Friday, July 31, 2009

WaPo's Folly

You have to ask. What marketing genius woke up one day and said, "I know! Let's take two of our 'serious' columnists and make videos of them acting like total imbeciles."

There's a lot of people posting about this but WaPo's Mouthpiece Theater hit such a whole new level of epic fail today that it's worth commenting on. Millbank and Cilliza's latest episode featured really lame and tasteless jokes about beer, in honor of the beer summit of course. Everyone's focused on the Mad Bitch/Hillary bit, but having forced myself to watch it, pretty much all the "jokes" were insulting and offensive.

As Beutler says they should either fire the two of them or the owners should liquidate the paper in shame for foisting this much lameitude on the public. Really, not one episode in the whole series has been either clever or funny. This is a failed experiment in new media that makes the Island of Dr. Moreau look like a success story. WaPo's already pulled the vid from the site, but they should cancel the whole project. It sucks, and not in a good way.

If you're curious, watch the video here so you don't reward WaPo for creating this moronic mash with any traffic.

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Media Matters taking the fight to Dobbs door

I have a feeling someone at CNN marketing is going to get in trouble for this:
Media Matters, which has been attacking CNN for not reining in Lou Dobbs’ birther obsession, has now purchased air time to run a TV ad attacking “CNN’s Lou Dobbs problem” — during Dobbs’ show! [...]
Here’s the script of the spot:
TITLE: CNN’s Dobbs Problem –- 30 Sec.

Chyron: CNN Has a Lou Dobbs Problem

Voice Over: CNN’s Lou Dobbs has been promoting the false, right-wing conspiracy that President Obama hasn’t produced a valid U.S. birth certificate.

Clips: A series of short clips of Dobbs saying “birth certificate”

Voice Over: CNN President Jon Klein said Dobbs’ obsession was “legitimate.”

Clips: Another series of short clips of Dobbs saying “birth certificate”

Voice Over: It’s time for “The Most Trusted Name in News” to live up to its slogan. Let CNN know there’s nothing “legitimate” about racially charged paranoia.

Chyron: Take action at mediamatters.org
Dobbs heard about the ads and has publicly responded, calling MM the Swift Boat of the Left, which is pretty funny since the wingnut defense for Swift Boaters is usually that they never did anything wrong. Just promoting the truth, you know. More at the Media Matters homepage.

As Greg points out, whether or not CNN runs the ad, at this point, it's a story. Ready made narrative for their competitors to run. Brilliant idea.

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Creepy and Seditious

If they said things like this about George Bush in 2003, they would have been arrested. Or at least taken off the air.



Souless attention whores, raving for ratings. Beck's radio show is even worse. "They'll have to put a bullet through my forehead," he says. Repeatedly. If he was a homeless guy talking like this on the street, they would lock him in a mental institution for the criminally insane.

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Blog on the Run

Busy afternoon for me. I overslept and the family is finally coming over to see the new place here so I'll be tied up for a few hours. A few easy links to tide you over till I get back.

A hilarious imaginary transcript of the Baucus committee meeting on health care reform.

I love this stuff. Scientists discover an ancient Roman city using sophisticated aerial imagery and some clever analysis.

Via Rising Hegemon who has an example, a very cool ecard site where you can create your own messaged cards. Bookmarked this one myself.

Police have no idea why 2 Georgia cops ran a background check on Obama. I have my own theory. Can imagine the conversation in the squad car.

Might have something to with the fact that 28% of Republicans believe Obama is not a citizen, and 30% are not sure.

OpenCongress.org revamped their site. Much more user friendly. You can track the Congressional votes by bill or Congressperson here. Bookmarked this one too.

This is very cool. Done after WWII, living pictures of iconic US images formed by thousands of troops.

Milky Way over Devil's Tower.

And Nude Mona Lisa.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Some drink to remember...

I can no longer deny I've got a crush on Mark Knoller. He was one of the first people I decided to follow when I was figuring out what to do with Twitter. I almost dropped him off my follow list more than once in the beginning because he tweets so much. But I have to admit, his geeky fixation with statistical trivia has won my heart. No one else tells me stuff like this
Knoller News Nugget: Pres. Arroyo is the 56th world leader with whom Pres. Obama has had talks.
Or this.
Over the top? CNN and MSNBC have both posted a countdown clock on their screens - ticking off the minutes to the beer summit.
Meanwhile, the media obsession with this damn "beer summit" makes me want to get drunk to help me forget that they rule the damn airwaves.

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Who needs health care reform

This has been making the rounds, but I want to archive it here for future reference. The sad part of this story is Stan Brock started Remote Area Medical to bring health care to third world countries. Says something that RAM now does 60% of its work in the US.


Yeah, the greatest health care system in the world, only millions of Americans can't afford to use it.

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Talk radio rejects Palin

While I am still trying to avoid Palin, this is funny enough to pass on. It appears even by the low standards of an industry that gives Limbaugh and Beck a microphone, Palin doesn't make the grade.
Though Sarah Palin has put out feelers to see if there is interest in her doing a national radio show, Cable & Broadcasting "says the country's biggest radio conglomerate, Clear Channel, has already passed on her."
Apparently they have this crazy idea that even a shock jock should be able to spew in complete sentences. More at the link.

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Newspapers killed themselves

Good piece on death of legacy newspapers and rise of niche publications. While it doesn't say anything new, says it eloquently. Money quote:
Yet, almost no one protected the public interest. Almost no one chronicled Wall Street's excesses. Almost no one kept watch over Washington's capture. Almost no one defended the swelling ranks of the vulnerable. Those few that did were marginalized — instead of lionized — by the industry itself.
Sad part is the owners of legacy dead tree media just don't seem to get it. They think they can solve their problems by charging for crappy content. [Via Jay Rosen]

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Life and Death

Internet friendships are an odd thing. You develop an on-line relationship with someone you've never met based almost solely on comments made on a list serv or some blog. Perhaps trade a few private emails. Yet you come to care about these people as much as any of your 3-D friends and family.

The Eschaton community lost another long time commenter this week. I didn't know Olaf Glad and Big that well but I still mourn the loss. Rest in peace. Meanwhile, in one of those moments of cosmic synchronicity, Heather left a message on my goodbye to Catalexis post from last November.
Finally found a newspapery obituary for Catalexis. I confess to being mystified as to why his family waited so long to publish one.

I miss him.
For some reason I've been thinking about Catalexis in the last couple of weeks myself, even before Olaf died. I still miss him too.

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Baucus under fire

Via Taegan at PR Wire, this is a great idea.
"In an apparent warning to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), some liberal Democrats have suggested a secret-ballot vote every two years on whether or not to strip committee chairmen of their gavels," The Hill reports.

Baucus "has frustrated many of his liberal colleagues by negotiating for weeks with Republicans over health care reform without producing a bill or even much detail about the policies he is considering."

Said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA): "Every two years the caucus could have a secret ballot on whether a chairman should continue, yes or no. If the 'no's win, he's out."
It would be even better if they did it annually instead of every two years. I can't think of a better way to break the influence of big money on the Senate than to make the perps suffer some consequences for catering to them.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Family

The day slipped away from me and I need to run an errand so here's a fascinating look at the entity behind the C Street house. They're not just running a quasi-brothel. They're also a shadow lobbyist group for the foreign policy interests of various dictators and tyrants. But they're registered as a church and pay no taxes.

Why do I think if this was left wing organization, Politico would be all over this story?

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They really do make their own reality

I'm late in posting this but it still makes me laugh.


Who knew when they said they were going to liberate Iraq, they meant they were going to take it right off the map?

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How to kill health insurance reform

There's lots of people talking about the policy implications of what's going on at Senate Finance Committee's meetings on health insurance reform. It's clear these guys are selling us a crock of shit and calling it gold. So I want to just talk about the puff piece in NYT for a moment.

They tell us a lot of things here. Reading it through, I know who is around the table. I know what the table looks like. I'm well informed about what junk food they're eating while they're sitting at the table and what flavor of coffee they drink. I know that, "just like kids in school" the senators have claimed certain seats. I even know what color the room is painted. I know who the power players are and how jovial the exchanges are between them.

The most important newspaper in America tells me they're working on "possibly the most complex legislation in modern history." They're talking about such lofty subjects as "the actuarial values of private insurance plans or the cost-sharing provisions of Medicare." I have the whole list of provisions, that's been circulating for weeks, on what's in and what's out from the previous incarnations of the bill. Public option - out. Resurrecting the failed HMO model of regional groups - back in. Employer mandates - out. Small tax bump for millionaires - out.

I have lots of information about the politics of the negotiations. What I don't have is any context. Not one detail that explains "the complexity." No comparison between the cost benefit of a public option versus the HMO model. No expert opinion on the potential effects of eliminating employer mandates. No projection on how much money could be raised by keeping the tax bump on millionaires, nor the real dollar amount of the bump, which I believe would only be a few thousand dollars.

But I didn't find that out from our elite legacy media. I read that on a blog. Just as it was a blog that reminded me this committee, that holds the future of health care in its hands, is being run by six guys who represent only 2.74 of the population. Truthfully, I can't recall a single article in any mainstream media that gave me practical facts of this nature.

The MSM loves to blame bloggers for their demise, and you know what -- it's true. But not because bloggers are cribbing from their work. It's because bloggers are doing the work they won't do. The MSM has become a fact free zone in the name of "neutrality." The only way facts ever enter their narrative is when bloggers amplify them to the point where they can no longer ignore it.

When we end up with a reform plan that's worse than the status quo, it won't be just the politicians to blame. The media's failure to inform is weapon the pols will use to kill any meaningful change.

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The Palinese Liberation Oratory

Well I finally got through Sarah Palin's sayonara to all the little people in the great state of Alaska. Or I should probably say Palin's au revoir. It sounded more like a dress rehearsal for her Unusual Girl national tour than farewell speech to me.

And unusual is probably the kindest thing that can be said about her remarks. The best I can describe it is, it's like a mash up of really garbled lyrics from failed top 40 bands of the 80s. It's impossible to summarize. All I can say is I had no idea Hollywood was planning to invade Alaska with a circus of delicate, tiny, very talented celebrity starlets and I can't stop wishing they would invade my town instead. Sounds like a great show.

Gawker plumbs the awesome incoherency and pulls some good quotes or you can read the full transcript. Not that will help make any sense of it.

I actually recommend you watch Part One and Part Two on video to really get the full effect of her psychedelic stream of subconsciousness. Having watched it twice now, I think I have the name for her new book: The Power of Babble.

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Krazy Kristol on TDS

Not even Jon Stewart can make me sit through 15 minutes of Krazy Kristol's crackpot theories. I didn't make it past the five minute mark. But if you have a higher tolerance, here's the video.

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Abercrombie anti-birther resolution passes

It's official. Neil Abercrombie's resolution commemorating Hawaii's 50th anniversary and more importantly stating that President Obama was born in the lovely state, was passed on a 378-0 vote. Even Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), "the lead sponsor of the infamous "Birther Bill" to require presidential candidates to present their birth certificates, and who had previously said he wouldn't "swear on a stack of Bibles" that Obama is a natural-born American citizen" signed on to the conspiracy dampening document.

Eagerly awaiting a statement from Birfer leader, dentist/lawyer Orly Taitz on how this will affect their movement.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Change for the worse

Okay, I finally tracked down the Palin speech video and this is going to take a while. I'm only as far as "suggesting apologetics" which is about three minutes in, and need a ROFLMAO break already. Is apologetics even a word? Mindboggling. Anyway, here's a few short links stolen from Eschaton, while I attempt to digest the speech.

I don't remember them starting out like this. In fact, I seem to recall liking their work when they launched, but it's true that at this point, Politico is nothing more than a Drudge baiting, GOP bulletin board.

Similarly, I don't remember Chuck Todd always being such a total putz. Neither do I remember if I ever posted the link to this transcript of his interview with Glenzilla, which proves he is now.

And I don't really understand the Wall St voodoo that well, but I know a scam when I see one. I can't it describe better than Jay Ackroyd did, so I'm just lifting his post.
Frontrunning, when human traders do it, is executing trades for your own or the brokerage account before executing a large customer trade you know will move the price. This is an illegal use of insider information.

Apparently, when Goldman uses extra fast computers to do the same thing, it is innovation!
Rather than, you know, a crime. Is this a great country or what?

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Men on the run

I got distracted posting on health insurance reform at DetNews so I haven't even looked at the news yet today. But here's a very funny video I just picked up. Speaks for itself.



Update: This just in:
Now, Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii, 'natch) is introducing a bill declaring Hawaii as President Obama's place of birth. Looks like Republicans aren't the only ones who can use resolutions to try to stick it to the other side.

Hee. The problem for the GOPers is obvious. Vote for the resolution and anger your racist birther base, or vote against it and offend many of the remaining 75% of non-insane Americans.
I'm normally against these stupid resolutions as being a waste of time, but in this case, it may help end the birther nonsense. And it's moving fast. Word has it, it's being introduced even as I post this. A roll call vote would be priceless. So there's that. [via Jay Ackroyd]

Update two: As it turns out, the resolution was to commemorate Hawaii's 50th anniversary and the birth of Obama was just a whereas clause inclusion. Nonetheless, I'm sure to your utter shock, the resolution was blocked by Michele Bachmann on the grounds there wasn't a quorum. At this point, I'm hoping they assemble a quorum and force a roll call vote to prove there is one.

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Blogroll

Been a while since I've done blogroll maintenance. Long overdue in adding old blogfriend Lance Mannion to the roster and welcoming a new find, Rumproast. Also adding Prior Aelred to Atriots, though his is more a website for his monastery than a actual blog. Please do check them all out.

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Memes of the day

I didn't watch Palin's speech live last night. I'm trying to maintain my Palin-free zone and didn't think I was going to bother at all, but the reviews have been so hilarious, I'm off to find the youtubes. So in the interim here's some quick reads on what I'm seeing on the intertubes today.

Worth breaking the Palin boycott for, snark of the day: Gettysburg Address by Sarah Palin.

Steve M. gets the award for blog post title of the day: "PALIN: EVERY TIME ANDREW SULLIVAN BLOGS ABOUT TRIG, A U.S. SOLDIER DIES." Read the post too.

GregMitch has the "fun" fact of the day, "via Bloomberg: U.S. now has enough surplus housing to house the entire population of the U.K., with room left over for Israel." Okay -- it's not that funny.

QOTD: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., long before he was on SCOTUS - when he was an officer in Union Army & President Lincoln came out to the lines around DC when Jubal Early was menacing them -- the Rebels started shooting & Lincoln wanted a better look & Holmes yelled, "Get down, you fool!" (Happened July 12 1864, Fort Stevens, DC.) [h/t Prior Aelred and Xan]

The Village idiocy of the day: WSJ strikes back against Sirotta's scrutiny. Demand "correction" for perfectly accurate quote.

Squee of the day: New baby at Franklin Park zoo. [via Lance Mannion]

Promos of the day: NTodd will be starting a new radio show on 105.9FM from 6-7pm. Today's start is delayed but coming soon. Also, support your local Vulcan. All proceeds will be used to take Mr. & Mrs. Spocko to dinner.

Photo gallery of the day: Storm pix in NYC. [via Rumproast]

Photoshop of the day: The Wassillabillies.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

About Gates

I haven't commented on the Gates story because I was hoping it would die out. As if. The media does love its soundbite "journalism." I just did my long form post at DetNews. Shorter me: Yes racial profiling is a problem. Yes racism still exists, but what happened to Gates has more to do with abuse of power. And that's the real problem for civil society.

I tweeted that theme first but Ta-nehisi Coates and Digby beat me to the long form posts. Both are well worth reading.

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Found on Twitter

The thing I'm finding I like about Twitter is the glimpse you get of the more personal side of media figures. While the updates are obviously going to be somewhat guarded, over time you can intuit a bit about their personalities. For instance, Mark Knoller is a statistics geek, a quirk I find alternately irritating and endearing. He's always coming up with little gems like this.
Obama has done more interviews than any other President in their first six months. So far - at least 88 interviews since taking office.
Greg Mitchell of Editor and Publisher loves photography and often posts personal photos. This one is a fav of mine. Sunrise over the Hudson.

And this made me insanely jealous. I guess if I had a teevee show, maybe someone would have sent me this beauty too. I collect these and they're hard to get now. For one thing, I don't take smoking rooms and the hotels don't make them anymore, I suppose because people steal them.

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Sunday Travel Section

Taking a break from politics this morning and dreaming about travel. It's been a long time since I've had a vacation. LAT has 63 suggestions. I'm especially fond of these Turkish fairy chimneys. I've always wanted to see Istanbul as well.

This place looks interesting. Pagasa Island. Heaven or hell? I don't think I'd want to live there forever but a couple of months sounds like a peaceful retreat. For those who think it's hell, you would think they might organize a canasta league or something to pass the time.

And out of this world, Opp. Eep. Orp. Ah-Ah.


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Salvation on "C" Street

I don't have TV in the new place so I've missed Maddow's series on the "C" Street House and maybe I'm the last to find this out. I had no idea the place is a former convent. I find that deliciously ironic.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Shoot Me

Seriouly. Just shoot me. I can't take the stupid anymore. Michael O'Brien at the Hill Briefing Room blares the headline, "House to consider resolution demanding Obama apologize to Crowley ." A bit misleading. As I said in comments, it should have read, "Insane GOPer to introduce resolution…"
Congress would demand that President Obama apologize to the officer the president said had "acted stupidly" in the arrest of a prominent Harvard professor under a resolution set to be introduced by one Michigan lawmaker.

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) will introduce a House resolution on Monday demanding Obama retract and apologize for remarks he has made about Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley this past week.
The post was absurd. He offers no evidence that there's any widepread support. The resolution itself nearly exceeded my capacity to absorb teh stupid. And I've built up a high tolerance. Read it at your own peril.

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TPM does Twitter aggregation

As you know I caved and joined Twitter. I don't hate it but I've been resisting subscribing to too many feeds because the volume can be daunting, and I'm such a talker, I can't resist replying. So I'm happy to see TPM build this service. It will be useful for those who don't want to drown in the tweet stream but would still would love to know what's going on.
[W]e set up a series of Twitter rooms that pull together the Twitter feeds of different groups. Here's the feeds for Elected Dems on Capitol Hill, Elected Republicans on Capitol Hill, Democratic and liberal insiders, Republican and conservative insiders and reporters and bloggers. Each page is auto-updating every few minutes.

They're permanently linked on our front page, below the fold on the right, just across from our masthead.
It's a great idea. A specifically targeted Twitterverse. The only difference is you can listen, but you can't talk back.

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Good news for Sarah Palin

Goddess forgive me for being mean, but the title of the post is the first thing I thought of when I read this:
A functional artificial brain could be built within the next decade, leading scientist and brain-builder Henry Markram told a tech conference. Markram, who leads a project seeking to reverse engineer the mammalian brain from lab data, says his team has already duplicated parts of the rat brain, the BBC reports. The synthetic brain will be key to understanding mental disorders, according to Markam.
Add-on cognitive dissonance app will cost extra. [via Hinesight]

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Remember when

They called us paranoid when we said we were worried that Bush would declare martial law? I'd call this a vindication.
— Top Bush administration officials in 2002 debated testing the Constitution by sending American troops into the suburbs of Buffalo to arrest a group of men suspected of plotting with Al Qaeda, according to former administration officials.

Some of the advisers to President George W. Bush, including Vice President Dick Cheney, argued that a president had the power to use the military on domestic soil to sweep up the terrorism suspects, who came to be known as the Lackawanna Six, and declare them enemy combatants. [...]

Those who advocated using the military to arrest the Lackawanna group had legal ammunition: the memorandum by Mr. Yoo and Mr. Delahunty. [...]

The document added that the neither the Posse Comitatus Act nor the Fourth Amendment tied a president’s hands.[...]

Mr. Bush ultimately decided against the proposal to use military force.
Clearly Cheney was behind the power grab but who knows if Bush would have decided differently if we hadn't been willing to endure the ridicule to warn that they were planning it? Sometimes a little preventive paranoia can be a good thing.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Sex scandals

I'm beginning to think all these non-stop revelations of Republican's affairs is a deliberate shock & awe tactic to inure the public to sex scandals prior to the 2010 cycle of elections. They just keep on coming. The latest is yet another abstinence-only GOPer who admits sexing up a 22 year old intern. Comes with a tawdry backstory of domestic violence.

Meanwhile, yesterday's philanderer, Chip Pickering kept a diary of the details of his long term fling with a married woman. So far he's been able to use his family connections to keep it under seal but that could change during the court proceedings. Even juicier, his soon to be ex-wife says the diary names names of "several men who enabled his adulterous trysts and helped him cover his tracks." Not clear how many of them were residents of the C Street den of iniquity. But the real question is, how stupid do you have to be to keep a diary of an extramartial affair?

And new clues to the identity of the mysterious Governor X we heard about earlier. If we're to believe the shock jocks who interviewed the madame today, it's PA Gov. Ed Rendell. Of course that breaks the pattern since he's a Democrat. Maybe it's a bi-partisan strategy.

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Obama surprises press corps

President Obama made an unannounced appearance at today's WH presser to defuse the idiotic mania over his remarks on the Gates arrest in Cambridge. No matter how you feel about him and the job he's doing, you have to admit the man knows how to handle the media.

He told them he had spoken to the cop who made the arrest and then later to Gates. He also admitted that "stupidly" probably wasn't the best modifier he could have used in describing the arrest but rightly noted that the ensuing kerfluffle was a pretty clear indicator that our society is far from colorblind when it comes to racial issues. He also notes that the mania has been a distraction from the much more important issue of health insurance reform.

You can read the whole statement at the link but my favorite bit was the quip at the end.
So at the end of the conversation there was a discussion about -- my conversation with Sergeant Crowley, there was discussion about he and I and Professor Gates having a beer here in the White House. We don't know if that's scheduled yet -- (laughter) -- but we may put that together.

He also did say he wanted to find out if there was a way of getting the press off his lawn. (Laughter.) I informed him that I can't get the press off my lawn. (Laughter.) He pointed out that my lawn is bigger than his lawn. (Laughter.) But if anybody has any connections to the Boston press, as well as national press, Sergeant Crowley would be happy for you to stop trampling his grass.
Meanwhile, best tweet on the appearance goes to Chris Hayes: "REPORT: Obama fans from across nation flock to Gates' house, attempting citizens' arrests in hopes of being invited to WH for beer."

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Tweety's Gang

Only in America, can you be convicted and serve time for a politically motivated B&E felony, advocate violence against federal agents, admit plotting to kill or firebomb political opponents and then get to appear on the *liberal* cable network as a political analyst to repeat outright lies about the sitting President. What a country.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Born Identity

Birthers beware. Yes, I'm looking at you Lou Dobbs. This is why Jon Stewart was recently voted in some totally unscientific poll as the new most trusted journalist in America.

Think about that for a moment. The most informative news program on teevee is hosted by Comedy Central. And yet they wonder why *serious* journalism is dying.

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Media fail on the health care presser

The coverage of Obama's health insurance reform presser is all so depressingly predictable. A look at the Memeorandum page tells the sad story. There is one headline that offers the full transcript. Otherwise there are:
15 headlines and dozens of blog posts about his remarks on Prof. Gates and the Boston cop.

7 headlines about the Dems inability to bring the bill to a vote.

A couple of disingenuous critiques by reliable sourpusses, Kaus and Ben Smith.

A few headlines reacting in general. Steve Benen rounds up the links to the more reasonable reactions

And only one post at TNR that addresses the substance of Obama's answers.
My reaction? I like the professorial approach Obama takes to these pressers. It may bore the attention span challenged media stars, but I find our President refreshingly honest -- as politicians go. He doesn't take the easy out with sloganery and comfortingly vague answers.

Which is not to say I liked all the answers. I remain greatly concerned that the public plan option is going to turn into another bi-partisan Medicare-D type scam that will placate the industry and won't solve the problem. I'm enormously pissed off that single payer isn't even being discussed. But as I said on Twitter last night, no matter how you feel about the substance of the answers, there is no denying that Obama exudes well-informed competency and confidence. I have no doubt that a change is coming. Whether it's going to be a change for the better remains to be seen.

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Dan Rather Was Right

As the saying goes, revenge is a dish best served cold. And it looks like Rather will get his revenge. You've probably heard that his attorneys won a round and CBS was forced to release thousands of internal documents that are likely to reveal some ugly truths.
In fact, we learned that CBS was in full panic mode and was willing to take whatever step necessary to placate the right-wing fanatics frothing about Memogate. The picture painted by the CBS memos and documents already reviewed by Rather suggest a craven news organization that was less interested in uncovering the truth about the disputed memos, and more interested in appeasing Rush Limbaugh. It wanted to "mollify the right," as one internal CBS memo put it. [...]

And here's the kicker for the former Tiffany Network: Rather has vowed to never settle the case out of court.
That's the spirit Dan. This is a media scandal I'm going to thoroughly enjoy. Not that I expect it will get much MSM coverage, but it's a story that will get told without them. Maybe we'll even find out what really happened to Bush's missing National Guard records. [via Atrios]

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Healthcare and media manias

I've been tweeting up a storm this morning, harassing the media people that I've been following over their coverage of the presser. It's not that I thought the questions were stupid. They weren't so apparently focused on getting the dumb "gotcha" quote. But they still didn't ask the right ones.

The one burning question I've seen echoed all over the internets in the last couple of days was whether people who have employer-based policies will have the option to switch to a public plan. I haven't seen any clear answer to that from Congress or the White House, but none of the privileged few journos managed to spit that one out. Karen Tumulty was the only journo I know of that would have asked it, but she wasn't called on. Apparently because they have their precious protocols that require the egos of a certain few media stars be satisfied first.

Don't get me wrong, the TARP questions were good ones. As was the question about the arrest of Prof Gates, but as I said repeatedly on Twitter, it was the wrong presser for it. Predictably the media focus today is mainly on Obama saying the cop acted stupidly in making the arrest. Which is true, but ZOMG, it's a post-racial violation -- or something -- to point out the fact that racial profiling very much still exists in law enforcement. The media finds it interesting so that's the lede, the public need for info on health insurance reform be damned.

The best question was about the refusal to release the visitor logs relative to the health insurance reform meetings at the White House. Of course, that didn't get any traction because I see that the White House released the list shortly before the presser. Haven't seen that mentioned anywhere else. No controversy. No coverage.

While I appreciate that the media doesn't get that many opportunities to directly question the president, perhaps they could remember that the purpose of these events is to inform the public, not to amuse them. Maybe next time they could ask why single payer isn't being considered, since it's clearly the most cost effective method which would cover the broadest number of people. Or why single payer advocates have been cut out of the discussion altogether. That's also a question one can easily find being asked by hordes of us *little people* across the spectrum of the internets.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

GOPer confesses obstruction tactics

They don't even bother to hide it anymore.
In an interview on CNBC, Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) admits that at least half the opposition to health care reform is about scoring political points against President Obama rather than substantive policy disagreements.

Said Voinovich: "I think it's probably 50/50."
I'm sure he was greatly understating the ratio. They haven't put forward a single substantive policy disagreement yet. They spend all their time inventing slogans and making meaningless but colorful charts. Sociopathic savants. Video at the link.

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No change in White House secrecy

Oh for crying out loud. Did somebody let Bush and Cheney back into the White House without telling me? In response to a CREW request for visitor logs detailing health care industry meetings at the White House:
The Secret Service sent a reply stating that documents revealing the frequency of such visits were considered presidential records exempt from public disclosure laws. The agency also said it was advised by the Justice Department that the Secret Service was within its rights to withhold the information because of the "presidential communications privilege."
The White House says "it's reviewing its policies." Not good enough President Obama. Your campaign promise to televise the meetings in the interests of transparency is on record. The least you can do is release the logs without a court order.

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Follow the money

*Moderate* Democrat is just another word for bought off by health insurance companies.
The sector gave nearly $170 million to federal lawmakers in 2007 and 2008, with 54 percent going to Democrats, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics. The shift in parties was even more pronounced during the first three months of this year, when Democrats collected 60 percent of the $5.4 million donated by health-care companies and their employees, the data show.
Follow the money and it leads straight to Blue Dogs and other "concerned moderates." Obama was saying recently we shouldn't criticize these guys if they a "D" after their name. Screw that. If they're fighting reform, they're on the wrong side of the battle. All's fair...

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Judge rips CIA

I was distracted yesterday so doing a little catchup this morning, a federal district judge cracked down on the CIA on Monday, raging from the bench about the court having been repeatedly misled by their abuse of state's secrets privilege.
Lambert also questioned the credibility of current CIA Director Leon Panetta, saying that Panetta's testimony in the case contained significant discrepancies, and rejected an Obama administration request that the case continue to be kept secret. He released hundreds of previously secret filings.

"The court does not give the government a high degree of deference because of its prior misrepresentations regarding the stated secrets privilege in this case," Lamberth wrote. "Although this case has been sealed since its inception to protect sensitive information, it is clear . . . that many of the issues are unclassified."
The case, filed in 1994 by a former DEA agent, alleges the agent was illegally wiretapped while on duty in Burma. The government has been trying to quash it from the beginning with Clinton and Bush, and now Obama, seeking "dismissal on national security grounds." The judge was particularly torqued over the CIA's failure to disclose until 2008 that the agent had his cover lifted in 2002. He accused the CIA's attorneys of engaging in a "fraud on the court."

"Lambert had dismissed the case in 2004, citing Brown's undercover status. An appeals court overturned that decision." Hell hath no fury like a judge made to look like a dupe.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Obama, Dems & blogger outreach

Blogtopia is buzzing about the bloggers conference call with Obama. Invite only and only a few were invited. Obviously, I was not one of them.

They're all posting transcripts of their Qs and passing on the President's message. Shorter version seems to be: "Trust us. It's a process. We're making progress. Keep pushing Congress." That last bit conflicts with the message of last week that no one is supposed to speak ill of the Blue Dogs. Whatever.
Amanda Marcotte's response sums up my view of the matter.
Here’s what it looks like from the viewpoint of Joe or Jane Voter: The bank bailout was a giant giveaway of our money to the assholes who got us into this horrible economic situation, a giant payoff as a thank you for fucking us over and pissing in our faces. The economic stimulus package doesn’t seem to have any effect at all on the exploding unemployment rate. We’re still in an unwinnable war in Iraq. Outside of appointing a popular Supreme Court justice, the Democrats have done nothing for us. [...]

...Sometimes Democrats feel like that boyfriend who tells you over and over how much you mean to him, but then he doesn’t call, forgets dates, and gives you a card and a CD for a band you told him you didn’t like for your birthday. And after you’ve put up with it for awhile, you DTMFA.
Not sure what that acroynm means. Assume it's Dump The Misguided Fool Altogether. Or something like that. But she's right about the Dems. Those of us who ride the 24/7 newscycle daily understand the process, even when we don't like it. But the average Jake just sees results, or lack thereof. To the majority of the electorate, the Dems continuing inability to stand up to the GOPers and push their own agenda looks like little more than cowardice. It's not going to win them any votes in 2010.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Man on the Moon


It's the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. You all know how much I love the space program. Always have, so of course, I saw it it live. In fact so did everyone. Leaving aside the hokey, one small step for man thing, what I remember most is the whole world stopped to watch.

You could almost hear the collective silence in the last few minutes. And the universalapplause when they landed safely.

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Screw bi-partisanship

Robert Samuelson posts an idiotic op-ed in the WaPo today accusing Obama and the Democrats of "squandering" the stimulus money by failing to distribute enough to the states and not giving enough tax breaks for big purchases that only the already well-off can afford. Tim Fernholz shreds his argument, pointing out the glaring omission of the "bi-partisan" concessions the Dems made to the GOPers in order to get their support, which included stripping state funds in order to bring the cost down to some imaginary "perfect" amount of $800bn. But I'm linking to Tim for his closer.
I could go on about how Samuelson doesn't understand the connection between the size of the stimulus and its efficacy, or that infrastructure projects do promote economic activity. But the real point is this: People, even people like Samuelson who are supposed to know what the hell they are talking about, will forget six months from now how major legislation gets made, what compromises were necessary to pass any bill at all, who the obstructing senators were -- and the obstructing senators know this. Whatever comes out of the health care track or the cap and trade track or the financial regulation track will be owned by the Administration. That's why the top priority has to be getting the policy right, not the bipartisan optics.
Exactly. After all the giveaways that watered down the recovery bill's efficacy, the GOPers still didn't vote for the bill. And now they're only too happy to blame the damage they wrought on the Dems. It's the same game they've been playing forever. So when are the Dems going to figure out that placating GOPers is a suicidal strategy? The voters didn't give them the power of the majority so they could cede it to the party they threw out.

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Marijuana reformers score a big hit

I started blogging a little over 6 years ago specifically to advocate for reform of our outdated marijuana laws. Given the growing public sentiment for change, I expected we would eventually succeed, but I didn't anticipate that Apple would facilitate pot purchases.

With a dozen states having legalized/decriminalized medical marijuana, and new proposals pending elsewhere, Apple approved a new app for its iPhone that allows the user to locate a doctor who can write a prescription, find a provider for the herb and find a lawyer in case you get in trouble for using it. A small portion of the fee will be reallocated to marijuana law reform orgs. Now that's my kind of capitalism.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hot stuff

The Daily News is basically a useless rag, but I have to give them credit, at least they're honest. They label their work gossip. And this could become a hot item if it's true.
Now the elegant blond courtesan, whom we'll continue to call "Annie," is talking about three "dates" she allegedly had with another state's chief executive, who we'll call Gov. X.
Feel free to speculate if you must. I'm in sex scandal burnout.

Speaking of burnout, neon signs are slowly disappearing from our collective landscape. Cosa tracks down some of the remaining lights in Honolulu in a lovely gallery of shots.

And if you're looking for that perfect Creative Commons graphic, idee is the place to be. They have three very cool search engines for photos, including this one that searches by color.

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Taibbi v. Goldman Sachs

I had been collecting links for a long time on Goldman Sachs intending to do a post summarizing the situation. Unfortunately, the document I was saving them in became corrupted and I lost most of the links. Which is just as well I suppose. I decided to post the series at DetNews where it has a better chance of being seen by elected politicians. And besides, you highest common denominator readers don't need the education.

I am however going to post the links I've reassembled, in case you missed any and to archive them so I don't lose them again. My first post at DetNews is here if you care to see how I'm framing it. Otherwise, here's the links for your reading pleasure.

If you missed Matt Taibbi's original long form article at Rolling Stone, it's now available in its entirety. I reread it in writing the DetNews and got pissed off all over again. Take your BP medication before reading.

The other link to keep handy is Taibbi's blog at True Slant. But in particular, this post on Goldman's "profits" is a keeper. As is this one featuring video of Max Keiser publicly stating, Goldman Sachs are scum who should be in jail.

On a related note, this posted by the good Dr. Krugman, riffing off Taibbi's profit post is also worth a read. It's hard to see, in the face of all this blatant white collar robbery, why people aren't in the streets with pitchforks and torches demanding that these scumsuckers be brought to justice instead of being bailed out.


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Missing progressive voices

My discontent with Obama's economic policies is neatly summed up by Krugman today.
But the larger story is the absence of a progressive-economist wing. A lot of people supported Obama over Clinton in the primaries because they thought Clinton would bring back the Rubin team; and what Obama has done is … bring back the Rubin team. Even the advisory council, which is supposed to bring in skeptical views, does so by bringing in, um, Marty Feldstein.
The whole idea behind change was bringing in a new team. While I expected Obama to be less radical than his critics predicted, I didn't expect him to completely exclude progressive voices. The least he could have done is made a show of inclusion, even if he didn't intend to take their advice.

On a related note, in case you missed it, the good Doctor's take on Goldman Sachs' profits. Good for them. Bad for us.

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Friday in Tehran

Although, outside of the green gravatars, it has pretty much dropped off the radar in the blogosphere here, the situation in Iran remains volatile. The Iranians aren't backing down from confronting their government. Juan Cole has an eyewitness account of a demonstration last Friday.
Everytime Ansari mentioned the Supreme Leader, the crowd booed. Everytime he referred to the opposition as traitors, chants of "liar, liar" started. When he mentioned that everyone should listen to the advice and dictates of the Supreme Leader, chants of "Death to the dictator" were loudly shouted. When he derailed America and Britian for muddling in Iran's affairs, the crowd erupted in chants of "Down with Russia" (because Russia immediately recognized the re-election of Ahmadinejad and congratulated him). As he spoke of the recent killings of Muslims in China, the crowd chided him and the system for its hyprocrisy. Though there was a visible show of force by the Basij and supporters of Ahmadinejad, almost all the women were decked in green ribbons or scarfs, and many men had on green shirts or hats. The women had all gathered on one side of Qods and wouldn't let the crowd remain silent during Ansari's speech. Many had climbed onto large trash bins or light posts and led the entire streets in chants---all were decked in green and in the face of the Basij, people put their arms in the air, with the peace/victory sign.
Read the whole thing. Riveting. If only Americans had the same courage, we might be able to "change how DC works" for real.

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The public option scam

While I believe as a pragmatic matter that a public option is the best we can hope to get out of this Congress, unlike most people I saw, I wasn't happy to see the AMA endorse the current health reform bill. I figured if the AMA likes it, then there's something very wrong with it. It appears my suspicions were well-founded. Avedon runs down a few of the bad points. Here's just a couple.
*Only 9 million people will be in public option by 2019. That's not enough to keep the insurance companies honest (if that were even possible).

* Public option does not begin until 2013. That's not "from Day One."
Read the whole list. Considering the Blue Dogs and the GOP are conveniently delaying any real action, it's not too late to change to start demanding single payer instead.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Found on twitter

I'm going to run out for a few errands so here's a some quick links that I picked up on twitter this morning.

HIlzoy's last post at the Washington Monthly. Blogtopia won't be the same without her.

At CJR David Simon (of The WIre) tells the NYT and WaPo to build that paywall. I may have more to say on this later. He clearly is not seeing the problem.

This week's 10 best political jokes

New Gail Collins column at NYT has a fun test you can take online about GOP sex scandals. I got 8 of 9. Proving that I probably read too many gossipy stories.

And can't remember if I posted a link to this or not, but it's worth a second look if I did. Whiskey Ina's garden is growing nicely.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

The most trusted man in America

You've heard by now that Walter Cronkite died. Not at all unexpected, but it's still a sad moment. Cronkite's brand of journalism has been dead for a long time but somehow his passing makes it seem more permanent. I'll probably have more to say about it tomorrow but for tonight, it seems kind of fitting for the moment to post a song by Blind Faith.



In 1969 we didn't have the internets. We connected with drugs and music and VW buses. We didn't have 24/7 news except for really important occassions. And for those -- we had Cronkite. [via Pam Leavey]

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Politico nails drunken Bush

At long last, Politico, in their relentless search for the big hit count, finally nails our former president for his closet drunkeness -- after ignoring it for years. Oh wait... sorry.

Politico's Drudge-baiting headline said, "What, and when does Obama drink?" And no, I'm linking to it. I'm not even going to read it. I'll trust others who said it was a ridiculous post about some radio caller in wingnuttia who is very insulted that Obama is watching basketball and having a beer while "we're all gonna die." Call me when Obama starts appearing in public, looking like this...



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The military-industrial complex

I have a lot of problems with the administration's military policy, (see Afghanistan), but they've got my vote on this spending priority. DefSec Gates made a speech in Chicago that hit all the right targets. Full transcript here but if you don't to read the whole thing, at least take a look at the excerpts at Wired.
The grim reality is that with regard to the budget we have entered a zero-sum game. Every defense dollar diverted to fund excess or unneeded capacity… is a dollar that will be unavailable to take care of our people, to win the wars we are in, to deter potential adversaries, and to improve capabilities in areas where America is underinvested and potentially vulnerable. That is a risk that I will not take and one that I cannot accept,” he said.
And he's gunning for the sacred cow of Congressional patronage, the new F-22 stealth fighters. "It’s typical, he observed, of a Beltway process that keeps defense programs going forever, regardless of their military value."
“If we can’t bring ourselves to make this tough but straightforward decision – reflecting the judgment of two very different presidents, two different secretaries of defense, two chairmen of the joint chiefs of staff, and the current Air Force Secretary and Chief of Staff, where do we draw the line? And if not now, when? If we can’t get this right – what on earth can we get right? It is time to draw the line on doing Defense business as usual. The President has drawn that line. And that red line with regard to a veto is real.”
Even McCain is on board for this one. Of course, he's got nothing to lose. I don't believe his district gets any money from it. And I know it will be painful for the districts that do depend on the contracts for jobs but it just too colossal a waste of money to justify. Much as it pains me to admit it, being a huge aerophile, we don't need this really cool airplane. Good for Gates and Obama for sticking to their guns. [graphic]

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Fan mail of the day

Via my "fan" club at DetNews.

You make Lucrezia Borgia look like a girl scout.

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C Street Follies

Beyond comical. Yet another denizen of the C St. House that harbored philanderers Ensign and Sanford, among other good Christian GOPers, has been caught "in flagrante."
In an "alienation of affection" lawsuit, former Rep. Charles W. Pickering Jr.'s estranged wife, Leisha, alleges that he carried on an extramarital affair...
I guess the "C" is for Casanova. More at TPM.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

GOP gets scarier

It appears that NotLarrySabato broke this story but everyone has the video at this point and Steve M has the best post so click over there for the background material. This is footage of an actual Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates who is calling for an armed revolt. You really have to watch to get the full effect, but here's part of the transcript:
... 'The war is inevitable -- let it come, sir. I repeat: let it come.' We have a chance to fight this battle at the ballot box before we have to resort to the bullet box. But that's the beauty of our Second Amendment right. I am glad for all of us who enjoy the use of firearms for hunting, but make no mistake: that was not the intent of the Founding Fathers. Our Second Amendment right was to guard against tyranny.
This speech came after she read a "Resolution in Recognition of the Tea Parties." Steve has the full transcript of that, in case you have any doubts about which tryannical forces she is targeting. She's claiming she was taken out of context, and wasn't really calling for an armed revolt against the government, but it's hard to read much nuance or ambiguity in "resort to the bullet box."

Besides her intent doesn't really matter so much as her words were applauded by her audience and I see that same language being echoed in comment sections, including the DetNews. Appealing to the base's anger has been a winning strategy for the GOPers for a long time. The trouble is even though it stopped working outside of the far right, a lot of them believe they really are a majority and when they lose, they get angry. And paranoid. And they have guns. Lots of guns.


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GOP's portal to porn - Updated

They've done it again. The GOP p3wns itself with another failed attempt at clever mockery. The RNC website is featuring a fantasy shopping portal along with an ObamaCard account that apparently is supposed to illustrate reckless spending -- or something.

Whatever the point is supposed to be, it may fulfill a few more purient fantasies. It seems their crackerjack programmers did manage to ban the forbidden search words gay and vagina but missed a few variations. Probably most of them. As you can see from the screen shots at the link, the return results are every adolescent boy's dream.

As sad as it is hilarious.

Update: RNC pulled the game while their programmers consult a thesaurus to filter out more "bad" words.

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The new fact-free AP

I'm old enough to remember when the AP was a fairly respectable wire service. Of course that was before Ron Fournier got his grubby paws on it. There was a time when they would not have overstated the cost of the health care bill like this.
THE AP, THE CBO, AND A $500 BILLION GAP.... The latest report from the Associated Press on health care reform, published just one hour ago, includes this paragraph:

On Tuesday, House Democratic leaders pledged to meet the president's goal of health care legislation before their August break, offering a $1.5 trillion plan that for the first time would make health care a right and a responsibility for all Americans. Left to pick up most of the tab were medical providers, employers and the wealthy.

It doesn't include a source for the "$1.5 trillion" figure, but an earlier version of the story quoted an unnamed "House Democratic aide."
Also no reference to "the Congressional Budget Office scoring -- released 20 hours before the most recent AP piece -- that pointed to a roughly $1 trillion cost over 10 years." I'm sure you can guess which figure the anti-reform horde will be using.

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Anything for access

Catching up on yesterday's links this morning. The local paper, The State, in South Carolina continues to impress with their willingness to commit journalism. Their records request to Mark Sanford's office turned up some very interesting emails from Sanford's "hiking the Applachian Trail" debacle. Like this:
“If you all want to speak on this publicly, you’re welcome to Washington Times Radio,” wrote staffer Joseph Deoudes to Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer on June 23. “You know that you will be on friendly ground here!”
Also a funny exchange with Jake Tapper but my favorite was this one:
“If he wants something more personal for the blog to push back, I’m happy to help,” wrote Erick Erickson, a writer for RedState.com. On June 23, Erickson ripped “media speculation” about Sanford’s whereabouts.

“I wasn’t trying to be a reporter. I wanted to curtail the story,” Erickson said by e-mail. “Well that didn’t work.”
Heh. The power of wingnuttia to drive the narrative just ain't what it used to be.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sotomayor vote pool

I'm ready to start the Sotomayor vote pool. So far I only know of two on the record predictions. John Cole has 75 and Jay Ackyord has 72. I'm going for the under and taking 69. I'll be surprised if she gets that many.

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The Sotomayor Awards

Was kind of crazy day so I didn't get around to posting earlier. Spent the early part of the day watching the Sotomayor hearings off and on and following the commentary on Twitter. Not sure why I bother since I'm sure she'll be confirmed. There's no real drama. Just the usual irritating kabuki theater. In fact, it's more irritating than usual. Al Franken was the only Senator that was remotely interesting. I loved the Perry Mason bit. For that matter, I loved Perry Mason.

Nominations for most inane actors in a supporting role go to Sessions, Graham and Coburn. Sessions for overall idiocy, Graham for worst adaptation of Atticus Finch, (it just doesn't work in reverse) and Coburn for most tone deaf pop culture reference. Special recognition to Kyl for most ineffective attempt at sartorial impudence.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cheney's mysterious CIA program

There's a lot of conflicting reports and analyses on CIA program that Cheney ordered to kept secret -- from everyone. The mainstream narrative being pushed is that it was a simple covert assassination program, targeting only leading AQ operatives overseas. I find that hard to buy myself. I'm lining up behind TPM who thinks something is not adding up to the total picture just yet.
So regardless of how you might feel about targeted assassinations, it's not at all clear why this particular program would be so radioactive -- compared to what the U.S. was, and still is, doing more or less openly -- that (1) Cheney would demand the CIA not brief Congress about it for eight years; (2) Panetta would cancel it immediately upon learning of it; and (3) Democrats would howl quite so loudly when finally informed.
Of course, as Steve points out, a secret assassination squad was outed by Sy Hersch back in March. But that doesn't really explain why it's a story now. No one was overly concerned then. I think it's far more likely that they had potential targets in the US. For all we know, they might have eliminated a few designated enemy combatants.

Of course, that's pure speculation on my part. Still, it seems highly unlikely we have the whole story yet.

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Hoping Hilzoy fails

Sad news. Hilzoy says she's going to hang up her keyboard and is off to pursue other adventures. It's a great loss. She's one of the most thoughtful and clear voices we have. But then again, many have tried to leave Blogtopia and ended up coming back -- sooner or later.

So while I, of course, wish her well on her chosen path; I can't help but selfishly hope that she also fails and finds she can't really stay away.

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Lifting Fogg

I spent some time cleaning up my blogroll this weekend. Half the blogs were sleeping or dead, but gratefully Capt. Fogg is still going full steam ahead, powered on pure eloquence. Smart take on Pat Buchanan's lousy joke.
It used to be easier to dismiss the man as a fringe element kook, but in our new Republican party where yesterday's sludge is today's creme de la creme, Buchanan, the man whose record of anti-Semitism, opposition to every piece of civil rights legislation marks him like Cain and who advocated that Nixon commit felony obstruction of justice, still seems more respectable than his younger brethren in bombast.
Sadly, this is true. Buchanan is still on the air because he dares to say what the others are thinking but are afraid to say out loud. And compared to the screechers, he does look at least polite in his well grounded bigotry.
Meanwhile, at Fogg's own place, you should really just start at the top and scroll, but here's a couple of delicious quotes for your afternoon fare. On the Sotomayor hearings.
Turn on C-Span this morning and you have the same white collar bigotry from the same, expensively dressed, white Anglo-Saxon senators from the same tradition and the same party that fought school segregation, supported restricted real estate markets and hotels and caressed their bibles while telling us it was and should be a felony to marry outside your race.
And home from the sea.
Heading due North, the blue hull cuts through the swells and we're free of the land and its barbarism for a while.

If only it were as easy to escape the smell of religion, the reek of stupidity and the stench of bigotry.
No escape, but at least the sea air masks the misama. Read it in full.

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Wingnuts to CIA - you can call me Al

A man walks down the street, He says, Why am I short of attention? Got a short little span of attention... ~Paul Simon.

The wingers are in full outrage mode about the Democrats' "war on the CIA." Marc Thiessen today in the National Review (No, I'm not going to link to it.)
These latest attacks on the CIA will only serve to put the agency even further on the defensive when we really need the on the offensive against the terrorists. The men and women of the CIA were vilified after 9/11 for failing to connect the dots and stop the attack. Now they are being vilified for doing what was necessary to connect the dots and stop the next 9/11.

With these actions the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats are making another terrorist attack more likely. This is irresponsible, dangerous, and Americans may die as a result.
But remember when Wingnuttians hated the CIA for undermining the war on terra? From a National Review editorial on 5-8-06:
During the Bush presidency, however, the agency has not been content with subtly pushing its own agenda while underperforming its nominal mission. It has run amok. In fact, it worked assiduously—though unsuccessfully—to depose the administration in the 2004 election, and since then has continued brazenly undermining Bush’s foreign policy.
Need a photo-opportunity, want a shot at redemption...

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Really obscene jokes

They were throwing themselves on the fainting couch over Marcy's dirty word, but everyone laughed at Pat Buchanan's truly obscene joke. To be fair, MSNBC did also apologize for this segment but you'll notice a marked difference in the tenor.



Love those Village rules. Using an common euphemism for a sexual act that spawned a ridiculous multi-million dollar investigation is a horrible breach, but violent ideation is just good, clean fun, as long as one of their own does it. And they wonder why I stopped watching teevee?

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Marcy blows MSNBC away

Blogger extraordinaire emptywheel, a/k/a Marcy Wheeler, dared to utter the word blowjob on MSNBC during a segment about appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Bush regime war crimes.



As Jane Hamsher later pointed out, it's pretty effin' comical that after weeks of making tea bagger jokes, the hosts felt compelled to apologize for Marcy's "outburst." Screw that. Blowjob is a word in the dictionary. It made perfect sense in context. And it's not on the fabled 7 dirty words list.

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Honduras unspun

I haven't really been following this story but my friend and journalist Jules Siegel, who has been living in Mexico since 1981, has studied the situtation and has a somewhat contrarian take compared to the know nothing US reporters.

Still not clear to me to me what the US could or should be doing. Historically, we never seem to be on the correct side in the coups.

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Primary Succession

I'm no fan of Jon Chait but I'm glad to see him take up the idea I've been pushing for years. That being primary challenges to "moderate" Dems, a/k/a pols who sell out to their corporate overlords.

Chait suggests the primary challenge should only be strong enough to scare the recalcitrant Dems into compliance with the big agenda issues. Screw that. Pols like DiFi have sold out so regularly to deep pocket contributors, I want progressive challengers who can win. Even if that means that a newcomer would lose to a Republican.

What difference would it really make as long as the incumbent is voting along the GOP line anyway? At least that way the bad votes aren't tainting the Democratic party brand.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

In the interests of my mental health

Although the faint rumble about her starting a "true conservative" third party was an entertaining thought, I've temporarily declared myself a no-Palin zone. Ping me when she's does something I don't expect.

The only thing worth reading about her is John McCain's take on her new quit to win strategy as translated at Bobblespeak. CoT bravely watches the bobbleheads every week so he can render the transcripts for those of us who can longer tolerate direct exposure to the Sunday stupid.

Completely unrelated, the novelty of Twitter hasn't worn off yet, so I've been hanging there a bit today and found Greg Mitchell's photo gallery of vacation photos. Some nice shots.

But this is really picture of the day. Cat on a supertrain.

Also, in retrospect, taking an hour long recreational walk when the temperature was 91 degrees, was probably not the best idea I've ever had.

Update: 50 Years of Moon Exploration and a bunch more space related milestones.

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What, me worry?

Should I be concerned that Karl Rove is now following me on Twitter?
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All the news that's fit to leak

As has become customary, these are attributed to anonymous sources, but very interesting if true. It certainly seems plausible that Cheney was directly involved in deceiving Congress.
The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency’s director, Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday. [...]

Intelligence and Congressional officials have said the unidentified program did not involve the C.I.A. interrogation program and did not involve domestic intelligence activities. They have said the program was started by the counterterrorism center at the C.I.A. shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but never became fully operational, involving planning and some training that took place off and on from 2001 until this year.
Hmmm. Wonder if that has anything to do with Cheney's extended SS protection? Also wondering how many other secret programs they had that we may never find out about. And any bets on whether Fox News will ever ask him about it?

Meanwhile, in a related development, what will Holder do?
Four knowledgeable sources tell NEWSWEEK that he is now leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices, something the president has been reluctant to do.

"I hope that whatever decision I make would not have a negative impact on the president's agenda," he says. "But that can't be a part of my decision."
All the smart people are already blogging on this so I'm just going to say, "I'll believe it when I see it." If memory serves, I've heard this rumor before.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Unprecedented protection for Cheney

Customarily vice president's don't get to keep their Secret Service detail but in Cheney's case, they made an exception and extended Cheney's protection for the foreseeable future. Probably a good idea that Obama signed off on it. Considering the guy is more universally hated than Castro, Chavez and root canals, he probably needs it. Word has it he's still getting regular death threats.

In un-related neo-con news, Karl Rove is asking for help in naming his memoirs. I'll be happy to pass on any suggestions if you're not on Twitter yourselves.

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They like to watch - part two

A lot more on Bush's President's Surveillance Program today. The CIA was more actively involved than anyone admitted at the time. It appears they basically functioned as the rubberstamp. "According to the report, CIA would prepare a threat briefing for President Bush justifying the need for such surveillance."

My pal, mikevotes has more links on the political pressure exerted in preparing the so-called threat assessments. Also the reviews show "not enough relevant officials were aware of the size and depth of the program."

"The Bush White House pulled in a great quantity of information far beyond the warrantless wiretapping previously acknowledged..."

"We also learned that George Bush himself was the one who ordered Gonzales to John Ashcroft's post surgery bedside looking for a signature of approval after Comey refused." Apparently it was also Bush who called Ashcroft's room at the time of that ghoulish power play. And as always, much more commentary at Memeorandum.

I have a feeling if we ever find out the full extent of this regime's criminality, it will almost defy human comprehension.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

It would be irresponsible not to speculate

Ewww! Way TMI. David Brooks must have been mocked for being too prissy after his loss of dignity column because he said he was "trying not to be too dignified and stuffy" when he shared his secret Senatorial flirting story on teevee.
BROOKS: You know, all three of us spend a lot of time covering politicians and I don’t know about you guys, but in my view, they’re all emotional freaks of one sort or another. They’re guaranteed to invade your personal space, touch you. I sat next to a Republican senator once at dinner and he had his hand on my inner thigh the whole time. I was like, ehh, get me out of here.
Maybe he could have excused himself to go use the men's room. Oh wait...

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They like to watch

I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn the President’s Surveillance Program under Bush was pretty much useless as far as "thwarting any terrorist plots" despite the oft repeated claims stating its great value. “[M]ost PSP leads were determined not to have any connection to terrorism,” according to the Justice Department’s inspector general."

In fact, although some of the inside players continue to insist it was a help in fighting terrorism, most defenders couldn't name any specific instance where the domestic surveillance had prevented any kind of attack.

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Where were you when we needed you?

Don't get me wrong. I think it's great that the House pushed back against Obama's signing statement seeking to hold the World Bank and IMF accountable. Certainly the wording of the statement sounds like something straight out of the Bush White House.
The conditions on World Bank and IMF funding were part of the $106 billion war supplemental bill that was passed last month. Obama, in a statement made as he signed the bill, said that he would ignore the conditions.

They would "interfere with my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations by directing the Executive to take certain positions in negotiations or discussions with international organizations and foreign governments, or by requiring consultation with the Congress prior to such negotiations or discussions," Obama said in the signing statement.

..Senior Democrats and Republicans railed against the notion that the president could ignore a law they had passed and he had signed.
Great. We need this kind of pushback on executive over-reach, not to mention the long overdue checks on IMF and World Bank. But I really wish they could have drummed up some of that outrage during any one of the 800+ times Bush did the same thing. For instance, it would have been really nice if they had used this trick to prevent Bush's declaration of an open license for torture.

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