The Sideshow

Archive for January 2006

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Tuesday, 31 January 2006


Atrios names Jonah Goldberg Wanker of the Day for his attack on Upton Sinclair, and I heartily recommend you read the linked piece by Greg Mitchell at Editor & Publisher, Sliming a Famous Muckraker: The Untold Story. Goldberg has picked up a misreading of a letter from Sinclair to claim that the revered lefty lied in his book about Sacco and Vanzetti, allegedly having withheld certain knowledge that the two were guilty. Of course, that's not what the letter said, and Sinclair never withheld the information that is in that letter - which by no means revealed any such knowledge. The fact is that no one knows whether they were guilty or not, but anyone familiar with the case knows that they never had a fair trial. The scandal, always - as with Chessman and Mumia - is that we can put someone on death row without giving their case a proper and honest hearing.

Chris Bowers asks us to enlighten him as to why everyone was so moribund about campaigning to defeat Alito until Kerry made his announcement that he was trying to organize a filibuster - when it was really too late.

But Jane Hamsher says she's seen some new spirit taking hold, and she thanks Kerry and the blogosphere for getting into the good fight and showing a willingness to start mobilizing, at last.

16:34 GMT

Another cup of coffee

Coretta Scott King dead at 78

Wes Clark Endorses Transition to Single-Payer

Josh Marshall: Sometimes the key to good politics (and good policy) is simply to say out loud what your opponents are saying amongst themselves. [...] So the president thinks the problem is that people have too much health insurance. People are over-insured.

So, is AARP finally getting the message?

Always read Digby. "It Is The Only Way We Can Live": I know it hurts to lose this one. I won't say that I'm not disappointed. But it was a very long shot from the outset and we managed to make some noise and get ourselves heard. The idea that it is somehow a sign of weakness because we only got 25 members of the Senate, including the entire leadership, to vote to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee is funny to me. Two years ago I would have thought somebody was on crack if they even suggested it was possible.

Sutton Impact: Dude, where's my party?

13:11 GMT

OK, now you can write mean letters

Fertkik is right when he calls it betrayal:

We, the voters who elect Democrats in every election, were utterly and completely betrayed today by 18 Democratic Senators that we elected, all of whom can be reached at 888-355-3588 or 888-818-6641:
Akaka (HI), Baucus (MT), Bingaman (NM), Byrd (WV), Cantwell (WA), Carper (DE), Dorgan (ND), Inouye (HI), Johnson (SD), Kohl (WI), Landrieu (LA), Lieberman (CT), Lincoln (AR), Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Pryor (AR), Rockefeller (WV), Salazar (CO)
There was no reason for this betrayal. We only needed 40 of the 45 Democrats to sustain a filibuster. We could have won even if 5 Democrats who were flat-out stupid enough to believe Alito's lies (like Robert Byrd and Kent Conrad) had voted against the filibuster.

Every Democratic Senator knew what was at stake - both in the rulings Justice [sic] Alito will make for the rest of his life, and in the anger - even rage - that will greet their decision to betray us.

So why did these Democrats decide to stab us all in the back?

For one simple reason: because we let them.

ReddHedd says we'll keep fighting, and Jane says thank the ones who voted with us. And I'm telling Lieberman that I'm sending money to his opponent in honor of the occasion.

01:14 GMT

Monday, 30 January 2006

Clouds of words

Word Cloud tee-shirt design, via Thomas Nephew's Newsrack, where you'll also find an update on verified voting in Maryland, which must be gaining ground if the same woman who scuttled such a bill last time actually co-sponsored this one.

And in Virginia, there's a Reliable Voting bill that is up for a vote tomorrow, so call immediately to make your wishes known.

Digby and Tristero are backing up Glenn Greenwald today on the point that Islamic fundamentalist terrorism is not an existential threat. (Raise your hand if, like me, you recognized within minutes of the attack on the WTC that the real threat to America was not from Islamist terrorists, but from the administration's response.) Oh, and I was a bit asleep-at-the-wheel when I cited Armando earlier; go read the whole of the original post from Digby on Conviction Politics.

Chris Bowers has posted on the first sets of questions for the MyDD polling project (polling posts are here). Reading the answers he's discussed so far, it sure looks like Republicans, by and large, are not all that interested in national security questions related to terrorism at home. One has the impression that it is Democrats, rather than Republicans, who remember 9/11. Maybe that's because more of them live in important cities that are likely targets.

I'm still astonished that Spies, Lies and Wiretaps appeared as an editorial in The New York Times. It could have come straight from the liberal blogosphere.

John Kerry on The Vote Of A Lifetime: So let's get this straight. The time to fight is now - before we make the irreversible decision of confirming a new Supreme Court Justice. When you're talking about the Supreme Court, you don't live to fight another day. It's a zero sum game. Once Judge Alito becomes Justice Alito, there's no turning back the Senate confirmation vote. We don't get to 'take a mulligan' when choosing a Supreme Court Justice. The direction our country takes for the next thirty years is being set now.

I want to point out that the four Republican "moderate" Senators listed below may all vote against Alito, but they need to be told that it doesn't count unless they support the filibuster. And that goes for some other people, too.

23:11 GMT

Don't give up now, friends

To the surprise of many, AmericaBlog is against the filibuster. The argument seems to be that since they started too late and don't have a plan, it can't work. That's certainly possible, but I don't see why we shouldn't try.

Rob in Baltimore is arguing, for example, that Unitary Executive Won't Win the Filibuster Debate. Well, it probably won't if no one argues it accessibly. If you keep saying "Unitary Executive" without explaining what it means and why it's wrong, it's unlikely to fly, innit?

It's pretty simple. The Constitution is about getting rid of monarchy, royalty, etc. The Framers were utterly opposed to having a king, so they created all these checks and balances and wrote lots of stuff about how it's a nation of laws and not men, no one is above anyone else, etc.

In the interim, conservatives have seen their philosophy become passe on its best days and thoroughly discredited at its worst, so they need to dress it all up and pretend they have "new ideas", so they got this spiffy new phrase, "Unitary Executive", because they didn't want to have to say "Monarch".

And the guy who many people credit with this novel branding is none other than Samuel Alito.

See? It's easy.

But that's just one little thing, and no one is saying this should be the only thing. People need to see just how many ways Alito doesn't belong on the Supreme Court. The fact that he wants to put a crown on Bush's head is only one of them.

19:41 GMT

Do the business

I won't be the first to observe that when Biden and Obama babble in public about how (even though they will vote against cloture), the way to win these issues isn't with procedural stuff, but by talking about the issues involved and stating our values, they are actually doing the opposite of what they say should be done. And the good news for them about a filibuster is what it is: a refusal to foreclose on debate. Yes, that's right, it's a public debate on the issues. If a filibuster holds, it will probably draw news coverage, and that could just mean a bit of coverage of the issues, and maybe even a national discussion of our values. So Biden and Obama are saying a debate is a yawn because we should be having a debate instead. Good going, guys.

These hacks keep repeating the GOP's "conventional wisdom" that the filibuster is doomed to fail, even though the filibuster seems to be picking up steam by leaps and bounds. As Rachel Maddow observed on her show this morning, we started at zero only a few days ago and are already only two votes short of holding the debate open. (If you're still trying to think of something to say to your Senators, you might consider that angle - that we want a full, open, public debate on Alito.)

Let me say that again: We've gone from zero to only two votes short in just a few days. That's kind of the opposite of the conventional wisdom.

Obama (IL) Fax: (202) 228-4260
Biden (DE) Fax: (202) 224-0139

You may also remember that there are four Republican Senators who are supposed to be "centrist" and who hold on to their seats in large part thanks to having allowed their constituents to believe they would not support overturning Roe v. Wade. Maybe they just assumed they'd never have to deliver, but it wouldn't hurt to keep reminding them that now is the time:

Lincoln Chafee Fax: (202) 228-2853 / (401) 453-5085
Susan Collins: Fax: (202) 224-2693 / (207) 990-4604
Olympia Snowe: Fax: (202) 224-1946 / (207) 874-7631
Ted Stevens: Fax: (202) 224-2354

And don't forget all the others - especially your own. Free fax here.

14:40 GMT

The wonders of American medicine - all for you!

Here's a lovely little front-page item in the WaPo this morning, Health Workers' Choice Debated, subheaded "Proposals Back Right Not to Treat." Check this out:

More than a dozen states are considering new laws to protect health workers who do not want to provide care that conflicts with their personal beliefs, a surge of legislation that reflects the intensifying tension between asserting individual religious values and defending patients' rights.

About half of the proposals would shield pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control and "morning-after" pills because they believe the drugs cause abortions. But many are far broader measures that would shelter a doctor, nurse, aide, technician or other employee who objects to any therapy. That might include in-vitro fertilization, physician-assisted suicide, embryonic stem cells and perhaps even providing treatment to gays and lesbians.

18 states are currently considering such bills as the legislative season reconvenes.

Meanwhile, Ezra Klein reminds us (can't do this often enough) that if you want to live someplace where you'll know you can get decent medical care, leave the USA.

13:46 GMT

Walkin' the blog

King of Zembla has the story from the Indy about leaked info on the cover-up of the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes, and also another interview with Mark Crispin Miller with even more details about the theft of the 2004 election. (Miller mentions Election Incident Reporting System in the article.)

Greg Palast's site has a piece by Sura Wood on American Blackout, "an engrossing, low-budget documentary, is a powerful examination of voting rights in America" that "explores the history of the black vote by following the ups and downs of the Democratic congresswoman from Georgia, Cynthia McKinney, an outspoken critic of the Bush Administration, whose early stand against the Iraq War cost her a re-election bid. More to the point, McKinney was leading an investigation into the 2000 election voting irregularities." (And you can read the transcript or spend 15 minutes watching Greg's original BBC Newsnight feature from 2000, Theft of the Presidency, at his site. Or watch it here if you'd prefer a different format.)

At the other end of the spectrum, learn about an asinine work of breathtaking obscenity. Or, not so stupid, you could read about open-source thinking as a way to get back in the box.

Heart, Soul & Humor - Death Penalty: Barbaric Throwback to the Middle Ages and The Culture Wars - Mean-Spirited Family Values.

Why The Filibuster - Armando saw the designated Democrat on Fox explain the concept of doing the right thing. Of course, it was not a member of Congress, but Bob Beckel.

What's Your Project Censored Score?

Circus of the Spineless, via The Modulator.

Naked in Aggregate, the evolution of Playboy playmates by digital averaging. (Thanks to Susan for the tip.)


11:56 GMT

A Small Package Of Value Will Come To You Shortly

Lunaire Luxembourg seamfree microfibre bra

Bra of the Week

Tracking the elusive centrist - Lambert at CorrenteWire digs deeper into that VandeHei piece and finds out that the Democratic lobbyist who is quoted saying mean things about the netroots is - finally! - a Dem with ties to Jack Abramoff. Figures. Elmendorf is in the business of keeping the triangle between Democrats, the media, and blogosphere broken, while reinforcing the same triangle on the Republican side. The Elmendorf quote that VanDeHei pimps does just that with beautiful exactitude.

Over at the original Corrente (don't ask me, I'm as confused as anyone), The Farmer has been taking a walk through history and, among other things, observing the Restoration of the Imperial Presidency in a cascading series of quotes from all over the place.

The Kremlin Watch: Newsweek identifies scapegoat: Based on absolutely nothing [*] besides the tone of this article, one would predict that Addington is being set up to be the next indictment in the Plame case. Maybe yes, maybe no, but this definitely looks like a show trial pre-game warm-up.

Heavily linked over the last couple of days, Dems Don't Know Jack - Greg Sargent at The American Prospect looks at where Abramoff money really went, and whether it's even accurate to say that Abramoff "directed" his clients to give money to both parties.

Nice catch by Susie Madrak at Suburban Guerrilla with a letter to Altercation from a guy who was once treated to an unvarnished look at the real Al Gore, and was surprised to find the genuine article - a real public servant. (Lots more there, too.)

While not doing any of the things you thought they'd do to protect us after 9/11, there's this: Homeland Security To Confiscate Bank Safe Deposit Box Contents. Yes, that will make us safer. (And that's just one little thing.) Via Hammer Of The Blogs.

Wow, even Biden and Obama (!) have expressed a willingness - grudging though it is - to vote against cloture. Via TalkLeft.

Congratulations to That Colored Fella for three years of blogging. Party on.

02:20 GMT

Sunday, 29 January 2006

Stuff to check out

Jane Hamsher has a report-back on the Dem conference call and why you should send those faxes (she supplies the list and a free fax site) to let Senators know that filibustering Alito is important to you.

I keep wondering if it's a coincidence that terrorists in Iraq keep kidnapping/killing the same kinds of people that George Bush also seems to hate. Okay, at home they only spy on them most of the time, but still.... Or maybe it's just that religious nuts hate peace activists and reporters no matter what religion is involved.

Paul Craig Roberts: Why does any American think that spying without a warrant has any more effect in reducing the threat of terrorism than spying with a warrant?

And let's not forget that Karl Rove is still under investigation, and the latest developments during the week pointed the finger right back at him again. At Needlenose, Swopa pulls some interesting grafs from deep in an article by Jason Leopold.

SpinWatch has a piece up about politics and media issues around a bill that was meant to hold corporate killers responsible for their acts. I've long thought that they should be charged like any other kind of murderer.

23:42 GMT

Spin City

Howell seems to be taking a step back from her habit of stirring things up this week, perhaps to leave room for others to do it. The number one hit on last night's WaPo outrage meter came from Jim VandeHei in an article that lies to you right up front with the title "Blogs Attack From Left as Democrats Reach for Center". Let's be clear: The Democrats in question aren't reaching for the center, they're reaching for their teddy bears. VandeHei is playing a game in which there is something wildly left-wing about objecting to a far-right loony being given a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court which is planned and likely to swing both the court and our nation to a form of government our founders strictly opposed. He also can't tell the difference between style and content:

First, liberal Web logs went after Democrats for selecting Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine to deliver the response to Bush's speech next Tuesday. Kaine's political sins: He was too willing to drape his candidacy in references to religion and too unwilling to speak out aggressively against Bush on the Iraq war. Kaine has been lauded by party officials for finding a victory formula in Bush country by running on faith, values and fiscal discipline.
That's funny, I specifically remember the liberal blogosphere congratulating Kaine on placing his opposition to the death penalty in the context of faith and values - and I don't remember seeing him attacked from the left for doing so. Kaine brought authenticity with him on that subject and showed up the fake "values" of his opponent.

But the objection to using Kaine in this instance isn't an objection to Kaine at all, it's an objection to putting a maiden flower up instead of a strong, experienced speaker who has lots of credibility. This is a job for someone who can think on his feet and see through spin, and we know Murtha can do that. He was the obvious choice for the part because he's shown he's got what it takes.

But Kaine didn't make himself look better placed for it by falling right in line with conservative spin:

"Blogs can take up a lot of time if you're on them," Kaine said to reporters Thursday. "You can get a lot done if you're not bitterly partisan."

The Virginia Democrat said he will not adjust his speech to placate the party's base. "I'm not anybody's mouthpiece or shill or poster boy for that matter. I'm going to say what I think needs to be said and they seem very comfortable with that."

Really? Are you going to be prepared to call a lie a lie? Because it doesn't look to me like you can recognize one when it bites you in the belly.

Here is Arianna's article deriding the choice of Kaine over Murtha - the one VVandeHei uses as the exemplar of the liberal blogosphere's reaction. You will note that there is not one word about Kaine's references to his faith.

Yes, Arianna does talk about Kaine's lame discussion of Iraq, but let's face it, anyone who really supported the Iraq mission would have been screaming bloody murder a long time ago about Bush's mishandling of the money, the forces, the entire unaccountable enterprise. It should only embarrass them further that the anti-invasion bloggers have been more likely to do that than have the hawks. Democrats should at least be prepared to point out that Bush has never even tried to win the war, to properly support our troops, to win over the Iraqi people, to rebuild Iraq - to do any of the things that could conceivably have brought the mission to a victorious conclusion. And if they're not prepared to say so, their hawkery is pretty damned unconvincing.

This article at MyDD notes that VandeHei is pretty immersed in right-wing nuttery anyway, so perhaps this spin is no surprise. But Democrats should be ashamed to be caught with GOP spin in their mouths. (More on this from Steve Gilliard.)

In other media outrage news, Katie Couric lied about Democrats receiving money from Abramoff. *sigh*

Newsweek poll: "Should the Senate give Alito an up-or-down vote?" (Thanks to Jeff Schalles for the tip.)

17:34 GMT

Saturday, 28 January 2006

I saw this

Via Maru.

Dancer Fayard Nicholas dies at 91: "Astaire once told the brothers that the acrobatic elegance and synchronicity of the Jumpin' Jive dance sequence in Stormy Weather (1943) made it the greatest movie musical number he had ever seen." I have to agree with that assessment - I've watched it over and over and it still delights me; I am in awe of the magic that was the Nicholas Brothers. Of course, Mark Evanier (who has a great idea for Tuesday's National Gorilla Suit Day) has a little story about meeting Fayard Nicholas not that long ago.

Faithful Progressive: What if, instead of slinking off to California, Nixon had gone on the offensive about his illegal activities? "Yes, I broke into the Democratic party headquarters, and the Constitution gives me the right to do so, because we are at war."

So just why are oil companies so concerned with Indian casinos? (And read this, about why this will probably be the last Koufax Awards year - so vote, read the nominees' works, and give generously while you can.)

Idiot Deity - Uptown Ruler on the unfunny clown: His image weirdly self-photoshops somewhere between camera and upload. (Also, American Mengele.)

The Maru Poll.

Lego Classic, Via Anita Rowland.

18:07 GMT

What's goin' on

Newsday is reporting that Hillary Clinton says she will support a filibuster: "History will show that Judge Alito's nomination is the tipping point against constitutionally-based freedoms and protections we cherish as individuals and as a nation," Clinton wrote in a statement during a fundraising stop in Seattle. (And, infuriatingly: Several other Democrats, including Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Kent Conrad (D- N.D.), agree with Schumer that a filibuster could alienate middle-of-the-road Democrats in this year's midterm elections.) Raw Story also has a quote from Clinton's press secretary: "Senator Clinton will vote against cloture, thereby supporting the filibuster of Judge Alito's nomination," Reines said.

Atrios linked this last night and it left me kind of breathless - a short video clip from CNN of an announcer informing the public that Kerry's statement from Davos was made at an "exclusive Swiss resort," leaving the implication that he was there on some sort of skiing holiday. From the comments below the post (at Oliver Willis' site), it looks like that was the meaning people took from it, too, as if he wasn't there with a bunch of other politicians and policy-makers to attend a boring meeting. (In other news, even Oliver is losing his patience with Democrats who don't stand up and who cave in to inside-the-Beltway spin.)

Also via Atrios: Hoffmania on how Rumsfeld is trying to take over (or destroy) the Internet. (Told ya.) And Media Matters for America on how "sex sells" doesn't explain the difference in the way Whitewater and the various Bush scandals have been covered.

Lance Mannion says Stand and fight!

Steve Gilliard says it's Better to go down fighting.

The Agonist is doing quite a bit of Filibuster Blogging.

15:29 GMT

Friday, 27 January 2006

Topic A

Sorry, I've been a bit busy and distracted today. (Anyone know where I can get two or three grand?)

Maha: Filibuster?
Patrick: Pick up the phone. Now.
The Carpetbagger Report: Going down swinging.
Digby: Filibuster!
(Sarbanes, Mikulski) (All of 'em.)

Anne Zook has a little reminder.

Not a great news organization - get a load of the poll question on this page. I mean, it's not as if the issue itself is important. Oh, and vote - the freepers have already been there.

Not a great statesman

18:13 GMT

Open windows

In which I am happily surprised: John and Ted's excellent adventure - do we have a filibuster?

Sisyphus Shrugged on more unbiased WaPo scandal coverage.

"Shallow Throat": Do Dems Have a Death Wish?

William Rivers Pitt with a suggestion to the Dems for Bush's State of the Union speech: Get Up and Walk Out.

General Wesley Clark to Keynote "Real State of U.S. Foreign Policy Forum" the Day Before Bush's State of the Union Address.

At Epicycle, how Day One disses Feynman.

At Through the Looking Glass, mass murder count and who supports terrorists.

I had no idea that Frank Bruni has a fan. Thanks to Mikey in comments for the tip.

Porn star Kimberly Kane does not feel like a Tool of the Patriarchy (Photo not entirely work-safe.) Thanks to Scott Legg for the tip.

02:08 GMT

Thursday, 26 January 2006

When media bites

Heavily-linked yesterday, and for good reason, is Peter Daou's latest addition to his meditations on the triangle between media, party, and blogosphere necessary to bring a party's message to the public in productive fashion.

But, thanks to decades of neglect on the left and unrelenting effort on the right, the media is close to being completely lost to our side of that triangle:

What's the common thread running through the past half-decade of Bush's presidency? What's the nexus between the Swift-boating of Kerry, the Swift-boating of Murtha, and the guilt-by-association between Democrats and terrorists? Why has a seemingly endless string of administration scandals faded into oblivion? Why do Democrats keep losing elections? It's this: the traditional media, the trusted media, the "neutral" media, have become the chief delivery mechanism of potent anti-Democratic and pro-Bush storylines. And the Democratic establishment appears to be either ignorant of this political quandary or unwilling to fight it.
And so we now find ourselves in a position where a president who has all but promised to incinerate the Constitution can do so with relative impunity, while the installation of a clearly partisan supporter - indeed, creator - of the "legal" theory that rationalizes that treason - is about to ascend to the Supreme Court with the acquiescence of the so-called opposition party.

The miniturized (and therefore unreadable) graphic above comes from shystee's excellent post continuing on this subject, illustrating the fact that all legs of the "blue" triangle are broken while the GOP's side is not only firm but hardening further every day.

Shystee then expands further (with a more complex graphic, too), but I would argue that even this graphic is both too simple and too kind to the Democratic Party leadership, who take very seriously the direct and continuos injection of influence they get from the "Beltway conventional wisdom" node but whose relationship to public opinion is much the same as it is to the liberal blogosphere - not indirect, but broken.

The fact is that opinion polls in general show that liberalism has far wider support from the public than the conservative movement's goals do. I mean liberalism itself, not the word "liberalism", which, with the Dem leadership's help, has come to mean something other than liberalism. Liberalism itself is precisely what the public consistently says it wants, when you get down to the details. But, for some reason, the party doesn't seem to hear them.

The blogosphere acts to amplify the public's stated desires, but since legislators can read about them right in the morning papers, and when they go back to their constituencies they hear it direct from the very public they supposedly serve, something else is radically wrong that seems to prevent them from taking any lesson from it. If the legs of the graph were represented as arrows, what we'd see going from the Public Opinion node to the Democratic Party would be a huge mass of little tiny threads reaching toward the party but never quite arriving. (And maybe a returning arrow that would mostly just be asking for money.)

The question of whether the Democratic leadership actually has any desire to promote the views and the people they supposedly represent is asked more and more often these days, but they seem to be easy prey for the process I wrote about in How you became crazy - barraged with the Beltway-insider point of view, with little buffering from the sane point of view, they probably doubt themselves more than a little even when they do want to do the right thing.

This might have a great deal to do with why the only high-profile Democrat who has been willing to lead on important progressive issues is Al Gore, a guy who has not been so embedded lately in that sinkhole. Maybe it's even why governors have made more popular nominees than Senators - because they spend a lot less time in Washington.

But if you doubt the need to write those letters, make those phone calls, send those faxes, think again. No matter how much the media mouthpieces complain about the nasty little lefties and their nasty little letters, the fact is that when many, many people are saying something, it makes a difference in what those media jerks think it is acceptable to say on television and in the pages of The Washington Post. Remember: The ultra-conservatives they listen to today are the same people they once regarded as the right-wing fringe nuts they really are. But the nuts made themselves heard. We have to do the same until it is no longer "crazy" or "partisan" to tell the truth.

16:03 GMT


The Rude Pundit reminds us that this spinelessness among Democrats is not new, and that when Senators fall down on the whole advise and consent thing, you can end up with Clarence Thomas: There's many, many reasons to filibuster Alito, ideologically and politically. At the end of the day, sweet Senators, look at Clarence Thomas - look at his decisions, his dissents, his deep desire to eviscerate individual rights and freedoms like they're pig carcasses in the slaughterhouse. Ask yourself if, at the end of another decade and a half, you wanna look back and wonder if you did everything you could, even if you failed, to prevent another extremist from getting on the court. Ask yourself what kind of America would you be looking from. Act like that's what's at stake. Ask them.

Speaking of which, don't miss Will Bunch's The Ed Rendell Party: Like it's 1999, an excellent take-down of the lie that it's okay to support anti-choice Democrats because they are supposedly so good on things like union issues and all that salt-of-the-earth stuff. Well, no, they're not, and if Bob Casey's idea of supporting the people of Pennsylvania's rights as workers is endorsing Alito's screw-the-workers ideology for the Supreme Court, he's no exception to the rule that anti-choice is anti-life.

David Michael Green has some good advice for Democrats and what sounds like an ad we'd like to see on TV. (Thanks to Helga for the tip.)

If you had any hope that our administration was doing anything right to protect us, read this interview your Talking Dog did with Joshua Colangelo Bryan, an attorney defending some "detainees" who everyone seems willing to admit are innocent but for some reason they can't seem to get released from Guantanamo. The kicker is that while there are still hundreds of people there who our government has no intention of ever releasing even though there is no reason to believe they are guilty of anything at all - not that that's prevented them from being tortured - our security-conscious government has already released people of far more dubious background, at least two of whom are indeed known terrorists. Why, it's almost as if they are trying to encourage terrorism....

I don't know about you, but the name Frank Bruni doesn't exactly fill me with respect and admiration after his performance covering the 2000 campaign for the NYT. Turns out his idea of job responsibility extends to other areas, only when he tried one that can't just be phoned in, he found out that actual work is, y'know, hard work. No More Mister Nice Blog has the real story.

It's time to do a lot more than this, but you could start by signing the petition to register your support for Al Gore, and get your friends to sign, too. I'm hoping Alice Marshall and others will start posting articles explaining the mechanics of what has to be done to make it happen. Meanwhile, if you happen to live in Iowa or New Hampshire, you might want to start going to church.

12:51 GMT

Assorted stuff

Just when you thought The New York Times couldn't sink much lower, they publish an article by John Lott. No, seriously. If the very name doesn't startle you, let Kevin Drum introduce you to the subject. And then marvel at the fact that the NYT has chosen this man to analyze the quality of ABA ratings. Seriously!

Ah, and Digby (just go read everything on the page) obviously had the same reaction to John Lott's reappearance as I did, only longer.

Jane Hamsher explains the mechanics of that live Q&A and how they were used to prevent, rather than further, the discourse. Farhad Manjoo has a fairly decent article at Salon summing up the whole WaPo/Howell issue. And while Jane was doing her Q&A, Dan Froomkin was also doing one in which, among other things, he gave a fuller response to the questions about Deborah Howell's little dust-up.

Teresa describes them better than I can (because I am speechless with awe): Amazingly beautiful photographs of China's Guilin area. I was particularly struck by the photos of its immaculately maintained, labor intensive agricultural terraces. I have to wonder how long those are going to last, given China's massive population exodus from rural areas, and its increasing ability to buy food from areas of the world where you don't have to terrace 45-degree slopes to grow rice.

Quoted from Bartcop chat: <Phelix> The GOP has been going after historical Democratic constituencies for decades. African Americans, trial lawyers, unions, teachers, government employees, media, universities. In each case, it's divide and destroy and marginalize. And in each case, the Democrats have not protected their own from the onslaught. And THAT is why they are deemed weak on defense. 'Cause they haven't defended.

03:35 GMT

Your choices

So, Al went to Sundance. Gore Is Bigger Than Ever! says Ben Smith in The New York Observer: A crowd of nearly 500 in the Library Theater in Park City, Utah, stayed on through a standing ovation and into the question-and-answer session as Al Gore-one Kentucky reporter actually addressed him as "Mr. President," to laughs and cheers-restated his warnings about the "planetary emergency," global warming. But Mr. Smith, who still doesn't appear to know that the "earth tones" thing was made-up, goes on to say that there's something in the air that makes a 2008 Gore presidential run seem both possible and appealing. And increasing numbers of other people think so, too. Oh, yeah. Gimme.

Buzzflash reminds us that Kerry once promised to filibuster any nominee who would not uphold Roe v. Wade: "I am prepared to filibuster, if necessary, any Supreme Court nominee who would turn back the clock on a woman's right to choose or the constitutional right to privacy, on civil rights and individual liberties and on the laws protecting workers and the environment," Kerry said in remarks via satellite at a meeting of Democratic party officials in St. Paul, Minn. "The test is basic -- any person who thinks it's his or her job to push an extreme political agenda rather than to interpret the law should not be a Supreme Court justice." Well, it's showtime, Senator.

Sen. Clinton Blasts Bush on Eavesdropping, but: Clinton, a potential 2008 presidential candidate, told reporters she did not yet know whether the administration's warrantless eavesdropping broke any laws. But the senator said she did not buy the White House's main justification for the tactic. Not much of a blast, if you ask me.

00:46 GMT

Wednesday, 25 January 2006

On the interweb

Matt and Ezra on how, no matter what the Republicans do, sooner or later it just makes it more obvious that we're going to have to have universal healthcare. And here.

You would have thought the Dems would have jumped all over this one - oh, any time in the last four years or so.

At Daily Kos, georgia10 on A Reasonable Suspicion of Illegality What transpired at that hearing proves that the Bush administration (a) knew that wiretaps of United States citizens are, pursuant to the Constitution, always subject to a probable cause standard; and (b) Congress explicitly rejected a lower standard for non-U.S. citizens.

Robert Parry, Alito Filibuster: It Only Takes One: With the fate of the U.S. Constitution in the balance, it's hard to believe there's no senator prepared to filibuster Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, whose theories on the "unitary executive" could spell the end of the American democratic Republic.

Hugo Chavez's VP responds to insult from McCain: Jose Vicente Rangel was reacting to McCain's statement on Sunday that America must explore alternative energy sources to avoid depending on Iran or "wackos" in Venezuela -- apparently a reference to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. So he said McCain can "go to hell."

Why we don't negotiate with terrorists.

Juan Cole on the radio talking about Saddam's nuclear program: "You know those Mickey Mouse watches that used to glow in the dark because they were radioactive? They didn't even have those."

21:17 GMT


Bill Scher says the Dems may be headed for the worst case scenario - having 41 "No" votes on Alito but not bothering to filibuster: The Dem approach has the appearance of going through the motions -- to give the illusion that a fight was waged, that principle was stood upon - in hopes that the base won't be livid. Perhaps it's time to let your Senators know that refusing to filibuster isn't really much different from a "yes" vote - to overturn the Constitution. (Also: Obama screwed up on the Sunday talk shows.)

Of course, if they're awake, Dems might use this useful talking point on Alito.

Pam's House Blend: Last night, Jackson Township Committeeman Mark A. Seda, a Republican, convinced his colleagues to unanimously vote for their town to extend domestic partner benefits to employees there as well. National Dem leadership -- you, the spineless ones who cannot and will not speak out for your gay constituents, look what a Republican has the courage to say. Via Wally Whateley's House of Horrors.

You didn't miss those pictures of the Georgetown students who ruined Torture Boy Gonzales' photo-op did you? Via The Heretik, whose wife is keeping watch.

I think I already answered this assignment (option 2) in a posts below. Among others. But then, so did he.

Josh Marshall has set up a Drug Bill Debacle Blog at his site. And also says there's now a hint that Abramoff and Scanlon have a connection to sabotaging Robert Livingston when he was about to become Speaker of the House after Gingrich was kicked out. (Oh, and talk about chutzpah....)

Rep. Louise Slaughter has a post up at Daily Kos about fighting back against smears like Chris Matthews' comparison of Bush critics with Osama bin Laden.

Bloggasm interviews Chuck Dupree (of Bad Attitudes).

WaPo virtual Ethics & Interactivity panel with Jarvis, InstaGlenn, Jay Rosen, Jim Brady, and Jane Hamsher.

George Takei posted something about his public coming-out, and said: But when one group tries to impose their own particular values on the rest of society by using the law, that is not only disrespectful of others, it goes against the core values of our American democracy. That is what is happening in our America today. The reactionary ideologues of the right are aggressively pushing legislation to strip decent people who happen to love people of their own gender of their fundamental rights of citizenship. I needed, indeed wanted, to speak out on this issue. For my voice to have credibility, I decided to "come out" to the press. Via Elayne Riggs.

Maybe your brain has just had enough.

19:08 GMT

What the papers say

No matter where you look, it's the same old thing, and that includes the knives the administration has been sticking into government employment practices. A judge is now looking into the legality of the way they're doing it (a pattern: get Congress to pass the language you want and then ignore the language they pass that you don't like), but it's all so familiar: "They simply ignored the explicit requirement of the law and did what they wanted to do," said Joe Goldberg, a lawyer for the American Federation of Government Employees, the lead union. We should all worry about this, because the new rules aren't just about making it easier to fire incompetent civil servants; they're meant to make it easier to fire good civil servants who don't kowtow to corrupt political officials.

Every time someone mentions the new drug "benefit" plan, I feel grateful that my parents died before it came into effect. (Nice to know my mother finally got her timing right.) Even an op-ed by Harold Meyerson in The Washington Post acknowledges that Bush is incompetent, as well as greedy and slothful: But in what must be an unforeseen development, people are trying to get their medications covered under the program. Apparently, this is a contingency for which the administration was not prepared, as it has been singularly unable to get its own program up and running. [...] No such problems attended the creation of Medicare itself in the mid-1960s. That's because liberal programs are meant to serve the public efficiently rather than just give lots of money to big corporations at the expense of the public. (MahaBarb suggests Meyerson could be verging on the almost shrill if he'd just take that last step to wondering how Bush can be so consistently disastrous.)

I realize having a new baby and all could keep someone busy, but I missed Froomkin an awful lot while he was away - especially considering the events that occurred while he was out. Anyway, he's back, and Holden caught his response to those events: McClellan's continued attempt to portray the Abramoff scandal as bipartisan doesn't exactly help his credibility on the question of White House meetings. His assertion flies in the face of the facts and is a Republican talking point espoused only by the most partisan or most credulous. Heh. That's pretty much what I said in my letter to Deborah Howell.

So the administration is doing an encore of their 9/11 commission performance with yet another stonewall: The Bush administration, citing the confidentiality of executive branch communications, said Tuesday that it did not plan to turn over certain documents about Hurricane Katrina or make senior White House officials available for sworn testimony before two Congressional committees investigating the storm response. (And it looks like progressive threats to hit him with a primary challenge must have put the fear of God into Lieberman, because even he is calling the administration on this.)

The Telegraph lost its appeal against the judgment that they had libelled George Galloway, and was refused the right to appeal to the Lords. The Torygraph argued that, "the story was of overriding public interest and had been published in good faith," but the judge "ruled that the Telegraph did not qualify for this type of defence because it had failed to give Mr Galloway sufficient time to respond to the allegations. He also criticised the presentation of the story, saying the paper had not neutrally reported the contents of the documents, but 'embraced them with relish'."

16:11 GMT

Subject to discussion

What I don't get is why people spent all that time talking about how Alito broke his promise not to sit in on cases in which he was clearly not a disinterested party, but no one mentioned that by doing so he was breaking federal law. Perhaps you should fire off a short fax to your Senators.

Kerry used the L word! You know, Osama bin Laden is going to die of kidney failure before he's killed by Karl Rove and his crowd. And all he does is divide America over this issue and exploit it. And what he's trying to pretend is somehow Democrats don't want to eavesdrop appropriately to protect the country. That's a lie.

I often allude to the stupid policies the administration brought to Iraq right from the beginning, so I went looking for this post (read the comments, too) from December of 2003 that discusses one of the earlier pieces of evidence that the administration was in no way interested in bringing democracy or freedom to Iraq - just as they are trying to get rid of it in the United States.

Hm, an NYT reporter, David Rosenbaum, breaks the Abramoff story in 2002 and Steno Sue gets around to following it up three years later and is lauded for breaking it herself. And then the reporter gets killed just as it's all coming to a head. Xymphora, who as you know is even more paranoid than I am, finds reason to be suspicious. (And much the same about the Canadian election.)

12:06 GMT

Tuesday, 24 January 2006

I survived the dentist
(You can see I'm really losing my creative faculties where these post titles are concerned....)

One day, we'll have the leanest, meanest, most honest underwater gubmint you ever saw..., from Your Right Hand Thief.

I agree with Josh Marshal about this: George H. W. Bush left office to be followed by two terms of Bill Clinton. He in turn was followed by two terms of Bush's son. If those two terms of the son are followed by the election of Clinton's wife, I don't see where that's a good thing for this country. It ceases to be a fluke and grows into a pattern. It's dynasticism. (Also: The more I learn about Feeney, the more I think he is just the kind of guy who would have asked a programmer to fix a voting system so he could cheat. And Pete McCloskey wants to challenge "one of the thirteen most corrupt Members of Congress" in the primary. Blimey! Pete McCloskey!)

Via Atrios (who has been posting lots of great stuff the last couple of days), Harry Reid's speech (video, transcript) to the Center for American Progress on the real state of the union and the costs of Republican corruption. (The video he refers to in his speech is The State of Presidential Credibility.)

Isn't modern science wonderful? (via)

23:17 GMT

Out of balance

Jane Hamsher notes that the prize on offer for the Best Political Blog award which she, Wonkette, Daily Kos, Crooks and Liars, and Talking Points Memo are in competition for is a book by a right-winger, obviously offered at a time when it was assumed that, as usual, right-wingers would dominate the nominations.

I have written no similar book about the Republican Party to balance this, but I do have a spare of my last (and increasingly out of date) book. Do you think a copy of Nudes, Prudes and Attitudes would take the edge off?

And perhaps other liberal blogging authors would like to provide their own. Something more appropriate, like this or this or this or one of this guy's books.

I mean, we really can't leave this state of affairs as it is, can we?

13:55 GMT

The worst of all possible national security

In this morning's Washington Post, E.J. Dionne says:

And, yes, the core questions must be asked: Are we really safer now than we were five years ago? Has the Iraq war, as organized and prosecuted by the administration, made us stronger or weaker? Do we feel more secure knowing the heck of a job our government did during Hurricane Katrina? Do we have any confidence that the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies will clean up their act if Washington remains under the sway of one-party government?
If the Democratic leadership had any guts, they could make this issue a winner, because this administration has failed us on every single issue of national security, from our levees and mines to our skies to our hope for international support. They have done everything wrong in Afghanistan and then created the disaster in Iraq. Democrats should never stop pointing out that:
  • 9/11 happened on Bush's watch because this administration failed us.
  • It was administration policy from the moment they took office to focus policing and intelligence on pot-smokers and hookers and deliberately ignore Al Qaeda and even overt warnings that an attack was imminent.
  • The mission in Afghanistan has been thrown away by the administration.
  • Our economic stability, without which we can not hope to effectively defend ourselves, is under grave threat from this administration's policies.
  • Our army has been dramatically weakened by this administration's policies.
  • The Invasion of Iraq, illegal and foolhardy to begin with, has been followed by a disasterous occupation in which every single thing we know about rebuilding was ignored and thus Iraqis who once thanked us now hate us, and with them, most of the world hates us.
  • Our infrastructure and disaster response have been crippled by design of this administration.
  • This administration's insistence on spying on an ever-widening circle of harmless Americans has made the accumulation of useful intelligence more difficult.
There is not one single thing the administration has ever done to protect us - in fact, in each instance, their actions have placed us in greater peril.

It isn't simply that they are "weak" on national security; they are attacking the very foundations of our security, at every level.

12:16 GMT

Whirling, transient nodes of thought
(I'd completely forgotten that line.)

Digby: Notice how Limbaugh and the preachers pander to the depraved imagination? It's not religious values these people are selling. They are selling a brutal, domineering, degenerate culture, making their listeners and viewers wallow in it, plumbing the depths of the subconscious, drawing forth Goyaesque images of bestiality and violence and death. That's a feature of some religions, to be sure, but it's not the nice upright Christian morality everybody's pretending it is.

Oh, yeah, The Hotline has an interview with Digby.

Familiarize yourself with the new blogs of 2005 and blogs that may be deserving of wider recognition to get ready to nominate for the Koufax Awards. And send the Wampum blog some bucks to help defray the costs of hosting the awards, too.

Everything is partisan: There is no reasonable way out of this. They do politics and they (rightfully) accuse their opponents of doing politics. It is a partisan political act to try to help poor black people vote, just as much as it's a partisan political act to prevent them from voting. There is no part of the government left that isn't a handmaiden to the elected officials. The only solution is to defeat the elected officials electorally.

Mary at Pacific Views on Building the Cult of Bush.

Alternet has created another blog, called Echo Chamber, to "amplify the best of the left". See what you think of Framing the "A" word.

Let's face it, James Wolcott is brilliant.

The Rittenhouse Review found a good letter in the paper suggesting that pols Let Voters Choose Their Own Candidate in the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania instead of waiting for the general election to choose between two candidates who hold the same views.

Arianna says there's a lot wrong with the idea that Hillary is "electable".

Jane Hamsher has announced a new blog called Open Letter to the Washington Post, since the Post blog is deleting comments. So now if you want to complain about the WaPo, you can do it at the new blog.

03:08 GMT

Monday, 23 January 2006

Republicans: unserious about fighting terrorists

Greg Sargent notes a not entirely useful response from Howard Dean to Karl Rove's lie that, "President Bush believes if Al Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why. Some important Democrats clearly disagree."

Since I have never heard any Democrat say that, I agree with Greg that Dean should have made that point first and hardest - Karl Rove can't name a single "important Democrat" who has ever said such a thing; none has. It's just a lie.

But I don't think there's any harm in questioning this administration's credentials when it comes to fighting terrorism. I left this comment below Greg's post:

As far as I can tell, the only people in America who ever thought we shouldn't spy on Al Qaeda are in the Bush administration.

I've never heard one single Democrat say we shouldn't spy on Al Qaeda, but I do know that after being warned about them by the out-going Clinton administration, Bush got into office and promptly told our intelligence services not to spy on bin Laden's little friends.

And I still have no evidence that Bush wants to spy on Al Qaeda. I know he wants to spy on the Quakers and other peace groups, but his desire to increase the amount of unnecessary, dead-end intel going into our records just suggests to me that he wants it to be harder to find the real thing.

I think Bush is protecting Al Qaeda.

But I guess Howard Dean probably shouldn't say that....

On the other hand, maybe he should.

18:11 GMT

Political notes

You know, I would have thought that conservatives would have been embarrassed enough by the tardy termination of the pointless and unfounded investigation of Henry Cisneros that they would have wanted all mention of the case to go away. Instead, they are turning it into yet another Clinton administration scandal at this late date. Apparently the independent counsel is now claiming that administration officials blocked his investigation, but there's no evidence for that claim. Not that this has stopped the wingers from saying it's government corruption under a Democratic administration, of course - but then, they'll use any excuse to do that, and they sure need an excuse right now.

Our brave Attorney General has fought the good fight to protect our nation against people who know people who might be involved in eco-vandalism. (Someone in Rachel's comment thread suggests it's wrong that these people are called "eco-terrorists" but people who bomb abortion clinics are not called "Christian terrorists".)

Support for Katherine Harris' Senatorial race just doesn't seem to be generating enthusiasm. I wonder what causes that? (via).

Russell Shaw on The Real Reason "The West Wing" Was Cancelled: : So, then, the choice for "The West Wing" brain trust would be to show a new Administration that was either implausible or detestable. Given the show's distinguished pedigree and well-established persona, doing either would have been too sharp a break.

It's no surprise to me that Firedoglake has been nominated as a Best weblog about politics. (Also: It's a shame Obama didn't tell Russert that Harry Belefonte fought for our freedoms and can say anything he wants.)

KathyF endorses a candidate. I have to say that I've privately been feeling that way myself for months, but an endorsement from Joe Klein in a stupid article is more likely to change my mind than reinforce that feeling. However, an endorsement from Bernie Sanders is really worth something.

16:29 GMT

Sugar for breakfast
(Coco Pops, actually. I don't usually eat this kinda stuff.)

There's still time to fax your senators and tell them they really, really must do everything they can to keep Alito off the Supreme Court. (But write your own message.)

Mister Answer Man discusses the latest in the campus wars at UCLA.

Jane Hamsher: The other day on a conference call Harry Reid acknowledged that people like Chris Matthews and Tim Russert were abject water carriers for the GOP, and said that blogs were the only way to get the Democrats' message out there "unfiltered." I was happy to see John Kerry backing up the blogger smackdown of Matthews, because people like Lou Dobbs are going to continue to spew disinformation on a regular basis until we let them know it is not okay to say Jack Abramoff gave money to Democrats when he didn't, it is not okay to compare Michael Moore to Osama bin Laden, and there are consequences.

Two excerpts from Kurt Vonnegut's memoir, A Man Without a Country, in the Guardian, Hollow laughter and Custodians of chaos.

Dr. Dean says: "Karl Rove only has a White House job and a security clearance because President Bush has refused to keep his promise to fire anyone involved in revealing the identity of an undercover CIA operative," said Dean. "Rove's political standing gets him an invitation to address Republicans in Washington, DC today, but it doesn't give him the credibility to question Democrats' commitment to national security. The truth is, Karl Rove breached our national security for partisan gain and that is both unpatriotic and wrong." (via)

So how did people like Gore's speech? His popularity went up with Dems and Independents afterwards: Gore's favorable ratings among Democrats increased from 64 percent to 77 percent among those who viewed it. Favorable ratings among Independents increased from 25 percent to 36 percent after viewing the speech. Republicans hate him more than ever, of course.

Avery Ant on What to Expect from George Bush in 2006.

12:22 GMT

And now it's time for...

Body Basics underwired bra

The Bra of the Week

Republicans...or the Mafia?

Run, Al, run! Some people think it might just happen - and they're... Eleanor Clift, Tony Blankley and Pat Buchanan.

Gee, do you think there could be problems with those voting machines in Florida? Yes! And is it news? No, but as The Brad Blog says, it's news that the WaPo finally noticed it.

This thing from Billmon about Abramoff is almost funny.

I typed "Democratic Party" into this anagram generator and got "A mad, erotic crypt." Some days that seems about right. Via Biomes Blog.

Ah, yes, my girl Rachel socking it to Tucker Carlson about how Osama uses Bush talking points.

JIHADBALL! Via Peter Daou, who says things go better when party leaders work with the blogosphere.

00:16 GMT

Sunday, 22 January 2006

Internecine warfare

This is from Carolyn Kay's e-mail. (She continually frustrates me by sending stuff she should be posting on her site. I really wish she would just blog it.)

From The New York Times, 1/22/06 - a Clinton advisor says that "pockets" on the left are against the war in Iraq, and that makes them "enemies" of Senator Clinton:
The [White House] attacks [on Senator Clinton] may help energize her network of financial supporters at a time when she faces no serious opposition in her re-election bid this year in New York. But perhaps more important, the Republican attacks are already leading Democrats to rally around her, at a time when the senator is facing criticism from pockets on the left on several issues, chiefly her support for the war in Iraq. "If a person is defined by their friends and their enemies, she has all the right enemies," said one Democrat who is close to Mrs. Clinton.
From Zogby International, 1/15/06 - Zogby shows that the "pockets" consist of almost the entire Democratic Party:
While 61% of Republicans said he was doing a good job managing the war (down from 70% in October), just 11% of Democrats and 28% of independents gave him good marks in that area. Among Democrats, 71% said Bush was doing a "poor" job with the war, while 17% said he was doing only a "fair" job.
Why listen to an "advisor" who doesn't even know what the Democratic base believes and wants?
Well, that's pretty typical of the DLC types, isn't it? We're not constituents or even potential voters, we're "pockets". Thanks.

And actually posted at Make Them Accountable: Political Debates of Tomorrow.

14:31 GMT

Not one red cent

So, Deborah Howell finally said the words she should have said immediately:

I wrote that he gave campaign money to both parties and their members of Congress. He didn't.
But then she does it again:
I should have said he directed his client Indian tribes to make campaign contributions to members of Congress from both parties.
Well, that's better than the way she phrased it before, but we still haven't had evidence that "his clients" gave any money to Democrats merely because he said so, let alone that it has anything to do with the legal and ethical violations with which the Republicans are charged.
My mistake set off a firestorm. I heard that I was lying, that Democrats never got a penny of Abramoff-tainted money, that I was trying to say it was a bipartisan scandal, as some Republicans claim. I didn't say that. It's not a bipartisan scandal; it's a Republican scandal, and that's why the Republicans are scurrying around trying to enact lobbying reforms.
And why they are trying to pretend that it's a bipartisan scandal. Hustling "lobbying reforms" is part of that, because lobbying reforms are beside the point - it's not that the laws are weak (although they are) and therefore both parties violate them, it's that the laws exist and Republicans are violating them.
But there is no doubt about the campaign contributions that were directed to lawmakers of both parties. Records from the Federal Election Commission and the Center for Public Integrity show that Abramoff's Indian clients contributed money to 195 Republicans and 88 Democrats between 1999 and 2004. The Post also has copies of lists sent to tribes by Abramoff with his personal directions on which members were to receive what amounts.
The tribes (all of them, whether they were Abramoff clients or not) gave money to Democrats. That tells me nothing about whether the money any Amerinds, including those who were ripped-off by Abramoff, gave to Democrats was "directed" by him or just money they gave, just as they always had.

The tribes always gave money to Democrats. But Abramoff's tribal clients suddenly started giving more money to Republicans. There's no evidence that Democrats got a single penny because of Abramoff; on the contrary, it seems clear they got less money because of Abramoff.

So why does Howell keep emphasizing this point? It's just a GOP talking point that is repeatedly made in order to muddy the waters and deflect our attention from the fact that it is Abramoff's activities and those of his Republican bribe-takers, not those of the tribes or the Democrats, that breached both ethics and the law.

12:12 GMT

Why the right screams when we compare Bush with Hitler

Because it's true:

Mr. Nadler said that as he read the broad presidential power claimed by Mr. Bush, "if he were in Germany in 1933, he would not have required the Enabling Act to pass the Reichstag to claim the power," a reference to the law that gave Hitler broad power to run the country.
Well, it's true, except for the fact that even Hitler had to get legislation passed to give him that power. Bush is just taking it.
In a later statement, Mr. Cherlin said Mr. Nadler had "picked an example that he shouldn't have" in illustrating his point.
The administration should not be forcing such illustrations. The administration should not be putting our troops into positions where they have to say they were "just following orders" when they are court martialled. The administration should not be doing things that are lawless, immoral, and unconstitutional.

But, mainly, the administration should not be the administration. And the Republicans in Congress should not be enabling them.

The White House declined to send anyone to testify at the Democratic event. Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the Wisconsin Republican who leads the House Judiciary Committee and who has declined to schedule hearings on the eavesdropping program, said the event did not meet Congressional standards because of a "completely one-sided list of witnesses."

While several witnesses brought reputations as liberal critics of the administration, one witness, Bruce Fein, had been a senior Justice Department official under President Ronald Reagan and was critical of the program's legal underpinnings.

Mr. Fein suggested that he would have resigned rather than acquiesce in such a program.

Principled Republicans and conservatives oppose this administration. There do not appear to be any in Congress.

But maybe that's wrong, too. Maybe no one who actually believes in the Constitution is a conservative at all. We seem now to be hearing that supporting the Constitution is just some whacked-out liberal idea. And I guess it is.

[Update: Kip reminds me in comments of why comparisons between Bush and Hitler are unfair to Hitler.]

11:03 GMT

Not ready for breakfast

A fairly interesting article about The Rise of Blogs talks about the extent to which the blogosphere has changed the terrain for mass media and in party politics, and contains this passage:

The National Republican Congressional Committee is the only campaign committee that mostly ignores blogs, and Communications Director Carl Forti said it has no plans to change that. "A lot of times," he said, "you just don't know how reliable the information on these things is. ... Ninety percent of the time, we know more than they do."
Well, of course, since what right-wing bloggers "know" is usually talking points handed down from the GOP's political hacks. And you don't need to read too many right-wing blogs to find out what all of them are saying - they're saying what they've pretty much been told to think. It kind of works the other way around on liberal blogs, though, and it's clear that the Democratic Party's leadership doesn't read them enough. Via TalkLeft, where I also found a good post about the likely effect of bin Laden's latest PR exercise and news that a death-penalty moratorium bill has been killed in California. Also check out this story about the judge who said, "As a result, I am obligated to and will now impose this unfair and, more important, unjust sentence."

Wayward Christian Soldiers by Charles Marsh in the NYT: IN the past several years, American evangelicals, and I am one of them, have amassed greater political power than at any time in our history. But at what cost to our witness and the integrity of our message? Well, I'm glad someone is wondering. And shouldn't they be complaining about this, too? It shouldn't be down to Atrios to have to ask these questions.

Don't look at the constitutional crisis - Quixote says we keep having them, and we keep being told to ignore them. Is it because people don't find the subject entertaining? I don't think so - this is the excuse often provided for why we see some stories and not others, but there are plenty of big stories that would capture the public's attention if given an airing, yet we never see them because someone has decided we shouldn't. (Jonathan Alter is also looking at the constitutional crisis thing.)

OK, so much for giving the WaPo the benefit of the doubt. They don't deserve it. And either way, Atrios is right again.

09:56 GMT

Saturday, 21 January 2006

On swearing at The Washington Post

I was once on a panel on "self-censorship" that I mostly remember for being the time I met Derek Jarman, but I crystallized something there that might bear repeating.

I talked about the argument you have with your mother in which you are having trouble getting through to her and you finally show her that you are so upset that, for the first time in your life, you swear at her.

And instead of having clued her that she has crossed a line and pushed you too far, what you've done is given her an excuse to completely derail the whole conversation by giving you a lecture on your language.

So, sure, you had a perfect right to give expression to your frustration, and if mom had been a more mature and insightful person she would have seen past the shocking language to recognize how much she had upset you, but she's only human and she didn't and now you've blown it, because you have failed in your primary goal, which was to communicate.

Now, let me make this clear: I don't think people who lecture you on your language in the middle of an argument - especially in upsetting conditions - are being "more mature" than someone who swears. Every time I hear someone claim that using vulgarity is ignorant my first thought is, "Boy, are you ignorant!" Swearing is no big deal, really. Saying "fuck" is not really special, it's just a word that is in such common usage among peers (at any level) that you might as well complain about "the". And if you think highly literate, intelligent, articulate people don't use those words, you're just plain dumb; we use all the words - we just make better sentences with them.

But there are plenty of people in the world who love language less than they love feeling like they are better than you, and the first time you swear at someone your main message is: "You're not better than me. I don't have to use especially formal and respectful language when I talk to you. I use these words with my peers, and I can use them with you, too." Your mother doesn't want to hear that. Ever.

And neither, I would guess, does your Senator, your boss, or the Ombudsman of The Washington Post. It shouldn't matter that they feel that way, but it's how it is. If you're going to make any other point with them, you might want to skip making that one. (And if you must make that point, there are better ways to do it.)

So you do what some people call "self-censorship" but I call "editing": You omit the dirty words and instead use language that will best communicate what you think the person on the receiving end really needs to learn. You don't swear at your mother if you know it will accomplish no more than another lecture on language. You don't call Deborah Howell a fucking bitch if you know perfectly well it's not going to convince her that repeating untrue GOP talking points is a bad policy for one of the nation's leading newspapers.

That doesn't mean they're right. (I think I've mentioned before that I once had a guy lecture me for using "unladylike language" after he had just admitted he had tried to run me into oncoming traffic. He baldly and unashamedly stated that he had tried to kill me and an unknown number of innocent bystanders, but he thought he was in a position to go all morally superior on me because I had let him know exactly what I thought of his attempted murder. It seemed to me there was something deeply out of balance, there.) But if you choose to communicate that someone else is in error, try and do that, rather than communicating what you know will be interpreted as, "I'm mean and nasty."

For the most part, I think people who complain about dirty words are mostly ignorant idiots, to be frank. Still, if you think you can just use such words at random when talking to anyone and everyone without consequence, you're an idiot, too. Maybe you should be able to, but you can't, so grow up.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that Deborah Howell is a jackass and the WaPo has handled the whole issue badly, stupidly, defensively, dishonestly, and a whole lot of other unfriendly descriptors, but swearing at her is counterproductive, so cut it out.

Oh, and Jay Rosen has interviewed the WaPo's Jim Brady on the subject at PressThink, so you might want to read that.

13:29 GMT

Buncha stuff

Karl Rove calls for civility in politics - and then does his uncivil best.... Well, you know what to expect. And, of course: Mr. Rove made no mention of Republican opposition to both the Patriot Act and the surveillance program, which has posed a political problem for this White House, while he laid out his case against the Democrats, speaking rapidly. Via Taylor Marsh.

Walter Shapiro, who is not exactly some teenaged blogger or something, has a piece up in Salon explaining why it's time for the Dems to stop listening to the consultants.

Molly Ivins says "I will not support Hillary Clinton for president": What kind of courage does it take, for mercy's sake? The majority of the American people (55 percent) think the war in Iraq is a mistake and that we should get out. The majority (65 percent) of the American people want single-payer health care and are willing to pay more taxes to get it. The majority (86 percent) of the American people favor raising the minimum wage. The majority of the American people (60 percent) favor repealing Bush's tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (66 percent) wants to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes. Via Bob Geiger, who is paying his respects to a lot of women today.

MahaBarb explains the true meaning of Osama's latest message and why the right-wing talking point is rubbish. James Wolcott does, too.

Sisyphus Shrugged links to an amusing post by a Republican blogger who got into some conference calls with the candidates for the Congressional leadership and got a rude surprise.

The latest study showing that men are different from women. Damned if I know.

03:49 GMT

Friday, 20 January 2006

Thoughts and recommendations

I haven't checked to see if the terror alert level has gone up, but I haven't heard anything, either, and usually we hear about it when it happens. Of course, usually it happens just at a moment when the White House needs some distraction to frighten people with so they won't pay attention to either something a Democrat did that might get public approval or something the Bushistas did that ought to get them arrested. (I particularly liked the Ohio alert that forced the ballot counting to be done in secret.) But we're in a constant state of the White House needing a distraction, lately, so I don't suppose it makes a difference. But let's recap, shall we? Osama announced on the radio that he had a big attack on the US planned, Bush/Cheney ignored it, 9/11 happened. Now Osama announces that he's got another attack planned, and I'm not being bombarded with terror alert crap. Makes me wonder if there's an interesting PDB on the way to the Oval Office. (No, it doesn't make me wonder if all the terror alert business is just political - I already know that.)

Yesterday Think Progress got a look at the Congressional Research Service [CRS] report that said Bush broke the law; then they got to see the White House response, which is "42 Pages of Silly" padding out two short, contradictory points, neither of which are true.

Huh. I never noticed before that Hitchens sounds just like Ayatollah Khomeini. (via)

Go read ReddHead, who was stimulated to still more thoughtful writing after reading Krugman's piece (cited earlier) and Norman Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann's If You Give a Congressman a Cookie.

I like these paintings, and this photo of some guy named Phil with his homemade piano. (But I think Roger could take some advice where text is concerned.)

19:27 GMT

News watching

So, Osama made another speech and stated the obvious: He's still alive and still a threat because Bush got us all involved with this distraction in Iraq which has done more for Al Qaeda than it's done for us. And the GOP reaction, of course, is to show how serious they are about terrorism by attacking Michael Moore, Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean and other Democrats or liberals.

The official White House response from Scott McClellan was:

We do not negotiate with terrorists. We put them out of business.
Yeah, when are you gonna start doing that? John Kerry reminds us that they had their chance:
You'd think the only focus tonight would be on destroying Osama Bin Laden, not comparing him to an American who opposes the war whether you like him or not. You want a real debate that America needs? Here goes: If the administration had done the job right in Tora Bora we might not be having discussions on Hardball about a new Bin Laden tape. How dare Scott McClellan tell America that this Administration puts terrorists out of business when had they put Osama Bin Laden out of business in Afghanistan when our troops wanted to, we wouldn't have to hear this barbarian's voice on tape. That's what we should be talking about in America.
It's pretty obvious the Republicans worked fast to make sure everyone knew the talking point in response to bin Laden's tape: Tie him to Democrats, liberals, and anti-war supporters. And they can't let up for a minute on that, or else people might notice that bin Laden is much more like Fallwell than like Moore, has far closer ties to the Bush family and other Republicans than to Kennedy, and that it was the Bush administration that left us open for 9/11 in the first place and they still aren't doing a damned thing to make us safer. And the media, including alleged liberals like Matthews, picked it up right on cue.

[Update: More from Peter Daou.]

In The Nation, Eric Alterman says coverage of the Alito hearings shows again that it ain't no liberal media, and he doesn't like Joe Klein any more than I do, either, in Never Mind the Truth...:

Among the most egregious offenders against journalistic standards and simple honesty for the purpose of abusing liberals is Time's Joe Klein, who is, amazingly, the most liberal commentator currently employed by America's highest-circulation newsweekly. (Klein's animus toward liberals coupled with his cavalier treatment of inconvenient facts could hardly be in greater contrast to that of Newsweek's high-profile liberal columnist Jonathan Alter, whose solid reporting and tempered idealism serves as a kind of remnant and reminder of the long-defunct liberal Establishment.) [...] So here, apparently, is the punditocracy argument in a nutshell: Never mind that liberals are constitutionally correct. Never mind that their view is supported by a majority of Americans. And never mind that the Bush Administration has repeatedly lied to the American people on exactly these issues. Never mind, most of all, the truth.
Joe Klein's idea of getting serious about terrorism, as we have seen, is to attack Democrats for refusing to accept Bush's war against freedom as anything akin to protecting our nation - because it isn't.

Breaking: Whale spotted in central London: A whale has made its way up the River Thames to central London, where it is being watched by riverside crowds. There's a video clip and live video feed on the page.

15:15 GMT

Last night's links

So Harry Reid put out a report called "Republican Abuse of Power", and Republicans screamed so Reid apologized. What is wrong with these people?

Democrats undecided on Alito filibuster. Come on!

Cronyism and Kickbacks: Ed Harriman on the economics of reconstruction in Iraq at the London Review of Books. (Thanks to Helga for the tip.)

First, Do More Harm by Paul Krugman.

Oh, look, Ro Nagey has a blog.

Can anyone read this?


11:34 GMT

Look through any window

Madison stretch lace demi bra

Extra Bra of the Week - Couldn't resist, they're having a sale!

Hm, now the WaPo's Technoriti links are back on the pages. On the other hand, they shut down all the comments to Deborah Howell's post at their blog. Jane Hamsher recommends leaving them here instead.

In any case, there is a lot more sense among the Post's readers than we tend to find in its editors.

Liberalism without Cynicism has a little twirl around The Corner and reports back on their attempts to belittle Al Gore.

Watching the Republicans consistently attack the service of veterans is disgusting enough, but it sure would be nice if the Democrats could really appreciate what they have in Murtha. Digby reports. Oh, and speaking of smear merchants.... (Look, the GOP has to make up smears about Democrats, so they don't look quite so bad. Even Tammany Hall itself was never as bad as these creeps.)

Deborah White has another round-up of responses to Gore's speech.

What's good for workers is good for business. No, really. I keep tryin' to tell ya this. (Also: No more free speech. You remember that guy who got busted for refusing to retire to a "Free Speech Zone", saying the US of A already is one? He was wrong.)

MadKane is singing for a filibuster - "If Not Now, Then When?"

00:03 GMT

Thursday, 19 January 2006

And then I noticed...

The WaPo seems to have removed the Technorati links to blogs from it's pages. Boy, they really can't take the heat, can they? (It's probably my fault, I've been so mean to them.) I guess they were afraid of what they'd be linked to after repeating the same GOP-generated rubbish in this article. Cowards.

Hmmm. Diplomats to Be Shifted To Hot Spots: U.S. will move hundreds of Foreign Service positions from Europe and Washington to difficult assignments in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere as part of a broad restructuring of diplomatic corps.

Egalia at Tennessee Guerrilla Women has Bob Herbert's column in response to Al Gore's speech, Who Will Stand Up for the Constitution?

An Inconvenient Truth, a 94-minute film directed by Davis Guggenheim: ... is the gripping story of former Vice President Al Gore, who became interested in this startling issue while at college 30 years ago, and now devotes his life to reversing global warming. Traveling the world, he has built a visually mesmerizing presentation designed to disabuse doubters of the notion that climate change is debatable. (via)

20:48 GMT

I saw a robin

Wow, Atrios is right, Broder is sounding almost sane in today's article, which is called "Gore's Challenge", interestingly:

Former vice president Al Gore has turned himself into a one-man grand jury, ready to indict the Bush administration for any number of crimes against the Constitution. Whether you agree with Gore's conclusions or not, the speech that the 2000 Democratic nominee for president gave this week in Washington was as comprehensive a rundown of George W. Bush's ventures to the limits of executive authority as anyone could hope to find.
But even after discounting for political motivations, it seems to me that Gore has done a service by laying out the case as clearly and copiously as he has done. His overall charge is that Bush has systematically broken the laws and bent the Constitution by his actions in the areas of national security and domestic anti-terrorism.
And after agreeing with Gore's suggested remedies, he says:
Gore is certainly right about one thing. When he challenged the members of Congress to "start acting like the independent and co-equal branch of government you're supposed to be," he was issuing a call of conscience that goes well beyond any partisan criticism.
So, now the Dean of Conventional Beltway Wisdom has declared Gore sensible. This could get interesting.

17:09 GMT


I just listened to Rachel Maddow trying to talk to Joe Klein on her show and it was infuriating. He started off saying she was going "berserk" when she asked a legitimate question. He used debunked claims to justify the excuses for illegal wiretapping. He seemed to think fishing expeditions were a good and legitimate thing. (And yes, he did use the apparent belief that these are especially perilous times post-9/11 blah blah blah). He complained about Rachel's tone to evade her points. He said she was being "hysterical". She called him on it but she was way, way too polite to the smug little Luntz-primed creep. Sorry, Joe, just because you're not Ann Coulter doesn't mean you're not a Republican shill.

What if they threw a television system and nobody came?

Glen at A Brooklyn Bridge is casting Atlas Shrugged: "For the role of James Taggart, I nominate George Bush."

13:27 GMT

Breakfast links

New Method for Flagging Vote Miscount Released: After over a year of research, the National Election Data Archive (NEDA) has developed a new sophisticated statistical method for indicating whether reported vote counts in any particular election race between two candidates have, or have not, been counted correctly. The method is being made publicly available on the Internet "Vote Miscount or Exit Poll Error? New Mathematical Function for Analyzing Exit Poll Discrepancy", is publicly available. at [.pdf link] and will enable independent analysts to objectively evaluate the validity of any past or future election results. [...] NEDA will shortly be releasing a report using this analysis method for Ohio's 2004 presidential election. It will provide striking support for corrupted Ohio vote counts of sufficient magnitude to reverse the outcome of the election.

I always enjoy seeing what happens when these right-wingers suddenly see the light and realize what Bush has brought us to, often saying much stronger things than any liberal ever has. For example, Paul Craig Roberts, in "Bush Has Crossed the Rubicon": Dictatorships seldom appear full-fledged but emerge piecemeal. When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon with one Roman legion he broke the tradition that protected the civilian government from victorious generals and launched the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. Fearing that Caesar would become a king, the Senate assassinated him. From the civil wars that followed, Caesar's grandnephew, Octavian, emerged as the first Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus. Via Scrutiny Hooligans.

Also found at SH, the unlikely story that the US government has found Jose Padilla's Al Qaeda application form. And, in the comments, I found a link to a copy of his application. Blah3 has a clean copy of what must be a newer version.

I was rather disappointed with how Jon Stewart stuck close to RNC spin on Hillary's MLK-day speech. Skippy supplies an important item that was left out of the coverage.

I love it when Maru does stuff like this.

Dr. Bonner's quote generator (via)

Watch the video of "Real Love". (Thanks to Patrick.)

11:23 GMT

Riches of the Internet

Kevin Drum calls our attention to "what may be the lamest criticism ever of an elected official" in response to the Democratic plan on Congressional corruption: Republicans mounted a fierce counteroffensive....accusing Mr. Reid of using his Senate office to prepare political documents.

Jim Henley on torture and tough choices, via a post full of cool links from PZ Myers, who of course says Al Gore oughta be president. Also found a link there to this first-person report on Gore's speech from someone who was there.

StealthBadger also provides a first-person report from Constitution Hall.

Did I say leadership? Why, even Grover Norquist and Paul Weyrich are "urging lawmakers to use NSA hearings to establish a solid foundation for restoring much needed constitutional checks and balances to intelligence law." See, Gore speaks, people listen! (via)

The Ostroy Report says Gore is running. God, I hope so. (Also: Feinstein Wimps Out on Alito. Dems Still Have a Lot to learn About Winning.)

Another country heard from (via)

The NewStandard is another news site trying to bring you hard news. But they're trying to be reader-funded - don't know how that's gonna work out. Give them a look.

Exploding objects photo gallery

Stainless steel high-heeled shoes (Thanks to Dominic for the tip.)

02:56 GMT

Wednesday, 18 January 2006

Time for a cuppa tea

Atrios tells you all you need to know about Ceci Connolly's article about the latest White House PR campaign to "fix" the disaster of the prescription drug "benefit" by saying it's really cool - but Crooks and Liars points out that even Novak hates it.

Charles Krakpothammer attacks the lily-livered Europeans; Armand at Bloodless Coup does the honors; so do Kevin Drum and Big Media Matt focus the mind on the bottom line.

I like Circus Minimus as the name for a weblog. Here are the Ringmaster's comments on the Republicans' version of "lobbying reform", and here is an amusing graphic.

Annie has a little round-up of quotes on how the GOP has been Medicareless.

I was tempted to put this animated .gif into this post but I decided to be nice to the people on dial-up since I wasn't sure how fast it would load. (Though it loads pretty quickly here.)

21:09 GMT

Bits of news

Republicans are pretending to make lobbying reforms in the name of ethics. I have a better plan: How about if Republicans hold themselves to a high ethical standard and also obey the law? That would be good. However, it would be against their nature. So let's just get them out of government.

Kos says Lieberman is freaking out about a primary challenge from Ned Lamont, and is trying to get the party to help him fight it off. And, it appears, the party is not real happy with Lieberman and isn't responding too helpfully to these pleas. Lieberman is said to be threatening to run as an Independent, which presumably means he expects to get Republican money.

It should be lost on no one that prosecuting a lawyer (and her translator!) for aiding terrorists merely because they represented someone in a case is an outrageous attempt to prevent due process from taking place. But it's part of the Republican program to make sure people they don't like don't receive fair representation. And despite the fact that this prosecution should never have taken place, the translator was convicted. Jim Bovard: Yousry could receive 20 years in prison when he is sentenced in March. His prison sentence will be another in a long series of victories by federal prosecutors over decency and fair play. (via) Yousry was convicted in the flurry of madness immediately following 9/11, but since then at least one juror has said they voted out of cowardice.

Newsarama reports that Captain Confederacy will be on the web as a result of an ignorant attack on the comic by someone who saw issue four of a 12-issue series. Will Shetterly has set up a Captain Confederacy site at Blogspot and has posted up to page 22 as of now.

Jesus sings "I Will Survive".

15:33 GMT

On leadership

The White House is responding to criticisms the Honorable Albert Gore, Jr., Senator Hillary Clinton, and others, as well as two lawsuits against Bush for exceeding his authority and violating the Fourth Amendment*, in it's usual way: by sneering and lying. Scott McClellan asserted that, "Al Gore's hypocrisy knows no bounds," attempting to imply that the Clinton administration had broken the FISA law in a way similar to what the Bush administration is now doing, a charge much like the one Attorney General Alberto Gonzales made earlier.

This is a lie, of course, since the law Clinton supposedly broke did not exist at the time, and when the new restriction came into play, the Clinton administration did not fail to abide by it. (Note that the interesting piece of news here, as Judd Legum's headline makes clear, is that the Associated Press actually updated its story by including these facts in its coverage of the White House smear. The White House responded to Gore's criticism with a dishonest smear. The media, thankfully, is beginning to understand that. The larger issue, however, is that the White House doesn't have an honest response to criticism of their warrantless domestic wiretapping program.)

Gore's response to AG Gonzales' falsehoods is at Raw Story, and points out that, "the Attorney General's attempt to cite a previous administration's activity as precedent for theirs - even though factually wrong - ironically demonstrates another reason why we must be so vigilant about their brazen disregard for the law. If unchecked, their behavior would serve as a precedent to encourage future presidents to claim these same powers, which many legal experts in both parties believe are clearly illegal."

But back to that story in the WaPo:

On a day that evoked the presidential campaigns of 2000 and 2004 -- and perhaps that of 2008 -- Bush's chief spokesman lashed out at former vice president Al Gore for "hypocrisy" and at Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) for "out of bounds" criticism. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) joined the fray by accusing Bush of breaking the law.
Note that Clinton and Kerry, both of whom want to claim the mantel of leadership for the Democratic Party, have been pretty quiet about this issue until Al Gore spoke up about it.

Despite the fact that the Clintons were the ones who were supposed to deliver healthcare, Al Gore was the first to mention single-payer. Gore was also the first high-profile Democrat to make the case against invading Iraq. Up until now, the Democratic leadership has carefully ignored Gore, partly because they were too cowardly to agree with positions which were clearly right but not popular among the Washington blitherati, but mainly because acknowledging that Gore is right (when they have been wrong) would have threatened their own ambitions for the presidency.

But this week Gore was too hard to ignore, and so clearly right that even these climbers were forced to agree with him. Gore has been showing the leadership that these people lack, and they are falling behind him in spite of themselves, because he is a leader.

Look, the GOP works hard to dismiss Gore, to call him crazy, to marginalize him, and it's helped to convince some Democrats that he's not someone they need to pay attention to. Meanwhile, please note that the GOP works not nearly as hard to attack Clinton, consistently playing her up as the incipient party nominee for the presidential race in '08. Why do you think they're doing that?

They're a lot more afraid of Gore than they are of Hillary, and not without good reason. Hillary looks like a panderer because she is pandering, but not showing any real leadership. Gore is the leader, and Gore has that one big thing that voters have complained is missing from other candidates: passionate commitment to what he is saying - honesty. Gore is the real thing and that's getting harder and harder to hide. He is obviously not pandering. Even a few members of the press may start to get it soon. I'll be interested to see if MoDo has another column about how Gore is boring.

And having said that, I looked to see what they're saying over at The Huffington Post, and found Cenk Uygur saying Al Gore for President:

I'm trying to figure out why I can't stop thinking about the speech Al Gore gave today in Washington. And I think I know why. We are starving for leaders who are unafraid. Who speak without equivocation. Who say the things that Democrats should have been saying all along but were too mousy to vocalize.

God damn it, we are looking for a leader! Someone to lead us out of the wilderness. And today Al Gore sounded the bell. A call to arms that hit a nerve. It's time to get them back. It's time to be unafraid. It's time to take on these right wing zealots and push back harder than they expect.
After watching this speech today, I have an idea of who might be able to carry that message. A man who already won the presidency once - and can do it again.

I nominate the president to finally become president. We have heard Al Gore today, and I hope he now hears us. We need a leader. Someone who will help us find "a new way beyond the darkness" and bring us home to an America we recognize. Someone who can start that job now and finish it in 2008.

I second that. And I believe Arianna concurs.

13:00 GMT

Tuesday, 17 January 2006

What real people said

You already know the wingers did their usual "he's crazy" thing, but they don't count.

Thomas Nephew: Al Gore's speech yesterday at Constitution Hall was exactly what I've been waiting to hear a major political figure say. I hope he enters the race for president in 2008. I'd work for Gore -- not Hillary, not Biden, not Warner -- in a New York second.

Digby: Al Gore has become the conscience of the Democratic Party. [...] He's singing our song today. If he's crazy then so am I and I'm proud of it.

Will Bunch: Maybe Al Gore's loss in 2000 will be his ticket to the White House in 2008?

Suburban Guerrilla: The speech? Goddamn, it was spine-tingling.

Josh Marshall: I was finally able to give a close read to the Al Gore's speech from yesterday. And I wanted to add my voice to all of those around the web who've been praising what the former vice president said. When I think about the Gore now, in the period since he left elected office, what stands out most about him is the way that he has become a standing rebuke to the shame and moral indolence of today's custodians of received opinion. You can see it in the sneering and bemused responses his speeches receive from the usual cast of characters.

Sean Paul: As I wrote somewhere else today: in 100 years no one will remember a single word George W. Bush ever uttered, but they will remember this speech. Gore made me proud to be a liberal, a Democrat and an American. No speech by an American has managed that in years. Who cares what bile the corporate media whores spew about the speech, what matters is what we do about it.

23:43 GMT

What's goin' around

Civil Rights Giant Fred Gray Warns of Alito Nomination - Faithful Progressive got to shake the hand of Rosa Parks' lawyer.

Boy, Deborah Howell sure is a gift that keeps on giving. Jane Hamsher alerts us that Howell now has a defender who has leapt in to muddy the waters further. (Clients! Dems got money from Abramoff's clients! See how dirty they are? Harry Reid took a red cent!) Meanwhile, the WaPo deleted hundreds of posts from their blog, claiming it was just a dozen, and even Romenesko is talking about it.

Chris Cillizza's headline is Gore Says Bush Broke the Law With Spying: To restore a system of checks and balances to government, Gore proposed appointing a special counsel to look into the domestic surveillance program, developing new whistle-blower protections and not extending the Patriot Act. He urged members of Congress, only one of whom -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) -- was present, to "start acting like the independent and coequal branch of government you're supposed to be." And what are the chances that Dianne "Alito didn't foam at the mouth so we shouldn't filibuster him" Feinstein will take that suggestion to heart? He steered away from any discussion of his future national ambitions, offering only a wry smile in response to a "Gore '08" shout from a man in the crowd.

E.J. Dionne condemns swift-boat liars for their attack on Murtha and their opportunistic "support" for military service as long as it's their veterans and not their draft-dodgers.

Ruth Marcus on Alito-as-computer: But interpreting the law, and the Constitution in particular, is not the mechanistic enterprise that Roberts and Alito describe. Why, even Posner knows that.

Irregular Times has posted a podcast of Al Gore's speech (9.7 MB). (Also, the unsurprising news that Christian Religious Monitors Sit In on Movie Ratings Boards.)

12:32 GMT

Quick links

GOP Dog Training - Good dog, Arlen, waggy tail and beg!

Knight Ridder's Alito story: Factual and fair - so, naturally, the Republicans attacked it for being neither.

You Can Never Say That No One Told You. Yep, I've had the same thought after all of his speeches. (via)

Evil-Doer or Dork with a computer?! There's something strange about Adam Gadahn....

The Year Of Rebalancing by Patrick Doherty - the economic situation is still worse than you think.

Is everyone at Tapped on holiday, or what?

Top Ten Things Overheard At The GOP's Conference To Elect A New Leader

"Install problems"

03:02 GMT

Monday, 16 January 2006

How a real president talks

Raw Story, saying that it drew repeated standing ovations, provides the full text of Al Gore's speech:

Congressman Barr and I have disagreed many times over the years, but we have joined together today with thousands of our fellow citizens-Democrats and Republicans alike-to express our shared concern that America's Constitution is in grave danger.

In spite of our differences over ideology and politics, we are in strong agreement that the American values we hold most dear have been placed at serious risk by the unprecedented claims of the Administration to a truly breathtaking expansion of executive power.As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress to prevent such abuses.

It is imperative that respect for the rule of law be restored.
At present, we still have much to learn about the NSA's domestic surveillance. What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently.

A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government. Our Founding Fathers were adamant that they had established a government of laws and not men. Indeed, they recognized that the structure of government they had enshrined in our Constitution - our system of checks and balances - was designed with a central purpose of ensuring that it would govern through the rule of law. As John Adams said: "The executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them, to the end that it may be a government of laws and not of men."
The President's judicial appointments are clearly designed to ensure that the courts will not serve as an effective check on executive power. As we have all learned, Judge Alito is a longtime supporter of a powerful executive - a supporter of the so-called unitary executive, which is more properly called the unilateral executive. Whether you support his confirmation or not - and I do not - we must all agree that he will not vote as an effective check on the expansion of executive power. Likewise, Chief Justice Roberts has made plain his deference to the expansion of executive power through his support of judicial deference to executive agency rulemaking.
In the United States Senate, which used to pride itself on being the "greatest deliberative body in the world," meaningful debate is now a rarity. Even on the eve of the fateful vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq, Senator Robert Byrd famously asked: "Why is this chamber empty?"
I call upon Democratic and Republican members of Congress today to uphold your oath of office and defend the Constitution. Stop going along to get along. Start acting like the independent and co-equal branch of government you're supposed to be.
The founders of our country faced dire threats. If they failed in their endeavors, they would have been hung as traitors. The very existence of our country was at risk.

Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on establishing the Bill of Rights.

Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the British army was marching on the Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment's notice? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously?

It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same.
As Dr. King once said, "Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us."

President Gore offered a five-point proposal for restoring Constitutional government, and invited us all to join the fight.

Crooks and Liars has some video excerpts; discussion by Glenn Greenwald here.

Update: NYT story here, and C-Span now has the full video. Via Firedoglake.

23:52 GMT

Do this

If you haven't written to you Senators yet, read Bill Scher's Sunday Talkshow Breakdown and then do it now:

The Senate Dems effectively, and nonsensically, threw in the towel on the Alito nomination yesterday.
Just write to them, and let them know that they have no right to throw our Constitution away. Now.

19:45 GMT

On media

Failure is Impossible isn't a weblog, but it's definitely an example of why ordinary citizens take to the net in order to get the real news out to someone when the "real" media fails. Maia Cowan created it in the wake of the debacle of the 2000 Selection to collect information on what really happened and debunk the massive flow of lies that emanated from the Bush campaign to steal the White House.

And Maia introduced us to Paul Lukasiak, who did what every reporter should have done, and none did, in the face of this enormous story: He researched and reported on it. Of course, the corporate media, as we learned to our horror, had no interest in clearing up the facts involved, so that story, "Lost" Votes and a Stolen Election, appeared at Maia's website.

Elections officials in Republican-controlled Florida counties omitted potentially thousands of votes from their certified totals. The ballot designs in these counties encouraged voters to both mark a listed candidate and write in the same candidate's name. Such votes were rejected as overvotes although they are defined by law as valid votes that should be counted. The Florida Secretary of State failed in her duties regarding the conduct of elections by certifying vote totals that did not include these votes.
Perhaps that doesn't seem a remarkable paragraph to you now, but at the time the news media had roundly dismissed any possibility of counting the overvotes. Voices in "authority" indicated that there was no provision in law to count those ballots. The news media repeated endlessly that those votes were "lost". The right-wing insisted that the law had no such provision.

It wasn't true. As Paul and Maia wrote:

FS 101.5614(4) specifies that every ballot containing a potential write-in vote must be examined by a human being, and that the ballots must be counted separately from the machine-counted ballots.
...For each ballot or ballot and ballot envelope on which write-in votes have been cast, the canvassing board shall compare the write-in votes with the votes cast on the ballot card; if the total number of votes for any office exceeds the number allowed by law, a notation to that effect, specifying the office involved, shall be entered on the back of the ballot card or in a margin if voting areas are printed on both sides of the ballot card. Such votes shall not be counted. All valid votes shall be tallied by the canvassing board. [emphasis added]
FS 101.5614(8) makes it clear that write-in votes and manually counted votes are to be tallied separately from machine-tabulated votes.
The return printed by the automatic tabulating equipment, to which has been added the return of write-in, absentee, and manually counted votes, shall constitute the official return of the election. [emphasis added]
Paul Lukasiak was on no one's payroll and had no promise from any mainstream editor that his work would result in professional credit let alone a paycheck, but he did the original reporting that most of us had simply assumed Big Media would already have covered if such a remedy had existed in Florida law.

The idea of weblogging hadn't caught on with liberal activists at the time, so websites were styled as magazines or perhaps one-page newspapers that were added to periodically on separate pages. By late 2001, however, more and more "blogs" were available for original reporting when it arose.

For the most part, weblogs are logs of what an individual blogger has seen elsewhere on the web, but each of us "reporting" to our readers what we have seen, whether simply by looking at the corporate media sites and those of other publications or by doing our own leg-work and offering our own expertise. Many of us combine these - TalkLeft, for example, provides links to other articles and blog posts as well as original expert testimony. Angry Bear, Max, and others offer their analysis as economists. And most of us from time to time relate first-person observations from our environment, expert reporters on our own neighborhoods and places of work.

As to the "news", it is often difficult to distinguish between straight reporting from the Washington press corps and articles by bloggers who have simply read records posted at or the websites of representatives - except that "straight" reporting too frequently includes pointless spin that does more to obscure than to illuminate.

I don't mean to suggest that the whole of the professional news media is useless - far from it. The commercial media has resources that bloggers simply can't command, and there are many very good reporters and columnists out there who present vital information to the public.

But at the same time, too much of the media has become a sort of celebrity priesthood that maintains its position not by exemplifying professionalism and informing the public but by functioning as a conduit for press releases from powerful people who have no intention of allowing the public to know what's really going on.

Paul Lukasiak has gone on to other subjects, most notably the AWOL story, and I'd trust his reporting a lot more than I would that of most mainstream sources - and certainly more than I'd trust anyone in the right-wing blogosphere. And Maia hasn't been updating her own site lately. But every time I see mass media types pretending that they are definitionally superior to bloggers, I remember that on one of the most important stories in American history, they carried water for the people who stole the election, and these two "nobodies" were on the net to tell us just how wrong the media really was.

14:44 GMT

Hot stuff

Must read: Mary at The Left Coaster says George W Bush Has Forfeited His Right to Name a Supreme Court Justice: Jonathan Alter gets is exactly right today when he says that we are on the verge of giving up our checks and balances forever because this man the Senate is about to confirm will castrate the Legislative branch without blinking an eye. So I ask again, what gives these Senators (and that is all the Senators, and not just the Democrats, who swore to protect and defend the Constitution) the right to betray our constitution by confirming this man? That's a good question. You should ask them.

Also via Mary's recommendation, How Conservatives Argue: A Case Study by ellinton at Daily Kos. Oh, God, this is exactly right: Liberal: The USA has fifty states. Conservative: No, it doesn't. [...] You're really something, you know that? You liberals are always going on about how all of us conservatives are racists, how we don't care about anybody but people who look like us. But you don't even want to count the blacks who live in Guam as Americans.

I see Deborah Howell's popularity is increasing by the minute, with Jane Hamsher, Crooks and Liars, John Aravosis and Media Matters all expressing outrage. (I like John's suggestion that the Post needs to hire an ombudsman to keep an eye on Howell. I think we should just write to the post and ask when they are going to hire an ombudsman, full stop.) In a little update, Jane directs us to some more info from AltHippo, who finds Bloomberg saying Abramoff's 'Equal Money' Went Mostly to Republicans: Between 2001 and 2004, Abramoff gave more than $127,000 to Republican candidates and committees and nothing to Democrats, federal records show. At the same time, his Indian clients were the only ones among the top 10 tribal donors in the U.S. to donate more money to Republicans than Democrats. Like Jane says, "Jack Abramoff was a Republican crook who did his level best to funnel every last dime to other Republican crooks. If he could have cut the Democrats off completely from Indian money he no doubt would have." And do check out the comments on the WaPo blog. I particularly enjoyed the comment from Thurston Howell III.

Does anyone beside me find this Steve Gilliard post way too naive and optimistic? I usually like Steve but I can't help the feeling he's overlooking a lot in order to get where he's going. And his last sentence seems to imply that it is the CEO, not the company and all who depend on it, that suffer the consequences when the CEO fails. (Not to mention his remarkable belief that only a few precincts used hackable machines in the last election and that no one has looked at the unusual pattern of anomalous results.)

Oooooh, shiny!

Lance has more snow.

The Dollhouse Under the Hill at Bag End is absolutely marvellous.

12:40 GMT

Sunday, 15 January 2006

A song for our times

Back at the end of the year, Kip Williams contributed this in the comments and I intended to preserve it for all time just as soon as I located that Booman Tribune link he failed to provide, but then I was distracted by my birthday and New Years and all that other stuff and I forgot. Anyway, I'm not gonna look for that link right now (Yo! Kip! Pick up your cues!), but here it is:

I just read this on Booman Tribune, from a so-called journalist who got caught getting paid on the side to write puff pieces for the Gops:
"There is nothing unethical about taking money from someone and writing an article." - Peter Ferrara of the Institute for Policy Innovation, and the Washington Times.
and the next thing you know, I was channeling Tom Jones!

(Music starts)

It's not unethical to take cash from anyone.
It's not unethical to write trash for anyone.
So if you see me pimpin' my ass for anyone
It's not unethical to see me lie,
for lots of pie.

It's not unethical to promote the party line
It's not unethical to turn kool-aid into wine
If you should ever want to be in with friends of mine
It's not unethical,
It happens all the time, it's not a crime
To please the man and take his dime!
Ethics doesn't mean keeping your nose clean
Or staying out of all the slime.

It's not unethical to be owned by anyone
It's not unethical to get boned by anyone
So if your words look like they've been cloned from anyone
It's not unethical for me to take Scaife's nice clean dough

And there's a lot of that going around.

23:27 GMT

There ain't no secrets in the city

Atrios is having posting problems with Blogger, but he's still managed to point to some good links - to this item on a new Zogby poll showing increasing support for impeachment of Bush; a short but scathing prescription for the Democratic Party from John Aravosis; and more on unlovely pseudo-ombudsman Deborah Howell from Califlander at Daily Kos. (DeLong only found two lies in Howell's column.) Don't forget, you can write to Howell here.

You should probably e-mail Fafnir's interview with Sam Alito to your Senators and Congressbeings. Aside from having it made clear for them in remarkably plain English, they might also get a much-needed laugh out of it: ALITO: You know, people are focusing way too much on the triviality of things I've said or done or repeatedly expressed a strident ideological commitment to.

I haven't seen Munich, but I'm not sure seeing it would make Krauthammer's condemnation of it any less murky. Apparently the Holocaust wasn't instrumental in the creation of the Israeli state, but rather it was created because of an "ancient claim". (It is unclear why this claim should be any better than mine to declaring the entire region Armenia.) Strangely, Krauthammer never mentions the one truly solid claim the Israelis do have to the land now called "Israel", whether you believe it's creation was a mistake or not: They are there now.

Michael Kinseley tries to make the argument for civil liberties but he moves up to it so slowly (and without having a particularly firm grasp of the facts) that it might slip by you. Not enough, though, to fool those canny Bush cultists, who know that civil liberties will just interfere with Dick Cheney's clever plan to completely ignore intelligence they already have. (We'll let you know if we ever see this administration doing the things they would be doing if they really gave a damn about our national security. So far, that hasn't happened.)

Rigging the Numbers - Eric Alterman debunks the embarrassing study from two right-wing hacks at UCLA that purports to "prove" a liberal bias in media.

20:40 GMT

Your happenin' world

Mahabarb on What We're Up Against: But the Clintons, and the Democrats through the 1980s and 1990s, mounted no serious challenge to the GOP's control of the sea - the VRWC and the Republican Noise Machine. Today the top of the Democratic Party and their "expert" consultants stick to the Clinton strategy, but now the VRWC has learned how to nullify it. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has tossed away so much of itself it's hard to know what it stands for any more. They don't call 'em "Republican Lite" for nothing.

Billmon on the ratings war in Iraq: Fans of Paddy Chayefsky's incredibly prophetic '70 satire Network may remember the The Mao Tse-tung Hour -- the terrorist-of-the-week reality show produced by his fictional UBS news division [...] Given that Paddy's dark vision of the future of broadcast journalism has since become the programming bible for an entire generation of cable news executives, I guess it's no great surprise that the Mao Tse Tung Hour has also reached the little screen -- but in Iraq, not the U.S., and suitably updated to reflect both modern political realities and the rise of the Internet. (Via The S.N.A.F.U. Principle.)

Once again, the most insightful writing on a topic appears not in news pages or among the paid columnists at The Washington Post, but on the letters page, where readers find fault with Broder and Marcus on the topic of DeLay and Abramoff's corruption.

Although Howard Dean has already done an impressive job as chair of the DNC, he's apparently making people feel better by putting a new fundraiser into a post that was vacated last September: Carl D. Chidlow, who is currently the finance director for Grassroots Democrats -- a state focused fundraising group -- will take over the DNC's vacant fundraising post at the start of next month, according to party officials and contributors. [...] It remains to be seen whether Dean's efforts pay off in a financial windfall for the committee over the next 10 months. Dean allies note that he has already put the committee on strong financial footing. The DNC raised $51 million in 2005, a 20 percent increase from 2003. More hand-shaking with some of the party's wealthier donors is apparently in the cards, but we don't expect this to represent a sudden sell-out to the big-money on Dean's part.

Nancy Pelosi has a piece in this morning's WaPo saying that the NSA scandal is "a wake-up call for intensive congressional oversight of intelligence activities."

The New York Times has an editorial this morning that basically reiterates what I said (in The torture never stops) last week about The Imperial Presidency at Work: You would think that Senators Carl Levin and John McCain would have learned by now that you cannot deal in good faith with a White House that does not act in good faith. Yet both men struck bargains intended to restore the rule of law to American prison camps. And President Bush tossed them aside at the first opportunity. [...] The administration's behavior shows how high and immediate the stakes are in the Alito nomination, and how urgent it is for Congress to curtail Mr. Bush's expansion of power. Nothing in the national consensus to combat terrorism after 9/11 envisioned the unilateral rewriting of more than 200 years of tradition and law by one president embarked on an ideological crusade.

This Broder column would have been pretty good if he'd deleted all that crap about how Alito is "a highly intelligent legal craftsman thoroughly schooled in Supreme Court precedents." Did I mention how tired I am of hearing this rubbish about someone who still can't locate the rights of The People in the US Constitution?

Today's OmbudsHowell piece is a paean to Steno Sue - at length - finally explained in the last paragraphs with two sets of complaints from sources identified as "Democrats" and "Republicans" (not, apparently, "readers"). I just love this: The second complaint is from Republicans, who say The Post purposely hasn't nailed any Democrats. Several stories, including one on June 3 by Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, a Post business reporter, have mentioned that a number of Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (N.D.), have gotten Abramoff campaign money. So, no suggestion that good reporters have failed to "nail" Democrats in this scandal because, in fact, no Democrats so far have turned out to have done anything wrong. There is nothing distasteful about receiving support from your own constituents, even if some of them may also have happened to make the mistake of getting ripped off by Jack Abramoff.

Why does this kind of crap even get mentioned? Hello? The president of the United States is destroying our economy and our armed forces, remember? Who cares what someone who's been dead for years may have said to someone who isn't even talking these days. Talk about what matters, you jerks. (Via Informed Dissent.) Jane Hamsher has the real details.

14:33 GMT

Entertainment section

Charnos : Cherub non padded bra

Bra of the Week

Mark Evanier had a frustrating day Friday, when a couple of small errands turned into a stream of awkward moments. (Just for the record, I got my first pair of wireless headphones for my birthday a couple weeks ago and I adore them.) But, of course, at times like this you always go to Mark's site for those little stories about the dearly-departed you probably won't hear anywhere else. So read the one about Shelley Winters and his own memories of her.

Eeyew! Watch the trailer for Slither, if only because we love Nathan Fillion. Via Sore Eyes, where I also learned about International Dada Month and this police report.

I got a penguin to leave a message in the snow. Via Biomes Blog, where I also found Radio Bush - with captions.

I know I've been in the doldrums but I just realized it's been ages since I visited my favorite photo sites, so here's Slot Canyon Gold (more neat slot canyon photos here), The Sombrero Galaxy, A Sun Pillar Over Maine, and Nice Beaver.

12:04 GMT

.-- . / .- .-. . / ... -.-. .-. . .-- . -.. .-.-.-

Morse Code translator

Atrios gives us a projection for how the campaign on Iran will go.

At The Left Coaster: Democrats Punt Another One Away On Alito and a post driving the NSA spying point home from Steve Soto; Worr On Terrah Update and No Wealth, No Worth from pessimist.

MoveOn.Org is still collecting for it's new Alito ad-buy. (Go there to see the ad, too.)

Molly Ivins: Boy, you really can't take your eyes off this bunch for a minute, can you?

Dominic is reading Atlas Shrugged and is surprised to find that he's enjoying it, and also that the United States these days is looking quite like Rand's idea of a dystopia. He also tips a new speakerphone for Skype.

02:02 GMT

Saturday, 14 January 2006

Staring down this broken land

We're always hearing that these conservative jurists and scholars are "brilliant minds" who have a thorough understanding of the law - a piece of PR that has yet to be justified but is wonderfully contradicted by even a cursory glance at pretty much all of the work of their "great" thinkers. Guest-blogging at Balkinization, David Luban takes a look at what passes for intellectual rigor on the right and neatly shreds the "thoughtful" arguments in favor of extra-legal executive power - and does it without putting you to sleep. Short and sweet. Via Secular Front.

Rebranding "Creationism" as "Intelligent Design" hasn't worked so well, so its hucksters have a plan to do it again, maybe call it "Intelligent Evolution" (IE), and make us go through the whole schools-and-courts thing all over again. Via Pharyngula.

Everything Between: I sincerely hope that the still unconfirmed worldwide reports of Ayman al-Zawahri's demise following Friday's airstrikes near the Afghanistan/Pakistan border are true. But just in case, I've decided to go out on a limb with this exclusive, unconfirmed report. And tell you more than you'd get from the "real" media....

Bush's vocabulary test: I can understand people being abhorrent about war.

Mark Shields: But a case can be made -- four-and-a-half years after the terrorists' assaults on New York and Washington -- that the criminals who organized and executed that attack have succeeded beyond their wildest expectations. Via Political Sports.

Roxanne has a rude awakening: Wow. And all this time, I thought the Kurds were supposed to be the good guys.

16:29 GMT

Some stuff

Remember hearing that the interpreter for that kidnapped CSM reporter was killed immediately? He was just a title on the news for most of us, another nameless victim. But not to Riverbend.

Josh Marshall is setting up his "muckraking" operation, which isn't done yet but just for practice there's regular posting at TPM Cafe.

Bush Authorized Domestic Spying Before 9/11 - but on who? We already know that Bush had told the agencies to lay off his Saudi friends - a lot of whom are named "bin Laden".

What will happen if the Alito nomination is defeated? History has an answer - assuming history is any indicator, of course. (via)

03:11 GMT

Friday, 13 January 2006

Quick links

I just don't get why journalists are not all over this.

What's wrong with non-Bush fanatics.

May the triangle become unbroken.... Peter Daou doesn't think that'll happen.

Our counter-insurgency strategy is crap - the US Army says so. (But the poor are not poor.)

Kevin Drum says the 2006 elections will still be about national security. Fine, but would hurt to keep saying out loud that they've been spying on the Quakers, for dog's sake?

Mark Schmitt, The K Street Project Lives On - on why it's not a "lobbying scandal".

This is a good idea - and you can help. (More here.)

23:31 GMT

Why the Martians lost the war

Mr. Sideshow just called and asked if I was okay because I haven't posted anything. I don't know, this headcold seems to have melted my brain, I just feel that everyone else is so much smarter and more knowledgeable and more thorough and articulate than me in my current condition that even though I seem to be getting better I would just be wasting your time by making you read me on these subjects when you could be reading them.

And it's all so depressing. The buzz, which Democrats have not done much work to counter, is that Alito will likely be confirmed. It's not that no one has hinted that they have problems with Alito, it's just that hinting is not enough. You'd never really guess from all this that Alito is a dangerous man. Oh, and by the way, this is supposed to be the moment that the filibuster was supposedly being preserved for. Well, if not now, when?

Blogger goes beyond the call of duty: United States of America vs. Thomas M Nephew

16:18 GMT

Thursday, 12 January 2006

Bright lights in the dark

DC event: Oh, man, I wish I was gonna be in town for this - Bob Barr will introduce Al Gore for a speech at Constitution Hall on Monday, January 16th, at noon. Admission is free but you have to book in advance. On December 17, the president admitted to authorizing a broad program of repeated NSA wiretapping of American citizens, without warrants, in defiance of safeguards mandated by Congress. This assertion of executive power threatens to place unchecked power in the president, ignoring our constitutional system and threatening our most basic civil liberties. We believe, like many across the political spectrum, that if America doesn't respond, our constitutional system may be damaged beyond repair.

A little reminder from Digby: It pays to keep in mind that the 1994 Republicans didn't put out their "Contract On America" until six weeks before the election. They've pretended that it won them the election but that's a joke. (They did use bogus polling to give that impression.) What won that election was relentless criticism over the course of many months leading up to it. They built upon a reserve of discontent about a slow economic recovery by placing the blame for everything squarely on the "liberals" and the Democratic party. Their "positive" agenda was just gilding the lily.

Tristero on the limits of responsible debate: Is the Bush administration doing (1) a heckuva job; (2) a heckuva great job; or (3) a totally heckuva great job? And how can we help The President be more right?

Big Brother, again - A few years back, Skimble got some nosy interest from someone in the government, and now gets a reminder that this was going on long before we learned about the NSA spying business.

Some guy with a French-sounding name and a crazy lefty blogger dispute the principled stand of David Horowitz, who is defending the poor, beleaguered conservative students who cower in terror from liberal oppression. (via)

The Left responds. (via)

15:03 GMT

News bites

Gotcha moment: Arlen Specter tried to pretend he'd never received a request from Ted Kennedy, but Kennedy called his bluff by producing the response his letter had generated from Specter's office.

Arianna says Jack Murtha is still out there telling the truth to the country - that Iraq isn't about terrorism, it's about civil war, and the US presence is making things worse.

The guy who Gitmo-ized Abu Ghraib is invoking Article 31 - the military equivalent of the Fifth - which certainly suggests that those low-ranking "bad apples" were really just following orders.

Balloon Juice agrees that Kennedy did not make Mrs. Alito cry - and Drudge is a hack. It's all a buncha theater.

MoDo's Doing the Alito Shuffle is posted in full at donkey o.d.: Judge Alito was evasive, disingenuous and deferential. He fits the Bush era like a baseball glove. (via)

13:25 GMT


In The Nation, the one and only Elizabeth Holtzman gives us The Impeachment of George W. Bush: Finally, it has started. People have begun to speak of impeaching President George W. Bush--not in hushed whispers but openly, in newspapers, on the Internet, in ordinary conversations and even in Congress. As a former member of Congress who sat on the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon, I believe they are right to do so.

Sirota: This is why the DLC is dangerous. For all their claims of supposedly wanting to help Democrats, they employ people like Marshall Wittman who specifically try to undermine the Democratic Party, even if it means he has to publicly defecate out the most rank and easily-debunkable lies. They regularly give credence to the right wing's agenda and its worst, most unsupportable lies. They are the real force that tries to make sure this country is a one party state and that Democrats never really challenge the Republicans in a serious way.

Hot Screeching Monkey Sex

Listen to a BBC feature on Forever Changes.

04:05 GMT

Current events

Tonight's Majority Report, playing now, is doing the Alito hearings and has ReddHedd of Firedoglake, Ralph Neas of People For the American Way, and Armando of Daily Kos discussing the subject.

Bill Scher has been liveblogging the Alito hearings at LiberalOasis - lots of good, clear stuff, here.

PSoTD wants to start a discussion on how to improve Meet the Press. I'm not sure anyone will pay attention to suggestions, but some of these look good to me.

Via Chris Floyd (who has been having trouble with freepers messing with his site), some testimony from Amnesty on Torture at Guantanamo.

00:37 GMT

Wednesday, 11 January 2006

I noticed this

Simbaud: "We remember hearing, late in the year 2000, that although Candidate Bush's mind was perhaps not of the highest wattage, he could certainly be relied upon, as President, to surround himself with 'the best, most experienced people' -- but of course, that was just a rhetorical trick. No one bothered to mention that Mr. Bush's most influential advisors would be dogs."

No Child's Behind Left: The Test - Greg Palast with a few more details on what's wrong with this thing.

Dahlia Lithwick's Confirmation Report from yesterday.

Best of the Blogs gave The 2005 Krugie Award to Dana Priest.

I see The Poor Man Institute is offering courses for Libertarians, now.

21:25 GMT

Watch both doors

This is a good piece from Greg Sargent about Marshall Wittman's Wanker of the Day-winning advice to Democrats to roll over again, but it seems to me the emphasis in this paragraph is wrong:

No matter how hard GOP apologists and Democratic hawks try to obscure, ignore, and obfuscate it, the central question in this debate remains this: Is it possible to support an aggressive war on terror and simultaneously oppose ceding to the president essentially unlimited executive powers? The answer, as Kilgore notes, is yes.
Actually, I think the question is: "Is it possible to protect America while allowing a simultaneous assault on the Constitution's checks and balances?" The answer, emphatically, is, "Absolutely not."

19:43 GMT

Stalking the Court

The NYT misses the ball, saying Judge Alito Proves a Powerful Match for Senate Questioners, when the headline should have been "Democrats pretend Alito isn't a lying a con-man." Marcia Davis in the WaPo is more accurate when she says Democrats showed up for a knife-fight without a knife - but then, maybe she is not so accurate if she has to avoid mentioning Feingold or Feinstein. Still, says Professor Bainbridge, "Schumer and Leahy's feeble skills are no match for the power of the Dark Side."

Honest to god, how can anyone even talk about nominating one of these people for the presidency? Blogenlust is right about this: We've sent George McFly in after Biff.

And a good comment on a thread at Kevin Drum's joint from theAmericanist:

Somebody should simply look Alito in the eye, cite Henry Hyde, and ask: "What is the issue on which you are willing to LOSE your SCOTUS nomination, judge?

Bork was willing to lose over his extreme, but strongly reasoned view of the Constitution. Gee, judge -- I look at your job applications, at your testimony, and I don't see much that you won't fudge or wink about to get the next step up the ladder.

Show me I'm wrong."

Jonathan Turley: The obsession with abortion in American politics has had an anaerobic effect on past confirmation hearings, sucking the air out of other issues. For Alito, this may have the welcomed effect of obscuring a more troubling question from his past writings and cases: Alito's extreme views of government authority over citizens' rights. Jeralyn asks where the questions are on Alito's pro-government bias.

Alito doesn't seem to know what's going on in the world, in the law, or in his own head, but we should want this guy as a judge? Ah, no, we should want him because he's a conservative, which means he will lie like hell so he can get into power and overturn the Constitution.

Alito & the Point of No Return by Nat Parry and An Imperial Presidency Based on Constitutional Quicksand by Ivan Eland at Consortium News make good companion pieces on the impending imposition of the conservative movement's real goals - an autocratic empire that overturns the Constitution.

16:07 GMT

Tuesday, 10 January 2006

Scheme of Four

Max is about the fourth person who should know better to tag me for this thing. I keep saying I hate making lists but they just don't go away. I can never pick my favorite of anything, and I can't focus on most things out of context. So here's a set of sort of Random One answers: I once worked for the LA Diggers; I loved The Time Bandits and want to see it again; I spent one incredibly long year in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts; I watch Charmed religiously even though I spend the whole time hating it for being so inadequate ... so network; I don't "go on vacation"; I check Making Light, TalkLeft, Digby, The Mahablog, Firedoglake, and probably a dozen other blogs at least once daily, and Eschaton incessantly (yes, that was more than one, but it's hard to stop, which is the problem); I love Chesapeake steamed crabs and Ledo's pizza; If I had instantaneous transport, I'd like to be in lots of places, but especially a good shoe store; I definitely don't do album lists, but I can't live without my entire collection - though I can probably live without most of yours; I've only ever owned two cars, and they were both Datsun B210s; I'm not tagging anyone - if you want to do this, suit yourself. Also, I overlapped with Max on a few things, but not a lot. Even less overlap with Jeralyn, remarkably, but we all agreed on New York.

Anyway, before I was distracted by this, I was going to pass along this recommendation from Max that you read Daniel Gross' take-down of the moronic column by Sebastian Mallaby that claims we have full employment. Full employment!

23:59 GMT

More notes from the battleground

For only the third time in its history, the ACLU is opposing a Supreme Court nomination.

Bush Advisor Says President Has Legal Power to Torture Children - that'd be John Yoo, who said this publicly. (Does anyone wonder how this stuff is supposed to fit in with that "winning the hearts and minds" thing?)

If this isn't lying, what is it? Glenn Greenwald on "one of the most dishonest commentators around," Mark Steyn, who is still trying to pretend that the "difference of opinion" on the NSA scandal is that "Dems" are objecting to having Al Qaeda spied on. It was bad enough when Krauthammer did the same thing a few weeks ago, but Steyn has no excuse for floating this rubbish at such a late date when the issue has been made so clear.

This has been scaring me on the personal level for a few years now. (via)

Digby quoted a comment from someone called Poputonian, left somewhere at Unclaimed Territory (but I can't figure out where) that is a work of brilliance - but you won't know it unless you click on the links within it to various of Herblock cartoons from the early '70s. I think this is my favorite. I'm sure I saw them all at the time but none of these are the ones I still remember. Perhaps they seem sharper given the tenor of the times.

20:09 GMT


The Brad Blog has the video clip of Bush's introduction of Alito before the hearings, and it's a sad, sad example of a "president" who can't even deliver 250 words without looking like he keeps losing interest in the subject. (Tells: Bush repeats a lot of high-sounding words to describe Alito and the process. In the usual way of things, we can take for granted that this is part of the "It's so because I say so" strategy of the White House that is meant to deflect people from noticing that it is emphatically not true. Note the use of the word "dignified" to distract us from the indignity of having this injudicious creep foisted off on us.) But Bob Fertik thinks Bush's delivery suggests he had that earpiece in, too.

The Brad Blog also has the complete clip of Wolf Blitzer's interview with Howard Dean, which includes questions on Alito. Dean wonders whether we can trust anything Alito says in view of the fact that he lied in previous confirmation hearings. He says he'll be interested in Alito's answers this time, but I wonder why we should, since he is a proven liar. (Really, shouldn't we all be saying this more often? The man lied under oath and he can't be trusted to be truthful. He's a liar.)

Meanwhile, Dean is sending out letters asking Dems to make January a big fund-raising month. I don't usually push this sort of thing but I can't help thinking that lots of contributions coming in right now, preferably with additional letters saying that fighting Alito and making lots of noise about his unfitness for the court is important, might have an encouraging effect on Democrats. (You've been writing to your reps, yeah?)

15:24 GMT

Still not enough coffee

AltHippo on learning that the Republicans have chosen Man-on-Dog Santorum to head up lobbying reform: Which is kinda weird, since according to Nicholas Confessore's "Welcome to the Machine" Santorum is the GOP enforcer for the K-Street Project in the Senate.

Alito hearings started and the WaPo has Cornyn's opening statement: Judge Alito, the reason why these groups are trying to defeat your nomination because you won't support their liberal agenda is precisely why I support it. Yes, our liberal agenda is to protect the Constitution, which you oppose. Coburn was downright flakey, as ReddHedd points out (video at Crooks and Liars). Brownback repeats the lie about how Ginsberg was a liberal and implies that she was confirmed "because President Clinton won the election." (See? I told you it would have been wiser to question whether Bush had won - at least we wouldn't be hearing this crap.) And what's up with Christine Todd Whitman? (Could it be about the money?) MSGOP coverage involved no Democrats or progressive commentators. I disagree with Kevin and think this is no time for drinking games - it's time to highlight every Bizarro-world statement and every lie, of which there have already been many. I don't need anything else to keep me awake: This is the show.

These people have no patriotism, no love of American freedoms, and no ethics. Look, the Constitutions trumps everything else. That's the law. The only power a president has is that given in the Constitution; presidents have no other power in law. No president is above the law. Alito doesn't believe this; he doesn't belong on the court. Period. I'm sick of hearing conservatives refer to the astute legal mind of some hack who plainly wants to ignore the content of the Constitution altogether. I'm sick of people who niggle over an absent word (like "privacy") in order to justify refusing Americans their rights while simultaneously ignoring whole swathes of clear Constitutional text (like the Fourth Amendment) in order to do the same. They aren't being "Constitutional scholars", they're just trying to destroy the Constitution. They don't belong on the bench at all.

Nick Turse at TomDispatch on Repealing the Magna Carta, What Year Is This Anyway? Rollback to 1214 AD.

13:40 GMT

The state of the boiling frog

Kos learns why Bush has never vetoed any bills over at BTC News:

When George Bush signed the defense appropriation bill containing John McCain's amendment removing torture and other human rights violations from the official repertoire of the armed forces, he added his own little amendment: "Unless I say otherwise." The vehicle through which he reserved the option to break the law is called a bill-signing statement, and as Knight Ridder's Ron Hutcheson revealed on Friday, the McCain bill was far from the first victim of the practice: Bush has used it some 500 times since taking office [...]

Bush doesn't veto bills because in his view, he doesn't have to; he can simply ignore the ones he doesn't like.

Taylor Marsh responds to Matt Yglesias' strange dismissal of fighting the Alito nomination.

The Talking Dog has interviewed Jose Padilla's lawyer, Andrew Patel, and Baher Azmy who is representing Murat Kurnaz, a Guantanamo Bay detainee.

02:50 GMT

Stopping free speech

The Heretik tips us off to an article in the Guardian that tells us:

American troops in Baghdad yesterday blasted their way into the home of an Iraqi journalist working for the Guardian and Channel 4, firing bullets into the bedroom where he was sleeping with his wife and children.

Ali Fadhil, who two months ago won the Foreign Press Association young journalist of the year award, was hooded and taken for questioning.

Dr Fadhil is working with Guardian Films on an investigation for Channel 4's Dispatches programme into claims that tens of millions of dollars worth of Iraqi funds held by the Americans and British have been misused or misappropriated.

And Atrios calls our attention to Declan McCullagh reporting on a clause shoe-horned into the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act that prohibits "posting annoying Web messages or sending annoying e-mail messages without disclosing your true identity."

01:36 GMT

Monday, 09 January 2006

Just a few

Jesse Kornbluth at The Huffington Post writes An Open Letter to George Soros: Buy CNN: Would you like to turn on a cable TV channel and know that you will never see Pat Robertson, Ann Coulter, James Dobson or Ralph Reed? Would you like to know that the news program you're watching --- whatever the politics of the network's owner --- presents verifiable facts from respectable sources? Would you like to watch commentary on the news by experts whose opinions don't come from the daily talking points of either political party? Hell, yes. (via)

If I'm reading this right, Matthew Yglesias is advocating caving in without a fight on Alito because god forbid we should waste energy fighting him when we could elect progressive Democrats who the Republicans will get the Supreme Court to say didn't win. Or something like that. Someone spank him, will you?

Athenais has posted a link to a collection of favorite creations at Flickr, and I'm impressed.

23:11 GMT

Points of interest

Bill Scher says:

All the Sunday shows featured debates between GOP and Dem Senators about Alito, solidifying the notion that the Alito nomination is controversial and the outcome is not predetermined.
That's a far better lead-up than we had before the John Roberts hearings. The table is fairly well-set.

So what lies and distortions were GOPers using to deal with the heat?

Well, trying to claim Alito is not an ideologue who will overturn Roe, among other things. And:
Today's Republican Senators just love talking about how they all voted for Ginsburg in 1993.

But do you know how many of today's 55 Republican Senators actually voted for Ginsburg in 1993?

Just 18. (And one of them, Richard Shelby, was a Democrat at the time.) One-third of the current crop. The other 37 weren't around.

GOP Senators were not as virulently right-wing back then. The few that were - like Jesse Helms - voted No on Ginsburg.

Brownback, Cornyn, Graham, Rick Santorum, Tom Coburn, Jim Inhofe, Jon Kyl, Jeff Sessions, John Thune - can you picture these Dobsonites voting for Ginsburg or Breyer?

Or did your head explode just trying to picture it?

I'm not even gonna try to imagine that. What I am trying to imagine is a filibuster.

Susie Madrak explains that there are really no ethics rules at all for legislators anymore. (Actually, go read everything at Suburban Guerrilla - there's a lot of good stuff there.)

I'm sorry, but I'm having a lot of trouble working out what sort of algorithm would accidentally categorize Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream with Planet of the Apes.

Is there no end to the presstitution of Joe Klein?


The Telegraph says that the "voluntary" nature of planned Identity Cards is in doubt after learning that, "Town hall bureaucrats are to be given sweeping new powers to investigate homes for identity card evasion and to impose heavy fines on occupants found without one."

Tony Banks is dead, I learn from Harry at Crooked Timber. BBC obituary here. Also, The wit and wisdom of Tony Banks: Ever the innovator, Lord Stratford suggested installing Durex machines in Westminster so that the Tories would have fewer illegitimate children.

15:33 GMT

New news and old news

Alito hearings start at noon in Washington. Robert Kuttner in The Boston Globe says Alito may be the worst choice: AT THIS moment in American history, it would be hard to find a worse Supreme Court nominee than Samuel A. Alito Jr. His ideology captures everything extremist about the Bush administration. If confirmed, Alito would serve as Bush's enabler. He would give Bush effective control of all three branches of government and the hard-right long-term dominance of the high court. His confirmation or rejection will depend on the gumption of the Senate Democratic leadership and independence of a few Republicans.

A front-page story in today's WaPo says Alito really proved "his mettle" in Reagan's Justice Department - the web page includes a video of Alito answering questions about how much of a right-wing crackpot he is: Asked his opinion of President Ronald Reagan's nomination of Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court, Alito gave a ringing defense of the conservative icon he said had been "unjustifiably rejected" by the Senate in one of the most ideologically polarizing nomination battles in decades.

We still have our work cut out for us on the perception of Alito on abortion - the WaPo reports that polls show most people opposing the kind of guy Alito is without actually opposing Alito. They appear to think he wouldn't wish to overturn Roe, although that's actually been one of his stated career goals.

The guy is a real standard-bearer for far right lunacy, having started off by being aggravated when the Warren Court decided that segregation might not be such a great thing.

An editorial in The New York Times enumerates troubling trends in Alito's record and says: The White House has tried to create an air of inevitability around Judge Alito's confirmation. But the public is skeptical. In a new Harris poll, just 34 percent of those surveyed said they thought he should be confirmed, while 31 percent said he should not, and 34 percent were unsure. Nearly 70 percent said they would oppose Judge Alito's nomination if they thought he would vote to make abortion illegal - which it appears he might well do.

In other news:

James Dobson locates the root of the problem in the Abramoff scandal. No, I won't spoil the surprise.

God Bother - this is about ten years old but it still cracks me up.

Via Atrios, Bernie Sanders is sooooo leading the polls.

Where have we heard this before? Saddam Hussein's defense against his indictment by an ad hoc Iraqi tribunal is simply that as the head of the state he had unlimited power to defend the state. That enemies of the state did not have legal protection, and therefore he cannot be charged for what he did during that time.

At Open Source Poor Man, Battle-Action Bush and the Keyboard Commandos, Episode 10, The Law of Terror!!!

13:40 GMT

Howard Dean does the business

Atrios has posted the transcript of Dr. Dean's appearance on Blitzer in which he slaps down both the both-sides-do-it lie on Abramoff (and a link to the video of that segment, which you can find as well at Crooks and Liars) and the recent idiotic statement by Joe Lieberman (R-DLC) in which he advises Democrats to support Bush.

BLITZER: What do you think? Is that advice good advice from Senator Lieberman?

DEAN: No. This president has lacked credibility almost from the day he took office because of the way he took office.
And I think, frankly, that Joe is absolutely wrong, that it is incumbent on every American who is patriotic and cares about their country to stand up for what's right and not go along with the president, who is leading us in a wrong direction.

It's really worth reading the whole excerpt at Eschaton and watching the clip to see how clean Dean's delivery has become. Great job.

04:04 GMT

So much to read, so little time

Thoughts of an Average Woman tells us how that prescription benefit thing is working out.

Right-wing bloggers are doing their usual take-it-out-of-context thing to call Steve Soto an Al Qaeda-loving traitor; eReposte reports.

The Mahablog presents "Propaganda 101", demonstrated in a round-up of right-wing attempts to conflate accepting legal donations from Amerinds with illegal bribery and corruption involving Jack Abramoff.

Laura Rozen at War and Piece reports on a brand-new Republican scandal which is separate from the Abramoff scandal.

Last week Republicans were trying to pretend that polls showed Americans supporting Bush's scheme to spy on people without a warrant. Well, they don't. Details from Faiz at Think Progress.

More on the Kevin Drum post referenced below about who won Florida in 2000 from Liberalism without Cynicism in "Wasn't even close".

Left I On the News on Corporate media.

Oh, look, a whole blog about newspaper corrections, Regret The Error (via The Blogometer).

Ted Kennedy's article in The Washington Post Saturday on "Alito's Credibility Problem" enumerates some of the fine examples of this right-wing crackpot's dishonesty.

Another reason I'd like to see ReddHedd run for office: "The Imperial Presidency" at Firedoglake.

The increasingly impressive Glenn Greenwald asks the excellent question, "What are Democrats so afraid of?" at Unclaimed Territory.

02:52 GMT

Get this straight

Kevin Drum has a post up called President Gore in which he quotes from an interview at Research in Review with Lance deHaven-Smith, author of The Battle for Florida:

RinR: Throughout the book, you repeat that Florida's election law - especially the rule that no vote "shall be declared invalid or void if there is a clear indication of the intent of the vote" - is in fact much more straightforward than was made out during the controversy. So then, who do you fault the most for making it all seem so murky?

LdHS: I would say [then-Secretary of State] Katherine Harris in terms of murky-in terms of what the law intended and what it meant. There was a contradiction in the law. What it said was you have to get the recount done within a very short time, and it just wasn't possible. But that's not uncommon. You just have to interpret it with common sense.

Part of what was going on was the stakes were really high; the people involved were very inexperienced; Harris didn't know [Attorney General Bob] Butterworth; they were not cordial. But if it had been a group of leaders who had been around for a while, they would have sat down and easily said, "Well, here's a way to resolve this problem." But that wasn't the aim of the people involved. The aim was from the beginning to stop the recount.

Yet if you looked at the law and if you looked at the case law, what Florida had consistently said was if you can count the votes, you must count the votes. You cannot penalize the voters for mistakes that the administrators make or that the law may make. You really have to give the voters the advantage.

In the comments at Political Animal, the usual stable of right-wing apologists trot out the familiar canards about how the theft of the election was perfectly legal.

Right-wingers frequently chortle that it's all Gore's fault for concentrating on hanging chads rather than overvotes, but leaving aside the fact that it was not his job to call for the automatic count of the overvotes that was already mandated by law, one thing I noticed immediately in November of 2000 was that there was quick dismissal in the media of the very idea that the overvotes could be retrieved. The assumption was that voters had inadvertently marked their ballots for two separate candidates and there was no way to determine which one they really meant to vote for.

In some cases this was true, because voters had been told to vote on every single page, despite the fact that doing so would automatically record more than one vote for president since the presidential category ran to more than one page. In the case of the mysterious Buchanan votes which were made because of the butterfly ballots' deceptive alignment, again, those votes were lost for Gore.

But a substantial portion of the "overvotes" were in fact clear votes for a single candidate, with the name both punched and written in, and they should have been counted toward the final tally. Those votes appear to have favored Gore by several thousand.

00:58 GMT

Sunday, 08 January 2006

News stuff

In the Friday news dump, The Congressional Research Service issued a report saying the administration's legal reasoning for illegal spying was a non-starter: A report by Congress's research arm concluded yesterday that the administration's justification for the warrantless eavesdropping authorized by President Bush conflicts with existing law and hinges on weak legal arguments. [...] "This report contradicts the president's claim that his spying on Americans was legal," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), one of the lawmakers who asked the CRS to research the issue. "It looks like the president's wiretapping was not only illegal, but also ensnared innocent Americans who did nothing more than place a phone call."

A man is still on death row long after DNA evidence has established not only his innocence, but the identity of the man who is in all probability the real culprit. So now the Supreme Court will hear the case. Why is this necessary? The Supreme Court has never squarely ruled that executing an innocent person is unconstitutional. Appellate courts do not usually concern themselves with new evidence, instead focusing on whether a defendant received a fair trial.

Albert Hofmann to turn 100, whereabouts of bicycle still unknown: And, yes, he said, LSD, which he calls his "problem child," could help reconnect people to the universe.

I was really disappointed when I learned that Independent Labour MP Tony Banks wasn't my member of Parliament. Still, he was fun, and you could even see him riding the tube sometimes. Then the unthinkable happened: Tony Blair offered him a cabinet post where he couldn't do any harm, the position everyone refers to as "Minister of Sport", and he took it. From then on, it was all about football. And now David Mellor says that the stroke that hit him the other day has left him clinically dead. No doubt to be replaced by another "New Labour" type, just as the other Newham MP was when he died.

I hardly have the energy to go after stupid statements like this one from WaPo Ombudcon Deborah Howell: The liberals seem to expect The Post to be the house organ of An old newsroom adage says that if both parties are angry with you, you must be doing something right. That could only even start to make sense if the paper were quoting MoveOn as often as it states RNC talking points as fact.

I thought it was kind of interesting how quickly it was announced that even if Sharon survives, he won't be returning to government. I guess they all believed the curse.

RIP: Lou Rawls sang real good.

15:19 GMT

Draft ReddHedd

Live in West Virginia? Read A Question of Doing What's Right by ReddHedd at Firedoglake and then ask yourself how much you'd love to vote for a candidate who talks like that.

12:06 GMT

Saturday, 07 January 2006

Under the ice

"If there has to be a Dead Man Walking, I don't want it to be Cory Maye." Click on the image. Via What is Liberalism? and Ahistoricality.

Lambert on Treasonous Devices: Weapons of Mass Surveillance.

Leah on An Ancient Horror In Mining Country

Edward H. Sebesta on The Purpose of Afro-Confederates.

Max Blumenthal on racist Sunday.

Words and Music by The Rude Pundit:
Katrina Plus Four Months, Part 1, Part 2 - Riding Through Slidell, Part 3 - Chalmette, Part 4 - Essay In Black (and White), Part 5 - In Conclusion.

A little sauce from Lance.

21:21 GMT

Quick notes

Brad Plumer has a few of his own ideas for reforming lobbying. My favorite is lobbying vouchers - since they all seem to think voucher systems are such an efficient way to allocate resources.

Buck Batard locates some trailer trash: Pittsburgh police said they were called to the home of Richard Mellon Scaife, at 5201 Westminster Place, at about 7 p.m. Thursday. Mr. Scaife called police because his wife, Ritchie Scaife, was pounding on doors and peeking in windows.

Dio Bach's new year's post has some nice pix from two different outings. (I love the sky in that first one from Penarth.)

A bad day for bollards

15:04 GMT

In the mix

Gene Lyons: If the president, any president, can unilaterally declare the Fourth Amendment forbidding unreasonable search and seizure null and void, why not the First Amendment protecting a free press? Why not the Second Amendment? We can't let terrorists have guns, can we?

Howard Dean works out for the DNC. (via)

The Medium Lobster: Somewhere on some distant, godforsaken shore is a lowly peasant dreaming of a chance someday to travel to America, to walk its fabled streets, to work hard for the day when he too can buy a congressman of his very own and say, "This land is my land, this law is my law, this illegally approved casino belongs to you and me!" Don't crush that lowly peasant's dreams, my friends. America is for sale to everyone.

Oliver Willis: Reject the premise of the attack, repeat with your original point. Bang. Murthanized. (via)

The Ape Man: One of the key tactical realities the GOP has figured out about the modern media landscape is that no matter what, mainstream reporters and pundits will never say "the GOP is just crazily lying." (")

Steve Cobble: I went to northern Virginia Rep. Jim Moran's Town Hall with Rep. John Murtha last night. It was a huge crowd--the overflow room overflowed, and they had to turn hundreds of people away!--and the crowd gave Rep. Murtha a very warm welcome. The most interesting thing that happened all night, however, was the spontaneous, loud, sustained applause that erupted from the crowd when one questioner said the word "impeachment". (via)

Maha with another reminder that anti-abortion is pro-death, and so is Alito.

Max: For the love of Aslan, spare us any talk of reforming lobbying. Lobbying doesn't need reform. It's been reformed forever, and it always turns back to shit. It needs to be blown up.

Bloggers tainted by Abramoff money!

00:44 GMT

Friday, 06 January 2006

I saw this

I'm having a problem because there are too many things that Glenn and Julia are doing which I want to mark as "must reads". At the moment they're both cross-posting it all to Digby's blog because he's out of town, so why don't you just start here and work your way up, because that's about the size of it.

How good were Letterman's statistics? A scientific study shows that he was spot on when he declared O'Reilly's output to be 60% crap.

Torture and gazpacho: The most cluelessly homoerotic administration in history.

Alterman says the right-wing nuts who've been running things at The Wall Street Journal are being replaced by a bean-counter, which is both good and bad news.

MadKane sings for Tom DeLay (Crime was such an easy game to plaaay....")

Watch the trailer for Bush's Brain, the movie made from the book by the guy who recently discovered he was on the Annoy-Them-If-They-Try-To-Board-A-Plane List.

Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao has a great response to why they completely ignored safety complaints at Sago. Um, no, she doesn't.

Remember when it was just outrageous for John Kerry to "overstate" the cost of the invasion/occupaton as $200bn? Not even close. (And Josh finds more smoke from the scandal boys - aimed at him.)

Next time someone tells you there are "no female Einsteins"...

Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy - condensed. Via Biomes Blog. Also, 2006 Hooters Calendar. (And I also wasted a whole bunch of time here.)

21:10 GMT


So this is the day my family church celebrates Christmas. And I suppose for some of you this is the Epiphany. It's cold and grey in London and I wish I could make it be Christmas for another week. But I'm really pissed off that so many people took their decorations down on Boxing Day, the spoilsports.

What happened on The Bridge To Gretna: "Katrina washed away a lot of veils and took a lot of face masks off. Your politics cannot be bigger than your humanity. And in this case, we didn't need politics. We needed humanity," says Thomas. [...] The Louisiana attorney general's office is investigating whether laws were broken or civil rights were violated on the bridge to Gretna. (via)

Fun with polling, "objective" style. A couple of right-wingers decided to do an "objective" study of media bias using what they regard as hard empirical data, just like real researchers. The trouble is that, in the usual way, they aren't very good at this, and came to the conclusion that the news pages of The Wall Street Journal even more liberal than the really really liberal NYT and WaPo. (More from Brendan Nyhan.) (")

Fun with polling, Wal-Mart style.

Top 10 Favorite Bush Moments via Mia Culpa. (I particularly liked 5 and 2, but I can see why #1 got the tiara.)


Labelling. And this.

15:05 GMT

Thursday, 05 January 2006

I hate the RIAA

Tonight's chapters:

RIAA Has Market By Balls at Stargeek Studios.

That's What I'm On About from NTodd.

And the latest post from Epicycle.

23:49 GMT

The torture never stops

You have an anti-torture bill that is passed with a veto-proof (and overwhelming) majority, and unanimous support from Democrats. There is no way it can't become law because it no longer even requires Bush's signature.

And then, for reasons that escape me, Carl Levin (D-MI) decided to lend his name to a hideous GOP-added clause meant to deprive detainees of their Constitutional rights. That made it "bipartisan", so the media figured they didn't really need to pay much attention to such "uncontroversial" measures. Apparently, Levin accepted a promise from Republicans that the legislation would not apply to cases from detainees that were already in the system. Personally, I can't imagine how anyone could be stupid enough to accept any promises from these people, but there you are.

But what made Levin think that grandfathering existing cases made such future violations okay? Come on, it's morally reprehensible whether they start yesterday or tomorrow. It bites. It's indefensible. If you live in Michigan, you might want to write to Levin and ask about that.

In any case, according to Reuters yesterday, the criminal administration ran true to form:

The U.S. Justice Department will seek to dismiss more than 180 cases involving inmates at Guantanamo Bay who have challenged their detention in court, court documents showed on Tuesday.

The department filed a notice to judges presiding over the cases at the U.S. District Court in Washington to advise them that by the end of next week the Justice Department would file official motions to dismiss the cases.

The notice comes a week after President George W. Bush signed new legislation banning cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners. The anti-torture law also curbs the ability of prisoners being held at the U.S. Naval Base in Cuba to challenge their detention in federal court.

The legislation requiring humane treatment of detainees in U.S. custody was originally opposed by the White House. But Bush backed off his original veto threats after Congress voted overwhelmingly to support the amendment, pushed by Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

That'd be the same anti-torture law, by the way, after which Bush made what Alito has called a "signing statement" - basically, a promise to treat the legislation Congress passed with contempt if he doesn't happen to like it. Essentially, Bush said, "I'm signing this, but I don't really mean it."

So now Levin is complaining because they not only didn't stick to their word but are even claiming never to have made such promises.

Gosh, who could have imagined that people who could illegally deprive people of their Constitutional rights would ever go back on their word?

16:09 GMT

Unfair and unbalanced

You may remember that I complained before it was passed that the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation unnecessarily limits political speech in a way that does absolutely nothing to improve political discourse or make campaigns fairer. I predicted that it would do more to suppress liberal speech because with the news media already tilted heavily to the right, political advertising was really the only chance for progressive voices to try to redress the balance. Thus, if political ads are banned in the weeks prior to an election, the media itself determines the discourse - to the advantage of their corporatist, right-wing bias.

And, indeed, we saw this whether the ban was in place or not - the networks accepted pro-GOP ads and also promoted as "news" stories about GOP ads that appeared on the Internet, so that it was unnecessary for the RNC to buy advertising time when they were getting it for free. Meanwhile, any ad with a liberal message, even if it had no partisan political content, was refused on the grounds that it was oppositional to Bush's positions, and the same networks that happily took advertising from the right wing refused liberal ads while claiming that they didn't take political advertising. Additionally, news and talk shows continued to heavily weigh their faces, voices, and content to the center-right and far-right, largely omitting progressive/liberal voices altogether. The television news agenda was set by RNC, but that wasn't seen as a violation of McCain-Feingold.

The Washington Post this morning reports on a related case:

Wisconsin Right to Life, a nonprofit, says the law gags its constitutional right of freedom of speech. The Alliance, a nonprofit organization of environmental, civil rights, women's and other groups that was running ads supporting the filibuster, agrees.

In a show of solidarity on the First Amendment -- if not on Bush judicial nominees -- the Alliance filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Wisconsin Right to Life's case before the Supreme Court. The high court will hear oral argument Jan. 17.

Both groups wanted to buy ads expressing their position on whether Bush's nominees should be filibustered - on opposite sides, of course.

But the damage on the issue had already been done by the fact that the Republicans, with the help of the "mainstream" media, had actually made it legitimate to talk about breaking Senate rules in order to force Bush's nominees through confirmation. The push-back from the other side had barely been given a hearing. Right to Life, after all, has the president of the United States making their case for them; McCain-Feingold only prevents the opposition from really being heard.

McCain-Feingold might be more useful if, rather than banning political ads, it required the television networks to air them. Otherwise, we're stuck with what we have now, which is mostly wall-to-wall GOP advertising, produced and aired for free by the networks themselves.

13:20 GMT

Morning coffee

I was over at Skimble where I saw this: Gender confusion. Guess who's going after Mattel and the Barbie doll for sowing the seeds of transgenderism. The director of the Concerned Women for America's Culture and Family Institute, that's who, and his name is Bob. And also a reminder that a while back Skimble provided this diagram charting the relationships of Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay, and some of their fun pals.

Great news: Wisconsin Requires Open Source, Verifiable Voting - and real paper ballots.

Did anyone ever explain why Ben Nighthorse Campbell switched to the Republican Party in the first place? He seems to be suffering some buyer's remorse.

Whatever happened to the Marlboro Marine?

Christmas in Iraq

Why former prosecutors shouldn't become defense attorneys

Reject Alito petition.

How to feel safer.

Ready for the Group W bench.

An editorial cartoon

11:07 GMT

Bug me not

Atrios' Wanker of the Day is Jeff Goldstein, who Glenn Greenwald has nicely taken apart for giving a fairly stupid rationalization for Bush's illegal spying. I couldn't help but note in comments that Echelon-style mechanical eavesdropping is being presented by wingers as some kind of justification for the practice. I left a comment but I'll just reproduce a part of it because it was too long:

I would like to know which "keywords" our right-wing friends believe the NSA is searching on that would tip them off to dangerous terrorists.

Are they words like "bomb", for example? "Glycerin"? "C4"? "Airplane"? I mean, what? Tell me the words that only terrorists would be using that would be a tip-off that the author is a terrorist rather than, say, some obsessive blogger types having just the sort of discussions we are having here?

I discuss illegal drugs all the time, even though I don't use them. My work involves discussing pornography all the time, even though I've never much been interested in actually looking at the stuff. I talk about terrorism all the time - just like you guys - even though I'm not a terrorist.

So exactly what would a mechanical search of my communications reveal about any illegal activities on my part? Nothing, of course, because talking about them has nothing to do with actually doing them.

A mechanical search would reveal a lot of innocent people talking about these subjects - a lot of great big haystack to be looking for that needle in. Only a targetted search with probable cause has any real likelihood of actually finding a terrorist.
Maybe this conversation would sound a little bit different if we were talking about looking for the terrorists who used anthrax to terrorize the Democratic leadership in 2001 - because then we wouldn't be looking for someone from Al Qaeda, we'd be looking for someone who is in all probability a white, Christian conservative.

Why, perhaps then the keyword we'd be searching on is "church".

I didn't bring up the point that if I were engaged in illegal activity, I sure wouldn't be talking about it in unencrypted electronic communications.

Seriously, who is likely to be caught out by this kind of eavesdropping? I'd guess it's people who have no reason whatsoever to think anyone would be likely to spy on them for national security reasons because they aren't doing anything wrong. People who are transparently not terrorists, not even remotely associated with Al Qaeda or anyone like them.

Do I believe this all has something to do with data-mining? Oh, I think we have plenty of evidence for that. But I also think we have an administration that spies on Democrats, spies on (Christian) peace groups, puts all kinds of unlikely people on the no-fly list, and bombs Al-Jazeera, so I wouldn't put it past them to be spying on reporters at the major American media organs and just about anyone else who might be a Democrat or an actual libertarian who might object to being subjects to a dictatorial government.

And I don't think it makes any difference, either. What we're talking about is a government that is infringing our rights in blatant violation of the Constitution and endangering rather than protecting the American people.

Oh, yes, one more thing: The White House broke the law by "leaking" Valerie Plame's CIA employment, and it is breaking the law by spying on us without warrants. The New York Times did not break the law by telling us that the administration was breaking the law, even if they should be smacked hard for having waited so long to tell us.

01:14 GMT

Wednesday, 04 January 2006

They're all bad apples

GOP Leaders Seek Distance From Abramoff. Because they desperately want to pretend this is just one or two or three bad guys and not part of a consistent pattern. When they're not trying to pretend it's "bipartisan" corruption.

But it's not just a matter of how deep and wide it goes, it's the fact that there are damn few Democrats even marginally involved, and it's a Republican scandal for a reason: It's part of what they are.

We're talking a former head of the College Republicans, a dyed-in-the-wool honcho and top bag-man for a "movement" whose entire philosophy is based on piracy and fraud against the majority of Americans.

It's not good enough for Democrats to talk about individuals, whether it's Bush or DeLay or Abramoff; Republicans know how to play the integrity game, and they're already gearing-up for another round, having already primed the public to believe that the problem is "Congress" rather than the GOP.

Democrats have to make the case that this is about the way Republicans do business. The very character of Democratic scandals has always been different from the way these Republicans do things. The last House scandal the GOP ginned up was about Congressmen being overdrawn on their own personal checking accounts - hardly an example of massive corruption. Just like they had to make it up about Clinton and Gore, because they didn't have anything real to go after them for. "Filegate" and "no controlling authority" weren't even mildly dishonest, let alone some kind of Tammany Hall - and even Tammany Hall itself was nothing compared to what the Republicans are involved in.

Now, let me be clear: I do regard it as morally corrupt when Democrats vote for usury. Unfortunately, that's the kind of case that really does have to be prosecuted ideologically and not just legally. You can't send Spitzer or Fitzgerald after Biden and Nelson. But the fact that it's morally reprehensible means that it's not "wrong" for Republicans, since attacking ordinary working Americans, older people, and active members of our military is what they're all about. That's why not one Republican voted against the bankruptcy bill.

They are thieves and thugs and liars and it's all of a piece. It's what they do.

19:36 GMT

Items of note

Andrew Sullivan: We're talking about a president who believes that he alone can determine any policy even vaguely related to a war that he has redefined as a permanent condition for the indefinite future. My best guess is that we've only begun to find out what powers he has secretly assigned to himself. I certainly don't trust him not to authorize torture again in the future. The only recourse is the press and the Congress. The Courts are in the process of being stacked with men and women completely deferent to executive power. I'm beginning to believe that Democratic retaking of at least one half of the Congress this year is essential to resisting the potential dangers of our current situation. And I'd say the same if we had a Democratic president with Bush's contempt for the rule of law, and if the Republicans were the party in opposition.

Last night, Atrios offered wingnuts the opportunity to explain "how exactly it damages national security to reveal the fact that we spy on people without secret warrants instead of the fact that we spy on people with secret warrants." Arun at Musings provides an appropriate response. (Of course, so do the Atriots in comments - I quite liked this, and this.) A skim shows that out of over 400 comments, Atrios only caught one possible wingnut, so this is obviously a good way to keep them out of his comments.

Last night AP reported that all but one of the miners had been found alive, but just after the papers went to bed, it turned out that only one survived. Here's why. Anyone who was watching knew this was coming. This is exactly the sort of thing that Alito and his kind are bringing us. All their lives they dug their graves.

Leroy Kettle, OBE.

13 things that do not make sense. (via)

14:17 GMT

Stops on the Infobahn

Earthjustice: Earthjustice joined four other national environmental groups in announcing formal opposition to the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito Jr. to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court. This is the first time in nearly 20 years that Earthjustice has opposed a Supreme Court nominee.

Our Year of Phallicism and news that even the troops do not love Bush, at Best of the Blogs. And a nice bit of speechifying by Harry Truman.

Ravynstone Abbey alerts me to an article in the NYT that says it's now okay if the baby sleeps in your bed. Again. Like generations of independent-minded folk used to do.

Badger still needs time to mourn Mr. Badger, but here's a tribute while she does that thing.

You know, if Nixon did it, is there any reason to think that Bush wouldn't?

A little round-up for the last few days, which also asks the question of which criminals really endanger our children. (I vote for the people who make laws like this.)

When the earth is restless, miners die. Bone and blood is the price of coal.*

12:08 GMT

Apples and oranges

I've always liked this building, so I took a few shots. Crummy day so I didn't do it up right (and I got rained on), but maybe I will eventually.

Blog buzz: Franklin Foer still doesn't get it that the left-o-sphere's criticisms of the media are a very different thing from what the nut-o-sphere is doing. Matt Stoller, Armando, and Atrios try to explain.

Is it actually constitutional to place the president above the law? The point is moot: in the weeks following September 11th, the United States Constitution was apprehended in Afghanistan and transferred to a military detainment facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Medium Lobster cannot divulge further details without compromising America's intelligence apparatus, but civil libertarians should rest assured that the Pentagon has established the Constitution's clear ties to al Qaeda, and that it is no accident that America has not been attacked since the deadly document's capture. Freedom, after all, is not free: at its last valuation, an ounce of liberty cost a good two million dollars' worth of police state.

I still don't see why the press won't admit that Al Gore could be the guy.

I'm glad someone is at least trying to make sense of the Bush/Blair transcripts.

Clock is running down on 'cheap' mortgages - I don't know about you, but I keep getting the feeling it's all a big plan to take away everything people have managed to build for themselves. "Lenders who started making those teaser-rate loans a few years ago are getting ready to charge real-world payments on them." And just in time for the bankruptcy bill to kick in, too. But, hey - if you've been smart this far, you could soon find yourself in a position to buy really cheap houses at bargain rates, after they're repossessed.

Tilde~ - 2005 retrospective.

Season-lapse photography, 44 stills of the same scene in Norway shot throughout the year, made into a video. Via Epicycle.

01:29 GMT

Tuesday, 03 January 2006

News bits

The big news of the moment is that Abramoff is pleading guilty and giving up the names and games of dirty RNC officials as part of the bargain. Tim. F at Balloon Juice notes another one of those weird explainations for why Republicans should get away with being a pack of criminals being floated by a reader of Josh Marshall's blog. It basically amounts to saying that because the the Republicans are a pack of criminals, it would be undemocratic to do anything about it. Meanwhile, the media haven't yet wrapped their heads around the fact that it is the Republicans, and not a "both sides are guilty" thing.

As we already know, Alito wants to end the Constitution and has been trying to get rid of checks and balances that limit presidential power for decades. (I just liked it that this horror story was written by someone named Christopher Lee.)

Guest Columnist Joss Whedon Eyes the Future of TV. (via)

20:19 GMT

Last night's late trawl

Radley Balko has details on the scary story of how Cory Maye ended up on death row.

Via TalkLeft, an article from the Telegraph reminding us that new law in effect as of January 1st now allows police in the UK to arrest people for any offense, no matter how small.

The Agonist has a post from Colleen Rowley with the unedited text of her letter to The Washington Post in response to myths about the need for Bush's illegal surveillance methods.

A duet between Ezra Klein and Interesting Times on how to deal with wedge issues: Reject the premise.

This time it's personal: P&TNH say: Thanks, Ralph!

12:09 GMT

On the blog

Mahablog caught a New York Times editorial that I missed, Conspiring Against the Voters, about how Bush is stacking the Federal Election Commission with cronies (and getting rid of the one member who has a reputation for integrity). Oh, yes, one of them is: Hans von Spakovsky, a former Republican county chairman in Georgia and a political appointee at the Justice Department. He is reported to have been involved in the maneuvering to overrule the career specialists at Justice who warned that the Texas gerrymandering orchestrated by Representative Tom DeLay violated minority voting rights. Senators need the opportunity to delve into that, as well as reports of Mr. von Spakovsky's involvement in such voting rights abuses as the purging of voter rolls in Florida in the 2000 elections. Maha has more details - and while you're there, check out her post on the economy.

Gary Farber thinks no one has noticed the whole data-mining issue under the "wiretap" story, and really really really wants you to read about it.

Everybody's talkin' about the Imperial Presidency - like Thomas Nephew, Mark Kleiman, Armando, and Atrios.

Judd Legum on Why Bush's Warrantless Spying Programs Puts Americans At Risk.

CathiefromCanada with a great line for the day.

Max: The Watergate analogy betrays the problem. Watergate ushered in a generation of Democratic politicians with little in the way of ideological commitment other than honesty. Not long after Watergate we got the Reagan revolution.

Cernig has Lying Bastard Fatigue. I know just what he means.

Charles Dodgson on the importance of an uncensored and active news media, and an evening with Odetta.

02:10 GMT

Monday, 02 January 2006

A handful of links

The Sunday Times, US forces step up Iraq airstrikes. I bet the Iraqis are really grateful we are liberating them some more.

Ellis Henican with the stories the media thought were more important in 2005.

At Factesque, A Whole Mess of White House Letters rounds up more from the pointless writings of Elisabeth Bumiller, who uses up lots of space at the NYT.

Male Domination of the Internet Is Over, Study Finds. No kiddin'. Via Elayne Riggs.

George Bush's achievable goals

Wayne Uff says The Solution To 9/11 Is 1/20. I'm not sure we can wait that long.

The last word on the war on Christmas.


14:58 GMT

Interesting Times

Byron Calame, the NYT's "Public Editor", suggests he is getting stonewalled by head honchos Keller and Sulzberger about why the paper chose to wait more than a year to publish the illegal wiretap story:

I e-mailed a list of 28 questions to Bill Keller, the executive editor, on Dec. 19, three days after the article appeared. He promptly declined to respond to them. I then sent the same questions to Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher, who also declined to respond. They held out no hope for a fuller explanation in the future.
But, as Eli points out, Calame slides past the fact that the excuses we've heard so far make no sense:
But Calame fails to note two details. First, that statement is in apparent contradiction to the claim in the original article that "After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting." That statement clearly suggested that perhaps the Times wasn't 100% certain of its facts, and needed an additional year to pin down the truth. But the newer standalone statement says something quite different, that this alleged "further reporting" had to do with deciding the program was illegal, and how to write the story without revealing certain details (surely the latter could have been done in an hour or two, not a year).
One of the reasons why Big Media is supposed to be more "reliable" than, say, bloggers, is that they have lawyers going over their product to protect them against libel charges, in addition to editors who hold the material up to a high standard. The trouble with this formulation is that professional editors are in fact no different from anyone else in terms of their judgment, and in some cases less reliable because they hobnob with the very people they are supposed to be holding to account - thus, they are a biased, tainted gatekeeper. And the lawyers have a lot less work to do since that 1984 decision that made almost nothing actionable for libel.

What the big papers do have that I don't have is a big budget and a bunch of reporters who should be able to talk to enough people to at least get a solid idea of whether the government's conduct is legal in time for tonight's deadline. After all, the blogosphere managed to do it in a matter of hours - with no news budget and no "access" - to establish that Bush was breaking the law. Yet it took The New York Times a year to work out that, hm, maybe they had a real story. It seems to me you oughtn't to be able to survive in the news business if you don't even have that much news judgment.

Calame doesn't question this explanation, but the business about the "legal questions looming larger" is almost preposterous on its face. First of all, it doesn't take a lawyer to understand the probable illegality of the action. That doesn't mean that someday the Supreme Court might not rule the actions legal, but surely the story doesn't only become a story on that day, since the court would never have a chance to even make such a ruling if the entire story were still secret.
Yes. We're supposed to have a free press to make sure that that sort of thing happens, aren't we?
Furthermore, the story was based on discussions with not one but a dozen (!) whistleblowers in the government. Did the Times think that a dozen people would risk their careers, and even jail, to expose something that was perfectly legal? Surely that in and of itself said the story was worth reporting. Of course, the fact that the Times claims it didn't publish the story based on "assurances that everyone in government believed the expanded eavesdropping was legal" is also preposterous on its face. First of all, no one could possibly speak for "everyone in government," and second of all, such assurances, which obviously came from someone in government, and presumably near or even at the top of government, would have been (or should have been) completely worthless in any case.
This is the same media that found it inconceivable that the Clintons were telling the truth about misplacing a file during the move from Arkansas to Washington. Funny which things strain credulity, isn't it?

Also at Left I on the News, George Bush compares war wounds with vets, and a neat photo.

13:08 GMT

Morning highlights

OK, I finally noticed, and the link to Facing a dying nation now works.

Why do I get the impression Air America fired someone who is vital to maintaining their website?

Jane Hamsher on the Russert watch catches a moment of reality from Safire and the evil of banality from some other folks. God, I love this woman. (Who also notes that, yes indeed, Ashcroft apparently did refuse to overrule his deputy from his hospital bed.)

And via Eschaton I see that Uggabugga has picked up another astonishing claim from the same episode of Press the Meat, in which we are told that Reagan was the "moderate" in the 1980 presidential race, and Rudy Giuliani would be the right-winger in a race involving him and John McCain.

At The Poor Man Institute, the debate on slavery hits moral clarity.

I read this from Digby and this from Gary about Lisa Rein's weird story about Bush on the fake ranch and I suddenly remembered the thing about how hard Gore's father used to make him work on the (real) farm, and I thought maybe Bush is still trying to prove that there's something where he can compete with Gore. Either that or he's a pyromaniac.

Mike the Corpuscle's 2006 predictions.

The Arizona Eclectic has a tutorial for you on the Medicare "drug benefit" your "representatives" passed for you. This includes a link to the Medicare Prescription Drug Calculator Tutorial, which some kind soul created to try to help you figure out the calculator your government provides on the Medicare website. (This all makes me wonder what the comparison for drugs here and there really is. What was the last prescription you had to fill, and what did it cost you?) Also a link to Just remember-- Managed Care was the Republican alternative - because universal healthcare would have created a lot of problems...that you have now.


11:36 GMT

Sunday, 01 January 2006

Items of note

Jane Hamsher tells us why James Comey is the hero of the day, and maybe of the last few years. (And: Maybe it's not quite the same as my usual Bra of the week, but still, get a load of this.)

Suburban Guerrilla: I finally realized why, with each new revelation of BushCo's immorality, instead of falling into the pit of despair, I only feel lighter and stronger. Here's why: These are tactics used by losers. They are people who can only rise to power by lying, manipulating and distorting their agenda. They know full well they can't rally supporters on the basis of their true motives.

Oliver Willis says MD: Franchot for Comptroller: Delegate Peter Franchot is running in the Democratic primary for comptroller against former governor Donald Schaeffer, because the man is just too cosy with Ehrlich and the Republican party.

750 Volts says Virginia's legislators can't seem to stop talking about sex. GOTV says, "Wedge issues are what you do when you don't know how to govern."

Dominic at Epicycle suggests that some enterprising sf geek should index what we're supposed to be doing each year according to old sf stories. (He's also got a round-up of Evil Recording Industry items.)

23:57 GMT

Facing a dying nation

Bill Scher has a sobering piece at Liberal Oasis in which he recommends (and quotes from) an article in the Financial Times which he quite rightly says is, "worthy reading for liberals and Dems seeking to articulate an alternative foreign policy vision." Here's a bit of the meat:

The run-up to the Iraq war brought a dramatic transformation of world politics. It revealed a US disregarding the sovereignty of other countries and demanding previously unwanted global executive power.
Under Mr Bush's presidency a new international community has begun to emerge but, rather than being aligned with the US, it is counterposed to it.

Helped by these shifts in the balance of power the UN has just about weathered 2005 in one piece.

Yet an America that stands alone is good news for no one.

The world, which knew we had not elected Bush, held its breath for four years until we could correct the error. Because we did not spend those four years ensuring free and fair elections to bring about clear and full repudiation of the usurping administration's crimes, and because we have not, this time, publicly brought the election that re-seated Bush into question, the world now sees us as unable or unwilling to do what must be done, and is moving to contain us.

If we wish to be seen as a leading player rather than just as an oversized vandal on the world stage - and I think we do - we must not merely take back our country from these criminals, but plan carefully to address the world's perception of us as a giant bully that can't be trusted.

And one of the things we really do have to do in order to make that happen is address the problem we have with our now completely unreliable elections. Some states are banning the machines to which we owe much of this problem, but anyone who wishes to lead the Democratic Party should be making it known now that unverifiable elections are not acceptable, nor is voter suppression, and we know that sitting around on the sidelines waiting for "proof" after the fact is insufficient.

There is a real grassroots movement that wants to see this problem properly addressed, but without credible leadership, it goes nowhere.

Unfortunately, no one is paying much attention to the few members of Congress who are trying to shine some light on this - apparently because no one takes them seriously as presidential candidates. And I find it infuriating that a Democrat has to be seen as a credible presidential candidate before they are taken seriously as a member of Congress. (And I find it indigestible that the media still acts like Lieberman is a more credible Democratic leader - despite his rather convincing repudiation by the party in his last presidential try - than they do John Conyers, who is actually addressing the issues we really care about. Technically, as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, among others, he is in the party leadership, but you'd never guess that from the way the media treats him. Let's see, what is it about Conyers that makes them so willing to ignore him? I'll give you one guess.)

So, as of now, no one - and I mean no one - gets any slack from me if they even think about running for president without addressing the verifiability of our elections. And they must be willing to state up front that we don't have any way to know who won the 2004 election - because the whole world has to know that there's a real question there.

So here's the question that every Democrat (except John Conyers) running for any office must answer:

What are you doing to ensure that we have free and fair elections in the United States?

17:58 GMT

~Happy New Year!~

Check out the fireworks at Make Them Accountable, and then have a look at the stories Caro has posted. In particular, you might want to go over the transcript from Friday's Lou Dobbs Tonight and scroll about halfway down to where the show covers the Republican's War on the Middle-Class. Yes, they actually refer to it that way.

The Ostroy Report: Something astonishing happened in last month's local government election in the sleepy little upstate New York town of Rhinebeck. Voters, by a solid 15% margin, elected the first Democrat Town Supervisor since 1904. That's 101 years, folks, of Republican rule in this largely blue-collar and lower-middle class community of 2725 whose median household income falls just shy of $30,000.

Accessible Krugman over at Topplebush, with Heck of a Job, Bushie - and what a difference a year makes.

My thanks to Elton Beard for calling BS on Robert J. Samuelson for his creepy suggestion that liberals have some mindless dedication to the idea of big government programs.

Digby: In fact, this government is the poster child for the division of power and the rule of law. They were written into the constitution with these guys in mind.

03:47 GMT

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, January 2006

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