The Sideshow

Archive for December 2007

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Monday, 31 December 2007

I am not hungover
I was just catching up on some sleep and some other stuff.

At Hullabaloo, Digby has a long post stomping all over Broderist "bipartisanship"; dday takes on the narrowness of the healthcare debate; and Tristero finds a classic blogpost, in an unfamiliar venue.

Susie Bright (may not be work-safe) on Abstinence Poster Child, Jamie Lynn Spears.

Just in case you forgot, there really is no communicating with people who have deliberately attached their brains to a "news" network that forcefully denies reality. Fox is just one big hate crime. (Of course, there are those moments when they lose control.)

Harder, Better, Faster - Best of the Left podcast round-up of 29 December, with Rachel Maddow on Ron Paul, Ted Kennedy on telecom immunity, Olbermann on Bush being a liar or an idiot, and Wexler wants hearings.

Matt has an interesting cartoon about Christmas in prison in a post about the War on Some Drugs.

Our esteemed commenter QrazyQat has been in Thailand, taking pictures.

And no, I'm not planning to go out there tonight! [shudder]

19:21 GMT

Post-oversleeping blogging

Julia's language lessons.

It's been a such a busy week that I didn't get around to listening to last week's Seder on Sunday until now. Definitely give it a listen and hear Maggie Mahar (author of Money-Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much) explain why even white folk in America have crummier healthcare outcomes than poor people in countries with universal healthcare. Go to the widget and get the show for 071223. (There's also an interview of Chalmers Johnson.) The new show wasn't up last time I looked but he had Krugman on, and replayed the Naomi Klein interview.

If you've missed the pleasure of The Two Johns (Bird and Fortune), I see there's an interview with George Parr up at Firedoglake. (And Ian Welsh provides some American Parallels, while Thers presents the Wingnut Crap of the Year.)

I'm pleased to see that someone at the Monster Raving Loony Party has proposed the obvious measure: "Separate Passports for Terrorists: Terrorists should be required (by virtue of law) to apply for separate passports in which they give there full contact details, number of explosives, and time (as well as location) of any plot. This would save time and money in gathering intelligence, and could also help identify the intended ambition(s) behind any atrocity(s)." This makes as much sense as having no-fly lists and arresting people who you can't bring any charges against - maybe more sense. (Official proposals are pretty entertaining.)

Do you think there's anything to this? I didn't read past the beginning or check out the author/site, but you never know.

16:18 GMT

Some weekend round-up

At Think Progress:

Jim Macdonald on why "building our own Iron Curtain along the US/Canadian border" is insane. (I'd like to put in a word for why you should consider buying his books. I'd enjoyed the Mageworlds series before I ever knew anything about him, but Patrick enlisted him to talk me out of my panic state when I was told I'd need eye surgery, and I credit him with helping me to become more informed and decide to do the sensible thing and get it done. He also sent me some more Mageworlds books to read while I was having to be face-down for a month after the surgery. That was a great kindness for a person he didn't know. I was delighted later when Patrick and Teresa added him to the Making Light conspiracy - he's been a fine addition to the blogosphere. So if you're looking for some books to chill with, they're a great read to help you detox your soul after reading too much news.)

Tim Francis-Wright chooses his Most Idiotic Paragraph of the Year. I don't know, I've seen worse this year, m'self.

Apparently, the editorial page editor of The New York Times can't understand "this weird fear" of having a raving psychopath contributing regularly to The Newspaper of Record.

On the other hand, at least the NYT decided to recognize the important death in the family that we suffered in the blogosphere this year with the loss of Steve Gilliard. And fortunate that The Group News Blog is here to correct the errors Matt Bai made in the piece.

Bargains in Hell.

Lambert is going all vocabulary on the Broderistas.

Lance Mannion is right about this. I wish I'd learned that last bit earlier.

Just for you, Anna, a game of Name That Prezzie. You'll probably want to click for the larger size to figure out what everything is.

02:57 GMT

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Now, let's see what else I got for my birthday....

Dahlia Lithwick on The Bush administration's dumbest legal arguments of the year, via Lawyers, Guns and Money.

David Michael Green, "You're Damn Right I'm Angry. Why Isn't Everybody?: Regressives like to call people like me Bush-haters, and so it is important to address that claim before proceeding, because the entire intent of hurling that label at the president’s critics is to undermine their credibility. If you simply hate the man, they imply, you're not rational, and your critiques can be dismissed. But it isn't that simple - not by a long shot. First, it should be noted that the regressive right is far wider a phenomenon than just one person. It currently includes an entire executive branch administration, almost (and, just a year ago, more than) half of Congress, a majority of the Supreme Court and probably a majority of the lower federal courts, a biased-to-the-point-of-being-a-joke mainstream media, and tons of lobbyists, think tanks and profitable industries."

A review by Ken Macleod: "Marx, Stalin, Hitler, Hume, Voltaire, Nietzsche, Stirner, Anton la Vey, the Marquis de Sade ... I've read at least some of the works of all of these. None of them has ever given me the faint tremor of taboo-breaking, of danger, of subversion that I feel from just glancing at the cover of a book I got for Christmas."

Driftglass on bipartisanship: "For the last twenty years, as they have relentlessly worked to make "Liberal = Nazi", Republicans have shown with perfect clarity that they have absolutely no interest in genuine bipartisanship whatsoever." And on the NYT's new columnist. (And a nice bit of photoshop.)

You can watch the candidates stumping live on C-SPAN here. Edwards did pretty well, I thought, and the crowd was eating it up. Obama coming up later. (Except now they're showing one of the blond right-wing harpies.)

(I also got lots of music and toys and stuff.)

19:36 GMT

Links for breakfast

Rachel Maddow did a really excellent rant on the War on Some Drugs in her Friday show,* which I heartily recommend you listen to some time today or tomorrow while it's still available for free. She follows that with an interview of Ben Wallace Wells, who wrote the Rolling Stone article "How America Lost the War on Drugs". (Her first guest on the show, by the way, is Elizabeth Edwards.)

Something Rachel doesn't say about the War on Some Drugs is that Republicans regard the ability to put lots of harmless people in jail as a feature, not a bug. As Fiorello LaGuardia observed many long years ago, there was a certain amount of racism involved in it all from the outset. But it's no longer true that funny-colored-people are the principle users of drugs - they are the principle targets of drug busts. Drug laws create more crime, thus more fear, and thus a better platform for lawn-order right-wing politicians who want to make the law continually more and more unforgiving. Creating a privatized prison system not only makes imprisonment more cruel, but also creates another monied special interest group that encourages punitive handling of even the most minor law-breakers. As a particularly nice bonus, the areas targetted for drug busts are also the areas where people are most likely to vote Democratic, which means you can take lots of voters out of the pool - and move them to prisons in states that tend to vote Republican. Prisoners, though they can't vote, are counted as part of the population for the purposes of Congressional representation, thus further weighting the polls toward the red states.

Diane on News We Didn't Get: "Today's Boston Globe had an interesting feature article which asked writers and contributors what stories they felt had been underreported during the last year. The entries were interesting, but the one that grabbed me the most was written by novelist Roland Merullo. [...] It's not like the press in this country didn't have ample opportunity to report on poverty in America. [...] I guess the press had more important things to report, like the price of a candidate's haircut or the amount of a tip another candidate did (or did not) leave."

Although I can't scare up an erg for being outraged by Hugh Hefner or other boring celebs, a lot of The BEAST 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2007 list is spot on.

Much as I sympathize with Carl's feelings about the Edwards bloggers vs. Catholic League issue, I'm still surprised at this endorsement for Hillary Clinton.

Okay, as far as I'm concerned, when the recording industry claims you can't make copies from your own CDs, they've gone beyond even their previous levels of outrageousness. (And if that's their position, they should pay back every penny of the taxes they've managed to get for themselves on blank recording media, which they only got in the first place because they claimed it was all being used to record commercial music and video.)

The clip of Letterman with Cavett and Murphy is just hilarious.

14:57 GMT

Open windows

Aubade Elisa - La Muse half cup braBra of the Week

I am often tempted to move the Langston Hughes quote down to the bottom of the blogroll and replace it with this quote from PNH: "It's hard to avoid the suspicion that a significant number of America's worst social problems would be alleviated by summoning the insurance industry's top managers to an economic summit, and then setting packs of wild dogs on them."

If you've wondered why the NYT publishes (often glowing) reviews of whack-job right-wing books, but seldom publishes reviews of major books by people like Joe Conason, Glenn Greenwald, or numerous others whose work one would think would garner such reviews - and, when they are forced to review Krugman, treat him badly - it might be useful to learn more about their book review editor, right-winger Sam Tanenhaus. Perhaps Jim Sleeper's "American Conservatism's Original Sin" will help. It's a strange article but it offers a few interesting insights.

Jay Rosen says that the right-wing operatives at the top of the GOP have gone a bit native in terms of their opinion of the media and are starting to sound just like them - but they're still wrong.

Jim Henley on Pakistan and Iraq.

You've got to be impressed by The Mighty Power of Krugman that wingers think it takes so many wingnuts in the pages of the major newspapers to "balance" him out. (via)

Doesn't this strike you as a bit odd? "Instead of waiting for actual votes to be counted on the night of the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus, a consortium of the major TV networks and The Associated Press will conduct an entrance poll to measure how people say they will vote."

Trade unions in the UK aren't particularly pleased with the policy, either. But at least the BBC bothers to cover what they're saying.

John Vidal in the Grauniad says we're possibly looking at a real step-up in what solar power can bring us.

01:25 GMT

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Why I hate the campaign finance reform conversation

All year long, the corporate media pushes its agenda in every news show, and for a brief period every couple of years I am supposed to be satisfied with the idea that a portion of our taxes will be used to buy a few minutes of airtime on those same networks to try to make a case for something that might contain a grain of disagreement with that agenda - after which the networks go back to explaining why whatever any liberal or Democrat or Progressive is trying to tell you is all wrong. That's what campaign finance reform means to me - billions of dollars worth of free advertising for the right-wing on the air "balanced" by a handful of campaign ads.

This is from last week, and I nearly missed it but for Twistedchick calling it to my attention:

Greenspan Attacks Edwards...The REAL WAR in ON.

The real war emerges. The real war showed itself this Sunday the moment the first poll ever showed Edwards with a lead. Greenspan attacked on Edwards and Populism on national television (very unusual for Greenspan). The arrogance and pressures of international capital back at work in the United States starting with ABC pushing Alan Greenspan as rebuttal to Edwards Sunday morning on George Steph. This should not surprise, but for those that perhaps didn't notice, pay attention. The devil is certainly in the details in this case. Greenspan already promoted his book a month ago. What would call for such a prized appearance on ABC Sunday morning? Certainly it's not to speak on the month old mortgage crisis he caused with his failure to implement early regulatory measures after he was warned. He's been chatting the crisis up for weeks. George's first question to Alan was: "What do you think of Edwards economic plan?". Canned all the way. It was a bad moment for George and ABC. Call it an in-kind contribution to the other mainstream Federal Reserve approved candidates, because that is exactly what it was.

See what I mean? And that's just one little thing.

John McCain's credentials as a maverick, an independent-minded conservative, a man of principle and a straight-talker, come mainly from the fact that somewhere in the past he teamed up with Russ Feingold and co-sponsored a campaign finance bill. This was not just a departure from the usual right-wing agenda, it was also a departure for McCain, who had previously shown no interest in the subject. He did it because he had to have something in his portfolio that made him look good after he was tied up with the whole Savings and Loan scandal. He was dirty. He needed to clean up. It hurt him with the right wing but, interestingly, it gave him credibility with the corporate media. I guess they recognized it as an opportunity to get more out of the corporate welfare program - money for advertising going straight from our pockets to theirs. And they knew it would have little if any effect on how well the political debate was represented to the public. The fact that McCain's constituency has always been the press corps should tell you all you need to know about the value of campaign finance reform.

That's right, you can get wall-to-wall advertising for the Republican loonies on your airwaves, and then, if you pay some more money, you can get a couple minutes of boring Democratic ads. Wow.

On what may be a related subject, a Buzzflash review of Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and StickYou with the Bill) by David Cay Johnston: "In particular, Johnston specializes in exposing how the current tax and regulatory structure is geared to grossly enrich the wealthiest while sucking up the income of the middle class."

You just know if you link something here, it might be seen elsewhere. I saw that and I thought, hey, Lambert....

21:10 GMT

Just as reminder

PZ Myers at Pharyngula answers the question, "Torture - what's it good for?"

But then the argument becomes whether torture is a useful procedure. I'm going to surprise some people and agree that torture is an extremely powerful tool. It's just useless for gathering information. There's just no way you can trust information gotten while ripping somebody's fingernails off with a pair of pliers - they'll scream anything to get you to stop.

Here is all that torture is good for: inspiring fear in a population. If you want it widely known that your ruling regime is utterly ruthless and doesn't care about individuals, all you have to do is scoop up random people suspected of anti-government activities, hold them for a few weeks, and return them as shattered wrecks with mangled limbs, while treating the monsters who would do such a thing as respected members of the ruling clique, who are immune from legal prosecution. The message gets out fast that one does not cross the government.

So, yeah, if you're a tyrant in Uzbekistan who is holding control through force of arms, fear is a useful part of the apparatus of control, and torture is a great idea, as are barbaric executions, heads on pikes, and bullets to the back of the head.

When the US government announces it's support for torture, they aren't talking about intelligence gathering: they are simply saying "Fear us." They are taking the first step on the road to tyranny.


18:41 GMT

The campaign trail

Lambert so often does short, snippy posts lately that it's easy to forget that he can do some very substantive pieces. Yesterday he posted one such, about Obama's rhetoric of conciliation and why it might be regarded as dangerous. Big Tent Democrat seems to think it's just schtick, but schtick can be dangerous, too. (Sinfonian had the same feeling last week.) Lambert also points to a post from Kos pointing out that partisanship works to increase voter turnout.

Meanwhile: "Everything about America is threatened today...this is an epic struggle for the future of America," Edwards told the cheering crowd. "Corporate greed and the very powerful use their money to control Washington and this corrupting influence is destroying the middle class."

Swopa says even rank-and-file Republicans are making the Democratic case.

By the way, Jeralyn is in Iowa and there's lots of stuff on the caucuses happening at TalkLeft.

Jim Macdonald got another push-poll, this time anti-McCain/Thompson. (And I never realized why Sloth is one of the Seven Deadly Sins.)

I got a good Christmas prezzie from eRobin. Keep trying - you can give me one, too.

Hey, Wexler wants hearings! Have you gotten someone to sign today?

15:53 GMT

War and pieces

Stephen Elliot is casting blame for what he calls "Hillary's War", but that's pretty short-sighted:

Now we're looking at the rebirth of the Taliban in Afghanistan and a rapidly destabilizing Pakistan. The connections with our failed adventure in Iraq are beyond obvious. By losing focus and spreading our resources too thin we've turned a possible success in Afghanistan into a failure. That failure has spread to Pakistan (and New Orleans). To imagine a stable Afghanistan one just needs to imagine a world where America does not bomb Iraq, focusing on the task at hand instead of opening a war on two fronts with the entire Muslim world.
Oh, really? Afghanistan would have worked out fine, and New Orleans would have been handled better, if only we hadn't invaded Iraq? Does anyone really believe that?

Because a moment's thought would tell you that George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney were never going to do what was needed to stabilize Afghanistan, either. Bush announced long before the Iraq push started in the media that Pakistan was our best friend, which already presaged a disaster. The administration was firing translators for being gay and breaking up union organizing in Afghanistan early on after we got there. They were already doing everything wrong before they got the Iraq resolution.

Elliot is one of these people who just can't admit that allowing the bombing of Afghanistan before there had even been a thorough investigation of 9/11 is where the mistake really was. Everyone wants to think Afghanistan was "the good war", the righteous bombing. But before you can let George Walker Bush run a war, you have to find out how he screwed up so royally that four planes were allowed to go off course and knock the World Trade Towers out of the sky and hit the Pentagon on Bush's watch. And once you start asking that question, you know you can't let that guy run a war. But Stephen Elliot was apparently unwilling to ask that question when it mattered. And by then it was a bit late to be blaming Hillary for everything that went wrong.

In other news....

Maybe we should all write to the NYT and remind them that they need to put a legend in with his byline informing readers that to understand anything he says, you have to bear in mind that Bill Kristol is consistently wrong. (via)

So Jon posted his list of what bloggers told him was their best post of the year. I picked one I thought was important, but Julia liked this one better.

George Bush's A Christmas Carol. (Thanks to Charles for the tip.)

The Inverse Heisenberg

13:21 GMT

What they said

Nouriel Roubini talks serious recession, and the FT says that our economic problems mean a decline in our diplomatic relevance as well (although I would have thought our diplomatic incompetence had a great deal to do with it, anyway). (Thanks to ron for the links.)

"Who was Benazir Bhutto?"

These go together, via Atrios:
* Pelosi and Reid Condemn Bush Plan to Veto of Defense Authorization Bill.
* Bush claims Senate's pro forma sessions don't count.

Bill Scher says what Bhutto needed was a Washington that sincerely supports democracy - and she didn't get it. (He also says that, watching Bill Clinton's efforts on behalf of his wife lately, maybe Al Gore had good reasons not to want him campaigning for him.)

"ACLU: Ohio voting switch may be illegal: CLEVELAND - The American Civil Liberties Union urged the elections board in the state's most populous county on Thursday not to make a switch to a new voting system for the state's March presidential primary, warning that the move could violate state law." (Thanks to d2 route.)

Hecate embraces the coming collapse.

An Al Gore interview I don't think I saw before, and a feature I don't remember, either. (Thanks to jello.)

One journalist is taking the pledge. Let's hope he can keep it - and that others will join him.

A word from Elizabeth Kucinich.

00:15 GMT

Friday, 28 December 2007

Entertainment section

Jazz from Hell has the video of Bhutto talking to David Frost about Omar Sheikh, who she refers to as the man who murdered bin Laden. She said it as if everyone knows this.

As it happens, we watched Love Actually because it was on TV over Christmas and we hadn't seen it before, and it did have that one gratifying moment that eRobin presents in this post about a national leader who has decided to stop playing ball with the West.

Mark Kernes at Adult Video News reports that an obscenity conviction now gets you on the sex offenders register in Ohio: "The maximum sentence in Ohio for having been convicted of one count of 'pandering obscenity' - that is, creating, advertising, selling, renting, delivering or displaying an obscene work within the state ' is 12 months in prison. There's just one problem: The Adam Walsh Act has expanded the definition of "sex offense" to mean 'a criminal offense that has an element involving a sexual act or sexual contact with another,' and a 'sex offender' is 'an individual who was convicted of a sex offense.'" So you get 15 years on the register for a "crime" that's only good for a year in the slammer. "'Classification is based solely on the offense of conviction; a person's likelihood to reoffend will no longer be considered,' the Public Defender warns. It also implies - and the new law so indicates - that such reclassification will be retroactive for anyone convicted of a covered offense, whether they have completed their registration compliance already or not. [See Sec. 2950.041(A)(4)]"

Beauty tips (thanks to Randolph).

18:48 GMT

News and commentary

Juan Cole on the crisis in Pakistan; Spencer Ackerman, "Ex-Intel Official: Don't Be So Quick to Blame al-Qaeda, Musharraf for Bhutto Killing" (in the comments: "Yeah, I'm going to go out on a limb and say I don't think Bush and Cheney murdered Bhutto."); Tariq Ali, "A tragedy born of military despotism and anarchy".

Boy, that Elisabeth Bumiller sure is optimistic about Condi and Walker's diplomatic skills. Where did the NYT find her?

Southern Beale alerts us that, "Yesterday’s New York Times had a must-read article on the work of Susan Pace Hamill, a Biblical scholar and tax professor at the University of Alabama Law School. For those of us who have long been perplexed at the bizarre alliance between the Religious Right and the Grover Norquist anti-tax crowd, this article is vindication of sorts." Professor Hamill believes tax policies in some states - Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, South Dakota, and Texas - violate Biblical principles by having regressive taxation.

The Tennessean reports that, "Thieves broke in to the Davidson County Election Commission offices over the Christmas holiday and made off with computers containing the names and identifying information of every voter in Nashville. The missing laptop contained names, addresses, phone numbers and the last four digits of about 337,000 voters' Social Security numbers. It's the same information that candidates buy from the county when they're putting together mailing lists, said county Election Administrator Ray Barrett." Just look for the stingiest Republican candidate in town.

Get your monkey love right here: The 2007 Golden Monkeyfist Awards

Video for "Code Monkey".

14:06 GMT

On the landscape

Imagine my surprise at seeing an Eric Alterman article, reprinted from The Nation, published in The International Herald Tribune, and saying this: "Today's topic is the paradox - or one of them, anyway - of American Jewish political behavior. No, it's not that hoary old cliché that they "earn like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans." Rather, it's that they think like enlightened liberals yet allow belligerent right-wingers and neocons who frequently demonize, distort and denounce their values to speak for them in the U.S. political arena." This was all very surprising, and since the IHT is mostly reprinted from The New York Times, I checked there to see if the article had appeared in it, but instead I found an interview with John Podhoretz in which he is invited to slap Alterman around. "What do you make of writers like Eric Alterman, who have criticized your appointment as an act of cronyism, which goes against the conservative belief that jobs should be awarded on the basis of merit and not affirmative action?" "What do you make of writers who have criticized...?" Not, "What do you think of the criticism that your appointment is an act of cronyism...?" Well, he takes the bait, anyway, but not at very much length. But that's more the kind of treatment I expect to see of Alterman in the NYT. They're not really prone to printing a lot of his work, are they?

At Crooks and Liars, Steve Benen marvels again over Cheney's ‘remarkable' fourth-branch argument, and Bluegal has video of Norman Solomon's appearance on Glenn Beck.

MahaBarb says the EEOC has come out with a hot new way to protect your employer-paid insurance.

Susie Madrak is proud to live in a Third World country.

Wolcott on Lee Seigel's writings and rantings, and Jonah Goldberg's ahistorical smear-job.

Will Bunch asks the question that's been most depressing to me about the sleepiness of our press corps: "Why won't the American media try to stop Bilal's kangaroo court?" You'd think they'd at least stand up for other professional journalists, but no. There was that embarrassing spurt of phonied-up free speech concern over Judith Miller, and that was it.

Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner explain taxes, and Mark Evanier in praise of Cheerios.

11:08 GMT

Thursday, 27 December 2007

News and stuff

Phoenix Woman notes that Benazir Bhutto was assassinated around the same time that there was a sniper attack on Musharraf's other opponent in the upcoming election. (She also quotes Dean Baker's criticism of yet another NYT piece that attempts to make a good employment environment in Denmark look like a bad thing. You know, rich people didn't used to run fleeing from the US back when the top marginal rate was 90%.) (My commenters commented while waiting for me to post about it.)

Rockland, Maine: "The school board recently turned down the request of a high school student group to travel to the Gulf Coast and perform charity work rebuilding homes in the region, including in New Orleans. The board, while mouthing support for the students' passion and idealism (those adorable kids!), said it simply was too dangerous an idea. Daniels, in particular, objected to sending Rockland's precious children to what she called "a war zone" in New Orleans." Via Athenae.

Kansas GOP Chair Sends Email Boasting of Voter Caging - Which is interesting, since caging is illegal and the Republican party is already under a restraining order to stop doing it. They're doing it in other states, too, and even targeting areas where there are a lot of military members (who are likely to be deployed, and therefore vulnerable).

Sebastiao Salgado's photographs via The Mahatma X Files.

23:26 GMT

I'm having a long, slow morning

As you know, Christmas doesn't arrive here at The Sideshow until January 6th, so I'm not done yet.

"Dark Skin Looks Illegal: [...] much of the population growth in Arizona is immigrating in from our American northlands, New York and Wisconsin, for instance. The arrivals aren't used to seeing so much brown skin around them, and react with fear. With this in mind, today's WaPo editorial on Arizona's new anti-immigrant law* is jawdropping."

MediaBloodhound's 2007 Fact or Fiction Challenge - it's not that easy to tell the difference.

Hey, look, the Republicans hate Christmas.

Krugman speaks about what was worrying him on December 14th. (He hints at the D-word but draws back from the edge.)

Freema's site has the second Torchwood trailer up, along with the Doctor Who Series 4 Trailer.

15:40 GMT

Later than I think

I seem to have let the day slip away from me....

"And Justice for All: We Must Reverse Our Zeal to Incarcerate: "Over the next five years, the American prison population is projected to increase three times more quickly than our resident population. The Federal Prison system is growing at 4% per year with 55% of federal prisoners serving time for drug offenses, and only 11% for violent crimes. Women are more likely than men (29% to 19%) to serve drug sentences, dismantling thousands of families. One-third of prisoners are first time, non-violent offenders. Three-quarters are non-violent offenders with no history of violence. More than 200,000 are factually innocent. Whether our citizens are wrongly incarcerated or exaggeratedly so, our prison figures are shameful."

On a related subject, Jeralyn reports that, "The non-partisan Justice Project has a new policy paper (pdf) on jailhouse snitch testimony, one of the top causes of wrongful convictions." (Also, a bit of Christmas Bruce.)

Krugman: "So, here's my worry: Democrats, with the encouragement of people in the news media who seek bipartisanship for its own sake, may fall into the trap of trying to be anti-Bushes - of trying to transcend partisanship, seeking some middle ground between the parties. That middle ground doesn't exist - and if Democrats try to find it, they'll squander a huge opportunity. Right now, the stars are aligned for a major change in America's direction. If the Democrats play nice, that opportunity may soon be gone." (via)

How could it possibly not be true that the illegal aliens are breaking our country?

Buzzflash editor Mark Karlin wonders whether there will still be a Washington Post when the dust clears. There probably will - because they'll still want to control the discourse.

00:58 GMT

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

For your entertainment

Okay, I'm still not well but the sky isn't grey, so I'm going to try a short walk for the first time in days. Wish me luck. This should keep you busy 'til I get back:

Season's greetings from Adolf. Also, Will Smith is probably right that Hitler didn't see himself as evil - but like I keep saying, I'm not in a position to judge someone else's immortal soul, and what Hitler did was pretty damned evil.

If you missed Ron Paul's interview on Meet the Press, it's up on YouTube: 1, 2, 3, 4. Use this for comparison whenever you see Russert "interviewing" someone who is a more normal part of the right-wing's approved leadership.

Maynard G Krebs at Daily Kos has a post discussing and providing links to two "Essential BBC documentaries not shown on US TV" - The Century of the Self and The Power of Nightmares.

That link comes via a highly-linky post from Natasha at Pacific Views, which also sends us to an article on how the Ten Commandments are not the basis of our laws. Additionally, I learn that the NYT thought Christmas would be a good day to cover one of Blogtopia's* favorite complaints, about the fact that Democratic consultants are wasting campaigns' money (and they really aren't worth paying). (And points for the video of Santa trying to deliver the Constitution to the White House. I liked the men's a cappella carolling, too.)

And a music video for "Re: Your Brains". I couldn't help thinking about the Republican version of "negotiating" while I was watching it.

15:43 GMT

Quick links

Tom Tomorrow's 2007 Year in Review, Pt. 1

At Orcinus, Sara Robinson on Santa's Sweatshop and poisoned toys, and David Neiwert on why Jonah Goldberg's book is Newspeak.

The question at Karmalised is, "So what have we done to them?"

Maha on when players stop playing for Team Bush.

At Corrente, "Barack still putting the U.S. into Jesus."

Matt Yglesias' remarks about Bruce Bartlett's misapprehension of racial history in the two parties has generated continued dialog - and a fascinating thread below that particular post that has libertarians/conservatives and others arguing about all sorts of Constitutional takes.

Last week's Outrageous Quote of the Week at News Hounds came from Frank Luntz. This week all the nominees are named Bill O'Reilly.

Looks like right-wingers are trading television stations among themselves.

A Buncha more links from Marty at Bartcop E!.

03:06 GMT

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Traditional Christmas post

Those of you who've been around for a while know what's coming - some links I've collected over the years that I want to be sure everyone else has a chance to share.

Mark Evanier's wonderful little Christmas story about Mel Tormé and "The Christmas Song". (You can hear him sing it here.)

The Christmas Truce:
The letter from a participant giving a first-person account.
Every year I've posted the lyrics, and thanks to Tom Robinson for posting the music itself, to his song, "Truce".
This year Susie's got John McCutcheon's Christmas in the Trenches

Jo Walton's "The Hopes and Fears of All the Years".

I always mean to post a link to Ferlinghetti's "Christ Climbed Down" (but I always forget).

As always, Ron Tiner's one-page cartoon version of A Christmas Carol from an ancient Xmas edition of Ansible.

This year we have Dick Cheney's A Christmas Carol.

And, from the real thing, a bit of Marley's speech:

"It is required of every man," the Ghost returned, "that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow men, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world -- oh, woe is me! -- and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!"
"You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell me why?"

"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?"

Scrooge trembled more and more.

"Or would you know," pursued the Ghost, "the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!"
"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

And the blessings of the season to you all.

17:34 GMT

Cranberry Sauce

Have a nice fat linky round-up post from The Carpetbagger Report.

Campaign journalism covered at Whiskey Fire: Poor MoDo, the Clintons just keep forcing her to obsess about them. A journalist explains his high-minded reasons for being cool toward Edwards. And I think Atrios said it best when he said, "I'm starting to think that all of the God talk by conservatives was just yet another cynical ruse to gain and maintain power."

OK, it wasn't really the Lakota who withdrew from treaties with the US, it was just Russell Means.

Oh, this is rich: Bruce Bartlett has noticed that the Democratic Party used to be the racist party, and even though those old racists have either died, become Republicans, or both, Bartlett thinks it means the racism of the Republican Party now doesn't count. It's all the fault of those 200-year-old Democrats.

"Thanks to Bush, America is Both Rubber and Glue" - or, what was so bad about Saddam, again? (via)

A recommendation from Glenn Greenwald: "In yet another superb piece of journalism, the peerless Charlie Savage of The Boston Globe submitted to the leading presidential candidates a questionnaire asking their views on 12 key questions regarding executive power. Savage's article accompanying the candidates' responses makes clear why these matters are so critical" The leading Dems and about half the Republican candidates responded, but what is amazing is that Mitt Romney alone openly claimed that there were no limits whatsoever on a president's power.

Brian Brink has posted the video of his tour de force live performance of "Carol of the Bells" again. (Scroll down past the audio widget.)

Silent Night/News 2007

03:11 GMT

Monday, 24 December 2007

Links to watch out for

Thanks to ron in comments for drawing my attention to Dani Rodrik's article on the weakness of the NYT's understanding of globalized trade's negatives. But I do note that he starts off using the term "protectionism" as if it came with the word fnord in front of it, so you know it's a bad thing. Bit of a right-wing meme, that. The United States, for a couple hundred years, used to protect the hell out of our economy, and it did us a great deal of good. We had tariffs that made it too expensive to outsource jobs and buy products from foreign suppliers at the expense of US producers - and in the early years, we paid for our entire government with those tariffs. Now, why are we supposed to think there is something wrong with protecting our economy?

McClatchy may be the best at reporting on the administration without muddying up with the dubious benefits other news organizations get from "access", but they still seem to miss some fundamentals when they talk about the concerns of liberal bloggers: "Obama has been a hard case for the liberal netroots. He's got undeniable liberal credentials: early and consistent opposition to the invasion and occupation of Iraq; support for civil liberties; far-reaching proposals on global warming. But he's also upset liberal bloggers by echoing conservative talking points on Social Security and attacking the individual mandate to buy insurance in the health plans of Hillary Clinton and John Edwards." It's not just that talking about "the Social Security crisis" is a right-wing talking point, it's also wrong - there is no crisis. And Obama is not being accurate when he claims that his health insurance plan will cover everyone; Clinton's plan, for all its faults, will cover more people.

Even Andrew Sullivan knows that Bush's hands are dirty: "But this case is more ominous for the administration because it presents a core example of what seems to be a cover-up, obstruction of justice and a direct connection between torture and the president, the vice-president and their closest aides." (Here's Anthony Lewis two years ago in The Nation on The Torture Administration: "But it still comes as a shock to discover that American leaders will open the way for the torture of prisoners, that lawyers will invent justifications for it, that the President of the United States will strenuously resist legislation prohibiting cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners--and that much of the American public will be indifferent to what is being done in its name." (via))

Did I not tell you that Matt Bai is a putz? Steve M. has more.

As you know, some people say Mickey Kaus has been having affairs with goats. Lambert think's he knows where. (By the way, Corrente could always use a little help at the tip-jar.)

9-year-old caught in the crossfire of the War Against Christmas Spirit.

18:08 GMT


Okay, who wants a free, one-year subscription to Rolling Stone? I have a certificate for one but it's only good in the US, so I can't use it.

Elvis! And Bing Crosby meets David Bowie. And, um, this.

Barry Crimmins' year in review: "Corporate and political hoodlums spent the year doing three things: planning crimes, committing crimes, and covering up crimes. If this is news to you, no summary will bring you up to speed. So here are just some highlights of 2007, because it would be cruel and indecent to make you remember it all."

All I want for Christmas is... Reviewing the first year of the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House, there is only one conclusion - that, although there have been some accomplishments, we need investigations.

NTodd is so pink.

The 12 Days of Kitschmas and a Christmas Water Tower at Biomes Blog.

All this and Freema too! The Torchwood trailer (via)

Les Paul documentary, Parts 1, 2, 3, 4. and 5. (Features footage of early Stones, Mike Bloomfield.)

14:32 GMT

Feed a cold and starve a fever

Okay, perhaps I wasn't reading carefully due to being out of it, and I owe Glenn an apology. On the other hand, if you're going to give Ron Paul credit for his position, you really can't exclude Kucinich.

Gosh, it used to be mainly just black men who had to worry about every single thing they did in public or risk being the victims of beatings and shootings for nothing. Now it's everyone. So much for keeping the peace. Hardly worth remarking on.

The return of the Welfare Queen: Would you rather be paying for one welfare recipient to somehow survive while also somehow owning a really big color TV, or would you rather your taxes paid for 23,000 faulty "protective" vests that were supposed to be used by the Marines?

It's my contention that, aside from most visibly being a War on Chanukah, what Bill O'Reilly is doing is actually a war on Christmas itself - that is, all the good cheer and fellow-feeling that makes Christmas worthwhile. He's spreading ill-feeling and unfellowship and it's stinking up the place. Let's hope it will just turn people off to its practitioners. (By the way, have I mentioned lately that the WIC program saves an average $45,000 per $100 spent? So if you cheap out on WIC, it actually costs lots of money.)

I think I missed Mark Crispin Miller's response to Manjoo's article at the time, but he posted the link in the thread I mentioned earlier at his place, so it's worth going back to - and asking the question, again, of why everyone is so afraid to discuss the fact we should be trumpeting: that America never did elect George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney. (I heard someone the other day talking about reading They Thought They Were Free, where one ordinary German is quoted as saying something about how, "We kept waiting for the one big thing to happen that would finally send people out into the streets in protest, but it never came.")

I don't care about sports drugs, either, but maybe nobody should if they don't even work.

24 unusual bras (Thanks to Mark H. for the tip.)

01:51 GMT

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Tuna on toast is comfort food

The Brazillian government is "unhappy" that none of the people who are really responsible for the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes are being held to account: The Brazilian electrician was shot dead in 2005 by police who mistook him for a terrorist" [for no reason] "after the London bombings. The independent police watchdog had cleared 11 of the 15 officers involved, and has now ruled the other four senior officers will face no further action."

Gene Lyons says "Cool Kids determined to take Hillary down [...] Exactly what's the difference between wicked triangulation and praiseworthy compromise? Isn't it a distinction without a difference?" (via)

Tom Legg thinks he's found a little flaw in Greenspan's Randian theory of corporate honor.

From Think Progress, I see that old Reaganauts are trying to claim it's a 'left-wing myth' that the CIA helped Osama and the mujahadeen; Huckabee says they're too nice to inmates at Guantanamo; and Rudy claims it would have been impossible for firefighters to have working communications on 9/11. (Meanwhile, Karl Rove only got $1.5m for his book, but Ted Kennedy got eight million bucks for his.)

I look on the bright side: At least Romney is falsely trying to claim ties to MLK rather than with the KKK. (Via Atrios.)

And Circuit City gave the geniuses who decided to fire all their experienced staff retention bonuses. Jeez. I know I'm a peon because the only money I've ever been paid to continue to work for someone was called "salary". And I had to do a reasonable job to keep collecting it.

Heredity versus Societal Churn - How much upward mobility is enough?

Why, the nerve of some people! Does the USO hate the troops?

You Don't Look Like Your Head's Exploded Yet Today (via)

Ice Dragon and other neat stuff from the Bruges Ice Festival.

19:23 GMT

Still living on cold medicine

Fantasie Mariette balconette bra for larger cupsBra of the Week

Y'all do know you can go here to get any of the shows Sam Seder did sitting in for Randi this week, yeah? And, as always, try and throw something into the tip jar if you do.

Over at The Carpetbagger Report, a couple of church/state issues - one on your standard Christmas creche event that got out of hand, and the other on outraged Christianists who just couldn't stand the fact that a new coin had moved the words "In God We Trust" to a different part of the coin. (Also: Karl Rove finally finds a publisher, but no one really expects the book to have much in it.)

Primary the Bastards.

Congressional Quarterly has an article up on how Bush has grabbed lots of executive power since he took office. (via)

The RIAA has learned from the White House - they're writing their own "news" and getting it aired on some stations.

Alterman: "In the midst of the holiday spending and consumption frenzy, Bill Moyers interviews author Benjamin Barber about how capitalism isn't living up to its potential to serve society. 'Capitalism is no longer manufacturing goods to meet real needs and human wants," says Barber. "It's manufacturing needs to sell us all the goods it's got to produce.'" Watch it here. (Also, state of play in the FCC vote.)

You know, it hadn't occurred to me that the Clintons are followed everywhere by people who work for Bush.

"Angry Black Man" Does GOTV - or rather, the reverse: trying to get Democrats to stay home on voting day and other dirty GOP tricks, from a guy who actually did them. (via)

Fahrad Manjoo is covering kitchen gadgets. He's got to be better at this than he is at analyzing evidence of election fraud.

Huckabee Claims His Father Marched With Martin Luther.

Quoted: "Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance. It was done by dogma. It was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods. ... In the end the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: 'I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.'"

I miss Bill Hicks.

11:02 GMT

Saturday, 22 December 2007

A few things

Susie says: "I absolutely agree that the Beltway establishment of both parties is frantic at the thought of an Edwards nomination. I just find it absolutely surreal that they think Alan Greenspan (you know, the man who cheered the free marketeers on as they wrecked the economy and drove us into recession) is the man to tell us how bad Edwards would be for the economy. As the writer notes, 'Edwards scares the right people.'"

Yesterday, Paul Krugman wrote a column directly tying the mortgage crisis to Ayn Rand, and said: "In a 1963 essay for Ms. Rand’s newsletter, Mr. Greenspan dismissed as a 'collectivist' myth the idea that businessmen, left to their own devices, 'would attempt to sell unsafe food and drugs, fraudulent securities, and shoddy buildings.' On the contrary, he declared, 'it is in the self-interest of every businessman to have a reputation for honest dealings and a quality product.'" And I still had to wonder, "Can he really ever have believed such obvious crap? Looks like Barbara O'Brien has a similar question.

So, it seems that Circuit City did try to beg their experienced staff to return after letting them go didn't really save their bottom line.

Wow, among other things, this person has posted the Phil Ochs movie Chords of Fame, featuring interviews with numerous of his contemporaries, including Hoffman and Rubin - parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.

20:02 GMT

Better than yesterday

Stiglitz on The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush: "When we look back someday at the catastrophe that was the Bush administration, we will think of many things: the tragedy of the Iraq war, the shame of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, the erosion of civil liberties. The damage done to the American economy does not make front-page headlines every day, but the repercussions will be felt beyond the lifetime of anyone reading this page." (via)

The Lakota have seceded from the US, declare sovereign nation status. Wow. (Also, Blair converts to Catholicism, thus proving that it doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you believe in war.)

The Vote Fraud Fraud: Actual Fraud Edition: "In addition to pressuring U.S. Attorneys to pursue isolated cases of vote fraud for which there was no actual evidence, the DOJ made sure to delay the investigation of actual systematic electoral theft which may have won the GOP the 2002 New Hampshire Senate race before the slime would be spotted on GOP elites." (Also: An instructive lesson in believing Republican advice to Dems, and the towering fear of The Clenis.)

Phony media outrage.

I'm in the mood for a primary challenge.

Julie's Magic Light Show, (via). Also, fake jellyfish aquarium.

It's a shame that I can no longer find the original version of it, but at least it's been preserved at YouTube: Merry Xmas from Joshua Held, the Drifters, and Irving Berlin. (Or maybe I just can't get it to play anymore. Try this - if it works, it's better than the YouTube version.)

15:58 GMT

Morning links

Wow, get a load of the cover of The American Conservative!

Glenn Greenwald has a good piece on Harry Reid's perfidy toward the Constitution, the voters, and even his own more principled colleagues in the Senate, in response to the revelation in a WaPo chat with a reporter who says Reid sees "Dodd and his allies" as "The Enemy". In a way, this can be tied in with his defense of Ron Paul with regard to his pro-forced pregnancy stance, something he shares with Reid. Glenn compares the two, noting that some progressive bloggers were pretty positive about the choice of Reid as Majority Leader, yet Reid has been wrong on virtually every Constitutional issue, unlike Paul. Paul is something of an anomaly in that he maintains his belief in upholding the Constitution even though he has an anti-choice position. He seems, in fact, like an anachronism, something from the early '90s, when the libertarian right purported to care about the Constitution, even though they were really just excuses for taking essentially racist and misogynistic positions on abortion and minority rights. What we've seen since January of 2001 is that those "libertarians" are happy to throw the Constitution overboard under conservative leadership by a Republican; Ron Paul has been the only significant exception. But the Constitution isn't there just to protect some sort of abstract idea of nation, it's ultimately about individual rights - and controlling your own body is the rock bottom individual right. If you're not for that, you're not for any of it.

Maha appears to be saying that there is no longer a feminist movement. This could be true, or it might just be that people have begun to realize that it's all one thing.

A moment of clarity with Regis and Kelly - who had never heard of Amy Goodman or Democracy Now! before.

All-Time Top Pop/Rock Male Sex Object

11:54 GMT

Happy Solstice

I'm still weak as a kitten and I can't focus on much of anything, but I didn't want to miss the holiday completely. So here's a few links that emerged through the haze.

Atrios: "There really is practically nothing worse about campaign coverage than Beltway elites imagining how "reglar folks" live and eat and then demanding that presidential candidates pretend that they're just like that!"

This Zogby poll says Obama is the most electable.

Scott Horton Just Another Day for the Department of Justice. (Thanks to amberglow.)

Digby on the war on tourism.

Murder Inc. [by spreadsheet], and why there should be no place at the table for insurance companies in the healthcare debate.

Ezra Klein finds Glenn Greenwald's defense of Ron Paul's anti-choice record deeply bizarre. Me too. And it's disappointing, because I really thought Glenn understood how this stuff works.

Primary them.

Top Ten Astronomy Pictures of 2007, via Maru, who has some neat winter/Christmas photos up, as usual.

01:30 GMT

Friday, 21 December 2007

Take two aspirin and...

I've been drifting in and out of sleep for the last 12 hours, but at last I seem able to keep my eyes open for more than a couple of minutes. Posting may be somewhat incoherent, however.

"Universal health coverage could save $1.5 trillion in 10 years" - I don't disagree, but the article emphasizes improved lifestyle choices (like getting people to quit smoking), which I suppose satisfies some people's moral prudishness about letting people get away with living the way they want to. But really, the biggest savings are in things like removing the profit motive and getting rid of an enormous amount of administration that's only necessary in a messy system like the US has. Being able to treat conditions before they become emergencies helps, too, of course. In the US the number of people who are allowed to become doctors is artificially restricted, too, which also drives prices up. There are a lot of decisions that go into how well a healthcare system works, and it's a matter of priorities whether you decide your society can "afford" it.

"The Prodigal Man" - One way to look at Bush is simply as a wastrel, and while I think it's true that he doesn't know the value of what he's been destroying, I also think he wouldn't appreciate it if he did. To people like Bush, the idea of the United States is only useful for people who aren't already royalty, and you don't get to be as royal if you can't hoard the wealth for yourself and your friends.

The Raw Story has actually headlined the fact that Harold Meyerson's op-ed in the WaPo the other day was about the hypocrisy of GOP "Christians".

Ruth on the free press of patriots in China, and a Buzzflash review of Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment, the new book from Anthony Lewis.

Pornography and advertising: spot the difference?

Kiriakou's 15 Minutes of Shame - It all seems now that it was simply meant to reinforce the meme that torture works - but it still doesn't work, and the "intelligence" it's gotten it has turned out to be unreliable at best. Still, you're meant to believe that if we don't torture, we will die.

Caro has her usual collection of media-related links up.

Oh, man, everything hurts.

15:43 GMT

I think I know who gave me this cold

Best news of the day: Colorado Bans Most Electronic Voting Machines. (Thanks to Scorpio for the tip.)

If you ever wondered why all those smart free-market theorists always sound like they are talking bollocks, it's because they actually know nothing about economics: "So, could it be instead that his Tory colleagues were just never really interested in market economics, and only talked about "free markets" as an ideological cover for what was really just class hatred and union bashing?"

Who could imagine that the Vatican would hate The Golden Compass?

Figures Al Sharpton would be chummy with "Roger Stone, the longtime Republican dirty-tricks operative who led the mob that shut down the Miami-Dade County recount and helped make George W. Bush president in 2000." Is this connected to the fact that he's the favorite voice of black opposition on cable TV? Via The Kenosha Kid. (And yes, I do think Cheney deliberately set that fire - probably so later he can always claim that any document Congress tries to subpoena was "destroyed in the fire". It can't be an accident that this happened right after a court ruled that White House documents are public.)

Hahaha, John Edwards actually remembers our homeless vets! Gosh, that whacky John Edwards! Thank goodness we have Tucker Carlson to set things straight. I mean, veterans! Come on! Edwards has a big house! (Man, I would love to be in a real debate with this putz. He'd really be such an easy mark and he'd be a little ball of quivering jelly if he was faced with someone who didn't care if they were ever invited back on the show.) Good on ya, John.

The secret life of Paul Krugman.

No one is surprised when the EPA prevents California from having strict environmental standards.

At Think Progress, Clarence Thomas hates his job; CSPAN's think tank coverage is 51% right wing - and only 5% "Progressive" (although it's hard to work out their categories); Bush goes around spreading good will; Wexler On Impeachment: 'This Is Not The Lunatic Fringe - This Is Mainstream America'. (And have you gotten someone to sign today?)

02:09 GMT

Thursday, 20 December 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Castro's Surprise - Steve Clemons says Fidel is sending the signal for change, and some Democratic candidates are doing their part. ("Frankly, Chris Dodd sets the gold standard.")

The miracle at MSNBC - Dan Abrams has Rachel Maddow and Steph 3 on to discuss everyone's inability to trust Bush - versus a single conservative.

Bill Scher evaluates the Dem candidates' messages and gives points to Edwards for a consistent message, but wants Obama to sharpen up.

Jeff Gerth comes out of the closet as right-wingnut - he joins a lot of other wingers in an anti-Hillary film. Something tells me the right-wingnutosphere will not be decrying this journalistic partisanship with the same vigor that they did Dan Rather's when he, um, didn't appear in a partisan movie. Or any vigor at all.

I see Bush is still head-rubbing.

Old American Century has a good poster on their front page at the moment. Oh, I see it's a tee-shirt design.

Jon Swift recently asked me if I could choose my best post of the year. Thing is, I can never do this. I'm in love with some of my longer posts for a day or two after I write them, and then I forget I ever did it until something else reminds me of that particular post. Anyone remember a post by me this year that you'd submit as a prize-winner?

16:06 GMT

Morning trawl

Gosh, everyone wants to talk to me this morning, partly because Harriet Harman is an idiot.

FCC’s New Media Rules Worse Than Advertised: "The new cross-ownership rule retains all of the loopholes - and adds two get-out-of-jail-free cards," explained S. Derek Turner, research director of Free Press. "And based on the statements made by the commissioners today, it appears these new loopholes will allow cross-ownership mergers in virtually any market." And, of course, there was the traditional Bushista trick of re-writing things in the middle of the night.

Digby is writing about the obstructionist Republicans, who've been breaking records for stopping legislation - and wonders why the press just doesn't seem to consider it worth covering. (Well, the WaPo has an editorial about it this morning, but they don't seem to mind this lack of bipartisanship when it's Republicans.) I still think it might be news if Reid actually made them filibuster for real. The Dems should love the idea of the GOP having to defend their refusal to help our country right on the floor and on C-Span every day. Now that would be entertainment!

FDL is sending out updates on the progress of the FISA fight. You can sign up here.

My fellow dinosaur is having a fundraiser; throw something in her tip jar.

You tell two friends, and they tell two call for impeachment hearings. Wexler's numbers are over a hundred thousand, now.

Your Lingerie Moment today involves a top hat. (Thanks to Darryl.)

13:24 GMT

Late links

Sara Robinson Through the Looking Glass: "Oprah Winfrey once said that the best advice she ever got in her life was from Maya Angelou, who said: 'When people tell you who they are -- believe them.' [...] It struck me recently that, too often, we've been very slow to believe conservatives, even when they told us in no uncertain terms who they were. Some things were easy to acknowledge, even in the early years: they're the party of business, they don't care much about the middle and lower class, they believe in hierarchy and aristocracy and low taxes. Others came later: it took us a while to really admit to ourselves that they were pandering to racists, that they were perfectly willing to throw the middle class overboard, and that they didn't really care whether or not a rising tide lifted all boats. The hardest realizations have been the most recent ones: that these people are openly willing to destroy the Constitution, the country, and the planet in the name of privilege and profit; that they have absolutely no concept of the common good, and that the most horrible accusations they level at us should always be taken as an open admission of what they're intending to do themselves. (Thanks to D. Potter for the tip.)

Eric Boehlert is so disgusted with this year's campaign coverage that he says he actually misses the old-fashioned horse-race coverage.

NY Times Buries Dodd's Filibuster Threat Victory - Deep in the paper edition, and not even listed in the headlines on the online homepage.

This stuff is so weird, I ask myself, "Are the police lonely, or what?"

Cenk Uygur interviewed Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) on his show the other day, and provided us with a live demonstration of a guy who probably has his heart in the right place except that the rest of his body is in Washington, where they still think the rest of us don't know the difference between Bush and Clinton.

Kevin Drum gives a JAG Intimidation Update: "Charlie Savage reports that the Cheney/Addington/Haynes plan to ruin the career of any JAG lawyer with the temerity to disagree with them has been abandoned. "In light of the feedback that [Haynes] received, he thought that it was wiser to try a different approach," a Pentagon flack explained. I'll bet."

If the surge is so successful, how come they're afraid of letting Iraqis go back home?

At-a-glance scandal guide.

03:11 GMT

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

On the Infobahn

David Neiwert discusses the emergence of Mike Huckabee as a player - and the consequent freakout on the corporatist right - in "The Devil His Due: " [...]The moral to the Huckabee story: You got to dance with the one who brung you. [...] Recently, we've been hearing from some Beltway strategists that Democrats would be smart, electorally speaking, to make gestures of accommodation to the religious and cultural right, including a softening of positions on abortion and a toughening on immigration. That's the same sort of alliance, though, for which Republicans are now paying the price.

Meanwhile, Amanda Marcotte considers the possibility of turning anti-choice into pro-choice people.

The Pinhead Bible. Pinheads.

I see Time copped-out again on their Person of the Year. You can just hear them going into a panic when they realized that thought it should be Al Gore, and they just couldn't bring themselves to do it.

Fixer is on a visit to Germany, and he's watching from over there, and has a note to readers about what we look like to Germans these days.


22:44 GMT

A few more links

Yesterday the Republicans had a festival of leaping to the defense of Trent Lott's racist remarks to Strom Thurmond. Yes, it does seem a bit late, but they're obviously trying to rehabilitate Lott for some reason. It wasn't just Gordon Smith andOrrin Hatch, but even Arlen Specter, who ordinarily likes to pretend to a certain level of conscience before a sell-out.

Here's a bit of legislation even your right-wing family members might want to get behind: A permanent Do Not Call list. (On the other hand, what is the court thinking here? If you take your computer into a shop for an upgrade, there is no earthly reason for the techs to be looking at your porn collection. What they find after the fact is no excuse; in order to find it, they had to look for it. That's a clear violation of privacy.)

Thanks to D2 who alerted me that Dodd just picked up an endorsement from Nevada, and to Dan who tells me that Time is trading in two of its right-wing fruitcakes for a different one. (I have to admit, these still seems like there's no downside, but maybe that's just because greater familiarity with Krauthammer and Kristol makes them seem less revolting than Ponnuru, and at least there's only one of him. However, I encourage you to write to Time and ask why they didn't take the opportunity to balance Joe Klein with someone liberal instead of another loony.)

17:45 GMT

Last night's news

Edwards is back in the lead in Iowa, according to one poll. With the result that Drudge has front-paged an Enquirer headline claiming, "JOHN EDWARDS LOVE CHILD SCANDAL!" (It's still there at the moment, but it's not a linked story, just an image.) An appropriate response: Atrios now also linked to Jessica Alba.

Chris Floyd says Huckabee's hook-up with Rollins is a signal to our Owners that he's ready to be on their team - a team that goes all the way back to the original October (non-)Surprise, Iran-Contra, BCCI, the Marcos-Reagan payoff, and all the other nasty scandals of the Reagan-Bush years.

Thanks to D2 who points out in comments that the 2,443 calls Reid got were via the DFA site; Chris Dodd's site sent another half a million callers to their Senators. That doesn't even count those of us who made calls directly. So, clearly, you need to encourage your friends to make those calls, too.

Y'all still remember when Bush moved all those military bases off our northern coastal seaboards and put them down in the South? Maybe Ruth's Congressman can explain that, along with all that nasty rhetoric about Hugo Chavez.

The Rude One: "Despite what the President says, democracy's not just being able to be free to say to your master, 'I don't like the way you're whipping me.'"

Campaign ad against dangerous liberal.

Yet another Republican tells all about working for the mob.

Famous Jewish holiday Sam Seder talks about the FISA bill on Countdown with Alison Stewart (who apparently wasn't told how to pronounce his name).

The Clinton-Romney debate.

One of the hottest seduction scenes of all time can be seen in Bound, the movie the Wachowskis made before The Matrix. It also had a wonderfully authentic dyke bar scene. That'd be because the lesbianism consultant in the movie was Susie Bright, who supplies a bit of video of director's commentary.

11:20 GMT

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Open windows

Thank you, Duncan.

I'm pleased to see that more and more states are turning down abstinence-only money because it's a crap program. Even Virginia has now opted-out.

Chris Matthews is just unbelievable. More from Egalia.

Brad reads Jonah Goldberg's book, even though you already didn't have to.

Who is going to steal the ‘08 presidential election? (I always knew this: "In Volusia county Florida, Al Gore received 16,022 negative votes - that’s minus 16,022 votes from his overall vote total. Investigations into the matter concluded that it couldn't have been machine error because the machine only had wrong numbers for the presidential election. Which means that the machine was illegally tampered with (hacked)." It was obvious the moment it happened, and yet no one called out to check the machines and counts immediately at the time. The whole thing went virtually unremarked. It was astonishing - and obvious, right then and there, that something very, very bad was happening.)

Meanwhile in the glorious march of freedom in Iraq....

Did everyone else think of Tawana Brawley* when they first heard this story? I'm having to suppress the urge to go to all the right-wing sites that used the story to hammer the evil academic left and leave comments that say, "Now you get to have the same credibility you've always given to Al Sharpton."

Al Gore is the Kwisatz Haderach.

Jill experiences some "customer choice", and expects to get even more of it. (All I wanted was some chewing gum without artificial sweeteners, and I can't even get that.) The FCC slipped the nasty let-Rupert-own-everything law through, so now we have to see if all the threats from Congress go anywhere.

Would make a nice gift: Impeach The President: The Case Against Bush and Cheney.

23:41 GMT

Watching the defectives

The right-wing mind is mysterious thing. Digby is being analyzed by wingers who saw her write: "And so the new Democratic president will be nearly paralyzed, standing there like a deer caught in the headlights when the Republican Semi bears down on him or her, horns honking and whistles blowing," and read it as follows: "It's clear what she means: what the country needs is a Democratic president willing to plant an IED underneath that Republican Semi and blow it to kingdom-come." I saw that and I thought, "Gee, maybe they really don't know common phrases like "put food on the table" and "fool me twice, shame on me," and that's why they don't notice when Bush gets them wrong. I mean, when have you ever heard "like a deer caught in the headlights" as describing an aggressive response?

I'm always a bit fascinated by the way that people who claim their practices must be followed because every single word of their Book must be followed, and then proceed to oppress all those around them into behaviors that, in fact, aren't in the Book at all. This goes equally for the burqa and the anti-abortion squad (the Bible, remember, says that life begins with breath, not conception). Obviously, these "moral" values grow out of the culture around them, and not out of religion per se. (Even Thomas Aquinas himself didn't say that abortion was forbidden; where did this "timeless truth" come from?) Personally, I blame the entire anti-aboriton/right-wing religious movement in the US on the right-wing atheists who run the corporatocracy and realized they could exploit this stuff. (Why else is the Bush Family Empire so buddy-buddy with the Saudi Arabian royalty that exports radical Wahabbism all over the world? Same game just translated to local custom.) Anyway, I was inspired to these thoughts today by Maha's take-down of Charles "The Turtle" Krauthammer. (Am I the only one who constantly has to resist the urge to write "Kraphammer" when I type his name?)

"The Shepherds Discuss How To Guide Their Flock" - A memo for how to scare people in Costa Rica into voting for CAFTA got out, and people are ticked off. Jonathan Schwarz reports.

Had enough of America's Imbecile Problem? I know I have.

Just couldn't stop at 10: more moments of Mike Huckabee Extremism.

Go ahead, support Cindy's primary challenge of Pelosi - you know you want to.

It seemed like such good news that they were equalizing the sentencing of cocaine and crack, but it turns out they really weren't, and it was just tinkering.

Jim Macdonald was hit by a Pro-Huckabee push-poll from a robot.

The knock-on effect of using corn for fuel. I don't understand why people don't just use garbage to make alcohol for your cars. It's not like we don't produce enough already.

Oh, man, we lost Sidney Coleman, and the best people to write his obit checked out first. I really liked him, he was smart and funny and marvellous.

18:44 GMT

Fixing the vote

Jon Stokes at Ars Technica says the Ohio e-voting report is out, and it's 1,000 pages of bad news:

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brenner, a woman whose recent and spectacular bungling of a Cuyahoga County recount gives ample reason to doubt her commitment to fair and accurate elections, didn't even bother trying to sugarcoat this report.

"To put it in every-day terms, the tools needed to compromise an accurate vote count could be as simple as tampering with the paper audit trail connector or using a magnet and a personal digital assistant," Brunner said in a statement. Note that Brenner here is describing machines that have been in use in Ohio since before the 2004 presidential election. This isn't some glimpse of how bad things might be in November 2008. It's a look at how bad they've been all along.

Brenner went on to make the following unintentionally funny remark, which was presumably intended to inject a note of confidence into the release of a report that could almost have been titled, Barn Door Left Open; Whereabouts of Horse In Doubt: "It's a testament to our state's boards of elections officials that elections on the new HAVA mandated voting systems have gone as smoothly as they have in light of these findings."

People who've been following this story all along may be familiar with most of the flaws noted, but:
In lieu of my typical bullet list of outrageous report highlights - obvious admin passwords, a complete lack of encryption on critical files, a reliance on easily manipulated "security tape" to prevent tampering, the ease with which anyone can boot some of the machines into admin mode, and other typical problems that were there in spades in this report - I'll just highlight one critical flaw in an optical scan machine of the type that everyone wants to replace the touchscreens with.

The EVEREST researchers described a vulnerability in the ES&S M100 optical scanner in which simply flipping the write-protect switch on the device's CF card to "on" would result in a precinct-wide undercount that's extremely hard to detect.

Really, it's amazing they're even still talking about this - we've known for a long time that the things are unusable and they should have been junked a long time ago. Everywhere. (Thanks to Randolph for the tip.)

16:14 GMT

Morning after

Man, it was nice to go to bed for a change knowing that something had worked. I'm so used to the other condition that I woke up with a hangover from not feeling bummed out.

But I'd like to return now to that quote from DFA:

Since Friday at noon, you made 2,443 reported calls to Senator Reid demanding he stop this bill.
Only 2,443? Really?

How many phone calls do you think it would take to convince Reid that we don't need a new FISA bill at all?

Because, lest anyone forget, we don't need a new bill. When the one they passed a few months ago expires, we revert back to what we had before, which was fine. You need a warrant to spy on Americans, which is as it should be. Always.

And how many phone calls do you think it would take to convince Obama and Hillary that their abysmal "leadership" might have been a bad idea?

Similarly, what do you think it would take to convince The Newspapers of Record to stop rejecting a legitimate op-ed from three members of Congress calling for impeachment hearings? Would 2,443 phone calls to The Washington Post be enough to move Fred Hiatt? Would The New York Times publish it if 2,443 people called and told them to?

I wonder how many phone calls Nancy Pelosi needs to put impeachment back on the table - don't you?

Over on the top right of this blog, you'll see links for contacting members of the Senate, House, and various media outlets. I encourage you to use those links whenever you feel like saying something to them. Be polite, but please do tell them what you think.

Today, you can use them to thank Feingold, Kennedy, Boxer, Wyden, Brown and Bill Nelson for going in to back Dodd up on the floor. And, of course, thank Chris Dodd.

After that, you can phone your Congressbeing and ask when impeachment hearings will be starting.

13:30 GMT

A victory

An e-mail from Democracy for America:

You did it! Minutes ago, Senator Reid pulled the FISA bill from the Senate floor.

Since Friday at noon, you made 2,443 reported calls to Senator Reid demanding he stop this bill. All weekend internet blogs, like Firedoglake and DailyKos, kept it in the news cycle. From the ACLU to the Courage Campaign, progressives took action. And today, Senator Dodd threatened to filibuster. Together, we won.

When Progressives stand up, Beltway Democrats back down.

Glenn Greenwald:
Whatever else is true, Chris Dodd took a principled stand today, sacrificing his presidential campaign and alienating his long-time colleagues to do so, and he won. He demonstrated what "leadership" is in action, rather than "rhetoric." Acts of that kind on our national political stage are rare indeed.
From Chris Dodd's campaign blog:
Majority Leader Harry Reid has just pulled the FISA bill from consideration in this session. It will be brought up at some point next month.

Without Senator Dodd's leadership today, it is safe to assume that retroactive immunity would have passed.

Jane Hamsher:
Chris Dodd showed tremendous leadership. He stood by his principles and wouldn't back down, even in the face of opposition from members of his own party who were in the tank for the telecos and the Bush Administration.

Well played, Senator Dodd.

Chris Dodd for Majority Leader.

02:57 GMT

Committee calls made easy

I heard Rachel Maddow mention this on her show tonight, but I didn't know that it was Cory who did it:, which he describes as:

a site that allows one person to target an entire congressional committee over the phone. The web application utilizes the open source Asterisk PBX system to connect you to every senator or house member on a particular committee. No more digging around the 'net entering zip-codes to retrieve phone numbers of representatives -- automates the tedium of repetitively dialing your favorite politicians.

Just go to the website, select a committee, enter in your phone number and click "Put me in touch with democracy!" and you'll be called by our system and sequentially patched through to the front office of each member on that committee. You can even rate how each call went -- information that will enable us to rank representatives on how accountable and responsive they are to their constituents.

Man, that's gonna save us a lot of trouble. (Thanks to Dominic for tipping me off to the Boing Boing post.)

01:35 GMT

Monday, 17 December 2007

Perpetually awaiting a rebirth of wonder

Firedoglake has Chris Dodd's opening speech: "I cannot speak for my colleagues - but I would never take that offer, not even in the best of times, not even from a perfect president. I would never take that offer because our Constitution tells us that the president's word is subject to the oversight of the Congress and the deliberation of the courts; and because I took an oath to defend the Constitution; and because I stand by my oath."

Spencer Ackerman takes the optimistic view upon learning that Harry Reid says he wants the full Senate to see the surveillance docs: "One Senator who read those documents, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), has already said in a recent speech that the legal basis for the program spelled out in the documents made him "increasingly dismayed and amazed." They amount, in Whitehouse's view, to a legal doctrine for presidential lawbreaking. Maybe Reid, who's said he opposes retroactive immunity, is pushing a gambit to kill the telecom immunity provisions of the surveillance bill through the disinfecting power of sunlight."

Wexler now has over 80,000 signatures on his call for impeachment. Sign it if you haven't, and pass it on.

John Edwards' speech yesterday in Ames, Iowa: "Here's what's happened: Corporate greed and political calculation have taken over our government and sold out the middle class. Our government is selling out their future at the command of lobbyists and their corporate clients and we have to rise up together and stop it."

I don't know, why don't we just call her Lucy Pelosi?

Bush can't get applause from the Rotarians. Not even for vetoing tax increases. Even they are worried. Not without good reason.

Are we safer, now?

Over at Lawyers, Guns and Money, D responds to the usual idiot question about "nice guys". Truth is, they aren't really that nice. Actual nice guys are around and doing fine.

12 Days of Jesus Junk (via).

Not Made in China Toys

Lawrence Ferlinghetti's "I Am Waiting".

21:40 GMT

Political stew

A note on Harry Reid: I was just remembering what I said a while back about how reproductive rights really are a litmus test. It's not that I automatically trust anyone who appears to be pro-choice (Feinstein), it's just that I definitely don't trust anyone who isn't. Basically, no one who doesn't believe a woman should control her own body can be trusted to place individual rights and human compassion above money and repression. Period. But even NARAL knows this guy doesn't care about your rights. Reid is one of those "Big Tent" Democrats who we're supposed to be okay with because it shows we have room for everyone. Well, I have plenty of room for making sure everyone has individual rights, even if they're jerks, but I don't have room for leadership that says my individual rights don't count. (For the record, Edwards, Obama, and Dodd, look okay on this. Kucinich has given a credible explanation for why he made a principled "journey" from anti-choice to pro-choice, although his earlier record is not so good. Gravel has a short record on the subject, but it's not explicitly negative. Clinton is a bit spotty; has taken two opposing views on late-term abortion ban and used the term "partial-birth abortion', said she supports parental notification. Biden has a mixed record.)

Clinton and Obama won't be there with Dodd, apparently.

I thought Edwards was pretty brave going on TV yesterday and saying up front that the fight isn't against politicians, it's against the corporatocracy. His events calendar shows him doing big events today and tomorrow in Iowa and New Hampshire - but then, Edwards can't help Dodd on the Senate floor. I'm sure Harry Reid was thinking about the timing that would keep candidates on the campaign trail when he scheduled this vote right up against the Iowa Caucuses. By all means bust Reid's ass over this. (Ask Clinton and Obama why they aren't screaming about this, maybe?) Meanwhile, make some phone calls and encourage those who said they would support Dodd to do the business. (Russ Feingold blogging it.)

Meanwhile, check out the line toward the end of this response in the CNN debate that gets the applause. I have a feeling Edwards is not making a lot of friends in his party by saying the things he does, but I can't help liking it.

Lieberman endorses McCain. I wonder how Barbara Boxer feels about him now.

I keep having to remember that, no matter who is actually responsible for it, when it looked like the Democrats might get in the way of Bush's plans, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly demonized them daily and then the Dem leadership got anthrax letters and people died. They may not credit it to Cheney, but that doesn't mean they aren't scared of the right-wing machine in a personal and mortal way. (They may even wonder about Paul Wellstone. They're human, after all.) It's possible that being an elected Democrat may require physical courage.

Kelly B. says: "Just remember that when you despair. You are the greatest threat in the world to the mind of Dick Cheney. If that doesn't motivate you to action, nothing will."

15:37 GMT

On the landscape

Chris Dodd needs things to read when he filibusters the FISA bill. I reckon he should start with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, follow that with the stuff Greenwald has been writing on the subject (his latest, "The Lawless Surveillance State", will work fine), and then he can read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. (Of course, you could always phone your Senators and ask them if they plan to help. Yeah, I know, but the more calls they get, the more they might begin to wonder how secure their seats will be if they keep being so useless.)

Just stop passing legislation. They don't pass good stuff. They just pass bad stuff. Stop it.

Oh, and don't forget to Stop Big Media, too.

Craig Murray reminds us that it's not just America, as Britain debates the right to demonstrate.

Digby expands on the point Atrios made earlier about what Hell awaits a Democratic president.

One good Democrat loved around the world... but he's not running for anything.

Jeralyn has another headline to turn your stomach: "Bush Seeks Control Over Promotion of Military Lawyers." Because they keep trying to uphold the law.

Cindy Sheehan calls for impeachment of Pelosi.

The Issue of Thomas Jefferson and slavery came up in the comments*, and I pointed out that things weren't as simple as people seem to think. Thanks to Alan for providing this link to back me up.

Someone finally uploaded "Silent Night/7 O'Clock News" to YouTube.

12:37 GMT

Sunday, 16 December 2007

I could be so good for you

I apologize to most of my readers for the previous post; I normally actively work to avoid wandering into that territory too much. But some people lately seem to be so eager to hear it that, y'know, I thought maybe they should see why I don't particularly want to go there. Not much fun, was it? It's a lot easier to chase down another Advent calendar or a photo of an aurora.

Anyway, perhaps Graydon's reply will help:

This is likely to get a bit long.

Democracy or the rule of law aren't things; they're a bunch of shared assumptions about how people should behave.

The question you're asking is about the survival of government; can government founded on the idea of deriving its legitimate power to act from the consent of the governed survive and prosper?

The answer is, always, maybe.
(It's a process, not a state; if the process stops, the condition goes away.)

None of what's going on is, particularly, a problem of political institutions or parties.

It's a consequence of three things.

People act in their perceived best interest; the percentage of the population who constructs "best interest" in broad or altruistic ways is always proportionately tiny. So almost everyone is going to act in the ways that increase their relative social status, because, fundamentally, that's what band-living ground apes do.

Corporate models are tightly associated with increased social status; they're also completely autocratic, and associated with a great deal of pseudo-philosophical justification for the necessity of autocracy. So people connect "supporting autocracy" with "increasing my own relative social status". (There's also the comfort of familiarity; most folks, these days, work for arbitrary autocratic absolutist organizations, rather than the period of your Founders, who were dealing with a population of smallholders and shopkeepers.) So there's a lot of money with some people acting for it who believe that constraints on their freedom of action are inherently bad things. (They're provably wrong, but that doesn't matter; it matters how many people agree with them.)

Money is legally defined as speech. This is effectively organizational license to overwhelm individuals with "message" machinery.

The fix for this is to abolish the current mechanisms of corporate organization and replace them with something internally and externally accountable.

That would be a highly non-trivial effort, but it could also be done.

It would help if there were a general recognition among people of good will that defeat is something that happens inside people's heads, and that there are a lot of folks out there whose sole concern is maximizing their own relative social status, irrespective of the public or long term or general consequences.

So you need a party of corporate reform; you need to convince those most affected by the reform that their choices are honest, fair reform or death (because they might-maybe rather die anyway; this is the problem of removing an aristocracy); and you need a widely acceptable philosophical justification for this to be repeated endlessly for at least a decade and possibly three.

Not easy, but possible.

Credits from Minder, Dennis Waterman singing the theme song. [Lyrics]

23:55 GMT

A town called Hopeless

The way I look at it, there is a good chance that nothing anyone does will matter and the only logical option is to turn this into a blog about how to survive in a situation where there are no laws, no public services, no reliable sources of water and other vital resources - that is, a blog about surviving in a situation I am unlikely to be able to survive.

Which would be a bit pointless, not least because there are other people who can do the job better, what with having more expertise and all, and besides I can't seem to motivate myself on the subject, because I'm more interested in pursuing an alternative outcome. However, let's walk down that path for a minute....

"Hope Can Be Worse Than Hopelessness" says the story at the NYT, explaining that people who think their medical condition will get better actually have more trouble coping than those who think it won't. They're talking about things like colostomies, but it occurred to me that perhaps it's time to apply it to the Democratic Party, or even the United States of America.

It is certainly long past time to apply it to our glorious march of democracy in Iraq. It's not just that "Hope is not a plan," it's that it's a continuous drag on the effort to face reality and cut our losses.

And my commenters, among others, are constantly telling me this about the Democratic Party. It's not as if the evidence isn't piling up. (I think there are a number of reasons for it, although I think a weirdly misdirected careerism has a lot to do with it, too.) But it's more than just a problem of parties.

At The Left Coaster, paradox reminds us that, "At Guantanamo Bay There is No Law," and that ultimately that means there isn't in the United States, either:

There can never be a special place in the land of law, a land of some magical mystical other, a rule is valid to all in reality or it isn't. If not, how, then, is the rule valid anywhere? How is it possible to decide for future application to apply the law correctly and fairly if there is no way to know when it truly is enforced/applied? It isn't possible, the human reality of the rule spins off into an infinity of anything, nothing works.

That's why there is no "special" or "emergency" powers in the Constitution, how is it possible to know what variables employed in the future to declare the "emergency" or "special" time truly work? There isn't, the whole concept of law and constitution instantly falls onto its face and dies. "Emergency" constitution laws - "laws" like those in Guantanamo Bay - also leave the door wide open for a possible tyrant to abuse the definitions and deliberately use them to smash the Constitution, either for themselves or their faith of political movement.

If so-called Americans are being supreme rationalizers and actively advocating elements that in fact smash what they purport to uphold, then the law is gone in America too, the country is gone. That's correct. The definitive historical marker for when America officially lost the law and its democracy occurred with Bush vs. Gore.

That's always been my marker, too, but for seven years I've had hope that we could undo it and make things right. Admittedly, that hope has grown more and more faint over the years.

Atrios sees The Way Forward:

We need a Democratic president so that the Republicans and their Blue Dog allies in Congress are finally inspired to take back the executive power grabs that they temporarily thought were necessary for the survival of the nation.

What this will mean in practice is that Democratic president will face a firestorm of "scandal" which will make Monica Madness pale in comparison. The powers that Bush claimed will be turned against a Democratic president and will likely be their undoing.

And this scenario is much better than the alternative.

But what if that's too optimistic? I mean, sure, it sounds okay in a get-back-to-square-one kind of way, but I have a bad feeling that this may be too local a perspective. Are there credible national governments at all in the west anymore, or are we all under the thumb of one great big international corporate oligarchy? Is there much any individual country, let alone one as seriously weakened as the United States is now, can do to recover state power and vest it in its people? I don't know. (And that's just assuming the environmental damage isn't as far gone as it is beginning to look like. Archeologists find whole civilizations buried under layers of sand, or under water. We could be next.)

I look at how much there is now to undo, and I wonder if that's possible. I know democracy is fragile, it doesn't just naturally occur. It took a near-miraculous combination of luck and bloodshed to create ours, and it's never been anything like close to its ideals. But I don't want to see us go back to what we had before that, and I know that would be very, very easy to do.

All over the world, we've seen people rebel against unjust systems in the hope of achieving greater freedom, and instead they just get new strongmen, new kings, new czars, new politburos, new juntas, new Talibans.

Or we see nations pull apart, with areas taken over by strongmen, war lords, Talibans, etc.

How do we stop that from happening to the United States?

Or is even that question too hopeful?

If it is, there's really no purpose in blogging about politics anymore. Just stock your larder and keep your head down.

20:15 GMT

I found it on the internet

Triumph Amourette 300 underwired braBra of the Week

Like Gary Farber says, "The proper course of action is a full investigation by Congress of all law-breaking done both by the telecommunications companies, and by any government officials. After such a full and public investigation, decisions can be made as to the proper course of justice, but obviously it's impossible for those decisions to be properly made without investigation and disclosure. " The point of the amnesty isn't just to protect the lawbreakers in the telecoms industry, it's to prevent investigation of administration lawbreaking. It's outrageous that anyone in Congress would even consider such a thing. (Yeah, yeah, I know, but it is outrageous, all the same.) (Also: Bill O'Reilly's War on Chanukah has victims; Good Samaritan is Muslim.)

C&L has a liberal news junkie's dream: Bill Moyers and Keith Olbermann together, parts one and two. Also, on Countdown, Markos slaps Reid and the Dems around for their BS on FISA.

The Top 20 Sexual-Harassment Cases of All Time. (YMMV)

I wanted to watch this video, but the little grey dots just keep circling around. It comes from here, and according to Cory it's about the rise and fall of freedom on the web, and how to get it back. Also at Boing Boing, Put the FSM back in Chrifsmas, Flowchart of medieval sexual decision making, The Year in Ideas (including an airborne wind turbine that works all the time, anywhere, and Wiki lawmaking), the amusing pig toy, and cutaways of the Baxter Building. And I'm sorry to hear that sf fan and blogger Anita Rowland has died, at the age of 51.

13:21 GMT

Saturday, 15 December 2007

The details

From the invaluable Cursor:

As the House passes legislation to prohibit waterboarding, mock execution and other harsh interrogation tactics on a largely party line vote, John Dean weighs the prospects of an ACLU lawsuit getting the Bush administration to reveal what actually happened to the torture tapes.

As the New York Times considers how to fix the damage the 'Global War on Terror' has done to human rights and civil liberties in the U.S., a Nation forum details 'What GWOT has Wrought,' in country after country where it was used to "provide rhetorical refuge for tyrants."

In 'Tainted Hands Across the Water,' John Pilger puts British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's comments on "values we share" with the U.S. into institutional context, and concludes what's really meant is "rapacious power and wealth," as Tony Blair 'lands a role in Bush's doggie video.'

At the end of a 'B-movie terror trial,' the government's 'case goes bust,' as a teacher notes how a connection between Iraq and 9/11 is seeping into the background of student essays.

Legislators raise concerns that the 'KBR gang rape was not an isolated case of sexual assault,' as right wing bloggers look for somewhere else to point the finger.

Also via Cursor, Robert Parry: "U.S. forces in Iraq soon will be equipped with high-tech equipment that will let them process an Iraqi’s biometric data in minutes and help American soldiers decide whether they should execute the person or not, according to its inventor."

There was actually some genuinely good news this week when the New Jersey legislature voted to abolish the death penalty.

At TalkLeft, Jeralyn says Harry Reid has explained his FISA maneuvers (this is really bad), The Democratic Candidates Discuss Their Crime Agendas, and Rudy Promises Transparency...And the Check's in the Mail. (That's a good one - he says his administration was always transparent. Yeah, right.)

23:59 GMT

Time to trim the tree

I thought I'd dealt with this already, but really, just exactly what do people think is going to happen if progressives just say they're done with the Democrats and refuse to vote for them? It's not like a wonderful new party will magically arise from the ashes of the Democratic Party. So, should people be out in the streets? Of course. For the last seven years. But, you know, that's part of the same process. (It wouldn't hurt to support Cindy's primary challenge of Pelosi, though.)

Why, yes, I do want to see all the candidates go back to DC to support Chris Dodd's filibuster. Digby: "Dodd is way out on a limb on this. He's been abandoned by his party leadership and he's being forced to leave his Iowa campaign in the middle of the battle to come back to DC and do an old fashioned filibuster of this bill. Senators Clinton, Biden and Obama said they would support a filibuster. Edwards said he supported one too. If they would agree to come back to the Senate and help Dodd talk all night, it would bring much need attention to the issue and show the Democratic base that these candidates value them. Imagine if they all (including Edwards) agreed to suspend their campaigns and come back to Washington to stand with Dodd. It would be electrifying --- and it would show the country that the Democrats are prepared to fight. (It would also give them a bunch of free TV time.) Will any of them (all of them?) do the right thing or will they blow it off? Go here and ask them." (And the rest of what she said, too.)

NTodd reviews the candidates as Sugarplum Dems in his latest Paxcast. He also says the grannies were acquitted.

Snow pics.

16:46 GMT

Assorted stuff

Mutiny at Camp Taji: "They decided as a platoon that they were done, DeNardi and Cardenas said, as did several other members of 2nd Platoon. At mental health, guys had told the therapist, 'I'm going to murder someone.' And the therapist said, 'There comes a time when you have to stand up,' 2nd Platoon members remembered."

So, it looks like it's the Republicans who have had the problem with religion all along.

The whole charade is just so transparently bogus. No one really expected any better from Mukasey. Or Lindsay Graham.

You'd think that the fact that LBJ himself predicted that signing the Civil Rights Act would lose the South for the Democrats would stop them from blaming the dirty hippies for the fact that they lost the South.

Joss and the Mutant Enemy gang on strike (via).

Look, don't tell me how crap the Democratic leadership is - I already know they're crap. Tell me how we can make them do the right thing. I don't mean ten years from now, I mean now.

Wexler wants hearings - Sign up to support impeachment hearings.

12:30 GMT


D. Potter alerted me to these:

  • Driftglass' piece on another attack on bloggers. You know, I'm fascinated by the fact that they always assume that bloggers don't have any training or experience in journalism. Leaving aside the fact that many are practicing or former professional journalists, it's the quality of the work that matters, and for quality I'd put an awful lot of liberal bloggers well ahead of some of the pro world's Pulitzer Prize winners.
  • All fundamentalists have the same religion. I can still remember the first time I was shocked at the realization that "Christian" fundamentalists in America were actually murdering their own children in the name of God. That was before I understood that it was a universal phenomenon.

Mike Gravel speaks: "I want to be the poster boy of the gay community," he told the audience. (Thanks to amberglow.)

Sign up for a free trip to Iowa! (Sorry, but it just made me laugh out loud.)

Right now Mike Malloy asked callers to name the worst person of the year. And, as usual, I just can't pick between all those choices.

02:13 GMT

Friday, 14 December 2007

Somebody wake me up

Pierce: "I guess we're all supposed to be horrified this week that Hillary Clinton is acting like a tough political candidate. (If Matthews crosses his legs over his cojones any tighter, he's going to be doing the show as a soprano for the rest of his career.) I have grown a bit tired of the whole Obama-as-the-anti-Hildebeast meme, which the Obama people have determined is the non-Oprah key to his current surge. Indeed, Obama's campaign has begun to make my skin crawl a little bit. The we-are-the-world optimism that not only blinds him to the fundamental corruption of the regime he hopes to replace, but also makes you wonder if he's the guy to come in and throw daylight into all the dark corners of the past seven years. The willingness to employ Republican storylines on Senator Clinton and, far more seriously, on Social Security in an apparent attempt to win the vital Green Room Primary in Washington and to appeal to mythical "moderates" who don't exist and won't vote for him anyway. If we're ever going to get past the depredations of the Bush Administration -- many of which, I guarantee you, are still deeply secret -- it is an insufficient remedy to declare that the "politics of division" are now over and we will now reunite under a banner and move forward together. In the first place, there already is a conservative attack machine in place that will nuke whoever a Democratic president is the moment he or she lifts a hand off the Bible. Moreover, there must be an accounting if the corruption is to be cleansed and the constitutional order restored. There is no way to do this without an angry, bloody, and, yes, political process. The next president's most critical function in the early days is not to make us all feel good about our country again. It is to be the head of an informal national Truth Commission. I'm not sure if Obama even wants this job."

I've been constantly remembering that same joke every time this happens.

All our problems solved at once.

"Yes, but I did something about it."

23:11 GMT

A letter

Dear IOZ,

I always enjoy your notes to me, but I am not sure I can entirely agree, as I'm not sure there is any single entity called "Democrats", even in Congress, and I'm certain that even if there were, Bernie Sanders, who also says impeachment would be a distraction, is not one of them.

I do think you're right about some of them, IOZ, but I think others have just fallen in with a bad crowd, and many are suffering from Stockholm syndrome, and most of them have forgotten that impeachment doesn't depend on the Senate being willing to convict before the end of the term.

And I think plenty of them are just cowards. Really.

It's probably all my fault for deciding when I was a teenager that someone more competent than me would go into politics so I wouldn't have to and could lead the life of a person who didn't expect to have their personal history examined in a political campaign. I'm sure I'm not the only one who made this mistake. What I'm afraid of is that too many other people did the same thing.

But it's ridiculous to suggest that every single Democrat in Congress actually likes the occupation (and the Occupation).

It's just that enough of them seem to be on this train and not enough ordinary people are alert enough to kick them out.


17:22 GMT

Diabolical weather

I mean, when we were walking to the pub we could see stars in the sky, but by the time we left it had clouded over. It's just not fair. (And that link comes from this linky round-up post at Simply Left Behind.)

The voter-fraud phantom will rear it's ugly head in earnest again next year, and everyone should be ready - but in the meantime, pay attention to the real threats to democracy in the voter roll purges and in the machines themselves.

Who watches the watchmen? Well, these days, they all seem to work for the guys they're supposed to be watching, so....

More Giuliani law-breaking - it was all prohibited by federal law.

If no one is giving you the legal drugs you need, you find alternatives.

So, why was Kucinich kept out of the debate? I mean, they let Keyes in for the GOP. What's up with that?

Blackwater in California - a right-wing private army run by theocrats, trying to police Americans in the United States, and raising a lot of questions.

Over at Unqualified Offerings, Thoreau bites the bullet and endorses Cindy Sheehan, on the grounds that punishing Pelosi and getting her out of there (and making someone else Speaker) is necessary. He has a point. Sure, all sorts of people will whine about how she's a commie who hangs out with Evil Dictator Hugo Chavez, but she has name recognition and no one else seems to be doing the business. However, I keep wondering why no one else is even talking about challenging Pelosi in the primary. I mean, why not? I really believe that a lot of these Bush Dogs and wimps could easily be challenged by more credible progressives who could win in the general. Sure, Rahm will try to beat them back, but legwork and enthusiasm can overcome. Where are the challengers? (As always, an amusing comment thread below the post, including the Talking Dog's, "I suppose we get the government we deserve, and that includes our 'opposition party'... as always, I just don't recall knife-raping a nun...") (via) More about our feeble grandmother leadership at Pruning Shears.

It's a Blunderful Life - What if you'd never been president, George? (Thanks to Stu for the tip.)

15:25 GMT

It won't be long

In tonight's debate, who did CNN and Fox's focus groups dig the most? Why, Little Johnny Edwards.

Spencer Ackerman says the CIA is probably trying to protect itself from having the administration throw them under a bus to take the heat for its administration policies.

As previously noted, there is often a rather steep price to pay for trying to force gays to go straight. (via)

Check out the front page of the Indy, and the lead article, "Al Gore: The world can't wait for George Bush."

A message from PTerry: " I Ain't Dead." (via)

Cactus has a really creepy question: "In the spirit of POWs thwarting the will of the enemy, I'm waiting for someone to ask the administration whether, using this fine display logic, it should be considered American policy to court martial any Americans taken prisoner by the enemy who did not at least attempt to commit suicide during their captivity."

Just for the record, not all Republicans can't sing. But, really, after a lifetime of hearing this song, you'd think they'd be able to get the scansion right. (via)

Photos, many involving water.


03:27 GMT

Thursday, 13 December 2007

In search of seasonal spirit

All I'm gonna say about this is that Terry Pratchett has given me an enormous amount of pleasure and, going by his last few books, he is operating at a much higher level than I am. (Someone asked what I thought of Making Money, and I'll just say that it was fine as a sequel to Going Postal, which I totally loved. And though it's not quite as wonderful as GP, it's pretty clear that the real star of the show is the Patrician.)

What we need is a concerted campaign to demand of our Democratic "leaders" an answer to the question: "What is the real reason you are so cowardly and unwilling to hold this administration to account and stop the bleeding?" What is the real reason that 'impeachment is off the table'? What is the real reason why you keep passing bills that make America into a dictatorship, continue the disastrous occupation of Iraq, and piss off the whole country? Why are you such wimps?" I really think Atrios is too kind.

Lambert wonders, "Did Mike Huckabee get his stomach stapled on the sly?" You know, that could be regarded as a health issue - people who get their stomach stapled have a high incidence of not living a lot longer.

Rosa Brooks: "If I had to guess, the tapes were destroyed because obstruction-of-justice charges are no big deal compared to war crimes charges." Via Cab Drollery.

Arthur Silber on adults, obedience, and our not-quite-dictatorship.

Robot protest of Clinton misses mark.

Tweety says Rachel is causing trouble and he wants to waterboard her after she tells him that Alan Keyes was the star of the GOP debate.

The LAT has set up a Primary Tracker which, while it won't have any firm data until next year, you can play with now and it will tell you what's at stake nationally and by state.

A Jet from the Sun, and a neat photo of The Milky Way taken in France last summer.

16:06 GMT

That's what I want to hear

I know that mere minutes after I post this, I will read something that will bring my mood crashing down, but thanks to Molly Ivors for saying: "Bob Wexler has a way to get past the SCHIP veto." That starts my day off with a smile.

"The way we pass stem-cell research, the way we get implemented a children's health care plan, the way we get higher CAFE [corporate average fuel economy] standards to bring our energy debacle into a better condition for generations to come is to have impeachment hearings," Wexler said, appearing to nearly run out breath at one point during his speech. "Because that'll get the president's eye. That'll get the vice president's eye. That for the first time will show that the Democratic majority is here, and that in fact we have the courage of our convictions, and that we're not bound to be tied by conventional wisdom."

Wexler said that impeachment hearings weren't just an option available to Congress, but a requirement.

"This administration has abused its power in office...and it is the obligation -- not discretionary -- but it is the obligation of this Congress to investigate," he said. "And that's what I and some of my colleagues are beginning to call for."

Later, Wexler suggested the US was sorely in need of popularity boost in the world community.

The page has video of Wexler's speech down at the bottom of the article.

But as an added bonus, at the top right of the page, there's another video from Go Left TV of a Pap Attack on The Bob Shrum Curse, about how the Democratic Party consultants are shoving Hillary down our throats when it's perfectly obvious that even with the pathetic field the Republicans have up, she isn't polling that well against them, but Edwards and Obama are strong enough to beat them all.

(Footnote: If anyone was wondering where this came from, it's here.)

12:32 GMT

Signs and portents

Digby: "Moral clarity simply means the US can do whatever it wants and I have a feeling the rest of the planet might not find that reassuring these days." Just so.

M. LeBlanc: "The real question is, "how much?" How much of it is genes, and how much environment? If "choice" is the real way we determine what things we can hate people for, we're in a bad way. There will never be a way to make a determination like "fatness/gayness is 70% genetic, 30% environment." Even if we could make that determination as a general rule (and we can't), there would still be people for whom it was 90% genetic and people for whom it was 10%. Arguing that things are out of someone's control, and thus beyond criticism or bigotry, is a seductive tactic because it mirrors the arguments that are used against race discrimination. But the problem is, it's the wrong metric."

Swopa: "What sort of "help" is a woman of ostentatiously high social status -- e.g., so snooty that she insists on a separate plane seat for her Louis Vuitton handbag, calling it "Baby Louis" -- likely to need when walking her dog? I strongly suspect that it involves plastic bags and/or a scooping device."

Attaturk has more on Mormons.

Jessica finds an alarming undergarment.

Signage. More.

03:10 GMT

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Religious nuts

Oliver Willis reckons that more than half-a-million views of this video about Mormonism can't have helped Mitt Romney's campaign.

But Melissa McEwan says, "Huckabee's Religious Beliefs Are Just as Wacky as Romney's, So Why Should We Care?"

Perhaps it's time again to post the link to Teresa Nielsen Hayden's 1980 essay on her experiences with Mormonism, "God and I".

22:36 GMT

Yes, I have been skiving off

But here are some links:

Glenn Greenwald confirms what I keep tellin' ya - "New poll reveals how unrepresentative neocon Jewish groups are: A new survey of American Jewish opinion, released by the American Jewish Committee, demonstrates several important propositions: (1) right-wing neocons (the Bill Kristol/Commentary/ AIPAC/Marty Peretz faction) who relentlessly claim to speak for Israel and for Jews generally hold views that are shared only by a small minority of American Jews; (2) viewpoints that are routinely demonized as reflective of animus towards Israel or even anti-Semitism are ones that are held by large majorities of American Jews; and (3) most American Jews oppose U.S. military action in the Middle East -- including both in Iraq and against Iran." Which makes sense, since our actions in the ME do Israel more harm than good in any case. The interesting question might be why the neocons (including Lieberman) are so intent on getting Israel blown up.

Arthur Hlavaty: "If the Megan's Law database is going to help psychotic morons preventively murder any convicted child molesters in the neighborhood, it could at least point them at real ones." Also via Arthur, Bruce Schneier has a story about a kid who secretly taped his interrogation by the police and thus proved them guilty of perjury later. He makes an interesting point on the side, as well: "My guess is that this sort of perjury occurs more than we realize. If there's one place I think cameras should be rolling at all times, it's in police station interrogation rooms. And no erasing the tapes either. (And those tapes must have been really damning. Old interrogation tapes can yield valuable intelligence; you don't ever erase them unless you absolutely have to.)"

The disastrous result of laughing at Mike Huckabee. Your five minute wish-fulfillment fantasy.

So much for the independence of Governor Schwartzenegger.

Sam Seder on Olbermann (via)

Dan Abrams on the politicization of the Civil Rights Division; Olbermann and Turley on the talking CIA torturer; Keith keeping track of Bush scandals; Scarboro saying a remarkable thing.

20:41 GMT

Late notes

The War of Terror, and what it's done for us.

Alas, Rachel said on her show tonight that she's not getting a show on MSNBC.

Do I have this right? A right-wing home-schooled whacko gets kicked out of missionary school and goes back to shoot them up and it's liberals' fault?

I am delighted to know that labor unions are firing union-buster Chris Lahane.

Via Linkmeister, The Rolling Stone 1968 Trivia Quiz. Also, an attempt to get rid of a creepy executive order. (Check out the Wikipedia page on Executive Orders, btw.)

Edible Estates.

03:43 GMT

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

All the news in bits

For those who can't find it, here's the number for David Obey's DC office: (202) 225-3365.

"Gary Webb's Enduring Legacy" - Three years after his death, Robert Parry details the way Webb's (and Parry's) colleagues preferred to destroy Webb rather than acknowledge that the CIA under the Reagan administration had been complicit in cocaine traffic to the United States. (Thanks to JHB for the tip.)

Although I agree with the point of this post, I suspect Mark Kleiman is due for a visit to his optician.

Lambert says if they're serious about finding the truth about the torture tapes, they should talk to the techs who actually had all that material passing through their hands.

Demosthenes explains where Obama is going wrong.

Why Charlie doesn't like Kindle: "We have a technical term for any business plan that relies on making life difficult for customers and easy for non-customers: we call it 'circling the drain'." I'm looking forward to reading The Merchants' War on paper. (However, given the size of those damned books George Martin is writing, which I can't even lift in hardcover, I can definitely see the virtue of having a way to read them that has better portability.)

Led Zep gets rave reviews. I hear teenagers thanked their parents for dragging them along. (Much more.)

In bra news, scientists still miss the point that jogging is not the best exercise. (Thanks to Darryl Pearce for the tip.)

20:24 GMT

Don't hold your breath, but...

Is David Obey getting the message?

A Democratic deal to give President Bush some war funding in exchange for additional domestic spending appeared to collapse last night after House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey (D-Wis.) accused Republicans of bargaining in bad faith.

Instead, Obey said he will push a huge spending bill that would hew to the president's spending limit by stripping it of all lawmakers' pet projects, as well as most of the Bush administration's top priorities. It would also contain no money for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Absent a Republican willingness to sit down and work out a reasonable compromise, I think we ought to end the game and go to the president's numbers," Obey said. "I was willing to listen to the argument that we ought to at least add more for Afghanistan, but when the White House refuses to compromise, when the White House continues to stick it in our eye, I say to hell with it."

There've been a few hints lately that Obey is coming out of his fog, starting with his statement last spring that maybe we were in this mess from listening to The Washington Post too much. It'd be real nice to think he's coming back from the Brain-dead Zone:
Obey would not specify where the remaining billions would come from to reach Bush's bottom line, beyond saying the money would be shaved from the president's priorities. One possibility would be funding for abstinence education.
Man, that'd be a real good start. Go tell him he's on the right track with this, and that you are with him if he stands up to Bush. (202) 225-3365)

16:17 GMT

Open windows

I wasn't up to see the sunrise this morning, but for the first time in days I have not woken up to darkness and rain. The really weird thing is that for most of these nights, the skies have been clear enough to see stars from my back garden. Saturday night I got binoculars out and saw the Pleiades. Sunday night was not so good, but I was getting so used to it that the amazing star field I saw last night did not signal to me that there might actually be sunshine today. (Of course, that probably means I'm going to freeze my hiney off when I go out there - the one good thing about cloudy London winter is that it usually means it's warmer. Then again, "freeze" is relative; this will still be warm compared to a cold December day back home in Maryland.)

Did you know that a Canadian court declared an agreement with the US invalid because the US tortures? Happened a month ago, but this is the first I've heard of it.

Seems Harriet Miers knew about destruction of the tapes. You know, if there were tapes, there must be copies somewhere....

Did you happen to notice yet another article in the conservative Washington Post in which a Republican whines about how mean all the liberal academics are to conservatives? I'm sure the wingers will be citing it endlessly, but go to LGM for the take-down. (Good comment thread, too.)

Hominid View has a whole passel of media links, including the ones for Don Imus' interview with John Kerry, along with a bunch of Olbermann stuff, Rachel, etc.

Via Eschaton, I see that the guy whose right-wing mailing list Mel Gibson got Huckabee access to is Randy Brinson, who, "if you'll remember, is also Amy Sullivan's idea of a "reachable" social conservative, but one who keeps turning up on the wrong side of a variety of issues, immigration, abortion and abstinence among them." So much for that theory, Amy.

Leaving aside the fact that there has never been a day in my life when I could stand to be in the same room with the smell of patchouli oil, this is correct. By the time the Boomers were out of college, even student aid was gone. The Great Society had been overturned and many of the legs had been kicked out from under the various New Deal programs. Ideas that had been part of the great war-time and post-war progressive push had just stopped being talked about even before they were accomplished - we never even heard about them in college. Boomers weren't the ones who did this. Boomers didn't decide HMOs would be a great idea, Boomers didn't plan the military-industrial complex, and Boomers didn't force people like Leo Strauss to encourage the rise of a new Toryism in America. Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan were not Boomers. And Tucker Carlson was born in 1969; the bright lights of the new Tory movement are post-Boomer. It's a skip-generation thing. (Also via Maha, Steve M. on right-wing framing in action.)

Bradley Whitford on Telecom Immunity: Call Your Senators Now.

14:10 GMT


Best News of All: "The Guardian says we have contingency plans for a full-scale occupation of Pakistan, including sending U.S. and British troops to steal Pakistan's nukes and take them to a secret storage depot in New Mexico or a "remote redoubt" inside Pakistan; sending U.S. troops to Pakistan's northwestern border to fight the Taliban and al Qaida; and initiating a U.S. military occupation of the capital, Islamabad, and the provinces of Punjab, Sindh, and Baluchistan if asked for assistance by a fractured Pakistan military, so that the U.S. could shore up President Pervez Musharraf and General Ashfaq Kayani." What could possibly go wrong? (Thanks to hdavis for the tip.)

The Impolitic: "In other words, before we 'liberated' them from the tyranny of Saddam, women were free to dress as they wished without fear of death instead of being afraid to go out on the street. That's not to say that Saddam's reign was a good and glorious time for the Iraqis, but it does make it hard to argue that Iraqi women in particular are better off since we decided to remove him without being invited to do so."

Watch Al Gore's Nobel Speech (41 minute mark), or read it: "Seven years ago tomorrow, I read my own political obituary in a judgment that seemed to me harsh and mistaken - if not premature. But that unwelcome verdict also brought a precious if painful gift: an opportunity to search for fresh new ways to serve my purpose." (Also at C&L.)

I vaguely remember some poor kid who was failing to answer a question about why everyone is so bad at geography and we all laughed at her a few months ago. That girl has a future as White House spokesmodel.

03:18 GMT

Monday, 10 December 2007

Bad, bad things

Diane at Cab Drollery picks up on Why He Left:

Morris D. Davis, the former chief prosecutor for the Office of Military Commissions, left his position as the man in charge of the military "trials" of Guantanamo Bay detainees rather abruptly and, at the time, issued a rather terse comment on his decision. In today's Los Angeles Times, Mr. Davis provides more detailed reasons for why he felt it was necessary to disassociate himself from the proceedings.

Essentially, Mr. Davis left because the process had become politicized and engineered to achieve a certain result. Unfortunately, that result was not justice, but rather the carefully engineered convicting of defendants. What is instructive about Mr. Davis' op-ed piece is that it shows just how this perversion of justice was accomplished through the appointment of two administration-friendly officials.

An interesting side-note on this from John Cole - who also came up with The Most Vulgar, Disgusting, and Foul Joke in the World.

23:32 GMT

Why did my favorite cookie disappear?

Remember when having had cancer raised big questions about a presidential candidate's fitness to serve? And yet, I never hear anyone pointing out that all of the leading GOP candidates have had cancer. (Well, except for Rachel Maddow, who points out that their so-called healthcare plans would not be available to them because of pre-existing conditions.)

"Water becomes the new oil as world runs dry: Western companies have the know-how - and the financial incentive - to supply water to poor nations. But, as Richard Wachman reports, their involvement is already provoking unrest."

Lou Dobbs is one of few reporters willing to sound the alarm on issues the rest of us think are important, but like Joe Klein, he is prepared to spread smears and not bother to make corrections when he's caught - on the subject of immigration. And that makes David Neiwert particularly interested in this source of hateful attitudes toward the scary brown people.

Despite the usual lying, cheating, and scamming, the Republicans' effort to vote-grab in California has once again failed to meet the deadline to go on the ballot. Apparently, insufficient numbers of Republican fat-cats were interested in funding their efforts.

Mr. Giuliani's tax fairies, (via).

Always nice when someone else says so: "So, I ask (again): isn't it time we (ALL - including public officials) stopped calling them "pro-life"?"

So, is the real reason for Huckabee's "surge" the fact that he got Mel Gibson's support and the loony address list?

Bill Scher and some guy from the Heritage Foundation discuss the week in blogs at Bloggingheads. Bill had earlier interviewed an Iowa blogger on his radio show, and links to other Iowa blogs she recommended are at his site.

The General presents: Huckabee's Jesus.

Ruth (a different one) reminds me in comments* that a few years ago, Jefferson Pepper also released a song called "Christmas in Fallujah".


18:11 GMT

News and analysis

In another brilliant display of their negotiating acumen, the Democrats are apparently in the midst of caving in to Bush on everything. Again. $500bn for the war with no strings. Because they imagine Bush will let them have a little bit of their hope-for domestic spending. Which he's already threatening to veto. And that's why Democrats really are weak on national security - just like the Republicans. Only the Democrats are going out of the way to show us how weak they are. How lovely. (Also: A big turnaround: "The Dallas Morning News distinguished itself this year by ending its 100 years of support for the death penalty." Now they've laid out their case. You can thank them here.)

I'd like to believe that the Secretary of Defense was decrying our emphasis on military solutions and the weakness of the State Department because that's what he means, but these days I'm becoming so cynical that my first thought was, "Ah, they want more money so they can give it to Blackwater."

Michael Froomkin: "All this misses a critical aspect of our constitutional structure. Thanks to the Speech and Debate Clause there was a way for any Senator or Representative who wanted to blow the whistle to do so in a way that involved no risk of jail or fines - at worst they might have lost their security clearances (and even there the law is a little murky)." That'd be the Article I Speech and Debate clause, which allows them to speak up on the floor of Congress, "and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place." Via a linky post from Digby.

Jonathan Schwarz on the Geneva Conventions' blanket ban on torture: "There's a reason for this provision, which is: 7,000 years of human history. Torture is always justified as being in response to some threat, real or imagined. If you allow torture when the perpetrators say they're "in a panic," you're going to get lots and lots of torture."

14:52 GMT

'Tis the season

"Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime."

Kant Attack Ad, via Crooked Timber (via)

Damned Dems.


Woody on the strike: Speechless. Via Digby. (You can help.)

A new poll says Hispanics now favor Democrats by a margin of 34 percent.

The mortgage mess is really about fraud.

He kept the gay atheists out of the Boy Scouts - and now he's busted.

Pro-Choice on national security.

"He has stolen our most precious possession: the Iranian Atomic Threat." And this looks like a candidate who might be worthy of your support: Michael Brennan for Congress - in Maine's 1st.

Guitar sisters (via) Also: Quickly removing scratches from CDs and DVDs.

11:37 GMT

Under the clouds

Glenn Greenwald on Democratic Complicity in Bush's Torture Regimen: "Jay Rockefeller was one of the key Democrats briefed on the torture methods who never objected. But it's far worse than that. In September, 2006, Rockefeller was one of 12 Senate Democrats to vote in favor of the Military Commissions Act, one of the principal purposes of which was to explicitly authorize the CIA's 'enhanced interrogation program' to proceed (even though it continues to be illegal under the Geneva Conventions). Thus, not only did Rockefeller remain silent when continuously briefed on illegal torture methods by the CIA, he then voted to legalize those methods by voting in favor of one of the most Draconian laws in modern American history. That law also retroactively immunized government officials from any liability for past lawbreaking. Rockefeller is not just any Democrat. He is the individual whom the Democratic Senate caucus thereafter elected - and still chooses - to lead them on all matters relating to intelligence."

Trifecta defines extremism.

The Decider Was Right (!): "I guess George Bush was right — we are fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here. If by here he meant Israel." Also, are you smarter than a chimp?

Are labor unions to the Democratic Party as Christianist evangelicals are to the GOP?

At The Nation, some Thoughts for the Weary on Ending the War from Tom Hayden, and John Nichols says that Hillary could finish 3rd in Iowa.

Jeff Jacoby thinks there's something wonderful about having politicians "do God", in spite of things like this: "I'm amazed by how many people I know who won't vote for Mitt Romney because of his Mormonism," e-mails a friend of mine, a conservative Southern Christian. "My wife, for instance. She says, 'Anybody willing to believe things as crazy as the things Mormons believe, I can't trust his judgment.' I pointed out to her that we believe that a man was raised from the dead, that he comes to us every week under the guise of bread and wine, and that we eat him up. 'That's different,' she said."

Michael Moore cut this scene from Sicko because no one would believe it.

Matt Stuart's quirky photo gallery, (via).

00:55 GMT

Sunday, 09 December 2007

What they say

Crooks and Liars has video of Joe Biden calling for a special prosecutor over the torture tapes, and Hamden's attorney with Keith Olbermann on the same subject. Meanwhile on Fox, Sheppard Smith wondering why he's got crap coming out of his own mouth, and Bill O'Reilly talking crap to Jonathan Turley.

Arthur discusses the problem, but I think the only answer is primary challenges. Have you considered running for office? (I'm not surprised that people are wary of going out into the streets, given the fascinating new laws Bush has passed and the free use of tasers that seems to be busting out all over.) Anna provides us with an appropriate illustration.

From Adbusters, "Board to Death: The myth of the mainstream media's 'liberal bias' has recently taken yet another hit after researchers at California's Sonoma State University took a close look at the resumes of the 118 people who sit on the boards of directors of America's ten largest media organizations. The research team is part of the Project Censored, which for nearly three decades has been exposing journalistic self-censorship - 'the news that didn't make the News.' They determined that the group of 118 board members in turn sit on the boards of 288 other major corporations. They also discovered that eight out of the ten media behemoths share common memberships in each other's boardrooms." Those include Eli Lilly, Lockheed Martin, GE, Ford, and the Carlyle Group. And that's just The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Julia on... I'm tempted to say "straight boys in love", but I'm not actually sure that any of them are straight. OK, it's about Matthew Dowd being fair and balanced, or not.

This candidate guide quiz at the WaPo mysteriously doesn't mention Dennis Kucinich. It claims my best candidate is John Edwards but Hillary matched more other people. (via)

21:58 GMT

On the landscape

Nicole Belle does, in fact, have questions about that story on how Congress was briefed on the criminal torture activities of the administration: "Isn't it interesting that the WaPo reporters made sure to point out the Democrats in attendance when Congress was still operating under a Republican majority? Hmmm....who do you suppose could have leaked this story to the press to perhaps deflect from their own negative stories? No matter how you slice it, there's some serious 'splaining that needs to be done, but the lopsidedness of this article makes me more than a little leery of its accuracy."

Also via Nicole, Billy Joel and Cass Dillon performing "Christmas In Fallujah" live in Chicago, with a little help. If you buy the song from iTunes, proceeds go to Homes for our Troops.

James Wolcott says the cops have a really stupid entrapment program going on for no apparent reason. You know, because they ran out of other crime in New York City.

Those nine fired US Attorneys are doing very well, thanks. Now, can we please find out what crimes the rest of them committed to keep from being fired?

On the campaign trail, John Edwards hammers NAFTA. Good on ya, John. Something must be working, too: One Edwards supporter at the Concord event, local Democratic activist Jon Bresler, surveyed the crowd and said it seemed to be more blue-collar than the voters Edwards drew in the primary four years ago, suggesting that there is an audience in New Hampshire for his populist appeal. "There's not a person in there with a shirt that cost more than $12," Bresler said. "They're here for health care, for education, for getting out of Iraq. This is blue-collar New Hampshire, and they're responding to his message."

Frank Rich tries to figure out why Huckabee is suddenly news. I dunno, maybe he just looks better on TV.

WaPo says Hillary's pretty smart for a girl, still fails to discuss Huckabee's clothes.

16:28 GMT

News notes

Diane looks for hope: "If the Supreme Court follows the clear meaning of the US Constitution and their own reasoning in the Rasul case, and there were hints that a majority might, then that section of the Military Commissions Act which deprives detainees at Guantanamo Bay of habeas corpus and deprives the federal courts of jurisdiction to review the detentions will be nullified. The detainees will be able to challenge their detention and to see the evidence the government is using to justify the detention. Obviously this administration, which prizes secrecy so very much, will be hard pressed to continue holding these "terrorists" without revealing "state secrets," at least to the judge hearing the writ."

"Called to make money: UNLESS the Rapture comes quick, six high-profile televangelists have an appointment with Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. Last month, Senator Grassley requested detailed financial records from the high-profile television ministries that would explain how the purchase of luxury cars, private planes, multimillion-dollar homes, jewelry, and fine clothing squares with the tax-exempt status they claim." A lot of people have wondered about that.... It's still well past time to eliminate the tax exemption.

"Food prices rise, living standards fall for US families [...] Significantly, the study notes that the recommended diet, including a variety of less calorie-dense foods, now costs upwards of $36 a day. In comparison, a 2,000-calorie diet consisting of junk food would cost just $3.52 per day."

Fred Clarke on Mitt vs. atheists, martyrs, notes that both sides of Mitt's sound-bite, "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom," are wrong.

Probably the real reason behind all the sabre rattling - They're dropping the dollar as their currency for oil transactions.

By the way, you might like to watch Sheldon Whitehouse's speech about the out-of-control regency.

14:06 GMT

Any questions?

After watching Thatcher for all those years, I already have pretty low tolerance for people telling me how much nicer women would be as political leaders, but just in case anyone was still harboring any such thoughts, have a look at the leadership of Jane Harmon and Nancy Pelosi when they were told in 2002 that the United States was setting up torture facilities:

Harman, who replaced Pelosi as the committee's top Democrat in January 2oo3, disclosed Friday that she filed a classified letter to the CIA in February of that year as an official protest about the interrogation program. Harman said she had been prevented from publicly discussing the letter or the CIA's program because of strict rules of secrecy.
And that's it. Pelosi did nothing at all; apparently, she did not notice that there might be something wrong with this. Lambert says this might just tell us why Pelosi took impeachment off the table, and he calls for a new House Speaker. "'Let's ask the Apollo 13 question: 'What do we got on the spacecraft that's good?'" I guess Pogo said it best.

12:22 GMT

Stuff to check out

Triumph My Desire underwired braBra of the Week

Interestingly, the right-wing chorus has been primed to rail against even the wimpiest idea of some kind of bail-out on mortgages. Shep says: "The Wall Street Journal doesn't like the idea because they see it as, "forcibly rewriting financial contracts." The Journal's editors apparently don't share any of my credit card companies who forcibly rewrite our contracts on a regular basis. Besides it's, um, VOLUNTARY!" Indeed. Meanwhile, it appears that the mortgage mess is just part of the problem. Hang on tight, people, this could be the kind of ride no one believed we'd be taking.

Neil the Ethical Werewolf says Democrats will be in much better shape if they stand up on social issues, and also, Huckabee is a whack-job and it's just a matter of letting people see it.

Cernig wants to know, "When Were The Tapes Destroyed?" - and says that Larisa has evidence that they still existed a month and a half ago. And via Cernig, a post by smintheus: "Haggling with a poker player just doesn't work and almost never ends well. As Cernig reminds us again today, it's foolish and positively dangerous to try to haggle with George Bush. Democrats in Congress really ought to think long and hard at some stage, maybe soon, about the implications of seeking to reach a middle ground with a man who sees politics as a game of poker, where there are only winners and losers."

Fred Clark explains that fundie evangelists think they are supposed to behave like stalkers in order to show you their love.

Oh, yeah, and they want us to repudiate the Enlightenment.

You know, somehow I don't think many of our troops are really going to feel all that "supported" by this. (But Maru always has some pretty pics, too.)

Your Talking Dog reports on the right-wing appreciation of torture: "Krauthammer more or less abandons the so-called ticking time bomb fantasy as a justification for torture and gets right to it, noting that in 2002, the US of A had minimal intel as to what al Qaeda might be up to next, so torture got down to it quickly." And we're all paying a very high price for it.

Why is this man still at large?

What The Reagan/Bush Debt Means To You - Um, isn't there some way we can take it all back from Halliburton/KBR, Blackwater, etc?

Jurassicpork on the Campaign Trail of Tears.

Unreality-based, fair and balanced news

Neat photo of Galeries Lafayette, and a link to Metroblogging Paris

02:44 GMT

Saturday, 08 December 2007

I wish it would snow

Ruth is shrill:

Increasingly, the commenters at all our blogs and at such public voice outlets as at WaPo are calling for the removal of the war criminals.

The crimes mount, and the popular voice is getting louder. I recall that in order to get civil rights legislation enacted, LBJ told the Rev. Martin Luther King that he should force LBJ to act, and that the outcry needed to be overwhelming.

What does it take to make the call for impeachment overwhelming?

Have you contacted Congress lately? How about demonstrating at your local NBC affiliate?

Meanwhile, the Republicans appear to be set to break the record for most filibusters in a two-year period - but in only a single year. God, you'd think it was black civil rights or something.

It would be fun to think these were just comedy news stories, but: Bush Declares Himself Above the Law. Bush suspends capitalism, stocks soar!

I realize that not everyone takes my view of the winter holiday season.

20:24 GMT

Things I saw

Hm. According to this story, "federal law prohibits Freddie Mac from buying mortgages that cover more than 80 percent of a home's value -- unless the loan comes with a safety net, such as an insurance policy that would kick in if the borrower defaults. However, in recent years, Freddie Mac permitted home buyers to borrow all or part of the remaining 20 percent by using second loans, called "piggyback" loans, with no safety net." And the explanation? "Nothing prohibited Freddie Mac from taking on uninsured piggyback loans, Patricia Cook, Freddie Mac's executive vice president and chief business officer, said in an interview yesterday. "I don't think we viewed it as our role or responsibility to say to the market that seconds were inappropriate," Cook said." (Thanks, Steve.)

Imagine getting a job at a place where you actually don't believe in the science that is the basis of the job you have to do. Then imagine you're doing it for any other reason than to try to sue them when they decide you're really not what they want.

You know Joe Trippi has arrived when George Clooney is going to play him in the movie about the Dean campaign. (At the other end of the spectrum, nothing can redeem this.) (via)

Thanks to Nick for alerting me that you can find video for A Question of Impeachment: Trial By Theater at Podango. They're in slightly wonky order, so check the headings to sure.

Well, Debbie Howell has produced the WaPo's response to "Hundreds of negative comments, e-mails and phone calls" about their story on rumors that Obama is a Muslim that appeared on the telegraph page and was unclear about the fact that the rumors are false. Howell seems willing to admit that there was something wrong with it, but there's a great deal of dismay from the editor that their motives were questioned. Oh, dear.

Just for the record, I don't know what Bea Campbell is on about here. If someone disagrees with me by saying something like, "You obviously have no experience with [common experience]," I assume they mean it in the same way I'd mean something like, "What planet are you from?" It isn't really personal. It doesn't mean, "Aha! You're just a dyke and don't know anything!"

17:00 GMT

My morning news

"Tell Congress to Stop Big Media: Kevin Martin, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has been keeping a secret from the American people. He wants to push through plans to remove decades-old media ownership protections. And he's trying to do it without public scrutiny. Senators Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.) have introduced groundbreaking bipartisan legislation that would hold the FCC accountable and put the people ahead of Big Media. Letters like this - millions of them - stopped media consolidation in 2003. Sign the letter and tell everyone you know." An interesting mix of co-sponsors - must ask mine why they aren't among them. (Thank yours if they are.) (via)

Even the muddled, corporate New York Times could see that Mitt Romney is an anti-Constitutional crackpot.

"What It's Really All About: Congress is poised to pass an energy bill that will increase CAFE standards over a twelve year period, thereby reducing US dependence on foreign oil, saving consumers billions of dollars, and greatly reducing the tons of pollutants contributing to climate change. Predictably, President Bush has threatened to veto the bill, according to this editorial in today's Sacramento Bee. [...] What could possibly be the downside to such modest gains? Well, apparently the administration and its corporate sponsors discovered that this Congress had no intention to legislatively wipe out a recent US Supreme Court decision."

One could get the impression that Spencer Ackerman is just a wee bit suspicious of Jay Rockefeller's ever-changing story about what he knew and when he knew it on the existence and destruction of the torture tapes: "The CIA shares so much information with Rockefeller, he must have just been confused. Who can keep it straight? In any event, Rockefeller knew since 2003 that some interrogations were videotaped, and he kept his mouth shut."

Talks between the WGA and the studios have broken down with no headway being made: "as we reported to you earlier, the producers have hired big pr mucky-mucks fabiani and lehane (formerly left-of-center, now just greedy bastards), to spin the studio's extra-wide stance as positively as possible. and several observers thought that this very hire by the producers indicated that they had no intention of settling this strike anytime soon."

Rachel talked to Rand Beers on her show last night (which you can listen to here all weekend and until her new show airs Monday), and later talked about the NIE with Keith Olbermann. (She talked to Keith a few days ago about the mess of Homeland Security.)

13:27 GMT

American whiplash

Shorter Mitt Romney - and other reasons why Faithful progressive found the speech disturbing. (And down in comments, Begonia Buzzkill point out that Romney's speech was one hell of a free commercial from the networks.)

The "states secret privilege" is really just a dodge to allow inept or corrupt officials to cover-up for themselves, rather than protecting national security. Dan at Pruning Shears addresses the issue and answers the Jack Bauer question, too.

One ironic thread of right-wing rhetoric to "justify" the invasion of Iraq was that sanctions weren't working but they were killing a lot of innocent Iraqis. This always sounded like a non-sequitur to me (even leaving aside how little they cared about those innocents when they could have been helped), since I'm sure it's fairly well-known that wars kill lots of innocent people, too. Perhaps this makes it that much more ironic that now Bush wants to impose sanctions on Iran.

There seems to be some confusion between two different bills with the same acronym. The Securing Adolescents From Exploitation-Online Act, just passed in the House, says that "anyone offering an open Wi-Fi connection to the public must report illegal images including 'obscene' cartoons and drawings--or face fines of up to $300,000." The proposed SAFE Act of 2005 is described by the ACLU as one that "would help to add some judicial, Congressional and public oversight to Patriot Act powers." It hasn't gotten anywhere. (Thanks to Jeff for finding the ACLU link.)

01:03 GMT

Friday, 07 December 2007


Digby has a post up at Common Sense on the Noble neocons, disaster capitalism, and greed.

"12/4/07 NPR Democratic Debate: On Misleading and On Enabling George W. Bush" - At The Left Coaster, eriposte looks at the back and forth between Obama and Hillary over Iran.

Marcy says Sheldon Whitehouse found the smoking gun - the fantasy legal "reasoning" Bush uses, that gives himself the power to be above all law, including existing executive orders. (Thanks to amberglow.)

Our friend Monkeyfister reminds me that he covered the idea of an economy not based on growth earlier this year.

Alexandrovna has been looking into the case of Don Siegelman, political prisoner. Part I, Part II.

20:47 GMT

News and views

"Just let Bush do what he wants and kiss your habeas goodbye."

Wow, you could save a billion dollars on nationalized healthcare just by getting rid of one guy like this. (And we could put another five billion into the treasury if it weren't for all those real estate cheats.)

Krugman's article today is on Obama's healthcare plan and why his criticisms of the other Democratic proposals (from the right) are doing more harm than good, but also leads to the larger question about why Obama persistently chokes on taking the principled path. (That is, just leaving aside the problem of Obama not seeming to understand how insurance works.) And, as always, Obama is using, or creating, talking points from and for the right-wing opponents of universal healthcare.

Rachel Maddow, Dan Abrams, and a right-wing crackpot discussed the failure of abstinence-only programs on the heels of release of a new report showing that such programs do nothing to lower teenage sex. And that was before the news came out that the rate of teen pregnancy is rising again.

Chris Floyd: "Rehnquist - and now Bush - relies on the ludicrous fig-leaf argument that because such abductions are not specifically prohibited by extradition treaties, then they are "legal." This is of course using the letter of the law to strangle its spirit -- and its plain, common-sense meaning: any extradition treaty that allows one party to pluck the other's citizens from their own soil and haul them back to a foreign land for trial is a bitter sham. But again, this is the way of the world: might makes right, and "law" is bent to accommodate the interests of the powerful."

"Averse" and "adverse" are two different words. Also, why do people keep pronouncing "pundit" as "pundint"?

14:37 GMT

In the intertubes

Ever notice that the gurls at Swampland are better than the boys? Even Ana Marie Cox comes off looking more professional than those two twits they've got there. She's actually been fairly decent most of the time since she started her stint there. And Karen Tumulty did an interesting thing yesterday, in advance of Mitt's religion speech, posting links to JFK's famous speech and Q&A at the Houston Ministerial Association, and then after Romney spoke, her reflections within that context. (The Rude One took a more intense approach to Romney's utterances.)

The Senate Commerce Committee okayed a measure meant to stop the FCC from allowing expanded media consolidation, but it probably won't be enough.

Is this one of those wonderful pieces of legislation that John Conyers thinks is more important than impeachment? And why was this rushed through before anyone had time to think about it? Feh. (via)

Another creepy taser story: "toweled deaf man taking a bath is Tasered for not obeying officers’ commands, after they mistakenly entered his home." And more on the taser debate.

Here's an interesting question: "How do we develop an economy that is not based on growth?"

Maybe God has a great sense of humor. And the war against cold medicines that work.

I think this is called "destruction of evidence" and is usually regarded as a crime, isn't it?

Howard Kurtz, math whiz.

A simple demonstration of the idiocy of the DMCA, (via). (Also: Not quite kosher.)

03:16 GMT

Thursday, 06 December 2007

Assorted stuff

Lambert wonders: "But at the worst... Well, what's in the files that Hucklebee won't release? Pressure from the Clinton-hating loons that brought us Whitewater? I mean, I'd hate to think that ordained Southern Baptist pastor Hucklebee has a blind spot toward raped women the same way his church has a blind spot toward raped boys. Eh?" (But how can Huckabee lose with the advice of an expert like Dick Morris?)

Praying for rain in Georgia - Unfortunately, they prayed to the gods of de-regulation, who didn't give a damn.

Ars Technica says, "California's testing cracks ES&S evoting system wide open [...] The tests on the ES&S machines were finally conducted in October, and the results, which were recently published (PDF), show that products from ES&S are as insecure as the rest." (Thanks to beb for the tip.) Meanwhile, watch the trailer for Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections. (via)

I don't expect much from her anyway, but I'm not surprised that Paul Krugman has problems with a Kit Seelye article that refers to "American Enterprise Institute, a nonpartisan group." He's not the only one.

At least the WaPo's Perry Bacon, Jr. has admitted that the Obama rumors are false. On his blog. Now let's see it in the paper edition.

Lance Mannion looks at arguments about how progressive Hillary Clinton is and says that the bottom line is still that, though we need to get a Democrat in the White House, that Democrat, as president, will only be as liberal as Congress forces them to be.

Our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor: "Altogether, nine of the men in that room died, and four lost their children as a direct result of putting their names to the Declaration of Independence. Every single one had to flee his home, and, after the war, twelve returned to find only rubble." (If you haven't read the Declaration yet, do it now - it's short.)

You can still see Comet Holmes with the naked eye, I'm told, although I've never been able to see it.

16:52 GMT

Brioche and cheddar

Jane Hamsher reports that Time has decided they will print Feingold's letter after all, but there's no word yet on whether they will allow a response from Conyers.

Ruth thinks she found the answer to my question about what the NIE was meant to distract us from.

Onnesha Roychoudhuri at Alternet interviews Thom Hartmann on his new book, Cracking the Code, and How Liberals Can Speak Without Boring Everyone to Tears. (via)

I can't get this video to play, as is so often the case lately, but Mark Hall at Biomes Blog describes it this way: "This is great. The Onion tapes a Sunday talking heads type panel discussion that skewers the cluelessness of the real things. This time the topic is Nigeria." (I don't get it. The "Installation complete" thing with the little movie plays just fine, but it still doesn't work.) And yet, I can see Adopt an Ashtray just fine.

"Why, it's just like rain on Miss Havisham's wedding day."

I gotta say that if I were going to do a Christmas mix, this wouldn't be it, but it was the only thing I could find with the track I was looking for. You can guess which one it was, and I can't believe no one has done a proper video for it yet.

14:36 GMT

News in Hell

Do bear in mind that the alternative theory of why the Democrats are afraid to start impeachment hearings is that they've been warned that if they try anything like that, Something Serious will happen, like that Bush-Cheney will declare martial law. Given the nature of the strange laws and Royal Edicts that the White House and Congress have been emitting, lately, this no longer seems far-fetched. (Either that, or Cheney asked Pelosi if she wanted to end up like Paul Wellstone....)

I bet you thought I was just making it up about how all the right-wing blogs are the same because they all just regurgitate right-wing talking points.

It's not just that Time magazine refused to publish any of the at least 100 letters they received from the hoi polloi correcting Joe Klein's lies about FISA and Democrats, it's that they also refused letters from "two House Committee Chairmen (who jointly drafted the bill which Klein smeared), a key Senator on the Intelligence Committee, a key Congressman on the Intelligence Committee, and a presidential candidate whose campaign is centered around these issues".

So now it's official: The GOP believes it's great to prevent legitimate voters from voting because it shows we're serious about preventing voter fraud.

At Lean Left, "How Capitalism Will Keep a Nation Hungry".

I see via Pam at Pandagon that Murray Waas actually has new information on Huckabee and the rapist. To the question, "Who could have predicted that a serial rapist would rape and kill more women if he was prevented from serving his sentence?" the answer is: "Almost everyone." And they all warned Huckabee, who let him out anyway because he was only jailed in the first place for raping someone who was related to Bill Clinton. Like Atrios says, the Clinton-haters really were/are lunatics.

03:39 GMT

Wednesday, 05 December 2007

Dying inside

I don't know what John Conyers is talking about here:

But beyond that, he noted that, "Nobody [in Congress] would be able to do anything else while they were doing impeachment," he told me.

Nobody would be able to work on stopping the war, or any of the dozens of other matters that need immediate attention.

They're not doing that now. As near as I can tell, in the months since the election, we've gone from bringing the troops home within 18 months to bringing them home sometime after 2013 or not at all. Meanwhile, the Congress has gotten all kinds of very bad things done that should never even have been considered. We'd be lucky if Congress got nothing done other than impeachment hearings.
What's more, nobody would be paying attention to the issues the presidential candidates are trying to raise.
Every voter in the country who isn't completely off the rails is paying attention to the issues that matter, because they have no choice. Nothing that happens in Washington is going to stop them from noticing that the economy is a wreck, the job market gets shakier by the day, healthcare is a disaster, and all of the resources we might use to improve these things are being drained away by military misadventure. Everyone knows we're in trouble. Everyone also knows that, more than a year after the Democrats took Congress, none of this has been or is being dealt with in any meaningful way.

Instead, our civil liberties are being thrown away with our other resources. Our whole Constitution is going down the toilet. Is that really better than having impeachment hearings instead?

Sometimes they urge him to just impeach Cheney. "Yeah, and so what would happen if we succeeded?" Bush might appoint Rudy Giuliani vice president and give him a big edge for the election. Do you want that?
Doesn't John Conyers, of all people, know that's impossible unless the Democrats actually decide to confirm Bush's choice? Are they likely to do that? Nixon was forced to nominate Ford to replace Agnew because Mike Mansfield told him there was no other Republican they'd confirm. Can't this Congress even refuse to confirm a criminal like Giuliani? Is that what Conyers is saying?

It turns out that Conyers, too, has 2008 disease. He sees it as so important that a Democrat should be elected to the White House - so important that a Republican be kept out - that not even saving the Constitution is worth risking that. And why does he think it's a risk? He thinks that impeachment would create sympathy for Bush.

Impeachment created sympathy for Clinton, it's true. Because everyone could see that it was wrong. The Republicans had nothing on him, and instead chose to try to wreck Clinton's marriage and publicly humiliate some intern because they felt like it, and they began impeachment hearings that two-thirds of the country opposed.

Well, two-thirds of the country does not oppose impeachment of George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney. In fact, a majority of Americans believe Bush and Cheney have committed numerous impeachable offenses and at the very least should be investigated for them, and impeached if the case is proven. Even something like a third of Republicans think they are criminals. And for most Democrats, it isn't even a question.

Conyers has been infected by the same madness that has corrupted the rest of the party, it seems. He's not on the take, he doesn't want any part of the Republican program, but he's surrounded by an overwhelming meme war run by GOP operatives who have convinced everyone on the Hill that impeachment of Bush/Cheney would exactly parallel the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

It's a lie. In the rest of the world, everyone knows they are entirely different things. People liked Bill Clinton and they didn't care about his sex life. They thought Starr and the Republicans were out of line because they were.

But people despise Cheney, and even a significant chunk of those who voted for Bush are now completely disgusted with him. They know these guys are wrecking our country and possibly the world. They understand that they're criminals. Impeachment hearings will only highlight the depths of their depravity.

What's there to have sympathy for? Illegal war? The murder of a million people who never threatened us? Torture? Contempt for our Constitution?

Please. The worst that could happen is that people will storm the White House with torches and pitchforks.

(Thanks to D. Potter for the tip.)

19:50 BST

A few links

Eric Boehlert asks, "Have GOP bloggers stopped whining yet?" It's funny, right-wing bloggers complained that Democrats were allowed to ask questions of the candidates in the Democratic debate, and then complained that a Democrat asked a question in the GOP debate. So, I guess it's "media bias" if Democrats are allowed to ask questions of either party. Whereas it used to be that candidates from either side just had to put up with whatever they got, on account of the idea that they were running for president of the whole United States, not just their own party. "These GOP bloggers are so afraid of democracy that they spend their days and nights blaming the press for allowing it to take place."

I'm actually not going to hold my breath waiting for the "strict constructionists" on the Supreme Court to actually act by the clear wording of the Constitution, but maybe we'll get lucky.

Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers looks to be facing down the RIAA. He's filed papers with the court demanding information about how the RIAA has been getting its information, suggesting that they not only don't have a proper case, but that they have been acting illegally as investigators. (And I'm delighted to know that there is an entire blog called Recording Industry vs The People.) (via)

Well, I listened to NTodd's podcast because I like to hear him rant about Pelosi, but I felt like I was in a gay bar.

Fixer wants to warn you against your credit cards, even though you really have no choice a lot of the time.

The Turtles sing "Let Me Be".

17:41 BST

Blind spot

Since I didn't actually read the NIE myself, I didn't notice how political it was, or even how wimpy it was. But over at Left I on the News, Eli did his homework, and has a very different assessment of what's been going around:

Was its impetus those in the administration and intelligence community who think an attack on Iran would be folly, and want to demonstrate that "diplomacy" (sanctions and threats of war are what passes for "diplomacy" in the United States) is all that's needed? Or perhaps its impetus is Bush himself, realizing that there's no way the U.S. can go ahead with an attack on Iran so he might as well salvage some credit by claiming that his "diplomacy" made Iran abandon its alleged nuclear weapons program. Who knows? I don't, nor do you, and it's pretty much pointless to worry about it.
Eli notes the assertion in the report that:
We assess with moderate confidence that convincing the Iranian leadership to forgo the eventual development of nuclear weapons will be difficult given the linkage many within the leadership probably see between nuclear weapons development and Iran's key national security and foreign policy objectives, and given Iran's considerable effort from at least the late 1980s to 2003 to develop such weapons. In our judgment, only an Iranian political decision to abandon a nuclear weapons objective would plausibly keep Iran from eventually producing nuclear weapons-and such a decision is inherently reversible.
Eli wonders what part of the Iranian leadership they could be talking about. Is it the guy who said this?
We have declared many times, and we declare again, that our nuclear technology is in the service of peaceful goals. We declare that mass destruction weapons are sought by those who still think in the mode of 50 years ago. Those who think that political equations and cultural and economic equations can be solved to their benefit by relying on arsenals of mass destruction weapons. Our nation is a civilized nation, a cultured nation, that relies on the faith and will of its young nationals. Our nation, in order to achieve its aspiration, relies on the thoughts and beliefs and enhanced values that lie in the Islamic culture and Iranian culture. Our nation does not elicit its power from nuclear weapons. The power of our nation is rooted in the justice of its beliefs.
That's their president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Or maybe it's this guy:
The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued the fatwa that the production, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons. President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who took office just recently, in his inaugural address reiterated that his government is against weapons of mass destruction and will only pursue nuclear activities in the peaceful domain.

Pretty thin evidence of a desire to build a nuclear weapons program.

And Bush seems to have proved Eli right with his fresh language about sanctions - that is, make economic warfare against Iran, instead.

* * * * *

The Black Adder Quote Generator, via Elayne. (Happy birthday, happy anniversary, happy Chanuka, and best wishes, kid.)

Thanks to Patrick for turning me on to this neat song by Jonathan Coulton. And even more stuff by him. Am I the last person to know about this guy?

12:32 BST

Media messages

Hard Rain Journal 12-3-07: David Gregory Meet I.F. Stone and Tom Paine x 10,000 - At Words of Power, Richard Power makes a strong response to David Gregory's stupid blame-the-bloggers crap, well worth reading. Taylor Marsh recommends it, and so do I. (But Richard is wrong about one thing: We did need more than one I.F. Stone in the '60s, but we didn't have more than one. He warned us then about all this stuff, but not enough people heard what he was saying. If they had, we might not be in this mess right now.)

Memeorandum reveals that zillions of people have been writing about the National Intelligence Estimate that stripped the flimsy disguise off of Bush's Iran warmongering excuses. One of them is Norman Podhoretz, who wrote such unbelievable claptrap that you shouldn't click on his name there and instead should read all about it somewhere rational. Scott Horton, on the other hand, is very clickable, as always. I forget now which of the many pieces I've read on the subject pointed out that the existence of this document explains the sudden push to get the Senate to declare Iran's army a terrorist organization (Kyle-Lieberman), and that Bush actually tamped down his WWIII language and switched to this terrorist business around the time they actually got the report. Bush pretending that he never got this information is almost comedy until you remember that he's supposed to be the President of the United States. Seymour Hersh seems to have pretty strong evidence that it's just the usual Bush lying, anyway. Spencer Ackerman says Congress (Probably) Didn't Compel Release of Iran Intel Report and that Mike McConnell appears to have done it on his own - which makes you wonder why he did so. (Is there something even worse they didn't want us to be paying attention to?)

Here's a breath-taking headline from The Washington Post: "Divorce Found to Harm The Environment With Higher Energy, Water Use."

From Media Matters, "Sunday-show discussions of Giuliani billing issue ignored that affair reportedly created increased cost for NYC taxpayers," and "LA Times article on CA ballot initiative omitted arguments against, ignored GOP affiliation of initiative's backers."

I really enjoyed this thread at Booman Tribune, by the way.

02:32 BST

Tuesday, 04 December 2007

Light the first candle

If you haven't been checking Eschaton regularly, you really should - Duncan is not-so-subtly warning you just how ugly things are likely to get as a result of the big mortgage scam.

It's pretty smart of Norm Coleman to get on board Congressional investigation of credit card companies and their rate-pumping. Smart for anyone in Congress, actually, to try to distance themselves from the predators, but particularly smart for a Republican running in a state that can't be relied on to deliver enough red votes to keep him in office. Coleman, of course, voted for the bankruptcy bill (no Republican voted against it), so he needs something to make him forget what a heartless creep he is.

"Maybe All That Blogging Has an Effect After All?" Mike the Mad Biologist finds NBC news writer Chris Colvin saying good things about blogs after watching the way Glenn Greenwald got down on Joe Klein's smear-spreading bull. (via) Nice response after David Gregory blamed "the blogs" for the polarization of politics in America.

John Grisham doesn't believe the charges against Dickie Scruggs, either. (via)

I'm glad I didn't bother to check out Facebook. I'm beginning to think that the whole "Web 2.0" thing was just a way of saying they were throwing out all the nice community rules we used to have, and all those nifty ideas like privacy and common carriage &etc. (And styrofoam? Really?)

Fred Clark has the blasphemous comedy stylings of Mike Huckabee.

22:43 BST

News and stuff

I've noticed that even otherwise very good commentators have referred to the Libby commutation as a pardon, or even "a pardon in all but name", and I want to emphasize that this is not true: It was better than a pardon. Sure, it left Libby with a record and a fine, but it also meant that he can still plead the Fifth - that is, it made sure he had no incentive to testify against his bosses and a legal reason not to, whereas a pardon would have meant he could testify without risking legal self-incrimination. This made it plain as day that the move was meant not just as a get-out-of-jail-free card for Libby, but protection against his testifying against the people at the top - probably both Bush and Cheeny.* Nevertheless, Henry Waxman is still on the case, and pushing to get Fitzgerald's files over White House objections. Last time I looked, Mukasey didn't look like he was going to do the right thing. (I will say that Marcy's new digs look nice. I was a little worried when I realized she was at the FDL site, but she's definitely got more tasteful decor, although, again, I don't like the short leads.)

Mel-Anon: "I think this is a win-win situation all-around. Chavez's more autocratic tendencies were defeated, and he wins a propaganda victory by coyly subverting his image in the Western media as a power-hungry dictator at the same time. From his own reaction, you'd almost believe Chavez planned it that way..."

Over at Cab Drollery, Ruth and Diane on the courts standing up for separation of church and state in a case where prisoners who joined a (taxpayer-funded) evangelical group got special privileges and help that the rest did not; the WaPo purveying the technology myth that pretends the tech revolution gave the US an advantage in industry and jobs, though the reverse seems to have occurred; and the shameless return of Paul Wolfowitz.

I don't understand why Fox even bothered to refuse this ad when there's so little to it.

Keith Olbermann was obviously delighted when Tom Tomorrow decided to cover Bill O'Reilly's war on Keith.

Monkeyfister describes it as the "Best.Political.Ad.EVER." It's Mike Gravel saying, "Power to the People." I love it.

15:51 BST

Happy holidays

A few years ago there was a story about how farmers who had the misfortune to discover their fields were being corrupted by genetically modified seeds from neighboring fields were helpless to protect themselves, and their governments couldn't even prevent it, thanks to all those "free trade" agreements. I vaguely remember that the story (which I linked to then, but now can't find) took place in Canada. But the fallout from NAFTA and CAFTA are hitting Americans more visibly now, and it's becoming clear that the only sovereignty that counts is that of the corporatocracy. Digby reports.

Last month, Ian Jack compared Hong Kong's prosperity to the ruin of Detroit in stark terms. It happened because a number of stupid decisions were made by TPTB in America, with the result that it's not GM that's America's car company, but Toyota.

Congratulations to the 2007 Media Person(s) of the Year: Writers on Strike.

Charlie Savage reports that Bush has produced his first signing statement of the year, but the White House is being slightly less overtly obnoxious about it, rhetorically - hoping, apparently, that no one will notice.

Catch 43 - which Rachel Maddow discusses on Countdown.

If you don't have your menorah yet, you don't have much time - maybe you can still get one here; they even have one that's a moose with antler candle-holders. You can also send an online Chanukah greeting card and get latke recipes here.

12:36 BST

Uh oh

Mark Kernes writes:

Y'know all those aptly-named Repugnican mandates like the Clear Skies Initiative, and No Child Left Behind? Here's another one:

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced the Securing Medicare and Retirement for Tomorrow Act (SMART Act, H.R. 4181), which aims to solve the looming Social Security and Medicare crises by transitioning, over a 42-year period, to a system where workers control personal retirement and health care accounts.

For more details, click here: [doc file]

02:22 BST

On the drum

Diebold has changed it's name to Premier Election Solutions, and ex-Diebold employee and whistleblower Stephen Heller is speaking out about how they are getting away with their crimes, and he's the one who was convicted - for exposing them. Also, Jill says, "Why not just use the "D" word?"

The FCC says Tribune can have all the media saturation it wants.

If I needed any more reasons not to like Hillary, her position on crack sentencing would do it. Also, Don Imus: "Dick Cheney is still a war criminal," Mr. Imus, 67, told the audience, in an effort to reassure them that he did not intend to completely alter his style, or curb his tongue. "Hillary Clinton is still Satan. And I'm going on the radio."

The short form of the Republican strategy comes down to this: They're against universal health coverage because it's what Americans want.

Russ Feingold tells the Trib why Joe Klein is full of it. (via)

The tiny house movement. Kind of neat, really.

Avram has a post full of webcomics links, including Joss Whedon's Sugarshock.

00:34 BST

Monday, 03 December 2007

Sex and other stories

See, the problem I have with all this is that I know that what your sexuality is just isn't an intellectual process, and for the most part people look at the pornography that turns them on, rather than becoming turned on to something just because that's what's in the pornography they see. And I also know that pornography is far more diverse than its detractors wish to acknowledge - just like people's sexuality. Sure, a lot of people are turned on by creepy things, but a lot of those creepy things don't unpack as easily as you might think. And it's not pornography that's at the center of the things that are creepy about male roles (or female roles), but everything else. As always, pornography is a red-herring in that debate. It may appear to expose the nasty truth about masculinity, but it really doesn't.

What is it with these Texas boy cheerleaders? Trent Lott in pictures, and I can't help thinking, "But, gosh, that seems...a little gay."

I see the War on Tourism is proceeding apace. "U.S. Plans to Screen All Who Enter, Leave Country: The federal government disclosed details yesterday of a border-security program to screen all people who enter and leave the United States, create a terrorism risk profile of each individual and retain that information for up to 40 years." Hell, even I don't want to go there anymore, and I really miss real pizza. (And I still want some pumpkin pie!)

Republicans and taxes: "What really makes you a good conservative is to believe you can have something for nothing. All their elaborate theories about supply-side economics and 'fair' taxes are fiscal alchemy. If we can just find the right formula, they think, government revenue will appear magically, and fairies will provide the government services we want without our having to pay for them."

Kinky Advent Calendar is a blog series rather than an actual Advent calendar, but I thought you should know. Not work-safe, of course.

18:02 BST

The People decide

Just for the record, Hugo Chavez didn't lose an election, he lost a referendum on something he could probably have done more easily by other means, but he decided to ask the people instead. And it ended up something like this:

Hugo Chavez, once again proving himself to be so much classier than his opponents, has conceded defeat in the reform of the Venezuelan constitution. The margin is so close (1.4%) that he thinks that the remaining ballots might win it for him, but he said that he didn't want to put the country through an experience like the US in 2000. The country had indicated that it wasn't enthusiastically for the reforms, so he would accept their verdict.
As Atrios and Matt have pointed out, and in contrast to the corporate press' hysteria about what an authoritarian Chavez is, he turns out not to be much of a dictator.

What was the outrageous thing he wanted to do? He wanted to get rid of term limits - something America's wrong-wing is always in favor of when there's an authoritarian Republican in the White House. You might recall that the US Constitution didn't used to have term limits, either, until FDR kept getting re-elected and they freaked out and added a whole new amendment to the Constitution just to stop him from running again. There's nothing particularly undemocratic about not having term limits, of course; indeed, one could argue that preventing the public from being able to choose to allow a popular public servant to continue to serve them might itself be undemocratic.

But our corporate media hates the guy. Why? Atrios is quite clear on the point:

I always find Hugo Chavez to be a somewhat annoying subject because he's neither the Satanic Hitler as reflected universally in our media (and it's really creepy how much he's distorted) nor the Great Savior Of The Left. He's a left wing populist with an authoritarian streak, but no matter what they say it's "left wing populist" which makes the Villagers froth, not the authoritarian part. There are plenty of dictators around the world which get respectful treatment from our media, and the anti-Democratic authoritarian actions of our own president disturb them not at all.
And, as Musa puts it:
Let's see..the twice democratically elected president (and a recall attempt, not to mention the military coup) of Venezuela holds a public referendum to change the constitution, barely loses and graciously concedes defeat. If his policies were free market, he would be hailed as a beacon of light for democracies all over the world. Instead, since his policies actually address the needs of the majority of Venezuelans, he is excoriated in the U.S press as a dictator.
I think Chavez' suggested changes were a bad idea, and I'm unsurprised that the people were not enthusiastic about them. But you can hardly argue that Chavez is a dictator because he asked the people if they'd let him make those changes, while at the same time pretending that Bush is not a dictator when he simply ignores the laws that the people don't want him to change. And the people have spoken.

Venezuela is looking a lot more like a democracy than some other countries I could name....

16:46 BST

When it changed

I assume people fall for this crap because they ache to be able to pretend that turning the clock back is the same thing as "progress". They were tired of having "The Greatest Generation" held up to them as having fought the good fight and saved freedom and democracy while their own generation was regarded as druggies or layabouts or just spoiled kids or whatever. They were freaked at the idea that some old dead guy in granny glasses and a wheelchair with a bossy wife did more for the economy than all the hot young guys in their Armani suits could ever do. They were easy marks. No one could tell them there was nothing new under the sun.

Before 9/11 changed everything, I can remember when the sages of the op-ed columns and of Usenet alike were claiming that the revolution in information technology changed everything - and I thought that was bollocks, too. I wish I'd had a weblog at the time just so I could point to it and say, "See, I told you nothing had changed!" (I'm sure there are some old Usenet posts of mine somewhere that have me explaining that, no, the internet does not mean they can't censor people anymore. I wonder how many of those glibertarians who thought they could say anything they wanted with impunity have finally gotten the message on that.) And we had all these conservative and "neoliberal" types (who were neoconservatives who didn't want to be called "conservative" anything) who were claiming that markets were now completely different and we didn't need regulation anymore and we didn't need to pay attention to rules that had been true forever because the stock market could never crash again or any of that.

It was magic! It was Modern Times, and none of the old rules applied anymore! People didn't seem to realize that if you export your production, not to mention ownership of the production, you are exporting your money.

And then I noticed that the same people who had been calling Social Security a ponzi scheme - which it isn't - were failing to notice that the hot new market they were investing in actually was a ponzi scheme. (That was obvious to me when I realized that the value of my house seemed to double over night, and banks were telling people that they could afford mortgages that were five times or more what they made in a year.)

So, sure, the people who created all these fancy new ways of doing things made out like bandits, but they did it by selling the risk to someone else, and now lots of people are holding the bag - and some of them are people our whole economy depends on. And now Krugman says:

This time, market players seem truly horrified - because they've suddenly realized that they don't understand the complex financial system they created.
Well, I understand perfectly. I understand that the regulations they threw out were created precisely to prevent crap like this, and I felt the chill to my bones the minute I realized Reagan was undoing all the little safety catches that had been protecting our economy. Bastards. We've had arsonists running the show.

13:04 BST

Some more links

Cell Whitman alerts me to My Big Fat Moonie Wedding (Channel 4, Wed 5 Dec, 10pm), which they interviewed John Gorenfeld for. Also includes people who were in the big fat wedding - and have since bugged out. Apparently, it's only viewable from the UK, alas.

Thanks to D2 for alerting me to Votelaw, a blog "At the intersection of politics and law: redistricting, campaign finance, the right to vote, election law and administration, and politicians in trouble." Just in case you think I'm too much of a stickler when I insist on paper ballots rather than just a "paper trail" or electronic records, dig this: "More than 20 percent of the printouts from touch-screen voting machines were unreadable and had to be reprinted. Board of Elections workers found the damaged ballots when they conducted a recount Tuesday of two races, which involved only 17 of the county's 1,436 precincts." (And even something for me.)

C&L has video of Karl Rove lying to my Congressman.

About that ownership society thing....

Really cool library, which they should make permanent. (via)

Blackened Sky Advent Calendar
Bengal Cat Advent Calendar
A to Z Home's Cool Homeschooling Advent Calendar.

Photoblogging Advent from kevincm, mostly in Birmingham, it looks like. Another Brummie Advent blog set. Minimally Invasive Advent photoblogging. Sausagenet Advent blogging.

And here's a downloadable calendar.

02:38 GMT

Sunday, 02 December 2007

Winners and losers

Jeff Dinelli The Left Coaster warns: "The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, Senate Bill 1959, is set to be voted on. The cleverly worded law would allow the government to arrest and imprison anyone who speaks out against the Bush administration, the Iraq occupation, the Department of Homeland Security or any other government agency, including the FDA. The law passed the House on October 23rd by a traitorous vote of 405-6 (one of the 6 was our hero, Dennis Kucinich). [...] Forget that this is going to be specifically aimed at Muslim organizations. This is the beginning of the end to Free Speech in America. If this law passes, every information source you know and trust could be shut down and its authors arrested. The Left Coaster could be taken offline and we all would be doomed to a fate like the Ancient Mariner, labeled as "terrorists." Think I'm exaggerating?" And I see there's more on this at Rants From The Rookery.

Via Jeralyn, two articles on the War on Some Drugs: "How America Lost the War on Drugs" by Ben Wallace-Wells in Rolling Stone, and "Admit war on drugs has been a failure" by Froma Harrop in the Herald. Jeralyn also says that some states are rethinking harsh juvenile crime laws. It'd really be good news to see more of that. And congratulations to Jeralyn for the Al Horn Award.

C&L has more video of Naomi Klein talking about The Shock Doctrine on MSNBC.

Vote for Talk Left or Glenn Greenwald.

23:42 GMT

Official Advent post

Regular readers of The Sideshow, particularly those closest to home, along with those who come here via the Locus portal and the sites of our many skiffy friends and family, might be especially interested to know that there's a United Kingdom Rocketry Association Advent Calendar.

Ditto the fact that Comics Should Be Good! is doing an Advent Calendar. (Looks like a new post each day but it's an actual calendar with individual windows, and the old windows and the new one will open, but not those for succeeding days until they arrive.) Polite Dissent is blogging Advent with a Comic Book Cover Art Advent Calendar. (These are just blog posts, not a traditional open-the-windows calendar.)

And Patrick just IMed me with a link for another calendar of special interest to James Marsters fans.

The Westminster Library Advent Calendar starts with a list of Advent calendars, several of which I hadn't seen already:

In addition, we have:

BBC Southern Counties Advent Calendar

Tate Gallery Advent Calendar

Retrospec Advent Calendar

Operation Letters to Santa's Advent Calendar, which offers you a different wallpaper image of snowy/Christmassy scenes for your desktop each day.

Liverpool Museums Advent Calendar

It's Just a Bit of Fun Advent Calendar

18:50 GMT

Interesting times

A couple of interestingly scary items from Der Spiegel suggest all your nightmares at once. One, "Why America's Currency Is the World's Problem," discusses the primacy of the US Dollar as the world's base trading currency and the fact that its plummeting value has lots of very important people worried - but they don't know what to do about it. The other, "The Dangerous Wealth of the Ivy League," talks about the way the top-tier universities are sucking the talent out of other schools and creating gilded educational facilities for the very rich. Now, think about this: Can concentrating all of our intellectual wealth in these few schools where the laziest of students go to get a Gentleman's C possibly improve their generation of high-performing creators? I don't think so.

Thomas Edsall has a piece in the HuffPo about made-up stories in National Review Online, and Glenn Greenwald notes that these are the same people who went into one of their furied frenzies over Scott Beauchamp's unpleasant (but apparently true) stories in The New Republic about how war is, y'know, not nice. But it's all quiet now everywhere beside the liberal blogosphere, while NRO editor K-Lo tries to downplay the false stories as merely "incomplete".

Larry Craig still not gay? More men say they don't think so.

So I was looking at this Giuliani post over at Lambert's place and I clicked on the YouTube thing just because I wanted to hear it, and it said the clip had been removed. But then I clicked on it again anyway just to see what it would do, and the clip is still there. I often find that if I have any trouble with a YouTube embed, clicking a second time takes me to the original page and it works fine.

Hey, you can get a Lego Advent Calendar. Cool. Meanwhile, Forbidden Planet appears to be selling a Milk Chocolate Doctor Who Cybermen Advent Calendar. And The Times has a story on the world's most expensive Advent calendar, available at Harrod's.


16:27 GMT

Dark, with scattered light

Triumph Tender Temptation underwired push-up half cup braBra of the Week

Firedoglake has had a revamp. I don't think I like it. On the other hand, they've added some more of our friends to the roster, which is good. Particularly happy that they've got Julia on board now, since LJ seems to load really, really slow lately, and it's been getting cumbersome to read her and others over there. But the leading section is too short, and it makes me feel like I'm looking at one of those truncated RSS feeds.

"I honestly don't think anyone has quite thought through all the implications to the US if the dollar becomes just another currency." And every day that becomes more likely to happen, as our government gives the rest of the world more and more reasons to regard the United States as a rogue nation. I didn't see the part of the Constitution that said we could wander around the world kidnapping foreign nationals....

"Who knew that 'Islamo-fascism,' the phrase, was a giant trolling device?"

Another useful blog, GOTV, closes up shop. Don't be a stranger, Alice.

I live in a typical London "terraced" house (in America, depending on the neighborhood, it might be called a "rowhouse" or a "brownstone"), narrow, with no actual closets. Two of these staircases look instantly attractive to me. (The others look like rich-people toys, or worse.)

See, the thing is, we would drive back from College Park or Baltimore or wherever and we'd see this thing rising up from the trees, and then some enterprising person painted, "Surrender, Dorothy!" across that bridge, like a caption as you drove toward it. The Powers That Be would try to paint it out, but for a long time you could still read it anyway, and sometimes someone would come back and paint it back in, and they'd paint it out, and it would be painted back in... and eventually they got better at painting it out, but I guess whoever the graffitist was got tired of doing it, because we eventually stopped seeing it. But, for a time, I would look forward to bringing visitors round the Beltway toward it to catch their reactions. (Mind, it was still fairly funny even without the graffito. Visitors would see it and say, "What the hell is that?)

11:29 GMT

Saturday, 01 December 2007


It's about the oil, and Michael Schwartz explains in TomDispatch:

As long as that government is determined to install a friendly, anti-Iranian regime in Baghdad, one that is hostile to "foreigners," including all jihadists, but welcomes an ongoing American military presence as well as multinational development of Iraqi oil, the American armed forces aren't going anywhere, not for a long, long time; and no relative lull in the fighting -- temporary or not -- will change that reality. This is the Catch-22 of Bush administration policy in Iraq. The worse things go, the more our military is needed; the better they go, the more our military is needed.
And too many Democrats are happy to support this policy. (via)

23:36 GMT

In Blogtopia

Libby is Waiting with John Cole to find out if the right-wing chorus can explain why they are outraged the "wrong" person asking a question at the GOP debate. Meanwhile, Capt. Fogg has another issue: "Nowhere in the 6th amendment or anywhere else in our constitution does the disclaimer "*but not if the decider decides otherwise" appear. Nowhere in the text do I see the suggestion that the law can be bypassed by substituting the word "detainee" for accused or that any of the rights therein described as natural or inalienable are only things to be granted or denied by a sovereign Commander Guy. None the less that's what the Decider decides in this nation of Republistan Under God."

Elsewhere, yet another reminder that the phone calls our intelligence services should be bugging for terrorist connections are those of members of that great big terrorist group, The Republican Party. (Actually everything linked here is pretty interesting.)

When people ask me whether I support states' rights or federalism, I say, "No, I support individual rights." That's because I'm not a repressive creep in search of a "principled" lie. If a woman can't even have control of her own reproductive life, there are no rights.

Ah, so that's what they mean by "reporting".

Damn Rahm: "There’s been a bit of a struggle going on at the DCCC because many members want to help finance Robin Weirauch’s run in the special election on December 11th, but Rahm Emanuel is stubbornly opposed to opening up the wallet to help a grass roots progressive pick up a very winnable seat." Lean on DCCC head Chris Van Hollen to ignore Rahm and give Robin some support. (Especially useful if you're in Maryland's 8th.) (And, gee, even Andrew Card thought Karl Rove was whacked when he tried to blame the invasion on the Democrats.)

You know, it might not be so bad if this complete failure to navigate our digital present were happening in some mainstream writers' guild, but this is fordogssake the Science Fiction Writers of America.

I love "radio" stuff like this. (via)

Death Valley Spirit Rock

17:12 GMT

Surrender, Dorothy!
(You get points for recognizing the reference.)

Ah, I checked last night, but it was too early and they didn't have it up yet, but as of now, the Doctor Who home page is an Advent calendar.

Paul Krugman is dismayed with Obama's mischaracterization of the differences between his and the other Dem candidates' healthcare plans. Bob Somerby says the press corps isn't calling him on it because it's all part of their Clinton/Gore narrative where Gore and the Clintons are Big Liars, so you can tell any lie you want about them.

Bill Scher says "America Is Still Not Safer," and Dem candidates need to sharpen up. Meanwhile, GOP candidates are shooting themselves in the foot on immigration.

No surprises: The Republican base hates the poor and doesn't believe that the children of undocumented immigrants are God's children. Fortunately, the base seems to be shrinking.

The Miracle of the Keith: with Edwards (about how the poor widdle Republicans got aksed a kwestyun by a maybe-Democrat), and with an FBI guy about firefighters as spies.

The 40 worst Rob Liefeld drawings (via)


12:30 GMT

Fake Advent

It's that time of year again, when we here at The Sideshow fight Bill O'Reilly's War Against Chanukah (which is what he's really doing) with our own overt Season's Greetings.

Today is Fake Advent, when nearly all of the Advent calendars start, even though Advent itself may not. But we don't care - the weather is chilly, the nights are drawing in, and it's time.

To start off, the midi version of "Carol of the Bells", and some Advent calendars:

From The Episcopal Diocese of Washington. (Not active yet, presumably because it's not December for another few hours in the US.)

North Pole

Woodlands Junior Advent Calendar

BBC Religion & Ethics
BBC Bach Christmas
(Plus: Auntie Beeb's Christmas recipes)


I don't know if St. Margaret Mary will do this one this year, but maybe they'll have it up tomorrow when it's December in America.

Feel free to alert me if you find any others.

01:12 GMT

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, December 2007

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