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Thursday, 31 January 2008

Dancing on the edge

Naturally, it was Charlie Savage who wrote the article about Bush's latest outrageous signing statement while other papers mostly ignored it. Bush has now declared that he has the power to decide whether Congress can control the purse strings. He also says they can't stop him from building permanent bases in Iraq, a tacit admission that he's been lying all along about not building them. He also says Congress can't stop him from stealing Iraq's oil.

First he doesn't know if waterboarding is torture, and then he doesn't know whether Bush violated FISA - which is pretty funny, considering that Bush has bragged about having done so. Gee, isn't it nice to have Attorneys General who don't know anything?

The Keating 5: "In 1989, the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association of Irvine, Calif., collapsed. Lincoln's chairman, Charles H. Keating Jr., was faulted for the thrift's failure. Keating, however, told the House Banking Committee that the FHLBB and its former chief Edwin J. Gray were pursuing a vendetta against him. Gray testified that several U.S. senators had approached him and requested that he ease off on the Lincoln investigation. It came out that these senators had been beneficiaries of $1.3 million (collective total) in campaign contributions from Keating." And one of them looks likely to be the Republican nominee.

Sara Robinson, posting at The Group News Blog, "The GOP: From Big Tent to Three-Ring Circus".

Thanks to Aaron for reminding me about Transmetropolitan, the Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson series about a Hunter Thompson-like journalist who supports the opponent of a Nixonesque incumbent, only to find out he's a Tony Blair.

"If you're in New York on Monday, you might want to go down to Bleeker and check out Rachel Maddow at Shoot the Messenger at the Green Room Theater.

"What Have The Unions Ever Done For Us?"

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17:41 GMT


A mixed bag

At Blah3, Stranger's response to Edwards' withdrawal is to say, "The Democratic Party hates me," and dedalus reckons he's only got one choice out of what remains. Rachel Maddow was pretty upset about it all, and devoted her show last night to it - you can hear last night's stream here.

Lambert says don't despair, because Edwards gave us our script: "So, at every opportunity, we get to ask Hilbama the question: Senator, how will that help you fulfill your pledge to John Edwards to make ending poverty central to your campaign?" And anyway, Edwards' campaign is only "suspended", it's not a complete withdrawal, and in many states you can still vote for him.

The excellent Dana Priest continues to look at the effects of the war on our returning troops, once again at Walter Reid. "Soldier Suicides at Record Level: The Army was unprepared for the high number of suicides and cases of post-traumatic stress disorder among its troops, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have continued far longer than anticipated. Many Army posts still do not offer enough individual counseling and some soldiers suffering psychological problems complain that they are stigmatized by commanders. Over the past year, four high-level commissions have recommended reforms and Congress has given the military hundreds of millions of dollars to improve its mental health care, but critics charge that significant progress has not been made." (Thanks to Ruth.)

You've come a long way, baby - and the harassment of Dr. George Tiller, OB/GYN, continues, as he is ordered to turn over 20,000 private patient files by a grand jury in Kansas.

Naked Launch - Dan Cooper on the riotous pleasure of working with Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes (the hideous one), and being dicked around on a grand scale while doing something he knew was horrible with people he couldn't stand. "I stared at Richard. For a long time. I sat up and leaned in close to him, face to face. I made the connections. Ailes knew I had given Brock the interview. Certainly Brock didn't tell him. Of course. Fox News had gotten Brock's telephone records from the phone company, and my phone number was on the list. Deep in the bowels of 1211 Avenue of the Americas, News Corporation's New York headquarters, was what Roger called The Brain Room. Most people thought it was simply the research department of Fox News. But unlike virtually everybody else, because I had to design and build the Brain Room, I knew it also housed a counterintelligence and black ops office. So accessing phone records was easy pie." (Thanks to Charles for the tip.)

Meanwhile, Phoenix Woman says the networks are getting antsy now that the strike has gone on long enough to drive viewers away, and Fox is disappointed that the primary season isn't quite the bonanza they were hoping for because the Dems are refusing to play.

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13:05 GMT


The sheep look up, and are not fed

Yeah, I went out and took a walk and didn't feel like blogging for a while. I wonder if Edwards got promises out of both Obama and Clinton for a cabinet post....

Public Information Under Attack - that being a presidential library open to the public in the usual way. Bush wants to hide the dirt - behind a church. Sleazy in both directions. And the Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court comes down in favor of reviewing evidence to safeguard the accused against wrongful convictions.

A "clear demonstration of the difference between legal "ethics" and real ones."

Palast: "In his State of the Union, the President asked Congress for $300 million for poor kids in the inner city. As there are, officially, 15 million children in America living in poverty, how much is that per child? Correct! $20."

I see Al Wynn managed to win Atrios' Wanker of the Day award last night after filing a completely baseless FEC complaint against SEIU, the League of Conservation Voters, Friends of the Earth, Anna Burger, EMILY's List, the Arca Foundation, ACORN, and the Tides Foundation for violations that no one can find. He accused them of being a vast, left-wing conspiracy for supporting Donna Edwards. Join the vast, left-wing conspiracy!

Digby says Bloomberg may really be serious about running for president: "So, from the looks of things we may very well have a race with three candidates who will try to out non-partisan each other. And perhaps that's what the people really do want. After all, it is unpleasant to be fighting all the time. Maybe people really are clamoring for the congress to just stop complaining, start compromising and pass legislation that the president can sign."

Tragic math: "Injured is such a wimpy word. I remember seeing on public transportation in France back in the late 60s the notice that we were to yield seats to the "mutilés de guerre"--those mutilated by war. Believe me, I do not have a photographic memory. That phrase, however, is obviously going to haunt me for the rest of my life." (Which made me think of this song, but I'm not allowed to listen to it from the UK.)

No Ponies for Holden.

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00:14 GMT


Wednesday, 30 January 2008

But if I really say it, the radio won't play it

So, Edwards dropped out of the race, and I still don't like Hillary and Obama all that much. And I don't think changing the physical shape or color of a president is going to do much for you and me, let alone all those people who can't even vote in this election. So what do I do, now?

Listening to all the hubbub about the Kennedys endorsing Obama, I can't help noticing that most of the rhetoric harkens to something many in the younger generation simply won't recall. Like Caroline Kennedy herself, comparing Obama to a father she may remember but a president she was too young to know in his lifetime, though she played under his desk, they are speaking to that older generation who, so far, has seemed less susceptible to the Obama charm. This, we've been told, is a candidate who, remarkably, appeals to those young voters who candidates only wish they could court. The Clintons were supposed to appeal to the post-war Baby Boom generation, the one that actually still remembers where they were when they heard the news that November 22nd. Bill Clinton's campaign had been based in large part on an image of Kennedy having passed him the torch. And now Ted Kennedy - whose stature and symbolism both loom large for that generation, although Jon Stewart makes merciless fun of him - is saying he's gone over to Obama, too.

The whole show is pretty impressive, I must say - but then, I, too, remember the announcement over the school loudspeaker that day, and picking my books up to walk out of class. (I also remember being relieved that I was getting out of gym class.) There's lots of talk of hope and change, and while the Obama campaign and its high-profile supporters say nothing about it publicly, the media is all over the idea that this is about rejecting the Clintons.

Reading David Brooks' column today in the NYT, Matt Yglesias has a sharp insight on all this:

The effort here is to somehow bracket the Bush years as just some kind of goofy one-off that we can forget about and remember that the real issue -- as it so often seems to be here in Washington -- is Bill Clinton's sex life. Or something.

It's all pretty inane. I've developed an increasingly strong preference for Obama in this race, but there's no gaping substantive void between them policywise.

Matt also thinks the reason so many "moderate" right-wingers seem to like Obama so much has to do with the fact that they don't really think he will be the nominee - that it'll be Clinton, and then they can all sit around and explain how the Democrats blew it by nominating someone who forced them to vote for a Republican.

Paul Street reckons the whole Obama thing is an illusion:

So what sorts of policies and values could one expect from an imagined Obama presidency? There is quite a bit already in Obama's short national career that has to be placed in the "never mind" category if one is to seriously to believe his claim (cautiously advanced in The Audacity of Hope) to be a "progressive" concerned with "social and economic justice" and global peace.

Never mind, for example, that Obama was recently hailed as a "Hamiltonian" believer in "limited government" and "free trade" by Republican New York Times columnist David Brooks, who praises Obama for having "a mentality formed by globalization, not the SDS." Or that he had to be shamed off the "New Democrat Directory" of the corporate-right Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) by the popular left black Internet magazine Black Commentator (Bruce Dixon, "Obama to Have Name Removed From DLC List," Black Commentator, June 26, 2003).

Never mind that Obama (consistent with Brooks's description of him) has lent his support to the aptly named Hamilton Project, formed by corporate-neoliberal Citigroup chair Robert Rubin and "other Wall Street Democrats" to counter populist rebellion against corporatist tendencies within the Democratic Party (David Sirota, "Mr. Obama Goes to Washington," the Nation, June 26). Or that he lent his politically influential and financially rewarding assistance to neoconservative pro-war Senator Joe Lieberman's ("D"-CT) struggle against the Democratic antiwar insurgent Ned Lamont. Or that Obama has supported other "mainstream Democrats" fighting antiwar progressives in primary races (see Alexander Cockburn, "Obama's Game," the Nation, April 24, 2006). Or that he criticized efforts to enact filibuster proceedings against reactionary Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

Never mind that Obama "dismissively" referred - in a "tone laced with contempt" - to the late progressive and populist U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone as "something of a gadfly." Or that he chose the neoconservative Lieberman to be his "assigned" mentor in the U.S. Senate. Or that "he posted a long article on the liberal blog Daily Kos criticizing attacks against lawmakers who voted for right-wing Supreme Court nominee John Roberts." Or that he opposed an amendment to the Bankruptcy Act that would have capped credit card interest rates at 30 percent. Or that he told Time magazine's Joe Klein last year that he'd never given any thought to Al Gore's widely discussed proposal to link a "carbon tax" on fossil fuels to targeted tax relief for the nation's millions of working poor (Joe Klein, "The Fresh Face," Time, October 17, 2006).

Never mind that Obama voted for a business-friendly "tort reform" bill that rolls back working peoples' ability to obtain reasonable redress and compensation from misbehaving corporations (Cockburn; Sirota). Or that Obama claims to oppose the introduction of single-payer national health insurance on the grounds that such a widely supported social-democratic change would lead to employment difficulties for workers in the private insurance industry - at places like Kaiser and Blue Cross Blue Shield (Sirota). Does Obama support the American scourge of racially disparate mass incarceration on the grounds that it provides work for tens of thousands of prison guards? Should the U.S. maintain the illegal operation of Iraq and pour half its federal budget into "defense" because of all the soldiers and other workers that find employment in imperial wars and the military-industrial complex? Does the "progressive" senator really need to be reminded of the large number of socially useful and healthy alternatives that exist for the investment of human labor power at home and abroad - wetlands preservation, urban ecological retrofitting, drug counseling, teaching, infrastructure building and repair, safe and affordable housing construction, the building of windmills and solar power facilities, etc.?

Shaun Mullen will hopefully cast his ballot for Obama next Tuesday, even though he knows that A Big Bowl of Symbolism Just Won't Do It. But I still don't feel the trust, you know?

A lot is said about how Obama and Clinton are now splitting the black vote, but there was still another candidate around, and he was much, much closer to the views of progressives and of the black community. But, as The Black Commentator points out in their current issue, he made a crucial mistake:

Edwards, however, is not blameless in this situation. It is not just what has been done to him, but what he failed to do VERY early on in his campaign. Edwards, much like Kucinich (in both the 2004 and 2008 Kucinich campaigns), fell prey to the historic "white populist error." What is this error, you ask? Simply put, it is the idea that unity will magically appear by building a campaign that attacks poverty and corporate abuse, supports unions and focuses on the challenges facing the working class, BUT IGNORES RACE AND GENDER.
Ouch. It's true, of course; Edwards hasn't openly courted the Rainbow Coalition, and it's had an impact. But it's an easy mistake to make, because once you grasp the relationships between the issues Edwards has been talking about and the ones he has left unspoken, it's easy to forget that once in a while you do need to point them out.

Even I don't really talk about it as much as I once did, because I've become so used to the fact that it's all one thing. For example, black people are disproportionately poor, which is of particular interest to the black community as a black issue, but the precarious position of poor and low-income whites is actually exacerbated by black disadvantage - and it all contributes to increasing anxiety for those above them. Much the same is true for women. And, as Joanna Russ pointed out, homophobia isn't just there to keep homosexuals in line, it's to keep all of us in line. And we can't do much about it unless we have the collective and economic power to be able to spit in the eye of the powerful interests who are working to keep us divided down.

Which is one reason I was prepared to forgive Edwards his errors.

I wonder if I can still vote for Gore....

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14:55 GMT


Wednesday morning, 2:00 AM

Jane Hamsher says there's been a 15 Day Extension on FISA passed so they can argue separately about the amendments. Keep those faxes and phone calls going out, folks!

MahaBarb has a nice round-up of reactions to the SOTU.

Steve M. wonders why the Army hates the troops so much that they instructed the DAV not to help disabled soldiers with their disability paperwork.

At first it seems like good news that California's Secretary of State is decertifying their voting machines, it turns out she's replacing them with...other voting machines. Yes, fine, it's good that optical scanners use paper ballots that are available for a recount if there is one, but the machines do the counting, and if there's no hand-count, there's no way to be sure the machines haven't created errors - or been hacked.

If I had money to throw away, I'd want to go to the Take Back America conference in March.

Additional study says the invasion and occupation of Iraq are responsible for over a million deaths.

Pam scoffs at The fantasy of a 'post-racial' election, but Jon Swift is all over it.

Susie explains consumer patterns, and notes that Bush has issued a signing statement asserting his right to ignore the ban on permanent bases in Iraq.

Without the white male vote, the Republicans aren't a viable political party.

Keith Olbermann on FISA and the SOTU.

The ALA is giving Orson Scott Card an award?

My Feeling the currents post generated some interesting discussion in comments. Carter's name came up a lot, interestingly.

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02:12 GMT


Tuesday, 29 January 2008

News and stuff

Jane is doing some entertaining liveblogging of the debate on the Bush/Cheney Get Out of Jail Free Bill over at FDL. And Marcy also says that Reid thanked Christy and McJoan for being among the people who helped the most on FISA. (Also: Schumer says they plan to fix the bankruptcy bill - next year.)

Yesterday, eRobin was having optimistic euphoria over the stim plan that actually looks like it has a chance of passing. It's not my stim plan, of course, but it's a more intelligent stimulus package than the White House wants, and it looks like the Republicans don't have the usual will to defeat it. (My stim plan includes good, old-fashioned public works to rebuild our infrastructure, thus employing millions of people in necessary renovations and giving them money to spend.)

The Washington Post isn't quite certain that we've seen Bush's last State of the Union speech, but they didn't seem to mind that prospect. John Nichols on The Sorry State of a Lame-Duck's Legacy: "So it was that the president delivered his final State of the Union address last night as a broken man whose partisan allies would not even wear the "I'm a Bush Republican" pins that had been delivered to their offices by a puckish critic of the president and his party." The speech just made Madison Guy want to throw rotten tomatoes. WaPo did a fact-check of "key assertions", but they left out a considerable number of them. Well, every sentence was a different lie, so I guess they couldn't get into the details. If you want to do your own hard-focus, here's text of the speech. Chris Dodd's response. Obama's response. John Edwards' response. Hillary's response.

Devilstower at DKos on The Other Baptists "As a born-again Southern Baptist who walked the aisle at twelve to the sounds of "Just As I Am," who lead youth groups, taught Sunday School, coached softball, and was only held out of the choir by the combined pleas of every single person within hearing range, I'm still aching over the course my church has taken the last three decades." As with all the other religious groups, it's the most reactionary bunch that makes all the noise. Via the ever-linky Twistedchick.

Josh Marshall told me to check The Washington Independent. Spencer Ackerman, Laura McGann, and Robert Borosage are posting there. McGann live-blogged the SOTU, entertainingly. (I was tempted to do it, but I kept flying off into a flurry of disgust. I was amazed to learn that I can still get angry at having to listen to him lie so much.) Also, check out Matt Mahurin's piece on California's Oily Justices who rule on cases involving companies they own stock in. Just totally open corruption.

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20:14 GMT


Feeling the currents

Watching the TPM Clinton Pile-on video it's hard to imagine what Bill Clinton thought he was doing - at this point you'd expect him to know better than to make any potentially racial reference whatsoever; you almost wonder if he's trying to undermine his wife's campaign.

Nevertheless, I thought a lot of the pundits were over-analyzing it. I know everyone likes to talk about what a genius of a politician/campaigner Bill Clinton was, but I never saw it. He was good at chumming up, and good at wonking - that is, he was a very charming guy who was good at demonstrating that he got into the details of policy - but that doesn't mean every word out of his mouth was carefully calculated. (If he'd been that good, he would have known better than to answer questions from the press about whether he'd had sex with Monica Lewinsky.)

Whenever you hear someone saying something like, "He's a professional lawyer/politician/writer/editor and he knows what his words will mean to people," you can assume they don't know what they're talking about. You ask the best wordsmith you have ever met whether they have ever said or written something they thought was clear and then had a whole bunch of people misconstrue it, they can all tell you about the disaster that ensued that time some innocent remark they made exploded into some Really Big Deal, destroyed friendships, created fissures in the landscape. I once plunged all of fandom into war that way.

Like most people, Bill Clinton tended to play to his strengths, but no one communicates so perfectly that they know what the impact of every word will be. Since his interactions with the press ultimately had such lousy results for him on Capitol Hill, you'd think this idea that he's some sort of brilliant calculator would have died the minute Kenneth Starr was appointed to persecute him and the media didn't even object. Clinton always seemed to me a smart guy who dug politics but was also perfectly able to be a screw-up.

And I think he just screwed up. I don't actually know what was going through his mind when he mentioned Jackson, but it might just have been a case of two broken thoughts getting together the wrong way - not trying to paint Obama as "the black candidate", but musing on the fact that SC is not a state where being white is necessarily an advantage, so a white candidate may have to work harder than they would in some other states. He's used to speaking openly about the political realities, and if that's what he was thinking about, it's not at all racist or underhanded, but he still should have known to keep his mouth shut.

On the other hand, I was pretty disgusted with Obama saying the Clintons were exemplifying the "partisanship" of the last 15 years. Every time he talks about this stuff he is echoing the right-wing meme that somehow it was the Clintons' fault, or the Democrats' fault, that the Republicans have been so vociferously partisan and aggressively divisive.

That doesn't change the fact that Hillary's campaign has pretty much terminally alienated a significant part of the anti-racist vote, (which, if I wasn't already pretty alienated, would mean me). There are a lot of people out there who really wanted to vote for the first woman president, but not if she can't restrain her campaign from creating suspiciously racist patterns in the public's mind. Whether she is party to it becomes irrelevant when it gives all the appearance of being a pattern; it means either it's what she wants, or she doesn't have enough control of her campaign. And if she can't maintain that much control of her campaign, what is she going to do with a whole country?

And yet, I can't help remembering that beautiful spring day in 1997, walking through Piccadilly and feeling such enormous relief at having kicked out the Conservatives, even though I knew that Blair's virtues were pure projection by his idealistic supporters and that he was much more likely to continue what the Tories had been doing. But they were all so sure that he'd bring...Change. I had hoped that the rest of the Labour Party could rein him in, and they didn't. Someone tried to tell me last night that America isn't England, but that's no solace - I've already seen how well the Democrats fight against conservatives; they've been much better at fighting against their own supporters. I share Roz's memories and fears, and dread what will happen if Obama does break your hearts.

I have this sister who spent most of the last 20 years living in South Central LA, passing as a black woman who can pass for white, skating on Venice Beach, raising a black son. She's been a feminist since the beginning of the movement in the late '60s, and I was IMing with her last night about how disgusting the whole Clinton campaign is turning out. I know she's got good economic analysis but I wasn't quite sure where she'd fall on this one - but then we both simultaneously sent messages to each other expressing our horror that, in a race that held the potential to give us the first black presidential nominee or the first female presidential nominee, we like the white guy.

It's astonishing to me, really. When I first saw Obama, he looked so beautiful and shining, and it was just so cool that he would be going to the Senate. And I didn't like Edwards at all - had a lot of reasons to be very down on him, in fact. But then something happened. I think the business in Ohio had a big impact on him, but I think what it's really about for him is that he loves his wife, and she's going to die, and it's completely changed his priorities. This is something they can do together that really matters.

And his learning curve has turned out to be pretty fast. It's as if the dam broke and he's taking in more and more, broadening his picture in wider and wider circles. He's made a lot of mistakes but he seems to learn from them. It wouldn't even surprise me to know that he's still kicking himself for not standing up for Amanda and Melissa.

I still think he adds a lot to the race. I don't think Hillary has the juice she did a few weeks ago, so I don't worry that his being there gives her any help; if anything, he seems to be drawing votes from Hillary. The DLC types may decide that they aren't going to get anywhere by staying hitched to her wagon, and throw their weight behind Obama as the more "centrist" choice against Edwards. And in the meantime, Edwards is opening Overton's Window toward the light, which gives all Democrats room to move in our direction. And that's really, really important.

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17:13 GMT


Good things in ugly packages

Glenn Greenwald live-blogged the FISA action yesterday. You should read the whole thing, but the short version is that the Tories introduced a premature cloture motion on the ugly bill that gives telecoms immunity, which would have meant there was no debate and no opportunity to present amendments before a straight up-or-down vote. The Dems got pissed off and decided to defend their Senate prerogatives by filibustering:

The vote was 48-45. Republicans missed by a whopping 12 votes to achieve cloture (60 votes needed for cloture). That's a pretty gaping defeat; the Democrats did well to stand together. Three Democratic Senators -- Ben Nelson (Nebraska), Blanche Lincoln, and Mark Pryor -- voted for cloture (Mary Landrieu originally voted for cloture, then apparently changed her vote). The rest of the Democrats (including Rockefeller, Reid, Clinton and Obama) voted in support of the filibuster, along with 1 lonely GOP Senator (Specter).

In one sense, this is an extremely mild victory, to put that generously. All this really means is that they will now proceed to debate and vote on the pending amendments to the bill, almost certainly defeat all of the meaningfully good ones, approve a couple of amendments which improve the bill in the most marginal ways, and then end up ultimately voting for a bill that contains both telecom immunity and warrantless eavesdropping. Moreover, it seems clear that Senate Republicans deliberately provoked this outcome and were hoping for it, by sabotaging what looked to be imminent Democratic capitulation so that Bush could accuse Democrats tonight of failing to pass a new FISA bill, thus helping their friend Osama.

Then they moved on to the motion to simply extend the Protect America Act for 30 days. All Democrats voted for cloture, and all Republicans filibustered. So the extension went down.
Reid, however, indicated that it was certain that the House will vote in favor of an extension tomorrow, which means it will be sent to the Senate for another vote. It's possible, then, that the Senate will vote again later in the week on an extension, but it's hard to imagine any Republicans ever voting in favor of an extension since Bush has vowed to veto it.

By blocking an extension, Republicans just basically assured that the PAA -- which they spent the last seven months shrilly insisting was crucial if we are going to be Saved from The Terrorists -- will expire on Friday without any new bill in place. Since the House is going out of session after tomorrow, there is no way to get a new bill in place before Friday. The Republicans, at Bush's behest, just knowingly deprived the intelligence community of a tool they have long claimed is so vital. Is the media going to understand and be able to explain what the Republicans just did? Yes, that's a rhetorical question.

This is a good outcome, especially if Dems have the brains to use the kind of language Glenn does (yeah, hope springs eternal), but those Democrats weren't doing all this for the right reasons, and they'd still have voted against the ameliorating amendments and for the ugly bill, telecom immunity and all, if the Republicans hadn't decided to play politics with it. You will recall they played a similar game to get the impeachment motion passed just for political games because the Democratic leadership was trying so hard to kill it. So we have a situation where the Democratic leaders are trying to defeat what's right and what their constituents want, and the Republicans are trying to embarrass them by making them "lose" - or win, depending on how you look at it. It's all politics for the Republicans, and fear of politics for the Democrats. In case anyone missed it, the entire episode is completely and utterly stupid. We still have only a small handful of people who are doing the right thing for the right reasons.

Nevertheless, it would be useful if everyone thanked every Democratic Senator you can think of (except for Ben Nelson (NE), Blanche Lincoln, and Mark Pryor) for not allowing telecoms immunity to pass, and ask them to keep up the good work. Pretend you don't know that most of them weren't trying to protect your rights, and just thank them for doing so as if that's what they actually intended. Thank them effusively. Maybe they'll like the way it feels enough to consider doing it for the right reasons next time.

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14:03 GMT


Monday, 28 January 2008

On the landscape

European Tribune reports that, "In Asia Times Online, the inestimable Henry C. K. Liu lays out the terrifying reality of where the world financial crisis is headed." And that there's no choice but hyperinflation or depression. (Thanks to Bruce F for the tip.)

It's really no surprise by now to be told that Bush blew it in Afghanistan. And everywhere else, too. With the result that we are not Number One. George Bush and his little friends have won - they conquered America and left it in ruin, and made sure the whole world knows it.

Good point from Atrios: Although the process is messed up and corruption abounds, it's not earmarks in and of themselves that are bad - some earmarks are okay.

Miriam hadn't been back to New Orleans since her honeymoon in the spring of 2005, but she finally went, and took her camera. Via No Capital (and thanks to Ruth for the tip).

StarShipSofa is doing audio podcasts of science fiction stories.

What Joe Haldeman thinks of Starship Troopers and some other things. (via)

Oooh, have you seen the Google logo today? Cute. I'm amazed that no one mentioned this to me.

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23:44 GMT


Hieroglyphics

Hillary's statement on FISA: "I continue to believe that a grant of retroactive immunity is wrong, and I have cosponsored Senator Dodd's amendment to remove that provision from the bill. The Bush Administration has blatantly disregarded Americans' civil liberties over the past seven years, and I simply will not trust them to protect Americans' privacy rights. With the temporary Protect America Act set to expire on February 1st, I strongly believe that we need to pass balanced legislation that protects our civil liberties and the rule of law while giving our law enforcement and intelligence agencies the tools they need to protect our country." Better than nothing, but let's not forget that, in fact, letting the "Protect America Act" expire with no new legislation would be even better. And Chris Dodd said, "For several months now, I've listened to the building frustration over this immunity and this administrationís campaign of lawlessness. I've seen it in person, in mail, online - the passion and eloquence of citizens who are just fed up. They've inspired me more than they know." And he also said that it's obvious that this isn't about national security, it's about power.

I know Obama has been getting good coverage from the press and all, but this is worrying. If he's not used to being under constant attack, he's not going to be up for what happens after the convention. Or maybe not. Maybe it's a good idea to keep the press at a distance - after all, being open to the press sure didn't work for Bill Clinton's operation after the convention. Ronald Reagan kept them at a distance and they didn't even notice that he had Alzheimer's, even though anyone watching him on TV could see it. Reporters were uneven with Bush at first - they lauded him for his early, astounding fundraising, then were nasty to him when he ignored them too much, then he realized he had to court them and gave them better food and they were totally in love with him, after which he persistently has treated them like dirt and they've behaved like lapdogs. Still, when I see someone who is being adored by a press corps he ignores, I can't help being reminded of Bush. And I do worry that the fever could turn to resentment. (Also: for the last decade, California has been doing an experiment to keep Evil Teenagers off the roads, and it hasn't really worked out that well.)

Gary Farber has more reasons to feel relieved that Giulliani's campaign is tanking. Also via Gary, the guide to the primary season.

Roger Stone is going all out to warn America that Hillary is a Girl. Via Peevish.

Worst national security administration ever: Opium edition

Spencer Ackerman: "In short, despite innumerable statements from the Bush administration about the value of the CIA's interrogation program, U.S. interrogators are still mostly in the dark - in the dark not only about al-Qaeda, but about how to effectively elicit vital national-security information from the detainees in its custody."

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18:56 GMT


A whole bunch of stuff

Look, there are lots of reasons why I should hate your candidate, OK? Pick a topic, and I'll tell you why. They are just politicians, stop acting like we're attacking your lover or something.

That said, Senators Clinton and Obama have now both said they will be there to vote "no" on cloture for the FISA bill.

Naomi Wolf says, "It's Time to Hold Democratic House Leaders in Contempt."

Jeralyn: "The New York Times has an article today on communities that feed off the prisons within them. When America, prison nation, closes one of them, it can threaten the very existence of such towns." Which, of course, creates incentives for imprisoning even more people. Libby has more on America's incarceration addiction.

"How to Prevent Another Leonardo da Vinci", (via)

I guess there's one subject Obama's campaign must be getting a lot of mail about, because it's the subject they answer about.

An interesting thread on how Mikulski has "gone Feinstein on us". (via)

"The Legacy of Little Boots: "Most Americans, in fact, are in denial or ignorance about the abhorrent start to the Bush presidency, refusing to see the rule of law and their country smashed right before them."

Thanks to CMike for finding me the YouTube version of that video, and for alerting me to what is an appropriate response to this sort of thing.

The Editors take on More baseless LibFasc attacks by David Neiwert.

Tom the Dancing Bug and how big newspapers hire columnists.

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14:48 GMT


Assorted fruit and nuts

Tom Tomorrow surveys Democratic candidate supporters.

The dirty little secret about globalization is that poverty is actually increasing in India, and whole new opportunities for slavery have been created in China. But the apologists for deregulation will continue to dream on.

I can't see this so someone will have to tell me if it's worth watching. [Update: YouTube version. (Thanks to CMike.)]

Jane Smiley says John McCain is The Bogeyman.

Howard Kurtz, professional media creep, interviewed Keith Olbermann and said, "But in a sense, the Bush administration has been very, very good for Keith Olbermann." And Keith said he'd rather have a decent president than his current success. He then accused Keith of criticizing O'Reilly just to get ratings. Keith said no, someone has to point out that O'Reilly says horrible stuff. Think Progress has the video, too. Also, it looks like the administration is trying to shut down the FOIA office.

I see the wingnuts are on the trail of racism, again. They always find the really important stuff, too.

Velvet Underground Evolutionary Tree

Bra sale. I also liked this one.

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03:44 GMT


Sunday, 27 January 2008

Bits of stuff

DFA had an ad in The New York Times telling Clinton and Obama to Prove It on FISA.

We're now getting laws by royal edict: "The latest wiretap is justified by grounds that it's in case the Chinese sources - probably checking on their investment in our government - announce that they're from China and your email is belong to them. [...] The unitary cretin in chief has stopped even trying to pretend his governing follows that old Rule of Law. A directive has become the new police state method."

I didn't say anything yet about the painting because I couldn't quite think of a way to deal with it. At first I thought it was funny that he thought it was called "A Charge to Keep" when in fact it was just an illustration. And, of course, it does seem perfect that he identifies with the character, who he thinks is this missionary escaping from heathens, when in fact it's a smooth-talking horse-thief being chased by a lynch mob. But then I thought, "But wouldn't it be just like Bush to say he thinks that, when he knows what it really is?" I mean, remember what a creep this guy is.

Apparently, enforcing laws against hiring undocumented workers actually works to drive "illegals" out of the area. Just like it used to. Gosh, I guess the internet, 9/11, and "modernity" didn't change everything.

Blast from the past: Why was Bush drooling?

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22:59 GMT


Don't take it personally

In case anyone had any doubts, Gordon Brown has every intention of continuing Thatcher and Blair's destruction of the British economy.

I like the cartoon at the top of this post, but I completely disagree with its sentiments. It seems to me that a lot of supporters of the two leading Democratic contenders are missing the point that Edwards isn't a "spoiler" since he still holds his delegates and can possibly broker them later. Keeping him in the race keeps his progressive language in the race, and helps push the other candidates closer to the real center (as opposed to the fake "center" that is really to the right). Narrowing the debate is a bad thing - we're not the Republicans, remember?

People are reading that "Obama is a Muslim" e-mail and believing it - and I don't just mean people on right-wing mailing lists. Maybe you should pass this around to all your friends and family and tell them to pass it on to all of theirs.

Your blog to read today is Multi Medium, where we get The Money Quote, a frightening chocolate, bad news for talk radio, the Dems' are-you-better-off-now chart, and a whole lot of downtown Pittsburgh photo-blogging. Among other things.

Via TPM, I see Hillary did a lot of anti-Edwards robo-calling in SC at the last minute.

I posted a link to this article at The Daily Howler over at Eschaton and caused massive confusion. To me, the story is about how the talking heads hear what they want to hear; to commenters, it was about something else. *sigh*

So I notice that there's this announcement for a coupon widget thingy bloggers can put on their blogs to, theoretically, "earn cash by helping their visitors save money" by showing a listing of discount coupons for various web traders. So I check out the page to see what's available on the live links, and there's one that says "LockheedMartin". Naturally, I'm curious about what Lockheed Martin could be selling on the web. I mean, 20% off all my defense contracting needs? But it goes to Pro Flowers. (They do have some lovely arrangements.) Also, Phat Rags has the worst t-shirts I've ever seen.

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16:16 GMT


All around the watchtower

I somehow missed John Edwards' statement on FISA. And here's what Chris Dodd said Friday. Clinton is apparently planning to make a statement. And Kagro X has an absolutely perfect message for Bush about FISA. A good message for Congress, too.

I can't imagine that anyone in my generation, even someone who was drunk and coked up out of his mind for most of his life, would not know that, having just been re-elected in a landslide (at a time when there were no term limits), Lincoln "left office" by being assassinated.

Just for the record, the reason conservatives hate the UN is that it's responsible to governments rather than to corporations. That's why they keep having all these privately-funded bodies they like to use instead, usually made up of corporate leaders. It's also one of the reasons the UN is actually a better idea.

Bill Scher had Matt Browner-Hamlin as a guest on his radio show this weekend to talk about FISA, and also Errington Thompson of Where's The Outrage. (Bill also liked Obama's rhetoric about making government cool again.)

Keith Olbermann and Sam Seder discuss GOP debate war-mongering. Also, What does "GOP" stand for?

The Deciderer wants to take over more Congressional powers - this time it's treaties. Again, he's making up new names for things so he can pretend he's not doing it.

Joe Conason has a nice response to the people who've been jumping down his throat for not adoring Obama and hating Clinton enough.

What interested me most about the exchange between Hillary and Obama is that when Obama says she was sitting on the board of Wal-Mart, Hillary doesn't come back and say that Sam Walton was still running things and buying American in those days. She's supposed to be a great fighter, but she had a ready-made retort and didn't find it. That's bad, because she should have known it was coming, and if she didn't, something is wrong. And I'm sure it worked really well for Obama, because even smart people who are paying attention got the dog-whistle but didn't know the details, as you can seein this exchange between Sam Seder and Cenk on The Young Turks.

Neat photo - I recommend clicking for the larger version. (This one, too.)

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11:32 GMT


Who knows where the time goes?

Passionata White Nights half cup braBra of the Week

Boy, this day really got away from me....

I see the Georgia loonies now want to declare a fertilized egg a "person".

The only kind of good bipartisanship is when liberals manage to browbeat conservatives into doing the right thing. Not that it is even remotely going to be enough, of course. You want to restore the American economy, you're going to have to restore all of those New Deal policies you got rid of.

When Mark Halperin wrote that article about how campaign coverage should be about issues and the record rather than just the horse race and trivia, we all wished it meant he'd actually be changing his direction - but we weren't expecting him to. We were right.

At The Left Coaster, a reminder that both sides are playing rough, some people are beginning to froth like right-wingers, and they'd never let Hillary get away with this stuff, but maybe Bill Clinton knows what he's doing after all.

Sometimes you just have to love Atrios for cutting through the crap. Honest to gods, the minute they passed the child porn laws you could see this stuff coming.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Mike Papantonio on Bush's Economic Disaster at GoLeft TV. (You may want to check out their news stream every day.)

Megan McArdle is a fathead.

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00:25 GMT


Saturday, 26 January 2008

Morning trawl

After using data from a 2005 study purporting to show that "collegiate file-swappers were responsible for 44 percent of movie studio 'losses' to piracy" in order to con Congress into passing a whole bunch of indefensible laws, the MPAA admitted this week that the numbers were grossly inflated and that maybe it only accounted for 15%. (If it accounts for any at all.) I'm surprised to see Nate Anderson write, "Yes, college students need to rein in the file-sharing. We get it. Artists need to eat." No, Nate, you don't get it. Artists need to eat, but they'd starve to death if they waited for their royalties from the recording companies. When you hear their music, that's just promotion; when you buy tickets to their live concerts, that's how they eat. File-sharing increases the likelihood that you will hear their music and decide you like them enough to buy those tickets. (But some good news: The Congressman who has been heading the subcommittee that covers this stuff, and has backed the worst legislation, may be replaced with someone who is on the right side of these issues. However, this may be too late, as there seems to be a worldwide push to kick the legs out from under the whole idea of common carrier status for ISPs and replace it with content filtering, which would be utterly disastrous.)

The American Conservative has an article on Sibel Edmonds by former CIA agent Philip Giraldi. (via)

I wonder why Amazon deleted a bunch of favorable reviews of Craig Murray's Murder in Samarkand.

In a post at DKos, Keith Olbermann says he is stupefied to learn that Mukasey has hung two portraits in his office: of former Supreme Court Justice and Nuremburg Prosecutor Robert Jackson, and of Eric Blair (George Orwell).

What's with the immigration service holding American citizens (born and raised) and trying to deport them? At the other end, it's pretty obvious why the US Citizenship and Immigration Services won't be able to process all those new citizens in time for them to vote.

"Eminently fair and gracious and typically thoughtful"

Rachel and Keith discuss what a bunch of liars this administration is, how the FISA vote is another fine example of their casual attitude about "urgent" needs, and Rachel says impeachment should be on the table.

It's all the fault of the evil George Soros.

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12:38 GMT


Bloggity blog

Joe Klein stupidly wades into FISA again; mcjoan reports. Marcy Wheeler has some talking points for when you call Senators, and notes that Jay Rockefeller has now announced that he will not support cloture on the bill - he must be getting a lot of phone calls.

Scott Horton interviews Mark Crispin Miller: "In their eyes, the very people whom they're trying to destroy are ruthless and relentless, full of hate and fury, while they themselves are innocent, outnumbered, 'fighting back.' In short, Bush/Cheney's movement is projective, lividly imputing their own darkest impulses to everybody else."

I gotta admit, it does seem like this sometimes. Meanwhile, the Clinton response team sent out a fact sheet on Tony Rezko, since it's being implied that she had a "relationship" with Rezko because there is a picture of Rezko and Clinton in the same place.

At Adult Video News, Mark Kernes reports on a study that finds an interesting correlation between the availability of the internet and a decline in rape.

At Slacktivist, Fred Clark is Translating Huckabee.

Creepy robo-calls in Georgia from a right-winger purport to support Obama, but obviously have something else on the agenda.

Robert Reich has a blog post on the economic meltdown. I was going to say it was pessimistic, but then I realized that it wasn't. "The presidential candidates will be asked what should be done about the worsening economy, and they'll give vague answers. None will likely admit the truth: We're going to need the rest of the world to bail us out." At this point, "pessimistic" would be, "They're going to drop bombs on all of our major cities." But then, they may not have to.

Nuke Policy Blog Tank - Getting The Word Out .

Donna Edwards campaign ad - Go, Donna!

Slo-mo lighter flame.

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00:45 GMT


Friday, 25 January 2008

These are some links

Pruning Shears has a good post noting the strangeness of having a short duration on a supposedly vital piece of legislation that we desperately need immediately to "protect our nation" from terrorism: "Pause for a moment and think about how strange a thing that is: A six month expiration? The most obvious explanation is that some kind of short duration was necessary for some essential support of such an authoritarian, law-nullifying piece of legislation (the telecom amnesty portion seems like a combination of M.C. Escher and the Marx Brothers: We are passing a law that says the law doesn't matter.) How could someone like Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi explain it, though? 'We think it's a horrible bill so we only want it to become law for six months.' There are two possibilities there - either it's a horrible bill in which case it shouldn't become law for any length of time, or it's a necessary law in which case why give it such a quick expiration date?" It's an atrocious piece of legislation that only needs to be in effect long enough to protect Bush from being named on discovery in hearings when the telcos have to face the courts.

Listen to Rachel's stream from last night's show and hear her little tribute to Dennis Kucinich in the wake of his dropping out of the race. Rachel also played audio from Barbara Boxer's duct-tape discovery - Creepy little Republican EPA trolls put duct tape over text of documents they turned over to Congress for the investigation of why they overruled California's right to enforce pollution controls more strict than those required by federal law. They taped over material that is supposed to be available to the public and can not in any way be called confidential - and they did it just to be obnoxious. And, of course, there is more Campaign Asylum, about the turn-out by the respective parties in the primary season.

At The Poor Man Institute's Dept. of Literary Studies... Ah, just read this and this and this and this.

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19:13 GMT


Hold your breath 'til you turn blue

This from last week, but it really highlights the problem we have when one of our most high-profile reporters, alleged (though not here at The Sideshow) to be a tough interviewer with a talent for probing questions, gets an interview with the person who many people believe will be inaugurated to the presidency of the United States next year and ask her exactly one question about how she will govern as president. And, of course, it's the wrong question for the wrong reason, as Alex explains:

One consequence of this conduct was well described by Matthew Yglesias in a recent discussion of one of Russert's Village confederates: "Fiscal responsibility, as defined by The Washington Post, means something like 'new spending must be financed by unpopular tax hikes unless it's spending on a war or the military or spending proposed by Republicans; also, budget deficits are an acute problem if a Democrat is president or if they're forecast to occur far in the future as a result of Social Security.' That, obviously, is a political framework designed to make progressive governance impossible while simultaneously giving lip service to the desirability of spending money on important priorities like health care, education, clean energy, infrastructure, etc." It's also important to note that modern Republican policy on taxes and the budget is utterly indefensible in any serious, reality based analysis, and that fact would quickly come out if Republican politicians were closely questioned on this topic by probing, informed reporters. Which they never are, so even most well informed people have wildly inaccurate ideas about the size of the deficit and what would have to be done to fix it. This extremism also seems to be out of touch with an overwhelming majority of voters. Exit polls in NH showed that, even in that traditionally anti-tax state, a majority of the Republican voters felt that reducing the deficit was a higher priority than cutting taxes. Not one GOP candidate agreed with the GOP electorate. Those voters went for McCain, who has legitimate standing as a spending hawk, but no longer has any honest claim to his reputation as a deficit hawk.
And today's questions:

Where's Obama?

When is it our turn? We can't afford to wait any longer for a real progressive agenda.

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13:51 GMT


Don't take the green acid

Don't you find it interesting that the arguments in favor of granting the telcos immunity amount to a claim that we can allow whole commercial operations, none of whom are sworn to the Constitution of the United States, to know all about this spy program, but it's too much of a risk to allow the FISA court to know anything about it? Because that's what this is about: It's too dangerous to expose our secrets to FISA judges, even though all these techies and lawyers and god only knows who else at the telcos do know about it.

Greenwald on FISA: "For an entire year, Congressional Democrats have won absolutely nothing. They've given in to the White House on every one of its demands. Yet here is Jay Rockefeller strutting around declaring Victory and having to battle against feelings of cockiness because, finally, he is about to win something." - that, is, he's about to give Bush everything he wants. As opposed to all the other times. Things didn't quite work out, though, because the Republicans decided not to take "yes" for an answer. It's a "give 'em an inch" thing. (If you want to ask your Dem Senators why they didn't support Dodd, though, they are: Rockefeller, Pryor, Inouye, McCaskill, Landrieu, Salazar, Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Mikulski, Carper, Bayh, and Johnson. Feinstein offered an amendment to pretend not to give immunity while still giving it. Clinton and Obama didn't show.)

Digby praises Rick Perlstein, recommends this profile of him, and says we're gonna love his book. (I gotta say, though, I don't think they really have anything close to 50%. I think they just have great propaganda and control of the information conduits. This could change.)

"A Very Doughy Taxonomist" - At Sadly, No!, D. Aristophanes defines the racism scale while worshipping at Dave Neiwert's feet.

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01:36 GMT


Thursday, 24 January 2008

On the internet

President Gore stands up for gay marriage at Current. I hope this puts a little pressure on the candidates to think about their own wimpy positions.

John Edwards on Letterman. Edwards jokes that the thing he's got going for him in SC is his accent. I couldn't help thinking there's a certain irony, there, since there's no question in my mind that the Democratic leadership wouldn't have looked twice at Obama if he had the same accent. (I also thought Edwards' way of making nice with Letterman was really refreshing after watching Bush constantly telling people how honored they should feel at being in the company of the president. As if being president of the United States will ever again mean as much as it did eight years ago after what he's done with the job.)

Thank you, Atrios, for saying straight out that there's nothing necessarily wrong with teenagers having sex. Personally, I'm glad I got that over with when I was 16. And thanks to Scott Lemieux for dealing with Saletan. I really find Saletan loathsome on this subject. He's really pretty much anti-abortion, but he can't admit it. But, at bottom, he's not much different from anyone else who is against abortion because the subject of sex twists their brain up.

Surprised Democrats: "Mr. Bradley's nomination has been rejected several times, primarily because the White House has refused Congress's request for copies of those and other legal opinions having to do with "harsh interrogation techniques," the current euphemism for torture. OK, a proper response. But the current Democratic-led Congress should not feign surprise at the White House renomination of Mr. Bradbury. Mr. Bush knows that sooner or later the Democrats will cave and the nominee will be confirmed. He isn't issuing a "snub" to Congress, he is showing his profound disrespect for them." That's a polite way to put it. Bush doesn't believe in Congress, and they've let him know that he's right. They won't stop him, so why should he respect them? (Also: Ask the candidates the simple questions, and congrats to the SacBee for a good editorial on the atrociousness of Jane Harman's Thoughtcrime bill.)

Eric Alterman notes that the NYT story on the Center for Public Integrity's study, showing that the administration told nearly a thousand lies about Iraq's WMD and relationship to Al Qaeda to get us into war, had a really boring headline...as if they kinda hoped you wouldn't read it. (And also that it took 15 NYT reporters to put together one obit for Heath Ledger.)

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14:03 GMT


The saga continues

If Chris Dodd really does have to filibuster against immunity for the telcos and needs something to read, maybe he'd like to read Al Gore's speech on the subject from two years ago: "And remember that once violated, the rule of law is itself in danger. Unless stopped, lawlessness grows. The greater the power of the executive grows, the more difficult it becomes for the other branches to perform their constitutional roles. As the executive acts outside its constitutionally prescribed role and is able to control access to information that would expose its mistakes and reveal errors, it becomes increasingly difficult for the other branches to police its activities. Once that ability is lost, democracy itself is threatened and we become a government of men and not laws. [...] It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same."

Christy Hardin Smith has a list of Senators you should call to ask if they still intend to support Dodd and to encourage them to do so. It looks like there may be some floor action planned for Thursday.

God, wouldn't it be nice if everybody decided to take the day off and demonstrate against this thing? (Do you know where your Senators' offices are?)

John Edwards released a statement calling for Democrats to show some backbone on FISA.

In other Edwards news, Keith Olbermann had Rachel Maddow on Countdown to talk about the economy, and she talked up Edwards while she was there. (And I think I heard Keith refer to her as "our own Rachel Maddow". What does that mean?) Tonight, Keith had John Edwards himself on the show. He should thank O'Reilly for attacking him.

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03:46 GMT


Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Circling the drain

Baldwin wants hearings, too. (And I guess women are just too stupid to vote on something beside race or sex.)

Like I keep saying, there's no point in Democrats refusing to hold impeachment hearings in order to pass all that great legislation they promised us if Republicans block it anyway, and even really popular legislation is a wash because Bush will veto it and the conservatives won't override his veto. And Harry Reid doesn't want to "waste time" with making them at least have a real filibuster and explain for days on end why they are refusing to pass popular legislation. Which makes it all the more infuriating when Reid decides he is going to force Chris Dodd and Russ Feingold to have a real filibuster because they want to protect the Constitution, and Reid doesn't. Please call your Senators and your candidates and ask them why this is happening. Don't forget to remind them that Bush was spying on Americans like this before 9/11 and it didn't stop the attacks. (I just called Cardin's office and asked if he still intends to support Dodd, and they said yes. Mikulski's office gave me some propaganda about how the legislation is necessary to protect our country; I said, "But everyone knows that's not true. What's the real reason?")

George Bush is taking us all to the poor house, and he's not going to help us out.

Jack and Jill Politics has some questions that weren't asked at the SC debate. (via)

Blast from the past: James Wolcott on just how bad things could get, from 2006.

At Lawyers, Guns and Money, at last, the truth can be told. (Read the thread, I enjoyed it.)

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20:21 BST


In the heart of the beast

Digby:

You really have to give those Republicans credit. They don't care how unpopular they are or how humiliating their presidential candidates are or how much they've screwed up the country. They just arrogantly keep going right in the Democrats' faces and telling them to "bring it."

As for the Dems, I would imagine they just don't think it's worth the trouble. If the telcoms are given immunity they'll never know what really happened and they'll never have to face the unpleasantness of confronting the Republicans on this issue. They are getting ready to close the book on the Bush years and, like the Republicans and the rest of the political establishment, pretend that it never happened.

So, what to do?

Well, Chris Dodd is still promising to filibuster, but is getting no love at all from his fellow Senators. But you may have heard that there's a little primary campaign going on right now with two Democratic Senators in the news nearly around the clock. You'd think we could do a little something with that wouldn't you?

Shailagh Murray (have I mentioned that I find her mostly appalling?) has a story about a private conversation between Edwards and Clinton after the debate that she gins up into an entire campaign strategy, although no one knows what was said. And if you want a look at what kind of stupidity is out there, read the thread that follows it. (via)

Who gets to play: "He wouldn't be where he is, practically overnight, if he hadn't made his 'Hamiltonian' (corporate-imperial) safety clear to the masters of national policy and doctrine, who hold the keys to the kingdom. As a Washington lobbyist recently told Silverstein, 'Big donors would not be helping out Obama if they didn't see him as a 'player'.... What's the dollar value of a starry-eyed idealist?'"

Colorful construction paper art

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14:21 BST


Last night's links

Haloscan was pretty weird yesterday (even more so than usual), so perhaps it's just as well that Digby has turned off comments after a deluge of nastiness. On a lighter note, I love the way Tristero opens this post recommending Dave Neiwert's recent series on Doughy Pantload's book. If you are new to Dave's work, by the way, you might want to go back and read his first Orcinus series, "Rush, Newspeak and Fascism".

Maybe those rumors of a terminal schism in the Republican Party are somewhat exaggerated, since they really do believe that stuff.

I think all the presidential candidates should be encouraged to show they can do the business on FISA, but I think John Amato is right that it might be especially useful for John Edwards to make a big point of this. (Also, Bluegal has a nice, linky Blog for Choice Day post.)

The Glorious Future that American Unions Walked Away From: "Another 4 or 8 years of a Republican presidency could doom American unions, pushing them below 10% and subjecting them to more and more hostile NLRB rulings, which will cripple what ability they have to organize. Even a moderate Democratic president who halts the slide at the NLRB but doesn't reverse it will leave unions in a shaky situation." And yet, they failed to support the one candidate who would have won with a mandate for the unions. (via)

What if Google should buy the NYT? Hey, Al Gore is on their board, too.

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11:47 BST


From the notebook

The way the future was: "Remember when the conservative think tanks were talking about how signing the Kyoto treaty would lead to terrible economic consequences? Well, the other day I was reviewing the series of lectures delivered by wonderingmind42 on global climate change and in one of the sections he mentioned that he went out and looked up the papers that warned about how badly the economy would be hurt. Turns out the worst case economic damage in signing the Kyoto Treaty would have been having to pay up to $1.91 for a gallon of gasoline in 2010." (Also, eRiposte on the SC debate.)

I wonder if we can ever get back from this horrible situation where responsibility is a one-way thing. I'd love to see certain corporations receive the death penalty, frankly.

And here's John Edwards at the debate. I was unnerved to see him talking about how we "have to" do something about Social Security, but somewhat relieved to hear him immediately talk about raising the cap. But I really liked the way he handled the question of whether racism was a factor in black people being disproportionately the victims of predatory lending. After straightforwardly answering that yes, it had, he went on to outline remedies that were about conditions rather than race - nice, because, though racism certainly is involved, bad economic conditions cut across racial lines, so you don't want to target those remedies specifically at one or two racial groups. (And here's his statement on the Roe v. Wade anniversary.)

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00:52 BST

A few good links

On the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Diane looks at the present, Bean looks at how we got here, and we have Blog for Choice Day. Obama's statement (didn't find any others).

Atrios is rushing all over the place on the market news, but some people just don't get it.

You know, I really think some people don't understand that disliking Bush is no reason to love McCain.

Big Tent Dem finds it interesting that even normally reliable reporters (such as Josh Marshall) seem to be treating Hillary as someone who attacked Obama personally out of nowhere in last night's debate, although she was responding in kind to such an attack from Obama. BTD says what he saw was just political campaigning, and, "Some can only see bad in Hillary and good in Obama. I submit the picture is a bit more complicated than that. " And here's a transcription of the exchange between Edwards, Clinton, and Obama on their healthcare plans. Jeralyn also reports on the criminal justice moment in the debate. (Plus: Although the administration asked for life, Jose Padilla gets 17 Years, 4 Months.)

On TV: Pam versus Ham - Pam Spaulding on CNN.

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17:48 BST


Still need more coffee

A few months ago when my credit card was about to expire, I got the new one and it had a sticker on it telling me to call this number to confirm receipt before it could be activated. I thought that seemed fairly stupid, since they had no way to confirm that I was me in the first place, but I called and they promptly started trying to shake me down. They gave me a spiel about the dangers of credit theft and identity theft and how expensive they were to fix, and offerred to protect me if I gave them more money to protect my money. I also get weird offers from my bank that seem designed to make me get all nervous about how safe my money is with them. Which is a bit strange, because the assumption of that protection is an essential part of the agreement between the institution and the customer in the first place. And now here's my bank telling me my money and credit are not safe in their hands unless I give them a regular payoff. In other words, financial institutions are going out of their way to tell me I can't have confidence in them. Any minute now, people are going to start withdrawing their money from banks and hiding it in the mattress because they don't trust banks. (There are already many people who refuse to use credit cards anymore, and I wish I could find a way to function without one, too. It's not that I couldn't have the cash handy for most things, but some people just won't do business with you unless you can give them your credit card number. I feel like a hostage.) Remember what happened last time irresponsible trading made people feel they couldn't trust the banks and couldn't trust the markets? And who started this slide this time? Your trusted local bank that sold you a mortgage you couldn't afford, perhaps? (Also: General Tommy Franks (Ret.) steals money from wounded vets.)

By an amazing coincidence, there seem to be gaps in Cheney's e-mail records that coincide remarkably with events related to the outing of Valerie Plame and the investigation of that situation. Marcy Wheeler provides analysis.

News got out that Canada had the US on its list of countries that torture, but the US had a hissy fit so they took it off the list. So now I guess no one knows, again.

After Bill O'Reilly attacked John Edwards by claiming he was lying about homeless vets and claimed there weren't many homeless vets, saying, "If you know where there's a veteran sleeping under a bridge, you call me immediately, and we will make sure that man does not do it," everybody and her brother produced evidence for him, but he still says Edwards is lying, on the grounds that homeless vets are homeless for reasons that apparently disqualify them as "real" homeless people (they're homeless because of "addiction and mental illness"), and anyway poverty in America is apparently mythical since so many poor people have color televisions and air conditioners.

Josh Marshall says, "Seriously, why should John Edwards drop out of the race?" I think John Edwards should stay in the race as long as he can afford to. I think it's good for the party and good for the country. I think people should still vote for him, too.

It's amazing how much you don't notice when you read a book a few pages at a time over the course of months when you're a kid, and remember even less of as the years go by. I don't remember any of this stuff from Fahrenheit 451, but it seems Bradbury was wearing his shoddy thinking and his crackpottery on his sleeve all along.

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13:28 BST


The clouds broke up and the moon was beautiful

I have to say it gave me a real smile when I opened up the latest issue of Booster Gold and saw that a story involving three generations of Blue Beetles was called "Meet the Beetles" (and with the right lettering, too). And this panel was a nice touch.

Oh, gods, please tell me the stupid Dems aren't going to let another stupid resolution like this atrocity get passed again.

Here's a great idea for reducing the death toll on American troops in Iraq - why, it's so simple, I can't think why no one thought of it before!

Now, here's a question: If Democrats who have supported all the other candidates are saying that, nevertheless, they will vote for the eventual nominee, whoever it is, in the general election, why is it that one candidate's supporters say they will sit out the election if their man isn't chosen? (Also: That Was Wrong? Never Mind!)

Natasha says Obama's speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church walked it back, but not before she describes Reagan's transformation of our nation this way: "The public wasn't concerned about how government had "grown and grown" until Reagan made government a symbolic stand-in for brown people, poor people, 'lazy' people, immigrants (who were also lazy, except when stealing our jobs,) gays and uppity women. [...] That son of Cain's whole candidacy, presidency even, was a big, long screed on how we are not our brother's keeper, straight from the heart of John Birch country in Orange County, CA, home to one of blue America's most infamously racist police forces. (Because my home state is more than hippies and actors Grand Central.) How the poor and colored were leaches on (hardworking, white, straight) society that white people could then feel pious about not wanting to help with 'my tax money.' Reagan turned robber baron feudalism-turned-capitalism, a doctrine whose basic premise is that all men are absolutely not equal, into a state religion. And through that 'faith,' he blessed, whitewashed, if you will, the scapegoating hate of the multitudes who were fearful of economic circumstances that had spiralled beyond their control."

"The Crime Of The Century: A Scandal Of Epic Proportions That Will Haunt The Legacy Of The Bush Regime: The article [in Vanity Fair] is fascinating and very much recommended... but I doubt there are many DWT readers who need to read it in order to answer that question. Unfortunately, the question Vanity Fair could have, should have, asked is "Whose side is the Republican Party on?" And not just whose side are the Inside the Beltway greedballs and their propagandists on-- we know that as intuitively as we know whose side the Justice Department is on-- but whose side the hard core Republican voters are on!"

I don't even want to know about this.

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03:23 BST


Obama notes

Maybe he heard us - Obama's rather impressive MLK Day speech makes amends:

And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King's vision of a beloved community.

We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.

That might go some way to making up for that nasty little business of letting a virulently anti-gay creep speak up against gays when campaigning on behalf of Obama... maybe.

Then again, I feel pretty squicked about his campaign floating a leaflet around that is all about how he's a committed Christian. On the one hand, yes, you know what it's a response to, but it still feels...icky. Nevertheless, I do think it's considerably different from Huckabee campaigning not merely as a Christian, but against the Constitution.

Meanwhile, the wingers are worrying about all the other wingers who want to vote for Obama. I wonder what it means.

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01:13 BST


Monday, 21 January 2008

Assorted stuff

Digby: "The day after New Hampshire the first thing I saw was the media flogging The Bradley Effect and knew that we were going to see the press portray any "division" as an ugly battle between old vs young, male vs female, black vs white. I really hope people don't fall for it."

Hillary Clinton told The New York Times what she'd do about the economy if elected. Some of it sounds like a good start.

DHinMI reviews the Las Vegas Dem debate, says it was mostly friendly and boring but there were a couple of telling moments. (Also, the heckler won.) (via)

I can't wait to hear all the wingers change their tune about evil bad guy Muqtada al-Sadr now that he's becoming a good guy. (Also, international far-right schism.)

Tom Tomorrow on a bad TV business model: "Network executives still seem to have some vestigial sense of entitlement, leftover from the days in which a show was not considered successful if it did not capture some significant percentage of the entire viewing audience of the country, which obviously isn't going to happen as frequently in a world with 500 channels and a gazillion websites. As a result, I've started thinking of any given television series as a sort of extended movie, because chances are if I like it, it's not going to last much longer than one or two seasons. Basically, the networks are training me not to watch their programs until after they've been cancelled and released on DVD. I'm no MBA, but it seems like a short-sighted business strategy to me. I mean, consider the case of Firefly. The Fox network was sitting on what, in retrospect, could clearly have been the next major sci-fi franchise, with years of syndication and spinoffs and action figures and all the rest. But someone thought it was a better idea to kill the show in its infancy, and what we're left with is a DVD set of some of the finest episodic television ever produced, a cliche-ridden, so-so movie, and a lingering sense of promise unfulfilled."

Lis posted the video of Jon Stewart vs. Jonah Goldberg earlier, and then felt a need to explain her title.

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19:23 BST


In silent shades of lazy grays

Did everyone notice that if you double-click on any word in a New York Times article, it pops up a dictionary definition? That's kind of a cool feature I just happened to notice while reading Clark Hoyt's ombud about disclosure of a reporters' potential conflict of interest in covering a story her husband has some involvement in. (I think Hoyt's column is pretty even-handed, btw. It's difficult to find people who are knowledgeable enough in a specialized field to cover it intelligently who don't also have social relationships in that field, so this kind of issue would come up with some frequency.)

Paul Krugman, in "Debunking the Reagan Myth", once again reminds us that you don't get to be a transformative leader if you don't use transforming language, and you sure won't transform it if you keep making it sound like Reagan was right. (And that's something we need to be very aware of as things turn sour.)

At least some libertarians are sorry to see that legislative gridlock can't be expected where it really counts.

Steve Bates of Yellow Doggerel Democrat went to the Houston Galleria and took pictures, which are nice enough, but I find it really disturbing that I'm hearing so many stories of people being hassled when they take photographs in public, now. I thought it was funny when the government made a big to-do about how they had this really spiffy new building for MI6 - and then questioned all those "suspicious" people who took pictures of it. But that's the kind of idiocy you expect from security services. However, in America we now have people getting all bent out of shape over every sort of building that's in full view of the public. It's just mad paranoia that makes life that little bit less pleasant. (Trust me, if people want to case a joint to do Something Terrible, they don't need to photograph it. Jeez.)

British conservatives have tried to argue (senselessly, of course) that new technology makes good old British institutions like the BBC and the NHS obsolete. Johann Hari says, the reverse is true: "This is a neat, sweet twist of history. It turns out the broadcasting funding model of 1922 is the smartest choice for 2022, and the health funding mechanism smelted in 1948 is the smartest choice for 2048. Can you hear that noise? It's the low, satisfied chuckles of Nye Bevan and Lord Reith, echoing over twenty-first century Britain."

Beth Hart is downright nuclear. (via)

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14:11 BST


Shortcake

Raise your hands if you think the Republicans still can't find a way to make sure a Republican is in the White House a year from now.

"Jimmy Breslin's Perpetual Deadline"

"The beancounter bubble" - blame an overabundance of them for a lot of our problems.

Ezra says Jon Cohn's article on Obama's healthcare record in Illinois might allay some of your fears.

Julian Sanchez has been getting grief for writing about Ron Paul's unsavory, racist friends.

Matt Stoller asks, "Did Obama Lose Nevada Because of his Reagan Remarks?" and Paul Rosenberg asks, "What If Obama Tried to Split The Right, Instead of the Left?"

The Editors claim that McCain will be the Republican nominee. I have to agree with his reasoning.

I may have done Hilzoy a disservice; see what you think.

Dave Neiwert has some more Liberal Fascism Leftovers (and I like the re-working of Jonah's cover art).

Uh oh, it's bad news for France when Sarkozy starts bringing in pointy-haired guys from America.

Maybe you're not depressed. Maybe you're just British. (Thanks to Neil for the tip.)

Earthshine

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02:42 BST


Sunday, 20 January 2008

City nights, bright lights

Nancy Pelosi sees "Impeach" buttons wherever she goes, as if people knew she was coming. Chicago Dyke wants to know if Pelosi's reluctance to do anything useful could be related to this: "Paul Pelosi's holdings include a four-story commercial building on Belden Place in San Francisco, a retail and office building on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in San Anselmo and an ownership stake in the Auberge du Soleil resort in Napa Valley valued at $1 million to $5 million. He also has millions of dollars of shares in publicly traded companies such as Microsoft, Amazon.com and AT&T."

Joe Klein, the man who wrote Primary Colors, and one of the biggest promoters of the pile-on against the Clintons in the '90s, now has the temerity to claim that he, unlike his colleagues, was not a part of that pile-on.* He actually says it was, "perhaps the most disgraceful performances by a political party--and by my colleagues--that I've ever witnessed." Joe Klein didn't "witness", he led the mob. Glenn Greenwald takes him to task, and also notes, for contrast, a media star who takes responsibility when he makes a mistake.

A couple of reminders: "Freedom is never given to anybody, for the oppressor has you in domination because he plans to keep you there, and he never voluntarily gives it up. And that is where the strong resistance comes-privileged classes never give up their privileges without strong resistance." And: "We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

The Moderate Squad. (Also: a few words from Tom Waits.)

Is "mentally-disturbed Republican" a redundancy?

Night of the Living Constitution (via)

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18:04 BST


What Reagan did

One of the really disturbing things about Obama's Reagan quote is that he attributes to Reaganism a new entrepreneurial dynamism that somehow the liberals of the 60's and '70s had been stifling. There are two ways that this is wrong.

One is that Jimmy Carter had actually laid out a new path for just such entrepreneurial dynamism in his proposals to get America off of its oil addiction. He didn't just tell people to turn down their thermostats, you know. Carter was opening up a goldmine of new development for anyone with the will to participate.

Reagan instantly came into office and peeled the solar panels off the White House and put a stake in the heart of Carter's big idea.

The other way it's wrong is that, as Krugman reminds us, there was no such rise in entrepreneurship during the Reagan years, since his largess went to the already established big corporations, which he helped to bloat further. In fact, the monetarist policies of the Reagan (and Thatcher) programs started a trend of increasing risk for small start-ups that has only accelerated during the Bush2 years.

The real period of entrepreneurial explosion was, of course, the 1990s. What happened in the '90s? Some people have tried to give all the credit to Bill Gates, but I think it was the internet, rather than just computers, that made all the positive difference. And the internet was really Al Gore's baby. He'd tried to get Reagan to pay attention to his bill to develop "the information superhighway", but Reagan just wasn't interested - something that should tell you a lot about Reagan's entrepreneurial spirit and insight. Bush1 wasn't interested at first, either, but after Gore held hearings he got a few people like Gingrich interested and Bush finally signed the bill. That bill did two very important things: it funded development of ways to make the little academic/DOD backwater of the arpanet more useable for ordinary people, and it determined that any discoveries on that path would not be classified by the DOD, but be open to the public and commercial development.

So there you have it: A Democratic president offered up the potential for the development of an entire new industry open to all takers; a Republican president quashed the program in its crib and shored-up big corporates instead, and also failed to sign on to internet development; another Democratic president allows his Vice President to continue to promote a program he'd been pushing for years when he was still in the Senate, and all sorts of entrepreneurship exploded. Then we get the Bush2 years where even going to work in the morning is so risky that anyone who isn't already a multibillionaire is afraid to move, let alone take the risks of starting up a new business.

The Republicans really have never had anything to offer us. They come to us with sunny faces and promise to be great, it's morning in America and all that, but what they actually do is offer us Can't-Do America, the world where we can't have universal healthcare, can't keep funding Social Security, can't educate our children, can't have clean air and water, can't hope for a more tolerant and peaceful future.

Jimmy Carter offered us a future that would free us from the wars for oil and pollution that have wracked us ever since. He was offering us even more than most people knew, because that would also free us from the control of the people who are now running the whole world - some very nasty people, many of whom currently occupy our White House. And how did the media (even then, pretty conservative) respond? They labelled it his "malaise" speech, although he did not use the word. He actually was giving us a (literally) sunnier future than any conservative ever has, and he was derided for it.

If our candidates do not understand this and instead see Reagan, not liberalism, as the key to a healthy future for America, we are in even worse trouble than we thought.

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13:47 BST


A little night muesli

Freya Zeta plunge underwired braBra of the Week

If I didn't already hate the Democratic leadership, I would hate them for picking The First Black Man and The First Woman to have a credible shot at the nomination and then pitting them against each other.

"When morality and politics converged" - how Martin Luther King got Lyndon Johnson to say, "and we shall overcome." And a little more forgotten history.

Destroyer of Worlds - I think MahaBarb may have figured out in which god they can trust.

Bob Herbert seems to have identified the problem, but is he confused about how we got here? (And are voters confused about the solutions?)

Ghouliani - or, even better, 9iu11iani through history, a photo essay.

Ask Golden Age Wonder Woman - Advice on love, life, and relationships by Dr. Golden Age Wonder Woman, Ph.D. (Thanks to Mr. Sideshow for the tip.)

Mark says that it's "The coolest periodic table of elements ever." Also, Spiders on drugs.

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01:52 BST


Saturday, 19 January 2008

Things I wonder about

When I see a story like this one about how Obama pushed through a very good initiative on an issue I care about, I love the idea of having him in office. But one commenter in that thread articulated some other thoughts I have whenever I hear stuff like this:

If Obama were running for national Senator-at-large or some other legislative position, that story would be much more impressive. But last time I looked POTUS was an executive, not a legislative position. There is a difference.

Also, I have to admit a complete ignorance concerning Illinois state politics, but I remind all of 2000, where a governor from a state with a notoriously weak executive and an opposition controlled legislature got a nice rep as an effective bi-partisan executive. That guy got elected, but I doubt anyone today would consider him effective or bi-partisan and barely an executive at that.

Okay, he didn't really get elected, but he did end up in the White House, with horrific results. And many of Bush's "bipartisan successes" were actually outright lies - such as his "support" for a patients' bill of rights which he vigorously opposed, vetoed, and ultimately saw passed into law without his signature because it had a veto-proof majority.

I would dearly love to know what Obama - and numerous other elective officers - would have done in Congress had they not been running for president. For that matter, I'd like to know what they all would have done had they not been constantly running for re-election.

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20:55 BST


On the landscape

Sam Seder sat in for an ailing Rachel Maddow last night, so you can hear it all weekend on her stream if you missed it - and you really should listen, if only for that phone call about halfway in where a woman calls in to complain about something that happened to her son in his public school when all of the students were prevented from studying for their exams to see a presidential candidate, who was introduced to them as "the next president of the United States" - Mitt Romney. The students were forbidden to wear any T-shirts or other stuff for any other candidate, and those who did were removed and punished. Money was taken out of the school budget for this event, too - including for Romney's security.

Taylor Marsh says that Hillary never said she admired Reagan - she just said she admired his communication skills. Actually, I didn't admire his communication skills, either - he wasn't any better with words than any other president I'd seen in my lifetime. What I envy is the fact that he could say something glib and stupid and the press would act like they had just heard something wonderful and clever and well-stated. To hear Reagan talk and the press laud him for it, you'd think that roads built themselves magically but all the government did was pay people to install the potholes - and only Reagan was smart enough to speak the truth about it! He should have been laughed out of the room. I mean, what's so sharp about saying, "There you go again"? My, the wit and wisdom! Taylor also links to this post by eRiposte questioning the proclivity of some people for accepting the right-wing frame that the GOP was ever "the party of ideas". No, they were not. They were the party of trying to stop good ideas; just like conservatives always have been.

Chris Hedges watches the George and Condi show: "The Gilbert and Sullivan charade of statesmanship played out by George W. Bush and his enabler, Condoleezza Rice, as they wander the Middle East is a fitting end to seven years of misrule. Despots stripped of power are transformed from monsters into buffoons. And this is the metamorphosis that is eating away at the Bush presidency." They were always buffoons, but that doesn't mean they aren't still dangerous, just as they have been for the last seven years.

Back in 2002 I remarked that it was annoying to read political reporting in The Newspapers of Record that were just reporters reporting on what was going on inside their own heads. Eric Boehlert expands on that point considerably with regard to the way the entire press corps constructed its own fantasy of what was going on in New Hampshire.

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17:06 BST


How we talk

Watching Marta Costello talk about why she didn't say anything about Hillary's comment about MLK, the thing that really caught my attention was the way she used the word "scoop" to mean "get the same story everyone else has" rather than the meaning it always used to have of being the first to break an important new story. One of the most depressing facts of the news business these days is that real scoops seem to be buried on page 17 or at least hidden in the 27th paragraph while everyone chases and front-pages a story everyone else already has.

But I wanted to say something about all the alleged "racist" statements that Hillary's people were allegedly making over the last week that caused the firestorms. I want to say that, as a middle class person from the liberal part of Maryland (a state that, while technically below the Mason-Dixon line, is in most areas sociopolitically "north"), I've often had to ask my black friends to decode certain words and phrases that made no sense to me - but would probably have made sense to some southern white racist. For example, there have been a couple of times (including the Clarence Thomas hearings) where the guys had to point out to me (with some embarrassment) that the black man in question was claiming he was being criticized not for the reasons he was being criticized, but for "making good" or "being uppity", which had been opaque to me since in the first case the guy didn't appear to have made good, and in the second the judge wasn't doing anything uppity. My pals explained to me that it was because his wife was white, a fact I hadn't regarded as having any importance whatsoever. Because in my world that is pretty much an everyday event, entirely unremarkable, and the accusation wasn't being leveled at KKK members, but at people who come from my background and would barely have noticed that his wife was a different color than he was.

I'm not saying that none of the statements Hillary's reps made could be taken as racist, but I actually think that most of them were deliberately recast by the media (or, in some cases, Obama supporters) to be something they weren't. As a liberal who has been involved in supporting civil rights, of course Hillary talks about MLK sometimes - she did not dismiss his importance in anything she said. (And please do bear in mind that regardless of where Bill Clinton comes from and served as governor, Hillary comes from the north, and that's probably where her language and assumptions come from, too.) Andrew Cuomo, another northerner whose language just can't be interpreted as if it came from a southern racist, probably did not have any racial intentions at all when he talked about "shucking and jiving" when he talked about how face-to-face meetings with voters didn't allow for the kind of slick evasions that candidates (not specifically Obama) can skate by on in press conferences.

And Bill Clinton, who was born in 1946, is going to see Obama (1961) as a "kid" no matter what color he is; calling someone who is younger and less experienced a "kid" is not racist, and anyone who says it is has a piece missing. When someone is young enough to be your own child, they seem like "a kid" to you. Similarly, "spadework" is a common term that I have never in my life heard used with racial overtones - it refers to a gardening tool, not a playing card. (There was also, by the way, a period in the sixties when the term "spade" was the hip term for black people, and a lot of white people, especially among urban musicians and civil rights activists, picked it up from our black colleagues as ordinary slang, not as particularly racist.) Anyone who tried to attribute racial overtones to the use of these words is being an illiterate jackass. And if you say you've used "a little blow", well, it's no surprise if the opposition tries to highlight it. What was surprising was that the Democrats didn't make more of it when the candidate with a history as a drunken druggie was George Walker Bush. These things just aren't about race.

During the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, Thomas' supporters, one of whom was notable segregationist leader Strom Thurmond, were accusing northern whites of a kind of racism that just wasn't part of the northern white equation - but is par for the course among southern racists like themselves. And they exploited awareness of their own racist values to use against people who not only didn't share them but had no idea what they were talking about. Some Obama promoters (and, in the media, Obama promoters do not necessarily represent people who support Obama for the presidency, but only for the nomination - they will support a Republican in the general election) were doing the same thing last week.

In other political discussion...

Remember, I do not support Hillary Clinton for the nomination, but I think Andrew Stephen does, so take it with a grain of salt, but over at the New Statesman, he is more than a little skeptical about Obama: "I suspect that the longer the relationship continues, however, the more Obama's many faults and shortcomings as a presidential candidate will emerge. In his speech admitting defeat in New Hampshire on Tuesday, for example, a hint of his bad-tempered haughtiness emerged. He is not the fresh-faced young idealist the media like to portray, but a hard-headed 46-year-old lawyer whose monumental drive and political calculations make the Clintons seem like a pair of amateurs. The media and electorate may have fallen in love with him spontaneously, but Obama has been carefully plotting his strategy to seduce them for decades." (Thanks to ks.)

A lot of the time I hate all this arcane parliamentary maneuvering that makes people's votes incomprehensible. But people who engage in it shouldn't throw stones. (via)

Susie Madrak had a dream, and EBW ran with it. (Also, resonance.)

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14:58 BST


Hot cocoa time

I want a candidate who has the proper disgust for Ronald Reagan. And not the other kind. (And yes, I do think that one reason younger voters are so credulous about Obama is that they don't really know anything about Ronald Smiley-Face Reagan and his cheerfully divisive embrace of racist, union-busting, spite-filled politics. They also don't get that Joe Lieberman really is Obama's mentor.)

Via Mercury Rising, Harold Meyerson and Paul Krugman both talking about how we fix this mess. Short version: Reinstate the New Deal, and add in Jimmy Carter's energy plan. Krugman likes Edwards' stim plan the best. (And, gee, isn't the Yangtze looking a bit dry?)

Could someone remind me what the Associated Press is for?

I guess Lynn Cheney is still afraid of China. Also, Jon Stewart v. Doughy Pantload.

Kevin Drum seems to think that what's interesting about this chart is the whacked out way Republicans see Democratic candidates. (Well, two of them, anyway.) What I think is interesting (besides the absence of the other Dem candidates) is the bizarre way members of both parties fail to see how far to the right the Republicans are. (I've been reading and listening to people's reasons for liking McCain and Giuliani, and they have these enormous hallucinations about what these men believe in, what they've accomplished, and what they stand for. There's a lot of it going around.) Also: I worked in swaps for a while, and I always thought that eventually someone would realize that it should be illegal and laws would be passed to get rid of it.)

As you know, I do try to avoid this sort of thing, but I think I really have to link to this photo.

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03:27 BST


Friday, 18 January 2008

Nightcap

David Sirota on the Stonebridge decision: "Though the Financial Times - like most loyal corporate media megaphones - cheered the decision, it noted that now that "gatekeepers, like lawyers and bankers, are protected they are less likely to question shady activities by their clients." That's actually an understatement. It provides an incentive for the "gatekeepers" to not ask questions." So, basically, there is no protection against corporate fraud. Jolly.

Oh, good, Hillary Clinton answers Obama's Social Security crisis message with some nice chunky Republican anti-tax language. Can't we just smack these people?

Remember that nitwit at The New Republican who said we were "blogofascists"? Well, now he says we're Stalin. Or something. More here.

Being a good Republican, Kuhl voted against SCHIP expansion, but now that he's facing an electoral challenge, he wants his constituents to think he is a champion of children's healthcare.

Even after all this time, they still manage to find ways, large and small, to leave me speechless with horror whenever they open their mouths.

What makes a good citizen?

Yes, this makes much more sense than Rudy as Angelus. (via)

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23:50 BST


Intermission at the horror show

"For Kids, Life Means Life: Sentencing youthful offenders (that's kids who are convicted for crimes) to life incarceration violates virtually every human rights norm out there. According to Human Rights Watch, there are only 7 people outside the United States who were sentenced to life in prison while minors. [...] For the U.S. as a whole, the number of people serving life without parole for offenses committed as minors is 2,225."

I enjoyed Molly Ivors' take on Chris Matthews' "apology" for being unfair to Hillary. I think he should read the entire SCUM Manifesto aloud on the air, myself.

Some officials in an Arizona town tried to convince a blogger that he had to either link to candidates other than those he supported or else register as a PAC. Nitwits. Now the elective officials are all claiming they had nothing to do with it.

I hear so many different stories about oil that it's making me crazy. I hear that it's all about driving oil prices up, and I believe that. But I hear it's about peak oil, and I also hear that there is no actual shortage of oil, and it makes me crazy that there is really no way I can check it myself and find out what's really going on. One of the nice things about doing media analysis (even on pornography!) is that you can look for yourself to see whether what people say is true.

How Obama lost Lambert's trust on Social Security, and mine, too.

Checkmate - America's most embarrassing contribution to the world of chess has died. A player of awesome genius, he managed to piss everyone off by being every kind of jackass, including a bigot. He was 64.

Yeah, yeah, I know what people are thinkin', but just be careful, OK?

1938 Merrie Melodies cartoon, Katnip Kollege. (Thanks to Dominic for the tip.)

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17:33 BST


Need more coffee

Tim Tagris thinks that unless we make an all-out effort to back Senator Dodd, the Democrats will totally cave on FISA in just a few days. Please make those calls and write those letters now. (via)

I'm happy to see that Wexler's site now has the YouTube version of his floor speech up instead of that [fnord] Flash thing I can't see. Also, he's broken 206,000 - get your friends to sign! And send money to help him pay for advertising for this campaign. He also asks for our help with media outreach to pressure them to cover the movement for impeachment hearings. Remember, the nice thing about them being impeachment hearings is that there's no executive privilege.

I should have realized Lambert would have been on the Obama hearts Reagan story already.

You might also want to Tell Congress To Investigate Pentagon Video Of Iranian "Threat". (Or you might wonder why not all options on Iran seem to be on the table.)

Whoever the Dem candidates are getting to pick their music, they should get someone else.

In praise of the New Deal: "It's not utopia. We actually achieved this."

Joe Lieberman says John McCain is good for getting Joe Lieberman on the ticket good for Jews.

What Ron Paul really is.

"Stairway to Heaven" by The Doors. (This isn't actually as good as the Beatles one.)

Fonts

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12:02 BST


Crab soup and avocado

Ronald Reagan started the ball rolling to destroy the regulations that protected Americans' jobs and our democracy. Barack Obama says that was a good thing. (Trouble is, Clinton then kicked it a bit farther.) Via Krugman

Study: John Edwards Doesn't Exist: "But here's the thing about this. For literally the past year we've been hearing justifications for the fact that Edwards, despite being competitive in Iowa polls, didn't get the attention that his Dem rivals got -- he didn't raise as much money; his candidacy isn't as historic as theirs; etc., etc. Indeed, the virtual media blackout of Edwards got so glaringly obvious that even New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt urged his paper to give Edwards more attention back in November. At a certain point we should just acknowledge that Edwards basically got screwed and that this shouldn't have happened to the extent that it did." [Hoyt's column]

What Obama said about retroactive immunity for telecoms - back then. What he does now will be telling. And Hillary... well.

How to hack a Diebold machine, and several links on The Wire that I missed, and ... a quote.

I so want to write something about this but I can't bear to look at this website. This is something important but it hurts my eyes.

My hero. Like all heroes, he was imperfect, said and did things I can't agree with, and for all I know I wouldn't have liked him personally. He died before I had any idea of who he was or what he would mean to me, but he has saved, and continues to save, many lives and many futures, not to mention my right eye, and I wish every country could have someone to do the same for them.

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02:14 BST


Thursday, 17 January 2008

I noticed this

Clinton, Tuesday: "President Bush is over in the Gulf now begging the Saudis and others to drop the price of oil. How pathetic."

Matthews said it wasn't just opinion, so that means what he told was just a pack of lies.

Hey, look who's back. (I think my blogroll was that short, once.)

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17:28 BST


Act now

Glenn Greenwald warns that Harry Reid and Jay "bought and paid for" Rockefeller are getting ready to push FISA again and the betting, as always, is that they will lead the Democrats to another crushing defeat against Bush by making them all cave in to fear.

I'm not sure whether Reid is just a stupid coward or whether he is being bribed or blackmailed, but Rockefeller is so blatantly compromised that it's probably worth making a big deal over. If you happen to be in their constituencies, you might want to stress this point in your letters to local newspapers and broadcast affiliates.

But, as Glenn also points out, this is a good time to put pressure on the Democratic candidates to stand up and make a statement - a strong statement. Obama and Clinton in particular need to be telling their colleagues that passing telecoms immunity will damage them seriously in both the primaries and, possibly, the general election.

There is one point that hardly anyone (including Chris Dodd) stresses firmly enough, and it's that Bush was illegally violating FISA before 9/11, and it didn't prevent the attacks. Moreover, it is abundantly clear from everything the administration has said and done that they were not using this program to that end, because they did not regard terrorism as a concern.

The American people have a right to know who the administration wanted to listen in on that the FISA court would not have approved.

Or, to put it more bluntly, the American people have a right to know with a certainty whether this was, like every other Bush administration policy, a program designed solely and illegally for their own political ends.

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15:47 BST


Notes and quotes

No joy in Pottersville as psycho bank tries to shut down blog: "I haven't the time to get into the particulars as to why my account had been capriciously shut down by Executive Services (Which is at the corporate level in Rhode Island) but suffice it to say that we are finally in the throes of a fascist corporate dictatorship when a bank steals from you without warning, treats you like garbage through its ill-trained tellers and desk help people, then terminates your account then goes after your ISP and pressures them to shut down your blog when you stand up for your rights." Er, happy birthday, hon.

Ken Silverstein: "Would Louis Farrakhan Exist Without Richard Cohen? When was the last time you read anything about Louis Farrakhan? My guess is that it was in a column by Richard Cohen of the Washington Post. Cohen has been demanding that public figures denounce Farrakhan for at least 24 years, going back to 1984 when he wrote a column calling upon Jesse Jackson to do so. [...] Thus Cohen's column today demanding that Barack Obama renounce Farrakhan was all but inevitable. Never mind that Obama has no ties to Farrakhan and has never said anything favorable about him. (Thanks to jello for the tip.)

Fred Clark at Slacktivist on what makes Martin Luther King's call to morality so different from Huckabee's call to theocracy. (Also: Left Behind and the crux of the problem.)

Jerome Doolittle says we should all read William Greider's "Recession Refocuses Campaign Strategies" in The Nation: " When bond holders are more alarmed about the economy than political leaders, you know something is backwards in American politics."

So, would I be alarmist to be saying, "Just get out of the markets right now!"?

David Neiwert says Jonah Goldberg uses the same methodology as Holocaust deniers, and he whitewashes the Klan. (Also: Who Goes Nazi?)

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13:50 BST


Savings plan

Reuters says: "Disney says Iger's salary rose 7 percent to $27.7 million."

United Hollywood: "By way of context -- if the WGA got everything it was asking for, it would cost Disney $6.25 million a year. Mr. Iger could write a personal check to end the strike for his whole corporation -- and still have a little over $21 million left over."

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02:51 BST


As a public service

Keith Olbermann posted his first "diary" at Daily Kos Monday, and even on broadband it's now received too many comments to load with comfortable speed, so here it is, in its entirety:

I Hate To Interrupt, But...

Yeah, it's me.

Hi.

Sure has taken me long enough. But, as you may know, I am the shy, retiring type: Hesitant to state an opinion in public and horrified to pass judgment or seem a scold.

And, yes, if I'm going to step out from the cool, comforting environs of the shadows, I'd rather spring forward to pimp the book or the newscast.

But, having now read a (mercifully few) claims here that I'm a) attacking Clinton, b) burying Edwards, and c) clobbering Obama, I feel the need to mention that I truly don't have a preference. I am tilting in no direction, sending out no subliminal message, and thwarting no truth.

To report the NBC New Hampshire projection after the polls close there, is not to try to marginalize John Edwards. To run the entire Bill Clinton "fairy tale" sound bite complete with its Iraq vote context, is not to try to thwart Barack Obama. And to report that Dennis Kucinich has put a down payment on a New Hampshire recount is not to claim Hillary Clinton stole a primary.

I appreciate the fervor of each candidate's supporters and I think I have some empathy based on my standing in the Frustrated-By-The-Obviousness-Of-Politics League. But can anybody reading messages into tea leaves in my newscast, when there isn't even a teacup, please resume regular breathing patterns? To see in each of my reports an enemy or a spokesman sounds microscopically like - and I swallow hard and prepare for the prospect of some Kossacks to approach what passes for my castle with torches and pitchforks as I write this - Bill O'Reilly.

Via Very Serious People, which also tells us that Keith's post set a record.

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01:31 BST


Wednesday, 16 January 2008

From the notebook

I'm not sure why I didn't link the story when I first saw it, but for those who missed it, "FBI Wiretaps Dropped Due to Unpaid Bills - Telephone companies have cut off FBI wiretaps used to eavesdrop on suspected criminals because of the bureau's repeated failures to pay phone bills on time."

Everything I know about Richard Cohen tells me that Atrios is right about how personally he takes it when someone becomes important without his blessing. I remember the August 17, 2000 column Somerby discusses here not so much for it's other content, but for the fact that it begins with Cohen's obvious resentment that a mutual friend just loved Al Gore, and when he introduced them, Gore apparently didn't put on a show for him and therefore Cohen was even more miffed that anyone loved the guy. So he wrote a whole column about how nobody liked the guy.

I'm surprised that Hilzoy thinks that somehow a strategy of bland inoffensiveness will expose Republican nastiness. That's just what they've been doing to alienate voters.

Did God lie to Pat Robertson?

A funeral for Andy Olmsted.

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23:56 BST


Animal crackers

Heckuva Job, Zelly!: "Proving yet again that Neocons will screw up boiling a pot of water, Robert Zoellick's World Bank is mired in unprecedented corruption with its Indian projects."

The political hacks from the Bush administration are running an Inquisition to find out if scientists at JPL have inconvenient scientific beliefs, and when it comes to the "success" of BushCo's economic policies, The Proof Is In No Pudding.

DownWithTyranny: "McCain is one of the least truthful men in American politics. He lies the way other people breath-- and he is very successful at getting away with it. The national media has consistently given him a free ride over the decades. They like him because he's "accessible." After he was caught taking bribes (as part of the Keating 5 scandal) he rescued his political career, with the help of the corporate media, by re-styling himself as an anti-corruption maverick. And yet, he's a darling of K Street and well-known as someone with the ethics of a mobster."

Brad DeLong likes Obama's stimulus plan best, but eRobin gets back to stupid reality: "BushCo won't sign any of those plans, of course. None of the packages is out there for any serious consideration but instead to indicate what sort of economic thinking the candidates will bring to the White House. So look at them with that in mind. They're good windows."

Clinton, Obama, and New Hampshire by the numbers - Jon Stokes at Ars Technica tries to figure out weird numbers from the primary, and waits with interest to see what the recounts will show.

At Sadly, No!, Clif provides evidence of Evil Hollywood liberals, D. Aristophanes learns that Jonah Goldberg was right, and Brad alerts us to an outrageous case of Google Fascism.

I miss having a pinball machine in my own house. It's in my brother's house, now, I think. But someday when I win the lottery, I want a place like this. Via Spirit Magazine, with thanks to Moshe for the tip.

OMG Save the hamsters!

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20:28 BST


The GOP base

Tristero notes the breadth of influence of right-wing religious loonies on our education system, our electoral system, our speechless media, our ...

Feorag and Charlie on the stupid things that fundies say.

Echidne, inspired by a number of things, including Caitlin Flanagan's bizarre op-ed, discusses the Womanly Art of Self-Defense.

In South Carolina, a nasty flier attacks McCain's POW experience, but this time he doesn't appear to be taking it lying down. Via The Rude One, who also finds Jesus and Mohammed laughing at George Walker Bush.

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18:55 BST


Stalking the wild internet

Wexler Demands Impeachment Hearings on Floor: "Wexler just called for an immediate commencement of impeachment hearings against VP Dick Cheney on the floor of the House of Representatives. "History demands this." Wexler took the argument head-on that the "votes aren't there," and noted that the Watergate tapes weren't released until impeachment hearings had begun, that once confronted with the evidence congressmen change their minds. He held up a bound copy of a three-inch thick printout of almost 200,000 signatures from his WexlerWantsHearings.com website and passionately said how Americans want this." Video is available at his site, but I can't see it because it's that damn Flash thing that doesn't work for me lately. (I am astonished to learn that my pal Nadine Strossen is against impeachment, although the state CLUs are champing at the bit for it.)

CNN journo makes a pathetic response to Glenn Greenwald's criticisms and exposes more of the Stepford Press' empty thinking. And more Glenn, on what the Kucinich suit against NBC tells us about what the right-wing means by "judicial activism".

Vote to Waterboard Glenn Beck - He doesn't think it's torture. (Or, you can just vote to waterboard him because he hates FDR so much.)

Students who remember a 2005 speech by Ratzinger as anti-science protest a scheduled appearance by him, and it's actually cancelled: "In that speech, Ratzinger, who would become pope in 2005, quoted the Austrian philosopher Paul Feyerabend as saying: 'The church at the time was much more faithful to reason than Galileo himself, and also took into consideration the ethical and social consequences of Galileo's doctrine. Its verdict against Galileo was rational and just.'"

The Real News interviews Thom Hartmann about the two worlds we see in the corporate media versus the real world, at Radio Row in New Hampshire during the primary.

Banned at The DoJ: They've suddenly decided it's too difficult to keep Paul Kiel on their press release e-mail list. I wonder what caused that?

"Kaija Seifert was a transgendered soldier serving in the US military who was killed recently in Iraq. I want her chosen name remembered."

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15:37 BST


Primary junk

I actually thought Markos' idea of getting Michigan Dems to cross over to vote for Romney was a bit silly. For one thing, it's stupid to assume that Romney is too much of a mess to win a general election. Romney isn't even as much of a mess as George Walker Bush was - remember him? (It would have been more amusing to vote for Ron Paul, anyway.) I think it would have been a good time to make that conscience vote for Kucinich or at least vote uncommitted to make clear who is and isn't supporting Hillary. As it happens, CNN says Dem crossover voters picked McCain, not Romney. I'm starting to worry about the danger of McCain, who many people who ought to know better still don't realize is just a war-mongering right-wing crackpot. (whose "objections" to torture don't extend to actually voting against it.)

Apparently, people in Michigan kept hearing in the media that there were no Democrats on the ballot other than Hillary, so a lot of people just stayed home. Hillary declared victory after out-pacing Kucinich, Dodd, Gravel, and Uncommitted. And Giuliani just managed to beat Kucinich.

Todd Gitlin wants Tim Russert to ask Republicans the same kinds of questions he asks the Democrats. Josh Marshall's liveblogging of the debate is amusing: " I think I may remember this debate as the one where the candidates refused to take Tim Russert seriously no matter how serious he tried to seem."

Big Tent Dem says Obama was the biggest person in the room last night when he went beyond the call of duty to dismiss suggestions that the Clintons were racist. Of course, I think the damage has already been done to drive a significant portion of the black vote away from Hillary, so I'm not sure how big that really was of him.

And Ezra Klein says the debate had the WORST. MODERATORS. EVER. I believe it, after hearing that Brian Williams actually read the infamous "Obama is a radical Muslim" e-mail spam on the air.

Meanwhile, Nevada's Supreme Court overturned the lower court ruling in Kucinich's favor, so he was excluded from the debate, and now vows to fight for changes to the current FCC rules. That's gonna take some work.

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14:01 BST


More stuff

From Think Progress: the incredibly appropriate news that John Solomon, once one of the WaPo's most prolific smear-merchants against Democrats, is the new executive editor of The Washington Times; a new right-wing meme that Obama will be a target of extremist Muslims because he is an "apostate" - as if any other president might not be a desirable target of Muslim extremists; and the question of why the networks are ignoring the presidential primaries, which apparently they don't consider an important news topic.

Ian Welsh says Edwards is still alive and kicking, and, "I would add that Obama also uses right wing frames far more often than Edwards or Clinton, Obama's senior economic advisers are virtually reactionaries, and talk of "hope" doesn't make you a progressive. (Remember Mr. "Morning in America" Reagan if you are inclined to disagree.)"

Thers: "As a matter of strict accuracy, nobody is quite clear on precisely why Democratic campaign managers and consultants are hired, especially repeatedly. Whatever the explanation, it is certainly a gross exaggeration to say that their purpose is to "win." It instead seems more their function to lose in a humiliating fashion and afterwards to collect fat paychecks and then go on TV and talk smack about the Democratic Base."

It looks like certain members of the Democratic leadership might be getting ready to isolate Dodd if he's serious about FISA, so get behind him every way you can think of. Feel free to let Harry Reid know what you think of any effort to undercut Dodd for defending the Constitution and the rights of the people.

Rahm has his own candidate to replace Dennis Hastert, but progressives are going out for John Laesch, and he has the endorsements to prove it - including Studs Terkel, Barbara Ehrenreich, Dr. Quentin Young, Mike Malloy, and now Noam Chomsky.

Mike Huckabee calls for changing the Constitution to remove your religious freedoms: "I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution, but I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view."

The secret to keeping Pakistani nukes safe

Failure Conservatism

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01:04 BST


Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Stops on the Infobahn

Why is there a write-in space on the Michigan ballot if using it will get your ballot thrown out? (Hint: Write "uncommitted" if you are supporting a Democrat other than Hillary.)

David Sirota says that another secret from the media is that, "For those of you who think the Democratic presidential nomination fight is just a two-way race between Obama and Clinton, check out this brand new poll from the Reno Gazette-Journal. Yup, that's right - it shows the Nevada caucus race a three-way, dead heat with John Edwards right in the mix." But "self-important bloviators" like Lawrence O'Donnell and a host of other establishment weasels and weenies have been dissing him all over the place - even Democratic operatives who you'd think were interested in helping the Democrats win this one.

Thom Hartmann interview with former GOP operative Allen Raymond, author of How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative. Also, Thom's interview with Patric Verrone, President of the Writers Guild of America.

A couple from Boing Boing: Waterboarding in Cambodia, and a possible cure for Alzheimer's.

George says the new Wild Cards book will be out on the 22nd. Meanwhile, video of the 1988 Worldcon Wild Cards panel is posted up at YouTube. I haven't seen these people in a very long time, so they all look the same to me in my head.

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15:39 BST


American stories

The Polls You Won't Hear Much About tell us that the Democratic candidate who stands the best chance of beating any Republican presidential contender is John Edwards. "The upshot of all this: If Hillary's the Democratic nominee, we could very easily lose to any likely GOP nominee. If Obama's the nominee, he does OK so long as he doesn't face McCain. But if Edwards is the nominee, we're sitting pretty." And the more voters see of Edwards, the more they like him, so the media has to work hard to keep him out of the spotlight.

Cursor: "As the official version of naval incident in the Strait of Hormuz 'starts to unravel,' and the Pentagon grows skeptical of its own audio/video mashup, Helena Cobban considers how Congress should react this time to a potential Gulf of Tonkin incident, but failure to escalate brings disappointment on Fox News."

Joan Walsh feels like The New York Times wants it's core readership to go away, and also reminds us that kids born in 1990 turn 18 this year.

Mike Huckabee plans to give us all contagious diseases. But not cure them.

Now The Washington Post is just plain making stuff up about how Clinton supposedly said that people in college towns "don't need a president".

Mark Kernes at Adult Video News covers the Supremes as they discuss the unimportance of the voting rights of older and lower-income voters.

Blitzer versus Edwards - Wolf wants us to know that John Edwards is "angry".

Penn Gillette is doing regular rants on Crackle.

Mitt Romney, who made his fortune by gutting companies and destroying jobs, has been claiming that Michigan's Democratic governor, Jennifer Granholm, is responsible for the devastation in her state caused by conservative policies. Rachel Maddow brought Granholm on to respond in the first hour of last night's show, which you can hear until it's replaced with a later one here.

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14:48 BST


Free speech

Vegas judge rules for free speech - Kucinich wins in court, and right-wingers want to pretend somehow that it violates the free speech rights of NBC to make them keep legitimate candidates in the debates - as if their "free speech rights" would ever have been worth a damn if the taxpayers weren't protecting their ability to function. The promised rent on our airwaves is service to the public, not to the almighty dollar.

Thomas Nephew takes a walk:

And a bunch of related Boing Boing links:

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12:55 BST


Slow crawl on the innertubes

If I had to judge the candidates by some of the sexist and racist and just plain anti-social things their supporters say, I would want them all to be taken out and shot.

It's not bad enough that the FBI is illegally entrapping people who posed no threat, but The New York Times actually publishes op-eds suggesting that the way to deal with this problem is just to stop putting them on trial rather than face the embarrassment of stupid prosecutions. (Also: The mysterious fighters against orcs.)

I don't think you should try to talk about what you'd think about Obama's healthcare plan if you were Ezra Klein unless you've thought about healthcare like Ezra has.

Tangled up in grue: a sociopath's guide to guilt-free war - Weldon Berger on the virtues of air power.

So, why don't we get to see the raw Iowa vote totals?

In a very linky post, Natasha says: "Frustrated in his efforts to gin up an excuse for another war, President Bush criticizes Iran with pro-democracy boilerplate that no longer enthuses anyone. I think there's only one sort of response appropriate to hearing the vote-caging, election-stealing, nation-destroying Bush ramble on about the joys democracy."

It took me a second to realize that this might have been photoshopped. I suppose I could blame it on my bad eye, but I just don't like those weasels.

Wow, this Christmas' Battle of Minas Tirith made of candy is even cooler than last year's Battle of Helms Deep made of candy. (via) Also: Shiny metal garbage city, and City made of shiny disposable plastic objects from $0.99 stores. (Plus! Death takes a holiday!)

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00:23 BST


Monday, 14 January 2008

Open windows

When I first heard that the Nevada Teachers Union were suing because it had been made more convenient for casino workers, I thought, "WTF?" But as Jeralyn explains, the teachers have a point: The very fact that teachers are assigned to work the caucus sites where they normally work during the school day, and not where they actually live and can vote, means that at the same time that voting is being made easier for casino workers, teachers have been squeezed out of the process. Why the special effort on behalf of casino workers, but not a similar effort on behalf of teachers? Could it be that they've endorsed different candidates?

Oh, look, Mike McConnell says he feels like waterboarding is torture - "If I had water draining into my nose, oh God, I just can't imagine how painful! Whether it's torture by anybody else's definition, for me it would be torture,' McConnell told the magazine. [...] McConnell said the legal test for torture should be 'pretty simple.' 'Is it excruciatingly painful to the point of forcing someone to say something because of the pain?' he said" - but can't say whether legally it's torture.

Mary on Why The Bush Economy Really Stinks - It's nice to see that they're now admitting it's a recession, just when real people have started to notice that we are teetering on the brink of something much, much worse.

Donnamania - There's more support for Donna Edwards every day - help her out, and help us all get rid of Al Wynn.

I can't find it at his website, but e-mail from Kucinich says: "The mass media cut Dennis Kucinich out of the televised debates in Iowa and again in New Hampshire. And now - after inviting Dennis to participate in the NBC/MSNBC debate in Las Vegas on Tuesday, the invitation was taken away ... TAKEN AWAY!!" Unfortunately, the only thing it asks you to do to fight this is send money.

Julia brought this post's comment thread to my attention. I guess Obama's supporters thought there wasn't enough sexism in this race. (I guess they also don't know that his activity in the Senate has involved such useful things as voting for more funding of the occupation and helping to shepherd two right-wing judges onto the Supreme Court.)

Democrats For Romney, via Making Light.

"When breakfast is outlawed only outlaws will have breakfast." I loved the thread that goes with this. (Thanks to Dominic for the tip.)

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17:49 BST


Political stew

Paul Rosenberg (via) looks at a study comparing attitudes on two "culture war" issues - abortion and gays - between generations of voters, and says:

If Obama's "end to the culture wars" narrative has any truth to it, that doesn't come from culture war attitudes as traditionally discussed, but rather from massive Republican failure that has made such issues fade in relative significance. This is the same dynamic that occurred in 1930/1932, as the Great Depression overwhelmed religious and ethnic differences that had previously kept the WASP working class firmly behind the WASP elite. While such allegiances were not totally destroyed, they were significantly weakened as the GOP failure produced a long-term realignment that changed the political universe.

This is one more reason why his "post-partisan" narrative appears fundamentally misdirected. If Obama cannot articulate a clearly different approach to politics--with different substance to it--then he fails to accentuate the one force that is working to submerge the culture wars, the replacement of a political order that stresses such conflicts with a new one that stresses common solutions to a whole new set of pressing concerns.

Media Matters has the back and forth between Hillary and Russert in which Russert trots out the time-honored trick of using out-of-context quotes to misrepresent what both Clintons have said. Meanwhile, Josh Marshall steps back and talks about the difficulty of covering the subject of race as it's exploded as a campaign issue: "Race is an inherently compromising issue in American culture and politics. And some of what I think is happening here is that it is ricocheting in all sorts of directions in this campaign which is about the heart of the Democratic party."

Everybody - the media, the pollsters, and of course the GOP wants to keep on the theme that all Christian evangelicals are Republicans, even to the point of omitting the question for Democrats at the polls.

A little ray of sunshine - it looks like Mukasey is cleaning house a bit, and now a real civil rights lawyer will be heading up the voting section of the Civil Rights Division. This really is good news.

Jonathan Chait: "Basically, trying to explain why the Fairtax is a bad idea is like trying to explain why having trained elephants perform open-heart surgery on every first-grader in America is a bad idea."

Don't forget to turn in your old coins to Halliburton so you can get the new ones.

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13:27 BST


After dark

Conservative Communism: "[...] authoritarianism is a product of the right and all such governments are inherently conservative. Monarchy, dictatorship, plutocracy, theocracy and totalitarian regimes such as fascism and communism are all conservative forms of government. While Democracy, like that established in the United States after it's divorce from the conservative political monarchy of Great Britain, is a product of liberalism. The foundation of the American democratic system is a result of the period of the enlightenment in which liberal social and scientific ideas and rationality rejected the conservative status quo of monarchical authority and religious absolutism."

Now that we know that nothing of importance really happened when those speedboats didn't actually threaten our fleet, Cernig wants to know, "Who Spun The Hormuz Incident?"

Business people tremble in their boots at the prospect of John Edwards.

Mark Adams says Edwards should hang in there so he can have some influence on the outcome of the primaries, since neither Obama nor Clinton, in their best-case scenario, is likely to have enough delegates on their own.

How much money do the various candidates have - especially compared to the rest of us? This much.

Solving murders - something else we don't seem to do as much as we used to. (And here's a point - Let's let the people who ran up all those debts to foreign countries pay for them.)

Thanks to Lance for sending me that article, and thanks to Julia for sending me this one about final filming on The Wire.

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01:32 BST


Sunday, 13 January 2008

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Chris Bowers says: "In what is surely the biggest legislative victory for the blogosphere ever, it now seems that there won't be any new FISA bill as long as Bush is in office." Oh, I hope so! Bless you, Chris Dodd. (via)

Bill Maher's theory is that the Republicans stole the NH primary for Hillary because they'd rather run against her than against Obama. Well, at least it makes much more sense than that Hillary stole it, since Republicans own and control the machines. (Thanks to jello for the tip.) Maher is still a pig, though. On the other hand, at least there's someone who's bringing an alternative view of religion to television.

Josh Marshall thinks it's particularly interesting that a slew of conservative state Democrats have suddenly endorsed Obama right on the heels of Hillary's win in New Hampshire. He also notes other endorsements, including one, surprisingly, from Ned Lamont. Needless to say, Jane Hamsher is at least as disappointed by that one as I am. (And I can't help the feeling that the Dem leadership, knowing that he's the only choice they have in four years for that Senate seat in Connecticut, has come to an agreement with him.)

John Judis makes a fairly convincing case that not only doesn't the Bradley Effect make sense, but pre-election polls were breaking for Hillary before the election, so there's nothing flakey about the results. In fact, it looks like the real problem was that most polls under-sampled female voters.

Mike Huckabee was full of mercy for Wayne Dumond, as a result of which he went on to murder a couple more women, but he was strangely eager to execute Frankie Parker - and do it early, as MahaBarb reports.

Yes, I do think Lance Mannion should send me a copy of the interview from which he got this quote: "'I am someone who's very angry with the political structure,' he said in a long 2006 interview with Slate. 'The show is written in a 21st-century city-state that is incredibly bureaucratic, and in which a legal pursuit of an unenforceable prohibition [the war on drugs] has created great absurdity.' To Simon, The Wire is about 'the very simple idea that, in this postmodern world of ours, human beings - all of us - are worth less. We're worth less every day, despite the fact that some of us are achieving more and more. It's the triumph of capitalism. Whether you're a corner boy in West Baltimore, or a cop who knows his beat, or an Eastern European brought here for sex, your life is worth less. It's the triumph of capitalism over human value. This country has embraced the idea that this is a viable domestic policy. It is. It's viable for the few. But I don't live in Westwood, L.A., or on the Upper West Side of New York. I live in Baltimore.'"

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15:08 BST


News and analysis

Ezra Klein seems a bit overwhelmed by a new study showing that the United States has slid to last place in rankings of OECD countries on an important health measure: our ability to prevent unnecessary deaths to medical patients. "In English, it assessed how effective health systems are at reaching the sick. The conditions under examination are lethal if not treated, but the afflicted can be saved, and even healed, if given timely care. The researchers examined this same group of conditions in 1998. Then, we performed poorly, but not catastrophically so. Our amenable mortality rates were about 8 percent above the average, and 50 percent above the French, but we were not the worst. Comparatively speaking, we were 15th out of 19 assessed countries. Four years later, we were 19th out of 19. Every other country posted significant progress in reducing amenable mortality. Save for us." But because we didn't at least match their rates of improvement (not their rates of saving lives, just the rate of improvement), it cost us 75,000-101,000 lives. "Repeat that to yourself: 101,000 lives. That's more than the total population of Boulder, Colorado." But why would you worry about 101,000 unnecessary deaths, or even your own healthcare? Why, solely because of partisanship!

Big Tent Democrat notes that Ben Nelson plans to endorse Obama, and says: "Now this is a predictable development as Ben Nelson is the king of bipartisanship, voting with Republicans more than any other Democrat." BTD also reminds us that Nelson endorsed Joe Lieberman when he opposed the Democratic candidate, Ned Lamont, in 2006.

It's the freakiest show - Swopa observes that all over the world the presidential race is being watched avidly - except for one country that doesn't have to care: China.

Oh, Sidney how could you? "NASHUA - A top Clinton adviser faces charges of aggravated driving while intoxicated after city police caught him speeding through Greeley Park a day before the state primary. Sidney Blumenthal, longtime friend and senior adviser to presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. was allegedly driving a rented car north on Concord Street at a speed of 70 mph when Nashua Police Sgt. Mike Masella decided to stop it at about 12:30 a.m. Monday."

At Hullabaloo, dday tells us what "unity government" really looks like where it is in practice under the perfect post-partisan governor: "If Arnold Schwarzenegger were named Arnold Schwartz, and if he were born in Austin and not Austria, he would almost certainly be the vessel of the hopes of the Unity08 crowd, not Bloomberg. In truth, Schwarzenegger is a con man, which is what you'd expect from an actor playing at executive. Since coming into office, he has played with a variety of images - reformer, hardcore Republican, environmental advocate - before settling on the label of "post-partisan". These are just labels, because his core ideological concerns have not changed a bit, with policies friendly to big business, concerned with redistributing wealth upwards, and punishing the middle and lower classes."

What's at stake - a series of Edwards clips.

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11:57 BST


Vote-counting and other meaty things

Wacoal Beguiling full figure wired braBra of the Week

I see via PNH that Ars Technica has a good article on why it's important to audit the New Hampshire ballots, in which he makes some of the same points I made earlier about the hackability of all machines that count votes, and then says:

Right now, in the absence of an audit of the New Hampshire results, the state has not met the requirement that it prove to the public that the election was fair. This is what the fuss is about. New Hampshire does not have the manual audit requirement that is necessary to prove that an election was fair, so that state's ballots were effectively counted in secret by closed-source machine code. When ballots are counted in secret and it's up to the voters to prove that the election was rigged when they're surprised by the results, that's not the kind of democracy that the Founders had in mind for us.
I disagree with Stokes, however, when he suggests how Republicans would exploit this in the event of a Hillary win:
Unlike Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004, no Republican candidate is likely to roll over and let Clinton take the White House if they can get substantial traction with accusations that she stole the election.
They could certainly demand a recount if they believed they could get away with it, but what if they already know that the Republicans who own and control the machines really did hack the vote in their own favor, and it just wasn't enough? Then they'd more likely wait until it's too late for a recount (that a Dem candidate would almost certainly agree to), so they could spend the next four or eight years insisting that the Democrat (and I maintain they will do this with any Democrat) stole the election by hacking the machines. And that way the public would never learn that the exit polls that showed the Dem winning in a landslide were correct after all.

Many of us have wondered why the Republicans didn't demand recounts of some of the close races in 2006, and there is some speculation that they didn't do it for just this reason.

(I also note that Al Gore didn't exactly roll over for Bush - Gore called for recounts in individual counties, as is possible under Florida law. He then asked Bush to join him in calling for a full-state recount, since there was no way to do that by the ordinary processes of the state's code, but Bush declined, instead going in the opposite direction and suborning an illegal intervention by the US Supreme Court to stop the recounts. A challenge in Congress would result in Republicans giving the win to Bush, anyway. Gore's only choice at that point, if he was determined to get into the White House, would have been to call for open rebellion by the public. I certainly wouldn't have bet my life that it would have been successful - would you?)

Over at Unqualified Offerings, fascination erupts as Ron Paul's old creepy racist newsletter gets dug up, and Thoreau says he just can't vote for him, now: "It might not be entirely fair to him, but I'm a libertarian: I don't care about fairness. If I did, I'd be a liberal! [smiley face] If he wants to claim that he's seeking to run (and restrain) a massive bureaucracy then he should be able to restrain some guys publishing under his name. OTOH, if he wants to claim that he's a spokesman spreading a message, then we can't discount his newsletters." More from Jim Henley, and from Thoreau, and more, and from Jim, and so on, and so on.

Chris Floyd on Sibel Edmunds, BCCI, and a lot more: "This week, the Sunday Times lifted the lid on one of the most important stories of the last quarter-century: how American officials sold nuclear arms technology to illegal proliferators -- including ideological allies of al Qaeda -- in return for bribes and other inducements. This widespread corruption has been protected from exposure by the highest levels of the U.S. government, which has gone to enormous lengths to protect the truth from coming out. The entire planet has been put at grave risk by the greed -- and geopolitical gamesmanship -- that lies behind this criminal enterprise, which actually is even more extensive, and goes back further in time, than the newspaper's remarkable revelations." (Lukery: "Let me repeat that for emphasis: The #3 guy at the State Dept facilitated the immediate release of 9/11 suspects at the request of targets of the FBI's investigation.")

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01:37 BST


Saturday, 12 January 2008

Midnight links

Media BloodHound looks to be giving Jon Swift a run for his money on the story of Kerry's endorsement of Obama, but I think this is just the way many of us reacted - John, what have you got against poor Obama? More seriously, Ray Abernathy uses the same term to describe the endorsement as a one of a two cheap shots Edwards took in recent days.

Stupidest Drug Story of the Week - Our so-called Drug Czar seems to think it is big news that a contraband drug (Ecstasy) is being sold adulterated with meth. Not only that, but The New York Times ran the story as if it wasn't mostly cribbed straight from the press release - and as if it was news. I've known since about 1963 that most illegal drugs get boosted with other stuff, and that meth is a popular booster. (I also thought this looked like it might be an interesting article, but something weird at Salon is preventing me from being able to see most articles. I'd be grateful if someone would send me a copy.) Both links via Making Light.

I see at Skippy's joint that the White House fad of destroying e-mails is catching on all over.

Jamison Foser has a thorough investigation of the piggishness of Chris Matthews, particularly with regard to Hillary Clinton. Reading, it, I couldn't help thinking of the guys I've known who developed an inexplicable personal hatred of women they've never dated and remembering that it's almost always for the same reason. Did Hillary Clinton turn Matthews down? In any case, you might want to let MSNBC know that you find it disgusting to watch Matthews working out his psychosexual problems when he's supposed to be covering politics.

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23:45 BST


Trojan horse?

If anyone wanted to know who the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) candidates are in this race, let's check out this post at the NYT blogs:

As would be expected, the two gentlemen from the Democratic Leadership Council on a conference call today told reporters they're very confident in their party's chances of reclaiming the White House, they're happy that substantive issues are being discussed.

And then Al From, the D.L.C. founder, said he was "very happy about the two candidates" Americans are considering.

Only two candidates?

Yes, only two candidates, and their names are Clinton and Obama. Hillary you expected, since she's on the DLC leadership team, but Al From is happy with Obama. It's not that I didn't already know this, but I'm glad he made it explicit - and equally explicit that he doesn't like Edwards:
During the rest of the call, the two men said they were pleased that none of the Democratic candidates supports a single-payer health care system, that they are all taking the environment seriously, and that they're focusing on national security - a strength that Mr. From admits, "we've not always had."
Obviously, they don't even regard Kucinich as a candidate. And, of course, Edwards' plan is the one that presents the greatest danger of leading to anything remotely like a single-payer plan. The bit suggesting weakness in the party on national security is, of course, a rather misleading way of describing that part of the party that has preferred not to start wars or initiate other policies that provoke blowback.

When The Washington Post asserts that unnamed Democrats have been angered by John Edwards' candidacy, you should know exactly who they mean. But the DLC has always liked Obama, even when he's gone out of his way to distance himself from them. But, hey, even Hillary "snubbed" the DLC by going to Yearly Kos rather than the DLC convention - and she's at the heart of the DLC!

It's so, so painfully ironic to see young people expressing their disgust with the DLC-led Democrats in Washington by backing a candidate who exactly those people are quite happy with.

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16:13 BST


Documenting the atrocities

In her post about the DC Court of Appeals upholding the dismissal of a lawsuit by British victims of Guantanamo torture (on the grounds that their torturers were just following orders), Jeralyn notes that the judges even went so far as to say that the detainees are not "persons" under US law - a statement so outrageous that even controversial right-wing Bush-appointee Janice Rogers Brown, who concurred with the main opinion, said it flew in the face of plain language. (Also, from Big Tent Democrat: "To my mind, Edwards made a grievous mistake, both as a question of politics and issues, when he decided to give Obama a free pass. It effectively ended his campaign, both as a question of issues and politics." But he agrees with Ezra that Edwards is the one who set the agenda in the campaign.)

Lawrence Lindsey underestimated the cost of the invasion, but not nearly as badly as everyone else did. (Except me. I always thought we'd be lucky to get away with as low a figure as Lindsey had come up with. And I thought anyone who believed the other ridiculously low figures the administration was touting was simply out of their tiny little minds. That stuff wasn't even in the realm of credible fantasy.)

Earlier I linked to a Kos diary that discussed whether the left frightens people with it's anti-corporate language, but I had only skimmed the article it referred to and missed this quote, called to my attention by my esteemed commenter Anonymous: "'We plan to build a grass-roots business organization so strong that when it bites you in the butt, you bleed,' chamber President Tom Donohue said. [...] 'I'm concerned about anti-corporate and populist rhetoric from candidates for the presidency, members of Congress and the media,' he said. 'It suggests to us that we have to demonstrate who it is in this society that creates jobs, wealth and benefits -- and who it is that eats them.'" As Mr. Sideshow observed, this guy is making an open declaration of class war in a very big way. (The push-back on this has to be about how big conglomerates are themselves anti-business - but I don't expect anyone will bother to do the work on that.)

Egalia has up a video of Bill Clinton answering a question about Mark Penn's faux pas, in which he points out that Obama's claims to judgment on the invasion/occupation don't wash. It's actually a pretty good response to comparisons made between Obama and Hillary on the war. Egalia also notes that Donna Brazile has complained that there was something dirty and racially offensive about Clinton's statements. I haven't mentioned Brazile for a while because until lately she hadn't been out front so often, but I've never understood why anyone hired her - she is so bad at this stuff. There was nothing racist about Clinton's remarks, and it's actually pretty offensive for her to say so. Look, Obama started running for president almost immediately after getting into the Senate, and he is young for a presidential candidate, so it's neither surprising nor offensive that an opponent would use that against him. Nor is his voting record on the occupation any better than Senator Clinton's; it would be ridiculous to expect her or her surrogates not to say so. Brazile seems to be implying that it's by-definition racist to oppose her candidate at all. (Egalia also has photos and video of the Gitmo protests.)

"Election Software Lost in Transit: "More than a hundred computer chips containing voting machine software were lost or stolen during transit in California this week. Two cardboard shipping tubes containing 174 EPROMs loaded with voting machine software were sent via Federal Express on December 13th from the secretary of state's office in Sacramento to election officials in San Diego County for use in optical-scan machines made by Diebold Election Systems. But on Monday, the two shipping tubes arrived empty." I can't help having a fantasy that brave freedom fighters are trying to prevent the use of these machines by direct action....

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13:03 BST


Stuff I saw

Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Hero) sent more mail saying he plans to present his petition for impeachment hearings soon, so get your family to sign up so it'll be a longer list. He also needs more bucks for his advertising campaign - he's already diverting staff and money from his own Congressional campaign for this, so give the man some help.

Linking Glenn Greenwald's article about the unrestrained war-mongering against Iran coming from Republicans, and Jonathan Schwarz's observations on Kenneth Pollack's amazement that Iran wanted to protect themselves from the US (at a time when we were drawing up plans to "obliterate" them), Atrios says, "It is truly impossible to fathom why Iran is obsessed with the United States."

Kung Fu Monkey: "You know, for a religion that survived centuries of persecution under the greatest Empire in existence, and then went on to convert billions of people over the following centuries, and is so entrenched as a moral framework in America that every Presidential candidate (hell, 99% of politicians in general) has to claim to be not just a follower but a devout follower ... ... Christianity's been acting kind of needy lately."

More reasons not to be looking for an economic upturn any time soon. (Thanks to Chris for the tip.)

I think this link gets you Rachel Maddow's interview with Ralph Nader.

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00:28 BST


Friday, 11 January 2008

The stories we tell

"Sibel Edmonds and the Chamber of Secrets" - There used to be a time when a story like this would not only have generated miles of front-page newsprint and many hours of television broadcast coverage, leading to Congressional hearings and even more coverage and probably a whole lot of people getting their asses kicked (impeach), but breaking the story would have made you bigger than Woodward and Bernstein, and there would have been a major motion picture by now and at least one Oscar. Today... not so much.

You gotta admit, Steinem has a point with this. Though there's no denying that racism plays a significant factor in how some people will vote, there can also be no denying that sexism plays at least as big a role. On the other hand, there are those among us who cut both Obama and Clinton a little extra slack because, yes, we would love to be able to vote for the first female president, or the first black president. But each of them is also hamstrung by the fact that they are trying to work against stereotypes. My problem with both is that, to a great extent, they are fumbling that job a lot more than I'd have hoped they would. Trying to be more of a war-monger doesn't make you tougher, and being insulting toward some of your natural supporters just to make yourself attractive to the Gang of 500 doesn't make you less "divisive".

Is it a double-dip recession? (Or will we be using the D-word soon?)

Bruce Schneier says, "Steal This Wi-Fi" - and explains why he, one of the toughest security geeks ever, leaves his wireless network open so others can use it, and grabs free wireless where he can, too.

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16:17 BST


How can we say "goodbye" to the '90s when they won't go away?

The other day, Barney Frank posted this at the HuffPo:

I think it is important to express my discomfort with a major theme of Senator Obama's campaign. I am referring to his denigration of "the Washington battles of the 1990's" and, usually implicitly but sometimes explicitly, of those who fought them.

I agree that it would have been better not to have had to fight over some of the issues that occupied us in the nineties. But there would have been only one way to avoid them - and that would have been to give up. More importantly, the only way I can think of to avoid "refighting the same fights we had in the 1990's", to quote Senator Obama, is to let our opponents win these fights without a struggle.

Frank goes on to remind us that the "bitter partisanship of the '90s" was the bitter, deliberate nastiness of the Republicans, acting according to a script from Newt Gingrich to "inject a much harsher note of partisanship by explicitly rejecting the notion that the Democrats were honorable people with whom they disagreed, and instead decided, as Gingrich's own printed and taped materials argued, to portray us as treasonous, corrupt, immoral and otherwise vile."

But Andrew Sullivan apparently believes that the rest of us should just go along with the Republican idea of "compromise". I'm not going to link to Sullivan's idiocy, but check out Lambert's response.

The idea that Democrats/liberals/"the left" have been one-sidedly re-fighting old fights for no apparent reason is a popular one in right-wing (and therefore "centrist") rhetoric. They like to pretend that these are "old fights" from the '60s or the '90s, but let's be clear: These fights have been going on as long as there has been a United States. They may take different forms depending on the fashions of the moment, but there have always been women saying, "Remember the ladies." There have always been people saying we should have free public education, equality for all under the law, government that exists to promote the public welfare and our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - and those who have consistently opposed the very idea of a free and democratic republic constituted by, for, and of the People. We're the Americans, and they're the Tories. We have no choice but to fight them.

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13:18 BST


Evening trawl

I'm seeing and hearing more questions, now, about the results in New Hampshire. I didn't follow the exit polls as it was all happening, so I don't know what to think, but there are those who claim that they turned around at the last minute just like they did in 2004. That does raise an eyebrow. And as long as such questions can be raised, regardless of whether there was any cheating, we can't just accept "Trust me!" on this. Dennis Kucinich thinks so, too. (But Dave Johnson surprises me. The fact that the ballots are paper doesn't mean anything if they aren't counted by hand. So far, they have not been. The count we have is from machines that can be hacked.)

There are many loathsome things about Blackwater, but one that always gets me is the utter contempt they have for our military.

The trouble with the WHO study on deaths in Iraq is that it minimizes all of the other effects of war aside from "violent death". If someone bombs your infrastructure and you die because you can't get water, the war still killed you. (Also: I can't help it, I thought the whole Evil Speedboats story was crap all along.)

Fred, it's even more authentic than you think - for example, the character "Dave Ettlin", Baltimore Sun re-write man, is played by Dave Ettlin, who was the re-write man at the Sun when Dave Simon (and I) worked there.

Ooops! Silly Ana Marie, don't you know that it's a national election?

Giuliani actually said something that wasn't "9/11".

Kagro X says the court is not exactly pushin' on investigating those disappearing torture tapes. But maybe Congress will do something? Um....

Ara read the latest Karl Rove thing so we don't have to, and learned from him, among other things, that Obama is lazy. It just kinda leaves ya blinking, don't it? (via)

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04:49 BST


Stupid

My personal theory is this: Hillary Clinton was the front-runner in New Hampshire all year, and that's because there were people who wanted to vote for her. They may have become a bit giddy after Obama's win in Iowa and told pollsters that they were going to vote for him, just because they were a bit high over it and wanted to ride that wave for a minute, but when it was time to vote they remembered why they wanted to vote for Hillary in the first place.

That said, yes, it's possible that the Tweety Effect caused some people to come out and vote for her who otherwise would not have. And it's possible that some of the other theories had influence as well. But I don't believe for a minute that Democrats said they were going to vote for Obama because it sounded acceptable but they were too racists to actually do it. I just don't.

And yet, that's the theory that Tweety is pushing: that a black man has no hope of winning sufficient Democratic support in a presidential race.

And, sadly, some members of the Obama camp even seem to be hustling that meme. As Digby says, that could create a self-fulfilling prophecy; that is, it's a self-destructive idea for the Obama campaign to spread.

(I gotta disagree about the "shuck and jive" thing, though. I came out of the house into a city that was about 90% black, and I heard people say "shuck and jive" all the time, but not "bob and weave". The former just sounds...cooler. Slang that black people used always did.)

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02:10 BST


Thursday, 10 January 2008

Hiccup on the production line

Well, how embarrassing, I had this nice little post all ready to go and then my PC decided it wasn't interested in what I wanted to do. It's a very odd thing - first it stops responding to clicks but will follow keystrokes, and then that stops, too. I don't get it. That'd be okay if I could have just opened my text editor, so I could just read it and retype it on this computer, but I can't get anything to open, even though it starts up okay. Hmph.

Anyway, I'm not going to try to reconstruct what I wrote, but here are the links I can remember:

At Digby's place, dday on the scary trend of the Supreme Court (and that outrageous Voter ID thing, too), and Digby on the unlikeliness of the Bradley effect.

MahaBarb on the latest outbreak of "bipartisanship" from the Cabbage (and one that went up more recently about Bush's Middle-East diplomacy).

Apollo 13 on the continuing unreliability of e-voting.

Yasgur's Farm for sale. Got eight million bucks to spare?

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17:12 BST


Tell me another one

Truthfully, I don't think the NH primaries were hacked, but reasoning like this is just plain wrong and perhaps explains why so many people don't get the problem about electronic voting. The issue isn't the use of touch-screens - you can use a touch screen just to print out a paper ballot and it's not a problem if you hand-count those ballots. The issue is how they are counted. Some of the most suspicious results in Florida occurred where there were optical-scan counts. The only way you can check those results is by hand-counting the ballots. Since the Republicans have worked very, very hard to prevent recounts of such ballots, there is good reason to worry when optical scans are used. No machine count can be trusted. Ever. Even having paper ballots is not enough if you aren't actually going to count them by hand. No machine count can be trusted. Ever.

"$60mil to punish "anti-business": We create wrong impressions" - The Chamber of Commerce gets a lot of play out of pretending that people who oppose having big corporate conglomerates run the world on a purely monetarist (for the rest of us) policy are "anti-business", but of course that's a lie. In fact, the conglomerates stand in the way of local businesses, creative start-ups, and a healthy economy. You could even say they are anti-business. Does the left make an error in the language it uses to address this issue? Maybe. But the real money that is aimed against liberals isn't really interested in such nuances - they really are about exercising horrific levels of power against the populace on behalf of a powerful few.

"Kristol and Dowd, together at last at the NY Times" - Eric Boehlert says, "That the Times wants to view the crucial 2008 presidential campaign through the prism of Kristol and Dowd tells you all you need to know about the paper's priorities." (Can crying humanize Dowd?)

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12:45 GMT


Open windows

The first time I heard Obama's non-concession speech, I felt like I was in church, and immediately recognized those MLK cadences that cropped up for a bit of it. What I didn't remember is that "Yes, we can!" was, as Rachel Maddow called it, the unofficial slogan of the union movement, ever since the days of Caesar Chavez. Rachel reminded me of that on her excellent primary recap tonight (which, as always, I recommend you listen to while it's still available from 10:00 PM Eastern tonight for about 24 hours, here).

Hilzoy with info on How To Help: "A member of Andy Olmsted's family has just written me to say that if people want to do something in honor of him, they can send donations to a fund that has been set up for the four children of CPT Thomas Casey, who served under Andy and was killed while trying to help him."

"An Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove: How American Democracy Relies on Fascism."

"They don't Feel Your Pain: In what I can only describe as just another indication of the subtle racism has become embedded in our modern society, a study was released that found that there is a large discrepancy in the dispensing of narcotic pain relievers between blacks and whites in our nations emergency rooms. Are we to understand that there are two types of pain, black pain and white pain? The sad part about this study is the majority of doctors if asked would say they prescribe medication equally between patients, however the study proves otherwise." (And speaking of drugs, I want candidates who can be honest about marijuana.)

Like so many others, Gene Lyons is pretty disgusted with the media's treatment of Hillary - and the whole campaign. (via) And Jill announces that Richard Blair and Melissa have joined her in creating the Sweet Jesus I Hate Chris Matthews site. (But Bob Somerby reminds us that this has all been going on for sixteen years - and even he seems to still be vulnerable to it. As Rachel pointed out, it's not a big surprise that the person who has been the front-runner all year won in New Hampshire, y'know. And there could just be a good reason why some candidates don't feel very chummy with the Stepford Press.)

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03:48 GMT


Wednesday, 09 January 2008

Thinkin' and breathin'

My thanks to Begonia Buzzkill for alerting me in comments* that Deputy Assistant Mark Kimmitt told the Heritage Foundation yesterday that the chance of the "surge" being successful is "50-50", and that (Our Hero) Robert Wexler has said publicly that it is a myth that the surge has been successful. (Don't forget to help Wexler out on his impeachment advertising. And, of course, get someone else to sign up for impeachment. And hear his BlogTalk Radio discussion from last month.)

How did millions of Americans become convinced that they didn't need to save money anymore and could just borrow indefinitely? A lot of people helped. (Thanks to ron for the tip.)

The corporate media gives us constant right-wing advocacy journalism, but you have to be someone like Amy Goodman to be accused of advocacy journalism. What's up with that?

Believe it or not, the new, Rupertized Wall Street Journal delivered a not very flattering appraisal of Jonah Goldberg's stupid book.

RHReality Check has a series on sex education up: Articles are "Sex Ed in the Real World" by Lauren Bull, "Confessions of a Sex Ed Advocate" by Lisa Schulter, "Let's Really Talk About Sex" by Molly Tafoya, and The Way Sex Ed Should Be" by Jessica Haro; there are some video comments, as well.

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23:06 GMT


Election stuff

The Bradblog reports that rumors started by the corporate media and Matt Drudge, there was no voter fraud in Dixville Notch, and nobody ran out of Democratic ballots. But Brad is worried about the fact that, while the small towns hand-counted their ballots, a significant number of precincts used Diebold machines, which is worth thinking about given how far off the pre-election polls were. Even Errington Thompson seems unable to explain the results.

Also in eVoting in the News!: "Yay! The NYT, famous for incomplete and lackluster coverage of the national disaster of electronic voting, has published the story they should have published six years ago. Kudos to them. [Not quite - there was a lot more to be said six years ago.] It's 8,000 words long and if you are new to the issue, I recommend that you read it. If, when you are finished, you are depressed and/or confused, I will give you the antidote now: All the problems mentioned in the story can be solved with voter-marked paper ballots and proper audits. Municipalities should feel free to waste millions of taxpayer dollars on any fancy schmancy ballot counting devices they want as long as those results are used for preliminary, always unofficial results and the official results wait for the hand count of the voter-marked paper ballots. Precinct-based op-scans are a good way to go. "

You all know how much I don't love Hillary, but this is sexist bollocks from Paul Waldman. Let's remember exactly what Hillary was saying when she choked up, shall we? She was saying these words: "I have so many opportunities from this country. I just don't want to see us fall backwards." If you can entertain that thought for a full second without feeling emotional, you're either stupid or dead. We're in real trouble here, and it hurts. We do not have time for this MCP crap.

Huh, it's all spin that Rudy ignored New Hampshire - in fact, he spent piles of money there. Not doing too good in Florida, either.

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20:48 GMT


New Hampshire notes

So, Hillary won [the voting numbers; delegate count], and like Patrick, I think some of that Clinton-bashing may have brought out some support for her. (I also think people who actually saw what she was talking about when she choked up may actually have been moved by it.) And some of us are just happy to see the press slapped in the face. Interestingly, although Obama still seems to have most of the youngest voters, Hillary got a bigger chunk of those under 30 than expected. (Here's a little first-person detail from one caucusing blogger.) But there's another theory that puts independent voters in the picture as moving Obama votes to McCain.

John Edwards says 48 states left to go; too many Americans' voices aren't being heard. Charles Dodgson, who has suddenly been writing more regularly at Through the Looking Glass, says Edwards seems the best of the lot. (Charles also mentions lame libertarians.)

Sam Seder checks out Rudy-love in New Hampshire.

You may not have heard of a few of the candidates who were running in New Hampshire, but Jim Macdonald has a list. I was particularly thrilled to learn about the surging candidacy of Vermin Supreme.

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15:18 GMT


A couple of things

I think we have about 12% reporting from New Hampshire at the moment.

Hillary Clinton  14,462 40%   
Barack Obama     13,201 36%   
John Edwards      6,176 17%   
Bill Richardson   1,569  4%   
Dennis Kucinich     756  2%  

John McCain       8,109 38%   
Mitt Romney       6,135 29%   
Mike Huckabee     2,699 13%   
Rudy Giuliani      1,955 9%   
Ron Paul           1,867 9%   
Fred Thompson        318 2%  
Duncan Hunter        127 1% 

Meanwhile... I got this sad e-mail today from Pandora saying they were going to be forced to block UK users because they haven't been able to convince the MCPS/PRS Alliance to allow them to do it for a reasonable rate. It looks like they may have the same problem in America eventually, but for now they have been blocking most outside-of-the-US addresses and as from January 15th will block the UK as well. I really liked the way they picked music for me, and I think this is just another example of the music industry killing a golden goose - but we already knew how hostile they have been to internet radio. It's just stupid.

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01:41 GMT


Tuesday, 08 January 2008

"Shoot, a fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff!"

Glenn Greenwald is talking about the way the press injects itself and it's desires into its "reporting":

At The New Republic's blog, Jason Zengerle confesses what is and has long been too obvious to require much proof -- the media is uncontrollably in love with John McCain. And Zengerle's reason why this is so is equally unsurprising: McCain gives them unfettered access, so they love him. Everything is about them, and whichever politician flatters and charms these adolescent, coddled narcissists is the recipient of their uncritical love (that explains much, though not all, of their profound failure in covering the Bush campaigns and administration).
I remember how the press hated Bush for a while in 2000 when he wasn't accessible, and then all of a sudden he realized he was going to have to court them and they fell in love.

I have to admit, I'm unclear on what makes the Democrats so much less "accessible", though. Are they refusing to talk to the press? Are they unfriendly? I can see why Hillary wouldn't feel very friendly about them, but what about the others? Are they hiding or something?

In any case, the press did decide a long time ago that they don't like Edwards, which seems to be why we heard so much about how McCain and Obama were surging, but not about the one candidate who was seriously surging in the polls:

As but one example, consider this new daily tracking poll today from Rasumussen Reports. At least according to this poll, it is true that there has been one candidate who has been genuinely surging in the last week or two among Democratic voters nationally -- John Edwards:

[chart]

Edwards -- who, just one week ago, was 10 points behind Obama nationally among Democrats -- is now only two points behind him. Less than a month ago, he trailed Clinton by 29 points. Now it's 13 points. He is, by far, at his high point of support nationwide. Apparently, the more exposure Democratic voters get to Edwards and his campaign positions -- and that exposure has been at its high point during his surge -- the more they like him. By contrast, Obama is more or less at the same level of support nationally, even having decreased some since his Iowa win (for most of mid-Decemeber, he was at 27-28 points).

Yet to listen to media reports, Edwards doesn't even exist. His campaign is dead. He has no chance. They hate Edwards, hate his message, and thus rendered him invisible long ago, only now to declare him dead -- after he came in second place in the first caucus of the campaign.

Dorothy Rabinowitz has some more love for McCain at the WSJ, but I guess that's no surprise.

In The Nation, Christopher Hayes offers an unrelated reason for Why Campaign Coverage So Often Sucks, and why just replacing the reporters with better ones probably wouldn't solve the problem.

At Leninology, an article dismissing all of the candidates as "pompous frauds", called "The Other White Meat". (Also: Ron Paul supporters get everywhere.)

Bill Scher notes that the Republicans don't seem to have given much thought to how they would run against Obama. Maybe they assume they won't have to, either because it hasn't occurred to them that he could actually win the nomination, or because they expect that GOP operatives will run the real campaign against their opponent, which will be the dirty, nasty (racist, sexist, etc.) stuff that they won't want to touch, themselves.

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19:38 GMT


Last night's links

Okay, so Hillary choked up when talking about not wanting to lose our country. Who doesn't? At least it's good to hear that she may have an inkling of what's going on and how bad it is. We haven't seen much of that, have we? Edwards' reaction wasn't as bad as rumored, but it was still wrong.

Weldon Berger muses on The comedy stylings of Bill Kristol. And so does The Rude Pundit.

Sean Hannity set upon by wild Ron Paul supporters - runs away. Second victim was Frank Luntz. (Via Maru, who also posted this.)

Thers expresses surprise that some men are now claiming to have had abortions. Yes, that's right, the anti-choice boys have worked up their very own victimization take on it so they can go crying to legislators about how miserable they are. Funnily enough, none of them are dying in childbirth or from botched abortions. We'll have to fix that, I guess, so they can have the full experience. (Not to mention the vomiting and back pain.)

When David Simon first came to work at The Baltimore Sun, they sat him next to me. Once I moved here, I didn't hear much about him until Ettlin told me he'd written this book, then there was the TV show. When Homicide finally came to British television, we watched it avidly - great show. Someday I may get to see The Wire, so I can have an opinion on the discussion of it that's going around.

Please get better, Arthur.

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12:12 GMT


On the landscape

PSoTD: "One of the questions that hasn't really been asked is what a John Edwards Presidency might mean for the future of Democratic Party campaign fundraising. If he were somehow to win the nomination and the general election, on a resource strategy of no PAC or special interest funding, then what impact would that have on Democratic Party campaigns for races at the Congressional, Gubernatorial and other levels in the future? Would it become some sort of standard? We may not find out, but I'm surprised I haven't seen the discussion somewhere."

Watching Those We Chose has its Top 10 of 2007 -- Wurlitzer Prize for Wingnuttery posted.

The fair and balanced Palm Beach Post covers the primaries.

So, Obama and Edwards can do really well in the primaries, but what about those super-delegates?

It's not just that Norman Solomon says that if Edwards were to win the nomination, he would be "the most progressive Democrat to top the national ticket in more than half a century," but Kucinich knows it, too. So, why did you tell your supporters to vote for Obama, Dennis? (And why don't we hear more about Edwards' match-up numbers?)

Roz Kaveney's appraisal of Obama reminds me: America doesn't really need Obama to bring us together, because we already are together with just about anyone who isn't a movement conservative/Republican. We want liberal programs and we don't want crazy neocon wars or stupid privatized "services" and destructive monetarist trade/economic policies. There's a minority that will hate Obama just for being a Democrat, but there's no pleasing them. Everyone else is sick of the Republicans. Messrs. Broder and Sullivan may not get this, but pretty much everyone else does.

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01:12 GMT


Monday, 07 January 2008

Notes

I was listening to Thom Hartmann talking to various people in NH and Ted Olsen was telling him how great Rudy was for New York. Grrr.

Carolyn Kay has her usual collection of media links, including:

  • "Clear Channel could win FCC approval shortly. The scuttlebutt on Wall Street and in Washington is the FCC will sign-off on the $19.5 billion buyout by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners soon - possibly by the end of the week. Only Democrat Michael Copps is expected to vote against the deal." Caro notes that Mitt Romney, a founder of the company, still owns interest in Bain.
  • Dean Baker finds Yet Another Protectionist Cry for "Free Trade" in the NYT that clearly is only about forcing low-skilled or low-paid workers to compete with Chinese slaves, but still protects high-earning professional jobs: "If the NYT ever let a real free trader write a column, they would probably also report on the enormous costs imposed on both the economies of the United States and developing countries through copyright protection and patent protection on prescription drugs. The latter raises drug prices in the United States by close to $200 billion a year (@ $670 per person) over their competitive market price. Free traders would be concerned about such costs. This sum is one or two orders of magnitude greater than the amount of money at stake in trade agreements like CAFTA."
  • Pat Robertson thinks God told him a Democrat will win the election - but he hopes he heard wrong.
  • Oops! Did Barack Obama's campaign run slightly illegal robo-calls in New Hampshire?

I see some else has gone plural, and it's now We Love America More Than Anyone. And some videos of Americans in the Spanish Civil War. Sort of the opposite of Jonah Goldberg.

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22:14 GMT


Juicy stuff

There's a useful post on telecom immunity that explains that Bush wants it to cover up his own crimes - once the telecoms are immune, so is he:

As mcjoan noted, The FISA plot thickens: The Bushies have banned most senators from reading documents that offer legal grounds for warrantless surveillance. Sen. Dodd argued that all Senators should be allowed to read the documents before voting on telecom amnesty...and for good reason. Sen. Whitehouse read the documents, which he characterized as advocating a "legal doctrine for presidential lawbreaking."

The FISA plot thickens again. Bush wants to keep Senators clueless because telecom immunity also gives Bush immunity. Telecom immunity includes by definition the approval of two condition precedents: Bush had constitutional authority for the warrantless surveillance and the surveillance was determined to be lawful. Under the doctrine of Congressional ratification, the effect of this approval is to retroactively "legalize" Bush's authority and program. This means that Bush may have immunity from prosecution. Moreover, for years, Bush could not cite any statutory authority for his theory of unitary presidential prerogatives. Bush will now have precedent.

Atrios just posted one of the funniest things I've seen in a while - the wingers at Red State are whining that it's all the liberals' fault that Red State can't make their software work: "If we'd been a liberal website, we would have been able to fix the problem quickly and relatively cheaply. The online left loves Scoop. Unfortunately, there weren't really any conservative Scoop developers out there to help us. We kept crashing and were out of money."

The Freema Agyeman site has the third Torchwood Series 2 trailer and the Episode One preview.

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19:04 GMT


Some links

If I didn't miss pizza so much, I might never go back to the third world. (Also: Huckenfreude.)

When you write a post about not voting that actually uses the words "Disenfranchising Yourself," it should be obvious that that's what not bothering to vote actually means. I disagree with NTodd so much that I...even left a comment.

Did everyone reading this think "Gulf of Tonkin"?

Tom Tomorrow on The Wisdom and Insight of William Kristol.

You know something? I don't actually want to see Democrats showing how chummy they are with Republicans. I want to see recognition that the Republicans are scum. Maybe it's just me. (This, on the other hand, was gratifying.)

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16:58 GMT


Red meat or meatballs

Sibel Edmonds speaks to the Sunday Times: "In the article, just filed tonight, Edmonds reveals details overheard on wiretaps she translated during her time at the FBI, just after 9/11. Her disclosures to the Times reveal a maze of nuclear black market espionage involving U.S. Defense and State Department officials, that resulted in the sale and propagation of nuclear secrets to Turkish and Israeli interests. In turn, that information was then sold to Pakistan and used by A.Q. Kahn for development of nuclear weapons. The secrets were subsequently proliferated to Iran, Libya, North Korea, and potentially al-Qaeda's Osama bin Laden, just weeks prior to September 11th, 2001." (More from Larisa Alexandrovna.)

Bush Dog Dan Boren is living down to his rep. Digby reports: "David Broder loves David Boren and Bob Kerrey and thinks the country is best served by rabid conservative ideologues and preening Democratic narcissists who lay down for Republicans and fight their own president every step of the way if he wants to enact any kind of progressive legislation. That's called 'getting things done.'"

Josh Marshall says Romney did way better in last night's debate than he did the night before - not just with him, but with uncommitted Republican focus groups. (Astonishingly, the focus group was actually more convinced by Romney's anti-choice stand than by Huckabee's. Which I guess tells you a lot about the insights of the kind of people who are still willing to vote Republican.) (Also, more reasons to kick Mark Penn out of the political consulting biz.)

I don't get why a transsexual who was a victim of discrimination would even bother to use her opportunities for public speaking to argue against equality. Might as well just stay home. (But electrolysis "down there"? Really? Why?)

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12:55 GMT


Sunday, 06 January 2008

Linking onward

Nick Confessore took a look at Mayor Bloomberg's post-partisan policies and found that on all the major policy issues, he is consistent with, or even to the left of, the leading Democrats. Says Greg Sargent, "The Dems represent majority opinion on a host of issues. The GOP doesn't. Broadly speaking, the main obstacle to the realization of multiple policy goals favored by the majority is the "partisan gridlock" being created by the GOP, which is using every parliamentary gimmick at its disposal to frustrate the legislative progress that the American people want. Therefore, if Bloomberg were serious about ending "partisan gridlock" in the service of the very same policy goals he himself espouses, he would devote his efforts and fortune not to the equal demonization of both parties, but to the further weakening of the Republicans. " (Thanks to Julia for the tip.)

Ian Welsh explains Why Financial Crises Will Keep Happening: "The answer is fairly simple, mind you. These sorts of bubbles didn't happen in the post war period. They didn't happen because you couldn't pay enough people enough to make it worth their while. After a certain amount of income, in most western countries, you got taxed at a marginal rate of over 90%. A few CEOs might be able to make it, but most of the executive suite was going to need more than 5 years--they were going to need a career." (And yes, plenty of people realized something was wrong - it was obvious, after all - but those people don't have jobs in Big Media, and no one listened to them.)

From emptywheel, "Boston's Chief Judge: OPR Isn't Doing Its Job: The Chief Judge in Boston just sent Michael Mukasey a letter suggesting DOJ's process for investigating and responding to misconduct from government prosecutors isn't working." For example, someone has to make them obey the law, be truthful in court, and cease other forms of misconduct.

Not only is the timing on this revelation a little strange, but the reporter seems to have received this wisdom out of thin air, for not even the usual unnamed sources are given attribution for the news. (Meanwhile, the whole world is watching America's election this cycle, with particular interest in Pakistan, since everyone knows that Republicans are much friendlier to dictators than Democrats are.)

Vast Left doesn't think he wants to live in Barrytown.

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23:31 GMT


Epiphany

It's Christmas, or the last day of Christmas, depending on how you look at it. I want to wish you the very best, today and every day, and so I'll wish you love, because that's what really matters.

George McGovern calls for impeachment: "As we enter the eighth year of the Bush-Cheney administration, I have belatedly and painfully concluded that the only honorable course for me is to urge the impeachment of the president and the vice president. [...] Bush and Cheney are clearly guilty of numerous impeachable offenses. They have repeatedly violated the Constitution. They have transgressed national and international law. They have lied to the American people time after time. Their conduct and their barbaric policies have reduced our beloved country to a historic low in the eyes of people around the world. These are truly "high crimes and misdemeanors," to use the constitutional standard. [...] I have not been heavily involved in singing the praises of the Nixon administration. But the case for impeaching Bush and Cheney is far stronger than was the case against Nixon and Vice President Spiro T. Agnew after the 1972 election. The nation would be much more secure and productive under a Nixon presidency than with Bush. Indeed, has any administration in our national history been so damaging as the Bush-Cheney era? How could a once-admired, great nation fall into such a quagmire of killing, immorality and lawlessness?" Paul Rosenberg at Open Left says: "A great man has spoken. Is anyone listening?" (Thanks to apikoros for both links.) Don't forget to get all your friends to sign.

Shystee takes a cue from Paul Krugman to discuss the difference between liberals and progressives. Nice discussion of the media filter, too. I have a little problem with this, as numerous people who aren't really all that progressive have started calling themselves "progressive" in order to avoid being called [fnord] "liberal". (Thanks to amberglow for the heads-up.)

Thanks to ron in comments for calling to my attention Samuel Brittan's FT article, "Business growth is not an end in itself." Well, that was always obvious, but this is in the pages of the Financial Times, which is pretty interesting in itself.

The Homeless - keeping you safe. They're better than Batman!

Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie's Lost Girls has been Released at last.

Warren Ellis has the 21st Century update for The Three Laws of Robotics. (Thanks to Dominic for the tip.)

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16:34 GMT


Political notes

Digby has a long, important post that says many things - including that even Candy Crowley has noticed that the public is more interested in getting their government to do what they want than they are in the Gang of 500's wet-dream of "bipartisanship". But the corporatists will always pull out all the stops to prevent progressive change, and they have been remarkably successful even when they are in the minority. Digby says, "When people say they want change it's not because they are tired of "partisan bickering" (which basically consists of derisive Republican laughter.) They're sick of a government that does exactly the opposite of what they want it to do. And they aren't picky about how it gets done. If it can be done with gentle persuasion, that's great. But if it takes a fight, they're all right with that too." And you can be sure it's going to be one hell of a fight.

Okay, now the frightened little twerps on the right are worried that if Obama loses, there will be race riots. Oh, they don't use the phrase, but that's what they mean. Even Professor Reynolds is on this - but then, that's not surprising after some of the other thing's he's said.

MahaBarb has many questions, but perhaps my favorite is this one: "Who's in denial? Michael Gerson says Democrats are in denial because they want to undo all of George Bush's popular and successful policies. Um, who's in denial, Mr. Gerson?" (Speaking of which....)

Confrontational, partisan Democrat. Man, that guy just isn't civil and polite enough to ever win an election! Via C&L.

Joseph A. Palermo seems to be worried about Barack Obama, RFK, and Blackwater.

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11:46 GMT


Hot chocolate and brandy cream

Elle Macpherson Intimates Coranto new underwired braMerry Christmas, and the Bra of the Week

Mike Caulfield at Blue Hampshire: "I should add one last thing here, a bit of an unrelated note -- as a recently displaced Dodd supporter, I am going down to the Edwards office today to help get John Edwards elected. I won't do an endorsement post on Edwards -- you don't get to do two of those in a season. But I think a person at my Caucus-watching Party summarized my feelings perfectly when he said the question is whether you're going to monkey around with this system we have or "rip Reaganomics up by the roots". I'm for the latter."

Picture this: An election run as if it's got to be according to the Comics Code. (And speaking of pictures....)

Steve Benen on Bill O'Reilly's pushy behavior: "We've come a long way - in 1968, it was Dan Rather getting shoved by political heavies. In 2008, it's Bill O'Reilly doing the shoving." John Amato has the visuals, here and here at C&L.

I'm not sure which I like more, Thers' post about the NYT's article on voting machines, or the comments that follow it.

The Washington Post is trying to steal their production workers' pensions. Blatant theft of services, of course.

Someone should ask The Washington Post just exactly what good ideas are coming from the red side of the spectrum that liberals don't already have.

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00:20 GMT


Saturday, 05 January 2008

Things to read

At Fact-esque, eRobin reminds you to Start Planning to Support Dodd on FISA Now, because he can't do it alone. And she has some good suggestions: Take a camera, some signs, and a few friends to the offices of your Senators - ready to post the results on YouTube. This is an important fight and it's worth putting some real energy into.

Thanks also to eRobin for pointing me to Nathan Newman's musings on whether Obama can deliver on issues the way he seems able to deliver on organizational skills.

Lambert has Two simple litmus tests for Obama - Can he undo the damage his "Social Security crisis" language did (by explicitly dismissing SS privatization), and will he stand up on FISA? (Down in my comments* eRobin says she doesn't expect he will, remembering "what he said to Randi Rhodes about the Ohio election fraud.")

Grok Your World says, that Obama's win isn't the huge victory for race relations that some people think it is. (It is worth asking yourself whether even half the excitement would be there if the same candidate was white, f'sure.)

Glenn Greenwald gets to the bottom of why the NYT hired Kristol, and it turns out to be good, old-fashioned wingnut welfare.

Sartorial splendor - Remember when you could get beat up, kicked out of school, arrested and other fun things just for being a guy with longish hair? Admittedly, long hair on guys did a lot more to improve the landscape than baggy pants do, but sending 20 deputies, a copter and the dogs after a guy does seem to be going a bit far.

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17:53 GMT


Campaign notes

One thing that bugs me about people saying that Hillary wouldn't be where she is if her husband hadn't been president is that it isn't exactly unusual for politicians to be where they are because other family members got there first, and Hillary is hardly the only person in the race whose cred attaches to another family member - like, say, Romney and Dodd, remember? Bill and Hillary have been working as a team since forever, and the fact that only one of them got elected doesn't necessarily mean that Bill Clinton doesn't owe plenty to Hillary, too. Most people who "get somewhere" do so because they had connections. I'm not saying this is necessarily a good thing (George Bush), I'm just saying that it doesn't make Hillary especially lightweight. (She's also served in federal elective office longer than most of the people in the race, which has to be worth something.)

And as long as I'm roaming around Wikipedia, I note that in Chris Dodd's entry it says, "He was also considered a possible candidate for replacing Tom Daschle as Senate Minority Leader in 109th Congress, but he declined, and that position was instead filled by Harry Reid." Bet he's sorry he did that.

There have been a few moments in the last week when I was so irritated with Obama's deliberate attempts to tell "the left" to get stuffed that I was starting to feel almost kindly toward Hillary, who actually has kept her distance from us crazy people but at least hasn't routinely attacked us the way he has. Of course, that was only in moments where I briefly forgot about this, which never last very long, and just in case, I see via Atrios a post by Matt about how her campaign is slamming Obama for being too liberal - on "his liberal voting record on criminal defendants' rights as subjects for examination." Yeah, what a wild, over-the-top idea it is to want interrogations to be recorded, or to get rid of minimum sentencing that makes no sense. (So far-left that the Supreme Court just agreed with the latter.)

Ezra Klein has a number of posts discussing the triumph of Obama and the strategic points for Hillary, and nothing on Edwards since this post on Edwards' non-concession speech. But read that post, because it's about why, whatever else you might think of Edwards, it's a very good thing to have him in the race.

Josh Marshall found another dog-whistle on Huckabee's site, in which he claims to be vertical, unlike us reality-based types, who are apparently horizontal thinkers.

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14:28 GMT


A few more links

Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings has published Andy Olmsted's last post: "Andrew Olmsted, who also posted here as G'Kar, was killed yesterday in Iraq. Andy gave me a post to publish in the event of his death; the last revisions to it were made in July." (via)

The Baltimore Sun says Mukasey is appointing Fitzgerald to the Attorney General's advisory committee of U.S. attorneys.

Weirdly, the stock market did not celebrate the rise in joblessness. Maybe they realize it's not just another "opportunity".

Obama's victory speech; Edwards' speech; Dodd's speech.

I see that someone was unhappy to read all that praise of Kenneth Star in the LAT, and said so...in the LAT. (via)

Thanks to Matthew in comments for alerting me that Mike Gravel is still in the race.

Everyone wants to pretend that Ron Paul isn't there. Bad media!

"No winner in Iowa: It was virtually a 3-way tie," says Fruits and Votes.

Can someone remind me again what the justification is supposed to be that makes executive orders Constitutional?

Does Obama know what he's doing? Maybe. All I know is that I remember Tony Blair running to the right and all his supporters assuring us that he was just doing that to win the election but he'd be great once he got into Number 10. Nope, he reigned to the right, as well, just like I expected him to.

Roy Orbison In Clingfilm Haikus

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01:45 GMT


Thursday, 03 January 2008

I hate the weather

Thom Hartmann has been reminding us today that there's no "winning" the Iowa caucuses in the usual sense - there's picking up delegates, and the top three all did well. None of them "lost".

Think Progress is reporting that McCain is talking about Lieberman for his SecDef, and Romney says that while people want change in Washington, they don't want change in the White House. And even a child can tell O'Reilly where the phrase "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" comes from, but he still won't admit he made a mistake by attributing it to the Constitution.

When multiply-honored veteran journalist John Hockenberry complains that NBC has slapped down good stories for bad reasons, they turn around pretend he's some sort of a crackpot. Media BloodHound things that was a mistake. I hope he's right.

Meteor Blades, shocked to discover that many bloggers think Obama's is the first presidential run by any black American, sets the record straight.

Since I messed up the link to this below (fixed, now), I think I'll highlight again eRiposte's piece on Sen. Obama's Uncivil and Polarizing Democrats: "If Sen. Obama's supporters want to argue that he is more progressive than any Republican running for President - I agree wholeheartedly. Will he be a better President than any of the Republicans? Absolutely. What I have a problem with is that he is systematically undermining the foundations and icons of the progressive movement using Republican talking points - just like his mentor Joe Lieberman. There will be a high cost to pay if he continues down this trajectory and it'll be too late to change this trajectory once he is in office."

Thanks to Charles for letting me know that SusanUnPC at No Quarter has a whole slew of posts taking Obama apart. (Although I always advise being careful about FactCheck.org.)

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20:25 GMT


Caucus round-up

Okay, let's get this out of the way:

Final numbers over at The Left Coaster:

Senator Barack Obama : 37.58%
Senator John Edwards : 29.75%
Senator Hillary Clinton : 29.47%
Governor Bill Richardson : 2.11%
Senator Joe Biden : 0.93%
Uncommitted : 0.14%
Senator Chris Dodd : 0.02%
Precincts reporting: 1781 OF 1781
(Percentages are state delegate equivalents.)
At The Group News Blog, an even more interesting line-up:
Percentage of total vote

24.5% Obama
20.5% Edwards
19.8% Clinton
11.4% Huckabee (R)

A lot more people turned out for the Dems.

Although Edwards came in second, he was not near enough to Obama, and not far enough ahead of Clinton, for anyone to see it as a stronger position, and some feel that even her third-place win doesn't hurt Hillary as much as Edwards' second-place win hurts him. I suspect that, though those among us who have been watching Edwards closely have come to believe his transformation is for real, his record prior to 2004 is still dragging him down with others. Nevertheless, there are many who think Edwards did well to come in second ahead of Hillary, and certainly agree with Edwards that the result "is a repudiation of status quo."

There's no arguing with Obama's success with young voters, who he drew in record numbers to the caucuses.

(Miss Laura at DKos noted a fascinating glimpse into the thinking at the NYT as an offensive paragraph in their coverage was edited later to make lemonade.)

Biden, Gravel, and Dodd all dropped out after their trace showings, but Dodd sent out a letter graciously thanking us for supporting his actions on FISA and promising that he will keep fighting for the Constitution and will still need us when Harry Reid brings it up again. I actually believe that Dodd was never seriously running for president but was using the race as a way to highlight his positions, the reverse of the way he's been painted as "grandstanding" on FISA for the sake of his presidential campaign. (I'm pretty sure Dodd knew he wasn't going to be on the ticket all along.) I think this is about the Senate, and it's not too early to let your Senators know how much you love Dodd's efforts to recover the Constitution and really protect America.

MSNBC showed some sanity by balancing Chris Matthews with Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow for their coverage last night. Rachel did a fine job of countering Matthews' usual attempts to frame anything and everything as a chance to get down on Hillary.

Steve Benen found a moronic claim by Novakula charging Hillary with premature triangulation on healthcare and claiming this is what hurt her in Iowa. As Steve notes, this makes no sense, but not, I think, for the reasons he gives. I do think Hillary has triangulated - between the healthcare-insurance complex and the rest of America - but Obama's plan is even more so. The least triangulated plan is Edwards', since it is clearly designed to lead to Medicare-for-all. (Kucinich's plan, of course, didn't bother to even play with that triangulation, going straight to MFA, but he's not one of last night's winners.)

I won't pretend to be happy about the guy who said this carrying the banner for the Democratic party today, but he sure seems to inspire a lot of passion, especially among younger voters. It would just be so much better if we could get that kind of energy for someone who had Edwards' message of taking the country back for the people rather than Obama's message of "I'm the first guy who ever thought of having people in Washington talk to each other," which is pure BS and sounds more like LSD-sodden hippie talk. It's Perot's Woodstock Nation rhetoric all over again, and it has nothing to do with what's really going on. Each side's agenda is anathema to the other side, and you don't deal with that by pretending that the reason they can't agree has nothing to do with the fact that they don't agree.

Meanwhile, Lieberman stood with McCain as he advocated staying in Iraq for 100 years.

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14:43 GMT

Some links

It's hard to pick which disastrous fact of the last 15 years is the worst, but even leaving aside all of the others this would be scary no matter what. A perfect Congress would impeach all of them, too - and if wishes were horses, etc.

In a post I should have linked earlier in the day, Kevin Hayden makes a plea to stop front-loading Dem primaries to the right-wing.

TNH provided a reminder of the 2004 piece Top 10 Secrets They Don't Want You to Know About the Debates.

Matt Taibbi seems to have turned off his cynical lens for this article (or at least turned the filter down), but I wonder if he's turned off his BS detector as well.

If Sara Jane Moore was paranoid before...

It's not like he hasn't been asking for it for a long time, but oh, man are they beating up on Obama at Corrente.

Gary has info on how to get a digital box.

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23:31 GMT


A variety of flavors

It has been brought to my attention* that some people didn't get the "obscure cultural reference"* below, so: Once upon a time there was a a British television show called Danger Man starring Patrick McGoohan as secret agent John Drake, which was also picked up by American television and renamed Secret Agent (with a new theme song by P.F. Sloan, sung by Johnny Rivers.) Later, McGoohan starred as a character who might have been John Drake (always addressed as "Number 6") in a somewhat more surreal show called The Prisoner which took place in "the village", shot in the strange and beautiful Welsh folly/village of Portmeirion. The background of the latter story might be that Drake resigned from the service in disgust and was kidnapped and held in this strange village against his will, presumably at the behest of his former employers. He is constantly trying to (a) figure out who is behind it all and (b) escape their clutches.

Tristero is trying to choose the most significant scandal of the Bush era. Tough choice, but I'm still going with the 2000 election, stolen in plain sight, and resulting in all that followed. (And no wonder the wingnuts have lost interest in the oil for food scandal.)

"Rebuilding Labor from the Bottom Up" - Adam Doster reviews two books on the subject, at The American Prospect.

Jim Macdonald's phone keeps ringing with polls about the coming New Hampshire primary. This time, it was a human being. (And by the way, the trouble with this is that Buffy villains are still cooler than Republican candidates, and better looking, too.)

The WaPo lists their most popular items of the year. I'm delighted that Froomkin is so popular and Broder isn't, but Cheney and Kristol? Don't link to them! Don't follow links to them!

Is it Vestigial religious bigotry, or some creepier reason why unconstitutional religious tests are still found in the constitutions of several states? (Thanks to Mr. Sideshow for the tip.)

Sam Seder says this Edwards ad is making it hard for him to be sure he'll vote for Obama.

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15:22 GMT


Did I mention impeachment?

I see over at Wexler's site, he's posted an article from The Forward about his campaign. Among other things, it says, "For what it's worth, of the measure's 27 signed backers - Kucinich and his 24 co-sponsors, Wexler and an ally plus one more who signed both - fully 18, or two-thirds, are either black or Jewish. It shows that the old coalitions for justice are hardier than you think. It also shows how limited is the power of minorities when they can't mobilize the majority."

I got mail from Wexler saying he has a plan and wants our money: "With your support I want to make a major Internet advertising buy on Google that will guarantee that for the next two weeks, every person that looks up "Dick Cheney" on Google sees an advertisement for our petition. With your help we can own "Cheney" on the web." Hey, I like that! Get it done.

And Rorschach alerts me to this article saying that the impeachment movement is picking up support.

Up to 176,641 as I write this. Did you get someone to sign today?

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13:50 GMT


The Villagers

I love my commenters. I loved Alan Bostick before he was one of my commenters, but I love him as one of my commenters. It's so nice to wake up and find this in the comments first thing when I get up:

The thing to keep in mind when reading Yglesias is that he has been abducted by mysterious forces and taken to the Village:

Matt Yglesias: Where am I?

Sinister Voice: You are in the Village.

MY: Whose side are you on?

SV: We're bipartisan.

MY: What do you want?

SV: Business as usual.

MY: Who are you?

SV: David Bro--err, the new Pundit Number Two.

MY: Who is Pundit Number One?

SV: You are Pundit Number Six. ... We want business as usual ... Business as usual ... BUSINESS AS USUAL....

MY: You won't get it!

SV: By hook or by crook, we will.

(SFX: an ominous bubbling sound)
(The terrifying gasbag that is Rush Limbaugh floats to the surface and pursues the fleeing Pundit Number Six)

MY: I am not a pundit; I am a free man!

SV: Buahahahahahahahahahaha....!

[Update]

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11:34 GMT


News and stuff

Michael Moore says it's not actually an endorsement, but he comes pretty close to endorsing Edwards.

Where's the Outrage? is having a contest to pick the Bush Administration's best move of 2007 to undermine the Constitution - with a prize! Win $100 gift certificate from Amazon for the best answer. (via)

The World's Most Obnoxious Feminist Concern Troll wrote another smeary item in the NYT, and Melissa McEwan and Echidne have a few words to say about her latest.

Are there actually people who think that being arrested is appropriate salvation from smoking some dope? (And other links, too.)

Thank you, DNCC, for choosing Qwest - the one telecom that didn't agree to break the law for Bush - as your provider for the Democratic convention.

Matthew Duss at Tapped presents his contender for worst column of the year, in which Tony Blankley, who seems to think the cost of the war has bought us some things it, um, didn't.

Matthew's post about Juno would be massively improved by not using the term "pro-life" to refer to forced pregnancy activists.

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01:16 GMT


Wednesday, 02 January 2008

I think I want Edwards to win the nomination

I'm starting to feel bad about the fact that I waited so long to say I'm feeling like Edwards has to be the nominee, because it's starting to feel too late. The more I see of the presidential candidates, the more I wish we'd known all this stuff earlier. As early as the voting in this primary has started, I feel like we've been having to do a lot of catch-up in a hurry. But suddenly the candidates are doing more things to distinguish themselves from each other, and it's not shaking up quite the way I expected. On paper, Obama looks the most progressive of the top three, but suddenly he's talking like a Republican, while Edwards is looking like the real progressive. And I'm starting to find out more and more about why, too.

The thing is, Obama has been fairly vague up until now, and the more specific he gets, the more specifically he seems to be excluding rather than inclusive, while Edwards seems to have been on a progressive journey.

So, the crazy John Edwards has acknowledged the ridiculousness of leaving troops in Iraq to train Iraqis and said he'll stop that nonsense if elected. I'm sure that will sit very, very badly with the "sensible" folks on the Hill.

Matt Stoller and eRiposte discuss Obama's history of running against progressives. Not surprising, since he has three big lobbyists (with ties to Lockheed-Martin) acting as his advisors. He's also getting plenty in donations from the medical/pharmalogical/insurance complex and the financial industry shills for privatizing Social Security. Since Matt and Chris Bowers have been talking about the impact of advisors on the quality of an elective official's performance, I think this may be a serious indicator of why Obama can't be trusted to govern as a progressive.

Lambert has added a final, closing comment to his big Obama post (go to this page and scroll down to the bottom) wondering if a lot of people who are arguing with him don't get that this doesn't work like a computer game.

Sam Seder has a campaign post up and notes this vote-match toy I hadn't seen before, and this NYT guide to the candidates on the issues.

Go vote in the Open Left straw poll.

A little reminder about Ron Paul.

I just heard Dennis Kucinich interviewed by Thom Hartmann, and I have to admit that he kinda irritated me. On the other hand, it's nice that he is willing to do a live, unscripted interview on AAR - most leadership Democrats (and I don't just mean the presidential candidates) have tended to avoid the network, and Hartmann in particular, because AAR's hosts don't play to the accepted narratives (set up by the GOP!) and tend to ask real questions off-script. But both John and Elizabeth Edwards have been pretty generous with their time with AAR, and I've found them to sound pretty sincere and honest. (Chris Dodd has also gone on the air for unscripted interview with them, which surprised me. Mike Gravel has, as well, but then that's a lot less surprising.)

But I think Kucinich blew it for me with his sudden urging of his supporters to give their second-place support to Obama. Everything he's said suggests that it's about him rather than about who would be good for the country or for the progressive movement. Kucinich certainly must know that he's not going to be the nominee, and he surely knows that Edwards is closer to him than Obama in terms of the progressiveness of his positions - and yet he's treating him as competition rather than as a potential standard bearer for the progressive message. That's just wrong.

The other thing I didn't think would happen is that the Republican field is so pathetic that McCain actually has a chance to be the nominee, and is looking more and more plausible every day.

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18:57 GMT


Stumbling down the campaign trail

Happy birthday, Patrick. And also thanks for linking Nora Ephron's Top Ten New Year's Resolutions.

Over at Open Left, Paul Rosenberg is asking a question that has also baffled me for quite a while: Why aren't the top-tier Democrats making a big stink about the fact that Republicans are hollowing out our armed forces? "And this is all brought to you by the folks who spent most of the 1990s ragging on Clinton for supposedly creating a "hollow military." Well, once again, it turns out that the best way to know what the GOP is up to is to look at what they accuse Democrats of doing." You'd think they'd talk about this every time the GOP/media so much as hint at the idea that it's the Democrats who "don't support the troops". (Meanwhile, Chris Bowers discusses what it means that Kucinich has encouraged his supporters to give their second-choice votes to Obama, and makes the case that only an Edwards win will be attributed to progressivism.)

Interestingly, Rasmussen's polling shows Obama with the highest unfavorable rating, and Edwards with the lowest, of the top three contenders. One more reason to think that Edwards really is the most "electable" of the bunch.

You know, Ron Paul might be about to supply some very serious entertainment (and head explosions) in the primary season. He even has a fighting chance to beat Giuliani.

Kevin Maroney also makes The Case for Edwards, and not without good reason.

At Balkinization, Mark Graber susses out the reasons for all the establishment excitement about Fake Centrism/Bipartisanship.

Paul Krugman on The Great Divide: "What seems harder to understand is whatís happening on the other side - the degree to which almost all the Republicans have chosen to align themselves closely with the unpopular policies of an unpopular president. And I'm not just talking about their continuing enthusiasm for the Iraq war. The G.O.P. candidates are equally supportive of Bush economic policies. [...] On economics, and on much else, there is no common ground between the parties." And not much common ground between the GOP and the rest of America, either.

Before he left for his Christmas holiday of searching for a job as a lumberjack, Bob Somerby examined the question, "Is there any person, in any profession, who knows fewer facts than Chris Matthews?"

Where the hell is The Poor Man?

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14:25 GMT


Late links

In an update to this post, Glenn Greenwald says: "On a not unrelated note, the annual survey of worldwide privacy rights conducted by Privacy International and EPIC has been released for 2007, and the U.S. has been downgraded from "Extensive Surveillance Society" to "Endemic Surveillance Society," the worst possible category there is for privacy protections, the category also occupied by countries such as China, Russia, Singapore and Malaysia. The survey uses a variety of objective factors to determine the extent of privacy protections citizens enjoy from their government, and the U.S. now finishes at the bottom for obvious reasons. "

Amanda Marcotte started the year off with a book review: "The obsession with virginity is a direct result of the fact that itís more myth than fact."

Diane is pleased to see Adam Liptak's article in the NYT about that loony RIAA claim that it's illegal to copy music you've bought for your own private use. She also finds another good under-reported story.

Just in case you were wondering which country to escape to, let me not suggest this one. (I never, never liked these guys.)

Impeach.

Jane Smiley is unhappy enough with the NYT's new hire that she's saying good-bye to the paper.

So, it's just what it looks like - Obama's version of bringing us together and having unity and all that is just telling the Democratic base to bugger off. Thanks for all the love, man. (Also: More reasons to support Edwards, just because the Stepford Press is so afraid of him.)

Mike's Blog Round Up, because I'm too lazy.

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02:32 GMT


Tuesday, 01 January 2008

Snakes and ladders

There are potentially not one but two stories in this article at The Raw Story - the first, that Ralph Nader came mighty close to endorsing John Edwards, and the second, that he did it on Hardball, and Matthews gave him lots of space to do it. Oh, and when Tweety asked him about whether he caused Gore to lose in Florida, Nader gave the right answer: Gore won. It's worth watching the video to see what he said about Obama, too.

I see Richard Cohen is at it again. This is almost as good as the time he wrote the column that was followed with my favorite Cohen quote of all time: "Correction: In my column of Sept. 6 I mistakenly attributed the quotation, "Our nation is chosen by God and commissioned by history to be a model to the world" to Joseph Lieberman. In fact, the quotation was from George W. Bush." Cohen had devoted that entire column to trashing Lieberman for something he'd never said. He never took Bush to task for such utterances. (Bob Somerby had a lot of fun with Cohen's truthiness last February.) For the record, so you don't have to read it, the article is about how Obama "lied" about the proportion of black men in prison compared to college. Actually, he didn't. But then, neither did Edwards lie about his haircut. Cohen expects others to be accurate and truthful (if they're Democrats), but does not hesitate to lie about them if he can say they're not.

Chris Bowers: "Given that these are the only conservative pieces of legislation that Democrats in Congress have blocked in the past five years, one must assume that a "government of national unity" means a government that will confirm[] 100% of all conservative judges, the destruction of social security, retroactive immunity of telecom companies, and the mass deportation of twelve million people. If this third-party did not favor these things, then there would be absolutely no need to form "a government of national unity." Those four things are the sum total of what Democrats in Congress have prevented Republicans from passing, and thus are the entirety of what Democrats have contributed to "gridlock in Washington." Every other reform has been blocked by Republicans." (Via Arizona Eclectic, where I also saw this nasty little surprise. "If the people don't fight this, between an increasingly authoritarian government (including Democrats) and the corporate lust for absolute power over employees, individual citizens of this country will have no rights at all.")

Here and here, it turns out that Sammy's little daughter has good taste in video clips.

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19:43 GMT


Feed your head

I'm told that the BBC has made last night's Later with Jools Holland "Hootenanny" available for viewing outside of the UK, so let me recommend you watch it while you can. McCartney does a strong "Got to Get You Into My Life", and there are a lot of other strong guests - despite which, the camera just can't seem to stay away from David Tennant and John Simm. You can watch individual clips or the whole show in four parts.

The Black Congressional Caucus has turned out to be a bit of a disappointment these days, a shadow of it's former self, but there's one guy in Congress whose record has been consistent with the views of most progressives and most of America's black citizens. Bruce Dixon asks, "Is Dennis Kucinich: the 'black candidate'?"

Josh agrees that it's an outrage that Fox is excluding Ron Paul from the debates even though they are including Fred Thompson. I think he forgot who Fox is, though, when he wrote this: "So, it's all about Fox News. Paul's out because he's not a Fox News Bush-clone. Say whatever you want about the guy, Fox News shouldn't be able to silence him because they don't like his views." Um, that's what Fox is all about, Josh. (Also: Obama seems to have the first-place lead in a trusted poll, but I'm not counting Edwards out yet, since he seems to have everyone's second-place votes.)

Fred Clark says Mona Charon can't get off the hook even if she has never personally torn out anyone's fingernails.

Asymmetrical colon cancer provides the last death in Gitmo of 2007, and this: "It's not as if we can any longer trust our own government to tell us (or could for some time). And as I've said before: if our government were up to anything good, it would want us to know. The very existence of a law-free zone like Guantanamo-- or the fact that it is but the tip of a much larger international gulag archipelago iceberg-- belies that anything good-- or truthful-- would be likely to come out of it." It seems our government misled Michael Moore about the quality of the medical care available at Guantanamo.

The Washington Post is not making sense, but they think it's all the Iraqis' fault.

The rising atheist movement. (And the best news of the week.)

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15:29 GMT


Assorted links

Nicole reminds me that some of you may never have read Steve's "I'm a fighting liberal", and if you haven't, it might just be a good way to start the year.

Last July Dave Johnson said something I wish more of the big-money liberal donors would remember about the need for progressive infrastructure: "While Progressives Talk To Each Other, Conservatives Talk To The Public." Blogging is great, and dog knows it's better than what we had before, but most people pick up their news and understanding of events virtually through osmosis while the television or radio plays in the background (or maybe the foreground, but they aren't sitting there reading it). Thanks to D2 for reminding me.

Impeace. (I think I'd like a little .gif that flashes between "In peace" and "Impeach" to go with that.)

Satanism is Alive and Well.

Charles Dodgson muses on the background of Benazir Bhutto.

Thanks to Julia for bringing Quiddity's piece on what sort of creature writes for The New York Times to my attention. Unfortunately, I don't believe Rosenthal is smart enough, or honest enough, to understand it.

Wouldn't you know, your so-called liberal media has discovered that gentleman scholar, Kenneth Starr. Gee whiz.

Thers has located the liberal blogosphere.

Top Ten Signs Your Country May Be Going Fascist (via).

The perfect bathroom wallpaper, (via).

They show ads like this on television?

Pruning Shears decided to end the year with a bit of frivolity and do a Best Music post. I didn't fall in love with any of it, but then, that doesn't happen to me very often.

Bonus lingerie

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13:14 GMT


Happy New Year

Mark at the Biomes Blog has a message for you so important that it has to be delivered by the Royal Navy. And some other stuff.

The BooMan: "It's amazing how much we've learned over the last four years. We've learned about how a large segment of the Democratic Party is sympathetic to neo-conservatism and doesn't care about our civil liberties or the balance of powers. We've learned that the mainstream press is more likely to aid and abet an obstruction of justice than they are to report what they know about White House crimes to the America people. We've learned just how much New Democrats and the Democratic Leadership Council hate the left-wing of the Democratic Party. We've learned that the Washington Post editorial board is little better than the Wall Street Journal editorial board or FOX News. Now, we learn that even the New York Times editorial board is more inclined to amplify the most discredited people in the country than they are to push new voices that have been proven prescient." (via)

Jesus General on The Guliani /Karadzic Solution. (Nice new bumper-sticker you have up there, General.)

Ruth seems to be finding those silver linings.

Down in comments, ron just told me about this really depressing blog full of stuff I am trying not to know yet.

Every now and then we like to check in and see what The Sixth Brother is up to. Seems his brothers aren't that pleased that he is supporting Ron Paul instead of their dad, and it's caused a little friction....

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00:42 GMT


Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, January 2008


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