The Sideshow

Archive for April 2006

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Sunday, 30 April 2006

Open windows

I've kind of lost track of where I got some of these, though I suspect the usual culprits.

Jane Hamsher on Ron Wyden's filibuster, and Christy Hardin Smith says Bush Tries "State Secrets" to Halt EFF's AT&T Suit.

EFF on another matter, The Season of Bad Laws, Part 3: Banning MP3 Streaming.

At MyDD, Matt Stoller on an attempt to regulate search engines, and Jonathan Singer offers a quote from Wesley Clark on why BushCo. went into Iraq: "I think they went because 9/11 was a monumental policy failure by the administration and going to Iraq was a cover-up for that failure." While I think, on the other hand, that they were always going into Iraq. Something that hasn't been discussed much is that the right-wing had a Thing about going back into Iraq ever since the previous Iraq war, and a lot of them cared considerably more about that then they did about abortion and queers. Although 9/11 was indeed a monumental policy failure by the administration and they certainly must have felt they needed one hell of a big distraction, of course. But they were killing a lot of birds with that one stone.

As seen from Just Above Sunset with an examination of the power of the media narrative BushCo. has provided.

Charles at Mercury Rising expands on that CAP article about depressed upward mobility in the US with American Dynasty. Land of Opportunity Turns Sterile.

Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest notes that one of the things that's been driving oil prices up is that Bush has been buying oil at these high prices for our strategic reserves.

Back when the right-wing was whining about the Oscars, Hughes for America had another good article on why this Medved-style nonsense is nonsense, "Movies and Middle America".

And thanks to Dominic (of) for directing me to Dan's review of an espresso-maker you might actually bother to use.

And I just noticed that John Kenneth Galbraith died yesterday at the age of 97. In case you missed it, the last five years (or 30, for that matter) are suffocating proof that Galbraith was right and those nasty little "modern" thinkers who've been dissing him are wrong, wrong, wrong.

11:37 BST

Where to go

Yes, I'm still mostly skiving off. However, the conversation seems able to continue without me. Over at Pacific Views, for example, Mary has picked up the thread with "Joe Klein hearts Bush," which quotes an interview with Klein and then finds an enjoyable review of the stupid book, from Jonathan Chait, which reminds us that: And then, after the election, Klein predicted that the result would be "a quiet, patient, and persistent bipartisanship," with no big tax cuts or Supreme Court ideologues. Klein suggested helpfully, "Bush could easily retain Lawrence Summers at Treasury and Richard Holbrooke at the United Nations." And this scenario could have easily come to pass, provided every other Cabinet-eligible American citizen had been wiped out in a nuclear holocaust. Says Mary: "The fact that Klein continues to believe in the inherent goodness of Bush is enough to show how completely cut off he himself is from reality. As Chait says: He is Karl Rove's ideal mark."

And eriposte has big catch-up post full of interesting links. And:

Conyers and 10 Ranking Members File Suit to Stop Budget Cuts that Violate Constitution, was what Thursday's press release said. Strangely, I see nothing about this story in the WaPo or the NYT, although Yahoo Picked up Conyers' blog post at HuffPo, and the story did appear in The Contra Costa Times and The Hill. (It's also at The Raw Story.)

I guess some bloggers are okay with the WaPo, as long as they are religious bloggers.

Who says economic news is dry and boring? (Thanks to Kevin Hayden (of) for the link.)

A word in your eye.

04:31 BST

Saturday, 29 April 2006

The bad seed

"Mommy Party" at Booman Tribune brings me back to my earlier thoughts of why I hate all that "framing" talk, especially when even the people who are supposed to be on my side fall for that "mommy party" talk. I believe in the original go-round, we were told that Democrats are the Mother and Republicans are the Father. As I later observed, this only works if the father you have in mind is a deadbeat dad.

The BooMan, happily for us, was joining Thomas Frank in stomping on Joe Klein, who, as you may know, has written a book with an amazingly stupid title:

I don't like Joe Klein. I might enjoy sipping a martini and having a cocktail weinie while Joe plied me with inside baseball stories on the Washington elite. But, deep down, I'd be suppressing an urge to kick his ass. Klein has a new book out called, Politics Lost: How American Democracy Was Trivialized by People Who Think You're Stupid. I haven't read it, and I don't plan on reading it. But, I just got done reading Thomas Frank's merciless review of it in the New York Observer. And it reminded me of why I don't like Klein. It also reminded me of why I don't like Howard Fineman, or Chris Matthews, or any number of guys of a certain age that pass for sage observers of American politics. Frank gets right to the heart of it, here:
The second fixed idea in Mr. Klein's mental universe is a persistent disdain for the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. This, too, is common sense for certain self-designated spokesmen of the 60's generation (remember the annoying "rebel capitalist" meme of the late 90's, in which the libertarian New Economy was supposed to be the final flowering of the counterculture?), and Mr. Klein duly assails "the mopey left" with their "down-on-America pessimism." He laughs off "state-run health care" as a "vegetarian notion" and, as he has done in his other books, heaps contempt on traditional liberalism-on the economic issues like education, wages and Social Security that once linked the Democratic Party to its working-class base. Economic liberalism, Mr. Klein yawns, is boring stuff-"jobs, health-care, and blah-blah-blah," is how he summarizes it at one point-pure boilerplate platitude that only a consultant could love.

...Liberalism sucks, authenticity rocks:

...This makes for a truly bizarre series of conclusions, the first and most important of which is the courageousness of centrism. Up until now, you have probably thought that when you saw Democrats dumping their traditional principles in order to run pallid, market-tested campaigns appealing to swing voters with rhetoric borrowed from the G.O.P., they were doing so because they had been listening to consultants, pollsters, focus groups and so on. Well-according to Mr. Klein, you have it precisely backwards. In Joe's world, the consultants and the pollsters and even the money are all on the other side, forever driving the cowardly politicians to the partisan extremes. Consultants on the Democratic side seem always to turn out to be liberals in Mr. Klein's telling, and liberalism itself is usually the sad result of a candidate listening to consultants. What the Democratic Party is in need of is what Mr. Klein calls a "radical middle" that talks truth rather than liberal platitude.

Yes, I'm forever being paid huge sums of money to advise the Democrats to support universal healthcare, and, as you know, they have been listening to me for the last 30 years.

Don't I wish.

Joe Klein doesn't even deserve to be elevated to the title of "Deadbeat Dad", because before you can be a dad - no matter how useless you are - you still have to have created something. No. The family member Klein looks most like - the one who sneers at the education and structure his family and community have worked hard to provide, and just wants to be able to spend money and buy neat toys and be irresponsible and thinks he can solve all his problems by pretending to be cool (and getting the gang together for a drive-by shooting if he feels like he hasn't strutted his macho enough lately) - is the one called Juvenile Delinquent Son. The fact that he thinks he can then turn around and get all priggishly superior at siblings who have actually been working for a living and trying to make their world better while he has been off partying and committing acts of vandalism just demonstrates what a useless piece of waste he really is. Back to BooMan:

Joe Klein deserves a knuckle sandwich for writing a book called How American Democracy Was Trivialized by People Who Think You're Stupid. No one is more responsible for trivializing politics and the seriousness of bland centrism on poor American lives, than Joe Klein. Klein thinks we're stupid....stupid enough to stay asleep while he and Fineman and Matthews and the rest of them sing us a lullaby about Republican manliness and the 'vegetarian' concept of a national health care system.
At least if Klein had been a dissolute daughter, he could have been something useful, like a hooker. Or he could have been the boy who keeps getting caught in mommy's closet, trying on her clothes, and grows up to be someone who wears gold lamé dresses and sings the title song from Cabaret in clubs, and thus provides harmless entertainment. (We could all sing along!)

But no, he's stealing from the wallets of his elderly parents and his hard-working siblings to buy the heady drug of right-wing approval - and still thinks he can claim to be sober.

12:21 BST

Friday, 28 April 2006

Sleepy Friday blogging

I have no excuses, I've just been skiving off, but it's hardly as if you need me with folks like Maha and Atrios and Digby covering so much ground:

So, is the HR guy at the RNC just staffing the GOP with people he met at these drunken gay sex parties? Or what?

I ask him how his ventures in cable television and sustainable investing are supposed to fit together. Gore responds with a typically long and sometimes philosophical filibuster that eventually circles back to the question. Central to Gore's philosophy are two inextricable beliefs: first, that "the world is facing a planetary emergency, a climate crisis that is without precedent in all of human history." Second, that "the conversation of democracy is broken." Fix the latter, Gore argues, and the chances of remedying the former improve dramatically. - Al Gore, profiled in Wired. As Eric Boehlert says, Wired owes Gore a big apology for that "invented the Internet" crack from Declan McCullagh in 2000 that did so much to bring us to this place we are in. Atrios watched Al's movie and has a bit of review - and wistfulness.

So, are low gas prices a bad thing? Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal on Wednesday afternoon said the crisis needs to be solved quickly or the oil is going to stay in the ground at a time when the country really needs it. (Thanks to Jay Hawkers in comments for the tip.)

FEMA Follies; or, Adventures with the Crony Fairy, sung by Maha Barb in harmony with Paul Krugman. (Interview with Robert Scheer, too.)

20:55 BST

Talk of the town

So, Drudge is pretending that books by liberals like Crashing the Gate (Kos & Armstrong) and How Would A Patriot Act? (Greenwald) don't do well, while Glenn Reynolds' book (whatever it is) is just beating them right up in sales. Digby and Jane Hamsher and of course Glenn Greenwald are on it, but I like to go to an expert, and it's part of Patrick's job to know about this stuff:

As of this morning, for Reynolds' An Army of Davids (February 2006), Bookscan reports 1716 retail sales and 2609 "discount" sales, for a total of 4325.

As of this morning, for Armstrong and Kos's Crashing the Gate (March 2006), Bookscan reports 2598 retail sales and 1804 "discount" sales, for a total of 4402.

In other words, despite the fact that it's been available for four fewer weeks, Kos and Armstrong's book has now clocked Bookscan sales in excess of Reynolds'. Notably, several hundred more full-price sales. This is leaving aside the fact that Kos and Armstrong's book is currently at #40 on Amazon, whereas Reynolds' is at #801.

Meanwhile, Greenwald is still at #1 on the Amazon best-seller list for books. (And in related news, Springsteen's We Shall Overcome is #1, and the Dixie Chicks are #6, on their album list.)

03:24 BST

Thursday, 27 April 2006

American scream

David Broder must be one of those inside-the-Beltway types who is heavily dosed-up, because he does things like produce a column about leaks in which he advises Bush to make clear that he will be less secretive - as if he is actually going to do it - ending with, "When he has given that signal, there may be fewer Mary McCarthys contemplating the costs -- and burdens -- of leaking to the press."

Bush isn't interested in that outcome, as everyone out here in the real world has already noticed.

Bush, like most Republicans, has no interest in actually making government work. Government is a means by which our money is collected and handed over to corporations and cronies. That's all. It's not supposed to work.

Of course, if Broder wants to keep his job, he'll soft-pedal any real criticisms of The Bush Corporation. The editorials at the Post will help him remember that it's better to mislead the public than serve any airy-fairy Fourth Estate purposes.

We can still get the story if we dig deep enough in the papers, but you won't see the front page telling us that the purpose of this administration is to eliminate any competence in government to serve the public. No, let's just make sure the EPA doesn't do it's job so Republicans can say, "See? Government can't do anything! You pay taxes for this and you don't get it!" After which they can safely eliminate the programs without lowering your taxes. Eventually, the programs will be gone and you won't be hearing all that anti-tax rhetoric anymore - it will be patriotic to pay taxes, again.

In the meantime, they'll demand that we fork over huge amounts of money in the name of national security (or "fighting terror", she laughed bitterly), while making sure that any measure that would actually protect our security is round-filed. I mean, it's not like we should worry about nuclear materials being illegally imported into our country, undetected, by people whose purposes are not friendly to our citizens.

So first you wreck the program, then you claim its failures are the result of the fact that "government programs don't work" - relying on amnesia about the fact that it worked just fine before they started "fixing" it - and then they decide we need to abolish it rather than putting it back the way it was when it used to work.

Oh, and just to make it seem like it's coming from sensible people, we have some specially-labelled "moderates" - one from each party - to make a proposal to abolish, oh, say, FEMA. Like Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Leiberman (R-DLC). And the start of hurricane season just a month away, too!

See, the government is so helpless that they are now unable even to remember who to bill. We'll just pass over the fact that it is, to say the least, a bit unusual to see soldiers returning from wars receiving invoices for equipment that is supposed to be supplied by the government. Oops! Just a mistake! They say. But this doesn't happen if you just give a damn. They don't give a damn. After all, they were already charging them for their hospital meals.

I see headlines like this - "Committee Will Probe Oil Industry Tax Records" - and I just laugh. I mean, what's likely to come of it? Not a lot.

No wonder you have to move to another country if you want a decent shot at the American Dream.

15:43 BST

Late notes

If you ever needed proof that Bush is bad for business, this is it. (It must also be proof that whatever haven the Bushistas plan to run off to after they destroy America is not open to Merrill Lynch. I guess they're not part of the club.)

"CSI: Trade Deficit" by Paul Krugman: Right now, forensic analysis seems to say that the U.S. trade position is worse, not better, than it looks. And the answer to the question, "Why haven't we paid a price for our trade deficit?" is, just you wait. (The Punctuation Police will be arresting Mr. Krugman for that last clause immediately. His editor at the NYT will also be charged.)

Magpie found the most interesting coincidence about gas prices in the US.

Correction: I meant this link, not the one about Hillary Clinton. (Sorry if I confused you, Duncan, but you know I don't want her to run and you should have known better.)

13:26 BST

Innerestin' stuff

John Amato of Crooks and Liars has been trying to get responses from journalists to Porter Goss' witch-hunt for leakers in the CIA. He got some interesting ones (including non-responses), and also refers to Fishbowl DC, which has Bill Keller's statement: I don't know how far action will follow rhetoric, but some days it sounds like the administration is declaring war at home on the values they profess to be promoting abroad.

There's a blog for Neil Young's new album that offers some album info and the news that, "Living With War will stream on beginning Fri, Apr. 28th. The album will be available at digital retailers beginning May 2nd. CDs will be available in stores early May."

Ari Berman: Fiddling while Iraq burns will likely only reinforce Republican stereotypes of Democrats as calculating, gutless and unable to develop a strong and sensible foreign policy that will protect Americans in a post-9/11 world. If Democrats once again fall into what Lake calls an "absence of articulation," the midterm voting--despite all the Republican scandals--could bring a replay of other years, proof of a party that has become so afraid of losing it has forgotten what it takes to win. Brzezinski reckons Hillary Clinton is trying to be a quasi Thatcher, and it's setting the tone for the rest of the party.

Go watch Pink sing "Mr President". (And then read everything else at Seeing the Forest.)

Digby has even more insanity from the anti-Plan B playbook and the right-wing nut machine. (Also a review of How Would A Patriot Act?)

Tony Snow Has A Gigantic Head. (Don't read while drinking something.) (via)

"Okay, LCD displays aren't supposed to get burn in, are they?!" (Via Epicycle.)

I nearly missed the fact that Tild~ has a new site - and another fine graphic.

Looks like Dave is tryin' to cut in on my turf with his Bra Ad of the Week, but he has a point. But do have a look at the cute item on Wacoal's front page.

I agree. Mark Steyn is certainly not good enough to be called such a lovely thing.

01:59 BST

Wednesday, 26 April 2006

Teenage sex cults!

Rachel already managed to astonish me this morning with today's first right-wing crackpot, Janet Woodcock, deputy operations commissioner from the FDA, who explained that she didn't want to approve Plan B because: "As an example, she stated that we could not anticipate, or prevent extreme promiscuous behaviors such as the medication taking on an 'urban legend' status that would lead adolescents to form sex-based cults centered around the use of Plan B."

You gotta say one thing for these people, they have a hell of an imagination.

(Also via Rachel: The New York Post didn't think much of the new Presidential Portrait. (I think he's holding a newspaper to remind people that we used to have Presidents who could read.)

18:40 BST

The Good Humor Man, he sees everything like this

My thanks to Monkeyfister (of) for letting me know that Robert Newman's History of Oil is now available for stream or download at The Dossier.

As of this moment, Glenn Greenwald's How Would A Patriot Act? is #1 at Amazon. Yay! Order it now!

Atrios says go read Alyssa Milano on Internet Freedom. It's short. (Didn't know they'd finished Charmed, either.)

Worthy cause of the day: If you have some bucks, throw them to Sadly, No! You know it makes sense.

Wait a minute - The CIA's statement about why they were firing Mary McCarthy didn't even say she was accused of leaking information on the prisons? Well, gosh, how did that get into the news stories, then?

Bush more toxic than Abramoff - even Dana Rohrabacher doesn't want to be seen with the Little Prince. (via)

Riverbend goes visiting: "For the first time in many years, I fear death." She said last night to no one in particular, as we sat around after dinner, sipping tea. We all objected, wishing her a longer life, telling her she had many years ahead of her, God willing. She shook her head at us like we didn't understand- couldn't possibly understand. "All people die eventually and I've had a longer life than most Iraqis- today children and young people are dying. I only fear death because I was born under a foreign occupation... I never dreamed I would die under one."

Mikey talks to the man from outer space.

13:27 BST


Only about two dozen of the hundreds being held at Guantanamo have any charges pending against them, but we now hear of plans to release 141 - about a third - of the so-called "terror suspects". Some of them were cleared more than two years ago of being any kind of a threat. Only ten of those imprisoned have actually been charged as yet. Everyone has admitted that most of the "detainees" are innocent, but for some reason we just can't seem to let go of them. Why only 141 are being freed is another unanswered question.

Rachel Maddow pointed out yesterday that Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC) has been unusually open about right-wing policies as he blocks funds for a memorial to the passengers on Flight 93: For Taylor, a large landowner in the mountains of western Carolina, the issue comes down to principle: The federal government is already the largest landowner in the country, and he believes that no additional tax dollars should go to more land buying for this or any other memorial. In fact, Taylor doesn't believe the government should own land.

Bill Gates is a Liberal? Factesque watched Michelle Malkin's video rant (so you don't have to) and learned many interesting things.

Wouldn't you just love it? (But only after the Dems take the House!)

You can listen to Thom Hartmann debate a conservative on whether healthcare is a right or a privilege.

11:42 BST

Tuesday, 25 April 2006

Stuff to see

One from C&L I meant to tip you to the other day, with Randi Rhodes and Lou Dobbs on nuclear testing. And the corrected Rummy Henny Penny link from The Daily Show I messed up earlier, which you really shouldn't miss.

Pam's House Blend on Al Gore's speech on equality (and on having a spine), "Al Gore's evolution on gay marriage?" Via Bearcastle Blog.

Gary Farber points out that there is a significant difference between the people who are defending Rumsfeld and the Generals who are calling for his head. Also via Gary, "Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly.".

Is US Being Transformed Into a Radical Republic? by Lawrence Wilkerson (originally from The Baltimore Sun), via BlondeSense.

FOX, running true to form, is apparently reluctant to report that the woman who protested at President Hu Jintao's appearance was arrested and may be charged with disorderly conduct, with a possible charge of "intimidating or disrupting foreign officials" (which carries a possible six months in jail) was still under consideration. Perhaps a bit too ironic after Bush's mention of America's alleged freedoms, including freedom of speech. Meanwhile, FOX is reliable when it comes to rushing to judgment if the accused is black. (And, of course, it's been open warfare against black leaders for quite a while.)

Oh, my, the WSJ shattered the spin on Medicare. Via Ezra Klein, who also tips us to Brad Plumer's piece on the usefulness, or lack thereof, of polygraph tests.

If Congress won't do it, the states will - Apparently, Thomas Jefferson made it possible for the states to trigger impeachment when Congress doesn't act, and a couple of states are trying to do just that.

The Sun has the big hot story on how Mick Jagger wouldn't give Bush his room.

Do You Need A $500 Vibrator? (I think Hal Davis tipped me to this, but I could be wrong.)

And a nice little picture, via Maru.

16:30 BST

In the 'sphere

"A Spy Speaks Out" - 60 Minutes interviewed a former top CIA official the other night, and the guy is pissed that Bush constantly tried to pretend his whole WMD fiasco was the fault of "bad intelligence": He says he saw how the Bush administration, time and again, welcomed intelligence that fit the president's determination to go to war and turned a blind eye to intelligence that did not. (Thanks to Mikey for the tip.) Crooks and Liars has quotes and video (and some other links).

Also at C&L: On the heels of a FOX poll showing Bush at 33%, CNN has him at 32%; Neil Young interviewed on CNN (Jane Hamsher is unimpressed with the interviewer), and Merle Haggard has a song he wants you to hear. It seems obvious that the spy fired for linking is the victim of a purge-pattern; in any event she denies being the source of the leak. Meanwhile, a link to Juan Cole, who says that John Fund is now smearing him.

Steve Soto, by the way, suggests that CNNs new poll figures are the result of a divorce between CNN and Gallup, and notes that, "Fifty-five percent of those polled didn't think Bush was honest and trustworthy."

The Fight for Internet Freedom - Taylor Marsh on how the big US ISPs want to break the Internet; "This is important," says Atrios. Matt Stoller has a round-up: The internet is open because private companies haven't been allowed to block content they don't like. Now the telcos want to make it so they can block what you see. I've always thought the libertarian types who talked like the Internet means no one can ever suppress free speech again were out of their tiny little minds. Yes, of course they can stop it, and they have been trying to for quite some time. If you're not screaming to your reps, it's going to slip through your hands. I can tell you all about how difficult it is to get a message out when you're working with hard-copy and very little money. You don't want to go back there, especially with postage costs now so high.

Uggabugga congratulates The Washington Post, "for writing a thoroughly pro-business, Social Darwinist, Free Market Fundamentalist, editorial."*

12:06 BST

Monday, 24 April 2006

How it looks

I was actually sitting there yesterday thinking, "You know, I would rather have my eye gouged out than read any more news right now." I mean, the idea of having to learn about one more atrocity...well, in some ways, eye surgery seemed like a holiday. Except for the usual terror and stuff, I mean. Anyway, it was un-traumatic and seems to have gone just fine. And here's some links I had open when I left:

Merle Haggard, not happy with the current political situation, via Cursor.

The Daily Howler, explaining why Richard Cohen's assessment of Gore's current near-perfect-for-President status is a bitter joke.

The Daily Docket and Tristam Shandy, blogs I have recently noticed that I'll be going back to.

BTC News, and A Tiny Revolution, which I already find very useful.

Israelis, Palestinians Reject Unilateral Withdrawals, for one more data-point on the conflict.

Geoff Hartwell, sounding better than he did in my kitchen on my dead strings, via an ad at Making Light, where I also found a link to Beware: Airpower theorists, which is the source of the cursor-following clock.

23:11 BST

Sunday, 23 April 2006

Five-point plan

Straight from The Raw Story, TIME: Bush's five point plan to 'rescue' his presidency:

TIME Magazine's Mike Allen outlines a "five-point plan" posited by President Bush's new chief of staff Josh Bolten to "rescue" the Bush presidency in magazines to hit newsstands Monday.

The five key points include:

1) "Deploy guns and badges" -- to play to the conservative base on illegal immigration, using the cloak of Homeland Security.

2) Make Wall Street happy through tax cuts.

3) Brag more ("highlight the glimmer of success in Iraq").

4) Reclaim security by playing tough with Iran (On Iran, "Democrats will lose").

5) Court the press (pffer Tony Snow of Fox News the job of White House press secretary)

Thank god they're the party of ideas, eh?

13:20 BST

Is it that time already?

Simone Perele Fidji half cup braBra of the Week

So, they let an actual blogger write the obit for Scotty's departure, and who would it be but...Ana Marie Cox. I'm not complaining about the article - in fact, it contains some insight - but, you know, Ana Marie Cox.

The Whistleblower Gets Whacked (Taylor Marsh at Firedoglake): Okay, let me get this straight. The Leaker in Chief, George W. Bush, can leak information to Lewis Libby, with no repercussions whatsoever. Deadeye can do the same. But a whistleblower, a member of the CIA's Inspector General's office, leaks the existence of illegal black sites to a reporter, because she feels something wrong is being done in the name of the American people, and she gets fired. Not only fired, but pulled out and identified as nothing short of a traitor. In other words, the Nixon rule really does apply. If the president does it it's okay, but if it's done by a whistleblower she gets fired, with humiliation and the "traitor" tag waiting for her on her departure. Even people who don't like Mary McCarthy are saying something smells.

You want privatization? I got your privatization right here: Then, I happened to notice that the company website linked to from the Louisiana vital records website is "a ChoicePoint company".

Mercury Rising with Athenians And Visigoths, Hugo Chavez, and Historical Revulsionism

David Bowie and Secret Machines (via)

Save $200 in 2 minutes and have the worlds best writing pen (or, the $15 Mont Blanc Pen)

Private joke.

11:11 BST

Saturday, 22 April 2006

Under the ice

My thanks to abi in comments for drawing my attention to this sentence in Greg Mitchell's E&P article, "Bush, a Crisis Almost Without Equal":

But rather than push impeachment for partisan reasons, the Democrats will actually put it off - for partisan reasons. An unpopular president helps their drive for votes in November, and everything else is secondary."
The horror is that they think this is like Gingrich and the impeachment of Clinton, which horrified most of the American public. They don't seem to get that Americans know it is not; that was a president whose private mistake the Republicans literally made a federal case out of, while this is an entire administration that has been corrupt, incompetent, and abusive of power. I don't think they'll hold it against the Democratic Party if they do their job.

Ezra Klein (gosh, he writes a lot of stuff!) observes that John Halpin and Ruy Teixera are correct when they say that, "a majority of Americans do not believe progressives or Democrats stand for anything," but asks, "But does it survive because Democrats lack principles, or because Democrats never tire of writing books, papers, reports and articles about their party's incoherence and how to fix it?" Like he says, the Republicans disagree with each other a lot, too, but they don't seem to have this problem. Yes, it's true they pretty much control the media and the pillars of government, but when they get out in public, they reserve their criticisms for liberals and Democrats, not for each other. What Democrats seem to do is talk process rather than policy, and criticize liberals and Democrats. Which is okay for us little bloggers who get no air-time and have mighty small pulpits, even if you're Kos or Atrios, but it's another thing when you are an elective official or party functionary - and one of the very small number of Dems that the public is likely to see on the air. Really, someone should tell these people: If you can't promote good liberal policies, just shut up.

In other news: I've just listened to The Led Zeppelin Legacy on BBC Radio2, and their website claims it's online, so you can listen, too - except that right at this moment, it doesn't seem to be working. Worth checking back later to see if you can get it, though.

22:40 BST

Joke Line

If you pop over to Tapped and read Ezra's assessment of Time magazine's in-house Bush-apologist-in-drag, "Klein V. Klein", you may be rewarded by reading the comments, as well.

And if you happen to be in the Beltway area next week, you might be particularly interested in this:

For those of you who live in the DC area, Klein will be at Politics and Prose on Connecticut Avenue on Tuesday April 25th at 7:00 PM.
Got that? Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW (just above Fessenden), Tuesday, April 25, 7:00 PM.

Go and give him a piece of your mind. Ask him why he misrepresented what happened with the improper mail-in ballots in Florida and why he has no criticisms of the way the Republicans illegally interfered with counting the ballots, why he has no objections to an illegal and murderous war, and how he can be so morally lacking as to want to talk about preemptively nuking Iran as if it were something you could even contemplate unless you were some sort of soulless, evil super-villain.

18:44 BST

Breakfast blogging

Jim Henley on the administration's willingness to work with terrorists (and in preference to diplomacy, too): Here's where my impulse is to say, "passing lightly over the utter moral bankruptcy of using terrorists to conduct `operations' in Iraq," but let's not. Let's dwell for a second. The Bush Administration has nothing against terrorism per se. You may, but they don't. The high-sounding rhetoric they pump us up with means nothing to them in practice. I don't know if they actually snigger behind our backs or if they just dissociate. It doesn't really matter. You hawks who think of yourselves as libertarians oughtn't to be surprised that government officials would lie to your face and flout your noblest impulses, but apparently you are sometimes. You liberals who have backed the Bush Administration in the name of "humanitarian" intervention shouldn't be surprised that the same people who populated the Nixon and Reagan administrations would get up to the same kinds of murderous covert shenanigans you hated in Southeast Asia and Central America. You don't have to be that naive. But you really ought to read that whole post, it's really meaty. (Also: I'm afraid the testosterone theory may really be the rock bottom of the whole mad mess. My experience is that men are never more stupid than when they are trying to impress people with how big theirs is.)

Really rich trove at C&L, as usual: The Daily Show with Rummy's Henny Penny routine; David Shuster telling Olbermann why he thinks Karl is a target of Fitz's investigation; Andrea Mitchell covering the CIA agent-firing as it broke; Neil Cavuto smearing Howard Dean; and many other good things linked in between.

Tennessee Guerilla Women has Bob Herbert on rendition and torture in "Our Dirty War"; Maureen Dowd's insights on Rumsfeld and Cheney; "I'm the Decider" (Koo-Koo-Ka-Choo) and The Decider Funnies; and Paul Krugman's "The Great Revulsion": But focusing too much on these proximate causes makes Mr. Bush's political fall from grace seem like an accident, or the result of specific missteps. That gets things backward. In fact, Mr. Bush's temporarily sky-high approval ratings were the aberration; the public never supported his real policy agenda. But Krugman pinpoints the real problem we face in trying to throw these bums out come November's elections: The Democrats will almost surely make gains, but the electoral system is rigged against them. The fewer than eight million residents of what's left of Red America are represented by eight U.S. senators; the more than eight million residents of New York City have to share two senators with the rest of New York State.

NewMexKen's Household Hints (Also via Ken, take The Week Quiz.)

13:24 BST

News and stuff

Via The Raw Story, AP is reporting that Condoleezza Rice could be in big trouble - "Lawyer: Rice Allegedly Leaked Defense Info": Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leaked national defense information to a pro-Israel lobbyist in the same manner that landed a lower-level Pentagon official a 12-year prison sentence, the lobbyist's lawyer said Friday.

And at Raw Story itself, "Ranking Democrat on Ethics Committee steps aside amid allegations". His letter to Pelosi says the allegations are politically motivated and baseless, but will take too much of his time to deal with to allow him to devote his attention properly to his job on the committee. Pelosi's statement says, "The allegations against Congressman Mollohan originate from the National Legal and Policy Center, which engages in highly partisan attacks on Democrats. These attacks are an attempt to deflect attention from the long list of Republican criminal investigations, indictments, plea agreements, and resignations that have resulted from the reported long-term and extensive criminal enterprise run out of House Republican leadership offices. The Republican culture of corruption has been ignored by the Ethics Committee for a year and a half following the decision of the Republican leadership to fire their own chairman and some Committee members for doing their job."

The Talking Dog has another interview with another lawyer for "enemy combatants", Jonathan Hafetz, associate counsel at New York University School of Law's Brennan Center for Justice's Liberty & National Security Project.

I see Joe Biden (is it something about the name "Joe"?) is doing the "I'm a man of faith but the Democratic Party is full of 'elitists'" routine for the cameras. VLWC is not amused.

A Lobby, Not a Conspiracy by Tony Judt: How are we to explain the fact that it is in Israel itself that the uncomfortable issues raised by Professors Mearsheimer and Walt have been most thoroughly aired? It was an Israeli columnist in the liberal daily Haaretz who described the American foreign policy advisers Richard Perle and Douglas Feith as "walking a fine line between their loyalty to American governments ...and Israeli interests." It was Israel's impeccably conservative Jerusalem Post that described Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, as "devoutly pro-Israel." Are we to accuse Israelis, too, of "anti-Zionism"? (via)

Via Kevin Drum, Laura Turner explains why it's so hard for Republicans to admit that global warming is a real problem: "Thus the conundrum: accepting the reality of climate change is one thing....But accepting that Al Gore was right about climate change, well...hoo... That throws a wrench into the personality-based Republican justification machine." (Also: some really good poll questions.)

Okay, how's this?*

05:05 BST

Friday, 21 April 2006

Joe Klein exists to make you lose the will to live

Subject Joe Klein - again

Dear TIME,

Are you aware that Joe Klein gave an interview in which he said:

HH: I just have never seen them on PBS. But nevertheless, Joe, what I want to talk about is reverse Turnip Days, moments where candidates were not candid, and I think it hurt them. I want to start with an episode I find odd not finding it here in Politics Lost, which is the Florida recount, and the disastrous attempt by Gore and Lieberman to throw out the ballots of the military. Was that not the sort of authentic moment where we saw the soul of the modern Democratic Party on display?

JK: I think that the Florida recount in general...well, first of all, you're right about that. I mean, too often, the default position, especially in the left wing of the Democratic Party, is to not respect the military sufficiently, and to assume that anytime the United States would use force overseas, we would be wrong

Don't you find it embarrassing that one of your most high-profile writers is unaware that the Republicans disallowed those same ballots in Democratic counties?

You are entitled to have all of the GOP flacks you want writing for you, but it is dishonest to have one representing himself as either an "objective observer" or as a liberal partisan when all he seems to know is RNC spin.

Of course, if you wanted to be a reputable news organization, you would not have someone so lacking in knowledge (or willing to spread lies), regardless of which party he professed to support.

And thank god for Digby:
Here we have alleged liberal Joe Klein being confronted by alleged human Hugh Hewitt with a comment that the Democratic Party's [black]"soul" was on display when it argued that illegal ballots cast after election day shouldn't be counted (for good reason, as it turned out.) Does Joe Klein argue that the Republicans staged fake uprisings and attempted to get the Cuban community to rise up (among many other things) thus showing that using the Florida debacle as an illustration of the "soul" of a party wasn't really a smart thing to do? No. Does he point out that the Republican party has a funny way of showing its "soul" when it supports torture? No. Does he laugh in Hugh Hewitt's supercilious face? Of course not.

He agrees with Hewitt. Indeed, this line is his foremost Scotty McClellanesque robotic talking point lately, called into use no matter what the question about the Democrats, whether it's about "soul" or nuclear war. Is there anyone in DC who can deprogram this guy? Or, at least officially relabel him a conservative so he an no longer be used as a liberal or "left of center" counterbalance on talking heads shows?

Just put the little weed out of my misery, please.

22:14 BST

Shuckin' and jivin'

Man, I hope Tyler Cowen meant this as a sort of "modest proposal" kind of thing:

Instead, the city should help create cheap housing by reducing legal restrictions on building quality, building safety, and required insurance. This means the Ninth Ward need not remain empty. Once the current ruined structures are razed, governmental authorities should make it possible for entrepreneurs to put up less-expensive buildings. Many of these will be serviceable, but not all will be pretty. We could call them structures with expected lives of less than 50 years. Or we could call them shacks.
Or read Bérubé - it has the virtue of being shorter.

17:35 BST

Stuff I saw

Iran made simple: "How is a trailer like a smoking gun?" pretty much says what I'd be saying if she didn't say it first. 'Cause, you know, in Kennebunkport, they have an old saying: Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice - can't get fooled again.

Maha's been thinking about how we can get through the next 33 Months. I sure hope we think of a way before Bush does to us what he did to Iraqi women.

What's going on at Six Nations Reserve? And there's more.

CathiefromCanada says: Amazing, isn't it? Now that Harper is Prime Minister, he's finding that the rigid, controlling, autocratic way Chretien did things just makes so much more sense than the messy, controversial, democratic way Paul Martin did them -- like for the Prime Minister to appoint the committee chairs again. Laura concurs.

Mark Morford watches Bush get ready to make that last Hail Mary bet: The truth is coming out: Bush has now lost far, far more bets than he ever won. What's to be done? Why, do what any grumbling, furious, confused, underqualified alcoholic gambler does: reach down deep and say, "To hell with the nation and to hell with the odds and to hell with the rest of the planet," and pull out one more desperate, crumpled war from deep in your pants, slap it on the table and hear the world moan. Via The Low Road.

Greg at The Talent Show gets his hopes up again now that Democrats seem to be fighting tough and smart on immigration. (And, hey, remember this?)

I don't know about you, but this kinda puts me off sushi. I dig the Lego morning, though.

Horowitz's children are smearing Juan Cole to try to prevent any more critical thinking from being imposed on Yale college students. Jeez Louise.

John Amato wants help compiling Scotty's Greatest Hits; meanwhile, Keith Olbermann did one of his own.

More secrets revealed at Kung Fu Monkey: Canaries and Meth.

I actually found something at CorrenteWire that I completely disagree with. Go there and explain to Sarah why she has the Drug Problem totally bass-ackwards.

My condolences to American Stranger, and thanks for a lovely tribute to someone you loved.

How to keep your BandAid on all day, via What Do I Know?

Okay, how 'bout if I use this little star I stole from Maru?

15:33 BST

Open Windows

"28% of Votes Are Withheld at Times Company Meeting" is an article by Katharine Seelye herself in The New York Times, reporting on a little punishment for her paper: While the newspaper industry as a whole has been buffeted by stagnant advertising, flagging circulation and competition from the Internet, the Times Company's stock has fared worse than the industry's average in the last two years. Gee, I wonder why that could be....

Now Playing at the Zemblan Multiplex - Simbaud makes it easy for you to watch Why We Fight for free.

Inside Basketball: Wally Whateley explains why the Dems need to learn to do a Full-Court Press, and discovers that The New Republic really has gone mad. Funnily enough, Armando noticed the same thing over at Daily Kos.

Prometheus 6 turns you on to Jazz for people who say they don't like jazz, but discovers that Dispassion may not always be appropriate - although I'm not sure he was right about this one; sometimes you can go terribly wrong by tiptoeing around the truth.

"No Policy Is Bad Politics," says Bill Scher, who also says, "What makes less sense is that Rove is now being paid taxpayer money to work on an election - and to boot, an election for which his boss isn't even on the ballot."

Mikhail Kalashnikov gloats. (via)

Got your Anger right here.

That Colored Fella thinks the black community may have lost its way.

Left Behind: Still not creepy enough - when seeing God is just another PowerPoint presentation.

With the embargo out of the way, DownWithTyranny! finally gives us that review of Neil Young's album. (via)

"This too shall pass" - A key technique for staying calm during an argument. (via)

It makes perfect sense that even the FOX poll is finding that most people disapprove of Bush, Rumsfeld, and Congress - but why would they still approve of Condoleezza Rice? (via)

The Best Care Anywhere

How to Encrypt Your Email

05:04 BST

On my mind

Did I get around to seething at Steven Waldman for his ghastly advice to Democrats to "at least [...] pretend that they want to reduce the number of abortions" - as if this was something we had to pretend? All part of some general advice to Dems on how to win over the religious left, y'unnserstan'. The whole article is full of false assumptions and creepy insults, but the revolting combination of ignorance and dishonesty in that one sentence makes me want to fly right home just to slap the guy. Reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies is the whole goddamn point - of course we'd prefer if women never had unwanted pregnancies in the first place. That's why we keep trying to protect the availability of contraception. The real question is how it is that these people still haven't noticed that we've been talking about preventing conception all along. But advice to be dishonest, to "pretend" to a belief we do not hold, is not just one that lacks integrity, it's also bloody stupid tactically - if there is one thing we do not need, it is more people dancing around trying to pretend they believe in things they do not. (In any case, Elton Beard was more timely with this than I was.)

"Metaphors about deck chairs abound," said the NYT in Thursday morning's paper, apparently no more impressed with the White House reshuffle than Attaturk at Rising Hegemon. Jane Hamsher, inspired by Sidney Blumenthal's article about Fitzgerald's return to the subject of Rove, reckons these two things are related. And by Thursday night, (which was yesterday on this side of the Greenwich Meridian), Atrios informs me that: "On Countdown, David Shuster said that Rove is likely heading for an indictment."

Query: Will readers of this blog know, when they see one, to mouseover an asterisk that looks like this?*

02:54 BST

Thursday, 20 April 2006


At TalkLeft:

  • E-Mail Search Warrants Start Dec. 1 from Last Night in Little Rock.
  • Rethinking Sex Offender Registration - TChris says that the recent murder of two men in Maine, which led the state to remove its sex offender registry from the web, is leading some legislators to say for the record that maybe it's not all that smart to release this information to the public. (I believe I've previously mentioned the notorious case in Scotland where local vigilantes burned down a house where a sex offender was living - killing a child who was present, though the offender himself was not there.) And that's just leaving aside the fact that some so-called child-molesters on registries are actually just people who were slightly older than a girlfriend or boyfriend who was (barely) underaged.
  • FBI Wants Jack Anderson's Files - TChris suggests that this heavy-handed activity is because they just want to fish through his stuff, although they probably have no justification for doing so.
  • From Jeralyn, CIA Increases Data Mining of Blogs - apparently, there's a lot of conveniently-located information on the web that they can't find anywhere else. (Take that, WaPo!)
  • ICE Adopts New Image: Zero Tolerance - TChris notes that Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which has not much bothered to enforce laws against corporate officers who employ illegal aliens, is now claiming that they have "no tolerance" for such malefactors. Sounds like more administration PR, yeah?
Some interesting diaries at Daily Kos:
  • Mea Culpa from tazz: Last year some time, I had a bit of a flame war (not a particularly ugly one) with Kagro X about our efforts and obsession to impeach Bush. [...] I wish to take this opportunity to express to Kagro X that I was wrong.
  • The problem with Instant Runoff Voting seriously needs proofreading, but the point is a good one: It can still really mess-up your outcome.
  • Why my grandma hates profanity (and why you should care) from Nowhere Man reiterates a point I often make, even though I'm a practiced user of "profanity": Why, for instance, is the common term for sexual intercourse such a taboo to her? Then came another priceless reply: Can you imagine telling your worst enemy to go have a good meal? Well then, why would you want them to enjoy a different but wonderful experience? It's true that the common use of words referring to sex and organs as insults tends to be anti-sex and generally misogynistic, but that's just lack of creativity.
  • Nefarious Real Reason for Abstinence Program (w/Poll) - a fun little conspiracy theory. Or not.
At Correntewire:
  • Xan directs us to an excellent Toles cartoon.
  • Shystee says "Bush's citizenship should be revoked until he learns how to speak English" and says Sadly, No! is giving us the Dr. Seuss version (but I was expecting something else - like this)
  • Sarah (who needs to work on the visual presentation of links), alerts us to this piece of Cheney corruption: Michael Kirsch (Notre Dame) points out an interesting aspect of the Vice-President's 2005 tax return: It appears that the VP is a major beneficiary of the Hurricane Katrina tax relief act. In particular, he claimed $6.8 million of charitable deductions, which is 77% of his AGI -- well in excess of the 50% limitation that would have applied absent the Katrina legislation.
The sparsley-updated Gore Portal has a number of items up, including Alice Marshall's posting of links for the material from the real President's MLK-Day speech at Constitution Hall (with video link).

At the group blog First Draft (as opposed to Tim Porter's First Draft, where you might want to read "If Newspapers Are to Rise Again"), Holden discovers some Republican Civility when a legislator's letter insults a constituent using an, um, informal word, but now the author just can't figure out how it got there. (And Athenae directs me to georgia10's post on Harry Reid's response to the GOP lies about their attempt to criminalize undocumented immigrants.)

13:53 BST

Hot stuff

I see Ron Brownstein at the LAT is catching up with us on the immigration spin story - the one where the GOP proposal to make illegal entry into the US a felony is actually a proposal to overturn a (non-existent) law making it a felony. I know it was already working, because my regular right-wing commenter Rich already repeated it in comments when I raised this issue before. Short version: Illegal entry is not currently a felony. Sensenbrenner introduced a law to make it a felony. Then the GOP caught the flack for introducing such a creepy bill, and tried to back-pedal it, and Democrats said, basically, "Oh, no, this is your proposal - defend it or defeat it." And then Hastert said, "However, on December 16, 2005, there were 191 House Democrats who voted to oppose House Republican efforts to reduce the crime of unlawful presence in the United States from a felony to a misdemeanor. Instead, they voted to make felons out of all of those who remain in our country illegally." This is a lie. If the Republicans didn't want to make unlawful presence in the United States a felony, all they had to do was defeat their own bill. (Thanks to Val of Nthposition for the tip.)

Interesting. Judd Legum reports that Tim Russert: revealed two very interesting pieces of information this morning on Don Imus regarding the future of Donald Rumsfeld and his standing in the Pentagon: 1. After Rep. Jack Murtha appeared on Meet the Press and advocated troop withdrawal several officials in the Pentagon called Russert to tell him "Murtha is right." 2. A source "close to the President" told Russert that Bush "won't fire Rumsfeld because it would be the equivalent of firing himself." There's a video clip. (Remember this, folks: Russert gets his talking points from the Republicans. If he's now giving us negative news about Bush and Rumsfeld, it means this is Republicans versus Republicans, not a sudden emergence of non-partisan balance on Russert's part. This is what you need to know about "liberal" media reporting - the RNC doesn't want to admit that criticisms of administration policy we are now hearing is not coming from liberals.)

Rolling Stone's cover story, by Sean Wilentz, "The Worst President in History? One of America's leading historians assesses George W. Bush" - the jury is still out, but it looks like everyone agrees he is worse than any president in my lifetime, so we have to go back farther than Nixon to find one who did so much damage to the nation. (via)

11:49 BST

Wednesday, 19 April 2006

So much to see

Richard Dunham on the Flight Of The Investor Class: Defections are endangering the GOP's hold on power: The President, who received the votes of 61% of investors in 2004, now gets favorable job approval ratings from just 43%, according to Zogby International Inc.

Maha has posted all those Lovely Lib Links - which are disproportionately to True Blue Liberal, which has been posting all those NYT Select items you really want. Like Krugman, declaring Exxon Mobil Enemy of the Planet: So how have corporate interests responded? In the early years, when the science was still somewhat in doubt, many companies from the oil industry, the auto industry and other sectors were members of a group called the Global Climate Coalition, whose de facto purpose was to oppose curbs on greenhouse gases. But as the scientific evidence became clearer, many members - including oil companies like BP and Shell - left the organization and conceded the need to do something about global warming. Exxon, headed by Mr. Raymond, chose a different course of action: it decided to fight the science. Also, Derrick Z Jackson's article in the Boston Globe about the what "reconstruction" really means: The great liberator of Iraq was actually the hyena that cleaned out the nation.

Bush hears voices - but he only actually listens to the imaginary ones. This is the clip of Bush declaring himself The Decider while defending Rummy for doing a heck of a job.

Steve Soto asks whether Democrats will do "another 'ostrich' routine on Iran" - and IOZ says yes. Henley doesn't expect more than the usual big talk followed by falling into line from Republicans, either.

Ezra Klein and Kevin Drum discuss the economic advantage for doctors of switching to single-payer (or anything else that helps reduce the administration costs of having to deal with a multiplicity of insurers), after finding a doctor who says so. That, and the fact that doctors would rather have the medical decisions back in their own hands rather than those of insurance companies. (BTW, if you wanted to hear Ezra talk about Al Gore and healthcare on C-SPAN's Washington Journal, but couldn't find the right link, this is it. Gratifying particularly for the fact that callers wanted to talk about the issues rather than about the horse-race. And Ezra makes a good point about why the idea of forming a third party is a waste of time and distracts from the real problem.)

My thanks to Kip for passing along this fun little thing.

Astute remark from Bruce Baugh in comments: Used to be South Park libertarians, too. I realized some while back that it was a textbook example of Situationist ideas about the Spectacle: feed them pop jokes, let them feel naughty, and they don't mind the manacles.

13:43 BST

Good questions

Carl Bernstein calls for bipartisan Senate Hearings on Bush, Now, in Vanity Fair. He makes an interesting point:

But the truth is we have no trustworthy official record of what has occurred in almost any aspect of this administration, how decisions were reached, and even what the actual policies promulgated and approved by the president are. Nor will we, until the subpoena powers of the Congress are used (as in Watergate) to find out the facts - not just about the war in Iraq, almost every aspect of it, beginning with the road to war, but other essential elements of Bush's presidency, particularly the routine disregard for truthfulness in the dissemination of information to the American people and Congress.
It's true: We don't actually know what their policies are. We know what they say, but they don't even say one thing consistently, unless it's "tax cuts". But even that's not really true - they claim the tax cuts go largely to ordinary working people, but in fact they go disproportionately to the upper brackets and to corporations - and to unearned income. Indeed, their program actually shifts a larger burden of taxes onto ordinary people. So what they say and what they do are two different things, even in this. And from what they do, it is questionable whether even their stated cause of fighting terrorism - or getting Osama! - can be found anywhere among their list of priorities.

(Remember, both before and after 9/11, Ashcroft chose to ignore terrorism and turn the entire DOJ into one big domestic vice squad. He did this with more than the approval of the White House. It would seem it was they, and not Democrats, who had that famous "pre-9/11 thinking" that dismissed terrorism, and that such thinking continues to this day.)

I am not optimistic that a desire to carry out their duty to their country will motivate Republicon members of Congress to join in bipartisanship, but Simbaud at King of Zembla suggests that a desire to rescue their sinking poll numbers and save their seats just might. (But will it matter? His majesty also notes the continuing trend for some states to actively refuse ballot verification of any kind. If Congressional Republicons know this, why would they bother?)

11:23 BST

Another late dawning

I remember so well how Richard Cohen went out of his way to concoct a negative impression of the 2000 Democratic presidential candidate, even using a minor passage in a Regnery book to denigrate him. Never did I imagine he'd someday be writing these words:

Gore insists his presidential aspirations are behind him. "I think there are other ways to serve," he told me. No doubt. But on paper, he is the near-perfect Democratic candidate for 2008. Among other things, he won the popular vote in 2000. He opposed going to war in Iraq, but he supported the Persian Gulf War -- right both times. He is smart, experienced and, despite the false caricatures, a man versed in the new technologies -- especially the Internet. He is much more a person of the 21st century than most of the other potential candidates. Trouble is, a campaign is not a film. Gore could be a great president. First, though, he has to be a good candidate.

In the meantime, he is a man on a mission. Wherever he goes -- and he travels incessantly -- he finds time and an audience to deliver his (free) lecture on global warming. It and the film leave no doubt of the peril we face, nor do they leave any doubt that Gore, at last, is a man at home in his role. He is master teacher, pedagogue, know-it-all, smarter than most of us, better informed and, having tried and failed to gain the presidency, he has raised his sights to save the world. We simply cannot afford for Al Gore to lose again.

Pity it took Cohen so long to find out. But we couldn't afford for Al Gore to lose then, either.

Andy Ostroy is convinced that Gore is going to run.

03:46 BST

Tuesday, 18 April 2006

A short rollercoaster ride

Thank dog for Henley. Because I really needed something to wash my brain out after reading Digby's description of the most disgusting thing that the anti-sex squad performed in front of actual television cameras. And that was after the bit where quoting the already-disgusting interview with a deranged anti-choice loon. Just when you think it can't get worse, the right-wing nuts expose you to whole new levels of creepiness.

So, as I was saying, Jim Henley has my undying gratitude for directing my attention to Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars reenactors, which is a truly wondrous thing.

18:05 BST

It's all news

Pulitzer punch: We're happy to see that the Sun Herald in Biloxi and The Times-Picayune in New Orleans won for their amazing coverage of Katrina and its aftermath. Dana Priest at WaPo got one for her exposure of black sites. James Risen and Eric Lichtblau got the big prize for national reporting for their story in The New York Times on domestic spying - and Powerwhine is claiming it's a Pulitzer for "treason". (I refuse to link directly to them, but you can find it at Memeorandum.)

Yesterday was really a good one for videos of political stuff on TV. C&L of course has Olbermann giving Michelle Malkin his World's Worst person award (and Media Matters has another one in which O'Reilly, Limbaugh, and Coulter win, place, and show), but possibly the best surprise was Joe Lieberman putting Colin McEnroe to sleep on the air. (Not so thrilling is Lieberman's ironic failure to recognize unbelievable extremism when he sees it.)

"I think it is a metal version of Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan... it's called LIVING WITH WAR... " - Neil Young.

Worthy causes: Elayne links to a couple of sites raising money, one with a T-shirt design, and another cartoon for SD to raise money to fight the abortion ban.

Dating service: Strange young man seeks smart brunette with petite feet.

14:34 BST

Bloggy goodness

Glenn Greenwald says Bush followers think they are Fighting all the Hitlers: To pro-Bush war supporters, the world is forever stuck in the 1930s. Every leader we don't like is Adolph Hitler, a crazed and irrational lunatic who wants to dominate the world and who can't be reasoned with. Every country opposed to our interests is Nazi Germany. From this it follows that every warmonger is the glorious reincarnation of the brave and resolute Winston Churchill.

Ezra was on C-SPAN and got to do some healthcare wonkery.

It's always a good week for hate, viciousness, and lies in GOP-land.

Susie Madrak says go read Matt Stoller about the outrageous bill to destroy net neutrality that six Democrats actually voted for.

Marcus is cheered to find a series of posts defending atheists on a conservative blog.

Man, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks the whole "South Park Republicans" thing sounds completely phony.

I tried to link to a page that had this a while back, but I seem to remember that it turned out to be accessible from the UK only. It's that wonderful little Animusic thingy.

Long-time readers may recall our surprise at the discovery of MiniKiss, lo these many, many months ago. Now, to my surprise, The Liquid List provides an update on them, as well as the news that there is also a Tiny Kiss.

04:03 BST

Monday, 17 April 2006

What they're saying

Ron Brownstein in the LAT: So as House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) prepared his border security bill last year, the Justice Department asked him to include a provision making unlawful presence in the U.S. a crime. Sensenbrenner, on the House floor in December, said the idea came from the Bush administration, and an administration official last week, speaking anonymously, confirmed his account. Jonathan Singer at MyDD wants you to remember that, since the Republicans have discovered their bright idea is so unpopular - and are trying to blame it on the Democrats.

You can't trust Tommy Franks on anything, even the subject of Douglas Feith, a man he once called the "stupidest guy on the face of the earth" but now describes as "brilliant".

When even Oprah Winfrey advocates raising the minimum wage on her TV show, you know something's happening: This is what people need to know. This is why New Orleans happened. This is why it happened, because you have people who were working - service people - minimum wage jobs. Working people who didn't have the resources to go anywhere. That's the point. That's the point. Katrina Vanden Heuvel thinks so, too.

Robert Parry says "George W. Bush IS a Liar": The White House is taking umbrage over new press reports that George W. Bush misled the American people on a key justification for invading Iraq. But Bush's latest excuse - that he was just an unwitting conveyor of bad information, not a willful purveyor of lies - has been stretched thin by overuse.

Also at ConsortiumNews, Brent Budowsky ponders A Gore-Zinni Unity Ticket?: In my judgment, the unity ticket with the strongest potential would have former Vice President Al Gore, a Democrat, in the top spot, and retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni, a politically independent military man who supported George W. Bush in 2000, in the second slot. In 2002, when many elected leaders in both parties joined Bush in his rush to war, Gore and Zinni had the clarity of vision and the political courage to go against the grain and propose alternative strategies, such as staying focused on fighting al-Qaeda, that would have better served American security.

Max has a piece over at TomPaine called "What Recovery?": Spring is here, and irresponsible politicians' thoughts turn to tax cuts. Back home in Maxland, he enthuses about "Websurfing in DOS (graphics without Windows, from Arachne), and asks, Am I a 'Cheap labor Democrat'?" (no, he's not), and raises a number of what the real issues are on immigration. Meanwhile, the Sandwichman points out that you can raise productivity by having people work fewer hours.

I was reading this article at Karmalised when I ran into a link to an interview with Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski.

Via Atrios, I see that TBogg was less dry than I was in his assessment of the Euston Manifesto. (And there's an entertaining and illuminating comment thread that isn't very long as yet, too. I was amused to see TBogg equated with "the old left".)

19:02 BST

The highlights

The Angriest Left - The Washington Post missed a bet by failing to let eRobin tell them how angry she is. (Thanks, KathyF.)

Keith Olbermann listed all of the generals who've been critical of the Bush-Rumsfeld performance and interviewed General Trainor. Crooks and Liars has the clip, as well as the clip of John Aravosis* facing off against Jonah Goldberg on CNN about Iran.

Rachel Maddow* says this morning that Mark Benjamin has been doing some good reporting at Salon lately. In "No justice for all", he asks a good question: Army investigators found "probable cause" that a civilian interrogator abused a detainee at Abu Ghraib. Why has the Department of Justice failed to prosecute him -- or any of the other 18 civilians suspected of criminal acts? And, with Michael Sherer, "What Rumsfeld knew" helps firm up the picture of what happens when "a few bad apples" are right at the top.

After five years of promises of good news that come to nothing, you'd expect a new strategy to emerge. No, he's not talking about Bush, he's talking about us. And he says we should be more like the French. Of course, that only works if your leaders have been raised to believe that leaders who distance themselves too far from the people get their heads cut off.

13:54 BST

In the mix

Rigby & Peller Grace full cup sheer underwired braBra of the Week

Think Progress provides: A good sign you've chosen the wrong person to run Iraq's 135,000 member police force: When asked whether he likes his job, he responds: "No. I don't want to keep it! They force me to take it. I'm a civil engineer, a merchant. I can't continue. I don't want to continue. My specialty is construction, industry. I want to rebuild Iraq.

Glenn Greenwald expands on the point that the right-wing is nastier than anything on left-wing blogs.

Why we are making war on Iraq: In essence, Iran is about to commit a far greater "offense" than Saddam Hussein's conversion to the euro for Iraq's oil exports in the fall of 2000. Beginning in March 2006, the Tehran government has plans to begin competing with New York's NYMEX and London's IPE with respect to international oil trades - using a euro-based international oil-trading mechanism.

I thought that if you deal with terrorists, you're a terrorist. Okay for some, I guess.

Anonymous liberal wonders Who Framed Ari Fleischer?

GOTV has an appreciation (and potted history) of Eschaton.

Skippy ran a little series Friday: God told me to hate you ( parts 2, 3, 4, 5).

01:31 BST

Sunday, 16 April 2006

The Wankington Post

Yesterday, The Washington Post blessed us with what is mostly a profile of My Left Wing proprietor Maryscott O'Connor called "The Left, Online and Outraged", in which our typical liberal blogger is portrayed as someone who, in a state of unexplained rage, types "[expletive]" a lot. On the front page.

To my astonishment, Maryscott didn't seem to mind, but I think Billmon has it right when he identifies the article as Payback for the fact that liberal bloggers embarrassed the WaPo about little things like hiring a plagiarizing hack and purveying false RNC memes as fact and what-all.

The Washington Post has a long story in today's paper (front page) about all those enraged liberals out in cyberspace who are doing completely crazy things - like blowing up federal buildings with truck bombs and threatening to kill federal judges.

Well, actually, who aren't doing any those things - but who are a wild and crazy bunch nevertheless, the Post wants the world to know, completely unstable and liable at any moment to fire off an extremely profane e-mail to a hard-working, God-fearing newspaper editor. Ticking time bombs of vituperation, in other words.

I haven't read the whole dreary thing, but the chosen examples I did see were pretty telling: Maryscott O'Connor of My Left Wing and the Rude Pundit.

Billmon does not linger long on one of my favorite hobby-horses, but I will: There is nothing in what Maryscott posts at My Left Wing, or in what The Great Rude One posts at The Rude Pundit, that sinks to the level of nastiness that appears on right-wing blogs - and I do mean on the blogs, not just in the comment sections. (It's fascinating to me that newspaper people never quite get it that comment sections are like letters to the editor of a newspaper - before they have been edited and a few selected for the op-ed page. Since of late WaPo is continually telling us that the comments they get are vituperative, abusive, and full of nasty language, mightn't we also surmise that the WaPo is just as deranged as the blogosphere?) You'd be hard-pressed to find a liberal blog that has a post on its front page advocating killing right-wingers, for example. But right-wingers do indeed advocate killing liberals, not just on their blogs, but on television and in books.

So how come the WaPo doesn't have articles about how deranged the right-wingers are? No, as I've said before, back in the days when the right-wing ruled the Internet, the Post was busy admiring how clever the right-wingers were for their use of the 'net to spread hate - and how, by the way, all that right-wing hate for Clinton was obviously not the fault of right-wingers being deranged but was purely the fault of Clinton, who for some reason just inspired all that hate.

Indeed, despite being the actual target of the right's hate campaign against the "MSM", The Washington Post actually arranged to provide an award to Powerline for having raised the question of whether the Killian memos used on 60 Minutes were forgeries - despite the fact that it has never been proven that they were not genuine.

Billmon does comment on the twisted nature of what we're being told:

In the Post article, Maryscott says at least one thing that is both true and wise, which is that her rage and her blogging are both "born of powerlessness." The problem is that Lord Acton's maxim is equally true in reverse: If power corrupts, so does powerlessness. It can lead to fatalism, apathy and irresponsibility - or to paranoia, rage and a willingness to believe every loopy conspiracy theory that comes down the pike.

The difference, I think, between left and right is that the right has no rational justification to feel any of these things, and yet many, if not most, conservatives continue to wallow in the mindset of a besieged minority.

Liberals, much less radical progressives, really are a besieged minority in this country. So why is it suddenly considered front-page news that they're acting like one?

The answer, of course, is that if the Maryscotts of Left Blogostan are evidence of the corruption of powerlessness, the Washington Post is proof positive of Lord Acton's original argument. Given everything that's going on around us, it's hard to imagine that anyone would believe the former is more of a threat to the republic than the latter. But I guess that's what the corruption of power is all about.

Media Girl points out that this is all part of the landscaping job the corporate media has been doing to shape the public's impression of their critics - "Describe, define, (dismiss,) move on."
What follows is what seems like an attempt at humorous caricature, painting a picture of a madwoman smoking a cig while trying to think up the most horrible awful thing to blog about. I don't know Maryscott, but I know her writing, and some of it is very powerful. Maybe she's really like this.

But doesn't the reporter -- David Finkel, fans -- really have any interest in exploring why?

The man completely misses the story here. He gets off on a shallow, mocking portrait of a day in the life of a blogger, and doesn't see -- or simply ignores -- that he's seeing a citizen trying to deal with today's politics, that blogging is citizen publishing, that millions of people are blogging.

And especially liberals, because the so-called liberal media doesn't consider it worth their while to represent the vast majority of Americans' views - except to define them as "deranged".

AltHippo starts with a quotable turn of phrase:

I was going to let this pass, but then over at Fablog, David Ehrenstein sliced and diced the latest from the Washington Post-It-Note, and I was frankly infotained
There are, of course a variety of purposes that the lefty blogs serve. Some, like Unclaimed Territory go into the kind of detail on domestic espionage that McPost should aspire to. Some, like Factesque, go into local politics, in eRobin's case Pennsylvania politics. The Sideshow uses links to tell a story about current events. Bullworth uses his blog to write hyper-linked essays which I would distinguish from blogs like Corrente or Firedoglake, which are more about the outrage du jour.

I would argue that in that last paragraph I just told you more about the lefty blogosphere than you would glean from Finkel's entire story.

One of the points that Finkel makes is that the Left is angry. That might be true. I'll say for myself that I waste a lot of time pointing out the disinformation and propaganda brought to you by the likes of Jonah Goldberg, John Hinderacker, Michelle Malkin, and Glenn Reynolds. That does make me peevish at times.

Which brings me to an interesting point: why doesn't Pravda on the Potomac do an article about the fundamental dishonesty of the rightie blogosphere? Or how they create an echo chamber using Bushie's talking points? That could make for an interesting Saturday afternoon read.

I bet it would, too. But if history is any indicator, that's not the kind of article they'd like to explore.

And, of course, just to drive the point home, it's time for The Weekly Howeller, in which the WaPo's nominal ombudsman tries to field complaints about that ridiculous editorial that danced the White House two-step about "good leaks and bad leaks". A few tidbits from Howell:

The Post editorially has supported the war, and the purpose of the editorial -- headlined "A Good Leak" -- was to support that leak as necessary to show that the president had reason to believe that Iraq was seeking uranium. The editorial said Bush "clumsily" handled the leak, leading to Democrats' "hyperbolic charges of misconduct and hypocrisy." (Don't expect newspapers to editorialize against leaks.)
I don't expect newspapers to editorialize against leaks. I expect them to know the difference between a leak and a PR operation, and to eschew the latter. (Although, in fact, Hiatt did editorialize against leaks - the real kind.)

We are no longer talking about a "leak" - the President of the United States doesn't have to leak. Leaking is done by whistle-blowers who are trying to expose wrong-doing by superiors who are in a position to take strong reprisals against them.

The reason the White House didn't want us to know who the leak came from isn't because they were whistle-blowers in danger of being unfairly held to account; it was because they were doing something wrong and just didn't want to get caught.

The passage in the Post editorial that sent war critics round the bend was this one: " . . . Mr. Wilson was the one guilty of twisting the truth. In fact, his report supported the conclusion that Iraq had sought uranium."
Jane Hamsher has made minced-meat of the factual problems with this already, but doesn't comment on the editorializing there or in this quote:
The editorial said Bush "clumsily" handled the leak, leading to Democrats' "hyperbolic charges of misconduct and hypocrisy." (Don't expect newspapers to editorialize against leaks.)
Readers who complained about the astonishing dishonesty and inaccuracy of the editorial were "round the bend" and "hyperbolic". We can't go a minute without emphasizing that people who criticize the right-wing slant of the paper are nuts. Strangely, they never have this same criticism of the fruitcakes who accuse them of supporting the terrorists.

Do they really wonder why people feel driven to the use of, um, robust language in response to this insanity, or is it in fact the effect they are trying for?

Update: Atrios notes that the NYT has published what gives every sign of being a direct response to the aforementioned editorial ("A Good Leak"). It's called, "A Bad Leak."

14:28 BST

Saturday, 15 April 2006

Bloggy things

Another entry in the "What took you so long?" category: "How To Steal an Election," discovered at last by The Washington Post. (And can someone who subscribes to Lexus/Nexus do a little research for Teresa?)

Uranium tubes, vans that could be used as mobile laboratories, centrifuges - what's the difference? Natasha at Pacific Views reports on the latest case of Bushista inflation.

The Poor Man blogs for the children of Canada. He also supplies a pointer to a very good post at BottleOfBlog explaining the real immigration dilemma - and the Republican strategy. On everything.

Deborah posted another article by the Cabbage a couple of weeks ago, which she seems to agree with, but which to me just says the Republicans are the party of despair.

I meant to say something back when Mr. Sideshow and Roz Kaveney both reported back that they thought V for Vendetta was a good film, but, hey, even Bill Gibson liked it. This only reinforces my feeling that people like Jonathan Ross who hated the flick were basing that on Alan's irritation with the filmmakers rather than what they saw on the screen.

20:32 BST

Lotta links

The trouble is that if Bush really does see himself as having a singular vision, as being the only person with the insight to recognize the necessity of war with Iran and the courage to make that war, then polls showing that Americans don't want it may only reinforce that feeling. It's a lose-lose thing: If he sees that we support his program, he takes it as right and proper support for his leadership; but if he sees that we all oppose his program, that just proves that he really is The One True Leader who sees what is hidden to the rest of us, and thus he must drag us all kicking and screaming into the glorious future. Or to Glory, anyway....

Mobjectivist tips us off that Rob Newman's "A History of Oil" will be shown again tomorrow (Sunday) night at 11:45 PM on More4. Someone should record this for distribution to the world.

Set the way back machine way back for another look at Rumsfeld's Rules.

Raw Story: Pentagon admits spying on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' protests. Well, I certainly feel safer, now. (via)

"The Euston Manifesto" - Well, I guess it probably can't hurt. But then, I could be wrong. (I mean, who knew that decrying sexual abuse of children would just turn into an excuse to sexually oppress anyone under 18 and anyone who socialized with them?)

Thanks to D. Potter in comments for the pointer to this obituary in Slate for William Sloan Coffin, Jr.

Neil Young's new album has a song called "Impeach the President"". (More here, (via)

Tom Tomorrow: Two sides to every story

So, is Zacarias Moussaoui the only actual member of Al Qaeda?

Justin Frank uses the F-word in "The Most Dangerous Gulf War".

Down in comments, it looks like everyone had the same thought, and we now have seven generals, and Some Number of Days in March and April.

Linked list of 2006 Hugo nominees. (Ah, and including Bob Eggleton's site. Wondered what he'd been painting lately....) (via)

Anne Zook is way Peevish about anti-choicers.

Right-wing losers

Boy, that Marshall Wittman has one helluva sense of humor. Or not.

Man Coulter, and the war on religion.

13:43 BST

Notes on Iran

Josh Marshall says he finally had time to sit down and give Sy Hersh's article on Iran a thorough read and it's even "more alarming than the advance billing suggested."

Greg Sargent wonders if Dems can come up with a unified message on Iran.

Bill Scher says we have to start Reframing the Iran Debate and emphasize that: "1. Iran presently has a strong, rational incentive to get nukes. 2. Iran has acted rationally and can be reasoned with. 3. There is plenty of time to negotiate. 4. The Bush Administration's word is not credible. 5. The way to stop Iran, without causing more death, destruction and instability, is to remove the incentives for Iran to go nuclear, and negotiate."

William M. Arkin thinks we need to be even more obnoxious toward Iran.

And I'm still doubtful that forcing Iran into opposition with the West is really that good an idea, full stop. Okay, so they become a nuclear power - would that be a problem if we weren't making it so clear to them that we are a belligerent and aggressive enemy? (Let's not forget that there is only one country actually threatening to use nukes against another country, and it isn't Iran.)

02:41 BST

Friday, 14 April 2006


There's a thought that's been in the back of my mind for a few months now, and I haven't mentioned it because I'm worried that once someone mentions it, people will actually start talking about it. And it's not the kind of thing I want to contemplate. But as more and more evidence mounts that our military people, from the top Generals to the grunts, are unhappy with Bush and his wars and particularly with Donald Rumsfeld, the smell was getting worryingly close to the surface. We've already had several Generals speak up (new one), and the military as a whole is polling at high dissatisfaction with Bush. I can't help thinking, "What if...?"

But hell, over the same period I've also been noticing many more terrifying prospects, and under the circumstances I'm not even sure why I think it matters anymore - and besides, now people have started talking about it.

Anwaar Hussain, for example, is talking about it in "On the possibility of a military coup in the United States of America":

Ever since Washington's warnings about the dangers of large military establishments in his farewell address, Americans have generally viewed their armed forces with a careful mix of awe and respect. For over two centuries that admiration was rewarded, and most Americans have come to consider the very idea of a military coup outrageous. To be sure, there always were eccentric conspiracy theorists that saw the Pentagon's hand in the assassination of President Kennedy, President Nixon's downfall, and similar events yet not very many Americans would think that a military coup d'etat in America of today is a tangible possibility.

That fact may be slowly, but surely, changing. According to a very recent Guardian report, for example, the US government is increasingly faced with a intensifying split between its civilian and military leadership over the war on Iraq after a fourth retired general called for the defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to stand down. This latest was retired Major General Charles Swannack, who led the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq. The other three were Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold, the former director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Major General Paul Eaton, who oversaw the training of Iraqi troops until 2004 and retired Marine General Anthony Zinni, the former head of US Central Command.

Fred Kaplan is talking about it:
It's an odd thought, but a military coup in this country right now would probably have a moderating influence. Not that an actual coup is pending; still less is one desirable. But we are witnessing the rumblings of an officers' revolt, and things could get ugly if it were to take hold and roar.
You say to yourself, "He has to fire Rumsfeld." But then you remember who we're talking about, and you wonder what could possibly make him do that.

19:14 BST

You think you know, but you don't know

You might want to throw a few bucks to The Black Commentator to make sure they stay with us and continue to give us articles that unpack some of those twisted headlines you see everywhere else. Like "The McKinney Affair: Rampaging Racism and a Cowardly Congress".

So virulent and shameless have been the attacks on McKinney - spewing caricatures of the six-term lawmaker that reflect whites' own hallucinatory visions of Black people - it leads us to conclude that racists are conducting a kind of ritual, an exorcism to cast the "militant Black" out of the national polity, once and for all. Disgustingly, a number of Black voices have joined mob, in order to prove that they are reasonable and trustworthy Negroes who won't intrude on white folks' illusions of innocence.

Most distressingly, the McKinney affair dramatically demonstrates that the Congressional Black Caucus has been eviscerated as a body. The CBC is revealed as collectively gutless, devoid of any semblance of Black solidarity, without which it has no reason for being.

McKinney was obviously the victim of racial profiling, as well as the victim of racism and sexism, when a cop interfered with her on her way into work. But the Democrats in Congress - including some black members - left her hanging out to dry on this. Yet they all must know what really happened.
Nobody knows better than Black officers that racism is rampant in the Capitol Police force. Of the 1,200 officers, 29 percent are Black, and many still have racial bias suits outstanding. "You have, basically, a renegade police department up here, that's been operating under the protection of Congress," said Charles J. Ware, an attorney representing the Capitol Black Police Association.

But it's not just race. Police officers, like workers in any organization, spend much of their time talking shop. For Capitol police, the subject of their shop-talk is the members of congress they are hired to protect. Cynthia McKinney is famous - no less so on Capitol Hill. She is the Black woman viciously branded as a friend of "terrorists," the most uppity African American in the federal legislature. The cops are quite aware of what she looks like, new hair-do or not.

A McKinney lawyer got it write when he told a Howard University press conference that his client was targeted for reasons of "sex, race and Ms. McKinney's progressiveness."

The cops know who McKinney is - they have profiled her politically. Michael C. Ruppert, former Los Angeles cop and current honcho of the popular web site From the Wilderness, has felt the police hostility directed at his longtime friend, Cynthia McKinney:

I have walked the halls of Congress with Cynthia McKinney maybe eight to ten times. I have walked into and out of the Cannon and Longworth house office buildings with her. I have walked to hearings in the Rayburn house office building with her. I have walked the underground tunnels from one of those office buildings directly to the edge of the House floor and its anteroom with her. I can tell you one thing for certain because I have seen it and I have felt it. Cynthia McKinney and her staff get treated differently from just about anyone else on the Hill. It's subtle, but so is the taste of dirt when it's in your mouth."
Oh, yes, they know who she is.
Does that happen to 535 members of congress "all the time"? Not hardly.

California Rep. Tom Lantos, according to the web reference site Wikipedia, "ran over a teenager in the Capitol parking area and refused to stop despite screams from the crowd. He never apologized for the hit-and-run either." The Boston Globe reported that Lantos was not charged with hit-and-run, but was only fined $25 for ''failure to pay full time and attention." However, a teacher accompanying the student was threatened with arrest by Capitol police when she chased Lantos' car, demanding that he stop.

Apparently Capitol police are quite zealous in protecting their lawmakers - if they are white.

In an otherwise inane, anti-McKinney article, Black columnist Earl Ofari Hutchinson gave some historical perspective to recent events:

"In past years, the Caucus raised heck when a white Republican Congressman punched a black Capitol police officer and a year later Ohio Democratic Representative Louis Stokes was hassled by Capitol police. And the Congressional Black Caucus rushed to their defense."
Not this time, not for Cynthia McKinney. The Congressional Black Caucus is broken.
And, clearly, they've been broken by the efforts of Democrats who just want black activists to shut up.

Even looked at in purely strategic terms, Cynthia McKinney could be a valuable resource for the Democratic Party if they'd just treat her with respect. It doesn't matter that she occasionally says things that almost no one else agrees with - after all, some of the white Democrats actually voted for the bankruptcy bill, and McKinney's never done anything that loony.

A word to Ms. Pelosi wouldn't hurt.

17:30 BST

Open windows

Save Parliament - and democracy - from the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill.

We can beat estate tax repeal - the polls have shifted heavily in our favor and it looks like a push-back like the one we had on cat-food accounts could do the job. Now, if only Josh Marshall wants to come in on this....

From Teresa at Making Light, "Seizing control of the debate": As Kayjay put it, "[A]pparently the conservatives even need instructions on how to be rude visitors." She was referring to the quite stunningly something-or-other How to Handle an Open Thread on Liberal Blogs*, by one Butler Thomas.

It's that time of year, and Simbaud finds another rant - this time linkable, by the author of that thing we can't possibly link to. (And congratulations, your majesty, on defeating the attempted palace coup.)

Former Senator Mike Gravel, who was once famous for things like reading the "Pentagon Papers" into the public record and proposing the abolition of the draft in the U.S. Senate, and campaigned for a guaranteed income, has announced that he's running for the Democratic presidential nomination. This would almost be fun if Gravel hadn't lately been advocating a flat tax and speaking to Holocaust deniers' events. His inspiration seems to be fury at the war. Oh, and Joe Biden has thrown his hat into the ring, too. (Why does he do it?)

Fat drunken slag - Viz comics used to run a strip called "Fat Slags" which featured some fat slags who had a good time and got laid a lot, unlike Sid the Sexist. There is something wonderfully ironic about Christopher Hitchens using the phrase to attack the Dixie Chicks. Yeah, you should be so lucky, you resentful little over-soaked candy-ass.

Greg Sargent on Joe Klein: One of the more devious verbal tricks commentators use on Democrats is to rhetorically box them in: Either Dems are too cautious and scripted, or they're too radical and hate America.

Alan Moore talks about being a pornographer (via)

William Sloan Coffin, Jr., dead at 81. That guy was a real inspiration in his day. I feel like I should have lots more to day about him, but I just don't. Feel free to contribute links to any post by a blogger who rose to the occasion.

13:01 BST

Thursday, 13 April 2006

Slowest morning on record

I've been having a bit of trouble getting myself together today. Here's some stuff you can look at while I grope around pathetically:

LiberalOasis on Condi's "Good Friend": Yesterday, Condi Rice stood next to Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo -- a man who has made Parade's "Annual List of the World's 10 Worst Dictators" four years running -- and called him "a good friend."

At TalkLeft: 1. So you serve the United States in Iraq and come home to discover you're on the no-fly list. 2. Supposedly, Moussaoui deserves to die because he had some knowledge that Al Qaeda was planning to fly airplanes into buildings. Let's not forget that the Bush administration knew it, too. 3. And more reasons to watch your language.

AT&T Seeks to Hide Spy Docs: In papers filed late Monday, AT&T argued that confidential technical documents provided by an ex-AT&T technician to the Electronic Frontier Foundation shouldn't be used as evidence in the case and should be returned. The documents, which the EFF filed under a temporary seal last Wednesday, purportedly detail how AT&T diverts internet traffic to the National Security Agency via a secret room in San Francisco and allege that such rooms exist in other AT&T switching centers. Thanks to Val (of Nthposition) for the tip.

Sanctity of Life Day explained (Thanks to Jay.)

How to shave (via)

Did I remember to congratulate the 2006 Koufax Award winners? Well, if I did, it can't hurt to mention them again.

17:03 BST

Wednesday, 12 April 2006

Watch for this

When I last saw Rob Newman, he was standing quietly behind David Baddiel while we talked about a TV special on pornography we were making, and the thing about Newman was that he wasn't that funny but he sure was pretty.

As of tonight, I know that neither of those things is any longer true. It's not that he looks bad, it's just that he's not drop-dead gorgeous anymore, and he's not hanging back and trying to look cool, so he's become a very, very good performer. And he's also had some sort of epiphany - he's not just talking about getting horny in the library nowadays.

I just watched this on More 4:

21:00 Robert Newman's History of Oil
This innovative history programme is based on Robert Newman's stand-up act and supported by resourceful archive sequences and stills with satirical impersonations of historical figures - from Mayan priests to Archduke Ferdinand.
It's funny, except for the part where you realize everything he's saying is true and that we are doomed.

I was hoping to find a more substantial link for you, but that little squib in today's schedule was all they had. I just wrote to them and asked if they were making it available to a wider audience. It's good. It's smart. And it's terrifying.

23:52 BST

Your happenin' world

Brad Plumer in Mother Jones, "Explaining Away Stagnant Wages": Every now and again, the Bush administration or some other booster of the current economy will argue that wages aren't really stagnating, as they appear to be to anyone who looks at the numbers. Rather, workers are just receiving more and more of their compensation in health care benefits. Trouble is, that's not true. Via (Big Media) Ezra, who also illuminates how the Democrats played a little hardball over the immigrant question.

Bill O'Reilly, pagan defender, is worried about the War on Oestre. I hope he goes after that bum George W. Bush, the grinch who stole the Easter Egg Hunt.

At Lawyers, Guns and Money, Scott Lemieux on high CEO salaries vs. the "free market" argument, and Robert Farley's "The Meeting".

Eric Boehlert has a nice little piece at the HuffPo called "Kerry's Painful 2004 Lesson: Ignore the Pundits." The trouble is that Kerry should have learned that lesson by the end of 2000 at the latest, and I don't trust anyone who hadn't.

Why Seymour Hersh's Latest New Yorker Piece On Iran Should Scare You Into Calling Your Congresscritters -- NOW. (Also: DeTocqueville's Nightmare: The Death Of The Middle Class.)

Bill Scher's Sunday Talkshow Breakdown: Last month, a RNC memo instructed congressional Republicans not to "driv[e] a wedge between themselves and the President" because "If he drops, we all drop." Looks like a lot of folks didn't get the memo. Every GOP congressman asked about Bush's leak sought to distance themselves.

Rubber Stamp Congress - Watch Matt Stoller deliver a box of rubber stamps to Arlen Specter, so we can all be safer.

The Protocols Of The Elders Of Republicanism.

22:08 BST

I hate it when that happens

It's pretty bad when Newsarama can ask Howard Chaykin a question like this:

As you've said, you've never made any secret that Captain America is one of your favorite characters, but at the same time, it's safe to say that revelation can still catch some people by surprise when they think of your work on American Flagg!, Blackhawk, American Century and other politically charged works or stories that comment directly on politics. You've got the reputation of being fairly liberal in your views. Playing devil's advocate, how can Cap, a symbol of the country and all it stands for, be your favorite?
Funnily enough, Cap is probably my own favorite Marvel character (at least in the better incarnations). Here's Chaykin's reply:
Bear in mind, I consider my politics very patriotic. I refuse to accept the idea that patriotism has been hijacked, and is now the sole property of a bunch of people whose politics I have nothing but loathing for. I consider myself a very patriotic American. I don't have any love of affection for the people who are ruling us right now, but that doesn't interfere with the fact that I am profoundly patriotic. I love this country. I live here because it's the only great plural society that has ever existed, and I respect, to a certain extent, the others to have opinions, although I take this idea that everybody is entitled to an opinion is kind of ridiculous, because it's not an entitlement that came down from any sermon on the mount. Should we respect Hitler for his opinions because they were so passionately held?

No, I don't see any irony whatsoever in my love for Captain America. Captain America represented a profoundly patriotic idea in 1941, and just because the right wing has hijacked the concept of patriotism in its obsessive, insulting way, doesn't deny me the right to define patriotism by the terms which I believe are truly American, which is to say, liberty and justice for all, and freedom of religion and from religion.

I'm not going to say I couldn't have said it better, but that wasn't too bad.

18:44 BST

The tangles of my mind

Scott Lemieux's response to Jack Hitt's article on the Draconian abortion laws (and enforcement) in El Salvador is good, but I keep waiting for someone to lay it on the line: The anti-choice people have to dissemble about their real goals, and down-play the fact that the logical conclusion of a "principled" position for someone who believes abortion really is murder is to treat women who have abortions as murderers. They have no choice. They need to jolly as many people as they can into giving them enough support that they can pretend to be spear-heading a grass-roots movement (is that a contradiction, or what?), because no decent person actually shares their goals. Not that there isn't a significant minority (somewhere around 15%) of people who aren't decent, but you really, really have to think that controlling women is a worthier goal than saving the lives of people who have already been born to support the anti-abortion movement's obvious conclusions. They don't believe abortion is murder. Hell, most of the time, they don't even believe that murder is murder. "Abortion is murder" is just rhetoric. They don't mean it. What they mean is that women should not have control of their reproductive lives. Since that is not a saleable position, they must lie. The fact that they stop caring about the lives of babies within mere minutes of birth makes this obvious. The only people who they think it is possible to murder are themselves; the rest of us are just cartoon characters to them.

I forgot last night to credit Oscar Madison as the source of that little clock below. I really like those little clocks. I wanted to put one on the sidebar (if for no other reason than to remind y'all of what the time is for me), but I don't want to keep pushing the blogroll further down, and anyway I know there are still people out there refusing to download Flash. But it's just so cute.

Oscar also reminds me to see what Chris Floyd has up, and he's talking about Rumsfeld's role model and how Rumsfeld slandered him. God, where do they make these creeps? It's all Jack D. Ripper over and over again....

Someone should start making a list of all the spin we were hearing in the build-up to the invasion of Iraq that is now being revived with the change of one letter. And maybe even a list of all the times journalists provided, with a straight face, remarkably credulous reports of White House denials of supposedly tin-foil hat theories. Like the tin-foil hat theory that Bush was already planning to invade Iraq, no matter whether they found WMD or not.

Rachel Maddow says that for the past two nights, without any announcement, Tucker Carlson has not worn a bowtie on his TV show. I wonder if this fashion statement is a fashion statement.

13:30 BST

Ticking away

It's been bugging me that we keep hearing about how Mitt Romney's mandated health insurance scheme is miraculously going to provide everyone in Massachusetts with healthcare (and catapult him into the presidency). I'd read about it and it sounded pretty creepy to me, but I'm being told this is really great, and I haven't heard much dissent from that view. Until now, when I'm hearing James B. Steele talking on the radio and, thank the gods, at last someone is saying it is really creepy. Whew. Anyway, he's co-authored a book with Donald L. Barlett called Critical Condition: How Health Care in America Became Big Business--and Bad Medicine that looks like it should be good.

Billmon: "I've been trying to picture what the world might look like the day after a U.S. nuclear strike on Iran, but I'm essentially drawing a blank." Yeah, me too. Or, really, my mind just doesn't want to go there. George Bush is the ultimate Darwin Award winner. (via)

Wolcott on The Curse of Terri: I keep going back to the Terri Schiavo case. That's when I think the rightwing carousel began to break down and the painted horses lost their rhythm, pawing the air to no avail.

04:05 BST

Tuesday, 11 April 2006

Words and pictures

In comments, Robert wonders if people have noticed that we're hearing the "diplomacy first, military is just a last option" of pre-Iraq invasion days trotted out for a what looks like a new impending war. I'm sure I've seen this and other comparisons all over the net, but I hadn't much bothered to note them because they seemed so obvious. Now, though, I can't remember where I've seen them - anyone have any good links? (This is close, but not quite there.)

Oooh, dogfight! Joe Klein vs. Bob Schrum. Maybe with a little luck, they'll mortally wound each other.

Newt Gingrich is the latest far-left loony to want to get out of Iraq.

Stephen Elliot: "This administration is so used to not being held accountable that it means nothing to them to waste millions of tax payer dollars investigating a leak that they knew all along was their own."

The Rolling Stones' Rice Krispies ad from 1964, via Mark Evanier, who also supplies this excellent PSA, which goes very nicely with this BBC article I found earlier.

23:47 BST


Subject Joe Klein

Did Joe Klein really say, in public, that the message of liberal Democrats for the last 20 years is that we hate America?

If so, fire him. Fire him now.

(It's true, I just have no patience these days.)

20:28 BST

Damnations and diversions

Remember the famous phone-jamming operation during the 2002 election? Well, it looks like it goes up to Ken Mehlman himself, while he was operating in the White House.

Operation We Don't Care - I still can't think of a reason to propose doing anything for Darfur as long as these screw-ups are running things. If the last five years are any indication - and I'm sure they are - they can only make things worse.

I heard this clip on the radio several times yesterday, and every time I found my eyes going into a spin. Right up there with what "tribal sovereignty" means. God damn the man is a moron.

Donna at News Hounds on how Fox handled Bush's little public speaking exercise yesterday.


Fred Clark isn't too thrilled with what Teen Mania is selling, but he reckons it's probably worth the $55 for the kids who at least get to spend a couple days in San Francisco instead of at home. What he's even less thrilled by is the way the concept of the internal spiritual struggle has been turned into just another battle-cry against the rest of the world. (Or, to paraphrase Mose Allison, "Everybody's cryin' Jihad, when they don't know the meaning of the word.") "They'll know we are Christians by our love" apparently proved too difficult, so instead we've settled for "They'll know we are Christians by our bullying dominance of the public square."

Comparisons between the post-war occupation of Japan and the present war on Iraq just don't hold up. (Also: How Crazy Can He Get?)

News: 82-year-old Woman Given $114 Ticket for "Walking Too Slowly".

Neat photo.

More pics of Wales.

16:16 BST

The mote in Bobo's eye

Cabbage watch: Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon finds David Brooks tut-tutting at the injection of sociological language into the discussion of rape at Duke University. Really. Brooks says:

Several decades ago, American commentators would have used an entirely different vocabulary to grapple with what happened at Duke. Instead of the vocabulary of sociology, they would have used the language of morality and character.
Those would be the good old days, when in fact American commentators would not really have used the language of morality and character, either, because they would not be "grappling" with this story at all. Privileged white boys rape black strippers? Would anyone even bother to mention it? Would the news media have treated it as a story? Don't be stupid.

Not that Bobo knows the difference between moral and sociological questions:

You would then ask questions very different from the sociological ones: How have these young men slipped into depravity? Why have they not developed sufficient character to restrain their baser impulses?
Right, because understanding the backgrounds of people who do these things has nothing to do with sociology. Where did Brooks go to school, again?

Brooks bemoans a lack of chivalry, as if that figured heavily in this part of the landscape 40 or 50 years ago. Jill at Feministe knows better:

Now, I suppose that "chivalry," in Brooks' view, is actually a white upper-class male concept, and the chivalrous men are the same ones who have always had access to wealth and higher education (hence the line about how back in the good old days, colleges were focused on morality and character). So the chivalrous men are actually there to protect similarly-situated white women from the menace of poor and black non-chivalrous men. Which is why this whole "the boys lacked chivalry" argument is particularly applicable here, as opposed to, say, the Kobe Bryant rape case. Consider if David Brooks had written this same editorial then; how much sense would it really have made in that context? Could it even have been written?

His point, then, is that we should remove "identity politics" from our discussion of the Duke rape case, but then he launches into an argument that can only be made when we're talking about a particular, privileged identity. He continues to assert that men will not rape (or rape less) if they're given more power over women, ignoring the fact that these boys' power was what enabled and encouraged them to rape in the first place.

Shorter David Brooks: In exchange for shutting up and giving up this silly fight for sexual and racial equality, we white men promise that we won't rape. As much. Well, it won't get into the news, that's for damn sure.

A better example of how "chivalry" is a cover for dominance than this column would be hard to find. Hard to believe that this was published in the 21st century.

Lindsay Beyerstein at Majikthise:
I don't like to throw the word "stupid" around lightly, but Brooks is straining charity to its limits.
In other right-wing sex news: God Cures Horny Woman's Asthma.

12:29 BST

Check it out

Democrats can win in Virginia with that good-old Democratic value: fiscal conservatism - but they can still win in Virginia if they support affirmative action.

Helen Thomas throws out the first ball: Is the U.S. going to attack Iran?

Was it worth it? Salam Pax doesn't seem to think so.

No wonder they're spending as if they could just print more money.

Jay Rosen: They went to Woodward to leak the portions of an intelligence estimate that tended to exonerate them. The information they were sharing had gone bad. And yet they felt they could do that to Bob Woodward, give him bad information, the credibility of which had collapsed even within their own shop. Why? We already know that this Bob Woodward isn't the same Bob Woodward who helped build the Watergate case for us. So who is? That would be Murray Waas, says Rosen. Via this very good round-up by Steve Soto at The Left Coaster, where I also found a rewarding string of headlines. (Just for the record, the Sy Hersh of this generation is still Sy Hersh.)

04:13 BST

Monday, 10 April 2006


Firedoglake continues what appears to be a guest-posted series of Bigot of the Day posts with Matt O. (of The Great Society) profiling Charles Johnson of Little Green Fascists. (TBogg and Steve Gilliard immediately preceded him.) And Christy Hardin Smith brings us up to date with the latest on government propaganda, illegally funded with your money (from the guy who once told you he was emptying the treasury and giving it to the rich in tax breaks because, "It's your money." Except he didn't actually tell you who would really be receiving your money). Meanwhile, I guess Bush has come up with this new thing of secretly declassifying things. We thought it meant something different.

Mark Kleiman possessed by demons!!! Okay, perhaps not, but I think, in the circumstances, Joe Wilson can say anything he wants about Mehlman being a closet case when Mehlman is trying to smear him for having a sex life. (Also: This is Occam's Razor on drugs. Any questions? Note to Glenn Reynolds: Maybe it's just because Bush has betrayed our country, broken the law, endangered our intelligence assets, and committed a whole lot of acts that point out that the real failing of The New York Times is that they haven't condemned him enough.)

Alan Cooperman and Thomas B. Edsall say in this morning's WaPo that the Christian Coalition has seen its day, thanks largely to the obvious hypocrisy of its two big leaders, Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed. God, I hope so.

20:44 BST

The trail of lies

Yesterday's appalling WaPo editorial attempting to support Bush's new formulation that there are good leaks and bad leaks and that surreptitiously passing classified information to journalists was just the White House trying to "inform the public" was a hot topic in the blogosphere and came in for well-deserved ire on all the best blogs.

It does seem rather odd that an editor at the Capitol's leading paper would be unaware that if you just want to inform the public, you don't have to hand super-secret leaks to reporters under the table, because you have the magical ability to put out a press release. You can do White House briefings and babble at the gaggle and present it on the weekly radio address and hold press conferences and - good God, Hiatt, how can you pretend not to know this stuff?

Josh Marshall says: "But the authors of this editorial don't appear to read the news pages of their own paper or their best competitors. The clock has simply run out on any attempt to claim the president and his key advisors weren't acting in bad faith with their constant advocacy of an alleged traffic in uranium between Iraq and Niger. It's over."

(Meanwhile, says Josh, it looks pretty clear that the story in The Sunday Times is there to cover-up someone's - probably Italy's - participation in the creation of the Niger forgeries.)

"The new Washington Post editorial, an enormous turd that editorial page editor Fred Hiatt no doubt wrote, is such an unmitigated piece of BushCo. propaganda, such a giant bag of bullshit it deserves to be taken apart, piece by piece and beaten into the ground," says Jane Hamsher, who proceeds to do just that.

What's still hard to take is that this editorial appeared in the same edition of the WaPo with Barton Gellman and Dafna Linzer's article on the "concerted effort" not to inform the public, but to "'discredit, punish or seek revenge against' a critic of President Bush's war in Iraq" so that people wouldn't realize we were being dragged into an invasion that at best could be described as unnecessary, and certainly an unjust war.

John Simpson at the BBC on How predictions for Iraq came true: Just over three years ago, when I interviewed the Saudi foreign minister, I asked him why he thought the US was determined to invade Iraq. He said he had put the same question to Vice-President Dick Cheney. Mr Cheney had replied: "Because it's do-able". It was. The trouble is, undoing the kind of damage the Saudi foreign minister foresaw is proving very hard indeed.

12:58 BST

It's that time again

Chantelle: Chantilly half cup braThe Bra of the Week

My award for Most Ironic Column of the Week goes to Joe Klein, who asks, "Pssst! Who's behind the decline of politics?" and quite rightly answers, "Consultants." It's an anomalously good article and worth the read. But don't forget, it's by Joe Klein.

Crooks and Liars has the video of Sy Hersh on CNN talking about the invasion of Iran. (His article in The New Yorker is here.) And if you didn't catch the clip of Markos on the Colbert Report, here it is. He handled it pretty well, actually, although I don't go along with this business of liking anyone who's a Democrat.

Fred Clark explains why if you want to be a power player in the GOP machine, you gotta get that degree, and cheers the Archbishop of Canterbury for saying that teaching creationism in the classroom is "a grave threat to "the doctrine of creation."

04:03 BST

Sunday, 09 April 2006


Susie Madrak is obvously feeling much better, and has posted many interesting things, including quotes from an interview with Louis Uchitelle, author of The Disposable American: We are destroying the communal nature of our lives - that's what I'm trying to say in the book. I don't think we can stop the layoffs. We do live in a global society, there is a change; but were not dealing with this as a community, and in not doing that, we are going to excesses. There's lots more, including this disgusting tidbit about where Halliburton gets the water for our troops.

Faithful Progressive, Nuclear War Just Another Wedge Issue? : Serious American leaders in politics and the military need to speak out against any military action against Iran. According to the New Yorker piece there is more reason to expect that from the military than from the Congress.

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman say that, although the idea that elections may already have been stolen using electronic voting machines is still regarded as far-fetched, some elements of the mainstream media are at least starting to notice that the machines themselves are unreliable: But the fact that these publications are finally acknowledging the obvious, overwhelming mechanical "glitches" with these machines is at least a start. Now that the Government Accountability Office has confirmed electronic voting equipment is easily hackable for mass vote stealing, and now that the Times and USA Today have reported that there are serious mechanical problems, maybe somebody at one of these media outlets will finally come to the obvious conclusion: electronic voting machines are merely high-tech devices designed to steal elections. And that is precisely why George W. Bush is in the White House today. Via Peevish, where it is also noted that illegal circumvention of verification measures in Cleveland are being prosecuted.

Check out the letter to The Washington Post from Wendy R. Leibowitz complaining that the paper is Superficial on Immigration. Yeah, that, and a lot of other things. (And is RKF really giving people discounts for being "of faith"? Wow.)

The unknown songs of Jagger-Richards: The Guardian reports that the Chinese don't like all the Stones' songs: Start Me Up now joins four others from the Forty Licks album - Honky Tonk Woman, Black Sugar, Let's Spend the Night Together and Beast of Burden - on the don't playlist for tomorrow's concert at Shanghai's Grand Stage.

Christopher Priest's obituary for Stanislaw Lem, in the Guardian.

Was Aleister Crowley Barbara Bush's father? (via)

21:20 BST

Your choice

That Jack Hitt article we've been waiting for is out - "Pro-Life Nation". Depressingly, the total ban on abortion in El Salvador came about as part of the Catholic church's push-back against a movement to liberalize the existing abortion laws.

The legislative battle and its outcome did not escape the attention of leaders of anti-abortion groups in the United States. Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, the head of Human Life International, based in Virginia, is intimately familiar with the campaign in El Salvador and says that there are lessons for Americans to learn from it. For one thing, as Euteneuer sees it, the Salvadoran experience shows that all moves to expand abortion rights are pushed through by "elite" institutions of government (the U.S. Supreme Court, for example); by contrast, Euteneuer contends, when the laws are tightened, a grass-roots campaign is inevitably responsible. "El Salvador is an inspiration," he told me recently, an important victory in what he called "the counterrevolution of conscience."
But it seems more likely that, at least in America, the reverse may be true, as both the LAT and Atrios suggest. The elites are the people in charge, and they are always to the right of the people in general. And it also seems likely that Atrios is right when he says that many people who think of themselves as "pro-life" are actually pro-choice and just don't know it. I've certainly encountered a great deal of that.

14:50 BST

Crazy people

Anne Zook has been disagreeing with me about Cynthia McKinney, but I agree with every word she said about the Moussaoui case. (Yeah, I was wondering what Giuliani was doing there, too.)

Actually, the longer the Moussaoui case goes on, the more I think the guy is too crazy to have been put on trial, but I guess that's another story.

On McKinney, though, I'm grateful to Duncan for reminding me in comments that the reason we hear so much about how "loony" McKinney is has nothing to do with whether she is loonier than her colleagues, but rather because the Republicans make a big deal out of anything she says and the media runs with it.

Truth be told, they've all done and said things that mark them out as unhinged from reality. The Republicans virtually all do this every time they speak or act, and a significant number of Democrats still have some 'splainin' to do about voting for the Iraq resolution, for example.

And that's just one little thing. Barack Obama must be crazy as a bedbug to be running around pumping for that fruitcake Joe Lieberman (R-DLC) and cozying up to John "Pander Bear" McCain.

Much as we love him today, Feingold has never supplied a rational explanation for his off-the-wall idea that even if a president (who didn't even win the election) nominates John Ashcroft (John Ashcroft!), of all people, to be Attorney General of the United States, you still have to confirm him, despite the fact that he is well-known to hate the Constitution. A muppet would have made a better AG - the nomination itself was an unconscionable insult, and every single member of the Senate, had they been sane, should have refused to accept it. It would have been a good place to start setting the ground rules before Bush got the idea he could get away with any damned thing he pleased.

For that matter, how on earth did the Democrats in Washington think there would be no price to be paid for failing to get behind their party's nominee in 2000? And where did they get the idea that fighting their own party was smarter than fighting against these tories who are destroying our country? What's wrong with them?

01:38 BST

Saturday, 08 April 2006

What they're saying

Did anyone check out David Broder's live chat yesterday? It has some remarkable errors (like, when did Scott McClellan become a Senator?). And this is interesting:

Eugene, Ore.: Hello Mr. Broder -- What do you think America would look like today if the Republican Congress had prevented George Bush from invading Iraq?

David S. Broder: That is a hard question to answer. Obviously, the cost of the war s one of the major drivers of the budget and its deficits, and the news from Iraq--of continued violence--is a major reason for the president's low ratings. We don't know what Saddam Hussein would have done in the last few years had he remained in power, so it's difficult to speculate.

Admittedly, this would be a tough question to answer in any event, but Broder appears to believe that the term "America" in the question means "Bush", or at least "Bush and Iraq".

The Carpetbagger Report: OK, so the president authorized a top aide to leak classified information to a New York Times reporter. It's getting pretty serious play in the media. Dems are on the offensive, and Bloomberg reports today that "even some Republicans said they were concerned about the effect of the new disclosures." The next step is crafting a compelling defense for the president's conduct. How's that coming along? Not very well.

Digby: A reporter needs to ask the following question: If the president was willing to authorize leaking of national security information to reporters for political purposes, why should we believe he won't authorize warrantless wiretaps on Americans for political purposes?

Al Gore: This is really not a political issue, it is disguised as a political issue. It is a moral issue, it is an ethical issue - If we allow this to happen, we will destroy the habitability of the planet. We can't do that, and I am confident we won't do that. (More interestingly, the business community seems to be in Gore's camp on this.)

Chomsky: On the moral implications, the plans were reported on Feb. 14 in the front-page lead story in the New York Times. Two days earlier, the Times published a blistering review of Osama bin Laden's "morally outrageous" pronouncements, which reached the ultimate depth of depravity in 2002, with a message that put forth "the perverse claim that since the United States is a democracy, all citizens bear responsibility for its government's actions, and civilians are therefore fair targets." The reviewer, law professor Noah Feldman, is correct in describing this as ultimate depravity. The Feb. 14 story, and subsequent ones, have provided details on how the US and Israel have adopted Osama's "perverse claim," descending to ultimate depravity, and are proceeding to implement it.

14:45 BST

Friday, 07 April 2006

Last night's buzz

The big news yesterday was that someone who didn't want to "ask a question" about how Bush can be so damned wonderful actually got to address The Mule yesterday:

Q You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that. But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food. If I were a woman, you'd like to restrict my opportunity to make a choice and decision about whether I can abort a pregnancy on my own behalf. You are --

THE PRESIDENT: I'm not your favorite guy. Go ahead. (Laughter and applause.) Go on, what's your question?

Q Okay, I don't have a question. What I wanted to say to you is that I -- in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency, by the Senate, and --


THE PRESIDENT: No, wait a sec -- let him speak.

At this point it's necessary to go to the video, where you can clearly hear Bush saying, "let her speak," although the speaker, Harry Taylor, sure doesn't look like a "her" to me. Apparently not to whoever transcribed this for the White House, either, since they changed it to "him", although that's not what he said.
Q And I would hope -- I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administration, and I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself inside yourself. And I also want to say I really appreciate the courtesy of allowing me to speak what I'm saying to you right now. That is part of what this country is about.
Bush agrees with that last sentence and then goes on to defend the wiretap program in terms that were directly contradicted by Alberto Gonzales' testimony at the same time. My, what an exciting day it was!

And, of course, Libby's testimony is sure an exciting contradiction to Bush's often-stated objection to leaks, isn't it? Goodness, you just can't believe anything that guy says, can you? No wonder he's tanking in the polls.

I clicked on a link at for an article on Halliburton's War, but I was a bit disturbed to notice the URL was "". At a quick scan, it all looks true, though I haven't actually read more than a couple-few paragraphs. With events turning potentially against the war party, both on the ground inside Iraq, and on the diplomatic level with Iran, Vice President Cheney and the neo-con civilian apparatus inside the Pentagon made their move. In what amounted to a quiet, but deadly policy coup, Cheney and company killed the Iraq exit strategy and poisoned the dialogue with Iran.

Thanks to liberal in comments for alerting me to Bob Somerby's take: Unfortunately, Dana Milbank has it right in this morning's Post. What a disaster for the Dems! The party spends years chasing after DeLay. And when it finally gets Tom's scalp, it ends up debating Cynthia's hairdo! Will Representative McKinney get arrested? If so, it will be legitimate history - the first successful arrest by DC police in at least the past dozen years! But more seriously, this story has the potential to be Condit 2 - an essentially trivial matter involving one member which helps define the Democrats down, in a perfectly pre-scripted way. Democrats can't keep their pants on! And: Democrats hate the police! (Obviously, Chandra Levy's death wasn't trivial - but Condit's role in the matter always was.) And a reminder that McKinney is all too good at attracting the wrong kind of attention. Then again, other Democrats are really, really good at making it look like an even bigger deal than it already is.

15:25 BST

Can't we all just get along?

I'm sure you all remember the huge uproar in Congress and the media that time Bob Barr did this:

In the annals of congressional arrogance, Barr is a repeat offender. In 1998, The New York Times reported an incident in which Barr slapped a female security guard at the airport, after which his wife summarized her view of airport security: "They were all from other countries, and they were talking about me in their language...I thought, 'Hey, this is my country.'"
I didn't, either, although I do vaguely recall that there were all sorts of interesting things about Barr's behavior that never seemed to capture the imagination of the corporate media. Barr, as you recall, rose to particular fame as a leading blue-nose of the drive for impeachment of President William Jefferson Clinton - a role to which he was unusually unsuited. (Is Lieberman the only one left who hasn't yet been proven to have engaged in adulterous behavior himself?) In any case, Republicans of the time didn't seem to be particularly disturbed by members of Congress who abuse security guards. I guess it's, y'know, OK if you're a Republican.

And it's OK to be an out-and-out thug, too, and I guess it's no surprise that if they'd send a custom-made riot to stop vote-counting in a presidential election, they could just send a a couple "activists" to rough-up people at a Democratic candidate's press conference.

TBogg explores the possibility that conservatives might really be racists - inspiring, alas, a thread full of right-wing talking points. But one anonymous poster says, "But, here's McKinney's REAL CRIME."

And she didn't shoot anyone in the face, either.

13:37 BST

Open windows

Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest reminds us that there's another reason Cynthia McKinney had nothing to apologize for: Article 1, Section 6 of the Constitution of the United States says Representatives shall "in all cases" be privileged from arrest on their way to Congressional sessions. So here we have a Representative criticized - by Dems even - for literally pushing back against an infringement on the Constitution.

I heard Rachel Maddow's interview with Jack Hitt in the morning when it originally aired, but was disappointed to learn that the article they were talking about wasn't online yet. Fortunately, Atrios alerts us that Peek has posted about it and provided the opportunity to listen, as well. Hitt's upcoming article for The New York Times Magazine is about what it's like in El Salvador, where their ban on abortion is total, no exceptions, and women are put in jail for 30 years if they break that law.

Michael Stickings says the ground is shifting because liberals are fighting back.

Here's another blog I found: Candide's Notebooks.

Lost items: disappearing film, and sensory treats.

The Right-wing Seeks to Take Your Internet. And establishment Democrats know who the real enemy is - liberal bloggers.

And from Cursor: David Sirota sees "the beginning of a frontal attack by Corporate America on the progressive movement," in an account of the launching of The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution, "using the Democratic Party as an all-too-transparent cloak of legitimacy."

Corporate creeps of the day: British Petroleum.

Al Franken was a little surprised by Ann Coulter's dinner remarks prior to their debate.

Gary Farber practices the fine art of grabbing a bizarre quote from Powerlie ("DeLay was an effective leader, albeit too liberal in recent years"), and agrees with Matt Welch that the great meld of the blogosphere didn't last long.

Open Warfare On Frist From Fellow Republicans...

Creative stock-stacking

I've had a crush on Steve Winwood since we were both in our mid-teens. I couldn't find a clip of the Spencer Davis Group doing "I'm a Man", but I did find Traffic doing "Dear Mr. Fantasy" and Winwood doing "While You See A Chance ".

04:28 BST

Thursday, 06 April 2006

A couple of things

Bush Approved Leak of Iraq Arms Intelligence, Libby Testified :

President George W. Bush authorized disclosure of classified information on Iraq's weapons program to rebut war critics, a former top administration aide told a grand jury, according to documents filed in federal court.
The Smoking Gun reckons this includes the Plame leak.

From Democracy Arsenal: Last week, Karen Hughes gave an interview on National Public Radio's Morning Edition in which she described two "discoveries:" one, that much negative foreign opinion is driven by perceptions of the US role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and two, that Americans and foreigners must stand in separate lines in airport immigration, and that the process as a whole is not very "welcoming." Six years ago I would have found it simply incredible that someone in her position would not have known this.

17:15 BST

McKinney and the racists

I've been cruising various comment threads looking at the rationales people come up with for why it's all McKinney's fault, and it's really amazing how far some people will bend over backwards about this. Someone said it must be all McKinney's fault because she's not the only black woman in Congress and yet we haven't heard of them being stopped by Capitol cops. That only works if you assume that we would always hear of it when a black, female member of Congress is stopped this way. In fact, how many people knew that McKinney had been stopped like this before? It's only because she reacted physically to this particular incident that we have heard about it at all. Maybe that's because this is only the first time she was physically grabbed. We haven't heard those details; all we know is that a cop who should have recognized her failed to do so and that it has happened before. It may be the case that every single black woman in Congress has had the same problem but they didn't alert the media every time it happened. Or maybe it was even reported to the press, but it wasn't regarded as enough of a story to print. Or maybe it was even a small story somewhere, but no one picked it up. Or you just didn't notice it because it wasn't on the television news. But here is someone who assumes that means that it has never happened to anyone other than McKinney.

But let's take a look at our comment thread for the post below (which I want to preserve here especially because I have the free Haloscan account, and the comments expire after a while):

In every Congress, a pictorial directory of the Members is published so that employees can recognize them. When I worked on the Hill, elevator operators, some of whom were mentally handicapped, were required to be able to identify Members to ensure that interlopers did not use the Members-only elevators. If they could do it, surely it is not asking too much for the Capitol Police to be able to do so.
Vadranor | Homepage | 04.06.06 - 4:50 am | #
Yeah, it seems like that to me, too. Let's go back to McKinney's statement:
Sadly, there are only 14 black women Members of Congress. And surely our faces are distinguishable. But why my face is continually unrecognizable can only be answered by these offending police officers.Capitol Hill Police are given face recognition instructions as a part of their official training. Capitol Hill Police are required to recognize, greet, and distinguish Members of Congress as a part of their official role and responsibilities. In fact, according to the US Capitol Police, their mission is to protect and support the Congress in meeting its Constitutional responsibilities.The US Capitol Police mission statement makes no distinction about selective application of its mission depending upon whether a Member of Congress is black, woman, or has a new hairstyle.

But, honestly, this incident is not about wearing a Congressional pin or changing my hairstyle.

It is true that I have changed my hairstyle. It is true that at the time I was not wearing my pin. But many Members of Congress aren't wearing their pins today. Just in the last hour at least 8 Members of Congress have been spotted speaking from the well of the House without their pins and even more have been seen on the Hill today not wearing their Congressional pin. How many of them were stopped by Capitol Hill Police? Do I have to contact the police every time I change my hairstyle? How do we account for the fact that when I wore my braids every day for 11 years, I still faced this problem, primarily from certain white police officers.

This week's excuses for why it is okay not to recognize Cynthia McKinney even though it is fundamental to your job are just more racist crap. Someone decided that they needn't bother recognizing black women in Congress, or else someone knows perfectly well who she is and wants to put her in her place. Neither approach belongs in the Capitol.
When I went to visit my congresswoman, she wasn't wearing her badge. She didn't have any problem walking in.

More to the point, neither did her staff, who saw me over to the building.

The comment is dead right. One of the things which annoyed me when I was first in Korea was the PFC who, despite my going past her, two-three times a day, never recalled me, even though I was an exception to the norm (not being in the family of unit normally at that base).

It bothered me because it meant she was relying on things which could be faked to allow entry.

McKinney is one of a small handful of black women in the House, she has been there for years. Even if the cop was new, there should have been someone with the experience to tell him it was all right.

Did McKinney overreact? I don't know. I wasn't there (if she turned, looked and then struck/shoved, she overreacted. If she spun swinging, she might have; at that point the question is, "how much does she trust security... looking at this, not as much as they would like her to).
Terry Karney | Homepage | 04.06.06 - 6:11 am | #

I guess it also depends on what you think is an overreaction. When I've been going about my business and had some guy grab me (which happened to me a few times when I was in DC), I reacted pretty immediately, although I didn't hit anyone - I was too busy pulling my arm free. I wonder if some of these guys condemning McKinney are aware that being grabbed is something that happens to women who are minding their own business, and that McKinney could have been reacting as a woman rather than as a member of Congress. Add that to the paranoia a lot of people in the Capitol must be feeling these days (especially Democrats who remember that the offices of two Democratic leaders who were the targets of right-wing hate campaigns were targeted with anthrax), and you don't really have a formula for people to react with a smile to being grabbed.

But, really, McKinney is a small woman, and she might very well have learned walking down the street that a strong reaction is necessary when some guy grabs her. Most women try a lot of different strategies for avoiding annoying men until they find one that works, and my experience is that trying to be polite is not a good one unless you want to be a victim. The best outcome of trying to be nice in that situation is that you have to spend the rest of the day trying to get away from the guy. After a while, you learn that you can't put up with that stuff at all. Don't be nice to men who make you nervous, especially if they get physical, or eventually you'll be lucky if you just end up with the police taking pictures of your bruises and abrasions.

Well done.

If you came up with a model of how a racist would view the incident -- jumping to the worst conclusions, piling on with unrelated cheap shots, then going WATB when the word "racist" comes up, it fits precisely the way some liberals (*cough*johnavarosis*cough*) reacted.

People who reacted that way, I question their fitness to lobbying members of Congress on progressive issues.

The theory that it's good politics to pile on McKinney this way is that Democrats will alienate white voters if they don't.

But what about alienating BLACK voters, for crying out loud? That's a quarter of Democrats' votes, and joining the chorus of the usual Southern strategy suspects seems like a pretty good way to get them to stay home.
pseudonymous | 04.06.06 - 6:25 am | #

And, as far as I'm concerned, the willingness to ignore or alienate the black constituency on what you think are pragmatic grounds is itself racist. The fact that white Democrats are so unwilling to stand up for McKinney is just plain shameful. It's bad enough that they're cowards, but do they really think there is no downside to letting McKinney get pummelled by these right-wing loonies who keep attacking her? Those people are racists, and it's outrageous to see Democrats sitting on the same side with them.

Over at that previously-cited thread at Political Animal, someone said, "Can you imagine the uproar if Tom Delay had punched a cop ?!?!" And jayarbee said:

Yes, I can. FOX would be in a tizzy over the cop's rudeness and audacity. How dare he lay his hand on such an honorable congressman. He's lucky Delay is so forgiving or, instead of just pushing at the cop with his cell phone, he'd have knocked him cold! And while he'd have insisted the officer be fired, out of compassion and generosity he'd have decided not to press charges. Meanwhile, a full-scale smear campaign would be launched to show what a leftist hothead the cop was.
That's exactly right, and the sooner the Democrats learn this and that they must stand up to it, the better for us all. You can't appease these people, you have to fight back every time they do this crap. And liberal bloggers who talk about this stuff all the time should be really embarrassed to be falling for it now.

14:08 BST

In the House

Here is a picture of Martin Frost wearing his Congressional "pin" - looks like a cheap button anyone could counterfeit easily. It's not ID, and wearing it is not required. Congressional ID - which Cynthia McKinney did have on her at the time of the famous incident - is a tag with the Representative's name and photo on it. (And when men grab my arm, I'm not polite about it.) I say again: It is a requirement of the job for Capitol police to be able to identify members of Congress. Since only 10% of members of the House are black, and not a lot of them are black women, it should be really easy to remember who Cynthia McKinney is. (Read this comment from Political Animal's comment thread for an explanation of why being able to recognize members is a vital part of security.) Cynthia McKinney began her service in Congress more than a decade ago. If those cops don't know her face by now, they aren't doing their job. (See McKinney's statement here.)

I Count says: Ask Congress to Make Our Voting Machines Secure! Come to Washington, D.C. on April 6 & 7 to Advocate for H.R. 550 and Voter Verified Paper Records! Rush Holt explains why (and has a list of the 168 House members who are co-sponsors of the bill, including eight Republicans).

03:39 BST

Wednesday, 05 April 2006


Man, it's gorgeous out. Yeah, the wind is a bit chilly but there's sunshine and blue sky and stuff, and since I had to ride in to Broadcasting House to talk about pornography, it's great seeing the light bouncing off of all those old buildings.

Anyway, I just got back in, and Charles (of) left me a link in comments to Billmon's meditation on our Spiritual Leader.

20:03 BST

Thanks for getting me through all those dark nights, Gene

Gene Pitney appears to have died peacefully in his hotel room during a tour in Wales - after a performance which he had described as "wonderful". Best way to go, I reckon.

65 seems rather an early age to me, but the man had a long career with many successes. Pitney wrote and/or sang a lot of great hits (including two well-known title songs for movies, "Town Without Pity" and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance".) Something about his voice really brought home those heart-stricken lyrics, too.

And when you needed it, you could really rely on Gene to suffer for you. (Which you can hear, but not see, in that video where he lip-syncs one of my favorites, "I'm Gonna Be Strong". I bet he didn't look like that when he did it in the studio.)

Back in the days when I never imagined I'd someday have the most enviable love-life in the world, I really needed that guy. So, thanks, Gene.

15:16 BST

All the news in bits

Congressman Chris Chocola (yeah, I know, who can resist?), is a target of a MoveOn.Org ad campaign attacking the corruption of Republicans in Washington, "Caught Red-Handed". Chocola has responded with a series of lies, including the claim that MoveOn.Org "opposed funding to provide our soldiers with body armor, up-armored Humvees and other weapons needed to fight the war on terror" (no, that would be the Republicans, who rejected legislative efforts to ensure that appropriations to the Iraq budget would actually pay for such things) - and, most absurdly, a call to Democrats for help in stopping the ads. Democratic candidate Joe Donnelly isn't buying: "I find it hypocritical that Chris Chocola is now complaining about special and outside interests money after receiving millions of dollars in this same type of money in past years in his campaigns," said Donnelly in his response. (via)

Media Matters for America reports that persistent and increasing complaints about the heavy dominance of right-wing talking heads on the Sunday talk shows have born no fruit so far in 2006. (The Daou Report also made note of this, and I left a comment in response to another comment in the rather short thread that followed.)

Jim Henley has found what looks like it actually could be good news from Iraq, with an agreement by nine political parties to dissolve their militias and a reintegration plan. In 2004.

Like Billmon, I was pretty disappointed to see Stevens vote with the bad guys on the Padilla case. Did they threaten his children or something? There's no excuse for holding an American citizen incommunicado without charges for twenty-one months, and every single person who sits on a bench in America should know that.

The Nitwit Express: McCain responded by saying immigrants were taking jobs nobody else wanted. He offered anybody in the crowd $50 an hour to pick lettuce in Arizona. [...] "I was impressed with his comedy routine and ability to tap dance without music. But I was impressed with nothing else about him," said John Wasniewski of Milwaukee. "He's supposed to be Mr. Straight Talk?" (via)

13:25 BST

Late shots

I see the right-wing loonies in the House are now pushing for a resolution to praise the Capitol police for their "professionalism" in failing to recognize a member of Congress on her way to work. I don't care what anyone says, this is just exactly the sort of thing a professional working security at the House should have been prepared to go out of his way to avoid - by making sure he knew what the people he was supposed to be protecting looked like.

Jack Straw has a lot in common with Colin Powell, you know. He's another guy who managed to create an admirable image for himself that was entirely undeserved, but people didn't understand what his past was really about. I guess they were made for each other, with so much to share.

I can still remember when it used to be whispered that things like this went on, usually among particularly rough segments of the population. But I guess it's just part of Republican values, now.

What? Isaac Hayes was recuperating from a stroke when he supposedly issued a statement that he was quitting South Park? I missed that story.

Chris Floyd recommends another article by Robert Parry: As Parry notes, Rice confessed that the Bush Administration launched an unprovoked invasion and occupation of Iraq to effect a unilateral "regime change" for political and ideological purposes -- the same crime for which the Hitler Administration was justly condemned at Nuremberg. This action was and is illegal under the Nuremberg principles, the UN Charter and United States law. (Also, "An Unpardonable Offense": The Iraqi Kurds have clearly embraced George W. Bush's philosophy of liberty: i.e., it exists only as a gift from all-powerful state leaders, who can bestow it - and revoke it - at will. )

Why Wal-Mart won't sell you ribbons in those colors

03:30 BST

Tuesday, 04 April 2006

Public Service Announcement

Some of our readers may be aware that the FCC recently dropped a record-breaking fine on Without a Trace due to the appearance of a teen sex orgy on the show. However, you may be worried that since you've been protected from this episode, you'll never get a chance to see what all the fuss is about.

Fear not! Thanks to The Parent's Television Council, at whose behest this evil episode was censured, you can still see the clip (which has also been preserved by our civic-minded colleagues at WFMU's Beware of the Blog, just in case). The Poor Man Institute has researched the issue.

23:28 BST

We now return to our regularly scheduled program....

Sorry, I think I imagined I'd already posted, then I went out for a walk, then I got hung up on Battlestar Galactica.

Hey, did you notice that Froomkin quoted TNH? Neat!

Josh Marshall: We've barely scraped the surface in understanding how we got into this war -- largely because there's been no serious or independent investigation. And the dominant voices in the media are still willing to indulge the voices of liars on a par with those who are at least trying to grapple with what's happening.

More of the family jewels sold off: On March 9, Showtime and the Smithsonian announced the creation of Smithsonian Networks, a joint venture to develop television programming. Under the agreement, the joint venture has the right of first refusal to commercial documentaries that rely heavily on Smithsonian collections or staff. Those works would first have to be offered to Smithsonian on Demand, the cable channel that is expected to be the venture's first programming service. That's right, that means you don't have immediate access to your property because first-refusal rights have been sold off to Showtime. Via Economist's View.

Judd Legum de-bunks another disingenuous bunch of spin from George F. Will's column Sunday on climate change.

A seasonal message from Scaramouche. (And now that you've seen it, ask yourself: How did you ever live without one of these?)

18:40 BST


Just when you think you can go to bed, you find out that there's an unconfirmed-but-delicious rumor that Fitzgerald is close to indicting Rove and DeLay has announced his withdrawal from the '06 race. Steve Clemons says we may not be done with him yet, though.

David Neiwert on That racism thang and the fact that, "conservatives have co-opted so much of the longtime white supremacist agenda that now the extremist right is looking for new ways to attract followers.

I was too lazy to expand on David Gerrold's point about evil, but MahaBarb didn't disappoint me.

A nice Bill Maher clip at Crooks and Liars

Don't forget to send Susie your get-well wishes.

04:31 BST

Monday, 03 April 2006

All sorts

No More Cheap Oil Says Chavez: If you thought high oil prices were just a blip think again. In an exclusive interview with Greg Palast for BBC Newsnight the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has ruled out any return to the era of cheap oil. (Newsnight page for the item is here, and presumably the video is or will be available on that page. Guardian story is here.)

Ellen at News Hounds asks you to join her in asking a sponsor how they can support McCarthyite tactics: Sean Hannity launched another tirade designed to paint Democrats as treasonous Friday night (3/31/06). If, like me, you are alarmed that a national network host would try to infringe on your patriotic rights to speak out about government policy, then please join me in contacting Hannity & Colmes advertiser Fidelity Investments as the beginning of an effort to fight back. Here's a copy of the email I just sent Fidelity questioning their decision to advertise on Hannity & Colmes.

Condi's unrewarding holiday: "The only thing I am looking forward to is the moment when it's over," said one American diplomat, clearly dismayed that this wasn't going to be a repeat of the Alabama love-in. (via)

Atrios appears to be suggesting that the redesign at the NYT website is a bit of a disappointment. Personally, I never liked the old design, and my eye seems to like the new look better. But didn't there used to be sidebar link to, um, "Politics" or "Washington" or something for the political stuff? I can't seem to find one, now. Meanwhile, "Public Editor" Byron Calame explains the new feedback system and where to click if you want to e-mail a reporter. However, he isn't enthusiastic about the system, himself.

Watch Sarah McLachlan's World On Fire - via a link in a spiritual message from The American Street, "The Spring Offensive calls you to Stand".

18:58 BST

News without breakfast

"John and Jerry" is Krugman's latest, and it's about John McCain's sudden conversion to Fallwellism: Just to be clear: this is a free country, and Mr. Falwell has a right to say what he thinks, even if his views include the belief that other people, by saying what they think, brought down God's wrath on America. By the same token, any political party has a right to include Mr. Falwell and his supporters, just as any politician has a right to make a political alliance with Mr. Falwell. But if you choose to make common cause with religious extremists, you are accepting some responsibility for their extremism. Debra on McCain: "I expect my politicians to lie, but he has no shame."

Jill Carroll's statement (via). And Digby notes the right-wing hilarity.

Howard Zinn on "America's Blinders": Now that most Americans no longer believe in the war, now that they no longer trust Bush and his Administration, now that the evidence of deception has become overwhelming (so overwhelming that even the major media, always late, have begun to register indignation), we might ask: How come so many people were so easily fooled?

Cursor: With a report that British Prime Minister Tony Blair's "closest aides feel" that he 'will be gone by Christmas,' it's asked if President Bush has "finally gotten to the point where he sees Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld as a liability, not an asset?" And, Rumsfeld sizes up the competition. I don't see Rumsfeld going any time soon - can you imagine having that confirmation hearing right before an election?

"It was a shocking crime scene. Bodies were everyplace."

I've been meaning to look for this ever since Fayard Nicholas died, and I keep forgetting when I'm at the keyboard (obsessing on something else). But, of course, it's right there on YouTube, that wonderful clip of the Nicholas Brothers in Stormy Weather. If you've never seen it, do it now. It's the spectacular payoff for sitting through an otherwise unspectacular movie.

I didn't make this, but it amused me.

15:02 BST

Sunday, 02 April 2006


Rigby & Peller: Isabella half cup underwired braBra of the Week

Dwight Meredith caught Ramesh Ponnuru telling the truth about why Republicans attack gay rights and want to shut down 527s.

Do you think it's possible to explain to Chuck Schumer that he's not exactly part of the solution? I've seen this kind of stupidity before, and it didn't work then, either. (More of the same, and how Lieberman stays in the picture.)

And, what a shame these geniuses in the party didn't encourage Hackett to run against Schmidt again - he so had this one.

You read the WaPo, you read the NYT, and you could almost believe this is Adam Nagourney's blog, and that all those other jerks really are leaving those comments there. Much as Atrios says.

House Committee Report On NSA Domestic Spying says: You live in a fascist state.

So, why did this cop pull that woman over?

David Gerrold On The Nature Of Evil. (But don't forget: sometimes they think they are doing God's work.)

This is another good movie story from Mark Evanier, it did make me call him names. (Also: Did you know that the 1950s Dragnet scripts were approved by a young L.A.P.D. police officer named Gene Roddenberry, who was Chief Parker's head researcher and scriptwriter?)

21:46 BST

Reading the WaPo

Deborah Howell addresses The Washington Post's descent, again sounding less like an ombudsman than an excuse-maker:

Jim Brady, executive editor of, has said without equivocation that hiring Domenech was a mistake. I'm not going to pile on. Anyone out there who's ever hired or fired has chosen at least a few clunkers.
There are people who didn't work out, but I've never made a mistake like that in my life. They created a position they didn't need, for reasons they shouldn't have had, and put someone into it who should never have even been considered for the job. We're not talking about someone who looked good on paper and turned out not to fit in, we're talking about someone who didn't even look good on paper.
Brady wants to enlarge the reach of the Web site's opinion section with a conservative blogger; there's nothing wrong with that.
Yes, there is. For one thing, the paper already has plenty of far-right voices - Deborah Howell's apparently being one of them. And, for another, the segment of society that is crying out for more conservative voices is a bunch of people whose goals should be anathema to any good news organization: They want to promote ignorance and government propaganda, not inform the populace.

Oh, look, there's an entire letter section called, "What's Wrong With The Post?" One of those letters inspired part of Howell's column, suggesting that being on the Internet-only section of the site is no excuse for unprofessional behavior. No kiddin'.

In other news...

So, apparently, MI5 really got ticked off at some guys who just didn't want to be spies for them. Leaving aside that it seems to have been one of the stupidest recruitment programs I've seen in a long time, it does tend to make you think that the real purpose of "anti-terrorist" operations is to create terrorism. What, don't they think they've annoyed the Muslim community in Britain enough, yet? I guess you're not allowed to say, "No," to MI5 - that fact alone apparently makes you a terrorist suspect: They were also accused of carrying a suspicious electronic device in their luggage to Gambia; British police who stopped them at Gatwick determined it was a battery charger, police reports show. [...] The tribunals ruled that both men should be classified as enemy combatants.

Nobody loves Katherine Harris - rats, sinking ship, etc.

Good news for the comedy profession: Apparently, the new White House strategery is to let Bush be Bush, and we have even more unscripted moments in store. This is supposed to make him look more like an "average Joe". Who has never had to work a day in his life and lives in a big white house with lots of tax-payer-funded security guards and can even afford to have a fake ranch. Yeah, all my friends are like that.

14:34 BST

You can't vote with chained feet

In his follow-up article on immigration, "The Road to Dubai", I'm not sure Krugman is quite right when he says, "High-skilled immigrants - say, software engineers from South Asia - are, by any criterion I can think of, good for America." You know, I think this is just like anything else: It depends how you do it. And right now, we have corporations whining about how they just can't get the people they need without importing them, even while they are refusing to hire skilled and experienced Americans. Why, they're even laying them off. And for all that people are annoyed about being picked up by cab drivers they have trouble conversing with, the bottom line is that this is really an argument over wages - one side wants to drive them down, and the rest of us want to be paid enough that we can live comfortably in our own countries.

See, if Krugman were really all as liberal as some people think, he would get this by now: The high level of illegal immigration we currently have in America is not just a matter of individuals south of the border suddenly deciding to run up north; it's a function of policies driven from Washington at the behest of our corporate owners from the Reagan administration onward (and don't you dare think Clinton isn't part of this). Those policies work to funnel people into our country and into situations where they cannot bargain for better treatment and wages, pitting them against all of the rest of us.

Tom Maguire gets some of this, but we should really be congratulating the right-wing spinners and the corporate media for convincing people that our focus should be on those individual immigrants rather than the system that destabilizes their native economies and dumps them into ours. Coming up with ideas so disgusting that even a 2,000-mile fence starts to sound reasonable is also a nice touch. Gee, how did we get along for more than two centuries without a 2,000-mile fence? And - just imagine! - being an illegal immigrant was never a felony, before! What were we thinking?

Look, they want you to be watching the borders so you'll be facing away from the real problem; don't turn your back on "our leaders" for a minute. Especially these leaders. The fact that Americans support the same policies Bush claims to support really ought to tell you something.

Nathan Newman:

Some see the issue as whether the undocumented committed an illegal act. But the real question should be whether our current immigration policy is itself moral. Slavery was legal, but that didn't make those who defied it immoral.

The United States has an estimated 12 million people living in our country without legal status. Do we seriously expect to deport that many people in an act of ethnic cleansing that would bring global condemnation?

And globalization can't just mean that money has freedom but people don't. If anything, we need more rules for money and fewer for people-- since the ability to walk away from bad job choices is about the only right the poorest of the poor have ever had in this world. Take away the right of mobility from workers and all the rest of their rights largely disappear as well.

And so do ours. Employers who have virtual slaves at their disposal have no incentive to put up with Americans who expect to be treated like human beings.
If we want to slow immigration to the United States, the real way to do it is to end sweatshops in Mexico and the rest of the developing world and end the rising inequality in global wealth within such countries. Mexico, for example, has increasing wealth, but because of the trade deals we created with them, most of that wealth goes to the richest section of the population-- Mexico has 13 billionaires yet working families are left struggling to survive.

To tell such refugees from an economic system the US government helped engineer that they are to blame for their fate is immoral. And progressives should be standing side by side with the labor unions, civil rights groups and religious leaders marching by the hundreds of thousands in the streets to demand decent treatment for those refugees and a more just global economic system.

12:26 BST

Saturday, 01 April 2006

It's not good for us

I was just catching up with yesterday's IHT on paper when I noticed I agreed with the review I was reading, so I looked up to see who wrote it and lo and behold, it was Brad DeLong. When I checked for it online, of course, it turned out to be an NYT Select item, so I went over to Brad's site to see if he'd posted it. Well, he has some of the end of the article, here, so I'll give you some of the beginning:

Louis Uchitelle has long been one of the best economics reporters at The New York Times. Now he has written his first book, "The Disposable American," about large-scale layoffs and the harm he sees them doing to the country. Uchitelle believes Americans have acquiesced in permanent mass layoffs because of three myths: (1) that they are a necessary step to make companies better, stronger, more efficient and more productive; (2) that it is the laid-off workers' own fault if they fail to find near-equivalent new jobs in the modern economy; and (3) that layoffs ought to be decided upon by mangers looking at their corporation's dollars-and-cents bottom line.

To Uchitelle's attack on these three myths I want to say yes, yes and yes. There are numerous costs associated with layoffs that are not measured by their effects on the corporation's bottom line.

Moreover, older workers have a particularly hard time starting over, turning the skills and experience that made them a good fit at their old jobs into something valuable to a new employer. Subaru, for example, doesn't want workers laid off from the Ford assembly line. White-collar middle managers in their early 50s have next to no chance of finding remotely equivalent jobs. A huge amount of human capital disappears when businesses close down.

And Uchitelle is right when he says mass layoffs do not make the companies that undertake them better. Mass layoffs make them different.

23:44 BST

Morning highlights

"The Corps of Engineers informs us they cannot ensure even the minimum safety of S.E. Louisiana."

108 dozen roses for Helen Thomas

Justin Rood at TPM Muckraker says the Capitol cops have a history of not recognizing McKinney.

Josh Marshall: Guest worker programs come in two flavors, bad and really unbelievably bad. It's important to distinguish the two.

Kevin Drum: Hey, guess who President Bush has nominated to head up the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division? That's right: the guy who represented Wal-Mart in trying to prevent a class of 1.5 million women from suing the company for discrimination in pay and promotions! He also appears to oppose pretty much every regulation related to wages and hours ever passed.

The Poor Man Institute has done the hard work of finding all of the really important quotes from Joe Wilson's recent speech and creating "The Shrillmarillion".

I like this cartoon that's being auctioned off to raise funds for reproductive freedom in South Dakota.

Happy birthday, Mr. President. (OK, technically, I'm a day late, but what the hell.) Oh, and vote!

11:33 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, April 2006

March 2006
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Is the media in denial?
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And, no, it's not named after the book or the movie. It's just another sideshow.

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