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Saturday, 12 May 2007

Unsorted items

Frances Kissling is to polite in her response to the Supremes' D&E abortion decision. The real question in the case was simple: Can opponents of D&E prove that the life of the fetus is of more value than that of the mother? No, they can't. But they don't care. (Also: The position they took is not so much "distinctly Roman Catholic" as distinctly Opus Dei. It's not canon law, for dog's sake.) (via)

There will never be a Reaganesque 11th Commandment in the world occupied by the Democratic Party.

How a free country deals with terrorists.

Life imitates the Bible, at The Poor Man Institute.

Why aren't people paying more attention to the unrest in Pakistan?

I'm so glad I stopped being so polite.

On the one hand, we're spying on Quakers, and on the other, we're protecting terrorists.

Something tells me that James Eagle is skeptical. Looks like a good call.

I guess there can't possibly be any anti-liberal bias in our corporate lying media, can there?

I still think these people look better than anyone on the other side. (And what gets me about cases like this is that there's always some nitwit who will assure us that because the guy was finally exonerated, it proves that "the system works." The hell it does. Even John Grisham knows that.)

I see Smythe's World has been renamed. I like it.

02:37 BST

Broder, Chait, blogs, etc.

My commenters remember many things I forgot, such as:

There is a case to be made that David Broder is a Republican operative and has been for most of his journalistic career. According to a fairly recent article in the Union Leader, he was the one who reported that Ed Muskie cried when speaking about the attacks on his wife. Other reporters at the event did not see that. Getting Muskie to withdraw was a principal Nixon White House objective.

The story has been quietly removed from online archives.

FWIW, I don't see any grand conspiracy. Broder has created the persona of the kindly dean of the press corps; people like Tom Edsall believe it. Yet Broder seems to lack even the slightest sense of self-insight. I'm sure he saw and still sees the re-election of Nixon as vital to national security and the Muskie story as a necessary fiction that a Platonic Guardian must employ to protect the more emotional members of society. These people are delusional:
witness Iraq and the Eternally New Friedman Unit.
Charles | Homepage | 05.11.07 - 7:55 am | #

And then there's:
Remember when Carter came into office and was trashed by the Washington press corps and the rightwing for bringing down the tone of the entire town and the office of the president because he invited country musicians and NASCAR drivers to the WH?
QrazyQat | 05.11.07 - 6:13 pm | #
Over in Ezra's comments, I tried to do a little reconstruction of the emergence of the liberal blogosphere as I recalled it, and Pacific John* corrects and expands the record (and I follow up later. Just search on "avedon" three times to see those three posts.)

And Atrios finally writes in whole paragraphs on these subjects, in "Bloggity Blog Part The First - The Media", "Bloggity Blog Part the Second - The Vacuum", and "Radicalizing Moment".

And speaking of my commenters, Lambert offers a little help when he rediscovers the Japanese multi-purpose bra, and more.

01:32 BST

Friday, 11 May 2007

Why they loved the cowboy who was afraid of horses


That "demoralized little village" was all a-twitter, wasn't it? You'd never know that they were running the most powerful nation the world has ever known, would you?

Yet, even while they ostentatiously ranted and wailed hysterically with anachronistic notions of bourgeois American values, they still carried on as if the White House and the nation's capital belonged to them instead of the American people, which is the very definition of elitism. What an achievement! The very rich and powerful (but we won't talk about that) "bourgeoisie" now had to save degenerate "Middle America" from itself.

When the equally phony George W. Bush came to town it was love at first sight, and why wouldn't it be? Here you had a man whom these people could truly admire --- a rich man of the bluest blood, born into one of the most powerful families in America who nonetheless pretended to be some hick from Midland Texas. He took great pride in his phoniness, just as they did, and they all danced this absurd kabuki in perfect step for years each pretending to the other that they were all "just regular guys."

And when you finish reading Digby, read this.

20:03 BST

Links left from lunch

Altercation: "Oh, and one last thing. If you've been following the trial of the two British officials accused of breaking the Official Secrets Act, here, you'll see that not only did George W. Bush and Tony Blair lie about their discussion -- which is no surprise and, I'd submit, no big deal -- but that George W. Bush really did want to murder the Al Jazeera journalists in Doha, Qatar. Otherwise, what would be the "official secret" that these two patriots are accused of leaking? I salute them, and I only wish our government was peopled with such brave souls. I also wish our media would pay attention to the fact of our having a president who apparently thinks it appropriate to target journalists for deliberate assassination." And this is what things like the Official Secrets Act are good for - hiding the fact that your leaders are murderous criminals. Which is the way Bush and Cheney believe things should be in America, too.

Cursor: "This is going to get worse, not better," says a former U.S. attorney, as the 'Number of Fired Prosecutors Grows,' and a New York Times editorial examines one "highly suspicious case" on which control of the Senate hinged, but Attorney General Gonzales claims to have "weathered the storm." (Also :John Edwards says, "Compromise is concession." Harry Reid disagrees.)

Calif. Web Site Outsources Reporting: "Outsourcing first claimed manufacturing jobs, then hit services such as technical support, airline reservations and tax preparation. Now comes the next frontier: local journalism. James Macpherson, editor and publisher of the two-year-old Web site pasadenanow.com, acknowledged it sounds strange to have journalists in India cover news in this wealthy city just outside Los Angeles. But he said it can be done from afar now that weekly Pasadena City Council meetings can be watched over the Internet. And he said the idea makes business sense because of India's lower labor costs." Saw that one coming. Why, it even has the advantage that there is little danger of reporters in India buddying-up with the politicians they report on. (Thanks to hdavis for the tip.)

Jonathan Schwarz compares two quotes from John Cleese and Tony Blair, for your amusement.

It's open season on reporters everywhere, like in Bangladesh, where the editor of the leading daily newspaper has been "taken away from his home by the military", apparently for no more than doing his job. Thanks to Taylor Marsh for the heads-up.

Bill Scher's Quote of the Day is from Tony Blair, and he also discusses the return of the Empathetic Presidency in Greensburg.

Susie Bright recalls A Floodtide of Filth.

So, how do you get into this thing?

These guys rock.

18:06 BST

Supporting the troops (and some other stuff)

Rachel Maddow did a fine rant on her show last night about the latest vile kick in the teeth the administration has "supported" our troops with:

The Army is sending a company of Europe-based soldiers back to Iraq before the unit has had a full 12 months of "dwell time," or at-home rest.

Members of the 1st Armored Division's 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry, Company A, learned Tuesday that they are scheduled to head back to Iraq in November, just nine months after the 150-soldier company left the combat zone in February after a 13-month deployment.

The company's return would seem to counter a pledge made by Defense Secretary Robert Gates on April 11, when he announced that all active-duty soldiers will spend 15 months in Iraq and Afghanistan, instead of a year.

The primary reason for the extension, Gates said, was to make sure that Army units, and their personnel, had enough time to rest and renew themselves for the fight between deployments.

"What we're trying to do here is provide some long-term predictability for the soldiers and their families about how long their deployments will be and how long they will be at home, and particularly guaranteeing that they will be at home for a full 12 months," Gates said April 11.

But asked late Wednesday about the situation, Gates said he could not explain why the Army was sending back the company from Germany just nine months after its last Iraq deployment.

So what had been a promise has now become "a goal".

You can hear Rachel's rant by streaming here today until tonight's show is posted.

You can also watch Rachel's latest edition of Campaign Asylum on Mitt Romney's strange relationship with France, which is rather fun. (And for those who can't get YouTube, this blog has the transcript for the Countdown with Rachel and Keith discussing how the USAtty scandal is about destroying democracy.)

(On the other hand, if you are really into YouTube, The Blue State has a fine collection, including this post with a 1992 stump speech by Al Gore that tells you what a lie it always was that he was such a stiff, and this post with some hilariously absurd clips from the Gonazales hearings. I love the Maxine Waters bit, and Doggett has some great lines.) (And here's a birthday celebration of Rick Nelson, while we're YouTubing.)

15:41 BST

Voice of the people

It seems clear that Joe Klein is never going to understand the complaint that Glenn Greenwald - and most of us media-critic-liberal bloggers - have about people like Klein and their reverence for David Broder, but it's downright sad that, no matter how it is explained to him - in vivid detail (look at that excellent comment thread to Klein's post) - he comes back in the end to ask why no one will explain it to him.

Look, Broder can claim to have gone out to talk to the American people and come back and report that they agreed with him, but the polls say different. He imagines that bloggers don't know what "real Americans" outside the Beltway really think, when in fact we are real Americans outside the Beltway (in most cases literally, but what the term really means is "not on Capitol Hill constantly interacting with the media and political elite" - and since Klein and Broder are part of that elite, they have no clue what the rest of us think). What they're essentially saying is that they can speak for us, but we can't.


In sum, Broder has propped up one of the most unpopular and corrupt presidencies in history, all after he spent years waxing hysteric over a deeply popular President and a sex scandal that Americans by and large thought was petty and inconsequential. Time and again, David Broder is on the wrong side of every critical political issue. His judgment proves again and again to be worthless and misguided. And his opinions could not be any more detached from the "ordinary Americans" he thinks he represents.
Yes. David Broder is the man who actually said that Bill Clinton had come to Washington and trashed the place, "and it's not his place." And I think that's probably the most honest thing we have heard about the hatred the Washington press corps had for Clinton. They claimed it was because he lied to them about his sex life,* but when George Herbert Walker Bush lied to them about his own sex life, they didn't get all hysterical about it, did they?

No. David Broder, voice of The Ordinary American, hated Bill Clinton because he didn't know his place - that is, because, despite his achievements, he wasn't One of Them - he was just an ordinary, outside-the-Beltway, American.

02:44 BST

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Things to check out

By the Will Rogers standard, Iraq is a failure: "Are people trying to get in? Or are they trying to get out?" And it's all our fault. Fred Clark says the Bush administration's refusal to take on the refugee burden is unacceptable: "This wall, and the division and separation of the people of Iraq it symbolizes, is deeply troublesome. It suggests that the current flood of Iraqi refugees -- already perhaps the "most severe refugee crisis on the planet" Jamail says -- is likely to increase dramatically. And it is likely to do so regardless of whether American forces stay or go, surge or redeploy."

The Death Of Dignity and Shame: "Karl Rove should have resigned long ago, if President Bush's word meant anything. Of course it does not and never will. That is why this charade on Iraq and the GOP we were provided yesterday is so much nonsense. But what kind of a person is Alberto Gonzales? Is he so lacking in personal dignity, lacking in ability to be ashamed, that he will "persevere" in the face of being exposed as an incompetent Bush footstool who is destroying the Justice Department? The answer is yes." Also: Giuliani decides he supports abortion rights after all, and there are questions of entrapment in the Fort Dix case.

Matt Stoller, Chris Bowers, Rick Perlstein, and Ezra Klein, engage in discourse on the netroots/liberal blogosphere with Jonathan Chait. I think it's true that 1998 was a significant spark to the new movement, but I still agree with Chait that the 2000 Selection was actually more significant than the invasion of Iraq. On the other hand, I have never "lost sight of the difference between the role of a journalist or an intellectual, on the one hand, and the role of an activist or advocate on the other," and I think this is a stupid charge coming from a magazine that promoted The Bell Curve without taking the responsibility to first recognize that its contents were already thoroughly discredited long ago and were no more than a refreshed excuse for racism. TNR has been wrong about everything that has mattered over the last couple of decades, and we were not. So having Chait try to claim that his "journalists and intellectuals" did a better job in the search for truth as opposed to mere propaganda is, frankly, pretty rich. (via)

Woman with MPEACHW Plates Prevails - After the Rapid City, South Dakota DMV tried to recall her license plates because they were "offensive", a groundswell of support causes DMV to reverse its decision. (Thanks to Dominic (via) for the tip.)

The French have their priorities straight.

Susie Bright on pin-ups and Vargas.

17:40 BST

Breakfast links

Greg Sargent thinks he knows the answer to the question, "Why The Virtual Liberal Silence On Murdoch's Bid For Wall Street Journal?" But if people think there's no serious threat here, they're wrong: "Liberal bloggers and other leading left-leaning commentators have been very aggressively taking on Fox News of late, exerting pressure on Democrats to shun Fox and deny it the credibility it craves and doesn't deserve. These efforts are showing some successes. But shouldn't folks be equally revved up by the fact that the owner of the very same Fox News now wants to get his hands on one of the most prestigious journalistic institutions in the world?" It's really true - the WSJ may have some of the looniest people in the world on its editorial pages, but the news pages are another matter entirely, and in many respects outstrip any other paper for quality of reporting. And it's the news pages that Murdoch has expressed an interest in changing.

I don't suppose it any longer qualifies as "news" when we learn that a department has been stealing our money, but when someone reports the crime, they are likely to be told shut up and do something else. So, one of the stories we've had on this in the last week were on student lending companies that were "improperly collecting hundreds of millions in federal subsidies", and Jon Oberg at the Department of Education, who reported this hemorrhage and provided suggestions on how to stop it. He was very near to retirement and had a heavy hint dropped that if he didn't want an anvil dropped on his head, he might want to reconsider indulging in such unconservative agendas as protecting the taxpayers' resources: "In the 18 months you have remaining, I will expect your time and talents to be directed primarily to our business of conceptualizing, competing and monitoring research grants."

Jerome Doolittle notes that his new Congressman, Chris Murphy (D-CT), has already learned to say things that make no sense about George Walker Bush. Pity. Meanwhile, Chuck Dupree says, "Obama Will Win, But Probably Without My Vote."

My thanks to Jim McKay in comments for providing a link to what Cryptome says about the shut-down.

13:43 BST

News and other things

Bush said he would veto the new Iraq bill, and the BooMan says that's gonna cost him support in his own party - and it sure looks like he's right, because 11 Republicans had a meeting with him to tell him it's time for honesty, and, "The word about the war and its progress cannot come from the White House or even you, Mr. President. There is no longer any credibility. It has to come from Gen. Petraeus."

Harold Myerson: "Nothing like a judicial edict that acknowledges it violates common decency."

Debbie Howell isn't willing to stand up for Froomkin - so we have to.

Henry Waxman writes to the WaPo to defend Nancy Pelosi's trip to Syria.

Days later, I'm still aggravated that anyone can say with a straight face that Brit Hume is a "journalist"; Keith Olbermann is "partisan".

The Truth Of Reagan's Economic Record

Tell MoveOn it's time to start talking about impeachment. (If you need a reminder, here's good reason. And here's a new one - covert ops that Congress was, illegally, not informed about.)

And just exactly why is the administration so averse to finding out who murdered an assistant US Attorney?

Colbert pleads for tolerance for the intolerant.

Susie Madrak recalls a Simple Song of Freedom, and also links to a City Paper article asking why it's so hard for the media to just call these liars "liars".

03:58 BST

Wednesday, 09 May 2007

I have a theory: It must be bunnies!

I guess the usual suspects defected to the pharmocracy to kill measures to allow Americans to buy prescription drugs from cheaper sources outside the country. So, where are the free-traders when this subject comes up? (Hey, maybe it's because they're a bunch of phonies. Whatever the truth is, I certainly wouldn't ask the editors at The Washington Post.)

Iowans and John Edwards want Congress to stand up to Bush on Iraq.

Mr. Personal Responsibility stole the National Guard from Americans who need them, and now he blames Kansas for not having enough local resources to take care of their state in an emergency.

Demosthenes takes a trip through Overton's window: "I love this concept, because it explains almost everything that has happened in American politics since FDR, and emphasizes an important concept: that it's not the middle of the debate that matters so much, but its edges." Via this linky post at Good Nonsense.

I made a comment earlier to Lance's contribution to the porn/age of consent discussion, and looking at it later it occurred to me that older women aren't just socially and physically more mature, but they also tend to change their style - cut their hair, dress less casually (even in casual situations) - and send out different signals. It might have something to do with why men don't just shut off their ability to appreciate looking at attractive young women when they are no longer young themselves. Meanwhile, Digby joins the conversation at last - which reminds me, the modern situation Garance is worried about isn't new at all, it's going back to the small town, where everyone knows you and remembers all that embarrassing stuff you did when you were young and foolish. What's new is that we've become unwilling to admit that people change - so we don't even want to separate youthful indiscretions from the adult criminal system anymore.

Lawrence Kestenbaum recently learned that, "Congress proposed the 21st Amendment (repeal of Prohibition) in 1933, and specified that ratification would be through state conventions rather than state legislatures. Michigan was the first state to act. The ratification convention was scheduled for April 10. Delegates, elected only a week earlier, voted 99-1 to ratify the repeal amendment." But it became The Lost Convention when the documents were destroyed in a fire, and now few people know it even happened - so he did a little research to reconstruct the record.

23:49 BST

Saints and sinners

Ari Berman notes in The Nation that Hillary Clinton seems to have an awful lot of "centrist" advisors, and a pollster who appears to have a serious conflict of interest - or bring one in for Hillary herself. Ezra: "Andy Stern's office says "no comment" on the revelations that Mark Penn's company has a unionbusting division, which is not entirely surprising. Here's a question, though: If it was reported that Rudy Giuliani's top advisor ran a law firm where a whole division was dedicated to buttressing the wall between church and state, keeping prayer out of the schools, keeping creationism out of the classrooms, and removing nativity scenes from town squares, do you think Dobson, Falwell, or Robertson would have a comment?" Not only that, but he's a lousy (and dishonest) pollster, and his advice really stinks. Yes, he's one of those people who tells Democrats to be more like Republicans in order to win. And he's always wrong.

Bill Scher finds out the answer to Atrios' question about what Unity08 is supposed to be for - bipartisanship for bipartisanship's sake - and says, "Problem is, we've just seen that philosophy put into practice, in Israel. And it's falling flat on it's face."

State of the Day says, "Pelosi May Sue Over Signing Statements." That'd be great news, and as SotD says, they sure have standing to sue. And, "But as is to be expected, the wingnuts see this as another instance of Congressional overreach. Yet never is any attention ever paid to the fact that Congress would not have to go to such lengths to get the President to follow the law were it not over his own encroachments." (via)

Only men get to talk about real news issues. Such as they are.

19:18 BST

Hard case, bad law, etc.

Don't you hate it that people who think they are protecting women and the young have no clue what they are talking about? Garance, I would love to sit you down and tell you about some of the tragic incidents where teenagers were prosecuted merely for having racy images they made of themselves doing legal things. Trust me, getting hooked into the justice system for being involved in any way in "child porn" is worse for the kids you think you're protecting than being in Girls Gone Wild could ever be.

I see Fred Hiatt is pretending to care about habeas corpus just so he can hammer the Democrats. The Democrats do deserve to be hammered for even hesitating, but Fred Hiatt is in no position to call them out, since he didn't seem to think it was worth worrying about when habeas or anything else related to civil liberties when the Republicans were having a free-for-all getting rid of every right Americans have ever had. Fred Hiatt has been one of Bush's biggest enablers and blaming the Democrats because George Walker Bush is unreasonable is, well, unreasonable.

Criminals outraged at being investigated by cops. We're not exactly hearing, "It's a fair cop, guv," even though, y'know, it's all on the record that they broke the law.

What "Follow Us Here" Means - Scarecrow explains that they don't need to "follow us here" if they are here already. The FBI finds them in the usual way you do without having to start a war. It's cheaper, too, and fewer people get killed. (Also: Wingnuts - it's only unfair when it happens to them.)

It hardly seems necessary to point out that Dick Morris is a schmuck, but talking about keeping troops in Iraq because it's "convenient" to give terrorists someone to shoot at - well, even for him, that's really something. (Also: "Christians are fleeing in droves from the southern Baghdad district of Dora after Sunni insurgents told them they would be killed unless they converted to Islam or left," marking "the first apparent attempt to empty an entire Baghdad neighborhood of Christians, the Christians say.")

Make sure your reps know that Americans do not want Congress to back down on the Iraq bill.

15:54 BST

Party like it's 1939

Like John Amato says, they don't even try to hide their racism anymore. Why use code words that might not be picked up by people who revere the name of the founder of the Ku Klux Klan? Why not just quote Nathan Bedford Forrest directly and approvingly right on the House floor?

And let's not forget that the entire liberal world takes its orders from the scary rich Jew, George Soros - "One Of The Most Feared Men In The World," according to Bill O'Reilly.

Meanwhile, I'm afraid you really do have to tell your reps that they really, really should restore habeas corpus now, because for some reason they can't seem to figure that out for themselves.

14:30 BST

Last night's links

Cryptome afloat, but was Deepwater to blame for torpedo? "On May 7, Cryptome transferred its archives to Network Solutions, a move necessitated by a termination of service notice received from its previous Internet service provider, Verio, on April 18. [...] But on the same date that Cryptome's operator first posted key Congressional testimony about Deepwater -- a military procurement fraud scandal currently under investigation by Congress and the Department of Justice -- Verio suddenly gave the site two weeks notice to find another home."

Louisiana man refuses to use fingerprinting machine: "Clayton refuses to have his finger scanned because by doing so, he says, he is violating the End of Time Doctrine." The ACLU is defending his right to be a kook.

Back to the future on the Niger forgeries: "To focus on [Rocco] Martino and/or [Michael] Ledeen . . . is to miss the actual real scandal here: that the NSC on order of the VP created an illegal channel of intelligence in the DOD in order to fabricate evidence to lead us into an illegal war (and likely using taxpayer money to accomplish this task). "

So, you know those field drug tests the cops use? They detect soap. (But only real soap - test your soap for actual soap!)

Sirota: "So again, how come Big Money interests believe they should be able to sue America's federal, state and local governments to protect their profits, but unions shouldn't be able to have the same right to sue over enforcement of labor laws? And perhaps more importantly, how come not a single reporter is even bothering to ask about this brazen hypocrisy? "

Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow on Schlozman, US Attorneys, and the plan to keep Democrats from voting.

The legendary Roy Buchanan, "When A Guitar Plays The Blues"

13:18 BST

On the net

Will Bunch is properly aggravated by the fact that journalists are guests at state dinners, and says, "Journalists are not a royal class in America: ... "I think there needs to be a debate about whether journalists should attend these fancy state dinners as well. The reason should be obvious. Reporters -- whether they work in Washington, D.C. or a small mountain town in Washington State -- ought to be the voice of the kind of people who don't get invited to white-tie affairs, the handymen and school teachers, not the politicians and billionaires.

When you need oxygen and get carbon monoxide instead, you might not remember that your supervisor is your enemy and should be treated accordingly. Also, reviving the dead.

Palast, "RFK: Rove And Rove's Brain, `Should Be In Jail,' Not In Office: Kennedy based his demand on the revelations by BBC reporter Greg Palast in the new edition of his book, "Armed Madhouse." On one page of the book, Palast reproduces a copy of a confidential Bush-Cheney campaign email, dated August 26, 2004, in which Griffin directs Republican operatives to use the 'caging' lists." Caging is, of course illegal.

More evil from the music industry: "In Florida, Utah, and soon in Rhode Island and Wisconsin, selling your used CDs to the local record joint will be more scrutinized than then getting a driver's license in those states. For retailers in Florida, for instance, there's a "waiting period" statue that prohibits them from selling used CDs that they've acquired until 30 days have passed. Furthermore, the Florida law disallows stores from providing anything but store credit for used CDs." (via)

Toles on benchmarks (Thanks to D for the tip.)

01:41 BST

Tuesday, 08 May 2007

Bits of stuff

Call your reps and help save Internet radio.

I've noticed a lot of people going back over what everyone said prior to the invasion and around the time of "Mission Accomplished", but this one does some pretty good review and analysis.

I got that link via A Blog Named Sue, which also contributes to the porn/age of consent discussion, and I left a comment disagreeing. Amanda Marcotte, Neil the Ethical Werewolf, Scott Lemieux and Roy Edroso all have more.

Lance Mannion has a couple of good posts up explaining why neither Jonathan Chait nor David Broder can be called a serious person. (Actually, he did this twice for Chait.)

I think "The Perky Dementor" is a great nickname for someone who thinks the Democrats should negotiate with Laura Bush.

You know, I read stuff like this and I can't help thinking it wouldn't bother the conserva-nuts in America at all, but they do love stories like this as examples of how bad Muslims are and why we should bomb Iran - not because they think it's evil to do this, but because they somehow tend to think that being swarthy and wearing robes and stuff is evil.

Did I mention that immigrants are Satanic? Over in Utah, we learned that undocumented immigrants "hate American people" and "are determined to destroy this country". Also, they are Marxist.

20:03 BST

Leftover links

Greg Sargent has a great clip of Chris Matthews losing his patience with anti-democratic pro-war talking points. If you can YouTube, this is really fun to watch.

Al Qaeda stronger than ever: "Privately, U.S. officials concede that they had overestimated the damage they had inflicted on al Qaeda's network." Told ya. (And: World Bank finds Paul Wolfowitz broke the rules. Gee, no kiddin'.)

Ezra Klein interviews "neoliberal" Charlie Peters in The Washington Monthly, and lets him hang with his own words: "In the late seventies, there was this stagnation, and you desperately needed a rebirth of entrepreneurship. The neoliberals can't take complete credit for this rebirth, because it was happening right as we were calling for it. It began to happen with people like Bill Gates and the Apple guy in their garages." In other words, we didn't need neoliberalism at all, because entrepreneurship was emerging anyway out of plain old-fashioned liberalism. But thanks to the neolibs, we are now on the road to a sort of feudalism without any obligation at all on the part of the masters. Oh, wait, that's called something else: barbarism.

At TPM Cafe, Jared Bernstein has a good response to a stupid WaPo article on Edwards in which they seem to think Edwards has to come up with new ideas to reduce poverty; they fail to understand that many of the old ideas still work - it's just that we need to re-implement them. (By my lights, Edwards doesn't go far enough in wanting to revive the old ideas that worked.)

"How multiculturalism is betraying women" - Johann Hari says: "It assumes immigrants have one homogenous culture - and allows the most reactionary and revolting men in their midst to define it."

Ed Encho on The Republican Perpetual Hate Machine. (via)

"As a theory of revolution, the Starbucks rule leaves a lot to be desired."

13:06 BST


Cernig says Petreaus failed the ethics test.

Finding Thomas Sowell's new home - Guest-posting at The Carpetbagger Report, Morbo decides that if Sowell hates America so much, we can help him leave it and go to a country where they bring his views of government to life. (via)

First Ronald Reagan tells World War II stories that are just fiction from movies, and now Mitt Romney gets his ideas about France from Orson Scott Card. Then again, George Walker Bush thinks he's president of the United States. (via)

Rush the Magic Racist and Thoughts of the Average American.

Echidne adds more to the porn/GGW discussion.

Dispassionate Liberal says "No Democrat Started The War." (I think he likes Edwards.)

The right-wing/corporate media is jubilant about Sarkozy's win, but How long before they sour on him? (via)

I think Jack K. is tired of Tenet.

Another loyal Bushie - strange people, these US Attorney candidates. (Also: Wal-Mart Afraid of Nuns.)

I knew the army was being used to protect us from money, but not quite like this. (via)

At least we know they care about the damage land mines can do. to robots. (Also: Good reasons to date a geek.)

A cookie you can read.

01:04 BST

Monday, 07 May 2007

How the future ends

Johann Hari on How we shop until Chinese workers drop

Over the past decade, an old word once used in the Maoist gulags has come back to China. It is 'gulaosi' - and it is used to describe the men and women who are literally being worked to death producing clothes, electronics and toys for you and me.
But, as you may have heard, the Chinese government started to allow some very limited unionizing, except:
But they bumped into a huge obstacle. As soon as the draft laws were put out for consultation, groups representing Western corporations with factories in China sent armies of lobbyists to Beijing to cajole and threaten the dictatorship into abandoning these new workers' protections.

The American Chamber of Commerce - representing Microsoft, Nike, Ford, Dell and others - listed 42 pages of objections. The laws were "unaffordable" and "dangerous", they declared. The European Chamber of Commerce backed them up.

This is not the first time big business has militated to prevent basic freedoms from being extended to China. Bill Clinton came to office promising "an America that will not coddle dictators, from Beijing to Baghdad", and at first, he acted on this rhetoric, issuing an executive order that decreed trade with China could only grow if China in tandem increased its respect for human rights. Enraged American business executives subjected him to nuclear-strength lobbying - so Clinton ditched his executive order after a year.

Definitely read the rest.

Kevin Drum has the news that the introduction of a level of privatization to Medicare is working exactly like all the other privatization - less service for higher costs, both from government funding and out of your pocket. Boy, those Republicans, they sure are good with your money. (Note to Kevin: The Alan Blinder article you're talking about here is a Trojan Horse. Blinder freely admits what everyone knows but free-traders usually won't admit - that offshoring and outsourcing to foreign countries is a disaster for American workers - but doesn't admit that this is a direct result of his awful "free trade" policies. Then he insists that returning to laws that prohibited this kind of thing is not the answer - which is a lie - and then he talks about the need to "rethink our education system so that it turns out more people who are trained for the jobs that will remain in the United States", but doesn't tell you that those jobs are all things that people go to college to avoid having to do. In other words, all that business about how he's apostate for admitting that offshoring is bad for Americans is just there to gain your trust so you won't notice he's saying that "we" need to adapt Americans to learn to be servants to the upper class. And this guy is right, too.) (And yes, Karl Rove is an atheist, but no, he couldn't play for "either side" - he's interested in power, and he'd always be on that side.)

I'm glad there's someone whose recall of recent history jibes a little more closely with mine - Katrina vanden Heuvel questions the glowing obits to Yeltsin as the father of Russian democracy.

Yonmei has an interesting and slightly scary take on the Scottish elections

I became really annoyed with Blogrolling and removed it, only to discover that now Haloscan is slowing me down. Meanwhile, thanks to everyone for helping me with this.

19:36 BST

All your election are belong to us (Part 7,366)

Paul Kiel at TPMmuckraker has a heads-up on a story by Charlie Savage yesterday in the Boston Globe on Bradley Schlozman, a Missouri attorney whose hands are pretty dirty in the USAtty firings and the "voter fraud" scandals. Kiel writes:

And of course no piece on Schlozman would be complete without a mention of his precious ACORN indictments when he was the U.S. Attorney for Kansas City. Schlozman, you'll remember, rushed the indictments of four ACORN voter registration workers to land five days before the 2006 election.

The Justice Department is still desperately trying to portray the indictments as uncontroversial. As I reported Friday, the Justice Department's election crimes manual is crystal clear: "most, if not all, investigation of an alleged election crime must await the end of the election to which the allegation relates." And that's investigations -- an indictment, obviously, would be an even greater departure from policy.

But here's what the Justice Department told Savage:

The department said Schlozman's office got permission from headquarters for the election-eve indictments. It added that the department interprets the policy as having an unwritten exception for voter registration fraud, because investigators need not interview voters for such cases.
An "unwritten exception." How nice.
Nice indeed, since the rule itself serves as a handy excuse not to investigate efforts to cook the election itself coming from, say, the Republican Party via Diebold, caging squads, voter intimidation teams, etc. But the elusive voter fraud, well, of course there must be an "unwritten exception". How could the other methods work without cover of the myth?

And that's just one little thing....

(Um, is there really anyone left who has seen all this stuff and still doesn't believe they stole the 2004 election?)

15:17 BST

Who are the Republicans afraid of?

I see The Sunday Times is saying Republicans are defecting to the Obama camp:

DISILLUSIONED supporters of President George W Bush are defecting to Barack Obama, the Democratic senator for Illinois, as the White House candidate with the best chance of uniting a divided nation.
Let me see, these people managed to overlook the fact that from the very beginning, Bush was being a Divider, not a Uniter - for at least five years! - and now they think maybe some uniting would be good. So why Obama?
But last week a surprising new name joined the chorus of praise for the antiwar Obama - that of Robert Kagan, a leading neoconservative and co-founder of the Project for the New American Century in the late 1990s, which called for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Kagan is an informal foreign policy adviser to the Republican senator John McCain, who remains the favoured neoconservative choice for the White House because of his backing for the troops in Iraq.

How did I miss that? Let's see, it should be - here, where Kagan pretends not to be repudiating the right-wing view he helped foster, and says:
All right, you're thinking, but at least he wants us to lead by example, not by meddling everywhere and trying to transform the world in America's image. When he said, "We have heard much over the last six years about how America's larger purpose in the world is to promote the spread of freedom," you probably expected him to distance himself from this allegedly discredited idealism.

Instead, he said, "I agree." His critique is not that we've meddled too much but that we haven't meddled enough. There is more to building democracy than "deposing a dictator and setting up a ballot box." We must build societies with "a strong legislature, an independent judiciary, the rule of law, a vibrant civil society, a free press, and an honest police force." We must build up "the capacity of the world's weakest states" and provide them "what they need to reduce poverty, build healthy and educated communities, develop markets, . . . generate wealth . . . fight terrorism . . . halt the proliferation of deadly weapons" and fight disease. Obama proposes to double annual expenditures on these efforts, to $50 billion, by 2012.

Wait, isn't that the same Unmanly stuff the raving lefty hippies support? Oh, wait:
Obama never once says that military force should be used only as a last resort. Rather, he insists that "no president should ever hesitate to use force -- unilaterally if necessary," not only "to protect ourselves . . . when we are attacked," but also to protect "our vital interests" when they are "imminently threatened." That's known as preemptive military action. It won't reassure those around the world who worry about letting an American president decide what a "vital interest" is and when it is "imminently threatened."
Whew! It's okay, he's really butch!

The Sunday Times notes that Hillary, too, has her Republican defectors (as we have seen).

Edwards' name doesn't come up in the article. But then, we already knew they were trying to tell us that Edwards is a girl. I like him more and more.

13:22 BST

How does your garden grow?

Would someone please tell me what this is? [Update: Now I know. Thanks for all your help.]

Your Talking Dog interviews Brent Mickum, who has been representing three British residents of Guantanamo (one a British citizen), two of whom have bee released.

Glenn Greenwald explores the Beltway Versaille culture, and explains why The Politico is so right-wing: "Fred Ryan, in addition to being the COO of Allbritton and who -- in Akers' words -- "also happens to be chairman of the board of the Reagan library" (hey, what an unnoteworthy coincidence), "also happens to be" The Politico's CEO and a former official in the Reagan White House." (More of that here.)

Teresa reacts to the closing of comments on articles about Obama by CBS: "These are the organizations that don't have enough resources to manage their own online comments? Spare me. They can do it any time they want."

Yes, Tristero is right. I keep tellin' ya, there's only one thing to do.

I keep forgetting this from Froomkin last Thursday: "Yesterday brought considerably more evidence of direct White House involvement in the overt politicization of the Justice Department -- not only in terms of purging U.S. attorneys who may have been considered insufficiently partisan in their pursuit of criminal cases, but also in terms of filling career positions with attorneys who passed a political litmus test."

I still say Bush works for Osama.

Susie Bright previews Best American Erotica 2007.

The Pain -- When Will It End? (Thanks to Dominic for the tip.)

02:32 BST

Sunday, 06 May 2007

Open windows

Tim Francis-Wright at K Marx the Spot has an addendum to what I wrote about the supposed liberalism of the Brookings Institution.

Jon Swift thinks Garance didn't go far enough, but because he wrote this before I wrote about it, he didn't link to my rant on the subject, the non-prescient bastard.

Thomas Nephew hated that Leon Pannetta quote - and the article it came in - far more articulately than I did.

Just in case you harbored any illusions about the Republicans negotiating in good faith and compromising and stuff like that, look what happened when John Conyers gave them just what they asked for. Someone tell David Broder. (And have some Republican Sex and Politics. Okay, that was a bad way to put it....)

I don't think this guy looks even half as good as Al Gore. And the Queen doesn't seem to think much of Darth, either.

Even Newsweek admits that nobody likes Bush and the rest of the Republicans aren't all that popular either - and everybody's talking about that.

If I understand this article correctly, Sally Quinn is a shallow, lazy person who cannot figure out who works for Obama's campaign because he's black. Or something. I guess she's just putting him in his place.

Why Global Sovereignty Matters at Orcinus.

MadKane on Bush's Iraq Strategy

Have I mentioned lately how glad I am to have the National Health Service?

So they found this planet, and somebody painted a pretty picture.

22:34 BST

News and stuff

For a long time I've been irritated with the way the WaPo says something "will" happen when it is merely scheduled to happen. I don't like newspapers pretending to be able to see the future (especially when they seem to be so bad at it, and for that matter are losing track of the past), but the other day they actually said that Democrats had offered to remove the timetable language from the Iraq bill when negotiations hadn't even started yet. That forced Nancy Pelosi to go before the caucus and tell them the story was false (and had the wingers dancing). Greg Sargent says the Post has now issued a correction.

Debbie Howell is writing about how comments are rude, again. Whine, whine, whine, pass that bottle to me.

Zawahiri Wanted Bush To Veto Funding Bill - and we all know who Bush works for, right?

Bush's Broder Bounce is taking him to Nixonian approval levels. Which is fitting. And we're all looking forward to David Broder's explanation of why this is good for Bush.

It looks like Kevin Hayden is getting more time for blogging again, and he's thinking a lot about what the market will bear.

Ezra has an interesting rumination about the two "independent" Republicans: "For better or worse, the two politicians just have different incentives. McCain has to humiliate himself for the Republican base, and Lieberman has to humiliate himself for the Republican base. Funny how that works out."

Jack Cafferty has a question when Time magazine's "Top 100" most influential people list doesn't include "the president of the United States". (Al Gore made it, though.) "What does it say about the U.S. when a national news magazine thinks Rosie O'Donnell, Justin Timberlake and the actor who plays Borat are more influential than President Bush?"

18:07 BST

That icky old sexual terrain

Young Attitude Circles full cup braBra of the Week

Many people have been talking about Garance Franke-Ruta's WSJ article, and Alan Bostick thinks I should be talking about it, too. The article advocates raising the age of consent for posing topless or nude to be photographed - to 21, thus making nude and seminude pictures of fully adult women into "child porn". Garance is disturbed by Girls Gone Wild - admittedly, an annoyingly tacky piece of modern cultural trash - and says:

If that phrase sounds too momentous for giggling (and often crudely embarrassing) flashes of skin, consider how much has changed in recent years. Once upon a time, a picture was just a picture. Today it can be wirelessly beamed to computers that can email it to networks where, once it is posted, it can be downloaded and endlessly reproduced by anyone who wants it. [...] In the case of Mr. Francis and his empire of imitators--not to mention angry ex-boyfriends with digital flash cards and a long memory--it can transform the playful exhibitionism of young women into scarlet letters that follow them around for life.
Of course, so can being in a "child porn" case that treats you as a complicit victim. And, as if being treated "like a child" when you are a child - and therefore not recognized as owning your own sexuality - were not bad enough, Garance wants to treat us as children when we are well past childhood.

It's mad. We live in a world where the same people who are increasingly being pegged as unable to make sexual decisions at older and older ages are nevertheless tried as adults at younger and younger ages.

I understand Garance's temptation, but that way lies Catharine MacKinnon. It's not a new analysis to point out that all this "protecting women" stuff leads not to the protection of young women, but to the infantalization of all of us.

Current federal laws bar the production or possession of erotic images of individuals under 18. These laws are hardly a matter of long custom: The first was passed only in 1977, after a spate of interest in child pornography, and until superseded in 1984, only covered those under age 16. A variety of state laws add their own controls on youthful sexuality, trying to keep minors free of exploitation by defining the age, usually under 18, at which adult consent may be freely and responsibly given.
Those same laws make it easy to arrest someone for having their own baby pictures (you'd be surprised how often police pull this stuff), and impossible to safely photograph yourself naked if you are under the age of consent for being in "porn". The law doesn't make a distinction for commerciality in "child porn" - and there's a reason for that, since most real child porn isn't made for commercial purposes, but is taken by perpetrators of child abuse for their own personal collection of memories, pasted into scrapbooks, kept in a shoebox in the back of a closet. Even when there were no laws against child porn, you couldn't find the stuff in porn shops.

But, for the love of all the gods, are we really going to keep trying to tell men (even young ones) that they are pervert sickos because they are attracted to healthy young adult women? That's just sick. And cruel.

And here I am wishing I hadn't been so shy about my body back when I was young, so that I'd have the pictures now to prove just how good nature was to me. *sigh* And Garance would make some of those pictures illegal. (I can't stand the idea of having to throw out any good picture of myself.)

Anyway, as Alan points out, the jerk who does GGW has already broken the law and it is apparently being enforced, so it seems like overkill to be talking about bringing in new stupid laws to go with the old stupid laws. And Alan also points out that GGW isn't even in the same class, where exploitation and life-ruining is concerned, with our usurious predatory lending industry.

I was once setting up for an interview about porn with a few other women, including one who had been a Playboy centerfold. (And also with Alice Nutter, which was very cool.) The ex-Playmate had said something about how she wouldn't want her daughter to do it, and I asked her why. She said something about how she'd rather her daughter finished college and did all sorts of respectable things. "I never posed for Playboy," I said. "I have my degree. And you're the one who has a column in a daily newspaper, and I'm not." She allowed as how I might have had a point. Her posing for Playboy when she was young had gained her all sorts of entry into a better life that none of her working-class friends had managed, and neither, with all my middle-class advantages, had I. So maybe baring your knockers for the camera isn't necessarily the life-ruining event Garance thinks it is.

Being indentured for the rest of your life by student loans or foolish credit card decisions could just end up being a life-ruining thing, though. But we don't seem to get nearly as upset about that.

But I wish Garance would rethink her whole approach. The problem isn't that girls get drunk and flash for the camera. The problem is that we still raise kids to think there is something dirty about sex, and we never quite get over it.

12:26 BST

Saturday, 05 May 2007

Stupidity, or what?

I've come to the conclusion that the only thing worse than the idiots who were part of Bill Clinton's committee of useless advisors is that some people still listen to them. Unbelievably, Leon Panetta said this:

The primary message coming out of the November election was that the American people are sick and tired of the fighting and the gridlock, and they want both the president and Congress to start governing the country, warned Leon E. Panetta, a chief of staff in Bill Clintons White House. It just seems to me the Democrats, if they fail for whatever reason to get a domestic agenda enacted will pay a price.
Did this guy see the same election the rest of us did? Or the preceding four years? Oh, but I guess he was one of those same idiots who was constantly advising Clinton that the American people wanted him to cave in to the Republicans and talk about his sex life in public. You just want to smack them, don't you? The CarpetbBagger Report takes this one apart nicely.

21:10 BST

Assorted fruit and nuts

Intelligence officers respond to George Tenet: "We agree with you that Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials took the United States to war for flimsy reasons. We agree that the war of choice in Iraq was ill-advised and wrong headed. But your lament that you are a victim in a process you helped direct is self-serving, misleading and, as head of the intelligence community, an admission of failed leadership. You were not a victim. You were a willing participant in a poorly considered policy to start an unnecessary war and you share culpability with Dick Cheney and George Bush for the debacle in Iraq." (via)

Jesse's kid is cool, but the story still bites.

Ben at White Rose Society always has the most recently broadcast Thom Hartmann show streaming continuously at his site,* which means you can listen to the regular Friday Breakfast With Bernie feature all weekend. This week's show only has an hour of Thom (where he and Bernie discuss the GOP "debate"), but you might want to listen to the rest for the guest spot with Peter B. Collins, who interviews Brad Friedman from The Brad Blog who says some urgent things about Rush Holt's HR811, a bill that needs to be better before it passes and institutionalizes some forms of electronic voting. Contact your reps and tell them we always must have paper ballots, not just a "paper trail". (if you listen to the whole show, you might want to drop something in Ben's tip jar. Or you can listen to Brad's segment here at his blog.)

If it's good enough for Paris Hilton, it's good enough for George Walker Bush.

You Can't Veto the Truth.

Bob Geiger has the Saturday editorial cartoons (and Mike Luckovich has been brilliant this week).

"The Right Number" is web comic (about romance and math) with an unusual style of presentation. I found it more comfortable to read than most multiple-panel web comics. Thanks to Dominic (of) for the tip.

A Show of Penises - Susie Bright interviews a guy who crochets tackle (with photos).

I dunno, the Blogrolling thing is convenient, but I'm getting pissed off with how it slows down the page loads so much.

16:09 BST

Across the straits, around the horn: how far can sailors fly?

Despite the fact that earlier this year we were hearing sounds that The New York Times would not replace their departed ombudsman, it seems they have decided not only to appoint a new "public editor", but to appoint Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and editor Clark Hoyt, who was at the wheel at Knight Ridder when they gave the best Iraq coverage of any major news organization.

I probably would have paid a lot of attention to Failure of Conservatism Day if I hadn't been doing things like being in an airplane lately. But other people did, and Bill Scher provides a round-up. (And Rick Perlstein gives us his favorite moments from the Republican debate.)

(Attaturk had his own favorite moments, and gave me the wonderful fantasy of Chris Matthews invoking the C-Word and his guests all talking like they thought he meant George Clinton.)

Over at Alternet's Peek, Report: federal contractors owe billions in unpaid taxes.

The Washington Post has a story on Republican legislative candidate Faisal Gill's little scandal in Virginia, which recalls Mary Jacoby's story in Salon back in 2004 about Senior Homeland Security official Faisal Gill's ties to terrorists.

Eric Alterman says he found something worth reading in The National Review - Bruce Bartlett being right about the fact that Hillary Clinton is the most conservative of the Democratic frontrunners (and therefore, since a Republican is unlikely to be able to win the presidency in 2008, the person conservatives should back), and secondly, "because at least one of its contributors has gone so crazy he is wondering if it might not be a good idea to have a military coup against the elected government of the United States. ... These people really do hate America."

Hillary Clinton and Robert Byrd are proposing a bill to deauthorize the war. Steve Soto calls it a gimmick and says he seriously questions Hillary's judgment" on this.

Henry Farrell on Chait's article, (via).

Rachel Maddow's "podthing": Campaign Asylum - Beware the Ghost of Reagan.

Play Pacman, and watch or read Bill Moyers' interview with Jon Stewart (and with Josh Marshall) via Biomes Blog.

12:25 BST

It had to happen

Riverbend at Baghdad Burning considers The Great Wall of Segregation:

I always hear the Iraqi pro-war crowd interviewed on television from foreign capitals (they can only appear on television from the safety of foreign capitals because I defy anyone to be publicly pro-war in Iraq). They refuse to believe that their religiously inclined, sectarian political parties fueled this whole Sunni/Shia conflict. They refuse to acknowledge that this situation is a direct result of the war and occupation. They go on and on about Iraq's history and how Sunnis and Shia were always in conflict and I hate that. I hate that a handful of expats who haven't been to the country in decades pretend to know more about it than people actually living there.

I remember Baghdad before the war- one could live anywhere. We didn't know what our neighbors were- we didn't care. No one asked about religion or sect. No one bothered with what was considered a trivial topic: are you Sunni or Shia? You only asked something like that if you were uncouth and backward. Our lives revolve around it now. Our existence depends on hiding it or highlighting it- depending on the group of masked men who stop you or raid your home in the middle of the night.

And that leads to...
On a personal note, we've finally decided to leave. I guess I've known we would be leaving for a while now. We discussed it as a family dozens of times. At first, someone would suggest it tentatively because, it was just a preposterous idea- leaving ones home and extended family- leaving ones country- and to what? To where?


So we've been busy. Busy trying to decide what part of our lives to leave behind. Which memories are dispensable? We, like many Iraqis, are not the classic refugees- the ones with only the clothes on their backs and no choice. We are choosing to leave because the other option is simply a continuation of what has been one long nightmare- stay and wait and try to survive.


It's difficult to decide which is more frightening- car bombs and militias, or having to leave everything you know and love, to some unspecified place for a future where nothing is certain.

03:18 BST

Friday, 04 May 2007


I'm catching up with the TV I missed while I was away, so have a couple of links:

Rick Perlstein on the Party of Fraud: "Allow me to explain. Character assassination, sabotage, and deception and subterfuge are not incidental to conservative politics but central to it. To them, politics without such things doesn't even feel like...politics. Catch them in a relaxed moment, and they freely admit it - with relish."

Rachel Maddow made a good point on her show last night - The Republicans are constantly trying to tie themselves to the sainted Ronald Reagan - but he was a criminal (BCCI, October surprise) who passed the highest ever tax-raise on working people. It's something we should keep reminding them about.

19:09 BST

Meat and potatoes

Atrios (among others) has pointed out that, Jonathan Chait to the contrary, Daily Kos does not represent "the liberal blogosphere". He also points out that we mostly don't criticize Kos (even though we often disagree with him) because for the most part it's really not that important to do so, since - aside from anything else - they don't appear all that often on national television or in our Newspapers of Record. But, just for the record, I think Kos is a nitwit for the way he virtually banned any discussion of how the 2004 election was stolen. It's not simply that no amount of discussion was going to overturn the election results or put Karl Rove in jail, it's that the world needed to see that there were questions about whether Bush was really elected. (However, also for the record, the world doesn't need me to attack Kos in the name of Truth. We have the right-wing blogosphere and Jonathan Chait to do that.)

Further to the subject of Chait's article, you might want to read what Big Tent Democrat has to say about it all, because he still reckons it was a good article that, for all its many flaws (and he does address quite a few of them), has some important things to say. (Also, BooMan and Toast are less forgiving.)

Teresa notes that Cryptome is losing its ISP - because, it seems, the spooks don't like it. (And yes, it's true - in the rest of the world, the relationship between the intel agencies and Reader's Digest is no secret.) And Patrick says the people who support the DMCA are the crazies. (Patrick also sidelights a good quote from Cory Doctorow, who says, "The MPAA and RIAA are conspiring to unmake America, to turn this into a country where free expression, due process, and the rule of law take a back-seat to a perpetual set of governmental handouts intended to guarantee the long-term profitability of a small handful of corrupt companies."

I am thrilled to learn that my fellow Atriot Thers is a Beiderbeck fan.

Make a note.

16:02 BST

Freedom declared enemy of United States

If the army thinks of some group as "the enemy", and members of that group start getting killed at an unprecedented rate, is it reasonable to suspect that the army is deliberately targeting those people? Maybe:

It looks like it's official: the United States Army thinks that American reporters are a threat to national security. Thanks to some great sleuthing by Wired's "Danger Room" blogger Noah Shachtman, the Army's new operational security guidelines (OPSEC) hit the Web in a big way yesterday, and the implications they have for reporters -- who are grouped in with drug cartels and Al Qaeda as security threats to be beaten back -- are staggering.

Make no mistake, this is a very big deal, and every American citizen, not just reporters and soldiers, needs to understand the implications of the Army's strict new policy, because it directly affects how citizens receive information about their armed forces: information that it has every right to get.

That's from Paul McLeary in CJR Daily, and he has good reason to be worried:
Under these guidelines, reporters digging for information about military projects, funding requests, new acquisition strategies, or other military-related stories could be blown in by an antsy DoD worker or soldier who doesn't like the tone of questioning. That's a pretty dangerous road to begin to travel for any country, and for the U.S. it's simply unacceptable. We have no problem with the Army, or the Pentagon, keeping various things secret. In fact, we expect them to. But a reporter's job is to dig for truth, and when the military begins throwing up roadblocks like these, everyone loses.

As a creepy little addendum to this whole sorry affair, we'll quote what Major Ray Ceralde, the author of the new rules, told Shachtman in an interview yesterday: "A person doesn't have to be in the military or government to support OPSEC...As a Nation, we are in this fight together, and all Americans are encouraged to practice OPSEC."

In other words, it's open season on curious reporters.

13:06 BST

Thursday, 03 May 2007

Trying to make sense of jet-lag past and jet-lag to come

It's always hell arriving after that weird, short, mostly sleepless night to find yourself in the sprawling insanity of Heathrow - nah, you don't want to hear about that. I'm finally back home, anyway, and only partially in a coma. Have a few links to entertain yourselves while I try to find some equilibrium.

MediaBloodhound responds to The Illusion of Red/Blue Blog Parity.

Lance Mannion on Carl Bernstein's "exposé" of Hillary.

It seems that no power on earth will stop the Beltway media from thinking "The Haircut" is the story, when the real story is that the Beltway media is nuts. (And I've always had the impression that when guys go out of their way to suggest that another man is a sissy, it's usually because they have their own sexual identity problems they're trying to project onto someone else.) (via)

Interpreting George Tenet

17:24 BST

Wednesday, 02 May 2007

It is further noted that...

Digby has an excellent piece on why Chait misuses the term "propaganda", and Tristero says some other smart thingsScott Lemieux uses the Chait article as a jumping off point to discuss the 2000 Selection.

At The Left Coaster, Paradox has his own take on Chait's article, and Steve Soto invites you to advise Reid and Pelosi. And Kosovo didn't have oil.

Dave Johnson on priorities.

Echidne explains why the right-wingers have made up the lie that Hillary campaigns under two different names according to venue.

Cheney, in his basement, with a wiretap: "Please, can we at least impeach Cheney? I mean, over thirty felonies for ignoring FISA (that's the illegal part), and trashing our right to be secure in our papers and effects (that's the unconstitutional part) makes Niger forgeries look like small potatoes, doesn't it?"

How much of this kind of thing has to go on before people begin to realize that America has quit being a technologically advanced country in any way? The future is happening somewhere else while America gets dragged back into the 13th century.

18:46 BST


I haven't finished reading this uneven Jon Chait article because I keep getting stopped by the sudden emergence of dumb stuff. He starts off with a fairly accurate description of the event that I think really sparked things off for us - the Florida recount (or non-recount) in 2000 - but then he ruins it:

All the lessons the netroots have gleaned about U.S. politics were on display in this noxious denouement, and those lessons have been reinforced time and again throughout the Bush presidency. The Democratic leadership and the liberal intelligentsia seemed pathetic and exhausted, wedded to musty ideals of bipartisanship and decorousness. Meanwhile, what the netroots saw in the Republican Party, they largely admired. They saw a genuine mass movement built up over several decades. They saw a powerful message machine. And they saw a political elite bound together with ironclad party discipline.
You know something? It disgusts me to see it phrased that way. Yes, it's true that the Republicans had figured out that they had to have a structure that supported their movement, but they figured it out by looking at what the Democratic Party had been doing. Everything good they copied. And then they marshalled a few convenient memes to frighten Democrats off of doing what they had once successfully done. All the rubbish about the importance of "bipartisanship" (that is only important for Democrats to do) is a GOP meme. Cowing Democrats by calling them "partisan" whenever they stand up for anything is something the GOP started. God only knows how they got Democrats to believe it and stop fighting back. But the most brilliant thing they did was turn the tables on something we'd been doing for years - making "conservative" an insult. Of course, they did it by lying - by pretending that liberalism was too expensive, too unrealistic, too unfair, too wild, too crazy, too demanding - but they did it successfully because no one was more mesmerized by it than the limp politicians and arrogant media on Capitol Hill.

So, it's grossly inaccurate to couch this in terms of the netroots wanting to imitate the Republicans. What we were saying was, "Why aren't Democrats doing what we used to do? Why are Democrats acting like every lie from the Republicans is true? Why aren't they standing up and fighting - and leading?"

I mean, face it, the fiery liberal was the stereotype, it was who we were - and how we won. Suddenly it was too unseemly to actually stand up and say things that are as plain as the nose on my face? Our "leadership" couldn't even stand up and say that if you don't count the ballots, it's not an election? No one could say (outside of a few blogs) that what the Republicans were doing was illegal? Come on!

Obviously, this mentality bled far and wide, because it's exactly what Chait is doing - rather than seeing that we wanted Democrats and liberals to go back to being Democrats and liberals, he perceives it as wanting to emulate the Republicans. No, we didn't. We didn't want to lie and break the law and hoodwink everyone. We didn't need to. We just needed our so-called leaders to stand up and tell the truth, something the Republicans could not afford to do.

And then we remembered that it'd probably be easier for them to represent us if we impressed upon them what it is we want. While most of us can't afford to make a career of pressuring politicians, we can't expect them to represent us if the only voices they are hearing are those of Republican operatives, either. As Thom Hartmann puts it, we had to create the parade for them to get in front of - that's what democracy is. We remembered that we used to do it, and the Republicans had learned to fake it, and we had to get back to doing it for real.

So I read further and see that Chait goes on to make a perfectly good point but he says:

If you asked a Heritage Foundation fellow or an editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal how his work fits into the movement, he would immediately understand that you meant the conservative movement. If you asked the same question of a Brookings Institute fellow or a New York Times editorial writer, he would have no idea what you were talking about.
I read things like this and feel old. Raise your hand if you remember that Brookings was never a liberal think tank.

Let's get this straight: Brookings is "liberal" only in the sense that it conforms to the basic American ideal of a nation whose leaders are elected by the general populace to serve the general populace; that is, it is not trying to overthrow our form of government. It is by charter non-partisan and non ideological within the context of American government. Only if you accept that overthrowing our form of government is "conservatism" can you call them "liberal".

But Brookings is a think tank, by which I mean it does real research and formulates policy based on what is known or hoped to work.

You cannot say that about the conservative "think tanks", which used the same terminology but are really PR outfits where people sit around and try to think of new ways to sell right-wing ideology. Because the right-wing does not believe in programs that serve the public in the first place, they have no need of real think tanks - they only need to try to find clever ways to wrest the government from the people without being tarred and feathered and run out of town.

30 years ago, most liberals regarded Brookings as a conservative think tank, and it's about as conservative as you can be and still be a real think tank. (Because you'd have to leave facts behind to get any more conservative.) Rand was seen as more middle-of-the-road.

So, you see, it's kind of strange to see Chait trying to parallel Brookings with overtly, avowedly right-wing institutions. There are liberal groups that (having let the real think tanks do the research) sit around trying to think of ways to sell liberalism, but most people have never heard of them because the Democratic/liberal establishment doesn't make any real ties to them and often tries to pretend they aren't there.

So Chait's point is real, it's just that he's looking in the wrong place - just as he does when comparing the deliberately and vociferously right-wing WSJ editorial page to the mushy-middle establishment-oriented NYT editorial page. While there are certainly liberal periodicals of note in America, they are not daily newspapers and the Democratic leadership does not appear to spend much time reading them - and they are not The New York Times, which claims to oppose the death penalty but never makes a case for the position, can't make up its mind about abortion even though most Americans still support Roe v. Wade, claims to believe in freedom of speech but rarely uses the phrase except to defend Judith Miller's right to refuse to testify as witness to a crime - and usually doesn't bother to defend the concept of free speech at all - and for a very long time had A.M. Rosenthal's insane anti-drug screeds on its editorial pages. Folks, that's not liberal. Everyone gives at least lip-service to free speech, and a majority of Americans would prefer life without parole as an alternative to the death penalty. Something like 82% of Americans oppose an overall ban on abortion (but the NYT still treats it as "controversial"). 80% of America or more supports Social Security, universal healthcare, and the basic concept that the government should collect taxes only to serve the people. And so on, and so on. Most of mainstream America is, in fact, to the left of The New York Times on most issues.

I'll go read the rest and see if I have more to say about it, but in the meantime, go read what Atrios has to say about it.

16:25 BST

Tuesday, 01 May 2007

More. Coffee.

Would someone please tell me what's supposed to be so great about Bill Richardson? Oh, and Bill? 1973. Jerk.

Hugo Chavez decides his country's oil belongs to his country, pulls out of World Bank. Page 37 News says, "Prepare Yourself For Propaganda."

The wingnuts are all talking about a story in The Sunday Times by Sarah Baxter, "Watergate reporter demolishes Hillary's career story". Seems Carl Bernstein is rid of his writer's block and wants to tell the world that Hillary's version may not jibe with history.

Interesting little round-up from Steve Soto on stumbling blocks and other items in the campaigns of the presidential candidates.

Chuck Dupree: "In fact, a case can be made that the Bush family values loyalty above competence precisely because much of the wealth created when they're in office arises from illegal acts, from wars to the looting of the S&Ls and the theft of Iraqi oil and cash by American companies. It's not simply that George W. Bush is a thief; it's that his family has been a bunch of thieves for at least three generations. The difference is that Shrub believes his thievery is the will of God." Also, Jerome on Flight-suit boy and other dicks.

Dennis Hastert, drug warrior. Also, Three presidential candidates oppose War on Some Drugs. Unfortunately, they're not really likely to be nominated by their respective parties.

Hm, don't you wonder what kind of colorful metaphor The Rude Pundit will employ in commemoration of this fourth anniversary? (Also: New Orleans is well and truly buggered, and the middle-class is leaving.)

Haircut! Really, you should send this to every media creature you can think of. Who knows, maybe they'll become embarrassed to mention Democratic haircuts again.

23:57 BST

Happy May Day

Brad Plumer on Nuclear Mania: "On the other hand, this is all fairly irrelevant to the energy debate in Congress. A certain number of Republicans are going to demand subsidies for nuclear no matter what (all the while scolding environmentalists for being so fanatical about the subject)."

Only Muslims Commit Terrorism

Here's Murray Waas' "Secret Order By Gonzales Delegated Extraordinary Powers To Aides", making blogospheric headlines everywhere.

82 Inmates Cleared but Still Held at Guantanamo: "The holdup is a mystery to me, frankly," said Katznelson, senior counsel for Reprieve, a British legal defense fund. "If the U.S. has cleared these people and they want to go back, I don't understand why they can't just put them on a plane."

The United State of Sanctimony (with pictures!)

Max gets spam.

Frugal For Life celebrates May Day. (via)

Of course, if you don't want to celebrate May Day, you could always celebrate, um, Law Day.

21:21 BST


You know, I've finally had a chance to watch the interview with George Tenet, and it's really kind of stunning. I can't help the feeling that Tenet is still covering for Bush, although he's not trying to cover for Cheney. His repeated insistence that "We don't torture people" is pretty disgusting - he seems to think that by calling it "enhanced interrogation techniques" he can absolve himself morally. I wasn't terribly impressed by his excuse that he was wetting his pants, either. But there's too much Tenet says in the interview that can't be true - for example, how could the agency not know that they had no actual evidence that Saddam had new chemical and biological weapons? (Old ones would have been past their sell-by date.) It makes no sense. Scott Pelley asks some good questions, and Tenet really doesn't answer them in any meaningful way. We do know that some agents at both CIA and FBI did find real leads prior to 9/11 and that they were actively prevented from investigating or from passing information upward - and that the people who got in the way of communication were the ones who were promoted, while the diligent agents who tried to inform others were forced out or demoted. We know that political appointees and even the White House itself was making clear that there was some information they simply did not want to hear. And I think Tenet knows perfectly well that it's not simply that, "We're human, we made mistakes." It's that there were people at the top who either didn't care or who wanted those mistakes to happen. But they had no excuse.

And I refresh the page and see that Ray McGovern thinks much the same - and also thinks Dick Cheney is responsible for the Niger forgeries. Of course, this has been the suspicion many of us have had all along. (And if this were a TV show, McGovern would have been dead by morning after saying that he had some evidence but "I'm not willing to share it here and now.")

18:10 BST

Media and other stories

Three stories via the Make Them Accountable media trawl:

This is rich - Inhofe now claims that the media made up the idea that WMD were why we invaded Iraq. He was apparently not pressed for an explanation of why we did invade Iraq.

With the addition of conservative suck-up Mark Halperin to its stable, Time magazine has once again earned a slam from Eric Alterman with "Time Is on Their Side" in The Nation: "Time's lineup of columnists betrays its readers and distorts the public discourse in a Limbaugh-like direction. It also proves a larger point: That America's most influential magazine can carry this imbalance so long without anyone paying attention--and can win the industry's most coveted award while doing so--ought to put to rest any arguments that the media elite are part of some liberal conspiracy. Indeed, media machers have grown so accustomed to conservative domination, they no longer notice it." (Apparently there's some sort of insider catfight going on around Alterman's criticisms of Time, too.)

"Google says Viacom lawsuit threat to Internet use: MOUNTAIN VIEW, California (Reuters) - Viacom Inc.'s copyright infringement suit against Google Inc. and its YouTube video-sharing unit strikes at the heart of how the Internet works, Google argued on Monday in a U.S. federal court filing. ... "By seeking to make carriers and hosting providers liable for Internet communications, Viacom's complaint threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment and political and artistic expression," Google said in answer to Viacom's March 13 suit."


Jessica Valenti of Feministing has a book out, Full Frontal Feminism, and Bill Scher has interviewed her at LiberalOasis.

Via Kevin Drum, Phil Longman's review of Jon Cohn's book Sick, about how messed up American healthcare is.

Steve Clemons asks, "What's up with Andrew Young's Groveling for Wolfowitz?" Man, that guy sure did prove to be a disappointment.

Four years after "Mission Accomplished"

16:40 BST

Bucking the empire

"18 Missing Inches in New Orleans: The charges were so devastating - the White House's withholding from the state police the information that the city was about to flood - that from almost any source, I simply would have dismissed it. But this was not just any source. The whistleblower was Dr. Ivor van Heerden, deputy chief of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Studies Center, and the chief technician advising the state on saving lives during Katrina." The White House promised buses and other help that it then deliberately diverted or simply withheld from the city, and after many had drowned, it then dragged survivors away - sometimes against their will - to what turned out to be virtual prison camps. We aren't supposed to know about them, so when Greg Palast and his crew went for a look, they became the targets of an anti-terrorist operation. "The positive side for me as a reporter was that I got to see Bush's terror-trackers in action. I should note that it took the Maxwell Smarts at Homeland Security a full two weeks to hunt us down. And we're on television." No wonder they can't find Osama.

First Dennis Kucinich introduces articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney - but, despite the fact that Cheney's criminality is manifest, the press doesn't seem interested, and the neocon's Newspaper of Record, The Washington Post, let clown typist Dana Milbank treat Kucinich like a bit of a loony out there on his own. But Jack Murtha said the I-Word Sunday on Face the Nation, which amps things up a little. He was speaking not merely of Cheney, but of Bush. After Downing Street says: "Murtha may have cleared his comments with Speaker Nancy Pelosi before his appearance, which would indicate that impeachment is back "on the table" where it belongs. But Murtha is going to get a lot of heat for speaking truth to power, and his staff will be inclined to back off. Murtha needs to hear our support and encouragement immediately. Call Jack Murtha to thank him and ask him to sign onto Dennis Kucinich's bill to begin impeachment proceedings against Vice President Cheney: (202) 225-2065."

13:12 BST

Can't leave you guys alone for a minute!

Well, I certainly had fun catching up with Crooks and Liars:

Kevin Drum says some new polls are showing it looks good for Edwards. And via Kevin (here), Ana Marie Cox says the press is in don't-get-fooled-again mode over McCain.

Did everyone notice that Frank Rich mentioned in his column this week (free here) that he mentioned that The New York Times will be boycotting the White House Press Dinner from now on? It really is about time. More on that here.

Jurassicpork on The Deadliest Sin finds a very fine anagram, and Paul Krugman's "Another Economic Disconnect" is posted, along with Bob Herbert, Working the Truth Beat. Oh, and check this out, too.

I'm sorry I missed Mike Gravel getting his Howard Beale on.

I don't think Kurtz realizes that it's precisely those who did not question Bush's war who were of questionable patriotism.

03:01 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, May 2007

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