The Sideshow

Archive for July 2008

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Thursday, 31 July 2008

Heroes and villains

Since the organizations that give out awards to journalists keep sullying them by giving them to some of the more egregious members of the Stepford Press and the right-wing media, it's nice to see the Nieman Foundation's I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence going to McClatchy Washington bureau chief John Wolcott for skeptical coverage of the pre-invasion lies that led us into Iraq (when McClatchy was still Knight Ridder).

Yesterday was Medicare's 43rd birthday, and eRobin celebrated at Fact-esque.

Buck Batard notices signs that supporting the troops didn't mean what they said it means. And CHuck Dupree explains why they hate us.

Tim Kaine - Everyone seems to think that's who Obama's VP choice will be, but why? No matter what good things you can say about him (and there are some), the fact remains that an anti-choice nominee could be a deal-breaker for a lot of people. (Also: Chris Jordan, who you may remember form his piles of soda cans and plastic bags, runs the numbers on the Constitution.)

There's Something About Mary: Unmasking a Gun Lobby Mole - She seems to be an environmental activist, but she's really working for the corporate scum.

The new award John Cole has given Jake Tapper may not be work-safe.

Today's polls appear to have Obama in the lead nationally.

17:35 BST

Liars and thieves

Found in Eschaton comments:

Did Barack Obama cause the Black Death in medieval Europe? That's the charge made by a new ad put out by the McCain campaign. Some Democrats have suggested the claim may not, I say MAY not be true. When we come back we'll discuss the controversy where I'll be joined by historical expert Clifford May and Independent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in the Situation Room.
catalexis | 07.31.08 - 7:35 am | #
Digby on McNasty's McNasty, the man who framed Kerry, and is doing the same to Obama. The good news is, the media isn't 100% in favor of the Republican this time, so it might not work quite as well. The bad news, of course, is that we won't really know that until we see how the media falls for it. The public, on the other hand, may be harder sell after eight years of this crap.

Just about anyone I know with a conscience has at some point or other had to make the decision between pursuing a morally tolerable career or going after the bucks. We think of this as pretty much normal - not many people get offered a dream job that provides high material rewards without a few moral compromises. Can you imagine what right-wingers would have said if we'd demanded the right to simply refuse to do work our employers required when we didn't happen to approve of it - without losing our jobs? It's like a bad joke. And yet, here we are, with a proposed new Department of Health and Human Services regulation that "purports to be one that protects the rights of workers who object to providing services which run counter to their religious beliefs," so that the forced-pregnancy lobby can treat all birth control as abortion and refuse to provide it. (Also: How Bush and Cheney lost the war on terror. Yes, Kerry was right.)

Andrew Greeley says, "America's leaders violated one of the Commandments: T.S. Elliot summarized the issue, 'When good does evil in its struggle against evil, it becomes indistinguishable from its enemy.' A current example is the sick morality that sees America's program of torture during the war that "they" had done it to us and would do so again. Therefore we were not evil. The Sept. 11 attack persuaded the leaders of the country that murder, kidnapping and torture were appropriate in the war on terror." Oh, but they violated more than one.

Talking Deads: "Stop McCain Sense"

Why Steve Simels hates Gary Lewis.

15:42 BST

Last night's links

I didn't know about the Union Rat, which can be seen in Manhattan wherever bad employers are under union scrutiny: "These rodents are set on the street by various union workers to make the passersby aware that either illegal or unsafe labor practices are being conducted in the area. These rats usually have sign attached to them that say "Shame on You" and then a few details about what's going on." And now I learn that Joe Lieberman is due to get a visit from a rat.

Lots of the BushCo hires turn out to have bought their diplomas, so they are even less qualified than we thought.

The House Judiciary Committee found Karl Rove in contempt of Congress. Don Siegelman responds.

Glenn Greenwald talks to establishment Democrats and reviews, "Things I learned today about democracy: If you believe in the Fourth Amendment, an end to the Iraq War, the rule of law for government and corporate criminals, a ban on torture, Congressional approval before the President can attack Iran, and the preservation of habeas corpus rights, then you're a fringe, dogmatic Far Leftist ideologue, the kind who ruined the Democratic Party in 1968 and wants to do so again."

The new Rove Team tactics McCain is using against Obama now include the tactic they used against Harold Ford (he's after our women!). Josh Marshall wants to track any journalists who inject this into the mainstream.

WaPo fact-checks J. Sidney: "What Obama Electricity Tax?"

Thomas Nephew has updates on the story of police surveillance of anti-death penalty and pro-peace activists.

Rachel Maddow on the presumption and arrogance of John Sidney McSame.

13:07 BST

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Reading the entrails

How Dick Morris counts: "While 70 percent of women under 40 have a favorable opinion of the Democratic candidate, only 58 percent of women in their 40s feel the same way, and only 52 percent of those over 50 see him favorably. For a Democrat to be losing among women over 40 is without precedent in the past 20 years." [Emphasis mine.] Yes, I'd feel better if Obama was winning older women by 15 or 20 points, but over 50% is not "losing". Except that it is, because our candidates usually do better than that. Whatever else I may think of Dick Morris, if those numbers are correct, it means Obama has lost what were previously some fairly reliable Democratic voters. (And no, it's not just about Hillary Clinton - or about "remembering" sexism from 30 years ago, since no one has to reach deep into memory for something that's happening right in front of their face right now. It's about speaking to peoples' concerns. Unfortunately, the media isn't giving them much of a chance to listen to McCain be a jackass, while Obama is just not talking about things that are interesting. "Family values" and family issues are two very different things. Most women aren't being kept up late at night worrying about how there's not enough "free trade" and we need more anti-gay, anti-choice voices in the Democratic Party.)

And, though I'm really sick of watching Obama being characterized as uppity, I also think he should avoid saying spooky stuff like, "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions." (I'm sure plenty of people are laughing bitterly after hearing all the complaints about how Hillary said "I" instead of "we" too much.) [Update: Yes, it occurred to me after I posted it that the only source I have for that quote is Dana Milbank, who is hardly a reliable source.]

All Tavis Smiley did was suggest a little slowing down and thinking about things and he got slammed for failing to climb on board the Obama train. He's not the only black celebrity, of course, to have failed to jump into the love-in immediately, nor the first to be accused of having some personal resentments in the way, but that's just denial on the part of Obama's fans. You don't need psychological problems or bigotry to explain people wanting to see what they're getting before they sign on the dotted line.

And look, here's a whole profile on Obama's academic history that still leaves the case unclear.

And here's the thing: The Republicans don't like McCain, and they're not even all that eager to be in the White House when all the crap they've sent down the chute hits the fan. So why are the numbers so close? Why did one recent poll even show McCain ahead in likely voters? And why is it that the more Obama tacks to the right, the dicier things seem to get? Could it be that it's a mistake for the (predicted) Democratic nominee to court the right at the expense of the Democratic base?

22:34 BST

Thanks to Ruth for the links

In Massachusetts, the bill repealing an old anti-miscegination law that prevented couples from out of state from marrying in the state if their own state would not recognize their marriage passed 118 to 35: "The legislation will probably be sent to Governor Deval Patrick this week. The repeal will take effect 90 days after Patrick signs the measure." Naturally, the opposition offered what amounts to a states' rights argument in debate, but we know how much they believe in states' rights when something other than private, personal freedoms are at stake.

Henry Farrell says some Dems have come up with a new foreign policy document, "the so-called Phoenix Initiative. Now in one sense, manifestoes like this are ten a penny at this stage of the election cycle - they're the calling cards that foreign policy elites use to try to sell themselves to a potential incoming administration. But what's unusual about this one is the near total lack of self-congratulation about the US as the one essential nation, leader of the free world etc. Instead, the document's main message is that the US's military predominance doesn't count for as much as it used to, and in a globally connected world, not only are other forms of power becoming more important, but other countries are going to take the lead on many key issues, and the US should get used to this." That's a radical recognition of things as they really are.

Larisa Alexandrovna finds more evidence of mean, petty Republicans when "Government opposes appeal by imprisoned attorney to visit dying wife: The Department of Justice and prosecutors in Mississippi have filed a motion opposing the appeal of Mississippi trial lawyer Paul Minor to visit his dying wife. Minor, who became famous for taking on big tobacco in the 1990s, is now imprisoned on what many consider to be questionable charges. The primary grounds for denial offered by Justice Department attorneys is that letting Minor visit his wife would present 'a danger to the community.'"

Noam Chomsky's "Superpower and Failed States: The selection of issues that should rank high on the agenda of concern for human welfare and rights is, naturally, a subjective matter. But there are a few choices that seem unavoidable, because they bear so directly on the prospects for decent survival. Among them are at least these three: nuclear war, environmental disaster and the fact that the government of the world's leading power is acting in ways that increase the likelihood of these catastrophes. It is important to stress the "government," because the population, not surprisingly, does not agree. That brings up a fourth issue that should deeply concern Americans, and the world: the sharp divide between public opinion and public policy, one of the reasons for the fear, which cannot casually be put aside, that "the American `system' as a whole is in real trouble - that it is heading in a direction that spells the end of its historic values (of) equality, liberty and meaningful democracy," as Gar Alperovitz observes in America Beyond Capitalism."

Wronged toys: "So, the culture that all too recently dispensed with Geisha now brings us the great-grandmother of Mudd's Women." (Also: Potterchick made me hungry. Although I suppose the cholesterol casserole I designed that involves fried eggs instead of noodles, and three different cheeses, is the low-starch version of the same thing.)

15:06 BST

Big bills, small change

The same, only more so: "The Associated Press just published an internal memo the EPA's chief of staff sent to managers telling them to not let staffers cooperate with the agency's own inspector general but forward the info requests to him. In addition to the inspector general, employees aren't supposed to talk to congressional investigators (!) or reporters (no "!")."

"Ill. Gov. Cuts Funds to for Wrongful Convictions: To balance the budget, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has vetoed funds earmarked to prevent and correct wrongful convictions." That's just wrong.

Relativity: "One brilliant feature of the winger noise machine is that those operating it realize that an extra added bonus to making up a never-ending series of either wildly exaggerated or completely imaginary "scandals" is that the public gets desensitized to the term. So you didn't pay your nanny's social security taxes, and I ordered some people to be tortured to death -- I guess we're all sinners before God!"

Jason Linkins says that, amazingly, Andrea Mitchell was one of the few celebrity press members who told the truth about the McCain ad. And the NYT admits that the ad's assertion's about Obama's trip are "not correct". Alas, a good many others carried McCain's water, instead.

So, Senator Tubes was finally indicted for corruption, but of course this is good news for John McCain.

I think I linked the ad MoveOn chose back when they were still having the contest, but it's still cute. Not sure how effective it will be, but cute.

12:36 BST

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Can we put plum sauce on this?

I just felt like posting this photo of Lucy Huntzinger and me hanging out on the Underground platform waiting for a train.

What being "nonpartisan" really means: "Over a month ago we said that the 2008 presidential race was becoming a referendum on Barack Obama. Now the polling data has confirmed our hypothesis, and national pundits have said much the same thing. Pause for a moment and consider how truly incredible and unlikely this is. We are six years into an unpopular war and smack in the middle of a modest recession. Every environmental voting factor suggests that this election should be about George Bush and his policies, NOT the Democrat. But to this point, this race is almost totally about Obama. The upside is that he is the talk of the nation and McCain is virtually invisible. The downside, though, is that the Democrats appear to have lost--or at least temporarily ceded--their most important weapon: anti-Bush sentiment. If this election is about Bush/McCain, Obama should win; if it's about Obama, McCain has a chance."

I never did think much of Harry Reid, but he sure gets no points from me after pretending to be sensible about energy and then proposing expanded areas of oil exploitation, including offshore drilling. Schmuck.

Uh oh, the marketing people might be after you.

DLC hypocrisy - Max Baucus wants to crack down on tax havens! Well, tax havens that he and his DLC pals didn't push the legislation to create, I guess.

I've actually heard a lot of great things about Iceland as a vacation spot - but not about the food.

23:16 BST

If only this could be fixed

Glenn Greenwald on The Washington Post editorial page's latest rule of law sermon - which they apparently value in Russia: "That an establishment organ like The Washington Post Editorial Page continues to think it can credibly lecture the world on the rule of law and the need to abide by international norms is a potent reflection of how deluded our political class has become. Given what our political establishment has sanctioned over the last seven years, it so obviously has -- to use the phrase coined by the ex-blogger Billmon -- 'forfeited its ability to chastise the human rights abuses of others without triggering a global laughing fit.' That goes double for our ability to chastise other political cultures for their disregard of the rule of law, particularly basic precepts of international law." Y'see, they still value the rule of law - for Russia.

Does he or doesn't he? When it comes to his own position on affirmative action, McCain apparently no longer knows whether he is a "maverick" who supports the program or a McSame who opposes it.

And the strongest thing Chuck Hagel can find to say about McCain's ad lying about Obama visiting the troops* is that he's "treading on some very thin ground, here." I suppose that's a lot for a Republican, but that's not exactly scathing, is it? Meanwhile, now that even Howard Kurtz has said CBS' editing job on McCain's babble was unprofessional, CBS is trying to walk back on their initial insistence that it was perfectly reasonable and are now apparently trying to blame it on "a mistake made by a young producer under deadline pressure."

Even crazier Scott Card: "According to science fiction author Orson Scott Card (pictured above), recent court decisions in Massachusetts and California recognizing same-sex marriage mean 'the end of democracy in America.' As such, he advocates taking down our government 'by whatever means is made possible or necessary.'"

John Edwards talks about his war on poverty on PBS' Now. (via)

17:34 BST

Put some muscle in your hustle

Bob Fertik says a primary challenge scared Jerry Nadler into taking impeachment more seriously. Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi claims she would support impeachment if she had "the goods", despite the fact that Congress has already seen "the goods": "Last Friday one of two things indisputably happened. Either a dozen senior Congress members and several well-known expert witnesses went certifiably and collectively insane, or charges of the most extreme executive abuses of power ever heard in the history of this nation were backed up by overwhelming evidence during a six-hour hearing of the House Judiciary Committee focused on the possible need to impeach the President and the Vice President." But if a Congressional hearing is held and the media doesn't report on it, did it really even happen? Ask your rep to co-sponsor the Kucinich impeachment article. More here.

Meteor Blades says there should be no letting bygones be bygones and that accountability for all these high crimes mustn't be dismissed: "The future is what matters. Another decade or two of allowing the maggots to hollow out the Constitution could make that already dicey future grim indeed." (Not that I think it isn't already grim....) (via)

Media Matters has a report on Diversity in the Media out, and we are completely unsurprised to know that there isn't a lot.

Sara Robinson on Madmen and Martyrs and Unitarians. (Thanks to Steve Bates for the heads-up.)

Three weeks to help Darcy Burner replace an idiot in Washington's 8th.

Mick Arran responds to the continual floating of right-wing Republicans to fill out the Democratic ticket: " They could win without doing any of this pandering (if that's what it is), and might lose because they're identifying themselves with a party the country HATES." This party. Of course, floating right-wing Democrats, though an improvement, is really not much of one. (And is everyone crazy? Don't they realize that they need a VP candidate the right-wingers will hate more than Obama?)

Some less than laudatory analysis of press "coverage" of the BlogHer conference I didn't even know was going on at the same time as Netroots Nation.

How Tim Pawlenty made his case for VP by wrecking the Minnesota economy (Thanks to Frank for the tip.)

15:55 BST

News and stuff

You'll never guess what kind of liberal-hating crap inspired a guy to go into a church to shoot liberals. Oh, wait, yes, you will: "Inside the house, officers found Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder by radio talk show host Michael Savage, Let Freedom Ring by talk show host Sean Hannity, and The O'Reilly Factor, by television talk show host Bill O'Reilly." More from dday.

Obama is reaching out to "values voters" by hooking up with homophobes as well as trying to sound conciliatory toward the right on abortion, apparently, and Amy Sullivan and The American Spectator seem to like the lurch to the right, but there's no evidence that all this alienating crap is actually earning him support. (It doesn't look like all that "free trade" crap did him any good in Ohio, either.) Meanwhile, Brilliant Jill writes a letter to Obama, and Giblets considers Change You Can Suspend Your Disbelief In.

Robert Novak Diagnosed With Brain Tumor and Mark Adams is going to Hell.

Jimmy Carter, harmonica god

I was guest blogging last week at Air America, which means I was doing pretty much what I always do but Sam Seder was grabbing The Sideshow feed for crossposts. And also Sam occasionally dropped images in to brighten things up, and one picture was from kalandrakas' photo stream, so I went to check it out, and found this neat picture.

12:38 BST

Open windows

Periodically, I've found wingnuts in my comment threads responding to criticisms of administration policy by wailing about how Muslim fundamentalists wouldn't approve of me and I therefore shouldn't be "defending them" by saying that BushCheney should stop murdering Iraqis who have no known connection to Al Qaeda. I've tried to point out that right-wing religious fanatics would probably all disapprove of me whether they were Muslim or not, and I don't see what's so special about Arab or Persian religious fanatics. After all, if you live in America, the religious fanatics who are most likely to kill you aren't Muslims: "Knoxville's police chief says the man accused of a shooting that killed two people at a Tennessee church targeted the congregation because of its liberal social stance." What was that we were hearing about how there had been "no terrorist attacks" since 9/11? I mean, leaving aside that it has been a lie all along, since we have persisted in having this kind of thing without any apparent interest from the administration.

Still Lurching Along the Road to Serfdom - The trouble with Hayek and his admirers is that little blind spot about the relationship between money and power, no matter who's got it.

A man is facing a six year sentence for shooting his own lawnmower.

This one almost seems like a parody - "Federal judge rebukes Secret Service in discrimination suit: A federal judge rebuked the U.S. Secret Service tonight for presenting what she called uncredible testimony and failing to produce documents and e-mails sought in a long-running lawsuit that alleges systemic discrimination against African American agents. [...] 'The court is mystified at the seemingly cavalier approach to this court's order,' Robinson said. The court is actually being 'lenient' with the agency, she said, because she could sanction the agency for failing to adhere to her motion to produce evidence requested three years ago on Sept. 13. To date, Robinson has already ordered the government to produce evidence in the case more than 20 times and sanctioned it twice for failing to follow the order - a number that far exceeds typical cases, according to legal experts. Today's hearing was scheduled to give the government a chance to present evidence. But the government decided not to call their witness, Robert S. Zitz, the chief information officer of the Secret Service, at the last moment, preferring to rely on sworn statements filed in the case. Under questioning, by E. Desmond Hogan, part of the plaintiff's legal team trying the case for free, Zitz admitted that portions of his sworn statements were no longer true."

"Torture, and the Strategic Helplessness of the American Psychological Association: Jane Mayer's new book, The Dark Side, has refocused attention on psychologists' participation in Bush administration torture and detainee abuse. In one chapter Mayer provides previously undisclosed details about psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen's role in the CIA's brutal, 'enhanced interrogation' techniques. These techniques apparently drew heavily on the theory of "learned helplessness" developed by former American Psychological Association President Martin Seligman. (Seligman's work involved tormenting dogs with electrical shocks until they became totally unable or unwilling to extract themselves from the painful situation. Hence the phrase 'learned helplessness.')"

00:15 BST

Monday, 28 July 2008

Words and pictures

This creepy prima donna is so presumptuous and paranoid that he actually expects wounded vets to want to get up at the crack of dawn to be kept in a room for hours without a bathroom break just to get a glimpse of his countenance and hear him lie again. I was going to post the story earlier, but I keep hoping someone will fix this headline: "Injured vets tell pull Dick Cheney invitation over security demands" - but they haven't. "Vice President Cheney's invitation to address wounded combat veterans next month has been yanked because the group felt his security demands were Draconian and unreasonable.".

Sometimes I feel like it's just the same story over and over again, you know? "Justice Department Report on Hiring Finds Violations Get away! They did? "A new Justice Department report concludes that politics illegally influenced the hiring of career prosecutors and immigration judges, and largely lays the blame on top aides to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Monday's report singles out the department's former White House liaison, Monica Goodling, for violating federal law and Justice Department policy by discriminating against job applicants who weren't Republican or conservative loyalists. 'Goodling improperly subjected candidates for certain career positions to the same politically based evaluation she used on candidates for political positions,' the report concludes." Oh, wait, it is the same old story - for every damned thing. TPM's Kate Klonick has updates.

I've always found it very frustrating that it always seems so difficult to explain that a little "harmless" presumption is often indistinguishable from a dicey, dangerous, or even terrifying situation. (On the other hand, I also value being able to hear what's going on around me, which is why I don't run around with earbuds blocking my awareness and getting in the way of my own natural head music. And anyway, c'mon, Jethro Tull?)

Phoning a credit card company: "I just called my Visa card to fix something, and found myself being asked if I was the Neil Gaiman. I said yes, I was. 'So,' said the Visa person, 'Are you going to be writing an episode of Dr Who?'"

I think I may have decided to fall in love with the hollyhocks after all. I also decided to fool around with Picasa and it's a lot faster to deal with than Flickr. I recommend viewing with the slideshow function.

20:04 BST

Fear and loathing

Greg Palast says, "Obama Doesn't Sweat. He should. In swing-state Colorado, the Republican Secretary of State conducted the biggest purge of voters in history, dumping a fifth of all registrations. Guess their color. In swing-state Florida, the state is refusing to accept about 85,000 new registrations from voter drives - overwhelming Black voters. In swing state New Mexico, HALF of the Democrats of Mora, a dirt poor and overwhelmingly Hispanic county, found their registrations disappeared this year, courtesy of a Republican voting contractor. In swing states Ohio and Nevada, new federal law is knocking out tens of thousands of voters who lost their homes to foreclosure." But when Palast's investigative partner, RFK, Jr., talked to Obama, he said he was "concerned". Palast, on the other hand, is worried about the continuing theft of our democracy. This stuff needs to get out into the public eye, and, "We have been offered an astonishing opportunity to place the Kennedy-Palast investigative findings on a national, prime-time, major-network television broadcast." Only trouble is, they aren't getting the money up front to produce these things, so they need your help.

But that's just one way they're stealing our democracy. Another is at the ballot box itself. And I'm inclined to agree that if you absolutely can't avoid using machines (for whatever spurious reason), those old lever voting machines are probably a lot more trustworthy than machines that can be hacked en masse by computer system. Bearing in mind, of course, that no system is foolproof, and you always need a lot of monitoring, oversight, auditing, and constant vigilance, because since an election can be fixed, someone will try to fix it. Let's not make it any easier than it already is. (Also, a bit of coverage of the non-impeachment hearings.)

Why didn't McCain want to see the troops in March? Or maybe McCain is just asking a creepy, desperate question when he demands to know why Obama didn't visit the troops when the cameras were present, and ignores the fact Obama left the press behind when he did go visit them.

Matt Taibbi reckons that "McCain Doesn't Have a Prayer: "The candidate has only recently come around to the idea that the Republican nominee in the age of Bush and the evangelical ayatollahs has to go to church regularly. When asked recently if he is an evangelical Christian, McCain answered, 'I attend church.' When asked how often, he said, 'Not as often as I should.'" Be that as it may, some people apparently still plan to vote for him, sad to say (though not many of them are Democrats).

Last time I mentioned what Google was celebrating with one of their interesting holiday logos, I was surprised to learn that some people hadn't figured out how to figure it out. You just mouseover the logo and the tag well announce something like, "Beatrix Potter's birthday", and if you actually click on it, you get a page of references, just in case you didn't know who Beatrix Potter was.

17:20 BST

If you really are my brother then you'd better start to pray

Unbelievably, The Los Angeles Times has "admitted" that its editorial page is "center left". Oh, if only it were so. Diane: "Even so, the editorial's characterization of 'center-left' is somewhat puzzling. Being against the war and for the surge hardly seems center-left, just a tad irrational. Backing Antonio Villaraigosa might have been a liberal choice, but backing Arnold Schwarzenegger, the man who has threatened to slash the pay of state workers to generate some badly needed cash rather than raise taxes on the wealthy? Equally as puzzling is the characterization of the editorial board's stance on the Fourth Amendment violations of the current administration and on the death penalty as 'Libertarian.' The editorial makes sense only if one realizes how far to the right the GOP has moved the marker. That a major newspaper has bought into that movement is far more telling that its claim to be 'center-left.'" (Also from Diane, on The Slimy Hand Of The Free Market: "Now here's a job for a real go-getter: selling health insurance policies which provide less coverage than Medicare to Medicare beneficiaries who are poor and disabled. Yes, you read that right. And they did it using tactics usually ascribed to used-car salesmen.")

At Left I on the News, "Obama's and McCain's position on Iraq is now identical", and below it, a consideration of what it really means to be offering "a carrot and a stick" to the governments of other countries.

Krugman says that the passage of the housing bill is essentially good news, but: "This bill is the latest in a series of temporary fixes to the financial system - attempts to hold the thing together with bungee cords and masking tape - that have, at least so far, succeeded in staving off complete collapse. But those fixes have done nothing to resolve the system's underlying flaws. In fact, they set the stage for even bigger future disasters - unless they're followed up with fundamental reforms. Lack of regulation for all those financial institutions has led to disaster, not just for individuals who are losing their homes, or even for the organizations who rooked them and the investors who thought they'd found a money tree, but for business in general as the money supply has had to tighten up on the ground.

The Most Critical Component Of The Surge

Thanks to Phil for reminding me that the other name for "salmonella poisoning" is "typhoid".

"The Devil Came From Kansas"

13:15 BST

Still there will be more

I can't begin to count the ways that conservatives have murdered people, from the million or so Little Nero and Big Dick are killing in Iraq and Afghanistan to those additional numbers who died when they ignored warnings of an attack from Al Qaeda, when they deliberately refused to allow relief to New Orleans, when they encouraged insurance companies to refuse lifesaving medical care to people who had already paid for it, and so on, and so on - and never mind the astonishing theft of services and a future for all those people who've lost pensions they worked to earn at Enron and the airlines and wherever else these things are going on. And these people who have destroyed so many lives will never see a day in jail. But by they gods, at least Marion Jones got time for breaking the law!

And Wendy Whitaker broke the law when, at the age of 17, she went down on her 15-year-old boyfriend (which I'm sure ruined him for life), so now she's on the sex offenders register and 11 years later being hounded out of her home while she's trying to settle down with her husband. To protect the children. And Maria Ventura broke the law by being in the country illegally, so it was just and proper that when she was arrested, her children were abandoned on the shoulder of the interstate at 2:00 in the morning.

Perhaps Obama's team keeps floating some of the worst choices in the world (most of whom are either Republicans or might as well be) in order to remind people that there really are worse VP choices than Hillary Clinton? Because, really, that's the only good reason I can think of for continuing to do this. Because people are starting to wonder whether there will be a place for Democrats in an Obama administration.

I bet the Iraqis are really glad we liberated them from the threat of violence and torture and rape rooms and...clean water.

Barbie learns math not so hard.

Is Lee Stranahan looking to be the Joe Lieberman of his generation?


02:17 BST

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Stuff I saw

Seeing the Forest: "AP has a story today about the salmonella poisonings teaching the food industry a lesson. They just get it wrong. The story shows a fundamental lack of understanding about what is happening to us today. [...] Let me tell you how this really works: The executives who killed regulation pocketed cash -- when people later get sick insurance companies and shareholders are the ones who pay for it. There is no sentient being called "food industry" or "tomato company" at work here. There are a few executives who got rich, and everyone else pays for it."

John McCain's foreign policy expertise is legend, made up entirely of his ability to talk bollocks and get the media to sit still for it.

Dan's round-up of This Week in Tyranny alerts us to Linda Sanchez's HuffPo article on Why Karl Rove Should Go To Jail, but as Dan suggests, it's pretty weak beer when she doesn't actually do anything about it.

Some interesting links from Radley Balko. My favorite is the one he called "Unfortunate logo." Meanwhile, Radley continues to catalog cases of failure in our criminal justice system. Also via Radley, a story I nearly missed on Charlie Rangel filing an ethics complaint against himself.

And people wonder why I don't go home as often anymore - and when I do, I seldom venture far from my home town in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Every time I fly it gets worse, and I hate it that much more. Poor Charlie spent sixty-three hours trying to get to the ComicCon.

Ken has changed the template for the Bridesmaid blog.


22:49 BST

London sweating

I'm not one of these cavefish who whine every time it gets to 70°, but it's hot out there. It's hot in here, too. I'm wilting.

Verifying John McCain's words.

Making law based on preliminary or barely-understood science isn't much better than making it based on no science at all, and can sometimes be worse. Also: Black people have been unfairly unfeeling toward the real victim of Katrina: poor George Bush. Thank Dog we have a liberal media to redress the balance.

How Republicans plan to "save" your healthcare system. Via D2 route. (There's absolutely no question in my mind that single-payer is a million miles better than what the US has, but even so, the more I read about it, the more I think Nye Bevan had the right idea.)

You can listen to Glenn Greenwald interviewing Daniel Ellsberg on his new radio show, and read what Glenn said about the hearing on Kucinich's impeachment article, and watch Jane Hamsher talk to Bruce Fein, too.

Vincent Bugliosi rips Bush a new one

Obama on Press the Meat, on the economy, on Iraq and Afghanistan, and other stuff.

Four years ago today

Thanks to Anna for alerting me* to the Doctor Who contribution to the Proms. (It's a bit lame, though.)


19:15 BST

And the big wheel turn around

John Dean says it is "unfortunate" that the Kucinich resolution will not receive the consideration which it deserves: "It has been clear to me since 2004, when I wrote Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush, in which I analyzed the basis for the very charge that Kucinich has now leveled, that Bush's actions with regard to Congress - in essence, telling Congress and the American people a deadly lie involving the nation's blood and treasure - constituted, without question, a 'high crime' and impeachable behavior."

McClatchy does a daily round-up of violence in Iraq - here's the one for yesterday.

Liberal bias bias - that is, a bias in favor of thinking that the media is liberally biased, and therefore "correcting" to make it even more conservative: "The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, where researchers have tracked network news content for two decades, found that ABC, NBC and CBS were tougher on Obama than on Republican John McCain during the first six weeks of the general-election campaign. [...] During the evening news, the majority of statements from reporters and anchors on all three networks are neutral, the center found. And when network news people ventured opinions in recent weeks, 28% of the statements were positive for Obama and 72% negative. Network reporting also tilted against McCain, but far less dramatically, with 43% of the statements positive and 57% negative, according to the Washington-based media center."

Cheap-labor Republicans kill you - and they should be charged with murder.

David Bender on GoLeft TV talking to Don Siegelman about who he was before Karl Rove decided to destroy him, and where it started. Oh, yeah, Send Karl Rove to Jail!

Someone in the McCain campaign is definitely trying to make sure he loses. (via)

Buffy Saint-Marie


13:19 BST

Snakes and ladders

I'm not gonna feel confident about winning the election unless Obama is at least 20 points ahead of McCain by election day. Because I'm sure that the combined efforts of Republicans to prevent Americans from making their will known will be enough to wipe out a substantial lead, and we'll need an even bigger lead to thwart their plans.

Brent Budowski is predicting Bush will issue mass pardons of all the criminals in his administration, and I have no reason to think he's wrong, because there is only one thing that can prevent it: impeachment. (Also: Robert Parry explains the facts behind Rep. Steve King's attempt to smear Joe Wilson as a liar because some old yellowcake Iraq already had (and already did not have the means to process) somehow disproves Wilson's assertion that Iraq had not attempted to buy even more yellowcake. Well, why would they?)

Hugo Chavez gets more popular every day - Two years ago New Hampshire had too much pride to accept free fuel from a commie-lover like Chavez, but times have changed.

The letters on the subject in the IHT are probably smarter than anything the NYT has published about Iran: "Are we really asked to believe that a theocratic Islamic government in Iran would drop a bomb in the Jerusalem vicinity, and risk destroying the third holiest Islamic shrine in the world?"

Still watching Fox so we don't have to, the News Hounds inform us that, "Dick Morris Wants To Start War Against Iran To Help McCain Get Elected: For Dick Morris, war is simply good electoral strategy. During a double segment on last night's (7/25/08) Hannity & Colmes. FOX News contributor Morris gleefully predicted to a horrified Alan Colmes that Israel would attack Iran within a timeframe based on the U.S. Elections. Morris, who never put his own tooshie on the line with military service, argued that an attack would be a good thing not just because of the situation with Iran but because it would help Senator John McCain get elected.


02:31 BST

Saturday, 26 July 2008

And a little rain to cool things off

Charnos Geisha full cup braBra of the Week

Once again we are left with the question of whether Deborah Howell is a Republican operative, or if she's just as thick as a brick: "A FAIR Action Alert on July 15 encouraged readers to ask the Washington Post why it asked a misleading poll question about Obama and McCain's positions on the Iraq War. The question, which framed the candidates' positions as two different "approaches" to withdrawal, led the paper to conclude that the country was "split down the middle between those backing Sen. Barack Obama's 16-month timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and those agreeing with Sen. John McCain's position that events, not timetables, should dictate when forces come home." Post ombud Deborah Howell dismissed FAIR's criticism without addressing FAIR's argument." Yes, she has rather a habit of doing that, doesn't she?

It's worth remembering that the Republicans have to keep trying to tie "the left", Democrats in general, and the (presumptive) Democratic nominee to Al Qaeda, because they need to distract everyone from the fact that it's the Republicans who have all the actual connections to them. After all, it wasn't the Democratic Party that gave the Taliban $43 million.

I wonder if it would help to alert newspaper columnists to the actual relationship between "the surge" and "the Anbar Awakening", of which there really isn't one. The so-called Anbar Awakening is the result of the fact that they offered to quit attacking if we'd give them money, and we said okay and gave them money, and that reduced the violence. The "surge" did not.

I don't know about you, but some of us are worried about just how desperate Republicans are likely to become.

Ruth alerts us that Bill Moyers spoke to Jane Mayer, and Diane notes that the NYT has finally noticed that they've been manipulated by the administration.

The British government wants to spy on me. Why not? Everyone else is....


23:25 BST

I'd almost think it's summer

Jamison Foser says, "Even while carrying McCain's water, media worry they aren't doing enough for him." Of course, because it's McCain's (and the Republicans') talking point, and if it were coming from a Democrat they would treat it with derision. Fact is, the media have been doing McCain a favor by keeping the spotlight off him, because he can't make a public appearance without embarrassing himself. Even so, they treat his cock-ups like they're no big deal and persist in talking about McCain's foreign policy credentials as if he actually had some. He doesn't. When they were hammering Hillary and Obama, they swore they'd get around to critiquing McCain once the primaries were over. Well, they've been over for a while, now, and we're still waiting. People should be writing in to media outlets and telling them to quit covering up for McCain.

Congratulations to Fred Clark, and good luck to the Slacktivixen (good one, Fred). Meanwhile, more hilarity in the pages of Left Behind.

Is it really necessary to explain to people that the primary was not the election? That Obama still has to campaign? That it has nothing to do with Hillary, but that right now is when the candidates are supposed to be going out and trying to win people's votes? Apparently so. Apparently, in fact, there are some people who think the election is about teaching Clinton-supporters a lesson rather than winning the goddamned election.

If you were thinking it would be hopeless to find a serious interview with Jane Mayer on network television, David Letterman had a surprise for you. (From Crooks and Liars.) Highly recommended - pass it on.


16:51 BST

Stuff happens

This is a really stupid way to get people to support a candidate. You don't tell them they're losers and should get over it that their preferred candidate didn't win the primary. You don't tell them they have to. You don't tell them you're tired of their reluctance. If the Democrats think that's the way you do it, Obama will lose, and he will only have himself and his own campaign to blame. A candidate must ask people for their votes and give them a reason to give it to them. The Obama campaign needs to figure out why people don't want to give him their votes and find a way to fix it. If that doesn't happen, they may want to blame Hillary and her supporters, but it will be all their own fault. (via)

Rorschach has a little personal taser experience from a different angle: "The cops, laughing, offered to let me taser him while he was cuffed and sitting on the sidewalk." And at Mercury Rising, Charles reports on another psychopath in uniform who tased a 67-year-old pastor who was visiting someone in a hospital, apparently because the pastor's efforts to cheer the guard up fell flat.

Greg Palast said on the AAR's Clout last night that virtually all convicted felons believe they've permanently lost their right to vote, even though there are only two states that still permanently disenfranchise ex-convicts. (Some states even allow felons to vote while incarcerated.) The ACLU has a map showing how individual states treat felon voting in law. Unfortunately, even voting rights experts seem to believe the myth that ex-cons can never vote again - because the Republicans have worked hard to make people believe it. And you know what? Most people who go to jail, no matter what their political affiliation was beforehand (and quite a few of them are conservative), come out as Democrats, and fairly liberal ones, at that. Get them registered and you just might get your more and better Democrats.

Wexler says yesterday's hearings were a great start, but: "Enough Delay: Hold Impeachment Hearings Now! Following statements by Chairman John Conyers and the Ranking Republicans, I opened with a forceful call for genuine and immediate Impeachment Hearings for President Bush and Vice President Cheney. The crimes of this Administration must be revealed and Bush and Cheney must be held accountable. Without Impeachment Hearings, we cannot break through the blatant and unprecedented efforts by President Bush to shut down legitimate oversight by this Congress."


12:36 BST

Opinions, amusement, and announcements

Liberal media: "I've been tuning in to the most liberal of the networks since Obama landed in Afghanistan last Saturday and invariably, rather than news reports of his activities, I am inundated with McCain's reactions to Obama's activities followed by pundit reactions to McCain's reactions to Obama's trip abroad."

"It's NOT international trade. Don't be fooled." A lot of that "trade" is between large multinationals and their own affiliates in order to underpay workers and sell elsewhere at high prices.

Annie alerts us to an important live webcast on the Health Blogosphere and Its Influence on Health Policy and Journalism next Tuesday being hosted by Kaiser.

Are conservatives innately evil sociopaths? Well, yeah.

The sad case of Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry.

Is The Dark Knight a movie about how wonderful George Walker Bush is? Um, no. (On the other hand, although I haven't seen the flick yet, I feel I must point out that even Gary Groth described Miller's original comic to me this way: "It's fascist.")

"Hezbullah Vets Train NY Muslim Paramilitaries" - For just a second I thought this was going to be an old story about the Black Panthers where they'd just changed the names, but it wasn't. (Thanks to Bruce F.)

Tweety wants you to vote for the black guy. (via)

A pretty spiral galaxy.


02:52 BST

Friday, 25 July 2008

Data dump

The Brad Blog reports that "Karl Rove has threated a GOP high-tech guru and his wife, if he does not "'take the fall' for election fraud in Ohio," according to a letter sent this morning to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, by Ohio election attorney Cliff Arnebeck."

Buzzflash interviews Thomas Frank: "Maybe in theory you think that the idea of a free market is okay, but nobody's out there making the case for the other side --- that we made a wrong turn back in the 70s and 80s, and that we shouldn't have gone down the road that Ronald Reagan took us down. Nobody is making that case. Even the Democrats don't argue that anymore. So it's very hard for these issues to become something that you talk about. They're off the table. They're not up for discussion in Kansas or in many other places in America."

I have a terrible feeling that Noam Chomsky saw one of those slideshow presentations by Women Against Pornography or someone in which a whole lot of unrepresentative images are shown with commentary full of falshoods and scare words, because he's sounding just like them. Tsk.

Arnold says he'll stiff workers: "Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced last night that he will sign an Executive Order on Monday slashing the wages of over 200,000 state employees to the bare minimum. Not California's minimum wage of $8 per hour. The federal minimum wage of $6.55. Six dollars and fifty-five cents an hour."

Al Gore is fat - or, how Tom Brokaw made The Editors miss Tim Russert. Owww!

Atrios on Stupidity: "So, the recent salmonella food scares have cost the industry much more than tracking regulations would have cost them. This should have been pretty obvious, as the cost to all producers of such a scare is going to be much greater than the cost to one "bad" producer individually..."

The General asks: "Is Obama secretly Amish?"


20:20 BST

Blogger's notebook

I admit that whenever I see people talking about making Joe Biden the VP pick for Obama, I cringe several times before thinking, "Then again, it'd get him out of the Senate." It would certainly be nice to get the Senator for Credit Card Companies out of the Senate. And Biden is pretty good at mouthing off when he finds it necessary - a quality that is much to be prized in a VP nominee. On the other hand, he'd just be baggage on the ticket when everyone knows he was a big supporter of the bankruptcy bill. Meanwhile, Wesley Clark is much better at answering questions, and he's been a real (and triumphant) commander in uniform, unlike that guy who thinks he's a foreign policy expert because he was stuck in a hole for five years in Vietnam. (Also: Digby and dday on how the media is now reverting to type and discovering that Obama is an arrogant little...Democrat.)

John Edwards was in Houston, talking about poverty.

Today's Single Payer post from Corrente involves an editorial in The Houston Chronicle about the fact that Americans don't get the same bang for their healthcare buck as other people do, and a question for the paper about why they haven't covered a bill in Congress to do something about it. And a little reminder that the Dems have a friend at AT&T.

Bleeding hearts - for the poor multi-millionaires who stiffed people on hedge funds. When these people talk about "reasonability" they mean you, not them. For you, it might be more than just a matter of having to sell your yacht.

Thom Hartmann did a terrifying interview in his third hour, Wednesday, with Dagmar Herzog, author of Sex in Crisis: The New Sexual Revolution and the Future of American Politics, about how liberals have in the last few years become unable to speak up for sex in a way they weren't before - thus giving enormous power to the religious right. I'm not sure her analysis of the causes is right (but then, I'm not living over there); however, she's certainly right about how right-wingers have used sex to gain power and liberals must learn to fight back if they are really going to be stopped. Besides, you didn't forget, did you, that sexual repression is sexual abuse? (There are some other interesting things in that hour, too, about what the "Anbar Awakening" really was - that we paid Iraqis to stop attacking us - and the fact that most of the data collection "our government" is doing is being done by private contractors, and that Bush started the program three weeks after Bush took office. Plus, Thom says Mukasey should be impeached.)

VoteVets put out a good little ad that features an Iraq vet criticizing McCain's approach to war.


17:50 BST

A few things

The House Judiciary Committee is having a hearing today on dealing with Dennis Kucinich's Articles of Impeachment of George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney. Kagro X has details. Perhaps you want to make yourself familiar with Committee Caller. After Downing Street plans to live-blog the hearing.

"Every single Democratic Senate challenger supports Net Neutrality" - Silent Patriot conveys some good news from Matt Stoller, who has been compiling statements from Dems: "I'm happy to report that every single Democratic challenger with more than $500k in cash on hand has announced their support for net neutrality. This is a milestone for the fight for internet freedom. I included statements reacting to this news from Senator Byron Dorgan, Speaker Pelosi, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, Google public policy director Alan Davidson, and Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu."

Thoreau on anti-regulation alarmism: "Anyway, I'm not here to argue in favor of regulations, just to observe that our ability to adapt to regulation (up to some level, of course) is similar to our ability to adapt to non-governmental factors in the marketplace. Indeed, this resilience of human behavior is one reason why regulators often fail to shape human behavior as much as they'd like." (Also: On the two foreigners we have running for president!)


14:25 BST

Strange brew

John McCain has said and done so many ridiculous things in the last week that I honestly can't keep track of them all.

Don't you find it interesting that when a genuine Al Qaeda hard man who was in US custody was identified, they let him go? It's funny how people who were close to bin Laden seemed to be the people who were the least interesting to our leaders and their minions. Or maybe it's not all that surprising considering that the people who are closest to them are actually in the Republican leadership and the White House.

Joseph Stiglitz says just say no to free lunches for Fannie and Freddie's management, shareholders and bondholders.

Fox news asks some interesting poll questions.

J Street has just released a poll showing that most American Jews do not support insane Likudnik/Lieberman/Bush policies for Israel. (And Lieberman apparently supports terrorists.)

Are we about to see the death of the free internet? (via)

Cursor: "But Salon reports that 'a movement is stirring in Washington for a sweeping new inquiry into White House malfeasance,' modeled after the Church Committee, in an article that 'provides names and dates that seem to corroborate the earlier Radar story on Main Core.' Plus: 'The exaggeration of terror.'"

Is John McCain trying to lose? Also: Fox: It's Eductaoinal!

Cream, 1967


04:48 BST

Tell me what you see

So all of these news organizations have reporters travelling with Obama, and suddenly the reporters are receiving strange queries from their news editors about an allegedly chaotic "mob scene" at an Obama appearance. Now, you might wonder why these editors are asking about something that none of their reporters who were actually there have reported. Why? Because Matt Drudge said so. You know, if I ran a news organization, I'd let it be known that I take a dim view of journalists using The Drudge Report as their homepage. Alas, most of them really do use Drudge as their homepage. As Atrios says, he's still America's Assignment Editor.

The Talking Dog has an interview with Steven Wax, "author of Kafka Comes to America: Fighting For Justice in the War on Terror, a Federal Defender's Inside Account documenting his work on behalf of Oregon attorney Brandon Mayfield, accused of a connection to the 2004 Madrid bombings, and Adel Hamad, a Sudanese national formerly detained at Guantanamo Bay." Some of his Gitmo clients are a fine example of the Worst of the Worst: "Nazar Gul, was taken into exile in Pakistan by his parents when he was three after he lost an eye to a Soviet bomb. He returned to Afghanistan only after Karzai came to power and got a job working for the Americans. He was arrested on a case of mistaken identity."

Last night Dale Leo Bishop was put to death, even though he didn't kill anyone.

Ron Kuby interviewed Howell Raines the other day, and Raines said what the oil companies are saying about high prices being entirely a result of supply and demand is, well, bollocks. He also talks about how reporters aren't what they used to be, which I think is pretty rich coming from someone who could have decided to hire reporters who are what they used to be if he'd really wanted to - but apparently didn't want to. (via)

The Beatles


01:09 BST

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Your happening world

Peter Daou is returning to his old gig with a newly-redesigned Daou Report site (which refreshes too frequently for my tastes), and Steven D reports there on the murder by taser of a 21-year-old when he didn't rise fast enough from a prone position after having his wrists cuffed behind his back. That's right, he wasn't resisting arrest, he had already lain face-down as ordered to be cuffed, and didn't stand up fast enough for the cop, who then repeatedly tased him because he kept falling down and not being able to get up again. Then the cop made up a story about how the victim had resisted arrest and after being tasered "fell ill and told the officers he suffered from asthma and was high on crack cocaine and PCP." As Digby notes, what tasers are really for is teaching people who's boss. They've given the cops the right to terrorize and kill us in our own streets, and it's never anyone's fault but the victim.

I find it amusing that Ron Paul's counter-convention to the RNC has been forced to move to a larger venue to accommodate a larger than expected crowd.

Watertiger tips us that the unauthorized video of Little Nero announcing that "Wall Street got drunk," he'll be giving up "ranching" when he moves out of the White House, and he's whipped, is available with this article from Auntie Beeb.

Alexander Zaitchik says things are looking better for Al Franken.

Funny how the news media didn't think it at all interesting that nine Republicans broke ranks to vote for Kucinich's impeachment article.

GM is no longer an American company in any real sense - it's Chinese - and America's number one car manufacturer is Toyota. Why? Because America's corporate structure is killing innovation.

Diane notes that the Bushistas' idea of "security" is removing the security we used to have as "Homeland Security" sucks up resources from our regular emergency systems. And Ruth points out that our administration has a lot of unsavory friends who like to do things like torture, incarcerate, and execute people (often for mere political opposition).

News of the World gets socked with compensatory damages and hefty legal costs by the High Court after invading Max Moseley's privacy and claiming his kinky orgy had "Nazi" overtones.


16:07 BST

Only as tall as we stand

400,000 terrorists? "After having begun a series of investigative stories criticizing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in May 2008, CNN reporter Drew Griffin reports being placed with more than a million other names on TSA's swollen terrorism watch list. Although TSA insists Griffin's name is not on the list and pooh-poohs any possibility of retaliation for Griffin's negative reporting, the reporter has been hassled by various airlines on 11 flights since May. The airlines insist that Griffin's name is on the list. Congress has asked TSA to look into the tribulations of this prominent passenger." Really? Congress is just now asking, after years of harassment of innocent people - including one of their own members? It's not as if this story is news - early on, we recall the story of a member of Ralph Nader's presidential campaign (and not someone with a particularly Muslim name) who mysteriously found his ability to fly being curtailed in 2002 because he was "on the list". Everyone named David Nelson (including Rick's brother), has had the same problem. And does "Ted Kennedy" sound like the name of a Muslim terrorist? The old German Jews who helped raise and educate me are all dead, now, but I know exactly what they'd say about governments that make lists of people who it's okay to harass. Thom Hartmann discussed just this process in the first hour of his show, yesterday.

"Slammed: Welcome to the Age of Incarceration [...] We treat 10-year sentences like they're nothing, like that's a soft penalty, when in much of the rest of the world a decade behind bars would be considered extraordinarily severe. This is what separates us from other industrialized countries: It's not just that we send so many people to prison, but that we keep them there for so long and send them back so often. Eight years ago, we surpassed Russia to claim the dubious distinction of having the world's highest rate of incarceration; today we're still No. 1." It's also the most expensive way to run a criminal justice system, just in terms of the sheer dollars wasted on keeping people imprisoned, and never mind the many, many costs in families destroyed, crime increased rather than reduced, and whole neighborhoods disrupted. (Via Cursor.)

Digby warns that falling for Mukasey's gambit would be "a political mistake of epic proportions [...] setting the table for possible decades of being pressured and intimidated into supporting wars and military interventions against the best interests of the country and the world --- not to mention their own political interests. It is not a winner for liberals to help the conservatives pursue their imperial goals. There's no political need for this, so if they do it, one can only assume it's because they actually support the Orwellian concept of endless war." (And wow, dday says that McShame even managed to lose Joe Klein.)

Mukasey's antics inspire more signs that Steve Soto has lost his patience: "For years now, all Leahy and Schumer needed to do was throw the Senate GOP's attacks against Janet Reno's alleged lack of independence back into their faces, and demand to know what's different now. But that would require guts and brains, and since Schumer and Leahy are part of the same vile Beltway party as the GOP, it's a moot point." (Also: Blood for Oil - Once dismissed as a "conspiracy theory", it's now an in-your-face fact.)

Phil Ochs, "The Power and the Glory" (with Jim Glover).


13:51 BST

Open windows

In comments, Mark Kernes suggests* an appropriate date for mass protests against the destruction of our Constitution: "Sept. 17: Constitution Day." Unfortunately, it's a Wednesday, and inconvenient for anyone who is in school - or works at one.

So, the Democrats - yes, Democrats, not Republicans - are raising the whole "free speech zone" thing to a higher art, by planning to put demonstrators in cages at the Denver convention. "By severely restricting protesters' access to the media and to convention delegates, free speech zones destroy the power of dissenting viewpoints to foment debate and bring about change. Just imagine if the hundreds of thousands of participants in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which culminated with Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial, had been forced into free speech zones. There likely would not have been a 1964 Civil Rights Act."

Fred Hiatt earned Atrios' Wanker of the Day Award. Attaturk awards Hiatt a new title: Editorial Jackass.

Eric Boehlert has a good article up this week on the AP's Ron Fournier problem, and extra kudos for giving Julia credit where it's due for noticing the problem months before anyone else picked up on it.

Greg Mitchell was sufficiently disgusted with an article he saw about Netroots Nation in The Austin American-Statesman that he passed the word around, and they must've gotten a lot of complaints, because they pulled the article and apologized for it. And, we learn in an update, the author's wife wrote in to correct what she felt were misapprehensions, and also noted that the article has now been restored on the paper's site.

Alabama's Attorney General thinks he's allowed to change the law to prevent pot smokers from voting. The ACLU is suing on the grounds that the AG is not a legislator.

Krugman mentioned at Netroots Nation that the NYT tried to lean on him to lay off the Bush administration - but he says they stopped doing it after 2005.

At PowerPop, Steve Simels has some Hot Girl on Girl Action! And in other videos, Priest Off! Repellent Spray For Kids.


02:45 BST

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Thoughts, news, commentary

Anna Granfors in comments says we must shame them into doing the right thing: "Here is what I keep hoping that someone else will organize (hey, at least I'm honest)--a last ditch nationwide protest march on DC and other major cities in the US and worldwide, focussed on the demand that this administration be held responsible (no Mumia, please). I'd think the disgust and shame that Bush has inspired is widespread enough that a well-organized late summer event would be fairly easy to get the millions out to. Obama has started to make predictable noises about comity and healing, but as Hartmann is fond of saying, if you make the parade large enough, politicians will vie to get in front. (There is, of course, the possibility that Obama will call marchers an "opinion group" like Bush did, but we won't know unless we try.)" I think she's right. What's a good date?

So some lawyer on a bicycle sees a black Corvette hit a pedestrian who flies up across the car's windshield. And then the Corvette just starts speeding away. So the lawyer on the bike chases him, gets in front of him, makes him pull over and tells him he hit someone. And the hit-and-run driver says he didn't know, and it turns out he is none other than Robert Novak. And all this time I just assumed Novak's car was a hearse.

Here's some YouTube video of Sam Seder and Governor Don Siegelman talking about the bizarre restrictions that were placed on his travel after he was released because he was innocent. He still needs money to cover his legal costs, but he thanks all us DFHs who listen to Air America for helping to get him out. (More here about holding Karl Rove et al. accountable.)

Speaking of AAR, I'm not entirely sure why Thom Hartmann posted this bit of debate between himself and right-wing nut Seton Hall, but it seems to me both are operating from false premises. Thom thinks the only reason the media keeps concentrating on "rock star" Obama and loads of trivia is to keep audiences, and Hall points out that in fact they are losing audience share, though he says it's because they are "too liberal". I don't know why Thom keeps forgetting that Phil Donahue had the highest ratings at his network when he was fired - for being too liberal - and that The New York Times and The Washington Post can't possibly be printing all that right-wing crap because they think it will appeal to what must be two of the most liberal markets in America. They certainly aren't gaining readers by doing so. The media is following Obama around because they think he's going to be the next president, because he's doing something unprecedented, and because they are more interested in following Obama around. But they're also more interested in privatizing Social Security than preserving it, which is why they would rather make it sound as if privatization is more sensible than eliminating the cap, even though everyone else hates privatization. They are also not interested in universal healthcare, which is why they talk so little about it (and dismiss single-payer), even though everyone else is much more interested in universal healthcare than they are in Chandra Levy, who Atrios reminds us The Washington Post is currently doing a 12-part series about. They're definitely losing audience, as Hall says, but it's mainly because they're not liberal enough.


19:58 BST

I am curious: yellow dog

After the disgusting FISA vote and the insulting lies Dems spilled to defend the indefensible, Steve Soto will vote for the Yellow Dogs, but that's all: "Then today, I got the face-slap that an Obama administration will not prosecute most Bush Administration officials for their lawbreaking. As a result, he'll only get my vote and nothing more. [...] But life's too short, and I've been disappointed by my party and its leaders many times over the last eight years, and I don't feel like going along anymore. Money is tight but principle is still in abundance with me. The DSCC, DNC, and DCCC don't need me and frankly never have. And truthfully, Obama doesn't either. There's the Beltway, and then there's the rest of us." Me, I will still call my reps from time to time and ask why they voted for indefensible bills and against good ones, but if they tell me lies about how they were protecting me, I will routinely say, "But since everyone already knows that's a lie, what's the real reason?" In fact, I think we should have a postcard campaign in which we write to our reps and say something similar. "Dear _______ ________, When I called your office and asked why you supported the FISA bill, I was told that we need it to protect us and the new version protects our civil liberties. Since everyone knows that this is a lie, please tell me the real reason you supported it." (Copy it to your nearest local and national papers.) They won't answer, but they should be told they're not fooling anyone.

Macro Man presents A modest proposal to re-fill US coffers and get rid of some debt burdens at the same time - beginning with what you might call The Louisiana Unpurchase. Via Mercury Rising, where I also learned that another attempt at persecuting Al Sharpton has again fizzled, and Blackwater has been diversifying.

Since the Bush administration makes a lot of "mistakes" that turn out to be remarkably convenient for them, didn't you wonder how they "accidentally" sent out a private memo to their entire press list? And isn't it odd that the headline of that memo said that the administration's hand-picked Iraqi Leader had endorsed Obama's withdrawal plan - almost as if it were sent out by pro-Obama, anti-occupation activists? It's puzzling... unless you conclude that the GOP is now making moves to change their position for some reason. Swan suggests that their reason might be that they have all come to doubt the wisdom of staying in Iraq, but it occurs to me that there's another: They need to recast it as a debacle that's in the Democrats' hands so they can start screaming at them for not getting out yet on January 21st.

J. Sidney McSame likes to pretend he's been a critic of Bush's Iraq policies, but The Jed Report has the video that suggests otherwise. And here is the evidence that CBS edited McCain's interview with Katie Couric in which he claimed the Anbar Awakening was the result of The Surge, even though it started before the surge - as McCain used to know.

What George H.W. Bush thinks of Obama's world tour.


17:00 BST

Threats and promise

Bob Herbert read Jane Mayer's The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals and got chills up his spine reading about Cheney's best pal. In "Madness and Shame" he says: "Dick Cheney's main man and the lead architect of the Bush administration's legal strategy for the so-called war on terror. She quotes a colleague as saying of Mr. Addington: 'No one stood to his right.' Colin Powell, a veteran of many bruising battles with Mr. Cheney, was reported to have summed up Mr. Addington as follows: 'He doesn't believe in the Constitution.'"

You'd think someone would have remembered this and tried it already, but the fact that it's no longer routine for general practitioners to look for danger signs before they become expensive emergencies tells you it's been forgotten. But maybe it's wake-up time: "Cutting health costs by paying doctors more? That is the premise of experiments under way by federal and state government agencies and many insurers around the country. The idea is that by paying family physicians, internists and pediatricians to devote more time and attention to their patients, insurers and patients can save thousands of dollars downstream on unnecessary tests, visits to expensive specialists and avoidable trips to the hospital."

"More Unsurprising News: I don't know which is more unsurprising: that the White House overruled a tentative decision by the administrator of the EPA when it came to California's request for a waiver under the Clean Air Act or that the administrator lied about the White House pressure before Congress."

Let's try this again: The Jonathan Alter thing I meant to link was here. The piece I did link (but have since fixed) was a cool little story about a blind rabbi in New Jersey's 5th who is running for Congress against a Republican he calls "a Neanderthal". Dennis Shulman sounds like someone you might want to look into, especially if you happen to be in New Jersey and looking for someone to help out. (Thanks to Julia for the assistance.)

Barack Obama is a scary black man!!!! (Also: Least. Threatening. Threat. Ever.)


13:32 BST

Trawling the wild web

You know, it's interesting: McCain releases an attack ad, and the media reports its content like it's news - and doesn't bother to get any rebuttal from the Obama team. I just can't imagine the same thing happening if Obama released an attack ad. You just know there'd be plenty of rebuttal from Republicans being reported, probably in great (and fallacious) detail.

The electoral-vote map shows Obama with Nevada and Montana, now, and North Dakota in play, with McCain's support weakening in South Dakota. (In fact, McCain has been weakening in quite a few of the southern states, although they haven't moved over to blue.) On the other hand, although Ohio and PA are still blue, they're still not as blue as I'd like - and Rassmussen is showing McSame ahead in Ohio, which is pretty worrying. Now, understand, it's early days and all that, but if the polls show McCain close or leading in these important states, that makes the election a lot easier for Republicans to steal. And Ohio is a pretty big state to lose (and Nevada and ND don't make up for it, either.)

Sarah Wildman in the Guardian on "The global war on sex education: In the US and abroad, the Bush administration has severely restricted women's access to contraception." As Scott Lemieux reminds us, the Global Gag Rule was the first things Bush did when he took occupation of the White House, and McShame is likely to continue this war, too.

I think the trouble with Jesse's analysis is that if I want to know what racists are thinking, it's useful to listen to the actual racists. (via)

Apparently, Jonathan Alter regards it as a sign of affection when J. Sidney McSame calls him a jerk.

RIP Estelle Getty, who once played the woman we can only hope to grow up to be.

Readers have pointed out to me that Sam's interview with Siegelman is on the same page I linked earlier, but I thought it was something else because there's a long musical lead-in.


04:38 BST

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Quick links

Maliki did talk about things other than Obama's plan in that interview with Der Spiegel, though not much attention has been paid to it.

As should surprise no one, the insurance criminals have their own spiffy front group to convince you that they're already giving you the best possible health insurance, and you wouldn't want to change a thing.

Glenn Greenwald on "The honorable centrist Joe Lieberman", who isn't centrist enough to appeal to Jews, who tend not to support right-wing nuts.

Eric Alterman alerts us to an exciting story in The Las Vegas Sun about product placement on the news - well, it's Fox, of course, and they have fake coffee from McDonald's.

Rachel Maddow explains why Evan Bayh would be a terrible VP pick for Obama.

If John McCain could travel in time.


22:04 BST

Footnotes to a quiet civil war

BTD recommends a Democracy Now! debate between Glenn Greenwald and Cass Sunstein in which, he says, Sunstein is an ass. Truly, you'd expect someone like Sunstein to know what he's talking about on an issue like FISA, only he doesn't - or at least, like many apologists for the FISA vote, he's just not a very good liar. (Also: I dunno, is Vanity Fair doing a parody of the New Yorker cover much better? I mean, except that, in this case, what's in the cartoon is actually true - especially what's in the fireplace.)

Barney Frank is pretty good on a lot of things, but he's not having much success convincing corporate America that they have a stake in rescuing America from the mess they've been making. Mick Arran says: "Barney's not naive but I have to wonder if he understands that his own party is half the problem? The conservative DLC leadership is putting ZERO pressure on business to conciliate labor, treat its workers better, or come up with a health care plan that doesn't put all the expense on the employee. So why should they respond? They're paying Blue Dogs to make sure they don't have to and the Dem presidential candidate just made a pilgrimage to Wall Street (Harold Ford set it up; his Wall Street contacts are the reason he was given charge of the DLC) to reassure them that if he wins in November, the investor class has nothing to worry about, nothing to be afraid of. He's on their side."

Bill Scher has posted a bunch of interviews he did with people at Netroots Nation over at Liberal Oasis, such as with Jim Hightower and Natasha Chart.

Don Siegelman has his own web page, and he wants you to send your rep a letter. (Does anyone know if Sammy's interview with Siegelman has been posted anywhere yet? His article about Siegelman's case is here.)


18:44 BST

If only they had heard the warning in time

It's funny, Eugene Robinson makes a good point but then fails to wonder whether Bush's language is more subtle than he thinks:

If Bush were known for exquisite subtlety in his use of the language, I'd note that a horizon is, by definition, a line that can never be reached. But pigs will streak across the sky at Mach 2 before this president displays a diabolical mastery of semantics. His new "time horizon" formulation is just smoke, intended to obfuscate and stall. In six months, Iraq becomes somebody else's problem.
Yes, when we're all laughing or cringing about Bush's poor use of language, his "misstatements" about his intentions and his beliefs about how his plans are working, I often get a chill up my spine at the realization that, if you don't give him the benefit of the doubt about his morality, he has often literally told the truth - the war-making project is working, for example, if his goal is to impoverish our country and make his friends much, much wealthier. He has created an "ownership society", if his intention was to make it one in which there are only a handful of owners, and they control the society. He has increased "freedom" in the world, if he means freedom for himself and his friends to run roughshod over our mere ordinary lives. And, my all-time favorite:
They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
And that sounds like a cue for a song.


12:06 BST

I saw it on the internet

"U.S. Found Not Trustworthy: British officials are convinced of the same thing that the U.S. public has learned the hard way, that the occupants of the White House are not to be trusted. Their word is not good, and the British government can no longer act on it. The American government is not directed toward the good of its allies, any more than it is the good of the citizens it was elected to serve." That is, they won't accept our government's assurances that it's not torturing people.

At World O' Crap, an encounter with a whacky, pants-wetting article by a right-wing nut inspires "If You Have Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself, Then Make Fear-ade: However, the prospect of Armageddon doesn't seem to bother Kyle-Anne nearly as much as Obama's insinuations that fear is a bad thing, because as Nietzsche said, "Whatever scares the crap out of you without actually posing a threat only makes you a stronger Republican." And this is one woman who's not about to give up her night-terrors and allow herself to be ground down into a bloody pulp by the Politics of Optimism."

Why The New York Times rejected J. Sidney McCain's op-ed submission.

Dday offers a good breakdown of the meandering story of Maliki's support for Obama's withdrawal plan and how the White House has tried to re-spin it. (Also: Victory for Janet Jackson's nipple. And Digby learned who the most loathed cable gasbags are among their peers.)

This linky post from Mick Arran includes the news that, "The NY Times, after 25 years of turning a blind eye, finally explains how the banks got blood from a stone."

Julia expands on her review of the media's love for John McShame.

This whole "purity ball" thing is even creepier when you remember what part of the population is most likely to sexually assault their own daughters.

Scott Ritter on war

The Pew News IQ Quiz


01:59 BST

Monday, 21 July 2008

Just in case you forgot...

A couple of days ago, there was actually a bit of a change in conditions over the question of stolen elections in not just 2004, but even 2002. Not that we didn't know already that they were stolen, but more than a little bit of circumstantial evidence is building up on the pile. Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane report:

:A leading cyber-security expert and former adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says he has fresh evidence regarding election fraud on Diebold electronic voting machines during the 2002 Georgia gubernatorial and senatorial elections.


At a little noticed press conference in Columbus, Ohio Thursday, he discussed his investigation of a computer patch that was applied to Diebold Election Systems voting machines in Georgia right before that state's November 2002 election.

Spoonamore received the Diebold patch from a whistleblower close to the office of Cathy Cox, Georgia's then-Secretary of State. In discussions with RAW STORY, the whistleblower -- who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation -- said that he became suspicious of Diebold's actions in Georgia for two reasons. The first red flag went up when the computer patch was installed in person by Diebold CEO Bob Urosevich, who flew in from Texas and applied it in just two counties, DeKalb and Fulton, both Democratic strongholds. The source states that Cox was not privy to these changes until after the election and that she became particularly concerned over the patch being installed in just those two counties.

The whistleblower said another flag went up when it became apparent that the patch installed by Urosevich had failed to fix a problem with the computer clock, which employees from Diebold and the Georgia Secretary of State's office had been told the patch was designed specifically to address.

You may remember that a mysterious patch applied mid-election in Volusia County, Florida in 2000 made over 16,000 votes for Al Gore disappear.
Some critics of electronic voting raised questions about the 2002 Georgia race even at the time. Incumbent Democratic Sen. Max Cleland, who was five percentage points ahead of Republican challenger Saxby Chambliss in polls taken a week before the vote, lost 53% to 46%. Incumbent Democratic Governor Roy Barnes, who led challenger Sonny Perdue in the polls by eleven points, lost 51% to 46%. However, because the Diebold machines used throughout the state provided no paper trail, it was impossible to ask for a recount in either case.


At the Ohio press conference yesterday, the former McCain adviser said Michael Connell, of the Republican Internet development firm New Media Communications, had designed a system that made possible the real-time "tuning" of election tabulators once Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell had outsourced the hosting of vote counting on the same server which hosted GOP campaign IT systems. He said he didn't believe Connell was behind the alleged fraud, but that he should be considered a key witness.

Spoonamore also confirmed he's working with Connell on overseas election

Additionally, Steve Heller reports that Cliff Arnebeck named Karl Rove as being likely involved in the election-fixing scheme (and also supplies more details).

Mysteries such as those described above still surround the similarly surprising results of an even earlier Nebraska race:

The respected Washington, DC publication The Hill has confirmed that former conservative radio talk-show host and now Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel was the head of, and continues to own part interest in, the company that owns the company that installed, programmed, and largely ran the voting machines that were used by most of the citizens of Nebraska.

Back when Hagel first ran there for the U.S. Senate in 1996, his company's computer-controlled voting machines showed he'd won stunning upsets in both the primaries and the general election. The Washington Post (1/13/1997) said Hagel's "Senate victory against an incumbent Democratic governor was the major Republican upset in the November election." According to Bev Harris of , Hagel won virtually every demographic group, including many largely Black communities that had never before voted Republican. Hagel was the first Republican in 24 years to win a Senate seat in Nebraska.

Six years later Hagel ran again, this time against Democrat Charlie Matulka in 2002, and won in a landslide. As his website says, Hagel "was re-elected to his second term in the United States Senate on November 5, 2002 with 83% of the vote. That represents the biggest political victory in the history of Nebraska."

What Hagel's website fails to disclose is that about 80 percent of those votes were counted by computer-controlled voting machines put in place by the company affiliated with Hagel. Built by that company. Programmed by that company.

Or maybe it's not such a mystery after all, anymore than the incredible results of the 2004 election, in which many of towns got more Bush votes than they had voters, and even Democrats voted 100% for Bush - and the down-ticket races were pretty strange, too. (C'mon, you didn't really believe that Minnesotans gave Paul Wellstone's seat to Norm Coleman instead of Walter Mondale, did you?)

(Thanks to Dwight Meredith for the Raw Story link.)


19:54 BST

Throbbing meat

Another aspect of the Fourth Amendment that's been slipping away from us is the idea that the police can't just go breaking down your door without probable cause and then justify it later by saying, well, we did find out that you had a couple of ounces of dope in your place. Because how do we know that the cops don't always carry a couple of ounces of dope to plant just in case they can't find something else to get you on? Even in the most civilized countries, the cops are known to be available to harass people who annoy those in power. Thus we have the requirement that the authorities must have warrants "particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." You can't just drop in and look around for something. As Adam Liptak notes, America has been unique in placing importance on the exclusionary rule, but with more and more right-wing judges on the bench, there have been more convictions based on evidence that is clearly the fruit of the poisonous tree - and we now have a Supreme Court that just might think that's a good idea.

Rorschach says: "Doctors are now required to lie to their patients in South Dakota (as if having only one clinic in the state weren't insult enough)" about abortion. And he says the Indy advises that in the Guantanamo cases, it may be Muslim foreigners in the dock, but it's America that's on trial.

A new Harris poll shows Obama leading McSame by nine points among registered voters, but: "Regina Corso, Director of The Harris Poll, said, 'Senator Obama's lead seems solid, but there are some troubling spots to watch for in his campaign. First, Matures are solidly behind John McCain, and this is a group that goes out and votes in the strongest numbers among all age groups. Further, the divide among married women is also extremely close. With almost one-quarter of this group (22%) undecided, the candidate that can win the lion's share of those undecided Americans can move these overall numbers.'" This should not be the case, given McCain's affection for Social Security privatization - but Obama, for some odd reason, has not chosen to press this issue. Gosh, I sure hope this guy isn't going to be so worried about offending far-right Tories that he forgets to campaign on Democrats' strengths.

Jesse has figured out the cause of the mysteries of Obama's birth certificate. I remember the first time I went to whoever-keeps-those-records in Maryland to get a copy of my birth certificate, and they gave me an actual copy of their copy of the original document. I also remember the second time I did that and being shocked to receive some ugly thing that resulted from someone's decision to put it all on microfiche. And they may have changed it again since then, and today for all I know they just give you a printout of your data. Because at some time in the '70s it was all the rage to get rid of those original documents and compress everything. So it wouldn't surprise me at all to learn that Obama acquired something from the official sources that looks nothing like the document that was originally issued at the time of his birth, which makes the whole right-wing fetishizing of the kerning entirely moot.

A short movie of Terry Bisson's "They're Made Out of Meat." (Honestly, the original is short enough that I think they could have left those last few sentences in.)


15:34 BST

Assorted links

Yeah, this makes me feel a lot more friendly about having my government pay for trained mercenaries who are allowed to run around killing people for the hell of it.

When life is cheap: "How the news of this war has been shaped has long been evident, if only by the absence of any news at all for extended periods of time. About the only area to get any consistent coverage has been the itineraries of the VIPs visiting the Baghdad Green Zone for photo-ops. It's clear that the Pentagon wasn't going to make the same "mistake" it made during the Viet Nam War by letting the US public become too aware of the daily carnage wrought because we went to war with a country that was no threat to us." But life is cheap in America, too, where it's not worth keeping your food from being poisoned if it interferes with "small" government.

You might think it would be fun to run your life by Insurance company rules (although that's how the Republicans run our government already).

Frank Rich had some fun with J. Sidney McSame's idea of economic advisors, but thought Sidney was pretty lucky that the press has mostly ignored them.

Sean Teavis has an update to his online fundraising cartoon after an unprecedented number of donors break the record to help in his local Senate race.

I get the feeling the Republicans had to impeach Clinton because they couldn't convince anyone that he fit their favored depiction of any Democratic presidential candidate (or president) as a fairy. (As if you wouldn't rather have a good, out-of-the-closet fairy running things than this bag of corrupt drunks, closet queens, and raving paranoid loonies.)

The new Tor site has finally gone live, so go beta test it.

And, of course, don't miss Act III of Dr. Horrible.

12:19 BST

Sunday, 20 July 2008

People are talking

Bob Herbert had some thoughts about Al Gore's challenge to convert to renewables:

The correct response to Mr. Gore's proposal would be a rush to figure out ways to make it happen. Don't hold your breath.

When exactly was it that the U.S. became a can't-do society? It wasn't at the very beginning when 13 ragamuffin colonies went to war against the world's mightiest empire. It wasn't during World War II when Japan and Nazi Germany had to be fought simultaneously. It wasn't in the postwar period that gave us the Marshall Plan and a robust G.I. Bill and the interstate highway system and the space program and the civil rights movement and the women's movement and the greatest society the world had ever known.

When was it?

Now we can't even lift New Orleans off its knees.

As you recall, we have noted that the country is divided - between the Capitol Hill Gang (including the media), on the one hand, and all of the rest of us, on the other. It turns out that this is true not just of the country, but the whole world, and is as true on the issue of Israel as on everything else. Glenn Greenwald reports: "The worldwide consensus is crystal clear -- citizens want their Governments to be neutral and even-handed in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, not tilted towards either side. And that consensus is shared not just by a majority of American citizens, but by the overwhelming majority." But you can't say that on Capitol Hill, especially on TV.

I don't know what's weirder, the fact that Dan Rather made such an embarrassing mind-o, or the fact that everyone else sits there impassive rather than jumping in. Yeah, it would have been a momentary embarrassment, but as the video goes on it kind of gets worse because he's talking about saying things that will turn up to embarrass you in tomorrow's headlines.

16:49 BST

Life in the intermittently fast lane

You can get the live streams for Netroot Nation events here.

So McStain never goes anywhere without Lieberman for Lieberman, and Obama is travelling with Chuck "I won my seat by owning the voting machines" Hagel. Interestingly, Obama spends very little time lately with Democrats who might actually make good VP choices - almost as if he doesn't think there are any. One can hope this is just theater, but it's not encouraging that so far pretty much everyone he's rumored to be considering for the job is either a Republican or someone who might as well be one. Evan Bayh, for example, a man who rose to fame on the coattails of a father who was a good, old-fashioned liberal with real credibility for progressive Democrats, has been sullying the family name ever since he followed those footsteps to Washington. (You realize, don't you, that the only person who has been talked about who did not vote for the 2005 bankruptcy bill is Hillary Clinton?) Wouldn't it be nice if Obama looked like he was a little bit interested in someone who didn't vote for some of the worst Republican excesses? Instead of an actual Republican who voted for every single one of them? So what is Obama doing that makes Hagel think he might get the job?

Digby: "Jamison Foser has a good column this week about the Village media's obsessive desire to help the Republicans depict Barack Obama as some sort of exotic freak that "regular people" (according to Chris Matthews) can't relate to. He points out that they insist on this despite ample evidence in the polling that says "regular people" relate to him just fine."

Kevin Drum: "....The big story on Saturday was Spiegel's interview with Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki in which he endorsed Barack Obama's 16-month timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops. The Bush administration was so unnerved by this that they mistakenly sent an email to the entire White House press corps headlined "Iraqi PM backs Obama troop exit plan." Oops. Then they followed this up by leaning on Maliki to retract, an effort made clumsily transparent by releasing the Iraqi statement via the U.S. military's Central Command press office." (Also: Who supports a ban on gay marriages in California? And now everyone supports gays in the military.)

The NYT printed an op-ed by Tyler Cowan advocating means-testing for Medicare because you silly socialists just don't pay attention to cost-containment. Cowen, of course, is not going to tell you that good social programs would actually create cost-containment measures that the commercial market has not while still providing better healthcare for everyone. And, as Economist's View points out, giving everyone a stake in these programs is part of what makes them work.

Susie Bright has a podcast compiling her interviews with women in the porn business. And I also liked this poster.

13:28 BST

Long day, short posts

Elle Macpherson Intimates La Diamante half cup braBra of the Week

Fiscal restraint for some: "Wow. Congressional Republicans, after throwing fiscal restraint aside to give a $$$$TRILLION$$$ away to the rich from our taxes, borrowing another $$$$TRILLION$$$$ for their oil war, and tossing about $$$300BIL$$$ more to rescue the banks where they keep their money have suddenly discovered the virtues of fiscal restraint once more. They want to make sure the homeowners who got scammed during the mortgage feeding frenzy don't get to keep their homes. It's too expensive."

Dday interviewed Bob Barr about impeachment. There's a lesson he doesn't appear to have learned....

Looking at this liveblog of Pelosi's performance at Netroots Nation, I just want to shake my head at this whole idea that , no matter how they have control of the House, they can't do anything without the White House. This is all absolutely false, and Democratic Congresses have stomped Republican presidents before - but these Democrats are insisting that they are helpless. Part II here, and enter Al Gore. More here. (Thanks to D.)

Matt Bors on the virtues of moving to the "center" (via).

01:51 BST

Saturday, 19 July 2008

A few things

There's a bit of geekery going on here at the moment, so here are a few links to tide you over (with some help from Ruth):

William Greider talked to Bill Moyers: "Usury, to be clear about it, is rich people taking advantage of poor people by lending them money on terms that are sure to make them fail. All three of the great religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, had a moral prohibition against usury because they recognized that society can't function like that. People of great wealth and their institutions like banks naturally have the power to overwhelm people of lesser means. And you can't allow that in a decent society. It won't survive."

Oh, the Dems want to know what we think should be in the platform. That should be fun. Especially since they made sure to ask Rush Limbaugh.

Seriously, what kind of creeps are they that they have to pretend war does not have traumatic effects on our troops?

I confess to being a little startled that Netroots Nation hosted Harold Ford. Spite Girl Kit Seelye was there and of course the important issue she wanted to cover was how much bloggers curse.

14:18 BST

On the landscape

Massachusetts is shaking off the lint that was Mitt Romney by getting rid of an old law no one had ever removed from the books (because it was obsolete), which Mitt had invoked to ban gay marriages. That law barred out of state couples from marrying in Massachusetts if their own state did not recognize their marriage, and was intended to prevent interracial couples coming to Massachusetts for marriages that were illegal in their home states.

It appears that David Brooks has admitted that Republican policies have failed - but only so he can say that we need a Republican to fix the mess. (Oh, and a lot of the Netroots Nation stuff is streaming at, and among the events will be Sam Seder interviewing Don Siegelman. They also have their own area on Second Life.)

Media Matters: "ABC News and The Washington Post issued staggered releases of the results of their latest poll, withholding from their first release results favorable to Sen. Barack Obama, including the finding that 50 percent of registered voters would vote for Obama for president versus 42 percent for Sen. John McCain. The next day, the Post ran an article headlined 'Poll Finds Voters Split on Candidates' Iraq-Pullout Positions,' which did not mention Obama's 8-point lead over McCain. Later that day, ABC News and the Post issued a second release with additional poll results that stated: 'Obama continues to hold most of the advantages in the presidential race.'"

If Congress is a joke, can launching local prosecutions work to change the calculus?

Vets for Freedom, a right-wing group that claims to have 25,000 members, only has five donors, and yet has hundreds of thousands of dollars to devote to anti-Obama campaigning. Dave Johnson wonders why the media takes them at their word about their membership numbers. (And, of course, I agree with this, but I don't think Obama will do anything to turn this around. He'll still get a majority of the vote, but whether it will be enough to overcome Republican vote-stealing is now in question. Oh, and happy blogiversary, Dave.)

Man electrocutes pickle to demonstrate power of Christianity.

01:31 BST

Friday, 18 July 2008

Facing a dying nation

The entire Massachusetts delegation voted against the Patriot Act, but now the state is about to grant itself the same powers - not to combat terrorism, but to "further protect children".

The Talking Dog: "Certainly, don't tell it to me, sayeth U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson, who denied the motion of GTMO detainee and alleged "OBL driver" Salim Hamdan for a stay of his show-trial military commission hearing. Hamdan, you recall, had won a Supreme Court case challenging the earlier version of commissions, only to have Congress pass a law calling for comparably vague and arbitrary commissions... the theme remains the same, really... any procedural unfairness is o.k. as long as it leads to a finding of guilt, be it hearsay, evidence obtained by torture, or "secret" evidence not provided to the prisoner."

Krugman is saying our economic prospects can be represented on an L-shaped graph. I suppose he may be right, but I have the sense that he's envisioning a shorter downward spike than I am before it levels out.

NTodd takes issue with a criticism of Code Pink: "I look around and see the war is in its sixth year. How's all that status quo stuff working out, liberals? How's all that writing snarky articles about shrieking women in pink hats instead of supporting the people on the streets accomplishing your aims? Tried anything else recently?" NTodd seems to have tried everything, so he can talk.

They're liveblogging Netroots Nation at MyDD, and Jason Rosenbaum on What it's like to be at Netroots Nation at The Seminal.

Who watches The Watchmen trailer...? (Thanks to Anna for tipping me off that Oliver had this. And to Oliver, for also being on Convenient Negro watch.)

17:57 BST

Upon a painted ocean

It's official - when they talk about "the terrorists", they mean you: "Undercover Maryland State Police officers repeatedly spied on peace activists and anti-death penalty groups in recent years and entered the names of some in a law-enforcement database of people thought to be terrorists or drug traffickers, newly released documents show."

Just in time to dash your hopes that something could be done to improve the House leadership, the nightmare rumor is climbing out of the box that Rahm Emmanuel is on the path to become Speaker of the House. Also this week, the White House came out with a new executive privilege claim, even Jack Cafferty can't understand the criticism of McCain's position on Viagra vs. birth control prescription coverage, Al Gore says the future of civilization is at stake, Ashcroft doesn't think the drowning torture is torture, and Stephen Colbert has The Word on Bush and McCain's economic prescription: Placebo. (And Buddy Guy has a new album coming out - which you can hear some of at his site - and Howie Klein says check it out. Mr. Sideshow, take note.)

A new front in the investigation of the political prosecution of Don Siegelman has opened up, as the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility takes a look at prosecutorial misconduct by U.S. Attorney Alice Martin.

McCain's campaign criticized Obama for not scheduling any hearings on Afghanistan as chair of the European Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but it turns out that McCain hasn't even attended any hearings related to Afghanistan, despite being the top Republican on the Senate Armed Service Committee. So he's not exactly up to the minute on the subject.

Roy Edroso observes the interesting phenomenon of evil left-wing censorship of the beleaguered right: "So of course any opposition loud enough to reach their ears is Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolini all rolled into one."

This guy asked me for $8.34, and I gave him money 'cause I liked the way he asked. John Cole made me do it.

Corrente has been running discussions on the need for Progressive Blogosphere 2.0, since PB1.0 seems to have been sidetracked from the clear pursuit of progressive issues into what appear to be Village politics. FrenchDoc says, "Social Justice Matters: The goal of electoral politics is to gain access to the structures of social power. Ideally, the next step would be to use the political institutions to promote social redistribution (of rights, opportunities and resources), but somehow, that does not happen. Social justice gets brushed aside again, whatever rationalization du jour is used."

The NYT says that rumor about Rachel Maddow taking over Tweety's job just might be true. (Thanks to JHB.)

Joe Vecchio alerts me that you can watch that appearance of Doctor Who on Top Gear here. And thanks to Anna for tipping me off to the release of this CD compilation of P.F. Sloan's Dunhill material, nearly all of which is from his first two albums, Songs of Our Times and Twelve More Times, with a few other songs thrown in.

13:57 BST

Long time comin' and a long time gone

A Tiny Revolution has video of an interview of Tom Englehardt about American empire, media complicity in down-playing the big stories, and the oil deal nobody wants to talk about.

A recommendation from Matthew Yglesias: "J Street has a very comprehensive look at American Jewish political opinions. You'll see that Jews massively disapprove of George W. Bush in general, and his foreign policy in particular, and his approach to the Middle East in particular . Jews are overwhelmingly backing Barack Obama and Democratic congressional candidates. Jews overwhelmingly favor more aggressive US diplomatic involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflict, clearly believe that only a peace agreement can provide real security for Israel over the long run, and recognize the need for the United States to exert meaningful pressure on both sides to get a deal."

Black Agenda Report has a scathing critique of a left that is increasingly exhilarated to be helping to redefine liberalism as conservatism while praising Obama's right-wing framing as some kind of refreshing challenge to orthodoxy: "Since when has it been unorthodox or unsafe politically to malign black poor people in public? ... Public sacrifice of black poor people has been pro forma Democratic presidential strategy since Clinton ran on the pledge to 'end welfare as we know it' and made a burnt offering of Rickey Ray Rector, and victim-blaming based on just-so stories about supposed 'behavioral pathology' has been the only frame for public discussion of poverty for at least as long. To vanden Heuvel, Obama's contretemps with Jesse Jackson ... around this issue reflects a 'generational division' among black people, with Obama representing a younger generation that values 'personal responsibility.'" (Thanks to Bruce F.)

Here's a rumor I really liked - "Turmoil at NBC as suits want to replace Chris Matthews with Air American: "Has anyone else heard about this? I saw it over at RimJob's freeretarded.cum this morning, but there was no link: 'The remaining (few) conservatives at NBC are angry about The Suits plan to replace a show host, probably Chris Matthews, with faradical far-left openly lesbian Air America host(ess) Rachel Maddow. Maddow makes no secret of her beliefs, or her ability to use her time on the air to promote them'." (And I love this magazine cover.)

If you can watch the videos on the BBC's Doctor Who pages, you could the video of the Doctor's appearance on Top Gear when they road-tested the TARDIS.

02:33 BST

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Into the mix

Buck Naked Politics has a good round-up of discussion of Torture's Child. I don't really have the heart to write about this. I can imagine how that kid must have felt at the realization that he was in the hands of people who had no notion that he was a human being, and no interest in justice, and I wish I couldn't. (And an apt cartoon by Andrew Wahl.)

Brad at Sadly, No! is in high dudgeon when Stuart Taylor, Jr. at Newsweek suggests it would be great to pardon all the war criminals so they will tell us the truth about what they got away with. (via)

Bush Dog Barrow beats Thomas after Obama endorses the bad-guy in the race: "It was a bad night. Thomas lost 3-1, giving Blue Dog Barrow - who has GOP Favorite Dem status - an overwhelming victory that DLC leaders like Rahm Emanuel and Al From will use to increase their power within the party. It's one more small step toward Republican dominance of the Democratic party and minority rule over the majority, and it stinks." Barrow patted himself on the back for rising above partisanship to vote with Bush more than any other Democrat. (Also: Bush v Bernanke.)

Athenae is sick of the whining about the poor old dead tree press, and directs our attention to an article in The Seattle Weekly that begs to differ with the conventional wisdom: "The supposed decline of print media is not in fact an industry-wide phenomenon. Community newspapers have generally been profitable ventures for some time, and over the past decade have attracted the attention of media giants looking for publications that can positively contribute to the parent corporation's bottom line." Gosh, I wonder what they could be delivering that The New York Times can't?

I gather from this that Neil is selling off his black T-shirts for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. I can't imagine doing this, myself - although I almost daily notice the drawbacks of having most of my clothes being black (I can never find the particular shirt I'm looking for since it blends in with all the others), I still find that when I see it on a hanger in the shop, it's the black one I like, and anyway it'll go with anything. Oh, yeah, he does some cat-blogging in this post, too.

Improved New Yorker cover

17:24 BST

When good countries go bad

Building a bigger police state: "If you still think that the US is not slipping slowly into totalitarianism, this is the must read of the day. The police state is knocking at our door. China is leading the way with the help of US corporations with their own version of homeland security called Golden Shield. [...] You don't need a crystal ball to see that China's present is our future."

Eric Boehlert on how the media has lost the ability to do the easy things about news coverage - use common sense: "Last week, after being hyped by Matt Drudge and Fox News, the Beltway press unanimously decided that Rev. Jesse Jackson's whispered comments, picked up on a live television set mic, in which he expressed anger with Sen. Barack Obama and used some crude language to convey his sentiments (i.e. he wanted to cut off Obama's "nuts"), represented a hugely important event. It was the most-covered campaign story of the week. By contrast, McCain said at a campaign appearance in Denver on July 7 that the Social Security system as structured in America, in which younger people pay taxes to support the benefits of retirees, is an "absolute disgrace" -- but his proclamation was mostly passed over as being irrelevant. The disconnect between the coverage was astounding."

Josh Marshall on Gramm, the Golden Era: "I'd almost forgotten that top McCain economics advisor Phil Gramm's only real experience in the non-influence-peddling part of the private sector was as an investor in a 70s soft-core porn movie. Not that there's anything wrong that ..."

One of the nice things about a country having good social safety nets is that there are fewer people becoming desperate fast, and more people whose jobs are more secure, so when economic times get hard, things don't fall apart as fast, and money keeps circulating on the ground enough to keep the blood flowing. If this were an ordinary recession, I wouldn't really be as worried about things in Britain. Problem is, I think our little faux president (especially since Tony and Gordon decided to be friends with him and help) has managed to screw things up worldwide well beyond levels even Nye Bevan could fix.

Gosh, I don't know what's happened to the Republican Party - they used to be perfectly happy to run the most ludicrous right-wing nut they could find. It's not like the people who vote for them will be too smart to see through them.

This furniture may not be worksafe.

12:40 BST

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Notes from the tubes

Glenn Greenwald notices that Thomas Friedman is having trouble understanding why America is so unpopular lately. But he reckons those foreigners are just, you know, childish.

I really do believe that some people's reasons for wanting to invade Iraq were just about making themselves as rich as possible, but for the ones who had what they imagined to be more important business for the country, boy did they screw the pooch. (Also: John McCain helps us write our anti-McSame ads.)

Dennis Kucinich introduced his article of impeachment yesterday. Apparently, John Conyers is considering allowing Kucinich to make his case, although formal hearings are still not on offer. Yet.

The boys have only just caught up, but Julia noticed the Ron Fournier problem months ago - back when it was okay, because it was only really directed at Edwards and Clinton.

"We're the Saudi Arabia of oil." Damn, I would've sworn that Saudi Arabia was the Saudi Arabia of oil.

Act I of Dr. Horrible is only up 'til Saturday, so see it now. Act II is scheduled to go up tomorrow. (Newsarama story.)

19:17 BST

Links for tea

Cheney's pals have been robocalling voters in districts with vulnerable Democrats and trying to tell them that the Dems are responsible for the hike in gas prices. Jane Hamsher tells us how Blue America is fighting back.

Why haven't people gone out into the street by the thousands at the announcement that our government is illegally torturing people, kidnapping people, and spying on Americans? Why didn't we all spontaneously go out into the streets in protest last week when Congress gave away the Fourth Amendment? Maybe it's because we've been taught Learned Helplessness.

FAIR unspins a deceptive WaPo poll in which they represented McCain as having a plan to get out of Iraq, and compared that to Obama's actual plan to get out of Iraq. Strangely, the American public was split between two different plans to get out of Iraq, despite the fact that McCain only has a plan to stay in Iraq.

MadKane, who refers us to responses by other humorists (such as this one from Ruben Bolling), on a humorist's quandary regarding The New Yorker cover and the trouble with trying to parody people you can't parody. Southern Beale likes David Horsey's view.

I wouldn't mention that I was checking out another comment system someone suggested, except that I noticed who the sample commenters were.

17:02 BST

Truth, justice, and the American way

Adam Liptak in the NYT says a court has ruled that Bush has the power: "...Bush has the legal power to order the indefinite military detentions of civilians captured in the United States, the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., ruled on Tuesday in a fractured 5-to-4 decision." Add that to the Red Cross Report and the complicity of the Democrats in helping Bush get away with it all, and Chris Floyd suggests only one conclusion in answer to the big question: "Then ask yourself if anyone with a scintilla of intellectual honesty could still believe that the United States of America bears the slightest resemblance to a constitutional republic -- or that any future president will actually prosecute a single member of the bipartisan leadership that approved, embraced and championed this filth."

Suburban Guerrilla reports that a whole lot of filthy-rich tax cheats have had their covers blown, and they and a bank in Liechtenstein are being investigated by the Senate.

29 years ago, the President of the Unites States gave a really good speech mapping out how a can-do America could achieve energy independence and prevent a wrong course that would lead us to exactly where we are today. He instituted a program to do just that. And then the media trashed him for it and let Reagan get elected, instead. Other, poorer countries actually followed much of Carter's advice and are providing a lot more of their own energy than we are. But, hey, we're the greatest country in the world, we don't have to actually do anything, other than make war. (Also: Tristero has more on the Republican war on women and contraception, stepping into high gear lately.)

The Raw Story reports that Fox business analyst Jonathan Hoenig says serving the common good is 'un-American'.

Thom Hartmann spent much of his first hour Monday explaining how Phil Gramm and John McCain destroyed our economy.

12:46 BST

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Stuff I saw

The trouble with this approach is that if you vote for McCain, they just assume you wanted McCain - and if McCain wins, they say it's because "the country is conservative," which means the Dems have to become even more conservative. And if you don't vote at all, they just figure they can ignore you because you're apolitical and you won't vote anyway, and they should just concentrate on the people who do vote - who they continue to think are conservatives. So if you absolutely refuse to vote for the Democrat, you must vote for someone who is as far to the left as you can find - which, in this race, means McKinney. Remember: It's the conservatives who most want to discourage you from voting at all.

Jason Rosenbaum has a bit of history about what happened to the Clinton healthcare plan, before making his case for HCAN.

Remember those people who wanted to name a sewer after George Walker Bush? Well, there are people who object to having the sewer insulted that way.

Froomkin has a few amusing lines in the "Karl Rove Watch" section of this page. Rove is asserting executive privilege for his machinations in the Don Siegelman case, thus implicating the White House in his criminal conduct. "It's not between me and Congress. I've not asserted any personal privilege. This is between the White House and Congress."

Note to Atrios: You left out, "Bush wets his pants and runs away, Republicans thank their lucky stars that he is president."

Tom Tomorrow on Obama Phenomena, and on other outrageous New Yorker covers.

23:21 BST

So little time, so many ways to waste it

Josh Marshall: "Earlier today we noted the possible role of AP Washington Bureau Chief Ron Fournier is turning the AP's campaign coverage into complete crap. Now from the just released Tillman Report, it seems Fournier was also one of the reporters exchanging emails the day of Tillman's death with Karl Rove of all people -- and according to the report at least, offering advice on how to handle the story. "Keep up the fight," Fournier tells Rove." Steve Benen is also talking about the less "professional" style of the current AP, but we've been noticing for years that the Associated Press has a creepy amount of heavily GOP-spun content.

Scott Horton has Six Questions for Jane Mayer about her book on the Red Cross Report, and she has some interesting answers: "The reaction of top Bush Administration officials to the ICRC report, from what I can gather, has been defensive and dismissive. They reject the ICRC's legal analysis as incorrect. Yet my reporting shows that inside the White House there has been growing fear of criminal prosecution, particularly after the Supreme Court ruled in the Hamdan case that the Geneva Conventions applied to the treatment of the detainees. This nervousness resulted in the successful effort to add retroactive immunity to the Military Commission Act. Cheney personally spearheaded this effort. Fear of the consequences of exposure also weighed heavily in discussions about whether to shut the CIA program down. In White House meetings, Cheney warned that if they transferred the CIA's prisoners to Guantanamo, "people will want to know where they have been-and what we've been doing with them." Alberto Gonzales, a source said, "scared" everyone about the possibility of war crimes prosecutions. It was on their minds."

At The Moderate Voice, Martha Randolph Carr is using the D-Word: "Is what we're seeing The Great Depression Part II?" I like to think of it as "The Second Great Republican Depression", myself.

Obama is adopting more conservative positions and being called "far-left". I guess that just leaves the KKK as the "center", which Obama obviously can't join. But the effect of his re-positioning (or that claimed by the media), rather than gathering more voters to him, seems to be convincing some people that there's no difference between him and John McCain - except that McCain has more experience. Obama's campaign really needs to do something about that.

In their never-ending efforts to promote more unwanted pregnancy and abortions, Republicans are now trying to end the subsidy to Planned Parenthood. (Also: RH Reality Check is now doing a sex-ed column for teens.)

Could your bra power your iPhone?

15:07 BST

All the news in bits

Mother Jones has a story by Laura Rozen, "Iran Red Lines", suggesting divergence between the Bush administration and the Israelis on the urgency of attacking Iran, and even on the intelligence the administration is pushing as evidence that Iran is a serious threat. Maybe they're waking up to the nightmare the American right has been trying to bring to the Middle East, at last.

Anna Granfors is annoyed in comments about the furor over the New Yorker cover: "You know what really bothers me about it? It's that most of the blogosphere is acting JUST LIKE CONGRESS WOULD. We (they) could take it head on and say that everything contained therein, regardless of whether it might be a bad editorial decision to release it now, is bullshit that the right wing has attempted to make central issues. But instead, most of the blogosphere seems to be in condemnation mode, disavowing it and claiming that it's an ugly sentiment, blah blah blah. It's really close to the congressional MoveOn dismissals that we all reviled--instead of saying that the central point is true, and the more important point, it becomes off-limits and something to be censored." Anna also recommends The Poor Man on the subject. The article that goes with that cover, "Making It: How Chicago shaped Obama" by Ryan Lizza, could be well worth your time to read.

Paul Krugman is kinda modifying what he said about Fannie and Freddie (more here),thanks to a heads up from Calculated Risk.

Yes, I can believe the chutzpah of John Kyl (R-Apokolips) ranting about how we needed regulation of the mortgage industry and the administration bears no guilt whatsoever for the problem.

Even the Vatican is being hit hard by the weak dollar. Of course, they have other problems, as well.

04:04 BST

Monday, 14 July 2008

Cold-cuts and coffee

"There Was a Class War. The Rich Won It. What happens if there's a class war and only one side bothers to show up and fight it? That's what happened over the last thirty years. There was a class war, and the rich won. Period. It's over, they kicked our knees out from under us, put on their steel toed boots and spent the last thirty years telling us that they were going to trickle on us and we're going to like it and beg for more. Seems like hyperbole? It's just the numbers. The top left shows the manufacturing wage earner's hourly wages. Not 'family income' which includes both of you going to work, but hourly wages. The only reason it's goods producing is they go back longer, but other charts show the same pattern." The irony is that this is, in part, a result of deliberate government policy intended to avoid losing control of the price of oil. But then the whole policy got out of control because they allowed the rich to get too rich. "It was a death bet. And back in the late 70's and late 80's it was a good bet. Heck, it was even a good bet for many over the last ten years. If you expect to be dead before the bill arrives, who cares how big the bill is? Tim Russert just won that bet. Reagan won that bet. Jesse Helms won that bet. It was a good bet for a lot of powerful men (and a few powerful women) in their late forties or older." A few people will still benefit, but we aren't them.

The site may be slow to load at the moment due to a link from the HuffPo, but The Seminal has a brief exchange between Josh Nelson and Senator Webb about bloggers, where Webb says blogs are good for stepping forward to correct the record, but: "With respect to legislation, what I, I think the blogs really communicate, in a very intelligent way, on a couple of these really complicated issues, I would hope they wouldn't lock themselves into positions so early, uh, there's some really complex pieces of legislation that kind of get boiled down. [... FISA is] a very complicated issue and I've looked at it from every single angle that it can be looked at. Having had the black clearances that we were talking about, and at the same time I'm very strong on privacy rights. It's not an issue that is easy to boil down in the way a lot of the blogging community has boiled it down." Hm, didn't seem that complicated to me.

Can it be? "Robert Novak reports that Democrats consider Joe Lieberman's planned address at the GOP Convention in September the 'last straw' from their colleague from Connecticut." You don't say! But the media will continue to side-step the issue of Lieberman's trail of broken promises to Democrats.

Hecate has an excellent question: "Why? Why? Why Didn't I Riot In The Streets In 2000? Why?" (via)

19:00 BST

On the landscape

Did I mention that conservative programs always make things worse? And did I mention that abstinence-only sex miseducation is a bloody stupid idea that was obviously going to make things worse?

Sibel Edmonds: "In a recent immigration court case involving Turkish Islamic Leader, Fetullah Gulen, US prosecutors exposed an illegal, covert, CIA operation involving the intentional Islamization of Central Asia. This operation has been ongoing since the fall of the Soviet Union in an ongoing Cold War to control the vast energy resources of the region - Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan - estimated to be worth $3 trillion." (Thanks to Bruce F.)

When Karl Rove ran away rather than testify in the House, and the claim was made that he was out of the country on a long-planned trip, Linda Sanchez explained that he was full of it.

I see Duncan Hunter has explained why we can't allow gays to serve openly in the military - because we have to prove we're not a bunch of pansies. Oh.

Lance says, "The bad guys are all going to get away." He's right, of course.

Krugman is saying not to worry about Fannie and Freddie, because they're not as bad off as most of the commercial facilities and anyway the government will bail them out. But I agree with Atrios that entities that privatize profit while socializing risk are a bad idea to begin with. Let the shareholders lose their money; that's the nature of gambling - they can bet their own money, but there's no reason the taxpayers should pay off their debts when they take high-risk bets and lose.

Anybody feel like reading about how terrifically the Great War On Terror is going? Well, it's doing really well for the terrorists.

I guess they're worried that people won't get the joke in that New Yorker cover.

13:32 BST

Hear a howling wind outside my door, there's restlessness within

"High Cost of Lies: Over the weekend, a lot of scuttling around has been going on as the government tries to insure that an offering from Freddie Mac - scheduled for sale on Monday - will not be shunned. If buyers are not assured, the government well may be forced to take over that institution." Also, "Empowering the Terraists II: The aggressive ignorance of the White House seems to be part of its general meltdown, as reported in today's NYT. Something of a deja vu quality is seen by Frank Rich, looking back on the breakdown in Nixon's regime."

How interesting, Warren Christopher has teamed up with James Baker to campaign to give away Congress' war powers to the executive. They're both jerks, but what's Warren Christopher doing hanging out with James Baker?

What? They ended The Surge and nobody told me?

I gotta say I've been bummed out by the way comic books are reflecting reality a little too closely lately - I mean, everything is falling apart. I can't believe they even killed off the Martian. It's such a mess now in both universes that it's almost as hard to keep track of as all the Bush administration crimes. And it's also really hard to figure out how they're going to put it back together again, just like real life. Anyway, Bruce was inspired to write about comics and politics by, of all things, that Joan Walsh quote I linked.

Did you notice that News of the World failed to be arrested for voyeurism when they secretly videoed some kinky fun involving Max Mosley (yes, from those Mosleys)? But it's Mosley up in the dock, for the same thing the Spanner men were busted for all those years ago. (Also: "You have been told the Venezuelan President supports the Farc thugs. It's not true.")

Neil Gaiman says the experiment Harper-Collins did putting American Gods up to read for free online drove sales of his books - not just of American Gods, but of all his books.

A conversation between David Cameron and Barack Obama, as told by Armando Iannucci.

When I saw P.F. Sloan live, at one point I noticed him discussing the next song with his musicians, "You want to do the Searchers?" I was unaware of a song by Sloan called "The Searchers", and was surprised to find out he was actually referring to one of his own songs by the name of a group that had covered it.

01:37 BST

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Open windows

Bob Herbert is not impressed by the economic wisdom of Phil Gramm: "'We're the only nation in the world,' Mr. Gramm once said, 'where all our poor people are fat.' During one of the many Republican assaults on Social Security, the issue of cutting back benefits for the elderly came up in the Senate. 'They are 80-year-olds,' howled Mr. Gramm. 'Most people don't have the luxury of living to be 80 years old, so it's hard for me to feel sorry for them.'" John McCain had already insisted that Gramm didn't speak for him - good thinking, since the last thing he needs right now is to remind Americans that Phil Gramm and his conservative cronies created this economy deliberately, and that this is the guy who McCain trusts for economic advice. But of course, this may not hurt him much if the Democrats continue to act like they didn't notice they were just handed a big issue to play up.

Paul Krugman says Kennedy's return to the Senate to vote for the Medicare bill was an even bigger deal than it might have seemed, and could even presage an easier path to universal health insurance. (Hilariously, Krugman had to update the discussion thread on the topic at his blog, because a few wingers dropped by to confuse readers about the meaning of the words "doctor" and "insurance".) Lambert finds a doctor, however, who isn't pleased about the bow to the insurance industry in the HCAN't plan.

McClatchy has a piece on violent soldiers who were allowed into the armed services because standards were dropped in order to make up recruitment numbers. "'These guys are out there carrying weapons, fighting on the streets with drugs in their pockets,' said Tressie Cox, whose son, Lee Robert, had a history of drug and mental problems before he was charged with selling drugs in Iraq. 'Shame on my son, but shame on all you people out there who are policing this and allowing this to continue to happen.'"

Echidne does some reading, and learns about the turning of the cube, seaside postcards, Eric Blair, and why Christopher Hitchens can never be as good as George Orwell.

Rachel Maddow and Jonathan Turley on the possibility of war crimes prosecutions.

18:10 BST

Words wouldn't come in an easy way

So we have virtually a whole town that's able to exist because one large employer hires barely-literate undocumented workers. Most of them have never heard Social Security, because all of their paperwork has been filled out for them by the employer.

Then the Bush administration is embarrassed by the reaction of conservatives to an immigration bill that would make it legal to import "illegals" solely for the purpose of working cheap, without union rights, as virtual slaves in America. So they needed to show they were Tough on Illegals, and thus the raid on Postville last May, where undocumented workers were faced with criminal charges of Social Security fraud (of which they were innocent) and offered a semi-secret plea bargain to serve jail time before being deported - the "bargain" being that their time would be limited to five months if they took the plea now, whereas they'd have to wait six to eight months in custody (no bail) for trail if they insisted on pleading not guilty, then if convicted spend a couple years in prison, and then be deported; and even if you win, you're still deported without a hearing.

These people, of course, need both criminal and immigration legal advisors, but the beauty of the criminal case is that the government can keep immigration lawyers out and leave only criminal lawyers without immigration knowledge to "advise" their new clients. They have lawyers and translators working overtime to try to get them all processed within 72 hours - because after that deadline, they have to either charge them properly (which would embarrass them) or deport them, and they wish to do neither. They want to Make An Example! They want a Demonstration that they are not coddling "illegals"! So, at great expense to you, the taxpayer, they are offering to wreck a whole town and warehouse a few hundred innocent people unnecessarily (including some that, if they had proper immigration advice, would know that they have a good case for staying in the United States - unless they take the plea and are therefore legally designated as criminals.)

And the only reason we know about it is because one translator couldn't stomach it. I guess the icing (no pun intended) on the cake is that this incredible, inhumane waste of your tax dollars diverts needed emergency resources from Homeland Security, because it's all part of - you guessed it - the Great War On Terror.


Jeralyn Merritt says a few words about Jane Mayer's book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals. More from Glenn Greenwald.

Joan Walsh: "Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, voted against the FISA bill, but I think "what ifs" are unproductive. Matthew Yglesias' self-justifying fiction that, if she was the nominee, she'd have done what Obama did, is silly. But none of us can really know she'd have done the right thing in Obama's shoes. Since I believe Clinton's craven vote to authorize the Iraq war in 2002 cost her the Democratic nomination, I do find myself wondering whether she learned her lesson about caving in to GOP threats. It's funny how so many defeated Democrats -- Al Gore, John Kerry, John Edwards and now Clinton -- seem to become more progressive after they learn that pandering can't protect them from the attacks of the GOP and its friends in the media. Let's hope Obama doesn't have to learn that lesson the same way."

How the mighty have fallen - Chapter 1,244: The Atlantic Monthly.

"Fascism: You really think it'll be this obvious?"

Chad & Jeremy

14:01 BST

Information, please

Empreinte Melody underwired seamless braBra of the Week

A neat little story about some kids who wanted to play the blues, and their homemade guitars.

Remember the New Hampshire recount? Jim Macdonald has the somewhat surprising results (including the fact that in the Republican primary, Obama and Clinton both did better than Duncan Hunter). Jim also wonder's where Victor's manuscript is after prison officials stole it from him on the pretext that it presented some "danger", and notes that last week saw the 80th anniversary of the invention of sliced bread - so next time someone mentions the "best thing since sliced bread", you know how long we're talking about. Plus! Patrick is reminded of what libertarianism is.

Digby: "I know this will come as a shock to many of you, but so-called liberal political pundits think other liberals should STFU."

More than 2,270 minors have been sentenced to life without parole in the United States, while there are only 12 in the rest of the world combined. Nearly two-thirds are first offenders, and many did not kill anyone. Since the United States began trying minors as adults and giving them such harsh sentences, the evidence has mounted that there is no reason to believe this helps to control crime in any way.

Today I discovered Newsrogue, where I learned that 97% of drug deaths are from legal drugs, a senior cop says Britain's 4.2 million CCTV cameras don't cut crime, The world's best inventions weren't made for profit, and many other things.

Who will they blame for the fall in Obama's fundraising numbers? You know who. (Also: Some wise words from Turkana.)

01:25 BST

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Saturday satay and spring rolls

Rob Kall wants to know, "If Pelosi Changes Her Impeachment Position Will It Change Your Attitude Towards Congress?" Well, it sure wouldn't hurt. And Glenn Greenwald discusses the real consequences if nothing is done to hold government accountable: "One cannot coherently sanction or even acquiesce to serious government lawbreaking and then feign outrage over illegal torture and other war crimes. The sanctioning of government illegality is precisely what leads to abuses like the American torture regime."

Ruth was quite entertained by DeLong's story about his encounter with Grover Norquist, but some people might see it differently.

*sigh* I was so hoping that Mr. Sideshow and I could make a pilgrimage back to my hometown this autumn, but he's taken a grim view of that idea ever since it became "legal" to deprive all foreigners of their rights. I'm sure things like "safety bracelets" are not going to make the idea more attractive.

Y'all remember Big Bad John Cornyn's big gay butch campaign ad, right? Well, the guy who's running against him is Rick Noriega, and he's a bit behind in poll numbers, so I'm sure he could use your help. And while you're at it, it probably wouldn't hurt to help Cindy. I certainly wouldn't give Nancy a dime after this latest performance.

I miss Bill Hicks.

Singing icebergs.

19:34 BST

Tea and tiger bread

What always gets me about conservative policies is the way they make all the problems they purport to solve worse, thus generating the "need" to do more of the same. For example, being "tough on crime" actually creates more tough criminals, so then you "need" to have more severe policies and more prisons and get even tougher. (Same thing with tax cuts for the rich, of course - the more they hurt the economy, the more we need more tax cuts for the rich! Deregulation hurting the economy - obviously, we need more deregulation! And, also obviously, we need to bomb more Muslim nations so they will stop hating us enough to attack us back.) It'd be nice if people finally started to see through this scam.

The Last Chance Democracy Café has a question: "Should George W. Bush be tried for war crimes?"

Bill Donahue has started up a hate campaign against PZ Myers, who as a result has been receiving death threats - and his boss is receiving demands that he be fired. Actually, I'm surprised this didn't happen sooner - it's how the right-wing fights the battle of ideas. You might want to send his boss a short, polite note saying you support PZ.

Old Tricks from The Usual Old Dogs - If there's one thing they're good at, it's playing "Let's you and him fight."

Help EFF Continue the Fight Against Warrantless Wiretapping.

How Ohio was stolen - or at least, more evidence that Ohio was stolen. Doesn't explain the towns where more people voted for Bush than there were registered voters, though.

Joe Lieberman, (R-IS).

The Medium Lobster evaluates the VP choices.

Swedish Meatballs Confidential is a blog I just noticed via BTC News, which says it "delves into propaganda, psychological operations and other media-related shenanigans, always includes a nude photo, artful but possibly not safe for work."

13:04 BST

Friday, 11 July 2008

A world of their own

The A.V. Club has this interview with Matt Taibbi in which he talks about a lot of things and says some interesting stuff, but I found myself shaking my head when I saw this:

MT: America's always had a real passion for lunatic movements. That's one of the things we're probably known for around the world, I would imagine. I think what's different about it now is that we had a relatively cohesive national society for a while. For a giant industrial country, we had a situation where pretty much everybody agreed on the same sets of facts when they talked about the news, and they believed in the media. When somebody reported something, they generally accepted that it was true. For a long time, I think that was the case in this country. But recently, because of a bunch of things-there was a general collapse in faith of the mainstream news media, because of Jayson Blair. And the 2000 election was a situation where if you were on the Bush side, you believed X set of facts, and if you were on the Democratic side, you believed Y set of facts. The wound was never healed. You got a situation where people decided to reality-shop and search for their own sets of facts at their own news sources, and they just kind of stopped coming to this common meeting-place where we all had the same commonly accepted set of facts. And because of the Internet, which is a new phenomenon, people can do that more than ever before. You can have somebody living next door to you and you can live in a completely different world from that person, which is definitely something we've never experienced before. So I think just because of the media landscape and the way we get our information now, we're more atomized and isolated from each other than ever before.
Does he really believe "there was a general collapse in faith of the mainstream news media, because of Jayson Blair"? Because of Jayson Blair? The entire press corps was blatantly shilling for obvious lies on behalf of the GOP for years, and Matt Taibbi thinks public trust for the media collapsed because of Jayson Blair? I can think of a few other people who might have been more of an influence on people's perceptions.

21:15 BST

There are so many who must lose for you to gain

I learned a couple of weeks back that Melanie Mattson (who some of you may remember from her blog Just A Bump In The Beltway as well as the other sites she contributed to) had died, but we were asked to hold off saying anything until the family had gotten itself together. Melanie has been a part of our little network of lefty bloggers for years, and I regard this as a considerable loss. Melanie, a DC-area blogger, had been ill for a while, and would have been only 54 next week had she lived. Others have written in more detail about why she meant so much to them, but here's what she said about herself when she filled out the self-interview for What She Said. Peace, Melanie.

Anthrax? What anthrax? Marcy Wheeler says, "Call me crazy. But after viewing this very creepy exchange between Patrick Leahy and Michael Mukasey regarding the anthrax killer, I got the feeling that both of them know exactly who sent those anthrax-laden letters almost seven years ago."

I see the question of John McCain's citizenship has arisen again, with a new suggestion that the fact that new law had to be passed to make McCain a citizen means he is not "a natural born citizen" as per Article II of the Constitution. I agree that it doesn't matter since no one is likely to enforce it, anymore than they were willing, nearly eight years ago, to enforce the requirement that a president and vice president not be from the same state.

I'm sorry, but the oath of office for Senators doesn't say "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same except when campaigning for office." Yes, I know McCain shows no interest in keeping his oath, either, but that's hardly an excuse.

Bush supporting the troops, again: "Bush's advisers said in a statement they oppose a wage provision in the bill that requires builders of veterans housing to pay employees prevailing wage. The advisers said that provision is the bill's major problem. Bush has long opposed any changes to the law that would either increase or decrease the number of employers subject to the prevailing wage requirements in the Davis-Bacon Act, the advisers said." Just like he supports the American worker.

Dan of Pruning Shears writes a letter to the editor explaining why the recent "redesign" has caused him to cancel his subscription - and it's not ideological. Dan also provides a list of Senators who voted yes on FISA - with downloadable HTML file for those who want to copy it to their web pages.

"Fantasy" by Country Joe and the All-Star Band.

16:15 BST

I wish nothing but the best for you both

Blogging as Comedy - When Chris Bowers is good, he's very very good, but then there are times when he's trying too hard.

Shut Up and Eat Your Gruel - McCain economic advisor Phil Gramm, who is in many ways the architect of our present economic meltdown, says you should quit your whinin'.

And speaking of economic meltdown, it looks like Dick Cheney has a December surprise waiting for us from the Pentagon.

Yes, the GOP is once again making its habitual claims of voter fraud in Alabama.

Digby wonders if Obama is squandering the enthusiasm from Dems that was his real advantage in this election, in hopes of trading it for some independent votes that may never come. I admit, I'm having a bit of trouble blogging lately. Much of what's going on is about the election, and my enthusiasm has dimmed somewhat as Obama has lived down to his record in so many ways. He runs from teachable moments, he shuts Overton's Window on our fingers, he makes a point of dissing progressive activists and he has snubbed the Black Caucus from his first day in national office. You can tell me he'll appoint liberal judges to the bench, but how do I know that? Based on his record, he doesn't even know why liberal issues are important. We rejected Hillary Clinton because she was DLC, only to learn that the DLC itself likes Obama more than they like Clinton. Oh, and by the way, dismissing whole generations of voters as just a bunch of old racists isn't a way to charm them, either - especially when a lot of those people risked their lives in the civil rights movement. If Obama loses this election, it might just be because he is actively fostering the idea that if he stands for anything, it's something we already don't like.

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse

"You Oughta Know"

13:08 BST

A few things

So Bush walks out of the G8 meeting displaying that grown-up sense of humor he is so well-known for, saying, "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter." According to the Independent, "President Bush made the private joke in the summit's closing session, senior sources said yesterday. His remarks were taken as a two-fingered salute from the President from Texas who is wedded to the oil industry."

Glenn Greenwald has more thoughts on how effective the Democratic cave-in strategy is for their image across the country, and directs us to a series of photos of the joyous signing, including this photo which would scream for a caption contest if the caption weren't obvious: "I can't believe we got away with this!"

Cup O' Joe says, "Seriously: Now, I've been told that Obama knows how to play hardball and knows what he's doing. Perhaps, as I have been told, he sees this as a lost cause that's not worth his energy at the moment. Maybe. But we should remember hardball doesn't begin to describe the tactics of the right. Ask yourselves how far you think they're willing to go, and whether you really want to find out. We may win the Presidency, and regain control of the government, but this is still Nixonland, and we still have an administration and a Republican Party that openly breaks the law, and we still have "opposition" leaders unable or unwilling to enforce it. These are the facts on the ground and we had better understand this as we continue to try to take this country back."

02:37 BST

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Is there a song about this?

Lawrence Lessig, who has been a staunch Obama supporter and is close to his campaign, spoke to them and concluded that they really don't get that what they did amounts to Self-Swiftboating:

The Obama self-Swiftboating comes from a month of decisions that, while perhaps better tuning the policy positions of the campaign to what is good, or true, or right, or even expedient, completely undermine Obama's signal virtue -- that he's different. We've handed the other side a string of examples that they will now use to argue (as Senator Graham did most effectively on Meet the Press) that Obama is nothing different, he's just another politician, and that even if you believe that McCain too is just another politician, between these two ordinary politicians, pick the one with the most experience.

The Obama campaign seems just blind to the fact that these flips eat away at the most important asset Obama has. It seems oblivious to the consequence of another election in which (many) Democrats aren't deeply motivated to vote (consequence: the GOP wins).

Instead, and weirdly, the campaign seems focused on the very last thing a campaign should be doing during a campaign -- governing. This is not a try-out. A campaign is not a dry run for running government. Yet policy wonks inside the campaign sputter policy that Obama listens to and follows, again, apparently oblivious to how following that advice, when inconsistent with the positions taken in the past, just reinforces the other side's campaign claim that Obama is just another calculating, unprincipled politician.

Actually, that last bit seems a bit inside-out to me. Obama is in the Senate. Obama is sworn to protect the Constitution. People who speak as if everything will change "once he's sworn in" forget that he is already sworn in and is supposed to be governing according to his oath of office. And having him flip away from doing that is what offers the most ammo to the Republicans, who once again will make significant hay over the fact that we have yet another Democrat who doesn't appear to stand for anything.

(Reviewing the comment thread briefly, I have to say that this is a rare occasion when I'm aware of disagreeing with Seth Finklestein - although this disagreement is over campaign wisdom rather than policy. Look, no power on Earth is going to stop the Republicans from treating Obama as some sort of terrorist, which they are already doing and will continue to do. Supporting or opposing this FISA bill will have no impact at all on whether they do this. What it has a real impact on is how people with civil libertarian standards perceive Obama, and it is not a pretty sight. He has reversed on a promise to filibuster such a bill, and instead came out in support of it. He has - or had - a lot of supporters who put faith in his claims as a Constitutional scholar to trust that he would never do a thing like this, and their sudden realization that they were wrong will have a significant impact on how much energy they put into campaigning for him in the months to come.)

Okay, we don't know how this would have played out if Clinton had been the nominee, but she did vote against FISA and she also said why: "Congress must vigorously check and balance the president even in the face of dangerous enemies and at a time of war. That is what sets us apart." (I also note a link in the ensuing thread to a post about the gender gap in donations - because, you know, women had less money to give than men did. And this one says that Hillary's biggest bundler was Emily's List, but Obama's was Goldman Sachs.) But Glenn Greenwald notes: "Obama voted along with all Republicans for cloture. Hillary Clinton voted with 25 other Democrats against cloture (strangely, Clinton originally voted AYE on cloture, and then changed her vote to NAY; I'm trying to find out what explains that)." Glenn also has the video of Rachel Maddow saying Bush probably never in his wildest dreams imagined when he started this illegal program that it would be a Democratic Congress (in contrast to the Republican Congress that preceded it) that would bend over to let him get away with it like this. (I'm not so sure of that - what else did he want these powers for if not to be able to spy on political opponents so he could blackmail them into doing what he wanted?) "It's like letting a getaway car driver off the hook because the bank robber told him robbing banks was legal." Jonathan Turley also looks quite distressed. The media is depicting this as just what it is - a cave-in by Democrats to Bush - and apparently the American public sees it pretty much the same way, with Congress' approval ratings sinking into single digits for the first time ever. The apologists for this disgusting behavior insist that Obama had to do it to "look strong". Yeah, right. He was grinning on the floor.

In other news... Remember to tell everyone you know how McCain feels about Social Security.

The Courage Campaign has an ad out to educate David Drier's constituents about how he's a Rubber Stamp for Bush. Check it out. (via)

Pot calls kettle black: "The White House has apologized for circulating briefing materials which described Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as an amateur presiding over an administration of corruption and vice who is hated by many."

17:06 BST

Isn't this a time?

From Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast, "Not with a bang but with a whimper":

And so it ends, this Great Experiment of ours, this free nation forged by a bunch of hemp-smokers and womanizers who dared say no to a king and founded a nation that not so long ago was not just the most powerful nation on earth, but one admired and emulated by the rest of the world.

No longer does the rule of law take precedence over the insanity of a despotic leader. No longer does the document in which the laws that make this country what it was mean anything. It's all about perception, and not the perception of the voters, but perception of the media talking heads with their marching orders by their corporate masters to ensure that only those who would consolidate as much wealth as possible into the hands of the few, who would yoke the unwashed, impoverished masses unto themselves in a state of permanent indentured servitude, grateful for the scraps fed to them like dogs after the CEOs and board chairmen get done stuffing themselves to stupefaction, make it to the finish line.


The flag for which generations of American boys have died was spat on today in the Senate -- defiled beyond recognition in a conflagration that dwarfs any protest by an irate citizen. Some of the same Senators who felt it so important to protect the flag that they would have voted for a Constitutional amendment to protect it, no longer think the Constitution is even relevant. They would protect the flag against one person trying to make a statement, but they won't protect it against an insane president and sixty-nine corrupt, craven Senators who have zero understanding of what the flag really means. It's not a cheap Chinese-made trinket to put on your lapel at election time in a display of faux-patriotism. It's not something to grandstand about when it's politically expedient. That flag stands for the document that the Senate defecated on today. The flag stands for the Great Experiment which has now irrevocably failed. Or at least it used to.

And the damnedest thing is that those sixty-nine Senators didn't even have the balls to set the damn thing aflame.

ACLU says they will challenge the new FISA law in court; EFF to join suit. You might want to send some money to the ACLU to help them out. Maybe instead of that next donation you were going to make to Obama's war chest. (Via Sam Seder, who also has Al Franken's green ad up in the same post.)

After Downing Street says the mood in Congress about impeachment seems to be shifting a bit, and that hearings are a real possibility, based on matters already in the public record. (I'm not holding my breath, but hope springs eternal. Bush has confessed to some of his crimes already and bragged that he can and will continue to commit them; others of his crimes have also been exposed. There's not really any doubt about whether he's committed impeachable offenses - only about whether Congress has the guts to hold him accountable.) Meanwhile, Kucinich says: "This Thursday evening I will bring a privileged resolution to the House with a single Article of Impeachment of President Bush for taking our nation and our troops to war based on lies. We owe it to our troops who even at this hour stand as sentinels of America because they love this country and will give their lives for it. What are we willing to do to match their valor and the valor of their successors? Are we at least willing to defend the Constitution from the comfort and security of our Washington, DC offices?"

13:37 BST

It's too late

Ted Kennedy returned to the Senate today to vote for the Medicare legislation, saying he did not want to take the chance that the loss of his vote would make a difference, as it had last month when the Senate fell one vote short on cloture. "Today, however, senators - including several Republicans - took Kennedy's lead and voted to invoke cloture by a veto-proof 69-30. The Senate then passed the bill by unanimous consent. It now goes to President Bush for his signature." And Nicole Belle says God loves Pete Stark, who said, "Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) puts out a statement ripping McCain: "Senator Kennedy managed to make it back from treatment for cancer, but Senator McCain couldn't be bothered. Senator McCain, who wants to be our next President, has skipped this vote three times now. Clearly, he'd rather hide than face up to the insurance industry. You can do that when you're in the U.S. Senate, maybe voters should leave him there." But then the Senate turned around and voted to ignore the 4th Amendment. Chris Dodd made a statement afterwards saying that he was "confident that the Constitutionality of this decision will be challenged in the courts."

The Cunning Realist is moved by footage of a woman ignored and dying in the waiting room of a hospital to recall then-Congressman Bernie Sanders grilling Alan Greenspan.

Big Someone is watching you: "Electronic surveillance is moving from the broad scope of the Bush crime syndicate down to the micro level, as the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is offering parents a new computer program that will allow them to monitor their children's Internet activity." But of course, you could also use it to spy one anyone else who might use that computer.

Meme watch: "I generally like Chuck Todd, but just now on Countdown he was repeating to Rachel Maddow the narrative that everyone in the media and the right seem to agree on: that this election is a referendum on Barack Obama."

Carole King live in the room

00:35 BST

Wednesday, 09 July 2008

When the rain comes

After Downing Street says Pelosi is opposing contempt charges against Karl Rove: "I have firm confirmation that Nancy Pelosi is urging the Judiciary committee NOT to go forward with contempt against Rove. Congressman John Conyers and the Judiciary staff are battling for it but this has become an infight among dems. Time to burn up the phone lines. 800-828-0498, 800-459-1887 or 800-614-2803 toll free to congressional switchboard. PLEASE CALL." Go to the link for the list of committee members and their direct phone numbers. Pelosi's phone should ring off the hook.

At Congressional Quarterly, Surveillance Deal: Same Bad Law, New Bad Arguments: "What gets missed in this argument is that not even soldiers have a duty to obey unlawful orders, and private citizens and corporations have no general duty to do whatever the President asks of them. It is absurd to suppose that companies should be absolved for doing what they were told to do by someone who lacked the authority to issue such an order in the first place." (via)

John Cole with A Sign Of What Is To Come - but I don't suppose there is anything that a Democratic candidate could do or say that wouldn't be fodder for the right-wing's imagination. After all, George Walker Bush already perfected the Nuremberg Rally sort of political event years ago, back when he could still get an audience, and it would have been regarded as absurd to suggest the same thing back then.

How to Kill Medicare - Privatize it!

David Hackworth was a real war hero, but he didn't think McCain was much of one.

Journalism's Tim Russert Problem

20:19 BST

What you're doing

Consider: FDR, with a communist left agitating on one side, seemed pretty centrist when he came up with the New Deal. But the Democrats purged the communists, and the right-wing turned communism, and even socialism, into such dirty words that the next generation pretty much bought into it. By the '60s, when anti-war, pro-civil rights activists were accused of being led by the old left communists, the response was that we had nothing to do with them - we "don't trust anyone over 30." (Yes, that is the original context for that quote.) The right-wing's class war against the rest of us was on. Since then we have had the long years of ridicule of not just hippies and anti-war activists, but of liberals who simply want to retain the New Deal - and sure enough, with this the new dirty word, we see "progressives" who are taking the same attitude toward people who fought to end segregation, Jim Crow, and a devastating war in Southeast Asia. There is no real left of any note in the United States, and the push from the center, despite the sizeable numbers who oppose right-wing programs (and wars) - the huge majority, in fact, who support liberal programs - has featherweight influence. There is no sign that the right-wing has anything to fear. And now, in 2008, John McCain has a new ad in which he runs against hope, change, and the Summer of Love. Let's not forget that it's the Republicans who are still fighting the wars of the past - still trying to beat FDR's New Deal, still trying to win in Vietnam and tell those hippie kids to get off their lawn.

Elizabeth Edwards is part of a $40m healthcare campaign targetted at Blue Dogs.

Naomi Wolf: "The sexualization of torture from the top basically turned Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay into an organized sex-crime ring in which the trafficked sex slaves were US-held prisoners. Looking at the classic S and M nature of some of this torture, it is hard not to speculate that someone setting policy was aroused by all of this. And Phillipe Sands' impeccably documented Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values, now proves that sex crime was authorized and, at least one source reports, eroticized: Diane Beaver, the Staff Judge Advocate at Guantanamo who signed off on many torture techniques, told Sands about brainstorming sessions that included the use of "sexual tension," which was "culturally taboo, disrespectful, humiliating and potentially unexpected.""

At The G Spot, a consideration of how to deal with the crimes of this administration, and of Vince Bugliosi's new book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder: "We've seen it happen in our lifetime. Every two-term Republican President we've had from Nixon on has provoked a constitutional crisis: Watergate, Iran-contra, and now the Bush scandals. We seem to have learned nothing from any of these crises - except that the Republicans have learned to be a lot smarter about covering up their crimes. Worse, you see the same people who were discredited in previous Republican criminal regimes coming back again and again. Karl Rove, for example, got his start as a teenage dirty trickster during the Nixon administration. Even people like John Poindexter and Elliot Abrams, who were convicted of crimes connected to the Iran-contra scandal, came back to serve in high-level positions in the Bush administration!" (H/t Anna.)

The Beatles

01:34 BST

Tuesday, 08 July 2008

Assorted stuff

Well, here's an interesting question: "Was 20 Million Dollars Paid to Free Betancourt and 3 American Hostages in Colombia?" Apparently The Times picked up a story from Swiss public radio saying that all that clever stuff we've heard about how the hostages in Columbia were freed is just a cover story for, um, paying a big ransom to terrorists for the release of hostages. Which, of course, we would never ever do. (Also: A nice little interview with Robert Wexler about his book, Fire-Breathing Liberal.)

Digby reports that in another fine demonstration of how Democrats stab themselves in the back, it looks like the Obama campaign has now sidelined Wesley Clark. (Also: a good ad that Blue America and Color of Change had in the WaPo as part of the last charge against the FISA sell-out.)

MahaBarb has a good explanation here of why Obama's statement about abortion wasn't a big deal content-wise. And she's right, but Obama's language is still worrying, because most people really don't understand these distinctions, and what they hear is that a woman's psychological health shouldn't matter where abortion is concerned.

TChris: "Boston police officials are trying to investigate a website,, dedicated to complaints against and by officers of the Boston police department. Police officials have 'launched an internal affairs investigation to find out who is behind the website.' [...] Here's a better idea: investigate the misconduct complaints that appear on the website, not the identities of the website owners."

Supporting our troops: "The U.S. Army knew that the site chosen to build a family housing complex at Fort Wainwright was a toxic dump but proceeded anyway, in violation of federal laws and service policies, according to an audit by the Army's own Office of Staff Judge Advocate that was released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)." (And gas prices are starving people who used to receive Meals on Wheels.)

20:51 BST

Media media

As we know, America is divided - that is, anywhere from 68% to 80% of us share one set of views, and the celebrity media and the RNC share another set of views. Glennzilla notes that Fox News Sunday provides an example: "So Liasson just flatly stated that 'the American people' -- as opposed to 'the left wing base,' which is (of course) a different animal altogether -- don't want to withdraw troops from Iraq within 16 months but instead favor withdrawal only when 'facts on the ground' permit it. Bill Kristol added that 'Obama's move to the center on Iraq shows how radical the Democratic Party's position on Iraq has been for the last year and a half . . . to pull the plug on a war effort in the middle of that effort.'" Unfortunately, you don't have to go to Fox to find others in the corporate media making similar claims.

Over at, you can find astonishing claims from Andrés Martinez that President Gore would have responded exactly the same way the Bush administration did to warnings of a planned attack from Al Qaeda and would also have invaded Iraq after 9/11. To a reader who suggests otherwise, Martinez says, "I don't harbor your alternative-history fantasy. In fact, I find it kind of creepy. Your argument is an example of the type of irrationally exuberant partisanship so corrosive to our politics." This is the kind of thinking that is apparently "sensible" at the WaPo - that Gore would have behaved in ways that are completely contradicted by the behavior of the Clinton-Gore administration and Gore's own brave and prophetic speech warning against invading Iraq. Check out the comments - as of this moment, there are only 16 of them, and every single one of them is more rational than Martinez's example of raging denial.

Over the weekend, Jamison Foser evaluated the media's willingness to shore-up John McCain's "protective barrier": "Nearly four months ago, I wrote that many journalists were going along with John McCain's apparent efforts to declare that, because of his military service, any criticism -- even if it doesn't have anything to do with his service -- is out of bounds. In one early example, McCain attacked Mitt Romney, claiming that Romney (who, McCain noted, 'has never had any military experience') had criticized Bob Dole's 'service and courage.' In fact, Romney hadn't said anything about Dole's service, or his courage. Not even close. But that didn't stop the media from going along with McCain's false claims." And, despite the fact that they didn't care when Kerry's service was explicitly attacked by the Swift-Boaters with misrepresentation and lies - in fact, by the Republican's convention, they had cast doubt on the awarding of every Purple Heart given by our military, asserting that they were handed out like candy for virtually every shaving cut, even wearing little Band-Aids with purple hearts on them on their chins - suddenly any criticism of McCain is "an attack on his service".

Sandy Levinson at Balkinization doesn't think much of David Broder's claim that the swing-voter on the present Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy, "may arguably be the single most influential arbiter of domestic policy in the land."

I gather that Connie Schultz believes that, if you have doubts about Barack Obama as a standard-bearer for the Democratic Party, it can't have anything to do with the fact that he doesn't sound much like the Democrats we remember from back before half of them became Republican-Lite.

Atrios: "I'm watching Dan Abrams' show, and Michael Waldman just said that in past presidencies, being seen as hiding something or obstructing justice was enough to cause people to agree to testify to Congress. I wonder what's changed. Perhaps we could ask Fred Hiatt. Julian Epstein roughly made the same point as I was typing this. During the Clinton administration, anything was labeled "obstruction of justice" and caused weeks of hyperventilating in editorial pages and on cable news. Now? Pretty much silence."

Changing of the guard at Pravda on the Potomac: "The Washington Post has named Marcus W. Brauchli, a former top editor of The Wall Street Journal, as its executive editor, the paper announced Monday. The appointment comes as a new publisher, Katharine Weymouth, puts her stamp on one of the nation's great newspapers." Jonathan Schwarz hopes the new regime won't be worse than what we've had.

Thank you, Annie.

11:45 BST

She can see no reason, 'cause there are no reasons

A CNN report finds that supplies meant for Katrina victims were diverted to other agencies: "The state's Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks took more coffee makers, cleaning supplies and other items. Plastic containers ended up with the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration. Colleges, volunteer fire departments and other agencies received even more. But the Mississippi hurricane victims who originally were intended to receive the supplies got nothing, a CNN investigation has found."

Let's see... "Moderate" Republicans are leaving their party and in many cases joining the Democratic Party, while the far-right loonies are all that's left in the GOP - does this mean both parties moving to the right? (via)

Pruning Shears has some great links in the This Week in Tyranny post, noting that it's not just "a few bad apples" that fall from a poisonous tree.

Thomas and eRobin both got out and defended the 4th Amendment the other day - with pictures! They have useful advice on what you can do to help campaign against the new FISA bill. Trouble is, with cloture already voted, I don't see how it can be stopped from passing. Might be all your money should go to the ACLU to take the thing to court.

Please can we at least have a president who won't embarrass us like this again after January 20th?

The Boomtown Rats (Wow, remember when Geldof used to shave?)

00:07 BST

Monday, 07 July 2008

An expression which no one ever saw in a woodchuck

Joe Conason on What John McCain didn't learn in Vietnam: "The most pertinent issue is not what McCain did or didn't do during the war in Vietnam, but what he learned from that searing, incredibly bloody and wholly unnecessary failure of U.S. policy. Clearly he learned that torture is morally wrong, illegal and counterproductive, and he has spoken with great moral authority on that issue. But listening to him now and over the past decade or so, he also seems not to have learned why that war itself was a tragic mistake -- and why we needed to leave Vietnam long before we did." But, Joe, McCain seems to have unlearned that torture is morally wrong, illegal, and counterproductive while serving in the Senate. Maybe we should be asking about that, too.

Hitting Too Close To Home: "What President Bush is demanding is unlimited license for an unending occupation, one that could, as Sen. McCain has suggested with some unseemly glee, last a hundred years. It's unlikely that Iraqis will look kindly upon a Prime Minister who caves in to such a demand."

Wolf Blitzer takes a trot through the history of administration lies, but does not explain whey he never challenged them.

Kinsley defends Franken: "If the voters of Minnesota would rather be represented by a hack like Norm Coleman than laugh off a few jokes that didn't work, then they should stop complaining about being stuck with professional politicians. And the real joke will be on them."

21:06 BST

It might be news

Clark Hoyt: "TWO weeks ago, over the objections of his lawyer and the Central Intelligence Agency, The Times named the interrogator who used shrewd psychology, not rough stuff, to get Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, to talk. The interrogator and his family fear that the newspaper has endangered their lives, and many readers asked why The Times could not have withheld his name." Hoyt addresses the fears that the interrogator was endangered because Al Qaeda might be out to get him, and he may be right that those fears are a bit paranoid, but I was surprised to see no mention of the real danger to anyone who might undermine Bush's position that torture is a good thing, which won't come from Al Qaeda, but from the right wing at home.

It looks like the wingers are ready to go after Obama on drugs, now that they've found that passage from his in his own voice from the spoken-word version. Hugh Hewitt played it on his radio show, where he talks about having used drugs "enthusiastically", and there is speculation that we could be hearing it in anti-Obama ads. (There is also a passage where he is laudatory toward Rev. Wright and quotes from a sermon in which white folks' greed is identified as a problem. Oh, dear.) (via) Not that it is likely to hurt him with libertarians, who are mostly okay with drugs, and increasingly seem to like him better than McCain - so much so that they actually seem hopeful that he will be another Bill Clinton. And Montana, of all places, seems to be turning blue.

Oh, great, now we have states wanting to help you wear your Christianity on your car. Time to demand an equivalent FSM design.

The British had a perfectly good way of counting votes, but then they decided to fix it: "there is insufficient evidence available to allow independent observers to state reliably whether the results declared in the May 2008 elections for the Mayor of London and the London Assembly are an accurate representation of voters' intentions."

13:10 BST

Words and music

I am astonished to be writing this, but Peter Beinart is actually saying in the WaPo that Obama should not do that right-wing thing he's doing: "Because Americans are less afraid and because Republicans have abandoned the foreign policy center, Democrats need not worry that Obama will suffer the fate of George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale or John Kerry. He won't lose because he looks weak. The greater danger is that he will change positions in a bid to look strong -- as he recently did on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- and come across as inauthentic and insincere. As Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin have noted, the Democrats' biggest political liability is not that Americans believe they are too liberal but rather that they believe that Democrats don't stand for anything at all." And even more astonishingly, I find myself in agreement with Peter Beinart. Gosh.

Julia discovers that Jesse Helms is not truly dead as long as the hands that served him are now in the service of John McCain.

BossKitty's 4th of July post treated me to these entertaining poll numbers: "69 percent of respondents think Founding Fathers would be disappointed. Still, 61 percent say they're extremely proud to be an American. 41 percent: Presidential candidates should always wear flag pin when dressed up."

One time when I was in New York Tom Disch suggested we meet up at this restaurant on 10th Street, and when I mentioned that I wanted to see this painting at MoMA that I'd seen once years ago and couldn't remember who it was by or what it was called, he delighted me by knowing a whole bunch of things about it and also liking it, and that's my only real Tom Disch story, which isn't all that entertaining, I guess, but may explain why I feel so unhappy on learning that he committed suicide on the 4th, even though I never saw much of him in the first place. (Also: PNH reports that, thanks to our generous community, the Clarion laptop crisis has not turned into a total disaster, as all of the stolen equipment has been replaced.)

Joshua Bell

02:17 BST

Sunday, 06 July 2008

Lazy Sunday

Last night's FDL Book Salon was about a book that already exists about several campaigns where a "lesser-known candidate attracts a small following of dedicated supporters by the promise of being different than your usual Washington DC elected officials. Taking advantage of these supporters' talent in getting the word out over the internet, scheduling meetups of other potential supporters, raising funds and generally building up a wave of enthusiasm that carries the candidate to national prominence, that same candidate starts taking on the trappings of traditional politicians-consultants, pollsters, campaign managers from inside the Beltway-and slowly, but heartbreakingly surely, the candidate moves away from those netroots supporters that got him where he was." Nicolle Belle hosts Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, authors of Netroots Rising: How A Citizen Army Of Bloggers And Online Activists Is Changing American Politics. You might want to take note of his response to a query about who in Obama's campaign is pushing for the FISA bill: "Tom Daschle. He's one of Obama's mentors and big powers in the campaign. He was also the Senate majority leader when all the eavesdropping was started. I've often wondered if Daschle doesn't have a very personal interest in keeping the history of what really happened at the highest levels of the U.S. Government in 2001/2002 buried very deeply." I've always assumed he took that attempt to assassinate him with anthrax personally, and not without good reason - but his current love of the FISA bill suggests that he's just plain compromised. (Meanwhile, Thers proves that Obama was never born.)

EUROPEAN ALERT: "The '3 strikes and you're out' plan to cut those accused of copyright file sharing off the net - note accused, not found to be guilty - has been sneaked into an EU telecoms bill after it was explicitly defeated earlier this year." The vote is TOMORROW, so start faxing now. And pass the word to everyone you know who has an internet connection in Europe.

Jerome a Paris: "But more importantly, this is about identifying causes and allocating responsibility for what's happening today. The crises I have been describing are a direct - and in many cases, desired - result of political choices that have been imposed on us, and it is fundamentally important that the underlying ideology be (i) identified and (ii) blamed for what happened, rather than amorphous and uncontrollable things like 'globalization' or 'economic cycles.' There is a crime, there is a culprit, and there is a motive." (Thanks to Bruce F.)

Professor B remembers Jesse Helms. (via)

Charles alerts me that his 2002 article "A Case History in the Culture of Lies: The Washington Post" examines the origins of a number of smears promulgated by that paper, including a section on "The Strange Case of Cynthia McKinney".

I'm not sure, but I think a few more shots have been added to the Striped icebergs page since I last linked it. (Thanks, Rich.)

19:41 BST

I dropped by to pick up a reason

Piege Annette full cup braBra of the Week

This time it's different!

Really, just nobody likes Bush.

Get your bumper stickers here.

Missing scenes from Metropolis found.

Writing on behalf of Conservapedia, Phyllis Schlafly's son contacted an evolutionary biologist to demand the data for his recently published paper about an experiment on beneficial evolution in bacteria. Hilarity ensues.

Julia gets a little help from Steve Gilliard's archives in response to the latest eruption of the fake black Republicans.

An Analysis From The Middle East: It's time for another foray into Watching America to see what the rest of the world is thinking when it comes to the US. Our presidential election campaign is a popular topic, but so is our Middle East policy. The article that drew my attention, however, was a rather interesting look back over the Bush years published July 4 by Middle East Times. The author of the article, Tariq A. al-Maeena, is a Saudi socio/political commentator who talked to Americans about their views of the current administration. Some of his statements are a bit questionable, but on the whole, his conclusions make a lot of sense." (Also: A judge decides that due diligence counts when mortgage lenders don't use any.)

Once upon a time, when oil was $11 a barrel, Osama bin Laden said he wanted to get US troops out of Saudi Arabia, and he wished for oil to be $144 a barrel: "One month after 9/11, the New York Times wrote of possible 'nightmare' scenarios that would deliver bin Laden's goal. Neela Banerjee warned that among the 'misguided decisions' that would put oil supplies at risk would be 'that the United States attacks Iraq.'" Oh, and after 9/11, Bush pulled the troops out of Saudi Arabia. Maybe Osama has died laughing by now.

Buffalo Springfield

01:01 BST

Saturday, 05 July 2008

Internet daze

Paul Rosenberg wonders whether it's time to hold sit-ins in Obama's campaign offices: "Although running to the right after the primary--and losing--is a time-honored tradition in the Democratic Party, many of Obama's supporters were expecting something more from him. And when he spoke of reaching out and bringing people together, they did not envision the unifying cause to be the embracing of Bush/Cheney/Rove lawlessness."

Bob Herbert noticed something wrong amidst the flag-waving, and quotes former Senator David Boren, who said: "The country we love is in trouble. In truth, we are in grave danger of declining as a nation. If we do not act quickly, that decline will become dramatic."

The Independent warns us that military action in Iran would destabilize Iraq. Um, isn't it too late to destabilize Iraq? And, let's face it, attacking Iran would destabilize a whole lot more than just Iraq, anyway.

Jesse Helms remembered by NYCweboy. (Thanks to Julia for the tip.)

Rich, powerful corporations can break the law: "The department's director, Cindy Ehnes, said Thursday that, when it comes to rescissions, the agency has succeeded in forcing smaller insurers to reinstate illegally canceled policies and pay fines, but Blue Cross is too powerful to take on." Next time you sign a contract with a big company, remember: They have a contract; you don't.

You know, Obama could do worse than to take advice from Hecate.

Free speech

17:09 BST

The crazy woman

In comments, bob says:

I have yet to see anyone tell me what's wrong with Cynthia McKinney in concrete terms. It seems to me nobody ever heard of her until she raised impeachment of Bush and from then on she was CUUUUHHHRAAAAAAAAAAAAAZY.
I went looking through my archives for links to related stories, and found that most of those links are now broken. Since this was back in the days when I actually wrote about stuff I linked to, and usually quoted a bit more of it, you might want to go back to my original articles. Let's start with what I think is the first phase of the sudden emergence of full-scale McKinney-hatred in the corporate media, when she made this outrageous statement (scroll down), clearly an unutterable sacrilege:
The need for an investigation of the events surrounding September 11 is as obvious as is the need for an investigation of the Enron debacle. Certainly, if the American people deserve answers about what went wrong with Enron and why (and we do), then we deserve to know what went wrong on September 11 and why.

Are we squandering our goodwill around the world with what many believe to be incoherent, warmongering policies that alienate our friends and antagonize our allies? How much of a role does our reliance on imported oil play in the military policies being put forward by the Bush Administration? And what role does the close relationship between the Bush Administration and the oil and defense industries play, if any, in the policies that are currently being pursued by this Administration?

We deserve to know what went wrong on September 11 and why. After all, we hold thorough public inquiries into rail disasters, plane crashes, and even natural disasters in order to understand what happened and to prevent them from happening again or minimizing the tragic effects when they do. Why then does the Administration remain steadfast in its opposition to an investigation into the biggest terrorism attack upon our nation?

News reports from Der Spiegel to the London Observer, from the Los Angeles Times to MSNBC to CNN, indicate that many different warnings were received by the Administration. In addition, it has even been reported that the United States government broke bin Laden's secure communications before September 11. Sadly, the United States government is being sued today by survivors of the Embassy bombings because, from court reports, it appears clear that the US had received prior warnings, but did little to secure and protect the staff at our embassies.

Did the same thing happen to us again?

It's hard to convey in retrospect just how easily people treated these obvious comments as insane at the time. McKinney was guilty of that greatest of all sins of the moment, conspiracy theory. Looking at the present terrain, it's like a bad joke to remember that even some liberal bloggers fell for it. Even Charles Kuffner (old link dead) disagreed with my defense of McKinney, generating this response from Atrios, and mine is here.

A bit later, I linked here, with lots of quotation, to Rich Proctor's discussion of "Seven true things you can't say on television (or anywhere else)", and Greg Palast's explanation of how that ties up with "The screwing of Cynthia McKinney", which noted, among other things, that McKinney had committed another sin when she decided to look into one of GHWB's new hobbies:

After George Bush Senior left the White House, he became an advisor and lobbyist for a Canadian gold-mining company, Barrick Gold. Hey, a guy's got to work. But there were a couple of questions about Barrick, to say the least. For example, was Barrick's Congo gold mine funding both sides of a civil war and perpetuating that bloody conflict? Only one Congressperson demanded hearings on the matter.
And when they decide to go after someone, you'd be surprised how many people will fall for it.

13:51 BST

News and stuff

A bit of an emergency at Clarion West, where attendees laptops have been stolen: "The students who lost these laptops cannot afford to replace them immediately, but they can't really continue their workshop experience without them; and if you're familiar with Clarion, then you know exactly how tough it is to land a spot - and how demanding, intensive, and rewarding it can be. Most of the students have quit their jobs to attend the 6-week course, and many went to great lengths to raise the money to attend. These are writers. These aren't rich folks who can eat the loss without a blink. Therefore, if anyone in the greater Seattle area would be willing to donate a spare laptop to the Clarion folks, then now's the time to speak up." Or you can send cash through their PayPal link. (Thanks to Scorpio for the heads-up.)

NME is reporting that a US court has ruled that YouTube users' info must be turned over to Viacom. Silicon Republic has more details, saying, "Although Google has been ordered to hand over YouTube data to Viacom, it has emerged that a protective order has been issued and only the media giant's lawyers can access the data to prove piracy." I dont' know what that actually protects you from.

Part two of Melissa and Zuzu's piece on destroying Hillary Clinton.

Uh oh, it looks like Semidi is writing a Declaration of Independence.

IOZ: "Watching vero possumus transmogrify before progressive eyes into status quo ante is less entertaining than it ought to be because it lacks an element of surprise."

11:45 BST

Quick Links

When Joe Klein makes an obvious point and is viciously attacked as an antisemite (!), Glenn Greenwald tackles the issue of "dual loyalties". (But I still don't understand why support for Israel should entail supporting policies that obviously endanger Israel.)

Digby and dday consider General Clark's remarks, and the failure of Democrats to capitalize on them.

In comments, D2 asks* an interesting question: "why is an American company under criminal investigation taking over clinics in a country with a national health care service?"

OK, now they're pretending that Martin Luther King was a Republican.

At Kung Fu Monkey, a consideration of suspension of disbelief when a real drug bust operation falls into the "You can't write this stuff" category.

The wisdom of Secretary of State Rice: "I am proud of the decision of this administration to overthrow Saddam Hussein." Schmuck.

FAIR remembers Russert.

Gotta love her.

A set of photos of the Aurora (via)

02:07 BST

Friday, 04 July 2008

And the children solemnly wait for the ice cream vendor

Barry Crimmins on Alito's dissent in the Supreme Court's recent death penalty decision: "Child abuse thrives when authoritarians rule -- authoritarians like Samuel Alito. Abused kids are already freaked out enough without having bloodthirsty men in robes boohooing their inability to take a life for an eye. Alito has inveighed against compassion at every turn but now we're supposed to believe that this pro-torture reactionary is thinking first of children?" Like me, Barry says having your attacker killed would have made things worse, not better. But he says it with greater length and passion. You should read it. (I wish, though, that he hadn't used the word "pedophiles" interchangeably with "child molesters". Although the two groups do overlap, it's hardly by 100%.)

And speaking of the death penalty, the authorities still appear to want to proceed with an execution even though the guy probably isn't guilty.

How George Bush lost Afghanistan.

The Black Agenda has a candidate I could really get behind...if she only had a prayer.

Pruning Shears: "Here is where we get to the crux of the matter. I hate to put it in such stark and extreme terms, but the question Congress must now answer is, are you with the Constitution or with the President? The two have become irreconcilably opposed."

Dennis Perrin: "If Hitchens is truly serious about experiencing life on the business end of empire, we should arrange to break into his home in the middle of the night, force his family on the floor at gunpoint, yell at him in a language he does not speak, kick him a few times in the balls, hood him, and drag him off to a black site where the waterboarding isn't choreographed ahead of time (and no safety words -- he can save that for his dominatrix), with plenty of beatings, sleep deprivation, and sensory derangement mixed in (a long Waco-style audio tape would be a nice touch, complete with the screams of slaughtered rabbits)." (Also: "Our Special Specialness" as evoked by Obama.) (Thanks to Bruce F.)

This otherwise pedestrian death notice/obit for Jesse Helms has an interesting URL.

20:34 BST

Unhappy 4th of July

raise-your-voice-blue-america.png Jane Hamsher introduces a tool to Whip It Good on FISA - go ahead and click.

Joe Galloway, How dare they rip the Fourth Amendment?: "That such a gutting of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution even made it out of committee is yet another stain on the gutless and seemingly powerless Democratic majority in both houses of Congress. That a majority on both sides of the aisle - not least of them the presumptive nominees for president of both political parties - intend to vote for such a violation of Americans' right to privacy and of the sanctity of their personal communications is a stunning surrender to those who want us to live in fear forever." (via)

Marcy Wheeler explains her biggest problem with Obama's statement on FISA. It's about accountability, and how there is none. Glenn Greenwald concurs: "This expression of Obama's 'intention' has so many equivocations and vague claims as to be worthless. In a society that lives under the rule of law, government officials and corporations which break our laws are held accountable by courts of law, not by vague promises from politicians of some future 'review' and 'recommendation' process grounded in claims that we can trust the Leader to do the right thing, whatever he decides in his sole discretion and infinite wisdom that might be. That is no consolation for blocking courts from adjudicating whether laws were broken here, which is what the bill that Obama supports will do." And this morning's NYT lists FISA among a number of disappointing moves from the New and Not Improved Obama. Philip Klein at The American Spectator finds all of this very hopeful - for McCain.

Paul Krugman says that McCain's reaction to Wesley Clark's comment about whether being a prisoner of war was a qualification for the presidency presages what his presidency would really be: "Rove's Third Term: Al Gore never claimed that he invented the Internet. Howard Dean didn't scream. Hillary Clinton didn't say she was staying in the race because Barack Obama might be assassinated. And Wesley Clark didn't impugn John McCain's military service. Scott McClellan, the former White House press secretary, titled his tell-all memoir "What Happened." But a true account of modern American politics should be titled "What Didn't Happen." Again and again we've had media firestorms over supposedly revealing incidents that never actually took place."

I agree with Melissa that Obama isn't exactly winning the meme wars, here, but realistically, this is like saying that people shouldn't get appendectomies unless they need them. Late-term abortion is risky enough that women don't generally try to get them just because they don't happen to want to be pregnant, but because their babies are already dead or dying, or because their lives are in danger. I spent a lot of time working in the reproductive health field, and I never even heard of a documented case of a woman getting an elective late-term abortion. It may happen, but it's really not an issue; these are therapeutic abortions that fit quite neatly into Obama's definition of when late-term abortion should be allowed.

Greg Sargent says, "Poll: Slightly more see McCain as a flip-flopper: "New numbers from CNN suggest that a substantial majority doesn't buy the McCain-as-straight-talker narrative. The poll finds that 61% say McCain shifts positions for political reasons, though nearly as many (59%) say the same about Obama."

16:31 BST

Bipartisan stupid

Chris Floyd on Three Amigos: Bush, McCain, Obama Draw a Blood-Red Line on Iran:

This Bush-McCain-Obama line was underscored this week by one of Obama's top foreign policy advisers, Anthony Lake, who said "the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is the biggest threat facing the world," the Financial Times reports.

Think of that: the biggest threat facing the world. Bigger than global climate change. Bigger than poverty and disease. Bigger than growing conflicts over shrinking resources. Bigger than terrorism (which was the last greatest biggest threat facing the world). Bigger than organized crime. Bigger than the Terror War operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and Somalia, which continue to spawn so much death, ruin, extremism and economic turmoil. Bigger than all of these -- and all other threats facing the world -- is the prospect that Iran might, in Lake's words, "get on the edge of developing a nuclear weapon."

Dday suspects - I think correctly - that Sy Hersh is trying to warn people in order to prevent a full-scale attack on Iran. But it requires that people take it seriously. It doesn't help to have Democrats repeating the nonsense about how Iran's potential to become a nuclear power is the worst possible thing in the world. It's not even close. With only one exception, no nuclear power has ever used that capability to attack another country rather than as a deterrent, and Iran is extremely unlikely to do so - what would be the point?

11:42 BST

Long days, short nights

URGENT: Your reps should be home now, so you can act locally on FISA if your reps need a push (or if you want to thank them.) Check out the link for a little explanation from eRobin - especially if you have a videocam and know how to upload to YouTube (or know someone who does).

And if you need a reminder of why this is important, Digby helps out.

And I see Obama is insulting me again - go read his flimsy excuses for supporting the creepy FISA bill. (Is it too late to nominate Al Gore?)

I'm lovin' it - The American Family Association is calling for a boycott of McDonald's for "promoting the homosexual agenda." Yeah, that's gonna work. Also: John Conyers tells Rove's lawyer that Rove has to testify, and disappointingly, the very good reporter Dana Priest of the WaPo says you people are crazy for worrying that Bush will attack Iran. I remember when we were crazy for thinking Bush wanted to attack Iraq.

Christopher Hitchens had to get waterboarded to figure out that it is torture. Well, points for doing it and admitting it, but, you know, I don't have to be waterboarded to know it.

This morning I saw that Doug (Stupidest Guy In The World) Feith had an article in the WSJ explaining how they started the war, but I couldn't bring myself to link to it and patched the address into Technorati and found no one else linking to it. So I figured I'd wait, and sure enough, the BooMan took it apart so I don't have to.

This is a cool photo.

01:29 BST

Thursday, 03 July 2008

Skim milk masquerades as cream

I don't know about you, but it sure seems to me like the Bushistas tipped McCain off that the Colombian government was about to rescue the hostages so he could be there for the photo op. Fox is trying to pretend that McCain somehow got them freed, what with his being the expert on being held captive and all. Digby is unimpressed.

A federal judge has rejected the administration claim that a president can trump the law in a wiretapping case: "The judge, Vaughn R. Walker, the chief judge for the Northern District of California, made his findings in a ruling on a lawsuit brought by an Oregon charity. The group says it has evidence of an illegal wiretap used against it by the National Security Agency under the secret surveillance program established by President Bush after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001." I'm surprised that Eric Lichtblau got that wrong - if indeed that wasn't editorial interference. Surely everyone should know by now that the program was not established "after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001," but was instituted months earlier. Don't they? In any case, Diane is jubilant that this judge, who was appointed by GHW Bush, nevertheless decided to give our country this birthday present. (Thers, on the other hand, is not so sure that an America that tortures deserves to celebrate this birthday.)

And I'm surprised that Joe Gandelman, who should know better, responds to news of Rush Limbaugh's big new contract by repeating this falsehood: "He knows how to attract an audience and keep it tuning in. Which IS the name of the game in broadcasting - not winning elections for a party or candidate or being the anti-so-and-so in countering and answering another talk show's broadcasts. Many of Air America's early shows (and some local progressive talk radio hosts) seem to lose sight of this fact. The name of the game is attracting, maintaining and delivering a demographic audience to advertisers." Air America actually drew good audiences for a new network wherever it aired (sometimes rapidly gaining audience share), but over and over again, the owners of the individual stations got bought out by conservatives who promptly killed the AAR feed and turned it into a Spanish-language station, or a sports station, or a Christian station - in markets that were already over-saturated with such stations and did not turn to them to make-up the consequent loss of audience. Even many of those that kept the AAR brand dropped some of its popular shows and substituted less progressive, and less popular, shows instead. (Conversely, it took years for Fox to stop hemorrhaging money, and the network would have died quickly if it had had to survive by commercial means; fortunately for them, Rupert Murdoch was willing to throw tons of cash away on it to keep it going. If Air America had done as badly in its first three years, it would have died a long time ago.)

15:06 BST

The road to grumpiness

Glenn Greenwald: "The issue is that Obama has repeatedly, over the course of the last year, made emphatic commitments and clear statements about his own core political values that are completely irreconcilable with his support for the FISA bill. It's possible to recognize that someone is just a "politician" and still trust that they're essentially telling you the truth about what they think and what they'll do."

Tim Dickinson (who is wrong about Wesley Clark), is right about the people who are surprised by Obama turning out to be something less than they hoped: "Indeed, this was the magic of how he defeated Clinton. He boxed her in on the left on the war and on the right about healthcare and just about everything else. The idea that he was suddenly going to turn into Chris Dodd on the FISA bill is just nonsense. [...] Obama's whole political platform is built around finding common ground that all Americans can feel good about moving toward. In a less attractive package this has been called 'baby splitting' and even 'triangulation.'" Dickinson is also, of course, wrong about things "all Americans can feel good about moving toward." He's not appealing to "all Americans" with things like FISA, he's appealing to right-wing Republicans. He's not appealing to all Americans when he dismisses the idea of single-payer or calls himself a "free trade" guy, either, although I'm sure the Broderites like it. In fact, his position on FISA has no constituency among ordinary voters and is repellent to anyone who understands it, his position on single-payer is at best uninspiring, and his apparent love of "free trade" is sufficiently unpopular that you'd almost think he was trying to throw the election.

I think Obama gave a good answer to the stupid question about why he hadn't talked to Wes Clark about his "inartful" comment, but I gotta say I find it nerve-wracking when I hear him pause and drag in answers to questions like that.

It's just so maverick - Julia has some fun watching the boys reading the tea leaves about the McSame campaign.

Hm. I can't actually find anything in Melissa and Maureen's article that isn't true, but MahaBarb seems to disagree. Sorry, but whatever may have been wrong with Hillary's campaign, there were plenty of right-wing memes, many of them deeply misogynistic, coming out from people who were, or purported to be, Obama supporters. Some of the people who promoted those memes were known progressives, and frankly, I thought they'd lost their minds. Everything that was wrong with Hillary is also wrong with Obama, but for some reason, when she did it, it was evil. And a lot of that is down to just plain sexism. If you want to say you were against Clinton because of her vote on the Iraq resolution, that's one thing - but that's not all people were saying. Even most of the complaints about the "nasty" way she ran her campaign were either sheer fabrication from Axlerod or sexism dressed up as concern for November. (Anyway, I left a comment at Maha's place.)

I have the feeling Kevin Hayden is really pissed off about unaccountable government.

We re-watched "Father's Day" again tonight and I just can't get over how great Shaun Dingwall is in the title role.

03:39 BST

Wednesday, 02 July 2008

Signs and portents

Back when it first came out that the administration was using torture, we talked about how these techniques were principally used by the commies to force false confessions out of people, but now we have documentation that that's just where they got it.

And speaking of the reds, remember when they used to teach us in school about how horrible they were because they had everyone spying on each other?

"Court Majority Refuses to Hold U.S. Officials Accountable for Complicity in Torture Abroad: June 30, 2008, New York - Today, the majority in a federal Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 against Center for Constitutional Rights client Maher Arar's case against U.S. officials for their role in sending him to Syria to be tortured and interrogated for a year under the extraordinary rendition program." Is it any wonder that some people don't want to visit us anymore?

That new Dutch law is causing consternation: "It's absurd. In other countries they look to see whether you have marijuana in your cigarette, here they'll look to see if you've got cigarette in your marijuana." Of course, America has the meanest drug laws in the world and yet still has the highest consumption of drugs. I wonder what causes that, she said archly.

Krugman on The Obama Agenda: "It's feeling a lot like 1992 right now. It's also feeling a lot like 1980. But which parallel is closer? Is Barack Obama going to be a Ronald Reagan of the left, a president who fundamentally changes the country's direction? Or will he be just another Bill Clinton?" I gotta say that I had grumpy thoughts when Obama said that, "the choice in this election is not between left or right, it's not between liberal or conservative, it's between the past and the future." You'd have to be an idiot to choose the kind of future we're looking at right now over the promise of the late '60s and the early '70s. Yes, it all went hideously wrong, but not so wrong, then, that it couldn't be righted. What George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney have done to us may not be fixable. Changing the color of the president isn't going to change that. I sure hope Obama isn't just another Bill Clinton. That's not good enough for what we face now. (Maru has the perfect graphic for what's coming.)

However, more people would prefer to have Obama at their cookout than have J. Sidney McCain.

Yeah, the Republicans would never impugn the military service of a Vietnam Veteran running for president. (More here.)

I hate to resort to this, but - okay, I'm going to hell.

Madam Marie, 93, passes away - You may remember her from when the cops finally busted her for telling fortunes better than they do.

16:23 BST

Facts and stuff

Darcy Burner's campaign for Congress (WA 8th) has hit a little snag with her house burning down, so she needs your help more than ever. If you live in the area, you might want to volunteer for the campaign.

Looks like they passed a nice little law in Texas to promote monopoly capitalism: "A recently passed law requires that Texas computer-repair technicians have a private-investigator license, according to a story posted by a Dallas-Fort Worth CW affiliate. [...] Some of the area's larger companies already employee technicians with PI licenses, a fact which generally doesn't apply to small computer repair shops."

Monkeyfister is pretty worried about the market's Strong Movement At High Volume. Some people want to tell you that we shouldn't talk about this stuff because we'll just create market jitters - as if what's going on right now is just jitters - but those folks just want to con more suckers who might take the wretched paper off their hands. It's not like that. As Atrios said yesterday in a slightly different context, "Those foreclosures are real, those loans aren't being paid back, and all of the investors who bought CDOs are going to be getting a bit less than 100 cents on the dollar. There's really no chance that the housing market will suddenly rebound, that prices will appreciate 30%, that people trapped in mortgages they can't repay - some due to crazy lending terms, some simply because they have big mortgages they could never afford - will cease to be underwater and be able to refinance or sell." Yes, the market is superstitious, and that is in large part what helps inflate these incessant bubbles (well, that and outright lies and stupidity), but it's not just superstition that's causing the bubbles to pop - it's a confrontation with hard reality.

Arthur Silber is inspired by McCain's offer of a pile of cash to develop a hot new battery.

Kill the Gun is an interesting one-minute spot.

13:42 BST

Tuesday, 01 July 2008

Learning curves

Glenn Greenwald has a little list of the dumb, counterproductive things Obama has done in the past two weeks. (But he's been doing this stuff all along - it has been a glaring characteristic of his campaign, and I'm sorry some of you managed not to notice it.) Glenn says:

A presidential election is a unique time when Americans are engaged in a discussion over our collective political values (at least more engaged than any other time). Why would anyone watch the Obama campaign use this opportunity to perpetuate and reinforce this narrative, and watch Obama embrace polices that are the precise antithesis of the values he espoused in the past, and not criticize or object to that? Criticisms of that sort aren't unhealthy or counter-productive. They're the opposite. Of course one ought to object if a political candidate -- even Barack Obama -- is advocating policies that trample on one's core political values or promulgating toxic narratives. That's particularly true since his doing so isn't necessary to win; it's actually more likely to have the opposite effect.

There is no question, at least to me, that having Obama beat McCain is vitally important. But so, too, is the way that victory is achieved and what Obama advocates and espouses along the way. Feeding distortions against someone like Wesley Clark in order to please Joe Klein and his fact-free media friends, or legalizing warrantless eavesdropping and protecting joint Bush/telecom lawbreaking, or basing his campaign on demonizing and 1960s anti-war hippies, is quite harmful in many long-lasting ways. Electing Barack Obama is a very important political priority but it isn't the only one there is, and his election is less likely, not more likely, the more homage he pays to these tired, status-quo-perpetuating Beltway pieties.

Glenn also has a video from Russ Feingold thanking us for supporting his efforts to stop the new FISA bill. (Obama, on the other hand, thanked MoveOn for their support of his campaign by attacking them.)

It's already being called "The Lewis Carroll decision" because it compares administration excuses to "The Hunting of the Snark." This good news is even better than it looks. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously found that the administration has no business holding someone for six years as an "enemy combatant" when they have no evidence. What makes it so extra good? This is David Sentelle's court, and there aren't many judges who've worked harder on behalf of right-wing, partisan outrages and repressive policies. If even Sentelle couldn't find an excuse for this one, there may just be hope for the country - assuming McCain stays out of the White House, because he thought keeping innocent people indefinitely incarcerated, and torturing them, was good enough to vote for.

McJoan has a good article up at DKos on how Congress is poised to make the United States officially a lawless society - and what you can do to try to stop them. (I quite like the idea of printing the bill out and getting hold of your Senators and making them read it.)

Lieberman's approval ratings in Connecticut have been pretty bad lately, but they're even more pathetic since he started campaigning for McShame.

Gary has an idea for a game - maybe they should just ask, "Is there anything Hitler did that a president of the United States can't do?"

20:48 BST

The legacy

Andrew J. Bacevich has a smart piece in The Boston Globe this morning, "What Bush hath wrought, that contains a depressing list of the horrors:

  • Defined the contemporary era as an "age of terror" with an open-ended "global war" as the necessary, indeed the only logical, response;
  • Promulgated and implemented a doctrine of preventive war, thereby creating a far more permissive rationale for employing armed force;
  • Affirmed - despite the catastrophe of Sept. 11, 2001 - that the primary role of the Department of Defense is not defense, but power projection;
  • Removed constraints on military spending so that once more, as Ronald Reagan used to declare, "defense is not a budget item";
  • Enhanced the prerogatives of the imperial presidency on all matters pertaining to national security, effectively eviscerating the system of checks and balances;
  • Preserved and even expanded the national security state, despite the manifest shortcomings of institutions such as the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff;
  • Preempted any inclination to question the wisdom of the post-Cold War foreign policy consensus, founded on expectations of a sole superpower exercising "global leadership";
  • Completed the shift of US strategic priorities away from Europe and toward the Greater Middle East, the defense of Israel having now supplanted the defense of Berlin as the cause to which presidents and would-be presidents ritually declare their fealty.
So, he has questions about how Obama will handle this. As do we all.

And now go check out this post from Charles Pierce, in which he delivers many interesting links, as well as a bit of history about how the DNC dropped the ball when they could have stopped Gingrich before he blossomed into a full-fledged disaster.

14:14 BST

Media cocktail

Idiot interviews pop star - After Jimmy Buffett makes clear that he opposed the invasion of Iraq and says, "Anybody who makes policy in this country oughta have to walk by the Vietnam memorial on the way to work," Ann Oldenburg asks, "So why not vote for Vietnam vet John McCain?" Unfortunately, Buffett didn't have the guts to ask her what she's smokin'.

News Corpse: "Clark's comments will no doubt be controversial, but the reality is that living in a hut for five years, far removed from any management or policy development responsibilities, does not prepare one for executive leadership positions. McCain has other experience to promote, like his tenure in the Senate, but if he is considered to be qualified to be president solely on the basis of his time spent in jail, then Martha Stewart is qualified to be his Attorney General and Snoop Dogg his Secretary of State. (via) General Clark does have the relevant experience of commanding a successful military operation, and when he speaks on this subject, you're listening to an expert. The Republicans know that, which is why they don't want you to listen to him.

Too little, too late, Keith: One of the loathsome facts about Joe Lieberman and other Republican "moderates" is that they do a lot of public shuffle about supporting sane policies - up to and including what look like sane floor votes - but first they do all the procedural junk they can to make sure that only the crazy stuff passes. The time to stop telecom immunity was before the cloture vote on the new FISA bill. And an Obama administration cannot bring criminal prosecutions against people who have already been given a full pardon by his predecessor. I'm afraid Logan Murphy has been getting too much of his information from his television set. Greenwald is absolutely right on this: It's civil suits or nothing. Even some commenters who used to give me a hard time about not sharing their crush on Obama are getting it.

CMike reminds me that Tim Russert had a fine comedy role in The Power of Nightmares. Over here, we were incredulous when we realized this is what you'd been seeing on your TVs back home. Watch the first few minutes of this for the Pentagon's James Bond fantasy. (If you haven't seen it, you might want to watch the whole thing.)

To my surprise, Marc Maron sat in for Thom Hartmann yesterday (and will again tomorrow). You can listen to the first, second, and third hour at Green 960.

11:48 BST

The truth is out there

Laura Rozen has some interesting analysis of Sy Hersh's latest piece on Iran. Via Suburban Guerrilla, where I was also alerted to more freedom on the march in the United States.

Al Franken doesn't seem to be doing that well in Minnesota polls, alas. (via)

The McLaughlin Group asks, " Is The Media Smitten With McCain?" M'God!

Among the many words that the right-wing has ruined, there is "opportunity".

Dday says "I told you so: I was pretty sure that the press would deliberately misinterpret, intentionally clip and generally get wrong Wes Clark's statements about John McCain's military service. Egged on by the conservative noise machine, they ginned up this controversy and set their outrage meters to 11. There must be a run on pearls in Washington today with all of them being clutched. Joe Klein actually went ahead and called it "bad manners." In a political campaign. Good Jeebus. [...] What I wanted to see was how the Obama campaign would handle this. McCain and the conservative outrage machine wanted to pick a fight, divide Clark from the Democratic Party, make his comments radioactive and allow his opponent to once again fold like a cheap suit. They didn't disappoint." And so Wes Clark, apparently, joins "The Left", bloggers, liberals, MoveOn, Baby-Boomers (especially women), Trinity Church, civil libertarians, and the Black Caucus out here in Coventry.

The Washingtonian referred to Tim Russert's place on Cape Cod as a "cottage". Here's the cottage. This and other exciting examples of Tim Russert's life as a Regular Guy at The Daily Howler.

I'm not a big J.G. Ballard fan, myself, but Paul McAuley notes that someone has posted Home, the BBC4 adaptation of Ballard's "The Enormous Room", on YouTube. (Also, this looks neat.)

01:47 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, July 2008

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