Thursday, August 31, 2006

Parody-proof


Guard families cope in two dimensions - The Boston Globe
Maine National Guard members in Iraq and Afghanistan are never far from the thoughts of their loved ones.

But now, thanks to a popular family-support program, they're even closer.

Welcome to the "Flat Daddy" and "Flat Mommy" phenomenon, in which life-size cutouts of deployed service members are given by the Maine National Guard to spouses, children, and relatives back home.

The Flat Daddies ride in cars, sit at the dinner table, visit the dentist, and even are brought to confession, according to their significant others on the home front.


Early Albert Brooks film? Akroyd-era Saturday Night Live sketch? Nope -- it's the 2006 equivalent: Bushworld.

And as I said a few weeks ago, stuff like this is going to put Stewart and Colbert out of business.

The Joe Lieberman of columnists

Digby has a list of mostly newspaper types who are calling bullshit on Rummy's latest you're-with-us-or-you're-Chamberlain nonsense (the one Olbermann smacked down last night). But there is one ink-stained wretch the Administration can take to the bank when it comes to Pavlovian responses to fear: my old pal Richard Cohen.

The column is, as Ygelsias and others have pointed out, a complete mess -- no thesis, no real argument, no nothing. Well, nothing except cover for the foam-at-the-mouth rhetoric the Adminstration has glommed onto as its campaign pitch for 2006.

There is endorsement of the most absurd and inflammatory language:

When George Bush used the term "Islamic fascists," he had a point.

No, Dick, he doesn't. Calling stateless anti-industrial fundamentalists fascists is simply stupid. It is like eight-year-olds calling each other queer -- using as an epithet a word you obviously don't understand, but seems Very Bad.

And there is, of course abundant pseudo-historical cover for Rummy's appeasement accusations.

And finally this bon mot:

Now, by default, the leadership of Europe has slipped to France.

Yeah, Dick, by default. As in, "De fault for de unwillingness of most of Europe to send troops into the Middle East about now lies in no small part in the disaster in Iraq." Which, come to think of it, by default belongs to you, Dick.

Your liberal press, ladies and gentlemen.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I like it, but I don't buy it

According to an independent Wall Street Journal/Zogby poll released over the weekend, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Jim Webb has pulled ahead of Senator George Allen. The poll puts Webb at 47.9% and the incumbent Allen at only 46.6%. The Zogby poll is the third poll released in the last week that shows Webb within the margin of error and the first to show him ahead of Allen.


Defeating George Allen has become as important as re-defeating Joe Lieberman. And the poll numbers are indeed encouraging. But I suspect this is one of those situations where there is going to be a major diversion between what voters are willing to say to a pollster and what they feel in their hearts.

Today in the newspaper I saw a review of what looks like an important book, There Goes My Everything, about the absurd and dissonant beliefs held by white southerners opposed to the civil rights movement. From the review of the book:

There was a time and place in which, remarkably, labels such as "progressive," "radical" and "outside agitator" were the worst insults a man could level at another. Social reform, as regards African American rights, was practically inconceivable to many mid-20th century white southerners, for whom a couple of hundred years of the most virulent racial epithets were no more than everyday banter.

As Jason Sokol makes plain in his levelheaded account of the civil rights movement, "There Goes My Everything," when considered from the vantage point of the would-be oppressors rather than those dead set on overturning oppression, tolerance of and unquestioning devotion to the South's social caste system could be every bit as deadly as a lynching party, with more staying power and far more people personally affected.

"Black actions only occasionally upended white myths and transformed worldviews," Sokol writes. "Often, those actions nudged white southerners closer to the comfort of traditional racial visions" -- which is to say, the notion that southern African Americans not only enjoyed their lot, but "belonged" to whites, in a chummy, good old Uncle Tom and Jim Crow kind of way -- as in, have fun painting my barn while I go fishing.

The majority of whites viewed the situation as amenable and beneficial to all, until Mother Russia decided to stir things up with all her social propaganda in the 1950s and early 1960s, rousing African Americans to all kinds of unconstitutional acts and giving rise to one of the most wayward, desperate party lines you will ever come across: When in doubt, don't blame human folly, madness, ignorance, stereotype and hatred, accrued over decades, for the general discontentment of blacks -- blame the communists. Better still if the proper Southern parent could proselytize in the name of God at the same time.

"Being a Christian is accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal savior ... and just because I don't want my granddaughter to go to school with a Negro boy, I don't see what it has got to do with my being a Christian or not," one woman insists. And just like that, one has the sensation of being dropped headlong into a Kafka novel, where delusion is so ingrained and so resolutely personal -- at the core level of the individual -- that one would assume that hardly anyone else, let alone hordes of people, could utter similar pronouncements. And yet there they are, on page after page of "There Goes My Everything," a region-wide denial-fest recalling the attitudes of the German partisans who maintained that the Holocaust never happened.


So when these folks are asked, face to face (or on the phone) whether they are racists (and that is what a Virginian will be admitting by supporting Allen), some significant percentage are self-aware enough to toe the socially acceptable line give the PC answer. But get 'em in the privacy of a voting booth, and they are free to follow their white sheet tendencies.

I of course hope I'm wrong. But put me down in the skeptical column.

Mr. Lamont, your campaign video has arrived

via My Left Nutmeg :: The Lieberman Effect
Foxnews asks "Will Connecticut senator's independent run help embattled GOP candidates?"

Joe's response? "Well, they should have thought of that before they had the primary."

I'd run that clip, followed by The Kiss, followed by that clip, followed by Ken Mehlman refusing to endorse the Republican nominee, followed by The Kiss, in an endless loop, as the Lamont campaign commercial. And I'd superimpose "Now we know what 'Connecticut for Lieberman' really means" at the end.

What a self-centered, egotistical prick.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Physician, heal thyself (IOKIYAR edition)

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist acknowledged Tuesday that he may not have met all the requirements needed to keep his medical license active — even though he gave paperwork to Tennessee officials indicating that he had.

The state of Tennessee requires its licensed physicians to complete 40 hours of continuing medical education every two years. Frist, a heart-lung surgeon who is considering a 2008 presidential run, submitted a license renewal with the Tennessee Health Department stating he has fulfilled that requirement.

Responding Tuesday to repeated requests from The Associated Press, a Frist spokesman said the Republican senator may not have done his continuing education after all, and had contacted the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners to see if corrective steps were necessary.
...
Starting with renewal applications filed in January 2005, the state required doctors to have completed 40 hours of continuing education in the two years that preceded their filing.

A renewal application Frist filed with the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners in February of this year specifically mentions the continuing education requirement and bears his signature.
...
Tennessee law states that doctors who fail to do their continuing medical education "will be subject to disciplinary action."

Dan Warlick, a Nashville lawyer who represents doctors in trouble with the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners, said a case such as Frist's would likely be taken seriously.

"They have been routinely revoking licenses for physicians who have misrepresented to the board what they have done," Warlick said.

"Medicine changes," Warlick added. "If you're telling them you're keeping up, and you're not, that would be a very significant problem for the board to have to deal with."


Bill Frist, February 12, 1999, Congressional Record:
The President broke his oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help him God. He likewise broke his oaths to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

Just how important are oaths? We take oaths to substantiate the sanctity of some of our highest callings. Years ago, I took the Hippocratic Oath to become a physician. In January 1995, I took an oath of office as a United States Senator to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Then, just last month, I had to take a special oath of impartial justice for this impeachment trial. Raising your right hand and swearing before God is meant to be serious business. Swearing falsely is equally serious. I recall the conclusion of the Hippocratic Oath:

If I fulfil this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot.

President Clinton broke his oaths; the opposite of honor and fame should be his lot.

Johnny on the spot

CNN.com - Kerry alleges misconduct in 2004 Ohio vote - Aug 29, 2006
Sen. John Kerry didn't contest the results at the time, but now that he's considering another run for the White House, he's alleging election improprieties by the Ohio Republican who oversaw the deciding vote in 2004.

An e-mail from Kerry will be sent to 100,000 Democratic donors Tuesday asking them to support U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland for governor of Ohio. The bulk of the e-mail criticizes Strickland's opponent, GOP Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, for his dual role in 2004 as President Bush's honorary Ohio campaign co-chairman and the state's top election official.

"He used the power of his state office to try to intimidate Ohioans and suppress the Democratic vote," Kerry says in the e-mail, according to a copy provided in advance.

Kerry, D-Massachusetts, conceded the election when he lost Ohio and its 20 electoral votes. A recount requested by minor-party candidates showed Bush won by about 118,000 votes out of 5.5 million cast. But Kerry's e-mail says Blackwell "used his office to abuse our democracy and threaten basic voting rights."

Multiple lawsuits by outside groups were unsuccessful in challenging Ohio's 2004 election. One case filed by the League of Women Voters is still in U.S. District Court in Toledo. It claims Ohio's election system discriminates against minority voters.

I'm pretty sure I used this line before, but it still fits: Do you know what is the most important thing in comedy?
.
.
.
.
I said, do you know what is

TIMING!

Tune in next week, when Senator Kerry announces his opposition to the Bush Administration's handling of the Terry Schiavo situation.

Nero revisits the scene of the crime



The President and His Critics Mark Anniversary Along Coast
"One year doesn't mean that we'll forget," Bush said after lunching on fried shrimp and gumbo with community and state leaders at the small Ole Biloxi Schooner restaurant. "Now is the time to renew our commitment to let the people down here know that we will stay involved and help the people of Mississippi rebuild their lives."

In returning to scenes of one of his administration's biggest political embarrassments, Bush visited a city that remains a shell of its former self. Much of the debris has been removed and casinos are starting to sprout along Biloxi's waterfront, but empty lots abound, thousands of displaced people continue to live in trailers, and federal money is only beginning to trickle down to individuals and businesses, according to local leaders.

Democratic lawmakers and liberal advocacy groups flocked to the Gulf Coast in Bush's wake to offer their own, vastly more critical assessments of how well Bush and the federal government have performed in rebuilding communities swamped by Katrina.

No, we are confident that there is no danger that you "will forget," sir. We know that you have already forgotten.

George W. Bush. A man who thinks "empathy" is the kind of file his iPod plays.

But my favorite Katrina anniversary marker was the Yes Men event.
It may have been a hoax, but an announcement Monday that the federal government was reversing course and reopening public housing projects it had slated for demolition exposed a fault line in this city's efforts to recover from Hurricane Katrina.

Onstage at an investors' conference with Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin, an impostor claiming to be an assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development gave a 15-minute speech announcing the supposed policy shift.

"Our charter here at HUD is to ensure access to affordable housing for those who need it the most," said the man, who called himself as Rene Oswin. "This past year in New Orleans, I am ashamed to say that we have clearly failed to do this."

HUD immediately said there was in fact no policy change.

They will likely be charged with felony impersonation of a government official who gives a shit, unlawful exposure of hypocrisy and malcious compassion.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A rising tide (Ninth Ward edition)

Real Wages Fail to Match a Rise in Productivity - New York Times
The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity — the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation’s living standards — has risen steadily over the same period.

As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as “the golden era of profitability.”

And there, in a nutshell, is the triumph of Reaganomics, compassionate conservatism, the Laffer Curve, and every other Ponzi scheme used to make sure them that's got shall get.

In case you don't immediately grasp the import of that statistic, consider: wage and salary income are returns on labor -- the only income-earning asset most Amercians have. For lower and middle class and even well into the upper middle class, wage income is essentially identical to total income.

Returns on capital have been very, very good. That is the way corporate income gets distributed, and it goes overwhelmingly to the best off among us. But even the wage component has tilted increasingly toward the top:

In 2004, the top 1 percent of earners — a group that includes many chief executives — received 11.2 percent of all wage income, up from 8.7 percent a decade earlier and less than 6 percent three decades ago, according to Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, economists who analyzed the tax data.

I don't know if these kinds of statistics will ever awake the have-nots from their torpor. I've written before about some of the reasons for their oblivion. But these kinds of stories suggest that there must be a breaking point eventually.

I'm no Marxist -- I think he was an important philosopher but a lousy economist. But I do believe that the flavor of capitalism favored by most of the incumbents on both sides of the aisle is going to lead us to ever greater concentration of wealth until the whole thing collapses into chaos.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Dumb(er)struck



(here's hoping blogger doesn't eat this again...)

Christopher Hitchens' temper tantrum on Maher's show has now been widely reported. The blogosphere is atwitter about the what. But nobody seems to be talking about the why.

I have two different takes on this. First is the "Under the Volcano" hypothesis. Hitch was once one of the most talented writers around, and an exceptionally skilled debater. The last thing you would have expected in a context like "Real Time" would be to find him at a loss for words.

I have absolutely no personal knowledge as to the truth or falsity of the stories about his alcoholism. But it does seem to me that when Christopher Hitchens resorts to the panic button of the slow and inarticulate, something has gone very much awry.

The other way of looking at this is in tandem with Ann Coulter's meltdown on Faux a few days earlier. When Coulter was called on her absurd assertion that things were going "swimmingly" in Afghanistan, she was unable to respond.

Hitch's participation in the ACLU-NSA case to the contrary, he has been a stalwart defender of the Adminstration's increasingly indefensible foreign policy. Coulter has been indefensibility personified. Yet this week the string seemed to run out for both of them -- the contradictions and cognitive dissonances overwhelmed their baser fears and instincts, belief was suspended, and their voices fell silent. I remember seeing Bill Kristol have a similar moment a few weeks ago -- when he was called on his alternate-universe worldview, he was reduced to gobsmacked silence.

I predict we are going to see a lot more of that as Bushworld continues to unravel.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

munch munch munch

blogger is eating posts again.

yummy.

Friday, August 25, 2006

A small personal diversion



I saw in the paper this morning that Maynard Ferguson is dead.

My guess is most of you will have no idea who he was. But if by any chance you played in your high school's jazz band, you probably do.

This obit captures some of how I feel:

...We all keep secrets. One of mine is that if I were to be somebody else in life, I would be a trumpet player. Playing the trumpet is a primal experience, human lips pressed next to cold brass, no need for a quivering reed in-between, and somehow flesh and metal together produce a sound at the other end that is clear, clarion, bold, the call that heralds angels. Playing the trumpet combines aesthetics with athleticism. It is the height of macho. Chops, cheeks, breath control, tight stomach, tight butt, erect posture, flexed biceps, spit. And now I will tell you a dirty little secret. One of my favorite trumpet players is a guy named Maynard Ferguson. I was once a member of the Maynard Ferguson fan club. This is a dirty secret because Maynard would never be the choice of self-respecting jazz aficionados, and I'm afraid that naming him as one of my guilty pleasures will probably discredit me among my music colleagues here.

Listening to Maynard was only rarely a guilty pleasure for me. When I was in high school, there was no guilt. By the time I graduated, my tastes had, too, and there wasn't much listening anymore.

But I was different from the guy who wrote the quoted text: I was a trumpet player, and when I was in high school, I had my own big band, modeled after Maynard's. Kids, some of whom were too young to drive, came from several counties away to play in it. We played Maynard's charts; I played his parts, imitated the physicality (it works), and killed countless brain cells playing high and loud enough that I regularly came close to blacking out from oxygen deprivation. I wasn't as strong or near as talented as Maynard (he really was a freak of nature), but I might have been good enough to hold down one of the seats in his trumpet section. By the time I got to college, that didn't look so attractive, but there you go.

Putting together and performing with that band was, even now, some of the most fun I've ever had. And we were better than you'd expect: a couple of the guys who played in my band went on to play in bands like Stan Kenton's and the Ellington band.

Ironically, Crooks & Liars ran a video of one Maynard's most amazing feats just a week or so ago. Give it look.

In retrospect, the music was crude and camp and hardly jazz at all.

But damn, it was fun.

And that's what is going through my head today.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Back to Armageddon watch

OK, OK.

I agree with the hecklers in the back row -- the Iran problem is orders of magnitude scarier than a hundred dead sexualized six year olds, their alleged killers and their musician-doppelgängers. And I had not read Larry Johnson's take on the likely path of our despair. But I find nothing to dispute in his latest, Why Bush will Choose War Against Iran.

As Anonymous points out, I've been making noise about the dangers of any military action against Iran since last October, and about this very danger since April.

What to do? I wish I knew. One of the no-way-out paradoxes here is that the more likely it becomes that the Republicans will lose control of one or more chambers of Congress, the more likely these criminals will be to decide to pre-emptively roll the dice in Iran.

That is the true genius of Karl Rove -- not that he architects success, but that his mistakes are so complete and severe they are utterly unfixable.

So what do you think we can do to deflect this meteor?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Your turn to be creeped out


John Mark Karr, 2006



Peter Gabriel, circa 1986

I know something about opening windows and doors
I know how to move quietly to creep across creaky wooden floors
I know where to find precious things in all your cupboards and drawers
Slipping the clippers
Slipping the clippers through the telephone wires
The sense of isolation inspires
Inspires me
I like to feel the suspense when I'm certain you know I am there
I like you lying awake, your baited breath charging the air
I like the touch and the smell of all the pretty dresses you wear
Intruders happy in the dark
Intruder come
Intruder come and leave his mark, leave his mark

Lyrics, Intruder from III (a/k/a "Melt", 1980)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Lacuna Macaca


WUSA9.com - Exclusive Poll Results Show Allen Losing Ground
In an election for the United States Senate in Virginia today, 8/21/06, incumbent Republican George Allen edges Democrat challenger James Webb 48% to 45%, according to an exclusive SurveyUSA poll conducted for W*USA-TV in Washington, DC.

Since an identical SurveyUSA poll released 6/28/06, Allen has lost 8 points and Webb has gained 8 points. Allen's lead has shrunk from 19 points to 3 points.

Interviewing for this poll began 8/18/06, one week after Allen singled out a Webb campaign worker at an Allen rally. Allen has lost support across all demographic groups, but in particular, among younger voters. He has gone from Plus 23 to Minus 17, a swing of 40 points. In Southeastern VA, Allen has gone from a 2:1 lead to a tie, a 31-point swing.


I am a little skeptical that the fallout from George Allen's racist denouement will really hurt him enough in November to make the difference, but Allen sure has dug hisself into a bit of a hole.

I don't have much insight to add to the story. I just wanted to show off that headline.

(Lacuna = small pit or cavity)

Teh funny

MercuryNews.com | 08/21/2006 | Do not fear the Blogosphere

No, I didn't make it up, and no I haven't even read the article.

But when I saw the lede, my first thought was, "physician, heal thyself."

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Another reason I have been posting less often

Der Spiegel, 8/18/06
The Coming Conflict: Natural Resources are Fuelling a New Cold War

Natural Resources are Fuelling a New Cold War

By Erich Follath

Oil and gas supplies are becoming scarcer and more expensive. The hunt for the world's remaining resources is creating new alliances and the danger of fresh conflicts. China is moving aggressively to sate its growing appetite for energy, potentially setting up a confrontation with the United States for the dwindling resources of the Middle East and Africa.

Der Blau Meme, 6/30/05:
There is a famous quote from Albert Einstein about war. He said “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."

I am considerably less qualified than Einstein to predict the weapons to be used in WWIII, but I am pretty sure of what it will be about, and who we will be fighting against. In fact, the war has already begun. The war is about oil, and our dance partner is China.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Almost worth violating the blackface ceasefire

Tonight I watched The News Hour. Friday is of course pundit day, which always spikes my blood pressure. Anyway, Bobo must have been on vacation, because Mark Shields' wingnut counterpart tonight was Ramesh Ponnuru. And the timing could not have been better, because one of the topics was George Allen's macaca moment.

Had Brooks been there, I would have expected him to pooh-pooh the whole thing and sweep the inconvenient truths under the rug. But Ponnuru is of Indian descent. Despite (or perhaps because of) his Republican social life, there is simply no friggin' way he has made it from his childhood in Kansas City to his current lofty perch without hearing a few racial slurs aimed his way. I know that I have a visceral reaction when I am the target of any anti-Semitism, or even witness its expression. And if Mahatma Ghandi or Dr. King or Howard Dean called somebody a kike, I would condemn him.

The shameful dissembling of the mainstream coverage to the contrary, there can be absolutely no doubt that Allen said what he meant and meant what he said. Macaca is a dog-whistle N-word, well understood among the white sheet crowd. Allen's mother grew up in French Tunisia -- ground zero for this exact slur.

So when Margret Warner asked Mr. "Party of Death" whether one of his Republican homies is the kind of racist asshole who embodies the reason self-respecting, non-prostitute-ish people of color stay the hell away from the Republican party, did Ponnuru give voice to his inner human?

Of course not -- he is a Republican uber alles. Eager to affirm his subservience, Ramesh showed us his best Steppin Fetchit:
And, Ramesh, the blogosphere went wild over this. Legitimately so?

RAMESH PONNURU: Well, I think so. You know, partly it's because George Allen is considered a presidential hopeful for 2008, and partly because of just the weirdness of the entire incident and the fact that it was captured on tape. I mean, Indian-Americans, we've really been taking it on the chin from senators lately, between Joe Biden talking about the 7-Elevens, and Hillary Clinton about Gandhi having run a gas station. I don't know what it is with the senators these days.

MARGARET WARNER: So do you think it was a racist remark?

RAMESH PONNURU: I think at the very least it indicates a certain lack of political judgment on the part of George Allen and a certain kind of vindictiveness. To go after a 20-year-old, you know, who's working for the other campaign, just it makes you wonder whether this guy is really ready for primetime.
Warner gave him two chances to distance himself from Allen's indisputably racist outburst. Twice he declined. And notice how Ramesh tries to to make the story about two Democratic Senators. Calling a fellow Republican a racist could lead to a dangerous drop in the willingness of said racists to ask him to join in their reindeer games. Thus the rhetorical shuck and jive about "political judgment."

It is difficult to feel pity for a man so willing to sell his soul.

More FreedomTM: Newcastle imports coal

Think Progress » Iraq Forced To Import Oil To Tackle Shortages

Iraq has doubled the money allocated for importing oil products in August and September to tackle the country’s worst fuel shortage since Saddam Hussein’s 2003 ouster, a senior Iraqi official said Thursday. Even though Iraq has the world’s third-largest proven oil reserves, it is forced to depend on imports because of an acute shortage of refined products such as gasoline, kerosene and cooking gas. Sabotage of pipelines by insurgents, corruption and aging refineries have been blamed.

Perhaps they could dispatch Halliburton to retrieve some of the petroleum currently fouling more than 100 miles of the Lebanese coast.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

More flashbacks

I am beginning to think that one of the signal indicators of growing old is that everything begins to remind you of something else.

Back in college, I studied electronic music. (This was back when a $100,000 synthesizer was incapable of most of the things a $50 Casio can do today.) Anyway, one of the coolest pieces we listened to in the classroom was the audio equivalent of an optical illusion: difficult to describe, but it consisted of a series of individual tones that seemed to rise in pitch, but in fact didn't change -- it was a trick caused by varying volume. So it perpetually seemed to go up, but there was no actual movement.

Which, like I said, is where my brain when when I saw this.

Twin Georges

A pseudo-southern Republican, with a history of exceptional cruelty. A general perception that he lacks intellectual gravitas. A famous father.

Bush?

Wrong George.

And now there is compelling evidence that Senator Allen is a major-league, David Dukes-class racist. If you have any doubts about the etymology of "Macaca," this ought to resolve the issue.

The wagon-circling on the right will be interesting to watch.

The Arcana of the Covenant

Coupla days ago I pointed out that Joemental's post-meltdown website contained a probable trademark law violation. Emptywheel over at Next Hurrah is trying hard to give this story legs, and gives props here. That story is in turn picked up by MCJoan @ dKos here.

Don't worry, fame won't change me a bit.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Maybe the problem is the literacy rate

From the LA Times via Daily Kos: Fallujah's police force disappears
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Hundreds of newly recruited police officers in Fallujah failed to show up for work Sunday after insurgents disseminated pamphlets threatening officers who stayed on the job, according to police officials in the restive western Iraq city.

"We will kill all the policemen infidels," read the pamphlets, "whether or not they quit or are still in their jobs."

Fallujah Police Lt. Mohammed Alwan said that the force, which he estimated had increased to more than 2,000, has now shrunk to only 100. Alwan said that insurgents have killed dozens of policemen in their homes and also attacked family members in a weeks-long intimidation campaign.

A Fallujah police major, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to a fear of reprisals, said that at least 1,400 policemen had left their jobs since Friday, 400 of them police officials above the rank of officer.

Our Lil' Orphan Annie Administration will address this problem by hiring a new cadre of recruits who cannot read, which will have the minor drawback of making it a little bit harder to teach them the words to "Tomorrow."

Monday, August 14, 2006

Lieberman site may violate Lanham Act

Emptypockets @ Next Hurrah has found something that is oh so much bigger than s/he knows.

The post, Will the AFL-CIO back Lieberman?, is about how the metadata on Joementum's revived website contains the name "AFL-CIO," despite the fact that the union has not made any endorsement in the 2006 general election.
So is Sen. Lieberman actively misrepresenting his primary endorsement? Or is it just an accident, showing that even after his recent troubles his campaign still can't figure out how to set up a website properly?

I called Sen. Lieberman's campaign (860-244-2006), and the CT AFL-CIO (860-571-6191) about 3 hours ago for more information. Sen. Lieberman's campaign office asked to get back to me, and at the AFL-CIO I was directed to their political education director's voicemail. I left a pseudonym and my real email with each office, and will update if I hear anything. In the meantime, if you're curious about it, give the Senator's campaign a call and ask them why they're advertising an endorsement from the AFL-CIO.

Every once in a while, one of the messes from my past lives becomes relevant. This may be one of those times.

If The AFL-CIO metatag emptypockets found is there without the AFL-CIO's consent, then this, my friends, is not just stupid -- it may also be illegal.

The Lanham Act is the name for the main body of federal trademark law. "AFL-CIO," in addition to being the name of a powerful union, is also a registered trademark. It has been several years since I looked at the law on this, so it is entirely possible that things have changed, but I think that sticking someone else's trademark in your website's hidden text for the purpose of suggesting a non-existent affiliation is still against the law. It is possible that there is some exception for use in a political context, but I am not aware of one.

So in addition to tearing Lieberman a new one for this stunt, the AFL-CIO could probably bring a trademark infringement claim.

Quelle Surprise

Atrios notes that George Felix Allen's pet name for the Webb operative following him around coincidentally sounds a bit like an established slur directed at northern Africans (said operative's mother is apparently of European and Tunisian extraction).

Not like we couldn't have seen it coming.

(Update: Link fixed.)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Oh, that other thing.....

NYT ombudsman Byron Calame offers another (woefully incomplete) peek behind the curtain regarding the paper's shameful decision to spike the NSA spying story on the eve of the 2004 election. What he doesn't do is connect some rather significant dots. But emptywheel @ The Next Hurrah does.
At the same time as some of NYT's top editors were consulting with the WH over whether or not to publish a story that would reveal BushCo was spying on citizens, it was also conducting discussions, through Floyd Abrams, about whether or not Judy should testify about her conversation with Scooter Libby. Hmmm. Scooter Libby. The National Security Adviser and Chief of Staff to the Vice President and Assistant to the President. A guy who was, undoubtedly, right in the thick of justifying and protecting this illegal spying program. A guy who was probably involved in some, if not all, of the attempts to persuade the NYT not to publish the Risen story.

At precisely the same time that the NYT's top editors realized Libby's lawyer was trying to coach Judy's testimony, many of the same editors decided not to publish the domestic spying story because it wouldn't be fair.

Judith Miller. The gift that keeps on grifting.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Greenwald nails it

Legal surveillance, not illegal eavesdropping, stopped the U.K. terrorist attacks
In their zeal to imprison Jim Risen and the New York Times editors responsible for disclosure of the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program, Bush followers continuously claimed that this disclosure somehow alerted terrorists to the fact that we were eavesdropping on their conversations (as though they were not aware of that before) and that, as a result, we have now lost the ability to monitor their conversations. Now that they know we are eavesdropping, so this "reasoning" goes, they will not use telephones to talk to each other any more.

And yet, here was a major plot foiled because the terrorist plotters were using telephones to communicate about their plans -- and using banking systems to wire money -- all of which law enforcement could track within the law. This whole episode potently illustrates just how inane are the claims that the Times' NSA story (and its SWIFT disclosures) would endanger national security. Terrorists already knew full well that we monitor their telephone conversations and banking transactions, and they knew that before the New York Times "told" them so. But in order to plan terrorist attacks, terrorists must communicate with one another and send money to each other. Somehow, the Times' story did not prevent us from eavesdropping on all of these conversations. That's because the Times stories -- as has been evident from the beginning -- told terrorists nothing which they could use to avoid detection.

Only Bush followers could point to a successful law enforcement operation which, by all appearances, complied with the law, and try to use it to argue how necessary it is that the law be broken.

The Terrah Show breaks the fourth wall

Aravosis notices that there is a serious suspension of disbelief issue with the latest airport charade:
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport planned to give 11 boxes of surrendered items to the city's human services department, which will give the unopened bottles of shampoo, toothpaste and other items to homeless shelters, airport spokeswoman Lexie Van Haren said.
Same thing in Pennsylvania - seems YOU can't take it on the plane because it might be a bomb, but THEY can sell it on eBay without knowing if it's a bomb, or they're sure it's not a bomb, so then why did they take it in the first place?:
In Pennsylvania, state officials were considering pulling some discarded items for a state program that resells on eBay any items of value relinquished at airport security checkpoints, said Edward Myslewicz, spokesman for the General Services Department.
Combine that with the way they are asking folks in some airports to pour their potential bomb precursors into one big vat, and you get the sense that Penn & Teller want you to see how it is done.

I am so looking forward to my flight home today.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Goose and Gander

It appears that assembling the rogue's gallery referenced by Dr. Bloor yesterday was insufficient. They felt it necessary to photoshop a mustache onto Howard Dean's face, too.

I'm sure those same Malkintents who were so apoplectic at the photoshopping of a little extra smoke into that Reuters photo of Beirut will all rush to condemn this outrage as well.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Wherein the daddies at the Post explain the Truth to us

WaPo editorial:

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman's decision to move forward with an independent candidacy after his loss in the Democratic primary is a controversial choice but in this circumstance the correct one. The leaders of Mr. Lieberman's party lined up yesterday to endorse Ned Lamont, the political newcomer who rode a wave of antiwar fervor to upset the incumbent senator. That's not surprising: After all, Democratic voters selected Mr. Lamont to represent them. And as weak a competitor as the Republican candidate, Alan Schlesinger, may be, those leaders have to worry that Mr. Lamont and Mr. Lieberman would split the vote and make way for Mr. Schlesinger or a replacement. (The state's popular Republican governor, M. Jodi Rell, has called on Mr. Schlesinger to step aside.)
...therefore, Mr. Lamont, the winner of the primary, should step aside for the good of the party. And what the hell does Rell's comment about Schlesinger have to do with anything here, anyways?

But the critical question facing voters in November, as opposed to party leaders now, is who would make the better senator -- which is why we welcome Mr. Lieberman's decision to remain in the race. He would be, by far, the better choice for the people of Connecticut.

We're aware of your endorsement, but as I recall, there was a big election on Tuesday where the Democratic voters of CT thought otherwise.
We are not among those who differ substantially with Mr. Lieberman on Iraq, but we recognize the widespread anger over the conduct of the war and wish Mr. Lieberman had done a better job, earlier in the campaign, of articulating his position and emphasizing his differences with President Bush. In reality, he has been offering sharp but constructive criticism since early in the war. If he had made that clearer -- and if he had run a more organized, more tightly disciplined campaign -- Mr. Lieberman might not have found himself in this unhappy predicament, only the fourth incumbent senator in the past quarter-century to lose a primary.
Let's review: he lost not because he's been the bipartisan fig leaf for the Republicans on an elective, poorly conceived and tragically excuted war, and impugned the character of Democrats who would dare to disagree with the President; not because he's willing to trash the rule of law in the Schaivo case for the purposes of imposing his own authoritarian values on life-and-death decisions; not because he was the only New England democrat to support the disasterous energy policy foisted on the American people; and not because CT residents who happened not to live in New Haven haven't seen or heard from him in years. It's because he didn't sell himself effectively.

...

The turnout in Connecticut was a record for a primary in the state, a healthy development and a measure of the intensity this election is generating. But the almost 300,000 who voted still represented a minority of the electorate; in 1998, the last nonpresidential election year that a Connecticut senatorial seat was up for grabs, close to 1 million voters came to the polls. We hope that the broader electorate will choose to return Mr. Lieberman to the Senate -- the best outcome for the state, the country, and, yes, even the Democratic Party.

So unless all registered Democrats turned out and all others intending to vote in the fall election switched parties to vote in the primary, well, it really doesn't count. By the same reasoning, of course, none of the elections held in recent (and I'm sure in distant) memory are valid, nor should they be taken as an index of the will of the people.

Authoritarian fuckwitticisms, top to bottom, and even more so than we've come to expect from the Post. We can only hope The Washington Post Co. and the WaPo editorial board drive themselves into bankruptcy helping to fund Loserman's illegitimate campaign.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Maybe they can head up Lieberman's new IT team


Screenshot, via Atrios, of GOP.com's website. Catchy slogan, top-drawer photoediting, snazzy graphics--where have I seen all of this before? Oh....yes, now I remember:

http://www.magazines.com/magcom/covers/0/06/338/0063387.jpg

Update: Don't forget to notice the Hitleresque 'stache they photoshopped onto Howard Dean's picture.

A kiss is just a kiss...

Sayeth Stephanoloulos:
According to a close Lieberman adviser, the President's political guru, Karl Rove, has reached out to the Lieberman camp with a message straight from the Oval Office: "The boss wants to help. Whatever we can do, we will do."


Joe could still do terrible damage in service of his ego. But the next few weeks will offer some amazing rubbernecking opportunities.

Zell Lieberman

A bit inside baseball, perhaps, but if we can make it stick, it will sting its target.

Or is he so far gone that he will take it as a compliment?

The Martingale meme

Josh Marshall:

But there do appear to be forces in Washington -- seemingly the stronger ones, with Rice just a facade -- who see this whole thing as an opportunity for a grand call of double or nothing to get out of the disaster they've created in the region. Go into Syria, maybe Iran. Try to roll the table once and for all. No failed war that a new war can't solve.

Cunning Realist
:
In Vegas, the pit bosses have a term for a player deep in the hole who starts increasing his bets dramatically in an attempt to get his money back: a "steamer." Desperate gamblers are dangerous, so steamers get extra scrutiny from the eye in the sky. It's "steaming" time for this White House. And the wife waiting anxiously at home, aware of her husband's compulsion and wondering how the mortgage or kids' tuition will get paid if he blows it all? That's us.


Light posting from me for the next couple of days, as I will traveling on bidness.

Have fun storming the castle.

Loser

From the Today Show, via Atrios:

LAUER: Let me go back to that line in your speech last night. I'll paraphrase it if you don't mind. You said, for the sake of your state, your country and my party, you will not let these results stand. It's a nice line in the speech, but the fact of the matter is there are a lot of Democrats who think that now going forward you are putting your own personal ambitions above the good of the party.

How do you respond to that?

LIEBERMAN: Well, I think it's time for somebody to break through the dominance of both parties by the margins of the parties, which happens in primaries. I think it's time for somebody to break through and say, Hey, let's cut out the partisan nonsense.
This is right up there with the "virtual tie for third" nonsense he was spinning after he got his ass handed to him in the 04 New Hampshire primary. The magnificent turnout by the voters of Connecticut completely dismantles this piece of his rationale for continuing; Lamont didn't win because the only folks in town to vote were broke, burned-out McGovernites with "Fight the Man" bumperstickers on their rusting microbuses.

If Joe insists on staying in, he's going to do it with Republican money and the implicit or explicit endorsement of the Republican party. The voters of Connecticut have an easy choice: they can vote for Lieberman or they can vote for a Democrat. But no matter what he says, they can't vote for both.

Simple, really.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Finally!




This is big. No more moral victories.

Lieberman isn't going quietly. But he is going. Actually, he's gone -- politically, he's dead man walking.

The blogosphere was only a part of the story -- the real story is that we are a part of a much larger movement -- what Kos is calling "people-powered politics." And that is a wave that has not even begun to crest.

Today says something very important about small "d" democracy. Primaries should be contested. Incumbents should run scared every time they run. The fact that Congressional recidivism puts the Politburo to shame is a national disgrace -- as is the power of the permanent class of remoras who consult to and report on those clowns.

Not today.

Hot damn.

The Internets are falling! The Internets are falling!

So the Liebercrowd is hurling accusations at the Lamont camp because the Lieberman website mysteriously went down. Having gone all grassy knoll on us, and getting a ton of media to bite, turns out their $15/month web host pulled the plug for exceeding bandwidth limits.

If that isn't the perfect nutshell moment for this old vs. new campaign, I don't know what is.

Hell, those whack jobs out there at the other end of Senator Stevens' tubes aren't important anyway, right Joe?

Where shitty talk show hosts go to die

I was wrong. I didn't think it was possible to see one's career sink lower than getting a gig as the equivalent of a rodeo clown for a bunch of beered-up Monday Night Football fans. And then I didn't think it was possible to sink lower than hosting a talk show so bad it made Jim Cramer look good, but Dennis Miller has done it again:
Dennis Miller is hardly shy about expressing his conservative political views.

The 52-year-old comedian, who has voiced his support for President Bush and the U.S. invasion of Iraq, will talk politics as a contributor on Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes," network spokeswoman Dana Klinghoffer told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Miller starts Sept. 13.

...

In 2003, Miller was a regular guest on "Hannity & Colmes," hosted by Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes. He also had his own short-lived CNBC political talk show, "Dennis Miller."

Miller, who delivered a fake newscast on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," also spent two seasons on the announcing team of ABC's "NFL Monday Night Football."

His HBO talk show, "Dennis Miller Live," aired from 1994-2002.
Suffice it to say, this probably won't dissuade the zoo over at Faux from dismissing the opinions of Baldwin, Franken et al as the empty bloviatings of the know-nothing Hollywood set.

Fear and Loathing in Connecticut

In which The General channels HST.

The "A list" bloggers are all at pains to deny that the Lamont campaign is an artifact of the blogosphere, and I am sure they are right, but I am also amazed at how many of them (Hamsher, Atrios, Bowers, Stoller) are physically there. It won't be our win, but believe you me it will be our loss.

I'm having that night-before-Fitzmas mixture of excitement and dread. One of David Sirota's commenters summed up my feelings:
Close only counts in horseshoes and nuclear war.

Never wound the king. The progressives have taken aim. A miss will be a miss. After a string of almosts, the progressives have to get a win, and this is just about the only one out there for this election season.

Lamont wins = energized base.

Lieberman wins = dispirited base.


The word of the day is tenterhooks.

pan-meme-ism

Stalwart reader esoder sympathizes with our utter disgust for the ease with which the Pennsylvania Green Party was bought by Rick Santorum, and offers alternatives to His Broccoliness:



Feel free to submit additional contestants. Episodes of "American Meme" will begin soon, complete with nasty judges, allegations of improper consortion with contestants, illegal steroids, and rigged voting.

Monday, August 07, 2006

A friendly reminder from the reality-based community

In yesterday's NY Times:

To the Editor:

David Brooks writes: “Today’s super-wealthy no longer go off on four-month grand tours of Europe, play gin-soaked Gatsbyesque croquet tournaments or spend hours doing needlepoint while thinking in full paragraphs like the heroines of Jane Austen novels. Instead, their lives are marked by sleep deprivation and conference calls.’’

Jane Austen’s women were squarely in the middle class and often part of families on the verge of economic ruin. The reason they sat home doing needlepoint is that women of their class weren’t allowed to do much else.

The reason they thought in full paragraphs is that they were blessed to be the creations of Jane Austen.

Betsy Feist
New York, Aug. 3, 2006


At least the source material for Brooks's alternate universe is something classier than Star Trek.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Wife of Convicted GOP Official Hired by Chafee Campaign

That principle and integrity thing is working out so well for Holy Joe in Connecticut, Linc Chafee has decided to help himself to some for his primary race in RI:

Interesting fact: In its latest filing to the Federal Election Commission, the campaign of Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee(R-R.I.) lists $386,000 in payments for "consulting services" to a firm called Northeast Strategies LLC, listed on Kenduskeag Avenue in Bangor, Maine.

Tantalizing fact: The same Kenduskeag Avenue address is home to James Tobin, a former regional official of the Republican National Committee.

Eyebrow-raising fact: James Tobin was found guilty last year of criminally violating federal elections law, having participated in a scheme by New Hampshire Republicans to jam Democratic get-out-the-vote phone lines on Election Day 2002.

What does this all add up to? Well, not what you're thinking, according to Chafee's campaign.

Campaign manager Ian Lang said that Tobin has no role in the company or the Chafee campaign. Instead, he said, Northeast Strategies is made up of Tobin's wife, Ellen, and a political consultant, Kathie Summers.

James Tobin -- who is appealing his December 2005 conviction -- "is not involved at all," Lang said. He said that the money pays for mailings, phone calls and staff, in addition to Summers's expertise.


Convenient, and foolproof. Mister and Missus Tobin can't even be compelled to testify against one another at the trial.

When Roger Ailes greenlighted casual Fridays..


... the on-air staff thought it applied to them, too.

(picture via Shakespeare's Sister)

The Martingale School of Foreign Policy

At long last, my latest long-form diatribe is available at Raw Story.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The last Friedman

Oh my. A wonderfully useful shorthand for "another six months" just bit the dust. The Mustache of Freedom has finally decided that one more Friedman will change nothing, and includes himself out of the Neverland brigade:
[T]hree years of efforts to democratize Iraq are not working. That means “staying the course” is pointless, and it’s time to start thinking about Plan B — how we might disengage with the least damage possible.

…But the administration now has to admit what anyone — including myself — who believed in the importance of getting Iraq right has to admit: Whether for Bush reasons or Arab reasons, it is not happening, and we can’t throw more good lives after good lives.

Finally, the war in Iraq has so divided us at home and abroad that leaving, while bringing other problems, might also make it easier to build coalitions to deal with post-U.S. Iraq, Iran, Hezbollah and Syria. All these problems are connected. We need to deal with Iran and Syria, but from a position of strength — and that requires a broad coalition.

The longer we maintain a unilateral failing strategy in Iraq, the harder it will be to build such a coalition, and the stronger the enemies of freedom will become.

So this will most likely be the last time I can utter the rallying cry, "Not one Friedman longer!"

Friedman is still a wanker -- note the residual kool-aid effects manifested by the "enemies of freedom" recitation. And I am not holding my breath waiting for his apology for his part in getting and keeping us in this mess. But I think the short term focus should be on welcoming him back into the reality-based community.

There will be plenty of time for dragging him before the Truth Commission later.

Batting a thousand

from McClatchy Washington Bureau:
When Syrian troops left Lebanon in April 2005, ending a 29-year occupation, the Bush administration was quick to call their departure and the events that followed a victory in its campaign for democracy in the Middle East.

"Any who doubt the appeal of freedom in the Middle East can look to Lebanon," President Bush said in March 2005, as anti-Syrian protesters crowded Beirut's streets and squares in what became known as the Cedar Revolution, after Lebanon's national symbol.

With Lebanon now convulsed by its worst violence since the 1975-1990 civil war, that assessment, like much of the Bush administration's rhetoric about spreading democracy in the Middle East, appears to have been too rosy.
...
The criticism that the Bush administration failed to think through its policies is similar to that leveled against it in Iraq, where the White House and the Pentagon failed to plan for the aftermath of the U.S. invasion, and in the Palestinian territories, where the administration pushed for elections that brought the terrorist group Hamas into government.

"Just getting Syria out (of Lebanon) was a narrowly focused policy," said Daniel Benjamin, a top counter-terrorism official in the Clinton administration who's now at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"There was a lot of merit in that," Benjamin said. "But we only went half the distance."

"We did nothing, we did absolutely nothing" to bolster the weak Lebanese government after the Syrian withdrawal, said a State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the comments contradict official policy.

There's that taste of vomit again.

Sane, high-functioning adults simply cannot produce such consistently tragic results -- even pure evil cannot produce results with this kind of consistency.

The complete inability to project ten minutes into the future is evidence of profound mental deficits. It is like the country is being run by the man who mistook his wife for a hat.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Why The Daily Show will go the way of Tom Lehrer

Most of you are probably too young to know who Tom Lehrer is. (Think Mark Russell, only with talent.) When he retired from his political musical satire career (actually, it was well after he retired that he said it, but let's not let facts get in the way), he said "political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Prize."

Rinse. Lather. Repeat:
In his new book, The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created A War Without End, (Former Ambassador Peter) Galbraith, the son of the late economist John Kenneth Galbraith, claims that American leadership knew very little about the nature of Iraqi society and the problems it would face after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

A year after his “Axis of Evil” speech before the U.S. Congress, President Bush met with three Iraqi Americans, one of whom became postwar Iraq’s first representative to the United States. The three described what they thought would be the political situation after the fall of Saddam Hussein. During their conversation with the President, Galbraith claims, it became apparent to them that Bush was unfamiliar with the distinction between Sunnis and Shiites.

Galbraith reports that the three of them spent some time explaining to Bush that there are two different sects in Islam--to which the President allegedly responded, “I thought the Iraqis were Muslims!”

What can Jon Stewart do other than roll his eyes? This one tells itself.
the poets down here
don't write nothing at all,
they just stand back
and let it all be
Bruce Springsteen, Jungleland

New, Improved FreedomTM

BAGHDAD, Iraq Aug 4, 2006 (AP)— Hundreds of thousands of Shiites chanting "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" marched through the streets of Baghdad's biggest Shiite district Friday in a show of support for Hezbollah militants battling Israeli troops in Lebanon.

No violence was reported during the rally in the Sadr City neighborhood. But at least 35 people were killed elsewhere in Iraq, many of them in a car bombing and gunbattle in the northern city of Mosul.

The demonstration was the biggest in the Middle East in support of Hezbollah since the Israeli army launched an offensive July 12 after a guerrilla raid on northern Israel. The protest was organized by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose political movement built around the Mahdi Army militia has been modeled after Hezbollah.
...
Demonstrators, wearing white burial shrouds symbolizing their willingness to die for Hezbollah, waved the group's yellow banner and chanted slogans in support of its leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, who has attained a cult status in the Arab world for his defiance of Israel.

"Allah, Allah, give victory to Hassan Nasrallah," the crowd chanted.

"Mahdi Army and Hezbollah are one. Let them confront us if they dare," the predominantly male crowd shouted, waving the flags of Hezbollah, Lebanon and Iraq.
...
Al-Sadr followers painted U.S. and Israeli flags on the main road leading to the rally site, and demonstrators stepped on them a gesture of contempt in Iraq. Alongside the painted flags was written: "These are the terrorists."

Protesters set fire to American and Israeli flags, as well as effigies of President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, showing the men with Dracula teeth. "Saddam and Bush, Two Faces of One Coin" was scrawled on Bush's effigy.

I guess the appearance of all this FreedomTM (now with 30% more shrapnel!) is why our military still considers a civil war a "possibility."

(Get used to it, Bloor. I hardly notice the taste of vomit when reading the news now. It's just the new normal -- FreedomTM in action.)

Those cheeseburgers must be really good

Speaking of negative campaigning, Holy Joe really hits his stride during the closing days of his run for re-election. Via Stoller:

Ok, so this is instructive, so bear with me for a bit while I walk through one particular person who seemed to be spearheading he Lieberman charge at the cheeseburger joint yesterday. The Record-Journal story pointed out that the main guy harrassing Ned was named Richard Goodstein.

"It was supposed to be a laid-back event and (they) ruined it." "We're just using our right. We're just exercising our rights to enjoy a burger," said Lieber­man supporter Alex Hoffman of Boston. Supporters of each candidate debated outside on the side­walk while many Lieberman supporters continued to badger Lamont, who acknowledged most questions. Richard Good­stein, one of the most vocal Lieberman supporters, repeat­edly shouted, "Are you a Bill Clinton Democrat or an Al Sharpton Democrat?" Lamont calmly said he supported both.
Is this the same Richard Goodstein who gave Lieberman $1500 for his 2004 Presidential run? Because that Goodstein is a lobbyist in DC for the chemical and health supplies industry.

So, to review:

*The new face of the Lieberman campaign is a middle-aged, angry white guy, AND
*He's caught telling a story that requires the cognitive development of a three-year-old to believe, AND
*His professional background reminds everyone of the ongoing menage a trois between Joe, his wife Hadassah and Big Pharma (ew...I just threw up in my mouth a little).

Trifecta!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

In honor of the political season



The meme goes negative.

I have a gub

The founder of the Institute of which I am a part is widely regarded as one of the great original voices on the Internets. His work has been lifted by NPR. It is regularly cited by the top bloggers. His recent hard-edged insights into the foibles and fables of the political world are well-crafted and original.

And yet.

The Editors are kinda like Woody Allen -- his serious work is good, sometimes even great... but we miss Sleeper, Love & Death, and Take the Money and Run.

Well, kids, the funny Poor Man is back.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

We're running out of colors

Poor Mr. Meme. First, he was Blue:


Then, after the Senate Democrats rolled over for the umpteenth time and gave a flyer to another one of King George's authoritarian sociopathic nominees (Gonzales? Roberts? Alito? It's all a blur...), we felt compelled to give Mr. M. a dye job. Green seemed logical at the time, in spite of the comments by some readers noting that he now looked like a piece of broccoli with bad dentition:


But now, this from TPM Cafe:

OK, we've done it. We've nailed it down: Every single contributor to the Pennsylvania Green Party Senate candidate is actually a conservative -- except for the candidate himself.

The Luzerne County Green Party raised $66,000 in the month of June in order to fund a voter signature drive. The Philly Inquirer reported yesterday that $40,000 came from supporters of Rick Santorum's campaign (or their housemates). Also yesterday, we confirmed that another $15,000 came from GOP donors and conservatives. Only three contributions, totaling $11,000, remained as possible legit donations.

Today, I confirmed that those came from GOP sources.

Thereby taking the concept of "Useful Idiots" to a whole new level.

As for Mr. Meme, though, I'm thinking "tie dye."

Our liberal press

David Sirota has a couple of recent postings that offer interesting insights into some of the folks who are seen by many as liberal mainstram writers.

There's chickenhawk Peter Beinart, who edited a 2004 letter from a serviceman to omit the part where he challenged the New Republicans to put their asses where their warblogging was.

But this is the one that threw me: the reason the Mustache of Freedom seems to be such a tool of the monied class is that he is so friggin' rich he can buy most of them:

As the July edition of the Washingtonian Magazine notes, Friedman lives in "a palatial 11,400-square-foot house, now valued at $9.3 million, on a 7½-acre parcel just blocks from I-495 and Bethesda Country Club." He "married into one of the 100 richest families in the country" - the Bucksbaums, whose real-estate Empire is valued at $2.7 billion.

Let's be clear - I'm a capitalist, so I have no problem with people doing well or living well, even Tom Friedman. That said, this does potentially explain an ENORMOUS amount about Friedman's perspective. Far from the objective, regular-guy interpreter of globalization that the D.C. media portrays him to be, Friedman is a member of the elite of the economic elite on the planet Earth. In fact, he's married into such a giant fortune, it's probably more relevant to refer to him as Billionaire Scion Tom Friedman than columnist Tom Friedman, both because that's more descriptive of what he represents, and more important for readers of his work to know so that they know a bit about where he's coming from.

Mind you, I don't think everyone needs to publish their net worth. But Friedman's not everyone. He's not just "doing pretty well" and is not just any old columnist. He's not just a millionaire or a multimillionaire - he's member of one of the wealthiest families in the world, and is one of the most influential media voices on the planet, who writes specifically about economic/class issues. If politicians are forced to disclose every last asset they own, you'd think at the very least, the New York Times - in the interest of basic disclosure - should have a tagline under Friedman's economic columns that says "Tom Friedman is an heir to a multi-billion-dollar business empire."
The (Mustache of) Freedom ain't free.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Zbig picture

Financial Times Business News: US stance delights neo-cons, dismays moderates

A growing number of moderate Republicans and former Bush administration officials are alarmed by what they call Condoleezza Rice's "uneven-handed diplomacy" in the Middle East. Critics include Richard Haass, head of policy and planning at the State Department during the first Bush term and Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary of state.

However, after months of disillusionment, America's neo-conservatives have fallen in love again with the Bush administration because of its support for Israel's bombardment of Lebanon.
...
Criticism of Mr Bush by Washington's generally bipartisan think-tanks has grown shriller in recent days, particularly in the wake of the Israeli strike on Qana that killed dozens of civilians. It has focused on two areas: Washington's support for Israel's military campaign and Ms Rice's refusal to consider talking to Syria or to Iran.

"It is absolutely baffling to me and almost everyone I know – Republican or Democrat – how Ms Rice and Mr Bush think this strategy will achieve their objectives," said Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former head of the National Security Council. "The Bush administration is allowing itself to be suckered into believing it can achieve political goals through military means. They seem to have learned nothing from Iraq."


I am getting to the point at which it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which the cheerleaders for war will (a) admit that Iraq (and Afghanistan) are failures and/or (b) that the appropriate response to all new circumstances is even more war.



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