The Sideshow

Archive for May 2006

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Wednesday, 31 May 2006

Buncha links

Born Again comedian Al Gore is interviewed by the Guardian, who liked the result so much they ran an extra article about it. (Thanks to Charles* (of) for the tip. You're right, Charles, the fact that he's telling money people to spend the money elsewhere if they choose doesn't look good for a Gore candidacy, but certainly provides one more big reason to be extremely sorry Hillary is making a run for the job.)

The Republicans hate our troops so much that they are complaining to say that it dishonors the flag to lower it to half-mast when one of them is killed in Vietnam Iraq or Afghanistan. (Thanks to BEB for the tip.)

Lindsay Beyerstein (Majikthise) has lots of photos up of post-Katrina New Orleans. (PS. Ann Coulter, eat your heart out.)

By the way, if you're trying to understand the re-election of New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin, you might get some help from Your Right Hand Thief, who says it was all part of the GOP strategy.

I see that Bush's new domestic policy advisor is another Coulter-like ill-wisher who wants to see journalists blown up. And, also, George Bush wants to raise my taxes. (Isn't it a lucky thing that being a civil libertarian doesn't make enough money for it to matter?)

When Faithful Progressive met Avedon (and Patrick and Eileen and John).

Billy Shaw has a suggestion for how you can Act Blue in Rhode Island by supporting Carl Sheeler.

Press the News

Apikoros dropped a link for more cool cloud pix in comments.

17:04 BST

Macular Hole Award

Everyone's gotta have an award for true fruitiness. Andrew Sullivan, for example, has the "Moore Award", which in and of itself deserves an award for skewed vision. Since I had an actual macular hole, which was corrected to the extent that it can be but has still left a bit of distortion in my right eye, I'm particularly well-placed to give out a Macular Hole Award, so I've invented one.

Now, Atrios has already created a new award for the same thing I'm about to cite, which is Sullivan giving Atrios a Moore Award for the very thing I was going to post as a stand-alone quote as soon as I recovered enough to post something. I was going to quote it because it's one of those painfully true things that is so obviously the case that you shouldn't have to say it at all, but in the midst of so much smoke and fog it becomes necessary to say. Atrios said this:

The willingness to send others off to die for a misguided war because you wet your pants after 9/11 is called "cowardice" not courage.
One would think it would be hard, even for Andrew Sullivan, to find fault with such a statement. And there is something even more wonderfully fruity about the fact that Sullivan's award is named after someone else who said something true and drove all the true fruitcakes crazy with fake hilarity over the alleged wrongness of recognizing that (1) 9/11 happened because of, at best, utter incompetence in the White House, and (2) invading Iraq made no sense as a response to 9/11 and was, in fact, utterly counterproductive to reducing terrorism.

I believe Atrios does, in fact, deserve an award - indeed, hundreds of them - for his ability to state the obvious in the face of insanity, and perhaps especially for the concise beauty of the aforementioned statement (despite the missing comma). In a sane world, that might aptly be called "The Michael Moore Award".

Alas, Michael Moore is Fat,* but since he's not as fat as Sullivan's head*, I honor Andrew Sullivan with the first Macular Hole Award, for truly twisted perception.

11:59 BST

Tuesday, 30 May 2006

Happy landings

Simone Perele Argentina underwired BraBra of the Week

Well, let's just say that it wasn't any easier getting home from Madison than it was getting there, and it was dinner time before I got back to scenic East London, even though I'd been scheduled to land at seven in the morning. Do I have my luggage? Do I hell.

Anyway, in my absence, Mr. Sideshow finally posted the pictures of The Elephant that he took with his Palm. (If all this is news to you, recall that Patrick posted about this earlier, with a link to pix by Pat Cadigan, among others, and later a video someone shot.)

Kip left a link in comments to some rather impressive cloudscapes, too, and I hope they will amuse you for a bit while I try to recover from the trauma.

(But hey, I want you to know how utterly chuffed I was about people at the con who told me how much they enjoy The Sideshow - especially when they included some favorite authors.)

20:37 BST

Monday, 29 May 2006

Wishin' and hopin'

I didn't get to read the Nagourney article until this morning. It's probably best never to read anything by Adam Nagourney without seeing what a smart blogger has to say about it first. But, having done that, it's gratifying to see what Al Gore had to tell Nagourney about political reporting - that is, what rubbish it is.

Gore wants everyone to have to pay attention to global warning. He knows well enough that there's one good way to be in a position to make that happen:

It is not that Mr. Gore does not want to be president, as several of his friends said. When asked whether he thought he would have more influence fighting global warming in the White House or making movies, he responded instantly.

"I am under no illusions," he said. "There's no position anywhere equal to the president of the United States in terms of one's ability to influence policy."

Yet Mr. Gore has told friends that as much as he wants to be president, his pride, image and legacy - think the defining first clause in his eventual biography - could not absorb another race in which he lost again, or really lost. What that means is that Mr. Gore would only run, his associates said, if he was absolutely confident that he could win.

Mr. Gore is nothing if not a realist, not lured by this interlude in which he is more Democratic hero than goat, his friends said.

The trouble is that the Democratic field, at the moment, seems to be full of people who want to be president while harboring many illusions about how important they are - and holding, as far as we can tell, no real vision for anything at all.

Okay, a lot of them seem to want things not to be as creepy as they are right now, which is certainly an important enough goal. But Gore is the only one who doesn't seem to simply want to go back to eight years ago, but actually wants to do more than that. He wants, after all, to save the world.

And, though I think I like Russ Feingold quite a lot, I'm worried that most of the contenders don't even realize that there's any world-saving to do.

But this article, at any rate, confirms my feeling that Gore wants the wind at his back before he could seriously consider a run, and right now he's not really feeling it. That could change, but I know exactly where his reservations are coming from. Yet, I can't help the feeling that our future may depend on that wind picking up.

19:52 BST

Sunday, 28 May 2006

Stupidity doesn't take a holiday

Connectivity here has been a bit iffy, but we do what we can. And, admittedly, this is a great convention and I confess I've been a bit distracted from the interwebs.

However, I have to say this: Who told Chuck Schumer to run around the country screwing up local races? I mean, say you have a DFL candidate in Minnesota who is polling neck-in-neck with the sole Republican candidate - so why does Schumer breeze in and announce that someone else altogether is going to be the Democratic candidate? Seems a bit out of order to me. Sure would be nice if Democratic Senators from New York would busy themselves by doing their jobs as Senators from New York.

Maha says Yearly Kos is going to have the pleasure of Matt Bai's presence. He's already said a lot of moronic things, in his usual genial "I can't see what's in front of my face" kind of way. Regular readers of The Sideshow may recall that this tendency on Bai's part has been a matter of fascination to us for quite a while.

The media's fascination with the exciting sex life of The Tubesteak Messiah continues to interest many of us - Digby understands that continuing to play by Clinton Rules has broader ramifications for the Democratic Party as a whole, and indeed our entire political discourse. (Even Geov Parrish felt a need to leap to Hillary's defense on this one.) No one yet seems to know what the NYT's excuse for making this a front-page headline (or a story at all) is supposed to be - it's hardly as if it was breaking news. But everything is fair game when it comes to attacking Democrats and, of course, the Clintons.

Meanwhile, Chris Bowers has something important to say about how Americans' sense of tribal identity may be a great and too-much overlooked factor in our election drama; Digby chimes in with agreement.

15:18 BST

Saturday, 27 May 2006

Don't look now...

The Talking Dog continues its series of interviews with lawyers for Guantanamo "detainees" with Thomas Wilner, who is defending a group of Kuwaitis who were all turned in for bounties and were never known to have been combatants of any kind. I hadn't had a chance to post this when Patrick called my attention to this post by Jim Henley that picks up on how we're using anti-semitism to drive a wedge between these victims and their attorneys:

The Talking Dog: I understand that in some cases, it has been alleged that detainees have been encouraged not to cooperate with their own attorneys, in particular when their attorneys are Jewish. Can you comment on this?

Thomas Wilner: That issue came up with me. Interestingly, it didn't get that much play. But my clients were told by interrogators not to trust their lawyer `because he's a Jew' ". An interrogator told him `why would you trust him- he's a Jew from a large Jewish law firm- that represents the State of Israel-'

The Talking Dog: Hey, you just picked up another client!

Thomas Wilner: Anyway, this was printed by Nick Lewis in the Times. "Don't trust him, he's a Jew," but it didn't seem to get that much traction. But one of my clients, Fayez al Kandari, told a female interrogator, code named `Megan' `I don't care who or what he is- there are good people in every religion.' That was his answer, from the depths of Guantanamo.

So, just in case you wanted to know who the Jew-hating, freedom-hating bastards were.

14:30 BST

Friday, 26 May 2006

Picture this

If this is the face Bush wears when he is supposedly 'fessing up to the error of his ways, it's unsurprising that even his loyal minions look like this while he does it.

I wanted to post a link to the Jeff Parker editorial cartoon that I found in my copy of USA Today this morning called "Stars & Stripes Forever", but I couldn't find it online. Since I don't have my scanner here, I can't post it myself, and I'd be grateful if someone else would find it (or post it). I think it's a very good cartoon, but Patrick maintains that it is merely okay. (John Scalzi did not pick a side.)

Trifid of the North

15:41 BST

Thursday, 25 May 2006

Headline news

So, Skilling and Lay were finally declared Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! - and the WaPo has it as their top headline, showing they have caught up at least with Skimble, where it's been important news all along, maybe because of this.

(Skimble has other important news, too: A student at Pillsbury Baptist Bible College was charged in the theft of his roommate's debit card, which was used to pay for more than $2,300 worth of calls to phone sex lines.)

Not that there aren't plenty of other interesting headlines around - but not on the WaPo front page, apparently (she said, and then remembered that she never saw yesterday's front pages, but you'll alert me, right?). Like, what is this thing with the Congressional Republicans suddenly caring about a runaway executive? My very smart commenters noted the other day:

What's left unsaid is that there was a proper way to do this: go to the Capitol Police and ask them to do the search. Notify the senior members of Congress that it's being done. Arrange for independent witnesses to make sure that the search is on the up-and-up, that they aren't simply rifling files for whatever might be of political advantage.

Congressmen do have special immunities under the Constitution. To see the Executive trample them this way just shows that this is now monarchy. [Charles]

Additional bonus-- hit the one democrat without warning, and in the act tip off the republicans that they need to start doing some shreddin'. [the exile]
Patrick is asking related questions.

Maybe the fact that Hastert is going under the microscope now has something to do with it all.

The big headline of interest to the liberal net-o-sphere has to be passage of the net neutrality bill out of committee - an encouraging development, though not a decisive one. People don't always vote on the floor the way they did in committee, remember - and it's easy to vote things through committee when you know they'll get voted down on the floor. So make sure your reps know (no matter who they are) that you want this thing to pass.

21:22 BST

This is the worst trip I've ever been on

I'm happy to be here, at what I expect to be a damn fine convention, but blimey it took some getting here. I hate O'Hare airport in the best of times but it's amazing how no matter how I plan this trip, I always end up arriving in Chicago with too short a lead to get to the gate for Madison, rush like crazy, sure I've missed the plane, then discover it's been delayed, delayed, etc., and ... argh! Trapped at the gate with forever to wait. (Last time there wasn't even access to water. This time, at least, there was food.)

But, really, if they were going to cancel our flight and then offer to route us through St. Louis at six o'clock the next morning (and no hotel for the layover!), they might as well have put us on the bus so we could have been here a lot earlier. As it was, I reckon I spent a cool 24 hours just travelling, and my body really hates me for not having been horizontal at all during it.

No, of course we don't have our bags! What are you thinking?

[Bil: It's bloody Thatcher!]

So I went over to Eschaton to see what's been going on while I'm separated from the real world, and ... argh!

Excuse me, I gotta check my mail.

15:00 BST

Wednesday, 24 May 2006

Spin, spin, spin

I've always found it baffling that the right wing is so averse to the idea of investing in alternative energy. It is, after all, an area of entrepreneurship as well as invention - exactly the kind of thing that stimulates economies. Yes, I get that the oil companies want fuel to be as expensive as they can make it - and therefore want to suppress competition - but unless you as an individual are wedded to that goal alone, what on earth would make you think there is harm in, say, having a solar collector on your roof, or finding a cheaper fuel for your car? And even if you don't believe in global warming, can it hurt to have environmentally neutral energy sources? Apparently, Fox News is worried that even ardent right-wingers, failing to put the oil industry's bottom line first in their thinking, might also conclude that even if global warming is a hoax, developing renewable energy sources is not a problem. So now they are on the attack against not just Al Gore, but on the actual content of An Inconvenient Truth. On the heels of Drudge's false claim that Gore's entourage "took five cars to travel 500 yards" to the screening at Cannes (they didn't; they walked), Fox has not only compared Gore with Joseph Goebbels, but actually claimed that if Gore's ideas ("the DiGore Code") are taken seriously, it will "ice the economy."

In other spin news at Think Progress, Richard Viguerie gets the White House treatment after criticizing Bush, and the push to keep White House lies about the war circulating is never slowed by the truth.

Feel free to add more exciting spin links in comments.

09:10 BST

Tuesday, 23 May 2006

Blog stuff

The NYT has an astonishing article this morning all about the love-life of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Atrios provides the companion piece about Republicans' marriages that the NYT did not run. Digby is pretty clear on what this is about, though a little surprised that this, and two libelous claims by Drudge about Howard Dean and Al Gore, appeared on the same day.

Bush Raised Taxes on Teenagers by $2.2 Billion: So much for the President who never met a tax he didn't want to cut. According to David Cay Johnston of The New York Times, tucked into the tax cut legislation recently signed into law by George W. Bush this past week was a major tax increase for American teenagers saving for college.

All Necessary Measures - They said it was only temporary....

I guess Peter Daou didn't have enough to write, so he's started a regular Blogspot blog, too, The Grit.

22:01 BST

American landscape

Shades of the '60s: MahaBarb notes a current blogstorm on the right-wing side of the blogosphere over an anti-war video that may be of questionable provenance - and using it to smear the entire Veterans' anti-war movement.

Two articles posted at True Blue Liberal add more to the evidence of our growing police state, "The Snooping Goes Beyond Phone Calls" from Business Week and "No-Knock Nonsense" from the San Francisco Chronicle. ("If President Bush can authorize a warrantless spy program on American citizens, perhaps it should come as no surprise that the U.S. Supreme Court has now given law enforcement the authority to enter homes without a warrant, or even knocking beforehand.") Meanwhile, Molly Ivins says, "Yes, I Am Actually Calling Them Racist." Well, why not, when they have the endorsement of the KKK?

Jack Heneghan has been reading all those articles about how companies reward executives that soak them and wreck them, and has suggested a possible approach to turn this trend around.

TalkLeft says Wired has posted the sealed AT&T documents, which AT&T says are proprietary and can't stand the light of day, or something like that.

Thanks to hmmm in comments for bringing this article on Reagan's failed immigration amnesty scheme to my attention.

So, do you think Jason Leopold was wrong, or do you think this is another Rove maneuver? (via)

I've probably walked past this historical mystery a half-dozen times without seeing it. Suddenly, there's something interesting on Cannon Street.

"I have ridden the mighty Moon Worm!" (You gotta read the whole thread.)

Man, I listened to that radio thing, and it was awful.

15:52 BST

Unusual circumstances

This should really be a matter for close study to anyone who remembers how hard the Justice Department has tried to avoid investigating the illegal GOP activities - particularly the fact that our present Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, has been so personally involved in delaying and impeding such investigations, and was instrumental in making sure that everyone in the White House had a heads-up before having material taken for scrutiny so that they could have the whole night to get rid of any incriminating evidence.

There are actually two different stories in "For Democrats, a Scandal of Their Own" in the NYT this morning, but it presents itself as just one: the tale of how a single Democrat's alleged law-breaking is being seen as "balance" to the entire pattern of GOP corruption. But five paragraphs in, there is this:

For all the intense partisanship that has surrounded the wave of legal and ethical cases on Capitol Hill, the Jefferson case brought some Democrats and Republicans together on one point: that the all-night search conducted by the F.B.I. raised questions about whether the executive branch had violated the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers by carrying out a raid on the official office of a member of Congress.

Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the majority leader, said Monday that he had concerns about the constitutionality of the search and was seeking a legal opinion. Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader in the House, said that "Justice Department investigations must be conducted in accordance with constitutional protections and historical precedent." Some House Republicans said they were also disturbed by the way the search was handled.

"I think it is really outrageous," said Representative David Dreier, the California Republican who is chairman of the Rules Committee.

And, further into the story (page two of the online version), this:
Mr. Jefferson also called the search, evidently the first ever executed at an official Congressional office, an intrusion into the separation of powers. But Ms. Pelosi suggested the lawmaker bore some responsibility.

"Members of Congress must obey the law and cooperate fully with any criminal investigation," Ms. Pelosi said in a statement. "If they don't, they will be held accountable."

Late Monday evening, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert issued a statement highly critical of the search.

"Insofar as I am aware, since the founding of our Republic 219 years ago, the Justice Department has never found it necessary to do what it did Saturday night, crossing this separation of powers line, in order to successfully prosecute corruption by members of Congress," Mr. Hastert said, promising to seek a means to restore "the delicate balance of power."

Donald Ritchie, a historian with the Senate, said his office could find no record of a similar search, though the homes and business offices of lawmakers had been searched in the past.

At an unrelated news conference, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales called the search "unusual steps that were taken in response to an unusual set of circumstances; I'll just say that."

In their affidavit, federal prosecutors said they had adopted special procedures in the raid to minimize the likelihood that any politically sensitive materials unrelated to the inquiry would be seized in paper form or from office computers.

The idea that someone might destroy evidence is not, of course, "an unusual set of circumstances," which is why Democrats complained when the White House was given a 12-hour warning so they could do that very thing.

But it seems rather obvious that the real special circumstance was that the public is beginning to wake up to what really is a Republican scandal - a pattern of corruption that bears all of the marks of a party-wide criminal conspiracy.

So what better way to make the Jefferson investigation sufficiently headline-grabbing than this unprecedented raid on his Congressional office?

And how are we to interpret the fact that, with all of the much more significant violations of Constitution and custom that the Republicans have managed to overlook from this administration and its agents, Mr. Hastert and his cronies have suddenly begun to worry that maybe the Executive Branch is out of line? Do you think they might be cleaning out their own offices any time soon?

12:54 BST

Monday, 22 May 2006

A little bit of soap

Need someone to help explain the whole NSA/FISA business so that even a Republican can understand it? Ask an expert - Kung Fu Monkey.

Susie found this at Political Wire: Roll Call identifies the ten most vulnerable incumbents in a special Election Preview section. What a difference six months makes. The last time we put together this list, we believed that four Democrats were among the 10 most vulnerable House incumbents in the nation. Todays list finds no Democrats among the most threatened. Not a one. Zero. Nada. Can you feel those breezes blowing?

I understand, now - the Republicans can't talk about "amnesty" because it means "Jimmy Carter".

22:51 BST


I'm supposed to be one of the talking heads in a radio documentary on BBC1 tonight on Lamacq Live called "What's Wrong With Porn?" They reckon it will air some time around the 11:00 hour here (and you can listen online to their live stream or later).

I hope you make it to WisCon 30. (Yeah, I know, I probably should have mentioned that earlier.)

16:21 BST

First cup of coffee

PZ Meyers has fun dismantling the arguments of a reconstructionist Rabbi against Slavoj Zizek's NYT article defending atheism. Meyers is, by my lights, too kind, especially when confronting the Rabbi's fantasy that atheists are more prone to violent criminality, such as rape. PZ uses a statistic that is almost impossible to verify, but, personally, I'm more interested in the strong history most rapists have of strict religious backgrounds. We're not talking claims to have read the Bible or assertions to parole boards, we're talking about real, personal histories, and what we know is that there's nothing like having religious loonies for parents to encourage sick behavior regarding sex. Their attitudes toward pornography, abortion, and birth control go hand in hand with a propensity to inflict violence on those who are so "evil" as to arouse the sexual interest of the devout religious fruitcake.

Atrios notes that the Dixie Chicks' mainstream views are labelled as "radical" on the cover of Time. In case you're interested, their popular "I'm Not Ready to Make Nice" is getting a lot of airplay on BBC Radio2, as well.

Equal Protection Clause - It would be nice if we could expect this from our legislators.

True Blue Liberal, as always, has plenty of great articles up, including: Seymour Hersh's "Listening In" from The New Yorker, in which he suggests that the whole NSA program, far from being an effective means of improving our intelligence, is just a grab for a quick fix; William Rees-Mogg in The Times on the "Decline and Fall in the US"; Allan Uthman's "Top Ten Signs of the Impending U.S. Police State"; and Paul Krugman on why the "centrism" of "Talk-Show Joe" isn't working for him. ("Mr. Lieberman's defenders would have you believe that his increasingly unpopular positions reflect his principles. But his Bushlike inability to face reality on Iraq looks less like a stand on principle than the behavior of a narcissist who can't admit error. And the common theme in Mr. Lieberman's positions seems to be this: In each case he has taken the stand that is most likely to get him on TV.")

High-tech fashion.

14:04 BST

Small screen fun time

Fantasie Bridgette underwired balcony braBra of the Week

Video of the debate between Eric Alterman and Tucker Carlson on bias in media. I found it mostly frustrating to watch and I wanted to smack them both. Eric writes a lot of good things about media but I'm very tired of people claiming the vapidity of the corporate news media is all about what sells. In fact, the media spends enormous amounts of time covering things that people would not be interested in if they just saw it briefly noted (the way it used to be). They become interested in it not because it is intrinsically interesting, but because it has become a media circus. It's the circus that makes it news - the knowledge that everyone you know will probably have heard about it; it has become a common subject. At the same time, there are a number of fascinating news items available on a continuous basis that get virtually no coverage. People would be interested in those subjects if they even knew this stuff was going on, but they never hear about it.

Down to the Wire - Mark at Biomes Blog uploaded this neat little movie about a big metal bird.

Tango - Clear on Transbuddha - taking off on the Sony Bravia ad in a fruity way. I still won't drink the stuff, but I like the ad. (via)

"Layla" performed live by Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Mark Knopfler, The Rolling Stones (no Mick), Kenny Jones, Steve Winwood, and Ray Cooper.

03:22 BST

Sunday, 21 May 2006


While I was out talking about censorship, the folks at The Left Coaster were talking about religion in America. Mary discusses the treasonous attack on America by Dominionists, and pessimist wonders how we can tell Christianists from the Christians.

Eric Alterman notes that the media is apparently afraid to cover the story of a serious threat to our nation - and that's something to really be afraid of.

Glenn Greenwald seems to have some whiplash after watching the White House and other conservative fruitbats in action this week.

The other day my clock radio woke me up with A SHOCK! HORROR! story about a sex-slave-cult. Even half-asleep, I had a feeling something was missing from the story. And then I realized what it was really about and laughed so hard it woke me all the way up.

Lobbyology - with color!

23:33 BST

Don't ask for my help to bomb Muslim women

Last time around I objected sketchily to the idea that somehow we would be improving the lives of Iraqi women by invading their country and overthrowing their secular government, and I expressed my lack of faith that the right-wingers who were so suddenly pretending concern for women's rights actually gave a damn whether these women ended up being reduced to slavery.

It occurs to me now that perhaps I did not make this point strongly enough and that even in the case of Iran, the case must still be made that dropping bombs on these women is unlikely to improve their lot, and the nasty little dog-droppings who are advocating such bombs while simultaneously doing everything they can to help eliminate the rights of women in the United States have neither the intention nor the will to liberate Muslim women from the chador. (And let's not pretend the burqa has disappeared from Afghanistan, either.)

So I'd like to take this opportunity to join with SusanG in stating what should be obvious:

We have always deplored the treatment of women in those parts of the world where Sharia law is practiced, and we continue to do so.

We deplored it when it was unpopular to do so. We did it when the Dick Cheneys of the world were telling us to be "realistic", and we never stopped.

We also can't help but notice that these right-wing "champions" of women's rights all lost interest in liberating the women of Afghanistan long before their freedom had come close to being secured, and went on to de-liberate the women of Iraq.

So, do the women of Iran a favor and stay out of there. War is never likely to improve woman's lot - it just unleashes further barbarism upon them.

Leave the people of Iran alone, so that someday they may seize their own freedoms - which is, after all, the way it is done.

00:58 BST

Saturday, 20 May 2006

Values and votes

It's just one of those weird weeks when George F. Will makes more sense than Michael Kinsley. No, really. Because while Will is writing about the fact that we're all values voters and there is something creepy about the way the social conservatives have hijacked claim to "values", Kinsley is writing about how "journalists" - and with this he seems to include himself - are in love with the "fresh air" of John McCain. That's Senator McCain the walking mirror, who has the amazing capacity to be seen yet unseen, to confuse observers to the point where some liberals still don't get that he's a right-winger, and conservative bloggers call him "liberal". Well, they call almost anyone liberal these days, unless they are so far out on the right-wing fringe that in mere moments they will be captured by Jupiter's gravity. Some people know better.

At any rate, the conventional wisdom says it will be McCain versus Hillary in '08, but not everyone agrees. Personally, I'm not sure America will be so forgiving of Newt Gingrich as he seems to expect - I'm not even sure the Republicans will.

And as to Hillary, well, Arianna is right on the money when she suggests that Hillary has succumbed to The Fear - and is already busy kowtowing to "the center" (i.e., the right-wing). You have to admit, saying that kids today think "work" is a four-letter word (well, it is) was pretty stupid. Ah, yes, first we alienate the young, then we'll be all set! (And that "four-letter word" thing doesn't work anyway, you nitwit - think about the other one that ends with "k", and tell me young people don't want to do it.)

But Arianna, returning from a movie premiere, also has it in mind that the person showing leadership and passion these days is - well, you know who:

Whether Al Gore ends up running in 2008 or not, he is modeling the way our public figures, and especially our would-be presidents, should be operating -- from the heart and true to themselves. Standing for something more important than just winning, and more powerful than the fear of losing.
And Ana Marie Cox, who also went to the premier of An Inconvenient Truth, says Al Gore is a rock star.

Meanwhile, Lewis Black wants to have a word with you about religion, and I want you to see the hot new trailer for 10 Things I Hate About Commandments. (Thanks to Dominic (of) for that last one.)

18:19 BST

Funhouse mirror

You know, I saw a story the other day and didn't have time to do anything with it, and by the next day I thought I must have dreamed it, but I didn't. Fortunately, Digby also saw it, and reminded me. At Alternet, "The 9/11 Story That Got Away", by Rory O'Connor and William Scott Malone: In 2001, an anonymous White House source leaked top-secret NSA intelligence to reporter Judith Miller that Al Qaida was planning a major attack on the United States. But the story never made it into the paper. Just kinda makes me want to bang my head on the desk or something, y'know? But, gee, it looks like everyone knew about the impending attack except, if she is to be believed, Bush's National Security Advisor.

Kathy Flake, another American in London, notes the recent news that they don't like us anymore. I warned you about this: As long as they knew Bush stole the election in 2000, they figured we weren't responsible for what he was doing, that it was an aberration we would fix come 2004. So they waited before they did anything. But the Dems didn't scream loudly enough about how the 2004 election returns were in doubt, about how the "results" didn't match the exit polls, about the numerous "errors" all over the country (and especially Ohio), and now they think it's not just him, it's us. And, you may have noticed, they are acting accordingly. Aside from Blair, I don't think there's anything much left of the coalition of "willing", and an awful lot of countries seem to be losing interest in the dollar. Things could get, y'know, bad.

Like me, Dwight Meredith reacted with some dismay to George Bush's marvellous idea of requiring immigrants to have a tamper-proof identity card in order to get a job. People who don't question this idea are probably (a) assuming that all immigrants are really, really obviously from the US, and (b) assuming no one would ever mistake them for one. Well, speak for yourself, white man, but the other day (for the first time in my life), someone asked me if I was Mexican. (People usually ask me if I'm Jewish, or Greek, or Italian, or Gypsy.) Admittedly, it was someone who had probably never been to America in her life, but still.... (And that's just leaving aside the whole question of how reliable "tamper-proof" identity cards really are. Honestly, if you think this is a good idea, you are a putz.)

For those of you who don't watch Jonathan Ross, here's the clip of Kiefer Sutherland's altercation with a Christmas Tree. (via)

12:58 BST

A few notes

Gideon (of) passes on the link to that Thomas Friedman article online, so here's a quote: President Bush has slipped in one recent poll to a 29 percent approval rating. Frankly, I can't believe that. Those polls can't possibly be accurate. I mean, really, ask yourself: How could there still be 29 percent of the people who approve of this presidency?

Taylor Marsh is trying to track down the truth of the Iranian badge story.

Boy, that guy "the Left" sure is a lot of trouble.

Mike Malloy just played the clips of CNN's Jamie McIntyre on 9/11 and after seeing the newly-released footage from the Pentagon on that day. In the new clip, he talks about how he was there and he f'sure saw the evidence of a plane having hit the Pentagon. But that's not what he said on the day.

Here's a couple of pictures I took of the lobby of the Lloyd's building at the Temple, without the flash, and with it.

04:32 BST

Friday, 19 May 2006

The other paper

Sometimes the NYT just gives me whiplash, leaping as they do from being right on the money to, well, having a Dickhead Day. Here we need a neck-brace just to read one article:

Lieberman's Support for War Leaves Him Embattled on Left
As if only "the left" is unwilling to support the war these days - and as if his position on the war is the sole reason activist Democrats are sick of Lieberman.
"George Bush's favorite Democrat," they call him. "Republican Lite," they sneer. But liberals are no longer just venting on Internet blogs and talk radio programs about their centrist nemesis: Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut.
"Centrist". What does this word mean?
Now, from across the nation, a determined alliance of antiwar activists is working overtime online and on doorsteps to defeat Mr. Lieberman, whose political moderation helped him earn the Democratic nomination for vice president six years ago. Their goal is not only to punish Mr. Lieberman for staunchly supporting the war in Iraq but also to protest what the activists consider the Democratic Party's willingness to accommodate President Bush.
His "political moderation helped him earn the Democratic nomination for vice president"? I don't think so. Only one guy nominated Lieberman, and that was Al Gore. Even then, quite a few Democrats would have been much happier with someone else, but he was Gore's choice. Today, there are still people who would have more enthusiasm about Gore if he'd admit that choosing Lieberman was a mistake.

Predictably, this article is full of the usual establishment Dems whining about how Ned Lamont's challenge is sucking up money that would be better spent on approved Democratic candidates. But, eventually, it does get down to talking about that Nedmentum we're all enjoying. (via)

And then we get the article about how Senators are just complaining about the NSA program because they're jealous about being sidelined on consultation:

Senators Left Out of Loop Make Their Pique Known
You know, because oversight is just such a petty concern. Think Progress has more.

But there's one thing in the Times we can rely on, thank goodness, and we can even go to True Blue Liberal to read it: Paul Krugman, "Coming Down to Earth:

As I summarized it awhile back, we became a nation in which people make a living by selling one another houses, and they pay for the houses with money borrowed from China.

Now that game seems to be coming to an end. We're going to have to find other ways to make a living - in particular, we're going to have to start selling goods and services, not just I.O.U.'s, to the rest of the world, and/or replace imports with domestic production. And adjusting to that new way of making a living will take time.

I just hope we've got it.

21:44 BST

These are the hits

While I was out, the kids at Blah3 were pumping for hits to push their "Visits" column over a million. They've had a bunch of hits since then, but I see they're still one short. (That'll probably change by the time I post this, but, hey, they're only about 500 short of the two mil mark for page views.) (It's funny, I'd always assumed they were doing at least as well as this, but I guess I appear to be wrong.) (I can't remember when I installed the Sitemeter code, but it was probably a few weeks after I put in the eXtreme Tracking code in early December of 2001, only a couple-few weeks after I started this.)

Anyroad, you might want to check out Allison's brief history of the last five years in verse.

Elsewhere, Charles at Mercury Rising tries to devine whether there's a relationship between that promised Rove indictment and the current state of the markets. He could be on to something. (Also, a little reminder about all those illegal arrests of Americans during the Republican National Convention.

Check out Jonathan Weiler on the right-wing theory that taxes are "Soaking the Rich", poor things. (And if you think we have high taxes over here, maybe you'd better think about how you're getting ripped off by having such a low standard deduction to start from.) Via a heavy link round-up at Good Nonsense, which also points to what Billmon has to say about the new My Lai.

15:21 BST


I really should have torn out Thomas Friedman's "Saying No to Bush's Yes Men"* so I could type a few quotes out, but I didn't, so all we get is the lead sentence from the NYT: "With the Bush team, ideology always trumps reality, loyalty always trumps expertise." Basically, it's a lot of stuff every liberal blogger has already said, and I thought to myself, "Looks like it's time for Friedman to go on vacation again. Friedman always seems to write a couple of good, insightful columns just before having another nervous breakdown and running off to do whatever it is he does so he can come back and tell us we're all nuts to have so little faith in the conservative takeover of the world. (And though you can't get the column, you can get agreement from readers here.)

In any case, Friedman has become a recent topic not because of that column, but thanks to FAIR having noted his tendency to see that corner turning, whatever it is, always six months into the future.

That link can be found all over the place, but I happened to grab it from Skippy's place, where I saw a lot of interesting stuff this morning, including RJ Eskow's discovery that Russian mobsters are taking our tubes. Good guitar players will instinctively cringe when they read this story.

Skippy also discusses the latest indignity Bush seems to be planning to stick the National Guard with. I wonder what really happened when he was in the TANG that makes him hate the Guard so much. I mean, he sure seems to have it in for them. I also think it's well past time people started talking about the fact that, ever since 9/11, Bush has been bent on a program of weakening every mechanism America has for protecting our people - first responders in every category. He almost instantly started closing fire houses, weakening the police, and of course sent the NG off to foreign countries and left them (and their equipment) there. What's up with that?

But then, the big question everyone should have been asking all along is finally starting to peek over the edge of the wall: What does Bush, or any member of his administration, or any of his supporters, mean when they talk about "our freedoms"? It's certainly not freedom of religion or freedom of speech or freedom of the press; it's not the freedom to be secure in our homes and our persons; it's not even freedom of upward mobility. If they really mean "freedom for corporations to abuse us anyway they like," we should make them say so.

Meanwhile, Mimus Pauly reads one very disturbing book, and we also learn that The Spies Have It.

12:28 BST


So, I went out Wednesday to meet up with Elayne and Robin Riggs, had a great time, ate pancakes bigger than your head, went to a pub in Victoria before they caught their train, went to a meeting, couldn't keep my eyes open, went to bed and fell asleep until I had to get up to go to the hospital for a post-op check-up (I'm good), blah blah blah, went to a pub, didn't have a lot of time to blog. Fortunately, Dominic of Epicycle sent me a few links I can pass on:

Video: Lou Reed and John Cale do Heroin.

A fun little bit of jazz steppin' for ya.

And if you click on that ribbon banner up in the corner, you can get one for your page, too. (It doesn't seem to make any difference where you put the code.)

I also recommend TNH at Making Light, "Why I'm alarmed by proposals to militarize our borders": Infrastructure that will keep immigrants from coming in over the borders will keep us from going out over them. I find I don't want to see that power in the hands of George Bush and his successors and cronies. (Also via ML, "A Concise History of Black-White Relations in the USA", and a little piece on civility - oh, yeah.)

01:44 BST

Wednesday, 17 May 2006

I saw this


On March 17, 2003 Bush hired "the former head of the KGB (the secret police of the former Soviet Union), General Yevgeni Primakov," as a consultant to the US Department of Homeland Security.
Oh, how far we've come. (via) Meanwhile, I see that the NYT and WaPo still don't think it's front-page news that the administration is spying on journalists' phone calls.

Georgia judge strikes down gay marriage ban - The RealSpiel has details.

Lance Mannion explains why Bush's poll numbers ain't comin' back.

I told you not to put any faith in Republicans who are making principled noises.

Badtux the Snarky Penguin discovers a need to pray for a sinner: "Dammit, Bubba, the only holy book I have is this here Bible." I pull my handy Pocket New Testament out of my jacket pocket and thump it. "Seems to me that this here woman is bearin' false witness. That's the 9th Commandment, by the way, in case you done forgot. Exodus 20:16. 'Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.' This here Coulter person must not be a Christian." Via Eccentricity.

Natalie Maines

12:56 BST


Matthew Yglesias reminds us:'s worth recalling that when Goldfinger was released in 1964, there were no restrictions whatsoever on crossing the border from Mexico to the United States. People from all over Latin America were free to just wander north as they pleased and wander back again, just as they were in 1864 or at any other time from the conclusion of the Mexican War to the Immigration Act of 1965 which first restricted movement across the southern border. Consequently, it took a long time for the fact that these new restrictions were imperfectly enforced to start bothering people, and it's genuinely no surprise that we haven't managed to make our southern frontier look like the GDR border system yet.

I see the leading wingers were divided on Bush's speech - Hugh Hewitt thought it was "a very good start", but Hindrocket said he blew his chance. Jazz and Brad R. know comedy when they see it.

Little Thom's Blog introduces 50 Simple Things You Can Do To Fight The Right.

Welcome mat.

Lucy! In the Sky! With Diamonds! Funniest thing I saw all day.

03:58 BST

Tuesday, 16 May 2006


Leahy vs. Kavanaugh - Robin supplies the clip from Rachel's show the other day* when she played the segment from Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing where Senator Leahy asked why it took him so long to answer questions from his last hearing, and got a very odd response. Really, you should hear it - it's short but impressive. Remember, they want this guy to be a judge.

The Al Gore 2008 ( site has the complete SNL opening segment, along with the "Weekend Update" segment from the show.

"In statement, BellSouth denies giving information to National Security Agency." (But Booman Tribune is skeptical.)

BBC News 'wrong Guy' turns out not to be a cab driver - and the confusion seems to have come from the fact that his name was also "Guy".

16:59 BST

Le jour de gloire est arrivé

Brilliant at Breakfast, "Land of the no-longer free, home of the not in the least bit brave", with Bob Herbert's latest and some good added commentary.

Mahablog, "As the Shoes Drop - and there have been so many shoes. (Also: why all this talk about "earmarks" is just to distract you from the truth about those deficits.)

Digby finds WorldNutDaily proposing the Final Solution, and some hearty racism from Joe Klein, who is apparently worried about having the coloreds in our neighborhood. Of course, I had to check what Gilliard had to say, and learned an interesting thing I hadn't heard before: "Klein isn't even bothering to hide his racism any longer. In 1986, he made the ridiculous claim that Do the Right Thing would lead to riots as if black people were stupid." Wait a minute! He said that 20 years ago and has still gotten away with passing himself off as a liberal all this time? Sugar, he wasn't hiding his racism then, either.

Peter Daou wonders (along with a number of others) whether Jason Leopold's story on Rove's impending indictment was in error. Leopold says that if his sources were lying to him, he will out them. Larry Johnson says Joe Wilson has also heard about Rove's indictment from an independent source.

MadKane has a limerick for the Sleeper VEEP.

11:18 BST

Monday, 15 May 2006

News and views

Top news story of the afternoon, via Atrios, Judd, and Faiz, is this: "Federal Source to ABC News: We Know Who You're Calling. A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources. "It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation. John Aravosis notes that CNN is well behind the curve in terms of reporting this significant story. Hm.

Meanwhile, Think Progress also has video of David Corn questioning Karl Rove at his AEI speech this morning.

Over at Ahistoricality, some heavy ire over the news that the Library of Congress's National Library Service for the Blind's Web-Braille service seems to have disappeared, and no one will explain why.


20:20 BST

President Gore

I've finally gotten around to looking at Spike Jonze's Unseen Al Gore 2000 Campaign Video and reckon MadCasey is right that we need to spread more of this stuff around so people can see more of what was missing from the campaign we actually saw.

Actually, I'm thinking it would be a great public service if someone could compile and make available the videos of all the speeches Gore's made since Bush has been in office, and index them to be easy to find, so we can pass those links around.

18:41 BST

Expert Witness

Personally, I always find it annoying that when you appear on television you get asked questions that anyone off the street could answer (and then someone who knows absolutely nothing is usually asked the real expert questions), but if you ever needed proof that something is amiss, check out this little story about how a cab driver accidentally ended up being interviewed on the BBC in lieu of tech journalist Guy Kewney of, who was supposed to comment on the Apple/Apple decision. Via Rachel.

14:58 BST

Seen and heard

Adam Nagourney has, as usual, been focusing like a laser on the worst possible Democratic "insights", held by "some" Democrats, and of course if Democrats are doing something genuinely stupid, Digby can put them in their place - but wait! Julia picked up something no one else did - that "some" Democrats amount to very nearly no Democrats in the disgraced and marginalized person of Tony Coelho, who doesn't even qualify as an insider anymore. Hmmm.

I haven't listened to these yet, but I'm told Ian Masters' does good interviews, and he certainly picks his subjects and topics - Antonia Juhasz on the hidden agenda of corporate economic hegemony, and earlier interviews include Garry Wills, Ray McGovern, and the excellent Chris Hedges.

New Hampshire for Health Care says: Over 170 members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives have joined with New Hampshire for Health Care and signed on to a bi-partisan letter asking Senators Gregg and Sununu to oppose S. 1955. You can read the letter there.

"US in secret gun deal": The Pentagon has secretly shipped tens of thousands of small arms from Bosnia to Iraq in the past two years, using a web of private companies, at least one of which is a noted arms smuggler blacklisted by Washington and the UN.

They've started showing the Sony Bravia ad and Mr. Sideshow refuses to believe they are real colored balls. I told him that's not what I heard but he doesn't believe it.

When Rocky & Bullwinkle went commercial.

Oooh! - and more like it here.

Is it my imagination, or was the Mother's Day hype stepped up a lot this year? Maybe I'm just sensitive to it now that I can't send her a card anymore.

12:15 BST

Sunday, 14 May 2006

More ornaments

Le Mystere Lara demi braBra of the Week

Oh, yeah? Blah3 pulled this little nugget off the end of a WaPo article:

Holmes said she was so angry about reports that the government was collecting telephone calling records on millions of Americans that she called Verizon Wireless to explore canceling her service and switching to Qwest.

"It's your constitutional right to voice your opinion," she quoted the customer service agent as having told her. "If you want planes to fly into your building . . . "

Doesn't it make you want to smack someone? Another story here.

Thank you, Mr. President: I watched President Gore's State of the Union address on IFILM (which has the full intro), on C&L, and on YouTube - and I'm still not tired of it, but I can't decide which one to recommend, and anyway it'll all be different on your computer. But you can vote for your favorite below. (Thanks to Randolph Fritz for the IFILM link; others via Atrios. Bumper stickers seen on the thread at Eschaton: "Al Gore: Elect Him Again, Just Like the First Time" and "George W. Bush deserves a fair trial.")

You know, there may just be a reason why the DLC seems so much like the American Enterprise Institute. Via GOTV.

Anti-drug ads make teenagers more positive toward drugs.

Infinite Crisis in Thirty Seconds (Don't forget to scroll to the special bonus feature.)

21:30 BST

Choice cuts

Frank Rich's latest column is so strong that The Raw Story actually has a headline story about it. You can, thankfully, read all of "Will the Real Traitors Please Stand Up?" with a little help from your friends. "It's the recklessness at the top of our government, not the press' exposure of it, that has truly aided the enemy, put American lives at risk and potentially sabotaged national security." Yep. (Not to mention that the only Americans who seem to be in constant contact with people named "bin Laden" are named "Bush". Are they spying on their phone calls?)

McCurry and the telcos lying again - Matt Stoller analyzes their ad and sees them do their lying in person, too. (via)

Palast says it's not news that they're spying on us, but the relationship between the spies and corporations should really disturb people: You can call it the privatization of the FBI -- though it is better described as the creation of a private KGB. ... The leader in the field of what is called "data mining," is a company called, "ChoicePoint, Inc," which has sucked up over a billion dollars in national security contracts. You remember ChoicePoint, right? That's the same bunch that helped Katherine Harris remove legitimate voters from the voting rolls in Florida. "ChoicePoint's board has more Republicans than a Palm Beach country club." And now it is part of an end-run around the Constitution.

As always, there's been lotsa good stuff at C&L, but I highly recommend Jonathan Turley on the BushCo habit of hiring known criminals to staff the administration. (It was nice to see the clips of Hendrix doing "Voodoo Child" and Alvin Lee doing "I'm Going Home", too, but I never did get the Rachmaninoff to play.)

At The Carpetbagger Report, a follow-up poll by Newsweek shows that how you word the questions makes all the difference, and that Americans do not support Bush's spy program as WaPo's Morin wants you to believe. Also: Since the administration is not in the habit of pressing prosecutions on corporate executives who break the law, perhaps we should be suspicious when Qwest's Joseph Nacchio is the target of a prosecution after being told it would be in "his best interest" to go along with the illegal NSA spy program - and refusing.

At A Tiny Revolution, "OF COURSE Ahmadinejad Sounds Like Cindy Sheehan": When two of these countries with right-wing nutjob leaders come into conflict, the leaders will loudly criticize each other. Often these criticisms are completely accurate. Indeed, they will generally be exactly the same criticism made by the normal people of the country being criticized. (Also: Those who don't know history are condemned to keep screwing things up.) (More good stuff.)

Still more good stuff at Informed Dissent, especially if you were waiting for someone to point out that All Roads lead to Cheney, or remind you why you needn't bother to read Cliff May, or just pick out some good editorial cartoons for you.

14:24 BST

Saturday, 13 May 2006

Blog like you were writing in the early days of a better nation

Jerome Doolittle read Thomas Friedman yesterday so we didn't have to. Friedman's column touched on the uselessness of us pyjama people:

To this day, whenever I hear a reporter say, "I don't do reporting - I just do opinion and analysis," I always think of the reporting basics that Leon [Daniel] pounded into me and want to say, "I doubt that your analysis is very good, because the best analysis always comes from spotting trends that can usually only be spotted by reporting a story day in and day out,"

I like blogs, but the only bloggers that appeal to me are those who do reporting and aren't just sitting at home in their pajamas firing off mortars.

From Warp Speed: America in the Age of Mixed Media, by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel:
While the press may not tell people what to think, it gives them a list of things to think about.
Friedman misses the point that Kovach and Rosenstiel so economically make. The Times, to take the example at hand, provided in advance all the information necessary to realize that Bush was marching us to war up a mountain of lies. I realized it, and wrote about it at the time, and so did scores of other bloggers.

Not in hindsight, but contemporaneously, we warned that the unmanned aircraft was a phony, that the aluminum tubes were rocket parts, that Chalabi was a lying con man, that the yellowcake was based on a clumsy forgery, that the neocons were pressuring the CIA to cook the books, that Colin Powell's presentation to the UN was a fake. It's all there, in our archives.

And we didn't even have to go out and report these things. The Times, God bless it, did that job for us. All we had to do was read the inside pages down to the last paragraphs - where, as careful students of the press know, the real lead is often to be found.

But that isn't what was on the front page, and I guess it's not what Friedman saw, either. He wasn't really reading what those reporters wrote, was he?

So, if you're not able or willing to plow through the entire paper and read to the last graf, you have a cheat-sheet: blogs. But Friedman wasn't smart enough to read those, either. Lazy snob.

16:31 BST

Who's listening?

A little googling found this: An overlooked story makes more sense now: The Carlyle Group and Welsh Carson Close Qwest Dex East Deal [ , 01/02/03] Formerly thought to be benign, this transaction provides Carlyle with personal and business data profitable for re-selling to Poindexter's Total Information Awareness System "The Carlyle Group and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe today closed the first part - Dex East - of their purchase of Qwest Communications' yellow page directories business."

So, before you switch to Qwest as your telco, you might want to do a little more research.

Thus, we are grateful to Atrios for recommending the provider he says he's been happy with for years, Working Assets, the only telephone company that has joined ACLU's suit against the NSA.

Meanwhile, we are told that we will be shocked by new and different revelations about the NSA program by a "former intelligence officer" who says he plans to tell Senate staffers next week about "an angle that you haven't heard about yet."

It doesn't matter to me that certain Republicans have been denouncing the program, by the way. These guys have all done this before on a number of issues and then when it came down to doing something about it, suddenly reversed themselves. Everyone saw Gingrich denounced the Computer Decency Act back in the day, but he couldn't be bothered to vote against it (and he voted for the management bill, which did the same thing, anyway). Specter has spent the last five years saying apparently principled things and then folding. Ditto Graham. This is all just smoke, and until they actually do something about it, it just looks like a load of old PR to me.

12:53 BST


So, it seems that in 2002, Qwest became part of the Carlyle Group. You remember them, right?

"Are GOP longknives being sharpened for Gore already?" - MB finds what sure looks like a piece of astroturf in The Salt Lake Tribune, comparing Gore to "the more moderate, brighter and harder-working Hillary Clinton." Hm....

John at Blogenlust says: I'm reading the tea leaves, of course, but I think Gore believes he has a moral imperative to run for president again. Even if he loses, he'll be so much of a force that other candidates will have to address the environment more seriously than if he decided to sit out the election. That alone is reason enough to give it a try, because if people like James Hansen are right, there won't be another opportunity to stop the crisis.

Everybody knows he's lying....

04:05 BST

News and entertainment

Jason Leopold at Truthout says, "Rove Informs White House He Will Be Indicted": Within the last week, Karl Rove told President Bush and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, as well as a few other high level administration officials, that he will be indicted in the CIA leak case and will immediately resign his White House job when the special counsel publicly announces the charges against him, according to sources.

The Washington Post did another poll that appears to be meant to force a specific answer - that people would rather be spied on by their government than not. My poll question: "Is Richard Morin just stupid, or is he actually on salary from the GOP?" (More at FDL.)

In other polling Bill Clinton beats Bush by 2-1. And: When asked which man was more honest as president, poll respondents were more evenly divided, with the numbers -- 46 percent Clinton to 41 percent Bush -- falling within the poll's margin of error.

"Mel Gibson Compares President Bush to Barbaric Mayans": Film star and director Mel Gibson has launched a scathing attack on President George W. Bush, comparing his leadership to the barbaric rulers of the Mayan civilization in his new film Apocalypto. The epic, due for release later this year, captures the decline of the Maya kingdom and the slaughter of thousands of inhabitants as human sacrifices in a bid to save the nation from collapsing. Gibson reveals he used present day American politics as an inspiration, claiming the government callously plays on the nation's insecurities to maintain power. He tells British film magazine Hotdog, "The fear-mongering we depict in the film reminds me of President Bush and his guys."

Holy moley! You look away for a minute and next thing you know Julia is telling you that Charles Kuffner has turned into Big Media Chuck.

Moose & Squirrel has an .mp3 for you of a rare Hollies acetate.

01:29 BST


Tony Snow turns out to have a brilliant line of patter - he can't answer questions on the grounds that he says he just doesn't know enough about the subjects.

This is the man described by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as 'Hitler' and by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as the 'most dangerous in the region' - Well, you know who it's going to be, right?

Everythingisruined: "Colbert did not appear as an entertainer but as a provocateur. Satire is not the same as stand-up comedy. His performance was not great comedy, but great theater."

Oh, man, I just saw Fogarty sing "Fortunate Son" live on Jools and it was an intense and powerful thing.

00:29 BST

Friday, 12 May 2006

Assorted stuff

Lots of good stuff at Seeing the Forest, like "US Treasury Becomes Republican Party's Bankroll", "Don't Be Distracted - It Continues Unabated", and my particular favorite, "Making My Case So Well", in which a wingnut gets all racist when Dave notices some racism.

'Get busy. Make babies.' Now we know what abstinence-only sex "education" is really for.

Jeralyn went to see Al Gore and his movie - which she dug, and she live-blogged it and the Q&A with Al.

First refresh your memory on Michael C. Hayden (or here), then write to Joe Biden and ask him why he keeps saying such nice things about the guy.

Your worthy cause of the day, via Skimble, is to send Hugo to Iraq to make his film. (Skimble also evaluates Bush as a portfolio manager.)

Angry liberal guy rant. Tip from Dominic, whose Epicycle supplies a link to this article on MPAA's latest claims about how much money they are allegedly losing to "piracy" - but since they won't let us see the study they base this on, there's no reason to believe what are frankly unlikely results. (Also, a nice little space-saver for those in need.)

I liked this picture enough to go check the root page (and eventually found the source for that photo), where I found the even more exciting Jesus of Asparagus linked.

"Too Many Voters - a modest proposal from a "reasonable conservative".

19:11 BST

It's a feature, not a bug

Before you all get too happy....

John Gideon has been covering the latest Diebold security hole story at The Brad Blog, and you saw it there first last week. This week, he notes that the "real" media finally got around to the story. AP, for example, with a headline that misleads the reader:

3 states issue directives to relieve security flaw in e-voting

SAN FRANCISCO - Officials overseeing elections in three states have issued notices directing local authorities to take additional steps to prevent election fraud through a popular type of electronic voting machine.

Officials in California, Iowa and Pennsylvania said they issued the directives in recent weeks after researchers discovered a feature that could allow someone to load unauthorized software on Diebold Election Systems Inc.'s computerized machines.

A hacker theoretically could use the software to rig or sabotage an election or to perform some other unauthorized function, said Michael Shamos, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

"It's worse than a hole," said Shamos, who has been briefed on the vulnerability of the Diebold machines. "It's a deliberate feature that was added by Diebold that we all believe is unwise."

Even Ian Hoffman, who has ordinarily been a stand-out on this issue, gets a similarly misleading headline:
Voting glitch said to be 'dangerous'

Elections officials in several states are scrambling to understand and limit the risk from a "dangerous" security hole found in Diebold Election Systems Inc.'s ATM-like touch-screen voting machines.

The hole is considered more worrisome than most security problems discovered on modern voting machines, such as weak encryption, easily pickable locks and use of the same, weak password nationwide.

Armed with a little basic knowledge of Diebold voting systems and a standard component available at any computer store, someone with a minute or two of access to a Diebold touch screen could load virtually any software into the machine and disable it, redistribute votes or alter its performance in myriad ways.

"This one is worse than any of the others I've seen. It's more fundamental," said Douglas Jones, a University of Iowa computer scientist and veteran voting-system examiner for the state of Iowa.

"In the other ones, we've been arguing about the security of the locks on the front door," Jones said. "Now we find that there's no back door. This is the kind of thing where if the states don't get out in front of the hackers, there's a real threat.

The state of Georgia thinks it's no big deal, but Avi Rubin says:
"I think it's the most serious thing I've heard to date. Even describing why I think its serious is dangerous. This is something that's so easy to do that if the public were to hear about it, it would raise the risk of someone doing it. ... This is the worst-case scenario, almost."
Brad himself reports that The Wall Street Journal has published an article, now, but it minimizes the issue and claims, in contradiction of the facts, that there is no evidence that a hacker could manipulate the vote.

Brad says that the NYT did a much better job with today's story by Monica Davey. "Glad to have you on board, NY Times!" says Brad, "You've come along way since November 20, 2004 when you reported this stuff as 'the conspiracy theories of leftwing bloggers.'"

13:16 BST

'Cause I saw it on TV

Have you all been to OpEdNews lately? They got Zogby to do some polling for them on the questions the corporate media won't ask, and got some very interesting results:

A new poll conducted in Pennsylvania by Zogby International and commissioned by asked some of the questions the corporate media has failed to ask. The answers are surprising. One revelation is this: the single greatest predictor of an American's political views is whether she or he watches Fox News.
Actually, that part isn't surprising at all, but the more you read, the more mainstream you really feel! From the section "Poll: 2004 Election Was Stolen; according to viewers of all news networks except Fox News," we get the stats by network on whether viewers think the 2004 election was stolen:
Network Stolen Legitimate
ABC     56%    32%
CBS     64%    31%
CNN     70%    24%
FOX     .5%    99%
MSNBC   65%    24%
NBC     49%    43%
Other   56%    28%
There's more fun to come! "Poll: Bush Lied About Iraq, Has No Right to Attack Iran":
"Some people say that President Bush lied so that we would go to war with Iraq. Others say he was given faulty intelligence and did not intentionally mislead the nation."
51.8% told the pollsters that they agreed with "Those who say Bush lied."
44.8% agreed with "Those who say he did not intentionally mislead the nation."
Zogby also asked "Do you agree or disagree that the president has the right to use military force against Iran without the support of Congress?"
62.5% disagreed
32.1% agreed

Among those in the armed forces or with military family members 53.8% disagreed, while 40.8% agreed. The only religious group in which a majority believe the president has the right to attack Iran is Born Agains, and only by a margin of 46.8% to 40.9%. Every racial group disagrees.

The same poll asked three questions related to censure or impeachment.

45.9% of those surveyed said they were either "much more likely" or "somewhat more likely" to vote for a candidate who supports starting an investigation of Bush that could lead to impeachment. 45.2% said they were either "somewhat less likely" or "much less likely."

Among non-Fox viewers, support for pro-impeachment candidates ranges from 60.4% to 75.3%. Among Fox viewers, it's at 1.8%.

Asked simply whether they support or oppose starting a Congressional investigation into Vice President Dick Cheney that could lead to impeachment, 48.9% said they supported that, while 45.8% opposed.

Among non-Fox viewers, support for moving toward impeachment of Cheney ranges from 70.5% to 77.5%. Among Fox viewers, support is at 2.0%

There's FOX news viewers, and there's the rest of us. And, despite the fact that the other cable news networks are actually trying to emulate FOX as much as they can, and all networks have worked to play-down the suspicious nature of the 2004 election, most non-FOX viewers believe the election was stolen. Think of it!

03:33 BST

"The single greatest nightmare of the founders"

Atrios has quoted another part of this Glenn Greenwald article because it highlights the real nature - and, some of us believe, the political problem for the administration - of the NSA spying program, but I also wanted to call this section to your attention:

This theme emerges again and again. We continuously hear that the Bush administration has legal authority to do anything the President orders. Claims that he is acting illegally are just frivolous and the by-product of Bush hatred. And yet, as I detailed here, each and every time the administration has the opportunity to obtain an adjudication of the legality of its conduct from a federal court (which, unbeknownst to the administration, is the branch of our government which has the authority and responsibility to interpret and apply the law), it does everything possible to avoid that adjudication.

This continuous evasion of judicial review by the administration is much more serious and disturbing than has been discussed and realized. By proclaiming the power to ignore Congressional law and to do whatever it wants in the area of national security, it is seizing the powers of the legislative branch. But by blocking courts from ruling on the multiple claims of illegality which have been made against it, the administration is essentially seizing the judicial power as well. It becomes the creator, the executor, and the interpreter of the law. And with that, the powers of all three branches become consolidated in The President, the single greatest nightmare of the founders. As Madison warned in Federalist 47:

From these facts, by which Montesquieu was guided, it may clearly be inferred that, in saying "There can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or body of magistrates," or, "if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers," he did not mean that these departments ought to have no partial agency in, or no control over, the acts of each other.

His meaning, as his own words import, and still more conclusively as illustrated by the example in his eye, can amount to no more than this, that where the whole power of one department is exercised by the same hands which possess the whole power of another department, the fundamental principles of a free constitution are subverted. This would have been the case in the constitution examined by him, if the king, who is the sole executive magistrate, had possessed also the complete legislative power, or the supreme administration of justice; or if the entire legislative body had possessed the supreme judiciary, or the supreme executive authority.

The attribute which most singularly defines this administration is its insistence that our Government is based on unilateral and unreviewed Presidential Decree.
I believe that any reasonably literate person can understand easily that the Constitution of the United States clearly prohibits what Bush has been doing. It is my feeling that anyone who argues otherwise is either unfamiliar with the Constitution and therefore should bow out of the discussion until they have educated themselves, or is directly engaged in trying to overthrow the rightful government of the United States of America.

02:07 BST

Thursday, 11 May 2006

All you need to know

Just go to Digby's joint:

"Preparing The Ground" - Yes, it's obvious, and it's what we've been saying, but it's amazing how little penetration it really has: If you want to create legitimacy for ideas, you talk about them. The conservative movement did this with ideas that are totally nuts. Ours are actually pretty mainstream, so it shouldn't take us 30 years.

"Extremes" - This ain't 30 years ago.

"That's Our Fratboy" - lessons in friendly intimidation and control.

"Getting Played" - Of course we should talk about investigating this White House - and of course the GOP is going to pretend that even mentioning the possibility will really hurt the Democrats. Don't kid yourself.

17:18 BST

And the big wheel turn around, round

The top headline is from USA Today, where we learn that the the NSA has been spying on all domestic communications. And we are... not surprised. The capability for data-mining exists, it's already used all over the Internet, Bush thinks he has a right to do anything he wants, and it's been obvious for a while that there's no reason to think they aren't doing it. So, when Bush says this program is only spying on people who have phone conversations with "terrorists" in other countries, he means you, inside the United States, talking to your neighbors who are also inside the United States. But then, it's also increasingly clear that as far as BushCo is concerned, the rest of the United States is an enemy nation.

But pay attention:

AT&T recently merged with SBC and kept the AT&T name. Verizon, BellSouth and AT &T are the nation's three biggest telecommunications companies; they provide local and wireless phone service to more than 200 million customers.

The three carriers control vast networks with the latest communications technologies. They provide an array of services: local and long-distance calling, wireless and high-speed broadband, including video. Their direct access to millions of homes and businesses has them uniquely positioned to help the government keep tabs on the calling habits of Americans.

Among the big telecommunications companies, only Qwest has refused to help the NSA, the sources said. According to multiple sources, Qwest declined to participate because it was uneasy about the legal implications of handing over customer information to the government without warrants.

Qwest's refusal to participate has left the NSA with a hole in its database. Based in Denver, Qwest provides local phone service to 14 million customers in 14 states in the West and Northwest. But AT&T and Verizon also provide some services - primarily long-distance and wireless - to people who live in Qwest's region. Therefore, they can provide the NSA with at least some access in that area.

I don't know anything about Qwest, but I think I'd be interested to know why they are departing from the Program.

A peek at Memeorandum reveals that I'm not the only one for whom those paragraphs stood out. Matt Stoller at MyDD says of Quest, "Good Corporate Behavior Should Be Rewarded":

Qwest refused to help? And Verizon and AT&T (which bought Bellsouth) acted as nice little sycophants? Wow. I always hated Verizon because of their customer service, and AT&T is run by a megalomaniac named Ed Whitacre who likes to destroy trees in his spare time. But I still assumed that cooperation with the government was mandatory. It's not. These companies are aiding and abetting the NSA in illegal activity. And not only are they aiding and abetting the NSA, they are possibly engaging in illegal corporate behavior. That at least is how Qwest is reading the law.
This is a disgrace. An absolute disgrace. Shame on ATT. Shame on Verizon. I'm glad I use Sprint and don't have a landline. And if I were a mayor or a Governor, I would try to move contracts away from these companies and towards Qwest or other telco players. At the very least I'd make local subsidies contingent upon not spying on my constituents.
Might be a good idea to drop a line to your local reps about that, then.

Steve Soto at The Left Coaster expands:

After the NSA and Bush Administration threatened Qwest, the company told the NSA that it wanted the matter referred to the FISA court to determine the legality of the program before continuing any further negotiations with the Bush Administration. Failing that, Qwest wanted a letter from the Justice Department confirming the legal basis for the NSA domestic data mining program.

In both cases, the Bush Administration refused, and Qwest discontinued negotiations. To this day Qwest is the only hold-out among major telecommunication firms to stand up to the federal government.

I will now anxiously await Dianne Feinstein's response on this, as well as that of any Senate Democrat who was planning to give Hayden a pass on this.

Too right.

Barbara O'Brien at The Mahablog is already watching the right-wingers try to dismiss this story or defend the program. "Let's See the "Libertarian" Righties Defend This One," she says, while the rest go so far as to claim the whole story is a lie:

What we're observing is a textbook example of how people who have a choice allow themselves to become subject to dictatorship. We're like one big social science demonstration of How Good Democracies Go Bad. I hope other nations are taking notes.
Just out of curiosity, when was the last time you heard someone say, without irony, "It's a free country"?

14:15 BST

President Gore

By my reckoning, there are only two people who are even remotely considered to be contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination who I can find a reason to support. One is Russ Feingold, who looks better every day, but the other - well, you know how I feel about this.

The WSJ article is called "Al Gore Might Yet Join 2008 Contenders" - but, alas, there is not really any new news in it. Al Gore has said he does not foresee that he will run, but he's never ruled it out completely. I continue to have a sense that it's up to the rest of us to change his mind. And, while I can't prove it, I've always been pretty sure that the same Democratic Party insiders who have done such a ghastly job for us so far played the largest role in preventing him from running in 2004 by refusing to give both Gore and Dean their support. These are people whose role in life seems to be to suck all the oxygen out of any campaign that might capture our imagination.

Now we get to the interview in Grist, which is all about An Inconvenient Truth and climate change, until we get to the end:

Q: James Hansen says we have 10 years before there are irreversible changes [because of the climate crisis]. Two and a half years of those 10 ...

A: We can't spot the problem two and a half years. We've got to concentrate on changing the country's mind even during this president's term.

Q: Yes. But whoever is president next has four of the remaining seven years. Whoever it is will have history-changing effects, pro or con. I don't see any candidate in either party who shows signs of having internalized the scope and severity of the problem.

All of which you surely realize is leading to the inevitable question: Do you not feel some obligation to jump into the race?

A: I'm not planning to be a candidate again. I appreciate the way you asked the question, I really do, but I'm not planning to be a candidate again.

Q: You know I had to make you say it.

He's "not planning" to run again, but not "absolutely not going to run again."

But the groundswell of support has been growing more visible, and even journalists who were down on him in 2000 have been talking him up a bit lately.

And just as I was starting feel guilty about not having gotten around to adding The Gore Portal to the blogroll, MB Williams (of) nudged me in the ribs about Draft Gore 2008, a new project that already seems to have some energy behind it.

My favorite piece of buzz in the rumor mill has it that if Hillary Clinton throws her hat into the ring, Gore is actually more likely to run. But who knows if it's true?

What we do know is that right now this is the guy who is taking a leadership role in saying the things that need to be said before any other Democratic "leader" has the nerve to say them - he was the first leading politician to mention single-payer, the first to stand up and say why we should not invade Iraq - and he is the one who has understood the importance of protecting our environment, and who is talking about it now even as the GOP is promoting the idea that climate change is "a hoax". Meanwhile, Hillary is supporting a law to ban flag-burning. I know which one I take seriously.

03:37 BST

Wednesday, 10 May 2006

Men of stature

Rachel played a sound clip this morning on her show of part of a Senate judiciary hearing that had me howling. I rushed over to C&L hoping to find it there, but alas, no. A short quote from it here:

Even a question of why it took him seven months to answer a set of committee questions in 2004 triggered an impasse. When Kavanaugh repeatedly said, "I take responsibility," instead of saying why the delay occurred, an exasperated Leahy said, "We're not playing games here."
Leaving aside the fact that this is what Republicans mean by "taking responsibility" (i.e., nothing - as long as it's a Republican), this guy isn't even good at distracting patter. And they want him to be a judge. Is that scraping the bottom of the barrel, or what?

If anyone sees the clip anywhere, I'd love to post a link to it, because I really think this should be seen far and wide. At the moment, I don't seem able to find the transcripts.

15:54 BST

Blogospheric crazies

Man, I do love Paul Krugman. "Who's Crazy Now?" examines territory we've covered here from time to time that, for the last several years, has deserved a much better airing than its had:

A conspiracy theory, says Wikipedia, "attempts to explain the cause of an event as a secret, and often deceptive, plot by a covert alliance." Claims that global warming is a hoax and that the liberal media are suppressing the good news from Iraq meet that definition. In each case, to accept the claim you have to believe that people working for many different organizations - scientists at universities and research facilities around the world, reporters for dozens of different news organizations - are secretly coordinating their actions.

The truth is that many of the people who throw around terms like "loopy conspiracy theories" are lazy bullies who, as Zachary Roth put it on CJR Daily, The Columbia Journalism Review's Web site, want to "confer instant illegitimacy on any argument with which they disagree." Instead of facing up to hard questions, they try to suggest that anyone who asks those questions is crazy.

Indeed, right-wing pundits have consistently questioned the sanity of Bush critics; "It looks as if Al Gore has gone off his lithium again," said Charles Krauthammer, the Washington Post columnist, after Mr. Gore gave a perfectly sensible if hard-hitting speech. Even moderates have tended to dismiss the administration's harsh critics as victims of irrational Bush hatred.

But now those harsh critics have been vindicated.

Except, of course, that even while two-thirds of the American public now realize that Bush lied to them, neither the Democratic leadership nor the media have been willing to face the music and admit that it's us crazies (including "Ozone Man" Al Gore), who were right, while they were the ones who were crazy to trust Bush. Even the ones who have accepted that they were wrong have fallen well short of this - they make excuses (though, really, there aren't any, other than, "I was crazy and/or cowardly"), and then they persist in siding with the conventional wisdom of the moment. The current conventional wisdom is that people who opposed the war at the time did so for the wrong reason - they were just insane Bush-haters - and that only hindsight has exposed the weakness of faith in Bush.

Well, leaving aside the point that it was perfectly obvious before the invasion of Iraq that it was a mad idea (no matter who was in the White House), there is also the fact that hindsight stretches back a lot farther than they want to admit. The "crazy" people who distrusted Bush had good reason for doing so, based on his record. If there's any justice (and, generally, there really isn't), these people should be praising us crazy lefties and treating us like respected elders whose advice is indispensable, any minute now. Don't hold your breath. (All links from Maha, who digs Krugman, too.)

At Think Progress:
Much in keeping with the above, Russ Feingold tells us not to run from the truth: You already hear people saying that the Michael Hayden nomination will be a great opportunity for the White House to show the Democrats are soft on terrorism. And you bet the pundits in this town will somehow suggest that this, too, just like my censure resolution, will cause the President's numbers to shoot up. You remember that happening, right? It didn't happen at all, but that's what they're gonna say, but it's not right. Bush's ratings have dropped six points in the wake of Feingold's censure motion.
First a guy at HUD tells a story about how he cancelled a government contract for purely partisan reasons, and when people react to this blatantly illegal behavior, he turns around and says he made it up.
Even more new tax cuts for the rich.

From over here, I never quite know how events are actually playing on US television news - so I didn't catch how Ray McGovern's confrontation with Rumsfeld was covered. (Via The Dees Diversion.)

FDL on the loony media and why they hate us and we can't let them stop us.

It's too late to start a blog.

12:30 BST

Tuesday, 09 May 2006

Places to go

Much thanks to the excellent Duncan Black for, in his scrappy way, providing the Democratic Party platform. I recommend a bit of editing and then send it off to your Dem reps and ask them what they think of the contents. (And here's that Stoller link Atrios messed up, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who does that.)

Paul Craig Roberts, "A Nation of Waitresses and Bartenders": The Bureau of Labor Statistics payroll jobs report released May 5 says the economy created 131,000 private sector jobs in April. Construction added 10,000 jobs, natural resources, mining and logging added 8,000 jobs, and manufacturing added 19,000. Despite this unusual gain, the economy has 10,000 fewer manufacturing jobs than a year ago.

PZ Myers, "Plan B, again": The idiots at ABC News have an article in which they describe the efforts of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to get good information out there about emergency contraception, and they get it all wrong. Of course. Why would they know the difference between a contraceptive and an abortifacient? Why, it's a mistake anyone would make when writing a whole feature about it!

Poodle: Jack Straw's fate was sealed in a phone call from the White House to Tony Blair last month, according to the former foreign secretary's friends. They say President George Bush was furious that Mr Straw said it was "nuts" to use nuclear weapons against Iran, an option reported to be under active consideration in Washington. (via)

Feministing says to click this link. Do it.

The cows have reached Edinburgh.

The Assimilated Negro has been using a word more lately.

Another reason to get a frowny face from WalMart. (via)

19:36 BST

Not that it'll do a lick of good, but...

To Richard Cohen
Subject "Digital Lynch Mob"

I realize that the state of the world makes it easy to want to retreat into writing about more personal matters, but do people really read the newspapers to learn what commentators have to say about each other?

Well, maybe they do. I have a terrible feeling that, in large part, it really is all about you. It's about how one of the two leading political parties nominated a manifestly unfit candidate and you helped him beat someone who was just as manifestly the most qualified guy for the job - because you all had some weird personal vendetta against the guy who obviously should have won.

And then, in the wake of the most shocking presidential failure of our lifetimes, none of you could bear to criticize the man whose job it was to prevent it. Not only that, but you even went so far as to create an air of congratulation around the fact that this blatant incompetent was in the White House on that day rather than a man who more likely would have prevented the tragedy in the first place.

And then you helped shoe-horn the nation into a war that obviously had no justification whatsoever. Despite the fact that you knew Saddam had never tested a nuclear device and did not have delivery systems for one, you didn't even say, "Wait a minute - are we being snowed?" when it was suggested by our leaders that Iraq could subject us to nuclear attack by Christmas (or even within 45 minutes!) - nor did you publicly wonder what the point was of attacking the enemy of our enemy.

And now, when our treasury has been plundered, our economy is teetering on the edge of a cliff, and our glorious leader is obviously planning to open a third front in his failing war (with nukes!), you want to complain about the people who have had the temerity to critique this whole ghastly display.

Yes, Colbert told you what you didn't want to hear, and you didn't laugh.

And yes, when you made a big deal out of resenting the fact that you had your failures thrown in your faces, people sent you intemperate mail.

I realize it's unpleasant to receive public opprobrium and hate mail. But put this in perspective:

Our Constitution has been shredded, and you complain that those who criticize the guy who did it are rude.

Our economy is hemorrhaging, and you think we should be reading about your mail.

Thousands of people are dead, and you want to complain about our language.

If you've made a few thousand people swear at you, maybe it's time to consider the possibility that it is you who owe us an apology.

Yeah, like that won't fall on deaf ears.

13:03 BST


Peter Daou notes discusses the right-wing-only blogswarm over the death of Atwar Bahjat, the Iraqi journalist who was killed at the end of February - a murder the right-wing ignored at the time. But now that a video purporting to show her death has emerged, the right-wingers are attempting to own it. To the post at The Daou Report, ishtar comments: Atwar was a privileged journalist during Saddam era; if you prefer to think in terms of sects, she was sunni, furthermore, she was originally from Samarra, the city where she was killed. So, please forget the possiblity that she was killed by resistance. Everybody in Iraq believe that she was killed by the death squads of ministry of interior. I think the "beheading" film is a fake, although I have not seen it yet, because I have two pics of her before and after her death. She was wearing heavy winter clothes. Her "after" pic does not show her beheaded or stripped, unless all these things were done to her after her death. In this case, we would not have heard her crying, would we ? I think this film is part of a "distracting the public" psyop. You may ask : distracting from what?

The Alternet article on saving the Internet has been up for a while but in my usual way I hadn't gotten around to linking it until now. But, you know, I'm not going to let this issue go.

I think it was Charles (of) who mentioned this article on the Cuban Five in comments a while back. Aside from the fact that it details a grotesque injustice being perpetrated by the United States government, it's also a good example of the way the Bush administration does reprehensible things, but they are things they couldn't have done without the help of Bill Clinton's administration.

I've been hoping someone would write an article about the importance of music to human development and the fact that the Taliban says music is wrong. (Actually, I was hoping Kaveney would do it, but she didn't.)

There's a review of the book Confessions of a Former Dittohead at MyDD that might be worth your attention. I've heard this guy interviewed on the radio and it really is spooky when he describes how conservatives think and why it's so hard to talk to them.

01:52 BST

Monday, 08 May 2006

Little wheel, spin and spin

Since Bush has been telling fish stories all along, I don't suppose having a real one is any surprise. And after that "trifecta" remark, not to mention the time he surmised that 2001 had been a real good year for him, I guess I shouldn't even react anymore when he says that the proudest moment he's had in the entirety of his "presidency" was landing a big perch. On the other hand, I hadn't heard that he'd explained to the German people their opposition to the Iraq war: "The Germans today simply don't like war... And I can understand that. There is a generation of people whose lives were thrown into complete disarray by a horrible war." Isn't it amazing that his utterances still can astonish me? But the biggest fish story of all, of course, is the one the conservatives tell themselves about how the problems they've created are all caused by liberals.

Telecom Lobbyists: Taking the Internets in Secret. Oh, boy: "The Senate just needs to pass "anything to get us into conference," where the real decisions will be made, House telecommunications subcommittee chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said Tuesday at a telecom forum hosted by National Journal's Technology Daily." See, they even say this stuff in public, they're not really trying to hide it anymore - but then, they know their constituents don't read the papers.

You know what it means when they say they are going to "modernize" something, right? It means they're going to make things much, much worse. Well, guess what, kiddies! You've now got The Medicare Modernization Act to look forward to. Thanks to eRobin for picking up on Kate's article, and Annie for alerting me to look.

Bruce Schneier asks, Who Owns Your Computer?

Feorag knows how the story of Esmie Tseng would have been covered if she'd been a Goth - "What the papers won't say".

15:06 BST

Sunday, 07 May 2006

Treasure chest

Lejaby Iloe full cup braBra of the Week - it's sheer, it's cute, and it's too expensive. Probably not so good for under T-shirts, either. Still, if I had infinite funds and an extremely roomy underwear drawer, it'd be fun to have this in all three colors.

Another smart, insightful writer who is far more deserving of the real estate in Time or the WaPo than most of those who currently inhabit it is Barbara O'Brien, whose "Regarding Hillary" ought to be a must-read for anyone commenting on, let alone organizing, Democratic Party politics. While Eleanor Clift is imagining that Democrats shy away from the idea of Hillary because we're afraid to nominate a woman, Maha gets right to the meat that the paid commentariat persists in missing by the proverbial kilometer: I submit that Hillary is our Gerald Ford, not our Ronald Reagan. She represents the old guard. She is at the core of the inside-the-beltway Democratic culture that has left the party without direction or passion and sometimes, it seems, without purpose. Markos Moulitsas (Kos) actually managed to get a piece of that WaPo acreage this morning with "Hillary Clinton: Too Much of a Clinton Democrat?", in which he says something similar: Hillary Clinton has a few problems if she wants to secure the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. She is a leader who fails to lead. [...] Hillary Clinton leads her Democratic rivals in the polls and in fundraising. Unfortunately, however, the New York senator is part of a failed Democratic Party establishment -- led by her husband -- that enabled the George W. Bush presidency and the Republican majorities, and all the havoc they have wreaked at home and abroad. Markos also makes the point that in the 2004 race, the guy who everyone said had the inside track on the Democratic nomination was... Joe Lieberman.

The most obvious Honorable Exception to the uselessness of the paid press is Paul Krugman, who also - perhaps not incidentally - spends less time hanging out on Capitol Hill than he does in the sleepy little town of Princeton, New Jersey. It seems strange to regard academe as closer to the real world than my own stomping grounds in DC, but it's true; Paul Krugman has a real job talking to real people, and the rest of our celebrity punditocracy does not. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that he is one of a very tiny number of pro columnists who actually attack my favorite hobby-horses, and come out on the same side with me, too. Nevertheless, a happy accident has put him right on the op-ed page of The New York Times, where he might even be doing some good. And few issues are more important than healthcare, the one we should have been talking about while the GOP and their media toys were obsessing on lowering taxes on the rich and building a "peace shield" in the sky (and then gays in the military, and then Clinton's love life, and a lot of other useless rubbish). Krugman has returned to that subject with "Death By Insurance", explaining with simple clarity that healthcare in America really is broken and how much more sense it makes to just put the whole country on Medicare. This is what matters, and this is what our media would have been talking about in 1980 (and certainly in 1992) if they had really been liberal. It's what the Clintons did not have the courage to confront when they had the chance. It's what no one can ignore anymore, and thank goodness there is someone writing for the Times who thinks so, too. In "Sick Society", he also wonders if the issue of health insurance doesn't combine with another unpleasant factor in American society - working conditions that demand workaholism - to make us less healthy than our other industrialized neighbors. Krugman is highlighting one tree at a time, but sooner or later the forest itself becomes visible. And in that forest, you may be learning that America just might not be the best country in the world to live in, after all.

22:10 BST

Media suicide watch

In The American Prospect, Greg Sargent explains in "The Blog Rage Canard" why the likes of Joe Klein hate bloggers so, but he makes a little mistake here:

Aside from some obvious differences -- bloggers sometimes double as political activists, and the idiom is different in some ways -- the truth is that bloggers essentially offer exactly what Klein does: Words on a screen which are meant to help the reader interpret current affairs and politics. What's more -- and here's the real crux of the matter -- readers are choosing between the words on a screen offered by Klein and other commentators and the words on a screen offered by bloggers on the basis of one thing alone: The quality of the work.
True enough, and certainly if quality is what you're looking for, you're more likely to go to Digby than just about anyone (and certainly not to Klein).

But many bloggers offer something else - something valuable that's hard to find in the pages of the NYT, the WaPo, Time or (even) Newsweek: a genuine outsider's perspective. It's just a feeling, but I'm pretty sure that Digby doesn't spend a lot of time partying with the Washington blitherati, which means that Digby is operating more like a real person than like someone whose livelihood depends on being popular with a bunch of corporate shilling, alpha-girl Hill Tarts.

See, I don't know these people, I don't work with or for these people, and I don't care if they like me - I only care what they do, and I want them to do it well. If they don't, I am free to say so in a way that Klein and Fineman and all these other phonies never will be. They think they're good because they can be fired; we can be better precisely because we can't be fired.

There are, of course, certain honorable exceptions, but even there you have to be careful. Frank Rich, for example, can be very good and is far less likely than most to regurgitate right-wing spin than most of his colleagues so often seem to be. Still, I've had cause to wish someone would shake him (like when he repeats, years after they have been debunked, those same slanders of Al Gore that were so popular during the 2000 campaign). But "Bush of a Thousand Days" is a pretty good piece of writing, though there is this one significant flaw:

The demons that keep rising up from the past to grab Mr. Bush are the fictional W.M.D. he wielded to take us into Iraq. They stalk him as relentlessly as Banquo's ghost did Macbeth. From that original sin, all else flows. Mr. Rove wouldn't be in jeopardy if the White House hadn't hatched a clumsy plot to cover up its fictions. Mr. Bush's poll numbers wouldn't be in the toilet if American blood was not being spilled daily because of his fictions. By recruiting a practiced Fox News performer to better spin this history, the White House reveals that it has learned nothing. Made-for-TV propaganda propelled the Bush presidency into its quagmire in the first place. At this late date only the truth, the whole and nothing but, can set it free.
Well, I suppose that depends on what your definition of "free" is, but I'm disturbed to see yet another iteration of the old "it's the cover-up, not the crime" confection rearing its head again. This is only useful if you want to equate causing thousands of deaths, violating pretty much every meaningful clause in the Constitution, destroying any moral authority America ever had, looting our treasury, and wrecking our military with getting a blow-job.

Mr. Bush has not been lying about a parking ticket, and while confession may be good for the soul, his assertion that he has been breaking the law merely because he thinks he has a right to does nothing to clear the air - it's just a confession that, by god, he did break the law, he continues to break the law, and he hasn't even a shred of remorse for breaking the law.

The cover-up happens to involve some further criminal acts, and may have helped expose the administration to investigation, but the truth of the matter is that he has been breaking the Constitution in broad daylight and no amount of bare-faced honesty about the fact that he's doing it because he believes he can alters the fact that his activities are unconscionable. He belongs in jail not for covering it up, but for doing it at all.

And yes, he has been doing it in broad daylight, and I don't need to see the smoke curling up from the barrel of the gun to know it. Even at this distance I can see for myself what virtually the entire Washington press corps has declined to notice until years after it was obvious to anyone who was paying attention.

As noted earlier, it's well past time for the Stepford Press to stop believing the rubbish that comes out of the White House, but as Digby (of course) notes, they still aren't done with the charade:

Referring to Laura Rozen's provocative post (linked below) Kevin Drum wonders what's up with the press corps. Why are they buying this pile of sliced and diced baloney?

Two words: Tony Snow.

They are giving him "the benefit of the doubt." He's a nice guy. They are establishing a new relationship --- it wouldn't be nice to be skeptical of him before he's even had a chance to prove them wrong.

I have the horrible feeling that this may be true, even though there is no justification whatsoever for it being true. This White House lies, no matter whose lips the lies come from. Ari Fleischer spent the very first week of the administration lying about how the Clintons had trashed the People's Palace, and the press corps never seemed to absorb the fact that they shouldn't believe anything he said. Everyone who has spoken on behalf of the administration has pretty consistently lied since then, and the press still didn't have an inkling until remarkably recently - and yet, they seemed to think it was about Scottie McClellan rather than a function of the Bush Corporation itself.

Guys, don't you get it? The White House Spokesbeing is speaking for the White House, for the administration, not for himself. He is told what sort of information he is supposed to convey or conceal. He will mislead if he has to because that's what they do. They don't just spin, they lie. Tony Snow was not hired by a White House that has suddenly decided to be open and honest.

What, are they just hoping for someone who is a better liar so that people like you and me won't notice that the White House is lying and the press is falling for it? C'mon, it's too late for that.

Sitting in for Eric Alterman at Altercation, Eric Boehlert says:

Note that the same Beltway crowd that last year was telling us the Downing Street Memo was not news, is the same crowd insisting Colbert was not funny.
See, they just can't help drinking the Kool-Aid.

So, like, who would you rather believe - The Washington Post, or your basic liberal blogger?

As more and more people ask themselves that question, yes, the mass media - the corporate media - is facing a certain amount of competition. But they could easily stop the slide by doing their jobs. This would, of course, require them to fire some of the right-wingers of limited competence they've been taking on for the last 20 years and replace them with some people who actually give a damn. I think there are plenty to choose from on my blogroll.

17:12 BST

The beauty parlor's filled with sailors

This morning's WaPo has a front-page article called "Confident Democrats Lay Out Agenda" by Jonathan Weisman - good news for those who were waiting to see it, I guess. And I don't suppose there's anything remarkable about the piece except that it's on the front page and says the Democrats really do have an agenda that speaks to the very things that people are worried about. But if you read the whole article, you find that halfway through the second page, there's this:

This year, the House is engulfed in bribery and influence-peddling scandals that have forced the resignation of former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), sent former representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) to jail, and yielded guilty pleas from two former DeLay aides and former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

But those scandals are also linked to a Democrat, Rep. William J. Jefferson (La.), leading some Republicans to conclude they have been inoculated.

You can find the same sentiment all over the right-wing blogosphere, too - the idea that corruption that thoroughly infests the entire GOP power structure is somehow counterbalanced by a a single Democrat no one has ever heard of until now who is also dirty. Yes, he's dirty; he is also not the House majority leader, the Senate majority leader, the ranking member of every significant committee, or the Vice President of the United States. The whole GOP now seems to think that William J. Jefferson (D-Thanks a lot, buddy) is their Get Out of Responsibility Free card. And if the press is true to form, he might very well be, but the other refreshing thing about this article is that the "balance" on this isn't even in the first half of the article and is at the tail end of that subject.

And speaking of the VP, he sure is a paranoid loony, isn't he? (via)

The one true thing they've ever said: "Personnel is Policy": The Republican "revolutionaries" of 1994 were emphatically not idealists. They were crooks who made Washington as or more corrupt than it has ever been. But this is the sleight of hand people like Kristol are pulling to distract the rest of us from recognizing the one true thing they said at the dawn of the George W. Bush era: personnel is policy. Accordingly, the architects of today's mediagovernmental complex, in both the Republican party and the news divisions of our establishment media, must go. Any Democrat who fails to recognize the fundamental need to organize and to campaign directly against the sewer rats of this symbiotic axis is dooming the party to continued failure, and more importantly, the American people to continuous disaster and harm.

I believe it was Brett Butler who observed that when the Republicans bring their circus to town and the big red elephant craps all over everything, the Democrats have to come in and clean up the mess. It's just that I can't imagine anyone being able to do this big a job.

14:07 BST

Saturday, 06 May 2006

Just had to share

Personally, I think it's a bit late for Rick Santorum to start trying to rebrand himself as a Christian.

Echidne wades through Wingnuttia (so you really don't have to) for their reaction to the news that Zacarias Moussaoui did not get the death penalty for his thoughtcrime.

I've said over and over that the media's apparent fascination with sex scandals isn't about "what sells" or any of that. It's about the politics. It's partisan. It's conservative. It's Republican.

Beautiful! But then, I was bound to be a sucker for a story that so recalls Robert Nathan's Portrait of Jenny.

20:32 BST

Deluxe assortment

Digby and Laura Rozen had exactly the same thought I did: There is no way in the world I'm going to believe any spin about how Goss was forced out because he was defending the CIA against the political operatives above him. No way. (Also: Something has gone terribly wrong with the Air Force, why Good People don't have to obey the law, and the war on sex.) Oh, and Ana Marie Cox is a phony after all.

Christy Hardin Smith and Josh Marshall think Bush's plan is just to tread water until he can go on permanent vacation in early 2009, and too many of the rest of us seem to think it's just a matter of holding on 'til then, too. There is a strong likelihood that we really, really can't afford to take that approach. Unfortunately, whether people will ever wake up and do something still seems to be in the hands of the press, who are so somnambulant that they still can't bear to hear it when Colbert tells them straight to their faces that you can't believe a thing Bush says. Christy asks: how many times does this particular issue have to be exposed before it sticks with the corporate media? If it is an accepted fact at this point with regular folks like us, why is this something that is so protected within media circles? Is this just a question of protecting the access - or is it something else?

Nathan Newman joined the discussion of Sirota's book, and made some very good points about the weakness of the "moderate" argument against acknowledging that it really is a class war - and naming the enemy: Whether the language of 1936 is appropriate for 2005 can be debated, but no one should be able to pretend that the New Deal itself was not built on rhetoric that carefully defined the enemy of freedom as the monied interests. Meanwhile, the righties turn their eyes south, and employ some familiar rhetoric.

I'm pleased to see that the ACLU is challenging a sex offender ordinance that restricts where sex offenders can live.

Jonathan Schwarz at A Tiny Revolution was really inspired by the attacks on Colbert over the course of the week, it seems, from such examples as "Mary Matalin, World's Most Astute Comedy Critic", "My Email To Richard Cohen", and "History's Greatest Bullies". (You can play, too!)

"I Wish More Christians Loved Jesus" is RJ Eskow's "Christian hymn for the rest of us". It's posted on autoplay but for some reason didn't play here, so I had to go to the source code and download it. If you'd rather do that, I guess you could click here. (Lyric Footnote: Matthew 5:9.) Via Blah3.

To the post below about starting a journalists' association and having an award, "Conference call", Shayvartzgeleh suggests the awards be called the "Stones". Well, yes, I.F. Stone is obviously the best possible choice, and I'm embarrassed that I didn't think of it first. I even rather like the idea of being able to say that good journalists have "Stones", but I'm afraid I'm a stickler for convention in this regard, and would insist on calling it: "the Izzy".

18:43 BST

A little night blogging

Now that someone credible has pulled Rumsfeld's pants down in public, it's time to smear Ray McGovern, and Glenn Greenwald has found some incidences of it - but I can't do it justice, you gotta go read it yourself.

Think Progress has all the hot stuff on the follow-up to McGovern's stand up moment (here, where Paula Zahn gave him a hostile interview on CNN, and here, on the fact that the media has sidestepped the fact that Rumsfeld really was lying), and on Porter Goss' resignation, complete with the unsavory background - and the shock at the Pentagon, and the fact that Big Media seems to be way behind on the story, but even Bill Kristol knows this is about something that "popped" this week.

Kristol is smarter than Tim Russert, as Jane Hamsher notes Russert's assurances that Goss' exit was planned weeks in advance. And Russert's not the only one.

How Not to Fight Terrorism by David Cole in the WaPo: After four years, numerous appeals, millions of dollars, and a massive investment of government personnel and resources, the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui concluded Wednesday with a life sentence. Many have cited the case as an example of how difficult it is to try terrorists in civilian courts. In fact, it is an object lesson in how the government's overreaching has undermined our security. (via)

The Rude One on A Patrick Kennedy-Inspired Right Wing Orgy: Sweet Jesus, for the fine members of the right wing punditry, it's like Christmas, Easter, and Ronald Reagan's Birthday all rolled into one big package of crazy. (Also, Links To Bruce Springsteen's Performance At New Orleans Jazzfest.)

Thomas Nephew is back from his trip to Italy, and he's posted a nice photoset at Flickr, too.

03:49 BST

Friday, 05 May 2006

Conference call

The whole Equity Forum thing has been a low-level joke for the last week or two, and the event itself doesn't appear to have been much better. But having this kind of fake group to give legitimacy to people who can't get it anywhere else is not a new thing for the right-wing.

But it set me thinking that, given the pathetic behavior of the press as a group, it'd be a great idea to form our own journalists' association and have a conference where the panelists are people like Murray Waas, Paul Krugman, Joe Conason, Juan Cole, Glenn Greenwald, the folks from The Raw Story and Consortium News, and maybe a few other selected bloggers and professional journalists who actually take the idea of an honest, independent Fourth Estate seriously.

The thing is, the liberal blogosphere, from the beginning, has had real professionals who are knowledgeable in at least one relevant field (e.g., several are or were professional journalists for major news organs, some have actually worked in the White House, many are working lawyers or economists, and so on), and when they report, they are reporting knowledgeably, acting both as reporters and as expert sources. Much of the political reporting and analysis we get on blogs every day is of a far higher quality than what we see in Big Media on the same subjects. Some are providing material on issues that used to be in newspapers routinely but now we rarely see outside of the blogosphere at all.

So it seems to me worthwhile that we put more effort into talking up the kind of people who really do the job right, instead of the idiots we usually get elsewhere. People who cover real issues. People who resist being spun. People who understand that Big Media's biggest problem isn't the Internet or rude bloggers, but its own manifest failure to take its readers and their desire for real news seriously.

And, really, who do you trust? Is it the people who wrote this story, or is it the people the story is about?

We should celebrate good news coverage and analysis, and reward those who provide it. We could even have awards. We could call them, oh, the Seymours.

19:00 BST

You oughta see this

The absolutely must-see item from yesterday is Rumsfeld's sincere denial of being a lying jackal when concerned citizen (and 27-year CIA veteran) Ray McGovern interrupted a PR moment by asking for an explanation of why Rumsfeld lied when he said of WMD in Iraq, "We know where they are."

Bill Scher on The Importance of Cole v. Hitchens: High-profile arguments between pundits, experts or intellectuals can be distracting sideshows. But the online fight between U. of Michigan history professor Juan Cole and neocon writer Christopher Hitchens, over the accuracy of translated remarks of Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is important. And potentially useful in preventing the neocons from successfully re-running the Iraq playbook for Iran. And Weldon Berger (via) at BTC News says: The real issue, of course, is that Cole opposes an attack on Iran and Hitchens is in the process of gearing up to support one. It's important for him to marginalize anyone of an opposing viewpoint who wanders into his possibly unblurred sights. All part of the modern version of McCarthyism, of course.

"The Wanker Kings of Comedy" - the hapless Poor Man is just no match for funnyman Richard "Roflmao" Cohen. (Illustrated in ascii!)

She has a little list - my particular favorite was "malice of forethought", which I've seen a lot of, lately - not the phrase, just the malice. (And I'm sure I have Post-Dramatic Stress Disorder with great frequency - especially if my sister is involved.) But yesterday I heard Paul Hackett complaining on the radio about illegal immigrants flaunting the law, which is two strikes against him.

16:03 BST

Brain food and empty calories

Interesting discussion on net neutrality at Making Light, where Patrick quotes Cory Doctorow and critiques Mike McCurry's contemptuous treatment of his audience, while pointing out the dangers of regulatory capture. I like Graydon's suggestion that any provider that refuses to act as a common carrier has to take responsibility for what they carry - with full liability.

The TPMCafe Book Club is doing David Sirota's Hostile Takeover: How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government--and How We Take It Back this week, and you couldn't ask for a better forum on progressive wonkery - with David himself contributing to the discussion. An excerpt from the book is included.

It's hard to know what to say about this clip, and yet I feel I must pass it on. Via Your Right Hand Thief.

By my reckoning it's more of a halter-top than a bra, but it is edible. Via Elayne Riggs.

Blog to read today: Mia Culpa, where the posts are short and I like the cartoons.

13:02 BST

Thursday, 04 May 2006

A few things

Crooks and Liars, "Josh Bolton is considering doing away with televised Press Briefings": Chris Wallace asked if Bolton planned to do away with televised press briefings which is another signal that the administration wants to manipulate and silence the press. Chris uses the old " some people say" routine which really means right wingers who are angry that the press has the nerve to actually demand answers.

HuffPo has a review of Eric Boehlert's Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over For Bush: But was the story really that hard for journalists to decipher? As Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting suggested in 2004, what if the situation had been reversed and the shoddy Vietnam-ear attacks targeted Bush's war service? What if all the available documents showed that George Bush had fully completed his obligation in the Air National Guard with flying colors? What if virtually every member of his unit said he had been there the whole time, and had done a great job? And then suppose a group of fiercely partisan Democrats who never actually served in Bush's Guard unit came forward to claim for the first time--and 35 years after the fact--that Guard documents and the first-hand accounts were wrong, and that Bush really hadn't been present for his Guard service. Would the MSM really have had a hard time figuring out who was telling the truth, and would the MSM really have showered the accusers with weeks worth of free media coverage? (They also provide us with video of Pearl Jam performing "World Wide Suicide".)

Cat out of bag - a reader of Talking Points Memo writes to Josh after getting one of those RNC begging letters from Liddy: Says Dole, in her pitch: "If Democrats take control of the Senate in '06, they will cancel the Bush tax cuts, allow liberal activist judges to run our courts and undermine all Republican efforts to win the War on Terror. Even worse ..." Now, here you know it's got to be bad. Even I got a little worried and considered sending in some money since losing the War on Terror for America would already be a pretty bad thing for the Democrats to do. But ... well, let's rejoin Dole in mid-moonbat. "Even worse, they will call for endless congressional investigations and possibly call for the impeachment of President Bush!" Trying to inoculate themselves against the perfectly just charges against Bush, of course, but let's face it, they can't let go of power, or they will have to face the music. (PS. I asked Josh Marshall why I get that stupid Winfix pop-up every time I go to his site, and he says his site doesn't allow pop-ups so it must be something on my end. But it's always his site, so how can this be?)

23:43 BST

I thought you should know

Representative Ed Markey has introduced a stand-alone bill to ensure network neutrality, and blogged about it at The Huffington Post:

These telephone company executives are telling us that they intend to discriminate in the prioritization of bits and to discriminate in the offering of "quality of service" functions - for a new fee, a new broadband bottleneck toll - to access high bandwidth customers. We cannot afford to wait until they actually start doing that before we step in to stop it.

Yesterday, I introduced the Network Neutrality Act of 2006 (HR 5273) as a standalone bill. The Network Neutrality Act of 2006 offers Members a clear choice. It is a choice between broadband barons and average-joe cyber-surfers, between the pre-chosen voices favored by those in the executive suite and the wonderfully chaotic nature of the net, where a chorus or a cacophony of voices can emerge on any and every issue. At its heart, this issue is about safeguarding the Internet as a low-barrier-to-entry platform for innovation.

In short, this legislation is designed to save the Internet and thwart those who seek to fundamentally and detrimentally alter the Internet as we know it, and it is my belief that the unbelievable grassroots uprising that we have seen on this issue over the past few weeks will help propel us to victory and secure the future of the Internet for all of us.

You know what to do, peeps.

Yesterday's big news included the announcement that Vicente Fox was planning to sign a bill that would legalize "nearly every drug and narcotic sold by the same Mexican cartels he's vowed to fight during his five years in office." But after much whining from north of the border (particularly from the DEA), it turns out Fox has refused to sign. The NYT reports there was "intense pressure from the United States." Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice says: On the other hand, it's not over until it's over. Will Fox find that some legislators in Mexico's Congress balk at his request for revisions ostensibly on the grounds that Mexico shouldn't be shoved around by The Great Giant to the North? And then there's the question of the drug cartels' influence on lawmakers there. What role will that play in any proposed revision? But for now, at least, it seems as if Mexico will not go to pot.

Street Prophets Follow The Money: As promised by Chuck Currie at the end of last week, the Episcopal Diocese of Washington has released what by all rights should be considered a landmark study authored by former New York Times reporter Jim McNaughton tracking how a handful of wealthy political reactionaries has funded much of the current strife within the Episcopal Church in the USA, as well as fomented schism in the Worldwide Anglican Communion. Read the whole thing, if for no better reason than that it's an excellent introduction to the shenanigans of the "dominionist" right.

"In the long run, we're all dead," is the The Talking Dog's farewell to J.K. Galbraith, who he didn't always love, but learned to appreciate.

14:00 BST

Anatomy of a smear

It's just a small one, but you see how it works.

My girl Rachel dropped the ball when she forgot Rule #1, which is that right-wing talking points are based on lies. They work on the assumption that you will not know, or will have forgotten, that the basis of what they are saying is contradicted by the facts. When that happens, even the best opposition sometimes fails (and Joe Lieberman always fails, as he did during the Florida recount), because they forget that they are accepting the word of a liar.

Media Matters has the video of Tucker Carlson doing the Fake Question routine:

RACHEL MADDOW (co-host): If you want to have a debate about whether or not it should be illegal to doctor-shop and gets tons of OxyContin in Florida, if you want to have a debate about whether or not the drug laws are right, I'll have that debate with you. But the question of whether or not Rush Limbaugh was selectively targeted and got nailed here in a way he wouldn't have if he wasn't a right-winger is ridiculous. He's getting off with nothing when there was so much evidence against him. This is a case of great American lawyering.

CARLSON: I'm telling you he wouldn't have been prosecuted in the first place, but I am saying this is a perfect example for liberals to stand up. Most liberals aren't standing on principle, I guess, is the point I'm making.

MADDOW: Come on.

CARLSON: Where's all the -- I'm dead serious. Where is the ACLU? Where is all the -- the chorus of the anti-drug people, and I'm on their side, the anti-drug-law people, because I actually don't like drug laws that much.

MADDOW: Fair enough.

CARLSON: But why aren't they standing up for Rush Limbaugh? They're not standing up for him because they think he's a right-wing creep. That's why.

I'm surprised that Rachel didn't remember ACLU's amicus filing in the Limbaugh case, and I understand that she wanted to dispute the idea that Limbaugh was only being prosecuted because he was a right-wing nut. Obviously, Limbaugh was being prosecuted because he got caught. He didn't get caught because of some left-wing plot against him, he got caught because someone who worked for him didn't like being used for this purpose and tipped off the cops.

But even if you didn't know that the ACLU filed on Limbaugh's behalf, the fact that right-wingers are using the old, "Why did/didn't the left do X?" ploy should be the big clue that whatever they're saying, it ain't true.

In 2000, when Joe Lieberman was asked on television why Democrats wanted to disallow "military ballots" (mail-in ballots that were postmarked well past the deadline, or were improperly identified) in Republican districts, Lieberman should have pointed out that Republicans had happily disallowed such ballots in Democratic districts. But he didn't. Instead, he fell for the ploy and agreed that Democrats were bad for wanting to deprive the troops of their right to vote.

Rachel didn't, of course, sink as low as Lieberman, who always wants to leap at any chance to disparage Democrats. And, of course, Rachel was trying to make the right argument about whether Limbaugh had been legitimately pursued as a criminal rather than for reasons of his ideological stance. But still, it's a mistake to forget that when these people drag out this "evidence" of left-wing perfidy, the chances are good that they're making it up.

If you haven't seen the evidence yourself, your best response, always, is to demand a source. So Rachel's proper response should have been: "Who told you the ACLU hasn't acted to defend Rush Limbaugh?"

Remember: They're lying, so don't ever accept the assumptions of their questions.

12:27 BST

A couple of things

Sorry about the slack posting - it was such a nice day, I thought I'd walk.

George Galloway was Tuesday's 60-second interview. Several good lines, but we all loved this bit:

Will Gordon Brown make a better Labour leader?

Gordon Brown and Tony Blair are two cheeks of the same arse.

This is a little bit tardy but have a look at Angry Bear for a primer on the still-brewing plan to steal your Social Security money.

04:17 BST

Wednesday, 03 May 2006


I very nearly wrote something like this myself the other day, but Kung Fu Monkey has done it, so I don't have to:

If Colbert "bombed", it was because the audience didn't like him. And you know what -- they WEREN'T SUPPOSED TO. We have been treated to toothless feel-good comedy for so long, we have forgotten what the court jester's job was: he was the only guy who could mock the King. And, seeing as we now have a President who acts like a King, it's only fitting that Colbert revive the tradition in its truest form. If I remember correctly, the toady court followers were also fair game for the Jester, and we could hardly call the modern media anything less these days, can we?
(I disagree with KFM that comics really think differently from the rest of us. I think they are just better at making jokes out of stuff. We all laugh, however guiltily, at the dark humor if it meshes with what we know. The problem is that some people just don't know enough to get the jokes. Or, in Colbert's case, he told the jokes that needed to be told, and his audience needed to hear it - his whole audience - but the ones in the room with him just didn't want to. One of the commenters to that post, joshua, opined that Colbert hit his audience, but the people in the room weren't his audience, they were just props. I think they were both. But do read the comment from mediabloodhound, too. And keep reading for KFM's (Rogers) explanation for why Somerby is wrong about all this.)

Digby covers a lot of territory, from Colbert to Starr, in "We Weren't Born Yesterday". I was already planning to link that Josh Marshall item, but had missed Chris Bowers' "Teenagers and Adults: The Emerging Anti-Netroots Narrative" until now. Read them all, please.

14:44 BST


Skimble on Faith-based retirement: So the faith-based workplace turns out to be no better than the Church of Enron. Participating in your pension plan means losing all your money.

'Twas ever thus - Cory Doctorow with a reminder that there've always been blue-noses decrying the latest innovations. Via Epicycle.

I missed the story in the Grauniad about how scientist want to be able to use LSD in the lab, but Supergee found it.

I gotta admit, I was a bit baffled by the whole deal about Kate Moss. I mean, she looked like some kind of speed freak - were they really surprised? Doubt it. A lot.

Mikey draws an interesting parallel - but the trouble is, someone has to point out that this isn't just a game.

I really liked this picture NTodd took "Looking SE down our driveway last night". There's a quiz.

01:10 BST

Tuesday, 02 May 2006

Roadblocks on the Infobahn

You've still got time to exert some pressure for net neutrality, and mcjoan has a contact list for you at Daily Kos.

I think the thing that most worries me is that I've seen anti-nn posts on Declan's Politech list, arguing that libertarians should oppose it because it would restrict "innovation". This argument is obviously specious, since it is net neutrality itself that protects our ability to innovate, and elimination of nn would restrict such innovation. We've been innovating, because we could. The "innovation" being introduced is higher costs and more barriers to communication - and innovation. I think we've seen that before.

But having the techie libertarians - the people who previously have defended the freedom of the net itself - arguing against 'net freedom in favor of freedom of profits - is rather a frightening trend. (Here is a response at Politech to the silly argument.)

Former Clinton hack Mike McCurry, now shilling for the telcos, so misrepresented the issue that folks at The Huffington Post let him have it - resulting in an inane response in which McCurry rants about stupid Luddite bloggers who just don't get it that there has been no legislation before and we don't need it now. Hero of the day is Matt Stoller, who explains why this is not true - in fact, the common-carrier regulations that ensured net neutrality were voided last year, and that's why we are suddenly seeing all this damage.

And that's the real problem - everyone has been so distracted that they didn't notice that little ruling by the FCC that smashed the long-standing assumption of net neutrality that allowed us to do what we've been doing. It's a bit late in the day, but we should really be insisting that we get it back. There is no reason to allow the telcos to own the net. It was ours.

12:47 BST

Monday, 01 May 2006

A few good things

At Balkinization, Marty Lederman on A Blatantly Unconstitutional Federal Religion-in-Prisons Program: The Department of Justice's Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has established "a residential multi-faith restorative justice program" entitled Life Connections. According to the Department of Justice. [...] BOP is now soliciting proposals from private parties to act as contractors to administer the Life Connections program. According to this March 31, 2006, letter, the proposal is for provision "of single-faith, residential re-entry programs" at one or more of six pilot sites in the federal prison system. From all that appears, this program, and the funding that BOP plans to offer, is manifestly unconstitutional in several respects.

Greg Sargent at Tapped has a good question: When will reporters ask about Tyler Drumheller? Number of White House press briefings held since Tyler Drumheller, a 26-year veteran of the CIA and most recently head of European covert operations, told CBS's 60 Minutes that the White House ignored the fact that a top member of Saddam's inner said Iraq had no active WMD program: Five. Number of questions the White House press corps has asked about Drumheller's revelation: Zero.

Also via Tapped, "It Looked Fine At the Time: Moments of Optimism in Iraq" - celebrating all those moments when light has been seen at the end of the tunnel since Bush declared, "Mission accomplished," three years ago. And: For those of you looking for some weekend reading, all four parts of "The Politics of Definition" by John Halpin and Ruy Teixeira are now available. The article draws some similar conclusions to those made by our fearless leader, Mike Tomasky, in our current cover article.

Jane Hamsher says Colbert is funny, and right-wingers aren't. And thousands of people say Thank you, Stephen Colbert

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In The Huffington Post, Peter Daou on Colbert and the press: It appears Mash's misgivings about press coverage are well-placed. The AP's first stab at it and pieces from Reuters and the Chicago Tribune tell us everything we need to know: Colbert's performance is sidestepped and marginalized while Bush is treated as light-hearted, humble, and funny. Expect nothing less from the cowardly American media. The story could just as well have been Bush and Laura's discomfort and the crowd's semi-hostile reaction to Colbert's razor-sharp barbs. In fact, I would guess that from the perspective of newsworthiness and public interest, Bush-the-playful-president is far less compelling than a comedy sketch gone awry, a pissed-off prez, and a shell-shocked audience. [...] A final thought: Bush's clownish banter with reporters -- which is on constant display during press conferences -- stands in such stark contrast to his administration's destructive policies and to the gravity of the bloodbath in Iraq that it is deeply unsettling to watch. This may be impolitic, but wouldn't refraining from frat-style horseplay be appropriate for this man? Or at the least, can't reporters suppress their raucous laughter every time he blurts out another jibe... the way they did when Colbert put them in their place? (Via Norwegianity.)

Charles at Mercury Rising looked deeper into that NYT obituary dissing John Kenneth Galbraith and calls them on it: Galbraith was one of the few who foresaw how corrosive and damaging to US power and prestige its entry into Vietnam would be. Where was the New York Times? Stirring up the Cold War. Forty years later, Galbraith warned about Iraq. Where was The New York Times? Stirring up the War on Islam. Too right.

In Newsweek, Eleanor Clift: Nobody believes him. By not playing the overt political game, Gore may be putting in place the first issue-driven campaign of the 21st century, one that is premised on a big moral challenge that is becoming more real with soaring gas prices and uncertain oil supplies. A senior Democrat who once ran for the White House himself but harbors no illusions the party will turn to him in 2008 looks at Gore and marvels, "This guy is running the best campaign I've seen for president." (via)

Dday saw a panel with a remarkable line-up: "Ron Brownstein of the LA Times, the great Chris Hedges (Leaving Moses on the Freeway, War is a force that gives us meaning), and Caitlin Flanagan of the New Yorker (who's sharp-witted and a deeply committed liberal)." And...Joe Klein. Talk about your sharp contrasts!

Something I never knew about Abraham Lincoln.

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Where I lingered this morning

Via Atrios, Josh Marshall on how the Democrats' defensive stance on GOP attacks hurts them in the real political battle: This isn't just a good way to win political fights. It's also a window into the meta-message that often makes Republican attack politics so damaging for Democrats. If you think back to the Swift Boat debacle of 2004, the surface issue was John Kerry's honesty and bravery as a sailor in Vietnam. Far more powerful, however, was the meta-message: George Bush slaps John Kerry around and Kerry either can't or won't hit back. For voters concerned with security and the toughness of their leaders, that's a devastating message -- and one that has little or nothing to do with the truth of the surface charges. Someone who can't fight for himself certainly can't fight for you. At the time I called it the "Republicans' bitch-slap theory of electoral politics." Josh has some powerful advice for Democrats: "With respect to what's coming on Iran, what is in order is a little honesty, just as was the case with the Social Security debate a year ago. The only crisis with Iran is the crisis with the president's public approval ratings. Period. End of story."

"League of Dictators?" - Robert Kagan in the WaPo says: But the present era may be shaping up as, among other things, yet another round in the conflict between liberalism and autocracy. The main protagonists on the side of autocracy will not be the petty dictatorships of the Middle East theoretically targeted by the Bush doctrine. They will be the two great autocratic powers, China and Russia, which pose an old challenge not envisioned within the new "war on terror" paradigm. In other words, he totally ignores the great big red elephant in the room.

Steven Page of Bare Naked Ladies was on Canada AM discussing the Canadian Music Creators Coalition. He defended file-sharing and pointed out that the "decline" in CD sales (if such a decline exists) is really just the completion of a bubble-phase as people to a large extent duplicated their existing vinyl collections on CD. He also cited a recent study showing that people who share music online are actually more likely to buy CDs than those who pay for downloads. And in New York, Cheap Trick and the Allman Brothers are suing Sony for refusing to pay royalties for online sales on the same terms that they claim fans are "stealing" when they download music. Record companies want to sue you for supposedly breaching their license, but refuse to acknowledge your purchase as a license when paying their artists. Cory Doctorow asks, "But if Sony says that it's selling products (and therefore only liable for 4.5 cents in royalties to its artists) and not licenses, then how can it bind us, its customers, to licensing terms?" "Obviously, they can't have it both ways," says Dominic Thomas. Meanwhile, EFF rolls out an ad explaining the difference between real pirates and people who use new technologies to enjoy entertainment more conveniently.

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Rounding off the weekend

Christies Fiamme underwired non padded braBra of the Week - just don't even look at the price.

Eccentricity: Facing South has an interesting article today on estate taxes. They report that all this noise for repeal of the tax is being led by 18 wealthy families that stand to gain over 71 billion dollars by a repeal. Yes, that few can make a really large noise when they have huge amounts of cash to make it with. Evidently Bill Frist will stand to gain quite a bit, being the scion of a health network. No wonder he plans to lead the charge to repeal the tax.

It is slightly amazing that Charlie Savage at The Boston Globe has actually written a strong piece about how The Great Lawbreaker has given himself all the powers of Congress and the Supreme Court. Glenn Greenwald thinks it's a hopeful sign that the Globe is telling its readers what's really happening. It would be nice if the rest of the media finally came to grips with the true Constitutional crisis we are faced with.

Henry Farrell has a final farewell to J.K Galbraith that takes issue with one part of the NYT's obit, and also provides a good JKG quote: "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." Brad DeLong: "If there were justice in the world, John Kenneth Galbraith would rank as the twentieth century's most influential American economist." I think he did, once, before the lunatics took over. Read Echidne for more on what made the man special.

JT Davis, "Land of the Brave"

Everybody's talking about Colbert's complete failure to pretend Bush isn't a complete failure as a president. The right-wingers are sneering at "Colby" and his bad manners. It's just not funny to make fun of The Greatest Man in History. Editor & Publisher says the Little Prince was not amused. C&L has a clip. Atrios has posted his favorite bits from the transcript. Eli says its a "a must-watch speech/comedy piece." Christy praises Colbert for Colbert's command of a most difficult comedy format (and a most important one, too). Joe Gandelman says, contrary to the right-wingers' take, that Colbert did not bomb.

Blah3 discovers Tony Snow's Freeper posts taken down now that he's working directly for the White House - but points you to the Google cache. (via). (And then there's this - or make your own.)

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Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, May 2006

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