The Sideshow

Archive for October 2007

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Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Happy Halloween

I need someone to remind me of where I stole this image from. It could have been Lucy or Maru.

I was listening to Thom Hartmann earlier and John Edwards came on and talked to him. Ordinarily, the only legislator Thom talks to (every Friday) is Bernie Sanders, because he's the only one who will agree to unscripted questions. So, John Edwards just got big points from me. (Listen here for the continuous loop of the most recent Hartmann show - and don't forget to throw some cash to The White Rose Society.)

Some people suspect that it's because they actually believe the same things the Republicans do, but Chris Bowers believes it really is mere fear that makes the Democratic leadership behave the way it does. (via)

Chuck Dupree wonders why a city like San Francisco has such crummy representatives - such as Tom Lantos, who managed to say many appalling things recently to some Dutch legislators who had visited Guantanamo. "Europe was not as outraged by Auschwitz as by Guantanamo Bay," for example. And, "You have to help us, because if it was not for us you would now be a province of Nazi Germany." Yeah, that's tellin' 'em.

When couples want to adopt a child, they look to poorer countries where women have low access to contraception and abortion and where there are few social supports to ease parenting. Guess the country of choice for the British.

23:32 GMT

Buncha stuff

Simon Crubellier has been shooting around London (which is not all fun and games these days), and got this nice Dawali celebration photo. Around here, the Festival of Loud Bangs has been uncharacteristically quiet, but I expect it to step up soon. (You gotta love a guy whose Flickr icon is a picture of George Spiggot.)

Jay Rockefeller writes pack of lies. Glenn Greenwald explains why it's a pack of lies. Rockefeller wins the coveted Wanker of the Day award for his pack of lies.

Maureen Dowd has previously explained that she can't find a man (because she's looking in all the wrong places, but she doesn't seem to know that part). I wish she'd find one, so I wouldn't have to risk being exposed to her complete misunderstanding of real life whenever I open the NYT or the IHT.

Noting that Clear Channel appears to have put Bruce Springsteen's new album, Magic, on their banned list, Southern Beale says the real question is: "should we allow any corporation to have so much control over the public airwaves that they could single-handedly banish an artist from being heard on over 1,000 radio stations across the country for any reason? Clear Channelís corporate office claims their radio programming reaches more than 110 million listeners every week. There are 300 million people in this country. Should we allow one corporation to control what over a third of the country hears at any given time? Shouldn't there be a little more, you know, competition than that? A little more diversity in the "marketplace of ideas"? Itís a timely question, since today in Washington, D.C., the FCC is holding hearings on this very topic."

Adam Cohen, "Honey, They Shrunk the Congress" - Even without his tortuous evasion of the torture issue, Mukasey's apparent refusal to acknowledge the responsibilities of Congress should be enough to make his rejection a no-brainer. (via)

I keep forgetting about the time change. Used to be the US changed first, so we were six hours apart for a week. Now we changed first, so it's only four hours difference - but I still think it's five, so I missed the beginning of Rachel's show again. Listening to it now, the whole first half-hour has steam coming out of my ears. Here's the show post. I even got angry about the heavy metal band. [Hear the stream here until the new one is uploaded.]

17:08 GMT

The worst disease

"Obama's gospel mistake" - David Ehrenstein is in the LAT this morning discussing how Obama failed to negotiate the issue of gays in the black community, worth reading for the historical notes alone, but let's have some of the raw Ehrenstein, too, back at his blog.

"Theocracy Now!" - Max Blumenthal checked out the Value Voters Summit, and watched a bunch of people going out of their way to show how awful they are. "Neoconservative activist Frank Gaffney appeared at the Summit as well. Before a standing room audience, Gaffney exclaimed that "by not being bigoted and not being racist, [George W.] Bush has embraced Islamofascists on several occasions." Phyllis Schlaffly echoed Gaffney's comments, declaring that there are too many mosques in America." Some days I think they become conservatives because they know that if they managed to get degrees, then "education" can't mean anything. (I kept expecting Bush to appoint Schlaffly to replace O'Connor....) As usual, I can't get the video to play, so you'll have to tell me what goes on in it. (Why is this? I never used to have any trouble with Flash.) Oh, yeah, they're the party for really stupid gays, too.


14:34 GMT

Nowhere to hide

A while back a friend - another American blogger, but someone who usually avoids any taint of partisanship and rests his work on his expertise - invited me to dinner during a visit to London and took me to a delightful restaurant of a sort I could never afford to dine at on my own. In between marvelling at the food, he confided to me that he thinks we've lost the battle and he and his wife are now looking at countries they might move to.

I found out a long time ago that there's no escaping the United States. The repercussions of what our country does reach far and wide; no one is immune.

When I first moved to England, I had to spend a lot of time explaining to people that "landslide" does not mean, "Everyone in America voted for Reagan." I thought this was a big hurdle until I realized that, despite the fact that everyone knew Reagan was brain-damaged, his policies were still being held up as models for the rest of the world, even here where he was loathed. "The Americans are doing it" was all the excuse that was needed to embark on projects that were at best moronic, at worst devastatingly destructive. And so I watched the long parade of insults to democracy, economic security, and civil liberties that began with Thatcher but only seemed to swell under Blair. Because, after all, the Americans are doing it!

So now there's a "new" government. God, we all hope so. But, as Henry Porter puts it:

But then the clouds of suspicion began to gather as I watched the Labour commentariat, their expressions resembling nothing so much as the empty rictus of halloween pumpkins. Surely they see what Brown and Straw are up to. Both men were members of the Blair cabinet which mounted the greatest attack in peacetime on the people's rights and liberties. Having taken what was ours, they now offer it back to us - reduced and compromised - but as though it was somehow their beautiful gift to the people.

They are repackaging our liberty and selling it to us as a new bill of rights and duties. Nobody points out that the only reason we are now discussing a new bill of rights is because Labour's villainous laws have made it a political necessity for Brown to win back voters' confidence. Few question the addition of responsibilities - or 'duties' - to a code of rights. Many of our duties as citizens are already established in law and a Labour government, least of all Jack Straw, has no business defining our responsibilities to each other or, more odiously, to the state. And let us not forget that duty is primarily a matter of conscience, not coercion.

It seems Labour cannot give something away or, in this case, return a small portion of what was ours without imposing conditions. Putting Jack Straw in charge of the consultation process on a bill of rights is like turning over a campaign against prostitution to the head of an escort agency. Such a man can only see a bill of rights as political tool and a way of further entrenching the powers of government and the executive.

Jack Straw was certainly an able steward of the project to remove the rights of Britons throughout the Blair years, and now they've put him in charge of "giving" them back. Astonishing.

Technically speaking, I suppose Americans have more rights in law than Brits - at least in theory. But those rights have to be defended in court - with more and more frequency, these days - if you are allowed to defend them at all, in a judicial system that has been twisted beyond all recognition.

In practice, however, I have somehow managed to retain the ability to prevent most strangers from phoning me constantly in attempts to sell me something, and I don't have to pay for calls I receive on my cell phone (which seldom rings, anyway, since I've only given the number to about three people).

But I'm harmless and white and don't even trawl the net for pornography, so I'm unlikely to become a target of most of the deeper offenses to human liberty that have been undertaken in the name of public safety in the time I've been here. My campaigning in Britain doesn't hurt any major players economically, so they probably won't fit me up or try to shoot me. My neighbors get shot, and my friends who campaign against mining companies get fitted up, but aside from assorted indignities at Heathrow, life at home is generally quiet.

Things would seem nearly perfect, if only I didn't care.

(Via Martin Wisse.)

12:05 GMT

It's a marvellous night for a moondance

In comments*, Begonia Buzzkill supplies some interesting links. One is to Booman Tribune, where Steven D reports that a real bi-partisan effort is occurring in Congress, but David Broder hasn't leapt up to cheer. "Guess who is proposing a "bi-partisan resolution to amend the War Powers Act and require Bush to get Congressional approval before going to war? Walter "Freedom Fries" Jones, Republican from North Carolina, along with 5 of his colleagues as co-sponsors. Three Democrats: Delahunt (D-MA), Abercrombie (D-HI), Brady (D-PA); and two other Republicans: Gilchrest (R-MD) and Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-TX)." And another talks about the disinformation campaign about Syria, suggesting that, "the real target of the Israeli strike was not a nuclear facility: it was the IAEA inspections process - a troublesome log that the neocons are eager to clear off the road leading to Tehran."

Recommending Arthur's "It's Called the Ruling Class Because It Rules", Ioz says, "The subject is the University of Florida taser incident. In short: a student asked an impolitic question at a John Kerry forum--and by impolitic, reader, we mean: the only relevant question of the evening--and was in due course hauled to the back of the auditorium by a gang of univeristy cops and repeatedly tasered while a gaggle of pussified, useless students and professors sat around meekly, doing nothing. That, friends, is the triumph of incipient totalitarianism. It's not the pursuit of foreign wars; it's not the spying; it's not the secret prisons; it's not the most vicious of secret tortures; it's not one-party rule; it's not the sorta sub rosa elimination of habeas protections and Constitutional guarantees. Authoritarianism is in evident triumph when hundreds of people have so internalized "the way to act" that they sit by idly while a small handful of under-trained and out-of-shape pseudo-cops torture and abuse a boy right in front of them for no reason at all." Ioz also says to stop traffic.

John Edwards says the system is corrupt. And here's a classic example of that. Meanwhile, Al Gore considers civil disobedience.

Troubled Texan used to be one of them. (Thanks to Teresa for the tip.)

01:22 GMT

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

What a relief to have a new keyboard

Devastating consequences - Everybody knows the price of failing to find a way to peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Really? We impeached a president because Hillary didn't come to Sally Quinn's place for lunch?

Al Qaeda is really ticked off at the liberal media, because Aljazeera took bin Laden out of context. But all the debates are blind alleys, as Americans seem to debate tactics and details when there doesn't seem to be any real strategy.

I've always wondered: If we did have the 10 Commandments posted in every classroom and courtroom, would Christianists finally read them? How about The Bill of Rights? "Did you know there is currently not a single monument of the Bill of Rights anywhere in America? At, our mission is to promote awareness and respect for the Bill of Rights, its freedoms, and its principles, primarily through the design and installation of Bill of Rights monuments on public lands throughout America." Well, it beats turning everything into a monument to Ronald Reagan. (Wow, you can download a copy in Armenian.)

GM says you can't do this - Double your mileage and your horsepower while reducing emissions and avoid gas stations? Yes, you can. "The problem with Detroit isn't the laws of physics, it's the fact that a guy who never even went to high school can do things -- with stock parts -- that Detroit's auto executives and their armies of engineers claim is impossible. Good ol' American know-how and ingenuity is alive and well, just not where we need it."

Imagine my surprise at seeing Gary Groth's name invoked in a column at LiberalOasis. (And in related news, I don't know whether to be happy or horrified that they're making a Green Lantern film. I hope we can avoid all that business about Hal being a drunk and all, at least.)

For Halloween? Their children will never forgive them.

22:32 GMT

Bloggin' USA

Rudy is crazy, sure, but what difference does that make? Conservatives don't seem to mind crazy, and neither does the Washington press corps. In fact, conservatives seem to like crazy; it works for them.

John Cole: "If the right-wing meltdown continues any faster, I predict that by the end of the week, prominent right-wing bloggers will be standing in public, unshowered, singing re-written verses of Queen's "We Are the Champions" with silly insults (Glenn has the cooties, Glenn has the cooties) wearing only Hello Kitty diapers, an American Flag, and an Islamofascism Awareness Week sticker all the while balancing orange traffic cones on their heads." (via) Also, who wrote that e-mail. (via).

Paul Krugman, noting that a review of campaign stories shows they are mostly about the horse race with a side order of personality junk, but with precious little about substance, says, "We're doomed." After seeing this, I believe him.

If the polls are to be believed, Arkansas is another state swinging back to blue: "In 2000, Bush won by 6% and then in 2004 he won by 9%. But all that could change in 2008."

Turley on Mukasey's claim that he didn't know if waterboarding is torture (because he doesn't "know what is involved in the technique"): "To say he is unfamiliar with the technique is perhaps the single greatest claim of ignorance since Clarence Thomas testified at his confirmation that he really had not thought enough about abortion to have an opinion on the subject. The second possibility is, unfortunately, the more likely explanation: Mukasey is lying." Yes, because at this point everyone has seen and heard it described in the media as "simulated drowning." But Eric Martin points out that it's worse than you think - It's no simulation; the lungs fill with water.

20:29 GMT

Footnote on Social Security

JHB in comments:

Just to highlight how long there has been an effort to manufacture a climate of crisis about Social Security, its worth revisiting some articles by Doug Henwood of the Left Business Observer on the subject, going back thirteen years:

"The bankruptcy scenario is based on an assumption that GDP will grow at a rate seen only in depression decades." [Link]

"Rerun the projections with more reasonable -- though still conservative -- projections and the "crisis" largely or fully disappears." [Link]

and 2005:
"It's uncanny reading Paul Krugman's New York Times column these days - his stuff on Social Security sounds like what LBO was saying in 1998." [Link]

Yes, I remember running into this stuff in the late '90s and being astonished that anyone was even talking about it. I recall having to explain to an otherwise quite liberal guy that it was all rubbish and anyway all we needed to do if we wanted to make Social Security more solvent is remove the cap. He didn't know there was a cap, of course, and was even more surprised to hear that that would be enough.

The entire basis of the scam, anyway, is the apparent belief that baby-boomers did not reproduce. Well, they did. The baby-boom that started more than 20 years ago is actually bigger than the original post-war boom. Funny how you seldom hear about that.

The conservatives hate it that Social Security has actually created real security for the middle-class and we don't have old people dying in the streets. They hate it that young families aren't more heavily-burdened by trying to take care of aging relatives. They hate it that ordinary working people actually had a hope of improving their lives. They have done their best, often successfully, to mitigate this as much as possible, but that one sticky program is dragging them down, and they're desperate to get rid of it. So, of course, they lie. Never forget this: If conservatives appear to be making sense, they are almost certainly lying.

15:02 GMT

Overdue news

For those who came in late, Atrios explains the history of the fight against cat-food accounts. He also links to an old post from Matthew Yglesias examining the "rationale" for cat-food accounts by "serious" people like Joke Line. (Basically: the moronic idea that programs that evolved out of the Industrial Age are old-fashioned and we need to "modernize" for the Information Age. I have long been disgusted with the way many of the neolib/libertarian crowd got hitched to the stupid idea that all natural laws died with the invention of the internet, and thousands of years of historical reality just ceased to be operational because we happened to have a speedier method of communication handy. These idiots actually believed that "information wants to be free" meant that people would not be vulnerable to arrest for expressing Unauthorized Thoughts because of the magic of the internet, for example. Some of them openly asserted that censorship was dead just because the net was designed to route around obstruction. Well, sure, it's conceivable that your words can proliferate around the net forever, but that doesn't mean no one will find out you said them and put you in jail, or that no one will experience the chilling effect of your arrest. Applying the "everything is changed by the internet" meme to Social Security makes even less sense, since nothing about speedy information changes the fact that private financial facilities are still operated for profit, which in itself adds costs to the program, even if you could eliminate the vastly-higher cost of administration when each person has a different type of account from a different financial institution. The people who support these ideas are regarded as "serious" because they advocate for destructive programs, not because their ideas are any good.)

Last year when it was announced that the UK would set the clocks back in autumn at the end of October rather than in early November, I was delighted to know that the week of not remembering what time it is in New York would be eliminated - and then I found out the US was going to put the clocks back a week earlier. But I forgot that Sunday night, so I missed the first hour of Seder on Sunday. Fortunately, it eventually appeared on the widget, so I managed to hear the discussion of the FISA bill, but I was disappointed to note that Matt and Christy dropped the ball on the question of whether money might have influenced Jay Rockefeller's decision to put the telecoms above the law. Sam went out of his way to prime Matt, but he treated it as, "Oh, yes, money is always in there somewhere," without pointing out that the telecoms recently threw a pile of money at Rockefeller's campaign and then suddenly Rockefeller became very happy with the get-out-of-jail-free provision for the telecoms.

Apparently, eRobin's local press gave the demo over the weekend pretty good coverage.

I was amused to note that liberal talk radio host Stephanie Miller, whose father was once the Republican nominee for vice president, got a call from the daughter of the guy who was top of the ticket with a suggestion, so they called their October 27th rally Goldwater-Miller '08. Their slogan was, "Family name. No skills. Just like W."

Pretty cloudscape; neat clouds.

12:04 GMT

A little night blogging

I am delighted to learn that the odious Mitch McConnell is polling very badly back in Kentucky, where his negatives are higher than his positives and he's already neck and neck with any potential Democratic challenger. Meanwhile, Ron Paul has been doing so well despite the fact that he hasn't really spent any money yet - but now he's started running ads.

Jonathan Schwarz on an acceptable foreign leader, and how you get to be one.

Yeah, I wish I believed in the implosion of the Christianists, too. (For that matter, I wish I could believe in the next election.) And, as Susie (may not be work-safe) Bright says, our leading contenders don't seem to be working very hard to restore separation of church and state, either.

I'm late in wishing the Talking Dog a happy birthday, but maybe you can help give him what he wants.

Al Gore is winning! (Thanks to jello for the heads-up.)

The nefarious Glenn Greenwald is guilty of the evil liberal tendency to conceal things by publishing them.

I'd pay $25 to have dinner with Tom Harkin, but not if I have to eat with Obama, too.

Charlie Brown revisited.

03:33 GMT

Monday, 29 October 2007

In the information age

Ian Welsh: "In Iraq, when the US did not stop the rioting in the early days, when it did not challenge the militias during the first few months, it gave up its sovereignty over Iraq. As militias, religious leaders and tribal leaders became the ones who enforced such law as there was, they became, such as it is, the real government of Iraq." (Also: Sibel Edmonds, ready to tell all.)

Philly hates Bush.

Spocko likes David Neiwert's Strawberry Days, especially because he explains about hate crimes.

Ezra interviews krugman: "Oh sure. You know, [under Bush], you realize who you actually have only technical disputes with, and that, more fundamentally, you share values. I think I said to Eric Alterman once that while people like you and me are having our disputes over trade policy, Sauron was gathering his forces in Mordor. There are arguments we can have that will eventually have to be hashed out, but they're relatively minor compared with this huge difference, do we believe in democracy, do we really believe in a broadly shared prosperity? And so now we have a lot of ground giving in all sides so that we have amazing consensus on things like healthcare." (via)

With Pete V. Domenici retiring from the Senate, New Mexico is seeing the emergence of a Draft Udall movement.

How symbolic.

Thanks to jello for pointing me to these pictures from the demos. Also, the October 27 site has a slideshow of photos, and After Downing Street has reports, photos, and videos. But that still doesn't answer my question: How did your local media cover the events?

I have been not castigated for not directly linking to these two petitions to oppose the telco immunity deal. (Tell me, d'you reckon this is germane? "No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.")

22:15 GMT

People are talking

The whole point of having a day of regional anti-war demos instead of focusing on Washington was to try to get some local press coverage and higher local visibility. So, how did that work out? Did your local media pay any attention?

A response in the comments* regarding the Chalmers Johnson article: "We need to start asking every candidate for every federal office what his or her plan is for dismantling the empire and the military-industrial complex. If they don't have a coherent answer that recognizes the threat to our liberties, they don't deserve our support."

Diane says The New York Times is shrill on whether Bush is crazy enough to attack Iran.

Glenn Greenwald got an icky e-mail out of the blue from General Petreaus' spokescreature. It was so creepy that Glenn wrote back and asked for confirmation that it was from him. And the Colonel said no, even though it had the same header data as his earlier e-mails and came via the same IP address.

So, what, Obama thinks it's a great strategy to be the black Joe Lieberman? Really, I'm so sick of this crap.

The Young Turks' runs on continuous loop at their homepage, so if you go there between now and their next show, you can see Cenk's interview with Paul Krugman, where PK is the latest to explain to Cenk that he's not really a conservative. (Last half-hour of the show.)

Rahm Emmanual wants to throw us all under a bus. Do it all you want, but Bush is still threatening to veto it.

Tell Congress to reverse the Postal Regulatory Commission's decision to hike postal rates for smaller publishers.

DFA wants to know who you want for prez. I dragged and dropped "Other" into the first space and wrote in Al Gore.

17:18 GMT


Since lately people are giving more serious examination to the fundamental craziness that seems to motivate a lot of anti-terror warriors, I am grateful to Natasha for reminding me once again that John Rogers wrote this two years ago:

Tyrone: And again, I must point out Bush said "the militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, allowing them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region." That's what the militants believe. They may just be delusional. He says that himself: "Some might be tempted to dismiss these goals as fanatical or extreme. Well, they are fanatical and extreme -- and they should not be dismissed. Our enemy is utterly committed."

John: But he's citing that desire as a basis for our strategy. You can't cite your enemy's delusional hopes as a basis for a rational strategy. Goals don't exist in a vacuum, they're linked to capability. David Koresh was utterly committed to being Jesus Christ. See how far that got him.

Either Bush is making strategy based on a delusional goal of his opponent, which is idiotic; or he's saying he believes his opponent has the capability of achieving this delusional goal, which is idiotic. Neither bodes well for the republic.

I keep forgetting that Bush actually said this explicitly, it's not just something that shows up in my comment threads from time to time as an incomprehensible response to criticism of BushCo's little adventure.

And the thing is, they don't necessarily specify that they are talking about this, they just drop it as a non-sequitur - you say Bush has made a mess of things and we have to get out of Iraq, and they say something about how the Mullahs won't have any tolerance for people like me. And it's baffling, because it never occurs to you that they really think a handful of Muslim loonies are going to take over the western world. (It's also baffling because it is clear that the handful of loonies who have already taken over the western world also have an eliminationist attitude toward people like me, so what's so special about other people's crazies?)

It's hard, I know. So much gibberish comes out of Bush's mouth that it's hard to know what to take seriously, but somehow I missed the fact that this was hiding in plain sight all along.

I don't have words for how crazy this all is. Even Harlan Ellison doesn't have language for how crazy it all is.

12:30 GMT

Things I saw

Parishioners are getting sick of culture warrior ministers, but James Dobson is still allowed to talk to people.

Bush's Response to 9/11 Was Deadlier Than the Attacks Themselves - Chalmers Johnson reviews Stephen Holmes' The Matador's Cape: America's Reckless Response to Terror, itself an overview of the writings of a number of others on "what we think we understand about the 9/11 attacks -- and how and why the United States has magnified many times over the initial damage caused by the terrorists." It's longish and fascinating. "There is, I believe, only one solution to the crisis we face. The American people must make the decision to dismantle both the empire that has been created in their name and the huge, still growing military establishment that undergirds it. It is a task at least comparable to that undertaken by the British government when, after World War II, it liquidated the British Empire. By doing so, Britain avoided the fate of the Roman Republic -- becoming a domestic tyranny and losing its democracy, as would have been required if it had continued to try to dominate much of the world by force."

Chris Dodd looked okay, I suppose, in his interview on Meet the Press, but he should have interrupted Russert to remind him that the administration's invitation to the telecoms to break the law came before 9/11 and was not a response to the attacks, nor were they even interested in terrorism. (Also: William Safire scares everyone for Halloween with his predictions. One of them is that Obama's VP choice would be Diane Feinstein. Of course, the upside would be that she'd vacate that Senate seat.)

Katha Pollitt, Naomi Wolf, Naomi Klein, and Bill Gibson interviewed on The Bat Segundo Show.

Trailer for Terror's Advocate.

03:34 GMT

Sunday, 28 October 2007

On the trawl

Rory O'Connor talks to Paul Krugman about the question, "Where Does the Right-Wing End and the Media Begin?":

Rory O' Connor: You speak in your book about "movement conservatism," which you call a "radical new force in American politics that took over the Republican Party." What role if any do the media play in movement conservatism?

Paul Krugman: The media are a very important force in it. They shape perceptions, and they conceal issues. Look at the 2000 presidential campaign, for example, where the media were so heavily biased against Al Gore. That's what brought Bush to within a Supreme Court decision of the White House. So if you look at, certainly these last seven years, the role of the media in not telling you reasons why you should be skeptical about the course of the war, for example, it's enormously important.

I hope that makes Bob Somerby feel better - although right now he's ticked off because The Newspapers of Record are not reviewing Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine.

TBogg looks at a sorry present and hopes for a better future. Cactus agrees. (Me, too, but I'd just be happy to get rid of the War on Some Drugs anyway.)

A Harvard law professor with the common touch, or the Leno effect.

Rachel and Keith discuss the many sexual issues of Bill O'Reilly.


So, should we stop saying "single-payer" and just say "universal Medicare"? Discuss.

23:26 GMT

Sunday catch-up

Fayreform High Society underwired braBra of the Week

Back on GMT. I'm so glad my computer does this for me, but I always seem to forget a clock or a watch or something.

I think I'm being castigated in comments* (along with most of the rest of Blogtopia*) for failing to mention Al Gore's video statements in which he takes the strong progressive position on getting out of Iraq, single-payer healthcare, and the right to protection from government surveillance - even though I have already linked them individually once and referred to them again in a more recent post. But it is worth repeating that he has once again proven to be superior to all three of the leading candidates on these issues. Maybe I'm getting back into a Draft Gore mood again....

Driftglass explains that you can fool 27% of the people all of the time, and it's time for a bigger hammer: "We have a lot of work to do, because of all this riches that the Right has plundered from our national treasure house, the most vital and irreplaceable is our language. The Right has not merely destroyed our public discourse; they have destroyed our ability to have public discourse."

I see via Patrick that Chris Hayes has written about a below-the-radar right-wing tactic that we have all previously discussed, but doesn't seem to have appeared in the paid media before, the e-mail whisper campaign. These people just don't read blogs enough, or they'd know about this stuff already. (I also see at Making Light a handy primer for how to tell Ron Paul from RuPaul, and some FEMA Theater - I guess everyone wants to play reporter.)

What Chris Dodd said on the Senate floor Friday. (via)

Glenn Greenwald: "In the United States, the President does not have the power to direct private actors to break the law. Think about how rancid and venal our political and media elite are that these basic principles even need to be stated, let alone defended from a full-scale assault."

John Dean reminds you that Government Surveillance Threatens Your Freedom, Even If You Have Nothing To Hide. Which is a good title, but I wish he'd dug into the details, more.

MadKane is Pondering Condi.

11:07 GMT

Saturday, 27 October 2007


This is rather astonishing. Redacted from documents censored for national security, a quote form a Supreme Court decision: "The danger to political dissent is acute where the Government attempts to act under so vague a concept as the power to protect 'domestic security.' Given the difficulty of defining the domestic security interest, the danger of abuse in acting to protect that interest becomes apparent." Yeah, they wouldn't want the enemy to get their hands on that. The irony is unbearable. (And thanks to Charles for tipping me off to this lovely folly. I'd love to go see the thing. Maybe someone will invite me up to speak in Wigan.)

Why Senator Bernie Will Vote "No" on Mukasey.

Does anyone know what a "Stay away" is? I'd never heard of it before, but Medea Benjamin and others who were arrested before Condi's hearing started the other day were given something called a "Stay away" and told they couldn't be anywhere on Capitol Hill until further notice. So, apparently, there aren't too many people from Code Pink who can do any actions there for a while. (There is a call for more women to join to take up the slack, of course.)

New Rules: "We have become most insecure paranoid superpower ever." (And, found in the comment thread, this quote from DDE: "If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They will have enough to eat, a bed, and a roof over their heads. But if an American wants to preserve his dignity and his equality as a human being, he must not bow his head to any dictatorial government.")

23:06 BST

The roar of the greasepaint

Why some people should stay off the internet: The House Judiciary Committee accidentally sent the details of all their whistleblowers out to a huge mailing list that got into the hands of Richard Bruce Cheeny. (I'm spelling "Cheney" that way because I heard he loves it that no one knows how to pronounce his name.)

Jamison Foser on Matt Drudge's Mini-Me, Mickey Kaus, who thinks passing on unsourced rumors from a single alleged (possibly entirely fabricated) source is the same thing as what Woodward and Bernstein did: "The fact that Kaus apparently has lower evidentiary standards than Matt Drudge is bad enough. But he doesn't stop there: He chides journalists who don't follow him in his race to the bottom and mocks those who think reporters shouldn't repeat as facts the claims of someone else's single anonymous source." My sources tell me, of course, that Mickey Kaus has sex with Goats.

Just how ludicrous is David Horowitz? Sinfonian finds him whining because no one wants to listen to him, and Josh sees he thinks having people disagree with conservatives is like putting a noose at their doors.

Kevin is talking bollocks again. No, Kevin, the Democrats were not in the wilderness because of liberal policies. They never did move "to the center". They were right-of-center already, and then they moved right, and then they sorta won the presidency for a bit but lost Congress. Then they so totally failed to fight their corner that they managed to lose the presidency to people who openly deride the Constitution and have hugely unpopular policies. (The fact that they are even more unpopular now doesn't mean they were popular then.)

Trifecta wonders, "Why is it that if a candidate has popular ideas, they are "unelectable"?" and then presents a fine platform.

16:27 BST

On the landscape

A very linky post from silveradept says: "The Democrats are having their asses handed to them in defining the terms of political engagements, an internal study shows. Getting the message out seems to be a bit of a problem, as is folding up when the Republicans show a little tooth. This problem persists despite the populace actually favoring the Democratic ideas on things like health care." Also, a little irony from Ann Coulter: "The fact of Islamo-Fascism is indisputable . . . I find it tedious to detail the savagery of the enemy . . . I want to kill them. Why don't Democrats?" (No sign that Ms. Coulter wants to put her savagery into practice in uniform, though.)

Even the conservative Washington Post couldn't swallow the White House line on the Dream Act.

So, you know the way right-wingers always say that people use less healthcare if it costs more but it doesn't affect their health outcomes? This claim is based on one study - a three-decades-old study that now, it turns out, was seriously flawed. (I would also note that three decades ago, the system wasn't as much of an expensive mess as it is today.)

Paranoia report: Civil War? (via)

Professor B looks at the GOP candidates' positions on reproductive choice. No surprises here. (via)

Michael Roston in the HuffPo says, "Gov't Auditors Warned Bush Administration About Poor Firefighting Plans: As firefighters continue to risk their lives battling the inferno in southern California, evidence is growing that the Bush administration is not adequately prepared to support them." (via) No surprises there, either. (I called my sister and she says she's okay, although at last report the fire nearest her was still not under control.)

12:22 BST

Tip sheet

Pruning Shears is suggesting that Dodd's leadership on FISA is changing the calculus for the Democratic nomination. Me, I don't know, but via Buzzflash I see that this interesting poll included some questions about Al Gore, including:

(Among Democratic primary voters)
Gore took support from all the major candidates. In the first horserace question, which did not explicitly offer Gore as a choice, 2% of Democratic Primary voters volunteered Goreís name. 46% of registered voters view Al Gore favorably, his highest rating since October, 2000.
Interestingly, his favorables are as high as they were in 2000 and his unfavorables are much lower than they've been in previous polls (and Undecided/Don't Know is much higher than it was in 2000).

Alas, there is also this:

(Among Democratic primary voters)
Remove Most Troops From Iraq:
Clinton.....65 percent
Obama.......54 percent
Edwards.....44 percent

Keep most troops in Iraq
Clinton.....27 percent
Obama.......28 percent
Edwards.....32 percent


00:28 BST

Friday, 26 October 2007

Assorted stuff

How can we make Democrats read Digby's "The Art Of The Hissy Fit"? (Matt Yglesias' addendum makes a great point, too.)

I see a couple of people want to ask the candidates (for this) about corporate personhood. Good question. It seems pretty clear that the Framers had absolutely no intention of granting corporations the rights they said were inalienable for people; clearer still that having entities that have such protections, yet none of the same responsibilities and liabilities, can only be destructive to free democracy. (I'm against the death penalty except for corporations.)

Al Gore sends mail saying Current TV has changed its URL to, and also that I should check out the Viewpoints section. I've already linked to some of Al's own Viewpoints comments, but I see John Edwards, Elizabeth Edwards, and Obama have some up there, as well.

Colbert picking up steam.

Abe Lincoln and his loony left supporters. (Thanks to JHB for the tip.)

Duncan Black on healthcare: "What's rather frustrating in the health care debate is that there's a universally understood but rarely mentioned fact that insurance companies wield disproportionate power on the Hill, that their bribes lobbying dollars will prevent a clean universal health care bill from being passed, and that this fact should be understood as a sign that something is really wrong with the way our politics operates."

Maddow and Olbermann on why Republicans have to keep saying such crazy things. Also: The Ten MOST DANGEROUS Organizations in America.

I love this picture. And Lucy has added some new ones to her Autumn collection.

22:46 BST

Only words

Lambert finds an interesting speech by Steny Hoyer (Steny Hoyer!) in which he stands up for restoring the Constitution. The speech, delivered a couple days ago at Georgetown Law School, has many fine words about the obligation of legislators such as himself to uphold the Constitution, and these:

Simply stated, it would be grossly irresponsible for Congress to grant blanket immunity for companies without even knowing whether their conduct was legal or not. And, importantly, this view is shared by the Chairman and Ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
I'm not happy with that "without even knowing whether their conduct was legal or not" - this shouldn't even be a question. If they didn't break the law, they don't need immunity, and if they did (or do), they shouldn't have immunity. It's nice if this phrase is included as a lure to get Bush to give them information, but not if it's going to be a basis for how they vote; they should never give them immunity, period. Hoyer also said:
Let me add that I also believe we made a tremendous mistake in eliminating the right of habeas corpus. Congress must revisit this issue.
Y'think? So, how did that happen? How do Democrats just happen to make these stupid mistakes? Were you asleep? Were you absent that day? Did the dog eat your homework?

*Sigh* You can call Steny's office on (202) 225-4131 and tell him you agree completely and hope to see this sentiment expressed with a complete refusal by Congress to grant any immunity to the telecoms.

Natasha: "In other words, follow closely here, upholding the Constitution is a partisan left position in American politics now. Utterly disregarding it is the partisan right position. Deciding that utter disregard for it needs to be smoothed over by special legal dispensation, so we don't have to settle the question distastefully in court, is centrist."

In the WaPo, Eugene Robinson talks about Republican Hot Flashes and their unmanly insecurities (particularly in regard to SCHIP and the Dream Act), and Michael Gerson writes an astonishingly inoffensive column about faith and tolerance (as seen through Harry Potter), something I thought it impossible for a Republican to even recall. Meanwhile, Krazy Krauthammer says the Republicans have a terrific presidential field because, after all, Reagan was really just as crappy. Well, he doesn't exactly use those words, but....

Actually, I don't think for a minute that Romney's Osama/Obama "error" was a mistake. Perhaps it was said best by the commenter who replied, "Romney? Wasn't he the Nazi tank commander?"

13:40 BST

I said it's happening again

Bill Scher talks about the politics of protest and how to make public protest most effective. (And, yes, Cindy Sheehan was most effective when she had a simple message. It's not just that hanging out with Chavez created a nice distraction for the right wing, it's that the uncorrupted simplicity of her question - what was the "noble cause" for which her son had to die? - rang through really strongly when she first started.)

Natasha reads The Shock Doctrine and finds it "the most horrifying book I've ever read." She also has a big fat linky news round-up.

Tristero has yesterday's Stupid understatement of the day, and also writes Gail Collins a letter. My god our news media is stupid.

The Cunning Realist recalls a time when Republicans talked like this.

Editor & Publisher says, "Stephen Colbert Moves Ahead of Richardson, Closes in on Biden, in National Poll!."

Charles Dodgson on Dick Cheney's inspiration.

At Deep Confusion, Dead Dems Walking.

The phantom vibration menace

Kasabian, "Empire"

00:22 BST

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Do the right thing

Kevin Drum has a question that shouldn't need asking:

when we blogosphere types complain about this weak-kneed attitude, are we complaining because (a) we think the centrists are wrong; they could keep their seats in marginal districts even if they toed the progressive line on national security issues. Or (b) because we don't care; they should do the right thing even if it means losing next November?
Is it really likely that a huge number of voters are going to reject legislators because they refused to give telecoms immunity after breaking the law? I don't think so. But legislators are supposed to uphold the Constitution, and if they don't do it, they shouldn't be in office. More importantly, why should I want them in office if they won't do it?

Look, right-wingers aren't going to vote for Democrats, even if they seem almost like Republicans, when they can vote for actual Republicans. Progressives don't do much for Democrats who seem almost like Republicans - often, they won't even vote. (Remember Harold Ford? He's the poster child for guys who "had to" run to the right in their reddish districts. He lost. Some people want to say it was because he was black, but that's not why progressives didn't vote for him.) And it doesn't matter what you do, the GOP will still say you don't support the troops and you hate America and are a far-left moonbat just because you're a Democrat.

So, if you want to do the wrong thing to get votes, run as a Republican. If you run as a Democrat, you'd better be willing to do the right thing, or we have no use for you. You just make it seem more obvious that "there is no difference between the two parties," and that means people won't get out and vote.

(And Senators who don't have to run again for another four or six years really shouldn't be using this as an excuse. The handful of people who hate you for voting against telecom immunity won't even remember it in 2010 or 2012. But I wouldn't make the same bet that progressives will forget your betrayals of the Constitution.)

15:24 BST

Say it with me: I'm pro-life, and you're not.

Amanda Marcotte has a post up at Reality Check, "Anti-Choice Lingo Decoded", which provides my good quote of the morning:

When an anti-choicer petulantly says, "Sex has consequences," he usually means, "People are getting away with having sex and we should artificially introduce more risks in order to scare people off of it."
Bean at Lawyers, Guns and Money adds:
Amanda's right to lift the oh-so-sheer sheet of euphemism to reveal the dirty underbelly of their smart talk. But what she doesn't address -- and what I think is important -- is why their rhetoric is so powerful and ours is, well, not. They won the war of words. Think about it: most Americans still use "pro-life" to describe the forced pregnancy movement and still label people who support reproductive justice as pro-abortion (as in, we love a procedure that can include invasive surgery! Woo hoo!). While it's good to decode their language, it only gets us so far. What's next - -and perhaps even more important -- is figuring out how to get away from that language, not only in our happy progressive blog world, but more broadly. So long as we are not understood to be "pro-life" -- despite the fact that we are actually the only ones in this debate who actually are supportive of life -- we won't be able to make any gains.
Blogs would be a good start, though - it has long aggravated me that there are people throughout the liberal community who persist in thoughtlessly identifying the forced-pregnancy movement as "pro-life".

Look, they are not pro-life, on this or any other issue, and you know it, so why keep doing this? They aren't opposing women's reproductive control because they want to save lives, they are opposing women's reproductive control because they oppose women's reproductive control. They want women to be punished for having sex. They don't care if people die. None of their policies have anything to do with protecting life.

If anything, they deserve to be called the "pro-death" movement, because that's where their policies go - including their position on reproductive choice.

We are the pro-life movement. We're the ones who want to stop war and care for the poor and the sick. We're the ones who want to make sure children in our society are taken care of. And we're the ones who want to be sure that children are loved and their mothers don't die having abortions.

The anti-choicers don't want women to have abortions even when they know that both mother and fetus will die as a result of the pregnancy. Even when they know that there will never, ever be a live birth. And if it's a choice between the mother and the life of a blastocyst, they will always choose against the woman. Their policies are so punitive that you can't help getting the impression that they enjoy the fact that women will die. And they certainly don't worry about all those children their wars are killing. Nor do they care about all the children who are dying in America because of lack of healthcare.

They are petty and nasty and spiteful and murderous people and it is disgusting that they call themselves "pro-life".

"Pro-life" is how they want to be identified because it steals the moral high-ground for them. Don't help them out, eh?

13:03 BST

They're stealing the media

The FCC is trying to sneak one past us again - they suddenly announced that they were going to announce the new rules on media monopoly in a month. That's not a lot of time for consultation with the public, is it? And it's clear that they want to do is eliminate the restrictions on media monopolies. It would become legal for one entity to own all the newspapers, radio stations, television stations, etc., in an area. Maybe even the entire country.

Obviously, this is something that has to be stopped, and fast. Byron Dorgan is leading the charge:

U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) predicted Wednesday the Senate will vote to reject efforts to relax media ownership rules. "If the FCC proceeds on the schedule it is planning, it will be a big mistake," Dorgan said. "It's clear the concentration of media ownership that has already taken place has not been good for our country. I'm confident any plan to allow additional concentration of media ownership will be rejected."

Dorgan said the rushed schedule the FCC is planning for proposing and voting on the proposed rules change is also unacceptable.

"In a democracy, making sure that citizens are able to get news and information from a variety of independently owned sources is crucial," Dorgan said. "We already have too much concentration of media ownership. Before the FCC moves forward to allow even more, we need to have an informed, reasoned and unrushed discussion about that. The American people need to be heard."

I disagree with Dorgan on a number of things, but this is one that he's right on. Rachel interviewed him on her show, and as always you can hear it here until it's replaced with the next show.

Barack Obama has called the FCC's call for an early vote on the rules change "irresponsible":

"Minority-owned and -operated newspapers and radio stations play a critical role in the African-American and Latino communities and bring minority issues to the forefront of our national discussion," writes Obama, also a Democratic candidate for president. "However, the commission has failed to further the goals of diversity in the media and promote localism, and, as a result, it is in no position to justify allowing for increased consolidation of the market."
Meanwhile, in the continuing story of conservatives buying up local stations that carry Air America Radio and turning them to Christian, sports, or Spanish-language programming (usually in markets that are already saturated with same), despite the fact that AAR gets higher listenership, Austin's KOKE went dark earlier this month and the local community is trying to get together to get another station to carry AAR.

03:08 BST

Blogger's notebook

Digby notes that holding this administration - and their criminal helpers in the telecoms industry - should not not be a tough call for Congress. And yet, somehow... (with guest harmony by Michael Bérubé.)

What was the press like in 1959? Let Alan Bisbort remind you. And Bill Scher says, "Of course, this is how the question will likely be framed for the next two years: would you "allow" Iran to have a nuclear weapon (or have the "knowledge" to build a nuclear weapon), or would you go to war first? What we shouldn't allow is having the Iran issue framed this way."

So, the Senate confirmed the appalling Leslie Southwick today. Creeps. The Stark Reality: "we have got to get rid of these people."

Avram has some interesting links here, but the one for "what if the makers of 300 made a movie about the American Revolutionary War?" died, alas. (Note to Jon Ronson: It's only bad if you use it as a swearword.) Also via ML, Neil Gaiman on things you don't know about the characters.

Are you a fembot?

01:39 BST

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Stuff I saw

In Salon, Juan Cole on The collapse of Bush's foreign policy, Glenn Greenwald says that Dodd is showing leadership while Clinton and Obama are just playing games (and he points to Dodd's appearance at Firedoglake), and Pam Spaulding says Obama has hit the third rail of black homophobia.

Thanks to D. for tipping me off to the post at The Group News Blog on the abusive daddy party. Also, gratuitous photo appears in political post. (And D. also directs me to another fine Telnaes cartoon.)

Robert Parry says they're spying on me: "Bush's Spying Hits Americans Abroad." Although, to be honest, I suspect they're spying on you, too.

Another Alterman recommendation: "That said, I would like to call everyone's attention to an important article that appears in the current issue of International Security that relates to the press coverage of the conflict. It is a non-negotiable 'fact,' according to the Likudnik Lobby and many gullible supporters of Israel, that The New York Times' coverage of Israel is somehow unsympathetic to Israel. [...] Jerome Slater, university research scholar at the State University of New York at Buffalo, surveys six years of Middle East coverage in The New York Times and Ha'aretz and discovers the following: The United States' near-unconditional support of Israel's policies toward the Palestinians has been disastrous not only for Israelis and Palestinians, but also for U.S. national interests. The largely uninformed and uncritical media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the United States -- especially in The New York Times -- holds the Palestinians largely responsible for the lack of progress toward a two-state solution. On the other hand, Israeli media -- in particular, Ha'aretz -- has been much more critical of Israeli policies. The U.S. government is less likely to call on Israel to change its policies toward Palestinians until public discourse in the United States begins to demand such change. [...] 'Muting the Alarm over the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The New York Times versus Haaretz, 2000-06' by Jerome Slater is here. here." (.pdf)

We just happened to catch the end of some Michael Palin thing with a scene that was shot in this place, and we were amazed. It's the chapel in a salt mine in Poland, and it's all made, by the miners themselves, out of salt. Details here, and more here.

21:28 BST

Reading room

It appears Hillary's camp has noticed concerns on the left flank about her support for executive power, because she's now made a statement that she will "review everything they've done." She made a relatively strong-sounding statement about the administration stepping over the line, but she's said nothing specific, and she hedged on Mukasey. (Meanwhile, former GOP Attorney General Dick Thornburgh says he believes there were prosecutions of individuals because they were Democrats. And the State Department starts thinking that maybe there should be oversight of contractors. Plus: Josh Marshall catches up with Islamofascism Awareness Week!)

Steve Clemons says, "If You Liked Bush, Then You'll Love Giuliani." And he also asks, "What Did Syria Have Going On?"

Jim Hightower, "Is a Presidential Coup Under Way? Where is Congress? It's way past time for members to stand up. Historic matters are at stake. The Constitution is being trampled, the very form of our government is being perverted, and nothing less than American democracy itself is endangered -- a presidential coup is taking place." Yeah, I miss Barbara Jordan, too. Via The Rusted View.

Eric Alterman makes a recommendation: "'They can't help themselves. They want to confess....' is the way Tom Engelhardt begins 'Bush's Pentagon Papers,' with the latest Bush administration torture-document revelations in mind. [...] Engelhardt makes sense of the obsessional nature of the Bush administration's focus on torture and the conundrum that it produced. In search of a world where they could do anything, Bush, Cheney, and their top officials reached instinctively for torture, not for its practical value, but as a symbol. After all, if you could get the right to torture, then you could assumedly get the right to do just about anything in your commander-in-chief presidency. With this urge came another -- to make their power public; hence, the existence of Guantanamo as the public face of their secret offshore penal system."

15:49 BST

News and views

Josh Marshall: "This is fascinating. You remember a few days ago, Sen. Dodd -- who sometimes doubles as a presidential candidate -- said he would filibuster the telecom immunity bill now moving through the senate. Now both Hillary and Obama are saying they'd support Dodd's filibuster."

Digby says that Fareed Zakaria is very, very shrill: "Doesn't Zakaria realize that today's enemies are the strongest, most evil threats the world has ever known? Stalin and Mao were a couple of girlymen compared to Ahmadinejad. And Hitler was nothing but a big baby compared to bin Laden. That's why we need the gargantuan, turgid, throbbing rhetoric of giants like Rudy Giuliani to save us from these monsters. Doesn't he understand that they are coming to kill us all in our beds any minute and we will have to run for our lives unless the Republicans protect us?" (As a companion piece, eRobin at Fact-esque on the closing of Overton's Window.) Digby also recalls the punchline to the old concentration camp joke, "Don't Make Trouble," when discussing the failures of the Democratic Party. I'm afraid it's apt.

Charles Dodgson on "the basic fraudulence of American political discourse" in light of the effects of "the surge".

Jonathan Schwarz has a bunch of great posts over at A Tiny Revolution. Read about Hillary & The Appalling Scumbags, and William Bennett's enlightening explanation of how Japan and the Nazis lost. Also, a very linky post.

Frank Melton sure does sound like a dreadful mayor.

There's an out gay man out gay man running for Elizabeth Dole's seat, but the DSCC doesn't seem to be paying attention. (More on the candidate, Jim Neal, here.)

Uh oh, looks like that California initiative to split the state's electoral votes is raising its ugly head again.

13:18 BST

In the tubes

Riverbend reports from Syria: "The first evening we arrived, exhausted, dragging suitcases behind us, morale a little bit bruised, the Kurdish family sent over their representative - a 9 year old boy missing two front teeth, holding a lopsided cake, 'We're Abu Mohammed's house- across from you- mama says if you need anything, just ask- this is our number. Abu Dalia's family live upstairs, this is their number. We're all Iraqi too... Welcome to the building.' I cried that night because for the first time in a long time, so far away from home, I felt the unity that had been stolen from us in 2003."

The Los Angeles Times has a map of the wildfires.

Barbara Ehrenreich says, "Happy Fascism Awareness Week!" (You know, I very much doubt that Horowitz, Coulter, et al. have the faintest clue what is said about extremist Islamists in women's studies classes.)

David Obey: "Its amazing to me that the President expects to be taken seriously when he says we cannot afford $20 billion in investments in education, health, law enforcement and science, which will make this country stronger over the long term, but he doesn't blink an eye at asking to borrow $200 billion for a policy in Iraq that leaves us six months from now exactly where we were six months ago. Only this White House would call this progress. The President needs to rethink his position on both fronts." Right, so how are you going to vote, guys? (via)

Reprehensible: Who told Pete Stark he had to apologize? And why did 13 Democrats fail to vote against censure? (Stark sure wasn't wrong.)

Imperial Ecuador: "Ecuadorís leftist President Rafael Correa said Washington must let him open a military base in Miami if the United States wants to keep using an air base on Ecuadorís Pacific coast."

Really expensive bra (Thanks to MadKane for the tip.)

02:50 BST

Bloggity blog

As previously noted, George Walker Bush (a) isn't funny and (b) often tells the truth when he's supposedly joking or "misstating". So, what does he mean when he quips that he's planning to follow in Putin's footsteps? (Also: These people should just shut up about the cat. It was Chelsea's cat, anyway.)

Thanks to jello for tipping me off to this item in Parade: "Do Senators Vote Anymore? In one recent week, the Senate passed 153 bills - without voting on a single one. Instead, the measures were 'hotlined,' or approved by whatís called 'unanimous consent.' How it works: Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, and Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, agree to pass a bill. Then each Senator is called on a special hotline and asked if he or she objects. They may have as little as 15 minutes to respond - and if their staff misses the call, the bill sails on. While some of the hotlined bills just named post offices, others authorized hundreds of millions of dollars in new spending - $294 million over five years in one piece of legislation alone."

"Judging The Justices" - Diane found a piece in the LAT by Thomas J. Miles and Cass R. Sunstein tallying up the Supreme Court for bias and activism.

Kevin Hayden tells me that Lefty Blogs is doing that by-state aggregator he would have done if he'd had the software.

"How stupid do Mitt and his minions think we are?" Stupid enough to believe he "accidentally" "corrected" himself to say "Barack Obama" when he started to say - correctly - "Osama bin Laden". Or maybe he understands that it makes no difference to point it out.

A message from Patti Smith and friends.

Via Eschaton:
* Jim Henley on the Higazy case. (Just for the record, I had my post on it mostly finished this morning before Kevin did, but then the doorbell rang. Not lack of interest, just busy.)
* Josh Marshall noting that "most" of the Founding Fathers were clergymen only if the number of FFs was a number between one and two. (Last I heard, there were over 50 of 'em, and most were Deists - and most of their wives were Catholics.)
* Roy Edroso discovers that "sensible libertarian" Glenn Reynolds channels Limbaugh and O'Reilly.

00:37 BST

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Land of the free, continued

Steve Bergstein was reading a rather exciting and revealing court decision:

The long and the short of it was that an Egpytian national, Abdallah Higazy, was staying in a hotel in New York City on September 11 and the hotel emptied out when the planes hit the towers. The hotel later found in the closet of his room a device that allows you to communicate with airline pilots. Investigators thought this guy had something to do with 9/11 so they questioned him. According to Higazi, the investigators coerced him into confessing to a role in 9/11. Higazi first adamantly denied any involvement with 9/11 and could not believe what was happening to him. Then, he says, the investigator said his family would go through hell in Egypt, where they torture people like Saddam Hussein. Higazy then realized he had a choice: he could continue denying the radio was his and his family suffers ungodly torture in Egypt or he confesses and his family is spared. Of course, by confessing, Higazy's life is worth garbage at that point, but ... well, that's why coerced confessions are outlawed in the United States.

So Higazy "confesses" and he's processed by the criminal justice system. His future is quite bleak. Meanwhile, an airline pilot later shows up at the hotel and asks for his radio back. This is like something out of the movies. The radio belonged to the pilot, not Higazy, and Higazy was free to go, the victim of horrible timing. Higazi was innocent! He next sued the hotel and the FBI agent for coercing his confession. The bottom line in the Court of Appeals: Higazy has a case and may recover damages for this injustice.

As I read the opinion I realized it was a 44 page epic, too long for me to print out. I blogged about the opinion while I read it online and then posted the blog as I ate lunch. Then something strange happened: a few minutes after I posted the blog, the opinion vanished from the Court of Appeals website! I had never seen this before, and what made all the more strange was that it involved a coerced confession over 9/11. What the hell was going on?

I let some other legal bloggers know about this, particularly the How Appealing blog and Appellate Law and Practice. They both ran a commentary on the missing opinion. Then someone sent How Appealing a PDF of the decision (probably very few of them were floating around since the opinion was posted for a brief period of time) and How Appealing posted the decision.

Then things got even stranger. The Court of Appeals actually phoned How Appealing to request that he remove the opinion from his website since it contained classified information. The Court said that a revised opinion would come out the next day without the classified information. How Appealing actually refused to remove the opinion. Through it all, hundreds of people came to my legal blog to see my summary of the opinion. It was either my blog or printing out and reading a 44 page epic.

The next day, the Court of Appeals reissued the Higazy opinion. With a redaction.

You should read the whole thing, but the short version is that there was top secret information about how they extract confessions that mustn't get into enemy hands - that is, that you can threaten people to get "confessions" out of them. Because no one would ever think of that, and no one knows we've already been doing it and it's been in all the papers for several years now.

In other anti-terrorist follies, a judge declares a mistrial in the case of someone who appears to have no ties to terrorism, rather than allow a proper "not guilty" - so the government can waste more money trying the same non-terrorist again. And Chertoff breaks the law to build a fence.

17:14 BST

In Blogtopia
Yes! Skippy!

Something else that was wrong with the stupid NYT review of Krugman's book is that the quote he used to establish that Krugman is "not really an economist" didn't say what he claims at all. Via Paul Krugman, who also notes that State hired Blackwater because Rumsfeld wouldn't provide them security.

Skimble is right - this doesn't make you not think about sex.

What a surprise, the conduit between the White House and Drudge is famous illegal voting rights-suppressor Tim Griffin. (And how can I not love Susie when she's another P.F. Sloan fan?)

Just think, over 30,000 of our troops are foreigners.

Please send Alberto to jail.

Thanks to Steve Bates for supplying the link for Texas Progressive Political Blog Directory. And to Linkmeister for reminding me of The American Street's Peer Directory by state.

Trailer for Brian De Palma's Redacted, which I hear is a really good thriller.

John Mellencamp's "Jena", via Riverheart.

01:25 BST

Monday, 22 October 2007

He built a fire on Main Street and shot it full of holes

Democracy Now, "Verizon, AT&T Executives Give Over $40,000 to Sen. Rockefeller: In news from Capitol Hill, reports executives from Verizon and AT&T have started pouring political contributions into the coffers of Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. Rockefeller chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Last week he voted to support giving the telecoms retroactive immunity from lawsuits over the companies role in the Bush administration's secret, warrantless surveillance programs that targeted Americans. In March, top Verizon executives, including CEO Ivan Seidenberg and President Dennis Strigl, wrote personal checks to Rockefeller totaling $23,500. AT&T executives have also donated more than $19,000 to Rockefellar since April. Prior to this spring, donations from Verizon and AT&T executives to Rockefeller were almost non existent. Both Verizon and AT&T are being sued for allegedly turning over billions of calling records to the government." Inspiring my commenter jello to say*: "i hope callers to senators ask pointed questions such as 'i hope contributions from interested telecoms aren't going to influence you're vote.' or 'how much is at&t giving you?'"

Why do people who know about corrupt mercenaries in Iraq keep "committing suicide"?

Horowitz calls it "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week", but Will Bunch thinks it should be called "Rick Santorum is Still Around Awareness Week". (Will and Juan Cole are wrong about the racism, though: racism, though frequently found among fascists, is not intrinsic to fascism. A demand of religious uniformity is at least as common among them.) (via)

Trust The Washington Post to catch an extraordinarily dumb article from Michael Gerson in which he accused young people of being turned off by the Republican Party because of their boring message of "spending restraint and limited government". Comedy gold.

Mark at Adult Video News is Inside the Five Star Video Obscenity Trial in Phoenix.

23:23 BST

Sins of a family

Wait a minute - Two Democratic presidential candidates threaten to filibuster a bill their own party is allowing to go to the floor (and two others are making noises like they might support it), and The New York Times doesn't think that's a story?

You know, and I know, that it was more than obvious by 2002 that giving George Bush authority to use force in Iraq just because a good president would use that authority wisely made no more sense than letting a known child-molester babysit your kid while you're out of town for a week just because a good babysitter could be trusted. Why do so many of our "serious" people fail to understand this? (And this, too.)

C&L: Late Edition: Hoekstra and Harman Denounce Bush Administration for Leaks of Israeli Bombing of Syria; Valerie Plame speaks, and Tweety tweets on Bill Maher.

Dave Johnson alerts us to an aggregator for progressive California blogs. (There needs to be one for every state, and a single list of all of them, somewhere. Anyone doing that?) And Bill Richardson says Mukasey should answer the question on torture or withdraw. Also: Welcome to captivity.

Thers says: "I aim to misbehave."

Yes, it's true: If you don't tell me, I don't know. I've read zillions of books by Americans in which I know the characters are white precisely because they don't say they're anything else. I don't think they're "like me", because they aren't. I think they're white because you know and I know that the default "person" is a white man. If you say nothing, they're still white.

16:39 BST

Checkin' it out

In The New York Times, Adam Liptak is talking about the loss of free speech in America, in "Say What You Like, Just Donít Say It Here." As we know, foreign academics and even artists are being denied entry to the US because they are critical of our government (or just Muslims in some cases). "The question before the judges considering the two cases is thus a difficult one. What role should the First Amendment play when foreigners are doing the talking and the topic may be terror?" Of course, this shouldn't even be a question. Free speech just isn't a sometimes thing. (Nor is the topic "terror" just because the government chooses to ignore some kinds of terrorism and focus on others.)

Richard Bruce Cheney gave a speech containing some predictable lies and ginning up war against Iran, and Gregory at Belgravia Dispatch says: "It's really an appallingly strange time in our country. We have a singularly powerful Vice-President (compared to any of his predecessors)--openly quite enamored by the tactics employed by the Soviet Union--our former arch-foe whose human rights standards we derided. Indeed, we fought a decades-long Cold War so that Western style constitutional freedoms would trump Soviet authoritarianism. But yes, from this Sovietophile posture, use of torture and black-sites and detention without habeas corpus protections makes all the sense in the world, doesn't it? Because we have a Vice-President all but openly emulating and cheer-leading the tactics of the KGB, not in the wilds of Wyoming, but to a soi disant sophisticated audience in Washington DC. Put differently, he is very proud of his world-view, indeed eager to share it with Beltway 'elites'. Who will clear this dangerous rot out of Washington and help us restore our good name? The stakes are high, that is, the preservation of the American democratic model as a leading force for moderation and rule of law on the world stage."

Over at Tennessee Guerilla Women, egalia has a bit of coverage of the recent Republican debate, particularly regarding fear of Hillary. And Bill Maher has some good advice for "values voters".

Good point: "I watched Timmeh's interview of Stephen Colbert this morning. I'd have to say it was the hardest-hitting interview he's done in 15 years. Sad. " (C&L version)

Hillary Knew, via Middle Earth Journal.

I'm still pretty buzzed out. You know, I can't remember when I've enjoyed a live concert that much.

13:40 BST

Back late from a surprise event

So, this guy I haven't heard from in a couple of decades sends me an e-mail and says he's in town and can I get up to Kilburn on Sunday night, and he Has A Plan. Now, I don't like to go out Sunday nights because that means I miss Sam Seder live on the SammyCam, but I always did like Graham and he's being all mysterious, so how can I refuse? It's supposedly for dinner but due to some bad timing and messed up trains I missed that part and end up in this little place where P.F. Sloan is playing. I've been hooked on PFS since I was 14 but I've never seen him play. And he did a few of my favorites, and some of his more famous tunes and some new ones, and I even got a hug when I bought the new CD and got him to sign it. I went all teenaged.

02:21 BST

Sunday, 21 October 2007

I hear he wasn't that good as a sports reporter, either

It would almost be a decent column about what's wrong with the line-item veto, a stupid idea that conservatives have been pushing for decades, now, except that, this being George F. Will, he completely fails to mention that his arguments apply equally to the "unitary executive" theory and signing statements, and he also says:

The line-item veto expresses liberalism's faith in top-down government and the watery Caesarism that has produced today's inflated presidency. Liberalism assumes that executive branch experts, free from parochial constituencies, know, as Congress does not, what is good for the nation "as a whole." This is contrary to the public philosophy of James Madison's "extensive" republic with its many regions and myriad interests.
I see. In the same way that Republicans persistently expand government when they are in power, and then complain that "liberals believe in big government", we are now being given a new theory of liberalism that is defined by the runaway executive best exemplified by George Bush, Dick Cheney and their authoritarian supporters.

16:34 BST

Only you can save America

As I mentioned earlier, Democratic Party insiders - and I include many good-guys in this - perceive the netroots as people who stay home in front of their computers instead of getting out and doing something. To a certain extent, this is true - a lot of people are devoting their energies to blogging rather than to public activism, and it seems to have enervating effect for many. But the netroots do make a difference, as Chris Bowers details here. Online activism has generated quite a bit more money than you may realize, particularly for candidates who have had little support from the party itself. As Chris notes, this is especially useful in that it creates challenges that draw resources from the GOP in areas where they thought they wouldn't have to fight. And many people who have gotten involved online do indeed get involved in the real world - pay particular attention to Chris' sixth point, about people who are networked into local party infrastructure via the net. If you really want to make a difference, use that as an instruction - a lot of positions in local party groups are vacant because they don't have enough people do to the work. You can amplify your own voice considerably by getting involved at that level.

But, as I say, getting out there in the streets is important. The new new mobe to end the war in Iraq is set for Saturday, October 27th, and there are regional demos planned for 11 cities, none of which, I'm interested to note, is Washington, DC. I don't know why that is, but perhaps it would be a good day for hundreds of people to show up at The Washington Post demanding more honest coverage of what's happening on the Hill. Perhaps being mobbed would wake them up. It is unfair to blame the American people for the wretched job our "leaders" are doing; they're smarter than legislators who get their cues from the media. As eRobin says, "I submit that the American people can get their teeth into and their heads around any crisis facing the country if the facts of it are presented to them clearly and repeatedly. It's the powers that be behind the corporate media in whom I have no faith." Americans have decided without the help of the press that our country is being mismanaged. Now someone has to tell our "public servants". Unfortunately, they read The Washington Post.

14:41 BST

Last night's links

Wrong-wingers say Pete Stark should apologize, but Stephanie Miller says it's Bush who should apologize. Chris Matthews wants to know who wingnuts mean when they say "They".

It's always worried me that we have to rely on translators to find out what some people said. Because you just know that, as with the Ahmadinnerjacket quote, someone is going to try to slip one by us.

Steve Soto writes a letter to Diane Feinstein: "I never thought I would see the day when the Democratic Party would abandon the Constitution to avoid a fight with those who would trample upon it to maintain unchecked executive power." (Also via Steve, this Zogby poll showing Hillary Clinton with 50% negatives. No wonder the Republicans want her to be the nominee.)

Links via Eschaton:

* Trust Obama to slap us in the face by sucking up to anti-gay bigots. This guy can be so charming when he wants to, but he's compiling quite a record of shouting from the rooftops that he spits on progressives. (Steve Soto refers to this as channelling his "inner Lieberman".)

* I really thought the NYT's habit of making sure that reviews of political books would be done by right-wing hacks would not extend to a book by one of their own columnists, but I was wrong. I guess they knew that they'd get hammered by the wrong-wing if they allowed Krugman a fair review.

* The Raw Story has the video of Katie Couric talking about her interview with Valerie Plame.

13:28 BST

Half moon, night-time sky

Fantasie Smoothing underwired multiway braBra of the Week

More microphotography, via Biomes Blog.

Watch Frontline's "Cheney's Law" in its entirety.

David Horowitz is on another one of his campaigns against freedom of thought, pretending to be worried about the lack of women's rights and religious freedom in...Iran, of course. World Can't Wait says wear orange this week.

Yes, it's true, the NHS has been underfunded ever since the neoliberals (as they are called here) got their hands on it. But it's still better than what you get in America.

Howie Kurtz confirmed Digby's criticism of the press corps by responding to it. You have to wonder if he has any idea how stupid he sounds.

Barbara O'Brien on Faux Outrage from the right over Pete Stark's perfectly true remarks. But we know this - the minute someone to the left of the crazy right-wing tells some truth, you can't count to ten before the loonies erupt in hurt feelings.

Jamison Foser this week discusses not just the abuse of Gore in the press, but the fact that most Democrats still don't get it that the media launches such furious attacks on liberals and Democrats.

Wally, June, and Ward explain to Beaver that the Democratic field is not hopeless.

Our favorite Hugo-winner agrees: It is better to enjoy people's company than to treat them as stepping stones.

Don't forget to pick up your copy of the Sunday Times with the free copy of Ray Davies' new album.


00:20 BST

Saturday, 20 October 2007

"Mrs. Peel, we're needed."

Paul Krugman and MahaBarb both have things to say about how the Democratic Party has been winning back corporate donors and how that may bode ill for progressives, but there has always been a way to counterbalance that, and it's still true. After all, in the days before Rove/Bush, business used to give to both parties.

So, when did progressive do better?

When we put our bodies where our politics were.

One reason why a lot of Democratic Party insiders have a lot of contempt for bloggers is that we are sitting in front of our computers getting fat rather than getting out where it becomes a public affair. It's all very well to phone and mail legislatures (and you should), but you need to be out there where people can see you.

Yes, I know people are still shy about being associated with the circus, but visibility matters. It's a lot harder for the talking heads to pretend that Bush is still popular and people don't mind the destruction of the Constitution if they're being deafened by protests.

And 2007 is not 1968. The public isn't freaked out by hippies anymore, it's freaked out by losing a major American city, and being known as a nation of torturers, and having our money sucked away by an illegal war and assorted con-men in expensive suits.

Thom Hartmann often points out that neither of the Roosevelts ran as progressives, and Lyndon Johnson certainly didn't run on civil rights. When progressives came to FDR with their program he let them know that he was convinced, but he needed one more thing: "Make me."

They did it because we made them. It wasn't done just by people sitting at home and writing.

Yes, I know the media seems to find it easy to down-play public action. That just means there's a need to get better at being more visible. Take your demonstrations to the media. I'm all for a big demonstration at the doors of The Washington Post, and one the next weekend at NBC, and the next weekend at CBS, and the next weekend at ABC, and the next weekend at The New York Times. Wear a suit. Have a simple message: Stop the war, bring freedom back to America.

It's up to you to give them a spine.

17:05 BST

Stalking the wild internet

David Sirota worries about The Dangers of Wearing Bourgeois Class On Our Sleeve: "But here's what bothers me. Dodd is the chairman of the Banking Committee -- one of the most powerful panels overseeing all the financial and regulatory issues that working-class folks face every single day of their lives. The mortgage foreclosure crisis is just one huge example. And yet, there has been relatively little netroots or blogospheric pressure on Dodd to use his chairmanship for such issues of economic power and class." But here's the thing: Dodd is not going to be president. Rewarding Dodd for standing up for the Constitution isn't a message to Dodd, it's a message to the other candidates who actually stand a chance of becoming the nominee. It says there's a constituency for the Constitution that can generate $150,000 in 24 hours that could be theirs - and so far, is not. (Thanks to eRobin for the tip.)

Rachel Maddow did a live show from Madison Friday and talked to Russ Feingold. You can listen all weekend (and Monday until her next show airs) here. Rachel discussed SCHIP lies with Keith Olbermann the other night, And she did the Today show and made a great job of de-spinning Bush's Iran rhetoric vs. Michael Smerconish. Lookin' good, too. (And guess which candidate is winning the Halloween mask sweepstakes.)

Lambert put in a call to Harry Reid's office and let them know that he's wondering if Reid has been compromised. Me, I never trusted him, anyway. I mean, you can't really expect someone to get the idea of privacy and being secure in our persons, houses, papers, and effects, when they are willing to forgo the most personal security of all and instead support forced pregnancy.

"Sex: Some Common Sense, Please" - Diane is pleased to see that, in Portland, they're not satisfied with abstinance-only miseducation, and they're doing something about it.

Coulter Perfected and Naked Michele Malkin. Plus, Christopher Hitchens has a makeover!

Jimmy Carter, Man From Plains, from Jonathan Demme. (I like that music.)

12:28 BST

Friday, 19 October 2007

No doubt we could put it to a better use

Dodd says he will filibuster if the telecoms amnesty comes to the floor. (Yes, he's not my ideal candidate, folks, but I really hate it that I have to choose between the candidate who's for the Constitution, the one who's for ordinary working people, the one who wants to end the occupation, and the one who can win.)

"Iraq to Cheney: 'Big fat no' on bases in Iraq: The Iraqi government has 'put the U.S. on notice' that they do not want permanent U.S. bases in Iraq, CNN reports today. The message was 'delivered directly to Vice President Dick Cheney at the White House' by Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak Al-Rubaie, who told CNN that Iraqis say, 'No, big fat no, N-O for the bases in Iraq'"

Mukasey's most disappointing answer: "WHITEHOUSE: Is waterboarding constitutional? MUKASEY: I don't know what is involved in the technique. If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional." Well, torture is not constitutional whether waterboarding is torture or not, but the United States of America has always defined waterboarding as torture. Why doesn't Mukasey know that, and why did he use that construction?

Representative Pete Stark says thanks to Daily Kos for the support.

AT&T - The New Enron: "We may now be looking at a much more significant scandal, but this time around it's about more than simple greed - and instead of reform we're looking at a whitewash. The telecommunication companies have become gatekeepers to the information age. We seem to be in the midst of a fundamental transition where almost all common communication - digital phone, email, voice over IP, cell phone, etc. - are provided by one of a handful of companies. In theory the internet is wide open and we can make connections with just about anyone, but in practice it isn't shaping up that way. We already have suppression of political speech, a preemptive censorship clause in a license agreement and one company has even created a domestic surveillance menu for the government."

Abstinence 1, S-Chip 0: "By dropping the financing for abstinence-only sex ed, Congress could save enough money to insure 150,000 children a year. And it would also demonstrate much needed resolve to protect all aspects of children's health."

20:47 BST

It's the time of the season

Red leavesI think eRobin is right and that Chris Dodd is the candidate we should rally around. I'm not ready to announce my engagement, yet, but I think this is the period to suddenly start showing the love for Senator Dodd. Atrios is right that Dodd's hold shows leadership - it's something that's not without its risks for Dodd, as Kagro X explains, which in itself shows some real courage. As Atrios says, we should "reward good behavior with cash. Or, at least, consider signing a petition with your support." You might also want to call his office on (202) 224-2823 and thank him, and don't forget to call your Senators and tell them to support him. Maybe even write to your local paper and alert big media that you have suddenly become very excited about Chris Dodd. (You might want to thank Leahy for his strong comments, too.) Update: Ask Harry Reid for an explanation for this betrayal.

And while you're at it, thank Pete Stark for his statement during the SCHIP floor debate - and tell your House member how much you appreciate Stark's honesty on this matter, despite the fact that the wingers are throwing a hissy fit over it. And tell the DNC what you think, as well.

Rick Perlstein, "It's not just the children: The consequences of the conservative strategy of obstructing every piece of popular legislation that would improve the lot of ordinary Americans spread like kudzu. The Military Times points to one that escaped most of our notice. Did you know that the House attached to its reauthorization and expansion of SCHIP an amendment to 'expand family leave rights for people caring for wounded service members'? That it 'was endorsed by a bipartisan presidential commission'?" Via AltHippo.

I see the anti-choicers are trying to pretend that abortion bans reduce abortion because it's harder to get an abortion in Europe than in the US. Scott takes this apart pretty effectively, but, honestly, it's a joke to suggest that it's harder to get an abortion over here. Although there are a few bits of process you have to go through, in practical terms most of western Europe effectively has free abortion on demand. (And, yes, Mukasey just looks good by contrast, but the real contrast in this case is with what we have as acting AG if Mukasey isn't confirmed, and he's at least as bad as Gonzales. Nevertheless, as my commenter jello points out*, "all despotic regimes deny they torture.")

Live Zombies

13:55 BST

Late night news and stuff

Chris Dodd: "I have decided to place a "hold" on the latest FISA bill that would have included amnesty for telecommunications companies that enabled the President's assault on the Constitution by illegally providing personal information on their customers without judicial authorization."

The Impolitic: "Not unexpectedly, the SCHIP override failed by a heartbreaking 13 votes and the conduct of the Congresslizards that opposed it was breathtakingly slimy."

Damn, I missed The Funny Farm blogiversary again. I like the bumper sticker. (I'm worried about that guy who uses six exclamation points. Are you sure you're safe?)

A little reminder of the way judges are supposed to deal with matters that may involve people known to them, as opposed to the way certain Supreme Court justices behave.

Argue With Everyone, discussion forum.

03:02 BST

Thursday, 18 October 2007

In this broken land

Most polls show support for SCHIP is relatively strong among Americans, but some are iffier, and what's going on in Congress doesn't have much to do with what Americans think, anyway. But Digby thinks there's a lot more going on here than just an argument about one bill - rather, it's about which party gets to survive.

TPMmuckraker did some liveblogging of the Mukasey hearing, and there are some interesting responses, some of which actually make him sound good. The trouble is, we so expect all of these people to lie now that you can't help thinking they just managed to find someone who is good at it for a change.

And that telecoms bill? "But on the most contentious aspect of the debate -- retroactive legal immunity for telecommunications companies cooperating with the Bush administration -- the Senate has apparently justified the ACLU's worst fears." You know the drill. (They don't even ask you your name anymore.)

How Rush Limbaugh kills critical stories about him.

15:24 BST

Blogger's notebook

Twenty thousand families are about to be given some bad news - The Pentagon wants to suck up a whole lot more National Guard Units. Doesn't look like we'll have many left to do the real national guarding, does it?

So much for debt relief - Owe ten million? Pay the vultures $127m to redeem it.

More family values. Man, they're like some kind of hippie commune!

Reading Faithful Progressive's thoughts after watching the Frontline segment on Cheney, I couldn't help thinking that there really is no point in distinguishing anymore between "old-fashioned" and modern Republicans. For one thing, I'm not sure any of those who remain aren't equally authoritarian, because how do you vote with this party if you actually believe in representative government? (And McCain may talk a good game about torture, but this seems to be in the service of finessing any attempts to rein it in. When it came down to stopping it, he went with BushCo, not with humanity. McCain was always a right-wing crack-pot, anyway, but he just used to hide it better.) The reason people are leaving the GOP in droves is because they have suddenly come to realize what they really stand for.

Bush apparently thinks we should start World War Three to avoid World War Three. Thoreau says: "Some day, other countries' versions of neocons will say 'It's just like 2007, and [insert leader here] is just like Bush. If we don't start a pointless war RIGHT NOW, he'll take yet another country! We must act NOW to prevent another world war!'"

Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) was a little-known Congressman who's been losing ground in his district because he's on the wrong side of the issues, but some of his constituents probably didn't know what those positions were until his office decided that the best way to combat a local activist's questions was to get in his face and personally attack him on camera. Personal attacks are, of course, how Republicans deal with disagreement. Rachel Maddow talks to Keith about it on Countdown.

13:46 BST

Political stew

Ruth watched Frontline and says, "The Presidency is a Trust, Not a Trophy." Indeed. But Bush and Cheney took the oath of office and decided that far from being the servants they swore to be, they were rulers.

"We are not better off today than we were seven years ago. Focus with me on the American economy for just a moment. A look at the stock markets makes the case that the Republican Party is no longer the party of business, thanks to the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush" (Via Hugo.)

Monkeyfister says "We DO NOT have a candidate for the Presidency. Either Party." But we have a new entrant into the race.

I heard on the radio that Dennis Kucinich said that as soon as the new president is sworn in they should round up the administration and hold them to account for their crimes (or something like that). Unfortunately, I can't find a link for it (you got one?). [Update: Link] Meanwhile, have some Kucinich TV. (And here he is on The Colbert Report.)


Microscopic Paradise - These are beautiful.

01:32 BST

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

In the intertubes

Al says no: "Former US vice president Al Gore said today that winning the Nobel Peace Prize has not made him want to enter the 2008 presidential race. Mr Gore told Norwegian state broadcaster NRK: "I don't have plans to be a candidate again, so I don't really see it in that context at all.""

"UK scientists defend Gore film: Two of the UK's leading climate scientists have hit out at the judge who made the controversial ruling last week on Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth "

Bob Somerby has returned again to examination of the media's War on Gore - which, strangely, Jonathan Chait believes started on 9/11. But, as we can't forget, it was in overdrive in 1999 and cost Gore the election. Bob notes that some people remember, not least among them Gene Lyons. (I am annoyed to note that The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette now has its opinion columns behind a paywall, stupidly.)

I see via Atrios, who has it exactly right, that the House just passed a reprehensible shield law for the paid press - but not for a free press. It's about protecting journalists rather than protecting whistle-blowers. "Yay whistleblower protection. Boo defining journalism based on whether it makes you money." Too right. (Also: Bush tied with Nixon's popularity levels.)

Arthur Silber, "A Nation on the Edge of the Final Descent (II): A Culture of Lies, and a Desperate Need for Action" - The situation is untenable, and Arthur really does have a suggestion. Please take a look.

Fact-esque: "There is very disturbing talk coming out of the very disturbing White House about a compromise on the SCHIP bill. Even more upsetting is the suggestion I read somewhere (can't remember or find where) that the Dems may throw FISA under the bus to get what they want on SCHIP. So the GOP is holding poor children hostage so that they can trample on the Constitution. I wish the Dems had a No Negotiations With Terrorists policy." And then there's the funny language coming out of leading Democrats about how if they can't override the veto, they'll got back and come up with a new bill. But there is no reasonable place to "compromise" on SCHIP. Meanwhile, why didn't the media cover this rally in Philly?

Hey, look who was at Waterloo, today.

19:16 BST

People are talking

I would have cackled, too, if I'd been Hillary Clinton and some Fox Noise shill asked me why I was so polarizing. And, as Bill Scher points out, Hillary is not high on the list of polarizing presidential candidates. Whatever "polarizing" means. (Bill also discussed SCHIP on this week's, and his own radio show is posted here.)

At C&L, Jonathan Turley and Keith Olbermann on the fact that the FISA violations started before 9/11, and some SCHIP-debunking that actually occurred on Faux News. Also, Crosby and Nash on Hardball.

Oh, God, what if we go to all the trouble to elect a black president and he still turns out to be related to Cheney? (And, no, I do not think the big issue in the Armenian Massacres was gun control. Sheesh!)

I haven't really paid attention to this ProPublica thing, but someone who used to be the managing editor of The Wall Street Journal is running it, so I don't expect it to be a left-wing organization. Neither does Eric Alterman. But some people are suggesting otherwise.

I'm assuming Sam Seder's subs for Randi won't be on the widget. can get .mp3s of Randi Rhodes' show, at White Rose; scroll to the bottom of the list for the most recent show - and try and throw something into the tip jar.

15:18 BST

Stuff I found

So, the other day I complained that, though Al Gore warned us not to get into Iraq, I hadn't heard him say anything about getting out. Then I learned that Citizen Gore has been making little movies on important topics on Current TV, and he posted one the very next day saying we need to get the troops home as quickly as possible. He also says we need to be protected against the government spying on us, and that healthcare is a right. These aren't impassioned or detailed speeches, they're just concise, plain-language statements of personal views, part of a series of them from users, on various topics.

The WaPo op-ed "The Real Iraq We Knew" doesn't say anything you didn't already know, but it's 12 former Army captains saying it, and they aren't messing around: "There is one way we might be able to succeed in Iraq. To continue an operation of this intensity and duration, we would have to abandon our volunteer military for compulsory service. Short of that, our best option is to leave Iraq immediately. A scaled withdrawal will not prevent a civil war, and it will spend more blood and treasure on a losing proposition. America, it has been five years. It's time to make a choice." They say it "might" work, but I think it's probably too late for that, too. If it was ever going to work, it would have to have been before BushCo screwed it up. (via)

New Council of Europe Recommendation fails to uphold online freedom of expression: "European Digital Rights (EDRI) wishes to express its serious concerns over the adoption on 26 September 2007 by the Council of Europe (CoE) Committee of Ministers of a new Recommendation on 'promoting freedom of expression and information in the new information and communications environment' (Rec(2007)11). [...] We consider the result to be promoting opaque "self-regulation" and other soft law instruments driven by private interests and implemented through technical mechanisms. As a result, we have great concern that the Recommendation will fail to uphold respect for freedom of expression and information in the online world."

Lambert suggests some good clean fun - phone Jay Rockefeller's office on (202) 224-6472 and say, "Is this the number I call to get retroactive immunity for illegal acts?"

03:34 BST

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Things to see

Spencer Ackerman is recommending the PBS Frontline feature Cheney's Law, and provides a preview. I have to take issue with the idea that Cheney was only trying to expand a president's war powers - it's clear that Cheney makes no distinction between times of war and other times. For one thing, he started up the FISA violation program before 9/11.

Greenwald on The conservative vision of America, by National Review: "And what of the fact that the U.S. has managed under every President from Carter to Clinton to defend itself in compliance with this horrendous "probable cause" burden under FISA, even as Ronald Reagan -- as the National Review folklore goes -- heroically vanquished the Soviet Empire? According to NR, that all happened before the Greatest and Most Sophisticated Threat Ever Known to Mankind -- small roving bands of stateless and army-less Islamic Terrorists -- Changed the World Forever" See, in the olden days, our opponents were gentlemen, like the commies and Nazis.

We Want You - For Primary Challenges To Bush Dog Democrats. It's no use waiting for someone else to do it. Unless you have serious skeletons in your closet, maybe you should quit your beefing and do the job yourself. Even if you lose, it makes the point.

21:08 BST

News and updates

From the Guardian, "Revealed: the man behind court attack on Gore film: The school governor who challenged the screening of Al Gore's climate change documentary in secondary schools was funded by a Scottish quarrying magnate who established a controversial lobbying group to attack environmentalists' claims about global warming."

Unconstitutionally excessive punishment - Jammie Thomas is appealing $222,000 damages awarded to the RIAA in her copyright infringement case on the grounds that the damages for making 24 files available for sharing on KaZaA couldn't possibly have been that high. "It's an argument that has been raised in other file-sharing cases. We first saw it made in the case of UMG v. Lindor, where Marie Lindor's attorney Ray Beckerman argued that the RIAA's actual damages are in the neighborhood of 70Ę per song, less than 0.1 percent of the minimum statutory damage award of $750. Lindor - and others - have argued that, since the labels get about 70Ę of each 99Ę download sale, that's all the damages the record labels are entitled to collect."

The Indy reports that the Chief Constable for North Wales is advocating an end to prohibition of all "narcotic" drugs: "If policy on drugs is in future to be pragmatic not moralistic, driven by ethics not dogma, then the current prohibitionist stance will have to be swept away as both unworkable and immoral, to be replaced with an evidence-based unified system (specifically including tobacco and alcohol) aimed at minimisation of harms to society," he will say. (Boy, I hate being told what someone "will say" in a news story. He plans to say, or his press release says, or whatever. Don't tell me what someone "will" do when for all I know he got hit by a bus between the time the story was filed and the time the event was supposed to take place.) (And Dorothy Parker was funnier than P.J. O'Rourke, too - Women just don't get credit for being funny, in Britain, or anywhere else.)

Peter Berg at TNR on How Osama Bin Laden Beat George W. Bush: "America's most formidable foe--once practically dead-- is back. This is one of the most historically significant legacies of President Bush. At nearly every turn, he has made the wrong strategic choices in battling Al Qaeda. To understand the terror network's resurgence--and its continued ability to harm us--we need to reexamine all the ways in which the administration has failed to crush it." It's certainly no wonder they've been trying so hard to push the story about how Clinton supposedly missed his big chance to bag bin Laden.

Via And So It Goes I see that Charles D. Riechers, who was recently outed as being on the taxpayers' dime without actually doing anything, has been found dead, in an "apparent suicide".

I was going to look up a few background links on other attacks on liberal talk show hosts, such as the famous murder of Alan Berg, but Talking Radio has a nice summary in their story on Randi Rhodes. (Thom Hartmann mentioned the other day that someone had shot out his car window, too.) Apparently, Drudge posted a link to it and the comment thread is full of wingers either denying the possibility that a right-winger would ever do such a thing or exulting that someone did so. (I see Charles has collected a few.) Oh, and a lot of "people get mugged in New York all the time" stuff - but Park Avenue isn't exactly an unsafe neighborhood, folks. (via) Meanwhile, AAR now reports that "The reports of a presumed hate crime are unfounded. Ms. Rhodes looks forward to being back on the air on Thursday." And The New York Daily News is saying that Rhodes is not claiming to have been the victim of a crime, but to have fallen, according to her lawyer. (Thanks to JHB for the tips.)

19:04 BST

News and announcements

Hillary Pledges to End War "Immediately" Upon Taking Office, according to an eye-witness report by looseheadprop at Firedoglake. I know she's made sounds about ending the war earlier on, but this is the first time I've heard of her saying "immediately". Of course, that doesn't mean she isn't still thinking in terms of "only" leaving a "small force" to look after the embassy or something. Most of these declarations about ending the war are hedged.

I note that some spots around the blogosphere have picked up the story about Randi Rhodes being attacked "in a park". In fact, she was attacked near her apartment on Park Avenue. The good news is that Sam Seder will be subbing for her today. You can send your get-well wishes to AAR. (Sammy will also be sitting in on The Young Turks Friday and Ring of Fire on the weekend - he also did RoF on October 6th, which I believe is available for free download.)

Why is Blackwater's Erik Prince suddenly on a PR offensive? Spencer Ackerman says it looks like Blackwater might actually get kicked out of Iraq, so if they lose their State Department contract, they'll want a different one - with the Defense Department.

Bra news: "A new exhibition at the Liverpool Academy of Art promises an uplifting experience as it celebrates the centenary of the invention of the bra."

15:03 BST

Various things

Back garden climber colors '07

It really is gorgeous out back.

Get well soon, Randi Rhodes. I don't usually have time to listen to her show but I tend to leave AAR on when I'm in front of my computer - but when I heard Lionel sitting in for her, I just turned it off. Sorry, I just can't listen to him. But right now I'm listening to John Elliot and he says Randi was attacked last night while she was walking her dog. She wasn't carrying a bag and was just in sweats, and she was beaten up pretty badly and had some teeth knocked out. Elliot is saying it sounds like it was neither a sexual assault nor a robbery and he suspects it was political. The way things are going, he could be right.

I think Roger Ailes needs to do something about the fact that his permalinks don't really work. I want to link to "But Hitler Started It!" but I'm afraid when you get to the page you'll just see the latest post on it and have to scroll down or search on the title to get to it. It's about Jonah Goldberg's continually-delayed book about how liberals are exactly like Hitler except for being virtually the opposite of Hitler. Only Jonah seems to have received all his knowledge about Nazi ideology from an Indiana Jones movie. "Kinder, Küche, Kirche," Jonah. Sheesh!

Kagro X has the explanation for why FISA is such a problem for the war on terra. Please read it, it's kind of awesome. Via Atrios, who explains it for the Democratic leadership, who, unfortunately, are too dumb to be reading it. (Atrios also has more tales from the time-travelling Clintons.)

Yank in London found this gem: "Blair admits he is shocked by discrimination on the West Bank." Gosh, who could have predicted....?

John Edwards appears to be leading in the union endorsement sweepstakes.

We did or didn't beat AQI, and we've had enough of "bold", thanks.

I like this picture. And this one.

03:33 BST

Internet nights

The scariest guy in the race is far-left loony John Edwards, judging from the horrors Bill O'Reilly warns of. Glenn Greenwald is worried, too: "Who could even fathom an America plagued by habeas corpus, search warrants, and a military that fails to beat, freeze and mock-execute its detainees? And nothing is more sacred to core American values than branding other countries' armies as "Terrorists" ("The [Revolutionary] Guard is the SS of Iran")." I bet he reads Marx or something. Problem is - as Glenn notes - it's not just the O'Reilly's that seem to feel this way, but the "serious" folk in the mainstream press, as well.

Not that you didn't already know this, but it's definitely the right-wingers who are spitting on the troops this time. Digby discusses.

Paul Krugman on Gore Derangement Syndrome: "What is it about Mr. Gore that drives right-wingers insane? Partly itís a reaction to what happened in 2000, when the American people chose Mr. Gore but his opponent somehow ended up in the White House. Both the personality cult the right tried to build around President Bush and the often hysterical denigration of Mr. Gore were, I believe, largely motivated by the desire to expunge the stain of illegitimacy from the Bush administration. And now that Mr. Bush has proved himself utterly the wrong man for the job - to be, in fact, the best president Al Qaedaís recruiters could have hoped for - the symptoms of Gore derangement syndrome have grown even more extreme."

Claims that Obama is a practicing Muslim circulated briefly but faded from the mainstream media after Obama stood up and said they were nonsense. But it turns out they're still circulating under the radar in e-mail that suggests he's part of the extremist agenda. (via)

Man, I hate it when people call me a Brit.

00:40 BST

Monday, 15 October 2007

On the blogs

Jonathan Schwarz notes that , "Robert Parry's reporting on the evaporation of habeas corpus for U.S. citizens is #1 in Project Censored's new list of last year's top 25 censored stories. Parry's "winning" articles are here and here. Parry has also written a new piece on Gore questioning why he won't put his body where his mouth is and run for president. You can and should give money to Consortium News here.

Tristero: "As it happens, Frank Rich's column today is a rant about America's "whatever" attitude towards Bush's torture policies. Normally, I would agree with him, this country is indeed far too complacent. But when Rich's employer, and the paper of record, leads off its Sunday editorial section with a long article about reporters and their cats, blaming the public for not taking the news seriously strikes me as grotesquely misplaced." (And it looks like Phoenix Woman was similarly unimpressed with Rich's failure to see the elephant in the room.)

Glenn Greenwald, "Telecom Amnesty would forever foreclose investigation of vital issues: What kind of an American -- let alone a 'journalist' -- would think it was a good idea to remain ignorant and in the dark about what our Government is doing when it comes to spying on its own citizens? That desire -- that urge -- to help the Government conceal even its likely illegal acts is the very antithesis of the most elementary instinct of healthy, authentic 'journalism.' (More here.)"

Everybody's going to business school, but who's minding our agriculture?

I thought this was a gracious apology for something that wasn't even wrong. I don't know why Ursula is getting her knickers in a twist anyway (hell, most of us are flattered to be considered quotable). And I don't think this will enhance anyone's reputation for being reasonable.

19:30 BST

Onward Christian atheist soldiers

A funny thing happened at the Freedom from Religion Convention, as PZ Myers reports:

Then it was Hitchens at his most bellicose. He told us what the most serious threat to the West was (and you know this line already): it was Islam. Then he accused the audience of being soft on Islam, of being the kind of vague atheists who refuse to see the threat for what it was, a clash of civilizations, and of being too weak to do what was necessary, which was to spill blood to defeat the enemy. Along the way he told us who his choice for president was right now - Rudy Giuliani - and that Obama was a fool, Clinton was a pandering closet fundamentalist, and that he was less than thrilled about all the support among the FFRF for the Democratic party. We cannot afford to allow the Iranian theocracy to arm itself with nuclear weapons (something I entirely sympathize with), and that the only solution is to go in there with bombs and marines and blow it all up. The way to win the war is to kill so many Moslems that they begin to question whether they can bear the mounting casualties.

It was simplistic us-vs.-them thinking at its worst, and the only solution he had to offer was death and destruction of the enemy.

Marvellous. But it's not merely that he thinks "we" can defeat an "enemy" that is actually bigger than we are, but he doesn't seem to have worked out who "we" are, either:
This whole last third of his talk had me concerned about the first part. He had just told us in strong terms about the failures of religion and its detrimental effect on our culture, and now he was explaining to us how the solution in the Middle East was to simply kill everyone who disagreed with you. He didn't relate the two parts of his talk, which was unfortunate. I'd like to know whether he thinks the way atheists ought to end religion in America is to start shooting Baptists, or whether he sees other ways to educate and enlighten - in which case I wonder why he doesn't see any virtue in applying those same methods to Islam. I didn't ask the question since the line for the microphone was long, and I had a depressing feeling that the solution would involve sending the Baptists over to Iraq to kill and be killed.

This is not my freethought movement. The Hitchens solution is not my solution.

Hitchens' "atheism" turns out to be indistinguishable from everything he's said is wrong with religion - Jihad, Crusades, and all.

(Via Roz Kaveney, who also provided a link to Which Dyke to Watch Out For Are You? Which was not nearly as bad as some of them are.)

14:38 BST

Reading room

"It's a Lowdown, Rotten, Nasty, Hateful Party: Watching the candidates for nomination by the party of GoPervs is pretty scary. The efforts to outdo each other in promoting war and torture says what element they have to appeal to. This is a party of subhumans, proud of their bestiality." Fortunately, Americans are less and less likely to buy in.

What They're Not Telling Us is that US productivity is declining and only barely competitive with Europeans.

Chuck Dupree: "Strange and evil days, beloveds. People one admired seem to be wimping out on impeachment, illegal surveillance, funding an imperial war, and handing everything available to the corporations, then promising more."

Robert Parry, "Smearing Al Gore: Here We Go Again: When people wonder how the United States ended up in todayís nightmarish predicament, a big part of the answer is that the right-wing message machine and the mainstream U.S. news media distorted reality at key moments about key people, perhaps most notably Al Gore during Campaign 2000. [...] But even now - when the consequences of the news mediaís earlier "war on Gore" can be measured in the horrible death toll that has followed the Bush presidency - it appears that little has changed. Lies and distortions about Al Gore remain an easy political commodity to sell, as we have seen in the renewed assault on Gore in the wake of his winning the Nobel Peace Prize."

"Only a US Withdrawal Will Stop Al Qaeda in Iraq." Because everyone hates AQI, but they're too busy fighting the US to kick the extremists out.

12:43 BST

Quick linkage

Like I said, we are under a system of complete lawlessness. It's scary as hell.

Another one bites the dust: "A state representative abruptly left the Republican Party and became a Democrat, the first time in 20 years that a Colorado lawmaker has switched parties."

Fascinating thread about the death penalty ensues when Doug Berman challenges readers to help him get off the fence on the subject. (via)

More from Charles on the Armenian resolution.

Barbara O'Brien on the anti-life nature of laws against abortion.

Never underestimate the power of bad literature: "Atlas Shrugged is a terrible book - it's turgid, didactic and poorly written with character development that comes straight out of a cardboard factory. Yet it has influenced countless venal people over the years, providing a justification for greed and theories of capitalism untainted by social responsibility."

You know, I think the real problem with David Brooks is that he doesn't realize that it's hard to get out of the house and get a job when there aren't all that many jobs around.

Talking about the latest retired General statements from Ricardo Sanchez, Jim Macdonald makes a point that should be included with every use of the term "retired General": "While still on active duty, speaking disrespectfully of the Commander in Chief is a crime punishable by jail time." That's why so many of them retire before they speak up. And yet, the wingers actually try to suggest that the reason we don't hear active Generals disagreeing with Bush is because "real" generals don't disagree with him.

Cactus explores the Underpants Gnome Theory of Economic Good.

Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory in Kabul,

Army of None

00:47 BST

Sunday, 14 October 2007

"I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean"

I want to emphasize that my point about Gore isn't that he wouldn't be the best person for the job, but rather that I think he needs to do more work if he's going to get the kind of support he needs to beat the machine. Of course, so do the rest of us - people will need to be prepared to get behind the nominee, whoever it is, in a big way, or the media will take him apart and the Democratic Party leadership will help them. (Well, the Democratic Party leadership might be willing to get behind Hillary, since they seem determined to make her the nominee and she seems to be doing all the "right" things to please the DLC - unsurprising, since she is still one of them.) I think Gore really is the best person for the job, you understand. I don't mean just that he's "the anti-Bush", but that we need someone with towering stature in the rest of the world, too, and he's certainly got that.

Foser - Members of the corporate media seem to be outraged that some Democrats criticized Rush Limbaugh, because it smacks of government censorship, they say - yet they were unfazed by formal condemnation in both houses of Congress of MoveOn. And, of course, right-wing attacks on Media Matters for America itself continue, including from known GOP shills who say that MM's work can be dismissed because they are progressive. But that's the right wing, for you - they have to attack the messenger because they can't deal with the message.

MahaBarb has an extremely linky post which, among other things, notes some of the whacky responses the wrong-wingers have provided to this weekend's NYT op-eds.

I see Barney Frank is leaping to defend Nancy Pelosi against mean nasty liberals who want Congress to do its job. We are so unreasonable! (And how can Nancy Pelosi think she's a leader when she has allowed the body she "leads" to become irrelevant?)

20:11 BST

Of record

In the NYT, Bob Herbert tells the truth:

When I heard that Mr. Gore had won the Nobel, my thoughts wandered to the younger Mr. Bush and to Rudolph Giuliani, who is leading the current field of Republican presidential candidates.

Mr. Bush came to mind because, for all of the obvious vulnerabilities he exhibited in 2000, it was not him but Mr. Gore who was mocked unmercifully by the national media. And the mockery had nothing to do with the former vice presidentís positions on important policy issues. He was mocked because of his personality.

In the race for the highest office in the land, we showed the collective maturity of 3-year-olds.

Notice he says "we". And he doesn't mean, "all Americans are guilty" in that vague, mistakes-were-made way certain of his colleagues use to wave the thing away.

One of them is Frank Rich, who still hasn't apologized for his treatment of Gore, and today is blaming you and me for the fact that BushCo has been literally getting away with murder, not to mention destroying the country. Yes, I'm sure we could all be doing a lot more, but the thing that's supposed to help protect us against this sort of thing is called a "free press", although at this point it's only the paid press that seems to be able to break big stories, and I haven't seen them inviting you and me to make our case. True, the NYT has been a little better these days than it was during 2000 and certainly during the run-up to invasion of Iraq, but it's still pretty wibbly and moronic a lot of the time, and anyway the broadcasters seem to have developed a preference for The Washington Post, which continues to carry water for the administration. (I see Face the Nation is devoted today to John McCain, a presidential candidate who has about three supporters left and no one believes is ever going to be president. The rest of the shows look little better. Is anyone actually talking about those big stories about BushCo corruption Rich mentions? No? You can bet O'Reilly and Limbaugh will be giving the administration spin to plenty of listeners. Where's Charlie Savage? Where's Glenn Greenwald?) Hundreds of people went out and marched and no one paid attention - or else pretended that there are just as many people supporting Bush as opposing him. Meanwhile, the press encourages Democratic leaders to feel it is safe to ignore the demands of their "crazy", "left-wing" constituents.

On the bright side, Maureen Dowd, who sort of (but unconvincingly) once said, "Forgive me, Al Gore," after a long record of saying things the rest of us should not forgive her for - and who is doing her best to repeat that performance ("Obambi") this time around - let Stephen Colbert write her column today, which is an improvement. First, she quotes him from a recent appearance by way of introduction:

He was sneering that Times columns make good "kindling." He was ranting that after you throw away the paper, "it takes over a hundred years for the lies to biodegrade."
I'm told he added, "And another six months if there's a Thomas Friedman column in it." I like Colbert, but the best thing about this column is that there's less Dowd in it.

In other news, Lambert has successfully managed to catch my attention again with the tinfoil bra, but needs to do something about that formatting.

17:00 BST

Cheddar and chocolate

Fantasie Smoothing underwired balconette braBra of the Week

A Moment On Earth, via Biomes Blog.

10 Reasons Why Charlie Savage Rocks

Draft gore petition goes over 200,000.

The Washington Post's War on Gore - the story about the "factual errors" in An Inconvenient Truth turns out to be false, but you wouldn't know it from the WaPo. And this promises to be a great week for Bob Somerby. (via)

Condi Rice went to Russia. She was out of her depth. (She's an expert on the USSR, haha!)

My personal opinion is that Sullivan was veering too far to "the left" so he's trying to shore up his conservative credentials by displaying some more Clinton Derangement Syndrome.

Kagro X: "But it's not just that. If Qwest's competitors were already abetting this bloodless(?) coup before 9/11, then the "administration's" domestic spying not only has little if anything to do with response to terrorism, but it also objectively failed to prevent 9/11." (And, leaving aside that there are many good reasons to believe that they were spying on political targets, we also know that they are bugging lawyers' phone calls with their clients. More of that here.)

There's a picture of Doris Lessing on the front page of Friday's IHT that looks just like my grandmother. I expect to hear of articles denying she wrote science fiction. (But we have the photos to prove she knew better.)

01:08 BST

Saturday, 13 October 2007

On the drum

Pierce: "Hillary's answer to Keith Olbermann as to why she voted for the absurd Kyl-Lieberman Iran resolution is wholly unsatisfactory. "I believe in sanctions." Really? Well, the feckless bunch you further empowered believes in bombers and in smashing up more American lives in support of its various schemes and pipe dreams. Saying this now is like saying you voted for the Iraq AUMF so the president -- THIS president - could go to the U.N. with a stronger negotiating position. Stupid, senator, and very, very wrong. Plus, these days, voting for anything with the name "Lieberman" attached to it should get your peers rolling in the aisles." And: "More and more, the unsatisfying denouement to the Iran-Contra scandal looks more and more like a last chance. [...] I honest-to-god believe at this point that it might be entirely too late."

The man who knew too much : "He was the CIA's expert on Pakistan's nuclear secrets, but Rich Barlow was thrown out and disgraced when he blew the whistle on a US cover-up. Now he's to have his day in court." (via)

Juan Cole, "Who Lost Turkey?" and "Turkish Press reaction to Armenian Resolution". (Thanks to Randolph for the pointers.)

"Even worse than we imagined: AT&T contract for NSA to surveill all internet traffic, foreign and domestic, started before 9/11: That's all Internet traffic, foreign and domestic, data and voice. And the decision to do this was taken, not because of 9/11, but as soon as Bush took office. As was the decision to ignore the rule of law. So much for the idea that the extremely benevolent and trustworthy Bush administration was reacting to 9/11, and just wants 'surgical' surveillance* to keep us safe from terrorists, eh? Could this program be Spencer Ackerman's 'Project X'?" Of course, we knew this ages ago, but the fact that the one telco head who refused to break the law was the victim of a retaliatory prosecution as a result brings it up to a whole new level. And Michael Mukasey, the nominee for Attorney General, should answer some questions about it, too. (Hm, he seems awfully close to Giuliani, for that matter.)

Constitutional originalism, John Yoo, Clarence Thomas - You know, you can expect a whole load of irony and not much coherence when you put all that together.

We just watched an entire episode of Whistleblowers about how making schools into a business is terrible for kids. Steve Benen points out that it doesn't work out too well in real life, either. But your tax money is being collected to provide school vouchers to send kids to schools that have no real standards and are unaccountable.

21:11 BST

So... Draft Al Gore?

In the wake of the ad in the NYT and the awarding of the Nobel, a lot is being said, again, about how much better off we'd be with a president like Al Gore.

Once upon a time, I would have said that, hey, it's October, it's still early. It seems like that was the theory four years ago, and it was probably right.

So, why am I, of all people, suddenly not in the mood to jump on the bandwagon?

Well, partly, I'm not sure the groundwork has been completed. On the two biggest issues underlying all the others, Al Gore has been silent, and that's not a good thing.

Yes, Al Gore was the first to stand up and explain why we should not invade Iraq, and why the administration's other policies that violate both the Constitution and all human decency, in the name of "The War On Terror", are wrong and should be stopped. He's been brilliant in that regard.

But he hasn't said anything about pulling out. And he's said nothing about Iran.

And on the destruction of the American economy, which NAFTA underlies in a big way, Gore has offered only the very vaguest repudiation of precisely the way it has been carried out, but from Al Gore we would need a great deal more than that.

Vice President Gore played a significant role in the passage of NAFTA, and was a major proponent of the belief that "free trade" would be good for America's economy - and it's pretty clear that Gore was wrong. There are those who maintain (and not without justification) that Gore's loss in Ohio was directly down to the instinctive recognition by many ordinarily Democratic voters that Ross Perot was right; it may even be why Clinton was never able to get a majority of the vote.

Al Gore long ago distanced himself from the DLC, but it was largely on the invasion, not on trade. And the disastrous employment and trade policies that started with Reagan, were stepped up by Clinton, and have gone into overdrive under Bush, must be repudiated and overturned if America is really going to be saved, because an eroded middle-class just isn't strong enough to demand restoration of our democracy.

It's true that Gore made the very important step of being the first leading Democrat to advocate for single-payer, but he seems to have stopped there. Healthcare is not our only economic problem.

I think there are still a lot of people who aren't prepared to forgive him for NAFTA, and he has made no moves to court those people.

If, in the course of the last few years, Gore had included in his wonderful speeches one or two about the mistakes we have made - that he made - by allowing our economy to be pirated away as it has been, I would not hesitate to say that he is the person who should be running right now.

But I'm not so sure, now. He needs to repudiate NAFTA in a big way, and I'm not even sure he's prepared to do that. There's no doubt in my mind that he's been transformed by his bath of fire - his statement on single-payer is proof of that - but he may still feel too wedded to NAFTA to openly treat it as the mistake it was.

For the last seven and a half years, my support for Gore has owed a lot to the fact that he should be president - not in 2008, but right now. Because we elected him. And because eight years of George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney could never be anything but a disaster.

But right now... I'm feeling twitchy.

18:50 BST


At long last, it seems that some people who call themselves "pro-life" are actually standing up for the lives of children in a new ad campaign: "I'm the mother of three children, and I'm pro-life. I believe that protecting the lives our children must be our nation's number one moral priority. That's why I'm concerned that Congressman X says he's pro-life but votes against health care for poor children. That's not pro-life. That's not pro-family. Tell Congressman X to vote for health care for children. Call him today at XXXX, that's XXXXX." C&L has the ad. Now, if only we can get across to these people that abortion bans don't reduce abortion, they just kill mothers.

My father made his own bumper-sticker saying, "We remember April 15, 1914," with scimitars dripping blood on either side, and stuck it in the back window of his station wagon. Now, I adored my father, and we were on the same side of most issues, but for a change I had to agree with my mother when she said something like, "Oh, Gary, is that necessary?" Still, it pains me to have to say that Bush was right about this: It was hardly urgent to waste energy insulting Turkey on behalf of Americans of Armenian extraction whose parents raised them to hate the Turks (like me). It's worth noting that it took a good deal more than a century before Americans began making a serious effort to recognize the moral horror of our own country's origins in genocide - and that was perhaps made a bit easier by the fact that many of us had no roots among the early settlers, being from families that had only set foot on American shores in the late 19th or early 20th centuries (like me). It's not that I wouldn't like to see Turkey make a similar re-examination of their past, but I have to agree with those who say that this is not the time, and shoring up a bunch of votes in Fresno isn't a sufficiently compelling cause for it, either. (And, really, if you can't defend the US Constitution, who are you to judge the Turks?) Maybe foreign policy should not be hostage to this sort of thing.

You know, I can't help the feeling that the cool idea the Marines have for wanting to be redeployed to Afghanistan suggests they aren't terribly gung-ho about Iraq. I mean, why else would they think it would enhance efficiency to go to a land-locked country? (And who would want to serve alongside people who actually draw their weapons on US soldiers?)

Stealing from the best: It looks like one of Mark Evanier's readers has found a short-cut for getting the kind of letters he'd like to see into The Washington Times, by the simple expedient of plagiarizing from Mark's blog. I can't fault the guy's choices, but what's truly remarkable is that they get printed in the Moonie paper. Honestly, I think we all hope, in the back of our minds, that our smarter insights will be propagated (although getting credit would be nice), but I'm right there with Mark when he complains, "Y'know, I don't mind the guy stealing my writing...but he also stole my father."

Someone please tell me what this is and why I can't see it. I just get a little grey icon and "LOADING PLAYER".

15:19 BST

Friday, 12 October 2007

Suggestion box

PERRspectives suggests some conservative Nobel Prizes: "Predictably, the conservative chattering class and its amen corner in the right-wing blogosphere are apoplectic about the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Al Gore. But their rage and angst about the Nobel Committee's "politicized awards" for "mass exaggerators" and "deceptive rhetoric" isn't merely a function of the inconvenient truth of the success of Gore's global warming campaign. No, the rugged individualists of the right are just hopping mad that they never win prizes designed to recognize contributions to, well, the rest of humanity. To remedy this perpetual slight, here are Nobel prizes for conservatives we'd like to see"

Bill Scher suggests that Democratic members of Congress need to grow up and learn to respect the base.

Susie Madrak has a suggestion for people who want to do something to make a difference, for a family that was nearly finished rebuilding after Katrina when someone set a car on fire and it burned down their house.

Roy Edroso suggests that flag pins are a useful barometer.

22:58 BST

People are talking

James Wolcott: "Rush Limbaugh and his fellow talk-radio troll dolls didn't "pervert" conservatism--he didn't lay siege to some maiden fair and debauch her virtue. Rush Limbaugh didn't inject an "ideology of hate" into conservatism, he extracted the contemptuous, divisive animosity inherent in the Gingrich doctrine and sugared it up with comedy and his own personal saga for popular consumption. He, like Clarence Thomas, was just what the Republican overseers ordered." Robert Farley: "Quite right. Rush and Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin aren't aberrations that the Right can explain away; they are, to borrow Glenn Reynolds phrase, the authentic face of the American Right. They determine the terms of debate, decide on the points of emphasis, and unleash the bloodthirsty mobs. They are the literal manifestation of American reactionary ressentiment."

Ann Coulter's attack on Jews puts Thom Hartmann in mind another conservative creep: "Similarly, Justice Antonin Scalia turned history on its head several years ago when he attended an Orthodox synagogue in New York and claimed that the Founders intended for their Christianity to play a part in government. Scalia then went so far as to suggest that the reason Hitler was able to initiate the Holocaust was because of German separation of church and state. [...] Justice Scalia and Ann Coulter may well benefit from looking back at the photographs that came out of Germany that were all over the newspapers and news magazines at warís end. The photos that can be seen, for instance, at [link] of the Catholic Bishops giving the collective Nazi salute. The annual April 20th celebration, declared by Pope Pius XII, of Hitlerís birthday. The belt buckles of the German army, which declared "Gott Mit Uns" ("God is with us"). The pictures of the 1933 investiture of Bishop Ludwig MŁller, the official Bishop of the 1000-Years-Of-Peace Nazi Reich. That last photo should be the most problematic for Ann Coulter and Justice Scalia, because Hitler had done exactly what Scalia is recommending - he merged church and state." The Founders knew what they were doing.

Some days it seems like wanting accountability is the only thing left that's illegal: "The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, has ordered an unusual internal inquiry into the work of the agencyís inspector general, whose aggressive investigations of the C.I.A.ís detention and interrogation programs and other matters have created resentment among agency operatives."

"The end of the era of cowboy diplomacy is at hand."

20:25 BST

FISA - Make the call

Wow, I just called Mikulski's office and talked to someone polite for a change. Said they've been getting a lot of calls on this. "Have you? I bet you're not getting many supporting letting the telecoms off scott free." "Oh, I've had one." Anyway, Christy has the details:

Please call your Senators today and say two things very clearly: no retroactive immunity for telecom companies and no umbrella warrants. Period. Direct dial numbers for Senators can be found here. Talking points from the ACLU website on the FISA bill are here (H/T to Phoenix Woman for the link).

The members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which is primarily responsible for this bill, are as follows:

*Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Chairman - (202) 224-6472*
*Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) - (202) 224-3841
*Sen. John Warner (R-VA) - (202) 224-2023
*Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) - (202) 224-5244
*Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) - (202) 224-4224
*Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) - (202) 224-5623
*Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) - (202) 224-4654
*Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) - (202) 224-5344
*Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) - (202) 224-5274

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) - (202) 224-3154
Sen. Kitt Bond (R-MO), Vice-Chairman - (202) 224-5721
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) - (202) 224-3521
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) - (202) 224-5251
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) - (202) 224-5323
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) - (202) 224-2921

The ones with the asterisks are the ones who really need the call. (The rest have pretty much made up their minds already one way or the other. That doesn't mean you shouldn't call, it just means you really do need to call the others.)

You can call from anywhere, but if you are actually in their constituency, do let them know.

16:42 BST

Article 1

Everybody needs one of these:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 - The way Representative John Yarmuth of Kentucky sees it, lawmakers on Capitol Hill and Americans everywhere have forgotten who the Founding Fathers really intended to run the country -- not the President who was more of a Constitutional after-thought but the Congress, the peopleís elected representatives.

Mr. Yarmuth said he and many of the 41 other freshman Democrats in the House had been puzzling for some time over just how to remind voters of this, how to mold a most basic lesson of American civics so that it could be carried far and wide by the modern techniques of political messaging. And then an idea struck.

Today, on the House floor, Mr. Yarmuth began distributing small buttons, seemingly made of parchment, with the words, "Article 1" - as in Article 1 of the Constitution, which states, "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives."

In other words: Mr. President, the Congress would like to remind you, that you, dear pal, are Article 2.

Of course, if Congress acted like they were familiar with Article 1, it'd be a lot harder for others to forget.
"All legislative powers are vested in the Congress and, in fact, the Constitution grants very limited powers to the executive branch," Mr. Yarmuth said. "We lost sight of that." The Article 1 buttons, he said, were "a reminder that we have not just power but responsibility under the Constitution. Hopefully, if this catches on, the public will see that we understand our power and our responsibility."
It's not the button that'll demonstrate that.
Mr. Yarmuth acknowledged that some of his fellow Democrats were not quite up to speed on Constitutional fine-print. More than one, he said, had asked "Article 1? Which one is that again?" In some cases, he said they confused it with the First Amendment.
And, of course:
Some Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, were supportive and accepted a button but did not put it on, apparently unwilling to let the Founding Fathers interfere with fashion.
That'd be the fashion of pretending there is no Article 1.

14:03 BST

Items of interest

Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore: "Climate change campaigner Al Gore and the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have been jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize." (Scott is right about this.)

If you missed Rachel Maddow's interview with Charlie Savage on the executive power-grab last night, go listen to it today while you can. (Get mad at Pelosi all over again, too.)

Nell pointed out to me in comments* that Hilzoy did indeed discuss the non-secrecy of "state secrets" - and, as usual, did a fine job.

If this guy is the only candidate who can answer this most important question, I'm afraid he might end up as president of the United States regardless of what the Establishment has decided. (That is, assuming the ballots aren't just thrown away.)

David Ehrenstein parses John Aravosis on putting the T back in LGBT. (via)

Grand Central Station

12:34 BST

Thursday, 11 October 2007

It's going around

Paul Waldman: "Last Tuesday, a remarkable article appeared on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, able chronicler of the interests and habits of America's economic elite. "GOP Is Losing Grip On Core Business Vote," it read, no doubt causing more than a few Republican strategists to spit out their morning coffee." Yep, it's finally started to come to their attention that conservatives are bad for business.

Jimmy Carter on Dick Cheney: "He's a militant who avoided any service of his own in the military and he has been most forceful in the last 10 years or more in fulfilling some of his more ancient commitments that the United States has a right to inject its power through military means in other parts of the world," Carter told the BBC World News America in an interview to air later on Wednesday. "You know he's been a disaster for our country," Carter said. "I think he's been overly persuasive on President George Bush and quite often he's prevailed."

If you ever doubted that the recording industry has been stiffing its artists, consider the fact that, in the wake of Radiohead's recent experiment, not only are other bands following their lead, but some leading bands are planning to give their music away for free. And why not? The music companies have always been so stingy about paying royalties that live performance has always been where the real money was for them. Getting people to hear the music (for free - just like we first heard Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Cream, the Doors, and Springsteen) gets them to buy tickets to concerts. If they pay for downloads, too, that's just gravy. But it's interesting to note that, "Google say that searches for Radiohead have increased tenfold this week as fans log on to the bandís site, with the majority - according to the bandís spokesman - spurning the opportunity to download the album for as little as 45 pence and instead signing up for the £40 box set, which includes vinyl records, CD and artwork." The fans still like to have the physical product in their hands.

The Democratic Daily has a new URL.

Here we go again: "Babel Minute Zéro" is a geopolitical thriller. It plays in, probably, 2015, but it is not a sci-fi book: it really just adds a few years of solid perspective on things that are already happening now ..." Man, it's like Chinese water torture. (Thanks to Charles for the pointer.)

Folding House - an architectural optical illusion.

16:45 BST

It's no secret

Caro brings my attention to this timely cartoon at The Daily Scribble which makes a point that has been bugging me and yet no one really seems to talk about it - the fact that the "state secrets" we're being told are sufficient to prevent all ordinary United States law from being obeyed and carried out are in fact widely known.

The fact of the matter is that there are now, thanks to the way this administration functions, absolutely no genuine state secrets, because our most vital intelligence is thrown to the press like confetti whenever it serves the administration's political purposes, or else it is traded away to foreign (and sometimes hostile) powers to make money for Bush cronies. There is not a single matter of national security that is not in the hands of numerous people, including companies registered with foreign (and sometimes hostile) governments as well as those governments themselves. All of our technology has been sold off to other nations who reap the profits without even having to pass a royalty our way, thanks to Reaganomics. Our economy is controlled to a large degree by other countries that hold our massive IOUs.

What is there to not know?

Seriously, there is nothing mystical about how they are spying on everyone for any reason that takes their fancy. There is no mystery to how they are torturing people and getting them to say whatever they want them to say. The only thing we would learn by exposure in open court of their programs is that they aren't doing it for justifiable reasons. And, though we already suspect this, what they are hiding is the proof. That's the big "state secret" - that the nation is being run by criminals.

And we already know that, too.

12:55 BST

Gonna wash you up, gonna wash you down

A couple of things you should know about Nancy Pelosi, courtesy of After Downing Street:

  • "I do not see the connection between torture and impeachment."
  • She's a leader: "I had, for five months, people sitting outside my home, going into my garden in San Francisco, angering neighbors, hanging their clothes from trees, building all kinds of things -- Buddhas? I don't know what they were -- couches, sofas, chairs, permanent living facilities on my front sidewalk. If they were poor and they were sleeping on my sidewalk, they would be arrested for loitering, but because they have 'Impeach Bush' across their chest, it's the First Amendment....We have to make responsible decisions in the Congress that are not driven by the dissatisfaction of anybody who wants the war to end tomorrow," Pelosi told the gathering at the Sofitel, arranged by the Christian Science Monitor. Though crediting activists for their "passion," Pelosi called it "a waste of time" for them to target Democrats. "They are advocates," she said. "We are leaders."


While it may be true that the WaPo unfairly cut short what Hillary said, it doesn't mitigate the fact that she still sounds like she doesn't mind the torture. Like Matthew says, we already know it's going on and we don't need an investigation to know that waterboarding is torture.

Dear Abby supports gay marriage, and Draft Gore puts an ad in the NYT.

Right-wing attacks on the Frosts backfire, and even the major newspapers are debunking the lies.

Jim Macdonald went to see The Kingdom.

Laura Nyro, "Save the Country"

The Parrot

02:13 BST

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

There's a letter sticing on my eyboard

Can someone explain to me why this is okay?

David Neiwert on the Malkin jihad: "What she and her torch-bearing cohorts are tapping into, of course, is the right's innate eagerness to form ugly eliminationist mobs bent on purging anyone who opposes their agenda." Yes. Nigel Richardson made the point (link dead) back when he saw Bowling for Columbine that Moore gets upset when kids get killed, but Ann Coulter gets upset when liberals get to speak up. Pretty much everything they have to talk about is how anyone who expresses an opposing view should be destroyed. We object to torture, mass murder into the hundreds of thousands, and the outrageous lies that lead to both - and we have to be stamped out because they just can't live with us trying to find the truth and spread the word.

Overturning Buckley? Schumer and Specter want to overturn the Buckley decision that made campaign money into protected speech, and Adam B discusses campaign financing law.

Is Comcast trying to kill MSNBC? "In the past few days, Comcast TV has moved MSNBC to the Digital line up. What seems strange to me is the fact the 2008 Democratic National Convention is coming to Denver and that Colorado is going to be an important state in the next election. MSNBC is a moderate left National News channel that features informative interviews on such programs a Hardball, Countdown and Scarborough.This channel is probably has a high percent of Democratic viewers. FOX News has a high percent of Right Wing Republican Viewers but the FOX channel remains on the less costly lineup. My question is why are Democrats having to pay more to view their preferred programming (forced to buy the Digital upgrade) and FOX viewers are not?" I wouldn't say MSNBC is "moderate left" or any other kind of "left". They're just the only one that has one show with non-right-wingers leading it.

Can You Tell The Difference Between Glenn Beck and a Sociopath?

23:59 BST


Back garden climber, w/ hollyhockI'm taking a lot of pleasure from the creeper coming over my back garden wall. (Different picture, w/ flash.)

Hm, looks like Oregon is suffering a homophobe shortage. Good news for domestic partnerships. (Also: What Kind of Reader Are You?.)

I gotta remember to put this on the sidebar for easy reference: Hugh's List of Bush Scandals. Via Skippy. (Also, a dirty Dem.)

Scott Lemieux has a good one on Roger Cohen's whining is just bullying and bull.

A quick debunk on The Republican lies on Graeme Frost, and their fantastic idea about what is "enough" for us little people. And how it gets around. And another reminder of how certain Republicans like to use children for their political operations.

I can't believe I missed the Busy, Busy, Busy version of the Petreaus Plan.

Fiction by or for Women: Three Books Reviewed.

Dead Reverend's Rubber Fetish. Oh, my. (Thanks to Begonia and Ruth for the pointer.)

Why Murdoch cheated his mum.

I laughed myself to sleep with this last night. So, from now on, if I say "Kokimo", you'll know what I mean?

20:07 BST

Feeling our way

I went a little stir-crazy yesterday from all the endless rain.

Susie Bright's site may not be entirely work-safe for you, but I really recommend you read her post "Sex at the Margins with Laura AgustŪn". I often have to point out to people that a lot of these sex panic stories are somewhat exaggerated. Remember in the '70s when three hundred thousand children a year were supposedly being kidnapped in the United States in order to make child porn? Well, of course, it wasn't true. Now we're hearing similar claims about sex-trafficking between countries. It's not that no one is in bondage - it's just that these people get a bit carried away when sex is the issue. (Would that they were capable of the same sort of concern when it's not about sex.) Responsible people look for the evidence before demanding that "Something must be done!"

Back in 2003 I was freaked out by a bombing in Istanbul. There were a lot of reasons for it, but mainly it was the sense that my worst fears would be realized. These things are all in the meaning when you warn that the area will be destabilized, and you assume others know what you mean, but they all laughed, didn't they? And now that they've convinced themselves that they are in the war to end all wars between the innately bad religion versus our innately good one, I guess they don't really mind.

Ezra has a moment, here, about the hideous attacks on the 12-yr-old kid. But read the thread, and marvel at the inability of some people to discern the difference between actually behaving monstrously and calling someone a monster for doing it. (The idiots who don't understand economics are just a bonus.) Excellent point from Jim Henley, as well - yes, of course you single people out publicly to hurt them. The Bush-supporters don't just disagree with what you say, they want to ruin you for saying it, and make sure no one who disagrees with them dares to speak up. (And more from Digby, of course.)

Imagine my surprise upon learning that one Republican actually understood, and agreed with, the complaint about Rush Limbaugh, and it was Norm Coleman.

I got a better shot of the front entrance of the Prudential Building.

18:13 BST

Your happenin' world

Earlier today I heard someone doing the news deliver some celeb gossip about Kylie Minogue. He really didn't now how to pronounce it. I take comfort in the fact that out there in the world there are people who have managed to avoid hearing her name enough to know how to pronounce it.

Paul Krugman says single-payer would be ideal, but the Dem plans on the table might be the best way to get there. Meanwhile, Bush's "civil rights" chief demonstrates more right-wing thinking on how those lucky black folks escape all sorts of old-age indignity by dying young. This time, it's voter-disenfranchisement scams. (And Buzzflash has a review of Krugman's new book.)

Cernig at The Newshoggers interviewed Colonel Steven Boylan, press spokesman for General Petreaus, and says what's most interesting is what he didn't say.

Reuters: "Turkey says ready to send troops into N.Iraq." Whoa.

John Cole, having read David Brooks' stupid column on why people are leaving the Republican Party, disagrees, and provides his much more convincing reasons. (Someday I must explain to John why "lower taxes" actually aren't lower taxes.)

"Liberal" Hollywood - Warner's has decided that, since a couple of movies didn't do well at the box office, they must now longer produce movies with women in the lead: "This comes to me from three different producers, so I know it's real: Warner Bros president of production Jeff Robinov has made a new decree that "We are no longer doing movies with women in the lead". This Neanderthal thinking comes after both Jodie Foster's The Brave One (even though she's had big recent hits with Flightplan and Panic Room) and Nicole Kidman's The Invasion (as if three different directors didn't have something to do with the awfulness of the gross receipts) under-performed at the box office recently." Via Rick Perlstein.

Armed and dangerous - just point that underwire bra somewhere else. (Thanks to Ahistoricality for the tip.)

01:45 BST

Tuesday, 09 October 2007

Judicial inactivism

In an editorial - not an op-ed - the Financial Times says, "It is time to speak truth to US power":

Since the attacks of September 11 2001, the administration of President George W. Bush has sought to cast a cloak of legality over the wrongs that it has committed in the name of fighting terrorism.

Mr Bush seems to think that legal sleight of hand can be used to justify almost any tactic to battle terrorists - including, it emerged last week, simulated drowning and other cruel interrogation techniques that Alberto Gonzales, his former attorney-general, appears to have authorised by secret legal memorandum.

Time and again, Mr Bush has twisted the law to serve his own national security goals. He has given the rule of law a bad name, and devalued the US constitution - all in the name of protecting the American people.

But now the US Supreme Court has a chance to pierce this veil of spurious legality, and reveal the constitutional and legal abuses inherent in the anti-terrorism crusade - from the treatment of detainees at GuantŠnamo Bay in Cuba, to the torture of terrorism suspects in secret prisons overseas, to the unwarranted surveillance of the phone calls and e-mails of US citizens.


The genius of American democracy is that it gives each branch of government - the executive, the legislature and the judiciary - the power to check abuses by every other branch. Mr Bush has abused his power, and Congress has failed to hold him to account; it is time the Supreme Court did so.

Fat chance. The Supreme Court couldn't even be bothered to hear this:
Khaled el-Masri, (also spelled al-Masri) the 42 year old German shoe salesman and father of five who was plucked off a street in Macedonia while on holiday, beaten and flown to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan where he was held for 5 months until the U.S. and Condoleeza Rice admitted he was picked up by mistake (a case of mistaken identity) has had his lawsuit against the U.S. rejected by the Supreme Court today.
If we ever do get a real Congress, I'd like to see at least the last two SC appointees removed. But I'm absolutely certain that Supreme Court justices who fail to recuse themselves from cases in which their own family members have a stake (Bush v. Gore) should rightly be impeached.

21:53 BST

Seasons of change

It would be interesting to know who fed the NYT the story I cited earlier saying the Dems were about to cave on FISA. It could have come from anywhere - progressives trying to light a fire under the rest of us to call our reps' offices and tell them not to cave, or Republicans hoping to smear the Democrats as continuing to be spineless cowards (because they know that alienates Democratic supporters). Maybe we'll know if the next story is called, "Democrats stand up to Bush on FISA." But, as Think Progress notes, the bill doesn't look so bad at all:

House introduces new FISA legislation. Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) introduced the RESTORE Act, the Responsible Electronic Surveillance that is Overseen, Reviewed, and Effective Act of 2007. Here are the key provisions:
  • Restores court oversight of intelligence by requiring that electronic surveillance programs be approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court
  • Mandates that FISA warrants be obtained when the administration wants to undertake surveillance of persons in the US
  • No retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that cooperated with the administrationís warrantless surveillance
  • Does not require individual warrants when targets are reasonably believed to be abroad
  • Ensures FISA is the exclusive means of electronic surveillance and that no modifications can be made without express legal authorization
That doesn't mean you can relax, of course; it's a very good idea to call your reps and tell them to back this bill, as Christy Hardin Smith reminds us.

On the same subject, Glenn Greenwald notes in an update to his post on this:

Democracy for America, the grass-roots group originally founded by Howard Dean in 2003, announced yesterday that it was targeting for defeat Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois, who has been loyally supporting the Bush administration on everything from the war to warrantless eavesdropping
Yes! Primary challenges coming from inside the party!

And Christy also has a post on activism in California to let Diane Feinstein have it. She notes that it's not just an interesting bill of particulars on DiFi,but also, "a great blueprint for putting together local action of your own across the country."

Archbishop of Canterbury speaks up on threatened attacks on Iran, Syria: Dr Williams continued: "When people talk about further destabilization of the region and you read some American political advisers speaking of action against Syria and Iran, I can only say that I regard that as criminal, ignorant and potentially murderous folly."

WWII interrogators: "We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture," said Henry Kolm, 90, an MIT physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess. [...] "During the many interrogations, I never laid hands on anyone," said George Frenkel, 87, of Kensington. "We extracted information in a battle of the wits. I'm proud to say I never compromised my humanity."

19:45 BST

Interesting times

Plumbago circleIt is almost not worth remarking on that the Bush administration seems to have burned another intelligence source, but why this organization, called SITE, has all this intel that the CIA doesn't have is perhaps a more interesting question.

Remember when Ann Coulter was complaining about how the evil left produces people Ann Coulter "can't respond to" by allowing the 9/11 widows to ask questions? Remember how upset she was that it was so hard to undermine their message by attacking them personally? Apparently, that doesn't concern some people when they want to attack a little kid who spoke up about how SCHIP was what he needed when he was hurt in a car accident. Truly, truly sick - and economically stupid, as well. We have learned not to expect morality from them, but the people who nod and agree with these right-wingers do not understand that it is more cost-effective to prevent people from becoming impoverished than it is to force them into poverty before giving them aid. (And Atrios has a little reminder for those who suggest that the Democrats made the kid "fair game" by using him in an ad - not to mention those who keep insisting that Democrats/the left would do the same things given the same opportunities. We have the opportunities, we're just not such creeps.)

I really do wish people would stop behaving as if any sex that you have when you are a minor is automatically a tragedy. Sometimes it's just fun. (Sometimes it's just boring, too, but I don't want to get too complicated, here.)

Dennis Kucinich says you're bigger than you think. And a stunning display of sexism from some Republican harpy. The Dem consultant was okay but he should have said something about how the real problem Hillary has is that the Republicans will always describe her in this sexist way and the media will eat it up.

On the other hand, Rob Reiner made a movie for Hillary, and my second thought was, "His father is funnier." My first thought was that it'd be nice if you could tell me something useful about the candidate - I already know she's a woman named Clinton.

17:10 BST

Memphis Blues, again

Oh, here's a nice headline to wake up to: "Democrats Seem Ready to Extend Wiretap Powers." Grrr. Argh. (via)

I have a lot of reasons not to like Hillary Clinton, but "she can only run because of who her husband was" isn't one of them. Most people who succeed have connections - and many of those connections start with family connections. (And anyway, the person I'd most like to see be the next president is a guy whose father was known as "Senator Gore". And both of them were a lot more committed to public service than the elephant in the oval room.)

Oh, and even Newsweek is having President Gore fantasies.

Ray McGovern at Consortium News, "So Who's Afraid of the Israel Lobby?: Virtually everyone: Republican, Democrat -Conservative, Liberal. The fear factor is non-partisan, you might say, and palpable."

There seem to be a few snags in the whole Bush Prezidental Liberry thing.

Inspired by Paul Krugman's musical references, Steve Bates reminds us* that he said it first.

I remember listening to that single and being totally envious of people who got to go to the T.A.M.I, show. So I agree with Steve about this.

12:46 BST


Do go and read Jane Smiley's "Who's Sorry Now" at the HuffPo:

Various rightwingers maintain that if the Iraq adventure had worked out, we would all be praising the Bush administration. What they don't understand is that it could not have worked out because of how it was conceived and the shallowness of the motives behind it. This was evident in 2003. In fact, it was evident in 2000. When the vote in Florida turned out to be rigged, or at least suspect, Bush and Cheney did, not what honorable men to, but what opportunists do -- they used intimidation (against the vote counters) and influence (on the Supreme Court, notably with Clarence Thomas) to seize what might or might not have been theirs by right (everyone who has read The Best Election Money Can Buy knows that Jeb and Katherine Harris also set up the Florida vote ahead of time, but I think it was in the counting that the real theft took place). Bush could have exerted himself both publicly and privately to make the vote count as scrupulous as possible. He did not. The apple was offered to him and he bit it. He never understood what elections represent in the US -- not seizure of power but acceptance of responsibility -- and so he has never understood his position or his job. His idea and Cheney's idea was that they were going to use their jobs to get what they could for themselves and their powerbase, just as they used the election controversy to get the job. They have surrounded themselves with people of like mind and those who don't think this way have left or been forced out.


Is it possible to have no sense of civic responsibility at all? Yes -- that's what Free Market theory, and the last generation of Republican culture is about. It elevates commerce and deal-making above every other human activity, and therefore glorifies opportunism. A generation of coaching by Free Market gurus has robbed Americans of the means of a decent existence."

01:47 BST

Monday, 08 October 2007

Buncha links

Paul Krugman on the Same Old Party: "There have been a number of articles recently that portray President Bush as someone who strayed from the path of true conservatism. Republicans, these articles say, need to return to their roots. Well, I don't know what true conservatism is, but while doing research for my forthcoming book I spent a lot of time studying the history of the American political movement that calls itself conservatism - and Mr. Bush hasn't strayed from the path at all. On the contrary, he's the very model of a modern movement conservative."

An unsuccessful PR job.

I see Max Boot is playing in the history sandbox, again. Because of our proud history of using mercenaries in our heroic past.

Jeez, if it only takes one e-mail to take the starch out a network's shirts, just think what a few hundred e-mails (that don't come in batches) could do. (And we'll pretend we don't know what the man meant about it seeming "different".)

Someone please ask Pelosi why she is talking such bollocks.

You never need to watch the Sunday talk shows when Cülture of Truth's translations make more sense.

I don't think so.

"The Gross National Product includes air pollution and advertising for cigarettes, and ambulance to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors, and jails for the people who break them. GNP includes the destruction of the redwoods and the death of Lake Superior. It grows with the production of napalm and missiles and nuclear warheads. And if GNP includes all this, there is much that it does not comprehend. It does not allow for the health of our families, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It is indifferent to the decency of our factories and the safety of our streets alike. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, or the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. GNP measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile." --Robert Kennedy, University of Kansas, March 18, 1968

I have a theory: Sony has decided to write off the Anya demographic. Here's video of the making of the ad, and the ad.

21:47 BST

News and stuff

Barack Obama and Russ Feingold have a hold on Hans von Spakovsky's FEC nomination. It should go without saying that the idea of von Spakovsky, a well-known election-rigger who has been illegally caging in areas where voters may lean Democratic (including districts around military bases), sitting on the Federal Election Commission is unacceptable, but up until now it was looking like Democrats were going to do their usual thing of sitting back and letting it happen. So we should certainly be glad that we've seen an exception this time, but it also stands as a reminder that they could have done this with a number of other nominations and they didn't. It only takes one of them to put a hold on a nominee, but look at all the times none of them did it. The other thing to note about this story is that Politico is casting it as a strategy on Obama's part to burnish his civil rights credentials. We expect that kind of thing from them - all actions by Democrats are cynical campaign ploys - it's a bit much that you have to get to the bottom of the page to find an actual quote from Obama on the subject of voting.

No matter how many times Dana Perino insists that Congress was properly briefed on the torture policy, they weren't. Steve Benen wonders, "The White House has its own private definition of the word "torture." Maybe the word "briefing" means something different to the Bush gang, too?" Yes, we also wonder what they mean by "freedom" and "democracy".

See, the thing about the list is that it's supposed to keep serious criminals (like sex offenders, foreign fugitives, people who have been convicted of gang violence, and terrorist organizations) out of Canada, and putting peace activists on the list kind of devalues its usefulness on a number of levels, one of which is fattening it up with more names and increasing the difficulty of getting the job done right. I realize Republicans hate to see a government do its job, but they really do love to go the extra mile in both annoying other countries and trying to suggest that we are no better than the Soviet Union in how we treat dissidents. First you can't leave the country, then you can't leave the prison. (Canadians may wish to demand an explanation from your reps. I understand questions have already been asked by a few.)

The Impolitic: "The EPA approved a new pesticide over the objections of numerous experts, including six Nobel prize winners, saying their research is better than any old neutral scientists. I think that's fine as long as those same bureaucrats agree to move their offices to the middle of the treated fields for the duration of the year long authorization. If it's so damn safe, let them sit in it."

The more Fred tells me about where the Left Behind crowd is coming from, the more I think they come from Hell itself.

Shoulder to Shoulder in Eternal Comradeship.

14:36 BST

Hope springs eternal

Bob Fertik looked at the Congressional failures of the week of September 17th and he decided:

Never again! From now on, when Congress is in session, we will publish a Weekly Agenda listing all the actions we want the Democratic Congress to take that week.
According to this e-mail I got from, it could be starting to work:
Weekly Agenda #3: Small Victories on Blackwater, Wiretapping and Torture

Last week 6,532 of you sent the Weekly Agenda to your Representatives - and we had a pretty good week in Congress as a result!

In response to Blackwater's September 16 massacre of 11 Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square, the House voted overwhelmingly (389-30) for Rep. David Price's bill to bring Blackwater and other contractors under U.S. law and FBI enforcement and take away Blackwater's license to kill. On 9/27, Sen. Barack Obama's similar amendment passed the Senate by unanimous consent.

And when "Bush Dog" Leader Steny Hoyer quietly tried to legalize the NSA's warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, 72 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus rose up in protest, and Hoyer suddenly cancelled the vote.

And when the NY Times revealed Alberto Gonzales secretly re-authorized torture in 2005, key Democrats demanded the war crimes memos written by Steve Bradbury.

But these victories were tenuous. The Blackwater bill must overcome a Bush veto. Warrantless wiretapping must be permanently ended without immunity for the telephone companies. Torture must be permanently ended without immunity for the torturers.

Together, we can and will change the Democratic Congress that we elected in 2006. So please send our Weekly Agenda for 10/8/07 to your Representatives:

You can track our full Agenda here:

I suppose it's possible that having thousands of people sending that made an impression on them. Can't say it wouldn't. Might be worth it to get on board.

Harry Reid is at least talking a bit tougher on healthcare. (Pelosi isn't sounding so tough, though.) Trouble is, I don't trust these people to be tough. But maybe if they get a million people e-mailing them the Weekly Agenda, it will make them think about it.

Bob also notes that John's birthday is this week and in honor of the occasion, Yoko invites you to make a wish and Imagine Peace. (More here.) These kids are trying to.

And since I couldn't find "Look Over Your Shoulder", here's "Oh, Lucky Man!"

01:34 BST

Sunday, 07 October 2007

Insert random phrase here

Was Alexis Debat a source for the false story tying the anthrax attacks with Saddam? Media BloodHound tries to get ABC to come clean.

Glenn Greenwald on The remaining GOP base -- the 30%'ers and the Broder/Ignatius pundit: ": "David Broder and David Ignatius both have excellent columns in this morning's Washington Post -- excellent because of how vividly they illustrate the shallowness and dishonesty for our opinion-making elite." Whatever the GOP tells them, they believe.

In the LAT, "I survived Blackwater: When the Iraqi government last month demanded the expulsion of Blackwater USA, the private security firm, I had one reaction: It's about time. As a U.S. official in Baghdad for nearly two years, I was frequently the "beneficiary" of Blackwater's over-the-top zeal. "Just pretend it's a roller coaster," I used to tell myself during trips through downtown Baghdad." (Thanks to Yonmei for the tip.)

Roger Simon never tires of proving he's an idiot.

Chickenhawks for Clinton - Too right. I'm not gonna be conned into supporting Clinton just because the right-wing nuts happen to hate her!

Is it just us, or is ITV running Whistleblowers late so people like us miss the last few minutes? I'm annoyed.

Guys dream of bra ads like this. (via)

23:15 BST

Some things to read

Ed Kilgore notes that the Third Way bunch is still trying to grapple with how to deal with abortion, and they've published a poll - but Ed suggests that this is a pretty weak-kneed way to approach an issue we may be about to lose in the Supreme Court. (And the Third Way people aren't really helping matters, if you ask me.)

Alterman in The Nation, "The Coming 'Stab in the Back' Campaign: The coming campaign's foundations are already in place. They rest on three building blocks: an attack on the loyalty of those willing to recognize reality; the construction of an alternative reality in which victory is deemed to be imminent; and, finally, a shifting of blame for a supposedly premature withdrawal to those who refuse to play along." (Thanks to Charles in comments.)

Penny stupid, pound suicidal - Treating minor offenders as adults is actually being done to save money, which anyone could have told you wouldn't work and would create tragedy.

Did you ever read Bill Moyers' speech to the 2003 Take Back America conference, "This is Your Story - The Progressive Story of America. Pass It On"? "Let me make it clear that I don't harbor any idealized notion of politics and democracy; I worked for Lyndon Johnson, remember? Nor do I romanticize "the people." You should read my mail - or listen to the vitriol virtually spat at my answering machine. I understand what the politician meant who said of the Texas House of Representatives, "If you think these guys are bad, you should see their constituents." But there is nothing idealized or romantic about the difference between a society whose arrangements roughly serve all its citizens and one whose institutions have been converted into a stupendous fraud. That difference can be the difference between democracy and oligarchy."

14:43 BST

Early Sunday assortment

Miss Mandalay Little Miss Paris underwired balcony bra

Bra of the Week

FDR, 1944: "The whole purpose of Republican oratory these days seems to be to switch labels. The object is to persuade the American people that the Democratic Party was responsible for the 1929 crash and the depression, and that the Republican Party was responsible for all social progress under the New Deal. Now, imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery - but I am afraid that in this case it is the most obvious common or garden variety of fraud."

Dave Johnson, "Do Taxes 'Hurt'? Is Government Bad?" Ronald Reagan said government was the problem not the solution, but We the People are the government, and we pay taxes because we've decided to have a civilized society. (Also: An ad from and labor groups wastes a teachable moment.)

"A Sentence To Prison Is A Sentence To Be Tortured" - We're putting kids in prison, often for things that most of us don't even think of as crimes (and that we white, middle class kids did when we were that age, and if we got caught, we mostly just got yelled at), and they end up brutalized and sometimes killed. But we live in a society that excuses what happens to them because they, after all, are criminals.

Jonathan Schwarz reminds us that the media was always pretty reactionary, despite that tiny window of time in which it was a bit less so, but now it's back to normal.

We had the British trying to terrorize us on our own soil, we had nukes aimed at us, we fought Nazis, but now we're facing a really bad enemy. (And here's that link you wanted: Bush's Torture Woes.)

Scum: "The Minnesota National Guard unit that served in Iraq for 22 (!!) months were brought home one day short of the time they'd need to serve overseas to be eligible for full educational benefits. Tell me someone didn't carefully consider this expense when they scheduled them to come home." (Also: Colbert challenges Krugman.)

01:48 BST

Saturday, 06 October 2007

More stuff I saw

Krugman points out that Europe's economy is getting a bum rap, and the French are getting a lot more bang for their buck in terms of a better lifestyle with very little loss of productivity or GDP. Demosthenes discusses. The only apparent advantage for America "principally consists of increased compensation to the already fantastically wealthy and slightly greater pay for those with no time to enjoy it."

I see Stand Down is back up, and the UK government has banned Monday's scheduled peace march. Organizers have decided to hold it anyway. Also, some debunking of a myth about British media.

"Still Crazy After All These Years" - Maha notes right-wing fantasies of what successful liberal programs would do to America: "Jaw-dropping, isn't it? Never mind that little of this nightmare scenario has anything whatsoever to do with liberalism. Never mind that much of it - the gutting of the military, runaway national debt, free speech restrictions, rising crime rates, escalating global conflict, a deteriorating economy - is happening now. I want to know what's up with their obsession with Rosie O'Donnell.

Edwards gets 800% crowd turnout in rural Kentucky. Not too shabby.

Woodrow Wilson: "Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men's views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it."

Ken McLeod looked at the videos he taped off the TV on 9/11, and came to the conclusion that the planes did it. I know that's a big issue for some people, but for me the bigger issue is the refusal to do a thorough investigation. (Oh, and then there's Building 7....)

I think Charlie hit the big time with a cool cover blurb quote from Bruce Schneier (and some other luminaries, too). He's posting excerpts of Halting State on his diary.

19:06 BST

Awkward instants

Brian Whitaker, five years ago in the Guardian, "Playing skittles with Saddam: In a televised speech last week, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt predicted devastating consequences for the Middle East if Iraq is attacked. "We fear a state of disorder and chaos may prevail in the region," he said. Mr Mubarak is an old-fashioned kind of Arab leader and, in the brave new post-September-11 world, he doesn't quite get the point. What on earth did he expect the Pentagon's hawks to do when they heard his words of warning? Throw up their hands in dismay? -- "Gee, thanks, Hosni. We never thought of that. Better call the whole thing off right away." They are probably still splitting their sides with laughter in the Pentagon. But Mr Mubarak and the hawks do agree on one thing: war with Iraq could spell disaster for several regimes in the Middle East. Mr Mubarak believes that would be bad. The hawks, though, believe it would be good. For the hawks, disorder and chaos sweeping through the region would not be an unfortunate side-effect of war with Iraq, but a sign that everything is going according to plan."

In comments to Lambert's post, Sherry Wolfe explains why her t-shirt didn't get her thrown out of a Bush appearance.

Some Marines felt insulted by their treatment by airport security in Oakland. (Someone should tell them a lot of people are feeling the same way lately.) The letter going around about it says, "It felt like being spit on." But Rush Limbaugh is spreading the story as people spitting on Marines. (via)

Seen the GOP's 2008 logo, yet? Bear in mind that there's only one thing elephants do in that position.

The RIAA assault on the Duluth woman who had downloaded 24 songs and was fined $220,000, coupled with the pretentious claptrap about the industry's "legal and moral high-ground" from one of its representatives, has pushed Madison Guy over the edge: "Let's teach the heartless, greedy bastards we're the customers and boycott Sony." Sounds good to me - they deserve it after that destructive DRM they tried to poison our computers with.

12:12 BST

Words and pictures and sounds

Rachel Maddow's Campaign Asylum - Gingrich's Pantsless Departure, and Rachel vs. Pat Buchanan on SCHIP.

Part 1 of Matt Taibbi's presidential campaign blog: "Fred Thompson's Wocket's Wed Gware; no toilets in Council Bluffs; the homeless discuss the race". Rachel interviewed him on her Friday show, which you can (theoretically) hear at her dynamic link as soon as it's posted, until Monday evening. Also, Rachel is having surgery Monday and will be out of the studio for two days - and Marc Maron will be sitting in. That may come as a shock for listeners who don't know about Marc. (Did I just hear him say he'd be having Greg Proops? Cool.)

Jon Stewart feels no need to apologize to Chris Matthews, but he did suggest he'd been unfair to another book interview subject - Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of The World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army: "Yes, apparently, apparently -- and this was news to me -- it turns out having a private security firm subject neither to Iraqi, United States nor international law can create some oversight issues killing-wise." Amy Goodman: "That was Jon Stewart on The Daily Show last night. Jon, it takes a man to admit a mistake; it takes a mensch to invite Jeremy Scahill back on the show and do it right."

John Dean tells Keith Olbermann that the statute of limitations on torture crimes should be extended and the administration should not get away with what they've done.

Sherrod Brown explains what's going on in Costa Rica with CAFTA. It's really rather exciting - there's a very good chance the pro-CAFTA elites will lose the referendum despite an enormous disinformation campaign. If that happens, CAFTA is dead. Let's hope it works. (And then we find a way to kill NAFTA.)

Wildmon snake-oil - the wingers claim their ad was refused because it has a Christian message, but it's your basic, um, oh, that's right: lie.

Tom Tomorrow illustrates David Broder's political philosophy.

00:44 BST

Friday, 05 October 2007

Items of interest

Jack and Jill Politics notes the hot new fashion, in "Nooses: When Retro Goes too Far". (via)

Scarecrow at FDL asks, "How Do You Repudiate A Lawless Regime? [...] And the questions everyone keeps avoiding are once again staring America in the face: What are we going to do about it, America? How long are we going to allow this regime to taunt us, to disgrace our nation, to trash every legal and moral principle upon which our country was founded?"

The Pentagon originally claimed that Ciara Durkin was killed in action in Afghanistan, but that seemed unlikely, since she was part of a finance unit, working a desk inside the Bagram green zone. And then it turned out she was found inside the secure area, right by her church, with a single gunshot to the head. Sounds like it was either someone who stalked her, or someone who knew her movements, doesn't it. Especially strange after she'd told her family on her last visit that "if something happened to her in Afghanistan, they should look into it. She was concerned about things she was seeing over there, one of her eight brothers and sisters said in an interview."

Ann Coulter, voice of the homoerotic closet party. (Also: TBogg has a good point.)

The culture gap.

22:33 BST


Chris Matthews speaks:

"Hardball" host Chris Matthews addresses attendees at Thursday night's ten-year anniversary of "Hardball," which took place at the Decatur House in Washington, D.C.

Chris Matthews had barely finished praising his colleagues at the 10th anniversary party for his "Hardball" show Thursday night in Washington, D.C. when his remarks turned political and pointed, even suggesting that the Bush administration had "finally been caught in their criminality."

In front of an audience that included such notables as Alan Greenspan, Rep. Patrick Kennedy and Sen. Ted Kennedy, Matthews began his remarks by declaring that he wanted to "make some news" and he certainly didn't disappoint. After praising the drafters of the First Amendment for allowing him to make a living [It's all about him], he outlined what he said was the fundamental difference between the Bush and Clinton administrations.

The Clinton camp, he said, never put pressure on his bosses to silence him.

"Not so this crowd," he added, explaining that Bush White House officials -- especially those from Vice President Cheney's office -- called MSNBC brass to complain about the content of his show and attempted to influence its editorial content. "They will not silence me!" Matthews declared.

"They've finally been caught in their criminality," Matthews continued, although he did not specify the exact criminal behavior to which he referred. He then drew an obvious Bush-Nixon parallel by saying, "Spiro Agnew was not an American hero."

Matthews left the throng of Washington A-listers with a parting shot at Cheney: "God help us if we had Cheney during the Cuban missile crisis. We'd all be under a parking lot."

Gosh, he never says this stuff on Hardball.

I liked this bit:

On a side note: Matthews was overheard discussing his Tuesday appearance on "The Daily Show," which featured a heated exchange with host Jon Stewart. According to one source, Matthews was steadfast in his belief that the debate left Stewart crestfallen, and Matthews victorious.
Yeah, right. (via)

15:14 BST

All the news in bits

There's anger in the Senate over the new revelations about the torture program: "I find it unfathomable that the committee tasked with oversight of the C.I.A.ís detention and interrogation program would be provided more information by The New York Times than by the Department of Justice," Mr. Rockefeller wrote. The administration, of course, continues to pretend that torture isn't torture (unless it actually kills you - on purpose - as near as I can tell).

The House passed a bill applying US laws to contractors in Iraq 389 to 30, "despite strong opposition from the White House." Obama has submitted a similar measure in the Senate. Meanwhile, someone apparently realized that it wasn't going down well to have Blackwater provide security to the FBI agents who were sent to Iraq to investigate Blackwater.)

Krugman is nice and shrill today in "Conservatives Are Such Jokers" - and, personally, I don't think Kristol was just joking when he said, "First of all, whenever I hear anything described as a heartless assault on our children, I tend to think itís a good idea. I'm happy that the presidentís willing to do something bad for the kids." Because that's a big part of his philosophy. "Most conservatives are more careful than Mr. Kristol. They try to preserve the appearance that they really do care about those less fortunate than themselves. But the truth is that they aren't bothered by the fact that almost nine million children in America lack health insurance. They don't think itís a problem."

Time finally got around to covering the matter of Selective Justice in Alabama - that is, the bizarre prosecution of Don Siegelman. (Not done as well as Scott Horton, though - he had this stuff nearly a month ago, and that's just one detail of the case.)

A good idea: "It is Time for Bill Richardson to Retire From the Presidential Race. Pete Domenici is resigning, and Bill Richardson would be a great man to replace him. Bill, it is time to make a decision." Domenici's timely announcement will probably be a result of the unusual propensity for memory losses that seem to beset a disproportionate number of Republicans.

You know, in all the times I saw Phil Ochs perform, I never saw him do "Cannons of Christianity".

13:53 BST

Updating GG

In an update to this post, Glenn Greenwald:

From the American Freedom Campaign, via email:
Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) signed the American Freedom Pledge yesterday, expressing his commitment to protecting and defending the Constitution. With Senator Obama's pledge, all of the Democratic presidential candidates except Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) have now either signed the pledge or have provided the American Freedom Campaign Action Fund with a detailed statement addressing the issues described in the American Freedom Campaign Agenda . . .

The American Freedom Campaign (AFC) Action Fund is encouraging all candidates to sign this pledge, the text of which is as follows:

"We are Americans, and in our America we do not torture, we do not imprison people without charge or legal remedy, we do not tap people's phones and emails without a court order, and above all we do not give any President unchecked power.

"I pledge to fight to protect and defend the Constitution from attack by any President."

The Campaign also sent letters in August to the announced Republican presidential candidates. None of the Republican candidates have provided AFC with a response. Earlier this year, however, Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) signed a similar pledge circulated by the American Freedom Agenda, an organization formed by conservative leaders, including former Reagan official Bruce Fein and former congressman Bob Barr.

It is striking how little any of these candidates have been asked about issues of executive power and presidential lawbreaking, and none -- other than Chris Dodd and, to a lesser extent, Ron Paul -- has made those issues significant part of their campaign.
You also want to read the update to this post, which begins like this:
I honestly just read the most unbelievable and enlightening article I have ever read. If someone asked: "I would like you to show me one article that explains everything that has happened in the U.S. over the last six years," I would show them this:
He goes on to discuss some extraordinary racism from Podhoretz, with some truly creepy quotations. Scroll down for it and be amazed.

There is no update to his communication with the ADL, who still only seem to mind Nazi comparisons when they are apt, but not when they are simply used for specious attacks on the left.

11:29 BST

Late headlines

How Bush is succeeding in Iraq

Incredible! Protester wears anti-war T-shirt to Bush speech without getting thrown out, beaten, or arrested.

Bush lies about SCHIP, and so does Chris Matthews.

This worries me. (Also, I wonder what a "bona fide medical" purpose is.)

RIAA: Our anti-fan lawsuits are costing us millions.

What Bush saw in Putin's soul

Lance Mannion is totally and completely wrong.

03:00 BST

Thursday, 04 October 2007

Just apoligize, already!

Antonia Juhasz's "The Handover That Wasn't" was posted at Alternet in July of 2004, but some people clearly need to have their memories refreshed:

Before his departure, CPA chief Paul Bremer issued 100 Orders to dramatically restructure Iraq's economy to fit free-market ideals. And no Iraqi, including future elected officials, can undo them.


A sampling of the most important Orders demonstrates the economic imprint left behind by Bremer:

Order #39 allows for the following: (1) privatization of Iraq's 200 state-owned enterprises; (2) 100 percent foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses; (3) "national treatment" of foreign firms; (4) unrestricted, tax-free remittance of all profits and other funds; and (5) 40-year ownership licenses. Thus, it allows the U.S. corporations operating in Iraq to own every business, do all of the work, and send all of their money home. Nothing needs to be reinvested locally to service the Iraqi economy, no Iraqi need be hired, no public services need be guaranteed, and workers' rights can easily be ignored. And corporations can take out their investments at any time.

A fine recipe for wrecking a country.

And none of it is inconsistent with the stated intentions of the free-marketeers on the right, the PNAC crowd, the Straussians, and a Texas governor named Bush back in the '90s. It was all there, in print, in the media, for anyone who was looking.

And those are the people who the neoliberals, neocons, "liberal hawks", and the whole "serious" crowd trusted to run invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq because they were either happy with all that or too stupid to understand what a mess they were making.

Tristero is, I think, too kind in his response to Roger Cohen's stupid moaning about being called a neocon. Tristero says Cohen is not a neocon, he's a fool. But Cohen has been so willfully blind to the whole disaster that he helped bring about - and I don't just mean the invasion of Iraq - that it hardly matters, does it?

(PS. Believing that AIPAC has too much influence is not the same as believing in a "Jewish conspiracy". Do keep up at the back.)

16:23 BST

Saw it on the web

Another reminder that technology is no substitute for standard police work, and Mao for generals.

Republicans are outnumbered, and Afghanistan was a gateway war.

Atrios notes that we are now hearing that retirees are a "pressure group", although they represent a significant percentage of the population (and most of us hope we can afford to be among them some day).

Atrios, also referred, in the context of Bush's SCHIP veto, this item from last July on the virtues of emergency rooms as a good alternative to universal healthcare. I believe I found this link there, to a story of a woman who tried to use an emergency room in an actual emergency. Also via Atrios, Amanda's looking forward to reading Faludi's The Terror Dream. Why, yes, 9/11 was an excuse to bring back open misogyny! And don't miss Josh Marshall's "Charnel House", with more scary background on how we became a torture nation.

Why is this guy at The Huffington Post?

When even a right-winger like Henry Ford understood that you don't make real money unless everyone else is making money, including your employees, people got smart and started paying their employees so they could buy their products. And America became a wonderfully rich country. It's amazing to me that so many "smart" people managed to forget this essential point. (Meanwhile, Leahy caved, although I can understand why. Bush purposely put one of his insane people in as acting AG when Gonzales left so that no one would want to delay getting rid of him for too long, and it seems to have worked.)

Greg Mitchell at E&P remarks on the remarkable interchange between Jon Stewart and Chris Matthews in the "book interview from Hell".

Roz Kaveney finds Andrew Sullivan talking bollocks on Gay/Transgender issues. You weren't at Stonewall, Andrew. (Don't miss the production number in the comment thread.)

The symposium I attended in March at Durham University, Positions on the Politics of Porn: a Debate on Government Plans to Criminalise the Possession of Extreme Pornography, has now released its report, posted on their website in .pdf form. (I really wish people who think "h" is a vowel would not edit other people's work.)

14:09 BST

Wednesday, 03 October 2007


Autumn in LondonI was out for a walk in the park today and brought my camera. It's definitely autumn.

Gary Ater in American Chronicle on Why the GOP Is a Failed Party: "The GOP today is focused on having a 'Market Driven' economy. This means that there should be no help or support of any kind from the government. Big business should build and support the market. They believe that 'market forces' alone will determine which companies will succeed or fail. Even in education today, the concept of the affordable college education is almost non-existent for most families. In retrospect, it must be noted that based on a historical review of past world economies, no country or region of the world has ever succeeded with a concept of being 'Market Driven'. Every successful democratic or representative economy has required some level of support from their government in order to flourish, grow and continue to succeed."

Charles Sullivan at Op-Ed News on Loaded Language and Loaded Guns: The Meaning of Opposites: "One can no longer understand US governmental policy on the basis of conventional language or traditional wisdom. Language itself and its long-established meanings were long ago twisted and distorted in order to deceive the people. Now war is peace and terror and occupation is liberation. In order to make sense of what is happening, it is important to understand everything within the context of a specific economic philosophy, and the distorted capitalist system that spawned it."

Milton Friedman's Last Interview - Apparently, even Friedman wasn't as stupid as his followers. Or maybe they were just pretending that they meant the same thing by "efficiency" as he did.

I've become so used to it that I almost forget to kvetch about it sometimes, but the Republicans' violations of the Hatch Act are breathtaking on just about every level.

"Adam Smith and the Village's Amusement at War" - Glenn Greenwald on the insularity and corruption of the Capitol Hill mob, and the promise and disappointment of Obama.

18:20 BST

Let no one leave alive

Seymour Hersh on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. Hersh explains why Hillary is on board on Iran, too (down at the end).

NTodd celebrates Gandhi, and tries to believe.

At Brilliant at Breakfast, Enron has risen from the grave - or, rather, continuing corporate unaccountability.

It's not really any surprise to know that Limbaugh lied about which "phony soldiers" he meant, but Media Matters has it all documented. Alas, as JHB points out in comments, the troops didn't get to hear Limbaugh's original statements since they were aired in the second hour of the show, which isn't broadcast on AFR. Now he's giving them the edited version.

So, decisions about who to release from Guantanamo have nothing to do with who is dangerous and who isn't - it's all politics, just like everything else. (Republicans like to say they value life and hate "red tape", but not when it comes to their opportunity to kill people.)

All I know is that caving in on transgendered people didn't work the first time and there's no reason to think it will work now. Besides, you lose your moral footing when you start picking people you can throw to the wolves.

MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams - March to War with Iran? - Steve Clemons, Pat Buchanan, Rachel Maddow. Also, Rachel and Pat re-fight the Vietnam war.

Echnidne on Relevant questions about presidential candidates, and Katherine Q. Seelye's stupid article about women bloggers.

My god Darrell Issa is an idiot!

Atrios is right, that Daily Show segment with Chris Matthews is weird.

American Stranger figures six quid is a fair price for the Radiohead album sans packaging and material distribution costs. That's about twelve bucks. Sounds good to me, but I like Brad's formulation that one thing you're paying for is to encourage good policy and take control of the music away from the big recording companies. (He paid thirty bucks, but that means he can afford to.)

"A Salty Dog"

15:27 BST

Quit your low down ways

Greg Sargent: "Approps Chair Obey Says He'll Block Funding For War Without Withdrawal Date: This is kind of big: Dem Rep. David Obey, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, just said at a presser that he'll use his power as committee chair to block future war funding measures if they don't contain clear timetables for withdrawal from Iraq and don't allow for longer troop rest times." Jeez, what took you so long? (Do I believe he'll stick to this? Um, well, I'm not gonna hold my breath, but....)

Norman Solomon has a new book, Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State , and an excerpt has been posted at The Smirking Chimp: "The freezing of love into small spaces, part of the numbing of America, proceeds in tandem with the warfare state. It's easier to not feel others' pain when we can't feel too much ourselves."

I see Wes Clark and Eric Massa have both called for Rush Limbaugh to be pulled from Armed Forces Radio. (I wonder how the troops reacted to hearing him call them "phony soldiers".)

Robert Parry, "Bush's Global 'Dirty War': George W. Bush has transformed elite units of the U.S. military - including Special Forces and highly trained sniper teams - into "death squads" with a license to kill unarmed targets on the suspicion that they are a threat to American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to evidence from recent court cases."

Ezra had an op-ed in the LAT the other day, "Candidates go Code Blue on healthcare", and he says you can't confuse the two parties on this issue.

Wow, people must really be paying attention - they're blaming the Republicans for Congress being such crap.

Radiohead has an interesting experiment going - they're going to let you name the price for downloading their music.

The Kingdom - First 4 Minutes - Examining the history of U.S. involvement in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, via Avram.

02:43 BST

Tuesday, 02 October 2007

Nazi comparisons

I rarely find much to disagree with Glenn Greenwald about, but I think he has his chronology wrong when he writes:

One of the rules of political discourse that we had until quite recently -- enforced most vigorously by groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and The Simon Wiesenthal Center, among others -- was that nobody was allowed to invoke Hitler and Nazis as a political insult. To do so, we heard constantly, was to trivialize Nazisim and the Holocaust and exploit that imagery for cheap political gain.
Glenn is a bit younger than I am, because his idea of "until recently" is a bit shorter than mine. I can still remember when warning comparisons of oppressive activity on the part of the authorities with "what the Nazis did" was simply expected - especially from Jews (including those who had survived the holocaust). You don't censor, suppress protest, discriminate on the basis of race or even sexuality because that's what the Nazis did. I heard it all the time growing up - from German Jews. It was understood that you had to stamp such things out as soon as they reared their heads because if they took root, we might see fascism grow in our free country as it had in theirs. That's what "never again" used to mean: that you don't let them do it anywhere, to anyone.

I'm not quite sure when the idea that it was a mistake to make the comparison started to overtake that continual habit of warning. I remember when a few people - on the left - started saying that to do so weakened recognition of "real" fascism (I always disagreed). And then Rush Limbaugh started dominating the AM airwaves and calling people "feminazis", and an increasing number of right-wingers started complaining that being asked not to refer to people as "niggers" was some kind of politically correct fascism, and so on.

And then it was the same right-wingers who complained whenever someone on the left (including a lot of Jews who still reacted with alarm to oppressive tactics on the part of the authorities) noted that our government was engaging in activities that they had previously seen emerging in Nazi Germany. Apparently, as long as they hadn't yet started sending people to the ovens and making lampshades out of them, you couldn't acknowledge that suppressing dissent, arresting (or shooting) people arbitrarily, discrimination on the basis of race or sexuality, or even rounding people of a particular religious background up and locking them away indefinitely without trial, bore any resemblance to "what the Nazis did". The fact that some German Jews still survive to make that comparison makes no difference - we're still "a free country" and can't possibly be accused of being anything like the Nazis.

However, "the left", or liberals, or even Democrats, can be compared with Nazis for doing things that are pretty much the opposite of what the Nazis did. It's "Gestapo-like" to ask that school children not be subjected to forced prayer in schools, for example. (Right-wingers have of late been indulging the fantasy that the Nazis did not promote religion. They've apparently never heard of "Kinder, Küche, Kirche.") But compare Guantanamo, where prisoners have been told, "You will die here," with gulags or concentration camps? Outrageous!

So the language of warning against growing fascism has been neutralized by outrage from the right, and instead people who warn against fascist tactics are accused of being fascist, Nazi-like, or even antisemitic. And this has been going on for at least the last 15 years. But it is no long-standing rule that no one could make Nazi comparisons; rather, it was a reversal of the rule that Nazi comparisons were appropriate to emerging fascist tactics. The new rule - new, that is, as of about 15 or 20 years ago: that only actual warnings against actual fascist tactics are unacceptable. Attacks on the left for being "fascist", "Nazis", "Gestapo-like" or "antisemitic" are, however, A-OK.

23:52 BST

Cheese and crackers with fruit

Escape from New York - just a peek at how much effort the authorities have gone to in order to spy on, harass, and intimidate people who disagree with them.

Cursor: "P.W. Singer talks to Harper's Scott Horton about how privatization of the military is undermining political and legal accountability, while the Washington Post's Walter Pincus observes that Gen. David Petraeus makes 'less than half the fee charged by Blackwater for its senior manager of a 34-man security team.'"

Wow, Rupert Murdoch really would cheat his own mother.

David Yepsen in The Des Moines Register says that the refusal of the frontrunners to commit to getting out of Iraq within the next six years might just create an opening for Chris Dodd. Via My Left Nutmeg, which also reports that Chris Shays thinks Blackwater is doing a perfect job.

Chertoff on The worst thing you can do to the environment.

"A Coup Has Occurred" - Daniel Ellsberg's speech at American University on 20 September: "Let me simplify this and not just to be rhetorical: A coup has occurred. I woke up the other day realizing, coming out of sleep, that a coup has occurred. It's not just a question that a coup lies ahead with the next 9/11. That's the next coup, that completes the first."

Stan Freberg on Winding the War Down (Thanks to Stu for the tip.)

19:23 BST

Take two aspirin

Natasha: "It's very sad. And astonishing. Who knew that the tale of Superman was more a prophetic allegory about the future president of Iran? On his home planet In his home country of Krypton Iran, Kal-El Ahmadinejad is merely an ordinary man a civil engineer of some modest political skill who had the great, good fortune to be well known enough to win the presidency when the public was disillusioned with both their outgoing crop of reformers and the establishment retread that was put up against him. Back home, he doesn't even have unusual strength any authority over foreign policy. But here, on planet Earth in America, the rays smell of our yellow sun Freedom Fries gives him super strength, heat vision, incredible speed and heightened senses the power to turn politicians and pundits alike into a great pack of howling lunatics."

Anita Hill has an op-ed in the NYT saying Clarence Thomas lied, he's still lying, and she stands by her testimony: "In the portion of his book that addresses my role in the Senate hearings into his nomination, Justice Thomas offers a litany of unsubstantiated representations and outright smears that Republican senators made about me when I testified before the Judiciary Committee - that I was a 'combative left-winger' who was 'touchy' and prone to overreacting to 'slights.' A number of independent authors have shown those attacks to be baseless. Whatís more, their reports draw on the experiences of others who were familiar with Mr. Thomasís behavior, and who came forward after the hearings. Itís no longer my word against his." Now, she says, he is smearing her further. And we already know from David Brock that Thomas lied. (via)

Thank you, oh Rude One, for four years of rudeness. (Like this one for Rush Limbaugh.)

Debbie Riddle, who has been pushing a bill requiring voter ID because she is afraid minorities are voting more than once, apparently doesn't think she should be stopped from voting multiple times in the Texas legislature. (Thanks to Begonia Buzzkill in comments for the tip.)

11:50 BST

Threat level

Josh Marshall on the new right-wing "grassroots" group Freedom's Watch: "First, both articles note that Freedom's Watch is made up of Bush-Cheney big-money givers and former staffers at the White House. But the AP makes explicit what the list of personnel makes clear: These aren't people close to "Bush" or "the White House". It's more specific than that: The activists and givers are people close to Dick Cheney." And their next campaign? War with Iran.

Israeli historian Martin van Creveld in the Forward: "Since 1945 hardly one year has gone by in which some voices -- mainly American ones concerned about preserving Washington's monopoly over nuclear weapons to the greatest extent possible -- did not decry the terrible consequences that would follow if additional countries went nuclear. So far, not one of those warnings has come true. To the contrary: in every place where nuclear weapons were introduced, large-scale wars between their owners have disappeared." (via)

Digby: "It's truly heartwarming to hear all these right wingers express their support for labor and human rights. In Iran. I'm sure we'll see more heartfelt bi-partisan measures to build the humanitarian case for bombing."

02:15 BST

Monday, 01 October 2007

Seen on blogs

I was reading Eric Alterman's recommendation of this Peter Galbraith article, and I couldn't help thinking that the real reason Bush wants to attack Iran is that he's embarrassed by the fact that everyone knows his invasion of Iraq did Iran a favor.

People all over the world loved America, but now recoil in horror. But those are the real people, the ordinary ones. It's another story with the elites.

Steve Clemons isn't exactly easy with Hillary Clinton's statement about why she voted for the Iran amendment, but I still think he lets her off too lightly. She said: "I voted for this resolution in order to apply greater diplomatic pressure on Iran. This resolution in no way authorizes or sanctions military action against Iran and instead seeks to end the Bush Administration's diplomatic inaction in the region." Yeah, well, the Iraq resolution didn't give Bush permission to invade Iraq once Saddam let the weapons inspectors in, but that didn't stop him, did it? At least Edwards admits that voting for the Iraq resolution was a mistake. Tough-guy Hillary can't say that, apparently, and I've had enough of tough guys who can't admit their mistakes.

Michael Bloomberg compares the Iraqi insurgents with the Americans who fought in the Revolutionary War: "We're the British." (via)

Kos is saying that accepting public campaign funding will hamstring Democrats, but not Republicans. (This is especially true since Republicans will still get all that free campaign help from the media.) And DemFromCT points to Ten things you may not know from Gallup. Republicans have been successful at convincing their supporters to distrust the media; Democrats, apparently, have not. (And residents of the former Soviet states thought they were better off under the commies.)

Why am I not even a little surprised to learn that a spokesman for Texans for Lawsuit Reform seems to have a record as a habitual malpracticioner?

23:23 BST

Found on the intarweb

Ruth is having Schadenfreude after learning that "It is the official, considered position of the state of Texas that President Bush is a constitutionally ignorant power-grabber." (Meanwhile, as the Supreme Court reconvenes, I think Diane is more hopeful than I am about Justice Kennedy.)

Buzzflash reviews Todd Gitlin's Media Unlimited, and I do hope they get around to fixing that unfortunate typo.*

Cynthia McKinney is writing letters.

Bill Tchakirides wonders how we got here.

Jurassicpork has a plan: "The Democrats proved how easily they could outfox us last November. So instead of drawing from the same polluted well of candidates that gave us Ciro Rodriguez, Nancy Boyda, Claire McCaskill, Jon Tester and others, why don't we draft progressive bloggers?"

Picture this - terrorism in America: it's an everyday thing.

God is with us.

21:48 BST

On a visionary flood of alcohol

Steve Soto notes an unexamined aspect of the 2013 strategy:

First, if the top three all agree that there will be tens of thousands of American soldiers inside Iraq as late as 2013, then any plans that Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi had for attaching mission change language to the funding bill just died a quick death. This was clearly a case of the top three candidates simultaneously trying to send a reality check to the base and a "you can count on me" assurance to the Beltway Foreign Policy Wise Men. But in doing this, the Democratic Party has just told George W. Bush that he has nothing to worry about now for the remainder of his term. Any rhetoric from Reid, Pelosi, and even the candidates themselves about forcing Bush to clean up his mess will now be dismissed because what Hillary, Obama, and even Edwards did was take the next 12-14 months off the table as an area of disagreement. Why argue over something your own candidates just said was baked in the cake? All that remains among the top three now is a meaningless debate over why they would have managed a disastrous occupation better than Bush.

Second, by doing this, the top three just sucked a great deal of energy for their candidacies out of the base.

It certainly sucks a lot of energy out of me. I realize Edwards isn't quite as gung-ho to keep troops in Iraq as the other two, but still. (One thing you can say for Hill and Barry, they sure do know how to tell the rest of us to bugger-off.)

"When America Went Fascist: It is a truism in the blogosphere that one more terrorist attack will turn America into a fascist state. People speculate about what fascism in America will look like, or how they might fight it. Others boast that they plan to flee the country ahead of the coming fascist takeover of the United States. One cannot read these posts without a sense of bitter irony, because one thing is clear to those who are watching carefully: The United States of America is already a fascist state. The United States turned fascist on December 11, 2000."

I almost missed the fact that McCain babbled some damage-control after his creepy interview with Beliefnet in which he said that the Constitution established the United States as a Christian nation.

If you missed Seder on Sunday, complete with Atrios' opinion of the strange thinking in Washington, use the widget for the 070930 show.

19:06 BST

I apologize for talking about....

Without a link, Atrios declared Joe Klein to be, the 5th stupidest person on the planet.. So I went over to Swampland to see what Joke was doing this time.

I don't know if this is what set Duncan off, but Joe is talking about the standard NYT rollout of attacks on the Democratic frontrunner, naturally delivered by Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd, alleged liberals. Since it's Hillary, I suppose I shouldn't mind, but I know they will be available to do the same job even if the frontrunner becomes someone more tolerable. Meanwhile, Joe heroically leaps to Hillary's defense!

The style question would be far more serious if Clinton were appreciably more cautious in policy terms than her opponents, but she isn't. Rich seems miffed that Clinton waited before releasing her health plan--but it's a good plan, arguably the best submitted this year, and it took a fair amount of courage to release it since the Republicans have already started the Hillarycare/socialized medicine riff. Her position on Iraq is also solid, responsible...and not much different from those offered by her opponents (with the irresponsible exceptions of Bill Richardson and John Edwards, who really don't seem up to speed on the implications of the rapid drawdowns that they're advocating).
Yes, wanting to get out of Iraq by 2013 is a "rapid drawdown" among the Serious. (And why say "Bill Richardson and John Edwards"? Richardson is not one of the frontrunners, and if we're going to include him, we might as well include Dodd and Kucinich, who certainly aren't singing the same tune as Hillary. I take this to mean that Klein sees Richardson as still more "serious" than the other two.)
This is not to say that Clinton is flamingly frank, or brave, or even close. Obama has been willing to disagree with the all-powerful and mostly brain-dead teachers unions. He supports merit pay-- what an outrageous idea! And Clinton did seem too cute by about 3/4s when she refused to answer Russert's social security question in last Wednesday's MSNBC debate.
There's that old neoliberal slam at the teachers unions, always useful if you don't believe in public education but otherwise a dishonest pack of crap. "Merit pay" isn't real merit pay and teachers have a good reason to resist it, but Klein either doesn't know or doesn't care about good education so he's in favor of it.

The fact that Joke Line seems to be falling in love with Clinton may be the best reason yet to oppose her candidacy.

(Meanwhile, I heard Michael Hirsh on the radio a little bit ago claiming that Bush knows he can't attack Iran because it would just make Iraq even harder. Presumably like he knew that invading Iraq would be a disaster.)

15:13 BST

When the rain comes

Tom Engelhardt, "Bush's Free World and Welcome to It: [...] In other words, when, in June 2004, Bremer handed over 'sovereignty' to an Iraqi 'government' lodged in the foreign-controlled Green Zone and left town as fast as he could, he essentially handed over next to nothing. He had already succeeded in making Iraq a 'free' country, as only the Bush administration might have defined freedom: free of taxes, duties, tolls, accountability, or responsibility of any kind, no matter what Americans or their allies and hirelings did or what they took. In Iraq, in a twist on the nightmare language of Orwell's dystopian novel 1984, freedom meant theft."

Democrats are cool with protecting the GLB, but not so much the T. What's the point?

Digby notes that some of the far-right movement whackos are threatening a third-party run if Giuliani (a "social liberal") is nominated by the GOP. My reading of the Rovian pattern so far is that the leadership will offer them something to stay in the fold and they will probably fall in line. On the other hand, the Democrats won't even give their center, let alone their left flank, more than an occasional breakfast with Bill. We can be sure, however, that as Digby suggests, the usual voices of the devil will continue a familiar meme. "You tell me which party should have more to fear that its base is alienating the American people? Which party really needs to be running from the "crazies" of its base and which one's "crazies" are actually average Americans from all walks of life whose most radical proposal is to ensure that all Americans have access to a doctor?" I'm sure Joe Klein and David Broder have an answer ready.

More on the Contracting Biz from Josh Marshall, why they are reputedly "better" than regular troops, and further excuses made for having them. Josh leaves out: the fact that some are in fact foreign nationals; the fact that they are not sworn to the US Constitution; and the fact that a war in which mercenaries are preferable is a war we don't need to fight. If we need the war that badly, we need a draft. If we don't want a draft, we don't want the war.

My state has already had $8.8bn appropriated from it for the war. How much is your state spending?

Condemn name-calling! Or is it only liberals who aren't allowed to make puns?

AT&T threatens to disconnect subscribers who criticize the company - at least, that's what their TOC says, but once they start editing content, they're liable for any illegal material they might be carrying, too, and I don't think they'll want that to happen. (Meanwhile, techies are proposing a technical solution to help fight for net neutrality, and Wendy Seltzer tells universities to stand up to RIAA copyright bullies.)

Okay, that's it, no more Kettle Chips.

13:01 BST

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