Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Anyone see a pattern here?

By Libby

Another day, another GOP gay sex scandal. Richard Curtis is a state representative in Washington who has the requisite hypocritical record of voting against gay issues. He denies his man love, but maybe he thinks he doesn't qualify since he's also a cross dresser and he has sex with men in his female persona.

And who knows why he would call in the police to retreive his wallet from the gay prostitue he hired and then tried to burn on the payment. Panic I suppose, but it does seem a little idiotic to expect that with all the witnessess at the sex toy store and the lobby videotape at the hotel that flat denials would work.

I don't have a problem with anyone's sexual habits. If the guy wants to get dressed up in garters and a sequin bra to get a public BJ from a guy, I figure that's his business. And if he takes the guy to his hotel room for a little back door bunging, it's no concern of mine. Frankly, I'd rather not know. But I figure the least he could do is make himself absent from votes on civil unions and such if he can't bring himself to vote for equal rights for the same demographic he exploits to satisfy his sexual needs.

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Shameless, part II

by Capt Fogg

Malcom Nance knows whether waterboarding is torture or not, even if Michael Mukasey doesn't know and if God's own president doesn't think you know. Nance is a former master instructor and chief of training at the U.S. Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE) in San Diego. He's a counterterrorism consultant for the Government's Special Operations, Homeland Security and intelligence agencies and he's had it done to him. Even though he knew he wasn't going to be killed, those who undergo such treatment in some sordid basement in a third world hellhole don't know that and like most of us, they'll say anything to make it stop.

Nance was waterboarded and supervised the waterboarding of 300 other men, not to elicit information, but so that our men would know what might await them at the hands of some evil empire on a par with the United States of America.

In an op-ed piece in The New York Daily News today, Nance tells us that no matter how you look at it, waterboarding is torture.
"In the media, waterboarding is called "simulated drowning," but that's a misnomer. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning. Unless you have been strapped down to the board, have endured the agonizing feeling of the water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs, you will not know the meaning of the word. Usually the person goes into hysterics on the board. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch."
I doubt Mukasey would be able even to watch such a proceeding without being overcome. I doubt that most people would, but the truth is, such evil really does lurk in the hearts of men and the most ordinary people will do the most heinous things given the opportunity and the immunity and there are countless histories to prove it.

But our prospective Attorney General is capable of being evasive and we're capable of looking the other way or telling ourselves that "these people," these "terrorists" deserve it, even when they're kids picked up on the street in random sweeps or for having a suspicious name or because some enemy denounced them. face it we're capable of almost anything.
"One has to overcome basic human decency to endure causing the effects. The brutality would force you into a personal moral dilemma between humanity and hatred. It would leave you questioning the meaning of what it is to be an American."
says Nance, but moral dilemmas don't exist in our administration and are usually avoided by our citizens and beyond the degradation of all our claims of leadership, our pretended ideals, we have created by this sort of action, a worldwide culture of anti-American hate that will not go away in our lifetimes, if ever.

It's well that history will remember Bush as the man who murdered America, but it is not well for us. I think we have been tried and found wanting, our values reduced to meanness our democracy eaten away by the cancer of patriotism and we haven't the slightest ability or inclination to seek redemption.

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Kucinich - good point, bad timing

By Libby

It's not that I didn't think it needed to be said. I've been saying myself for a long time that I think Bush has lost it and is in genuine need of mental health counseling. Unfortunately, hot on the heels of his admission that he saw a UFO at Shirley MacLaine's house, was probably not the best time to bring it up.
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Hughes exit a bad sign

By Libby

This makes me very nervous. Karen Hughes, most recently in charge of improving our image abroad, is the latest in a long string of Bush loyalists to jump from the sinking ship of State. This is no small defection. Hughes, even more so than Dan Bartlett, has been a stalwart BFF to the Commander Guy for all these long years and the last one I would think might desert him in his hour of need. Granted she has an impossible and thankless job but I can only read this as a signal that she believes he is about to do something so crazy, like bomb Iran, that even she is unwilling to take the flack.

All I can say at the moment is, if Condi jumps next -- you can consider it a fait accompli. My advice is to make sure your passport is current and book your rooms in exile far in advance to beat the rush.

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Excess Hoggage

By Libby

I didn't post much yesterday but here's what I have shooting through the tubes as my buddy Xsociate would say.

Hell hath frozen over, wherein I find myself in complete agreement with a poster at the usually ultrawrong American Thinker.

The Ahnuld takes a bold stance on pot. Unfortunately, he then announces he was just kidding.

I'm rather sick of the fringenuts new game of blame the Dems for pork. Murtha seems to me to be an especially lame target.

I didn't write this one, but just a reminder to buy Newshoggers schwag. We could use the beer money.

In case you missed the fallout from the fake FEMA conference, one of the lead players quit and then was supposed to get a job with Intelligence instead. Thanks to the bloggers, that won't happen. This is why we blog folks.

Oh, and a bonus link. In case you're interested in photos of the protests last weekend, scroll down here at Avedon's post for links to lots o' pictures.

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Heavy reading

By Libby

I'm not going to talk about debate number 576 because I didn't watch it. I've given up on these infotainment hacktaculars where the moderator gets to decide who gets to talk and what they get to answer. But if you want to get the latest buzz on who 'won' just follow the links at Memeorandum.


This is a long piece that Kevin pointed out. A fascinating look at Lyndon LaRouche.

Shaun Mullen posted this excellent investigate piece the other day and asks a very good question. How can James Dobson be a fire breathing, anti-homosexual, Bible thumper and also practice mental health counseling? I know they say that psychologists get into the field because they're a little crazy themselves, but this is just nuts.

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Bombs, Bibles and Bullshit

by Capt. Fogg

I'm not surprised at Zogby's poll results. I remember back in the dark days of the Cold War when the University I attended had a symposium on US - Soviet relations and invited the local townspeople to attend. The consensus amongst the patriotic townies was that we should "bomb them back to the Stone Age." That was then, they're just as stupid now.

According to Zogby International, a recent phone poll shows that 52% of Americans favor the bombing of Iran. Amongst the Republicans the number is 71%. A minority of independents and Democrats favor such actions but overall, only 29% of us oppose it.

I'm quite sure that if Bush actually leaves the White House and if the Republicans lose the next election, the scorched earth left behind will include a bombed Iran. This perception serves to and may be designed to frighten voters into supporting whomever they dredge out of the barrel of slime to run against Hillary Clinton. Of course we will get fooled again - and again. We're Americans.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The diplomacy of error

By Libby

Cernig picked up on a disturbing story this morning. This what happens when you have a terrorist watch list with 750,000 names on it. You detain the British International Development Minister twice within a year's time because he happens to be a Muslim. Worse yet, he was on his way home after attending a series of meetings on tackling terrorism at the invitation of the DHS in the first place.

Which is exactly what happened to him last year in New York. Following that episode, "Mr Malik received numerous apologies and assurances from the US authorities."

Just astounding.

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Ain't your granddaddy's news...

By Libby

I just haven't been to get into blogging today. I'm having one of those days where the news all seems like SSDD and I've said everything worth saying. Probably just the residual exhaustion from having to deal with doctors all afternoon yesterday. But it's not like there's nothing worth reading. Krugman has a good post on the paucity of content coming from our elite media. Here's the dismal stats.

In all, 63% of the campaign stories focused on political and tactical aspects of the campaign. That is nearly four times the number of stories about the personal backgrounds of the candidates (17%) or the candidates’ ideas and policy proposals (15%). And just 1% of stories examined the candidates’ records or past public performance, the study found. [...]

The press’ focus on fundraising, tactics and polling is even more evident if one looks at how stories were framed rather than the topic of the story. Just 12% of stories examined were presented in a way that explained how citizens might be affected by the election, while nearly nine-out-of-ten stories (86%) focused on matters that largely impacted only the parties and the candidates.

The entire 'professional' press corps seems to have to been infected by the same malady that plagues our Commander Guy. In depth investigation is hard work so why not just take the easy way out and do horserace reporting?

I don't why we pay good money to get access to the 'news.' They should pay us to read their crap.

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Rumsfeld on the run

by Capt Fogg

See Rummy run - run Rummy. If there's one think that could brighten up the dark Sturm und Drang of Tropical Storm Noel working its way north toward Florida, it's the prospect of Donald Rumsfeld in a trench coat, skulking his way over the wet midnight cobblestones down the narrow, misty and medieval streets of some German city; jack-booted Gestapo and barking Rottweilers hot on his trail.

That's a bit over-dramatic of course, but Rummy went on the run yesterday. Embassy officials bundled the former Secretary of Defense out of the land of "surrender monkeys" and into Germany when news got out that the International Federation for Human Rights along with the Center for Constitutional Rights, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights and the French League for Human Rights had filed criminal complaints involving "ordering and authorizing torture." Nice to hear the French have more guts than we do - but not surprising.

Rummy had been greeted by taunts of "murderer" and "war criminal" upon showing up for breakfast, shortly before fleeing for his safety to an "undisclosed location" in Germany. French police are however allowed to follow a fleeing fugitive over the border. Run Rummy. Run, run, run.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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The Jungle

by Capt. Fogg

We're counting the days until Bush becomes just another bad memory but that memory may well live on and on in the dismantled rubble of what was supposed to be a government of, by and for the people. The dismantling of most regulation and of the law itself continues as though Bush's 8 year Reich was intended to last for a thousand and his overwhelming lack of support seems only to have strengthened Bush's disregard for the well being and the will of the people.

Concern for tainted food, dangerous toys, contaminated products of all kinds is being hyped in the media constantly and denunciations of the FDA and Consumer Product Safety Commission for their incompetence are rampant. It's being portrayed as a failure of government, but it's a mark of the success of Bush's unitary rule that the already emasculated agencies that serve to keep the dangers Upton Sinclair scared the hell out of America about are being further depopulated, and de-funded.

The latest stunning violation of common sense and governmental responsibility is to demand that congress do nothing to rebuild the CPSC. According to the New York Times today, Nancy A. Nord, the acting chairwoman of the commission has asked lawmakers in two letters not to approve the bulk of new legislation that would increase the agency’s authority, double its budget and sharply increase its dwindling staff. Ms. Nord, is on record as being critical of banning lead from toys, the argument being that product safety lawsuits eat into profits.

Supporting the American people, of course is anathema to the "Support the Troops" crowd. The sole exceptions to the "government is bad - corporations are good" Republican ethic are War is Peace and Freedom is Slavery and although the Orwellian antinomy thing is wearing thin, it continues to be apt.

Regulating imports, regulating food quality, regulating the marketplace, regulating air and water supplies: these things are still marked for elimination, but regulating the government that was designed to be regulated by the citizens, is not only frowned upon, but nearly treasonous. No price is too high to pay to gain control over the oil, but any price to keep America's Children alive, to keep the lethal bacteria out of our food or dangerous chemicals out of our food, water and air is out of the question. Bechtel needs the money, Halliburton, Blackwater and the Bush family need the money.

I don't see anything in sight that can change it. I see no light at the end of the tunnel, not in 2008 or ever. I see only a long dark road to hell.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Studs Terkel still fighting for the working man

By Libby

Somehow it encourages me greatly to know Studs Terkel is on our side. I urge you to read the whole op-ed but here's a meaty portion.

During my lifetime, there has been a sea change in the way that politically active Americans view their relationship with government. In 1920, during my youth, I recall the Palmer raids in which more than 10,000 people were rounded up, most because they were members of particular labor unions or belonged to groups that advocated change in American domestic or foreign policy. Unrestrained surveillance was used to further the investigations leading to these detentions, and the Bureau of Investigation — the forerunner to the F.B.I. — eventually created a database on the activities of individuals. This activity continued through the Red Scare of the period.

In the 1950s, during the sad period known as the McCarthy era, one’s political beliefs again served as a rationale for government monitoring. Individual corporations and entire industries were coerced by government leaders into informing on individuals and barring their ability to earn a living.
I was among those blacklisted for my political beliefs. My crime? I had signed petitions. Lots of them. [...]

I have observed and written about American life for some time. In truth, nothing much surprises me anymore. But I always feel uplifted by this: Given the facts and an opportunity to act, the body politic generally does the right thing. By revealing the truth in a public forum, the American people will have the facts to play their historic, heroic role in putting our nation back on the path toward freedom. That is why we deserve our day in court.
Studs is one of the plaintiffs in the citizen lawsuits against the telecoms that would be shut down if retroactive immunity is passed by the Congress. He has been wielding his eloquence on behalf of the working man for most of his 95 years. We couldn't ask for a better champion in this fight. The Democrats would do well to allow him to wage it instead of cowering in faux fear of the White House to excuse placating their deep pocket corporate funders in the telecom industry.

[cross-posted to The Reaction]

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An apology of sorts

By Libby

I don't know how it took me so long to figure out that I had broken links in the blogroll. I guess because I usually follow links from Memorandum over and then catch up on what I've missed from there but I realized last night that my pal Gun Toting Liberal wasn't even showing up on the roll and Middle Earth Journal had a broken link.

An in depth investigation reveals that I am a really lousy typist. All fixed now.
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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Col. Boylan succumbs to GGDS

By Libby

Glenn is having a totally bizarre email exchange with the spokesmouth for our sainted Petraeus. The Colonel's email displays some significant lack of manners and it's unclear whether Boylan is denying sending it or not. There's been much speculation about whether Boylan denies sending the missives or whether someone is spoofing the address, but either way it's an astounding breach of either security or protocol. I don't think they're supposed to be this rude.

As for working in secret with only certain media is laughable. The wide swatch of media engagements is by far the most diverse it could be. But you might not think it that way since we chose not to do an interview with you. You are not a journalist nor do you have any journalistic ethical standards as we found out from the last time I engaged with you.

He was much more respectful when he "engaged us" at Newshoggers but still he arrived to complain that his remarks were taken out of context and then his interview was responsive to our questions, but still evasive. He didn't tell us we hadn't already heard through the official press releases. He failed to address the explicit points. I'm not surprised he declined to engage us further. I think he was unused to being challenged, having spent all his time "engaging" with adoring sycophants in Hawkslandia.

Anyway, I've pondered this for a few hours. It's hard to tell for sure. All neocons sound the same to me but I think Boylan wrote, or least dictated all the emails. Despite the difference in temperment between the Newshoggers experience and Glenn's treatment, the language has the same cadence and I think Boylan lost his cool because it was Glenn he was writing to. Glenn nailed him on the linky love fest with Weekly Standard and Boylan just got insensibly pissed off.

I've been watching this develop for a while and I've noticed a growing number of Fringetopians jumping on the boxcar of Greenwald loathing. I think what we're seeing here is the beginning of new incomprehensible fixation. I do believe Glenn has joined the ranks of Rosie O'Donnell, Michael Moore, Soros and of course the Clintons, as a new derangement syndrome -- GGDS.

[cross-posted to The Reaction]

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Media Bytes - Face down edition



















Blood Relatives? Maybe you need another shot to decide? I see a distinct resemblence.

Giuliani photo via MikeVotes who also has a another winning pix this week. Can you spot Laura? It's a tough call.

Via Avedon, just in case you were having trouble telling the difference between these two candidates. Don't be confused.

I don't like to link to Drudge's poor cousin Politico, but they do have a nice shot of our favorite agitator, Radley Balko along with a short profile with some interesting thoughts about blogging.

Over the home of our favorite marsupial, skippy seems to have gone off on a short hop but George shows us his favorite float from the Impeachment Day parade. I didn't even realize they were having these demonstrations all over the country yesterday. I saw a little press coverage but this was the only video I could find.

This was definitely the best Doonesbury of the Week.

And finally, no pix here but Mad Kane is pondering Condi and her poetry always paints an amusing picture.

By Libby

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Fundies ranks crack over culture wars

By Libby

I can't help but think this is good sign that at least the theocracy is one less thing we have to worry about. It's seems the fundies are splitting over social wedge issues.

So when Fox announced to his flock one Sunday in August last year that it was his final appearance in the pulpit, the news startled evangelical activists from Atlanta to Grand Rapids. Fox told the congregation that he was quitting so he could work full time on “cultural issues.” Within days, The Wichita Eagle reported that Fox left under pressure. The board of deacons had told him that his activism was getting in the way of the Gospel. “It just wasn’t pertinent,” Associate Pastor Gayle Tenbrook later told me.

Fox, who is 47, said he saw some impatient shuffling in the pews, but he was stunned that the church’s lay leaders had turned on him. “They said they were tired of hearing about abortion 52 weeks a year, hearing about all this political stuff!” he told me on a recent Sunday afternoon. “And these were deacons of the church!”

These days, Fox has taken his fire and brimstone in search of a new pulpit. He rented space at the Johnny Western Theater at the Wild West World amusement park until it folded. Now he preaches at a Best Western hotel. “I don’t mind telling you that I paid a price for the political stands I took,” Fox said. “The pendulum in the Christian world has swung back to the moderate point of view. The real battle now is among evangelicals.”

Fox is not the only conservative Christian to feel the heat of those battles, even in — of all places — Wichita. Within three months of his departure, the two other most influential conservative Christian pastors in the city had left their pulpits as well. And in the silence left by their voices, a new generation of pastors distinctly suspicious of the Republican Party — some as likely to lean left as right — is beginning to speak up.

It's a long piece but the gist is the hard right fringers are losing their influence. Social moderates and the younger generation are tired of the relentless pitch for government nannyism over private lives and are looking for a return to true Christianity with its stress on spreading the doctrine through good works rather than government edicts.

It couldn't have come at a better time.

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Excess Bloggage - Drugs and Money edition

By Libby

Always blogging. At the Newshoggers:

Don't Blame Venezuela for the drug war failures.

The drug war takes another victim.

Follow the money.

A solution on taxes and the corporatocracy.

Fringers aim for Soros, shoot their own foot.

And at the Detroit News, the index feature seems to be broken so here's the latest by link.

Fake FEMA press conferences.

Lies and more lies of the media.

Big spender Bush and GOP fiscal irresponsibility.

And the imbecility of hatemonger Glenn Beck.

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Shame on the air

by Capt. Fogg

George Carlin's 7 prohibited words and Janet Jacksons breasts may elicit huge fines from the FCC, but hate, racism and bigotry thrive and proliferate on the radio and neither the handful of corporations that decide what we will know about nor the FCC seem to have any interest in doing a damned thing about it. Christian Family Values seem to have more to do with human bodies and human waste than with actual evil, such as hatred or bigotry or calls to violence based upon them.

I don't think you'll be hearing about any massive fines for the following, nor any action by the small group of corporations who pay Bob Newman or Pat Robertson or Neal Boortz or James Edwards. Tune in to this:

"I want every Muslim immigrant to America. . . to be required by law to wear a GPS tracking bracelet at all times" -- Bob Newman, from the Gunny Bob Show, May 8th 2007 on Denver's Newsradio 850 KOA.

"Give 'em all a little nuclear waste and let 'em take it on down to Mexico. . . Tell 'em it's a tortilla warmer." -- Neal Boortz, on the Neal Boortz show, June 21st, 2007, Cox Radio Syndication.

" Islam is not a religion. It's a worldwide political movement meant [sic] on domination of the world." -- Pat Robertson, June 12th on Christian Broadcasting Network's "The 700 Club"

Back on May17th, James Edwards, host of "The Political Cesspool" told us the Jim Crow, pre-civil rights era was
"Back when America had a strong moral compass. You had cultural and racial integrity in those days. . . What's been taken from us, we can take back."
Edwards is an open admirer of former Klan leader and neo-Nazi David Duke who often appears on the show. It's sponsors include the CCC, or Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist group and The Institute for Historical Review which produces fake history concerning the WW II extermination of Jews and Gypsies. His show appears on WRLM in Memphis which bills itself as a "Christian news" station.

Cox owns 80 AM and FM stations and tells prospective employees that high ethical standards are required. Evidently, the paleoconservative political action group known as the FCC agrees.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

State Dept institutes draft

By Libby

Some may think that's too strong a word for this new policy for the diplomatic corps but if you don't have the right to refuse a post, then I don't know what else you call it but an involuntary draft. Up to fifty people may be forced to take postings to the new Baghdad Embassy.

It reminds me of the old Russian jokes about being sent to Siberia. The new joke will be about being banished to Baghdad.

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Media Bytes - Friends and Fringenuttians edition

By Libby

First the fringenuttia:

Shakes found the ultimate in tasteless fringenut remarks.

Here's Tom Tomorrow today with the comics version of the Fringenuttian's mob ethic.

On to friends:

Shamanic is finally revealed in her own glorious self on the standup circuit. Can't wait until she downloads more of these.

Via Avedon here's a timely couple of YouTubes asking the ultimate question on corporate personhood which I personally consider to be the root of all evil in the Corporatocracy.

And via the hostess with the mostest, Shakes has the latest in Dodd speak. He's looking better all the time.

And John Cole doesn't really count as a friend yet but I do love his stuff since he gave up on the GOP. He had a near brush with fame, except that Sully took the credit, or rather failed to give him the credit where credit was due. John is being gracious about it and I agree it's not worth getting in a snit over but I think it would have been nice if Sully had given Cole a tiny little on-air mention.

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Waxing Nostaligic - Song Wars edition

By Libby

You know I really try to understand popular music today but I just don't get the attraction. I found this New Pornographers video today at Eschaton, (no link he doesn't need the traffic), and I liked the lyrics but the band has no musicality. This is the new hot Canadian band? The great sensation? I don't know, I listen to these groups and they play the same four chords over and over. You watch them play and it looks like group masturbation to me. This song in particular is so derivative. I mean listen to it and tell me that's not just a slight rearrangement of that Beatles song. I forget how it goes exactly but it's something like: Fallin', yes I am fallin' and you keep callin', me back again.

Which is not to say I think all contemporary groups are so unoriginal. Take my friend Chris Collingwood's band. They at least don't totally strum and I guess I'm biased, because I adore Chris and his lovely wife, but I think they are way better than that new Canadian sensation.

Fountains of Wayne - Someone To Love (hi)

Add to My Profile | More Videos
This is their slick new vid. More representative of Chris's work as I remember it is this one.


But this is still his more commercial stuff. When I met him, I had no idea he was in a famous band. Nobody was more surprised than me to see him at the Grammys. I thought he was just a Gay Potato. I wish they had some videos of the fabulous shows they used to do at Bar 19. That was a great band.

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Not worth another soldier's life

By Libby

John Cole has already done the ultimate snark on this story, so I'll just give you the straight up version. The WaPo posts a story on Scott Beauchamp's unit in Iraq. Scott, if you haven't been following the lows and lowers of Fringetopia has been relentlessly gangbanged by the fringenuts for months now for telling an unattractive tale of life on the front lines of the occupation. Funny, it seems his fellow soldiers are finding the occupation more offensive than Beauchamp's minor piece in a low circulation magazine.

I'd urge you to read the whole thing, it's an eyeopener, but here's a few choice quotes that sum up the harsh reality of our ongoing 'liberation' of the Iraqis.

When we first got here, all the shops were open. There were women and children walking out on the street," Alarcon said this week. "The women were in Western clothing. It was our favorite street to go down because of all the hot chicks."

That was 14 long months ago, when the soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, arrived in southwestern Baghdad. It was before their partners in the Iraqi National Police became their enemies and before Shiite militiamen, aligned with the police, attempted to exterminate a neighborhood of middle-class Sunni families. [...]

They go on to describe the present day in which town has become a bombed out wasteland.

Asked if the American endeavor here was worth their sacrifice -- 20 soldiers from the battalion have been killed in Baghdad -- Alarcon said no: "I don't think this place is worth another soldier's life." [...]

"It's just a slow, somewhat government-supported sectarian cleansing," said Maj. Eric Timmerman, the battalion's operations officer.

The focus of the battalion's efforts in Sadiyah was to develop the Iraqi security forces into an organized, fair and proficient force -- but the American soldiers soon realized this goal was unattainable. The sectarian warfare in Sadiyah was helped along by the Wolf Brigade, a predominantly Shiite unit of the Iraqi National Police that tolerated, and at times encouraged, Mahdi Army attacks against Sunnis, according to U.S. soldiers and residents. The soldiers endured repeated bombings of their convoys within view of police checkpoints. During their time here, they have arrested 70 members of the national police for collaboration in such attacks and other crimes. [...]

"This is a dangerous place," said Capt. Lee Showman, 28, a senior officer in the battalion. "People are killed here every day, and you don't hear about it. People are kidnapped here every day, and you don't hear about it." [...]

The American people don't fully realize what's going on, said Staff Sgt. Richard McClary, 27, a section leader from Buffalo.

"They just know back there what the higher-ups here tell them. But the higher-ups don't go anywhere, and actually they only go to the safe places, places with a little bit of gunfire," he said. "They don't ever [expletive] see what we see on the ground."

That's always been my beef with the rosy scenarios that come not just from the big brass but also from many of the officer class milbloggers. It's easy to be optimistic when you're sitting in some airconditioned office at the HQ and conducting press tours. The grunts on IED patrol every day, whom Rush Limbaugh would call phony soldiers, tell a whole different story and I believe them over some spinmeister officer who is protecting his career advancement any day of the week.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Excess Hoggage - Big Talk edition

By Libby

The blog moves so fast at Newshoggers that I can hardly keep up with it myself. In case you missed my brief appearances...

Questions and Answers part one.

Questions and Answers part two.

Medicare Plus fraud. Only a problem if Soros does it.

I bitch out the fringers on Beauchamp. It's so time for the fringer blog mob to let that one go.

Incumbents and earmarks are the problem.

Steny Hoyer talks sense. I like the talk but I don't know that we can trust him to walk it.

And congratulations to the winners of the fringenut fundies ten most dangerous list. I'm a little insulted that The Impolitic didn't make the top ten. We're just as dangerous as any of those guys.

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GOP does corruption best

By Libby

Earmarks are one of the big problems in our government. As I said here, they're little more than an incumbency protection racquet. The Congressman brings the bacon home to his district and the people will vote for him for bringing in the dough. This happens on both sides of the fence and I don't think either party can be excused for using our tax dollars simply to protect their seats, but the current trend among the right wing apologists to blame it all on the Democrats is misguided and deceitful. The trading of earmarks among the incumbents is as old as politics and both sides are equally guilty.

In fact, when it comes to padding the bureaucracy and bleeding the coffers for political payola, nobody does blatant corruption like the GOP. Take this situation in Philly for example.

[A] Daily News report that the Parking Authority payroll had doubled since Republicans took over six years ago, in a political coup engineered by House Republican leader John Perzel.

At least 20 Parking Authority employees are now drawing six-figure salaries, led by Vincent J. Fenerty Jr., a longtime Republican ward leader who makes $194,500 as the authority's executive director.

That's bigger than anyone on the city payroll. It's $50,000 more than Mayor Street makes and $30,000 higher than Rendell's salary.

Even worse, the Authority's profits are supposed to be used to fund the schools but they have fallen ten of millions short on the expected revenues. You can't blame that kind of failure on the government. The system is set up to deliver the money and services just fine. It's the crony corruption that's gumming up the works.

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Planned incompetence

By Libby

This comes from Fox News, so take it with a grain of salt, but word has it we had Osama bin Laden in our sights two months ago and let him get away. According to this new columnist, we had his position fixed by satelite. We had good intelligence that he was on the road near the Pakistan border in a jeep and we had a crack team on the ground and aircraft ready to take him out but they dithered around at the White House end for so long that he got away.

The cynical view might be that Bush doesn't really want to get him. He is much more useful as on ongoing threat than he would be as dead man. After all, they used Saddam and then Zarqawi as the justification to continue the Iraq occupation for a really long time but getting them didn't change a thing on the ground and they lost their boogeymen. It becomes harder to justify their so-called war and impossible to excuse the failures if the leaders are all taken out.

Let's face it -- Bush doesn't want to end the occupation and Osama is worth more towards continuing it alive, than he is dead.

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Why are deaths down in Iraq?

By Libby

We lost the internet here last night. It was off until about 5:00pm today. It was unnerving to be cut off from the news for so long. Even worse, I was stuck inside the McPartment on a rainy day. I was reduced to doing housework and writing posts about yesterday's links I didn't get to, from memory...

So nobody is talking about Iraq much these days. It barely makes the news except for the ocassional White House press release about how the surge is working -- honest. And while the Pentagon's numbers on violence are more than a little suspect, the good news is that troop fatalities are truly down. Thank God for that but that doesn't really make much sense since we have more troops there than ever and they've been conducting a lot of ground operations. Fred Kaplan at Slate examines the data to explain how this could happen and it's really not that encouraging.

First of all, although we have been in a lull in the last couple of months, 2007 has already surpassed the troop fatalities of 2006 and is on track to surpass the tally for 2004-5. We're still losing our soldiers, just not for a last few weeks. A closer look at the tactics reveals that the reason is very likely that we have jumped up the number of air strikes this year. From January to September, they flew 996 strikes which is more than the previous three years combined.

The obvious downside to this is when you take out a whole apartment building to get one bad guy, many innocent civilians die. There's simply no way to target one individual from the air in an urban setting. This is a problem when success hinges on winning the hearts and minds of the people. The more airstrikes they conduct, the more families of the innocent victims will be likely to join the insurgencies.

Considering that the fall in troop fatalies can be directly tied to the increase in the air strikes, it looks like more tactics geared for political advantage at home that will sabotage the mission to bring stability to Iraq. I mean it's great that it's protecting the soldiers but it's blowing the whole purpose of the operation. That gives Bush what he wants, a reason to run out the clock, but it doesn't do a thing for our national security or the well being of the Iraqi people we're supposed to be protecting, not killing ourselves. Pure madness.

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Irish need not apply

by Capt Fogg

Although most of the polemics I hear concerning immigrants in the US stress the lazy, dirty, illiterate, prone to crime and too dumb to learn English stereotype, the only real difference between the hoard of immigrants that arrived in the US in the 19th and early 20th century and those now here has been a change in the law. All those accusations were leveled against the Irish, the Germans, Italians, Poles and others, but there was really no law keeping them out. The truth is that millions congregated in dirty, disease and crime ridden slums where their native languages were spoken and assimilation for the most part was only achieved by their children and grandchildren, often to the great benefit of the nation.

The public case, of course, is that they're breaking the law and lawbreakers are not to be tolerated, but the real issue is fear and always has been fear. We really don't want anything but "real" Americans as Archie Bunker used to call the descendants of previous generations of immigrants. We don't want them even if they've lived here all their lives; gone to school, learned English as their native tongue and don't remember the "old country."

That's fully illustrated by the failure of the whimsically named Dream Act ( Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) in the Senate yesterday.
"I do not believe we should reward illegal behavior,"
sneered Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who led the fight to kill the measure and whose ancestors without a doubt suffered humiliating treatment and were thought of as subhuman and infectious in this land of dreams. Of course, many of the kids who would have benefited (along with the country, in my opinion) from this act only became aware of their legal status as teens and as minors transported by their parents, really didn't break any laws and we really wouldn't be rewarding them.

In fact to be allowed to aspire to citizenship, the applicant would be given only provisional status until he had completed high school and at least two years of college or military service. That's more than many native born quasi-literates will ever achieve. Not enough for Mitch, though. Punishment for these kids, who never knew another country but the US, must be swift, unreasonable and everlasting and I wish no less for Mitch himself.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Who supports the troops

By Libby

Let's ask a soldier who is fighting there. G'Kar, the new milblogger at Obsidian Wings has this to say.

I have no use for the support of people who uncritically assume that, since we're at war, it's their duty to support it in order to help the troops. History is replete with examples of troops getting the shaft during wartime, and the only way to protect them against that is through critical thought. You can oppose the war without opposing the troops; people do that every day. I would much prefer the support of people who have examined the war, found it wanting, and seek to bring me home than those who will continue mindlessly beating the war drum regardless of the circumstances on the ground. (Please note that my own position on the war remains one of principled uncertainty.)

The sooner people realize that critical thinking is an asset rather than a liability, the better off we will all be.

I think that nails it. Instead of pointless sniping at opponents of the occupation, the pro-administration defense team should be taking a hard look at just what they're advocating. Supporting ill-advised policies is not the same as the supporting the men and women who are forced to follow them.

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30 second activism: Honor the Hold

By Libby

I just received an email from Glenn Greenwald, Jane Hamsher and Matt Stoller asking for signatures on a letter to be delivered to Harry Reid requesting that he honor Chris Dodd's hold on the FISA bill containing retroactive immunity for the lawbreaking telecoms who sold out our privacy rights. You can sign on here.

I've been talking a bit about point and click activism in the last couple of days. I know a lot of people think these things have no effect and have stopped participating, or feel inundated by the sheer number of requests and feel like they don't have the time to do everything. All I can say is perserving accountability and the rule of law goes to the core of what defines our country. It takes so little effort to add your name and this one is important. Please take the thirty seconds to sign on.

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Black pots, black kettles

by Capt. Fogg

The state's license plates may claim that Oklahoma is OK, but that's a matter of opinion. Oklahoma Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council recently gave out 149 copies of the Koran or Qur'an if you prefer, to the 149 Senators and Representatives of this state that includes perhaps 50,000 citizens who identify themselves as Muslims. Not long ago a Baptist group sent them all Christian Bibles.

Representative Rex Duncan, a Republican of course, isn't happy with that and he, along with more than a dozen of his cultured associates, will be returning the books because, as he says:
"Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology."
I have to wonder if he will be returning his Bible as well, because if he gets around to reading it in its entirety he will doubtless notice the many instances wherein the followers of that book's traditions are exhorted to do exactly that.

Of course the standard Christian excuse is that no one is really innocent, but if one makes that case, one loses the logical consistency needed to admonish the Muslims for their alleged blood lust. Indeed the traditional New Testament interpretation of the Gospels has all Jews guilty of killing Jesus. How can they be deemed innocent victims?

One has also to question the Republican support for the killing of countless innocent Iraqis in the name of Bush's "plan B" ideology which is the need to spread Democracy amongst the heathen. It's a bit disingenuous to talk about the slaughter of the innocents when the body count stands at 20 or 30 to one in favor of the Bible worshippers.

One has to wonder what would happen if someone sent them the Sutras.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My favorite candidate

By Libby

If Colbert goes national I would be endorsing him for sure. It's a one state race right now but who knows? Today's it's a stunt sort of, but his poll numbers have already gone into double digits. I mean, he's ahead of serious candidates.

In fact, he's looking so good that the FEC is seriously looking at his campaign. There's a little problem with his Doritos connection. It appears there's a gray area around whether he can promote his candidacy on his show.

But if the FEC cracks on Colbert for that, then I want to know what they're going to do about the Law and Order reruns. I still see them all the time on television and half of Fred's supporters believe he really is the character he plays on TV.

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The second worst candidate for President

By Libby

The honor really has to go to Fred Thompson for these delicious quotes. Speaking of the recent high profile defections from his team.

"You know, the campaign can address that. I can't really address who's doing — and who was doing — exactly what at every level of this campaign," Thompson said after speaking to about 300 people at a restaurant in South Carolina. "They're the ones who know what's going on on a daily basis. ... I'll let the experts speak on that."

Yep, because there is nothing less important to a candidate than staying on top of what's going on with the chief staff of his campaign. Hope he brings that work ethic to the White House.

And then there's this little gem when asked about the controversy over the primary schedules and the possible barring of delegates.
"It's hard to figure out, so I don't try to," Thompson said. "There's really not much a candidate can do about that. You hate to see anybody lose their delegates. I hope that they're able to work it out."

Really. Who needs delegates to win anyway? Astounding. The guy can't be bothered to follow major developments in the structure of the race but he's going to solve the quagmire in the Middle East? I'm just filled with confidence in his razor sharp focus.

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Papers please

By Libby
Updated below

I just posted on this at Newshoggers, but it's disturbing enough that I want to rewrite it to post it here. Via John Cole's comment section, more proof of the impending police state.

The Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security are quietly pushing for a set of crazy new rules. All travellers in the U.S. will be required to get government-issued credentials and official clearance before every flight, both within the United States as well as internationally.

And Monday we received a new political action alert from Edward Hasbrouk, The Practical Nomad blogger who's been fighting the plan (and who testified about it at a TSA hearing). "The international Advance Passenger Information System rules were published, as 'final' effective February 19,2008, with no further opportunity for public comment even on the changes from the original proposal."

That's domestic flights too. How much of a stretch is it really from this, to imagine having to surrender your papers to cross the state line in your car? Or even the city limits?

And then there's this expansion of the terrorist watch list. It has 755,000 names on it right now and it's growing by 200,000 a year. Experts say it's inconceivable that there could be that many terrorists. Judging from the number of academians and other respectable critics of the administration who have been denied entry to the country based on that list, I'd say they were right.

Update: Thanks to Newshogger reader Kat for pointing us to this new info. The hearing period on the rules has been extended by 30 day to November 21, 2007. More commentary and additional links here.

[Thanks to The Blog Report for linking in.]

[cross-posted to The Reaction]

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Who not vote for

By Libby

I don't know about you but figuring out who to support in 08 is rather daunting. It's not like I'm horrified about the Democratic side, but neither am I wholeheartedly enthused by any of the candidates. Which isn't to say Dodd hasn't impressed the hell of me this week, but I'm so jaded right now, I'm almost afraid to believe he's for real and he's a long shot anyway.

Much simpler is figuring out who not to support and Kevin Drum gets the quote of the day on this one.

Choosing the best presidential candidate among the 2008 contenders is a tough job. Picking the worst is easy. Rudy Giuliani is the guy you'd get if you put George Bush and Dick Cheney into a wine press and squeezed out their pure combined essence: unbounded arrogance and self-righteousness, a chip on his shoulder the size of a redwood, a studied contempt for anybody's opinion but his own, a vindictive streak a mile wide, and a devotion to secrecy and executive power unmatched in presidential history. He is a disaster waiting to happen.

Really. All of the GOP contenders would be horrible presidents but Rudy is truly moral and political corruption personified. He embodies every failing of George Bush times ten. If Bush and Cheney don't manage to launch Armangeddon before they leave office, then you can be sure it wouldn't take Rudy two months in his arrogance, to pull the trigger.

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Excess Hoggage - Who you gonna call edition

By Libby

I did all my blogging at Newshoggers yesterday and this morning.

My thoughts on the Stark apology. I'm disgusted with how the Democrats handled this.

The netroots announced a hot blog action yesterday and Hillary and Obama responded almost immediately.

But their weasely rhetoric isn't going to thwart the project. The netroots launched the action this morning and it's a good one. Get involved. It only takes 30 seconds out of your day.

I updated my cranky old hippie rant a couple of times since I posted the link last night and the discussion in comments is quite interesting. Guess I'm not the only old hippie out there.

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Dwell time

by Capt. Fogg

They call it dwell time; the amount of time at home between military tours and our troops aren't getting nearly enough of it. That's what an Army Captain told Joint Chief Chairman, Admiral Mike Mullen at his recent stop at Fort Sill, OK.

“That year we’re back, it’s just not good enough.”
Mullen has been hearing a lot of that sentiment both in the US and at stops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“She has put her whole life, her whole career, and everything, on hold for me. ... And now I have to say, honey, I just got back, but we’re moving. And when we get there, I’m gonna leave again" Said a Captain of his wife's efforts to return to college. "I can do that. That’s what I do,” the captain said. “But when it comes to hurting my family, sir, it’s repulsive.”

“Family considerations don’t play a part in the assignment process.” That's what another officer was told and that's what made him decide to leave the service.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, some coddled political warriors like Mel Martinez (R) FL have been telling us that what these men and women who have been fighting for 5 years want is disgraceful to the troops and Commander Guy, who tells us so often that we have to give them everything they need, save adequate equipment, pay, medical benefits and time off, isn't interested in hearing "phony soldier" talk like that.

Mullen himself says: “I am not willing to see the United States military return to the kind of challenges that we had when I was young. We’ve got to figure out a way to make sure that family considerations are very much in play."
Just the kind of America-hating talk you'd expect from a guy who thinks our troops are real people rather than painted tin soldiers.

I expect that he will soon be corrected by true Americans like Rush who would most assuredly be over there himself save for his anal problem.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Ecuador asks for fair trade bases

By Libby

This is just brilliant. Ecuador's president has vowed to get US military out of his country and he's come up with a clever ploy to justify it.

Ecuador's leftist President Rafael Correa said Washington must let him open a military base in Miami if the United States wants to keep using an air base on Ecuador's Pacific coast.

Correa has refused to renew Washington's lease on the Manta air base, set to expire in 2009. U.S. officials say it is vital for counter-narcotics surveillance operations on Pacific drug-running routes.

"We'll renew the base on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami -- an Ecuadorean base," Correa said in an interview during a trip to Italy.

"If there's no problem having foreign soldiers on a country's soil, surely they'll let us have an Ecuadorean base in the United States."

Hard to argue with that logic. Can't wait for the White House response.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Copping a buzz

By Libby

Well this is pretty cool. Memorandum unveiled a new feature today, the Memeorandum Leaderboard.

The ascent of blogs and other independent publishers has expanded and revitalized political dialogue in the United Status. While the "mainstream" media remains the primary source of factural reporting, they no longer own the agenda. It follows then that tapping a diversity of media sites is essential to produce memeorandum's autosummaries of the web's most buzzed-about political items.

The Newshoggers made the board at number 89 beating out fringer favs Jules Crittenden and Rush Limbaugh. I don't any credit myself. I think it goes to my extraordinary colleagues but how very cool for a little blog like ours to make the 'tipping point' list.

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We all want to change the world

By Libby

I went to the doctor again this morning. I don't what it is about medical appointments that exhausts me so, but I've done nothing else this afternoon, but write this one post at Newshoggers about the 60s versus today's youth that no one will probably read.

Hard to believe it took me an hour to write it. I didn't say that much but I spent a really long time thinking about how it felt to be young and believe you could really change the world. I'm sorry to see that today's kids don't believe they can.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Let me give you something to dream about

By Libby

As I've told you before, most of my small album collection consists mostly of dead people, defunct bands and obscure singer songwriters but there are a few slightly more mainstream musicians who are still alive that I listen to and whose songs bring comfort to a troubled mind. William Topley is one of them. Unfortunately he doesn't seem to have much of a YouTube presence. I could only find a cover of my favorite song.




But I think this is really him in this vid that can't be embedded but I'm not sure. He looks so young here and I didn't discover him until he was older. But it is another song I really like, Delta Rain. My favorite album is this one though. If you like his stuff, that's the one I'd recommend. Perfect album to brood to.

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Fear of flying

By Libby

Irony too bitter to swallow. This adminstration has plied fear of terrorism 24/7 for over six years but consistently buries the reports of the dangers that really threaten us, from global warming to air safety.

Anxious to avoid upsetting air travelers, NASA is withholding results from an unprecedented national survey of pilots that found safety problems like near collisions and runway interference occur far more frequently than the government previously recognized.

NASA gathered the information under an $8.5 million safety project, through telephone interviews with roughly 24,000 commercial and general aviation pilots over nearly four years. Since ending the interviews at the beginning of 2005 and shutting down the project completely more than one year ago, the space agency has refused to divulge the results publicly.

Just last week, NASA ordered the contractor that conducted the survey to purge all related data from its computers. (emphasis added)

Purge a taxpayer funded study? As my friend Harry McColgan would say, "Are you shitting me?" They've got us standing barefoot in impossible lines waiting to be screened. They won't let us bring our shampoo or a bottle of water on the plane to prevent a terrorist attack but the we're in greater danger from normal airspace operations and unscreened cargo sitting underneath us and they don't want us to know.

It astounds me that Bush still has a 24% rating. I can't believe I know and like otherwise intelligent people who continue to support his failed policies and excuse his excesses. What's it going to take to convince them we're in more danger from our own government than we are from terrorism?

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Logo-gistics

By Libby


What do think this is? The emblem for a new kid's toy? Some kind of promotion for a new spoof movie? Maybe a new public safety sign -- no guns allowed? Nope and it's not a joke.

It's really the CIA's Terrorist Buster Logo.

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Can't. Stop. Living like a refugee

By Libby

Reading Riverbend often makes me cry a little for what we all have lost in the last six years.

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Jesus endorses Dodd

By Libby

Not many bloggers are endorsing candidates but Jesus General has broken the ice with his benediction on Dodd's campaign and he reminds me that Dodd also has a good proposal in the legislative hopper that is being ignored by his fellow Democrats.

His Restoring the Constitution Act will restore habeas corpus and end the use of torture and secret prisons. And unlike many of his caucusmates, he's actively fighting the FISA domestic spying act. He is the only candidate actively working to restore the basic rights stolen from us by the fear-mongering proto-fascists who seized control of our country in 2000. Obama and Clinton seem to have bought into the idea at only "pussies" care about the Bill of Rights. Dodd cares more about righting the wrongs than worrying about Frank Luntz's latest focus group.

I'm not ready to make any endorsements myself yet but I have to admit Dodd is looking better to me all the time. Of all the dark horse candidates that could thunder in on the last lap to win the race, it seems to me he has the best chance, even if it's only a slim one. In any event, if Hillary really is inevitable, Dodd presents an opportunity for a meaningful protest vote.

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72 candles

By Libby

Just taking a moment to wish my dear friend Jules Siegel a very happy birthday and many, many happy returns. Jules is one of the most amazing and creative men I've ever known and the only writer I've ever met who claims not to have a brain. That's probably the only thing he's ever told me that I didn't believe.

Pictures of his handsome self and his lovely family at the link.

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Unadulterated gossip

By Libby

While I'm working on wrapping my head around more serious matters, here's a couple of items that are completely meaningless to the political debate, but hey, who doesn't secretly love a little gossip?

Trust fund billionaire and patron saint of the wrong-wing fringe, Richard Mellon Scaife is involved in a bitter divorce. All, well at least some, of the juicier gory details are at the link including Scaife trysts at a sleazy $40 a night motel with part time hooker Tammy Sue Vasco. You have to wonder why a billionaire would choose a venue like that. I mean surely he could afford a $100 Holiday Express and still maintain his anonymity.

Meanwhile, you can't marry Pamela Anderson six times in a row and not suffer some loss of sanity, not that he probably had much to begin with, but Kid Rock was arrested in Atlanta for a Waffle House brawl.

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Murdoch's Ministry of Information

by Capt Fogg

What if one company owned the daily newspapers, the weekly “alternative” newspaper, the city magazine, suburban publications, the eight largest radio stations, the dominant broadcast and cable television stations, popular internet news and calendar sites, billboards and concert halls in your city -- in your country, asks John Nichols, blogger at The Nation? Is there anyone but Rupert Murdoch who thinks the public interest is served or rational democracy enabled by allowing such a thing to happen?

Yes, there is; he's FCC Chairman and Smirkmeister Kevin Martin, a product of an administration that would like to hand everything from the airwaves to the air itself over to the highest bidder, if not the highest contributor. The New York Times tells us the plan is for sweeping deregulation that would finally put to rest the idea that an information monopoly is a bad thing and that the broadcast spectrum is a natural resource, access to which requires an obligation for public service. Let the biggest dog have the only bark in town as long as they support the Republican Corporatocracy!

There seem to be no plans for the customary public hearings and we may be handed the dismemberment of yet another important public protection by December of this year. Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation is already the largest media empire in the world. It's only the beginning.

Under the Bush administration, the function of the venerable agency has become to apportion public resources amongst media moguls without any regard for public interest. They have, as a matter of policy, routinely refused to protect licensed spectrum users against encroachments from large corporations and has been accused by the GAO of collaborating with corporate lobbyists; using secret meetings to pass them the information they need to avoid congressional actions and others have accused them not only of stifling entrepreneurship but of stifling minority ownership of radio broadcast licenses.

The idea of a free and open internet where bloggers can at least offer opposing viewpoints and cover items deemed unworthy by Murdoch or Clear Channel may soon die a similar death. Can anything resembling democracy fare any better?

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Gonzo's troubles are not far away

By Libby

In today's news, we get a clue on why Gonzo lawyered up the minute he walked out of the White House. It appears the ongoing investigations into the attorney purge which has been going on for eons now are finally rumored to be near bearing some fruit and good ole Al just might be indicted for lying to Congress. Of course, the operative word is might and even if he is indicted and convicted, one assumes he'll pull a Scooter Libby and fall on his sword only to be pardoned by Bush as he skulks out of office -- assuming he intends to leave.

Still, it would be good to see Gonzo have to sweat it out through trial. A tiny modicum of justice would be better than none at all.

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Waxing nostalgic - Psychedelia edition

By Libby

Well, Atrios posted this song from a band called The 1900s who bill themselves as a psychedelic band. As young people's music go, it's a pretty good song. Really nice harmony on the vocals but the lyrics aren't that deep and the band doesn't have that much musicality. Not unpleasant at all mind you, but psychedelic? I would call it more like folky trance.

This is psychedelic.



So sue me. I think the old stuff is better.

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Media Bytes - Long way home edition

By Libby

I'm moving slow today intrepid readers. I decided to start dealing with the 4000 links I have saved on this computer in every conceivable, and inconceivable, place and stayed up half the night getting lost in the past. So to amuse you while I think of something real to say, here's some links to while away the Sunday ennui.

In case you missed the program as I did, the PBS special Cheney's Law is available here on line. [via]

An usually serious Stephen Colbert takes on Tim Russert at Meet the Press and impossibly Russert makes himself look even stupider than usual with his lame attempt at snark.

I spent about an hour last night catching up on all the Doonesburys I've missed in the last year or so, by backing up through the archives. Amazingly, it doesn't really ruin the story line to know the ending first. I thought this strip on the GOP and the deficit was especially timely.

And then there were webcams. I collect links to live webcam sites or you may or may not have noticed on my sidebar. I discovered a file full of some I saved, so here's a few of the better ones.

Things are looking rather quiet at Christiansted Harbor in tropical St. Croix.

Of course, if you're looking at this during the daylight hours in the US, it's nightime right now in Hamburg, Germany but it's a cityscape so there's usually something going on in the square.

The same thing is true at this one in Prudnik, Poland.

The Tokyo Diner on the other hand, is busy right now so I guess it's more or less daytime there. I'm not very good with timezones.

If you prefer the US for voyeurism, this cam at The Pink Pony on the Alabama Gulf coast has a controllable view. You can get some close up shots of the beachgoers.

And finally, what happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but that doesn't mean that nobody is watching. Webcam is on 24/7 in a city that never sleeps.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Media bytes - Bright lights, big city edition

By Libby

Mark Fiore has a new drug for the Democratic Party.

As you can see in the graphic, Jay Rockefeller can afford to buy some, that is unless his telco bribes don't cover medical expenses.

I hope this current events quiz is still alive. It's a couple days old but it was a pretty good one and I got 100%. I usually miss the pop culture question but it was historical so I got it.

Speaking of current events, I'm not sure Rudy is going to take the prize but neither am I sure he won't, so this is a good indicator of what to expect out of his foreign policy if he gets the nod. TPMtv: Meet the Four Horsemen of Rudy's Apocalypse. As an added bonus you get to see what Josh Marshall looks like. He's really quite handsome.

Not so good looking however, is the latest underreported development in Iraq. In a message delivered directly to Dick Cheney, an Iraqi official gave a ‘big fat no’ to permanent bases in Iraq. Video at the link, but here's what he said.
The people of Iraq, the parliament, the council of representatives and the government of Iraq, they all say no, big fat no, N-O for the bases in Iraq. No military bases for Iraq because we believe that is in direct encroachment to our soveriegnty, and we don’t need it.

And finally, for those dear readers with ties to the Motor City, I stumbled across this link via this guy. You might like it. You know you're an old Detroiter if....

I of course am not an old Detroiter, but I liked the list. It was interesting to see the commonality between the big city and where I grew up. Some of it is specific to Detroit, but everybody had Good Humor trucks and milkmen and I remember Robert Hall. My favorite is the giant tire though. I didn't have that so I may have to go to Detroit someday, just to see it.

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Let's medal and not meddle

by Capt. Fogg

"Can we really send our athletes to compete in a country that tortures its own citizens merely for expressing political thoughts? That has enabled the Darfur genocide by supplying weapons to Sudan?"
asks an editorial in The New Republic. (10/22/07) The country in question is of course, China, which soon will host the 2008 Olympic Games. It almost makes one nostalgic for a time when the US had enough moral standing to be able to ask that kind of question without risk of seismic damage caused by worldwide jaw dropping.

Yes, as the article points out, political protest is often treated brutally in China. China often supports brutal dictatorships. Those who blow whistles and expose or protest corruption or in one case, started a petition against the Beijing games, are treated brutally; sent to prisons where prisoners have to carry out humiliating tasks and are forced to endure uncomfortable positions. It's called "subverting State Power" and sadly, the US has any number of proponents for the same kind of thing. You can read about it every day in letters to editors, hear it expressed in barber shops and bars and hear it on Fox News. Our human rights are eroding along with the polar ice caps and our record of support for barbaric regimes is well known.

Of course it's worse in China, but "enhanced" interrogation, disappearances, denial of council, denial of Habeas Corpus, domestic surveillance and extended "detention" of people the government is suspicious of are now firmly identified with the US in the mind of the world. Valerie Plame wasn't chained to an iron cot for embarrassing the Bush administration, but official power was used to punish her for that embarrassment and it wasn't an isolated case.

The New Republic would have us use the Olympics for it's primary value; a way for nations to insult and humiliate each other while pretending to be resurrecting an ancient Greek body worship cult. They're advocating more than athletic victory however; their proposal is for our athletes deliberately to be insulting toward their host and overtly support the subversion of China's government.
"Chinese-language banners unfurled by athletes at the opening ceremonies that call for the government to permit free speech, t-shirts slipped on during medal ceremonies that carry messages of solidarity with Chinese dissidents--these gestures could reach tens of thousands of spectators and, through word of mouth, many more."

Right -- and allow the long litany of American offenses: the wars of aggression, the torture, the kidnappings, the destruction of a country that had not attacked us and slaughter of it's citizens to be broadcast throughout the world to a chorus of laughter. Let's allow our athletes to be booed, jeered and shunned. It doesn't matter that we can rationalize our having become the ogre we are because the world does not believe in us any longer even when we are right. Yes, the Olympic games have always been a theater of nationalism and propaganda, but this time perhaps it's better simply to treat it as an athletic event lest we have our noses rubbed in our own mess.



Cross posted from Human Voices

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Excess bloggage - Miss Manners edition

By Libby

I'm dealing with this perpetual funk in the usual manner -- I'm blogging through it. So while I pull myself together to post something new here, you might want to amuse yourselves at my other blogs.

I finally got around to addressing the Limbaugh letter. I really don't understand why the fringers are choosing to make red meat of this one. It's beginning to stink like spoiled beef.

This panty protest may strike some as a bit ill-mannered but I love it. It brought back fond memories of a previous panty rebellion I was involved in years ago.

While I defend Reid against the fringe mob on the Rush thing, his underhanded tactics on the FISA bill deserve a great deal of criticism, which I provide in full measure. What he's doing to Dodd is inexcusable.

Meanwhile, over at the Detroit News, which has been redesigned so check out the new format, I have a lesson for the Dems in Dodd's courageous stand. Good behavior has been amply rewarded. Dodd has seen his donations and newsletter subscriptions explode in the 24 hours after he announced the hold. And by the way, outside of the fringers, Stark's critcisms of the GOP on SCHIP are playing very well. Public support for him in the 90 percentile of respondents to polling.

This post on how Dodd stands up for rule of law is mostly a rewrite of previous postings but I'd be interested in your opinions on this one. My readership in Detroit is mixed and comprised of many readers who don't agree with me and/or are not as politically informed as you are. I'd like to know if you think I succeeded in conveying the importance of the issue in a simple and understandable manner.

As for this post on Rush threatening a journalist, I thought it deliciously clever and I believe, as they say, it left a mark, since it rendered the dittoheads speechless.

And finally, I don't link to every post I do at Detroit, but if you ever want to catch up with my work there, you can always check the index. I really have to get a better photo taken. I took that one myself and it always make me cringe.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Will the real Mort please stand up

By Libby

Whoa. Help me please. I'm stunned. I think I just fell into an alternate universe. Mort Kondracke said this on Fox News?

You have George Bush, who promised in 2004 at the Republican National Convention that he was going to cover millions of children who were not covered by SCHIP if he was reelected? And what does he do? He proposes a bill that would result in almost a million kids losing their coverage from the level it’s at. It’s no wonder Bush’s approval ratings is in the 30’s.

Video at the link. You have to watch it to believe it. I feel like asking who is this guy and what did they do with the real Mort Kondracke?

But credit given where is credit is due. Good for him. It's nice to hear some reality-based commentary from such a relentless Bush supporter. I hope it's not just a single moment of sanity.

[cross-posted to The Reaction]

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Sleight of hand

By Libby
Updated below

I'm not sure what's up here. It's all very mysterious and a quick google search turned up a vague rumor about some untoward hanky panky between Copperfield and a possibly underage American girl -- that happened in Europe. But whatever is going on, unless he's being accused of making money illegally, or tax evasion or something, it's hard to figure out the point of this.

LOS ANGELES - FBI agents have seized nearly $2 million in cash from a Las Vegas warehouse owned by illusionist David Copperfield, local media reports said on Thursday.

The agents also took a computer hard drive and a memory chip from a digital camera system during Wednesday's late-night operation.
KLAS-TV reported that an FBI raid with 12 agents took place Wednesday at Copperfield’s warehouse. KLAS quoted a source as saying the cash was stashed in a safe and that agents took the cash.

The FBI's own particular of magic. They just make your money disappear while you're watching. Last I looked it wasn't illegal to keep your own money in cash if you want to. Maybe they widened the scope of forfeiture laws when I wasn't paying attention. Pretty soon they'll be seizing your life savings for parking tickets.

Update: Fox News, having no compunction about spilling the dirt on Copperfield's Seattle case, are saying that he's being charged with a rape of an American women while they were both in the Bahamas. I'll leave that aside until some verified facts arrive, but assuming that is true, it certainly doesn't explain why they seized his money from the safe -- which Fox by the way fails to mention at all.

I don't recall a forfeiture provision for sex crimes. Maybe I'm wrong, but there's something wrong with the system if the police can seize all your cash for any alleged crime.

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Joke or Freudian slip?

By Libby

This is a couple of days old and maybe I just missed it, but I didn't see a lot of coverage over this remark from a recent White House presser.

Reporter: Mr. President, following up on Vladimir Putin for a moment, he said recently that next year, when he has to step down according to the constitution, as the president, he may become prime minister; in effect keeping power and dashing any hopes for a genuine democratic transition there ...

Bush: I've been planning that myself.

I'm not so sure he's joking even if he pretended to be making light of it.

[hat tip Jules]

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Quick bytes - Make it stop edition

By Libby

I just can't seem to break through this funk. I've been reading for hours and posting nearly nothing. All I've managed to work up enough steam to talk about is Harry Reid. The hapless putz is trying to undercut Dodd's courageous stand on behalf of the rule of law by ignoring his hold. To his credit, Dodd intends to fight it to the end and vows to actually filibuster if necessary. Don't forget to thank Dodd for his courage.

The surge is working, for Big Oil. Price on the barrel just hit a new high in light of the turbulence in the mid-East.

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It's elementary Watson

by Capt. Fogg

"What I really meant to say was. . ." is a phrase we hear too often when there's campaigning going on, but of course politicians aren't the only ones putting their feet in their mouths. Nobel Prize winning biologist Jim Watson, co-discoverer of the double helix DNA structure, has managed to get himself quoted on various occasions as saying that women should be allowed to abort gay fetuses if a genetic marker can be discovered, and that there may be a correlation between skin color and sexual prowess.

His recent comments seem clearly to state that the intelligence of Africans is "not the same" as that of non-Africans and that while he hoped everyone was equal, "people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true."

After the predictable furor and the cancellation of a lecture, the venerable Dr. Watson seems to have become aware of the multiple gaffe and has now told the Royal Society that "I cannot understand how I could have said what I am quoted as having said." It's easy, Jim -- just open your mouth and the rest will come naturally to you.

"To all those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is somehow genetically inferior, I can only apologize unreservedly. That is not what I meant. More importantly from my point of view, there is no scientific basis for such a belief."

Well I think that drawing an inference isn't the same as hearing an unequivocal statement, but OK, that's not what you meant and I'm sure that the explanation is elementary. Just don't tell us it had anything to do with a wide stance or a piece of toilet paper on the floor. That one's been used already.

Meanwhile I'm going outside to work on my tan.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

The man who loves goats

By Libby

This just came blowing across the radar screen. I hear Mickey Kaus loves goats. I mean he really loves goats. In fact I have it on good authority from someone, who knows someone who was there, that Mr. Kaus himself wrote this ballad in honor of his beloved billys.



I understand Kaus is denying any association with goats, but you know the denial wasn't really strong enough so it's very likely true that he secretly keeps a herd of the ornery critters in a barn in Connecticut. That's the rumor I heard anyway. Take it for what it's worth.

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SCHIP battle turns acronym-onious

By Libby

Not unexpectedly, the SCHIP override failed by a heartbreaking 13 votes and the conduct of the Congresslizards that opposed it was breathtakingly slimy.

Steve King (R-IA) actually brought a sign on to the House floor that changed the acronym to "Socialized Clinton-style Hillarycare for Illegals and their Parents.” Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) refers to SCHIP as “Socialized, Cuba-style Health care for Illegals and their Parents.” For the record it stands for “State Children’s Health Insurance Program” and does not cover undocumented immigrants. Lies and juvenile taunting is new GOP "civilized bi-partisan" debate. Oh wait. That's always been their methodology.

Meanwhile, the commenters at Sadly, No are having some fun with the acronym and suggesting some alternate slogans King could have used. The snark at Balloon Juice is just as good, where John Cole is playing with his newly installed photoshop.

Me,I'm going through some personal stuff right now and am off my game. My snarkolator isn't really functional. The best I could come up with was, "Screw Compassion. Hate on Infants of Poor people." I'm sure you all can think of something more clever.

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