but Paul got the misimpression that we only needed 50% pink and so he okay'd staying with the original turkey shot. However, we convinced him that the entire object of re-shooting the meat spread was to get more pink, and so we persuaded Paul that the pink turkey shot should be chosen."

Actually, I approved that turkey shot, not because it contributed to the correct pink quota, but because Conaway had persuaded me that this was a better shot since the model's face was turned away from the camera.

"But ordinarily," I pointed out, "you've always wanted the model's eyes looking directly at you."

"Yeah, but when I eat a turkey, I don't wanna see the face looking at me."

But then a new problem popped up. The same photo-art selections by Gescheidt appeared in another men's magazine, and Hustler's art department had to concoct a quick substitute cover. Editor Bruce David brought in the new cover for my approval--a trick photo of a woman's body being stuffed upside down into a meat grinder, so that only her legs were still showing.

"What's this supposed to mean?" I asked. "Now that we aren't hanging women up like pieces of meat, we're taking the next step and putting them into a meat grinder?"

But Bruce assured me that there was no time for anything else, and the production department backed him up. When that issue was published, the cover immediately provoked protests in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. I was accused of advocating attacks on women. I publicly apologized to those who felt hurt by the meat-grinder image, explaining that it was Hustler's hurried attempt at self-parody.

Nevertheless, that cover was destined to become an unofficial symbol of male oppression. In fact, when I attended a feminist conference with an old friend, Janet Bode--whose book on rape, Fighting Back, had just been published--she asked me to walk in separately from her, and then we would meet later.

(Thanks to Mark.)

02:39 BST

Monday, 11 August 2008

Open windows

"U.S. guns arm Mexican drug cartels" - Sometimes I get the feeling all that Second Amendment wheeze isn't about the Constitution or defending yourself at all, but just about being able to sell arms - to everyone, even our "enemies". (Does Lou Dobbs know about this?)

Marcy Wheeler has been going over Suskind's material and makes a point about "Habbush's Freedom Fries Forgeries" - this is the same guy who forged the letters meant to "prove" that George Galloway was being paid-off by Saddam and that France was trying to undermine Iraqi peace talks. (Oh, but perhaps we gave Edwards too much credit.)

Krugman wonders, "Can It Happen Here?" He's talking about a rational health policy for America like the rest of the modern world already has. The Democratic Party platform, he says, "puts health care reform front and center." And the idea of universal healthcare is enormously popular among Americans - not just Democrats, either. But will they have the bottle to deliver?

"Corporate America Readying Assault Against Pro-Worker Legislation: There is a bill looming called the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which figures to be a massive throw-down between corporations digging in their heels to preserve business as usual and the middle to lower class workers -- ordinary folks who see rising gas, food, utility, college tuition, etc. prices rising while their paychecks don't budge -- who want to have the freedom to join a union (80% of all employees are paid by the hour in this country, and union workers make some 30% more than their non-union counterparts when benefits are figured in). Corporate America is mobilized, as we've seen with Wal-Mart telling its supervisors how dangerous Democrats are and insurance signs mocking Obama. Their lobbyists are right now raising millions of dollars to support GOP candidates."

Stuff like this always reminds me of how Bush described 2001 as a great year. As far as he's concerned, if he's fine, America is fine.

21:27 BST

The nightmare continues

Is there anyone left who thinks Mark Karlin is just being paranoid when he says, "If I Were a Betting Man, I'd Wager that Cheney Was Behind the Anthrax Attacks"? Not me. "You'd have to be a terribly cautious and willfully blind person not to think that the Bush Administration was capable of orchestrating the anthrax attacks. You'd almost have to be a fool." No "almost" about it.

There are probably already places in the world where the word "Fallujah" ranks at least as high on the atrocity list as "Kristallnacht."

I know the Republicans like to pretend this is about "limited government" and "low taxes", but I think a better name for it would be "murder".

Yes, white supremacist groups are looking forward to President Obama. (Also: Homophobia is expensive. But you knew that.)

Mark Kernes sent me the link to Pat Buchanan's article sounding a relieved death-knell for democracy with the words, "You won't believe an American could write this." Apparently, it wasn't the fall of the Berlin Wall that was "the end of history", but the low poll numbers of the worst administration ever. Clearly, our dissatisfaction with our "liberal democracy" shows that this just isn't a viable form of government. "Democratic capitalism, it would appear, now has a great new rival -- autocratic capitalism. In Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, nations are beginning to imitate the autocrats of China and Russia, even as some in the 1930s sought to ape fascist Italy and Nazi Germany."

Have you said "Impeach!" today?

Spanner Trust hasn't posted their latest newsletter at their site, yet, but I posted it at the FAC website so you could have a look at their guide to the new "extreme porn" law. Note that the government admitted there was no evidence that such a law would be useful in preventing sexual violence of any kind, even while they defended promotion of this new law. I expect many innocent people to have their lives destroyed as a result of its enactment.

18:26 BST

Links after lunch

Atrios: "It's one of the many lost narratives, but "Iraq as libertarian paradise" was one of the big goals of the people in charge. It has become a glibertarian paradise, which is no surprise to anyone." Interestingly, as Charles Dodgson noted a long time ago, there's a bit of libertarian paradise in parts of Pakistan.

And speaking of Pakistan, check out Juan Cole, "Mountain of Evidence Marshaled against Musharraf; US Refuses to Back Elected Civilian government: [...] The Bush administration is refusing firmly to support the elected civilian government against Musharraf who came to power as a military dictator in 1999 and has never contested a free and fair election in which he had an opponent." That's your democracy on the march, of course.

Down in New Orleans, Ray Nagin and his friends are still helpfully screwing things up, and Moldy City is documenting the atrocities. (By the way, I'm not someone who incessantly watches weather patterns, but even I have noticed that there is no longer anywhere to live that's "safe" and sensible. I mean, look at this. I remember how the Republicans carried on about how it was stupid to live in a place like New Orleans where weather might happen, and I wonder just where they think it's gonna be safe to live.)

Attaturk reckons Georgia is Mexico. (Also: Who is this drunk? I can see why his wife is pretending not to know him....)

Anna alerts* me to "many, many, many, MANY bras" which, I imagine, you can find somewhere at this site (which comes with noise). Ah, this page. (Well, at least it's cheaper than some of the stuff that's around.)

Simels dug the Patti Smith movie.

15:38 BST

Zebras are reactionaries

Digby on the RNC and Fox's crusade against The Nonexistent Crisis: "I think the most darkly hilarious thing about all this is that the RNC web page is called "You Can't Make This Up." Of course, that's exactly what the crisis of Voter fraud is: made up. It's just not a problem. But bogus claims of voter fraud actually do suppress the vote --- a win-win for the bad guys." So the Attorney General stole ballots from three counties - apparently, black people voting is "voter fraud".

I'm with Turkana on this: "The argument is made- well, he was running for office, lied about it, blah blah blah. Wouldn't it be better if we all stood together and said he never should have been asked about it in the first place? That it shouldn't be a political factor? That it's up to us to try to change that dynamic? As long as we are afraid of and submit to the politics of personal lives, we allow such politics to persist and prevail."

At C&L, Cokie Roberts attacks Obama for going to Hawaii instead of Myrtle Beach, and Pelosi says she "hasn't read" Articles of Impeachment.

Could the Iraqis want us to get out of their country? I wonder how we could find out....

James Wolcott says, "Jeff Goldstein's attention-sucking antics at Protein Wisdom remind me of James Brown's classic walk-off," and also that we vulgar lefty bloggers are actually much more polite than those right-wing bloggers. (And speaking of vulgar....) I heart Wolcott and he's welcome at my table any time.

Bonnie Schupp caught some neat shots at the zoo. Wait, that sounds like a cue for a song!

11:07 BST

Two tablespoons of cinnamon

Odd. Julia noticed a guy writing in The Washington Post saying that Obama should run a post-partisan campaign that doesn't say much about how reprehensibly the Republicans have handled stewardship of our nation - and McCain's collusion in that criminal enterprise - and another guy writing in the Guardian saying that it's "about John McCain and the failed policies and stale ideas of the Republican party." And they are both named Michael Tomasky! (Elsewhere, Julia notes the unfairness of passing judgment on the administration for their show trials and illegal detentions.)

More on how the administration seems to have tried to encourage A self-destructive approach from Georgia.

Count MadKane among the disappointed, but she has a good question.

I'm completely disoriented by the fact that the Hugos have already been announced and we're not even halfway through August. I wasn't prepared for this. And I see that John Scalzi won the Dave Langford fan writer Hugo. Congrats to all our friends who won, condolences to those who didn't (but you know it's the nomination that's the real honor). Full list here, photo of Dave Hartwell's Hugo wearing a tie here, along with the link for the complete voting details.

Isaac Hayes, RIP. And of course his hit song, "Chocolate Salty Balls".

01:34 BST

Sunday, 10 August 2008


The anthrax vaccine is associated with psychosis. Er, weren't Cheney and others in the government mainlining this stuff in 2001?

Mother Jones notes that the son of the woman who masqueraded as an anti-gun activist while really working for the gun lobby, has suddenly had a change of employment, and speculates that the exposure of his mother (who he apparently helped) might have something to do with it, despite protestations by the employer.

Rassumssen is still too close for comfort. Then again, that's a national tracking poll, and we don't have national elections. At least this looks a bit better.

Naomi Klein on how China has used the Olympics to upgrade the security state. (via)

Last week appeasers tried to slip some language that's "sensitive" to the forced-pregnancy crowd into the Democratic Party platform, but fortunately, the forces of light triumphed. (Also: Hawaii is apparently unAmerican.)

Cindy is on the ballot - you can offer your support here.

Sam Cooke on John McCain, via Letter From Here.

I saw a rainbow with a faint double when I looked outside, so I shot a few photos. Not, alas, as bright as what I could see with the naked eye, but still kinda cool.

21:39 BST

Politics and stuff

McCain claims Obama's campaign is "bizarrely in sync with Moscow." They never get tired of that one, do they - they know it will push the "commie" button with some people even all these years later. But then, even I have never realized just how creepy and nasty McCain really is. Having Rove's crew working for him is bringing out the real real McCain. Karl Rove likes to pretend that McCain doesn't say enough about his biography and his faith, but aside from that being a half-truth where his biography is concerned (he is forever hyping the parts that sound good, but not the parts that tell you who he really is), there's a very good reason he doesn't talk about his faith.

Wow, even Ben Stein admits that Republican economic policies are crap.

Michael Moore has some good advice for Democrats on how not to blow another gimme election. (I don't get this at all. For one thing, the media will not shut up about it, and secondly, you don't need to give a "reason" for having the last Democratic president speak at the Democratic convention - and even if you do have some other reason, you should shut up about it.)

George Walker Bush - first president in more than 50 years to approve the execution of a member of the US military. (Ellroon is probably right about the place in Paraguay. Look for rape rooms, too.)

Yeah, I was getting sick of all the rain, and I'm so glad to see some sunshine today. Meanwhile, Sammy has a cool slo-mo video of a lightning crack that might interest you.

Google seems to have a different logo every day for the Olympics, so you might want to check regularly.

Great Knockers of Italy

14:25 BST

On the Infobahn

Elle Macpherson Intimates Revel underwired braBra of the Week

Ah, memories....

Did you know you can find free short stories by Charlie Stross and Cory Doctorow at the bloggy new

Eric Boehlert says, "Trust me, John McCain doesn't know what bad press looks like [...] Let me put it another way: When McCain gets regularly portrayed in the press as a serial liar the way Al Gore was in 2000, then he can complain about the press. When McCain is portrayed as an angry lunatic the way Howard Dean was in 2003, then he can complain. When McCain's war record is dragged through the mud while the press looks on for weeks too frightened to call out the partisan accusers, the way John Kerry's military record was, then he can complain. When McCain's campaign is defined by his haircut the way John Edwards' was, then he can complain. When McCain is portrayed as a cackling witch the way Hillary Clinton was this winter, then he can complain. When McCain is portrayed as arrogant and presumptuous the way Obama is today, then he can complain. But pretending that when the press simply chronicles McCain's disjointed campaign means that reporters and pundits have somehow turned on the candidate -- that they are attacking him and piling on -- is just ludicrous."

Suskind's got the goods: "A forged letter linking Saddam Hussein to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks was ordered on White House stationery and probably came from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, according to a new transcript of a conversation with the Central Intelligence Agency's former Deputy Chief of Clandestine Operations Robert Richer." (Also: Thomas Frank explains conservatives to Colbert.)

Next time you see an article in a newspaper or magazine that talks about healthcare plans, make sure and write them a letter pointing out that HR 676 is Medicare for All - not a medical provider, but a healthcare insurer, and that you already pay a lot more in health insurance premiums and taxes combined for healthcare than what single-payer would cost.

Thanks to Ginger Mayerson for alerting me to an article at Recording Industry vs The People that says Patry is planning to restore the deleted archives at The Patry Copyright Blog.

I'm not actually sure how to describe this, but watch it and see what you think. (It's not long.)

01:37 BST

Saturday, 09 August 2008

When nothing sounds too paranoid to be true

Fred Clark, Blogtopia's expert on the Left Behind series, and LB's co-author, Tim LaHaye, agree that the allusions to LB are definitely in McCain's "The One" ad, and also that the comparisons between the Antichrist and Obama are incorrect. (Yes, Skippy* invented that word.)

Kei and Yuri comment at Eschaton:"Xymph notes that this anthrax was really really good stuff, beyond state of the art, and could only be made by a few people in one place in the world. The few people who could exclude Ivins, but they are themselves excluded by the FBI. The FBI expects you to believe that Ivins, all by himself, exceeded the limits of the modern science of weaponized anthrax without training, equipment or too much time spent getting to know this stuff; the FBI's story is that it was literally this guy and only this guy all by himself working at home in his spare time. The only thing that comes out of this is that it is now inarguable that the FBI has a completely irrational fetish for Lone Wolf Messiah, the one guy who did everything all by himself and oh well he got shot or killed himself but because it was just him we can move on. When was the last scholarly book you read that did not take more than one page to give thanks to the many other people who helped with just the one book? But every crime on Earth was conceived, planned, prepared for, executed and followed up by one guy by himself."

Jamison Foser: "What makes this criticism so distasteful is that throughout the primaries, the media kept saying various candidates looked 'presidential' or 'like a president.' The pundits rarely explained what it means to 'look[] like a president,' but those candidates had at least two things in common: They were white, and they were men. I don't remember Barack Obama (or Hillary Clinton) being described that way. So, after excluding Barack Obama from their lists of candidates who 'look presidential,' the media have moved on to suggesting he looks too presidential." Okay, I realize there's nothing paranoid about the suggestion that the media will find ways to belittle Democrats.

I know, I know, humans look for patterns....

Caption contest

"Run For Your Life"

18:10 BST

The eternal need for more coffee

Trust us, because we don't trust you: "Well, well, well: it seems that the FBI has admitted it was spying on reporters for the NY Times and the Washington Post in their respective Indonesia Bureaus." You'd think this would be the top headline at The Washington Post, all full of outrage, but it's not. In fact, I can't even find it on their online front page. (It's that tabloid story at the top, instead.) The NYT was slightly better - the top headline is about Russia and Georgia, and the tabloid story by one of the Spite Girls is second-ranked, but if you scroll down you can find the FBI story* headline under "More News".

So it turns out that T. Boone Pickens' "non-partisan" idea is "non-partisan" in the same way that clean air and water are "partisan". That is, it's "non-partisan" to foul the environment so Republican Malefactors of Great Wealth can control energy and get richer while making you poorer. If you wish it to be otherwise, you're a "partisan Democrat".

Masters of war: "As Sergei Shamba, the foreign affairs minister of Abkhazia, told me in 2006: 'The Georgians are euphoric because they have been equipped, trained, that they have gained military experience in Iraq. It feeds this revanchist mood... How can South Ossetia be demilitarized, when all of Georgia is bristling with weaponry, and it's only an hour's ride by tank from Tbilisi to Tskhinvali?' One of the U.S. military trainers put it to me a bit more bluntly. 'We're giving them the knife,' he said. 'Will they use it?'"

A word from Elizabeth Edwards. I tried to ignore this story but it kept seeping in anyway. I'm not interested in it. I just can't bring myself to be scandalized that people who are surrounded by admirers get sucked into the turn-on of it all. I pretty much expect it, in fact. But when I heard there was something about him meeting with the people involved, my first thought was, "Oh, they were trying to blackmail him." Looks like Jeralyn had the same idea.

William Patry has closed up shop at The Patry Copyright Blog, deleting the archives and leaving just a farewell post. A post at Groklaw provides background that suggests this may be a result of attempts to undermine his work in defense of fair use, something the corporates are surreptitiously trying to get rid of.

It's apparently going around again, so if you missed Matt Taibbi's little video for The Great Derangement, here it is.

13:05 BST

Assorted links

Thomas Frank talked to Amy Goodman and Sharif Abdel Kouddous about his book, The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule, on Democracy NOW! Thursday. An excerpt from the book is in Harper's this month, as "The wrecking crew: How a gang of right-wing con men destroyed Washington and made a killing", but not yet available for free.

Conason on Suskind: "That story begins during the final weeks of 2003, when everyone in the White House was suffering severe embarrassment over both the origins and the consequences of the invasion of Iraq. No weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq. No evidence of significant connections between Saddam Hussein's regime and the al-Qaida terrorist organization had been discovered there either. Nothing in this costly misadventure was turning out as advertised by the Bush administration."

Judd Legum (who you may remember from Think Progress) is one of the people involved in an initiative to frighten Republicans out of giving money for McNasty's ad campaigns, part of the Strange Bedfellows campaign, as Glenn Greenwald explains.

Another incumbent bites the dust - and it looks like his close relationship with Big Oil may have done him in.

The value of any large company's representative's signature on an employment contract is now so meaningless that they should be required to pay your salary or wages in advance.

Teaser for The Audacity Of Democracy

03:04 BST

Friday, 08 August 2008

Sex, politics, and journalism

Down in comments, Adult Video News editor Mark Kernes says I am "Right on all counts" with regard to the history of the Hustler meat-grinder cover and Paul Krassner's brief career as the editor responsible, and advises that Krassner now works for AVN, pointing to this new Krassner article in which he discusses the real reasons for the bust of Eliot Spitzer and enlists Margo St. James herself to comment: "The prostitution prohibition criminalizes women for the money, not the sex. The law is clear that adults in private can have all the sex they think they want, as long as no consideration is offered or accepted. This is the foundation for keeping women's bodies firmly in the control of the government, as far as their sexuality and right to choose to have children. As long as this stigma is placed on women, Roe vs. Wade is on shaky ground. This is the bottom line for women's rights, and repeal is imperative for full equality."

Dylan Hales On Ron Suskind and CIA/Drugs vs. Saddam/Al Qaeda: "One thing this does illustrate however is just how pro-war the neocon infested media is. The case for collusion between Saddam and Wahabbi inspired "Islamic Radicals" was always flimsy and the fact that this one piece of information was seen as a trump card over all the other available evidence is truly a massive indictment of the media echo chamber." Hales notes that when "journalists" like Stephen Hayes promote baseless GOP propaganda, the fact that they seldom get anywhere near the facts is always forgiven and their careers continue, but that's not what happened when Gary Webb wrote an important exposé of the CIA's complicity with drugs being run through LA: "The dividing line here is clear. Those who side with state and the establishment will always get the benefit of the doubt from the "watchdogs" in the media, no matter how far-fetched their conspiracy theories are. Those that challenge power get the noose."

Jonathan Schwarz says Suskind is planning to release his transcripts, and Tom Tomorrow wonders if Krugman has been reading...Tom Tomorrow.

Ever notice how any time a Republican says anything that's unflattering about the administration, they soon have "a change of heart" just after it becomes public?

22:36 BST

Are we safer, yet?

This could so easily have gone the other way: "A 'NAIVE' photographer employed by parents to take pictures of their young daughters to turn into images of fairies has been prosecuted because the photos fell under the definition of child porn. Under the legislation, the images of the two girls - aged 10 and 12 - were classed as level one child pornography, despite the fact their parents had asked for the pictures to be taken and were even present at photo shoots. Dr Marcus Jonathan Angus Phillips, a keen photographer and administrator at Sheffield University, was hauled before the courts after 'concerned' staff at a branch of Bonusprint reported his pictures to the NSPCC. At Sheffield Crown Court yesterday Judge Lawler QC said it was a 'wholly exceptional' case and sentenced the 38-year-old, to a 150-hour community service order, sparing him jail and stressing there was no need for him to sign the sex offenders' register." Dr. Phillips better never piss anyone off, or he might find this case being "revisited" with entirely different results. Even so, this must have been quite an ordeal for the poor guy - and he's not alone. People were safer before these child porn laws were ever put on the books.

Russia invades Georgia. I quite honestly can't think of a thing to say about this. I'm still trying to assimilate it.

Paul Krugman on the Know-Nothing Politics of the Party of Stupid: "The party's de facto slogan has become: 'Real men don't think things through.'"

I thought I'd see what Google said, since I can no longer remember the last time I noticed anyone casually saying it. Seems like the only time anyone says it anymore is to remark that it's no longer true.

17:45 BST


Summer rose, coralI'm happy to see that for a change the color on that rose is nearly the same one I see in real life. I also posted a photo of an ad I saw in the Underground that isn't a bra of the week but does have a certain eroticism to it. (And why is CBS selling ad space on walls?)

A nifty chart shows that if inflation were still being calculated the way it was before 1983, the official figure would have been 11.6% in March: "Fodder for thought for those curious about U.S. economic statistics. While conventional wisdom (or publicized rationale) often claims that the recent adjustments to the core methodology remove components that are "more volatile", the evidence here suggests that the new method basically removes 3% from the previously computed rates. Remarkable how stable this difference is over time." (Thanks to FungiFromYuggoth for the tip.)

"Truth, Justice, and the American Way [...] A consensus has developed among political and media elites that no good purpose would be served by enforcing the law(!) and so for the sake of a smooth transfer of power and a calming of the political waters in the capitol we must let it all pass." Personally, I'm opposed to a "truth and reconciliation" approach to these people. It's not just about whether a bunch of Democrats will be cranky if the criminals don't go to jail, it's about throwing away what was probably the most vital resource our nation had for over 200 years - our position in the eyes of the world. Without the rule of law, the only thing we have is bombs.

TNH: "What I'd really like to know is why the civilized world hasn't stopped us. If this misbehavior of ours goes on much longer, they're going to have to stop us for their own sake, not just out of abstract justice. Why not get started now? And while they're at it, they can send in some election monitors." The rest of the world is, in fact, taking steps to contain us. They can't bomb us but they are doing their damnedest to make us less relevant economically. This is complicated by the fact that they have too much of their own money tangled up with ours at the moment and we may be leading everyone to a worldwide Depression, so they are moving slowly and carefully, but anyone who reads the papers can see the signs.

I certainly can't disagree with the idea that Karl Rove is back to throwing crap, and Obama does need to confront it head-on. But the best way to do that is to return the favor. It's McCain who is frivolous, running for president when we are in tricky economic times when he himself admits to knowing bugger-all about economics, and his economic advisor is the very man who got us into this mess in the first place. It's McCain who is rich, lazy, and irresponsible, and who has serious personal issues. Maybe a few references to his wealthy wife could add a "just a gigolo" touch to it, as well. I disagree completely with the theory that he can't hit back. If that's really true (and this was always going to be a question in this race), he shouldn't have run for president now, either. We need a winner, and if you support a candidate who you believe has to throw away winning strategies just because he's black, you shouldn't have supported him. Either he can play all-out or he shouldn't be in the big leagues. Meanwhile, he proved to be adept in the primaries at spreading nasty memes while mostly keeping his own fingerprints off of them, and I'm sure Axlerod hasn't forgotten how to do that.

Dennis Kucinich is still collecting signatures for impeachment - sign up today, and spread the world. And don't forget Wexler Wants Hearings. Wexler, like Kucinich, has become a target because of his drive for impeachment and his opposition to the occupation of Iraq, and is facing moneyed interests in the election - help him out if you can.

15:57 BST


I guess the whole "Jews hate Jesus" thing didn't work out so well for Nikki Tinker:

US House of Representatives
Dist 9 Tennessee State and Federal Primary
Steve Cohen* (D / Inc.) 50,284 79%
Nikki Tinker (D) 11,814 19%
Congratulations to Steve Cohen, and a hearty Up Yours to Rahm and his minions for supporting "Black Democrats backed surreptitiously by Republican money and the corporate and right-wing foundation elite." (Via Atrios.)

I found this really terrific Steve Greenberg cartoon at Alternate Brain.

Marvelous Architectures that eRobin found before I did.

13:04 BST

Starts and stumbles

Rahm Emmanuel and the DCC are supporting a candidate who is running overtly antisemitic campaign against a good progressive Democrat (an incumbent!) in Tennessee.

Here's a point: Hamdan was convicted of a "crime" that didn't even exist at the time he was captured, and had nothing to do with his original charges (for which there was no evidence, which is why they had to invent a different one to add to the list).

It never ceases to disgust me how publications that purport to hold a "liberal" view on abortion nevertheless persistently publish articles that undermine reproductive rights, and have no room for articles defending women's control of their own reproduction.

Christy Hardin Smith: "Well, well. Look who allegedly spent a little time under oath in front of a federal grand jury: it's Mr. Hiding the Sockpuppet, Hans Von Spakovsky." (via)

John McCain isn't really a "maverick" - not that it would be much use if he really were. (I also read this post, which has the words "Pete Rose" in the title.)

Desperation: "Durham agreed to plead guilty to murder -- but only if he could get a break from jail food. The judge agreed and granted Durham a feast of KFC chicken, Popeye's chicken, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, carrot cake and ice cream. After Wednesday's sentencing, Durham was to get the rest of the deal -- calzones, lasagna, pizza and ice cream, his defense attorney confirmed. They will pay the tab."

More discussion of Chomsky's remarks on pornography at This is So Gay. It should be noted that the Hustler meat-grinder cover was a satirical response to the charge that putting women through a meat grinder was precisely what Hustler was about. As I understand it, the person responsible for that cover was the then-editor Paul Krassner, who is a political satirist rather than a career pornographer. I seem to recall that Krassner's career at Hustler was rather short.

Where do they come from?

Oh, dear.

Ah, I see Kip Manley is about to be very busy.

03:12 BST

Thursday, 07 August 2008

See those things you didn't quite consume

Somerby is right about this. These "insights" into the racist nature of McCain's ad campaign come across to the public like a load of cabalistic crackpot victimology. The Republicans love this stuff, and it doesn't matter if they are slyly slipping in racist hints or not, because when it's subtle (or nonexistent) enough that even 40% of black people don't know what the hell you're complaining about, it starts to make even the starkest examples of genuine racism look like just more crying "Wolf!" They were happy to let you run with this crap while it was working against Hillary, but they are not going to leave it alone when you try it against them. Just stop it. Obama was always going to be attacked for being "too popular" and for acting "presumptuous" (presidential) and being inexperienced, not because he is black or even because he's popular, but because he started running for president when he had very little experience in national office under his belt. He was always going to be labelled "unpatriotic" because he's a Democrat. You know this. You knew this four years ago. You knew it eight years ago. Don't forget it now.

My first awareness of Donna Brazile was seeing her quoted in a newspaper article as saying something that was stupid and destructive to the administration in which she served. Since then, she has persisted in saying things that are destructive to Democrats. It is a rare occasion when she is quoted as saying something that is not destructive and stupid - and, while given the media environment we have, it may be she is saying many smart things but only being quoted when she says something that serves the Republicans, the fact remains that she says and does stupid and destructive things far too often to explain why she is still regarded as a vital part of the Democratic Party apparatus and encouraged to go on television to spread her stinking memes. She hangs out with a bad crowd and carries cooties to the whole party. Her performance in this year's primary was reprehensible and highly divisive, as well. Whatever I may think of PUMA, I can definitely get behind their desire to see her stripped of her superdelegate status and any other position she holds within the Democratic Party.

What's worse than torturing, maiming, robbing, and killing people?

Hm, here's a whole blog about what's wrong with the way we do adoption.

"Fresh Garbage"

17:30 BST

Starting the fightback?

I have criticized Obama's failure to make this election about how the Republicans have screwed us up and how McCain has been helping them for years. I think this kind of "post-partisanship" has been a serious mistake, and has made the campaign all about Obama - which means the news media can spend all its time examining Obama's flaws and weaknesses instead of talking about the fact that McCain is part of the problem and has no intention of being part of the solution.

Yesterday, finally, Obama made a speech that admitted to the real issue:

You won't hear me say this too often, but I couldn't agree more with the explanation that Senator McCain offered a few weeks ago. He said, "Our dangerous dependence on foreign oil has been thirty years in the making, and was caused by the failure of politicians in Washington to think long-term about the future of the country."

What Senator McCain neglected to mention was that during those thirty years, he was in Washington for twenty-six of them. And in all that time, he did little to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. He voted against increased fuel efficiency standards and opposed legislation that included tax credits for more efficient cars. He voted against renewable sources of energy. Against clean biofuels. Against solar power. Against wind power. Against an energy bill that - while far from perfect - represented the largest investment in renewable sources of energy in the history of this country. So when Senator McCain talks about the failure of politicians in Washington to do anything about our energy crisis, it's important to remember that he's been a part of that failure. Now, after years of inaction, and in the face of public frustration over rising gas prices, the only energy proposal he's really promoting is more offshore drilling - a position he recently adopted that has become the centerpiece of his plan, and one that will not make a real dent in current gas prices or meet the long-term challenge of energy independence.

It's what's known as campaigning. You can't just make it about yourself, you have to make it about how the other side isn't good enough - it's called campaigning. This isn't enough of it, but it's a start.

(Thanks to CMike for supplying the link.)

15:30 BST

The decline and fall

From the invaluable Cursor (who can always use your donations):

Ron Suskind begins a "Countdown" interview by parsing the statements of CIA officials who are now distancing themselves from his book, and Tim Rutten looks at the media firestorm that accompanies books like Suskind's, which, "reveals no he said/she said dispute over the letter," written on "creamy White House stationery."

In responding to Suskind's book, which gets a mixed review from Salon, John Dean says that "It looks like Cheney's been very effective in setting up his deniability and being the fail-safe for Bush," while agreeing that Suskind's Iraq war allegations alone are worse than Watergate.

The explosive charges from a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter didn't merit a mention on the signature news shows of either PBS, or, CNN, whose "bulldog reporter" did manage "to rip the Lohan family to shreds" earlier in the day.

Seven months into a deep recession, and the "conventional wisdom" is that we're still arguing about whether or not we have slipped into recession.

Another "advantage" of contracting out our national security to foreign-owned companies is that when Americans who work for them try to sue them for violations of their rights, they discover they have no rights.

Hmm, Steve Benen seems only now to have noticed that the RNC is run entirely by lying loonies who make stuff up about Democrats. The lie that alerted him to this is that Obama is planning to give $845 billion of your American tax dollars to fight poverty on foreign shores. No such plan exists or has even been discussed, of course, but if the RNC says it, you can bet it will be all over the internet and eventually in the news as if it were true.

They love to commit terrible crimes, and they thought they found a good excuse when someone other than them committed his own terrible crime. "In the case of Jose Medellin, though, the use of execution violates our own laws." But, you know, they break laws with abandon anyway, so it's no big deal, right?

14:19 BST

Awkward instants

I find it hard to be too scandalized by news of secret deals between the British and Moqtada al-Sadr's guys not to fight when the US has some interesting deals with "the enemy", too.

Hm, even CNN seems to be a bit disgusted with how the FBI treated Bruce Ivins. That's the news part of this story - that CNN is pushing back. And even journalists are saying that Brian Ross should burn the sources that spread the lies about the anthrax.

"When people say dreams don't come true, tell them about Hamdan." Interesting; war crimes have been defined down and up at the same time. Torture isn't a war crime, but driving is.

Doncha love the way rich Republicans get together and fund "grassroots" groups? I know I do. I wonder if they have any relationship to all those McCain donors who have mysterious money to donate to Republicans even though they're so apolitical that they aren't even registered to vote. From a guy who explains that he's got "a lot of friends" in the Middle East...?

An open letter from Barack Obama in response to the plea from lefty supporters in The Nation.

Barbara Walters has terrible taste in men - and financial advisors.

03:48 BST

Wednesday, 06 August 2008

If you can believe your eyes and ears

Become a StrangeBedfellow!It's been another geekery day, sorry about the light posting. Here's some links:

Got that Strange Bedfellows Moneybomb graphic via Pruning Shears - you can click to get one, too.

Leaving aside the fact that McCain's ideas on energy won't "carry us through" until some other energy program is finalized, Paris Hilton's ad still works better than McCain's.

I do not enjoy watching all this over-caution again.

I often wonder whether Little Nero gets a giggle out of the idea that he's going to places like China (or anywhere else) to lecture them about human rights.

Today we celebrate the seventh anniversary of Bush's famous vacation briefing on the impending attack on the US that he ignored. Oh, yeah, and there's another anniversary, too.

Looking at what's going on in Mauritania, I'm thinking, Who needs unions when the whole shop is armed?

The General provides the one true McCain ad.

Eaten by Google.

A revolution in solar storage?

Roger Ebert celebrates the discovery of Metropolis, uncut.

23:07 BST

Alarums and excursions

I don't know what to make of stories like this one: "Soaring oil prices will leave the Iraqi government with a cumulative budget surplus of as much as $79 billion by year's end, according to an American federal oversight agency. But Iraq has spent only a minute fraction of that on reconstruction costs, which are now largely borne by the United States." There's reconstruction? And the wingers aren't talking about how wonderful it is? Did our troops paint another school? Hey, if we want Iraqis to spend their own money on reconstruction, I have a great idea: Let's get out of their way and let them get on with it.

I had that world-turned-upside-down feeling when I saw that Musharraf has canceled his trip to China because he has to fight impeachment at home. The guy is a military dictator, for godssakes, and he can be threatened with impeachment while our own so-called democratically elected Congress acts all helpless in the face of our White House being occupied by the criminal government of BushCheney? Jeez.

Rassmussen polling makes it pretty clear that McCain hit paydirt - and Obama got an own goal - with the criticism of The Britiney-Paris Hilton ad: "Not surprisingly, the McCain ad generates significantly different perceptions along racial and ethnic lines. Most African-American voters-58%--saw the McCain ad as racist. Just 18% of white voters and 14% of all other voters shared that view. [...] As for Obama's comment, 53% of white voters saw it as racist, as did 44% of African-Americans and 61% of all other voters." What's most interesting there, and should make you sit up and think, is that such a large proportion of black respondents did not agree that the ad was racist, but thought Obama's comment was. Since the news media has not reported that comment about how Obama looked on money was a direct response to a previous McCain ad that showed Obama looking different on money, the latter perception shouldn't be terribly remarkable. but I'd love to see a break-down of those responses based on age. A comment in this thread (#27 by Slocum) may provide an important insight: "... it backfires not so much because people are outraged at the insult to McCain and feel sympathy. It backfires because a lot of voters look at this and think, 'So is this how it would be? 4-8 years of hair-trigger racial sensitivity? Every criticism of Obama having to be carefully scrutinized to see how it could be construed? Do we really want to have to deal with all that crap?' It backfires because instead of promising that Obama will help the U.S. transcend race, it suggests an Obama election may mean an unending racial sensitivity training re-education course of the kind that many Americans have occasionally found themselves sentenced to as a condition of employment or higher education."

Carole Joffe says the new DHHS expansion of the definition of "abortion" to include contraception in general would be very popular with the people of Chelm. (Thanks to Dave Ettlin for the tip. Oh, yeah, and his Aunt Alice has some advice for us.)

12:15 BST

Tearing out my hair

Chris Floyd says it again: "In a land crawling with armed - and armored - SWAT teams, with operatives from innumerable federal agencies packing heat and happy to use it, a land where more than 2 million people languish in prison (many of them captives of an endless "war on drugs" that has done nothing to curb substance abuse but has greatly augmented the power of the state and the criminal gangs whose laundered money enriches Establishment elites), a land where almost every transaction is wired up to some national grid, where national ID cards are now being imposed - a land where you literally cannot exist without placing your liberty, your privacy, your very life at the mercy of a government apparatus besotted with violence, coercion and intrusion, there is no place left for the kind of action that Thoreau advocated. His way - and that of Gandhi and King, who took so much from him - envisions a state opponent which one could hope to shame into honorable action by the superior moral force of principled civil disobedience. But the very hallmark of the present regime is its shamelessness, its utter lack of any sense of honor or principle, its bestial addiction to raw power."

Oh, great, now Harry and Nancy and the gang have deprived me of a good blog. (Although Kevin Drum is suggesting that Pelosi has finally discovered the strategy they should have been using all along.)

Can't help agreeing with this - Obama created a situation where he can't and won't brag on what's good about Democrats, and all that leaves is the stuff that does him (and Democrats) no good.

I've noticed a bit of Larry-Summers-was-right-ism floating around the net in the last couple of days, along with a very silly article in the WaPo by Ruth Marcus trying to pin the clear results of sexism on "women's inner glass ceiling". J. Goodrich has a nice little take-down of all this nonsense.

And even more quotes from Suskind, who the GOP now want you to think is a gutter journalist.

Yeah, the RCMP was spying on women's libbers back in the '70s. What was old is new again....

01:17 BST

Tuesday, 05 August 2008

It's politics

Voter registration rolls seem to be showing that voters just aren't that into Republicans. The only state where there has been any significant rise in the percentage of registered Republicans is Louisiana, where the administration made sure to truck large numbers of likely Democratic voters out of state; generally, people are moving to the Democratic Party.

Wolcott: " Nate at FiveThirtyEight zeroes in on the weak spot of the Obama campaign so far--the inability "to brand John McCain as a Generic Republican," allowing McCain to continue modeling himself as a reasonable moderate instead of a rabid werewolf. But has the Obama campaign been unable or unwilling? I still detect this strange reticence among marquee Democrats to treat John McCain as just another Republican, still conning themselves that he's somehow a cut above his rabble colleagues, capable of being reasoned with, a figure of respect. Based on the coarse, cheapshot, meretricious campaign McCain has run thus far, he's forfeited any respect beyond the minimum norms of discourse." Obama signaled a long time ago that he wouldn't campaign against The Republicans, since he says he doesn't believe in "partisanship". This is the stupidity of "post-partisanship" writ large: a refusal to acknowledge that an entire party, including and especially its standard-bearers, are shamelessly dishonest operatives for the very ideology that is destroying our country.

Your double-standards are showing. (Read the comments, too.) I guess it's only "pandering" when The Evil Shrillery does it. (It particularly bugged me because we'd had this whole McCain The Pander Bear thing all worked out, and suddenly the ground shifted because Clinton had to be painted as the real panderer. Way to undercut your own side, folks.)

The Freeway Blogger has a wish.

Now there's a point: Obama draws huge crowds, but McCain has to go visit someone else's crowd.

Toles sums up the McCain ad.

17:22 BST

Criminal conspiracies

It's actually not even a little bit surprising that the White House pressed the FBI to find a connection between the anthrax assassination attempts and swarthy Middle-Easterners. What's surprising is that anyone was stupid enough to believe that Saddam or Al Qaeda or anyone like them would specifically target the two leading members of efforts to block the Patriot Act. Nobody from the Muslim world was running around shouting hate at Democrats, let alone Leahy and Daschle - that was Rush Limbaugh doing that.

Glenn Greenwald notes that there's something very funny about the so-called psychiatrist (who is in fact only a social worker, and was still in college last year) whose uncorroborated depiction of Bruce Ivins as a murderous psychopath has been media meat since his suicide (and stands in rather stark contrast to the way he is perceived by his co-workers. Jean Carol Duley, in fact, is the one with the rap sheet and history of violence. And: "The initial report from The Los Angeles Times' David Willman said that Ivins committed suicide 'just as the Justice Department was about to file criminal charges against him for the attacks.' But an article from The New York Times' Scott Shane this morning reported that the evidence against Ivins 'was largely circumstantial' and that the 'grand jury in Washington was planning to hear several more weeks of testimony before issuing an indictment.' According to The Washington Post, Ivins enjoyed full-scale clearance at Fort Detrick as late as July 10 -- hardly what one would expect if the FBI were so certain that he was the anthrax attacker. And judging from an article in today's local Frederick newspaper, The Frederick-News Post Online, the FBI is still searching for evidence against Ivins, as they removed two computers from a public library there." Glenn also directs our attention to an anthrax expert who knew Bruce Ivins who has been blogging about the case at her own blog. (She has some good questions about Duley's claims.) She and Glenn were on a segment of Democracy NOW! discussing the matter with Amy Goodman.

I see via Atrios that Ron Suskind's latest book says right out that the White House "ordered the CIA to forge a back-dated, handwritten letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein. Suskind writes in 'The Way of the World,' to be published Tuesday, that the alleged forgery ' adamantly denied by the White House ' was designed to portray a false link between Hussein's regime and al Qaeda as a justification for the Iraq war. The author also claims that the Bush administration had information from a top Iraqi intelligence official 'that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq ' intelligence they received in plenty of time to stop an invasion.'"

14:05 BST

Lotta links

I continue to be concerned about the fact that a significant section of the electorate still thinks right-wing loony J. Sidney McCain is a "moderate".

Blue Girl, Red State has moved and is now They Gave Us a Republic.

When the FCC did the right thing and voted last Friday to uphold the complaint against Comcast for inhibiting file-sharing, were they just trying to forestall a bill on net neutrality?

Scott Horton, Inside the Pakistan-Taliban Relationship: Six Questions for Ahmed Rashid, Author of Descent Into Chaos.

Mark Adams responds in kind to the GOP tire-gauge gambit.

At The Belgravia Dispatch, "Should We De-Emphasize The Terror Threat in U.S. Foreign Policy?"

Eight years ago, yesterday: "George W. Bush uttered the now broken promise that has come to define his failed presidency. Accepting his party's nomination, Governor Bush promised to restore 'honor and dignity' to the White House. But as events continue to show, a more accurate - and ironic - mantra for the lawless Bush White House would be 'no controlling legal authority.'"

So, why was this reporter told to leave the press area at a McCain rally?

Why you should never talked to the police, via Bruce Schneier.

So the stupid article about how Obama is too skinny to be president was, I dunno, could you call it a "push column"?

Oh, make it so.

04:46 BST

Monday, 04 August 2008

From the notebook

The number of job cuts announced in July jumps 26%. And the problem is no longer "subprime" mortgages as people with good credit start to lose the rat race.

Jonathan Schwarz picks the next Secretary of Labor: Thomas Geoghegan. And Bernard Chazelle looks at the course of our relationship with Pakistan.

Remember how we loved Tom Daschle being so weak against the Republicans when he was in the Congressional Dem leadership? Well, he's doing it again and he's not even defending a seat. And then there's John Kerry....

Wuss Nation: "And I thought, there it is, in a nutshell. Republicans. Cheering for fear. Are you afraid? Yes? Hooray!!!!! Vote for Republicans then."

"A Party Like it's 1899."

McCain campaign lies about Obama's energy policy, claims that, in its entirety, it's to keep your tires properly inflated. Probably to take attention off of what Obama really said, which is that proper maintenance of your car would probably offer savings comparable to the savings we'd get from the coastal drilling policy the GOP wants. But, Yes Conservatives, Inflating Tires Beats Coastal Drilling.

Social living: the thing about chairs.

23:20 BST

News, views, muse

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 1974: "When violence intrudes into peaceful life, its face glows with self-confidence, as if it were carrying a banner and shouting: 'I am violence. Run away, make way for me--I will crush you.' But violence quickly grows old. And it has lost confidence in itself, and in order to maintain a respectable face it summons falsehood as its ally--since violence lays its ponderous paw not every day and not on every shoulder. It demands from us only obedience to lies and daily participation in lies--all loyalty lies in that." RIP

Krugman on A Slo-Mo Meltdown: "The good news, I guess, is that we've been experiencing a sort of slow-motion meltdown, lacking in dramatic Black Fridays and such. The gradual way the crisis has unfolded has led to an angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin debate among economists about whether what we're suffering really deserves to be called a recession." (Also: "A study in non-contrast".)

James Rainey at the LAT has a good laugh over the thin line Obama is expected to straddle.

I got your government waste right here.

Why Conservative Policies Dominate (You might want to check out the comments.)

John McCain does not speak for his own campaign.

Hey, I wasn't saying we shouldn't support Cindy Sheehan and bump Pelosi out, I was just delivering a warning. My commenters insist. They're probably right.

17:56 BST

Worlds apart

Just a reminder: if we get rid of Nancy Pelosi, she is not replaced as House Speaker by the person who beats her in her local election, she is replaced in all probability by Steny Hoyer or Rahm Emmanuel. These people are, I promise you, much, much worse than Nancy Pelosi.

"The First Trial: The first military commission trial at Guantanamo Bay goes to the jury today. It won't make much difference whether Salim Ahmed Hamdan is found innocent or guilty, however. The administration has made it clear that even if he is found innocent, he won't be released because he is "an enemy combatant" and would be a security risk. After the trial, he will be moved to separate quarters, although Pentagon officials aren't sure just where or what that would involve, only that it won't involve solitary confinement."

The Jed Report reminds us that Obama's mention of what presidents look like on money was a response to this McCain ad which actually shows Obama replacing Franklin on the green. There's also a video showing McCain having trouble pulling it together to answer a question - and giving an answer that is somewhat short of the truth.

Chris Edelson asks, "Do Democrats Even Know How to Go Negative?" And has a suggestion for the Obama campaign.

It must be a Depression - the rich are actually price-shopping.

"Where In The World Will YOU Vote?" Gwyneth Paltrow has some advice for Democrats abroad.

So here's what John Rogers has been up to. Looks interesting - and you might recognize a face or two.

PNH just sent me this link about "how many of the gods of the Laurel Canyon scene were the offspring of high-placed spooks." (And did you know that David Crosby is a direct descendant of Alexander Hamilton and John Jay?)

13:57 BST

In the weeds

Thank goodness John McCain didn't forget to remind us that he is a crazy man - not merely a deranged warmonger* who thinks having our troops in Iraq is great, but one who wants to put them in our cities, too.

The Very Serious People still want to be insane about Iran, too.

"Did you know that 70% of the US intelligence budget is channeled to private corporations?"

Man, all this time I thought the Antichrist was supposed to be a Jew, but it turns out he's some black Muslim guy. (Hint: The Revelation pre-dates Mohammed by a long, long time.)

If the price of gas went up like healthcare'd be $15 a gallon at the pump.

I keep wondering if things can get better or just get worse now that Olmert's out, but it doesn't look all that promising right now.

Oh, for godssakes, all those people who promised us that Obama was all new and different and change we can believe in apparently don't believe in it quite so much anymore, and have written him a letter asking him to be as progressive as they think he promised them he would be. Jeralyn asks, "Why is this necessary?" Good question. Bill Scher also thinks it's possible to put pressure on Obama to keep him from going too far on all this "compromising" he's been doing. I think it's too late for that; if Democrats let him get away with it in the primaries, he's sure not going to suddenly stand up and talk like a liberal now.

03:20 BST

Sunday, 03 August 2008

Assorted gripes and links

One result of the Site Meter problem is a revival in many comment threads of the question, "Who uses IE anymore?" Well, according to my webstats, at least half of The Sideshow's readers are using some version of IE, which is why I'd check any significant changes to my page in IE even if I were using Firefox or Opera routinely. Since I use Crazy Browser, I check changes in Opera before I finalize them. I use Crazy Browser, even though it is IE-based, because it does all of the neat things all of the other browsers do, and some other neat things they don't. And it's small and fast and makes it easy to work the way I want to. You don't have to - you can use whatever browser you're comfortable with - but, really, I don't wanna hear your snooty advocacy of your browser that I already know I don't like.

There are variations on the theme, but PoliShifter says what everyone's thinking: "Who wanted the Patriot Act the most? Cheney. How was it finally passed? By sending Anthrax to Daschle and Leahy. What did it do? Sent a veiled threat to both Senators that they could be gotten to if they didn't fall in line."

This Week in Tyranny, the administration is doing more exciting new, unaccountable things with our intelligence agencies.

The mayor of New York says we need a new New Deal: "Remember, the New Deal didn't just help get us through the Depression. It created the foundation for a generation of economic growth. That foundation is now cracking because Congress has been funding projects based purely on pork barrel politics, not merit. It's time for a new New Deal - one that invests more money, more wisely. It is as impossible to imagine America without FDR's New Deal as it is to imagine the country without Eisenhower's interstate highway system. Those massive public investments epitomized both the vision and courage that are desperately lacking in today's Washington."

It's funny how Republicans think rich people and corporations shouldn't have to pay taxes, but they should be the only ones who get the benefits.

Weldon Berger no longer believes in belief: "Reich, the lone leftist/populist in the Clinton administration, where he served as secretary of labor, says that the inadvertent lancing of the housing boil has exposed the underlying causes of our economic woes, specifically its reliance on consumer spending and the collision of that reliance with the increasing inability of consumers, other than the very wealthy, to spend. Ehrenreich, a stalwart Democratic Socialist, says that the suicide of genuinely desperate housewife Carlene Balderrama reflects a truly unfortunate reversal of the days, in the late 1800s and during the Great Depression, when home- and land-owners aimed their outrage, and sometimes their guns, at the foreclosing lien holders and their uniformed factota rather than at themselves." And neither of their proposed solutions seem likely to happen and stop the train-wreck.

21:06 BST

Groping blindly toward sunlight

You know, we're not even supposed to have our real military doing policing on US soil, let alone hired mercenaries with a record of being trigger-happy murderers. And, strangely, the media don't seem to think this is an interesting story.

Brad DeLong considers conservatives' views on civil rights.

The people who actually worked with Bruce Ivins say they can't imagine that he could have been the anthrax assassin, although the government is making noises about wrapping up the investigation because of his suicide. A 'former spook' claims it looks like "a classic 'suicide op'" in which he was overtly surveilled and pushed into taking his life: "No autopsy huh, oh well I guess the case is closed and ready to be sent down the memory hole."

CIA Veteran Rips Agency, Tests Limits of Right to Publish Without Permission, saying there is no classified material in the book, but the CIA censored all but about 1% of it, so he published it without their approval.

There is no doubt in my mind that if the Framers had anticipated the personal computer, they would have included "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, computer files, and effects" in the 4th Amendment.* And the Bush administration would have ignored it, anyway.

I believe The Poor Man Institute is suggesting that it may not be preposterous to suggest that there has been racism in America.

Another thing Matt Stoller likes about Wesley Clark is that he really gets the netroots, backed Lamont early, and has been great for helping progressive candidates all over the country - and was there for Darcy Burner when her house burned down.

Rep. Tim Murphy's office (R-PA) calls cops on three 60-year-old ladies carrying a cake to celebrate Medicare's birthday.

13:02 BST

Searching for life on Earth

Chantelle Rive Gauche underwired braBra of the Week

We always knew that Obama's failure to provide the media with flattery and fine food and booze was eventually going to lead to snarky commentary from the usual sources, and Dana Milbank never lets us down these days, decontextualizing an Obama quote to create an impression that was the reverse of what he actually said, and then calling people "whiners" for attempting to see the record corrected. There was a period earlier on in the Bush Occupancy when he looked like he had the makings of a decent reporter, but it quickly gave way to the usual RNC-driven hackery we've come to know him and so many of his colleagues for.

In this cycle, many of Milbank's colleagues seem to be reporting on McCain's flipping and lying, but Jamison Foser notes that it doesn't really work out that way:

All week, McCain's attacks have been driving news coverage. Those same news organizations that have declared McCain's charges false have given them an extraordinary amount of attention, repeating them over and over. They have adopted the premises of the McCain attacks even as they acknowledge the attacks are based on false claims. The media narrative of the week has not been, as you might expect, that John McCain's apparent dishonesty may hurt him with voters. Instead, the media's basic approach has been to debunk McCain's attacks once, then run a dozen stories about how the attacks are sticking, how the "emerging narrative" will hurt Obama.

But attacks don't just stick and narratives don't just emerge. The only reason that the topic of the week was whether Obama is presumptuous instead of whether McCain is a liar who will do anything to get elected is that the news media decided to make Obama's purported flaws the topic of the week -- even after debunking the charges upon which the characterization is based. It's as though the news media -- so concerned about lies (that weren't really lies) in 2000 -- have suddenly decided that it doesn't matter that the McCain campaign is launching false attack after false attack. That it's the kind of thing you note once, then adopt the premise of the attack.

I've noticed David Gregory doing an awful lot of that all week on the first hour of Rachel Maddow's show, which is actually a simulcast of MSNBC's Race for the White House. Gregory's questions follow exactly the pattern that JF describes, with Rachel usually the lone voice trying to push back against that narrative with Gregory and the rest of his stable doing their best to make it seem like maybe McCain isn't all that much of a liar after all, because even though none of the things he's saying are true, aren't they kinda true?
The excuse reporters will offer is that the "narrative" is "emerging." But these narratives don't emerge on their own. They emerge because the media keep asserting them, without evidence. If the cable news shows asked every guest this week whether John McCain's repeated false claims will undermine his credibility rather than whether Barack Obama's presumptuousness will hurt him, the "emerging narrative" would be quite different.

And that's what they should be asking -- there is evidence that McCain has been making false claims. These very same news organizations know there is evidence; they have reported it. Yet they ask questions and host discussions based on the claims they know are false rather than on the truth they have reported. There is simply no valid reason for this. None.

It isn't that the "narrative" is out there -- the narrative doesn't get out there without the media putting it out there. Based, in this case, on a bunch of claims they know are false.

In other news, Matt Stoller's article on how the telecoms want us to know that the anti-net neutrality bill is really popular reminds us of what kind of polling our legislators may be seeing, life on Mars may drive the fundies even crazier, and nobody knows anything about this "race" thing.

01:57 BST

Saturday, 02 August 2008

Found objects

Found in Eschaton comments:

Obama and his team is making mistakes because they did not take a vacation after the primaries, like Mccain did. three examples:

When there was an oil spill last week, why didnt Obama get some footage, make an ad, and repeatedly show it in Florida-a state Mccain desperately needs?

During the last week Mccain has been selling his judgement on the surge. Why didnt Obama cut an ad showing Mccain saying the surge would not work? Its on the TPM website.

When Phil Grahm said Americans were whiners, why didnt Obama cut an ad showing these comments in an endless loop.

Perhaps it is time for Obama to shake things up in his campaign!!
Green Machine | 08.02.08 - 8:12 am | #

This isn't a good way to win hearts and minds.

Gallup shows Both Obama and McCain ahead.

Patrick just sent me this link saying, "Patti Solis Doyle is a Hernandez Bros. character!"

Cenk and Rachel and Afghanistan on Meet the Bloggers. I have to disagree with Rachel about the opium poppies - I think we should let them sell the opium as medical supplies - the NHS needs more dope, and so do a lot of other countries' healthcare services. Pain management is a real issue, people.

China again - Matt Yglesias says Mrs. Cheney's fantasy seems to be making a comeback.

Restoring chaos.

Gateway Pundit has posted instructions for allowing IE to read sites that use Site Meter, and Chip Bennett suggests using alternative stat counters and ditching sitemeter altogether. (Meanwhile, Skippy is back after a fix from Blogger, and notes that one right-wing blogger jumped to the stupid conclusion that the Blogger problem was all a left-wing plot.)

17:45 BST

The electrical dust is starting to rust her trapezoid thermometer taste

If you were having trouble getting this page last night, it wasn't because of my webhost, but rather because something weird is going on with sitemeter, and mine isn't the only affected page. I've removed it for the time being, but if you find sites refusing to properly open in IE, you might try it in a different browser until the problem is fixed.

The GOP decided to go all Terry Shiavo on off-shore drilling. So, it looks like Obama is already doing his best to prove he's going to continue the Democratic strategy of giving the Republicans what they want instead of opening our side of Overton's window. Rather than point out that the oil companies already have plenty of options other than off-shore drilling, he's falling in line and promising to give in to them in the name of "compromise". But we've seen how Republicans "negotiate".

A lot of people like Bob Herbert's column on Running While Black this morning. I'm still trying to decide. What do you think?

CNN really rose to the occasion this week, didn't they? The administration is destroying our country but it's just a laugh a minute at the Clown News Network when legislators try to examine the problem.

Mick Arran goes to town on Ed Kilgore and his DLC/RNC talking points.

"Plastic Fantastic Lover" live.

13:49 BST

News and views

Marty Lederman says, "This is Really Quite Amazing: In a 93-page opinion in the Miers/Bolten contempt case, Judge Bates not only rejects all of the various Administration arguments against justiciability, but goes so far as to reach the merits and hold that there is no basis for the DOJ argument that close presidential advisers are absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony [...] It is an extraordinarily thorough, scholarly and thoughtful opinion -- surely one of the best opinions ever written on questions relating to executive/congressional disputes. It is also, IMHO, correct on the merits, of virtually all of the many legal questions it discusses."

Here's a little something to freak you out: "Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, is worried about the giant mercenary firm's latest foray into private intelligence. "They're marketing their services to not only foreign governments, but to Fortune 500 corporations," he recently told an interviewer."

Krugman delves deeper into McCain's flip-flop on offshore drilling and what it bodes for the planet's health.

"Have you heard about Wal-Mart's campaign to intimidate its workers into voting against Democrats?"

Maybe it's just another blind alley, but some researchers think they may have a way to get rid of AIDS.

I gather a bunch of people on Blogspot have been locked out of their sites because they're alleged to be spambot sites - even sites we've all known for years. Skippy et al. have been blogging at an alternative site and keeping track of other people who are having these problems along with them.

How to be popular

02:01 BST

Friday, 01 August 2008

A buncha links

It sounds like someone gave Joe Klein a wake-up call: "Then, with the troops in place and the war about to begin, I said something stupid on Tim Russert's cable TV show--reluctantly saying ok, we should proceed with the attack. It was the only statement I made in favor of the war and I quickly came to my senses--but that's no excuse. We have lost more than 4000 Americans, tens of thousands have come home grievously injured, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed and wounded, and we are weaker, palpably and morally, as a result. I am not going to make the same mistake twice. I don't think a war with Iran is coming, thank God, but this time I am not going to pull any punches. My voice isn't very important in the grand scheme of things, but I'm going to do my job--and that means letting you know exactly where I stand and what I believe. I believe there are a small group of Jewish neoconservatives who are pushing for war with Iran because they believe it is in America's long-term interests and because they believe Israel's existence is at stake. They are wrong and recent history tells us they are dangerous. They are also bullies and I'm not going to be intimidated by them." Why, he's even noticed "the quadrennial Republican scum festival that begins in August of every presidential election year."

John McCain is Black!

Even the WSJ is laying into John McCain: "This isn't a flip-flop. It's a sex-change operation."

I guess the administration has been sufficiently emboldened by getting Congress to cave for the FISA bill that they've instituted another rule change that has even Republicans pissed off.

Pakistan for dummies - where is your money going?

Sy Hersh says Cheney had a little meeting about how to provoke a war with Iran, with ideas like, "build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up." Kevin Drum: "If this story sounds familiar, that's because it is. In one of David Manning's famous memos describing a prewar meeting between George Bush and Tony Blair, he says that Bush admitted that WMD was unlikely to be found in Iraq and then mused on some possible options for justifying a war anyway. [...] In the end, of course, we didn't do this. We just didn't bother with any pretext at all."


23:17 BST

Playing catch-up

I know the administration will want to use the dodge that they broke all those laws because they were acting on advice of counsel, but it's pretty clear that they knew they were breaking the law and that counsel's "advice" came mysteriously after the fact, in the form of rationalizations, and looked more like defenses for presentation to a court than like advice.

So how did Radiohead's little experiment work out? Pretty damned good. (Thanks to Dan for the tip.)

Susie suspects that there's a relationship between the fact that she got laid-off just as she was preparing for surgery. See if you can help her out.

A better VP choice: McCain says he knows how to win wars, but Wes Clark actually won one.

Paris Hilton's father and grandfather are big donors to the Republicans and to McCain's campaign, and not too pleased that the campaign used Paris in a less than flattering manner.

In the wake of the apparent suicide of a biodefense researcher whose name isn't Hatfill, Atrios (start here and work your way up) has been recalling the news at the time of the anthrax assassinations and the strange way a number of people behaved - and wonders why they still don't seem to be asking the right questions. Glenn Greenwald is on a tear about how ABC news in particular worked hard to promote the view that Saddam was responsible, and to this day ABC is covering up who it was who fed them this entirely false story: "We now know -- we knew even before news of Ivins' suicide last night, and know especially in light of it -- that the anthrax attacks didn't come from Iraq or any foreign government at all. It came from our own Government's scientist, from the top Army bioweapons research laboratory. More significantly, the false reports linking anthrax to Iraq also came from the U.S. Government -- from people with some type of significant links to the same facility responsible for the attacks themselves." Someone working for the US government tried to assassinate two members of the Democratic leadership - the two who were best placed to stop Bush's extraordinary power-grab - and some members of the media. People in the government were warning people (such as Richard Cohen) to take Cipro before the attacks. It's unsurprising that these legislators and journalists were scared to death - indeed, scared into supporting madness in response - but it's still considered beyond the pale to put two and two together.

Tom Tomorrow observes that Republicans didn't used to mind when a politician was presumptuous as all hell.

NOT the Bra of the Week. (Thanks to Karen B.)

19:51 BST

We will return to our regularly scheduled programming shortly

Well, that was a fraught few hours! A few minutes after I noticed my website was down I received an e-mail from my webhost expressing their disappointment with me for not having responded to an earlier e-mail telling me about an abuse problem, so they'd taken my site down. Then there was a bunch of back-and-forth while I told them I hadn't seen their e-mail and what was this about?

Eventually it turned out they'd received a nasty letter from the British Recorded Music Industry Anti Piracy Unit about an .mp3 of "Killing Floor" that was on my site - so now they had taken the site down. But then I had to convince them to restore my access before I could remove the .mp3 &etc, and then it had to proliferate back, and....

The really infuriating thing about this, of course, is that all they've done is prevent more people from hearing a great track from The Electric Flag's A Long Time Comin' - and possibly like it enough to buy the album. Fortunately, I understand there are other places on the intertubes where you might be able to find it, by now, but when I posted it I did so because it didn't appear to be available anywhere else.

People thank me all the time for turning them on to music they didn't know about, which is one reason why I keep doing it. It's one of the great things about the net - you can turn people on to your passions long after the usual commercial actors have lost interest. Since generational memory isn't what it used to be, this is a very good thing.

I wish a bunch of bigshot musicians would get together and sue the recording industry for interfering with the promotion of their work. What a bunch of finks. But then, you already know how I feel about that.

16:30 BST

Keyboards at dawn

Billmon! Billmon on McCain, The Great White Hope, and his history of constantly reinventing himself to suit the moment and stay in the game - and the media that fell for it over and over, but might just be waking (at least in parts) from the dream. (via)

We should hold a contest for the punchline of the joke that starts: "What's the difference between Gonzalez and Mukasey?" They seem to be using the same pattern of obstruction. Patrick Leahy, obviously annoyed, wrote to Mukasey and asked him when he's going to stop pretending White House creeps don't have to respond to subpoenas.

John Scalzi unpacks the GOP spin on Obama. Rick Perlstein looks at it another way.

Thirteen people died and someone gave Saxby Chambliss a thousand bucks?

You know, I can think of a way to lower gas prices that might make a real difference: cap 'em.

States are violating the law in an effort to prevent low-income and minority voters from registering to vote. Some states simply fail to apply the "motor-voter" law at all, while others take registrations but then "forget" to pass them on to the registrar. That's in addition to numerous other dirty tricks used to keep the rabble from having a voice in elections.

Susie joins the discussion of Progressive Blogosphere 2.0, observing that Maslow's triangle is Upside Down in the Blogosphere.

Big congrats to MadKane for her Benchley Society Award and love-letter from Bob Newhart.

04:13 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, August 2008

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