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Archive for March 2008

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Monday, 31 March 2008

Fruit of the web

It was Roy Edroso's turn to analyze the latest babble from The Cabbage, but he was more interested in the invisible McCain.

BTD has a post at Talk Left referring to a panel on media criticism at Eschacon where Eric Boehlert bemoaned the blogosphere's willingness to let the media get away with trashing one of the Dem candidates: "It's dangerous because the media criticism has to be consistent and relentless, and we can't very well say, 'You can't go after our candidates ... except this one.' I get nervous about pushback regarding disingenuous coverage - our response needs to be, 'You can't treat Democrats this way.' When people in the left blogosphere are quoting an anonymous Matt Drudge source, it makes me nervous." Also, "Why Edwards Didn't Endorse Obama, Superdelegates and More." Meanwhile, I probably wouldn't refer to this post now except that Jeralyn is citing Ann Althouse, which means it's already Out There - a list of things that will no doubt be circulating as examples of Obama doing what eight years ago Al Gore was accused of - puffing himself up with "misstatements". (Also, note this comment on the thread for a little refresher on sexism.)

A reminder About the Social Security trust fund from Paul Krugman (via).

"Adrift On The Currents Of The Law" - Christy Hardin Smith says, "Jack Balkin has been conducting a fascinating series of discussions on the question of "living Constitutionalism" -- the "process of change through which constitutional doctrine responds to social and political mobilizations and long term changes in popular opinion about what the Constitution means." As we grapple with the Bush/Cheney Administration's actions to further their unilateral executive objectives, we have confronted -- time and again -- the questions of checks and balances and accountability. And the lack thereof for far too long, far too often."

"Gender Betrayal : Clinton Never Learned to Play the Woman Card" - Actually, my main reason for linking this story is that it's so rare to see nice photographs of Hillary before she went blond.

At Open Left, A VERY Cheap Turnout-Boosting Method Democrats Need To Embrace from Paul Rosenberg, and a big, fat, linky post from Natasha.

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18:23 BST


More trick or treat

Patrick Nielsen Hayden took his camera out in Spitalfields Market yesterday and had an unpleasant encounter. I forced him to upload the photo and a post about it from my diningroom table, and there's an interesting thread with related stories and suggested "reasons" for stupid anti-camera tricks, none of which are very convincing. He was at Spitalfields at the time to meet Cory Doctorow, so another post has also ensued at Boing Boing.

Steve Clemons says, "The World is Watching and Wants More: Clinton-Obama Race Should Go All the Way."

Some McCain mouthpiece went on Scarborough's show and claimed Obama and Clinton plan to raise taxes "across the board", but of course the Scar didn't correct him.

Helen Thomas says, "Telling Bush the truth is costly." (via)

General conspiracy theory and paranoia aside, there really are unanswered questions about the murder of Bobby Kennedy.

This Obama ad is pretty good.

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12:17 BST


Driftin' and driftin'

Jane Hamsher on McCain's zombie lie about complying with the rules on campaign financing, and on China: Official Organ Harvesters For The 2008 Summer Olympics.

Spencer Ackerman in The Washington Independent on how Bush is trying to ensure a permanent occupation.

Jamison Foser: "Days of media obsession about Bill Clinton's comments -- featuring reporters ignoring the plain meaning of what he said and reading into his remarks things that he plainly didn't say -- perversely prove Clinton's point. This is exactly the kind of "other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics." This is the kind of nonsense the media want to talk about instead of meaningful issues. And some of them, deep down inside, know this is a problem."

Butterfield at Monterey.

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02:10 BST


Sunday, 30 March 2008

Stuff I saw

I see via Digby that I can vote for my favorite female blogger (of the nominees), but it's just not as much fun with only one category. Digby also recommends articles by Matt Taibbi and Walter Shapiro on the over-emphasis in this campaign on the behavior of minor players to the extent that they overshadow, well, everything else.

Like Libby, I don't want to share enthusiasms with The Washington Post, but also like Libby, I have to agree that the long campaign could be a very good thing if the candidates would just do more to sound like Democrats and less to sound like Republican opponents.

"Exiting the kingdom of reason" - Democrats are accused of it so often that emptypockets decided to figure out just what socialism is, whether we should approve of it, and whether we should object to being associated with it.

"The War on the Unique and the Unexpected -- and on Tall Top Hats: I recently wrote about the refusal of the United States government to allow Sebastian Horsley into our nation's sanctified realm, where our every thought and action are so astonishingly pure that Jesus would weep with envy. The United States launches criminal wars of aggression, it commits genocide, it tortures as a matter of national policy, yet the United States remains the sole salvation of the world, the last, best something or other of all that stuff in God's creation. Mr. Horsley, with his history of personal behavior that is not criminal by any reasonable measure, is not "our kind," he is not anywhere close to good enough for us."

Lara Riscol in RH Reality Check, "Silenced in a Sex Obsessed Culture". Also, a PSA in response to all those PSAs telling parents to talk to their kids, but only about what some government authority wants them to talk about.

Via Boing Boing, the NYT profiles Al Jaffee, who has drawn hundreds of Mad Fold-ins. Don't miss the interactive samples of his work. Gosh, I remember that!

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20:35 BST


Morning after

Fauve by Fantasie Amelie underwired balconette braBra of the Week

The Incredible Shrinking Think Tank - FAIR's annual study on think-tank citations (actually a conflation of think-tanks and spin-tanks) shows that they continue to be cited less often in the media. What hasn't changed is that progressive organizations receive only a small percentage of citations, while those FAIR calls "centrist" and those that are right-wing split the rest. "The decline in think tank visibility is not necessarily a bad thing. Past surveys (Extra!, 5-6/98) have indicated that think tank experts are rarely given an ideological label to put their claims in context. Given that FAIRís surveys have consistently found that these supposedly detached experts actually tilt toward the center-right, fewer of them spinning and shaping news coverage may be a net plus for media transparency, if not diversity."

Over at The Left Coaster, eriposte pretends to View With Alarm a post by Marc Ambinder examining the popular vote numbers for the Dem primary. More straightforwardly, an explanation that Clinton did not call for "tort reform" to protect predatory lenders from lawsuits from victims, but rather for protection of lenders from suits from "investors" that would prevent them from renegotiating loans to help victims.

When you really get down to it, the arguments that the invasion of Iraq would bring "success" for America on any measure other than the creation of chaos was a belief in miracles - that something that all of history told us could not happen would nevertheless happen. IOZ explains.

I think Chris Bowers just put the whole thing into perspective for me.

The movie about George Walker Bush isn't going to be quite what Simbaud envisioned.

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11:59 BST


Saturday, 29 March 2008

Your feet's too big

Sinfonian is liveblogging Eschacon. Now I know what NTodd looks like. (I know, I probably could have found out before, but I'm lazy.) Here's the first panel, about why we blog, I guess (I told you I'm lazy), with some useful quotes, such as: "Digby: the media failed in their duty to our democracy ... the blogosphere sprang out of that ... we still are outsiders." I'm jealous and wish I could be there but I just can't afford it. Anyone up for drinks upstairs at the Rugby Tavern?

NYT's Lichtblau Details White House Effort to Block NSA Story: "In excerpts from his upcoming book (Bush's Law: The Remaking of American Justice) published in Slate, Eric Lichtblau describes the surreal effort of the Bush White House to squash the New York Times' revelations regarding its patently illegal warrantless wiretapping. Lichtblau describes a last-ditch effort by the administration to dissuade the Times during a December 2005 meeting at the White House" The most astonishing thing about this story to me is that The Newspaper of Record actually fell for the incoherent excuses the administration offered for why that story should not be published. Did the terrorists really believe the US would not be spying on them? Did the NYT really believe there were no legal means for the US to do so? It makes no sense.

Atrios highlights a column by Joe Galloway at McClatchy that articulates pretty well what I feel about they way the administration treats - and clearly perceives - our troops, as if by signing up to serve, they'd agreed that the government could abuse them and throw their lives away for no good reason and several bad ones.

Yikes, Arthur needs our help! Do what you can, folks, he's doing some great work from his sickbed and all.

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14:30 GMT


All the shades of red

I haven't linked to the nipple-ring story because every time I see a reference to it I go into a towering rage about the way TSA drones have been given the power to hold you and all of your possessions hostage to their whim in the name of security theater. And, obviously, they know it. This is a particularly blatant example of it, but you sense it every time they insist to you that some innocuous item in your possession is deemed a threat to all civilization that you can't take on the plane with you and must discard it, probably so they can retrieve it and keep it. You just know. And there's nothing you can do about it because you paid hundreds or thousands of dollars to take this plane at this time because you need to get on it and everything will be ruined if you don't, so you have to put up with this horrible crap and abandon your pride and your belongings. And while you may tell jokes about it later and try to pretend it's no big deal, it's a big damned deal and if you aren't outraged by it you've already forgotten what "free country" means.

Arthur Silber: "Be sure to appreciate the magnitude of the destruction involved: not only has the United States destroyed a nation and over a million human beings. As was true from the beginning, the U.S. is determined to destroy logic, morality, and your capacity to understand or make sense of anything at all [...] This is now your world. And it will get worse."

Scott Horton on The Torture Team: "Is it really appropriate to honor the Bush Administrationís posture with so much learned analysis? I don't think so. In fact, the Bush Administrationís arguments do not meet a test of facial plausibility - as Meg Satterthwaite said, they are riddled with contradictions, irreconcilable with the actual text of the Convention, and for the most part just plain incoherent. So it makes sense to ask, 'What were they thinking?'"

Chris Floyd: "It can't be denied that an Obama presidency would be better in many respects than the Bush regime - if only for the replacement of the thousands of fanatics, cranks and witless apparatchiks with whom Bush has packed the federal bureaucracy. The ouster of these cadres will make an appreciable difference, on the ground, in the lives of many people. To cite just one instance, it is likely that an Obama administration (or a Clinton administration, for that matter) would restore the funding to family planning services and health clinics in the poorest regions of the world that Bush has maliciously - and murderously - cut off to please the religious extremists in his political base. That alone would save thousands of lives each year. [...] And so the question returns to the individual conscience: do you choose to support the chance - the hope - for some mitigation of the system's evils? Or do you reject the system altogether? Again, this is a balance that each person must strike for themselves. But it should be done with eyes wide open - and no illusions."

I wonder if Bernard Chazelle's election plan could really work. I see certain advantages in it aside from his stated purpose.

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11:48 GMT


Work all day, still can't pay the price of gasoline and meat

Bob Somerby expresses his usual exasperation with "career liberals" who act just as dumb as the media about how the media creates McCain the Hero-Saint.

Monkeyfister says Mish's blog has some useful discussion of those strange commodities prices.

We had enjoyed reading Teresa's post at Boing Boing in which she laid down the law on moderating comments, and it looks like we're not the only ones, because they linked to it over on the NYT blog, The Caucus, saying, "If you think we're tough with comment moderation, read some of the rules posted at Boing Boing, where disemvoweling is taking place."

Rachel Maddow interviewed Scott Horton about the Siegelman case and Phil Donahue about Body of War on today's show. If you missed it, you can listen on the stream for her most recent show (dynamic link).

Zevon live, "Mohammed's Radio"

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01:33 GMT


Friday, 28 March 2008

Cinnamon coffee

Cernig reports on more freedom and democracy in Iraq: "The Iraqi government's spokesman Ali al-Dabagh has promised that anyone taking up Muqtada al-Sadr's call for civil disobedience will be tried under Iraqi laws that mandate a death sentence, as Iraqi officials continue to insist that the Sadrists are not the sole target of their offensive in Southern Iraq"

Joel Connelly in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer says It's time to end mining industry welfare: "Two Northwest lawmakers, Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., have set out to reform this relic of the Gilded Age. Appropriately, they've picked a time when America is enduring another era of lax regulation and the pillaging of public lands. [...] Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, has adopted a broad stance against meaningful reform of the law, although abandoned Idaho mines leach pollutants into Washington-bound streams." (Thanks to Randolph for the tip.)

Pruning Shears on Tribal Conflict in America.

Watch John Gorenfeld's The King of America.

Blazing Saddles and signs of change.

A photograph

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20:11 GMT


Getting in front

At last! Yesterday Hillary Clinton made a statement on behalf of party unity, saying that voting for McCain would be a big mistake. And Barack Obama said, "There are going to be some bruised feelings, whoever the nominee is. We are going to have to come together and remind ourselves that there is a heck of a lot bigger difference between either Senator Clinton or myself, and John McCain" I think people need to hear both candidates say a lot more of this.

In other good news, The Washington Post reports: "More than three dozen Democratic congressional candidates banded together yesterday to promise that, if elected, they will push for legislation calling for an immediate drawdown of troops in Iraq that would leave only a security force in place to guard the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.. And Atrios says: "Democrats will only win on national security when people know where they stand. The message that low information voters need to hear is that Democrats want to get out of Iraq, and Huggy Bear and the Republicans want to stay there forever."

Cool photos of striped icebergs, via the delightful Biomes Blog. Also: Ask your doctor about Tequila.

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17:10 GMT


Snakes and ladders

Don Siegelman free pending appeal! (He owes a big thank-you to Josh Marshall and Scott Horton for that, too.)

Ezra Klein responds to the stupid WaPo article on how Barack Obama is a [fnord] "liberal": "Presumably, being 'a liberal' is bad because Americans disagree with liberal policies. But it's hard to find the policy plank of Barack Obama's that's wildly unpopular. That may make him timid -- (coughcoughmandatescough) -- but it doesn't make his ideas divisive. And if liberal just means broadly popular policy ideas, then it's obviously not a political danger. Yet it's still treated as a political problem, even though the word, in this article, is basically an empty container. Reading the piece is like watching the reporter drink water from an empty glass. To most readers, it sure looks like he's drinking something. But to anyone looking closely, there's no there there."

Something weird is going on with commodities: "Whatever the reason, the price for a bushel of grain set in the derivatives markets has been substantially higher than the simultaneous price in the cash market." This isn't normal, and no one seems able (or willing) to explain it. I don't know, either. I need someone to explain this to me. (Calling Brad DeLong....)

Paul Krugman analyzes what the candidates' proposals in response to the mortgage crisis tell us about how they might lead.

Mike Gravel becomes a Libertarian. I'm wondering if he knows what that means.

Jeremiah A. Wright writes a letter - he's pissed that he was interviewed for two hours by a New York Times reporter, supposedly about Obama's "spiritual biography", but you'd never know that from what appeared in the paper. (Thanks to Ruth for the tip.)

PNH informs me that 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann is a really great book that may completely alter your idea of how the indigenous populations really lived.

Mark Kernes at Adult Video News stomps all over Brent Bozell's "analysis" of the Fox "fleeting obscenity" case.

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12:10 GMT


A few things

All Spin Zone declares peace!

At FDL, Jane Hamsher, "Military Contractors: Bye-Bye Iraq, Hello US/Mexico Border: Now that Iraq is drying up as a cash cow for contractors, they're all shifting focus to the privatization of border security and high tech enforcement. One of the most troubling things about the Heath Shuler/Rahm Emanuel immigration bill are the provisions giving the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense the authorization to work together to "shock doctrine" the border and provide massive boondoggles to private contractors." Also: David Neiwert on The McCain of the Moment and Immigration, and Julia on Roger Stone's karma.

More reasons to be totally annoyed - apparently, Obama is a total liberal. Cooties!

At Sadly, No!, Gavin and Travis digest two articles by morons evaluating Obama's speech: Shorter Victor Frederick Isaac Douglass Hayes Hanson and Shorter Lisa Fabrizio.

And Great Lyrics Quiz Rock Roll The (via)

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03:55 GMT


Thursday, 27 March 2008

I heard it through the grapevine

So, Mumia gets a new sentencing hearing. I've always thought he should get a fair trial, but maybe that's just me.

Glenn Greenwald on What can and cannot be spoken on television, and some rare examples of what happens when someone goes off-script. (And more on the workings of the right-wing noise machine.)

It's So Bad, We Can't Know How Bad - Scalia thinks he knows exactly how many innocent people have been imprisoned. He doesn't know much at all.

In comments,* cgeye left me a link to a 2002 interview with Richard Widmark.

After all these years, is the Bush administration's Pakistan policy finally coming unstuck?

Lance Mannion examines the problem for the liberal media.

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17:23 GMT


Stops on the Infobahn

Okay, the sound on this video is a bit crap, but perhaps even more annoying than that or the fact that some idiot asked Chelsea about the sexual history of her parents is the news-dork's description of the question as "tough" rather than "stupid". In our media, idiotic questions are what passes for "tough" questioning. In any case, it usefully provides VastLeft with an opportunity to lambaste the purveyors of these "newsy" moments for giving us clips so edited that we can only imagine what happened and think we have the full story. (I've seen in various comment threads, for example, that people say they saw the full context of the Bill Clinton "Jesse Jackson" moment and in fact in a preceding question that was edited out, he had specifically been asked about Jackson - which would change the entire context - but since no video starts that early, we will never know.) And that gave some idiot the opportunity to revive another leftover anti-Clinton falsehood about President Bill's alleged perjury. Bill Clinton did not commit perjury, as anyone who has read the transcripts knows. That's why he wasn't convicted of it. It's amazing how many people think they know what question he was asked and how he answered without ever having read them. In any case, Leah and Lambert join in to fill out some history - a refresher course that a lot of people apparently need, since I've noticed that everything from Paula Jones and Vince Foster to Mena Airport seems to have emerged in comment threads all over the internet, only now coming from alleged Democrats. Those of us who can actually remember the '90s are not impressed.

Over at they NYT, they seem to have a very strange understanding of the word "renegade".

Gene Lyons: "In Time, Mark Halperin provides a list of 'Painful Things Hillary Clinton Knows - Or Should Know.' No. 7: 'The Rev. Wright story notwithstanding, the media still wants Obama to be the nominee - and that has an impact every day.' We've come full circle. So confident have the Beltway media courtiers grown in their social and political status that what once was furiously denied is now boasted about. Politicians may come and go, but Chris Matthews, Howard Fineman, Tim Russert and Maureen Dowd preside over a permanent House of Lords."

Charles says he wrote this because I worry. I'm not in the habit of telling people what to do, but if I were in charge, people would start arriving at Union Station on the morning of April 1st and start walking to the Capitol and camping out there for the rest of the month. Sooner or later, someone is bound to notice, even at the goddamned Washington Post. But since that's not going to happen, we could do The Responsible Plan.

Uh oh, they must mean me!

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14:28 GMT


I just want you to know I can see through your masks

Spencer Ackerman on The Obama Doctrine: "Barack Obama is offering the most sweeping liberal foreign-policy critique we've heard from a serious presidential contender in decades. But will voters buy it?" Also: Ezra Klein on How Insurance (Doesn't) Work, and Robert Borosage on the populist messages of Obama and Clinton.

Christopher Hayes: "But underlying the war are two deep dysfunctions that even the best, most mobilized anti-war movement continues to have a hard time over-riding. One, is the broad institutional failure among elites to recognize the war for what it was and is (a 21st century imperial project), the second is the breakdown of the basic, most fundamental mechanism of democracy that transmits majority will into government action."

Naomi Klein: "Despite the calls for Clinton to withdraw in the name of "unity," it is the very fact that Clinton and Obama are still fighting it out, fiercely vying for votes, that presents the anti-war movement with its best pressure point. And our pressure is badly needed. [...] Let's remember: unlike the outgoing Bush administration, these candidates need the support of the two-thirds of Americans who oppose the war in Iraq. If opinion transforms into action, they won't be able to afford to say, 'So?'"

Moqtada Al-Sadr Answers the Wall Street Journal.

I love this picture, which I found with a bunch of other neat stuff on this guy's pages, who I found among the free High Dynamic Range (HDR) wallpapers Dominic alerted me to.

Masters of War

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11:15 GMT


Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Deep in the weeds

Ruth hasn't been able to blog because of her injured hand, but she apparently heard something that forced her to send me an e-mail in spite of the pain: "Sec Treas Paulson just said 'innovation always precedes regulation' in our system. yeh that is theft precedes arrest in any other language."

Chris Bowers has some scenarios for Ending The Nomination Campaign, and suggests that Hillary staying in the race could, in the long run, be a positive for Obama's general election campaign. And I believe this, as long as both candidates are prepared to start mending some fences instead of continuing to mow them down. Right now each side sees the other as having gone beyond the pale, so that's going to take some work, and I don't think they can afford to wait until the convention if they want to win in November. (However, he has endorsed Barack Obama For President on the grounds that he's already won the nomination.)

James Dobson is disturbed that "liberals" want to ditch abstinence-only. (Oh, and remember when there were only 20,000 names on the terrorist watch list? It's bigger, now.)

Thing is, I've seen white guys who are much the same.

The Normal Breast Gallery. (Via Echidne, thanks to apikoros.)

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22:23 GMT


News and muse

"The Maverick and the Media" - Neal Gabler on how McShame manipulates the media, and they love him for it, in The New York Times.

Lambert recommends marriage counseling, and is trying to keep count of "intact bloggers" - that is, those who haven't become extreme partisans for one of the two nominee-wannabes - and he's looking to them to help heal the wounds. Personally, though, I don't see how bloggers, let alone those who have remained neutral or tepid in their support of their candidate, can do that. I think it's up to the candidates themselves to discourage the kind of intramural warfare we've been seeing, and to try to bring their own supporters back into the fold. That's not what they've been doing; they'd better get started before the whole thing blows up in all our faces. Too many people have stopped looking to a Democratic win in November and made the nomination of their candidate the only priority.

So, when I get angry, that's no big deal, and when someone gets angry because their health insurer killed their child, that's just tough, but angry shareholders, well, that's another matter.

"Torture Architect John Yoo Hypocritically Blasts Democratic Party For Violating Constitution's Intent." I spent a moment in "words fail me" mode after reading that headline. Then I thought, "If John Yoo is against it, maybe it's not such a bad thing." OK, that's cheating. But I confess to being a bit less outraged by the prospect of the superdelegates than a lot of people seem to be. They exist to protect the party, and a lot of them are the bloggers and grassroots types who have worked for the party for the whole term or longer, not just during the elections. Given that a lot of strange people have been voting in the Dem primaries lately, that may be no bad thing. Remember, there have been several varieties of Republicans voting in the Dem primaries: those who have had it with the Republicans and actually prefer a Democratic candidate (usually Obama, apparently); those who still intend to vote for the Republican in November but are resigned to a Democratic win and therefore are trying to choose the Dem they dislike the least (usually Obama), and those who have responded to Limbaugh's call to mess up the Dem nomination by voting for Clinton. Suppose the superdelegates ask themselves which Democrat people who might vote Democratic will actually vote for in November. Their calculus may be different from yours.

Neil Aspinall, 1941-2008. Statements here from The Beatles/Apple Corps and from the Aspinall family.

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14:34 GMT


In the pixels

With the caveat that rumors that something is being "distributed by the Clinton campaign" don't necessarily amount to anything, distributing something like this would be... unfortunate. Then again, there's this nasty surprise. [Update.]

Still, this sounds more rational than this.

Euphemism and American Violence: "A rich enemy excites their cupidity; a poor one, their lust for power. East and West alike have failed to satisfy them.... To robbery, butchery, and rapine, they give the lying name of 'government'; they create a desolation and call it peace." (Thanks to Bruce F.)

John McCain agrees with Osama bin Laden.

Hmmm, looks like conservatives are trying to pretend there is no inherent flaw in their essential ideology, again. Even David Frum wants to "fix" conservatism... to make it more like liberalism.

Atrios recommends Free Ride: John McCain.

Dad's Pregnant.

No Rats Allowed: Jimmy Durante explains how to fight an economic depression. Via another linky post at The Impolitic.

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11:41 GMT


Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Trawling the web

I can't help getting the impression that Chris Floyd is worried. His last few posts have these titles:
"Worried Yet? Saudis Prepare for "Sudden Nuclear Hazards" After Cheney Visit"
"Still Not Worried? Petraeus Blames Iran for Green Zone Attack"
"Worried Just a Bit? Bush Launches Economic 'Shock and Awe' on Iran"
Truthfully, I've been worried. How about you?

And the real question no one ever asks is: Who cares if invading Iraq was a distraction from Afghanistan if there was never any intention of getting Afghanistan right, either?

Guess what else Hillary Clinton said to piss me off this week.

Cookie Jill says forget the "escort" - Spitzer had to go down because he was getting in Bush's way.

Kung Fu Monkey has A Message from Management to White People. And a longer follow-up.

PZ Myers was Expelled! (via)

Thanks to apikoros for giving me the link to Bras for a Cause.

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23:10 GMT


Taking notes

People have started to ask the question: Where does McCain's credibility on numerous issues he knows nothing about actually come from?

Socialized wealthcare - why shouldn't you go broke making other people rich?

As oil prices rise, Cheney praises Saudi Arabia.

4,000 commas.

Ojibwa warrior finds a path in the Koran. (Thanks to Jeff for the tip.)

This year's unusual bra auction report. Thanks to MadKane, who is singin' the Presidential Election Blues.

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18:01 GMT


Open windows

I can't tell you how much it infuriates me when some Republican jackass says it's okay to throw your life away in a phony illegal war on behalf of some pointless exercise of their imagined manhood because you "volunteered". No one volunteered for this. No one. (Also: Connecticut paper apologizes for endorsing Lieberman in 2006. Plus! Barney Frank To File Bill Legalizing Marijuana!)

U.S. Health Care in Red and Blue: "Predictably, 68% of Republicans believe the U.S. has the best health system in the world, compared to only three in 10 Democrats."

A lot of long-time observers were just waiting for McPeak to say something stupid, and they weren't wrong. The man has a history.

Forty Acres and a Mule: Or Why Pat Buchanan Should Shut His Mouth. (And I'd add: Changing welfare rules to force fathers out of the home didn't help, either.)

Maru learns the meaning of voter fraud. Seems the Republicans just keep doing it. (Also: Too late.) (And a picture.)

The Editors sees some telecom back-scratching.

Outside Agitators Again - Some folks may say they are sent by Iran, but that's not where the real outside agitators come from.

How Sean Hannity celebrated the anniversary of the My Lai massacre.

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12:11 GMT


More analysis

Why Jane Smiley Was Right About Iraq: "I was against the Iraq War by Christmas, 2000, just as, we have found out, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush were for the Iraq War before the 2000 election. [...] In my view, Greg Palast has made an excellent case that the Republicans set up and executed a fraud in Florida in 2000. There were two halves of the fraud -- stripping the voter rolls ahead of time and blocking the recount afterwards. Possibly, the plan was simply to hand Florida to the governor's brother as a kind of present. I don't know that the Republicans stole the whole national election -- I suspect they just got lucky. What antagonized me was not the loss of the election, it was the pushy sneering and gloating with which the Republicans declared the triumph of their dishonesty. The adding of insult to injury signaled to me that Bush and Cheney and their supporters were ruthless cheaters -- that ruthless cheating was a deep and permanent character flaw that all of them shared. Their agenda was visible by February, when they began to order American planes to fly over Iraqi territory, an attempt to draw Saddam Hussein into hostilities. He didn't bite, but I always remembered the attempt. Once again, dishonesty, bullying. And then there was Enron."

Wright And Wrong: "For me, the fact that Barack Obama may have sat through those sermons and listened to them and didn't stand up and march out as people seem to think he should have done, settles some important questions. I have not been able to discern until now whether he truly understood the fault lines that run through our nation's history or had any sense of just how hard it was going to be for him to make good on all these promises of reconciliation. I couldn't honestly tell if he got that we have to fight for progress and sometimes get bloodied up, both literally and metaphorically. Those sermons answered that question for me. If he's been listening to Reverend Wright then he understands that very well." (Also: Vote for the Democrat or... What Digby said.)

Everyone keeps saying it all got so complicated that none of these financial geniuses could figure it out anymore, but it didn't take a rocket scientist to see it coming.

The Inflation Chronicles at The Cunning Realist. (But you're not supposed to know.)

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00:05 GMT


Monday, 24 March 2008

Things they said

Steve Soto says that, "While both Democratic candidates toss around asinine explanations on what they meant in their latest pie fight," John McCain is Auditioning For President: "Perception is everything, and pictures tell the story far better than words. Senator Obama, pull yourself away from battling Hillary and start running against McCain now."

"Parable of Impatience: It has been stated with granite implacability that the bailout of the banking and finance industry - already radically taking place, hundreds of billions of public money simply tossed up to the winds without the bat of an eyeball - must of course happen, there simply couldn't be an America without crooks and swindlers laughing as they stole other peopleís money. Just as the earth is round, George Bush is a felon, the sky is blue, the San Francisco Giants are not going to the playoffs, so we must bail out the bankers and financiers. [...] I went to the Hillary Hub and the Obama Town Hall this morning and there is nothing, nada, crickets, the sounds of silence, ay curumba zero on the collapse and bailout of Bear Stearns and the $200 billion unsecured revolving fund the Fed set up for the banking industry. Seriously, how is this possible?"

Josh Marshall responds to some mail: "What I am saying is that no one can run away from the choice every American with the franchise will face in November. The next president will either be John McCain or the Democratic nominee. That's an immovable fact. Not voting or voting for some protest candidate doesn't allow anyone to wash their hands of that choice." (via)

40 years ago: "He fired at [the baby] with a .45. He missed. We all laughed. He got up three or four feet closer and missed again. We laughed. Then he got up right on top and plugged him."

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19:07 GMT


It feels so right

At Daily Kos, smintheus looks at Real ID as a wedge issue:

It's just beyond me why more Congressional Democrats have not seized upon Real ID as an issue that could split the Republican party down the middle.

[...]

Drafted by the slightly daft James Sensenbrenner and inserted in the conference report for a must-pass emergency appropriation bill (for tsunami relief), Real ID was enacted without debate, without hearings, without input from Democrats. Like the Patriot Act, also rushed through in an underhanded and undemocratic way, Real ID gives the federal government sweeping powers - some of them apparently unconstitutional - while suppressing the means to resist it. For example, Real ID has a provision stripping courts of jurisdiction in any federal seizure of private land in the "vicinity" of national borders, for vaguely defined security purposes.

Real ID is opposed fervently by voters and interest groups across the political spectrum, especially among liberals and libertarians but also many small-government and states-rights conservatives. It's constituency consists mainly of Sensenbrenner, Michael Chertoff, the Heritage Foundation, neocon bedwetters, and the extreme fringes of the anti-immigrant booboisie.

It's widely resented in nearly every corner of the country, especially in western states where Democrats are positioned to capitalize on growing resentment of Republican arrogance and abuse of power. Gov. Schweitzer of Montana has told the federal government it can "go to hell" as far as pushing Real ID on his state.

And so on. So why aren't Democrats grabbing this issue and running with it?

I reckon the reason there is less coverage of the occupation is that journalists are less interested in it, and they think their lack of interest is "the public's" lack of interest. (And I think it's not just that it's dangerous to cover wars - more journalists have died in this quagmire than went down in the entire 20 years of the Vietnam quagmire. Iraq is special, because there appears to be a conscious effort to kill journalists in this one.)

I also think Paul Krugman overestimates the economic virtues of war - if you take money out of the things that actually create more good jobs for buck in order to spend them on war, you've just thrown that money away. You can do a lot more for the economy and the job situation by spending it on other things.

I was suddenly overcome with a desire to hear this song.

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15:19 GMT


Slow glass

There were several minutes where I could entertain fantasies that the snow would stick. But then it all went away.

John McCain and the French. Plus, John McCain's surrogates.

An excerpt from Eric Alterman's new book, Why We're Liberals.

We know why conservatives want to get rid of public broadcasting, but what's the NYT's excuse?

What the polls tell us.

"The swear-to-Koresh truth about Bill Clinton going on Rush's show." Which is, basically: He didn't.

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12:25 GMT


Sunday, 23 March 2008

A little bit of soap

Glenn Greenwald on how right-wingers respond to Barack Obama's invitation to a conversation on race.

So, it turns out that the whole business on Spitzer was your basic Republican oppo job by the same guy who shut down the 2000 Florida recount and has that anti-Hillary site with the interesting forced acronym.

Current scuttlebutt, in contrast to last week, is that Edwards won't endorse anyone - which is probably a good idea.

At this point it really is a bit of a joke to have State warning Americans that they might be under surveillance if they go to the Chinese Olympics.

Who has the creepiest pastor? John Gorenfeld knows.

Break Out the Shovels - 'cause Bush would like to bury some history.

If anyone wants to get into the details of the MI/FL delegate thing, Lambert did a big info dump and there's some interesting back-and-forth in the comment thread. And for serious junkies, some electoral math.

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22:38 GMT


There's no place like home

DKNY Lace Allure underwired braBra of the Week

Well, that was embarrassing. Y'see, posting here from any computers other than my own is just too complicated to cope with. And everyone would have been happy to loan me their power supply...but no one else had one that would fit. (My, fandom has a lot of Macs!) So I just wandered around the strange hotel - it put me in mind of the old Sheraton Gormanghast with its twisty corridors, numerous bars secreted about the place, and my own really nice room I kept wanting to invite people back to lounge around in with me. Except that some parts of the hotel were freezing and the others were boiling, and the place was too spread out and there just wasn't one central meeting place where you knew you could find people. So I did talk to Neil Gaiman for a few minutes in a hallway where we promised each other would get a meal together and then didn't run into each other again, and most of the convention was pretty much like that. At one point I actually phoned Roz to find out where she was, and it turned out she was about four yards away from me but I hadn't been able to find her. I went down to the "Internet Lounge" a few times to do a little browsing, but it was really un-loungy and freezing and slow and I couldn't stay there long.

Anyway, I'm back in my house, now, and PNH says Jim Henley's response to all the "What I Got Wrong About Iraq" posts is the Best Jim Henley post ever, and it's certainly damn good. (And if you ever couldn't figure out why Atrios keeps harping on the theme that the invasion of Iraq was about how some people never got over the Sixties - even though many of these people were not actually in the Sixties - Andrew Sullivan should leave you in no doubt. These people never got it that it wasn't just hippies who objected to the war, it was everyone, because everyone with any brains figured out that war is a big mess that kills lots of people and you just don't do it unless you absolutely have to and you can never know how it's going to end up but it's incredibly unlikely that lobbing a bunch of bombs on people and shooting them up is going to magically result in a free democracy. This shouldn't need explaining, least of all just because your grandparents didn't like their kids' haircuts and flowery shirts. It's not just that peace is a neat little flower-child idea, it's that peace works better.)

Right, I've kicked my boots off and had a cup of my coffee and the heat's working, so I'm going to try to catch up, now.

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19:10 GMT


Friday, 21 March 2008

Quick links

I did something extremely stupid. I failed to pack my power supply. So I'm not using my computer a lot. I may find a workaround, but I don't want to spend a lot of time browsing or composing in the meantime, so here are just a few links with little explanation:

What John Cole got wrong about Iraq.

A pretty good sermon

Eyes not on prize.

Security stupid.

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23:49 GMT


Trick or treat

What they did in suburban Philly to mark 5 Years Too Many

"Obama's odyssey on race [...] Part of the church's appeal was its deep roots in the black community, something Obama himself lacked - and yearned for - having grown up in Hawaii and Indonesia." (via)

One reason you know Hillary's experience isn't worth much is because she's focused so often on those boring and pointless women's and children's issues.

Robert Fisk: The only lesson we ever learn is that we never learn: "But we have used these parallels before and they have drifted away in the Tigris breeze. Iraq is swamped in blood. Yet what is the state of our remorse? Why, we will have a public inquiry - but not yet! If only inadequacy was our only sin." (via)

Proving A Negative: "Hillary Clinton was constantly attacked by the media, other Democrats and the GOP for playing too large a role in her husbandís administration. Now that same media is falling all over itself to prove she didn't. Funny, that."

More reasons why I can no longer identify parody. Yes, Purim is exactly like Halloween.

Watch the trailer for Phil Donahue's new film, Body of War.

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15:36 GMT


Slip-slidin' away

Anything to win:

The Michigan legislature adjourned without having voted on a proposed primary revote. The revote is likely dead. The DNC was on board. Clinton donors offered to fund it. Barack Obama was reported to have opposed it, and was piling on legal objections, to prevent it. The Obama camp had already made clear that they would prefer the delegates be split 50/50, and the campaign today repeated that they would consider such a split to be fair. Of course they would. Not because they're evil or bad people or don't think Michigan voters are relevant (as the dishonest bloggers at dishonest blogs would frame it, were Clinton playing this game), but because they're a political team playing politics-as-usual. And as is the case with most politicians, they will do anything to win.

In Florida, plans for a revote also collapsed, this week, and after the same basic dynamic had played out: Clinton was open to a revote, Obama was opposed, with Obama suggesting a 50/50 split of the delegates. Meanwhile, a St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9 poll showed one in four Florida Democrats may abandon the Party, if the results of the already held primary are not counted. I'm guessing those wavering Democrats will not be convinced to support a candidate who even obstructed efforts for a fair revote.

In the thread to this post at Talk Left, a commenter asked, "Is it just me or does it seem that it doesn't matter who gets the nom at this point... both candidates will be represented as having achieved the nomination through less than noble means." And was answered with:
No, it is not just you

I'm wondering about that too. We know that Obama supporters will view a process that seats FLA and MI in accordance with the January 29 vote as illegitimate because it breaks the rules -- even though the rules contemplate the DNC reversing itself, not to mention certification by the credentials committee. They will also view a Clinton nomination as illegitimate if it is achieved by superdelegates voting for her despite Obama's lead in elected delegates. They will view it that way even if she comes in with a lead in popular votes.

Clinton supporters will view a process that effectively disenfranchises the FLA and MI voters -- and this includes the stupid 50-50 proposal -- to be illegitimate. It doesn't matter whether Clinton would have retaken the delegate lead if you seated FLA and MI, or whether she would have retaken the popular vote lead if counted the FLA and MI popular votes. They will view this disenfranchisement as the result of Obama's tactical resistance, made all the more egregious by the fact that Obama didn't need to disenfranchise the voters in order to keep the delegate lead.

I have my own views. But I am just one voter. But if a significant number of people on the losing candidate's side feels that the nomination was tainted, we are giving McSame an advantage in the fall.

These are the kind of things that worry me. How can we fix this?

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02:51 GMT


News and stuff

Scooter Libby disbarred - This was apparently automatic after he got convicted for being a lying scumbag.

Why Did the House Democrats Stick Together on FISA? Jane Hamsher says, "Liz Rose from the ACLU offered up an interesting theory while we were at Take Back America about why the House Democrats stuck it to the Republicans on FISA. Basically, it was her sense that they were so pissed off about what the Republicans did during the Tom Lantos memorial that it gave them both the motivation and the cohesiveness to do what they wanted to do anyway, which was collectively say 'no' to retroactive telecom immunity." And TeddySanFran reports that Debra Bowen is a "Profile in Courage" for her actions as California Secretary of State in ordering review of the state's voting machines and then de-certifying them when they turned out to be seriously flawed.

Have I mentioned lately how much I dislike Lanny Davis? Lanny Davis has idiotically suggested that Hillary Clinton and John McCain should each pledge to make each other their vice presidential pick, despite the fact that the hold completely opposite views on every major issue. But go read that list of issues Ezra lists, just in case you need another reminder of just how stupid it sounds to claim she's no different from McCain: stupid enough that Lanny Davis would agree. (via)

I love the letter from Gene Kelly's widow dissenting from a comparison between her husband and Chimp-toes.

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00:48 GMT


Thursday, 20 March 2008

Ride the wild surf

I've been getting e-mail today from people who are basically saying that all this unity stuff is all very well but they just can't in good conscience vote for that other Democrat if their own candidate doesn't get the nomination. Well, yes, I guess another million dead Iraqis and even more with shattered bodies - not to mention a few million Iranian people who will just love having this disease spreading to them, in addition to the millions of Americans who are losing everything thanks to conservative policies - will understand that they are necessary sacrifices to your need to avoid having to hold your nose and vote for someone who annoyed you in the primaries. Because that other Democrat has been so divisive that you must divide the party. It could not possibly be that maybe your Democrat has failed to prevent this kind of divisiveness - perhaps even encouraged it. But I've got news for you: Both candidates have done things that have created these problems, and both candidates still bite, but not as much as letting McCain get into the White House will bite. Please remember that this isn't about you and your delicate nostrils.

Nancy Pelosi got it together on the ethics bill, and Diane eats crow and offers kudos.

I still miss the days of Watergate, when the press corps finally had enough and said to Nixon's spokesbeing, "You're lying, Ron." It's actually amazing that there's not full-on rebellion when Perino gives them stuff like this. But then, that's been true pretty much since the first days of Ari Fleischer, too.

Rick Perlstein has three numbers he wants progressives to think about for the next few months. We need to make sure that the Republicans never want to hear the name "Bush" again in an election year. Reagan was pretty unpopular before they started their restoration project, remember.

Musical accompaniment.

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17:03 GMT


Uneasy ride

Rachel Maddow was saying on last night's show [dynamic link for most recent show] that, despite the noise that's been made, more people have watched Obama's speech on YouTube than have watched the videos of Rev. Wright, there, and that the Democrats are letting themselves be bullied by the right over this issue. Josh Marshall has a letter from a reader pointing out that the Democratic pushback has been weak because Hillary partisans aren't really fighting on this one and the party leadership is trying to stay neutral. But this is something the right-wing uses to bash all Democrats, and I think we should all be screaming about it. There should be a lot of loud complaining about the fact that McCain has assiduously courted public endorsements from major public America-haters. There should be intense complaining that the media first questioned Obama's claim to be Christian on no reasonable evidence, although they've always senselessly accepted Bush's unbelievable claim that Jesus is his favorite philosopher, despite ceaseless evidence to the contrary. We should treat this as an opportunity for progressives, not just part of the jockeying for the nomination.

Bertie stands up for Hillary: "After repeated charges from the Obama camp that Hillary Clinton lied or exaggerated her role in the Northern Ireland peace process, Ireland Prime Minister Bertie Ahern firmly dismissed the criticisms of Senator Clinton. Prime Minister Ahern said Hillary 'was 'hugely helpful' in the process both as first lady and as a U.S. senator.'" (Also: A Vote for Hillary is a Vote Against Femininity!)

Congratulations to Sinfonian for getting a hotlink off the WaPo for putting pressure on Debbie Wasserman Schultz over her refusal to campaign against her Republican friends.

Dept. of IOKIYAR:* Hating America in Church.

Confronting Racism Like Never Before, or Not.

Someone asked what those 29% who still approve of Bush are thinking, and Watertiger responded, "They're not."

Romance.

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13:42 GMT


Heat or light

Libby is Searching for unity in Leftopia: "For myself, I don't care who wins the damn nomination. I only care that a Democrat gives the next State of the Union address. "

Turkana on Foolishness: "When Obama supporters accept the word of Matt Drudge in promoting a smear against Hillary Clinton, they only look like fools. When Clinton supporters gloat that Bill O'Reilly has joined them in celebrating the meltdown of a once credible Democratic blog, they also look like fools. When Democrats seek validation for their disdain of other Democrats in the reports or opinions of Drudge, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Matthews, Dowd, Faux News, or MSNBC, it is not their disdain that has been validated. Just stop."

And then there's ABC, where Brian Ross and the ABC News Investigative Unit have combed through all of those thousands of pages of Hillary's White House schedule they asked for and found...Monica Lewinsky. Susie Madrak is outraged - and has the phone number for Ross.

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11:36 GMT


A ton of links

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman say Ohio's Voting Machines Are Now an Official Crime Scene: "At least 15 touch-screen voting machines that produced improbable numbers in Ohio's 2006 statewide election are now under double-lock in an official crime scene. And the phony "Homeland Security Alert" used by Republicans to build up George W. Bush's 2004 vote count in a key southwestern Ohio county has come under new scrutiny."

More evidence that what everybody really needs is the NHS.

Ruth says the market is not working, and Diane reports that the experts on experts say the experts were wrong.

I don't think the 48-state strategy is going to work for us, Toto.

I haven't even seen Obama's new speech on Iraq, but here's a fairly broad range of reactions from around Blogtopia* on the previous speech: Jonathan Singer (and a follow-up), Universal, and Jerome Armstrong at MyDD; Melissa McEwan at Shakesville; Mimikatz at Open Left (via Suburban Guerrilla). At Hullabaloo dday. (And if I'd been in the congregation, I'd have said, "Good sermon. But you don't seriously believe that Hillary's never been dismissed intellectually even though she was the smartest person in the room, do you? [wink] That happens to all smart women, regardless of color."). Arthur Silber (thanks to Bruce F), and James Wolcott (thanks to scottreads). TBogg may have found an even stupider response than Sowell's. (Thanks to Thom for that one.) And Roger Ailes. And I found a good point in this one from scottreads in my comments.

Paul Lukasiak in a comment at Corrente: "There is a big difference between the Fed coming up with 200 billion, and Congress spending it. And the difference is this - when Congress spends money, its added to the budget, and the national debt. When the Fed 'comes up with' money, it literally creates it out of thin air. LITERALLY. The Fed has not budget for this kind of thing, it doesn't have to be appropriated by Congress, because before the Fed comes up with the money, it does not exist."

Tom Tomorrow on the narrative.

International Association of Time Travelers: Members' Forum Subforum: Europe - Twentieth Century - Second World War, Page 263 (Thanks to Dominic.)

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01:20 GMT


Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Crackpot

Okay, I think Thomas Sowell beats the record so far:

The great unasked question for Senator Obama is the question that was asked about President Nixon during the Watergate scandal; What did he know and when did he know it?
You'd think he'd at least be talking about something else, but that's actually his response to Obama's speech about Jeremiah Wright. And:
Like the Soviet show trials during their 1930s purges, Obamaís speech was not supposed to convince critics but to reassure supporters and fellow-travelers, in order to keep the "useful idiots" useful.
Mother of God!

For an alternative view, my thanks to Ann Granfors for alerting me to what The Rude Pundit saw when he liveblogged the speech.

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14:44 GMT


News and analysis

Lives of Other Folks: "In the first air strike of the Iraq war five years ago, a house that had been identified as having Saddam Hussein inside was bombed without warning. Hussein was far away. A six-year-old child died. This is symbolic to me of the atrocity of this war."

Anglachel has an interesting theory about the bizarre, misogynistic hatred of Clinton coming from some of the leading bloggers - even some on the left - and their particular unwillingness to put her AUMF vote in perspective. Yeah, it was a stupid vote, and yeah, Obama wasn't in the Senate to make it and instead made a speech against the invasion, but he hasn't distinguished himself from her since he's been in the Senate, so why the big deal? "Josh Marshall, Matt Yglesias, Mark Kleiman, Kevin Drum, and any number of other high profile bloggers were all rah-rah war supporters when it first began. They had no real reason to support it besides wanting to kill people and get some revenge. [...] Then the war goes tits over teakettle and they realize that they are on the losing side of the argument. They are guilty as hell for having brought their considerable intellectual talents to bear on promoting an unjustified war and they want to blame someone else for their bad judgment. I know, Hillary made me do it! She should have been a better mommy and kept me from indulging in my murderous desires! Bad Mommy! Bad!" It does seem odd that I, who was once in the minority of liberal bloggers in feeling so little love for the Clintons, and who is still morally outraged at her having entered this race at all, turn out to be so much less willing to believe the worst of her than so many others who had no criticisms of her at the time of the AUMF. But then, I was also in the minority in feeling that making war was not the right answer to 9/11, and that turning our attention to Iraq was a fatally stupid distraction. Could Anglachel have a point? Via The RealSpiel.

The right-wing response to Obama's speech.

Jack Murtha endorses Clinton.

The Funny Farm presents Quick Notes To The Bucket Of Crabs (a.k.a the Democratic Party. (via)

William K. Wolfrum denounces me! (Well, not just me.)

The Freeway Blogger finds a kindred spirit. (via)

A Long List of Lawlessness, from Mark Levine.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden on Arthur C. Clarke, 1917-2008.

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13;16 GMT


On the Infobahn

From C in comments:

A second, closer reading of Obama's speech leaves a less positive impression than the initial hearing.

On one hand, his eloquent generalities about what is needed are beyond criticism. They are known to all who have worked in the civil rights vineyard for decades.

On the other hand, he let pass the best moment to unify progressives of every race. He ought to have acknowledged and brought into the rhetoric the whites who over decades devoted their personal, professional, and political lives to broadening civil rights.

He might even have manfully granted as much to his opponent instead of holding up to public view imperfect relatives such as his white grandmother.

E.J. Dionne is pretty pissed off at The Street on Welfare: "Never do I want to hear again from my conservative friends about how brilliant capitalists are, how much they deserve their seven-figure salaries and how government should keep its hands off the private economy." These are the people, remember, who are too good to pay taxes like the rest of us - and yet our money is now being given to them to keep them from having to sleep on grates - or in jails - as they deserve. Justice would demand that before any bailout, every single person who got rich out of this should have to reach into their own pockets to pay back every penny. But they won't. Via The Supreme Irony of Life.

Marc Ambinder: "The politics of this are crystal clear. The Obama campaign did not want a Michigan re-vote or a Florida re-vote. So they've raised objection after objection. Some of them have been spurious and others have been valid."

Willamette Week has a story on the relationship between Sun Myung Moon and the sushi industry.

The Board Room Scene from Network.

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02:49 GMT


Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Net effects

David W. down in comments* says Obama took that lemon and made lemonade, which is exactly what I thought when I saw his speech on Wright (Text here). Obama spoke for nearly forty minutes and used the opportunity to talk about the issues we need to deal with, and about not getting sidetracked by petty distraction:

Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged, and we want to talk about how we'll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

Meanwhile, Atrios has some thoughts about scary black religion vs. terrifying white lunatic religion.

Jeralyn Merritt and Cliff Schecter were on MSNBC discussing the blog wars at DKos. Skippy has description and discussion, along with the video. Cliff's really good at making sure to inject the real issues that separate the Dems and the Republicans into his answers.

A "porn expert" at Morality in Media has a lunatic rant over the - perfectly reasonable - theory that the pornography can reduce sex crime, and Mark Kernes of Adult Video News says Morality In Media Doesn't Understand Sexual Science.

And I just heard John Gorenfeld say on the radio that Sun Myung Moon has a virtual monopoly on the Sushi business in the United states. That's it, I'm not eating any more of that stuff when I'm in America.

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18:49 GMT


Waiting for someone to come out of somewhere

Krugman wonders Who ya gonna call? and says, "Nouriel is right: this is the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and the Fed, with the best will in the world, probably lacks the tools to deal with it. Broader action is necessary." I could probably get rich betting that Team Bush will not do one single thing that could have any positive impact on the situation. But if I was running the world, I'd restore all those regs everyone's been getting rid of for the last 30 years, get rid of the Bush tax shift, and start a government employment program that would put everyone to work who wants to be (on a real salary), rebuilding our infrastructure and undoing as much of the Bush damage as possible. (I'd also save a lot of money by getting rid of the drug war and letting all the dopers out of prison and having them work for the Park Service instead. Or somewhere. Some of them already have job career training that could probably be put to use.) There would be plenty of work for people who can read fast and go through all the legislation to see what we need to restore and what we need to get rid of. I can think of a few bloggers who could use the work. I'd also fine war profiteers big bucks for cheating the government, to recover some funds, and prosecute a bunch of them for fraud. I'd restore tariffs on foreign trade and charge very high tariffs to any US company that leaves or has left for foreign shores. I'd do everything we can think of to create jobs at ground-level to circulate money at the low-end. I would definitely not ask John McCain for advice, and I'd make Alan Greenspan work at Burger King. Oh, yeah, and I'd send the entire Bush administration to the Hague. (And here's Krugman yesterday talking about the bailout: "The unthinkable is about to become the inevitable.")

Kyra Phillips talks to Iraqis: "Just to be perfectly clear here, I did ask them are you following any of the republican candidates?...Do you want to talk about John McCain? Within that whole group, not one wanted a republican in the US presidential seat. They were all for a democrat. They were all for that type of change because they said they were living a republican war."

Irony Is Not Dead: "At least this week we have a pretty good idea of where Vice President Cheney is: he, his wife, and one daughter over-nighted in Iraq on their way to chats with leaders in the Middle East. The Vice President even spent some time "rallying the troops," primarily over breakfast."

A messy situation in the Texas caucuses, and the interesting case of the Florida primary.

Fox Attacks Obama! - and it goes straight to the rest of the media. Also, a Dem activist sues the DNC for refusing to seat the Florida delegation, while some say the party's over.

Live on Ready Steady Go, The Rolling Stones.

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15:05 GMT


Links for breakfast

Actually, I don't have any sausages. I'll probably have bacon instead.

Why they're not liberals: "This New York Times piece by N. Gregory Mankiw was written by a conservative economist who advised both George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. It reads like a straightforward endorsement of John McCain, together with an argument that when it comes to trade, the values and desires of the American people ought simply to be ignored."

Over the weekend Scott Horton posted what is basically a recap and update of the US Attorney story, "The Gathering Storm at Justice", saying that he understand that the investigation of the scandal is nearing completion and that an "explosive" report should be released soon.

Clinton made a foreign policy speech saying she would ban military contractors and no-bid contracts. Also that, "Withdrawal [from Iraq] is not risk-free, but the risks of staying in Iraq are certain. A well-planned withdrawal is the one and only path to a political solution."

Mario Solis-Marich celebrates A Post-Racial Society.

Lance Mannion investigates Nancy Drew and the Mystery of the Ambivalent Movie Adaptation.

"17 Tips For Getting Bloggers To Write About You" - It's Cory Doctorow, so you know it's like advice from Jesus on how to get into Heaven. (via)

Joss is working on a new musical, with Nathan Fillion as Captain Hammer.

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12:19 GMT


Monday, 17 March 2008

"He was in doubt about something."

The unprecedented bailout and a parallel to fascism - Charles II provides a quote: "Historian Gaetano Salvemini argued in 1936 that fascism makes taxpayers responsible to private enterprise, because 'the State pays for the blunders of private enterprise... Profit is private and individual. Loss is public and social.'"

Charles Dodgson saw it coming, and has some scary-looking charts. But he thinks the situation might have been salvageable except for one thing: The Decider doesn't seem to care.

Jerome a Paris: "Alan "Bubbles" Greespan has one of the most disgusting articles I have read on the financial crisis in today's Financial Times: We will never have a perfect model of risk, where he brazenly claims that the now obvious crisis could not have been predicted - indeed that such crises can never be predicted, and thus that not only his policies (the very ones that led us to this unfolding disaster) were correct, but that more of the same is needed now." Funnily enough, I did predict it, and like Jerome, I'm pretty sure Greenspan knew it would happen, too. (Thanks to Bruce F.)

MB Williams has answered my plea and posted details of the DNC Delegate Selection Rules - in particular, 11A, the one Florida and Michigan broke. Only thing is, they're not the only ones: "Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina all moved their caucuses in violation of DNC rules, and yet suffered no penalty, not even the standard 1/2 reduction in delegates. So why were Michigan and Florida afforded such draconian treatment?" Interesting question.

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22:09 GMT


A few things

Take a look at this comment from Bryan about what's going on with Florida and Michigan. It raises a few issues I haven't even seen mentioned elsewhere, and I'd sure like to see a post covering them. If anyone has good links to such a post, I'd be grateful. (I tried to check and see if Bryan had covered it, but once again I can't seem to get Why Now? to load.)

Ruth rants because The Market Played, You Lost: "This is the ultimate bubble life, when satisfaction occurs from the purview of human suffering. Look, folks, you are homeless for a good cause, you are the cogs and the wheel is turning Just Like We Said." Meanwhile, Diane is unimpressed with the "belated press concern with the illegal behavior of the White House."

I hadn't realized that Earl Ofari Hutchinson had defended Geraldine Ferraro (and here). And how did I miss Melissa's letter blaming it all on Al Gore? Elayne didn't miss those, or a bunch of other relevant links.

I'm afraid I'm not very good at this sort of thing, so I must decline. However, "When I hear that music, it makes me proud to be a dwarf."

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17:15 GMT


The morning's links

Please go read Athenae's rant on Bear Sterns right now. If I start quoting her I won't know where to stop. I am dumbstruck with awe. Just go read it. (Also: The son of a woman who was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing responds to a state representative's statement that gays are a bigger threat to our nation than terrorists.)

Peter Daou, founder of The Daou Report (which was adopted by Salon and, when Peter left to work as internet director for the Clinton campaign became The Blog Report, now edited by the ubiquitous Steve Benen), and originator of Daou's Triangle (illustrated later by Shystee at Corrente), sent a personal letter to some of us yesterday about the negative attacks from the Obama campaign on "someone I personally know to be a thoughtful, brilliant, principled, compassionate person, someone the world knows as a good Democrat, a trailblazer, a lifelong champion for children and families, a respected former first lady, a senator, a presidential candidate." As many of you are aware, there has been buzz lately that the Obama campaign, which has pretended not to be negative, will "have to go negative" on Clinton, now. Says Peter, "The truth is that for months, the Obama campaign has been attacking Hillary, impugning her character and calling into question her lifetime of public service. And now the Chicago Tribune reports that Senator Obama is preparing a 'full assault' on her 'over ethics and transparency.' To those who contend that Senator Obama is the clear frontrunner, I ask, to what end this 'full assault' on Hillary?" Over at The Left Coaster, eriposte has posted the full text of Peter's letter.

Paperwight: "George W. Bush, Republican, is a faithful avatar of American conservatism, an apotheosis of American conservatism, and Davis and his ilk knew it when Bush was popular, and they know it now. But, like Peter, they now find it desperately convenient to deny their Republican Jesus."

Mary says: "President Bush is for radical intervention in other countries, but believes that too much government intervention in the US would hurt people. Nothing like being consistent."

All over the world, private enterprise competes to rip off taxpayers in secret deals for sporting events.

Knicker Picker (Thanks to Dominic for the tip.)

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12:49 GMT


Sunday, 16 March 2008

People are talking

Another Look At FISA: "There's a timely and very well-written op-ed by Julian Sanchez in today's Los Angeles Times. Mr. Sanchez suggests, and quite appropriately, that progressives would do well to reframe the issues surrounding this administration's domestic spying away from personal privacy toward the stifling of dissent. The average American doesn't quite see what all the fuss is about ("I've got nothing to hide"), but he might when it's explained that historically, governments have used such spying techniques to shut up the inconvenient voices."

From In These Times, Red-Boating Obama: "Is Obama a socialist? We wish. Unfortunately, his economic program is uninspiringly centrist." Via Blue Gal.

They just figured it was a lingerie supplier: "Several times during the Clark County Republican Convention on March 8, Chris Comfort reminded the delegates to support the sponsors." (Thanks to Mark.)

From qla in Eschaton comments: "I really wonder how it is possible that as a country we have fallen so low. Remember we couldn't import drugs from Canada because we didn't trust their quality control. So instead, we import from China where there is no quality control. I'm surprised the sidewalks aren't littered with exploded heads."

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21:42 GMT


Last night's links

Fact-esque has some links up for Winter Soldier and says it's first-class and you should send them some bucks. I found some audio archive for the panel I saw some of, Racism and War: the Dehumanization of the Enemy: Part Two, and if you only have time to hear one bit, I was particularly interested in the way Mike Prysner talked about having joined an army where racism was unacceptable, and watching it turn into something else after 9/11.

Why, you'd almost think this election actually means something. (via)

I'm not even going to link to the original post at Daily Kos, which now has over a thousand comments and took about a month to open for me - on broadband! - but you can get it from Marc Ambinder's post about the Diarists' "Strike" at DKos, where he has enough quotes to tell you what's going on. Short form: Pro-Clinton diarists say they can't stand it anymore.

Yesterday's numbers from Rasmussen look worrying: "Looking to November, John McCain now holds a slight lead over both Democrats in the General Election. It's McCain 47% Obama 42% and McCain 46% Clinton 42% (see recent daily results)." Thanks, folks, your work is done!

Looks like MoDo decided to use her powers for good this weekend: "Everyone here is flummoxed about why the president is in such a fine mood." It's too late to try to make nice with me, Maureen, and I'm sure you'll be back to your usual hammering the Dems any minute now. If you want to be some use, call for impeachment and attack McCain. It still won't make up for sins you can never catch up with, but at least you'll do no harm.

Don't forget to Blog Against Theocracy on Easter weekend.

Via another juicy post full of links from The Impolitic, OK GO goes to Washington for net neutrality. And fabulous flowers. And what are these things?

Still has a mouth, and still must scream: "So now I come to age 73 and there's this goddamned movie about me. And it's not about me. It's about Harlan Ellison. Does that make any sense?" (You can even listen to the interview if you want.) Oh, and Harlan hated the WGA deal.

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12:24 GMT


Just enjoy the ride

Simone Perele Coralia half cup bra 
Bra of the Week

I had a chance to watch some of Winter Soldier witnessing, and it's powerful stuff. I'm really hoping that at least one of those I saw will be posted for later viewing, because I'd love to link to it for you folks.

OK, if a do-over in Florida would be illegal, what do we do to make Florida voters happy? Because right now, FL Dems are really, really angry and a huge percentage of them are talking about sitting out the general election, which would of course be a disaster.

Simbaud has a round-up at King of Zembla that also has an interesting illustration.

At FDL, Howie Klein on Helping Blue America Decide What To Do About Democrats Who Vote Like Republicans, and Julia's Factoid of the Day: "The president of a slaughterhouse admitted on Wednesday that his plant has slaughtered downer cows and released them into the market, where most of them were consumed by children and seniors. The fun part is who his lawyer is." Yeah, it is. Plus, Phoenix Woman reminds us why there's just something wrong with Sally Quinn passing judgment on other people who are involved with adultery.

I know it's hard to wrap your head around the fact that a lot of smart, progressive women have been Hillary supporters, which seems strange since she's not all that progressive. I think this has a lot to do with it. There's a lot of bollocks in the atmosphere that pegs Hillary as nothing but an old white lady, and I'm sure that the more women of a certain age hear it, the more they feel like they're not welcome at the party so they might as well go elsewhere. Judging from what happened in New Hampshire - which, going from the numbers, really does look like it was the Tweety Effect - I suspect that attacks on the Old White Lady are bound to draw supporters to her side and alienate a lot of women from Obama. It may not seem fair, but Obama is not doing anything to counter this stuff, either. (Just for the record, I have not had a single carp from any woman about me being a woman and not being on the Clinton bandwagon, so I'm at a loss to understand where all these articles are coming from that talk about how awful it is that women are hassling women who don't support Clinton. Perhaps this is a real problem on the ground - are any of y'all getting stick for not being Hillaryites?)

You may have a point, eRobin.

Four people confirmed dead in giant crane collapse in Manhattan: "A massive crane collapsed at a construction site on Manhattan's East Side on Saturday afternoon. The 19-story crane damaged three buildings and completely destroyed a fourth. [...] The accident happened on 51st Street near 2nd Avenue at about 2:20 p.m. People in the area reported hearing a terrible roar as the structure detached from a large building under construction."

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00:37 GMT


Saturday, 15 March 2008

An informed public

Eric Boehlert has a good piece up on the weirdness of the media's bizarre behavior in asking Clinton stupid questions about Obama's religion and then pretending that she didn't give a firm response right away. People who only read one or two blogs may not have realized that this was a hot issue for days and is still listed angrily as a typical example of how nasty and dirty Clinton is. Eric points to the clip on YouTube that was linked all over the net of that portion of the interview. (Which, interestingly, is incomplete, and is accompanied by text claiming that Clinton expresses "ambivalence" about whether Obama is a Muslim, despite the fact that she immediately says, "Of course not!") But if you look at the related videos, you'll notice that other videos smearing Clinton use this same clip alongside clips of idiots claiming that Obama refuses to swear on the Bible and doesn't know the national anthem, as if they are the same. (The liberal blogosphere of a year ago would have been all over the interviewer about why he kept hectoring Clinton on this pointless question in an interview that was about something else. Now, alas, a substantial portion of the blogosphere has forgotten that the media is not our friend.) Clinton twice gives unequivocal rejections of the suggestion that Obama is a secret Muslim, but is nevertheless pressed again to answer the question - which she still rejects, but adds, "As far as I know," with a look on her face that says she's wondering what the hell he thinks she's supposed to know. That is, she begins showing impatience with the question, but ends up showing impatience with the interviewer. Yet the media had an orgy of claiming Clinton was somehow leaving the question open - and some of Obama's supporters have continued the meme. (Interestingly, Joe Scarborough is the one guy who refused to play, and even yanked Shuster's chain about it.)

Jamison Foser wants to know why it's so important for Hillary Clinton to release her tax returns, but not for John McCain, despite the obvious hypocrisy since McCain's making such a big deal of transparency. Especially since they made up the idea that John Edwards' haircuts were important because of the "hypocrisy" of being rich and caring about the poor.

13% of respondents told a WSJ/NBC poll they believed Barack Obama was Muslim. Actually, that's not as bad as I expected, given the wide circulation of that e-mail that's going around, but it's obviously had an impact since only 8% thought so in December. But that's okay - once they've heard it a few times on Fox, I'm sure the numbers will go up. (I don't think most of them even know what being Muslim is, it's just one of those fnords.)

Ruth found one paper that thought there was something wrong with McCain's support of Bush's pro-torture position. Really, this should be a front-page story, it's more important than most of the stuff they're covering. This guy is running for president and claims to be opposed to torture, but he votes for torture every chance he gets.

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17:18 GMT


All blogged up

Bob Somerby remembers the film Notorious when SNL reaches for the "wrong" cup of coffee:

One day, growing sicker and hazier, Bergman accidentally reaches for her husband's cup of coffee. And everybody over-reacts, rushing to direct her to her own cup. Even through her growing haze, Bergman is able to read the tell. She suddenly realizes why she is sick. It comes to her: She's being poisoned.

We thought of that jerk of reaction - that sudden group tell - when we scanned yesterday's New York Times. Omigod! Saturday Night Live had dared present skits, in three straight shows, which seemed sympathetic to Hillary Clinton. (Two of these skits had even seemed to criticize your superlative press corps!) And with this came a jerk of reaction: Just like that, the Times took action, calling the program's honchos onto the carpet in this report by Bill Carter. And not only that - the Los Angeles Times did a similar piece about the program's troubling drift. Last night, Chris Matthews worried further, with SNL head writer Jim Downey as his guest.

We thought Matthews and the two papers offered an obvious tell. For more than a year, Candidate Clinton was gender-trashed in a fairly blatant fashion. But TV writers - people like Carter - showed no reaction whatsoever. No surprise there! In 1999, the nation's TV and political writers didn't even react when two major programs gave Gennifer Flowers half-hour and hour-long segments to accuse the first lady of multiple murders! But good lord! Let someone even seem to defend her, and hands quickly reach to direct us rubes to the appropriate cup. You can trash this person in the crudest ways and no one will so much as say boo. But if you even seem to defend her, the press corps will quickly take notice.

Bob also says the Stepfordization of Josh Marshall is nearing completion after Josh blames Hillary Clinton for the fact that questions are now being asked over the racially-charged style of Jeremiah Wright - as if none of this would have happened if Bill Clinton hadn't said "fairy tale".

Dave Neiwert on Immigration irrationality: "The real hallmark of the right-wing rule America has endured for the better part of the new century has been its reliance on persuading the public to believe things that are factually false. The Iraq War -- in which the nation was induced to believe provably false "facts", thanks largely to a mendacious administration and a prostrate media eager to sit on its lap -- is only the most infamous example. The list -- running from the Plame affair to the Katrina debacle to Social Security and the economy, to civil rights and gay rights, to consumer-protection and environmental policy -- is not merely long, it touches nearly every facet of American governance and the public discourse. And we can add the immigration debate to that list as well." (via)

Do me a favor if you've got a couple spare bucks and send them to Blue Gal, who is having a bad time right now.

I have dissolved into giggles after Ruth sent me this headline: "Rove: Bush taught me how to be Ďhonest."

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12:20 GMT


Nightcap

Defazio has written a letter to Hillary and Barack telling them to cut it out and start campaigning against McCain. I can only applaud. Go post it on your candidate's blog.

House Democrats reject telecom amnesty, warrantless surveillance: "The House just now approved a new FISA bill that denies retroactive immunity to lawbreaking telecoms and which refuses to grant most of the new powers for the President to spy on Americans without warrants. It passed comfortably, by a 213-197 margin." Why, that's downright spiny. Glenn says the headlines look a lot prettier than usual, too.

Swiftboating - yep, it's a Rovian tactic.

A compendium of Bush Administration horrors at Brilliant at Breakfast.

Repeated lapses of judgment - doesn't sound too good when good judgment is what you are selling. Sounds even worse when you see the results.

Watertiger, the continuous caption contest, calls him "Dorquemada".

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03:36 GMT


Friday, 14 March 2008

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur

Charlie Savage reports that Bush issued an order stripping the Intelligence Oversight Board of most of its authority.

Matt Yglesias catches Chris Matthews saying that if Democrats were smart, they'd propose "Let's try some kind of mandated benefit. Let's try some kind of effort where businesses and young people have to pay their way. Let's do something that sounds vaguely Republican and self-reliant' " - if you're a Democrat. You know why? Because it would pass! And you'd have national health insurance! But if you keep pushing from your ideological end, you never get there." My, that idea sounds awfully familiar....

John Gorenfeld sent me the link to this video of "Orrin Hatch, George Bush and Sun Myung Moon--the world's worst dinner party guest." Scoobie Davis has more, and what sounds like a longer version of the video.

Palast, Eliot's Mess: "While New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was paying an 'escort' $4,300 in a hotel room in Washington, just down the road, George Bush's new Federal Reserve Board Chairman, Ben Bernanke, was secretly handing over $200 billion in a tryst with mortgage bank industry speculators. Both acts were wanton, wicked and lewd. But there's a BIG difference. The Governor was using his own checkbook. Bush's man Bernanke was using ours."

Someone suggested to me that Samantha Power deliberately dropped the "Monster" bomb because she needed something that would make people ignore all the other stuff she said in that interview. (Then I had to ask Ruth to find the link for me because I got lost in all the links about Power's resignation.)

Last week Mike Signorile was calling for a ticket with both Hillary and Obama. I know a lot of people like this idea, and I think it probably works for most people, but I also know that with the way things have been going, there are people who are horrified by the suggestion, and many who can't figure out how it could work.

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23:46 GMT


Some subjects

Thanks to eRobin for alerting me that you can listen to Winter Soldier stream live here.

Dan says Bush's lunatic war fantasies and strange expressions of feelings about the troops would matter a lot less if the Democrats would take the lead in ending the nightmare.

Ruth celebrates Pi Day by examining another eternal mystery. And Diane uncovers a smoking gun: "Glenn A. Fine also reported that in one case FBI anti-terrorism agents circumvented a federal court which twice had refused a warrant for personal records because the judges believed the agents were investigating conduct protected by the First Amendment."

Excuse me for skiving off all day, but I've been in a bad mood due to what might have been food poisoning waking me up at six in the morning, and then waking up later to find someone in my comments* saying, "Did I read you right? Did you call Clinton a solid progressive"?" No, you did not bleedin' read me right. Strewth!

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18:56 GMT


Late links

Bush "Envious" of U.S Troops in Afghanistan and Iraq: "On Thursday, President Bush once again provided fodder for generations of psychology graduate students to come."

Hm, I think we really ought to find a way to make Florida voters feel enfranchised: "Another finding, which pollster Jim Kitchens called "stunning," was that a quarter of the respondents - all Democrats who voted in the Jan. 29 primary - said they were upset enough over the issue to consider not voting or voting Republican in November's presidential race." (via)

In April of 2004, 55% of the public knew how many of our troops had died in Bush's war on the world; today, only 28% can. (Thanks to Neil for the tip.)

FCC investigating 60 Minutes blackout (and I like the little .gif).

Gene Lyons' wife wants to know, "Haven't any of these people ever seen a seven-game series?" His advice: "Calm down, everybody, itís a long season." (Thanks to Julia for the heads-up.)

The RealSpiel: "James Wolcott believes that Republicans fear running against Clinton more than Obama. 'And now along comes Wayne Barrett in The Village Voice, persuasively arguing and methodically documenting that the original Obama infatuation emanating from such untrustworthies as Robert Novak, Rush Limbaugh, William Bennett, George Will, and others was indeed a hydra-headed head fake. . . With their lipless smiles and lidless eyes, conservative connivers don't even bother to disguise their duplicity, so proud and gleeful are they of their little tricks. And why shouldn't they be, when so many liberal bloggers and pundits are ready to fall for them?'"

You remember that moon-phase widget? (If you don't, Hecate has it on her page.) The guy who does it is now selling whole moon phase calendars.

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03:54 GMT


Thursday, 13 March 2008

Enemies of the people: the insurance industry

It's hard to avoid the suspicion that a significant number of America's worst social problems would be alleviated by summoning the insurance industry's top managers to an economic summit, and then setting packs of wild dogs on them. - PNH, 6 January 2003
Man, is that ever true. Just think what kind of health insurance we could have without the insurance industries. We could just send every American a health insurance card with their number on it, and if a doctor decides they need medical care, they get it, and the government pays for it. You could get your own private insurance as well if you want to, but you would be covered.

I don't like mandates. There are a lot of reasons I don't like them, including the fact that it still doesn't eliminate the massive administrative costs, but another reason is that insurance costs in real life are more likely to vary (by which I mean rise) depending on how well the insurers' investments are going on the markets, and not depending on how much insurance money they have to pay out. This is true for malpractice insurance, medical insurance, and any other kind of insurance. And, as Ruth reminds us, home insurance payments. She's watching Texas, but I expect you'll all be seeing your insurance rates rise.

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16:28 GMT


Unreasonable expectations

Like Glenn, I'm not going to relax with a sigh of relief, but Congress actually seems to be going in the right direction on FISA and is using a new and more profitable strategy to block telecom immunity. Definitely read the article, it's kind of exciting. Is it...spine?

The Presidential Assassination Attempt that Didn't Bark - They've been through all those Iraq documents, and still never found the slightest piece of evidence to suggest any plot by Saddam to assassinate Poppy. Funny how hardly anyone has mentioned this.

Juan Cole documents more atrocities and says McCain is more hawkish than Bush. (But of course, this is good news for McCain!) And Steve Benen reports on yet another crazed evangelist McCain ally.

Culture of Truth has a suggestion for Tim Russert.

Clue for Kevin Drum and Paul Glastris: McCain isn't really interested in real reform. For dog's sake, don't people realize he just pretended to support a (flimsy) reform bill in order to rehabilitate his unethical image?

There's stuff I prefer not to emphasize too much because it's already too destructive, but I have to admit to bitter laughter when I hear people say that Obama needs to go negative on Hillary because he's never done that before. He certainly has. And it's clearly deliberate. (And it's interesting to me that Obama attacked 527s when a group ran an ad supporting Edwards - attacking no one - and called on Edwards to denounce it, but appeared to take a different attitude when that same group ran a very nasty ad attacking Clinton.) The Obama camp likes to pretend that the Clinton camp goes negative whenever they are down in the polls, but the fact is that the wild accusations of Clintonian racism from the Obama camp generally happen when Obama needs the juice. The Clintons, of course, have no reason whatsoever to race-bait; it cannot possibly do them any good, and they know it. But it benefits Obama to suggest that the Clintons are racists. It's also incredibly destructive to the Democratic Party, and I can't think of a single thing the Clinton campaign has done that equals it in offensiveness. It also helps to inoculate the Republicans from being called on their real racism. The fact that I'm pissed off at Clinton for other things does not blind me to the fact that there's plenty to be pissed off at Obama about. It sure is working for him, though, isn't it?

(And am I the only one who remembers that only a few months ago we were constantly using the phrase "Hope is not a plan" to refer to Bush's Iraq strategy, and some of us had been doing so for years?)

It's always Opposite Day in Bushland. (via)

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15:01 GMT


Assorted links

Dean Baker asks, "Can't the media find any economists who don't think that handing hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to the big banks and the incredibly rich people who own and manage them is a good idea?" (via)

So much crime, so little time....

Wampum discusses why Florida Democrats held an early primary. They also consider adding a new category to their blogroll for blogs that haven't endorsed a candidate for the nomination.

Note to self: Watch the vid to see if Amory Lovins can solve our energy problems.

Dave Johnson knows how to solve California's budget problems.

You just know that the whole Spitzer thing was just a great excuse for The Rude One to demonstrate his ability to turn a phrase. (Also: Regarding Savages.)

Norman Mailer's last award.

Another neat snow picture from Maru. And here. But this isn't snow.

LT has a CD.

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01:55 GMT


Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Seen on the net

My thanks to Joel Hanes for alerting me to the original context of Ferraro's remarks, which was clearly not part of any primary campaign strategy.

Bush Tied to Child Prostitution - Resignation or Impeachment Expected! (via)

"Either Way, He Loses: Now here's a twisted bit of justice: a defendant goes to trial, is acquitted, and then is returned to detention. That is exactly what might (and probably will) happen to Mohammad Jawad, who has been held at Guantanamo Bay and who will be among the first to be tried before the Military Commission."

Froomkin is wondering, "Are We Closer to War?" He's got a bunch of quotations from a variety of people, and this: "Terry Atlas blogs for U.S. News and World Report with "6 Signs the U.S. May Be Headed for War in Iran." They are: Fallon's resignation, Cheney's trip to the Middle East, the Israeli airstrike on Syria, U.S. warships off Lebanon, Israeli comments and Israel's war with Hezbollah."

I often have the impression that Dr. Laura doesn't actually know any men.

I didn't think it was news that people were complaining about the rightward turn of NPR, but I guess doing an entire show as an advertisement for the Republican Party was too much for everyone.

Baboon Nebula. (Is "the Pink Floyd Galaxy" taken?)

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22:37 GMT


Shhhh!

I feel sorry for Gerry Ferraro. No one sent her the memo, so she forgot the name of the game and said:

If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.
The consensus among some of my favorite bloggers seems to be that there's no reasonable way to interpret that statement. For example, Josh Marshall asked:
Can anyone seriously claim that it's an asset to be an African-American in a US presidential race?
No, of course not, because there is no excitement whatsoever about the idea of a black candidate who has a credible shot at the presidency, and there is not one single person in the world who has ever hoped someday to see a black president sworn into office, and not the faintest hint that anyone, anywhere, would have felt the least bit more interested in a less-than one-term Senator with an undistinguished record in the Senate because he was black.

So far be it from me to suggest that in this moment, with this man, yes, being black just might be an advantage for Obama in winning the Democratic nomination. Because to anyone who isn't an out-and-out-racist, even those of us who are not particularly enraptured by the famous soaring rhetoric &etc., it's absolutely thrilling to think that at long last we might just see the American people say once and for all that color is not a bar to the presidency.

I'm surprised that it was Josh Marshall who asked that question, because this is the same Josh Marshall who months ago, when we were all cringing at the thought of a Hillary Clinton candidacy, was saying how in fact there was this whole History angle to consider, and maybe it was a pretty exciting idea to have the first female president and it might just work.

For a lot of us, that wasn't good enough for this moment and time when what we really want is a solid progressive who has shown a real understanding of what needs to be done. I mean, Hillary, for godssakes. But one way or another, it looks like we're going to get some History, so we might as well learn to love it. I don't see why we aren't allowed to admit it. It seems to me there are an awful lot of people out there who think it's important that we refuse to acknowledge that everybody knows Barack Obama is black. Why should we? That's a good thing.

[Update]

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16:33 GMT


Things people say

Another few words from ProfWombat in Eschaton comments:

They still have ten months in office to trash the world, and I trust them not at all. I don't even trust them not to use nuclear weapons in Iran, which would put us--that's us, every last American--in a league with Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union as foes of humanity. Ever since Bush took office, I've felt as though we were living out a 'Twilight Zone' episode, where it's mildly creepy, but mostly normal, in the beginning, only to reveal its true horror as it progresses. Fallon's departure does nothing to dissuade me from that view.
Bill Moyers talked to a couple of Republicans who say conservatism has lost its way.

Wolcott is unimpressed with everyone's media criticism skills.

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12:36 GMT


I can't keep up with the news

It's fair to assume that Gates is telling the truth, and that Fallon is quitting because of fallout he gave in the interview where he said he would refuse to attack Iran. But he also said he would resign rather than attack Iran. So a lot of people are taking this as a signal. Isn't that what it means that Cheney Seeks Piece In Middle East?

Barney Frank has a plan for a housing rescue, - to help bail out the people who bought those houses.

Everybody wants to follow the rules they like, and not the ones that work for the other side.

At the Washington Monthly, a bunch of people say, "NO MORE: No Torture. No Exceptions."

Bill Kristol makes another pick - one I'd heartily endorse if I thought he'd leave his current job to campaign.

PZ Myers says we're all going to hell, now.

(Okay, the clip of Cleavon Little makes it all worthwhile.)

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00:44 GMT


Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Drink for thought

Hm, Alan says the Details Don't Add Up in ABC Report of Eliot Spitzer Bust:

When banks and other financial institutions are suspicious about customer transactions, they are supposed to file "Suspicious Activity Reports" with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a unit of the Department of the Treasury that is distinct from the IRS. FinCEN reviews the information and passes it along to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

FinCEN is not part of the IRS. This is a mistake on a par with saying the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section were a part of the FBI.

Maybe the real story is that Karl Rove was doing some wiretapping on Spitzer and made up the wrong lie about how it all happened....

One of these things is not like the other: "By 1945, the world had come to realize the full horror of Nazi death camps, yet it was possible, even necessary to accord those monsters every facet of due process to show just how important the rule of law is to civilization. The prosecutors at Nuremberg did not fear acquittals, they openly embraced the possibility. Contrast that with what is planned for Guantanamo Bay, where coerced confessions obtained by torture will be admissible; where defendants will never get to confront their accusers; where up to this point they don't even know exactly what they are charged with." (Also, Ruth with a reminder that the Attorney General, like all lawyers, is supposed to give clients actual legal advice - not make new laws up and advise clients that it's okay to break the law.)

Winning the War on Tourism: "The statistics are stark enough: Despite a worldwide boom in international travel and an extraordinarily favorable exchange rate, the United States received 11 percent (2.8 million) fewer overseas visitors in 2007 than in 2000, despite a growth of 28 percent in worldwide long-haul travel departures in this time. [...] Horror stories abound of travelers being shackled and strip-searched. Many cite harassment by overzealous immigration and security officials; there's a perception that foreign travelers are not welcome, and that the United States has the world's worst entry process." (Wait, are they talking about taking your fingerprints in airports? I hope I misunderstood.)

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19:06 GMT


Media notes

Editor & Publisher notes that McClatchy has been pulling down more journalism awards than anyone else - for journalism in Washington, which should tell you just how much the "access" other news organizations have been selling their souls for is really worth. Via Make Them Accountable, which also directed me to Citizens for Legitimate Government's little list of items that Spitzer's scandal conveniently wiped out of the news schedule for the administration. Oh, and the Buzzflash interview with Greg Mitchell, editor of E&P and author of So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits -- and the President -- Failed on Iraq .

Media Bloodhound says, "NYT Dangerously Downplays Bush's Anti-Torture Veto: When historians look back and try to understand how the George W. Bush administration managed to trample the Constitution and transgress the Geneva Conventions with near impunity, our mainstream media will stand out as one of the primary culprits."

(One thing you can say for Spitzer: He paid for the sex himself, rather than making the taxpayers foot the bill like Rudy Giuliani did.)

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15:54 GMT


This morning's webcrawl

Naturally, Scott Horton: "However, there is a second tier of questions that needs to be examined with respect to the Spitzer case. They go to prosecutorial motivation and direction. Note that this prosecution was managed with staffers from the Public Integrity Section at the Department of Justice. This section is now at the center of a major scandal concerning politically directed prosecutions. During the Bush Administration, his Justice Department has opened 5.6 cases against Democrats for every one involving a Republican. Beyond this, a number of the cases seem to have been tied closely to election cycles. Indeed, a study of the cases out of Alabama shows clearly that even cases opened against Republicans are in fact only part of a broader pattern of going after Democrats." And yeah, you have to be pretty credulous not to think there's something fishy about a prosecution brought under the White-Slave Traffic Act of 1910. (Via the poetic monarch of Zembla.

Gosh, I would have completely missed the news that Melanie Morgan got fired if I hadn't scrolled down to read Roger Ailes' deadblogging.

Did You Hear the One About the Travelling Bible Salesman? - Bay of Fundie advises us of a contest for the funniest piece of scripture you've ever read.

Vast linky coverage of the news cycle, as always, from Progressive Blog Digest.

The veto pen is mightier kills more people than the sword. Also: The Torture Question, Frontline, 2005.

Consumers get shafted by throbbing issue. Via a linky post from Libby - and thanks for all the Fish!

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13:45 GMT


The interesting story of Eliot S.

The trouble for Spitzer isn't so much that he hired hookers, but that he's a guy who made a big deal of going after hookers as a prosecutor. Otherwise, why should we care? (And please don't repeat that rubbish about "breaking his vows". I don't even know what kind of a marriage ceremony he had, and there's no law that requires people to vow not to have sex with anyone but their legal spouse, so I don't even know if he made such a vow in the first place. I had a registry wedding, and the only thing I was required to swear is that I wasn't currently married to someone else and would not marry anyone else while I was married to Mr. Sideshow. I could sleep with Manchester United without "breaking my vows". Nor do you know what sort of sexual arrangements any particular married couple has. It's embarrassing to have people think you've been cheated on - humiliating, yes - but that doesn't mean you've actually been cheated on just because your spouse has sex with someone else. You may not care - it's just the exposure that's the problem.)

Jeralyn says Survey USA did a poll that says 58% of New Yorkers say he should resign, but that was before anyone really knew what was going on.

I was fascinated to see a number of people saying Spitzer had violated the Mann Act since the prostitute in question crossed state lines to visit Mr. Spitzer, but as Digby notes, that's completely irrelevant. But, also like Digby, I wondered just what the Feds were doing wiretapping hookers. And, wouldn't you know, they were actually Spying on Spitzer, because he'd been spending money. This is a really rich guy, you understand, and he was spending a few grand. And his bank notified the Feds. Which is the kind of thing that makes you go, "WTF?"

Elsewhere: New Constitutional Amendments.

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03:55 GMT


News and analysis

Digby on Making The World Safe For Jack Bauer - It appears that Scalia feels quite informed on the torture question from having watched 24.

You'd think it would be big news that McCain voted against the anti-torture bill and is publicly supporting Bush's veto, wouldn't you?

Eric Alterman provides a brief history of the degradation of the FCC - and of our airwaves - over the last decade or so: "Anyone interested in free airwaves that operate in the public interest has their work cut out for them in reversing these damaging policies. Ownership rules need to be revisited, as do obscenity regulations, to bring rationality to the system. And the FCC needs to take a more active oversight role, especially when it comes to telecommunications companies."

Ruth says that she hears "that first small reverberation" - of hope, I think - in the fact that the House Judiciary Committee finally filed suit to enforce subpoenas for Bolton and Miers.

Thanks to Joel for alerting me to the astonishing news that Dana Rohrabacher has accused Bush/Cheney of criminality, obstruction of justice, and lying to Congress from the House floor. The connection between Ramsay Yousef and Terry Nichols is interesting, although I believe Dave Neiwert has in the past discussed the intersection of American Christianist/Aryan Nations terrorists and other worldwide terrorists. (And I would like to point out that the person who posted about this at the Great Orange Satan actually used the phrase "call a spade a spade". Under the recent rules, everyone should climb down their throat.) Joel also reckons it's worthwhile to read what's in the Congressional Record about it.

Jerome a Paris says that, "What we are really seeing is a quite brutal change in the relative values of goods and assets." (Thanks to Bruce F.)

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00:27 GMT


Monday, 10 March 2008

On the drum

Oh, my, another hookergate, and Spitzer is a client. I agree with Josh that it's surprising that no one noticed sooner, but... jeez.

Some Congressional nitwit from Kentucky wants to make anonymity on the net illegal. I wonder what they've been saying about him in the local newspaper's online forums, hm?

I wonder if The Washington Post understands that McCain's pledge to accept matching funds got him onto the ballot in states where he did not otherwise qualify. Just a little bit of fraud to lighten your day. And to think, this was Senator Straight-Talk's own bill.

Ray Nagin says he's a vagina-friendly mayor.

Chatting with Julia this morning, she reminded me of this classic from Jesse in the early days of Pandagon.

Lance says that when Cheers met St. Elsewhere, it wasn't pretty. Funny, I watched both shows avidly but don't remember this at all.

Did Why Now? disappear? [Update: Oh.]

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20:54 GMT


And you'll do just what you choose to do

I was just cruising archives at The Daily Howler and I came across this:

MATTHEWS (2/15/00): You know, up in New Hampshire recently, I went around - and I was cruel, but I went around and asked a lot of reporters: Who they think, of the four major candidates, the four front-runners, two on either side, would lick the floor they were standing on at any given moment, every quarter inch of it, every square inch of it, to become president if that's all that required? And everyone agreed there would be only one person who would do that. And you know who I'm talking about?
Al Gore would lick the bathroom floor to be president! It was Matthews' favorite variant on a Standard Press Corps Script: Al Gore will do and say anything.
It's a familiar narrative you should check for at all times: The Democratic candidate will do anything to be president. I think I'm hearing it again.

D-word watch: Paul Krugman gives me the shivers in "The Face-Slap Theory" when he says, "The scariest thing I've read recently is a speech given last week by Tim Geithner, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Mr. Geithner came as close as a Fed official can to saying that we're in the midst of a financial meltdown."

I'm sure I'll be looking in vain for any WaPo coverage of Winter Soldier's activities, so I hope some of you will be there to report back for me, yeah?

Wexler responds to Mukasey's refusal to enforce contempt charges (video), and Keith Ellison has now signed Wexler's letter asking for hearings; Ellison is on the Judiciary Committee. Has your rep signed? And have you gotten someone to sign up at Wexlerwantshearings.com?

I think James Wolcott is saying here that some people need to get a grip. Really.

Arthur Lee, "Alone Again Or". (Thanks to Bill S. for the reminder - I still love it, too.)

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15:51 GMT


Under diabolical skies

Well, I suppose there is something to be said for the theory that women have other priorities than just making more money and sticking it to the other guy and that sort of thing, and it might just be because women have babies, but I still think this analysis only goes so far. And maybe the fact that the metrics that are supposed to get you better placements and more money don't work for women, so if you have other options, you take them - and more women can find men to support them than the reverse. If you know that pushing your way up the career ladder isn't going to work even though you're twice as smart and twice as good as the chumps you're working with, you might just opt for staying home and selling beads on e-Bay while your husband goes out and pulls down an actual salary. Especially if you know that adding skills and experience (and a touch of grey), which seems to help men advance, turns out to be more of a handicap for you. People like to claim that women aren't as aggressive in pursuit of a career (although, if they are, they are dismissed as "pushy" broads), but then companies aren't as aggressive about recruiting and mentoring women, either. I know plenty of women who graduated at the top of their class (including in engineering, yes), but unlike their inferior male classmates, they were not wined and dined and recruited before they graduated. You can only see so much of that before you give up on any fancy ideas about competing as equals. Because there's that one big affirmative action program you never get to benefit from.

Bush Calls Torture 'One Of The Most Valuable Tools In The War On Terror' - because he doesn't know that we already had a better weapon: the US Constitution. (Also: Gygax tributes, and the Really Terrible Orchestra.

Unpology - John McCain demonstrates one of the most important tools in the politician's kit.

Tucker cancelled - So now you're wondering, "What about Glenn Beck?"

Tom Tomorrow explains the economics of the war.

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13:17 GMT


A little night linkage

So, the US Treasury is telling ISPs to censor websites because they don't like them, even though said sites are engaged in perfectly legal activities - and it works, the ISPs just pull those sites without so much as a warning.

Glenn Greenwald discovers that Tucker Carlson doesn't think reporters should report - they're just there to comfort the comfortable, I guess.

Are they still trying to kill off the lower classes?

MikeC says this Daily Howler piece from 2004 is his favorite post of all time.

If I understand Dana Blankenhorn correctly, no one appoints people to the FDA, they just magically appear there. Or maybe - maybe! - it's not a coincidence that everyone the Bush administration appoints to these agencies is someone who works to eliminate any accountability to the people.

Lambert thinks those women of a certain age are voting their interests, not just their sex, though Tina Brown thinks it's all about female experience.

I guess Andy Ostroy is Clinton-supporter, because he flagged this: "To show just how murky the waters have become, former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle, on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, told host Tim Russert that the Super-Delegates will be hard-pressed not to follow the will of the people. That they could not overturn the American voters' wishes. But when asked by Russert if that would be the case should Clinton win the popular vote, Daschle back-flipped and said its the pledged delegates, "elected by the people," who should ultimately be making this decision. C'mon, Tom, would it really be going against the 'will of the people' if the Super-Delegates ultimately support the candidate with the most popular votes?"

Ah, but the heart of the press still belongs to McCain. And isn't it funny that the old war hero narrative didn't impress them like this four years ago?

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03:45 GMT


Sunday, 09 March 2008

I heard it through the grapevine

You know, it's amazing what you can do when you campaign like a liberal - you can, for example, win in a heavily Republican district. Bill Foster didn't just win Hastert's seat because people are irritated with Republican corruption, he ran by sounding like one of us. Take that, Rahm.

United Technologies makes bid for Diebold. UT has a lobbyist named Charles Black, who is a spokesman for the McCain campaign.

Becki Jayne has a big, fat International Women's Day post, and also one with more general links. (And I am certainly excited to learn that racism and sexism are over. And, yes, I don't see how you can call our nominating process representative of "the will of the people", regardless of the outcome.)

Ah, someone has finally said it: "I think one thing is clear this far into the Democratic primary race: Both Obama's and Clinton's supporters must now drop out of the race." (via, (via)

"How Does This Help Democrats Win?" - Yeah, what Dave said. Via Natasha's linky post.

How bad are some polls? This bad, when a study showing that people get their news from local TV news surveys only those who are local TV news viewers, and a study showing that half of Americans get their news via the web is a study of adults on the web. via this useful post about good online sources.

Lis has an online typing test for you. (via)

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18:06 GMT


Parsing history

For the last few days I've been thinking about how we've been seeing many of the characteristics of a fascist police state take hold in America, but it began at a time when we had apparent economic strength, which was very different from what happened in Germany, where fascism became possible as a response to the economic misery that had followed the first world war. In Depression-era America, fascism was also a threat, but so was a communist revolution - and what FDR did was forge the path between, to modern liberalism.

What we're seeing today is that the slow degradation of our government and therefore our economic structure that began in earnest in the Reagan years hadn't really become obvious to most working people by 2000. The putsch happened right in front of our eyes and yet nothing seemed to slow it, and Bush was dismantling America openly without impediment. Instead of navigating between fascism and communism, our candidates are navigating between fascism and fascism lite. But now we're starting to see how our government and our economy have been hollowed out - and I think the worst is yet to come. Whoever gets into the White House next January is going to have their work cut out for them. So I was delighted this morning to see that The Editors had graced my comment thread while I slept and begun a discussion of FDR.

In other news, Diane reports on A Startling New Approach: "Now, here's a hopeful sign: four Latin American countries (Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela) came to the brink of war, and then backed down. Yesterday's NY Times had the story."

Unbelievably, Douglas Feith has "a massive score-settling work" coming out in which he blames everyone else in the world for the fact that he gifted us with the horrific disaster in Iraq. Thomas E. Ricks and Karen DeYoung have at it in The Washington Post. (Thanks to Ruth for the tip.)

You can watch the trailer for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull here.

Simels is hearing bells. Loved the Dixie Cups vid.

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12:48 GMT


"Isn't it time that being rude and thick became unfashionable?"

Huit Titcha underwired balconette braBra of the Week

On NPR, Montana Governor on 'Real ID' Act: "Montana is one of several states that have balked at a federal law requiring states to issue tamper-proof identification cards to residents. Gov. Brian Schweitzer discusses his state's opposition." (4 min 21 sec) (via) (BTW, Susie alerts us that, "The guy who turned NPR into "Nice Polite Republicans" is leaving.")

How to increase voter turnout by doing something "a little creepy". Also, your macabre laugh of the day.

Or it could be that they haven't flooded back into New Orleans because they were dragged out to the middle of nowhere with no way to get back and are being actively prevented from returning to their homes.

Few people in the world know more about the Whitewater persecution than Joe Conason, and he has Some free advice for Obama.

First Do Harm: "We've seen a lot the safety inspections that didn't bark in the night leaving trails of bodies, now we have the FDA seeking to preempt suits that try to penalize irresponsible uses of drugs that do harm. The implications extend beyond threat from irresponsible pharmaceutical effects."

And Now This: "Indefinite detentions, solitary confinement in cells with the lights on 24/7, extreme heat or cold: sounds like Guantanamo Bay, right? Well, yes, although these conditions are noted by a UN human rights expert speaking about US immigration policy as occurring at such exotic places as San Diego and Tucson, according to this article in the NY Times."

Lambert recalls an analytical tool and uses it to explore his preference for Hillary.

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00:14 GMT


Saturday, 08 March 2008

More and more

HTML Mencken is my hero:

Eh. It's not the support or supporters I object to, it's the enthusiasm and the fanatics. For any politician. But especially for such mediocre ones. After all, it's not as if either Clinton or Obama are exactly FDR incarnate; they are both fairly average "liberal" politicians who are thoroughly schooled in the arts of serial triangulation. They ain't radical; nor are they idealist; they are simply better than any Republican alternative. They're good enough for a vote (with or without one's nose tightly held) but that's it. It just won't do to mask this homely reality with fawning, drooling praise of either politician.

[...]

Oh, to believe again! Oh, to be able to turn the page, to forget the bad Nixon Reagan Bush years, to sacrifice vigilance and skepticism, to pretend that all the damage was an accident, an aberration and not an inevitable result of the stupidity and wickedness of the Republicans in particular and reactionary ideology in general. Oh, to go back again to the halcyon days when honest conservatives and sensible liberals honorably and civilly overcame their differences to form a trustworthy government! Yes, yes: this infantile desire is the thumb that, once placed in one's mouth, will always become a hook.

Now, I might disagree slightly with Thers, since I think the Founders made a pretty good try. It probably would have been better but for the fact that they, too, had their "centrists" to cope with - those would be the people who were resigned to kicking out the British but were not going to go along with Jefferson's flaky ideas about getting rid of slavery and giving the vote to everyone and having free education at all levels. (Jefferson actually thought he was writing documents that had gotten rid of slavery, which just goes to show. Then when that turned out not to be the case, he freaked out and invented a way to exploit the fact that slavery existed.)

But anyway, I have a confession to make: I didn't vote in the primary because I couldn't decide which of these two characters I found less annoying. So I'll vote for whoever you pick, and I will still expect you to join me in complaining mightily when they turn out to be just a goddamn politician, because that's all they are going to be unless you make them be better than that.

Thanks to Bruce F for the heads-up for Jonathan Schwarz's What Is And Is Not Monstrous, and to Duncan for this link explaining that Obama's contact with Canada on NAFTA is pretty much business as usual.

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21:01 GMT


The torture continues

I really enjoyed reading Teresa's take-down of a moronic commenter at Boing Boing. (via)

At least Hillary's idiot advisors didn't play nudge-nudge wink-wink with the Canadians on NAFTA. Or did they? And why was it leaked? Hmmm...

Kevin Drum compares images to try to get to the bottom of the sinister campaign video affair. Also: I think Samantha Power used to be pretty good, but I think it tells you something about what's going on that she tells people that Hillary Clinton is "a monster". Hillary isn't a monster; Hillary, like Obama, is a really ambitious person who apparently thinks those ambitions are more important than the disaster that dividing the party right now can bring on for the whole country and possibly the world. They're both being destructive and each side can see what the other side is doing and therefore thinks the other side is a bunch of monsters who deserve to lose by any means necessary. This is not healthy. I'm sick of people who dismiss other priorities because they don't want to miss their own Personal Moment. I wish y'all could see what I see and had just voted for Edwards in a fit of self-righteous apoplexy! Your candidate bites, dammit! But instead of seeing the light, you get in my comment threads and threaten violence or voting for McCain or not voting if your egg-sucky candidate doesn't get the nomination. I know you think your candidate has been nearly pure while the other has been monstrous, but you're wrong. They aren't practicing any "new" politics, they're both using language that accepts totally wrong RNC memes, and they're both doing and saying things that are designed to hurt Democratic chances (including those all-important down-ticket races) in November. Quit yelling at me and start yelling at your candidate to cut it out and start campaigning against the goddamn conservatives.

They've got all our e-mail - and the Blue Dogs want to make sure they keep getting it. Stephen Colbert explains why.

Mt. Ingraham Erupts - The General discovers what matters to Laura.

Unity - Rick Perlstein learns that the same people who haven't had it in themselves to get out into the streets while our Constitution is being shredded, we illegally invaded and occupied another country for no reason, we are torturing people, and we even have genuine political prisoners, are now threatening the entire Democratic Party with violence if they don't get their preferred candidate nominated. And all for a candidate who is no more likely than the other to end the occupation.

The Sexies - Sex Positive Journalism Awards. If you've seen something you thought was good, you can submit it yourself. (Thanks to Neil for the tip.)

More snow.

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13:37 GMT


And I'm near the end, and I just ain't got the time

Wikio - Top of the Blogs - PoliticsI've missed the old Blogstreet rankings since they switched to being all-India. Wikio seems to be doing the same thing, more-or-less, but they don't really seem to have it together yet. I mean, they don't even have Eschaton listed under Politics. (And I'm sorry, but the orange just does not color-coordinate with my decor.)

Surprise! Exclusive capitulation report: House Democratic leadership circulates FISA bill. Confirmation, denial, confirmation, denial... I think they know they're dirty and they're trying to keep everyone confused. Make the calls, folks.

Chris Bowers: "...the truth is that after watching politics for more than twenty years, at this point trying to win them back those "Reagan Democrats" feels like a lost cause and I've had enough of it. I'm tired of how trying to appeal to these voters basically never seems to work, but always succeeds in pushing the Democratic Party to the right. I'm tired of how it has created a perception in the Democratic Party that the progressive base don't matter, except as an ATM machine." (Also: The long campaign seems to be helping Democrats in the polls.)

Note to Steve Soto: Because women and those funny-colored people don't matter, didn't you know?

Will Bunch has a couple of maps showing what the current match-up polls indicate, and Paul Lukasiak tries to work out who is more electable.

The House has passed the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act. "Forty-seven Republicans joined 221 Democrats in voting for the bill. Three Democrats voted against it."

That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.

I made Ruth post her snow pictures on Flickr - particularly liked this one.

Blind Faith live, "Can't Find My Way Home."

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01:50 GMT


Friday, 07 March 2008

Manic depression illustrated

From Eschaton comments:

Seriously, there is nothing and no amount of experience that has either of them prepared for the big muck ups that will be left for them. In fact, America only knows a small portion of the wickedness this administration has spawned. No amount of previous experience is going to have them ready without reams of advisors.
PeasantParty | 03.07.08 - 7:46 am | #
Jane Hamsher was on a Clinton campaign conference call with Ann Lewis and Howard Wolfson yesterday, and says they criticized Obama for using Republican talking points. Jane asked them if the "3 AM" phone call ad didn't do much the same thing. She wasn't satisfied with the answer, but notes that Obama's team doesn't allow that kind of questioning on their conference calls. (A brief scan of the comments reveals that the usual anti-Hillary talking points are still alive. Yes, Hillary is DLC; however, Obama isn't exactly anathema to the DLC, and there's not a million miles between them and his campaign advisors, not to mention his own rhetoric. Whether the image of Obama in their ad was deliberately darkened or just an artefact of compression is unknown; however, it is common in campaign ads to darken pictures of the opposition to make them look gloomier than your own candidate. Yes, Hillary's "mandates" force everyone to buy-in to healthcare; however, Obama's solution of forcing people to pay a steep penalty for getting in only after they become ill might be even more cruel since it hits people when they can least afford it. I still say it's six of one, half-dozen of the other with these candidates on most issues, and they should both be soundly chastised for their poison pill campaigning against each other.)

Meanwhile, Christy says the Archie Bunker voters are choosing Hillary, according to a Bloomberg story. (But I think the discussion of race omits the fact that the candidates' rhetoric also has different types of appeal. There seems to be a strong preference for Hillary's type of rhetoric because, I think, it tends to sound more nitty-gritty on solutions. Obama's stump speech may feel a little too abstract to people who want to know that a candidate can see what they are facing and cares about fixing it. They want to hear, "I'm going to fight to solve your problems," not, "I'm going to rise above it and be friendly with everyone to solve your problems." Obama's style may be particularly uninteresting to folks who've already twigged that the people he wants to be friendly with are the same ones who got them into this mess in the first place.)

Maybe I should be president. After all, when it's 3 AM in DC, it's already 8:00 over here.

Digby has a reminder that there doesn't have to be any fire for the GOP to make lots of smoke.

People have good reason to worry about who the advisors are where the candidates are concerned. Alas, neither side looks that good.

Kevin responds with an impossible dream.

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13:14 GMT


It takes a lot to laugh

Oy, this is what Rep. Reyes thinks the issue is with FISA: "The issue is how to craft legislation that only protects companies that acted lawfully." Um, they already have that protection - it's how the law is supposed to work across the board. Immunity is for lawbreakers.

Kevin and Scott compare historical notes to suss out whether a long, drawn-out primary will hurt the party. I say it depends on what kind of primary draw-out these two characters decide they want to have. Right now I think they are both reacting to perceived slights (which is fair enough - they've both been divisive and destructive and I can imagine that each one thinks it would be an injustice if the other won after all those nasty tricks), but if they ever get their acts together and start campaigning against McCain, it could be a great primary, and then we could finally have some idea which one of them can really do the business.

Gosh, I'm just completely amazed to learn that the war profiteers who are helping to wreck our military while soaking our treasury are also tax cheats. (Thanks to David W. for the tip.)

Shocking new revelation: Unchecked government powers get abused. [Note to Glenn: You've answered your own question. Partly because this kind of thing always looks terrifying from the outside (remember the way Bush always seemed to be trying to stage scenes from Triumph of the Will?), but also because our side has better music.]

Jeralyn has the Rezko Trial: Recap Day One.

At A Tiny Revolution, The Fire This Time. Also: In with a bad crowd.

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01:40 GMT


Thursday, 06 March 2008

Chew on this

Ruth has been driven to type in spite of the pain in her hand:

Watching unelected State Department Senior Advisor Satterfield before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Middle Eastern affairs under close questioning Tuesday refuse to acknowledge any obligation of the president to get agreement with Congress in order to go to war is past bearing. With Justice Department rulings that Diane described a couple of days ago, that a president accepting bad advice is not prosecutable, this warns us that we can wind up in yet another undeclared illegal war.

Is it possible that our Democratic presidential candidates are being too agreeable about a tragedy that is happening in the history of our nation? We have the moral underpinnings of our country being cast off like last week's garbage, and what we are hearing about is delegate counts? I think the danger we are in with a presidential candidate declaring he'll happily send all our treasure abroad for 100 years, I may need more than declarations that enemies abroad will be confronted. I need to hear that the crimes in high office will be brought to an end, and enemies at home will be defeated.

Good catch at Dependable Renegade from The Agonist: "Carlyle Capital Corp. failed to meet four margin calls yesterday for $37 million, and has received notice of default from its lenders. The fund is the publicly traded arm of the Carlyle Group, the Washington D.C. equity and leveraged buyout firm that lies at the nexus of corporate and governmental power in the U.S. The Carlyle Group is the modern day source of enormous wealth for the Bush family."

Some day, freezing in the dark, we can all laugh bitterly at the memory of Bush campaigning in 2000 and saying that, since he is an oilman and a tough guy, why, he'd just tell OPEC to keep oil prices down.

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22:08 GMT


At least the weather's been mild

I love this - the National Republican Campaign Committee hired the Swift Boat guy to be their treasurer, and it turns out he's been faking their audits, and a whole lotta money is missing.

Chicago Dyke responds: "I'm not harshing on [Avedon] or [Glenn Greenwald], christ no. But I'm asking for a better way to frame the question. Right now the Constitution is a beautiful dream, but it's clearly not 'in force.' The law of the land is: who is closer to the security-military-contractor-prison complex, me or thee? If I am, I win. If you are, you win. This rule applies in confrontation, business, 'the economy,' and across most elements of the social environment. And if you have enough of a connection to the MIC, you can get away with anything, anything at all...

This site is too busy and hard to read, but it does remind me that, all over the world, there are annoying legislators who either vote the wrong way or just don't show up when it counts. "Pay no mind to the recriminalization of abortion; the important thing is that you had a good time."

Here's a nice made-up quote about how a North Vietnamese general said he was surprised that the Americans gave up just when we were about to win. David found it in The Washington Times, but it's got a Snopes page....

It's an honor - But I'm no good at coming up with these lists, because there are always more than the designated list will hold. Many of the lesser-known, B and C and Brand X blogs are really very good, and it's not hard to find interesting posts on a lot of them if you just go there. For example, this blog has loads of neat widgets, and also a link to Chalmers Johnson's "How to Sink America: Why the Debt Crisis Is Now the Greatest Threat to the American Republic."

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19:50 GMT


Make it stop

I hate to bring this up again, but last night I was listening to AAR and I first heard Brent Budowsky go on an outraged rant about the evil Hillary "smearing" Obama as a Muslim because she said he wasn't, "as far as I know," and then I heard John Elliot challenge a Hillary-supporter to defend the phrase (wrenched from context) "as far as I know" or admit she is some kind of evil race-baiting bitch. I wanted to throw up. Watch the thing again. Note the expression on her face and her tone of voice. In the most polite way she can, she's making it clear that she regards the question of whether Obama is a secret Muslim as senseless and stupid.

And then I heard a bunch of white people talking about how Obama understands pain because he's spent his lifetime "riding in the back of the bus and drinking at separate water fountains."

And then Patrick tells me that President Bill went on Rush Limbaugh to explain why the delegates from Florida and Michigan should be seated after all. Is there anyone who doesn't want to smack Bill Clinton for this?

Now, why would he do such a thing? Maybe it's the reaction to seeing a whole raft of articles and talking heads going on about how it's okay to disenfranchise the voters in Michigan and Florida because some people other than those voters messed up the primary dates. Here's one arguing that we have to punish those states, so we have to punish those voters. Here's one saying we have to disenfranchise those voters because some other people agreed to "rules". The rules also include the votes of superdelegates and the fact that failing to achieve a certain threshold number of delegates means you haven't won the nomination, and yet all sorts of people are screaming about how it's unfair if superdelegates "overrule the will of the people" and Hillary should drop out of the race because Obama is apparently entitled to the nomination, even though he hasn't got the requisite number of delegates, either.

The rules Rep. Jackson feels are so important exist to protect not the voters, but the importance of a tiny number of largely unrepresentative states in the early primary season. They aren't there to protect democracy and they have apparently frightened a whole lot of people into twisting themselves into pretzels over this issue. If people really cared about democracy in this matter, they might consider that the whole process bites and come up with an entirely new calendar - perhaps creating simultaneous primaries for all states, or putting all the states' names in a hat on an annual basis and deciding the order of primaries by pulling their names out of a hat. (Of course, all of the states would have to agree to that, since the Constitution clearly states that the individual states get to decide how they pick their electors for the presidential race. In theory, Florida and Michigan are supposed to be able to make that decision as well, but for some reason that's another story.)

Every few years there's a spate of discussion over what would be a fair way to run elections - usually based on disappointment with the outcome of the most recent elections - and every year virtually nothing is done to increase the level of fairness. In 2000, Republicans were deeply concerned with the evil possibility that Al Gore could win in the electoral college even if he did not win the popular vote, and were openly discussing demanding that the popular vote-winner be installed in the White House if this happened, despite the fact that it violated the rules - and they were doing this right up until the moment when it became obvious that Gore had won the popular vote and probably the electoral college as well, and therefore it was very important to violate every rule in the electoral book to prevent the votes in Florida from being counted. Certain individuals seem able to move fluidly between demands for justice, mercy, democracy, and all those nice things (for their side) to demands of stern rule-book-following when the rules disadvantage the opposition, even if they have to break all the rules to do it.

You know, I can think of all kinds of good reasons to oppose a Clinton nomination (here's one), but making up charges about smears that never happened, or playing this rules-when-I-like-them-but-not-when-I-don't game - well, no.

Assuming that at least one of your reasons for supporting your candidate is electability, it might be wise to ask yourself whether disenfranchising and alienating two important states' Democratic voters is a wise move. Bill Clinton wants to let the warped results of the Florida and Michigan votes stand, and apparently Obama supporters want to disenfranchise those states from the process. Both are being stupid. The DNC and at least one state governor have agreed to re-votes in. As I understood it, Hillary herself was signalling that she would agree to re-votes (even though there is a good chance that Obama would do better in a second vote).

And if FDR himself had to go to the convention and through four ballots to get the nomination, I don't see why Hillary and Obama can't do the same. However, if they both keep campaigning for McCain instead of against the Republicans, I don't see why either one should get the nomination at all.

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15:40 GMT


A bunch of stuff

This ABC poll appears to be saying that both Obama and Clinton are leading against McCain, and that even a significant percentage of conservatives prefer them. Most voters see the possibility of a first black or first female president positively, but McCain's age is a net negative for him. Bearing in mind, of course, that the numbers for the various polls are all over the map.

Warren Buffet now richer than Bill Gates - or anybody else.

The best thing about Tuesday's results was the look on Russert's face.

"KKOB Radio News Anchor Laura MacCallum Quits After Station Pulls Stories About Alleged Republican Vote-Buying Efforts: Ex-anchor Says Station Caved to Pressure From Heather Wilson's Senate Campaign."

The Bush Legacy: America is 30 percent poorer.

Breaking barriers: "It's What We Do."

Charles thinks Glenn Greenwald has missed a point about FISA.

I wonder if there's any relationship between that land the Bush family recently purchased in Paraguay and the fact that Neil Bush has been running around Paraguay with a bunch of big-shot Moonies.

"Just imagine walking up and down Oxford Street pretending to be hats and dogs."

I've gone several days without saying anything negative about Joe Lieberman, but I'll have to borrow something I failed to link when it was new. He really is a creep.

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03:07 GMT


Wednesday, 05 March 2008

Electoral calculus

Just a reminder: If the Democrat loses in November, this is what we will hear:

  • It's because s/he swung too far to the left.
  • It's because of women/blacks.
  • It's because of the goddamned left.
  • It proves that the country is conservative.

And that will "prove" that the party needs to move back to "the center" (i.e., even farther right than it is already), that we need to ignore the concerns of "special interest" groups like blacks and women (and gays, and... and people who work for a living), and that free trade is wonderful and Praise the Lord! that we have McCain in the White House to keep us in Iraq forever. (I wrote a little more about this here.)

Digby: "There's lots of chatter tonight that Florida and Michigan might get new primaries in June. The governor of Florida says he'd be willing. The way things are going, they may actually be necessary to allow one of the candidates to get to the magic number and be considered legitimate by the half of the party that didn't vote for him or her." Oh, please, yes.

Results for Texas at Burnt Orange Report (which also has other posts with results for downticket races).

At least Obama does seem to have a knack for saying it plain. Also: cute caption contest.

Photo of the Moon and the Earth in the same frame, seen from Mars.

This is a prezzie for David W. (And this may be a more familiar version from when he was young and cool.)

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16:06 GMT


The laws of lawlessness

At last, Glenn Greenwald has gotten down to the nitty-gritty and discussed what no one is saying about the original FISA legislation that was introduced in 1977 - that it was an outrageous ceding to government of the power to violate our Constitutional right to privacy (yes, privacy) as clearly spelled out in the 4th Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Glenn quotes from a 1977 article by right-wing NYT columnist William Safire railing against the illiberal nature of the bill:
But nobody is reading the fine print, which adds up to the most sweeping authorization for the increase and abuse of wiretapping and bugging in our history.

[...]

And this bill would turn every telephone instrument in every home into a suspected household spy.

In those days, Ma Bell was a leading voice against enslaving their equipment to government nosiness. Even the never-liberal Washington Post, though it supported the new legislation, saw it as a necessary restriction on illegal wiretapping that was already going on, and made clear that abuses by the exective were a serious concern. No more:
Back then -- with a relentless, ideologically extreme Evil Empire threatening our very existence and our freedoms -- GOP fear-mongering was brushed aside. The political establishment overwhelmingly concluded that warrantless eavesdropping presented intolerable dangers, and many believed that FISA's "safeguards" were actually woefully inadequate. Telecoms lobbied on behalf of their customers' privacy rights and against being drawn into government surveillance. Editorial boards were almost unanimously on the side of greater oversight on presidential spying.

That all seems so quaint. The mindset which back then defined the radical, pro-surveillance right-wing fringe has now become the sweet spot of our political establishment. The GOP fear-mongering that back then was laughed away today dominates our discourse and shapes our laws. The secret FISA court which back then was viewed even by some conservatives as an extreme threat to civil liberties is now the outermost liberal viewpoint, one that is about to be ejected altogether by the Democratic Congress from the mainstream spectrum. The political establishment today knows only one viewpoint: literally no limits are tolerable on the power of the loving, protective Surveillance State.

Indeed; the most liberal position in the public discourse is this: that it's okay to take our time on constructing a new, more invasive FISA law, because the original law will cover us adequately in the meantime. But virtually no one is arguing that no updating at all of the original law has ever been necessary (except me and a few security geeks), and no one at all is pointing out that FISA itself is and always was a bridge too far. When the authorities violate the 4th Amendment, they should be put in jail, not given greater latitude to spy on us under a legal fiction of national security.

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12:28 GMT


Muddy terrain

24 Hours in the life of Howard Kurtz, alleged Media Critic.

This looks like it could be a handy book to have around: 10 Excellent Reasons Not to Hate Taxes. And I'm sure it makes a great gift, too.

Krugman: "All in all, the Democrats are in a place few expected a year ago. The 2008 campaign, it seems, will be waged on the basis of personality, not political philosophy. If the magic works, all will be forgiven. But if it doesn't, the recriminations could tear the party apart."

Republicans like Obama as much as they like McCain. Of course, that doesn't mean they're going to vote for him. And Pelosi wants to know why the US Airforce can't give work to Americans.

Digby on disgusting cave-in Democrats - again.

The Thing About Elections, Susie says, is that you never know what's gonna happen, "And that's Clinton's strongest case for hanging on no matter what, despite the calls from many bloggers to drop out. This race could be a very, very different one in August."

Egalia has found reports of dirty tricks at the polls in Texas. I don't actually know enough about these rules to know what it's all about.

Hillary is "100% wrong" in her response to Columbia's attack in Ecuador, while Obama gets it right. But there's no reason to think either candidate is going to change direction in American imperial policy. "But it's plausible that grassroots pressure could pull [Obama] in a better direction on a range of issues. He seems to be appreciably less stuck in cement than the other candidates who still have a chance to become president on January 20, 2009."

Gary Gygax, RIP, at 69. I should probably ask Mr. Sideshow for a little historical squib, but I'm too lazy.

I liked this ad.

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01:47 GMT


Tuesday, 04 March 2008

The map or the territory

I think it's worth remembering that most Democrats want Hillary to stay in the race, even if she loses Texas and Ohio. People want to be able to vote, and people want time to see what the candidates really look like. Of course, this could be because more Democrats actually support Clinton for the nomination, and would prefer not to let Republicans pick their nominee. (But the internets are angry at the dirty trick Hillary is playing by having the potential to win in Texas or Ohio.) But how do you know what's missing if it's missing? (via)

Ruth isn't posting much because she has an injured hand, but she couldn't stop herself from writing about what it means when someone pulls back the curtain on a system that has lost its true value.

Mimi Swartz in the NYT says "Lone Star Liberals Are Back [...] Beyond Mexican-Americans, the beginnings of dissatisfaction with the Republicans were visible in the 2006 elections, when Gov. Rick Perry managed to win only 39 percent of the state vote against a liberal Democrat, an independent and the gonzo novelist Kinky Friedman. Even stuffy, starchy Dallas County landed in the anybody-but-Perry camp. Texans were sick of what they saw as Republican-generated political divisiveness, along with an appallingly ineffective Legislature. Coalition builders - fiscal conservatives who are social progressives like Houston's Democratic mayor, Bill White - are now a lot more reflective of the way many Texans want to see themselves." The good news is that there's someone in the NYT who recognizes that the divisiveness is Republican-generated. The bad news is that she thinks Ann Richards lost the governor's race because of "the huge Republican shift in Texas" rather than the huge Rove attack on her having a staff member who was a lesbian.

Jonathan Turley in the LAT: "Mukasey's Paradox, if adopted, will result in administration officials being effectively beyond the reach of the law. ..." Diane at Cab Drollery: "I do believe that just might be the perfect description of tyranny."

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16:42 GMT


Trail mix

Am I the only person who still remembers when Richard Lugar was recognized as one of the truly dangerous loonies in Congress? And he did that before the GOP decided that lock-step insanity was the only way to go - he didn't have to be encouraged. And Hagel may have given some nice-sounding lip-service to sanity in the very recent past, but he's voted with the Republicans pretty consistently - and, speaking of votes, he "won" his seat under extremely suspicious circumstances. When I hear a candidate say he might want these people in his cabinet, I think: "Are you a complete raving maniac?"

And Josh Marshall has more on that Canada/NAFTA/Obama thing: "Remember, both things can be true -- Goolsbee may have said these things (he's already eyed with suspicion by many Democratic policy types) and the Tory government in Canada used this to damage Obama. One doesn't negate the other."

But now we appear to have two candidates who are playing these stupid and destructive campaign tricks: "'I think you'll be able to imagine many things Senator McCain will be able to say. He's never been the president, but he will put forth his lifetime of experience. I will put forth my lifetime of experience. Senator Obama will put forth a speech he made in 2002,' Clinton told reporters on her plane en route to Fort Worth from San Antonio." Does she know she's supposed to be campaigning against McCain? What is this crap? On the other hand, Susie alerts us that the Clinton campaign found just the place for the Stepford Press. Karen Tumulty reports. "'These accommodations should in no way be taken as a commentary on the quality of our media coverage,' said Clinton spokesman Doug Hattaway." (Also: Please get a grip, people.)

War's good business; invest your son. Or admit that this whole charade is killing our country.

Oooh, I didn't realize Max had done some drop-in blogging at the FDL Book Salon Sunday.

Have some Elmore James.

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13:00 GMT


Assorted fruit and nuts

Atrios quoted the following paragraph, earlier, from David Rose's "The Gaza Bombshell" in Vanity Fair: "After failing to anticipate Hamas's victory over Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials, David Rose reveals how President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever." Yes, we already know that if there is something destructive they can do, they don't hesitate to do it, but even after all this time it can still make me sick.

Glenn Greenwald finds more lies about FISA coming from the WSJ, and provides an update and clarification about this week's expected Congressional actions.

Bob Somerby wonders if the NYT has fallen out of love with McCain. But I say it's early days, yet, and there's plenty of time left for them to remember that his opponent is a [fnord] Democrat.

Echidne considers the meaning of "honor"

Thanks to Dan for the link to an "interesting workaround for those folks so concerned about vote suppression preventing fraud." And to Charles for alerting me that Charlie Crist used to be out.

Mark Kleiman blows the lid off the Obama/Nafta story. But I don't get it - why would they need to call the Canadian embassy to tell them that what he said was what he meant? (Apparently, though, Ohio isn't really voting based on NAFTA, since they don't see much different between 'em.) And I can see why BTD calls this "Josh Marshall doing his best Ann Althouse imitations".

Will Sean Hannity denounce his buddy who said: "I'm starting to come to the realization that it may be up to a sole person, acting alone, to make certain (Obama) is never allowed to hold the most powerful office in the world. Sorry it may have to be that way, but it may." (And is the guy being investigated for making what sounds like a call for a terrorist volunteer?)

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00:54 GMT


Monday, 03 March 2008

Announcements

Nicole Belle at C&L alerts us that, "Silvestre Reyes Says The House Is About Ready To Approve FISA Bill - WITH Immunity, and to an op-ed by Studs Terkel, Quentin Young, Barbara Flynn Currie and James Montgomery, "Why we sued the phone company". Jane Hamsher warns Dems there's a price to pay for the continual cave-ins. Tell them.

If you're in Chicago next Sunday, you may want to catch David Cay Johnston discussing the rip-off of America by our corporate rulers and his book, Free Lunch, at Columbia College.

Take a few minutes and watch Jeff Healey doing "See the Light" (with Dr. John on piano, Marcus Miller on bass, and Omar Hakim on drums), and be amazed. His version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", as I understand it, has background harmony dubbed-in by George Harrison. Healey was planning a European tour next month, but has finally lost his life-long battle with cancer. He was 41.

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15:47 GMT


Stuff to read

Who is Obama? A reporter who followed his career in Illinois says the reality is a little different from the picture we've been seeing. Todd Spivak says he still supports Obama, but there's no denying the man is an ambitious politician who has used every trick in the book to clear the field of obstacles. "My view of Obama then wasn't all that different from the image he projects now. He was smart, confident, charismatic and liberal. One thing I can say is, I never heard him launch into the preacher-man voice he now employs during speeches. He sounded vanilla, and activists in his mostly black district often chided him for it." And, "It's a lengthy record filled with core liberal issues. But what's interesting, and almost never discussed, is that he built his entire legislative record in Illinois in a single year. Republicans controlled the Illinois General Assembly for six years of Obama's seven-year tenure. Each session, Obama backed legislation that went nowhere; bill after bill died in committee. During those six years, Obama, too, would have had difficulty naming any legislative achievements. Then, in 2002, dissatisfaction with President Bush and Republicans on the national and local levels led to a Democratic sweep of nearly every lever of Illinois state government. For the first time in 26 years, Illinois Democrats controlled the governor's office as well as both legislative chambers." And then the new Dem majority leader decided to make Obama a star, and gave legislation that others had crafted and pushed for years to Obama to pass and put on his résumé. So, even Obama gets nowhere without a load of progressives to do the work for him. If he becomes president, y'all better not rest. (Thanks to Ahistoricality for the tip.)

Sunday was Misogyny Day At The Washington Post, where women are stupid and fickle (which should answer Debbie Howell's question about why the post isn't winning the female market). Hundreds of complaints won't stop them from doing it, though. Of course, they fire you if you write something that irritates Likudniks, but we're just wimmin.

The Rude One informs us that, "the Senate finally came to an agreement on the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which, among other things, provides $16 billion to do what the title of the bill says. It's a big deal. But, of course, all seemingly good things that get through the Senate must have the taint of rabid conservatism stinking them up somewhere." Like David Vitter permanently extending the Hyde Amendment's ban on abortion funding through Indian Health Services.

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12:51 GMT


When worlds collide

I always thought Google-bombing Bush by making the type-in phrase "miserable failure" and having a link to the White House site or the Bush campaign site was stupid, even if you think Google-bombing is a great idea, because it requires you to type "miserable failure" into a search, and who's going to do that other than someone who already thinks Bush is a miserable failure? But Bowers has the right idea here, because people who type McCain's name into a search when they want to find McCain's site or learn more about him will be led to a page that will tell them why they shouldn't trust John McCain.

It's funny, the wingers are all for censorship whenever it's supposed to be about "national security", but whenever there's something that really ought to be kept secret, such as the identity of one of our spies, they just don't see the point. You might think, for example, that publishing information that could get a member of the royal family of one of our few remaining battlefield allies killed would be regarded as likely to cause a significant international incident and thus be worth avoiding, but that wouldn't appear to be a problem for them. That's because the "we" they represent isn't the "we" of the United States of America at all, and their "we" doesn't actually have any battlefield enemies - and thus, no battlefield friends. None of it matters except that they manage to stay out of jail until they can fly off to that special plot of land in Paraguay.

Privatization is a great way to steal from the poor, and Natasha has a nice linky post at MyDD.

And remember: Jon Stewart Warned McCain About "Crazy Base World".

So a legal resident of the United States who has lived in the country since childhood is acquitted of a stupid terrorist charge, and the administration is nevertheless trying to deport him. (And the trouble with this is that it doesn't really tell me anything about Obama, since a wide spectrum of people seem to project their own views onto him at any time. In normal circumstances I'd worry about having a putz like Jeffrey Rosen ascribe his own whacky views to the candidate, but I'm willing to bet that he doesn't really have any evidence for his belief in what Obama thinks.)

Joe Conason has a good question for John McCain: "Within the next two weeks, the number of American troops killed in Iraq is likely to reach 4,000, assuming that the average number of fatal casualties per day remains steady. It is an arbitrary number, given meaning by the fact that the nation may briefly take notice, but a day will come in this presidential campaign when Sen. John McCain must explain what he thinks we have gained by the sacrifice of those men and women." Via No More Apples.

What if William F. Buckley got his wish?

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03:27 GMT


Sunday, 02 March 2008

American stories

TPM Muckraker's US Attorneys page has the latest, and after Pelosi's letter to Mukasey about the contempt citations, it looks like the issue is headed to court, "where we'll have the novel situation of the House Judiciary Committee suing the White House." Also: Some people think the media has been unfair to Hillary, Ignatius unknowingly gives the highest praise to Obama, and even Joke Line finds McCain and Hagee's chumminess disturbing. Amazing. (Though dog alone knows what a "Revelation literalist" might be. The only possible literal interpretation of the Revelation is that someone ate a lot of mushrooms.)

Taylor Marsh has a guest post from pediatrician Sophia Yen critiquing Obama on healthcare. She points out that a good thing about mandates is that they facilitate getting people who are already eligible for government healthcare programs to enroll. Oh, and Hillary on SNL.

I just don't understand why Thers keeps picking on Ann Outhouse just because she is out of her bleedin' mind.

Watch the trailer for Uncounted, see screenings or arrange to host one yourself, and worry a lot about yet another election being stolen.

On that list of people I've known since I first discovered fandom and was always glad to roam the Sheraton Gormanghast with, Janet Kagan actually ranked pretty high, although I had little contact with her once I moved to England. I hadn't known she was ill, and I'm sorry to hear that I won't be seeing her again. Via Arthur Hlavaty.

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18:36 GMT


Wrong turns

Dan at Pruning Shears on Poisoning the Well:

It's probably a running joke the world over that government is inefficient, bureaucratic, Byzantine and at times almost comically inept. It's a caricature grounded in truth, but our current leader wants us to believe it is a portrait of the entire truth. He may have been unintentionally revealing when he jokingly stated (via) his preference to be a dictator - he clearly chafes at following rules or being subject to oversight. He seems to believe that he knows what is right and should be free to pursue it without constraint, and one crucial part of that pursuit is sowing doubt everywhere (even where reasonable doubt has been long erased). Has State Department media been reduced to a laughable house organ? Is our elections commission able to fairly monitor the election system? Does the Justice Department pursue the law wherever it may lead? He prefers us to doubt all that and more. In order to act without the restraints of convention, norms, ethics or even the law itself it is essential that we doubt the abilities of our institutions to function competently and honestly. It doesn't matter if we strongly suspect something is wrong, only that we not be able to determine what is right. Such a large-scale loss of faith in our government will take a long time to repair, but of course that will be of little concern to him as he retires to build his temple to himself in Texas.
H.D.S. Greenway reviews Fred Kaplan's Daydream Believers: How A Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power: "But his central thesis is that the Bush team were fantasists, who dreamed big dreams of transforming the world to make America safe, but completely misunderstood the world around them. The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union was a "seismic shift in global politics," but America's leaders misread this shift, believing it made America all-powerful." (And while I was reading the IHT, I saw this photo of the entrance to the Global Seed vault, which looked kind of neat.)

It seems the African states are not really enthusiastic about America's plan to "help" them. Gosh, I wonder what would cause that.... (And another example of shaming the poor.)

Astonishing news from Cactus at Angry Bear: an administration move so corrupt that even a wingnut blogger can't explain it away. Via a very linky post at The Impolitic.

Chomsky vs. Buckley, 1969.

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13:17 GMT


Burglar surrendered to toy giraffe

Chantelle Africa Sexy half cup braBra of the Week

Atrios realizes that the torture never stops. (But I'd still rather listen to Joplin than Madonna.)

The other part of trying to class Bush with Lincoln - or with Churchill or other legendary leaders - is not merely trying to build Bush up, but to tear those others down. They compare him with Lincoln or Roosevelt, we compare him with Hitler, and sometime up the road, all these names will blend together....

Rorschach reports that Bush is standing by his principles, Ratzinger is still vile, and "a senior Israeli official" used an unfortunate choice of words.

Thank God Tim Russert doesn't ask politicians about trivial stuff no one cares about like how they are going to keep up payments on their mortgage, or find a job, or send the kids to college, and instead diligently concentrates on things that keep us all up at night, like whether Dennis Kucinich has seen an unidentified flying object or how much Barack Obama likes Louis Farrakhan or Harry Belafonte.

I guess I should mention that Hillary Clinton offered a child poverty plan the other day in Ohio. (I think I got that link from eRobin, but I'm too lazy to check. But go here for the torture update.)

When I was trawling YouTube for an example of Mike Smith's voice, the song I was looking for was "Everybody Knows I Still Love You" because I thought it shows more of his stylistic range than any other single song, but I was dismayed that I couldn't find it anywhere. In fact, I found a different song I'd never heard before called "Everybody Knows", and thus began to doubt my memory even more than usual. It finally occurred to me tonight to type "daveclarkfive.com into the address bar, and lo and behold, the site (warning: opens up loud) has a juke box where you can play the song. Click on "Enter jukebox" right away and hit stop to get rid of the intro music, and then press "H" to hear the song.

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00:10 GMT


Saturday, 01 March 2008

Seriously Strong Cheddar

Will Barack Obama denounce the statements of Jay Rockefeller and refuse his endorsement, or can we assume that Obama agrees that law-breaking telecoms should be unaccountable? We wait breathlessly for Tim Russert to demand an answer to this question.

Faithful Progressive has the IRS/UCC story covered. Which is good, because I'm finding the whole thing so infuriating I can't even rage coherently about it.

There's been some amusement the last few days as people wonder whether John McCain actually qualifies as a "natural-born" American citizen for purposes of presidential eligibility, but Claire McCaskill has introduced a bill that would make it okay.

Paul Krugman alerts us that, wearing his "other hat", he's written a lengthy paper called, "Trade and Wages, Reconsidered" [.pdf] which concludes: "How can we quantify the actual effect of rising trade on wages? The answer, given the current state of the data, is that we can't. As I've said, it's likely that the rapid growth of trade since the early 1990s has had significant distributional effects. To put numbers to these effects, however, we need a much better understanding of the increasingly fine-grained nature of international specialization and trade." (Thanks to Randolph for the tip.)

Episode 387 of Bill Maher is a pig. (But at least he's funnier than that other guy, although this isn't an example of it.)

Thom Hartmann's review of Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism: "...the way 'infant' economies become "mature" economies is not via free trade. It never has been and never will be. Whether it be the mature economies of Britain (which began to seriously grow in the early 1600s), America (late 1700s), Japan (1800s), or Brazil (1900s), in every single case, worldwide, without exception, the economic strength and maturity of a nation came about as a result not of governments 'standing aside' or 'getting out of the way' but instead of direct government participation in and protection of the 'infant' industries and economy."

If someone good leaves The New York Times, what do they get to replace her? I shudder to think. (Thanks to Mark for the tip.)

Have you done your monthly breast exam?

Iron Man movie trailer.

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19:13 GMT


A guest rant on prisons

Found in comments at Eschaton:

'White men are the new Jews of liberal fascism' sets some kind of record for the greatest number of asinine, dead-wrong, historically nonsensical things one can say in a single short sentence.

And, while we're started on prisons, think of the folk in jail with, say, drug-resistant TB, being treated in a system run by a private corporation for profit, trying to make a buck. That person won't be in jail forever, odds are. He, or his wife or child, may cough on you next time you're on the #4 train heading to work.

The American criminal justice system is an obscenity seven ways from Sunday. Like what passes for the American health care system, there are counterexamples that are working better, more humanely and at far less expense right now, today, not in some utopia. And meanwhile, astounding numbers are incarcerated, prison rape is a national joke, disenfranchised felons are today's version of the old constitutional 3/5 rule.

I should shut up before I get tiresome. But in a just world, the way we treat prisoners and criminals and citizens would be an object of the highest, most urgent moral outrage. And if you say so, there isn't a snowball's chance in hell of your holding elective office in this country.
ProfWombat | 03.01.08 - 10:32 am | #

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15:42 GMT


Rumors of Spring

It seems Glenn Greenwald's efforts have been rewarded by a little bit of interest in the McCain/Hagee story in the corporate press, but not as much as we'd like. Meanwhile, back on telecom immunity, Glenn notes that Bush told the truth in his recent press conference when he said, "Allowing the lawsuits to proceed could aid our enemies, because the litigation process could lead to the disclosure of information about how we conduct surveillance." Except that when he refers to "our enemies", he's not talking about Al Qaeda, he's talking about the administrations real perceived enemies: the American people. And yes, they really don't want us to know what they're up to. Glenn also quotes a Jeff Gannon-like question Bush got at his press conference on the subject. (Let the record show that that wasn't the only one.)

Digby departs from The Washington Post's idea of transformational politics: "They obviously believe that bipartisanship is the only way to bridge the red-blue divide, and judging from the examples they cited, when they say bipartisanship, they mean capitulation to the conservatives. [...] But regardless of the establishment's predictable resistance to change, the progressive movement does need to define what "transformative" means beyond ending partisan squabbling. Clearly, if that is a goal unto itself the bipartisan concern trolls will hijack the agenda."

Nir Rosen in Rolling Stone on The Myth of the Surge: "Hoping to turn enemies into allies, U.S. forces are arming Iraqis who fought with the insurgents. But it's already starting to backfire. A report from the front lines of the new Iraq." (via)

It's not just that right-wing columnists write senseless junk and deranged rants, or that their "logic" looks amazingly unlike anything, well, logical. It's also that an amazing number of them can't even write their own material. Get one of these little College Republican types an op-ed column in a newspaper and eventually you seem to find that whole articles have been lifted from the works of better-known (or at least more widely-published) right-wingers. Julia has been having gleeful fun with the latest exposure, a creature called Tim Goeglein whose sources seems to be a bit too easy to trace.

A message to Ralph Nader from some dude you never heard of.

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13:10 GMT


Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, March 2008


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