The Sideshow

Archive for November 2005

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Wednesday, 30 November 2005

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Juan Cole says At Hussein's Hearings, U.S. May Be on Trial: The ongoing trial of Saddam Hussein could prove increasingly uncomfortable for the Bush administration. The first crime of which the deposed dictator is accused, the secret execution of 143 Shiites arrested in 1982, seems an odd choice for the prosecution, and politics may be behind it.

Rick Warren is angling to replace Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, and the media seems ready to anoint him. Wendy Kaminer: You have to wonder why someone supposedly devoted to re-directing the evangelical movement to the fight against poverty and disease would fail to mention either in exhorting Christians to vote in a presidential election year.

So, Anderson Cooper was a big hit covering the real people affected by Katrina, and Judith Miller's stature tanked when it became clear she was just an administration shill for invasion. Has it had a real impact on the quality of our news media? Michael Massing examines the question in The Press: The Enemy Within: On November 8, I turned on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 to see how the host was doing in his new job. It was Election Day, and I was hoping to find some analysis of the results. Instead, I found Cooper leading a discussion on a new sex survey conducted by Men's Fitness and Shape magazines. I learned that 82 percent of men think they're good or excellent in bed, and that New Yorkers report they have more sex than the residents of any other state. At that moment, New Orleans and Katrina seemed to be in a galaxy far, far away.

Echidne: Since I first encountered the commercial approach to political thinking I have spotted it many times. Sometimes I think that there are people in this country who would rather stay on a deserted island after a shipwreck and starve than to get on any ship that is less than a luxury liner, for this is how they seem to judge the political organizations which are trying to help their causes. It seems that these organizations shouldn't do just politics but they should also be entertaining and amusing and charge very little. Commercial thinking.

Sarah kinda likes Current TV and thinks everyone on it is hot.

20:09 GMT


I saw it yesterday and didn't have time to blog it, but it's kind of breathtaking to see a title like this on the op-ed page of The Washington Post: Progressive Wal-Mart. Really.

Of course, this article is the usual apologia that tells us how wonderful it is that, by destroying jobs and local businesses and communities, Wal-Mart is doing heroic work by providing things at low prices. The column does not mention, of course, that the prices really turn out not to be that low - just the pay and benefits - and that when you arrange for everyone to have fewer jobs, fewer choices, and less money, "low prices" doesn't really mean much.

The column also has a somewhat hysterical tone, as if it were written by some teenager with little writing experience. I know Mallaby can do better and wondered vaguely whether he was farming his work out to members of the Young Conservatives.

Anyway, I didn't get around to reading past the first paragraph yesterday, and this morning I open up Eschaton and discover a quote from the second paragraph that makes me even less willing to believe that it was written by an adult:

Furman advised John "Benedict Arnold" Kerry in the 2004 campaign and has never received any payment from Wal-Mart; he is no corporate apologist.
That would have been over the top in my highschool newspaper; it's more than beyond the pale for a leading daily. (After all, we're still waiting for the day when it's okay to call Bush a liar, even though everyone already knows he is.)

And for that matter, the rest of that paragraph is pretty juvenile as well. Let's look at the whole thing:

Wal-Mart's critics allege that the retailer is bad for poor Americans. This claim is backward: As Jason Furman of New York University puts it, Wal-Mart is "a progressive success story." Furman advised John "Benedict Arnold" Kerry in the 2004 campaign and has never received any payment from Wal-Mart; he is no corporate apologist. But he points out that Wal-Mart's discounting on food alone boosts the welfare of American shoppers by at least $50 billion a year. The savings are possibly five times that much if you count all of Wal-Mart's products.
Here we are being told that we can trust the lack of bias of Mr. Furman because he advised John Kerry in (how to lose) the 2004 campaign. He's a flaming progressive! He couldn't possibly have another agenda!

I submit that this childish piece of crap could not have been seen by an editor. It may not even have been seen by Sebastian Mallaby.

Also via Atrios, the boy genius speaks: You know, I just recently came off a trip to the Far East. By the way, representing the United States of America around the world is one of the great experiences of the presidency. And it struck me that I was in a region of the world where there -- where wars had started.

15:13 GMT

America-hating scum

If it had been known at the time, it would have been a scandal that someone working for the White House even thought this way, and now they want to put him on the US Supreme Court:

As a senior lawyer in the Reagan Justice Department, Samuel A. Alito Jr. argued that immigrants who enter the United States illegally and foreigners living outside their countries are not entitled to the constitutional rights afforded to Americans.
God, these people really hate America. Our rights are inalienable. They aren't merely conferred by law - everyone is born with them. It's the duty of the US government to make sure that everyone in our reach gets them, that our government does not violate those inalienable rights. I'm tired of hearing about the fine legal minds of these people who just hate the idea of having a free country.

13:31 GMT

Tuesday, 29 November 2005

What everyone should already know

I generally like Garance Franke-Ruta, but I saw this post on abortion at Tapped just before I went out, and it made me grumble. I hadn't read the article she refers to, yet (her own), but I'm getting pretty tired of the whole "Pro-choice liberals don't talk about abortion the right way" meme.

I guess I'm really old or something, but I frankly don't understand why so many people seem so nervous about the idea that we might not be using the "right" language to talk about a subject that most people are in agreement on, anyway. In real life, there really aren't that many people who need convincing that Roe v. Wade was the right thing. The number of people who want it overturned are really not a very big minority, and I want to know why I should let these misogynists determine my language anyway when the fact is that no matter what I say they aren't going to suddenly come around to realizing what the rest of us already know.

So let's put some of this crap to rest:

1. Advocates of choice do not pretend that abortion is fun - it's the right-wing that talks that way, and they probably know they're lying. Pro-choice language makes perfectly clear that abortion is like pretty much any other type of surgery in that you'd rather not need it but you sure want to be able to get it if you do need it. And, generally speaking, no one expects me to explain that I didn't really look forward to a tonsillectomy or macular surgery and I still wish I hadn't needed them. So why should anyone have to explain that about abortion?

2. Yes, some abortions are repeat abortions, but pro-choice people have been talking about that right under your nose all along and you apparently didn't notice it, so let me make it as clear as I can: We advocate good birth control, which includes good birth control counseling as well as good sex education in general. We have always advocated it. We have never stopped advocating it. What the hell did you think it was for?

We've been trying to let you know that this "abstinence-only" so-called sex education stuff is creating problems rather than solving them, but apparently it's uninteresting to all these "respectable" liberals who would rather not talk about it. Well, some of us think it's a serious issue, and apparently it's the same some of us who you don't hear when we tell the truth about abortion. But we talk about it because it's important. It's not just something we can point to so you'll see that the right-wing is nutty - it's not just politics. It's real-world stuff with real-world consequences.

Anyway, I come back in and see that Elton Beard has a substantive post on Garance's TNR article, and I'm afraid I agree with him - Garance's emphasis is wrong and there's just not much point in going out in public and worrying about the fact that some relatively small percentage of women have more than one abortion when the problem isn't their morality, and it's not my morality, it's the morality of those who think they can safely ignore the miseducation of America's young people on the subject of reproductive health.

Now, I'm not saying Garance is wrong about women who have repeat abortions often having other problems in their lives. (Not always - some women really do have weird luck with birth control.) But some of those, too, are problems that could be reduced by comprehensive sex education. For example, Garance points out that many women who have more than one abortion are women who have suffered some kind of abuse in their lives. But most of that abuse comes from people whose, uh, sex education, such as it was, was counterproductive. Parents who abuse their children, and serial rapists (not to mention serial killers), tend to come from backgrounds where they were extremely unlikely to get good sex education and more often than not received repressive, punitive, information and "education" about sex. And now, thanks to the anti-sex right-wing, they're getting some of it on your dime. Think about that.

This problem is bigger than "poor women" and "minorities" and "troubled homes" and all that other stuff. It's about the fact that we think we can hide vital information from kids until it's too late, and the fact that we allow public policy on this issue to be driven by the people who are most likely to raise rapists and child-abusers and serial-killers.

Elton also notes that Kevin Drum has picked up the issue, and Kevin says:

Liberals are in favor of safe access to abortion, but surely we're also in favor of helping people get control over their lives too. If the evidence shows that post-abortion counseling helps poor women, cuts down on sexual abuse, and reduces the rate of abortion, what's not to like?
What's not to like is that it's post-abortion. Every kid should be getting good, comprehensive sex education in school, before the problems start.

23:58 GMT

After a fashion...

Some readers seem to be confused about the purpose of the Bra of the Week feature. I believe this is a sad commentary on the state of things, but never mind. The truth is, I have known for a long time that many people are confused about this sort of thing. For example, an extraordinary number of men do not recognize shopping as a form of erotic play with one's partner. They just can't imagine why their girlfriends want to drag them to lingerie departments to make them watch while they try on sexy underwear.

Anyway, there are a lot of reasons to have a Bra of the Week. For one thing, it makes a change from the unrelenting criminality and bloodshed that most of my posts are about. Most folks like a bit of eye-candy, and though most guys don't realize this, pictures of women, preferably looking sexy, works for women, too, even if we're straight. Folks in the magazine business discovered a long time ago that if you want to market magazines to women, you really need to have some pretty pictures of women in the mag. There's a reason for that.

And I think eroticism is a good thing. I'm not the least bit worried about men looking at pictures and getting sexy thoughts. I've studied that subject extensively and can't find a single reason to object to it. Maybe it will give them some shopping ideas, too.

Like a lot of girls, I grew up looking at pictures of women in newspapers and magazines and tried to picture myself wearing whatever fashion item was being presented. I found it a fun activity, even if most of it is stuff I would never wear in real life. Sexy bras are something I do wear in real life, and I'm constantly on the lookout for good ones - as are most of your female friends, so you might want to take note.

And then, of course, education about ordinary things is part of my mission.

Yes, strange as it may seem for someone who mostly runs around in black jeans, black sweaters, black t-shirts, black socks, black boots, black jackets, black coats, etc., I have an interest in all the latest fashions.

14:39 GMT

It's in the news

Echidne has the report from Bushworld, where his aides are nervous, no one can get through to him, and Sy Hersh suggests that Bush is listening to his voices, which are apparently telling him that Nixon got it right in Vietnam so that's the way to go. ("I'll tell you, the people that talk to me now are essentially frightened because they're not sure how you get to this guy.")

And Hersh's article in The New Yorker, Up In The Air, is now online, and full of creepy quotes. Like Patrick Clawson, the deputy director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy: "There is a very deep feeling on his part that the issue of Iraq was settled by the American people at the polling places in 2004." And as to advice from wiser heads: "Many of the military's most senior generals are deeply frustrated, but they say nothing in public, because they don't want to jeopardize their careers. The Administration has "so terrified the generals that they know they won't go public," a former defense official said."

I guess it's official that the Roberts court will be right behind the Little King when his government presents plainly stupid cases in order to prevent any review of what they're up to. And it's also official that one thing this administration isn't about is national security, their favorite excuse for being beyond accountability (but you already knew that). Supreme Court Denies FBI Translator's Case. Sibel Edmonds, who was fired for telling her superiors that one of her co-workers appeared to be deliberately mistranslating important intelligence info, gets no redress - and neither do we.

Kissinger and Brzezinski discuss withdrawal: Today, Wolf Blitzer interviewed Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski together on Late Edition. I found that strange and here's why....

Another hot tip from Dominic (of)alerts me to this one: BBC pulls plug on Dalek lesbian romp flick.

11:09 GMT

Monday, 28 November 2005

What's goin' on

Blog Reload's Drug War Roundup has the usual run of horrors, and of course the story of the guy who was arrested with .0001 grams of cannabis.

Looks like the wingers are all over the War on Christmas.

Al Kamen is quoting Scalia's excuse for intervening in Bush v. Gore: "What did you expect us to do? Turn the case down because it wasn't important enough? Or give the Florida Supreme Court another couple of weeks in which the United States could look ridiculous?" Ah, yes, the old appearance-of-ridiculousness standard.

Medicaid Cutbacks Divide Democrats - Nancy Pelosi says she doesn't like 'em, but: What she did not say is that those changes were proposed over the summer by a bipartisan task force of governors, led by Virginia's Mark R. Warner, whose popularity in a Republican state has made him a rising star in the Democratic Party. Or at least a rising star with the DLC.

Isn't it nice to see that after bloggers have been saying it for months, the WaPo finally has an article saying that there's a big difference between real intelligence gathering and 24 - in Torture, American-Style, by David Luban.

Howard Kurtz seems to be telegraphing a downward spin on Woodward's career: The Man With the Inside Scoop. WaPo readers are mostly in agreement that Woodward wasn't on the job.

The scandals in Ohio just keep getting bigger. Thing is, they were pretty well known before this year's election and a lot of people are, um, surprised that the vote didn't show it. Funny, that.

Identity-Theft Bills Stall in Congress - The WSJ says: Despite a rash of highly publicized security lapses this year that had consumer advocates and business lobbyists clamoring for legislation, Congress is finding it difficult to agree on ways reduce identity theft and to protect the privacy of consumers. Of course, the credit card companies now take the position that only the consumer should take risks; big business should never have to take responsibility for anything. Via Just a Bump in the Beltway.

22:27 GMT

What you need to know

Walter Pincus in the WaPo, Pentagon Expanding Its Domestic Surveillance Activity: "We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without even a [congressional] hearing," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a recent interview.

eRiposte tells me to go out and get the latest issue of Private Eye. Their website says: Private Eye has obtained a full set of the Niger forgeries which the US State Department used to back up their claim that Saddam was building nuclear weapons. One describes a fantastic collaboration of 'outlaw' nations that would be barely credible in an Austin Powers movie. ... For the full story, buy the latest edition of Private Eye, in shops now ... the Print Edition for Issue #1146, 22nd November 05

I've already linked to a story on James Bamford's Rolling Stone article, The Man Who Sold the War, but since now five different people have contacted me to alert me to it, I guess I didn't spend enough time on it. It is an important article, about James Rendon, who "has been secretly involved in nearly every American shooting conflict in the past two decades." It is an unusual career twist for someone who entered politics as an opponent of the Vietnam War. The son of a stockbroker, Rendon grew up in New Jersey and stumped for McGovern before graduating from Northeastern University. Some conspiracy theories are true, and the Rendon Group is the real thing.

So Joe Biden had an op-ed Saturday saying we gotta pull troops out of Iraq, a position that just last week was being derided by the White House as way out there in "Michael Moore territory", and within hours the WH website has a release saying "Setting the Record Straight: Sen. Biden Adopts Key Portions of Administration's Plan for Victory in Iraq." Ha ha ha. Which I guess means it's in "Michael Moore territory" after all.

Krugman asks whether what's bad for GM is Bad for the Country. (And that's a TruthOut link, so it works. And so does the one for Frank Rich's Dishonest, Reprehensible, Corrupt .... They've also posted Sidney Blumenthal's The Long March of Dick Cheney.)

The LAT had an article yesterday on Alito's history with the death penalty that's pretty worrying: In every one of the five contested cases, Alito voted against the inmate and issued an opinion. Individually and especially as a whole, these opinions show a troubling tendency to tolerate serious errors in capital proceedings. Whatever one may think of the death penalty, Alito's record should give pause to all Americans committed to basic fairness and due process of law. Via TalkLeft.

12:43 GMT

Last night's catch

Man, I hope Jonathan Schell is right about The Fall of the One-Party Empire: For some time I have been suggesting here that the aim of Republican strategy has been a Republican Party that permanently runs the United States and a United States that permanently runs the world. The two aims have been driven by a common purpose: to steadily and irreversibly increase and consolidate power in GOP hands, leading in the direction of a one-party state at home and a global American empire abroad. The most critical question has been whether American democracy, severely eroded but still breathing, would bring down the Republican machine, or whether the Republican machine--call it the budding one-party global empire--would bring down American democracy. This week, it looks as if democracy, after years of decline, has gained the upper hand. Via King of Zembla.

C&L has video of Arianna Huffington and Glenn Reynolds talking about Woodward and about Murtha, and of course Arianna is great, but Glenn tells the truth when he says the Democrats voted for the invasion as a political calculation. I really think that's going to be harder to live down than they imagine. This is exactly what's wrong with them - for too long, most of what they have done has been out of political cowardice rather than conscience. It was obvious that Bush was lying and if they'd stood together it would, at the very least, have said something to the American people - and it might even have made a difference. Shakespeare's Sister made a similar point in Another Dem War Hawk Bites the Dust.

Also via Crooks and Liars, news that Lyn Nofziger is being critical of his own party: They've been in power too long . Any time you put any political party in power for too long, it becomes corrupt. It loses its focus. It forgets why it came there.

It's... Uncanny.

And now Alabama wants to put "God Bless America" on its license plates.

And Presstitutes on a WaPo article extolling the joys of being wounded in battle. And Bob Geiger with the Saturday editorial cartoons.

This bridge is kinda cool. (Scroll down for a couple more pictures. Thanks to Dominic for the tip.)

10:57 GMT

Sunday, 27 November 2005

Stuff to see

Allumette Bora Bora underwired bra

Bra of the Week

Bill Scher says The Senate Dems Have An Iraq Plan - They Just Won't Tell You About It.

Digby: These scandals are dealing a major blow to the corrupt GOP political machine, which is an unalloyed good thing. But it would be a shame if John McCain were the one who benefited from it. He's long cast himself as a crusading reformer and the time is ripe for one of those. The Dems ought not let themselves be left in the lurch on that message. Instead of the smarmy "together, we can do better," we ought to be shouting "once again, the Democratic party is called on to do the patriotic thing and clean up the mess the corrupt Republican party has made with its free lunch policies and taxpayer rip-offs."

Actually, Digby has a lot of cracking good posts this weekend and you should read them all - Burning Witches, An Observation From Highpockets, Taking On Woodward, and a bunch of other stuff.

Charles Dodgson says there may be something worse than the ticking time bomb.

Pacific Views: And a critical constitutional question - that of whether Dubya or any other US president can order a citizen held indefinitely and without charges - remains undecided. Or, as some hold, worse than undecided.

The French Spiderman...busted.

John D. Negroponte has a history of doing this kind of thing.

Bartcop is pretty upset about this, and so am I. Your tax money is going to churches to perform charitable acts that they will only perform for believers. It's unconstitutional, of course, but it's also just plain nasty. I bet Bart will forward your donations if you want to help out. Bart's donation details are at the bottom of this page.

Lise came by with a copy of Elantris, and I got interested in the cover art by Stephan Martiniere. The package is very handsome, but online the print looks a lot brighter and you can see subtleties you miss on the book cover. (Some of Martiniere's other stuff is nice, too.) With so many people working entirely on computer, I wonder how many artists still prefer to work on paper or canvas....

22:05 GMT


Today is Advent Sunday. I looked around briefly for online Advent Calendars, but most of them don't start 'til the first day of December. Here's one that starts today. (And for cat fancier's, Tate the Cat's calendars for the last decade - lightly animated; possibly amusing for children.)

The whole Christmas shopping season seems to have started remarkably early this year, but then so has winter, and since to me the whole point of all this celebratory stuff is to shed some light and warmth on the coldest and darkest part of the year, that's fine by me.

A year ago, the United Church of Christ tried to air a television ad preaching a very Christian message - but the networks refused to take it because it was "controversial" - and, in one case, because it was inconsistent with the message of George W. Bush. Crooks and Liars presents video of Madison Shockley of UCC talking to NOW's David Brancaccio on PBS.

Meanwhile, your Sunday morning sermon comes to you courtesy of Skimble - Where are the Christians? And who are these proud, angry men who have usurped their name?

11:11 GMT

Saturday, 26 November 2005


Jim Henley recommends a good piece by Julian Sanchez on the torture debate (I still cringe when I type that), Habeas Corpses, and highlights this quote:

Here's a handy rule of thumb: If you are beating detainees to death, there's a fair chance that what you're doing counts as torture.
Like many of us, Julian is not too happy with the fact that an awful lot of people who rationalize torture seem to have gotten their impressions of it from Se7en and 24. Look, guys, that stuff is fiction.

23:07 GMT

Boris to the rescue!

Imagine our delight last night at sitting down to watch Have I Got News for You and discovering that this week's guest host was the inimitable Boris Johnson, with his interesting new just-got-off-my-bike hairstyle that had the look of someone who didn't have time to go to make-up.

And of course, one of the questions on the show was about the newly-disclosed document revealing that (allegedly) George Bush had to be talked out of bombing Al-Jazeera by Tony Blair, which Ian Hislop and Boris both pointed out they couldn't say because they could go to jail so it was a good thing they didn't say it. And both agreed that they would publish the doc if someone slipped it to them, despite the government's ban - although Ian suspected that Private Eye would get it some time after The Spectator.

And this morning, via Atrios, I see that the Tory MP from Henley has actually posted his offer on his website. And he's got the same messy new hairstyle on his banner photo, so I guess it's deliberate after all. Fancy that.

Anyway, Boris, who is decidedly disappointed with the whole war thing these days, is not too impressed with Bush, either, it seems:

Who knows? But if his remarks were just an innocent piece of cretinism, then why in the name of holy thunder has the British state decreed that anyone printing those remarks will be sent to prison?

We all hope and pray that the American President was engaging in nothing more than neo-con Tourette-style babble about blowing things up. We are quite prepared to believe that the Daily Mirror is wrong. We are ready to accept that the two British civil servants who have leaked the account are either malicious or mistaken. But if there is one thing that would seem to confirm the essential accuracy of the story, it is that the Attorney General has announced that he will prosecute anyone printing the exact facts.

What are we supposed to think? The meeting between Bush and Blair took place on April 16, 2004, at the height of the US assault on Fallujah, and there is circumstantial evidence for believing that Bush may indeed have said what he is alleged to have said.

Yes, especially since no one seems to have stopped him from bombing Al-Jazeera on a couple of other occasions, which Boris even tells us about. And he ends with his invitation:
The Attorney General's ban is ridiculous, untenable, and redolent of guilt. I do not like people to break the Official Secrets Act, and, as it happens, I would not object to the continued prosecution of those who are alleged to have broken it. But we now have allegations of such severity, against the US President and his motives, that we need to clear them up.

If someone passes me the document within the next few days I will be very happy to publish it in The Spectator, and risk a jail sentence. The public need to judge for themselves. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. If we suppress the truth, we forget what we are fighting for, and in an important respect we become as sick and as bad as our enemies.

It's no wonder Boris always seems a bit muddled. You can tell he's a Tory - he runs a magazine, for godssakes, and there he is saying he's all perfectly happy with the continued prosecution of the guys who exposed this paper which is clearly no threat to British security, even while volunteering to commit the same crime himself. No call to arms in defense of a free press for this guy, oh, no. Silly boy. But Miller and Woodward could still take a lesson from him.

12:43 GMT

Friday, 25 November 2005

21st Century Villain

The WaPo has a lovely photo of Cheney to accompany Michael Kinsley's rather good article about how dishonest Cheney's attacks on critics of his administration are.

Lest one fear that he might be saying that, Cheney immediately added, "I'm unwilling to say that" -- "that" being what he had just said. He generously granted critics the right to criticize (as did the president this week). Then he resumed hurling adjectives like an ape hurling coconuts at unwanted visitors. "Dishonest." "Reprehensible." "Corrupt." "Shameless." President Bush and others joined in, all morally outraged that anyone would accuse the administration of misleading us into war by faking a belief that Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear and/or chemical and biological weapons.
I honestly don't have the vocabulary to express my disgust with these creeps; they really have exceeded the limits of what I thought were the worst possible insults.

But for Kinsley, this is a pretty strong article. It's almost like it couldn't have been written by the same guy who wrote some of those crappy articles I've discussed here recently. Which must say something about just how much of a monster Dick Cheney must be, to inspire this.

(Via The Carpetbagger Report.)

23:13 GMT

Runway lights

Jerome Doolittle compares Darth Cheney's words with secret intel from Osama.

Torture! Shadow of the Hegemon looks at the problem with the moral argument, and Sisyphus Shrugged spells out the administration case and also learns: According to prominent socialist publication The Financial Times, one of the reasons Justice is willing to damage its legal position on the executive privilege question to keep this out of the Supreme Court is that they emphatically do not have the support of Our Fearless Leader's favoritest jurist, Justice Scalia.

David Ignatius catches up with the left-blogosphere: Of all the reversals the United States has suffered in recent years, this may be the worst. We are slowly shredding the fabric that defines what it means to be an American. No kiddin'.

Borat supports Kazakh government's attack on Sacha Baron Cohen: "I like to state, I have no connection with Mr Cohen and fully support my government's position to sue this Jew." Savvy response to that "someone's agenda" business....

21:50 GMT

Blog & rum

The excellent Mahablog on what should really be one of the biggest stories anywhere quotes the equally excellent Dahlia Lithwick on Public Enemy No. 43,527:

Had Padilla been charged and tried back in the summer of 2002, rather than touted as some Bond villain-the Prince of Radiological Dispersion-his case would have stood for a simple legal proposition: that if you are a terrorist, a supporter of terrorism, or a would-be terrorist, the government will hunt you down and punish you. Had the government waited, tested its facts, kept expectations low, then delivered a series of convictions of even small-time al-Qaida foot soldiers, we in this country would feel safer and we would doubtless be safer. Instead Padilla, like Hamdi, was used as fodder for big speeches. They became the justification for Bush's position that some people are so evil that the law does not deter them, that new legal systems must be invented-new systems that bear a striking resemblance to those discredited around the time of Torquemada.
Firedoglake has offered Judith Miller a job for real. Trouble is, I really don't think Miller cares enough about freedom of the press and government accountability to take it. (And kudos to Jane for this sentence: "And Regnery isn't really a press, it's more like wingnut welfare.") Meanwhile, ReddHedd notes that when Dems stick together, everybody wins.

Alterman is good this week on the death of our Constitution and also what a twerp Bob Woodward is.

And to think I nearly missed this story: Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, heavily criticized for his agency's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, is starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm to help clients avoid the sort of errors that cost him his job. Via the lovely TBogg. (More from Lance Mannion.)

Another reason why Bill Richardson shouldn't be our presidential nominee in 2008. Which means, of course, yet one more reason why Al Gore should be.

Trust the goperatives to turn one minor technical glitch into another sign of the liberal media conspiracy. (Also: A farewell to Link Wray.)

Shailagh Murray observes in the WaPo that one refreshing thing about Jack Murtha is that he doesn't want to be president. There's lots of spin in this article, though: Democrats suspect that Republicans dialed back their criticisms after taking into account Murtha's hawkish track record. Can it possibly be that Republicans "dialed back" (as little as they did) because their constituents were obviously disgusted by the attacks on Murtha?

The Bush Plus Financial Plan

18:10 GMT

Late for breakfast

I don't know if it will appear in the Guardian as well but it's worth putting up with the advertising at Salon to read Sidney Blumenthal's The long march of Dick Cheney, with all that valuable content I wish the news media had presented to the public back when it mattered. It's just an outline of the horror that is Darth Cheney, but most of us had no idea what a dangerous maniac he really is and has always been, and everyone thought he would be a sensible, mature, moderating force, rather than the agent of our nation's destruction. (You can also read this piece at Empire Burlesque if you really can't bring yourself to click through the Salon ads. Chris also has his own Moscow Times article on Murtha, First Light, posted at EB. And there's a lot of other good stuff there, too. I can't bring myself to watch the Fallujah video clips but you might be made of sterner stuff.)

Crooks and Liars has the video of Paul Hackett on Hardball.

Just in case you were wondering whether it was worth your effort to take a look at Jonah Goldberg's column's in the LAT, Busy, Busy, Busy has saved us the time: A lie for a just cause and The rise of the bland old party. There are other good time-saving posts there, too, of course.

Local fannish news alert: PNN reports that Walker's is closing and will not be available for the next 'Ton. Paul Treadaway says that given the short timeline involved, he has decided to "unilaterally book the cellar bar of the Melton Mowbray for Thursday 1 December."

13:33 GMT

Thursday, 24 November 2005

Debating torture

I normally wouldn't recommend such a thing, but apart from being able to convey to people that they could be tortured themselves and that they'd really hate it, there's no way to reach people intellectually on the morality of torture; they either get it or they don't. It's a point to remember if you're of a mind to go down the path of Kevin Drum of Political Animal:

Over at Unfogged, Ogged picks up on my biggest frustration with the current state of the torture debate: namely that it's almost impossible to convincingly make the moral case against torture to anyone who's not already predisposed to think it's immoral. Stripped to its core, I realize that the only real argument I have against torture is "But don't you see that it's wrong? Don't you?" And that's just immensely frustrating, because if you don't see it then I have no ammunition left.
You don't argue with these people on this subject. There's no point. And you have to remember that the things they believe - about the place of women, about the depravity of Bill Clinton's sex life, about gays and liberals - are just things they were told. It wasn't: "Don't you see that homosexuality is morally wrong?" It was: "Homosexuality is wrong." These people aren't moral reasoners, they're what happens when you let graffiti stay on a blank wall.

These people want to torture. They will accept any reasoning that justifies torture. They will reject your arguments against it. So don't waste your time.

Just say: "Torture is wrong." It's just that simple. Decent people understand this. No argument is necessary. You can embellish it with, "Torture is immoral," or "Only thugs torture," but intellectual persuasion is beside the point. If they don't understand that torture is wrong, they shouldn't be allowed out.

The people you can argue with are the ones who already realize it's wrong, but have become confused by arguments that it's necessary, that we're in an emergency and have to do desperate things in self-defense. You can probably make a little headway with them if you keep the arguments against torture in the air long enough that they might actually have to think about them - long enough to calm their sense of panic.

But someone who doesn't get the moral wrongness of torture is probably never going to understand the difference between right and wrong.

16:43 GMT

Only words

Consider the abuse of language that Jim Hoagland aids and abets in Faith-Based Politics:

The much-dismissed trip said little about Asia but everything about Bush. Religion and democracy were at the top of his agenda there. It was the highlight of what has become a relentless attempt to reverse the recent secularization of U.S. foreign policy as well as other aspects of national life.

The annual Thanksgiving Day proclamation Bush issued also captured the paradoxical American commitments to observing religious freedom for all while surviving as one nation under God. In his version of the ritual document originated by the Founding Fathers, Bush asked God "to watch over America."

He seems more comfortable than most of his predecessors in stressing and reconciling in public his own commitments to religion and democracy, the two grand themes -- and moving forces -- of his presidency. They are the irreducible elements of governance for Bush at home and abroad. American secularists, and others, may see danger in this juxtaposition, but Bush sees it as the solution.

It is true that Bush uses the word "democracy" and refers to God a lot, but there is no evidence that he has any interest in democracy or feels any fealty to a creator. He says a lot of things that aren't true, and as near as I can tell, these are among them. His most evident emphasis is on consolidating his own power and that of an unrestrained executive - transforming the office of the president into the power of a ruthless despot.

This is, of course, entirely counterproductive to democracy, and there is no paradox in exploiting the power of the idea of religion as a basis for the divine right of kings.

Since this is all quite obvious, it leads to a serious question about the degree to which being a part of the Washington blitherati erases such knowledge from people's minds and leads them to believe that the mere claims for a democratic agenda from someone who is clearly dictatorial represent reality just because he says so. Or whether they know that what they write is bunk, but that the job of "journalist" in Washington has now become much the same thing as Winston Smith's, re-writing reality to coincide with Big Brother's program.

Also in today's WaPo: Toles vs. Toles, once again, I think I prefer today's unpublished cartoon.

13:56 GMT

Web surfin'

Susie is exactly right about how seriously we can take Alito's assurances that he's not really an extremist right-wing fruitcake.

The Independent now has the story on US use of white phosphorus in Fallujah. Saddam was a bad, bad man, but now George Bush has taken over for him.

Think Progress did a mini-interview with E.J. Dionne, asking five questions about some hot topics. I especially liked this: I think that liberals should do what they've always done when they're successful, which is to say they are the party that's expanded ownership. That nothing has expanded ownership more than the GI bill, the student loans that gave people the opportunity to get higher paying jobs. So no one's against ownership. The question is how do you spread it around?

I've heard some people say that Al Jazeera is the counterpart to FOX n\News, but that's not actually the impression I have. Steve Clemons has a view that's a bit more consistent with mine. If they were a bunch of liars, Bush would never have wanted to bomb them; it's the truth he fears.

Gosh, this sure looks pretty.

Go here, write some words, and then click the arrow to hear it sung back to you. (Thanks to Dominic for the tip, and via his page, a reminder that Sony and the RIAA hate America and that Orrin Hatch wants to destroy your computer.

Don't forget: It's Koufax Pledge Drive season.

02:49 GMT

Local news

We went and saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. 'Tweren't bad.

Mr. Sideshow has now scanned all of the photos from Vince Clarke's, Ethel Lindsay's, and our various fannish albums, and put them on CD. There are pictures in there I didn't know existed, and I found a couple I'd entirely forgotten, probably because I don't drink much and a little wine goes a long way with me. Here and here. (Man, I have great hair.) I only mention this because someone at Political Animal was complaining about the photo on my bio page.

00:33 GMT

Wednesday, 23 November 2005

It's here

TChris at TalkLeft has been writing about the case of Jose Padilla, and I want to emphasize that this is a truly terrifying case.

It's not that Padilla isn't a creep, you understand, but under the law as the administration seems to interpret it, he doesn't have to be - they can just declare someone an "enemy combatant" and from that moment on the legal requirements of US law do not apply, even if they are an American citizen.

This is the point where you can no longer say things like, "It's like a police state." Because it already is a police state when people can be summarily relieved of any right to due process.

22:30 GMT

I need more coffee

Kevin Drum is back at Political Animal with a post on the story of how Tony Blair had to talk Bush out of bombing Al Jazeera. Yeah, I know, my first thought was, "but he did bomb Al Jazeera!" A little bit different, though: President Bush planned to bomb Arab TV station al-Jazeera in friendly Qatar, a "Top Secret" No 10 memo reveals. Ohhhhh....

Jane Hamsher lines up the suspects for Mr. X and plays Clue: I'll Take Dick Cheney in the Bathroom With the Defibrillator.

Arthur Silber reminds us that the whole "bad intelligence" meme is really dangerous to us and increases the likelihood of Bush trying to invade another country. It's not the intel that's the problem, it's the decisions at the top.

Fox news is refusing to air the anti-Alito ad. Via C&L, where I also found this excellent gift idea.

Scoobie Davis looks at a really bad book and celebrates Chick Tract Day.

GOTV on the draft Gore movement: Kos wrote some harsh words about fantasy candidates. If we want Gore to run, we will have to do this. It will be a genuine draft movement, not a publicity stunt. That means we will have to recruit Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire to circulate petitions to put Gore on the ballot without Gore campaigning. So, who's ready to go out and campaign for Our President?

Go to Cursor right now for a quick and comprehensive round-up of the Get Out of Iraq politics.

I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the news, so check out Rachel's blog for the hot headlines.

God it's a relief not to have to worry about someone else's template....

13:55 GMT

Breaking: The smoking gun

I just posted this at Political Animal, but I'm posting it here in case anyone looks here first; it's timely if you want to hear Waas talk about it on AAR tonight.

This pretty solidly shows that the White House had pretty definitive intel that Saddam had nothing to do with Osama:


Murray Waas has just posted this at The National Journal:

Key Bush Intelligence Briefing Kept From Hill Panel

Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda, according to government records and current and former officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter.
One of the more intriguing things that Bush was told during the briefing was that the few credible reports of contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda involved attempts by Saddam Hussein to monitor the terrorist group. Saddam viewed Al Qaeda as well as other theocratic radical Islamist organizations as a potential threat to his secular regime. At one point, analysts believed, Saddam considered infiltrating the ranks of Al Qaeda with Iraqi nationals or even Iraqi intelligence operatives to learn more about its inner workings, according to records and sources.

Waas will be discussing this tonight on Air America during it's Majority Report show, already on the air. (Listen online using RealPlayer or WMP.)

00:29 GMT

Tuesday, 22 November 2005

Further to our story....

Peter Daou does some great debunking in THE STRAW MEN OF IRAQ: Ten Pro-War Fallacies: For every foreign policy expert who says that Iraq will be worse off without U.S. troops, there's another who will tell you the exact opposite is true. In the absence of any sound predictive capabilities, the endgame should be based on the opening: i.e. the sooner you end something that started out wrong and has had terrible consequences, the better.

Bruce Schneier on The erosion of freedom: The FBI has two basic tools for gathering information on large groups of Americans. Both were created in the 1970s to gather information solely on foreign terrorists and spies. Both were greatly expanded by the USA Patriot Act and other laws, and are now routinely used against ordinary, law-abiding Americans who have no connection to terrorism. Together, they represent an enormous increase in police power in the United States.

Yes, even Stella Rimington doesn't like them. Ex-MI5 boss, House of Lords give ID cards thumbs down: "ID cards have possibly some purpose," the BBC quotes her as saying. "But I don't think that anybody in the intelligence services, particularly in my former service, would be pressing for ID cards." (via)

Christopher Hayes writing at In These Times, Who is Sherrod Brown? An unabashed progressive takes aim at a Senate seat in Ohio. Brown and Paul Hackett are both vying for the Democratic nomination, and Hackett has earned a lot of love from his earlier run against Jean Schmidt - but who's the guy to get behind?

Neil McKenzie Cameron asks, Misled or Stupid? I vote for stupid, myself. Come on, they said Saddam was likely to launch a nuclear strike by Christmas at the latest, and he could do it in 45 minutes! This is deranged. He'd never tested a nuke, and he had no delivery systems. He could not possibly have done anything of the kind. How could anyone in Congress not understand this? You don't need to see PDBs to know this - it's as plain as the nose on my face.

One thing you can say for Liberality For All - it's a higher-quality product than Reagan's Raiders was. The jury is still out on who it's really parodying. Don't forget to click on the sample pages.

Trust Lambert to ask the important questions: Why do Republicans have disgusting eating habits? Can it be that they actually prefer corporate swill?

Sign here to draft Al Gore for 2008.

19:26 GMT


Posted at Kevin Drum's joint, my plaint on how the Democratic leadership ignores the valuable resources of the left blogosphere, And The Truth Will Set You Free. (Come to think of it, if you agree, maybe you should forward it to your Democratic Senators and Congressmen.)

Why we invaded Iraq: Iraqis face the dire prospect of losing up to $200bn (£116bn) of the wealth of their country if an American-inspired plan to hand over development of its oil reserves to US and British multinationals comes into force next year. Yeah, but Michael Moore is fat. Via Steve Soto.

I see "Danny" Bubp is now denying that he said anything to "disparage" Jack Murtha: "He feels as though the words that Congresswoman Schmidt chose did not represent their conversation."

Wayne Uff at Bad Attitudes: But one admirable thing I heard (unconfirmed) from someone pretty well-versed in White House minutiae is that throughout his public career, including the White House years, Bush the Elder had a policy of never going off the record with reporters.

Jane Smiley says the US is no longer a Superpower: We are a country that can no longer pay our bills, no longer wage an effective military action, and no longer protect our citizens from disaster. And it doesn't matter what fiscal responsibility individuals show, what bravery individual soldiers show, or what generosity individual Americans show. As a nation - as a geopolitical entity - we have been stripped of all of our superpowers and many of our powers, and it has been done quickly and efficiently, in the name of blind patriotism, by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and their neocon advisors. Via The Low Road.

The sky looks gorgeous, I think I'll wrap up warm and take a walk.

13:55 GMT

Monday, 21 November 2005

My evening news

I'm busy watching Dispatches. which tonight is a feature on how we got into "the greatest foreign policy failure since Munich." So far there are some details I didn't know but most of it is pretty much what I've been seeing all along, and what I have always known. It's worth seeing if you can. "The matter has passed largely out of our hands."

Now we can say it: Getting Out of Iraq by Norman Solomon, One War Lost, Another to Go by Frank Rich, and Time to Leave by Paul Krugman. And check out Blogenlust at the new address for more.

Digby: To some extent civilization is nothing more than leashing the beast within. When you go to the dark side, no matter what the motives, you run a terrible risk of destroying yourself in the process. I worry about the men and women who are engaging in this torture regime. This is dangerous to their psyches. But this is true on a larger sociological scale as well.

John Nichols & Robert W. McChesney have something for us in The Nation, Bush's War on the Press: To be sure, every administration has tried to manipulate the nation's media system. Bill Clinton's wrongheaded support for the Telecommunications Act of 1996 cleared the way for George W. Bush's attempts to give media companies the power to create ever larger and more irresponsible monopolies. But with its unprecedented campaign to undermine and, where possible, eliminate independent journalism, the Bush Administration has demonstrated astonishing contempt for the Constitution and considerable fear of an informed public. (via)

EFF sues Diebold and NC Board of Election of behalf of NC Voters, because: In a last-minute filing, e-voting equipment maker Diebold asked a North Carolina court to exempt it from tough new election requirements designed to ensure transparency in the state's elections. More Thoughtcrimes posts on Faith-based Voting here.

Fictional expert witness: In the Funky Winkerbean strip, a comic dealer is on trial for obscenity, and a witness on the stand is...John Byrne. Via Peter David.

Elayne Riggs has a few more pictures of the autumn scenery.

23:59 GMT

Things we said today
(Okay, not necessarily today, but it's a good song.)

If you run into anyone who still doesn't get the difference between the Murtha bill and the GOP fake bill to end deployment in Iraq, just point them here, where Gary makes it really, really simple. Gary also has a pointer to that important Rolling Stone story about Rendon.

The Little Prince was saying recently that our commanders on the ground will be making the decisions about what goes on in Iraq, so I guess it's interesting that they have drawn up plans to start withdrawing troops. Anne Zook makes a good point about that plan.

Susie Madrak: You know things are bad when even the neocons are pushing for energy efficiency.

Steve Benen looks at the legal murder of Ruben Cantu and its implications for the most obvious argument against the death penalty In this case, Cantu's co-defendant, David Garza, who'd been reluctant to talk about the murder-robbery since his trial, has now signed a sworn affidavit saying he allowed Cantu to be falsely accused. What's more, the man who survived the shooting -- the only eyewitness -- has recanted and told the Chronicle that he felt pressured by police to finger Cantu as the killer.

Mahabarb was watching Rummy talk to Steph: Rummy just told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week" that he didn't advocate the invasion of Iraq. However, he agreed with it. Now he's denying torture; "anything that was done that was not humane has been prosecuted." He says the President "from the outset" required humane treatment. He's tap dancing around Bush's threatened veto of the McCain Amendment. I can't stand it.

Alan Bostick was helping with the clean-up in Biloxi, where he took some pictures and met some racists.

The cut-and-paste Republicans win the Assclowns of the Week: "We All Inhaled" Edition.

Hm, Jay Rosen (of PressThink) is doing one of those WaPo online thingies where you get to send in questions. Rosen is usually the real thing, so this might actually be good. Send good questions in and you'll probably get good answers. (And speaking of PressThink, check out Lisa Williams' guest post on being a citizen journalist (in a town in Massachusetts I've actually been to, even).

19:41 GMT


I just posted a piece at Kevin Drum's site called Don't waste your respect on Tony Blair and, as usual, people think I'm a boy, but I was surprised that someone in the comments seemed to think that I'm a Tory just because I was critical of Blair (for being too much of a Tory!) and for pointing out that the unprincipled opposition by the Tories is the only thing that slowed-down his latest Tory-like initiative to deprive the people of their legal protections.

I say the Tory opposition is "unprincipled" because the policies they are opposing are the same ones they have always tried to push through when they've been in power. As with American conservatives, they aren't actually in favor of civil liberties. However, unlike the Democratic leadership, which is actually supposed to believe in civil liberties, they are prepared to be an opposition even though they don't really oppose what they're opposing. So, they've seized on the fact that Blair was trying to push through an unpopular conservative policy as a good reason to oppose him. Of course, it is a good reason to oppose him, but you can be sure they wouldn't be saying so if he was an out-of-the-closet Tory.

Blair is so conservative that his policies are actually more conservative than those of his actual Conservative predecessors. I don't have to like him.

14:51 GMT

Crooks and Liars archive #3

John is back at C&L now, I'm relieved to say. (And if he ever asked me to do it again, I sure hope he has more accessible blogging software.) However, Monday and Tuesday I'm sitting in at Political Animal while Kevin Drum is out of town.


Drug war corruption referencing Drug WarRant.

Bungled escape referencing a photo essay. [And an update: C&L now has the the video.)

10:30 GMT

Open windows

Here's a letter from the IHT:

In his patronizing essay, Roger Cohen proposes some good old American capitalism as a remedy for France's current social problems ("On French immigrants, the words left unsaid," Globalist, Nov. 12).

Can Cohen explain exactly how the American capitalist model has helped disenfranchised youth in the United States?

Furthermore, can Cohen please explain how the American capitalist model has helped to decrease the percentage of African-American men who are unemployed or in prison?

What about the staggering number of people without health insurance? The gap between rich and poor?

I am not denying that France has problems. And, yes, hypocrisy exists here as it does anywhere else. But it is astonishing to hear the U.S. economic model proudly invoked as a cure for France's economic and social woes, when that very model has backfired on its own citizens. [Parker McComas, Paris]

Dave Johnson of Seeing the Forest has a warning about danger on the left coast: Apparently the Republican Secretary of State in California may be stealthily REVERSING the previous Democratic Secretary of State's decertification of Diebold paperless voting machines! Raw Story and Brad Blog have stories about this (links below).

Is it true? Are the LA police actually going back to old-fashioned policing? Did Joe Biden really talk about filibustering Alito? Will the DOJ begin a criminal probe of Halliburton? That would all be good news. On the other hand, Did Texas execute an innocent man?

Scott Lemieux on the curious phenomenon of "moderates" who like George Bush because he is a progressive liberal. Via Liberalism without Cynicism.

Satan, the War in Iraq, and Richard Land - Bob Broughton discovers another right-wing crackpot on his radio.

Moose and Squirrel asked me to alert people about The Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, who are activists for stem cell research.

Paul Craig Roberts: Nothing more effectively undercuts the image that Bush paints of America as the land of freedom, liberty and democracy than the Republican Party's destruction of habeas corpus. (via)

David Neiwert is up to part four of his series on Michelle Malkin, "Unhinged: Unhonest", Hunting Liberals.

The children of Incurious George.

01:49 GMT

Sunday, 20 November 2005

Seen and heard

Young Attitude: Latino full cup bra

Bra of the Week

Charles Laquidara has a weblog, and his song of the week is Quicksilver's "Edward, the Mad Shirt Grinder". Check it out. (I found his site via Yep, another Goddamned blog .)

John Aravosis has a good response to the latest from the WaPo ombudsbeing, Washington Post ombudsman lets Woodward off the hook. She deserves every word of it. Not that there weren't ominous signs in the earlier column I discussed below, but this is just plain covering up the crap on the floor by throwing a rug over it. Ick. And: He is allowed to keep juicy stories to himself until his latest book is unveiled on the front page of The Post. He is the master of the anonymous source. So, none of that timely "newspaper" stuff about telling the public what's going on in a timely fashion, then, eh? God, it's disgusting. And, like John says, Woodward's excuse for not exposing all this sooner, even to his boss, is a blatant lie that the alleged ombudsman should not be trying to feed us. (via)

The APOD folks called it Lunation (I would have called it "Lunamation", but maybe I'm wrong. No, I'm not.) I noticed it while I was over at Blah3 and went to the source to look for it, and while I was there I also liked Mountains of Creation and Thor's Helmet. (Also: Hey, look, it's a Green Lantern!)

Crooks and Liars has good video:

And here's another link that didn't post properly at C&L, to another graceful George W. Bush moment.

19:40 GMT

What are reporters for?

Looking at WaPo Ombud Deborah Howell's piece on anonymous sourcing, I have to wonder whether this is some special spin cooked up to paint over what's going on, or do the leading voices at one of the leading newspapers really not understand what's wrong with the fact that more and more, the paper looks like a gossip column rather than, well, a serious newspaper.

The thought of reporters testifying as prosecution witnesses in the Libby case frightened many at the conference. Lucy Dalglish, a lawyer and former reporter who is executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said, "The public must have access to truth as much as possible, but reporters can't become agents of government prosecutions or civil litigants." Most participants felt there should be a federal law to shield reporters from having to identify their sources; most states have laws offering some protection.
We've already noticed that Ms. Dalglish and her organization seem to be in thrall to the conservative spin machine, but let's face it, this statement is laughable in light of current events. Let's look at that again:
"The public must have access to truth as much as possible, but reporters can't become agents of government prosecutions or civil litigants."
No, instead they should be agents of government criminality, eh?

Reporters testifying as witnesses aren't "agents of government prosecutions or civil litigants" when they are reporting to the public - and in Plame and Wen Ho Lee cases, the court represents the public - about serious criminal activities that the government is perpetrating against individual American citizens and against the American people.

If these reporters had been doing their jobs, these confessions in court would not be necessary, because that criminality would have been exposed in the pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post when it actually mattered - before the administration lied us into war, and before the general election last November. The public had a right to know that the information we were being given about the threat from Saddam Hussein was untrue, but our media did not choose to tell us. The public had a right to know that the administration had actually exposed a CIA agent and her cover, compromising our national security, in order to smear someone who was making a legitimate criticism - but by their silence, these reporters facilitated the (alleged) re-election of a president and vice president who should already have been impeached.

What on earth did reporters at the Post and the Times think they had to report on that was more important than that?

Even Walter Pincus doesn't get it, apparently:

The Post's venerable national security reporter, Walter Pincus, was a strong voice for reporters who regularly use anonymous sources; he said that when sources "take a risk of losing their jobs or facing legal action" to give reporters information, "we ought to take the same kind of risk."
But in aid of what? Who cares if you have off-the-record quotes from unnamed officials that in essence are just telling you that the administration is right and everyone else is wrong? We already know that the administration thinks it's right, or at least wants us to think so. They say this stuff on the record all the time, so why would we need to hear them say it anonymously as well?
Two Page 1 stories last week drew reader comment and illustrate why such sources are used. One was Dana Priest's story on Wednesday, disclosing the CIA's covert prison system in Eastern Europe for suspected al Qaeda terrorists. She tapped domestic and international sources developed over nearly three years on the national security beat. Priest said none of her sources could have talked on the record for fear of losing their jobs, because much of the information is classified. Yet the story revealed an important and hitherto unknown aspect of counterterrorism efforts.
Yes, and the public deserves to know what's being done in our name. Iraqis already know we are disappearing members of their communities and torturing them. Leaders in other countries know we are using their countries as places to torture the disappeared. This is a good use of anonymous sourcing and I'm sure anyone who hasn't bought the administration line on how we aren't supposed to criticize them understands why Priest's sources had to be anonymous. But that isn't what the Woodward and Miller cases have been about, is it?

NewsBusters also had an insightful response to Howell's column:

Maybe most interesting, when Howell questioned Post reporter Peter Baker on this issue, he responded:
"You're right, too many of our stories have anonymous quotes in them and perhaps this was an instance when we could have done without. but in the secrecy-obsessed Bush White House. anyone who talks - often those simply delivering the company line - can risk being shut out, so they don't like to jeopardize that. But. you raise a good point and we need to be as stingy as we can be on these sorts of things."
So, like everything else that's wrong in this country, anonymous sources are also the Bush administration's fault.

Howell finished her article:

"This is just the first column I'll write about anonymous sources. I'd like to hear from readers and journalists-and public officials-on this topic."
Well, Deborah, since you asked, you began your first article in your new position two weeks ago:
"I'm the new ombudsman on the block. I have two goals in this job: to foster good journalism and to increase understanding between The Post and its readers."
With that in mind, why don't you encourage your editors and reporters to follow the guidelines of the previous editor, Ben Bradlee? If you recall, before he published the intricate details surrounding the Watergate break-in, he demanded that someone corroborate "Deep Throat's" accounts, and go on the record.

That was good policy for journalists and media outlets then, and is sorely lacking now.

Too right.

13:03 GMT

Saturday, 19 November 2005

Politics in your feet

I just notice that I'd accidentally broken my RSS feed. Let me know if it still doesn't work.

I hate to say anything nice about John Kerry but at least he is standing up for Murtha and condemning Republican attacks on him. This is what everyone should have done for Durbin, and for Kerry. It would have been nice if Kerry had defended himself (as Murtha has demonstrated), but the other Dems owed it to their colleagues to stand firm against attacks on them rather than joining in (as they did anonymously last November and four years earlier against Gore). (via)

Kevin Drum has a remarkably generous theory about why Bob Woodward finally decided to come clean to Leonard Downie about his personal knowledge in the Plame leak, but Arianna figures Woodward finally spilled the beans because the cat was already out of the bag.

Bob Greiger has the Saturday editorial cartoons up for you. And there's another heading up Radar Contact's post Thank you, Jack.

Robert Scheer deconstructs The Big Lie Technique in The Nation: Clearly on the defensive, Bush now sounds increasingly Nixonian as he basically calls the majority of the country traitors for noticing he tricked us. Via TV News Lies.

IntoxiNation recounts the Republican's shenanigans in the House.

18:36 GMT

Crooks and Liars archive #2

Another C&L post got messed-up in transit, so here it is with the links intact:

See the 12-minute trailer of Rove's War at Take Back the Media.

In other links:

Daily Dissent now has four clips up from Murtha's House Speech, in which, among other things, he reads letters he has received.

Twenty Questions About Impeaching A Vice President, via Blah3.

And More on Ohio's Staggeringly Impossible '05 Results at The Brad Blog.

Other C&L posts:


And only one man could play him.... to Dubya (the movie) via Lance.

Murtha: Victory Is Not Strategy (to Daily Dissent)

16:53 GMT

They're just creeps, you know

The Rude Pundit, on the way to offering a swiftian suggestion, clarifies the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans in Congress: 'Cause, see, what Jack Murtha said yesterday was that he wants Americans to live, to survive: "They don't deserve to continue to suffer. They're the targets." And Democrats in the Congress who opposed the cruel budget cuts (and it's still a savage budget, even after the "compromise") are making the simple statement that people deserve to stay alive.

It's even worse than I thought, I learn from Kevin Drum, who got it from The Carpetbagger, who found this bit of overt racism: The chief sponsor of Georgia's voter identification law told the Justice Department that if black people in her district "are not paid to vote, they don't go to the polls," and that if fewer blacks vote as a result of the new law, it is only because it would end such voting fraud. And the conservative hacks at the Justice Department didn't think there were any civil rights issues involved, there. Hey, you really do have to be stupid to be a conservative!

You really should see this video of the House erupting when Jean Schmidt suggests that Murtha is a coward and Dems demand that her words be taken down. And I love her outfit!

02:21 GMT

Friday, 18 November 2005


FOX Flip Flops On Global Warming. The way I heard it, Roger Ailes (not the good one) went to see Al Gore's speech on the environment, and that could explain this report at News Hounds last week.

Juan Cole's rendition of "Blowin' in the Wind".

Robert Dreyfuss at TomPaine, Our Monsters In Iraq: It is time to start waving the bloody shirt. There is no longer any doubt that the men that the United States has installed in power in Iraq are monsters. Not only that, but they are monsters armed, trained and supported by George W. Bush's administration. The very same Bush administration that defends torture of captives in the so-called War on Terrorism is using 150,000 U.S. troops to support a regime in Baghdad for which torture, assassination and other war crimes are routine. But that's because of Our Monsters in the White House.

Via Atrios, ArmsControlWonk looks at "the cancer that is killing the Gray Lady" after the NYT refuses to print a correction to an article that misleadingly suggests that the US has proof that Iran is designing a nuclear weapon.

Via Caro (of), FEC: Blogs Are Just As Much "Press" As Everyone Else. Well, that's a relief.

Buzzflash TV demonstrates electronic voting.

19:37 GMT

More stuff to read

They really are a bunch of racists, but they're also people who don't believe in democracy. It doesn't really matter whether they did it to prevent blacks or Democrats from voting - the point is that they think they're the only ones who have a right to any say in our system of government:

Justice Plays Down Memo Critical of Ga. Voter ID Plan

The Justice Department yesterday played down the importance of a memorandum that concluded that a Georgia voter identification program would hurt black voters, saying the document was a draft that contained old data and faulty analysis.

The memo's conclusions were overruled by senior Justice officials, who announced Aug. 26 that the controversial voter plan could proceed because it was not retrogressive, or harmful to black voters, under the Voting Rights Act. The plan has since been blocked by the federal courts on constitutional grounds.

Here's WaPo honcho Leonard Downie tap-dancing around readers' questions on the fact that Bob Woodward's access to sources is used not to inform the public, but rather to further the PR operations of the GOP.

E.J. Dionne says there was "a political thunderclap across the capital yesterday" when Murtha said it was time to work for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, but John Warner's speech was an important landmark, too.

The WaPo says Walter Pincus is asking the judge to change her mind about whether he should "ask his confidential sources to waive their anonymity so that Pincus can name them in a lawsuit." Pincus is a good reporter and I hate to say it, but this is another case of a reporter confusing the value to the public of confidentiality with manipulations by an out-of-control government that uses the press to further an agenda that directly harms the public. It's long past time reporters rebelled against protecting people who sell them lies.

Profmarcus learns that Bush is good for something, quoting from this editor's column from the appropriate organ: President Bush and his administration may be failing miserably but Failure magazine couldn't be happier. Driven by a massive surge in failure-related Web searches, the independent online magazine - - is in the midst of a dramatic resurgence, with traffic and advertising revenue up over 500 percent in the past six weeks.

Official Announcement: Statement by the Press Secretary of The Funny Farm on Scott McClellan's (R - Mouth of Sauron) Statement on Congressman Murtha's Statement

17:10 GMT

In your eye

House Dems on WMD Intel
Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), the ranking member of the House Select Intelligence Committee, joins other House Democrats in a point-by-point rebuttal of pre-War intelligence on Iraqi WMDs. Rep. Harman has expressed concern that the Intelligence Cmte. is not honoring a June 2003 agreement to study pre-war intelligence. FRIDAY, 11AM ET, C-SPAN3
Rod Serling back from the grave

Great shots of Saturn's moons Dione and Tethys close together, here and here.

Television Ad War On Alito Begins: Liberals Try to Paint Explain that Court Pick as is Tool Of the Right Wing. And Independentcourt.Org Launches Alito Campaign With New TV Ad, Growing Grassroots Activism - you can watch it in QuickTime. (Via Liberal Oasis.)

Why will you wear black?

16:00 GMT

In your eye

House Dems on WMD Intel
Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), the ranking member of the House Select Intelligence Committee, joins other House Democrats in a point-by-point rebuttal of pre-War intelligence on Iraqi WMDs. Rep. Harman has expressed concern that the Intelligence Cmte. is not honoring a June 2003 agreement to study pre-war intelligence. FRIDAY, 11AM ET, C-SPAN3
Rod Serling back from the grave

Great shots of Saturn's moons Dione and Tethys close together, here and here.

Television Ad War On Alito Begins: Liberals Try to Paint Explain that Court Pick as is Tool Of the Right Wing. And Independentcourt.Org Launches Alito Campaign With New TV Ad, Growing Grassroots Activism - you can watch it in QuickTime. (Via Liberal Oasis.)

Why will you wear black?

16:00 GMT

Crooks and Liars archive #1

John from Crooks and Liars will be out of town for a few days going to the funeral of a close friend, and he's asked a few of us to sit in for him while he's away. You might want to leave a comment here with your condolences and also let him know you miss him. (I already do miss him - I'm used to relying on him for all those clips from television.)

C&L doesn't use a simple blogging interface like Blogger or Moveable Type, so we're having to post via e-mail and it's a bit complicated (and doesn't let me go back and correct), so when I did some test posts last night it took me a few tries to get it right. I've also posted one today. These were:

Testing, testing....

Bush's place in history

"a vice president for torture"

At Media Matters for America

14:38 GMT

Just the news

Maybe they'll filibuster the Patriot Act: A bipartisan group of six senators said Thursday that they would try to block a measure to renew the nation's primary anti-terrorism law unless provisions are added that restrict law enforcement from investigating "innocent people." It's not enough, but it's something. I'm glad their deal seems to have "fizzled".

From Rachel: I heart AMTRAK. The AMTRAK Board hates AMTRAK. The AMTRAK Board fired competent AMTRAK President David Gunn. Luckily for the country, the AMTRAK Board appears to be freaking out-of-its-skull illegal. And they didn't even bother to show up for their Congressional oversight hearing. Score 1 for passenger rail. Now bring back Gunn, you anti-government toadies.

When a hawk who supported the invasion suddenly stands up and calls for a pull-out, Republicans behave predictably: In sometimes vitriolic terms, Republican leaders accused Democrats of siding with terrorists, and Democrats countered that Bush deceived the nation in starting a war that he has no strategy for ending. The bitter exchanges came as polls show Americans are increasingly eager to have Iraqis assume control so U.S. troops can come home. (Also, Dana Milbank: An Unlikely Lonesome Dove.)

Remember when Al Gore called on Rumsfeld, Rice, Tenet, and Feith to resign? Well, at least the last two did, but I'm happy to say that the Pentagon will investigate Feith's role in the invasion: The Pentagon's inspector general has agreed to review the prewar intelligence activities of former U.S. defense undersecretary Douglas J. Feith, a main architect of the Iraq war, congressional officials said yesterday.

Yesterday the House actually killed the disgusting spending bill, then spent five hours hunting up new votes to pass it after midnight. CNN: Still, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, and Acting Majority Leader Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, were buoyant -- if exhausted -- after sweating out a big victory on the budget cut bill. They extended the tax cuts and cut a lot of things that most Americans think their taxes should pay for.

12:18 GMT

Supporting the troops

One of the annoying stories of the last few days is that Tom Harkin's attempt to add a liberal voice to Armed Forces Radio (I think by trying to get them to air Ed Schultz's show) is being characterized by Rush Limbaugh as Harkin's attempt to remove Limbaugh from Armed Forces Radio. Limbaugh is currently the only political talk host currently being aired by them.

Ditto-heads have fallen for this, of course, and one phoned in and suggested a campaign to get people to "adopt a soldier" and send that soldier a subscription to Limbaugh's newsletter for just under fifty bucks.

Now, here's the thing: Limbaugh's newsletter is online, and it would cost him nothing to simply give away those subscriptions to the troops, but he's not doing that. He's making his fans send him the money for those subscriptions. If this was anything other than sheer profiteering, he'd tell people to send their money to the USO, or at least go to the USO site and see what kind of programs they are doing for the troops. For example, our troops need phone cards so they can phone home - a big expense for them. (And other things.) Or Rush's listeners could contact other groups that are organized to support the troops and their families. Their money would go a lot farther that way.

Of course, if he really wanted to support the troops, he would get on board with Murtha.

03:13 GMT

Thursday, 17 November 2005


The WaPo has last night's news on the tentative deal on the Patriot Act reached in Congress. I'm disappointed that so little has gone into pushing to get it killed altogether, personally.

A scary headline from The Fix: Bob Shrum Is Back (Sort of). It seems he's got a book, 'cause everyone needs his advice to help them lose. Best news is the rumor that he's helping Arnold - but alas, he denies it.

Also at The Fix, news that the DNC has responded (with this video) to the RNC's attack.

Taylor Marsh has a good response to Dick Cheney's temerity in blaming other people for his own irresponsibility in W.'s Dick Speaks.

17:31 GMT

Gimme that old-time religion

What we need at the top are more fiery liberals and fewer "respectable" wimps, because the other side is not afraid to lie and manipulate. Susan at An Age Like This has some examples of the danger the other side presents, such as this inspirational speaker:

The former Republican speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, always notable for his visions, has compared George Bush in his travails to Abraham Lincoln before Gettysburg. Gingrich, who has recently written a series of counterfactual novels depicting a southern triumph in the civil war, communicated his latest flight of fancy to a longtime former diplomat. "We are at war," insisted Gingrich. "With whom?" he was asked. "The Democrats," he apparently replied without hesitation.
King of Zembla notes that E.J. Dionne recognizes how Democratic wimpiness helped Bush advance to war, but defends Dems on the grounds that Bush2 was less honest than Bush1, and used the timing of the election to help frighten Dems into voting with him. But Simbaud is not so willing to give H.W. that much credit:
All of which is largely true, but we must take issue with the notion that the debate over Gulf War I was paradigmatically "honest." The Senate approved Bush's declaration of war by a narrow five-vote margin. Anyone care to bet that the extremely dramatic, extremely fictitious testimony of the nonexistent "Nurse Nariyah" -- in real life, a Kuwaiti ambassador's daughter coached by the DC PR firm of Hill & Knowlton to sell Congress a cock-and-bull story about Iraqi soldiers dumping babies out of incubators -- didn't sway a couple or three votes?
Okay, so both Bushes lied. But I don't think this is much of an excuse, either. What we pay these legislators for most of all is to do their homework, study the issues, not take on faith whatever information is thrown at them or just floating around in the ether - to know the things that the rest of us are too busy to learn or just not privy to. And they knew that politicians have always lied their people into war, surely? It wasn't that long ago that we got scammed into a place called Vietnam and both parties were more than complicit.

Those in Congress in 2002 surely knew that the elder Bush's witness had been debunked. And every one of them knew that Saddam had never tested an atomic weapon and had no delivery systems, and his chances of being able to launch a nuclear strike against us "in 45 minutes", or even by Christmas, weren't even as good as my chances of winning next year's Miss America contest. They all should have known already that they were being scammed, and been prepared to say so straight up. Where the hell were they?

16:43 GMT

Stenographer to the stars

Atrios and Josh Marshall are both doing great follow-ups on the Bob Woodward angle (and Greg Anrig, Jr. reminds us that Joan Didion was right). Josh takes care of the latest oppo spin here.

(Josh is also very readable on the subject of Cheney generally, and provides us with this quote from John Kerry: It is hard to name a government official with less credibility on Iraq than Vice President Cheney. The Vice President continues to mislead America about how we got into Iraq and what must be done to complete the still unaccomplished mission.)

Among many good posts on the subject at Eschaton, these nuggets from The Situation Room transcript in which Blitzer presses WaPo Executive Editor Leonard Downie on the remarkable silence of Woodward on a story he was very much a part of, and his explanation for why they were not on the job: "We must maintain the sanctity of these source relationships." Yikes.

Also via Atrios, Will Bunch on Woodward, and a couple of things in a comment there from AvengingAngel:

Q: What's the difference between Bob Woodward and Monica Lewinsky?
A: Woodward actually swallowed a load from the President.

For Woodward's statement on his deposition, the WaPo article and all the latest articles, briefings, timelines and other CIA Leak documents, see:

"The PlameGate Scandal Center"

And this one from Ammonite:
Your tip of the hat to I.F. Stone is particularly apt for the current fiasco and its pathetic display of reporters and journalists who have lost their way. I well remember talking with Stone when he was still publishing his Weekly. It was a point of pride to him that he always refused to attend any briefing by a government source if there was a condition that the source remain anonymous. Stone figured that that was always a signal that the reporters were being played.

The whole current generation of Washington 'reporters' have proved how right he was.

Raw Story says National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley was Woodward's source, and there have been no denials from Hadley or Cheney.

Paul Lukasiak also notes that, "Apparently, Woodward is in the habit of "pre-clearing" his questions for upper-level government officials with subordinates," and says, "But sending a detailed list of specific questions you 'want to ask' turns journalism into little more than political theatrics masquerading as reporting."

But Carl Bernstein thinks it's mean for people to be jumping on Woodward for not being a decent journalist.

In related journalistic news, Walter Pincus is now on the hotseat for refusing to reveal the sources that used him to libel nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee.

13:44 GMT

Wednesday, 16 November 2005

News, reviews, and cha cha cha

Smears, Lies and Videotape: A Leak Scandal Documentary - Think Progress provides a quick, easy-to-follow reminder of what the story is all about.

Mahabarb recounts Adventures With Dick: There's corruption inside of corruption inside of corruption in this story. It just doesn't stop.

Bill Scher has interviewed Joe Conason on the occasion of the release of his latest book, The Raw Deal. And via Bill, the Basie! Interview with George McGovern.

Keith Olbermann is my hero for laying it on the line about this amazingly lame song. Via Nico Pitney.

Disinterested Party thinks the Dems are being too timid about fighting Alito's nomination.

Scoobie Davis thinks the new Jack Chick strip shows the man may be losing his edge.

23:46 GMT


John Gorenfeld on Ambassador de Sade: But where Melvin Sembler, 74, demands attention is as an object lesson in how cruelty can be redeemed by the transformative power of political donations.

Robert Ambrogi at Media Law on Judges, journalists and openness.

Crooks and Liars has video of Bob Kerrey on Colbert saying that when Bush claims the Democrats had the same intel that the White House saw, "He's not telling the truth."

With Bush reverting to his old policy of dealing with criticism by attacking the patriotism of his critics, it's refreshing to have unpredictable Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) defending Americans who speak out: "To question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your government is unpatriotic," Hagel said, arguing that 58,000 troops died in Vietnam because of silence by political leaders. "America owes its men and women in uniform a policy worthy of their sacrifices."

John Emerson says: You should have listened to the doves. (And Dave Johnson says that one major right-wing site is even banning people for saying that Sun Myung Moon is the publisher of The Washington Times.)

Nathan Newman notes another under-discussed problem in Alito's anti-democratic statements. Alito: In college, I developed a deep interest in constitutional law, motivated in large part by disagreement with Warren Court decisions, particularly in the areas of criminal procedure, the Establishment Clause, and reapportionment. Newman: "Reapportionment"?

Christopher Hitchens luvs Saddam!!!!!

David Neiwert talks about the right to privacy and why the Roberts court looks likely to destroy it - and supports a suggestion from Dan Savage that it's time to campaign for a general right to privacy. Because it would be fun to watch conservatives argue against it.

Did you hear that the FCC wants to raise your phone taxes?

Tom Tomorrow asks: Stupid or lying?

18:16 GMT

What's past is prologue

Josh Marshall is spending the day compiling administration lies that led up to war. Here's a small collection of Dick Cheney lies.

I missed the story in 2002, when The Washington Times claimed that black Republican Michael S. Steele, Maryland's Lieutenant Governor, was pelted by opponents with a deluge of Oreo cookies. But questions have been raised about it, and just the other day Governor Ehrlich was decrying any "revisionism" about the event. But when The Baltimore Sun checked it out, they learned that no Oreos had been found by the clean-up crew. WTOP couldn't find any evidence, either. And the guy at The Washington Times who originally reported the alleged incident? When pressed, Miller said he couldn't swear in court that Steele did get hit with cookies because he didn't actually see it happen.

The Brad Blog has posted a letter from former intel officials demanding accountability in the leak case: A group of 16 former intelligence officials sent a letter to George W. Bush earlier today expressing their outrage over "the breach of trust between this Administration and members of the intelligence community that has resulted from the Valerie Plame case."

So Bob Woodward turns out to be part of the story. Not really surprising, since, as Atrios points out, Woodward has been pontificating on the Plame leak for quite a while, full of White House talking points down-playing the whole thing. And he's part of Washington Post editorial management, which tells you something about why the paper has been such a disaster in reporting on this administration.

16:38 GMT

Too much news

My god there's a lot of news. I gotta go out for a few minutes, so here's just a taste:

Raid on torture dungeon exposes Iraq's secret war: An American official acknowledged: "It is getting more and more like Mogadishu every day." This is what we've spent hundreds of billions of dollars to accomplish.

Now you know why Republicans wouldn't put them under oath when they testified that they had nothing to do with it: Document Says Oil Chiefs Met With Cheney Task Force: The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.

12:23 GMT

Things I learned today

Don Fitch sent this along:

AOL Poll results, evening of 14 November 2005

Does the government provide a balanced view of the situation in Iraq?
No 82%
Yes 18%
Total Votes: 173,691

Does the media provide a balanced view of the situation in Iraq?
No 71%
Yes 29%
Total Votes: 172,957

How important is it to debate the reasons we went to war?
Very 66%
Not at all 24%
Somewhat 10%
Total Votes: 224,534

Do Samuel Alito's views on abortion affect your opinion of him?
Yes, negatively 66%
Yes, positively 23%
No 11%

Do you think he should be confirmed to the Supreme Court?
No 71%
Yes 29%
Total Votes: 16,907

I'm not on AOL so I don't know how to gauge this, but it's not exactly inconsistent with a lot of other polls these days.

In other news:

Kazakh government threatens to sue Borat: Ministry threatened legal action on Monday against comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who wins laughs by portraying the central Asian state as a country populated by drunks who enjoy cow-punching as a sport. Yeah, that'll be real smart.

One Ring to rule them all - in Silly Putty.

04:01 GMT

Tuesday, 15 November 2005

Something from the weeklies

Down in comments, bubber sends me to a story linked at AltWeeklies from The Portland Phoenix on Torture in Maine's prison. And there's no reason to think it's just going on in Maine: The treatment of prisoners at the Supermax has long been controversial. Prisoners, defense attorneys, and the few prison watchdog organizations tend to portray the extractions - and the entire supermax system, which in the past 20 years has become widespread across the country - as part of a cruel, unnecessary, counterproductive, and expensive-to-the-taxpayer cycle of violence that has roughly shoved aside all pretence of "corrections."

Also via AltWeeklies, an article in The Villiage Voice rounding up articles on the Rogue Elephant: People are finally starting to talk about that elephant in the living room, U.S. CEO Dick Cheney.

Another linked article, from The Dallas Observer, is by a neighbor of Mary Mapes and discusses her as a person, and how she felt after being attacked by the right-blogosphere. I have to take issue with the way all bloggers are lumped together in this piece, as they so frequently are in articles by journalists who are reacting to attacks from the right-wing, though; it's not liberal bloggers who dig up personal records and post people's addresses on the 'net and drive by their homes and write things about a red dot (laser) on their foreheads.

16:28 GMT

A few good links

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman think that something fishy happened in Ohio - again.

The November 6 Dispatch poll showed Issue Two passing by a vote of 59% to 33%, with about 8% undecided, an even broader margin than that predicted for Issue One.

But on November 8, the official vote count showed Issue Two going down to defeat by the astonishing margin of 63.5% against, with just 36.5% in favor. To say the outcome is a virtual statistical impossibility is to understate the case. For the official vote count to square with the pre-vote Dispatch poll, support for the Issue had to drop more than 22 points, with virtually all the undecideds apparently going into the "no" column.

The numbers on Issue Three are even less likely.

Terry Smith, news editor of The Athens News, is disgusted with the way his colleagues in Ohio's mainstream media fell into line with right-wing opposition to the voting reform issues on the ballot: Ironically, most of these papers had invested much of their news resources, including a goodly number of editorials, in recent months in railing against the corruption engendered by one-party rule in Columbus, and the potential for abuse in a campaign-finance system fueled by big money and special interests. Yet, when it came down to doing something about it, enacting solid reforms to loosen the hold of partisanship from redrawing legislative and congressional districts, remove the partisan secretary of state from supervising elections, and reducing the influence of money in politics, they didn't have the spine for it. (via)

John Conyers supplies an update on expansion of the Patriot Act, now in conference committee. Just one more thing to hassle your reps about.

Back Room Benedict Arnolds make deals with monstrous right-wing fanatics to destroy the foundation of the very idea of "a free country". Digby explains.

I gather from this that Rachel Maddow is slated to take over in the Morning Sedition time slot when Marc Maron leaves. I have seriously mixed feelings about that, since I've really missed having Rachel in a more civilized slot where she has time for interviews and things - but I like MS the way it is, too.

A cartoon by Mr. Fish

The Calamari Wrestler

10:44 GMT

Monday, 14 November 2005

In Blogtopia

Chris Floyd has some preliminary words on the Senate's evisceration of habeas corpus: Just when you think the sick and sinister Bush gangsters have hit bottom, they blow a hole in the floor and drag us down even deeper. Have you contacted your reps yet? There's still time to fight to preserve your right (yes, yours) to due process. This is urgent, folks. You can let the media know how you feel about it, too - it wouldn't hurt.

Alito Will Vote to Overturn Roe V. Wade. (Democrats To Wait And See If Alito Is Confirmed Before Deciding Whether To Oppose Nomination.)

All Politics Are Local - so why is Jane Hamsher having so much trouble locating her local political groups?

At Sisyphus Shrugged, religious community in Dover to Pat Robertson: God don't play that.

The Founders, the Funders, PoHo, and the Miers debacle

The murky politics of Plan B

Play Homeless or Jesus (via Elayne Riggs.)

22:21 GMT

A walk in The Garden

For quite some time I've been seeing a park in the area when I'm being driven home from somewhere, and I've always meant to walk down and have a look at it. Unfortunately, it's outside of my usual walking distance on most days and I've been afraid to risk it, but today I was feeling pretty decent and thought, y'know, what the hell.

Having the camera makes it all a much bigger adventure - every time I think, "Oh, that looks great!" I can just shoot it to preserve that moment. And this camera - have I mentioned how much I love this camera? - this camera seems to be absolutely brilliant at taking pictures. I used to shoot rolls and rolls with my OM1 just to get one good shot, but it seems like this thing just makes them happen.

Hell, even when I mess them up, they're not that bad. And there I was, getting stoned from the scenery in the park, and every time I turned around there was yet another neat feature, and yeah, I'd cut the top off a tree or something, but even my mistakes look better than most of the best pictures I got on actual film. (I wish it'd been a day with a bluer sky, though.)

Maybe that helps make the difference, because even though I'm certainly tired after the long walk, I don't feel any pain and I'm undamaged. And, god, the scenery was beautiful.

I can't get enough of these autumn photos, though, so here are some more via Maru: here, here, and here. (And here is a nice picture of storm clouds, just because I liked it.)

And Elaine Normandy has been taking more great pictures, as usual, and has some nice shots of both the autumnal colors (and berries) as well as some snow.

18:41 GMT

White House, black hearts

It's not an accident that the United States is using techniques that were designed by our enemies in previous wars to break soldiers down and get false confessions out of them, the NYT reminds us. The question is: Why does Dick Cheney want to use such techniques, which are not designed to get good intelligence? In fact, this is the reverse of trying to get good intel. Just what is Mr. Authority really up to?

The Washington Post chose to put the story on how Libby May Have Tried to Mask Cheney's Role in exposing a CIA agent's identity on the sixth page. This is the guy who has been running our disastrous foreign policy and many people regard as our "real" president, but Pravda on the Potomac didn't think it was front-page news.

At Think Progress, Faiz Shakir and Nico Pitney each have debunkings of Bush's latest lies about whose errors were responsible for getting us into an unjustified war with Iraq, in Debunking the Right: The World Did Not See the Iraqi Threat as Bush Did and Sen. Roberts Questions Bush Claim That Congress Saw "Same Intelligence" On Iraq.

Discussing the sudden public recognition that someone really, really awful is operating out of the White House, Tiger Red recalls a year-old article from Rolling Stone on The Curse of Dick Cheney that includes this quote: Those who have known him over the years remain astounded by what they describe as his almost autistic indifference to the thoughts and feelings of others. "He has the least interest in human beings of anyone I have ever met," says John Perry Barlow, his former supporter. Cheney's freshman-year roommate, Steve Billings, agrees: "If I could ask Dick one question, I'd ask him how he could be so unempathetic."

13:49 GMT

Sunday, 13 November 2005

Stops on the Infobahn

Via Maru.

Kevin Drum thinks this would have been a good question to ask Mary Mapes:

Killian's secretary, Marian Carr Knox, says that the typewriters in Killian's office in 1972 were an Olympia and a Selectric. Neither had proportional fonts and neither was capable of creating the documents you aired on 60 Minutes.

Given that, where do you think the documents were created? Do you really think it's plausible that all of them were typed somewhere other than Killian's office? Knox said categorically that she typed all of Killian's memos.

Knox may have said it, but I find it hard to believe that no one ever typed Killian's memos beside this one secretary. Did she never take time off? Was there never a moment when she was busy and he grabbed someone from the typing pool or asked someone else's less-busy sec if she'd take a memo for him? That'd be a pretty unusual office if this were the case.

And while we're on the subject, let's take a trip down memory lane to Hunter's post on why there's no reason to assume that the memos were forged.

Here's another irritating headline: Moderates Unhappy but Sticking With GOP for Now. The article actually refers to Republican "moderates", but it just says "moderates" up there. But these are people who can stomach unfathomable levels of negligence that allowed the World Trade Towers and a major American port city to be wrecked and thousands of lives lost, being lied into an illegal war that cost us the lives of more than 2,000 US troops and murdered tens of thousands of Iraqis, the alienation of our allies and a world reputation as torturers, and oh, so much more. Those aren't moderates.

Brendan Nyhan rounds up a lot of reasons to be contemptuous of Bush's recent Iraq speech.

Jeralyn recommends you read Obsidian Wings on Lindsay Graham's campaign against habeas corpus and how to fight back, and Gary Farber has a bunch, too.

Bleeding Heart Conservatives

23:14 GMT

News and views

Let's see what's at the nefarious Capital Hill Blue.... GOP memo touts new terror attack as way to reverse party's decline: The closely-guarded memo lays out a list of scenarios to bring the Republican party back from the political brink, including a devastating attack by terrorists that could "validate" the President's war on terror and allow Bush to "unite the country" in a "time of national shock and sorrow." So, not planning to get serious about national security any time soon, then....

Democratic candidate Christine Cegelis, with no support from the party, won 44% of the vote against Henry Hyde in the 2004 race for Illinois' 6th district. As Caro tells us at Make Them Accountable, this is not garnering the response you'd expect: Christine's success against Hyde may have played a large part in his decision to retire. And the DCCC expressed its gratitude, not by backing her this time around, but by trying to recruit a "self funder" to run against her in a Democratic primary, meaning someone with a lot of personal wealth. I, for one, don't want more millionaires in Congress. I want fewer of them. They have no idea what most of us have to deal with, living day to day and month to month.

Mitt Romney and the anti-gay movement at The Reaction, which offers the question: "How in God's name did Romney become governor of Massachusetts?" This has puzzled many. He's certainly not in step with the ordinary people of the state. He's part of a movement that makes up reasons (like constitutional constructionism, being against "activist judges", etc.) for being anti-gay but: The anti-gay movement is anti-gay. Period. It opposes same-sex marriage because it's anti-gay. Period. It wants to deny basic civil and human rights to gays and lesbians because it does not consider them to be equal to straight men and women. Period. Gays and lesbians are sinners. They're inferior. Period.

Katha Pollit answers Maureen Dowd: There has never been a better time in all world history to be a 53-year-old single woman looking for romance. Echidne calls Pollit's column "a wonderful breeze of sanity". She's right.

Paranoia report: What's up with the Amman Hotel Bombings? Some people say that the official story doesn't make sense.

Worthy Cause of the Day: ImpeachPAC

Clothing Item of the Day: Tinfoil Hat (presented by otters). (Thanks to Kip for the tip.)

16:12 GMT

Pity the poor journalist

WaPo ombudsbeing Deborah Howell complains in this morning's paper about e-mail campaigns. We have seen this before from her predecessor, but her first mistake is right here:

As a discipline, and because I'm new, I decided to open every single one of these campaign e-mails to see how many were local, how many were just dashed off and how many were thought-provoking.
TeleRead has one the answer to that: e-mail filters. But mail from individuals who are responding to campaigns isn't always easily identifiable - nor should it necessarily be filtered out.

Now, here's a worrying statement:

First, there was a swarm to me and to Post Polling Editor Richard Morin asking that The Post do a poll on whether President Bush should be impeached. Whoa. Since we get mail all the time saying that we are biased against Bush or are in his back pocket, why would The Post want to do that?
Because it's a subject that's on more than half the public's mind? Because we have an executive that committed serious crimes that have had a devastating effect on national security?

What makes Howell think that the two charges of bias are equivalent, anyway? Right-wingers are always going to complain about "liberal" bias, and Bush's cult of personality is always going to scream on his behalf, but what the rest of us want from The Washington Post is the truth about issues that affect us as a nation and as individuals. The Post still prints articles that suggest there is something odd about people who want to see this administration held to account; it's about time they admitted that we are not oddballs and that the idea of impeachment is considerably more popular than George Bush, his policies, and his gang of whackos and thieves.

The question many demanded that The Post ask is biased and would produce a misleading result, Morin said; he added that the campaign was started by
Any poll is going to reveal a news-judgment bias, and the decision not to do such a poll also reveals a bias about what is regarded as a worthy subject of discussion. I don't recall the newspapers, including The Washington Post, being reticent to discuss the impeachment of President Clinton, including poll questions on whether he should be impeached. Interestingly, those polls in the main offered only two choices: Should Clinton be impeached, or should he be censured? The question of whether nothing at all should be done was not even being considered. Only later, no doubt after a number of complaints, was there polling that offered the third alternative. The result showed that doing nothing was just as popular as either of the other two choices. Two-thirds of Americans were opposed to impeachment, yet impeachment was being treated as equivalent to no impeachment.

Today, a majority of Americans do seem to favor impeachment of Bush, but the post doesn't want to discuss it. Is that not bias?

The two campaigns Howell singles out are both from liberal organizations - and FAIR. Howell says:

The campaigns irritate many at The Post and lead some editors and reporters to skip some of their e-mail. That's a shame, because we need feedback.
It's also a shame because it is well-known that The Drudge Report - itself part of the GOP campaign - is the most popular home page among the Washington Press Corps; they are reading the right-wing talking points automatically, but we have to find other ways to get their attention for more centrist viewpoints.

It's also interesting that a few years ago the press corps was actually writing articles about the virtues of the right-wing campaign that was deluging news organizations with blast-faxes of right-wing talking points. Why didn't we see articles then about how aggravating these campaigns were? Why, instead, have we continued to see right-wing memes become central to the media discourse while more centrist views continue to be marginalized?

My question to Howell is this one: Just what do the rest of us have to do to get The Washington Post and the rest of the media to pay as much attention to the concerns of the majority of Americans as they already pay to the right-wing machine?

12:16 GMT

Saturday, 12 November 2005

And it looks like this

Arianna says The L.A. Times' Loss Is HuffPost's Gain: We are selfishly delighted that the Los Angeles Times has made the shortsighted decision to cancel Bob Scheer's column after 12 years. The L.A. Times' loss is our gain. Starting next Wednesday morning, loyal readers of Bob Scheer's weekly column will now find it at the top of the Huffington Post homepage.

Scheer can still also be found at,, and soon-to-be-launched webzine TruthDig. He talks about his release from the LAT and the launch of the new site here. His most recent column, Lying with intelligence, discusses yet another smoking-gun document: Its declassification this weekend blows another huge hole in Bush's claim that he was acting on the best intelligence available when he pitched the invasion of Iraq as a way to prevent an Al Qaida terror attack using weapons of mass destruction. [...] The Bush defense of what is arguably the biggest lie ever put over on the American people is that everyone had gotten the intelligence wrong. Not so at the highest level of U.S. intelligence, as DITSUM No. 044-02 so clearly shows. How could the president not have known?

Disinterested Party is watching the case of phone-bank jamming in the 2002 election, and wonders: But why aren't the Dems all over this kind of thing? I've been wanting to know that for quite a while.

Some people think Virginia Governor Mark Warner is the new Democratic golden boy and a threat to Hillary's presidential aspirations, but a lot of us see him as Republican Lite.

Confessions of a repentant Republican: For me, recognizing that I could no longer support the President for whom I voted, and the occupation of a land we had invaded, remains personally painful.

Rittenhouse Review is back in action with a new laptop and faggot chili.

11:30 GMT

I don't know what to call this post

Chantelle's Orphee Half cup bra

Bra of the Week

Via Tristero, this alarming piece of news from Nico Pitney: The Los Angeles Times announced a major shake-up of its op-ed page today. Gone are cartoonist Michael Ramirez and liberal columnist Robert Scheer. In their place, you won't find any committed progressives like Scheer. Instead, L.A. Times editors chose National Review contributing editor and "Liberal Fascism" author Jonah Goldberg.

The efficacy of the tinfoil hat

Okay, this is a pretty scary-lookin' headline: It's official: Nixon to run for governor in '08. But it turns out to be a Missouri Democrat who wants to take Matt Blunt's seat. You gotta wonder why the guy didn't change his name first.... (via)

Bill Scher says there looks to be a Course Correction on Alito: The AP reports that the liberal civil rights groups have had it with the unhelpful comments coming from Senate Dems, and are stepping up their activity.

Scott Lemieux takes care of the revisionist claims being made on the right regarding the claims about WMD and the need to invade Iraq. And I'd just like to say that the "Clinton thought so in 1998" argument doesn't work any better than claiming for several successive years to be only 29 years old. It might have been true once, but that was then, and this is now.

David Ignatius thinks he detects the Rise of the Center in Tuesday's results. I guess that's accurate enough, but he does a certain false-equivalence dance in which he pretends that each party has been captive to "the base" and this is what voters were shaking loose from in the election. Well, no, because the Democratic leadership has pretty consistently ignored the base up 'til now, and it'd be pretty hard for voters to reject something they (a) haven't had any of to reject and (b) actually agree with when you ask them. The base of the Democratic Party believes in the liberal values that most Americans share - that is, they have been the center all along.

01:18 GMT

Friday, 11 November 2005

Blogable stuff

It's nice to know I can still be surprised. There's nothing amazing anymore about knowing that Judith Miller used to run Adam Clymer's articles by Lee Atwater beforehand, but what is amazing is finding out she thought nothing of calling Clymer to complain that she and Atwater thought he was being too soft on a Democratic candidate. Even more amazing is that either he didn't complain or, if he did, she wasn't fired on the spot. Disgusting.

At Pacific Views, Magpie reminds us why Bush didn't exactly wow them during his Latin America trip, and Mary discusses Bush's Moral Bankruptcy.

Charles Kuffner: I wish I could find another story on this, because I have a hard time imagining a stupider thing for an elected official to do than to bust a group of military veterans for, essentially, walking without a permit.

Jeralyn has two better (and more accurate) posts on the bill to kill habeas corpus, here and here. Some good news: On Monday, Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico will seek a new vote on Graham's amendment, trying to convince Senators on the Judiciary Committee to gut the part of the Graham amendment that prevents detainees from using the writ. Not sure how that works, but it does mean you've still got time to contact your legislators.

Right-wing Zealots Say the Darndest Things! from DefCon, via Isebrand.

Ralph Steadman tells the truth. (Thanks to Dominic for the tip. Also: All you zombies.)

21:19 GMT

Good news and bad news

Rep. Chris Smith used to be House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman, but since he actually worked diligently to defend services to vets, Tom DeLay replaced him with Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), who this week is following Bush administration policy of (a) using occasions meant to honor a group by screwing that group and (b) screwing vets. So, happy Veterans Day, boys and girls, as the new man overturns a 55-year tradition of allowing vets to be heard at House-Senate hearings on veterans' issues.

The Bush agenda really seems to be falling apart when even Republicans balk at supporting tax cuts, drilling ANWR, and cuts to Medicaid. And Josh Marshall has something "From a knowledgeable observer on the hill" who remarks on the significance of what's going on (including GOP "moderates" actually digging their heels in and doing something moderate for a change). Some people think Tuesday's election results have suddenly woken some Republicans up to the possibility that they could lose at the polls if they stick to Bush's agenda.

One guy who hasn't taken any lessons from all of this is Joe Lieberman, who voted with the Republican majority in the Senate to destroy our freedoms, overturning habeas corpus on a 49-42 vote. Along with Lieberman, three other Democrats voted for fascism, while four Republicans voted against it.

Today's poll results: Most Americans Doubt Bush's Honesty: Almost six in 10 - 57 percent - said they do not think the Bush administration has high ethical standards and the same portion says President Bush is not honest, an AP-Ipsos poll found.

14:09 GMT

Thursday, 10 November 2005

Assorted stuff

Read the Dan Froomkin column from yesterday for a number of interesting political items, including highlights of Tuesday's "compellingly readable press briefing" in which Scott McClellan accused reporters of being "essentially, anti-American" when they tried to press him on why the administration wants an exemption for torture. I particularly enjoyed his rejoinder to Helen Thomas: You don't want the American people to hear what the facts are, Helen, and I'm going to tell them the facts.

More Dispatches From the War on the Poor at Empire Burlesque: There has never been such a sustained, deliberate and relentless assault on the well-being of ordinary Americans in the nation's history. And it is here -- in the gutted ruins of once-good lives, once-strong communities and a once-thriving republic -- that Bush will leave his true legacy. For make no mistake: even if this little yapping twerp, this corporate pimp, this slack-jawed, drink-addled dullard posing as a president were to be impeached tomorrow, it will take at least a generation -- and probably longer -- to repair even some of the social, political, spiritual and financial destruction he will leave behind.

Skippy updates us on the back-and-forth with the Cleveland Plain Dealer after the claimed Nathan Newman was a victim of plagiarism. Now they're calling Nathan an "internet dilettante". Cute.

Cernig connects the dots between Lockheed, torture, and John McCain. It's kinda weird.

Juan Cole: The French have determinedly avoided multiculturalism or affirmative action. They have insisted that everyone is French together and on a "color-blind" set of policies. "Color-blind" policies based on "merit" always seem to benefit some groups more than others, despite a rhetoric of equality and achievement. In order to resolve the problems they face, the French will have to come to terms with the multi-cultural character of contemporary society. (via)

Creigh Deeds defends your right to vote: This is not about who gets to be the next Attorney General of Virginia, this is about who gets to choose the next Attorney General. Creigh Deeds is fighting for us. Are we going to fight with him? Or are we going to roll?

I turned up an old post the other day where I actually quoted something from Media Whores Online. I will see if I can dig up more of them, just because I miss them and they made some good points along the way. (And a related item from Rittenhouse Review.)

It's always worthwhile to check out Biomes Blog for fun things like this odd little time-waster, some unpublished Doonesbury strips that were killed when Miers withdrew from contention for the Supremes, and of a photo of a teeny tiny little albino baby macaque.

14:38 GMT

Food or thought

Altercation: If you support Bush, you support torture and $44 billion; Torture ain't cheap.

I think maybe I confused Lesson in media/judicial battles is that restraint serves us well by Tony Messenger with that Voice article I linked to earlier. Anyway, here's a quote: It all comes back to our different worlds. Miller was defending an insider who was using the system to his advantage. I'm potentially protecting an innocent man who's afraid the system will cause him personal harm.

Howard Kurtz has an interview with Mary Mapes: She is disdainful of Moonves, the CBS president who ordered the outside investigation. "He doesn't know journalism from dirt farming," Mapes said. In the book, noting that Moonves courted and then married "Early Show" anchor Julie Chen, she writes: "I used to say everything Les knows about journalism had been sexually transmitted. Now I know even that hasn't taught him much."

Unclaimed Territory has an article about the neocons and the relationship between their support for the Iraq invasion and their support for Israel. (You know, I support Israel, but I didn't support the invasion. In fact, I had, and have, real concerns about how the invasion might actually create a greater threat to Israel.) And Xymphora discusses the fact that "One of the tragic developments related to this rightward shift of Israeli politics and social policies - even defining Israel's view of itself in the world - is its emergence as a center for the global right-wing, a constellation of nefarious ideologies, groups and forces that seek nothing less than American-Christian hegemony over the entire world." Hmmm.....

In religious news, someone had a miraculous sighting of The Flying Spaghetti Monster in a grilled cheese sandwich, and sold it on eBay for $41.00.

A trip to the country, with cameras.

Good news for coffee drinkers (via)

02:30 GMT

Wednesday, 09 November 2005

Stuff to read

At Harper's, A history of the Iraq war, told entirely in lies, via King of Zembla, via 2Millionth Web Log.

I missed the commemoration of The Greensboro Massacre again: In Greensboro, North Carolina, an anti-Klan march and educational conference were planned for Saturday, November 3, 1979. Neither the march nor the conference ever occurred. Minutes before the march was to begin, a nine-car caravan carrying thirty-five heavily armed Klansmen and Nazis drove into the heart of Greensboro's black community where marchers were assembling. They opened fire on the crowd, killing five people and wounding eleven.

William Rivers Pitt's Yes, They Lied begins with a quote from Ari Fleischer: The President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true, and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it.

At That Colored Fella, Jadegold gives a charitable response to the canard that "everyone" still believed there were WMD in Iraq immediately prior to the invasion: The Ethics Of Belief.

Sydney H. Schanberg has a good article in The Villiage Voice on journalist shield laws and when they are and aren't necessary: Repairing Journalism. I think I got that via Atrios, who also points us to Attytood on the interesting story that Judy Miller wasn't the only person at the NYT who was a little too close to the White House - Bill Keller himself is now in the spotlight: Word is that, well after many laughed off Miller's WMD tales, Keller had a series of private meetings with Wolfowitz, who assured him that Saddam was hiding something. Keller would no doubt like to pretend it's all about Miller, but it always seemed to me he was defending her a little too hard earlier on.

Ginger provides dating advice.

23:20 GMT

Bad paper

Mary Mapes, the CBS news producer who was fired after right-wing hacks suggested (without proof) that a document used in a 60 Minutes exposé of George Bush's National Guard History was a forgery, has been giving interviews while promoting her book, Truth and Duty : The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power. Mapes points out that no one has ever proven that the document was forged, and stands by her reporting. There's an excerpt from the book here.

Mapes started the day knowing that she and her team had done a good job. But:

All that changed about 11:00 a.m., when I first started hearing rumbles from some producers at CBS News that a handful of far right Web sites were saying that the documents had been forged.

I was incredulous. That couldn't be possible. Even on the morning the story aired, when we showed the president's people the memos, the White House hadn't attempted to deny the truth of the documents. In fact, the president's spokesman, Dan Bartlett, had claimed that the documents supported their version of events: that then-lieutenant Bush had asked for permission to leave the unit.

Within a few minutes, I was online visiting Web sites I had never heard of before: Free Republic, Little Green Footballs, Power Line. They were hard-core, politically angry, hyperconservative sites loaded with vitriol about Dan Rather and CBS. Our work was being compared to that of Jayson Blair, the discredited New York Times reporter who had fabricated and plagiarized stories.

All these Web sites had extensive write-ups on the documents: on typeface, font style, and peripheral spacing, material that seemed to spring up overnight. It was phenomenal. It had taken our analysts hours of careful work to make comparisons. It seemed that these analysts or commentators - or whatever they were - were coming up with long treatises in minutes. They were all linking to one another, creating an echo chamber of outraged agreement.

I was told that the first posting claiming the documents were fakes had gone up on Free Republic before our broadcast was even off the air! How had the Web site even gotten copies of the documents? We hadn't put them online until later. That first entry, posted by a longtime Republican political activist lawyer who used the name "Buckhead," set the tone for what was to come.

I have always thought the timing of this was suspicious. The claim that the documents were forgeries turned up way too early for anyone to take it seriously, to start with. And, although the assertion is that one memo was identical to one produced with Word, the fact was that there were obvious differences, the font was certainly not the same, and there has never been any reason to assume that the CBS memo could not have been produced on a typewriter. And how did right-wing bloggers get a copy of the document before it was released to the public?

Right-wing bloggers "proved" that a memo was "forged" because it looked too good. The Bush administration used an obvious fake to trick the country into invading Iraq. Which one of the documents should have gotten someone fired?

19:34 GMT

On the landscape

As I've mentioned, there's not as lot of good scenery around here, but I was out walking yesterday and took a few pictures of some leaves I saw along a wall. At left is a detail of this picture.

Elayne Riggs, on the other hand, has plenty of scenery, and she's been documenting the autumn, here and here.

My thanks to TheaLogie in comments for pointing me to Doc Treats Man at CorrenteWire on the difficulties of coping with the oppressive commie single-payer system in Canada.

Hacknote: Roger Ailes: This is amusing. Tedious press critic Mickey Kaus castigated the Los Angeles Times for failing to cover a Halloween night gang war that never happened. A lot of Kaus is like that....

Capitol Hill Blue says Bush has an Enemies list going all the way back to when he was Governor of Texas and that: Spurred by paranoia and aided by the USA Patriot Act, the Bush Administration has compiled dossiers on more than 10,000 Americans it considers political enemies and uses those files to wage war on those who disagree with its policies. Sounds to me like it's a good two hundred million short.

I confess to feeling cheered by seeing articles in the major papers talking about how last night's results were bad for Bush and the GOP. I was beginning to wonder if it even mattered that Lincoln was right about fooling all of the people all of the time. "Taking a middle line," says The Moderate Voice, "you could say it suggests that plans for a decades-long Republican electoral majority are premature." God, I hope so.

18:31 GMT

Big news in little bits

I know why I find it so hard to write about. The US is illegally using new, improved napalm against the people of Iraq, who we claimed we were saving from a despot who used chemical weapons against them. We murdered one of their cities. Arthur Silber says: What words could possibly constitute sufficient damnation? God damn it, no words should be necessary.

MyDD has a brief summary of the voting results yesterday. A lot of the news is good - Arnie's attempts to kill the power of unions in California died the death,* the Democratic mayor who endorsed Bush last year was ousted by another Democrat, Dems won the gubernatorial races in both New Jersey and Virginia*, Maine rejected anti-gay legislation, Cincinnati elected its first black mayor, and the school board in Pennsylvania that was forcing "Intelligent Design" into the curriculum was trounced by an all anti-ID slate. On the other hand, Bloomberg won in New York and Texas passed a ban on gay marriage (but they already had one so it was kind of redundant). (Buncha links here.)

Best news is that not only have independents been turning away from Bush, but even among Republicans, Bush is losing points. (Via The Left Coaster.)

15:45 GMT

Tuesday, 08 November 2005

Who's in charge, here?

I just love this this NYT editorial:

After President Bush's disastrous visit to Latin America, it's unnerving to realize that his presidency still has more than three years to run. An administration with no agenda and no competence would be hard enough to live with on the domestic front. But the rest of the world simply can't afford an American government this bad for that long.
The New York Times helped to bring us to this pass, over and over, first by failing to put Bush's lies under analysis on their front page - and I'm not just talking about the case for invading Iraq, I'm talking about the lies he told in the 2000 campaign. The very nature of Bush's campaign made a profound statement about his character that the Times evaded even while they pretended to examine questions of character. Whose character? Oh, yes, Al Gore, the man who changed his suit. That's right, while Bush was openly lying about his tax policy and making it clear that he didn't know or care about much of anything else, the Newspaper of Record was spreading stories about how Al Gore was a crazy man because he... because he... Why was that, again?
It's amazing to remember that when Mr. Bush first ran for president, he bragged about his understanding of Latin America, his ability to speak Spanish and his friendship with Mexico. But he also made fun of Al Gore for believing that nation-building was a job for the United States military.
Oh, but that wasn't why. Wait, wasn't it something about... um, Love Canal? Love Story? Changing his suit? I'm sure it was something important like that....

Think Progress has a lovely quote from Colin Powell: "I can't substantiate [Chalabi's] claims. He makes new ones every year."

Amazingly, even conservatives turn out to be "irked" by the IRS probe of a church's alleged political activity for a sermon against war. The IRS should really be hammered for this, too, since neither of the two candidates in the election were anti-war, but it's pretty damned clear that Jesus wasn't in favor of that sort of thing.

Lee Harlos at Best of the Blogs: The Bush-Walker family are among America's leading war-profiteers, from selling ordinance in the early 20th century to expertly working the secretive corridors of the U.S. national security state that has metastasized throughout our society. Warmongers, plain and simple. Such people are among the most contemptible creatures of the human race, since they are willing to unleash the hellhounds of war for their own personal gain.

Caro says, "Someone? Please?"

19:25 GMT

Blogs and stuff

You Should Get a JD (Juris Doctor)
You're logical, driven, and ruthless.
You'd make a mighty fine lawyer.

What Advanced Degree Should You Get?
Via Ravynstone Abbey.

Terrific Krugman* on one of my favorite subjects, Pride, Prejudice, Insurance: The funny thing is that the solution - national health insurance, available to everyone - is obvious. But to see the obvious we'll have to overcome pride - the unwarranted belief that America has nothing to learn from other countries - and prejudice - the equally unwarranted belief, driven by ideology, that private insurance is more efficient than public insurance. [...] Why does American medicine cost so much yet achieve so little? Unlike other advanced countries, we treat access to health care as a privilege rather than a right. And this attitude turns out to be inefficient as well as cruel. It costs us lots of money to prevent people from getting health care. So it's pretty simple: We can afford national health insurance, and we can't afford to go without it any longer. If you believe otherwise, you're just wrong.

The Rude Pundit, having read James Carroll's article in The Boston Globe, says Dick Cheney Will Destroy Us All: Dick Cheney is a moral and ethical vacuum in a couple of senses: he not only is completely devoid of anything that stinks of morals and ethics, but proximity to him actually results in Cheney sucking away the moral and ethical souls of those around him, making him stronger, more sinister, and emboldening him to stretch his viper tentacles to engorge on the sweet meat of the entire national identity so that it might be demonically remade in his depraved image.

Emergent Chaos has the ChoicePoint Roundup. You remember ChoicePoint, who helped a certain Ms. Harris of Florida kick thousands of legitimate voters off the rolls? Good old ChoicePoint!

NTodd looks at the poll numbers and says it's Time To Paint The Whitehouse Ceiling.

Media Matters says the WaPo actually published an article exonerating Scotty McClellan without citing any sources at all. Now that's reporting! The NYT was only slightly better when they used only "anonymous sources 'involved' in the investigation" to assure us that Bush was unaware of Rove's role in the Plame leak.

Matthew Yglesias found Robert Bork speaking the truth. No, really.

14:04 GMT

The heart problem of The Beast

From Daniel Benjamin in Slate, President Cheney: His office really does run national security.

Can there be anyone left who doesn't know that it's Cheney's fault and that he is (as is so often said about Saddam), a bad, bad man?

Cheney was a bad man in previous Republican administrations, too, and when the Republicans were out of the White House he was doing bad things on the side that would still screw up American policy in the long run.

As soon as I saw this article I was reminded of the one Josh Marshall wrote in 2003 pegging Cheney's monumental incompetence as central to the administration's errors - and wondering why Beltway insiders had so far avoided noticing it. Kevin Drum remembered the same article (thus saving me the effort of having to look for it), and Digby remembers even more about this monster's long history of incompetence and lunacy, so bad that even Elliot Abrams looks like a dove compared to the administration Cheney has built.

I'm not holding my breath for miracles to happen, but I know it won't be Fitzmas if Cheney doesn't get some jail time. He's been a force for evil for a long, long time.

(And he can always become a novelist in prison.)

12:01 GMT

It's out there

At Seeing the Forest, IRS Cracking Down On War Opponents, quoting an article in the LAT, notes a direct attack on Christianity when a preacher gets a warning letter threatening his church's tax-exempt status for saying that Jesus was against war.

Before Nathan Newman ran off to get married, he left a post on the Key Case to highlight in fighting the Alito nomination: And that case is Chittister v. Department of Community and Economic Development, the decision where Alito ruled that the Family and Medical Leave Act did not apply to millions of state employees across the country. This was a decision that was overturned by the Supreme Court, in a decision written by Chief Justice Rehnquist.

More reasons to marginalize Bob Shrum, from, Robert Parry in Kerry Suspects Election 2004 Was Stolen: Miller and Winer said Kerry suspected possible tampering with electronic voting machines, but that he was persuaded by his campaign's top advisers, including veteran consultant Bob Shrum, that contesting the results only would lead to accusations that Kerry was a sore loser.

Bill Kristol concedes that, if the White House manipulated the intelligence, "It Might Well Be An Indictable Offense." Although he may still think it's "slander" to claim that they did manipulate the intelligence.

William Saletan, Right to Wife: Why does Judge Alito treat women like girls? (Thanks to Bruce Adelsohn for the tip.)

02:13 GMT

Monday, 07 November 2005


Skimble points out that the Enron trial is finally getting started, after much delays:

Defense lawyers already have gained one advantage by putting more than four years between the bankruptcy and the trial, scheduled to begin with jury selection Jan. 17. But public opinion suggests that the memory of corporate scandals has not faded. Almost half of respondents to a Pew Research Center poll last month said they felt unfavorably toward U.S. companies -- a 20-point rise from March 2001, nine months before Enron filed for bankruptcy protection.
What's significant about the four years that occurred between the bankruptcy and the trial? It happens to be the length of a presidential term, the same one that was bought with the generous assistance of Enron.
There's other good stuff at Skimble, too, like this on where more trees are going, and of course the best Darwin award-winner of the week.

New York Post Compares Robert Greenwald to Nazi Propagandist : Filmmaker Robert Greenwald is releasing a documentary that is critical of Wal-Mart. According to Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, that makes him no better than Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister in Nazi Germany.

The Sunday Talkshow Breakdown: Yesterday, we saw the beginnings of a coordinated Dem message regarding Alito's judicial philosophy. We saw a GOP Senator inadvertently give us a helping hand. And we saw Sen. Joe Biden kill all the momentum those two developments might have sparked.

If you're looking for a worthy cause to give money to, have a look at Reprieve.

23:22 GMT

Team Spirit

I am pleased to announce The Sideshow Award for Team Spirit, and I'm not going to explain what that is but if you read King of Zembla you know Simbaud's got it. Congratulations for a job well done, Simbaud. (And he's got more on your disappearing privacy, with some odd publishing news.)

Guess who lacks team spirit? Joe Biden undercuts Dems on TV again: Samuel Alito should get an up-or-down vote on his Supreme Court nomination, a Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Sunday, playing down the chances of a filibuster. Julia speaks for many of us when she says: "Just. Shut. Up."

At Bad Attitudes, Jerome Doolittle pegs this one: From a story in the New York Times headlined, "White House Tries to Keep Distance from Leak Case," which is kind of like, "Tongue Tries to Keep Distance from Mouth." Jerome actually knows the distance between the VP's office and the Oval, since he used to be on a team that worked in the White House.

13:59 GMT

Open windows

The Ostroy Report: What would you say if you knew that Senators and Congressmen, when it came to picking stocks, somehow managed as a collective group to beat the market by 12%? Would you suspect that insider trading might have anything to do with it? Well, that was the question put to former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle Friday by HBO's "Real Time" host Bill Maher. (Ostroy also enjoyed that recent "literary" David Brooks column.)

The Committee For Investigating the Obvious is called to order.

The Grauniad is serializing the memoir of Sir Christopher Meyers, British Ambassador to the U.S. (1997-2003): Sir Christopher, who had a ringside seat in the decision-making that led to the war, unfavourably contrasts Mr Blair with the boldness and attention to detail of Margaret Thatcher. He says Lady Thatcher took pride in knowing more detail than her officials. "That is why it was terrifying to be summoned into her presence because if you did not know your stuff, she would expose you. There was never that danger with Tony Blair." Via Amygdala.

David Swanner, a lawyer who was once an interrogator (and interrogation trainer) in the U.S. Army, explains the number one reason why we must not torture people. He has more on interrogation here and here.

I heard a rumor that Jennifer Aniston was unhappy about a rumor that she was another RNC Bush-worshipper, but apparently she's not that dumb. Via Atrios, who also links David Sirota's D.C.'s Professional B.S. Artists Again Go Off On Iraq. It's not a mystery that actual right-wingers like Marshall Whitman are advising Dems to self-sabotage, but it is a mystery that such people are actually members of the Democratic Leadership Council. It's very nice that Whitman turned out to have too many principles to stay in the Republican Party, but someone from the Christian Coalition is hardly well-placed to represent the mainstream. (Not that the DLC has ever done much other than sabotage Democrats, but come on!)

12:30 GMT

Sunday, 06 November 2005

Cocktail hour

Naomi Klein, The Threat of Hope in Latin America: When Manuel Rozental got home one night last month, friends told him two strange men had been asking questions about him. In this close-knit indigenous community in southwestern Colombia ringed by soldiers, right-wing paramilitaries and left-wing guerrillas, strangers asking questions about you is never a good thing.

Majikthise says that the Chair of the House Armed Services Committee wants to buy an $8bn white elephant.

And who would appoint as the United States' chief weapons procurer a used car dealer? Well, somebody did.

Paul Krugman knows who is to blame when the public doesn't seem to know very much.

How to create a holy war

Is it a really great CD? Sadly, No!

Worried about Iran's influence on Iraq? Let Riverbend explain a few things. Oh, man, we really need to get out of Iraq. (Thanks to John Starbuck for the tip.)

Barton Gellman on The FBI's Secret Scrutiny discusses the invasions of the Patriot Act, which violates your privacy without making you one little bit safer. Passing legislation like this ought to be a criminal offense.

The KKK staged a demo to protest gay marriage, and a whole 14 of them showed up. But so did 3,000 counter-demonstrators and 200 police in riot gear. Via Norbizness.

AL GORE, Whether He Wants to Or Not - Taylor Marsh is supporting him, and so is Maryscott O'Connor at Daily Kos (and My Left Wing). Here's a reminder of why, and a few more.

Happy Birthday to Echidne of the Snakes.

23:59 GMT

News & analysis

John McCain announces that he plans to do something right: Girding for a potential fight with the Bush administration, supporters of a ban on torturing prisoners of war by U.S. interrogators threatened Friday to include the prohibition in nearly every bill the Senate considers until it becomes law.

TBogg, apologist for torture:

There is nothing less than our precious freedoms at stake here, and when push comes to shove, we shouldn't let quaint antiquainted notions about human rights take precedence over our freedom from fear and harm when it comes to those who would attack us or who pose a danger to our men and women in uniform or the others who serve our country in covert ways through our intelligence services.

Therefore I think we should torture Scooter Libby.
We might want to smack Karl Rove around too. That fat prick knows

Via Firedoglake, where we are also informed that Judith Miller has threatened a fate worse than death!

The Mahablog explains why "Reality is settling over the GOP like a bad hangover":

Republican problem-solving amounts to denying there's a problem until it bites their butts. Poverty, jobs, environment, health care, you name it - every time, Republicans will insist there is no problem until the crisis actually gets in their faces and threatens to hurt them in the next election. Then, of course, they will blame the problem on Democrats. On the other hand, Republicans are prone to manufacturing crises where none exist in order to enact some policy they know won't sit well with the public.

Democrats on the whole will recognize problems shaping up down the road, although their solutions may or may not work as promised. However, I have to think back quite a while to remember a time when Democrats were in a position to enact much of anything that wasn't compromised to death by Republicans before it became law. But if a Democratic remedy misfires, Republicans exploit the failure to expound their anti-government theories, never mind that the problem would not have evaporated had government not responded to it.

(As you know, I regard this as a naive view of the Republicans, who I think know perfectly well that the problems will arise and want them to.)

Via Wampum, this item: Chalabi, who begins his eight-day visit on Tuesday, is due to see Rice on Wednesday and make a speech that day at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank that provides personnel and considerable support to the administration. (Also: Put the "peach" in "impeachment.)

16:48 GMT

Why I love Paul Krugman

David Brooks is saying Harry Reid is a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist for wanting to look into "the Republican plot to manipulate intelligence to trick the American people into believing Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction." He says it just as if it isn't true. Unlike Charles Krauthammer, who pretends that his professional credentials as a shrink (he has had a few weeks more training in psychiatry than you have, but he can prescribe drugs) entitle him to call Al Gore crazy, Brooks is affecting to have literary insight, even trying his hand at atmospheric writing:

Odd thoughts rush through his brain. He cannot trust the letter "r," so he must change his name to Hawwy Weed.
Well, we can see why The New York Times didn't want to let that kind of talent slip out of its hands and snapped him up as soon as they had the space for him.

On a completely different hand, it's only by accident that the NYT ended up with an astute political analyst on their op-ed page, just because they thought it would be cool to have a nice, dry economist there to give them some cred in what used to be the trendy subject. I don't think it's an accident, though, that Paul Krugman chose in his latest column to discuss Defending Imperial Nudity:

Hans Christian Andersen understood bad rulers. "The Emperor's New Suit" doesn't end with everyone acclaiming the little boy for telling the truth. It ends with the emperor and his officials refusing to admit their mistake.

I've laid my hands on additional material, which Andersen failed to publish, describing what happened after the imperial procession was over.

The talk-show host Bill O'Reilly yelled, "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!" at the little boy. Calling the boy a nut, he threatened to go to the boy's house and "surprise" him.

Fox News repeatedly played up possible finds of imperial clothing, then buried reports discrediting these stories. Months after the naked procession, a poll found that many of those getting most of their news from Fox believed that the emperor had in fact been clothed.
Two and a half years after the emperor's naked procession, a majority of citizens believed that the imperial administration had deliberately misled the country. Several former officials had gone public with tales of an administration obsessed with its wardrobe from Day 1.

But apologists for the emperor continued to dismiss any suggestion that officials had lied to the nation. It was, they said, a crazy conspiracy theory. After all, back in 1998 Bill Clinton thought there was a suit.

(Via Media Matters for America.)

Trust Krugman to go right past the shiny lights and get to the heart of the thing. It's about time someone confronted the whole "conspiracy theory" spin head-on, and it's a thought that needs to be pushed harder and harder, but most people are afraid to address it, too worried about whether they, too, will be called conspiracy theorists. But this administration - indeed, the entire conservative movement - survives on a conspiracy of lies, and one of the biggest ones they've got is to dismiss any disagreement, any open acknowledgement of what they are doing, as crazy, out-of-the-mainstream, "conspiracy theory". They need to be called on it. Every time.

15:03 GMT

A few bad apples

Does anyone still doubt that it goes all the way up to the Torturer-in-chief?

With al-Libi, too, the initial approach was to read him his rights like any arrestee, one former member of the FBI team told NEWSWEEK. "He was basically cooperating with us." But this was post-9/11; President Bush had declared war on Al Qaeda, and in a series of covert directives, he had authorized the CIA to set up secret interrogation facilities and to use new, harsher methods. The CIA, says the FBI source, was "fighting with us tooth and nail."
For all that, they still didn't come up with intelligence strong enough to fool anyone who had a clue, though:
A high Qaeda official in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.
Not that they cared. Their intention was to invade Iraq, and they'd use absolutely anything in order to fabricate a case of their own.

And yet, they never made the case. The only people who ever really believed this stuff were those who were not really looking for a reason, and who would probably have been happy to go to war without being given one at all.

By the time Bush made the call, anyone who was paying attention could see that it was all smoke. Powell's speech to the UN had been debunked by the next morning, even as mesmerized journalists' columns appeared in the paper full of their belief in the man's words. (Many of them had apologized for their foolishness in their very next columns.) The weapons inspectors, who were no fans of Saddam and who had honestly believed they would find WMD, were now complaining that the administration appeared to have sent them on a wild goose chase, claiming to know the locations of such weapons but sending them over and over to places where, it turned out, there was nothing. As they came to conclude that the weapons had already been destroyed, either by Saddam or by bombings under Clinton, the administration response was to send out talking points attempting to discredit Hans Blix. Within weeks of the invasion, Bush was already claiming that we had had to invade because Saddam wouldn't let the weapons inspectors in, as if Blix had never existed at all.

Much of this went right by an electorate that spends little time concentrating on national and international news in the first place, but the ignorance on the right side of the blogosphere - where being a news junkie is in the genes - is, frankly, inexplicable, unless you assume that all right-wing bloggers are mere GOP operatives bent on muddying the waters, and that none of them actually believe what they write. In some cases, I'm sure that's true, but all of them?

The media failed and failed again to cover the arguments against invasion, even when events had confirmed them in spades. Even Cindy Sheehan asking why we went to Iraq never quite seemed to move them to treat the question with the seriousness it deserved. When the Downing Street Memo came to light, the media clowns responded to complaints that they were ignoring the story by telling us it was old news, that everyone already knew it. Everyone already knew we'd been lied to, that they had just made it up to get us into war! Funny, they didn't seem to think it was worth mentioning to us. They even let another election day go by without offering this juicy little tidbit up to the public, so Bush could claim the alleged ballot result as his "accountability moment" - too bad the media chose not to tell the electorate what they were supposed to be holding Bush accountable for.

Both the lies that got us into war and the policy of torture are serious crimes under the US Constitution. As more and more Americans start talking about impeachment, we have already seen the first stages of the conventional wisdom that we just can't go through something like that at a time like this, when America is already engaged in a war and blah blah blah.

But the truth is that we can't afford not to go through it, because we need to tell the world that we repudiate these people. Putting them in jail would be simple justice, but national security demands that we get them the hell out of our government.

Via Eschaton.

13:42 GMT

Quick notes

I know it as soon as I heard them use the word about Alito. You can always tell when the Republicans start talking about how one of their nominees is "a man of integrity" that it's someone who has no integrity. Really, if a judge doesn't think he needs to recuse himself when nearly four hundred grand of his own money is involved, you just can't trust him.

The headline is good for several minutes of amusement: Bush Orders Staff to Attend Ethics Briefings. I'm sure the briefings themselves will be a laugh-riot.

More hilarity with Some in GOP Regretting Pork-Stuffed Highway Bill: In a speech to a group of conservative academics and policy experts, DeLay blamed the runaway spending of recent years on minority Democrats. Yeah, of course. Well, gosh, there's only one thing for it: Cut programs for the poor, the ailing, and the elderly.

Julia had a good rant over departing public broadcasting chief Kenneth Y. Tomlinson.

War protesters sue for right to bare breasts, via No Capital.

It's little things like this that make me wonder if Bush is only barely in the closet. It's a cry for help, George.

A nice review of Air America Radio, and why it's stupid to cut Marc Maron loose.

03:11 GMT

Saturday, 05 November 2005

At the Oasis

Bill Scher parses the real meaning of the conservative media's opening feint:

George Will, speaking for the anti-Miers Right, lauded the Alito nomination because "the nation has long needed a serious debate" about judicial philosophy and the nature of our Constitution.

On the 5th day of the nomination, it is patently clear that we will not be treated such a glorious debate.

And it is patently clear that conservatives could not care less.

The Alito spin operation is not about provoking any sort of grand philosophical debate. We are not hearing challenge the insidious liberal legal elite over the flawed reasoning in Griswold, Roe and Lawrence.

No, the spin team is all about duping liberals and moderates into thinking Alito is an "open-minded" conservative who will respect precedent.

Bill also tags a few items elsewhere for our attention:

Alito's Colleagues on Alito: "Radical," "Unwise," "Ignores Precedent".

The time to act is now by Al Gore.: It is now clear that we face a deepening global climate crisis that requires us to act boldly, quickly and wisely.

And, for reasons that haven't been explained, Danny Goldberg has decided not to renew the contract of Marc Maron, the younger of the two guys who do Morning Sedition. To the show's listeners, this is inexplicable. The show is lively and has the feel of youth appeal without the usual lame pseudo-hipness of "youth programming". Which makes it particularly odd that Mr. "Teen Spirit" is pulling Maron off the air. If you know (or care) what this is about, you might want to sign the petition to save Maron (and, presumably, the show).

19:21 GMT

Ain't That Pretty At All

The Senate passed an appalling budget so ugly that Frank Lautenberg proposed an amendment to call a spade a spade, changing the title to the Moral Disaster of Monumental Proportions Reconciliation Act.

Hussein was open to exile: Days before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Saddam Hussein agreed in principle to accept an offer of exile from the United Arab Emirates, but the deal fell through, a UAE government senior official told CNN. So with a bit more bartering, regime change might have been effected without the use of arms. No wonder Bush was in such a hurry to invade before negotiations started working.

Democrats in the House tried to force discussion of the lack of oversight of the administration of Iraq, but the Republicans voted it down. A sweeping indictment of the president's policies in Iraq, Pelosi's resolution calls on House Republicans "to comply with their oversight responsibilities, demands they conduct a thorough investigation of abuses relating to the Iraq war, and condemns their refusal to conduct oversight of an executive branch controlled by the same party."

In comments below, Alice Marshall expresses the same thought I had about the strange recent eruption* of right-wing talking points from the Society for Professional Journalists: I wish I knew how to research these things, because I greatly expect the SPJ has been bought in some way.

Everything you need to know about bird flu, from why you're hearing so much about it to why you should worry, in two easy steps. (Thanks to Dominic (of) for the tip.)

11:11 GMT

At the zoo

Blair spinmeister Alastair Campbell blames the media. (Thanks for the tip to Alice Marshall, who also has some good news from Virginia.)

Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) has introduced the Private Property Rights Protection Act (.pdf) in response to the Supreme Court's Kelo decision in June, and I bet the right-wing blogs that deplored Kelo are not leaping up to praise Conyers for it, either.

The wingers have attacking Steve Gilliard for what I guess is politically incorrect speech. Even The Baltimore Sun has noticed. But now even Democrats are joining in to try to shut Gilliard up.

Healthcare, as we have seen, fails monumentally as a privatized industry. So why are we still trying to make it work that way?

Quotes on Religion and Christianity by the Founding Fathers

Romenesko has a post lambasting the Society for Professional Journalists, who have attacked Harry Reid for calling Rule 21 , supposedly for imposing secrecy. This is dumb beyond reason; Reid's maneouver has forced to the Republicans to quit trying to hide the truth about the pre-invasion "intelligence failures". And about time, too. (via)

How the MPAA killed the movie theater experience: a first-hand report - a letter to Declan recounting a creepy evening: Anyway, the line was moving slowly because they were asking customers to raise their arms so that they could be electronically frisked with a metal detector, and women's purses were being searched by uniformed security guards. Try to remember that this is Toronto, Canada we're talking about here, not New York, Tel Aviv or London.

Smart Pumpkin (via Epicycle) and another pumpkin (via In the Driver's Seat).

02:42 GMT

Friday, 04 November 2005

Countin' the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike

Albert Einstein and Paul Robeson were pals who worked together on the anti-racist project, but it seems that the political Einstein has been edited out of history.

Mayor of Las Vegas goes all middle-eastern, advocating the severing of thumbs from people caught committing grafitti.

The right-wing wants me to believe that I'm a moonbat for thinking Traitorgate is important. I'm out of the mainstream! Just like...everyone else. I bet they don't agree that the Red Cross is the enemy, either.

Jeanne D'Arc has a post full of links about the Geneva conventions, torture, and the American Gulag.

Today Charles Krauthammer explains why he doesn't know the difference between children and women, and Judd Legum isn't impressed.

PSoTD has a chuckle over the corrupt family politics of Alaska.

Impeach! 51% of voters agree, according to Zogby.

(Speaking of which, Santos Enjoys Huge Lead Over Vinick in West Wing Race for the White House - but since we haven't seen that season yet over here, we have no idea who these guys are. And I'm still pissed off that they never showed season five at all.)

23:54 GMT

It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw

I saw this lamp in a shop window on Holborn last night.

Blue Girl is designing a poster and would like your judgment on which of two choices has the best visual impact. Via Eccentricity.

Dan Froomkin says: Another shocking accusation by former administration insider Lawrence Wilkerson appears to be going under the media radar today. On NPR yesterday, the former chief of staff to the secretary of state said that he had uncovered a "visible audit trail" tracing the practice of prisoner abuse by U.S. soldiers directly back to Vice President Cheney's office. Via Just a Bump in the Beltway.

They found the Niger doc forger!: The revelation came on a day when the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed that it had shut down its two-year investigation into the origin of the forged documents. Huh? Alternate Brain: The only reason I can see for the FBI to shut down an investigation before they had all the facts is that they were getting too close to the truth and were told to. This means the origin of the scam is pretty high up. Like in the White House. But you knew that.

Michael Kinsley dopey again! Today he's defending the GOP's right to install far-right crackpots in the Supreme Court against the will of the people. He really should take lessons from Ezra Klein: The role of Congress in general and the opposition party in particular is to exercise oversight when the executive attempts to overreach his mandate. And so too with prominent media figures, who should be using their positions of influence to advocate for good outcomes, not counseling acceptance of bad ones. Just because the president can do something doesn't mean he should. But if folks like Kinsley decide that might makes right, there really will be nothing standing in the executive's way.

The Suburban Guerrilla family photo album.

21:19 GMT

Dems to watch out for

Arianna is right - James Carville is hopelessly compromised by his marriage to Mary Matalin. They once provided entertainment for reporters who didn't want to have to write about the issues, but this is serious:

That's all in the past. Now, as one of Dick Cheney's most trusted first-term advisors, one of eight founding members of the White House Iraq Group, a witness in front of the Plamegate grand jury, and a close friend of Scooter Libby ("The man you pray you get seated next to at a dinner party," she recently cooed), Matalin is a central player in all this.
When Carville tries to take the heat off of Cheney, he's doing Matalin's job for her. He shouldn't be on TV representing the Democrats, and he shouldn't be advising Democratic candidates.

19:47 GMT

Toss me a cigarette, I think there's one in my raincoat

A majority of Americans now realize that George W. Bush has a character problem: For the first time in his presidency a majority of Americans question the integrity of President Bush, and growing doubts about his leadership have left him with record negative ratings on the economy, Iraq and even the war on terrorism, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows. [...] Beyond the leak case, Americans give the administration low scores on ethics, according to the survey, with 67 percent rating the administration negatively on handling ethical matters, while just 32 percent give the administration positive marks. Four in 10 -- 43 percent -- say the level of ethics and honesty in the federal government has fallen during Bush's presidency, while 17 percent say it has risen. Welcome to reality, folks.

At Altercation, The terrorists win...: That was the argument, right? If our enemy forces us to adopt tactics that betray our fundamental values, they've won the war whether or not they win on the "battlefield" (which, by the way, they appear to be doing also). Well the United States Government is operating a series of police states, in contravention of its own laws as well as the laws of the nations in which it is operating. In doing so, it employs methods of torture that are explicitly outlawed by the Geneva Conventions. The Bush Administration, in other words, is creating an outlaw nation, subverting international law, national law, and our own Constitution.

Why Now? elaborates on my earlier note that these far-rightists have "a religion that allows them to lie under oath to achieve their ends" and points out that this really is a part of one thread of their tradition - officially.

Roz Kaveney's interview with Alan Moore is now up at the Indy.

Anne Zook says Big Pharma is ready for implementation of the Medicare Drug "Benefit", jacking prices right up.

Knight Ridder was one of the few news organizations that was on the job prior to the invasion of Iraq. Now it looks like the Republicans are trying to take them over. (I've never understood why liberals don't buy their way into news organizations to prevent Republican control of them.)

John Dean: Indeed, when one studies the indictment, and carefully reads the transcript of the press conference, it appears Libby's saga may be only Act Two in a three-act play. And in my view, the person who should be tossing and turning at night, in anticipation of the last act, is the Vice President of the United States, Richard B. Cheney. Dean believes that the indictment mentions the Espionage Act "unnecessarily" because that's the crime Fitzgerald was really looking to prosecute - and which pursuit was obstructed when Libby perjured himself.

Right-wing nut quits PBS board: Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, who sparked controversy by asserting that programs carried by public broadcasters have a liberal bias, resigned yesterday from the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting a day after the agency's inspector general delivered a report apparently critical of his leadership. The board is till in the grip of conservatives, but at least we're rid of the guy who, with our tax dollars, hired people to investigate "liberal bias" on Bill Moyers' show.

The Beatles were badly behaved and took drugs. Yeah, again.

17:11 GMT

Thursday, 03 November 2005

So goes the empire

Bush's job approval rating is now 35%, and Cheney's is 19%. Most Americans don't want what Bush is serving up, and we'd better make sure our legislators know it. I know a lot of people think they can only write to Democratic legislators but you can use plenty of "conservative" talking points to complain about how this guy is wrecking the economy, fiscally irresponsible, contemptuous of states' rights, appoints AGs with lousy priorities (going after pot, porn, and hookers instead of taking care of national security), etc.

Huh. I haven't gone over this yet, but from the news stories it appears that the House voted down the Blog bill, which would have exempted all weblogs, regardless of the circumstances, from Federal Election Commission oversight. Democrats apparently have a different bill they want that would protect bloggers without protecting, say, a blog set up by a pharmaceutical house to campaign illegally for candidate. Or something like that. (Via Comments From Left Field.) The right-wing blogosphere is painting this as Democrats voting against free speech, of course.

In Newsweek, Jonathan Alter discusses whether Rove is a security risk, which he obviously is, and he should have his clearance revoked and be kicked out of Washington altogether. No, he's not a security risk, come to think of it, since the "risk" part is over and he's actually a security disaster.

In the WaPo, Jim Hoagland writes an open letter to Bush asking why he didn't just respond to Joe Wilson's op-ed with a letter to the editor. Well, that would be putting it in writing, which would have made them too easy to pin down. I mean, you know he would have lied in print just as he has when he speaks. Hoagland suggests that Bush should not have feared openness, but that's actually a ridiculous suggestion to someone who was engaged in the largest criminal enterprise in history. Of course they are secretive - they're committing numerous odious crimes. Why would they want to admit that in public? The Mahablog has more.

17:29 GMT

First hits of the morning

'Scalito' on civil rights:

Alito has written six major dissents, including Bray , on cases involving employment discrimination, siding squarely with the employee one of those times.
And you only get one guess on what was different about that one employee.

Atrios has a link up under the title Bill Buckley to Jonah Goldberg: STFU, which, unfortunately, doesn't seem to be accessible at the moment (but this is it in case you can). I think this quotation in Atrios' comments is from the article:

The importance of the law against revealing the true professional identity of an agent is advertised by the draconian punishment, under the federal code, for violating it. In the swirl of the Libby affair, one loses sight of the real offense, and it becomes almost inapprehensible what it is that Cheney/Libby/Rove got themselves into. But the sacredness of the law against betraying a clandestine soldier of the republic cannot be slighted.
George Takei comes out in this interview with Frontiers, and to AP. (Yahoo has a Star Trek slideshow with their version of the story.) (This post from Daryl McCullough tipped me off that the story was out there.)

11:56 BST

I saw it last night

In the chatroom, Phelix said: The 2000 election was like the Stonewall Riots for the rightwing. They can now go out in public without their hoods, chanting: We're here, we're bigots, and we hate you.

Kevin Drum has a number of interesting posts up, including one on Husband notification (since gay marriage isn't legal and there are no laws requiring a man to notify his wife of his medical decisions, as per Ampersand). As I've mentioned before, abortion is just one of a constellation of hot button conservative social issues that have at their core a desire to enforce traditional sex and gender roles, and notification laws are yet another example of that. They aren't about notification, they're about control. Like I keep saying, too. (Also, a post on how ironic it is to hear Republicans whining about how Democrats aren't behaving the way they want them to. And I don't believe any assurances from Alito or anyone else from this bunch who apparently have a religion that allows them to lie under oath to achieve their ends.)

David Neiwert on The ultimate Newspeak - the right-wing meme that liberalism = fascism.

It looks like Pinch still can't bear to lose Judy, and could she be Back in the Bosom of the Times?

Xymphora has a look at Neocon history: All their lies were simply ad hoc excuses to back up a ten-year old plan which had been thwarted by Presidents too smart to carry it out. Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and Libby just bided their time during the Clinton interregnum, waiting for a Bush stupid enough to go along with their insane ideas.

Your Go-To Blogger On Tax Reform is, of course, the one and only Max, so you listen! (And Screw the Blue States.)

10:52 GMT

Feed your head

"Dirty hippies", i.e., you and me is perhaps especially interesting because Patrick was once frighteningly intense about his support for post-9/11 military action. But unlike most people in that category, he worked out relatively early that he was wrong. There's a very readable thread about how and why the anti-invasion position was marginalized.

I am so relieved to know that the prisoners at Guantanamo are not on a hunger strike at all, but simply on a diet.

It really impresses me that all these administration officials just can't recall whether or not they went out of their way to break both the law and a CIA operative's cover. I mean, you'd think you'd remember a thing like that, wouldn't you? And they can't remember secret meetings with suspicious characters, either.

Gallup says Americans don't like Alito any more than they liked Miers, and that they will like him even less if they find out he is likely to overturn Roe v. Wade. If most Senate Democrats oppose the nomination and decide to filibuster against Alito, 50% of Americans believe they would be justified, while 40% say they would not.

And Bill Scher wonders whether Democrats can walk and chew gum at the same time - that is, focus on both Harry Reid's excellent adventure and move against Alito.

00:25 GMT

Wednesday, 02 November 2005

This isn't us

All celebrations notwithstanding, the horror goes on, with today's papers also containing the - again, front-page in the WaPo - story of our chain of secret prisons: The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement. Did I hear someone say "gulag"?

Well, you knew it wasn't just a couple of prisons. And you hardly know what to say about an administration that thinks it's more important to be able to torture people than to have the respect and cooperation of the world or even keep the Geneva Conventions around to protect our own troops.

The country is run by someone who is, frankly, just not a nice man. Taylor Marsh just calls Bush "Terror Guy". And she says:

I don't know the God George W. Bush and his followers pray to in private or pridefully in public. I don't believe their act. Because the God I know never said anything about torture, and He certainly never said it was the way to make us free.

20:06 GMT

The inside CW

Let's see what administration apologist "Dean" Broder has to say about the nomination of a deranged right-wing crackpot to the Supreme Court of the United States:

President Pushover

Under other circumstances, President Bush's choice of Judge Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court would have been seen as a bold move by a strong president with a clear policy objective. By choosing a man of superior intellectual heft and an indelible record of conservative views on major social issues, Bush would have been challenging his critics on the Democratic side to test their arguments in an arena where everything favored him: a Republican Senate.

But after the fiasco of the Harriet Miers nomination and the other reversals of recent days and weeks, the Alito nomination inevitably looks like a defensive move, a lunge for the lifeboat by an embattled president to secure what is left of his political base. Instead of a consistent and principled approach to major decision making, Bush's efforts look like off-balance grabs for whatever policy rationales he can find. The president's opponents are emboldened by this performance, and his fellow partisans must increasingly wonder if they can afford to march to his command.

I see Broder hasn't shaken himself lose from the idea that Bush is "bold" rather than merely brazen and rash. And of course, we have all the buzzwords about what a stellar record the new nominee has.

But if Broder thinks Bush has shot himself in the foot, that means he's shot himself in the foot as far as the Washington blitherati are concerned, so I guess that's a good thing.

18:35 GMT

Media note

I linked to this story below, but I want to note the headline - and this is a front-page headline, currently second from the top on the WaPo website: GOP Angered by Closed Senate Session.

Think about that for a minute. The headline doesn't refer to the fact that Democrats were forced to invoke Rule 21 because the Republicans had refused to deliver on promised investigation of the failures that led us to invade Iraq, it is only about how the GOP has been "angered". Sounds like a story that hardly belongs on the front page, doesn't it?

Dana Milbank (on page 5) is a bit better with Mad About You, which at least doesn't make it sound like Republicans were the victims of some outrage. (In fact, the article describes Frist as having had "a screaming temper tantrum".) The NYT (using the IHT story cited earlier, but with their own title) focused on the real story: Democrats Force Senate Into Closed Session Over Iraq Data. And even the right-wing CNN managed Democrats close Senate to push war probe.

17:59 GMT

Doing the business

First let's dispense with the right-wing's usual claims about how the democrats are "moonbats" and out of the mainstream. CNN always has a daily poll on their front page (bottom right). Here's their current result:

Does there need to be a debate on the reasons for going to war in Iraq?  
Yes, we need answers   71%  45290 votes  
No, let's move on      29%  18463 votes  
                     Total: 63753 votes  
[Update: I generally consider it too obvious to comment on that these online polls aren't worth much, but Gary Farber suggests I have been unclear. What's most interesting about this poll was that CNN asked the question at all. That's what makes it mainstream. That's what makes it mainstream.]

And now, before Michael Kinsley writes anything about it, let's look at what those wild and crazy guys, Harry Reid and Dick Durbin did:

Rule 21:

1. On a motion made and seconded to close the doors of the Senate, on the discussion of any business which may, in the opinion of a Senator, require secrecy, the Presiding Officer shall direct the galleries to be cleared; and during the discussion of such motion the doors shall remain closed.

2. When the Senate meets in closed session, any applicable provisions of rules XXIX and XXXI, including the confidentiality of information shall apply to any information and to the conduct of any debate transacted.

That's simple enough, isn't it? Well, not simple enough for Bill Frist:
WASHINGTON In an extraordinary sign of the depth of political acrimony here, Democratic leaders employed a rarely invoked rule Tuesday to place the entire Senate in closed session, saying that the Republican majority had reneged on a promise to investigate thoroughly the flawed intelligence used to justify the Iraq war.
"I demand on behalf of the American people that we understand why these investigations aren't being conducted," Reid said from the Senate floor, "and in accordance with Rule 21, I now move that the Senate go into closed session."

The majority leader, Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, appeared furious over the maneuver, which he labeled a "political stunt." Reid's predecessors had never invoked Rule 21, Frist said.

Well, his predecessor didn't do much of anything once he received that anthrax in the mail, but this is only the first time in a couple of decades that closed doors have been demanded without prior consultation with the other party - it's not that new. And that's clearly because consultation with the other party has been proven to fail. The Republicans made this necessary.
"The resort to this, this, this stunt - this political stunt - this scare tactic, is really deeply disappointing," he said. But, Frist said, "if they want to get in the gutter, I guess that's what they'll do."
No, this is an actual Senate rule, unlike the Republicans' threatened nuclear option. There is no excuse for Frist's whining.

But, at long last, the Dems are doing the only thing they can do if they are going to move forward: Make a big public deal over the fact that they were lied into war.

The right-wing loony response is, of course, the usual cowardly stonewalling and name-calling, complete with hand-wringing over government doing anything behind closed doors! (Strangely, not a problem when it's, say, the creation of a totally corrupt energy bill.) So, we have to discuss delicate security matters right on television or not at all. As The Liberal Avenger asks, "What does the Republican leadership have to hide?"

Well, maybe it's more a matter of what they have to hide from. As Robert Parry points out, Americans now have a different matter on their minds: Is Impeachment the Answer?

Washington pundits are showering George W. Bush with advice on how to "restart" his presidency, but many Americans seem more interested in whether it's possible to "terminate" his presidency, removing him and other top officials from office. It is a question asked of us often.

12:22 GMT

Crippled blogging

Headline news: Democrats find some 'title="An organ in animals that produces gametes, especially a testis or ovary.">'nads!

The drugs still aren't working and I don't want to type. Read Seeing the Forest for the big news on the Dem shut-down of the Senate to force an investigation of the lies that led us to Iraq. Watch Harry Reid do it here.

Media Girl asks the important question, Does a "failed president" have any business trying to radicalize the Supreme Court? ...this is the president who tries to radicalize the Supreme Court and undo 70 years of progress in this country, and take the Court away from what the public wants?

Publius on The Immigration Trap: The chief problem facing America is NOT immigration. It's not civil rights, or abortion, or gay marriage. These are all issues that matter, but they will not in the end fundamentally alter American life. The central challenge facing the country is the steady erosion of economic opportunity and the slow disappearance of the middle class. Via CommonSenseDesk.

Traitorgate round-up from King of Zembla.

03:18 GMT

Tuesday, 01 November 2005

Lotta links

It sounds like a war zone out there. I wish they used fireworks that made more light than noise, but it's the other way around.

I've had pain all day in my left hand and neither the aspirin nor the codeine seem to be making much of a dent, so just some interesting links right now:

Hunter at Daily Kos on the lie Drudge and Chris Matthews seem to have come up with to make it sounds like Democratic analysis of Alito is just an attack on him for being (get this) Italian.

The FCC has an agreement for the merger of Verizon and SBC: In a way, the deal reverses the intent of the 1984 consent decree that forced AT&T to spin off into seven regional phone companies that became known as the Baby Bells. Now two of those local phone companies have officially grown up and gone national.

You just can't trust anyone, even porn dealers: A mail-order porn video outfit has been stung for £4,000 by Dorking magistrates for failing to measure up in the hard-core department, the Mirror reports. (Thanks to Dominic (of) for the tip.)

Sirota: Businessweek says Corporate America is again salivating over another of President Bush's Supreme Court nominee, this time Samuel Alito. The magazine notes Alito "has been a staunch proponent of limits on legal liability, employee rights, and federal regulation." Jordan Barab and Nathan Newman both have more.

Truth Out has those NYT editorials and some others besides:

Someone told Kristof he had it wrong, because now he's asking the right questions: What Did Cheney Know, and When Did He Know It?

Norman Solomon, After the Libby Indictment, the Press Is Acquitting Itself: A lot of media outlets are now scrutinizing some of the lies told by the Bush administration before the invasion of Iraq. Yet the same news organizations are bypassing their own key roles in the marketing of those lies. A case in point is the New York Times.

Bob Herbert, Smoke Gets in Our Eyes: There's a reason so many top officials of the Bush administration treat the truth as if it were kryptonite. More than anything else, the simple truth has the potential to destroy the Bush gang.

Paul Krugman, Ending the Fraudulence: What do I mean by essential fraudulence? Basically, I mean the way an administration with an almost unbroken record of policy failure has nonetheless achieved political dominance through a carefully cultivated set of myths.

Frank Rich, One Step Closer to the Big Enchilada: To believe that the Bush-Cheney scandals will be behind us anytime soon you'd have to believe that the Nixon-Agnew scandals peaked when G. Gordon Liddy and his bumbling band were nailed for the Watergate break-in.

Tom Tomorrow: How the news works now

21:18 GMT

"Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!"

We already knew all this, but here's confirmation:

Time Reporter Says He Learned Agent's Identity From Rove

One of the reporters at the center of the investigation into the leak of the identity of an undercover CIA officer, says he first learned the agent's name from President Bush's top political advisor, Karl Rove.

Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper also said today in an interview with "Good Morning America," that the vice president's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, confirmed to him that Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a covert CIA operative.

Of course, Bush has no excuse for not firing Rove, but that was already true.

16:29 GMT

Blogger's notebook

Excuses, excuses: Semidi found a hot piece of spin being floated in order to absolve Bush for his errors: He's just a victim of everyone else.

Good news from TalkLeft: An Iowa court has upheld the executive order by Governor Tom Vilsack restoring the rights of convicted felons who have served their sentences. There's also a round-up of posts on why Ari Fleischer is probably The Third Man. And you can watch Jeralyn be smart (and gorgeous) on TV here. (And Instahack say some dopey things, too.)

Arlen Specter is giving us a re-run of his Harriet Miers story on Alito. As Joe Gandelman points out, this didn't work out so well last time.

People have been assuming throughout their working lives that at retirement those pensions they earned would keep them afloat. Small problem: They may not be there. Some companies have already defaulted and it does look like The New Big Thing. Kevin Drum says: "The short message is: we're all screwed."

At Is That Legal, the (real) White House Talking Points on Alito.

You know, the first thing the administration really did after 9/11 was try to destroy the tourist industry in the US. They're still doing it.

The Top 10 GOP Post-Indictment Sound Bites.

13:36 GMT

Interesting stuff

Diane Greenhalgh at Ideopolis says Peace Begets Prosperity: Despite the promises made by globalization, in the last twenty years the world's poorest countries have fallen further behind the rich. This might make sense to you and me, but now there's statistical evidence. Branko Milanovic of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace did statistical analysis (PDF) that debunks current development theories that explain why poorer countries have not reaped the rewards of global economic integration. Milanovic found that involvement in wars and civil conflicts is the most important determinant for the lack of growth of poor countries while the effects of domestic reforms or international lending were minimal.

MI has also posted a Progressives' Guide to the Samuel Alito Nomination.

Shari L at An Old Soul on Norquist and California's 'broken system': When I notice the Governor blaming Davis or the Democratic Legislature for the 'mess' or the 'broken system', I get really ticked off mostly because I think there's more to the dynamic than just the Dems. Just as bad is his 'reform' as the solution to the 'broken system'. Yeah right. One example too late: now we know 'taking it to the people of Cah-li-for-nia' means putting on a special election for corporate interests at taxpayer expense. Let's not fall for that one again.

The Carpetbagger on Bush's Cheney problem: When Dick Morris starts publicly questioning Dick Cheney's role in the Plame scandal, it's kind of interesting because Morris loves Cheney and has dismissed the controversy for months. But when Nick Kristof raises the specter of Cheney's resignation in the New York Times, the White House has an entirely different kind of problem. Dems aren't going to let this go; the indictment against Libby paints too damning a picture against Cheney. I expect the VP to enjoy his undisclosed location more and more in the coming weeks. Via Daou Report.

Pre$$titutes says Chris Matthews Jumps The Shark: During the 2pm EST hour on MSNBC, "Tweety" (as Matthews is known in progressive circles) described what he perceived as Bush's "nobility" in handling the Libby indictment.

The WaPo says White House Ethics, Honesty Questioned: A majority of Americans say the indictment of senior White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby signals broader ethical problems in the Bush administration, and nearly half say the overall level of honesty and ethics in the federal government has fallen since President Bush took office, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News survey. Via Best of the Blogs (which is calling Fitzpatrick "Elliot" - the Untouchable, and has a worst case scenario).

Kevin Drum has what looks to me like a a really big clue full of Chalabi, Ledeen, and Iran. Via Atrios, who says: I've long been partial to the generally said with a whisper theory that the Iraq war was in no small part the product of Iranian intelligence. It's hard to see how they weren't the ones with the most to gain from the conflict. It just might be true.

Also via Atrios, an outstanding article by Nitpicker on The Soul of Victor Davis Hanson: Doesn't it reflect badly on the purpose of the war in Iraq that, three years later, most people don't even know why we're there? Do you think that Ernie Pyle needed to explain to the American people why we were fighting in World War II? Do you think that the Roosevelt administration had 27 different reasons to fight the Germans or the Japanese? Could the press have dismantled his single reason?

02:12 GMT

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, November 2005

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