Saturday, April 20, 2002

Avedon Carol states that David Corn's equation of Senator Inhofe's remarks with Congresswomen McKinney's is incorrect, with in her mind the former being "fruitbat territory" and the latter not. She may have just been trying to slam Inhofe, but I worry she inadvertently undercuts Corn's central point. I don't think Corn was trying to compare the relative Truth of the comments, but rather highlight the selective outrage of her critics.

Charles Kuffner claims that McKinney's comments were simply "read meat" for her fans. If only it were so. To me, it is more a dainty sliver of sashimi. Tasty, but not exactly coronary-inducing. Compared with the littany of lies that is Republican Red Meat, I'm quite happy for a bit of fiery rhetoric by the Dems. And, since nothing McKinney said was factually incorrect....where's the problem?

As Kuffner seems to ignore, both of her basic points are true. He seems to think that it is standard practice for Friends of the Administration to be war profiteers. Or, at least, he implies that the serendipity of the administration's close ties to the defense industry is something we just have to accept. The question of whether our military actions are morally justified or not should be separate from the administration's connection to military contractors. But, that doesn't mean that it is. It doesn't mean that the tremendous [proposed] increase in the defense budget is. It doesn't mean that the new Secretaries of the various armed forces are not just funnelling funds back to their previous employers.

The point is that currently there is an atmosphere which discourages even asking such questions. I want to know where this $50+ billion is going, to whom, why, and is the money being spent wisely? The demonization of anyone who dares to raise these questions, simply because they dare to suggest the obvious - maybe government contracts go to [horrors!] well-connected buddies, and maybe those expenditures are padded, is ridiculous. The connection between Cheney, Halliburton, and Brown&Root is obvious. The connection between Poppy Bush and the Carlyle Group is well established. The connections between Secretary White, who did give some military business to Enron, and Enron, are well established. Frankly, anyone who raises these questions deserves a medal. God knows Bob Woodward isn't doing it.



And, I'd also like to suggest that had Fritz Hollings made the same comments he wouldn't have gotten nearly as much press.



Eschaton Prediction

Now I'm annoyed. People will not stop talking about McCain running as a Democrat in '04. So, let me give my prediction. If McCain runs for president in '04, he runs not as an Independent, not as Democrat, but as.... (no Marshall, not as Bull Moose party candidate)... as... as... as.. as..


a....

REPUBLICAN!

well, duhh.


Richard Reeves makes clear why.
Hey Ashcroft, did you catch Eric Rudolph yet?

The Anthrax mailer?

Osama Bin Laden?

Anybody?

Didn't think so.


Josh Marshall reminds us that the State Department has asked all non-essential personal to leave Venezuela, and is paying their way to do so.
So, Al, why don't you tell us what you really think?

Under the presidency of George W. Bush, the environmental and energy policies of our government are completely dominated by a group of current and former oil and chemical company executives who are trying to dismantle America's ability to force them to reduce the extremely dangerous levels of pollution in the earth's atmosphere.

The first step was to withdraw from the agreement reached in Kyoto to begin limiting worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases. Then the administration cancelled an agreement requiring automobile companies to make the leap to more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Other acts of sabotage are taking place behind the scenes. Just as Enron executives were allowed to interview candidates for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — and to veto those they didn't think would approve of Enron's agenda — ExxonMobil has been allowed to veto the United States government's selection of who will head the prestigious scientific panel that monitors global warming. Dr. Robert Watson, the highly respected leader of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, was blackballed in a memo to the White House from the nation's largest oil company. The memo had its effect last Friday, when Dr. Watson lost his bid for re-election after the administration threw its weight behind the "let's drag our feet" candidate, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri of New Delhi, who is known for his virulent anti-American statements.

On Salon's Table Talk, M.C. discussed her recent meeting with Butch Hollowell, a member of Gore's recount team, at a Democratic fundraiser.. Some tidbits:

-It was obvious to him that many ballots were deliberately spoiled. Easy to claim, impossible to prove, of course.

-A Democratic observer in Santa Rosa county was arrested. Why? For objecting to the county's secret recount.

Good golly Miss Molly!




Posted on Sat, Apr. 20, 2002



That ethical vision chart looks pretty blurry

AUSTIN - When in the course of the usual reasoned, civil debate on public affairs - conducted always with courtesy and good cheer - one finds one's self snarling,
"Oh, shut up!" one has, I fear, been reading too much George Will.

Being instructed what to think by the peerlessly pompous Mr. Will, perched upon his superiority and apparently in a permanent state of dudgeon over everybody
else's stupidity, is reminiscent of being bullied by a snotty teacher. One is tempted to respond with the classic, frozen-faced Texas inquiry, "No bull?"

Will is often worth reading, if only so you can figure out why you disagree with him. Lately he has been leading an entire phalanx of right-wing commentators in full cry
over President Bush's loss of "moral clarity" in the Middle East. The sheer implausibility of finding moral clarity in the Middle East does not deter them. Better minds
than Bush's are defeated by that challenge, but the moral-certainty crowd admits no shades of gray.

Since Bush himself is fond of moral certainty - it's good-doers vs. evildoers in BushWorld - he must be uncomfortable with what Will magisterially dismisses in a
recent Newsweek essay as the "intellectual confusion and moral miasma ... that now permeate U.S. policy and media coverage concerning the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict."


Backstage with Bush Filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi


"I was indoctrinated in the Democratic Party," Pelosi says. "I was raised in San Francisco in the 1970s. My mother was chair of the California Democratic party when I was growing up and our house was the Northern California Democratic party headquarters."

Even so, Pelosi admits, when she was on the road with Bush, "I wanted him to win, in this sick way. I didn't vote for him, but secretly I wanted him to win because it would've been good for my career. If he was elected president I would be a member of the White House press corps. That was the unspoken among all the reporters: 'If he wins, it's good for us.' "


"We don't care what you say, intifada all the way." - chanted today at at the Rally Against War and Racism .

And they said that after 9/11 irony would be dead.
Hey, that must be a record. It took 50 minutes for the first Mumia reference.

There are various gatherings around the country celebrating the birthday of one Adolf Elizabeth Hitler. The D.C. celebration is currently being carried live on C-Span.


He's the German Ethel Merman don't you know? .

David Corn points out that when Cynthia McKinney blames Bush and the Carlyle Group for 9/11 (which she didn't even do) a firestorm erupts. However, when Senator Inhofe blames Bush and God for 9/11, there isn't even a peep. Thanks to The Hamster for the link.
What is the Bull Moose smoking?

Though he doesn't ever quite come out and say it, I suspect Marshall's a bit concerned with the fact that his party is run by its theocratic fringe.

I can respect that, but anyone who uses the term Bush Doctrine without collapsing into a serious case of the giggles is not someone to be taken seriously.
Glasnost Watch

Why does Bill Moyers hate Amurka so much?

Actually, the link doesn't seem to address the issue I was interested in. But, on tonight's episode of NOW Bill Moyers dares to discuss the failed coup in Venezuela and our involvement in it.
Haha, just when I'm grooving on Clinton's speech my pal S.D. points out that in it, Clinton says:

Thank you, Secretary Reich, for your enthusiasm, for being enthusiastic about the right things. In your heart alone you have enough domestic content to bethe Secretary of Labor. (Applause.)

S.D. weighs in with:

If our prez knew then what he knows now about the infidel Reich, he could have acknowledged him by saying, "Secretary Judas Reich".


Okay, so it wasn't a perfect speech...

Friday, April 19, 2002

100 visitors already? The counter blocks my IP, so that's real.

You like me, you really like me !
As bartcop points out, today is the High Holiday for the loony right, and more importantly the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

To remember that day, I'd like to post an excerpt of a speech President Clinton gave soon afterwards. I had a very difficult time locating it (thanks for the assist, longstocking). The all powerful google was not helpful. Any attempt to find it led me to page after page after page from the loony right, who in their profound and disgusting ignorance, managed to interpret this speech as a threat to their right to preach hate. It was nothing of the kind. It was a call to arms to the rest of us to speak up. To oppose their message. Well, I'll just let the Big Dog speak for himself, and let you be the judge. It was probably his finest speech.



Excerpt from Clinton's Speech:


In this country we cherish and guard the right of free speech. We know we love it when we put up with people saying things we absolutely deplore. And we must always be willing to defend their right to say things we deplore to the ultimate degree. But we hear so many loud and angry voices in America today whose sole goal seems to be to try to keep some people as paranoid as possible and the rest of us all torn up and upset with each other. They spread hate. They leave the impression that, by their very words, that violence is acceptable. You ought to see -- I'm sure you are now seeing the reports of some things that are regularly said over the airwaves in America today.

Well, people like that who want to share our freedoms must know that their bitter words can have consequences, and that freedom has endured in this country for more than two centuries because it was coupled with an enormous sense of responsibility on the part of the American people.

If we are to have freedom to speak, freedom to assemble, and, yes, the freedom to bear arms, we must have responsibility as well. And to those of us who do not agree with the purveyors of hatred and division, with the promoters of paranoia, I remind you that we have freedom of speech, too. And we have responsibilities, too. And some of us have not discharged our responsibilities. It is time we all stood up and spoke against that kind of reckless speech and behavior. (Applause.)

If they insist on being irresponsible with our common liberties, then we must be all the more responsible with our liberties. When they talk of hatred, we must stand against them. When they talk of violence, we must stand against them. When they say things that are irresponsible, that may have egregious consequences, we must call them on it. The exercise of their freedom of speech makes our silence all the more unforgivable. So exercise yours, my fellow Americans. Our country, our future, our way of life is at stake. I never want to look into the faces of another set of family members like I saw yesterday -- and you can help to stop it. (Applause.)




over to you, Pigboy.



Rate the pundits!! Taking its lead from HotOrNot and Richard Posner's silly-sounding book we now have Am I a Public Intellectual or Not?!
Are there any Republicans who aren't under investigation?




NEWARK, April 18 —
Agents from the Federal
Bureau of Investigation and
the Internal Revenue Service
today raided the office of
James W. Treffinger, the
Essex County executive and
the current front-runner for
the Republican nomination
for United States Senate this
year.

Sandra Carroll, a special agent in the Newark
office of the F.B.I., confirmed the search of the
offices of Mr. Treffinger, the county's highest
elected official, and Ronald H. Manzella, the
appointed county administrator who handles
day-to-day business. Their offices are in the
Essex County Hall of Records here. Searches
were also conducted on a number of other
unspecified locations, she said. One person
familiar with the search warrants the agents were
carrying said that the agents had also searched
Mr. Treffinger's Verona home.

Anyone remember the term "golden straitjacket"? I'm not sure who coined it, but it gets thrown around by globalization fetishists like Tom Friedman.

The basic idea is that international organizations such as the WTO, IMF, etc... establish a framework of rules and punishments that are designed to punish countries that do counterproductive things such as have trade wars, subsidize preferred failing industries, run excessive budget deficits, pass pesky environmental legislation, etc... etc... To be in the club, you have to behave, and if you misbehave you get punished or booted out. Being booted out will deny you access to world capital markets, preferential trade agreements, etc.

I'm all for free trade. I'd be quite happy to abolish all tariffs and to work to reduce discriminatory trade restrictions. However, there is an important thing to keep in mind...


Despite the constant praise heaped on the "free market" and on "competition" by the Masters of the Business Universe, any CEO worth a bucket of spit despises these things. Competition is bad for profits, not good. Businesses look out for their own interests, not that of consumers, and anything they lobby for should be met with much suspicion, particularly when it is justified by pithy phrases like 'open markets', 'smooth capital flows', 'foreign direct investment', 'adam smith, 'golden hand' and the like. So, if American businesses are pro-WTO, one should be concerned that as times goes on, they will do their best to perform a bit of reverse alchemy on that golden straitjacket, if they haven't already succeeded.

Charles Kuffner takes Avedon Carol to task for her defense of Congresswoman McKinney.

He has three main points. One is that her comments were essentially out of line. The WaPo article about her comments does its best to make it seem that her comments were unreasonable. What the article does, and what most people have done, is conflate two entirely separate points she makes, which she herself likely didn't mean to do. She says two basic things:

a) The administration likely knew something beforehand.

and

b) There are people who are close to the administration that stand to profit from the war on Terra.

It is only if you link these two things that her comments were potentially over the line. At least, over the line if she has no further evidence. In doing this, it makes it sound as if McKinney was saying the administration caused or let 9/11 happen in order to reap great profit. Though her radio remarks could be interpreted this way by a reasonable person, I admit, she didn't actually say it. And, her written statement makes quite clear what she meant.


Points a) and b) above are well-established.


Kuffner's second point is that congressional investigations are generally just a big waste of time, and this is best left to journalists. While the public face of congressional investigations, the hearings, are undermined by too much grandstanding (often by those trying to derail them), the behind-the-scenes part of the investigations can be very valuable. Without subpoena power, and given the Justice Department's current stance on FOIA requests , there is little journalists can do absent the resurrection of Deep Throat.

His third point, the Al Gore Has Oil Interests Too comment is really silly. First, the "everybody does it" defense is never worth much. Second, this isn't just about oil, but defense. And, third, many members of Bush's administration were around for the Last Great Looting - those wonderful 80s scandals that were of such mindbogglingly huge proportion that the media decided it was best if we just forgot them all. People who dwell on such things are dealt with by asking the simple question, "Why DO you hate America so much?".




'I have faith in Jeb Bush' - Rosie O'Donnell.

pass the vodka.
Someone shut Rosie O'Donnell up. Now. Please. I'm referring to her apperance with Dianne "Deep Throat" Sawyer, but this article by Signorile explains the general issue fairly well.
California Politics Watch

Bill Simon doesn't know if he paid California taxes.

Sacramento -- Bill Simon, GOP multimillionaire candidate for governor, said
yesterday he wasn't sure he had paid any California income taxes last year --
and suggested that a request by Gov. Gray Davis that he release his tax forms
smacked of Karl Marx and "Big Brother."

Simon, responding to a call from Davis to prove he had paid his "fair share" of
taxes, insisted he would not make the information public. "I mean, that sounds
like somebody coming out of Moscow, you know? 'Their fair share,' " he told KSFO
560 radio host Brian Wilson on Tuesday. "You know, Karl Marx talked like that .
. . and there's going to be Big Brother that's going to decide what your 'fair
share' is," Simon said. "That is not a concept that is contained in the Internal
Revenue Code.

Thursday, April 18, 2002

When did Paul Krugman get so cool? Though he always wrote well, he also was a self-promoting asshole. Maybe it is the male menopause.
This is so embarassing. There is absolutely nothing to report on the Blake story, but that's okay. It took less than half an hour to move onto the meta-story, which is how the media will cover the story. Just be honest - turn to the camera and say, "We're so sorry for wasting your time. There is nothing to report. This story is not important. No one is really interested in it, least of all us, and in any event it is 7:33 pm on Thursday and there is asbolutely no news here. We will now stop trying to fill airtime even though we have nothing to talk about and return to something important. Or, at least to something about which we have anything to report."


Haha! What a fantasy.

It is really sad watching Aaron Brown desperately try to convice us, or himself, that the Blake story is very important indeed.

Blake Blake BlakeBlake!!!

and we all thought it would be

SkakelSkakelSkakelSkakel!!!

that would provide the permanent distraction from the
maladministration.


 

 

I've finally arrived! I'm now on the mailing list of the Cato Institute! They did send me a handydandy pocket book of the constitution, but I will not be sending them the $5000 they requested.
Excellent article in the Boston Phoenix by Michael Bronski about the Right's latest target, Judith Levine. I suppose this is as good a time as any to ask - are there any Democratic child molesters?
George Steffie's Dream Comes True!!


My inside sources* tell me that George was never really interested in politics - he always wanted to be a media guy.

*I only have two inside sources, and they don't talk to me very often, so don't expect too much.
Glasnost Watch


Bush promised the U.S. people a "war on terrorism" that "we will certainly win." So far, all he's produced is the downfall of the weak and impoverished Taliban. He
hasn't captured Bin Laden. Pakistan is shaky. Saudi Arabia is pulling away. If he doesn't invade Iraq, he will look foolish where it matters to him most--in the eyes of
American voters. And he is being told this, in no uncertain terms, by his advisors on internal U.S. politics. Bush's incredibly high approval ratings reflect his being a
"war president." The minute he becomes a peace-time president, he will be in grave trouble--all the more so because of failed wartime promises.


link to full article in LA Times.
Brad Delong makes the obvious point that it actually matters if our president is a drooling imbecile. I think the fact that someone even has to make this point speaks volumes.
Josh Marshall finally finds the media whore decoder ring. Of course, what he forgot to mention is that Fair and Balanced only applies to the so-called liberal media when talking about Republicans. See The Daily Howler for examples too numerous to comprehend.
The fine folks at MWO recently asked if anyone still subscribes to Newsweek. Their criticism was more directed, but I think the broader point is valid. Is there ever anything worth reading in that piece of crap?
I refuse even to link to them. But, both TNR and Washington Monthly decide to discuss the McCain for Democratic Candidate for President fiction!

The objections to this concept are so many and so obvious I won't even bother to list them. But, the fact that our crack pundits have nothing better to write about, even when there is so much more to write about , proves that not much has changed since 9/11.


Privatizing Schools. This will end really badly, the only question is how long will it take.

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Mass transit ridership is up! Comparing trips and miles is bit apples and oranges. On the other hand, ridership increased quite a bit in cities which actually have an almost workable system. How many L.A. residents even know they have a subway? Up 15% there... You know, maybe it is just my fondness for alcohol, but I'm a *big* fan of public transportation.


Eric Boehlert of Salon tells the Democrats that it is far worse than they think regarding media coverage of Bush. Remember when we were informed by our crack punditocracy that Bush would govern from behind the scenes and not be in our face all of the time like that evil Xlint00n. Boy would that be such a relief! Someone forget to tell the networks...Same campaign speech, every day, live on CNN!
I wonder how long it will be until literally dozens of people are reading this on an almost monthly basis.
Is this thing on?