Saturday, June 21, 2003


This has to suck. Bigtime.

Operation Tribute to Freedom

This is truly creepy. I mean, really.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is a busy man. Running the Department of Defense in jacked-up times. Ramrodding past Secretary of State Colin Powell a new American foreign policy, Diplomacy Through Bombsight. Reinventing the nation’s entire military structure, where he encounters resistance every step of the way from older brass. Conducting a tireless round of press conferences so lively that you scarcely miss the nominal president of the United States.

Some reporters lately have had the temerity to ask hard questions about our recent adventures, and Rumsfeld had to verbally bitch-slap them. At his age! He should be sitting back in his recliner with a whiskey sour and copy of Popular Mechanics.

But no, he’s busier yet! The same flair for micromanaging and knowing what’s best for those in uniform is now being shared with the rest of us, here in Everytown, USA. His staffers have been phoning city officials, including some in Orange County, and strongly urging them to structure Fourth of July celebrations around the war in Iraq.

"I got the impression that they had a list of every city in the nation that had applied for a pyrotechnics permit, and were calling them to persuade them to be part of the program," said one OC city official.

Statue Kitty

In my current undisclosed location there are a lot of street performers who do the "living statue" thing. For most of them the thing is to just get in makeup and costume and stand perfectly still and hope people drop in some money. Some add a bit of mime or audience interaction. Well, you´ve all seen this kind of thing.

One guy has added a wrinkle though - perched on his shoulder is statue kitty. Statue kitty seems content to sit there perfectly still for hours.

Just thought I´d share.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Then and Now

Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers, has an excellent piece on Sebastian Haffner's book "Defying Hitler". Haffner recalls his own experiences living in Germany during the Nazi rise to power and by doing so reveals some frightening similarities to the attitudes and agendas of his countrymen back then and the current right wing agenda being advanced today in the US.

"All along the way, Hitler would propose or actually promulgate regulations that sliced away at German citizens' freedoms -- usually aimed at small, vulnerable sectors of society (labor unionists, communists, Jews, mental defectives, et al.) -- and few said or did anything to indicate serious displeasure. In the early days, on those rare occasions when there was concerted negative reaction, Hitler would back off a bit. And so the Nazis grew bolder and more voracious as they continued slicing away at civil society. Many Germans (including some of Hitler's original corporate backers) were convinced Nazism would collapse as it became more and more extreme; others chose denial. It was easier to look the other way."

Entire article via American Politics Journal. See link below.

Germany In 1933: The Easy Slide Into Fascism


The Poodle and el Caniche

Looks like George´s two friends are already battling it out. Aznar is trying to get W. to help him get Gibraltar back from Tony.

pass the popcorn.

Stop the gay Canadians!

From Morford:

Rove also pointed out, just before the tiny demon leeches sucked away what remained of his shriveled soul, how Canada's wicked WMD decision probably meant there were similar latent gay terrorist revolutions ready to burst all over Antarctica and Poland and probably Latvia like some sticky-smooth lubricating substance, and they must be stopped before the world is "converted" and we all end up getting regular pedicures and drinking white wine and belting out the words to "Cabaret" as we cruise around in our purple Miatas.

Already, America's perspective has been affected. In a shocking new poll, fully 41 percent of Americans now believe the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 tragedy were, in fact, gay married Canadians.

Similarly, 23 percent are now convinced Saddam Hussein was either "somewhat" or "almost totally" Canadian. Or gay. Or a member of Loverboy.

AG John Ashcroft, no stranger to uptight asexual homophobic hyper-Christian puling and all too familiar with looking exactly like he just swallowed a pleasure-ribbed condom filled with boiling road tar, was seen running around the Hall of Justice smacking a heavy King James Bible against his skull and dousing himself with buckets of holy anointing oil, just before running smack into the bronze left nipple of the swathed statue of Lady Justice and knocking himself cold.

"A really, really long metal fence is what I endorse," oozed House majority leader and noted closet Village People megafan Tom DeLay, between tongue baths from his personal herd of mildly narcotized French poodles. And Dennis Hastert.

"You know, a big strong fence studded all over with those really sharp barb-wire stickler thingies? Like the kind they use on those leather dog collars? The thick black ones with the snaps that feel all tight around your ankles? And you can't help but squirm and moan and get all giddy?" he continued before falling into a fit of uncontrolled swooning.

Twelve More!

Okay, I was hoping to get 30 sustainer donations by Monday but I don´t think that´s going to happen. But, if we only get 12 more donations I at least hit the single donation goal of 50! Give!

Protected Persons

Josh Marshall quickly says what needs to be said about the press and the latest non-scandals:

Here are a few very good examples of an ignored fact: the problems at the Times (and, for that matter, the Post and a slew of other papers) aren't new. They just started treading on what we might call, well, protected persons.

And Joe Lelyveld, who shows nothing but contempt for the truth, is back in charge.

Who Forged?

Since the CSM has determined the documents they received about Galloway were forgeries, will anyone in our media ask the rather obvious question... who created them?

Look! Scott Peterson!

Truly Nuclear

If this comes to pass I hope the Dems understand that the only thing left to them is the MAD option. This really would be the final admission that the rules no longer apply.

It works like this. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist attempts to gradually lower from 60 to 51 the votes needed to end a filibuster. That fails, because it requires 60 votes to change a Senate rule and the Republicans have only 50. Then Vice President Cheney rules on a constitutional point of order that 51 votes can end a filibuster of nominations. The Senate parliamentarian, appointed by Republicans, upholds his ruling. The filibuster blocking Priscilla Owen is ended. (And the road is cleared for the right-wing Supreme Court justices Bush will appoint later in his first term.) It would be quite an end to a Senate procedure in effect since George Washington held office.

None other than George Will would oppose such a thing. Or, at least, he did when the Republicans were in the minority but now they´re in a majority so he wouldn´t anymore.

(via Talk Left)

Rodney and Me

No respect.

Sullivan Supports Mass Starvation

As Eric Alterman puts it:

It is really an amazing assertion when you think about it. Not only does Andy think he should be assignment editor for the entire blogworld, but he thinks if you don’t accept his instructions, you’re some sort of left-wing scaredy cat. I see Andy never mentions the 12 million people facing death from starvation in Ethiopia to which Stupid refer below. Does Andy favor mass starvation? The reason I’ve not mentioned Iran is that I’m too busy (see above) to teach myself enough about it right now to have anything intelligent to say. I realize that caring enough about a topic to actually know what you’re talking about is a foreign concept over there in Sullyland, where goyim lecture Jews about loyalty to Israel and foreigners lecture Americans about patriotism. (Next thing you know he’ll be offering “how-to” lessons on the missionary position.) But the fact is, there is an assumption on the part of many right-wingers that they, and no one else, should be allowed to decide what topics are appropriate for media debate. It may work on talk radio and cable TV, but not here. Get outta my face, punk.

Terrorist Gets 12 1/2 Years


TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - A Florida doctor was sentenced to 12-1/2 years in federal prison on Thursday for plotting to blow up an Islamic center in retaliation for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Robert Goldstein, a podiatrist, apologized to the Islamic community before he was handed the maximum sentence on charges of conspiracy to violate civil rights, attempting to damage religious property, and possession of unregistered firearms.

Reports at the time stated that Goldstein was a convert to the Christian sect Jews for Jesus and had been a member for sometime.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

It was just a matter of time....

I think Ann's shooting her wad. Obviously, "Slander", with its fusty 19th Century overtones, had limited market potential in this post-modern age, and ultimately had to go, but how does one top Treason? "Cannibalism"? "Satanism"? You get my point.

I mean, it's ridiculous. If liberals were really guilty of treason, our country would by now be in the grip of a power-mad minority running roughshod over centuries of established procedure to ensure their unchallenged grip on power, regardless of popular will, while violating the most elementary due process...Oh.

No failures To Communicate Today


Sit down, take a load off your feet, treat yourself to a Margarita.

Time to celebrate, (courtesy of freelixer).

The Senate Commerce Committee voted Thursday to overturn parts of a Federal Communications Commission decision freeing media companies from decades-old ownership limits and allowing them to buy more outlets and merge in new ways.


"I would like the FCC to start all over," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who opposes the changed rules. She said they are "potentially dangerous to media diversity in this country."

And from the left, (also courtesy of freelixer):

When the Federal Communications Commission voted June 2 to remove key restrictions on media consolidation, dissident Commissioner Michael Copps warned, "This Commission's drive to loosen the rules and its reluctance to share its proposals with the people before we voted awoke a sleeping giant.


Barely two weeks after Copps uttered those words, he was proven right, as the Senate Commerce Committee responded with rare haste to the public outcry that followed the FCC decision. In a sweeping rejection of the agency's decision to provide already large media conglomerates with opportunities to extend their dominance of the nation's political and cultural discourse, the committee on Thursday endorsed a legislative package that reverses the worst of the rule changes.

The first article speaks of the legislation having an "uncertain future."

In your dreams, Mr. Viacom. We, the people, are about to become your worst nightmare, Mr. Murdock.

When will aWol be done censoring the 9/11 report?

The families want to know. (Salon: Go on, do the one day pass)

Family advocates also wanted to know why the government -- and specifically the Bush administration -- has been so reluctant to find answers to any of the obvious questions about what went wrong that day, why so little has been fixed, and why virtually nobody has accepted any responsibility for the glaring failures.

While the administration of President George W. Bush is aggressively positioning itself as the world leader in the war on terrorism, some families of the Sept. 11 victims say that the facts increasingly contradict that script. The White House long opposed the formation of a blue ribbon Sept. 11 commission, some say, and even now that panel is underfunded and struggling to build momentum. And, they say, the administration is suppressing a 900-page congressional study, possibly out of fear that the findings will be politically damaging to Bush.

Just another phase of Operation Shameless Weasel...

First Vases, Now Violence

Once again, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld gives a problem his unique perspective .

Three people died violently Wednesday in Baghdad. An American soldier was killed in an attack at a gas stations, and two Iraqis were shot dead by U.S. soldiers who opened fire at stone-throwing protestors outside a presidential palace. The demonstrators, former Iraqi soldiers, were demanding back wages.


About a dozen U.S. servicemen have been killed by hostile fire in Iraq since President Bush declared major combat over on May 1. American military commanders in Iraq say attacks on their forces happen daily, though one commander on Tuesday dismissed the fighting as "militarily insignificant."

At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Wednesday sought to put a new perspective on the recent deaths and injuries in Iraq, pointing out that Baghdad is a big place with a lower violent crime rate than Washington, D.C.

Then again, Washington D.C. isn't patroled by AN OCCUPYING ARMY, even if Rumsfeld thinks it should be.

"You've got to remember that if Washington, D.C., were the size of Baghdad, we would be having something like 215 murders a month," said Rumsfeld. "There's going to be violence in a big city."

I used to hate it when these kinds of questions were asked about the Clinton administration, but I just can't help it: Is there a strain of insanity in this one? For instance::

Pentagon admits Iraq guerrilla war

In Washington the Bush administration and military commanders differ publicly over the degree of resistance to US occupation in Iraq, but Mr Wolfowitz told Congress: "There's a guerrilla war there but we can win it.


Speaking from Iraq to reporters in Washington, General Ray Ordierno of the 4th Infantry Division said he would not describe the resistance as being of a "guerrilla" nature, dismissing it as "militarily insignificant".

The comments by the Pentagon's top two officials reflect efforts by the White House to prepare the nation for a longer and more hazardous enterprise in Iraq than had been anticipated.

Anticipated by whom? I certainly anticipated it. Atrios did. Josh Marshall did. All sorts of humanitarian NGOs did. Tom Freidman did. Senators Biden, Kerry, & Lieberman did. Max Sawicky did. Kos & co. did. Eric Alterman did. Others way way too numerous to mention did. For heaven's sake, even Chris Matthews did.

Well, at least the President acted, and boldly so. You have to give him that.

Our new word for the day: "redacted"

On TexasGate, from John Conyers (PDF, sorry).

Here we use our new word in an example:

“(Redacted) was questioned regarding any notes taken regarding the missing airplane. (Redacted)
said (redacted) noted from (redacted) conversations regarding the missing airplane with USCS
were shredded. (Redacted) said (he or she) did not shred the notes. (Redacted) said (he or she)
does not recall who (he or she) gave the notes to for shredding.” IN03-OIG-LA-0662, page 2.

Huh! Wonder why the Thugs would want to leave those parts out? Roll on, Operation Shameless Weasel!

"Revisionist History"

aWol's crafted soundbite on criticism that, Gosh, those imminently threatening WMDs that were the administration's justification for the war just can't be found...

A classic case of right-wing projection, eh? Probably a meme infestation from one of the former Trots that infest the neo-con movement....

"Revisionist history"...

I'd be laughing... Or crying... If I weren't banging my head on the table, that is.

Conflict of Interest

Looks like a man at the center of the Westar scandal is good buddy of Crisco Johnny.

Does aWol know what "mentiroso" means?

Andres Oppenheimer in The Miami Herald

A new poll shows that 69 percent of U.S. Hispanic voters believe that the president has not kept his promise to make Latin America one of his top foreign policy priorities.

''During the last campaign, Spanish-language media heavily publicized Bush's commitment to Latin America, and during his first two years in office they gave extremely positive coverage to his relationship with [Mexican President] Vicente Fox,'' says Sergio Bendixen, president of Bendixen and Associates.

''But over the past year, Bush has hurt his credibility on two issues that Latino voters pay attention to: immigration, and Latin America,'' Bendixen says.

Among the key findings of the Bendixen poll of 800 Hispanic voters, with a margin of error of 3.5 percent:

• The political honeymoon between Bush and Hispanic voters may be ''on the rocks.'' The percentage of Hispanics who say they would vote for Bush has dropped from 44 percent in 2002 to 34 percent today.

• There is strong evidence that President Bush has hurt his credibility among Hispanics by neglecting Latin America: 69 percent of Hispanics feel Bush has not met his promise to make Latin America one of his top priorities, while only 19 percent think he has kept his word. In his 2000 presidential campaign, Bush had promised that he would ''look south not as an afterthought, but as a fundamental commitment'' of his presidency.

• Among the Hispanic voters who feel Bush has not kept his word on Latin America, 60 percent say they plan to vote for a Democratic Party candidate, and only 24 percent say they would vote for Bush

And anyone know the Spanish for "bait and switch"?

Granted, it's a Democratic poll, but then it's always good to see the Democrats doing a little strategic thinking.

Things Right Wing Bloggers Aren´t Talking About

I can only assume they either don´t care or support them, and this somehow makes them hypocrites though I´ll let you figure out exactly how:

-Severe drought and starvation in Ethiopia and Eritrea, both of which I believe were part of the coalition of the willing in our noble mission to liberate Iraq.

-Torture and boiling people alive in Uzbekistan. Another partner in the COW, IIRC.

-The impact of the US led drug war on peasant farmers in Bolivia and Columbia. Coca grows like a weed, and search and destroy missions by hired guns end up destroying the crops of many honest farmers.

-The poverty rate of Jews in new York is skyrocketing. Your lack of concern can only lead me to conclude you are all anti-semites.

-Childhood hunger in rural America. Why do you like hungry kids?

-Female genital mutilation. Email andrew sullivan at and ask him why he doesn´t care about female genital mutilation. Does he enjoy it when females have their genitals mutilated?

Jim Lehrer Wakes Up

I used to like Jim Lehrer but at some point he decided his job was simply to let his guests say what they want without challenging them. Howler catches him in rare moment:

BROOKS (6/13/03): The frustrating thing about the book to me is that like many politicians, including Ronald Reagan, she is incapable of having an interesting insight or an original thought. All these people who have these positions where they could really see something and say something interesting are just incapable of thinking in that way and the person who has the high power and also can write interestingly like a Winston Churchill or Teddy Roosevelt is so rare. So the book is kind of frustrating because it is frankly a little dull.

Sadly, Brooks announced that the book was dull. But then, we think we’ve mentioned the Hard Pundit Law—pundits must say that this book is no good. Every pundit knows what to say. Mrs. Clinton is lying. Or the book is quite dull. Or she just blames all the mess on her enemies.
But now, Lehrer turned back to Shields, and the crafty host had a trick question. Of course, as Hard Pundit Law requires, he received a Belittling Group Reply:

LEHRER (continuing directly): Have you read it?
SHIELDS: I haven’t, Jim.

LEHRER: Are you going to?

SHIELDS: It’s right behind the—

BROOKS: The Spanish-English dictionary.

SHIELDS: The Spanish-English dictionary or “The Franco I Knew.” No, I don’t. Jim, I really don’t. I don’t plan to.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Left and right mean nothing here; Shields and Brooks amused the rubes with their witty putdown. But now a thought occurred to Lehrer. The host turned back to David Brooks. And he asked Brooks if he’d read the book:

LEHRER (continuing directly): Have you read it? You talk like you you’ve read it.
“You talk like you’ve read it,” Lehrer said. But guess what? David Brooks had been faking:
LEHRER: Have you read it? You talk like you you’ve read it.
BROOKS: I read parts. I stood in the bookstore for about an hour looking at it; I did not buy it.

LEHRER: You went into the bookstore and picked it up and, what, skimmed it?

BROOKS: Simon & Schuster is now canceling my book contract but I have to tell the truth.

Thursday Is New Jobless Day

Congratulations to the 421,000 new jobless! And congratulations to the additional 4,000 who were missed in the original count last week!

Throwing the Book at 'Em

It's apparently a small book:
Intent to send a message to the pipeline industry, U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein gave a six-month prison term — the maximum — to Frank Hopf, 55, the executive in charge of Olympic when its pipeline ruptured on June 10, 1999.

The explosion that followed fatally burned Wade King and Stephen Tsiorvas as they played in a Bellingham park. Liam Wood, 18, fishing in a nearby creek, was overcome by fumes and drowned.
Oh, and this was time such a sentence was handed down in pipeline industry history. Hopf was found guilty of "willful safety violations" in connection with the spill. But he only snuffed out three lives. It's not like the guy made $43,000 dumping stock:
If convicted of all counts, Stewart faces up to 30 years in prison and $2 million in fines.
Tell me how businesses are punitively overregulated in this country again?

Alarmism In Defense of Liberty Is No Vice

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow points us to Jim Henley's magnificent rant re: that constitutional imprimato bestowed on all those detentions the Bush DOD claims it can't tell us about, by our old friend, Judge David Sentelle and collegue on the DC Ct. of Appeals.

Remember when we used to become indignant at the Reagan administration's support for the Argentine junta, and its indifference to those magnificent Mad Mothers of the Plaza Mayo, who protested the disappearance of thier accused loved ones every Thursday in that famous Buenos Aires plaza?

Jim Henley does. And Avedon wonders if the third amendment is the only one currently operational.

Go read.

Those readers with a tendency towards high blood pressure may want to take their medication first.

Saving Sue Schmidt

Needle Nose has been following the fun and adventures of the Post´s stenographer.

Is Orrin Hatch Violating Intellectual Property Laws?

Destroy his computer!
On Wednesday, Hatch came under attack for allegedly being a copyright
pirate himself. His Web site's menus use JavaScript code
created by the U.K. company Milonic Solutions . Milonic Solutions charges
between $35 and $900 for the right to obtain a license number for its
JavaScript menu, but Hatch's site does not include a license number.
Instead, this comment appears in the site's HTML code: "i am the license for
the menu (duh)."

Dick or Joe

Roger Ailes is correct. If Dick Morris isn´t lying, then Joe Lelyveld deserves to be banished from journalism forever. On the other hand, if Dick Morris is lying again, he will secure himself a job for life at Fox. (link bloggered, scroll down)

Over to you, MK Ultrahack.

Shut Your Holes

What Calpundit says.

Carlson and Matthews

And Margaret wonders why no one wants to buy her book. And Tweety has to wonder why no one watches his show. Some quotes from Charlie Rose, courtesy of Julius Civitatus:

Chris Matthews: The Clintons are the Menendez brothers of American politics.

Margaret Carlson: Hillary is the Greta Garbo of politics: she doesn't express a feeling or emotion she doesn't want to show.

Margaret Carlson: I confess I have only parsed the book looking for "the good parts." (Laughter)

Chris Matthews: Hillary tries to make herself an "Oskar Schindler" figure when defending her husband.

Carlson: Hillary carefully calculated becoming the senator of a state she only heard of as a tourist.

Carlson: Hillary never aknowledges the incredibly reckless behavior of her husband. (...) She always portrays herself as the victim -- that the right is always mischaracterizing the Clintons.

Chris Matthews: The Clintons will end up doing "Love Letters" in Broadway (huge laughter)

Stupid Journalists

They don´t say which ones, but according to the Howard Dean weblog the kool kids have been criticizing a line in the new Howard Dean commercial in which he says he approves of the commercial.

Hello, morons, it´s now required by law. Journalisming is haaaaaard! Well, doing it right is.

Keep Them Coming

We´re on the way to meet this week´s fundraising goal! Look, I have a lot of readers. I´m not asking for people to put in a bunch of money, but if even 10% of you dropped in $20 or so that´d be big. A lot of small numbers added up is a big number.

On the other hand, it appears someone did drop in a rather large donation. Next time someone feels that generous maybe we can set up an NPR-style matching thingy of some sort.

Attack Poodles and Other Media Mutants

Appears James Wolcott just inked a deal to write a new book. The description from Publisher´s Lunch:

James Wolcott's ATTACK POODLES AND OTHER MEDIA MUTANTS, which lodges a cluster bomb at the news establishment for getting down on their knees and taking dictation from Georg Bush, and which promises to take Fox News apart limb by limb, to Jonathan Burnham at Miramax, in a significant deal, by Elyse Cheney at Sanford J. Greenburger (NA).

(sent in by em)

I wonder if publishers are starting to realize these books actually sell.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Eric & Joe

Update: Mr. Alterman's visit to Scarborough Country is to take place tonight, Thurday, the 19th. My apologies.

No, not Conason. I wish.

However, Mr. Alterman has been extended a visa to visit Scarborough Country and he's expected to make an appearance tonight. On the west coast we get it at 7 PM, and thrice repeated, thereafter.

If you haven't visited Altercation in a while, he has a lot of good stuff up; don't miss his contretemps with Kaus, and his discussion of Goldberg-fils' NRO review of "What Liberal Media?"

Check out Eric's Nation column; an excellent discussion of Le Times, Le Raines, Le Blair, etc.; ties it all together nicely.

Are You Tired Of All Those Little Guys Beating Up On All Those Big Guys

Do you feel that big corporations have too little influence on your life and on the life of the nation?

Take heart: The Congressional Republicans are about to redress the imbalance:

Goodbye, Erin Brockovich...

It was the kind of legal action that made a heroine out of beauty-queen-turned-crusader Erin Brockovich, pitting the little people against the might of corporate America. But now the US Congress is set to hand business chiefs the greatest gift since the advent of the Bush administration: an end to so-called 'class action' suits.

If measures now being pushed through Congress succeed, her career as a champion of local people against big industry is over.

In the past, most class action suits were filed through state courts. In some of the better-known cases, against cigarette and later gun manufacturers, actions swept across states to become a tidal wave of litigation.

But the House of Representatives has voted by 253 to 170 to thwart the vast majority of class action suits in state courthouses, limiting all but the smallest claims to federal courts, where the big companies, say citizens' groups, find it easier to delay the progress of suits and 'shop' for courts more favourable to their interests.

'It's the biggest thing for years,' said a jubilant Lawrence Fineran, vice-president at the Association of Manufacturers. 'Just about every industry group is on this bandwagon, because every industry is affected.'

This is the kind of issue that lends itself to the most fundamental grassroots kind of opposition - standing outside supermarkets or malls with handouts explaining what's going on, talking to sympathetic PTA members - old fashioned informational picketing in front of appropriately selected law firms, local congressional and Senatorial offices.

I got so many interesting answers to my question about how to harness the grassroots potential of the blogisphere, I'm still digesting them. As soon as I have, I'll post something. In the meantime, keep on thinking and commenting. An issue like this is what organizing is all about.

Margaret Carlson's Advice To The Less Powerful

In regards to that Grovor Norquist Spring cleaning the Dean finally noticed, and Lambert characterizes so perfectly that I'm going to repeat it:

Student loans? "Wiped clean." Unemployment insurance? "Wiped clean"? School lunch for your kids? "Wiped clean." National parks? "Wiped clean." Your Mom's Medicare? "Wiped clean." Your Dad's Medicaid? "Wiped clean." And so on.

The Incomparable Sommerby, and never more so than in everything he's posted last week and this, reminds us what Ms. Carlson would probably advise, before we get ourselves all worked up.

In a rational world, American citizens would be deeply troubled by what Carlson said to Don Imus. She appeared on his program on October 10, 2000—four weeks before Election Day. Why was the press corps pursuing trivia, and ignoring much more serious matters? And why was the corps so much tougher on Gore? Carlson didn’t mince her words. The press was pounding Gore—and giving Bush a pass—because it was “more fun” to do so, she said. “I actually happen to know people who need government, and so they would care more about…the things we kind of make fun of,” she continued. “But as sport, and as our enterprise, Gore coming up with another whopper is greatly entertaining to us.” So spoke one of America’s leading pundits, describing the values of the American press corps.

And if you're ever unfortunate enough to find yourself being raped, just relax and try and enjoy it.

Powerful Senator Would Destroy Computers of Illegal Downloaders

Honest to God. That's almost verbatim the Boston Globe headline on this AP story. Can you guess who?

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday he favors developing new technology to remotely destroy the computers of people who illegally download music from the Internet.

The surprise remarks by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, during a hearing on copyright abuses represent a dramatic escalation in the frustrating battle by industry executives and lawmakers in Washington against illegal music downloads.

During a discussion on methods to frustrate computer users who illegally exchange music and movie files over the Internet, Hatch asked technology executives about ways to damage computers involved in such file trading. Legal experts have said any such attack would violate federal anti-hacking laws.

''No one is interested in destroying anyone's computer,'' replied Randy Saaf of MediaDefender Inc., a secretive Los Angeles company that builds technology to disrupt music downloads. One technique deliberately downloads pirated material very slowly so other users can't.

''I'm interested,'' Hatch interrupted. He said damaging someone's computer ''may be the only way you can teach somebody about copyrights.''

That Orrin is such a card. His interest goes beyond law and order concerns. Something I didn't know - Hatch has legitimate concerns as an "artist" himself. AP explains.

"Because they can"

Tom Raum of the AP writes:

The White House rejected a suggestion by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle on Wednesday that Bush meet with Democrats before filling any Supreme Court vacancies to avoid a potentially bruising confirmation fight.
"Unless and until there is a vacancy, this is idle chit chat," said Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer.

The Supreme Court anticipates the election returns....

Dean Broder bites dog


[Grover Norquist said that Bush]-- unlike Ronald Reagan and the elder George Bush -- can operate with confidence that Republican control of Washington will provide him eight years to pursue his economic agenda.

"This," Norquist explained, "is because the 2002 redistricting gave Republicans a lock on the House of Representatives until 2012 and the Founding Fathers gerrymandered the Senate for Republican control. In the 50-50 election that was 2000, Bush carried 30 states and Al Gore 20. Over time, a reasonably competent Republican Party will tend to [elect] 60 Republicans in the Senate. This guarantee of united Republican government has allowed the Bush administration to work and think long-term."

The goal is a system of government wiped clean, on both the revenue and spending side, of almost a century's accumulation of social programs designed to provide a safety net beneath the private economy.

And the White House reaction? "They didn't ask me to do it, but they certainly didn't complain about what I did. I have exchanged several e-mails with Karl Rove since then, and it's never come up," he said.

Student loans? "Wiped clean." Unemployment insurance? "Wiped clean"? School lunch for your kids? "Wiped clean." National parks? "Wiped clean." Your Mom's Medicare? "Wiped clean." Your Dad's Medicaid? "Wiped clean." And so on. Well, it is certainly "bold" and "audacious."

Forget the Prescription Drug farce now underway. (And why are we not talking about universal health insurance?) Since the tax cuts have gutted the ability to pay for the program long term, it's just a cynical ploy for 2004. It too will be "wiped clean" when the time comes -- especially if it does anything like lowering prices instead of being in essence a transfer payment to Big Pharma.

Meanwhile, Osama's at large, Saddam's at large, Afghanistan is going down the tubes, Iraq is looking like a long hot summer (and fall, and ...) ... Have these guys really done anything besides pack the courts and wreck and loot the rest of the government as fast as they can?

Oops, I'm getting shrill.... Au revoir....

Inclement Clemency

From an amazing article in The Atlantic online:

As the legal counsel to Texas Governor George W. Bush, Alberto R. Gonzales—now the White House counsel, and widely regarded as a likely future Supreme Court nominee—prepared fifty-seven confidential death-penalty memoranda for Bush's review. Never before discussed publicly, the memoranda suggest that Gonzales repeatedly failed to apprise Bush of some of the most salient issues in the cases at hand

Chris Matthews thinks he's playing "Hardball?"

Here's how Alan Berlow, a freelance journalist who writes frequently about criminal-justice issues plays it:

On the morning of May 6, 1997, Governor George W. Bush signed his name to a confidential three-page memorandum from his legal counsel, Alberto R. Gonzales, and placed a bold black check mark next to a single word: DENY. It was the twenty-ninth time a death-row inmate's plea for clemency had been denied in the twenty-eight months since Bush had been sworn in. In this case Bush's signature led, shortly after 6:00 P.M. on the very same day, to the execution of Terry Washington, a mentally retarded thirty-three-year-old man with the communication skills of a seven-year-old.

Washington's death was barely noted by the media, and the governor's office issued no statement about it. But the execution and the three-page memo that sealed Washington's fate—along with dozens of similar memoranda prepared for Bush—speak volumes about the way the clemency process was approached both by Bush and by Gonzales, the man most often mentioned as the President's choice for the next available seat on the Supreme Court.

During Bush's six years as governor 150 men and two women were executed in Texas—a record unmatched by any other governor in modern American history. Each time a person was sentenced to death, Bush received from his legal counsel a document summarizing the facts of the case, usually on the morning of the day scheduled for the execution, and was then briefed on those facts by his counsel; based on this information Bush allowed the execution to proceed in all cases but one. The first fifty-seven of these summaries were prepared by Gonzales, a Harvard-educated lawyer who went on to become the Texas secretary of state and a justice on the Texas supreme court. He is now the White House counsel.

Gonzales never intended his summaries to be made public. Almost all are marked CONFIDENTIAL and state, "The privileges claimed include, but are not limited to, claims of Attorney-Client Privilege, Attorney Work-Product Privilege, and the Internal Memorandum exception to the Texas Public Information Act." I obtained the summaries and related documents, which have never been published, after the Texas attorney general ruled that they were not exempt from the disclosure requirements of the Public Information Act.

Gonzales's summaries were Bush's primary source of information in deciding whether someone would live or die. Each is only three to seven pages long and generally consists of little more than a brief description of the crime, a paragraph or two on the defendant's personal background, and a condensed legal history. Although the summaries rarely make a recommendation for or against execution, many have a clear prosecutorial bias, and all seem to assume that if an appeals court rejected one or another of a defendant's claims, there is no conceivable rationale for the governor to revisit that claim. This assumption ignores one of the most basic reasons for clemency: the fact that the justice system makes mistakes.

A close examination of the Gonzales memoranda suggests that Governor Bush frequently approved executions based on only the most cursory briefings on the issues in dispute. In fact, in these documents Gonzales repeatedly failed to apprise the governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence.

The rest of the article provides that "close examination."

I'm betting you won't be hearing anything about this on Matthew's "Hardball."

If nothing else this material is going to put a crimp or two in a Gonzales' Supreme Court nomination.

You can email the link on the Atlantic website. Maybe we should send it to Democrats on the Judiciary Committee?

Lelyveld Again

It´s really wonderful that the former and new chief at the New York Times still appears to have no concern for facts.

When I read this exchange between him and Sid in the NYRB one thing came to my mind - that it reads as if it were written by Jeff Gerth. The writing style is quite different from Lelyveld´s previous forays into the Clinton Wars. Gene Lyons seems to wonder the same thing.

The corrected date was July 16, 1995. Headlined "Documents Show Clintons Got Vast Benefit From Partner," the article soft-pedaled the Resolution Trust Corp. ’s findings that the Clintons had told the truth about Whitewater. Confusing a corporation with a partnership, it suggested they ought to have lost more than the $43,192 they did lose. No hint of how poor Jim McDougal, mentally ill and hurtling toward bankruptcy, mismanaged the company for his own purposes and deceived them about it. What the Timesnever did report, Blumenthal notes, was prosecutor Ray Jahn’s closing argument at McDougal’s trial saying essentially the same thing.

As to Schaffer, Lelyveld dismisses her as an inconsequential figure, then launches a shameful attack upon her motives and actions. It’s tempting to wonder whether Gerth wrote it. Lelyveld asserts that she represented Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan Association as a private attorney before becoming a state regulator. That’s false. She informed Gerth in writing that the S&L was never her client and that she’d never met McDougal. (Schaffer’s memos are reprinted in my 1996 book, "Fools for Scandal. ")

So why didn’t the Times ever report Schaffer’s 1987 effort to persuade federal regulators to close Madison’s doors? Because, Lelyveld writes, she’d done nothing until after the feds kicked McDougal out on July 11, 1986:" From 1984 to 1986, Ms. Schaffer had the power to suspend McDougal herself and didn’t use it while Madison Guaranty flirted with insolvency. "

This is doubly false. Schaffer took office in 1985, months after federal and state regulators settled a disputed 1984 audit with Madison. After the next audit in 1986, her office helped give Mc-Dougal the heave-ho.

" At the [July 11, 1986] meeting, "she wrote Gerth," we jointly confronted the Board with the findings of self-dealing and insider abuse.... It was a long and confrontational meeting. The Madison Guaranty Board members appeared stunned. "

I confirmed Schaffer’s account with Federal Home Loan Bank Board officials quoted in" Fools for Scandal. "Oddly, the Times apparently never did. Almost everything Lelyveld writes partakes of similar question-begging. Did Schaffer, for example, approve" two novel proposals to help the savings and loan that were offered by Hillary Clinton"? His argument rests upon an ironically Clintonian ambiguity about the meaning of "approve." Schaffer confronted Madison with a regulatory Catch-22. She agreed it would be legal for the S&L to sell preferred stock, but mandated duediligence requirements that it could not meet; hence, Mrs. Clinton’s "novel" ideas, suggested by federal regulators to begin with, died aborning. "If anything," the Pillsbury Report concluded, "Arkansas regulators took a more aggressive position toward Madison Guaranty than did the [Federal Home Loan Bank Board]." Instead of launching scorched-earth attacks on the Times ’ critics, Lelyveld, recently reappointed to edit the nation’s most indispensable newspaper, needs to put his own house in order.

But, these are the Clinton rules of journalism.

As Molly Ivins says:

The Clinton wars reflect no credit on anyone, but I still think it was journalism, or what passes for journalism these days, that most disgraced itself. We should all be required to read this book.

This Just In: Richard Cohen bites dog

Supposedly liberal columnist, Richard Cohen, reporting from Italy in yesterday's Wa Po, does a first-rate rant , using John Bolton's performance at the annual meeting of the Council for the United States and Italy, about the unilateral, might-makes-right, arrogance of this administrations appraoch to the rest of the world.

If Cohen can be this good, why is he so often this bad?

Let's just hope he doesn't feel the need to make future amends in a column about why the Clinton's failure to divorce is a challenge to our most fundamental family values and the reason, quite likely, that Democrats are on their way to becoming permanently estranged from mainstream Americans.

A lie is still a Lie

Some choice quotes courtesy of Common Dreams:

Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Illinois),

“There is a visibility factor in the president's public acts, and those which betray a trust or reveal contempt for the law are hard to sweep under the rug...They reverberate, they ricochet all over the land and provide the worst possible example for our young people.”

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin)

“The truth is still the truth, and a lie is still a lie, and the rule of law should apply to everyone, no matter what excuses are made by the president's defenders…We have done so because of our devotion to the rule of law and our fear that if the president does not suffer the legal and constitutional consequences of his actions, the impact of allowing the president to stand above the law will be felt for generations to come…laws not enforced are open invitations for more serious and more criminal behavior.”

Steve Chabot (R-Ohio)

“It would be wrong for you to tell America's children that some lies are all right. It would be wrong to show the rest of the world that some of our laws don't really matter.”

Steve Buyer (R- Indiana)

“I have also heard some senators from both sides of the aisle state publicly: I think these offenses rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors. Now, to state publicly that you believe that high crimes and misdemeanors have occurred but for some reason you have this desire not to remove the president -- that desire, though, does not square with the law, the Constitution, and the Senate's precedents for removing federal judges for similar offenses.”

Rep. Lindsey Graham (R - South Carolina, Now Senator)

“The president of the United States sets atop of the legal pyramid. If there's reasonable doubt about his ability to faithfully execute the laws of the land, our future would be better off if that individual is removed. And let me tell you where it all comes down to me. If you can go back and explain to your children and your constituents how you can be truthful and misleading at the same time, good luck.”

Jackbooted Bureaucrats! Or not...

Nick Barlow and Hurry up Harry are on the latest bit of ignorance floating around the right wing of the blogosphere.

Why It Was Idiotic To Worry About Lost Antiquities

Andrew Sullivan explains here. (If you don't have Salon premium, Andy usually posts some form of his column on his own blog, though if you think about it, I'm sure you can come up with an approximation of what he has to say about whom.

Teresa Nielson Hayden explains here who the real idiot is and why.

Don't miss it; a wonderful roundup of what's known, the source of the confusion, and a deeply satisfying, elegantly administered comeuppance for Mr. Sullivan.

(link via Sisyphus Shrugged)

Buh Bye

Judge Resigns. Good.

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- A judge who admitted asking an Arab-American woman if she was a terrorist when she went to court last month to fight a parking ticket has stepped down.

Village Justice William Crosbie, 79, resigned in a letter Monday to the mayor. The incident led the woman to file a complaint with the state Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Anissa Khoder, a Lebanese who has lived in the United States 14 years, said she went to court because she received two tickets within an hour for the same parking violation and believed only one was valid.

Khoder, 46, said Crosbie asked if she was a terrorist, then said "something like, 'You have money to support the terrorists, but you don't want to pay the ticket.'"

Geeks Rejoice!

You can now pre-order Neal Stephenson´s next book.

(via Calpundit)

Honor Thy Father

Ari not popular at home:

"If they wanted to eat, they had to be Democrats," joked Alan Fleischer, a retired executive search recruiter. "I guess if Ari had to rebel, being a Republican is better than being on drugs, but not by much."

Public Financing For Me And Not For Thee

Bush doesn´t check off the $3 box on his taxes:
Q And also in the last, 2000 and coming up, the President will accept federal funds in the general election.


Q Is there any dash of hypocrisy in that he doesn't contribute to that fund when he files his tax returns?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, interestingly, we talked before about taxpayer-financed elections, and while for the congressional races, Senate races and House races, and for overwhelming majority of the funds that go to presidential races is voluntary, there is that check on the tax reforms. And the best I remember this from IRS data is something like only 12 percent, or down to 8 percent of the American people check that box. So I think the President is in pretty good company with a number of American people who do not check that box.

(sent in by rw)

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Fuel Your Outrage

If any of you missed the June 4th appearance of those Republican FCC Commissioners in front of the Senate Commerce Committee, you missed The Honorable Kathleen Q. Abernathy being taken to the wood shed by Senator Boxer for the differentiation Commissioner Abernathy made between her side vs. their questioners:

The Three Republican Commissioners had made a, well, a fair and balanced decision, based on the facts.

Their critics had given way to "irrational fears" of what might happen in the future.

Well, the future is already here.

News Corp.'S DirecTV Bid Faces More Foes

On Monday, the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), a public advocacy group, filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Justice (news - web sites), the Federal Communications Commission (news - web sites) (FCC (news - web sites)) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (news - web sites) asking the government to block the merger.


News Corp., which owns the Fox broadcast network, announced in April it would buy a controlling stake in DirecTV's parent company, Hughes Electronics, for $6.6 billion in cash and stock from automaker General Motors. The deal is expected to close by early next year at the latest.

The CDD argued that the merger should be blocked because it will give News Corp. "unparalleled power" over broadcast and cable programming and distribution.....

"The amount of power amassed by News Corp./Fox -- creating a veritable 'Citizen Murdoch' of the 21st century -- is a warning of what lies ahead in the media marketplace," CDD executive director Jeff Chester said. "The new FCC ruling already increases the ability of News Corp. to expand its media empire on several fronts, and allowing it to control the principal broadcast-satellite service in the country is clearly contrary to the public interest."

And then there's this:

CBS News Defends Its Multi-Pronged Pitch to Lynch

Viacom-owned CBS News said it did nothing wrong when it held out the possibility of TV movie, concert special and book deals with other Viacom divisions in its pitch to land an interview with Pfc. Jessica Lynch.

The news operation insists it made very clear in its letters to the former prisoner of war in Iraq that "we never tie interview requests to entertainment projects."

Go read the "And yet..."

Think writing letters is like a message in a bottle cast into the sea? Check this out.

Okay, you've guessed where I'm going here. Yes, it's nudge time.


The actual legislation that will be voted on in committee on JUNE 19TH is S.1046, and according to Common Cause... would overturn some of the most egregious parts of the FCC rule change. This bipartisan bill would keep a single company from owning broadcast outlets that reach more than 35% of American households (as opposed to
45% post-rule-change). A crucial amendment sponsored by Senators Dorgan and Snowe would keep newspapers and TV stations from merging.

CauseNet at Common Cause is providing two easy ways for you to get your support for the bill and your opposition to the Honorable Commissioner Abernathy and her honorable cohorts registered where it'll count:

If you live in any of the states represented on the committee - Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas,
Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, or West Virginia -
Click Here, and then follow the instructions.

For everyone else: Click Here to find out what to do.

In addition, here is the link for the Communications subcommitte of the Commerce Committee. It has a web based email form as well as links to all the members.

A good idea I received from reader, Hobson:

Contact the Chairman of the full committee, Senator John McCain, through a call or a fax to his Washington office, or an email, to the Commerce Committee or both, directed to him personally, with a pithy message that reminds him of his oft repeated concerns re the role of money in our elections, and as he did on that issue, ask him on this very similar issue, to put the common good of the country above partisan advantage. And don't forget to thank him for doing so.

Former special assistant on terror: aWol is aWol (as usual)

No surprise to readers here, of course. Go read.

Beers quit his job as special assistaWol aWol on ant to the president for combating terrorism eight weeks ago. On Monday, in a provocative interview with the Post, the veteran Washington bureaucrat – who served on the National Security Council under four presidents – lashed out at the administration's handling of the war on terrorism and homeland security.

Beers charged the administration "wasn't matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism. They're making us less secure, not more secure. … The longer I sat and watched, the more concerned I became, until I got up and walked out."

aWol's words don't match his deeds? Who knew?

(This is the source Krugman mentions below).

Only thirty seconds to post this, but I can't find the interview at WaPo or at Google news. Perhaps an alert reader could post? Au revoir...


I used to like him when he wrote about economics, but now I think he's gotten too shrill, heh heh heh heh ...

Last Thursday a House subcommittee met to finalize next year's homeland security appropriation. The ranking Democrat announced that he would introduce an amendment adding roughly $1 billion for areas like port security and border security that, according to just about every expert, have been severely neglected since Sept. 11. He proposed to pay for the additions by slightly scaling back tax cuts for people making more than $1 million per year.

The subcommittee's chairman promptly closed the meeting to the public, citing national security — though no classified material was under discussion. And the bill that emerged from the closed meeting did not contain the extra funding.

It was a perfect symbol of the reality of the Bush administration's "war on terror." Behind the rhetoric — and behind the veil of secrecy, invoked in the name of national security but actually used to prevent public scrutiny — lies a pattern of neglect, of refusal to take crucial actions to protect us from terrorists. Actual counterterrorism, it seems, doesn't fit the administration's agenda.

Yesterday The Washington Post printed an interview with Rand Beers, a top White House counterterrorism adviser who resigned in March. "They're making us less secure, not more secure," he said of the Bush administration. "As an insider, I saw the things that weren't being done." Among the problem areas he cited were homeland security, where he says the administration has "only a rhetorical policy"; failure to press Saudi Arabia (the home of most of the Sept. 11 terrorists) to take action; and, of course, the way we allowed Afghanistan to relapse into chaos.

Why on earth would anyone trust aWol to keep the country safe?

United States of Magoo

Bob Somerby takes on David Bossie on Hillary Clinton's "dishonesty." Only in contemporary America would a discredited smear artist like Bossie get to sit in judgment on the person he grew wealthy defaming.

Today's Howler may seem scattershot--slander journalism, the Davis recall, the Texas redistricting scandal, the Clinton impeachment--but it's really all about "defining political deviancy down" (Josh Marshall's phrase, I believe).

A free society depends on reciprocal altruism, the tacit agreement that we not do to others what we expect others to refrain from doing to us, even if we can. The last 20 years or so have seen a steady attack on that principle, as Republicans and their toadies in the press have taken advantage of every lever of power, not to govern and strengthen the political fabric, but to destroy their political opponents and rip that fabric asunder. Now, when one side regards bipartisanship as "date rape", the very idea of democratic governance is in jeopardy. How we mend that damage is, I think, going to be the major task of the post-Bush era.

Touch Screen Voting on Maria Heller

Denis and Roxanne will be discussing touch screen voting issues on the Maria Heller show today at 1pm EST. You can tune in here.

Just What This Country Needs

Another Republican who can´t keep his zipper zipped:

Are recently divorced House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Philip Morris lobbyist Abigail Perlman headed for the altar? Word around town is that the two lovebirds -- whose romance has been raising eyebrows and giving fits to self-appointed ethics cops -- are planning to announce their engagement soon. Perlman didn't return our phone calls and Philip Morris spokesman Dave Tovar dismissed concerns that the relationship might bend House rules governing personal transactions between members of Congress and lobbyists with legislative business before Congress. "We have a very strict compliance and integrity program. As far as our lobbying is concerned, we are confident that we are in full compliance of all legal and ethical obligations," Tovar said. Meanwhile, Blunt's press secretary, Burson Taylor, told us: "I have a policy of never commenting on Congressman Blunt's personal life."

Email Howard Kurtz at and ask him why the extra-marital affairs of Republicans don´t ever seem to concern him.

Bad Doggie

Another Philly blogger is looking for the person whose dog attacked their pooch. If you´re a local and you might have any info please forward it along.

Neal Pollack International

So, I picked up my copy of the local newspaper this weekend and who do I find staring back at me? The most beautiful Neal Pollack. Apparently, some wise individuals have translated the second best book ever written into Spanish - available at all better Bodegas near you.

Advise and Consent

You can judge a man by the company he keeps, says Dear Leader. Well, you can also judge a man by the judges he nominates. The vast majority of right wing bloggers are of the libertarian-conservative bent, not of the Christian Conservative Bent. I don´t understand why they sit idly by while little boots nominates these theocrats:

Pryor has defended the rights of high school athletes to pray "spontaneously." He believes that "we derive our rights from God and not from government" and that "God has chosen, through his son Jesus Christ, this time and this place for all save our country and save our courts."

Kudos for once to the Log Cabin Republicans who have decided not to support this particular nominee.

Quote of the Day

From Big Media Matt:

Removing Saddam has not proven to be a magic bullet to solve all our problems, so they've just stopped talking about our problems. Instead, one hears mockery of leftists, mockery of the French, mockery of the UN, mockery of The New York Times, and lauding of Iranian dissidents. I'm all for the lauding, but if the current conservative strategy is to fight and win the war on liberals/France/the UN/Howell Raines while hoping that Iranian college students win the war on terror for us, then we've got a serious problem on our hands.

Cornerstone of Shamelessness

Reader jm writes in:

Little wonder the Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Corp. is pushing to lay the cornerstone during the Republican Convention. The Chairman of the LMRC (quoted in the NYTimes article) is John C. Whitehead, a Republican and former deputy secretary of state under Reagan, who has been a heavy political contributor in the past .

Even better, Roland Betts is another member of the LMRC board. From his bio: "For nine years, Mr. Betts was lead owner of the Texas Rangers Baseball Club. The Texas Rangers were purchased in 1989 by a group of investors assembled by Mr. Betts and President George W. Bush."


The Party Party

Neal Pollack has an excellent article in Alternet about the neo-prohibitionists. Currently stationed in an undisclosed location where 8 bucks buys you a three course lunch complete with half bottle of wine (gracias Francisco Franco, who is still dead!) and where nightclubs don´t seem to open their doors until after 11, I have no idea what he´s talking about.

But, this is a serious issue. For shame Joe Biden (D-Useless Idiot).

Talk Left has some additional articles about this issue.

Don´t forget to pre-order the greatest book ever written!

Savage Confusion

A former schoolmate of the Savage Weiner remembers the good old days in the locker room.

Sanchez Update

Police have arrested two brothers of Vietnamese decent. Sanchez´s office had apparently been involved with dealing with the family somehow, which increases the likelihood that a) she was the target and b) it was more personal than explicitly political.

Sailing Off Into A Bygone Tomarrow Tomorrow

Once upon a time, in a not so very far away land.......America was the most wonderful place on the face of the earth to live in the whole wide world. Mommies and daddies and sisters and brothers were strong of character and whip snapper clean behind the ears. Athletic, every last one, and sound of mind and spirit and chock full-o cringing wholesome respect for the machinations of the Divine sway. Back when terror was on our side. Father knew best, and father brought home the bacon. Enough bacon to give each member of a white Christian non-communist family of four six heart attacks, collectively, by the age of seventy. Submissive dutiful wives who adhored their husbands and asked little in return but time for tending to the needs of attentive obedient children, and of the home, could be relied upon to fulfill their tasks while still having plenty of time to make themselves charming and pretty for evening's heroic return of Dad, and the humble presentation of the sacrificial bacon. Housekeeping responsibilities such as the ritual preparation of the sacrificial bacon and commiting laundry and ironing socks and sewing jumpers for Sally and Sue and changing the diapers on baby Stu and flower gardening and frilly curtain arranging and all that other girly stuff was performed by mom with a fresh Pepsodent smile and snappy General Electric Theater jingle in her heart. And each of our names began with an 's', because it kept things simple, which also begins with an 's' - thats how simple it was, a long long time ago.

But NONE of that kind of thing ever happens today. No. Never. None of it, and nothing like it. GE Theater is gone too. Its now been twisted into a freakish fishhook of liberalism called MSNBC. At least thats pretty much what William Lind, the Captain Ahab of the cultural conservative armada told me recently.

And thats too bad too. I can still remember those days as if they were yesterday - or maybe the day before yesterday. In any case, on Sunday mom would present hereself in white glove and modest black dress and be off to service to pray for all our happy endings while Dad would regale us with harrowing tales of lawn maintainence battles fought long ago on far away lawns and remind us how we would one day fight those same battles ourselves, and for naught, should we allow ourselves to wander astray of William F. Buckley or Montgomery Ward. Thems was the days, and I can still remember them right now, clear as a ding-dong from a distant doorbell. Yup, sure enough. I remember the drive-in movie. I did the twist when the twist was cool. I can remember exactly where I was when I heard the news that John F. Kennedy was shot stone cold dead in Dallas. I remember the egg man. I was there when Lassie came bounding out the back screen door in joyous loyal service to master Timmy. I always liked Timmy and Lassie and of course I always wanted to share an intimate knowing moment with June Lockhart. For all the right reasons of course. Back in them days such urges were quaint and honorable and free of the taint of lustful sweaty genital grinding passion and grunting carnal perversions that prowl the dampened forecastles of todays postmodernist-multiculturalism obsessed cultural conservative imagination. Back in the day, as they say, we were all angels, innocents, whispers on summer breeze, one flower's petals turning in a splendid equipoise, we were all the June Taylor Dancers, beautiful were we, pirouetting upon the crown of a blessed golden pin. Once upon a time, in a land, not so very far away.

Oh sure.

But don't try to "oh sure" William Lind. Although he has informed me that he is thinking of giving up whaling altogether. Thats right. No more chasing the great leviathan of pluralistic multicultural politically correct liberalism around the high political seas with a rusty harpoon any more. Aye. Too much fish for one old piscator I guess. Hard to imagine as it is.

Come with me now salty dogs of the eschaton, I'd like you to listen to the captain, William Lind, flagship commander of the Center for Cultural Conservatism. He's chartered a new course for the promised land. The course for the discovery of lost western civilization can be found right in his ships manifest. Or rather, manifesto. Really. Should any of you care to book passage. Here ya go, from the charter docks at the Free Congress Foundation, the Declaration of Cultural Independence.

See. Maybe they'll just float away like driftwood. Oh sure.

Alas, skipper Lind has nevertheless recharted and redefined the cultural conservative voyage. It has become an exodus if you will. Off to old distant past ports of call. He's scraped away the shipworms and christened his new galleon The Spring of Marah and she will ride high on the billows and hold fast to the hidden currents of ebb-time as she roars away from the shoals of Baal. He and his mates will seek out the City of the Immortals (which is no fun from what I've read) and cleanse themselves of cultural death in the cold spring fed waters of the river Sempiternal. This will be Captain Lind's errand in a watery wilderness. His retreat forward. His odyssey - backforward, where once upon a time, in a land not so far away, thee chosen were dominion. He will guide the pilgrims into bygone harbors, an heroic Ulysses aborad a ship of fools, bound for an oblivion, where only the right kind of castaways will be set ashore.

Or at least thats the plan. Should enough coxswains and boatswains and other kinds of swains be convinced to scuttle aboard for some galley duty and spinnaker yanking and other general culture warrior ship rigging chores. Perhaps there will be onboard gambling and Bill Bennet will come along. That outta bring the faithful scurring up the gunwales.

So hoist the mainsails and anchors away! Cast off ye Cap'n and crew! Beware the songs of sirens and the giant squid that guards the edge of the earth! May the wind be in your sails and your masts be strong and straight and your crows nest filled with crow eggs. Or whatever the hell it is they say.

In any case, Bye! Bon voyage! Have a nice lifestyle! Drop a message into a bottle sometime if you feel like it. Yup. I'll be dockside waving a tearful hanky in farewell. Sure I will. And then I'll be off to the nearest quay for some clear sailing of my own and some wild shindy dancing with June Lockhart.



Monday, June 16, 2003

At The Risk Of Becoming A Nag

I meant to mention this wonderful reminder from David Erhenstein in one of the Comment threads:

We all loved Gregory Peck, right? We all know that he was a committed liberal, activist, Democrat, right?

But did you know that Gregory Peck was among the leaders of the successful grassroots campaign to stop Robert Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court. In fact, he lent his persona and voice to a controversial anti-Bork TV ad that was denouced by everyone from Michael Kinsley to the entire first Bush administration and the entire Republican Congressional and Senatorial caucus.

The only thing scandalous about the ad was that it was so successful.

Thanks for the reminder, David.

Go, call, email, fax.

Do it for Greg.

That "To Do" List For Liberals

Reminder: Gotta stop that Pryor nonmination.

Pryor's received praise for his candor at his hearing. Would that he'd been more embarrassed about beliefs that are so retrograde.

Here's Sam Heldman on the hearing.

Here's Geralyn at TalkLeft on Sen. Leahy's perfectly reasonable suggestion on how the administration can avoid the injudicial judicial trainwreck it's headed for.

Lisa English at Ruminate This, centcom for this and so many other battles, has everything for you here and here

And Julia at Sisyphus Shrugged has the perfect name for this particular campaign. No hyperlink, so scroll down; you'll know when you get to it.

Gotta go now, and put my outrage to use.

Another Day, Another Nudge


The 19th is Thursday. Senate Communications Committee could decide that day to reverse that FCC ruling.

UNPRECEDENTED PUBLIC OUTCRY is the only reason they're thinking about it. Michael Powell and his two Republican cohorts didn't care

If you enjoy tortuing Wolf, you can get three times the pleasure: Only MORE PUBLIC OUTRAGE will get that reversal. Click here for everything you'll need.


I saw this wonderful term in the comments over at Making Light, referring to the journalists and pundits who provide the talking points for the wonderful folks over at the Free Republic. I´m not referring to the newsmax folks, but the respectable media folk who inspire them.

So, who are the top 5 Freeperati?

The Devo Retro Revival is Dead

Torie Clarke resigns before she could use her powers to influence the world of fashion.

Pipe Bomb Explodes Outside Sanchez´s Office

Nothing to see here folks:

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- The FBI and Santa Ana police are investigating the explosion of a pipe bomb outside the campaign office of Rep. Loretta Sanchez that left a 35-year-old man with burns over half his body.

The PVC pipe bomb exploded Sunday inside a 1990 Toyota Cressida near a Santa Ana strip mall, badly injuring the man inside.

Investigators said the bomb was not directed at Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, or anyone in her office, which was closed when the bomb went off at 2:25 p.m. Sunday outside the strip mall.

No other injuries were reported.

Raul Luna, a spokesman for Sanchez, told the Los Angeles Times that the congresswoman had been in Orange County for the weekend and had left for Washington, D.C. Sunday afternoon, as part of her regular schedule. He said her staff had briefed her on the bombing.

Police had not received threatening calls regarding the explosion, and were waiting for the injured man to recover so they can question him, said Sgt. Baltazar De La Riva.

"I must make it clear. We have no independent information that leads us to believe he was targeting anyone in this complex," said De La Riva. "That's part of the investigation."
FBI spokesman Matt McLaughlin said there is no indication of any "terrorist link."

Well, there´s nothing to indicate he was targeting her office except for the fact that it, uhhh, blew up right outside her office.

And would someone please decide what is or isn´t "terrorism," other than the obvious indicator of whether the person appears to be a Muslim or not.


Modest Goals

Let´s see 50 single donations and 30 recurring donations byone week from today. If we get up to $10K I get to give Terry Mac an earful.

One Dollar One Vote

Walter Williams suggests a wee modification to our current form of democracy.

Maybe the Army's A Liberal Institution

Wesley Clark soloed on Meet The Press, yesterday. quite impressively. Tim? Tim was, well, Tim:

MR. RUSSERT: Tom DeLay, the Republican leader in the House, has been very critical of you and others, and this is the way he put it in his words: “Blow-dried Napoleons that come on television and in some cases have their own agendas. ...General Clark is one of them that is running for president.”
GEN. CLARK: Well, it’s a funny thing. You know, I mean, one of the greatest charges you can make against someone is, “Don’t listen to him because he has presidential aspirations.”

Good answer, don't you think?

Though a registered Democrat in Arkansas, the General was curiously hesitant to declare a party affliation, if he were to run. Less coyness, I think, than not letting himself get cornered by Russert. Clark did mention that he'd had discussions with both Republicans and Democrats. This answer to Russert's question about Clark's view of Bush's economic policy of all tax cuts all the time would seem to preclude a run for anything as a Republican, at least as the party is currently constituted:

MR. RUSSERT: What do you think of the Bush tax cuts? Would you have voted for them?
GEN. CLARK: Well, I would not have supported them, no.
MR. RUSSERT: Why not?
GEN. CLARK: Well, first of all, they were not efficient in terms of stimulating the kind of demand we need to move the economy back into a recovery mode, a strong recovery and a recovery that provides jobs. There are more effective ways of using the resources. Secondly, the tax cuts weren’t fair. I mean, the people that need the money and deserve the money are the people who are paying less, not the people who are paying more. I thought this country was founded on a principle of progressive taxation. In other words, it’s not only that the more you make, the more you give, but proportionately more because when you don’t have very much money, you need to spend it on the necessities of life. When you have more money, you have room for the luxuries and you should—one of the luxuries and one of the privileges we enjoy is living in this great country.

Pretty straight-forward endorsement of progressive taxation.

Clark was especially good on security and foreign policy issues; plan to do a separate post on that.

MR. RUSSERT: You and other former generals filed an amicus brief in support of the University of Michigan’s affirmative action plan.
GEN. CLARK: Right.
MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you in part what the University of Michigan plan is. They award points to an applicant. If you get a 3.0-grade-point average you get 60 points. If have alumni or legacy parents, 4 points. A perfect S.A.T., 12 points. Athlete, 20 points. If you’re a minority, just for being black or Hispanic, you get 20 points. Many people say that’s not color blind. That is reverse discrimination. What’s your response?
GEN. CLARK: Well, I’m in favor of the principle of affirmative action. Whether that’s the right plan or not, and whether that should be 10 points, not 20 points, whether it should be, let’s say, an income level cutoff there at which you don’t get the points if you’re above a certain income, you can tool with the plan. But what you can’t have is you can’t have a society in which we’re not acknowledging that there is a problem in this society with racial discrimination. There is, there has been and the reason so many of us filed this brief is we saw the benefits of affirmative action in the United States armed forces. It was essential in restoring the integrity and the effectiveness of the armed forces.

Here's General Clark's answer to the question of whether he's in favor of that graceless "don't ask, don't tell" policy that Colin Powell, let us not forget, came up with to allow straights in the military to pretend they don't know that there are also gays in the military:

GEN. CLARK: I’m not sure that I’d be in favor of that policy. I supported that policy. That was a policy that was given. I don’t think it works. It works better in some circumstances than it does in others. But essentially we’ve got a lot of gay people in the armed forces, always have had, always will have. And I think that, you know, we should welcome people that want to serve...

Doesn't sound like a Republican to me.

Media Failure

It´s polls like these which should make our guardians of the truth hang their heads in shame:

WASHINGTON - A third of the American public believes U.S. forces found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, according to a recent poll, and 22 percent said Iraq actually used chemical or biological weapons.

But no such weapons have been found, nor is there evidence they were used recently in Iraq.

Before the war, half of those polled in a survey said Iraqis were among the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001. But most of them were from Saudi Arabia. None were Iraqis.

How could so many people be so wrong about information that has dominated the news for nearly two years?


Given the intensive news coverage and high levels of public attention," he said, "this level of misinformation suggests some Americans may be avoiding having an experience of cognitive dissonance."

That is, having their beliefs conflict with the facts.

Kull said the poll's data showed the mistaken belief that weapons of mass destruction were found "is substantially greater among those who favored the war."

Unless this is how they define success...

Travel Journal

No, don´t worry, I won´t bore you all with tales from my undisclosed location. I have to admit, though, that after spending a bit of time in Old Yurp, I´m more confused than ever by the harsh antipathy directed at it by most right wing bloggers. Now, I´m not referring to their hysterical responses to genuine political differences but rather the picture they seem to paint of Yurp as one notch above Cuba in its livability.

I´m no Europhile - it´s fair to say I choose to live in the US for a variety of reasons over and above the simple fact that it is where I grew up. But, it´s hard for me to understand how anyone who has spent a decent amount of time in one of the better European cities to not come away with a sense that they´re doing something right and we´re doing something wrong. The reverse is true on other issues, of course, but the point is that to some degree it´s simply a matter of preference. In many ways, it´s hard to beat the urban Yurpean lifestyle.

For all our yammering on about "freedom," it´s difficult to argue that day to day personal freedom is somehow more pronounced in the U.S.

Ashcroft Not Doing So Well

In his attempts to kill more people.

Jumping Ship

The fact that a top terrorism aide has quit and said these things should be of some concern.

Look over there! Scott Peterson!

Those WMD, Could They Have Been Ate By The Dog?

So asks Wm Rivers Pitt at Truthout.Org. It's a good summary, especially so in regards to chemical and biological weapons.
Pitt notices, too, that the administration seems to be pointing an accusing finger at the CIA, and in particular, George Tenent.

Steve Gilliard at Daily Kos quotes Time to make the same point, and then tells us why no WMD will be found:

If there was the slightest chance that a usable WMD stockpile would be found, is there any chance Rumsfeld would let George Tenet take the credit for finding it.

There's more, just as smart.

Also check out Steve's post on what those trailers of mass destruction have turned out to be.

And finally, don't miss his post on Washington's New Radicals.

Instead of having the State Department devise policy, the President and his henchman, Donald Rumsfeld, try to create a foreign policy which is not only militarily unsustainable, but financially ruinous. As US officials quietly negotiate with the Taliban after 18 months of combat, our political plans for Iraq are meeting across the board opposition.

How did we wind up in this mess?

You'll want to read Steve's answer to that question.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Tell Us Something We Don't Know

The Hill kindly informs us that thinks tanks have displaced academia as shapers of political policy and opinion.

What on earth did they think all those culture wars were all about?

For most of the 20th century, White House political aides and high-level bureaucrats — Harvard’s Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Henry Kissinger and McGeorge Bundy — would shuffle between the Ivy League and government service.

But over time, universities became highly specialized and removed from political reality. “Academia is so far behind the times, caught up in yesterday’s issues, so self-important and unbearable,” said Siegel.

Political correctness also limited universities’ ability to influence public policy, Siegel asserted.

“If you look at Roosevelt and Kennedy, they went to the universities,” said AEI’s Michael Horowitz. “In the 1960s and ’70s, the universities started becoming more and more marginal. Nature abhors a vacuum, and along came think tanks.”

That Siegel, BTW, is Fred Siegel, a fellow at the Democratic centrist Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), just in case you hadn't yet realized how far right the center has allowed itself to be pushed.

Even as thumbnail history, this explanation is topsy turvey. The purpose of those right wing think tanks proliferating through-out the eighties was to create a vacuum they could fill, and they did so via successive, loosely coordinated attacks aimed at convincing opinion leaders that American higher education was too left, too elitist, too disrespectful of Western Civilization, too multicultural, and too politically correct.

When the final wave of the invasion hit the beaches in the early nineties, Michael Berube, then a young assistant professor, shot back in the Village Voice; it remains one of the best discussions of what was actually going on behind the war cries of "political correctness," "speech codes," "multiculturalism," and "curriculum review."

Ten years later, as Bush began his presidency, Berube took another look at what had happened in the intervening years and came to some surprising conclusions. Both articles are well worth reading. In addition, Seeing The Forest has a lot of excellent analytic and activist posts about countering the influence of rightwing think tanks.

By the time of the Clinton presidency, the banishment of academics from public discourse in the media was almost complete. Oh sure, there were a few token academics, like Presidential Historians, Douglas Brinkley and Michael Bechloss, but such exceptions quickly learned the cardinal rule if you want to be asked back: never contradict the prevailing journalistic CW.

The habit of the networks and cable news outlets to sign "consultants" to contracts has further narrowed the range of who is seen and heard on the tube.

Nowhere was the absence of academic voices more noticeable than in the public discourse around the question of whether Clinton could, would, should be impeached. The only other group similarly ignored was the American public, who, in the eyes of the media, as Joan Didion wittily noticed, were viewed as unindicted co-conspirators of the President.

I got to thinking about all this while reading the Sean Wilentz Salon article about the media reaction to Sid Blumenthal's "The Clinton Wars."

Wilentz' subtitle gets right to the heart of the matter:

Even as journalists admit "The Clinton Wars" reveals the insanity of the right-wing crusade against the president, they're dismissing the book as "history."

Journalism used to be the first draft of history, but apparently, that's all in the past.

Wilentz had testified to Congress that their efforts to impeach Clinton would be viewed with harsh disapproval from the perspective of history.

My position was fairly mainstream among American historians. By the time I testified, nearly 500 had signed a letter I helped to write with the distinguished scholars Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and C. Vann Woodward, deploring the impeachment on historical and constitutional grounds. Soon thereafter, a group of more than 400 leading legal scholars, including Cass Sunstein and Laurence Tribe, issued a similar statement.

Not surprisingly, Republicans lambasted both the historians' letter and my testimony, as did journalists and pundits playing amateur historians inside the right-wing media echo chamber. A group of 90 writers -- only three of them historians, but with a heavy contingent from the right-wing think tanks plus partisan ideologues from the Reagan and first Bush administrations, such as C. Boyden Gray -- composed a counter-statement attacking the historians. But a wide range of editorial writers and columnists in the so-called "liberal media" also denounced the historians for being "gratuitous" "condescending" and "partisan."

Who do you remember seeing more of on network and cable news, C. Boyden Gray, or Sean Wilentz, or .... fill in any centrist/liberal academic name, even Stephen Ambrose's, who was then a media darling but had been one of those historians who signed that letter?

George Will called the historians "Clinton's lackeys," and save for NPR and PBS, there was almost no genuinely informed discussion of the constitutional or historical issues at stake in the determination of the Republicans to turn Clinton into Nixon, not until Chuck Ruff, White House Consul gave his brilliant testimony to Henry Hyde's impeachment committee.

How could so many journalists engage in so many endless discussions of impeachment and never think to do any actual reporting, other than leaks that came their way about the case against Clinton?

It certainly never seemed to occur to the likes of Sam Donaldson, or Cookie Roberts, or George Stephanopolous, before their regular Sunday morning dish, to inform themselves of anything beyond their own personal opinion. What didn't jibe with the CW was simply ignored, or lied about.

The historians' verdict was clear: The impeachment drive against President Clinton lacked constitutional and political legitimacy. The journalists' opinion was equally clear: The impeachment was legitimate, and the historians were really a fusty collection of liberal elitists who had no business sticking their noses into public affairs.

What would the right do without that word, "elitists." Invent it, I suppose.

Wilentz' conclusion is half hopeful. Historians are being proven right, and even some journalists feel compelled to admit that. Sort of.

Abraham Lincoln once remarked that none of us can escape history. That includes those who conceived, aided and abetted the unconstitutional impeachment of Bill Clinton.
History will condemn the rest of us if we do not now, at last, hold them accountable for what they did.

There's been a lot of good talk on the left side of the blogisphere about how all its intelligence and energy, on daily display, can be organized into effective action to achieve multiple goals, first among them, defeating Bush in 2004.

I'd like to propose that we add to that agenda, figuring out how to use the advantage the right keeps telling us we have in academic institutions to get a few or our own echos going in that media echo chamber. If that means expanding our ideas about what media is, and if it means getting our own speaker's bureau going, or pestering editors for space on the op/ed pages, or organizing forums that will at least get shown on C-Span, or getting campus teach-ins going on matters like tax policy, or handing out opeds at the local mall, whatever it takes...all thoughts, suggestions, ideas, welcome.

Carolyn Kay's got it right: Make Them Accountable!

Warren Buffet on how he got so rich

A little old, but well worth repeating:

The Senate decided that the dividends an individual receives should be 50 percent free of tax in 2003, 100 percent tax-free in 2004 through 2006 and then again fully taxable in 2007. The mental flexibility the Senate demonstrated in crafting these zigzags is breathtaking. What it has put in motion, though, is clear: If enacted, these changes would further tilt the tax scales toward the rich.

Let me, as a member of that non-endangered species, give you an example of how the scales are currently balanced. The taxes I pay to the federal government, including the payroll tax that is paid for me by my employer, Berkshire Hathaway, are roughly the same proportion of my income -- about 30 percent -- as that paid by the receptionist in our office. My case is not atypical -- my earnings, like those of many rich people, are a mix of capital gains and ordinary income -- nor is it affected by tax shelters (I've never used any). As it works out, I pay a somewhat higher rate for my combination of salary, investment and capital gain income than our receptionist does. But she pays a far higher portion of her income in payroll taxes than I do.

She's not complaining: Both of us know we were lucky to be born in America. But I was luckier in that I came wired at birth with a talent for capital allocation -- a valuable ability to have had in this country during the past half-century. Credit America for most of this value, not me. [italics mine] If the receptionist and I had both been born in, say, Bangladesh, the story would have been far different. There, the market value of our respective talents would not have varied greatly.

When you listen to tax-cut rhetoric, remember that giving one class of taxpayer a "break" requires -- now or down the line -- that an equivalent burden be imposed on other parties. In other words, if I get a break, someone else pays. Government can't deliver a free lunch to the country as a whole. It can, however, determine who pays for lunch. And last week the Senate handed the bill to the wrong party.

Supporters of making dividends tax-free like to paint critics as promoters of class warfare. The fact is, however, that their proposal promotes class welfare. For my class.

Sure, Warren Buffet works very, very hard, is very, very smart, and is very, very rich. But "credit America for most of the result." Sounds like "promote the general welfare" is OK with him.

Bill Gate's dad takes a similar line on eliminating the inheritance tax. But do the Dems leverage this, in their ads or their talking points? Oh, no....