The Sideshow

Archive for November 2007

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Friday, 30 November 2007

Broken news

C&L has some video of the hostage situation at the Clinton campaign office. Apparently, the hostage-taker is just now being reported to have been arrested. I really have nothing to say about this.

Yes, it's true, we have better cell phone service here in the socialist hell-holes of western Europe than you've got in the US.

Although Dan Rather and a few others have admitted that they fell down on the job by not questioning the administration's pre-invasion propaganda, Tom Brokaw is still in denial.

I haven't read this interview with Matt Taibbi, yet, but I'm posting this as a note to myself.

Jon Swift explains Journalism 101.

Could media consolidation be falling apart? That'd be nice. (via)

Steve Bates is pretty unhappy with this new thing of DHS drafting firefighters into their spy network. Just another part of the war on you and me.

23:29 GMT

I don't know, but....

In comments, Bryan says:

"Dickie" Scruggs is a lot of things, Democrat among them, but not stupid enough to bribe a judge who is dependent on the Repub "Good Ol' Boy" network in Mississippi for his survival.

He hired another lawyer to handle an attorney's fees claim while he personally continued to beat up insurance companies over their conduct after Katrina.

This isn't the first time he's been accused of something, and it surely won't be the last. Trent Lott used Dickie to sue his insurance company because the Repub lawyers wouldn't do it.

Nothing Dickie does affects Lott.

That all makes more sense to me than the official story and unofficial speculation I've seen elsewhere. And dog knows by now we're used to seeing malicious prosecutions of people who are insufficiently Republican....

I still think the lobbying thing is the more likely reason Lott quit.

19:55 GMT

People are talking

Joe Conason on the Annapolis photo-op on Israeli/Palestinian peace, says "The Grown-Ups Never Showed Up."

"Court Explains Meaning of 'Free White Persons'" - It's our heritage, and Rick Perlstein says we saw it at work at the GOP debate.

What does it mean when the Guardian is the most popular English-language online newspaper, now surpassing The New York Times? Maybe it means fewer people trust the NYT...for some reason.

Once again, there is nothing libertarian about being anti-abortion, as Scott Lemieux points out.

The Hon. Dr. St. Rev. Bradley S. Rocket, Esq, PhD, MD says "Cartoonists are our only hope after Toles gets it right even though the WaPo blows goats.

MahaBarb on Twilight of the Would-Be Gods: "I'd rather just live in the plain ol' real world, thanks. But this does tell us a lot about why so many are so keen on labeling themselves 'conservative' even if they can't agree on what it means. They are loyal to an idea of conservatism. They like the sound of 'limited government' even as they promote warrantless wiretapping and state control of reproduction. They believe in the 'rule of law' even if they don't practice it. They honor 'democracy' even as they don't trust it."

Roger Ailes sums up the GOP debate (via). Scott Horton says there was one good moment. Alas, it was big talk from someone who'd already betrayed those principles.

For those who missed it last time, George Carlin - Who Really Controls America, via Bartcop, with thanks to jimp1947 for the reminder.

17:46 GMT

More news catch-up

Time magazine has made Joe Klein's misstatements about FISA into an institutional lie by "correcting" it without correcting it, Glenn Greenwald reports. Glenn also says a court has ordered the administration to disclose its telecom lobbying ties, but we should hear about Senators: "The court rejected every administration claim as to why it should not have to disclose these records. [...] But all of this reasoning applies with equal force to those Senators who have been so instrumental in working on behalf of telecoms to keep amnesty in the FISA bill. As Ryan Singel of Wired first noted, the key amnesty proponent in the Senate, Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, has been the beneficiary of an enormous increase in contributions from the telecom industry this year, immediately preceding his extreme efforts (in tandem with Dick Cheney) on behalf of that industry to secure amnesty." And then, of course, there's DiFi.

Think Progress notes CNNís Irresponsible Debate Coverage. There are days when even Fox is better.

Robert Parry on The 'Triumphant' Neocons: "Citing signs of military progress in Iraq, Americaís neoconservatives are reasserting their vision of the United States as an imperial power that can reshape the Muslim world in a way favorable to the interests of Washington and Tel Aviv." Krauthammer even thinks we are winning in Iraq. Parry says Hillary Clinton's campaign may just be triangulation to try to blunt the force of the neocons.

So George Bush finds being president joyous - He just loves presiding over the destruction of our country.

Things are so bad that lawyers are getting together to help veterans pro bono to get their benefits. I guess that's another thing to remember the next time you hear people making wholesale attacks on lawyers. This, too, perhaps.

So, the studios finally came to the table with an offer - to give the writers' even less than they are getting now. It seems clear that the writers' problem is that they are not asking for enough money. Meanwhile, the strike means that many young people are not getting any news, because they normally get it from Jon Stewart. (And why did Feinstein vote to make demonstrators criminals?)

14:17 GMT

News overload

Man, I missed a helluva news period while I was out.

Imagine my surprise upon learning that the guy Joe Klein thinks is the most credible source for what is in legislation (as opposed to actually reading the legislation) and what both sides have to say about it is right-wing fruitcake Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), who is outraged at his far-left critics who for some reason don't like violations of the Fourth Amendment. Must be more of those American insurgents. Meanwhile, Buck Naked Politics provides the simple prescription (one you'd have thought was obvious) for the Stepford Press if they want to stop being the subject of outrage from non-right-wing commentators: "Please Just Admit Errors, Apologize, and Start Questioning Sources' Claims." (And don't we all wish our leading publications knew the difference between "rumors" and lies.)

(Speaking of Buck Naked Politics, here's the news round-up for the days before my little holiday.)

A lot of people believe that the indictment of Trent Lott's brother-in-law is the real reason Lott is stepping down. "Prominent Mississippi trial attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, the brother-in-law of outgoing GOP Sen. Trent Lott, was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on charges that he and four other men tried to bribe a Mississippi state court judge." I'm sure there's a good "Lott's wife" gag in there I'm not going to bother trying to construct, but I'm not sure why this would be enough to get Lott to drop out. And there's the interesting fact that Scruggs seems not to be your typical corrupt Republican - perhaps because he's been on what for the GOP would be the "wrong" side of a lot of issues, including tobacco suits, asbestos, Katrina victims, and, um, fundraising for Hillary Clinton. Hmm. (Thanks to amberglow for the tip.) And Mike Rogers doesn't appear to think there's much "there" there on how gay Lott is. (Thanks to Charles.)

Pat Leahy says the White House's executive privilege claims are bollocks and he will move on contempt charges if Rove and Bolton don't come in and talk to Congress.

Josh has tons of stuff at TPM on the revelations about Rudy Giuliani's fascinating budgeting for his special Mistress Services, and what his affair with Judi really cost New York.

"Sanctimonious spectacle of hypocrisy" dies. That was Rachel Maddow's description of forced-pregnancy leader Henry Hyde. Any talk about how much dignity and integrity the old creep had is just more of the same. More, (via).

11:36 GMT

Late links

Yes, it's true, I buggered off to Newcastle again and didn't warn anyone. The travel part didn't make me happy and I lost another favorite earring (fortunately, not one of the hand-made-just-for-me ones, the only down-side being that it's harder to get a replacement made), but I had a good time talking about sex and porn with a neat group of students.

Anyway, haven't had much time to catch up, yet, but here's some links that came in the mail while I was offline:

Lambert on How Hillary can solve her image problem on restoring Constitutional government.

The Art of Mental Warfare, Covert agent speaks out - the trouble with anonymous sources is that they're anonymous, but in this case they'd have to be.

Needed: A 'Factness Doctrine' - Adult Video News editor Mark Kernes is tired of hearing fake facts blasted all over the air. (Me, too, a long, long time ago.)

A New Beginning for American Families: The Dodd Plan for Fair, Practical Bankruptcy Reform. Yes, please!

00:08 GMT

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

But everyone still talks about how badly they are shocked

Bob Herbert warns that the GOP has plenty of ugly waiting for the Dem candidate in the coming electoral contest, and it won't be a shoo-in for Democrats. It means they are going to have to step up and show courage, and we haven't seen it, yet. But Digby is already seeing the trap the GOP is setting with immigration that the Dems are falling into. Not to mention Hillary's stupid attempt at bipartisanship.

If you thought that Cüture of Truth version of Press the Meat was off the wall, well, Liz Cox Barrett at Columbia Journalism Review will put you right, 'cause she didn't think much of Russert's house party, either. (Thanks to amberglow for the tip.)

Robert Novak is worried about The False Conservative - that is, Mike Huckabee, who looks to be getting some love from the serious religious whackos, the answer to the question, "What if the right-wing religious base fields their own candidate?" (Thanks to ron for the pointer.)

At Firedoglake, Eli suggests that CBS sounds nervous in their refusal to allow the man they hired to investigate the allegedly forged Killian documents (who concluded that they "were probably authentic, and that the underlying facts in the Broadcast were certainly accurate") to answer questions from Dan Rather's lawyer.

E.J. Dionne thinks he sees a lesson for Democrats in Kevin Rudd's win in Australia.

David Sirota asks, "Was Ross Perot Right?" On NAFTA, the answer does seem to be, "Yes."

How Freeway Blogger spent Thanksgiving vacation.

At Sex in the Public Square, Chris reviews Robert Jensen's Getting Off, and finds that, as usual. the alleged feminist critique of porn isn't feminist or much of a departure at all from the same old sexist assumptions.

Tracy Nelson doing "Miss You Like the Devil" on Jools.

12:59 GMT


Dwight Meredith alerts me in mail to a news moment:

On the CBS Evening news tonite, Dean Reynolds reported on Obama's campaign in South Carolina. Part of the transcript:
Of course, there are whites who will never vote for Obama because he is black.

"I don't want to sound prejudiced or anything, but for one, I am not going to vote for a colored man to be our president," said one South Carolina voter.

I haven't found the video but it was priceless.

That seems to be the precise Republican position on race. They don't want to SOUND prejudiced or anything.

10:34 GMT

Late links

I see Glenn's attempts to communicate with Time have born more rotten fruit. Joe Klein is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Atrios may have made an error, though, since some people believe that Rick and Mickey are also joined by Ann Coulter and her goat. But he's getting really good at this how to write like Joe Klein stuff.

Jonathan Schwarz has been doing interviews, and the latest is with Norman Solomon. (Also, IslamoHorowitzism Awareness Month, and The Horrible, Horrible Humans Of Washington, D.C..)

GOP officially makes deal with the devil.

I don't know, maybe it's a Doctor Who reference. (And, oh my god this is appropriate.)

Gosh, I guess white nerd boys can dance after all. (Thanks to Dominic for the tip.)

02:41 GMT

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

On the drum

At Firedog Lake, Jane Hamsher called Time but they apparently don't think that Joke Line's admission that he got his story wrong and doesn't know what he's talking about (and says he's too busy to figure it out) warrants a correction. (Meanwhile, Blue Texan learns from Dennis Prager that the world loves Bush's America - except for those crazy, America-hating lefties.) But Glenn Greenwald isn't having much love with Time, either - and gives us the news that explains everything: John Kerry craved Joe Klein's approval. This seems to be true for many Democrats - except, apparently, Rush Holt, who corrects Klein's misrepresentations over at The Huffington Post.

Digby thinks our corporate media is doing GOP prep work for the general election by suddenly erupting in articles and statements about how liberal their candidates are.

Bob Somerby discovers what Howard Kurtz means by "liberal media".

At The Left Coaster, eriposte is running a series on why he thinks Hillary Clinton is less corporate than you think. (And via TLC, Joseph Galloway on White House criminals.)

Phil Donahue is back with a documentary film, Body of War.

23:54 GMT

Embrace the mystery

Thom Hartmann was saying yesterday that Trent Lott probably resigned because there's new legislation about to become law that makes it illegal to jump into the lobbying stream right after leaving government, so if he wants to get on the gravy train he has to leave now. Of course, that hasn't stopped rumors that it's all to do with new revelations expected about Republican sex scandals, including one about Trent Lott and a rent-boy. I see Susie Bright is right on that. Alas, the escort is now denying it.

Some people say disturbing things about Jake Tapper. (PS. Impeach.)

Norman Solomon, "How the Media Fuel Class Warfare: "Class war"? The nation's most powerful editors cringe at the phrase. But every day, millions of Americans are painfully aware that -- by any other name -- class warfare is going on, and they're losing." (via)

Josh Marshall says he had an epiphany over the weekend and concluded that Mitt stands a good chance of being the GOP nominee. And, though last week you were a paranoid loon for saying so, today everybody knows the plan is to stay in Iraq forever. (And I suppose it won't occur to the Democratic Party to at least run a progressive to try for Trent Lott's seat.)

After reading this, I think it would be a good idea for lots of people to send a letter to the editor to Time, with the subject line "For the attention of Joe Klein," and the US Constitution as its entire contents.

Patrick has pointed out to me that is from Ralph Nader's Public Citizen, about whom much has been said.

Meet the Press translated.

16:13 GMT

A bunch of stuff

Oh, dear, The Washington Post has an article on citizen journalism. Look, we're a mix of reporters and editors and commentators and expert sources. A lot of us are considerably better, most of the time, than what you will find on the front page or op-ed pages of The Washington Post. Some aren't. Some are patchy. Many would be outstanding if we had the time and news budget available to paid journalists, but since we're not paid, we can't make lots of long-distance phone calls or spend a work-day doing the necessary leg-work for comprehensive reportage. (Josh Marshall's TPM empire proves it can be done, though.) But there's a lot of important journalism - the kind that a free press is supposed to be for - that is more often found on blogs than in the newspapers or broadcast/cable news. Labor issues, for example, are of great import to the public but get short-shrift from the corporate media. The real perspective of ordinary people who are confronting what's really going on out there is more likely to be found on some individual's web page than in The Washington Post.

So now they're sending out bounty hunters to make Medicare just as stingy and nasty as private insurance. Terrific.

The whole business with continuing resolutions is pretty sickening: "The Dems started the game by negotiating with themselves and the loathsome Blue and Bush Dogs. They sent a stingy budget to both chambers and came out of conference with a stingier one. BushCo swore to veto nearly every part of it (appropriations bills) and has been doing that to great effect with the help of his party-over-country minions, who refuse to budge. We're stuck with nothing getting past the dead-enders and faced with operating on funding from last year, which is essentially funding from the year before. If you do nothing else on this issue, call your reps in Congress once a day to tell them that you are watching. You want the budget passed this year with the fewest cuts possible. No CR. No more Starving the Beast. The Beast is us."

Where's Osama? Not In Iraq, That's For Sure." Phoenix Woman reviews our glorious wars.

Does Hillary Clinton have a plan to restore Constitutional government? Lambert studies her site and her words, and can't find it. She also talks about "paper trails" rather than paper ballots, and she seems to think the way to go on the big issues has less to do with the Constitution than consensus. I think this woman reads too much David Broder.

Ten reasons Jonathan Schwarz resents evolution.

I had no idea that Trish Wilson had become a sex columnist.

Texas businessmen still dirt-stupid.

So, comments are tending to support the idea that it's okay if I put in an ad strip, but with reservations about content. I dunno, I kind of like the idea of getting money for posting ads for Newt's and Annie's books that no one who comes here will ever buy. And I do worry about whether having an ad strip will be a drag on how quickly the page loads - an important concern for my dial-up users. Besides, I hate the thought of having to add in another column table. Will think on this some more. Meanwhile, does anyone know anything about the various advertising thingies?

13:00 GMT

Monday, 26 November 2007

Loose talk

Jon Swift asks, "Does Mark Halperin Have What It Takes? Is Halperin's piece a bold move that will cause him to break out from the ranks of other pundits or is it a career-ending gaffe? [...] There was a time when Mark Halperin was the golden boy of the chattering classes. As the writer of ABC's The Note he was celebrated for his uncanny ability to repeat what everyone else in Washington was saying in a way that confirmed it to be true."

Ed Kilgore, "Libertarian Chic: The latest evidence that the Ron Paul Revolution has achieved pop-culture Cool Status is in the puffy Washington Post Outlook Section piece today by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch that discovers libertarianism for readers who have somehow missed the whole phenomenon over the last few decades."

Chris Dodd submits a question for the Republican debate.

Turning historical materialism on its head - and perhaps a pathway out of fascism. (via)

Digby: "This is not brain surgery and it isn't ideological. This is purely tactical. If the Democrats are seen to be unwilling to take on the party and ardent supporters of the most unpopular president in history then their entire case for leadership falls completely flat. Of course, they have to run against Bush. The Republicans are Bush."

Natasha agrees that The Constitution is not that hard, and picks out a couple of bits that some people seem to have forgotten. You'd think our courts and Congress, for example, would have no trouble understanding, for example, this bit: "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land" Note that it does not say that the president is the supreme law of the land.

Bush secrecy in review - the list keeps growing.

Sorry about maligning Lance down there (I must have picked up cooties from reading Joke Line) - he actually just talked about men wearing jeans after a certain age, and bottled out of saying anything about women after realizing he was under The Blonde's surveillance. But he still didn't get that jeans aren't about fashion.

23:14 GMT

Gotta sing, gotta link

I gotta admit, the top headline at the NYT made me chuckle: "Short of Funds, G.O.P. Recruits the Rich to Run: "Confronting an enormous fund-raising gap with Democrats, Republican Party officials are aggressively recruiting wealthy candidates who can spend large sums of their own money to finance their Congressional races, party officials say."

Atrios clarifies about The Grand Era of Bipartisanship: "It was, as we all know, due to a messed up Democratic coalition which contained significant numbers of racist assholes until they retired, died, or became Republicans. That the Villagers miss these people says much about them."

I read stuff like this and this and it only confirms my feeling that people have started talking about "recession" because they don't want to have to use the d-word. I just keep remembering my mother saying, "My father was a dry-cleaner. We didn't have food, but we always had clean clothes."

I don't get it. Is Trent Lott about to be exposed as a child rapist or something? I mean, this is awfully sudden.

The BooMan points out that the biggest problem with Joe Klein isn't just that he gets his information from Republicans and Rush Limbaugh, isn't even that he's such a lousy reporter, but that he doesn't care about our civil liberties.

"Winter of Our Discontent" - Paul Krugman says the pundits are wrong and the public is right that the economy is not so hot. And that whoever is in the White House in 2009 has a lot of work to do.

Sam Seder did a long interview with Naomi Klein on his show this week, which I heartily recommend you listen to. It's followed by a good interview with Charlie Savage, too - they work together well. He also talked to Anouar Majid and Jeffrey Toobin about their latest books.

At Opinions You Should Have, guest blogger Chris Edelson reports as Democrats Hand Over Own Balls To President At White House Ceremony. - They advise you not to take certain prescription drugs, and to be careful about using some others. No idea how reliable they are.

16:43 GMT

Thinking extremely locally

I was thinking maybe I should endorse myself for president, since at least I know I can defend a good argument and drive a truck through a bad one most of the time. And I could school-marm the hell out of nitwits like Tim Russert. Plus, I would promise never to wear a grey cardigan while in office.

We didn't start wearing jeans because they were fashionable; we started wearing them mainly because they weren't. They were also cheap, durable, practical, and had pockets. (There were no such thing as "women's jeans" in those days.) We took a lot of crap for it, you understand. Back in those days, a woman who wore trousers had to listen to some jerk say, "Why don't you dress like a woman?" with some frequency. It was always a surprise, though, because it didn't make any sense. "Drag queens have to dress like a woman," I would say. "I am a woman, I don't have to imitate one. What I'm wearing is what a woman wears." (It's not like there could be any confusion about that.) But I've been dressing this way since I was 15 and I'm not going to stop now - especially when most women's clothes still don't have decent pockets. This is what I meant when I said Lance Mannion was totally wrong about women and jeans. But he's too young to remember this stuff, so he wasn't ready when some reactionary college boy wrote a piece decrying pants-wearing women. Indeed, he missed the point.

Lately I've been getting an extraordinary number of search hits on terms related to largely illegal sexual acts. It's not that I never got them before (after all, it's hard to spend seven years writing a weblog without ever having the words "animal" or "mother" or "child" on the same page with the word "sex"), but it's up to something like ten percent, now.

Sometimes people offer to get me into BlogAds or something. I think about it. I think, "Oh, no, I'd have to put another table up for an ad strip." Then I think I'd like a little extra cash. Then I think they'd probably slow downloads. Then I say thanks but I don't think so right now, ask me later. But I must admit it rankles knowing that Time and The Washington Post are making money off our eye-tracks, and I'm not. I don't know; how much would you hate me if I had an ad strip on the right of the blogroll?

12:30 GMT

Sunday, 25 November 2007

All these voices

So, The New York Post is claiming that the idea that the Bushistas ignored warnings about 9/11 is just a "conspiracy theory". Well, no, it isn't - it's possible that they were so stupid they actually didn't recognize the threat staring them right in the face, but the fact remains that they were given warnings and they didn't do anything about them (except for John Ashcroft taking chartered flights, apparently). As Atrios points out, a good source for that story might be, say, the one that made the front page of The New York Post.

Another hit from Eschaton is Atrios' coverage of the media's recent obsession with Condi Rice's "legacy", which they don't seem to realize was pretty much settled when she announced that she didn't know national security was the job of the National Security Advisor, that she didn't take warnings that bin Laden was determined to attack inside the US as a threat to the US, and that she couldn't imagine that people would hijack planes for kamikaze action. Her continuing series of failures since then is just gravy.

Linda Boyd at The Seattle Post-Intelligencer thinks it's time - "Impeachment: If not now, when? [...] It's astounding that our representatives to Congress carry on with business as usual knowing that Americans lack habeas corpus and a working code of law. [...] If Congress were serious about oversight, there already would be dozens of bills and resolutions calling for impeachment of Bush and Cheney. The "Unitary Executive Theory" violates the principle of balance of power in the Constitution. The president cites this "unitary" power in hundreds of signing statements that say he can ignore laws passed by Congress."

"Outsourcing my international opinions" - Fontana Labs reads some articles about Iraq.

Joke Line provided us with an excellent example of the way the Republicans tell lies and then journalists for the corporate media repeat them while assuring us that they have some kind of knowledge base to which we hoi polloi are not privy. That's why he could assure us a while back that even though he didn't know much about the FISA business, those among us who disagreed with him knew even less. Only now he has admitted that he believed the Republicans without consulting Democrats, who said otherwise. Now that they've told him he's wrong, he's admitted that he may have written something inaccurate. Nevertheless, the Democrats are bad for not doing what the GOP wants, even though they're right. Glenn Greenwald analyzes this latest example of Kleinish stupidity. Jane Hamsher breaks it down, too.

The Archbishop of Canterbury says America is a worse imperial nation than Britain was "Rowan Williams claimed that Americaís attempt to intervene overseas by 'clearing the decks' with a 'quick burst of violent action' had led to 'the worst of all worlds'."

Naomi Wolf is in the WaPo saying that people don't seem to get how democracy works. She has a point: If you don't like your elective officials, replace them. Which reminds me... I keep hearing people talk like it's all so complicated, but really, the Constitution isn't a particularly long document, and more people should just sit down and read it.

Ron Beasley finds George F. Will praising Reagan for not being a warmonger. I hope it works.

23:24 GMT

Story time

Over at Memeorandum, I see lots of people are reacting to Mark Halperin's explanation of how he and his colleagues went off on such a wrong path in how they covered political campaigns. See, they all read a book that convinced them "that prospective presidents are best evaluated by their ability to survive the grueling quadrennial coast-to-coast test of endurance required to win the office." He doesn't say anything about how he and his colleagues also helped to make their chosen candidates' campaigns "more effective". For example, he says:

When George W. Bush ran in 2000, many voters liked his straightforward, uncomplicated mean-what-I-say-and-say-what-I-mean certainty. He came across as a man of principle who did not lust for the White House; he was surrounded by disciplined loyalists who created a cheerful cult of personality about their candidate.
But how did the public get the impression that Bush was such a person? Certainly not by his record or even by any straightforward talk or the appearance of being a man who did not lust for the White House. After all, he'd already collected a record-breaking campaign war chest long before the campaign season had started, and he lied his hiney off throughout the campaign. No, what Bush "did" that worked so well for him was have a press corps that was eager to lie about his opponent while papering-over Bush's continual lies and screw-ups. As Paul Krugman notes, you didn't have to get particularly close to Bush to notice that Bush was lying and unprincipled; you only had to look at what he said about his own policies.

But, as Steve M. reminds us, Halperin's excuse doesn't hold much water:

What It Takes was about the 1988 presidential campaign but didn't appear in print until the summer of 1992. It was certainly obvious to the voters by then that the guy who'd had "what it took" to win the '88 election hadn't been a particularly good president, which is why they resoundingly rejected him at the polls five months later. Why wasn't it obvious to Halperin?
Over at The Next Hurrah, Emptywheel finds it hilarious that Halperin finally realized he was wrong by comparing two "failed" presidents. Two equally failed presidents: George Walker Bush and William Jefferson Clinton. Really! (She also reveals that the same damned book was responsible for the egregious Matt Bai.)

I have a feeling Bob Somerby is going to have fun with this one. (Watching this space.) Halperin has at least admitted that they got coverage wrong. What they won't admit is that they didn't just cover the campaigns, but helped create what they "were". While it's true that the GOP often planted some of the memes among the press corps, the media picked them up and ran with them energetically - creating, twisting, embellishing, echoing and promoting them vigorously. It wasn't the GOP who invented the stories about Gore, it was journalists who took unremarkable facts and turned them into "telling" stories about Gore. And while GOP operatives may have constructed the attacks on Kerry's Vietnam service, it was the press corps that played them over and over, treating them as being more truthful than legitimate questions about Bush's lack of service. And then there was the "Dean Scream"....

No. Halperin's admission that covering the candidates as campaigners rather than as potential stewards of our nation was a mistake is all very well, but the fact of the matter is that they also never covered the campaigns that actually were, but the ones they invented.

19:25 GMT

Words on a page

Posterizing the Modern GOP at The Huffington Post. Via Steve Clemons, who also explains what Australia's new leadership means.

But What Type of Charlatan Would Do Such a Thing? The type of charlatan who would fudge the stats to make the economy look better than it is might just be Larry Kudlow. (More good news about the economy here.)

The Campaign To Save Jahongir Sidikov, with some links to other blogs supporting the fight to keep Sidikov from being sent back to Uzbekistan, and a please to contact your MP. WriteToThem.

At The Left Coaster, paradox says: "Suffering Democratic liberals can at least take some understanding and solace at the stupefying level of screaming incompetence from their elected representatives in Congress that at last, here is part of the answer to why they insist on being weak failures. It isn't something in the water, political mafioso Addington hit men aren't threatening them at night, Cheney isn't using secret surveillance to blackmail or chill them. Democrats in Congress, no matter what they say, instinctively know in the depths of their scared little souls the American propaganda is rigged against them, so they simply lack the basic bravery to initiate change, they know they'll get clobbered by the television propaganda narrative."

Kudos to Matt Yglesias for his impression of an Iranian Richard Perle: "And, indeed, it's not clear that a policy of appeasement would be wise. True, we've seen rational leadership even from vicious dictators like Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong, but the contemporary United States is led by religious fanatics, which introduces a new element into the equation." Via Big Tent Democrat.

Even being accused of a crime can wreck your life, but imagine trying to recover after actually having been convicted and incarcerated, even though you were released because you'd been exonerated. Jeralyn lists some organizations that are trying to help the innocent, and links to a story in the NYT on how the exonerated fare after release.

Bush and Musharaff in That Darn Dictator! by Mark Fiore.

14:29 GMT

Living with the law

Elle Macpherson Intimates Coranto new underwired braBra of the Week

Feorag has a lovely round-up of this month's child-abusing religious folks.

Jack Balkin, "Does Winning in the Supreme Court Galvanize Social Movements?" If the Supreme Court strikes down DC's gun laws, we might find out whether it takes the wind out of gun-control advocates' sails, or re-energizes them.

Mark Kleiman: "Having worked on the problems of crime control for almost thirty years, I tend to be much more sympathetic to the viewpoints and operational needs of law enforcement agencies than the average of the people I usually agree with politically. But on one point, I find myself utterly unable to understand what my friends in the law enforcement biz could possibly be thinking: why isn't it as obvious to them as it is to me that clearing innocent people is just as important a goal of law enforcement as nailing guilty ones?"

Tom Curley in the WaPo on "Railroading A Journalist In Iraq: At long last, prize-winning Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein may get his day in court. The trouble is, justice won't be blind in this case -- his lawyer will be. Bilal has been imprisoned by the U.S. military in Iraq since he was picked up April 12, 2006, in Ramadi, a violent town in a turbulent province where few Western journalists dared go. The military claimed then that he had suspicious links to insurgents. This week, Editor & Publisher magazine reported the military has amended that to say he is, in fact, a 'terrorist' who had 'infiltrated the AP.'" Of course, nobody in their right mind believes this. Meanwhile, Scott Horton says the Bush administration is Resurrecting the Star Chamber.

Some civil disobedience.

02:44 GMT

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Sweet potatoes &etc.

I overslept and didn't have time to post before the whole turkey thing got started. Gotta do that on the Saturday since nobody got Thursday off, here. So I'm feeling overstuffed. Here are some links while I try and catch up:

Yay! Not only did the Conservatives lose in Australia, but John Howard even lost his seat! And, A Question of Impeachment, and the early bird catches the camera. (Also, I'm completely unsurprised to learn that the candidate I most agree with according to this quiz is Dennis Kucinich.)

Libby Spencer versus Jim Henley on organic farmers versus partisan government.

"French prosecutors throw out Rumsfeld torture case [...] The [Federation of Human Rights Leagues] said it had received a letter from the prosecutors' office ruling that Rumsfeld benefited from a "customary" immunity from prosecution granted to heads of state and government and foreign ministers, even after they left office. It said in a statement it was "astonished at such a mistaken argument" and said customary immunity from prosecution did not exist under international law." Maybe they're afraid Bush will drop a bomb on them if they prosecute Rumsfeld. (via)

At Digby's place: Funny how the head of National Right to Life just hasn't given a thought to criminalizing women who "murder". And high-tech privacy invasion just means more advanced ways to accuse the innocent. Plus, more lucky duckies - easy times for low-income people who lose their homes.

According to Karl Rove, the Democrats forced Bush to invade Iraq against his will.

The WGA Strike: A Love Story (and more here).

How to make the MIT logo in origami, (via).

21:04 GMT

Little shop of horrors

It's not actually a surprise that it's not Iran, but our "allies", who have been the source of most of the foreigners fighting our troops in Iraq. But just to make sure it has a low profile, the NYT waited until Thanksgiving, a low-eyetrack day, to publish that story.

Craig Murray: "I am still in a genuine state of shock and disbelief that we should start shipping asylum seekers back to Uzbekistan, of all places. It is as though the government have gone into official denial of what kind of place Uzbekistan is. I am also astonished that I have been met with complete indifference from everybody - officials, MPs and journalists. I can't get anybody to take an interest." Murray says this is tantamount to a British death penalty. Here's a photo of Jahongir Sidikov, who will probably be tortured to death if he is sent back.

It is an interesting fact about libertarians that they don't think workers should be able to bargain collectively, but they don't mind if corporations gang up together on workers. Via Natasha's post on the writers' strike.

Matt Taibbi on Mike Huckabee, Our Favorite Right-Wing Nut Job in Rolling Stone.

The real nuclear threat.

Jonathan Schwarz discovers the meaning of Thanksgiving, and Bernard Chazelle describes freedom, and presents Tom Lehrer.

Local political gossip at Your Right Hand Thief, and an unsung wordsmith.

The Alice Brock and Officer Obie post.

03:38 GMT

Friday, 23 November 2007

All the news in bits

I just saw Anne Widdicombe on TV, and she was barking. Literally.

Yeah, right, Grover Norquist is really worried about the aristocracy thing. Funny how it didn't used to bother him. (And still doesn't, as cactus notes, where the estate tax is concerned.)

Cursor: "'You believe what the Pentagon says?' asked Rep. Jack Murtha, after colleague David Obey provided a phone number for President Bush to call if he wants the $50 billion in war funding released that passed the House, but is being held up by the Senate."

So, it looks like Matthew Dowd still hasn't backtracked on his earlier criticisms of Bush. Does that mean they didn't bother to bribe or blackmail him? (via)

Image of nude man outrages citizenry. This doesn't seem all that remarkable until you actually see the thing.

The Group Food Blog.

The 'Temples of Damanhur - another wonderful folly based on the vision of one man and completed with the help of his supporters, of nine breath-taking temples built under his house. Lovely photos.

21:31 GMT

More media media

Paul Krugman says in his blog that the 800-word limit made him not explain himself sufficiently in his latest column, so if you need it unpacked, look there. Krugman is apparently a premature anti-Bushist (and has a nice tee-shirt to prove it). He also has a meta-thought on the childishness of our public discourse.

Think Progress reports that Bob Woodward Still Has Never Heard Of The Voter Suppression Tactic 'Caging', an illegal method Republicans have used for forcing people in certain neighborhoods off of the voting rolls. He's not the only WaPo reporter who apparently didn't bother to follow up on Monica Goodling's testimony because he didn't know what it was. These people need to receive your e-mails explaining that what Goodling revealed was a genuine criminal conspiracy to fix the election. (And just like they deliberately didn't pass on motor-voter registrations in some states, they're trying to avoid any new legal immigrants who might want to vote once they become citizens, too.)

Skippy did some eye-witness reporting from the picket lines the other day. Skippy's been a good go-to guy for strike coverage, by the way. (Also, the strike in a nutshell, as explained by former SNL writer Tim Kazurinksy.)

18:59 GMT

My liberal media

Naomi Klein, "Shocked in Death, Shocked in Life: More Than a Taser Story" - Having failed to make it in Poland's libertarian utopia, one man's journey from one form of shock therapy to another charts a terminal path that has been laid out for us all.

Bill Moyers, "My Father and FDR [...] The Depression knocked him off the farm and flat on his back. When I was born he was making two dollars a day working on the highway to Oklahoma City. He never made over $100 a week in the whole of his working life, and he made that only when he joined the union on the last job he held. He voted for Franklin Roosevelt in four straight elections, and he would have gone on voting for him until kingdom come if both had lived that long. I once asked him why, and he said, 'Because the President's my friend.'"

Watch an interview with Robert Parry on the Military Commissions Act, and read his article on the subject from last September, reminding us that, "...the Military Commissions Act creates a parallel legal system not limited to foreigners. The law could put 'any person,' including those 'in breach of an allegiance or duty to the United States' before a military tribunal if the person 'knowingly and intentionally aids an enemy of the United States.' Who has 'an allegiance or duty to the United States' if not an American citizen? That provision would not presumably apply to Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda, nor would it apply generally to foreigners..

"The End of America? Naomi Wolf Thinks It Could Happen" - Don Hazen interviews Wolf at Alternet: "We would be naive given the historical patterns to have hope that there's going to be a transparent, accountable election in 2008. There are various ways the blueprint indicates how events are much more likely to play out. Historically, the months leading up to the national election are likely to be unstable."

"Scott McClellan Didn't Out Bush for High Crimes and Misdemeanors, Cheney Did: [... ] Long forgotten - and barely noticed during the trial - was a document introduced during the case that directly implicates Bush. And the notes on the document that point at Bush as being a co-conspirator were written by Dick Cheney."

Tom Tomorrow on A Different President, A Different Debate. Yeah, I didn't, either.

16:06 GMT

Old world order, recycled

As others have observed, Saletan's latest eruption of racism seems to stop short of the next logical step - policy prescriptions. After all, if blacks are dumber, surely that has implications for whether there is any point to things like Head Start or aid to Africa, or at least the sort of goals they were supposed to be aimed at. The thing is, though, that how we deal with blacks isn't really the point. No, this is part of a larger fabric that holds that failure in general is genetic, and therefore no one - not predators and thieves, not slavery, not institutionalized discrimination, and not society as a whole - has any responsibility for what has happened nor any responsibility to change things. It's just what is, what always will be. It's rationalized Calvinism. Either God or Science has decreed that some people are just natural failures, doomed to poverty and dysfunction, and nothing can or should be done about it.

On the other hand, there's Henry Louis Gates in the NYT pointing out that this might all have been moot had ex-slaves really received that Forty acres and a mule, since acquisition of land seems to have made such an enormous difference to the future of black families. And, now that you mention it, it had a certain impact on white families, as well. And here we are today in a world where our governors have been engaged in a rather successful program to relieve middle-class families of what real property they hold. Between the bankruptcy bill and phonied-up mortgages, we're in for a real fine ride. Now, if they can just kill Social Security....

Musical interlude: The Condom Song, (via).

13:41 GMT

Don't the moon look good, mama

It happens like this: The Republicans do repulsive things, the Democrats don't stop them - or act in concert with them - and a lot of people who are left of center start advocating their clever plan to teach the Democrats a lesson. The clever plan is to either support third-party candidates who haven't got a prayer (throw your vote away) or don't vote. And just enough people throw up their hands in disgust, walk away, and allow even farther-right Republicans to win the next election - after which the remaining pundits and conservative Democrats all get together with the Republicans to assure us that we are a conservative country, conservatism is on the ascendency, and once again America has repudiated those disgusting lefties - and god damn those lefties anyway for alienating the country from the Democratic Party. I've watched this cycle through a couple of times, now, and as much as I can understand the appeal of just walking away from it all, I know it doesn't work. It's not a constructive suggestion. It wasn't forty years ago and today it is a suicidal one. Assuming there is going to be an election in 2008, making primary challenges where possible, electing real progressives at every level (doesn't matter what party - if they are progressives and they can win, then help them win; let a hundred Bernie Sanderses bloom), has to be a priority.

Their "privacy policy" is a no-privacy policy.

Joe Wilson and Keith Olbermann discuss the revelation from Scott McClellan, and old man Chomsky talks about Iran.

In an update to his post on Joe Klein and FISA, Glenn Greenwald points to Ryan Singel's article at wired, "Time's Columnist Joe Klein Butchers Wiretapping Debate."

Sam Seder talked about one of my hobbyhorses, healthcare, during his stint sitting in Wednesday for Randi Rhodes. (And thanks for the name-check, Sammy!) He also explained how that wild liberal loony Alan Greenspan made tax cuts for the rich "help" the economy. If you missed the show or want to hear it again, you can listen to this - and please don't hesitate to leave a tip if you can spare it.

Steve Earle, live at the Cold Creek Correctional Facility, "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry."

02:02 GMT

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

It's just an ordinary work-day over here, so I'll be posting according to my regular schedule.

Well, Hillary Clinton has picked up the ultimate endorsement, from Mr. and Mrs. George Walker Bush. America's turkey said: "There is no question that Sen. Clinton understands pressure better than any of the candidates, you know, in the race." Jane Hamsher wonders: "Does Bush really want Hillary to be the Democratic nominee because he thinks she'll be easier to beat than Obama or Edwards? Or does he realize he's got a virulent case of political cooties and his endorsement is the kiss of death, and he's trying to take her down a few more points in Iowa? Perhaps he thinks she's the Democratic candidate least likely to undo his 'legacy' in the Middle East (because history is gonna vindicate him, you know). Or maybe he thinks the wholesale return of the media obsession with her underwear drawer will take the heat off his little 'Iraq' problem and he just wants to give her a leg up into the headlines. The whole thing makes my head hurt."

Tim Grieve at the Salon War Room says: "As Chris Dodd said Tuesday, McClellan's allegations -- as vague as they are -- raise 'several important questions that need to be answered. If in fact the President of the United of States knowingly instructed his chief spokesman to mislead the American people, there can be no more fundamental betrayal of the public trust.' Dodd is calling on Mukasey to launch an 'immediate investigation' into McClellan's claims to 'determine the facts of this case, the extent of any cover up and determine what the president knew and when he knew it.'" No one is holding their breath for this to happen.

Remembered: "John F. Kennedy was the last president in memory who was still learning while in office. He admitted mistakes and profited from them. Despite misgivings, he went ahead with the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba after being told Americans would be greeted as liberators and withdrew when he realized he had been misled, accepting 'sole responsibility' for the fiasco. As the world teetered on the brink of nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis, he put that lesson to use by overruling 'experts' who wanted to bomb or invade Cuba and trusting his own instincts to avoid disaster."

I haven't actually watched Zeitgeist yet, but I expect I'll have to just to know what some people are talking about.

14:25 GMT

More analysis

Jesurgislac responds in comments to Molly's point below:

The Bush administration's plans were to sell off every single one of Iraq's nationally-owned industries (except the oil) to the highest bidder, no restriction on nationality. This plan was made explicit back in 2003, shortly after invasion, but hasn't been talked about much since, simply because it never happened.

This is a mistake, because the plan by itself would have been enough to wreck any hope of successful occupation.

All the Iraqis who worked for nationally-owned industries - I used to have the exact figures, but it was a very large proportion of the employed population - knew, presumably about the time it hit the Internet, that their new American overlords planned to sell off their business, and that odds were it wouldn't be bought by Iraqis. They reacted about the way you'd expect people to react when they know their employer is about to be Under New Management and they have no idea who will be paying their wages (or if their wages will be paid at all): they stopped working.

Of course, for the US occupation to sell off nationally-owned businesses would have been straightforwardly illegal. This clearly never worried Bush & co, until it became clear that the corporations that Bush & Co had figured would pay up to own Iraqi industry, were unwilling to do so when the sale could and would be legally challenged, and the buyer would receive no compensation. (If you buy something from someone who stole it, and the rightful owner claims it back, you get no compensation unless you can get it from the thief - certainly not if you buy it knowing it was stolen.)

Hence the "interim government" - it seems Bush & Co hoped that would make the sale legal. But as the interim government was not elected by Iraqis, it too could not sell off Iraqi industries legally, which meant big multinationals were still unwilling to buy.

And by the time Bush & Co accepted that, they were into the campaigning period for the 2004 election, they could not afford to let Iraqis elect their own government in case the results were bad election mojo for Bush, and... so Iraqi elections weren't going to happen till 2005, and by that time Iraq was in such a state that no sensible multinational would have invested money in its industries anyway.

The money Bush & Co planned to get from selling off Iraqi industries was apparently to go to pay for the "reconstruction of Iraq" - this was part of the argument that it wouldn't cost the US very much because the Iraqis would pay for it themselves.

Just because the sale never happened is not a good reason not to talk about it. I do not believe that no one advised Bush & Co that for the invader to sell off industries of a conquered country is illegal: I think Bush & Co just assumed they could get away with it. That intention to commit a criminal act was foiled only by the reluctance of large corporations to invest in it.

12:30 GMT

All tomorrow's parties

This morning I was thinking that one of the things I wanted to post today was a link to the first thing that made me pay attention to Salon, the series from Gene Lyons and Joe Conason that was published the following year as The Hunting of the President. It was the first place I heard of either one of them, and for a long time their columns in their respective newspapers were on a very short list of things we liberal bloggers could link to routinely with approval rather than disgust. It was published in four parts, "Temps for the vast right-wing conspiracy", "Nabbing David Hale", "Impeachment's little elves", and "Smearing Hillary". I was originally planning to link them because I wanted to remind you that this is a great source for the origins and the facts of nearly every smear you ever heard about the Clintons and Whitewater/Lewinsky. (Gene also later published Fools for Scandal: How the Media Invented Whitewater, and there's also this.) But that was before I went over to Digby's place and saw this item linking Gene Lyons' latest piece, proving it's a mutual admiration society, "Blogosphere not as radical as pundits think."

Before I saw that, I wrote this: I think I've mentioned before how horrific I find it that we're trying kids as adults and even sentencing them as adults - to adult prisons. It becomes even more ludicrous when we claim that people who we say are too young to make a decision to consent to sex can nevertheless be held fully responsible for rape and an act of statutory rape. Digby reports on this - and on the fact that the authorities are feeling more free than ever to abuse adults, too.

It is rather odd that the NYT had only a news wire reports and no original stories on the McClellan revelation.

If I'm reading Eric Alterman correctly, he's saying that Adlai Stevenson wasn't much different from Ike on issues, but he was a snob. (Also, nice slap at Martin Peretz, who deserves it.) And here, some praise for good journalism.

Who better to vouch for the credibility of Robert Novak than Dick Morris?

And Why does Fox News hate our troops?

David E. Gumpert at The Nation, "Old McDonald Had a Farm...and He Got Arrested?" You know how the administration can't be bothered with enforcing regulations? Well, there's apparently a special exception for organic farmers.

02:59 GMT

Wednesday, 21 November 2007


In comments, Molly, NYC says:

Look, Green Zone civilian employees weren't only required to be ideologues. They had to be incompetent too. It wasn't an accidental byproduct.

In a war largely created to be a conduit between the US Treasury and whatever GOP palm-greasers wanted to belly up to the trough, can you imagine how much havoc a real CPA would have created, someone who was used to doing things by the GAAP? Or an experienced grown-up engineer who'd managed a few projects in his day and truly wanted, and knew how, to get the water supply up and working, on time and under budget? The ass/elbow incognition of these hires was mission-critical.

23:15 GMT

Media and media

I don't know if Joe Klein is deliberately lying or just stupid, but Glenn suggests it's both: "For the sake of its own credibility, Time Magazine needs immediately to prohibit Joe Klein from uttering another word about the eavesdropping and FISA controversy. He simply doesn't know what he's talking about and he publishes demonstrably false statements."

On Countdown, Olbermann and Shuster on Scotty's revelation, and Keith talks to John Dean about Broken Government. Also, Keith on supporting the troops. (Plus! Murtha and Obey stand up.)

Bill Scher says that it's a break for everybody not named Clinton that Hillary showed up below first place in a recent Iowa poll. (Also, Bill's guest on his weekend show was Sam Seder.)

Roger Ailes: "And, yes, I'm saying MoDo is a racist. Just because she's a half-wit and tries to couch her vile views in some pathetic sexual metaphor doesn't mean she's not a bigot."

Still looking for Ken Lay's ill-gotten gains.

Don't you find it odd that the minute the corporatists take over, all the confidential data on everyone starts getting accidentally lost or deleted or sent to all the people who shouldn't have it? Discs, e-mails, everything. Files that should never be moved just happen to be taken out of offices and left in a park, private records get sent out in e-mail, etc. It's just... weird.

19:45 GMT

Why can't I find cranberry jelly at Tesco's anymore?

Alert: Sam Seder is sitting in for Randi Rhodes on today's show.

"When There's No "There" There" - A blogger castigates herself for passing on a story without checking it, and congratulates the local press for having done a better job. She is making a good apology for poor performance; still waiting for Jeff Gerth and his pals to do the same.

The TimesSelect Reader: "Two years ago, and ten years into its web era, the New York Times introduced TimesSelect as a value-added service for its 2 million subscribers; ultimately 227,000 subscribers paid a fifth of what either Sunday or Mon-Sat subscribers were paying. The values included access to 100 articles a month from the archives, as well as access to its popular columnists, no longer free to the casual Internet reader. The service was much derided by bloggers, who had felt that the attaching of a fee to previously free material was heresy, or bad for business, or both. The service ended last week after a two-year run." And this is a study of what it was good for. (via)

Ken Camp says "Bill Richardson Was Right: Human Rights Trumps National Security." Avedon Carol says our Constitution and our rights are our national security.

Okay, if Obama has started citing Jeff Gerth, he's definitely playing for the wrong team. I was ready to be happy about an Edwards/Obama ticket, but now I'm worried that as soon as they're sworn in the wingers would shoot Edwards just to get Obama into the White House.

I'm not sure whether I liked this post more for the Al Hunt riposte to Robert Novak on the estate tax ("Bob, thereís only two differences between you and Warren Buffett: $40 billion and a conscience.") or Kermit's Talking Heads bit, but I will say that if John Clute had a blog, it would probably rate at least a Master's Degree but be far less fun to read.

16:00 GMT

One step forward, two steps back

King's Arms fireplaceIn the wake of Scott McClellan's sudden admission that the people at the very top of our "government" made him tell lies about their criminal conduct, Chris Dodd has called on Attorney General Mukasey to begin an investigation. Todd Beeton says: "Good for Senator Dodd. While my knee-jerk assumption is that Mukasey will prove to be no better than Gonzales when it comes to challenging this president's powers, I like that Dodd is issuing a direct challenge to him. And if the outrage with which Chris Matthews covered McClellan's revelation today on Hardball is any indication, Scotty's book could very well serve as a tipping point among the media if not the American people when it comes to demanding some actual accountability of this administration." That'd be nice. (Also: Mitch McConnell's disapproval rating is now higher than his approval rating - well deserved - and the plan to paint Louisiana white doesn't seem to have turned the state red.)

Given the fact that this is an administration that made wounded troops pay for their food when they were hospitalized, I don't guess anyone's too surprised to know that they try to demand the money for signing bonuses back from them, too. (On the other hand, it's nice to know that Condi rescinded her order drafting State Department personnel to go to Iraq, claiming they've suddenly found volunteers. Uh huh. Probably blackmailed 'em.)

How is it that a bunch of Jewish guys became so powerful and influenced the country toward policies that present a real existential threat to Israel? I don't get it. (Plus, a bit of one-way tolerance.)

The trouble with libertarians

Democracy Now! Deception: British Reporter Adrian Levy on How the United States Secretly Helped Pakistan Build Its Nuclear Arsenal: "AMY GOODMAN: Adrian Levy, what about the United States firing intelligence agents who were uncovering Washington's complicity, purging government departments charged with tracking nuclear proliferation and tipping off the Pakistan government about probes into its illicit program?" (Thanks to Charles for the tip.)

Where are all the female political bloggers?

Today in bras: The Spice Girls.

12:51 GMT


One of the most frightening and disheartening facts about the last seven years is the silence from the press about the incredible abuse real journalists have suffered at the hands of the conservative machine and its agents, at home and abroad. While writers and photographers have been thrown in jail for no logical reason, or shot in their hotels in Iraq, or kidnapped and held indefinitely by our government without legitimate cause, the only journalist to get any sympathy from the news media was Judith Miller, who helped to sell devastating lies to the American public and was jailed only when she refused to testify as a witness to a crime.

Am I reading this right? Did my "progressive" Congressman actually vote for the Peru trade agreement?

Barbara O'Brien on womb Nazis: "Libertarians will disagree, but I say the essential difference between liberals and libertarians is that the latter define oppression as something only the federal government can do. If state governments violate the rights of its citizens and treat women and minorities like chattel, thatís OK with them. Liberals, on the other hand, think oppression is wrong no matter who or what is doing the oppressing. We think, for example, that if a state is denying its African American citizens equal treatment under the law, itís a legitimate use of federal power to force the state to stop the oppression. Libertarians generally disagree, and would rather allow states to discriminate than concede any part of state sovereignty to Washington or federal courts."

Larkspur in comments:

One of the saddest things I read in "Imperial Life In The Emerald City" by Rajiv Chandrasekaran was about how, early in the occupation, some Iraqi civil servants prepared to meet with a CPA functionary, assuming and hoping they were gonna talk about repairing the city's water supply system (I think it was the water supply, I got the book from the library and don't have a copy here). What they didn't know, of course, was that the CPA person would be an inexperienced Young Republican who'd be rotating out in a few months, and that anyway, there was never any real plan to rebuild. But those Iraqi civil servants showed up for the meeting, dressed in suits, with their briefcases. They hoped. They meant to get on with it. They had no idea how thoroughly bankrupt the US administration was, in terms of morality, intention, just about anything but quick bucks for fake work by crony corporations.

Those Iraqis were taking such a chance, and they were doing it not because we were so unambiguously trustworthy, but because they cared about their country, and they hoped.

Instead, they got this.

03:03 GMT

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Brownies and blueberries

I read stuff like "John Edwards and the democratic Wing of the Democratic Party" and I want to vote for Edwards right this minute. Admittedly, every campaign has something that makes you think, "Yes!" - but then, most of 'em have something that makes you recoil in horror, too. However, Edwards has been pretty good on my hobbyhorses. Like this: "In May, I - like thousands of citizens - wrote a letter to the FCC urging them to guarantee net neutrality. I believe that if we do not guarantee net neutrality, the Internet could go the way of network television and commercial radio - with just a few loud corporate voices and no room for the grassroots and small entrepreneurs. Our country is already divided enough between the haves and have-nots. Where we go to school, where (and if) we get health care, whether we can retire with dignity - we have big divides in all of these areas in this country. While we work to create One America, we should not allow the Internet to be divided or corporate censorship to take root. That would make the other important work we have to do that much harder." But then, what about the candidate Larry Flynt calls "essential, viable and exciting"?

In comments, Dwight Meredith reports on the editorial from the latest issue of The Bridge World, which says of the great tempest in the teapot, "We interpret the message not as an aggressive political statement but as a defensive personal disclaimer, one aimed at deflecting any thoughts that the individuals involved might bear responsibility for actions that have made America a bete noire on the world stage." Yes. I routinely make sure that anyone I meet over here knows what I think of Bush - because it's hard to make friends if they think you're someone who supports torture and mass murder and stuff like that.

Auntie Beeb catches on that the US prison system is a 'costly failure': "The US prison population has risen eight-fold since 1970, with little impact on crime but at great cost to the taxpayer, researchers say." Hey, it's now a full partner in the security state.

Rhetoric Versus Reality: Tom Davis Edition, and Counterinsurgency 101.

Okay, here's the M&S ad, "Christmas Belles" - tell me which movies you recognize.

23:00 GMT

Death of a thousand cuts

Tom Engelhardt on America's water war: "Georgia's on my mind. Atlanta, Ga. It's a city in trouble in a state in trouble in a region in trouble. Water trouble. [...] Here's a little summary of the situation today: 'Water rationing has hit the capital. Car washing and lawn watering are prohibited within city limits. Harvests in the region have dropped by 15-30%. By the end of summer, local reservoirs and dams were holding 5% of their capacity.'"

David Bacon in the SFC on how the Dem leadership is at it again: "What a vote for free trade means for the U.S. [...] Those freshmen members of Congress have a better grasp on global reality than their party leaders, who are enthralled by the siren song of big contributions from corporate free traders. But those newly elected Democrats will have a hard time going back to their districts and explaining to constituents why their party allowed the treaty to pass. Party strategists think Democrats can accept big contributions to support the Bush free trade program. They calculate that unions, workers, displaced immigrants and those hurt by the treaties have nowhere else to go in 2008. They're wrong. They could stay home - the Democrats certainly won't be giving them much reason to get out and vote." (Thanks to ron for the tip.)

Digby has a good rant about how Chris Matthews is treating Robert No-Facts as a reliable source about something he is unlikely to know, and also spreading more lies about Al Gore again: "Mission Accomplished."

Man, don't you feel proud that we got purple-thumbed Iraqis the right to vote and sovereignty over their own country?

"I don't want my kids to watch me slaughtered like a useless sheep" - All those Iraqis who once helped the coalition forces by doing necessary things like acting as translators are feeling pretty used right now; helping the US and Britain turns out to have been much like throwing their lives away. (Thanks to Yonmei for the tip.) Then again, it's not like we treat our own all that well. (via)

19:29 GMT

This one's for you, Elvis

Jane Smiley, "Why Human Rights are More Important than National Security" - I have some quibbles, here. One is that I think, to the greatest extent, our civil rights are fundamental to our national security - it's not an either/or kinda thing. The other is that she seems to forget that, if one reads our founding documents and the writings of the founders, it's fairly clear that the rights discussed therein are not just for citizens, but are something all people are born with, and it's the job of government to protect them - it can't grant them, because you already have them. This may be controversial with Republicans, but not with republicans.

The writers want you to send pencils to media moguls as a symbolic gesture. (The pencils are made from sustainably-harvested wood by an environmentally sensitive stationer, they say.)

I may have previously mentioned how shocked I was, after a decade of being mostly cut off from American political discourse, to suddenly get onto the internet and discover that Daniel Patrick Moynihan, of all people, was being hailed as a great defender of liberalism. This guy? Really? Talk about defining deviancy down!

God guests on Larry King - and S/He's pissed.

None of this is new.

Warning! "David from the Art of Mental Warfare teamed up with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails to present 'Warning.' The project takes on the covert interests behind the war and our media saturated society. From war crimes to the destruction of the environment and a celebrity-obsessed culture, 'The Warning' is a clarion call to action for an apathetic nation.'" I thought it was powerful (and covered a lot of bases). (via)

27-percenters hear you call for the impeachment of Cheney and they call you a commie. (via)

12:20 GMT

From the notebook

I know you'll find this hard to believe, but Rudy Giuliani is finally willing to admit that he was a hero on 9/11. Yes, I know, it's touching that he's at last willing to talk about it. Gosh, no wonder the WaPo seems to be supporting him.

Robert Parry on Bush's Clever Cognitive Dissonance, and the degree to which his words are so often the opposite of his actions.

Duncan Black: "The Democratic primary campaign is being portrayed as a contest between Democrats. The Republican primary campaign is being portrayed as a contest against Democrats."

Dave Neiwert on proponents of the war on women: "You know, I just hate it when these guys make satire obsolete." (And Sara on the Baptist Church's dirty little secret.)

Dianne Feinstein, Republican go-to girl.

You can see why Republicans prefer private charity: "During my tenure in Hartford, I often wondered what would happen if the collective energy that went into soliciting and distributing food were put into ending hunger and poverty instead. Surely it would have a sizable impact if 3,000 Hartford-area volunteers, led by some of Connecticut's most privileged and respected citizens, showed up one day at the state legislature, demanding enough resources to end hunger and poverty."

Consumers Union has a new video on toy safety. (via)

The General wrote a letter to another crackpot, and he fell for it - necessitating, of course, another letter.

00:30 GMT

Monday, 19 November 2007

Assorted horrors

Bang your head against the wall: Atrios alerts us that the stupid "Blacks are dumber than whites" story has reared its ugly head again, and Robert Farley reminds us that the people who carry it, such as William Saletan, are dumber than any black person I have ever met in my life. Really, if Lord Saletan wants to come out as a racist, I guess that's his right as a contributor to Slate, but he can't convince me that he has a clue what he's talking about. (Do you think someone should tell him that the tests originally showed women to be "smarter" than men - despite the fact that women's brains are smaller - so they just changed the tests so men wouldn't look dumber?)

Allow Jonathan Schwarz to explain for you The Problem With Friendly Dictators and Amir Taheri's ability to just make stuff up. And then Bernard Chazelle can explain what Bush's handling of his favorite friendly dictator in Pakistan has done for "the mission". (Also: Hillary Clinton says exactly the right thing about Social Security.)

French Worker Rebellion - Sarkozy's attempt to "modernize" is meeting resistance from the French. If they're lucky, they'll stop him in his tracks. They only need to look at Thatcher's record to know why. (For that matter, they only need to pay attention to the fact that they have a pretty good economy and get more from it than Americans do from ours.) (via)

From the White Rose Society archives, the lost episode of The Mike Malloy Show for April 21st, 2003 (.mp3) - "The day the disastrous Iraq War started. With audio of the bombing of Baghdad." (As always, do feel free to support White Rose.)

21:32 GMT

What they're saying

"Setback for wiretapping plaintiffs bodes well for EFF class action," because "the three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit took a dim view of the government's broader claim that the very existence of the so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program was a state secret."

Johann Hari reviews Chait: "In the mid-1970s, a group of men who were untrained in economics - and, as it happens, borderline-insane - emerged in Washington DC and invented a whole new approach to economics. In the past, it had been thought that if you wanted to cut taxes, you had to ploddingly pay for it by either cutting spending or increasing borrowing. No more. This new group preached something called 'supply-side economics', which claimed that you could cut taxes, and increase public spending, and hold down borrowing and inflation, all at the same time. Itís easy, they said: if you cut taxes, the economy will grow even faster - and make up the difference!"

"Oil Bucks" considered at The Next Hurrah: "I'm a determined skeptic about broadcast "accidents." But for the life of me, I can't understand the precise goal of allowing a discussion about not discussing the falling dollar at the OPEC summit to be caught on tape."

Taegan Goddard: "Despite a slew of recent polls findings Americans unhappy with Congress, a new USA Today/Gallup poll finds that the majority of Americans still hold a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party. 54% of respondents viewed Democrats favorably with only 37% holding an unfavorable opinion of the party. The Republicans faired far worse, receiving a favorable opinion from only 40% of Americans while being viewed negatively by half."

RIAA told to show cause why .edu subpoenas shouldn't be quashed: "Doe three's argument followed a ruling in Interscope v. Does 1-7, a case brought against seven students at the College of William and Mary. The judge in that case told the RIAA that the CCPA wasn't applicable, and that the only avenue available to it was the DMCA. One problem: the RIAA never issued any takedown notices, which are required by the DMCA before a lawsuit can be filed. And it looks like there's no way a DMCA notice could be issued in a campus file-sharing case. Only entities that host, cache, or transmit infringing content can be served with DMCA takedown notices, and GWU did none of the above. As a result, Doe three argues, the RIAA should be unable to obtain the subpoenas at all."

14:36 GMT

Last night's links

Thomas Nephew says that, judging from what some pretty smart people are writing and saying, the Just Following Orders defense may win the day for the administration.

Demosthenes suggests that blogging isn't quite what it was since the days when anonymity was more respectable.

I hadn't really thought about men who look like lesbians, but The Poor Man Institute is always an education.

Fred Clark reports on what Warren Buffett said to Congress about the estate tax, and has some fun speculating on what the current ladder of estate tax law could generate in comedy movies.

I hope it's true that it will only take a generation to get over the whole crack-cocaine insanity. I'm not so sure that this applies to 9/11, though - nor in which direction. (And my blog's reading level was, unsurprisingly, much the same. It seems to be going around. Then again, there are the SWATs. But we all get to look down on Instapundit.)

Yeah, I often get the feeling that too many people regard the phrase "War is Hell" as hyperbole.

Nobody's hands are clean...even Canada's.

Bill Moyers' show took another look at one of the most dangerous men in America - Kevin Martin, head of the FCC, who ran a charade of public consultation before ignoring the public's input. (via)

Best of the Left has posted a round-up of what progressives had to say on radio and television when Dennis Kucinich introduced his articles of impeachment. Includes Randi Rhodes' show which aired while she was simultaneously watching the vote live on C-SPAN and relaying it to her audience. Also, Mike Malloy, Rachel Maddow, and The Young Turks on their own shows, Rachel with Olbermann on Countdown, Kucinich vs. Tucker Carlson, and the Real News Network Round-up.

11:58 GMT

Shakin' all over

We watched The Omid Djalili Show and found it amusing. I particularly liked the part where he compared western media treating Abu Hamza as a spokesman for Muslims to Al Jazeera using the head of the Ku Klux Klan as a spokesman for Christianity. But then I realized that they might as well, since American television uses Bill Donohue to represent Catholics, which is pretty similar, when you think about it.

Enough Fear - If the administration won't talk to Iranians, then we have to. (With photos.)

They took it off the table, so The Culture Project put it on the stage.

In the War on Tourism, Flight-Suit Boy announces that he'll make things easier for the holidays by opening up military airspace. Thing is, they already do that, and anyway, it doesn't make much difference, because the problem with congestion is the number of planes and length of runway space they need, not the airspace. Via PNH. (This is actually good news, because normally when he announces he's going to do something for us, he's doing something rotten to us. Doing nothing is actually an improvement.)

Mark Adams decodes Rove's first Newsweak column, and praises Kos' new column about the failure of conservative polices.

Grey Matter thinks there's an interesting dynamic in the way the service and the Republicans are reacting - or rather, not really reacting - to the fact that Army desertion rates are up 80% since 2003. Me, I keep wondering if breaking the US military isn't all part of the plan....

It seems terrorism is okay if it's in aid of corporations - oh, but we already knew that. (Ah, I see the names of David Sentelle and Laurence Silberman crop up again here, too.)

In religious news, academe has been touched by His Noodly Appendage.

Video editing.

00:25 GMT

Sunday, 18 November 2007

No controlling authority

Thers has 200 reasons to defeat conservatives: "The Federalist Society, of course, as the article notes, is an organization dedicated to the principle of 'strict constructionism,' a rigorous legal doctrine of constitutional interpretation that emphasizes how women and gays don't deserve equal rights and how you shouldn't be able to buy dildoes in Alabama - even if you were planning to use them solely in the ways that Jesus taught His Disciples. ('Do unto others as you would have others do unto you: with plenty of lube.') Furthermore, by a remarkable coincidence, it turns out that if you squint hard enough and bend your neck behind your calves so you're gazing upwards and cheekwards, the Constitution says exactly what the Bush administration says it means. Also it has been discovered that the Constitution was written on Hoover Institution letterhead. Who knew."

"The Rule Of Law, If We Can Keep It: The Bush Administration has not been bargaining in good faith on the FISA bill, they are asking Congress to rubber stamp actions that were illegal and in contravention of the FISA laws as they existed at the time those actions were taken. And they are asking Congress to do so by trusting an Administration which has failed to adequately comply with discovery requests, has had contempt for Congressional subpoenas, has either been dismissive and contemptuous or utterly stonewalled Congressional attempts at oversight of national security matters based on a flimsy theory of unilateral executive fiat." And that's the only reason you need to impeach them right there: They recognize no law, no tradition, and no authority above themselves. They must be removed. It's the only thing that can restrain them, since no legislative act will do so.

I'm not generally a Bugliosi fan, but if you haven't read The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President, you probably should. And give it to lots of people for Christmas. It was published right after the Selection, but Bugliosi says that it's the first time the release of one of his books has not garnered lots of invitations to talk shows for him to do his promo-round. Pretty amazing when you consider how timely it was and the magnitude of its subject.

13:55 GMT

Send in the clowns

Fantasie Mariette balconette bra for larger cupsBra of the Week

So, who's getting in line to welcome Ratzinger with Signorale? Sounds like a fun day out.

I'm always interested in the fact that the people who pound their chests the most theatrically about how they're Defenders of Americhristianity seem to know jack about Christianity (or much else). Like Bill O'Reilly, who thinks the Revelation is 5,000 years old. Of course, he had earlier distinguished himself as a good Catholic by not knowing that the Pope is a Primate.

The good news is that it appears the Morton students will not be expelled. The bad news is that we could be watching the last gasps of free speech in America.

Of course, as long as we are in for it anyway, there's a lot to be said for Robot Overlords. (John: But it's completely ... uncaring All people will be punished equally regardless of circumstance! Tyrone: I'm sorry, did you forget I was black?)

Barbara O'Brien recommends a piece that reminds you of the difference between "normal" and the sociopaths who are running the show.

Glenn Greenwald turns to Rudy's invitation to speak to the Federalist Society and his paranoid messianic extremism, having already examined both his and Mitt Romney's bravery in wartime: "Romney's draft-avoidance isn't quite as shameful as Super Tough Guy Rudy Giuliani's, whose deferment request was denied in 1969, thus placing him at imminent risk of being drafted, when he somehow convinced the federal judge for whom he was clerking "to write to the draft board, asking them to grant him a fresh deferment and reclassification as an 'essential' civilian employee." The very idea that a first-year judicial clerk, just out law school, is "essential" for anything is absurd on its face. Yet the swaggering tough guy Rudy Giuliani used that blatant lie to ensure that someone other than himself was sent to fight in Vietnam."

I can't help but find it icky that they let Joe Klein write a review of a book about Hunter S. Thompson.

I don't suppose it's worth explaining that various versions of this gag have been cropping up at least as long as I have been alive, and, as you know, Bob, there's more to the theater than repetition - but not much.

01:52 GMT

Saturday, 17 November 2007

More uses for chocolate

If Peter Baker had said Bush won the election, it'd be easy to argue, but Lambert could be wrong in disputing that Bush beat Gore in 2000. Bush managed to claw his way into the White House and keep Gore out, regardless of how he did it. In so doing, he also beat democracy and America.

Arthur Silber is not exactly impressed with Newsweak's new contributor.

CBS seems to be implying that Dan Rather is losing it. A likely story....

Eliot Spitzer Shock Horror! It's... gay marriage!

Look, don't give them any ideas, OK? (Yeah, I know, I'm sure they've already had them.)

Your Creation Museum Report - Yes, John Scalzi actually went there. He has pictures, too. Via Linkmeister. (And, man, I'm glad I never had to work this tightly packed. Nice trees, though.)

More ladies' undergarments displayed in video. (I did like that last one.) Thanks to Joe Vecchio for the tip.

20:45 GMT

The wild, wild web

At Think Progress, Tony Blair says he wanted war (I guess he's trying to say he was not Bush's poodle), because it was the right thing. I think his real reason was that he had visions of Maggie Thatcher's spike in approval after she had her own war. Meanwhile, a British general says that the presence of foreign troops caused the violence in Iraq, and that there has been a significant drop in violence in Basra since troops pulled out. And the number one reason why Reid decided not to recess? Because Bush was already planning to give a recess appointment to crackpot homophobe James Holsinger to be Surgeon General. Plus: Watch Paul Krugman explain why you should be grateful for the progressive blogosphere.

Greg Sargent says the editor of Newsweek still thinks it's good journalism to be criticized by both sides.

"Why Nobody Takes Media Research Center Seriously But Drooling Monkeys, Part 2", from Oliver Willis, who, as you know, has been linked with Jessica Alba.

Swift-boat liars don't just lie, they also cheat, Steve Benen tells us: "The right, apparently, is still a little sensitive about this generally-accepted phrase entering the political lexicon. [...] So, they're pushing back, suggesting that the swift-boat liars weren't lying after all. Last week, Rush Limbaugh insisted that the 2004 propaganda was "right on the money, and nobody has disproven anything they claimed in any of their ads." This week, Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens, a major contributor to the swift-boat liars, offered $1 million to anyone who could disprove any of the groupís 2004 claims. Yesterday, Kerry gladly accepted the challenge." So, of course, he's reneging, moving the goal-posts, demanding a great deal more than just a response to his challenge, etc. Wot. A. Sur. Prise. And Kevin Hayden notices something odd about Pickens' campaign giving, as well.

Courts ignore Constitution again in refusing to hear a warrantless wiretap case on grounds of our nonexistent state's secrets act and pretend inability to judge a case while keeping sensitive material confidential.

From Is That Legal?: "In 1926, the Mississippi Supreme Court called the water cure torture. No qualifiers. No hedging. Just plain, good ol' fashion torture . . . and therefore a forbidden means for securing a confession. These men were hardly a group I'd call *activist* or *liberal* and certainly not bent on subverting our country in the name of coddling criminals." (via)

US Election 2004 results listed by average IQ by state.

18:46 GMT

What would Brian Boitano do?

The Washington Post reports that Petreaus is being called back to Washington to help choose generals for the new imperial army. Ann Scott Tyson tries to make it sound perfectly reasonable, but it still doesn't,

Nick Juliano at The Raw Story reports on an alleged shift of affluent voters away from the GOP, based on a piece about Colorado in the WSJ. Business people have decided that investing in infrastructure and creating equality of opportunity might actually not be a bad idea, leaving the GOP with people like this: Angela Williams, a city bus driver whose route passes Kelley's Denver office building, earns $39,000 a year, but she tells Harwood that social issues and tax cuts are her primary issues. "I'm pro-life," she declares to Harwood. "Basically, that's why I'm Republican." Williams, who lives in a working class neighborhood also agrees with GOP attacks on Democrats' economic policies. "Democrats are all for social programs which raise my taxes," Williams says. "I'm not working to pay for people to sit at home watching cable all day." No, you're just voting for their jobs to be moved to China and your taxes to be raised to pay for endless war.

Clarence Thomas gave a speech to the Federalist Society the other day, and he still has one thing on his mind - what Dana Milbank calls post-Anita-Hill stress disorder.

Like her or hate her, one thing you can say about Hillary Clinton's candidacy is that it's exposed a rich vein of misogyny, and made it seem, increasingly, acceptable. (And good catch on that picture. It took me a while to make my brain recognize those faces.)

I can't imagine how Lance could have forgotten that Gore Vidal was on that Cavett segment with Mailer. It was the first thing I thought of when I heard Mailer had died - that moment when Vidal was saying something and Mailer interrupting to say something like, "All right, Gore, we all know I stabbed my wife." (However, it's true - I have never since then been able to hear the phrase "where the moon don't shine" without remembering how sharp and incongruous and funny it sounded coming out of Cavett's mouth.) Ah, I see my memory is close, but inexact. (Man, I really miss that show, it's the only talk show I routinely watched on purpose.)

Force majeure means that actors are now being hit by the writers' strike, and the cast of The Office and 30 Rock have been suspended on half pay by the studio, while Sony put its actors on unpaid hiatus, which prevents them from taking work elsewhere while they await the end of the strike. If the strike goes on, it could trigger the termination clause in actors' contracts because outside circumstances prevent filming.

15:42 GMT

Up too late

BooMan explains that all Feinstein is doing with FISA is a bunch of political maneuvering intended to slip telecoms immunity in through a side door. And Sheldon Whitehouse is in on it, too. (Thanks to lea-p for the tip.)

Glenn Greenwald marvels at the apparent self-satire of the speech delivered to the Federalist Society, in which Bush praises the wisdom of the Founders in designing-in separation of powers to protect against tyranny, and claims to take the oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution seriously.

Bill Scher isn't impressed with the way Clinton and Edwards have been handling the issue of Pakistan, though he says Obama is better on the subject.

John McKay, one of the fired US Attorneys, says Gonzales has some 'splainin' to do about the firing of David Iglesias - in front of a grand jury.

"The Road Less Taken" - Kos wonders in his first piece for Newsweak whether the Democrats can stand up this time.

You know how your hair collects oil? Well, it really does.

Five-minute Doctor Who episode: We thought it was sweet. Go here to see Time Crash and the Confidential that goes with it.

More pretty pictures of Thailand.

03:51 GMT

Friday, 16 November 2007

Doing the People's work

Christy Hardin Smith discusses The Next Stage Of The FISA Battle and says it's time to make those calls - she has the info. Jane Hamsher has Harry Reid's statement on why he is not calling a recess. Although this is a good way to prevent recess appointments, it's also dangerous, because it means Congress will be open when no one is really there to guard the hen house - and it wouldn't be the first time if Republicans snuck in and changed the law while Democrats were back home. They changed our banking system that way one time. And John Edwards apparently joined the picket line today.

The Senate Dems got semi-tough and proposed a bill to fund redeployment only, and a 53-45 majority voted for cloture - not enough to bring it to the floor. Harry Reid did not force the GOP to actually filibuster, however. Republicans are still trying to claim that Dems are stiffing the troops, and Gates says "that unless Congress passes funding for the war within days, he will direct the Army and Marine Corps to begin developing plans to lay off employees and terminate contracts early next year" so they can use other money to keep the war going.

23:20 GMT

Constant comment

I was thinking the other day that there's one thing I really like about the fact that Edwards admitted that his reasons for voting for the invasion were that he was listening to consultants instead of his instincts, and now he knows better. That is, he admitted that he came in as a freshman playing the Washington game, and then he realized that was a mistake. Unlike Kerry and Clinton, who were either (a) doing the same thing but won't admit it or (b) actually too stupid not to trust Bush and too dishonest to face it. Yes, I know it's a mistake you and I wouldn't have made, but I do believe people have epiphanies and become much better people. I think Edwards isn't as good as he ought to be (the business with Melissa and Amanda still rankles), but he seems to be listening a lot better than the other two leading contenders, and making a genuine attempt to avoid cynicism toward the voters. I also think he poses the biggest threat to the Republicans, which is why they pay so much more attention to Hillary and Obama.

The Take Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis got together on a film about workers taking back their jobs when the factories close. "In the wake of Argentina's dramatic economic collapse in 2001, Latin America's most prosperous middle class finds itself in a ghost town of abandoned factories and mass unemployment. The Forja auto plant lies dormant until its former employees take action. They're part of a daring new movement of workers who are occupying bankrupt businesses and creating jobs in the ruins of the failed system." Watch the trailer. (Thanks to jello for the tip.)

Rachel was on Hardball with Matthews and Pat Buchanan to talk, supposedly, about Eliot Spitzer's failed attempt to make undocumented workers get drivers' licenses, and it was a total shoutfest. I think she dropped the ball, because the fact of the matter is that we do have laws, and whether they are enforced has more to do with who's running the show than whether they are enforceable. Republicans hate to penalize corporations for illegally hiring people, because getting cheap labor from a cowed workforce is a priority of conservatives.

No Surprise Here: "Not surprisingly, the Gulf Coast is still trying to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Also not surprisingly, the poor in Mississippi are still waiting for help while their wealthier neighbors and big businesses are grabbing 75% to 90% of the federal relief funds..."

Not The Daily Show, With Some Writer, explains the strike, and Sumner Redstone's simultaneous arguments against YouTube and against royalties for the writers: "When you're not paying him, you owe him a billion dollars. When he's not paying you, he's not paying you." Thanks to Dwight Meredith for the tip.

17:02 GMT

On the Infobahn

Jane Hamsher: "Looks like the Senate Judiciary referred a bill to the floor without telecom immunity." Amazingly, Feinstein does the right thing. But Mukasey apparently doesn't believe in the rule of law.

John Edwards: "That's what I mean when I say it's not going to change anything if we trade a crowd of corporate Democrats for corporate Republicans."

Media Bloodhound finds NPR doing the fair and balanced thing of having right-wing crackpottery "balance" people who actually know what they're talking about and have a moral compass. (Who came up with the idea that it's only torture if it kills you? The whole point of having two different words for torture and murder is that torture is torture - and, by definition, if it is sufficiently unpleasant that it makes you talk, it's torture. That's the whole point.)

I really did foolishly believe that David Broder would at least wait a few weeks after saying he wouldn't be talking about the marriages of Giulini and Clinton before doing yet another column about the Clintons' marriage. Silly me. (And more about that column here, (via).)

Liberal media, Murdoch style.

Susie Bright (site may not be work-safe) has a round-up and updates on the Great Bridge Controversy. I recommend writing to Jan Martel to say, "Oh, grow up!" (Non-players don't realize that Bridge is a blood sport, but this is ridiculous.) Keith Olbermann comments. (Unfortunately, I couldn't find a complete clip - Keith apparently said they should be renamed the Soviet Bridge Federation.)

Why is the NYT trying to tell me how nice Wal-Mart is?

A virtual walk through the woods, via Biomes Blog.

12:41 GMT

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Turn your frown upside down

I very much enjoyed the press release for the National Lawyers' Guild's resolution to impeach George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney. National Lawyers Guild President Marjorie Cohn said, "The war of aggression, the secret prisons, the use of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, the use of evidence obtained by torture, and the surveillance of citizens without warrants, all initiated and carried out under the tenure of Bush and Cheney, are illegal under the U.S. Constitution and international law."

Know your Naomis.

Brave New Films' most recent video on how much sex Fox News has on it was so popular that they've created a whole new website called Fox News Porn.

Homespun Analogy Generator, via Elayne.

Doctor Vince's piece on The Pixies has a photo that may not be work-safe.

I just liked this picture for some reason.

15:35 GMT

Storm warnings

Susie Madrak sees The New Game Plan developing and wonders why Eric Alterman knows it, but the NYT does not. Eric got a letter from a faculty member at the University of Maryland saying, "What is startling is that the U.S. military has also asked us to prepare a bid for educational programs in IRAN and SYRIA [...] This is a truly ominous development. The U of MD overseas program follows the military around the world - thus clearly the contingencies for an occupation of several Middle Eastern countries is not only being contemplated, but actually set up."

Also from Suburban Guerrilla: In California, supporters of right-wing ballot initiatives are tricking people into signing their petitions, pretending you are signing an initiative for cancer hospitals for children. One of those initiatives is the one for giving 19 of California's electoral votes to the Republicans.

MahaBarb on inevitability: "As I remember, all through 2003 many professional television pundits kept saying Dick Gephardt or Joe Lieberman would be the nominee. And now exactly the same crew, albeit a tad more wrinkled, are talking up Clinton and Giuliani. And they get paid for this. I make wrong predictions just as often, but I do it for free. Such a deal."

Adam Cohen in the NYT: "The story of the 1930s public works programs is timely again, because much of America is falling apart."

Protection racket - There's something particularly creepy about journalists who keep warning us that if Hillary is nominated/elected, we will constantly be hearing about their scandalous marriage, as if they had no control over the fact that they would constantly be writing about it as if it mattered. (But we're not supposed to be concerned about what a Giuliani White House marriage might look like. Hm.) Also: marketing stupid right-wing ideas, "Intelligent Design" Division. Plus, Garance finds some videos: Kenyan Boy Dreams of Being Like Obama and Darth Gore to Senator Obama: I Am Your Father.

12:57 GMT

Touch typing

Atrios quotes this repeatable paragraph from this week's Gene Lyons column: "What's wrong with these people ? It's common to compare Washington's self-infatuated media celebrities to high school kids. But even high school was never like this. Adolescents normally try to conceal their neuroses. These jokers mistake them for insights."

How False Narrative Works" - Robert, Sam, and Nat Parry on how the press carries water for the bad guys.

Rachel Maddow talked to Byron Dorgan again on her show, about the FCC's rush to remove limits on market saturation in time for Tribune to get a giant tax break. Go here to explain to the FCC that they have no business doing this. (Listen to Rachel's most recent show here.)

Jon Swift, "Bridge Too Far: [...] The First Amendment does not give people the right to yell anti-Bush slogans in a crowded theater, or even to talk during the movie at all. If we let a few lady Bridge players criticize the President, it could spread. The next thing you know Democrats in Congress will start opposing the President's appointments, passing laws against torture or defying him on funding for the Iraq War." (I'd sure like to see that.) Actually, as a reader of Bridge columns, I'm outraged that these women are being Dixie-Chicked.

Gee, Dianne Feinstein really is Joe Lieberman's evil twin, which hardly seems fair, since he's her evil twin. Kind of a Mr. Hyde and Mr. Hyde situation. Time for this.

Did anyone see whether Warren Buffett told Congress not to repeal the estate tax?

Reagan, Berkeley, and Neshoba County.

Center for American Progress has done some cute little videos explaining what a "progressive" means. Make everyone you know watch them.

Via Elayne, you can generate a calendar.

03:07 GMT

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Cheese and pears

At Fact-esque, eRobin says to call your reps ASAP to support the override of Bush's veto of the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill: "Do you know how many military families benefit from WIC, foodstamps, Head Start or LIHEAP? I don't and I've spent weeks trying to find out. But I do know that the House version of the Farm bill includes a provision that exempts combat pay from food stamp eligibility requirements. Why do you suppose that is?"

It fascinates me that there is a group that thinks of itself, or is thought of, as "liberal hawks". I don't get it. They've never struck me as terribly liberal. They were pretty quiet when Bush decided be best friends with Musharaff - a military dictator who took power in a coup - and they actually cheered on the ludicrous idea of imposing democracy on Iran by bombing the hell out of it. While it's true that they're not all PNAC maniacs, they seem to have spent the better part of the last seven years ignoring the fact that they were supporting someone who behaved like a dictator and was promoting programs that lacked all sign of those things that are vital to democracy. So, Bill Scher, discussing The Importance of Pakistan, says: "Just as his father told the Iraqis to rise up only to sit quietly while Saddam cracked down, Dubya told the world "When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you," yet has done nothing for Pakistanis risking their lives for their freedom. This is not an exception to Bush's conservative foreign policy. This is conservative foreign policy. And it is a failure." And yet, there are still alleged "liberal hawks" who seem uninterested in putting a stop to it. Really, we should speak up loudly whenever those people are referred to as "liberal" anything.

Kagro X reminds us that, when asked what the most important thing about having a Congressional majority was, Nancy Pelosi said, "Subpoena power." Of course, that was before we found out that the Skrulls have been taking over. (Also: Did Reid agree to Mukasey just to get another fake filibuster?)

Fred Clark examines the worldview of someone who actually believes that gay rights will destroy everything: "I would say that Barber is confusing the categories of ethics, morality and the law, but that gives him too much credit. He does not accept that these are separate categories. For Barber, all that is immoral must also be illegal, and all that is legal is explicitly endorsed. This is the logic of Prohibition. It is also the logic of Blue Laws and adultery statutes. In a different cultural and religious context -- but an identical spiritual context -- it is the logic of the Taliban. Those of us from the Baptist tradition of religious liberty cannot help but be embarrassed for Barber because we recognize this for what it is: a confession of a frail and flimsy faith and of a moral character that is wholly dependent on external crutches. Barber argues, explicitly, that his understanding of right and wrong cannot be sustained without the active support of the state, the courts, the police."

Commenter jello says we should be linking to the original article on Obama that Tom Hayden appears to have been referring to. And here's the Jefferson Jackson Dinner at YouTube. It's a good speech.

23:09 GMT

Found on the intertubes

Many people don't realize just how generous the original GI Bill was compared with what we have today. My father, who had not finished high school, received training after the war so that he could go on to get a good job. Many who had finished high school were sent on to college and supported by the bill while they completed their education. Kids still sign up on the promise of education, but for the last few years they've been sent off to war without even complete military training, then put into the meat-grinder over and over until they are no longer re-usable. Their futures are often very, very bleak. IAVA wants to help them. Help Veterans Continue Their Education: "A 1988 Congressional study proved that every dollar spent on educational benefits under the original GI Bill added seven dollars to the national economy in terms of productivity, consumer spending and tax revenue. [...] A new GI Bill is being crafted in Congress, but lawmakers need to hear from you. Send your Congressional Representatives a message today. Tell them you support a new GI Bill - one that will let our new veterans continue their education when they come home."

Your state hates Bush. (Although they don't list Utah, which was the last one I saw giving Bush better than 50% - but I don't think he's doing that well even there, anymore.)

I missed this last week - Pruning Shears on the dangers of a politicized military.

Media Bloodhound on the news priorities of The New York Times. A local story about a high school football team gets the full front-page spread, but the important story about how "Decks Are Stacked in War Crimes Cases, Lawyers Say" is on A23.

Rick Perlstein, August 2003, on how Democrats keep closing Overton's Window on ourselves: "When conventional Democrats get together to strategize, the conclusion is ever thus: The center must lead." (And why you recycle.) He also calls my attention to this post by Ezra Klein on how Tancredo is using his presidential campaign to draw a far-right pole in the spectrum of what's "acceptable" public discourse - and Democrats should do the same thing.

A sign.

17:34 GMT


Kevin Hayden adds more context to Bob Herbert's take-down of David Brooks and his denial of the Southern Strategy, and says:

Enter one California Governor...

"If it's to be a bloodbath, let it be now. Appeasement is not the answer." Ronald Reagan, 8 April 1970, regarding what to do about student disruptions at UC Berkeley)

Less than four weeks later, on 4 May 1970, the shooting of Kent State students by members of the Ohio National Guard occurred. Four students were killed and nine wounded. One was permanently paralyzed. Some were peacefully protesting the US invasion of Cambodia; others were walking nearby or observing the protest at a distance.

That was followed by the 14th-15th May shootings of students at Jackson State College in Mississippi.

And then follows with his agreement with Tom Hayden about Obama:
It's not just critical that Obama recognizes that, but every politician and every voter needs to come to grips with that, too.

The Republican Party politicians are extremely adept at exploiting divides in this country. Like the generational divide. Almost anyone born from 1960 on - voters now 18-47 - have few, if any memories of voters age 48-63 who were caught up in the thick of one or more of the Civil Rights, antiwar, Women's Rights, UFW, reproductive rights, environmentalism movements, or the beginning of the GLBT liberation movement. Us boomers are not trapped in some time warp fighting the same battles, advocating the same tactics, or even suggesting we have all the right answers.

But what we do have are important memories. We've been the canaries in the current coal mine whose dust has darkened everyone's future. Much of what we've seen in Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Powell and Armitage and Abrams and Perle and Wolfowitz and so many others tied to this White House is not new to us. Most of us spotted these phonies miles away, using old methods and old law violations to pursue policies and rights encroachments that are recycled failures, dusted off in pursuit of the same corrupt ends.

Our capacity to remember is your first line of defense. And in another three decades, yours will be necessary to warn and protect some future generations. We may not always know how to solve every problem. But we can see problems brewing. We can provide some answers. We can point to some things previous generations tried that didn't work, too.

By the way, Kevin could use a little help, if you can spare some.

14:16 GMT

Worth a look

The Rude One is remarkably mild in his discussion of how Giuliani kept New York safe. Maybe he's saving it for the promised follow-up post.

Ted Kennedy and Max Cleland in Wired on the lousy way our vets are being treated. And more from Paul Reickoff and Keith Olbermann on Countdown.

Democrats notice that the war is too expensive.

"The Courage Of Kucinich In Pelosi's House Of Wacks" by Linda Milazzo at Buzzflash.

"Latin Americaís Shock Resistance" by Naomi Klein.

The Nation has a series of articles by advocates for the Democratic nominees (I was surprised to see John Nichols for Biden, but not surprised by Gore Vidal for Kucinich). But jurassicpork thought the defense of Clinton was insulting and lame.

Thank goodness George Bush is spreading democracy.

It's official: conservatives are squares.

Right Wing Morality and healthcare.

Through the Eye of the Storm.

The bleedin' obvious: People can't buy things if they're not getting paid.

Ah, we do miss Screaming Lord Sutch.

Thailand's Mae Fah Luang Garden (via)

11:28 GMT

Terminally distracted

One of my favorite hobbyhorses is, of course, lies told about healthcare, and one that really seems to have legs is the idea that the private sector drives development of new treatments. There are people out there who seem to believe that (a) virtually all important innovation in medicine comes from America and (b) it comes from the private sector. In fact, most of the important discoveries occur on the taxpayers' dime, and they come from all over the world, but you'd never know that if you listened to the bloviating from the right. More on that from Barbara O'Brien.

Jane Smiley's pretend interview with Hillary Clinton: "So, on balance, you have agreed to Bush's policies, even though they are almost uniformly deleterious to the U.S. economy, society, and world prestige?"

Digby and a commenter discuss the fact that conservatives don't know what "consent" means. Also, more on mainstreaming RNC talking points.

Al Gore once said that the American people usually get it right. Sometimes it just takes a little longer.

Fred Clark says the Family Research Council is upset again, for all the wrong reasons.

"This declared indifference, but as I must think, covert real zeal for the spread of torture, I can not but hate." (Also: Dear George Herbert Walker Bush: You Can Go Away Now.)

Ah, Jeez. Bill O'Reilly attacks Mark Cuban and the film he financed, Redacted - though he has never seen it. Maybe you want to check it out.

It's not like Santorum didn't warn us....

01:53 GMT

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Grey balloons

I just heard someone Jonathan Turley on the radio say that the Democrats "think they're going to win the World Series by being the only team not to leave the dugout."

Disaster non-relief - No one will help you, even if they want to, and you can't help, either, and beside that, if you try to volunteer, you have to sign a loyalty oath. "One can only speculate at this point, which GOP crony corporation will be designated as the sole 'experts' able to cope with the clean up but I feel confident in predicting they will end up spending a whole lot of tax dollars on setting up the administration for 'rescue efforts' that will never be completed."

Glenn Greenewald says that some of Ron Paul's crazy-seeming legislative submissions might mislead us about his real views. (But I think that attribution is wrong - the claims are from a commenter, not from David Neiwert himself.)

Iain Blair should still resign.

Jerome Doolittle says: "Probably you're not confused over why so many Democratic peace wimps cast those votes for war in Iraq which they now, as presidential candidates, so bitterly regret. (And if you think every man and woman jack of them didn't know perfectly well that it was a vote for war, have I got a bridge for you...) But there's one element to this mass cowardice that you may have forgotten." And it amounts to that they're all afraid of looking like that Peace Wimp Sam Nunn.

In another fine example of the Special Relationship, the UK government appoints a commissioner to the Equality and Human Rights Commission who is in favor of discrimination.

Cell phone hell, (via)

Glass jellyfish sculptures

20:48 GMT

Tea time links

Corrupt Congressmen say no financial aid to schools that don't send money to DRM services and bust file-sharers - and those are corrupt Democratic members of Congress. "The congressmen behind this are Reps. George Miller from California and Ruben Hinojosa of Texas and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. These three men are proposing to make colleges into a subsidy system for the MAFIAA. Remember those names come election time -- and if you live in their districts, call them today."

The Talking Dog interviewed Martha Rayner, whose law clinic has represented five people who were held at Guantanamo, three of whom have been released. Of one still in custody, she says, "Sanad's path to GTMO is terribly troubling. He was grabbed by some entity of the United Arab Emerates in 2003 - far away in time from the invasion of Afghanistan and very far away from the battlefield of that war. In secret custody, he was viciously tortured and then turned over to Americans who transferred him to a CIA "black site" in Afghanistan that has come to be known as the "prison of darkness." Here Sanad was subjected to more torture. A year and a half later, he was transferred to GTMO, where he languishes."

Norman Mailer: Neil Gaiman enjoyed his company, Scott has mixed feelings but values his work, but for Johann Hari, it's all about the misogyny.

Roy Edroso on Why We Snark.

John Mellencamp brought John Edwards onto the stage during a concert and everybody cheered, but you'd never know that if you got your news from Drudge. (via)

Jurassicpork has some thoughts on the idea that we need to redefine privacy.

Arthur Silber has some good quotes from a Kucinich interview.

A reminder from Marcy Wheeler that a CIA contractor got fired last July for saying that waterboarding is torture in a blog post.

16:18 GMT

I still wish it was Gore, but...

I feel a bit guilty about this. Just at the moment when everyone - even the media - was talking about the possibility that Gore's Nobel Prize might mean he would get into the presidential race, I choked. Maybe I shouldn't have. Looking at this poll result, perhaps I should have had more faith.

But it looked to me like Clinton had locked up too much of the Democratic Party apparatus already, and the timing just seemed wrong to me.

But a diary at Daily Kos says this message was received last night from Karen Wunderman at

We have received a communication from a member of Al Gore's staff discouraging our efforts to put Al Gore's name on any primary ballots. This includes California, New York, Massachusetts, and the write-in effort in New Hampshire, as well as any other states that are working to get him on the ballot. Accordingly, effective immediately, we are recommending that all groups cease their signature collection and related fund-raising activities.

Some of you may wonder about the discrepancy between this message and the one sent out last week. We have attempted to bring you information as we receive it, and only information that is credible, and last week's information came from credible sources, but not sources from within Gore's office. Unfortunately, today's communication comes from Gore's staff and trumps the information we received last week.

We're all reeling and in a bit of a state of shock, and our main objective right now is to get people to stop working for something we've been discouraged from pursuing. Beyond that, we recognize that for many this will feel like getting hit by a Mack truck. It's impossible to convey the deep disappointment we all feel, but we've been to hell and back again with this, and just as we hung together in the past, we'll grieve together and get support from the community we built. Regardless of how we attempt to deal with this blow, we should at least now be able to turn our attention back to family, friends, and jobs that have been neglected over these long months of hard work. We built a community of support and supporters, and I believe our lives were enriched for having known each other and worked together for this cause we believe in so strongly. Many of us have formed permanent bonds with people in this movement that transcend the political ideology that brought us together in the first place. These are ties that will last a lifetime.

We'll be putting out more communications in the days ahead, but for now we felt it was urgent to get this information out to people so they wouldn't put any more time or money into the effort. I hope we can turn our grief and disappointment into something more positive and productive in the future.

There are no words to express our sorrow at having to deliver this news, but I'm afraid it is real, and the request needs to be heeded.

With deepest regrets,



14:20 GMT

A little bit of soap

(I stole the photo from egalia.)

Is this the best we can hope for on the death penalty in a candidate? To me, it's just another reason not to vote for Obama. That's along with the fact that, apparently, the last time Obama was actually against our meddling in Iraq was before it started - but not so much since then. Not to mention another Sister Soldya-out moment about "Tom Hayden Democrats". Hey, Barry? Up yours.

PNH on The Exciting Ron Paul Phenomenon: "If you think 'the elitist, secular Left has managed to convince many in our nation that religion must be driven from public view,' that 'the notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers,' that 'the collectivist Left hates religion,' and that 'the secularists [are waging] an ongoing war against religion...Christmas itself may soon be a casualty of that war,' gosh do I have a Presidential candidate for you! His name is Ron Paul." I disagree that Paul is Upton Park - he is at the very least Dagenham. Although, except for the occupation, I'd say he is pretty much Upminster.

Al Gore trying to save the planet through venture capitalism.

Working for Change is now CREDO. (Don't ask me why.) Speaking of which, Tom Tommorow helps explain why liberals think waterboarding is torture and other strange beliefs.

In 1948, Ronald Reagan campaigned for Truman, and made this speech. That was before Nancy's father sat him down and laid out the future for him.

Another look at Zionism over at Karmalised.

Arthur has an update on the persecution of the Morton West student protesters, and the date for their hearing has been delayed, so remember to sign the petition if you haven't already.

Big fire at the London Olympic site sent up lots of smoke. Photos here. (The site is nowhere near Tower Bridge, just so you know.)

02:45 GMT

Monday, 12 November 2007

Snakes and ladders

Scott Lemieux on The Lodi Lieberman: Dianne Fienstein (Senator Desperately In Need Of A Primary Challenge-CA) supports immunizing companies who acted illegally by violating the privacy of their customers. It would be holding companies "hostage" to punish them for illegal activity, since state actors were also involved! Boo-hoo-hoo-hoo! For reasons I can't understand, the fact that litigation would be "costly" -- and hence deter future illegal behavior and violations of customer privacy -- is supposed to be a bug, not a feature. The classic coservertarian bait-and-switch. Oh, yes, we need to get rid of that woman. (Also: Robert Farley on the best thing Bernie Kerik ever did.)

Atrios drew my attention to Ankush's fine post "Sullivan on Obama" at Ezra's place, and I am truly amazed at how nuts Andrew Sullivan can be, and what drivel The Atlantic will print. By the time Ankush quotes Sullivan as saying that there is no substantive difference between the two parties on healthcare, you know you are in the most alien territory yet. The thing about abortion doesn't help. (The use of the word "logarithm" is just embarrassing in so many ways.) Sullivan appears to be in love with the idea of an Obama presidency, and his main argument seems to be that Obama is black without being, y'know, black. And that's great because it will show the world that America is better than they think, and also it will repudiate the '60s and end the culture war. Or something. I liked the comment thread, too.

The surprising truth about Rage Boy - the right-wingers have made him into a hate figure and created a whole biography for him based on a photograph or two, but they have no idea who he really is. Via The American Street.

Armitage on Plame - No wonder they love this guy, he takes responsibility for burning a CIA agent and does some smooth ass-covering. When Valerie Plame says he had no business exposing her identity, he says she's right, it was foolish. But there are still many questions to be answered about how he knew and why he told in the first place.

Dave Neiwert promoted comments by Trefayne on Ron Paul's record in Congress to the front page. I thought I knew how much of a far-right crackpot he was, but I was wrong.

17:13 GMT

Swings and feints

Friday I heard Senator Bernie on the radio saying that the reason they didn't get it together to filibuster Mukasey was that, basically, they were sandbagged. According to Greg Sargent, the leadership appears to have deliberately held the vote when presidential candidates could not get back to vote and insisted on a short deadline. This was apparently part of another one of Harry Reid's deals, this time to get Republicans to agree to a vote on funding the troops but not the occupation. Via Seeing the Forest.

Here's a knee-slapper: Greg Sargent also says that, just for Mukasey, the Dems are planning to pass a bill making waterboarding illegal. Because he said he'd enforce such a law if Congress passed it. This is so Schumer and Feinstein can save face, I suppose, despite the fact that waterboarding is already illegal. Greg thinks they have to pass this bill to prove they mean it. I think I will really be surprised if they pass it with a veto-proof majority. And I will be even more surprised if Bush doesn't try to signing-statement it out of existence. And I'll be astonished if Mukasey actually tries to investigate and prosecute. After all, he's already said that if the president says it's okay, it's not a crime. So it just seems like a load of wank to me. Maybe I'm wrong.

Al Gore Favorite to be 'Time' Person of the Year. Yeah, but they have a history of bottling out, don't they?

A reminder that Alan Dershowitz is an immoral cretin.

"This Is Your Brain on Politics: ... 3. Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani are on opposite sides of the gender divide. We found indications that Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Giuliani represent two sides of the same coin: Men show little interest in Mrs. Clinton initially but after watching her video they react positively. Women respond to her strongly at first, but their interest wanes after they watch her video." Isn't modern science wonderful? Via Prairie Weather, who enjoyed it a lot. (And thanks to Wayne Pearce for the tip.)

An Angry Black Bitch connects the dots between detained Iranians and AT&T helping the government wiretap you. Via Shakespeare's Sister, sitting in for Mike at the Blog Round-Up.

Empty Wheel is also connecting some dots related to AT&T, and smells a PR campaign.

Can you believe the UK government is forbidding wounded veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq from marching in the Remembrance Day parade? Shameless.

11:54 GMT

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Stuff I saw

Atrios draws our attention to an utterly reprehensible "excuse" for Countrywide's behavior: "At a conference sponsored by the Milken Institute about two weeks ago, for example, he explained that borrowers forced lenders like Countrywide to lower their mortgage standards. The industry faced special pressure from minority advocates to help people buy homes, he said. Now, the government must help by increasing loan limits at government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, he added." This is an outrageous, if typical, lie. The real demand was for lenders to apply the same standards to minorities as they did to others, but it has nothing to do with why lenders lowered their standards. (Atrios also links* to this post by Matt Stoller about the media's non-coverage of the writers' strike. I keep tellin' ya: We should be demonstrating at the media outlets. It works for all the issues.)

Quddity on the authoritarian 24-29 percent. And on principles.

"From now on, all Bible references to 'John 3:16' will be replaced by ... 'Rudy 9:11'." Via Maru. (Plus! Tucker Carlson comes up with the stupidest argument yet against impeaching Cheney.)

It's on the web so it must be true.

Note to Migly: I believe I was about to attend my first Hugo banquet when I was told that Chesley Bonstell kept his Special Hugo on his toilet tank. I said at the time, "Yes, all his guests will see it, there." I remembered that when I was given a nice statue for fighting censorship - it's in my bathroom.

23:10 GMT

In search of better weather

I'm happy to say that this year the neighbors seem to have found more fireworks that whistle and fewer that make loud bangs. Which doesn't mean there haven't been plenty of loud bangs, but at least it's interspersed with less percussion.

Ezra Klein provides a neat illustration here of how unequal the United States has become. Bush says that's okay, because we've always had inequality, and anyway there are skill gaps. As I've tried to point out, education is not the problem - many people who can't find jobs or are in subsistence-or-less jobs are highly-educated and quite a few are people who used to have no trouble finding work. For that matter, quite a few have run into the problem of being turned down for jobs because we're "over-qualified". When competent people with good work records suddenly can't make a living anymore, it might not be because they lack education. Ezra points to Lawrence Mishel and Richard Rothstein's "Schools as Scapegoats" from last month's American Prospect for a bit of history on the old education dodge.

The Telegraph is saying that Robert Gates is the only thing standing between Iran and Cheney. Cernig warns: "If Shipman is right - and there have been other reports suggesting the same thing - then expect the neocon smear factory to start up on Gates anytime now, in much the same way as they turned on Rice as soon as she began to advocate diplomacy instead of bombs."

Me, too, I miss Fafblog! I also miss the days when we hadn't yet achieved "Torture: Sorta Like Mowin Your Lawn."

Mario Cuomo talks to Paul Krugman on (Also, (via), Krugman discusses those innocent mistakes Reagan kept making that just happened to make him look like he was on the side of white racists.)

Mark Evanier explains why no one seems to oppose the writers' strike.

NTodd adds another to the list of things you can do to fight the maniacs, in honor of Veteran's Day.

Whoever said Dick Cheney doesn't want to negotiate? (And if I understand correctly, all criminals are terrorists because crime is scary. In the circumstances, we really need to all charge the administration with terrorism because they are scaring the hell out of us.)


Rageh Inside Iran - a British journalist goes back to shoot the kind of footage he never got to do for his news stories - footage showing the ordinary life of people in Tehran. You might find some interesting surprises.

18:03 GMT

Or curse the darkness

Aubade Elisa - La Muse half cup braBra of the Week

Every now and then I like to remind people that newspapers have always had good profit margins, and they still do. Their problem is not the internet or television, it's the declining quality of their product. And why is that happening? Bill Doolittle says (and he ought to know) that the real reason newspapers are losing income is greed.

Department of IOKIYAR*: Hecate on other people's marriages: "How fascinating that it's apparently completely ok for these twice-married Republicans with problem children to base a marriage upon a love of politics, but it's somehow wrong for the Clintons to have done the same."

So, Bill Kristol thinks it would be a really neat idea for the Republican presidential candidate to choose Lieberman for Lieberman as his running-mate.

OK, Rahm Emmanuel is out of his mind, whatever the reason. Kos thinks he's either racist or stupid. I'm tempted to say, "both" - really, there's no excuse for wanting jump on the Tancredo bandwagon of hate.

I keep feeling like I'm holding my breath waiting for Bush to be gone, but I don't think I can take it.

Tristero recommends Paul Krugman's The Conscience of a Liberal. And Digby has more on the media's sexual hang-ups about Hillary.

James Wolcott says that losing Norman Mailer is like losing a planet. It's true, he loomed large. (via)

I think Brad needs to change his oil or something - yeah, Bob Herbert got it wrong about the CPI (sort of - he's not the guy who started the thing of confusing the CPI and core inflation*), but he's right that the economy is rough for ordinary working people and getting pretty scary.

Didn't realize that the guy who is making the movie of Recount is Danny Strong. Kinda cool.

11:00 GMT

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Don't believe your lyin' eyes

On my list of moments in media history that still make me seethe when I think about them, one of the highest-ranked is the performance of the press during the week following the first presidential debate between Al Gore and George Walker Bush.

I watched that debate closely to see an astonishingly poor performance by Bush - the worst I had ever seen by any candidate in any race - in which he demonstrated clearly that he knew nothing, was unable to defend (or, in some cases, explain) his own positions, and in a couple of cases was clearly lying. It was obvious from his delivery that he had rote-memorized a number of paragraphs on specific subjects and he delivered them in response to questions that touched on those subjects (without reference to whether they actually answered the question he was asked). At one point he dropped such a paragraph about affirmative action into his response to a completely unrelated question, apparently having forgotten for the moment the appropriate stock answer, and having to reach for something to say in a hurry. It was pathetic.

By contrast, Gore was in great shape. Articles appearing immediately after the debate described him as looking good and being sharp. Focus groups and others who had seen the debates polled right afterwards reflected the obvious superiority of Gore's performance.

In 2002, Bob Somerby looked back at the reaction in real-time:

On October 3, 2000, MSNBC's Brian Williams turned to Matthews moments after Bush and Gore's first debate. Here's what Matthews said that night, before the press got its story together:
BRIAN WILLIAMS (10/3/00): Chris Matthews, the host of Hardball, is with me here tonight. Chris, your assessment of what went on tonight.

MATTHEWS: Not long ago I saw Al Gore in a marathon - a 26-miler. Tonight was a marathon event. He was in training for tonight, he was overpowering, he had the stamina, he had an encyclopedic ability to talk about an issue for almost hours at a time. George W. Bush came into a format that he tried to avoid, for weeks he tried to avoid this kind of format because it's not his format. He's not able to sustain an argument over a long period of time. He can make a quick statement - he's a sprinter. He can make a statement quickly and concisely. Unfortunately, he cannot dominate the time in the way Al Gore could tonight. Al Gore didn't sweat, as I thought he might. Al Gore was effective in dominating the format, he dominated the time, and I have to say he dominated the debate.

Say what? In his book, Matthews says that Gore lost every debate. He says the third debate was Goreís best outing! But things sounded different on October 3, as Matthews lauded Goreís Debate I performance. Matthews went through three rounds of Q-and-A; he never wavered in his outlook. In his third statement, he discussed Bushís failure to respond to Gore's basic charges:
MATTHEWS (10/3/00): I don't know whether he's tired tonight, people say he had a cold, people say he goes to bed normally before this time of night, at 9:30 - whatever it was, he wasn't quick enough and acute enough to respond to these charges. There was a little bit of Michael Dukakis out there tonight, and that's very dangerous in politics.
The next evening, on Hardball, Matthews continued praising Gore's performance. Gore "cleaned Bush's clock," he said. In fact, he even chided his fellow pundits for not being honest about what occurred:
MATTHEWS (10/4/00): I couldn't believe the number of people who chickened out last night. It was clear to me - and I'm no fan of either of these guys entirely, and I can certainly say that about the one who I thought won last night, that's Al Gore - I thought he cleaned the other guy's clock, and I said so last night. All four national polls agreed with that...I don't understand why people are afraid to say so.
And that was just Matthews. Pundits who'd praised Gore's healthy tan in their first-response articles soon knew he looked "orange". People who'd seen a sharp performer the night before soon knew he had sighed and rolled his eyes too much. And a couple of insignificant errors not worth mentioning became overwhelming misstatements that drove a truck through Gore's credibility. No one mentioned Bush's wooden, stumbling performance, his unwillingness to admit what his own tax policies were, or his astonishing claim that Gore had raised twice as much corporate funding as Bush. (Not only was the reverse true, but Bush's record-breaking fundraising had been one of the most prominently-discussed facts about his campaign in print articles for more than a year. Bush could not possibly have been unaware of this fact.)

The American people were not told that Bush had lied about himself and his policies and did not appear to understand half of what he'd said himself. They were not told that Al Gore spoke knowledgeably about important subjects and had great command of the issues. They were told that Al Gore had "fuzzy math" (Bush's term) and made many "misstatements". By the end of the week, rather than Gore having clearly wiped the floor with Bush, it was the other way around.

The saddest fact about this is that, according to exit polls on voting day, much of the public had absorbed the belief that you couldn't believe anything that big phony Al Gore said. And even today, reading some of the most liberal sites on the web, I see people who think they know better than to believe what the media tells them talking about Gore's terrible campaigning and lousy debate performance.

And now, as Jamison Foser tells us at Media Matters, it's happening again, to Hillary Clinton.

And this time, the candidate's opponents got extra help, because not only is the reporting twisted, but the questions she was asked in the debate itself were themselves smears. The appalling Tim Russert actually asked her questions that were nothing more than right-wing talking points, using false "facts". Clinton, unfortunately, didn't call him on the falsehoods, but the fact of the matter is that the immediate response to the debate was that Hillary made a strong showing and was well ahead of her competitors. And yet, we are now being told that she performed terribly. And it's probably a pretty good bet that the public - the people who didn't even see the debate - believes it, because even the candidate herself seems to have fallen in line about it:

But as the media feeding frenzy continued, the pundit class convinced themselves that Clinton had turned in the worst debate performance in years. It was "terrible," the New York Post announced more than a week later.

Time's Mark Halperin declared it "disastrous" and a "failure." According to Halperin, Clinton was "shrill" and "too hot tempered." The Politico's Roger Simon agreed that Clinton "really" had a "bad night" -- but Simon insisted that Clinton "seemed largely emotionless and detached." Given that two such esteemed journalists agreed that Clinton had a horrible night, but did so based on directly contradictory reasons, it's easy to suspect that no matter what Clinton had done during the debate, the pundits would have criticized her.

So constant were the negative reviews of her performance, Clinton ultimately said in an interview that she hadn't been at her best during the debate.

The real story, of course, is that Tim Russert presented falsehoods as facts to Clinton during the debate, and that Clinton had nevertheless been the perceived winner on the night - but now the media is claiming that Clinton performed abysmally. And not only are they unwilling to address Russert's unforgivable have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife-yet questions, but the story is being told as if they were true. Bill Clinton did not write a letter asking that release of his papers be delayed - on the contrary, he wrote asking that the release be speeded up. (And the letter in question is five years old.) Hillary Clinton did not have two different positions on Social Security - she had two different responses to two different questions.

Sadly, Foser is only half-right when he says:

Russert was right about one thing: his question did, indeed, go "to the issue of credibility." And it left his own credibility in tatters.
I wish. His credibility with people like us may be in tatters, but it already was for most of us. But if he'd really suffered a loss of face, Hillary wouldn't have felt compelled to agree that her performance had been so poor.

He's right about this, though:

Perhaps the best indication that the "disastrous performance" story line is overblown is that Slate's Mickey Kaus has been promoting it.
Yeah, really.

20:17 GMT

Infuriating facts

Remorse: "Barry Richard, the lawyer who 'achieved fame for his successful representation of George Bush in the Bush v. Gore recount suits, is set to give a speech blasting the Bush administration Saturday night' at the National Association of Former U.S. Attorneysí (NAFUSA) annual conference." Says he's "concerned with the Bush administrationís assault on American liberties." Didn't think much about the Constitution when you were getting the Supremes to illegally intervene in an election to stop the ballots from being counted, did ya?

Sense of proportion: When did Diane Feinstein stop being a stickler for law'n' order, anyway?

Chuck Colson comes up with what "may very well be the worst analogies in the history of the world" while attempting to explain how torture can be very moral (and no worse than trespassing).

If you live in a right-wing neighborhood, it might be worthwhile to have a bunch of these to leave on people's doors when they're out. Might make 'em think.

14:39 GMT

In Blogtopia

B-List BloggerLance Mannion was recently reminded of an old post from the "Where are all the women bloggers" debate, and does a re-think. Via Skippy (who invented that word).

It's so nice to know that Gordon Brown has learned so much from his experience about hyping the terrorist threat. Looks like Iain Blair has learned a lot from Bush, too.

Shorter Senator Dianne Feinstein at Busy, Busy, Busy.

Why Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi was such a big fat liar.

A clever way to collect some electoral support from voters.

Digby doesn't want to join in when the Capitol Hill crowd tries to lead us in a few choruses of "Kumbaaya". Can't imagine why. (And, no, I couldn't guess who said that. Boy, am I surprised.)

Simon found another appearance of the weird poster up in North London.

11:46 GMT

On the landscape

If your rep is a freshman and votes like an idiot, ask them why they voted for whatever it was, and then ask if they really mean that or they just weren't released by the leadership to vote their conscience.

I'm learning so much about what people who are not in my part of the political spectrum believe. For example, a right-wing vision of manliness (which explains an awful lot). And then there's the WaPo-liberal view of what is politically useful. (And don't sell yourself short, Scott - Kerry would be lucky to have you to write his speeches instead of whoever's been doing it for him.)

Dershowitz deserves what Wolcott envisions.

I don't suppose it's possible that someone could explain to Diane Feinstein why making the telecom heads testify is how it's done. Jeez, the woman doesn't even know how to pretend.

I don't even have a guess as to why a study would show that teenagers who smoke marijuana are better off than those who don't, but at least this wasn't another one of these studies that looked at some tiny handful of people and made a gross generalization out of one or two of them. Via Drug WarRant, which also had a look at the kinds of letters that an article on drug legalization evoked. Oh, my. (And anyway, heroin addiction was lower in Britain back in the days when it was legal for addicts.)

Watch Rachel try to explain to Pat Buchanan that waterboarding is torture and it's already illegal.

Oprah Winfrey can time-travel! She went back into the past and ruined marathons for running snobs. Or so some tootum kalook claims.

I see someone else had a familiar thought with this photoessay on Iran, "One More Moment Before We Bomb." Via Biomes Blog, where I also found a link to an article by Kos in The Hill, "Blind eye to betrayal".

03:05 GMT

Friday, 09 November 2007

The sun's not yellow, it's chicken

You do understand the need to take action now, before Bush gets the "emergency" that allows him to put foreign mercenaries on our streets, right?

David Sirota says that William Greider really nailed it about why Democrats are becoming completely horrible about trade.

Republicans seem really worried about civility lately, don't they? Oh, those nasty Ron Paul supporters! They get so mean when you totally try to write their candidate out of the debate! And then there's the bloggers. Oh, those genteel conservative gentlemen....

And Crazy Andy's misogyny is showing.

You all saw the little film Alfonso Cuarón made with Naomi Klein for The Shock Doctrine, right? And there are also videos at YouTube of Klein talking about it.

I love the new M&S Christmas ad, but I can't find it online anywhere, dammit. I'm trying to work out all the films it alludes to. Oh, well, have last year's Christmas food porn.

22:28 GMT

Everybody's got something to say

Mukasey was confirmed, and no Democratic candidate for the presidency voted. (In fairness, they were all out on the road and didn't expect the vote to be called so quickly.) (Also, "System of a Down: Powers, Principalities and the Sacred Right to Torture", and "Collusion Course: Dems Play Impeachment Farce as Republic Burns".)

Overheard on the picket line.

I still think Cynthia McKinney would have made a better president than Barack "Social Security Crisis" Obama. (via) And here's another reason why.

Tennessee Congressman Stephen I. Cohen says Cheney impeachment bill is still alive, and egalia says: "Meteor Blades at dkos has the list and the contact info for the Congress members who need to hear from you. Unlike Pelosi and Steny, the majority of Americans do want Bush/Cheney to be held accountable for their crimes via impeachment. To date, Bush and Cheney are getting pretty well everything they want from the spineless Democratic Congress. This is one thing the Dems can give them that they don't want! It's not up to Congress, it's up to we the people." (Also: Virginia and Kentucky endorse San Francisco values.)

"Meanwhile, in Nicaragua Another woman has been allowed to die because of an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy which can never result in the fetus surviving)."

Fred Clark didn't write a review of David Kuo's Tempting Faith, but it put him in mind of something from his own past. (Also: What was wrong with Sodom and Gomorra.)

To me, the weirdest thing about the cat-assassination story is that there is anyone left in American who believes anything said by crazy-pants "Can I change my story again?" Clinton-smearer Kathleen Willey. And that's just one little thing. Still, there will be more.

Big Tent Democrat alerts us that David Brooks claims there was no Southern Strategy. What a putz. Also, if the House Dems can actually do it, this is a great idea. If Bush wants to veto a troop-funding bill, well, that'll sound great on the news.

Blimey, Dion has a new album.

18:45 GMT

Everything is at stake

You know what anniversary today marks, don't you? That didn't happen until 1938. There were steps first to get there. We are watching them.

I'm reading this piece from early September that Thomas Nephew reminded me of, and I'm thinking we need to make an all-out effort to demand a public response from Nancy Pelosi about the real reason she so desperately wants impeachment "off the table" that she's actually threatened John Conyers with the loss of his committee chairmanship if he allows it to proceed.

Anyone can e-mail Pelosi, but it's particularly helpful if you are in her Congressional district and can make it clear that your vote is at stake (always, always politely). You can also send a comment to her blog at

She needs to be pressed, and by a lot of people. She needs to have it clearly pointed out that nobody believes any of the reasons that are being given for why impeachment is out of order.

It can't be that there aren't enough votes. There weren't enough votes when impeachment proceedings began against Nixon. But there were by the time Nixon felt forced to resign. (And if impeachment fails, the public will know why - they'll know it's because of conservatives refusing to do the people's business.)

Nixon's approval ratings were never as low as Bush's are now, let alone Cheney's. (If anyone had done a poll at the time, it is unclear that even Richard Speck would have had lower approval ratings than Cheney does.) And that's without an impeachment proceeding in process - Nixon wasn't anywhere near this unpopular before the impeachment hearings started.

It's not merely that there is nothing more important for Congress to do (and there isn't). It's that there is nothing productive that Congress can do as long as we have a completely lawless executive branch.

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights make absolutely clear that Bush and Cheney can't do what they're doing, but they're doing it anyway. Congress even passed another law (as if we didn't already have clear law) saying the government can't torture, and Bush just wrote a signing statement saying he could do it anyway. A president cannot make law - but he does it anyway. A president must execute the laws passed by Congress if he signs it or if Congress overrules his veto, but he doesn't bother. He claims the right that only the courts have to decide on the Constitutionally of laws and refuse to enforce them even when he has signed them into law.

No law that is worth passing will be passed and enforced as long as the lock-step Republicans are doing Bush's business for him. Any law that the GOP and Bush agree to is one that is not good for the American people. We are better off if no legislation is passed.

So the answer can't be that Congress has all this other important business. There is no other business.

You might also want to ask Pelosi if it is true that she has threatened John Conyers - John Conyers! - with loss of his chairmanship if he moves impeachment proceedings forward.

But, you know, just writing and calling isn't going to be enough. Watch Naomi Wolf talk about what's happening and why we have to move now.

12:20 GMT

Catching up

Michael Moore talks to Keith Olbermann about healthcare.

Mona at Unqualified Offerings on another guy who finally reached his limit: "This is shocking, I say verily unheard of news. It seems the Bush Administration has been trying to control military prosecutions at Gitmo according to political calculations, and thus the formerly stalwart defender of military commissions and Chief Prosecutor, Colonel Morris Davis, just resigned in disgust."

Chris Dodd talks about the importance of the rule of law in Iowa City; a former Navy Judge Advocate General says he's supporting Dodd "because he fought for the rule of law before it was popular."

Gosh, I sure am glad Congress keeps giving money to Bush "for our troops". I mean, where else would all the graft come from? (Thanks to ron for the tip.)

I hadn't heard anything about the flood warnings until Little Thom asked me about it in comments. No one was talking about it when I was out, and I confess I haven't checked out any local news broadcasts all day. However, the Guardian (here and here) and the Mail (here) are both carrying some scary-looking stories.

Sir Ian Blair still won't resign. But he should.

But, why would I want to put chopsticks in my bra? (Thanks to beb for the tip.)

Hm, Fin is seeing those weird posters, too. (And taking many other neat photos of London.) Meanwhile, Huntzinger has some great shots of water on the rocks, water and sundown, and water and a sunset shoreline. And Elaine has a great shot of the Denver Library, and Tracers.

02:32 GMT

Thursday, 08 November 2007

Look through any window

High Street windowI've been seeing the strangest posters around central London, lately.

Don't forget to phone John Conyers' office and politely say that you want Cheney to be impeached. You might also ask what they have to do that's more important - pass more laws "allowing" Bush to break the law?

Dennis Kucinich says he wants your e-mails about impeachment.

Cursor: "'Impeach Impediment' Air America's Rachel Maddow wonders why the Democratic leadership thinks "it's a bad idea to spend hours of prime time on the floor of Congress reminding the country that mister 11 percent approval rating is a bad guy of whom they disapprove and who they would like to see held accountable." (Note to Rachel: A president can nominate a vice presidential choice, but the Senate still has to confirm that person. Don't forget, Mike Mansfield told Nixon that Gerald Ford was the only Republican the Senate would confirm - he had no choices. I think Snowe would be a good choice.)

C&L has a clip from Frontline on Extraordinary Rendition. Also: Midwest Teen Sex Show.

Brave New Films, FOX Attacks Decency - While decrying a sex-saturated culture, no one throws more smut at you than FOX. (And it isn't even good smut.)

Frank Zappa on Crossfire.

16:57 GMT

I've got to keep on tryin'

(I'm listening to Alex Richman.)

Barbara Boxer is steamed about White House stonewalling on their evisceration of congressional testimony of CDC President Julie Gerberding on the "Human Impacts of Global Warming." Meanwhile, the demonization of immigrants fails and Dems take control of the Virginia Senate.

Hey, look, there are now 17 Senators on Greg Sargent's Mukasey No Vote chart, and rumors that the pressure is building to keep Mukasey's nomination from the floor - or that there might even be a filibuster.

Y'know, I feel much the same way about the London Olympics.

Feds weigh takeover of NY voting machine selection. Uh oh.

Digby on The Right-Wing Relativists over at Common Sense: "All those terms that conservatives used to love to use, the proud, patriotic words like Honor, Decency, Honesty, Morality no longer apply to them. The right-wing relativists have faced their own ultimate test and they have failed it in every possible way."

ENDA Passed Without "Real Or Perceived Gender" Protections.

Here's a good little video on What the Writers' Strike Is All About.

Thanks to hooboy for telling me how to link to a Roger Ailes post. Now, can someone tell Roger how to get the anchor code to stop repeating? Anyone have a clue why it would do that?

12:12 GMT

Wednesday, 07 November 2007

I found it on the intertubes

The Rude One lets Schumer have it. But I disagree with His Rudeness about whether we deserve Mukasey. Remember, most people didn't vote for Bush, and for that matter most of us didn't vote for Schumer, either.

Hecate reminds us that abortion is More Common Than You Think. There are a lot of women in the world who don't think it can happen to them until it happens to them, but it happens to a considerable percentage of us.

No surprises here: Report: Abstinence not curbing teen sex. Well, yeah. The experience in Europe is that real sex education, beginning early, is the best way to reduce teenage sex.

Chuck Dupree talks about an evil scumbag country, and Bill Doolittle has An Argument for Hell.

Thanks again to Begonia Buzzkill for a the link to the Raw Story article on Kucinich's statement last night (with video). And Dennis was also a guest on Thom Hartmann's show today - you can get the podcasts for individual hours here, or listen to the continuous stream from White Rose (remember the tip jar!) here.

More help from Begonia, who says in comments: "Shhh, don't tell the Americans their President gave the Afghani Taliban $90 million of your tax dollars last Christmas which bought them all they needed for this: Taliban stage a coup of their own."

I always figured they would have to catch Pataki at something sooner or later.

Madison Guy does a little photobonding.

23:18 GMT

Your happenin' world

Some good links from Eschaton:
* Matt Stoller, "Bush Dogs Move to Block Mortgage Reform: [...] It's time to understand that Bush Dogs are part of a working conservative majority. They are not our friends, they are not our allies, they are political opponents who want to bail out wealthy investors and hurt people trapped in subprime mortgage markets. Politically, they are also the people hurting Democratic capacity to differentiate ourselves as populists and capture swing areas and exurban Republicans hurt by the housing meltdown. Guns are one thing, but there is no strong grassroots movement in conservative districts on behalf of big banks. These people are simply whores for credit card companies and banking interests building profitable de facto debtors prisons."
* Barry Ritholtz, "The Eagles Disintermediate Major Labels - one of the best selling bands in the world bypasses the recording companies completely and allows fans to download their new album or buy it direct from their site: "The band cranked out over 700,000 discs in the first week -- not too shabby for a double disc." They even give you a choice between downloading either .mp3 or FLAC lossless files, all for under twelve bucks.
* Matthew Yglesias, "Liquidate! [...] I sometimes complain that the Post should make Samuelson write something other than his endless bellyaching about the need for Social Security cuts, but that was just a polite way of saying I think they should fire him. This sort of thing isn't really what I was after. At any rate, Samuelson seems to be a party to what J.M. Keynes would have called the "liquidationist" view of such matters -- recession is the population getting its comeuppance for having been not-poor just a little while back."

Thomas Nephew alerts me that our Congressman voted against Kucinich's impeachment bill. *Sigh* (And I would really like to know what the leadership did to John Conyers to get him to back down on impeachment and stuff like this. Did they really break him? He was on fire not that long ago, and proposed his own articles of impeachment.)

Begonia Buzzkill, after admiring the gorgeous pictures of Iran I linked earlier, refers to the great FBI falafel hunt and supplies us a bit of cultural reality check.

You'll need to scroll down for Roger Ailes' post "Roger's Hollywood Minute" because his permalinks don't work, but do check it out - apparently, Brian Linse, who was a liberal blogger way back when there were hardly any of us (at Ain't No Bad Dude, and also as the proprietor of The Lefty Directory), is a co-producer of a movie that has been getting rave reviews ("such a superb crime melodrama that I almost want to leave it at that" - R. Ebert), Before The Devil Knows You're Dead.

More flying cows.

18:30 GMT

Everybody's business

I was disappointed that Kucinich's bill only listed a couple of the reasons to impeach Cheeny* - I mean, there are so many more! - but there's no law saying you can't add articles. Watch Rachel Maddow tell Keith what fun the impeachment of Cheney could be. Thomas Nephew has a good question: "If Ron Paul is so great... why did he vote against the impeachment position in each of the three votes about Kucinich's impeachment resolution today?"

Meanwhile, Errington Thompson says we should impeach both George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney for torture and wiretapping.

Dave Neiwert owes John Wyndham an apology, I think, but I enjoyed "Village of the Damned Idiots" all the same. On a more serious note, I've wondered why almost nothing has been said (since Joe Biden's original outburst) about the fact that when you torture "the enemy", you are doing evil to your own troops. But then, I've been astonished that leading Dems spend so little time altogether highlighting all the terrible things this administration has been doing to our troops.

Echidne reads and reviews Susan Faludi's The Terror Dream: Fear And Fantasy in Post-9/11 America - and notices something odd about the other reviews of the book.

Piracy not raiding CD sales" The enforcement arm of the Australian music industry has dismissed damaging overseas research that found illegal music sharing actually increased CD sales. The study, conducted by two researchers at the University of London for the Canadian Government, found people downloaded songs illegally because they wanted to hear them before buying or because they were not available in stores."

Gorgeous pictures of Iran. (If you have the time, let me heartily recommend that you hit the "Slideshow" button and see them all. Picasa seems to run faster and more smoothly than Flickr, too.)

14:39 GMT

Assorted links

Gosh, Scott Horton has been delving into the archives and learned that George Bush has been "not torturing" since 1967. (via)

Somerby and Digby do a duet about Matthews' and Russert's announcement that Social Security is a ponzi scheme. This is an old right-wing talking point (meaning it's a lie).

While it's true that business, seeing which way the wind is blowing, is donating big to Democrats these days, the propensity of the media to portray the Democrats as the party of the rich sounds more like a right-wing smear than a fact, Diane Feinstein notwithstanding.

Jerome Corsi and other Regnery authors are suing the company, "charging that the company deprives its writers of royalties by selling their books at a steep discount to book clubs and other organizations owned by the same parent company." However, as Oliver Willis notes, their whole publishing empire depends on the appearance of sales brought about by this scam.

Kentucky goes seriously blue in most races today, despite the incumbent Republican governor's dirty efforts. Big reversal, there.

Keith Olbermann's Special Comment on George Bushís Criminal Conspiracy of Torture.

It should be a big story that Ron Paul just out-raised all of the other Republican candidates for the quarter, thanks to the Guy Fawkes one-day online fundraising stunt by his supporters. But it's not. Glenn Greenwald discusses The Ron Paul phenomenon.

Separated at birth (we don't call him "Benito" fer nothin'.)

Rolling Stone's Almost Impossible Rock & Roll Quiz (via)

03:29 GMT

Tuesday, 06 November 2007


Man, the weirdest thing has been going on in Congress. Dennis Kucinich presented his privileged resolution* to impeach Cheney, and Steny Hoyer moved to table (which in American means kill it), and Republicans were voting to table... and then Republicans started changing their votes. Suddenly the motion to table was losing. After more than an hour, they finally gaveled it. So now Steny is calling the question to send it to the Judiciary Committee. You can watch it here.

Update: Kagro X explains what it all means. The assumption is that Conyers will let the bill die in committee. This didn't used to be true, but it looks like Pelosi had gotten to Conyers. Now would be a good time to hammer them both.

Update II: From Rachel Maddow's blog:

We called John Conyers's office and they wrote us back just a few minutes later:

"The Committee has a very busy agenda - over the next two weeks, we hope to pass a FISA bill, to vote on contempt of Congress citations, pass legislation on prisoner re-entry, court security and a variety of other very important items. We were surprised that the minority was so ready to move forward with consideration of a matter of such complexity as impeaching the Vice President. The Chairman will discuss today's vote with the Committee members but it would seem evident that the committee staff should continue to consider, as a preliminary matter, the many abuses of this Administration, including the Vice President."

And here's who to send those nice, polite requests to. (Thanks to Jelperman for the reminder.)

Meanwhile, when Freeway Bloggers go bad... Freewayblogcalypse Now

21:18 GMT

Links to watch out for

Kos: "Oh, NOW they're Democrats?" Yes, when GOP policies affect them personally, they suddenly realize that they want the government to provide help. And BarbinMD: Schumer Op-Ed: A Pitiful Defense For His Mukasey Vote.

Yank in London finds a really stupid interview with the Kuciniches. It is unlikely that the interviewer will be fired, alas.

How on earth can Norm Coleman be ahead of Al Franken in a Minnesota?

"Battle over PATRIOT Act appeal brews as critical testimony is gagged: The government has appealed a September federal court ruling that struck down the National Security Letter (NSL) provision of the PATRIOT Act. The NSL provision, which can be used without probable cause or judicial oversight, gives the FBI the ability to secretly demand access to the private records of libraries, Internet service providers, and other organizations. National Security Letters also impose gag restrictions on recipients, which forbid them from disclosing that they have received the letter." (And someone's created a solar jacket to charge your accessories while you move, much like that backpack I mentioned a month or three ago.)

Steve Clemons notes that nearly everyone in the world disagrees with current US policy on Cuba - except Hillary Clinton.

Media Matters notes that Mark Halperin claimed that an article in The Chicago Sun-Times about Obama was based oppo info from the Clinton campaign, although he never even called the author to check - and she says no, it wasn't.

Via Eschaton, I see that the nominee for funniest weblog isn't very funny - one of their more notable pranks involved hounding a dying man into the grave. Nothing could make up for that, but I agree with Thers that it's a good reason to vote for Jon or Sadly, No!, just to make sure the creepy freeper doesn't win.

Note: I normally don't ask for money because I'm pretty sure that most US politics bloggers don't have the National Health, and therefore might tend to need your donations more than I do. That doesn't mean I don't need money, (These days the dentist gets everything), it just means that it's not urgent in my case. However, in a fit of pique, I have demoted the PayPal button because they changed it to an unauthorized color and offended me, and there doesn't seem to be any option to change it. If you can find it over there on the right somewhere, do feel free to fill the tip jar. On the other hand, if you're doing triage, there are a number of people on my blogroll who are much closer to the edge, so I'd ask you to consider them first.

19:43 GMT

News and analysis

"I'm just marching you at gunpoint so the leprechauns don't harass you" - Amanda Marcotte spells out some more forced-pregnancy strategy coming from the anti-life activists in Wisconsin, where they want to "protect" women from being able to make their own reproductive choices.

Paul Krugman is worried that the Democrats are all wobbly and might go the way of Al Smith, "the great reformist governor of New York, who gradually turned into a narrow-minded economic conservative and bitter critic of F.D.R. H.L. Mencken explained it thusly: 'His association with the rich has apparently wobbled him and changed him. He has become a golf player.'" Some of them are already there.

At A Tiny Revolution, Jonathan Schwarz discusses the fact that invaders are always greet with flowers by someone. Sometimes in all sincerity, and sometimes as a way of sweetening up the new boss. (Remember the old man in Catch-22 explaining how Italy survives?) At MoJo, Jon discusses what it would mean if Webb's Iran position were passed as law. (Update here. Only 30 Senators were willing to sign it his letter - though one was Feinstein. None were Republicans.)

William Greider in The San Francisco Chronicle, "Too big to fail? Now that this institution has slid into deep trouble and Rubin has been appointed emergency chairman to rescue it, Democrats inherit the stink. They made this mess possible. Will they now accept the meaning of Citigroup gone sour and begin to undo the damage? That is, undertake reform of the financial system in fundamental ways? I doubt it, though the message is obvious." (Thanks to ron in comments for the tip.)

Oh, look who is leaping to the defense of the telecoms breaking the law - John Ashcroft. Not really a surprise, since this policy came under his watch and is just his sort of thing.

Just about every crackpot wingnut theory you've heard is believed by someone, but some people believe all of them. D at Lawyers, Guns and Money tells us about one in "The Moon Landing Was Faked, Too...."

Disney dumbs down Baby Einstein.

17:58 GMT

From the notebook

Larry Johnson, "Urgent: Letter from Intelligence, Military, Diplomatic, and Law Enforcement Professionals: A group of distinguished intelligence and military officers, diplomats, and law enforcement professionals delivered an urgent message this morning to the chairman and the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, calling on them to hold the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey until he takes a clear position on the legality of waterboarding. Their message strongly endorses the view of former judge advocates general that waterboarding "is inhumane, is torture, is illegal." The intelligence veterans added it is also a notoriously unreliable way to acquire accurate information." Schumer has a flimsy excuse for voting for Mukasey in the NYT; Marty Lederman explains why it's a load of rubbish. (via) John Cole gave the appropriate response to the Jack Bauer question a few weeks ago. (via)

Scott Horton explains that Pakistan was the true key battleground in the war on terror, and it's been blown, big-time. But you knew that. He also says that even he is shocked by The Justice Departmentís Culture of Torture.

A CNN poll finds that a majority of Americans say waterboarding is torture, and the government should not use it. Well, that's a relief. (via)

"Unforgiven: Why is Clarence Thomas so angry?" - Jeffrey Toobin reviews Thomas' book about how brutally abused he has been by evil liberals who dare to ask him questions.

Dennis Kucinich is now way out ahead of Al Gore in the DFA poll.

16:27 GMT

News and announcements

Arthur Silber draws our attention to an outrageous overreaction at a high school where students are being suspended and expelled for staging a peaceful sit-in (where they were cooperating with the authorities!). "Students report that they were promised that there would be no charges besides cutting classes if they took their protest outside so as not to disturb the school day. The students complied, and were led to a corner outside the cafeteria where they sang songs and held signs while classes resumed." I mean, they weren't even being all that civilly disobedient, but they're still being punished. Arthur says sign this petition. Do it now, the appeals are being heard today.

Libby is right, and I should have given it a higher profile when I linked it: Walter "Freedom Fries" Jones' bill to limit the executive under the War Powers Act should be another of those things that you write to the media and your legislators about to say that this should be passed. And, hey, it's bipartisan! David Broder, take note.

Knowing that Eliot Spitzer has seriously been flirting with Real ID is really disheartening. I realize he's been Lou Dobbsed out of the wise move, which was just to continue to allow undocumented immigrants to get drivers' licenses, but jeez. (I don't think Edwards was much help, either.)

So, money and religion don't mix too well, in so many ways.

Channel 4 did a feature on Pakistanis blogging the dictatorship, with several links to Chapati Mystery, Yawar's blog, and All Things Pakistan.

11:49 GMT

Things to read

I'm glad that Glenn Greenwald is talking about Bush's war on journalists again. This is exactly the kind of thing you expect from an evil dictator:

In 2001, Sami al-Haj was working as a camerman for Al Jazeera when he was detained by the U.S. military in Afghanistan and then transferred to Guantanamo, where he has remained for the last six years without ever being accused of any involvement in terrorism. Instead, as Washington Monthly editor Rachel Morris detailed in her superb cover story in Columbia Journalism Review a few months ago, virtually all of al-Haj's interrogations focused on Al Jazeera and his detention was fueled at least in part by the Bush administration's contempt for Al Jazeera's reporting. I wrote about Morris' story and al-Haj's plight here.

For obvious reasons, it is highly disturbing that the U.S. Government imprisons journalists for years without bothering to charge them with any crime. The U.S. is doing the same with A.P. photojournalist Bilal Hussein. These aren't "prisoners of war" captured fighting on a battlefield, but rather, accredited journalists taking pictures and filming events that the U.S. Government dislikes.

They aren't the only ones, either. The administration's hostility to journalists has been clear from the very beginning of their occupation of the White House.

That was my reaction, too - When Bush warns about ignoring threats, the message couldn't be clearer. The longer this administration is allowed to get away with its lawlessness and oppressive police-state policies, the more danger we are in. (via)

So, now I know that Nora Ephron gets her opinions of Democratic candidates from Peggy Noonan. Be that as it may, she's right about Mukasey: It's the right thing to do.

01:03 GMT

Monday, 05 November 2007

Democracy on the march

The Angry Liberal: "OK, you have to admit, at least some of what's occurring in Pakistan sounds and/or looks very Bush/Cheney-esque, no? Disdain for "judicial activism," mocking the rule of law, playing to the hilt the threat of terrorism as reasons for displacing or ignoring the Constitution, warning the media to not "ridicule" the President, harsh crackdown on dissidents and those who dare oppose, etc."

Pakistan sounds like Cheney's wet-dream, to me. I mean, I keep reading things like this: "The White House plans to try implementing as much new policy as it can by administrative order while stepping up its confrontational rhetoric with Congress after concluding that President Bush cannot do much business with the Democratic leadership, administration officials said."

At Cabdrollery, Ruth says, "Democracy Must Be Regained Here So We Can Help It Return Abroad." America's founders believed that our country could best spread free democracy by providing a good example of it. The alternative isn't really working out very well, is it?

Still looking for presents for your right-wing relatives? Digby has a review up of The Conservatives Have No Clothes: Why Right-Wing Ideas Keep Failing. It sounds like it would make a great gift.

20:46 GMT

Political stew

Sara makes an important observation in her latest piece on Conservative Arrested Development Syndrome (CADS), "Who's your daddy?":

The issue of conservative sandbox behavior is a longstanding joke; but it's now evolving into a wide and serious discussion here on our side of the blogosphere. We talk about what it will mean to put the grown-ups in charge again; but an important part of being a grown-up is knowing how to effectively motivate and discipline children and keep family life from degenerating into The Lord of the Flies. We're starting to realize, at long last, that our country -- and perhaps the planet -- cannot survive with this pack of tantrum-throwing moral six-year-olds in charge. Yet we've been consistently, remarkably, frustratingly unable to muster the authority necessary to set strict boundaries and make them stick.

And that is, unfortunately, what's required here. Conservative brats are brought up to expect spankings -- and they don't respect any adult who they've decided isn't capable of dishing them out. In the conservative world, for reasons Rosenberg explains, respect equals fear. Unfortunately, being liberals, we don't parent that way. In our world, respect equals trust; and our methods -- docking allowances, grounding, heart-to-heart chats, and time-outs -- only work where that basic bond of respect and trust between parents and kids already exists. They make no impact at all on kids who are in open defiance (or are openly sociopathic), and thus really don't care what happens to themselves or you.

The conservatives don't respect or trust us, because they've reckoned we're not willing or able to give them the kind of strict discipline they crave.

Gee, I wonder where they would get that idea... Could it be the continuous funding of the occupation, the failure to pass legislation restricting executive overreach, the pronouncement that impeachment is off the table? (Undercover Blue has more thoughts.)

Matthew Yglesias also has some helpful advice:

It's remarkable the extent to which you almost never see leading Democrats articulate commonplace notions like "starting a war with Iran would be a strategic disaster for the United States," "expending finite resources investigating people who there's no probable cause to suspect is probably [sic] a waste of time," "we should focus on fighting al-Qaeda rather than other Muslims who haven't attacked us," "invading Iraq was a huge mistake," "Harry Truman and Franklin Roosevelt founded the UN because a strong UN is good for America," "getting other countries to follow non-proliferation agreements is going to require us to follow them too," or "reviving the Israeli-Arab peace process would make it easier for us to find Muslim allies." Now I'm not going to promise anyone that those exact phrases are ones it would be smart to use. But the ideas are important ones, and the real political professionals need to think about finding the best ways to express them.
Personally, I think the "real political professionals" have been doing a much worse job than you have, Matt. Maybe they should get some bloggers to do it for them, instead. Via Atrios.

Digby says more about Poppy's tearful moment, but it's even more than that. George Herbert Walker Bush become President of the United States - which really used to mean something - and his own son has made it mean so, so much less.

Why does Bush think that "time of war" is a reason to be particularly worried about not having an Attorney General? We all know that the last thing in the world he wants is an AG who will actually do his job. It's all just Bush playing the gimme what I want game.

16:03 GMT

Interesting times

The most depressing news I heard all week was that a polls showed that, in spite of everything, more than half of the American public now has the willies about Iran, despite the fact that there is no evidence that they have a nuclear weapons program,* and believe we should probably attack them. But, as Arthur says, "the trouble with propaganda is that it works."

Nicole Belle has posted a segment from Bill Moyers' Journal on how the media ignores public protest. You might also want to see the first segment, on Minority Media, which talks about both why we need local media for the different communities and the attempt by the Republicans in the FCC to pull a fast one and remove more restrictions on media conglomeration. And I see an update is posted on the site: "FCC Chairman Kevin Martin announced Friday that the Commission will hold the sixth and final public hearing on media consolidation next Friday (Nov. 9th) in Seattle, Washington. "The purpose of the hearing is to fully involve the public in the process ..." according to the announcement." (And you just know what's choking Poppy Bush up when he talks about how we didn't used to torture prisoners.) And via the blog round-up, DoggityBlog draws our attention to the New gay stereotype.

Teresa and Patrick each consider the threat of Giuliani.

I just want to say, "Grrrr." Whenever I hear a right-winger talk about "freedom" or "liberty", I reach for my dictionary. Ah, here it is.

12:42 GMT

Lotta links

I'm glad to see that Russ Feingold has announced that he will not support Mukasey. (More from Josh.)

Adolph Giuliani announced that he used to be a torturer when he was a federal prosecutor. PGL thinks he just provided a case to overturn some of his convictions. (Meanwhile, cactus wonders how we can blame Jimmy Carter, Pelosi, Soros, or similar, for the what's happening in Pakistan. And ILSM asks when being unAmerican became acceptable.)

Molly Ivors notes that MoDo is having more psychological problems with her Hillary fixation.

"Why Is Iran Importing Gasoline? Other oil-rich nations don't have to." Lee Hudson Teslik in Slate. (via)

Here's an interesting specialist weblog: Questioning Transphobia.

Walter Lippman's 1920 book Liberty and the News is being reissued by Princeton University Press, with a foreword by Ronald Steel and an afterword by Sidney Blumenthal.

Did Joel Stein plagiarize our friend Media Bloodhound in the LAT? Skippy investigates.

What's wrong with the rich.

Having the Olympics in your town is expensive and disruptive, and other things.

00:32 GMT

Sunday, 04 November 2007

Things I read today

The Extraordinary Question - Arthur Conan Doyle on waterboarding. (Illustration.) Thanks to HP in comments for the tip.)

Lieutenant Commander Matthew Diaz is a hero. Diaz knew the government wanted to keep the names of the detainees in Guantanamo secret, but also knew that was wrong. He had access to those names, printed out 39 pages of them, and sent them to the Center for Constitutional Rights. "There was nothing else that I could really do," he said. "I could have gone up the chain. But nothing I said would have ever left the island." The jury gave him six months and dismissal from the military; it could have been 13 years.

Good news from Afghanistan! they're growing pot instead of opium poppies.

Ellen Goodman on black helicopter parents: ""The culture of fear," according to Danah Boyd, a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, "says that if you are not monitoring, you are a bad parent. Apparently, we're supposed to be stalking our kids." Having privatized child raising, we seem to be turning parents into private eyes." I'm so glad I'm not a kid today. And I'm not sure I want to know what today's kids will be like when they become adults.

Some people might say that Jann Wenner's dismissal of Hunter Thompson's work after he left Rolling Stone is just a load of sour self-importance. And I might agree with them. Jeralyn the Mighty Defender advocates for Thompson and his work. (Also: Judges recommend new sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine be made retroactive. Plus, Obama has some splainin' to do..)

We want to feel good about not hurting the people we kill - but maybe we just shouldn't kill them.

Honest to gods, how are you supposed to pick the best one of these? (I can't. And yes, it's true that they are right-wing over there, anyway, and it's hard to care. On the other hand, there are these.)

17:44 GMT

A castle made of sand

Federal district judge John C. Coughenour had a good op-ed in the NYT the other day, "How to Try a Terrorist", reminding us that, "In 2001, I presided over the trial of Ahmed Ressam, the confessed Algerian terrorist, for his role in a plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport. That experience only strengthened my conviction that American courts, guided by the principles of our Constitution, are fully capable of trying suspected terrorists."

Molly Ivins' last book is released - Bill of Wrongs: The Executive Branch's Assault on America's Fundamental Rights. I think it'd make a great gift, don't you?

Scott Lemieux is trying to explain why the whole idea of school vouchers is a scam that can't work - unless your purpose is to keep most kids uneducated and force religious indoctrination on the rest. (Also: Robert Farley says, "I Can't Say Whether the Rack is Torture; I Haven't Been Briefed.")

There are only ten Senators who say they'll vote against Mukasey, and I want to know why Russ Feingold is not one of them.

John Rogers has been keeping a running diary of making a film while a strike impends, at Kung Fu Monkey. But for more straightfoward discussion, Mark Evanier (of course) knows the details, and explains here, here, here, and here. (And special bonus video: Harry Shearer's pastiche of the Beach Boys, "Waterboardin' USA".)

Well, I could have gone through life never wanting for it, but now that Susie Bright has mentioned that there is no Best Heterosexual Weblog category, I so want to win it, just because it's all so absurd.

(Yes, I messed up the link to Rising Sand.)

13:18 GMT

Out of order

Fantasie Ella braBra of the Week

Larry Johnson at No Quarter is no happier than he should be at DiFi and Schumer for caving on Mukasey: "I had always assumed that Jews who survived the Holocaust or the relatives of those who were murdered under the Nazi plan would understand the importance of standing against tyrants and torturers. And for the most part that has been true. But now we are confronted with the spectacle of two prominent Jewish American legislators who are enabling a President who has authorized torture. They have no shame." Kagro X is similarly unimpressed when DiFi "explains herself" in the LAT. Perhaps the Dead Kennedys said it best.

I almost forgot about Studs Terkel's article about the wiretapping suits he and the ACLU have launched - suits that would be mooted by retroactive immunity to the telecoms.

Keith Olbermann talked to John Dean about the great cave-in and the fact that one Jusitice Department official was forced out after saying that waterboarding was torture.

Like me, Bob Somerby thinks everyone is being too kind to Tim Russert, the man who wore a Bush campaign button inside his lapel in 2000, and called the election for Bush because his boss told him to, even though it was still, at best, too close to call. Russert's performance is clearly partisan, but why have so many people failed to say so?

Listen to Raising Sand, the new album by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

Gosh, I made it into a (not very impressive) category of the 2007 Weblogs Awards. Ah, what the hell, I don't see why I shouldn't say it: Vote for me!

00:17 GMT

Saturday, 03 November 2007

The steady drip, drip, drip

Bruce Schneier on The War on the Unexpected:

We've opened up a new front on the war on terror. It's an attack on the unique, the unorthodox, the unexpected; it's a war on different. If you act different, you might find yourself investigated, questioned, and even arrested -- even if you did nothing wrong, and had no intention of doing anything wrong. The problem is a combination of citizen informants and a CYA attitude among police that results in a knee-jerk escalation of reported threats.

This isn't the way counterterrorism is supposed to work, but it's happening everywhere. It's a result of our relentless campaign to convince ordinary citizens that they're the front line of terrorism defense. "If you see something, say something" is how the ads read in the New York City subways. "If you suspect something, report it" urges another ad campaign in Manchester, UK. The Michigan State Police have a seven-minute video. Administration officials from then-attorney general John Ashcroft to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff to President Bush have asked us all to report any suspicious activity.


Watch how it happens. Someone sees something, so he says something. The person he says it to -- a policeman, a security guard, a flight attendant -- now faces a choice: ignore or escalate. Even though he may believe that it's a false alarm, it's not in his best interests to dismiss the threat. If he's wrong, it'll cost him his career. But if he escalates, he'll be praised for "doing his job" and the cost will be borne by others. So he escalates. And the person he escalates to also escalates, in a series of CYA decisions. And before we're done, innocent people have been arrested, airports have been evacuated, and hundreds of police hours have been wasted.

Bruce says there are a couple of things we have to do to stop this, but anyone who has been watching the landscape for the last several years may already suspect that they aren't going to happen any time soon.

At The Newshoggers, shamanic said: "Armchair Generalist covers the revolt at State over forced deployments to Iraq. I guess the college Republicans they were sending over in 2003 graduated or something. Question for Right Blogtopia: does it mean that our career diplomats hates America? Of course!" Looks to me like another effort to push the more responsible, seasoned professionals out of the State Department - or kill them. (And a link in that same post leads me to a humorous report at Whatever It Is, I'm Against It: "This morning, Bush attended the 2007 Grocery Manufacturers Association/Food Products Association Fall Conference. Since itís Halloween, he went as a vegetable.")

16:27 GMT

I know this world is killin' you

The Metropolitan Police have been found guilty of making "19 catastrophic errors" leading to the death of Jean Charles de Menezes. Chicken Yogurt: "When something goes wrong, say for instance, an innocent man is shot in the head seven times and then smeared variously as a terrorist, drug dealer and rapist, how is it nobody's fault? How can you blame an organisation as if it suddenly gained sentience and moral agency?"

Bush's idea of protecting the American people obviously doesn't include actually protecting the American people, even with something so obvious as the water projects bill that passed easily with bipartisan support. "Republican and Democratic lawmakers said the veto showed Bush was out of touch with the American people and vowed to move forward with the bill." Bush has suddenly discovered a love of his veto power, but this time it looks like Congress has the votes to override. That vote is scheduled for Tuesday.

Gordon Brown goes down the once-rejected path of immigrant-bashing, reigniting fears of a Britain drowned in a deluge of immigrants. The lie is a popular one, but politicians are for some reason allergic to mentioning that the number of people who enter the UK is about the same as the number who leave.

Bill Clinton let off some steam about a misleading question Tim Russert asked Hillary during the debate in which he implied that the Clintons were trying to delay the release of documents from his administration, in order to cover up for Hillary, based on a letter involving President Clinton's request to speed up the release of those documents. (He's much too kind to Russert, actually. He has a record of habitually misleading the public - like, for example, that time he called the 2000 election for Bush even though he knew Gore had probably won.) Taylor Marsh attempted a criticism of Russert and had to work hard to get a word in between Dan Abrahms and a right-wing harpy. Meanwhile, Obama falsely suggests Hillary was playing the gender card when she talked up her all-women's college experience as having helped prepare her for getting into the boys' club world of politics. And Matt Stoller says, "Every President in History Has Played the Male Gender Card."

Helen tipped me off to this piece about Ann Coulter's fag-haggery, which, among other things, says something frightening about who her friends are. I don't mean that they're gay, I mean that they work for The New York Times and don't appear to take offense at the fact that she calls for their deaths in public.

Elvis Costello sings "Alison" live on Tony Wilson's What's On, circa 1977.

13:30 GMT

Friday, 02 November 2007

Bloggity blog

"Let's just be glad that John McCain is just an old Senator and not, y'know, a hostage negotiator." - Randi Rhodes.

I already knew Coulter was just lying about being a Christian, so this bit of hypocrisy doesn't surprise me. But then, she always seemed like a classic fag-hag type to me.

The Republicans' twisted priorities seem to be contagious.

Reid Admits He COULD Block Iraq Funds - But He WON'T. You know, I don't think Harry Reid is all that smart. (via)

Congratulations to John Cole for being a member of no organized political party. (I hate to tell you, though, you're wrong about 2008 being the most important election of your lifetime. That one, alas, was in 2000.)

The shadowy Gnome Liberation Front lays siege to an Oregon police station.

Sara sees good news and bad news on the evangelical front.

Religious nuts ruin Halloween with fake gospels.

Just how stupid is Peggy Noonan?

Lately I've been seeing these odd posters around central London.

On photography

23:30 GMT

Loose talk

Glenn Greenwald is curious about why members of Congress have so suddenly discovered that there might be something wrong with Mukasey. And Christy Hardin Smith is at the intersection of the Constitution and what's been passing for "normal" lately. And she's got phone numbers for Harry Reid and the judiciary committee.

Atrios often tells us that Michael Gerson is one of the stupidest people in America, so I guess that explains why he thinks you can support old-fashioned Christian values (the kind that help the poor and the sick) while doing nothing but enriching the wealthy. Don't know how you explain Huckabee and Bush. (BTW, I personally think that Democrats don't use the word "immoral" enough. They should talk about how Bush's policies - torture, kill, and starve - are immoral. That's what really looks unChristian - the fact that they never say it.)

As we recall, Rudy Giuliani recently made up a story about how if he'd been treated for prostate cancer in Britain, his survival chances would have virtually been cut in half. As it turns out, Britons' survival for prostate cancer is pretty close to Americans' - at half the cost. Now he's making up a similar story about breast cancer. Meanwhile, Rudy is finally to be investigated for his failure to properly equip New York firefighters with useful radio equipment (and then he lied about it.)

Greg Sargent says Right-Wing Bloggers Team Up With MoveOn Against Fox News in protest against their refusal to let others use their news footage in ads.

Support the Blackout boycott.

Thom Hartmann is always pointing out that the way to keep progressive radio on the air is to support the advertisers. I have to say that some of the ads I hear on AAR worry me, but the woman who sells silly gifts sounded okay to me. (I liked the bandaids.) I'm not really much of a wine-drinker, but the Organic Wine Company sounded non-toxic, too. (Tell me if this stuff actually tastes better than the other stuff.) Oh, wait, they do dessert wines - now you know what to bring me when you come to visit.

17:33 GMT

If you don't like the weather, wait a minute

Media BloodHound writes an Open Letter to WashPo Columnist David Ignatius after reading the unattributed statement that, "Bush administration officials, for all their bellicose rhetoric, still hope that diplomatic pressure -- backed by ever-tighter economic sanctions -- will persuade Iran to compromise." It's a good question, since no one believes this bollocks, no matter how often the administration tells journalists how hard they're trying to make diplomacy work.

America hates Fred Phelps: "BALTIMORE, Oct 31 (Reuters) - A jury on Wednesday ordered an anti-gay Kansas church to pay $2.9 million in compensatory damages to relatives of a U.S. Marine after church members cheered his death at his funeral." I've often felt it would be useful to always use the names "William Kristol", "Ann Coulter", and "Fred Phelps" together when talking about conservatives. Add "Fred Phelps" to all your sentences about conservatives! Remind people that they are all part of the same stew of disgusting creeps.

Bush spoke to the Heritage Foundation (the KKK was busy) and drew an amazing ovation for one of his comments: "Some in Washington should spend more time responding to the warnings of terrorists like Osama bin Laden, and the requests of our commanders on the ground, and less time responding to the demands of bloggers and Code Pink protesters." C&L has some video, but Rachel Maddow played the entire response to it on her show, and it goes on and on and on. (Listen to most recent Maddow show stream here, also worth it for the interview with John Nichols on the best reason for rejecting Mukasey - not torture, but his willingness to put a president above the law.) You can send a note to Congress opposing torture and dictatorship here.

I don't like the phrase "More and better Dems" - I mean, I'm very happy if you can elect a few more Bernie Sanderses to Congress, instead - but since there don't seem to be that many, any chance to unseat bad legislators and replace them with progressives works for me. Early money for Donna Edwards - a good Dem - could help us get rid of Al Wynne, a Bad Dem. Do what you can.

More Republican liars - Governor Matt Blunt (R-MO) illegally deleted a bunch of e-mails. His staff attorney tells him he's breaking the law, so of course Blunt fires him and his staff starts smearing him and claiming he never told him deleting e-mails was illegal. But he won't shut up. so they end up releasing a whole bunch of e-mails, and guess what they find?

Facebook Declares War on the Blogosphere - they told Jon Swift he can't use his fake name. But their policy seems to be...selective.

14:42 GMT

Just shut up

Man, you just can't mention Andrew Meyer without someone saying that it's really important for us to know that Meyer was obnoxious, Meyer was annoying, Mayer was out of line, etc. As soon as I posted a link on the latest story I started seeing it again, from people who point this out as if it's the first time we're hearing it. No, we heard it all the first time around, thanks.

Yes, activists who want to make a point are out of line and obnoxious and annoying and etc. They don't know their place. Or rather, I should say, we don't know our place. We interrupt. We make a fuss. We don't let the usual quiet funeral procession proceed to its pointless conclusion.

I'm actually pretty good at it - my improper interjections often get laughs, frequently drive trucks through the holes in other speakers' arguments - and then the opposition castigates me for interrupting. But my willingness to speak out of turn also means that I can be very effective; often, newspaper and magazine articles about debates I've participated in quote my snappy one-liners approvingly. That's why I get interviewed on radio and TV - because I know a cue when I hear one.

But unlike me, Andrew Meyer had been squeezed out of the debate altogether, and forbidden to ask his question. He jumped in anyway - he wasn't going to miss his chance. Frankly, I think that was smart.

Andrew Meyer asked an important question that should be a part of our public discourse. He had to be rude and annoying to ask it, because otherwise he wouldn't have been allowed to ask it at all. Why did Kerry concede the election when there was so much evidence of election fraud? We deserve to know. (True, Meyer messed it up by running on too long and adding the rubbish about Skull & Bones, but he's still relatively inexperienced, and lots of people mess it up the first time they get a big chance like that.)

People should be asking questions about what happened in Ohio every day, but they're not. Andrew Meyer did it for us. He may not have been the best vehicle for the question, but at least he got it asked.

And then the police illegally assaulted him, so we didn't get the answer.

Now, Charles has a pretty good post here about the details of the case, but he forgot that the police had no business interfering with Meyer because he was not breaking the law, so I left a comment. But it's important that people understand that it's completely uninteresting that Meyer was being obnoxious, because that's how people will always see you when you're challenging power - and that's what the First Amendment is for. Remember? You don't need a law to protect speech that everybody agrees with.

Andrew Meyer refused to be shut out. Good on him. Bad on the rest of you who don't understand how necessary that is to a free democracy.

02:34 GMT

Thursday, 01 November 2007

And I'm having a lazy day...

...listening to Gary U.S. Bonds.

The New York Times thinks Mukasey is bad because of his torture "answers", and brave Senators won't confirm him. They don't say anything about filibustering, of course, but what would be the point? As they note, "There seems to be little chance that Mr. Bush will appoint the sort of attorney general that the nation needs, a job that includes enforcing voting rights laws and civil rights laws and ensuring that criminal prosecutions are done fairly." And in the meantime, there is a completely creepy acting AG doing - or rather, not doing - the job. If the NYT really meant it, they'd be writing editorials advocating that Congress do the only thing that can stop these monsters: Impeach them all.

Greg Sargent is keeping a chart of where Senators stand on the Mukasey vote. You might want to make a few calls.

Ruth reckons next year's scary Halloween costume could be Supreme Court robes, given their apparent ease with putting red tape and weird abstractions above real human lives.

Julia suggests that Tom Lantos has a right to be a little bit testy about the Holocaust.


17:20 GMT

Notes from all over

A GOP legislator got a liberal blogger fired from The Cleveland Plain Dealer's partisan blogging group (two from each side) - for being partisan. And now they claim that the firing was not a result of pressure from the Congressman.

Dennis Kucinich questions Bush's sanity.

How depressing. From "Don't tase me, bro!" to I love Big Brother.

Josh Marshall surmises that removing the Social Security cap now is a bad idea. He's right. What we really need to do is get rid of all the Bush/Reagan tax cuts and stop making an expensive mess in the Middle-East.

E.J. Graff is doing a TPM Cafe discussion on the ENDA debate, "Trannies & lezzies & gays, oh my".

From Amygdala, How to really take down Hugo Chavez, why they need to spy on lawyers in Guantanamo, and the Jewish Taliban. And via Gary, one I missed: "Old Enough Now to Ask How Dad Died at War".

The true meaning of Halloween

A tribute to designer Paul Rand, whose logos you are familiar with. Via Boing Boing.

Never know what to give your right-wing family members for Christmas? Well, this would make a great gift.

Dawali photos - I thought this and this would make nice wallpaper.

11:48 GMT

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, November 2007

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