The Sideshow

Archive for July 2005

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Sunday, 31 July 2005

More stuff to see

Via this post at Seeing the Forest on the DLC's war against Democrats, an article at My Left Wing on how With Democratic Support, Bush Agenda Moves Forward. (And while you're there, a few words on the skin game.)

Nathan Newman considers whether putting Roberts on the Supreme Court poses a threat to affirmative action, and concludes that it all depends on whether he is lying about his judicial philosophy. He certainly wouldn't be the first conservative to claim he believed in some principle of judicial restraint or respect for the legislature who really just meant he approved of conservative changes and disapproved of liberal change.

TalkLeft doesn't expect Roberts will be much of a friend to the accused in court, either.

How do you solve a problem like Joe Biden?

Roger Ailes considers the possibility that Cliff May May Be The Stupidest Person Alive.

In words and pictures, How Not to Make Me Ex-Gay, via StoutDemBlog.

Operation Nuke the Mullahs

The Infinite Flickr, via Ampersand.

23:59 BST

Places to be

Robert Parry on Why We Need Investigative Reporting - or, more precisely, why we need to make sure we still have some. I truly do not understand why people like George Soros aren't pouring money into things like Consortium News. Didn't they notice what's been going on for the last 20 years?

It's not like the administration wasn't told that they were planning to violate US law: An FBI agent warned superiors in a memo three years ago that U.S. officials who discussed plans to ship terror suspects to foreign nations that practice torture could be prosecuted for conspiring to violate U.S. law, according to a copy of the memo obtained by NEWSWEEK.

Bill Scher manfully tries to get a word in edgewise against not only Paul Mirengoff of Powerlie but A Blonde who really wants to make sure Bill doesn't get to say anything in this video clip from MSNBC. Talking points are clearly sign-posted. Back at LiberalOasis, Bill charts a clear pathway for Dems on how to use the info released on John Roberts and making sure the Republicans carry the can for CAFTA.

Impolitic finds more clues to the building of a new federal police state.

I really enjoyed Why Spankin' Joe Braun's kinks are fair game! by jabbausaf at Daily Kos. Don't forget to answer the poll question.

Mark Schmitt reports that, "Santorum has fashioned something new: a mean-spirited, intolerant liberalism."

19:27 BST

Stuff I saw

David Sirota says it's time for labor unions to stop wasting money on Democrats who sell workers out. Democrats who voted for CAFTA should be the first to go. Look, it was one thing back in the nineties to support NAFTA when no one really knew what it would do and there were promises that protections for workers would be added on (which was stupid to believe, but that was then when it was merely stupid), but given our experience with that mistake, there is simply no excuse at all to keep supporting this nonsense.

Brad Plumer spells out some of the problems with racial profiling. I think he doesn't go far enough, but it's a start.

One of the great rarely-asked questions is, "Who forged the yellowcake documents?" One suspect is John Bolton, who looks set for a recess appointment to the UN.

I realize the administration hates the EPA, but I didn't expect them to try to send them to Iraq.

'This Guy is a Modern-Day Hitler' - a chapter from Norman Solomon's War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

At the Huffington Post, Eric Boehlert notes that Newsweek mocked "Liberal bloggers [who] floated conspiracy theories," about John Roberts' participation in the 2000 election theft, but The Miami Herald proved it was the "conspiracy theorists", not Newsweek, who had it right.

14:53 BST


The party was nice, but I was really hoping the warm weather was going to hold. It didn't. Oh, well, at least there are strawberries and cream left for breakfast.

Let's see what's happening over at Memeorandum...

There's nothing like another Max Boot column to inspire beauty from the few real libertarians out there. Arthur Silber: Max Boot, a real man's man (look at that strong jaw!) and the neocons' neocon-which means that he has been completely wrong about everything of importance for the last several years (at least)-has bad dreams about the threat represented by China. Henley enjoyed this one, too, as did the similarly-inspired Gene Healy.

Jimmy Carter can't do or say anything without the wingnuts rising up to sneer at him. Put that together with such a moment of real moral clarity as noting that the Guantanamo detentions are disgraceful and you're ready for an outbreak of so much fruitcake you'd think it was Christmas. "Jimmy Insults American Military On Foreign Soil," says Captain Ed, typically unable to distinguish the troops from the policy-makers. Betsy Newmark says, "Jimmy Carter is a disgrace." She apparently thinks it's a myth that things are bad at Guantanamo. News for Betsy: Yes, it really is a violation of the Constitution to hold people indefinitely without charging them, and that is outrage enough. And guess what - it doesn't fight terrorism, either. Polipundit says: "Modern-Day Leftism is *Not* a Political Ideology - It's a mental disorder." As if we needed more evidence of right-wing projection.

Meanwhile, I almost feel sorry for Nicholas Kristof, who is so well-meaning, and it's probably going to hurt him terribly when he finally tumbles to what's going on just a hair's-breadth beneath the surface (where the rest of us can already see it): "For the vast majority of humans, terror comes in more mundane ways - like the violent hands that woke Dr. Shazia Khalid as she lay sleeping in her bed, and the abuse she's suffered at the hands of Mr. Musharraf's government ever since." As Susie Madrak of Suburban Guerrilla and Armando at Daily Kos both note, our dedication to rooting out evil governments seems to fall just a little bit short when it comes to the blooming utopia of Pakistan. But, c'mon, you knew Bush was funnin' about stopping terror the minute he started playing footsie with Musharraf, right?

12:35 BST

Saturday, 30 July 2005

Recommended reading

I guess it's so obvious it almost doesn't need saying, but Joel Peskoff says it anyway: "I don't accuse President Bush of being a foreign agent, but can anyone imagine how a real Manchurian Candidate could have weakened the United States any more effectively?"

Just for me, Arthur Silber alerts us to the fact that Matt Taibbi has finally stopped refusing to acknowledge the story of the Ohio election - and like most people who do look for real, he's starting to see why some of us are so alarmed: "Here's the thing about Ohio. Until you really look at it, you won't understand its significance, which is this: the techniques used in this particular theft have the capacity to alter elections not by dozens or hundreds or even thousands of votes, but by tens of thousands."

Demosthenes observes that if you (a) announce that you are selling out your principles for political expediency and then (b) sell out your principles, people are likely to get the impression that you're a bunch of cynics who are selling out your principles for political expediency. The attack on violent video games from the DLC-ers really just does suggest that they are working for the RNC so that they can do this crap and then the RNC can accuse the Democrats of people who would cynically say "anything" in order to try to scare up votes. It's the kind of thing that makes you think the DLC in fact gets paid to scare away votes. The RNC made loads of hay out of the fact that some Democrats were involved in the passage of the Computer Decency Act, without noting that virtually all Republicans were behind it. Tipper Gore never lived down her brief infatuation with Parents Music Resource Center, even though she has long since repudiated them and started hanging out with the Zappa family instead. This is the Republicans' field so just let them have it.

Chuck Dupree examines Pro-Liferation.

Kevin Drum Paul Glastris Greeks out.

Roz Kaveney discusses American jurisprudence.

Anne Zook speaks out on behalf of non-oatmeal women everywhere.

13:22 BST

Blinking in the morning light

I saw this headline - Madrassa foreigners 'must leave' - and thought this seemed odd since as far as I know the madrasses are mostly full of orphaned boys who are native to Pakistan. It all seems like a PR exercise to me. I see Cernig had the same idea.

And speaking of Cernig, this is the right reaction to David Ignatius' rosy view of the incredible mess we have made of Iraq, where the best-case scenario seems to be that maybe we could replace Saddam with another strong-man who is pretty much the same as Saddam, and which for some reason Ignatius apparently thinks would be okay. Oh, yeah, I'd really feel that all those dead people and that broken infrastructure - not to mention our fortunes and our sacred honor - were spent well to achieve that. Spencer Ackerman at TNR is similarly unimpressed. May be all this explains why even Gallup can't disguise Bush's unpopularity at this point.

Of course, there are still the people who would continue to blindly worship Bush even if he personally dropped by their home and ate their babies. They're incomprehensible to anyone sane, of course. The bizarre quote from the adoring Hineyrocket has been making the rounds, but at least these things provide inspiration to The Rude Pundit.

08:05 BST

Thursday, 28 July 2005

Morning after news

I feel so much goddamn safer now. Jean Charles de Menezes wasn't even wearing a bulky jacket, and didn't jump the ticket barrier. So now it appears he was killed for living in the same building that the cops were watching.

This depressed me sufficiently that I just couldn't write about stuff last night. PNH* is here so we just talked about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket instead.

Anyway, the hot thing going on in Blogtopia(y!sctp) last night was Rick Perlstein's article from The Village Voice with simple and true advice to Democrats to stop DLC-ing around and start standing up - but he says it particularly well. Not unnaturally, this has led to another outstanding, must-read piece from Digby. And Ezra Klein picks up the thread on healthcare (although I think he is far too kind to the DLC - but he does admit they are dangerous.) Do yourself a favor and read it all.

The weirdest story of the morning is that the White House actually called John Aravosis or AmericaBlog to do damage control on the appearance of George Bush's finger on The Tonight Show. John has posted the lovely exchange with Scott McClellan that ensued.

And, surprise surprise, 15 DemonCrats voted for CAFTA. (via)

12:45 BST


Steve Smith has some words for the DLC. The interesting thing about this is that one can easily get the idea from this that Steve doesn't agree with the DLC on some important issues, when, in fact, he does agree with them (to my surprise). Nevertheless, he is as appalled by the DLC's idea of "strategy" as I am. Good on him.

At Skimble, another classic example of how our homeland security is being protected, and pretty much what you expected on the the Enron prosecutions. Sadly, things are looking a little too good for Kenny-boy Lay.

Charlie Stross talks about the usefulness of being able to make your books available on the web - and why he's done it with his latest.

But "Chalfonts" is pure Arthur Daley: Recidivist Journal notes that Cherie Booth has been running around advocating that we retain our civil liberties at the very same time that her husband seems to be trying to let the terrorists win by getting rid of our civil liberties and thus our "way of life". Blair is claiming to agree with his wife, but given the scripts he's been working from, lately, I think we are wise to remember the words Dave Johnson (of Seeing the Forest) so often prods us with: Watch what they do, not what they say.

16:48 BST

In syncopated Times

The NYT piece on the Military's Opposition to Harsh Interrogation; they knew it was misguided, dangerous, and wrong, and Mr. Moral Clarity did not. Fancy that.

Bob Herbert doesn't believe Bush has any plans to get out of Iraq, any more than I do. He has come to the conclusion that, "It's the oil, stupid." We keep being told that we can't withdraw until we've taught the Iraqis to take care of security themselves. But that's obviously not going to happen as long as we are there. And I think by now at least some of the administration must know it. Like everything else, what they say is just a "good" reason to be there without admitting that there is some other reason and that they have no desire to leave.

Douglas Jehl suggests that someone else is involved in leaking Plame's name. And there's always that little question in the background about why Judy is in jail. Judy would have been very unhappy about Wilson's efforts to debunk the yellowcake story, wouldn't she? Judy wanted us in Iraq. The suspicion that she's pleading the 1st Amendment because she doesn't want to have to plead the 5th does have a lot of support, although it ain't a sure thing.

11:45 BST


I should have known that someone else did indeed notice the issue of dead man's switches, and his name is Bruce Schneier. (I noticed something else yesterday while listening to Mr. Sideshow mentioning that the cops claim to have shouted "Police!" I heard something like, "Please." Or maybe, "Pleece." A lot of Brits pronounce it that way. What do you think that might mean to someone who hasn't lived very long in an English-speaking country?)

I know you're reading everything Digby writes, but just in case, check out this little bit of clever helpfulness that makes the whole credit card business even worse: Can someone tell me why the government, under the "we trust you with your own money" Bush administration no less, is pressuring the credit card companies to double their minimum payments from 2% to 4% (with interest) for the stated purpose that people need to be forced to pay off their credit cards sooner?

Gene Lyons' latest, 'Overextended, overexposed and surrounded': Since everybody's so fond of World War II analogies, here's mine: Iraq is Dunkirk. If we want to win the greater war, we need to pull out ASAP. We're overextended, overexposed and surrounded. The U.S. never sent enough troops to begin with and reinforcements aren't coming.

I believe the word is "beard".

10:50 BST


Stop calling it "the war on terror". Just stop. You can refer to what the administration is doing as "the war of terror", or maybe just "the terror war", but for the rest of us, it is just the project to reduce terrorism, and that is something completely different.

With recess fast approaching, Congress wants to shoe-horn a whole bunch of odious legislation in at once. The Moving Ideas blog has a string of posts up on some of them, like CAFTA, media concentration, and estate tax repeal. And a string of posts at Tapped weigh in on CAFTA, by Mark Leon Goldberg, Sam Rosenfeld, and Big Media Matt.

From Altercation: All of which culminated in Ahmad's founding of one of the first literary/political newspapers of a free Iraq. Then he was murdered, in the city he loved, for expressing freely the opinions he concealed for so long under Hussein.

Bruce Schneier: Secure Flight is a disaster in every way. The TSA has been operating with complete disregard for the law or Congress. It has lied to pretty much everyone. And it is turning Secure Flight from a simple program to match airline passengers against terrorist watch lists into a complex program that compiles dossiers on passengers in order to give them some kind of score indicating the likelihood that they are a terrorist.

From Bloodless Coup: It is worth pausing to note that the Department of Justice seriously argued that any law or international treaty that could in any fashion affect the President's ability to order military personnel to act is unconstitutional, and hence can be ignored. Any. Law. Any. Treaty. Basically, the DOJ position is that the President, as Commander-in-Chief, can order anyone military to do anything, and there are no legal restraints or punishments.

Dogmacational attractions from Rox Populi.

01:30 BST

Wednesday, 27 July 2005

A few things

Arthur Silber returns to the subject of Roberts' Reverence For The Unconstrained Imperial Presidency, which he thinks some people may have missed. I'm frankly surprised that so few people have expressed much horror at this - it really is as unAmerican as you can get.

One reason why Democrats should try to block every bill the Republicans come up with is their tendency to add little things into bills when no one is looking. For example, Tom DeLay's $1.5 billion giveaway to his bestest friends.

At Crooks and Liars, video of a priceless appearance of Bill Maher on Leno. Warm mashed bananas, eh? Also, news that the NYT has some sort of blog. Not much of one, really, but I notice many good blogs missing from their list, so you might try to wake them up if you want.

23:30 BST

What it's good for

Something I don't think right-wingers can possibly understand is that focusing on the politics rather than the reality of the war is a form of pain-relief. For them, of course, there doesn't seem to be much pain - they simply do not understand what a disaster this all is. Instead, the political fight is something their managers use to keep them from understanding. And, for some reason, they did not know all of these things before. But for us, the word "war" already contains a a lot of information that apparently the pro-war types don't read in it; they can speak of making war without understanding that it is making war.

I was always against the invasion for a number of reasons, but one was the knowledge that to make this project at all worthwhile, there were many things that needed to be done that this administration would not do. Yet even I had no idea just how badly they would screw the whole thing up. It didn't have to be this way.

I think we are well beyond the point now where we can clean up the mess we've made. There is no military victory - there can't be. It's too late, we've done too much too wrong.

For the last day or two I've been hearing people discuss Robert Pape's Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism on the radio, and what he's saying is so clear and simple that it hardly seems like it should need explaining, but obviously it does. In comments, "jello" provided this link to Pat Buchanan's article about it, and it's a fair enough representation:

But if the aim of suicide bombers is not to advance Islamism in a war of civilizations, what is its purpose? Pape's conclusion:
"[S]uicide-terrorist attacks are not so much driven by religion as by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide terrorist campaign - over 95 percent of all incidents - has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw."
The 9/11 terrorists were over here because we were over there. They are not trying to convert us. They are killing us to drive us out of their countries.

Before the U.S. invasion, says Pape,

"Iraq never had a suicide attack in its history. Since our invasion, suicide terrorism has been escalating rapidly, with 20 attacks in 2003, 48 in 2004 and over 50 in just the first five months of 2005. Every year since the U.S. invasion, suicide terrorism has doubled. ... Far from making us safer against terrorism, the operation in Iraq has stimulated suicide terrorists and has given suicide terrorism a new lease on life."
Pape is saying that President Bush has got it backward: The Iraq war is not eradicating terrorism, it is creating terrorists.
But if I think about that very much, and all the misery we have brought to ordinary people who were just trying to live their lives and for whom we have made that a much more difficult project - ah, it just breaks my heart.

20:25 BST

News and views

Can anyone explain to me what David Ignatius is talking about here: What will stop this revolt of privileged Muslims? One possibility is that it will be checked by the same process that derailed the revolt of the rich kids in America after the 1960s -- namely, the counter-revolt of the poor kids. Er, which revolt of the poor kids does he mean?

Walter Pincus and Jim VandeHei are much more use, this time on the Rove story with Prosecutor In CIA Leak Case Casting A Wide Net. Clearly, there is more going on than just one or two aides leaking, and by doing his job, of course, Fitzgerald has now earned himself a place as a target of the RNC slime machine.

PSoTD has a thought: "I don't think it is Bush's job to hook up corporations to religious charities." Funnily enough, neither do I.

Middle Earth Journal has a clue as to Why They Hate Us.

Majikthise considers Todd Gitlin's discussion of What's the Matter With Kansas?.

17:22 BST


I'm feeling much better, thanks.

Yesterday The Cincinnati Post, a conservative paper that habitually endorses Republicans, endorsed Democrat Paul Hackett for the special election to be held in his Ohio district next week for the Congressional seat recently vacated by Rob Portman. Hackett would be the first Iraq vet to serve in the House, and has had the support of the blogosphere. Via Atrios, here's the video of Hackett saying thanks. If what you see is what you get, he looks like the real thing. (More at Salon and the NYT.)

Another study shows that file-sharing does not hurt the music industry - so of course, the music industry just lies about it and pretends to have proof that file-sharers buy less music.

Carolyn Kay (of Make Them Accountable) sends an alert that Sundance Channel will be showing Bush's Brain Saturday morning.

This is the latest Doonesbury strip to get censored.

I don't know anything about this, really, but Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness did or didn't step down from command of the Irish Republican Army (or were pushed), which is or isn't a signal that the IRA is renouncing violence and that a new phase in peace negotiations will begin.

Help Dick Cheney.

14:34 BST

Tuesday, 26 July 2005

Quick links

Another rough afternoon at the dentist has really taken it out of me. Go read this stuff while I try to recover:

Natasha's info from someone she asked about what signing Standard Form 312 means to her job.

The Raging Grannies of Tucson (via Pennywit).

Is Your Boss a Psychopath? (via PNH).

Bush losing white support.

Conservative humor.

22:13 BST

Stuff I saw this morning

Not one I'd want, but I liked the photo.

Bra of the Week

Hell freezes over when Deborah reads a Hugh Hewitt article she agrees with.

A Dear John letter to the Republican Party (via Life...or something like it). The sad thing is that the Republican Party she was in love with hasn't existed in her lifetime.

Who's terrorizing you now?

Now that's what I call a really bad date.

An excellent question about the red clause from Pudentilla at Skippy's place.

Sense a pattern here? (And, um, ahem. Really, it's about time.)

Bill Clinton was offered 40 goats and 20 cows for Chelsea's hand in marriage.

An amusing post and a beautiful sky from the Alternative Hippo.

Photo San Francisco 2005 highlights, via Dan Gillmor.

12:28 BST


John Aravosis on torture and responsibility.

Holy Text & Repubevangelical Relativism at The Disenchanted Forest.

Democracy was only an afterthought in Afghanistan, where the situation "is one of barely managed chaos."

Judgment for Thee but not for Me, explained at Slacktivist.

David Podvin on Bush's forte, Forging Discord.

Good stuff at Scrutiny Hooligans. And this quote from Gonzales: "We cannot allow libraries and use of libraries to become safe havens for terrorists."

Another good quote in Sam's post discussing a friend who is doing something brave, about a phone call to a congressional office that went: "You tell Congressman Coppersmith that I don't want any of that government health care. My Medicare works just fine."

01:44 BST

Monday, 25 July 2005

There you go thinking again....

I just don't understand why everyone talks like there is no such thing as a dead man's switch. It's not just the lady or the tiger, you know. It's the lady or the tiger or the other tiger. The odds are that you are making a mistake if you pull the trigger.

What's it all about? Roe v. Al Qaeda.

There's a brand-new bad guy on the block. You'll just never guess who it is.

Sean Paul at The Agonist knows the difference between bad news and a bad essay by Richard Posner.

Matt Welch has 7 Questions for John Roberts. Brian Linse says his favorite is: You're on a lifeboat, but it can only hold 8 of the original 10 amendments without sinking, killing your whole family. Which ones go?

It's OK; he's a Republican.

23:21 BST

News or not

Can you believe Alberto Gonzales, who is now the Attorney General of the United States, is using the lame excuse that his inappropriate behavior (giving people time to shred documents) was okay because the Justice Department said it was okay? Seriously, does he think we don't know who John Ashcroft is?

The Heretik has an update on the new, improved, Haiti that we've spread democracy to, along with more attractive posters and adventure stories.

Lance Mannion wonders what it is about John Roberts that has people claiming he is brilliant; it's certainly not there in the record. Lance, darling, you know as well as I do that conservatives always just call their people things like "brilliant" and say they have "integrity", even when they are just completely corrupt fruitbats.

It might be worth remembering that London isn't the only place that didn't always have suicide bombers.

At long last, the lunatics have something to rave about aside from the fact that Michael Moore is fat. Yes, it's the return of Jane Fonda to anti-war politics! You just know they're breathless.

My god this is moronic.

20:45 BST


Bill Scher's Sunday Talkshow Breakdown says the White House sent in Gonzales, without a script, and he seemed unprepared to fend of the obvious questions about his role in giving the White House time to destroy documents once the investigation of Treasongate began. So he was unusually candid and spilled some beans about who he'd spoken to, and when. All of which, by the way, "undercuts the official White House line that no questions about the case can be answered while the investigation is ongoing." Meanwhile, John McCain also did the shows and was not so straight-talking at all, ducking and weaving and "conveniently forgetting middle-school vocabulary" in order to avoid having to say that, yes, Rove did violate the non-disclosure agreement and should be fired: Again, I don't know what the definition of "negligent" - if you make an honest mistake that's one thing. Oh, I'm sure he knew the definition of "negligent" mere weeks ago.

How to avoid getting shot. More on head-shot logic here. (via) Thank you. Me being paranoid won't stop suicide bombers, dammit.

Rule of law watch: Government Defies an Order to Release Iraq Abuse Photos: Lawyers for the Defense Department are refusing to cooperate with a federal judge's order to release secret photographs and videotapes related to the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.

Republicans have short memories? Roberts Listed in Federalist Society '97-98 Directory: Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. has repeatedly said that he has no memory of belonging to the Federalist Society, but his name appears in the influential, conservative legal organization's 1997-1998 leadership directory.

Via Anne Zook, check out this post from Andrew Tobias and scroll down to "My Cult Years" by John Seiffer, who recalls how he got into being a Jesus Freak and how he got out of it, and explains why the mindset is both so compelling to those who adhere to it and so incomprehensible for the rest of us.

Mike Finley recently had an interesting push-polling moment.

14:11 BST


Dwight Meredith has one little problem with Judge Roberts....

Three via Peevish - John McKay on how the terrorists are winning. Well, okay, on what a jerk Gibson is, but really, how the terrorists are winning. And Save Me From Myself by Julian Sanchez, on the idea that we should have laws to stop us from choosing to do things we wish we didn't do. And Anything But Straight, about Zach's stay at a crazy cult camp that's supposed to stop him from being gay, and the parents who sent him there.

Gary Farber has a fine example of the fellowship between the Christian right and Jews, and also a pointer to this article about someone I actually knew back home who isn't in fandom, the legendary Frank Kameny. And it quotes someone else I knew, Deacon Maccubbin (who I first met at Earthworks, which I guess is nearly fannish). Imagine that.

Are the security services using The Sunday Times to spread disinformation? That's what Spy Blog seems to be suggesting. Via Epicycle, which has also been looking for a replacement for ACDSee, and may have found one.

The new meaning of "liberation" for the women of Iraq. What most of us would call "repression".

Nice quote from Jim Henley: If they really do "hate us because we're free," the Bush Administration's approach to civil liberties constitutes "appeasement" of the first water. (But read him on the Ninth Amendment, too.)

And this quote from Firedoglake: It must be nice to be free from the constraints of rational thought. Kind of like going intellectually braless. Read it and see what she means.

John Tierney has lately started writing about the attack on doctors who give their patients pain control. He's even noticed that the OxyContin "crisis" seems a bit hyped. Last One Speaks and TalkLeft both have readable stuff on this.

Arthur Silber says It's (Almost Always) A (White, Straight) Man's World.

Dining with Clark Kent (via Sore Eyes).

Suburban Guerrilla on What They Don't Want Us to See.

Rittenhouse Review has been quiet lately due to technical difficulties. This might be a good time to help out if you have any money going spare.

02:23 BST

Sunday, 24 July 2005

More things to read

Via Atrios, an article in The Seattle Times supplies more evidence that the administration is not interested in stopping terrorism. It's just one piece of data in a consistent pattern, but they do this over and over again - they did it before 9/11 when they ditched all of the Clinton administration's anti-terrorism structure and round-filed the terrorism report. They've done it over and over when they've fired translators for being gay. This isn't even the first instance when they've prevented the removal of a terrorist from the play. But they did it in the United States this time rather than in northern Iraq, and in 2002 they blocked prosecution in Seattle of someone who may really have ties to terrorism. British authorities suspect Aswat of taking part in the July 7 London bombings, which killed 56 and prompted an intense worldwide manhunt for him. I can't wait to see how the wingers try to explain this away.

At TPM Cafe, Larry Johnson notes that we even have a US Senator claiming that Valerie Plame couldn't have been a covert agent because she was working at CIA headquarters. "While it is one thing for a political bag carrier like Ken Mehlman to be woefully ignorant about CIA practices and procedures, it is downright alarming that Senator Roberts can be so misinformed." Of course, they could just be lying....

Remember when the editor of The Cleveland Plain Dealer stupidly announced that they were withholding two important stories because they involved leaked documents? Well, Kevin Drum says someone else ran one of those stories, with the result that the CPD decided that, since the story was already out, it was safe to run it. And then: The U.S. attorney's office wants a court hearing to find out who leaked documents to The Plain Dealer that revealed former Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White was the target of a probe that led to the indictment of consultant Nate Gray, one of White's best friends. Hmm. Kevin hope Ohio's shield laws will protect both publications.

And, of course, everybody's weekend read, Frank Rich's Eight Days in July, which reminds us that Treasongate may explain why Bush did not nominate Gonzales, since he is implicated in the cover-up, and which also emphasizes that this isn't just about internal White House politics, but something much larger: The real crime here remains the sending of American men and women to Iraq on fictitious grounds.

In less interesting news, the NYT has a round-up of jokes by Leno, Letterman, and others on the Supreme Court nomination, Karl Rove, and the weather.

23:32 BST

Stuff I saw

The NYT has an article by Judge Richard Posner trying to convince us that the media is liberal and yet the public is happy with the way they spend more time talking about the horse-race and the process than about the issues. I don't suppose we could expect Posner to admit that this benefits conservatives. And I think it's pretty convenient to have the Internet to blame for the declining sales of newspapers at a time when, as Posner admits, the papers have changed their thrust and content away from what most readers say they want. Interestingly, no one seems to think the latter fact could possibly have anything to do with the former. (And by the way, that photo looks remarkably unlike Tucker Carlson.)

RozK worries, as I do, about the fact that there has been so little said about the death threats against Peter Tatchell and OutRage! because they have taken a stand against honor killings and against state executions of gay and transgendered people in Muslim countries. I don't always agree with Peter, but I like and respect him, and this is one of those times he is absolutely right. I realize there have been other things in the headlines, but is anyone paying attention to this at all? (Roz also notes that our Mayor was seen riding the Underground yesterday, as always. You wouldn't see Rudy Giuliani showing that kind of grit, would you?)

Shakespeare's Sister points out that some sources - in this case, Common Dreams - have the story wrong on the Patriot Act reauthorization. First of all, it hasn't yet been reauthorized, and secondly, there is still time to contact your Senators about it. (Don't be put off by the fact that you may have Republican Senators - lots of Republicans don't like this thing, either.) Read the article for a clear idea of what is going on and how to address it.

Rep. Henry Waxman is blogging the Plame investigation at Daily Kos.

Simbaud has a good response to the rightwing moral relativism that seems to suggest that it's okay to run around shooting innocent people if you're nervous.

TBogg has a bit of fun with the right-wing criticisms of that Robin Givhan piece about John Roberts' family fashions.

17:02 BST

Keeping up

I keep seeing people defend the police for shooting that innocent guy by talking about his "inappropriate clothing". Look, get this straight: We are not talking about a hot day in New York; we're talking about a vaguely not-cold day in London. I needed a jacket when I went out that day and was not sure it would be enough - and I wasn't planning to be out for more than half an hour. I would have brought a coat with me if I was planning to be out much longer. The guy was from Brazil, for cryin' out loud - I doubt he found the weather "hot". The cops are looking for people who come from sunnier climes, they should take on board that most of them don't even regard this weather as "summer". I sure don't.

The Washington Post seems to be working hard this morning to convince us that Roberts is a really moderate guy. His record says otherwise, but hey, maybe he's a genuine stealth candidate, eh? Um, I wouldn't count on it.

Also in the WaPo, Mark Feldstein acknowledges that there is something wrong with the arrangement where reporters provide the White House with PR under cover of anonymous sourcing, but seems not to be up to date on the substance of the Plame case and the potential charges against Rove.

Via Patriot Daily, Matthew Parris with I name the four powers who are behind the al-Qaeda conspiracy: First, the news media. ... Secondly, the Government. ... Thirdly, the security services. ... Finally, of course, the terrorist himself.

David Corn says James Marcinkowski's testimony serves as "perhaps the most powerful rebuttal of and rebuke to the rightwingers who have been pushing disinformation about the Valerie Wilson case." "A True Patriot Would Shut Up."

LiberalOasis has the complete round-up from Friday on Traitorgate.

Guardian obituary for Long John Baldry

Fiore presents: Double super-secret background

14:21 BST

Saturday, 23 July 2005

Cold comfort

I'm watching people on TV tell me that all that spiffy shoot-to-kill stuff yesterday netted an innocent Brazilian guy. The talking heads seem almost to be pleading with Muslim spokesmen to say it's okay if the cops are running around with guns all trigger-happy. I don't know about you but this whole thing is making my stomach hurt. If we're going to be terrorized by police, what the hell is the point?

21:57 BST

Play amongst yourselves

I've been messing around with other stuff. Go read Ray McGovern (ex-CIA) on what it's all about. (Thanks to Lou Barranti for the tip.)

I have to agree with this at Blogenlust. Searching subway passengers is an utterly offensive idea and will do nothing to make the trains more secure. I'd also like to know what rationale they have for busting people who are not the (alleged) true subject of the searches. It's hardly as if we need to fill more places in jails.

20:00 BST


I don't know how I missed this yesterday, but from Think Progress:

This morning the Wall Street Journal reported that Senate Democrats were planning "to grill Bush confidant Karen Hughes" about her involvement in the ever widening leak-case. But, Senate Democrats must have gotten lost on the way to the hearing. Not one showed up.
"A scaled-back Senate Foreign Relations Committee showered praise Friday on Karen Hughes and put the former political adviser to President Bush on a fast track to confirmation as the State Department's top public relations official."
The absence of the Democrats is even more glaring considering just today the New York Times reported that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald called Karen Hughes before the grand jury to testify as to her involvement in the leak-case. Of course, this begs the obvious question: Karen Hughes, did you have a role in leaking the name of an undercover CIA agent?
They have some other questions for Hughes, too. (Via Digby.)

14:57 BST

Morning crawl

I don't usually link to Wonkette, but it appears her suspicions about John Roberts aren't just confined to the left, with even the suggestion at Althouse about "a religious conservative living the closeted life." Gary Farber had other thoughts about the reproductive life of the Robertses. Wingers are upset with the Robin Givhan piece, in which her usual style is aimed at the a-little-too-classic appearance of Roberts' family. But, let's face it, Givhan is a puffer, she's always writing weird stuff that is likely to offend the sensibilities of anyone who thinks politics shouldn't be about fashion. Wingers never minded that stuff when even political reporters were obsessing on the fact that Al Gore must be some sort of weirdo because he changed his suit, or Bush was terribly clever because he wore different clothes for different occasions. And anyway, remember this?

Meanwhile, Jonathan Chait has noticed how creepy it is that George Bush seems to prioritize physical activity over every other kind. The wingers think Chait is being irritating but Chait has really understated the number of times we've been told of Bush's obsession with this stuff, and he's hardly the first person to wonder about it. I'm pretty sure this is what Bush does during all that time that most presidents usually spend reading. Bush has never shown much interest in informing himself (and improving his mind).

On more serious matters:

Van Jones on Spiritual Activism: The Religious Left Fights Back - On All Fronts.

Tell Wal-Mart Enough is Enough.

The Art of the Possible on More anti-liberal invective from He thinks it's just partisan hackery, but misses the point that hating liberals comes first.

Gratuitous and mean-spirited George W. Bush jokes, and this, and this.

11:40 BST

What's so funny 'bout peace, love, and understanding?

Tom Friedman is annoying me again:

We also need to spotlight the "excuse makers," the former State Department spokesman James Rubin said. After every major terrorist incident, the excuse makers come out to tell us why imperialism, Zionism, colonialism or Iraq explains why the terrorists acted. These excuse makers are just one notch less despicable than the terrorists and also deserve to be exposed. When you live in an open society like London, where anyone with a grievance can publish an article, run for office or start a political movement, the notion that blowing up a busload of innocent civilians in response to Iraq is somehow "understandable" is outrageous. "It erases the distinction between legitimate dissent and terrorism," Mr. Rubin said, "and an open society needs to maintain a clear wall between them."
This is another iteration of the meme that once you recognize that terrorism is bad, you should just stop thinking. Get yourself full of righteous anger and don't for a minute think about what makes this stuff happen in the first place. Anyone who seeks to understand why people do these things and how we can stop them from wanting to do them is, well, nearly as bad as the terrorists themselves. So instead of trying to figure these things out, you just get into a blind rage and hate and kill people instead, and that's okay. The irony here is that Friedman's piece is called "Giving the Hatemongers No Place to Hide" - as if refusing to understand isn't the handmaiden of hatemongering.

I've run into this one before, this projection of sympathy on people who are trying to understand what motivates the people who harm us. Guys often ask me why some woman in their life has done something that seems cruel or otherwise senseless, and occasionally a man of a certain disposition will respond to my explanation as if I were justifying what she did. But you don't have to think something is justified to understand it.

And, of course, these people will also have their own explanations - their own "understanding" - of why these same women or terrorists or whoever have done what they've done, but it will be one that bypasses the need to think rationally about what may have set them off.

Interviewers sometimes ask me how I got involved in the work I do for Feminists Against Censorship, and I usually start at what I regard as the beginning: I studied sex crime because I wanted to understand why I was assaulted when I was a kid. It wasn't good enough to say that the guys who do these things are bad people, that sexual assault is bad, evil, whatever. I know that some people do these things and some people don't, and I wanted to understand what made those people who do it different from those who don't. I don't really care about punishment, because punishing people after they have sexually assaulted children means first children are sexually assaulted. I wanted to stop the crime before it reached that point. And what I learned is that something has to happen to those people before they turn into sex criminals, and putting them in jail doesn't stop that, either.

Something happens to people that generates terrorism. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but I do know that it is more likely to happen in some conditions than others, and I'd just as soon not see the conditions created where terrorism breeds.

In other hate-breeding news:

Guess their party affiliation at Driftglass.

Another country heard from: Irish ID cards as a stupid response to the London bombings.

00:47 BST

Friday, 22 July 2005

Local news

My thanks to David Gurman (down in the comments), who supplied this update about the Stockwell shooting, which says that the dead man was apparently not carrying a bomb. I note with interest that we are being told he was dressed too warmly for the "hot" weather. Interestingly, I was outside earlier, and found it breezy. I wore a jacket, since it wasn't hot at all. Of course, many of the pasty-white cavefish who live in this country seem to regard 75 degrees as "hot", but they have wimpy skin.

Speaking of which, here are some pictures Mr. Sideshow took in the Whitechapel area today. Since it was Friday, the street should have been throbbing with worshippers, but the police had cordoned it off, so it was empty.

The press was all over the place, of course.

21:51 BST

Your happenin' world

Barbara O'Brien at The Mahablog live-blogged the Special Joint Hearing on the Plame leak, a story that got even hotter with last night's revelation that Rove and Libby gave testimony that significantly differed from what Cooper and other journalists - including Tim Russert - told Fitzgerald. Here are a couple of quotes Mahabarb posted:

Johnson: This is unprecedented. The message is, we're going to do nothing. I say this as a registered Republican. I wish Howard Baker was back in the Senate. I wish someone in the Senate would stand up. But last night I saw John McCain making excuses. Where are men of integrity? I expect better behavior out of Republicans.

Lang: In the past, a junior officer disclosing information would be punished. When you get to this level, things stop being unauthorized disclosures. They become press releases. There has to be a way to discipline people.

If anyone forgot why Robert Byrd used to be referred to as a conservative, it's because he is. And if anyone needs a reminder of why "Democrat" doesn't necessarily mean "liberal", just take a good look at his appalling endorsement of Bush's nominee - appalling not because he endorses Roberts, but because of the way he says it. Matthew Yglesias has a good take on this.

Paul Krugman recognizes the strangeness - and potential seriousness - of the fact that China has "unpegged" its currency from the Dollar. On the other hand, Dick Morris is off in a fantasy of his own about India.

Via Teresa, Liz Marcs warns Santorum against waking the Black Man of Boston. (Santorum, of course, has it entirely backwards when he attributes the priest abuse scandal to the liberalism of Massachusetts. It's not Massachusetts that has the problem, it's the worldwide church, and the reason the story has become such a big deal up in the northeast is that, unlike less liberal arenas, they are more likely to take the charges seriously. But Santorum would no more be able to admit that than to admit the more crucial point that a sexually repressive religious upbringing is the most consistent factor in the backgrounds of child abusers.)

19:27 BST

The Highlights

I love Atrios when he links, but I love him most when he writes something that shows his acute understanding of the issues involved - and his passion. Last night he responded to the suggestion by Tom Tancredo (R-CO) that we should threaten to bomb Mecca, supposedly to frighten Muslim extremists off further acts of terrorism. This is both extremely stupid and extremely dangerous. We're not talking some college professor no one's ever heard of; we're talking about a member of Congress. Here's our man:

All the Republicans who went after Dick Durbin care nothing for our soldiers or even national security. They only care about preserving the power of the Republican party.

Nor will our press put the Republicans through the disassociation gauntlet as they did Democrats. Collective punishment based on religious association using the ultimate weapons of mass destruction is certainly a-ok for our media.

Note, of course, that Tancredo is advocating terrorism against civilian populations. His reasoning is exactly that of those who bomb targets in London and Madrid, only he potentially has a bigger arsenal available to him.

I also agree with Duncan's assessment of this hilarious video of Bernie Goldberg being a jackass on CNBC. Check out the article from The Stranger about our beloved General, too.

Mr. Sideshow phoned me earlier with a heads-up about the police shooting an alleged suicide bomber at Stockwell station. The deceased was apparently believed to be attempting a bombing at that time. At least one witness said the man was wearing "a bomb belt with wires coming out." Mr. Sideshow works near the Royal Hospital in Whitechapel (East London), also the location of a major mosque, and said there was also police activity nearby which he was taking pictures of. Although this is nowhere near Stockwell, it is deep in the heart of London's Muslim community (part of George Galloway's constituency), and a site of continued police investigations.

New! International Serenity trailer

13:18 BST

Once around the block

Well, the trains into central London this evening, and going back out later, were a bit less crowded than usual, but other than that things seemed pretty normal.

Digby is absolutely on fire. Look here, for example, where he raises an issue I've been thinking a lot about lately - is Judith Miller really in jail to protect a source? Or as Steady Eddie put it in comments, "Miller isn't talking because being in jail for civil contempt looks a lot better than taking the Fifth under oath." Look like a martyr who is protecting a source when you're really just protecting yourself. (And here on Hitchens. And the whole rest of the page, too.)

At Pandagon, Amanda has some good stuff up about Stereotype Threats and optical illusions in underwear. And Jesse is onto the tax and spend Republicans, which is of course more than you can say for The Wall Street Journal.

Daai Tou Laam: RTHK has the news on China going to a basket for its currency. Initial adjustment has the yuan trading at 8.11 to the US dollar instead of 8.23. Do I win the prize for suspecting that this move would happen shortly after July 10?

Derivative Work (psst! what's wrong with your header?) has a useful post about tech mandates and reproductive care, and really stupid arguments that mislead the reader about the dangers of childbirth as compared to abortion. Oh, and about how the NYT helps carry those messages.

Most fun to read on John Roberts is, of course, The Rude Pundit.

03:07 BST

Thursday, 21 July 2005

RNC Party Line watch

Last night I heard a clip of some famous hard-right fruitcake saying Bush had made a "bold" choice in picking someone who was not a woman for the Supremes.

Funnily enough, Mark Silva similarly praised Bush's boldness in The Chicago Tribune the other day, and today David Brooks suggests that he, too, has been reading from The Party's script:

President Bush consulted widely, moved beyond the tokenism of identity politics and selected a nominee based on substance, brains, careful judgment and good character.
Yes, it's always a mark of courage when a president chooses a white man to sit on the Supreme Court, as it so rarely occurs.

17:28 BST

Oh, great.

Tube cleared after minor blasts

Dummy explosions using detonators only have sparked the evacuation of three Tube stations and the closure of three lines, a BBC correspondent has said.

Police cordoned off large areas around Warren Street, Oval and Shepherd's Bush Tube stations.

Emergency services also attended an incident on a route 26 bus in Hackney Road in Bethnal Green.

There were reports of smoke coming from two of the stations. There are no reports of any injuries.

The whole of the Northern Line has been suspended, along with the Victoria Line and the Hammersmith and City.

A spokesman for London Underground said the nature of the incidents was unknown.

The TV is telling me that, "Police are not treating this as a major emergency yet." British Transport Police have just reported one injury so far. Northern Line, Hammersmith & City, and Victoria lines have been shut down but others are currently running normally. Westminster tube station has been closed in addition to the affected stations.

Update: Transport for London currently says there are still only three lines closed, though I saw someone on television earlier saying that "transport has been shut down." I also heard someone saying Westminster station had been re-opened, but there is also something on TV about the area being cordoned off.

14:08 BST

Late morning round-up

Karl Rove's story is back on the front page at the WaPo with the revelation by Walter Pincus and Jim VandeHei that, "A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials." Kevin Drum notes that this article is "pretty similar to the Wall Street Journal's Tuesday story on the memo, but it's a little clearer about what the memo said and who saw it." And:

As a sidelight, it turns out that even the State Department thought Wilson's trip to Niger was a dumb idea. They had a slightly different objection than the hawks, though. They opposed the trip because their own investigations "already had disproved the allegation that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger."

That was February 2002. Even then the State Department knew that the whole uranium business was bogus, and for the next year they kept repeating that to anyone who would listen. Unfortunately, no one wanted to listen.

As we all know, although the Stepford Press pretends not to, "anyone who would listen" was a group that did not much overlap with the Washington press corps, and the White House appears only to have listened for the purpose of knowing who to punish for not toeing the administration line.

The New York Times, on the other hand, being good administration toadies, has dutifully kept Rove off the front page and instead provided a profile of the nominee that sounds like the administration must have approved it in advance. I didn't read the whole thing because these things put me to sleep, but anyone who does the standard top-line scan of newspaper articles will probably get the impression that Roberts is a sort of old-fashioned Republican who is upright and on the straight-and-narrow and not an ideologue of any sort. You know, a "grown-up". I don't believe it for a minute. He may be a nice guy (there've been a lot of quotes all over the news to that effect - he's no Bolton, anyway), but he's got plenty of scary stuff in his record. MahaBarb is not fooled by any of it.

Sandra Day O'Connor approves of everything about Roberts "except he's not a woman". She is pretty sure this means that Bush's pick for Rehnquist's replacement won't be a woman either, because, "she didn't think he would want a woman as chief justice." This strikes me as an odd thing for O'Connor to say, since, as far as I can tell, nothing requires Bush to fill the CJ seat with a new appointee. He could elevate Scalia to CJ and appoint a woman to replace him. (But he might prefer to show everyone how macho and disdainful of women's equality he is by pointedly not putting any women on the court.)

No Blank Slates - that's what Bill Scher says about the nominee, and he's right. Once again, this is something every Democratic leader, activist, and elective official should be reading. Don't hesitate to send it to your Dem Senators and Representatives and tell them to take it to heart.

Josh Marshall has set up a Supreme Court Watch at TPMCafe. There are a couple of posts up there now on how dangerous Roberts is.

Jeralyn at TalkLeft has some discussion between herself and other bloggers on the strategy that should be used in confronting this nomination - and a reminder that there's no need to let it ace out the issue of Rove and the invasion as Topic A, because Congress will be in recess soon enough and we can use that time to hammer at Traitorgate.

Joan Winston once introduced me to Jimmy Doohan, but I don't have any interesting anecdotes about it, unlike some people. I didn't really know much about him other than that he was an actor, so I didn't have anything interesting to talk to him about. (And I was somewhat distracted by the discovery that Nichelle Nichols, who was the best-looking woman on television, liked considerably better in person, although she was much older then than she had been on Star Trek. She was utterly breath-taking, and I, like most people, can spend quite a bit of time enjoying the sight of beauty. And then I was even more startled to discover that Majel Barrett, who looked pretty damned dowdy as Nurse Chapel, was actually very attractive indeed in person.) I was never a real Trekkie (and Joan had pretty much had to drag me there under duress and sweeten the pot considerably with free everything), but over the years I saw a lot of ST episodes more than once and these people were a mostly-enjoyable part of my universe that has bred a certain affection, so I am saddened by Doohan's departure.

12:20 BST

Wednesday, 20 July 2005

In today's news...

Rule of thumb: If you hear more than two Republicans or other media shills say something supporting the administration or attacking Democrats (or liberals), it's a talking point, and they're saying it because it's not true. The fact that more than one of them is saying that, "Bush picked the choice he wanted to make," suggests that he was pushed into it, don't you think? I mean, why would you say it, otherwise?

Everyone knows that Zogby is mainly a conservative - but like many conservatives, he's finding that it's hard to be a mainstream-style conservative and still support the administration. Zogby appears to have stayed where he was while the administration moved off to the far, far right. Which might explain why now even he regards it as news when the Mainstream Media Try to Hide the Impeachment Question: The latest poll shows more support for impeaching Bush now, than there was for impeaching Clinton when Congress did so in 1998. But the mainstream wimpmedia are reluctant to report on this.

Riggsveda at Corrente thinks the new immigration bill proposed by Replicans* is "a bad joke" even though it's also empty calories. It would require all Americans to be issued with a machine-readable Social Security card "to prevent illegals from getting jobs". I have to admit, I laughed, too. (*That was a typo but I think I'll leave it.)

Also on humor watch is Armando at Daily Kos, who reckons this editorial in the NYT about the Roberts nomination exposes some wry wit on the part of Gail Collins.

Murray Wass says that Rove's alibi doesn't hold up. He's convincing enough that even some right-wing bloggers are starting to be able to spell "toast".

No More Mister Nice Blog has a few more brief highlights from the anti-American career of John Roberts.

I don't have a subscription to The American Prospect (look, I can't afford to subscribe to everything!), so I can't read the rest of this article that Matt says is about the thesis that there are no moderate Republicans.

16:37 BST


As others have observed, the timing of Bush's announcement last night was obviously intended to knock the Rove story off the front page. Supreme Court nominations usually occur earlier in the day and are followed by a press conference. We already know about Bush and press conferences, but the news for Rove has been so bad that people have even been asking what Bush knew and when he knew it. Even a substantial number of Republicans have been asking why Bush doesn't fire Rove.

But Bush did announce the nomination, and as Chris Floyd points out, the spin has abortion being this guy's only controversial issue. Oh, no, it's not. Like Chris says, Roberts did something far more serious Friday when he ruled that we are no longer a nation of laws, but have an imperial ruler who can imprison people on his say-so alone and without due process.

A federal appeals court yesterday backed the Bush administration's plan to let special panels of military officers conduct trials of terrorism suspects detained in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, overturning a lower-court decision that has blocked the "military commissions" for the past eight months.

The decision clears the way for the Defense Department to use the commissions to try some of the hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. It was hailed by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales yesterday as affirming the president's "critical authority" to determine how to try detainees deemed "enemy combatants" in the war on terrorism.

The ruling was an important test of the government's strategy of denying such detainees access not only to civilian courts but also to the more formal proceedings of military courts-martial, in which they would enjoy additional rights and legal protections. One of the judges on the deciding panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, John G. Roberts, is said to be on the administration's list of possible Supreme Court nominees.
The panel said courts should defer to President Bush's decision in 2002 that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to detainees Bush declares as enemy combatants and that, in any event, the conventions are not enforceable by U.S. courts in lawsuits brought by foreigners.

"This decision is a major win for the Administration," a Justice Department news release said. The Defense Department itself declined to comment.

A "win for the administration". It's all about them. The loss to the American people is, of course, irrelevant.

An RNC talking point for the last week or so has been that the Republicans allowed Clinton to nominate "flaming liberal" Ruth Bader Ginsberg, so Democrats should be happy to affirm the nomination of one of the flaming right-wing anti-constitutional nutbars that Bush favors. There's a lot that's wrong with this, not least the fact that Ginsberg has never much been particularly liberal. She's been pretty mainstream, and Americans generally like it like that.

What evidence do the right-wingers have that Ginsberg is a flaming liberal? Why, the fact that she had been general counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Let's make this clear: The "conservative" movement thinks there's something wrong with being able to defend your Constitutional rights in court. And they insist that it is not mainstream to support defending those rights. That's a point that should be spelled out every time they use "ACLU" as an emblem of "far-left" liberalism. The ACLU is "liberal" only to the extent that the Constitution itself is liberal. And it's mainstream - because Americans do want the courts to protect their rights.

Don't let up on Rove and the lies that led us to war, but don't let Roberts slip by us, either. We should demand that no one be appointed to the Supreme Court who does not believe in the Constitution. These people don't.

12:48 BST

Secrets of the universe

From a revelation by Ayn Clouter:

We don't need no Ten Commandments
We don't need no Crucifix
No sky-god icons in the courtroom
Judges, leave your Bible home
Hey! Judges! Leave your Koran home!
All we swear by is a holy Brick from the Wall
All we do is worship sacred Bricks in the Wall
From a series that starts here.

The nominee: John Roberts. From the Alliance for Justice Full Report:

While working under Presidents Reagan and Bush, Mr. Roberts supported a hard-line, anti-civil rights policy that opposed affirmative action, would have made it nearly impossible for minorities to prove a violation of the Voting Rights Act and would have "resegregated" America's public schools. He also took strongly anti-choice positions in two Supreme Court cases, one that severely restricted the ability of poor women to gain information about abortion services, and another that took away a key means for women and clinics to combat anti-abortion zealots.
02:51 BST

Tuesday, 19 July 2005

And now it's time for...

Charnos Retro underwire

The Bra of the Week

Congratulations to Rachel Maddow on a good review: Maddow, unlike Crossfire's toothless hacks Paul Begala and James Carville, actually articulates leftist, progressive, sometimes even radical ideas. This immediately distinguishes her from everyone else on television since Abbie Hoffman circa The Dick Cavett Show.

Salon interview with Bruce Campbell, via Sore Eyes. (Also, yes indeed, I do, too.)

Atrios has nominated Bill Clinton as his wanker of the day after Big Media Matt catches President Elvis "pimping for tort reform" and pretending that "Roe v. Wade was the unfortunate beginning of the end of civility between left and right." Matt does a quick, effective smack-down. And while you're at Tapped, read this post by Sam Rosenfeld about stupid "centrist" Democrat ideas.

I am so, so glad that I'm not a kid today.

Neat picture.

Boy, those visits to the oral surgeon can really be a distraction, can't they?

21:22 BST

A bunch of news

E.J. Dionne has a good smack-down for the GOP's bright idea that successful programs should be killed off:

The problem with liberals, conservatives often say, is that they are too committed to old programs. This is an odd criticism coming from conservatives who regularly hail the low-tax, small-government policies of Calvin Coolidge as a model for good government. If wanting to bring back the 1920s isn't backward-looking, what is?

In fact, liberals suffer from a different problem: They rarely talk about what their programs have actually achieved. In the face of the attack on government since the 1970s, liberals have often fallen mute -- or pretended to be just as anti-government as their conservative rivals.

And the right-wing has been successful at exploiting the fact that liberals will continue to criticize a successful program if it still has imperfections, even though it is working overall. For example, complaints about underfunded, understaffed schools in poor or inner-city areas make it easy to attack the entire public school system, even though generally that system works remarkably well.

While no one was looking, we seem to have had a little announcement about Social Security: The House Republican plan to overhaul Social Security requires retirees to give up their guaranteed benefit level if they want a personal account that can be passed on to heirs, GOP aides said Monday. Right, and what would be the reason to continue to have a payroll tax at all? Why, none. And then where would the Republicans get all the money they're spending?

Bush Aims to Expand System of Merit Pay: The administration wants to abolish the General Schedule pay system by 2010 and require that at least part of every pay raise for the government's 1.8 million civilian employees hinge on an annual performance evaluation, President Bush's top management guru said yesterday. I interpret this to mean that they want a way to punish people for not being avidly pro-Republican, and thus lacking "merit".

Westmoreland dead at 91. He was the author of victory-by-kill-ratio. And he still thought we'd won the Vietnam war. He's probably right - we kept Uncle Ho from trying out another form of government, didn't we?

The Justice Department has suddenly decided it wants $280 billion from the tobacco industry after all. I haven't actually been tracking the minutia in this case but I sure would be grateful for a simple explanation of why this has been so weird lately.

I really enjoy watching Hugh Laurie pretend to be a grumpy-genius-American doctor in House, but we all know it's really science fiction (just like CSI), don't we? (I am slightly confused by the popularity of shows that are really about geeks. I mean, precisely the sort of people who are considered too weird in real life.)

The headline for this story at Maddow Online is "How the Right Disowns Terrorist Eric Rudolph" - and the punchline is, they really don't.

13:37 BST

Just a reminder

In an unusual development, I agree with Dean Esmay about something. Well, almost:

As I've said many times, my main objection to the "sexual offender" registries is that there is absolutely no reason to believe that in their current form they do any good.
While that is true, there is another reason to object to them, and that is that they do harm.

The sort of person who advocates sex offender registries likes to blur the lines between pedophiles, child abusers, and other sex offenders to obscure the fact that these words do not mean the same thing and the approach to each must be individual. They also like to obscure the fact that only a minority of the people in these combined three groups are likely recidivists. You've no doubt seen headlines implying, or even claiming outright, that sex offenders have an extraordinarily high rate of recidivism compared to other criminals. I've even seen the claim that most sex offenders are persistent recidivists.

One way they do this is by talking about real pedophiles (that is, people whose sexuality is an attraction to children - something that won't change) and pretending that they are the same as people who have broken some sex law (something that can and does change all the time). For example, many sex offenders have been busted for having sex with a minor when they were barely out of minority themselves - that is, teenagers having sex with other teenagers. (The vast majority of actual violations of sex law fall into this category; whether or not there are prosecutions is another story, but in many localities they also represent a significant percentage of arrests.) But of course, these are largely ordinary people who are simply attracted to others in their own age cluster, and once they've aged a few years that cohort will be outside of the age of legal minority - they will only be interested in other adults. But the anti-sex nutters want you to believe that an 18-year-old who is attracted to a 16-year-old is some kind of pervert.

But even your genuine pedophile isn't necessarily a rapist, and even your genuine child-abuser isn't necessarily likely to repeat their offense.

All vigilantes care to know is that someone is a "sex offender", at which point many seem to lose all restraint. One outcome of this was seen in Scotland a few years ago when the locals actually burned down the home of someone they'd heard was a sex offender. Their intended target was not home at the time, but his child was, and died in the fire.

Esmay is right, though - there is no evidence that these registers actually protect anyone. Meanwhile, numerous lives are destroyed by madness over suspicions of child abuse and by hysteria over the real thing. Don't mistake me: Child abuse is a very serious issue, but to deal with it effectively requires serious thought, not just paranoia and outrage.

11:38 BST

A quick one

Billmon: Bloomberg has a version of the State Department memo story that differs from all the others on virtually every significant detail, except for the fact that it, too, places the memo aboard Air Force One -- but this time in the possession of Ari Fleischer, not Colin Powell.

Joe Vecchio's wife is having an expensive stay in the hospital. Drop by and wish them both well, and throw a little something in his tip jar if you can spare it.

Conflict as marketing strategy: The Parents Television Council is at it again with complaints about an utterance of the F-word during the Live-8 broadcast on ABC. The PTC wants the FCC to fine the network, and so the usual suspects are doing the usual song and dance. This is not news and should not be reported as such. This isn't a post about the PTC, it's about exploiting the media. Via Dan Gillmor.

And now, a word from the Rosenbergs....

Note to Mark Adams: I would really like to read this post but I don't want to wait to see if it's ever going to open. Maybe it's just me, but I really think you ought to rethink your format.

09:48 BST

News from Poodleland

You can read the .pdf of the Chatham House report on Security, Terrorism and the UK courtesy of the Guardian. It's an authoritative report saying what you already know: That the invasion and occupation have been a disaster. The new terrorists it has created are not motivated by the fact that women in the west wear short skirts and take birth control. They're not motivated by "hating our freedoms". They're motivated by the fact that the west appears to be making war on them, occupying their lands - including their holy lands - and generally killing them. They don't like being invaded and occupied, and they don't like all the talk about maybe invading and occupying even more of their countries.

Jack Straw, taking another page from the White House playbook, bravely stood up to disagree:

The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, today dismissed suggestions that Britain's involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan contributed to the terrorist attacks in London on July 7.

Mr Straw rejected a report by a respected independent thinktank on foreign affairs, the Chatham House organisation, which found that a key problem in the UK for preventing terrorism is that the country "is riding as a pillion passenger with the United States in the war against terror".

"I'm astonished that Chatham House is now saying that we should not have stood shoulder to shoulder with our long-standing allies in the United States," Mr Straw told reporters before chairing an EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.

You sucker, George Bush isn't your ally, long-standing or otherwise. You're his ally, but it's obviously not reciprocal.

And on that subject, James Wolcott, not being at all funny, talks about how callous Bush has been toward Britain. (Actually, we didn't want him in London after 7/7 - George Bush is an expense, and he only represents the worst of humanity.) I just keep remembering the look on Tony Blair's face after the attacks, as he looked at George Bush with what truly appeared to be combined fear and loathing. I couldn't help thinking it was as if Bush had just smirked and said something like, "I warned you not to pull your troops out of Iraq, Poodle-boy."

And in the Observer I see they're still working hard to run away from what everyone already knows. No 10 blocks envoy's book on Iraq: Publication of The Costs of War by Sir Jeremy Greenstock, UK ambassador to the UN during the build-up to the 2003 war and the Prime Minister's special envoy to Iraq in its aftermath, has been halted. In an extract seen by The Observer, Greenstock describes the American decision to go to war as 'politically illegitimate' and says that UN negotiations 'never rose over the level of awkward diversion for the US administration'. Although he admits that 'honourable decisions' were made to remove the threat of Saddam, the opportunities of the post-conflict period were 'dissipated in poor policy analysis and narrow-minded execution'. (via)

02:23 BST

Monday, 18 July 2005

Media roving

Well, hard as it is to believe, David Broder actually wrote a reasonable article about why the public just isn't very sympathetic to Judy Miller, and maybe she just plain doesn't deserve our sympathy:

But no one, not even Judy Miller, is wholly praiseworthy. She is the same reporter who, in a series of influential articles before the war, vividly portrayed the threat that Saddam Hussein's weapons supposedly posed. Only afterward was it learned that many of her "scoops" came from Ahmed Chalabi, the controversial Iraqi exile who had dreams of supplanting Saddam Hussein as Iraq's new ruler -- with the support of a conquering American army.

Her use of an unnamed source in that case was a distinct disservice to the country; had we known his name and motivation, much less credibility would have been attached to her reports.

And because the reporters' presumed privilege exists in the service of the public, Judy and her source didn't deserve that privilege. The fact that she withheld the datum that this phony information was coming from a famous con-artist who had spent years trying to get this war started so he could replace Saddam meant that the lies she was helping him spread sounded like they might be believable.

And in withholding Rove's name, she was silencing a story that was very much in the public interest, about how the White House was campaigning to smear a truth-teller by jeopardizing our national security and destroying an entire CIA operation and the cover of every person who worked for the front organization that was part of Valerie Plame's cover. That was a story worth telling.

Injecting a bit of reality into the news seems to be catching on in this case all around where the papers are concerned. The LAT doesn't mess around in this one, putting the players and the motive right up front:

Top aides to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were intensely focused on discrediting former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV in the days after he wrote an op-ed article for the New York Times suggesting the administration manipulated intelligence to justify going to war in Iraq, federal investigators have been told.

Prosecutors investigating whether administration officials illegally leaked the identity of Wilson's wife, a CIA officer who had worked undercover, have been told that Bush's top political strategist, Karl Rove, and Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, were especially intent on undercutting Wilson's credibility, according to people familiar with the inquiry.

So, it was all just in aid of the furtherance of the much bigger lies that got the invasion rolling. And not a lot of doubt that these are the guilty parties.

The Associated Press seems to be reporting straight news as well, and reminds readers that the White House has said several times that whoever was involved in the leak would be fired. But today, Bush has moved the goal-posts and said, "If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration." He says, "I don't know all the facts; I want to know all the facts." David Stout in the NYT leads by saying Bush has "changed his stance". The facts - that Rove and Libby were indeed responsible for the leak - are well known and now on the public record. But the White House is apparently now relying on the idea that no one can prove they were strictly in violation of the 1982 law that most people have been talking about, although Matthew Cooper's testimony suggests that they were. This means it would be helpful if people keep pointing out that there are other laws that certainly were violated.

Meanwhile, CNN has no interest in cutting Novak loose, although he really is the guy who fell right in line and published the story that blew the covers of Plame and her colleagues. Pity they wouldn't do as much for Eason Jordan, who was raising an important issue.

20:45 BST

Political mix

Not that this is even a little bit of a surprise, but Sy Hersh says the administration "helped" their preferred side in the Iraqi election - with your tax dollars, of course.

Chris Floyd says John Yoo is at it again, this time floating a "new" idea in an LAT column, presumably to make it all seem like paranoid speculation when people mention that it's already going on and they've even talked about it in print - the same way they do with the original PNAC plan to exploit another Pearl Harbor-type event in order to wreck the world. This one involves setting up fake terrorist organizations.

Via The Stinging Nettle, Chris Bowers says that Senate Democrats' fundraising is suddenly doing way better - they have twice as much cash as the Republicans - and he thinks it's the filibuster issue that's doing it.

Lance Mannion wondered how Matt Cooper could possibly have believed what Karl Rove told him. Ezra Klein thinks it's the frog and the scorpion played out for us.

Warrior Dub's Anthem by MadKane.

16:58 BST

More news and views

Thank goodness Rachel is back from vacation. She has news of the latest on the Diebold bribery scandal in Ohio - the cute part of this is that it came to light because their chief competitor, Election Systems and Software, complained.

Despite claims that they aren't monitoring activist groups, the FBI turns out to have over 3500 pages on antiwar and civil rights groups. 1,173 of them are on the ACLU alone, probably because they are Islamic religious extremists, right? Even they are shocked. I'm not - I pretty much expected that, due to having an insane government and all.

The Alias Addendum: For Alias fans, the ABC show about CIA agents doing all kinds of cool shit against villains and each other, one need only think of wee little Marshall Flinkman, the tech nerd, who rarely ever leaves the office, but is as deeply undercover as any of the agents in the field. Would you want Marshall to be outed? Would you want Marshall to be open to intimidation, violence, or bribes?

It's possible Atrios posted the wrong link last night. In which case, this could be the right one. Billmon and Jeanne D'Arc are both posting at Tom Tomorrow's site and definitely worth your attention.

If you're not in the habit of reading the comments here, check out Dan's reminder of what real flypaper works like.

11:44 BST

Good morning, campers!

I think I will need to smack the next person who uses the phrase, "for a story she didn't even write" (with or without the sometimes-accompanying exclamation point). If Judith Miller had spent more time informing the public of government corruption in the first place, she wouldn't be in this jam.

Donkey Rising: Rove should be held accountable for his role in the Plame affair, because endangering our intelligence personnel is a very serious transgression. But Rove-bashing, however richly deserved, will not do anything to inspire confidence in the Democratic Party. For that, we have to put more energy into developing strong candidates who know how to deliver a consistent, credible message that wins the support of swing voters.

So a Muslim woman condemns Islamist extremism... and the freepers' heads explode, Nathan Newman reports. Also, it turns out that after all the fuss about the Kelo decision, the land involved is being taken for public use.

Oh, and hey, look, the NYT has picked up that story about the sting where immigration pretended to be an OSHA meeting. Steven Greenhouse at the Times seems to have picked the story up from reading it at Confined Space - thus proving that blog-power can indeed be used for good. Certainly, if a reporter wanted to be kept informed on labor issues, they couldn't do better than to read Nathan Newman and Jordan Barab. And that could be what's going on - as Jordan notes, "Steven Greenhouse, the NY Times' labor reporter, seems to be touching on all of the hot labor issues lately. Last week the plight of janitors, yesterday the OSHA impersonators in North Carolina and today, Costco: The Anti-Wal-Mart. Maybe some other newspapers should take note that people might actually want to read about real life in this country, rather than Michael Jackson or the latest missing blond."

Ever find yourself in an argument about abortion and have the anti-choicer say, "What if your mother had believed in abortion?" My retort was usually something like, "What makes you think she didn't? We're not all unwanted children, you know." In fact, my mother did indeed believe in abortion. I felt sorry for anyone who thought that question made sense, because they appeared to believe most mothers would have an abortion if they didn't think it was too great a sin, or were not at least prevented from having one by law. Reality looks more like this.

So, are white members of Congress dumber than black members of Congress? The numbers say yes.

More blogs to read today: Just a Bump in the Beltway. And congratulations to Dave Johnson for surviving three years with the excellent Seeing the Forest, where you can read lots of neat stuff.

10:13 BST

Sunday, 17 July 2005

News and stuff

This morning The Washington Post has an article that involves a day out with two bloggers - right-winger Betsy Newmark and our very own revered Barbara O'Brien of The Mahablog. There's some wank about whether blogs are about to grind newspapers out of existence, but at least this piece isn't as thin - or as biased - as most of these things tend to be. There's a bit of an exchange quoted that seemed to sum up for me just how oblivious the right-wingers are to cause and effect:

O'Brien: "Upward mobility in the United States is dead . . ."

Newmark: "Things are much better than you think . . ."

O'Brien: "Don't get me started on Wal-Mart . . ."

Newmark: "If people weren't employed by Wal-Mart, where would they work?"

Gosh, I don't know.... Where did they used to work before?

Thomas Nephew wants to see a higher profile for the question of whether Karl Rove, who could find himself in the dock himself, should have anything to do with the choice of Supreme Court nominees. Would there be some quid pro quo there? Nephew is more optimistic than I am about whether such a nominee would recuse himself if such a case came before the court. I can't help remembering that two justices failed to recuse themselves from Bush v. Gore despite the fact that the case directly involved and affected immediate members of their own families.

Justin Raimondo has a theory that Rove is actually a casualty of a larger betrayal that comes out of Cheney's office, and that they used Judith Miller to launder the Plame leak to give it to Rove. The question, he says, goes back to one that should have been investigated a long time ago: Who forged the Niger documents that put it all in motion? Forging "evidence" that helped get us into a war - what are the penalties for that? Hmm.

Yesterday the WaPo had an an editorial applauding what appears to be the rebuilding of the House Ethics Committee. That could be good news, if they don't just use it for more of the same. More from A Silent Cacophony.

Seasonal Holy Day poll: Zogby says most people think they belong in Ravenclaw House, Bush and Hillary belong in Slytherin, and they'd vote for Hermione Granger for President over Ron and Harry.

12:35 BST

Things I saw

King of Zembla has collected a whole bunch of items on Rove, including one I hadn't seen 'til today, provided by Henry Waxman: Independent of the relevance these new disclosures have to Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation, they also have significant implications for: (1) whether Mr. Rove violated his obligations under his "Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement" and (2) whether the White House violated its obligations under Executive Order 12958. Under the nondisclosure agreement and the executive order, Mr. Rove would be subject to the loss of his security clearance or dismissal even for "negligently" disclosing Ms. Wilson's identity.

Bloody Iraq. Yeah. Damn. What The Talking Dog said.

Spreading Democracy One Rigged Election at a Time at Fact-esque.

Bob Somerby has been driven Unshrill! Because only the facts are Shrill, don't ya know. (Also: Further translations from the Shrill and Unbalanced Krugmanomicon.)

The Democratic Party is in trouble! It's the blogs!

Shorter Virgin Ben

02:49 BST

Saturday, 16 July 2005

In Blogtopia

I think I made a mistake by not giving the "flypaper" theory the derision it deserved when I first heard it. I just thought it was so dumb on the face of it that surely no one could take it seriously. We must correct this. Please feel free to submit your jokes and links down in comments. (Always assuming that Haloscan is working, now.) And please, don't just condemn it passionately, but make fun of it. We're talking monumental idiocy, here, so show it the respect it deserves. (Er, we're talking here about the idiocy of the flypaper theory, not the idiocy of me for thinking there was anything so nuts that the right-wingers wouldn't treat it seriously.) (Honest, I really did write that before I read The Thread of Dr. Moreau.)

Speaking of which, Roy at Alicublog has been checking out just what is too fruity for the right-wingers, and hasn't found it yet, either. He has found something that purports to be centrist, apparently because they generally concede that liberals should be allowed to live. (Also: The dangers of edible body frosting.)

Frameshop notices something in this old interview with John Dean: As I note in the book, the first time I heard the name Karl Rove was when I was asked if I knew anything about him by one of the Watergate special prosecutors who was investigating campaign dirty tricks. He wasn't the only one they asked, either. Via The Reality Base.

Xymphora: Any time you read somebody writing about the necessity of fighting the 'war on terror', and of the dangers of 'appeasement', you are reading somebody who has a hidden agenda that has nothing to do with stopping terrorism, and everything to do with keeping the occupying troops in place. (Also, Xymphora doesn't seem to be buying the official story. But there's no such thing as paranoia.)

David Corn is steamed when RNC operative Clifford May tries to put it round that Corn is is the real Plame-leaker. And May had plenty of reason to know this was not the case. Via Uggabugga.

Nothing will kill this talking point.

Hm, maybe those English translations from the foreign press aren't as good as all that.

20:19 BST

Even a child can see it

I skipped Richard Cohen this week because (a) he's a jerk and (b) I was concerned with other things, but just out of curiosity I went back and looked at this column. And although it contains all the hallmarks of Richard Cohen at his worst - the muddled writing, the "balanced" acceptance of spin (e.g., there is only one law involved in Traitorgate, and Rove didn't break it), the insistence on pretending that absolutely everyone in Washington is much the same as this example of the Republican Party at its worst, etc. - his point, buried though it is in bull, is correct: The main issue is that we were lied into a ghastly military error.

The inspired exaggeration of the case against Iraq, the hype about weapons of mass destruction and al Qaeda's links to Hussein, makes everything else pale in comparison. It was to protect those lies, those exaggerations, that incredible train wreck of incompetence, ideologically induced optimism and, of course, contempt for the quaint working of the democratic process, that everything else stems from. Wilson was both armed and dangerous. He claimed the truth.
See? Even Richard Cohen can work it out.

13:17 BST


I suppose I should be miffed that TBogg has swiped the title of an article I wrote so recently, but read it anyway, it makes an excellent point: "There needs to be a criminal investigation of Paul Bremer."

At Pacific Views, Mary remembers one of the best men we had in government, and looks with well-earned loathing at the man who is sitting in The Paul Wellstone Seat.

TChris tells us a whole bunch of stuff I didn't know about those "Choose life" license plates in Mississippi - like that proceeds from the plates go to funding discrimination against Catholics. And Jeralyn has a strange tale of desperation in the increasingly weird Gwinnett County, Georgia.

Matt Yglesias seems to think it would be better to sell out on the establishment clause of the First Amendment than on abortion, since the former has less support from the public than the latter. Er, Matt...?

Charles Kuffner on A different view on gay marriage.

03:40 BST

Friday, 15 July 2005

More stuff to see

Recommendations from Altercation include:

Don't forget to scroll down and read the letter from Stupid, who really does want to get serious about terrorism: "How can anyone call this a war when we're financing our enemy?"

Josh Marshall reported yesterday that Harry Reid had introduced an amendment to the homeland security appropriations "that would prevent anyone who discloses the identity of a covert CIA operative from having a security clearance." Later, he reported on the Frist Amendment, a counter-amendment that is obviously aimed at Dick Durbin, which "would strip of his or her security access any senator who repeated a statement by an FBI agent which was subsequently used as "propaganda" by America's enemies." (Josh also says the Republicans can't tell the truth because they all work for Rove.)

Digby reminds us that Team B has always been a mistake, always getting it wrong. He says they're deluded. Except for Karl Rove, who is something else.

Crooks and Liars has video of ex-CIA man Jack Rice on the ramifications of burning Plame in terms of all the related operations placed at risk.

This is a good question. But I'm not sure I want to hear the answer. I mean, think of the possibilities....

23:27 BST

In tonight's episode...

Judd Legum at Think Progress notes that Mehlman is continuing to lie about what Rove knew about Plame: So, at a minimum, Rove knew Valerie Plame's name no later than July 8. This is significant because everything we've heard from Rove and his surrogates for the last two years about this case has been a lie. And they haven't stopped.

John Dean says It Appears That Karl Rove Is In Serious Trouble, because there is precedent for finding Rove guilty of violating Title 18, United States Code, Section 641: This is a law that prohibits theft (or conversion for one's own use) of government records and information for non-governmental purposes. But its broad language covers leaks, and it has now been used to cover just such actions.

Paul Krugman says Rove understands American politics better than anyone: A less insightful political strategist might have hesitated right after 9/11 before using it to cast the Democrats as weak on national security. After all, there were no facts to support that accusation. But Mr. Rove understood that the facts were irrelevant.

Don't forget to check out Eschaton for the rest of the dope. How else could you keep up with the continuous crap from the wingnuts?

Digby got linked from Dan Froomkin in the WaPo, who thought Digby's point was so good that he wants to go even further: But here's what that makes me think: if reporters want to help get New York Times reporter Judith Miller out of jail, let's contact every conceivable person who might have been her source, and ask them (or their lawyers): if for some reason Judy Miller were in jail thinking that she's protecting you, would that be a mistake? Would you tell that to her lawyer? Digby agrees.

Compare and contrast: Some governments are run by religious fanatics, and some governments just refuse to enable that sort of thing.

"My opium crop is coming along very nicely."

Philip K. Dick attends Comic-Con.

20:11 BST

Notes from a turbulent world

Really, The New York Times has been wrong-footing it all the way down the line, and today is no exception. There are days when I think Rove must have personally threatened the lives and families of the entire editorial staff to keep them in line. How else to explain the fact that they are protecting Judy Miller for failing to inform the public of the egregious misuse of confidential information that has been so fundamental to the Bush/Rove political program? Bill Scher says the NYT are suckers, but I'm not so sure. They can't really be this unaware of what's going on, can they? Maybe people should write to the news editors and ask. (Or write a letter to the editor for publication.)

Yesterday, LiberalOasis answered the RNC talking point that questions how long Fitzgerald's investigation is taking. Scaramouche did, too: "Rove wasn't guilty in a day..." (He also provided a link for playing Chaos Theory, where you can set off a chain reaction. I have wasted a significant part of my afternoon playing this simple but addictive game.)

American Stranger hopes the Dems won't miss the opportunity provided by this moment. Reacting to a real outrage is just plain good politics, even if they don't quite get why they have to react. You know, it's the national security and the morality, stupid.

Jack Heneghan, reporting from Colorado Springs, considers a bumper sticker he saw and the meaning of liberalism. He also notes that Harper's has posted Chris Hedges' Soldiers of Christ (and Part II) online, for those who missed it earlier.

Dominic Thomas (of Epicycle) sent me links to these big clouds and these as well. Clicking through on the first one I also found these neat storm photos. And here are some twisters. And a nice sunset. (You can also go admire the flashy new water-cooled computer Dominic just built himself.)

16:00 BST

Let the sun shine

On the 4th of July, USPatriotsUnited posted their list of the qualities of A True US Patriot. Today they report back on the progress of their campaign. If you haven't done it yet, you might just want to print out Ten Characteristics of A True US Patriot and distribute them to your neighbors, fellow parishioners, and friends, and send them to your local paper and your reps.

I wish Eric Blumrich used blog-style permalinks at BushFlash, but he doesn't. Go there and check things out if you haven't lately, and scroll down to "I'm Pro-Life!" for something else you might want to print out and pass around.

Beat your head against a wall: I noticed a lot of this stuff the other day and was sort of struck dumb by it. Mr. Sideshow observed that The Newspapers of Record appeared to be printing the British National Party's campaign materials. These idiots cheered an insane war that has increased terrorism worldwide and then they think they can smirk because Britain hasn't turned into a total police state? At least we aren't stupid enough to do things like refusing to fund transit security. Oh, yeah,* thanks a bunch for all your help.

Don't let people forget that the Rove Traitorgate story is all part of the Downing Street Memo story.

12:39 BST

Buncha stuff

Mark Kleiman points out that part of the GOP spin is that if Rove didn't violate the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, a hard standard to meet, he can walk - but that's not true. "I'd say it's virtually certain that Rove committed one or more felonies, highly probable that he will be indicted, and more likely than not that he will be convicted. By pretending that only the IIPA is in play, the Bushites are setting the stage for denouncing Patrick Fitzgerald as a "runaway prosecutor" when he nails Rove for espionage and false statements."

Arthur Silber at Crooks and Liars on the strange deal the administration thinks it has with terrorists to fight them only in Iraq.

Norman Solomon has posted a chapter from his book, War Made Easy, free on the web.

Does anyone else think it's funny that after years of denying that there was ever a "Southern Strategy", the head of the RNC has finally apologized for it? Actually, the apology itself is kind of a knee-slapper, too. "We're sorry. We're not racist anymore. Please vote for us now, even though we will illegally remove your names from the voting rolls, close your local polling places on election day, and then refuse to count your votes." Ho ho ho.

John McCain plans his retirement.

Why don't leading Democrats believe in seed money? Really, they've had plenty of time to figure this out. (More here.)

Sidney Blumenthal on Topic A, with the whole story. He includes the news that the NYT's guidelines on protecting sources used to be good, but are apparently no longer operative.

John Locke and Religious Fundamentalism

How liberal Hollywood is

02:10 BST

Thursday, 14 July 2005

Under the moon

From Maru, of course.

So it appears it may even be clear to the WaPo that what happened at Gitmo was not just a few bad apples. Not that the NYT doesn't want to pretend otherwise. Steve M. detects the importance of panties. Suburban Guerrilla traces the source of Rumsfeld's outside-the-box thinking. No one should have to explain why it's both a moral issue and a stupid strategy, but Barbara O'Brien has anyway, just in case.

In the NYT, Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes about the Gang of 14 as if it was some sort of profile in courage. In fact, it's cowardice. Both Yglesias and Rosenfeld at Tapped have a few good words about this, and they're right - all but two of them seem to be fooling themselves, and the other two are certainly scamming the rest of them.

The Poetry of Ken Melman

They've Got To Be Carefully Taught - the collected RNC hate-speech. (via)

Scardinato! (The Volohk Conspiracy is pretty scardinato, too.)

21:08 BST

Media media

Check out Tuesday's WH press briefing and search on "fox". That's Terry Moran of ABC twice openly referring to Fox News as "friendly" to the White House and among their "surrogates". That's new.

On NPR's page for All Things Considered, we have this: NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr says that the real issue in the Karl Rove controversy is not a leak, but a war, and how America was misled into that war. That's new, too.

At The Left Coaster, eRiposte has the list of RNC talking points and the point-by-point refutations of their lies.

Reporters Sans Frontières says that a total of 56 reporters have now been killed in Iraq in the three years since the invasion. This contrasts with the previous high-watermark of 63 killed during the Vietnam war - over a period of 20 years (1955-1975). (via)

Helga points out that even public broadcasting companies avoid discussing the real issues involved in news stories about our leadership. Take, for example, this, from ABC in Australia, in which the current position of Bush in the polls is treated like the result of some mystical "second-term curse" rather than a direct result of what has actually been going on.

Don't miss this Daily Show clip of Jon Stewart's interview with Bernie Goldberg.


15:35 BST

Thoughts for the day

The post you really need to read about Rove and the RNC talking points is Mehlman on Matthews by Digby. My god that guy is *hot*: I think the RNC has made a mistake in going back into the original Wilson smear. Chris Matthews just showed footage of Cheney on Press The Meat. He was talking about how he'd personally been interested in the Niger story. It seems to back up Wilson. And the last thing they want is to have Cheney's mug all over this story.

Palast: Judy, Karl Rove ain't no "source." A confidential source -- and I've worked with many -- is an insider ready to put himself on the line to blow the whistle on an official lie or hidden danger. I would protect a source's name with my life and fortune as would any journalist who's not a craven jerk (the Managing Editor of Time Magazine comes to mind).

Minute Rice - The Talking Dog asks the question that's occurred to many: "Are we trying to make ourselves into a pariah state? Because, one gets the feeling that no one can be that effective at it without trying..."

From Uggabugga, How not to fight terrorism.

Raw Story: GOP congressman says media should be 'shot' over Rove focus. That's NY Republican Peter King.

Time for this.


11:33 BST

Wednesday, 13 July 2005

Mind the gap

London Stands

Linkmeister, being more attentive than I, says those Underground symbols are part of a a larger project called London Stands.

Fred Clark is doing a series on creationism at Slacktivist, and discusses a classmate's crisis of faith.

Palast with a short story about prescription drugs.

Shakespeare's Sister suggest that the White House press corps ought to ask about the WHIG - the White House Iraq Group.

Aunt Jenna at The Girl Gets Away tries her hand at coming up with better excuses for why Rove burned Valerie Plame. I think they are much more clever than the right-wing's talking points. Via Pandagon, where I also found a link to an interesting post at One Good Thing in which flea explains, uh, what distracted her from posting about anal sex the other day. (You know - if you're a female blogger and you want a high profile, you gotta post about anal sex. Speaking of which, Kate Graham had balls.) (Oh, yeah. From this thread.) (Ah, just read everything there.)

The Seven Commandments

The creative censor at Body and Soul.

Michael at Reading A1 says the real reason for the Plame leak was that Rove wanted to convince the press that Joe Wilson had Cooties.

Toles on Weasels (via)

Looking for savoir faire?

Note to Lawrence Krubner: Try again now. (And, last time I looked, there was no one else in the world whose first name was "Avedon".)

22:40 BST

Not important

The Number One talking point in the nutosphere is that liberals are preoccupied with the trivial matter of whether one of the most powerful men in Washington committed treason (as opposed to really important stuff like whether Dan Rather failed to dot an i in a report). Fact-esque noted yesterday that even Dana Milbank is on that one. (Milbank did say this, though, about the likelihood of Rove losing his job over this: "This is Karl Rove's town, and the rest of us -- President Bush included -- are just living in it.")

Atrios has lots of stuff up today about Rove and the Plame investigation. The Republican talking points include the idea that Democrats are trying to "smear" Rove by telling the truth about him. And this:

Rove was guilty of nothing more than discouraging a reporter from writing an inaccurate story, according to RNC talking points circulated yesterday.
That stuff has already been repeated both throughout the right-blogosphere and on CNN. It is, of course, a lie - Rove was trying to undercut a story that was true, and was willing to compromise a CIA operative to do it. Digby gives the RNC spin the respect it deserves. Mahabarb and Billmon are on this, too. Let's not forget what John Dean had to say about all this. Most importantly: Jon Stewart

Down in comments, Lis Riba (of Riba Rambles) points to this Daily Kos diary suggesting that Rove's current predicament has neutralized some of his enforcement powers, and that's why the press suddenly feels free to go after him. (Also, check out Lis' post about being "polled" by the National Republican Congressional Committee about a "crisis" in Washington. And she says you can get Live8 downloads here.)

17:31 BST

Reasons to read Tapped

Sam Rosenfield with a warning:

I was quite perplexed by this front-page Washington Post piece, cowritten by the normally indispensable Thomas B. Edsall, which portrays the imminent Supreme Court fight as some kind of final, definitive test of liberal advocacy outfits' credibility as political actors: [quote snipped]

Indeed, much to everyone's shock, People for the American Way and the NAACP have seen a diminution of their power and influence in the years since Republicans took over every branch of the federal government. It might be superficially appealing to present this fight as some kind of final, make-or-break test of liberal groups' strength, but it's rather silly to say they'll be washed up if they fail to achieve the near-impossible.

This is a seemingly obvious point that apparently requires some louder stressing right now: Given the partisan breakdown in the Senate and the historical politics of presidential appointments, the odds of achieving some kind of desirable substantive outcome here are stacked overwhelmingly -- very close to definitively -- against the Democrats. That means that they and their allies would do best to approach this fight with a mind to maximizing political points and framing the relevant issues for 2006 and beyond. Again, this is not a subtle or elusive point, and plenty of people have voiced it. But it bears repeating. If anything, the very unlikelihood that Democratic "participation" might possibly serve to bring about a less-bad outcome in this case (when compared to various legislative fights) should be somewhat freeing for Dems. The futility of the substantive fight could allow them to draw bolder, starker, and politically beneficial lines of distinction on various issues without getting mired in muddy process disputes.

Matthew Yglesias also emphasizes that no one should kid themselves that Bush won't successfully appoint a religious nut-friendly corporatist to the Supreme Court.

Garance Franke-Ruta says reporters are angry at being played for patsies by McCellan, and that's why they've finally turned on him. Garance must subscribe to the too-stupid-to-be-reporters theory, because it's been obvious since the very earliest days of the Bush Occupancy that no White House spokescreature could be relied on to tell them the truth about anything. Remember the alleged vandalism of the White House by the departing Clinton administration? The Bush Junta came into office lying and they have never stopped.

And back to Matt and the big debate:

Moral clarity, after all, is pretty easy to come by. Murdering people in the London Underground: bad. Kidnapping diplomats in Iraq: bad. Beheading people: bad. It's all very bad and we're all very morally clear about it. Factual clarity -- actually understanding what's going on and why -- is pretty hard. But by the same token, it's much more important. The habit of just making things up and repeating clichés has become pretty entrenched in this country and it hasn't served us very well. Faced with bad people who want to do bad things, you need to actually understand who they are, what they're doing, and what could stop them, not just rail away in ignorance.

Indeed. Today in Britain, the authorities are trying to look more deeply into what causes these suicide bombings, while in Washington they still babble about "evil". (And the best of us know that there is no difference between fomenting hatred against Christians or other "westerners" and encouraging hatred against Muslims or other non-Christians.)

11:34 BST

Tuesday, 12 July 2005

What's the press corps' agenda?

I'm trying to figure out what's going on here. I realize Bill Keller and whatever other powers that be at the NYT seem to have a bizarre dedication to protecting Judith Miller, and I can see that the press corps would feel some identification with Miller's predicament, but Rove's outrageous behavior was just as real two weeks ago, and two years ago, as it is today, and yet suddenly the press corps has turned on a dime where Karl Rove is concerned. I knew the press was giving McClellan a hard time yesterday, but I was surprised to learn that some of the most aggressive questioning seems to have come from the reporter for NBC. That's NBC, the network that has been in Bush's pocket so deeply and for so long that in many ways it can take full blame for the turn of the election in 2000 when Tim Russert was instructed to call it prematurely for Bush, and did so.

Suddenly, not only are NBC's David Gregory and ABC's Terry Moran giving Scott McClellan the Ron Nessen treatment, but The New York Times has a big story going after Rove. And Matt Drudge is actually headlining that story.

Okay, I realize we have what seems to be a pretty dumb press corps, and maybe they didn't really get the seriousness of all this until poor Judy was dragged off to the hoosegow to bond with Neil Diamond fans, but didn't this occur to them before the Times forced the issue in order to protect Rove? And why is Drudge pushing this story? It's almost as if someone has decided at long last that Karl Rove is a liability.

And while I was thinking about that, I remembered another turn the press took that still baffles me. I've seen it explained in a number of ways a number of times, but I have never understood what turned the press corps against the Clintons. To be honest, I never understood why they were so madly in love with Bill to begin with - they had been treating him like The Hope For The Future during the campaign, right until the end when they suddenly started acting like all of the obviously cynical rubbish that was coming from the RNC had some credence. Fortunately (I guess), it was too late to change the direction of the election, but people seem to forget that all this started before Clinton was in office. (And before this, which might otherwise have explained it.)

Now, we've seen the Broder and Quinn articles that appeared to explain that the Washington Elite decided Clinton was Not One of Them and this Arkansas outsider rube didn't belong in their elevated environs, but when, exactly, did that happen? Why was Clinton the golden boy during most of the campaign but suddenly fair game for even the most ludicrous charges and rumors by election day?

Someday someone will die and his diary will reveal the moment that turned the press corps. I hope when that day comes there is someone still living who remembers that I asked the question. (I'm sure I'll be gone by then.)

14:57 BST

The morning news

We will not retreat in the face of terror: Thousands of American servicemen and women based in Britain have been banned from entering London in the wake of the terrorist attacks. Members of the US Air Force stationed at two RAF bases in Suffolk have been instructed not to go within the M25 until further notice. Way to tell the world that Americans are wimps, guys.

From Raw Story, GOP aims to savage These attacks appear to have two purposes: One is to put the group and its Democratic allies on the defensive over support for the war on terror. And the second is to drive a wedge between Democratic candidates and the millions of dollars that MoveOn's supporters have pumped into their campaigns. With MoveOn fast becoming one of the Democratic Party's most important fundraising sources, the second goal may end up being the more important one.

Judge says it's okay for contractors to defraud Iraqis: A federal judge issued a ruling yesterday that will limit the applicability of a critical antifraud statute against corporate contractors in Iraq. Judge T. S. Ellis III of Federal District Court in Alexandria, Va., held that the False Claims Act does not apply to the many contractors who were paid by the American occupation authority using Iraqi oil money. (via)

That stupid LAT article about how evil Hollywood liberals are preventing the production of uplifting patriotic, family-friendly movies, was even funnier than I thought. (There are loads of great posts up right now at Roger Ailes, by the way, and you might want to spend some time there if you haven't already.)

12:41 BST

On the landscape

Stupid and evil: The ICE, which made the raid, was carved out of the old Immigration and Naturalization service and is part of the Department of Homeland Security. The ICE's mission, according to their webpage is "To prevent acts of terrorism by targeting the people, money, and materials that support terrorist and criminal activities." But what they actually did was endanger workers by sending out a flier claiming to be for a mandatory OSHA meeting, where they arrested dozens of undocumented workers, thus creating distrust of the vital government agency that helps keep workers alive. This hurts workers everywhere, but for this administration, it's killing two birds with one stone.

Palast: The New York Times doesn't want Judy jailed. Instead, the Time's point-man, William Safire, suggests busting whistleblowers, not journalists.

I don't know why it's supposed to be a big deal that the talk shows aren't all inviting Ed Klein on to talk about his crummy book. I mean, they didn't invite me to talk about my book, either, and mine wasn't a piece of crap.

Liberalism can claim a long string of victories, but they've forgotten how to market the brand because they don't really remember what it is. Liberty leads to liberalism leads to liberals.

I probably would have thought Hillary was pretty funny if I hadn't already seen the comparison between Bush and Alfred E. Newman several times in the last few years - with pictures. Right-wing bloggers are saying the usual things, because, of course, it wasn't nearly as funny as, "Lucky me, I hit the trifecta!" and "Those WMDs gotta be somewhere!"

10:40 BST

Stops on the Infobahn

Dario Agosta did a bunch of these, which I found while reading this BBC article about how the best news source on 7/7 was not the newspapers or even the broadcast media, but the blogs. It also pointed me to a Live Journal with a first-person account of being there:

Suddenly there was an almighty bang, the train stopped, all the lights went out and the carriage was filled with thick, dark grey smoke. There was stunned silence for a brief moment while everyone took in what was going on. Then some people started to scream. A man near me shouted to everyone to calm down, and surprisingly they did. Then someone said, "The smoke's getting thicker!" Someone else pointed out that the smoke was worse higher up and suggested we all sit down, and despite being crammed in like sardines we managed it. Then a lady towards the back of the carriage screamed, "Oh my God! It's getting really hot down here!" There was more screaming and the start of something that could have turned into a stampede, except it's hard to stampede in a crammed, enclosed space.

Once again, calm-down-guy managed to get everyone to do just that. Silence decended on the carriage apart from people choking and coughing, then someone near me quipped, "Well, at least we got the Olympics!"

This is a few days old but if you hadn't been keeping up to date with what the UCC synod has been up to, you should really check out Chuck Currie's record of events. There are liberal churches in America.

Whoa: A New Zealander working for Reuters in London says two colleagues witnessed the unconfirmed shooting by police of two apparent suicide bombers outside the HSBC tower at Canary Wharf in London.

The Heretik went to the bad movie house again and saw Casablanca 2005.

I'm making a note here that I want to make time to listen to this show about undercover drug cops whose perspectives changed during their work.

Why they hate George Soros

Voices of Choice: I think it is important for us to hear these stories. It is important for us to teach these young people what it was like before Roe v. Wade, so that we will never again go back to those days ... We have to let young women and men know the tragedy of illegal abortion. - Dr. Mildred Hanson (Via Feministing)

Animated map of Iraq war fatalities (Thanks to Randolph Fritz for the tip.)

Why can't I get a job like this?

04:00 BST

Monday, 11 July 2005

Things to see

Tholos of Athena: Our grandchildren will find out our secrets. They will see whether we became corrupt--or whether we grew just--once we decided to be stronger than our condition. Those who come after us will know if our souls rest easily. This would be because "we did what was necessary," as Camus says, "without any spirit of revenge or spite"..."as victory returns."

Judd Legum at Think Progress has the full text of today's White House press briefing, and I can't help the impression that the press corps is actually pissed off with being shined for two years about the Plame leak. First question: Does the president stand by his pledge to fire anyone involved in a leak of the name of a CIA operative? (And, my, what an attorney Rove's got.)

How Pregnancy Happens may not be work-safe, but I wish they'd show it in highschools. Via Elayne, who also provides a a list of statements from officials and religious leaders about the London bombings.

DOD hires Iran-Contra cover-up criminal: In 1987, Robert L. Earl told a grand jury that he had destroyed and stolen national security documents while working for Lt. Col. Oliver L. North during the Iran-Contra scandal. Now, he sits in one of the most coveted offices in the Pentagon as chief of staff to Gordon R. England, acting deputy secretary of Defense. Earl has clearance to review the kinds of classified documents he once destroyed.

Eric Boehlert commits the Best Typo Ever in this post about what a bunch of wank* The Note has become: So there you have it D.C. media players, The Note has spoken: The fact that the president's closet political advisor has been unmasked as a central player in a long-running independent counsel investigation ranks right alongside a new Broder number-crunching column.

23:39 BST

Thoughts while listening to Benny Goodman

Something I keep being annoyed by is way the right-wingers are perfectly happy to accept a continuous barrage of terrorist attacks on our allies and on our people abroad while insisting that there have been "no terrorist attacks" on us thanks to our heroic leader's "bold" performance in protecting us - but they don't count the years of Clinton's presidency after the first attack on the WTC as being evidence that Clinton was protecting us. When you try to point this out, they bring up the attack on the Cole, but their usual formulation of how Bush has prevented more attacks on us is on our own soil, or in our homeland - meaning, in our towns and cities. They have to phrase it that way, because they insist that we are, in fact, being attacked by terrorists in Iraq. That's supposed to be because of the "flypaper" theory that they are forced to fight us over there rather than "over here". But it seems to me that in that case, the Cole shouldn't count, either, since that was them not attacking us "over here".

Of course, there's also the fact that the Clinton administration had planned the retaliation for the attack on the Cole to occur as soon as (a) the new president was in office and (b) it was convincingly proven that the attack was by Al Qaeda. Neither of those things happened until Bush was in office, and he did nothing, despite having the plan all laid out for him.

More recently, I am annoyed by the tone of the right-wingers over the actual attacks on London, which they vacillate between pretending have nothing to do with "us" being attacked and then keep adopting as yet another reminder of the evil of terrorists and their desire to harm us. The me-too-ism is a bit disgusting to begin with, since we know perfectly well that, frankly, they really aren't terribly sympathetic to us. (They weren't and aren't sympathetic to New Yorkers, either, and for the same reasons). Look, this isn't about you, okay?

One other thing: I had a little trouble crystallizing my reaction to the attacks the other day, because I kept having this little feeling in the back of my mind that there was something I was forgetting, something that still makes me angry. It actually took me a day or so to remember what it was. It was the King's Cross disaster in 1987. The explanations for the fire have never salved the wounds. 31 people died in that fire, and although it has been blamed on a cigarette, everyone in London must know (unless they have been completely deranged by anti-smoking propaganda) that nothing like this ever happened in the Underground during the decades when smoking was allowed in the whole of the system, including on the trains. Smoking had already been banned recently in the cars, and then on the platforms, before the fire took place. So it was obviously something else, and that something else was explained over and over by people who actually worked in the system: the squeeze on proper maintenance. In fact, the ban on smoking may actually have had something to do with causing the fire, because the minute it was decided that an absence of cigarettes meant the system would be "cleaner", they started downgrading the cleaning requirements, meaning there were now more fires on the tracks.

And when I remembered that, I had that little moment of thinking, well, you know, you expect terrorists to try to kill you - that's why we call them "terrorists". But it's really much scarier when you realize it's your own government getting you killed by their arrogance and negligence. Just like George Bush did when he eliminated the entire security structure the Clinton administration had set up after that first attempt on the WTC. And then, having had numerous high-level warnings of an impending attack, Bush went on vacation.

So, you see, it doesn't matter to me whether Bush and Thatcher planned these disasters personally or just had such a casual attitude toward the risks that they didn't bother to maintain proper diligence in protecting the people; they are complicit, by God, and such leaders deserve to be punished.

19:22 BST

Front page drivin' news

The big front-page story at The Washington Past is U.K. Memo Cites Plans For Troop Reduction. Not just UK troops, though - ours too. Not that this means very much, when you get down to the cheese, but I suppose it's indicative of something that the administration hears cries for more troops and plans for fewer troops, and this timetable turns up while The Mule is talking about how we mustn't have a timetable, and this memo makes the front page while the Downing Street minutes went weeks without a mention. To my knowledge, Powerline has not yet questioned the authenticity of the memo, but I'm not going over there to check.

Atrios: There were many reasons to oppose this war (and few reasons to support it), but I find it rather odd that the reason which was probably the most derided at the time - the "this gang can't shoot straight" reason - appears to be the one which, over 2 years later, seems to be the most frequently cited "I should have known" reason.

I dunno, I have long experience of drug hype, so when I get someone telling me about an explosion of foster kids caused by meth, I gotta wonder. I mean, vast reductions in funding to programs for the care of children would explain this same explosion of kids in crowded foster-care conditions, so is this really about meth, or is that just the excuse?

I wonder who they're doing it for.... "Somebody call Jon Stewart," is Kevin Drum's reaction to changes to the opinion section of the Sunday LAT: Here's the rundown: this week's section features a piece about how Jews really are the chosen people and only idiot atheists think otherwise; a piece about the idiocy of being an adult Harry Potter fan; a piece about the campaign by idiot Hollywood liberals to keep patriotic movies out of our multiplexes (written by the film columnist for Newsmax!); and a piece complaining about the idiotic recent changes to the Times editorial section. Average age of authors: about 14, by all appearances. Something tells me I'm not their target audience.

We have met the enemy, and it is Ann Coulter.

Go check out all the fun posters at Tild~ (I especially like this one), and listen to Sam Cooke singin' Gospel, too.

Too Stupid to be President (via)

16:47 BST

Seen on the web

Vintage Rose Beau Bra

Bra of the Week

Americans out of step with Bush.

TChris on another one of my hobbyhorses, felony disenfranchisement, "the last vestiges of Jim Crow".

Karl Rove knew exactly what he was doing. He's guilty as hell. Rove's latest story on how he did it but he didn't really: White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove spoke with at least one reporter about Valerie Plame's role at the CIA before she was identified as a covert agent in a newspaper column two years ago, but Rove's lawyer says that his client did not identify her by name. Er, by which name? This is a non-defense defense.

Tom Hayden: I am distracted from the trials of Judith Miller and Matt Cooper because of the larger shadow of Robert Novak, whose apparent immunity from prosecution is unexplainable. Is Novak the protected asset of one of our intelligence agencies?

Susie Madrak in the small spaces.

Three things to do to stop terrorism.

The G.O.P.'s Great Black Hopes

Robert Parry was trying to get on the Underground to Heathrow Thursday morning, and had some problems. Lessons of the London Bombing.

Eric Alterman at Center for American Progress, Conservative Media, Liberal Nation. You know it's true.

Future news

11:04 BST

Sunday, 10 July 2005

In Blogtopia

Happy blogiversary to Yes! Skippy! (who invented that word).

Do you think newspapers might sell better if they had better content? Well, that's my guess. Via a very link-rich post at Don's Blog.

Jonathan Chait: The funny thing is that the memory of the campaign to demonize Bork as a right-wing nut has grown stronger even as the intervening years have shown quite clearly that Bork is, in fact, a right-wing nut. Via Digby

Cookie Jill says james sensenbrenner wants to stick it to the judicial system.

Format watch: In my laptop screen, the blogroll ends before the posts start at Ramblings from My Mind. What causes that?

Steve Soto says it's time to bring back the story CBS was frightened out of doing, on the yellowcake forgery.

This makes me so mad!

Julie Saltman: I agree with Publius that liberals who consider Gonzales a moderate or who hope he'll be the next Souter need to get more in touch with their cynical side.

Best Iraq post so far today: Central Terror in the War on Fronts, from Norbizness.

22:41 BST


Sheikh Dr Zaki Badawi of the Council of Mosques and Imams, Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and some other British religious leaders all got together to condemn the attacks of 7/7.

In America, I'm sure plenty of lame columnists and right-wing bloggers will continue to ask why Muslim leaders have not condemned the violence, just like they've been doing for the best part of the last four years. Idiots will continue to make false claims about all the people who supposedly fail to understand that terrorists are terrorists.

Oh, but we do, and we understand that this is not a moment for flexing our muscles and drumming up new rationalizations for murdering other citizens of another country, but for respecting the grief and horror people have suffered from what happened here. (More pictures here.)

"These were ordinary people, heading for work, who were cruelly killed - and no-one can justify that," George Galloway said, and that's the long and the short of it.

We mourn, we have a cup of tea, and we go on.

20:28 BST

Open windows

I've had cops pull me over to ask me for my phone number, but at least I've never been pulled over by a cop who wanted to convert me to Christianity.

TChris has a story about some cops who brutalized someone for no reason and though their phony charges against him were dismissed when the cops didn't show up in court, now that he's suing them they've revived the charges - in retaliation, it looks like. (Also, an update on the story about the California National Guard unit that appears to be spying on peace activists.)

Via Rachel, Congress blocks vet's attempts to see children: The U.S. combat medic who was awarded a Bronze Star for his courage in Iraq will not be allowed to travel to Cuba, where his teenage boys live with their mother. On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart blocked a measure on the floor of the House of Representatives that would have exempted Lazo, on humanitarian grounds, from the Bush administration's travel restrictions to the island. If he'd been from Iran, they couldn't have stopped him.

Ken McLeod has a pretty interesting take on the London bombings and what they mean.

Editorial cartoon: Ann Telnaes (Thanks to Neil Rest for the tip.)

12:27 BST

Saturday, 09 July 2005

Terror in the half-security state

Limited, Inc. on The CSA and terror:

I especially love the rightwing meme that you can't use "police" methods against terrorists. In point of fact, that is all you can use - the method of hunting down and destroying dispersed cellular groups that are armed and exist on a black money dole is the only method for destroying them.
The war profiteers, of course, need you to believe otherwise, but this is it. You're looking for individuals sprinkled within your own population, and even all the powers of a police state cannot really stop them. Nor can you find them by sending the military into residential centers. Good police work, on the other hand, just might.
It is childish to think men with bombs can be absolutely stopped. In fact, the benefit of an open society overwhelms the risk of terror. But an international order led by men who unwittingly open up new venues for terror, who brag about fighting wars that train terrorists, who intentionally create situations in which constituencies for terrorism are born, is rather like a hospital managed by doctors and nurses who refuse to obey the simple rules of hygiene. They become deadly to the rest of us. Our leaders have become very good at condemning the barbarity of killing commuters, which is a good thing. Because every policy they have pursued and every opportunity they have punted increases the possibility that we will see much more of it.
Via King of Zembla.

20:54 BST

Seen on the internets

This is exactly the kind of chilling effect I was worried about The New York Times forcing us into - a Newspaper Withholding Two Articles After Jailing of Judy: The editor of The Cleveland Plain Dealer said last night that the newspaper, acting on the advice of its lawyers, was withholding publication of two major investigative articles because they were based on illegally leaked documents and could lead to penalties against the paper and the jailing of reporters. I'd like to know why the NYT is so concerned with protecting Judith Miller. They've protected her from being a piss-poor journalist and now they are protecting her wish to protect some criminal activity by the administration. They did not protect the principle of journalists protecting vulnerable sources - far from it, they have endangered the public interest and every journalist with a conscience.

Atrios: Are we so insane that we can actually have a news report about terrorism on CNN, talking to New Yorkers about potential terrorism, which is captioned "Could It Happen Here?"

David Corn says Novak Squealed. Via Alternate Brain.

Listen to Rachel Maddow interview Paul Rieckhoff about the right-wing tour of Iraq to tell us "the good news on Operation Iraqi Freedom."

That Colored Fella says Don't Believe The Judicial Showdown Hype.

I see we have another cardinal whose faith is weak and who wants to cause more division both within in the church and between Catholics and others. Look, the theory of evolution is not the theory that there's no god. It's perfectly consistent to believe that whatever design the universe may have, including the Big Bang and evolution, God set it up. The idea that evolutionary theory is necessarily atheistic is a straw man. If God is not big enough to contain evolution, well, it's a pretty small god. But you can't prove God had anything to do with it - that's why they call it "faith". Via No More Mister Nice Blog

Down in comments, Linda recommends Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema. And Ron Beasley has posted another nice Parrish (which is an excellent example of what I meant about the lighting.)

19:42 BST

Friday, 08 July 2005


Millpond. Click for larger image.More Maxfield Parrish here and here. And don't forget Arizona.

Shakespeare's Sister is angry, and British Muslims utterly condemn acts of terror.

Chris Floyd was at Heathrow when the bombs went off in London. (I guess great minds think alike, or stunned minds reach for the obvious. We both did posts called "London calling", as did Billmon, who wasn't even here.) The Yorkshire Ranter was actually on a bus in central London. Ken Livingstone was out of town, but he certainly did a better job than Bush and Blair (and Rudy Giuliani, who was pretending to be important over here) at saying the right thing. Go read the last three paragraphs of his statement for what it's really all about. (It is also, by the way, why so many Americans flee from the middle to the coastal cities.)

I don't know who wrote this Letter to the terrorists, but a lot of us feel the same way: Because if this is a message to Tony Blair, we've got news for you. We don't much like our government ourselves, or what they do in our name. But, listen very clearly. We'll deal with that ourselves. We're London, and we've got our own way of doing things, and it doesn't involve tossing bombs around where innocent people are going about their lives. And that's because we're better than you.

Bill Scher explains what the proper military response to the attacks in London would be: Arrest Osama. (And lots of good stuff about Judith Miller, too.)

Interestingly, I don't see The New York Times talking about this assault on freedom of the press. No, I have to find out from Cynthia McKinney (via Anne Zook at Peevish).

Horror movie of the day: Georgetown, starring Judy Martyr Miller.

19:40 BST

London calling

The Tube is mostly back on, except for the Circle Line, the Hammersmith & City, the Piccadilly between Hyde Park Corner and Arnos Grove, and the western sections of the District Line. It seems fairly miraculous to me that the rest of the District Line and the Northern and Central Lines appear to be running normally.

So, let me tap into my terrometer and see how terrorized I feel this morning.

Hm, I don't feel any more terrorized than I felt two days ago. I just don't seem to have that wild urge to make a big show of how macho I am in the face of fear. I wonder why.

Oh, yes, it's because it seemed like only a matter of time before the effects of this insane invasion and occupation reached these shores, and while one could hope against hope that somehow we would be safe, one would have had to be dumber than dirt to think there was some magic barrier preventing it.

And neither will more stupid ideas that make life more complicated for ordinary people but will merely be an interesting - but surmountable - challenge to terrorists.

I see by my trackbacks that people who still believe in "The War on Terror" absolutely do not get it:

We are at war with them, people. What is bad for us is good for them, what is bad for them is good for us.
Re-focusing our attention on what is really important was a mistake on their part. It works to our advantage.
This idea that the attacks refocus our attention on "what is really important" is nuts. Perhaps the war-supporters need acts of violence against the west in order to give them a shot of adrenalin so they can keep cheerleading this disaster, but we're not doing anything to stop terrorism. On the contrary, we have given terrorism a vital shot in the arm.

On January 20th of 2001, Al Qaeda's moment was passing. Many Muslims had once found the radical movement intriguing, yes, but their terrorist tactics had come to turn people off. Far from growing, they were fading, shrinking.

9/11 would have been their last, desperate gasp. The Muslim world, by and large, was as horrified and outraged by the attack on America as anyone else.

A wise president who truly wanted to protect us from terrorism might have done any number of things, but attacking Iraq was surely not one of them. Neither was invading Afghanistan and then leaving a mess behind.

And neither was this:

Falluja should go down in history as a case study on how truth is subverted, co-opted, buried, and ignored. The first US-led siege of Falluja, a city of 300,000 people, resulted in a defeat for Coalition forces. Prior to the second siege in November, its citizens were given two choices: leave the city or risk dying as enemy insurgents. The people of Falluja remembered the siege of April all too well. They remembered being trapped when Coalition forces surrounded and blockaded the city and seized the main hospital, leaving the population cut off from food, water, and medical supplies. Families remembered the fighting in the streets and the snipers on the rooftops, which prevented movement by civilians. They remembered burying more than 600 neighbors - women, children, and men - in makeshift graves in schoolyards and soccer fields.

Under threat of a new siege, an estimated 50,000 families or 250,000 people fled Falluja. They fled with the knowledge that they would live as refugees with few or no resources. They left behind fathers, husbands, brothers and sons, as males between the ages of 15 and 45 were denied safe passage out of the city by US-led forces. If the displaced families of Falluja were fortunate, they fled to the homes of relatives in the surrounding towns and villages or to the city of Baghdad - homes that were already overcrowded and overburdened after 20 months of war and occupation. Many families are forced to survive in fields, vacant lots, and abandoned buildings without access to shelter, water, electricity, food or medical care and alongside tens of thousands of displaced and homeless people already living in the rubble of Baghdad.

What of the estimated 50,000 residents who did not leave Falluja? The US military suggested there were a couple of thousand insurgents in the city before the siege, but in the end chose to treat all the remaining inhabitants as enemy combatants.

Gee, is that enough revenge for an act that was committed by 19 men, none of whom were Iraqi?

Oh, but Falluja wasn't revenge for the three thousand people killed on 9/11. It was revenge for the killing of only four contractors in Iraq. And because those four men were murdered, the United States of America decided in its wisdom and righteous anger to terrorize an entire city.

Yes, I said "terrorize". That's what we're doing to those people. We have focused their minds on what is important.

12:00 BST

From the notebook

In the wake of recent events, John McGowan has posted a useful essay on The Rhetorics of Violence over at Michael's place.

Crooks and Liars has a video up of Tucker Carlson and Rachel Maddow arguing about "the litmus test" question. (More Rachel!) Via Balloon Juice.

Somerby also wants some clarity on the question of a judicial nominee's views.

PNH has linked to an old post from Slacktivist (from the old Blogspot days) about what Dick Morris calls triangulation but Fred calls Hegel's Bluff.

Billboard Liberation Front, via Hugo Zoom.

02:00 BST

Thursday, 07 July 2005

The evening of a long day

The view from my back door looks like Maxfield Parrish did the lighting.

I see Gene Lyons agrees with me about how dumb it is to ask Rove for an apology for his creepy remarks: Apologies are appropriate for foolish remarks made in the heat of argument. Rove read from a script. The White House handed out copies. Besides, what would an apology from that flabby little apparatchik be worth? He's the human equivalent of a fear-biting dog: His Master's Voice. (And in case you missed her response to Rove, she said, "My name is Molly Ivins and I speak for myself.")

Here's a creepy idea: "Save on health spending" by making workers pay even more of the costs of their own health care. Steve Case and Colin Powell are going into business together to do this. Frankly, I think this is bad business, because if it takes off, it can't last. It's exactly the kind of thing that will squeeze people so tight that we start to see the kind of violence we haven't seen since the earlier days of the union movement.

Media Matters reports that Fox News is talking about the London bombing like it's a good thing: "I think that works to our advantage, in the Western world's advantage, for people to experience something like this together, just 500 miles from where the attacks have happened." Got news for you, sugar - we've been dealing with terrorism here for years, but thanks to George Bush, it's escalating and we don't like it.

Josh Marshall picks up the "there's no crime" talking point recently revived by Tucker Carlson to explain why there is good reason to believe that outing Valerie Plame really was a crime.

Meanwhile, Attaturk has something about the interesting relationship between Judith Miller and the late Dr. Kelly.

Arkham inmates on the march.

London bombings toll rises to 37.

20:57 BST

Other stuff goes on

While I wasn't looking, Robert Novak is saying that Rehnquist will resign this week.

Judy Miller goes to jail, and the NYT pretends that she's a martyr rather than just an enabler for criminals. Reality is that the NYT did a great disservice to journalists by using this case in the Supreme Court. Rosa Brooks has a good piece on The Judy Miller Media Hug-Fest in the LAT: If a source with a clear political motivation passes along classified information that has no value for public debate but would endanger the career, and possibly the life, of a covert agent, is a journalist ethically permitted to "out" the no-good sneak? You bet. And if the knowledge that they can't always hide behind anonymity has a "chilling effect" on political hacks who are eager to manipulate the media in furtherance of their vested interests, that's OK with me. It's okay with me, too. Miller had a story - that White House officials were committing crimes in order to retaliate against a whistle-blower - and didn't tell us, and that was what the public needed to know. If Miller ever gives us any real news, that'll be a story, too.

Also in the NYT, Study Says Malpractice Payouts Aren't Rising: From 2000 to 2004, the increase in premiums collected by the leading 15 medical malpractice insurance companies was 21 times the increase in the claims they paid, according to the study. (The net totals in the study are calculated after accounting for reinsurance.) Insurance companies raise malpractice rates for one reason: Because it's profitable.

George Galloway on the terrorist attack.

18:57 BST

News and stuff

The sun has come out, and the BBC site is accessible again, and reporting that Zone 1 bus service is back up, as are some mainline stations (including Heathrow and Gatwick Express lines). The Underground is supposed to be back up tomorrow. As of an hour ago, more than 30 dead were reported after three explosions on the Underground and one on a double-decker bus. There's also a map of the locations of the explosions.

Remember that story last week about how the newly-elected president of Iran was one of the captors in the Iranian hostage crisis during the Carter administration? Well, it wasn't true - so who was responsible for this interesting lie? And why? What the neocons and the MEK are trying to hide from the American people is that Ahmadinejad is in fact a departure from the Iranian regime of the past. He is a religious conservative but not a cleric, and he has embraced some of the domestic agenda of Iran's reformers. These include economic development, anti-poverty programs, and anti-corruption reforms-things vital to an Iranian electorate sick of the nepotism and outright theft that has crept into 27 years of clerical rule, liabilities that many saw embodied in Ahmadinejad's rival, Ayatollah Hashemi-Rafsanjani.

Jeanne D'Arc has a very good take-down of that Kristof article. Also, Evil makes a comeback.

Meanwhile, in Iraq (Thanks to D. Potter for the tip.)

17:45 BST

Bad weather

It's grey and drizzly and chilly out there, but the streets seem relatively normal. The market was pretty underpopulated, but I assume that's mostly down to the fact that the rain had just let up. Aside from one baffled guy staring at the closed doors of the Underground station, nothing really looks out of the ordinary.

Transport: Transport for London says there's nothing on land in central London but Thames Clippers are doing a free service because of the emergency. You can get a boat at Waterloo Pier, Savoy Pier (Embankment), Blackfriars Pier, London Bridge Pier, St. Katherine's Pier (Tower of London), Canary Wharf, and other points between Milbank Pier and Woolwich Pier.

Communications: Normal landline service is kind of overwhelmed for transatlantic calls, but you can always download Skype and make cheap calls to landlines anywhere as long as you have a sound card, a microphone, and give them ten Euro for a SkypeOut account.

14:55 BST

Bombs in London

We seem to be under terrorist attack at the moment here in London, with explosions on both the Underground and on London buses. Authorities originally explained the disruptions as a cascading technical problem but once the buses went off that explanation obviously didn't work.

Police are reported to have confirmed blasts on three buses in central London, one at Tavistock Place near Holborn, in central London. The area has been closed off.

Union officials said their sources had told them there had been at least one explosive device on the Underground. An explosion was reported at an East London station and a second incident at Edgware Road station.

London Fire Brigade said it had been called to reports of "explosions" at a number of locations in central London, including Aldgate, Edgware Road and Tavistock Square as well as to another incident at King's Cross.

As of now, six explosions have been confirmed, three of them on buses. The Underground has been shut down, of course.

G8, Olympics, or publicity for War of the Worlds? No guesses, here. Thank god George Bush has put a stop to terrorism, eh?

12:54 Update: They're now saying they've confirmed seven explosions and they have 150 casualties so far. Except that Clarke is in Westminster saying they've had four explosions. Mr. Sideshow phoned from work saying he wasn't sure how long it will take him to get home from work (bet you're sorry you didn't take your bike, eh?), and our Central London correspondent said he had to walk to work and didn't know why until he got to the office. Auntie Beeb is showing rather appalling pictures of a double-decker with its top blown up. I'm comfortably distant from any of the damage, but I think I'll go out and have a look at how people are acting on the street - big market day here.

11:20 BST

Wednesday, 06 July 2005

Of local interest

Just in case you are wondering why I am so ticked off about the Olympics, bear in mind that despite all the claims made about bringing money into a city and creating jobs, cities generally lose a good deal of money from the Olympics. And then read this. For more background on how this government likes to screw East London, read about the fabulous Millennium Dome. This picture is what it is supposed to look like, but this is the reality.

Yes, I have been an Al Kooper fan since way back in the old Blues Project days. He was tremendously influential and important for a while, and then a whole generation came along that had never heard of him, even though they've heard him but don't know it. "Alice Cooper?" they ask. Nope. Anyway, he's got a new CD and there's even an article about him in the NYT. Here's a quote: "This business is as rotten to its artists at it was 50 years ago," he said. "One of the good things about the Internet is that it has helped to lessen the power of the record companies. So there's a little light at the end of the tunnel - these companies might die, and I hope to be around to attend every funeral." Alas, I can't find any music on his site. Al, this is a mistake!

16:41 BST

A few links

I can't tell you how sour it has made me every time I've seen one of those "Back the Bid" posters. My congratulations to New Yorkers, who have escaped. Why couldn't they have picked Paris? (No link yet for the bad news.) (Update: Story here.)

Bob Fitrakis has written an open letter in response to the DOJ's whitewash of the Ohio voting scandal. Via Bradblog.

TBogg in a more serious mood (but not lacking the acid): Fight of the Chickenhawk. And a recommendation for this.

Thanks for nothing, Governor Warner.

Josh Marshall introduces a new addition to TPM Cafe, House of Labor.

Polish joke - Charles Dodgson sees a standard the Dems ought to be able to measure up to.

I have to agree with The Rude Pundit about O'Connor. (And then there's this from Kathy. Or this from Michael Bérubé.)

Movie from Red vs Blue: Real Life vs. Internet (via Sore Eyes).

13:00 BST

In one eye

I love to watch baby elephants on TV. They're just so cute. Anyway, I watched the first one of Elephant Diaries, and there were lots of cute baby elephants. Watch the trailer to see some cute baby elephants playing.

Mr. Sideshow turned up with the DVD of Underworld, so we watched it. It's an sf action-adventure Vampire movie in which Kate Beckinsale kicks ass while wearing tight, black leather. Costuming was generally impressive, particularly the werewolves, who I'd assumed were CGI but were really guys in suits. Fun flick. [Update: Go watch the trailer.]

Dominic (of Epicycle) showed me Animusic, which I wouldn't have paid attention to if someone had described it to me, but I found it very cool. I can't seem to get the clips for it to play, but I could get the clip for Animusic 2, though it didn't look as cool to me as the first one. [Update: Dominic found it for me: Pipe Dream.]


04:36 BST

Everybody's talkin'

Must read: Bill Israel's Save the First Amendment--from Karl Rove in E&P, which intros like this: A man who taught with Karl Rove, and considers him a friend, writes that in the Valerie Plame case, Rove is using journalists, and the First Amendment, "to operate without constraint, or to camouflage breaking the law." That's why neither reporters Cooper and Miller, nor their publications, should protect the behavior of Rove (or anyone else) "through an undiscerning, blanket use of the First Amendment that weakens its protections by its gross misuse."

And the article begins:

In 99.9 percent of cases I know, journalists must not break the bonds of appropriate confidentiality, to protect their ability to report, and to defend the First Amendment. I've testified in court to that end, and would do so again.

But the Valerie Plame-CIA case that threatens jail time for reporters from Time and The New York Times this week is the exception that shatters the rule. In this case, journalists as a community have been played for patsies by the president's chief strategist, Karl Rove, and are enabling him to abuse the First Amendment, by their invoking it.

Atrios has the Supreme Court nomination coverage covered. With a little help from The Stakeholder.

Honestly, does Kristof believe everything Bush says? I thought everyone knew by now that Bush says he's giving lots of aid to Africa but it's not really happening. I don't even know why I still waste time reading his rubbish. Read Tresy instead.

Stop him before he writes again! Bernie Goldberg has a new book that lists 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken Is # 37). I'm sure you can guess who some of the others are, but one is Representative Jim McDermott (D-Seattle), who said: "Ha. I think the author is undercaffeinated. He just needs a decent cup of coffee." You know who topped the list, right? Norbizness explains: "I think it's because he's fat."

For some reason, I'm supposed to be worried because Howard Dean "is trying to get voters to hold the Republican Party responsible for the 'culture of corruption'" and said, "We have not spoken about moral values in this party for a long time. "The truth is, we're Democrats because of our moral values. It's a moral value to make sure that kids don't go to bed hungry at night. ... It is a moral value not to go out on golf trips paid for by lobbyists." Well, I'm not worried about Dean saying that. I'm worried about the House Democrats who want to shut him up.

The thing I found notable about this WaPo story about bloggers is that, once again, their "even-handedness" precluded giving a profile to the relevant liberal Virginia bloggers who post under their own names (say, for example, Alice Marshall of GOTV) while drumming up publicity for one anonymous weblog and one conservative blog. Given the nature of the article, this is even stranger. Or, it would be, if this wasn't pretty much what's been going on for the last 15 years.

David Corn points out that the name to get isn't who talked to Matthew Cooper so much as who talked to Robert Novak - and Novak referred to two administration officials, not just one.

Hitchens really needs to believe. Now we're not supposed to care about people being killed, even our own soldiers. Oh, wait, we already weren't supposed to care about that. (So why does he still hold all those deaths against Kissinger?) Judd Legum: It's amazing how far some will go to blame people other than the Bush administration for the problems in Iraq.

And just because you need some relief: A Panorama from Mauna Kea

02:09 BST

Tuesday, 05 July 2005

What do you call that?

Good lord, I didn't realize that Langford was blogging - after a fashion. No permalinks, but the form is familiar. More journal than weblog, IYSWIM, but still....

Anyroad, the new issue has arrived, and to my delight Russell T. Davis has made it into my favorite feature, explaining why Doctor Who has been a success:

... Our greatest decision was not to "science fiction" it too much.
Yes, I never think of time-travel, alien invasions, intelligent nano-virii and having a wireless information node stuck in your forehead as "science fiction".

21:55 BST

News nits

I get a kick out of studies like this:

Straight, Gay or Lying? Bisexuality Revisited

Some people are attracted to women; some are attracted to men. And some, if Sigmund Freud, Dr. Alfred Kinsey and millions of self-described bisexuals are to be believed, are drawn to both sexes.

But a new study casts doubt on whether true bisexuality exists, at least in men.

The study, by a team of psychologists in Chicago and Toronto, lends support to those who have long been skeptical that bisexuality is a distinct and stable sexual orientation.

People who claim bisexuality, according to these critics, are usually homosexual, but are ambivalent about their homosexuality or simply closeted. "You're either gay, straight or lying," as some gay men have put it.

In the new study, a team of psychologists directly measured genital arousal patterns in response to images of men and women. The psychologists found that men who identified themselves as bisexual were in fact exclusively aroused by either one sex or the other, usually by other men.

Why do I think this is funny? Because every dyke I know says gay male porn is the hot stuff.

I hope no one misses the significance of this: The Pentagon's most senior planners are challenging the longstanding strategy that requires the armed forces to be prepared to fight two major wars at a time. Instead, they are weighing whether to shape the military to mount one conventional campaign while devoting more resources to defending American territory and antiterrorism efforts. (Via Amygdala.)

The right-wingosphere is all excited about another Ted Rall article that pulls no punches right in the title: Karl Rove: Worse Than Osama Bin Laden - "If, as state-controlled media insists, there is such a creature as a Global War on Terrorism, our enemies are underground Islamist organizations allied with or ideologically similar to those that attacked us on 9/11. But who are the collaborators?" The right-wingers, of course, think that Ted Rall is barely distinguishable from bin Laden, probably because Rall is also a religious fundamentalist. Oh, wait, he's not.

16:15 BST

Work, work, work

Kevin Drum offered an Independence Day post on the virtue of leisure time, which is a valuable commodity America seems to have less of than Europe. And, as Aris puts it in comments:

Bottom line: the only totally irreplaceable commodity we have is time, and spending it the way you want is the only way to a content life.
I've never understood why "productivity" is such a goal. I can see why it's nice for an individual business to get the most work done with the fewest number of workers, but it makes little sense to me to sacrifice a happy shop - or nation - for one that is merely overworked. Trade issues are all very nice, but if fewer people are being employed - and, consequently, more people are being impoverished - this surely is a bad thing. To me, a better goal is that everyone gets to have a decent living and enjoy their lives as much as possible.

Demosthenes points out another virtue of having leisure time:

Thing is, I don't think this is really an exclusive debate. Entrepreneurship and innovation are often the product of free time - assuming that you aren't spending all your time doing nothing productive at all, there's a pretty intuitive connection between hobbies and innovation that should be obvious to anybody who knows someone who has turned a hobby into a profession. Heck, anybody who uses Mozilla or Linux and the like benefits enormously - the whole Open Source scheme is pretty much built around people using their free time.

(Or, well, blogging.)

In economic terms, there are often significant (and unpredictable) positive externalities to leisure time, and the opportunity cost of giving it up can be much higher than it seems at first. Squeezing that last ounce of energy out of employees may be good for Wal-Mart, but it isn't necessarily good for the economy as a whole, and certainly not for society.

It probably isn't really that good for Wal-Mart, either.

Every once in a while, during a flight of fancy, I imagine that George Bush and Wal-Mart and the like really exist as part of a secret plot to remind us exactly why we have liberal programs in the first place. Obviously, a lot of people have forgotten, or this "conservative movement" language would be met with nothing other than derisive laughter. So, maybe, as pensions disappear and free time gets squeezed away, the anger and frustration will create a few of those fiery liberals we used to take for granted.

Meanwhile, you can ask yourself whether working long hours has anything to do with what we used to think of as progress.

(By the way, am I the only person who has trouble with those Blogger comments? I'm finding that about half the time, they simply don't work at all for me. Whatever faults Haloscan may have, at least they usually function.)

14:29 BST

Monday, 04 July 2005


Via Atrios, New Nebraska Network on The Omaha World-Herald having forced the exposure of the name of the ACLU plaintiff challenging the display of the Ten Commandments on public property in Nebraska: The article also revealed that "John Doe" drives a Toyota, listed his employer, and described the make and location of his family's home in Plattsmouth. Tasteful. Very tasteful. [...] For someone who claims to have already "had threats to firebomb my house, to have my son beaten" this has to seem like a contract on his and his family's lives.

Dan Gillmor has an important reminder on Independence Day: On Independence Day, let's all remember that liberty is not easy. It takes work. In these days, we need to work harder than ever to preserve it.

Didn't I tell you that the filibuster "compromise" was a really bad deal? Yes, I did. Digby has a chilling analysis.

Trick of the light: Ezra Klein has a good little post up called Is Liberalism in Trouble? looking at the entirely false RNC meme that liberalism is out of juice and it's Republicans who have the "new ideas". But read the thread it generated, too, which also has some nice comments in it.

I don't agree with the last sentence of this, but I have to confess I'm perplexed that people who didn't get the message before November have finally figured out now that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. Surely it was obvious all along....

Farber says Joss Whedon says Summer Glau read for the part of Kitty Pryde in the next X-Men movie. And... a law professor said that? And William Saletan is a jerk.

23:47 BST

Back to the salt mines

My thanks to all the people who have expressed their sympathy, especially for the rave reviews of Queenie's cooking. But it's not a holiday over here, so on with the show:

Oh, all right, here's a little Fourth of July message. And some news for Springsteen fans.

Cookie Jill on why eddukashon is importint and on who the terrorists supported in the 2004 election - for real. (And don't forget why you simply must click on all of these links.)

Chris Floyd predicts A Supreme Scenario for Bush's nominee. My prediction is that he will first nominate a loony who everyone will rise up against and eventually the nominee will withdraw, and then when everyone breathes a sigh of relief his second choice will follow Chris' scenario - and the dirt won't really be noticed until after confirmation.

I always like to see citizens who want to do their part.

The Freeway Blogger has helpful advice on how you can join the movement (Via Rain Storm).

At Tom Tomorrow's weblog, Greg Saunders says The President Hates Homosexuals More Than Terrorists, and Billmon on comparing American cities with Baghdad: On the other hand, it may not be fair to compare my home town to a city in a failed Third World state run by warring tribal leaders, corrupt politicians and crazed religious fundamentalists. And that's not even counting West Texas. So who knows? Maybe Houston really is as bad as Baghdad.

Elton Beard has another crop of nice ones up - start here and read upward.

Hey, isn't it just a few short months ago that the NYT was saying they were done with all the anonymous sourcing crap? Atrios is, as usual, right about this: Administration officials pushing the official administration line should never be allowed to maintain anonymity.

More horror from The Heretik and the White House Crypt.

Rove's lawyer says his client didn't leak confidential information, but at Daily Kos it was just "very technical language" in a PR effort. And does it mean something that Drudge appears to be taking all of this seriously? Hm, stay tuned....

Flash animation: Radiohead, "Creep" (acoustic), via The Partridge Files.

14:23 BST

Sunday, 03 July 2005

And now for something a bit different

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
More pics here

I gotta say it was a trip watching The Who and Pink Floyd perform last night. For one thing, they were both pretty damned good, tight, and well-received by a crowd that was significantly younger than, well, me. Lots of energy coming off that stage. Sure, voices aren't as clean as they once were, and some high notes are out of reach, now, but you could see a lot of the younger vocalists who played yesterday were never able to deliver like that in the first place. So, a pleasant surprise, really. I feel kinda sorry for the folks who were watching Philly, which was nowhere near in the same class, instead of Hyde Park. (It was also notable that there was a lot more talk about poverty and debt relief and Africa in London. Stevie Wonder seemed to think he was at a love-in. Not that I'm entirely sure "Biggest music event of all time!" and "Pink Floyd together for the first time in 25 years!" really send the message that a lot of people care about debt relief, but still....)

Charlie Quimby asks, What's Wrong with These Pictures? Crisis Pictures is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization that buys and publishes photos from world trouble spots that the mainstream media don't publish.

News America Now says GOP Senator Rips His Party A New One in an interview published this weekend. It's Chuck Hagel, and the NYT piece is previewed in Editor & Publisher.

You could let ABC/Disney know how you feel about their broadcasting Paul Harvey's Tribute to Slavery, Nukes, Genocide.

The guy who did the research that some took to mean pot causes cancer now says it doesn't.

Ahistoricality sees a personalized license plate.

Play Yellow Elephant Bingo.

Yes, this is the post I was working on when I learned that my mother was dying. As you can imagine, that derailed me somewhat. I had a couple of other posts planned for the day, but I just haven't felt like concentrating. This one was nearly finished before I decided I'd rather scan that picture of my mother and post it, but it didn't really suit my mood after I got the news that she was gone. We apologize for the interruption of services and hope to have them restored shortly.

23:17 BST

Queenie Elizabeth Baranian Avedikian, 1918-2005

The picture got a bit messed up over the decades, but I'm sure she'd want us to remember that she used to have great legs. She was a spectacular ham and had a resonant alto voice that she used to joke was really a bass. She also drove me out of my mind, but that's the way of mothers and daughters. If there's a Heaven, she cooks the food.

14:07 BST

Saturday, 02 July 2005

Entertainment section

Farewell to Obie Benson of the Four Tops

Auntie Beeb has supposedly posted a video somewhere of the Sgt. Pepper opener of Live 8, but I'm damned if I can find it.

Any minute now, you'll discover you're a liberal.

Online jigsaw puzzles, via Gail Davis

The Mann, the Enigma

Could this be... more from the Gnome Liberation Front?

Nominate your favorite great guitar solos from songs that suck.

20:45 BST

The hard place

When I heard the word "totalitarian" used again, I knew the whole idea was to use this thing to replace the Cold War. They really miss it, you know.

MahaBarb tracks the similarities - and one great difference - between Iraq and Nam.

It was a long year in Afghanistan, and a shock coming home.

What Iraq means to the White House - or so they'd like us to believe.

Donald Rumsfeld said: The administration should clarify its intent in Viet Nam. People lack confidence in the credibility of our government... It's a difficult thing today to be informed about our government even without all the secrecy. With the secrecy, it's impossible. The American people will do what's right when they have the information they need.

How it all went wrong in Iraq.

18:21 BST

I saw it

On TV: Well, I don't know about you, but knowing I was watching Paul McCartney do his first ever live performance of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band" sent chills up my spine and made my eyes wet.

In Iraq, River watched Bush's speech and found it Unbelievable:

We did not have Al-Qaeda in Iraq prior to the war. We didn't know that sort of extremism. We didn't have beheadings or the abduction of foreigners or religious intolerance. We actually pitied America and Americans when the Twin Towers went down and when news began leaking out about it being Muslim fundamentalists- possibly Arabs- we were outraged.

Now 9/11 is getting old. Now, 100,000+ Iraqi lives and 1700+ American lives later, it's becoming difficult to summon up the same sort of sympathy as before. How does the death of 3,000 Americans and the fall of two towers somehow justify the horrors in Iraq when not one of the people involved with the attack was Iraqi?

At Pacific Views, Mary really liked Obama's commencement address, and Natasha recommends Rivka's discussion of the feminist rape dilemma and the Democracy Now! interview with John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

The Left End of the Dial with the name of what we're doing in Iraq, further confirmation of the DSM from Blair, and new old news about mental capacity in old age.

The Heretik on Monster Policy.

A round-up of ways the police brutalize citizens at Bolts From the Blue, via DED Space.

Teresa hits the poetry jackpot.

14:17 BST

The big noise

Atrios continues his hot streak with coverage of everything from the abortion fight and the conference call with Ted Kennedy to - well, everything. He's grabbed an excellent letter off Romenesko that says pretty much what I was going to say about the whole Judith Miller/Matthew Cooper thing. Honestly, I almost feel like Time and the NYT deliberately pushed this just to get a ruling that hurt journalism. And what was Fitzgerald up to, otherwise? He admits he already knew who the sources were, so why put that kind of pressure on Miller and Cooper?

Duncan's also been blogging the FEC's attempts to make up some sort of reason to restrict the free speech of "bloggers" while denying them the same presumption of rights that are perceived as part of the package that comes with being a professional journalist. For a dovetail of those two issues, Buzzmachine: I firmly believe that anyone and everyone can do journalism; I am a blog triumphalist, a proponent of citizens' media. So there should not be a special privilege for people who are somehow officially accredited as journalists -- not only because that excludes citizens who do journalism but also because it puts those credentialed at risk of having their credentials pulled by authorities. We do not want to find ourselves in that position.

Meanwhile, E&P says Karl Rove is the culprit who spilled the beans about Valerie Plame, according to Lawrence O'Donnell - just like Ambassador Joe Wilson suggested. Jeralyn reminds us that Karl supposedly replied "truthfully" at the grand jury hearing where he denied being the leaker, and asks if anyone can spell "perjury". Echidne has a good summary of events. Josh Marshall still wants to know the mysterious source of the Niger forgeries that started it all. Roger Ailes says, "Therapy and understanding are definitely out of the question."

Xan at Corrente observes that the story on the Plame case won't be getting the attention it deserves because of the "interesting timing on Getaway Friday before Independence Day weekend, and the day the O'Connor retirement is sucking up all the political oxygen to boot." Magpie reminds us of The Stakes - just little things like civil rights, privacy, and democracy. But that covers a long list. Norbizness looks at the opposition: "What a bunch of fun-lovin', civil rights-hatin' theocrats." I'd feel better if I hadn't seen the Democratic leadership in inaction. No matter how vile the Republicans have been, it must be remembered that the DLC did a lot to empower them.

11:47 BST

Friday, 01 July 2005

A few things

Last night, Kathy of What Do I Know? joined us for drinks. (I'd been thinking I should reach out to other like-minded bloggers who live in London. Anyone else interested?) On her way home, Kathy had a little adventure.

John Gorenfield, our expert on Sun Myung Moon - the Bush-supporter who openly admits to hating America and everything it stands for (although not in exactly those words) - learns that Bush has dissed one of the Rev. Moon's cronies. Via Peek.

I am grateful to Ayn Clouter for bringing this Adam Kotsko post to my attention: And so there you have it. The conservative commentators are absolutely right. After we realized that dissenting words have absolutely no influence over the course of a war on the other side of the planet [...] we turned from dissenting speech to undermining speech -- that is, we started casting magic spells to make the war go badly for America. That was the only way we evil liberals could think of to go about our daily lives here in America while simultaneously undermining a war effort thousands of miles away.

19:54 BST

On the Infobahn

Go read Republicans Growing Increasingly Defensive and Dangerous by Chris Bowers for some worrying news:

In the progressive blogosphere, we have watched Bush's approval ratings drop with a certain sense of satisfaction. As Jerome noted on Friday, it would appear that nearly the entire drop in Bush's approval rating comes from self-identifying Democrats and Independents. It would appear that Republicans, no matter what happens, really like the job that Bush is doing. This is something I would like to consistently remind our independent friends of: Republicans actually like the way things are going right now. The current state of the country is the Republican dream. [(via)]
The NYT has picked up the story of the suppressed CAFTA report - but too late to stop all the Republicans and 10 Democrats from being able to vote for CAFTA without the amount of heat and light they should have been subjected to. The Democrats were: Bingaman (D-NM), Cantwell (D-WA), Carper (D-DE), Feinstein (D-CA), Lincoln (D-AR), Murray (D-WA), Nelson (D-FL), Nelson (D-NE), Pryor (D-AR), and Wyden (D-OR). Note: Biden did vote against it, but Lieberman did not vote. (via)

At The Daou Report, Peter notes that the I Word is actually being heard lately. A question about impeachment actually appeared in the latest Zogby poll, and 42 of voters said they would "favor impeachment proceedings if it is found the President misled the nation about his reasons for going to war with Iraq." (Zogby also says there was no bounce from Bush's speech.)

Also via the DR, BOPNews on the failed political strategies of the Democratic Party, Americablog saying Blair is playing the 9/11 card, and Corrente: You Can't Make This Stuff Up. F.B.I Death Squad Unit to be headed by famed human rights pioneer John Negroponte.

Amanda and The Rude One have both been inspired by Ann Coulter.

Jess wonders if Bush took credit in his speech for killing Arafat.

Note to commenters: You really should fill out the bit that asks for your URL. You never know, you might get some visitors - or even some links - that way. (People who e-mail me stories would be very smart to mention if they've posted it to their own page, and supply the link.)

17:50 BST

Coding for the half-blind

Proud member of the Green Lantern CorpsI've noticed a really annoying thing happening more and more lately and I'd like to whinge about it for a moment. It's the fact that, with increasing frequency, I'm seeing posts or whole pages coded so that a graphic actually overlaps the text, rendering it unreadable.

I'm not entirely sure what the code is that fixes fonts so that they actually don't fit inside my screen (forcing me to use the slide bar to read every line of text), but this is a different problem - the text will squeeze into whatever size of window I'm using, but the overlap means that there is no way at all I can make all of the text visible. (I also see this sometimes with .gifs of tables where the .gif is either transparent or in background, so I can see the text, but it's overlapping other text - difficult to read, though not usually impossible. But, with my eyes and all, you can imagine this does not make me happy.)

When I have a graphic on the same lines as text, I always code it so that there is a comfortable margin between them. Here's the code for the graphic in this post:

<img src="" width=61 height=64 align=left hspace=15 vspace=5 alt="Proud member of the Green Lantern Corps">
The part that matters here is this: align=left hspace=15 vspace=5

That anchors the image to the left margin with horizontal and vertical spaces around it.

I have no idea whether this will stop the problem if it's happening on your page, but if you're not doing it already, I wish you'd try it, because it's cheaper than me having to buy a bigger screen.

[End of creeb. We will return shortly to our regularly scheduled programming.]

15:19 BST

Back and forth

I see the right-wing didn't like it when I gave voice to my feeling that an unusual number of reporters are dying in this war. Polipundit said:

This is just one of many examples of Eason/Foleyism in the blogosphere. I am of the "put up or shut up" school of thought. If people like Linda Foley really think that the U.S. military is intentionally targeting journalists for assassination then they should get out there and make their case. Do some serious investigative reporting instead of just repeating the names of journalists that were killed in combat zones. It would make for one heck of a "get" and would most certainly earn someone a Pulitzer.
This is the kind of thinking we can expect from the right. We have a suspicious number of deaths, and it's up to the news media to do all the investigating. Not even a hint that they realize that when you have an unusual number of deaths, it's already time for an official investigation.

It's a weird twist on the thriller plotline where the entire official structure is so corrupt that the accused or potential victim has to run their own investigation because the cops are deliberately not doing it. The right wing has so completely internalized the idea that officialdom has no obligations to protect American citizens that they actually think we should do their job instead. No Redford/Hoffman characters, no story.

Of course, since the right-wingers refuse to acknowledge that the owners of the media are corporatists who back the administration, they think it's a simple matter for "the liberal media" to magically turn up the facts and get them published in the NYT, broadcast on CBS, and - hey presto! - bring down the administration. So if you haven't seen it on the front pages of the major newspapers and at the top of the evening news, it must not be happening. QED. And not a word about how smoking guns don't impress this crowd once we do find them - it can all be spun into something else. (Do the words "Downing Street memo" ring a bell?) Torture isn't torture, "Mission accomplished" doesn't mean "Mission accomplished," "fixed" doesn't mean "fixed", etc.

I guess these kids are too young to remember how unusual all this is. But they probably won't be convinced until the movie comes out.

Meanwhile, David Neiwert answers the GOP claim that the Democrats are weak on terror:

Like most Republican themes these days, it is unadulterated bullshit. It pretends that the arrogant imposition of a long-planned policy is the same as resolve, and that the careless use of military power is the same as aggressiveness. It also pretends that all of these, somehow, are an adequate substitute for real competence.
Also, The spectrum of hate on the conjunction of hate speech and mental illness. (Oh, and you're hip to his latest book, right?)

14:07 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, July 2005

June 2005
May 2005
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January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
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Is the media in denial?
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And, no, it's not named after the book or the movie. It's just another sideshow.

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