The Sideshow

Archive for February 2007

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Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Here's the harvest of contusions

Cernig: "If you haven't yet seen what John Bellinger, legal adviser to Condi Rice, is telling European nations about their probe into illegal rendition flights, read it and weep for the demise of American diplomacy and the simultaneous demise of any threadbare pretense that the Bush administration give a fig for anything or anyone but itself."

Glenn Greenwald notes that, this time around, it has taken far less than a year for criticisms of pro-war stenography to make it into The New York Times.

Why "Mistake" Matters for '08: "But, uttering the "M" word is not enough. Citizens need an explanation of why that vote was a mistake so we can assess candidates' judgment for the inevitable decisions they will have to make as President."

So, the Bush administration solves the problems at Walter Reed the the same way they do everything else. (via)

At C&L, Olbermann on Gore's energy use, and Cliff Schechter calls right-wing out for their sexism on CNN.

Lesbian koalas.

23:22 GMT

Notes from the front

If English becomes the official language, does that mean that right-wingers will finally be forced to learn it? (Also: Giuliani talks religion - and faith-based compassion. By which we mean, he now believes that the GOP cares about the poor, even though there is no evidence of it. He apparently thinks that tax cuts for the rich help the poor.)

"Chalmers Johnson: "Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic" - Democracy Now interview: "By the subtitle, I really do mean it. This is not just hype to sell books -- "The Last Days of the American Republic." I'm here concerned with a very real, concrete problem in political analysis, namely that the political system of the United States today, history tells us, is one of the most unstable combinations there is -- that is, domestic democracy and foreign empire -- that the choices are stark. A nation can be one or the other, a democracy or an imperialist, but it can't be both. If it sticks to imperialism, it will, like the old Roman Republic, on which so much of our system was modeled, like the old Roman Republic, it will lose its democracy to a domestic dictatorship."

The US psychological torture system is finally on trial - Naomi Klein says in the Guardian: "If these techniques drove Padilla insane, that means the US government has been deliberately driving hundreds, possibly thousands, of prisoners insane around the world. What is on trial in Florida is not one man's mental state. It is the whole system of US psychological torture."

"Human Lobotomy" - Save net neutrality.

About 15 states have passed the NRA's shoot without thinking law. Isn't this cowering to the gun lobby stuff getting way out of hand? I'm not anti-gun, but really, we're at the point where expecting people to use a little judgment before shooting someone is enough to get you labelled "anti-gun".

Our booming economy.

13:11 GMT

In the vortex of the night

Jim Henley: "Man, some conservative bloggers ought to buy Stupid-Abatement packages to offset their writing on this Al Gores House business." (Plus: Al Gore is fat!)

At Make Them Accountable, David Podvin's "Exit Strategy" explains why we can never leave Iraq.

What's wrong with this picture? It's a BBC reporter announcing live that Building 7 of the World Trade Center has collapsed - with Building 7 clearly standing behind her. Story here. (Thanks to Chris in comments.)

Peter Beinart has finally admitted that he was wrong because he misunderstood what war could actually accomplish in Iraq. He says, but apparently does not realize he says, that the main reason was that he didn't understand what war is. Simple as that. He did not realize what war is. Hilzoy explains it for him. (And I wrote in the comments: "It's actually kind of chilling, that there seems to be a whole generation that has grown up thinking that Vietnam was just an especially bad war and that the anti-Vietnam generation were 'scarred' by it and have an unreasoning resistance to making war because of it.")

"Where Is Your Detention Facility?" - Jane Smiley wonders just how sinister it is - or how sinister we think it is.

Feingold vs. Levin: Wisconsin's Russ Feingold says the Iraq bill his fellow Senate Democrats are working on is so weak that it "basically reads like a new authorization" of the war. "I am working to fix the new proposal drafted by several Senate Democrats," Feingold said in a statement this afternoon. "I will not vote for anything that the President could read as an authorization for continuing with a large military campaign in Iraq."

Antiwar Leader Tries To Light Fire Under Dems Over Iraq: "A leading figure of the antiwar movement is warning that Congressional Dems are at risk of badly botching the public relations battle over Iraq and is urging Congressional Dems to move more aggressively to confront the Republicans in the political showdown over ending the war."

04:10 GMT

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Here's the well-known double helix

Dean Baker says that Bill Gates joined the Coward's Corner to spout nonsense in Sunday's WaPo: "Mr. Gates's myth is that the strong intellectual property laws in the United States are a reason that the country enjoys a competitive edge in innovation over other countries. Apparently, the world's richest man does not get his logic subjected to scrutiny by the Post's editors." Also, does the WaPo know what "free trade" is?

My thanks to Chris in comments for alerting me to this from the BBC: "An MP investigating the death of Dr David Kelly says he is convinced the weapons scientist did not kill himself."

Eric Boehlert on The Washington Post's crush on right-wing bloggers. And Larry Beinhart offers A Window Into the Soul of the New York Times, where even Bob Herbert loses his moral compass when it comes to the Clintons.

This story about Barbara Walters and the Afghani women walking five paces behind their husbands was apparently going around the net a few weeks ago, but I missed it until a friend stopped by earlier this afternoon and told me about it. You can see the punchline coming, but still....

How Sanctions Work

21:30 GMT

Everything exists at once

From Cursor:

Among religious groups, Jewish Americans 'most strongly oppose' the Iraq war, according to a new Gallup poll, apparently leaving pro-war neoconservative Jews -- and Sen. Joseph Lieberman -- in "a minority of a minority."

Drawing out the implicit assumptions of a key paragraph in a Washington Post story about the "botched launch" of Rep. John Murtha's proposal to curb Iraq war funding, David Sirota finds Murtha's opponents fitting the "dictionary definition of extremists."

Dave Johnson has the anatomy of a smear: Last night, Al Gore got very favorable national press and worldwide television exposure. This afternoon, a group calling itself "The Tennessee Center For Policy Research" sent out a press release denouncing Vice President Gore for the size of his household electrical bills. Let's start right there. How did they get the utility bills? They also didn't have the courtesy to ask Vice President Gore about them (despite their hollow claim of being non-partisan.) And why would a "think tank" possibly care about what Al Gore spends on gas? Dave promises to follow the money for us. (Thanks to KS in comments for the tip.)

In Salon, Lindsay Beyerstein of Majikthise on "Why I refused to blog for Edwards: What Bob didn't seem to realize is that the right-wing blogosphere was going to try to get Edwards' bloggers fired no matter what. Unlike the liberal netroots, the right-wing blogosphere is capable of exactly one kind of collective political action. They call it "scalping" -- they pick a target and harass that person and his or her employer until the person either jumps or is pushed out of the public eye. Whoever blogged for Edwards was signing up for a lot of bad hair days, and it wasn't going to be me." Via American Microphone. (Also: McLuhan/Mailer '68 smackdown.)

So, why is it we're supposed to believe those bombs can't be made in Iraq, again?

The Gadflyer is shutting down, with it's various authors moving to other sites.

MadKane asks, "Why Does George Bush Hate Our Troops?"

19:00 GMT

Show us endless neon vistas

Terry Gilliam: What Brazil tells us about torture today, by Clive James in Slate. (Thanks to Wayne for the tip.)

I've heard John Perkins interviewed on the radio a number of times about his experiences and his book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, and I've always wished I could link to those interviews. My thanks to Rich for leaving a link in comments to this page at Information Clearing House where they've posted video of his 2005 speech to Veterans For Peace National Convention in Seattle.

Thom Hartmann from 2003, "How An Earlier "Patriot Act" Law Brought Down A President": "Jefferson beat Adams in the election of 1800 as a wave of voter revulsion over Adams' phony and self-serving "patriotism" swept over the nation (along with concerns about Adams' belligerent war rhetoric against the French). Today, even a minor appearance by Howard Dean or Dennis Kucinich - both on record for repealing much or all of the Patriot Act - draws a large crowd. There's a growing conviction across the nation that Dean - or possibly another non-DLC Democrat - can defeat Bush in 2004." What a pity we didn't have the chance to find out.

Bush is going to Kentucky to help Mitch McConnell campaign. That's getting to be the kiss of death, lately - I hope it works! (Also: No love letters for Chuck Hagel.) Oh, and President Oscar-Winner.

Do black candidates really perform worse on voting day than the polls say they will? No. (via)

Pledge for Gore.

14:17 GMT

Monday, 26 February 2007

Here's the latest carbon cycle

I just heard Rachel say on the radio that another thing we can blame Rumsfeld for is Aspartame. Doesn't that just figure?

Charles alerts us to a BBC piece on how Judge Dredd is all coming true.

The website for says he will be introducing an updated version of the Media Ownership Reform Act (MORA) soon, but since there's no date on it, I have no idea when that is (or was).

Boy, this privatized military thing is really catching on - Cernig says it's the story behind the story of how Blair is pulling out of Iraq.

Dick Cheney's recent interest in having Musharaf go after Al Qaeda seems awfully sudden, doesn't it? At least trying to catch real terrorists is an interesting change of direction for the administration....

Drug dependency "experts" on drugs. Also: Reviewing the anti-drug PSAs, and more evidence that drugs cause brain damage in people who don't take them.

Duncan Black says: "Make it partisan. The Republicans are. Let them have their war." I'm all for letting them take the credit.

Oh, look, a special brown-people prison in Indiana.

23:37 GMT

Hot flashes

At Daily Kos, smintheus reports that The White House website is getting scrubbed: "The WH website evidently has been busy scrubbing links to interviews and perhaps other public appearances by top officials. The operation has proceeded somewhat unevenly, though aggressively. Pretty clearly the WH wants to make it much harder to research the administration's past pronouncements, especially unscripted ones, and especially those pertaining to Iraq."

Lambert has much more on Sy Hersh's reporting and Cheney's comments and Cheney shadow government running covert operations against Iran through Saudis, with lots of links, including one to C&L's post of the CNN interview with Hersh. Frankly, I find all of this pretty terrifying.

At the Raw Story, Michael Roston says "Gov. auditor says fiscal outlook is 'spiraling out of control'" - and, as usual, the "problem" is with entitlements and not with the grotesque out-of-control spending of this insane administration.

FDL reports that a juror has been dismissed from the Libby jury after it was found that she had information about the case from the media, in violation of judge's instructions.

16:28 GMT

Gotta sing, gotta dance

Pam Spaulding calls our attention to a state-level Republican, Dan Zwonitzer, with real spine who did the right thing and helped kill an anti-gay marriage bill in Wyoming. Now he's getting hate mail for it (mostly from outside of his district, apparently). Maybe he should get some balancing thank-you mail. Wouldn't it be nice if some of our Democratic "leaders" had the guts to do this kind of thing?

Austin Cline on Journalism as Entertainment: Should News Inform or Just Entertain?

I guess I'm not the only one who hears Lieberman threaten to cross the aisle and thinks, "Please don't throw me in that briar patch!"

Alice Marshall reflects on being a lefty blogger.

Susie Madrak just found out that the administration is too unethical for John Negroponte. John Negroponte! Boy, is that ever setting the bar low. Also, More signs of that booming economy.

Making your PC green.

Bill Scher says Barack and Hillary should learn to play nice instead of feeding the right-wing noise machine. Talk about issues, people, not each other.

Watching the Supremes

Cory Doctorow says that Harvey Danger is making the new album available as a free download. According to the press release, "Its a bet that the resources of the Internet can make possible a new way for musicians to find their audience - and forge a meaningful artistic career built on support from cooperative, not adversarial, relationships." As you all may know, I'm a big believer in free music on the Internet to (a) replace the variety of free music we used to get on the radio and (b) take control away from the industry thieves who have suppressed musicians (and ripped them off) from the very beginning. Give them a listen, and if you like it, you can put something in their tip jar - and please remember that the way musicians make their real money is from live performance, so give them your support if they play locally.

A well-deserved spanking of the liberal blogosphere. Shame on us.

Bill Gibson presents The Early 21St Century In A Nutshell.

Steve Gilliard, get well and get back to blogging, dammit!

"So Muqtada al-Sadr, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and Ahmed Chalabi walk into a bar..."

Want to be an intern at The American Prospect?

13:03 GMT

Life is cheap and death is free

Madison Guy: "The real news in Hersh's story -- titled "The Redirection: Is the Administrations new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?" -- concerned a new and deeply unstable strategic realignment by the Bush administration, involving as it does ongoing covert action, the willingness to use force, the implementation of tactics developed secretly in the vice president's office, and a decisive tilt toward the Sunnis throughout the region, against the Shiites. " (More from Digby, Tristero, and The General.)

But Xymphora seems less sure that we are going to attack Iran at all, and invents a new term: "Azionist analysis is the study of the Middle East without considering the role of Zionism or Israel, and Chomsky is its champion."

Your privatized Ministry of Peace.

Defunding Vietnam, and the weak leadership of Hillary Clinton.

Juan Cole explains Britain's pull-out

Mark Adams: Welcome To Your Neo-Con Utopia.

02:31 GMT

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Imported chips and packets of cheese

The Sunday Times says that some "US generals 'will quit' if Bush orders Iran attack: SOME of Americas most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources." Wow.

Your Talking Dog interviews David Rose, who is "a contributing editor for Vanity Fair, and has contributed to The Guardian, The Observer and the BBC. He was one of the first journalists to have visited the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and is the author of Guantanamo: The War on Human Rights." You just want to scream when you read things like, "Louis Louk, then the chief surgeon, who left Guantanamo before the advent of the force-feeding regime. He made a comment about a detainee who wanted to kill himself being 'a spoiled brat'." (And, you know, it's really disgusting that people who get face-time with the media so seldom take advantage of it to talk about Guantanamo. A good speaker knows how to force these issues to the foreground.)

You know how guys complain that their girlfriends always bring up the same complaint over and over, and girls complain that their boyfriends keep doing the same crap over and over? Saying "sorry" doesn't cut it if you can't demonstrate that you know what you did wrong and won't do it again. So, tell me, did you vote for the Iraq resolution because you didn't know any better, or because you were planning to run for president? Neither of these are good reasons, and you can hold yourself at least partly responsible for this, too. (You can't say Al Gore didn't warn you.) Blue Texan on The problem with Hillary suggests she can't say that her vote was wrong because she knew what she was doing. BT has a point. (This doesn't mean there's anyone in the race, or even anyone I hope will be in the race, who doesn't owe me an apology for something. But right now, this is the big one.)

I just can't believe the name "Chalabi" has popped up again.

Skippy alerts us that Suzy Bright is taking bets on how long it will take Ted Haggard to backslide from his absolute heterosexuality. Also, Dick Morris, tax criminal.

The red carpet for Al Gore, Rock Star: "I'm old enough to know that a red carpet is just a rug."

17:20 GMT

More excuses from The Washington Past

I see Debbie Howell tried to field the many complaints about that awful article by GOP flack Victoria Toensing claiming that Fitzgerald was investigating a non-crime. The beginning is promising:

Was Valerie Plame covert or not? It's hard to tell from reading The Post.
It certainly is. But Howell's response does nothing to dispel the illusion that only the Intelligence Identities Protection Act is at issue. There are a number of laws and oaths that you can break by exposing a covert agent, but Toensing's article was built around the canard that the entire case rests on a law that was specifically written to protect journalists, not members of government who spill sensitive security intelligence to the press.

And this is not so promising:

Outlook's graphic of fake police mug shots of Fitzgerald, Wilson, Armitage and former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, which ran with the Toensing piece, also drew complaints of marking "a low standard of conduct in print," as one reader wrote.
That reader is right. Armitage, Fleischer, Libby, Cheney, and Rove were part of a conspiracy to undermine a US intelligence operative and her operation; why equate Patrick Fitzgerald and Joseph Wilson with any of them?

Associate Editor Robert Kaiser is shepherding Outlook until a new editor comes aboard. He commissioned the Toensing piece after hearing her complaints, and the graphic was his idea. Hardly anyone at The Post has more experience than Kaiser, a former managing editor.

"After 43 years at The Post, I know that many of our readers want us to do our jobs with the solemnity of monks and the propriety of Supreme Court justices, but I've never gotten the knack of either. I think good journalism should be provocative and fun. We wouldn't have treated ordinary citizens the way we depicted those four men [in the graphic], but those four are all grownups in the public arena."

Ah, the old Entertainment Dodge. You know people are privileged when they think it flies to say that it is more important that their jobs be fun than that they actually deliver the goods.
Outlook's purpose is to challenge conventional wisdom and make people think, said Kaiser; he called the piece a "huge success, not least because of the many comments to [the ombudsman] that it provoked," as well as comments on The Post's Web site. "But that's secondary to the piece's success on its own terms: It made people consider Fitzgerald's methods and his case in a fresh light," he said.
Yes, it was defamatory, and that's just what we needed to help us keep an open mind. And what a lovely pretense that The Washington Post Outlook section exists to "challenge conventional wisdom" rather than to be the conventional wisdom.
When the Libby trial is over, readers deserve a Post retrospective with a timeline, graphics and cast of characters, including Post journalists, to help put the case in perspective.
Before the verdict, and while the jury is deliberating, we will try to create the conventional wisdom that Libby is on trial for no reason at all and the White House in general has no case to answer, but after the verdict, we'll let someone tell you what was actually going on. (We promise!) Why, there's no bias involved in the fact that so far we have published only articles by GOP operatives.

As far as I know, The Washington Post made no attempt to get an article from Marcy Wheeler, Jane Hamsher, or Jeralyn Merritt, who are clearly expert on this case. That condemns the Post all by itself.

The brouhaha does not begin to compare with the scandal of the mistreatment of wounded soldiers at the "other" Walter Reed, laid bare last week by National Desk reporters Dana Priest and Anne Hull. The reporting was direct and verified. It did not rely on anonymous sources and backroom agreements and favors. Their reporting was journalism at its best.
There is, of course, no relationship between the fact that an administration that lied us into war and then exposed an undercover CIA operative in order to try to cover-up the lies and get revenge on Joseph Wilson for spilling the beans, and the fact that we have wounded troops returning from that war and being treated inadequately through veteran's services that have been hamstrung by the very same administration, which believes it is more important to give the richest families in America tax cuts than to fund the VA properly.

13:02 GMT

If you don't take her out tonight, she's gonna change her mind

Malizia by La Perla New Roses three quarter cup bra

Bra of the Week

Fred Clark wishes to reason about the fact that people who insist on being anti-gay based on their interpretation of Biblical text nevertheless have no problem with usury, even when excessive interest is charged (and even when the debt is not forgiven after seven years). Personally, I still think voting for the bankruptcy bill was unforgivable.

Among the interesting things Jamison Foser discusses in this week's "Media Matters" column, the unsurprising news that "Even John McCain's vices are virtues to his "base" -- political reporters and pundits."

Fresh on the heels of Dinesh "We have to be more repressive or Al Qaeda won't like us" D'Souza, we have Joseph A. "We have to ban abortion because of China" DAgostino.

"And that no man might buy or sell save he had the mark" - you really, really don't want "Real ID". (via)

Top Gear vs rednecks.

Violet, the Biomes Squid, is an assassin!

Buy a T-shirt. I want one. Actually, I'm still trying to decide between black, royal blue, navy, and charcoal. Maybe I want four.

"But the collateral damage is likely to extend to Democrats who have been trying to do business as usual in a time when business as usual has ceased to exist, still afraid to take meaningful action against a crazy, out-of-control policy." I just don't have faith in the other candidates. These people are all just running for second place on the ticket, as far as I'm concerned.

02:33 GMT

Saturday, 24 February 2007

In one eye

I'm not sure which definition of "leaving is losing" Atrios is using here, but for Bush, it's true no matter how you look at it. It isn't simply that if we leave we will not have won. It wouldn't matter if Iraq suddenly got its act together and magically turned itself into a self-sustaining peaceful and free democracy; Bush would still stay. Staying is winning, for him.

At No More Mister Nice Blog, Steve has a suggestion for college students who don't like the College Republicans' human-hunting game.

You know, I really think it's time that Democratic Party spokesbeings did some up-front criticism of the increasingly overt sexism of the Republican Party in the way they attack Democratic women. For that matter, there's a lot of that Calling-'em-a-sissy stuff aimed at the men, as well. Really, it's getting stinky over there in the Men's Room.

Suzy Menkes was so disturbed by the Dolce & Gabbana show she wrote about in Friday's IHT that I had to look the show up, and as I suspected, the thing that really seemed to worry her was nothing more than the fact that most of the items were belted with various waist-cinchers that had a little chain coming off them. A lot of these items wouldn't be half as kinky without those belts, but what really caught my eye is that the belt in the photo that appeared in the paper actually made the model look like she had a female figure.

And happy blogiversery to Eccentricity.

23:33 GMT

Lazy blogging

Glenn Greenwald reports as The "antiwar left" takes over America: "To enable their lazy and fictitious storyline -- "Democrats are in trouble due to shrill demands from their radical leftist fringe" -- Stolberg and Broder invent a complete fiction: namely, that the dreaded "antiwar left" is "pushing for conditions on war financing," and such measures "will alienat[e] moderate Democrats and Republicans." But to the extent there is such a thing as the "antiwar left," it is not in way attached to the specific tactic of imposing conditions on war funding."

MoJo Blog has a longer story on those teenagers who were convicted - "Based On Fantasized Future Events" of "child porn" for taking pictures of themselves having (legal) sex. Via The Dees Diversion, via TGW.

A lot of people don't realize that, as with Vietnam, our troops have plenty of military victories in Iraq. The trouble is, military victory isn't what wins the peace. (Also: Dispatch from Germany, Summer of 1939.)

At Needlenose, Rick Freedman disinfects D'Souza's Dishonorable Discourse

Shorter Jonah Goldberg and Shorter Max Boot at Busy, Busy, Busy.

Under Torch Wood (via)

Did the word "wreak" disappear from the English language while I wasn't looking? I keep hearing people on the radio saying something "wrecked havoc", which of course makes no sense.

17:55 GMT

It's later than I think

Congress promises to probe voter ID effects on turnout - Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) says the committee she chairs on election oversight will be looking into it.

Nick Dupree responds to wingnuts on universal healthcare: "Giving people the care they need is not socialism, it's Judaism. It's Christianity. It's Buddhism. It's Islam. It's mandated by nearly every religious tradition and moral code, going back to the Code of Hammurabi: "to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land... so that the strong should not harm the weak." There is separation of church and state, but there should never be separation of decency and state, especially in a democracy, where the sovereign IS the people, and the government an expression of their will." (Thanks to Cell Whitman for the tip.)

There's a good post at Boing Boing on a teen couple who photographed their own (legal) sex acts being prosecuted for child porn - and though they are "children" for the purposes of the law, they are being prosecuted as adults. Think about that for a minute. Thank the gods we're protecting them, eh? (Thanks to Theo for the tip.)

Mitt Romney's launch appearance at a museum that honors a notorious anti-semite was a coded message to the base, but for serious right-wingers, the negative reaction by someone "the liberal media" helped dispel any fears that he wasn't really one of them That's because, "Republican identity politics transcend such prosaic concerns as policy and political philosophy. It's all about whether you are one of them. If you can prove that then they could not care less what you once stood for. The only thing that will trip you up is being insufficiently hostile to liberals once they have validated your membership. That will get you kicked to the curb in a Midland Minute."

John Rogers at Kung Fu Monkey, who is actually funny, discusses the lack of humor in the right-wing attempt to match The Daily Show: "It's as if aliens tried to decipher humor from radiated cable television waves and then constructed a "comedy" show with a poor translation algorithm. It is un-joke. You could put it in a chamber with a knock-knock joke and use the resultant explosion to power a starship."

Obama - unpopular and unelectable.

I get all the bra links, and Joe Vecchio decided to find some just for me: Bra-hemian rhapsody, convertable bra, Japanese Wacoal commercial. And while I was looking at those, I found this unusual way of getting dressed.

02:30 GMT

Friday, 23 February 2007

News and notes

My thanks to Nell in comments for alerting me to Thomas Nephew's annotated transcription of Tony Snow's fabulous remarks: "Let me repeat that so it's completely clear: we call our empty feel-good posturing a "commitment," not a "mantra.""

Jimmy Carter endorses Al Gore for president in 2008: "ABC News' George Stephanopoulos Reports: In an exclusive interview with former President Jimmy Carter set to air on Sunday's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos", Carter lavished praise on "(his) favorite Democrat) former Vice President Al Gore." (And d'ya reckon the fact that every liberal in the country threw up on his shoes when he made his Social Security "reform" pitch explains Vilsack pulling his hat out of the ring?) (via)

Charles Kuffner and Miss Melissa on the latest move in Texas to try to discourage women from getting legal pharmaceuticals.

"Wilberforce and the Roots of Freedom" - a new film, Amazing Grace, "commemorates the bicentennial of the British ban on the slave trade (1807), an antislavery movement led by Wilberforce."

Mary at Pacific Views explains why the Blue Dogs deserve a kick.

Bob Somerby is always telling us that our press corps is hampered by the fact that they make too much money. It's true.

The Cunning Realist sees the light. (You wouldn't have liked him, anyway, hon.)

In Mother Jones, Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank say it's Iraq 101: The Iraq Effect - The War in Iraq and Its Impact on the War on Terrorism (via).

Expert: Padilla Unable to Stand Trial: "Alleged al-Qaida operative Jose Padilla suffers from intense stress and anxiety after being imprisoned in isolation for years and cannot adequately help his lawyers prepare for a criminal trial, a mental expert testified Thursday." (Thanks to Wayne in comments for the tip.)


Alternative keyboards (via)

23:50 GMT

On the landscape

You can't say you weren't told - by Atrios, then and now.

I thought the giveaway in this statement by Mitt Romney in 1994 was when he said, "Stop trying to scare people." This seems to be a standard response from Republicans who are caught lying about their policies - like the only reason you would tell people the truth about what your opponent is doing is because you want to "scare people in the voting booth." So I don't know what Romney really believes in, but if he's running as a Republican in this day and age, I have to say he's never had any principles other than his own political success.

Eyewitness report: Cheney goes Down Under, incites riot!!! "I've seen more violence in the Seafood Buffet line at the Sydney Casino."

Ezra: " According to The Politico, Joe Lieberman is suggesting that a Democratic vote against war funding would spur him to complete his transformation into a full-blown Republican and switch parties. This is somewhat less dangerous for Democrats than it appears, as Lieberman already votes how he'll vote and the Committee chairs and leadership positions are already locked in. Be quite a betrayal to his Connecticut constituents, however, who were clearly told that they'd get an independent Democrat rather than a picqued Republican."

WaPo: The Good, the bad, and the Funny - The Reality-Based community vs. Victoria Toensing.

Elayne Boosler &heart; Hillary. I found it all a bit incoherent, myself.

A public service announcement from George Takei on Tim Hardaway

East Coast Earthquakes Caused By Patriots Rolling In Their Graves.

Lady Liberty spanks Bush.

15:43 GMT

Some links

Why shouldn't we call them the Retaliban Party when so many of them seem to be calling for Sharia law? They sure seem to want the terrorists to win....

From Rachel:

Two off the Making Light sidebar:

Jon Swift discovers the world at Conservapedia.

01:41 GMT

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Taking notes

Michael Medved comes out. Yes, Michael, you fantasize about having sex with men because you're gay.

Katha Pollitt says "Your Blog Will Come Back to Haunt You."

No one could have predicted that a poll showing massive support for the occupation would be bogus.

"Dear Person of Faith..." And NPR has developed a strange use of the term "extremists".

Thom Hartmann profiled in The Oregonian

Would Pace attack Iran if Bush ordered it?

The Poor Man on Paglia's Prolix bollix.

A Bullworth Democrat

Hard work deserves your support.

16:30 GMT

Moral clarity

Amanda and Digby and Matt Taibbi and I all want you to pay attention to something that the news media obviously doesn't want you to pay attention to:

On the same day that Britney was shaving her head, a guy I know who works in the office of Senator Bernie Sanders sent me an email. He was trying very hard to get news organizations interested in some research his office had done about George Bush's proposed 2008 budget, which was unveiled two weeks ago and received relatively little press, mainly because of the controversy over the Iraq war resolution. All the same, the Bush budget is an amazing document. It would be hard to imagine a document that more clearly articulates the priorities of our current political elite.

Sanders's office came up with some interesting numbers here. If the Estate Tax were to be repealed completely, the estimated savings to just one family -- the Walton family, the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune -- would be about $32.7 billion dollars over the next ten years.

The proposed reductions to Medicaid over the same time frame? $28 billion.

And, of course, it's for other charity cases - like the Mars (candy) family, the Cox (cable TV) family, Ernest Gallo's family, etc. - that our troops have to go without vital equipment and proper medical treatment, and education and other services are being cut.
And so on and so on. Sanders additionally pointed out that the family of former Exxon/Mobil CEO Lee Raymond, who received a $400 million retirement package, would receive about $164 million in tax breaks.

Compare that to the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which Bush proposes be completely eliminated, at a savings of $108 million over ten years. The program sent one bag of groceries per month to 480,000 seniors, mothers and newborn children.

That's your "compassionate conservatism" right there. And yes, it's immoral. You could always write to the media and ask why they don't care. Oh, and your reps, of course - as Digby says, this one is easy.

15:17 GMT

News, media, and stuff

Chris in comments alerts me to an article in The Salt Lake Tribune saying that Timothy McVeigh's convicted co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, has provided an affidavit claiming that McVeigh had high-level help with his bomb-making: "Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols says a high-ranking FBI official "apparently" was directing Timothy McVeigh in the plot to blow up a government building and might have changed the original target of the attack, according to a new affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Utah. ... In addition, Nichols says McVeigh must have had help building the bomb. The device he and McVeigh built the day before the bombing did not resemble the one that ultimately was used, Nichols says, and "displayed a level of expertise and sophistication" that neither man had." Ah, don't you wish we could hear McVeigh's response?

Marcy Wheeler's account of the closing arguments in the Libby trial is a study of alpha male dominance plays. But Jeralyn thinks the prosecution may not have proved Libby lied beyond a reasonable doubt. I'm not so sure about that - Libby is claiming he forgot he knew that Plame was in the CIA after he had discussed it with several people. Sounds to me like Libby made their case for them.

Mary at The Left Coaster makes the point that Hillary Clinton's rhetoric with regard to Iran is worrying in a number of ways, particularly when she uses terminology that is more commonly a part of the Israel discourse, rather than part of American foreign policy language. Not to mention that "No options are off the table" thing. And paradox thinks a lot of people are headed over a cliff.

Glenn Greenwald has a look at the fantastic job our press corps has been doing - and particularly the utterly fantastic Richard Wolffe.

Definitely not Vilsack - these clever right-wing ways to screw up Social Security should have no place in the Democratic Party.

Monchie has fun with an exciting new poll that shows that the Iraq adventure is wildly popular.

03:45 GMT

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

A way of life

Letter to Eric Alterman from Michaelm:

Sen. McCain just came out for the repeal of Roe v. Wade. I seem to remember McCain answering a question during the 2000 campaign concerning his reaction if his daughter were to want an abortion; he said that it would be her decision. This is of course the standard Republican position on abortion that it should be legal only in case of rape, incest and my family. His reply (much like Cheney's policy on gay couples raising children) shows him to be a good father, a sanctimonious hypocrite and a craven political animal.

Do you have any memory of this episode? I am sure that if a Democrat were to make such a revision in policy, charges of 'flip/flop' would ring out on the airwaves.

It's also always been the way of aristocrats - whoring, abortions, laziness and other decadent privileges are for Our Betters, but not for us.

23:44 GMT

Operation Yellow Elephant recruitment

Representative Carol Shea Porter (D-NH) joins the recruitment drive when the state GOP chair attacked her vote against escalation:

If Fergus Cullen has the courage of his convictions, he should go enlist, because they're having trouble meeting their quota. He's young, he's single and he's healthy. If he needs to know where the recruiters are, call me."
Sign up, Fergus!

18:25 GMT

Things to read

A lesson in stifling violent extremism: "Meanwhile, foreign-sponsored Wahhabi Muslim extremist groups appeared on the scene, urging violent retaliation. Most anywhere else in the world, this would have been the trigger for a major ethnoreligious war. But thanks to the Tatars' locally developed democracy, their leadership was able to avert full-scale hostilities. ... Fostering local participatory movements isn't just about keeping democracy healthy. In the global war on terror, it's one of the best defenses against transnational fundamentalism."

The Significance Of Frank Gaffney - Someone donates a lot of money to make sure that people like Frank Gaffney are available to spread right-wing lies in the media. Jonathan Schwarz reports.

The other day, John Aravosis said Hillary has written-off opponents of the invasion/occupation, and like Bush, she is pursuing a strategy of "wrong but firm". Nevertheless, he didn't appear to think all hope is lost, and praised her statement that if redeployment doesn't start soon, "Congress will revoke authorization for this war." But yesterday, he was running out of patience with her increasingly Bush/Cheney-like rhetoric, and the pretence that somehow she has a special excuse for her wrong vote on the Iraq resolution because she was in New York on 9/11. Doesn't she get that we are trying to elect people who are capable of making good decisions in a crisis? A lot of people who were also in New York on 9/11 saw through the lies; why didn't she? Also, Louise Slaughter is pissed about conditions at Walter Reed and the treatment of vets. (And via Americablog, The miraculous recovery of ABC's Bob Woodruff.

Madison Guy celebrates the 82nd birthday of Eustace Tilley and the magazine that gave us Sy Hersh, and, most recently, that Jane Mayer article about the effect of 24 on real-life torture - along with a lot of great cartoons. And chiasmus. And lots of links.

13:53 GMT

All the news in bits

Yes, of course it does - that's what it's for: "Voter identification requirements designed to combat fraud can reduce turnout, particularly among minorities, a new study shows." No, silly, they are not "designed to combat fraud", they designed to disenfranchise people. (via)

I'm totally in favor of all that "innocent until proven guilty" stuff - but then, I'm a liberal. Republicans, who normally seem awfully quick to deprive people of all rights the minute they are associated with "the terrorists", seem to suddenly believe in "innocent until proven guilty" all over again when it comes to GOP donors.

The Republican Congressman who pushed the Pelosi plane story admits he didn't know and didn't care whether it was true, because, "He calls the Pelosi plane story, whatever its legitimacy, "the first break [Republicans] have had from the media in driving our message since before the Mark Foley story broke." And these days, as chairman of the House Republican conference committee, it is in Putnam's congressional job description to care intensely about that." "Our message"? Their message is, "Nancy Pelosi asked for a bigger plane"? Because they've got nothing else.

Quiddity looked at the responses in a comment thread at the libertarian Reason responding to the question of who was the worst president, and pretty much concludes that libertarians don't know who their friends are.

Riverbend with a ghastly story, and what we've lost in Iraq. She didn't mention our souls.

Roy Edroso says Professor Instahack has a new catchphrase. And (via) someone in the mainstream press finally noticed that Reynolds is an extremist.

Tony Blair to join the Coalition of the Leaving, Dem Senators introducing legislation and writing letters about care for wounded vets, and the celebrity press corps says something to the effect of "It's not our job to do our job."

I am probably among the very last to mention the revelation about what Bush told Ariel Sharon about his plans for Osama, but I'd really hate for any Sideshow reader who doesn't read other blogs to miss this important bit of foreign policy: "I will screw him in the ass!"

Attaturk does some Cheney photoblogging.

03:20 GMT

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Midnight snack

Fat Tuesday, "DANCE LIKE YOU'VE NEVER DANCED BEFORE!!!" with Oyster at Your Right Hand Thief. Or not.

While Democrats Kept Their Powder Dry, a lot of bad things went down.

Time Considered as a Helix of Foreign Policy Failures by Jim Henley.

Atrios has been doing some great stuff on the religion issue in the last couple of days. In "The Sincerity Privilege" he says something akin to what I was trying to articulate in "Religion thing" - that it just doesn't matter whether it's your religious belief, sincerely held - someone else's beliefs may be just as sincerely held, and have just as much authority.

There has got to be a way to impeach, defrock, and run out of town on a rail judges who would declare that Habeas does not apply to Guantánamo detainees.

Jeralyn has a guest post up at Hillary Clinton's blog. (She says she hasn't picked a candidate yet, but she's all in favor of Hillary actually running.)

I've been meaning to mention that Joe Conason has a new book, It Can Happen Here. I haven't read it yet, but there's an excerpt in Salon: "The question that we face in the era of terror alerts, religious fundamentalism, and endless warfare is whether we are still the brave nation preserved and rebuilt by the generation of Sinclair Lewis -- or whether our courage, and our luck, have finally run out."


Interview with the Klan

23:57 GMT

Watching the defectives

Today's mail from Richard Viguerie says:

Who do conservatives blame for the GOP's loss of the House and the Senate in 2006?

Go to [link] and check out the poll in the center of the home page. The results may surprise you.

The conservatives' number one culprit so far: "Conservative leaders who kept silent when the GOP became the party of Big Government." That's more than the number who blame President Bush-something for those conservative "leaders" to ponder when they send out their next fundraising letter.

How many conservatives blame the neocons? How many blame the mainstream media? Or Karl Rove? You will probably be surprised at some of the results-we are-so check out the full Bad Guys List at [link].

So, basically, conservatives are mad at conservative politicians for doing exactly what conservative philosophy demands.

Going to the link, I also see there's an (obviously must-read!) article linked called "Liberal emotion vs. Conservative logic", with this precis:

Columnist John Hawkins boils it down - liberals go with their hearts and do things because it 'feels good,' and conservatives use their heads and take policy stances that make sense. When it comes to acting on the most important issues of our times, which would you rather support?
I've seen this "argument" before, and I wish I could just laugh at people who think that killing people solves problems (whether war or the death penalty) and yet don't believe they argue from emotion. What was all the cheering for a military response after 9/11 about - and all the derision for the idea of treating terrorism as crime - if not the simple, childish emotion of "We'll show 'em!"? An extra 30 seconds of thought might have led them to remember that if you start trying to smack people around, they usually want to deck you right back. But the desire to hit something just made bombing Kabul and Baghdad feel good, despite the obvious drawbacks.

And then, though just about everyone agrees that Hitler made a big mistake when he opened up an additional front in Russia, these same people never got it that opening up a second front in Iraq was a stupid idea, and now are even cheering the idea of opening another front in Iran - the thought of just killing Muslims until there isn't anyone left to annoy us - well, that just plain feels good to the frustrated little keyboard soldiers.

You can find this kind of emotionalism in pretty much the whole of the conservative "philosophy". The death penalty? Revenge feels good. Being around uppity women feels bad, so making laws that curtail women's freedom feels good. There seems to be little that conservatives love more than being able to rub people's faces in the mud when others don't do what they want. Their attitude toward taxes? "Mine! Mine! Mine!" And never mind that you have to pay taxes to get a civilized society, as any reasoning adult understands. Wanting to believe that blacks were inferior, they insisted that policies that helped poor black kids get an education would fail, and were failing, even as they succeeded; so they sabotaged those policies, and then declared themselves prescient. Wanting to believe that poverty is a result of personal failure, they insisted that Social Security would not work, and have persisted in saying it has failed despite its obvious decades'-long success. They lie about the effects of Great Society and New Deal programs in order to make them sound like "failures". They destroy those programs and then say, "See? Those liberal programs failed." And because conservatives wish to believe it, they do, despite the evidence - because it feels good.

Modern "conservatism" was born out of fear, not reason. The "great" conservative thinkers of the modern era were terrified when teenagers in the 1960s let their hair get unruly and used vulgar language (in the streets, I remind you - not on the Senate floor or even on television). And black guys were asserting their right to defend themselves against violence. (With guns!)

Conservatives can complain all they want to about how bad things have become because of "liberals" even while simultaneously bragging that liberalism is out of power and the country has become more conservative. Well, chums, how emotionalist do you have to be to ignore the fact that things have gotten so much worse while conservatives were running things?

Conservatism is a reaction to uppity women and black folk, girls who turned them down for a date in college, people who could beat them in an argument because they studied and knew what they were talking about, and having to actually think about whether the language they used toward people who weren't white or male might generate an insulted reaction.

It's nothing but emotionalism that allows conservatives now to decry the excesses of conservative leadership that did precisely what they said they were going to do - pursue conservative policies - and pretend they have been "betrayed". They weren't betrayed. That big government expansion, the graft and corruption, the successive failures in every direction - these were all the result of conservative policies, not a betrayal of them. But, since it feels bad to admit that they were wrong, they pretend it must have been caused by something else.

Whatever generated all their mindless macho posturing for the last six years, it certainly wasn't logic.

Meanwhile, I see no need for liberals to apologize for feeling better about trying to improve life for everyone than we do about killing and destroying. This isn't about whether liberals are just doing what "feels good", it's about the fact that some people think being creative and constructive and living in a civilized society feels good, and conservatives think being greedy, murderous, and vengeful feels better.

13:12 GMT

Assorted fruit and nuts

I think people should pay attention to the fact that George Bush is currently embarked on what appears to be the world's largest ever building project - that giant US embassy compound. I think we need to talk about it because I think it tells you what "victory" is: permanent US military presence in Iraq. So, you see, it is just a lie to say the troops can leave when we win, since winning is staying.

Jeralyn Merritt says Victoria Toensing provided The Worst Argument for Libby's Acquittal.

So, is there some reason why the HPV vaccine doesn't work on boys? Or is it just that the makers thought it would be more advantageous to market it only for girls?

Thank Dog the government is protecting the right of companies to make lunch boxes that you can use to stash kryptonite so it won't hurt Superman. That'd be the lead. Also: Newt Gingrich: The Obi-won Kenobi of a Party wanting to lie, cheat and hate women better and Random attack on Catholicism II.

Dave Langford says the Checkpoint archive has been completed.

Randy Newman - A Few Words in Defense of Our Country

The Biomes Squid is really smart.

The Exorcist in Five Seconds

01:43 GMT

Monday, 19 February 2007

Happy New Year (of the Pig)

Thomas Nephew goes after the latest GOP smear of Murtha after he said he wants to require troops to be properly in readiness before being returned to Iraq. The Washington Post apparently, doesn't think having our troops properly rested and ready is such a great idea.

Via Atrios, Whiskey Fire has the awesome news that Richard Mellon Scaife and Christopher Ruddy have decided that "Clinton wasn't such a bad president" and therefore they don't want to spend any money attacking Hillary this time around. You see, they've had "a rethinking". *sigh* Anyway, the NYT says that a lot of even the worst of the original Clinton-haters just have trouble these days seeing Hillary as The Big Bad.

Maybe the real reason that the Bush administration has done so little to hurt Islamists in Afghanistan is that they are big GOP campaign contributors.

Blogging populism and the political establishment - Amanda Marcotte, defender of "the vulgar masses", explains what "Christofascist" means, at TPM Cafe.

Atrios quotes an a impassioned response from Shakespeare's Sister to the article on conditions at Walter Reed, and then he says, "Maybe this is one of those moral issues where the souls and consciences of the party could step up." Indeed.

Steve Clemons introduces us to another secret GOP master we've never heard of, Richard Hohlt - but more importantly, he posted some DC snow pictures that made me totally, totally homesick.

Those pseuds at Politico referred to the Democratic plan to cut funding for escalation as a "slow bleed" strategy, and the Republicans have grabbed it and claimed that it's the Democrats who call it that. The NYT has allowed them to do that in its pages without noting that it's a lie. This is a lot like the way the Republican "nuclear option" to ignore Senate rules to bypass a filibuster became twisted to the point where it was a Democratic term applied to, well, um, I think it was being applied to not violating Senate rules, but simply having a filibuster. (And we're not hearing much about the evils of filibusters now that Republicans are back to using it full-time.)

So the Libby team actually lied to the judge about whether Libby would testify, in order to get a ruling allowing some material that would otherwise not have been admissible. Now the judge has learned about the Republican Rules. (via) (I'm seriously considering referring to them as "Republans". It sticks in my craw that they still want to pretend they are republicans. They don't believe in the US as a republic, they really don't.)

18:02 GMT

The army we have

Not to be missed, one of the best bits of political theater ever when Glenn Greenwald reports on how General William Odom handed right-wing shill Hugh Hewitt's ass to him in an interview on Hewitt's own home ground. I particularly enjoyed the little bit of Operation Yellow Elephant* recruiting - I wish everyone would make this point to every single chickenhawk who rattles on in public about how much they "support" the troops. I also enjoyed the Maru-ized digest version, which provides a full translation for the wimpy Democratic triangulators who just don't know how it's done. It's all a remarkably gratifying read. Greenwald says:

In any event, the entire Odom interview (and his Op-Ed) ought to be read by every Democratic consultant and anti-war politician. So many war opponents and Bush critics feel compelled to express their opposition defensively and apologetically. It is common to hear them -- especially political figures -- prefacing their war opposition by bending over backwards to assure everyone that they are patriots, that they care about the troops, that they want to protect America, too -- as though those matters are legitimately in doubt.
It's true, and this actually goes to the morality and values issue: You don't get all apologetic and mealy-mouthed about this kind of thing if you mean it. Blunt talk is exactly what's called for, and Odom delivers.

Amygdala: "But one point I have to get off my chest is my irritation at the way endless obfuscation, and outright lies, are gushing forth from supporters of the war in Iraq, about what Congress can and can't do about military affairs and actions."

I know I already linked to one post about it, but read Taylor Marsh on the administration's outrageous treatment of our wounded troops - and while you're at it, you might want to send your congratulations to the WaPo for Dana Priest and Anne Hull's article, which should get a Pulitzer.

Texas Monthly asked a bunch of people about the Bush Legacy, and what struck me reading this post about it was how naive people who should know better still are about how to judge Bush's actions in office - they just can't stop themselves from making Bush sound better than he ever was. Does Paul Begala really believe that Bush's tax cuts had benefits? What a dork. Via The Agonist, via Blogging Out Loud.

Toast at TwoGlasses is displeased with the fact that the term "Swift-boating" is now being used as a label for any old smear, when he thinks it means something more.

14:09 GMT

Late news and commentary

At No Quarter, Larry Johnson debunks the right-wing lies again - the ones Victoria Toensing just smeared all over The Washington Post - and Brent Budowsky argues that Toensing's article was an attempt at getting to the jury with an argument for jury nullification. At FDL, Pachacutec wonders why the Post published it.

The Baltimore Sun's Robert Koulish says, "Conservatives Waging War on Nonprofits: After 9/11, confrontational strategies against nonconservatives took an unprecedented turn with funding cuts, financial audits and National Security Agency surveillance of political opponents. Suddenly, policy wonks, social workers and civil litigators were subject to investigation as if they were suspected terrorists."

The NYT says, "Italy Indicts 26 Americans in C.I.A. Abduction Case: An Italian judge today ordered the first trial involving the American program of kidnapping terror suspects on foreign soil, indicting 26 Americans, most of them C.I.A. agents, but also Italys former top spy."

The BBC says "CIA flights controversy here to stay: Although the parliament's committee investigating the flights, and reports of secret CIA prisons, is now being wound up, other investigations are under way which will ensure the issue stays in the news."

Oliver Willis says Hillary is blowing it. Well, he's right.

Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare's Sister on "My life as a rightwing target" in The Guardian. Via Kathryn Cramer.

Galt's Gulch: "I've thought for some time that Iraq as it stands now is a perfect Libertarian/Objectivist paradise: everyone's armed to the teeth, and there's no government to speak of. It's a wonder the entire 101 Keyboarders don't all just move there en masse."

I am amazed to learn that Reds was only released on DVD last year. Hmph!

Gollum & Smeagol Sing Barry White (via)

02:49 GMT

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Dropping breadcrumbs

John at Blogenlust picks up a point from James Surowiecki: "The persistence of the risk premium means that Ahmadinejad, whatever his religious or nationalist inspiration, has an economic incentive to say confrontational things that spook the oil market. But the effect of his pronouncements is limited, because traders know that self-interest is likely to keep Iran from doing anything that would cut off the supply of oil. What really keeps the risk premium high is the American penchant for public responses to Irans provocations. So cooling down the martial rhetoric - even if we plan to take military action eventually - would likely bring oil prices down for a time, making Iran weaker." (Do you think the media knows this?)

Do you honestly think that if a Democratic administration had handled our money this way, Republicans would hesitate to call it stealing? Neither do I. (Also via Julia, Cooking 4 the Week - looks real good, but hold the cilantro, please, it tastes like poison. And Molly Ivins' 1991 article on Camille Paglia.)

Superman Versus the KKK: "The Superman radio show may be seen as trivial today. But it had a big impact on politics in the southern USA in the 1940s. It can be safely said [that] Stetson Kennedy (and Superman) helped to bring the KKK down a notch." (via)

I've been reading the thread on Teresa's post about how an annoying sf fan has now become a right-wing pundit, mainly because I have always been annoyed by his fake Welsh name and am gratified to know that he is just as much of a putz as I thought, but in comments Bob Oldendorf calls my attention to something I missed at the time: "Back in the 1970s when the world was young, and before RW pundits turned so toxic, George F. Will had a column in Newsweek condescendingly explaining what awful, pernicious, left-wing claptrap the movie The China Syndrome was; the movie was leftist garbage, because the Nuclear Industry Was In Fact Utterly Safe And Everything Was Best Left In The Wise Hands Of Our Corporate Masters. This column was on the newsstands the morning of the Three Mile Island accident." Never did understand how that guy escaped from the sports pages.

Norbizness examines Supporting the troops, compassionate conservative style, and it isn't funny. (I can remember being so young and naive once that I thought the Republicans could never again treat the troops as badly as they did after Vietnam. Boy, was I ever wrong.) And (via), Mr. Ratzinger of the GOP.

Affirmative Action And The Three Fallacies Its Enemies Use To Fight It.

Taylor Marsh: "Maneuvers. When the Senate should be raising the Capitol roof. Caution is not the better part of courage. Ask the Dixie Chicks."

21:34 GMT

And there went the morning

Chantelle Africa Sexy T-shirt bra

Bra of the Week

Can someone please explain to me why Victoria Toensing is claiming in The Washington Post that Valerie Plame was not a covert agent? Her column this morning is some kind of indictment against Patrick Fitzgerald for holding an investigation for which there was no basis. Why doesn't she know that Valerie Plame actually was a covert agent? Why does she imagine there is no crime at the bottom of all this? Who told her to say that? I charge Toensing with fraud.

Another country heard from: Genocide is spreading, and now it's in Chad. (Also: When conservatives aren't funny - this is not the answer to The Daily Show, except that, in a way, it is. We are, after all, talking about the Bizarro world.)

Jamison Foser: "You constantly hear about the Clintons' personal lives on television; you read about it in the newspaper. John McCain doesn't get the same treatment; nor does George Bush or Rudy Giuliani. Intrusive, irrelevant tabloid-style coverage of candidates is wrong. Intrusive, irrelevant tabloid-style coverage of some candidates, while others are afforded an appropriate zone of privacy is even worse. ... In Matthews' case, the double standard is even more stark: He is obsessing over the infidelities of Hillary Clinton's spouse, while ignoring Rudy Giuliani's own infidelities."

Who wants special privileges? Creationists do - they think their material should be included in peer-reviewed journals even though it can't even get close to passing peer review. Same way they think people who haven't even a passing relationship to scholarship should be university professors.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden on having his faith represented in bad faith.

Robert Stein, editor, publisher, media critic, journalism teacher, former Chairman of the American Society of Magazine Editors, and author of Media Power: Who Is Shaping Your Picture of the World?, has a blog, Connecting.the.Dots, and he blogs like someone who hasn't spent the last six years sneering at bloggers and liberals and what-have-you. He just started, and his posts tend to be a comfortable length for blog posts (not too short and obscure, not too long), so it won't take you long to read his entire archive. I liked the line, "George Bush and Dick Cheney have made elder statesmen out of Oliver North and John Dean." And "The Romney Legacy" gave us all a chuckle here in the fabulous Sideshow offices. (via)

Is Rudy Giuliana weird?

"Dear Ann, In many important respects, Triumph of the Will and Star Wars are not the same movie."

Charlie says that Idiot Toys is "the best gadget-oriented blog EVAH!!!

14:49 GMT


Julie O. defends Hillary from Chris Matthews:

Besides my very clear memories of Bush repeatedly saying that war was a last resort and that he hadn't made up his mind to invade Iraq, I thought the whole point of the controversy surrounding the Downing Street Memo was that it confirmed what liberals had been saying about Bush -- that he had planned, from day one, to go to war.

Perhaps Matthews, who constantly rewrites his own history, doesn't remember the Downing Street Memo controversy because he didn't talk about it ... except to help Condoleezza Rice come up with a lie to escape the accusation that Bush was fixing intelligence to fit his pre-determined agenda. Which she had to know was a lie, considering (as the incomparable Bob Somerby's The Daily Howler reminded me) that in July of 2002 she had told the State Department's director of policy planning, Richard N. Haass, that discussions of the pros and cons of invading Iraq were moot because the President had already made his decision.

Of course, people who recognized early that Bush was lying were dismissed as "Bush-haters" who could only doubt the word of the president of the United States because they were pathological. (Unlike the Washington press corps itself, who, like the right-wing fringe, believed from even before Day One of the Clinton administration that every single word any one of them - even Al Gore! - said was a complete lie. But that wasn't pathological. No, no, it was only pathological to suspect that someone who had spent his entire campaign blatantly lying about his own policies might also be lying when he said obviously untrue things about the threat from Iraq.)

Don't you long for the day when one of Chris Matthews' guests asks him why - when he did oppose the invasion and said so whenever he spoke in public off camera - he has spent his on-air time disparaging those who opposed the invasion?

It's fair enough criticizing Clinton for having gone along with the fiction that George Walker Bush might have been telling the truth when he claimed he would adhere to the requirements of the Iraq resolution, but it's not as if he was praising the people who weren't fooled and voted against it. How often did he have Barbara Lee on his show to talk about why she refused to vote for it? How much praise did he give to Al Gore for his prescient speech explaining why we should not invade Iraq?

You'd almost think Chris Matthews had some moral authority, the way he talks about Hillary Clinton. But this is the same Chris Matthews who actively helped Bush and the Republicans promote an unjust, illegal war that he didn't even believe in. It's amazing that people don't throw up on his shoes.

13:11 GMT

And the hits just keep on comin'

Digby directs our attention to Queequeg's post providing some things that Lincoln really did say, like this: "Our safety, our liberty, depends upon preserving the Constitution of the United States as our fathers made it inviolate. The people of the United States are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution." And while I was there, I noticed Queequeg is also quoting Sun Tzu's opinion that the GOP has given Osama his victory.

Digby also mentions Barbara Lee's resolution disavowing the doctrine of preemption and notes that it had 23 co-sponsors in 2003 when she first introduced it, 15 in 2005, and right now only Maxine Waters has signed on. Tell your rep to get on board.

It's the Republicans' occupation. The Republicans didn't even want to talk about it. Nine voted with the Democrats (including McCain), while the rest filibustered, giving us 56-34. And, as NTodd notes, "And of course Lieberman (Selfish Bastard - CT) voted no. He won't campaign or bowl on Shabbos, but hell if he won't give Bush a blow job."

Also via Atrios, and by way of Matt - It is not often that I read a blog post and thread that has me laughing so much it brings tears to my eyes, but this one sure did. I realize conservatives have a problem with sex, but some metaphors really do tell you just how bad the wedding night must have been for them. Anyway, hilarity ensues....

How the nice, rational, civil Bush-supporters respond to non-binding resolutions.

Rudy Giuliani is a prima donna. (Also: The Party of Race.)

Galbraith is right, I should have read the article first. I got distracted. Shame on me.

01:38 GMT

Saturday, 17 February 2007

The Invisible Fist

"Color me unsatisfied," says Kevin Drum after reading a disappointing article from Jamie Galbraith that essentially shrugs off the problems with "free trade". Honestly, you'd think the last 26 years hadn't happened, let alone the last six years. Kevin sounds dubious when he asks whether the whole free trade debate has been a tempest in a teapot, but he doesn't fight very hard, either. His commenters, on the other hand, have some important things to say.

For example, bellumregio:

Free trade has never been a tempest in a teapot. Since its first full-throated articulation in 19th century Britain it has always pitted the interests of workers against distributors (who argued then, as now, that cheaper goods would make society more equitable). The Spitalfield Weavers (cottage industry weavers of fancy cloth, usually silk) won legislation that guaranteed them a minimum piece price and protected the British market from overseas competition after a series of protests in the late 18th century. This is interesting because it mirrors the situation today. It was the high volume wholesalers (like Wal-Mart) who wanted to expand their markets and their profit that created an alliance with the new adherents of Richardo and Smith in Parliament. The Acts were eventually repealed and the weavers were put out on the breadline. In one sense the repeal in 1824 of the acts that protected the weavers was the beginning of a long process of free trade and domestic deindustrialization in the UK. What begin with cottage industries and mercantilism eventually ends with off-shoring of all British manufacturing and a jobless underclass.

Then, as now, the advocates for free trade articulated what was essentially a class struggle or market interests as the triumph of individual rights against any notion of collective rights. Then, as now, it was pointed out that the rights and concerns of those that work should be considered just as much as the rights and concerns of those that own property and control distribution. Then, as now, the free traders cast inequality (think of the inhumane conditions of Charles Dicken's England) as Divine Providence and equated the market with Nature. It was also assumed that the interests of the nation were more tied to interests of the wealthy and powerful wholesalers than to the weavers. Global free trade is just a continuation of the verbatim arguments that begin in industrial Manchester nearly 200 years ago.

The big concern in the United States seems to be that dangerous protectionism will be the result of growing inequality. This is very interesting because it assumes social democracy is not a viable option when mitigating the predictable effects of free trade.

And, of course, it assumes that the interests of the people don't really matter, as long as the aristocracy is comfortable. But to me, a country where there are a lot of poor people is a poor country, no matter how rich the wealthy are. yet our economists apparently think that the fact that most of the country's wealth is in the hands of a few people doesn't matter; if the total of that wealth is greater than the total of wealth in other countries, that's a "rich" country. Or if the "average" is higher, it's a "rich" country, though nearly everyone in it is starving.

From lord_mike:

"What NAFTA and other free trade agreements have done for us is to facilitate the importation foreign goods. These goods have helped keep inflation low. They have also meant better lives for all Americans. We can buy cheaper, better products. Free trade is one reason so many Americans are able to enjoy large-screen TVs, computers, TIVOs, MP3 players, wide variety of affordable clothing, etc."

Too bad we can't import health care, child care, college tuition, housing, etc. these are the items that cost Americans so much money, and free trade isn't going to do squat for that. In fact, it makes them more expensive, since our incomes have dropped as a result of free trade.

I mean it's great that I can stop over to the wally-mart and pick up a TV for $50, but man doesn't live on goods alone. Wally mart ain't gonna help me when I need to see a dentist. Wally mart ain't going to sell me cheap real estate. You can't import these things form slave nations like China.

So, the question is, is it good enough to keep our wages low and have lots of crap from China but no access to services or domestically controlled products (like prescription drugs), or is it better to have greater income, and pay a little more for crap from china, but less on everything else.

I think the latter makes much more sense.

I like having my nice little tech toys, it's true, but the fact is that if I have to make the choice between cheap toys or having a decent job, I think I'll take having a job and then pay a little more for my toys or else learn to live without, say, wireless headphones. I used to be saving up for an IBM PC - back when that meant paying $3,000 for one. The thing is, that was a reasonable thing to do because I could save $3,000, and was about to buy the computer just moments before Alan Sugar saved me a whole bunch of money by releasing the Amstrad PC so cheaply that I could get it and a printer with it for less than a grand. But I wonder: If I were living in America right now, could I still afford to think in terms of saving $3,000 for something I didn't absolutely have to have? I'm not too sure about that.

You can understand why the right-wing spends lots of time denigrating the Reverend Jesse Jackson as some kind of clown - he is one of very few people in public life who has been pointing out what a mistake America has made over the last couple of decades, having sold off most of the companies that actually made things. Or, as Unholy Moses put it:

... on building stronger world markets for our exports ... --Jamie Galbraith, on a progressive trade policy
Um ... what, exactly, are we to export when we, you know, don't actually make anything any more?
Extradite Rumsfeld helps out:
Don't worry.

In very short order, The Invisible Hand will resolve this trade imbalance: Bankrupt Americans will no longer be able to afford even cheap Chinese goods. Trade imbalance solved! Yay for the Invisible Hand!

A bit more detail comes from brian:
Free Trade has:

1) Gutted the manufacturing base, costing the American people 3 million manufacturing jobs and destroying entire towns.

2) Created a demand for increased government spending, as service jobs replacing manufacturing jobs do not nearly pay as much.

3) Reduced government revenue, as service workers tend to pay less payroll taxes than manufacturing workers. Furthermore, because the more profits an industry makes, the more taxes go to a government, more tax money is going to Beijing and less is going to Washington, D.C.

4) Destroyed the loyalty of corporations to America, as in 2003 the State Department was investigating Boeing for passing military secrets on to the Chinese.

5) Outsourced ownership of American companies, as foreigners are using the money they gain from our monstrous trade deficits to purchase U.S. assets.

6) Depressed the wages of service workers, as the supply of labor has increased in that sector as the manufacturing sector has disappeared.

7) Led to higher taxes, as less revenue collected by tariffs means more revenue must be collected in other ways.

This has all happened before. In the late 1800s, the British Empire obeyed the free trade dogma and was emasculated as the U.S. and Germany, protecting their industries, became Great Powers. Now, we're playing Britain's role, and China is playing the role we played. Many of our trading partners cheat on the deals, placing tariffs on imports and tax cuts on exports, and we are doing nothing in retaliation. Exactly the same way Britain did nothing.

It's time we renounce the free trade dogma and build an American future on the economic patriotism of Hamilton, Washington, Lincoln, and Coolidge. It is time we place fair and prudent tariffs on imports and use that money to cut taxes at home. It is time we set the foundation for a future with a thriving middle class and a sovereign United States. It is time we get back to reality.

(I would add that it's pretty hard to maintain national security when you've sold off control of your ports and interior to companies controlled by other nations.)

And ThresherK recalls:

Remember back when bad ol' Commonism was threatening us? Econ professors loved those charts that showed how many hours of work median (or even 25th percentile) American workers had to work to afford stuff: A year of food, a typical mortgage payment, a year of college, a new car, a business suit, a TV.

American workers always had to work less than people in Russia, or western European countries, on these charts.

Now that we've achieved our glorious victory, where are those charts? Why is it all anecdotes, showing stock market closing figures to people two paychecks away from debt problems, and boasting of "new jobs" (since losing millions before 2004)?

Interspersed throughout the thread are right-wing free-market talking points delivered by a person with the username "Lucifer". Perhaps this is not an accident.

Update: James Galbraith drops by our own comment thread to say:

It would be useful, I think, for those commenting on my article to read it, rather than relying on Kevin Drum's very brief characterization. It is available on commondreams for those who do not want to penetrate the Nation's subscription wall.

Briefly: my focus is not on "free trade," but on "free trade agreements" -- the mainly bilateral (in NAFTA's case, trilateral) documents that have been the practical focus of the trade debate. The commenters, by and large, are absorbed in a theoretical discussion.

For example, "lord mike" writes that the effect of "NAFTA and other trade agreements is to facilitate the importation of goods." It sounds plausible, but it isn't really true. The maquiladora system existed before NAFTA; average tariffs on manufactured goods coming from Mexico to the US were around three percent (e.g., trivial) before NAFTA, and, by the way, China isn't a member of NAFTA or any other bilateral trade agreement with the US.

So, the beginning of sense in this debate is to get off the theoretical high horse and ask, would getting rid of NAFTA actually accomplish anything the anti-trade folks want to accomplish? Answer: no, it would not.

If the commenters are, on the other hand, arguing that the U.S. should renounce NAFTA, the WTO and the rest of the postwar trading system, cut the flow of goods from China (and our exports of aircraft, computer systems, communications networks, energy services, and the rest to that country and the rest of the world), and build an autarkic national system (including the big wall along the Rio Grande this would require), well, then they're in an alternate universe altogether.

My point is one that holds in the present universe: nothing about the U.S. position in the world prevents full employment at good wages. If you want proof, just look at the statistics for 1997-2000. It happened. There is no good reason it can't be made to happen again, hence no reason to go on demonize the Mexicans, the Chinese or our other trading partners.

17:04 GMT

News and analysis

So the House passed the non-binding resolution opposing the surge, 246 to 182. Two Democrats, of Georgia and of Mississippi, joined the Republicans to vote against the resolution, and 17 Republicans supported it. Noting that Bush says it doesn't matter and they'd better not try to defund his war games, Cernig wonders who will blink first. Since I heard John Conyers himself say on the radio that they were absolutely not going to impeach Bush because they didn't want to waste time on that when they had so much other work to do, I guess Bush already knows that the Democrats aren't going to do anything he has to cope with, so he will continue to ignore them. Conyers, of course, is wrong - the Congress that investigated and nearly impeached Richard Nixon got plenty of work done during the Watergate hearings, and there's no reason to think this should be any harder work - especially since Bush/Cheney have already bragged in public that they committed numerous felonies because they think the law doesn't apply to them. Cernig also notes that the right-wingers set up a page with contact details for the 17 Republicans and two Democrats who crossed the aisle for this one. It would be good if you thanked the 17 and told the other two off.

Jeffrey Feldman at Frameshop says that the use of a fake Abraham Lincoln quote read on the House floor calling for hanging dissenters is more ominous than people seem to think, and should be generating a stronger reaction than we are giving it: "What we are witnessing with these calls for violence is the radicalization of authoritarian conservatism as the prospects for electoral success diminish."

Singularity uses a series of posts from Black Agenda Report for an examination of why Obama may not be all that popular with the black community: He doesn't speak truth to power.

Tish Grier says that KFTY-TV in Santa Rosa has sacked their entire news staff because their advertisers weren't happy with the news - so the station has told the public that "citizen journalists" should do the job for them. Says Tish, "Gives me the feeling of a being a piece of journalistic Soylent Green..."

Max Blumenthal says The Forked Tongue Express suffered a huge defeat in Arizona recently, and the press has completely ignored it - "McCain Mutiny", in The Nation. (via)

12:34 GMT

Things to read

WSJ goes soft on healthcare - Ezra says there's actually an op-ed (not a news story) in The Wall Street Journal that's actually sensible on Plan D. Not something you expect from that venue. Also, Marty Peretz complains about Jewish conspiracy.

Scarecrow at FDL on Rogue States And The Axis Of Evil: "What should a country do if it finds itself in an increasingly insecure world but realizes that its President and Vice President and their closest advisors cannot be trusted with protecting the national security? ... Our national security may require that we challenge the prevailing assumption that we're stuck with this dilemma for two more years."

Iraq Troop Boost Erodes Readiness, General Says: "Outgoing Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker said yesterday that the increase of 17,500 Army combat troops in Iraq represents only the "tip of the iceberg" and will potentially require thousands of additional support troops and trainers, as well as equipment -- further eroding the Army's readiness to respond to other world contingencies." You could just pound your head against a wall.

Dick and George go green - Turns out they've planned for the upcoming collapse with, among other things, a totally self-contained "environmentalist's dream home" at Bush's Crawford Villa, and "Dick Cheney's personal investments indicate he (or more accurately, whoever handles his money) is expecting economic collapse." Um.

Marie Brenner watches to JAG lawyers Taking on Guantánamo, in Vanity Fair: "The whole purpose of setting up Guantánamo Bay is for torture. Why do this? Because you want to escape the rule of law. There is only one thing that you want to escape the rule of law to do, and that is to question people coercively - what some people call torture. Guantánamo and the military commissions are implements for breaking the law." Via Balloon Juice.

After Frank Gafney's meretricious article in The Washington Times that begins with a made-up quote of Abe Lincoln supposedly saying that dissent during war time is treason, Alan Colmes had Gafney and Glenn Greenwald on his show, and Gafney was so over-the-top that even Colmes started siding with Glenn. C&L has a post with the audio, and Glenn posts his own reactions to the event, saying that it's all evidence that they are becoming desperate: "That is why they are so eager to equate criticism of them with treason and to stifle debate. They have not only lost the debate over Iraq and general Middle East militarism, but their continuous extremism and deceit is being exposed, and they fear being held accountable. It is only natural that they want to render criticism of their war and their conduct impermissible."

Jerome Doolittle watched Bill Maher's special: "And I learned (actually relearned; I must have known it once) that Bush campaigned in 2000 as 'a reformer with results.' Six years later that has a poignant and terrible ring to it, doesn't it?"

01:22 GMT

Friday, 16 February 2007

Shiver and blog

I am Spartacus.

(I have also been freezing my butt off all day.)

Charles, citing Tom Englehardt's article on Donald "The Undertaker" Rumsfeld's rise and how conservatives on both sides of the aisle helped kill the Office of Equal Opportunities, says: The key lessons here are (1) that the reason the Republicans so greatly hate and fear the 1960s is because that era threatened to bring the freedoms this country boasts about to the poor and marginalized, and (2) conservative Democrats were just as eager as Republicans to bury the poor. (Also, a Republican tells the truth about how they retained seats in the last election.)

As usual, I am disgusted with Steny Hoyer, who seems more interested in being the new Tom DeLay and having his own K Street Project than in getting rid of the graft and corruption in Washington. And now he's got to make sure everyone knows that he won't be doing anything about the occupation or, presumably, much else. Thanks for being a good conservative, Steny.

Here's some bad news: The Armed Forces Network, which was carrying Al Franken's show, has decided replace the show with Alan Colmes. They had better choices. Additionally, KABC in Los Angeles has dropped liberal talk. Seems like liberal talk is gone in New Haven. They have the listeners, they just don't have the clout. (And here's a profile of Thom Hartmann.) Thanks to Nancy of Dallas Air America Groups for providing links. And here's all you need to know about Ed Schultz relationships to various on-air personalities on Air America and off of it.

17:29 GMT

Roadkill on the superhighway

Okay, here's Hillary's statement on Iran (and here's where you can tell her how you feel about it). Hillary says, "No Military Action On Iran Without Congressional Authority." Think about that. Don't do anything completely insane without getting our permission, first. Now, I do think it's important that the point be made - strongly - that Bush does not have the authority to use military force against Iran, no matter how he'd like to pretend that some previous legislation granted him that power. But that isn't how it's being phrased - they sound more like, "We might let you do something completely insane only if you get our permission first." That's not good enough, the emphasis is all wrong. And the reason Clinton is getting the emphasis wrong is that she's trying to be really macho about Iran and doesn't dare say that there are worse things than Iran getting nuclear power, and one of those things would be using military force against Iran. And she apparently does not understand that nothing makes Iran want nuclear power like the constant belligerence from the United States against Iran. So just shut up about Iran and tell Bush flat out that he can't go there. Draw up the articles of impeachment right now and hold them up on television and swear to God that if there is the slightest inkling that Bush is moving against Iran, impeachment proceedings start in the morning.

Ezra discovers the hot antisemitism discussion happening at TNR, where they argue about, um, you know. (Also: on the saintly wisdom of soldiers.)

Read It And Weep - Hilzoy looks at the pre-invasion PowerPoint presentation on Iraq, and it's a sorry thing, indeed. (via)

The Conservative Constitution: "We, the rightful rulers of the world, in order to form a union beneficial to us, establish our natural position at the highest levels of society, protect the rights of property and profit, promote our continued welfare, and to secure these blessings unto our inheritors until the end of days, do hereby establish this Constitution."

I do not for one single minute believe that the tobacco company propagandists did not know that this would make smoking seem cool.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season Eight - Joss Whedon is off Wonder Woman and doing Buffy comics, and being interviewed a lot. Via Gary Farber, who has lots of related updates.

03:28 GMT

Thursday, 15 February 2007

More voices

The Catholic church has a long tradition of scholarship and debate that ranges farther and wider than you might think if you'd been getting your religious education from right-wing and corporate news sources - far enough that what Pope John Paul II claimed was eternal truth was actually a pretty modern conception not found in canon law - even Thomas Aquinas did not agree.

But the media, while giving plenty of air time and ink to the most repressive right-wing religious views, has refused to give much time and attention to opposing religious views.

Here's an exception at Salon, where Frances Kissling of Catholics for Choice has a few things to tell Rebecca Traister in "Bill Donohue vs. the world (especially women)":

The most recent stir -- after last week's dust-up, firing-rehiring debacle -- was over the sentence, "The Christian version of the virgin birth is generally interpreted as super-patriarchal, where god is viewed as so powerful he can impregnate without befouling himself by touching a woman, and women are nothing but vessels." What is your reaction to that passage?

I don't find anything provocative about it. There's no gross language in there. And you could read a hundred scholarly articles on virginity, sexuality, women, from Christian theologians that would say similar things.

Fred Clark, our favorite professional Christian, says at Slacktivist: "Don't hire William Donohue":
The best that might be said for the man is that he is intemperate and verbally incautious, often phrasing things in glaringly offensive ways that he does not intend. That's not my description, it's his defense -- one he's forced to fall back on rather often after saying things like that above.*
Scott Lemieux, and d at Lawyers, Guns and Money have more, and so does Julian Sanchez.

Crooks and Liars has a raft of posts about Donahue's bigotry and general disgustingness.

And Atrios reminds us that Donahue has pulled this kind of crap before on women who are Christians of a stripe he doesn't happen to agree with.

But, as Steve Gilliard, Phoenix Woman, and others have noted, this debate isn't just about faith; it's also about race. You ignore this at your peril.

17:11 GMT

I saw it last night

Why Al Gore Won't Let the Rumors Die: "Its too much to say that Al Gore has decided to run for President in 2008. But it does seem that he wants to preserve the option." (via)

Ezra says the McKinsey Group has released a study of why American health care is so expensive, and much of it has to do with the fact that we're just being charged more in order to make a profit, but also: "And of course, there's administration, where we pay $98 billion more than anyone else, $84 billion of it in oh-so-efficient private sector. 64% of those costs come from insurer underwriting and advertising -- in other words, we're paying more than $50 billion dollars so insurers can convince us we need care and then figure out how to deny those of us who'll actually use it. That's some added value."

Edwards and the bloggers.

You really have to be pretty cruel and sick-minded to introduce legislation that would require death certificates for aborted fetuses "which likely would create public records identifying women who have abortions."

Trifecta on Greg Palast and how Vulture Funds Expose The Seedy Side of Debt Relief: "This is where it gets nauseating. Debt Advisory International (DAI) tried to allegedly bribe the President of Zambia with $2,000,000 to his favorite charity in exchange for him to figure out some way for Zambia to come up to pay this repo company $40,000,000 for a 1979 tractor financing loan. Michael Sheehan is the founder of DAI. Greg Palast caught up to him, and tried to get the first interview of these media shy capitalists, about the outrageousness of the company's actions. These vultures literally starve third world countries into deeper debt by legal loansharking."

Star Trek: The Next Generation: "The Battle" - reviewed by Wil Wheaton, who did not think much of this script. Via Spocko.

Nancy Pelosi's blog has a whole bunch of clips of Dems against escalation speaking in the House.

I loved this picture.

13:02 GMT

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

Al Franken announced at the end of his show today that he's running for the Senate. Made rather a nice pitch, too.

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone, "101 Ways to Lie About Iraq".

Glenn Greenwald says, "Neoconservatives hate liberty as much as they love war": Frank Gaffney, one of the country's most influential and well-connected neoconservatives, has a column in today's Washington Times in which he argues that the debate taking place in Congress over the war in Iraq constitutes treason. Gaffney specifically argues that the condemnations of Douglas Feith from Sen. Rockefeller "really should be a hanging offense." And liberal bloggers are the ones who are supposed to be too hot to touch? Please.

Bush opened his mouth again. Christy Hardin Smith reports.

At Angry Bear, cactus says "God Punishes Us When We (Collectively) Vote Republican, Part 2," because increasing the debt is merely postponing taxes.

Patrick picks up from Ezra's recent posts on prison rape.

Good news from Digby - Americans seem to be figuring out that the GOP really isn't any good at those things they claimed to be good at. And, via poputonian, This is What Impeachment Looks Like!

Matt Stoller says Grace Time Is Over: It's pretty obvious at this point that the Democratic leadership isn't serious about ending the war in Iraq. They won't defund the war, and keep repeating the meme that cutting off funding for the war means cutting off funding for the troops. It's time for the blogs to stop giving them a pass.

Taylor Marsh has more on Hillary's Ed Muskie problem.

Smashing shot of the night sky in New Zealand with several interesting things in it, including Comet McNaught.

23:10 GMT

When to say you're sorry

The BooMan thinks Hillary Will Be the New Muskie, and I suppose there is a certain parallel there. And I think BooMan is right that we have an advantage this time around that we didn't have in 1972, which is that most of the country is not, this time, terrified that hippies are about to overthrow the American way of life and force everyone to take drugs and grow out their hair and take drugs and make candles. Today, more people are worried about the fact that the Republicans are going to take away their jobs and homes and make them live on the streets. But our advantage will be stronger if we find a candidate who can fight like hell. (Still, Muskie was an early signal of how the press will use a single, possibly fabricated, episode of little real meaning to characterize a candidate as something he's not.) But Hillary isn't that good a candidate. Oh, she could possibly win, just because, after Bush, anyone who can speak English and has a D after their name looks so, so much better than anything the Republicans can come up with. But if she keeps talking "tough" on Iran, do you really want to have to vote for her? She still hasn't said the magic words about her cowardly vote on Iraq, either.

But not everyone wants Hillary to apologize for her war vote anymore - not because they agree with that vote, but because they are just sick of watching Democrats apologize when somehow Republicans keep getting a pass. I understand this feeling, but personally, I'd prefer people keep their apologies to things that deserve them. Hillary needs to apologize to you and me for that vote, and explain why we should vote for her when she was so obviously wrong.

"No More Apologies" is the position Chris Bowers takes, and Bride of Acheron concurs with, when Shakespeare's Sister, Melissa McEwan, joins Amanda Marcotte in resigning from the Edwards campaign. But then, Melissa had nothing to apologize for, and Hillary does.

But it's a shame Melissa felt she had to resign, all the same. I know there are people who say it's just pragmatic, a way to keep the "anti-religious" label off of Democrats, but be real, that's not going to work - they are going to say that stuff anyway, just as they always have. The way to stand up for freedom of religion is to stand up for freedom of religion, not freedom for right-wing creeps to destroy people who don't happen to share their particular religion. I note in Shakes' comments this dishonest twisting:

Maybe you can explain why you felt the need to malign a particular religion in the first place. I thought the purpose of a free society was so that we were all free to believe and worship in accordance with our personal beliefs. Let the Catholics worship they way they want and let the Baptists, Orthodox, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists do the same. Does it further your beliefs to disparage another's? What tenet of your fail does that fall under? I would imagine most leaders of organized religion (with the exception of some radical sects)would say that we should RESPECT the beliefs of those who choose to worship in a different manner than us.
Melissa criticized right-wing spokespeople for repressive religious lack of freedom, and first she is accused of maligning "a particular religion" - as if campaigning for specific laws were just a matter of personal belief and not political campaigning - and then it shifts to the pretense that it's a First Amendment issue that no one who ever claims to speak for "a particular religion" should ever have their positions criticized.

You don't apologize to such dishonest people. Another commenter responds:

As a Christian, I support Melissa entirely. And Amanda as well. She didn't attack Christians. She simply called out bigotry and sexism and hypocrisy, and human pride, daring to masquerade as Christianity. Want freedom to practice your faith (Or lack of) as you choose? Go for it; it's your right. Just don't forget that it's also MY right.
(I am especially enjoying Michael Bérubé's troll-bashing in that same thread.)

Meanwhile, the media should apologize for making Edwards, Amanda, and Shakes the story, instead of Bill Donahue's disgusting bigotry.

19:38 GMT

Big blog stuff

It's not often that I agree more with Kevin Drum than I do with a lot of other people in the liberal blogosphere, but I agree on this: Higher CAFE standards are a better way to deal with fuel consumption than higher prices. Kevin offers good reasons: "CAFE standards have a clearly demonstrated capacity to reduce gasoline consumption while higher gasoline prices have a very modest effect. What's more, gasoline taxes hurt the poor far more than the rich and are probably even less likely than higher mileage standards to make it through the legislative meatgrinder. Higher CAFE standards ought to be a slam dunk for anyone who cares about global warming, cleaning up the air, and reducing our dependence on oil." Kevin also has a good question about the Libby trial: Why did only Libby lie? Everyone else appears to have admitted that they did the deed, but not Libby. "Repeatedly. Under oath. What was different about the vice president's office that out of the entire mountain of people Fitzgerald interviewed, Dick Cheney's chief of staff was the only one who felt he had to lie?" Nice one.

Bob Geiger has a good analysis of Tony Snow's bizarre little conversation with the press about how you're allowed to disagree with George Bush as long as you don't really disagree with him. Via FDL, where the serious Plamegate junkies get detailed coverage of the Libby trail.

While it's true that I lost all respect for Instahack a long time ago, I was still pretty stunned when I looked at Glenn Greenwald's page earlier and saw that Reynolds had called for the murder of scientists in Iran: "Just think about how extremist and deranged that is. We are not even at war with Iran. Congress has not declared war or authorized military force against that country. Yet Reynolds thinks that the Bush administration, unilaterally, should send people to murder Iranian scientists and religious leaders -- just pick out whichever ones we don't like and slaughter them. No charges. No trial. No accountability. Just roving death squads deployed and commanded by our Leader, slaughtering whomever he wants dead." That's your "respectable" right-wing blogger advocating this. (And, via Atrios, a nice point from Matt Yglesias: "One thing to consider about the Glenn Reynolds / Hugh Hewitt assassination strategy for coping with the Iranian nuclear program ("we should be responding quietly, killing radical mullahs and Iranian atomic scientists") beyond the obvious is how we once again see conservatives (or in Reynolds' case "libertarians") displaying an almost childlike faith in the competence, honesty, and efficacy of the federal bureaucracy insofar as that bureaucracy is tasked with dishing out lethal force that they would never in a million years ascribe to, say, the people in charge of the Endangered Species Act." It is a funny thing - the only thing these people trust government for is the violence and stuff, and then they trust them well past the point where it's obvious they are blowing it big-time.

Josh Marshall says he gets asked at least once a day whether it's possible for Connecticut voters to recall Joe Lieberman. It's not, but it's interesting that so many people are asking.

The top Centcom commander in the Middle-East says he has no idea who is smuggling weapons into Iraq or whether Iran has anything to do with it. And this is after the chairman of the Joint Chiefs said there is no evidence of links between Iran and those weapons.

And here's the story on those US attorneys who were fired, supposedly for some sort of poor performance, even though they had good performance reports.

Greg Sargent keeps finding more stupid misreporting of the Pelosi Plane story in the mass media.

Amanda Marcotte's mail.

12:56 GMT

Religion thing

Good Nonsense has a nice round-up of posts on the matter of Amanda's resignation. While I was at Roy's place, I noticed this comment from aimai:

I don't even want to be funny about this. I woke up thinking over some political conversations I had with my contractor and realizing the core of the current republican voter position is this:

sure, I mistakenly voted for a corrupt, aggressive, war crimes committing, anti liberty, corporatist, careerist, and bigoted party but that was normal because *all politicians are like that* but don't ask me to vote for the democrats unless they superhumanly exceed all expectations for perfection, are beyond political calculation, and are willing to commit political suicide to save our asses in Iraq and do other necessary things that I will instantly revile them for when I go back to voting republican.

Our friend Faithful Progressive has written a number of posts about Edwards and Amanda, and his view differs from mine. I believe in freedom of belief, which means I believe in Amanda's right to believe that Catholicism is no different from any other opinion she doesn't agree with, and I believe in her right to say so. Being told she is "disrespectful of religion" is being told she is failing to be religious - same thing. You'd never demand that she not make mock of respect for Bush, respect for Ayn Rand, respect for L. Ron Hubbard (who, by the way, is the founder of what is now just as much a real religion, to those who were raised in it, as Catholicism is to kids who were taught by nuns), or any other school of thought and its adherents. There is an enormous difference between respecting your right to believe in a certain perception of the divine and respecting that perception itself. Amanda is being told she has to treat someone else's religion as if it makes just as much sense to her as it does to the people who believe in it.

There are millions of Christians, including Catholics, for whom Bill Donahue's version of Christianity is sheer blasphemy. Not just "disgusting" or "crazy" or "sexist" or "sick", but blasphemy. That's a much stronger thing to say about someone's beliefs than anything Amanda has said. Fortunately, most of those people do not hold with Bill Donahue-style fatwas against people who don't share their religious beliefs. They aren't demanding deference for their beliefs. But that's exactly what people like Bill Donahue are doing - declaring a fatwa against people who don't agree with their beliefs being allowed to take part in our political process. That should scare the hell out of you.

So I believe it is necessary for people who believe in secular government (which is not the same as atheist government) to stand up to defend the rights of people who don't believe in your religion to hold their own beliefs, including the belief that your religion is not so special that it should not be subject to the same criticism, argument, and, yes, mockery, as any other viewpoint would be.

And anyway, it's pretty rich being lectured about religious bigotry by someone who named his group after The Catholic League.

In other news, Ahmadinejad explains: Death to America! And have a nice day!

01:54 GMT

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Crooked trail

This most totally bites. I'm really sorry Amanda felt the need to resign from the Edwards campaign. I wish I thought Edwards was smart and brave enough to make lemonade out of this and express outrage that a far-right bigot like Donahue was able to get traction in the press for a hate campaign against one little blogger, but I don't think he will. (Hm, what do you think would happen if another campaign picked her up?) The good news is that Amanda will still have time and energy for Pandagon that Edwards was sucking away. And a push-back is in order: Ask the media how it happened that we heard more from a tiny number of far-right hate-mongers about this than from all of the Catholics and other religious people who disagree with allowing him to represent them.

Cursor: Christopher Hitchens' "mostly admiring" review of a book that advises culling enemies you can't outbreed, leads one commentator to conclude that 'the thrill of saying something vile' has led 'Christopher and his kind' to "become what they pretend to pre-empt."

I was looking for anything Al Gore has had to say about NAFTA and I found this.

I can't tell from over here - is the mainstream media really ignoring the Libby trial?

"It's enough to make you want to bang your head against a wall...or start a blog."

Ezra looks at Obama on healthcare. I know no one wants to say it, but the insurance companies are the biggest unnecessary expense in American healthcare. You want to save money? Make it free at the point of delivery. You'll save a bunch on administration alone, and a bunch more by not having to pay insurance companies lots of money to make a profit for their executives and shareholders. (Ezra's also been talking about prison rape. Is it really that easy to say that prisoners deserve to be raped for years on end? Do we really mean to make that part of their sentence? How did it get this way?)

11:26 GMT


My thanks to Steve Bates (of) for directing me in comments to this post at Why Now? discussing the markings on the "Iranian roadside bomb" that looks so much unlike anything of the kind. (Steve also finds something to like about Obama.)

Paul Krugman* is calling it all "Scary Movie 2" and says it sure looks to him like this is basically more of the same.

Mahabarb: "The question is, can Giuliani be a bigger whore than he already is? Or has he hit the limits? There even have been reports that Giuliani has shifted his former pro-choice position further right."

I almost missed it: Joe Klein noticed! "It's obvious that the current level of vitriol on the left is a reaction to nearly twenty years of sewage emanating from Rush et al." (via)

That's what I want: a veto-proof majority.

Greg Sargent has posted the final text of the resolution opposing the Iraq escalation.

Juan Cole says it doesn't make sense to blame Iran for the damage our troops are taking in Iraq, since most of that damage is being taken in Sunni areas.

Bush said, "I think 'Goldwater Republicans' and 'Rockefeller Republicans' are pretty far past." I wonder how many Republicans would take offense at that? Or have most of them already noticed that he's not what they thought they were voting for? (Holden has more exciting quotations.)

Looks like the wingers are doing a re-run on McCain - same old playbook. Frankly, though, I think he deserves it this time after the way forgave it last time.

00:26 GMT

Monday, 12 February 2007

News stuff

WaPo's Walter Pincus has testified that Ari Fleischer leaked Valerie Plame's undercover status to him. And Swopa thinks the press is missing the larger story - that it's about Cheney leading the charge. In an open letter to the press posted at both his own blog and the HuffPo, he says: "I'm just an amateur blogger playing sleuth, without the sources to nail down my theories as wrong or right. But now, with the evidence from the Libby trial pointing in this direction, where are the mainstream reporters chasing this potential career-making scoop?"

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has bee following the unhappy career of Michael Vu, "a 27-year-old wunderkind charged with overseeing the transition to electronic voting and with professionalizing a historically dysfunctional operation." He ran into a few problems.... And The Brad Blog reports that a professor at Princeton has found that Sequoia's touch-screen machines are easily hackable: "We can take a version of Sequoia's software program and modify it to do something different --- like appear to count votes, but really move them from one candidate to another. And it can be programmed to do that only on Tuesdays in November, and at any other time. You can't detect it," Princeton's Professor of Computer Science Andrew Appel explains in New Jersey's Star-Ledger today. (via)

Karen Tumulty at the Time blog, Swampland, seems to be getting this "blogging" thing. She not only credits a commenter in her post (about Homeland Cheese Security and the strange case of the firetruck funding), but responds (with civility) to another commenter on what inspired an earlier post.

19:03 GMT

What I read for breakfast

David Bell in comments says: " Just look at the photograph of the alleged Iranian-made bomb in the Telegraph. It's claimed to be a roadside bomb, but it looks to be a standard mortar bomb with the propellant charge still attached. And colour me sceptical about the labelling. It looks a little plain, and it all looks journalist-friendly, rather than Quartermaster's markings." (The Telegraph link is dynamic, but Cernig kept the photo, and also links to a picture of the real Iranian equivalent.)

Thanks to gmanedit in comments* for the pointer to Leaders vs. Climbers at Blog for Arizona: "Those who rise to positions of leadership only to fail to provide any actual leadership are really just climbers. They satisfy their vanity, their pocketbooks, or what-have-you by climbing into prominent positions as an end in itself, not as a means of actually making a difference. They climb as high as they can get and then play it safe to ensure they stay there, so they can "make a difference" they tell themselves and others. But they never really do make a difference, or at least not a positive one. Instead, they compromise with the devil in order to have more chances to "make a difference". They stay, but the difference never comes, or if it does, it isn't positive."

Did Salon really call Obama "uppity"? Oh, my god, they really did. (via)

So Bloggasm interviewed Skippy about the great blogroll purge. I think linking to other blogs is important, and I agree with Skippy about how it makes the Blogtopia (Y!SCTP!) healthier. On the other hand, I guess I have trouble getting excited about it since, for reasons that have never been explained to me, I've never been on Kos' blogroll anyway.

15:43 GMT

Buncha links

I was watching Fox Sky News earlier and they showed "Iranian" weapons that looked mysteriously like American weapons. It looks like I'm not the only person who thought so.

Those of us who were appalled by the "Axis of Evil" speech at the time can say, "I told you so," but really, it is just all so sickening. Matt may be right that it was the worst speech ever. (via)

Mark Kleiman on Pre-9/11 thinking: "Josh Marshall is wrong and Howard Kurtz is right: Nancy Pelosi's handling of the military-aircraft question has been thoroughly irresponsible. She has recklessly allowed security considerations to override appearances. That's pre-9/11 thinking. Post 9/11, we have learned from the Decider that PR is more important than reality. Making it harder for terrorists to take out the third-in-succession for the Presidency pales in importance compared to scoring political points." (via)

Ned Lamont. Hero. - Howie Klein leads a thread at FDL, with Ned joining in to talk about the issues that still matter.

At The Left Coaster, eripost is still tracking down details on the mysteriously under-investigated Niger documents and other interesting details that have come back to the surface with the release of more materials during the Libby trial, and examines such questions as whether Atrios is a Martian. Meanwhile, Mary says: "John Dean's latest column summarizes the testimony before Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Senator Russ Feingold. Dean notes that one of the most promising results of this session was the strong endorsement by both Republicans and Democrats that Congress has the power to stop Bush's war plans." (And I agree that impeaching Cheney is vital. In fact, I think it's an emergency and should be done immediately.)

Bill Scher used to know Michelle Malkin back at Oberlin in the early '90s at a time when "political correctness" got well over the top, there. They're still friends, but he doesn't understand why she's turned into someone who has taken her own brand of political correctness to even greater extremes. Democrats should be ready to fight back against Conservative Correctness and keep it from sidetracking them from the important issues.

Respect for Religious Freedom

Wax Hasselhoff, Via Trifecta, who is skeptical of Bush's bipartisanship.

Take the Landover Baptist's Bible Sex Quiz (via)

Mike Luckovich's archeology.

The Jeff Beck Group doing "Morning Dew" (and proof that Stewart used to be good).

01:47 GMT

Sunday, 11 February 2007


Lejaby Tahiva full cup bra

Bra of the Week

I wasn't going to say anything about it since sort of mentally classed it under "meaningless GOP kabuki", but don't you think it's a bit much for people like Warner, Hagel, et al. to actively work to block action opposing a troop surge to then, after they succeed, make a big show of saying they wish they hadn't done it? What's wrong with these people? And why do Democrats fall for it when Republicans rope them into supporting GOP measures that have the appearance of something principled when they should know by now that they will even scuttle their own proposals rather than do the right thing?

Thanks to Wayne Pearce (of) for the tip about Todd Gitlin's post about news that Frontline is doing a four-part series on the "News War" that talks to a variety of sources about problems in the news biz. However, a commenter notes that "it is outward looking, when the media need to start looking within."

Natasha found a scary little exchange between Bush and someone who told him, "one U.S. bomb on Iran and the regime will remain in power for another 20 or 30 years and 70 million Iranians will become radicalized." Bush said, "I know." Well, if he knows, why is he trying to stir things up with Iran? Why is he doing everything possible to telegraph that it's exactly what he's planning to do? I wanna know.

Jamison Foser tells us that ABC thinks we need Rush Limbaugh to lecture us about bigotry. And it sounds like Bill Donahue was so brave about thinking he was in position to veto Democratic campaign choices because he'd previously been successful with it; but Catholic organizations aren't really all that pleased to be represented by hate-monger Donahue, who they think gives them a bad name. (They're right.) And anyway, if Donahue is happy to defend people who say genuinely anti-Catholic things (like Jerome Corsi), he really doesn't have much excuse for attacking two women who did not attack Catholics at all, but a particular position of the church hierarchy. It might be good if people asked those news organizations who died and made Donahue Pope.

What will we talk about today you and I?: "Will we talk about how the Americans urged our people to rise against the tyrant? Will we talk about that you and I? Will we talk about what happened to the men who believed the American lies and rose?" (via)

I nearly missed the exciting news that some folks want to build a monument to Zigzag Zell Miller at the Georgia Capital. (Good design proposal.) (via)

17:26 GMT

Open source news

Kevin Drum picks up the Roger Ailes story I linked to earlier on Howie Kurtz's mysterious reporting of two brand-new blogs promoting the Pelosi smear as representing the "typical" reaction of the blogosphere. One of the things that makes the (liberal) blogosphere so much more useful than the corporate media is that we are much more likely to credit our sources (with links) and to take responsibility for what we post. (For example, there are no unsigned editorials here.) Kevin's point about transparency is key to understanding the liberal criticism of corporate media's willingness to promote right-wing smear stories (and some DLC smear stories, too). For us, the who and why still matter in a way they no longer seem to for The Washington Post.

Specific to the Pelosi story, I think I need to make this clear for certain people who still don't get it: Pelosi did not request a military plane at all. A post-9/11 rule requires that, for security reasons, the Speaker of the House - the third most important member of government in the presidential succession - be transported by military plane to and from the Speaker's district. The previous speaker, Dennis Hastert, had such transport, but his constituency was closer to Washington, DC, and the plane he used cannot get to Pelosi's California district without refueling. Take-off, landing, and being on the ground generally for a pit-stop present the greatest vulnerability; therefore, minimizing the need for extra stops is obviously a serious security concern. There was no story here, except for the fact that (a) the Republicans tried to gin up a fake scandal out of it and (b) the media ran with it.

Commenter owenz left this comment to Kevin's post:

Kurtz doesn't view himself as a truth teller. He sees himself as a score keeper. It doesn't matter if the charges one side makes are true in Howie's world - it only matters if they damaged the intended target. To the extent he examines the underlying truth, it's just to cover the rebuttal and counter-point.

For example, if Howie said what he really thought about the Pelosi story, it would sound like this: "Republicans fabricated a story about Nancy Pelosi this week, effectively smearing the speaker with the false charge that she wants to waste public dollars on a fancy plane. CNN's Lou Dobbs proved particularly resistant to the truth and Fox News had a field day chatting about the fabrications for at least three days. For her part, Pelosi fought back and explained that the charges were false almost immediately, but she was unable to get traction anywhere that mattered. Overall, it was an effective attack by Republicans that took advantage of the media's appetite for pointless, made up scandals. Pelosi failed to strike the right chord in defending herself, sticking to the merits when something more exotic was in order. Her inability to defend herself from false stories and fabricated GOP attacks suggests she may be weaker than previous speakers and is quickly becoming a theme."

I think owenz gives Kurtz too much credit, however. Kurtz is married to a Republican operative and there is every good reason to believe that she may actually be the source, or at least the contact point, for a lot of his "information". It is certainly not the case that he checked Google or Technorati for a sense of the blogosphere on this issue and found these two unranked, unlinked blogs at the top of the hit-ranks.

(An amusing update from D-Day notes that even Republicans are acknowledging that it's all a bunch of bull.)

14:22 GMT

Saturday, 10 February 2007

Selected candies

First we have an article in the NYT that shares many of the worst sins we have seen from the corporate media, and then we have A Tiny Revolution: "New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller today announced that the paper's longtime staff writer Michael Gordon is not an actual person, but rather a voice-activated tape recorder." That'd explain things.... (Also: When will Elliot Abrams get some new material?)

The latest front in creepy-crazy anti-abortion legislation is Idaho. Scott Lemieux explains why, "At any rate, as with most anti-choice legislative proposals, the legislation makes sense only if you think that women are incapable of rational judgment and that choices to have abortions are always somehow made by men."

Well, it's been over a month without Bérubé, and life is not the same. But before he left us, he wrote a piece I meant to recommend back then, so have a read of the tale of Michael and the Lawn Preachers.

Thomas Nephew has a report-back on the latest state of play on voting in Maryland. A bit of letter-writing might help push things in favor of strong auditing of ballot counts.

It really is starting to look like you have to give up on the idea of running for president before you show any leadership. You know, I think we need good Senators, and I'm happy to see Kerry being one. I wish more people in the Senate would take that attitude. I'm sick of people calculating how they behave based on whether it's "safe" for running for president later. Ick.

Boy, that Dick Cheney sure is special: "Every executive agency in the government, including the president's office, is required to issue an annual report disclosing statistics on document classification and declassification activity. Every executive agency, that is, except for one: the vice president's office." Or so they believe. Impeach, already!

He isn't running, but that doesn't mean he won't run. (via)

Customized M&Ms (via)

18:36 GMT

Cruisin' the web

Chris Floyd discusses Chris Hedges book and recent Truthdig article in "Storming Heaven: The Rise of Pseudo-Christian Fascism". And here's Colbert's interview with Hedges.

How on earth did Howie Kurtz find out about the existence of two brand-new blogs that appear to have come into existence solely to attack Nancy Pelosi over how she flies home, and why did he represent them as "typical" of the blogosphere's reaction to the fake flap - and not even mention the many, many established blogs that have been debunking this stupid story? (via)

It might be a good idea to write to the NYT and ask them why they didn't print a letter from a Catholic Group that supports Amanda and Shakes.

Kagro X can see where Doug Feith is going, and reminds us that understand it is the difference between "just politics," and "we're not kidding when we whisper the word 'treason.'"

Well, it looks like Bush has managed to do something everyone thought was impossible: He's number one in a very special poll.

How can Democrats compete with all that Republican charm?

David Corn on the prosecution wrap-up in the Libby trial. And won't it be fun to see what the defense comes up with when they return from recess?

I have to admit, this is gratifying (although I would have gone with "Republan", myself).

American Stranger's fond memories of Rudy Giuliani.

The ORIGINAL Illustrated Catalog Of ACME Products (via)

13:23 GMT

The enemy

Commenter KS brought my attention to this from David Sirota:

Following Republican shenanigans on the floor of the Senate tonight whereby the GOP filibustered Sen. John Warner's (R-VA) non-binding Iraq resolution, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) held a conference call to discuss exactly what the hell is going on. You can listen to a three-minute audio excerpt in Windows Media format here and MP3 format here - it is an exchange I had with Feingold about the power equation at work behind all the rhetoric coming out Washington.

After the election we had on November 7th and after polls have registered the public's deep anger at the President for trying to escalate the war, you would think Democrats would be pushing legislation with real teeth and not just non-binding nothingness, especially if the GOP was going to filibuster anyway. Well, you'd be wrong. In the audio excerpt, I asked Feingold if this is because of Ben Nelson-ism - that is, because of conservative Democrats who are willing to use a brinkmanship progressive senators rarely use. As you can hear, Feingold says it's even deeper - he says this is a battle between Democrats' Washington consultant class and the rest of the country - and he specifically targets the D.C. elites from the Clinton administration, who he accurately notes largely supported the war from the get-go.

In other news, The Hoohaa Monologues - but not for long.

00:52 GMT

Friday, 09 February 2007

Gelid blogging

I'm still surprised that the snow yesterday stuck long enough for me to take a picture.

I actually thought it was kinda cool that the Edwards campaign had picked Shakes and Amanda to run his online presence, but I thought he handled all the nonsense with the right-wing attacks rather badly. Really, he should have just said that people like Bill Donahue and Michelle Malkin are hate mongers who are in no position to pass judgment on anyone else. All this makes me wonder if he can hack it - there's no use backing someone who doesn't know what he's up against and how to fight it.

This is rather neat - the editor of the religious section of a paper gets complaints that he's paying too much attention to people who don't believe the right things, so he turns it around on them and asks for feedback. PZ Myers suggests you provide it.

Arthur Silber: "If a critical number of Americans do not protest in ways that finally cause our government to take notice and alter its course, it's over. This is why I repeat once again: now, it's up to the rest of us."

Well, it made me laugh....

19:57 GMT

Open windows

It turns out the Bush administration is just as good at preventing drug problems as it is at preventing teenagers from getting pregnant. And, y'know, I'd been wondering what happened to all those people arrested for demonstrating in NYC in 2004 during the Republican convention.... Oh, and in Italy, gay civil unions.

McCain and Schumer messing up the Internet. (And here.)

So, just how much is Wal-Mart's "support" for universal healthcare really worth? Not a lot.

Dean Baker wonders if Democrats are too dumb to breathe after an NYT article suggests that they are falling for right-wing rhetoric on Social Security and, apparently, don't know how it works.

Dangerstein and Connecticut's angry voters - the ones Ned Lamont wanted to represent (which, of course, was most of them, since most opposed the occupation).

One group of Americans for whom the Bush administration has been very good is the Ku Klux Klan. (Via another linky post by Twistedchick.)

I guess it's no surprise that Cheney's son-in-law is part of the toxic brew that's been trying to gum up any attempt at oversight of the Department of Homeland Security.

Arthur Sulzberger says he doesn't know and doesn't care whether the NYT will still exist in printed form five years from now. Gee.

What's all that stuff about Jet-Set Nancy? It's another non-story that the Republicans are trying to pretend Means Something about those San Francisco Plutocrat Values of Madame Speaker. (TPM has the whole business in more detail in several posts, but the link above has a short precis for those who haven't been keeping up.) (via)

02:28 GMT

Thursday, 08 February 2007

Lee Hoffman, 1932-2007

Patrick told me last night before I went to bed that Geri has announced that LeeH is gone. I still fondly remember the first time I met her and she gave me a copy of Savannah Grey and signed it (and I hadn't even known she'd written historical romances, among the many other things she'd done), and we talked, and I felt downright honored. Lee was part of the family, and special in more ways than I could ever explain. I suppose there are a few of us for whom this is a special moment of grieving, but we didn't own her. She lived one helluva life with connections everywhere, and lots of people loved her, and we can be glad for that.

Teresa has a few more links up.

(And speaking of late, great ladies, this is a terrific cartoon, which I think I found via FDL.)

15:10 GMT

Find the cure

Various items found at the TPM stables:

  • M.J. Rosenberg read The New Republic and got all worried about why they've gone all ghetto over Iran and alleged antisemitism (by Jews!): But here's my question. Why this sudden explosion of Jewish hysteria? Why, in the 21st century, have some Jews (around ten) in America gone all ghetto. This isn't Poland in 1940? Nor is it Israel just before the '67 war. What is all this terror about? And how do we keep the contagion from spreading? Think fast. The AIPAC conference is in March and the "Fear Factor" factor is going to rise dramatically. Jeez, I just scared myself!
  • No Abuse At Gitmo, Report Finds: "It's getting to be a familiar story. Soldier or Marine hears about detainee abuse; reports it up the chain of command; and the official investigation says no such abuse occurred."
  • How politicized is the Justice Department? A study of reported federal investigations of elected officials and candidates shows that the Bush administrations Justice Department pursues Democrats far more than Republicans. 79 percent of elected officials and candidates who've faced a federal investigation (a total of 379) between 2001 and 2006 were Democrats, the study found - only 18 percent were Republicans. During that period, Democrats made up 50 percent of elected officeholders and office seekers during the time period, and 41 percent were Republicans during that period, according to the study. "The chance of such a heavy Democratic-Republican imbalance occurring at random is 1 in 10,000," according to the study's authors.
  • More reasons to support the ethics reform bill: "US Senator Tom Coburn [R-OK] says he will not run for re-election if an ethics bill that's passed the Senate becomes law."


A big fat piece of liveblogging Waxman's House Hearings on Waste, Fraud and Abuse of Taxpayer Dollars over at Daily Kos by Progressive South is worth a look - a neat digest of some of the KBR/Halliburton/Blackwater scandals for those who didn't catch it on C-SPAN. (Send praise to for having the hearings. Contact your reps to let them know you want Truman Commission-style oversight and you want Halliburton to be cut off. Actually, Bush-Cheney should be impeached for this alone, even if there weren't dozens of other reasons.) Further updates in the comments.

Christopher Dodd goes after predatory lenders - I really hope we can go back to the anti-usury laws we used to have. This is all so wrong.

14:00 GMT

Fraud and other stories

Does this sound familiar?

In recent years, America has seen the implosion of several major corporations in a seeming explosion of corruption and fraud. Worldcom, Global Crossing, Tyco, and, of course, Enron have become watchwords for corporate corruption, and capitalism as a white collar crime. Few people understand how these frauds were perpetrated and, more importantly, why. The leaders of these companies had already reached the pinnacles of their professions, and would have made sums unimaginable to most people if they had run their businesses honestly and competently. Why did they throw it all away when the surety of eventually being caught and called to account seems, in hindsight, so obvious?

I can't really speak to the psychology of control fraud; I don't know that the psychology at its core is well understood, other than to posit elements of sociopathic behavior by the perpetrators. However, the methodology of white collar crime on the scale of these recent scandals is well documented and is known as control fraud. Control fraud occurs when conspirators are able to take control of an institution in order to exploit the trust and authority of the institution to convert its assets to personal use.

Go read the whole thing. (Thanks to Gail Davis (of) for the tip.)

Public policy lecturer Linda J. Bilmes has been caught indulging in the anti-American activity of reading public DoD websites and figuring out that the US has twice as many injured troops as the Pentagon claims. They reacted badly.

Henry Waxman wants to know: "Who in their right mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone? But that's exactly what our government did." They put a known embezzler in charge of that money, too. But of course, No One Could Have Predicted that anything could go wrong.

ep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) has introduced legislation requiring the Bush administration to disclose to what degree it relies on private military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mistrial declared in Watada court martial: "The court martial of Lt. Ehren Watada has been ruled a mistrial, because of a dispute over a pretrial agreement. Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz, called the ruling a "significantly positive event," and said he hoped it would put an end to the case. A date for a new court martial has been set for March 19 but lawyers for Watada said they hoped Wednesday's ruling would mark the end of proceedings.

Does the death penalty bring closure to victims' families? I doubt it. So do others.

Maybe the anti-gay agenda is caused by people who just don't know much about marriage.

Surely no one is camp enough to wear these clothes.

01:42 GMT

Wednesday, 07 February 2007

"A more dangerous engine of arbitrary government"

From The Magna Carta, 1215 AD:

(38) In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it.

+ (39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.

But, as Robert Parry points out, not for thee:
"A citizen, no less than an alien, can be an enemy combatant," administration lawyer David B. Salmons told a federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, on Feb. 1, adding that on such issues, the courts cannot interfere with the President's wartime judgments.

Salmons did pledge that the Executive Branch will use care in deciding who is designated an "enemy combatant." In response to one judge's question about the President applying the tag to an activist from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Salmons joked, "the representative of PETA can sleep well at night."

Nevertheless, Salmons argued that the judgment on who is deemed an "enemy combatant" is solely the discretion of President Bush. [NYT, Feb. 2, 2007]

That NYT article is "Judges Pose Questions on Bush Detainee Policy" by Adam Liptak. And, of course, a little help from Thom Hartmann.

23:36 GMT

Who killed the USA?

Commenter fourlegsgood brings us back in comments, so I went digging. Anyone remember when Zell Miller said this?

They are off the chart as far as being with the mainstream of America. I think the straw that broke the camel's back was the homeland security measure, when, time after time, John Kerry and the Democrats put collective bargaining above homeland security. That did it for me.
This is a bill Kerry had been for before he was against it. The original version said nothing about collective bargaining, so Kerry had no problem voting for it. (Not sayin' that's a good thing. Everyone should have had problems with every single bill passed under Bush/Cheney.) But George Walker Bush had threatened to veto it if it did not include language that allowed him to fire competent civil servants on a whim, so the cons and cowards dutifully provided votes for a bill that did that, too.

Miller, of course, was reversing reality with his formulation; it was George Bush who was putting collective bargaining - or the destruction thereof, and with it our form of government - ahead of national security. But then, Bush has never cared about our nation's security, anyway.

And so, Bush has been replacing those competent civil servants with people who hate America and treat government work like a way to collect lots of taxpayer's money without doing a damned thing for We The People. That's what all this is about. This is why Krugman says,*: "The ostensible reason for politicizing and privatizing was to promote the conservative ideal of smaller, more efficient government. But the small-government rhetoric was never sincere: from Day 1, the administration set out to create a vast new patronage machine."

They have been doing this from the very beginning. And, though I realize we have had many, many things to keep track of throughout this time, I'm still surprised that so few people seem to have picked up on it at the time. But it's why I believe that every single bill passed under this administration should be re-examined and, if possible, deep-sixed in favor of a clean bill, or at the very least cleaned up so that it is devoid of this crap.

20:40 GMT

Why we blog

Eric Boehlert on the media's shame:

In a sense, it was Watergate in reverse. Instead of digging for the truth, lots of journalists tried to bury it. The sad fact remains the press was deeply involved in the cover-up, as journalists reported White House denials regarding the Plame leak despite the fact scores of them received the leak and knew the White House was spreading rampant misinformation about an unfolding criminal case.
Via Jeralyn, who says:
I'd just note the role bloggers had in keeping the Plame investigation on their front pages. Firedoglake, Empty Wheel, Just One Minute, Needlenose and Left Coaster covered every detail, as did TalkLeft. True, we speculated and weren't always correct, but we never let the story or its implications die.
She also wonders, "Why Isn't Walter Pincus Being Called as a Witness?" and alerts us that Obama quit smoking for the campaign.

USA Today in Reefer Madness scandal! That is, it's a scandal that anyone prints crap like this. Oh, wait, corporate media, I forgot. Never mind.

Robert Scheer interviews Susan McDougal: The Woman Who Wouldn't Talk, at Truthdig. (Transcript and video.) "Even the Starr Report, at the end, had two references to Whitewater. In the entire Starr report! At the end. And it said [that there had been] no wrongdoing on the part of the Clintons having to do with Whitewater." (via)

18:14 GMT

I've been thinkin'

I just want to say: The trouble with the "incompetence" meme is that it assumes Bush/Cheney/GOP are operating on the same theory of government as the rest of us are. And while it's true that they hired people who were not competent to run government according to the agenda of the US Constitution, and that they have not run government competently if that was there intention, it is not at all reasonable to assume they have been incompetent at achieving what they wanted. I still think people should talk more about the fact that they are running the country into the ground just the way they wanted to.

Our friend Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy has started a new website called Day of Shame, looking at how and why we somehow got into a war that no one thinks makes any sense.

Glenn Greenwald has accepted a spot at Salon, and it appears he's gotten a little (not a lot) of flack about accepting a job. So he said a few things about Blogs, alternative political systems, funding, pointing out the need for more liberal/progessive journalists getting paid. I have written about this before, and I think it's important: The right-wing message is as powerful as it is because the right-wing ranters have a vast network of sugar daddies making sure that there is money to be had for shilling their side; they have their very own welfare program. Over on the left, however, most people are having to do it for love, which fine if you're lucky enough to be able to survive while doing so, but a lot of good people can't, and even when they can, their message hits a ceiling precisely because they get less respect from the mainstream media because they are "vanity" publishers - not paid by someone else. I don't know why Democratic funders and Soros and so on refuse to put their money behind liberal media, but they aren't forking over, so I recommend that if you can get paid for doing good, you take the money - and don't complain when someone else does, either.

And, in the wake of John Edwards tapping some experienced bloggers to manage the Edwards campaign's online presence, right-wingers have been attacking them for holding views that are not consistent with right-wing views and for using bad words, and Glenn points out that right wing campaigns are hardly squeaky clean.

I think the Have Kids Or Else marriage initiative is pretty entertaining, myself. I hope they have a public debate on it....

How dumb is this quiz?

15:40 GMT

A little bit of catch-up

Bill Scher quotes Krugman on how Bush is doing to America what he did in Iraq. (Here's another quote: How should the civil service be defeated? First and foremost, Heritage demanded that politics take precedence over know-how: the new administration "must make appointment decisions based on loyalty first and expertise second.") Also: This Ain't Bipartisanship, and the Dems should quit playing.

Bill O'Reilly is still disgusting. This is probably like John "Keating Five" McCain and campaign finance - you get all dirty in public and you have to do something to try to make yourself look a little cleaner again so that you can go back to being dirty without anyone paying attention.

Oh, great, now CNN does panels on atheism with no atheists. Is that fair and balanced, or what?

You know, I'd be happy to vote for a smart woman who I think would make a good president, but that person wouldn't be doing this crap. (Now, I wonder: Is Gore going to make a speech about why we mustn't attack Iran?)

Consensual warfare.

How threatened did this make you feel? There's just so much.... (Also:Prayer in the schools: a modest proposal.)

Time for a massively linky post from Ampersand.

A gorgeous photo. (Also: How to explain US politics to kids.)

00:39 GMT

Tuesday, 06 February 2007

And boy are my arms tired....

I went here. I brought my laptop on the train, but the on-board WiFi turned out to be worse than dial-up. The company for dinner when I got to Edinburgh** was good, though. (But I ate too much.) My ability to remember to take out my camera was mostly on vacation. But on the way up I took some not terribly wonderful pictures of what was a beautiful sunset north of York, and coming back I took a few shots of Newcastle. Of course, I completely fell down on the job going through Berwick while I was all mesmerized looking at it, and I had other things on my mind while I was actually in Edinburgh. The anti-porn people are still a drag - I really wish they would stop pretending they've read research that doesn't exist. (And Ray Wyre is getting a bit incoherent.)

22:33 GMT

Monday, 05 February 2007

Good morning, campers!

Here's Bill Scher's HuffPo piece from the other day on how the conservatives are Crippling Our Civil Service. Back at his own digs, Bill looks at Hillary Clinton on Iran, and what everyone else said about it on the Sunday talk shows.

Digby says Cheney seems to think he is a fourth branch of government with his very own super powers. "I assumed that Cheney believed the power of the Vice President (such as it is) derived from the executive branch. Apparently, however, he believes the office of the Vice President has power of its own that derives from both the legislative and executive branch." Read this, it's downright spooky.

This Mick LaSalle thing, The Event, looks like it might be interesting: "Imagine if everything the Religious Right believes about the End Times is true, except the Rapture doesn't take them and the antichrist turns out to be their favorite politician . . . That's the story of The Event, which will be serialized on this space, one Episode per week, over the next few months." It's gotta be better than that other thing.

Think Progress reports that three high-ranking US military officials have written a letter to The Sunday Times urging that a disastrous confrontation with Iran be averted by diplomatic means. According to The Jerusalem Post, "They said Britain "has a vital role to play in securing a renewed diplomatic push," and urged Prime Minister Tony Blair to make it clear he would oppose any military attack on Iran." And Dick Armey says he regrets voting for the Iraq resolution.

11:29 GMT

Sunday, 04 February 2007

Baby I need your lovin'

Howard Zinn on Impeachment by the People:

The Declaration of Independence, revered as a document but ignored as a guide to action, needs to be read from pulpits and podiums, on street corners and community radio stations throughout the nation. Its words, forgotten for over two centuries, need to become a call to action for the first time since it was read aloud to crowds in the early excited days of the American Revolution: "Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and institute new government."

The "ends" referred to in the Declaration are the equal right of all to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

That comes via Tennessee Guerilla Women, where you can also find the video of "We Have to Impeach the President" (the dance version), as well as the news that Independents now outnumber Republicans. according to a Gallup poll (and more evidence that Ford was the wrong candidate for Tennessee, not because he was too black, but because he was too conservative). And this billboard. And I know I keep forgetting to link to Molly's last column. And lots of other stuff.

Frank Rich talking about Why Dick Cheney Cracked Up, with all the usual disclaimers about Frank Rich being, perhaps, the sane edge of the media borg, but still part of it.

Thanks to Chris in comments for alerting me that there's not much job satisfaction at Homeland Security.

Just a little reminder from Alex of what we are dealing with. Don't forget to fight back every single time.

Oh, yeah, here's the Johnny Rivers version - it's still a great tune.

19:24 GMT

Sunday scan

Simone Perele Delices half cup braBra of the week

Oh, great, talk about bringing the war home. Steve Gilliard says: "Yeah, I guess that idea of fighting them over there didn't work so well. They're now fighting each other over here." (Also: Dining in Iraq, and the hand that feeds 'em.)

There seems to be a bit of confusion amongst the public about what the role of religion is in the US, but these numbers appear to be saying that Americans want less of it. (via)

I'm not going to weigh in on the political leanings of 24, but I still don't see how anyone can perceive The West Wing as a particularly liberal show - unless by "liberal" you mean "Not trying to overthrow the Constitution". Can you remember there ever being a liberal argument to counteract the conservative arguments about issues on that show? I certainly remember the case for the conservative policy being made in some detail. Remember when Donna kept asking for her tax back? What was Josh's explanation for why not? "Because we're Democrats!" Yeah, there's a real liberal argument. And Ainsley Hayes - good god, they introduce her as if she's Ann Coulter, and then they end up hiring her in a Democratic administration and treat her like she is not a crackpot. (She has crackpot conservative ideas, but the nice little Democrats are charmed by them. Because, unlike Ann Coulter, she doesn't spend half her time advocating that they all be killed.) The fact is that the only policies that were ever argued for on that show were conservative, and they were never treated as nuts - they usually ended up either winning the argument or being flipped off for reasons that had precious little to do with the actual impact they would have on the country and its people. It ended up being well right of center. The fact that conservatives perceived it as "liberal" just shows how far right those people really are.

George Soros: ""America needs to follow the policies it has introduced in Germany," Soros said. "We have to go through a certain de-Nazification process."" Meat for the wingers, but he's right.

17:20 GMT

Do it for Israel

My thanks to commenter KS for calling my attention to Glenn Greenwald's post "Enforced orthodoxies and Iran":

On Thursday, the neoconservative New York Sun published a remarkable article reporting on an event to be held that night by AIPAC, at which Hillary Clinton was to deliver the keynote address and John Edwards was to appear at the pre-speech cocktail party. The article made several points which are typically deemed off-limits to opponents of neoconservatism -- ones which almost invariably provoke accusations of anti-semitism when made by others.


So, according to The New York Sun (and the sources it cites): (1) financial support from groups like AIPAC is indispensable for presidential candidates; (2) the New York Jewish community of "influential" donors is a key part of the "ATM for American politicians"; (3) the issue which they care about most is Iran; and (4) they want a hawkish, hard-line position taken against Iran. And the presidential candidates -- such as Clinton and Edwards -- are embracing AIPAC's anti-Iran position in order to curry favor with that group.

If any public figure made those same points, they would be excoriated, accused of all sorts of heinous crimes, and forced into repentance rituals (ask Wes Clark). But this is what the New York Sun reported on Thursday.

So, although anyone who doesn't support continuing and expanding our aggression in the Middle-East is excoriated as an antisemite for saying so, a right-wing paper freely points out that our legislators seem to be in thrall to a moneyed Jewish lobby that is pushing that aggressive, militaristic agenda.

Yet, as Glenn points out, this agenda is not supported by most Jews in America and is highly controversial in Israel itself. Its most vociferous proponents are not Jews, but greedy oil men who want control of the Middle-East's oil, and antisemitic Christianist Zionists who want a world-ending conflagration to take place in the Middle-East.

Glenn makes a vital point when he says:

If part of our motivation in confronting Iran is that Iran is a threat to Israel, then we should declare that openly and debate whether that is wise. That topic cannot be rendered off-limits by toxic and manipulative anti-semitism accusations. All the time, Americans openly debate the influence which all sorts of interest groups have on government policy. There is nothing, in substance, different about this topic.
Indeed. And many of us probably made a mistake four years ago in failing to state loudly what we thought was so obvious it didn't need saying: Any increase in tensions in the Middle-East endangers Israel. This was, of course, part of what we were saying when we warned that invading Iraq would further destabilize the region.

There is no advantage to Israel in having its neighbors in violent turmoil to begin with - even less so if they believe they are the victims of a murderous campaign against them on Israel's behalf. There are far too many ways that such warfare can only end up with Israel the loser. The likelihood of any other outcome is slim; stoking the hatred of the Muslim world can only increase the likelihood that violence will overcome Israel's defenses.

If AIPAC is actively supporting candidates who oppose diplomacy, and thus actively working against a peaceful resolution in the Middle-East, then AIPAC is encouraging conditions that will most likely lead to the downfall of both Israel and America.

And all of our leading politicians, on both sides of the aisle, are hustling for AIPAC's money and essentially sucking up to the neocon cause.

I'm beginning to wonder if this insanity isn't what some people mean when they talk about "serious" critics of the war - that you have to support military aggression in the Middle-East because some crazy people have decided that such aggression will protect Israel, and therefore the only legitimate criticism is criticism of the way that aggression is carried out. That is, it's okay to criticize the administration for failing to fight a war to win it and failing to install democracy, but it's not really OK to criticize the administration for using US military aggression on behalf of Israel.

And that points to our real mistake: Not saying loudly enough that our military aggression endangers Israel.

I don't know if it's possible to put opposing pressure on AIPAC itself, but we need to get across to our representatives - and our candidates - that we see support for attacks on Iran as a threat to Israel, and we don't like it. They have to feel the counter-push if they are going to be moved.

13:26 GMT

Saturday, 03 February 2007

Things we read today

Okay, it's good news that Florida has decided to go back to paper ballots, right? Except that now they will all be optically scanned. Like they were before in many of those districts that had the mysterious results, in 2004, and in 2000. Because it doesn't matter if you have paper ballots if you never count them by hand. Machines can lie. Just because they are purportedly reading ballots doesn't mean they can't lie, or that the people who give you the figures don't lie, or whatever. Ordinarily, the only way these ballots will ever get counted by hand is if there is a recount. Now, it's nice that there will actually be paper ballots to recount, but recounts don't happen automatically, they happen when elections are very close. If you lie about the results and claim the election is not close, you can still escape a recount. (Some states have even passed laws forbidding recounts.) So, back to my familiar refrain: paper ballots, hand-counted in front of God and everyone, in the precinct, on the night.

Meanwhile, in Ohio, the new Secretary of State and the new Attorney General say they will not fight suits brought against Blackwell's criminality in previous elections there. And there are a lot of law suits. (via)

(By the way, I don't know why anyone is talking about whether Wolf Blitzer was out of line when he asked Cheney for a response to Dobson's attack on his daughter. I think people should be talking about what an appalling man Dick Cheney is for refusing to stand up for his daughter against reprehensible scum like James Dobson. If it were my daughter, you can be sure I'd be having a few things to say about Dobson.)

Laura Rozen points out that Gates is implying that most of the IEDs responsible for US casualties in Iraq are coming from Iran - although, in fact, the Pentagon doesn't even have an estimate of what percentage of the IEDs come from Iran. Hm. (via)

Simon Hoggart in the Guardian leads with the question, "Can we be sure Blair will go this year?" which is something the rest of us are wondering about, too. His evidence: "Did you hear Tony Blair on the Today programme yesterday morning? I wonder if he really is going to go. He repeated that he'd leave not this summer, but "in the life of this parliament". He returned to banging on about the reforms he still wanted to make. (Which, it was implicit, Gordon Brown could make, but wouldn't). He spoke with pride and relish about his busy day. Iraq! Lords reform! School playing fields! He could still be around this time next year. He certainly wants to be." Nooooooooooooooo! But the rest of his column is about Molly, and he has a characteristic little anecdote about her.

A linky post by The Guest of 604 directs my attention to a rather neat retroactive use of our new embrace of torture: "Police in California, New York and Florida arrested eight former Black Panthers earlier this week on charges related to the 1971 killing of a San Francisco police officer. Charges were thrown out in 1974 after it was revealed police used torture to extract confessions in the case." (Also: Boy, Mitt Romney sure must love those insurance companies.)

23:36 GMT

Food for thought

Everyone should check out Ezra's interview with John Edwards - and yes, he did press him on his remarks and position regarding Iran. Ezra has digested it down to a couple of paragraphs in a blog post, too. (He also examines the question, "Is Israel Bad For The Jews?")

So I guess the whole immigration thing can now be used as an excuse to attack labor unions. It seems to be an official policy, even though it contravenes the law and, of course, is entirely contraindicated for the disease: "As Perlstein points out, the notion makes little to no sense. Earth to Myers: unions don't employ, they organize. It's companies that employ -- and under federal law (the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, or IRCA), they're the ones who are (theoretically) on the hook for knowingly hiring illegal alien workers; the same law specifically exempts unions, which organize workers after they're hired." The administration's goal is cheap labor (and immoral power for the rich), and to get it they will encourage the hiring of illegal immigrants and the mistreatment of all workers. (Also at Newsrack, check out the astronaut's photo.)

Skimble on Lepers of the financial world: "We wrote about First Command, the predatory financial company that preyed on young US soldiers, many times before. ... Now the firm is finally suffering for its anti-American behavior. Payback is a bitch, isn't it?" Plus more Cheney poetry. And a note on wealth transfer. And: "What sheep call the Rapture, that is the slaughterhouse."

I can't seem to get enough of these great tributes to Molly - and here's one from her editor, via Rising Hegemon.

13:59 GMT

More love for Molly

Atrios has the Molly quotes from Krugman's column (from behind the pay-wall*) demonstrating that she was right for the right reasons when Chait and everyone else were busy being so stupidly wrong. Here's a bit of the actual Krugman:

So Molly Ivins - who didn't mingle with the great and famous, didn't have sources high in the administration, and never claimed special expertise on national security or the Middle East - got almost everything right. Meanwhile, how did those who did have all those credentials do?

With very few exceptions, they got everything wrong. They bought the obviously cooked case for war - or found their own reasons to endorse the invasion. They didn't see the folly of the venture, which was almost as obvious in prospect as it is with the benefit of hindsight. And they took years to realize that everything we were being told about progress in Iraq was a lie.

Was Molly smarter than all the experts? No, she was just braver. The administration's exploitation of 9/11 created an environment in which it took a lot of courage to see and say the obvious.

Molly had that courage; not enough others can say the same.

Atrios also pointed to the Rude One's very fine piece on Molly, and Pierce's, as well.

01:06 GMT

Friday, 02 February 2007

Assorted stuff

Check out Christopher Hayes' article from last December in The Nation on the real problem with earmarks.

Deep Confusion has two minutes of Russ Feingold explaining the hearing process on Iraq getting underway inside the beltway, and a great quote from Charlie Rangel on Bush: "Well, I really think he shatters the myth of white supremacy once and for all."

You know, I think Ralph is on to something with his analysis of what Bush/Cheney is up to in the Middle-East.

Shakespeare's Sister on why she has accepted a gig with the Edwards campaign. Yes, we have noticed that the answer to "Where are all the female bloggers?" is soon going to be, "Working for John Edwards." (Not me, of course.)

That comet tail is now so huge that they had to take a picture of both hemispheres to get most of it in. (And while you're there, check out the pix of Thor's Helmet and the Flame Nebula Close-Up.)

At first I thought it was good that Maru moved over to the new Blogger and all, but what's with the huge gap in this post about how embarrassing it is to be Sean Hannity?

Thanks to both Scorpio and Dominic for tipping me off to the Enlightened silicon nerve bra.

23:50 GMT

We still want the media

I heard this guy interviewed on Sam Seder's show Wednesday*, and he was talking about how the FCC is trying again to allow more media consolidation - basically, to remove all restrictions on a single media company dominating any and all markets. That means it's time for everybody to start leaning on your reps about how we need to roll back to the pre-Murdoch limits on media ownership. This is a tough issue for legislators, because if media owners get pissed off at them, they are likely to be targets of the media thereafter. Of course, if your reps are Democrats, that's not really an issue, is it - they are already targets by virtue of that "D" after their names. Here are a few links for reviews of the book, interviews of him by others, and where you can hear Robert McChesney, too.

18:48 GMT

Events in London - and voting machines

Kevin Grandia asked me to alert people to something going on in London on Monday. Unfortunately, I have something else I have to do Monday, so if anyone else is free, you might want to think about doing this. Kevin writes:

I have an urgent call to action for our UK blogging, media and activist friends.

There is a Canadian Exxon-funded think tank readying to launch an attack on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on Monday, February 5th at 10am at the Atrium Restaurant (across from the Houses of Parliament, Four Millbank, Westminster.

Here's the info, with backgrounders on the group, we need people down there to get out the message about who these guys really are. [Link]

I'm stuck halfway around the world and cannot attend. If even just 5 people to print off copies of the briefing note I have prepared and be there to hand it out to meeting -- anybody can go. And, trust me, you will really be making a difference.

Here's a PDF of the briefing note: [Link]

Another London event I can't get to is a free screening of Hacking Democracy on Tuesday evening at Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, Wilkins Building, University College, London. There are also speakers and a workshop on Thursday.

I see the Black Box Voting report is posted at Politech, too - have a look.

16:57 GMT


Making Light seems to be back, and Patrick's Sidelights note a New, free Richard Thompson song about Iraq.

In The New York Times the other day, James Bamford was on the op-ed page saying, "Bush Is Not Above the Law: LAST August, a federal judge found that the president of the United States broke the law, committed a serious felony and violated the Constitution. Had the president been an ordinary citizen - someone charged with bank robbery or income tax evasion - the wheels of justice would have immediately begun to turn. The F.B.I. would have conducted an investigation, a United States attorney's office would have impaneled a grand jury and charges would have been brought. But under the Bush Justice Department, no F.B.I. agents were ever dispatched to padlock White House files or knock on doors and no federal prosecutors ever opened a case. ... To allow a president to break the law and commit a felony for more than five years without even a formal independent investigation would be the ultimate subversion of the Constitution and the rule of law. As Judge Taylor warned in her decision, "There are no hereditary kings in America."

Cernig says: "Afghanistan Grants Taliban Immunity. So we have Pakistan funding and sheltering Al Qaeda and the Taliban and now the Afghans have basically pardoned Mullah Omar. We've backed the Afghanis into a corner by dint of the distracting and senseless adventure in Iraq and it would take a moron not to work out that the U.S. is looking to ignore them further while Bush pursues his next war with Iran over likewise trumped-up reasons."

Mark Adams is concerned with Hillary's Hacktacularness, and so am I. If these people don't get their act together fast, we will be bombing Iran real soon now. Look, Bush has told you flat-out that there is only one way to stop him, and you'd better do it. And, you, my dear readers, really need to let your reps [Senate, House - and don't forget to work locally] know that you can see what everyone else can see because we don't all hang out with the Washington press corps and we can think our way out of a paper bag.

Joe has a clip from a TV show I never saw called The Charmings, that teaches you all about how to get into debt - it's the American way!

A message from The Ministry of Love.

Nice little tribute to Molly from Ezra, and here she is talking about free speech: "Have A Good Time While You're Fighting For Freedom" - Remembering Molly Ivins."

13:56 GMT


I just heard Jim Hightower on the radio say that when the KKK came to town, Molly Ivins decided the thing to do was to greet them properly, so she got some people together and went down and mooned them. (Meanwhile, I liked Berlin Niebuhr's comment on Molly's departure: "The collective IQ of Texans was just cut in half.")

Patrick Nielsen Hayden wishes to make the following known:

"If you can't reach Making Light, or perhaps several blogs tonight, it's because of an upstream routing error that's affecting traffic between Hosting Matters and parts of the net, notably the US Northeast. We have no idea how soon it'll be fixed."

02:22 GMT

Thursday, 01 February 2007

A couple of things

There is no one on the political scene in America who is as far left as William Kirstol is far right, and few people anywhere can be said to be as destructively partisan. He doesn't care if what he does hurts the country as long as it furthers his purposes. So Eric has some questions in "Kristolizing the (Neoconservative) Moment, "Why then, despite his poor record as a prognosticator and his penchant for poisonous political rhetoric, does he remain the darling of so many MSM editors and producers? Why did Time, which already suffers from a surfeit of liberal-hating McCarthyite pundits like Andrew Sullivan (who's leaving), Charles Krauthammer and Joe Klein, choose to add one with even fewer journalistic bona fides and less credibility? Is it the job only of liberals to insure the fealty of the mainstream media to their professed goals of presenting truth in a genuinely fair and balanced fashion? Or is that goal now so quaint that somehow a right-wing holy warrior can be said to fit the bill?" I think it's awfully late to ask that question.

Satanic abuse comes to the White House. You remember the case where children were supposedly being taken to be ritually abused in tunnels under the school that no one could find any evidence of? And all these girls who were supposedly raped by their teachers (and even been impregnated!) still had their hymens intact and no signs of abuse? And that this proved there was Satanic abuse because Satan had removed the evidence? Well, now that's how we know Iran is behind all the problems we're having - because there's no evidence of their having anything to do with it.

17:36 GMT

Catch-up blogging

Sorry, I had to write a submission and plan a trip in a hurry, so I was a bit distracted.

Whatever happened to all those nice libertoonian boys who were so upset about Carnivore? Got anything to say about the full pipe technique? "What they're doing is even worse than Carnivore," said Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who attended the Stanford event. "What they're doing is intercepting everyone and then choosing their targets." (via)

Obama gave a good response to Biden's stupid remark.

The Mipple-Stipple Star Tribune says Al Franken says he's running for the Senate: "Comedian and radio talk show host Al Franken has begun calling Democratic members of Congress and prominent DFLers to tell them he will definitely challenge Republican Sen. Norm Coleman in 2008, the Star Tribune has learned." (But, on the radio, Sam Seder says Franken ain't talkin' around the house.) (via)

Digby spots the marching trolls and "our Betters". Plus: Chris Matthews is afraid of girls!

It's not just that David Brooks hates Americans and the Constitution that sticks in my craw, it's that he pretends to be speaking for "Americans" when he does it. (Someone really needs to ask this guy why, if he loves The Great Heartland so much, he doesn't live in it.) Glenn Greenwald reports.

Don't you love it that Mary Matalin is in the mix of Plamegate? This whole thing is turning out to be much more fun than I expected, and is turning up enough dirt for a whole new round of indictments.

Bob Devney dropped a link to his favorite Molly Ivins piece in comments. Daniel DiRito has Molly on video. Newscoma has a more recent photo than I used, and mourns. MadKane has a tribute to the Great Molly Ivins.

I seem to have missed Richard Bruce Cheney's birthday the other day. Oh, well, The Rude Pundit didn't.

We'd like to say a hearty hello to our reader(s) at the Attorney General's office.*

15:31 GMT

Farewell, Molly

I confess, I was struck dumb earlier today by the news that Joe Biden had self-immolated by turning into the butt of one of my favorite comedy routines - the well-meaning white guy who thinks it's a real compliment to call a black person "articulate". But now I have trouble coming up with the right words for a reason that just isn't that funny.

I loved Molly Ivins. I have a whole speech of hers about censorship on tape from a conference on that subject back in the early '90s, and I've listened to it more than once, just because she's so great to listen to. Smart, funny, insightful, and a marvellous repository of Texas political history, she was one of those people who remind you why you ever cared about journalism. And she was a special gift to those of us who love language.

Molly died a few hours ago in Austin. We knew she was battling breast cancer and we hoped she'd make it. But now she's gone, and we're sure going to miss her.

00:42 GMT

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, February 2007

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