Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Bush explains Medicare D


Bush Explains Medicare Drug Bill -- Verbatim Quote
Submitted on 2005-12-13 16:35:14

WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: 'I don't really understand. How is the new plan going to fix the problem?'

Verbatim response: PRESIDENT BUSH:

'Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on the table. Whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to that has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, supposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.'

Pass it on. [hat tip JZ Souweine]
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Honor in defeat

While we're waiting for the SOTU debacle to start, I posted my thoughts on Alito at the Detroit News blog. I don't have much more to add to that today but I probably will down the line. I think we did good, considering.

Meanwhile, I hear the GOP's inhumane budget cuts are up for vote tomorrow. Guess they're hoping to slide it in while everyone's dissecting Bush's speech. What thugs.
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Monday, January 30, 2006

Mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore

I love Gore Vidal. I remember listening to him on talking head shows when I was just a youngster. I didn't know he was still alive but via Agitprop, I find not only is he still with us he's kicking the Bush administration's butt with this essay. The most eloquent appeal for impeachment I've heard yet. It's a must read, it's all money graf but here's a sample.
I often think of that wise emperor when I hear Republican members of Congress extolling the wisdom of Bush. Now that he has been caught illegally wiretapping fellow citizens he has taken to snarling about his powers as "a wartime president," and so, in his own mind, he is above each and every law of the land. Oddly, no one in Congress has pointed out that he may well be a lunatic dreaming that he is another Lincoln but whatever he is or is not he is no wartime president. There is no war with any other nation...yet. There is no state called terror, an abstract noun like liar.

Certainly his illegal unilateral ravaging of Iraq may well seem like a real war for those on both sides unlucky enough to be killed or wounded, but that does not make it a war any more than the appearance of having been elected twice to the presidency does not mean that in due course the people will demand an investigation of those two irregular processes. Although he has done a number of things that under the old republic might have got him impeached, our current system protects him: incumbency-for-life seats have made it possible for a Republican majority in the House not to do its duty and impeach him for his incompetence in handling, say, the natural disaster that befell Louisiana.
And he has a link to an observance I really like. It reminds me of that movie Network, where everyone opens their windows and hollers.
One way that a majority of citizens can help open the road back to Crawford is by heeding the call of a group called the World Can't Wait. They believe that the agenda for 2006 must not be set by the Bush gang but by the people taking independent mass political action.

On Jan. 31, the night of Bush's next State of the Union address, they have called for people in large cities and small towns all across the country to join in noisy rallies to make the demand that "Bush Step Down" the message of the day. At 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, just as Bush starts to speak, people can make a joyful noise and figuratively drown out his address. Then on the following Saturday, Feb. 4, converge in front of the White House with the same message: Please step down and take your program with you.
I like it. I wish I could be there.
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Think it's time for change...

Via Heretick who as always has his own acute insights and asks, "HOW CRAZY IS IT? The people most afraid now accuse others of not being afraid enough," comes a link to the Adventures of Terror Guy.
Faster than a FISA judge could ever be.
More powerful than a president should ever be.
Able to leap statutes of law with a single rationalization.
Look! Inside your home... your email... your cell phone!
It's a man! It's the president! It's Terror Guy!

Yes, it's Terror Guy - strange sort of Republican from the far right reaches of secrets and power, believing he's beyond the law. Terror Guy - who can change the course of mighty ecosystems, bend laws with the help of his vice president, attorney general and the Republican Congress, and who, disguised as the president of the United States, totally incompetent at everything he does, fights the never ending battle for fear, unchecked powers, and the destruction of the Constitution.
The moral of the story? Living in fear is no way to live.
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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Time to put 9/11 in perspective

Joseph Ellis in an op-ed in the NYT looks at just how 9/11 changed everything. Certainly not for the better. He runs down the precedents and finds America lacking in perspective.
[I]t defies reason and experience to make Sept. 11 the defining influence on our foreign and domestic policy. History suggests that we have faced greater challenges and triumphed, and that overreaction is a greater danger than complacency.
He's right. The unreasonable fear of terrorism, aided and abetted by the White House for political reasons, has turned the land of the free and the home of the brave into the land of secret domestic surveillance and the home of the cowering. I have to think the generations of men and women who fought and died over two centuries to keep us free, would not be proud of America today.
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Thank a Republican

They paid the price for their principles and possibly the only reason we aren't already living in a police state are the few brave souls inside the warrens of White House bureaucracy that put up some roadblocks against the Bush administration's relentless march towards monarchy.

Newsweek has the dope on behind the scenes machinations at the Department of Justice surrounding the administration's quest to justify warrantless domestic surveillance and some fascinating details on the scumbaggery of Cheney's new chief of staff, David Addington.

A good reminder that not all Republicans are evil.
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You gotta F, you gotta I, you gotta GHT

This why I read Avedon every day. I would have missed these posts. The Faithful Progressive speculates on Bush's defense of his domestic surveillance programs.
[W]hat if Nixon had done this during Watergate? What if, instead of slinking off to California, Nixon had gone on the offensive about his illegal activities? "Yes, I broke into the Democratic party headquarters, and the Constitution gives me the right to do so, because we are at war." Wow, we would not have had just a Constitutional crisis--our very republic would have been in jeopardy. Fortunately, back then, there were some patriotic Republicans and conservative members of the Supreme Court that would not let Nixon try it. The vote requiring release of the tapes was unanimous-- 8 to 0 (Justice Rhenquist recused himself.) The system worked, and Nixon was forced to resign. Would this still be true today?
Certainly not if Alito gets on this court. Even without him it's doubtful but if we can block this nomination we have a fighting chance. And speaking of putting up a fight, David Michael Green has some sound advice for the Democratic party. Nationalize, prioritize, for God's sake don't apologize and come out swinging. He even helps them out with the issues.
As the old saying goes, if you can’t run against fiscal hemorrhage, Terri Schiavo, an unpopular war with no end in sight, torture, Hurricane Katrina, the prescription drug program debacle, Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay, and the federal government spying on Americans, maybe you should think about a different career than politics.
And if that's not enough, he's got a script ready for production, for an ad that should really be airing every day in every market across America. He's giving it to them for free, but if the DNC was smart, they would give this guy a job. He's giving a hell of lot better advice than their pet lobbyist Elmendorf who thinks they can exploit the progressive activists without actually taking progressive positions. It doesn't get much lamer than that.
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No easy answers to the hard questions

Matt Stoller at My DD has some thoughts on bloggers, the media and the mythical centrists, well worth reading in full. The last grafs nail the "elephant in the room."
It is much harder to discuss, but ultimately much more fruitful, to talk about why there is so much corruption and dishonesty within the party, within the media, within corporate America, and within our government. Why won't Jim Brady reveal those missing comments? Why does failure get promoted in the Democratic Party? Why is Chris Matthews constantly lying about the left, and why isn't there a revolt among journalists at his pollution of this craft?

These are the real questions to answer, but they aren't easy, because they demand that the people in power question themselves.
Even harder, it requires them to listen to the answers, all of them, even the ones that prove them wrong. And therein lies the crux of the problem. Somewhere along the line, flexiblity and compromise have become confused with fallibility and weakness.
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Saturday, January 28, 2006

What are these people thinking

Would you open an email from Sylvester Schmidt that made it through your spam filter with the subject line 3.25%% approvedd rattee . Me either. Count me in with the 96.75%% that disapprove of rattees. Never could trust those varmints.
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The Abramoff File - just the facts Uncle Sam

Jeez, reading the WaPo is a real roller coaster ride these days. One minute they're shilling for the White House, the next minute they're taking them to task. In a moment of clarity, this editorial makes an astute observation on the White House stonewalling about their contacts with Abramoff.
Republicans didn't tolerate this kind of behavior from the Clinton White House in the midst of its fundraising scandal. "At every turn, they are stonewalling, covering up and hiding," Haley Barbour, then the head of the Republican National Committee, said as the Clinton administration tried to brush off questions about its fundraising before the 1996 election. Mr. Barbour complained of the administration's "utter contempt . . . for the public's right to know."

Such obstructionism is no more acceptable now. The public understands this: Three-fourths of those surveyed in a new Washington Post/ABC poll said the White House should disclose the contacts. "This needs to be cleared up so the people have confidence in the system," Mr. Bush said. Our point exactly.
Hard to believe this is the same newspaper that employs Deborah Howell.
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Quick cuts

Just in case you missed this recut trailer for The Shining, here it is and if you liked that one, you'll probably like this recut for Sleepless in Seattle. I didn't think it was quite as good but then I never saw the movie. It's still amusing nonetheless.

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Myths or Monarchy?

Via the incomparable Heretik who unravels the myths, comes the quote of the day from The Madness of King George.
Simply put, Bush and his lawyers contend that the president’s national security powers are unlimited. And since the war on terror is currently scheduled to run indefinitely, the executive supremacy they’re asserting won’t be a temporary condition.
I might add if we allow Bush to simply take these powers without protest, his presidency might not be as temporary as we think either. While Jeralyn sums up the White House defense strategy, "Shorter version: We're at war and the President is King;" I would remind you a monarch's term of office doesn't usually expire until he's deposed.
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Dems just don't get it

The WaPo continues its battle with schizophrenia, struggling between reporting actual news and promoting White House steno pieces like this pablum.
"The bloggers and online donors represent an important resource for the party, but they are not representative of the majority you need to win elections," said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist who advised Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. "The trick will be to harness their energy and their money without looking like you are a captive of the activist left."

The blogs-vs.-establishment fight represents the latest version of a familiar Democratic dispute. It boils down to how much national candidates should compromise on what are considered core Democratic values -- such as abortion rights, gun control and opposition to conservative judges -- to win national elections.

Many Democrats say the only way to win nationally is for the party to become stronger on the economy and promote a centrist image on cultural values, as Kaine did in Virginia and as Bill Clinton did in two successful presidential campaigns.
Yeah Dems, why don't you listen the "experts" that put you on the fast track for defeat in 04. That'll work in 06 -- to guarantee the demise of the Democratic party. And how is it these strategists don't see the lesson in Kaine's fluke victory. He sure doesn't get it.
"Blogs can take up a lot of time if you're on them," Kaine said to reporters Thursday. "You can get a lot done if you're not bitterly partisan."

The Virginia Democrat said he will not adjust his speech to placate the party's base. "I'm not anybody's mouthpiece or shill or poster boy for that matter. I'm going to say what I think needs to be said and they seem very comfortable with that."
Bloody idiot. He didn't win on the basis of his freaking centrist views. He rode in solely on a backlash against the Bush presidency. I got news for these people. Sure blogs have a limited audience compared to Fox News, but activists -- those are the people you dim bulbs need to reach -- read blogs daily. It's the relentless blogging of the President's follies and the growing organization of left wing bloggers that created the environment that allowed Kaine to take a "red" state.

The Dems can forget our money and energy if they don't give up this paleo-centrist strategy. You want to be Republican lites, go out and court Power Line and good luck with that. You want to go down in history as the biggest all-time losers ever, just keep doing what you're doing. If you want to win for a change, wake up and smell the internets you fools.
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Friday, January 27, 2006

NBC stands by their stooge

Heh. To use a favorite phrase of the pajamadeen, Arianna smacks down Tim Russert and his miserable excuse for a broadcast station, NBC, for allowing this counterfeit watch salesman to ply his trade on the airwaves loaned to them by the public.

This is why I haven't weighed in on this fight. Arianna's got it covered.
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Talk talk

Damn, I think I might be catching the bug the family brought home from work. I've been dragging all day and I don't think it's just the lack of sleep. I'm feeling kind of achy. The good news is I have a couple of days to rest up once I get home tonight so blogging should resume at a more normal pace. Meanwhile, part of the reason I haven't been posting as much is I got embroiled in a long running conversation over at Donnie's blog Cadillac Tight. I'm too lazy to link to every post I commented on, but if you scroll down the list to the political posts, I have comments on most of them. The other person who commented more than once is Jack Grant of Random Fate. I thought it interesting that I enjoyed his comments so much.

When I started at PennyWit's place, he was pretty brutal in his assessment of my work. He thought I wasn't brainy enough for that crowd. He was probably right, I never did feel quite like I fit in there but on the other hand I thought he was working too hard at showing off his own braininess. It would appear we both mellowed some in the interim. Or maybe I'm just feeling mellow towards him because he's agreeing with me. Anyway there's been some interesting discussion going on over there. And I really like Donnie. He's tends to take an opposite stance to mine, but he states his positions so thoughtfully, he forces me to really think about my own.

Check it out and I'll be back tonight to do some posting on the news.
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Thursday, January 26, 2006

What's going on

Jeez, I worked an 11 hour day and I'm so tired, I want to take a night off but there's too much going on. Kerry is threatening a filibuster and he better damn well make good on that threat. Empty gestures aren't going to cut it Johnny. If he comes through there's hope for us yet.

Meanwhile, pictures of Bush and Abramoff are beginning to surface, while at the same time others inexplicably disappear. Or perhaps, not so inexplicably.

Go on over to Heretik's Texas jubiliee to celebrate, commiserate, berate or otherwise articulate your reaction.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

New blog in town

I just can't seem to get all exercised over that inispid excuse for a journalist, Chris Matthews, or his painfully obvious lapdog work for the White House party line. I don't have time as it is and I can't even bring myself to watch him. Reading the transcripts pisses me off enough.

But for those of you who have more tolerance and energy for these things, a really good blog just opened up, Open Letter to Chris Matthews, where you can leave your personal thoughts for the underhanded lobber of Hard Ball.

You'll be in good company. There were over 1,500 comments on the first post when I checked it out.
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Wrong Way Harry

From Forbes magazine comes this gem from our Democratic "leaders."

The only way Democrats could stop Alito is through a filibuster, a maneuver they show little interest in trying. Thus Democrats are working to get a large opposition vote to score points against President Bush.

"I think it sends a message to the American people that this guy is not King George, he's President George," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said.
Wrong Harry. It sends a message that you're a blithering fool leading a bunch of spineless idiots who still think they're going to win elections based on political posturing. Stand up and fight or get the hell out of the way Harry.
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The Abramoff Files - Tell us something we don't know

Shorter WaPo. We know Jack Abramoff is a lying, cheating SOB. We know he met with White House officials at least 200 times, including with the recently indicted David H. Safavian. What we don't know about is the other 199 meetings.

The White House predictably stonewalls, calling the inquiry into its conduct, partisan. Fine so it's partisan. We still want to know. If you got nothing to hide, produce the proofs.
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Text and lies and videotape

Think Progress put together a little video on past SOTU speeches of this president. All rhetoric -- no results. For those who want the facts behind the footage, see this Center for American Progress pdf, with a fuller explanation of what Bush says as opposed to what he does.

I can't believe how anybody can see these documented facts and still not agree that this president is a cold, calculating, cowardly, scum sucking liar. I've been thinking about that this morning, after reading this post at Cadillac Tight. Donnie is not a lock step partisan and he's a smart guy. So why can't he see that opposing Alito is not a partisan issue? It's not about politics, it's about preserving democracy as we know it. Opposition is not partisan - it's part of the process that has sustained our government for 230 years.

It was set up to be adversial, like a court case. The jury gets two opposing views and presumably makes up their mind based on the facts, not on loyalty or convenience or based on the perceived power of the parties. Our judicial system would become meaningless without that balance. So will our form of government if we allow this thinking to prevail. Only dictatorships don't allow for dissent.

And don't give me this, the president gets to pick his own justices routine. Show me in the constitution where it says that. In fact, under that logic, if the Senate's only function in this is to be a rubber stamp, then why bother to waste our legislators time with hearings? Why not just allow the president to appoint anyone, like Harriet Miers for instance, without any discussion, just like any other monarch?

I'm thinking it's kind of like breaking up with a long time lover who is cheating on you. You don't want to believe that the person you committed yourself to, the one you trusted with your deepest secrets and formed what you thought was a lifelong bond with, would betray you. So you deny. You bargain with the facts. But at the end of the day there's no escaping the reality that you've been screwed by someone you trusted.

Unfortunately, by the time the White House supporters get to acceptance, it may be too late for all of us.
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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Don't ask

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Jeb to press - wish you were here

Well, Brother Jeb was having a little hoedown with several hundred party loyalists in Tallahassee and the party chiefs wanted to keep their little secrets so they had some reporters "removed from the building" because they were listening in at an open door. What? They couldn't just shut the door?

Quote of the day goes to the Big Bro'.
"I apologize for that if I'm indirectly responsible, which I'm not," Bush said after addressing Republican activists. "I would have loved to have you in there. . . . I wouldn't have said anything different if you were there."
Right. Got it Jeb. Not your fault. Love that aw gosh sincerity. Nice touch. I totally believe you would have discussed that WaPo article with the media.
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Voting fraud and that zany liberal press

Mark Crispin Miller, as they say, wrote the book on voting fraud. It's getting great reviews - in Moscow. Paul Craig Roberts, who was Assistant Treasury Secretary under Ronald Reagan, has also written a good review which Crispin says will be posted on various websites in this country. Read that as blogs and activist sites. NPR won't even mention it. Roberts says in part,
Miller describes considerably more election fraud than voting machines programmed to count a proportion of Kerry votes as Bush votes. Voters were disenfranchised in a number of ways. Miller reports incidences of intimidation of, and reduced voting opportunities for, poorer voters who tend to vote Democrat...

...The outcome of the 2004 presidential election has always struck me as strange. [...] It seems contrary to American common sense for voters to have reelected a president who had failed in such a dramatic way."
So why won't the mainstream US media touch this book that proves voting fraud is much more than just a conspiracy theory? I guess it's because that "liberal media" wouldn't want to upset the White House since gee whiz, the GOP so embodies the liberal ideology, right?
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Professionals quietly leaving Iraq in droves

This says it all about how much we've liberated the Iraqis. Anybody with the cash is getting out of Baghdad and fast. That would be your professional class, the doctors, lawyers and businessmen. The university students will be soon to follow.
"Of course I would leave if I could," said Ihana Nabil, 22, who will soon graduate from Baghdad University with a degree in political science. "There's no peace, no stability and no jobs here," she said. Other students at the campus, a temporary oasis in a violent city, agreed.
Fat lot of good it did the Iraqis to be freed from Saddam, only to be plunged into chaos. The only jobs for the unskilled are apparently kidnapping and robbery. Those leaving say it's not an easy choice to start over in another country but then again, enduring an home invasion is a big help in making up your mind.
"I've been through four wars. I never, never felt like leaving before," Um Mustafa said. "Now, life in Iraq has become unsafe. I don't feel safe in my own bedroom -- or in the whole country."
That's apparently enough to trade "a good job, money, a house, car and servants" for life as an exile. Can't say I blame them.

Of course this could all work out pretty well for the "reconstruction plan." Hell of lot easier for the western mega-corps to take over the industries if none of Iraq's indigineous business leaders are left to compete for control.
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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Dear Dems - get the lead out

Karl Rove briefly emerged from the rock he's been hiding under to rally the faithful for the fight in 06. The Democratic Party could take a lesson from the old scumbag. Here's a guy who's facing almost certain indictment, running a party that is embroiled in so many corruption scandals that you need a scorecard to keep track of them and headed by one of the most unpopular presidents in history and he comes out fighting. He ignores the polls and takes the offensive.

He's not sitting around around wondering whether it's politically expedient to disagree with his opponents. It doesn't matter that he's dead wrong, or of evil intent; he looks strong and talks like a winner. The sheeple like a winner. Nobody wants to bet on the losing side.

To paraphrase The Left Coaster, "Hey Dems, so how are we going to win?" What's your plan?

I share paradox's frustration at the endless consulting and polling and the concession of seats that could be contested and won -- especially now.
We should know we always compete like hell everywhere, and virulent Republicans like Pombo should get very special attention tied to so much scandal. There’s another competitive seat right there. We can have 250 competitive races if we decide to, it’s up to the party, not some guy named Cook, believe me.
Right on. Nobody has ever won by giving up before the battle even starts. The Democrats need to stop worrying about elections and start representing the electorate. The Democrats greatest failing is while they're endlessly wringing their hands over using the least alienating language, the Republicans are taking the floor and making their arguments. Dumb. It leaves them looking like cowering fools and allows the Republicans to look decisive by contrast.

Get a clue Dems. It's like I used to tell my first husband, "it's not what you say, it's the way you say it." Act like you believe in yourselves and the voters will believe in you.

Update: An impolitic after our own heart, Gothamimage points out they have the backstory on Rove, straight from the backrooom of the chambers of power.
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Voting fraud gets harder to hide

Better late than never, the WaPo weighs in on Diebold and finds it lacking a certain something, that being a truly securable voting tally system. The details of tests on the system in Florida reveal the frightening ease with which the system can be hacked.

Couple this with previous reports of irregularities and the recently released statistical study showing the irregularities were of sufficient quantity to alter the outcome of the 04 elections, and it adds up to an election scandal of epic proportions, being for all practical purposes ignored or dismissed as conpiracy theory by the MSM -- until now.

From BradBlog who has been relentlessly breaking new ground on this issue for months on end, comes this rumor.
We've heard tell of another major news organization that may soon roll out legitimate coverage of these matters as well.
As Brad says, "Can it be that we are finally not alone? Stay tuned..."
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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Q & A

Mikevotes asks a very good question and posts a timely flash video in response.
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Dear Dems -- really -- get a clue

I guess I don't have to read anything but Avedon today. She points to this knockout Molly Ivins piece. Molly has a few choice words for the Democratic Party. Molly actually makes a case for reading the polls, like the ones that say a majority of Americans are crying out for change, not the same old GOP tricks, only better because Dems are pulling them.

Oh come on, people -- get a grip on the concept of leadership. ...

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

Do it all, go long, go for public campaign financing for Congress. I'm serious as a stroke about this -- that is the only reform that will work, and you know it, as well as everyone else who's ever studied this. Do all the goo-goo stuff everybody has made fun of all these years: embrace redistricting reform, electoral reform, House rules changes, the whole package. Put up, or shut up. Own this issue, or let Jack Abramoff politics continue to run your town.

Do not sit there cowering and pretending the only way to win is as Republican-lite. If the Washington-based party can't get up and fight, we'll find someone who can.

I have nothing to add to that except perhaps to note that I've been predicting for some time now that if the Dems don't get, (as they like to say here in the South), their shit in one sock, 08 for sure and possibly 06 will be the year of third party candidates.
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Dear Dems - get a clue

Via Avedon, Walter Shapiro at Salon offers some advice to the Democratic Party that's worth sitting through the Lexus ad to read. It's really the same advice I'm been giving them but Walter articulates it more elegantly and of course, there's a much greater chance that the DNC is reading him. Best quote at the end of the article.
But politics sooner or later becomes a test of character and not merely a paint-by-numbers exercise in low-risk electioneering. These are key weeks for the Democrats to decide whether they believe in anything other than polls and the frail hope that the Republicans will self-destruct.
Fool's hope that. They should fire the consultants, unsubscribe to the pollsters and hire a bunch of observers to sit in the local VFW bars and listen to what real people are saying, which is basically -- get a backbone or get out of the way.
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Do you swear...

Speaking of great women political bloggers, for my money, Avedon Carol is at the top of the list. She's so great that when I'm feeling like I'm even boring myself and I don't know why I bother to blog; I can't read her because I get depressed that I'm not that good. She weighs in on the melee over their silly thin skinned ombudsman at the WaPo with a stellar post on swearing. My favorite graf.
Now, let me make this clear: I don't think people who lecture you on your language in the middle of an argument - especially in upsetting conditions - are being "more mature" than someone who swears. Every time I hear someone claim that using vulgarity is ignorant my first thought is, "Boy, are you ignorant!" Swearing is no big deal, really. Saying "fuck" is not really special, it's just a word that is in such common usage among peers (at any level) that you might as well complain about "the". And if you think highly literate, intelligent, articulate people don't use those words, you're just plain dumb; we use all the words - we just make better sentences with them.
Read it all. It's a great take.

Update via Heretik: A deleted comment at the WaPo.
--As a longtime reader of the Washington Post, I am appalled at Deborah Howell's performance as the paper's ombudsman. I am a former reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and I can not imagine an editor at my former paper allowing such poorly researched material to get into print--whether as a news story, opinion column, or God forbid, an ombudsman's essay.
I guess one man's disappointment is another man's profanity. But are they men, or are they mice?
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Blogs on the run

I keep hearing how there's no great women political bloggers. Maybe they just haven't figured out we're women. Here's two more to add to your reading list, Motherlode and enigma4ever.

We'll be adding them to the blogroll once I figure what the heck I'm going to do about this template. Changing the style of the counter didn't help the scrolling problem. I'm afraid the next step to switch to a clean template and start all over. I guess it could be worse. I'm not thrilled with the style of this one anyway but it's a pain in the butt to recustomize it.

Scratch that. I think I just fixed it by moving the sitemeter counter to the footer. Only a technodope like me would take a month to figure that out.
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Friday, January 20, 2006

Plame case flickers back into the news

This just in off the wires. Libby's lawyers have thrown down their cards. They're planning to delay the trial past the 06 elections by issuing subpoenas to everyone in the media they can think of. Libby will attempt to take the focus off his own criminal activities by turning it indictment of the press and the debate will very likely turn to whether they should release their records or not.

This should be weird. It will be, as they say, tried in the media but the media will also be the defendants in the court of public opinion. One wonders what effect Judy Miller's incarceration will have on the way this one plays out?
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CIFA -- the other NSA

You need a scorecard to keep track of the secret surveillance going on in this administration. While we're all focused on NSA, Early Warning reminds us that the Pentagon has its own data ming programs, geared largely towards political dissenters on the left, that aren't exactly conforming to the rules. There's a lot of unpurged records lying around that no one seems to be talking much about.

Forget the ethics class, just teach them to read the law and tell them to follow it.
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The winners are...

The results are in on the Iraq elections and there's no surprises. With greater Sunni participation, although the Shia won a large majority of the seats, it wasn't enough to rule outright and the Sunnis gained a proportionate influence in the parliament thus ensuring the need for a coalition government.

The most interesting outcome was this.
Ahmed Chalabi, a Shiite politician once favored by the United States to lead Iraq after Hussein, did not receive a seat.
I think that speaks volumes about Iraqi sentiment towards the occupation. Meanwhile,
U.S. officials hope that a greater Sunni voice in the new parliament and government will help defuse the insurgency so American and other international troops can begin withdrawing.
That's I'm hoping too. I don't want to have to put up posts like this again.
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Found a new blog

I don't know how I could have missed Left of Center for all this time. I'm pretty sure he's commented here before and I usually try to check out a new commenter's blog. He must have visted when I was in one of my working rotations. I'm lucky if I proofread my own posts when I'm at the end of one of those, but better late than never, thanks to a timely link by ExPat Brian.

B Shilliday has got a nice gig going there, mixing politics with links to some incredible photographic portfolios, including the astounding Ashes and Snow. This portfolio just knocked me out and I highly recommend you take the time to go through the whole thing and keep in mind while you're looking at them that these are real, undoctored and unstaged photos. Mindblowing. I really want to see the exhibition of this work in person.
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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Help wanted

I keep dicking around with this template. There's something wrong with it and I can't figure out what the hell it is. The page doesn't load right. It should keep scrolling past the links but it doesn't so if I post too much, you won't even see it. I obviously screwed something up along the way but damned if I can figure out what. I've been checking it against the source code for other blogs who use the same template and it looks the same. All I changed in the body were the colors for the headers and the links. It's got to be in the sidebar I guess. I can fix it by changing the template but then I'll lose all my links and have to redo the whole stupid thing. I think it might be the sitemeter. Maybe I'll try changing to a different style counter.

What I really need is a computer geek to take pity on me and fix it. Maybe I should advertise on Craig's List...
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Oh (Big) Brother

You've probably heard about the White House quest to subpoena the google search records of a million random Americans. Since it tied into the drug war so well, I posted on it here.
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Get a life

Oh for the love of Pete. This is the sort of thing that gives serious activists for important causes a bad name.
In the past, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood have pressed the federal government for stricter regulations and cheered on individuals who filed lawsuits against particular companies for their high-fat food. Now they say they will use state consumer-protection laws to try to stop what they believe is a deceptive and unfair business practice: advertising to young children.
Get off it people. Either run your own damn counterads for healthy food on the programs or don't let your kids watch commericial TV. Or try teaching your kids to eat right. What America most clearly does not need is more nanny laws stuffed down our throats.
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Loyalty trumps tenure at State Dept

Shorter WaPo. Condi Rice announces all you Foreign Service bitches who have been complaining that our foreign policy sucks will now be sent to unfortified posts in dangerous and barbaric countries where the only way to protect your whining butts will be to call in our soldiers and propaganda teams.

Forget about your promised rotations into cushy embassies. We know who you are. We've been listening to your phone calls. BWAHAHAHAHAHA...
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I get comments

I slept in and I'm moving slow this morning, trying to catch up on some reading. In the interim, for your amusement, I have a new fan at the Detroit News.
From: Michigan_Patriot
City: macomb, USA
Subject: Weblog: Libby Spencer

Comments: Sick and tired, are you, Libby? Sick and tired of being labeled as what you're actually portraying yourself to be? Yes Libby, you are a partisan hack, as you put it.

When you scrawl such far left kaka as A word to the national Democratic party... or your ever-so-Socialist 'Improved' Medicare plan causes chaos, you expect us to believe that you're a non-partisan complainer?

When you cite and link to such left-wing web sites as Capital Hill Blue, and various left-wing blog sites like "Stone Soup"; your constant bashing of the Bush administration, defending liberals (the further left - the more you defend.)
The difference between you and who you call "partisan hacks" is that people like Michelle Malkin reach a lot more people than you.

No, Libby, you are no Freedom Fighter, not by a damn sight. You are more a blog-whore for the ultra-left Soros/Franken for the drug induced non-thought socialist set.

Yes, you are quite partisan, and definitely a hack. (but not a very good one)
Nice of him (her?) to link to my posts. And you know you've hit a nerve when they start throwing the drug-addled card, a thinly veiled reference to my work for drug policy reform. I only wish I was still drug-addled. It would make this sort of bile easier to laugh off.
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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Say goodbye, say goodbye

Kevin McKague finally checks in by email and leaves his fans an explanation for his sudden disapperance.
I should have said goodbye. I had a bit of a jolt in my career a couple of weeks ago. I was laid-off from my job, and I decided to rearrange the way I spend my time. I am devoting the time I had been spending on blogging to other writing projects, and, of course, looking for a new job.

I thought that it would be best to delete the blog altogether, rather than writing a good-bye statement, and letting the blog remain dormant. That way, I figured, I wouldn't be tempted to come back when say something when Pat Robertson says something stupid, or when Al Gore says something brilliant. That turned out to be a big mistake. I had no idea that some porn pusher would hijack the domain name. I literally feel physically ill when I think of a semi-regular visitor finding that, and maybe thinking that I have something to do with it.

Would you do me a favor? Go to News from Davison, and click on the "flag for offensive content" link on the top of the page.
I've done it and it would be helpful if you click over and hit the button. It just says flag. From what I understand there's not much Blogger can do about the hijacking but if enough people flag it, perhaps they'll remove it.
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Say goodbye

It's with great regret that I deleted News from Davison from the blogroll today. Usually I would keep the link to the archived material and put it in the on hiatus category but unfortunately, Kevin deleted the blog altogether. At least he thought he did. Unfortunately, and this should serve as a warning to everyone who uses Blogger as a platform, some scumbag hacker picked up his lapsed domain and has resurrected it as a some sleazy vehicle for adolescent porn spam.

Hard to say whether it's a just some pimply faced kid with too much time on his hands and no social life or whether it's someone who has a grudge against Kevin. I tend to think it's the latter, only because the hacker went to some trouble to disguise the transition, blogging about some religious sounding stuff and then slipping the juvenile sex references into the text. Kevin was likely to speak of his faith in his posts so it might indicate something personal.

In any event, it's not the first time I've heard of this happening when someone lets a blog lapse. I know of at least one other political blog that suffered the same fate - so bloggers beware.
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Delayed posting

I usually get out early on the last day of the rotation, but with no relief in sight it looks like an evening blogging kind of day. In the interim, if you didn't read my DetNews blog, I got Orders in the Court and petitioning the government with their grievances and The spies who love thee up there at the moment and I seem to have gained a couple of new defenders in the comment section.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Secret surveillance news you can use

The Left Coaster has the best overview of the day's secret surveillance news, including links to this NYT story on how the NSA flooded the FBI with thousands of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names garnered through their secret surveillance, causing a backlog for the investigators and engendering an atmosphere of frustration when none of the leads panned out. In fact, what little useful info they did gain from the hundreds of thousands of man hours and tax dollars spent in this wild goose chases, was already available through other intelligence channels.

On a related note, the ACLU along with a few other private citizens and advocacy organizations and the Center for Constitutional Rights have filed lawsuits challenging the program, calling it illegal and unconstitutional. Notably, Christopher Hitchens, perhaps ruing for a moment having gone over to the dark side, has joined in the ACLU's suit. Actually Hitchens probably just sees an opportunity for some public attention. He's waffled from one side to the other so much it seems clear he doesn't do anything on principle anymore but nonetheless, if even this turncoat for hire is feeling violated and exposed enough to join the suit, it suggests his new friends on the right ought to take it more seriously.

On the other hand, I know it's mean and petty but I hope the pompous SOB finds out he wasn't considered important enough to have been put under surveillance. Nonetheless, I'm glad to see the program being tested in the courts and I hope they manage to get it shut down.
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Monday, January 16, 2006

The Little Lady of the White House does Africa

This is almost too irritating to link to. Laura Bush is on the road and the good little wife offers these pearls of wisdom in defense of her hubby.

She thinks illegal domestic surveillance is just fine because the American people expect to be spied on, she assures us Cheney is solid as a rock and is a fine VP and this may actually be the quote of the day. In defense of the White House's unnatural fixation on abstinence only programs, which comprise a large portion of our AIDS/HIV aid and which she is promoting on this little tour to Africa, she says:
"I really have always been a little bit irritated by criticism of abstinence because abstinence is absolutely, 100 percent effective in fighting a sexually transmittable disease," she said. "When girls are not empowered, girls are vulnerable, and their chances of being able to negotiate their sexual life with their partners and to make their partner chose a condom are very low."

Right Laura. Spending millions telling young girls who are routinely partnered to older men while in their teens to just say no, is much more effective than telling them how to avoid being infected when they have sex. What planet is this family living on?
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Free speech should not be caged

The Impolitic noticed this "little noticed" provision in the Patriot Act a while ago when Ben Masel brought it to our attention. It's even more timely now, in the context of the illegal secret surveillance on Americans that has come to light in the interim. From Free Market News.
This new criminal class of "disruptor" and the crime of "disruptive behavior" could be used to harass and imprison anyone expressing free speech in a way deemed … well, "disruptive" to the event in question. The article then goes on to discuss what sorts of behavior this term "disruptor" could be used to control, based on what we already know about the Bush paradigms. It concludes that if this law is passed, it could mean wearing a controversial t-shirt, or sporting a bumpersticker on your vehicle, would be all that was required to make the average citizen a "political prisoner" in the clearest sense of those words. - ST
Glad to see it's still being circulated. All public land in America was meant to be a free speech zone by the framers of our Constitution. Time to remind the people of their history. Pass it on.

[hat tip Jason]
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Quote of the Day

Noam Chomsky in answer to the question: What's your biggest regret over 40 years of political activism? What would you have done differently?
I would have done more. Because the problems are so serious and overwhelming that it's disgraceful not to do more about it.
Here's hoping we can do enough to make a difference.
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He should have been our President

I can't think of more fitting subject for my 1000th post. Al Gore delivered a brilliant speech at Liberty Coalition and the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. I'm not even going to excerpt here to you highest common denominator readers. I know you'll read the whole text.

If Gore had made speeches like this in 2000, we probably wouldn't be in this mess today.
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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Help! I think I've fallen into the Twilight Zone

What a weird day. I had a dream that Glenn Reynolds said something nice to me. I drank a cup of coffee and unexpectedly fell asleep again for another couple of hours. Well maybe I should have expected it because of the tranq. I don't remember those dreams but they were weird also.

Thus being suitably befuddled, I decided to take on my critics related to this post. They segued into abortion rights, and every once in while I just get fed up with neanderthals. Reading it again, it seems a little harsh and probably futile, but I'm leaving it up anyway. I don't usually answer the "fan club" directly because it tends to scare them off but that was one thread that really needed to be shut down. But that's not even the weird part.

The really weird thing that happened today was I was cruising Gut Rumbles this morning and found myself agreeing with Dean Esmay in the comments on this post. I've been in an ongoing argument all day on it. I really like that crowd and I try not to inflict my politics on them but having Dean lead off with a mostly thoughtful post, (not that he could resist a gratuitous dig at liberals), I jumped in and have been in an ongoing debate all day.

Damn, just when I was making friends with Acidman. The sweetie even put Last One Speaks on his blogroll. He'll probably kick me out now.
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Term limits a good beginning for reform

With DeLay's reputation blackened like burned toast by the various scandals he's embroiled in, the House Republicans jockey for power. However, with Abramoff about to turn the careers of who knows how many GOP Congressman to cinders, it's no simple matter to pick a successor to his Supreme Sliminess. Dissension in the rank and file grows and the Republican factions are splintering without their taskmaster to keep them on message.
"I do think we're at a critical, pivotal moment for the Republican Party right now," said Vin Weber, a former Republican representative from Minnesota. "The problem we're facing today is that that hard-work effort to define a reform conservative agenda has taken a back seat to simply political, tactical efforts to retain power."
There's much grumbling about ill-conceived programs designed to reward benefactors that run anathema to the true conservative principles of small government, including No Child Left Behind and this nightmare Medicare reform.
Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who with Rep. Charles Bass (R-N.H.) has urged his colleagues to consider major leadership changes next month, said House Republicans approved some of those bills in part to help Bush win reelection in 2004. "That concern no longer exists," Flake said. "The president is no longer running for reelection."
Think about that for a moment. Your Congressmen passed legislation, not for the good of the people they purport to represent but for their own political power, in order to stay in office and keep the payola train going for themselves. They don't even bother to pretend to act in the interests of their constiuents anymore. When is the last time you heard the phrase, "for the common good" from a politician?

All the lobby reform in the world isn't going to change that as long as we have professional politicians. Politics used to be considered a civic responsibility and we called our politicians and government workers, civil servants. It's been a very long time since our politicians have served anyone but their own interests.

The solution seems clear and Don Surber said it best today. This is why I read him no matter how many times he pisses me off with his posts.
Tom DeLay is in his 23rd year in Congress.

Duke Cunningham was in his 14th year when he resigned in disgrace.

William Jefferson is in his 15th year in Congress. An aide of his just copped a plea and agreed to testify against an unnamed congressman.

Term limits -- 12 years and goodbye -- would have booted these boys before they could become embroiled in scandal.
Right on. It's time to simplify our government and its processes to make it more transparent and less a petri dish for corruption. The best place to start is term limits.
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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Bozell on vainglorious vendetta

The right wing extremists search desperately for their next vainglory "victory" in their war against truth and justice by recreating inflammatory Swift Boat style attacks -- this time on John Murtha -- in a sad attempt to deflect attention away from the abject failures of their greedy and corrupt cronies in the White House and the Congress. Such is the disdain they show for the American people that they believe the public memory is so short that their fradulent tactics will work again to deflect the national debate from matters of much greater concern than whether Mr. Murtha deserved the medals he received 40 years ago.

Those paragons of patriotism at Cybercast News Service, led by Grand Poobah L. Brent Bozell III, whose overpampered tootsies have never graced a battlefield, feel it is appropriate to trample a decorated veteran, at -- as they often point out -- a time of war, "because the congressman has really put himself in the forefront of the antiwar movement."

I guess one of the freedoms the keyboard warriors at the former home of Jeff Gannon are fighting for isn't freedom of speech. Way to support the troops CNS. I'm sure all the soldiers in Iraq are thrilled to know they are risking their lives so you can sling mud (from the safety of your home computer) at their military records if they don't agree with your point of view -- that is if they ever make it home.
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SCOTUS and surveillance

Sometimes I think I shouldn't post when I'm tired and cranky. I notice my posts tend to lean towards pissed off. Nonetheless, I just posted today's Detroit News items on how Secret Surveillance failed to prevent 9/11, it apparently started months before and a less than sweet
note to Dems about bringing on the filibuster.
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Fan mail

My critics in the comment section of the Detroit News have become so wordy and have taken to debating each other rather than comment on the posts. Since my schedule has been so brutal this month, I have to admit that I haven't read every single one, as I usually do. But this one caught my eye this morning.
Comments: Norm said this: "Jim, I have been sitting here thinking"! WELL THAT'S A START! I'm Glad you and JB can bash Libby and constantly say, how'd you put it, oh "I understand the concept of loving a man that much is hard for you, but try and see it her way." and the "I was speaking of poor Libby's failure to keep at least one husband, or several boyfriends happy. Maybe it's her dislike of men that drove her comments." Nice Norm! So explain the concept of "loving a man" to us Norm, since Libby apparently doesn't know. You talk about a hypocrite....your two IQ's put together wouldn't add up to Libby's. Sorry I angered you so and made you post a flurry of Liberal bashing posts. You guys are the type who love to bash women like Libby, who can handle your sophmoric insults, but cower to men.
My failure to keep at least one husband, or several boyfriends happy? What the hell is that supposed to mean and what does my miserable excuse for a love life have to do with politics? And who says it's my job to keep anybody happy? I find the whole mindset very revealing.

No wonder these guys feel such a kinship with Bush. They all secretly fear strong women and want to put us in our place, which they apparently believe is at home, with our mouths shut -- taking care of them.
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Friday, January 13, 2006

What's in a name?

Would not a fascist monarchy feel just as repressive if it were called a police state?
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Thursday, January 12, 2006

May I have a blogroll please

Say hey to Donnie at Cadillac Tight who I just added to the blogroll. He leans farther right than I do but I put him in swingers because he doesn't buy into the party line on either side.
And people, that ain’t my fault - it’s the Democrats fault. Just as it’s the fault of the Bush administration that I don’t take their word about a damned thing anymore either.

So no, I don’t think I owe the Democrats, or the Republicans any presumption of patriotism, or legitimacy. And neither do you. The two parties have shown themselves to be so clearly more interested in incumbency, rather than governing, that they’ve stripped themselves of that mantle all on their own. I think it’s a shame that Kilgore, or anyone else thinks otherwise.
After reading the transcripts for this poor excuse for Senate hearings on Alito, I don't know about you, but I have to agree with him. The problem is systemic inside the Beltway. It has more to do with the entrenchment of permanent incumbency than party affliation.
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No go on Alito

I worked a 12 hour day and I couldn't post all day, so I started at the Detroit News and posted my Alito rants over there. I found a compelling piece to outline why we should Just say no to Alito. I reminded Mr. Alito's "little woman" that big girls don't cry and I had a somewhat unkind word to the national Democratic party which I decided to cross post to Pyjamas Media.

I lasted 9 days at Tonguetied. I wonder how long it will be before I get kicked out of the PyJM?
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Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Funny as in odd. Crooks and Liars has video of our president's press conference where he introduced Alito. Watch it and tell me it's not weird that he has this odd look of concentration on his face like he's trying to to listen to the prompt and talk at the same time, and he's rolling right along with this great speechifying when all of sudden, he loses it and gets a different weird look on his face as if he's wondering where the prompt went. Then he finishes with these stuttering sort of half-assed comments about Alito's classiness. That wasn't in the script.

I think he was ad-libbing because either because his wire went out, or he blanked on the speech he memorized. Sure, everybody does that sometimes, but we're not president. Shouldn't he know what he wants to say about the most important appointment of his administration without being prompted?

Funny as in laugh out loud. Purgatopia's report on Dick Cheney's recent trip to the ER. I don't want to excerpt it so as not to ruin the punch lines. Trust me, you'll be glad you clicked over.

And while you're there check out his photo gallery of Gaudi's park in Barcelona. I love Gaudi and I've been to this one. It's one of my favorite parks in the world. Nice to be reminded of it.
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Four score and seven memes ago

The meme of fours is spreading. In case you missed it, here's mine. And here's who is playing.

Bostonian Exile

Stone Soup

Mid American Progressive

Acoustic Dad

ExPat Brian


I'm glad so many joined in. For the rest of you, it's not too late. I think it's a really interesting one and I'm finding the commonalities fascinating.

Meanwhile, anybody heard from Kevin McKague? He's noticably missing from the internets.
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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Never saw an Amendment he couldn't break

Well he's already pretty well trashed the Fourth, so why not destroy the First Amendment as well? Our president has taken to threatening his fellow Americans for expressing opposing views. He seems to think under the Imperial War Presidency he should be able to dictate the terms of the public discourse.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 - President Bush issued an unusually stark warning to Democrats today about how to conduct the debate on Iraq as midterm elections approach, declaring that Americans know the difference "between honest critics" and those "who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil, or because of Israel, or because we misled the American people."
Around here we call those people thinking and informed citizens who insist on accountability from our government. But George doesn't stop there.
Mr. Bush said Americans should insist on a debate "that brings credit to our democracy, not comfort to our adversaries."
You read that right. He's accusing anyone who doesn't follow his rules of debate of commiting treason. But maybe he's onto something here. Perhaps we could bring a countercharge that it's his bumbling in Iraq that has brought aid and comfort to the enemy and is therefore treasonous in its ineptitude.

Heretik saw the speech and runs down the lowlights.
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Rove won't roll

Didn't I just say yesterday that we haven't heard from Fitzgerald for a long time? Well, here's a timely update from Truthout. Fitzgerald is quietly working away at the case and although Luskin denies his client is a target of the investigation, insiders say Rove has already turned down a plea deal. One supposes The Lord of the Lies is hoping to brazen his way through as he always has in the past. And as The Left Coaster points out, Rove will never roll on his higher ups when he knows Bush would pardon him in a heartbeat.

Probably the only way to make sure he pays for his crimes if Fitz manages to indict him, is to impeach Bush first.
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Just for fun

Ah the dreaded double entendre. It made me laugh. Guy K has real headlines.
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Another hatch on the police state's gun

Grover Norquist is going to have a hard time drowning the government in a bathtub if his buddy doesn't stop expanding the definition of illegal conduct in contravention of First Amendment protections. Bush yesterday signed into law a bill making anonymous "annoying" speech illegal on the internet. The provision was buried in legislation funding the DOJ and it's likely most of our lobbyist driven "well informed" legislators didn't even know what they were sigining off on. Here's the relevant portion via DeClan McCullagh.
"Whoever...utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet... without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person...who receives the communications...shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."
Kip Esquire says it doesn't apply to blogs and that we're being alarmists but with an administration that finds the rule of law quaint and unapplicable to themselves, it doesn't take a rocket scientist or a legal expert to envision ways this legislation could be misapplied to "annoying" dissenters.

Update: There a really eloquent anonymous comment on this post. I should give up writing and give the blog to this person.
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Whistle while you work, Russert is a jerk

White House lap dog, pseudo-journalist Tim Russert knew in the spring of 04 that he had information that could blow the top off the Plame leak case, namely proof that Scooter Libby lied. So what this champion of a free press and an informed public do?
Russert was aware that a special prosecutor probing the leak of a CIA operative's name knew of his summer 2003 telephone conversation with Libby, and that Libby had released him from any promise of confidentiality. But Russert, the Washington bureau chief for NBC News and host of "Meet the Press," and his attorneys argued in previously sealed court filings in June 2004 that he should not have to tell a grand jury about that conversation, because it would harm Russert's relationship with other sources.
Yeah right. And it just might have prevented his masters from bamboozling the public into reelecting the gang of thugs that are making such a mess of our country right now. Russert isn't the only one. All these wankers, from Judy Miller, to Cooper, to freaking Woodward, sat on damning evidence that could have prevented the atrocities of the last year simply by doing their job and informing the public. And you wonder why I go to the foreign press for my news?
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Say Goodbye, say good buy

The powerful lobbyist organization Alexander Strategy Group is the first casualty of the Abramoff/DeLay corruption scandal. All the adverse press coverage has made the firm as toxic as The Hammer's insecticides and it will cease operations under that name. However, I wouldn't breathe that sigh of relief just yet.
The 12 lobbyists who now work at ASG -- other than Rudy and Buckham -- intend to start a successor firm and intend to keep as many of the clients as possible, according to one of the lobbyists.
Reminds me of the Pentagon's TIA program. The one they dissolved in the face of public objections and they just recreated in the private sector. The face may change but the influence peddling will continue as usual until we get the corrupt politicians out of office.
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Monday, January 09, 2006

Calling George Soros

Well I was going to blog about something else entirely but I ran across this from Jesse Kornbluth at HuffPo and thought it the best idea and most eloquent proposal I've seen in months. In fact, I'm joining in the call. Jesse suggests George Soros buy CNN.

I watch almost no news on television anymore. It's pointless. You can't get real information on any station. It's not about news, it's about personalities now. What do I care if it's Aaron Brown or the creepy Anderson Cooper and what it does it say about the market when the best source of news in this country is The Daily Show and the Weather Station? America is hungry for a news station they can trust and only someone like George Soros has enough captial and cajones to stand up to the current noise machine and restore CNN to its former respectability. If he did, I'd have it on all the time.

The grass roots thing is a good idea but it's not enough. If it's not on TV, it's just not real to middle America. So what do you say Mr. Soros? Can you help us out here?
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The Abramoff File: You gotta believe

Good news of the day comes from Raw Story.
New York - In an internal e-mail obtained by TIME, the director of the FBI’s Washington field office, Michael Mason, congratulated some 15 agents and 15 support staff under him on the case for “a huge accomplishment” in squeezing Jack Abramoff to make a deal after 18 months of investigation and negotiation, one that made “a huge contribution to ensuring the very integrity of our government.” But he added that “the case is far from over,”

...Another official involved with the probe told TIME that investigators are viewing Abramoff as “the middle guy”—suggesting there are bigger targets in their sights. The FBI has 13 field offices across the country working on the case, with two dozen agents assigned to it full time and roughly the same number working it part time. “We are going to chase down every lead,” Chris Swecker, head of the FBI’s Criminal Division, told TIME.
Haven't we all been wishing these liars and thieves would get their comeuppance? It's my Red Sox theory at work, honed from decades of being a Mets fan. The synergy of group belief can overcome impossible odds. If enough people believe the same thing, it will come true. All I can say in defense of this decidely non-scientific theory is, the Mets won the Series twice in my lifetime. I started pitching it to Red Sox fans about four years ago. They won after how many years?

So come on, everybody -- visualize mass indictments.
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No news is good news?

The Bush administration tells us they have to spend millions, planting positive news items in the foreign press because the "good news" in Iraq is not being told. They accuse al-Jazeera of writing fake propaganda, as opposed to theirs, which I suppose is real propaganda. It's going to be hard to sell that argument in the court of world opinion when our troops participate in such blatant intimidation and theft as this against accredited journalists.

Ali Fadhil, just won the Foreign Press Association young journalist of the year award and also happens to be the the first reporter who managed to get the truth out about Fallujah when we staged our big offensive in March 04.

He's an Iraqi journalist who works for the UK Guardian and Channel 4. That can hardly be honestly construed as the opposition press. Yet American troops blasted their way into his home in Baghdad yesterday, with guns blazing, where he was sleeping with his wife and infant children. Why?
Dr Fadhil is working with Guardian Films on an investigation for Channel 4's Dispatches programme into claims that tens of millions of dollars worth of Iraqi funds held by the Americans and British have been misused or misappropriated.

The troops told Dr Fadhil that they were looking for an Iraqi insurgent and seized video tapes he had shot for the programme. These have not yet been returned.

The director of the film, Callum Macrae, said yesterday: "The timing and nature of this raid is extremely disturbing. It is only a few days since we first approached the US authorities and told them Ali was doing this investigation, and asked them then to grant him an interview about our findings.

"We need a convincing assurance from the American authorities that this terrifying experience was not harassment and a crude attempt to discourage Ali's investigation."
I'd like some assurances on that myself. The circumstantial evidence suggests Ali could not have been a least likely suspect. They threw him on the floor, cuffed and hooded him and dragged him out of his home. They released him a few hours later, but they didn't release his tapes. The tapes that were relevant to the interview he was requesting.

Draw your own conclusions, I know what I think. It stinks.
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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Death and dishonor

Mikevotes makes a really good connection between the tragic death of 12 coal miners and the equally tragic loss of 12 American soldiers today.
Do you think CNN is going to devote five days of coverage to this the way they did to that horrible mining tragedy, 12 dead in each? Interviews with the grieving relatives live on screen? Comments about all the previous mistakes at the employer that may have lead to the deaths? More or less, we're discussing two horrible industrial accidents, but they will not be treated the same.

This is the success of the Bush PR offensive surrounding "patriotism" and the offensive on the media. CNN, and the other cable channels, have been cowed into silence by the repeated assaults by the Bush administration. Somehow, the reporting of deaths has been made a political issue rather than a recounting of facts.
True enough. The spin machine has managed to concoct this fantasy that talking about the war dead will discourage the troops. Think about that. It doesn't make sense. The soldiers are there. They see the dead; they already know about them. I would think it would be more discouraging to them that they are dying with no notice or fanfare at home.

The administration is hiding the deaths to keep the reality of war from reaching the public consiousness. It's so much easier to pretend it's going well, when no one sees the coffins coming off the plane.
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Post time

Okay kids, I have a new toy. I joined the Pyjamas Media. No, not the snobby PJM, this is the real opensoremedia. Much more my style -- they'll let anybody in. Here's my first post. Hope Surber is proud of me, I found the place through him.

I'm also virtually the only one posting at The Detroit News blog this weekend so it won't take much scrolling to find my posts. You should check them out. I've got some important news there on religious profiling at the border, Medicare chaos, anti-US demonstrations in Iraq and did you know your cell phone records are for sale?

Finally, I posted this meme of fours at LOS divulging little known information about my personal preferences. It's a pretty cool meme, and although I would never tag anyone, I would love to see the rest of the "Detroit Bloggers" play along.

Kathy, Midwest, Kevin and Exile, I mean you. What do you say? Are you game? How about the rest of the regs here?
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Coming up short on cultural exchange

It's true when they say everything changed on 9/11, but it wasn't our level of safety, it was our level of civility. You hear about incidents like this all too often.
SAN MARINO, Calif., Jan. 7 -- A plan to build a large, classical Chinese garden at the Huntington Library is in jeopardy because U.S. immigration officials have denied visas to 13 Chinese stonemasons needed to assemble ornate bridges and pavilions.

The artisans were expected to arrive this month to help create the first phase of the 12-acre garden. But the government refused to grant visas in September because it did not consider the project an important cultural exchange program, library officials said.
The project will have to close down if they can't get the decision overturned. Apparently no one else has the skills to assemble the pieces the artisans have already hand carved at home. What possible danger could they present to us? There's only 13 of them. Even if they were spies of some kind, perhaps the government could pull a few DHS agents off citizen surveillance and watch them while they're here for only a few weeks.

And the same goes for the six musicians who were refused visas to perform there last year. Cultural exchange is an important tool of good diplomatic relationships between both governments and ordinary people. If 9/11 is allowed to change that, we're only shortchanging ourselves.
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Throw the bums out

Doug Thompson at Capital Hill Blue makes a good case for impeachment. Doug gets a bad rap from the right wing partisans who portray him as some kind of foaming at the mouth nutjob but while his language is colorful, his views are really quite tempered and his creds are impeccable. The wingnuts just don't like that he has some high placed inside sources and the balls to call 'em as he sees 'em, as they say.

He's gone back and forth on the issue, for good reasons, but he's had enough. Excerpts:
Time to impeach the son of a bitch.

He needs to go. I’m not sure America can survive three more years with Bush driving the ship of state.

I’m not sure we can survive three more years of corrupt control of Congress by a party that circles the wagons to protect criminals like Tom DeLay and then drops its collective trousers, grabs its ankles and allows itself to be gleefully screwed by fatcat lobbyists and cash-rich special interest groups.

I’m not sure we can wait for the electorate to take action because the electorate has been pretty damn dumb and stupid for too long and given us too many miscreants living in the White House and wandering the halls of Congress.

Time to send a message to the cabal of greed and corruption that has taken over our government and tell them that their ass is grass and we’ve got a bunch of lawn mowers fully gassed and ready to start cutting.
Really. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. It's time to mow down this heinous gang of thugs.
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All about the Benjamins

I wasn't planning to do a PJ Media post but I'm honoring my unstated resolution to clean out my hold folders and I click onto this site wondering why would I keep something called EGO? I almost clicked right out when I saw the logo but I pressed on, curious to discover why I would have kept this link. Martin must have said something I was interested in at some point in the past.

I'm still at a loss. The top two posts were essentially about how much money he is going to make as a PJM mogul. I love this group. How long ago did they launch now and they're still talking about how it's going to be great, once they get organized? He's got his template all set up and ready to rock and he's really hoping they'll sell some ads and get rid of the "PSAs" like this gem.


It looks almost poetic with the vertical placement on the sidebar but irony that rich gives me a stomachache. Here's a little cabal of the top 70 "handpicked" bloggers who have become obsessed with installing themselves as the elite of Blogosphere. They've managed to take 70 unique (and sometimes even interesting voices) and homogenized them into a single dull monotone.

And one wonders what message these war supporters are trying to send to the soldiers with their latest gang bang on a decorated war veteran, John Murtha. Disagree with the mighty bloggers at your own peril? They've spent the last two days dissecting every word of his recent speech and yet somehow fail to mention that the loudest applause of the night was when a questioner brought up impeachment. Do they really believe that anyone outside of their incestuous fan base uses them as a sole source of news and commentary and they can hide their bias by "repeating the propaganda" until it becomes true?

I can't fathom why they think self absorbed posts about themselves and Greek chorus "blogjams" designed to drown out their critics are the road to riches and power but I do appreciate that they all adopted the silly little logo. It's like a warning label on a bottle of poison ink.
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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Newt knocks GOP corruption

Ungently, does Newt get his revenge.
One of the biggest issues is the growing power of incumbents and their dependence on contributions from lobbyists, Gingrich said.

``There are a series of behaviors, a series of attitudes, a series of crony-like activities that are not defensible, and no Republican should try to defend them,'' he said. ``The danger for Republicans is to pretend this isn't fundamental or to pretend that they can get by passively without undertaking real reform.''
Most likely they'll pretend to undertake real reform. Frist is already floating proposals to take the heat off his SEC investigation. Nonetheless, it's shaping up to be a tough year for the GOP and we haven't heard from Fitzgerald in a long time. Who knows how many vipers he'll drive out of the snake's nest?

I don't want to get my hopes up but it's starting to feel like 06 could be a real turning point if the Dems manage to pull their noses out of the polls and start listening to the people.
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Buzz of the blogosphere

This is what the big boys and girls will be talking about today.

Bremer admits the White House was clueless about the insurgency. Never saw it coming.

The culpable cover their butts. Frist leads the way on lobbyist "reforms." Apparently we don't have enough rules already to prevent these guys from taking bribes.

I think we need an investigation into who the eleven U.S. government officials are that leaked this classified information to the wingnuts, "proving" that Saddam did too have terrorist training camps. I've got a Kennedy half dollar that says you won't hear any calls coming from that camp asking for one, while they remain outraged at the whistleblowers who are exposing White House malfeasance.

Extra armor could have saved many lives in Iraq. So could have, other proper equipment. The Pentagon is working on it. Hell, it's only been three years.

The Congressional Research Service says Bush is full of sh*t and his "war powers" exist only in his twisted little mind.

This is probably why Delay is giving up on holding onto his former job as Majority leader. We haven't heard much about him lately, but it looks like he'll be sucked into all the corruption scandals.
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Amen Sister - what ingrates

I've been thinking this myself lately, but Shakes Sis says it so well I don't think I'll blog it myself. An excerpt:
But I would like a modicum of perspective from those—including many of those in the wanking Democratic Party—who have benefited from scores of legislation derived from an inclusive but vast progressive movement, and now see fit to stand in judgment of progressives, condemning them to disenfranchisement from the political process and conflating them with the radical Right. Wanting drinkable water, breathable air, a functioning safety net, universal healthcare, alternative energies, true equality, fair elections, fair taxation, improved public education, and increased workers’ rights isn’t radical. It’s a worthy and achievable agenda, and, perhaps more importantly, it’s what America wants.

...Dems moan that the GOP is great at framing language and debates, and that’s true. It’s difficult to compete with the kind of mendacity that allows one to label a massive, orchestrated plundering of the environment The Clean Skies Act. But the Dems need to stop being ashamed of progressives. We are the history of much of what is right with America, and I’m sick and bloody tired of the compulsion to categorize us as anything less.
I have nothing to add to that.
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Friday, January 06, 2006

No felony goes unrewarded

In case you were losing sleep over how poor old Scooter Libby was going to make ends meet, what with having to quit his job on account of treason and all, you can put away the Ambien. He got a job as a senior fellow at the right wing think tank, the Hudson Institute, focusing on issues related to terrorism and Asia and strategic planning.
He will join a team of conservative thinkers that includes Robert H. Bork , Michael Horowitz and former National Security Agency director William E. Odom .

We're told that his salary is on par with the going rate for the deep thinkers -- presumably at least as much as his $160,000 White House gig -- and that, if he wants, he'll probably still have time to do some consulting or work on a second novel.
Or we presume, occassionally consult with his lawyer -- he is still under indictment. Gotta love the far right extreme political machine. The only crime is disloyalty. You only suffer in that crowd for trying to keep to the law, not for breaking it.
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Jack fell down and broke his crown and Tom came tumbling after

Jack cracked and the flank attacks. The rank and file GOP smell blood.
The Hotline has learned from three House sources that at least two-dozen House GOPers spanning the ideological spectrum have agreed to sign a letter to House Conference Chair Deborah Pryce (R-OH) requesting new leadership elections in an effort to block Rep. Tom DeLay from reclaiming his post as Maj Leader. A group of members and staffers held a conference call earlier today and plan to hold a second one later in the afternoon as they seek to obtain the required 50 signatures to force the vote.
Nobody is going to want to be associated with the stink when this mess of rotten eggs cracks open.
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Securing the citizens

More homeland surveillance. Grant Goodman, an 81-year-old retired University of Kansas history professor has engaged in a 50 year correspondence with another professor in the Philippines for 50 years. He recently received a letter from her that had been opened and presumably read by Homeland Security. They make no secret about it. It's their "right" under this seige of terrorism we're under and all foreign mail is up for scrutiny.
“This process isn’t something we’re trying to hide,” Mohan said, noting the wording on the agency’s Web site. “We’ve had this authority since before the Department of Homeland Security was created,” Mohan said.

However, Mohan declined to outline what criteria are used to determine when a piece of personal correspondence should be opened, but said, “obviously it’s a security-related criteria.”

Mohan also declined to say how often or in what volume CBP might be opening mail. “All I can really say is that Customs and Border Protection does undertake [opening mail] when it is determined to be necessary,” he said.
More secret rules for surveillance, another little chip at our privacy. And one might think the criteria for opening the mail is set pretty darn low if the private mail of long time elderly correspondents is of such interest to homeland security. You have to wonder whose security they're protecting -- ours or theirs?
[hat tip Bill C.]
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I'm engaged in battle with LaPlante over corporate corruption at the Detroit News blog. I'll be back.
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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Food for thought

I'm blind tired so it's take out links tonight. Glenn Greenwald says it all about the NSA secret surveillance scandal.
Can this be any clearer? The Administration is arguing that it has an "exception to the ‘procedures of FISA,’" not that its surveillance complied with FISA.
Mikevotes has the post on the 27 recess appointments Bush made this week and few other items of interest.

And Stone Soup has the ultimate statement on the state of the economy by my favorite politician, Robert Reich.
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At last, here's a brighter note in Bloglantis. Head over to the Bostonian Exile with your best wishes on his recent engagement. My best to you both my dears.
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When bloggers lose their edge

I haven't had enough sleep in days. I'm tired and cranky and I'm still in bitch mode over Bloglantis today.

He used to be a daily read but this is why, besides the fact that he's become rather boring now that he mostly links to only PJM bloggers, I've pretty much stopped reading the Instapundit. He posts crap like this.
TOM MAGUIRE: "I don't want the Times deciding, in wartime, just what information I "deserve to have", thank you very much - they are not elected,they are not accountable, and frankly, I do not trust their politics. But rather than abandon my fellow citizens to the mercies or depredations of the Bush Administration, let me offer a constructive suggestion - since we have a representative democracy, complete with institutional checks and balances and two parties, how about if the purveyors of classifed info, when troubled by their consciences, take their troubles to a Congressional oversight committee rather than the NY Times?"
Um, right. That would be the same Congressional oversight committees under the control of corrupt GOP politicians that have sat on their hands with their thumbs up their ass for the last five years?

Glenn is not dumb. He knows damn well the system of checks and balances has broken down. It would seem playing to his paymasters is more important than thoughtful analysis. I remember when he at least went through the motions of trying to be appear nuanced. How sad that he's degenerated into just another in your face partisan hack willing to sell out to the highest bidders.
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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

And it's 1 - 2 - 3, what are we fightin' for...

As long as I'm thinking about how the blogiverse is changing, this is what bugs me about milbloggers. The establishment pushes certain officer class blogs. They get to say whatever they want, mainly because they're pushing the party line and they're telling us what the military wants us to hear. They even invited that Roggio guy to embed.

On the other hand, the grunts (and their families) who post from the actual battlefields instead of the officer's club, are being censored left and right. Court martialed even, or at least demoted. The brass claim this is necessary because the soldiers are saying too much.
For example, one soldier posted a photo on his blog showing an Abrams tank that had been disabled by an enemy rocket-propelled grenade. The Army said insurgents could use the photo to determine where to aim on tanks.
Excuse me but don't you think if the enemy is aiming their mortars at that spot, they already know this? The grunts are being shut down because they're exposing how weak our defenses are to the people back home. The insurgents can see it for themselves.

The Jason Christopher Hartleys and Leonard Clarks of the war deserve to tell their side of the story as well. How ironic they're risking their lives fighting for the Iraqis' freedom while being denied their own.
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