Monday, December 17, 2007

because when given the choice

people won't pay to be lied to:

the auction for karl rove's memoir drags on a month after the republican strategist made the rounds of publishers with washington power lawyer robert barnett at his side.

"it's very, very slow," says an executive at one of the few houses left in the bidding. early reports had predicted a $3 million sale, but some insiders are wondering if mr. barnett has had trouble getting to that number. he declined to comment.

Friday, December 14, 2007

quote of the day

from ex-republican1-turned-democrat john cole @ balloon juice:

this is starting to turn into a ritual:
dissatisfied with the debate here wednesday that drew widespread scorn, iowa republicans will discuss on friday the possibility of holding another forum before the january 3rd caucuses.

the debate this week, sponsored by the des moines register and iowa public television, was to have been the final gathering of the gop contenders, but one well-placed iowa republican said tonight that they were interested in getting the candidates back together.

"we'd prefer if the register debate did not leave a bad taste," said this source, who requested anonymity. "iowa deserves a little better than that."

at some point, maybe after a few more debates, they are going to realize the problem is not the debate format, or the moderator, or the youtube videos, or the "drive-by media," or whatever else they will come up with to fool themselves. the problem is that the candidates suck.

at any rate, i agree — iowa does deserve better. so does the rest of the country. which is why i am not voting republican next year.

1 read about john's halloween transformation @ "say hello to the newest member of the vast left wing conspiracy"

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

time is not on your side

as with most of the blogosphere, i've been watching over the last two weeks the not-so-slow-motion trainwreck of joe klein's "well beyond stupid" hit piece on the democrats' restore act and time magazine's craven and clownish defense of klein — even after klein stopped defending himself — as doggedly documented by glenn greenwald:

although i've posted nothing to date of my own on the fiasco, i sympathized with those who voiced continued frustration with the democrats' puzzling silence in the face of yet another fact-free and callow smear. such silence only contributes to the ongoing right-wing narrative of left-wing weakness. to date, i can recall only one response from any democratic official, that of rep. rush holt of new jersey, one of the bill's authors: what's really in the restore act.

well it seems that the silence of the democrats was not due to any clichéd lack of spine on their part, as glenn revealed today in yet another revelatory post: time magazine refused to publish responses to klein's false smears:

sen. russ feingold submitted a letter to time protesting the false statements in klein's article. but time refused to publish it. sen. feingold's spokesman said that the letter "was submitted to time very shortly after klein's column ran but the letters department was about as responsive as the column was accurate."

feingold was not the only democrat getting stiff-armed — incredible as it is to believe, every democrat who tried to get a hearing on time's pages was ignored:

rep. rush holt — before he published his response in the huffington post detailing klein's false claims — asked that he be given the opportunity to respond to klein's false column directly on time's swampland, where klein was in the process of making all sorts of statements compounding his errors. but time also denied rep. holt the opportunity to bring his response to the attention of time's readers.

a letter was also sent to time jointly from house judiciary committee chairman john conyers and house intelligence committee chairman silvestre reyes. although they communicated with time in advance and advised them that the letter was coming, time has not published this letter either. [empasis mine]

and while time is free to publish whatever it deems fit on its letters pages,

at least 100 individuals wrote letters to time's editors protesting klein's article and responding to its claims. i know this because that's how many people (at least) cc'd me on their letters, forwarded them to me, and/or copied their letters to the editor in the comment section here. managing editor rick stengel's voice mail and email box overflowed with responses.

nonetheless, time — while publishing 15 separate letters on a whole array of topics in its print edition this week — did not see fit to publish a single letter about the klein falsehoods. at every step, they sought to hide from their readers — and continue to hide from their readers — just how outrageous and severe were klein's false statements by suppressing all responses. [empasis mine]

these latests revelations simply boggle the mind. the ever-more-deeping corruption of time magazine is once again laid bare. i would daresay that, without a wholesale change in management, time's reputation is now irrecoverably damaged.

i would urge those who care (a group that does not include myself, since i do not read time) to let time know what you think of their complete surrender to the dark side, but as glenn has demonstrated yet again, it's clear that they don't care either.

greenwald v. klein and time magazine

the tone-deaf democrats by joe klein
too many of them — in congress and the presidential campaign — still don't get national security.

joe klein: both factually false and stuck in the 1980s
the time pundit spouts pro-capitulation advice to democrats that is as obsolete as it is grounded in falsehoods.

time magazine's fisa fiasco shows how beltway reporters mislead the country
joe klein passed on outright gop lies about the house democratic fisa bill to 4 million time readers and now obscures what happened.

time magazine lavishly rewards journalistic malpractice
the newsweekly's behavior under managing editor rick stengel enthusiastically promotes fact-free journalism.

joe klein digs time's hole deeper still
the still-uncorrected errors in the time article are made far worse by klein's ongoing deceit.

demand answers from time magazine
the time editors responsible for joe klein's "shameful journalism" arrogantly refuse to account for what they did.

everything that is rancid and corrupt with modern journalism: the nutshell
time's "correction" reads like satire.

bad stenographers
referring to the role played by our establishment press as stenography is truly an insult to the work of professional stenographers.

time tries again
the editors went today and corrected yesterday's correction. they should keep trying.

the chicago tribune vs. time magazine
the newspaper clearly and unequivocally states that joe klein's statements were false. update: gop rep. pete hoekstra outs himself as klein's source.

time magazine refused to publish responses to klein's false smears
both sen. feingold and rep. holt asked to respond to joe klein's falsehoods. both were blocked from doing so.


protecting privacy by sen. russ feingold
klein calls the democrats' position on reforming the foreign intelligence surveillance act "well beyond stupid" but without getting his facts straight.

setting the record straight on fisa by rep. john conyers
a comprehensive and detailed response to the president's accusations of obstruction, the misinformation in the time magazine column, and the debate over warrantless surveillance.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

phasers optional

just in time for christmas: an idea that might at first seem wholly gratuitous but may actually be centuries ahead of its time ...

for just two hundred bucks, you can mount a flat-screen tv to the tow hitch of your pickup truck, making it possible to carry your expensive television close to the rock-strewn asphalt. but hey, at least when you get to the stadium parking lot for a little tailgating action, you can commiserate about your busted tv with your buddies.

quoth seemsartless:

and now we finally have a CLOAKING DEVICE — put a camera on the front of a small car, plugged into a large enough screen on the back, and the car disappears to people behind it.

or augment reality and pick the vehicle you want displayed — sports car, hovercraft, donkey cart. the possibilities are endless (as would be the increase in your insurance premiums, i imagine).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

coalition of the wilting

courtesy of

the defeated
countryleaderelectoral fate
albaniaf. nanovoted out, 7/05
australiaj. howardvoted out, 11/07
dom. rep.h. mejia d.voted out, 5/04
hungaryp. medgyessyvoted out, 8/04
italys. berlusconivoted out, 4/06
norwayk.m. bondevikvoted out, 9/05
romaniaa, năstasevoted out, 11/04
spainj.m. aznarvoted out, 3/04

the departed
countryleaderelectoral fate
britaint. blairbowed out, 6/07
el salvadorf.f. pereztimed out, 3/04
japanj. koizumibowed out, 9/06
polanda. kwaśniewskitimed out, 12/05

the dead-enders
denmarka.f. rasmussenheaded out, 2/07
s. korear. moo-hyunchillin' out

if looks could kill

a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, so the saying goes, especially in the hands of headline-hungry popular science writers, who claimed this weekend that we're killing the universe merely by looking at it:

new scientist reports a worrying new variant as the cosmologists claim that astronomers may have provided evidence that the universe may ultimately decay by observing dark energy, a mysterious anti gravity force which is thought to be speeding up the expansion of the cosmos.

the claim was sensational enough to merit an immediate debunking, and a thumping solid enough to force the theory's authors into a hasty retreat. so i needn't go into a rebuttal here.

i just want to address a pet peeve of mine regarding the ongoing abuse of the observer effect, one the most misunderstood concepts of modern science:

in science, the term observer effect refers to changes that the act of observing will make on the phenomenon being observed. for example, for us to "see" an electron, a photon must first interact with it, and this interaction will change the path of that electron. it is also theoretically possible for other, less direct means of measurement to affect the electron; even if the electron is simply put into a position where observing it is possible, without actual observation taking place, it will still (theoretically) alter its position.

(that last bit deserves translation: interaction is not dependent on the observer — or in other words, the universe will go on working without you! doh!)

to illustrate, if the observer himself set the abovementioned photon in motion with the use of say, a flashlight, then we can say the observer effect is indeed at work in this instance. however, if that photon was set in motion by ambient radiation (i.e., from the sun), then there is no observer effect and the observer is merely the fortunate recipent of the largesse of his environs. lastly, that ambient radiation will continue to interact with objects whether or not an observer is present to witness the interaction.

the idea that a person can effect something by merely observing it has been found extremely appealing to folks attracted to new age metaphysics and paranormal phenomenon, such as karma and telekinesis or telepathy. it gives them a high-sounding and sufficiently mystifying scientific principle onto which to hang what is still charitably considered pseudoscience.

this appeal is misplaced because the term "observation" as misused by paranormalists is clearly synonymous with the ordinary use of our eyes, which are not flashlights, but only passive recipients of photons. in science the term "observation" has a clearly more restrictive use (note the quotation marks enclosing the term "see" in the definition above, indicating that we are not talking about ordinary sight).

for example, for us to "see" an electron, a photon must first interact with it ...

because scientists often use the term "observation" synonymously with the term "measurement", paranormalists have been able to cleverly substitute a passive everyday experience for a far more involved, specialized and active process. but the act of "observation", especially in the realm of quantum mechanics, which operates only on the subatomic scale, means anything but a passive occurrence, and involves — like almost every scientific endeavorthe direct manipulation of the objects being measured, using specialized devices like particle accelerators:

... a more mundane observer effect can be the result of instruments that by necessity alter the state of what they measure in some manner. for instance, in electronics, ammeters and voltmeters need to be connected to the circuit, and so by their very presence affect the current or the voltage they are measuring.

so not only does ordinary passive observation by itself not affect that which is observed, any effects that are observed by any means can be traced to strictly physical causes.

so all you swamis can stop looking at me funny now.

it's not working.

Friday, November 23, 2007

a critical mass of cool

what digby said:

kennedy's legacy has been revised more often in the fewest years than probably any president in history. looking back, he falls short in many more ways than we all believed when i was young. he was a cold warrior to the bone and his actions sometimes failed to match his rhetoric. he was in office in very trying times with a very thin mandate.

but after the past few years of crazed chickenhawk neocons lifting his rhetoric of freedom and democracy to promote unprovoked wars of aggression, i came to especially appreciate his cool reaction to his biggest challenge — the cuban missile crisis. imagine if bush had been in office when that happened. well, we don't have to, really. we know what they did after 9/11 and it certainly wasn't this:

to help him decide what to do about the cuban situation, and how much risk to run of a nuclear exchange, kennedy assembled a small group that came to be called the executive committee of the national security council — or excomm for short. early in his presidency, kennedy had had to make a decision about a cia plan to land cuban exiles at the bay of pigs, in cuba, with the hope that these exiles would overthrow cuba's communist government, headed by fidel castro. kennedy had asked for advice about this from only a handful of people — those he knew he was officially obliged to consult. the operation proved to be a fiasco, and afterwards kennedy had resolved in future to consult more widely.

included in the excomm were the regular participants in national security council meetings, plus kennedy's brother, the attorney general robert kennedy, and the president's chief speechwriter, the white house counsel theodore sorensen. both of these men could help kennedy to think about the domestic political aspects of the crisis. the president also invited several other key advisors to join the group: c douglas dillon, who had held high posts under eisenhower and who gave kennedy a link to the republican leadership; dean acheson and robert lovett, who had served under president harry truman and could help kennedy see the current crisis in longer historical perspective; and a former ambassador to the soviet union, llewellyn (tommy) thompson, probably the person in the president's circle who was best acquainted with khrushchev.


in the first day's debates, everyone favoured bombing cuba. the only differences concerned the scale of attack. kennedy, bundy, and some others spoke of a 'surgical strike' solely against the missile sites. 'it corresponds to "the punishment fits the crime" in political terms', said bundy. others joined the chiefs of staff in insisting that an attack should also take out air defence sites and bombers, so as to limit losses of us aircraft and prevent an immediate air reprisal against us bases in florida.

by the third day, 18 october, another option had come to the fore. the under secretary of state, george ball, had commented that a us surprise attack on cuba would be '... like pearl harbor. it's the kind of conduct that one might expect of the soviet union. it is not conduct that one expects of the united states.' robert kennedy and secretary of state dean rusk concurred, rusk observing that the decision-makers could carry 'the mark of cain' on their brows for the rest of their lives. to meet this concern and to obtain time for gaining support from other nations, there developed the idea of the president's publicly announcing the presence of soviet missiles in cuba, ordering a blockade to prevent the introduction of further missiles, and demanding that the soviets withdraw the missiles already there. (both for legal reasons and for resonance with franklin roosevelt's 'quarantine address' of 1937, the term 'quarantine' was substituted for 'blockade'.)

to those of kennedy's advisers who still favoured quick use of military force (the 'hawks' in later classification), this quarantine constituted an ultimatum. if khrushchev did not capitulate within a day or two, a us air attack on cuba would follow, followed before long by an invasion. for those in the excomm who would later be classed as 'doves,' the quarantine bought time for possibly developing some diplomatic solution.


on 26-27 october, the crisis came to a head. khrushchev cabled kennedy that he was prepared to remove missiles from cuba in return for a us promise not to invade cuba — a promise that had already been given more than once. but, just as kennedy and his excomm began to discuss a response, khrushchev broadcast from moscow a second message saying the missiles would be removed if, in addition, the united states withdrew nuclear missiles and other 'offensive means' from turkey.

the second khrushchev message provoked furious debate. with ball in the lead, kennedy's advisers said almost unanimously that khrushchev's new condition was unacceptable. america's nato allies would think the united states was sacrificing their security for the sake of its own. kennedy alone seemed unconvinced. when ball said, 'if we talked to the turks ... this would be an extremely unsettling business', kennedy replied with asperity, 'well, this is unsettling now, george, because ... most people would regard this as not an unreasonable proposal ... i think you're going to have it very difficult to explain why we are going to take hostile military action in cuba ... when he's saying, "if you'll get yours out of turkey, we'll get ours out of cuba."'.

'what kennedy wanted was to mollify khrushchev without seeming to make a concession, and above all to avoid any prolonged negotiations.'

in the end, kennedy found a way to finesse the situation. he sent robert kennedy to see the soviet ambassador, anatoly dobrynin, to tell him that the missiles in turkey were obsolete, and that the us planned to pull them out within about six months. all this was true. he said further, however, that, if the soviet union used this knowledge to claim that the us had struck the deal proposed in khrushchev's radio message, kennedy would deny the claim and would not remove the missiles from turkey. what kennedy wanted was to mollify khrushchev without seeming to make a concession, and above all to avoid any prolonged negotiations. he had to insist that soviet missiles come out of cuba unconditionally, or he would compromise the display of firmness that he judged necessary to protect against a berlin crisis.

in fact, the exchange between robert kennedy and dobrynin had no effect. khrushchev had already decided to retreat to a simple request for a no invasion pledge. and the crisis ended on that basis. us reconnaissance aircraft kept watch while the soviets dismantled their missiles and loaded the parts on ships for return to the soviet union.

this threat was far, far greater than the threat of islamic terrorism where their weapon of mass destruction were hijacked airliners and box cutters. we were *this close* to nuclear war. the president himself was in charge and intelligent enough to seek advice from a range of people and analyze the situation with a clear dispassionate eye in the middle of a crisis. as that excerpt from the bbc shows, the initial reaction was to bomb first and ask questions later. it's probably human. but leaders of a great country, with massive military power, have an obligation to look beyond their understandable human reaction. kennedy, cold warrior though he was, had a nimble, creative and serious mind and he was able to see beyond the emotional response to the bigger picture.

this stuff matters. it matters a great deal. in fact, as we look to choose our next president we may want to inform ourselves as to whether the candidates have those kennedyesque qualities at least with the same degree of interest we take in whether they wear earth tones or cackle when they laugh.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

that's insultainment

in•sul•tain•ment [in'sәl-tãn'mәnt]


print, broadcast or online content, especially when distributed by a commercial entity, that is so stultifyingly stupid and/or devoid of actual news or information that it can only be considered an insult to the intelligence of (and may — or should — even induce fits of rage in) the viewer.

origin: november 10, 2007 (you heard it here first, folks!): blend of insult and entertainment: my doctor tells me i need to start watching something other than the o'reilly factor. he says all that insultainment's no good for my blood pressure!

see also: infotainment.

stacy and laci peterson: the eerie similarities
(cbs) it's like deja vu all over again.

this missing woman might not be pregnant, but the similiarities in the stacey peterson and laci peterson cases are eerie at best.... and not just because of their names.

laci peterson

what the husband said: scott said laci took the dog for a walk.

murder in the first: police have been investigating whether a college student, kristin smart, who went to cal poly at the same time of scott peterson might have been murdered by him.

a watery grave: police found the remains of laci after they washed up in the san francsico bay. the remains of the couple's unborn son, connor, washed up days before.

in the family way: laci rocha peterson was eight months pregnant when she was killed on december 24, 2002.

i'm not guilty: scott peterson is on death row in san quentin for the murder of laci and their unborn child. he maintains his innocence.

ironically: laci's best friend, since third grade, was a woman named stacey (boyers.)

stacy peterson
what the husband said: drew said stacy left voluntarily.

murder in the first: police now think drew peterson might have had something to do with his third wife's (kathleen salvio) mysterious bathtub drowning.

a watery grave: search crews are still looking for stacy. they recently dredged a nearby lake but found nothing.

in the family way: stacy peterson had two children with her husband drew when she was reported missing.

i'm not guilty: while he was officially called a "suspect" on november 9th for the october 28th dissapearance of his wife, drew maintains his innocence.

ironically: stacy peterson has a daughter named lacey.

i see that whoever at cbs news filed this brain-free fluff had just enough sense of professional self-preservation not to sign it.

nonetheless they should be dragged out into the sunlight and roundly flogged for the crime alone of contributing to the further corruption of the much-abused term "ironically".

Saturday, November 03, 2007

save our diplomats!

... from dubya! please!

oaths, the constitution, and the u.s. embassy in iraq

the bush administration is taking a hard line on dragooning civilian foreign service officers into serving in the war zone of iraq. the article contains a quote by ambassador ryan crocker which says that the fso's swear an oath to serve anywhere in the world. this is not true. they swear an oath to uphold the constitution. they sign a contract that allows them to be posted anywhere. there is a difference, and the two documents may actually be in contradiction. for instance, what if the government did something unconstitutional and wanted to send you to support that action ... ?

another retired u.s. diplomat sent me this:

i am also a retired foreign service officer, and strongly second the view of the anonymous fso (retired) whom you cited in your column today. the issue really is not the commitment to world-wide service undertaken by fsos. the decision by the bush administration to not only keep an embassy open in a war zone, but increase its size to make it one of the largest in the world, is simply testimony to the madness of the entire iraq "adventure," and the fraudulent nature of the expressed rationale for our being there. most of the staff in this "embassy" do not speak the language and cannot act effectively as diplomats, even if that were the purpose in sending them there. but that is not the purpose. ...

the willingness of secretary rice, or dr. ferragamo as she is known on one satirical website, to continue supporting this war of occupation through this "embassy" and more broadly through her declaration of a new order known as "transformational diplomacy" simply confirms that she is not a "moderate" voice for diplomacy against the likes of dick cheney. diplomats do not "transform" other countries. they represent the interests of the u.s. to the governments and citizens of other, independent, countries.

again, please write your congressional representatives and senators, and contact your local democratic and republican party organizations, and urge them in the strongest terms to close down the us embassy in iraq. it has no business being there. it is under constant mortar and rocket attack, cannot actually conduct diplomacy, and is a thinly veiled viceregal palace intended to perpetuate bush's neo-colonialism.

to end the war, begin with what is possible. close the embassy. save our diplomats.

by the way, [this] is the sort of news still coming out of iraq every day, with 3 more us troops killed. that's a "lull"? and, see phillip carter on the dark side of the 'good news' about iraq. the fact is that it is still one of the most violent places on earth and the decline in fighting comes in part in baghdad because the city has gone from being 50/50 sunni and shiite to being 75% shiite, with much of this change having come in 2007 under the nose of the surge troops from the us.

diplomacy with iraq's neighbors can be done outside iraq better. diplomacy with iraqi politicians can still be pursued (most of them live outside the country anyway).

save the diplomats. save the world.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

turnips in the morning

it's what's for breakfast every day in iraq: today so far, six bodies turned up in baghdad, eight turned up in mosul, one turned up in kirkuk ...

(photo courtesy of InvisibleParadigm)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Thursday, October 18, 2007

welcome to nixon country

when richard nixon resigned in 1974 his approval rating was down to 23% ...

bush's approval at new low in reuters: 24 percent
by mark silva

president bush's approval rating has reached a new low in the newest reuters/zogby poll — with just 24 percent of those surveyed approving of bush's job performance. that is down from 29 percent last month.

it is lower than the latest register of bush's approval rating in the gallup poll — 32 percent in gallup's newest october survey.

the newest gauge arrives as president bush prepares for a press conference in the west wing this morning — at 10:40 am edt — and as the president prepares to fend off an override of his veto of an expansion of children's health care on capitol hilll tomorrow.

public approval for the job that congress is performing — 11 percent in the new survey — matches the all-time low that reuters found last month.

"deepening unhappiness with president george w. bush and the u.s. congress soured the mood of americans and sent bush's approval rating to another record low this month," reuters reports today.

"the reuters/zogby index," which measures the mood of the country, also fell from 98.8 to 96 — the second consecutive month in which it has dropped. the number of americans who believe the country is on the wrong track jumped four points to 66 percent.

"there is a real question among americans now about how relevant this government is to them," pollster john zogby said. "they tell us they want action on health care, education, the war and immigration, but they don't believe they are going to get it."

(video courtesy of rich garella)

i have a feeling that the former holder of the title of "the worst president in the nation's history" is sleeping less fitfully these days.

let's hope george doesn't forget to wave to harry on his way down; truman's approval rating had sunk to just 22% at the end of 1952 (though it did bounce back to 32% by the time he left office a year later).

Sunday, October 07, 2007

quote of the day

craigie @ sadly, no!:

i never get tired of reading how our beautiful, advanced civilization of love and fairness cannot survive unless we kill all the brown people while they sleep.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

a "small price" ... for whom?

courtesy of brendan @

if someone you love died in iraq, don’t expect sympathy from john boehner’s office

a new jersey family paying "a small price"

[ohio house republican] john boehner, playing golf

after reading john boehner's outrageous comments that our dead troops are a "small price to pay" to stop al qaeda in iraq (you know, the terrorists that weren't there until we destroyed iraq's civil society), i knew it was time for another phone call. but i didn't want to do my usual complaining thing: instead, i decided i would pose as a bereaved relative of a dead soldier.

blitzer: how much longer will u.s. taxpayers have to shell out $2 billion a week or $3 billion a week as some now are suggesting the cost is going to endure? the loss in blood, the americans who are killed every month, how much longer do you think this commitment, this military commitment is going to require?
boehner: i think general petraeus outlined it pretty clearly. we're making success. we need to firm up those successes. we need to continue our effort here because, wolf, long term, the investment that we're making today will be a small price if we're able to stop al qaeda here, if we're able to stabilize the middle east, it's not only going to be a small price for the near future, but think about the future for our kids and their kids.

unfortunately, his dc office won't speak to anyone calling from outside ohio, so i called his cincinatti office at (513) 779-5400.

"hello," i said, "my name is brendan skwire. i'm calling because my cousin had his head shot off in iraq and i was wondering if representative boehner [always, always pronounce it "boner"] thinks that was a small price to pay?"

"that's not what he said sir," said the woman on the other end of the line."

"yes it is," i replied, "i have it righ —"

"THAT'S NOT WHAT HE SAID," she repeated in all capital letters.

"with all due respect ma'am, my cousin had his head shot off, leaving behind a widow and two children, one of who is an infant, and you're ARGUING with a grieving relative? i read what your boss said."

"that's not what he said. what he MEANT was that given all the money we've spent so far the deaths of our soldiers is a small price if we want to win ..." it was unbelievable. this dumb cluck actually thinks we stand a shot at winning in iraq, never mind reducing human beings to nothing more than a matter of dollars. i wanna play poker with this idiot.

"'win'? excuse me, but everyone except general petraeus thinks we're losing, including the gao and including petraeus's own boss admiral fallon at cent com."

"sir, it's a small price to pay ..."

and then the shouting match began "do you have any class?" "it's not what he meant" "my cousin lost her" "NOT WHAT HE "husband, has no idea how she's going" IT'S NOT WHAT HE MEANT "to pay for childcare or how" IT'S NOT WHAT HE "she's going to raise the kids alone, and is out of her mind" ITS NOT WHAT HE "with grief. and you call this a small price to pay?"

"it's not what he meant sir."

"oh, ok then. so it's a small price to pay. how many of john boehner's kids are signed up for iraq, can you tell me that?"

big pause. VERY big pause.

"I can't tell you that sir."

"mmm, i'll bet," i replied. "you know WHY you can't tell me that? BECAUSE NONE OF JOHN BOEHNER'S KIDS ARE SIGNED UP FOR IRAQ. NOT ONE. when do the boehners pay THEIR small price?"

"sir, i have to go now."

"and the worst part of this is, you spent half this conversation talking over me, arguing with someone who's lost a family member in the war your boss supports. that's real classy."

click. she hung up the phone. a dollar says she doesn't have any children in iraq either.

the party family values, my ass: try the party of immoral sociopaths and criminals.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007

gang of perps

curry: well, let's talk about the political fallout. first it's been a rough year for the right. let's list them: congressman mark foley, conservative pastor ted haggard, senator david vitter. all involved in scandals, accusing them of inappropriate conduct. so the question's gotta be asked, why do these kinds of scandals seem to be following republicans, lately?
scarborough: what's with the republican party? and before that you can talk about duke cunningham apparently having poker parties where reports were that they were trading votes for sex. i don't know.

you can talk about the closeted republican that votes like larry craig, that votes for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage or votes against protections for discriminating against gays in the workplace. perhaps they are more closeted, perhaps the republican party does not allow gay members to win their primaries.

so maybe these guys have to live these secret lives where on the democratic side, you've got democrats — i think it, it comes down to hypocrisy. mainly where you have democrats that will support same-sex marriage or civil unions and will fight to stop discrimination in the workplace against gays and lesbians.

because of that there are the issues of hypocrisy that follow republicans around, whether you're talking about david vitter or whether you're talking about larry craig or whether you're talking about mark foley.

curry: well the question, i think is, you know, how does this specter of hypocrisy affect the party, especially as we're now moving into a very critical time for the republican party facing this presidential election year?
scarborough: well it's, it's very simple. you know, last year people were talking about the war, they were talking about runaway deficit spending but the bottom-line is, with the republicans that i spoke to, after the mark foley scandal broke, they looked at each other and said, "well, that's it. we're gonna have a democratic senate and we're gonna have a democratic house and because of mark foley, nancy pelosi is gonna be speaker of the house."

so, of course, you can't blame mark foley for everything but there were these scandals following jack abramoff, following duke cunningham. following —

curry: point taken, joe, but what's the impact going to be if that's what happened after mark foley came, faced the scandal? what's going to happen now, regarding, after this senator's, what he's facing.
scarborough: well — it's not, it's not a good impact. it's not gonna have a great impact on idaho. i think, you know, i just don't think a democrat can be elected for the u.s. senate in idaho but larry craig's career is probably over. the former 'singing senator' is gonna be singing alone in idaho, probably next year.

but the bigger impact with the republican party in america will be like the tory party in great britain when they had one sex scandal after another. there is a sleaze, an element of sleaze that will hang over this party. because, again, we had the david vitter scandal a couple of months ago. the two sex scandals, this year, have involved republicans, conservative, pro-family, pro-life republicans.

curry: it's also interesting to note, joe, that senator craig has been a co-liaison to the, in the senate, for the mitt romney campaign.
scarborough: yeah.
curry: so the question is, also, is this gonna spill over?
scarborough: well you know, i don't think anybody would blame mitt romney for what larry craig did in a bathroom in minneapolis because of larry craig's, as he says, "unusually wide-stance." [touché, joe!] that he wasn't sending signals. but what this does bring up for mitt romney is a problem about his flip-flops. his flip-flops on abortion, his flip-flops on gun control and his flip-flop on gay rights. so, you have a guy like larry craig, who's on your campaign, at least for 24 hours in this news cycle, will raise questions. well, mitt romney do you support same-sex marriage this week or do you oppose same-sex marriage this week? and i suspect after that it'll all blow over.

the biggest problem, though, again, has to do with hypocrisy and the republican party. and right now you've got larry craig linked with mark foley, linked with david vitter, linked with duke cunningham going, my gosh, i think every sex scandal in washington d.c., since bill clinton and monica lewinsky has involved a republican. and that has to have an impact and may break the republican party, again, just a little bit more away from its evangelical base.

curry: and, and joe, i was gonna remind people, you are a republican. you are a former republican congressman, so those are very strong words and opinion from you. joe scarborough, thank you so much this morning.
scarborough: always good to remind my republican friends, that yes i am a republican. doesn't sound like it. thanks a lot.

the g.o.p. most definitely have a big problem dogging them into the next election cycle, but hypocrisy on family values and gay issues is really just a small part of it. american voters can deal with hypocrisy. and like most other people, most homosexuals don't lurk in public bathrooms, so just being gay isn't a problem for republicans as long as it's on the down low.

no, the big problem for the gang of perps in washington is criminality. über-lobbyist jack abramoff is in prison for fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion. former ca. rep. duke cunningham is with him for bribery. former fla. rep. mark foley may be looking at charges for corrupting minors, under some of the same statutes he helped enact.

louisiana senator david vitter frequented prostitutes. florida state rep. bob allen is facing charges for solicitation of prostitution, while idaho senator larry craig plead guilty to disorderly conduct to avoid charges of lewd conduct.

scarborough tossed in the lewinsky affair in a feeble attempt for balance, but sex between consenting adults still isn't criminal behavior, so the gang of perps tried to hang clinton on perjury. but lewinsky did not create a problem for the democrats at the end of the clinton era — the democrats' own timidity under fire from the right-wing noise machine™ was what undermined them.

so it's the steady stream of arrests, trials and convictions that's killing the g.o.p. and it's the accompanying "sleaze" that's souring their brand for the voters. and as long as the gang of perps keep turning up on the wrong side of the law, the party that once boasted of a permanent majority will remain locked up as a permanent minority.

Monday, August 27, 2007

another one bites the dust

(art by aarrgghh)

gonzales bids hasta la vista.

what's striking to me is how little sadness there is on the right that he is leaving. a quick look over at "the corner" shows that most conservatives there view his departure with relief. michelle malkin wasn't upset to seem him go either. a quick blogosphere check shows that most on the right are okay with this decision.

but i wonder why republicans and wingnuts aren't angry about gonzo's departure. gonzalez has been radioactive for months now. he became the walking symbol of the bush administration's failures — incompetence, corruption and cronyism (loyalty uber alles).

for him to resign now — after the disastrous appearances on the hill, after his deceptions, after stubbornly refusing to do so months ago when it could have stemmed the tide — well, it seems like defusing a bomb after it had already gone off. it's like rumsfeld all over again.

this departure brings back memories of the phrase, the mayberry machiavellis. bush and friends seem intent on going down hard and taking the gop with them.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

i died in iraq

from texas: a report from beyond the grave ... ?

rockport man among 14 soldiers killed in iraq chopper crash

corpus christi, texas (ap) — a 23-year-old coastal bend man says he's been identified as one of 14 soldiers killed in a helicopter crash in iraq this week.

rockport police chief tim jayroe is a friend of garrett mclead's family. he says the army has told the family that the 2002 rockport-fulton high school grad was among those killed in yesterday's crash of a blackhawk helicopter.

most of the 14 soldiers killed in the crash in northern iraq were based in hawaii, while several others were from washington state. the military says mechanical trouble likely took down the chopper, not hostile fire.

the army hasn't released the names of those killed in the crash, which was part of the pentagon's worst single-day death toll in iraq since january. the military said it appeared the aircraft was lost by mechanical problems and not from hostile fire.

... or just sloppy editing?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

dubya foreign policy 101

josh marshall:

even more interesting is another argument president bush is poised to make: namely, that vietnam is more than just an analogy. he will argue that the terrorist threat we face today is in some measure the result of our withdrawal from vietnam, as it emboldened the terrorists to attack us.
the president will also make the argument that withdrawing from vietnam emboldened today's terrorists by compromising u.s. credibility, citing a quote from al qaeda leader osama bin laden that the american people would rise against the iraq war the same way they rose against the war in vietnam, according to the excerpts.
i'm not sure i've ever seen a better example of president bush's comically inept strategic thinking. actually, lack of strategic thinking. i'm sure you've noticed how, as the president's policies go further and further down the drain, he more and more often cites the authority of osama bin laden as the rationale for his policies. in this case, we must stay in iraq forever wasting money and lives and destroying our position in the world because if we don't we'll have proved osama bin laden right.

it's like a very sad version of a sixty year old falling for that dingbat head fake ten year olds used to play when i was a kid in elementary school in which:

  • kid a says he wants the football
  • kid b says, 'fine, but if you take the football, you're gay.'
  • and then kid a stalks off hopelessly bamboozled and unable to parry this paralyzing riddle.
apparently we have permanently ceded our foreign policy to the whim of osama bin laden's taunts.

josh's schoolyard analogy is amusing, but it's actually not quite accurate, especially if the football is intended to represent u.s. withdrawal from iraq.

bush clearly intends to stay in iraq until the end of his term, if no one forces him out, an event which, at this late stage, seems less and less likely. so bush clearly doesn't want the football. it's the other kids in the yard, the good, sensible, tired, restless public, who really want the football and have been badgering poor dubya to get it for them.

bush's vietnam analagy is just one more in an endless (at least until january 2009) series of lame excuses for not getting the football that everyone else wants but dubya has no intention of delivering.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

outgrowing the "grown-ups"

i used to believe that a lot of these people were just talking over my head, their discourse too lofty for a regular guy like myself. but that isn't true. they're just stupid.

— oliver willis, "margaret carlson had a column to fill"

funny thing — while i cannot point to a specific time or day or season, by the time i left high school i had reached this same epiphany about all the figures that had been held before me as authorities: parents and teachers and all those they pointed to as "leaders".

while i would hestitate to call them to a person all stupid, at the heart of my transformation was the realization that, despite what i had been brought up to believe and had dutifully absorbed as a force of nature, like the pull of the earth, these purportedly omniscient beings were actually no more intelligent than i was. that the politicos and the pundits who propagandized the iraq war — and who even at this late date continue to debase our public discourse — are now openly mocked as "grown-ups", "very serious people" and "the wise old men of washington" is no product of simple bush-deranged whimsy.

ironically, i considered my development to have been one true sign that i had reached a degree of maturity. except that i didn't become one of the "grown-ups".

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sunday, July 29, 2007

warrentless wiretaps 101

the cliff notes edition, courtesy of duncan black (aka atrios @ eschaton):

look, all the parsing of statements is a waste of time. they were eavesdropping on whoever they wanted to without any warrants or oversight. whether or not "whoever they wanted to" included, say, the john kerry campaign or markos moulitsas is still an open question. they obviously claimed the power to do so, it just isn't clear if they did it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

ioiytus 1

juan cole:

meanwhile, the voice of america reports that the bush administration will freeze the assets of persons or organizations that attempt to destabilize iraq. voa says:
president bush has signed an order that allows the u.s. government to block the assets of any person or group that threatens the stability of iraq.

the order exempts the united states.

either the voa copy writer is a little clueless or this person has a wicked, dry sense of humor.

recalling that the daily show host jon stewart recently remarked that "there is nothing the administration can do that is not ironic," i'm going to have to go with door number one, juan.

1 it's okay if you're the united states.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

aye, there's the rub

stephen colbert picks apart ben nelson, the last man standing of the democratic senators who still support the war in iraq:

colbert: how, uh — how would you change the game plan in iraq?
nelson: what we would do is transition the mission. ah, and that would include taking the combat troops out of fighting the civil war — or the sectarian violence, as you choose — ah, and redeploy them into certain areas. fighting al qaeda is one of them, in al anbar and all over. i think we have al qaeda on the run ...
colbert: so you wouldn't withdraw them? ... so you wouldn't, wouldn't withdraw them?
nelson: ... wouldn't be withdrawing —
colbert: why wouldn't you withdraw them?
nelson: — them. we wouldn't, wouldn't withdraw ... we wouldn't try to micromange the war. you would just change the mission. you'd also, ah, redeploy the troops to the, ah, to the borders, to protect the borders in case ...
colbert: but what if the president doesn't want to do that?
nelson: well ... that's the problem. the president doesn't want to do that.

hmm ... yes, that would be a bit of problem, now wouldn't it, ben?

without overlooking the illogic in ...

(a) nelson's cutely-alliterative "transition the mission" game plan, which sounds less like a strategy for victory than another attempt to find busywork for keeping the overstretched troops in iraq and

(b) his argument against withdrawal, which he frames as "micromanaging the war" (while eloquently borrowing one of the republicans' favorite talking points). but wouldn't withdrawal unequivocably end our involvement in the quagmire, thereby leaving us nothing to "micromanage" ... ? doh!

... i want to applaud this comedian for confronting nelson with the grand conceit afflicting all the armchair generals who think they have the grand strategy for iraq (even if they do).

and that grand conceit is this: that their plans mean squat if the commander-guy isn't going to implement them. so what's the point of supporting this war one day longer if it's never going to be waged in the way that you think will win it?

i've been carping on this point for a while:

unfortunately (and i do say this with the utmost respect to all those who have been applying the necessary brain-power and wisdom that's been heretofore lacking in this debate) all these plans represent nothing more than idle academic masturbation. they're all quite pointless. and that's why you'll find no trademarked and patented "aarrgghh plan" on this site.

because unless the first step in your grand strategy reads:

my grand strategy for iraq
by carping know-it-all


remove george bush and dick cheney from office.

... then your plan is nothing but toilet paper.

because unless you're willing to let events continue to spiral for at least another two years, george bush will give your precious plan all the due consideration he gave to the over-anticipated iraq study group report — that is, as steve gilliard remarked, he'll "wipe his ass" with it.

which leaves us with only one plan — the only one that matters — the kagan plan, more fondly known as "the surge" ...

it's a point that i've been taking to other blogs:

probably the biggest conceit of those cheerleading the "surge", whatever their particular reasons, is the illusion that getting one more bite of the apple means that the occupation will be finally getting it right this time, whatever that ultimately means. the surge, they insist, will work as long as [fill in your personal cure-all here ], and as long as we give it time.

the reality of course is that the surge cheerleaders are not in charge. they're not going to get the chance to run the type of surge they think will finally produce that pony.

the folks in charge are the same criminals, starting with the commander-guy, responsible for the mess-o'-potamia, and they really don't care what anyone else thinks. and they certainly won't be applying [ your personal cure-all ] to the problem.

it's been oft said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, but the real insanity of supporting this escalation is expecting the same idiots, with such a record of failure, to do anything different.

nothing will change as long as they are in charge. which means either another year and a half before even preparing for withdrawal — or impeachment now.

unfortunately, as long as fantasists like nelson remain in congress, this will be a point i'll have to keep jabbing in people's eyes for the foreseeable future. at least somebody with a megaphone is finally helping out.

Friday, July 13, 2007

comment of the day

crooks and liars: state rep. bob allen, a co-chair of republican presidential candidate john mccain’s florida campaign, is expected to address thursday charges that he offered to perform oral sex on an undercover male police officer for $20.

quoth joementum:

the sad thing is, at $20 a hummer, he was probably mccain’s best fund-raiser 1.

1 to be fair, it was allen that allegedly offered to pay for the privilege (which could explain why mccain's campaign coffers are just about empty ...)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

it's not easy being green

... in fact, it "sucks big time."

(image © will sherman)

juan cole: on tuesday, guerrillas launched some 20 katyusha rockets and mortar shells into the green zone in downtown baghdad, killing 3 persons, including a us soldier, and wounding 25 persons.

the green zone was originally supposed to be the safe place in iraq, with the area outside it (everything else) called the "red zone." the us embassy in baghdad appears to have forgotten what the phrase "green zone" means, since a spokesman there told [the la times], "there's fire into the green zone virtually every day, so i can't draw any conclusions about the security situation based on that ..."

let me draw the conclusion. if you've got fire into the friggin' green zone every day, then we can draw the conclusion that the security situation in baghdad sucks big time. when you've got people killed and a large number of people wounded in the one place in iraq that was supposed to have a "permissive" security environment, then security in general is the pits.

now you might say that we can't draw many conclusions from the events of a single day. and, being able to lob mortar shells over a wall doesn't speak to that much organization. but then what about these two nuggets in [the la times] story?

1) there were about 39 attacks [on the green zone] in may, compared with 17 in march, according to a u.n. report.

2) tuesday's attack came the same day gunmen kidnapped iraqi police col. mahmoud muhyi hussein, who directs security inside the green zone ...

in other words, the security situation in the green zone is spiralling down at an alarming pace, and the guerrillas have such good inside knowledge that they can kidnap the very person responsible for security in it, as he drives in jadiriya. that, my friends, is an inside job. and such an inside job doesn't bode well for future security in the green zone. for one thing, presumably they are "debriefing" col. hussein as we speak, looking for weak points.

people i know and respect are in the green zone, so i'm pretty distressed by this situation, and not amused by the embassy spokesman's attempt to blow smoke up our posteriors. this looks bad.

no soup for you!

now this is creative ...

ap: a senate appropriations panel chaired by sen. richard durbin, d-ill., refused to fund $4.8 million in the vice president’s budget until cheney’s office complies with parts of an executive order governing its handling of classified information.

at issue is a requirement that executive branch offices provide data on how much material they classify and declassify. that information is to be provided to the information security oversight office at the national archives.

cheney’s office, with backing from the white house, argues that the offices of the president and vice president are exempt from the order because they are not executive branch "agencies."

the funding cut came as the appropriations panel approved 5-4 along party lines a measure funding white house operations, the treasury department and many smaller agencies.

durbin, the no. 2 democrat in the senate, said cheney’s office was flouting requirements that it comply with the reporting requirements on classified information.

"neither mr. cheney or his staff is above the law or the constitution," durbin said. "for the vice president to believe that he has no responsibility to meet this requirement of the law is a dereliction of duty."

Thursday, July 05, 2007

comment of the day

from the washington post, whose editors still don't believe we've heard all the relevant facts about john edwards' $400 haircut, the man behind the scissors and sassoon is feeling a bit let down:

beverly hill stylist joseph torrenueva: i'm disappointed and I do feel bad. if i know someone, i'm not going to say i don't know them ... when he called me "that guy," that hit my ears. it hurt.

quoth legalize @ tpm cafe's election central:

dude, get over yourself. you cut the man's hair; it's not like you massaged each other and did meth together in denver hotel rooms. sheesh.

Monday, July 02, 2007

scooter skates

josh marshall: there is a conceivable argument — a very poor one but a conceivable one — for pardoning scooter libby, presumably on the argument that the entire prosecution was political and thus illegitimate. but what conceivable argument does the president have for micromanaging the sentence? to decide that the conviction is appropriate, that probation is appropriate, that a substantial fine is appropriate — just no prison sentence.

this is being treated in the press as splitting the difference, an elegant compromise. but it is the least justifiable approach. the president has decided that the sentencing guidelines and the opinion of judge don't cut it.

the only basis for this decision is that libby is the vice president's friend, the vice president rules the president and this was the minimum necessary to keep the man silent.

no bail? no-brainer!

(art © mike luckovich)

tpmmuckraker: it sounds like it wasn't even close. the decision by the court was unanimous, the ap reports, while reuters says "the appeals court rejected libby's request in a one-paragraph order, ruling he has not shown that his appeal 'raises a substantial question.'"

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

doubled down

(photo-edit by dave hill)

and meanwhile, brick by brick, the house that jack built continues to fall ... painfully.

new york times: a federal judge chastised the interior department's former no. 2 official and doubled his proposed prison term to 10 months tuesday for lying to senators in the jack abramoff lobbying scandal and making excuses about it in court.

j. steven griles, who was the department's deputy secretary, had pleaded guilty to obstructing a congressional investigation, and a federal judge said he continued to make excuses about his lies.

"even now you continue to minimize and try to excuse your conduct," u.s. district judge ellen segal huvelle told griles before doubling the five-month person prison term he and prosecutors had agreed on.

griles admitted to lying to senate investigators about his relationship with abramoff, the central figure in a corruption investigation that has led to convictions of a former congressman, legislative aides, lobbyists and officials in the bush administration.

griles had asked to be spared prison time. under his plea deal with prosecutors, the justice department recommended he serve five months in prison and five months in a halfway house or under house arrest.

asks atrios @ eschaton:

remind me how many clinton administration officials were convicted for acts they committed while in office?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

why jack bauer always gets his man

now i know justice antonin scalia has a great love for theatrics, but his recent use of a fictional tv character, tough guy government agent jack bauer of the popular series 24 (which i will disclose that i've never watched), to enthusicastically bolster his justification for torture as a crime-fighting tool, has left me wondering if the good judge has any sense at all of the profound irony he's just fallen victim to. (though in the classic use of irony the victim is always oblivious to his predicament — irony is the writer's gift to the reader.)

in fact, if i may allow myself to appropriate a tv personality of my own, it was the daily show's host jon stewart who remarked, in his report on the graceless exit of former deputy secretary of state randall tobias, a casualty of this spring's dc madam scandal, that "there is nothing the administration can do that is not ironic."

the globe and mail: senior judges from north america and europe were in the midst of a panel discussion about torture and terrorism law, when a canadian judge's passing remark — "thankfully, security agencies in all our countries do not subscribe to the mantra 'what would jack bauer do?'" — got the legal bulldog in judge scalia barking.

the conservative jurist stuck up for agent bauer, arguing that fictional or not, federal agents require latitude in times of great crisis. "jack bauer saved los angeles. ... he saved hundreds of thousands of lives," judge scalia said. then, recalling season 2, where the agent's rough interrogation tactics saved california from a terrorist nuke, the supreme court judge etched a line in the sand.

"are you going to convict jack bauer?" judge scalia challenged his fellow judges. "say that criminal law is against him? 'you have the right to a jury trial?' is any jury going to convict jack bauer? i don't think so.

"so the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. and ought we believe in these absolutes."

what should disturb everyone is that scalia takes import from the fact that jack bauer wins. jack bauer always gets his man. he saved california, fer chrissakes!!! and jack wins because he's willing to torture. it is of course the classic "ends justifies the means" argument, and disappointingly, not a particularly sophisticated example, considering that its source is supposed to be one of the smartest jurists in the country.

but how can scalia credit jack's willingness to torture for jack's success when the reality is that — and here is where the irony i so subtly foreshadowed kicks in — as a fictional character, jack's success or failure has absolutely nothing to do with the merits of anything he does but instead depends entirely on the desires of his scriptwriters!

the reality is that jack bauer has never saved anything or anybody. he's not real. bauer wins because the scriptwriters want him to. likewise, torture works only because the scriptwriters want it to.

in america's fight against terrorists, we don't need jack bauer. what this country needs are his scriptwriters.

torture has perhaps saved some at the expense of honour, by uncovering 30 bombs. but at the same time it has created 50 new terrorists.
— albert camus

Sunday, June 17, 2007


according to the urban dictionary (with a minor revision of my own):

a form of government with [an idiot] exercising absolute power and unrestricted control and regularly disregarding opinions, petitions or mandates of the people or elected representatives.

q:well, what do you say to critics who believe that you're ignoring the advice of retired generals, military commanders, who say that there needs to be a change?
bush:i say i listen to all voices, but mine's the final decision. and don rumsfeld is doing a fine job. he's not only transforming the military, he's fighting a- a- a war on terror. he's helping us fight a war on terror. i have strong confidence in don rumsfeld. i hear the voices, and i read the front page, and i know the speculation. but i'm the decider, and i decide what is best. and what's best is for don rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

do not pass "go"

(art © mike luckovich)

AP: a federal judge said thursday he will not delay a 2½-year prison sentence for i. lewis "scooter" libby in the cia leak case, a ruling that could send the former white house aide to prison within weeks.

... no date was set for libby to report to prison but it's expected to be within six to eight weeks. that will be left up to the u.s. bureau of prisons, which will also select a facility.

"unless the court of appeals overturns my ruling, he will have to report," walton said.

Friday, June 08, 2007

a moment of clarity

well yeah. i was just sitting here, eating my muffin, drinking my coffee, when i had what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity.

— hitman jules winnfield, pulp fiction (1994)


after spending the last six years crazy drunk on all fear all the time!®, has the mainstream media sobered up?

matthews: well, i'll tell ya one thing — i agree with what fareed zakaria wrote in newsweek this week, which is: terrorism isn't explosions and death. terrorism is when you change your society because of those explosions. and you become fearful to the point where you shut out immigration. you shut out student exchanges. you shut people out of buildings. you begin to act in almost a fascist manner because you're afraid of what might happen to you. that's when terrorism becomes real and frighteningly successful. that's what i believe, and that why i question the way giuliani has raised this issue. he raises it as a spectre. in a weird way he helps the bad guys.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


r.i.p. steve gilliard (1966-2007).

i did not know steve, but those who did say that his online papa-don't-take-no-mess analysis was matched only by his in-person charm. i agreed with a lot of what he wrote — and to that extent felt a certain kinship — and made reference to a number of his posts:

"we" are not amused

send in the clowns

a good old-fashioned space opera

my condolences to his friends and family.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

no halli-prisons, either

i'm starting to think that the white house, now that it's entering lame duck mode, is leaking executive orders for no other reason than to savor the sheer sadistic joy of scaring the bejeezus out of left blogistan every few days. and left blogistan never fails to deliver on the shrieks.

my previous post covered the latest presidential "finding" on iran and gave my reasons, once again, why we aren't going to be nuking iran tomorrow. it's probably no coincidence that washington and teheran thawed a 27-year diplomatic freeze in the same week this "finding" was leaked. "don't worry," seems to be the message to their fellow neocon war-mongers, "we're just putting on a show for the cameras ... we're still planning to screw these guys" — wink, wink.

now "national security presidential directive 51/homeland security presidential directive 20" has hit the internets and once again the old ladies are fanning their breasts because bush is apparently stealthily grabbing dictatorial emergency powers for himself. considering that the directives are posted on the white house web site, it's not much of a stealth move.

in fact, enough of a to-do was raised that the ordinarily agnostic investigative blogger josh marshall decided to invite a small panel of experts in law, government and civil rights to vet the directives. how scary were bush's orders? not so much:

the consensus amongst experts seems to be that the directive, aimed at establishing "continuity of government" after a major disaster, is not new nor does the policy seem to expand executive power.

in fact, mike german, the policy counsel to the aclu’s washington office told me that an executive continuity plan actually might “not be that bad of an idea.”

executive power expert, nyu law professor david golove, also sent me an email saying the directive didn’t appear to be a power grab.

... german called the release a positive sign, but said he urges the release of all previous directives so we can get a real sense of what has changed.

the concept of continuity of government applies to all branches of government. christopher kelleye, a presidency expert and political science professor at miami university ohio told me in an email that he didn’t see any new powers listed in the directive, but wondered why congress hasn’t done the same thing.

granted, marshall's panel is an informal poll, but the great majority of his commenters were hardly reassured:

"the directive that was signed may 14/15 is the most troubling ... it is his way of having total power in the event of a natural or man made disaster ..."

"i scare myself just thinking that an administration could/would perpetrate a catastrophy on it's [sic] own people just to retain political power ..."

"even if this power is nothing new, what is new is a president so untrustworthy that i'll not be surprised if a false flag attack occurs next year in october, bush declares martial law, and he suspends the national election. i expect this supreme court would support him and gonzales (should he survive his term in the doj) would bring all the police power of the federal government to maintain bush."

"of course, a blatant "coup" by bush, turning the federal government into the bushchaneyrove junta has been slowly in the making for some time, or haven't you noticed? the directive 51 is just the vaseline to make slide in more easily when they decide to not just ignore, but do away with the congress ..."

"can homeland security remove you from your home, or place you in one of the haliburton camps? direct which corporations or other businesses get priority on the highways? on rail transit? will the internet be coopted, in the naqme [sic] of national security to keep us from commmunicating?"

"remember that halliburton contract a yr ago to build new u.s. detention camps"

"he is probably preparing to take over the country after the next presidential elections. he will have one of his goons call in an attack on us and then say 'look we just got attacked and i think i am the best person to take over, new president elect and the constitution be damned.'"

"george has nothing to look forward too once he leaves office, he's served his purpose and will be of no concern. but, if he can make sure that the us military is effectively stuck in iraq, and not able to offer any resistance, his private army made up of mercs from blackwater and dyncorp to name just two can establish martial law and he can keep remain the president for as long as he pleases."

hmmm ... now let's all take a deep breath.

look people, a lot of you guys — too many — sound like the same chicken littles who were endlessly predicting false flag attacks and martial law all of last year in the run-up to the midterms, and all of 2004 in the run-up to the presidential elections ...

while it makes exciting and breathless blog chatter, i still don't see it, folks. it's not like bushco™ hasn't already had ample opportunities to set these paranoid fantasies into motion.

because i don't recall congress being abolished nor any martial law decrees being issued nor any halliburton death camps being filled after 9-11.

nor any after katrina.

nor before the 2002 midterms. nor the 2004 elections. nor the 2006 midterms.

so tell me, just what are our neocon overlords waiting for?