The Sideshow

Archive for October 2005

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Monday, 31 October 2005 . . . . . Happy Halloween


It's been a busy day, but I can hardly let it pass without my verdict on the nominee.

Bush Selects Alito for Supreme Court

Unlike Roberts, he has opined from the bench on both abortion rights, church-state separation and gender discrimination to the pleasure of conservatives and displeasure of liberals.
While he has been dubbed "Scalito" by some lawyers for a supposed affinity to conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and his Italian-American heritage, most observers believe that greatly oversimplifies his record.

Alito is considered far less provocative a figure than Scalia both in personality and judicial temperament. His opinions and dissents tend to be dryly analytical rather than slashing.

So, it's the difference between saying, "I'm afraid you're going to have to lose your rights," and "Nyaa! Nyaa! Nyaa!" - they mean the same thing, but one is so much more polite. And if you're low-key enough (just don't wear the sheet in public!), no one notices you're a raving loony:
Rather, liberals are likely to focus on his opinions and dissents, most notably in the 1991 case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

In that case, Alito joined a Third Circuit panel in upholding most of a Pennsylvania law imposing numerous restrictions on women seeking abortions. The law, among other things, required physicians to advise women of the potential medical dangers of abortion and tell them of the alternatives available. It also imposed a 24-hour waiting period for abortions and barred minors from obtaining abortions without parental consent.

The panel, in that same ruling, struck down a single provision in the law requiring women to notify their husband's before they obtained an abortion. Alito dissented from that part of the decision.

Ah, not just a loony, but a pig! Oh, wait, that's pretty much par for the course, isn't it?
The case ultimately reached the Supreme Court, which upheld the appeals court decision, disagreed with Alito and also used the case to reaffirm its support for Roe v. Wade , the 1973 decision legalizing abortion.

On the spousal notification provision, O'Connor wrote for the court that it did indeed constitute an obstacle. The "spousal notification requirement is . . . likely to prevent a significant number of women from obtaining an abortion," she wrote.

And this is the guy who is intended to replace her.

Angry Bear notes that he was not so hot on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), either:

In 2000, Alito authored an opinion in which he ruled that the FMLA was an instance of unconstitutional congressional overreach. In particular, he said that the FMLA was unconstitutional because there was no evidence for the notion that women are disadvantaged in the workplace when they are not allowed to take family leave.
Making him either a crackpot or a liar - but then, we already know he's a crackpot. In fact, he's a perfect representative of the Retaliban Party.

Bill Scher, over at the HuffPo, says, "What's Samuel Alito's trademark? Hostility to equality."

Think Progress has a nasty list of the kind of opinions this far-right whacko holds and what rights he would overturn. We get sexism, racism, anti-family bollocks, the whole nine yards. This guy even supports strip-searching people without a warrant or any authorization. I mean, seriously. Why? The Green Knight explains:

In Doe v. Groody, Alito argued that police officers had not violated constitutional rights when they strip searched a mother and her ten-year-old daughter while carrying out a search warrant that authorized only the search of a man and his home.
Because, clearly, the wife and daughter were part of his home, i.e., they were his property.
Harry Reid said Democrats would fight if Alito was nominated, but Republicans (including Lindsay Graham of the Gang of 14) are threatening the nuclear option if they filibuster.

Atrios notes that a lot of what happens next depends on whether Arlen Specter has principles - and he really doesn't. Pretty much everyone agrees that this should be a big fight, Democrats can't lie down for this one. Harry Reid's statement is promising but they've failed to notice before when they have no choice but to fight. Right now we're hearing the sounds, though.

The Republicans are going to try to pretend this guy is not an extremist, but he really is, you know. We knew this was going to happen, didn't we, boys and girls?

Gotterdammerung it is, says Ezra Klein.

19:28 GMT

Dangerous secrets

The New York Times this morning reports that the study on the false excuse used to expand the Vietnam war - the Gulf of Tonkin incident - won't be released. That's been going on for a while, of course:

The National Security Agency has kept secret since 2001 a finding by an agency historian that during the Tonkin Gulf episode, which helped precipitate the Vietnam War, N.S.A. officers deliberately distorted critical intelligence to cover up their mistakes, two people familiar with the historian's work say.
Sounding familiar? Some other people thought so, too:
Mr. Hanyok's findings were published nearly five years ago in a classified in-house journal, and starting in 2002 he and other government historians argued that it should be made public. But their effort was rebuffed by higher-level agency policymakers, who by the next year were fearful that it might prompt uncomfortable comparisons with the flawed intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq, according to an intelligence official familiar with some internal discussions of the matter.
But here's what makes it a news story now:
Matthew M. Aid, an independent historian who has discussed Mr. Hanyok's Tonkin Gulf research with current and former N.S.A. and C.I.A. officials who have read it, said he had decided to speak publicly about the findings because he believed they should have been released long ago.

"This material is relevant to debates we as Americans are having about the war in Iraq and intelligence reform," said Mr. Aid, who is writing a history of the N.S.A. "To keep it classified simply because it might embarrass the agency is wrong."

But then, the whole of history is an embarrassment to this administration, because looking at it - any of it - shows you how absolutely ghastly their policies are.

13:14 GMT

Season's greetings

Yes, it's that day again, and time for another moment of garish, clashing orange celebration. I just love the whole pumpkin holiday, even though it doesn't go with my decor.

I'm sure glad I got a dig in at Spikey Isikoff before it became popular. But now he's at it again, the little dear.

I Was a Teenage Prostitute (and it was kind of great) (via).

The charm of corporate decision-making, Big Tobacco edition.

Howard Dean: This is not only an abuse of power, it is an un-American abuse of the public trust. As Americans, we must hold ourselves and our leaders to a higher standard. We cannot fear dissent. We cannot fear the truth. And we cannot tolerate those who do. Via Dohiyi Mir.

All the President's Men Again (with casting by Michael Bérubé).

Jonathan V. Last wrote it, and Dr. Eric Alterman says: Is peace, in fact, unpatriotic? Is being a "Mr. Kiss-up and kick-down" an "American value?" What Durbin compared was torture to torture. Is Last pro-torture? Is he being "Stupid on Purpose"? I don't know his work well enough to say, but he sure is being stupid.

And speaking of stupidity, it now appears that Libby is going for The Stupidity Defense, an old Republican favorite.

Paul Richter in the LAT, Case not closed on Cheney's role: Vice President Dick Cheney appears as no more than a background character in the indictment of his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Yet even that secondary role raises questions about whether Cheney played any part in the alleged effort to discredit an administration critic. Via Faithful Progressive.

I see the WaPo is aiding and abetting again: Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby should be the final proof that the system of "special prosecutors" is bankrupt and ought to be abandoned. Of course, the article is by "Washington lawyers who served in the Justice Department during the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush." The Republicans hate special prosecutors because criminals don't like being prosecuted. Via The Democratic Daily Blog.

03:23 GMT

Sunday, 30 October 2005

Hope springs eternal

For much of the country, Katrina has been a real turning point, but in the press corps, it was just a partial moment of reality, and then they went back to being the same as ever. Can something change that? E.J. Dionne says of the entire Miers nomination and withdrawal saga:

This has been a powerfully instructive moment. The willingness of conservatives to abandon what they had once held up as high and unbending principles reveals that this battle over the Supreme Court is, for them, a simple struggle for power. It is thus an unfortunate reminder of the highly unprincipled Supreme Court decision in 2000 that helped put Bush in the White House. Conservatives who had long insisted on deference to states' rights put those commitments aside when doing so would advance the political fortunes of one of their own.

Miers will recover from all this in a way Bush and the conservatives will not. She has suffered collateral damage caused by a president who did not understand the degree to which his power has eroded and did not grasp the nature of the movement that elected him. And conservatives will come to regret making their willingness to contradict their own principles plain for all to see.

I dunno, we've all seen that happen a number of times. But maybe Dionne is right - he's in the middle of a milieu that is stuck in it's own little reality but has massive influence on what goes on. If the Washington press corps is finally beginning to see through the RNC smokescreen, enough to say so out loud, well.... Fingers crossed.

20:59 GMT

Trick or treat

It is almost weird that Michael Kinsley is so unutterably lame so often. Friday, he was explaining (in a jocular and pseudo-hip way, of course!) that the whole Traitorgate case is just too confusing. At Fafblog (where they're celebrating All Hallow's Eve in their own delightful way), Medium Lobster has a bit of fun with Mr. Kinsley before helping out with the hard work of understanding this complicated story: "White House staffers leaked a covert CIA agent's name to the press in an attempt to discredit a critic of the flawed intelligence used to support the Iraq War." (Years from now, Kinsley will be in a special Home for Bewildered Reporters where Spikey is still straining his brain over the complications of another "murky" story, because no one bothered to tell him: "Someone embezzled from the Clintons.")

You do, of course, read everything Elton Beard writes (they're short, after all), but reading this I once again returned to the thought that when Bush said, "Crusade," it wasn't even remotely an unintentional error.

You also read Through the Looking Glass routinely, of course, but I had more amusement over Tom Friedman's formulation of the legitimacy of the ruling Communist Party in China.

From the excellent Digby: I have no doubt that Karl and Scooter gave their bosses complete assurance that the press would never talk. They wouldn't have received any more official leaks on background if they didn't and then they would have to do real reporting. Nobody could imagine such a thing. And a nice one from Tristero.

Travis alerts us to the continuing discussion of why, more than any other state, Utah is still in denial about Bush's miserable failure as a leader, despite the fact that even some Republicans have been Breaking Ranks.

Axed TV Series "Firefly" Tops's Greatest Ever Space Sci-Fi Poll (via)

16:00 GMT

Send these hacks to Siberia

Atrios posted two pieces last night with quotes and links that really underline the tremendous amount of inexplicable hackery that is polluting our public discourse. In this post, he links to R.J. Eskow at the Huffington Post on Bob Woodward, who went on Larry King and produced a whole package of administration falsehood including the indefensible claim that:

They did a damage assessment within the CIA, looking at what this did that Joe Wilson's wife was outed. And turned out it was quite minimal damage. They did not have to pull anyone out undercover abroad. They didn't have to resettle anyone. There was no physical danger of any kind and there was just some embarrassment.
Atrios also notes in the same post an article in yesterday's WaPo saying CIA Yet to Assess Harm From Plame's Exposure ("The CIA has not conducted a formal damage assessment, as is routinely done in cases of espionage and after any legal proceedings have been exhausted.")

But Woodward's performance wasn't just full of lies. It also revealed a level of "access" that shows a much deeper level of disease:

On Larry King Thursday he put in a fiercely partisan performance on behalf of the Administration that's provided content for his last two best-sellers, taking on any panelist who deviated from GOP spin (transcript).

He cited highly classified information, which raises a number of disturbing questions - including who gave it to him and why. He also said, "I'm trying to do a book on the Bush second term. " Bob, it shows.

King's introduction cited Woodward's "remarkable access" in the Bush White House. But what's so remarkable? Woodward writes novelizations of government spin in a simple quid pro quo: He makes lots of money and his subjects get to see their stories, however fanciful, presented as page-turning fact. There's no proof his Tenet/Bush "slam-dunk" conversation ever took place, but it's a perfect example of how Woodward works: he got a best seller, Bush got a re-election, and Tenet got the Medal of Freedom.

(I'm glad Eskow pointed out the questionable provenance of the "slam-dunk" story. I've always thought it was remarkable that no one seems to question this tale, given that it contradicts everything we know about what was going on at that time.)

I think it's time to demand an explanation from The Washington Post for the fact that Bob Woodward has not yet been fired. Since he is obviously working for the administration rather than to inform the public, he should be getting his paycheck from the RNC and not from the newspaper.

Atrios' Wanker of the Day is a Democratic political hack, whose odious behavior has irritated me for many years. From BTC News, We got the government Lanny Davis deserves:

If you're looking for an argument in favor of overthrowing the Democratic party old guard, you won't do better than the one Clinton White House counsel Lanny Davis advances in his bizarre New York Times op-ed piece today.

Assuming it's not a parody, the stomach-churning essence of the argument is that crime is now indistinguishable from politics. While Davis admonishes Republicans for their "criminalizing politics" mantra, he likewise chastises Democrats for finding an indifference to national security in the Plame leak.

Similarly, the Democrats are playing up the idea that White House officials may have endangered national security in playing hardball politics. Well, I can remember all the times I picked up the phone and talked "on background" to reporters, "pushing back" against rumors damaging to President Clinton and citing information that I thought was "out there." I don't remember ever worrying about whether the facts that I felt were public knowledge might have been classified. But even if I had, I would probably have rationalized that anything I had heard on the grapevine couldn't possibly be a state secret. If every political aide was prosecuted for those kinds of conversations with the press corps, I'm afraid there wouldn't be enough jails to hold us.
Maybe Davis didn't have time to read the Libby indictment before he submitted his article; given what he says about his own carelessness as White House counsel, that's not out of the question. Whether he did or not, the cynicism and dishonesty he packs into that single paragraph is breathtaking (and the rest of the piece is worse).

The information about Plame wasn't "out there:" it was about as far "in there" as one can get without resorting to a proctologist to get it out. It was in the vice president's office, the state department's intelligence branch and the CIA. Libby wasn't "pushing back" against rumors: he was "screwing" an administration critic for so publicly "discrediting" an already rickety core administration "claim" about Iraq that the White House felt compelled to "renounce" it. And if every senior White House official - calling Cheney's chief of staff and national security advisor a "political aide" is pretty cute - who learned the identity of a covert CIA agent from the vice president of the United States and promptly leaked it to the press was prosecuted, I suspect our jails could handle the traffic with room to spare for Davis if he did anything even remotely as sinister as that. With a bit of luck, we'll find out.

Indeed, if Davis had done anything remotely similar from the Clinton White House, the Republicans would have had him in the dock pretty damn quick, and he'd still be in jail - if he hadn't already been executed.

The fact is that since 9/11, Republicans have mouthed off an awful lot about things that should remain secret. Orrin Hatch's public statement to the press that we had intelligence gleaned from listening to phone calls between bin Laden supporters alerted the terrorists to stop using those phones, for example. And then there was the fact that, solely for the sake of politics, the White House exposed - and destroyed - an investigation in Pakistan that some believe might have prevented the London bombings had it not been blown for political purposes:

Similarly, the administration announced the arrest in Pakistan of a senior al-Qaeda operative, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, wanted for organizing the 1998 suicide bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, on the third day of the Democratic convention, and three weeks after the The New Republic weekly quoted Pakistani intelligence officials as saying the White House had asked them to announce the arrest or killing of any "high-value [al-Qaeda] target" any time between July 26 and 28, the first three days of the Democratic Convention. At the time, former CIA officer Robert Baer said the announcement made "no sense." "To keep these guys off-balance, a lot of this stuff should be kept in secret. You get no benefit from announcing an arrest like this."'
But the current GOP tendency to blare sensitive intelligence information across the headlines is notable for the fact that it is unusual. I've been reading the papers for a few decades now and I can't recall a time when we had this kind of thing receiving ink at all, let alone announced by our public officials. If Lanny Davis thinks this is indistinguishable from the kind of information that is normally "out there", he has a very strange sense of proportion.

We don't need anyone trying to promote the idea that it's all just hunky-dory to expose on-going intelligence operations like this. And we certainly don't need people doing it while supposedly representing the Democratic Party. (But then, Davis has spent an awful lot of time acting as an administration apologist.) What we need is people who can call a spin a spin, not someone who helps the Republicans spin it.

[Update: Farber watches This Weak and sees more hackery.]

11:58 GMT

Saturday, 29 October 2005

The heart of the beast

Robert Parry on 'Plame-gate' & Myth of the Renegade Aide:

One of the common myths of official Washington is that most political scandals result from overly aggressive aides operating out of control - the Watergate "third-rate burglary" or Iran-Contra's "men of zeal" - with top officials getting in trouble only later by trying to cover the mess up.

But the reality - which is relevant again amid the probe into the outing of a CIA officer - is that a principal official is almost always lurking somewhere in the background of the original crime, sending signals or pulling strings with the expectation that, if caught, a subordinate will take the fall.

One of the other things we don't want to admit is that really bad people can be running the US government. I noticed back when I used the Napolean-Clarke Law - "Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice" - that an awful lot of people latched onto it as a way to get out of having to acknowledge the possibility that it might actually be malice. The point of the law is that you can't tell, and the reason you can't tell is that both are possible.

But, look, if "a few bad apples" can be at the bottom, they can certainly be at the top. And it stands to reason that bad people who are interested in power would try to reach the top. And maybe it's that power corrupts, or maybe it's that the corrupt reach for power and some of them know how to get it, but it really does happen, it has happened in every nation in history, and it's silly to think that we just happen to be in a time and place that is immune to it.

So before you fall for the idea that the mess we're in can be explained away by mere incompetence, just ask yourself why it is that the "mistakes" this crowd makes always seem to profit them and just happen to fit in neatly with their publicly stated agenda. And don't forget that in the one thing that matters to Bush, he did put a very competent expert in place - Karl Rove. Yeah, Rove may have blown it with Traitorgate, but he made sure Bush was a two-termer - and if Rove has to fall on his sword, well, that's just fine as long as Bush doesn't finally have to take responsibility for something.

See, to the conservative movement, improving the lives of a majority of Americans isn't merely a pipe-dream, a failed liberal project - it's a mistake. That's why conservatives have spent the whole of the existence of the United States trying to return us to something resembling monarchy. Everything they do is aimed at strengthening those at the top and weakening the rest of us. They want your life to be hard; they like it like that.

So they spend their time spreading division and hate. They twist the language and twist thought with it. They have whole cadres of people who are dedicated to that task, and they are perfectly competent at it. The write whole books for the purpose, and have websites that are little more than outlets for talking points and venom. Peter Daou (who really has fought real terrorists) on three websites that are Sliming the Quakers:

I find this rash of posts suggesting that anti-war activists "celebrate" the deaths of American soldiers to be both tragic and telling. Tragic, because it represents a descent into depraved, gutter-level slander as a form of argumentation, and it is a profoundly un-American approach to a most American of activities: dissent. Telling, because it means these bloggers have nothing left to justify the deaths of Americans in Iraq but desperate and transparent attacks on those who want our troops home.
And isn't it interesting that a group who rely so heavily on the canard that they and they alone hold the monopoly on Christian faith are attacking the Quakers, of all people, for being against the war?

(And hey, Peter, if you want gutter-level, check out what David Neiwert found.)

When you get a confluence of racists, power-mad loonies, war-mongers, robber barons, leering frat-boys, thugs and con-men together, it's not that big a stretch to suspect that maybe they really are bad people. I mean, that's what these kind of people do: Become Republican. (via)

Update: Kevin Marony in comments:

Minor clarification: The point of Napoleon-Clarke's law is not, I think, "that you can't tell". The point is, past a certain level, incompetence becomes malice--negligence to the point of criminality.

15:51 GMT

Political landscape

The Rude Pundit on Patrick Fitzgerald: The Grown-Up in the Room: When Patrick Fitzgerald finally spoke today, he spoke as the grown-up, the one who decided to put to rest all the lies and misconceptions about what actually occurred not only to Valerie Wilson, but the nation as a whole. Said Fitzgerald at his press conference explaining his indictment of Irving Lewis "Scooter" Libby on five charges related to the investigation of the leak of Wilson's name, "Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer. In July 2003, the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified...Valerie Wilson's cover was blown in July 2003." See that? He's stating as fact something that he knows, not supposing, not amending.

In their continuing effort to suck up to the Bush regime, CBS has appointed someone so dumb that he contributed to the 2004 Bush campaign as their head of news. Now, that's not the odd part. The odd part is that CBS refuses to comment.

CNN didn't wait long to start their right-wing campaign to put the blame on Joe Wilson. And they might convince a few people, as long as they ignore the facts. (The Washington Post tried to ignore them, and earned a letter from Joe and Valerie's lawyer.)

Libby's replacement, David Addington, has a rep as "a real piece of work." (via)

World Can't Wait was apparently started by a bunch of kids. I can't say they're wrong about the need to "Drive out the Bush regime."

And we've all been so busy watching Fitzgerald and the administration that I almost didn't notice this little piece of good news: A US appeals court upheld an injunction against Georgia's voter ID law: The ruling allows thousands of Georgians who do not have government-issued identification, such as driver's licenses and passports, to vote in the Nov. 8 municipal elections without obtaining a special digital identification card, which costs $20 for five years.

Creepy cat-blogging

This is kind of neat, even if you're not a total geek.

04:31 BST

Friday, 28 October 2005

Stalking the news

Wow. Josh Marshall found the blood:

Overlooked in the current discussion.

Go to page 5 of the indictment. Top of the page, item #9.

On or about June 12, 2003, LIBBY was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson's wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Division. LIBBY understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA.

This is a crucial piece of information. The Counterproliferation Division (CPD) is part of the CIA's Directorate of Operations, i.e., not Directorate of Intelligence, the branch of the CIA where 'analysts' come from, but the DO, where the spies, the 'operatives' come from.

Libby's a long time national security hand. He knows exactly what CPD is and where it is. So does Cheney. They both knew. It's right there in the indictment.

Via Atrios, who also quotes Ted Kennedy on what it's all about. (More of that here.)

Someday Iraq may have a 3rd Amendment.

An amendment to the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2005 prevents nonprofit organizations from using the funding if "they have recently engaged in activities that encourage people to vote," according to The New Standard. Why Does Congress Not Want The Poor To Vote? wonders Cernig - but, c'mon, we know why Republicans don't want them to. (There seems to be some confusion about how many Dems actually voted for it, however.)

Bush Picks Perfect Supreme Court Candidate.

You know, some so-called grown-ups think they can say anything to kids.

Down in Dave Weis tipped me to another good cartoon in tribute to Rosa Parks, following a now-familiar theme.

23:08 BST

Still the tease

Cheney Adviser Indicted in CIA Leak Case

WASHINGTON - Vice presidential adviser I. Lewis "Scooter' Libby Jr. was indicted Friday on charges of obstruction of justice, making a false statement and perjury in the CIA leak case.

Karl Rove, President Bush's closest adviser, escaped indictment Friday but remained under investigation, his legal status a looming political problem for the White House.

You know Libby=Cheney & Rove, you just know it, and these three charges are not nearly all they should be hit for. Novak said two people spilled the beans to him, and Karl has admitted talking. There's lots left on the table. And Raw Story is saying that Karl was offered a perjury deal but turned it down.
Others may yet be indicted, lawyers close to the investigation say. While the media spotlight has focused on key White House advisors, officials outside the senior staff have also been fingered in the probe.

Sources close to the investigation say the probe will continue, and could expand to include other elements, including forged documents that purported to show Iraq had sought uranium from Niger.

Libby is a nice little stocking-stuffer, but I want at least a couple of bigger items under the tree.

18:21 BST


From the very, very beginning, I have always known that invading Iraq would be a disaster that couldn't be fixed. And that was even before I saw just exactly how very badly this bunch of criminals and maniacs would screw it up.

Oh, I knew that with great care and deliberation and a true dedication to improving things for the Iraqi people, it was possible, barely, that a seed could be nurtured that could set Iraq on the road to a less oppressive culture, but even with all that the chance was small. There were just so, so many things that could go wrong, and were all too likely to go wrong. I knew.

And I knew this administration had no understanding of those things and was incapable of doing it right. Their very philosophy precluded any possibility that they would understand the delicacy of knitting such a people together. And even the slightest misstep would guarantee that women lost their rights, that the different factions vying for power would launch strife against each other. There was never really a prayer of doing anything but making it oh, so much worse.

And then we learned about the looting, and that they had privatized half the US military functions, even brought in mercenaries, and meanwhile busted up local attempts to unionize.

And then there was Abu Ghraib. And there was Colin Powell, saying:

I also told [Arab leaders] that, in their disappointment about America right now: Watch America. Watch how we deal with this. Watch how America will do the right thing. Watch what a nation of values and character, a nation that believes in justice, does to right this kind of wrong. Watch how a nation such as ours will not tolerate such actions.

I told them that they will see a free press and an independent Congress at work. They will see a Defense Department, led by Secretary Rumsfeld, that will launch multiple investigations to get to the facts. Above all, they will see a president -- our president, President Bush -- determined to find out where responsibility and accountability lie. And justice will be done. The world will see that we are still a nation with a moral code that defines our national character. (Applause.)

And then we proceeded not to do any of that, because we do not have leaders of values and character who believe in justice.

And then there was Fallujah, where mercenaries had so aggravated the locals that they found four of them and tore them up, and we took revenge on the whole of Falluja for these four deaths. And then compounded this with yet another atrocity.

And then the staged election and now this "ratification" of a Constitution that almost no one really likes in a vote that pretty much everyone, including its supporters, complains was fixed.

I know we have to get out. But even so, I didn't want to say these words.

And yesterday I was sitting here and realizing that this is what it's about, this is why the whole Democratic leadership, and even many on the left who have always opposed this war, have been hesitant to say we need to get out as fast as possible. Because we would have to admit this horrible thing.

So now I'm just here again thinking about how what I know is still unthinkable and somehow I need to be able to articulate it and I don't want to. No one wants to. That's the hang-up. We just can't face the fact that we've created such a mess in Iraq that there is no way to fix it. We can't. Not even us. Especially not us.

We're the United States of America, and we're helpless.

[Image from There's Still Time.]

14:43 BST

Thursday, 27 October 2005

Eyes and ears

Rep. George Miller (D-CA) has a post up at TPM Cafe explaining exactly how Bush was forced to back down on Davis-Bacon: This was a direct result of intense pressure from Democrats and labor and religious leaders. [...] With the support of every House Democrat and 37 House Republicans, we would have won that vote. Boxed in by that embarrassing scenario, the White House chose to reverse itself. (Thanks to Steve Dolan for the tip.)

Miers withdraws, Miers withdraws, Miers withdraws, Miers withdraws. Here's her letter. It's not news. It had to be done, but he didn't dare do it himself because even the right-wingers said that would be "a sign of weakness," so his loyal lawyer bowed out so he wouldn't have to. It's not news, and we are still on Fitzwatch.

Wow. Atrios says that this editorial carton took Mike Luckovich 13 hours. And it's still a good question. I'm with commenter Dan McEnroe, who said: try to imagine what was going through his head as he sculpted the names of two thousand dead into a work of art. thirteen hours spent in the company of the lost.

Save Head Start!

The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees: Congressman Pombo (R - CA) has a plan to sell off some national parks for cash and other purposes.

Via Bill Gibson, watch a useful educational film about Despotism. You need to know.

17:38 BST


From Harper's, Lewis H. Lapham says We Now Live in a Fascist State. (Via Caro of Make Them Accountable.)

Dick Cheney's Song of America: The Plan is disturbing in many ways, and ultimately unworkable. Yet it is being sold now as an answer to the "new realities" of the post-September 11 world, even as it was sold previously as the answer to the new realities of the post-Cold War world. For Cheney, the Plan has always been the right answer, no matter how different the questions.

Two items from E&P on that curious subject: The Mystery of Judy Miller's 'Security Clearance' Deepens: Did she really have special "sensitive" status in Iraq--or is her claim a canard? Her latest explanation raises this issue: Did she and Scooter Libby discuss "sources and methods" in their three meetings in June-July 2003? She may be upping the legal ante here.

And Greg Mitchell wonders what Judy Miller would have to do to get fired.

15:13 BST


Barbara's Kyoto underwired bra

Bra of the Week

One nice piece of news coming out of Virginia is that it is possible to oversell support for the death penalty and as a result set your opponent up for the moral high ground as a matter of faith.

I've said before that if there's just one Internet site you're going to send money to, it should be Consortium News. These guys do real investigative reporting, and we still need plenty of that, especially at a time when we can't trust the corporate media to deliver. Robert Parry is the classic example of a good reporter (formerly of Newsweek) whose services were no longer required by the CM when he kept making the "mistake" of trying to get the truth of important events of the day - like Iran Contra - that the Bush Family Empire wanted no light shone on. Click the link and take this opportunity to support good news media.

APME Meets, Hears Katrina Vets Discuss Hurricane Aftermath: The journalists who survived Hurricane Katrina and managed to keep publishing from the disaster zone have a new appreciation for their readers as well as the media's crucial role in debunking rumors, several editors said Wednesday.

From The Fitzmas Song, by Steve Bates: And so we're offering this simple phrase, For those soon doing ten-to-life: We hope you're in jail for the rest of your days... Merry Fitzmas, Joe's wife!

Breaking: Just heard that Miers' nomination is being withdrawn, no details yet.

14:01 BST

On the landscape

At Talk Left, Jeralyn thinks it's possible that Karl Rove could walk. And TChris reports that a section sneaked into the Patriot Act renewal bill would allow prosecutors to keep empanalling juries until they got them to vote for the death penalty.

There appears to be some good news, via The Mahablog, Davis-Bacon Reinstated: The Bush administration will reinstate rules requiring that companies awarded federal contracts for Hurricane Katrina pay prevailing wages, usually an amount close to the pay scales in local union contracts.

Digby found an interesting article from a guy he describes as, "a seasoned intelligence corespondent with impeccable sources. And he is writing some amazing, amazing stuff today, which, if true, is going to blow the lid off this government." Richard Sale suggests that Fitzgerald's charges against the administration may involve abuse of power to violate Ambassador Wilson's civil rights.

Arianna agrees with John Dean, and says it's Worse than Watergate: But what they were covering up was much more than the outing of Valerie Plame. They were covering up the way the White House had used lies and deception to lead us into a war that was reckless and unnecessary -- what Lt. Gen. William Odom, National Security Agency director under Reagan, has called "the greatest strategic disaster in United States history."

Poll: Any U.S. Democrat over Bush: Of 1,008 people polled, 55 percent of the respondents said that they would vote for a Democratic candidate if Bush were running again. More than half -- 57 percent -- said they don't agree with the president's views on issues that are important to them, while 41 percent said their views are in line with those of Bush on important issues. Toldja.

And Chris Bowers says Bush isn't even doing well on immigration, according to a new CBS poll, where only 21% approve of the way Bush has handled the issue, and 53% disapprove. And even on the right-leaning Rassmussen poll, Bush is losing support - because he's losing it among Republicans. (Oh, and Kerry finally says the invasion was a mistake. Not very good timing, Senator.)

Leo Casey on American Unions And The Pursuit Of Economic Justice: American workers have paid a significant price for the decline of the American labor movement declined over the last three decades. A strong, vibrant labor movement benefits all workers: unionization has spillover effects into non-union employment, as corporations raise wages and improve working conditions in order to compete for workers and in efforts to stave off union organizers. A labor movement in decline and on the defensive is less and less able to perform that galvanizing role, and all workers suffer as a consequence.

The Nightmare Before Fitzmas!!!

02:27 BST

Wednesday, 26 October 2005

Stops on the Infobahn

They're going a little weird in San Francisco over marijuana. Dr. Tom O'Connell: Earlier today, Dale Gieringer posted Debra Saunders' entire column from the SF Chronicle as further evidence that a rabid Bush apologist is undergoing a slow, irregular and highly improbable epiphany on medical use; but he only tangentially referred to the smug, terribly uninformed editorial on the opposite page. (via)

Hitchens is all excited by the new charges against Galloway, full as he is of bitter resentment at the good press Galloway got for putting Norm Coleman in his place: "I wonder if any of those who furnished him a platform will now have the grace to admit that they were hosting a man who is not just a pimp for fascism but one of its prostitutes as well." Galloway isn't cowering about the new charges, demanding that Coleman et al. either put up or shut up.

Michael J.W. Stickings has been posting up a storm over at The Reaction, having been on Miers Withdrawal Watch for several days, now. Lots of other good stuff, too.

My thanks to Keith Thompson in comments for turning me on to Bob Gorrell's lovely cartoon about Rosa Parks.

Nancy Pelosi is steamed about the gouging Americans are getting from the oil companies, Skippy tells us. Also: Is Cookie Jill a terrorist?

19:36 BST

It wasn't just lies, it was murder

Now that they know a bit more about how we got there, the average American proves to be smarter than the punditocracy: They know that invading Iraq was the wrong thing to do.

The Rude Pundit: Comparing the current investigation of the White House's leak of CIA operative's name to the Whitewater investigation (or any investigation) of the Clinton administration is about as specious as saying that the war in Iraq is analogous to the American Revolution. It's not just like comparing apples and oranges; it's like comparing apples and carburetors. Other than a couple of words, like "special prosecutor," "perjury," and "obstruction of justice," there's nothing remotely similar about the two. So not only fuck you to every right winger who wants to make this point, but come back to the fold, Nicholas Kristof, who joins a number of those on the far right in poo-pooing the idea of perjury as a "technicality."

Scott Rosenberg says Tell the casualties about those technicalities: This is not about interns and stained dresses; it is about a tragic war that is still being tragically fought. And from where I sit, the 2000 dead American soldiers, and an untallied greater number of dead Iraqis, are owed some truth on a level that the president and vice-president are constitutionally incapable of delivering, or perhaps even comprehending.


Who they were

14:00 BST

Action alert: UK censorship - creating a new crime


The Home Office has begun a consultation process on plans to strengthen the criminal law in respect of possession of extreme adult images. The government is currently discussing plans that could lead people to being imprisoned for downloading images from the internet. This is a step too far from a government determined to regulate every aspect of our lives and quash individual expression.

Backlash is the campaigning organisation bringing together individuals and activist groups to oppose this legislation. Read more about us here.

We urge you to voice your opposition to this legislation. Make a submission to the consultation document.

You can view the document here as a PDF file, or here as html. Some basic advice on how to write your submission is available here. If you feel the way the consultation process is being carried out is itself unjust, then here is some further advice on how to complain to the Home Office.

We also highly recommend that you write to your MP. You can find out who your MP is here. Some examples of letters members of Backlash have written can be found here. You should also contact justice organisations like Amnesty, Justice and Liberty to tell them about your opposition. If you are a member of a trade union or another lobby group, you could also write a letter to them.

13:13 BST

Things to check out

Be careful what you wish for: Charles Dodgson found an NYT article that is not he said/she said.

Anne Zook links this as the best Rosa Parks tribute she's seen. And she also asks a good question.

The American Conservative: When the final page is written on America's catastrophic imperial venture, one word will dominate the explanation of U.S. failure-corruption. Via Bartcop.

Kyle McCullough wonders if there would be a troop shortage if the administration was willing to pay up for them.

Joe Vecchio explains libertarianism.

At, Resist the Tower! Fight Media Power!, via GOTV.

Roxanne is interested in what will happen if we get our Fitzmas presents. Will it be under the tree in the morning?

Fred Clark discusses gardening in Left Behind.

00:23 BST

Tuesday, 25 October 2005

Some of the news

The Times says: US Senate 'finds Iraq oil cash in Galloway's wife's bank account'. Galloway still denies it. His main accuser seems to be Tariq Aziz. And, no, I wouldn't put it past the GOP to make a deal with Aziz to falsely implicate Galloway. Norm Coleman claims to have bank records, though.

I really, really want someone to get Cheney on camera and ask him why it's so important to him that we be allowed to torture people.

Rumors of indictments from Fitzgerald are flying thick and fast. Now that it's been reported in Raw Story, I believe it.

Hm, first Cohen and now Kristof. Has Kinsley done this GOP talking point yet? That would be, like, a grand slam or something, wouldn't it?

Common Ground has a suggestion for how you can spend your Thanksgiving holiday - in New Orleans, helping out.

20:50 BST

The very best candidate

The Ostroy Report is suggesting that Al Gore intends to run in 2008, despite his recent statement that he had no expectation of ever being a candidate again. Apparently his friends are saying he's just being coy, but I don't think so. I think he may be interested in seeing how many people want him to run and maybe he's hoping enough of them will try to talk him into it to make it worth his while, but Gore usually tends to be both careful and honest about his phrasing, and I'd suggest that when he says he has no expectation, that's what he means. Which I guess means it's up to us to push the issue.

On Sunday, Chris Bowers at MyDD looked at the question, "Could Gore Even Win Again?" His conclusion was negative, but the basis for that conclusion struck me as sketchy, dated, and just plain wrong.

Two other MyDD posters, NeoLiberal and Covin, took issue, and I think they're right.

Chris' reasoning is based largely on a small number of match-up polls, none of which measured interest in Gore after January of 2004 (just as he officially bowed out of the race).

So we have no idea how popular Gore really is right now. But if the Democratic Party were prepared to get behind him and talk him up - remind people of his prescient speech about Iraq before the invasion, and the fact that he was the first leading politician to admit that we need universal healthcare and that he has always been the green candidate, it's just possible that he could take off.

The right-wing has tried to sell talk of the Draft Gore movement as merely being a "stop Hillary" movement, but I don't think you'll find that's the case among people who really want Gore to run. The simple fact is that he's the best one for the job, and the best candidate we've got. And, as Coven says, "For me, this ain't about Hillary. This is about America."

Would the media hammer him the way they did before? A lot of them will trash any Democrat, no matter who it is, and certainly Hillary Clinton has no immunity from this. Maureen Dowd seems to have regretted her error from 2000 - perhaps now she'd rather be bored with Gore than kept in a continual state of excitement with the GOP. And this time, there's liberals with high-speed connections to climb all over the press when they dredge up phony stories about where he gets his fashion tips.

It could work, if we all follow Paul Wellstone's dictum: Work hard.

19:41 BST

The oracle

The other day I very nearly blogged Krauthammer's advice on how to get rid of the Miers nomination by creating an impasse over whether to release paperwork, as a heads-up as to what might very well be about to happen. Then today I saw this at the blog for Rachel Maddow's show:

Q Mr. President, as a newspaper reported on Saturday, is the White House working on a contingency plan for the withdrawal of Harriet Miers' nomination?

THE PRESIDENT: Harriet Miers is -- is an extraordinary woman. She was a legal pioneer in Texas. She was ranked one of the top 50 women lawyers in the United States on a consistent basis. She is -- look, I understand that people want to know more about her, and that's the way the process should work.

Recently, requests, however, [[INSERT UNDERBELLY POKING NOISE OF YOUR CHOICE HERE!]] have been made by Democrats and Republicans about paperwork and -- out of this White House that would make it impossible for me and other Presidents to be able to make sound decisions. They may ask for paperwork about the decision-making process, what her recommendations were, and that would breach very important confidentiality. And it's a red line I'm not willing to cross. People can learn about Harriet Miers through hearings, but we are not going to destroy this business about people being able to walk into the Oval Office and say, Mr. President, here's my advice to you, here's what I think is important. And that's not only important for this President, it's important for future Presidents.

Harriet Miers is a fine person, and I expect her to have a good, fair hearing on Capitol Hill.

Gee, at first it looks like he didn't answer the question, doesn't it? Until you realize that, by Jiminy, he did!

13:28 BST

Open windows

Haloscan seems to have comments back together, now.

Earlier I linked to a post at Digby's place about Republicans blaming liberals for the wreckage they've created in Iraq. But the truth is, they do it with every damn thing. They can't be trusted with money, but pretend that liberals have a dedication to "throwing money at problems." They don't want you to notice that we believe in spending money on programs that work, and spending enough to make sure they do work. That's not what conservatives do - they're penny-wise and pound foolish at their best, and right now they are not at their best. So now they are pretending that the current spendthrift administration "is spending like a liberal", and carefully failing to notice that Bush doesn't get to spend that money without the connivance of the Republicans in Congress. This is what they do. Well, here's a message: Bush ain't one of ours.

RAW story says the Plame leak came from the Pentagon in the form of "David Wurmser, then a Middle East adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney on loan from the office of then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Bolton," who told Libby, who told Rove - and then: Within a week, Wurmser, on orders from "executives in the office of the vice president," was told to leak her name to a specific group of reporters in an effort to muzzle her husband, Wilson, who had become a thorn in the side of the administration, those close to the inquiry say.

I see via Atrios that Arthur Silber is back, at a new address. I'm relieved. Only a few posts up so far but it's all good.

Kos says the conservative belief that Souter was a stealth liberal is bunk.

Check out Melanie on many things, including her DC dining experiences.

Hackett for Ohio.

02:46 BST

Monday, 24 October 2005

Quick Links

Via Maru.

Separatist Twins

Privatization, and it's not funny.

Alan tries to figure out How to Fix Things.

When conservative policies have their predictable ghastly outcome, they brush it off by claiming it was liberals with guns who did it!

16:44 BST


Haloscan comments are down. Everything looks normal enough, but no one can post new comments.

Anyway, here's a comment from Lenny Bailes from before things broke:

Joe Conason was a guest on KPFA's "Sunday Salon" this morning, talking about the rigging of the Ohio vote count and the Bush plan to destroy Social Security.

If you use Winamp or another geek-audio program, go here and you can skip forward and back through the broadcast. Conason starts talking at -108 (22 minutes in). The other streaming link is here and may not let you skip around.

Pre$$titutes has a post up on one of my linguistic hobby-horses: Republicans' use of the phrase "Democrat Party" and other failures to be able to say "Democratic" when they should. You'd think they'd be embarrassed to sound so illiterate, but they're not, because they like this old McCarthyite slur.
So wouldn't it be nice to have a member of the press confront one of these Republicans with the following question: "Excuse me, ____ , did you just say the "Democrat Party," and if so why did you intentionally neglect to say Democratic Party?"
As Vaara noted in comments to that post, you can learn a lot about someone's party identification by whether they can properly pronounce the name of the Democratic Party. I concur. (via)

If I was teaching civics, The Poor Man would be on my required reading list. Recent posts there include a couple of fine examples of how the administration is fighting for our freedoms by attacking The Onion (as revealed in the NYT) and stopping yet another soldier from blogging. I also learned this: This week, instead of the fierce competition we've become used to, wingnuts around the country decided that they would celebrate their diversity and creativity with a week-long festival of wingnuttery - a veritable "Lollapaloser", if you will. No, I didn't expect you would. Read and enjoy.

The only debate on Intelligent Design that is worthy of its subject - via Dan Holzman, who has an update.

I like this picture from Jon Singer.

14:22 BST

Peasants don't need newspapers

Susan at An Age Like This describes the content of a recent George F. Will column:

American workers are just going to have to settle for being poor again, a hundred years after Henry Ford realized he could sell more cars by lifting his employees up with a decent living wage. Not anymore.
The occasion for this is another major company having eaten itself alive. Honorable exception (non-presstitute) Paul Krugman on The Big Squeeze:
But Delphi's bankruptcy is a much bigger deal than your ordinary case of corporate failure and bad, self-dealing management. If Delphi slashes wages and defaults on its pension obligations, the rest of the auto industry may well be tempted - or forced - to do the same. And that will mark the end of the era in which ordinary working Americans could be part of the middle class.
Reading the vastly dishonest Will's column, I wonder why it's never previously occurred to me to refer to him as "George F. Swill" - it's not as if he hasn't earned that name a thousand times over. This time it's for suggesting that cheating Americans out of our legacy - and our future - is not itself a problem; rather it's the solution to another problem:
Granted, GM has always been in that industry, but it has also become the nation's largest private purchaser of health care. This supposedly secondary role has become primary.
Now, for the really entertaining part, we get further explanation from Will:
Robert "Steve" Miller, Delphi's chief executive, minces no words, telling the Wall Street Journal that defined-benefit programs are imprudent anachronisms: "The notion of having all your retirement eggs in one basket -- your employer -- is a concentration of risk that is simply inadvisable for anyone in today's fast-moving economy." He calculates that a competitive American industrial compensation cost is about $20 an hour. And to get to a total compensation cost of $20, including health care, retirement and workers' compensation, "which is high in the states we are in like New York, Ohio and Michigan," you have to have a basic hourly wage of $10. Pay at Delphi's plants in China is roughly $3 an hour.

Miller bluntly says that the social contract written after 1945 is being -- must be -- repealed because, given globalization, unskilled manual labor cannot be paid $65 an hour, with the cost passed on to consumers. "When you buy a Hyundai you get a satellite radio as your option, but if you buy a Chevrolet you get social welfare as an option. Long term, the customer is going to desert you if you try to price for your social-welfare costs."

Hahaha! What a knee-slapper! (Whose hiney did those figures come out of, anyway? I just love being dazzled with numbers.)

See, the joke is this: When you buy that foreign car, it's cheaper because it's made in a country where they have a better welfare state than we do in America. Our companies have to fork over big money for things like healthcare because we don't have a state system that does that instead. So we can't compete.

And conservatives want you to think that the best way to become competitive is to get rid of what few protections we have left. Yes! That'll solve the problem! If only Americans would face the future and willingly live like Third World peasants, the good old USA could be strong again!

This pack of refuse is published in "One of the world's great newspapers!" And these people want to know why they're losing readers. It's because they talk crap. Yes. Just like "The Newspaper of Record" talks crap with its Tom Friedman articles saying precisely the same sort of twisted rubbish about how for some reason we all just have to eat dirt because it's A Brave New Gobalized Flat Earth. Just like last decade's crap about how the economy was permanently on the upswing and the stock market could never go bust again. And last week's crap about how outing a CIA agent is "just politics" (from Cohen - and you should send him a copy of this). And I hardly have to remind you about Weapons of Mass Destruction and yellowcake and aluminum tubes....

It should be front page news every day that these people are robbing us of the American Dream, that their spokesbeings are liars, that it's one big con job. But no, because the "great" newspapers are in on the scam.

So all these papers are getting into a huddle and trying to figure out how to win back subscribers. Well, tell them: Quit printing crap.

10:59 BST

The word for "world" is "dirt"

Some days I just have trouble coming up with titles.

The graphic alone is a good enough reason to read this meaty Traitorgate post from Firedoglake, but so is the WaPo quote suggesting that Fitzgerald ran into some obstruction of justice early on, not to mention the datum from Lawrence O'Donnell that George Bush's popularity among blacks is now down to 2% - plus or minus 2%.

Somehow this gives me that ol' deja vu.

Bush Nominates Actual Blank Slate To Supreme Court.

The WaPo actually has a story on the way Alan Simpson and his bosom pal, Dick Cheney, flip-flopped on Saddam Hussein. Via A Tiny Revolution (which provides the short version).

Hey, look, Richard Cohen has taken more stupid pills: I no longer see abortion as directly related to sexual freedom or feminism, and I no longer see it strictly as a matter of personal privacy, either. You no longer see very well at all, do you, you Kool-Aid-drinking twerp? (Elton Beard has him covered.)

Lambert again: I've read my LeCarre-and what I'm seeing is handler (Libby) and operative (Miller) going down together; all to provide plausible deniability for company management (Bush/Cheney, Sulzberger/Keller).

Judy Sings Holliday - "My old Plame" by John M. Ford.

03:17 BST

Okay, but why?

My blog is worth $186,862.74.
How much is your blog worth?

Via Tild~.

01:59 BST

Sunday, 23 October 2005

Quick notes

It's been pretty busy around here - sorry about that. But I did see these:

Kay Bailey Hutchison vs. Kay Bailey Hutchison. The great debate on whether perjury is a crime. Hey, hey, it's okay if you're a Republican, remember?

I always find it gratifying when someone writes an article saying what I've been saying since before there was an Internet - hell, before there were compact discs, even. Today, it's Eric Alterman: Here is the liberals' problem in a nutshell: More than 30 percent of Americans happily answer to the appellation "conservative," while 18 percent call themselves "liberal." And yet when questioned by pollsters, a super-majority of more than 60 percent take positions liberal in everything but name. Indeed, on many if not most issues, Americans hold views well to the left of those espoused by almost any national Democratic politician.

The Ostroy Report has wants to Draft Gore for '08. I'm down with this. Especially since Hillary would be a waste of time.

Watching "democracy" in Iraq makes a lot of people, including me, think it's probably too late for that.

Hugo has a big project planned and is trying to collect funds to back it up. He is an Iraqi-American who wants to go back to Iraq to shoot a documentary about what he sees there. (Or you could just go there for the eye-candy and hit the tip jar out of appreciation.)

Lambert has an even more acid take than I do on Bill Keller's lame excuses for the Pinch and Judy Show, and he's probably right.

23:42 BST

Saturday, 22 October 2005

We are the media

Via Peacetree Farm, some original reporting by blogger David Goldstein on Republican family values and why David Irons' family will not vote for him. The corporate media has chosen to cover for Irons, but he sounds like a very disturbed person.

Okay, it's about possible laws regulating blogging, but I am amused by the fact that, along with membership in the Senate, a former cabinet position, a diplomatic posting, or board membership in a national organization, another reference that can be used to identify a letter-writer at the WaPo is the fact that you work for Atrios and Kos: The writer is an attorney whose clients include liberal bloggers Markos Moulitsas of and Duncan Black of Eschaton.

Facing South has the story on astroturfed editorials promoting the GOP talking point on why it's a great idea to cheat workers helping to rebuild after Katrina. This caused Cernig to introduce us to the Scots word "sleekit".

At the new and improved Blah3, Invictus finds reason to suspect that Maureen Dowd won't be lunching with Judy Miller in the future.

I'm sorry, but Bill Keller was told over and over by everyone from Media Whores Online to, well, me, for the last several years, that what the NYT was doing was unprofessional, biased, and wrong. Is he really the last one to know? (via)

Toles vs. Toles. Personally, I liked the unpublished one better.

14:22 BST

Things to see

Cobby is the latest member of The Sideshow editorial staff, having arrived as a free gift with some mail-order stuff. (I don't collect these beings, they just kind of show up.) I'm not sure what species Cobby belongs to, but it's very soft.

Kathy at Liberty Street says Slate has a bunch of Miers stories - including one by the indispensable Dahlia Lithwick.

John Conyers says Nonpartisan GAO Confirms Security Flaws in Voting Machines.

Billmon has been reading the transcript of that Larry Wilkerson talk where he condemns the neocons: Something tells me that no matter how insane we may think the members of the "cabal" are, we don't know the half of it. (And Informed Dissent supplies some flashbacks.)

CommonSenseDesk recommends the new DMIBlog from the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy.

Dick Morris is nervous. Not that I ever put much stock in Morris, but I'm happy that he's nervous. (Crooks and Liars also has an interview with Rachel Maddow!)

What the media is made of.

If you haven't seen the burning bodies story, take a good look. This ain't just "a few bad apples".

The invisible elephant in the room has always been the question of who forged the yellowcake document. Max Blumenthal has a suspect: Is Michael Ledeen The Niger Forgery Author? (via) (It would also be interesting to learn who forged the documents implicating George Galloway.)

His Rudeship received a letter about Patrick Fitzgerald's schooling. Susie Madrak says: I was just saying this about Patrick Fitzgerald at DL the other night - that there's no one more dangerous than someone who went to Catholic school and took it seriously. You wouldn't believe how many progressive activists my high school class turned out.

01:58 BST

Friday, 21 October 2005

Dem notes

Blogenlust on Atonement: The problem isn't that they voted for the war, it's that they continue to hem and haw over whether they should support it or criticize it. Nearly three years after the war began, there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that this was a bad idea sold on faulty premises and trumped up intelligence. Instead of worrying about how they voted, they need to start worrying about what they're going to do to atone for their mistake. (I dunno, you had to be pretty dumb to think Bush wasn't shining us. Wouldn't it be better to elect someone who saw through it all?)

Sirota: Talking About Testicles and Toughness, Instead of Actually Having Those Things: And make no mistake about it - polls show that if the Democrats continue trying to avoid taking clear positions, it could pay a price at the polls, even with the GOP's corruption scandals. As one recent nationwide survey showed, Republicans negatives are going up, but that has equaled "no major shift in support for Democrats" as the public still has little clue what Democrats really stand for.

To which Dan Carol says: Yo Sirota, Back Off. So please stop being so surprised and frustrated when there are Congressional weenies and spineless Democrats. They are out there. Yes, and...?

23:48 BST

Media media

Arianna is unimpressed with Judith Miller's claim that, "WMD -- I got it totally wrong... The analysts, the experts and the journalists who covered them -- we were all wrong." As she reminds us, it's just not true.

ReddHedd has a big fat look at those media characters not named "Judy Miller" who are deep in the Traitorgate story themselves. Eric Boehlert specifically eyeballs Tim Russert. Crooks and Liars says Russert is resisting being thrown under a bus.

Tucker Carlson went a little bats on Fitzgerald after news came out, presumably from lawyers for Rove et al., that indictments were coming down. Marty Kaplan says Tucker is a Moron, Liar, or GOP Sock Puppet.

Via Crooks and Liars, I see Bradblog has a story on a conservative attack on drunken harpy Ann Coulter: "Ann Coulter is mainstreaming extremism within the Conservative Movement," warns Borchers. "Coulter has hijacked a substantial segment of the Conservative Movement and is re-creating it in her image. Her 'New McCarthyism' is poisoning millions of minds."

Michael Getler has left The Washington Post to become the PBS ombudsman, and Deborah Howell, who is replacing him at WaPo, hasn't started yet, so there is no one to eviscerate this week.

13:47 BST

Crime watch

Jim MacDonald wasn't too impressed with the story of Brownie's dinner, and recalls a question Teresa asked awhile back. And now someone else has asked that same question.

Never forget that the real reason the right-wingers hate Cynthia McKinney is that she's smart and usually right about things they don't want you to think about:

Pulling out a series of news reports as she questioned Chertoff during a House committee hearing, McKinney read the headline: "Nursing home owners charged in deaths," in the case of 34 residents who were not evacuated from the floodwaters in New Orleans.

"Mr. Secretary, if the nursing home owners are arrested for negligent homicide, why shouldn't you also be arrested for negligent homicide?" McKinney asked.

"It seems that chaos was the plan that was implemented," she said of the administration's slow response to the catastrophe. "Leadership, Mr. Secretary, was lacking."

Before Chertoff responded, panel member Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Texas) protested that the questioning was "over the top" and said Chertoff should not have to answer.

He was overruled by the House select committee chairman, Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.).

"I think the secretary can take care of himself," said Davis, who later added, "Members are entitled to vent."

News Hounds says this played a little differently on Fox than it might have in the past.

04:45 BST

News and advice

What a coincidence - first Richard Cohen announces in his column that the whole investigation of the Traitorgate leak is "just politics", and now everybody's doing it. And didn't I suggest at the time that it had sounded like an administration talking point? Sounds like they decided to let Cohen start the press storm.

I have to admit I've enjoyed watching the right-wingers whine about Harriet Miers' lack of qualifications. Somehow they were unable to convince themselves - as they so often have in the past - that her lousy CV was still good enough. These are people who normally just build the appearance of qualification by making claims for it - Ashcroft, for example, was a man of "integrity" even though he was a known crackpot. I mean, it's hardly as if they have been screaming about the fact that our Secretary of State is a woman who could look at a PDB stating outright in the title that Osama was planning to attack the US and not tumble to the fact that Osama was planning to attack the US. Competence? Dedication to duty? They don't normally care. And, unsurprisingly, quite a few of them have quieted down about the subject now that they have inside info that Miers is supposedly into overturning Roe v. Wade. But not all of them. In fact, none other than Robert Bork is really concerned with her competence. (And the White House is getting gloomy about the whole process going down the tubes now that even some Republicans in the Senate are viewing Miers with alarm.)

And speaking of Bork, drop on by Wampum for a little walk down Memory Lane to the first time we heard his name, back in the day. And then read the rest of the page, where there are a lot of great posts on things like tort reform - and while you're there, drop something into the tip jar for the Koufax Awards if you've got it to spare.

And speaking of incompetence, check out Sam Rosenfeld on the incompetence dodge - that is, the liberal hawk excuse that it was okay to support the invasion because it would have been such a good idea if only Bush hadn't botched it. Guys, it was always a stupid idea, and anyway it was already obvious before the deed was done that Bush was going to blow it.

Bill Scher (who also has good advice about Miers that the Democratic leadership will probably ignore as usual) reminds us that The CIA Leak Scandal Is About The Future, Not Just The Past - we don't want these guys to come back from this the way they did from Iran-Contra.

02:31 BST

Thursday, 20 October 2005

Bits and pieces

One thing I was really looking forward to for this trip was sitting on the veranda at The House My Brother Built and being able to relax and enjoy the view. There aren't a lot of trees in my own neighborhood and I miss that. It kills me that Rick's house is going to have to be sold in the next few years and I won't be able to sit there anymore. (But let me know if you're in the market for a really nice house.)

Anyway, I slept for ten hours this morning and I hope that gets me back on the right time schedule.

Down in comments, rose remarks on the Judith Miller story:

The thing that irritates me the most about this particular scandal is that the very people who have been reluctant to speculate about it, the press, have had the answers all along. They got the phone calls, they participated in the politics of personal destruction. Every night they come on doing their shows as though they were innocent observers it just burns me up. Because if you haven't been following the story on the blogs you couldn't know that the people dismissing the story are the story.
Yep, that burns me up, too.

Also in comments, Alan Braggins* supplied a link to Bruce Schneier's piece "UK Terrorism Law Used for Non-Terrorism Purposes."

I haven't had time to think about a Bra of the Week but I do have this link Dominic (of) sent me for something to put in one.

Sometimes I get the impression that Bono is not so swift: In the Rolling Stone interview, Bono heaped praise on Bush for providing $15 billion to help fight AIDS in Africa, money that is helping pay for anti-retroviral drugs. That money could have paid for a lot more drugs if it wasn't set up as a give-away to drug companies rather than an attempt to save lives.

It's unfortunately been taken down, but earlier this morning you could still get a .pdf of Tom DeLay's arrest warrant straight from Nancy Pelosi's site. Americablog has a shot of it.

It's not that we haven't warned you, but the NYT now has an article up about how No Child's Behind Left has produced lower test scores for students. Reading scores are lower and the rate of improvement of math scores has slowed. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is trying to claim victory from improving math scores, but they had been improving at a much faster rate before this piece of junk was put in place.

14:59 BST

The Judy Miller Tour


The big question in The New York Times cafeteria yesterday was how did it happen that Arthur Sulzberger and Bill Keller let so dishonest and slippery a character as Judy Miller hijack the institution of the New York Times for her own nefarious purposes and humiliate its entire echelon of top leadership; the publisher; the editor and the editorial page. The LA Times investigates the question, here.

There's no simple answer but it's a question that should have been asked a long, long time ago. Close observers of Miller's work have always known she could not be trusted and now we know that the editors ignored a "Judy Miller Must Be Stopped Now" memo from one of her colleagues years ago, before she wrought all the damage on the paper's credibility with the lies she printed about WMDs.

But the problem isn't just Miller.

Gene Lyons, No surprises: With everybody in Washington anticipating dramatic, possibly melodramatic, developments in the Valerie Plame CIA leaks investigation, it's worth thinking about what it reveals about the appalling state of American political journalism. As one with firsthand experience of the odd blend of arrogance, high-handedness and sheer professional incompetence in high places at The New York Times, very little in that newspaper's coverage of self-dramatizing reporter Judith Miller surprises me.

Joe Conason, Do Miller's Bosses Still Believe Her? Her explanations of her behavior in this affair mock credulity, except at the pinnacle of authority in the Times offices, where they will apparently believe anything.

Farhad Manjoo, Judy Miller and the damage done:But many details in the report are mystifying. In particular, it's unclear why the Times allowed Miller -- a reporter whose discredited work on weapons of mass destruction had recently embarrassed the paper -- to be put in charge of the Times' response to investigators looking into the Plame leak. Some revelations are astonishing: Apparently nobody at the newspaper asked to review Miller's notes in the Plame case before allowing her to defy Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor heading the case, and before the paper's management made her a high-profile symbol of press freedom in peril.

And the problem isn't just The New York Times, either.

Robert Parry, When Journalists Join the Cover-ups: As embarrassing as the Judith Miller case is for the New York Times, the fiasco underscores a more troubling development that strikes near the heart of American democracy - the press corps' gradual retreat from the principle of skepticism on national security issues to career-boosting "patriotism." (Part 2, Rise of the 'Patriotic Journalist'.)

01:35 BST

Wednesday, 19 October 2005


So, it now appears that the White House is planning to use the old conference committee dodge to avoid having to put a lid on torture. You have to wonder what it is about these people that they want it so much.

I let myself feel all optimistic when I heard that Ed Schultz's show was going to be carried on Armed Forces Radio. They've had Limbaugh all along and it was about time they got something to balance it out. Oh, well, so much for that idea.

Down in comments, KathyF says I've been missing some excitement while I'm away. Gee, do you get the feeling that things are really out of hand with Britain's anti-terrorism laws - again? Yeah, I think they have. (Thanks to Ray Corrigan for that second link.)

Oh, look, the grown-ups are in charge: The chief Pentagon agency in charge of investigating and reporting fraud and waste in Defense Department spending in Iraq quietly pulled out of the war zone a year ago - leaving what experts say are gaps in the oversight of how more than $140 billion is being spent.

So, wait a minute - Karl Rove told Bush he was guilty two years ago? And Scottie McClellan told the press corps the reverse? Oh, my. And once again: Bush knew. (And faster than I can post, Think Progress has an update.)

Hey, remember when they were blowing up Buddhas in Afghanistan? Well, Chris Floyd says he's back - elected to their parliament with full backing from The Bush Family Empire.

And trust Tim Russert to give Condi Rice another free ride on the tower of insanity around Iraq from the administration.

17:53 BST

Tuesday, 11 October 2005


Trucker Bob beat me to this gorgeous picture from Maru.

Feoreg has the story of a boy who is being persecuted for his religion.

Andy Ostroy made a List of Bush's Lies and Policy Failures and made it up to #32 before getting tired.

John Dean wonders about something I've been wondering, too, what with all the astonishing information we keep getting from the DeLay prosecution: What Has Happened To Grand Jury Secrecy In Texas?

Why George Bush doesn't brag about his Irish roots.

James McMurtry has made the song "We Can't Make It Here" available for download. Bernie Sanders has adopted it as his 2006 campaign theme song.

The Art of Mark Bryan

00:56 BST

Monday, 10 October 2005

A buncha more media

Oliver Willis has a completely different take on the issue of "moderation" or tacking to the left or to the right:

Democrats keep looking to the politics of 1996 as their template, but forget that the GOP had nominated such a weak candidate (savaged by Clinton early in the race - another hint is to be the first to go negative) and that Clinton simply had to slice off a percent here or a percent there. That wasn't the case in `00, `04 and it won't be in '08.

I recently read Howard Kurtz's book, Spin Cycle, and an interesting nugget I learned was that President Clinton was most concerned how USA Today was prioritizing the issues of the day. It isn't the NY Times or Washington Post that you should care about, because one caters to the Manhattan elite while the Post is for the Beltway crowd who cares about who's consulting for who and who is leading on the mythical scoreboard. The Bush campaign froze out the press, while the Kerry campaign tried to make nice with the MSM. Treat the animals like the beasts they are and use them when necessary and screw `em otherwise. You don't have to be a right-winger to play in Peoria (Kerry won Peoria, by the way) but you do need to be more than a list of issues.

And speaking of Howard Kurtz, E&P says he may have had a bigger scoop than he expected when he quoted from the upcoming book by former 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes, who discusses the weakness of the mainstream media in fending off the outrageous attack on the program from right-wing bloggers.

And still speaking of Kurtz, Steve Soto makes an important point about the case of Mary Mapes and Dan Rather and the Texas Air National Guard story and the current situation with Louis Freeh (cited here below):

You see, CBS News was ready to air this story tonight on Freeh's claims, when it turns out that Freeh himself wasn't even at the meeting wherein he claims that Clinton asked the Saudis for a contribution and went easy on them regarding the Khobar Towers bombing. And worse yet, Mike Wallace was told that there were at least five people who attended the meeting who could dispute Freeh's allegations, and he was also told that Freeh wasn't even at the meeting himself. Yet Wallace, "60 Minutes", and CBS News were ready to put the smear on Clinton tonight anyway.

This is the kind of media treatment the GOP buys for itself by slapping around CBS News over the TANG disaster.

Jeanne D'Arc found an interesting sentence in the NYT, on protests at The Wall in Israel: In earlier weeks, the demonstrations often deteriorated into violent clashes between stone-throwing protesters and baton-wielding soldiers and police officers, whose use of stun grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas made it look as if Israel was repressing dissent. God forbid someone would mistake that for the appearance of repressing dissent, eh?

Hunter at DKos has all the dope on Traitorgate, and Judy and Scooter, and of course Karl. It's really rather exciting. The NYT, of course, is still deeply in denial. (via)

Crooks and Liars has video of Randi Rhodes on C-Span and Jon Stewart on Letterman. And, as an extra bonus, Alan Colmes making Newt Gingrich back down.

10:12 BST

Sunday, 09 October 2005

What's up

Media Matters reported Friday that CBS was refusing to allow rebuttal of Louis Freeh's claims about Clinton unless Clinton himself was the responder - despite the fact that when they aired a feature on Richard Clark's criticism of Bush, they allowed a surrogate to respond on his behalf. Today Howard Kurtz at the WaPo reports that, "Under strong pressure from former president Bill Clinton's advisers, CBS's "60 Minutes" has agreed to read a statement denying an explosive charge being made on tonight's program by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh. It will be a statement from Sandy Berger, Clinton's national security advisor.

Michael Getler has another column on the poor performance of the press - and The Washington Post - in asking the right questions before the invasion: Some journalists or news organizations may have been intimidated by the atmosphere. I don't think The Post was. Rather, it seemed to me that editors didn't have their eye on, and didn't go for, the right ball at the right time. It's a lesson that ought to be etched in the culture here as deeply as Watergate.

Like me, Steve Bates was also less than enthusiastic about the "moderate" Democrats' idea of how to win elections.

Think Progress has a write-up and a somewhat amazing video of the House going nuts during the Oil Industry Giveaway bill. Sam Rosenfeld has the story.

Charles Kuffner is annoyed with the weak grasp of history that some conservatives are showing over Harriet Miers' history of having made donations to Democrats in the past.

21:57 BST

Media notes

Via Caro (of), an item from Knight Ridder - Long an outlet for the GOP message, talk radio undergoes a shift: There are signs that the Republicans could be losing some of their overwhelming edge, however. Ratings for Limbaugh and Hannity slipped this spring in some markets. Liberals such as Ed Schultz, Stephanie Miller and Al Franken are carving out their own radio niche. And Democrats argue that they have an edge on the Internet, where explosive growth could dwarf the political impact of radio. It's certainly interesting to me that Limbaugh lost thirty percent of his market in Mipple-Stipple during Air America's first year there. Seems to me that says something.

Feorag (of) alerts me to Ten things wrong with the media 'effects' model. I've made most of these points before but I recommend this as a neatly organized critique of studies that purport to show that seeing violence or anti-social behavior in televised or movie fiction has been proven be the cause of such behavior in real life.

16:10 BST

The trouble with "moderate" Dems

I like Kevin Drum, I really do, but I was reading this post and this one and wondering why he has such tolerance for "centrist" analysis of why the Democratic Party keeps losing:

Their main point is that there are more conservatives than liberals in America, which means Democrats have to carry a large majority of the moderate vote in order to win. Fine. I've made the same point myself a couple of times this year. So have a few thousand other people. In addition, G&K rightly decry several common liberal myths: Mobilizing the base is the key to victory. Demography is in our favor. Lakoffian framing will save us. Voters still love us for our stands on healthcare and education.

I'm fine with all that too. There's a kernel of truth in all these things (as G&K concede), but overall they do more to cloud the truth than reveal it.

So what are the key issues for Democrats? The paper becomes a bit of an electoral mishmash at this point. We're losing support among married women and Catholics, and the way to get it back is for our candidates to stress personal integrity. We need to be friendlier toward religion because "less educated voters...respond positively to candidates who present themselves as sincere believers." We should pay more attention to the Midwest - although their definition of Midwest (Table 24 on p. 55) seems a mite peculiar.

And their recommendations? Get tough on national security. Give up on gay marriage and quit opposing parental notification laws. Advocate "nothing less than a 21st century economic and social policy." And nominate candidates who are personally appealing.

I dunno. Some of this I'm OK with, some of it I'm not, but it doesn't strike me as a very coherent response to the issues they raise. G&K insist that Democrats need to demonstrate that they believe in something, but the entire paper is rooted in conventional slice-and-dice electoral polling analysis. It's not really clear precisely what they think Dems should believe in or why they should believe in it - aside from the fact that poll numbers suggest it might be a good idea. Color me uninspired.

See, Kevin knows there's something wrong with this, but he doesn't know that the problem is that he accepts far, far too much of it. I left a comment to the first post on the subject as follows:
I'm sick and tired of being told the base is too far left. What does the base believe in? Universal health care, universal education, safe and fair employment, a healthy economy that provides good jobs, regulation to prevent corporations from defrauding us, care for our environment.

The exact same things that more than two-thirds of Americans believe in.

There's nothing wild or extreme about that - it's absolutely ordinary, moderate, apolitical American stuff.

The reason people don't vote for the Dems isn't that they are "too far left", it's that there is no one, especially in the Democratic leadership, who is pointing out that liberals believe in these things.

In fact, Bush says more about them than the Dems do, and he pretends to support them.

Maybe people are voting for Republicans because the Republicans claim to support these wild, left-wing beliefs, and the Democrats don't.

Remember after Katrina when Bush got up and made a speech that generated a "My Gosh He Sounds So Liberal!" response from the punditocracy? Well, he's been doing that stuff all along. In 2000, one of the centerpiece items in his campaign was his constant harping on improving the one thing most Americans agree is vital - improving public education.

Naturally, a few wingers responded to my comment by claiming this was ideological pie-in-the-sky, apparently too young to remember when most of this was stuff we had, and too parochial to realize that other countries still have a lot of it, too, although "modernization" has made a mess of some parts of it. Wingers actually think that the American Dream itself is some kind of socialist fantasy. They believe Americans pay less and get more from their system, and they are just plain wrong, but it is apparently "centrist" or "moderate" to believe this crap.

To the later post, quoted from above, I wrote this:

Let's see, we're supposed to abandon liberal values and liberal economics so we can get votes.

Would someone tell me what the goal at the end of that program is? If we're not going to be any different from the Republicans, what are we bothering to be in the race for?

Please don't tell me it's just because the Republicans are less competent at achieving the same goals, or more corrupt. The corruption and incompetence isn't a function of having an "R" after your name, it's a function of a belief system that puts phony crap like "modern economics" first. You want profit motive, then profit is what is going to motivate people.

Stop pretending it's liberals who keep prioritizing gay rights and abortion - those are settled issues for most Americans, the vast majority of whom do not want Roe v. Wade overturned and oppose discrimination against gays.

It's the Republicans who bring those issues up over and over again. Bill Clinton didn't announce that allowing gays in the military was more important to him than health insurance - the Republicans jumped up and started screaming about it when he was just barely in office. People dearly wanted the Clintons to deliver on that promised healthcare advance, and the Republicans muddied the discourse by shouting about soldiers staring at each other's hineys in the shower. It was deliberate - nobody cared, but it was a good way to make Clinton look like he was prioritizing gays over the healthcare everyone wanted. And that pissed a lot of people off, including his most ardent supporters.

So, as far as the public is concerned, Democrats promise healthcare and don't deliver. This is currently a vital issue for most Americans, and they think the Democrats just pissed it away over gay rights. That's the kind of thing that could really make people lose faith in a party.

If the Democrats want to win, they need to find a way to beat that perception. Maybe the first thing is to start asking why the Republicans are more focused on gay rights than on issues vital to the security of Americans, instead of pretending it's "liberals" who are doing that.

People talk a lot about how smart Clinton was, but if he'd really had the magic, he would have responded to the whole gays-in-the-military gas by saying, "The Republicans want to talk about gays and we want to talk about healthcare - which is why the Republicans are talking about gays." He should have shoved it right back in their faces.

And what the hell is "nothing less than a 21st century economic and social policy," anyway? Whenever I hear phrases like that, I think of Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair talking about "modernizing" - which invariably means getting rid of all the safeguards that were put in place in the 20th century to create a more vibrant and stable (and less corrupt) economy.

For over thirty years I have had to listen to right-wingers hark back to the idyllic 1950s when everything was supposedly perfect while claiming at the same time that no problem is more evil than taxes. Well, here's a clue: Taxes were higher on the rich back then than they are now. The top marginal rate was 90%. And the average taxpayer was not whining about taxes. That's why we could afford to focus on more humanistic issues like the evils of poverty and racism - because we had a sound economy. We were happy to pay for it.

13:10 BST

Saturday, 08 October 2005

We report

Dear Washington Post,

As a blogger of minor renown, I'm forced to take issue with Frank A. Nicolai's letter (Saturday, 8 October), attempting to distinguish the right to confidentiality under shield laws for bloggers from those of reporters who are paid by the corporate media.

It seems to me obvious that our Founding Fathers, themselves the beneficiaries of privately published newsheets and rabble-rousing circulars - some of them appearing under pseudonyms - saw no distinction between big newspapers and other, smaller publications.

Although, like most bloggers, I do little original reporting, and my audience is certainly much smaller than that of, say, The Washington Post, I would be performing the same service as a larger publisher if I were to reveal to the public some information that happened to come to me from a whistle-blower exposing corruption in government. As with Seymour Hersh or Greg Palast, I would be fulfilling the calling of a reporter in informing citizens so that they can better know whether to consent to how they are governed.

If there is a distinction to be made, it should be between the likes of Hersh, Palast, and our colleagues in the blogosphere, on the one hand, and Judith Miller on the other - because unlike the rest of us, Miller chose to conceal, rather than expose, corrupt and illegal activity at the highest levels of government.

As we say on the Internet: Hope this helps.

19:14 BST

The Landscape

Anne Zook points us to this:

My youngest son was arrested last year.

Police came to my house looking for an armed robbery suspect, five-feet eight-inches tall with long hair. They took my son, six-foot-three with short braids. They made my daughter, 14, fresh from the shower and dressed for bed, lie face down in wet grass and handcuffed her. They took my grandson, 8, from the bed where he slept and made him sit on the sidewalk beside her.
The conflation of black and crime may be easy for William Bennett, but it never gets any easier for me.

Says Anne:
So, you know what? What I think what we should all be doing is pointing the fingers and writing the angry posts to the media. They're the ones who clipped the remark to make it sensational, after all.
Well, we certainly should be writing to them, though I think Bennett's remarks, in any context, were sensational - and sensationally wrong, both factually and morally. I actually think it was right for the media to highlight this appalling public statement. We should never fail to point out that, while hiding behind a cloak of respectability and morality constructed out of carefully-selected Bible passages and the tattered remnants of our flag (and the occasional bow-tie), these people are racist scum who spread vile, hateful filth, the very essence of immorality.

As David Neiwert often reminds us, this evil is right below the surface of what's really going on with the conservative movement. There is a very serious reason why the unadmitted Calvinism of the right and the racism of the people who have cleverly replaced their white sheets with suits sleep together in the same political bed. And as they become more secure, more power-drunk, they become more brazen. This statement by Bennett is no aberration, it has been inherent in the conservative movement all along. Let's not let them get away with claiming they were "taken out of context" or merely "misspoke" themselves; this is when they are telling the truth, it is who they really are.

And how have we reached the point where one of them thinks he can get away with stating on the air that blacks and crime are one and the same? Well...

Anne also reminds me that I still haven't posted about American Democracy in Trouble, Al Gore's keynote speech to the We Media Conference. (You'd think I would have been pretty quick off the dime on that one, what with it being Our President making a good speech on a subject that happens to be a big hobby-horse of mine. What can I say? It's been a distracting week or two.)

And here is my point: it is the destruction of that marketplace of ideas that accounts for the "strangeness" that now continually haunts our efforts to reason together about the choices we must make as a nation.
One morning not long ago, I flipped on one of the news programs in hopes of seeing information about an important world event that had happened earlier that day. But the lead story was about a young man who had been hiccupping for three years. And I must say, it was interesting; he had trouble getting dates. But what I didn't see was news.

This was the point made by Jon Stewart, the brilliant host of "The Daily Show," when he visited CNN's "Crossfire": there should be a distinction between news and entertainment.

And it really matters because the subjugation of news by entertainment seriously harms our democracy: it leads to dysfunctional journalism that fails to inform the people. And when the people are not informed, they cannot hold government accountable when it is incompetent, corrupt, or both.

Too right. I agree completely with the conclusion of Dr. Fallon, who says: "Gore in 2008!!!" Yes, even the exclamation points.

12:42 BST

Friday, 07 October 2005

Entertainment notes

We saw Serenity, and enjoyed it a whole lot. Only trouble was no perfect shots of Inara. I always look forward to that bit.

I was over at the HuffPo marvelling at the latest items when I noticed this little tidbit about Eric Clapton's waning sex appeal, which seems to have left something out. It first identifies him as a "rock star", and then says "Meanwhile the legendary singer - who is rumoured to be worth around £120 million - has claimed he will have to keep working until the day he dies - just to pay the bills." I wonder what else he does.... (It also seems that Rev. Dobson's child-rearing advice isn't terribly helpful..

Oh, look, David Frost is joining al-Jazeera.

23:29 BST

Last night in London

The sky wasn't much but the weather was mild and it was a pleasant stroll through the square on my way to my favorite restaurant. The city can be so beautiful at night, and this is the first time it's been dark already when I got to this point. I love the autumn air, and I'm just enjoying the atmosphere - and suddenly before me is the perfect image of London, so evocative of everything you expect it to be. So I pulled out my spiffy new camera, and I just had to share.

(Larger image)

A little closer, I think you should be able to read the name of the pub names, there, if you check out the larger image.

And yes, I have been known to have a drink there, though they aren't favorites of mine.

19:20 BST

Watching the defectives

The mixed signals on Miers are still going strong, no doubt because the business community loves her history as a known corporate defender. But now they're adding a new note to the symphony. In the NYT, for example, Builder quotes William Kristol:

After the event, Mr. Kristol said it was "not out of the question" that Ms. Miers could withdraw.

"She did not come to Washington to be a Supreme Court justice," he said in a telephone interview as he drove to Richmond, Va. "And she could well decide that this is hurting the president, and could continue to hurt the president, and that the best thing to do would be to step aside and go back to serving the president and let him make another pick."

So the Withdraw word has been uttered.

And Charles Krauthammer says right out, Withdraw This Nominee:

If Harriet Miers were not a crony of the president of the United States, her nomination to the Supreme Court would be a joke, as it would have occurred to no one else to nominate her.
Meanwhile, odious creep Louis Freeh, who was too busy as head of the FBI trying to undermine his president to pay attention to more important threats to the nation, has had a major whine about how all the scandals the right-wing ginned up about President Bill turned out to be a distraction from doing his real job, but that's not his fault - it's Clinton's. (There's that culture of responsibility thing again.) According to Drudge, Freeh has spilled his guts to CBS in a taped interview to promote his new book:
In the book, "My FBI," he writes, "The problem was with Bill Clinton -- the scandals and the rumored scandals, the incubating ones and the dying ones never ended. Whatever moral compass the president was consulting was leading him in the wrong direction. His closets were full of skeletons just waiting to burst out."
If Freeh had been doing the job taxpayers were paying him for, he would have realized early on that there was no There there in Whitewater and perhaps prevented it from snowballing out of control, but he had other priorities, apparently. Protecting the people of the United States does not appear to have been one of them, however.

Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath told the BBC that Bush told them outright he gets his instructions from God. The White House denies it, but why? It's hardly inconsistent with some of the things Bush has said publicly.

It's rather exciting that the Traitorgate investigation has brought back that nostalgic phrase, "unindicted co-conspirator". The consensus is that Judy Miller must have said something hot when she talked to Fitzgerald, because Rove is suddenly agreeing to testify again. Hot amusement as the scuttlebutt said Rove and Libby and perhaps even someone at a higher level could be involved. Higher level than Rove and Libby? And who would that be?

And guess where else the term "unindicted co-conspirator" appears? Why, in this story about the pre-trial maneuvering in the case of one of our favorite pirates, Ken Lay!

Meanwhile, Tom DeLay, now indicted for money-laundering, is up for investigation by the House Ethics Committee, right? Sadly, no! The HuffPo reports that the head of the committee, Rep. Doc Hastings (Toady-WA), gets his instructions from DeLay so of course that ain't gonna happen.

And, as long as I have invoked the holy name of Sadly, No!, a little reminder that for some people who went crazy after 9/11, there has been no cure.

13:06 BST

Information forgets to be free

A friend has been writing to me from the States asking what's going on with the Bartcop site, which for some reason she can't get into. I don't know, but I wonder if this could have something to do with it. I gotta agree with this guy.

02:40 BST

Thursday, 06 October 2005

The worm turns

Boy, the wingnuts are sure upset about the Miers nomination. I mean, even Ann Coulter:

First, Bush has no right to say "Trust me." He was elected to represent the American people, not to be dictator for eight years.
However nice, helpful, prompt and tidy she is, Harriet Miers isn't qualified to play a Supreme Court justice on "The West Wing," let alone to be a real one. Both Republicans and Democrats should be alarmed that Bush seems to believe his power to appoint judges is absolute. This is what "advice and consent" means.

16:25 BST

Senate votes against torture; Bush threatens to veto

What a deceptively quiet headline in the WaPo: Senate Supports Interrogation Limits.

And at ABC: Senate Approves Detainee Treatment Rules.

Oh, well, at least the Post put it on the front page:

The Senate defied the White House yesterday and voted to set new limits on interrogating detainees in Iraq and elsewhere, underscoring Congress's growing concerns about reports of abuse of suspected terrorists and others in military custody.

Forty-six Republicans joined 43 Democrats and one independent in voting to define and limit interrogation techniques that U.S. troops may use against terrorism suspects, the latest sign that alarm over treatment of prisoners in the Middle East and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is widespread in both parties.

Isn't that nice? Even most Republicans are against torture! And only nine of them are for torture!

Allard (R-CO), Bond (R-MO), Coburn (R-OK), Cochran (R-MS), Cornyn (R-TX), Inhofe (R-OK), Roberts (R-KS), Sessions (R-AL), Stevens (R-AK) voted in favor of torture.

And George W. Bush has threatened to veto the entire defense appropriations bill if he doesn't get to torture people.

You can submit your own headline below.

14:24 BST

A couple of things

So, is the right-wing screaming yet about this? Raising fears of a deadly flu pandemic, President Bush said Tuesday that he is considering the use of troops to impose a quarantine in the event of an outbreak. I remember they used to be really concerned about that sort of thing. And, as Scorpio says, it's not exactly something we need right now. What we need in a medical emergency, of course, is doctors, not soldiers.

Wayne Uff at Bad Attitudes makes an interesting aside in a post called Miers: Qualified, But Still Wrong. Pointing out that Miers, having actually worked real cases in court, is far more qualified than Roberts, who hasn't, he makes this comparison: Appellate experience, which is all that Chief Justice Roberts has, is like book learning to a surgeon: nice, but basically irrelevant compared to bloody-hands practice. If you needed a new heart, would you rather be operated on by this man, or by someone who got an "A" in their medical anatomy class?

03:20 BST

Wednesday, 05 October 2005

How goes the empire

Republicans Resolutely Stay the Course in War on the Poor says Screwy Hoolie, noting that money for food for the poor is being slashed so rich folk can avoid paying taxes.

Let's look at the fruits of conservatives' labor: After falling for two years, the share of income going to the richest slice of Americans - the top tenth of 1 percent - grew significantly in 2003 while the share going to 99 percent of Americans fell, tax data released yesterday showed. At the same time, the effective income tax rates paid by the top tenth of 1 percent fell sharply, declining at more than 10 times the rate reduction for middle-class taxpayers, the new report, by the Internal Revenue Service, showed. Only the top 1% actually managed to beat inflation - the rest of us had less buying power.

Via Charles N. Todd, this BBC report: Guards working for Haiti's interim leader have been accused of assaulting at least two journalists at a ceremony in the capital, Port-au-Prince. [...] He said US company DynCorp had provided the president's bodyguards.

I need to mellow out with more good photos from John Walkenbach.

20:12 BST

Dipping into the news

Zogby says: Bush's job approval rating has remained in the low 40s despite a more favorable public rating of his handling of Hurricane Rita than Hurricane Katrina, the storm that demolished his approval rating nearly a month ago. [...] The President continues to score in negative territory on virtually all facets of his job, and the latest Zogby America survey finds voters divided even on his signature issue, the War on Terror-while 49% approve of his conduct of the war, 50% now disapprove of his handling of the war. The President does, however, get passing marks for his handling of Hurricane Rita. It's odd, isn't it? No one approves of his handling of the war, but they still rate him highest on his handling of "The War on Terror". And that's particularly ironic, since Bush has always tied the one to the other. I guess it's about time the point was stressed that the invasion directly hurt is in fighting terrorism and Bush has actually made our protections at home weaker, too.

Today's Miers revelation is that she's a born again right-winger, which means that all her previous views are to be taken as inoperative. I guess that story has been put out to make the wingers happier, but George F. Will says it's not good enough and the Senate should stop assuming that she is entitled to confirmation. Democratic Daily sees another threat to the separation of church and state. Additionally, notes The Ostroy Report, "Former Bush/Cheney '04 Counsel Ben Ginsberg dropped a bombshell on MCNBC's "HardBall" last night, claiming he has information about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers that clearly paints her as anti-abortion." (I'd supply the link but they seem to be all messed up on their transcript page over at MSGOP.) Crooks and Liars has the clip of John Aravosis discussing Miers on Connected. John Cole points to these graphs that have been constructed to show who is supporting or opposing Miers.

Charles L. Harness has died at 89. I never met Harness, but I absolutely loved his stories, and he was among my all-time favorites. As I understand it, he was one of those people who just sold a book when he needed a bit of cash, but they sure didn't read like it. His work was full of ideas, flights of fancy, Byzantine plots and twists, and love. I think his most recent novel was Cybele, with Bluebonnets, and I also think you'd have to be dead not to fall in love with her. I'm crushed to know there will be no more Harness novels, it's as if I've lost a friend.

Pledge now for the Koufax awards. (Like Julia, I also have a tradition of getting iced in this thing, but it always exposes me to interesting stuff that I failed to notice earlier.)

16:27 BST

Is it about secrecy?

From comments to this post on Miers below:

This is about secrecy. For the entirety of the rest of my life, I and thousands of other people will be filing FOIA requests with the government to get access to Bush's treachery, and that of his father, Reagan, Clinton, etc. This lady is supposed to last at least 10 years because some of those secrecy cases will definitely come up, and Bush wanted someone on his side, in his pocket, whatever. Keeping the records of his rule secret is personal, not some high-winded gaga-speak about 'conservative principles' and abortion and affirmative action and stuff Bush doesn't give a rat's ass about.

We knew about the Archivist. We knew about the new Homeland Security classifications. Some of us knew about the ballooning increase in classification of documents. This is the nail that Bush hopes will seal the deal for good.

Protecting his legacy through secrecy - that was the aim of this pick.

For more general info on government secrecy and how it affects us all:
National Security Archive

It is certainly true that this administration is obsessed with secrecy - which is unsurprising from a bunch of criminals. But that isn't inconsistent with their governing philosophy, either, since it presumes that "our betters" are entitled to do what they want without answering to anyone.

12:01 BST


The Impolitic on the implications of the Padilla case: If you haven't started worrying about the police state yet, you should start now. Lynch says the black helicopters won't be coming to the suburbs for your neighbors any time soon, but I think that depends on which side of the political fence they're on. Given this administration's proclivity to prosecute dissenters, I wouldn't bet the farm that it couldn't happen in the next three years.

Molly Ivins seems to be saying that the nomination of Miers means we're in a heap of trouble, now and facing The unification of church and state.

Bob Herbert says even on the Hill they are starting to notice that we are in Iraq For No Good Reason: Even the most diehard defenders of this debacle are coming to the realization that it is doomed. So the party line now is that the Iraqis at some point will have to bear the burden of Mr. Bush's war alone. [...] You never want to say that brave troops died for the mindless fantasies spun by a gang of dissembling, inept politicians. But what else did they die for?

Frank Rich, In the Beginning, There Was Abramoff. I keep thinking it's all a lot like this.

Bill Scher says this is a good time for Democrats to show a unified front against Miers - but it doesn't look like that's gonna happen.

Juan Cole says we have A Government of War Criminals, A Press of Agents Provocateurs, A Bureaucracy of Foreign Spies: Just reading ordinary press reports on the state of government and the press in Washington is like stepping into Orwell's 1984.

Nice variation

Go here and click "View as slideshow" for a series of photos I liked a lot. Then do this one for some good autumnal stuff. And then there's these.

00:37 BST

Tuesday, 04 October 2005

Stops on the Infobahn

Via Maru.

TChris at TalkLeft on banishing offenders rather than allowing them to return to the community.

WaPo wankfest as they consider how to "improve" their paper and its circulation, without discussing how to actually improve it.

Lycanthropy and hackers

Lance Mannion is a Democrat, and while I don't agree with every single word of Fugue for the Disenchanted, it speaks to me.

US prisons are Cheating the Chinese Out of Work.

18:40 BST

A judge in his pocket

The Democratic leadership has been mighty quiet about George Bush nominating his own lawyer to the Supreme Court. And since I have absolutely no reason to believe that her alleged job-change will mean she will change clients, I think that no one of integrity should sit still for this one. I think everyone should be writing to the members of the Judiciary Committee right now and explaining why this isn't really acceptable. Even far-right editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is quoting Hamilton to condemn this act of brazen cronyism.

Miers' job for a very long time has been to cover Bush's ass, and from the sound of the buzz around the Plame investigation, his behind may be in need of some serious cover about now. He's in a weak position he can't trust just any old right-wing crackpot judge when even the Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute have been criticizing him lately.

Some of the right-wingers are screaming bloody murder, but certainly not all:

At the risk of drawing the undying enmity of The Herd, I'm going to state categorically that conservatism is sitting pretty at this hour. That's because Harry Reid has just been hosed - and he doesn't even know it.

The navel gazers are nabobing about another Souter. That's silly. The Court will almost certainly move to the right as a result of the nomination and confirmation of Harriet Miers. And here's why.

It's true. Little is known about the views of Harriet Miers. But what is known, through official and unofficial channels, paints a picture of a conservative Texas lawyer with rock-solid beliefs on life, strong religious convictions, and a modesty that should allay fears of a renegade Justice determined to remake society through the courts. John Roberts was the silver-tongued, inside-the-Beltway pick for the Court; Miers is the plain spoken red stater.

James Dobson is another happy man. (Memeorandum currently has a whole slew of posts up from all sides of the spectrum.)

Harry Reid is anti-choice and doesn't care, and that isn't the kind of criticism that will sway Patrick Leahy, but the idea that someone who has made a career of helping Bush hide the bodies, and who (like Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas), is extremely unlikely to recuse herself in the event that Bush finds himself before the court, and her history of corruption, should give him pause. Make your feelings known.

14:58 BST

Monday, 03 October 2005

Our man in Princeton

Paul the K says:

So here's the key to understanding post-Katrina policy: Mr. Bush can't avoid helping Katrina's victims, but he doesn't want to legitimize institutions that help the needy, like the housing voucher program. As a result, his administration refuses to use those institutions, even when they are the best way to provide victims with aid. More generally, the administration is trying to treat Katrina's victims as harshly as the political realities allow, so as not to create a precedent for other aid efforts.

As the misery of the hurricane's survivors goes on, remember this: to a large extent, they are miserable by design.

Free Krugman - the cartoon.

23:50 BST

Dems again

Barak Obama posted a diary at Daily Kos in which he took issue with what he perceives to be the criticism aimed at the Democratic leadership from the base and the netroots. Peter Daou recognized here a relationship between his earlier essay on The Triangle of net/party/press that is necessary to give an issue legs, and responded with another in response:

First, the root deficiency of Democrats with respect to message is not that Democrats don't match Republicans blow for blow (as Obama puts it, "energizing their base with red meat rhetoric and single-minded devotion.") It's that they fail to project core convictions. What passes for Democratic conviction today is a mutated form of "press release speak," the political version of an evolutionary dead-end, a soulless evocation of ideals and principles devoid of the visceral connection with a human heart that gives it meaning.
It's a bit disappointing that Obama doesn't quite get this.

20:45 BST

More news stuff

Xena and Gabrielle in space! "Xena, the possible 10th planet in our solar system, has its own moon, a dim little satellite called Gabrielle, its discoverers reported." Compare this dry Reuters story at the WaPo with the BBC item for extra fun. ""Having a moon is just inherently cool - and it is something that most self-respecting planets have, so it is good to see that this one does, too."

DeLay says he can run the country even if he's in jail with or without his title, and in any case will get it back soon; and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum and Jim VandeHei say DeLay's Influence Transcends His Title.

Al Kamen has one more reason why Karen Hughes - or anyone else - is unlikely to overcome the lousy image the US has with the Muslim world: An ad listing Boeing, Bell Helicopter and other companies making the troubled Osprey CV-22 attack helicopter appeared in the National Journal last week. It shows soldiers rappelling from the chopper onto the roof of a building, which says in Arabic on the side, "Muhammad Mosque." "It descends from the heavens. Ironically it unleashes hell," the ad touts. "The CV-22 delivers Special Forces to insertion points never thought possible."

15:18 BST

The nominee

Harriet Miers, who has no judicial experience, is Bush's nominee to the Supremes for O'Connor's seat. TalkLeft says:

NBC's Today Show, however, just opined that she has no paper trial, and that may be the point. She vetted Roberts and other potential nominees for Bush, so that gives some indication. Sen. Schumer essentially said she was an unknown. She should have papers produced in the White House, but they can claim executive privilege as to some, if not all.

Also, half of all Supreme Court nominees had no prior judicial experience. Being a real lawyer, however, would be a help.

It should have been obvious he would pick Miers. When he was looking for a running-mate, Dick Cheney was the guy who helped him pick the VP. When he was looking for this nominee, his little helper was Harriet Miers.

[Update: The Mahablog has a good post discussing the nomination and rounding up discussion on other liberal weblogs (and one conservative site), with some bits of juicy info suggesting Miers knows where the bodies are buried.]

13:32 BST

News & analysis

Orrin Hatch profiteering from sin:

Sen. Orrin Hatch, a former LDS bishop who does not drink, has taken more money from wine, beer and liquor groups this year than any other congressional candidate.

The alcohol interests gave him $25,000. Rep. Mike Thompson, R-Calif., whose district is in California's wine country, is second with $21,568. In third place with $20,000 is Rep. Anne M. Northrup, R-Ky., who represents an area famous for bourbon.

That is not all. Hatch, R-Utah, who follows his LDS faith's admonition against smoking, took the fifth-most money this year among all congressional candidates from tobacco interests. The $13,000 he took was more than was donated to such tobacco-state politicians as Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C. ($11,000), and Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C. ($9,500).

Again, Hatch, who says he also opposes gambling, as does his LDS faith, took the 15th most among Senate candidates this year from gambling interests. The $8,000 he accepted was more, for example, than has been accepted by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who also is a Latter-day Saint and who represents a state famous for casinos. Reid took $5,000 from such groups.

And just think, Ellis Henican hadn't even seen that story before writing his article about the hypocrisy of the GOP scolds.

As I live and breathe, Pravda on the Potomac admitted yesterday that it's Bush's fault: The president's defenders plead that it's hard to veto bills when his own party controls Congress. But as the conservative commentator Bruce Bartlett points out, this defense is nonsense. President Franklin D. Roosevelt held office at a time of huge Democratic Party majorities in Congress, but that didn't stop him from vetoing a record 635 bills. Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter also coexisted with large Democratic majorities, yet Kennedy vetoed 21 bills during his short presidency, Johnson vetoed 30 and Carter vetoed 31.

Ray McGovern, on the occasion of Lynndie England's conviction, also says it's Bush's fault in Rogue Soldiers or Rogue President? Scapegoating Small-Fry: So far, the silent acquiescence with which Americans - including our institutional churches - have greeted President George W. Bush's open assertion of a right to torture some prisoners evokes memories of the unconscionable behavior of "obedient Germans" of the 1930s and early 1940s. Thankfully, despite the hate whipped up by administration propagandists against people branded "terrorists," polling conducted last year showed that most Americans reject torturing prisoners. Almost two-thirds held that torture is never acceptable.

Nathan Siegel, a DC lawyer, talks about the history of journalist shield laws, and informs us that, "six reporters from many of the country's most prominent news organizations, including Judith Miller, have been jailed or fined," in the last year. However, I don't remember many impassioned defenses of those other five reporters in The New York Times. And, as the article does not make clear, there is rather a great difference between the Judy Miller case and those that generated shield laws in the past - the fact that Miller, unlike the others, was protecting government wrong-doing rather than exposing it.

A weird story on page C13 says that six of the many bioterrorism sensors in Washington, DC - all in the area between the Mall and the Ellipse - detected a potentially lethal toxin, tularemia, in the air on September 24th. Spooky.

11:57 BST

Check this out

Seeing the Forest: As another article in the Navhind Times makes clear, this is the United States military (not the Iraqi government), arresting journalists without charge, refusing to disclose the charges against them, denying them any chance to defend themselves, detaining them for months before conducting secret hearings, and promising to review their cases "within six months" afterwards. There are at least four journalists being held this way. Awfully convenient way to get rid of troublesome reporters, eh?

Life's little mysteries - Julia finds the answers from the many faces of Jonathan Alter.

Yep, the Republicans definitely seem to be washing their hands of Tom DeLay. Caro at Make them Accountable found a variety of articles showing party operatives twisting the knife. Over at Newsmax, Dick Morris says Gerrymandering was Tom DeLay's Real Sin. In the NYT, Matthew Continetti of The Weekly Standard says the Contract Killers of the GOP have become corrupt far faster than the Democrats ever did. And the conservative Houston Chronicle says What goes around is what DeLay has coming to him. Hmmm.

More on why Bennett is just a racist creep from the Dispassionate Liberal.

Bill Scher on how Judy Miller fought the law and the law won (and Mark Kleiman on how the Espionage Act is still alive).

Judd Legum at Think Progress says a source "close to this" told him that Bush is directly involved in the Plame leak.

Gee, whiz.

03:04 BST

Sunday, 02 October 2005

Stuff to read

Chavez Says Venezuela Has Moved Its Reserves, Investments From U.S. to Europe: "We've had to move the international reserves from U.S. banks because of the threats," from the U.S., Chavez said during televised remarks from a South American summit in Brazil.

A recommendation from An Age Like This: Joe Galloway is a war reporter and the coauthor, with General Hal Moore, of We Were Soldiers Once - and Young, a classic account from the Vietnam war. Here's what Galloway thinks about our latest bright, shining lie.

Robert Parry on the pressing question, Can Bush Be Ousted? Can American voters impose any meaningful accountability on George W. Bush, including possibly removing him and his team from office?

From The Denver Post, John Aloysius Farrell on Silencing Sibel Edmonds: Translator caught in web: When Sibel Edmonds was a young girl, her father, a physician in Iran, was asked to falsify an autopsy finding. Angrily, he refused, daring the authorities to retaliate. At home, he told his family: "Things like this do not happen in truly democratic civil societies - like America." Sibel still clings to her father's words, but her Kafka-esque encounter with the U.S. government is challenging her faith.

20:37 BST

A passel of links

Jim VandeHei and Walter Pincus at The Washington Post say Libby and Rove are in it deep, but really ought to read Liberal Oasis and other weblogs if they are still confused about whether Rove and Libby (and whoever else) went over the line. Of course it did.

Over at Wampum, MB looks at the Democrats who voted with the GOP to gut the Endangered Species Act, and discovers something interesting about a disproportionate number of them.

Crooks and Liars has a pointer to a series of photos of the LA fires.

Conflicting Questions about Judith Iscariot; Al-Jazeera Marine, and Bill Bennett, bottom-feeder at The Left Coaster.

Why Porn Is Good for America (Or, at Least, No So Bad) (thanks to Feoreg for the tip.)

Destroying our environment is an activity all of the Republican leadership can get in on - even John McCain.

The Boys in the Band of Brothers - Jim Henley on the dirty trick the military plays on gays. (And did in Vietnam, too.)

Rove Rat Stew - who else will get cooked?

Jesus is my PS2 controller.

Legalized theft

Bushy the Vampire Slayer

Interesting weblogs here and here.


Hear Elvin Bishop live, 1973

17:34 BST

That Alice Sheldon feeling

Digby has found some interesting theories about Fitzgerald's case (and Judith Miller's sudden turnabout) in his comments, suggesting that it may all be a lot bigger than we think. (More good stuff on that further down the page.) And also that Miller's timing is no accident.

There's also a post about the way the right-wing has been singling out Diane Feinstein for asking questions that her male Democratic colleagues also asked.

And a good piece on the way the right-wing blogosphere was entirely credulous about the alleged violence in New Orleans (as some of us were not), but now blames the "liberal" media for it all.

I was going to comment earlier on this post of Digby's, and the general discussion of the porn site that has been posting photos sent by soldiers of atrocities committed against detainees in the custody of US forces. I think the relationship between repression and sexual violence is well-established and don't get worked up much about these things anymore. (And, of course, pornography itself doesn't really worry me.) The main thing about visual pornography is that it's evidence, and there's a reason why erections and ejaculation are a vital component of "the real thing" - hardcore porn. It's probably not an accident that a pornographer would think in terms of the seeing-is-believing presentation of something that our leadership seems invested in denying. (It may also not be an accident that pornographers, already reviled as unsavory characters, feel less restraint about showing us things that might make people call them more names, that make us a bit queasy, that feel tainted. Think "Larry Flynt".) Maybe the real connection between the images and the site is not about repression, but about truth-telling. That doesn't change the fact that an administration that spends a lot of time hanging around the anti-sex crowd would feel more comfortable with sexual violence than with peace.

So, anyway, I was just thinking that my favorite webloggers for thoughtful essays are mostly women, and in my top five, Digby is the only one I'm not sure is a woman. But then again, I'm not sure I've ever seen anything from Digby that says otherwise.

14:44 BST

The rise and rise of Jon Stewart

The man himself, profiled and interviewed in the Guardian weekend, in Such a tease. I liked this quote:

Stewart voted for Kerry, although he hardly seems enamoured of the Democratic party. "I don't really know what they want. The Democratic party appears to be the party of reaction. The difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is the difference between driving towards a brick wall and trying to avoid hitting a deer. The Democrats appear to try to avoid hitting things that might dart out in front of them. Whereas the Republicans clearly have plotted a road and if there's something in their way, they're just going to blow it up. Sometimes literally."
Nice metaphor, innit?

02:38 BST

Saturday, 01 October 2005


The killers of love: George Bush and the evangelicals:

Liars and lovers don't mix. And our President is a liar. He's lied to us about everything, beginning with Iraq. Now he's lying to us about New Orleans and global warming. He wouldn't give you a straight answer if you asked him the way to the bathroom.

But Bush is just one man. The Evangelicals are a virtual army of hard hearted hypocrites. How close do you think these people are to the love and compassion of Jesus Christ? Or to the Buddha, or Mohammed, or the Hebrew Prophets?

And for that matter aren't Muslim "Holy Warriors" (that ultimate contradiction in terms) and those Zionists who are forever coveting Palestinian real estate (aka the Promised Land) also killers of love?

Ethics Daily bemoans the fact that Bush failed to listen to religious leaders about the war (all the ones who were against it, that is). Via Swatch It.

Tom DeLay thinks it Means Something that some filmmakers have been shooting a documentary about his prosecution. And an amusing footnote. Charles Kuffner has the story.

I thought these were lots of fun. Via Biomes Blog, of course.

23:13 BST

News and advice

The Kansas School Board gets a letter: I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence. (WWFSMD?)

Down in comments, Julia says: Looking forward to seeing what the ace antisemitism detectives on the right have to say about this, assuming they can still talk after their heads explode.

Back at Sisyphus Shrugged, Julia explains why Bennett's comment really, really was appallingly racist: Bennett wasn't trying to make a point. He was playing poke the liberals, and he said something foul and racist, which, amazingly, people who should know better are giving him a pass on.

Mary L. Landrieu tells The Washington Post why this editorial was wrong. (I could give you at least half a dozen more reasons, but it's a start.)

Simbaud reads Richard Clarke and becomes insecure with the knowledge that: Terrorists have televisions as well.

Mitch Wagner's educational aid.

12:12 BST

Open windows

Depressingly, Bush seems to have gotten a post-Rita bounce from his photo-ops.

Jeanne d'Arc over at This Modern World has read the Human Rights Watch report on abuse of prisoners by the 82nd Airborne Division at Camp Mercury. She has some good discussion on the no-win situation that has been imposed on our troops as they are encouraged to commit illegal acts without cover, and also punished if they don't wish to aid and abet the illegal and anti-human acts. More fabulous support for our troops. (Boy, that Lyndie England, she's some mastermind, eh?)

Psst! Susie's got yer P**l K*****n.

Cool photo of Saturn's moon Hyperion. (More here.)

George Bush's Faith and the Nation: Why Intelligent Design and Michael Brown Are Two Sides Of The Same Coin, from Sasha Undercover.

Norbizness has some more links for ya.

Paul Craig Roberts says America is running out of time as Bush fiddles and the Democrats' cowardice. This is one response to the inadequacy of the current Democratic leadership. Personally, I liked Paul Wellstone's response better. Put a half-dozen Wellstones into the Senate and you might see some real action. We have lots of critics, but why do so few of them see the need to roll up their sleeves and challenge these people in the primaries? I believe real, straightforward progressive politics can win, but you have to put it out there. It's a mistake to sit around waiting for people like Hillary Clinton to get up and do the business. It has to be you.

And here's the Valerie Plame Edition.

04:06 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, October 2005

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