The Sideshow

Archive for June 2007

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Saturday, 30 June 2007

Stops on the Infobahn

Wet rose and bug.

William Powers has a review in the NYT of Norman Pearlstine's OFF THE RECORD: The Press, the Government, and the War Over Anonymous Sources, in which he explains how he changed his mind about allowing Patrick Fitzgerald to have Matt Cooper's notes: "Though Mr. Cooper felt he had promised to protect his administration sources, Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby Jr., Mr. Pearlstine came to believe those men didn't qualify as true confidential sources. After all, they were hardly the honorable whistle-blowers journalists are supposed to protect, but rather part of an effort to undermine a whistle-blower, Joseph C. Wilson IV, Ms. Wilson's husband and a former ambassador. And Mr. Cooper had sent e-mail messages within the Time organization, discussing Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby as sources, effectively compromising their confidentiality." That's the view I held all along, and I wish Time had recognized the necessity of that position from the start. Trying to frame the situation otherwise actually threatened the very idea of a legitimate journalist's shield against blowing the whistle on whistle-blowers. And if Time had held to that position to begin with, it might have dissuaded The New York Times from following that path, too.

Rorschach alerts me that Turkey is threatening to invade northern Iraq if either the Iraqi government or the US doesn't "dislodge" Kurdish guerrillas from their mountain stronghold.

Madison Guy says "Sicko turns film critics into health care concern trolls." I particularly liked the reviewer who imagines that Michael Moore is behind the times because the Democrats are talking about healthcare and are going to fix it now or something.

Taylor Marsh on the obliviousness of Democrats to the power of broadcast radio.

Greg Sargent praises Elizabeth Edwards, both for her calm explanation to Wolf Blitzer of what's wrong with Ann Coulter, and for the fact that the Edwards campaign is fighting back.

"A Reversal of Fortune for Bush's Political Capital" by Sheryl Gay Stolberg in the NYT, saying that Bush's grip on his party is slipping. Well, sure, but all that means is that they're voting the same way on most issues, but not just to please him.

Neo-racism and Roberts' New Rules of Order.

23:27 BST

As seen on TV - or not

Jamison Foser, "Why pay the bigot when you can get the bile for free? - MSNBC fired Ann Coulter in 1996, but she's still getting plenty of air-time from them as a guest. This week, the excuse is that she has a new book out - but lots of people have new books out and mysteriously don't get airtime on the talk shows. For example, Glenn Greenwald, best-selling author of How Would A Patriot Act? has a new book out, A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency. How many talk shows have you seen him on? And then there's Joe Conason, whose It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush hasn't exactly sent him on the rounds of talk shows, has it? (Why, he hasn't even been on The Daily Show. What's up with that?)

And, speaking of people who don't seem to be on television much, how about a real thinker, like, say, Ted Sorenson? Like Pat Buchanan, he was once a presidential speech-writer, but unlike Pat Buchanan, who has his own show, he actually has a vision of the America we love. "Hmmm, imagine if Al Gore were to hook up with Ted Sorenson in 2007...."

17:00 BST

Don't worry too much, it'll happen to you

I don't know about you, but the best news of my morning was that Congress refused to renew fast-track, a disastrous policy that has helped impoverish workers both at home and abroad. Lori Wallach writes the obituary, but I sure hope no one pulls the stake out.

Digby points us to a good post by Robert Borosage on why the Democratic leadership needs to push the fact that the Republicans are obstructing all the popular legislation the Democrats have been passing: "Conservatives boast about the "success" of their strategy in discrediting the new majority. As Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., put it, "the strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail. So far it's working for us." How is it working? It's dragging the reputation of the Congress down to the level of the failed president. Conservatives lie in the road of progress and then complain that nothing is moving. This values partisan posturing over reforms vital to the country. It must be challenged. It's time to take the gloves off." Join in petitioning Harry Reid to "force a real filibuster. Keep the bills on the floor and force vote after vote, exposing the obstructionists. We'll organize in states across the country to insure that their constituents know exactly who is standing in the way of progress." Refusing to take issues to the floor because you don't have the votes means allowing the Republicans to do their dirty work on the quiet. Make 'em hold a real filibuster that America can see in all its glory - and hear what they use as "debate" to prevent passage of those popular bills.

Jay Rosen is less than impressed with the coverage of the journalism and activism of the web at Mother Jones.

Bill Moyers On Murdoch and why we really don't want him taking over The Wall Street Journal, which may have a crackpot editorial page but still has a crack news team - so far.

Simulated you.

"The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys" [Update: Live version, Pt.1 and Pt.2.]

14:19 BST

Lazy blogging

A few interesting links Rich dropped into a comment thread below

A report from Citizens for Tax Justice, "Corporate Income Taxes in the Bush Years", showing that they've pretty much avoided paying anything for the massive benefits they reap from our system: In the fall of 2001, corporate lobbyists descended upon Washington, D.C. to try to turn our nation's bad fortune to their companies' advantage. They sought huge new tax breaks, even refunds of taxes paid in the past. Major accounting firms assisted in the lobbying, and also redoubled their efforts to market offshore tax shelters to their corporate clients, even recommending renunciation of their U.S. citizenship. They told companies, in Ernst & Young's infamous phrase, that "the improvement on earnings is powerful enough that maybe the patriotism issue needs to take a back seat." The result is that nearly 100 companies are paying 0.0% or less in taxes.

"Judge Tells RIAA: Irreparable Harm Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means ... In denying the RIAA's request to have the University of New Mexico simply hand over info on someone using their network (without letting that individual fight back against the request for info), the judge notes: 'While the Court does not dispute that infringement of a copyright results in harm, it requires a Coleridgian "suspension of disbelief" to accept that the harm is irreparable, especially when monetary damages can cure any alleged violation.' However, the judge argues, turning over someone's private info without giving them a chance to defend themselves and protest could cause irreparable harm: 'the harm related to disclosure of confidential information in a student or faculty member's Internet files can be equally harmful.'"

A Map of Europe through time - you can click the arrows to bring it forward or backward, and click quadrant squares to change the view.

12:17 BST

Somebody holds the key

I regard Steve Winwood's "Can't Find My Way Home" as one of the best songs of all time, and I always thought it was perfect just the way it was on the original Blind Faith album, but when I got the deluxe version of the CD and discovered that there had been two different arrangements cut in the studio, I was astonished to learn that I actually loved them both. Some kind soul has posted both versions together, and if you've never heard the latter - or, worse, are unfamiliar with the song - go listen for a real treat. (Hell, listen anyway, just because it's always good to hear it.

And, to my further delight, I have found two more arrangements on YouTube by Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, and Nathan East, one at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto and the other at Shoreline Amphitheater in San Francisco from 1988. I just listened to all four one after another, and didn't get bored.

03:15 BST

Looking for Atticus

Scott Horton in Harper's on Justice in Alabama:

But the Georgia Thompson case is not the worst. Far, far more troubling still is the conviction of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman in a prosecution in Montgomery. When this case got started, I was ready to accept what those Montgomery jurors did - namely, what on earth could be surprising about allegations that a political figure sells appointments for money? Isn't that indeed just the way our system works? And shouldn't we throw the book at them when they're caught doing it? Truth is, I never much cared for Mr. Siegelman anyway.

In the meantime, however, I have spent over a month looking at this case. I have spoken with a number of journalists who covered the trial, pulled out and read the transcripts, talked to figures involved in the case. And I have received tips and messages from Alabamians who are trying feverishly to spin the case one way or the other. My conclusion: I have no idea whether in the end of the day, Mr. Siegelman is guilty or innocent of corruption. But that the prosecution was corruptly conceived and pursued and that the court proceedings were corrupted, almost from the outset: that is already extremely clear. This is not a prosecution of a political figure for corruption. It is a political vendetta, conceived, developed and pursued for a corrupt purpose.


The curtain was pulled back on this plan when Dana Jill Simpson, a Republican lawyer who previously worked on a campaign against Siegelman, decided to blow the whistle. [...]

The response to Simpson's affidavit has been a series of brusque dismissive statements - all of them unsworn - from others who figured in the discussion and the federal prosecutor in the Siegelman case, who has now made a series of demonstrably false statements concerning the matter. She's been smeared as "crazy" and as a "disgruntled contract bidder." And something nastier: after her intention to speak became known, Simpson's house was burned to the ground, and her car was driven off the road and totaled. Clearly, there are some very powerful people in Alabama who feel threatened. Her case starts to sound like a chapter out of John Grisham's book The Pelican Brief. However, those who have dismissed Simpson are in for a very rude surprise. Her affidavit stands up on every point, and there is substantial evidence which will corroborate its details.

That's just the nut of it, but I recommend the whole thing. (And thanks for the tip, Rich.)

00:55 BST

Friday, 29 June 2007

Something to make us feel better

Who could have predicted that putting right-wing crackpots on the Supreme Court would result in right-wing decisions? Not the editors of The Washington Post.

At first glance Broder seems to be admitting that Cheney is a bad man, but ... Oh, man, what's the use? Just go read Josh and Atrios on the subject.

Keith Olbermann and David Shuster on subpoenas and executive privilege.

Why Dr. Scott has given up on the Gulf Coast and finally said, "Enough." (via)

I like the new layout at BTC News, where Weldon is talking about healthcare, in "Health care in America is un-American" and "If national health care sucks, why do people like it?" - with more promised.

Jeralyn says the Plame verdict has been reissued with Karl Rove's name unredacted. More importantly, however, she reminds us that it gets lonely doing Holiday Weekend Blogging: Give the Gift of Traffic. That is, don't forget to visit some blogs, and link a lot of if you're a blogger yourself.

Live Winwood: "Dear Mr. Fantasy".

23:52 BST

Assorted links

I just heard Thom Hartmann talking about the Dem debate where our leading characters were asked how they account for the fact that white highschool drop-outs have a lower unemployment rate than black highschool graduates. And they all talked about education. I wish someone had said, "Did you hear the question?" *sigh*

Was Al Gore waiting for those New Hampshire poll numbers? Andy Ostroy thinks so: "On Air America Radio's "Sam and Army" program Thursday morning co-host Sam Greenfield said he has learned that Al Gore has instructed the Harry Walker Agency to cancel all of his scheduled speaking engagements for the next six months, indicating that the former VP has decided to seek the presidency in 2008. "I guess he's running," Greenfield said. If this story is true, then it certainly would be a very strong sign that The Goracle is indeed getting ready to announce his candidacy...which I've said many times here will occur by October. Stay tuned..."

When Elizabeth Edwards called in to a television show to ask Ann Coulter - who had made fun of the death of the Edwards' son and said she favored John Edwards being killed in a terrorist attack - to damp down the rhetoric, the right-wing went up in arms to complain that Edwards was advocating censorship and claiming it's all about an evil liberal plot to restore the Fairness Doctrine. John Amato responds. (John Edwards: "I applaud Elizabeth.")

A Night Light: "That's why some people misunderstand why there's room for a possible Michael Bloomberg candidacy. If Bloomberg's campaign gains traction, it won't be because people are looking for someone who will split the difference between Democratic and Republican positions. It will be because he takes clear stands on issues. Right to choose? He's for it. Gun control? He's for it. Fiscal responsibility? He's for it. It's true that he's a blank slate right now on foreign policy issues, but Bloomberg could appeal to "antipartisan" swing voters -- not because he parses his words, but because he says what's on his mind." (via)

"How The USS Vincennes Killed My High School Biology Lab Partner" - Jonathan Schwarz with some background to the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, and the trail of violence.

"Laissez-faire Is More" - John Updike on depression revisionism, in The New Yorker. (Thanks to D.)

18:28 BST

Potatoes and oranges

For those who couldn't get the Wanker of the Day link from Eschaton earlier, try this one for Roy Edroso's take on the latest eruptions of overt racism from America's moral leaders.

And, of course, it's not really just about racism - that's just the best wedge for giving all power to the corporation. I hate it just as much as anyone else does when I jump in a cab and tell the driver where I want to go, only to discover that his referents to the English language and the local landscape make communication impossible. ("What is 'Port Authority'?") And I hate as much as anyone else does the suggestion that Americans should go without jobs so that foreigners can be paid far less than is necessary to live a decent life in the United States.

But we already have laws on the books that are supposed to prevent huge influxes of unskilled workers - and if they aren't being enforced, what good will new ones do?

Besides, it's hardly just those illegal immigrants who are responsible for the fact that America's employers are leaving the country, reneging on contracts, out-sourcing jobs, and treating the remaining American workers like peons.

(Does any reasonable person believe that, if a vital position has such a high threshold of requirements for the job that no American can meet it, that person should be paid less than what an American would command to do the same job? I think we should insist that people who get HB-1 visas for non-name jobs should always be paid more than the regular market value of whatever the position is, on the grounds that, surely, the rarity and necessity of their capabilities should be rewarded accordingly. If you're paying an engineer who speaks only English $80,000 a year, surely an engineer in the same category and with the same engineering abilities who "must speak three languages" should be getting much, much more.)

We'd actually be better off if we offered a prize of automatic citizenship to any undocumented worker who could prove they had been illegally hired by an employer in America - and then made sure to arrest that employer and prosecute them to the full extent of the law. (Increasing penalties might help, too.)

But, as I say, illegal immigration is just one little thing, and the current debate is largely a red herring - otherwise, no one would be talking about building a wall.

16:47 BST

He's begging for it

In Slate, Bruce Fein says:

Impeach Cheney:The vice president has run utterly amok and must be stopped. [...] The House judiciary committee should commence an impeachment inquiry. As Alexander Hamilton advised in the Federalist Papers, an impeachable offense is a political crime against the nation. Cheney's multiple crimes against the Constitution clearly qualify.
He has a nice enumeration of some of Cheney's more appalling transgressions. Such as:
The vice president initiated kidnappings, secret detentions, and torture in Eastern European prisons of suspected international terrorists. This lawlessness has been answered in Germany and Italy with criminal charges against CIA operatives or agents. The legal precedent set by Cheney would justify a decision by Russian President Vladimir Putin to kidnap American tourists in Paris and to dispatch them to dungeons in Belarus if they were suspected of Chechen sympathies.
Not a point that's been lost on the people of other nations who suddenly see themselves at the mercy of some maniac in Washington.
In the end, President Bush regularly is unable to explain or defend the policies of his own administration, and that is because the heavy intellectual labor has been performed in the office of the vice president. Cheney is impeachable for his overweening power and his sneering contempt of the Constitution and the rule of law.
And so is Bush, for ceding his authority to this psychopath and failing in his duty to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

(Thanks to D. Potter for the tip.)

12:03 BST

Media notes

A taste of their own poison: No More Mister Nice Blog reports that, once again, when the right-wing noise machine attacks politicians who don't vote the way they want, they get threats. Only this time, it's other right-wingers who are on the receiving end. (Also: A Field Guide to Several Men Named Beck.)

Alterman has two articles about the media's campaign of character assassination on Al Gore, "The Assault on Reality" in The Nation, and "The Assault on Reality, Part II" at CAP.

CNN had an accident and let Nir Rosen come on to tell the truth about the mess the US made by sending thugs in to overturn the democratically elected Hamas government. (Meanwhile, National Review's Rod Dreher finds out at the age of 40 that war is bad.)

Katha Pollitt went and saw Knocked Up (don't ask me why) and she has a few things to say by way of a review about "a raunchfest with a family-values core --- carrying on with accidental pregnancies, marriage as responsible adulthood, staying together for the sake of the kids." (via) (She also recommends Dana Stevens' article about Hollywood's odd relationship with abortion.)

03:31 BST

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Dirty things

Laura McGann says there are more questions about the political nature of the prosecution of Don Siegelman, just leaving aside the fact that the prosecution seems to want his sentence to include time for crimes he was acquitted of.

Mary Beth Williams remembers a little detail about Klamath that the WaPo left out.

Steve Clemons: "If the Vice President thinks that there is no authority to which he reports, then he has committed a high crime against this nation and its democracy."

A reader of Altercation writes that the SacBee is hustling for pro-Bush letters for its letter page. And Eric wants to know why the NYT seems so uninterested in the story of how the health of people who helped in the 9/11 emergency was endangered by deliberate dishonesty on the part of government officials.

What kind of people think privatized medicine is a good thing? Idiots.

How not to hire qualified American workers. (Thanks to Rich for the tip.)

23:59 BST

A passel of links

Clinton Leads in New Hampshire but Gore Would Win "A new Suffolk University poll in New Hampshire shows Sen. Hillary Clinton leading among likely primary voters with 37% support, followed by Sen. Barack Obama with 19%, John Edwards at 9%, and Bill Richardson at 9%. Key finding: 'The only obstacle for Clinton in the Democratic primary is Al Gore. Twenty-nine percent of Clinton voters would switch to Gore if he announced for president, and when all of the switches from other Democratic candidates were recalculated, Gore would defeat Clinton.'"

Media Matters: "While Media Matters for America is pleased with PBS' announcement this morning that discredited Republican pollster Frank Luntz will not appear on its Thursday-night programming, PBS has yet to address the fundamental problem with its choice of Luntz to participate in analysis of the PBS forum."

At The Left Coaster, "What Do We Owe the Iraqis?", "Dear Dr. Dean, Our Bloggers Need Help", and why our economy is great because a few more people are rich.

Voting machine companies and Microsoft tried to sneak Trojan horse clauses into new legislation in New York, to get around the state's strong voter integrity laws, but citizens stood up and stopped them.

Pat Leahy issues lots of subpoenas, says this administration worse than Nixon.

Even Tucker Carlson Realizes Rudy Is Dissembling About Bill's Terror Record.

12:30 BST

A little night linkage

Neocon driven mad by facts, has temper tantrum, in net neutrality discussion with technology experts.

Digby and Wolcott both much enjoyed Johann Hari's delightful trip on The Hate Boat.

Illustrating the obvious - because our talking heads are beyond parody.

"We made war on poverty" - and though Reagan claimed we'd lost, he was wrong. But that was then.

"Bush's Mistake and Kennedy's Error" - Michael Shermer in Scientific American on self-deception and self-justification.

I'm sure we must be the greatest nation at something - oh, maybe it's stuff like this.

The first Parliamentary reading of the new Criminal Justice Bill was Tuesday. The "extreme pornography" clause is here. They've obviously narrowed it quite a bit to make it seem less stupid, but it's still just another law that will cause new problems without solving any.

02:29 BST

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

In the papers

I see the WaPo gave real estate in today's paper to a couple of conservative flacks to "explain" the current politics of a further sell-off of the electromagnetic spectrum, and, naturally, they're saying that net neutrality is "a bad idea". Of course, it's only a bad idea for people who want to gouge profits out of a system that, paid for and developed by our taxes and user innovation, has flourished under net neutrality. If there's one thing these "free-market" types hate, it's the idea of having to compete in the market as it is rather than having the rules jimmied to give them an unfair advantage.

Also in the WaPo, Sally Quinn imagines that principled Republicans will ask Dick Cheney to leave office, and Dick Cheney will do what they ask. Get a load of how she recommends his replacement, too: "That leaves Fred Thompson. Everybody loves Fred. He has the healing qualities of Gerald Ford and the movie-star appeal of Ronald Reagan. He is relatively moderate on social issues. He has a reputation as a peacemaker and a compromiser. And he has a good sense of humor." Actually, he has a reputation as a lobbyist, but he also has a reputation as an actor, and we know how Republicans feel about hyping actors who happen to be Republican for major office. It worked so good before! Eugene Robinson doesn't seem to think Cheney is going anywhere, but he seems to think you can't impeach Bush because then you'd have Cheney as president. Doesn't he know you can impeach them both? Why not? They have conspired together to destroy the country, so try and convict them together. Froomkin seems to think Cheney is a dead issue, but I think it's a mistake to think he isn't dangerous every single day he is still in office rather than in prison.

In the NYT, Adam Nagourney and Megan Thee discuss a new poll that says younger Americans are "leaning left" - more liberal on social issues and more supportive of the Democratic party. But they are also more optimistic about the possibility of a successful solution in Iraq. Go figure.

I guess it's a relief to be rid of Blair, but it's not to early to deluge Brown with letters about how evil the idea of a national ID card really is. Hoggart thinks it's the Oscars.

In other UK news, doctors are talking about making it easier to get an abortion, and people are trying to make the most of the last days of smoking at the pub.

15:14 BST

The secretive master

"Leaving No Tracks" continues the series on how Richard Bruce Cheney put his stamp on every aspect of this administration, this time concentrating on how he used his extensive knowledge of how our government works - er, worked - to up-end science in order to impose business-friendly attacks on the environment:

The survival of two imperiled species of fish was at stake.

Law and science seemed to be on the side of the fish. Then the vice president stepped in.

First Cheney looked for a way around the law, aides said. Next he set in motion a process to challenge the science protecting the fish, according to a former Oregon congressman who lobbied for the farmers.

Because of Cheney's intervention, the government reversed itself and let the water flow in time to save the 2002 growing season, declaring that there was no threat to the fish. What followed was the largest fish kill the West had ever seen, with tens of thousands of salmon rotting on the banks of the Klamath River.

Characteristically, Cheney left no tracks.

Now, there is something to be said for protecting Oregon farmers from being driven out of business by drought, but what's interesting here is that when Cheney couldn't find a legitimate way to do it quietly, his answer was to attack science - to pretend that reality would not deliver those tens of thousands of salmon to rot on the banks of the Klamath.

If there's one thing Cheney has proven to be a master at, it's saying things that are demonstrably not true in order to impose his will and make people behave as if he is making sense.

Yet pretty much everything Cheney says defies credulity. The very suggestion that Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden, that he was capable of attacking the United States any time soon or even interested in doing so, was laughable. Why wasn't it laughed out of our public discourse?

But much of Cheney's work, as this article details, is behind the scenes. He prefers it that way:

A rarely invoked panel of seven Cabinet officials, known informally as the "God Squad," is empowered by the statute to determine that economic hardship outweighs the benefit of protecting threatened wildlife. But after discussing the option with Smith, Cheney rejected that course. He had another idea, one that would not put the administration on record as advocating the extinction of endangered or threatened species.
So, aside from anything else, there may have been a better way to do it, but Cheney simply made it clear that he wanted the science to lie for him.

Not that it matters, since there would have been two opposed economic arguments:

Last summer, the federal government declared a "commercial fishery failure" on the West Coast after several years of poor chinook returns virtually shut down the industry, opening the way for Congress to approve more than $60 million in disaster aid to help fishermen recover their losses. That came on top of the $15 million that the government has paid Klamath farmers since 2002 not to farm, in order to reduce demand.
And that's just one little thing.

11:51 BST

Open windows

Rick Perlstein asked Dinesh D'Souza what he's doing chumming up with Sun Myung Moon's gang, and D'Souza said, "I don't know that much about Moon." But John Gorenfeld says that's not true. (Thanks to Cell Whitman for the tip.)

Eric Boehlert on the WaPo's love affair with Scooter Libby: "I'm nervous Post opinion writers are this close to organizing noisy sidewalk protests on Libby's behalf."

Jon Carroll: "Soon, civics classes will be taught a revised version of our precious system of checks and balances. There's the administrative, the legislative, the judicial and the cheney. The exact function and duties of the cheney are unknown. The cheney does not report to the president because that would be a violation of the separation of powers. The cheney just does what it does because it is what it is." Ann Telnaes illustrates. (Thanks to D. Potter for the tip.)

I keep seeing things on the web that suggest that Senator Richard Lugar is talking the get-out-of-Iraq talk, but Bill Scher says the headlines really should say, "Lugar Calls For 'Sustainable Military Posture' In Iraq."

Unequal Protection is Thom Hartmann's book explaining how corporations got to be people.

Colbert has The Word on Cheney: Fourth Branch.

Is Flickr "safe"?

01:34 BST

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

I am brought low

It is the dentist. Ouch. So read:

22:19 BST

Morning reading

The third part of Becker and Gellman's series on the secret emperor is out with the story on how Cheney is the architect of our ruined economy: "The president is "the decider," as Bush puts it, but the vice president often serves up his menu of choices."

Oh, look, right-wing creeps in the Justice Department's civil rights division illegally intervened before the 2004 election to try to get a judge to allow illegal caging in Ohio.

John Amato has posted the audio clip of Rachel Maddow's interview with John Dean in which he says, "Let me tell you the fastest way to get him to comply. Cut off his salary. Cut off his salary for all of his staff. And the Congress has the power to do that." Not that he needs the money. I wonder if his staff does. (Also: MSNBC's David Shuster Grills A Cheney Apologist, commits good journalism.)

Why would Tom Coburn want to stop the Emmett Till Unsolved Crimes bill?

So who did PBS pick to offer their response to the Democratic Forum? Frank Luntz, GOP frame-crafter and push-poller. Media Matters wants to help you do something about it. (C&L has a clip about Luntz.)

It just seems strange that we are getting all this stuff in the conservative Washington Post telling us that life will be horrible if we let Al Gore convince us to get better fuel mileage. I bought a car in 1977 that averaged about 50mpg (and kept it on the road until I moved here in 1985, at which time I left it in my father's hands - he didn't take very good care of it, but it was another decade before he traded it in). That average is for frequent trips into Washington as well as suburban driving; it did even better than that on interstates. I did not find this a hardship, and my life certainly was not made drab by it. What kind of mileage are you getting?

Some folks are looking for ways to address the fact that The Press Pretends We Don't Care.

Digby on good reasons to hate the Gang of 14 and the re-emergence of Jim Wilkinson.

August J. Pollak on Iran.

11:53 BST

Monday, 25 June 2007

I hate the weather

Kevin Hayden has a nice little round-up post that includes a link to Ian Welsh's Depressionomics at Firedoglake. I think he's on to something, and it may be worse than that.

David Broder defines the politics out of politics: "More than that, there is a palpable hunger among the public for someone who will attack the problems facing the country -- the war in Iraq, immigration, energy, health care -- and not worry about the politics." Broder's answer to this problem is apparently to get non-partisans into the White House so that we can all have a nice Woodstock Nation in which everyone in Congress will make nice. Keep 'em laughing, Dave!

Ezra: "Whenever anyone talks about regime change in Iran, the standard liberal response should be "remember Cuba." Not only have the same tactics failed to bring democracy, but there's ample evidence that they've substantially contributed to the survival of the regime, and that Castro purposefully arouses our ire whenever he feels his hold on power slipping." (Also: No one saw it coming.)

Isn't it interesting how they're against Islamofascists except when they're for them?

Frank Rich: They'll Break the Bad News on 9/11 - The magical month of September seems to be developing a different theme, but Rich implores American this time to pay attention. (Also: Cheney Pardons Libby.)

At Amygdala, all the bad things you suspected about the "grassroots" immigration movement turn out to be true. (Note: There is another grassroots movement that gets no juice because it's inconvenient.) Also, why Newsweek needs to hire Gary Farber.

23:59 BST


I want to second Alice in her view that campaign finance reform (at least as it is formulated under McCain-Feingold) is at best a red herring:

Campaign donations are just the tip of the influence peddling iceberg. Campaigns do not set the national agenda, merely conduct a referendum on who gets to gets to govern based on the current terms of debate. For example right wing stink tanks insert their operatives into every major press outlet. This is but one of many ways special interests pervert our national discourse. In order to take it back we need to empower ordinary citizens.
It actually doesn't matter if there are no donations at all as long as the media - particularly the broadcast media - continue to give free advertising in their regular programming to conservative views and voices. The big newspapers put ludicrously stupid stories that imply (but do not show) that Democrats are dishonest, psychologically warped, hypocritical, and calculating, while simultaneously giving adoring coverage to Republicans, and then the broadcast media grabs it for their main headlines - and if the newspapers didn't provide such material, the broadcasters would just make them up. Matt Drudge would continue to decide what "stories" deserve front-page coverage, even if they weren't true, and the press would run with them.

I see via Talk Left that the second part of the WaPo series on the out-of-control administration is up, with still more revelations that, despite all that has gone before, managed to astonish me. Like the fact that John Yoo did draw the line at one form of torture - the threat to bury a prisoner alive. (Here's a useful though no longer shocking paragraph: "Geneva rules forbade not only torture but also, in equally categorical terms, the use of "violence," "cruel treatment" or "humiliating and degrading treatment" against a detainee "at any time and in any place whatsoever." The War Crimes Act of 1996 made any grave breach of those restrictions a U.S. felony [Read the act]. The best defense against such a charge, Addington wrote, would combine a broad presidential direction for humane treatment, in general, with an assertion of unrestricted authority to make exceptions.") What really shocked me, though, was the news that the CIA actually went to the White House saying they couldn't get information without being able to torture. You'd think they'd have known better. And for that matter, you'd think I'd know better than to expect any more from the CIA. I keep forgetting because next to this administration, they still look good. (Also, Gore Vidal ticked off at the idea that he'd make a pass at Timothy McVeigh.)

My goodness Fox is disgusting, isn't it?

Evolution of the Left. (Thanks to Neil.)

Make. Them. Filibuster.

I see that Travis has decided that I've tagged him.

18:42 BST

The politics of impeachment

Larkspur in comments* provides seven random facts about me, and my favorite is:

4. An enthusiastic consumer of MmmPeachMint ice cream (two scoops, please)
I'm not actually sure two scoops will be enough, though.

And Nell directs me* to this post by Thoreau at Unqualified Offerings, where she left a comment offering her big reasons for impeaching Bush. After reading the post and the whole (mercifully short) thread, I left a comment of my own, but I want to expand on my response to this comment from Dave W.:

In a better world, President Clinton would have done some jail time for his perjury. First, because people deserve to go to jail for lying under oath, and second because it would have set a good example for others who are thinking about lying to a court.
In a better world, Starr would not have set up a perjury trap for Clinton.

Face reality: Starr's pursuit of Clinton was what, in a case among ordinary people who aren't famous, would have ultimately been treated as harassment and thrown out of court at the very least. Jones v. Clinton was obviously a nuisance suit and Jones' own claims and evidence did not fit the definition of sexual harassment. There was never any evidence that Clinton sexually harassed Jones or that she paid a career price for her interaction with Clinton. (At least not at his hands; what the GOP did to her by encouraging her lawsuit and making her a pawn in their cause is another matter. Not sure that did her any good.) The judge granted Clinton summary judgment that, "There are no genuine issues for trial in this case."

People lie in court all the time, but if it isn't actually about something specific to the substance of the case, no one gets charged with perjury for it. I can't think of another case I've ever heard of where someone was charged with perjury for being untruthful about something that didn't really matter to the case (especially one that was thrown out of court!) - and whether Clinton had sex with Lewinsky had nothing to do with whether he had sexually harassed Paula Jones. The claim was that Lewinsky was germane to the case because it would show a pattern of sexual harassment; however, it was obvious that Clinton had not sexually harassed Lewinsky since by her own notes and testimony she was the one who went after him and not the other way around.

Moreover, perjury was never proven in Clinton's case, because it wasn't a simple matter of whether he claimed under oath to have had no sexual contact with Lewinsky. That never happened. Clinton was asked several questions about whether he did this or that with Lewsinsky, and in all but one case he admitted that he had. But one specific question about whether he had had sexual contact with Lewinsky was not so broad and went to his intent.* That was the question he answered negatively.

All of which should be beside the point, but is still worth drumming into people's minds, if only because they keep making false comparisons between the Clinton impeachment and the present circumstances. The fact is that, while most people do not approve of a man cheating on his wife, neither do most people regard it as an impeachable offense. Adultery can damage a marriage, but it was clear to the public that this was about humiliating both Clintons, not about preventing abuse of power, sexual harassment, or anything that was the public's business. Two-thirds of Americans did not support impeachment of Clinton. Right now, a majority of Americans do believe Bush and Cheney should be impeached because of the way they are mishandling the public's business.

It's nonsense to insist that once it was in the open, Clinton should have resigned. The whole point of the entire Whitewater investigation was to drum up a way to nullify the election and re-election of Clinton. The Republicans had been ginning the whole thing up from the moment Clinton entered office. Whitewater was a non-crime and everyone who actually looked at the details of the case knew it - the Clintons were the victims, not the perpetrators, of Whitewater, and the investigation was solely an excuse to harass them. The Jones case was bolted onto it precisely because Starr couldn't find anything to hang Clinton with and Janet Reno was too cowardly to tell him he couldn't keep fishing in other waters. If Clinton had resigned, it would have been giving carte blanche to the GOP to invent charges against any Democratic official and drum him out of office. There really was and is a principled reason why Clinton should not have resigned. It's pitiful that there are people who do not understand this.

These points, unfortunately, are worth making because the contrast is that Bush isn't being shoe-horned into a perjury trap, he has been engaged in an entire program that is a deliberate deception because it is all illegal. He lied about whether there was illegal wiretapping, then shifted gears and not only bragged about breaking the law but said he intended to continue to do so because he was above the law.

Bush believes he is the entire government and its ultimate authority. He does not believe in the will of the people, he does not believe he is bound by any law of the United States, and he is breaking the fundamental constraints of our system of government. That's just in addition to the fact that he has emptied our treasury and put us in debt to foreign nations to a degree that we may never recover from, made our national security a joke, and treated the troops he has placed in harm's way (in an illegal and unjustified war) like dirt.

This administration has far surpassed Nixon's transgressions, and most people seem to know that. If I were trying to destroy the United States economically and politically, I would have done exactly what the Bush administration has been doing.

The Washington establishment may be perfectly happy with this situation, but the rest of the country is not.

I heard Bernie Sanders - Bernie Sanders - repeating Karl Rove's line about how the Republicans would just love to see the Democrats impeach Bush. No, they wouldn't, but of course they want everyone to believe that. It's embarrassing that even Senator Bernie has fallen for this, but it certainly tells you how difficult it is to get through to the Democrats that they should stop believing what these liars say.

The Capitol Hill gossips want us to believe that impeaching Bush/Cheney is about revenge, or partisanship, or a pathological "Bush hatred". It's not. It's about attempting to restore the United States of America as a republic.

Failing to impeach is about partisanship. Failing to impeach is about being afraid of electoral repercussions, about believing GOP spin, and about cowardice. None of those things are more important than putting a stop to what Bush is doing to our country and its people.

13:58 BST

I've been waiting to awaken from these dreams

Johann Hari, "The religious war on Liberation Biology: The religious backlash against these life-saving advances has been viciously successful, holding back scientific progress in almost every part of the world."

At The Next Hurrah, emptywheel analyzes more media whoredom at the WaPo when Barton Gellman and Jo Becker, in an article about how Cheney is the real emperor-king, say: "Cheney is not, by nearly every inside account, the shadow president of popular lore." Except that he is. But the whoredom may not be Gellman and Becker's, if this from War and Peace is correct: "A careful reading of the story of Cheney's coup against a feeble executive reveals that paragraphs 7 through 10 were written and inserted in haste by a powerful editorial hand. The banging of colliding metaphors in an otherwise carefully written piece is evidence of last-minute interpolations by a bad editor whom no one has the power to rewrite." Now who could that be?

Kelly Ripa models the Candy Bra. (Thanks to Cup O' Joe for the tip.)

Take the "MacArther Park" Challenge.

At last! You can hear Cory Doctorow read Bruce Sterling's The Hacker Crackdown in your car!

Larkspur provides seven random facts about me in the comments.

A pretty picture from Maru.

"Doctor My Eyes"

03:29 BST

Things to read

Information Clearinghouse: "Immigration attorneys from Cohen & Grigsby explains how they assist employers in running classified ads with the goal of NOT finding any qualified applicants, and the steps they go through to disqualify even the most qualified Americans in order to secure green cards for H-1b workers. See what Bush and Congress really mean by a "shortage of skilled U.S. workers." Microsoft, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, and thousands of other companies are running fake ads in Sunday newspapers across the country each week." Via Pacific Views.

The Editors has an excellent riposte to the usual right-wing ahistorical insistence on bringing up the Dixiecrats and Robert Byrd as evidence that the GOP isn't the racists' party: "Robert "KKK" Byrd . who calls joining the KKK at age 24 the biggest mistake of his life, and who recently received a 100% rating from the NAACP. It's funny how of all the conservative Southern politicians who ever opposed racial equality, the only one who conservatives refuse to forgive is the one who sincerely changed his views. I wonder why that is." That is why.

Brent Budowsky discusses CIA Skeletons, The Mortal Sins of Dick Cheney, The Nobility Of Al Gore at The Hill's Pundits Blog.

The Rude One on Six Other Things the Office of the Vice President Actually Is. (via)

The Official Movie Critics Watch

00:44 BST

Sunday, 24 June 2007


Buzzflash is inviting everyone to submit their Top Ten Reasons to Impeach Bush and Cheney. I regard this as helpful, because making a list of reasons to impeach them is one of those things on my To Do list that I never get around to. That's because I want a comprehensive list, but that would be a lot of work since there are so many things to put on it. I wonder if any of you would like to do a little compilation for me....

Kevin Hayden has vilely tagged me for one of those meme things. I can't do these things. I don't know any random facts about me. And I can't bring myself to "tag" anyone else, either. Feel free to consider yourself tagged if you want to be. Tell 'em I sent you.

Hm, Elton Beard still exists, even if he isn't posting. (I was going to say, "That's better than the alternative," but then again it would be kinda cool if he could post even if he wasn't still alive. Considering the number of Undead we have haunting the White House, it would be nice if that power could be used for good.) And I do miss his posts.

21:35 BST

Real liberal media

Cactus at Angry Bear muses on the reliability of acquired perceptions on the subject of race, drugs, and Australia - that last referring to an entertaining article I missed last December about whether Australia actually exists, and whether there are media conspiracies to convince us that Australia and carnage in Iraq exist. I was entertained by the ensuing comment threads as well (with particular note of this one by coberly), but nevertheless left a long comment of my own responding to both articles.

"A Nation of Closet Liberals" - As you know, Bob, the media is very effective at telling us that the things we believe are just the desires of some weird, extreme fringe group living in Manhattan and San Francisco. Also: "Turns out neither Gore nor Bush won the presidency in 2000."

And, as Steve Benen tells us, the real king of America planned it that way all along. In 1973 he argued that what the president does transcends the law, and then he figured out how to become the transcendent guy himself in 2000. Gosh, isn't it great that George Walker Bush had all that good counsel from "experienced hands" to guide him. Like I said before, Bush has fallen in with a bad crowd, and it's more important to impeach Richard Bruce Cheney than it is even to impeach Bush himself.

Jim Hightower on Outsourcing government: "A monumental shift has quietly and quickly been taking place in the way the public's business is done - and We the People have not even been informed about it, much less been asked to discuss and okay it. Corporations are taking over our government. No longer is it just a matter of big business's lobbyists and campaign donations perverting public policy. Now, politically connected corporations are also seizing day-to-day governmental operations for their own profit."

But we don't just outsource torture to foreign countries. We do it in American prisons all the time, and we create an entire class of people who can do it for us for free. Make no mistake; we are perfectly capable of setting up prisons so that prisoners are protected from violence by their fellow inmates, but we don't bother. Fred Clark at Slacktivist says that our acceptance of the idea that prisoners get raped and beaten up in prison makes us part of the problem, and he's right. (And I left a comment there, too, because for some reason I just don't seem to be able to stay out of ranting in comment threads today.)

Steve Clemons is intrigued about reactions to Michael Moore's Sicko, and it makes him think the slowly dawning change in the way even public officials are starting to talk about our policies toward Cuba.

Robert Louis Chavez takes neat pictures of lightning.

18:22 BST

Turning the paper red

I'm pleased to see that Melinda Henneberger managed to make Wanker of the Day for a second time, and only four minutes into the day, to boot, thanks to a little bit of research from Tom Hilton at If I Ran the Zoo, with a special assist from Digby.

Something that I think was obvious from Ms. Henneberger's original bit of Broderesque "reporting" about how Democrats must flee from their pro-choice stance or risk losing the electorate is that her interviews with average ordinary women who happen to support a minority view seems to come from a sample that is a bit, um, skewed. I mean, where do you start when you're actually looking for women to interview who were "first-time defectors" to voting for a Republican in 2004? And, if those women really did vote for Bush because they preferred a guy who starts wars and hates the CDA and the FDA and affordable medical care for children and the elderly to someone who might not appoint anti-choice zealots to the Supreme Court, just how "liberal" are they, really? They certainly aren't pro-life, they're just anti-abortion, and that's a position that will lose a lot more people for the Democratic Party than it could hope to gain. The anti-abortion types already have a home in the Grand Old Pestilence - we're the other one, and though we may be the party of confusion, at least we're a bit more hesitant to do things that destroy whole cities and leave the survivors without clean water or electricity.

And that's just leaving aside the fact that if you really care about reducing unwanted pregnancies, which is the best way to reduce the number of abortions, you know better than to make common cause with people who advocate abstinence-only sex "education" and refusing to fill birth control prescriptions.

The majority of Americans actually seem to understand this, and it's unfortunate that they didn't understand in 2004 that Bush really did intend to appoint Supreme Court justices who want to overturn Roe v. Wade (and even Griswald), because he would have lost plenty of votes right then and there.

Unfortunately, a variety of people (not all of whom were just concern trolls like Henneberger) assured us that the Republicans would never let Roe be overturned because it was such a good issue for the GOP. Little did they realize that we were dealing with people who had no problem with that since they were planning to count the votes themselves and were bent on overturning the Constitution itself. These maniacs really do mean business and all of these assurances from left and right that there have to be other priorities are just what they count on to keep people from recognizing that they mean what they say.

The simple fact is that your position on reproductive rights really is a good indicator of whether you are liberal on other issues. For one thing, liberals don't abandon peace, minorities, the poor, middle-class economic security, the Geneva Conventions and the entire Constitution just to make sure sex is punished by unwanted births or illegal abortions that threaten women's lives. Liberals might even notice a certain, um, ambiguity in the claims to support "life and liberty" by people who want to hoist the Confederate flag over their state houses while pretending Roe v. Wade is comparable to Dred Scot.

And that's what we mean by "litmus test" - abortion really is the litmus test for both sides, although lately only the far right takes it as read. They know that if they want a right-wing program, abolition of reproductive rights is integral to the plot. We should not forget that. But Henneberger is here precisely to cloud that insight.

14:47 BST

"As far as we know, our computer has never had an undetected error."

Chantelle Chantilly half cup bra

Bra of the Week

Would you believe the abstinence-only bunch is pretending they care about facts, now? (I'll tell you something else, too: Anyone who says abstinence is the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancy is lying - the only way to be sure is to get a total hysterectomy. People who abstain don't generally use birth control, so they are much more likely to get pregnant when they slip or are raped. For the rest of us, condoms do work remarkably well if you use them correctly.)

Stephen Lendman, "The Record of the Newspaper of Record: Dictionaries define 'yellow journalism' variously as irresponsible and sensationalist reporting that distorts, exaggerates or misstates the truth. It's misinformation or agitprop disinformation masquerading as fact to boost circulation and readership or serve a larger purpose like lying for state and corporate interests."

Glenn Greenwald has more on the mysterious fact that the people we are fighting in Iraq are suddenly all in Al Qaeda: "But what is even more notable is that the establishment press has followed right along, just as enthusiastically. I don't think the New York Times has published a story about Iraq in the last two weeks without stating that we are killing 'Al Qaeda fighters,' capturing 'Al Qaeda leaders,' and every new operation is against 'Al Qaeda.'"

Bob Geiger's Saturday Cartoons - and an extra Toles.

Correction: "A music review in Weekend on Friday about Paul McCartney, at the Highline Ballroom in Manhattan, misidentified the instrument he played when he sang "Here Today." It was an acoustic guitar, not a piano." Yeah, I always get those two confused.

Paint Jam

02:12 BST

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Links for people who aren't watching Doctor Who

A curious thing: "Until a few days ago, the combatants in Iraq were 'insurgents' or they were referred to as 'Sunni' or 'Shia'a' fighters in the Iraq Civil War. Suddenly, without evidence, without proof, without any semblance of fact, the US military command is referring to these combatants as 'al-Qaida'." I'd been noticing this, too, but it's the kind of thing that these days I just seem to react to with an enervated sigh.

Nader is talking about another presidential run because both parties are in the pocket of the corporations, but Public Citizen says Obama is good on anti-corporate issues.

Jamison Foser on another phony study purporting to show that the media is liberal, and why it's a lousy study. (The comments are also hilarious.)

Robert Parry, "Bush's Mafia Whacks the Republic: In years to come, historians may look back on U.S. press coverage of George W. Bush's presidency and wonder why there was not a single front-page story announcing one of the most monumental events of mankind's modern era - the death of the American Republic and the elimination of the "unalienable rights" pledged to "posterity" by the Founders."

Claudio Arrau, Beethoven's Appassionata, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

19:46 BST

The haze I'm wandering around in

Whisky Fire: "'The Senate legislation would also eliminate from the federal financial aid application a controversial question asking whether applicants have been convicted of drug possession while receiving federal student aid.'" It's a baby-step, though - restrictions on student aid for such people should be eliminated altogether.

Via Atrios, Keith Olbermann learns that Dick Cheney is no longer an entity of any kind. (Funny, when you think of it - on the one hand, he claims "executive privilege" in order to obstruct transparency, but now he's claiming he's not part of the executive in order to obstruct security.) Help impeach them.

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire reports that Hitchens' God is Not Great has defied expectations and become a bestseller, "flying off store shelves, even in the Bible Belt," according to the Wall Street Journal." Also, Michael Moore doing the right thing.

"Doctors lord it over patients: An article titled "Doctors' beliefs can hinder patient care: New laws shore up providers' right to refuse treatment based on values" tells the chilling tale of one Lori Boyer who drove to the nearest emergency room after she was raped by an acquaintance."

Lenin on Lenin.

I came out this morning and discovered that one of the triffids has finally started to blossom. I am so excited. Pretty.

"Open My Eyes"

15:50 BST

And the sunshine'll set you free

Good news: The Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation to restore habeas corpus, and Democrats are saying they will issues subpoenas to find out the skinny on the NSA program. Like, what the hell it is.

Another myth bites the dust: It's not just that people are still having sex, but white folk are more likely to use illegal drugs than black folk.

How to trap a Fox - or how the campaign to stop the Democratic debate from being hosted by Fox worked.

The Google, the E-mail and the Bush - So, does Bush use it, or doesn't he? And if he does, where is it?

A Trivial but far from unimportant reason not to elect (another) conservative GOP businessman president.

From MediaBloodhound, "ABC Obscures Truth About Autism and Thimerosal" - or, why you should be suspicious of claims made by "the same man who oversaw General Electric's dumping of untold amounts of PCBs into our water supply, denied it profusely, then, when forced to clean it up, fought every step of the way" when he defends Big Pharma from suspicions that putting poison in kids' vaccines might actually have harmed them.

Mark Adams thinks Markos jumped the shark with his analysis of the Democratic candidates.

Imagine my surprise when Jon Stewart announced his guest, and it was Greg Bear.

Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon.

12:18 BST

Friday, 22 June 2007

I'm watching Iggy and the Stooges play live

"An Unlikely Class Warrior" - Robert Frank co-authored Principles of Economics, fast becoming the standard ECON 101 primer, with Ben Bernanke, who is now chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. His new book, Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class, is described this way by Sam Pizzigati at "Frank's perspective, in our contemporary political clime, smacks dangerously close to a declaration of 'class war.'" Because he acknowledges that how much you spend isn't just a matter of choice, I guess. But his remedy still sounds to me like a way to evade straightforward progressive taxation. (via)

Thanks to Dominic for alerting me to this quote from the Buzzflash interview with Greg Palast:"We've got the documents. We ain't guessing. When I say they had caging lists targeting innocent black soldiers, I have the lists. I have the soldiers' names. We spoke to their families. In fact, interestingly, "60 Minutes" came into our office and said, "My God, to prove what these caging lists are, you're going to have to make hundreds of calls and spend hundreds of hours going through this stuff." And we said, "Yeah, it's reporting. Try it. It won't hurt you." Palast also says Rove et al. have already stolen the 2008 election.

Army officer says Gitmo panels flawed: "An Army officer with a key role in the U.S. military hearings at Guantanamo Bay says they relied on vague and incomplete intelligence and were pressured to declare detainees "enemy combatants," often without any specific evidence" (via)

AltHippo discovers that even Joe Conason is afraid of the I-Word. *sigh* (via)

Max Blumenthal's video isn't brilliant, but it has one or two moments, and it worth seeing just for the bit with Nader being a jerk.

A sun pillar from EPOD, the eclipse of Venus from APOD, and Nick Scipio posted something pretty for the Solstice.

23:33 BST


Discussing Sidney Blumenthal's "Imperial presidency declared null and void", Chris Floyd says that, although the courts have ruled that Bush is breaking the law, it doesn't seem like much is being done about it:

However, Blumenthal also notes that the ruling has changed nothing "on the ground." Bush has not altered his policies in the light of this stinging rebuke from his own side of the ideological divide. In fact, just last week, one of his mouthpieces strenuously defended Bush's abuse of "signing statements" -- his regular declarations that he is not bound by the laws passed by the people's representatives in Congress. The Boston Globe's Charles Savage, who almost alone in the corporate media has doggedly pursued this sinister practice, reports numerous specific instances of Bush's deliberate subversion of legislation. Questioned about the story, a Bush spokesman answered, in essence: "Yeah? So what? The Boss does what he wants to do, and that's the way it is. You savvy?"

The disgusting thugs who seized control of our government have been repeatedly unmasked. Their authoritarian pretensions and rampant lawbreaking have been repeatedly exposed in the media and by government insiders, and roundly condemned by numerous courts, including, as in this case, conservative courts packed with appointees of the Bush dynasty itself. Yet still, this gang squats in the White House, still they wield their earth-shaking powers, still they break laws and commit atrocities every day.

And Congress, the only institution in the country with the legal power to bring this monumental crime spree to an end, will not even attempt to use the tools provided to it by the Constitution to remove the perpetrators of high crimes from office.

And Congress, the only institution in the country with the legal power to bring this monumental crime spree to an end, will not even attempt to use the tools provided to it by the Constitution to remove the perpetrators of high crimes from office.

Chris' piece does require one clarification:
On Saturday, July 27, the House Judiciary Committee approved its first article of impeachment charging President Nixon with obstruction of justice. Six of the Committee's 17 Republicans joined all 21 Democrats in voting for the article. The following Monday the Committee approved its second article charging Nixon with abuse of power. The next day, the third and final article, contempt of Congress, was approved.


That revelation resulted in a complete collapse of support for Nixon in Congress. On Friday, August 9, Nixon resigned the presidency and avoided the likely prospect of losing the impeachment vote in the full House and a subsequent trial in the Senate. He thus became the only U.S. President ever to resign.

In the literal meaning of the word, Nixon was, literally, successfully impeached. But legally speaking, he resigned before the indictment could be made official.

However, the point remains: We once had a Congress (and a press) that, when they couldn't deny the connection between the White House and criminally unconstitutional conduct, was willing and able to demand and bring into being impeachment hearings.

We now have a situation where the crimes of the administration are far more serious and far more blatant - although some have been (for the most part ineptly) covered up, others have been proudly displayed in public and even bragged about.

George Walker Bush, Richard Bruce Cheney, and most of the cabinet have run a criminal operation out of the White House. There can be no question at this point that they are openly flouting the most fundamental laws of the land and betraying our country. Anyone who denies this must be either stupid, mad, or lying.

And yet, Congress is still pretending that there is nothing to be done.

It may be true that the Republicans and a small cadre of conservative Democrats will never allow impeachment proceedings to begin, but with more than half the country now believing - before such proceedings have even begun - that Bush should be impeached and removed from office, it is a disgrace that anyone in Congress is failing to push for impeachment of the executive and the entire cabinet. It should be obvious that - despite Karl Rove's pretence that he would be happy to see it happen - pushing for impeachment will bring even more of the country behind it and put tremendous pressure on those remaining members of Congress who would prefer not to see this administration repudiated.

The alternative is to admit that we have lost our republic.

15:02 BST

After I overslept

In a comment below about Henry Waxman's letter, jurassicpork sez: "So, 2003 is the year that Dick Cheney stopped letting the inspectors in. So how come we invaded Iraq and not Dick Cheney?"

More Waxman news as the right wing erupts over his request to delay the Blackstone IPO, although they didn't seem to care why - and it turns out there is a very good reason: "It now turns out that Senator James Webb, formerly a high Defense Department official has serious national security concerns over this deal. It seems that the $200B investment fund that China is using Blackstone to administer could give China access to sensitive information about US defense contractors. But the IPO went ahead anyway." Of course it did.

The Rude One discovers the conservative appreciation of manliness.

Regulating the use of The Race Card with: The Race Flag!

Ashcroft contradicts Gonzales wiretapping testimony: "In sworn testimony to Congress in 2006, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said that there had 'not been any serious disagreement' over President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program. But today, former Attorney General John Ashcroft - who almost resigned in protest over the program - told a House panel that in reality, the administration was 'sharply divided over the legality of President Bush's most controversial eavesdropping policies.'"

This radio program has interviews with some recently-retired veterans of The Baltimore Sun, including Dave Ettlin, about the current state of the newspaper biz.

Go over to YouTube and give props to Matt for this video.

12:48 BST

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Dinner and links

Want to know how to dramatically improve Afghanistan's economy and take power away from the warlords and the Taliban? "Leading doctors say Afghanistan's opium-poppy harvest should be used to tackle an NHS shortage of diamorphine. The British Medical Association says using the poppy fields in this way, rather than destroying them, would help Afghans and NHS patients. [...] But the UK and Afghan governments reject using the poppy fields to address the UK's diamorphine shortage. However, UK doctors say the diamorphine shortage is getting worse, leaving them reliant on less effective, more expensive alternatives." Yeah, I wonder who's selling those "more expensive alternatives". No, I don't.

Dover Bitch is against slavery - particularly slavery we can do something about because it's happening within our jurisdiction. And she also thinks voting rights are important. My god, what a crazy left-wing loony she is!

Those conservative high-tech hipsters are keeping us safer, you bet.

Henry Waxman writes a letter about this: "The Oversight Committee has learned that over the objections of the National Archives, Vice President Cheney exempted his office from the presidential order that establishes government-wide procedures for safeguarding classified national security information. The Vice President asserts that his office is not an 'entity within the executive branch.'" Jeez, this guy actually thinks being VP puts him above even the executive? That's a new one. (via)

Catholic Church does the right thing for the wrong reason. Well, sorta the right thing. Definitely the wrong reason, unless they want to start doing this stuff to Republicans, too.

Privatized criminal government bites. (Oh, and congratulations on the grandson, sugar.)

Have a look at McClatchy's Wounded Warriors blog.

17:35 BST


This dictatorship/911 media event/war brought to you by...: "Jim Wilkinson is the Republican operative I was talking about. He's a guy that - he's about my age. .He worked in Dick Armey's office. He is credited with coming up with a line about Gore having invented the internet. That was Jim's work. .Then, in the 2000 elections, he was in charge of the media down in the Florida recount, where there was one point where the Dade County voting board was going to recount the ballots down there. The Republicans didn't want them to recount it until a decision had been made by the courts, and so they stormed the office." And then he got put in charge of forcing our troops to politicize their responses to the press to help them sell the invasion of Iraq. More here.

At Think Progress:

See, I just do not want someone who supports torture to be president. I really don't. "Have we fallen so low as to debate how much torture we are willing to stomach?"

Did I mention that CBS are pigs? Well, they are. (Ahem.)

I can't help the feeling that Ann Althouse really does need a good shag. It's the only explanation for her severe case of Tubesteak Messiah Derangement Syndrome.

Keith Olbermann and Jonathan Turley discuss Bush's signing statements and the government officials who treat them like law.

15:59 BST

Happy Solstice

I am pleased to announce that, Massachusetts and Elton John notwithstanding, Mr. Sideshow and I have continued on to our 22nd wedding anniversary.

Judicial Watch got some documents proving that a 727 full of Saudis "Chartered either by The Saudi Arabian royal family or Osama Bin Laden" was allowed to leave the United States on 19 September 2001, but Michael Moore is still fat.

Trifecta wasn't impressed with Richard Cohen's performance in his "chat" session with WaPo readers who mostly took issue with his column on Scooter Libby. You know, one thing people keep failing to mention is that it doesn't matter whether Valerie Plame in particular had been stationed abroad in the last five years or fit other criteria of the particular law that everyone is talking about (and not just because that's not the only law that might have been broken). Because, by blowing Plame's cover, the White House blew the entire Brewster-Jennings operation and the cover of everyone in it or connected with it. Someone should ask these pundits whether blowing everyone's cover might have violated the law.

I also see via Trifecta that the WaPo has discovered the story of Bradley Schlozman discriminatory antics in the Civil Rights division. We already knew much of this but I hadn't seen this before: "In another politically tinged conversation recounted by former colleagues, Schlozman asked a supervisor if a career lawyer who had voted for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a onetime political rival of President Bush, could still be trusted."

KathyF may be correct when she says you shouldn't try to pronounce Welsh words after a glass of wine; it's not enough. Have a few pints of bitter instead.

12:54 BST

"Get me rewrite!"

How did they come up with this lie that we never praise good professional journalism? Of course we do - one of the reasons we're here is to find the good journalism buried under the bad. We praise Conason, Lyons, Krugman, Pincus, Hersh, Savage and others and link to them frequently. The problem is that most of those people seldom if ever make the front page. If fake stories about John Edwards selling his house to Republicans (gasp!) or getting a haircut are what's on the telegraph page, and Walter Pincus is on page 17, well, all praise to Pincus when he does good work, but what are the editors thinking? And why did any journalist actually go to the trouble to write those tacky stories in the first place? And why are the "gatekeepers" employing people who bring the profession into such disrepute - and keeping them - while hiding Paul Krugman behind a paywall? We don't praise good journalism? It was the biggest newspapers in the country that destroyed Gary Webb's career because he did good journalism. And without bloggers, no one would ever remember him. We love to find good journalism in the professional media - but we have to work hard too find it, buried as it is behind loads of high-profile rubbish.

And speaking of journalists we love, I've just received Dave Ettlin's announcement that he retired from 40 years at The Baltimore Sun this month. I am stunned by this news - for years we all assumed he would die on re-write because he just seemed to love it so much that it never seemed to occur to him to ask for a promotion. Then a few years ago one of his bosses pointed out to him that he should be an editor, so he asked for it and got the job as night editor. I figured he'd still be there to cover the end of the world. Of course, there were several things that went into his decision to retire now, but I got the impression that one of them was the threat of another ownership change. So when they offered another job buy-out, he put in for it. Not that he's bored, yet: "And five days later, I had another job (if only for a day): A cameo appearance in the filming of the HBO TV series "The Wire," courtesy of its creator-producer and former Sun colleague David Simon. I played a newsroom character named "Ettlin." Type-casting, I guess. It likely will be on TV next spring on HBO." According to the brief mention at the bottom of the Maryland news column, he plays a rewrite man.

11:22 BST

Out and about on the intraweb

MB Williams has been blogging the Wyoming contest to replace the recently deceased GOP Senator with another Republican.

Continuously crafting good, popular bills that Republicans won't pass may not be a good recipe for enacting good, new legislation, but it would certainly draw the distinctions between Democrats and Republicans, and it might just light a fire under the public to see good legislation getting killed over and over.

I just heard John Nichols on the radio talking about his article about Bloomberg's announcement, and he said an interesting thing that's not in the article: The very fact that he's making news this way (and especially saying things about how when he got into office the city was a wreck) reminds people that it wasn't Rudy Giuliani who put New York City back together again.

Among the things the United States government can no longer do well, they can't mint coins correctly and they can't prepare for a new rush on passports that they should have expected when they changed the law to require them in more situations. Via Rachel, who also alerts us that Janet Reno is getting into the music biz.

Folks in Connecticut just won't shut up about how much they can't stand Joe Lieberman.

My favorite part of the story of about the stupid London Olympics logo was when "Education Secretary Alan Johnson likened the logo to Tory MP Boris Johnson's hair yesterday," and Boris "said his hair 'had yet to induce epilepsy' and cost 'considerably less than £400,000 to design.'"

Listen to some new Maroon5.

01:21 BST

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Trying to keep up

Via Eschaton I see that Blast Off! has posted the transcript of Digby's speech for those who can't play the video. And Glenn Greenwald looks at the section of the speech that discusses the core views of the liberal blogosphere.

Terry Jones on A true land of opportunity: "Gordon Brown was in Iraq yesterday on a "fact-finding mission". It needn't all have looked gloomy for the next prime minister, however - not if he did some fact-finding about Blackwater, a North Carolina company that is now one of the most profitable military contractors operating in Iraq, and proves just what a land of opportunity Iraq really is. Blackwater's president, Gary Jackson, acclaimed a "staggering" 600% growth in 2004: "This is a billion-dollar industry," he said, "and Blackwater has only scratched the surface of it." So if Gordon, or any of us, wants to get on this Iraqi gravy train, we could do worse than see how Blackwater goes about it."

McClatchy has a nice new motto, but I can't say I was pleased to see that headline and the story that goes with it. Yes, Clinton was booed at one point in her presentation, but she was applauded when she got up to speak and applauded when she closed. But the audience at Take Back America wasn't much pleased when she said, "The American military has succeeded. It is the Iraqi government that has failed to make the tough decisions." Right, we went in there and wrecked their country so we could hold them up at gun-point for their oil, and it's their fault the country is a mess, perhaps because they don't want to make the "tough decision" to give the Texas oilmen all of their oil.

Mark at Adult Video News learns that a right-wing anti-porn "family values" group was breaking the law. What a surprise.

Harry Potter and the Blue Dog Democrats ... "or should we follow the path of the 'all-out' Van Helsing and relegate the blue dogs back to the unemployment line?" (Thanks to Randolph for the tip.)

The hidden price of a Christmas bestseller - Crikey, I had no idea. (Thanks, Neil.)

Some quotes.

23:58 BST

American footprints

I see Norman Podhoretz is advocating bombing Iran although it would "unleash a wave of global anti-Americanism ." Boy, these people really don't care about "the good opinion of mankind", do they? Andrew Sullivan also posts from a reader who saw another video of Podhoretz shrugging off the effects of bombing a country, and says, "And the shrug tells you everything you need to know about the current state of neo-conservativism."

Steve Soto says it's time to "Start Calling For Special Prosecutors: That the administration will reject the need for any such appointments even with a truckload of evidence of lawbreaking is inevitable. But forcing the subpoenas and getting to that conflict sooner rather than later is better for the country to see the lengths this president will go to shield his actions from public view."

"Message to the Democratic Leadership: Never Leave Your Wounded Heroes on the Battlefield" - This Buzzflash editorial is referring to those fighting against the occupation at home, but when the leadership falls down like this, they literally leave our troops on the battlefield in Iraq to be wounded and die unnecessarily. Right now they're apparently starting to see the writing on the wall, and I've heard them talking on the radio about how they're still working in Congress and there will be more coming down the pike to fulfill the promises we hoped we had in the election last year. But they need to be reminded: We have their backs if they work for us, but not if they don't.

Trifecta is not optimistic about what a Bloomberg presidential try will mean to the election. I know many New York liberals who like Bloomberg and what he's done for the city, but there are plenty of things about him that worry me, and I still haven't forgiven him for how he violated demonstrators' rights during the RNC in 2004. (I'm hearing, though, that it's all about how much he hates Giuliani and wants to beat him. I have to admit, the thought amuses.)

19:00 BST

Brain food

Back in the saddle, Digby finds Justice Scalia unable to separate television shows from fact, and thinks they override the Constitution as well. Meanwhile, Dover Bitch finds the bottom line in the al-Marri decision: "...the Constitution simply does not provide the President the power to exercise military authority over civilians within the United States."

I've been meaning to link to this post at Crooks and Liars in which Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks argues with Tucker Carlson about extraordinary rendition. Carlson actually had the nerve to demand of her that she support Bush's complete failure to obey the law on the grounds that if he didn't break the Constitution, he'd be failing in his "sworn" duty to protect us from terrorism. Brooks was doing a good job, but she fell down on this - she really should have pointed out that a president's sworn duty is this: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. " As Fact-esque reminds me, lesser cogs like the VP and members of Congress swear an even longer oath to the Constitution. Wish they believed it.

One of the fine ironies of the occupation of Iraq was the claim that we would show those funny-colored wogs the virtues of democracy free of the corruption that plagues lesser civilizations. So then we went over there and demonstrated that, with Republicans running things, we could actually be even more corrupt, and not only that, bring that level of corruption to America as well. The thing is, all those funny-colored people still want to be rid of corruption. Just like us.

"Would you trust a man called Rita?" Not this one.

17:47 BST

It hasn't rained in hours!

You have no idea how hard it was when I did this post not to write, "Digby, who writes real good even if she is a boy." But I restrained myself. More recently I've noticed that she hasn't been so careful about hiding it, so I've made a James Tiptree joke or two, but I had a feeling the Big Reveal was coming, and the cat was already out of the bag in some quarters. No, she never told me, I just suspected it a long time ago, and then a few of her remarks nailed it down for me. (I was surprised so many people missed them.)

Stranger has a good catch on the indictment of Giuliani's SC campaign manager for crack cocaine - and the fact that the word "crack" is being edited out of the news accounts, possibly so people will forget that there are mandatory sentences to go with that.

FungiFromYuggoth points out in comments that Bernie Kerik has been to Iraq, but he probably doesn't want to remind anyone.

Greg Anrig at TPM Cafe says: "One of the great government success stories at the state level in recent years has been the streamlining of the driver's license application and renewal process so that the endless DMV lines of the past - which fueled public hostility toward government - became far shorter and less hassle-laden in most places. But the REAL ID Act of 2005, which will begin to take effect next year, will totally trash that progress." Some states have opted out of REAL ID - is yours one of them? That could be good for you when you get your driver's license, but not so good if you move.

The blog for the Take Back America conference has a number of interesting items up, including a short interview with Digby, coverage of appearances by Edwards and Obama, and Robert Greenwald's short Lift the Ban.

The entertainment industry now says that the cops shouldn't be chasing those people who robbed you because it's much more important to protect them from losing the imaginary money they think they would have made if only you couldn't download stuff free on the Internet. (I keep wondering why all these corporate swine think we should pay taxes to serve them and not us, but this is even more blatant than usual.)

Take a short IQ test, (via).

14:28 BST

Sunshine in London

What Digby said - in living color. Thanks, babe, you know you speak for me.

I really wish Kevin Drum would not repeat this junk about how Michael Moore is so inaccurate. Moore is no more inaccurate than most advocacy journalism, and certainly a whole lot better than his detractors at getting the story right. It shouldn't be necessary to remind someone who supported the invasion of Iraq that Fahrenheit 911 was (and largely still is) better than what war-supporters were writing, and the corporate media was distributing, at the time.

This morning I noticed a blog called This Is So Gay in my referrers, an irresistible title. Turns out to be a new blog by someone who reads a lot, which means it wasn't much work to get a feel for what's in the archives. I was particularly interested in "Gay Christians Say the Darndest Things!" - but hasten to note that absolutely everyone seems to have remembered only their favorite bits from the Bible or simply disregards the rest.

13:01 BST

Stuff to check out

At Tapped, Ben Adler on the likelihood that Bloomberg's change of party is about running for president, and Paul Waldman on why Edwards can go anywhere.

Big Media Benen - Steve gets interviewed by The Politico, I learn from this very linky post by Steve at his own joint, The Carpet Bagger Report, which also has the dirt on how Fear of Karl Rove is ceasing to be a factor in the Republican Party. (Also: a good reason not to want Mike Gravel to be president.)

Paperwight on why The Criminal IS Political, and, in another linky post, the Republican Ratchet.

So, are conservatives at least better for keeping families together? Not if this is how they do it.

I can put asterisks in their name, or I can just say that someone doesn't like being parodied at the Edinburgh Fringe.

I can't figure out why the mysterious Gnome Liberation Front would be smuggling snakes.

01:42 BST

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Hazelnut yogurt

The excellent Charlie Savage of The Boston Globe is looking at signing statements again, and says, "US agencies disobey [at least] 6 laws that president challenged": In a report to Congress, the non partisan Government Accountability Office studied a small sample of the bill provisions that Bush has signed into law but also challenged with signing statements. The GAO found that agencies disobeyed six such laws, while enforcing 10 others as written even though Bush had challenged them. [...] "The findings of this report should come as no great surprise: When the president tells federal agencies they don't have to follow the law, they often don't," Sloan said. "This report should put to rest any doubts as to the real impact of signing statements. The Constitution does not bestow upon the president the power to simply ignore portions of laws he doesn't like."

The tears of Bernie Kerik (who has been almost everywhere, except Iraq). Also: "I Get To Compare People To Eliminationist Dictators. You Don't."

The religious right is making America more secular - because they're driving people away. (via)

Dover Bitch reports back from the Take Back America conference on the Women Rising: The Issues that Count panel.

I refuse to listen to it, but you can hear the winner of the contest to find Hillary a campaign theme song here.

I'm reading about how the immigration issue is bigger than Teh Gay issue for the GOP base, lately, and thinking it would be smart if the Democrats loudly and vociferously made the point that the GOP does not prosecute illegal employers and that's why we have this problem under Republicans. They should explain it every chance they get.

22:11 BST

Blogger's notebook

Yet again, while I'm writing about something that annoyed me, Glenn Greenwald is already posting something more thorough (and Atrios is making the subject Wanker of the Day):

Richard Cohen's Washington Post column this morning is a true tour de force in explaining the function of our Beltway media stars. Cohen's column -- which grieves over the grave and tragic injustice brought down upon Lewis "Scooter" Libby -- should be immediately laminated and placed into the Smithsonian History Museum as an exhibit which, standing alone, will explain so much about what happened to our country over the last six years. It is really that good.
Glenn doesn't normally go in for steep sarcasm like this, but this is hot. (And not, thank goodness, a hint of Aqua Velva.)


Michael Moore has posted a bunch of clips on his Sicko page. (He's also said he has no problem with people pirating his film and spreading it around - he makes 'em so people will see them.)

In case you were wondering, here's one reason why nobody with any sense listens to Michael Ledeen.

In comments, jbk wants everyone to know that Henry Rollins has a cool contest for you to make a video rant - "Henry supplies the topics, & you supply the attitude. Submit the best rant & you could host the "The Henry Rollins Show" marathon on IFC and fly to LA to meet Henry."

Laney has an interest blog, with a couple of posts at the top just now about How the Bushies screwed up in Gaza and Israel getting what it wants in Gaza.

20:29 BST


Question: How can you tell the difference between Richard Cohen and a GOP political operative? Answer: You really can't, anymore. Today's column comes straight off the RNC talking points, complete with "no underlying crime" and consistent downplaying of the seriousness of the underlying crime itself. It's unfortunate that Cohen will probably not bother to read or understand the remarks from commenter CatelynK, who said:

If the original source--the giver of the order to leak--of the deliberate outing of a covert CIA Agent was of no significance, why would Libby lie? He's a smart man and a skilled lawyer. But he lied repeatedly to federal investigators and perjured himself repeatedly under oath to a Grand Jury. He, for one, thought there was something to hide.
Libby knew he was committing a serious crime. He had to take a security oath for his job, and that oath was violated the minute he repeated classified information to members of the press.

15:35 BST

Last night's links

My broadband disappeared for about an hour last night, and I learned you have to be dedicated to wait for Jesus General to load on dial-up. Actually, I eventually gave up. Same for Crooks and Liars. Still, I hope you can see this clip about the Wilton students' Iraq play, which is rather inspiring.

Also at C&L, a story on a right-wing special on PBS that will lie about the intention of the founders in separating church and state.

"Do Bloggers Deserve a Shield Law? Absolutely," says Kevin Hayden.

At Yank in London, "Democratic Candidates for President (and one other) - a British perspective" does the English translation. This is considerably more accurate than what you get from the media.

Henry Rollins not a fan of Halliburton/KBR privatization . Also, "Republicans get ready to threaten Valerie Plame Wilson with subpoena" - This is a bunch of smoke, of course, but they still want to smear Plame, and also take some heat off of the White House.

The Yellow Doggerel Democrat wonders if BushCo think they are Unimpeachable (to the tune of this).

Winners of the Infuriating Phrases Competition, (via).

11:20 BST

Monday, 18 June 2007

Some liars

It's no surprise that Fox News' favorite investigation is the one of William Jefferson, one of very few of the (alleged) criminals in Washington who isn't part of the Republican Mafia. It's no surprise, either, that they are lying when they try to equate Jefferson's individual dirt with the entire GOP criminal enterprise, and when they pretend that Republicans who get indicted "just step down while they work this out."

Todd Tiahrt lying about needle-exchange (and Newt on drugs).

22:25 BST

What they say

Tim Grieve: "Asked on CNN this morning whether the fact that none of his five sons has served in the U.S. military might be a political issue for him, Iraq surge supporter and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said: 'Each of my five sons gave two years of their life to the service of their church, and I consider that service to be laudable. But I very highly value those who serve in the military. But it is a volunteer military and I hope that we keep it that way.'"

Charlie Stross: "Evil elves have clearly abducted the spirit of British politics and replaced it with a red-headed changeling with three eyes and a Martian accent. Can anyone imagine the reaction if in 1990 Neil Kinnock had declared that he was the true heir to Margaret Thatcher's legacy, not that milquetoast left-winger John Major?" The worst part is that it's true - the Tories are the true defender's of Blair's legacy, because Blair is a Thatcherite, and to the right of even pre-Thatcherite Tories. (PS. I just finished Iron Sunrise and thought it was even better than Singularity Sky.)

Whiskey Fire: "Ezra Klein is perfectly right to judge people writing on foreign policy primarily on their stances towards real world issues. A discussion of "underlying beliefs or theories" in this context is absurd, given the horror of the Iraq debacle. If your "underlying beliefs or theories" made you stick your dick in the blender, even "reluctantly," and you haven't thoroughly reassessed these concepts, I frankly don't want to hear your advice about what to do with the weed whacker." (via)

Brian Beutler: "I propose that we hereby refer to Bill Kristol as the most dangerous pundit in America." (via)

After years of right-wing dominance, things have changed in Milwaukee.

16:53 BST

Things I read today

Descending into the rose - Click for larger image June is busting out all over my favorite rose bush, so I've been going a bit wild with the camera. Here's another from just after the rain this morning.

"Health care industry braces for Sicko: The U.S. health-care industry has the June 29 premiere of Michael Moore's new film Sicko 'circled on its calendar. For-profit providers of health care are the controversial and award-winning filmmaker's latest target.'" (But read the eighth comment, by oldcranky.)

Steve Benen finds the holes in Jonathan Alter's theory that Democrats aren't properly framing their Iraq position to reach the public, noting that, "Alter's heart is in the right place, but he's missing a key point here -- the public has already accepted the Democratic war policy. The problem isn't in framing; Dems' poll numbers started to sag only after they gave in and gave the Bush White House the war funding bill the president demanded. The sales pitch was irrelevant."

Dana Priest and Anne Hull have followed up their series on the outrageous treatment of our troops at Walter Reed with "The War Inside", about the inadequate treatment returning troops receive for mental health problems.

The DoJ was already having trouble finding people to fill in those US Attorney vacancies, but now it's even worse: "The Justice Department is scrambling to find willing replacements for nearly two dozen temporary U.S. attorneys, whose time in office is now limited under a law signed last week by President Bush." Eh? Where'd that come from?

The FBI is also illegally entering your house.

Duncan Black has a good bit this morning on the imaginary figures for the residual troop numbers that are being mooted for the long-term occupation of Iraq: "What drives me nuts about this residual force stuff, aside from how arbitrary it is, is that there's never any thought to exactly what these 50,000 should do. Basically, as the violence rages around them they're supposed to sit there to ensure that... there isn't even more violence raging around them. But it isn't really enough people to actually intervene, especially given that not even close to that many would be combat troops."

13:46 BST

Whisper who dares

Seymour Hersh has another one in The New Yorker, "The General's Report - How Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one of its casualties." Or as Lambert puts it: "Rape. Father-son humiliation. Objects up the rectum. Torture. And the videos. In other words, Republican sex. Nice work, Christianists." C&L has video of Hersh on CNN.

2,000 non-lethal AK-47s and other WaPo facts, as explained by Jonathan Schwarz.

No one is checking to make sure your food is safe.

I guess it was too much to expect Deborah Howell to understand that the real problem with getting a hack who apparently hadn't read Gore's book to review it is that WaPo editors should stop hiring oppo hacks to review books by liberals. That is, on the rare occasion when the Post actually bothers to have reviews of books by liberals.

Shocking photographs.

She just had to write something. Prose Before Hos.

Got any spare change? Katha Pollitt knows something good you can do with it.

Bob Harris watches The end of The Sopranos. (Thanks to HP.)

Trailer for Sicko.

The theramin bra.

01:49 BST

Sunday, 17 June 2007

A bunch of stuff

A group of CIA officers have written to the RNC to tell them to stop lying and excusing the illegal exposure of Valerie Plame. (via)

In typical fashion for the Bushistas, when Fredo Gonzales gets caught in a conspiracy of lawbreaking, his answer is to try to make it look normal by making it formal and doing it more. Also predictably, Petraeus endorses the Bush model - says we won't know if the surge has worked until September, and likes the Korea plan.

Your Talking Dog tries to make sense of the latest stenography in the NYT, and also wonders why Harry Reid wants to work overtime to help Bush pass his corporatist immigration bill.

Victoria Gotti, disgusted with still being hounded by the press, thinks the media should be obsessed with "that mob in Washington" instead - and Frank Rich can see her point. Via Quiddity, who reckons "Looking for an 'honest conservative' is a fool's errand."

Helen Thomas doesn't think Bush is on the frontlines (with added color by Maru). (Also, this.) And via Maru, Julian Beaver's wonderful pavement drawings - the 3-D illusions are really rather impressive, and it's fascinating when he shows you how it's done.

Roy Edroso: "Though Noonan has many distinguishing neuroses as a propagandist, I think this one reflects a common tendency among her whole tribe: the ever-increasing certainty that one's straw men are in fact real people."

Patrick has it Sidelighted as "Astonishing Vietnamese theme park" - and it is.

Beauty Tip of the Day, via Biomes Blog.

These triffids are growing in my garden but I don't know what they are. I'm beginning to think they were a bit much for a garden that size. Can anyone identify them?

18:40 BST

Feed your head

Army Times: "The airman's dress blues are faded; the footlocker he carried through three tours in Vietnam has gone to rust. Yet the epitaph he chose to mark his grave is as fresh as the morning headlines: "When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one."

Better Deeds: "Here's a snapshot of the quality of loans made by two kinds of lenders to aspiring homebuyers who are financially strapped: The record for the first kind of lender is that one out of every five or six borrowers are late on payments, and foreclosure rates are rising. For the second kind of lender, at the most one in 20 borrowers pay late, and foreclosure rates are holding steady. Which group do you want lending your money or financing your home purchase? Obviously, the second kind. And yet if you picked them, you'd be running against the tide of American capitalism." Because the second kind are non-profits. Via Suburban Guerrilla.

Hitchens defends Marx in the Guardian: "But when journalists today are feeling good about themselves, and sitting through the banquets at which they give each other prizes and awards, they sometimes like to flatter one another by describing their hasty dispatches as "the first draft of history". Next time you hear that tone of self-regard, you might like to pick up Dispatches for the New York Tribune and read the only reporter of whom it was ever actually true." (Thanks to ks.)

Think Progress has posted video of Michael Moore talking about healthcare on Oprah, with a clip from his film, Sicko.

12:50 BST

Blogging notes

Rigby & Peller Juliette full cup underwired bra

Bra of the Week

Speaking of breasts, I see people are getting pretty embarrassed at some of the fatwas that have been announced in Egypt, lately.

Arthur Silber has a post made up of newspaper stories about censorship of a play at a highschool, and letters of complaint about the principal's refusal to allow it because he found it too controversial. The letters include one from native son Ira Levin, who says he is not surprised to learn that the town he based The Stepford Wives on has a Stepford principal. But perhaps the worst part of the story is a quote from a student who says that the theater class was the only place in school they were allowed to talk about the war - they weren't even allowed to bring it up in their current events class. Boy, that's one twitchy principle.

An American citizen was deported to Mexico by officials who didn't bother to check his citizenship and turned him over to Mexican authorities - and then he disappeared. His family still can't find him.

It's Not Your Money You Know - Confiscation laws make it dicey to have any significant amount of your own money on you, and the cops have an incentive to search you even if they know you have the money legitimately.

Kung Fu Monkey is reminded that the ending of The Sopranos could have been much worse.

The map of Middle Earth, Europe. (Thanks, Rich.)

01:06 BST

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Dinner links

Like I keep telling you, There is no such thing is a conservative think tank - and Rick Perlstein has the goods: "Our good Senator Sessions says Heritage's nobly helping to "encourage widespread debate and discussion." Yeah, right. Here's how the Heritage Foundation invites "debate and discussion": by issuing ideological dictates in boldface type. Remember, rewarding lawbreakers with an amnesty is wrong."

The trouble with a private/public competition on healthcare, Ezra Klein points out, is that commercial interests will graft their way into winning it.

A conservative group is trying to get candidates to pledge not to wiretap without a judge's approval - Mitt Romney has refused, and they have declared him "unfit to serve as president." But they're especially worried about putting the power of a runaway executive into Hillary Clinton's hands.

The teacher who was sentenced to 40 years in jail because, through no fault of hers, a computer in the classroom was infected with a virus and subject to porn pop-ups, has been granted a new trial. Also: Jeremy Allison on Why DRM won't ever work, and why engineers must say no to it.

Bill Moyers, "Begging His Pardon: We have yet another remarkable revelation of the mindset of Washington's ruling clique of neoconservative elites -- the people who took us to war from the safety of their Beltway bunkers. Even as Iraq grows bloodier by the day, their passion of the week is to keep one of their own from going to jail." (via)

In case you were wondering, this is how they are replacing the late Senator Craig Thomas in Wyoming.

Natasha, in a post full of links: "What the 'Christian' hard right wants, in case you didn't already know, is to follow forcing everyone to live by their rules with the end of the world."

Bill Gibson: "I think that's one of those *very* basic things that have recently changed on us. References used to be there to be "gotten" more than Googled. Google edges reference (in the "knowing" conversational sense) ever closer to name-checking and shout-out. Everything has already migrated halfway to hyperlink."

17:54 BST

Stormy weather

We keep having these two-minute rainstorms, sometimes punctuated by bright sunshine. Hmph.

Dave Lindorff has a list of ten important stories that the media is mostly failing to cover. The amazing thing is that despite the news blackout, most Americans, without any help from our media, have figured out on their own that George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney should be impeached and removed from office. And the media doesn't want to tell you that, either.

Lenin reviews Sicko: "However, if there is one thing that stands out in this film, it is how ruthless and brutal the American ruling class really is. It is unmistakable: they are the master race, and they're out for every last cent. [...] The conclusion is that one must be as ruthless as they are to get even the slightest penny back from them. Most of those in the film who did get ruthless did so in a highly individualistic fashion, through their lawyers, and left the system intact. What is obviously needed is for the kind of single-minded determination and class solidarity that American CEOs display to be shown on the streets and in workplaces."

Jamison Foser: "If there's a more pointless word in political journalism than "authentic," it must be "electable." Like "authenticity," "electability" is little more than a catch-all that allows the speaker to express his or her approval for, or disapproval of, a candidate in seemingly definitive terms, based on ... anything at all."

The Most Busted Name in News - MediaBloodhound is on the case.

It's kind of a rerun, but still...Gerberization. Sorry, I just find it hilarious.

Bob Geiger's Saturday cartoon post.

Aussiegall takes some great pictures.

16:01 BST

Morning trawl

I generally like Matt Tabbai's stuff in Rolling Stone a lot, but sometimes he has Maureen Dowd's disease and sounds like a real jackass. He thinks, for example, that this is a criticism of the left: "The sad truth is that if the FBI really is following anyone on the American left, it is engaging in a huge waste of time and personnel." Yes, Matt, that's the point - they are spying on innocent bystanders and harmless cranks, which is indeed a massive waste of time. (Hey, are you suggesting that the FBI should instead be following economic populist activists or something? Union-busting? Spying on Nathan Newman?) Do you get that this article is written in such a way that its good points are completely obscured by a load of garden-variety liberal-bashing that might just as easily have emerged from the GOP? Jerk. And, as someone in comments at The Mahablog observed, "Everything this essay accuses liberals of applies equally to conservatives."

If I ever needed evidence that conservatives are stupid, it's nailed down in a second with the suggestion that putting paper in a a different bag from cans is debilitatingly time-consuming.

Another one bites the dust at the DOJ: "Elston and his attorney have denied the allegations."

Combat Trauma: Injured Vets Find Scant Concern, Little Care, but LOTS of "Command Hostility".

Edwards writes FCC while Hillary & Obama play in the Mud: "One candidate however, is actually focusing on what really matters to some of us. John Edwards writes the FCC on Net Neutrality. "

Katrina Vanden Heuvel on Rather on Couric: "But it's got nothing to do with Katie Couric. Nor does it really have anything to do with the messenger, Rather (whose colorful, native Texanspeak has gotten him into hot water in the past--much as it did for the late former Governor Anne Richards). It's about the message."

Two countries united by mutual corruption: "It'll be darkly funny if the US Department of Justice does decide to indict and then seek to extradite someone from the UK in connection with the alleged payments from BAE to Prince Bandar, because Tony Blair's eagerness to send UK citizens to the US for white collar prosecutions has already established all the relevant legal principles."

Freeway Blogger has some updates From Our Founding Fathers.

11:56 BST

Assorted stuff

Tony Blair blames the media - especially the Internet: "Tony Blair hinted today at new restrictions on internet journalism, saying online news coverage had become "more pernicious and less balanced" than traditional political reporting."

I don't think I know many women who would find this useful as pornography. Sure, we all like a partner who is thoughtful, but making guys do the housework is only for those of a particular taste - and speciality prostitutes. Via JasonC, who also has a useful list of stories our "journalists" can pursue next.

Echidne on Pope Benedict and His Boys, and on Dan Rather, Katie Couric, and Rush Limbaugh.

Dave Johnson has another Overton's Window post at Seeing the Forest.

The Yes Men are at it again on energy policy.

Just what's going on with the Obama campaign, anyway? (Although, I would point out, Cisco is becoming a Chinese company....)

Time to order this T-shirt for the 4th of July.

01:25 BST

Friday, 15 June 2007

After-dinner links

Hans von Spakovsky apparently believes that violating two Constitutional amendments doesn't actually break the law. Bradley Schlozman thinks that people like Spakovsky are "good Americans", unlike those in the Civil rights division who were, um, funny-colored women.

Sidney Blumenthal does some quoting about the Libby pardon campaign: "Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life."

Have I mentioned lately that one of the things I've never forgiven Bill Clinton for is giving the axe to Jocelyn Elders? She was right, after all. Now we get a Surgeon General nominee with an obsession with homosexuality. More from Adult Video News's editor, Mark Kernes: Commentary: Just What We Need...Another Bigot in the Cabinet.

Two things Cabearie really hates are earmarks and federal grants to faith-based programs. Just think what happens when the two of them get together.

"We have earned the hatred of entrenched greed." - FDR, 1936 State of the Union address.

20:34 BST

Candidate horror stories

Robert Scheer has a warning for anyone who is talking about backing "any Democrat" who can win, "'President' Lieberman: A Cautionary Tale: What if Al Gore had won the 2000 presidential election but died in office? Would President Joe Lieberman have been worse than George W. Bush? His recent actions suggest that he could have descended even lower in his illogical and immoral responses to the tragedy of 9/11. Although now an independent, Lieberman provides a cautionary tale for folks who talk of backing "any Democrat" who can win." I gotta say, I'm pretty uncomfortable with some of the people we elected last year based, apparently, on the fact that they happened to be vets who happened to be running as Democrats. And Hillary is not looking that good to me.

In other things to fear, No More Mister Nice Guy looks at the two Republican candidates who sound most like each other and wonders, "Giuliani/Lieberman '08?"

18:21 BST

Make it stop

You're having a reasonably good day, you have things planned out for a change and are working to schedule, and then you click on a link at Eschaton and find yourself reading something like this:

People can not understand how great armed forces, like the and marines, can not help restoring electricity, water not even cell phones so people can cooperate with the authorities at least.

Please don't let the people remember your country in this way; making cities full with cemeteries more than it is already (some people in Fallujah buried their sons in their home gardens in 2004).

It is unfair to my people in Fallujah. It is unfair thing to do to the mothers of the soldiers who thought that they are sending their beloved sons to help millions of Iraqis. It is unfair thing to do to the good American citizens that I knew and met.

Please help not to change the name of Fallujah to the city of cemeteries.

In the comments, peterboy wrote:
no recess for congress this summer until they pass the get-out-of-iraq vote.
no recess.
no recess.
men and women are dying. no vacation.
no recess.
You like to think we can stay and fix the electricity and the water and the phones but you know we won't and you just want to scream for them to get out get out get out so at least they can pick up the pieces for themselves. They couldn't do any worse than what we're doing for them.

I have to go dry my face.

17:00 BST

Today's Air America post

I was just over at the Rachel Maddow fans' blog and noticed they've posted the Air America re-launch video, which moved me to horrified fascination as it went from everyone else talking about what AAR is meant to add to the airwaves to some self-indulgent crap from Lionel who apparently thinks actually trying to create a real alternative for progressives is, um, boring. I think it's mighty strange that no one noticed him repudiating everything AAR is supposed to be about in their re-launch video.

The site also has Keith and Rachel discussing the FCC obscenity ruling, a topic you might have expected me to address sooner. Actually, I didn't have much to say about it, though I must say there is a certain delightful irony that, in a world where the right is constantly attacking liberals for our "vulgarity", it's the unrestrained uncouthness of right-wing politicians and commentators that really seems to have moved this thing. However, I also want to say that even if Cheney hadn't used the particular language he used and had said, "Get stuffed!" instead, it is still indefensible to address a Senator that way while discussing the nation's business on the Senate floor.

Rachel's latest Campaign Asylum video is at Alternet, where she muses on Mike Huckabee's problem with miniskirts. Personally, I think we can do without legislators who want to restrict the personal expression of others to prevent themselves from having Bad Thoughts.

On her show last night (which you can stream here until around 9:00 or 10:00 tonight), Rachel bemoaned the fact that she had actually done a post on the AAR front-page blog, and it was bumped immediately by something more controversial. Rachel wrote about was the fact that, since it's unlikely we will attack Iran for having made pornography a death penalty offense, they're trying to gin up other reasons - but they're still not working out too well. (She then went on to discuss the same thing on her show.)

The post that bumped Rachel's, by the way, was from Lionel himself, attacking listeners for not being able to engage in "critical thinking" because they didn't appreciate his bringing Bill Donohue to AAR to tell his lies and spread his hate. Unsurprisingly, Amanda Marcotte went after this one with brightly-colored flames (really- there's a neat picture) - especially to a claim that Donohue doesn't try to get people fired for disagreeing with him.

16:10 BST

Security circus

Bruce Schneier presents a Portrait of the Modern Terrorist as an Idiot: "The recently publicized terrorist plot to blow up John F. Kennedy International Airport, like so many of the terrorist plots over the past few years, is a study in alarmism and incompetence: on the part of the terrorists, our government and the press."

The Crone Speaks about "Why I'm Such A Bitch on the Privacy Issue" when she learns again that the FBI has been breaking the law, and observes that while they've been illegally spying on people who are obviously harmless, real domestic terrorists aren't even in their sights.

14:09 BST

Dress-up boys

Ezra says that the liberal hawks are edging away from having to admit they were just wrong all the way down the line about Iraq by, essentially, embracing the next war - with Iran. It seems that people might miss the need to attack Iran because they have "overlearned" the lessons of Iraq, which lessons they seem to think have to do with having bungled the war and occupation rather than that it's stupid to start unnecessary wars in the first place.

This is a replay of the "Vietnam syndrome" ploy, where we pretend that people have simply been burned by the last war and are therefore war-shy even when war is necessary. This might be a good argument if we had any evidence of this syndrome affecting people when war is necessary, but we haven't actually had mass opposition to a necessary war to test it on. Even if you don't believe that Kosovo, the Gulf War, or Afghanistan were necessary wars, there is not much evidence that there was much objection to those wars by the people who opposed the present adventure in Iraq. Indeed, the strongest resistance to Kosovo was from the same people who are now such ardent supporters of staying in Iraq. Al Gore, who strongly argued against the current enterprise, was a supporter of the previous Gulf War. Only about ten percent of Americans opposed going into Afghanistan after 9/11, whereas considerably more opposed invading Iraq and now those who recognize the folly of Bush's Crusade exceed seventy percent.

You might think the argument is about whether some people love all wars and some can tell the difference, but Kosovo demonstrates that it's not even that simple. Yes, it's true that there do seem to be people who never met a war they didn't like, but despite the current rhetoric, we've seen that there are other prejudices in play. The liberal hawk types always seem to have a need to show they are Brave and Manly warmongers (as long as they don't actually have to fight), and there are people who are purely partisan on either end - they will defend a war launched by a member of their party and oppose one launched by a president from the other party.

The rest of us, however, would prefer to know that our resources are spent to good purpose, and especially that our military power and the lives of our troops will not be wasted on stupidity. Since the risks of any war being stupid are very high, these means we ask many, many questions first and don't just wet ourselves when someone says "mushroom cloud".

The argument for attacking Iran is presumably to prevent a nuclear war between the west and a Muslim country. And we want to do this, apparently, by launching a nuclear war between the west and a Muslim country. I shouldn't have to explain that this makes no sense.

And I wonder just how good Musharaf's already precarious control of Pakistan would be if the United States did attack Iran; it has potential to be the proverbial straw on the camel's back. There are both democratic forces and extremist Muslim forces in Pakistan who object to Musharaf's having taken over the country in a coup - and chances are that if anyone disrupts his government, the people who take over will be the more violent and extreme. There are reasons to worry about this.

Meanwhile, the liberal hawks go on talking about how we have to attack Iran as if George Bush were not still sitting in the White House. Yes, they say, Iraq worked out badly because Bush mismanaged it so - but who do they think will be managing any attack on Iran? If they honestly believe that the problem in Iraq was the Bush-Cheney management style, how can they even risk talking about a potential threat from Iran when those people are still running the show and champing at the bit for an excuse to attack Iran precipitously?

For the last 35 years I've watched men complain that, unlike their fathers who fought in "the Good War" against the Third Reich, they didn't get a chance to show their manly stuff, because Vietnam was a bad war, which they had no choice but to resist. And now they think they can redeem their manhood by letting another generation of young people go fight a "good war" for them in the Middle-East - which they, of course, will be fighting from the same distance they fought the "bad war" from.

I'm sick of watching these so-called liberals try to exorcise their sexual identity problems with macho displays in which they insist others should serve as their proxies so they can show us what butch guys they really are.

Look, if you believe in sending other people off to fight for you, it doesn't matter whether you have a good war or a bad one. You had as much reason to fight in Vietnam as today's troops ever had to be fighting in Iraq, and if you didn't go then, there's no reason they should go now. Attacking Iran won't make up for the mess you've made in Iraq, and it still won't "make you a man". You like war? Go fight in one. Otherwise, you're still just a desk-jockey; you will never be a warrior.

12:47 BST

The Manly Men are at it again

Since they have a tendency to disappear, I've given Gene Lyons' column on Hardball homoeroticism, "Republicans have locked up the pundit vote," a permanent home at my emergency weblog. Not only is it good, but it actually quotes Digby. More on that subject from Glenn Greenwald, who reproduces a totally icky quote from Chris Matthews. I knew there had to be someone who liked English Leather and Aqua Velva....

01:35 BST

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Please stop digging

Max Sawicky:

The lack of a veto-proof majority is irrelevant. Congress appropriates funds. No funds, no policy. It takes affirmative action to continue a war. Congress has stood up to be counted, and they have said let's have some more war. Veto-proof majorities are very rare. If that's what you're looking forward to, you had better be prepared for a long wait.
David Sirota on Partisan War Syndrome:
The disease is simple to understand: It leads the supposedly "ideological" grassroots left to increasingly subvert its overarching ideology on issues in favor of pure partisan concerns. That may sound great at first glance. Democratic Party officials always talk about a need for "big tent unity" and subsequently try to downplay ideology. But as a trait of the grassroots and not just the party, Partisan War Syndrome could be positively devastating not just for issue advocacy, but also for Democrats' political aspirations as well.

The main symptoms of Partisan War Syndrome are hallucination, delirium and obsessive compulsive behavior, with those afflicted losing almost all perspective about what winning politics really is all about. Washington, D.C., of course, could be declared a Hot Zone outbreak area, with this disease afflicting virtually every self-described strategist, operative, and lawmaker that operates in the progressive name. But it is starting to seep out everywhere-even on the Internet blogs that the mainstream media reflexively defines as the "left," "liberal" or "progressive" base.

The only voices that grasp this basic truth right now are Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, and Ron Paul. Clinton, Obama, and Edwards have a realistic chance to be president, so they are consumed with the need to convince elites that they will carry on the blood-soaked tradition in U.S. foreign policy.

For the time being as far as national electoral politics is concerned, the peace-makers are the ones who deserve elevation, for the sake of public enlightenment. Grass roots anti-war action should be channeled to primary campaigns in the same vein. There will still be plenty of time to vote for somebody you don't like.

The perversity of the habit among some netroots to slime Kucinich should now be clear. Pragmatic considerations compel some self-styled progressives to attack those proposing the politically untenable and defend Democratic gains in Congress. Problem is, the Congressional Democrats believe that ending the war by denying it funds is politically untenable. So the anti-war netroots are gagging on their own tail.

Here's a wildly impractical, radical ultra-communist thought: do the right thing and get out of Iraq, and trust the people to duly reward you at the polls.

Yes. Just yes.

15:39 BST

Things I was distracted from last night

Sketch generator, via this blog, via Elayne Riggs.

The Progressive Majority: Why a Conservative America is a Myth: "This report by the Campaign for America's Future and Media Matters for America shows that in study after study, solid majorities of Americans take progressive stands on a full spectrum of issues, from bread-and-butter economics to the so-called "values" issues where conservatives claim preeminence."

I really do think these Retalibans have an especially warped sexuality, whichever way they swing.

In 1992, Gore condemned the Herbert Bush administration for enabling Saddam's brutal treatment of his people and his region - and now the right-wingers are leaping on this as proof that Gore is just a craven opportunist. Steve Benen cuts through the mud: "But the argument doesn't withstand any real scrutiny. Gore was right in both instances - Bush 41 was wrong to repeatedly cooperate with and reach out to a brutal dictator, and Bush 43 was wrong to launch an unnecessary war under false pretenses and then bungle the conflict every step of the way. The right sees a contradiction here. There isn't."

Henry Waxman to Lurita Doan "I have to say, this is my opinion, but it's unusual for me to ever call for the resignation of a federal official. But in your case, I don't see any other course of action that will protect the interests of your agency and the federal taxpayer. No one can be an effective leader who has abused the trust of her employees, and threatened to deny promotions and bonuses to employees for telling the truth. And no one can be an effective leader who has lost the public's confidence, politicizing the agency and violating the federal Hatch Act, yet that is exactly what you have done."

It would be nice if Dick Morris were as smart as Pancho Villa. (And: Really? That T-shirt?)

Half a million names on a terrorist watch list? I can't help the feeling that these people just are not taking the issue seriously at all. What you definitely don't do if you're trying to stop terrorism is create a really big haystack to search through for that needle. But that's just what they're planning to do - six billion records? That's not too many!

Paradox: "They are not Americans as we know them. Our laws and norms mean nothing to them, so our methods of shame and shunning are useless--how else could Gonzo still be there? In our softly fascist American system Bush and the Republicans do respond to pressure and events, but never, ever at the hands of their opponents--unless brute political power forces them to."

Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy would have liked MC Hammer's song better if it had been more honest about why those kids are over there getting killed.

But you probably guessed what I was distracted by... again.

12:33 BST

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

And what's with all the carrots?

Digby responds to an article which was, astonishingly, written by Barack Obama's general counsel: "But it appears that this is actually something more and it's beginning to smell very ugly to me. The political and media establishment are making an explicit argument that high level Republicans really should be held to a lower standard than other Americans --- the exact opposite of the argument they made in the Clinton impeachment, where they insisted that a non-material lie about a private sexual matter in a dismissed case was so important that it required a duly elected and successful president be removed from office. Perhaps the problem is simply that the it's a capitol full of lawyers, who tailor their arguments for each individual case. Unfortunately, the only client seems to be the Republican party." IOKIYAR.

Frankly, I don't even understand why a Democrat would want to go out in public and defend the idea of pardoning Libby, but it's completely nuts to believe that suddenly, after ignoring everything else, all of government and media will rise up to condemn Bush for pardoning Libby and finally decide to hold Bush accountable. Especially after even Democrats have been running around saying Libby should be pardoned. Who, exactly, are these people who will suddenly stand up and see the light? The same ones who thought torture and illegal wiretaps weren't anything to get upset about? Please. I'm with Scott on this: There is no upside to Bush pardoning Libby, and there's a big downside to anyone suggesting that he should. More from Jeff Lomonaco.

Thank John Conyers and Patrick Leahy for fighting for our country.

Jeralyn didn't like the ending of The Sopranos.

Levitating islands (Thanks to Rich for the tip.)

23:50 BST

Blog notes

As of 2001, the Muslim world - even including the ones who had once been intrigued by Al Qaeda - had had enough of their violence. And by 12 September of 2001, most Muslims were completely disgusted with Al Qaeda's violence. Of course, things have moved on since then, but isn't it good that Thomas Friedman has noticed what most Muslims already knew?

The nomination of yet another voter-suppressing GOP hack is headed for hearings. It never hurts to let your Senators know that you see no reason to confirm any of Bush's appointments unless he appoints real, normal people who aren't engaged in criminal activities.

This is the post Mudcat Saunders should have started with, but at least he got around to it eventually. Garance Franke-Ruta, I think, misinterprets the source of the problem. It's actually not a terrific idea to introduce yourself by telling your audience that you don't like them and don't care what they think. Once Saunders got the message that his audience wasn't whoever it was he thought they were, he changed his tune and started talking about issues. That's a good thing.

Arianna has a big rant about the disaster of the Iraq funding vote, "Democratic Dinosaurs Turn D.C. into the Land That Time Forgot."

16:36 BST

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Blind pigs and acorns

There've been a couple of times I've heard right-wing nuts say things that are true, but not the way they mean. Rush Limbaugh actually came up with a good phrase - "our drive-by media" - that truly does describe what our media does: It gives us stories (often buried deep in the paper) and then lets them disappear again, never lets them get legs, even when they are important.

In Limbaugh's case, he's talking about stories that never get anywhere because even our lame media knows there's nothing to them, but we all know that some very real, very important stories have been given the same treatment, from numerous aspects of the 2000 election/Selection to the Downing Street Memo and so many others. They tried to sweep the outing of Valerie Plame under the carpet and are still trying to pretend it wasn't a big deal, they've apparently forgotten that two Democratic Senators and even members of their own profession were targets of anthrax attacks and some people died, and they still can't seem to remember that the "evidence" that was used to gin up the war was a forgery that had to come from somewhere (that probably has a trail coming from the office of the vice president). In our contextless news world, it's easy to avoid making sense of any of it.

George Bush had a period of saying something that was true, although he made it sound all wrong because he didn't really mean it. He said that freedom was given to us by God.

Now, I don't mean that freedom was given to us by God - in practice, we only have freedom when human beings arrange for us to have it - but according to The Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Of course, if you believe that, then you would have to believe that the Geneva Conventions and the rights enumerated (and those not enumerated) in The Bill of Rights are the entitlement of every single person in the world, no matter where they are born. Under George Bush, however, the Bill of Rights is shredded, and the Geneva Conventions are null and void. It is unlikely that Bush does believe in a God-given right to freedom - for anyone other than himself.

23:41 BST

My favorite headlines

The exciting item on tonight's news is Bush extending his hand to be clasped by the crowd in Albania - and when it comes back, his watch is gone. They've already shown a clear clip of this happening, but of course, the White House is already lying about it.

Paul Kiel, yesterday: "As the vote draws near, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) made it simple this afternoon: Republicans have no confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, but they're not going to vote that way, because that would hand a victory to Democrats. For his part, Specter is a reluctant supporter of the resolution, he said -- but don't expect others to follow him." God forbid they should "hand Democrats a victory", even if they have to hand the American form of government a defeat to avoid that fate.

Schlozman `Clarifies' Sworn Testimony Over Election-Timed Voter Fraud Case - Funny, he seemed so sure that he was just following orders, but now he takes "full responsibility" for the decision to violate the rules to forward those prosecutions right before an election.

20:38 BST

Political stew

Steve Benen has a post up at TPM discussing how the K Street Project is foundering now that Democrats are in charge. I actually thought it was kind of funny: "The result is an awkward environment -- Republican lobbyists are completely lost in trying to figure out how to function in a Democratic Congress. Their perspective provides a good illustration of why having Dems run Congress actually makes a difference." That difference being that you can't just march into a Democrat's office and make a corporate pitch and expect it to sit well with Democratic ideology - a fact that apparently has caught all these Republican lobbyists off-guard. Seems they didn't realize that there actually are differences in ideology, and they aren't just about Teh Gay and abortion.

To me, the real American heartland is the original 13 colonies, so I've never quite understood why someone like the GOP or Mudcat Saunders would think this term should apply to the south or the midwest. I mean, why would you sneer at the part of the country where America was founded, where the Declaration of Independence was written and the Constitution was signed? But I guess that's just me. Mudcat is running around promoting his book, and Time gave him a week to blog at Swampland, with the initial result that he started off insulting northern and coastal liberals, which is a really good idea for a Democratic consultant. Apparently, though, he actually read the comment threads that ensued, and he has now delivered an apology and turned to the more productive path of actually talking about issues - but perhaps not in time to prevent alienating more Edwards voters.

David Neiwert has been watching Ron Paul for a long time - so long that he was at first surprised to see him suddenly getting so much mainstream attention. But most people don't realize just how far-right Paul really is: "Ron Paul may or may not be a racist -- and arguing about it is likely to end up nowhere. But what is unmistakably, ineluctably true about Ron Paul is that he is an extremist: a conspiracy theorist, a fear-monger, and an outright nutcase when it comes to monetary, tax, and education policy. The more believers and sympathizers he gathers, the worse off the rest of us will be."

The Senator with the Warmest Nose - Joe Lieberman (R-Likud) said in public that he wants to start a war with Iran.

16:33 BST

Monday, 11 June 2007

Holding pattern

I've become ennervated by the fact that I somehow got hypnotized into writings that included Paris Hilton. I have to reboot my brain. Here's a few things to read while I wash it out:

"Appeals Court Rules Cops Can Steal Cars and Lie to Victims To Conduct a Warrantless Search" at Wired.

Eric Boehlert has an update to his piece on Ajami's creepy article: "TNR's Marty Peretz has declares Ajami's "Fallen Soldier" column to be "ethically unimpeachable" and "a document of our time." Well, that settles it."

A Simple, Progressive Replacement for the AMT: "The individual alternative minimum tax (AMT) was originally an add-on tax intended to assure that high income people paid at least some tax. It has morphed and mutated over time, and now is on track to hit 23 million households in 2007. This note describes an option that would return the AMT by repealing the AMT and replacing it with an add-on tax of four percent of adjusted gross income (AGI) above $100,000 for singles and $200,000 for couples. It is a simple, approximately revenue neutral over the ten-year budget window and highly progressive."

J. Goodrich on The Forced Birth Movement, and Ezra Klein examines further evidence that David Brooks is a cabbage.

Media news from Make Them Accountable.

"Save Your Outrage for Those Who Need It."

The Chance for Peace - speech by Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953.

22:40 BST

Almost infamous

Naturally, Joe Klein had to add his name to the list of people who can't understand that Libby is a criminal. And he really gets the similarities between Paris Hilton and Scooter Libby wrong:

Neither Paris nor Scooter would be facing jail time if they weren't part of "a certain group of people," namely celebrities.
I. Lewis Libby is not a "celebrity", he is a public servant - or is at least supposed to be. Paris Hilton does not work for me, but Scooter Libby does, and he's been sabotaging my country. He wasn't very much of a celebrity, actually, until he became the chief of staff of the vice president of the United States, a job he chose to take. And he still wasn't much of a celebrity (most people don't even know the names of people who hold those positions - the press has decided to put a greater spotlight on Karl Rove than is normal for a chief of staff, even to the president, but a lot of people don't even know what his job is even if they have heard of him) before he was exposed as a leaker of classified information and got busted for lying about it.
In Hilton's case, if she were another, less famous rich girl, say the daughter of a prominent Beverly Hills orthodontist, the court might have given her a stiff fine for get caught DUI while on probation, maybe some community service and sentenced her to rehab.
That much is true, and it's also true that Hilton did not originally seek out her celebrity - it was thrust upon her when someone uploaded what was supposed to be a very private video onto the Internet. Her current situation is a response to the fact that she instantly became the world's most famous unintentional porn star, and I could almost feel bad for her if it weren't for the fact that she probably wasn't relying on her reputation as a virgin to enhance her future employment opportunities, anyway. She's rich, it doesn't matter if people think she's a slut. It's a shame that she no longer has the opportunity to make stupid decisions in private like most of us could at that age, but when you know the whole world is watching you constantly, it's probably a bad idea to blatantly, publicly, flout the law.
But jail time for Hilton, however "unfair," strikes me as a public service--it is exemplary: It sends the message, as Gilmore suggests, that even rich twits can't avoid the law.
Sure, and that's not a bad message to send - if it's true. If it's not, the public should be outraged that the rule of law is being undermined and that the law is unjust. But throwing the occasional rich woman to the wolves in lieu of the more powerful men who are committing far greater crimes doesn't actually make me feel all that much more reassured.
I have a different feeling about Libby. His "perjury"--not telling the truth about which reporters he talked to--would never be considered significant enough to reach trial, much less sentencing, much less time in stir if he weren't Dick Cheney's hatchet man.
If he weren't "Dick Cheney's hatchet man", he would not have been in a position to commit such a serious crime. However, Joe Klein wants us to believe that people you've never heard of don't go to jail for perjury. This is simply not true. (I was once excluded from a jury for just such a case.)

Klein says he enjoyed the trial and was glad some of the information that came out was exposed.

But jail time? Do we really want to spend our tax dollars keeping Scooter Libby behind bars? I don't think so.
Speak for yourself, rich man.

Yes, I want our tax dollars to be spent demonstrating that a public servant will be punished for undermining the security of the United States. I want our criminal justice system to say loud and clear that when we pay people to protect and defend the Constitution, we do not allow them to instead jeopardize national security for partisan purposes.

This "perjury" case only exists because of his celebrity--just as the ridiculous "perjury" case against Bill Clinton, which ballooned into the fantastically stupid and destructive impeachment proceedings.
Another false comparison. This perjury case does not exist because partisans wanted to "get" I.L. Libby in the same way that Republicans wanted to get Bill Clinton; it was not a set-up for a perjury trap. Nor does this perjury case exist merely because Libby is "somebody famous".

This perjury case exists because a real crime occurred and when it was being investigated Libby turned out to have been party to the crime and to have lied about the substance of that crime to the FBI and a grand jury. That, unlike Bill Clinton's (alleged) lie, is the essence of real, criminal perjury.

Sentence Libby to community service--at Walter Reed Hospital, where he can spend his days contemplating the broken victims of his ideological arrogance.
Only after he's served a couple of years in prison, during his parole - and only if he also has to live in the same substandard conditions as the patients who are housed there.

[Update: I meant to point out that if Libby were a Democrat, no one - and I mean no one - would have been arguing whether or not Libby should get jail or a pardon; they'd be arguing about whether Libby should get jail or be executed for treason. It should also be remembered that Clinton's prosecutors were highly-partisan Republicans, while Fitzgerald is not a Democrat, but a Republican appointee. I don't know why I didn't remember to stress these points more, but while I was doing that, Glenn Greenwald beat me to the punch, and thus Klein has already won the coveted Wanker of the Day award.]

[Further update: My commenters advise me that even my weak defense of Paris Hilton is incorrect; she may not have sought this kind of celebrity, but she was initially a model who hadn't much been noticed, and this arrest and prosecution was a third strike. Be advised that, as a non-celebrity-watcher, I am the exception who actually knows more about the Libby case than about Paris Hilton.]

14:32 BST

Assorted nuts and bolts

One Million Blogs for Peace

The Economic Policy Institute has a good response to the claim that the antidote to increasing income inequality is more education, and I think they demonstrate pretty convincingly that, as I've been saying all along, it's just not true. As they point out, American worker productivity continues to rise, but wages have been stagnant for college-educated workers, and other workers' wages have been sinking: "Work-force skills can spur productivity growth which, in turn, increases national wealth, but skills cannot determine how that wealth is distributed. This is a function of policies over which schools have no influence: tax, regulatory, trade, monetary, technology, anti-discrimination, and labor market policies organize the demand for skilled workers and help determine how much they are paid. Continued upgrading of skills is essential for continued growth and especially for closing historic racial and ethnic income gaps but is no guarantee of economic success without policies to ensure that productivity gains are passed on to employees." (They also deal with the right-wing suggestion that the way to improve education is to raise teacher salaries by trading away their pension plans for something closer to the cat-food plan being suggested to replace Social Security by the privatizers.) (via)

Linkmeister (who is practically a member of the family, now), wants us to know that he said it in more detail and more succinctly about Ajami.

Robert Stein say Lieberman and Ahmadinejad can't match Bush and Cheney for sheer evil. In the old sense of the word, they are punks.

Another thrilling example of the ghastly writing in Left Behind generates an amusing comment thread at Slacktivist.

The one good thing about Rupert Murdoch. Sort of.

Paris Hilton: Only a pawn in their game.

Oops, I forgot to mention the excellent Saturday cartoons.

Why does Ms. Marvel have that ghastly costume? Also, can't someone give these artists a few copies of Playboy to practice drawing breasts? You'd think they'd never seen any before.

02:28 BST

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Things they said

I was in front of my TV when Mr. Sideshow, flipping through channels, paused long enough for me to see Colin Powell saying, "America, unfortunately, has two million people in jail, all of whom had lawyers and access to writs of habeas corpus. And so we can handle bad people in our system. And so I would get rid of Guantanamo and I'd get rid of the military commissions system, and use established procedures in federal law or in the manual for courts martial." And then the DVD Mr. Sideshow was setting up came on. However, C&L has the rest of it.

I suppose we should give kudos to Broder for noticing that Libby did commit real perjury and that allowing him to escape without punishment promotes lawlessness all the way down the line in society. On the other hand, he parrots the GOP lie about "the absence of any underlying crime" and promotes this one, as well: "This whole controversy is a sideshow -- engineered partly by the publicity-seeking former ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife and heightened by the hunger in parts of Washington to 'get' Rove for something or other." No, Broderella, the Wilsons sought to expose criminal behavior in the White House, and as patriotic Americans, they had a right and an obligation to do so. To dismiss this as "publicity-seeking" and pretend that people want to "get" Rove for any reason other than because he continues to commit crimes is irresponsible and disgusting. Readers take him apart nicely in the comment thread, and Attaturk has more, citing another article right in the same newspaper detailing the myths about the case. (The wingnuts don't seem to have discovered that one, yet, and most of the comments are pretty sane. Drop by the thread and thank Carol D. Leonnig for writing it.) It's a pretty good article; Broder could start there if he's been ignoring all the other material about this very serious matter that he just can't bring himself to take seriously.

On The Errington Thompson Show, Thompson tries to absorb the vote on the Iraq funding bill. (Somebody tell me how to get that .mp3 player widget, I like that.)

20:33 BST

Tea time links

Steve Benen does a nice job on the reprehensible Ajami piece in the WSJ comparing convicted criminal I. Lewis Libby to our uniformed troops who serve honorably in the field.

For those who don't remember him from his controversial recess appointment last year to the Labor Relations Board so he could interfere with the rights of people who work for a living, Laura McGann introduces Peter Kirsanow, who also thinks stopping Daffy Duck from registering to vote is far, far more important than making sure Americans who have a right to vote are permitted to do so. Also , bonus video of Bradley Schlozman lying to Congress about getting the go-ahead to launch a voter-fraud case right before an election from Craig Donsanto, which seems unbelievable, since Donsanto has long been thoroughly opposed to doing so.

David Podvin writes: "John Lennon wrote, "Woman is the nigger of the world". Woman should be so lucky. She does not rank nearly that high, and she never has. A typical example recently arrived from the Supreme Court, which ruled that saving a female life is insufficiently relevant to justify performing a late term abortion. The justices stressed that although the lives of women are important, there exists a higher priority." But I think he is in error when he says, "From the liberal perspective, there is an extended litany of priorities more important than women's rights. And for conservatives, every priority is more important." On the contrary, there is no greater priority for the conservative movement than women's rights - that is, getting rid of them.

Hunt for Higgs.

16:44 BST

Theres always someone around you who will call

Aubade Promenade du Couchant half cup bra

Bra of the Week - on sale and still too expensive.

The laughs just keep on coming as Scott Lemieux considers the republicanism of Robert Bork. (And I see we missed celebrating a highlight in Worst American Birthdays when William Calley turned 64. Definitely go read this if you've forgotten the details. This is also the start of Colin Powell's illustrious career as a cover-up artist.)

Who says the administration never changes policy in Iraq? This is priceless: "For a while, part of the administration's war policy in Iraq was disarming sectarian militias. Now, U.S. forces are trying a different tack -- the opposite tack. [...] What could possibly go wrong?"

It's a good day to visit Happy Furry Puppy Story Time, where The Left ruminates on the suggestion that Bush is one of him, and Norbizness tries to remember good female characters in movies after Adrian Lyne instituted the Age of Misogyny. Also: the GOP debate summed up (and photoshopped).

I remember intending to link this one but now can't remember if I actually did: "Red to Blue: Confessions of a Former Loyal Bushie" - LarsThorwald at DKos on the curious journey. Thanks to Biomes Blog for the reminder, and for the tip on Bill Maher's bumper stickers.

The Velvet Underground, "Sunday Morning".

13:21 BST

Saturday, 09 June 2007

Items of interest

It sounds like John Edwards has learned from his mistakes, and he is not trying to distance himself from Danny Glover's support. And New Hampshire may be about to become the first state to overturn a parental notification law for minors seeking abortion. Via TPM Cafe.

Steve Clemons says good riddance to Peter Pace.

I laugh every time I see stories about how Jefferson claims the FBI gave him the money for a sting. It's a nice story, anyway.

Gary Farber and Scott McLeod discuss the administration's "helpful" aid to moderates in Iran that undermines their work, but I'm not sure they don't do that on purpose.

Paradox explains to Dr. Dean that the Dems need to promote their brand. They just have to remember what it is.

Download a pocket guide to eating fish that haven't been overfished and avoiding the ones that have.

23:26 BST


I keep forgetting this is going on, because it makes no sense whatsoever, but why the hell are the Democrats actually extending and voting more funds for abstinence-only miseducation?

In one inglorious motion, the Democrats have sold the health and well-being of young people down the proverbial drain, delivered a public slap in the face to evidence-based public health, and made a mockery of their "prevention first" message.

Consider this irony. The first domestic policy the Democrats will endorse on the prevention front will be to fund abstinence-only-until-marriage programs for young people up to the age of 29! Good work, gang. You make me proud to be a Democrat-NOT!

And consider this second irony. The Democrats will now become one of the largest funders of an ultra-conservative network that is clearly hostile to its policies and candidates (See an in-depth article in The Nation.)

This program is immoral and irresponsible on its face, just leaving aside that it is a right-wing crackpot scheme and a kick-back to fringe religious groups as well. The majority of parents in America want their kids to get real sex education, not enforced ignorance and lies. There is not one single tolerable excuse for the program's existence, and it is the shame of progressives everywhere that they - and elected Democrats - have not been screaming bloody murder about this outrageous misuse of taxpayers' money. Tell your Representative in the House that continuing Ignorance-Only is indefensible, and make sure your Senators know how you feel, too. (Via Mother Talkers.)

15:44 BST

Last night's links

The woman who "joined a women's prayer group whose members included Susan Baker, the wife of Reagan-Bush chief of staff/sec. of state James Baker, as well as the wife of the Washington Redskins chaplain who was also the minister of the McLean church where Kenneth Starr and other conservative Republican luminaries worship" - are you sure you want her to be president?

Cernig thinks Gates may be trying to do some rebuilding: "It seems plain to me that Mullen is being brought forward, in part, to clean house for Gates and consolidate his position at Defense by sweeping out all the old Rumsfeld hangovers. That won't please Cheney, who was always the closest to Rummie in White house circles as the two of them headed the neocon cabal. [...] Does anyone else get the impression that the real feud in the Bush administration in coming days won't be the much publicized Cheney-Rice spat but instead a Cheney-Gates one?"

Judge Walton appears to have a dry and biting wit.

Chris McGurk talks about serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and coming home.

What Bill Clinton Told Andy Ostroy About Al Gore

How to Impeach The President

A couple images.

12:16 BST

The paragon of animals

Some Races Are Just Not as Good as Others - Arthur Silber on the White Woman's/Man's Burden. Funny how the more we try to gift them with our superior enlightenment, the worse things get for them. I wonder if it means something.... Oh, it must be their fault.

Bruce Schneier (a delightful dinner partner), has a piece up on Childhood Risks: Perception vs. Reality, probably best read if you bear in mind that in 1976, the year all those child porn laws were passed because supposedly 300,000 children a year were kidnapped in the US in order to make child porn, the number of children actually kidnapped in the US was under 130. (And next time, you gotta come out here for some Indian grazing, Bruce.)

Based on their vote and their excuses on the subject, one could certainly get the idea that the Democratic Party's priorities put continuing the occupation above meeting the basic needs of Americans. Time to start pressuring your reps to support the Clinton-Byrd bill to de-authorize the Iraq adventure.

Dominic wrote a bit in this post about the MOD jamming GPS signals in violation of international law, the advisability of keeping the content you write for the web under your own control, and some other stuff that I thought was interesting.

Me, me, me, vote for me! It's not that I'm any better than the rest of them, but we're all good, so you might as well vote for me. I was probably here first, anyway. (But read them all.)

Another piece Rado and Ragni swiped from another famous poet, "What a Piece of Work is Man". (Not, alas, from the original recording.)

00:08 BST

Friday, 08 June 2007

We're the good guys

Just the little things that let you know how far we have come from the days of barbarism:

First, Hilzoy:

The evidence that our government held Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's sons is not conclusive, and I do not mean to suggest that it is. Still, if you had told me, six years ago, that I would find myself seriously entertaining the possibility that my own government had detained children more or less the same age, I would have thought you were insane. Disappearing people of any age, without charges or trial or anything, is what two-bit dictators do; not what we do. But disappearing children, not seventeen year olds about whom one might have interesting debates about when exactly childhood ends but seven- and nine-year olds -- that's so far across the line that it would have been unimaginable to me.
Skimble provides a little tidbit from behind the paywall at the WSJ, but even the first paragraph tells you all you really need to know:
Federal prosecutors are investigating the Kuwaiti company building the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, probing allegations that foreign employees were brought to work on the massive project against their will and prevented from leaving the country.
So, we're building the American embassy with slaves. I feel so proud. Well, at least they're investigating - but how could it happen in the first place?

18:32 BST

Things to check out

The other day I noticed that Robert Samuelson was telling fairy stories about income inequality and was going to stomp all over him for it, but I see via Kevin Drum that some of it is addressed here by Mark Thoma at Economist's View.

Paul Krugman watched the debates this week and couldn't help thinking about the campaign coverage in 2000. In "Lies, Sighs and Politics", he says, "For if there's one thing I hope we've learned from the calamity of the last six and a half years, it's that it matters who becomes president - and that listening to what candidates say about substantive issues offers a much better way to judge potential presidents than superficial character judgments. Mr. Bush's tax lies, not his surface amiability, were the true guide to how he would govern." (Read it for free here.)

At The Poor Man Institute, a study of "America's idiotic relationship to floodplains" in "New Orleans on the Sacramento".

At Slacktivist, Fred Clark examines George Will's call-out to the religious right to give it up on abortion and support Rudy Giuliani. Fred thinks Will is underestimating the role cognitive dissonance plays in how people choose their candidates, but he did have to take issue with one of the wingers Will quoted: "I shouldn't let this description of Rudy Giuliani as "the hero of 9/11" pass without comment. As mayor on Sept. 11, 2001, Giuliani did help to fill the leadership vacuum created by President Bush's imitation of "Brave Sir Robin." But what Giuliani actually did was this: He held a press conference. It was a very good press conference. He said much of what needed to be said in much the way it needed to be said. But for all of that, it was still just a press conference. Describing a press conference -- even a well executed one -- as "heroic" requires a rather stunted notion of what constitutes heroism. That stunted notion provides almost the entire basis for Giuliani's campaign." In fact, it provides much of the basis for everything that's been going on for the last seven years. Remember, Bush eventually stepped into his own vacuum to reclaim the "hero" mantle by standing on some rubble with a bullhorn and saying a lot of things he didn't mean. And then, rather than having the whole country rise up and demand to know how this lazy little drunk let 9/11 happen, we had months of hearing what a great and God-given miracle it was that Bush happened to be president at the time.

You know, it's really hard not to get the impression that Bush was drinking too much to play his role at the G8.

16:38 BST

Lawless world

One of the disquieting footnotes to the Whitewater circus was that Kenneth Starr subjected Susan MacDougal to extraordinary punishment for refusing to make up lies about Bill Clinton, and when a judge ordered that she be removed from murderer's row and treated in a manner more in keeping with her alleged crime of contempt, the prison authorities refused to do it, insisting that they took their orders from Ken Starr. Of course, they weren't supposed to do that, but they did it anyway.

There's a bit of the same thing going on in reverse in the Paris Hilton case, which Eugene Robinson writes of as the simple result of her having achieved super-celebrity status, but the fact remains that a Sheriff simply decided to directly countermand a judge's order and remove Hilton from jail before she had served her sentence because she whimpered a lot. (Can you imagine some unknown middle-class pot-smoker, let alone someone busted for a more serious crime, being allowed to leave prison and instead serve under house arrest because they "couldn't sleep"?)

Meanwhile, most of the Republican core seems to feel that breaking the law should be no barrier to getting off without so much as a slap on the hands when the culprit is Scooter Libby, who they all think should get amnesty on the grounds that, well, it's all irrelevant that he lied to the FBI and the grand jury about the fundamental facts of a crime. The Washington Post even had a front page story the other day which spoke of possible political consequences for Bush if he should take such a step, but put little effort into discussing the damage such behavior does to the rule of law. Even talking about pardoning Libby should be treated as outrageous - he clearly broke the law and should be held responsible. The GOP argument that no one was prosecuted for an underlying crime is ridiculous, since there is every reason to think that Libby was lying to cover up that crime, and that his lying was effective in doing so. It is not unreasonable to assume that if Libby had told the truth, both Karl Rove and Dick Cheney might have ended up in the dock.

(This is very different, by the way, from Clinton allegedly lying about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, since he was charged with sexually harassing Paula Jones. There is not the slightest shred of evidence that he did sexually harass Jones, let alone lie about it. Clinton did not lie to conceal an underlying crime.)

Howie at Down With Tyranny! wonders if the Paris Hilton event is a model for not bothering to hold The Right People to account when they break the law, but I think the model is much older - Nixon, Iran-Contra - and there's no reason to expect that pattern to change, especially since there is so great a risk that Libby will start whimpering, too, and say all the wrong things. Most mobsters have to use a different remedy for this sort of thing, but wouldn't they just love to be president so they can just pardon anyone to keep them from testifying against them?

(Of course, if the GOP is really worried about the political consequences of a pardon, they can always go back to the more traditional method, to stop Bush from embarrassing them by giving Libby amnesty. But I think they're pretty well past embarrassment and not likely to bother.)

13:28 BST

The ultimate conservative

Glenn Greenwald has more on the fact that The Republican Party is the party of Bush, even though most of them are trying to distance themselves from him now because nobody likes him and even some conservatives have noticed that he hasn't exactly upheld the alleged principles of conservatism.

The problem of course, is that Bush has upheld the principles of the conservative movement, and all of these so-called conservatives who are suddenly so disappointed in him had been cheering him on all along while he did all these things they supposedly didn't like. And the thing is, they still haven't repudiated the actual policies - just the outcome.

For example, none of these people are complaining about the fact that he lowered taxes in wartime, an unprecedented policy in all of history. They can complain all they like that he hasn't been "fiscally conservative", but they not only supported his war and his tax cuts, but they refused to so much as question the fact that he ran it in the most expensive way imaginable - not just pseudo-privatizing the functions of the armed services, but actually giving the private companies they outsourced to incentives to overspend and generally waste resources. (And they let him force them to pass the drug-benefit bill with a clause forbidding negotiations to keep prices down.)

I say "pseudo-privatizing" because outsourcing government functions but still paying for them from the tax base isn't real privatization, it's socializing it at a higher price. Actually privatizing the invasion and occupation of Iraq would mean that you told all the people who wanted to invade Iraq to go do it themselves. They could club together and raise an army on their own dime and leave the taxpayer out of it. But they didn't do that - they raided the US treasury instead.

It's all very well to say in hindsight that Bush didn't run the war and occupation competently, that there should have been more troops at the outset, that we somehow should have warred harder or whatever it is they think would have been "competent", but what none of them are saying is that (a) you would have needed a draft to have enough troops to do it up right, (b) this would have been even more expensive, and (c) outsourcing to private firms was still too expensive. They aren't complaining about the lack of a draft, and they have never complained about the Bush-Cheney program of giving Halliburton et al. far more money than it would have cost just to let the army do the same things.

And then they did things like spend amazing amounts of money to have schools tell kids not to have sex. Now, you can cancel all sex education, or you can have real sex education, but why on earth would you need to pay strangers to tell kids not to have sex when they can hear it for free from their own parents, just as we always have? Can you say, "Waste of money"? I thought you could. Did you hear conservatives say it? Rarely, if it all.

Bush has not been spending all that money alone - he had the help of the entire Republican leadership and almost every Republican in Congress, as well as the rest of the conservative base, who never raised a whisper against this behavior.

And then there's national security, something they pretend to be the masters of, but they've actually put our national security - from the guardianship of our ports to the actual handling of our troop supports - into the hands of private companies which know no allegiance to the United States of America. One of those companies recently announced it was ceasing to be an American company at all, and is moving its headquarters to Dubai, one of the countries that is connected to the 9/11 attacks. Conservatives did complain about the Dubai port deal, but they never seemed to get that the port deal was part and parcel of the conservative economic policies they supported, nor wonder whether it was safe to allow organizations that were not run by those sworn to the United States Constitution to handle our military operations.

Even now, as we look at the main contenders for the Republican nomination, we may see them trying to distance themselves from the individual named George Walker Bush, but they are not distancing themselves from his policies - and in some cases, they are even tying themselves more tightly to his policies. (Some of them even appear to think that we aren't torturing people enough, for example. None of them are talking about rescinding the tax cuts or reinstating the draft, but they still want to keep spending money and lives on war.)

George Bush has expanded government and burned our money and even more that we don't even have, and the Republicans still don't want to raise taxes.

And something else: When you ask Republicans how they can trust a president to hold the kind of power they have continued to allow Bush to take, they seem to think it's perfectly all right to put such power in his hands. If you suggest that Hillary Clinton might become president and she would have such power, well, that's different, because you can't trust her. But think about that: If they really felt that much distance from Bush, why aren't they horrified that he is wielding such power? How can they claim to see him as such a bad president if they are still comfortable giving him the power of life and death without due process?

If they really want to repudiate George Bush, I can think of a lot more convincing ways to do it. They're not doing it.

02:30 BST

Thursday, 07 June 2007


A thousand deaths ago, I quoted from the original poem "Witchita Vortex Sutra", but this time I think I'll just do the Rado version:

Ripped open by metal explosion
Caught in barbed wire
Bullet shock
Bayonet electricity
Throbbing meat
Electronic data processing
Black uniforms
Bare feet, carbines
Mail-order rifles
Shoot the muscles
256 Viet Cong captured
256 Viet Cong captured

Prisoners in Niggertown
It's a dirty little war
Three Five Zero Zero
Take weapons up and begin to kill
Watch the long long armies drifting home

23:55 BST

On the firefly platform

Bill Scher advises Dems to show they are strong on defense by making a stink about the fact that Bush is deliberately trying to prevent peace in the Middle-East. Perhaps you could suggest this to your Democratic reps.

So, we're bombing a lot of Iraqi civilians. And they're supposed to be grateful? A lot of Republicans seem to think so. You'd think it would be fairly simple to work out that having bombs drop on you may not actually be preferable to knowing there's a dictator of your country but there are no bombs dropping on you. People hate it when bombs drop on them. I'm surprised I have to explain this.

I really wish that no one had so much as given lip-service to the idea that Petraeus would be better than any other Bush appointee. Why would they think that? Why would they say it? The only thing Bush wants from people is to agree with him. He doesn't rely on them to be competent, he relies on them to forget what a competent person would do in a real administration.

Big Ed's Swan Song - Ed Whitacre's farewell address to AT&T made clear that what they're all about is destroying net neutrality so they can suck more money out of the system - and they will suck freedom away with it. (And Feministing's very own Jessica Valenti on Colbert!)

Michael Powell returns to the fray for a further exchange with Media Bloodhound.

I've been meaning to mention The Oil Drum, which covers energy issues and has been watching Cyclone Gonu, with maps and all. "This is an unprecedented event. NO CYCLONE has ever entered the Gulf of Oman."

I don't think MadKane was impressed by the false piety of the Republican candidates.

The Miracle of Cardboard - it can say "Impeach" for a good long time.

This could create real problems for Bartcop. (I'm sure care packages of Chinaco Anejo will be welcome.)*

Sunny Goodge Street

12:40 BST

Wednesday, 06 June 2007

When sundown pales the sky

Bush's Nominee For Surgeon General Wrote Study On The 'Dangers' Of 'Anal Eroticism' - Gosh, do you think James W. Holsinger might be a homophobe? (Also: Fox News CEO Ailes: `The Candidates Who Can't Face Fox, Can't Face Al Qaeda'. Let's see Republican candidates face Randi Rhodes and Sam Seder, and then maybe the party that elected a man who's afraid of horses can show how brave they are.)

You know, I remember reading the Bob Herbert article Somerby is talking about here, but I didn't remember who wrote it. I feel dirty.

Fred Thompson, happy to lie about Valerie Plame. He plays a tough prosecutor on TV, but in real life, he's soft on criminals.

You know, it's really not very long, you ought to read this thing if you've never done it before. Really.

Kurds vs. Turks - It's so awful when you're friends hate each other.

The mystery of George Bush's love life

RIAA forced to drop case due to lack of case. Good. (via)

Breaking 211 years of media silence, George Washington has decided to criticize the Bush administration's handling of Iraq.

Catch the Wind.

21:30 BST

Life and media

I remember after 9/11 trying to explain to some Americans that you can't suddenly upend your existence just because there is terrorism - that that really is letting the terrorists win. People made fun of the use of that phrase - "If you don't shine your shoes, the terrorists win." So then I would tell them that, after all, the British had managed to live life as normal despite the fact that the IRA was using Britain for target practice. And people said, "How do you put up with it?" Which was supposed to mean the British people were foolish not to throw their whole way of life overboard so they could clamp down on terrorism. (In fact, Margaret Thatcher had tried a little of that, and her anti-terrorism laws made a laughing stock of the whole process and actually created sympathy for the IRA. The bombing stopped not because of the laws, but because - after those laws were overturned - the government changed tactics completely and started working for actual peace. By talking to people.) But the point is, you can't live your life in fear, nor do you need to. Bloomberg was right about this. As is Barbara O'Brien. Life goes on.

Also via Maha, I finally learn what an important, insightful, influential blogger has to do to get the attention of The New York Times (outside of Paul Krugman's column): Die. This infuriates me. If they'd had any dedication to intelligent news and analysis on their pages, Steve Gilliard would have been quoted there frequently, been asked to write op-eds occasionally, and maybe even invited to write a column for them. But that didn't happen, because their agenda didn't really include informing the public and pursuing the truth about the important issues of the day. Damn them. But at least they had the decency to publish an obituary. Too bad they couldn't recognize him while he was alive and it really mattered.

At the other end of the spectrum, Jon Carroll at The San Francisco Chronicle likes one blog article so much that he just quotes it, and lets a blogger tell you what is wrong with campaign coverage and news coverage in general. (Thanks to D.)

And in other media news, Dennis Perrin is having some Schaudenfruede over Alterman's arrest. (Thanks to Duncan in comments.)

Meanwhile, I see I am not alone in my opinion of James Carville.

16:47 BST

News and events

Coalition for Voting Integrity says, "Dr. Steve Freeman of the University of Pennsylvania, author of Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count, and Mark Crispin Miller, NYU Professor of Media Studies and author of Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They'll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them), on Voice of the Voters! Wednesday, June 6, 8-9 PM ET."

The free podcasts of Seder on Sunday are available here, and this week's show is now posted.

Greg Palast says "Conyers Challenges Bush For G8 Action on Vultures: Congressman John Conyers, still in the thick of his hearings on the firing of US Attorneys, is preparing a new target for investigation: Vultures. We're not talking about the feathered birds of prey, but predators with allies in the White House and Swiss bank vaults full of untraceable currency. These speculators buy up the debt of the poorest nations on the planet for pennies on the dollar - then use legal extortion or less-than-legal bribery to extract payments from these nations - payments equal to five, ten or twenty times what the vultures "invested." Conyers has personally informed George Bush that he expects the President to join the other G8 leaders to put the vultures out of business." Greg will have the story tonight on BBC2.

Jerome Doolittle has posted an excerpt from E.J. Dionne's 1996 book, They Only Look Dead, which jumped the gun on predicting progressive dominance of the political spectrum.

At Think Progress, Schlozman's Inadvertent Confession: Any Group That Works With Minorities Is `Liberal', and Gonzales Contradicts His Sworn Testimony About Bush's Warrantless Spying Program - and Tim Griffin can't find a job.

What did we tell you? If Democrats don't act to hold the administration in check, voters will turn on them. They'd better find a way to change this perception fast, or they will lose it all over again.

Eric Alterman gets arrested! (There's even video.)

It's so nice to see Republicans showing so much sympathy for criminals.

14:00 BST

Fannish - but in a bad way

MediaBloodhound's article about a stupid NYT article gushing about the strong and disciplined Rudy Giuliani attracted the attention of the author himself during a bout of egoscanning and garnered a reply, which generated some thoughts from Digby.

I also had some thoughts while reading this, such as, "So the NYT is just a collection of third-rate fanzine articles for reporters, now?"

No, I don't mean that fanzine articles aren't any good - some of the best writing I've seen anywhere - on just about any subject - has appeared in fanzines. And many of those pieces could easily have appeared in more widely-circulated, professional publications.

But a signature of fanzines is their insularity, their in-jokey, insidery, self-referential approach, and the fact that they generally are playing to a very small audience of people who all know each other. There's no point in printing up thousands (or millions) of copies of a publication that only a few hundred people will understand. Which is why most fanzine editors don't bother to waste time and money stapling and mailing out more than maybe 200 copies of a zine.

And, more and more, a reader of The New York Times has the feeling they're looking at the fanzine of a group of people who are practitioners of an arcane hobby that we outsiders don't get and aren't meant to understand. They write for each other, not for us, and yet they are baffled by the fact that fewer and fewer of us feel like forking over cash to read what is essentially personal writing and general performance for their friends rather than, well, a newspaper. Remember, I'm saying this not just as someone who used to work at a real, grown-up, daily newspaper, but also as someone who has been nominated three times for a Hugo for fanwriting, so I really do know what I'm talking about - and, guys, these fanarticles that have been appearing in The Newspapers of Record aren't just bad political reporting, but they're lousy fanarticles, too.

(And the other thing about fanwriting: You don't expect money for it. No wonder these people feel threatened by bloggers - there's no way they can compete with Firedoglake and Glenn Greenwald.)

In other news....

Scott Horton at Harper's on A Blow for Justice at Gitmo: "The decision handed down today by Colonel Peter E. Brownback III, the military judge in Guantánamo, throwing out the war crimes charges leveled at Omar Khadr, is a watershed event." (Thanks to Apikoros for the tip.)

For those who were thwarted in their attempts to record Parkinson's interview with David Tennant, here's Part 1 and Part 2. (More stuff here.)

01:31 BST

Tuesday, 05 June 2007

Tell them: Only paper ballots will do

An interesting state of affairs, and a question, from The Brad Blog:

For months, supporters of Rep. Rush Holt's Election Reform Bill (HR 811) - from computer scientists such as David Dill and Avi Rubin, to extremely powerful advocacy groups such as People for the American Way (PFAW) and VoteTrustUSA --- have been telling critics, who believe that Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen systems are antithetical to democracy, that an amendment to his bill, requiring a ban on such systems, could not be passed by Congress.

They appear to have accepted the talking point as gospel, and thus have argued that any attempt to amend the current bill (and the matching one in the Senate) is a fruitless endeavor, and we should therefore, support the bill as is because something is better than nothing.

In the case of PFAW, they've actually been responsible, in no small part, from selling that line to the public.

Never mind that if the many respected Election Integrity advocates and computer scientists repeating that unsubstantiated argument actually announced they would not support any federal Election Reform legislation that failed to include such a ban --- one which most of them have said they'd support (PFAW not included) --- that we might actually get such a ban added to the bill.

Nonetheless, despite my best efforts, I have yet to be able to find a single Congress Member who supports the bill as currently written, without such a ban, who will go on record --- or even admit off-record --- that they would vote against the Election Reform bill if it included a ban on DREs.

I have yet to be able to find one.

Anyone have a name for me? Even just one?

Good question. How about if we all call our reps and ask them whether they would vote for or against a ban on Direct Record Electronic touch-screen machines? Ask them if they understand that the only truly verifiable voting method requires an actual, auditable paper ballot. Tell them to accept no substitutes, and to insist that the ban on DREs be included in the Holt bill.

22:46 BST

Fighting the good fight - in court

I hope it works.

My thanks to voxd for pointing me to the link I was looking for earlier for this story from Saturday:

A federal judge yesterday ordered the military to temporarily refrain from awarding the largest security contract in Iraq. The order followed an unusual series of events set off when a U.S. Army veteran filed a protest against the government practice of hiring what he calls mercenaries, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The contract, worth about $475 million, calls for a private company to provide intelligence services to the U.S. Army and security for the Army Corps of Engineers on reconstruction work in Iraq. The case, which is being heard by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, puts on trial one of the most controversial and least understood aspects of the Iraq war: the outsourcing of military security to an estimated 20,000 armed contractors who operate with little oversight.

Brian X. Scott, a 53-year-old Colorado man, filed the complaint in early April. He argues that the military's use of private security contractors is "against America's core values" and violates an 1893 law that prohibits the government from hiring quasi-military forces.

Scott's challenge set off a domino effect, prompting the Government Accountability Office to dismiss protests brought by two major private security contractors the Army had removed as potential bidders -- Erinys Iraq, a British firm, and Blackwater USA of North Carolina.

People should have been on this the minute it started, not just because it is illegal, but because it's an insane way to run a war. If Karl Rove really had the talents of Machiavelli, even he would have put his foot down - Machiavelli warned against this kind of thing.

There are other reasons to be disturbed by these contracts as well, and they go straight to our national security: Blackwater is an organization that is part of a movement to overturn the American form of government. The United States should not be paying to provide funding and experience to a private army that is under the command of an enemy of the United States.

(Of course, you could say that about training Iraqis, too.)

19:30 BST

A few things

On a day like this, even going to the dentist is not so bad. Well, except for the needles, the drilling, the numbness that will eventually become pain, and the bill. But my, it's lovely out there.

Anyway, I got back in and see via Atrios that the letters testifying to Scooter Libby's wonderfulness from his friends who think treason is nothing to lock someone up for have been published, one of them is a long and heartfelt testimonial from Mary Matalin and James Carville. Can we start putting an (R) after his name, yet? (I didn't check to see if anyone praised Libby for the great job he did getting Marc Rich that pardon.)

Bob Herbert talked to Al Gore and now it's in the NYT:

"One of the hallmarks of a strategic catastrophe," he said, "is that it creates a cul-de-sac from which there are no good avenues of easy departure. Taking charge of the war policy and extricating our troops as quickly as possible without making a horrible situation even worse is a little like grabbing a steering wheel in the middle of a skid."

There is no quick and easy formula, he said. A new leader implementing a new policy on Iraq would have to get a feel for the overall situation. The objective, however, should be clear: "To get our troops out of there as soon as possible while simultaneously observing the moral duty that all of us share - including those of us who opposed this war in the first instance - to remove our troops in a way that doesn't do further avoidable damage to the people who live there."

I asked if he meant that all U.S. troops should ultimately be removed from Iraq.

"Yes," he said.

There, that was easy. Why is it so hard for everyone else? (Read it for free here. And an unimpressed review of the Democratic debate, where Hillary Clinton said a lot of frightening things, just aside from the bit about how we're safer now since 9/11.)

17:59 BST

Links for lunch

Since the Republicans have now decided it's okay to prosecute William Jefferson, it's time to look for his replacement, but what are the choices? BooMan says Derrick Shepherd looks better than the DLC candidate, but we're not so sure about him, either. (Although I do find people who like war but won't fight in one detestable, I'm not one of those people who thinks that merely having served in the armed forces makes you a great candidate, by the way. A lot of people refused to serve precisely because they understand how horrible war is. If you're against blowing up other countries for no good reason, chances are that joining the military is not high on your To-Do list.) Meanwhile, just How Close are the Turks & Kurds to War?

Chris Floyd on Gulagian's Island: The Deadly Farce of Bush's Gitmo Tribunals: "Ladies and gentlemen, we give you George W. Bush: the only man in the world who could screw up a kangaroo court."

Johann Hari on Iraq's Mercenaries - With A Licence To Kill: "Iraq is rapidly vanishing into the mists of uncollectable, unknowable news, with information travelling only as far as an Iraqi scream can be heard. But sometimes, if you peer closely, you can glimpse reality. Last week, Shia militiamen seized four "security contractors" working for the Canadian company Gardaworld. Buried in the story of this small horror is the bigger tale of a vast shift in how Western wars will be fought in the 21st century if the American right has its way - and one of the great lost scandals of this war." (I'm looking for a link to the story about the guy who is suing because using military contractors is illegal, but I can't seem to find the right keywords at the moment. I'm sure you can help.)

Cab Drollery: "It's about time that the Democrats in Congress, especially those on the Senate Judiciary Committee, start using some of that powder they have so assiduously kept dry over the past seven years. They can start with a particularly noxious nominee for the Fifth District, US Court of Appeals." Leslie Southwick is a racist who hates people who have to work for a living.

When Novakula joins the chorus of people who insist that massive law-breaking is no big deal, Digby notes the gall of right-wingers who have no controlling authority, in conscience or in law: "Sorry, I'm fresh out of compassion for Republicans. As far as I'm concerned, Waxman should ruthlessly go after every single case. It is a moral hazard to allow these people to continuously get away with things of which they accuse others. It's got to stop."

Bradbury even more of a crackpot than I thought! "But as Will Frank points out, in 1979 Bradbury wrote a "Coda" for a new paperback edition of the novel, in which he began by discussing the dangers of letting outraged "minorities" determine what may and may not be published[.]"

12:42 BST

And now a few words from...

...Al Gore:

I'm optimistic, because we have faced grave dangers before, and I truly believe that the people of our country care so passionately about breathing life into American democracy that these new tools we have available to us are going to be protected and then used vigorously.

But make no mistake. These problems cannot be solved simply by casting a vote or simply by writing a letter to the editor. These are systemic changes that have to be addressed. And truth is elusive, but when we are guided by the rule of reason it is a goal that we seek together.

We will fix these problems when We the People decide that nobody else is going to do it for us, but that we have to become personally involved in saving democracy.

10:41 BST

A bunch of stuff

Oliver Willis on the debate: "Hillary Will Win: That is, if the campaigns of Obama and Edwards continue to kind of dither and spin their wheels in the mud like they essentially did during the debate tonight, Senator Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. She took up a role of leadership and they deferred to her. If those three candidates continue on the paths that they're currently on, she will win that fight." Also, "Hollywood Actor Fred Thompson: Too Lazy To Answer A Simple Question," and "Hamdan, Khadr: What Happens When You Practice Law Conservative Style."

Scott Lemieux: "Marty Lederman points us to an interesting WaPo article, in which a few members of America's tiny minority of serious, principled "pro-lifers" have come to see that "Partial Birth" bans are silly, irrational laws whose primary purpose is to separate money from their wallets and funnel it to the Republican Party. Focus on the Family, however, maintains that the bans do have an upside: the law does increase the "danger of internal bleeding from a perforated uterus." If you don't believe me that most of the American forced pregnancy lobby cares a great deal more about punishing women for sexual choices they don't approve of than protecting fetal life, well, I say we take their word for it."

Paul K. Sonn on The Fight for the Minimum Wage: "Voters in several states soundly approved minimum wage increases last fall. But now state legislatures, with a push from industries that employ low-wage workers, are hard at work to gut the new laws."

Thers is taking a holiday, and VA is one of the volunteers sitting in at Whiskey Fire, starting with this post: "I started digging around this here left blogosphere some years ago as a young, foolish conservative."

I am proud to have been born in Takoma Park, which says impeach Bush and Cheney. (And so, of course, does Liz Holzman.)

If you live in Ohio, you might want to let your reps know that you want to protect free speech for ordinary people.

James Wolcott on Steve Gilliard.

03:16 BST

Monday, 04 June 2007

In other news...


As usual, conservatives talk big, do nothing about Gonzales.

Majikthise: "I'm not sure what to make of this article about an American torturer-turned-whistle blower who confessed to abusing prisoners in Iraq." (via)

Why can't they prosecute this? (Weak stomach warning.)

The cure for "ooga booga fever" may be to bang your head against a wall.

Meet the Zimmers - Really old people (led by a woman using a Zimmer frame) walk the crosswalk at Abbey Road to sing "My Generation" to highlight their complaint about being treated like refuse.

"What's the statute of limitations on interfering with a Federal election?"

22:11 BST

Ray Bradbury: An even worse writer than I thought

So, Bradbury now says that the only book of his I'd ever liked isn't even about what it appears to be about, and that Fahrenheit 451 has been completely misunderstood:

Bradbury still has a lot to say, especially about how people do not understand his most literary work, Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953. It is widely taught in junior high and high schools and is for many students the first time they learn the names Aristotle, Dickens and Tolstoy.

Now, Bradbury has decided to make news about the writing of his iconographic work and what he really meant. Fahrenheit 451 is not, he says firmly, a story about government censorship. Nor was it a response to Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose investigations had already instilled fear and stifled the creativity of thousands.

This, despite the fact that reviews, critiques and essays over the decades say that is precisely what it is all about. Even Bradbury's authorized biographer, Sam Weller, in The Bradbury Chronicles, refers to Fahrenheit 451 as a book about censorship.

Bradbury, a man living in the creative and industrial center of reality TV and one-hour dramas, says it is, in fact, a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature.

"Television gives you the dates of Napoleon, but not who he was," Bradbury says, summarizing TV's content with a single word that he spits out as an epithet: "factoids."

That might have been an interesting book, debatable though the point might be, but he didn't write it - instead, he clearly wrote a book about government censorship. It may very well be that people are watching vapid television shows, but that doesn't mean they are a replacement for books. Nothing in the book (or the movie) of F451 indicates that the primary example we have of an avid TV fan, Montag's wife, would be reading books if she weren't addicted to the screen. And Bradbury seems to have forgotten that not all books are of high intellectual quality, and a lot of written material was never any better than what television has to offer. More than that, Bradbury, like a lot of people, harbors the illusion that back in the olden days, everyone read. Well, no, they didn't. Back in the olden days, lots of people couldn't read at all, and those who could didn't necessarily spend all that much time doing it. (Many couldn't - it's not that long ago that a huge segment of the population worked 12-hour days, seven days a week.)

And he's almost on to something, in that it serves someone's purposes to fill the media up with disconnected factoids that dissuade people from looking more deeply into what's really going on in their world. That might have been an interesting book, in the hands of a decent author.

But Bradbury thinks he wrote a book that is about how all that television just makes people stop reading books, and yet everyone who reads it thinks it's about government censorship because the story is about a government censor and the people who refuse to go along with the censorship because, despite the existence of vapid television, they still like books.

He says this while sitting in a room dominated by a gigantic flat-panel television broadcasting the Fox News Channel, muted, factoids crawling across the bottom of the screen.
Yes, of course he does, the tedious old fart.

19:43 BST

Good medicine

My friend Linda noticed a post in one of the sf mailing lists about Michael Moore's (temporarily) anonymous gift of cash to an anti-Moore blogger whose wife needed surgery, and she said:

I was actually approached by Moore's production company to be interviewed for the film. The segment fell through in the end but we corresponded about it quite a bit. It all had to do with the British medical approach to my breast cancer surgery as opposed to what would have been the US approach

Essentially, I felt I was given enough information, given choice in how to deal with the diagnosis and supported in my decision to go for a mastectomy with an immediate reconstruction. (just had my 5 years post-op checkup and still in the clear, btw). In the US women given diagnosis similar to mine would have to go to several specialist, a lumpectomy (or two) before being offered a mastectomy and should they want a reconstructed breast go back for yet another surgery. So possibly three or more surgeries (on a health plan, if they're lucky), each with their inherent cost financially if not physically & psychologically - compared to my one (on the NHS).

The question was, who benefits from the US approach (ka-ching!)

So yes - I look forward to the film as well.

Now, there are both medical and psychological issues about the advisability of a mastectomy without first seeing if a lumpectomy will do, but it appears Linda had gone over those options and made her choice, and that's fine, too. My mother, on the other hand, went through the American experience Linda describes (but without reconstruction).

But of course, she left out the best thing about the NHS, which is that you can get good medical care without having to go through all the tsouris of worrying about costs, co-pays, deductibles, and whether your insurance company will cover you. You go to your doctor, you get referred, you have your consultations, you get your surgery and everything that goes with it, and you are never presented with a bill.

And that fact alone makes healthcare much cheaper in Britain, because of the savings on administration. No one is vetting you to see if you "deserve" healthcare, if you're poor enough, if you've paid enough. You get it when you need it.

Naturally, this makes a tremendous difference to the stresses you have to deal with when making medical decisions, but you don't have to feel guilty about it, because whenever you've been employed, you've already paid. Everyone who works pays. (And everyone who smokes pays whether they work or not.) It's not too much - it's just enough. And when you can't work because you're ill, that doesn't change things - you're covered.

I advocate single-payer for the United States because I can't imagine anything better being suggested in the American discourse on healthcare (and look how long it took just to be able to mention it), but to be absolutely honest, I think the NHS that Nye Bevan created (before Thatcher and Blair got their hands on it) was probably the best healthcare plan there is. You don't "buy into" it, you don't sign up, you don't do anything - you just have the money taken in taxes and never even notice you're paying for it when you work, or when you buy a pack of fags, and then you don't have to think about it when you go to the doctor.

Which brings us to Paul Krugman, who is waiting to see some character from candidates who are timidly trying to negotiate their way into a healthcare plan that would satisfy both the power-players and the electorate.

But that's not going to happen, because the least expensive way to handle healthcare is to remove those power-players from the field, and no one who suggests that will be allowed to run for president.

16:02 BST

Announcements and advice

Action Alert: Tell Congress to Vote NO on H.R. 811 :"H.R. 811 is a well-intended but deeply flawed bill that will do more harm to the cause for free and fair elections than it will help. Can we count on you to help make it the bill we need it to be? Monday, June 4 is H.R. 811 Call-in Day. We need you and five of your friends and family to make a call or send a fax to your Congressperson, telling him/her to vote NO on H.R. 811 until crucial improvements are made." See also Voters United.

Koufax Award nominations for the blog Most Deserving of Wider Recognition. At least I short-listed in this one again... *sigh*

Digby reviews last night's debate and has some good advice for Dennis Kucinich. (I like a lot of Kucinich's positions, but this is one of the reasons he bugs me - he doesn't get that, for all the flaws of the Democrats, it's to the advantage of the Retaliban that the distinction between the two parties is blurred as much as possible. It does not help progressives. Don't do it.)

Boor at DKos has gone through the links for Steve Gilliard's colonialism series to fix the dead links for the articles Eric posted at Wampum, and has the repaired version, with the titles for each post, here. Brilliant at Breakfast also put together a list of other articles. And The Tattered Coat has a good tribute post. Oh, and MadKane reposted her 90-second audio interview with Steve with his advice to the Bush administration.

Whatever you're doing that turns your ordinary punctuation into funny symbols and boxes, stop doing it. Compose your blog posts on TextPad or even Notepad if you have to, but stop using whatever you're using that messes up your apostrophes and dashes and quotation marks, because it's really distracting and ugly and I hate it.

10:58 BST

Sunday, 03 June 2007

Midnight snack

Elixir de Lingerie by Lejaby Rosace full cup bra

Bra of the Week

They didn't study. Also, Top 10 Fashion Suggestions for Nerds. (via)

Don't Cry for Venezuela's RCTV: "As I write this, I am looking at a Venezuelan newspaper, El Diario, from February 10, 1992. The editorial that would have occupied half of page 2 is missing. Page 4 is completely blank. The contents were censored by the government of the then president Carlos Andres Perez. The newspaper is just one of many horrible memories of the pre-Hugo Chavez days in Venezuela's "exceptional" democracy."

MahaBarb on Idolotors: "It is extraordinarily difficult for a person to be handed any power at all and not use that power to some ego-driven end, and I don't see that the religious have ever been any better at it than the non-religious."

Roy Edroso on The downside of Jesus freaks, and The Rude one with a WTF? (And also with a look at the anti-Americanism of Cal Thomas.)

Digby: "A lot of tributes to our friend Steve Gilliard have mentioned the fact that there aren't enough African American voices in the blogosphere. As it happens there are quite a few and some of them have created a nice site called to access them. I thought you might want to add it to your bookmarks."

23:42 BST

Found items

What would a headline like "Brown pledge to protect liberties" be about? Oh, yes, Gordon Brown has proposed changes in the anti-terrorism laws that would include holding suspects without charge for more than 28 days and allowing police to continue questioning suspects after they have been charged. Of course, he promises that no one's civil liberties will be lost. Of course.

This post at Brad Plumer's site is a few weeks old, but since immigration is the talk of the town again, worth going back to. People talk about how Mexicans have been coming up to America in droves because their economy is so bad, but their economy has always been bad compared to ours. What makes the real difference is that we put no effort into enforcing laws against hiring undocumented workers. Brad quotes Nathan Newman: "Here's the core reason why I think most (not all, but most) of those saying they oppose immigration because of its effects of lower-income native workers are not really serious or, worse, just covering straight-up nativism with a faux charitable concern. In the Bush 2007 budget, a grand total of $177 million was appropriated to enforce our wage and hour laws. Compare that to the $13 billion in the 2008 Bush budget for border enforcement -- nearly ONE HUNDRED TIME AS MUCH spent for border enforcement as for wage enforcement." Of course. Pushing down wages is the whole point.

Jon Swift gives Mr. Gilliard his highest accolades: "Steve hated BS so I am not going to lie to you. We did not agree on much. He said the most scurrilous things about our President and he hated the Yankees, which is the finest team money can buy, and loved the Mets, a team only a Democrat could love. He actually believed that "liberal" was not a dirty word and predicted even before the War in Iraq began that it was doomed to failure instead of the great success it has turned out to be. Yes, he was wrong about just about everything." (Via another tribute, from Tom Watson.)

I see the nominations for Best New Blog in the Koufax Awards are up (and congratulations to our friend Monkeyfister). There are only a few on the list that I recognize, so I'll have to take some time to familiarize myself with them. In the meantime, y'all might want to check them out and tell me what you think of them.

And speaking of Monkeyfister, he's posted Al Gore's GWU speech from last Tuesday.

19:32 BST

More net-nuggets

Bill Moyers found tape of Lyndon Johnson telling McGeorge Bundy that escalating in Vietnam will be a terrible idea - and yet, he did it anyway. (Also: 93.5% of Americans agree with Atrios that the boy-king is not gonna pull the troops out of Iraq, and apparently that no one is going to make him do it, either.)

The media has decided that "faith" will be a major issue in the campaign, even though they're the only ones who particularly want to talk about it.

Jo Fish has some choice words about the mercenary force in Iraq. These people aren't working for us, remember, they are working for Blackwater's private Christian army, and no law appears to control them.

Philadelphia has passed a resolution to make the Boy Scouts quit discriminating or pay full market value for use of city property they have been using for free.

Hey, Jonathan Alter noticed that BushCo. policy is about imperialism. Isn't watching these people catch up exciting?

EBW has posted links to Steve Gilliard's series on colonialism at Wampum. (Other old stuff from Steve's original site is here.)

15:13 BST

Wisdom of the Internet

I didn't post anything about the blow-up at Live Journal earlier (mainly because I was obsessing on other things), but it seems they were stampeded into a sex panic by a right-wing hate group and closed hundreds of accounts because they deemed the content "inappropriate" or claimed it was illegal to post depictions of illegal acts. Of course, this last is nonsense, since a considerable proportion of fiction - not just in books, but in movies and television - revolves around the commission of illegal acts and portrays them regularly. Most of them are not explicit sexual descriptions, but the prohibitions on sexual material aren't about the legality of the acts, they are about the sexual nature of the acts (even if they are legal). We still get plenty of assault, murder, and robbery, despite the fact that these acts are illegal. We get explicit portrayals of them, and we even see heroes breaking the law. Portrayals of rape are less explicit - again, because it's sexual rather than because it's illegal. However, the illegal part of rape is okay to show even on television - that is, the fact that a victim is being forced. We also see plenty of depictions of fraud, embezzling, bribery, and blackmail, and everything right on down to illegal parking. (In any case, fictional characters really don't need to be protected from being the subjects of slash fiction, especially if they are, like Harry Potter, 17 and therefore above the age of consent.)

"Oh God, doctor, I was hoping it was cancer." One doctor speaks out on why he performs abortions.

McCain: Lying or stupid? Okay, maybe he just got things backwards. It's the Republican thing to do. But guys, come on, this whole "straight-talk" business about McCain is just a media creation - McCain gave them a lot of access in 2000, and they loved him for it. It has nothing to do with whether he was honest or had principles or any of that. He's also always been a right-wing loon, and no, you would not have liked him as president.

Eric Alterman is Worrying about Fred Thompson - "Unfortunately, it doesn't matter whether he'd be a good president. All that matters is that he can play one."

At Angry Bear, cactus takes on the task of making a detailed analysis of which party performs better for America's economy - and so far, the Democrats are winning on every measure. (But we knew that.)

Sara at Orcinus has a fine tribute to Steve Gilliard. (via) Sara is right, too, that we have too few black voices in the liberal blogosphere - I'm still a bit shaken about losing Uppity Negro - and Steve was wonderfully insightful and vigorous on racial issues (and class issues, and sexism, and on corporate culture). I've been missing that for months.

13:20 BST

I have seen in strange young eyes familiar tears

Craig Murray had much the same reaction as I did to being saved from yet another terrorist plot: big yawns. But Digby has another take.

At Pacific Views, the trouble with "free-market" solutions to healthcare is that they require lots of regulation and even bigger big government.

I didn't know Steve Gilliard personally, never corresponded with him, never told him how much I loved his stuff, and I'm sorry about that, but the guy would catch fire over something and you'd just think, yeah! I was so glad to have him on our team. I knew he was dying and I hated it, but it's still a bit of a shock that he's gone. To Jen and all those close to him, I wish you peace and strength.

"Old Souls"

01:30 BST

Saturday, 02 June 2007

Get back to where you once belonged

Scott Ritter wants Repudiation, Not Impeachment:

The impeachment of President Bush would not in and of itself terminate executive unilateralism. It would only limit its implementation on the most visible periphery, driving its destructive designs back into the shadows of government, away from the public eye, and as such, public accountability. Impeach President Bush, yes, if in fact he can be charged with the commission of acts which meet the constitutional standard for impeachment (and I believe he could, if Congress only had the will to do its job). But to truly heal America, we must repudiate everything President Bush stands for, in terms of not only public and foreign policy, but also in terms of his style of governance, since the former is derived from the latter.

Repudiation is a strong term, defined as "rejecting as having no authority or binding force," to "cast off or disown," or to "reject with disapproval or condemnation." In my opinion, the complete repudiation of the presidency of George W. Bush is the only recourse we have collectively as a people to not only seek redress for the wrongs committed by the Bush administration, but also to purge society of this cancer that threatens to consume and destroy us as a whole, and which would continue to manifest itself in our system of governance even after any impeachment proceedings.

I think impeachment would be part of repudiation, but not the end of it. Impeach them all, and restore the law.

19:13 BST

Media notes

Potemkin Paper? - In The Nation, Eric Alterman writes that The New York Sun doesn't seem to have the characteristics of a real paper with real readers, despite its claim that it reaches "150,000 of New York City's Most Influential Readers Every Day" - but that it does seem to influence some of the most naive readers anywhere - mainstream journalists.

Jamison Foser on A rich man in a poor man's shirt - Fred Thompson rents a pick-up truck to look "folksy", Giuliani is - well, Giuliani - and so on, and so on, but when John Edwards cares about the poor, that's "hypocrisy" - and lots of "journalists" write headlines saying that headlines about his "hypocrisy" are overshadowing his proposals to help the poor (which they can't be bothered to write about).

Norman Pearlstine, former editor in chief at Time, says Patrick Fitzgerald hurt the press, but I think his argument hurts the press more by implying that all sources in all cases are equal. The press should never have license to conspire with government officials to shield their illegal operations from public scrutiny. It is precisely to expose such operations that the idea of shielding the press exists at all. (Via the media round-up at Make Them Accountable.)

14:27 BST

Morning reading

The VFW gets behind Marine Cpl. Adam Kokesh after the administration spitefully tries to rescind his honorable discharge for taking part in anti-war protests. Trying to hush up and punish fellow Americans for exercising the same democratic right we're trying to instill in Iraq is not what we're all about," said Gary Kurpius, national commander of the 2.4 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars. [...] "We all know that people give up some individual rights when they join the military," Kurpius said. "But these Marines went to war, did their duty, and were honorably discharged from the active roles. I may disagree with their message, but I will always defend their right to say it."

We already know that the right-wing counts it as "bias" to allow liberals to speak in public at all, but the YAF is nuts when claiming that, "college administrators are using commencement ceremonies to send their students off with one more predictable leftist lecture." Of course fewer far-right hacks are invited to speak at universities, since they are unrepresentative of the population and are part of a movement to destroy universities and their very purpose. They don't respect science, they don't respect facts, and they don't know what they're talking about most of the time. And that's just leaving aside the problematic definition of who is "not conservative".

Alterman on Who Really Supports the Troops: "In fact, in addition to all the damage that Bush's administration's war has done to the people it has killed and maimed, to the reputation of the nation it has destroyed, to the budget it has busted, and to the constitution it is sworn to defend, one of its most lasting legacies has been to undermine the military institutions the president professes to admire so much." But the media still pretends otherwise.

Glenn Greenwald on the right-wing's inability to understand that to say we are better than Al Qaeda, we must be better than Al Qaeda, though they think they can sidestep that responsibility simply by saying that Al-Qaida does it, too.

Steve Soto on permanent bases and the devastating effects of BushCo. "security" policy on our national security.

Have a nuclear nightmare: "Research now indicates that the enormous tanks holding discarded submarine fuel rods in the Andreeva Bay may explode at any time, creating a nuclear nightmare for Northern Europe."

I see via the Haze Filter that the Alabama Dem blog is probably the place to keep up with local coverage of the Siegelman story, which they think may really be the one to blow the lid off the whole US Attorney scandal and puts it right in Karl Rove's pants.

The Saturday Cartoons from Bob Geiger.

12:28 BST

Facts and figuring

Bill Scher says it's Time For Congressional Oversight On Permanent Bases: "They've never explicitly talked about staying in Iraq permanently. And now they really can't, because it's unequivocally against the law. But they're subtly making it clear they're not planning to go anywhere. Which means Congress has the ability to investigate and assess if the White House is breaking the law with those "three or four large bases." If they don't try to enforce the law that they passed, then the law is meaningless. Every Democratic presidential candidate is opposed to permanent bases. Some of them are in Congress. The candidate that actually takes the permanent bases law seriously, takes the lead on oversight, and forcefully challenges the foreign policy objective of permanent occupation, will make a strong impression.

Ah, Greg Palast has the cause and effect: "Tim Griffin, formerly right hand man to Karl Rove, resigned Thursday as US Attorney for Arkansas hours after BBC Television 'Newsnight' reported that Congressman John Conyers requested the network's evidence on Griffin's involvement in 'caging voters.'"

John Dean on The Bush Administration's Dilemma Regarding a Possible Libby Pardon notes that Fred Thompson "has either lied or could not be troubled to inform himself of the facts before he attacked Special Counsel Fitzgerald."

Josh Marshall notices something odd about the steep sentence the government is asking for in the conviction of former governor Don Siegelman (D-AL), and wonders if it fits in with the US Attorney Purge, then notices there is a Rove connection in the mix.

Laura McGann notes that, "Many of the controversial interrogation tactics used against "war on terror" detainees in Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan are similar to strategies the United States feared its worst enemies would use against captured soldiers during the Cold War." (As some people may remember, the Soviets used these methods not to get real intel, but to force false confessions.)

Let's hope hurricane season is mild this year - "the incompetents are still in charge over at the Department of Homeland Security."

Oh, look, another one of those music widget things.

02:39 BST

Friday, 01 June 2007

What they're saying

Robert W. McChesney and Mark Weisbrot on Venezuela and the Media: Fact and Fiction: "To read and view the U.S. news media over the past week, there is an episode of grand tyranny unfolding, one repugnant to all who cherish democratic freedoms. The Venezuelan government under "strongman" Hugo Chavez refused to renew the 20-year broadcast license for RCTV, because that medium had the temerity to be critical of his regime. It is a familiar story. And in this case it is wrong."

How The Ruling Class Thwarts Democracy: "Since President McKinley and the Spanish-American War, overseas adventures have been the oligarchy's response to the public's demand for reform. Whether it was Populists or Progressives, rank-and-file Republicans or Democrats leading the charge for domestic change, the major party bosses and their partners on Wall Street have worked together in "collusive harmony," in the words of political historian Walter Karp, to divert the country from its just demands by embroiling them in deadly foreign entanglements."

Cursor: "It's feared that Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, after a year in office, has started a "creed stampede," as biologists and other Fish and Wildlife employees get the memo."

Peggy Noonan goes dry for Bush: "For almost three years, arguably longer, conservative Bush supporters have felt like sufferers of battered wife syndrome."

Nigerian families sue Pfizer after being used as guinea pigs in an astonishingly unethical trial. The suit "further alleges that Pfizer did not tell parents they were free to refuse the drug and instead choose an internationally approved treatment for meningitis being offered at the same site free of charge by a charitable medical group."

If Hollywood Fred Thompson gets into the race, Will Durst says we've got the people to run against him.

19:05 BST

On the landscape

A different kind of 1% doctrine - because if you weren't 100% clairvoyant, you were just plain wrong.

This is so stupid that even the administration noticed and made them stop.

August J. Pollack says, "Next Monday, they'll rule on how tightly their feet should be bound ... the Roberts majority isn't just anti-abortion. It's anti-women. And the sooner liberals and progressives start telling moderate and even conservative women that even if they don't like abortion, these people also want your daughters to not get the same pay, not get the same education, not have the same chance to play sports or even try and have the same jobs, the better. Because even if a mother thinks abortion is wrong, I doubt there are many mothers who think a judge has the right the tell them their daughter isn't allowed to do something because she's a girl." (via)

Oh, man do I wish I'd waited 'til this month to go home so I could go to this! Especially now that I know James Triptree Jr. Digby is going to be there.

Help save

I've tried to explain to punk-era music fans why the Beatles were such a big deal, but there's no way to get across to them just how absurd was the period they guided us out of. Tristero tries to help. (And - m'god! - Ken Starr is still babbling to Jeff Gerth.)

Wimmin are scary.

Fred Clark on religious Totalitarians vs. pluralists, Crediting women, and Jeff Buckley, ten years gone.

I guess these would go well with this. (via)

17:46 BST

More news and comment

Via the link-rich "Election Central" post at TPM Cafe, an interview with Al Gore forces me to link to The Politico, where he defends Congressional Democrats for trying to use the political process to slowly, slowly, move toward change on Iraq. But I was interested to note that the interviewer, John Harris, formerly the political editor at The Washington Post, also said this: "Gore's refusal to be pinned down can be frustrating. But he is fun to talk to - at least I have always thought so. We have known each other - not intimately, but cordially - since the 1990s, when I covered the Clinton White House." Does anyone remember Harris writing anything during the 2000 campaign to suggest that he thought Gore was anything but a bore and a stiff who couldn't keep his story straight? And I loved this: "I asked Gore Tuesday what he made of the argument that his candidacy was victimized by false narratives that took root in the news media."

Harold Myerson also defended the Democrats in the WaPo the other day, pointing out that it wasn't exactly quick in Vietnam, either: "It took the Democrats, and their dovish Republican allies, four full years to pass a cutoff of funds for U.S. ground forces in Vietnam, by which point Nixon had already pulled all ground forces out (though the legislation kept him from putting those forces back in, which was not a mere academic possibility). That hardly means that Mansfield betrayed the cause of peace, any more than Nancy Pelosi's failure to shut down the war last week means that she sold out to the Bush administration. Mansfield put one antiwar bill after another to a vote, winning more and more support each time around, leaving Nixon with fewer and fewer options. Pelosi is steering the same course, for a war even more reckless and absurd than Vietnam." The bulk of that article is about how we are "Dying for an Iraq That Isn't," and Brian Beutler says Myerson is writing such good stuff that the WaPo might notice and fire him.

On the other hand, Chris Dodd is standing up, and he participated in a vlog at Firedoglake to answer questions and keep the fire going. This is something I think we can all get behind.

In a rare departure from normal GOP behavior, one non-wimp Republican legislator actually fights crime: "Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, 61, a Republican who represents Morris County and parts of Somerset, Essex, Sussex and Passaic counties, tussled with one of four men who the police say stole Mr. Frelinghuysen's wallet as he was walking in Georgetown on Thursday night. Mr. Frelinghuysen's office issued a statement that he had not been injured in the confrontation." Frelinghuysen, despite coming from a rich family (his father was also in the House), served in Vietnam. I vaguely recall that he is pro-choice.

Josh Marshall: "It's amazing how picky people are nowadays. A big oil company whose executives have been indicted for bribing multiple Alaska politicians can't even be in charge of renovating the state's senior senator's house without people making it like there's something fishy going on."

And now, some paranoid TB speculation.

13:50 BST

Spotlight on...

Anti-Secrecy Bill Gets Secret Hold: "A bill designed to combat government secrecy won't be coming to a vote on the Senate floor any time soon. An anonymous Senator who apparently thinks the government isn't secretive enough has placed a secret hold on the bill." But then it turned out to John Kyle (R-AZ), "because of what he said was the Justice Department's 'uncharacteristically strong' opposition."

John Edwards and Al Gore "put the issues of who owns the Internet front and center." This stuff is important - you should be getting that letter to your reps ready.

Brokeback Hill.

12:25 BST

Forewarned is forearmed

Matt Taibbi warns that Rudy Giuliani is worse than Bush: "He's cashing in on 9/11, working with Karl Rove's henchmen and in cahoots with a Swift Boat-style attack on Hillary. Will Rudy Giuliani be Bush III?"

Bill Scher reminds us that Alito's reactionary opinion in the Ledbetter case on discriminatory pay was predictable before he was confirmed, and it was possible to prevent that confirmation with a little due diligence. Bill wants us to remember that for next time, but people, there are five of these people on the court, now, all apparently hostile to equality, and at least four of them have demonstrated that they should be impeached. Alito and Scalia are openly hostile to the Constitution itself, and lied to get onto the court. Yeah, yeah, I know it can't be done with the present Congress, but it's still a though worth holding in mind. These are bad, bad people.

If we don't fight those religious loonies over here, we'll be fighting them everywhere.

More E. Coli Conservatism, and Jon Stewart interviews President Al, and Keith Olbermann interviews him, too. (And is he going to run?)

Chaka Khan "trying to forget" singing at the 2000 Republican convention. (via)

03:07 BST

While I was out

Atrios is absolutely right about why we stay in Iraq. In the early days it was reasonable, I suppose, to wonder what the one reason for it all was, but these people have all said enough and done enough that by now their reasons are clear, and they don't all have the same reasons. I'm tempted to send that post to my legislators just as a reminder that we're watching and we know.

Darfur a threat to your soft drinks: The Sudanese ambassador gave a press conference and informed those present that if we didn't stop acting like there was genocide in his country they would retaliate by stopping the export of gum arabic, necessary for the production of soft drinks. That's right - they are holding your Coke hostage.

All one thing: Fred Phelps claims Brownback "likes what we're doing, and he tells me that." But, wait, is Brownback trying to sound like a rational raving loony? (via)

Monkeyfister learns about The Security and Prosperity Partnership Of North America, a "a trilateral effort to increase security and enhance prosperity among the United States, Canada and Mexico through greater cooperation and information sharing" - and he finds it scarier than PNAC, and just as freaky as the John Birch Society does.

01:55 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, June 2007

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