Sunday, September 30, 2007

Defiance = war

CNN continues to adopt Bushist newspeak:

He wanted to be heard... and he was. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- now America's nemesis. With his open defiance of the west, is he waging a new war?
Just consider that question for a minute.

Cell phone tracking

For some reason, the AP can't get right how Tanya Rider's cell phone contributed to finding her. AP stories repeat variations of this:

Authorities found the Maple Valley woman after detecting the general location of her cell phone Thursday morning...
The authorities did not detect anything. They asked the cell phone company what cell her phone had been in last, and the company searched its records. I mean, really, otherwise you'd have to explain why her battery could last eight days. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer gets it right:
Tom Rider, who lives with his wife in Maple Valley, said Friday that a court order for records from his wife's cell phone provider to determine where she last used her phone could have pointed rescuers to her last Saturday...
Well, mostly right - used is a little misleading. Had turned on would be more accurate.

The technology had a good outcome in this case (so far), but don't miss the upshot: Anyone who has sufficient pull with cell providers can find out your approximate location for as long as you have your phone on. Who really needs a GPS ankle bracelet?

When theocrats collide

Ahmadinejad and Duhbya have a lot to agree on - if they could just get past the Allah vs. God question:

Mr. Ahmadinejad has devoted his talk so far to arguing that God is the source of knowledge. The Almighty is the ultimate “teacher of human beings, who taught human beings what they are ignorant of,” he said, adding that the Prophet Muhammad was “appointed as their prophet to ‘read for them the divine verses, and purify them from ideological and ethical contamination.’”
No evil-ution here! Just scripture and purity and prophecy.

And if Ahmadinejad really does want to destroy Israel, wouldn't that hasten the end times that our home-grown would-be theocrats want?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

02138 again

02138 even favors its Maybach-demographic readers with a blurb on David Vitter. It doesn't say yea or nay whether he got his start as a john in the infamous Radcliffe call girl scandal of the late 1970s. Or maybe he didn't get to Cambridge in time, and he's been expressing his regret for that ever since.

Here's an interesting nugget: Not only did Vitter succeed Bob Livingston in Congress, he also had held David Duke's seat in the Louisiana legislature. That sort of puts his yen for sloppy seconds into perspective.

(Oh, if you have to ask, you can't afford a Maybach.)


The Harvard fanzine, 02138, wants me to subscribe: "Finally, a magazine for you and the Harvard sensibility."

I enjoy being flattered, sure, but what I'm really looking for is sincere compliments. The "Harvard sensibility" really nails it, though. From the very beginning, Harvard tells its students how great they are - because they're at Harvard, and Harvard is great.

The complimentary (heh) September/October issue puts Al Gore on the cover as number 1 of the hundred most influential alums. Duhbya they rate number 2, though Al is realistic enough to scoff at 02138 for such foolishness. Heck, they probably couldn't get Duhbya to sit for an interview.

The Harvard 100 shows what motivates the Big H. 'Influence' is just a polite word for power. Fully six Supreme Court Justices attended Harvard Law School. Too bad about Stevens, Thomas, and Alito. They must have attended some inferior diploma mill. (Note to Yalies: joke - but you do have a lot to answer for, including Thomas, among others.)


Someone has dared buck the teen drinking consensus. In response, the usual experts are saying things like:

"That's ridiculous," says Calvina Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation. "By allowing teens to drink," Fay says, "you are giving permission to your children to do harmful things."
Calvina? How appropriate.

Previous studies of drinking histories have never distinguished between parents who offer their teens a taste and those who get drunk with their children.

No 30 mill for Newt

It's a sad day for lunatics everywhere. Newt Gingrich won't run.

The New York Times accepts his spin about legal requirements preventing him from exploring a run. The truth is that he could no longer retain a tax exemption if he were pursuing partisan politics. The fact that the odious Newt could be regarded in any activity as non-partisan and therefore deserving of a tax exemption is just further evidence, as if it were needed, of the Republicans' ability to subvert the spirit of any law that restricts their behavior.

Hobson's choice

The top three Democratic candidates won't guarantee withdrawal from Iraq. Maybe they're looking back at Hubert Humphrey and George McGovern and thinking they could eke out a win.

Another legacy of the Bush family

Clarence Thomas remains narcissistically convinced that a hearing before the Senate is equivalent to dragging a man out of his bed, hooding him, beating him savagely, and hanging his body in a tree. He should try keening for someone else once in a while.

The wingnut loyalty apparatus is working to reward him, as they always do. Most of the copies of this slender screed will be distributed by right-wing organizations. They'll need to prove to the publisher that the $1.5 million advance was worth it. But most copies won't ever be read.

That's irrelevant. The purpose of this is to reward a loyal soldier foisted upon us by George H.W. Bush, who may look good in contrast to his useless son, but who really was a divisive shitheel, too.

One more thing: You'll never get Thomas to admit it, but I'd bet his grandfather never said, "You'll probably end up like your no-good daddy or those other no-good Pinpoint Negroes."

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sow's ear

These Bushists really believe that marketing can change reality. In this age of collective Alzheimer's, they may be right.

Meet Duhbya, environmentalist, edumacator, civil rights activist, responsible spender, uniter. Is there no bullshit so pungent that they shy from trying to make us swallow it?

Couldn't make money with a casino

Why does CNN continue to quote Donald Trump about politics? If ever there were a self-deluded, exploitive, ego-maniacal hack whom we should meet with deafness, it's Donald Trump.

Supreme Court in another country...

... gives the president his way. Duhbya's probably considering his options. Let's see. Cheney was in charge, so technically...

Flinging the conventional wisdom

The Washington Post is only interested in the story line, not in helping the country rise above its junior high school cliques.

Pork and BS

This useless piece of picnic reporting belongs in a weekly for a town of a thousand, not on CNN.

John McCain - he not only puts his pants on one leg at a time, he also drinks ordinary bottled water.

The story does a nice job of reinforcing the conventional narrative about McCain, so post the damn thing.

Who knew when this started years ago that the press could be bought off for a mess of pottage.

Tobacco prohibition

Can we please have a little perspective about smoking? (And I ask this as a non-smoker.)

A mistake he'd keep on making

Jim Ogonowski (R-Whoami) has no position papers on his web site, but one thing is certain from his public statements: He'll keep the troops in Iraq indefinitely.

He's also with Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter on immigration reform. He wants to send 'em all home. He hasn't said how he'll close the borders, but I'd guess a big-ass fence is in there somewhere.

This combination puts him in the odd position of being more extreme than Duhbya. Ogo also apparently thinks moving 12,000,000 people will be a cake walk, when moving 190,000 is impossible.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Good white boys

I was having dinner in the Countdown Pub the other night with Toby Keith, and I couldn't get over the fact that, even though MSNBC is a white-owned network and most of its on-air talent is white, they weren't all bloated, jowly, arrogantly stupid gasbags.

This is what black America doesn't know. They think white culture is dominated by Bob Novak, George Will, and the Roger Ailes posse.

Waiting for Bobby

With all the other things they promise on hope alone, why not an exit from Iraq?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sign codes

The next time David Horowitz blows smoke about speech codes on campus, I'm sure he won't mention this. But some wingnut somewhere will probably decry the rudeness of the sign-makers. I mean, it's taboo to say anything mean about clergy, officers, or Duhbya, isn't it?

Pay attention

John Gibson, one of Fox's ugliest bloviators, demands to know where racial incidents occur. Of course, he demands this rhetorically, using "unguested confrontation", a wingnut propaganda technique pioneered by Rush Limbaugh. He sure as hell doesn't notice anyone discriminating against all those nappy-headed hos and gangstas.

So, Gibson you moron, here's another.

The world would be better off if jerks like Gibson had to earn an honest living.

Tolerable coercion

Why is it tolerable in a free society to have unions that can force contracts on corporations?

First, unions only provide some counterbalance to the power of corporations. Especially in today's global economy, they constantly have to give away previously negotiated benefits.

Unions themselves are much more democratic than even publicly traded corporations. Majority rules in strike authorizations and contract ratification. Shareholder proxies are dominated by the few and seldom determine anything of importance. I use them to withhold votes from Bushists - Robert Gates used to sit on a lot of Fidelity boards - but I always knew that was merely symbolic, and lately it's not worth the effort to find big Republican contributors and vote against them. But I've never yet seen competitive slates for the board of any fund or corporation.

Last and perhaps most important, the "free" market that conservatives adore, the invisible hand that uses greed, uh, self-interest to solve all problems, does not exist. The whole theory relies on atomic economic actors, which you'll only find in labor markets. Corporations for their part exist to escape competition. They don't want to compete; they want to win. So each corporation tries set up its business environment to avoid direct and dangerous competition with other corporations.

Most working people don't have that option. It's pretty rare to be Michelangelo or Bob Gibson or Louis Pasteur. And not one of them even was able to negotiate full value for his unique abilities, especially not Gibson until his teammate Curt Flood went to battle against the reserve clause.

Unions are a good thing - with occasional ill effects like most good things. We need more of them.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hey, I'm better than Ahmadinejad

My name is Duhbya, and my stock in trade is bullshit, but at least I'm not as lunatic as yesterday's news.

Does anyone think he's really serious about this?

This is a fig leaf for the naughty bits of his legacy. He's saying, "See, it was really, really Saddam's despotism and my sympathy for the oppressed Iraqi people that made me rip their country into warring pieces." Never mind that Duhbya made many things worse, a dramatically raised death rate high on the list of bad things.

Questioning God

A contrarian is suspicious of all rushes to judgement. In any society that channels both its good and its evil through every handy institution, religious, scientific, whatever, real contrarians are very valuable even if they are often despised or even hated. Any society? Really, every society.

When I think of contrarians, I think about the common characters from folklore of hermits and wizards and other weirdos. They don't get carried away by mob psychology, though sometimes they do get carried away by the mob to be killed. Still, enough must survive that the ability to stand apart can be passed down through genes or culture.

The value of a contrarian is that a monolithic culture always fails. It lacks the flexibility to overcome inevitable change. A contrarian or two can provide a margin of "odd" thinking that saves the day, though no contrarian should expect to get credit.

Jesus was a contrarian, too. It's not solely that he ministered to the poor - Mother Teresa did that without stepping outside her indoctrination (at least not willingly). Jesus also subverted the savage laws of the Hebrew Bible, not to mention the authority of its keepers. That's what made him dangerous and brought the whipped-up mob to kill him.

Paul was no free thinker, more an institutional revolutionary. Even Protestantism is marked by the dogmatic ossification of Paul.

Both Jews and Catholics have mostly escaped Old Testament savagery through gradualism, as have mainstream Protestants. (Well, Catholics did have several centuries of corrupt sectarian murder to learn repentance, and Protestants joined the battle, too.)

Fundamentalists, far from learning, have retreated to the vicious "morality" of tribal survival that fills the Old Testament in particular. They just don't put people to death for eating lobster. Islamic extremists may have mistaken Islamic society's present mean state as damning modernity and justifying their own retreat to savagery.

Where does that leave me? I'm an atheist. I don't believe God exists. I'm not quite fully to the disbelieving end of The Mystic's taxonomy of unbelief, however. I'm still willing to weigh evidence for the existence of God. But I've concluded that the likelihood of any God remotely resembling a person is nil, and that, based on every piece of evidence I've seen so far, the fundamentalists and even more liberal Christians are dead wrong about a personal God known from this one very local myth, a myth whose each day in the modern world more strenuously alienates it from its rigid ties to the culture of its origin.

(Adapted from a posting on Philosoraptor.)

Immigration in MA-05

Republican Jim Ogonowski is highlighting immigration as a key issue. I was surprised to find in 2004 in a debate at Hudson High School that this is an issue in Massachusetts, but what this proves about Ogonowski is that he's running the standard Republican playbook.

I want to see Niki Tsongas follow through on her post-primary promise to make this election a referendum on Duhbya, which is exactly what it should be.

We are all of us in the gutter

... but some of us are looking at the stars.

Personally, I think most street lights are unnecessary, too, but I'm a big guy in a safe suburb (and I'm not afraid of coyotes other than on behalf of my small dog).

Most clear nights, I can still see the Milky Way, but sky glow is increasing. Practically all of my neighbors have outdoor fixtures that not only leak light to the side but have glass-paned tops, so it's hard to show significant benefits of my insistence on opaque tops. Even mine probably don't meet dark skies criteria, so I leave them off most of the time.

There's no alternative to law to saving the night sky - other than major economic collapse. Even though the blessed darkness of the night sky is a pet cause of mine, I have a hard time ranking it high on my list of urgent concerns.

Update (9/26): Out under the full moon last night, I wondered why we don't turn off streetlights on clear moon-lit nights. It's plenty bright to drive, and streetlights only make shadows darker and easier to hide in.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fox's poison pen

Welcome Fox trolls!

Fox "News" is a propaganda outfit, as everyone knows. The wingnutosphere denies it because Fox presents them the world as they want it to be, without the confirmed liberal bias that facts bring. But the wingnuts continue to lap up Fox's slant as avidly as addicts.

Here is a case in point. The "reporter" uses the classic Fox "some say" technique - keep the focus on the liberals, not on their conservative critics. They hold Columbia as a whole responsible for an inconsistency between the university administration and the CPU, a student-run political discussion group. They bury President Lee Bollinger's list of issues with which he will confront Ahmadinejad in his introduction. And they helpfully send their frothing readership to fill up the CPU's blog with a whole raft of semi-distinguishable, often semi-literate ditto-head comments.

All that said, someone at Columbia should get Gilchrist on campus for an event and assure that he does not get shouted down. Then the only people suppressing speech will be the Fox dead-enders.

Update: Read and learn. How many of the liberals at Columbia agreed with Ahmadinejad? Looks like ... zero.

Digging the Dig

Once again, the Boston Globe turns over prime newsprint real estate to David D'Alessandro for ... what exactly? A cab ride in London? At least we know D'Alessandro travels and probably that he reads Tom Friedman. I'd guess that the Globe is blessing us with D'Alessandro's boosterish pablum as a nudge-nudge-wink-wink sweetener for all the advertising John Hancock provides.

As they say, the market has already discounted D'Alessandro's pedestrian (heh) analysis. Putting it in print was a waste of readers' time.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

More surveillance

Are there any limits?

Can we just call it gambling?

Seriously, how many industry-coined euphemisms do we need before we start plastering corporate logos on everything?


The Boston Globe is signalling its hunger for casino advertising.

Top Bushist goal in Iraq

The neocon goal that matters in Iraq is the beachhead there. Tom Tomorrow points to their unabashed and open pursuit of that Bushist goal.


The problem for Hillary is not her lead among Democrats. It's the negative perception of her among all voters, which verges on 50%. Hard to win an election if you start out there.

Granted, it's not impossible. Nixon had high negatives in 1968 (though I don't have a number). Of course, like Bill Clinton in 1992, he had a third-party candidate splitting the vote. Hillary is more likely to be a victim of a third-party candidate than a beneficiary.

The problem for voters who want change is twofold: Which candidate(s) would make a change? Which candidate(s) can get elected?

To me, Hillary looks like a loser on both counts. She's too strongly tied, and by all appearances willingly, to the foolish unilateral centrism of Beltway Democrats and their useless consultants and corporate hangers-on. She'd keep Social Security more or less intact and appoint more Stephen Breyers, which would be a marginal improvement, but she wouldn't do anything to close this Second Gilded Age. I suspect she would also decide to leave a garrison in Iraq of, say, 80,000 troops, giving the neocons exactly what they wanted from the beginning. Splitting the difference is the right move if you believe in triangulation as a principle of governing, as I think Hillary does, based on her performance in the Senate.

In any case, the challenge for Hillary, if she is the nominee, is to push her existing negatives down, which is always difficult. On the other hand, Obama and Edwards need only keep their negatives from rising too much, which should leave them more money to expose the Republican nominee's eager Bushism. (Against that, Hillary has more of that corporate money; maybe she can afford to do both.)

The most important question about Hillary's negatives is: How much comes from the left? I suspect not much; if a pollster called me, I'd grit my teeth and go positive because I know how these polls get used. And it's true I'll support Hillary if she's the nominee.

Granted that much of Hillary's large negative image comes from the right. That's not going to change, and I'm not worried about it. Even if a few of them think she's a nice person or they sympathize with her over her marriage, they aren't going to vote for her. But there's just too much venom left over from the negatives among independents, persuadables, and the vapid idiots who only pay superficial attention and vote based on taking seriously their own uninformed whims.

Hillary's too centrist, but I'm not even flirting with the Greens. Why not? I want change immediately, and I think it's possible, despite the Congressional Democrats' utter failure this year to do much of anything against the Bushists' fascist dreams.

The Greens are willing to wait for structural political change, a promise that seems timely to them only because they're already economically comfortable. For them, half a loaf is not better than none.

So, Edwards or Obama?

(First posted on Pharyngula.)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Parallel universe

Republican Delegate Timothy Hugo is an obvious sleaze. To answer questions about his negative ads, he says, "A lot of Democrats have said that Rex Simmons runs an appalling, negative campaign."

The truth is that ever more thinly sourced negative ads will continue to work as long as voters listen to them. Most of them are filled with nonsense, but our Alzheimer's political memory doesn't exact any cost from their purveyors.

In the parallel universe I'd like to jump to, people turn their bullshit detectors way up.

The story, on the other hand, quotes many sources about standards in political advertising!

"In political advertising, you always have to have a source, and that source has to be credible," said Sean T. O'Brien, executive director of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership.
Really? This made my BS detector ring hard enough to give me a headache. There are NO standards, got it?
"To me, it is like quoting graffiti off the underside of an underpass and using it in a political ad," [ Karen S. Johnson-Cartee] said.
Bingo. The problem is that all political advertising, particularly the invidious stuff from Republicans, is likely to be bullshit that might as well come off a bathroom wall. That's the right message to push on the public, not some namby-pamby blogs-are-the-problem nonsense.

Big Brother loves you

That's why he has you under surveillance.

Friday, September 21, 2007

What he said

The Washington Post's "fact-check" has this bias:

  • MoveOn's statements that are arguable are wrong.
  • Petraeus's statements should be unexceptionable if they're "not totally unreasonable."
The Post couldn't find its ass with both hands.

Only in Maynard

The people who care about Maynard's schools are in a tough spot. The voters, by a narrow majority, have persistently rejected all building plans that would partially address the accreditation probation that the high school is under, no matter how overdue and no matter how much of the tab the Massachusetts School Building Administration would pick up.

we have the school administration exploring the end of their own jobs, that's how bad it is. Maynard is ringed by regional school districts that might in theory take Maynard on as a partner. That would mean the end of Maynard's central administration.

Of course, Concord-Carlisle, Acton-Boxborough, and Nashoba are not interested. Maynard's drowning its schools in Grover Norquist's bathtub. Why would anyone with excellent to good schools want that problem?

Regional schools districts are an idea whose time has passed for the most part, though Maynard's high school of only 350 students is too small under current fiscal constraints and could use a region. Maynard missed the boat fifty years ago when the other regions were forming.

Nashoba doesn't want to average its better MCAS scores with Maynard's. It doesn't make any mathematical sense to judge a school's impact by its average score

On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised to find that another 50 kids would come back out of interdistrict public school choice and private schools if Maynard High were replaced with a spiffy new building. They might be wrong to do so, though - the bricks and mortar don't do any teaching, and the Maynard electorate's history is not one of great support, especially not assuming a big ticket capital item like a school made it to the tax rolls.

All in all, not an enviable position for people who care about public education.

At last, the f-word

CNN finally dusts off 'filibuster', even when Republicans are doing it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Everything you've heard about David Broder is true - everything facile, ass-kissing, and committed to inside-the-Beltway elitism, that is. Here he sucks up to Newt Gingrich for his ideas, nevermind that Newtie is the original hyper-partisan, bomb-throwing, divisive Republican who couldn't give a shit about Broder's usual graven idol, bipartisanship.

Fidel Castro had ideas. Benito Mussolini must've had at least one idea.

But it's obvious that Broder's one idea is smooches to power, not any sort of meaningful bipartisan compromise. What a useless gasbag!

Update: Eric Alterman on Newtie.

If politics got better coverage

Can the Times please move Shaila Dewan into political coverage and let some bored political horse-race hack delve into religion? Her story:

  • Uses lots of revealing quotes from the principals and the commenting sources
  • Names everyone
  • Gives a fresh look at a world I previously knew very little about
The story also reveals in high relief that televangelism is entertainment, but it's well enough written that it never has to come right out and say that.

Positions are boring

So much of political media coverage is like this - who's up, who's down, who's attacking. What do the candidates stand for? Boring!

Update: Paul K. beat me to it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Just trust us

You're using a computer. Do you trust it to secure your vote?

Uh, no. A durable, recountable audit trail is a fundamental requirement of trustworthy, non-banana-republican elections. If someone wants to imprint cuneiform on clay tablets, that's o.k., though I would expect it to be a lot more expensive and less usable than paper. But don't try to pawn off something that could be hacked with a global find and replace from a 30-year-old text editor.

That said, a touch screen that produces a voter-verified ballot can be very beneficial. If Section 508 compliant, it can help the disabled vote without assistance. More generally, it can prevent overvotes and unintentional undervotes, which would have been a godsend in Florida in 2000.

This type of machine is not a dream. My precinct already has one, mainly for the disabled, but I used it in May town elections because one of the poll workers is a friend of mine, and she made me.

Some = all

Jack Cafferty commits a common media and Green Party fallacy: Just because Democrats and Republicans share some (admittedly bad) attributes, they share all bad attributes. Yes, Democrats in Washington are too beholden to corporate and wealthy contributors. But here's a small list of major advantages the Dems show me:

  • The party with anti-Iraq-war impetus even if not enough of it
  • The party of competent FEMA
  • The party that will even talk about reversing the Bushists' reverse Robin Hood tax policies
  • The party that cares about the environment
  • The party of equal rights
  • The party of Constitutional government and the rule of law
Yeah, none of that stuff matters.

"A pox on both their houses" is popular because it tells people they can give up on self-government. It's a waste of editorial space.

Me and Deval

I go way back with Deval Patrick. Well, back to the campaign anyway. I was impressed the first time I met him, and he rapidly got better as a campaigner. So I became a town coordinator (i.e. flunky) in his campaign, and we dramatically reversed the numbers that Mitt Romney had put up against Shannon O'Brien in 2002.

Nov. 7, 2006, was probably the headiest day I've experienced in American politics. Electoral politics, anyway - there was August 8, 1974.

Still, I knew that Gov. Patrick would never be as thrilling as candidate Patrick. Vision never translates to governance completely. As a grizzled old political veteran, I could deal with that, but I knew some of the new people in Patrick's campaign would have to learn the hard way to be happy with half a loaf. So, I switched to the digest form of the coordinators' email list, and I mostly stopped reading even that.

Now Deval has proposed a casino plan, and many of his biggest fans are devastated. I'm not thrilled, but I'm also not up in arms.

Casinos are bad public policy, but a majority of the people seem to want them. Hell, the Lottery is bad public policy, and it's wicked populah.

Deval has tried to make a case that casinos can be good policy. I don't believe it. Gambling:

  • Acts like a regressive tax - only the lower end of the economic spectrum gambles the rent money
  • Encourages something-for-nothing thinking in citizens and business people (legitimate or not) alike
  • Creates service jobs with a pretty low wage ceiling
  • Creates nothing tangible
People like it anyway, and there are limits to how far I want to go against that.

Luke warm enough? Can we just keep calling it gambling? Gaming is something you do over the net from your mom's basement.

OJ and a bankrupt media

Can we get this two-bit, washed up, narcissistic sociopathic punk off the news? He's distracting all us Britney watchers.

But OJ's attending his own arraignment! Stop the presses!

Update: Tom Toles at least makes good use of the sideshow.

Catching up on Krugman

Paul Krugman's column is back out in the open, and I have a lot of deferred gratification to catch up on.

Sometimes procrastination wins. I'm just glad I didn't sign up for the now-defunct TimesSelect a week ago. It was on my to-do list for someday.

Here's a Krugman quote I like (and it's not from too long ago):

[F]our years of economic growth have produced essentially no gains for ordinary American workers.
The Bushist Leona Helmsley types can't figure out why the rest of us won't celebrate their good fortune just because we haven't shared in it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Truth in headlines

CNN shows this link and has all day. What Chuck Schumer actually said was:

[T]hey're trying to meet us part of the way in choosing someone who by reputation and in his career has shown fidelity to rule of law above conservative politics...
Nothing about the nomination being above politics, this is about the nominee. Further, CNN lets pass without comment the context - that the Bushists have put their radical conservative politics above the rule of law.

Comforting the comfortable

Taking Ayn Rand seriously is a characteristic symptom of high-functioning narcissistic personality disorder. It's no wonder so many overpaid CEOs believe in her anti-social ideology; it justifies their outrageous self-esteem.

The business pages persistently push a sense of the economy as the plaything of the wealthy, and no one bats an eyelash at that media bias.

Keep turning over rocks

Henry Waxman knows how to find the corrupt Bushist slime. Of course, it's like falling out of a boat and finding water.

Monday, September 17, 2007


I grew up in the 1970s, so I believe that people have a right to look as stoopid as they wanna be - with some reasonable limits to flagrant butt cleavage, of course, which may be all that Trenton and Atlanta are after, though I have my doubts about parishes in David Duke country. Plumbers should get an occupational exemption so that they can still gross their customers out enough to get them out of the way.

Heart on your sleeve

This morning's Wall Street Journal shows the news angle of its new management with this teaser above the masthead on the front page:

In Interview, Greenspan Hits Democrats, Too
If you're too thick to understand that, the headline on A3 is:
Greenspan's Dismay Extends Both Ways
Reporter Greg Ip helpfully "corrects" the impression that Greenspan is only put out with the Republicans.

Trouble is, Greenspan's opinions about Democrats aren't news, while his criticisms of Republicans - since he is one - are.

I suppose I could make the same critique of this post. Bias in the WSJ is old hat; the difference is that the Journal's news pages used to be relatively immune from the stone age politics of the editorial page.

Wasting op-ed space

If you want an example of how thoroughly captured by PR apparatus the media is, see today's Boston Globe op-ed page. David D'Alessandro, late of John Hancock, bloviates for 700 words or more on presidential succession. Why did he get this valuable platform? My guess is that he has a flack helping him.

Yet, he has no qualifications for this gig (witness his oversimplification of the Constitution) and nothing much interesting to say about a topic that is only vaguely related to the issues of the day. His proposals also have zero chance of implementation - seriously, is this what we need to amend the Constitution about - and I'd bet his interest will wane now that he has seen his name in print.

In America, though, businessmen believe that their pecuniary success entitles them to lead elsewhere - and editors let them. Latin America may have colonels; we've got captains of industry - or in this case finance.

This sort of vanity op-ed is another reason the media can't find room for real dissenting voices.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Promises of diplomacy or prelude to war?

When the SecDef rattles his fountain pen, look out.

The Bush administration is committed, for now, to using diplomatic and economic means to counter the potential nuclear threat from Iran, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday. (emphasis added)
We've been here before - only the names have changed (and not to protect the innocent).

Katrina hits DC?

Black people are moving out of Washington. White people are moving in. And the only disaster it took was Duhbya, not a class 5 hurricane.

Seriously, this is just the "normal" working of economic forces, as far as I can tell. Even the catastrophic Bush administration doesn't have time to find even more stuff to meddle with.

Some missing context:

  • When neighborhoods gentrify, the property owners benefit from higher prices, not residents who rent. Some of those owners are slumlords.
  • Foreclosure or inability to pay a subprime mortgage may also keep the older residents from profiting from the rise in property values. Poverty is powerless.
  • There's a whole other story in black migration to the suburbs beyond the loss of a familiar cultural milieu: If they move in next to white people, it's likely the whites are going to flee, some because they're racists, some because they have internalized the fear of the racists, some because all the flight ruins their property values.

Get Whitey

I don't think Whitey Bulger has been visiting old amici in Sicily. After all, even though he had help from a paisan' or two, Whitey's from the Irish mob, and he ratted out Gennaro Angiulo, whose son Junior just got out of prison.

Besides, the man in the photo is too young, and the woman is too old.

Update (9/28): Whitey's old girlfriend agrees. If I could tell this at a glance, why couldn't the FBI? Probably trying to wash off the stain Special Agent John Connolly left.

Unassailable generals

John Kerry said:

I don’t like any kind of characterizations in our politics that call into question any active duty, distinguished general, ... who I think under any circumstances serves with the best interests of our country.
I have two words for Kerry: William Westmoreland.

The very real question that MoveOn raised is whether we can trust Gen. Petraeus to serve the best interests of America, to whose Constitution he swore his oath, or only the best interests of his patron, Duhbya.

Mitt makes a funny

Mitt Romney has the sense of humor of someone who has made a lot of lame jokes in front of groups of business associates who have to laugh. In his heart of hearts, I'm sure the Mittster thinks he's prettier than Bill Clinton, too.


The Boston Globe has this nugget on p.2:

A White House report to Congress on Friday concluded that the development of Iraq's security forces has been "slower than hoped."
Doesn't the White House ever get embarrassed?

Note: In the Globe story, not a single quote from a war or escalation opponent. Not even one.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A man with backbone

Three days in jail over a dollar! My hat's off to Thomas Jensen, who at age 68 still hasn't learned to pick his battles. He is right, of course. No business, not even New Hampshire's toll authority, should be able to renounce its debts this way.

He didn't even tell his wife about it.

"Hon, about that fishing trip to New Hampshire. Turns out I was the new fish."

The Democrats in Washington ought to take a lesson from Jensen about standing on principle. They actually do have important battles to fight.

Out, out, damn'd spot

Alan Greenspan is another Republican apologist who now wants to wash his hands of responsibility for Duhbya's disastrous regime. If it wasn't obvious all along, Greenspan as Fed chief was only interested in protecting wealth, not primarily in building a sound economy. If you ever thought he gave the slightest thought to ensuring a fair distribution of wealth, his reference to Ayn Rand should disabuse you of that ridiculous notion.

Criticizing the military

If Americans can't criticize our military, particularly generals who have repeatedly let themselves be used by the Bushist regime, then John McCain's end of liberty is too moderate, and Duhbya should get it over with and roll the tanks down Pennsylvania Ave. to the Capitol. That would put an end once and for all to this messy, loud, fractious democracy, and we could all get back to watching "reality" TV.

Look at the last five years of statements from the military brass. Whenever one of them departed from the Bushist line, oops, he's purged, end of career. The remainder, not just Gen. Petraeus, who's a late arrival after all, have been heavily invested in Republican talking points and have engaged in politics in every statement to the media.

Did Peter Pace deserve criticism - perhaps even to impugn his integrity - when he publicly supported all the bonehead decisions Duhbya made that he now says he regrets? Of course.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Even now, at this late date, bald lies

Duhbya's fuzzy math:

  • Start with 130,000 to 135,000 troops
  • Escalate by adding 34,000 to 39,000 more (not 30,000 - pffft) to a total of 169,000
  • Make a big media splash about bringing some home
  • Bring home (maybe!) 25,000
  • Keep 144,000 in Iraq
It is a joyous day when the media prove they can actually do elementary arithmetic.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Duhbya and the pundits

Two things vividly on display on MSNBC's coverage of Duhbya's state of the escalation speech:

  • From the beginning, Duhbya's goal in Iraq was to stay indefinitely in order to project American power throughout the region. This is still his number one goal.
  • The media work in almost all cases to reinforce the conventional wisdom.
Duhbya triangulated his message, not his proposals. Rachel Maddow noticed the fakery of his empty offer to "come together" with both parties in Congress. (No doubt, some damn fool Democrats will be taken in.) He only wants them for photo ops, as always. The hundred years war in the Persian Gulf is already decided. Metric tons of concrete have already been poured. Duhbya's legacy will be a permanent deadly embrace.

Chris Matthews is irritating even when he takes positions I like. His function is blithering, impassioned statement of whatever the current trend is. There is no trend he can lead from core beliefs, also no bandwagon he will not leap eagerly aboard. He will never take responsibility for his past enthusiasms, no matter how badly they have now turned out. He will sneer at "mission accomplished" despite his drooling cheerleading for it. TV is ephemeral. So are Matthews's opinions. He expects us not to notice.

Where Matthews brings spittle and blather to his comments, Tim Russert tries to bring gravitas. But it's the kind of gravitas you might find in the Frasier Crane character at your own local bar - puffed up, self-serving, egotistical, and empty, but not nearly as funny as Kelsey Grammer.

Brian Williams is just an empty suit.

It's a wonder Keith Olbermann doesn't go nuts, surrounded by so many boneheads.

Synonym for forever

As Atrios has said over and over again through gritted teeth until his blog is blue in the face, the Iraq hawks demand six months (one friedman unit) every six months. These "serious", "centrist" foreign policy "experts" can't imagine any response to quagmire other than staying indefinitely stuck bleeding in the dust.

In psychology, perseverating in the same behavior expecting different results is one definition of insanity.

In business, repeatedly slipping a deadline is bad enough. Slipping it by the same magnitude as your previous estimate can be a firing offense, especially if you do it over and over. Even the software industry can't get away with that kind of who cares attitude.

Six months is a synonym for forever among our political elites. They assume our attention span is less than half a year and that our memories are only slightly better than the typical end stage Alzheimer's patient.

They keep bringing us insanity completely devoid of accountability. And they expect us to continue paying the blood and tax bills and to keep watching them on TV as if they had something useful to say.

Steady = not any worse

On their front page, CNN teases a poll of Duhbya's popularity with "Poll: Bush approval holds steady". I would think that approval as low as his - 36% in this poll - would deserve a headline that recognizes that, say "Poll: Bush approval no better". If that has too much bias (for the middle in this case), how about "Poll: Bush approval still 36%". Ah, but then no one would click the link.

Looking for the cloud

Stories on testing of school children hardly ever give a full and fair picture. In this case, the reporter James Vaznis finds something wrong with the increase in MCAS scores in 2007.

The something is racial and ethnic disparities, and that is indeed a persistent problem. What Vaznis doesn't tell us until after the jump is that the long-standing disparity also improved. So I guess the bad news that every test score story must by journalistic convention include is that we don't live in heaven on earth.

Vaznis doesn't provide a socioeconomic breakdown of the MCAS data, but then the state doesn't provide it. There are privacy concerns of course. However, Vaznis could have looked at income averages and correlated them with average test scores. That might not be good enough for a peer-reviewed journal, but it would be good enough for a newspaper. In fact, I did it almost ten years ago for a local weekly.

There's a strong correlation between wealth and test scores, and it explains part of the ethnic and racial disparities. Of course, that explanation is only an explanation, not an excuse to do nothing. If we really want to be a classless society, we've got to educate our poor people well, or we doom social mobility. No real 'if' - the middle class nation we had forty years ago has been under persistent and successful attack from the right with little defense from the left.

Another bit of context missing from this story, as from most Boston Globe stories on test scores, is the fact that Massachusetts and Connecticut students are duking out for number one in the nation on nationally normed tests. The only fair conclusion is that our NCLB-mandated testing is much harder than, say, the similar testing done in Florida and Texas and put in place by two of the worst Bushist governors, Duhbya and Jeb.

One last point (and then pencils down!): The summaries shown here indicate that the 10th grade math test is too easy to tell the difference between really good math students and merely mediocre ones. This is the real standard that NCLB has set, and it encourages dumbing down the test. All the other distributions look reasonably normal, so far as I can tell from such coarse data.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Duhbya can't think of anything to change except his slogans. So, the Boston Globe tells us:

President Bush will endorse the broad outlines of a plan to bring home 30,000 troops from Iraq by the middle of next year if conditions are favorable, a senior administration official said yesterday.
Is it just me, or is this the same bullshit we've been hearing since the "end" of major combat operations in 2003, four years ago, stripped only of "stay the course"?

The media also can't frame this story any other way. Nancy Pelosi has a juicy quote that gets right to the heart of the dispute. It should have been paragraph 3, but instead it is relegated to the last paragraph. All seven of the quotes or paraphrases on the web front come from Republican - except the one from Joe Lieberman. Now that's balance!

Farah Stockman and Bryan Bender have done good work in the past, so I'm guessing this story's Republican slant comes from the ever credulous Peter Canellos, the Globe's DC bureau chief.

For Duhbya and the media, any other narrative is unthinkable.

Depends what the meaning of 'was' was

Peter Feaver wrote a hysterical op-ed against MoveOn's anti-Petraeus ad, hyperbolically titled "MoveOn's McCarthy Moment". The Boston Globe identified Feaver this way:

Peter D. Feaver is a political science professor at Duke University and author of "Armed Servants: Agency, Oversight, and Civil-Military Relations." He served on the National Security Council staff under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush.
This bipartisanish blurb utterly, totally fails to give readers the vital piece of vita. Feaver is a current White House staffer, working for the NSC. From his page at Duke:
Feaver is on leave from Duke and working as the Special Advisor for Strategic Planning and Institutional Reform on the National Security Council Staff at the White House.
So, 'served' is clearly a lie on par with Bill Clinton's 'there is no inappropriate relationship'. The White House is a good place for Feaver. From the foolish, exaggerated content of his op-ed, he's clearly comfortable dishing up nonsense.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A good case of kiss my ass

So, Mitch McConnell and Tony Snow are outraged, outraged that would smack Gen. Petraeus around in print. Oh, and John Boehner, too. And, of course, Joe Lieberman (I-I), who never saw a Bushist talking point he wouldn't, caaaww, mimic.

CNN even quotes John Kerry as calling the ad "over the top", and Kerry's a guy who has actually seen over the top. Why he mistakes this slightly juvenile play on words for excess, I can't say. (Of course, now I could be quoted as calling MoveOn's ad "juvenile".)

Yesterday, CNN also had Harry Reid dissing the ad, though they've "corrected" it to say "a member of the Democratic leadership, speaking on background".

What real Democrats need to say is this, "I've looked at the ad, and only a very small child would think there's something wrong with it. No, I'm not going to condemn our allies at MoveOn for unveiling the truth, and tobacco-money bagman Mitch McConnell can kiss my ass."

That last part, maybe not, but a guy can dream, can't he?


Yesterday's dog-tag and I-found-a-pony show had less to do with reality in Iraq than with political propaganda at home. Let's review:

  • Gen. Petraeus may have claimed that his testimony was entirely his, but the law under whose auspices he testified at all required the President to report, and the White House framed the content.
  • Petraeus has proven pretty adept before at delivering Bushist propaganda. (In his defense, any other practice would be a career-limiting move.)
  • The escalation that was supposed to last 6 months and already be finished is now supposed to last 18. That may be more realistic than Duhbya's initial sales pitch (is there any lie he has scruples to avoid?), but it looks as though peace is receding.
  • Anbar, the biggest (only?) success of recent months in Iraq, started improving in the fall, before the escalation.
  • The media know this is all bullshit political theater. They don't care; they still report this and everything else as being "good for Republicans".
  • CNN gets four quotes about politics - from two retired generals, a consultant to the Iraq Study Group, and David Gergen. Yeah, now there's a center-right bunch of "analysts".
  • Petraeus says 2.5% of the troops might come home in January. Yeah, and I might win Megamillions the next time it's over $100 million.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Easier for our [stupid, whining] customers

The Turnpike Authority, in its infinite wisdom, thinks we're idiots. As if I were a gentleman, I'm returning the favor.

"Rather than establish a new toll months before the new increases are set to take effect in January, it was decided it would be easier for our customers to simply open the U-turn with a new toll in January," said Turnpike Authority spokesman Mac Daniel.
The real motivation here is outcry suppression. To reverse this stupid policy decision, I recommend outcry.

This is one of those occasions when a private business really would do better than a public authority. They'd spin it, too - introductory discount!!! - but they'd get the beneficial service up and running immediately.

(I do think it's relevant that Mac Daniel is a former Boston Globe reporter. However, it doesn't seem to have affected this story, which is refreshingly direct.)

Prayer or leg presses

Has Pat Robertson claimed credit yet for repelling Gabrielle? (As if she'd have him.)

You're ugly and your mother dresses you funny

The Bushist White House can't help itself. It has to try to make reality fit its fantasies. Frances Townsend, wearing Fox News red on CNN, twits Osama with the civilian equivalent of "Bring 'em on."

Bin Laden could be impotent if we had focused on al Qaeda instead of sending him a lifetime supply of Viraqra. Unless of course ED meds now work on corpses...

Now that I think of it, American pharma needs to get to work closing the sex in heaven gap. The jihadis expect seventy-odd virgins (maybe very odd if Youtube is right). Nevermind the women, what can a red-blooded American boy expect for his dusty martyrdom? Monogamy? It hardly seems fair.

Yes, I know the fundies are going to have some trouble with this...

(At this point, Graham Chapman's ghost should come in and say, "Awright. That's enough. Very silly." If only.)

Perfect template

FBI data mining, which I thought they denied doing but now seems to be universally accepted as fact, went too far. Surprise, surprise!

Eric Lichtblau can write as many stories as he wants on this template. We are all under surveillance for our own protection, so these little tidbits will keep leaking out as long as anyone is interested in them.

The surveillance culture didn't start with the Bushists. They only used fear to perfect it.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Radical Mormonism

This is about sustained sexual access to young girls. It's commonly a very successful reproductive strategy for the middle-aged predators ("prophets") who run the show.

Ironic the similarities of dress, fear of God, and absolute obedience between this male dominion with women as chattel - wives "reassigned" to other husbands - and radical Islam.

Na, na, na, I'm not listening

The Bushists express their well-documented disdain for facts by threatening Arecibo now and the VLBA for 2011. If we were to come home from Iraq a few minutes earlier, we would have enough to cover both.

Is it a hopeful sign that, for the first known time in my life, I agree with both Dana Rohrabacher and Pete Domenici? Nope, they're not funding a few NSF table scraps out of money saved extricating ourselves from Bushist misadventures.

Better headline writers

So, Hillary says health care for all, and Mike Huckabee says take better care of yourselves, but the Globe titles the article:

Clinton, Huckabee champion healthcare at AARP event
About the only thing they agree on is that health is good. Oh, and they both showed up.

More mush from the wimp?

The Boston Globe politics page this morning has a repeated picture of the plane crash at right following every political story.

Technical snafu or sly commentary? You be the judge.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Another one bites the dust

Chuck Hagel has had enough. Can't say I blame him.

This is a win-win-win. The very slim thread of Republican sanity is even thinner. The GOP will have to spend more money in Nebraska. And thus the Senate will remain in Democratic hands.

Of course, the price for Democrats may be the return of Bob Kerrey, who sometimes sounds like a member of Connecticut for Lieberman.

And, if only having a Democratic Senate would be worth something.

Oxymoron - Presidential Republican

It's hard to imagine that any of the current crop of Republican presidential candidates could possibly close the deal with the voters. Still, one of these cavemen has to win, and after all Duhbya managed. To America's eternal shame, twice.

The Republican frontrunners have serious problems. (Note to Democrats: Start exploiting them now, before the media sets its narrative in permanent ink.) And it's not just that most of them can't keep their flies zipped.

Rudy Giuliani has insinuated his America's Mayor branding into the media narrative, but his real appeal is visceral. Rudy is America's Augusto Pinochet. He is offering to save America from the brown people as long as we don't look too closely at how he does it. This is obviously his appeal to the anti-democratic reactionaries known as strong Republicans. I still don't think even Rudi's faux tough enough to look macho in a dress, and I expect Romney to put cross-dressing fashion ads in heavy rotation if he needs to. If Romney doesn't, those of us on the left need to.

Mitt Romney is slippery, a completely shameless and craven opportunist, which is why he'll nudge-nudge-wink-wink some 529 to go after Rudi. From what he says in public, you can tell his only core conviction is me, me, me. In the primary season, he's one step away from executing women who have abortions. Should he win the nomination, he'll try to average his pro-choice positions from Massachusetts with his current positions. He believes in the power of false advertising to do this. If he were not Mormon, he'd be the frontrunner.

Fred Thompson is everything wrong with Washington - and I don't mean the May-December sex. He's a vacuous media creation who has been double-dealing his entire career, starting with leaking Watergate Select Committee investigative direction to the Nixon White House. While he seems like the perfect Republican candidate - lazy but can hit his marks and deliver a line with that great voice - he missed his window of opportunity. The summer stock Hamlet role bored us with too many rehearsals. And, by the way, his health is not off the table; he has non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which killed Paul Tsongas. Does Huckleberry Fred, as Roger Ailes calls him, really have the indolent form (slow, incurable - sounds like a Republican)?

John McCain used to be the list. He kissed so much Bush ass, though, that even his vaunted appeal to moderates (mostly because they haven't paid attention) has a carbuncle on it. If I were attacking McCain, I'd go right after his undeserved reputation as a straight shooter.

Mike Huckabee is trying to get enough oxygen to be the dark horse. The press is playing along because the field is otherwise so lame.

All the other guys and Huckabee, too, are running for some other office than President. VP? Long shots don't win Republican Presidential nominations.

Maybe they're just pimping their favorite issues. Tancredo is running for president of the militia movement, but he's neck and neck with Hunter. Brownback is probably trying to abort Rudi. Ron Paul strokes the GOP pretense of libertarianism. Maybe they're all just there for the nasty puns I could make on their names.

Or maybe they just needed to get out on the road for a little campaign sex.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Fool me once, fool me a thousand times

Incredible headline in the Boston Globe: "Top General to back gradual cut". I mean incredible literally.

In the spring, we'll be able to bring home a small number of troops. Right.

Fake al Qaeda tape would be news

Every time Osama bin Laden graces us with a new episode of his frothing insanity, the media pretend that his tape is a fake. Funny, though, they never are.

You'd think the media would learn this, but they would rather stick to the conventional narrative. Osama might be dead. Al Qaeda's capabilities might be too degraded to produce a tape. There might be less electricity in Pashtun Pakistan than in Baghdad (if only!).

How about putting the story in context in a way the remembers yesterday: Osama released a new tape. It says the following ridiculous Wahhabi drivel. The U.S. government is analyzing it to see what else they can learn.

Then, if it does turn out to be a fake, the media can report that.

Safe harbor

Nothing like regular payments to ensure loyalty. You can always count on conservatives to take care of their own, and Judy Miller is certainly one of their own. This is one reason they're so likely to fall on their swords if necessary - they know it won't cost them their cushy lifestyle. They'll probably even quietly take care of Larry Craig. And Scooter Libby is set for life, bet on it.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Burying the bullshit

So, the military is making up numbers to justify the escalation. And the Washington Post is burying it on A16. I'm sure it'll be front page news when Gen. Petraeus reads his dictation from the White House. The only thing that's dropped dramatically is the credibility of the Bushists and their politically reliable officers.

Birds of a feather

When governments suppress facts or even opinion, they plead guilty. For Duhbya, though, what's not to like? It's not as though he's a big fan of transparency, the free flow of information, or the will of the people. If he can get the damn door to open, he'll feel right at home.

Day late, dollar short

You know you've jumped the shark when you finally announce your deep-voiced campaign for the presidency (since that voice is all you've really got), and the death of a tenor bumps you off the front page of My prediction: Fred'll be desperate for his old pick-up truck soon. Hopefully, he'll be lobbying for his old job back soon after that.

Leaving a monument

Sixty-eight is still young nowadays, so it's sad when even a Congressman dies at that age. But there's something about this story that's not sitting right with me - the lack of prompt details.

What was the cause of death - an attack of conscience over the subprime mortgage fiasco? Yeah, right, a man with his fingerprints all over the early Bushist bankruptcy legislation? Did he even have a conscience? Maybe he felt up to his neck in keening concern for the poor, poor financial institutions.

Personally, I'd be ashamed if my headstone should say, "Beggared the destitute on behalf of credit card companies."

Update: Apparently, he fell, and the DC police needed time to rule out foul play.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Bourne Conundrum

Saw the Bourne Ultimatum the other night. It's gripping, and the fights are as well choreographed as the two previous movies in the trilogy. But, despite fawning reviews, it's not as good as Identity or Supremacy. In fact, it steals quite a lot from them, and it's repetitive on its own, too.

I still enjoyed it. That's the way of action movies.

Ultimatum has a political point of view. The Bushist executive-power black bag bodyguard of lies tell-you-I'd-have-to-kill-you covert types are the bad guys. But it's still a very small part of the movie.

The question the movie, like many before it, posed for me is this: There are clearly men who have the will to power, who inhabit powerful positions and are willing, even eager, to act in the dark. Are transparency, the open society, and a politics based on real, not manufactured, consent even possible? Has my belief in them been head-up-my-ass naive?

Silence is assent, part 2

Picking up the action live on page 2...

The New York Times permits:

I have known Goldsmith since we were at law school together.
Seriously, this is how they pick book reviewers. Guarantees a hard-hitting, objective review, that's for sure.

Goldsmith, by the way, is a famous Memphis name. A real journalist would have mentioned his father as well as his Arkansas beauty queen mother.

Page 2 has the real reason for Goldsmith's book: The OLC is a jumping off point for the Supreme Court, and Goldsmith knows he has to mend fences. This guy has been a visiting AEI "scholar", and his record shows him to be a doctrinaire conservative. So, the answer is NO, even if he does teach at Harvard.

Vote Green

Seriously, no way.

My friend Jamie Eldridge came in third of five in the Massachusetts 5th Congressional District Democratic primary. Niki Tsongas parlayed name recognition into victory in a safe campaign that led wire to wire and had no incentive to reach beyond a vague, establishment approach. Turning out the ones on your voter ID lists was the only game there was in this bizarre calendar that culminated yesterday, just as summer parted.

Jamie could have been another Jim McGovern, and it's a loss that we don't get that from him. (Yet, anyway - he's young; he has time to try again.) I didn't actually do much for Jamie, a $100. I'm a bit burned out on retail politics, and going door to door effectively if you don't have an irresistible drive to do it is just too hard. Ha, ask the next Jehovah's Witnesses to ring your doorbell.

Now I become a Tsongas supporter. She won't rock the boat, and that's too bad, but she has started the general election campaign on the right message:

Make no mistake, this election will be a referendum on the presidency of George Bush.
She gets something that the Washington Dems still have too much PTSD from 2003 to get: Duhbya is a stinking, putrid albatross around the necks of every Republican running in an even slightly competitive district.

Go Niki!

Change of season

Here in the Boston suburbs, I can still take the dog for a walk at night wearing shorts or short sleeves - but no longer both. Despite the remnants of summer haze veiling everything in the sky but Cygnus, it's time to change from the bittersweet relief of gin and tonic to the sweet smoke of whiskey.

Shame we can't change our leaders so easily. Of course, I'd never drink the rotgut moonshine laced with strychnine that the Bushists represent in the first place.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Silence is assent

I'll be interested to read this whole article sometime outside working hours, but the first page is replete with what's wrong with our political culture.

An elite insider (from Harvard no less) resigns in protest but doesn't say anything in public that could actually raise the issues he supposedly cares about.

After leaving the Office of Legal Counsel, Goldsmith was uncertain about what, if anything, he should say publicly about his resignation. His silence came to be widely misinterpreted.
Whose fault was that? Instead, he waits four years and then publishes a book that whitewashes his own role in the finlandization of Congress.

As an insider, he feared international accountability for the Bushists:
While at the Pentagon, Goldsmith wrote a memo for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warning that prosecutors from the International Criminal Court might indict American officials for their actions in the war on terror. Goldsmith described this threat as “the judicialization of international politics.”
Yeah, just like Nuremberg. Look, it's pretty simple, Goldsmith: Those memos you "fought against" were put into practice by the Gonzo, Rummy, and Duhbya at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, the black sites, and no doubt many other locations. You had a moral obligation to speak out against this, and you didn't.

But, in elite circles, all that matters is personality and manners:
When I asked whether he thought Gonzales should have resigned and whether Addington should follow, he demurred. “I was friends with Gonzales and feel very sorry for him,” he said. “We got along really well. I admired and respected Addington, even when I thought his judgment was crazy. They thought they were doing the right thing.”
They couldn't possibly be war criminals. I like them!


Bush lies again - yawn...

Anyone in the White House press corps willing to be the skunk in the room and ask Duhbya about this? It's a perfect elite media story - no Democrats involved. On the other hand, though, calling out a Republican for bullshit queers the deal on all those lucrative business-related chicken dinners.


I suppose it's no surprise when soldiers fraudulently placed in harm's way in order to fight a shifting, disappearing enemy become fingermen.

The killings include the drowning of a man soldiers pushed from a bridge into the Tigris River as punishment for breaking curfew
But it still hurts.

The usual suspects

Let's hope that readers only read till the jump. The first part of this is pretty much on target. The base (e.g. me) is outraged at the Washington Democrats' willingness to compromise pretty much everything away. How is it that the Republicans can stop anything they want in the minority while the Democratic majority can't stop a leaky faucet?

I'm sorry, but nothing positive is going to come of the next year and a half. Pelosi and Reid aren't going to have great legislative accomplishments to point to. Duh! Anyone who has ever watched the Republicans bargain in bad faith - the only way they negotiate - can see this. Why can't Pelosi and Reid? Restoration of habeas corpus is not going to happen.

What to do then in the sixteen long months before Duhbya and hopefully a whole bunch of other Republicans have gone the way of the dodo? Politics!

  • Turn over every rock in the executive branch.
  • Force the Republicans to filibuster publicly. Every time they block a good idea privately they win. Show the voters that they are working against the national interest.
  • Block any judicial appointment to the right of Stephen Breyer.
  • Hit the media every day with messages that separate us from the GOP.
In other words, don't think that politics means exclusively fund-raising.

The bad part of this article is the insinuation of Republican talking points into the dominant media narrative. I'm so f---ing tired of hearing Stephen Hess and Stuart Rothenberg tell me all the things that the Democrats are not going to be able to do. Boo-hoo, the Dems won't be able cure the common cold! You don't see that narrative about the Republicans until they actually leave office - and still Tom DeLay and Newt Gingrich and even the old fossil Alan Simpson keep showing up on TV.

Part of the problem is the Dems themselves. Michael Capuano, a good liberal, nonetheless objects to the "Petraeus" report, not because the damn White House is writing it, but because Petraeus himself supported the escalation. C'mon, guys, get it straight. When the other guy is not credible, you have to kill his credibility.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Saved by a wetsuit

Jet skiers often aren't easy to coexist with, though a couple of them did move responsibly away from the beach when my daughter and I took a swim in Cape Cod Bay on Sunday (waves in the bay, giddy-up!). This guy is lucky to be alive, and he seems to realize it.

The most innocuous day at sea or even its shallow edge can put your life at risk. An off-shore breeze in August can push your raft rapidly away from the beach. Last week, I swam out to two kids whose raft had come unmoored. They weren't really in immediate danger except that they were trying to rescue themselves.

The Coast Guard is tax money well spent.

Under cover

When these photo op morons can announce a visit to Baghdad three months in advance, not some secure undisclosed location in Anbar, then I'll think Iraq is more stable.

And, when the media notice that Duhbya is bullshitting them with his refrain that the commanders on the ground will decide, then I'll think there's hope for American media.

Update: It would also be a happy day if the lapdog media ever responded to bullshit like the following quote with anything approaching memory of all the previous times Duhbya has floated this very same claim for purely disingenuous reasons:

Bush stressed that any drawdown of troops was conditioned upon continuing improvements in security. No decision had been made on a reduction, he said. But security had improved to the point that he could "speculate on the hypothetical," he said.

Bathroom humor

What Larry Craig did in the Minneapolis airport was not lewd, nor should it have been treated as a crime, but it sure has been fun to watch the Republicans scramble to sexually cleanse their party yet again.

Who'll be next? The other Larry - Flynt - is not telling. I wonder, did he have something to do with the release of this information? How did this two-month-old arrest come out now, anyway?

Oh, by the way, Craig was trying to find a tryst with another friend of Dorothy. The whole "I'm not gay" schtick sounds like the pleading of a first grader who just peed in his pants, "I spilled my water!" He knew he was caught and just wanted it to go away; most of us hets would have emphatically refused the smelly little coercive deal that he took in order to be quietly on his way. Now he takes a wide stance before the microphone and says he's going to "fight" to reopen the plea. Yeah, sure, and he's going to sue the media for besmirching his name, too. I'd bet on pro se or not at all. There's no one to sue about this since he can't sue himself for arrogant stupidity or inconvenient appetites.

This guy is a rank paleocon traditionalist. Maybe he's a top and thinks that means he's not actually gay.

No matter. He's had his last fifteen minutes of fame, also his first. Really, had anyone outside Idaho ever even heard of him before?

The world won't be any better off either. The Republican governor of Idaho will appoint another reliable medieval vote, presumably one without such obvious feet of clay.

Getting creamed

The American middle class is losing out to the plutocratic policies of the Bushists. Of course, that's not all: Globalization works in favor of elites but against everyone else, at least in the short run and possibly until there's worldwide wage equalization. A government that cared about its citizens rather than just its political cronies could mitigate the effects of the global economy; this one doesn't care.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Pentagram vs. Pentateuch

This is just too funny for words.

Retirement at 60

Harry Reid may fantasize about a Democratic Senatorial sweep in 2008, leaving no cloture problems. Well, probably not - that would be a stretch even for a Washington Democrat. There are two levels of Democratic win in the Senate in 2008:

  • Bugger off, Joe Lieberman
  • Nirvana
Nirvana - 60 reliable votes - is about as likely as Megamillions (and I blew $10 last night for a few hours of irrational hope), so a realistic Democrat would aim to tell Fox-in-the-henhouse Joe to go caucus himself.

Since even 2008 will not give Democrats a filibuster-proof majority, Reid needs to concentrate on turning non-wingnut Republicans into votes for cloture. It's not polite, it's not friendly, it's not chummy, but we need the toughness of a gutsy majority leader. I'm still waiting.

The price of Iraq

I know the conventional wisdom is that Americans don't give a damn about anything in Africa. Well, white Americans, anyway. OK, white Americans older than college age. (I remember one candlelight march thirty years ago: What's the word? Johannesburg!)

One of the consequences of the dusty quagmire in Iraq is that no one at a principal's level in the American government has time for Darfur.

After the Holocaust, we said, "Never again." Turns out we were rationalizing as a salve for our consciences.

Now, the ADL needs intense negotiations to acknowledge the genocide that Armenians suffered. Bill Clinton failed utterly in Rwanda - by far the largest moral failing of his administration. Communist Vietnam stopped the Khmer Rouge, and that wasn't because they had moral objections.

And the Bushists have failed even to care about the Sudan, with the one small exception of a certain aspirin factory that they can hang around Bill Clinton's neck.