Saturday, October 29, 2005

Open Thread

Threads speak much louder than words.

Open Thread

Always on the thread of what could be the greatest moment in this life.

Been Too Nice to the Beard Lately

Situation Room, Wednesday:

BLITZER: Well, why would Clifford May say that he knew about it?

JOHNSON: Clifford May has been wrong on a whole variety of things.


BLITZER: But he's a respected guy, Clifford May.

JOHNSON: Well, he's respected by some people. I don't respect him, because I...

BLITZER: I have known him for many years...


BLITZER: ... going back to when he was a reporter for the "New York Times."

Cliff May today:

There were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The mystery is what Saddam Hussein did with them.

Open Thread

How can the thread with its arms all around me?

Open Thread

your eyes.

Booby Redux

In the story linked previously, we have Booby on Larry King claiming:

They did a damage assessment within the CIA, looking at what this did that Joe Wilson's wife was outed. And turned out it was quite minimal damage. They did not have to pull anyone out undercover abroad. They didn't have to resettle anyone. There was no physical danger of any kind and there was just some embarrassment.

Today we have in the Washington Post:

The CIA has not conducted a formal damage assessment, as is routinely done in cases of espionage and after any legal proceedings have been exhausted. Yesterday, after a two-year inquiry into the leak, special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald issued a five-count indictment against Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, for perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements during the grand jury investigation.

which is it?


Russert explains himself thoroughly here and I think this is quite important.

Tim Russert: We were subpoenaed at NBC, and myself, in May of 2004. We fought the subpoena and lost.

On Aug. 7, I sat down with the special counsel, under oath, not before the grand jury, and was asked if I was a recipient of the leak. The answer was no. I was asked whether I knew Valerie Plame's name and where she worked and whether she was a CIA operative. And the answer was no. That was the extent of it. This is all confirmed on page 7 of the published indictment.

Mr. Libby had called NBC and me, as bureau chief, in July, not to leak information, but to complain about something he had seen on a cable television program. That was the extent of it.

There you are. Just because some important person calls a journalist on the phone does not mean that the important person is a source or that the journalist has promised them confidentiality. Similarly, just because journalist and important person are chatting at the bar, at a dinner party, or anywhere else does not mean that the important person is a source that the journalist has promised confidentiality. So, when Lucy Dalglish whines like this:

Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said the case was setting a dangerous precedent. "Reading the indictment makes my blood run cold," she said. "This whole thing hinges on Russert."

She once again sets her cause (federal shield law) back by missing the point entirely. Not all conversations journalists have with people involve confidential source relationships. It's a weird world indeed when the people who are supposed to get the scoops and report the news - journalists - are instead perceived as being priests in the confessional who are supposed to keep everything they hear secret.


RJ Eskow on the Bush administration's embedded crony.

Not All About Them

As Glenn Greenwald notes, this case is not going to simply be a their (journalists') word against his (Scooter's), that there are also likely contradictions between Scooter's testimony and that of other Bush administration officials (via the Plank). Demonstrating, once again, that Lucy Dalglish doesn't know what the hell she's talking about:

Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said the case was setting a dangerous precedent. "Reading the indictment makes my blood run cold," she said. "This whole thing hinges on Russert."

I also want to highlight one of the claims in this Times piece which I don't think has gotten enough attention:

Floyd Abrams, the First Amendment lawyer, said he could not recall a previous case that depended so heavily on testimony by reporters or in which reporters could be so exposed.

"It's troubling that reporters are being asked to play so central a role, but even more troubling that reporters may be obliged to play the role of testifying against someone that they had promised confidentiality to," said Mr. Abrams, who has at various times represented The New York Times, Time, Ms. Miller and Mr. Cooper.

Do we, in fact, know that the journalists had promised confidentiality to the sources? I don't really know for certain, but my sense is that a culture has developed in Washington where everything is just assumed to be off the record unless the source provides affirmative permission for it to be on the record. Instead of confidentiality being negotiated over particular bits of information it's actually the default. When Scooter calls up Little Russ on the phone he just assumes that he can say anything he wants without it showing up on Meet the Press unless they agree otherwise. If this is the state of affairs - and it shouldn't be - then it puts a different light on all of these noble discussions of promising confidentiality. It becomes utterly meaningless.

Heroes and Villains

After digetsing yesterday's events I may find myself eating some crow and dialing down some criticisms I've had for some journalists, especially Timmeh. Certainly not all of the details are out, but I've frequently criticized Timmeh for not talking about what he said in the grand jury (he finally did this week). Now we know that Fitzgerald had requested that (some?) witnesses not be all that forthcoming about their experience in the grand jury so as not to compromise the investigation.

I certainly think that the many members of the press corps who have been up to their eyeballs in this since the beginning should've shied away from commenting on the case as if they weren't up to their eyeballs in it. But that's a seperate issue of whether they should've spilled the beans.

Still, know we now (as we basically did before) that most journalists involved sang like canaries as soon as Fitz came a calling. I'd have had more sympathy for those corners of the press establishment that were running around praising Judith Miller for not testifying if they'd been simultaneously running around attacking the journalists who did testify. If Miller was a hero, then wasn't Russert a villain? If not, why not?

Wanker of the Day

Lanny Davis. Here's the basic point:

If Davis wants to wish a pox on both parties’ houses, he should probably wait until Democrats get a house.

Open Thread

What you gonna do when the thread strikes and hits you?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Official A

I'm shocked that it's Karl.

Um, and I'm also shocked that there's a serious deficit of Karl related indictment activities?


Occasionally Eric Alterman has wondered out loud when Jonah Goldberg would get around to writing a book. Apparently he's getting around to it. The title is:

Liberal Fascism : The Totalitarian Temptation from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton

And, here's the cover:

hahahah! Hitler mustache on a smiley face!!!! Jonah memories:

September 4, 2003, 9:45 a.m.
The politics of dangerous stupidity.

Nazis murdered millions of unarmed people. They put them in ovens. They made soap out of them. They carted off children in boxcars to die and used some of the kids for medical experiments, including injecting dyes into their eyes to see if they could improve their looks. Lower on the list of charges, the Nazis enslaved millions and launched wars for territorial and egotistical gain (and sent many of the conquered populations to death camps as well). Lower still, they banned books and burned them too. They expropriated homes and businesses, banned religions, etc.

An intelligent person wouldn't normally assume these are the sorts of facts people forget. It's not quite the same thing as saying that the Mork and Mindy was a spin-off from Happy Days, is it?

I could, of course, get more graphic about what the Nazis did, but I don't much like writing about the Holocaust. It's not merely a depressing subject, its enormity is so depressing, so compacted down with evil and barbarity and cruelty that it folds in upon itself like a black hole. The gravitational pull of its tragedy has permanently bent the trajectory of mankind. Suffice it to say that the Nazis weren't simply generically bad, they were uniquely and monumentally evil, not just in their hearts but also in literally billions of intentional, well-planned, and bureaucratized decisions they made every day.

And yet, in polite and supposedly sophisticated circles in America today it is acceptable to say George Bush is akin to a Nazi and that America is becoming Nazi-like. Indeed, in certain corners of the globe to disagree with this assertion is the more outlandish position than to agree with it.

In the September 1, 2003, issue of National Review, Byron York chronicles (read the piece here) some of the Bushphobia. He writes,

A staple of Bush-hating is the portrayal of the president as a Nazi. That has, of course, been a prominent part of other attacks against other presidents, but today it seems to be deployed with particular aggressiveness against Bush. There are thousands of references, across the vastness of the Internet, linking Bush to Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. Do you want to buy a T-shirt with a swastika replacing the "s" in Bush? No problem. Do you want to collect images of Bush in a German army uniform, with a Hitler mustache Photoshopped onto his face? That's easy. Do you want to find pictures of Dick Cheney and Tom Ridge and Ari Fleischer dressed as Bush's Nazi henchmen? That's easy, too.

As York observes, It's not just the intellectual poltroons of the Internet who feign bravery by loudly saying what is patently stupid so that people a fraction dumber than them might mistake it for boldness and conviction. It's not just the masses of undifferentiated cattle who sport their Hitlerfied George Bush T-shirts and who chant slogans with a verve more truly reminiscent of Nuremberg than anything ever uttered by George Bush.

Open Thread

Threads speak much louder than words.

More Thread

Have fun.


They knew she was an operative.

Market Soars on Indictment News

I hate the tendency of reporters to link events which likely will have no real impact on financial markets to those markets. Wednesday:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar may weaken, along with stock and bond prices, analysts say, if the investigation of the leak of a CIA agent's name results in indictments against White House insiders.

The grand jury investigation is due to conclude by Friday, amid signs the prosecutor in the case is preparing to seek criminal charges over the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity in 2003 after her diplomat husband Joseph Wilson accused the Bush administration of misusing intelligence prior to the war on Iraq.


New Thread

Thanks to the livebloggers in comments. Too hard to do with a champagne glass in my hand.

Fitz Conference

On now.

A Fitzmas Miracle

Peak Pony crisis averted.

New Strategy

Apparently operation save this administration is going to be about... attacking Joe Wilson!

Once again, wingnuts, it does not matter at this point if Joe Wilson is a serial rapist of babies. It's irrelevant.

Official A

Indictment Here


And Libby has resigned.

...Think Progress has pdf version.

Celebration Over

Certainly it's nice to see the wheels of justice actually turning in the right direction for once, and it is cause for celebration, but Sen. Kennedy reminds us what this is about:

Today is an ominous day for the country, signifying a new low since Watergate in terms of openness and honesty in our government. This is far more than an indictment of an individual. In effect it’s an indictment of the vicious and devious tactics used by the Administration to justify a war we never should have fought. It’s an indictment of the lengths Administration officials were willing to go to cover up their failed intelligence, their distortion on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and their serious blunders on the war. It is an indictment of their vindictive efforts to discredit anyone who challenge their misrepresentations.

The American people know the high cost of this misguided war – 2,000 U.S. soldiers dead, more than 15,000 wounded, hundreds of billions of dollars spent with no end in sight, and a continuing shameful effort by the White House to silence those who try to tell the truth about the war. Dissent is the ultimate form of patriotism, and it’s time we return to having an honest discourse in this country about changing direction and paying attention to the needs of the American people.

The President should take this opportunity to do everything he can to heal the country by not interfering with the prosecution of this case or the continuing investigation, and by cleaning house at the White House to immunize the country against any further corruption and dishonesty. As the President promised, anyone still in the White House who had anything to do with this scandalous plot or the cover-up should be dismissed immediately, whether or not they have been indicted. Something has to give — America can’t stand three more years of this failed Bush presidency.

Merry Fitzmas

Libby Indicted:
5 counts:

2 Perjury
2 Making false statements
1 Obstruction of Justice

...centers around Libby lying about where he heard the information from. Claimed reporters, when it was Big Time.

Fresh Thread

Grand jury heading to open court soon...

Criminal Conservatives

It's a nice try, but every time they pair the word "conservative" with any version of the word "criminal" we win.

Revenge, Onion Style

The White House went after the Onion for daring to use the presidential seal. Here is their apparent response.
(thanks to reader m)

Worst Case Scenario?

Who am I to disagree with Ann Coulter, constitutional scholar?

2 PM Fitz Press Conference

The moment we've all been waiting for.

...and some papers released at noon, according to NBC?

New Media

Oh I just can't stop laughing.

Word is the speech is called: The War in Iraq: How I and all the chickenhawks were proved fucking right!

Open Thread

Have you heard of a thread that will help us get it together again? Have you heard of the thread that will stop us going wrong?

Open Thread

your eyes.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Wait and See

Rumors and speculation are fun, but with the endgame here I'm not too inclined to believe anything in the press. Tomorrow we will know.

Open Thread

Thread comes to you and you follow - lose one on to the Heart of the Sunrise.

Speaking of the Liberal Media

It's still conservative.

Nice Catch

Digby has a great catch from one of Rove's advisers.


I love this Forbes articles on blogs, which is of course basically instructing big companies on how to deal with people who dare to say mean things about them.

Too Many Liberals

Your liberal media at work:

MSNBC host Keith Olbermann recently revealed that network bosses were upset when he had two liberal guests too close together on his show in September 2003.

Speaking on October 25 to comedian and talk show host Al Franken, Olbermann said the following:

You were good enough to come on this newscast with me late in the summer of 2003. It was August or September. And by coincidence, either the next day or the day before, Janeane Garofalo had been a guest on the newscast. And I got called into a vice president‘s office here and told, "Hey, we don't mind you interviewing these guys, but should you really have put liberals on, on consecutive nights?"

Olbermann added, "Al, can you believe that the country was actually at that point that recently?" Later he would answer his own question, saying, "Thank goodness we have steered out of that time."

Franken was interviewed on September 2, and Garofalo on September 4. Apparently having them both on over three days--a period of time in which Olbermann's show interviewed a total of 9 guests--was grounds for being called on the carpet at MSNBC.

Big Time Coverup

Let's see those documents:

Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, overruling advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers, decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence that erroneously concluded Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, according to Bush administration and congressional sources.

Among the White House materials withheld from the committee were Libby-authored passages in drafts of a speech that then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell delivered to the United Nations in February 2003 to argue the Bush administration's case for war with Iraq, according to congressional and administration sources. The withheld documents also included intelligence data that Cheney's office -- and Libby in particular -- pushed to be included in Powell's speech, the sources said.

The new information that Cheney and Libby blocked information to the Senate Intelligence Committee further underscores the central role played by the vice president's office in trying to blunt criticism that the Bush administration exaggerated intelligence data to make the case to go to war.

O'Reilly's Cowards List


More Kudos for Blitzer

In contrast to what CNN tended to do previously, during the guest segments of his show he frequently has one guest or one perspective represented at a time. Instead of having balance "within" segments by having a two sides to every issue there's balance across segments.

This achieves a lot of things. First, it puts the responsibility back onto Blitzer, the host, to keep his guests honest rather than letting the feuding guests keep each other honest. Second, it allows more unfettered and uninterrupted viewpoints and information expressed. Third, I think it allows the guests to speak more freely as they aren't as much there to represent "a side" but instead they can express their own viewpoints. Sure, partisan hacks are still partisan hacks, but at the very least it allows for a bit more nuance in partisan hackery.

No New Office Space for Fitz

Oh well, that was a fun story. On the other hand, maybe it'll all be over tomorrow.

Noe Indicted In Bush Money Laundering Case

Presumably on charges of laundering money to the Bush campaign.

The U.S. Attorney’s office has indicted Tom Noe, the former Maumee coin dealer suspected of laundering money into President Bush’s reelection campaign, Mr. Noe’s attorney told The Blade today.

Jon Richardson said he was called this afternoon and informed of the indictment. The details of the indictment are being withheld until a press conference at 4:30 p.m.

...ah, memories:

Completely Bizarre Heated Exchange Between Kyra Phillips and Chuck Grassley

Rough transcript:

Phillips: Sir I don't know if you can see these live pictures or not. This is videotape from throught the day today and yesterday. Long lines for gasoline. People waiting in line for water. People waiting in line for ice, people aruging and shouting. You'd think we'd learn so many lessons from aktrina and it seems like we're seeing this all over again. Maybe the scale is like what we have seen in some ways in Louisiana. It is happening before our eyes and these people need help.

Grassley: It's quite obvious that money is not standing in the way because we put up $62 billion of money of which only about $20 billion has been sput thus far. We have the resources.

Phillips: We've got the resources so what do we need to do.

Grassley: What we need to do is... action.

Phillips: How do we put that action forward, how do we take action.

Grassley: I'm going to stop this because there's no sense in my having a confrontation with you, you're a friend and I appreciate what you're doing and I'm not going to give an on the spot answer because these things...

Phillips: I don't want to argue with you sir.

Grassley...these things take some thought. And I'm not going to make public policy on television.

Phillips: Could I ask you a question? Is there anything you could do right now as a senator as someone who does have a very good repurtion and you're right. You and I have a great reputation. I don't want to argue with you. I want to make that straight. I'm just asking. Is there anything you can do? Is there any kind of influence? Can you use your abilties as a senator to, whether it's getting the national guard activated, talkng with governor bush, getting DOD assets, any way you can get involved in helping these people in Florida or influencing others to do so.

Grassley: I started to tell you how I was trying to help an Iowa family in Cancun and we called the International Red Cross and the State Department and tried to get things moving and before we were able to help them, there was only about two or three hours passed, That family did make it back home in iowa and they were able to get out on a commercial flight.

(Kyra Phillips asks him if there's anything else he can do to help other people stranded in Cancun)

Grassley: I'm limited to this but I can do this. I can call the State Department.

Phillips: Do you think that they, is there anything else they can do? Do they have the resources, do they have the ability to get into the country and get those Americans out?

Grassley: Operating within the US our federal government can do almost anything. In the foreign country you're guests of the foreign country. So you just could not willy-nilly do things at least with some military people without violating international law.

Phillips: Senator Charles Grassely, I think this was a very healthy conversation.I hope you're not upset with me. We are good friends. I appreciate your time sir but you know there are so many people that just want answers and we want to just see things get done. Americans should not suffer like this sir.

Grassley: I hope you appreciate the fact that when it comes to making public policy that I want to be cautious that I don't make it on television. I want to make it in the debate of congress.

Phillips: I understand sir, with all respect.

Bizarre all the way through.

Space Heaters

I just bought 3. Let's see if I can keep my heating bill below 10 billion dollars this year.


Big Media Ezra writes about the spooky Bush personality cult.

Sliming Scowcroft

It'll be interesting to see how far they go in trying to slime Scowcroft. He's one of those grand elder statesmen of Washington, and attacking him is attacking the entire old guard including, of course, Poppy.

Bowing and Scraping

While it's certainly true that people on our side of the fence had reasons to object to Miers, reflecting as it did the elevation of cronyism as George Bush's supreme governing philosophy, that had absolutely nothing to do with why she was withdrawn. The Right doesn't care about cronyism, they were just angry that she wasn't a right wing extremist.

Ann Coulter is on CNN gloating, which says everything about the high standards of the nation's most respected cable channel, but what was Coulter's stated objection to Miers? That she opposed Griswold. Ann Coulter and the rest of the right wing crazies oppose the right of married couples to have access to contraception.

That's the America they want, and they want a judge who will give it to them.


Assrocket links to a Washington Post article from May, thinking it's current. Note to assrocket: 1st quarter economic data are like so first quarter.

(tip from Emmanuel)


Trent Lott gives his thoughts on blogs.

Bye Harriet

Harriet Miers withdraws. Breaking CNN.

No reaction yet from her blog.

Shorter Washington Post

Clap louder Mr. President!

Open Thread

More in the mind than the body this feeling, a sense at the end Of a circular thread.

Open Thread

Thread comes to you and you follow - lose one on to the Heart of the Sunrise.


Looks like Joe and Valerie Wilson are going to be indicted. A sad Fitzmas for us all.

(via Susie)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Operation Yellow Elephant Has Found a New Potential Recruit

Peter Beinart.


13 hours of work from Luckovich:

Larger version here.



The prosecutor in the CIA leak investigation presented a summary of his case to a federal grand jury yesterday and is expected to announce a final decision on charges in the two-year-long probe tomorrow, according to people familiar with the case.

Even as Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald wrapped up his case, the legal team of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove has been engaged in a furious effort to convince the prosecutor that Rove did not commit perjury during the course of the investigation, according to people close to the aide. The sources, who indicated that the effort intensified in recent weeks, said Rove still did not know last night whether he would be indicted.

Fitzgerald is completing his probe of whether senior administration officials broke the law by disclosing the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to the media in the summer of 2003 to discredit her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, an administration critic. The grand jury's term will expire Friday.

But after grand jurors left the federal courthouse before noon yesterday, it was unclear whether Fitzgerald had spelled out the criminal charges he might ask them to consider, or whether he had asked them to vote on any proposed indictments. Fitzgerald's legal team did not present the results of a grand jury vote to the court yesterday, which he is required to do within days of such a vote.

Steve Clemons:

What I have learned is that the Office of the Special Counsel has signed a lease this week for expanded office space across the street at 1401 New York Avenue, NW.

Another coincidence? More office space needed to shut down the operation?

I think not. Fitzgerald's operation is expanding.

Knowledge or Conjecture?

Mike Allen may know stuff.

Open Thread

Threads speak much louder than words.

Open Thread

Have you heard of a thread that will help us get it together again? Have you heard of the thread that will stop us going wrong?

Big Time Torture

The WaPo editorial board drops out of character for a moment and writes a very harsh editorial about Big Time's desire to enshrine in law an official US government policy of torture.

As for Mr. Cheney: He will be remembered as the vice president who campaigned for torture.

Good for you, Washington Post editorial board! But, wait, last I checked it was President George W. Bush who was, you know, in charge of things. How about pointing your rhetorical guns at him?


Fitzgerald met with the chief judge for about 45 minutes after the grand jury hearing adjourned...[cnn]

Open Thread

Lost in trance of dances as thread takes another turn. As is my want, I only reach to look in

You Never Know Who Might Appear

Joe Trippi was kind enought to stop by Drinking Liberally last night to chat. We have a regular parade of candidates and assorted other important people. Stop by if you haven't. Tuesdays, 18th and Lombard, Tangier Cafe.

Bye Bye Judy


New York Times reporter Judith Miller has begun discussing her future employment options with the newspaper, including the possibility of a severance package, a lawyer familiar with the matter, said yesterday.

The discussion about her future comes several days after the public rupture of the relationship between the Times and Ms. Miller, a 28-year veteran of the paper. Both the editor and the publisher of the Times have expressed regret for their unequivocal support for Ms. Miller when she spent 85 days in jail for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the unmasking of a Central Intelligence Agency operative.

The negotiations began with a face-to-face meeting Monday morning between Ms. Miller and the publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., said the lawyer familiar with the situation. A spokeswoman for the New York Times declined to comment. Ms. Miller didn't return calls.

The Final Irony

Gary Hart:

Richard Welch, a brilliant Harvard-educated classicist, had been stationed in Greece as CIA station chief only a few months before he was murdered, by a radical Greek terrorist organization called the 17th of November, in the doorway of his house in Athens on Dec. 23, 1975. Had Agee not divulged his name,* there is every reason to believe that Welch would be alive today after decades of loyal service to his country.

Largely as a result of Agee's perfidy and Welch's unnecessary death, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) of 1982 was enacted, making it a felony to knowingly divulge the identity of a covert CIA operative. It carries penalties of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine for each offense. There are those who dismiss the crime by saying, "Oh, Wilson only had a desk job." That is not a defense under this felony statute. It is for the CIA, not Karl Rove or Robert Novak, to determine who requires identity protection and who does not.


There is one final irony to this story. On Christmas Eve in 1975, I got a call at my home from the director of the CIA, William Colby. He asked if I would intervene with the White House to obtain presidential approval to have Welch buried at Arlington National Cemetery, a hero fallen in service to his country. I quickly called President Ford's chief of staff on Colby's behalf and made the request. Within two hours, the president had agreed to sign the order permitting Welch to be buried at Arlington.

The chief of staff's name was Richard Cheney.

*correction from Gary Hart:Update: I incorrectly stated above that Philip Agee included the name of Richard Welch in his book naming CIA operatives. That statement was inaccurate. Mr. Agee did not identify Richard Welch, but other sources did. Nevertheless, the Agee book and subsequent Agee actions did contribute substantially to the passage of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. I apologize to Mr. Agee for this incorrect assertion.

(via Americablog)

Wanker of the Day



Frist admits he's a big liar.

Place Your Bets

How many sparkly ponies will Fitzgerald leave under your tree?

Operation Yellow Elephant Finds Another Potential Recruit


Bowdoin student, off to war. How does the local chickenhawk respond?

While Cornell du Houx has actively rallied against many of President Bush's policies, he feels that his involvement in the Marines is not a conflict of interest.

"Regardless of my opinions regarding the war in Iraq, it is my duty as a U.S. Marine to serve and I am ready and willing to do my job to its fullest extent," he said.

Others on campus, particularly his political opponents in the Bowdoin College Republicans, feel differently about his service. Daniel Schuberth, a leader of the Bowdoin College Republicans and College Republican national secretary, said, "I applaud Mr. Houx for his service, just as I applaud any other soldier who is brave enough to take up arms in defense of his country. I find it troubling, however, that one of the most vocal opponents of our president, our country and our mission in Iraq has chosen to fight for a cause he claims is wrong. Mr. Houx's rhetoric against the war on terror places him in agreement with the most radical fringes of the Democratic Party, and I am left to question his logic and motivation."

His logic and motivation may be that he made a commitment to his country and he intends to honor it? Not so bright, these chickenhawks.

The General writes a letter.

Today or Tomorrow

So, it sounds like Fitz might drop off our presents today but that we won't get to open them until tomorrow. Bummer.

Meanwhile, Keyboard Kommando Kommix will keep us busy.

Open Thread

Onward through the thread, onward through the night of my life.

Open Thread

On the darkest night so painful do you hunger for thread midst the torture of being one?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Wal-Mart: Go Fuck Ourselves

Looks like they just did.

Lies and the Lying Liars

Arianna has a good rundown of some of the Plame related program activity lies. In an alternative universe, circa 1998 or so, we would all know this stuff because the Barbizon School of Former Prosecutors would be on cable chat shows 24/7 telling us about it.

Rover Red Rover Let Fitzgerald Take Over


As his investigation nears a conclusion, special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has returned his attention to White House adviser Karl Rove, interviewing a Rove colleague with detailed questions about contacts that President Bush's close aide had with reporters in the days leading up to the outing of a covert CIA officer.

Fitzgerald has also dispatched FBI agents to comb the CIA agent's residential neighborhood in Washington, asking neighbors again whether they were aware -- before her name appeared in a syndicated column -- that the agent, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA.

Open Thread

What you gonna do when the thread strikes and hits you?

Kudos to Wolf Blitzer

The Beard doesn't get many good words from me, but the last couple of days he's been very good about smacking down wingnut guests who try to claim that "Wilson claimed that Cheney sent him to Niger."

The Weather Outside Is Frightful

Indictments coming?

Open Thread

Distant as the distant thunder Where equal threads will rent asunder.

Saving the Daily News

Will Bunch is hosting a discussion of how to save both his paper and newspapers generally.

Philly's a two newspaper town, both owned by Knight Ridder. The PDN is a tabloid, though not really like any other tabloid I've ever seen. It's a quality paper and it manages to be an amazing reflection of the city, warts and all. K-R is eviscerating both it and the Inquirer.


A letter writer to Romenesko makes a point I was previously trying to make but does so much more succintly.

As the New York Times has learned, to its apparent chagrin, when a newspaper quotes anonymous sources, it is substituting its credibility for that of the source. Given the current public opinion of American journalism, should the Times be using its credibility to advance the interests of Scooter Libby, Ahmed Chalabi or anybody else unwilling to stand up for what they say? Should anybody?

Not only is the paper substituting its credibility, arguably a paper has a greater degree of credibility to offer (or it least should) than self-interested politicians advancing an agenda. As I wrote before, I think this has the bizarre effect for casual readers of giving the words of anonymous sources more credibility generally than those sources would have if they are named. Statements by anonymous sources written in the Times are essentially read as statements by the Times itself.

BoBo's World

Where only white people can be middle class.

Open Thread

Have you heard of a thread that will help us get it together again? Have you heard of the thread that will stop us going wrong?

Two Books

Franken's book comes out today. I haven't seen it yet.

Margaret Cho's book came out recently. I'm only about 30 pages in but based on that it's certainly worth a read, and not just because I get a mention.


I certainly don't think that we should be falling all over ourselves praising people who should've spoken up earlier, but nonetheless it is important that what they have to say enters into the media bloodstream. Wilkerson in the LA Times:

The administration's performance during its first four years would have been even worse without Powell's damage control. At least once a week, it seemed, Powell trooped over to the Oval Office and cleaned all the dog poop off the carpet. He held a youthful, inexperienced president's hand. He told him everything would be all right because he, the secretary of State, would fix it. And he did — everything from a serious crisis with China when a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft was struck by a Chinese F-8 fighter jet in April 2001, to the secretary's constant reassurances to European leaders following the bitter breach in relations over the Iraq war. It wasn't enough, of course, but it helped.

Today, we have a president whose approval rating is 38% and a vice president who speaks only to Rush Limbaugh and assembled military forces. We have a secretary of Defense presiding over the death-by-a-thousand-cuts of our overstretched armed forces (no surprise to ignored dissenters such as former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki or former Army Secretary Thomas White).

It's a disaster. Given the choice, I'd choose a frustrating bureaucracy over an efficient cabal every time.


I think now we know Bush really is in charge. He truly thinks that he if he explains the whole Iraq thing one more time the country will be on board. God he's stupid. How many major speeches explaining Iraq do we need:

The White House strategy will unfold over the next several days, starting with yesterday's announcement of a new Federal Reserve Board chairman and continuing today with a presidential speech on Iraq at Bolling Air Force Base. Anticipating a barrage of criticism when the death toll hits 2,000, Bush will try to put the sacrifice in perspective by portraying the Iraq war as the best way to keep terrorists from striking the United States again, the official said. He will make the same case in another speech Friday in Norfolk.

Wanker of the Day


Open Thread

Threads to the left of you threads to the right speak when you are spoken to don't pretend you're right.

Open Thread

Leaving all the changes far from far behind. we relieve the tension only to find out the thread's name.

Lied Under Oath

Jane makes the case that Big Time is a Big Time Perjurer. I don't think we can know this for sure, but it is certainly a possibility.


My instinct is to stay out of primaries. There are a lot of reasons for this, but one reason is that it's always fun sport to question the motives of anyone who wades in. I wish I was on the massive blogger gravy train that apparently exists, with people being bought off, but sadly I'm not.

Fun sport, nonetheless.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Cheney v. Cheney


Mr. Libby's notes indicate that Mr. Cheney had gotten his information about Ms. Wilson from George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, in response to questions from the vice president about Mr. Wilson. But they contain no suggestion that either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby knew at the time of Ms. Wilson's undercover status or that her identity was classified. Disclosing a covert agent's identity can be a crime, but only if the person who discloses it knows the agent's undercover status.


VICE PRES. CHENEY: No. I don’t know Joe Wilson. I’ve never met Joe Wilson. A question had arisen. I’d heard a report that the Iraqis had been trying to acquire uranium in Africa, Niger in particular. I get a daily brief on my own each day before I meet with the president to go through the intel. And I ask lots of question. One of the questions I asked at that particular time about this, I said, “What do we know about this?” They take the question. He came back within a day or two and said, “This is all we know. There’s a lot we don’t know,” end of statement. And Joe Wilson—I don’t who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back.

I guess the intriguing thing, Tim, on the whole thing, this question of whether or not the Iraqis were trying to acquire uranium in Africa. In the British report, this week, the Committee of the British Parliament, which just spent 90 days investigating all of this, revalidated their British claim that Saddam was, in fact, trying to acquire uranium in Africa. What was in the State of the Union speech and what was in the original British White papers. So there may be difference of opinion there. I don’t know what the truth is on the ground with respect to that, but I guess—like I say, I don’t know Mr. Wilson. I probably shouldn’t judge him. I have no idea who hired him and it never came...


VICE PRES. CHENEY: Who in the CIA, I don’t know.

Different Take

After thinking a bit more, and getting Lawrence O'Donnell's take on MSNBC and reading Steve Clemons' take I think the NYT leak has a slightly different significance.

The point probably isn't Libby and his lawyers signalling that Cheney's gonna take the fall. Quite possibly there's nothing that directly links Cheney to a criminal charge, although obviously we can't know that.

The real issue is that Cheney was at the center of this and knew all along what was going on (at least after the fact). Leaking this now is a way of softening the political blow, as even if Cheney's name isn't on the indictments it's going to be in them.


Well, it sounds like Libby's pretty much up shit's creek and he's telling Big Time, through the miracle of very transparent anonymous sources, that he might be going down too.



Judith Miller may not have a book deal just yet (much less the $1.2 million Simon & Schuster advance alleged by gadfly blogger Arianna Huffington). But when she does get to it, we can be sure that—along with Norman Pearlstine’s planned tome on the hilarious topic of anonymous sourcing—it’ll be an earnestly self-justifying take on a Very Serious Matter. Not for jolly Time reporter Matt Cooper, who testified without doing any hard time, keeping his sense of humor intact. He’s been telling friends he intends to write a comedy about the Valerie Plame Wilson affair. And Cooper, who does stand-up part time (sample joke: “ [John] Kerry’s idea of rebellion is having red wine with fish”), sees himself as just the man for the job. Cooper wouldn’t comment, even for a punch line. “The question,” says a friend of Cooper’s, “is whether publishers are going to have the intelligence to want a funny book about this, instead of one that huffs and puffs about ‘a crucial turn in American history’ and all that.”

(thanks to reader g)

Calm Before the Storm

Everything seems to be just a little too quiet.

Open Thread

Threads to the left of you threads to the right speak when you are spoken to don't pretend you're right.

New York Fun

I thought this New York Sun editorial was one of the funniest things I've ever read. Arthur discusses.

Open Thread

Threads speak much louder than words.

Open Thread

Distant as the distant thunder Where equal threads will rent asunder.


Kevin Drum highlights an LA Times Op-Ed which claims that LA is actually the densest urbanized area in the country. Hard to believe? Yes. True? Yes. Mean exactly what you think it means? Probably not.

It all hinges on the definition of "urbanized area." LA is indeed a denser place than it is generally given credit for and, as the op-ed claims, its basic geography was formed by streetcars and not the automobile. But "urbanized area" is a particular construct which, given LA's geography - water on one side, mountains/desert on the other - is going to provide a measure of its density ranking which wouldn't apply if others were used.

In measuring the density of a city one has to choose the boundaries. Are we talking about the political city of Los Angeles, even though the conceptual/economic city certainly doesn't really stop at its artificial borders (is Santa Monica really somehow distinct from LA? Politically yes, but conceptually no). There a variety of measures of "city" which are all some combination of what we'd like to measure and what we have decent consistent and easily/regularly gatherable data for. In one sense "urbanized area" is the best definition - as it basically starts with the urban core and then adds on all the contiguous dense bits.

The Census Bureau delineates urbanized areas (UA's) to provide a better separation of urban and rural territory, population, and housing in the vicinity of large places. A UA comprises one or more places ("central place") and the adjacent densely settled surrounding territory ("urban fringe") that together have a minimum of 50,000 persons. The urban fringe generally consists of contiguous territory having a density of least 1,000 persons per square mile. The urban fringe also includes outlying territory of such density if it was connected to the core of the contiguous area by road and is within 1 1/2 road miles of that core, or within 5 road miles of the core but separated by water or other undevelopable territory. Other territory with a population density of fewer than 1,000 people per square mile is included in the urban fringe if it eliminates an enclave or closes an indentation in the boundary of the urbanized area. The population density is determined by (1) outside of a place, one or more contiguous census blocks with a population density of at least 1,000 persons per square mile or (2) inclusion of a place containing census blocks that have at least 50 percent of the population of the place and a density of at least 1,000 persons per square mile.

All of Los Angeles and the connecting bits are quite dense. Until, sudddenly, the LA urbanized area basically stops (at least until the developers get there at which point another dense development is added on). It isn't completely uniform in density, but much more than the UAs of older east coast cities. In older cities density declines more sharply as you move away from the center and instead of going from "dense areas" to "nothing" rather quickly the urbanized area definition includes a lot of "not so dense" bits which bring down the average.

Density rankings based on the actual city municipality or county-based measures put Los Angeles much lower in ranking.

The reason why LA is dense but doesn't feel dense is that while its basic geography was created by streetcars, the urban highway system was subsequently grafted onto it. So, while it's pretty dense overall it lacks easily identifiable super-dense cores which create walkable areas. Everything is spread out just a little bit too much. Best of both worlds, or worst, depending on your point of view.

So, LA is both very dense AND very sprawled.

Judy Wears Combat Boots

Judy in military uniform.

Alec Baldwin Has a Question


Why are contemporary Republicans so full of shit?

Dunno. Any thoughts?

Keepers of the Hate

The usual suspects:

Within days of Hinrichs's death, a number of Internet websites were speculating that he had planned to blow himself up inside the stadium -- and that he was a radical Muslim terrorist. Blog headlines screamed, ''Jihad at the University of Oklahoma?" and ''The Oklahoma Suicide Bomber." Bloggers demanded to know why the mainstream media were ignoring the story, and some supplied a ready answer: The liberals in the media were afraid to ''offend the gods of political correctness" -- as syndicated columnist and blogger Michelle Malkin put it -- by calling attention to Islamic terrorism on US soil.

But was there any substance to the story? Apparently not. According to the authorities, there is no indication that Hinrichs was anything more than a depressed, troubled young man.


They're wrong. This is not an issue of ''mainstream media good, blogs bad." I love blogs; I've had one myself for the past month. I think ''citizen journalists" can do a great job complementing the mainstream media, providing much needed outside fact-checking and analysis, and in some cases newsgathering as well. It's not a matter of credentials, either: One of the worst offenders in flogging the ''suicide bomber" story, Malkin, is a professional journalist. And let's face it, it's not as if the professional media have never circulated bogus ''news" or fanned hysteria (look at the Hurricane Katrina coverage).

In the Hinrichs case, however, it seems that the blogs and the mainstream media have brought out the worst in each other, with local TV stations picking up Internet rumors and feeding them back to the Internet.

And, yes, the hysteria has done real harm. The conspiracy theories on the right will still flourish even after the case is closed; meanwhile, many on the left will use this fiasco as an excuse to dismiss legitimate concerns about terrorism as right-wing paranoia and anti-Muslim bigotry. Hinrichs's family has been put through the additional hell of having to publicly defend a dead son and brother against accusations of being a murderous fanatic.

The mainstream media can be arrogant. But the bloggers and their readers are sometimes too willing to accept trafficking in rumor and speculation as a process from which the truth will ultimately emerge through the self-correcting power of debate.

Now there's a subject worthy of debate. By the current rules of the road is Michelle Malkin really a "professional journalist?"


But I thought conservatives believed that all nominees deserved an up or down vote? Someone send me the latest memo...

Sell Sell Sell

Bush to name new Fed chair today. Rumor is it's Chalabi...

He's Making His List, Checking it Twice...

...we're gonna find out who is naughty or nice...

(thanks to reader s)


It's the moonie upi, and I'll believe it when I see it, but there seems to be general consensus that this is, in fact, true:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- The CIA leak inquiry that threatens senior White House aides has now widened to include the forgery of documents on African uranium that started the investigation, according to NAT0 intelligence sources.

This suggests the inquiry by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald into the leaking of the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame has now widened to embrace part of the broader question about the way the Iraq war was justified by the Bush administration.


Fitzgerald's team has been given the full, and as yet unpublished report of the Italian parliamentary inquiry into the affair, which started when an Italian journalist obtained documents that appeared to show officials of the government of Niger helping to supply the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein with Yellowcake uranium. This claim, which made its way into President Bush's State of the Union address in January, 2003, was based on falsified documents from Niger and was later withdrawn by the White House.

This opens the door to what has always been the most serious implication of the CIA leak case, that the Bush administration could face a brutally damaging and public inquiry into the case for war against Iraq being false or artificially exaggerated. This was the same charge that imperiled the government of Bush's closest ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, after a BBC Radio program claimed Blair's aides has "sexed up" the evidence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

There can be few more serious charges against a government than going to war on false pretences, or having deliberately inflated or suppressed the evidence that justified the war.

Judy Judy Judy

Miller's response to the public editor/keller is quite funny. You can read it here.

I especially liked this bit:

The third “troubling” ethical issue you raised – my access to secret information during my embed in Iraq – had been fully clarified by the time you published. No one doubts that I had access to very sensitive information or that I did work out informal arrangements to limit discussion of sensitive intelligence sources and methods to the most senior Times editors. Though there was occasionally enormous tension over whether

and when I could publish sensitive information, the arrangement ultimately satisfied the senior officers in the brigade hunting for unconventional weapons, the Times editors at the time, and me. It also led to the publication of my exclusive story that debunked some of my own earlier exclusives on the Pentagon’s claim that it had found mobile germ production units in Iraq.

Jack Shafer covers Judy and the Mystery of the Mobile Weapons Labs quite well.

Frist - Big Liar

I don't know whether Bill Frist committed any crimes, but he certainly "lied to the American people" repeatedly. I remember when that was supposed to matter.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) was given considerable information about his stake in his family's hospital company, according to records that are at odds with his past statements that he did not know what was in his stock holdings.

Managers of the trusts that Frist once described as "totally blind," regularly informed him when they added new shares of HCA Inc. or other assets to his holdings, according to the documents.

I'm sure comments will return shortly. Jeevan, the wizard of haloscan, is usually quite good about such things.

...temporary comments system installed. Be nice to it.

President I Didn't Do it Boy

Commander Coocoo Bananas not to blame!

yes, comments not working. Seems to be a haloscan problem all around.

Open Thread

No thread can take your place, you know what I mean. We have the same intrigue as a court of kings.

Open Thread

On the darkest night so painful do you hunger for thread midst the torture of being one?

Open Thread

Distant as the distant thunder Where equal threads will rent asunder.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Douchebag of Liberty

Novakula flipped:

A critical early success for Fitzgerald was winning the cooperation of Robert D. Novak, the Chicago Sun-Times columnist who named Plame in a July 2003 story and attributed key information to "two senior administration officials." Legal sources said Novak avoided a fight and quietly helped the special counsel's inquiry, although neither the columnist nor his attorney have said so publicly.

Given all the bloviating about protecting sources over the past few months I'd really welcome an honest untainted discussion of the subject. If Judith Miller was a hero were all the journalists (including her, eventually) who did testify villains? Does Novakula have an obligation to tell us what he knows? Ditto Russert, Mitchell, etc...

There aren't simple easy answers to all of these questions. But, the club of elite journalists settled on one storyline awhile back and clearly it's no longer operative. That storyline was overly simplistic and largely based on their self-perception of being above reproach. I think, as I have throughout this, that there are important issues here. However, the Miller case and everyone who jumped aboard it obscured those issues and harmed whatever worthy cause they may have thought they were fighting for.

But, back to the original point. If you're praising those journalists who refused to testify why aren't you condemning those who did? Who did do the right thing, and why?

The Queen of All Iraq

Maybe she'll get her chance to join her king.

Cornered Animal

When the Fitz hits the fan we can expect the Right to react as it's been trained to act in such situations, like a cornered feral animal. It's a moment where the mainstream media should consider whether it's time to, once again, hand their pages and airtime over to the Barbizon School of Former Prosecutors Defense Lawyers and other such partisan hacks or whether they choose to cover things with a bit of dignity.

The showing of "adult" Republicans such as Gergen and Thornburgh on some Sunday shows points to the possibility that the media will treat this seriously, but I'm not optimistic.

Local Notes

Saw Winesburg, Ohio at the Arden Theater. This Inqy review describes it fairly well. I enjoyed the music and thought the cast was one of the best I've seen in anything locally (including someone I knew once upon a time), though the play itself ultimately didn't add up to something greater than the sum of its parts. Still, an enjoyable evening and well worth seeing for the quality of the cast alone for any musical fans.

Wanker of the Day

Russert and Jarvis share the prize. A daily wanker first!

...oh, what the hell, I shouldn't leave out assrocket. Triple Crown!


Indeed. Show some courage when courage matters.

Open Thread

your eyes.

Open Thread

Always on the thread of what could be the greatest moment in this life.

Open Thread

Our thread is our world, our life.


Josh Marshall has this about right:

Leaks come in many flavors. But we can chart two broad categories. In one falls leaks rooted in individual motivations of conscience, cattiness or revenge, dogged reporting or long-standing relationships between sources and reporters. In another are those leaks best termed 'official', in which the government itself decides to put out a story, but does so through leaks rather than officially. The latter variety is fraught with danger.

The New York Times is one of an extraordinarily small number of news outlets (probably fewer than you have fingers on one hand) that get those calls. And with respect to my friends at the Times, you routinely find articles in the paper that began with just that sort of unique and privileged acccess -- and in far too many cases, ended there. We seem now to be moving quickly toward the consensus opinion that Judy Miller was the proverbial bad apple. But the WMD fiasco isn't the only mess the Times has found itself in in the last decade. And I think this broader institutional problem for elite news outlets -- being the recipients for 'official' leaks -- deserves more attention.

While to some degree Judy's assertion that whatever prominent government officials are saying is almost by definition "news" it's much less the case of those government officials are allowed the cloak of anonymity. There's an implicit contract between reader and journalist that the journalist has in fact verified the information that anonymous government officials are telling them, even more so than if they're named. Oddly, "according to anonymous officials" tends to give more weight to readers than "according to head lickspittle Ken Mehlman," in part because of the assumption that journalists wouldn't take the extra step of granting anonymity unless it were true.

p.s. blogger, I am not a spam blog! please take the goddamn word verification off.

Open Thread

Threads to the left of you threads to the right speak when you are spoken to don't pretend you're right.


David Gergen was remarkably good today on Howie's show:

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Howie, it grows curiouser and curiouser as they said in "Alice in Wonderland." This whole episode now after "The New York Times" fiercely defended her, while she was in prison, now they are basically accusing her of doing not only a bad job reporting on the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but also misleading the paper itself. And we've now had Maureen Dowd yesterday, as you know, a well-respected columnist at "The Times" saying that Miller should not come back to the paper. And today, the public editor of "The Times," on its editorial pages, Byron Calame, has said she should not come back. And most curiously of all, "New York Times" editorial page that had so been such a fierce defender of her while she was in prison, has been totally silent.


But secondly, very importantly, I think "The Times" is waking up to the fact that its own credibility is now tied to Judy Miller, and that its own credibility has been damaged yet again. And for such an important institution in our society, this is a big deal. I think "The Times" is not only separating itself out from Judy Miller, but they're scrambling to restore their own credibility. And you know, Alex Jones, who is the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who is now at the Kennedy School, has said so clearly, they've got a long way to go in this. I do think that their editorial page now has to address this in a very fair way, and they've got to totally pursue this as if she does not work for them and no longer protect her, but really try to get to the bottom of it, and get the facts out for their own credibility.


Were Miller and "The Times" used by Iraqi exiles and by administration officials?

GERGEN: Clearly. Clearly they were used. And the administration was used as well, and it appears that intelligence agencies were used or misused by Chalabi and by -- and others did the same thing.

But I do -- what you're saying, though, Howie, does point to something else. There is now going to be a longer journalistic effort to uncover and to try to -- the -- the journalistic practices of Judy Miller and how "The Times" worked with her. Did they keep her under a tight rein or not -- and obviously they didn't.


But I don't think that the press has over-dramatized this story. This is a major important story in American political life. After all, the investigation we know is focusing on the two men who are closest to the president and the vice president of the United States. That's point one. And secondly, rapidly, if there are indictments, this story is also becoming an indictment over the way the Bush administration led us into war. Those are two important, dramatic stories.


Would be nicely timed with the local Drinking Liberally.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald appears to be laying the groundwork for indictments this week over the outing of a covert CIA operative, including possible charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, lawyers involved in case said on Sunday.

Top administration officials are expected to learn from Fitzgerald as early as Monday whether they will face charges as the prosecutor winds up his nearly two-year investigation, the lawyers said.

Fitzgerald could convene the grand jury as early as Tuesday to lay out a final summary of the case and ask for approval of possible indictments, legal sources said. The grand jury hearing the CIA leak case normally meets on Wednesdays and is scheduled to expire on Friday unless Fitzgerald extends it.

Republicans to Americans: It's Okay to Lie Under Oath in a Criminal Investigation!


Free Lil' Kim!

The Office

I'm quite enjoying NBC's version of the Office. I think it started out a bit milder and a bit less on target than the BBC version. There's probably no way Steve Carrell could really match the character created by Gervais in part because I'm not sure there is a perfectly analagous US archetype. But the writing this season has been really good, and the last show especially, with the fire, was hilarious.

Check it out if you haven't, and take a look at the BBC version also...


Apparently it is no longer the job of the press to tell us what they know.

Good Sport

A few days Sherrod Brown took out a fairly big blogosphere buy trumpeting his campaign. This is a good moment to remind people that ads are not editorial, anything roughly work safe and not obviously fraudulent is fine with me. I tend to shy away from primaries for a variety of reasons.

In any case, Brown shifted his ad (see top left) to direct people to Act Blue's general election fund. The money will go to whoever wins the primary and not to any particular candidate's primary fund. That's a class move.

We've Been Here Before


During each election cycle, we ponder the question of whether character matters. Of course it does. Does anyone doubt that the continued prosecution of this war has to do with the personality of the commander in chief, a man who is stubborn and calls it strength, who wears blinders and calls it vision? When he vowed to invade Iraq, the advisers he heeded were those who, like him, had never seen combat. The one who had was marginalized and is now gone. The investigation of who leaked what to whom, of what the reporter knew and how she knew it, may be about national security and journalistic ethics, but at its base it is about something more important: the Nixonian lengths to which these people will go to shore up a bankrupt policy and destroy those who cross them on it.


"In Vietnam we didn't have the lessons of Vietnam to guide us," says David Halberstam, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of that war. "In Iraq we did have those lessons. The tragedy is that we didn't pay attention to them." Or maybe only our leaders did not. The polls show the American people have turned on this war much more quickly than they did on the war in Vietnam. Of course, they are the ones who pay the price.


"In Vietnam we didn't have the lessons of Vietnam to guide us," says David Halberstam, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of that war. "In Iraq we did have those lessons. The tragedy is that we didn't pay attention to them." Or maybe only our leaders did not. The polls show the American people have turned on this war much more quickly than they did on the war in Vietnam. Of course, they are the ones who pay the price.

Happy Holidays from Larry Johnson

It isn't quite Fitzmas, but it's close.


Of the offenses listed, to me only the 4th one is really troubling (first two not so, third somewhat troubling). But, when people have been derailed from higher positions for failing to pay a nanny's social security taxes (and, no, I don't mean Kerik)...

Open Thread

Leaving all the changes far from far behind. we relieve the tension only to find out the thread's name.

Open Thread

There'll be no mutant enemy we shall certify. Political threads of sad remains will die.

War Pigs

No matter how low I set the bar, they always manage to limbo under it.

Open Thread

What you gonna do when the thread strikes and hits you?



Weeks after he took over the investigation 22 months ago into the unauthorized disclosure of a CIA operative's identity, special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald got authority from the Justice Department to expand his inquiry to include any criminal attempts to interfere with his probe, according to a letter posted Friday on Fitzgerald's new Web site.

Fitzgerald is nearing a decision on whether he will prosecute anyone when the federal grand jury term ends Friday. The letter specified that he could investigate and prosecute "perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence and intimidation of witnesses."

According to a lawyer familiar with the case, the current speculation about such charges eventually arising appeared to have occurred to Fitzgerald in the first months of his inquiry.

In a letter dated Feb. 6, 2004, then-Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey said that he was clarifying, "at your [Fitzgerald's] request," the added authority to investigate and prosecute "crimes committed with intent to interfere with your investigation." Fitzgerald's appointment as special counsel on Dec. 30, 2003, after then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft recused himself, gave him specific authority to investigate "the alleged unauthorized disclosure of a CIA employee's identity," according to another letter from Comey posted on the Web site.

"The fact that he [Fitzgerald] asked for authority that he probably already had, but wanted spelled out, makes it arguable that he had run into something rather quickly," Washington lawyer Plato Cacheris said yesterday.