Monday, January 30, 2006

Uncle

I feel exactly as I did in November 2004. My very first blog post is as relevant now as it was then. The feeling of impending doom is stronger now, as the end is that much closer. The Dark Ages I prophesied then are just about upon us.

Digby is among the many singing "Tomorrow." He even quotes stirring words from RFK who, need I remind you, was assassinated and didn't actually accomplish much as I recall. He has far-reaching influence and lots of readers; he is probably doing the responsible thing for a leader to do. I don't. I'm with one of his commenters:
It's over, folks. The democratic experiment is finished. The Democrats in Congress now are just trying to hold onto their jobs, and they see that the only way they can is to not get in the Republicans' faces too much. They don't want to call attention to themselves, they don't want to make trouble. They'll make a speech to the base every once in a while, "Yeah, ain't it awful what those bad Republicans are doing!?!", but once back in D.C., they keep out of the way. It's a paying job, with plenty of benefits, and they'll never have to face the people back home when they finally do leave congress. They don't go back to their home districts. They stay in D.C., become lobbyists or lawyers for lobbyists, or lobbying interests.

This isn't going to get repaired in D.C. by those in Congress. It's not going to get repaired at the ballot box come next election.

Are we really going to keep flapping our gums around here as if it's just a matter of getting more people to the polls to vote Republicans out? We did that already. At least twice.

Congress is taking the Patriot Act up again next week, and with the bounce that Bush is sure to get from the SOTU tomorrow and the high that Bush and the Repubs will be on from getting Alito through, new laws will be in place criminalizing all kinds of protest actions. Even what we're all doing here, "slandering" while not using our real names.

Once Alito is sworn in and the SC declares that a Pres can do anything at all in a time of war (self-declared, unending), we won't even be able march on the White House with torches. They'll be able to (they can do it now) pick American citizens up off the street, not inform anybody, not even our families, and ship us off to a black prison, no lawyer, no habeas corpus, no trial, just all torture, all the time. They've already done it; Padilla is an American.


I give up, at least for now. I need to take a few days to decide whether to keep fighting, folks. I look at the efficient evil that has taken over, and the incompetent, spineless and rudderless fools that I invested my hopes with, and I keep thinking of the old saying about wasting your time teaching pigs to sing. All these hours, all these words, all this passion. All for naught. And I feel dirty.

I was going to read Larry Diamond's "Squandered Victory" next, but it no longer seems important. At the top of my reading list now are more relevant texts -- "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" and "The Myth of Sisyphus."

I can barely choke back the bile right now. We are indisputably, irrevocably fucked. The final FUBAR, in fact -- Fucked Up Beyond All Redemption.

Yeah, this is all our fault

Every now and again, I stumble upon Kevin Drum's site, and damned if he doesn't invariably remind my why he's not a regular stop. Today's distortion in logical thinking:

I'm glad the filibuster took place, because even in failure it puts a marker down for future court fights. Still, even given the amateurish way that Senate Dems handled it, I expected it to get more than 25 votes. So here's today's assignment: In 5,000 words or less, what does this say about the influence of the lefty blogosphere?

I'm pretty sure the full credit answer here is "We're a bunch of impotent, marginalized loons." Well, have it your way, Kevin, but I still like our act a lot more than the farce staged by the thumb-sucking buffoons (Teddy K and a few others excepted) who we relied upon to poke holes in the nuttiest, most dangerous SCOTUS nominee since Bork. We got something going, however short-lived it may have been. So a better question is: What does this whole fiasco say about the Senate Democrats?

Barack Obama, rising star of the Democratic Party? Fuck me.

Thanks for nothing, Senator



Liberal Democrats waged an eleventh-hour attempt Monday to block Samuel Alito's Supreme Court confirmation, arguing that he would tilt the high court further to the right.

GOP Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island also announced that he would vote against Alito's confirmation. Chafee, a self-described "pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-Bill of Rights Republican," is the only member of the Republican Party so far to announce that he will vote against the conservative judge.

Chafee refused to support the Democrats' filibuster attempt, however. "How are we going to get anything done if we can't work together?" Chafee asked.

Senator Chafee playing the all too familiar game of being the independent-minded moderate in situations where his vote is absolutely meaningless. Go ahead, Senator. Your good friend Mr. Whitehouse is going to shred your unprincipled ass on this, and nobody is going to buy your "But I voted against him!" bullshit.

Update: Of course, you can fool some of the people all of the time. NARAL tells Jane at FDL that they see no reason to pull their endorsement of Chafee.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Arrogant wankers

There is a poll up on MSNBC here about media, political attitudes and such. I thought I'd give it a try and vote in favor of the newer media. Then I poppoed a gasket when I saw question #6:


6. Where do you generally get your news information?
-National print media
-Local print media
-National TV
-Cable TV
-Local TV
-Talk Radio
-National Public Radio

Cluelessness in a nutshell -- setting up a poll on the Interntet, at a purported news site, and ignoring the possibility that the respondents might actually get news ... perish the thought -- on the Internet!

Hate to break it to you, fools, but the only reason I ever watch TV news in general and your tripe in particular (Olbermann excepted) is to see how badly you fuck up the stories I already know more about than your reporters seem to.

Wankers.

Completely beside the point

Aravosis joins Obama and Biden in complaining that this is not a perfect scenario for a filibuster, that it might backfire, that we didn't do it right, etc.

You folks are totally missing the point. If Alito makes it onto the court, there won't be a next time. All of the progress you might think we are making in terms of turning public opinion against Bush will not matter. The scandals you think we will tie like tin cans to his bumper will not matter. The nation's disgust with the quagmire in Iraq will not matter. All that will matter is the dictatorship that will have been allowed to take over on our watch. Once that happens, whatever dry powder you still have will be confiscated, and you will not have to concern yourself about the outrages that follow.

Filibuster because it your last chance to fight back. Filibuster because it is better to go down swinging. Filibuster, Senators Obama and Biden, because you sound like Karl Rove's caricature of a Democrat when you take dull blades to your own nutsacks like that.

Speaking of coincidences

Caught parts of two nuclear-Armageddon-narrowly-avoided movies on TV this weekend. In the first George Clooney plays a very Republican man of action thwarting terrorists in "The Peacemaker." About the only thing interesting about this Hollywood blow- 'em-up (other than the movie's politics relative to Clooney's own) was the fact that a bit part was played by Goran Visnjic, who in effect became the new Doug Ross on "ER."

The other was "Crimson Tide," which though also a typical Hollywood thriller, at least suggests that men of conscience can stand up to power and stop the madness. There are a couple of now-famous actors who I did not recognize the first time I saw it -- James Gandolfini and Viggo Mortensen.

I do try to turn off my brain once in a while.....

Nope, no global warming here...

I'm sure it is a complete conicidence that my cherry tree is blooming. In January.

Complete the sentence

We don't negotiate with terrorists:

(a) except when we do.

(b) unless it is in our interest to do so.

(c) because it is sound policy never to negotiate against yourself.

What did you do to save the Republic today?

I created a simple fax:

"Don't let our three branches become one branch and two fig leaves: Filibuster!"

I tried faxing it to every Dem in the Senate. Got through to about 25 of 'em.

Futile? Doomed to failure? Pissing up a rope?

Sure, probably. If you have a better idea, I'm all ears.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Contempt of court

TalkLeft has a sterling example of the way the Bush cabal is now in full affrontal assault on the judiciary and the Constitution in a chilling twofer: in a terror-related case, they sought the disqualification of a judge who showed bias by writing an article stating that "it was the duty of judges to protect individual rights in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks."

What a quaint old anachronism, that Bill of Rights.

We get results

As the Poor Man once said. Two days ago I called Senator Feinstein a "stalwart milquetoast" for her unwillingness to filibuster Alito. Yesterday she announced she would support the move.

I won't take credit. I can't even claim my calls to her office did it: I never got through because the line was constantly busy, which suggests how much pressure we collectively brought to bear.

But just in case:

Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D- AR), 202-224-4843 -- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Joseph I. Lieberman (D- CT), 202-224-4041-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Thomas R. Carper (D- DE), 202-224-2441-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Daniel K. Inouye (D- HI), 202-224-3934-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Tom Harkin (D- IA), 202-224-3254-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Barack Obama (D- IL), 202-224-2854-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Evan Bayh (D- IN), 202-224-5623-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Barbara A. Mikulski (D- MD), 202-224-4654-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Paul S. Sarbanes (D- MD), 202-224-4524-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Carl Levin (D- MI), 202-224-6221-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Mark Dayton (D- MN), 202-224-3244-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Max Baucus (D- MT), 202-224-2651-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Frank Lautenberg (D- NJ), 202-224-3224-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Robert Menendez (D- NJ), 202-224-4744-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Jeff Bingaman (D- NM), 202-224-5521-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Jack Reed (D- RI), 202-224-4642-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Lincoln D. Chafee (R- RI), 202-224-2921-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Patrick J. Leahy (D- VT), 202-224-4242-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Maria Cantwell (D- WA), 202-224-3441-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Patty Murray (D- WA), 202-224-2621-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Herb Kohl (D- WI), 202-224-5653-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
John D. Rockefeller, IV (D- WV), 202-224-6472-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
James M. Jeffords (I- VT), 202-224-5141-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.

Filibuster Opponents - silent & scared

Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D- DE) , 202-224-5042 -- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Bill Nelson (D- FL), 202-224-5274 -- you are a stalwart milquetoast.

Daniel K. Akaka (D- HI) 202-224-6361 -- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Mary Landrieu (D- LA)
202-224-5824-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Byron L. Dorgan (D- ND)
202-224-2551-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Olympia Snowe (R- ME) 202-224-5344-- you are a stalwart milquetoast.

Filibuster Opponents - loud & proud

Mark Pryor (D- AR), 202-224-2353 -- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Ken Salazar (D- CO)
, 202-224-5852 -- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Kent Conrad (D- ND)
(1,), 202-224-2043 -- you are a stalwart milquetoast.

Alito Supporters

Ben Nelson (D-NE) 202-224-6551 -- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Tim Johnson (D- SD) , 202-224-5842 -- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Robert C. Byrd (D- WV)
, 202-224-3954 -- you are a stalwart milquetoast.
Ted Stevens (R- AK) , 202-224-3004 -- you are a stalwart milquetoast.


Friday, January 27, 2006

Ancient wisdom, revised

My fortune cookie tonight said something to the effect of "ignorance is never the answer to any problem."

Would that they were right. In Bushworld, ignorance is the answer to all problems.

Ford plant bans competitors' cars from lot

Dearborn manager says employees can only park if they drive a Ford

The parking lot at Ford Motor Co.'s Dearborn Truck plant just got a little more exclusive.

Plant manager Rob Webber announced Monday that, starting Feb. 1, the parking lot may be used only by employees who drive vehicles built by Ford or one of its subsidiaries.

Webber's move came the same day Ford announced a restructuring plan under which it will cut up to 30,000 jobs and close 14 facilities by 2012. Ford said the plan is designed to make the company's North American division, which lost $1.6 billion last year, profitable by 2008.
...
Jerry Sullivan, president of United Auto Workers Local 600, which represents about 2,600 workers at the plant, applauded Webber's move.

"Everybody's in this together. (We need) to buy the products we make and support the company," Sullivan said. "This is a good place to start."

Beauty. Company shitcans 30K jobs; pointy-haired middle manager issues parameters for positive environmental alterations that will synergize with corporate missions and enhance workers' mindfulness of core competencies. Smiley-faced coffee mugs, anyone?

And I liked the union president's response. If he keeps up the good work, he may land a gig at the DLC.

The Bill of Rights (revised, Bush ed.)

Jesus' General has the new and improved Constitutional Amendments 1-10. For example:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law without the expressed approval of the executive or his deputy chief of staff. respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


Not too long ago, this might have been funny. Now it is merely accurate a little ahead of the curve.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

More Alito Realpolitik

A Daily Kos diarist reports that Colorado Senator Ken Salazar has agreed not to support a filibuster to get James Dobson to stop calling him names.

Jack Abramoff may not have been an equal opportunity money machine, but it does seem that we have bedwetters on both sides of the aisle.

Hamas transforms from resistance movement to governing party

The political earthquake that swept Hamas to power in Wednesday's parliamentary elections has been rumbling below the surface of Palestinian life for nearly two decades.
...
Now, as Hamas faces the demands and responsibilities of governing, is it the same organization it was at birth or will the desire to participate in politics mean that its leaders will steer a more moderate course?

"Hamas faces the difficult task of adjusting from a resistance movement to a political party in the system," said Ziad Abu Amr, an independent Palestinian lawmaker who ran for office with Hamas' backing.

"What is it going to do with militants who made resistance a career? How is it going to deal with issues that matter to its voters: corruption, internal order, the peace process? It is much easier to be in the opposition and criticize mistakes," Amr said.

Hamas "has translated those mistakes into power," he said. "Now it has to translate power into change."

...

Spreading its ideology through mosques and social-service programs, Hamas provided medical care and free food programs, pressured women to dress modestly, attacked stores that sold liquor and killed those who were suspected of collaborating with "the Zionist entity."

During the campaign, Hamas leaders had hinted that they'd be content to be a strong force in the opposition rather than enter the government, a stance that allowed them to dodge questions about whether they'd recognize Israel if bilateral negotiations ever were revived.

But the group's landslide victory may force it to take clearer positions on key issues, including whether to renounce violence or revise its charter. For the moment, that seems unlikely.

Peace with Israel "is not on our agenda," Mushir al-Mari, a Hamas lawmaker-elect from the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, said in an interview Thursday.


Arguably out of complete ignorance, I was less surprised by the results than the media mavens who professed to be nothing less than shocked by the outcome of the elections. A lot of the reports in the run-up featured interviews with Angry Palestinians on the Street, followed by commentary to the effect that Fatah was really, really going to have to get their act together this time. All of the commenters know a hell of a lot more than I do about the situation over there, but boy, those Palestinians sure sounded pissed.

Anyway, my first reaction to the headlines today was "checkmate." And I'm still not sure who's trapped who.

Update: Juan Cole has the real deal.

Ground Zero

Daily Kos: WV-Sen: Byrd supports Alito

88-year-old Senator Robert Byrd, a man who believes talked like he believed more deeply in the Senate as an institution than anyone alive, has announced he will support Alito's nomination.

And why?
A multimillionaire businessman entered the GOP race to challenge Sen. Robert C. Byrd on Wednesday, hoping to deny the 88-year-old incumbent Democrat a record ninth term.

John Raese, 55, said he would campaign on a platform touting free enterprise and reduced regulation, among other issues. "What I'm going to run on is a rebirth of capitalism," he said.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee heralded the filing by Raese, a former state GOP chairman who has sought office before.

Though four other Republicans are running in the party primary, the GOP committee called Raese "the first financially credible opponent Byrd has faced since 1982."

You could argue that the Republic was already dead man walking before Byrd's announcement. You could argue that the blood of our Constitution is on many hands. But for the "conscience of the Senate" to abandon all principle to preserve his office for a ninth term is perhaps the most symbolic betrayal -- the one that history will point to a hundred years from now after this new American Empire finally falls. And his venality will be known as ground zero in the end of our Republic.

Timing is everything

There is a great old joke that goes like this:

Dude1: What's the most important thing in comedy?

Dude2: I dunno. what is the most impor...

Dude1: Timing!

Over the weekend I was feeling very depressed about my own trivial impact on the course of politics, and generalized to the blogosphere's general lack of effect in the context of a really good Glenn Greenwald post that I said would have little effect.

Splendid time to throw a hissy fit Glenn's way.

Glenn's heroic piece on the NSA hypocrisy has broken through to the mainstream in a very big way, and they generally seem to be giving him credit.

I stand humbly corrected, and offer Glenn props for a job very well done.

Like I said....














Timing.

R.I. Senate: Does Chafee's Future Hinge on Alito Vote?

From WaPo's The Fix:


With the confirmation vote on Samuel A. Alito Jr. nearing, Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R) faces a Hobson's choice that could dramatically affect his reelection campaign this November.

Chafee remains the most high-profile undecided senator on Alito, and regardless of which side he eventually chooses, he can expect to be bashed for it.

Chafee faces a primary challenge from Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey(R). Should he get through that race, he will face off against either former state Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse(D) or Secretary of State Matt Brown (D) in a state that went for the Democratic presidential candidate by 20 points in 2004.

A Chafee vote for Alito will make for considerable fodder for either Brown or Whitehouse. But a vote against Alito could give Laffey the GOP nomination.

Asked about the seeming conundrum, Chafee campaign manager Ian Lang said that "from a purely political standpoint this is a lose-lose situation." Lang said Chafee will put aside political interests, however, and make a decision that is in the "best interests of the country and the best interests of Rhode Island."
...
Chafee, perhaps the most moderate Republican in the Senate, must be cognizant of the Republican base as he weighs how to respond to Laffey's primary challenge. All registered Republicans are eligible to vote in the Sept. 12 primary, as are registered independents. Democrats must re-register in order to vote in the Republican primary -- an unlikely proposition given that Brown and Whitehouse are staging their own competitive primary.

So in order to win the GOP primary, Chafee must not only convince a cavalcade of independents to support him but also take a chunk of traditional Republican votes. With that calculation in mind, one source close to the Chafee campaign said the the senator "can survive a 'yes' [on Alito] vote a lot easier in the general election than he can survive a 'no' vote in the primary election."


Chafee will certainly take a beating by Laffey if he votes against Alito's confirmation, but I don't agree with that last assertion at all. Every semisentient Republican voting in the primary, however pissed off they may be at Chafee, will know that putting Lafeey into the general election is tantamount to putting Whitehouse in the senate. And Whitehouse will beat Chafee to death with the Alito vote in the general election, particularly if Stripsearch Sammy delivers a high profile, constitution-busting vote in the coming months. RI may not be a bastion for the prochoice movement, but there are plenty other reasons why we hate him here.

Parenthetically, Whitehouse v. Brown will not be competitive, and from what I can see, the only reason Democratic voters will change affiliations to vote in the primary will be to vote for Laffey, not Chafee--thereby guaranteeing Blue next fall.

No tomorrow ... today

OK, it is still slightly bollixed up, but at you can at least get the flavor of my latest at The Raw Story.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

$%#!!!$*

My latest editorial is up, sort of, at Raw. Sort of, because it currently appears without the last 500 words or so of the piece, for reasons opaque to me. Without its conclusion, you'll see no link from me. And my tongue shows increasingly painful evidence of my overbite.

I guess if I am lucky the second half of my column, called "No Tomorrow," will run ... tomorrow.

Self-negation: the Democratic way.

Caution! DSCC at Work



Chuck Shumer's pick to unseat Senator ManOnDog, Bob Casey, Jr., is looking more and more like a distinction without a difference. Vent your spleen at Booman's--after you unload on the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Well can we ask them about 9/11?

Senators: White House Stalls Katrina Probe - Yahoo! News

The White House is crippling a Senate inquiry into the government's sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina by barring administration officials from answering questions and failing to hand over documents, senators leading the investigation said Tuesday.

In some cases, staff at the White House and other federal agencies have refused to be interviewed by congressional investigators, said the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. In addition, agency officials won't answer seemingly innocuous questions about times and dates of meetings and telephone calls with the White House, the senators said.
...
"No one believes that the government responded adequately," said Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn. "And we can't put that story together if people feel they're under a gag order from the White House."

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the committee's Republican chair, said she respects the White House's reluctance to reveal advice to President Bush from his top aides, which is generally covered by executive privilege.

Still, she criticized the dearth of information from agency officials about their contacts with the White House.

"We are entitled to know if someone from the Department of Homeland Security calls someone at the White House during this whole crisis period," Collins said. "So I think the White House has gone too far in restricting basic information about who called whom on what day."

She added, "It is completely inappropriate" for the White House to bar agency officials from talking to the Senate committee.

... Lieberman said the Justice and Health and Human Services departments "have essentially ignored our document requests for months" while HHS has refused to allow interviews of its staff. He described the Homeland Security response as "too little, too late."


I have this strange feeling I have seen this movie before.

Greenwald nails it again

The Administration's new FISA defense is factually false

In a fit of pique a few days ago I semi-dissed Glenn - -not for being wrong, which so far he hasn't been, but for wearing a white button-down to a mudfight in the sense that logic is a language neither the actors nor the audience understand.

Glenn politely commented on my tantrum, and responded to my email. And he keeps hammering away, bless his tireless heart.

This new post of his is so logically compelling and devastating in its marshalling of fact and law that it would effectively end the current circle jerk of a debate if only a couple of MSM meat puppets would copy and paste it into their teleprompters.

Read and disseminate.

Newspeak justice

susanhu @ Booman Tribune picks up on the yet another depressing juxtaposition in Bushworld: The military interrogator who tortured and killed an Iraqi prisoner gets no jail time, while the peace activist who injured no one in a protest at a recruiting station gets six months.

Code Red

No jail time for officer charged in death of Iraqi general

A military jury on Monday ordered a reprimand but no jail time for an Army interrogator convicted of killing an Iraqi general by stuffing him headfirst into a sleeping bag and sitting on his chest.

Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr. also was ordered to forfeit $6,000 salary and was largely restricted to his barracks and workplace for 60 days.

Welshofer, 43, had originally been charged with murder and faced up to life in prison. But on Saturday he was convicted instead of negligent homicide and negligent dereliction of duty.

...

After hearing the sentence reached by the jury of six Army officers, Welshofer hugged his wife. Soldiers in the gallery — many of whom had worked with Welshofer and who had testified as character witnesses — broke into applause.

...

Prosecutors said Welshofer put a sleeping bag over the head of Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, sat on his chest and used his hand to cover the general's mouth while questioning him at a detention camp in Iraq in 2003.

Prosecutors said the general suffocated.
...

The defense had argued a heart condition caused Mowhoush's death, and that Welshofer's commanders had approved the interrogation technique.

Prosecutors described Welshofer as a rogue interrogator who became frustrated with Mowhoush's refusal to answer questions and escalated his techniques from simple interviews to beatings to simulating drowning, and finally, to death.

Lessee...ordered to stuff his head in a sleeping bag or loose cannon? Ah, who knows--we'll just split the difference and send him to his room for a couple of months. I would imagine that a few Iraqis will be upset by this, but once we send them all copies of A Few Good Men, they'll be cool with this. Of course, we'll have to edit out the part at the end where Kevin Bacon reads Jack Nicholson his Article 31 rights, cuz that ain't gonna happen...

Monday, January 23, 2006

Our very own Geheime Staatspolizei

Patriot Act Renewal Includes Creation of a Federal Police Force - TalkLeft:
Here's what we can look forward to here in George's Reich:

"A permanent police force, to be known as the 'United States Secret Service Uniformed Division,'" empowered to "make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence" ... "or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony."


I wonder what the uniforms will look like....

A new 51st state?

I have been meaning to ask a question for a couple of days now. My understanding of international law is very limited, but I am pretty sure about this: one of the fundamental tenets is that when country A launches a military strike (soldiers, bombs, etc.) on the soil of country B, that attack constitutes an act of war. At any rate, that is sure how Fearless Leader has justified our War on Terrah in the aftermath of 9/11.

So why wasn't our January 13th aerial bombardment of Damadola, Pakistan which killed at least 18 Pakistani civilians, an act of war?

Here's the answer, from the Pakistan Daily Times, which claims to get it from Time:
Washington has an understanding with Islamabad that allows the US to strike within Pakistan’s border regions, providing the US has actionable intelligence and Pakistan cannot take firm action, according to a report in US weekly magazine Time.

The source of the report is a Peshawar-based Pakistani intelligence official. “Pakistan’s caveat (to the agreement) is that it would formally protest such strikes to deflect domestic criticism. Some ranking Pakistani officials deny such an agreement exists,” says the report headlined ‘Can Bin Laden be caught?’

This will not go down well with the man on the street in Pakistan. Pervez Musharraf was generally seen as far too cozy with the Great Satan even before we treated his country as another Vieques (only with people). So now that question #1 seems to have been answered, here's question #2: What did we promise Pakistan's weakening strongman to get him to make a mockery of his country's sovereignty?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

No 'Wing,' no prayer

NBC Cancels 'West Wing' After 7 Seasons
The new president on "The West Wing" will be a real short-timer: NBC announced Sunday it was pulling the plug on the Emmy-winning political drama in May after seven seasons.

NBC, struggling to regain its footing after the worst season in its history, also outlined several midseason schedule changes — including the moves of popular dramas "Law & Order" and "Las Vegas."

"The West Wing" announcement wasn't much of a surprise. Although this season's story line with a presidential campaign involving a Democrat played by Jimmy Smits and Republican portrayed by Alan Alda has been strong critically, ratings have sunk with its move to Sunday nights.

West Wing was, when on its game, both the best writing on TV by a country mile and a reminder of the distance between what is and what could have been. I despise most network programming, but for several years West Wing was my only gotta see TV. Then the quality dropped off. It got better again recently, but for me the context had changed, and watching it was almost unbearably painful. There was a cruel, taunting quality to seeing the ghost of the precious thing that has been ripped from our grasp flicker across the screen.

Well, at least the transcriptionist has some sense

Hadn't noticed this error in the Press the Meat transcript when I posted it earlier:

The specific problem of inviting lobbyists in who have bundled huge sums of money to write legislation, having the oil and gas company companies come in to write energy legislation, having drug companies come in and write the Medicare prescription drug bill—which we now see is not working for our seniors—those are very particular problems of this administration and this Congress. And I think Jack Abramoff and the Case Freak Project, that whole thing is a very particular Republican sin.
I'm pretty sure Barack said "the K Street Project," but I like this version more. The transcriptionist (or machine?) is more willing to call bullshit than the senator. Sad.

Barack, we hardly knew ye

Wonderkind plays footsie with Pumpkinhead:

MR. RUSSERT: When you ran for office back in September of ’04 you said this about Iraq. You—and I’ll read it on the screen from the Associated Press. “Democratic senator candidate Barack Obama who opposed invading Iraq, but pulling out now, he said, would make things worse. A quick withdrawal would add to the chaos there and make it an extraordinary hotbed of terrorist activity. He said it would also damage America’s international prestige and amount to a ‘slap in the face’ to the troops fighting there.” Is that still your position?

SEN. OBAMA: It remains my position that we have a role to play in stablizing the country as Iraqis are getting their act together. But I have to emphasize that there is a cost for our presence there. We are an irritant, and we help spur the insurgency even as we are defending a fledgling Iraqi government against that insurgency. And so, we have this difficult balance that has to take place, but the critical point is that Iraqis have to take responsibility now that the final election has taken place. They have a legally constituted government. It is time for them to arrive at the peaceful accommodations that can drain away some of the impetus behind the insurgency, and it’s time for Iraqis to take seriously institution-building.
...
MR. RUSSERT: Will George Bush be considered one of the worst presidents in history?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know, that’s a tough standard to meet. We’ve had some pretty bad ones. So, I, you know, I don’t prognosticate in terms of where George Bush will place in American history.
...
MR. RUSSERT: You’ve been appointed, selected as the Democrats’ point man on lobbying reform in the Senate. I want to talk about Jack Abramoff and the scandal now in terms of lobbying and potential reform. According to the Center for Responsive Politics and The Washington Post, Mr. Abramoff and his clients and his associates gave about $3 million to Republicans, about $1.5 million to Democrats. Is this a bipartisan scandal?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think the problem of money in politics is bipartisan. I think that all of us who are involved in the political process have to be concerned about the enormous sums of money that have to raised in order to run campaigns, how that money’s raised, and at least the appearance of impropriety and the potential access that’s given to those who are contributing. That’s a general problem with our politics. The specific problem of inviting lobbyists in who have bundled huge sums of money to write legislation, having the oil and gas company companies come in to write energy legislation, having drug companies come in and write the Medicare prescription drug bill—which we now see is not working for our seniors—those are very particular problems of this administration and this Congress. And I think Jack Abramoff and the Case Freak Project, that whole thing is a very particular Republican sin.

MR. RUSSERT: No sin for the Democrats?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, with respect to how Tom DeLay consolidated power in the House of Representatives, invited lobbyists like Abramoff in to help write legislation, leveraging those lobbyists and telling them that they can only hire Republicans, manipulating the rules of the House and the Senate in order to move forward legislation that was helpful to special interests. There is a qualitative difference to what’s been happening in Washington over the last several years that has real consequences. It means a prescription drug bill that doesn’t work for our seniors. It means an energy policy that does nothing to help relieve high gas prices at the pump. These aren’t just abstractions, these are problems that have very real consequences to the American people. And my hope is is that, on a bipartisan basis, we can come up with a solution that returns some semblance of responsiveness to Washington.
The sponteneity and courage of Hillary married with the clarity of Kerry. Zombierific!

Feh.

Glenn Greenwald scores major rhetorical points by pointing out the incoherence of the Osama-talks-like-Michael Moore tripe.

Feh.

The Bush storm troopers flunk Rhetoric 101. BFD. They continue to kick our sorry asses on the playground every lunch hour.

If the Murkun people had even a passing acquaintence with logic, we wouldn't be here. Unless and until the MSM sheeple call them on this, logic is irrelevant. And since the MSM sheeple continue to parrot such nonsense, it is absurd to expect them to call bullshit on their own sycophantic behavior.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Peak oil: done deal

From Reuters.com:

OPEC producer Kuwait's oil reserves are only half those officially stated, according to internal Kuwaiti records seen by industry newsletter Petroleum Intelligence Weekly (PIW).

"PIW learns from sources that Kuwait's actual oil reserves, which are officially stated at around 99 billion barrels, or close to 10 percent of the global total, are a good deal lower, according to internal Kuwaiti records," the weekly PIW reported on Friday.

It said that according to data circulated in Kuwait Oil Co (KOC), the upstream arm of state Kuwait Petroleum Corp, Kuwait's remaining proven and non-proven oil reserves are about 48 billion barrels.

Officials from KOC were not immediately available for comment to Reuters.

I am just one of a large number of folks who have been talking about peak oil for some time. Until now, those apocalyptic visions have been countered in general circulation by the kind of mythology Kuwait was perpetrating, and no one wanted to pay attention.

But this process of restating reserves is now past trickle, and well on its way to torrent. Recall that Shell admitted in 2004 that its reserves were overstated by 20%. It is widely believed that Saudi Arabia has been deep fat frying its reserve numbers as well. The Saudis claim to have 25% of the world's reserves. If the fudge factor in their numbers is anything close to Kuwait's, we are in deep, deep doo-doo. We are screwed either way, of course, but the price shock will be inconceivably violent if Saudi Arabia is revealed to have half the oil we think they do.

So the good news is that when unleaded hits $6 a gallon you will be able to get a helluva deal on a Hummer. The bad news is that the economy will crash so hard you will have to put it up on blocks and live in it.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Well of course

Writer Claims HealthSouth CEO Scrushy Bought Favorable Press Coverage During Fraud Trial

Makes perfect sense to me. After a half-dozen columnists are exposed as having taken corporate or government, the boundaries of what newspaper folks think they can get away with are effectively moved. That means two things: (a) we'll find out about cash buying favorable "straight" news, and (b) some chutzpah-enhanced, ethically challenged presstitute will go after a john for welching.

E&P presents:
Throughout the six-month trial that led to Richard Scrushy's acquittal in the $2.7 billion fraud at HealthSouth Corp., a small, influential newspaper consistently printed articles sympathetic to the defense of the fired CEO.

Audry Lewis, the author of those stories in The Birmingham Times, the city's oldest black-owned paper, now says she was secretly working on behalf of Scrushy, who she says paid her $11,000 through a public relations firm and typically read her articles before publication.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show The Lewis Group wrote a $5,000 check to Audry Lewis on April 29, 2005 -- the day Scrushy hired the company. The head of the company, Times founder Jesse J. Lewis Sr., is not related to Audry Lewis.

The firm wrote another $5,000 check that day to the Rev. Herman Henderson, who employs Audry Lewis at his Believers Temple Church and was among the black preachers supporting Scrushy who were present in the courtroom throughout.

Audry Lewis and Henderson now say Scrushy owes them $150,000 for the newspaper stories and other public relations work, including getting black pastors to attend the trial in a bid to sway the mostly black jury.


Damned blogger ethics....

Neither will I, darlin'

Molly Ivins: I will not support Hillary Clinton for president

I'd like to make it clear to the people who run the Democratic Party that I will not support Hillary Clinton for president.

Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone This is not a Dick Morris election. Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terri Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just contemptible little dodges.
...
What kind of courage does it take, for mercy's sake? The majority of the American people (55 percent) think the war in Iraq is a mistake and that we should get out. The majority (65 percent) of the American people want single-payer health care and are willing to pay more taxes to get it. The majority (86 percent) of the American people favor raising the minimum wage. The majority of the American people (60 percent) favor repealing Bush's tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (66 percent) wants to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes.

The majority (77 percent) thinks we should do "whatever it takes" to protect the environment. The majority (87 percent) thinks big oil companies are gouging consumers and would support a windfall profits tax. That is the center, you fools. WHO ARE YOU AFRAID OF?

I listen to people like Rahm Emanuel superciliously explaining elementary politics to us clueless naifs outside the Beltway ("First, you have to win elections"). Can't you even read the damn polls?

...
You sit there in Washington so frightened of the big, bad Republican machine you have no idea what people are thinking. I'm telling you right now, Tom DeLay is going to lose in his district. If Democrats in Washington haven't got enough sense to OWN the issue of political reform, I give up on them entirely.


Thanks, Molly.

The Grenada of Terror

ABC News: 11 Indicted in Eco-terror Arsons


Eleven people have been indicted in recent weeks in connection with a series of arson attacks, including the 1998 fire at the Vail Ski Resort in Colorado that has been linked to the radical environmental groups Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front.

The announcement of the indictments and the arrests of eight of the people charged was made today at a news conference with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Director Carl Truscott.


Got that? The top two or three law enforcement officers in the country focusing all that energy on ecology extremists.

The FBI has called radical environmental groups the most serious domestic terrorism threat, and estimates the Earth Liberation Front's attacks alone are responsible for damages totaling more than $100 million since the mid-1990s. The fire at an expansion project at Vail caused $12 million in damages, and an August 2003 arson at a San Diego apartment construction project that Earth Liberation took responsibility for did $50 million worth of damage.


$100 million. Over the last ten years or so, that's about $10M a year. And, as far as I know, not a single death attributable thereto.

While we're talking about monetary losses, would you paragons of prosecutorial virtue care to comment on your efforts to go after the folks who walked off with the $8.8B of our taxpayer money that has disappeared in Iraq? Or perhaps the $1M per month overcharges by Halliburton for laundry services? Or the $1B in questionable Halliburton charges?

Or, if you are really feeling your oats, how about how telling us about how you are going to get the folks who actually killed thousands of people on 9/11?

Of course not. History must repeat.

Oh, that Tim Kaine

Digby points out how utterly ass-backwards the "Wingnut-lite" strategy prominently featued in a new TAP article is. He's right, of course. But here's something timely he didn't mention: The TAP article's exemplar of the winning Democratic message is Tim Kaine:


Incoming Democratic Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, a former Christian missionary in Latin America, learned the importance of cultural appeals early in his campaign. Kaine, Virginia’s first Catholic governor and one of the two major Democratic electoral success stories of 2005, had worked as a court-appointed attorney for inmates on death row while a young attorney. This, he knew, would be a major strike against him in his bid to run a state whose citizens overwhelmingly support the death penalty, and in a contest against the state’s attorney general, who would inevitably accuse him of being soft on crime and a bleeding-heart liberal.

In the spring of 2005 Kaine’s pollster, Peter Brodnitz, of the polling firm Benenson Strategy Group, decided that the campaign needed to develop a strategy to handle such charges. It convened a focus group of white, conservative, religious voters, and explored different ways Kaine could reach out to them. The result was startling. Brodnitz found that once Kaine started talking about his religious background and explaining that his opposition to the death penalty grew out of his Catholic faith, not only did charges that he was weak on crime fail to stick, but he became inoculated against a host of related charges that typically plague and undermine the campaigns of Democratic candidates. “Once people understood the values system that the position grew out of, they understood that’s he’s not a liberal,” says Brodnitz. “We couldn’t even convince them he was a liberal once we’d done that.”
And you know what? It turns out that he's the same Tim Kaine the Democratic leadershit has "tapped" to rebut Dubya's SOTU speech, as opposed to, say, designated spear catcher Jack Murtha. You know, the guy whose website is long on God and church and the NRA, but utterly devoid of any military or foreign policy cred. Which might matter if we were involved in, like, a war or something.

Small world.

Please don't beat me

Minority Leader Reid Apologizes to GOP

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday apologized to 33 Republican senators singled out for ethics criticism in a report from his office titled "Republican Abuse of Power."

"The document released by my office yesterday went too far and I want to convey to you my personal regrets," Reid said in a letter.

"I am writing to apologize for the tone of this document and the decision to single out individual senators for criticism in it."

Reid came under attack Wednesday over the report, which was issued by his staff on Senate letterhead, even as he and fellow Democrats released ethics overhaul proposals.

I'm all for a wide variety of support programs and legal protections for battered wives. I just wouldn't ask them to lead the battle to save our Constitution while so obviously traumatized by the experience.

Give 'emGo to hell, Harry. Maybe you can co-organize a group hug for your colleagues with Dick Durbin.

Jesus' General nails it

Not cynical, just prescient. Go look at Jesus' General's dead-on prediction of what next month's WaPo online will look like.

Losers

Walter Shapiro:
Typical was my lunch discussion earlier this week with a ranking Democratic Party official. Midway through the meal, I innocently asked how the "Big Brother is listening" issue would play in November. Judging from his pained reaction, I might as well have announced that Barack Obama was resigning from the Senate to sell vacuum cleaners door-to-door. With exasperation dripping from his voice, my companion said, "The whole thing plays to the Republican caricature of Democrats -- that we're weak on defense and weak on security." To underscore his concerns about shrill attacks on Bush, the Democratic operative forwarded to me later that afternoon an e-mail petition from MoveOn.org, which had been inspired by Al Gore's fire-breathing Martin Luther King Day speech excoriating the president's contempt for legal procedures.
Typical--a "ranking DP official" who is annoyed by the netroots, can't be bothered to tease apart "national security" from "violations of law and civil liberties," and prefers to follow polls rather than shape opinion. Loser, loser, loser.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Dems pick Kaine to respond to SOTU

Arianna has the ugly details here.

Meet the new boss...

Italy to Withdraw Troops From Iraq by Year's End

Italy will withdraw its nearly 3,000 troops from Iraq by the year's end, the defense minister saidtoday amid a fiercely fought general election campaign in a nation where the Iraq war is not popular.

"This is not a retreat, a word that is not part of our vocabulary," the minister, Antonio Martino, told a parliamentary commission. Rather, he called it a "dignified and just return."

It was the first formal announcement of Italy's plans in Iraq, though the center-right government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi signaled the move months ago to Italy's voters and to its allies in Washington. Mr. Berlusconi is trailing in the polls, and the decision would seem to ease some pressure on a particularly sensitive issue.
...
Polls show most Italians oppose the presence of their troops in Iraq, both in general opposition to the war and the fear that it makes Italy more vulnerable to a terror attack. The center-left opposition, led by former Prime Minister Romano Prodi, strongly opposes Italy's involvement in Iraq, though its leaders have recently said that, if elected, they would not endanger stability there by pulling out immediately.

Italy has the fourth-largest contingent of troops in Iraq. While the Italian presence is not large in numbers, the Bush administration, eager to show the effort in Iraq as a shared burden among allies, reacted with some anger last year when Mr. Berlusconi first broached withdrawing troops.

Today, however, the White House called Italy's announcement "an indication of progress" that Iraqi troops were increasingly able to take over.

Oh, of course it has to do with pushing up Berlusconi's poll numbers--how can Lil' Scottie deliver the WH spin with a straight face? The only real issue is how much it has to do with Italy's growing realization that when the Bush Assministration says "coalition," they really mean "sfruttamento," not "alleanza."

Bin Laden Reclaims Top Billing

From Time.com:

Osama bin Laden's latest message is most notable for the long silence that preceded it — the audiotape broadcast Thursday on al-Jazeera is the Qaeda leader's first direct communication with his public in a little over a year.
...
Despite directly addressing Americans, its primary purpose may nonetheless be to remind Arab and Muslim audiences of his existence, and to reiterate his claim to primacy among the Jihadists. Bin Laden last message was released in December 2004, although the movement's Number 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has continued to release occasional videotaped missives from his hideout in the wilds of western Pakistan.
...
But in the year of Bin Laden's silence, he has begun to be supplanted as the media face of global jihad by Musab al-Zarqawi, whose grisly exploits in Iraq grab headlines week after week.
...
The other radical Islamist competitor for the mantle of U.S. Public Enemy Number 1 has lately been Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who has garnered attention for his bristling hostility to the U.S. and his threat to wipe out Israel, all in the context of his defiance of the West over Iran's nuclear program. The attention paid to Zarqawi and Ahmedinejad has moved Bin Laden to the margins of Western news coverage, but his strategy for building al-Qaeda, as the single umbrella organization of global jihad, with himself as its "Sheikh," has been premised on his being recognized among the radically-inclined Muslim youth as America's most feared enemy. So, whether or not it is followed up by any of the actions it threatens, Thursday's taped message has at least succeeded in, however briefly, restoring Bin Laden to what he imagines is his rightful place in the headlines.
Bin Laden's ego and the infighting among the various radical groups and personalities is well documented, but I thought this was a little weird; it strikes me as pretty unlikely that OBL is going to put something like this out just because he's worried about losing Simon's and Paula's votes on Jihadist Idol. Leave it to the Em Ess Em to reduce the interrelationships among jihadists to a horse race.

Speaking of "in" colors...

Orange seems to have made a dramatic exit from the Department of Homeland Security's palette since, oh, fall of 2004 or so. From the DHS website:

Threat Advisories, Bulletins, Memoranda (cleared for public release)


April 19, 2005 – Information Bulletin – Unauthorized Peer to Peer (P2P) Programs on Government Computers (PDF, 4 pages - 50 KB)


August 3, 2004 – Memorandum – Suspicious Activity Reporting Criteria for Infrastructure Owners and Operators (PDF, 3 pages – 252 KB)


August 1, 2004 - Advisory - HSAS Increased to Orange for Financial Institutions in Specific Geographic Areas (PDF, 2 pages - 49 KB)


July 30, 2004 - Information Bulletin - Potential Threat to Homeland Using Heavy Transport Vehicles (PDF, 7 pages - 89 KB)


July 22, 2003 - Information Bulletin - Potential Terrorist Use of Official Identification, Uniforms, or Vehicles


July 1, 2003 - Information Bulletin - July 4th General Awareness


March 17, 2003 - Advisory - National Threat Level Raised, Statement by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge


May 30, 2003 - Advisory - Homeland Security Advisory System Lowered to National Level YELLOW


May 20, 2003 - Advisory - Homeland Security Advisory System Increase to National Level ORANGE


April 16, 2003 - Advisory - Homeland Security Advisory System Lowered to National Level YELLOW


Call me a cynic, but I suspect that the looming midterm elections will soon bring out prominent retro fashionistas again displaying large swaths of orange.

Torture: the new black

New evidence demonstrated in 2005 that torture and mistreatment have been a deliberate part of the Bush administration’s counterterrorism strategy, undermining the global defense of human rights, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing its World Report 2006.

The evidence showed that abusive interrogation cannot be reduced to the misdeeds of a few low-ranking soldiers, but was a conscious policy choice by senior U.S. government officials.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2006 (Human Rights Watch, 18-1-2006)


Your arrogant scribe, November:

Thus the new calculus: the insurgents become suicide bombers; we level cities the insurgents have already abandoned. The insurgents behead; we waterboard and crucify. The insurgents plant roadside bombs; we incinerate civilians with white phosphorus. For every indiscriminate, random horror they perpetrate, we offer our own in response.

This hypothesis is horrifying in its implications, and it is only a hypothesis. But it is a hypothesis that solves a lot of mysteries about our leaders. It explains why they are undaunted by the consensus that torture will not yield useful information – they don’t expect to get any. It explains why they are so insistent on holding tens of thousands of prisoners whether or not there is a reasonable basis for their incarceration – they are not making any attempt to separate combatants from the bystanders. It explains the horror of white phosphorus unleashed on civilians, and aerial bombardment of our supposedly democratic client – tactical military concerns are secondary at best. The randomness of the violence, abuse and destruction is not an unavoidable byproduct of an otherwise sane policy; the randomness is itself the very object of the policy.

And of course, our descent into such unspeakable tactics explains another, shameful mystery: why the evil we fight has become so difficult to distinguish from the evil we have become.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Today's history lesson

This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power under our laws and Constitution to protect them and their civil liberties. And that is exactly what I will continue to do, so long as I'm the President of the United States.

...

"...(T)his program is conscious of people's civil liberties, as am I. This is a limited program designed to prevent attacks on the United States of America -- and I repeat: limited."

American chief executive, December 17, 2005 and January 1, 2006, urging support of warrantless domestic spying, vesting de facto legislative and judicial power in the executive.

"The government will make use of these powers only insofar as they are essential for carrying out vitally necessary measures...The number of cases in which an internal necessity exists for having recourse to such a law is in itself a limited one."

German chief executive, March 23, 1933, urging passage of the "Enabling Act," which vested all power in the executive.

But, but, Mr. Luskin, it's a philosophy course

Looks like my question about the limits of the Dover decision will have to wait for another day. As Discovery Institute counsel Casey Luskin makes clear, the ID folks don't want their cover blown by folks who, to their credit, are at least honest enough to own up to their core beliefs:
Intelligent design is very different from young earth creationism. We at the Discovery Institute believe that intelligent design is constitutional to teach as a science. I understand that Americans United probably disagrees with that. But the fact is that this course originally mixed up intelligent design with the young earth creationist viewpoint. I want you to know that we support your efforts to present different views about biological origins in this philosophy course. We also applaud your efforts to remove the legally problematic creationist materials from the course. But the fact of the matter is that even if this course has been changed and improved, its past history as originally having been formulated to promote Biblical creationism as scientific fact makes this case legally problematic. Unless you get a very sympathetic judge, this course will be struck down as unconstitutional because of its problematic history.
...
But if you do not cancel this course, and if you let this lawsuit go forward, you are going to lose and there will be a dangerous legal precedent set which could threaten the teaching of intelligent design on the national level. Such a decision would also threaten the scientific research of many scientists who support intelligent design.

Because of the young earth creationist history of this course, this course is not legally defensible and it should be cancelled. Thank you.


Shorter Luskin: "Pay no attention to that theory behind the curtain! We are the Great and Scientific Intelligent Design!"

(Link via the Great, Scientific and Humble PZ Myers at Pharyngula)

Capital "L" loyal; small "o" opposition

Senate Democrat backs Alito
Ben Nelson of Nebraska on Tuesday became the first Senate Democrat to announce his support of conservative Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, who is expected to be confirmed later this month by the full Republican-led Senate.

"I have decided to vote in favor of Judge Samuel Alito," Nelson, a moderate, said in a statement issued by his office.

"I came to this decision after careful consideration of his impeccable judicial credentials, the American Bar Association's strong recommendation and his pledge that he would not bring a political agenda to the court," Nelson said.



I hereby submit the following recommendation: as part of the reform movement now sweeping Washington, the name of the Democratic Party should be changed to more accurately reflect reality: I suggest the "Gullible Party." In the alternative, the "Palace Eunuchs" would also be acceptable.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Thanks again, Ralph

As I wallow in the imminent disaster of the Alito confirmation, and the 287th Democratic meltdown of the last 12 months, and contemplate abandoning these sorry-assed losers, Eric Alterman reminds us that the man who just offered that stirring speech yesterday would have been President but for Ralph Fucking Nader.

Now what?

Osama bin Laden, non-cartoon edition

Good discussion of Peter Bergen's The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda's Leader underway at the TPM book club. I'm about a quarter of the way through the book, which I can already recommend, and the discussion at TPM has already produced a lot of thoughtful comments.

Well, at least we know how he got his nickname

Mass Gov. Ham Hands "Mitt" Romney honors MLK, Jr. yesterday morning:

Governor’s remarks irk King crowd: Romney rips into teachers unions at tribute breakfast

Mitt Romney, who invoked the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King while blasting teachers unions for blocking education reform efforts, drew jeers yesterday at Boston’s annual breakfast honoring the slain civil rights leader.

Romney, who said the persistent achievement gap between white and minority students is the biggest civil rights issue facing citizens, called for minority leaders to back his education reform package, which includes lifting the cap on charter schools.

“Sad to say that the teachers union and their supporters will fight these answers with every tool they have,” Romney said to the largely black crowd of roughly 1,000 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

“They will distort and deprive, they will torture and twist, but don’t forget, to them, it’s first about compensation and jobs. To you, it’s about kids and their future,” he said.

Romney’s comments were met with both loud boos and polite applause. Other speakers, including Attorney General Tom Reilly and Mayor Thomas M. Menino, were met with enthusiastic applause.

Boston Teachers Union President Richard Stutman, who was in the audience, said Romney’s comments were divisive and inappropriate at an event honoring a man who stood for unity.

“I think it’s the ultimate hypocrisy to invoke the name of Dr. Martin Luther King and criticize teachers unions in the same breath,” Stutman said.
Gee, sounds like he might be running for something.

And one more thing...

For those who have put forth the well-meaning but wildly wrong-headed hypothesis that the Dems aren't going to filibuster Alito because they see no net change on the court with President Abrasion's appointments, I read the news today, oh boy:

Supreme Court Upholds Oregon Assisted Suicide Law

The Supreme Court upheld Oregon's assisted-suicide law today, declaring that the Bush administration had exceeded its authority in trying to undo the statute by punishing doctors who help people end their lives.

In a 6-to-3 decision, which would apply to other states if their people chose to follow Oregon's lead, the court held that former Attorney General John Ashcroft went well beyond his authority and expertise when he ruled in 2001 that doctors would lose their federal prescription privileges if they prescribed lethal doses of medications for patients.

Today's ruling allows the state of Oregon to continue to follow the practice of the Netherlands, which in 2002 became the first country to legalize euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in limited circumstances. It could also portend agonizing debates elsewhere in the United States, as medicine advances and people continue to wrestle with questions of life and death.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority today, acknowledged that the long-running battle over the Oregon law is part of a "political and moral debate." But the issue for the court, he noted, was a more technical, down-to-earth one: Did the attorney general go beyond his powers under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970?

Clearly, he did, Justice Kennedy wrote, in an opinion joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O'Connor, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer. The Controlled Substances Act "gives the attorney general limited powers, to be exercised in specific ways," the court ruled.
...
Justice Antonin Scalia, in a sharp dissent, asserted that the attorney general did indeed have the authority to issue his 2001 ruling, regardless of the majority's reading of events. "If the term 'legitimate medical purpose' has any meaning, it surely excludes the prescription of drugs to produce death," Justice Scalia wrote.

Also dissenting were Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Clarence Thomas. Chief Justice Roberts, whose conservative judicial philosophy was widely discussed during his confirmation hearings last year, had indicated skepticism about the arguments advanced by the State of Oregon when the case was argued in October.

Yeah, that's Chief Justice John Fucking Roberts joining Fat Tony and Silent Clare at the end of the bench. You know, Roberts--the more moderate of Bush's appointees. Paying attention yet, DiFi?

Extraordinary circumstances: who would they filibuster?

Definitely:

http://www.politicalfriendster.com/images/1507.jpg

Bernard Kerik

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Shakes the Alcoholic Clown

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Jack Torrance

Laurence Tribe

Laurence Tribe

Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren


Earl Warren

Kip


Maybe--what does Lindsay Graham think?:

Robert Bork

Robert Bork (poorly prepared for confirmation hearings)

Q as judge, in the episodes Encounter at Farpoint and All Good Things...


Q (Contemptous attitude toward any executive, much less unitary executive)

http://opensources.davy.us/images/Torquemada.jpg

Torquemada (Spent hearings on diatribe about "slackers" running Abu Ghraib)



Ahmad Chalabi (insists on throwing kickback money at intelligence community rather than congress)

Fair and balanced

Shakespeare's Sister points out that the number of Americans who support impeaching the Chimp (52%) is exactly double the number of people who favored Clinton's impeachment.

Not that that matters.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Whaaaaaaa?

The ACLU is suing the Bush junta over domestic spying -- no surprise there. Larry DIamond of the Hoover Institute, who trashed the administration for its failures in Iraq, is a named plaintiff -- no surprise there either. But get this, from the Times via Americablog:

Also named as plaintiffs in the A.C.L.U. lawsuit are the journalist Christopher Hitchens...
That's right -- one of the leaders of the bedwetter brigade is biting the hand that diapers him.

No friggin' idea what this means, but it seems inconsistent with all known natural laws.

Maybe if I assume Digby is right

... I won't be as bitterly disappointed when it comes to pass just as he says:
Here's what's going to happen. The Republicans will carefully plan and coordinate their strategy. Guys like Jeff Sessions will be in charge of fear-mongering and ad hominem attacks on dissent. Huckleberry Graham will express grave concerns about liberty only to be convinced by the end of the hearing that the gravest threat to the nation is Democratic rudeness. Gonzales will then say this is nothing but a high tech illegal deportation across the Rio Grande. Sam Brownback will offer objections to abuse of presidential power but will concede that it is necessary since godless abortionist terrorists are trying to kill us all in our sleep. His wife will inexplicably start crying and run out of the room. Everyone will agree that Alberto Gonzales has been remarkably forthcoming. Arlen will concede that the constitution does indeed provide for a King.

The Democrats, meanwhile, will take a much needed week long vacation before the hearings. They'll meet up in the mens room just before they begin, to discuss a strategy. (Dianne will watch the door.) Kennedy will suggest that he attack Gonzales on presidential power and Shumer will snap that he's sick of Kennedy getting all the good attacks and insists that Kennedy takes that boring Unitary Executive bullshit this time. Biden will request that he lead the questioning which will make Pat Leahy tell him to go fuck himself. Joe will remind the whole group that he once had a phone call overheard in college so he's been the victim of warrantless wiretapping and can bring the personal touch to the hearings. Feinstein will ask, "what are these hearings about again?" In the end the Democrats will strongly object to Arlen's conclusions that the constitution provides for a King.

Then we can move on to fulfilling Atrios' prophesy.

So what

I read Al Gore's speech. I watched the clips on the web. I was moved.

But if a formerly wooden politician makes an important speech, and the press isn't there to hear it, does he make an effective sound?

Sadly, no. I don't know what it takes to have an impact today on the old media, but this is ridiculous.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Mission Accomplished

The States Step In As Medicare Falters
Two weeks into the new Medicare prescription drug program, many of the nation's sickest and poorest elderly and disabled people are being turned away or overcharged at pharmacies, prompting more than a dozen states to declare health emergencies and pay for their life-saving medicines.

Computer glitches, overloaded telephone lines and poorly trained pharmacists are being blamed for mix-ups that have resulted in the worst of unintended consequences: As many as 6.4 million low-income seniors, who until Dec. 31 received their medications free, suddenly find themselves navigating an insurance maze of large deductibles, co-payments and outright denial of coverage.

Yesterday, Ohio and Wisconsin announced that they will cover the drug costs of low-income seniors who would otherwise go without, joining every state in New England as well as California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota and New Jersey.

"This new prescription drug plan was supposed to be a voluntary program to help people who didn't have coverage," said Jeanne Finberg, a lawyer for the National Senior Citizens Law Center. "All this is doing is harming the people who had coverage -- America's most vulnerable citizens."
Heckuva job, Georgie.

Senator Chamberlain to the rescue

Feinstein Warns Against Alito Filibuster

A Democrat who plans to vote against Samuel Alito sided on Sunday with a Republican colleague on the Senate Judiciary Committee in cautioning against a filibuster of the Supreme Court nominee.

"I do not see a likelihood of a filibuster," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. "This might be a man I disagree with, but it doesn't mean he shouldn't be on the court."

She said she will not vote to confirm the appeals court judge, based on his conservative record. But she acknowledged that nothing emerged during last week's hearings to justify any organized action by Democrats to stall the nomination.

"If there's a filibuster of this man based on his qualifications, there would be a huge backlash in this country," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. He is one of 14 centrist senators who defused the Senate's showdown over judicial filibusters last year, saying such a tactic is justified only under extraordinary circumstances.
...
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., would not rule out a filibuster, saying committee Democrats were still going through the hearing transcripts and awaiting answers to written questions.

"It's premature to say anything till we fully assess the record," said Schumer, who appeared with Graham on "Fox News Sunday."

But Feinstein, who said she was concerned about Alito's conservative record on abortion rights and deference to executive power, acknowledged the 15-year appellate judge had the legal credentials to serve on the Supreme Court.

"I was impressed with his ability to maintain a very even demeanor," she said on CBS' "Face the Nation."


The utter, fatal wrongheadedness on display here leaves me virtually speechless with rage.

Even demeanor? At least the men who will inter our Constitution will sound nice.

Not extraordinary? Sure, just the end of our form of government.

Apt choice of words, Dr. Bloor, but I will not talk you back into this fold. I now officially include myself out of the most costly and important fold since Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement.

RIP, American republic
1788-2006

More unpatriotic defeatism from those nasty, fact-addicted realists

The centerpiece of the current U.S. strategy is to rely on a people whose military the United States twice humiliated on the battlefield to destroy an insurgency it did not create. "The ultimate goal," Boylan told me, "is that we work ourselves out of a job. The Coalition is not going to be the ones who win this. The Iraqis will be the ones who win this, because they're the only ones who can."

Boylan believes that the polls have slipped because the media shows only one side of the conflict. He points to the 3,000 schools that have been renovated, the construction of water plants and other pieces of infrastructure, the 26,000 new Iraqi businesses that have been established. But much of this progress has been annulled by the security situation. Many parents keep their children out of school: "If you love your children, you won't send them to school here because we will kill them," one insurgent flyer posted in the city of Tal Afar read. Journeying four miles from Bagdhad's airport to the Green Zone can take the better part of two days, and wandering two hundred yards beyond the wire of any U.S. base requires a full military escort. The Marines are forced to travel four hours out of their way to avoid a particularly dangerous highway between [Camp] TQ and Fallujah. "The most powerful army in the history of the world," one soldier told me, "cannot keep a two-mile stretch of road open."
--From Tom Bissell's "Improvised, Explosive and Divisive," in this month's Harpers.

"Our whole military is based on the idea of overwhelming firepower put on targets," says William S. Lind, a noted military theorist who has written extensively on asymmetric warfare. "But that doesn't work in this type of conflict. We are fighting an enemy that has made himself untargettable." Therefore, Lind says, the insurgents can continue fighting the American military in Iraq indefinitely--regardless of how many U.S. troops are deployed or how quickly they are massed.
...
For Lind and other military theorists, the IED problem in Iraq is insoluble no matter how much time or money is spent. "If we can't engage the enemy," he says, "what do we do? The answer is, we lose."
--From Robert Bryce's "Man Versus Mine," in this month's Atlantic.

Not that any of this might lead a reasonable person to believe that the best course of action is to get our troops out of the fucking shooting gallery.

Duck and Cover Dems

ReddHedd has a good post on the Alito fiasco over at Firedoglake. So whattaya gonna say to talk me back into the fold after this one, Bluememe?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Gonna take away their their web access, too?



via Raw Story: New York Times 'disconnects' public e-mail addresses for its columnists


Months after moving its Op-Ed columnists behind a "paywall," the New York Times will now 'disconnect' columnists' public e-mail addresses, RAW STORY has learned.

The Times has advised papers which receive their news content to remove any old e-mail addresses which they may have published alongside Op-Ed columns.

"The New York Times no longer provides public e-mail addresses for its Op-Ed columnists," a memo obtained by RAW STORY asserts. "With the advent of the paper's online program TimesSelect, subscribers are invited to contact columnists from within The Times' Web site, nytimes.com."

I'm beginnning to think that we should stop referring to the world of fishwrap journalism as "mainstream media" and start calling them "ostrich media." The WaPo old guard seem to resent their own Froomkin's web cred; the Times seems to be intent on responding to the threat bloggers pose by doing their best to pretend we don't exist.

Times Selective goes a long way toward accomplishing "speak no evil": by moving his columnists behind the wall, Pinch Sulzberger has essential purchased the electronic silence of MoDo, the Shrill One, Bob Herbert and and Frank Rich, whose work now is only rarely commented on in the blogosphere. (Bobo the Clown, being the token conservative, seems to have little difficulty scoring serious TV face time.) Now the "hear no evil" component is in place as well. Only a matter of time before Pinch and Bill Keller order them to stop looking at the Internet as well.

Yo, Pinch-- why don't you just cut to the chase , do what the LA Times did with Robert Scheer and fire their asses? It'll make your East Hampton dinners with the Queen of Iraq so much more pleasant, and maybe the Preznit will stop calling you on the carpet for your apostacy.

Atrios puts on his Carnac hat

...and makes some chilling predictions about how the Adminstration will pull the bedwetter lever about Iran to tilt the midterms. I don't even feel the urge to argue against his cynicism -- it really could, and probably will, go down this way.

I think they need to tweak their eavesdropping software


A Protest, a Spy Program and a Campus in an Uproar - New York Times

The Pentagon has been spying on student protestors at the University of California at Santa Cruz, calling a protest there a "credible threat." I guess it serves those militant youngsters right -- after all, no good could come from a school whose mascot is the fearsome banana slug.

Note to the guys programming the telephone keyword scanning in the Pentagon IT department: you need to increase the resolution on the voice recognition software a bit. The mistake was understandable, but do you really want to go through this every time somebody talks about having a "bong"?

Sneak preview: 2006 Iraq war strategy

Pakistan on Saturday condemned a purported CIA airstrike on a border village that officials said unsuccessfully targeted al-Qaida's second-in-command, and said it was protesting to the U.S. Embassy over the attack that killed at least 17 people.

Thousands of local tribesmen, chanting 'God is Great,' demonstrated against the attack, claiming the victims were local villagers without terrorist links and had never hosted Ayman al-Zawahri.

Two senior Pakistani officials told The Associated Press that the CIA acted on incorrect information in launching the attack early Friday in the northwestern village of Damadola, near the Afghan border.

Citing unidentified American intelligence officials, U.S. news networks reported that CIA-operated Predator drone aircraft carried out the missile strike because al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant, was thought to be at a compound in the village or about to arrive.

'Their information was wrong, and our investigations conclude that they acted on a false information,' said a senior Pakistani intelligence official with direct knowledge of Pakistan's investigations into the attack."
Remember Sy Hersch's prediction that as our ground forces buckle under the stress of over-commitment in Iraq, we would (a) shift to aerial bombardment as the tool of choice and (b) thereby become vulnerable to the mistakes and divergent motives of those on the ground who become our spotters?

This story will give you a good sense of how well that is going to work out for us.

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Separated at birth?

It seems many crime family bosses take a hands-on approach to managing their troops.



And yes, the goomba doing faking the Vulcan mind meld on the right is Dubya.

(Update: as reader Fred points out, it takes two minds to do a meld.)

Enough already

If I hear one more conservative talk about how Alito deserves to be a Supreme because "he keeps an open mind and decides cases based on the facts and the law," I am going to go kick somebody's puppy.

It is very rare that a case reaches an appellate court unless both sides can marshall superfically compelling arguments that weave together fact and law. What the judge has to do is decide which law and which facts to treat as the more important ones. And where one set of considerations favor individual rights and the other favor the government, Alito consistently supports the government.

So Alito doesn't have to foam at the mouth or babble like a Michelle Malkin to be dangerous. He can sound as reasonable and level-headed as you please. All he has to do is choose to accept the legal theories advanced by the police state he will slowly ensconce into the space our Constitution once covered.

It never ends

California Parents File Suit Over Origins of Life Course

A group of parents are suing their small California school district to force it to cancel a four-week high school elective on intelligent design, creationism and evolution that it is offering as a philosophy course.

The course at Frazier Mountain High School in Lebec, which serves a rural area north of Los Angeles, was proposed by a special education teacher last month and approved by the board of trustees in an emergency meeting on New Year's Day. The 11 parents are seeking a temporary restraining order to stop the course, which is being held during the session that ends on Feb. 3.

...
In their suit, the parents said the syllabus originally listed 24 videos to be shown to students, with 23 "produced or distributed by religious organizations and assume a pro-creationist, anti-evolution stance." They said the syllabus listed two evolution experts who would speak to the class. One was a local parent and scientist who said he had already refused the speaking invitation and was now suing the district; the other was Francis H. C. Crick, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, who died in 2004.

A course description distributed to students and parents said, "This class will take a close look at evolution as a theory and will discuss the scientific, biological and biblical aspects that suggest why Darwin's philosophy is not rock solid."
...
Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, said, "This is apparently the next wave of efforts to bring creationism to schools, and that's why we want to dry it up immediately."


I'm no attorney, but this actually strikes me as a legitimate test of the limits of the Dover decision last month; I'd be interested to know what real legal eagles think. In the meantime, and in the ID/creationist spirit of teaching all viewpoints, I will be happy to follow up their elective with a four week module on Nihilism. The school board can meet in a secret emergency meeting on Easter Sunday to approve it.

More Republican ethics

Time to convene another panel on blogger ethics, preferably those duplicitous librul bloggers:

A Columnist Backed by Monsanto

Scripps Howard News Service announced Jan. 13 that it's severing its business relationship with columnist Michael Fumento, who's also a senior fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute. The move comes after inquiries from BusinessWeek Online about payments Fumento received from agribusiness giant Monsanto (MON ) -- a frequent subject of praise in Fumento's opinion columns and a book.

In a statement released on Jan. 13, Scripps Howard News Service Editor and General Manager Peter Copeland said Fumento "did not tell SHNS editors, and therefore we did not tell our readers, that in 1999 Hudson recieved a $60,000 grant from Monsanto." Copeland added: "Our policy is that he should have disclosed that information. We apologize to our readers." In the Jan. 5 column, Fumento wrote that St. Louis-based Monsanto has about 30 products in the pipeline that will aid farmers, "but also help us all by keeping prices down and allowing more crops to be grown on less land."

...
"YOU SHOULD CONTRIBUTE." In his career at Hudson, Fumento has carved out a specialty debunking critics of the agribusiness and biotechnology industries. In 1999, he says, he solicited $60,000 from Monsanto to write a book on the business. The book, entitled BioEvolution was published in 2003. A spokesman for Monsanto confirmed the payments to the Hudson Institute.

Fumento, Scooter Libby...my, but the D.C. version of the Hudson Institute is really giving that other distinguished institute associated with the name Hudson a run for its money.



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