The Sideshow

Archive for September 2007

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Sunday, 30 September 2007

Assorted stuff

"Shifting Targets - Sy Hersh in The New Yorker on how the administration is recasting their Iran plan from anti-proliferation to anti-terror. He appeared on CNN where he discussed it with Wolf Blitzer; C&L has video.

So, the noose thing is really catching on, it seems. But racism is supposed to be dead, isn't it? (via)

And speaking of bigotry, get this: "British MPs visiting the Pentagon to discuss America's stance on Iran and Iraq were shocked to be told by one of President Bush's senior women officials: "I hate all Iranians." [...] The all-party group of MPs say Debra Cagan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Coalition Affairs to Defence Secretary Robert Gates, made the comments this month." Don't miss the photo. (Thanks to Update: Interview and another photo here.

Jim Moran (D-VA) did a pretty good job on Hardball coming down for withdrawal from Iraq. (And Chris Matthews is in heaven, being able to criticize the occupation and the Democratic presidential candidates at the same time.)

Some things I didn't know about Blackwater - Why does it not surprise me that the right-wing religious nut who runs Blackwater is not only a big donor to the Republican Party, but also a contributor to the Green Party?

Rosanne Cash : "The Johnny Cash Show is an artifact from another time and place that you can hardly believe once existed, and doesn't exist anymore, certainly not on television. But it exists in my memory, and in the template of my childhood experience, and now, on DVD for the whole world. "

18:53 BST

Words and pictures

Charles in comments on Clarence Thomas:

I've never understood the sense of entitlement that leads conservatives to think that they can apply for high-paying jobs with excellent benefits, comfortable hours, and all the social perks, yet not have to answer any tough question.

I think they should start Senate hearings by making the applicant pee in a specimen cup.

Iran passes non-binding resolution calling CIA and US Army terrorist organizations. Not making that up. "Now, this "tit for tat" resolution is just as silly as the one passed last week by Senate. Both are non-binding and essentially meaningless, or are they? While I much prefer a war of words to shooting wars, too often the first is a prelude to the second, as we learned in March, 2003. Our administration has become quite adept at catapulting the propaganda, and the Iranians may just have given the White House another rock to toss around."

Many people are disappointed that Newt Gingrich won't be running for president because ethics is too hard for him.

Nicole has posted the sections from the Democratic debate with their answers on torture and and their favorite Bible verses. Leaving aside the fact that none of them looked the least taken aback by the appalling Tim Russert asking the appalling question, I thought most of them responded pretty well, and they even picked ones I like. (Edwards had the one I would have picked.)

Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann on politicizing national security and 9/11.

Dept. of Nothing New Under the Sun: "on July 26, 1956, the House of Representatives voted 373 to 9 to cite Pete Seeger and seven others (including playwright Arthur Miller) for contempt." (Which looks like it's being quoted from here.)

RIP Miss Moneypenny - Lois Maxwell, actor, former journalist, at 80.

14:34 BST

On the internet

I know David Ignatius is a hack because he thinks the answer to what's wrong in Washington is for Democrats to compromise with the administration. He's defending McConnell's dishonesty and castigating people for taking note of it; apparently, you should just keep trusting people who lie to you. He seems to think Petreaus is unfairly seen as flacking for the administration even though he is obviously flacking for the administration. The Democrats should not be criticized for giving the administration too little, but for giving the administration too much. Bush should stop breaking the law, and Congress should stop helping him. And The Washington Post should quit providing cover for him, too.

Even the conservative Deborah Howell admits that the WaPo's coverage of the Iraq demonstration last week should have pointed out that anti-war demonstrators far outnumbered the pro-war demonstrators. Everyone makes it sound like a minor error, though, as if their news judgment being this far off was something easily overlooked. Wrong. People made these decisions because they wanted to, not because they forgot basic rules of reportage.

A simple remembrance of Sgt. Omar Mora and Sgt. Yance T. Gray, who were among the seven who wrote the NYT op-ed and who have since died in Iraq, has turned into a bipartisan fundraising drive for Fisher House, which builds housing near military medical facilities to house the families of the injured. They started out with a goal of $2,000, but met it so quickly that they've decided to shoot for ten grand. Get on board.

plane crashed in Mexico that contained four tons of cocaine. The interesting thing is that it's one of the "ghost planes" identified by plane-spotters as making flights between the US and Guantanamo. No one seems to want to admit to owning the plane, of course, but it seems to have changed hands a lot. I heard this and thought, "Air America".

Those of you who've wanted to get people to read Bob Altemeyer's The Authoritarians but know they'll never bother with it in PDF may be pleased to hear that it's now in print - and no doubt would make a fine gift. (Thanks to Randolph for the tip.)

Vote Vets has created a video in response to Rush Limbaugh, and John Soltz has challenged him to a verbal duel.

We have now reached the point where wearing an arty T-shirt in an airport is a security threat. Oh, joy.

10:23 BST

Stuff I saw

Triumph Ultimate Temptation underwired push-up half cup braBra of the Week (Okay, I just liked the picture - don't think I'd find a use for the bra in real life.)

Alex has a new look for Army of Dude and a firm reaction to being labelled a phoney soldier by Rush Limbaugh. Alex is the real deal.

Greg Sargent notes that being a famous drag queen, adulterer, cohabiter with gay couples, and long-time supporter of abortion rights and gun control has not stopped Adolph Giuliani from being the front-runner among the religious fanatics. John Dean says Giuliani, like Bush, is "much, much worse" than Nixon - which is what they like about him.

Rick Perlstein on The Best Wars of Their Lives: "The denial: Norman Podhoretz, the neoconservative godfather and Rudy Giuliani adviser, confidently posits that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction all along--but somehow surreptitiously shipped them to Syria. The bargaining: The White House's fervent remonstrations that if we squint at the problem in just the right way--counting "sectarian violence" but not car bombs, say--civilian killings are actually declining in Iraq. The anger: How dare the liberals refuse to understand that under our new commanding general, with his brand-new "strategy" that magically wipes the slate clean of everything else that's happened during the past four years, we're actually on our way to victory?" Via Digby.

He's so upset that Media Matters "smeared" him by quoting his own words that Bill O'Reilly says he's going to launch a war on smearing: "...he's going to 'hunt down' media who smear public figures -- and not just him, but Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Oh yeah, if you smear any of those folks, he's 'coming to your house.'" I'm sure he's got people trawling through comment threads at Daily Kos right now looking for Kossacks who are saying rude things about Hillary that he can condemn.

How do such stupid adults have such smart kids?

Arthur's computer has gone mad; send help.

00:45 BST

Saturday, 29 September 2007

It's coming through a hole in the air

Clarence Thomas has a book coming out in which he demonstrates that he is nothing but a seething mass of resentments because he was forced to answer questions before being placed on the Supreme Court of the United States of America. Gosh, the poor guy! Who else in history has suffered such indignity? Mustang Bobby can think of someone....

Digby explains why the Republican front-runners are skipping all the debates sponsored by racial and ethnic minorities: "The Republicans are the party of racists. None of the front runners are able to use the usual racial codes of being Southern good old boys, or evangelicals or even reliable "pro-life" conservatives so they are reduced to blatantly proving to the racist base of the Republican party that they are one of them by publicly snubbing blacks and Hispanics to win the nomination from the racist GOP base." (Also, what the insiders think are outsiders.)

Jamison Foser wants to know why, though Mitt Romney's campaign is riddled with corruption, the media only wants to talk about some guy who raised some money for Hillary Clinton.

In Germany, the love affair with offshoring is over: "Dautel's decision to backtrack now puts him in good company. Many thousands of German companies joined the march to Eastern Europe and China during the past 15 years, hoping to reduce production costs there. But recently many have been returning, disillusioned. Smaller companies in particular are finding they overestimated the apparent advantages of low labor costs or more advantageous tax laws."

My fellow Atriots Molly Ivors and Ruth are writing about Burma, about a silenced internet (it could happen to you) and a tragic history that has not stopped.

Bruce: "This is a song about things that shouldn't happen here - happening here."

16:47 BST

Feeling our way

Henry Waxman is getting peeved with the Inspector General:

Dear Mr. Krongard:

I am writing to you about an exceptionally serious matter: reports that your senior staff has threatened officials that you could fire them if they cooperate with the Committee's investigation into your conduct.


You should be aware -- and you should advise your staff -- that Congress has passed civil and criminal prohibitions against threatening and tampering with witnesses, retaliating against whistleblowers, and providing false information to Congress.' If Special Agent Militana's and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall's accounts are true, some or all of these provisions may be implicated.

The Committee will not tolerate any intimidation of potential witnesses. I direct you to instruct your staff, including your congressional affairs liaison and attorneys, to suspend all communications (other than those necessary to collect responsive documents) with employees the Committee is planning to interview. I also warn you against any further efforts to intimidate witnesses or prevent truthful communications with Congress.

A citation in the footnote to the letter reads:
l8 U.S.C. § 1505 ("Whoever corruptly, or by threats of force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstruct, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law... [snip] Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years. . . or both")
I would love to see these people do time.

Terry Karney keeps hearing that Blackwater mercs are immune from prosecution, but, "Actually, no one who is a US Citizen is immune to US prosecution for war crimes. USC Title 18 Part 1 Chapter 118." There's the snipers picking off members of the press, or the guy who just "shot and killed one of the vice president's guards without provocation." The feeling that these people are operating under someone's orders never really leaves me. The guy who runs Blackwater is a right-wing religious fanatic, but you know, Darkseid is a god.

It would say something if all the netroots money for the quarter went to Richardson. I don't really like him, either, but at least he actually sounds like he wants to get out of Iraq. But then, I feel kinda the same way about Dodd, because he's so good about FISA and habeas, and at least he did promise to be out by 2013. Of course, the other problem with this strategy is that absolutely none of those die-hard Obama supporters will stop giving him money even though he stands for less and less every day. (Have I mentioned lately how little faith I have in people who act like they think they can make DC into Woodstock Nation just by being nice and non-partisan?) Maybe there's something to be said for getting everyone to send money only to Kucinich for the quarter, even though everyone knows (and "everyone knows") that he can't win. (The thing about using money this way: It only really works if you send a note to the other candidates about how your dollars are workin'. Probably write to your local paper or even the national press to tell 'em, too.)

If your buddy's having trouble, help them out, because Every Soldier Counts.

12:42 BST

The heart has got to open in a fundamental way

At No More Mister Nice Blog, Steve M. says: "I don't know why the war is still going on -- the number of insurgents who are dead or captured is now, according to the U.S. military, greater than the number who were fighting," and even a majority of Republicans want out of Iraq within the next six months, but we have these Dem candidates who don't seem to think getting out is a big issue, so maybe Kristol is right when he says they'll probably manage to blow the election, although perhaps not for the right reasons. Oh, and Steve also tipped me to an article in The New York Observer, "Dan Rather's Last Big Scoop" - about the corrupt relationship between CBS and the Thornburgh panel that "investigated" the 60 Minutes TANG story.

Nick Coleman in the Strib, "Let's call 'em 'faith-based bridges' -- pray you get across: You knew the powers that be would take bold action after the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge. And it didn't cost a dime!" (Thanks to Jeff Schalles for the tip.)

Democrats apparently believe that the "67 votes" rule has worked really well for the Senate, so now they are using it in the House. But, as Scarecrow explains, the Democrats have potent weapons at their disposal to force the Republicans to get on board or get out of the way.

All right, all right, it's been weeks since I mentioned Burma, and that was before the current (rather exciting) events. Jon Swift does or doesn't castigate us all.

The Burns Sisters, "Democracy is Coming"

00:53 BST

Friday, 28 September 2007

Steaming media and other stories

Guest-posting at Firedoglake, Naomi Wolf: "Blackwater: Are You Scared Yet?: In little noticed news, Blackwater, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Arinc were recently awarded a collective $15 billion - yes, billion - from the Pentagon to conduct global counter-narcotics operations. This means that Blackwater can be deployed to engage with citizens on a whole new level of intimacy anywhere around the world - including here at home. What is scarier than scary is that Blackwater's overall plans are to do more and more of its armed and dangerous 'security' operations on U.S. soil."

Bill Scher notes that Kristen Breitweiser says she got a lot of calls from the media fishing for her outrage against Ahmandinejad, but they weren't interested when instead she said something like this: "Real statesmanship would be a presidential candidate with the courage to encourage potentially dangerous, misinformed leaders like Ahmandinejad to visit Ground Zero, in the hopes that they might learn something. Real statesmanship would mean proposing a new dialogue with Ahmandinejad and other Iranian leaders, searching for some common ground between America and Iran while there's still time to avert disaster." None of them appear to have used quotes from her.

Lambert wants to highlight Paul Lukasiak's work some more in light of Froomkin's recent column on the Rather story. Lambert really wants people to pay attention to the fact that Lukasiak's original research relied on verified documents and not whatever Rather and Mapes had.

A woman is being prosecuted for obscene writings by the United States attorney for Western Pennsylvania.

18:21 BST

Things people say

Verizon reversed itself on NARAL text messaging, claiming it was an "isolated incident". "But the company did not retreat from its position that it is entitled to decide what messages to transmit." And there you have it, people - big corporations want to control what we can say to each other. I can think of no finer example of why all telcos and internet providers must operate as common carriers. "'This incident, more than ever, shows the need for an open, nondiscriminatory, neutral Internet and telecommunications system that Americans once enjoyed and took for granted,' said Gigi B. Sohn, the president of Public Knowledge, a consumer advocacy group."

The Democrats' excuse for why they let the Republicans lead them around by the nose is that they have important legislation to get passed and they need to have a certain amount of civility between them and the GOP in order to get them to go along. This means they give the store away and then hope like hell that the Republicans will let them pass something real. They had to give away an awful lot just to raise the minimum wage, but their more recent antics were certainly beyond the pale. Allegedly, this is all in aid of SCHIP, certainly a good program which should pass. But why is it so hard? Atrios joins the chorus of people saying Dems are crap at making their case. And that's just for starters. Dems should refuse to do any business with the Republicans if they won't pass the legislation the public wants without insisting on breaking the Constitution to do it. If they don't, we have a right to ask them whose side they are on.

Even Bill Clinton says out loud that the Republicans have no business complaining about MoveOn. Down With Tyranny is considering strategies for making Democrats do the business, and is taking a poll (with Crooks and Liars, Firedoglake, and Digby). Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) has actually responded to requests for an explanation of her vote. I don't think it's good enough, but she sounds sincere. Which means we have to find ways to convince people like her that they are doing themselves and the country harm when they fall for this stuff. It is not the business of Congress to condemn puns they don't like; it is their business to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

Cursor: "As it's suggested that Dan Rather might 'call the president as a witness' if his 'magnum opus' proceeds to trial, Sidney Blumenthal argues that it 'may turn into one of the most sustained and informative acts of investigative journalism in his long career,' and cites a 'little noticed' article, 'The Flawed Report on Dan Rather.'" Jane Hamsher says, Dan Rather Lights 'Em Up: I’ve just finished reading Dan Rather’s complaint against CBS, Viacom et. al. and I have to say, it really got me going. There’s never been anything quite like it, and it has the potential to lay bare the sleazy, compromised relationship between the White House and corporate media in a dramatic and oh-so-entertaining way."

14:23 BST

Thursday, 27 September 2007

A moving paper fantasy

At least my own Congressman turned up in the "Nays" on this list, so I called to say thanks and ask if anyone could explain what's going on there - and convey my feelings that the mood out here in the real world is far worse than they can imagine. They said they'd pass it on.

NYT review of Charlie Savage's Takeover, "The Case That the President's Reach Exceeds His Grasp: At the end of this chilling volume Mr. Savage offers a concise and powerful conclusion: 'The expansive presidential powers claimed and exercised by the Bush-Cheney White House are now an immutable part of American history - not controversies but facts. The importance of such precedents is difficult to overstate. As Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson once warned, any new claim of executive power, once validated into precedent, ‘lies about like a loaded weapon ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need. Every repetition embeds that principle more deeply in our law and thinking and expands it to new purposes.' 'Sooner or later, there will always be another urgent need.'"

The Patriot Act is unconstitutional - A judge has ruled against the government: "By asking her to dismiss Mayfield's lawsuit, the judge said, the U.S. attorney general's office was 'asking this court to, in essence, amend the Bill of Rights, by giving it an interpretation that would deprive it of any real meaning. This court declines to do so.'" (Tom says in comments that the wingers don't seem interested.)

Steve Soto was all ready to defend the Democrats until they voted for the Bomb Iran amendment. He's depressed. But we already knew this was going to happen, surely? The argument isn't about whether they will betray us, it's about why and whether there is a way to stop them. 'Twas ever thus. (I used to think it went without saying that you cannot fall in love with a political party and that it isn't about "My team is good." It's all about pressure and finding where the pressure points are. The problem is that there doesn't seem to be a way to break through because they are all feeling more buffered by the right-wing press and Broder Brigade than endangered by the public's anger. The issue is how to make politicians fear the public as they should.)

Bush on education: 'Childrens do learn'. I'm not sure I can add anything to that, expect to point out that most of us learned subject-verb agreement well before we got to junior high.

Can anyone find video of the candlelight vigils in Iran after the 9/11 attacks? I saw it them on television at the time, but I didn't have any luck with Google.

16:31 BST

Every Flavor Beans

"Verizon Rejects Messages of Abortion Rights Group: Saying it had the right to block 'controversial or unsavory' text messages, Verizon Wireless has rejected a request from Naral Pro-Choice America, the abortion rights group, to make Verizon's mobile network available for a text-message program. The other leading wireless carriers have accepted the program, which allows people to sign up for text messages from Naral by sending a message to a five-digit number known as a short code." (More here.)

Fascinating. David Broder actually has something negative to say about Republicans doing Bush's bidding on SCHIP. Everything he says about it is true. What a pity he will never write a similar column about Democrats who line up with Bush against their constituents, the Constitution, and morality. (And, hey, what happened to the comment thread?)

This is the first story I've seen of an Iraq vet returning his medals in protest. We'd probably have more by now if they let more of them get out alive.

Josh: "At the TPMCafe Book Club, Mark Schmitt and Ed Kilgore chime in on Matt Bai's new book, The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics. It's so engrossing that Mark read it right past his subway stop. Ed's post is here."

14:14 BST

News and comment

Josh Marshall on the bomb Iran amendment: "So the upshot is not that the bill is innocuous. It's just not as bad as it was. At least that's my read. For those Dems who voted for it, it was still a really bad vote." (Also: "D'oh!: Leave it to Sen. Norm Coleman to step on his own dingbat story. Turns out Coleman also got a cut-rate price on his anti-Moveon newspaper ad.")

Steve Clemons highlights the heroes and villains in the Darkness at Noon approach to enemy combatants, and says Bellinger was on the right side, and Addington is the biggest of bad guys.

Eric Boehlert: "Now, I realize the accepted Beltway media takeaway from CBS' National Guard controversy is supposed to be that the network was guilty of a colossal, historic newsroom blunder from which there is no possible defense or redemption. (Personally, I'll leave that category to the Judy Millers of the world.) But the dirty little secret that bloggers and mainstream journalists don't want to discuss is that Rather is right -- the National Guard story was true."

Eric Alterman says Lee Bollinger's introduction of Amenadinnerjacket was rude. Which it was. And I see Scorpio agrees.

Robert Parry on The MoveOn Fiasco and why such a simple pun could be turned into a federal case.

A Lebanese oud player's performance was cancelled by a San Diego venue because they felt the presence of an Israeli performer on stage with him was required for balance. (via)

11:27 BST

Some stuff

Charles is working on a translation of a transcript of a pre-invasion discussion between Bush and Prime Minister Aznar of Spain about Bush's plans to invade Iraq that's pretty interesting so far.

Is the U.S. dollar the new Schrute Buck? One thing's for sure: It sure don't mean what it used to.

"Why are you here," the Vice President of Iraq, Tariq al Hashemi, asked. "I don't know," he said. "They hit me and hit me and hit me until they made me admit to something I haven't done. What can I do?"

"1 Shot 1 Kill No Remorse I Decide" - Auguste on the snipers baiting people by leaving things on the ground - and shooting whoever stops to pick them up.

"Shock at archbishop condom claim: The head of the Catholic Church in Mozambique has told the BBC he believes some European-made condoms are infected with HIV deliberately." (via)

"Coast Guard Academy to further probe noose incident: NEW LONDON, Conn. - The superintendent of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London says he has ordered further investigation into two incidents in which nooses were left for a black cadet and an officer giving race relations training." (via)

NPR turned down an interview with Bush when the White House insisted he be interviewed by Juan Williams, which is why the interview ended up on Fox. (via)

Judge quashes RIAA subpoenas in campus file-sharing case: "In a first, a federal judge in Florida has quashed two RIAA subpoenas against students on technical grounds."

01:07 BST

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Like trying to build a cathedral with peas

Glenn Greenwald raises two issues, the first being "what increasingly appears to be the eagerness of the Democratic Congress to grant retroactive immunity to the telecom companies for having violated our country's eavesdropping," and the second being the re-emergence of the right-wing concern for human rights that they normally don't care about - in Iraq, it was women, but this time it's gay rights in Iran. Yep, that's right, the right-wing is worried about the treatment of gays in Iran. Glenn, like Amanda, believes the attack on Ahmadinejad's appearance at Columbia is part of the wider effort to demonize Iran in preparation for an attack on them, but I think it's also part of the wider effort to demonize universities, another "enemy" of the conservative movement.

The Many Faces Of Juan Williams.

Does Ross Perot need the money? "All they told me was: 'David Redden is selling this really important document, the most important document of all. Can you give up this room for us?'" he recalled. "And I'm like, 'Sure, but what is he selling, the Magna Carta?'" (via)

"Bush astounds activists, supports human rights" - Atrios linked to this under the heading, "Journalism!" Yes. McClatchy deserves praise for doing the job right and making Bush's hypocrisy the story, here.

Thom Hartmann reviews David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism, and it still sounds to me as if "neoliberal" is just a euphemism for people who don't want to have to call themselves "neocons".

We won the war on drugs!

For some people in America, domestic terrorism is an everyday thing. We Protest.

Kos says, "we go to DC with the Democrats we have, not the ones we wish we had." Well, sure, but we only have about half of them, and someone else has the rest. Conservatives still run Congress, just like always. (via)

16:03 BST

"The world is drowning in liquid injustice!"

Media Bloodhound notes that NPR played softball with ABC on the Alexis Debat story, but the answers nevertheless exposed dysfunction at ABC that goes well beyond one lone hustler.

C&L has video of Donald Trump on Fox & Friends saying that Bush is probably the worst president in the history of our country, Iraq and Iran were not responsible for 9/11, and that everyone wants to get out of Iraq, including, probably, a lot of Republicans. What I thought was interesting is that as soon as Trump says everyone wants to get out, the host interrupts by asking if Trump is "pro-Saddam Hussein". Don't they know that Saddam is dead? What does getting out of Iraq have to do with Saddam Hussein?

Make calls about Von Spakovsky - Christy Hardin Smith has more reasons why.

Digby notes that the Republicans have already called the winners of the primaries, and thinks it's a bit early for that.

I was going to link more stuff, but I'm in a foul mood. I have the new Pratchett and it's looking much more attractive than yet another attempt to explain that we don't have 'til November of 2008, and I'm not interested in proving we can implode in a fit of self-righteous apoplexy. Since I'm trying to restrain myself from using language that will trigger the net-nanny filters of some of you folks who read this at work, I'm just gonna shut up now. Go read The Newshoggers or TBogg, or Cursor or something for a while.

01:41 BST

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Signs and portents

Sirota: "It is mere months after Democrats won the election on a promise to defend America's middle class. The nation demands action to address burgeoning health care and environmental crises. But somehow, the first significant initiative the newly empowered Democratic Party is likely to pass into law is a lobbyist-written trade pact to help Big Business ship jobs overseas." Has anyone explained yet that the only way we can "compete" with slaves is to become slaves? We need to tell them that we don't care if the Republicans will allow them to pass legislation - we know that any legislation the Republicans will sign on to should not be passed at all.

Jim Webb implores the Senate not to pass the Liberman/Kyl "sense of the Senate" amendment, saying it could be interpreted as a declaration of war. (And Tom Friedman says no more Friedmans! "I'm afraid we've run out of six months. It's really time to set a deadline.")

Ex-commander in Iraq cites leadership crisis in U.S. "My assessment is that we have a crisis in national political leadership," Sanchez said. "When will America recognize the danger we face? When will the corrosive partisanship of American politics end and allow for a bipartisan solution to arguably the most dangerous threat our nation has faced in over 60 years?" (Thanks to BB for the tip.)

As demonstrators for the Jena 6 moved out, white supremacists moved in. David Neiwert reports.

Bill Richardson approved this message.

Wingers cower, we laugh. And Thom Hartmann says that Columbia has shown confidence in American values.

20:04 BST

In case of emergency, break glass

There's a subject I've wanted to avoid....

See, the trouble with the things Arthur writes is not that they are too alarmist or even just true, it's that he understates the case. The invasion of Iraq was an enormity of such proportions that I don't think anyone really takes it in. And an attack on Iran could make that seem like pocket change.

And I have absolutely no idea how to get this through to anyone who can do anything about it, or if such a thing is even possible.

Or if it could make a difference, at this late date, even if we could.

A handful of crazy people have brought us to a state of lawlessness. I don't just mean the Department of Justice, I mean the whole world. The United States was a significant part of an international agreement to lawfulness, and the Bush-Cheney administration has announced a reversal of that charter.

The rule of law only works if people generally agree to it. When that breaks down, all bets are off.

The rest of the world has noticed. They are quietly taking steps to try to minimize the damage to themselves. I don't know if they can; it's probably too late for them, too. They waited for 2004 to see if we would handle our problem, and we didn't. They have stopped waiting. That's probably going to hurt us a great deal in the future. I'm glad I don't have children.

People are waiting for leaders, and that isn't working. Some people talk about taking "action", but at least as many think that, while that may be the only answer, the threat of an American version of Tiananmen Square has already become all too real.

Anyone who sees what's going on is scared.

How do we turn that fear into something that works, that speaks, that turns the tide?

From time to time I post links to other people's suggestions (here's one), but it's hard to get people to agree on anything.

All I know how to do is say, "This is what I hear, this is what I see." It's all I've ever known how to do.

Are you waiting for me to tell you what to do? Don't. Because I don't know, either. This is up to you.

14:33 BST

You can't hop a jet plane like you can a freight train

We were told this early on in the war, but we've all become used to looking at the official counts of troops killed in combat rather than the total number of troop deaths resulting from service in the current action. The official number is for people who actually die on the field. If they manage to get them to a helicopter before they die, they don't get included in those counts. Meanwhile, the number of Gulf war deaths since 1991 is higher than it was for the 20 years of the Vietnam war, it turns out: around 74,000.

He's 23 years old and he knows more about politics than most of the people on Capitol Hill seem to. He should run for office. Unfortunately, he'd rather make films. But right now, he's Poppy Bush's pool boy.

Jane Smiley: "One thing the right wing hates in the U.S. is the humanizing of someone they have tried to dehumanize. That's why they have so objected to the Iranian president's visit."

HBO is making a movie called Recount, about those traumatic days in 2000 when we lost our country. The write-up makes it look like it won't do much to illuminate the situation. Laura Dern will play Katherine Harris, and Kevin Spacey, Denis Leary, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson, Ed Begley, Jr., and Bob Balaban will play various members of the two political/legal teams.

04:19 BST

Where the neon madmen climb

"Politics in Black and White" - Paul Krugman on Jena and what it tells us about how there are plenty of people in the south - and the Republican Party - who haven't changed since the '50s. And he means that in a bad way.

First Wesley Clark tells us all we should shut up, and then, having announced his support for Hillary Clinton, he goes on the air and sounds just like her. What a bummer.

State legislators go insane, threaten to punish Columbia University for allowing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak at their World Leaders Forum. Man, it's busting out all over. (Of course, Ahmadinejad claiming there were no homosexuals in Iran didn't exactly shore up his rep as a statesman. No wonder his own people hate him for being a crackpot.)

I don't know why people are saying this push-polling isn't push-polling. It obviously is, and it obviously is Joe Biden's consultant pushing negative GOP memes about Democrats.

Looks like the Scaife divorce is creeping up from below the radar as the status of toys like the Arkansas Project become part of the haggling over how much of his money his wife is entitled to.

Nicole Belle has video of Bill Kristol swiping at Hillary Clinton, but since we expect that, what's more interesting to me is how he kinda seems to like her more than you might have expected. That is, unless you've noticed how conservative her agenda really is.

Alan Greenspan's Shocking Confession & The Myth of the Free-Market Economy.

JFK Quotes You Probably Haven't Heard, including: "I believe in an America... where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source."

Memories of Katherine Harris.

00:27 BST

Monday, 24 September 2007

On the landscape

It's frustrating, isn't it? Right-wingers can attack America with impunity, and even get Democrats to go along with outrageous votes, and make up lies that get journalists fired, but we just don't have the juice to fight back effectively. And how come the Republicans never have to answer for stuff like this?

Lambert nudges me to link to Paul Lukasiak's original research on Bush's TANG desertion, and mparker provides the link to Maha's expert testimony on typing.

NTodd: "Would that the Iraqi insurgency required their commanders watch The Battle of Algiers. Regardless, I submit it is incumbent on the mightier occupying force to demonstrate its greater moral power by restraining itself and withdrawing. Bush and the apologists would have you believe leaving is a sign of weakness, when really it is the ultimate demonstration of strength."

Maryland residents had a Town Hall meeting with Chris Van Hollen: "Warren Kornberg asked, 'We wonder if you see what you're staking on a single throw of the dice - on the outcome of the next election.' Regarding Van Hollen's seeking 'the best possibility of advancing our agenda," I said Van Hollen's bedrock obligation wasn't to pass legislation, but was 'in your oath of office: to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies.'"

Betty Bowers, the world's best Christian, explains The Homo Agenda.

Jon Swift asks, "Why Do Conservatives Like Larry Craig Seem So Gay? "

When Louis Armstrong spoke up: "The people over there ask me what's wrong with my country. What am I supposed to say?"

22:43 BST

You'll still be in the circus when I'm laughing in my grave

"So, what kind of political juice does Blackwater have? Because we know, with Bush, that's what it always comes down to. And since they're mercenaries, there's a lot of money to be put into willing Republican hands. [...] And a lot of power to be grabbed. The criminal Bush regime already used Blackwater in NOLA, and now that they've destroyed the National Guard in Iraq, they may need to expand their domestic use. How nice for all of us."

Over at Welcome to Pottersville, jurassicpork observes that some people are still claiming that the entire story on George Walker Bush being AWOL from the National Guard has been "discredited". Bollocks!

And what kind of guy constantly has to remind everyone how important he is?

His mentor turns on bin Laden: "In an open letter, one of bin Laden's most prominent Saudi mentors, the preacher and scholar Salman al-Oadah, publicly reproached bin Laden for causing widespread mayhem and killing."

Hey, Maru finally got a new look, and the page loads faster. Still all those interesting images, though. Oh, and here's Cenk talking about stupid Democrats.

Peter David and family try to check in at the airport: "'Kathleen David' is apparently a similar name (not even the same: Similar) to someone who is a suspected terrorist. As a result, Kathleen is on a No-Fly list." (via)

At last, "Memo From Turner".

10:07 BST

Stops on the Infobahn

I know this blog has internal anchor links, because I found it in my referrers via a direct link to a quote from me. But I don't see the permalinks to that or other posts on the blog. Anyway, two pieces I found linked there were "An Honorable Exit from Iraq: 7-step plan to end terrorism" and "Living Wealth: Better Than Money - If we are to slow and ultimately reverse the social and environmental disintegration we see around us, we must change the rules to curb the pervasive abuse of corporate power that contributes so much to those harms."

It still amazes me that so many people buy the idea (usually without having seen the original document posted by CBS) that the Killian memos were exactly the same as a Word document. I looked at one of the memos CBS originally posted online and saw many artifacts of using an actual typewriter (such as letters out of alignment) and dissimilarities between the font in the memo and the default Word font that was claimed to be the source. In fact, I've never seen anyone establish that the font in the memo is even packaged with Word. Like Lambert, I think this is worth mentioning again in light of Dan Rather's lawsuit against CBS. Although it is certainly possible that the documents were forged, it was just as certainly never established, and it rankles that a lot of people who have never even used a typewriter were willing to accept the geek-babble of others who talked like they'd never used one, either, as evidence that they were forged. (Note that some of the records that were released directly by the White House are consistent with the Killian memos (Bush military records).

Rachel Maddow's Campaign Asylum is particularly rich this week, with coverage of the "Values Voters" debate, including the America-hating song they created just for the occasion.

People talk from time to time about how athletes must be taking illegal drugs or hormones because there's no other explanation for why various records and scores have shot up so in the last thirty or 40 years. Not so. It's easy to forget that when the Boomers were still kids, we were warned not to swim, and often do other athletics, right after eating or drinking anything, because supposedly it would give you cramps. That turned out not to be true, and that gave us Gatorade.

01:38 BST

Sunday, 23 September 2007

There must be some kinda way out of here

Perhaps I haven't been alarmist enough. When you talk about building a third party, you're talking about later. We don't have time for that. The question is what we do now. Because, gee, I don't know if you've noticed this, but things are falling apart. If we don't do something now, there may not be another chance.

Jena: Faithful Progressive and Corrente both have big posts up about how big a deal the response in Jena has been, with lots of good links. They also note that it's being largely ignored as a significant issue both in most of the mainstream media and to a great extent in the blogopshere - certainly in the top-tier blogosphere. I've linked to the story a couple of times, but it's true that few of us have brought much focus to it. Go read what FP and Lambert have to say about it.

I have often noted that Diane Feinstein bites. Glenn Greenwald has a lot of important things to say about that. And sooner or later we are going to have to talk about why Feinstein bites. No, I don't mean the fact that she is an ardent supporter of the power structure, I mean the fact that she has been left there as long as she has despite the fact that she bites. And it's this: We've let her get away with it because she has hidden behind being female, pro-reproductive rights, and generally non-hostile to gay rights. But you know what? That's not good enough. NARAL endorsed Lieberman and he hid behind it, even though, in truth, he only "supported" reproductive rights on votes that were high-profile but didn't count (and sabotaged them when it did count, on below-the-radar procedural votes). I absolutely think reproductive rights and gay rights are important, and I don't trust anyone who opposes them, but it's not enough. People shouldn't be able to pass themselves off as liberal just because they have kept their noses clean on these issues. They need to be on the right side of all the major issues.

UK webhost censored Craig Murray - and with him Boris Johnson and a whole bunch of other people. Suddenly Blogspot looks very attractive.

Unexpected Naked Jack!

18:00 BST

Last gasps

Even Mad Kane is making noises of terminal disgust with the Democrats.

And why not? It's hardly as if they've been, you know, serving the public or anything.

Lots of people are saying the system is broken. They are, in the main, correct.

Matt wants to know what it would take for us all to finally throw up our hands and refuse to support the Democrats.

Arthur Silber wonders if I'll take it personally - I don't, but I have to repeat what I've said before: It is not that we think that "the Democrats are good," it's just that there aren't a lot of alternatives.

I don't know how to make it more clear that being registered as a Democrat and having an identity as a Democrat are two different things, and a lot of us are the former rather than the latter. People talk about how people who call themselves independents are really one thing or the other, but to a large extent many registered Democrats are really independents who are trying to push where it will be most effective - in the primaries. Trouble is, people just don't seem to understand yet how crucially important the primaries are.

We have a problem, of course. We're in an emergency situation and the possibilities for creating an effective third party are not convincing. Truth be told, we do not have time to wait for the election, which is still too far away to stop what's going on right now. It also doesn't seem likely to produce a president who will do what's necessary to stop the occupation and restore the Constitution.

Calling for insurrection isn't likely to be helpful. (Yes, I know there are plenty of Democrats and leftists with guns, but the other side has more and bigger guns. And even when the rebels have the most guns and can win the physical fight, history shows that the results are at best unpredictable and often produce people like Stalin.)

People could start demonstrating outside the offices of members of Congress who don't seem willing to do what their constituents have mandated, of course. I'm in favor of that - if you have the time. But bear in mind that the effort to hamstring individuals with economic punishment has been very effective - we no longer have the kind of support culture we had in the '60s that allows most people the freedom to take time off work (or quit) so they can fight the power.

A one-day general strike sounds nice, but I'm not even sure we can manage that, and one day is just one day - I don't think it will convince anyone.

The Republicans clearly are committed to doing what they are doing until such time as the Democrats stop letting them, so as far as I can see the only thing to do is to keep the pressure on Democrats.

I absolutely think that every sitting Democrat who failed to stop the bankruptcy bill, the FISA expansion, the further funding of the occupation, or the stupid resolution against should have to answer vocal demands from their constituents for an explanation for their behavior, and no accusation should be off the table - including questions about whether they are compromised, either by personal interest (owning shares in the war machine, e.g.) or outright bribery on the one hand, or blackmail on the other. Or maybe just plain threats. (Anthrax, anyone?)

(It should also not be out of the question to ask them if they understand that Likud does not represent American Jews.)

But the point is, "supporting the Democrats" isn't the issue. Opposing the Republicans is important, but any question that begins with "supporting the Democrats" is waiting for the election, and really, we don't have time.

I actually think it's a good thing that many people have vowed to send their money to rather than to the Democratic Party or to any Senator who voted for the MoveOn resolution (which at least worked out for MoveOn), but I hope every one of them also wrote those Senators and told them what they were doing. And I also hope you didn't let your Senator off the hook for not moving to stop the resolution in the first place. Harry Reid should hear from everyone personally. At a time like this, it's not good enough to shuffle into the Senate and vote "No" after the deal is already sealed.

Just how much do you think you can do to make sure that any Democrat who has been weak-kneed against Bush and the Republicans faces a primary challenge right now? Have you joined your local party and attended meetings and spoken up? Have you arranged to meet with your representatives? Have you even bothered to put pressure on your reps if they are Republicans?

There is one thing: We have to stop allowing people to pretend this is a normal election. It isn't. It's not just a matter of trying to choose the best steward for a functioning system.

But the election is still more than a year away, and these people can do a lot of damage between now and then.

So here's the thing: It's all very well to say that the system is broken, that the Democrats are compromised, that they all are a bunch of careerist elitists who like things just the way they are, but saying so doesn't actually stop it.

So, aside from swearing at them - and at me, and Duncan, and Digby - what do you suggest we do?

14:06 BST

Selected items

Elle Macpherson Intimates Dentelle underwired bra

Bra of the Week

Last Tuesday Chris Matthews had Medea Benjamin and Joe Conason on Hardball to talk about the tasing incident and Matthews actually said all the right things. Conason observes that as a result, Matthews is being attacked by the right-wingers. But do read the transcript and note that Benjamin says that people are being pulled out of events held by Democrats as well as Republicans.

Bob Herbert, liberated from the paywall at last, on the California GOP initiative to give all elections to Republicans.

Are Republicans the only people Shailagh Murray knows?

Harry Reid is all talk.

Even the CIA is afraid to walk around in Iraq. Now that's progress.

Don't you feel sorry for those poor Catholic folks who have to force women to carry pregnancies after being raped?

Oh, yes, the right-wing bloggers really can argue that price-fixing is not anti-competitive.

Shhh! Nothing happened between Israel and Syria.

The Village Remembers: "I just want to try to explain a little about what can drive soldiers."

It looks like the Democrats are going to do another terrible thing - let telecoms off the hook for breaking the law.

02:07 BST

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Things people say

Trust Lieberman to use every trick he can come up with to set up an attack on Iran. I honestly don't understand why anyone who isn't a Left-Behindist would want to encourage all this craziness unless they are absolutely certain they will be very safe somewhere very far away collecting money from arms sales.

Drew Westen, Outflanked in Iraq: "Voters are getting the message: Democrats are weak in the face of aggression, and can barely block the blows from a minority in Congress and from a bully sitting at 29 percent in the polls." Robert Borosage says that the 22 Dems and the Republican "moderates" who signed on to slander are sunshine patriots and Craven Fools. An Governor Bill Richardson says, "Ads Don't Kill People, Wars Do."

Many people were touched by the video of San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders explaining why, although he had campaigned against it, he would not veto the City Council's resolution supporting gay marriage. But I think Steve Benen may be wrong when he sees a pattern of Republicans suddenly supporting socially progressive positions when the issue hits home. We've seen plenty of examples in the past of Republicans who did not. Alan Keyes practically disowned his own lesbian daughter, and many of the women in the forced-pregnancy contingent get abortions themselves, or take their daughters to get them, without for a minute changing their view that other people who get abortions are just bad people who should not have that right.

Bill O'Reilly learns that black people are just like real people!

23:59 BST

You don't want these guys in your streets

Understand that a right-wing religious fanatic has, with your tax money, created a private army that has learned to see everyone but themselves as The Enemy and is not only shooting up Iraqi civilians at will but helping to arm terrorists. There are at least as many of them in Iraq as there are troops. Their allegiance is not to the United States, let alone to the US Constitution (as it is for the troops), but to the people who pay them.

Down With Tyranny!: "My friends in Iraq-- some military, some civilian-- all agree on the brutality of the Blackwater mercenaries. "They use Iraqis for target practice," one friend told me. "The Iraqis all fear them and hate them." Most people who know of former CIA field officer Robert Baer know him for the film Syriana (which was based on his books Sleeping With the Devil and See No Evil and starred George Clooney playing him). This week he also has an article in Time, Why Blackwater-- and More-- Should Leave Iraq."

There's not a prayer that the Iraqis have any power to oust these mercenaries from their country. Bush wants and needs them there, and there they will stay.

Lindsay Beyerstein met some Blackwater guys in NOLA. They scared the hell out of her. It scares the hell out of me that this administration even thinks it might be acceptable to put mercenaries in an American city where they see our citizens as The Enemy.

18:31 BST

Ask 'em

Bill Scher's Weekend Watchdog provides suggested questions for those who will appear on the Sunday talkshows every week, and this week Hillary Clinton is scheduled to be on all of them. Here's Bill's question for her:

According to a NPR report from Ted Koppel, you told a former Pentagon official that you "expect U.S. troops to be in Iraq at the end of [your] second term."

Is that an accurate report, and is that the goal of your Iraq policy?

You can find the contact details for the networks and shows here if you'd like to push them to ask this question. Bill has other questions for Newt Gingrich and Alan Greenspan. And, of course, you can make your own suggestions.

17:00 BST

Afternoon trawl

Steve Soto has a very good post on how Harry Reid keeps botching opportunities to out-flank the Republicans and Bush and instead plays right into their hands. In fact, I think it would be a great idea if everyone printed it out and faxed it to Harry Reid on 202-224-7327.

Greg Sargent says Dan Rather's lawsuit exposes the partisanship of CBS - on behalf of the Bush administration, of course.

Reid and Schumer disrespect the black vote - They don't care about voter suppression, and, as Booman Tribune reports, are prepared to reconfirm one of the worst vote-suppressers in the GOP. This guy is completely unfit and should be shot down.

Left Behind, in which the Antichrist meets a flight attendant.

These are neat, but I can't tell what the frogs were. (via) Also: This is a much better idea than just having rubber art on your chest, but I wouldn't want to have to do it.

Too fat. Note: A UK size 12 is a US size 10. Except in really expensive specialist shops, where a "size 10" might actually fit a 16. (via)

Sam Seder and Marc Maron spent an experimental hour talking to each other on Sammycam-only the other day, which is now posted on the widget. (70918). It's about an hour, includes discussions of the Mukasey nomination, Blackwater, and news from Maron that his wife left him, and now he's learned that Americans aren't stupid, just busy, and we're all being squeezed. Uncensored.

15:05 BST

Tuna for breakfast

Pierce: "Congratulations to the GOP for being able to muster up six whole U.S. senators to vote in favor of Magna Carta this week. There's your campaign slogan -- The Republican Party -- Proudly Plantagenet Since 1215."

I suppose this might not be work-safe, but I'm beginning to wonder if it might not work just as well as anything else we're doing.

I see at Alternate Brain that got a flood of letters from troops and their family members expressing their support for the organization. AB has a few excerpts from the letters in this post. also received five hundred grand in donations in the wake of the attack on them by Bush and the Senate.

Scott Lemieux: "As a colleague at my other blog points out, though, the Democrat who mosts deserves criticism here is Harry Reid for letting this get on the calendar in the first place. One thing about controlling houses of Congress is that it's supposed to allow you to avoid forcing your members to choose between alienating a political ally and contributing to the Republican strategy of using the troops as a human shield to defend their catastrophically failed war in the first place." (And Kate Sheppard has in interesting point on why Obama has to restrain his language when he talks about the Jena 6.)

This conversation about Blackwater (excerpted from a segment of Democracy Now!) is particularly interesting as an example of the right-wing's abuse of language, where Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, debates Doug Brooks on what the term "mercenary" means. Brooks, despite the fact that he cannot distinguish Blackwater from a mercenary group in any way, keeps insisting that they are not mercenaries. Who is Brooks? He's "the president of International Peace Operations Association, a trade group for the private security industry of which Blackwater is a founding member." I love the way they deform the word "peace" by making it a part of their name.

Dood Abides at Unconfirmed Sources responds - Congress Condemned With Second New York Times AD. Via a linky post from Elayne Riggs.

Why net neutrality is important in one simple picture, (via).

AARP Divided We Fail - "In America" (via)

12:37 BST

Open windows

Remember that Buffy episode where all those people are saying, "I'm nobody"? Well, that's for real, right in the United States of America, where conservative policies have brought slavery back.

Obama skipped the AARP forum - he was elsewhere: "Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Thursday told a cheering Atlanta crowd that he walked away from a U.S. Senate vote to condemn the newspaper ad that attacked Gen. David Petraeus, declaring the debate was an unnecessary waste of time." Maybe they all should have walked out. ( has no regrets.) But didn't Obama just chicken out?

More dishonest "compassion" for kids who need healthcare.

So, the French didn't want to sign on with Gog and Magog.

Alex of Army of Dude is back in The World, safe. "Man, that was a long twelve months."

Hillary Clinton: I'm not a lesbian.

Maha has a post rounding up links on the Jena 6.Dispassionate Liberal: "We were played, the Wingnuts were wrong and Bush was outrageous. The Dems who voted to condemn MoveOn were stupid if not cowardly and the GOP used the whole thing as a wedge to split progressives."

Dan Rather sues CBS for scapegoating him.

02:44 BST

Friday, 21 September 2007

In lieu of a flood of intemperate invective

So, Ben Cardin's office admitted they'd been getting a lot of calls complaining about the vote, and agreed when I said we deserve an explanation for it. Mikulski's office didn't give me anything at all in that regard (man they are close-mouthed - at least they didn't hang up on me, I guess, which is what apparently happened to a lot of people who called her last time she voted like an idiot). Both said they would be posting something on their websites - in fact, both said, "We're working on it," when I said they should do that. Keep watching.

Keith Olbermann: "But Mr. Bush, you have hidden behind the General's skirts, and today you have hidden behind the skirts of 'the planted last question' at a news conference, to indicate once again that your presidency has been about the tilted playing field, about no rules for your party in terms of character assassination and changing the fabric of our nation, and no right for your opponents or critics to as much as respond. That, sir, is not only un-American - it is dictatorial."

Jane Hamsher has a good post on this (of course) in which she quotes Congressman Pete Stark as saying, "I commend MoveOn for their ad and for speaking truth to power. Up is not down, the earth is not flat, and the surge is not working. General Petreaus betrayed his own reputation by standing with George Bush in opposition to the timely withdrawal of all of our brave men and women from Iraq. I thank MoveOn for their patriotic ad and call on Petreaus to help Bush end a war the President should have never started." Scarecrow explains that the Dems fell for yet another set-up, and Christy talks about something the Dems should have been expressing outrage about, just like the other 10,000 or so people who went to Jena to protest some Jim Crow-style racism that has a minor still incarcerated despite the fact that his sentence was vacated on appeal.

Note to Matt Yglesias: No, calling him "Betray Us" was not dumb. If they'd omitted it, they'd still have been attacked. What was dumb was the Democrats jumping on the GOP bandwagon to show they hate their constituents more than they hate seeing our country destroyed. They should be pointing out that Bush demands money from them and it disappears into the maw of KBR and Blackwater before it ever gets to the troops, and no one should give him any more money to get our kids killed.

Duncan Black - like a lot of us, I guess - is mostly amazed to realize just how childish our Senators are.

Clinton voted against the measure, and Obama was absent from the vote, but:

Once Republicans started circulating an amendment that would blast MoveOn for "impugning the honor and integrity of General Petreaus and all the members of the U.S. Armed Forces," Democrats wrote their own version that criticized the MoveOn ad but also denounced Republicans for attacking the military record of Kerry in 2004 through the Swift boat ads.

Between the two measures, nearly every member of the Senate had repudiated MoveOn, including Democratic presidential contender Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Obama, who both voted for the Democratic version that did not include MoveOn's name but said there had been an "unwarranted personal attack" on Petraeus.

What an unmitigated bunch of crap.

Here's a timely postcard.

17:30 BST

Spitting nails

I gotta tell ya, I was pretty much speechless when I came home last night and discovered that 22 Democrats who didn't have time to fight long and hard for our Constitutional rights, or to impose strong oversight and timelines on funding bills (or simply refuse to pass them), or even for our troops in the field to get reasonable breaks, were nevertheless willing to sign on to the GOP resolution to condemn for telling the truth about David Petreaus. I actually couldn't get to sleep because I was absolutely seething.

Thought Theater has it right:

Take whatever side you choose on the advisability of the advertisement, but the fact that the Democratic Party allowed such a measure to pass is perhaps the single most stupid act of political suicide I've witnessed in years. To think that an act of free speech rises to the level of requiring such a resolution is mind boggling.
Both of my Senators - my "liberal" Senators from my largely liberal state - joined the Republican smear machine to alienate Democratic voters. So did at least three freshmen who had the support of the "netroots" in the 2006 election. And so did Patrick Leahy. Patrick Leahy.

It's still too early for me to call, but when I do I plan to say something like:

How dare you?

Have you ever seen the Senate condemn Saxby Chambliss for morphing his Democratic opponent with Osama bin Laden?

Have you ever seen the Senate condemn Ann Coulter for calling for the assassination of a Supreme Court justice?

Have you ever seen the Senate condemn Fred Phelps?

And what about the attacks on General Wesley Clark, or the treatment of General Shinseki? Did they condemn that? Did they even manage to muster up a little outrage over the full-scale attack on anyone who'd ever been awarded a Purple Heart during the 2004 campaign?


But the Republicans call on you to condemn a mainstream organization that tells the truth about Petreaus disgracing the uniform to act as Bush's personal political shill and you fall right in line. How dare you?

I think I can speak for every Maryland voter when I say we did not vote for you to go to Washington just to condemn your own supporters.

We sent you there to hold this administration accountable, to restore the Constitution, and to end the occupation.

When are you going to start doing that?

You know what I want to see people talking about? I want to see people asking whether these Democrats are compromised. I want open discussion of the fact that the Democrats have been voting in ways that are indefensible and that maybe this has something to do with Bush's little program to spy on American citizens. It's not as if there's any reason to think this administration is above doing things we know the Nixon administration did, after all. Maybe what I ought to be asking Mikulski and Cardin is, "What do they have on you?"

Because actually voting in the Senate to condemn Democrats' supporters for supporting the truth is otherwise completely inexplicable. Really. You just don't do that.

11:50 BST

Various things

Californians are waiting for the governor's signature on a bill to require recording of interrogations of criminal suspects, and Dave Johnson has a guest post by Jim Trainum, a detective with the DC Met, on his experiences:

Years later, during a review of the videotapes, we discovered our mistake. We had fallen into a classic trap. We believed so much in our suspect's guilt that we ignored all evidence to the contrary. To demonstrate the strength of our case, we showed the suspect our evidence, and unintentionally fed her details that she was able to parrot back to us at a later time. Contrary to our operating procedures at the time, my colleagues and I chose to videotape the interrogation. This is what saved me from making a horrible mistake in the long run. It was a classic false confession case and without the video we would never have known.


Recording of interrogations from start to finish as directed by California's SB 511 is the right thing to do. Failure to use cheap and available technology to build strong cases against the guilty and to protect the innocent is wrong. Recording interrogations needs to be mandatory, with rules and sanctions. If sanctions are not in place then public confidence is undermined by the few unscrupulous among us. When videotaping was first forced upon us by the D.C. City Council, we fought it tooth and nail. Now, in the words of a top commander, we would not do it any other way.

43 Senators hate the Constitution and hate the troops. (And the NYT gets the latter wrong.)

22 Democrats stab Democrats in the back. - and some of the names on that list will make you sick.

Mary at Pacific Views has a look at Charlie Savage's book, The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy, which began when he noticed that Bush wrote a signing statement on the Torture bill that said that he intended to ignore the law. He found that Dick Cheney was embarked on a breathtaking power-grab.

Abizaid remembers that someone else had nuclear power.

People are being disappeared - in New Orleans. And here's something even better than tasers!

Jon Swift encourages FOX to censor more than just Sally Field.

Slash fiction comes to life - Giles/Captain Jack. (via)

03:18 BST

Thursday, 20 September 2007

High prices

From Dwight D. Eisenhower's The Chance for Peace speech:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement.

We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. These plain and cruel truths define the peril and point the hope that come with this spring of 1953.

This is one of those times in the affairs of nations when the gravest choices must be made, if there is to be a turning toward a just and lasting peace.

It is a moment that calls upon the governments of the world to speak their intentions with simplicity and with honesty.

It calls upon them to answer the question that stirs the hearts of all sane men: is there no other way the world may live?

- April 16, 1953, Washington, D.C.

Those are the words of a Republican president.

23:46 BST

Our story continues...

At The Raw Story, "Republicans pushed 'bogus' terror threat to expand FISA, lawmaker says: Republicans and the Bush administration used a 'bogus' terror threat that raised specific fears of an attack on the Capitol to scare lawmakers into adopting a dramatic temporary expansion of the government's spy powers last month, a former top intelligence committee Democrat said Wednesday." A lot of people speculated that this is what happened at the time, but it's stunning that the Democrats actually fell for it. I know some of them are compromised, but it seems that an awfully lot of them really are just that stupid.

The State Department has apparently decided that the only investigation they need of Blackwater's crimes is to take Blackwater's word for it that they were attacked before firing at a car containing a couple and their child and then randomly at bystanders. (Also: It's only a dirty word when Sally Field says it - but not when O'Reillyl et al use it.)

John Nichols, "A Constitution to 'Chain the Dogs of War': Two-hundred and twenty years ago this week, the patriots who had stuck through the long process of drafting a Constitution for the new United States finally approved the document. The primary purpose of their creation was, in the language of their time, to "chain the dogs of war." [...] Yet, as we mark the 220th anniversary of the Constitution, more than 160,000 young Americans are mired in the quagmire of an undeclared war in Iraq. More than 3,700 of them have died already, and the toll expands on a daily basis - as does the rate at which innocent Iraqis are killed, maimed and rendered homeless. More than $200 million is extracted from the federal treasury each day to pay for this war, despite the fact that it is, by any Constitutional standard, entirely illegitimate."

16:59 BST

People are talking

Tom Hayden notes that a new report was released that hardly anyone (except Maxine Waters and Barbara Lee) is paying attention to that shows how damaging Petreaus' policies have been: "In comparison with past public outcries about "tiger cages" and Operation Phoenix in Vietnam, death squads in El Salvador and Honduras, or ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, there is little or no attention today to the issues raised in the new report. All the major Democratic presidential candidates support maintaining thousands of American trainers embedded with what the report calls "dysfunctional and sectarian" forces. In short, whether intentional or not, all the major proposals on Iraq are based on a lower-visibility, lower-casualty dirty war reminiscent of Algeria, Central America, South Vietnam and, today, Afghanistan."

Lambert is reading Shock Doctrine. (You might also want to check out the Guardian series on the book, which includes four extracts and some blogging by Naomi Klein and commenters.) Also, Krugman blogs, wingers attack.

So Drake tried to do some damage control and re-hire Chemerinsky, but now the trustees are saying Drake can't stay after causing such a debacle. (Thanks to Hebe for the tip.)

Scott Lemieux on how the forced-pregnancy people are trying to zone and legislate de facto abortion bans.

Hillary Clinton, poster child for what's wrong with the lobbyist culture.

If Glenn Greenwald's fears about Democrats caving to further FISA erosions are true... Hell, I can't even finish that sentence. Really, it's time for an all-out campaign to get Dems to stop giving the Constitution away and start putting it back together.

Rachel Maddow has a straight blog post at her show blog, "Three Things You Should Shut Up About: The Lazy Politician's Guide to Winning the Gratitude of Your Nation Forever." And she's quite right - Democrats really need to stop talking crap about how (1) the Iraqi government bites, (2) they can't end the war without "hurting the troops", and (3) we just need to stay there but do different stuff. (And let me recommend that you give a listen to her interview with John Nichols from last night's show, discussing the fact that the Dems really do have to have a real fight over ending the war, or they end up owning the war and piss off the electorate permanently.) She also has this photo of the Giulianis and Browns in matching outfits. And here she is talking about tasers on MSNBC. (Rachel pointed out on her show that if you google "tasers" in the news pages and go past the last few days with the Meyer story, you find a lot of stories on abuse of tasers, including their use on immigration detainees and in causing death. Tasers were introduced as an alternative to lethal force, but that's not how they're being used - they've just expanded the number of cases in which the police feel free to harm people.)

(Crikey, did I actually forget Talk Like a Pirate Day yesterday? Oh, dear.)

14:35 BST

'Til we drop

Exploring The Job Market in an American Utopia, Chuck Dupree finds the answer:

Today, goods come from overseas, and we make our livings on computers or with service and retail jobs. Thus, everyone suffers quickly if there's a serious slowdown, and it'd be far worse if we weren't spending more on "defense" than the rest of the world combined.

There's only one solution as far as I can see. The corporations are making record profits, computers are taking over more complex tasks every day, goods come from overseas, and they're not buying themselves.

The corporations should pay us to shop.

11:17 BST

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Imperfect martyrs

It's funny how the wingers are more interested in talking about Meyers than they are in talking about the other assault by police that happened recently - on Reverend Lennox Yearwood as he waited in line to be admitted to the Petreaus hearings. Here is video of Yearwood being stopped by the police, asserting his right to be admitted after waiting all morning in line with everyone else.

According to witnesses, six capitol police, without warning, "football tackled" him. He was carried off in a wheel chair by DC Fire and Emergency to George Washington Hospital.

Rev. Yearwood said as he was being released from the hospital to be taken to central booking, "The officers decided I was not going to get in Gen. Petreaus' hearing when they saw my button, which says 'I LOVE THE PEOPLE OF IRAQ.'"

Capitol Police are not saying what the charges are, but an inside source has said that the charge is assaulting a police officer. Rev. Yearwood is scheduled to be transferred to Central Processing to be arraigned tomorrow morning.

Yearwood's ankle was broken. It's clear from the video that at no time did he do anything remotely like "assault" anyone.

[Update: In comments, Charles says, "On film posted at Raw Story, the cops tell Meyers-- after they have tackled and Tasered him-- that he is under arrest for inciting a riot. The only riot I saw was a police riot."]


Students at UF demonstrated to demand justice. Two of the cops who were involved in the tasing incident "were placed on leave with pay after using an electronic stun gun to subdue a student who was questioning Sen. John Kerry at a campus forum, the school's president said Tuesday." (via)

23:38 BST

Places to go

I haven't said anything about this, yet, but I've been watching with interest to see what comes of Maliki's threat to throw Blackwater out of Iraq, has the potential to become perhaps the most important turning-point in the occupation. He's certainly found a popular issue to rally Iraqis behind, and it just might work for him. (Also: Warner wavers, Webb presses on: "How shocking. The Republicans have been saying for months that they would consider a compromise after the Petreaus report and now they're backing down. As the saying goes these days, no one could have predicted the White House would spend the summer concocting some cockamamie success story and offer up a handful of troops that were going to be rotated out anyway, in order to buy another Friedman unit or two and give the GOP cover to run out on their promises. And who could have anticipated Warner would sell out on Jim Webb's amendment, the only piece of legislation currently on the table that has a prayer of providing some immediate relief for the troops on the ground?" You've called your reps about supporting the Webb amendment, right? And habeas, of course? Now's the time, peeps.)

Ezra Klein has more on what's right and what's wrong about the new Clinton healthcare plan. Also, another flaw in the limit-by-cost healthcare model.

TNH on why some people lie in the name of God.

Dan Rather's "Did Texas Execute Innocent Men?" can be viewed online. (via)

Happy sixth blogiversary to The Talking Dog, who has another interview with a civil libertarian, London historian Andy Worthington, author of The Guantanamo Files: the Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison.


17:02 BST

Missing links

I hadn't realized that those clips I saw had cut out the name of the book Andrew Meyer was waving around and recommending (and which Kerry said he'd already read!) - it was Palast's Armed Madhouse. (I'm afraid this is rather a poor response from Kerry's online comms director, alas. However, he does say that Kerry could not see from where he was what was going on. And here's a cop who says the cops were out of line.) I'm not really interested in people trying to explain that Meyer was even more of a jerk than is shown on the video; being a jerk is not illegal. You usually have to be a bit obnoxious to get important issues raised that The Powers That Be don't want spotlighted; excusing the cops in this in any way is justification for shutting up those rare people who manage to get some attention. Which master do you want to serve?

Glenn Greenwald has a good post on how wrong the media has been about Petreaus and the MoveOn ad and their impact on the public. Americans aren't as stupid as they'd like us to believe; years of this bull has finally inoculated them against a lot of the spin.

Looseheadprop says it's probably true that Mukasey is the best we can hope for as AG, but also says there's unfinished business to be cleared off the decks before this nomination is considered. After all, "Look, Mukasey brings an excellent resume to his confirmation hearings. So did Elliot Richardson. Yet the Senate Judiciary Committee extracted the exact terms, in writing IIRC, of the appointment of an Independent Counsel to investigate Watergate before they would send his nomination to the floor." So taking care of subpoena compliance is a piece of cake by comparison, right? Looseheadprop also has some inspiring words of advice from Jim Comey. (And that post also links to my earlier remarks about Mukasey, in which I discovered more typos in a single paragraph than I usually manage in an entire (8½ x 11) page.)

Someone at Cerebral Itch sent me a nice e-mail which I seem to have accidentally deleted, so if you could re-send, that'd be neat.

11:47 BST

On the internets

I just watched No End in Sight from MagnoliaPictures. As can be expected from a project that involved Nir Rosen, it goes into depth and detail about what happened with the "reconstruction", interviewing members of the original team of professionals (and even some of the political hacks) who were supposed to rebuild the country after we smashed into it. Much of it is what you already know, but many of the details are chilling, and perhaps most of all the fact that we had all the experience, expertise, and professionalism available that we could possibly have wanted - and the administration was so contemptuous of them that they never seemed to consider the possibility that those people might just have known what they were talking about. Many members of the administration are clever when it comes to manipulating the public at home, but they really were too stupid to realize that even this only works in a country where people are used to being able to rely on their government and simply can't believe they are being lied to and robbed blind. In Iraq, the people were at first willing to give us the benefit of the doubt, but a series of extraordinarily stupid decisions at the top put paid to that. And the bizarre thing is that they really didn't seem to realize their plans wouldn't work. It's breathtaking.

Interestingly, more people watched the Democratic response to Bush's speech on Fox and CNN than watched the speech itself. Not so on MSNBC, however.

Ah, I see it's time for another show of trying to give DC the vote. Back in the olden days, you could just expect the ordinary racists (who, in the really olden days, were Southern Democrats) to prevent the Chocolate City from gaining representation, but these days it's, um, the ordinary racists (who are these days Republicans) and the GOP partisans manning the barricades against giving the funny-colored folks a say in the course of the nation. (Also: Pictures From Albuquerque.)

"Amnesty faces ban in Northern Ireland's Catholic schools: The Catholic church in Northern Ireland has started to instruct schools to disband Amnesty International support groups because of the human rights organisation's pro-abortion stance."

Quick: How many category 4 or better hurricanes have there been this year?

Have you talked to your Senator about habeas corpus?

NYT Select dies tonight, and Madison Guy says, "This is funny stuff. In its explanation, the Times uses euphemisms like 'links on other sites,' 'indirect readers' and 'some others' to avoid using the dread word 'blog.'"

Thanks for the antique bra, Lambert.

01:20 BST

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Sneaky feelings

By now every blogger must recognize Teresa Nielsen Hayden's lament:

I deeply resent the way this administration makes me feel like a nutbar conspiracy theorist.
And, at this late date, having seen something like 90% (or more?) of the things we speculated about, often our worst nightmares, turn out to be true, it's hard not to speculate about the other 10%. That's where LowerManhattenite is going with this: "This administration and its enablers have so fouled the air of objectivity with their chicanery, that we find ourselves in dark territory indeed, even considering these things. Thanks for that, GOP. We'll never forget this. Really."

Also at the Group News Blog, Jesse Wendel found an article that explains some of the problems about Ohio's vote-tracking system that allows a record (a public record, no less) of how everyone voted.

Neocon Kid Nation - with guns: "In the end it turned out there was a plan for Iraq. The plan was to turn the Dubya Youth -- politically pure children of privilege -- loose on it with a copy on Atlas Shrugged in one hand, and a blank check drawn on your money on the other so they could use it as a test bed for every crackpot theory ever harked up by the furthest fringes of the fascist Right." (Thanks to D. Potter for those three tips.)

"Bowing Before an American Tyranny" by Robert Parry at Consortium News: "The 9/11 tragedy did become a demarcation point for the United States, although not in the way many Americans understand. Before that date six years ago, there existed an American Republic - albeit one in decline - but afterwards a New Age authoritarian state quickly took shape."

"Alan Greenspan Blandly Announces He's A Slavering Monster" from Jonathan Schwarz at A Tiny Revolution: "Greenspan might as well have walked into his interview with Woodward covered in blood, carrying a wet, dripping sack from which he occasionally removed the viscera of Iraqi children to munch on. Yet Greenspan has no awareness there's anything objectionable about this, nor does Woodward, nor does anyone they ever meet at their exciting Washington cocktail parties." (More here.)

20:47 BST

Ask questions

Here's complete, clear video of Andrew Meyer asking his questions and getting arrested. (Or here.) And here is a Kos diary from an alumna of UF who knew Meyer (not, I gather, an admirer), and has some thoughts on the event.

Unquestionably, Meyer was being slightly obnoxious, but anyone who has ever run a big meeting like that has seen considerably worse and managed to defuse the situation without violence. I've done it without even cutting the speaker's mike. Since the mike had been cut in this case, he was bound to wind down momentarily, and there was no need for the police to intervene in any way. Kerry was trying to answer the question and asking the police to let him do so, and they should have stayed away.

The real problem here was that the police imagined they had any reason to approach Meyer at all. They did not.

I noted in the comments to the video that some people were saying it was okay for the cops to taser Meyer because he was doing something wrong when he resisted arrest. It's frightening that there are so many people who seem to think it's okay for cops to start arresting people without any real provocation and then defend the cops for becoming violent when people quite naturally recoil from being physically assaulted.

Yes, what the police did there was an unprovoked assault on a private citizen.

You advise people not to resist arrest - not because it's illegal to resist arrest, and not because you have no right to resist arrest, but because cops are increasingly out of control and resisting endangers you.

The police have no right to arrest people who are not breaking the law. When they get out of line, it's terrifying, because from that moment on you have no way of knowing where - or if - they will draw the line. If Meyer seems a bit paranoid and over-the-top in that video, it's worth remembering that some people - in America - have been killed for less. While it is unlikely that Meyer was facing such a threat, the fact that the cops were already physically brutalizing him without cause should still give you pause. It's annoying, but not yet illegal, to be obnoxious.

He was, after all, just asking a few questions.

(Thanks to Anna Granfors for the tip.)

16:12 BST

Making it stop

Huh, I guess my idea* of giving Pelosi and my reps little toy soldiers every time one of our troops dies was rather an obvious idea. I wouldn't bother with Bush, who would probably never receive them and wouldn't care anyway if he did, but it's a message I want hammered into our reps to remind them daily that every single day they delay stopping this war is more blood on their hands. But perhaps coordinating in some way with Toys for George isn't a bad idea.

It's the Democrats we still need to convince, though. Yes, maybe some Republicans will fall into line when they finally see which way the wind is going, but it's up to the Dems to stop the charade. It doesn't take 67 votes to stop a war-funding bill from reaching the floor, it takes a small handful - and, in truth, it takes two: Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. It doesn't take 67 votes to stop passage of a war-funding bill (or a Constitution-busting FISA bill) that has reached the floor from passing - it takes only 40 votes to filibuster such a bill to death. When Clinton, Biden, Obama and others whine about their weak majority, we should tell them we know they are strong enough to stop the Bush machine if they want to.

We have to make them want to.

NTodd also liked my idea, and has added it to his arsenal. It sounds like we should all be paying attention to Otpor's experience in having first failed and then finally succeeded in bringing about the downfall of their dictator:

On April 1, 2001 - April Fool's day - Milosevic was arrested. He was extradited to The Hague for trial by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. His trial began February 12, 2002.

11:49 BST

Views and news

Keith Olbermann was scheduled to appear on Countdown as usual Friday, but he was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy instead. He is now recovering and there's also a nice photo of him without his Clark Kent glasses at Crooks and Liars.

Demosthenes has taken a look at Matt Bai's book, and is giving him the benefit of the doubt. There do appear to be some interesting revelations in the book, including the fact that a lot of the Rich Democrats really are clueless rather than conniving, but are the criticisms of Kos and Jerome correct? I don't know, I've always had a certain amount of discomfort with the way Kos doesn't so much drive the agenda from the top as suppress questions he doesn't happen to like. Obviously, his allergy to one of my greatest hobbyhorses - fixed elections - has a lot to do with that feeling, but I don't have the personal feelings about it that many former dedicated Kossacks have. I also think Bai treats Daily Kos and MyDD as if they were the whole blogosphere, not even just the top tier. Because the top tier includes people like Duncan Black and Ezra Klein, who obviously have a broader vision of liberalism than Bai seems willing to give us credit for. (The Sideshow, of course, believes in what Thom Hartmann calls The Commons, and our obligation to protect it - and the right of even the least of us to partake of it.)

Student tasered for asking Kerry a question "inappropriately": "Toward the conclusion of Kerry's UF forum, Meyer approached an open microphone at the University Auditorium and demanded Kerry answer his questions. The student claimed that University Police Department officers had already threatened to arrest him, and then proceeded to question Kerry about why he didn't contest the 2004 presidential election and why there had been no moves to impeach President Bush. A minute or so into what became a combative diatribe, Meyer's microphone was turned off and officers began trying to physically remove him from the auditorium. Meyer flailed his arms, yelling as police tried to restrain him. He was then pushed to the ground by six officers, at which point Meyer yelled, "What have I done? What I have I done? Get away from me. Get off of me! What did I do? ... Help me! Help.""

Via Atrios, Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) has changed his mind about cutting off funding for Iraq, because the troops are telling him that's what they want Congress to do.

If I understand John Cole correctly, he's explaining that the right-wing bloggers think it's all the NYT's fault that right-wing bloggers were all wrong in their latest attack on the NYT. (There are some good comments in the ensuing thread, too.)

NYT Select dead at midnight Tuesday - Krugman is free! (Rupert Murdoch is making noises about freeing The Wall Street Journal's news pages. That's the good part of the WSJ, unlike the cracked editorial pages. How much Murdoch will hurt the quality of the news pages is as yet unknown.)

What would you say to Al Gore?

02:30 BST

Monday, 17 September 2007


Mark Kleiman has the plan:

Take, for example, the Webb Amendment, forbidding troops from being required to serve tours in Iraq longer than the spells between tours. If passed, it would force a troop drawdown by spring.

The Democrats should offer the Webb Amendment when the Defense Appropriation comes up. If the Republicans want to filibuster, fine. Don't pull the amendment. Just let them keep filibustering. As long as the amendment is on the floor, there can be no vote on the bill itself. Keep calling cloture votes, one per day. After a few days, start asking how long the Republicans intend to withhold money to fund troops in the field in order to pursue their petty partisan agenda.

And let them defend their refusal to give the troops a reasonable time to recover between deployments. Via GOTV.

Ezra has a quick look at Hillary's healthcare plan and says it is "more ambitious than her 1994 effort in some ways, less in others."

Is it just Mark, or is the Shiah gonna hit the fan?

Frère Tariq: a case study in political paranoia

If a society's communication system is broken, what does that mean?

Censoring Sally Field's Grammy acceptance speech at Fox. Al Gore's Emmy acceptance speech for Current.TV. (And this one with Centcom Chief Fallon's opinion of Petreaus is a few days old, but people had a lot of fun with it, so perhaps I should make sure none of y'all missed it.)

Burrowing billionaires of Britain, Via Bill Gibson.

23:49 BST

Flip-flopping on academic freedom

Scott Horton had a good post the other day detailing the bizarre un-hiring of Erwin Chemerinsky as dean of UC Irvine's new law school. He cites AP for a quick bit of background:

A conservative Los Angeles County politician asked about two dozen people in an e-mail last month how to prevent the University of California, Irvine from hiring renowned liberal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky as its founding law school dean, a spokesman for the politician said Friday. Making Chemerinsky the head of the law school "would be like appointing al-Qaida in charge of homeland security," Michael Antonovich, a longtime Republican member of the county Board of Supervisors, said in a voicemail left with The Associated Press.
Since Chemerinsky had already been hired by the time pressure came down on UC Irvine's chancellor to get rid of him, the dismissal of such a high-quality hire became an enormous scandal in the academic community. Chemerinsky is a genuine centrist in the sense that his views are pretty mainstream, but the chancellor was frightened off by wingers.

However, he also seems to respond to pressure from the other side, and via Atrios I see that the LAT is reporting that "Chemerinsky is back as UC Irvine dean."

20:48 BST

Loose talk

It occurred to me while reading NTodd's latest post that if I actually lived in DC, something I might do is buy a whole bunch of little plastic toy soldiers (buy them in serious bulk, the way things are going), and check the tally every day for the number of troops killed that day, and in the morning deliver that number of plastic soldiers to Nancy Pelosi's office, all tied together with a piece of string with a tag attached saying, "X killed yesterday in Iraq. End the occupation. We know you can do it if you want to." Then the same for my reps.

So, how about Michael Mukasey for Attorney General of the United States? Glenn Greenwald says there's good news and bad news about Mukasey, who was the judge who said Jose Padilla was entitled to contest the government's claims and had a right to counsel, but also said it was okay to detain American citizens captured on American soil and to label them "enemy combatants" without charging them with any crime. Looseheadprop at Firedoglake discussed this and other potential choices in some depth, and Scarecrow, also at FDL, followed up in a larger post that rounds-up other major news of the last few days. Scott Horton, posting at Balkinization, says he has known Mukasey for many years and doesn't agree with him on much - Horton is a civil libertarian, and Mukasey pretty much is not - but does think he's highly qualified and figures he's probably the best we can hope for from Bush. Jeralyn Merritt thinks he will uphold the law. Lambert says there is "The one question Leahy MUST ask each and every Bush nominee for AG.

Bill Maher asked Chuck Hagel if it wasn't "a dirty trick on the American people when you send a military man out there to basically do a political sell-job," and Hagel said it was "dishonest, it's hypocritical, it's dangerous and irresponsible."

"Apocalypse Not" - Nick Beaudrot says, "Very Serious People take it as a given that we cannot withdraw from Iraq because of some combination of genocide and foreign or terrorist presence. This question deserves deeper analysis. The situation is already very bad in Iraq right now; it's not clear just how much worse it could get without militias acquiring heavy artillery. And that's something that's simply unlikely to happen under any circumstances."

I see no reason why Alan Keyes wouldn't be an excellent Republican presidential nominee.

18:53 BST

Media notes

Eric Boehlert, "Lapdogs to the end?: It's amazing that this deep into the Bush presidency, reporters and pundits still express genuine surprise and naïve disappointment when the White House slights them in purposeful ways. Just last week we saw fresh evidence of the Charlie Brown-Lucy-football routine, with wounded reporters complaining that the White House had, yet again, snubbed the press."

Jamison Foser "Manufacturing consent, stifling dissent: Having all but ignored these anti-war voices during the debate over whether to go to war in Iraq, Russert now pretends they didn't exist, blaming the supposed lack of an 'opposition party' for the media's failure to challenge the Bush administration."

Dean Baker debunks Greenspanspeak and the Bush Tax Cut, and those who are Blaming Jane Fonda for the Demise of Nuclear Power in the United States: "It is too bad that the authors of Freakonmics ignored this aspect of the history of Three Mile Island. Maybe the NYT should give Jane Fonda a column to get some more serious economic analysis into the paper."

Sam Seder says: "Monday I will be subbing for Thom Hartmann[*] and Tuesday I will be riding shotgun with Cenk for the day on the YoungTurks.[*]" (Meanwhile, I'm sure this must be blasphemy. Against masturbation, I mean.)

14:28 BST

More than rumors

Jonathan Schwarz is working on a follow-up to his article, "No Congress, No Peace" from the May/June issue of Mother Jones ("If the United States spreads its Middle Eastern disaster into Iran, it won't be the fault of George W. Bush alone - a Democratic Congress will share some of the blame. Fortunately, the legislative branch has effective options for stopping war before it starts"), and he asked me if I've seen any signs of any kind of organized effort to stop an attack on Iran.

And no, I haven't.

We all know it's going on, we all know BushCheney are getting their ducks in a row and that they've already been trying to gin it up with the same kind of rhetoric they used before the invasion of Iraq, all the while dismissing any suggestions that this is what they're doing. We all saw the administration's surrogate Joe Lieberman practically begging Petreaus for an excuse to attack Iran. We all know the scare-mongering is wall-to-wall on Fox. We know what it means.

But everyone is already acting like it's a done deal, and despite the fact that the ramifications of an attack on Iran are horrific, there just doesn't seem to be much in the way of open resistance to the idea.

I don't know what else to tell you except that you should make those calls, send those cards, write those letters, tell them that we have to stop this madness.

But tell me: Will anything short of impeachment put a halt to this?

12:00 BST

Sunday, 16 September 2007


Oliver Willis notes that the right-wingers are responding to the ad by implying that if they'd been around at the time, they'd have treated General Eisenhower the same way. They seem to have missed a few tiny differences, which Oliver also notes: "You know, except Gen. Eisenhower won the war in Europe and his commander in chief was a far left Democrat, Franklin Roosevelt. But whatever, let them play." Well, um, far left by Red State standards, perhaps, Oliver - though, as Attaturk points out, the far-right called George Marshall a traitor and Ike a commie, too.

And he must have been! Because Ike Liked Civil Rights.

23:47 BST

It happens every time

Natasha blogged from the crowd: "I don't know how best to organize an effective resistance, I admit, but I don't feel a lot of pro-getting arrested sentiment among the people I know. That may not be the case with the people here. I heard one woman behind me tell a friend on her cell phone that she might be arrested over the die-in they're planning." I can't help the feeling that aiming all that activism at making sure everyone has hand-counted paper ballots on election day would be the most effective thing of all.

Strange as it may seem, we used to have public funding for abortions. Reagan signed it into law in California. Today, it's almost impossible to get funding for an abortion even if your pregnancy is likely to cost you your life. Does this prevent abortions? No. In fact, the people who have brought this to you have actually increased the likelihood that you may need one. They're the same people who don't care if children die.

Why are some people's paychecks and bonuses more privileged than others? It makes no sense.

Paul Krugman explains the facts of life in a back-and-forth with his readers at the NYT site. Via Oliver Willis.

I could only find a fragment of Fred Neil singing "Everything Happens" (at least it's the right fragment), so have some beautiful underwater footage with him singing "The Dolphins" instead.

16:33 BST

It happens every time

Natasha blogged from the crowd: "I don't know how best to organize an effective resistance, I admit, but I don't feel a lot of pro-getting arrested sentiment among the people I know. That may not be the case with the people here. I heard one woman behind me tell a friend on her cell phone that she might be arrested over the die-in they're planning." I can't help the feeling that aiming all that activism at making sure everyone has hand-counted paper ballots on election day would be the most effective thing of all.

Strange as it may seem, we used to have public funding for abortions. Reagan signed it into law in California. Today, it's almost impossible to get funding for an abortion even if your pregnancy is likely to cost you your life. Does this prevent abortions? No. In fact, the people who have brought this to you have actually increased the likelihood that you may need one. They're the same people who don't care if children die.

Why are some people's paychecks and bonuses more privileged than others? It makes no sense.

Paul Krugman explains the facts of life in a back-and-forth with his readers at the NYT site. Via Oliver Willis.

I could only find a fragment of Fred Neil singing "Everything Happens" (at least it's the right fragment), so have some beautiful underwater footage with him singing "The Dolphins" instead.

16:33 BST

News and stuff

From the Observer:
"Was Israeli raid a dry run for attack on Iran?: Mystery surrounds last week's air foray into Syrian territory. The Observer's Foreign Affairs Editor attempts to unravel the truth behind Operation Orchard and allegations of nuclear subterfuge "
"Gingrich plots revenge on Clintons: Firebrand Republican threatens last-minute White House run to end primary 'chaos' - and stop Hillary"

Fair and Balanced coverage from the WaPo, "Dueling Demonstrations", makes it sound like there were as many counter-demonstrators as their were anti-war protesters. I like the part where they're calling people commies. Just like old times.

"Chafee quietly quits the GOP: "PROVIDENCE - Lincoln D. Chafee, who lost his Senate seat in the wave of anti-Republican sentiment in last November's election, said yesterday that he has left the party. Chafee said he disaffiliated with the party he had helped lead, and his father had led before him, because the national Republican Party has gone too far away from his stance on too many critical issues, from war to economics to the environment. 'It's not my party any more,' he said."

At the Telegraph, "Bush setting America up for war with Iran: Senior American intelligence and defence officials believe that President George W Bush and his inner circle are taking steps to place America on the path to war with Iran, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt."

From The Times, another look at the book by "America's elder statesman of finance", "Alan Greenspan claims Iraq war was really for oil [...] However, it is his view on the motive for the 2003 Iraq invasion that is likely to provoke the most controversy. 'I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil,' he says."

Alex Horton's last post at Army of Dude said he'd completed his final mission of the deployment and was coming home. I was hoping we'd see something after he got home so we'd know he made it OK, but that post is two weeks old. But he made some interesting comments about seeing the generals come in for the dog and pony show, and he also said this: The public can do something about this. It doesn't have to be a hopeless cause forever. Write your Congressmen, go to a rally, read as much as you can about Iraq to see it for what it is: a place men go to lose their minds and their lives. And most importantly, love your children. Teach them that war is not honorable, it's no plaything cast with an indifferent hand. It's the most terrible thing man ever brought to the world. My generation didn't learn from Vietnam, but the next one can learn from us. The memories and spirit of Chevy and Jesse compel you, America. Do not forget your fallen sons."

14:36 BST

Your need to know

This is HR 2826, the House bill to restore habeas corpus. Please call your representative and tell them to support it. You might also remind them that the 4th Amendment* says:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
And that their recent dicking around with the FISA bill is a gross violation, and that the violations by the White House and the DOJ are criminal activities that should be prosecuted appropriately.

Via The Agonist, "Articles of faith" in the Guardian: "When two eminent US scholars wrote about the 'Israel lobby' they were vilified by colleagues and the Washington Post. This week Barack Obama joined the attack. Ed Pilkington hears their story" - It is an outrage that even Jews cannot discuss this subject without being accused of antisemitism or "anti-Judaism". It is absolutely clear that many of the people who are lodging these accusations are themselves antisemites who actually hope that every single person who does not believe in Jesus will die in the conflagration they want "pro-Israel" policy to cause, and ludicrous to accuse those who hope for a more peaceful solution to the Middle-east's problems of "antisemitism".

A Return to New Orleans - All over America, people are being squeezed out of their own communities, but Katrina gave the project a big boost.

Scaife family values - white trash with too much money.

The Ocular Penetration Restriction Act.

Cronyism - another gift to FEMA. (Also, a little more domestic terrorism.)

Beach Impeach

Largest Minority has videos from the protests.

12:14 BST

Assorted items

DKNY Belle Du Jour underwired balconette bra

Bra of the Week

"Yeah, Right," and other things having to do with sarcasm. (Blimey, there's a Sarcasm Society. Love the poster.)

Thers has a stumper: "Why is Regional Instability a consideration when we're discussing getting out of Iraq, but not even remotely considered when the subject is Teaching Iran a Lesson?"

"Tom Friedman Inc. Desperate to Retain Brand Equity" from MediaBloodhound, in honor of the season.

Will Prescott interviewed Powell to ask what he meant about a US Terror Industrial Complex.

Rachel Maddow's Campaign Asylum: Still Stupid on Iraq - not to mention downright embarrassing. (I'm sorry she didn't include her rant on how if someone came and kicked Bush and Cheney out and occupied our country, we'd be doing the same thing to them that the Iraqis are doing to us. It's a point I've been trying to make for a long time - they really aren't any different from us.)

Hey, this guy has a strip called "Iraqi Crybaby Theatre", but I can't figure out where it came from.

"The Comedy Team of Crocker&Petraeus Gets Good Reviews: Everybody wants to give the team of Crocker & Petraeus credit for not lying more than they did."

Jeez, Roy, don't give them any ideas!

01:00 BST

Saturday, 15 September 2007

On demand posting

Earlier this evening, Mr. Sideshow handed me a disc he'd found at a charity shop that was one of those enclosures with the Daily Mail, of Crosby, Still, and Nash live. It opens with "Love The One You're With", which put me in mind of the first time I'd heard the Manassas album, before it was actually on vinyl.

"You remember that dream I told you about..." He didn't; apparently, I'd never told him.

It was one of those spooky experiences everyone has that you think should make you believe in ESP even though you don't.

It was the time I woke up at 1:00 in the morning after dreaming that I'd been wandering around Dulles airport with Steve Stills and his entourage. I checked the clock to make note of the time because I just had a feeling.

So the next day I called Stills' road manager and said, "Michael, did you just get back to town last night? 'Cause I had this dream last night that I was wandering around Dulles with you guys. When I woke up it was one a.m."

And he said, "Yeah, it was about then. Why don't you come down and you can listen to the tapes from the new album."

And so it was. He had a copy of the latest Rolling Stone draped across the table with photos of Mick Jagger's wedding, in which he was prominently displayed. I didn't think that was an accident.

While I was there, someone else dropped by who had just had a feeling that he was back. He said that happened a lot to him.

I'm telling you this because Mr. Sideshow said I should post it - he thinks I should write all this stuff up when I remember it, because he says it's interesting.

22:46 BST

Momentary passions

So, how's that protest going? There's a bit of live-blogging at WaPo. Sinfonian saw some drama; NTodd won. NTodd also has a photo of the counter-protest, along with others of the real demo (I quite liked this one. And this one.) (If you're in DC, you might be able to meet up with people later here.) What's your TV telling you?

David Sirota is deep in I told you so: "According to a new poll released today by the nonpartisan firm Research 2000, if Connecticut's 2006 Senate general election happened today, Ned Lamont would defeat Sen. Joe Lieberman handily. What is of particular significance in the numbers is that the shift is due precisely to the deception that Lamont supporters had been exposing during the campaign - but which reporters refused to cover both during the race and in the post-election analysis. This deception on the issue of Iraq goes straight to how the media and political Establishment will do anything to keep this war going. And the two lessons that come out of this poll after looking at its details are worth remembering. As the poll shows, if the race were held today, Lamont would garner 48 percent of the vote, Lieberman just 40 percent and Republican Alan Schlesinger would get 10 percent. This represents roughly a 16-18 point swing from the actual results (Lieberman 49, Lamont 40, Schlesinger 10), and according to today's poll, the major shift to Lamont from Lieberman would be among Democratic and Independent voters."

Dept. of Oh Thank God It's Not Just Me: I've been hearing this thing on the radio the last several days about "stealing signals" and for the life of me I couldn't make sense of it. I mean, they're in public, right? And don't all teams watch videos of each other playing? I figured there must be something arcane about it that I, as a person who isn't into football games, would not get. But, apparently, I'm not the only one. Bill Richardson saw his opening: "The President has been allowed to spy on Americans without a warrant, and our U.S. Senate is letting it continue. You know something is wrong when the New England Patriots face stiffer penalties for spying on innocent Americans than Dick Cheney and George Bush." (Also, I am going to Hell for thinking this T-shirt is funny.) And Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) is shrill. Yes indeed, if you wait until the general election, you waited too long. The primaries are where it's at. Get in there.

20:56 BST

Something just isn't right

Bill Clinton was brave and good, and Bush... isn't. And who is saying this? Well, Alan Greenspan seems to be saying it about their respective economic policies in his new book, but it's all a bit late, specially coming from him. And, as The New York Times likes to remind us, Greenspan is a devotee of Ayn Rand, although I'm not all that sure she would have liked what her fans have wrought. Imagine what she would have said about Greenspan's willingness to carry water for Bush's policies during his tenure under him. But now he says Republicans deserved to lose in the last election. Like no one could see where this was going.

The Plan - Just in case the quote below from Jane Smiley didn't move you to click through, go read Lambert on the subject. And if you didn't watch the video when I linked it before, do it now. For me, the state of trauma started with the 2000 Selection, and the hits just keep on coming. I think that's why I really do expect them to drop nukes on Iran any day now - because they know it will freak me out. (And when I say "me", I expect that applies to you, too.)

Could we defeat them with a counter-economy? I've always thought it was a mistake to leave control of investment and of corporations in the hands of people for whom greed is the only apparent motivator.

Tom Legg's response to learning that we are still in a state of emergency. Or is that what it's about?

"I'm Under Your Spell"

19:32 BST

Political stew

Good stuff from Lawyers, Guns and Money:

John Cole at Balloon Juice has the update on the aforementioned stupid right-wing Gotcha trick, and the explanation of why the NYT did not give a special sweetheart deal. (Thanks to Thom for the tip.)

A day or two ago Atrios posted a link I've lost track of now to a story about the rise in health insurance costs, and someone in comments noted that, while some papers were reporting it straight, others were framing it as a slow-down in the rate of rise in costs. Stories with titles like "Rises in Health Insurance Premiums Continue Their Four-Year Slowdown", "Health insurance premiums rise at slower clip" and Health Insurance Premiums Rise at Slowest Rate Since 1999 were quite close to the top of the Google search that commenter posted (sorry, can't remember who), but I note that updating the page shows that, for some reason, that meme didn't take hold so well, and most of the stories are now reporting it as a significant rise in costs - which it is. Just not as significant as the earlier surge in costs that took hold earlier in Bush's term.

John Kerry's response to the faux outrage from right-wingers over the ad referring to PR Flack Petreaus as "Betrayus" should have been that Petreaus was promoting political spin for the administration and therefore dishonoring the uniform, but he copped out. But at least he spoke up when a Republican shrugged off the deaths of American service personnel as "a small price". So, where are the other Democrats on this? Strangely silent.

Phoenix Woman at Mercury Rising: "The late Steve Gilliard wrote extensively about how in 1970, American forces in Vietnam were falling apart: Rock-bottom morale, zero unit cohesion, commanders being fragged in the field. From the reports coming out of Iraq, we're not far from seeing scenes like that reprised nearly four decades later."

Thomas Nephew, "Progress is just another word for nothing left to kill."

Blue skies in Anbar

"While the West loses its soft power" at The Cylinder.

12:45 BST

Friday, 14 September 2007


Jane Smiley reviews The Shock Doctrine:

What amazes me is that Republicans who are now exclaiming at what has happened to the Republican Party (and yes, I talked to my mother this morning) didn't see this coming. Everything, every value, that the Republicans have held up for my lifetime as desirable has been pointing us in this direction. As I've said before on the HuffPost, all of this is the necessary consequence of traditional Republican values, not an accidental byproduct. Or maybe I'll put it this way -- when you reject common humanity, value profits above people, practice sectarian religion, feel contempt for the choices of others, exalt wealth, conflate consumersim with citizenship, join exclusive clubs, daily practice unkindness rather than kindness, and develop theories, such as those of free market capitalism, that allow you to congratulate yourself morally for selfishness and short-sightedness, then being a gang member is in your future.
Via BartBlog.

23:55 BST

More and more

I see Fred Hiatt has earned yet another coveted Wanker of the Day award for his latest exercise in denial, translated for us by the BooMan: "Fred Hiatt is now in a corner. He has zero faith in the President, the surge, the plan, the future. But he's still hanging tough. In an editorial headlined The Least Bad Plan, he tepidly endorses more of the same. [...] You can blame the neo-conservatives for taking our Establishment off the rails, but the Washington Post waved their pom poms as the Establishment built the apparatus that enabled the neo-conservatives."

It's not that they can't do anything about the occupation, it's just that they ... don't. Here's one suggestion for What Congress should do about the war.

Booga booga, did The New York Times give a sweetheart deal? The wingers are outraged!

Will Bunch has a nice press scandal about a disgraced ABC consultant who's been making it up, and pushing for war on Iran.

Sarah at Corrente wants to know why that E4B was flying over DC on 9/11. Meanwhile, Lambert gets David Broder to not only answer the question, "Would you say that a press (in the person of Fred Hiatt) that cheers on an attack on Iran; a president who refuses accountability for Iraq; a Congress that is unable or unwilling to hold him accountable; and consultants who focus on tiny triangulations and meaningless sound bites; together all signal the complete collapse of the Beltway as a functional ruling class?" - but to do so without quibbling with his terminology.

I like the new M&S "Ain't She Pretty?" ad.

Bumming a dime off Colin Farrell

20:58 BST

Stops on the Infobahn

John Edwards' response to Bush's speech is now posted at his site, and C&L has the transcript. "Our troops are stuck between a president without a plan to succeed and a Congress without the courage to bring them home. But Congress must answer to the American people. Tell Congress you know the truth - they have the power to end this war and you expect them to use it. When the president asks for more money and more time, Congress needs to tell him he only gets one choice: a firm timeline for withdrawal. No timeline, no funding. No excuses. It is time to end this war."

Via Buzzflash, Bush extends National Emergency Act: "Because the terrorist threat continues, the national emergency declared on September 14, 2001, last extended on September 5, 2006, . . the powers and authorities adopted to deal with [the 2001 emergency] must continue in effect beyond September 14, 2007. Therefore, I am continuing in effect for an additional year the national emergency."

At TPMCafe, Paul Krugman says, "There's only one word to describe Jon Chait's book: shrill. [...] Way back in 1964, in his famous speech on behalf of Barry Goldwater, Reagan talked about how crazy it was that the federal government employed 2.5 million civilian workers; nobody pointed out that two-thirds of those civilians worked either for the Pentagon or for the post office."

In comments, derek observes: "Shops that actually have a "you broke it, you bought it" policy (I understand Pottery Barn isn't one) do not allow you to sit in the aisle with a pot of glue trying to repair it for them so you can give it back to them. Instead they ask you to give them money to compensate for the damage, and then leave the store. America and Britain should give Iraq money to compensate for the damage, and leave the country."

12:14 BST

What they said

A little help from eRobin: "I have a friend who served in Vietnam and who is now a leading activist against the occupation of Iraq. At a Coalition for Peace Action meeting over the weekend, he addressed the legitimate concerns for the safety of Iraqis in a way I hadn't heard before. He said that the Pottery Barn model doesn't work because it assumes ownership. A better metaphor would be a bull in a china shop. We let the bull in. The bull broke everything in sight. It's time to get the bull out and let people in who know what they're doing." Send that to your Dem reps. Hell, send it to every Dem you can think of. Send it to the media. Make it the meme.

Glenn Greenwald again discusses the bizarre paranoia of the right-wing fanatics who can't understand why liberals just don't see the threat: Their need to victimize themselves and demonize some Enemy is impossible to overstate. American Muslims live in isolated enclaves, with their communities far and away the most common targets of all the new surveillance powers Kirchick and his comrades have vested in the federal government. There is a grand total of 1 Muslim member of Congress out of 535. By contrast, entire television networks and talk radio shows and huge political blogs and our country's dominant political party are devoted to a platform of opposing Islam. Yet in Kirchick's mind, it is Muslims who are the all-powerful, oppressing faction, while he and his friends live in tragic oppression under the tyrannical rule of the "liberal PC police" and violent Islamic armies who punish any anti-Islamic commentary, with stigma if not with beheadings. And they forget that most acts of terrorism in the United States aimed at suppressing "our freedoms" are committed by white Christianists. (For more contrast, there's also this.)

Dave Johnson says, "Stop Saying 'Single-Payer' PLEASE: NO ONE KNOWS WHAT "SINGLE-PAYER" MEANS!!! I was talking to someone last week who thought "single-payer" means you have to pay all your medical bills by yourself with no help. That's what it sounds like it means, and no one understands what it means otherwise, so why would anyone think it is a good thing? But everyone understands what Medicare is, and loves it, so why not just say "Medicare For All?" Sheesh!"

00:29 BST

Thursday, 13 September 2007

I learned it on the internet

John Edwards has bought air time on MSNBC for a response to Bush's speech. Good on him. You might want to be sure to catch it, and to throw him a few bucks to help defray the cost.

If I were someone other than me, trying to get or keep a straight job in America today, I would never, ever use my real name on anything that exposed my politics. Here's why. It's really a pretty serious problem - especially with David Horowitz on the loose. It already cost Juan Cole of Informed Comment a job a couple years ago.

Afghanistan is broken. Last time this happened, people voted in the Taliban because they promised stability. And now the Taliban is back, promising stability.

So, basically, the surge has had the opposite of the intended effect, convincing Iraqis that there's no hurry to fix things. (Especially if fixing things means giving Bush's friends their oil.) And Petraeus really doesn't get the difference between himself and Eisenhower.

Rachel Maddow's interview with Viggo Mortensen

Early dawn

The church that was used in the "Father's Day" episode of Doctor Who is going to hold a Whovian communion service. Isn't that cute?

17:24 BST

In search of coffee

Yesterday, The Washington Post quoted Brian Baird as saying, "You don't get to just say, 'We trashed the place but we don't want the responsibility for cleaning it up.' . . . I have yet to hear the Out of Iraq Caucus seriously address that." Bill Scher says Baird isn't listening and provides just such addressing from Bill Richardson and Dennis Kucinich.

Dean Baker says the NYT* is libelling Germany by saying that country needs to weaken its welfare state. It's rather a joke to suggest that Germany, which is actually doing pretty well and running a surplus, could somehow improve its economy by emulating the same policies that were wrecking America even before Bush came in and used our treasury as his holiday money. "The article also misleads readers on the extent of Germany's unemployment rate. It reports that the rate has fallen to 9 percent, implying Germany still has very high unemployment. In fact, this is the official German measure of unemployment, which counts part-time workers as being unemployed. The OECD measure for German unemployment (which uses essentially the same methodology as the U.S.) is 6.4 percent. Since unemployment is still concentrated in the areas that were formerly East Germany, the unemployment rate in the areas that were formerly West Germany would be approximately the same as in the United States."

Newsweek has an interview with Robert Reich on the damage Supercapitalism is doing to America, but it's disappointingly vague. Reich says we need laws to counteract the fact that companies are forced by current lack of regulation to prioritize shareholder profits above all other considerations - and he's right - but doesn't really say much about what needs to be done. (Nor does he discuss the history of how we used to have regulations to assure a less rapacious corporate sector, but conservatives fixed that.)

Paul Kiel reports that Bradley Schlozman has admitted to hiring at the DoJ based on political affiliation and said he has a good reason - because Monica Goodling preferred to hire Republicans.

12:51 BST

One hardly knows what to say

Well, well: "Spy Chief McConnell Admits He Misled Congress In a new embarrassment for the Bush administration top spymaster, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell is withdrawing an assertion he made to Congress this week that a recently passed electronic-surveillance law helped U.S. authorities foil a major terror plot in Germany." Well, you knew that, but the surprise is that he admitted it.

Leah at Corrente writes about the sad news that, "Two of the seven Non-Commissioned Officers who authored that brilliant New York Times op ed of several weeks ago have died in Iraq." (Actually, that should say "two more", as one had already died before the article was published. Correction: Was shot, but is expected to recover.)

Harry Reid says, "Ted Olson will not be confirmed." Best news all day.

They are freaking out, at Op-Ed News. I gotta say, I'm feeling kinda nervous myself.

03:24 BST

Under the ice

Atrios has quoted a section of this article suggesting that newspaper op-ed columnists are more conservative because newspaper readers are older and therefore more conservative. Leaving aside the fact that a good business model would seem to be courting younger readers, the assumption here - that older people are more conservative - makes no sense. These op-ed columnists don't just oppose Democrats, liberals, gay marriage, and abortion; they have also tended to support privatizing social security, to oppose universal healthcare, and to be in love with the cheap-labor aspect of globalization. None of these positions are popular with older people; indeed, they are opposed by the vast majority of Americans in most demographics. In addition, these economically conservative policies seem to be most popular with a cohort that is younger than the baby-boom generation. In any case, markets in big cities tend to be more liberal and to vote for Democrats, so a tendency to cater to a more conservative market by The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, The Washington Post or The Baltimore Sun seems more suicidal than sensible.

Cursor: "The signing statements story was just the "tip of the iceberg" says Charlie Savage, whose book "Takeover" is called "a reproach of a press corps whose complacency greased the tracks for the dismantling of a balanced constitutional order," and another reviewer writes: "while Bush came to office in search of the next big idea, Cheney brought one with him.""

Ray McGovern explains what he did that got him thrown out of the Betrayus hearings.

"Why Harvard Wants You To Be Unhealthily Thin", (via)

Kathy Griffin's Emmy Award thank-you speech censored for religious reasons.

First Freedom First trailer. (I thought this was really good.) Via C&L.

Nazz live, "Under the Ice".

00:53 BST

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Dreams deferred

It's more than a little annoying. All the Dems have to do is point out that it doesn't matter how much money they give Bush, the money never really gets to the troops - it goes to KBR, to Halliburton, to war profiteers who don't even supply the troops with potable water half the time. It's not hard. There are a million ways to hit Bush on the funding issue and they don't seem to have the guts to try even one of them. So instead we get crap like this.

And, with their usual diligence in pursuit of accountability, the Democrats are still delaying on those contempt citations for Josh Bolton and Harriet Miers.

The shortlist for AG is down to two: George Terwilliger and Ted Olson, both well-known partisans who were part of the Bush v. Gore team. Terwilliger openly supports expansion of executive power. Can the Dems be trusted to do the right thing? I wish I could say yes. (But please do make those phone calls to your reps, peeps.)

The Rude Pundit probably has the right idea with his "Advice to Democrats: You Wanna End the War? Destroy David Vitter First." I won't say I like this kind of thing, but really, anything that takes power away from Joe Lieberman has a lot to recommend it. I mean, we're standing on the brink, here, so I'd bite my tongue about it if the Dems actually did this. (Thanks to Matt for the tip.)

Conservatives outraged at liberal Google-bombing; plan to turn tables. I love these stories about how they're going to catch up with us. They don't even seem to realize what works for us (and why), let alone when something is just, you know, pranksterism.

How could The Corner possibly be improved?

Online Comics section:
Defenders of Freedom: A Question of Obligation, the first in a series by the ACLU. The press release says, "ACLU Joins Forces with Comic Book Legend Art Spiegelman and Others to Launch Limited-Edition Comic Book Defenders of Freedom." (via)
Ronald Reagan: A Graphic Biography by Steve Buccellato, Andrew Helfer, and Joe Staton, serialized in Slate. (Thanks to Emphyrio for the tip.)

16:05 BST

Open windows

They're Micromanaging Your Every Move: "For corporate managers the attraction of white-collar industrialization is that it adds to the productivity of workers without adding to their skills or their earning power. From a management perspective it is the best of all possible worlds, allowing companies such as Wal-Mart to improve their profit margins while keeping labor costs low. Too often it is intelligent and valuable employees who pay the price for these changes; they lead increasingly insecure and anxious professional lives that no longer provide a reliable flow of income and benefits." (via)

For those who missed the gag, here's the real slide for that plan for Iraq. At Fact-esque, eRobin explains how it works.

Most Americans support the liberal position on most major issues, and yet our newspapers' op-ed pages are much more conservative. But they still wonder why they are losing readers.

More from the WINOs - Lugar and other Republicans are making the usual noises without substance.

The exit strategy is not a strategy for getting out of Iraq.

Larry Flynt says he has more - from a woman who says she had an affair with Senator David Vitter.

A moment of silence from Dependable Renegade.

The Shock Doctrine - Naomi Klein's work meets Alfonso Cuarón.

Duncan Black notes that the right-wingers who today are bemoaning the loss of that feeling of unity six years ago have only themselves to blame, because they decided it was more important to attack other Americans rather than face reality.

10:45 BST

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Across the great divide

Gary Kamiya: "Sept. 11 was a hinge in history, a fork in the road. It presented us with a choice. We could find out who attacked us, surgically defeat them, address the underlying problems in the Middle East, and make use of the outpouring of global sympathy to pull the rest of the world closer to us. Or we could lash out blindly and self-righteously, insist that the only problems in the Middle East were created by "extremists," demonize an entire culture and make millions of new enemies." Via Ezra Klein, who said: "The most lofty, abstract generalization of all is the insistence that this is a war of good vs. evil. 'They' attacked us not because they had grievances or for any reasons that exist in the sublunary realm: They attacked simply because they were evil. Saddam would do the same because he, too, like Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, was evil. The 'war on terror' is a crusade, a Holy War, whose essentially theological nature was summed up by the title of Richard Perle and David Frum's book, 'An End to Evil.' And once you're dealing with 'evil,' niggling distinctions -- between Sunni and Shiite, or secular and religious, or whether the country you want to invade had anything to do with attacking you -- can be dispensed with."

Tommy Korioth writes, "This week I took the time to compile my own list of Republican's culture of corruption. I thought I'd finish in a couple of hours; it took me three days. Last time I counted I had over 200 names."

"Hillary's Prayer: Hillary Clinton's Religion and Politics" by Kathryn Joyce and Jeff Sharlet in Mother Jones: "For 15 years, Hillary Clinton has been part of a secretive religious group that seeks to bring Jesus back to Capitol Hill. Is she triangulating - or living her faith?"

Oh, look, Vastleft has done another song: "Shock Me Dave Petraeus"

"Who knew? Ada Lovelace was a fox."

22:44 BST

Turning leaves

My suggestions

Rudy, predictably.

Viagra for terrorism

Beauty, unfathomable loss and the beginning of the Forever War

9/11, the salience of mortality, and the future of American democracy - "Nobody jumped."

David Podvin, "Puppet Master [...] Bush is the best thing that ever happened to international terrorism, and bin Laden knows it. According to British Intelligence, al Qaida membership has increased exponentially during the Bush years, and support for the group throughout the Islamic world has also skyrocketed. With belligerent yet hapless Republicans in charge, Osama has the perfect foils needed to wage successful jihad."

Spock's mother dies. Mike Conley alerts me that the Grauniad failed to note her great achievement in marrying a Vulcan, preferring to refer to Jane Wyman's earlier marriage to a second-rate actor. (Well, at least they mentioned the Oscar.) The NYT at least has a photo of her from Johnny Belinda and leads with the Oscar. A remarkable number of wingers seem to be stunned to hear the phrase "Ronald Reagan's first wife", apparently the first clue they've had that he was divorced. Jeez. [Update: Oops. Thanks to Qalice and RAB for the correction.]

The plan for success in Iraq (Thanks to Lambert for the tip.)

16:24 BST


Have I mentioned lately how disgusting I find the way this administration blurs the line between civilian leadership and the military? Have I mentioned how revolting it is to see people in uniform trotted out as campaign props and political pawns?

It's been grossing me out for most of the life of Bush's White House career - the way he often appears in his pseudo-military jackets (and flight suit), the staging of hand-picked troops around him, and now the General who spends more time being part of the White House political arm than doing what was supposed to be his actual military job.

Not to mention the outrage of having an alleged president claiming that it is not he, but rather his commanders on the ground, who make the decisions about what the policy will be. An alert media would ask him if he didn't have things backwards - isn't it the generals who are supposed to advise the president of the facts on the ground, and the civilian leadership that's supposed to make the decisions? What happened to "the Decider", let alone the "commander in chief"?

Not that we believe that anyone but Bush and Cheney actually do the decidin', but hearing him talk as if for some reason the one thing that allows him to call himself "commander in chief" is out of his hands, and he's helpless to defy his generals - well, it does make me want to slap him. Especially since his decisions are so bad that you almost wish the generals would make the decisions, since they couldn't be any worse than the ones that are being made from the White House.

In any case, we need to demand that our Democratic leaders stop going along with the St. Petreaus charade, and Jane Hamsher has a few things to say about that, and a petition for them. And Glenn Greenwald made a video to go with it.

11:25 BST

Monday, 10 September 2007

Words and music

Bill Scher appears to like Obama more than I do, but even he wasn't too thrilled with what Obama had to say about Iran: "Obama's main critique of Bush is that there's been "tough talk with little action and even fewer results." Since when are we worried that there's not enough "action" from Bush?" And here's this weekend's radio show (it's only half an hour), where Bill's guest is Christy harden Smith.

Who could have imagined that an American administration would spread theocracy in Iraq? (via)

The vice chairman of Goldman Sachs says Bush's policies endanger America's fiscal security.

Here's something else to look forward to, currently being tried in India: the government is forcing cybercafes to install keyloggers. Yikes! (I already think of keyloggers as evil, of course.) Meanwhile some good news: A judge in California has told the RIAA that they need to create original complaints if they want to file their nasty lawsuits - no more filling in the blanks of a pre-written form-letter filing.

Someone said it's like "a celebrity death match within the dismal science" - "This week at TPMCafe's Book Club, we have an all-star group to debate Jon Chait's new book, The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by Crackpot Economics. Paul Krugman, Stephen Moore, Will Wilkinson, Megan McArdle, Ross Douthat, and Ezra Klein will be joining in. Blog debate so far has focused on Chait's history of the rise of suppy-siders, but as he explains in his first post they're only a piece of the puzzle." (Also, Josh Marshall notes that the head of Centcom says the "surge" is a bust.)

Jamison Foser wants to know why the NYT still hasn't posted corrections on some of those Jeff Gerth articles.

Good news! Lionel has the week off, so Wes Clark, Jr. (the general's son) will be sitting in for him for a week. I've never heard Clark try to carry a show alone, but it's gotta be an improvement in the 9-noon spot on AAR.

Cab Calloway's "Hi-De-Ho" (1934), and Betty Boop in "Minnie the Moocher"

19:16 BST

"She needs back-up"

Glenn Greenwald sees exactly how the country is divided, and it's between The DC Establishment versus American public opinion. The rest of America knows better than to believe the hype about Patreaus, the war, or anything else that comes off the Hill: "In one sense, it is quite unhealthy in a democracy for such a large majority of Americans to so distrust the political and media establishment that they even believe in advance that war reports from our leading General will be nothing more than self-serving and misleading propaganda. But in another, more important sense, when a democracy's political establishment becomes as rotted and deceitful and corrupt as ours has become -- enabling the most unpopular President in modern American history to continue what is so blatantly a senseless war for years and years, in complete defiance of what Americans want -- the one encouraging sign is that a majority realizes how corrupt our establishment is and has stopped believing anything they say."

At A Tiny Revolution, "Our Leaders: Thank Goodness They're Completely Different From Saddam Hussein."

Digby notes more White House manliness-related verbiage as a White House shill calls bin Laden "impotent". (Because he's in a cave? What difference does that make? Anyway, I still think he's living at the Naval Observatory.) And I tried to resist another link via Atrios, but this relevant post from Henley about how easy it is to get the wingers to piddle their panties has a comment thread that isn't too long (at the moment) and rewards reading.

Buzzflash and Thom Hartmann invite you to listen to Nixon for a minute and four seconds: "An unpopular president [Johnson] was prosecuting an unpopular war, which was despised by more than half the American people. His political opponent [Nixon, although Nixon actually ran against Humphrey, Johnson's Vice-President] knew that the best way to take him down - and ultimately to take down his entire Party - was to simply say out loud what everybody knew to be true. To call out the President. To declare him and his war a failure. To call on the American people for truth and honesty in government, and an end to war."

And can you say....ministerium für staatssicherheit?

Do me a favor: When you e-mail me a link, keep it clear of other punctuation so I don't get a 404 message when I click on it.

15:42 BST

Dark with scattered light

Naomi Wolf has written a new book, The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, and if you click on the widget at left (I liked the picture on the old one better [Update: Ah, I see he's changed the graphic to suit me, now], but this one really does always give you the latest show - this week's is #17, for 070909), you can listen to Sam Seder's show where he interviews her, and also talks to Bill Scher, Glenn Greenwald, Larisa Alexandrova, and Steve Benen. (I don't get why hspace doesn't seem to work with the new widget, though.) Wolf's "Fascist America, in 10 easy steps" appeared a few months ago in the Guardian. Via Emphyrio.

Are Democrats really okay with Silberman as Attorney General? Silberman? Like Nicole says, this guy has had his hand in the very nastiest of right-wing operations; he is not someone who can even remotely be called a disinterested party, let alone a man of integrity. He's dirty all the way down. Please make those phone calls.

Via Atrios, I see that PR Flack David Petreaus is saying we need to put off any decisions about troop redeployment for another six months. As pseudonymous in nc says* in the comment thread, "That's taking the piss. I would like for one Democrat tomorrow to explain the concept of the Friedman Unit to the American people, and supply a set of quotes showing how Betrayus is just another FU-er."

And speaking of Atrios' comments, Gimlet links to this article from December of 2005 that contains a hint as to why the GOP are so happy to get rid of Larry Craig, and suggests that it may be the reason that news of Larry Craig's bust in Minnesota got to Washington. And Tom Legg refers to this article by Pam Spaulding at Americablog noting that the GOP operative murder-suicide story from Florida seems to be getting a remarkably low profile from the press. If it's true that, "If it bleeds, it leads," why is a story that appears to have everything being virtually ignored by the media?

Here's someone else who is calling for a general strike - on 9/11.

12:59 BST

No time to change, not a chance to learn

Kevin Drum on The Chaos Hawks - They admit that Iraq is hopeless, but they still want to stay. (Also: Nobody believes them - A majority say Petraeus will just pretty things up, and Bush will just do what he wants to do no matter what Petraeus thinks.)

Bill Kristolnacht says everyone who is "sober and serious" wants to keep 100,000 troops in Iraq, probably forever. Apparently, Joe Biden is one of them.

Monkeyfister directs us to Shut It Down, who think October 17th is a good day for a general strike.

I've been meaning to link "Why I hate The New Republic" for a while, now. I mean, you know she's right.

Tom Bozzo discusses some mythology about hedge funds.

I had no idea that the same cinematographer had worked on all those films.

Why the Democrats Won't Stand.
Why we must.

The Iron Lady

01:56 BST

Sunday, 09 September 2007

On the internets

So, Chuck Hagel is retiring from the Senate. To some people, Hagel is a "principled" Republican who recently started speaking out against the occupation. As far as I know, though, his voting record hasn't reflected those alleged principles - but I guess that's the definition of a "principled Republican" these days. So, you know, good riddance. Yes, I know someone at least as bad will likely be the replacement nominee from the GOP, but let's not forget that Hegal probably didn't win his seat honestly in the first place, and he started out as just another right-wing radio personality. I can't say I'm thrilled at the idea of having Bob Kerrey step in for the Dems, but at least he has name-recognition. (It'd be nice if an economic progressive who knows how to stand up went for that seat - these days, they can win in all sorts of places. I wish we could alert the Democratic leadership to this. I would also like to win the lottery.)

Susie Madrak has a post on Bush's likely nominees for AG - we've been over this ground before, but let's not forget that these guys are hard core far-right political operatives, two of whom argued Bush v. Gore in the Supreme Court to say that it would be unfair to Bush if the ballots were counted. Via Wampum, where I also found this post about an index of Bush's signing statements from the American Constitutional Society.

Voters in Virginia might want to check these links for help with registration or getting absentee ballots - and make sure other Democratic leaners you know are registered, wherever you are.

Fred Thompson's run for the presidency hasn't been looking very convincing to me, anyway, but apparently it's not even looking that convincing to the rightward grapevine, and that was before he turned out to be someone who has aided the terrorists. Oh, my.

George Carlin on why our schools have stopped working. (via)

At C&L, Dennis Kucinich deftly handles Tucker Carlson, and Scott Ritter says, ""If you want to be anti-war, that means you have to be in conflict with those who are pro-war."" Maybe we better all read his book to get some strategy.

Susie Bright: "One thing I have in common with the late Andrea Dworkin is that whenever we would get off a plane in a new country, we would seek out a sample of the nation's pornography. Why? Because it's like stepping into the sticky pool of a community's greatest historical burden."

A novel on a specialized fetish.

17:09 BST

Things to check out

"Shame On The Democrats" - Before the 2006 elections, Nancy Pelosi posted these words: "I make this pledge to you: every week that Congress is in session, I will come to and report back on what House Democrats are doing to hold Republicans and the President accountable." She breaking her promises. But then, The influence of Kos on the national Democratic party has perhaps been overstated.

MahaBarb on Religion and Liberalism: "Fish is, in effect, arguing that democratic society must honor anti-democratic views, even if those views threaten civil peace and promote tyranny, because to do otherwise violates the principles of tolerance that liberalism claims to value. However, I argue that it is perfectly consistent for a liberal to be intolerant of intolerance and to stand against anything that threatens civil liberty. [...] The plain truth is that religionism is incompatible with democracy and with civil society that does not permit religious majorities to oppress and discriminate against religious minorities. Complain all you want, but if you want to live in a true democracy, religious neutrality is a necessary condition. Allowing any religious faction to use government "to order and control the affairs of the world so that the tenets of the true faith are reflected in every aspect of civic life" would mean the end of religious freedom for the rest of us."

Among several worthy links at Mike's Blog Round Up, I see that the wingnuts are outraged that Democrats are not referring to the Bush report as "the Petraeus Report", that Brave New Films is doing myth-busting on Giuliani and 9/11 at The Real Rudy, and Scott Horton has more on US Attorneys who weren't fired because they brought fraudulent prosecutions of Democrats and people in the Democratic-voting demographic.

Billy Connolly on shampoo and pubic hair, at the first Comic Relief.

11:56 BST

Saturday night/Sunday morning blogging

Chantelle Chantilly half cup braBra of the Week

I already posted* a link to "The Great Iraq Swindle" when it originally appeared at Rolling Stone, but since two people have castigated me for not posting it, have a link to its other appearance at Alternet under the title of "The Rip-off in Iraq: You Will Not Believe How Low the War Profiteers Have Gone", which has the virtue of actually having the author's (Matt Taibbi) name on it (and a photo, too), but doesn't include the video.

What a pity I hadn't noticed this post from Josh Marshall before I composed the one below* on the subject: "As I skimmed the transcript of the new bin Laden tape with its discussion of global warming, subprime credit woes, Noam Chomsky, Richard Perle, the low tax nirvana of Islam and a bunch of other stuff, I could not help feeling sad again about how we gave this joker a new lease on life by invading Iraq. [...] But this, I think, is only the flip side of the vaunted perch we insist on giving [bin Laden], a[n] insistence that is a paradoxical part of Bushism. They are tacit partners in creating the world in which we now live." And this one from Angry Bear would have fit in there, too.

Two guys raised a lion, then released it into the wild. A year later, they went back to see how it was doing. There's a video. Via Biomes Blog, where I also found Al Gore is Running for President.. (And Top Ten.)

Lenticular cloud over the Sierra Nevada range, and The Colorful Clouds of Rho OphiuchiThe Colorful Clouds of Rho OphiuchiThe Colorful Clouds of Rho Ophiuchi.

Nick Scipio grades a paper.

00:38 BST

Saturday, 08 September 2007

All the news in bits

Crime report: "The killing of Jamie Dean: "Police in rural Maryland staged a military stakeout and shot a troubled Army vet. As his family plans to sue, they are asking how a soldier being treated for PTSD could be shipped to Iraq."

World news: Does the election of Abdullah Gul mean change for Turkey? His critics worry that he will be overly Islamist, but in truth the record of his party and his own work so far have been more progressive where women and religious minorities are concerned than his supposedly more secular predecessors' records were.

Analysis: Twenty-Two Things We Now Know Six Years After 9/11

Leisure: "So I decided to put up my feet, take a break, and find out what FUTAB means."

Travel: Bush gets mooned in Australia - bigtime. Video.

Sports: The Orioles having lost 14 of their last 16 games, Ettlin finally had to find another Maryland team.

Ombuds: How a good news organization does it. The other way.

20:12 BST

George Bush helps the terrorists every single day

John Edwards gives a speech on really fighting terrorism instead of what we have now:

Tragically for America and the world, George Bush's "war on terror" approach walked directly into the trap the terrorists set for us. Islamic extremists wanted to frame the conflict with the U.S. as a war of civilizations, and the Bush Administration, stuck in a Cold War mentality, happily complied.
It's good, but I wish people would stop thinking we have to create new organizations (like this) to do what we used to do without the new organization.

Bush, on the other hand, was happy to prove Edwards' point in his response to a new bin Laden video:

"I found it interesting that on the tape Iraq was mentioned, which is a reminder that Iraq is a part of this war against extremists," Bush continued. "If al-Qaeda bothers to mention Iraq, it is because they want to achieve their objectives in Iraq, which is to drive us out and to develop a safe haven."
Too bad he didn't notice that bin Laden was bragging about how:
Despite America being the greatest economic power and possessing the most powerful and up-to-date military arsenal . . . 19 young men were able, by the grace of Allah, the Most High, to change the direction of its compass."
As we have seen, "Selectively abandoning civil liberties and due process to wage the war on terrorism only plays into bin Laden's hands. Al-Qaeda succeeds at changing America simply by threatening it."

12:41 BST

What he said

As Aristotle once said of virtue, respect for the rule of law is "one thing."

It is indivisible.

And so long as it remains indivisible, so will our country.

But if either major political party is ever so beguiled by a lust for power that it abandons this unifying principle, then the fabric of our democracy will be torn.

The survival of freedom depends upon the rule of law.

-- Al Gore, April 27, 2005,
Breaking the Rules to Destroy Our Courts, speech to

11:03 BST

Interesting stuff

"Going After Gore" by Evgenia Peretz (daughter of TNR's Marty Peretz) in Vanity Fair is a pretty good run-down on how the press abused the Vice President during the 2000 campaign (although it gets some details wrong). Interviewed for the article, those same journalists still seem to think their own rancid reporting can ultimately be blamed on Gore because he didn't respond to their abuse by cozying up to them. Over at TPM Cafe, Reed Hundt still wonders why those people still have jobs.

Bouphonia: "I'm fascinated by the extent to which complaints against immigrants are visual. Putting aside the trumped-up allegations about crime and disease, anti-immigrant activists seem to suffer from a basic disorientation; they feel that their towns have become alien and unintelligible."

At the HuffPo, Robert Borosage says it's time for Democratic candidates to start leading on Iraq, and Richard Belzer is passionate on The Death of Conservatism, although he needed a copy-editor. (And copy-editors exist, folks, because it's easier to edit other people's stuff than it is to edit your own.)

Election deception, or why we don't like the Holt bill. (Thanks to Hugo* for the tip.)

Watch Mike Papantonio talk to Sam Seder about Rest Room Republicans.

This solar backpack is kinda cool - you can use it to recharge your cell phone or .mp3 player wherever you are. If I were a backpack type of person, I'd want one.

03:20 BST

Sleepy linkage

Oh, this is good. The long-awaited magic of September's Patraeus Report, which was getting to be more and more like comedy gold by the minute as we learned that it was really going to be a kind of, well, non-Patraeus report actually written by the White House (which we already expected in content if not literally), now turns out to have disappeared altogether with the news that there will be no Patraeus Report at all. (Also: |Senate okays aid to overseas groups that support abortion. The Senate yesterday defied a White House veto threat and overturned "a long-standing ban on U.S. funding for overseas family planning groups that support abortion." Seven Republicans joined 44 Democrats in reversing the ban, which was first implemented by President Ronald Reagan. President Clinton rescinded it, but it was then reinstated by Bush."

You'd think that if news organizations were pondering why they're losing market, they'd concentrate at least a little on the product. No such luck: "In other words, to apply lipstick to the pig or not to apply lipstick to the pig? That is their question. Only that isn't the question. And it's certainly not the answer."

At Bad Attitudes: Something else we could tell the FCC is that where the internet is concerned, Japan and the UK Kick American Ass. (And a comment led to another post detailing America's "success" in it's aggressive and wasteful cops of the world policy.) Plus: Are the Democrats playing progressives the way Bush plays evangelicals? (Well, usually, yeah - it's not like this is a new thing.)

Thanks to Anna in comments for alerting me to news that Fred Thompson is a Buffy villain.

00:38 BST

Friday, 07 September 2007

News nodule

Caro (of Make Them Accountable) passes this news on: Justice Department Nixes Net Neutrality: "The Justice Department on Thursday said Internet service providers should be allowed to charge a fee for priority Web traffic. The agency told the Federal Communications Commission, which is reviewing high-speed Internet practices, that it is opposed to "Net neutrality," the principle that all Internet sites should be equally accessible to any Web user." They gave the fake argument that net neutrality would hinder development, though the reverse is true. Have you written to the FCC yet to remind them that all the development we've had on the internet occurred with net neutrality in place?

Riverbend is in Syria: "As we crossed the border and saw the last of the Iraqi flags, the tears began again. [...] We were all refugees- rich or poor. And refugees all look the same- there's a unique expression you'll find on their faces- relief, mixed with sorrow, tinged with apprehension. The faces almost all look the same."

"Judge Strikes Down Parts Of Patriot Act: A federal judge struck down parts of the revised USA Patriot Act as unconstitutional Thursday, saying courts must be allowed to supervise cases where the government orders Internet providers to turn over records without telling customers."

Telnaes on Draper's book about Bush. (Thanks to Stu for the tip.)

A rose

14:26 BST

I'm not taking any bets

Paul Krugman says it's Time to Take a Stand:

Here's what will definitely happen when Gen. David Petraeus testifies before Congress next week: he'll assert that the surge has reduced violence in Iraq - as long as you don't count Sunnis killed by Sunnis, Shiites killed by Shiites, Iraqis killed by car bombs and people shot in the front of the head.

Here's what I'm afraid will happen: Democrats will look at Gen. Petraeus's uniform and medals and fall into their usual cringe. They won't ask hard questions out of fear that someone might accuse them of attacking the military. After the testimony, they'll desperately try to get Republicans to agree to a resolution that politely asks President Bush to maybe, possibly, withdraw some troops, if he feels like it. [Paywall link]

Duncan Black doesn't think they'll take that stand:
The Democratic leadership will try to put through a crap bill which does nothing but provide political cover for Republicans. Crazy liberals like me will encourage other crazy liberals to vote against it. This will be seen as deeply unserious by serious people, who think that it's very important that there's a bipartisan consensus to let George Bush do whatever he wants.

And we'll be back in another Friedman, another $100 billion, another 500 US troops, etc...

Auth explains.

11:10 BST

The truth is out there

I didn't believe the nuclear payload on that B-52 was an accident, and I see Larry Johnson doesn't seem to, either: "Barksdale Air Force Base is being used as a jumping off point for Middle East operations. Gee, why would we want cruise missile nukes at Barksdale Air Force Base. Can't imagine we would need to use them in Iraq. Why would we want to preposition nuclear weapons at a base conducting Middle East operations? [...] Now maybe there is an innocent explanation for this? I can't think of one. What is certain is that the pilots of this plane did not just make a last minute decision to strap on some nukes and take them for a joy ride."

The NYT has an editorial saying Rush Holt's bill on electronic voting machines needs to be tweaked to ban touch-screens and then it should be passed.

The Great Strike of 1877 - Nothing in America was ever the same afterwards.

Chicago Dyke says the blogosphere won one with the FEC with a decision in our favor after attempts to silence Kos, and us: "The Federal Election Commission announced today that it has unanimously resolved two complaints alleging that Internet blog activity is subject to Commission regulation, finding that the activity is exempt from regulation under the media or volunteer exemption."

Listen to Rachel's excellent rant on Iraq and Futility - highly recommended. (Listen to the whole show until the new show is posted Friday night here. Interesting interview with Elizabeth Edwards, too.)

Get your own DFH sticker.

01:49 BST

Thursday, 06 September 2007


Thomas Nephew tells me in comments that John Edwards is calling for an immediate drawdown of troops and withdrawal of all combat troops from Iraq within a year, and for prohibition of a permanent US military presence. Not perfect, but better than the other two leading contenders. More links here.

23:26 BST

Caught on the edge

I allude to this from time to time, but I'm glad Kevin Drum brought it up again:

Ever since World War II, American labor unions have been instrumental in helping spread democracy and labor rights throughout the world. The AFL-CIO's Lane Kirkland, for example, was one of the first to recognize what was happening in the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk back in 1980, and immediately offered his help to Solidarity leader Lech Walesa. In the end, the AFL-CIO funneled over $4 million in aid to Solidarity, as well as both money and technical assistance to other labor movements in Eastern Europe and around the world. From Poland to Brazil to South Africa, local labor unions have played key roles in stabilizing emerging democracies, and American support for those unions has been instrumental.

So what better way to celebrate Labor Day than to link to one of my all-time favorite Washington Monthly articles, Matthew Harwood's "Pinkertons at the CPA." It's the story of how the Bush administration's anti-labor obsession led it to actively sabotage one of the few cross-cultural institutions that was genuinely happy to see American troops enter Baghdad and genuinely eager to work with us: Iraq's labor unions.

I have friends who didn't quite get that Bush was going to blow it in Iraq until they heard about this, so soon after "Mission Accomplished", and figured that made it official.

And this week, Natasha: "The unions are the groups that made sure once upon a time that more employees of a company than the senior management had time to pay attention to the news. And to be duly outraged by it. They made sure that kids could grow up going to school instead of working in factories."

The conservative movement doesn't want to see that kind of freedom anywhere, and they're currently ruining at least two countries with more planned. They've gotta be stopped. Who will do that?

Keith Olbermann says it has to be done, and uses both the L-Word and the I-Word: "Mr. Bush probably did not know that, with his own words, he had already proved that he had been lying - is lying. will be lying - about Iraq. [...] Consider how this President has torn away at the fabric of this nation in a manner of which terrorists can only dream in these last 500 days. [...] Mr. Bush, our presence in Iraq must end. [...] Even if it means your resignation. Even if it means your impeachment. [...] This country cannot run the risk of what you can still do to this country in the next 500 days."

One way to take back your country - a message from The Freeway Blogger.

16:44 BST

What you can do

I've been meaning to get to the story of the town hall meeting in which Rep. Brian Baird was read the riot act by his constituents after he came back from a staged tour of peaceful Iraq saying the surge was working.

Congressman Brian Baird (D-3 Vancouver, Washington) hosted a town hall tonight at Fort Vancouver High School. It was Baird's first appearance in front of his constituents since reversing his position on the war. ALTHOUGH he's been an adamant critic of the war-he voted against the war and the surge-he announced last week that he thinks the surge is working and he wants to give it time.

He spoke in a high school auditorium that was packed with at least 500 people who were overwhelmingly vocal in their opposition to Baird's new stance. There were also protesters outside calling for Baird to resign.

What I wanted to stress about this is not so much that Baird's constituents let him have it, but that Baird's constituents had the opportunity to let him have it.

When these things happen, it's not usually just a convenient fact of timing, it's that the people make it happen.

The point is that you can do this. Find out what your Congressbeing's schedule is and when they are likely to be available for such a meeting - and let the local office know that you've got a hundred or more people who would like to have a town hall meeting with their rep. They're usually responsive to that kind of interest, and you can make a stronger case to them that way than you can with a few e-mails.

11:25 BST

Leftover links

Al Gore confirms that the vice president is part of the executive branch; also says the outrages are overflowing the buffer. (Also: high school student tells McCain the facts of life, and how Gonzales was pushed out the door. (Man, it sounds like he didn't quit sooner because they didn't realize how politically weak he was!)

I just love it that the DC Madam is trying on the national security defense.

The Insane Criminality of Dick Cheney: "Realism demands this question: if Al Gore had done this in 1998, what would have happened? He would have been taken out. If Democrats can't see that or accept the only remedy they'll continue to get pushed around and humiliated, no matter how many elections they win. Victory is never possible with two sets of rules." And all we need is ten brave reps to do the job.

Cenk says, "George Bush holds our troops hostage."

02:18 BST

Wednesday, 05 September 2007

Blogs and Dems

I followed this link from Atrios to this post by Matt Stoller which both point out that bloggers aren't "leaders" in the sense that a lot of people mean, and it's pointless to pretend that the whole "netroots" enterprise is a top-down leadership hierarchy in which Kos and Eli and Matt can all tell us who to support and what to do.

Yes, I do think that if Kos and Matt and Duncan all got together and decided that, say, we should all do some sort of demonstration or lobbying in a particular way or on a particular day, they could probably get a lot of people moving (as long as what they wanted us to lobby/demonstrate for already had broad support), but they can't actually tell us what to think, and how we feel about the candidates is a bit more complicated than our broadscale agreement that the current leadership is not doing its job.

We might be able to agree on "Impeach!", or on an anti-war message, but not on a candidate to rally behind - not yet.

Matt refers to two articles about the choices we have, with the leading names being Clinton, Obama, and Edwards (not necessarily in that order). Jeff Cohen provides painful reminders of why nominating Clinton is a terrible idea - a position most of the netroots does seem to agree on, but one that hasn't picked up any real steam in the broader Democratic electorate. Cohen thinks the "leaders" in the netroots need to work harder to undercut Clinton's apparent lead (or else become irrelevant). He mentions Eli Pariser's a lot, but I'm not comfortable with treating them as the progressive leadership; in fact, they have historically been very cautious politically, having been founded to pump for censure of Bill Clinton as the triangulated middle-ground between the anti-impeachment and pro-impeachment positions. And - although it's a good article, it also says this:

If 2004 taught anything, it's that it matters mightily who the nominee is.
Although I do think that Kerry was the wrong nominee, I'm not sure it would have mattered who the nominee was. After all, we had a virtually unassailable nominee in 2000, and the GOP managed to flip his image with that of his opponent, and - as Maha discusses here - they are doing it again already. And, of course, the evidence that Bush won that election is still unconfirmed and of dubious quality; for all we know, Kerry had it by a landslide - as most other indicators suggest. (Kerry did make two serious mistakes, one of which was letting James Carville anywhere near his campaign, and the other of which was conceding the election prematurely. But I'm not sure that's what Cohen means.) Just for the record, you lose credibility with me every time if you simply take for granted that Bush really did get the most people to vote for him in 2004.

The other article, by Armando Llorens, reminds us just as firmly that there are reasons to be as doubtful that Obama is the right nominee. (It also criticizes Matt Bai - which, as you know, I always enjoy seeing.) I hadn't been aware of some of the things Armando reports, and though they are consistent with much else that I've seen from Obama, it gave me even more reasons to see him as the wrong guy.

Realistically, that leaves Edwards, whose principal message is certainly superior, and who appears, at least, to have had a real epiphany somewhere along the line. Domestically, he is miles out ahead of the other two. But he still has two major problems. One is that many in the netroots still don't trust him and don't believe in his conversion. The other is that, though he has repudiated his vote for the invasion, he isn't exactly demanding the immediate start of redeployment from Iraq.

I get the feeling many people are still waiting for a sign - or for Gore to throw his hat in the ring. And no one wants to cripple Hillary when there is still a chance that, whatever we do, she will be the nominee and thus the only thing we'll have against a real Republican. That may be a mistake - I don't know. But I do think it's a mistake to expect the blogospheric "leadership" to start telling people what position we should take on this.

23:43 BST

No suprises

I guess it's no surprise that Bush isn't going to be given any surprises by his advisors: "President Bush's senior advisers on Iraq have recommended he stand by his current war strategy, and he is unlikely to order more than a symbolic cut in troops before the end of the year, administration officials told The Associated Press Tuesday." You don't say!

I'm having a bit of trouble with Magpie's links, but presumably you can scroll down to "Pop quiz!" for the chart showing The Economist's list of the 15 most democratic countries in the world. Let's just say we're not Number One. The article from The Economist is here. (Also: El Salvador still has death squads.)

Good news and bad news about all those McMansions: they make good rooming houses.

Chertoff's name is being bounced around as short-listed for the AG position. The Huffington Post reports that in 2001, Chertoff promised right-wingers that he'd go after Hillary for alleged fundraising irregularities. "Justice did not pursue a case against the senator from New York, but instead went after one of her fundraisers, David Rosen, who eventually was acquitted."

NTodd, not content to lie down and die, is getting organized.

17:00 BST

Yelling, "Theater!" in a crowded fire

Last night as I was drifting off to sleep, it occurred to me that there was something about the whole show we've been watching that reminded me of George Burns standing in front of his television screen explaining to the audience what was really going on, knowing that Gracie and their friends are not watching. Rove (usually in his guise of an unnamed White House aide) perpetually tells the press, and the audience, that they are spewing propaganda, and Kristol even tells us what the plan is, and plenty of bloggers are documenting it along with some of the better elements of the press, so we know - but behind us, on the little black and white screen, Congress carries on getting more and more twisted up in its complete misapprehension of the situation. Why aren't they watching? How embarrassing; Congress is Gracie Allen. Only it isn't funny.

Atrios wants to know why Petreaus has so much time to talk to people like Tom Friedman. I don't think we should keep referring to him as a "general". Now you know why they call it a "theater" of operations. With Media Director David Petreaus running the show, it's just a joke to pretend anyone is actually waiting to hear what he has to say anymore.

Dave Neiwert says that while groups like the Nazis who demonstrated the other month "flourish in environments where people try to ignore them in the hopes they'll just go away," the mockery of the clown posse that came out to greet them is an effective response. Via Hackenblog, who has video of the Nazi protest against the iron fist of political correctness as it faces the clowns.

54 seconds of Emma Goldman

11:13 BST

Tuesday, 04 September 2007

Gee, I wonder what's got me in such a lousy mood....

Natasha explains why she'll be there on September 15th. In the meantime, there are still the Sunday noon demos, and I understand that all over America people are just going out on Friday evenings (some areas use a different night of the week, and some only have monthly events) and standing on street corners for vigils like these.

Lance Mannion seems dead certain that they are going to attack Iran, and explains why it is inevitable. Even though it doesn't have to be.

Little did I know that Kimberley A. Strassel is doing her concern trolling again, this time suggesting that the Republicans are going to start picking up Democratic votes from women, since we care less about reproductive rights than the more important issue of... cut taxes for the wealthy.

Dear Atrios: Why are you not paying attention when I keep trying to tell you that Brookings has never been a liberal think-tank. This claim is right-wing spin. Stop repeating it. Brookings is a conservative think-tank. Don't compare it with AEI, which is not a think-tank at all; it's a spin-tank, which is something different.

The Poor Man Institute releases a response to criticism of home-buyers who were suckered into taking out bad mortgages, and The Hackenblog explains about The Dukes of Moral Hazard.

Shannon Brownlee, the author of Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer, guest-posted the suggestion yesterday at Kevin Drum's place that doctors should be paid by salary only, rather than for care that is unnecessary, to reduce costs. There's a follow-up here.

Or maybe we just suck.

23:40 BST

Zombies in a sea of madness

Another ex-member of the administration, Jack Goldsmith, has written a book about how corrupt they are, and, despite the fact that he fully supports the Bush program, is up-front about their lawlessness - enough that even he found it necessary to object, and thus lose his job. Glenn Greenwald explains:

Their goal all along was to "get rid of the obnoxious FISA court" entirely, so that they could freely eavesdrop on whomever they wanted with no warrants or oversight of any kind. And here is Dick Cheney's top aide, drooling with anticipation at the prospect of another terrorist attack so that they could seize this power without challenge. Addington views the Next Terrorist Attack as the golden opportunity to seize yet more power. Sitting around the White House dreaming of all the great new powers they will have once the new terrorist attack occurs -- as Addington was doing -- is nothing short of deranged.

Contrary to the claims made by Bush and his followers ever since the NSA scandal arose, their real objective in secretly creating "The Terrorist Surveillance Program" was never to find a narrow means to circumvent FISA when, in those few cases, it impeded necessary eavesdropping. Rather, the goal was to get rid of FISA altogether and return the country to the days when our government could spy on us in total secrecy, with no oversight. Of course, until they could "get rid of" that law altogether -- through the only tactic they know: exploitation of Terrorism -- they simply decided to violate it at will.

More revealing still is Goldsmith's description of how the Bush administration systematically violated one law after the next -- employing tactics that are truly the hallmark of the most lawless third-world dictators [...]

They literally decided they would break whatever laws they wanted -- one law after the next, in critical areas -- based on patently baseless memos issued by obedient followers like John Yoo. Not only did they do this in complete secrecy from Congress, they refused even to allow Executive Branch officials who were told to follow orders to see the legal basis for what they were told to do. Addington, whom Goldsmith described as "someone who spoke for and acted with the full backing of the powerful vice president," would simply demand compliance with what Cheney wanted.

Read the whole thing.

The Financial Times has a story on how the Chinese have hacked the Pentagon's network. I guess everyone knows what our government is doing except Congress.

I don't know what's worse about this, the fact that Diane Feinstein let Trent Lott, of all people, convince her to vote a right-wing nut out of committee, or the fact that Pat Leahy let Arlen Specter snow him into delaying the vote. I don't get it. How can any of these people not know that you absolutely cannot, ever, trust the Republicans?

It looks like Paul Bremer is tired of carrying the can for the stupid decision to disband the Iraqi army - a decision he indicates was shared by higher-ups.

15:17 BST

I miss Bill Hicks every day

You know we armed Iraq. I wondered about that too, you know. During the Persian Gulf war, those intelligence reports would come out: 'Iraq: incredible weapons - incredible weapons.' How do you know that? 'Uh, well ... we looked at the receipts.' - Bill Hicks [quoted from]
General David Petraeus has also been arming Iraq. All of it. All the different sides that are killing our troops have been armed by the United States, trained by the United States. And then we are told that Iran is doing it. So we can attack Iran. So we can kill a lot more people because George Bush and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld screwed the pooch in Iraq and no one can admit it.

The real responsibility, of course, no longer rises to the top. The people who will have to take full responsibility for every stupid decision at the top won't be the ones who made those decisions.

Chris Collins at McClatchy says, "South of Baghdad, U.S. troops find fatigue, frustration":

"Even though we've out-stayed our welcome, in the big picture of whether we've helped or not, I know we have," said Sgt. Christofer Kitto, a 23-year-old sniper from Altamont, N.Y. "But now it's just in a state of quagmire. The U.S. time here has come and gone."
You can win every battle and still lose a war. The United States military is still good at winning battles. But the grunts can't win the peace. Individually, they can help locals, temporarily. They can do good things. No doubt most of these men and women can point to some good they did, someone they helped. But Iraq is not better for our being there, and every bridge that might have led to peace has been burned first.

And now they mean to destroy Iran. Will there be an "America" to stop it? Some say that's all over:

The destruction of America has been accomplished in the manner of a particularly skillful and diabolical con game: it has been done completely in the open. No one was fooled or misled. The ruling class has always stated explicitly exactly what they intended to do -- and then they did it. You didn't think they meant it, not really, not all the way down.

But they did. They counted on the great majority of Americans not to believe what was directly before their eyes, or to identify its full, inevitable meaning. Most of you obliged. Most of you still oblige. They could not ask for more.

And most Americans still don't believe the destruction has already occurred, because there is no thunderous crashing of chords, no widespread calamities or destruction (at least, not yet, although we've had some previews) or, as Chris puts it, it won't come "with jackboots and book burnings," or with "tanks on the street." Poor, pitiful, pathetic Americans: it isn't like a movie.

And yet, I refuse to write the obituary, refuse to lay down and die. At the very least, I figure we ought to go down fighting.

Besides, I still have this urgent wish to see that creepy smile wiped off of Bill Kristol's face.

13:06 BST

From our real liberal media

Robert Reich, "What Happened to Labor Day? A young person asked me not long ago -- only half in jest -- whether Labor Day was named in honor of natural childbirth."

Or The Rude One's version: "Yes, the Wobblies could go down Hyperbole Road with the best of 'em. Yet let's instead remember a time when labor issues actually drove large numbers of people to such passionate outpourings. Big Bill Haywood, the IWW leader and the toughest bastard ever to lead a strike, is beating on his casket to get out and kick some ass, showing America how the success of middle class white collar stock portfolios is a helluva lot less important than whether the kids of a woman, illegal immigrant or American, working three jobs are getting enough to eat." (Also: The Rude Pundit, unfashionably, finds he hates the sin and the sinner.)

Eric Boehlert, "Money changes everything" - Democrats are under constant attack for having money, raising money, or anything to do with money, but Republicans can openly say that they'd rather be fundraising than talking to voters, and the press just doesn't care.

Digby agrees with me that we should dump the electoral college. (Also: What do you do when the Klan and the Nazis demonstrate in Knoxville? Why, you bring in the clowns!)

Rachel Maddow's Campaign Asylum: Hookers Hookers Everywhere!

02:34 BST

Monday, 03 September 2007

What's up

Signs of the times, rest room edition.

A stark and unsubtle metaphor, (via).

BBC announces Doctor Who schedules for the next two years; gap in programming, but more Tennant.

Having learned of Bush's announced visit with Iraqi dignitaries, Digby discusses some bad ideas: "I'm sure that in rarefied Big Money Republican circles there is a lot of soul searching going on about what went wrong. They are looking at Karl Rove and Dick Cheney and others and they are wondering which decisions and wrong turns were the ones that made the difference. But if they really want to know what the truly worst decision was they need look no further than the mirror. They foisted this fool on the world when they all went down to Texas and decided that it didn't matter that he was completely unqualified by experience, temperament or intelligence --- he could be president anyway." And here: "Yesterday I heard David Frum saying we had to win to preserve American "prestige." I was in the car and almost wrecked it I was laughing so hard."

Two Labor Day articles from The Boston Globe: James Carroll on Labor's failure, and Robert Kuttner, with "For workers, it's no holiday: THIS LABOR DAY, America's working families do not have a great deal to cheer. According to the new Census report on economic trends in 2006, median earnings for fulltime year-round workers last year fell by about 1 percent, even with a booming economy."

It looks like Gordon Brown is arranging his own kind of one-party government, and it's the the tory party. No wonder they don't have to be serious about who they elect as party leader anymore.

Inspired by Pierce, below, I was just looking again at The Declaration of Independence. You know, every time I read it, I find some new thing it describes that Bush has been up to. It's amazing - we had a whole revolution to get rid of this, and our Congress can't even be bothered to impeach him for it.

"Free Market Anti-Capitalism"

22:01 BST

Get it if you can

I wish I'd known this early enough to alert my British readers, but if you have a copy of today's Metro, the HMV ad on the back page has a misprint on the price of the Battlestar Galactica season three DVD, just released here. Mr. Sideshow saw the ad and was so impressed by the £13.95 price that, thinking, "They won't last long," he immediately took a detour to the nearest HMV shop, brandishing his copy to the manager, who led him over to a display of boxes clearly labelled "£39.95". But you see, there's a truth in advertising regulation that if the customer insists on having the product at the advertised price, you gotta give it to 'em. And so it was. However, since the tube strike just started tonight at six, mere moments after Mr. S. walked in the door, it might be hard for many of you to take advantage of this.

18:48 BST

Port Salut on a Ritz

Apparently that link I posted to a DKos diary yesterday got vaped by Kos himself on grounds that it smacked of conspiracy theory or something. I don't know if the reasons were any good or not - my commenters have their theories, I suppose. In any case, someone managed to preserve it, and has posted "We Are Going To Hit Iran. Bigtime" elsewhere. You be the judge - as usual.

Astonishingly, Lanny Davis still represents himself as speaking for liberals while stumping for Ted Olson to be Attorney General.

I suppose it's no surprise to learn that Bush's nominee for Surgeon General, just aside from being a major homophobe, also turns out to be corrupt. (Not surprising, either, that the leaked Red Cross report could spell out the particulars for a war crimes tribunal.) Also: Trapper John and Hawkeye discuss war.

Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) - Susie Bright (whose site may not be work-safe) looks at a new book by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson, and interviews Aronson about its relevance to political sex scandals, and particularly Larry Craig.

I was never impressed with the song as I'd heard it on albums and just didn't think much of it, until I heard the smashing Brian Wilson cut from Live at the Roxy (2000), which I don't seem to be able to find on YouTube. However, I did find a pretty rousing version by the actual Beach Boys (sans Brian, I believe) from the 1980 Knebworth concert: "Darlin'".

16:53 BST

Oh, Lord, I want to be in that number

Charles Pierce:

My favorite word in all the world is "self-evident," as in, "We hold these truths to be self-evident." Mr. Jefferson is saying that the monumental heresies to follow -- all men created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienables, etc., etc. -- are so obvious that they almost don't need to be explained, but that he will explain them anyway. That word set freedom itself free, which was the case in New Orleans more than it was in any other place I can name. An America without a New Orleans is just Great Britain with better beachfront property.

This, I believe, is in no small part why an administration with a cramped and vicious vision of the country, an administration dedicated to the depths of its rotted, vestigial soul to making this country less free, an administration that has us seriously debating how much torture is enough and whether the president should be forced to abide by the laws he signed, an administration that would sell the entire constitutional order down the river for a three-point bump in a poll full of fools, would allow this particular city to be so grievously wounded and then die in recovery. What are we to make of a country that allows these soulless, vacant fools to govern it with impunity? We are all in New Orleans, now, standing in the wreckage of a graveyard. The sun rises hot and merciless. The help never comes. And New Orleans, the birthplace of our national soul, just turns out to be the place where they took our national soul to die.

15:26 BST

No rest for the wicked

Cookie Jill directs my attention to a piece by Steve Soto that raises this question: "Why is it acceptable for both the National Prayer Breakfast and the singular Senate prayer group to be sponsored by a group advocating Christian theocracy and elitism?" Since the leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination have all been a part of this group, maybe someone should ask them.

Steve Clemons has been sitting in for Andrew Sullivan, and is croggled by Bush's statement that he doesn't know who decided to disband the Iraqi army.

Jeralyn notes that Arlen Specter says that Larry Craig should not resign. C&L has video of Specter and Leahy expressing their views on the subject.

Buzzflash has an announcement for Paul Krugman's new book, The Conscience of a Liberal, which is apparently not a collection of his NYT columns.

The Sixth Brother

Avram says, "This bus has more living space than our apartment." Yeah, but where do you put the bookshelves?

This probably doesn't tell you much, but: "There was also a difference in the sort of kisses the two sexes preferred, with men liking wet, tongue kisses."

14:00 BST

All the last wars at once

A few things of note at No Quarter:

  • Brent Budowsky's "The Bad Judgment of Gen. David Petraeus", in which he says, "Gen. David Petraeus is a good man and a great soldier with a track record of almost complete failure in his previous tours of duty in Iraq. [...] As Petraeus prepared to issue what is called the Petraeus Report in September 2007, I am posting here the original Petraeus Report in The Washington Post that preceded the election in September 2004. Members of Congress should read this and judge for themselves. In my humble opinion, what follows, written three years ago almost to the day, is a compendium of misjudgment and analysis and forecasts that a reasonable person might call delusional, and even the most charitable person would call disastrously wrong, with disastrous consequences for those who served during the three years after this op-ed was written."
  • Ray McGovern's "Do We Have The Courage To Stop War With Iran?" In the wake of George Walker Bush's virtual declaration of war against Iran last week, McGovern says, "It is going to happen, folks, unless we put our lawn chairs away on Tuesday, take part in some serious grass-roots organizing, and take action to prevent a wider war - while we still can."
  • Sam Provance on "Why the Pentagon Doesn't Want Me to Testify About Abu Ghraib: As an Army intelligence analyst, my job at Abu Ghraib was systems administrator ("the computer guy"). But I had the bad luck to be on the night shift. And so I saw the detainees dragged in for interrogation, heard the screams, and saw many of them dragged out."

Ahmadinejad is an idiot, claims to have THE math. (And do they keep announcing nuclear advancement because they want this war? Or do they really think anyone will be deterred by anything less than actual offensive nuclear capability?)

There is nothing so secret about the spy program that the administration won't openly discuss it in order to gain from it, no matter that they claim it is too delicate a matter to tell Congress itself about, let alone let ordinary citizens know when it is being used against us.

11:57 BST

Sunday, 02 September 2007

Don't give your right name

Edwards: "no more illegal spying on the American people" - John stands up for the Constitution. (via) (And we are never getting out of Iraq, are we?)

There really is no such thing as "lower taxes", there's just you paying for it some other way.

"We Are Going To Hit Iran. Bigtime". Even the Marines are getting twitchy. And if they ask questions, they disappear.

PSotD has Another Labor Day question, and Charles has gone all poetry.

The Deal With Iowa is that while Democrats in general seem to support Hillary in higher numbers, that's not the case among likely caucus-goers.

What's it mean to be "fully insured"? For Jane Hamsher, it just bites.

Cheney Crop Art

So, this week caffeine is good for your brain - so what's the best source? If you get it from carbonated drinks, it seems that citrus has more than colas. (And diet colas seem to have more than regular colas. Pick your poison, I guess, but I won't touch artificially-sweetened drinks.) (via)

Fats Waller, "The Joint is Jumpin'"

21:26 BST

Perfect crimes

The other day, Barbara O'Brien did a post called "The Road to Serfdom", taking off from Krugman's (and others') discussions of Katrina and what Republican "governance" has done for us (and not neglecting a swipe at right-wingers who think they appreciate Hayek), which led to a long and fascinating thread, and yesterday she followed up with "Divided and Conquered". You should read them both and pass them along to as many people as possible, of course, but I wanted to highlight one quotation she posted from Mark Schmitt's "The real hypocrisy of Idaho's conservatives" that really encapsulates the bass-ackwardness of conservative rhetoric:

On the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we would do well to consider this statement from Jim Risch. He is currently lieutenant governor of Idaho and, if Craig resigns as expected, Risch appears poised to be appointed to succeed Craig immediately, which will enable him to run for the senate in 2008 (when Craig was scheduled to face the voters anyway) as an incumbent.

A year ago, Risch was the acting governor of Idaho. He told this newspaper's Oliver Burkeman how he viewed the victims of Katrina:

"Here in Idaho, we couldn't understand how people could sit around on the kerbs waiting for the federal government to come and do something. We had a dam break in 1976, but we didn't whine about it. We got out our backhoes and we rebuilt the roads and replanted the fields and got on with our lives. That's the culture here. Not waiting for the federal government to bring you drinking water. In Idaho there would have been entrepreneurs selling the drinking water."

Taken on its own terms, this is a cruel and unsympathetic statement, assuming that the deeply impoverished people of a city that had washed away could and should have just taken care of themselves. But if you look at what Risch was talking about, it's truly astonishing.

The dam that broke in 1976 was the Teton dam, built on the Snake River just a few months earlier, at a cost of $100m. (That's worth almost $500m today.) Built not by entrepreneurs, but by the federal government's bureau of reclamation. It was built at the political insistence of a few millionaire ranchers and potato-growers, whose political allies had persuaded the government to build a series of dams that transformed a desert into some of the richest and wettest agricultural land in the country. And it was built despite predictions that it would fail.

And when it did fail, it was not the self-sufficient entrepreneurs of Idaho who "rebuilt the roads and replanted the fields." It was, once again, the federal government. According to the government's official history of the incident, federal agencies quickly rebuilt all the irrigation systems, and paid more than $850 million in claims to about 15,000 people who had lost property in the flood.

We pay the taxes so rich people can spend our money.

Says Barbara:

The American electorate needs to learn two things, and fast - one, our fears are well founded; and two, we have a right to use our government - our government - to find solutions that work for us. And I don't mean by trickling down from some political crony's over-stuffed pockets.

17:35 BST

A bunch of news

One good American habit that seems to have crossed the water: Generals criticizing Rumsfeld's policies. First retired general Sir Mike Jackson comes out saying Rumsfeld's approach was "intellectually bankrupt", and then Maj. Gen. Tim Cross says it was "fatally flawed". And "Conservative legislator Sir Malcolm Rifkind said he backed Jackson's comments, calling Rumsfeld incompetent and attacking U.S. President George W. Bush for putting the military in charge of nation-building after the end of the war." Professional troll John Bolton, of course, disagrees.

NYT with a weird story about Bush's future, in which more strange things are said than I can count, but this is my favorite: "Mr. Bush said he believed that Mr. Hussein did not take his threats of war seriously, suggesting that the United Nations emboldened him by failing to follow up on an initial resolution demanding that Iraq disarm." Um, emboldened him to do what, exactly?

Steve Benen isn't convinced by the Republicans' claim of a zero tolerance policy on 'serious transgressions'. So far, they only seem to have a zero tolerance policy for Larry Craig. And, as PZ Myers notes, Ben Stein isn't even making an exception for Craig.

The neoconservative Washington Post wants you to believe that John Warner was a non-partisan visionary. (I particularly liked the part where his moderation is shown by his having been "first Virginia senator to support an African American for the federal bench, first to support a woman".) At Obsidian Wings, publius unpacks the real story of The Overrated Gentleman from Virginia.

Islamabad News For Musharraf - Bhutto says talks have broken down, and she and Nawaz Sharif (who Musharraf overthrew) say they're coming back to Pakistan. None of these are great exemplars of democratic leadership, of course, but...well, things are already pretty sticky.

14:33 BST

Whatever works

One of the things I honestly find baffling about the neocons is that they really don't seem to have understood (and still don't) that democracy doesn't just happen in the absence of, um, Saddam Hussein, or of whatever it was that they thought was hampering democracy in the USSR.

Alan Greenspan was genuinely surprised that the fall of the Soviet Union didn't simply turn into some sort of USA that talks funny. In 2003 I quoted William Pfaff (from an article that no longer seems to be available) about the neocons:

They resemble Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, who in 1997 expressed astonishment at the gangster capitalism that had emerged in the former Soviet Union, and which still exists. He said he had assumed that dismantling communism would "automatically establish a free-market entrepreneurial system."
Even though it had rarely happened in history, he just thought the people in power would give up the power they already had at the drop of a wall.

More recently, I've seen discussions of how people like Rumsfeld and Bremer were completely unprepared for the fact that Iraq didn't erupt into a child's garden of freedom once they'd toppled its despotic leader - despite the fact that they'd also wrecked the civil service, the water and electricity had been interrupted, and they'd relieved everyone of their jobs. Can they really not have noticed that in thousands of years, despite the presence of all sorts of capitalism, neither democracy nor individual freedom had been known to evolve out of thin air? Where did they think despots came from, anyway?

The question of whether they know what they're doing seems to have different answers depending on which strand you look at; on the one hand, their largest goal seemed to be to win the 2004 election, and they certainly knew how to do that. They also knew how to make the government as incompetent as possible (deliberately). They knew how to turn what should have been enormous PR disasters (9/11) to their benefit politically, and to turn all of their disasters into extraordinary profits for the likes of Halliburton.

But, underneath it all, I don't think they understood that if they wrecked our government, it would actually wreck our government. They have shown us in the former Soviet states and in Iraq what their ideology will mean to the people who actually have to live under it, and people have already begun to get an inkling of it happening right in the good old USA.

Do they know what they're doing? It seems that Karl Rove and his pals knew enough to realize that they did have to hoodwink Americans into voting for them and allowing them to get away with their policies, which is why they lie so consistently and do so much of their work in the dark. It's obvious that they understood the need to completely corrupt the Justice Department to protect themselves.

It's also pretty clear that they didn't really expect it to work all that well by itself, or we wouldn't have been seeing so many of George Bush's alleged votes coming from towns that had fewer people in them than the number of votes Bush supposedly got there, not to mention the mysterious "accidents" that happen to ballots whenever someone looks like they might try to count them.

They knew enough to get George Bush within a close enough margin that they could steal two elections for him. They know enough to stay in power for, apparently, a full eight years despite the fact that more than 70% of the country opposes their policies and wants them stopped. They know enough to manipulate a Democratic Congress not to take the steps that must be taken to stop them. They know enough to keep the media repeating their lies.

Who's to say they don't know enough to make sure that they don't have to face the prospect of giving up all that power in 2008? They don't have to win the hearts and minds of the American people as long as they know how to prevent the democratic process from working.

11:57 BST

Lingerie, warnings, and advice

Elixir de Lingerie by Lejaby Kyoto three quarter cup plunge bra

Bra of the Week

Kevin Maroney reads "Death Grip" to mean that Hillary Clinton has blown it: "It's important, now, to start preparing for disaster on a political level. It's vitally important for all Democrats--for all people who don't want to see a continuation of the current administration come into office in 2009--to lay the groundwork now so people will have a rational response to terror: that the current government is a failure and needs to be repudiated. And Hillary did the opposite of that. She conceded that fight implicitly before it even occurred. This is why we need better Democrats: because the ones we have don't even understand the ground the battle is being fought on." I think it's worse than that; I think they have themselves succumbed to The Fear.

Bush the Uniter has already united the entire Muslim world verbally by conflating them all with Al Qaeda, and, increasingly, united them in their hatred of US foreign policy and fear that our leaders really mean to make war on all of them. I expect they're not wrong.

Glenn Greenwald on the family values of Republicans, who apparently think that it means only being anti-gay and anti-abortion. But are they America's family values? No, and it's about time we made sure the media knew it. Democrats need to stand up and underline the point that Republicans are hurting families in everything they do, and none of us can waste time hating Teh Gay. (Glenn did a good interview with Rachel on this Friday, which you can listen to for the rest of the weekend and until Monday evening here.)

General Betray-us is the biggest PR scam of the year, and the Republicans already seem to be trying to turn him into their new presidential candidate. At least no one can say he hasn't worn the uniform, eh? But this isn't Eisenhower's war, and this guy can't even be trusted to take off the uniform if he gets into the White House. Via Eschaton.

Another undergarment concern was brought to my attention by Buck Batard.

01:27 BST

Saturday, 01 September 2007

Don't it make you feel bad when you're tryin' to find your way home

From Greg Palast:

"They wanted them poor niggers out of there."

With the help of Patricia Thomas, a Lafitte resident, we broke into an apartment. The place was gorgeous. The cereal boxes still dry. This was Patricia's home. But we decided to get out before we got busted.

I wasn't naïve. I had a good idea what this scam was all about: 89,000 poor and working class families stuck in Homeland Security's trailer park gulag while their good homes were guarded against their return by mercenaries. Two decades ago, I worked for the Housing Authority of New Orleans. Even then, the plan was to evict poor folk out of this very valuable real estate. But it took the cover of a hurricane to do it.

"When the Levee Breaks"

20:58 BST

Assorted fruit and nuts

In "A Guide to Media Manipulation, Republican Style", Paul Waldman spells out the sort of thing we're used to hearing from The Daily Howler.

Teaching sheep to get used to being herded, or a Moment of TSA surrealist zen @ LAX.

And speaking of stupid airport theatrics, Julia has an update on the Racist On A Plane story, in which it turns out that the scary Arabs were on their way back from Camp Pendleton where they were working with the Marines as consultants. Julia was not impressed with her apology, either. Anyone who flies these days is bound to look "mean" when they're at the airport, but that's not much of a security risk. (Continuing to piss people off like this might just do the job, however.)

Matt Yglesias and Jonathan Singer on the fact that "bipartisanship" is a function of two parties that once had a gentleman's agreement to keep certain people out of the system - and, we hope to see it gone, soon. (Thanks to Neil for the tip.)

Set phasers on stun! Man, we could use those "non-lethal" weapons instead of killing people if it weren't for those damned bleeding heart liberals.

There's a reason Representative Patrick McHenry looks like a gay caricature. (And you just knew those three dead GOP operatives in Orlando were gonna be another one of these kinky RNC stories, right?)

PNH, he IMs me and he says: "I CAN HAS HUGO AWARD" (!!!) [Award photo] Wheeeee!

19:06 BST

I say the comedy is that it's serious

Via bluegal at C&L, Sandy Underpants reports on this Whitehouse budget item flagged by GAO: "122(c). military grade happy face stickers -- $27.4 billion"

"For the first time in history, a Kansas governor stands up for LGBT people [...] "I'm sorry it took so long," Sebelius said after signing the order as she handed out ceremonial pens to us."

"Class Warfare: Making Sure That The Wealthy Get Their Share, And Yours Too" - If you wonder why some people think being poor is no big deal, just bear in mind that there are still folks pretending that having a color TV is a sign of a life of luxury.

Look, just don't negotiate with people who won't negotiate.

Demosthenes failed to be distracted by the bathroom sex stories from discussing the problems with the foreign policy community. (Also, killing discussion of an important topic.)

Blimey! With everything else, I completely missed the fact that Bush lied about I.F. Stone in his VFW speech.

Via The Generik Brand I see that David Rees has updated Get Your War On with a bunch of new strips. I particularly liked this one.

Jason Mraz, "The Remedy"

14:15 BST

Keeping us safe

Not much detail to this story, but I like the idea that if passengers are going to become hysterical and delay flights just because they hear people speaking Arabic, they get to be inconvenienced, too: "All passengers on an American Airlines flight from San Diego to Chicago were ordered off the plane, after passengers complained of hearing a group of Arabic-speaking Iraqi men. The Iraqis were questioned by police but released. All of the passengers had to stay overnight."

He's the Decider - he gets the blame: "The professional military guys are going to the non-professional military guys and saying 'Resolve this,'" said Jeffrey White, a military analyst for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "That's what it sounds like." White said it suggests that the military commanders want to be able to distance themselves from Iraq strategy by making it clear that whatever course is followed is the president's decision, not what commanders agreed on.

Via Cernig I see that They're working hard to keep our troops in the dark by blocking access to sites like Think Progress. No problem getting the right-wing sites, though.

12:10 BST

Word to the wise

"Astounding, even by the standards of this administration," says Atrios of the revelation that someone is passing out odd little fact sheets to Iraqi officials, U.S. officials and uniformed military about members of Congress who visit the Green Zone. "This is beyond parsing. This is being slimed in the Green Zone," Tauscher said of her bio. Says Amanda at Think Progress, "The bios also either ignore or completely misrepresent the lawmakers' records."

Paul Krugman: "Future historians will, without doubt, see Katrina as a turning point. The question is whether it will be seen as the moment when America remembered the importance of good government, or the moment when neglect and obliviousness to the needs of others became the new American way." [Paywall link]

John Judis explains why they taught Little George to say "9/11" a lot, in "Death Grip [...] Their first experiment was published in 1989. To test the hypothesis that recognition of mortality evokes "worldview defense"--their term for the range of emotions, from intolerance to religiosity to a preference for law and order, that they believe thoughts of death can trigger--they assembled 22 Tucson municipal court judges. They told the judges they wanted to test the relationship between personality traits and bail decisions, but, for one group, they inserted in the middle of the personality questionnaire two exercises meant to evoke awareness of their mortality. One asked the judges to "briefly describe the emotions that the thought of your own death arouses in you"; the other required them to "jot down, as specifically as you can, what you think will happen to you physically as you die and once you are physically dead." They then asked the judges to set bail in the hypothetical case of a prostitute whom the prosecutor claimed was a flight risk. The judges who did the mortality exercises set an average bail of $455. The control group that did not do the exercises set it at an average of $50. The psychologists knew they were onto something."

Keith Olbermann on the leaked GAO Iraq report, with Wesley Clark.

00:30 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, September 2007

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