Thursday, June 29, 2006

Supreme Court smacks down Administration's interrogation techniques

I have not yet read the complete opinions, but from what I've seen of not only the Stevens majority, but also the Kennedy and Breyer concurrences (see Orin Kerr with the relevant AMK and SGB excerpts here), it is hard to overstate the principal, powerfully stated themes emanating from the Court, which are (i) that the President's conduct is subject to the limitations of statute and treaty; and (ii) that Congress's enactments are best construed to require compliance with the international laws of armed conflict.

Even more importantly for present purposes, the Court held that Common Article 3 of Geneva aplies as a matter of treaty obligation to the conflict against Al Qaeda. That is the HUGE part of today's ruling. The commissions are the least of it. This basically resolves the debate about interrogation techniques, because Common Article 3 provides that detained persons "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely," and that "[t]o this end," certain specified acts "are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever"—including "cruel treatment and torture," and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." This standard, not limited to the restrictions of the due process clause, is much more restrictive than even the McCain Amendment.

My understanding is that this decision technically blocks the President from using military tribunals to try and convict prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, though at first glance it also blows the President's "enemy combatant" rationale all to hell, and is a gut punch to the "unitary executive" theory underpinning this outlaw Administration.

Surprise, surprise: Scalia, Thomas, and Alito dissented.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

giving it all you've got

Alright party peoples, Friday is the end of the fundraising quarter for all candidates at state and federal levels. Giving by the 30th allows them to boast your contribution when the numbers come out in July (extremely important for getting people to take your candidate seriously) and allows them a hard number to use for balancing their checkbook.

I know giving sucks, I know we're all short on cash, but the cold, hard truth is that over 9 in 10 races are won by the guy with the most money. You want your man (or woman) to win? You've got to open your wallet.

In Congress, like with anything else, you get what you pay for.

Some of you live in places where your House race isn't looking so hot. In that case, you can give to senate/gubernatorial/other races. In Texas, things are looking pretty dire, with relatively few Dems with a good shot at winning (John Courage and Chet Edwards being the best ones) but hey, you never know if Bell, Van Os, Radnofsky, or Ricketts can win unless you try, right?

In South Bend, we're looking a little better: Donnelly has a real shot at taking down Chocola. This district is normally Dem, and normally is represented by a Dem. Chocola is a fluke, and we can prove it. Give at Donnelly for Congress.

The other race I gave to this quarter is Jim Webb, who's running for Virginia Senator against George Allen. This guy (aside from having a great name) is one hell of a candidate. He's a died-in-the-wool progressive libertarian who won 6, yes 6, medals in Vietnam before serving as Secretary of the Navy during the Reagan Administration. First in his class at Quantico, JD from Georgetown, and netroots favorite who beat the dogshit out of the establishment candidate in the primary in what is probably the fastest "bluing" state in the Union, a win for Webb would not only mean another progressive in the Senate and a step closer to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but in all likelihood the political destruction of one of the Right's primo picks for the presidency in 2008.

Ned Lamont in Connecticut, John Tester in Montana, Sheldon Whitehouse in Rhode Island, and Sherrod Brown in Ohio are other great candidates who are close to beating shitty incumbents.

Other great pickup opportunities can be found at ActBlue.

A great final option is the Democracy Bond. These are monthly donations given to the DNC in an effort to put Howard Dean's 50-state strategy into action. It's a worthy cause, and a great alternative if you can't give a lot all at once (my Democracy Bond is for a mere $10/month, but it's gonna add up to a lot more than I could give otherwise). Going this route also gives the DNC a steady income so that they plan ahead with their money, and don't have to reevaluate their finances every month.

You want a good government? You get what you pay for. Do what has to be done.

picking your enemies

Everyone's still bashing the NYT for letting the cat out of the bag on the financial record surveillance. Now even their conservative colleagues in the press are jumping down their throats.

Lesson #13 on gauging authenticity: ask yourself if they're attacking all involved parties, or singling anyone out.

Guess who also broke the NYT story? Why, the Wall Street Journal, the nation's marquee conservative paper, that's who! Anyone want to venture a guess as to when Michelle Malkin will ask for them to be tried as traitors?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

great, now I"m getting mad

And while we're at it, after this recent Republican offensive, after all the vitriol spewed at the New York Times, the blogs (there's been an oddly synchronous panoply of attacks and accusations levelled specifically at Kos), Al Gore, John Murtha, and merely the simple fact that Ann the Witch is back in the news, why has there not been one single solitary member of the press in the country to utter the phrase "the Angry Right"?

losing the battle against one's own cognitive dissonance

Glenn Greenwald has penned (or shall I say... um... keyboarded?) the most insightful reaction to the Republican wankfest against the New York Times for their coverage of W's bank-record-monitoring. His attack of the assumptions of the conservative argument against the Times is cogent, for sure, but my favorite part is where he discusses how utterly unhinged many of these voices have become:
...all sorts of people who live and work in distant places that are far less likely to ever be the target of a terrorist attack so whimsically and stupidly accuse the journalists at the Times of wanting to help terrorists stage attacks against America.

That is the level of discourse and reasoning flooding the airwaves and public debates. Accordingly, the reporters of the Times are not publishing these stories because they believe that Americans ought to know about and debate the Bush administration's secret, oversight-less intelligence-gathering programs. No -- it's because they are enemies of the United States, they hate Americans, and they want to help The Terrorists stage attacks on this country (of which they are the most likely targets).

The sudden attack on the Times is truly bizarre considering that W himself bragged about "following the terrorists' money" years ago. It seems to me that, at this point, all El Presidente has left supporting him are the real hardcore Bushites, the people whom he couldn't get to stop supporting him if he armed a roadside bomb while screwing a yak on national TV (as long as it's not a gay yak). And every day it's gets harder and harder to be such a person.

Several times lately I've said that I'm glad during these dark times not to be a conservative. Because as hard as it is for me to watch a bunch of self-deluding ideologues running amok in Washington, it must be really, really hard to get everything you want, and put in all of your policies and governmental theories, and make the whole country your "Conservative Experiment," only to watch it get dashed upon the rocks of reality. All that talk of bettering the economy by lowering taxes, of the necessity of preemption and the benefits of American world hegemony, of abstinence-only sex ed, of all things "trickle-down," and now every week a new report comes out showing that, 10 years down the road, none of it works. The poor and middle class are worse off; college, gas, and health care costs have all skyrocketed; the war in Iraq has failed, and may well drag the War on Terrorism down the drain with it; and conservative policies are more unpopular than they've been in years, while liberal ones have sparked new growth (even support for gay marriage has reached a statistical dead heat in recent polls for the first time).

And to top it all off, they're losing control of the government. It becomes more likely every day that the Republican era of dominance in the House will come crashing down in November. Not only that, but every week for the last 3 weeks or so, a new Senate race with a Republican incumbent has become competitive (Burns vs. Tester in Montana, Chafee vs. Whitehouse in Rhode Island, and yes I'm counting it, Lieberman vs. Lamont in Connecticut), making even their hold on the Senate (long a conservative bastion) ever more precarious.

The kind of reaction we're seeing now to the bank records report is the natural consequence of that fact. With all this weighing on the minds of the Bushite, and languishing in a sea of opposition, they're having to make ever more absurd and desperate defensive attacks when backed into yet another corner because The Leader did something authoritarian or incompetent again. Anything to scare the others back in line; anything to draw attention away from Our Wounded Leader.

This is how the Conservative Movement is going to die: in an ever-accelerating frenzy of wildly flailing attacks against anyone and everyone they perceive to be "against us," while a mountain of evidence of corruption, secrecy, and authoritarianism compels the rest of the country, embarrassed for them and yet embarrassed to have ever supported them, to turn their backs and quietly walk away.

Limbaugh can't get it up, gets caught pill-popping again

From Miami's CBS affiliate:
Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh was detained at Palm Beach International Airport for the possible possession of illegal prescription drugs Monday evening.

Limbaugh was returning on a flight from the Dominican Republic when customs officials found a Viagra prescription that did not bear his name. Instead, the bottle of pills had the names of two doctors on it according to the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office.

Limbaugh was returning on a flight from the Dominican Republic when customs officials found a Viagra prescription that did not bear his name. Instead, the bottle of pills had the names of two doctors on it according to the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office.

Rush Limbaugh caught returning from the Dominican Republic with illegal erectile dysfunction treatment.


Seriously though, does it surprise anybody that a guy like Rush, always trying to act all macho conservative yet was too gutless to go fight when his draft number came up in Vietnam (you may remember, he got a deferment for a boil on his ass-- literally), would end up having "masculinity" issues?

How did these guys ever come to have any credibility whatsoever?

more leaking

Yes, Mr. President, you're right, of course those who leak classified information to the press should be punished.

Joe Sudbay at AMERICAblog wonders:
It's really amazing that the press corps doesn't just break in to laughter when Bush gets like sanctimonious on this subject.

As a side note, it is interesting that the Administration hasn't actually said the information was "classified," they've simply suggested it was "secret." Which, of course, would mean it was legal for the paper to publish it. Glad we don't have to watch for terminology and word-parsing in the Bush era of honesty in government.

Monday, June 26, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

In 39 years, I have never written these words in a movie review, but here they are: You owe it to yourself to see this film. If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to. -- Roger Ebert

Went to An Inconvenient Truth last weekend. Wow. Two thoughts come to mind while walking out of the theater:

1. How did we let things get this bad, despite so many warnings?

Gore walks us through a thick, meaty presentation of the evidence that mercilessly skewers all skepticism and apathy. The thesis is powerful, the science is indisputable, the consequences are dire. We need to change, and we need to do it now. Pardon the former Veep for sounding shrill, but the end of the world is at stake. Literally.

2. Boy, did we back the wrong horse in 2000 or what?

It's not exactly the world's best kept secret that I loathe our current president and am pretty sure he will be reviled by our posterity for his incompetence, his corruption, and his lack of character or substance. I'm pretty sure that even the most strident W supporters in 2000 are at least a little disappointed to know that they elevated a f*&king cartoon character to the presidency. At the same time, however, I totally fell for the "both candidates are the same" media narrative in 2000 and voted for Nader.

Of course, the last 6 years have shown beyond any doubt that I was wrong on that one, but seeing this movie showed me just how far off the mark I was in my opinion of Al Gore. The Gore we see in this film is not only articulate, knowledgable, and fluent in the hard facts and statistics of the matter at hand-- we knew Gore was all that before-- but he is also witty, charming, and sympathetic. He is an incorrigible optimist, even while soberly explaining such dire matters, and even manages the occasional joke or tongue-in-cheek moment masterfully, like someone completely comfortable in their surroundings.

Basically, nothing like the wooden, narcoleptic personality that the media tried soooo hard to convince us was Al Gore.

He's been impressive for a long time, now. Dedicating his post-presidential run years to travelling the world giving this presentation over and over again, trying to change the world for the better is a far superior use of such a man's time than the selfish, greedy pursuits of most ex-presidents and presidential candidates. Gore was doing great things long before then, however; the stands he took as a representative, and then senator, and even as VP, showed a store of wisdom, foresight, and courage rarely seen in the federal government.

I'm slowly becoming more and more convinced that the Draft Gore people, who I used to think were wackos, are right: it is Mr. Gore's patriotic duty to step up and set things right. He is the only person out there with the brass to do what needs to be done and the foresight to successfully undo the havoc that a decade and a half of conservative ideologues have recklessly wrought upon our country. He has the experience, he has the record, he has the support, and face it folks, he's already won it once (and his odds looked a lot worse then than they do now). Mr. Gore needs to give the 52% of us who foolishly voted for Bush or Nader in 2000 the chance to rectify the horrible, horrible mistake we made.

Gore for President in 2008.

Tom Tomorrow

TT is pretty funny today, as he shows us the absolutely true story of the liberal cocktail party that caused a lifelong Democrat to become a Republican.

Friday, June 23, 2006

questions nobody's asking

W sez:
"I'd like to end Guantanamo. I'd like it to be over with."

Some of the inmates would be returned to their home countries, he said. But "there are some that need to be tried in US courts. They are cold-blooded killers. They will murder someone if out on the street."

Atrios listens, and wonders:
So, presumably Bush believes that "some" or even "most" are not "cold-blooded killers." In fact, it sounds like they haven't even committed offenses which would merit being tried in a court.

How long have they been there?

5 bucks sez nobody on TV or in the papers is going to ask that question.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

a good Dem candidate on the Llano Estecado

(TX-19, a fair, representative, not-at-all gerrymandered Texas county)

I'll be damned:
Robert Ricketts is the former Director of Accounting Programs and holds an Endowed Chair in Taxation at Texas Tech University, where he has taught since 1988. He is a CPA, certified in the State of Texas in 1984, and has bachelors, masters and PhD degrees in accounting. He has practiced, studied, written and taught about tax practice and tax policy for over 20 years. He is well-prepared to go to Washington and work to resolve our nation’s serious budget problems.

Raaahhh NaaahhhBahhh (think sheep, as in voted with the GOP party line 98% of the time sheep) is a real turd of a politician, even for a Republican. Just read Ricketts' reply downthread a little to see what an awe-inspiring wanker the good people of Lubbock opted for in '04.

An artificially conservative district, but hey, ya never know.

Pentagon now publishing material to assist GOP in midterms

Not at all creepifying or inappropriate:
The meetings were followed by the distribution of a 74-page briefing book to Congressional offices from the Pentagon to provide ammunition for what White House officials say will be a central line of attack against Democrats from now through the midterm elections: that the withdrawal being advocated by Democrats would mean thousands of troops would have died for nothing, would give extremists a launching pad from which to build an Islamo-fascist empire and would hand the United States its must humiliating defeat since Vietnam.

Republicans say the cumulative effect would be to send a message of weakness to the world at a time of new threats from Iran and North Korea and would leave enemies controlling Iraq's vast oil reserves, the third largest in the world. (The book, including a chapter entitled "Rapid Response" with answers to frequent Democratic charges, was sent via e-mail to Republican lawmakers but, in an apparent mistake, also to some Democrats.)

amnesty for insurgents?

Here is the best post I've seen so far on why this bill allowing the Iraqi parliament to grant amnesty to Iraqi insurgents, even ones that have killed American soldiers, was actually supported by the Republicans and voted for by no fewer than 19 Republican senators (no Dems voted for it). Digby has found some very poignant links; I suggest you check them out.

Yet I confess, I don't get it. Seriously, I can't wrap my head around this issue. Why on earth did the Republicans support such an abomination? No amnesty for people coming to America in search of a better life, but amnesty galore for those who plant roadside bombs and shoot from the shadows at American troops? WTF?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

full day on Crapitol Hill

So earlier today the House of Representatives, led by Republicans, stalled the renewal of the Voting Rights Act. Now why on earth would the Republicans be worried about minorities voting?

This comes just after the Senate decided not to have an up-or-down vote on raising the minimum wage. Anyone care to guess what they put on the agenda instead? Rollback of the estate tax.

Republican "valyews" at work.

Had enough? Kick the bums out.

it's dupe the flagwavers day!

(George W. Bush signing his autograph-- real picture)
Remember: according to the Republicans, desecration of the flag is a heinous offense and we should set everything else aside to move a constitutional amendment saying such to the front of the line.

Republicans, those uber-patriots.

Republicans are a threat to family values

Digby has the smackdown, in the form of a Washington Monthly article outlining the marital problems of the three most likely Republican presidential candidates:
Until relatively recently, a self-confessed adulterer had never sought the presidency.
But it wasn’t until 2000 that McCain, possibly emboldened by Clinton’s survival of his scandals, became the first confessed adulterer to have the nerve to run. Now, just a few years after infidelity was considered a dealbreaker for a presidential candidate, the party that presents itself as the arbiter of virtue may field an unprecedented two-timing trifecta. McCain was still married and living with his wife in 1979 while, according to The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof, "aggressively courting a 25-year-old woman who was as beautiful as she was rich." McCain divorced his wife, who had raised their three children while he was imprisoned in Vietnam, then launched his political career with his new wife’s family money. In 2000, McCain managed to deflect media questioning about his first marriage with a deft admission of responsibility for its failure.

It’s possible that the age of the offense and McCain’s charmed relationship with the press will pull him through again, but Giuliani and Gingrich may face a more difficult challenge. Both conducted well-documented affairs in the last decade–while still in public office. Giuliani informed his second wife, Donna Hanover, of his intention to seek a separation in a 2000 press conference. The announcement was precipitated by a tabloid frenzy after Giuliani marched with his then-mistress, Judith Nathan, in New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, an acknowledgement of infidelity so audacious that Daily News columnist Jim Dwyer compared it with "groping in the window at Macy’s." In the acrid divorce proceedings that followed, Hanover accused Giuliani of serial adultery, alleging that Nathan was just the latest in a string of mistresses, following an affair the mayor had had with his former communications director.

But the most notorious of them all is undoubtedly Gingrich, who ran for Congress in 1978 on the slogan, "Let Our Family Represent Your Family." (He was reportedly cheating on his first wife at the time). In 1995, an alleged mistress from that period, Anne Manning, told Vanity Fair’s Gail Sheehy: "We had oral sex. He prefers that modus operandi because then he can say, ‘I never slept with her.’" Gingrich obtained his first divorce in 1981, after forcing his wife, who had helped put him through graduate school, to haggle over the terms while in the hospital, as she recovered from uterine cancer surgery. In 1999, he was disgraced again, having been caught in an affair with a 33-year-old congressional aide while spearheading the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton.

Mind-boggling, isn't it? The sheer breadth of the hypocrisy. Truly stunning.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

2 kidnapped US soldiers tortured

From Reuters:
Two U.S. soldiers missing in Iraq for three days have been found dead, their bodies showing signs of "barbaric" torture, an Iraqi general said on Tuesday, after an intensive hunt involving thousands of troops.
Iraqi Defense Ministry official Major General Abdul Aziz Mohammed told Reuters earlier that the bodies showed signs of "barbaric torture." He did not elaborate.

Now, I may need someone to remind me, but why exactly was it again that so many people threw such a fit about us torturing Iraqis, and about our Attorney General referring to the Geneva Convention as "quaint"? I just can't quite remember, something having to do with reciprocation or returning favors or protecting American soldiers from equal something...

This is on you, Abu Gonzalez, and everyone who helped install you.

This is on you.

Joe Klein needs a day job

Meet Joe Klein, hack of the ages:
"I was up there in the cockpit of that airplane coming into Baghdad," the President told the press corps assembled on the White House lawn after his dash into and out of the war zone last week. "It was an unbelievable, unbelievable feeling." In fact, George W. Bush's body language—let's call it the full jaunty—was reminiscent of his last, infamous cockpit trip, onto the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln in May 2003 to announce the "end" of major combat operations in Iraq, beneath a mission accomplished sign. His public language is more cautious than it used to be, but he seemed downright frothy in a private session with the congressional leadership after his press conference.

He called the new Iraqi Defense Minister an "interesting cat" and Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi, the deceased al-Qaeda leader, "a dangerous dude."

This guy is Time magazine's idea of a liberal. Sad.

Digby makes a good point about this article: why is this column about the president so... well... sexual? "The full jaunty," multiple mentions of the word "cockpit" for "airplane," the reminiscing about W's now-infamous USS Lincoln photo op (where, oddly, a number of male pundits including Chris Matthews focused on the president's codpiece), the "frothy" bit (though frankly I dunno what the hell he's talking about there).

Of course, Joe Klein is probably the only person on the planet who didn't roll their eyes when W said "interesting cat" and "dangerous dude." What an ass.

This article is also a great example of the kind of arguments--let's call them logical imperfections-- that pundits generally use in an effort to make us think that Democrats are wrong no matter what they're doing. Joe says that Kerry started out making a good speech this week,
but then—as is his awkward wont—Kerry overreacted and called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of the year. It was a proposition that garnered all of six votes on the Senate floor when Senate Republicans gleefully submitted Kerry's idea to a vote later in the week.

Ha ha, stupid Kerry, he's such a scaredy little stupidhead that he stupidly and scarededly wants out of Iraq by the end of the year!

The imminently wise and courageous Joe Klein, proud worshipper of the Presidential Codpiece, knows better, though (emphasis mine):
What can the Democrats do? They can play politics or be responsible. The political option is to embrace "cut and run"; call for an immediate withdrawal, as Kerry did; and hope the public is so sick of Bush and sick of the war that it will punish the g.o.p. in the fall. But embracing defeat is a risky political strategy, especially for a party not known for its warrior ethic. In fact, the responsible path is the Democrats' only politically plausible choice: they will have to give yet another new Iraqi government one last shot to succeed. This time, U.S. military sources say, the measure of success is simple: Operation Forward Together, the massive joint military effort launched last week to finally try to secure Baghdad, has to work. If Baghdad isn't stabilized, the war is lost. "I know it's the cliche of the war," an Army counterinsurgency specialist told me last week. "But we'll know in the next six months—and this time, it'll be the last next six months we get."

So you see, unlike John Scaredy who wants out of Iraq at the end of the year, Joe doesn't want out for another 6 months.

Bill Frist: kitty killer

Lest we forget who these people running everything really are:
There’s a potential pothole in U.S. Sen. Bill Frist’s road to the White House: He’s a confessed kitty killer.

He fessed up in his 1989 book, "Transplant," to adopting cats from shelters when he was in medical school, treating them like pets for a while, and then using them in his research experiments.
"It was, of course, a heinous and dishonest thing to do, and I was totally schizoid about the entire matter."

Meet our Senate Majority Leader, folks! Not at all like our President, who is a whole different breed of sociopath:
In the weeks before the execution, Bush says, a number of protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Karla Faye Tucker. "Did you meet with any of them?" I ask. Bush whips around and stares at me. "No, I didn't meet with any of them," he snaps, as though I've just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. "I didn't meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with Tucker, though. He asked her real difficult questions like, 'What would you say to Governor Bush?'" "What was her answer?" I wonder. "'Please,'" Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "'don't kill me.'" I must look shocked — ridiculing the pleas of a condemned prisoner who has since been executed seems odd and cruel — because he immediately stops smirking.

That snippet was penned by none other than Tucker Carlson, darling of the conservative media.

Dubai still runs American ports

Congress thumbed its nose at the American people, even going so far as to silently kill a provision that would've guaranteed US control of our ports.

Had enough yet? Vote Democratic.

the Omnivore's Dilemma

Just read The Omnivore's Dilemma. Great book, I highly recommend it. Though I may never eat corn again.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

go dad!

Apparently my dad just won the Democratic primary in Virginia. Go dad! And keep me in the loop next time!

what would we do without the Japanese?

A Japanese scientist has "reconstructed" the voices of Leonardo da Vinci and the woman in the Mona Lisa. You can listen to their voices here.

Yes, I know, the page is in Japanese. Just click the damn links.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Our media elite are idiots

Gawd what a moron. Bill Bennett, one of the foremost rightwing pundits in the media, goes on the Daily Show and gets his ass kicked by a comedian. Video via Crooks and Liars:
Stewart: So why not encourage gay people to join in in that family arrangement if that is what provides stability to a society?

Bennett: Well I think if people are already members of families...

Stewart: What? (almost spitting out his drink)

Bennett: They're sons and they're daughters..

Stewart: So that's where the buck stops, that's the gay ceiling.

Bennett: Look, it's a debate about whether you think marriage is between a man and a women.

Stewart:I disagree, I think it's a debate about whether you think gay people are part of the human condition or just a random fetish.

Seriously, Bennett comes off looking like a sputtering neanderthal as all his best arguments fall impotently under Stewart's withering sarcasm. I am truly embarrassed for the mainstream media if this guy represents their best and brightest.

Even moreso, I am embarrassed for my country if these knuckledraggers are dictating our national conversation. And you wonder why the American people are so criminally misinformed?

As a side note, look in the clipped quote above where Stewart does something I've almost never seen a "liberal" pundit do: he refuses to accept Bennett's bullshit framing of the issue. Of course this isn't about marriage being between a man and a woman. You can tell Bennett's not used to a liberal actually questioning his frames; he seems to slouch slightly, fully cognizant that he just got clowned and will have to spend the rest of the conversation in damage control. Don't accept a bullshit frame: such a basic technique in sophisticated argumentation, yet so utterly unknown among our media "elites."

In other news, here we are now, 4 years down the road of having Ann Coulter paraded across the stage of every political news show on television, years after her lifting the national discourse on Middle Eastern policy with such gems as "We should kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity," and saying that all liberals (roughly a quarter of the population) should be hung for treason, just for being liberals, and claiming the only real question about Bill Clinton was "whether to impeach or assassinate" (and that was in 1998, when Clinton was the sitting president).

Months after Coulter said in her syndicated column: "[T]he government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East and sending liberals to Guantanamo."

A year and a half since she called an incident where a student threw a pie at her "an act of terrorism" and said that New Yorkers "would immediately surrender to terrorists."

Now, after 4 years of Coulter-mania, the media is actually starting to think that maybe, just maybe, this witch is a teensy bit hateful and fringe for mainstream discourse, now that she said of the 9/11 widows: "[T]hey believed the entire country was required to marinate in their exquisite personal agony. Apparently, denouncing Bush was an important part of their closure process." [p.103] and "These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much." [p.103] (via Media Matters).

Amazing how far to the right the boundary of acceptable discourse is when it took Coulter shitting on the families of American victims of terrorism to cross it. At least there is a line, though; I was almost convinced that Coulter would dryhump Nixon's corpse on national TV for the news media to call foul on her.

Monday, June 05, 2006

another one from the "fair and balanced" files

Media Matters is pretty good at catching journalists and pundits when they screw up, though a lot of times it's fairly small or unsurprising points. Where Brock and the boys really thrive is in quickly building up a mountain of fairly small and unsurprising points, or in tracing the projection of a lie across the media landscape. Every once in a while, however, some idiot (usually from Fox News) drops their guard for a second too long, says something grossly dishonest or tries to change the story from one day to the next, and gets pwn3d by MMFA.

Which brings us to Fox News' Neil Cavuto, host of Your (Bizzaro) World. This has gotta hurt, folks. Cavuto does a segment on his show 4 days ago accusing the media of being "biased" because they've been spending sooooo much time on the Haditha massacre (ya know, the one it took the mainstream press a week to take seriously after it first broke) instead of covering Marines getting blown to bits by insurgents. The captions on the screen comprise various permutations of the word "bias," like "blatant bias" and "biased coverage."

Some of you may already see this coming.

The day before on Neil's show, however, he does a segment talking about... have you guessed it?... how the media focuses too much on Marines getting blown to bits. And the caption under that story?:

Indeed, sir.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

you in South Bend? time to write an email

Okay, everyone in SB listen up. If you watched WNDU (NBC) news last night, you may have seen a story about Count Chocola's new attack ad. The piece was horribly partisan, however, and we need to let them know we're not gonna let them skew their coverage to get "ARMPAC" Chocola re-elected.

The problems with the coverage? The big one was in what they showed. WNDU played the Count's entire commercial, nonstop and without commentary superimposed on top. So the Count got free airtime, and in the best television real estate possible (cuz, ya know, Chocola really needs the financial help, being the only Indiana House incumbent with $1 million cash on hand and all). Moveon's ad, meanwhile, was only partially played, and with Terry yapping on top of it to boot!

The other problem with the ad: Terry McFadden's tone as he talked about Moveon. His voice suddenly changed when he said, "the ad attacking Chocola, however, was paid for by Moveon, a liberal activist group." You should've heard the contempt oozing from his voice as he said those last 3 words; you'd have almost thought you were listening to, well, cable news.

Don't want your local news coddling the conservatives? There's only one solution: write a letter.


Here's a copy of the letter I sent, if you want to use it. Don't copy it verbatim, however, or else they'll think some liberal activist group is organizing it and won't take it seriously:

To Whom It May Concern,
I normally choose to watch WNDU's news shows because the anchors are likeable, thorough, and typically lack any discernible bias. This evening, however, I was appalled at Terry's piece on Chris Chocola's new attack ad. I apologize in advance for the tone of this message, but the partisanship of the story was both sudden and uncharacteristic of channel 16 news, which made the story quite upsetting. I have several issues with the presentation of the story, both in terms of content and tone.
First and foremost, WNDU only showed a brief clip of Moveon's ad, yet they played the Chocola ad in its entirety. I am well aware that the Fairness Doctrine was ditched years ago, but why is WNDU giving Chris Chocola free airtime-- and in the middle of their newscast, no less-- yet Moveon is not?
After that, Terry mentioned that (paraphrasing), "the ad against Chocola was paid for by Moveon, a liberal activist group." The tone of his voice noticeably changed at that moment, seemingly dripping with contempt at the mention of the word "liberal." Frankly, there was enough Chocola-babying in the overall "poor little Chris has to defend himself forcefully from those mean old Democrats" narrative of the piece without the anchor spitting out the word "liberal" as if it's some sort of insult.
I have always trusted WNDU, and the McFaddens, to provide me with fair and reasonably objective news, but I for one am sick and tired of seeing Republicans get preferential treatment in the media, and the next time I see it on channel 16, I will quit watching your news and urge everyone I know to do likewise.

****** ******
South Bend