The Sideshow

Archive for May 2007

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Thursday, 31 May 2007

Stuff to check out

The legal profession is beginning to wonder if it isn't time to Disbar Gonzales: "Unless there is a special exemption that would allow this nation's top ranking prosecutor the right to, well, break laws and run afoul of any of the ethical and other conduct codes by the American Bar Association (which all other attorneys must follow), how does Alberto Gonzales still have a license to practice law?"

Media Matters report, Left Behind: The Skewed Representation of Religion in Major News Media, and Eric Boehlert on the egregious reporting of Jeff Gerth.

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the kitchen...

Glenn Greenwald sees the media going into high man-love for Fred Thompson already, just like they did for George "Regular Guy" Bush, but doesn't think he's so tough.

Stupid Republican history lessons - John McCain edition.

This looks like a useful book: Betraying Our Troops: The Destructive Results of Privatizing War by Dina Rasor and Robert Bauman.

Impeach Gonzales 2.0 - Robert Greenwald still on the case!

17:38 BST

Stalking the wild web

I keep hearing these stories about the TB guy and his honeymoon, and there's no mention of his wife. So where was she when all this was going on? The story sounds like he went to the wedding and was trying to have the honeymoon without her.

Troops in Iraq not too fond of Lieberman - He comes over and annoys them and doesn't even open his eyes.

Greg Palast, recommending Thom Hartmann's Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class - And What We Can Do About It, says, "The Future May Not Suck" - but there is a lot of work to be done. You can read excerpts from Screwed here.

You know, it's quite possible that he doesn't know what the meaning of "is" is.

Jeralyn remembers when Giuliani was just a creepy US Attorney. (But I still think Fred Thompson is dangerous.)

Stupid blogger covers own court case.

Verschärfte Vernehmung - Andrew Sullivan learns that this is the phrase the Gestapo used for "enhanced interrogations". But we're totally different! (via)

The Outing of Lou Dobbs

Have you been by Driftglass lately? Lots of good stuff.


16:28 BST

It's the news

Charlie Savage in The Boston Globe says the Justice Department is investigating itself about "whether Bush administration officials violated civil service rules by favoring conservative Republicans when hiring lawyers in the Civil Rights Division, the department disclosed yesterday in a letter to Congress. [...] While it was known that Goodling's hiring practices were under investigation, the letter made clear for the first time that the internal probe has now been extended to hiring by other administration appointees as well."

Illegal cager and Karl Rove drone Tim Griffin is resigning as US Attorney and being replaced with Jane Duke, who was originally told she was passed over for the job (illegally) because she was pregnant.

Cab Drollery alerts us to a story in the LAT saying that Tom Heffelfinger was on the firing list because he tried to protect Amerind voting rights.

Military now allowing amputees to return to active duty. "In an about-face by the Pentagon, the military is putting many more amputees back on active duty - even back into combat, in some cases." Jeez, in WWII, they took my father off the field because one of his eardrums was blown.

Isikoff in Newsweek wonders what really happened to captured terrorist leader Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi. He was supposed to be the really hot Al Qaeda terrorist who gave us the link between AQ and Saddam, but... well, you know how it is, you torture a guy, he says what you want to hear, then you stop torturing him and he says he only said that because he was tortured, and then... hm, he disappears!

Republican Nightmare: "Imagine a country where Americans are adored and where our president is admired as a great leader. Indeed, the locals have even placed an enormous portrait of him on one of the tallest buildings and named one of the two largest streets in their capital after him."

I now declare Joe Lieberman officially Evil. (via)

13:57 BST

Pay attention

Georgie Anne Geyer in The Dallas Morning News on A spreading terror:

The White House sees terrorists as born, not created by history, bearing the mark of Cain, not the mark of circumstance. There is a scarlet "T" written on their foreheads at birth and the only answer is to destroy them. This kind of thinking, of course, relieves the thinker of any responsibility for the presence of the insurgent-terrorist-whatever in our innocent midst.
That does seem to be the problem - they just don't seem aware that people react to what you do to them. It's hard to believe anyone can be this stupid. And there's this:
Friends of his from Texas were shocked recently to find him nearly wild-eyed, thumping himself on the chest three times while he repeated "I am the president!" He also made it clear he was setting Iraq up so his successor could not get out of "our country's destiny."
The God-Emperor has been pretty upfront about his intentions, and people like Joe Klein and Thomas Friedman and the myriad other lunatics who keep trying to act like everything is normal and it'll all be sorted out if we are just reasonable and polite can ignore it if they wish, but He. Is. The president! and unless we do something about that, We. Are. Cooked.

12:18 BST

Home and away

As you may have guessed, I have been obsessed today with stressing just how deep the threat to our civil liberties has been going, and how things you may not think of as problems really are dangerous - to everyone. And it's not just that the law is getting more and more invasive, it's that the means to monitor us to find our weakness have become so simple that the police can do so effortlessly - as Bruce Schneier details in this article about the degree to which we are now, thanks to the digital age, even helping to expose ourselves. (But just in case you don't, the courts are even agreeing to give third-parties the right to cede your rights on your behalf, notes Dominic in e-mail.)

On another topic, Don Fitch says* in comments: "One point I've not seen mentioned regarding our Primary Benchmark: if an Iraq Government does sign a contract ceding 3/4 of its oil reserves to foreign/U.S. Corporations, we can figure that this Government will remain in place ... oh, as much as four weeks after we withdraw our troops that maintain it, and the Government the Iraqi people replace it with will Nationalize the country's oil resources. Then, of course, we will have to invade and effect a Regime Change in order to "protect our legitimate business interests". *sigh*" Actually, I have thought about this, and wondered what makes them so sure the Iraqis would put up with this theft arranged by a puppet government and the puppeteer, but maybe their prescience here is just as good as it's been everywhere else - you know, greet us as liberators, flowers and chocolates, give us all their oil....


Cell Whitman tells me that this Farah guy really hates to be called "Joe".

Eli really didn't like David Brooks' "review" of Al Gore's book.

How You Put Ohio's Strip Clubs Out Of Business. (May not be work-safe.)

Why Democratic Political Consultants Love the Iraq War (via) BTW, if you've missed it, Brent Budowsky has really been on the warpath since the vote on the funding bill.

MediaBloodhound is not impressed when the NY Times Pens Love Letter to Giuliani.

00:50 BST

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

More on laws you don't need

In the thread* to the post below, Alan Braggins reminded me about the disastrous Operation Ore, the pride and joy of the porn cops which apparently ruined the lives of people who were already the victims of credit card fraud.

And scarlet p. reminds us:

Marijuana is a great criminalizing agent: half the working class in this country smokes it (practically the only psychological respite one can find from a dead-end job) therefore they're all subject to arrest.

The childporn on the computer thing's another catch-all: a teenager in Manila could probably put child pornography on millions of computers using a virus/trojan horse... hard not to believe the government could easily do the same.

Ah, but it's even better than that, because pretty much everyone uses cannabis or some other illegal recreational drug - but the cops only bust down the door in nice neighborhoods if they are already after you, personally. The rest of the time they just roust the poor and funny-colored neighborhoods. That also helps keep a lot of The Wrong People away from the polls on election day.

And QrazyQat wrote:

This reminds me of the situation in academia -- the big dossier. In academia, supposedly, you're to do several kinds of work all equally and equally well -- teaching, research, writing, outreach (explaining things to the community etc.), and service to the university (serving on committees, etc.). Very few people are suited to doing all of these, and even for the few that are, you just don't have time in your life, even with the typically long hours actually worked in academia, to do all equally and equally well.

So everyone has a dossier which, for everyone, contains things they've done wrong, poorly, insufficiently. If you play your academic politics right you never get called on this, because you have powerful enough friends to keep the dossier from being fully explored. But anytime someone really wants to get you, they have something, something true and valid, in your official record, to get you with.

And then added later:
Another example of the big dossier technique I forgot to include in my comment:

Army Captain James Yousef Yee was released last week from a military jail where he had been held for 76 days, mostly in solitary confinement. Although he was treated as a top spy suspect, the military has now charged with a handful of minor infractions including downloading porn and adultery.

Ah, yes, we remember it well. And there you have the formula - make as many things illegal as possible, and you have something on everyone.

22:20 BST

Breach of the peace

I was reading the collection of links at last night's entry at Epicycle and again thinking about the fact that when the authorities start pounding on the need for new laws to seal up "loopholes" that they claim have been created by new developments in a changing world, they are pretty much always lying, and the new laws are certain to create more problems than they will solve - if they solve any problems at all.

The United States existed for more than a couple of centuries without the Patriot Act, for example, despite the fact that - as the Revolutionary War had already demonstrated - oceans were no barrier to attack from outside. Of course, terrorism has been an unacknowledged fact of life in America since at least the Civil War, but for some reason terrorism by People of Swarthiness is such a serious threat that we have to throw out the Constitution in order to deal with it. (We have to destroy our freedoms in order to save them.)

Actually, I'd already started down that line of thought when reading about Alabama's very own Homeland Security department and their remarkably inclusive list of people who should be watched for potential terrorism threats - like gays and anti-war activists. We already know that the whole "Homeland Security" scam is, well, a scam, rife with corruption and what Bruce Schneier has dubbed "security theater" as well as an excuse to use the law to enforce prejudices that are in and of themselves unconstitutional to codify into law, but just how do people insist with a straight face that gay groups or people who are anti-war (including real pacifist groups!) are likely terrorist threats?

Then I saw the story about how Illinois busted its budget to defend a stupid law "regulating" violent and sexually explicit video games - a completely unnecessary law guaranteed to do more harm than good in the first place, and blatantly unconstitutional besides. Nevertheless, they used money they didn't have to try to keep that law, with the result that they've had to raid other departments to cover their costs - like the health department, the state's welfare agency, and the economic development department.

The fact that there is no evidence of any causal relationship between violent entertainment media and real violence never deters these people, but couldn't they just think about the costs of these things? Even if they didn't have to spend a million or so to defend these laws in court, implementing them would cost even more, so why do it? Do they think criminal investigations and prosecutions, not to mention the costs of keeping people in prison, are negligible expenses?

Similarly, the UK is now about to pass legislation to ban "extreme pornography", by which they mean material that portrays - even if it is all acting - BDSM and fringe activities. Included in the collection of "extreme" acts it will now be illegal not just to sell but to possess is, of all things, images of necrophilia. Is there any evidence that seeing someone play dead for the camera will cause people to become necrophiliacs or harm others in any way? Not a shred. But now we want the police to be hunting down such material - just in case.

And that's just one little thing. Think of the literally millions of people who over the last decade or so have accumulated BDSM images from the net or from their home video and digital camera set-ups - much of it images of themselves - all harmless activities that upset a certain segment of the population who just can't accept the fact that well over half a century of research and criminological data have found not even a hint that this material hurts a soul. Got anything kinky on your machine?

First they gin up fears about material that poses no threat to anyone, and then they gin up fears that technological advances have made it possible for lots of people to make or collect this material, and next thing you know the cops are claiming they need more and more powers so they can ferret out the illegal masturbators. What we're supposed to forget about is that we don't really need the police to be hunting down people who don't harm their neighbors. It doesn't matter if someone is staying home and masturbating to material we don't happen to like because they are staying home and not bothering anyone.

The police like being able to invade everyone's privacy on a whim, so they get up and tell you that there are warehouses full of child porn up and down the country, but they can't do anything about it because they have no evidence. Got that? They have no evidence that there are warehouses full of child porn all over the country, but they are sure they could find it if only they had the power to break down every door they encounter. Don't you want to give them that power? Can't you see how important it is that you can never again so much as demand a warrant to prevent invasion of your home by any creep who claims to be a cop?

And when they get these laws passed to allow them to pry more and more deeply into your privacy, do they use them to protect the public from harm? They do not. They use them to go after people they already don't like (gays, activists, whoever) and try to hang them for some trivial charge of possession of something that doesn't really matter anyway. Or they use them to cover their tracks when they've gone too far over the line and shot up some innocent person.

Remember that house in East London where the cops broke in and shot some guy because they'd heard a rumor that there might be someone who knew a terrorist living in that house? And then we all found out that it'd been a false lead? And we were all appropriately outraged that the police had shot an innocent guy, right? Boy, people were really mad at the cops, and demanding answers. Only... it's amazing how fast that anger dissipated when the police announced that they'd found child pornography on someone's computer in that house. I guess people felt like they didn't want to defend this family if one of them was, you know, one of them. But have we seen any proof that there really was any child porn? No, we haven't. We haven't heard another thing about it. We don't even know that, if there was child porn, it was deliberately downloaded. And we're supposed to forget that there was no originating crime that led the police to look for child porn in that house.

A while back a friend of mine who is a mining activist had his house raided for "child porn". The justification for this was that 25 or 30 years earlier, when they were going after him for being a gay activist, they'd tried to convince some kid he baby-sat for to say he'd tried to sexually interfere with him. The kid had insisted that nothing of the kind had happened, but you see, my friend now had "form", he had once been accused (by the police, not the kid) of child abuse, so now he was a "known" child-abuser. So here he was, decades later, annoying powerful mining companies, and the police suddenly appear on his doorstep and start going through his things. And, among his extensive collection of photography books, they found a book of Sally Mann's photographs of her children (on sale on any High Street) - and presto, he was busted. Among other things, that meant they took his computers and all of his notes on the research and activism he'd been doing related to the mining companies - in other words, it brought his work to a halt. Convenient, yeah?

Recently, the police wanted to get some guy, raided his house, and found nothing illegal there. But they found some drawings they didn't like. They couldn't bust him - because he had committed no crime and harmed no one. So now they want to ban drawings.

Now, think about this: How often have you heard about a case of real violence or abuse being turned up because the police followed a lead on porn? Presumably, the story would go something like this: The police hear about someone who has child porn or BDSM porn in his house, raid the premises, and find out he's actually been having sex with children or beating up women. Think hard: How many cases like that have you heard of?

The justification for these new laws is always, "If it protects just one child..." - but no one seems to care about the far more certain number of innocents (including the children of men who are unjustly accused) whose lives will be wrecked by the existence of these laws.

In Scotland, some people heard that a "pedophile" was living in a house, so they did the old pitchforks and torches thing and literally burned the place down. The alleged pedophile was not in the house. A child was there, and died as a result. So much for protecting the children.

Also in Scotland, a guy went postal and shot up some kids, so the authorities decided to ban more guns. Of course, the guns they banned had nothing to do with the shooting, and laws existed already which should have prevented this guy from being allowed around loose with guns, but the police hadn't wanted to be bothered with enforcing them. So law abiding gun-owners had to give up their guns because the cops were sleeping on the job. Now they want to ban fake guns (replicas) because the paranoia continues that real guns are out there, and the government wants to appear to "do something".

We are always told that the law will not be misused, and it always is. We are always told that we need these laws, and yet they never reduce crimes of real violence. We are always told... lies, because people with a little power want more power, governments want to control you, police want to get away - literally - with murder. No one will go to jail for the murder of Charles de Menezes or Amadou Diallo. We stoke the paranoia, we stoke the violence, we militarize our own existence and become terrorized by our own "protectors".

14:00 BST

Quick links

Conyers endorses national effort to impeach Bush, Cheney.

Richard Cohen is a drip. Trifecta reports.

Cindy Sheehan hangs it up.

Cindy Isn't Speaking For You Anymore - so you'll have to do it for yourself

.The Perfect Gift for your Republican Dad

"Why Is My Girlfriend Mad?" (via)

02:09 BST

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

I can't pronounce my dinner, but it sure was good

Congressman tells truth, is completely ignored: When Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) says: "Overthrowing Iran in 1953 was all about oil. Invading Iraq was all about oil. And the new secret plot against Iran is all about oil. Oil is the only benchmark this president and vice president want, and they will keep American soldiers fighting and dying until an oil law is passed in Iraq that gives Western oil companies control of the spigot. It is time to unmask the latest doomed plot to overthrow Iran and past time to get out soldiers out of Iraq. Nothing less than protecting our troops is acceptable," the press doesn't mention it. (Also: Online Chatter Grows for Gore, and Gore/Obama sounds good.)

After the Democrats' kabuki theatre so they could pretend to be innocent bystanders, one could be forgiven for believing that the Democratic leadership doesn't really want to get out of Iraq.

Boing Boing readers correct the record on the Venezuelan media "crackdown".

Atrios and Scott are right: Slipping a clarification of antidiscrimination language into a bill would go a long way to undoing Alito's dirty-work, and there's no reason not to try it.

Cernig recommends a thoughtful post at The Agonist on walking in your enemies' shoes that suggests the United States has been seriously harmed by failing to see from the viewpoint of others.

At Uggabugga, no surprises when David Brooks "reviews" Al Gore's recent book and is inane.

I'm not reassured to learn that Gordon Brown is another Tony Blair Christian.

Memorial Day at Blog From Another Dimension is about that thing that has been sticking in my craw: the way Bush treats the troops. My father, who benefited from the GI bill, who was injured and who throughout the shared years of our lives interacted constantly with the VA, is interred at Arlington, and this all still matters a lot to me. "This is not a man who could ever honor the troops, because of what he has done, unapologetically, and continues to do to the troops. This is a man who does not deserve to lick the boots of the men and women who serve where Bush fled, people who fought so Bush could steal their honor, soldiers who died so Bush could use their sacrifice as a political tool."

Spoiler T-shirt, (via).

23:55 BST

In the intertubes

You might want to contact ABC and ask them why George Stephanopoulos thinks it's appropriate to treat a conservative PR firm, The Heritage Foundation, as if they are a legitimate research-based think-tank. He could at least have the decency to refer to them as "the conservative Heritage Foundation" when he repeats their dishonest memes. They're a right-wing group and that means that pretty much by definition, they exist to lie. (Also: Another reason not to take Joe Biden seriously.)

Maybe I was a bit hasty about Chavez - I think directing a coup to overthrow the government from your broadcast station probably constitutes a sufficient act of treason to justify losing your broadcast license.

How Bush interprets the 2006 elections: "President Bush, confronted with strong opposition to his Iraq policies, has decided to interpret public opinion his own way. Actually, he says, people agree with him. Democrats view the November elections that gave them control of Congress as a mandate to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq. They're backed by evidence; election exit poll surveys by The Associated Press and television networks found 55 percent saying the U.S. should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq. The president says Democrats have it all wrong: The public doesn't want the troops pulled out - they want to give the military more support." (via)

There are good reasons to have reservations about Gardasil, and especially about giving it to an entire generation of girls, when all we really know about it is what Merck has told us. A bad reason would be, "Is it right to use schools to force the issue when, unlike polio, the disease cannot be caught through casual contact?" We're talking about vaccinating girls and young women, so people make the equation sex+little girls, and remember that they don't like the thought of little girls having sex. But it's a lifetime vaccination we're talking about, and the point is to give it to them before they have sex, which we hope they haven't been doing yet when they're still in school, against the day when they will almost certainly have sex. Yes, hard as it is to cope with, these little girls will grow up and be adult women who even their own parents will be pressuring to have sex (with a man) and provide grandchildren, and there is no guarantee that even the most chaste of unmarried women will find her husband to be totally chaste and utterly pure ever after. It may be the case that you can't get infected by "casual" contact, but that doesn't mean you get it only through irresponsible contact, or through choice. If your mother has it, for example, you can get it as you emerge from her body when she gives birth to you - not a choice on your part. Does the LA times realize that it's difficult to control, or even know about, the entire sexual history of a parent or spouse?

Serial No. 3817131 - images of young women in the Israeli army, by Rachel Papo. (via)

14:38 BST

And the hits just keep on coming!

Tony Blair sings from GOP hymnal: "Tony Blair has hit out at judges and opposition MPs for putting the human rights of terrorist suspects above the protection of citizens."

Right-wing blogger geniuses expose another journalistic fraud! Ever since they got Dan Rather fired, the 101st Chairborne Squadron has been looking for another victory, and they keep getting it wrong. Makes you wonder about the first time, eh?

Someone should remind John Murtha that the money Congress votes for the troops never gets to them.

The night Susie Madrak got some instant therapy.

OK, that's it: Hugo Chavez is definitely off my Christmas list.

Win a date with Ezra Klein!

I think changing the name of the blog from Thoughts of an Average Woman to The Crone Speaks was a pretty good choice.

MP3 of this week's Sam Seder show.

Aerial photo of post-1906 San Francisco Earthquake, (via).

11:46 BST

Monday, 28 May 2007

No one could have predicted...

...that Tom Friedman would be surprised. At Steve Gilliard's News Blog, Driftglass responds:

It has been a little over 80 years since Adolph Hitler publish "Mein Kampf" in which he explained in some detail what he intended to do: He intended to conquer Europe, kill 20 million Russians, and exterminate the Jews. He was very clear about all of this and methodically set out to check each atrocity off of his "To Do" list while a chorus of the Tom Friedman's of the age said, over and over again until it was far too late, "Well he can't really mean it.

"He won't really do it."

It cost civilization a bloody world war in which millions died and whole nations were destroyed to stop the planet from being tipped mechanized Dark Ages from which is may never have recovered. And one of the casualties that perished in rubble of the Third Reich was the excuse that, when evil people tell you what they plan to do, they don't really mean it.

Of course they mean it. In fact they say it extra loud and clear to recruit others to their depraved cause.

A fine rant, go read it all.

(Thanks again to D.)

[Update: Look, I just cut-and-pasted it. If Driftglass wants to fix the word omissions, I'm happy to edit it.]

23:54 BST

And I'll show you a young land, and so many reasons why

At Truthout, Ann Wright, "What Congress Really Approved: Benchmark No. 1: Privatizing Iraq's Oil for US Companies"

The Daily Mail, "Revealed: Blair's secret stalker squad - Fears that doctors could be used to lock up terror suspects without trail: The Government has established a shadowy new national anti-terrorist unit to protect VIPs, with the power to detain suspects indefinitely using mental health laws."

In the IHT, With allies in enemy ranks, GIs in Iraq are no longer true believers: "In 2003, 2004, 100 percent of the soldiers wanted to be here, to fight this war," said Sergeant First Class David Moore, a self-described "conservative Texas Republican" and platoon sergeant who strongly advocates an American withdrawal. "Now, 95 percent of my platoon agrees with me."

Bush: Bin Laden isolated, not leading parades - Got news for you, buddy: He's never been a pararde-leading kinda guy.

Undeniable Liberal observes Memorial Day... for his brother: "In his later letters toward the end of his tour of duty, he wrote that he wasn't sure when he was coming home, or how. He wrote that he could call from the airport for a ride, or just take a train from the airport to home and call from there, or just take a taxi and surprise us, but he wasn't going to waste any time to be back with his family. [...] On an unusually sunny and warm day for early April in Michigan, my mom was in the neighbor's backyard, chatting with the neighbor lady when out of the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of Marine Dress Blues coming up the front steps to our house. Mom was 40 years old at the time and she actually hurdled the bushes in between yards and ran to the front of our house with the express intention of hugging her first-born son. As she got to the front of the house, she saw the Priest, and the Marine in dress blues wasn't Dan." And the question remains: Why did he have to die?

Joe Vecchio's Memorial Day address.

There But For Fortune

20:09 BST

I don't know what to do, my head's in a haze

Even Andrew Sullivan understands what Cheney said at West Point: "Does Cheney understand this oath? Do the Republicans? The Constitution - not the territory, not the people - is what the U.S. government is constructed to defend. And yet the current administration clearly views that Constitution as very September 10. We have a year and a half to go under a president and vice-president with this view of the Constitution. If you are not worried, you should be." (Thanks to Roz Kaveney for the tip.)

Epicycle: "The worms turning - opposition against the government's ghastly [UK] ID card scheme is slowly spreading, it seems, with a recent report from the LSE calling for parliament to investigate the entire project following the increase of the official cost estimate (especially given that the scope of the project has now been cut back somewhat!) and a statement from a police chief constable saying that claims of the technology fighting terrorism are 'fatuous'."

Also via Epicycle, I see that Abu Gonzales is "is pressing the U.S. Congress to enact a sweeping intellectual-property bill that would increase criminal penalties for copyright infringement, including "attempts" to commit piracy." Declan McCullagh says it's unclear whether this bill will get anywhere, but it wouldn't hurt to remind your reps that the DMCA has been a disaster and that the whole business of digital rights requires a major re-think.

Joe Bageant revisits the Ghosts of Tim Leary and Hunter Thompson: "But the media also needs cultural outlaws, and allows a few of them either to serve as national examples of our supposed freedom of expression, or to serve as definitions of deviation from the norm and how it is punished. Tim Leary called it "The Outlaw Game," and he and Thompson were two examples of the outlaw's part in the superstate's instructive televised morality play. Real cultural outlaws are still allowed on stage. But to be acceptable to the corporate media state's manufactured reality, they must construct a persona (or be assigned one based upon what their behavior symbolizes) and maintain that persona, for which they are either rewarded, as Thompson was, or imprisoned as Leary was, according to the role they play out in the TV news non-reality show. Ever it was thus since the advent of television." (via)

Jon Stewart gets to the bottom of the US Attorney firings. Thank God!

Bill Maher's interview with Michael Moore.

A beautiful morning sky from Elaine.

Susie has a music post up, with a somewhat eclectic collection of YouTube clips, including Martha and the Vandellas' "Heatwave".

16:16 BST

Doing the right thing

Why Barbara Boxer voted No:

In March and in April I voted for emergency spending legislation that would have fully funded our troops in Iraq, but also changed their mission to a sound one. That mission would have taken our troops out of the middle of a civil war, and put them into a support role, training Iraqi soldiers and police, fighting al Qaeda, and protecting our troops.

The President will not agree to that.

As a matter of fact, the President won't agree to any change in strategy in Iraq, and that is more than a shame for the American people; it is a tragedy.

It doesn't seem to matter how many Americans die in Iraq, how many funerals we have here at home, or what the American people think. The President won't budge.

This new bill on Iraq keeps the status quo. With a few frills around the outside, a few reports, a few words about benchmarks. While our troops die.


And today, after several days of worrying and praying, we received the tragic news of the death of Private Joseph J. Anzack JR., 20 years old, of Torrance, California, who was abducted during a deadly ambush south of Baghdad almost two weeks ago.

One member of his platoon, Spc. Daniel Seitz, summed it up this way to the Associated Press: "It just angers me that it's just another friend I've got to lose and deal with, because I've already lost 13 friends since I've been here, and I don't know if I can take any more of this."

And he shouldn't have to. But with this bill, he will.

Elsewhere: Memorial Day, and quiet dissent.

13:33 BST

Buried op-eds

Rescued from behind the NYT pay-wall by diligent bloggers:

  • Bob Herbert: Arrested While Grieving: "Last Monday in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, about three dozen grieving young people on their way to a wake for a teenage friend who had been murdered were surrounded by the police, cursed at, handcuffed and ordered into paddy wagons. They were taken to the 83rd precinct stationhouse, where several were thrown into jail."
  • Maureen Dowd: Bush's Fleurs du Mal: The president is on a continuous loop of sophistry: We have to push on in Iraq because Al Qaeda is there, even though Al Qaeda is there because we pushed into Iraq. Our troops have to keep dying there because our troops have been dying there. We have to stay so the enemy doesn't know we're leaving. Osama hasn't been found because he's hiding."
  • Frank Rich: Operation Freedom From Iraqis: "While it seems but a dim memory now, once upon a time some Iraqis did greet the Americans as liberators. Today, in fact, it is just such Iraqis - not the local Iraqi insurgents the president conflates with Osama bin Laden's Qaeda in Pakistan- who do want to follow us home. That we are slamming the door in their faces tells you all you need to know about the real morality beneath all the professed good intentions of Operation Iraqi Freedom."
  • Paul Krugman: Trust and Betrayal: "And until belligerent, uninformed posturing starts being treated with the contempt it deserves, men who know nothing of the cost of war will keep sending other people's children to graves at Arlington."

11:22 BST

Don't let me sleep too long

Fitzgerald wants Libby to get three years: "While the disappointment of Mr. Libby's friends and supporters is understandable," Fitzgerald writes, "it is inappropriate to deride the judicial process as 'politics at its worst' on behalf of a defendant who, the evidence has established beyond a reasonable doubt, showed contempt for the judicial process when he obstructed justice by repeatedly lying under oath about material matters in a serious criminal investigation."

Tom Heffelfinger seems liberated by Goodling's testimony, because suddenly he's talking.

Fred Thompson: Watergate Hero Turned Plamegate Villain (via)

Cernig says Wiccans are finally getting their gravemarkers this Memorial Day.

Californians might want to have a look at this and ask your reps to protect the hills and pastureland from developers.

Dean Baker says the NYT doesn't seem to know who makes the law, but they can read minds.

Wake Me, Shake Me.

02:56 BST

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Blogger's notebook

Why did Karl Rove and Fred Fielding make a mysterious visit to the Senate?

Children are being burdened with more homework than ever, and though it seems to contribute nothing to their learning, it does deprive them of time to daydream and think. And it makes you fat. (Also: Warren Ellis says the web doesn't replace other reading, it just adds more to your menu, and this is a neat T-shirt.)

So, I guess the only sufficient evidence for prosecuting a rape case now is - What? - a confession?

Have some Ann Telnaes. (Thanks, D.)

Why is Marijuana Illegal?

23:31 BST

On the Infobahn

It used to be that being a US Attorney was a much-hungered-for position for a lawyer - but that was then. Steve Benen says: "Last week, we learned that prosecutor purge scandal had wreaked so much havoc at the Justice Department that no one wants to apply to replace Paul McNulty as the Deputy Attorney General. ("I'd rather trade places with Jose Padilla," joked Viet Dinh, a former senior Justice official under then-Attorney General John Ashcroft.) This week, we learn that no one wants to be a Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney, either." (Also: Cheney thinks the protections of our Constitution are a bad thing, apparently, but even Maureen Dowd can figure out that Al Qaeda can fight us over there and "over here".)

In the WaPo, a father writes, "I Lost My Son to a War I Oppose. We Were Both Doing Our Duty: Among the hundreds of messages that my wife and I have received, two bore directly on this question. Both held me personally culpable, insisting that my public opposition to the war had provided aid and comfort to the enemy. Each said that my son's death came as a direct result of my antiwar writings.

Ezra says the Democratic establishment hates John Edwards, and Paul Waldman seems to be hearing an eerily familiar theme: "...and the second element to this is the very similar feelings that seem to be evident among the press corps. I can remember a conversation I had with one prominent old-line liberal columnist about Edwards back in 2003, when he explained that the general sentiment among the cognoscenti, one he obviously shared, was that Edwards was just too big for his britches." Gosh, is it gonna be just like 2000?

At Lenin's Tomb, "How popular are New Labour 'values'?" Lenin says not too much. (Why, even the Queen is, as always, "concerned".)

Boy, they sure don't like Andrew Card at Amherst.

20:30 BST


Yesterday Walter Pincus and Karen DeYoung wrote in the WaPo:

Months before the invasion of Iraq, U.S. intelligence agencies predicted that it would be likely to spark violent sectarian divides and provide al-Qaeda with new opportunities in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a report released yesterday by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Analysts warned that war in Iraq also could provoke Iran to assert its regional influence and "probably would result in a surge of political Islam and increased funding for terrorist groups" in the Muslim world.
Republicans respond by saying things about the difficulties of prognostication, failing to note that when things are as plain as the nose on my face and backed up by thousands of years of history, it's not really that difficult to figure out what the effects of an action are. ("Sure, go ahead, sleep around with a bunch of guys and then tell him they were better in bed than he is - he won't mind!") None of this was that hard to foresee.

Jonathan Alter has an interesting view of things: Basically, if the public believes something that's totally wrong because the Republican spin machine keeps pushing it, Democrats can't afford to contradict it. Oh, that's not exactly what he says, but it's what it amounts to. The first rule people need to learn about dealing with lies is to stop repeating them. I hate to disagree with my friend keninny about this, but what Alter is doing is precisely what creates so many problems for Democrats - refusing to acknowledge that if you want to do the right thing and have people understand why you're doing it, you must tell them. Tell them the Republicans are lying about who is preventing funding from going to the troops, and that cutting off funding for the occupation does not mean leaving the troops high and dry in the desert. (Giving Bush what he wants does that, and has been doing so since the beginning.) Glenn Greenwald understands this, and understands that every time a Democrat caves in saying it's because we can't just leave those poor kids out there without proper funding, they are reinforcing the GOP lie, and thus making it harder to do the right thing. But, as MahaBarb reminds us, "It's not about our supporting the Democrats; it's about training the Democrats to support us." So let them know what you want from them, and that you'll have an eye on the primaries if you don't get it.

Elsewhere, watch Charlie Rose's interview with Al Gore from Friday's show. (Thanks to our beloved theoectomy for the tip.)

15:57 BST

American stew

Chantelle New Essensia T-shirt bra

Bra of the Week

I'm going to have to think about this for a while, but the discussion of term limits for the Supremes has been getting more play lately, and there are certainly good arguments for it, I think, but I need to adapt to the idea of making a great big change in a system that I've always thought of as being graven in stone. And then there's that old unintended consequences thing. And the fact that I can't help noticing who among our current justices has been on the court the longest, and what it would mean if they weren't there.

Ezra suggests that the Cheney problem may be even worse than I thought. Maybe we'd better impeach him just to prevent him from having Bush killed so he can attack Iran.

It's worth reading Jamison Foser's Media Matters article this week just to be astonished at how Jeff Gerth "defends" himself against the charge that he is the dishonest and biased little creep he really is.

Shrum and Dumber - Matt Yglesias vivisects "the man who thrice saved us from a Democratic presidency", in The Washington Monthly.

I think we should make a rule that from now on, the president and vice president must use the Surgeon General as their personal physician.

Bob Geiger's Saturday Cartoons collection, which also leads to Cliff Schecter's deft handling of the claim that the USA isn't doing real torturing like Al Qaeda does.

MadKane asks the question that wracks us constantly. (And sorry about your head exploding, hon - get well soon.)

01:12 BST

Saturday, 26 May 2007

I will give you caps of blue and silver sunlight for your hair

Have I mentioned lately how important and impressive it is that your Talking Dog has been interviewing the lawyers who are trying to defend the POWs and kidnap victims at Guantánamo, and even some of the released victims themselves, and posting them at The Talking Dog? I think now he's has become the expert journalist on this subject, and yet our fabulous media just doesn't seem to realize what a resource we've got here (for free!). Someday someone smart will put it all in a book. Meanwhile, the Dog has a new interview up, with Robert D. Rachlin, "counsel to two Guantánamo detainees, Saudi national Ghassan Abdullah Al-Sharbi, who was one of only ten detainees charged by the military commissions until that commission process was found unlawful by the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision, and Algerian national Djamel Amezine, who has not been charged."

Big Brother Gets Little Brown Brother to Spy On You For Him: "If it wasn't so filthy, despicable, illegal and subversive of everything the Constitution is supposed to defend us against, you'd have to applaud the slick way the US and Mexican governments are collaborating in spying on each other's citizens."

Indian outsourcing firms are using the [H1-B] visas to avoid hiring American staff, according to Grassly and Durbin, and I believe them. I don't believe any company that says they need to import tech workers into the US because they can't find them in America - I know too many good techies who have trouble finding work. They're there, they just don't want to have to pay them and treat them like they have the rights of American citizens. And foreign workers, even if they are in the country legally, are often easier to control. But everyone already knows the work visa system is corrupt, so why are they talking about it now? "Welcome to Congressional Theater!" says Charles.

I've always thought we could at least give the Republicans credit for creativity in creating such absolutely loony explanations for their policies, such as the incredible claim that if we don't fight them over there, we'll end up fighting them over here. And this week I learned that we can't even give them credit for that, because they don't even write their own material.

Lego Vegas (via)

Totally geeky blog, Whippersnapper's blog.

20:05 BST

Completing the mission

Via Atrios, I see that Glenn Greenwald is asking the musical question, "What exactly could war supporters do that they have not already done in order to lose complete credibility?" - presumably he means on Capitol Hill and in the press corps, because they've pretty much lost it everywhere else. He's referring to a silly piece in the NYT that once again reports administration claims as if they were true - no surprises there.

But astute commenter Jay Ackroyd points out that the article contains a serious case of burying the lede - the real story is that they are quietly admitting what the real "victory" will look like:

But they said the proposals being developed envision a far smaller but long-term American presence, centering on three or four large bases around Iraq. Mr. Bush has told recent visitors to the White House that he was seeking a model similar to the American presence in South Korea.
Like I've said before, there is no such thing as leaving after we've been victorious, because staying is victory. Bush has already let us know that leaving is losing because that's exactly what he means - the point is to stay there, so leaving really is losing - not "leaving because we couldn't defeat the Iraqi insurgents", not "leaving because Al Qaeda beat us", not even "leaving because America has no stomach for the continuing bloodshed", but even "leaving because Iraq is now a peaceful democratic society" would be losing, because the mission is to stay in Iraq, period.

16:46 BST

The best country in the world

Back in the dark ages before I even had a modem, I remember reading a very small story in the paper (probably the IHT, which means it probably appeared originally in the NYT or the WaPo - props to anyone who can find it for me) noting that, while other countries had tried to "modernize" in order to stave of reported impending economic disaster, Denmark had not bothered and yet was still doing well - better, in fact, than all of the countries that had "improved" their economic models. The story was written in such a way as to imply that there was just something odd about Denmark - like it was a Fortean factoid - and gave no hint at recognizing the possibility that maybe Denmark wasn't having all these economic problems because it didn't "modernize". But I thought surely someone would pick it up. I was so naive in those days....

But a bunch of mostly conservative think-tankies have gotten together to do something called the Economic Mobility Project, and the report they've released [I believe that organizations use .pdfs when they don't actually want you to read their materials], summarized here by Kevin Drum, with nice little graphs and everything, shows that Denmark is still way out in front on the very important measure of upward mobility, with declining mobility in direct proportion to the amount of "updating" each nation did. So in America, which led the way, and Britain, which so avidly followed America's lead that it even surpassed it in some areas, upward mobility is very nearly dead, while France, Germany, and Sweden, which picked up on some of the fads but balked at going all the way, are doing somewhat better - but Canada, Finland, Norway, and Denmark, which did more to avoid getting caught up in the fever, are apparently a lot more adept than any of them at following the American Dream.

Looking at that graph, Cactus at Angry Bear says:

Now what do all of those countries that are doing better than we are not have in common? Oh yeah, Reaganomics and Supply Side economics. Maybe these right wing policies just don't work. Which is what we've been saying (and backing up with data) here at Angry Bear for a very long time.
Which is, of course, why I love Angry Bear.

14:56 BST

Holy Cheney, Batman!

This is the headline over at Steve Clemons' Washington Note:

Cheney Attempting to Constrain Bush's Choices on Iran Conflict: Staff Engaged in Insubordination Against President Bush.

It starts like this:

There is a race currently underway between different flanks of the administration to determine the future course of US-Iran policy.

On one flank are the diplomats, and on the other is Vice President Cheney's team and acolytes -- who populate quite a wide swath throughout the American national security bureaucracy.

The Pentagon and the intelligence establishment are providing support to add muscle and nuance to the diplomatic effort led by Condi Rice, her deputy John Negroponte, Under Secretary of State R. Nicholas Burns, and Legal Adviser John Bellinger. The support that Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and CIA Director Michael Hayden are providing Rice's efforts are a complete, 180 degree contrast to the dysfunction that characterized relations between these institutions before the recent reshuffle of top personnel.

However, the Department of Defense and national intelligence sector are also preparing for hot conflict. They believe that they need to in order to convince Iran's various power centers that the military option does exist.

But this is worrisome. The person in the Bush administration who most wants a hot conflict with Iran is Vice President Cheney. The person in Iran who most wants a conflict is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran's Revolutionary Guard Quds Force would be big winners in a conflict as well -- as the political support that both have inside Iran has been flagging.

Multiple sources have reported that a senior aide on Vice President Cheney's national security team has been meeting with policy hands of the American Enterprise Institute, one other think tank, and more than one national security consulting house and explicitly stating that Vice President Cheney does not support President Bush's tack towards Condoleezza Rice's diplomatic efforts and fears that the President is taking diplomacy with Iran too seriously.


The zinger of this information is the admission by this Cheney aide that Cheney himself is frustrated with President Bush and believes, much like Richard Perle, that Bush is making a disastrous mistake by aligning himself with the policy course that Condoleezza Rice, Bob Gates, Michael Hayden and McConnell have sculpted.

According to this official, Cheney believes that Bush can not be counted on to make the "right decision" when it comes to dealing with Iran and thus Cheney believes that he must tie the President's hands.

And Juan Cole, who provides a Shorter Steve Clemons, says:
Clemons is very well connected in Washington and assures me he has multiple-sourced this story. It seems entirely plausible to me.
And I'm thinking, there is a way to spin this as just what it is: Bush being too weak to fight off a mutiny from Cheney and his gang. If it's said frequently and loudly enough, it just might reach him, and it could be what would make Bush dig in his heels, if he starts thinking he has to put Cheney in his place. That's just the kind of thing that seems to motivate him.

(Thanks to ks in comments for the tip.)

13:23 BST

Last night's links

I see over at Digby's place that the odious Jeff Gerth has a book out, celebrating his libelous past. The press seems ready to take him seriously, and the incomparable Bob Somerby is not really surprised that Gerth is as awful as ever and his colleagues still won't admit it. I went looking for Anthony Lewis' fine April 2000 review of A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President by Jeffrey Toobin, and The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton by Joe Conason and Gene Lyons, "Nearly a Coup", which for a long time was available free online in its entirety, but now you just get a teaser, I'm sorry to say. But looking for that found me the opening paragraph to another article by Anthony Lewis, "The Intimidated Press" (January 1989), which holds a painful reminder of just how brief the period of the truly adversarial press was in our lives.

(Also from Digby, a bit of Melanie Morgan having a really kinky conversation with Chris Matthews.)

Paul Krugman explains that large immigration waves don't just depress wages, they dilute democracy, and Mark Buchanan explains how the phenomenon of pluralistic ignorance helps distort our media and suppress normal reactions among the citizenry. (Also: The Deadliest Sin - Did you know that "I, Shrub" is an anagram of "hubris"?)

So, since when is making money not an American value? Ah, I see, it's that the American value is that whites get to make the money.

Two ridiculous arguments from Libby's lawyers.

Terry Gilliam says he's still trying to make Good Omens. Yeah, I want that. (via)

11:11 BST

Talk of the town

Here's the Senate voting tally - and you know the drill.
Phoenix Woman ponders why they did it.
David Sirota says they're bragging about it.
John Nichols agrees with Feingold that it was A Big Mistake.
Joan Walsh says: "This has been the bloodiest six-month period since the war began. If I had a child fighting in Iraq -- and like the vast majority of the American media and political elite, I don't -- I'd be furious that Democratic leaders were trying to bill their cave-in to the president as a victory."

Robert Scheer, Worse Than Watergate, Part II: "Having researched and written scenes for Oliver Stone's movie "Nixon," a devastating portrait of what we then presumed was the low point in the history of the American presidency, I can well predict the good use that a future screenwriter will make of this hospital scene to document the frightening reality, first effectively outlined in a book by John Dean, that the assault on American representative democracy during the Bush years has been "Worse Than Watergate." Dean was the White House counsel who broke with Nixon over that president's betrayal of the U.S. Constitution and who revealed the truth in a subsequent Senate hearing. By contrast, as Bush's counsel, Gonzales eagerly abetted White House crime, lied to the Senate and was rewarded for that behavior. The real culprit here, as in Watergate, is the president of the United States." And John Dean himself is scathing about AG AG, and suggests that Congress should have Gonzales arrested. (He also explains why we haven't heard anything more about the bribery case against Rep. Jefferson.)

A Conversation with Al Gore - conducted by Taylor Marsh, some bloggers ask President Al some questions. (via). And Molly Ivors reminds us of this song.

These costumes may not be work-safe. (via)

00:42 BST

Friday, 25 May 2007

Actual fiction

When I'm on the train I like to take my usual brain out of action and use the other one - the escapist one. I didn't used to read for escape, but lately I find it's a great way to get out of the fact that I'm trapped on a train, or on a plane, or in an airport, or... waiting. And since I had to fly to Dulles and back the other week, I took some books with me that happened to be by fellow bloggers I know.

I'd already read John Scalzi's Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades and was about three-quarters of the way through The Last Colony when I set out for Heathrow (which is a long trip in itself), and thanks to delays, I actually finished it shortly before my flight boarded.

I'm impressed with Scalzi's overall ability to give you a smart protagonist without making you feel dumb, first of all. The use of a naive viewpoint character who learns at the same pace as you do is generally optimal for exposition, so we are spared any unwieldy expository lumps while we learn about the fantastic set-up and weird tech. And his protagonist is an engaging guy.

I'm not even close to being the first person to make the comparison with Heinlein, but of course Scalzi doesn't have Heinlein's faith that war is inevitable and it's all about the fighting. Hints are dropped about the background politics in the first book, and eventually they become foreground for the third book, and it's done pretty smoothly, by my lights.

I like the way Scalzi solves the problem of getting smart, experienced people to sign on to being ground troops in military action, too; even I would be tempted. And the story resolves in a satisfactory fashion, as well.

However, I was hoping the book would last long enough to get me into the air - I like to be deeply buried in a story during take-offs and landings, which I still find the most unpleasant moments of a flight. At least I had another Scalzi to start right away, The Android's Dream. I was a little worried at first, because it starts off with assassination by farting, but it does rise above that. It's less serious in tone than the other books, and has some slapstick moments, but it's still got its bloody twists and turns. It also kept me from being too aware of take-off and landing.

Next up was a new one from Ken MacLeod, The Execution Channel. Ken's become much smoother in his transitions, and I found this book an easy and absorbing read, though I can't say it didn't have its unsettling moments. This one was more obviously plugged into contemporary events, although of course there were plenty of details that projected them into an even less pleasant future. It made a train journey disappear pretty quickly.

But, busy as I'd been on this trip, I still had more time to read than I'd expected, and I found myself wandering through Dulles knowing I didn't have that many pages left of Ken's book and I still had a long flight ahead of me, so I kept going back to the little Borders shop trying to find something that interested me that wasn't already in my house. Their sf section was pretty small and I wasn't in the mood for anything else. Eventually I noticed one I didn't have - Charlie Stross' The Atrocity Archives. I've been reading Charlie's Merchant Princes series and enjoying it very much, and was interested to note that in a way The Atrocity Archives is a sort of reversal of what he's doing in the series: both involve alternate worlds, but one is a science fiction story that feels like fantasy, and the other is one that involves all sorts of magic, but it's a science fiction set-up. (And that is considerably more satisfying than having actors suddenly spout a line of nonsensical numbers in that Doctor Who episode, I can tell you.) Thing is, I never really started the book on the plane, because I kept nodding off, and I didn't even finish the introduction - which, by an interesting coincidence, was by Ken MacLeod. And just to round up the coincidences, Charlie was at the pub later that night (with Feorag, of course), and was happy to hear that the Dulles Borders had his books.

So, while I won't say these were the best books I've read all year, they were definitely good ones.



The dirty hippies Young Rascals said: "People Got to be Free."

20:58 BST

Reality-based 72% looks askance

I don't know why I never noticed this sign before, but I guess it's the sister university to Unseen. (Larger image here, broader view here.)

Democrats afraid Republicans will say something bad about them (like they won't anyway). I guess that's more important than how many more die because they caved. Athenae lets 'em have it. More like this, please.

At least the four candidates came through and voted no, but I'd like to know what took Obama and Clinton so long to speak up. Taylor Marsh notes that Hillary's vote meant something, but talking like that before the eleventh hour helps a lot, and, as Obama has done before, these two didn't add anything to the debate until the last minute - awfully late in the game, and probably too damned late. Taylor also says: "Oh, and by the way, Senator Harry Reid voted yes. That should tell you everything you need to know." Yes, as a matter of fact. Even in Alabama, that's unnecessary. (You can hear Taylor rant about this on her show here.)

Look, the Democrats should have been standing up and pointing out that if Bush wants to give money to the troops, he's already been given lots of money that somehow hasn't gotten to them yet, and he could use that. He could go to Halliburton/Brown & Root and tell them that the money they have defrauded the public of has to come back so we can put it where it belongs. Yes, he could. That he chooses not to says everything anyone needs to know about him - as if there was anyone left who didn't already know it.

I think from now on the most important signs at any demonstration will be the ones saying, "No more stupid people in the Senate." I just can't believe how dumb these idiots are.

Hmm, I see Bill Scher is thinking along the same lines as I am.

Nevertheless, Clinton is doing one very important thing, and I'm with Berkeley Vox on this: "Support Clinton-Byrd: Deauthorize the War - If the Senate can't de-fund the war, it sure can de-authorize it. Proposed legislation from Senators Clinton and Byrd would make October 11, 2007 -- the five-year anniversary of the original authorization of use of force in Iraq -- the expiration date of that resolution. "

CNN: "Do you agree with Congress passing the Iraq war funding bill without a withdrawal timetable?" Go vote.

[Update: I had trouble getting through to both Cardin's ((202) 224-4524) and Mikulski's ((202) 224-4654) offices, and neither one could explain to me in any comprehensible terms why they voted for the bill. Cardin's guy babbled something about how the Senator feels we still have to support the troops, and I explained that giving Bush money has never given money to the troops before. Mikulski's person said she wasn't allowed to tell me and said she'd forward my call to their military affairs person - which sent me to voicemail. It costs me money to make these calls, so could you guys call them and tell them we want an explanation for why they voted Bush another blank check?]

In other news, a lot of people have been sending me the link for the last few days to Joss Whedon's rant about misogyny. Read it if you haven't yet.

15:05 BST

New news and old news

In Salem, Oregon, State Senator Alan Bates says he wants to run for the US Senate and replace Gordon Smith, because Bates thinks healthcare for Americans is a better use of our money than pouring it into the black hole of Iraq. Bates, a Vietnam vet, has come to the right conclusion: If you can't find a better candidate, you have no choice but to become that candidate. Folks, think about it - even if you don't win in a primary, it helps to get your voices out there. (Thanks to Little Thom (of) for the tip.) Beat Republicans, and replace useless Democrats. (Also: Sociopath of the Week: Dick Morris, and Why The Daily Show Kicks Ass.)

McClatchy's Iraqi Staffers: Please America, Just Go: "Order the troops to leave Mr. President. Afraid for the safety and the future of this place? Leave 20 thousands of your soldiers on both Iranian and Syrian borders and let us take over our own country."

Benefit staff to use lie detector: "Lie detectors will be used to help root out benefit cheats, Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton has said. So-called "voice-risk analysis software" will be used by council staff to help identify suspect claims. For the Conservatives, shadow work and pensions secretary Philip Hammond said Gordon Brown's obsession with a complex welfare regime was the real reason why so much was lost to fraudsters and cheats. He said: "This government's reaction to every problem is yet more Big Brother technology. Given that £2.6bn worth of benefits were overpaid last year alone, it's disappointing that this re-heated lie detector initiative is the best it can come up with." So, are the Tories the left-wing party, now?

Mark Morford wonders about something I've never really understood, either. (via)

Lend a hand to Project Gutenberg.

13:21 BST

Iraq capitulation bill

How did your Congresscreature vote? If they voted aye, call them up and say, "Why are you such a coward?" (If they're a Democrat, make sure to rub it in that they just demonstrated that the Dems really are weak on national security.)

If they voted no, call them up and thank them for standing up.

01:16 BST

Thursday, 24 May 2007

News you can lose

Atrios is trying to explain the obvious to one of the Lords of Slate again.

I'll try to make it easy: Britney's hair would be fine if it was just Rona doing her 30 seconds, or something like a human interest story or an oddity at the end of the broadcast to fill in, in case there's not enough real news - something you always schedule, but you can get rid of if something real comes in. But it really shouldn't hog the headlines.

It's very rare when you get genuine four-bell celebrity news. The rest of the time, news about criminal conduct by the Attorney General should be a top headline, and models and actors getting haircuts, or engaged, or showing a little too much flesh, that's the dead donkey, and it should never take precedence over the news we actually need to know - like who's trying to destroy Social Security this week.

17:28 BST

Watching the defectives

Fredo Gonzales comes up with a lovely excuse for illegally coaching Monica Goodling on her testimony: "The statements made by the attorney general during this meeting were intended only to comfort her in a very difficult period." Ahem. But Trifecta isn't laughing about witness tampering. (Also: Fredo's Revenge.)

Remember back in 2005 when Steven D exposed the Sith Lords of the Ultra-Right? It's not a joke, and it's sure not funny.

This, on the other hand, made me laugh, although I didn't want to. I have to warn you about it first, because ordinarily I would never, ever feel the slightest approval of this kind of mean, sexist, shallow, over-the-top - wait, it's about Maureen Dowd, and this is exactly the way she treats any Democrat who has the temerity to pop up on her radar, especially if they are running for president. (I'll see your Breck Girl and raise you one Tubesteak Messiah.) Should she get a taste of her own medicine? Only one blogger is truly equal to the challenge: The Rude One.

TBogg: You go to war with the cheerleaders you have, not the cheerleaders you wish you had....

Man, I wish I could make every one of them watch Keith Olbermann telling Congress to do the right thing.

14:32 BST

But I wandered through my playing cards

At The American Conservative, Gregory Cochran tries to piece together the things the administration and its supporters have said about history, and concludes that they come from an alternate world... in The Twilight Zone.

And speaking of history, it does seem to keep repeating itself. It's the same deal they made with Osama all over again. This is why we have to impeach these people: Because they will never again be able to serve in public office.

It's legal to help fraudsters defraud people - Teresa has this linked (as a Particle) as "Why we need European-style data privacy laws." It's true - over here, you can't run around selling your mailing lists.

Arthur is right, you know: caving in to Bush is aiding and abetting mass murder. And here comes the steamroll toward Iran, which they don't seem interested in stopping, either.

And John Amato is right: the Dems shouldn't cut Lieberman any more slack.

Chris Dodd tells it like it is.

11:20 BST

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Don't let them cave

Please, please call them and tell them not to give Bush another blank check. There is no upside to passing it, and no downside in killing it. Pass good bills and make Bush veto them; he's the one who loses when he does that. (Anyway, back when the idea of cutting off funding was first being talked about, didn't the White House say they didn't need it because, "There's already money in the pipeline"?) The public is getting wise to this guy - they know that if Bush vetoes funding, it's Bush vetoing funding.

Congress has handed over lots of money "for the troops", and yet for some reason damned little of it seems to get to them. Tell your reps: Don't vote for more money that won't go to the troops. Make the White House account for all the money they were already supposed to get, and explain why they still don't have enough resources.

And then get them out of there. There is just no earthly reason to stay.

(Rachel has more reasons not to pass a bad bill.)

Palate-cleaner: Some neat photos.

23:34 BST

The truth is out there

Josh Marshall sez: "It's interesting to note how the House Republicans continue to praise Monica Goodling for her testimony even as she admits to repeated criminal acts (namely, using partisan affiliation as a criteria for hiring career employees)." I was also fascinated by her interesting side-step of the caging question, where she pretends not to know that the reason the issue came up in the first place is that, when used for voting suppression, it's illegal.

McClatchy still forced to be better journalists than Stepford Press: "Staffers at McClatchy's Washington, D.C., Bureau -- one of the few major news outlets skeptical of intelligence reports during the run-up to the war in Iraq -- claims it is now being punished for that coverage. Bureau Chief John Walcott and current and former McClatchy Pentagon correspondents say they have not been allowed on the Defense Secretary's plane for at least three years, claiming the news company is being retaliated against for its reporting."

What year is this, again?

Got Pogo? Gary Groth is looking for Pogo strips.

We're watching television and this comes on, and we're thinking, "What is this one for? It's obviously not for perfume...." It's fun, if you haven't seen it yet.

21:01 BST

"Champagne for my friends, real pain for my enemies"

Large number of Americans favor violent attacks against civilians - Glenn Greenwald notes that the wingers are in an uproar after a new PEW poll "finding that while 80% of American Muslims oppose attacks on civilians in all cases, 13% said they could be justified in some circumstances." But dig this: "The University of Maryland's highly respected Program on International Public Attitudes, in December 2006, conducted a concurrent public opinion poll of the United States and Iran to determine the comparative views of each country's citizens on a variety of questions. [...] One of the questions they asked was whether "bombings and other types of attacks intentionally aimed at civilians are sometimes justified"? Americans approved of such attacks by a much larger margin than Iranians -- 51-16% (and a much, much larger margin than American Muslims -- 51-13%)." (And more here on the enemy within.)

If you've still got friends or family members who don't understand what the Gonazales/Comey/Ashcroft Deathbed Drama was about, you might want to send them Jerome Doolittle's illustrative text. (Also: A few words from FDR.)

Last night Rachel was observing that the Iraq debacle is now officially Clinton's fault, apparently because Bush got this stupid idea from him - and we all know that Bush worships Clinton's every word.

Jim Macdonald explains that 2005 happened after 2003, since this inability to recognize that all time does not occur at once seems to have become pervasive at the White House.

Robert Greenwald and say, "Impeach Gonzales."

17:43 BST

On the net

Coalition for Voter Integrity: "Greg Palast, "the most important investigative reporter of our time," on Voice of the Voters! Wednesday, May 23, 8-9 PM ET. Tune in to WNJC 1360AM or listen to the show live here or here from your computer." (Thanks to eRobin (of) for the tip.)

MediaBloodhound on The Eminently Relevant "Irrelevant" Jimmy Carter: "Ironically, completely lost as well in the mainstream media's surface discussion of Carter's criticism is how the former president's statement aims to begin mending the very image of America for which he's castigating this administration for demolishing. As John Nichols also notes: 'By making it perfectly clear that Americans are unsettled by their president's reckless disregard for the rule of law and common sense at home and abroad, Carter helps to separate Bush from America in the eyes of the world, which is a very, very good thing for the American people.'"

Too stupid for words: "Al Hurra television, the U.S. government's $63 million-a-year effort at public diplomacy broadcasting in the Middle East, is run by executives and officials who cannot speak Arabic, according to a senior official who oversees the program. That might explain why critics say the service has recently been caught broadcasting terrorist messages, including an hour-long tirade on the importance of anti-Jewish violence, among other questionable pieces."

This Week in the Unending War on Rachel Carson - time for more debunking, again.

A Fair(y) Use Tale (via)

15:25 BST

They will exile you from the garden

I'm not going to watch the movie of the stoning, but Digby's commentary is, as always, worth the read:

I think what is most amazing to me is that this doesn't take place in some tent in the middle of the desert or a stone hut. These people are not dressed in tribal garb --- they are wearing jeans and t-shirts and the whole thing takes place in a street in what appears to be a modern town. It isn't the Moqtada al Sadr brigade or Al Qaeda extremists ---it's not part of the civil war although according to the article, many Iraqis are trying to rationalize it as such. This is nothing but barbaric patriarchal violence perpetrated by our alleged allies, the Kurds, toward a teen-age girl.


This is the fault of primitive religious fundamentalism, which is across the board, in every culture, contemptuous of women.


This is the reason why it's so important to preserve our secular, reason-based constitution and fight against this horror of government endorsed torture and indefinite imprisonment. It is a very, very thin line between civilization and barbarism and every step we take away from the rule of law is a step toward becoming that primitive mob of killers. After all, I'm sure they felt justified too.

When our Constitution was signed, two things made it stand out and brought praise and admiration from all over the world. One was the idea of rule of law from which no one was exempt, in a country without any kind of a king. The other - the thing that made us genuinely, literally unique, was that we had written the secular nature of our government into law, maintaining that there was no religious test for public office, no state religion, a wall of separation between church and state.

The conservative movement's goal has always been to overturn both of those fundamental principles, and they are doing it. They must be stopped.

On a related note, see the trailer for Robert Greenwald's The Big Buy: Tom DeLay's Stolen Election.

03:19 BST

Each night I ask the stars up above

So, what did you read in your paper about National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD 51—Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-20? Steve Bates explains: "Continuity of constitutional government, MFA: Bush is establishing a basis for proclaiming himself dictator at some future time, during some unspecified catastrophe. Any bets on whether that will happen shortly before the 2008 elections?" (Also: Looks like China is returning the favor that the USA has long done for the rest of the world.)

Bad Murtha: He's an old school pol and he isn't interested in ethics rules.

A couple of items from Rachel Maddow:
"One of the greatest instances of burying the lede ever was in a big front page story in the Sunday New York Times this weekend. The US giving a billion dollars a year to Pakistan, to reimburse the military in Pakistan for helping out in the War on Terror. But buried 29 paragraphs into the story is this little tidbit. The folks we're funding...are supporting the Taliban."
"General David Petraeus, the US Commander in Iraq, today wrote an open letter to the Iraqi people, asking for their help to stop the violence. How does he recommend they help? In the letter he asks the Iraqi people to "Deny the enemy shelter." No word from the General on who the enemy is exactly. "

Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy on the exchange in the Grauniad between Naomi Wolf and Alan Wolfe about creeping fascism in America. "Because Cassandra is right."

Dion: "Why Must I Be A Teenager In Love?"

00:43 BST

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

What they say

Guess what Dean Baker saw: "Horror Flick at USA Today:Return of the Granny Bashers XCIV USA Today decided to get its entry in the summer horror flicks out early, The Return of the Granny Bashers XCIV tells readers how the affluent elderly are ripping off their children and grandchildren by collecting Social Security and Medicare (ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!). This horror story is so chock full of misleading information that it's difficult for this reviewer to know where to begin. "

Digby: "Following up on his earlier post about the American Legion (which I also wrote about here last week) Rick Perlstein reminds us all that the dirty hippies weren't the only ones who treated the Vietnam Vets like dirt. Indeed, the American Legion was among the worst offenders."

Nitpicker on Republican claims that ex-presidents don't criticize sitting presidents: "Republicans criticized Clinton throughout his presidency, beginning with an op-ed by Ronald Reagan less than a month after Clinton had taken office. "I can't refrain any longer," Reagan wrote about his 29 days of biting his tongue. George H.W. Bush promised not to criticize Clinton for a year, but he couldn't make it nine months without bitching about the then-sitting president, something he continued to do throughout Clinton's presidency. He once even argued that Clinton was trashing America's reputation overseas, saying, 'The trials of the present will soon pass away and once again our country will be respected and strong around the world.'" (via)

The Carpet Bagger Report "NPR reported yesterday that the administration is considering a "lily pad" strategy that would maintain a strong U.S. military presence in Iraq for several decades. As NPR explained, '[W]hat it essentially envisions is a series of military installations around Iraq, maybe five or six of them, a total of maybe 30-40 thousand U.S. troops in Iraq for a long period of time, lasting, maybe a few decades.. And that will enable the U.S. military to maintain a presence in the country.'"

I just heard Hillary Clinton on the radio talking about how the weapons inspectors in Iraq "had been kicked out in '98". Ahem.

23:28 BST

News and views

I think Brent Budowsky is right that Gore/Obama is the dream team: "The incumbent has divided us against each other, and has divided our generation from future generations on almost every level. Future generations will pay the price of misdeeds and mistakes today, from debt to war to pollution. Gore-Obama is about the future, about the kids, about the generations to come and about an America that would once again believe that it is our sacred obligation to leave a better world to the kids and to the generations that follow. Gore-Obama is about who we are, the standards we set, the future we build, and the great aspirations that should once again be our mission as men, women, Americans and citizens of the world."

I see via Tapped that David Ignatius is reporting on a bold new White House post-surge plan to - and you are just going to be amazed at the novelty of this - train the Iraqi troops to take over and stand up so we can stand down. Why didn't someone think of that sooner? Isn't it brilliant? Have you ever heard anything like it? Oh, yeah, it's particularly good because it's bipartisan! That is so cool. Gosh, I am fantasted. *sigh* When are they going to figure out that the only bipartisan action that will change our course to disaster is impeachment? Oh, I forgot, they're paid not to.

One America - We'd rather be Dems, and we're putting our money where our mouth is - even in the deep south, where Dems are out-raising Republicans by significant margins.

Jake Tapper says Gore's The Assault on Reason is "a Searing Assault on the Bush Administration". (And there's a video clip, too.)

The answer to this is easy: Impeach them both.

At last: Sam Seder podcast for Sunday, 20 May.

20:20 BST

Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel

The Fraudulent Fraud Squad - You may remember that we noted a strange group no one had ever heard of before (and which was two days old when Bob Ney had them testify in Congress) called the "American Center for Voting Rights". There were obviously one of those class GOP groups created just for the occasion, but here's a funny thing: They've disappeared. As soon as the whole USAtty scandal started turning the heat up on the GOP vote-suppression campaign, their website (which included postings of their Congressional testimony) and their postbox shut down. Oh, "and its general counsel, Mark 'Thor' Hearne, has cleansed his résumé of affiliation with the group. Hearne won't speak to the press about ACVR's demise." Not that they didn't do damage, mind you - a lot of new measures designed to prevent low-income Americans from voting have been instituted to prevent the nonexistent threat of Mickey Mouse trying to vote illegally. Richard L. Hasen has a run-down on the whole "voter fraud" scam in Slate.

Court Rules in Favor of Telecom Firms: "WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Monday sided with the nation's largest local phone companies in a lawsuit by consumers alleging anticompetitive business practices. The court ruled 7-2 that the suit lacked any specifics in accusing the companies of secretly agreeing not to compete in each other's territories for local telephone and high-speed Internet service. ... In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens objected to a federal judge's dismissal of the case. Stevens said federal rules, previous rulings and "sound practice mandate that the district court at least require some sort of response" before throwing out the case. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined Stevens in dissenting."

Paul Kiel has the latest document dump, and invites muckrakers to help go through them and see if there are any nuggets hidden in them.

Banana Republicanism, Minnesota Style - The Democrats are trying to deliver necessary and popular legislation, but they can't override a governor's veto. There's a lot of that going around.

Which reminds me - please call your reps and tell them there is no downside to submitting strong bills that Bush will veto. It doesn't matter. He doesn't do anything for the troops anyway, even when he is given the money, so there's no reason to give him the money. The public knows Bush is holding the troops hostage. The public also knows that when the Democrats back down for Bush, they're being wimps. That's why AP keeps releasing stories saying that Dems are backing down (even though they don't appear to be true) - because they know it makes Dems look bad. Tell them they were elected to keep Bush from getting what he wants, so don't just give him weak bills because he will sign them. Write good bills and make him veto them; the public will know who the villain of the piece is.

"I am never going to hire another woman because they just get pregnant and leave."


15:39 BST

Assorted fruits and nuts

A child of Dr. Laura - As I keep telling you, the really dangerous people are the ones who were raised with Republican Family Values: "I LOVE MY JOB, it takes everything reckless and deviant and heathenistic and just overall bad about me and hyper focuses these traits into my job of running around this horrid place doing nasty things to people that deserve it . . . and some that don't." (Thanks to Charles in comments for the tip.)

Lis Riba revisits the ticking time bomb scenario with some old quotes worth remembering. (Always did like that Henley post.)

Gary Kamiya on Why Bush hasn't been impeached: "America finds itself married to a guy who has turned out to be a complete dud. Divorce -- which in our nonparliamentary system means impeachment -- is the logical solution. But even though Bush cheated on us, lied, besmirched our family's name and spent all our money, we the people, not to mention our elected representatives and the media, seem content to stick it out to the bitter end." Actually, I think it's a mistake not to mention the media, without whom the very real movement for impeachment loses a lot of its steam. Impeachment of Clinton happened without the consent of the public because the media openly lusted for it; impeachment of BushCo. founders because the media persists in acting like our on-going Constitutional crisis is just business as usual.

I don't know about you, but I think it's hilarious that the Republican leadership ignores right-wing blogs because they know perfectly well they are not a source of original thinking. Nobody sends liberal bloggers talking points, because we are better at generating our own than the leadership is. (And when they do try to influence us, we usually argue with them, because we're smarter than they are.) But the situation is reversed on the right-wing, where all of their blogs repeat the same talking points that come down from the top. As Jane Hamsher says, a lot of them are created by wingnut welfare, but the bottom line is that even the GOP is embarrassed by them. (And I just love the idea that they have to fight the "liberal bias" of YouTube. I mean, c'mon.)

13:25 BST

Why defend porn?

Since I kinda have to do it all the time, I don't usually spend a lot of time here answering these questions, but my remarks about Garance's proposal below have generated those questions in comments from dead wood, so:

I mean, what I wonder is: what is so *worthwhile* about porn?

I'm lucky; my own head generated all the sexual fantasies I needed long before I ever even heard of porn (and when I did see porn, I was baffled, because it bored my ass off). But if I hadn't had those fantasies, there were times in my life when I wouldn't have felt like I had anything good. Everyone has times like that; no one should have to deny themselves what little pleasure they can find when they're feeling lonely, depressed, whatever.

And, as I understand it, there are a lot of people (mostly guys, apparently), who don't seem to be able to generate those fantasies independently without a little visual help. If that's what they need for it, I say they should have it.

The only thing that baffles me more than why people need porn (rather than finding inspiration inside their own heads), is people who don't understand the value of being able to get really hot.

What is the great societal good that it delivers, that can justify the massive damage it does?
Er, what exactly is this "massive damage"? Everything I know from decades of looking at more than half a century of clinical, criminological, and laboratory research data tells me that the most damaged people aren't the ones who saw a lot of porn, but the ones who come from sexually repressive backgrounds where they probably saw no porn, or were punished for looking at if they did see it.
Yes, I know that there are at least four genuine, admirable feminists out there who enjoy some kinds of (relatively non-standard) porn.
I know a lot more than four of them.

This in contrast to the 99% of porn consumers who are women-hating men who consume images designed to hurt, humiliate, and degrade women.

I know lots of men who use porn, but I don't actually know a lot of woman-haters.

I also know several prostitutes who tell me that the scariest clients they've had were the ones who were anti-porn.

And I think it would be good not to libel millions of men we don't know and don't know anything about. They're interested in sex, and most of them are attracted to women, and I don't think we can assume they are woman-haters just because they like to have sexual fantasies about women.

By the way, my own research on porn did not find a lot of "images designed to hurt, humiliate, and degrade women," it found lots of images that were intended to sexually arouse men, most of which were just pictures of naked or semi-clothed women, or pictures of people having ordinary sex. Even within the subgenre of BDSM material, it is incorrect to assume that it is "images designed to hurt, humiliate, and degrade women."

So you think the minor jollies you get from watching whatever porn you happen to like is worth defending the whole institution? Worth fighting tooth and nail against any restrictions? This I just don't get.

I think people have a right to get those jollies, which in unhappy times are not just "minor" and might just help people get through another miserable day.

But that's not where I start. I start with knowing that every damn time someone passes some kind of anti-porn law, it gets used to:

  • suppress all kinds of content that challenges repression and oppression
  • reinforce negative sexual stereotypes
  • invade the privacy of people who pose no threat to their neighbors, and even
  • to frame people who are making powerful people uncomfortable.

But it never ends up protecting anyone. More importantly, it does not destigmatize female sexuality - quite the reverse. Constantly telling men that their ordinary sexual desires are disgusting and wrong is exactly how we keep women sexually stigmatized.

00:43 BST

Monday, 21 May 2007

Things to check out

Howard Zinn in The Pasadena Weekly on Impeachment by The People: "The time is right, then, for a national campaign calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney." It's up to us, folks - let your legislators (both state and federal) know how you feel. Not just your Democratic reps - all of them. Make them hear the parade and want to get out in front of it.

Jeralyn sees "about the scariest article I have read in a while" about the growing number of evangelical law schools.

Atrios says this, which is much like what I said last October in "Helpless".

I can't cope. Not only is Seder reduced to once a week, but it's on right in the middle of prime time over here, when I would prefer to socialize with Mr. Sideshow and watch TV and stuff like that, so I can't listen to it live, and worse still, I can't find an archive stream. Damn, damn, damn.

"I'll torture Jack Bauer!"

Hours of Darkness - gorgeous night photography. (Thanks to Rich for the tip.)

23:52 BST

Where did the spring go?
I'm cold, and Haloscan has been mean.

Don't forget to tell the FCC you want net neutrality.

Paperwight: "As I watch the gradual opening of the box of writhing vermin that is the US Attorney scandal (ably covered by the usual suspects), I want to write a little bit about one aspect that I think it's really getting much coverage: the lack of accountability created by 'decision by consensus'." He's talking about the DoJ, but I can't help thinking this applies to Democrats who think that holding the administration accountable consists of writing polite letters to the White House and cabinet members. I wouldn't mind, if the consensus they were going by were that of the voters, but it isn't - it's purely a Capitol Hill game. (via)

Sandra Day O'Connor sounds like she really regrets voting for Bush. In fact, she even sounds like she's sorry she retired.

Chris Hedges says, "The Christian Right's Fear of Pleasure is Our Greatest Threat to Choice: "The war against abortion has nothing to do with the protection of life. It is a war against an open society -- a cover for assaults against sexual pleasure and personal choice. [...] The leaders of this movement understand that the only emotion that cannot be subsumed into communal life, which they seek to dominate and control, is love. They fear the power of love, especially when magnified and expressed through tender, sexual relationships, which remove couples from their control. Sex, when not a utilitarian form of procreation, is dangerous."

At The Poor Man Institute, a report From the Industrial-Strength Fainting Couch of the Washington Post.

The Bushistas are afraid of Jimmy Carter.

The faces of cronyism - bookmark this for later when their names start popping up in the hearings.

Thanks to D. Potter for news that Fats Domino can still do it.

Bill Maher's Touching Tribute to Jerry Falwell

18:15 BST

Chilly again

Sorry, I've been distracted by boring things and grumpiness all day. Here's some links:

Lance Mannion is saying Garance isn't playing fair, and he's right. Why is it so hard to understand that you can be concerned about the damage that may come from appearing in Girls Gone Wild without endorsing Garance's plan to raise the age of consent for posing to 21? Swear to God, if I'd known this was the kind of thing we were unleashing back in the late '60s when we were trying to get people to acknowledge the existance of child abuse, I wouldn't have done it.

We could have used this article back in 1993 when the Republicans were making all that fuss about gays in the military. Plenty of us were pointing out at the time that other countries that didn't discriminate were not having problems with it. "The officer, a squadron leader in the Royal Air Force, felt he had no choice. So he stood up in front of his squad of 30 to 40 people. "I said, 'Right, I've got something to tell you,'" he said. "'I believe that for us to be able to work closely together and have faith in each other, we have to be honest and open and frank. And it has to be a two-way process, and it starts with me baring my soul. You may have heard some rumors, and yes, I have a long-term partner who is a he, not a she.'" Far from causing problems, he said, he found that coming out to his troops actually increased the unit's strength and cohesion."

I always thought the anti-communists were really envious of what they imagined to be the cold efficiency of the Soviet state. While everything I knew about the USSR told me it wasn't efficient at all, they all seemed very surprised when the wall came down and it turned out to be much the kind of mess I had expected. But, apparently, some of them are still envious of the Soviet Union, because they think it was more butch than America.

So, Edwards looks to be the winner against all comers in Ohio polling right now.

Bill Gibson still not holding breath for film of Neuromancer.

16:55 BST

Sunday, 20 May 2007

"Never eat more than you can lift"

Kevin Drum, on learning that the Iraq war is becoming a fine motivator for sending funds to Al Qaeda: "Say it with me: We. Need. To. Get. Out. The sooner the better." We really do. George Bush has been the world's best salesman for the jihadist clash-of-civilizations worldview.

Bill Moyers in The Nation, "Small Magazines, Big Ideas: It's time to send an SOS for the least among us--I mean small independent magazines. [...] An impending rate hike, worked out by postal regulators, with almost no public input but plenty of corporate lobbying, would reward big publishers like Time Warner, while forcing these smaller periodicals into higher subscription fees, big cutbacks and even bankruptcy. It's not too late. The Postal Service is a monopoly, but if its governors, and especially members of Congress, hear from enough citizens, they could have a change of heart. So, liberal or conservative, left or right, libertarian, vegetarian, communitarian or Unitarian, or simply good Samaritan, let's make ourselves heard."

Brendan O'Neill provides just a few of the reasons to hate New Labour that many of us harbor. You do have to wonder how crazy things can get when things like this go on. (Also: America's right-wing capitulators to radical Islam.)

You heard it here first: Remember when the buzz (so to speak) was that bees were being killed off by mobile phones, and I said that, yeah, if I were Monsanto, I'd want people to be thinking it's mobile phones? Well, funnily enough....

19:16 BST

The eternal search for coffee

Pour Moi? St Tropez full cup braBra of the Week

So, have ABC and CBS decided to report the news, yet? What do you think?

Proof that Matt Yglesias is smarter than what's-their-names at TNR.

Why are Democrats having such trouble refusing to fund training of people to kill each other and our troops?

He may be full of racist crap, but perhaps there is a bright side to Ron Paul.

Laura Croft arrested. Really, there are too many people out there with guns - and they're in uniform. (I like the photographer's name, too.)

Lance Mannion on Mark Steyn's idiotic idea that all of evil liberal Hollywood shunned Elia Kazan.

It's not that they weren't also dishonest and stupid, but could they really have believed this would work out? Maybe they were just so PR-oriented that they couldn't even be straight with CentCom, but they were fairly honest with them about not giving a damn about Afghanistan, so... GHW Bush was right, they really are crazy.

Ratzi: I swear, you cannot caricature this guy.

13:26 BST

Choice morsels

Glenn Greenwald has More fallout from the Comey revelations and reports back on the panel discussion he had with Laurence Tribe and Bruce Fein.

Carter blasts Blair on the BBC: "So I think the combination of Bush and Blair giving their support to this tragedy in Iraq has strengthened the effort and has made the opposition less effective and prolonged the war and increased the tragedy that has resulted.""

Shamanic at The Newshoggers on The Imperial Party: "More importantly, does the GOP believe, as a core philosophy, that Republican presidents are entitled to unlimited power in pursuing all enemies, foreign and domestic? If so, this needs to be addressed in the open and called what it is: a tendency towards tyranny."

Vast Left says the poll Time included with their cover story on Al Gore is biased, and has the screen shot to prove it. (Help me out, here, I couldn't find the poll.) (Meanwhile, guess who's in third place among Democratic contenders.)

On the bright side, Time also has a rave review of Michael Moore's new film about the inadequacies of the American healthcare industry, Sicko, and a short interview with Moore as well.

Your Talking Dog interviews Tina Foster, who has been coordinating the attorneys doing pro-bono work for the POWs/kidnap victims at GTMO, and doing some pro-bono work herself, among other things.

Courtesy of Jody in Paris in the comments, a little present from Tom Paxton. Updated lyrics, but a reminder of the olden days when people could write political songs with good scansion.

01:54 BST

Saturday, 19 May 2007

"Politics is an honest effort to misunderstand each other"

"Their Master's Voice" - It's so refreshing to see the NYT (as opposed to liberal blogs) acknowledge that the reason Bush's courtiers behave like a bunch of criminals is that they work for a criminal who wants them to do these criminal things. Via Maru.

Mysterious CIA agent finds mysterious papers he can't read and asserts that they connect Padilla to Al Qaeda.

Did I mention I was worried about this stuff?

Garance continues to try to defend her thesis on porn.

Democrats get date-raped again on immigration.

Just don't be alone with right-wing religious nuts. They're dangerous.

Speaking of which, an appropriate tribute to the late afterlife insurance salesman Falwell, with a little help from George Carlin.

The Keyboard Kommandos: Broderella Discovers America!

Everything else, from Progressive Blog Digest.

22:50 BST

I saw this

In a little contretemps with David Broder, David Sirota gets some help from Media Matters when they point out that the boom of the '90s occurred when President Clinton did not have fast-track authority, thus refuting the idea that fast-track is necessary for America's economic security. Sirota's series on the secret trade deal continues with Secret Trade Deal - Day 8. And Bernie Sanders says No More Bad Trade Deals.

Mike Finnigan has several interesting links in yesterday's Blog Roundup, including one to The Largest Minority's post, "Bush Administration Admits Middle East Peace Efforts are All for Show: At a closed-door meeting for Jewish Republicans, US Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams assured the group that current efforts to further the Israeli-Palestinian peace process were being done simply for show. Abrams described the diplomatic activity as "process for the sake of process," done to "assuage the Arabs and the Europeans, who haven't been happy with the United States [and are] happy to see that there's at least an attempt or energy being put into the peace process." Can they be any scummier? (And, oh, yeah: Impeach, already.) (And get well wishes to Bo Diddly, of course.)

Cheney's argument for immunity is that he's the same as the president; Big Tent Democrat argues that he's not the president. Meanwhile, Jeralyn notes that our valiant anti-terrorist administration has hit another snag in the Padilla trial when a witness says the "terrorist training camp" was not, in fact, a terrorist training camp.

Remember this? It's funny how few people do. But the phrase to keep in mind is: confirmation hearings.

18:34 BST

He said it

Ladies and gentelmen, Mr. Charles Pierce:

OK, I'm convinced.

Impeach him. Impeach them all. Start chucking people into the hoosegow for contempt, and as material witnesses. Stuff this White House so full of subpeonas that it bursts. Blow this government apart.

I held off on this because I thought the process was both legally unjustifiable and politically futile. I believe it is still the latter. The difference is I don't care any more that it is. The Comey testimony -- coupled with the astonishing arrogance it takes simply to ignore congressional subpoenas as though they were something someone slipped under your windshield wiper -- pushed me all the way over the edge. The president spied on Americans and thereby broke the law. Repeatedly. The president was told he was breaking the law by members of the Department of Justice who had no reason to lie to him on the subject. (John Ashcroft noticed, for pity's sake.) The president knew he was breaking the law so he sent the White House chief of staff and the White House counsel out to behave like Mr. Wolf in Pulp Fiction. (Sorry, Andy Card. I liked you when we were both young and ambitious in Massachusetts, but it's off to Allenwood for a spell until you come clean.) The clean-up crew failed, and he kept breaking the law anyway. Repeatedly. They spied on their political opponents. They used their steroidal view of executive powers to justify it in their tiny little minds. That's what they're hiding. I have no doubts any more that the administration has committed more crimes than we know. And every day they remain unpunished -- hell, every day they remain in office -- we become more deeply complicit in their offenses. It's time to govern ourselves again.

This can't be a matter of political calculation any more. It simply can't. It's a fundamental question of what kind of government we want to have.

02:22 BST

Perpetually awaiting a rebirth of wonder

Jonathan Schwartz is talking about the tools Congress has to prevent the administration from attacking Iran, but with this bunch, I just don't see it. There's only one way to stop them.

I guess conservative Democratic Senator Ken Salazar finally got the message that there's no percentage in continuing to back Gonzales. I wonder when people will remember that there is always a remedy when you have a member of the cabinet who shouldn't be there. And Gonzales really, really shouldn't be there.

Democrats are running out of excuses for not voting for Feingold-Reid. If you have a Democratic Senator who didn't support it, maybe you should call and ask them why. (Also: Dems really need to make clear to the public that Republicans are obstructing the domestic agenda that Americans voted for in November.)

Here's something I am surprised to learn: Chalmers Johnson explicitly stated that in the '60s, he was wrong and the hippies were right. But vindication should make no one jubilant; it would have been better if we'd been wrong about it all, then and now.

Digby pounds home the message that Bush is personally on the run, now. They should chase him.

What you scrape up from the bottom of the barrel.


Sidney Blumenthal, "All hail the king: Loyalty to Bush is the ultimate royal principle of the imperial presidency. The ruler must be unquestioned and those around him unquestioning. Allegiance to Bush's idea of himself as the "war president," "the decider" and "the commander guy" is paramount. But the notion that the ruler is loyal to those loyal to him is no longer necessarily true. While he must be beheld as the absolute incarnation of kingly virtue, his sense of obligation to those paying homage has become perilously relative."

In case you didn't guess that Freepers are slow studies: "I'm done with him on this and many other issues. I'll never vote for him again." (Er, you were planning to?) They're calling him "Jorge". Oooh! (via)

The spend and spend party.

01:03 BST

Friday, 18 May 2007

Things to read

Looseheadprop at Firedoglake has an interesting analysis of Comey's testimony that notes that it raises a lot of questions about what the backstory to the Night of the Hospital Visit might be. (via) And the even neoconservative Washington Post this morning seems to be interested in some of those questions, too - including What did he know, and when did he know it?

Both the NYT and the WaPo are carrying a Reuters story in which Al Gore says he still isn't planning to run but won't shut the door on the idea, because, apparently, there are unlikely circumstances under which he would run - but he's "fallen out of love with politics." Meanwhile, Dave Johnson and James Boyce say, "We Guarantee Al Gore Will Be Smeared Next Week: Al Gore has a new book coming out next week, and because he is telling the truth and a Democrat and Progressive leader, Al Gore will be smeared by the right-wing smear machine -- we must respond at the first attack." Time's cover story on the book is already out, which will likely be the trigger.

My thanks to D. in comments for alerting me to Jon Carroll on the war czar: "The shame lies in staying. The shame lies in continuing to participate in what is now obviously a civil war. The shame lies in leaving increasingly brutalized and angry soldiers on a distant battlefield to fight a bewildering war. The shame lies in continuing hostilities only because the policymakers have not learned how to say "oops.""

21:06 BST

Links for dinner

You know you're mainstream when agrees: As you may recall, MoveOn was created to push for censure (as an alternative to impeachment) of Bill Clinton. At the time, polls were asking people which of these two choices they preferred, and two-thirds of Americans chose censure, while the remaining third (who would have been happy to impeach Clinton on the 21st of January 1993) wanted impeachment. But when the papers finally ran a poll offering three choices, one-third of Americans chose doing nothing at all to Clinton. So really is the center. And now they've created ads to run in the districts of Steny Hoyer and Carl Levin saying it's a shame they won't do what their constituents want and vote to halt funding for Bush's war. Help them pay for advertising time.

Then read an excerpt from Al Gore's The Assault on Reason.

Rachel Maddow's Campaign Asylum - Falwell's Ghost Haunts GOP.

Traditionalist Bias - The media likes studies from which it can be inferred that women in traditional roles are happier or have happier children than women who are less traditional.

Doesn't John Bolton make you proud to be an American?

Paul Krugman looks at the Republican field and thinks they're no worse than Bush, because that's all Republicans are willing to elect. (NYT)

Tom Schaller thinks Giuliani made a fatal mistake - the same one he thinks Gore made.

I'm glad to know that Paradox at The Left Coaster feels the same way about Diane Feinstein: "Dianne Feinstein is a Vichy Democratic traitor to all liberals, voter for elitist insane regressive taxation, war, cruel bankruptcy rules and pharmaceutical ass-kissing Medicare legislation, just to start on a long list of her heinous votes. Soft American journalism propaganda treats her as a corporate-enabler untouchable, the consequences of her actions are never, ever written or broadcast about, and she totally walked to an easy election victory last November. That's why she said something so infuriatingly stupid yesterday about a vote of "no confidence" for "expressing the will of the Senate" about what to do concerning our felon Attorney General. Steve briefly notes the screamingly obvious below: why not just impeach Gonzales? Because Dianne Feinstein is a stupid Vichy Dem, that's why, Vichy Democrats make ridiculous weak tactical statements without Majority Leader direction that release the guilty from any responsibility, don't solve the problem, empirically demonstrate powerlessness and discourage the liberal base."

Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait - photographs of a bunch of stuff. (via)

17:41 BST

Waiting for prom night

I'm listening to this episode between Glenn Greenwald and The Politico's Ben Smith, where Glenn tries to impress upon Ben that when liberal bloggers complain about a pro-Bush or pro-conservative/Republican bias in the media, it's not the same complaint the right-wingers have when they complain about "the liberal media". But I don't think he gets to the nut of it, which is that even reporters and commentators who think of themselves as liberal have gotten into the whole mindset of being less interested in the facts and what they really mean for the public than in a kind of gossip-column, high-school girls mentality, and the clique they are hanging out with is conservatives and Republicans. Glenn hints at this, but lets Ben get away with way too much.

Look, just about everyone who didn't love him called Nixon "a crook", but campaign coverage in the major papers did not constantly allude to this the way we now repeatedly hear Edwards called "the Breck Girl" - or the way it was impossible not to know from the papers that the right-wing was calling Bill Clinton "Slick Willie".

And for the last eight years, I have not seen constant recognition in the press of the fact that just about anyone who isn't in love with Bush has a large vocabulary of derogatory terms for him that indicate he is childish, arrogant, dishonest, and probably brain-damaged, as well as being an anti-Constitutional crackpot, mob boss, and traitor. He's "the Chimp", "Flight-suit Boy", the "drooling moron", and a mass-murderer (and torturer) besides. We also refer to him being a cry-baby throwing tantrums, and talk about his demented and embarrassing public statements and behavior in the presence of other national leaders.

Little of that is reflected in most of the pontificating and reporting that appears in the mainstream press, unless it is also accompanied by dismissal of "Bush-haters" as too obsessed with hating Bush to see the good in him - even though most of those corporate mouthpieces can't describe anything good about Bush themselves, when pressed. Yet every insult the RNC devises for Democrats flies quickly around the media, and sometimes they even invent them themselves. We all endlessly saw those purple-heart bandaids and heard every sneer about Kerry that started with the Swift-Boat Liars and worked its way outward, but did the media even point out that George Walker Bush literally drooled over the podium during one of their presidential debates?

The fact is that it doesn't even matter what political views the reporters think they hold. What matters is that they have for at least a couple of decades been molding their work according to their personal feelings rather than any attention to real issues, and their personal feelings are that somehow the dweebs and loonies who work for the Republican Party are "cooler" than Democrats. So it's always open season on Democrats and liberals, and there's been precious little a Republican or conservative mouthpiece could do or say that has been seen as going too far.

They called Gore a liar when he wasn't lying, and they refuse to come out and call Bush a liar even though he obviously is. They're calling Edwards a phony even though they don't seem to have any evidence of it (there may be evidence of it, but only real reporters would do the work of finding that out), but they never seem to think it worth mentioning that George Bush wears cowboy boots though he refuses to ride a horse.

And they don't think they're biased. Right.

14:30 BST

Media excursion

Julia (of) has been feeding me links, like this letter to Romenesko: "From JAMIE COLE: On Byron Calame's departure as New York Times public editor: his columns were dignified, erudite and utterly without zeal in regard to reader concerns. Much like his predecessor, he had far too much aplomb to get his hands dirty. It wasn't until Daniel Okrent left his post as the first public editor that he began to give opinions that had some bite. It's true there are many issues that readers have passions about (guilty as charged). But I imagine some of those readers just may be right. I hope the new public editor has a little less class and a little more moxie." I couldn't help but think, "Debbie Howell has less class...."

And Charles Kaiser's letter noting that Tommy Thompson completely reversed himself on the right of employers to fire gay employees within 24 hours (and the media's seeming uninterest in the fact that he had first advocated the right to fire gays), and news that Melanie Morgan is no longer welcome at The Newshour after her shrieking performance there opposite Jon Soltz of brought a deluge of complaints. (Of course, Bill Moyers is getting complaints along with the praise, too. The letters from the wingers are kinda funny, in the usual creepy, stupid way.)

13:08 BST

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Keeping an eye out

Tyler Cowen is in the NYT lying about the cause of income inequality. It's all very well to say that lack of education may be part of the problem for some, and it is certainly true that the decline in measures to help educate people who otherwise can't afford college has hurt the chances of those who start out lower on the economic ladder, but the fact is that educated people are losing their jobs, educated people are finding the job market harder to penetrate, and our society now has far less flexibility than it once did for people who have not yet established themselves, while simultaneously making it easier to lose everything and not be able to get back up. Life is much riskier even for those who have already established a good work record and a good record of financial prudence, and that's not because they lack education, it's because our "leaders" have deliberately removed helpful programs, and changed policies and laws, in order to make success and security much harder to achieve for ordinary people who need to work for a living.

Ron Paul is fast rising as one of those "maverick" Republicans who openly oppose the occupation of Iraq (and opposed the invasion) who people quote in the "Republicans who said something that's not insane" category, but please don't be fooled (the way some of you were with McCain, for example). It's nice when a Hagel or a Specter says out loud what we all know to be true, but it doesn't mean they are people you'd like to have as president. These days you can pretty much take for granted that if they are in Congress and they are Republicans, they are people you don't want anywhere near government. And, despite some of his more palatable libertarian views, Ron Paul is a humdinger: "Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty and the end of welfare and affirmative action,"Paul wrote. (via)

A fascinating case in Texas actually has a right-wing judge, on behalf of Coca-Cola, throwing out jury decisions in order to make it possible for big corporations to violate state law to destroy smaller companies - and putting the entire jury system in jeopardy.

I admit, it's hard not to laugh at Hillary Clinton when she asks the public to choose her campaign theme song for her, but oh, skippy.

Obviously, there is one person whose comments on The DC Madam must be read: Susie Bright.

Congratulations to our friend Bartcop for winning the BuzzFlash Wings Of Justice Award. Bartcop was there for us when there was precious little else.

14:19 BST

News you can choose

Digby explains what it's all about: "The lesson of Watergate for the chagrined Republicans was that they needed to be more forceful in assuming executive power and they needed to be more sophisticated about their campaign espionage. This is what they've done."

Echidne on "Voter Fraud and Prosecutor Firings: The Plot Thickens Wow! This is a more interesting plot than anything I can find on television, and it is only a small part of the soap opera that used to be called the Department of Justice." (Also: It's hard to disagree with Christopher Hitchens' evaluation of Jerry Falwell. And here: "Try this: Call a TV station and tell them that you know the Antichrist is already on earth and is an adult Jewish male. See how far you get. Then try the same thing and add that you are the Rev. Jim-Bob Vermin. "Why, Reverend, come right on the show!" What a fool Don Imus was. If he had paid the paltry few bucks to make himself a certified clergyman, he could be jeering and sneering to the present hour.")

"What kind of people turn off air-raid sirens and risk people's lives for a photo-op?"

"Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead" (via)

Boy, Yonmei really doesn't like First Minister in the Scottish Parliament Alex Salmond.

End of the Line Is Near for Federal Funding of Abstinence-Only Sex Education - Oh, please get rid of this thing! "Democrats plan to let a federal abstinence-education program die quietly next month, demonstrating that pursuit of their legislative agenda can sometimes be passive."

12:18 BST

Hot night in the old town

It all makes pretty intense reading: Marty Lederman notes that Ashcroft et al. were apparently prepared to resign over whatever it was the administration had the NSA doing, but didn't resign when they came up with a different ludicrous defense of the program, and asks, "Can You Even Imagine How Bad it Must Have Been? ...In light of all these considerations, just try to imagine how legally dubious the Yoo justification must have been that John Ashcroft was so profoundly committed to its repudiation. It's staggering, really -- almost unimaginable that anything such as this could have happened, especially where the stakes were so high." Glenn Greenwald: "The overarching point here, as always, is that it is simply crystal clear that the President consciously and deliberately violated the law and committed multiple felonies by eavesdropping on Americans in violation of the law."

Republican Affirmative Action - If I ever have to see a doctor in the United States again, my first question is going to be how they vote, because I don't think we can believe the credentials of any Republican from now on. (My favorite quote: "Dr. Keroack has lectured widely from a PowerPoint presentation that uses Loony Tunes characters to illustrate his theory that premarital sex damages the female brain, making non-abstinent women incapable of forming emotional bonds." Well then how come all those good Christian virgins get married and divorced so much?)

Zogby says Edwards still has a slight lead in Iowa over Clinton and Obama, and, "Republican Mitt Romney has pushed from a distant third place into a small lead in Iowa." They like a man who does the "blood and guts and veins in my teeth" thing.

WoodyG'sGuitar thinks He'll never resign and never be fired.

Can a Republican learn to eat like a poor person? "[Tim] Ryan and three other members of Congress have pledged to live for one week on $21 worth of food, the amount the average food stamp recipient receives in federal assistance. That's $3 a day or $1 a meal. They started yesterday." Even I did not realize it was that little. (Unsurprisingly, the one Republican who agreed to take the challenge is Rep. Jo Ann Emerson or Montana.) (via)

There is no Green Zone.

01:46 BST

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

I just got out of the rain

Investigative reporter Lew Koch will be covering the Jose Padilla trial at Firedoglake. (The series will be easy to find here.)

The other day when Lindsay Graham said that "We're going to have to live with [suicide bombings] in Iraq," I half expected the Iraqi people to stand up as one and say, "What do you mean 'we', white man?"

Fred Clark explains the difference between illiteralist fundamentalism and its mirror.

Here's a radio station that made a successful format change. There are parallels a lot of people won't remember: Listeners kept trying to tell the grown-ups what they wanted to hear on the radio, and people who thought they knew better kept giving them what they didn't want and losing listeners.

What government program isn't likely to cost us more money?

22:46 BST

Watch what they do

Mary believes that, "James Comey's astonishing testimony before the Senate Justice Committee has the potential of making impeachment charges stick," but marvels that "some of those who abetted him in his grab for power found there were lines they would not cross."

David Sirota warns that Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-NAFTA) is aiding and abetting the White House in a secret deal to block fair trade.

General Electric is inviting its workers to go green and lose their jobs - that is: "GE is promoting new, energy-saving bulbs known as compact fluorescents, or CFLs, which are made in China. ...If GE has its way, it will no longer manufacture light bulbs in the United States. Since 1980, employment in GE lighting plants in this country has dropped by 68 percent. If everyone switched to the Chinese-made CFL bulbs, all U.S. plants would close." It would be the end of the light bulb as we know it, too.

I don't believe anyone who tells me they are going to Washington to heal divisions and create harmony and consensus. I didn't believe Ross Perot was going to get everyone to hold hands and be some kind of Woodstock Nation in suits and ties, and I didn't believe George Walker Bush when he said he was a "uniter", and I didn't believe Judge Roberts, and I was right.

Right-wingers are Hard for Iraq.

18:15 BST

Nocturnal insects may use the moon to navigate

Pat Buchanan is concerned with crimes committed by immigrants, but Eve Fairbanks and Roger Ailes are worried about the burgeoning crime rate among people named "Buchanan". (And hey, I didn't realize Jeremy Hardy was on The News Quiz.)

You know something? I don't care if Iran gets nukes. The Soviet Union had nukes, and they never nuked anyone. There's no law that says Iran is going to nuke anyone just because they have nukes. An amazing number of countries have nukes and never nuke anyone. There is only one country that has ever nuked anyone, and that is the only country that is currently making noises about what a great idea it might be to nuke someone else (probably Iran). Now, that worries me. And another thing that worries me is that Pakistan has nukes and its government is increasingly unstable, and no one seems to want to talk about that.

Cernig says she's Back in drag, and quotes The Arms Control Wonk: "Sometimes, I think the New York Times David Sanger is just Judy Miller without the creepy love notes from Scooter Libby. Then I think, I've never read David Sanger's mail." (Also: You know they're desperate when they have to settle for a "War Czar" who is only a three-star general who was for withdrawal before he was against it.)

Ex-Guantanamo officer accused of passing detainee information in Valentine's card on trial - it was the names of prisoners and details about their cases, sent to a human rights lawyer. (via)

Via The Raw Story, Larry Flynt Statement On Death Of Jerry Falwell. He's too nice.

Meanwhile, at the Plantation....

Time how fast a site loads in your browser with WebWait. I changed the call interval to eight seconds to avoid boredom, and changed the number of calls to forever ("0") so I could get a better view of the average for loading The Sideshow. So far I have a low of 1.71 seconds and a high of just under eight seconds, but am averaging around 2.71 seconds after 100 runs. (via)

16:21 BST

A bunch of news and stuff

Even the neocon Washington Post is saying they are shocked by the lawlessness of Alberto Gonzales and the administration. I can't disagree with their outrage, but I still have to wonder why they didn't express it sooner.

The American Legion is having another one of its periodic outbreaks of hatriotism, and treating us to another chorus of "Anybody who opposes the occupation of Iraq opposes the War on Terror." The fact that they can't tell the difference between fomenting terrorism in Iraq and trying to prevent terrorism at home is all the evidence we need that something is rotten with these people, but they certainly lose any credibility on the patriotism front when they insist that merely to voice opposition to administration policy is somehow irresponsible dissent. Responsible dissent, they tell us, is to do things like work and vote for the election of representatives who share our positions. They neglect to mention what we are supposed to do when we get those people elected and the administration still refuses to budge. Digby explains: "I know it doesn't say explicitly in the First Amendment that citizens are only allowed to publicly support wars but that's because it's written between the lines in invisible Republican ink. After all, the Legion had no problem going on television and protesting the war in Kosovo, while troops were still engaged." You know, it's about time we started placing the adjective "Republican" in front of any mention of their name, or referring to them as "the partisan American Legion". Or maybe that's being too kind. Rick Perlstein has more (including, as PNH says, "a reminder of why many good people couldn't bring themselves to vote for Hubert in '68.")

At Tapped, Scott Lemieux explains why Charles Krauthammer is dishonest (again) on overturning Roe v. Wade. Meanwhile, Echidne comes out of the closet.

Multiple-choice Mitt loves him some GTMO: "I am glad [detainees] are at Guantanamo. I don't want them on our soil. I want them on Guantanamo, where they don't get the access to lawyers they get when they're on our soil. I don't want them in our prisons, I want them there. Some people have said we ought to close Guantanamo. My view is we ought to double Guantanamo."

Paul Kiel at TPMmuckraker says, "The White House's Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has been an open joke ever since it was launched as a result of a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission's 2004 report. The panel was supposed to keep a sharp eye on the government's possible infringement on citizens' civil liberties. But it turns out that it's a bigger joke than people even realized."

The main reason I made my surprise visit to the US the other week is that my brother wanted me to go through some old stuff from the house, and among my old papers, I found my old fake ID. Looking at it now, I find it hilarious that though no one ever questioned it. It looks a bit like my old Maryland driver's license, but it just says "Identification Card" and there is no reference to any issuing authority. This morning Dominic pointed out to me that some things never change.

14:43 BST

The story they tell

I think I linked this already, but I want to go back to the subject of Giving the people what they want, so I'll take a little help from Jamison Foser:

And, sure, if the media constantly talk about haircuts and hedge fund salaries, people will pay attention. They pay attention to "runaway bride" stories, too -- that doesn't mean those stories are important, or that the public thinks they are. Voters may even come to believe that the size of John Edwards' house tells us something about his plan for universal health care -- not because it is true, but because Blitzer and Beck and The Washington Post keep repeating it so often.

But if any news organization really thinks the American people care (or should care) as much about how John Edwards pays for his haircuts as they care about how he'll help them pay for their health care, they can put their money where their mouth is. Every major national news organization sponsors public opinion polls. And in nearly every one, they ask a question about national priorities. They are perfectly capable of asking Americans to rank the things they think are most important: Iraq, health care, jobs and the economy, taxes, global warming, the environment, terrorism, and John Edwards' haircuts. Unless they do so, they should stop telling us the public cares about trivia like that.

We're always told that we're hearing about the runaway bride or whatever because it's what people watch, but it's clear to me that people watch it because it's what they're selling. (Car makers used to tell us they didn't make small cars because we didn't buy small cars, too.) My experience both in the news business and as a subject of news stories is that there are a lot of things that the public would be fascinated to learn about that somehow rarely if ever make it into the paper or onto the television screen.

Here's an experience I've had continually since 1989: A producer or would-be producer calls me up to ask if I'll submit to an interview about some aspect of pornography or censorship. I'll give them my spiel, and they'll marvel at all the amazing things I tell them and think they've got an explosive story. And they're right: It's a story that would fascinate a public that has been hearing a lot of myth and scare stories that are completely contradicted by the much more interesting facts. Then they go back to the BBC or ITV or whoever and discover that no one wants to do that story. They do stories on porn or censorship or whatever, but they're the same stories they always do, and not this story.

The media sets the agenda. They decide what you will be able to watch. They decide what stories are "news". They decide that it's front-page news that John Edwards sold his house to Republicans, but not worth telling you the truth about how his proposals might affect your life. It's nothing to do with what really sells.

12:39 BST


Eric Boehlert discusses the fact that not only is The Washington Post biased on behalf of right-wing politicians and views, but on behalf of right-wing bloggers, as well. Jane Hamsher is running a countdown on when the Post will finally do a positive profile of any liberal blogger.

Skimble notes that, in the wake of all those problems with food imported from China, this article in The Boston Globe tells us that, "Federal authorities are working on a proposal to allow chickens raised, slaughtered, and cooked in China to be sold here, and under current regulations, store labels do not have to indicate the meat's origin"

Get. Out. Now.

New Orleans matters.

A lot of people are making it sound as if Comey's testimony was all a bit surprise, but as Jeralyn points out, we've been complaining about this since last year when it was already in the papers.

I don't think we should let the media conduct the debate questioning. If Democratic candidates had any real guts, they'd have liberal bloggers ask the questions.

Someone should tell Michael Medved who most of the terrorists, mass-murderers and serial-killers in the United States are. (And don't forget the serial-rapists.)

Afghanistan Spirals.

Another bad thing about libertarianism.

I'm not going to pretend I share anyone's feelings of loss. He was a hateful man who did evil things. (Also: China tells US to quit yer beefing.)

The Freeway Blogger takes back our flag.

02:33 BST

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

It's what you do, not what your name is

So The Washington Post published a stupid article on transparency and blogging yesterday by Tom Grubisich, and the whole liberal blogosphere has erupted in outbreaks of common sense.

Some people may question your credibility if you call yourself "Atrios". Hell, people assume you are using a pseudonym if you sign yourself "Avedon", too. People don't do that if you just use an ordinary sounding name like "John Leonard" or "Ed Dresden" or whatever, even though it may be fake.

But it doesn't matter as long as what you write is of consistent quality (whether good or bad); If you're good, you're good, and if you're a hack like Mark Halperin or John Solomon, people are going to know about it. My readers hold me accountable (whether "Avedon Carol" is my real name or not), and no one seems to hold people like Halperin and Solomon and the rest of the Stepford Press accountable because readers are just end users, not the real customer, and we don't count at The Washington Post.

You know, it's quite possible that all those professional newspaper folk who are whining about losing readership need to re-think just who their customer really is, and then maybe they'd be doing a little better.

14:03 BST

Internet life

If Bill Clinton is such a great campaigner, how come his ad for Hillary is such crap? Rachel Maddow says he sounds more like he's giving a personal reference at a bail hearing, and she's right.

Egalia has Greg Palast and RFK in NYC on May Day. Check it out. Also, a report on the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy as depicted by the usual suspects - bad enough to get a cease and desist order from the DNC. Apparently, Democrats are conspiring to make George Walker Bush look like an incompetent moron who is a danger to our nation.

RJ Eskow explains How Reporters Who Attack Bloggers Are Like Beauticians: " Reporters' ad hominem attacks on bloggers represent the enforcement tactics of an informal guild looking to protect its economic interests by any means necessary."

I'd completely forgotten the name of that Playboy model I mentioned in the porn post, but someone wrote to me and asked if it was Marina Baker, so I went through my mail and discovered that, yes, it was, and she's doing even better than I knew these days. I realize England is a little different from "the freest country in the world", but if you can be a Playboy centerfold and still run for office here, there's nothing natural preventing it from happening anywhere else. Like I said, the problem is not that young women flash their knockers, it's that our society is deranged about sex.

You know, some of you are absolutely dreadful at blogwhoring. Look, I don't always remember the name of your blog, and even if I do, I probably don't remember the URL, so please always include your address in your e-mail (any decent browser has a place for you to put signature files), and don't send me a bunch of links to other sites that you've linked to in a post on your very own site - just send me the link to your article. I can't believe some of you are still copying your whole post to me without actually sending the link to it. Get a grip, kids!

12:55 BST

A spoonful of sugar

I don't want to talk about this - or think about it - but Jen finally said the thing that no one wants to say: "He may not make it."

And after that, I think I just want to sprinkle the fairy dust and think lovely thoughts, so here's some candy:

Bush officially uncool.

Keith Olbermann receives first annual Molly Ivins Award from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. Also: Get your pessimist's mug. Via Biomes Blog.

Ann Telnaes on Tony Blair's Defining Moment. (Thanks to D. for the tip.)

Jack Cluth has a great bumper sticker for ya, and the presidential candidate of David Broder's dreams.

I did one of my periodic YouTube searches on "Memo From Turner" and still didn't find the scene from Performance, but someone decided it would make a great audio track for a series of Kramer clips. I never did get what people liked about Seinfeld, but it's still a great track.

00:14 BST

Monday, 14 May 2007

Air America champagne flight crashes

Atrios and Media Czech have understated the case. So far, I haven't seen one person who said they listened to Lionel's show mention what it was about - because his presentation was so bad that he put listeners into a coma before they could find out.

I listened to it all.

Well, that's not true, I had it on and was in the same room for the whole three hours. But I found I wasn't really hearing much of it, and when I did, it was just too flaky - and Lionel's voice too off-putting - for me to want to stay engaged.

And that's not the worst part. The worst part was that what the whole three hours was about was freedom of speech, and I didn't care. Most of what he was doing was so annoying that I started to feel like he ought to be arrested if he played that silly series of beeps one more time.

Got that? Sam Seder could make me listen to stuff I didn't even think I was interested in and care about it, but this guy was able to make Avedon Carol not give a damn about censorship.

21:07 BST

After bathing at Baxter's in wet cement

Jimmy Carter has some really good advice for Jews" "He said it was a terrible error for Jews to become allied with Christian Zionists who actually desire our conversion or burning in hell," Rabbi Lerner related in an interview Tuesday. (Also: An interview with Al Gore and David Blood.)

If the Terrorists Didn't Exist... we'd have to invent them - which is pretty much what this whole Fort Dix thing is all about. (Also: Tony Blair in ten words.)

Advice from Conservative Pundits for Democrats: Get Better Candidates - because, like, we could possibly come up with someone who is worse than what they've got on offer. No, no, it's not that! It's that we might come up with someone who they could invent lies about! That would be bad.

"You have a Monica problem." Via Travis, who thinks we should start spelling it "Monika".

Y'know, I don't think that whole "sin" idea was just about the American public school system.

Your Talking Dog tells us what he really thinks about what we are doing at GTMO (although I would point out that America isn't exactly running a model prison system at home, either.)

We're done. Thanks, Dick!

Huh, I didn't know that Dave's brother also paints.

Neil has posted photos from Alan's wedding. Love the outfit.

19:30 BST

Sound familiar?

Remember the time Saddam refused to allow the weapons inspectors into Iraq, so Bush had to bomb him? Right, neither do I, and it's happening again. ABC (Australia) is reporting that the story emanating from the right-wing claiming that Iran has blocked UN inspectors from nuclear facilities is a lie:

The United Nations' nuclear watchdog has denied a report that Iran blocked its inspectors from visiting a nuclear facility where it is enriching uranium.

"There is no truth to media reports claiming that the IAEA was not able to get access to Natanz," said International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) spokesman Marc Vidricaire.

"We have not been denied access at any time, including in the past few weeks. Normally we do not comment on such reports but this time we felt we had to clarify the matter," he said.

Not that it will make a blind bit of difference to the people who still can't remember all the time they spent vilifying Hans Blix while he was in Iraq, then denied that Saddam had ever allowed weapons inspectors in.

17:59 BST


Cory Doctorow says:
"Today is America's wiretap the Internet day: Today, Monday May 14, is the day that all US network operators are required by US law to install back-doors to make it easier for cops to snoop on their traffic. This has been the law for voice switches for over a decade, where it represents a potential holiday for dirty cops who don't have warrants use these back-doors (and criminals and corporate espionageists who want to eavesdrop on sensitive calls). Now it's part of our data infrastructure as well. Nice one, America."
Also: "Crybaby Scientologists call reporter a "terrorist": John Sweeney, a BBC reporter who worked on a Scientology documentary that's shortly to air, describes the way that the cult psy-opsed him, following him around (even at his wedding!) and calling on his family members and neighbors (I have a friend who did a Master's thesis on the "church" and got inept, threatening phone calls at 2AM for years afterward). Eventually, Sweeney "snapped" on camera and shouted at a Scientology leader he was interviewing. Scientologists recorded the outburst and then complained that Sweeney had made a "terrorist death threat." Oh, puh-leeze."

Neil the Ethical Werewolf says, "Hedge Funds Can Be Your Friends: Nationally renowned phony scandal purveyor John Solomon has been trying to stir up trouble about John Edwards' hedge fund ties. I wish people knew more about the particular hedge fund that Edwards was involved with -- Fortress Investment Group." (By the way, do you think The Wall Street Journal's problems could have something to do with its loony editorial pages?)


16:49 BST

News and coffee

Well, it seems there's a fairly serious and deliberate case of voter fraud, at last, and it all seems to be connected to the office of Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), which seems to be full of people who suddenly registered in his district before the election, even though they don't appear to live there. Odd, wouldn't you say?

The NYT reported a story yesterday that Russia is to get a Central Asian pipeline: "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia brokered an agreement on Saturday with two Central Asian countries to build a new gas pipeline to Russia, delivering a major setback to continuing American efforts to send Central Asian natural gas exports directly to Europe. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, center, seals a gas pipeline deal with presidents Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, left, and Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov of Turkmenistan. The presidents of Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan agreed to build a new pipeline around the Caspian Sea, giving Russia significantly more control over much of Central Asia's vast natural gas reserves." You'd think that would have been a front-page story, but Jerome Doolittle says it was on page A14.

Can we teach this to the Washington press corps? Bush's jokes really aren't funny.

CBS has a further excuse for firing Batiste: "By putting himself front and center in an anti-Bush ad, the viewer might have the feeling everything he says is anti-Bush." In other words, anyone who is known not to support Bush's policies is biased, but anyone who supports Bush's policies is not biased.

This is a great metaphor - and it rocks!

12:17 BST

Silver chains

Mine, mine, mine, mine!

I know things like this happen everywhere, and in my own lifetime it was common enough in places that were supposed to be a lot more enlightened, but still, there's something shocking about the way it is so acceptable in Jamaica.

TBogg watches Gonzales and sees Bartleby.

MahaBarb continues the discussion of what really hurt the Dems in '72, in "Don't Blame Vietnam": "In the 1970s and 1980s, white voters left the Dem Party in droves and began to vote Republican, mostly because Nixon, Reagan, and others did a bang-up job exploiting racism. I think the racist backlash to Dem support of civil rights and antipoverty programs cost Democrats far more, in the long run, than the war in Vietnam did. Second, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, New Left ideologies discouraged young activists from getting involved in party politics. Instead, progressivism broke up into single-issue advocacy movements that competed with each other for funds and attention. The New Deal coalition dissolved, nothing took its place, and the Democratic Party itself lost clear identity and purpose. IMO it's important to look hard at this second issue, because I see a lot of activists today making the same mistakes the New Left made years ago.

The AP reports that Ann Coulter was cleared of voter fraud charges, but fails to mention that the FBI is investigating the fact that one of its agents inappropriately interfered with the investigation of Coulter.

How Time's Washington editor works - and it sure beats workin'.

Now the Republicans are claiming that by failing to make permanent the "temporary" tax cuts that Bush got passed, the Democrats are "responsible for the single biggest tax increase in history."

Mike Papantonio's Pap Attacks in video format.

Julia has a Mother's Day post up over at Steve Gilliard's joint. Unfortunately, Steve still isn't back at the wheel, but Jen is keeping things ticking and it would be cool if you'd go over there and help keep the numbers up to help with the ad revenue, because they need it right now.

03:48 BST

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Fresh asparagus season

So, how come it never bothered Byron York that George Walker Bush wears cowboy boots but is afraid of horses? Now that's phony.

A Pointless Bit of Cruel-Minded Snark actually says some true things about blogging.

Bill Scher says he's not doing the Sunday Talkshow Breakdown anymore because his new thing is formulating the questions that should be asked and then talking to Sam Seder about it on the radio afterwards.

Angel Raich dropped her lawsuit against the government after concluding that The courts will not protect us.

I've talked about the lack of liberal substance in the corporate and supposedly liberal media before; this week's "Media Matters" from Jamison Foser is a four-point study in how it works with reporting on John Edwards.

Via Atrios, I see that Kevin Drum is musing on the possible advantages of teaching history backwards (which sounds like a very intriguing idea), and by an amazing coincidence, Rob Newman has announced that the BBC is going along with his plan to do exactly that, with a six-part series, No Planet B - The History of the World Backwards.

A shop sign.

Saw this terrific photo of Glastonbury Tor in Metro (only bigger). Couldn't find the full-sized image online but Arbroath did post a larger image.)

20:27 BST

It's just the wasted years so close behind

Simone Perele Marquises half cup braBra of the Week

Altercation: There are two kinds of Hollywood money: corporate, which is given by PACs to protect copyrights (well beyond anything that would be required by the intent of the law, by the way), and the ideological money, which is for most purposes, almost entirely un-self-interested. When I investigated the process for The Atlantic, I focused on the latter, and was occasionally accused of ignoring the former. Well, perhaps, but the point still stands. The fact that Disney's PAC operates like any other PAC does not obviate the fact that the rich folk in Hollywood (and a few other places) contribute far more selflessly than the ones the media appear to admire. I tried to make that point here.

Melissa wonders what the chances are of anti-choice people ever admitting that they don't give a damn about the fact that abortion bans don't stop abortions, they just kill more people. Scott says not bloody likely. (Also: You saw it all coming in Bush v. Gore. But maybe you saw all the signs when Dick Cheney illegally ran on the same ticket with someone else from the same state, pretending he was from somewhere else.)

Here's the link for that Murray Waas story on the e-mails being leaked from a senior administration official. Impolitical says, "Wow. Someone's clearly had enough of the Gonzales covering for Rove fiasco. And is recognizing the damage these two clowns are causing to the integrity of the justice system and any remaining credibility the Bush administration might salvage over its last year and a half." Er, what remaining credibility?

You know, the omens really don't look good about keeping Bush away from Iran.

Cliff Schecter found a library that has a neat and remarkable idea for raising funds. It's literary and sexy - who could ask for more?

I just want to say that Jonathan Alter should be ashamed of writing this. If you're going to accuse someone of bad reporting, you really need to produce some evidence that the reporting was bad.

The Take Back America 2007 conference at the Washington Hilton might be a good place to be next month, if you're in the neighborhood.

Greg Palast tells Amy Goodman, "I have Karl Rove's emails."

Ah, this looks like a blog worth keeping an eye on: TortDeform, the civil justice defense blog. And their most recent post is on one of my hobbyhorses, Resurrecting Jim Crow.

Bob Geiger's big fat Saturday Cartoon post!

14:29 BST

I'm stealing the towels, I'm stealing the room

Southern Beale says, "Hey Opie & Anthony! Rape Is No Laughing Matter."

Once again, Norm Coleman defies logic, reason, and common sense.

Well, I guess it is kinda depressing that Arianna has hired Edsell to be the HuffPo political editor.

"Every American should be able to see this."

What the polls say - and it looks like Edwards has the most strength against a Giuliani match-up.

Google: One more thing to make you paranoid. (Thanks to Charles.)

The chance to ask Qaddafi an important question.

Most detailed image of the Crab Nebula - Oooh! (Thanks, Dominic.)

An interesting picture.

If you missed Wexler grilling Gonzales, you should not deprive yourself of the pleasure.

John Amato has posted another stirring closing speech from Alan Shore (James Spader) regarding a client who was tortured for two years at a detention camp.

03:22 BST

Reading the IHT

The International Herald Tribune has reprinted an article by Alex Beam, who I usually don't pay much attention to, but it was called "President Obama? Not this time," and that meant I just had to see what made him say it:

Stop me if you've read this column before.

In 1999, I wrote a dreamy tribute to then presidential candidate Bill Bradley and commented: "I don't believe that I will ever live in a country that elects Bill Bradley president. I'd like to live in that country, though."

In 2002, 27 months before Howard Dean's presidential campaign imploded, I wrote: "Howard Dean is the story we tell ourselves every four years; the Paul Tsongas story, the Bruce Babbitt story, the John Anderson story. It is a very diverting fable, this notion of the brilliant, worthy, and committed outsider who has a decent chance of becoming our next president."

No stranger to self-plagiarism, I added: "I wouldn't mind living in a country where Howard Dean was president, but somehow I don't think that I will."

Meet Barack Obama, the BradleyDeanBabbittTsongas of the 2008 election cycle.

I can't really argue with that way of looking at it, and it occurred to me that, though he certainly didn't make me feel particularly dreamy and idealistic (he was last on my primary list), there was one outsider who actually made it - Bill Clinton. And that seems to explain what they did to him. They were perfectly happy to talk all of these people up for a while, but then they trashed them and squeezed them out of the race. But apparently they started too late with the man who would become President Bill.

I had fun reading the opening of Walter Isaacson's review of a book that seems to be called Are We Rome? The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America. (I say "seems", because the article itself is called "Are We Rome?" in the paper, followed by what appears to be the name of the book, which is the way they usually do it; but in the body of the article it says the book is called "Are We Rome?" And in the online version, the title is "Lessons for America, courtesy of the Roman Empire".) It went like this:

The only sure thing that can be said about the past is that anyone who can remember Santayana's maxim is condemned to repeat it. As a result, the danger of not understanding the lessons of history is matched by the danger of using simplistic historical analogies.
I actually think the greater danger is using wrong analogies, but I chuckled when I read each of those sentences.

Meanwhile, I was rather surprised at how wrong this Non Sequitur is.

00:38 BST

Saturday, 12 May 2007

The myth that lives on The Hill

Atrios is taking on the myths about how being anti-war cost the Democrats politically during the Vietnam war. He presents the evidence and I think he has it right: The fact that Nixon was re-elected was not a repudiation of the Democrats, or even of being anti-war, and did not hurt Democratic fortunes in Congress or in the long run generally.

It took decades for the GOP to exploit public distaste for a bunch of noisy teenagers who had long hair and bare feet and were not only using bad language, but in their more extreme manifestations (lovingly spotlighted by the media) calling for bringing down the system.

Of course, most of the weirdo hippies didn't want to bring down the system, and what was most frequently being called for was not to bring it down, but to enforce the Constitution - especially, of course, the Bill of Rights.

Ironically, that's the very system the conservative movement really does want to overthrow. They just wear suits and ties to do it so they don't look threatening.

As to the war, the public was already sick of it and unconvinced by the pro-war rhetoric, and Nixon was claiming he had a plan to withdraw from 'Nam. At the superficial level where that unwonky, vaguely apolitical center with better things to do than obsess on political stuff lives, McGovern and Nixon were both promising to end the war, so voting for Nixon wasn't a rejection of stopping the war, it was a rejection of the candidate for the dirty radicals and hippies who'd forced that nice Mr. Humphrey out.

And Humphrey was a liberal.

22:49 BST

No good deed goes unpunished

I think this was Friday's whistle-blower firing case of the day:

When veteran government auditor Bobby Maxwell learned oil giant Kerr McGee was not paying the $10 million he says it owed in oil royalties, he prepared an order to Kerr McGee to pay up. Making sure the government gets its money from energy companies was Maxwell's job in the Minerals Management Service (MMS), a division of the Department of the Interior.

But Maxwell claims his bosses at the MMS quashed that order. After filing a lawsuit under the False Claims Act, which protects and encourages whistleblowers, Maxwell lost his job. On Friday, May 11, NOW talks with Maxwell about the personal and professional price he says he paid in pursuit of fairness, and examines an industry under fire for keeping too much of the enormous revenue it makes for drilling on land and waters owned by us all. Are oil and gas companies being protected - and even feted - by the government agency charged with regulating them?

More on whistle-blowers under the regime here.

19:15 BST

Saturday's links for breakfast

Via the "Wire" sidebar at LiberalOasis, I found a place called Blog From Another Dimension, from Which Bill had provided this quote responding to attacks on MSNBC for allowing Keith Olbermann to comment on the Republican presidential debates: "Isn't that just precious? Here you have the Republicans blasting Democrats for not wanting to have their entire debate, moderators and all, hosted by a rabid right-wing propaganda outfit, but when Republicans have to deal with a debate hosted by a network with someone not even on the debate floor being a left-wing pundit, they all start whining. Every single ounce of criticism against Dems for not wanting Fox News propagandists in every corner of their own debate just melted into slag. After Republicans protested about a left-winger commenting on their debate, how could they possibly criticize Dems for not wanting something ten times stronger? Maybe that's why all the complaints made by the Republican campaigns were made privately." And while I was there, I found some other interesting posts, such as the one where Luis tries to answer the question of whether Bush has done anything right, and the one where Luis defends Al Sharpton against a recent spurious attack.

Is there anyone who actually believes that The Washington Times is independent of Sun Myung Moon?

Roy Edroso enjoys the fireworks in the wingnutsphere after Rudy comes out for abortion choice.

Here's a pretty one from Maru, who also notes that the media slept through Iraqi democracy in action. Also, an amusing story from Baltimore, where a spokesman for the Department of Public Works was gleeful about an act of graffiti vandalism, triggering...a Drudge Report headline.

I got rapture of YouTube again after that Rick Nelson birthday link and had a Rick Nelson festival. I rather liked the one with a younger Ricky with The Four Preps doing "Bye Bye Love" (and the flash to Rick's suspected-terrorist brother Dave), and then later in his career doing "I'm Walking" with Fats Domino, and "Mystery Train", and "She Belongs to Me" (with Tom Brumley on steel guitar). Even if you aren't in love with those beautiful eyes, the sexy mouth, and his voice and material, there's the fact that he always did work with great musicians.

My thanks to woid in comments for providing a link to this brilliantly edited version of the "Floodtide of Filth" video linked earlier from Susie Bright's site.

14:11 BST

Unsorted items

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

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

How a free country deals with terrorists.

Life imitates the Bible, at The Poor Man Institute.

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

I'm so glad I stopped being so polite.

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

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

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

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

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

02:37 BST

Broder, Chait, blogs, etc.

My commenters remember many things I forgot, such as:

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

The story has been quietly removed from online archives.

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

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

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

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

01:32 BST

Friday, 11 May 2007

Why they loved the cowboy who was afraid of horses


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

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

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

And when you finish reading Digby, read this.

20:03 BST

Links left from lunch

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

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

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

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

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

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

Susie Bright recalls A Floodtide of Filth.

So, how do you get into this thing?

These guys rock.

18:06 BST

Supporting the troops (and some other stuff)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15:41 BST

Voice of the people

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

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


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

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

02:44 BST

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Things to check out

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

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

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

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

The French have their priorities straight.

Susie Bright on pin-ups and Vargas.

17:40 BST

Breakfast links

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

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

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

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

13:43 BST

News and other things

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

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

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

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

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

The Truth Of Reagan's Economic Record

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

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

Colbert pleads for tolerance for the intolerant.

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

03:58 BST

Wednesday, 09 May 2007

I have a theory: It must be bunnies!

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

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

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

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

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

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

23:49 BST

Saints and sinners

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

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

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

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

19:18 BST

Hard case, bad law, etc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

15:54 BST

Party like it's 1939

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

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

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

14:30 BST

Last night's links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13:18 BST

On the net

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

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

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

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

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

01:41 BST

Tuesday, 08 May 2007

Bits of stuff

Call your reps and help save Internet radio.

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

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

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

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

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

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

20:03 BST

Leftover links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13:06 BST


Cernig says Petreaus failed the ethics test.

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

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

Rush the Magic Racist and Thoughts of the Average American.

Echidne adds more to the porn/GGW discussion.

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

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

I think Jack K. is tired of Tenet.

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

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

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

A cookie you can read.

01:04 BST

Monday, 07 May 2007

How the future ends

Johann Hari on How we shop until Chinese workers drop

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

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

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

Definitely read the rest.

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

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

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

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

19:36 BST

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

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

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

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

But here's what the Justice Department told Savage:

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

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

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

15:17 BST

Who are the Republicans afraid of?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13:22 BST

How does your garden grow?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I still say Bush works for Osama.

Susie Bright previews Best American Erotica 2007.

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

02:32 BST

Sunday, 06 May 2007

Open windows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Global Sovereignty Matters at Orcinus.

MadKane on Bush's Iraq Strategy

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

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

22:34 BST

News and stuff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18:07 BST

That icky old sexual terrain

Young Attitude Circles full cup braBra of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12:26 BST

Saturday, 05 May 2007

Stupidity, or what?

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

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

21:10 BST

Assorted fruit and nuts

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

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

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

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

You Can't Veto the Truth.

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

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

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

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

16:09 BST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12:25 BST

It had to happen

Riverbend at Baghdad Burning considers The Great Wall of Segregation:

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

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

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


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


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

03:18 BST

Friday, 04 May 2007


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

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

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

19:09 BST

Meat and potatoes

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

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

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

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

Make a note.

16:02 BST

Freedom declared enemy of United States

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

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

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

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

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

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

13:06 BST

Thursday, 03 May 2007

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

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

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

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

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

Interpreting George Tenet

17:24 BST

Wednesday, 02 May 2007

It is further noted that...

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

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

Dave Johnson on priorities.

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

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

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

18:46 BST


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16:25 BST

Tuesday, 01 May 2007

More. Coffee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

23:57 BST

Happy May Day

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

Only Muslims Commit Terrorism

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

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

The United State of Sanctimony (with pictures!)

Max gets spam.

Frugal For Life celebrates May Day. (via)

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

21:21 BST


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

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

18:10 BST

Media and other stories

Three stories via the Make Them Accountable media trawl:

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

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

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


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

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

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

Four years after "Mission Accomplished"

16:40 BST

Bucking the empire

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

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

13:12 BST

Can't leave you guys alone for a minute!

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

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

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

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

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

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

03:01 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, May 2007

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