Thursday, March 29, 2007

AG chief of staff admits Gonzales lied to Congress

There's going to be an impeachment over this, I can all but guarantee it. From ThinkProgress:
Today, under questioning from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sampson said, under oath, that he “shared information with anyone who wanted it.” Specifically, Sampson said he did share information with McNulty and Moschella prior to their testimonies before Congress. Schumer responded: “So the Attorney General’s statement is wrong, is false. How could it not be?” Sampson froze. Ultimately, he acknowledged Gonzales’s statement is “not accurate.”

Gonzales testified to Congress that Sampson didn't tell anyone in the Dept. what really happened in the Attorney purge, and that's why Congress got conflicting accounts between himself and others in the dept. Thinkprogress has the video, and I suggest you watch it: the most damning evidence of Gonzales' wrongdoing, in my mind, is seeing Sampson's face when Schumer springs the trap. It was pretty smart: Schumer put Sampson on his heels using Gonzales' testimony and made him defend himself against (Gonzales') charges of incompetence. The only way Sampson could defend it was by contradicting Gonzales' testimony. The look on his face when Schumer flips it around and says "So the Attorney General's statement is wrong, is false" shows pretty clearly that the gravity of what he just admitted is very serious.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

jaw-dropping shamelessness

From ThinkProgress:
This morning, the White House withdrew the nomination of Swift Boat Vets funder Sam Fox to be ambassador to Belgium. If there was any question whether the White House’s move was a gesture of good will towards Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), that has been put to rest.

During today’s press briefing, White House spokesperson Dana Perino stood by Sam Fox, calling him a qualified candidate and saying that President Bush was “disappointed” that senators had rejected him “based on partisan politics instead of his leadership abilities.”" [emphasis mine]

Do you think these guys do actually see the incredible irony of their statements and kick some sick kick out of it all?

Ladies Love Cool McCain

Here's to striking back at internet douchebags! From TechCrunch:
Someone on Presidential hopeful John McCain’s staff is going to be in trouble today. They used a well known template to create his Myspace page. The template was designed by Newsvine Founder and CEO Mike Davidson (original template is here). Davidson gave the template code away to anyone who wanted to use it, but asked that he be given credit when it was used, and told users to host their own image files.

McCain’s staff used his template, but didn’t give Davidson credit. Worse, he says, they use images that are on his server, meaning he has to pay for the bandwidth used from page views on McCain’s site.

Davidson decided to play a small prank on the campaign this morning as retribution.



From Yahoo! Music:
Michael Jackson is in discussions about creating a 50-foot robotic replica of himself to roam the Las Vegas desert, according to reports.
It has now been claimed that his plans include an elaborate show in Vegas, which would feature the giant Jacko striding around the desert, firing laser beams.

If built, the metal monster would apparently be visible to aircraft as they come in to land in the casino capital.

Snakes on a plane.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Hohoholy crap! From Pam's House Blend:
Jersey City resident Corey Andrew, like thousands of other job seekers, recently posted his profile on a popular career-based web site, hoping to nab some work as a copywriter. But the response he received was anything but typical.

The posting on brought several potential suitors, including an Army recruiter who replied in late February.

However, Andrew had no interest in joining the Army for a number of reasons, including the military's ban on openly gay and lesbian citizens from putting on the uniform. Andrew identifies himself as gay.

His lack of interest didn't stop him from asking the recruiter whether he was able to serve in the Army as a gay man. The question sparked a bizarre three-day exchange, escalating into a bigoted tirade from the recruiter and an official military investigation.

Check some of these out:

She starts another email with:

I agree with Atrios that "GAY VOODOO LIMBO TANGO AND WANGO DANCE" would actually be a pretty awesome name for a dance, or sans the "DANCE" perhaps a bizarre retelling of 5 of the 7 dwarves, but in all seriousness, can you believe this woman is a military recruiter?

I don't actually have anything profound to talk about, I just thought I'd pass this along.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Looks like the debate over the infamous Lancet study gauging the number of Iraqi dead in excess of 650,000 just got hotter. From the BBC:
The British government was advised against publicly criticising a report estimating that 655,000 Iraqis had died due to the war, the BBC has learnt.

Iraqi Health Ministry figures put the toll at less than 10% of the total in the survey, published in the Lancet.

But the Ministry of Defence's chief scientific adviser said the survey's methods were "close to best practice" and the study design was "robust".

Another expert agreed the method was "tried and tested".

An in-depth analysis of the study for scientific technobabble types is here, and for the "quick and dirty,"I explained briefly what the study looked at here:
...the more you think about it, the more reasonable the number sounds. Remember, this is only gauging the number of excess deaths in Iraq since the invasion began, compared to the pre-invasion death rate. So not only were civilians included who died in airstrikes or gunfire, but also all the policemen and Iraqi security forces who've died, all the people killed by other Iraqi forces, all the people who've contracted diseases in places without adequate medical facilities, everyone who got sick from contaminated water, heart disease-related deaths due to extra stress and/or air pollution from smoke and jet/hummer fuel... The list of extra hazards and dangers one would face in a failed state with essentially no infrastructure whatsoever would be enormous.

Furthermore, you have to remember that the media is only able to report the relatively small percentage of deaths that happen in areas where it's safe for said media to travel, and in the relatively few instances when they're allowed into places like morgues. The morgues don't allow them in except in special cases, and the authorities are less than forthright with casualty stats even when they know about all of them.

an eye-opening quip from Chris Matthews

Getting actual information and informed commentary from today's national press is a funny thing. Guys like Chris Matthews have been in "the biz" for aeons and you know they have the ability to provide us with the kind of necessary institutional memory that allows us to, say, monitor the ideological drifts of major newspapers. Despite that, however, it must be some huge faux pas in Washington for media types to admit that any journalistic publication is even capable of ever beginning to skew rightward (though hyperconservative wackos can allege liberal bias sans evidence all day long without ever getting called on it), or otherwise they're all so awash in ideological blindness that it's become all but impossible to identify rightwing bias when they see it, so it's a bit mind-blowing to hear Matthews come right out and, as a side comment, say this:

Friday, March 23, 2007

to all pet owners out there

You probably already know about the recall of Menufoods' products, like Iams and Science Diet. You may not, however, have known this:
A Chicago woman sued Menu Foods on Tuesday, alleging the pet food manufacturer delayed announcing a recall of 60 million containers of dog and cat food despite knowing its products were contaminated and potentially deadly.

Dawn Majerczyk, 43, said her orange tabby, Phoenix, fell sick last week just two days after he ate a single package of Special Kitty. It is one of 95 cat and dog food brands recalled by Menu Foods of Canada. Friday's recall came two weeks after nine cats died during routine company taste tests of its products, the Food and Drug Administration said. [emphasis mine]

Kinda scary sometimes, the kind of people we trust to make things like food for our pets. The list of affected brands for cats, and for dogs, is astounding. How many cats and dogs in the US and Canada eat at least a can of Iams or the generics for chains like Meijer, Winn Dixie, and Food Lion in an average two week period, I wonder?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Thank God for Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy learns former chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Arlen Specter a thing or two about backbone.
Imagine the pathetic whitewash that would've ended this whole scandal under Arlen Specter's bootlicking leadership.

strength and honesty in Raleigh/Durham today

Did you see the Edwards press conference today? As you've certainly heard, Elizabeth has bone cancer. It's uncurable, but treatable, and they're going to continue the campaign barring things turning for the worse. Them Edwardses is classy folks.

And how 'bout that Elizabeth? So strong!

I have to say, I've never seen such a humanizing effect on a presidential candidate before. John and Elizabeth looked like the kind of people who live on my street, and the way they corrected each other and finished each other's sentences and riffed off of each other's thoughts was very endearing.

To me, this presser cast the right's attacks on John Edwards as girly in the kind of absurdist, character assassinating light they deserve. The point of the attack is to assault Edwards' "strength," to call him weak and vain compared to strong, by and large ugly Republicans who have no qualms about risking other people's lives for questionable objectives. Sorry guys, but seeing John (not to mention Elizabeth!) at that presser today, I can't think of 2 words that fit him less. It takes incredible fortitude and strength of will to mount an outsider presidential campaign, but to do it while going through this? To get in front of the cameras with the whole country watching, and just lay out your major personal health problems the day after you found out, and then take unscripted questions afterwards?

Folks, that is what strength looks like. That's also, incidentally, what honesty looks like, and it's been a while since we've seen any genuine examples of that, too.

I've dwelled a lot lately on negative traits and how they reinforce each other, particularly corruption and incompetence, or spun another way, secrecy and weakness. One can see without an abundance of imagination how the two have a symbiotic relationship, each feeding off of the other. It's the same, however, with their opposites: personal strength and honesty, or perhaps to put a finer point on it, the trait that stems from personal strength, integrity and honesty. A person with integrity eschews lies and embraces truth, s/he's straight with people, while honesty keeps enough light shining in on them to keep them from slipping. The honesty "keeps them honest," as it were. It's the rationale behind oversight. And there's the point at which the differences between the Bush Administration and an Edwards Administration are most stark: oversight wouldn't pose the same problem for Edwards, because Edwards has a belief system that's amenable to it and a personality that can thrive under it.

In other words, John Edwards is the man George W. Bush pretended to be in 2000.

No! It CAN'T be true!

As Upton Sinclair famously said, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

Meet Senator James Inhofe:
Top contributor for 2006 by industry sector, 1) Energy and Natural Resources: $604,965.

Top contributor for 2006 by industry: 1) Oil and Gas: $319,708, 2) Electric Utilities: $195,907.

Top individual contributors for 2006, 1) Murray Energy Corp: $22,800, 2) Koch Industries: $22,750

Travel Financed by Special Interests for 2006 Cycle: 34 trips

Total Cost of trips: $45,131.92

Sponsor of most trips: Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Assn.

Top contributor for 2004 by industry sector, 1) Energy and Natural Resources: $590,219.

Top contributor for 2004 by industry: 1) Oil and Gas: $304,156, 2) Electric Utilities: $188,713.

Top individual contributors for 2004, 1) Murray Energy Corp: $33,200, 2) Koch Industries: $22,750

Top contributor for 2002 Election by industry sector, 1) Energy and Natural Resources: $533,519.

Top contributor for 2002 Election by industry: 1) Oil and Gas: $284,706, 2) Electric Utilities: $162,213.

Top individual contributors for 2002 Election, 1) National Republican Senatorial Cmte $33,500, 2) Murray Energy Corp: $33,200, 3) Koch Industries: $16,750

I know, I know, you could've guessed as much without the proof, but Senator "No queers in my family line!" Inhofe pissed me off yesterday by doing his moronic grandstanding with Big Oil's most misleading talking points.

Hey Jimmy boy, Al Gore doesn't think those "thousands of scientists" are wrong and he's right; he thinks they're wrong and the vast majority of scientists worldwide are right. As well as those of us with a 9th grade science education. Or are the nation's science teachers also in on what must now be the world's largest conspiracy ever?

James Inhofe, R-Exxon.

miscarriage of justice

The US Attorney purge scandal is turning out to be a lot bigger than anyone thought, partly because, like the Jack Abramoff scandal, every turn opens up a new, heretofore unknown scandal within the scandal. The scandal of firing Carol Lam right after her indictment of the former 3rd in command of the CIA shifted to news that 7 other attorneys had been fired at the same time to news that they were all high-performers (just how high, we're beginning to find out) to David Iglesias' wild ride. A couple of days ago, however, a whole new and chilling aspect of this scandal dawned on people: if these 8 were fired because they wouldn't manipulate their offices to help the GOP, what does that say about the other 85?

We're starting to find out. From ePluribus Media:
We compare political profiling to racial profiling by presenting the results (January 2001 through December 2006) of the U.S. Attorneys' federal investigation and/or indictment of 375 elected officials. The distribution of party affiliation of the sample is compared to the available normative data (50% Dem, 41% GOP, and 9% Ind.).

Data* indicate that the offices of the U.S. Attorneys across the nation investigate seven (7) times as many Democratic officials as they investigate Republican officials, a number that exceeds even the racial profiling of African Americans in traffic stops.

What you're beginning to see form is a miscarriage of justice on a level normally only seen in 3rd world banana republics. It shouldn't even have to be said, but when a political party is allowed to manipulate the very justice system itself, the rule of law, the underpinning of our entire system of government and the sum total of its legitimacy, is undermined.

A simple statistic isn't necessarily proof, as we all know the numbers can be manipulated, but new revelations prove even more damning. One of the big corruption cases of the Bush Administration was the New Hampshire phone-jamming scandal, where the NH GOP paid a company to inundate the Democratic party's GOTV lines on election day. From TPM Muckraker:
In a detailed, 10-page letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) signed by Kathleen Sullivan, chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, and Paul Twomey, a lawyer for the Democrats, they argue that the investigation, which targeted prominent operatives in the Republican Party, was stalled and mishandled.
One of the reasons the investigation was stalled, Democrats argue, is that "all decisions had to be reviewed by the Attorney General himself" -- first John Ashcroft and then Alberto Gonzales. To back up that claim, the Democrats say that lawyers working on the case were told by prosecutors that delays in the case were due to the extreme difficulty in obtaining authorization from higher levels at DOJ for any and all actions in the case.
The Democrats' other grievances, which they lay out in the letter, are 1) that the Justice Department bogged the investigation down by assigning only one FBI agent to the case -- and that agent was part-time 2) that the DoJ's refusal to prosecute the organziations responsible for the jamming, the New Hampshire Republican Party and the Republican National Committee, violated Justice Department guidelines, and 3) the DoJ failed to follow leads that led to higher-level Republican involvement.

Then there's the issue of a certain landmark case against one of the GOP's most infamous supporters. From The Washington Post (c/o Josh Marshall):
The leader of the Justice Department team that prosecuted a landmark lawsuit against tobacco companies said yesterday that Bush administration political appointees repeatedly ordered her to take steps that weakened the government's racketeering case.

Sharon Y. Eubanks said Bush loyalists in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's office began micromanaging the team's strategy in the final weeks of the 2005 trial, to the detriment of the government's claim that the industry had conspired to lie to U.S. smokers.

She said a supervisor demanded that she and her trial team drop recommendations that tobacco executives be removed from their corporate positions as a possible penalty. He and two others instructed her to tell key witnesses to change their testimony. And they ordered Eubanks to read verbatim a closing argument they had rewritten for her, she said.

"The political people were pushing the buttons and ordering us to say what we said," Eubanks said. "And because of that, we failed to zealously represent the interests of the American public."

If that didn't give you a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, you need to have your outrage-o-meter recalibrated. Here we have the Bush Administration tampering with the justice system to throw cases for powerful donors. How many other cases are there where something like this happened? How many other times have Bush's appointees subverted justice to protect powerful friends, or the Administration itself?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

update on the US Attorney purge

So far as I can tell, the Administration's defense now is: the White House advisors never talked to the President, and he'll go to the mat to make sure they don't have to swear to Congress that nothing happened, because if they have to swear then that means the truth (which is that nothing happened) won't be discovered. The nothing that happened, happened at the pleasure of the president in accordance with standard practice. And it's all Justice's fault.

Gore back in Congress

Al Gore testified today to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce over climate change. Watched part of it. All I have to say is I was feeling pretty blue (pun intended) about how Joe Barton always manages to make Texans look like chest-thumping, sanctimonious dumbasses, but then I remembered that James Inhofe, sanctimonious dumbass extraordinaire, represents Oklahoma, and I felt a little better.

FOX News rots your brain

Boy, W sure does sound great when your coverage is fair and balanced! From Political Wire:
According to a poll conducted by Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, in 2004, "Fox News viewers supported George Bush over John Kerry by 88% to 7%. No demographic segment, other than Republicans, was as united in supporting Bush. Conservatives, white evangelical Christians, gun owners, and supporters of the Iraq war all gave Bush fewer votes than did regular Fox News viewers." [emphasis mine]

For those keeping track, the difference in this poll between the number of viewers who supported Kerry and the tiny third category who supported neither (in 2004, the most hotly contested election in recent memory, mind you) was statistically insignificant.

Amazing that it took this long for people in power to start openly questioning FOX's legitimacy.

a primer on the coming constitutional crisis

Here is a quick-and-dirty rundown of the constitutional issue of congressional subpoenas and the full implications of W's willingness to burn the whole house down, from Kagro X at dKos. A sampling:
Realize that the resolution of this stand-off will determine the extent to which the Congress is able to investigate everything that's still on their plate. If they lose this showdown, they lose their leverage in investigating NSA spying, the DeLay/Abramoff-financed Texas redistricting, Cheney's Energy Task Force, the political manipulation of science, the Plame outing... everything.

The entirety of the Dems tenure in congressional leadership has been building up to this confrontation. In my opinion, it was inevitable. They've let this bull run amok in our china shop for far too long under the cowed GOP leadership and the cowed Dem leadership before that.

It's time for the corraling.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

a government so dysfunctional it might drown on its own

It appears the light suddenly shining in on the Justice Dept. from the US Attorney purge is causing some internal problems. From U.S. News and World Report's blog:
The Justice Department now says the document dump will contain closer to 2000 documents.

"You have no idea," said one Justice official, "how bad it is here."

The fear that virtually any piece of communication will have to be turned over has paralyzed department officials' ability to communicate effectively and respond in unison to the crisis, as has the fact that senior Justice officials themselves say they still don't know the entire story about what happened that led to the crisis. So they are afraid that anything they put down on paper could be viewed as lies or obfuscation, when in fact, the story is changing daily as new documents are found and as the Office of Legal Counsel conducts its own internal probe into the matter.

The paralysis will affect the calculations that Gonzales must make this week as to whether he should stay or go. If Gonzales doesn't resign, there's little doubt that he will get few of his initiatives through for the rest of his tenure and that his people will spend months churning out documents at the behest of angry Democrats who will be investigating virtually anything that moves. But this could also give Gonzales an exit strategy, officials say. He could say that while neither he nor his subordinates did anything wrong, he has decided to resign for the greater good of the department and for justice at large.

Hmm, the Dems will investigate "anything that moves?" Even bad news is great news for the Bush Administration since it gives Gonzales "an exit strategy?" Later it says Bush is "stubbornly loyal" (as we can see from this purge, or from the disappearance of virtually his entire staff after the '04 election?). Amazing that people would deign to say USNWR has a rightwing slant!

Despite how hard Chitra Ragavan is trying to spin this as bad PR for, of all people, Democrats, what this snippet actually shows is the spectacularly poor administrative skills of this administration, and of Attorney General Gonzales in particular. How could staffers be so concerned about whether they're distributing "lies and obfuscation," unless they actually are lying and obfuscating in their emails? Is Justice now so mired in deceit, obstruction, and political intrigues that it's incapable of functioning while responsible parties are conducting oversight? Is it really so poorly run, and has corruption, incompetence, and corner-cutting so deeply infested the dept. on Gonzales' watch, that the staff no longer feels confident that it knows the difference between legal and illegal procedure? The friggin' Dept. of Justice?

Apparently so: it's not just in their intra-dept. communications, people. It's in their handling of criminal suspects as well.

It's interesting to look at the relationship between these stories: we're actually starting to see an economy of corruption, how it engenders and then feeds off of incompetence and secrecy. The 3 have a symbiotic relationship, and I'm finding more and more that you don't find one without the others.

As Joel Salatin (of The Omnivore's Dilemma fame, and in a different context) said, light and fresh air are the best sterilizers in the world.

Friday, March 16, 2007

eat it, Bush apologists

Indisputable proof that Valerie Plame was covert. A crime was committed.

GOP: Washingtonians aren't real Americans

From The Washington Post (c/o Kos):
A congressional committee approved a bill yesterday granting the District a full vote in the House of Representatives, giving the measure its first victory in what will probably be weeks of fierce wrangling as it moves through Congress.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform voted 24 to 5 for the bill, an endorsement its supporters expected. But in a likely sign of things to come, there was feisty sparring, with opponents calling the measure unconstitutional and marshaling amendments to derail it.

One amendment, which was successfully attached to the bill, seeks to prevent the District from eventually getting voting representatives in the Senate.
Even if it clears the House, though, the bill faces big hurdles. It would have to be approved by the Senate, where so far it has elicited little support from Republicans. It also would have to be signed by President Bush, whose staff has expressed doubts about its constitutionality. If it succeeds in becoming law, it will almost certainly face a court challenge.

In yesterday's committee session, several of the bill's opponents focused on the constitutionality of the measure. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) said he had an added worry: that the bill would merely be the start of an offensive by the District to secure Senate representation.

So did you get that? Citizens of Washington, D.C.-- American citizens-- have no real representation in Congress; their consolation prize is a single non-voting representative in the House. Democrats are trying to get DCers the same representation in the House that everyone else already gets, and Republicans won't support it because it could lead to them getting representation in the Senate, too.

This really should be simple: American citizens living in DC deserve the same representation as people everywhere else in the country, and anyone who believes Congress shouldn't move mountains to guarantee every citizen full representation has no business serving in an elected federal office. If you don't get that most fundamental kernel of American democracy, then I don't see how you can possibly be morally or intellectually equipped to make, execute, or interpret laws in this country. Every American citizen has the basic, inalienable right to representation in the federal government by a congressperson and 2 senators. Period.

If that is not true, then why did we declare independence from England? Remember "taxation without representation?"

Since the Constitution doesn't grant DC an equal number of congresspeople and senators, an amendment likely must be passed. This is not controversial, however, seeing as we've passed several amendments over the years granting more and more Americans the right to full representation, normally via expanding voting rights.

Why is this even in dispute? It can't be simply because the Constitution doesn't currently allow it; after all, the GOP has shown no such aversion to amending the constitution in the case of gay marriage, for instance. One reason, and one reason alone: Republicans don't want 2 more Democratic senators:
One amendment, which was successfully attached to the bill, seeks to prevent the District from eventually getting voting representatives in the Senate.
In yesterday's committee session, several of the bill's opponents focused on the constitutionality of the measure. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) said he had an added worry: that the bill would merely be the start of an offensive by the District to secure Senate representation.
Republicans are willing to deny American citizens the right to representation in the government if it buys their party more power in the senate.

How, then, could these Republicans possibly deny that they put their party over their country?

Really puts their recent attempts to "fix" election troubles with voter ID laws and purged voter rolls into perspective, doesn't it?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Please, Salon, get Camille Paglia off my browser!

When I think of Camille Paglia's writing, I think of a chutney-covered ricecake: lots of hip, snappy, intellectual-sounding ingredients on top with no substance whatsoever underneath. For all the academic vocabulary this woman uses, she has nothing insightful to say, being content instead to foist poorly researched triangulations and reflexive regurgitation of rightwing arguments that haven't been anywhere near true for many years (if they were ever true at all).

I feel like I'm reading Joe Klein, if Joe Klein did nothing but watch FOX News all day.

For instance, if you were to read her tripe today, you'd never guess that Clinton did not, in fact, give an entire sermon in a faux-drawl, but instead was merely quoting a southern writer. You would, however, get the sense that the media really is liberal, contrary to a number of Media Matters studies which show a persistent conservative slant in all major networks' coverage of news and in their talking head lineups, contrary to the lack of a motive for a corporate news agency to espouse liberal views, and despite the lack of any evidence for her case whatsoever-- as well as contrary to what everyone saw with their own eyes in election 2000. You'd have just read her argument that if FOX News just admitted they were a propaganda outlet for the GOP like Rush Limbaugh then it would be hunky dory for them to host a Democratic debate (because FOX News treated the Dem debates in '04 so fairly, dontcha know-- and does she actually think that Rush Limbaugh would be a valid person to host a debate?). And, as the fly on the turd, you'd have been told flat-out that Ann Coulter is a "feminist."

Then there was this:
"Of course, any Salon readers who still follow the mainstream media out of numbed habit will never have heard Hillary's most extreme flights of faux gemutlichkeit. All that Sunday, network radio news, for example, betrayed its liberal bias by running clips of only her noblest phrases. Heaven help any Republican who had made so lurid a gaffe!"

Yes, this is clearly an example of liberal bias, because if a conservative running for president ever made serious verbal gaffes or put on a comicbook accent, the media would make sure he could never win.

That quote was right before a "Thank God for Matt Drudge!" moment that really says all that needs to be said.

Seriously, what does she offer that we don't already get from every preening, uninformed conservative in the media today?

neoconservatism, in 5 simple lessons

Creepy. It cannot be said frequently or loudly enough: neoconservatism is unamerican. It goes against everything we stand for; neoconservatives wants to change us into the very empire we have defined ourselves against since we broke away from it over 2 centuries ago.

Bob Shrum: countering sound judgment since 1976

Why does anybody listen to this hack? (via Digby):
WASHINGTON (AP) - Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards was skeptical about voting for the Iraq war resolution and was pushed into it by advisers looking out for his political future, according to an upcoming book by one of his former consultants.
Democratic strategist Bob Shrum writes in his memoir to be published in June that he regrets advising Edwards to give President Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq. He said if Edwards had followed his instincts instead of the advice of political professionals, he would have been a stronger presidential candidate in 2004.
Shrum writes that Edwards, then a North Carolina senator, called his foreign policy and political advisers together in his Washington living room in the fall of 2002 to get their advice. Edwards was "skeptical, even exercised" about the idea of voting yes and his wife Elizabeth was forcefully against it, according to Shrum.
But Shrum said the consensus among the advisers was that Edwards, just four years in office, did not have the credibility to vote against the resolution and had to support it to be taken seriously on national security. Shrum said Edwards' facial expressions showed he did not like where he was being pushed to go. [emphasis in Attytood's post, but probably not in original report]

As Digby correctly notes, even without the benefit of hindsight this advice is so patently myopic that it's amazing anyone ever paid this wanker to consult a campaign for the local school board:
The mistake was not only in the rank immorality of voting for this ridiculous war (on the basis of 10 points in the polls, no less.) It was also a huge tactical political error. If the war went well, it was going to be nearly impossible to beat Bush in 2004 and everyone knew it. If the war was going badly, then a vote for it was going to tie these candidates up in knots and make them look weak and irresolute, which is exactly what happened to Kerry. There was no margin in Democratic presidential candidates voting for the war.

Will Bunch points back to a Washington Post article that covers a little of Shrum's history. Folks, this guy has consulted 8 presidential campaigns, including two against George W. Bush, the depth of whose personality flaws is matched only by his intellectual ones ("peeance and freeance," anyone?), and he has never won. Never. His tutelage helped make war hero John Kerry look like less of a man than his draft-dodging opponent. Thanks in part to his advice, the prescient climate change crusader Al Gore looked like a serial liar who had no more to say about the environment than his oilman opponent who's entire public face was a fraud conceived in 1999.

And now we see he convinced John Edwards to sell out on his better judgment to make the biggest mistake of his political career. What would have happened if all of those people looking for a candidate smart enough to see the war for what it was had not only Howard Dean, but also John Edwards? It's hard to see Kerry having survived the primary had Edwards been able to say that he was in the Senate, too, and he had the good sense to vote nay (and that's assuming Edwards wouldn't have poached a lot of Dean's followers in the process!).

This is what when there are no hiring consequences to advising Democrats and losing. This shit doesn't happen in the GOP because if you can't win, they will cut your ass loose without thinking twice. Is it any surprise that they've been more successful campaigners despite being on the wrong side of virtually every major issue lately?

Kos, who devoted part of his book to the consultant problem, distilled his commentary on this revelation in one word: Dumbass.

One slightly more positive note, however: this article sure does make you love Elizabeth Edwards even more, doesn't it?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dear Attorney General Gonzales

Far be it for me to give such a learned, accomplished lawyer as yourself a lesson in criminal law, but FYI: when you "give inaccurate information" to Congress, and you do it right after being sworn in, there's an actual, technical term for it: perjury.

Thanks for being such a sport,
el ranchero

morals in the military

Think Progress:
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace said today that homosexuality is “immoral” and that he supports Don’t Ask Don’t Tell because “we should not condone immoral acts.” In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Pace also compared homosexuality to adultery, claiming that the military should “not tolerate” homosexuality just as it rejects “military members who sleep with other military members’ wives.”

Pace's declaration of the necessity of morality in the military, while odd to hear from a general and chief of staff in any case, would sound less grossly hypocritical if he weren't sending injured troops back to Iraq, or had more qualms about not properly equipping combat troops with things like body armor, or was prepared to explain how, exactly, he would make up for the shortfall in troop levels in key positions due to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" seeing as it's, ya know, the troops who suffer most when we have such shortfalls. Not even the "it's just how I was raised" defense protects against that.

inside baseball-- on the myth of "doing well while doing good"

I call this post "inside baseball" because it's about blogger/"netroots" scuttlebutt and insider issues. I try to stay out of this crap normally because, frankly, for most people it's not that interesting, but I had to say something here.

Most of us starry-eyed idealists have a cause that we believe in, a vision of "the greater good" to which we commit ourselves, be it religious, political, social, or all 3. We join together in common cause and form movements to change society for the better. Some of us, however, get too wrapped up in, say, personal ambition and the desire for "fame" in whatever size circle that may be along the way, and it almost inevitably comes at odds with the work we originally set out to do. And for many, myself included, our abilities don't quite match our ambitions. In some cases, such people grow envious of others who have been more successful in the cause, and manage to lose all perspective in seeking to supplant that person instead of working together for the greater good (call this the "Cain and Abel" complex).

And the smarter members of the opposition are always ready to capitalize on it to strike a blow against the whole movement.

Maryscott's "cry me a river" act has been needing calling out for a long time. MLW gets way more traffic than a lot of sites, and is quite successful for what it is (i.e., a political blog). That being said, it will never be near the size of dKos because Maryscott and the writers there got hung up on their cliquish condescension of all bigger, less ideologically pure blogs and their needless offending of every demographic that isn't stereotypically "left." In my opinion, the scatterspray tactics and self-centered whining do more harm than good at the end of the day, but hey, it's her blog. Anyway, I'm no fan, but even I never thought she'd actually do this.

I can't imagine that interview going any better for Gibson, FOX News, and conservatism, and all he had to do was let her talk.

And, for the record: if you think Daily Kos is "centrist," you need to get out more.

Monday, March 12, 2007

the Gonzales 7

Even though Walter Reed is getting all the attention (and by the way, as if that story isn't bad enough, Salon is reporting that the Bush Administration is sending injured troops back to Iraq), it is the US Attorney purge scandal that has the most significant ramifications for the government. I first touched on the scandal here, and providing a touch of background, but I really just wanted to focus on a small part of the mess in New Mexico. Today, I want to pull the camera back and show "the big picture" (and wow, is it ever big on this one).

TPMMuckraker, by the way, is far and away the best place to go for information on this scandal, and I strongly recommend taking a stroll down their website.

The scandal deals with the firings of 8 US Attorneys, all Republican, all Bush appointees, from around the country. US Attorneys serve "at the pleasure of the president," meaning they have all the job security of a union agitator at Wal-Mart, but the issue is that 4 or 5 of them (Carol Lam in California, John McKay in Washington state, David Iglesias of New Mexico, and Bud Cummins of Arkansas) have admitted that they were leaned on to overprosecute Democrats or underprosecute Republicans before they were ultimately canned, at least a couple of said instances having clearly been attempts to sway the '06 midterm elections.

First of all, it is increasingly likely that these attorneys were actually conscientious exceptions of a much larger pool of pushed prosecutors. From an academic study of corruption prosecutions by US Attorneys, via ePluribus Media :
Data* indicate that the offices of the U.S. Attorneys across the nation investigate seven (7) times as many Democratic officials as they investigate Republican officials, a number that exceeds even the racial profiling of African Americans in traffic stops.

The performances of these 7 oddballs, with the exception of Nevada's Daniel Bogden, didn't mesh with the greater pattern very well.

Secondly, the Administration's touch is all over this scandal. Shall we count the officials involved? Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is not only the boss of these 7, but was the one who did the firing. He was empowered to replace the attorneys with anyone he wanted (and without congressional approval) thanks to a little-known provision to, you guessed it, the USA PATRIOT Act, inserted by an Arlen Specter staffer unbeknownst even to Specter himself (or so we're expected to believe, anyway). One of the attorneys, Bud Cummins of Arkansas, was fired by then-White House counsel Harriet Miers. Karl Rove was urged by the NM GOP chief to can Iglesias, about whom he simply quipped "He's gone" (Not long before Rove's entry into the scandal, it had been reported that the Justice Dept. fired the attorneys "with input from the White House", and more details since have come out about Turdblossom's involvement). Deputy White House counsel William Kelly is being requested for an interview on the matter by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The scandal could also taint a number of congressional Republicans, as well. Aside from Arlen Specter (who is all over this scandal), Heather Wilson, Pete Domenici, John Kyl, and Doc Hastings, who you may remember was placed by Tom Delay to head the Ethics Committee after it had proven, shall we say, "troublesome" under Joel Hefley.

Amongst all this chaos of sleaze, however, there is a hard core. A "center" of the controversy. The point that provides the necessary perspective for all the other points. It's the story of a trial in San Diego of a comically corrupt congressman named Duke Cunningham. After his conviction, the prosecutor got one of his bribers, Mitchell Wade, to snitch on some other people involved. Then, just before the firings, the prosecutor rolled out indictments for defense contractor Brent Wilkes and the former executive director of the CIA, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo.

That prosecutor was the recently-fired US Attorney Carol Lam of San Diego.

The issue of Lam's firing as a way to derail her ever-evolving investigation into the hydra-like circle of GOP corruption should be the focal point of all discussion of the issue, as it's where the Administration and the party at large had the most to lose, and thus the most incentive to act, and it's where the greatest effect will be felt. From Josh Marshall:
Now let's cut to the chase, the big story at the heart of all of this: San Diego and the firing of Carol Lam.

Given what we know about New Mexico and Washington state, it simply defies credulity to believe that Lam -- in the midst of an historic corruption investigation touching the CIA, the White House and major Republican appropriators on Capitol Hill -- got canned because she wasn't prosecuting enough immigration cases. Was it the cover? Sure. The reason? Please.

I'm not sure Lam would have been canned simply for prosecuting Cunningham. His corruption was so wild and cartoonish that even a crew with as little respect for the rule of law would have realized the impossibility of not prosecuting him. But she didn't stop there. She took her investigation deep into congressional appropriations process -- kicking off a continuing probe into the dealings of former Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis. She also followed the trail into the heart of the Bush CIA. Those two stories are like mats of loose threads. That's where the story lies.

I have a feeling they'll offer up Gonzales' head to placate the Democrats before they'll reinstate Lam. Prosecutors who give primacy to the rule of law are trouble in this administration.

Friday, March 09, 2007

everyone's favorite pastime... developing top 10 lists

Now it seems the recording industry's doing it as a gimmick to sell albums. I wouldn't pay too much attention to their list, it makes little sense (except, as Salon notes, from a marketing standpoint). I'll join in the fun here, though, and I suggest you do, too.

First, a note about my hermeneutic. What factors should we use to evaluate albums: sales, influence, proportion of good tracks to filler, or stuff that just plain RAWKS? Obviously, many factors should be weighed, though I personally am going to give influence on later music a position of primacy, followed by "rockin'"-ness, then the other stuff. I'm also going to stick to rock, for fear of venturing too far out of my element.

1. The Beatles' White album
2. Bob Dylan's The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
3. The Jimi Hendrix Experience's Electric Ladyland
4. The Sex Pistols' Nevermind the Bollocks
5. Grateful Dead's American Beauty
7. Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here
8. U2's The Joshua Tree
9. Cream's Disraeli Gears
10. Nirvana's Nevermind

I've obviously missed glam rock entirely, and that did take up the better part of a decade's worth of rock, but I feel that, for one, it was a shitty era with no one worth replacing any of the albums above, and for two, the things worth remembering and that were worth passing along from glam were borrowed from Hendrix, Floyd, and Cream.

As with any list, there were albums I wanted to add but couldn't, so here's a quick and dirty 11-20, in the order I thought of them:
11. Tool, Anima
12. Metallica, Master of Puppets
13. Elvis Presley, self-titled
14. Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run
15. The Doors, self-titled
16. The Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers
17. Led Zeppelin, IV
18. R.E.M., Green
19. The Pixies, Doolittle
20. fine, Bon Jovi, Slippery When Suck

"easy access to guns"

From The New York Times:
Violent crime rose by double-digit percentages in cities across the country over the last two years, reversing the declines of the mid-to-late 1990s, according to a new report by a prominent national law enforcement association.

While overall crime has been declining nationwide, police officials have been warning of a rise in murder, robbery and gun assaults since late 2005, particularly in midsize cities and the Midwest. Now, they say, two years of data indicates that the spike is more than an aberration.

“There are pockets of crime in this country that are astounding,” said Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, which is releasing the report on Friday. “It’s gone under the radar screen, but it’s not if you’re living on the north side of Minneapolis or the south side of Los Angeles or in Dorchester, Mass.”

Local police departments blame several factors: the spread of methamphetamine use in some Midwestern and Western cities, gangs, high poverty and a record number of people being released from prison. But the biggest theme, they say, is easy access to guns and a willingness, even an eagerness, to settle disputes with them, particularly among young people.

Hmm, I thought I remembered something happening 2 years ago that conservatives assured us, over the protests of police unions and law enforcement agencies, would have no effect on violent crime. Nah, just a figment of my imagination.

I know, I know, post hoc, ergo propter hoc. Still, the timing is uncanny. Funny thing is, I'm actually not a big believer in gun control, but now I'm second-guessing myself.

Jose Padilla-- why this case matters

I had intended to write something on the Padilla case and its developments when we heard recently that, amazingly, Padilla was ruled competent to stand trial. has a good article on the background of the case and where it currently stands (the article, however, does not mention the recent and highly convenient misplacement of the tape of Padilla's final interrogation by the Pentagon). Suffice it to say, the government's treatment of Padilla, who is an American citizen, is not quite as much fitting of the term "Kafkaesque" as "Koestleresque" (for those of you unfamiliar with Darkness at Noon, I'm referring to the "semi-torture" to which the main character Rubashov is subjected alongside the "Kafkaesqueness" of his charges and trial, much of which we know Padilla to have also suffered).

Elaine Cassel notes in the Findlaw article that U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke, who is currently presiding over Padilla's case, pretty much had to rule him competent based on the absurdity of the bar for using post-traumatic stress disorder as the basis for incompetency (and, from my non-lawyer perspective, Cassel's reasoning appears sound). The cases cited where such a defense was effective are about as laughably ridiculous as one could possibly imagine:
Consider the case of Russell Weston, who in 1998 stormed the U.S. Capitol building with a .38 caliber handgun. He was on a mission, he said, to dismantle the "Ruby Satellite System" that was spreading a deadly disease. He shot and killed two police officers because, he said, they were getting in the way of his reaching the controls of the system. However, he explained, they only appeared to be dead; they would wake up when he gave the order.

Weston was found incompetent, and ordered to be medicated in order to regain competence. To this day he is hospitalized in a North Carolina federal prison hospital, still being medicated. Even the government's experts say that Weston will likely never be competent to be tried.

A more recent example is Andrea Yates, the Texas mother who murdered her five children by drowning. (I discussed the Yates case in a prior column.) She was originally found to be incompetent because she was diagnosed as being profoundly depressed reported auditory hallucinations. She was hospitalized, medicated, found competent, and tried within three months.

If this is an accurate representation of the bar for PTSD-based incompetency, then it is perhaps understandable that Padilla did not qualify, as almost no one ever would, including many people who, by any reasonable standards, would be incompetent to stand trial.

His lawyers are now pushing for a dismissal based on egregiously inhumane conduct on the part of the government, and that makes a lot of sense considering what he went through. Glenn Greenwald has been on this case for a long time, and discusses Mr. Padilla's treatment here. It's a long post, and I suggest you read the whole thing, but here's a snippet:
For nearly two years – from June 9, 2002 until March 2, 2004, when the Department of Defense permitted Mr. Padilla to have contact with his lawyers – Mr. Padilla was in complete isolation. Even after he was permitted contact with counsel, his conditions of confinement remained essentially the same.

He was kept in a unit comprising sixteen individual cells, eight on the upper level and eight on the lower level, where Mr. Padilla’s cell was located. No other cells in the unit were occupied. His cell was electronically monitored twenty-four hours a day, eliminating the need for a guard to patrol his unit. His only contact with another person was when a guard would deliver and retrieve trays of food and when the government desired to interrogate him.

His isolation, furthermore, was aggravated by the efforts of his captors to maintain complete sensory deprivation. His tiny cell – nine feet by seven feet – had no view to the outside world. The door to his cell had a window, however, it was covered by a magnetic sticker, depriving Mr. Padilla of even a view into the hallway and adjacent common areas of his unit. He was not given a clock or a watch and for most of the time of his captivity, he was unaware whether it was day or night, or what time of year or day it was.

In addition to his extreme isolation, Mr. Padilla was also viciously deprived of sleep. This sleep deprivation was achieved in a variety of ways. For a substantial period of his captivity, Mr. Padilla’s cell contained only a steel bunk with no mattress. The pain and discomfort of sleeping on a cold, steel bunk made it impossible for him to sleep. Mr. Padilla was not given a mattress until the tail end of his captivity. . . .

Other times, his captors would bang the walls and cell bars creating loud startling noises. These disruptions would occur throughout the night and cease only in the morning, when Mr. Padilla’s interrogations would begin. Efforts to manipulate Mr. Padilla and break his will also took the form of the denial of the few benefits he possessed in his cell. . . .

Mr. Padilla’s dehumanization at the hands of his captors also took more sinister forms. Mr. Padilla was often put in stress positions for hours at a time. He would be shackled and manacled, with a belly chain, for hours in his cell. Noxious fumes would be introduced to his room causing his eyes and nose to run. The temperature of his cell would be manipulated, making his cell extremely cold for long stretches of time. Mr. Padilla was denied even the smallest, and most personal shreds of human dignity by being deprived of showering for weeks at a time, yet having to endure forced grooming at the whim of his captors.

A substantial quantum of torture endured by Mr. Padilla came at the hands of his interrogators. In an effort to disorient Mr. Padilla, his captors would deceive him about his location and who his interrogators actually were. Mr. Padilla was threatened with being forcibly removed from the United States to another country, including U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he was threatened his fate would be even worse than in the Naval Brig.

He was threatened with being cut with a knife and having alcohol poured on the wounds. He was also threatened with imminent execution. He was hooded and forced to stand in stress positions for long durations of time. He was forced to endure exceedingly long interrogation sessions, without adequate sleep, wherein he would be confronted with false information, scenarios, and documents to further disorient him. Often he had to endure multiple interrogators who would scream, shake, and otherwise assault Mr. Padilla.

This is treatment that our goverment does not reserve even for serial killers and child rapists, who are not only spared from all manner of torture but allowed access to courts (not to mention, other humans).

Perhaps what has thrown some people's "torture" scents off (or, more aptly, allowed them to rationalize it away) is the psychological emphasis of Padilla's treatment. Certainly the low "physical" element of it is the Administrations' justification. Psychological torture, however, is just as damaging to the mind as physical. Consider, also, that for the torturers, focusing on the mind rather than the body has its advantages: it leaves no marks so it's harder to prove, people are less appalled b/c it doesn't fit their conventional images of what "torture" looks like (making it easier to deal with both for the bystanders and the interrogators themselves), and it's more difficult to defend oneself against. Furthermore, one can see the effects pretty quickly. My understanding is it can take only days (or even hours) of complete isolation before one begins to suffer psychological damage that can take many years of therapy to heal.

This leads into a necessary discussion of his current competency, however. As one would expect, the torture of Mr. Padilla-- and let's not mince words: we called this "torture" when the Soviets engaged in it, it's torture now-- was so psychologically damaging and disorienting that it has caused him to regard everyone he sees (except, ironically, his torturers) as possible ruses or government agents acting out a new stage of his interrogation, including his own defense attorneys. From Naomi Klein, writing for The Guardian UK:
According to his lawyers and two mental health specialists who examined him, Padilla has been so shattered that he lacks the ability to assist in his own defence. He is convinced that his lawyers are "part of a continuing interrogation program" and sees his captors as protectors. In order to prove that "the extended torture visited upon Mr Padilla has left him damaged", his lawyers want to tell the court what happened during those years in the navy brig. The prosecution strenuously objects, maintaining that "Padilla is competent" and that his treatment is irrelevant.

The US district judge Marcia Cooke disagrees. "It's not like Mr Padilla was living in a box. He was at a place. Things happened to him at that place." The judge has ordered several prison employees to testify on Padilla's mental state at the hearings, which began yesterday. They will be asked how a man who is alleged to have engaged in elaborate anti-government plots now acts, in the words of brig staff, "like a piece of furniture".

Is it any wonder why that they believe he is unfit to stand trial? And is the absurdity of the bar for incompetency not apparent?

Perhaps the sickest part of it all, however, is one simple fact undisputed by the government: even though Mr. Padilla is the only one who suffered this treatment and is getting to chance to defend himself in court, there are many others like him who are getting no such opportunity. From Naomi Klein, again:
These same practices have been documented in dozens of cases of "extraordinary rendition" carried out by the CIA, as well as in prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Many have suffered the same symptoms as Padilla. According to James Yee, a former army Muslim chaplain at Guantánamo, there is an entire section of the prison called Delta Block for detainees who have been reduced to a delusional state. "They would respond to me in a childlike voice, talking complete nonsense. Many of them would loudly sing childish songs, repeating the song over and over." All the inmates of Delta Block were on 24-hour suicide watch.

Human Rights Watch has exposed a US-run detention facility near Kabul known as the "prison of darkness" - tiny pitch-black cells, strange blaring sounds. "Plenty lost their minds," one former inmate recalled. "I could hear people knocking their heads against the walls and the doors."

Now none of these people will be able to defend themselves adequately in court, either, assuming they ever see the light of day again.

The people running this country and the movement they represent do not believe in our principles. The rule of law, habeas corpus, the right to a fair jury trial (which Thomas Jefferson called "the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution"), and the dignity of all humankind bestowed with certain inalienable rights, are all foreign, repugnant concepts to these authoritarians and half-wits.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

gay Republicans and victimization

In one of the weirder subplots of this year's CPAC conference, we have the story of Matt Sanchez, Marine reservist, "professional victim" as Atrios calls him, and... former gay porn star. The last bit, as you can guess, was not information he volunteered, but rather was discovered by the blogs after he accepted his professional victim award at CPAC and shook hands with a woman who, that same night, called John Edwards a "faggot" and implied that such a term should not be barred from civil discourse.

So here he is on Salon, decrying his treatment by the blogs. According to his account, he wrote an article at Columbia University, where he's currently a student, pointing out the anti-military bias of the students. As one would expect, FOX News discovered him and put him on Hannity and Colmes and Bill O'Reilly so he could tell all the red-blooded conservatives about the Godless commies at American universities. He even got to write a column in that paragon of unbiased journalism, the New York Post!

Eventually, he got invited to CPAC's annual meeting to accept an "academic freedom" award (which is really more of a "spread the word about Godless commies in academia" award) and get a big "Attaboy!" from one of the most famous bigots in modern politics, and as the furor over her remarks reached its pinnacle, he got targetted as well. That's when his adult film past was discovered and used to further denigrate him and he started getting all kinds of hate mail over it (so he claims, yet, as is typical of these allegations, he doesn't actually produce any).

Okay, as you can tell, I'm not super-sympathetic to this guy. He says he got hate mail, and if he did, there I can sympathize. People can be pretty ugly and really sanctimonious at times, and admittedly, there were some pretty nasty things said to him in the "letters" section of this article.

Here's my problem, though. First of all, the guy says he was "outed" on the little one sentence synopsis. Maybe that was the editors addition, maybe it was his, I dunno, but his suggestions of victimization by his past being exposed makes the same implication. This is not being "outed." People who are in the closet don't sell videos of themselves performing the very acts they are hiding. You can't make money off of being gay and then turn around and cry foul when people bring that fact up in response to your attacks. Aside from the fact that Sanchez is trying to draw people's pity and outrage for a moral crime that was not committed, this kind of slippery use of the term "outing" minimizes the pain and alienation that can accompany real, honest to God outing of people who really did hide their orientations.

Second, Sanchez is obtuse, willfully or otherwise, to the actual reasons for his ridicule. Matt Sanchez is lambasted by the left for the same reasons that Mary Cheney is: they're the Uncle Toms of their demographic. They support a movement that hates "their kind," wants their second-class citizenship enshrined in the Constitution, and is gleeful at the thought of their impending damnation in eternal Hellfire, and in return they are given money and fame to skew the arguments and distort the issues that would free their fellow gays to join the rest of the country in full, equal citizenship. Granted, this guy wasn't originally banking on his homosexuality for his victimization screeds (though he is now), but his self-applied identity as a victim of liberal anti-militarism was intended to support conservative talking points that all liberals "hate the troops" and "want the terrorists to win," thereby hamstringing liberal efforts to establish equality for GLBTers. It's all of a piece. And if he wasn't pushing those ideas himself, he was allowing and even encouraging Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and others to do so.

Mr. Sanchez writes:
"I am embarrassed to admit that was I worried that my fellow conservatives would distance themselves from me when the news about my film career broke. The opposite has happened. I've been asked to give my point of view, invited to speak at various functions, and invited back on television. My peers on the right have gone out of their way to give me a vote of confidence and avoid a rush to judgment."

Umm, duh! Because you support so many conservative arguments:
1. gays are debauched
2. liberals are hypocrites
3. liberals don't really support gays or Hispanics
4. liberals hate the military
5. the GOP is the "real" party of equality
and, of course, our brand new Ann Coulter approved talking point:
6. "faggot" isn't really about homophobia because, look, gays love people who say it!

The "professional victim" thing is also a tactic deplored on its own merits. In every group there are a couple of wackos; this is true of liberals as well as conservatives. When conservatives, however, push themselves into a large group of liberals and then cry about how a couple of students, or protesters, or anonymous blog commenters hurt their feelgoods, it reeks of hypocrisy because the wackos and name-callers on the conservative side get columns in the nation's marquee newspapers, an entire news channel and multiple think-tanks of their own, and prominent patronage posts in the federal government. And, of course, they write New York Times bestsellers.

This is all, of course, beside the rather obvious point that his "victimhood" relies on a number of false arguments, like how people who supposedly dislike wire-tapping were willing to dig into Sanchez's "private life"-- ya know, his super-secret private in-the-closet career in adult film-- and how this is about diversity "unless you don't agree with them." No, Matt, it's about selling out fellow GLBTers by supporting those who wish to oppress them (and you).

So forgive me if I don't cry you a river when a handful of powerless liberals write mean things about you.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

a question for Ann Coulter

Where did Bob Ney (R-OH) go after getting nailed for corruption?

And what was Mark Foley's (R-FL) answer to getting out of the spotlight after he was outed as a sexual predator for male Congressional pages?

And Mel Gibson, after his "Jews are responsible for all the wars" tirade?

Where did Ted Haggard go after everyone found out he was sleeping with a male prostitute?

It sounds like the stock answer to the "Ann Coulter is a f*%king bigot" allegations coming from, well, pretty much everyone with ears to hear (even lots of Republicans) is to say that the "point" of Coulter's bigotry was to lambast the tactic of entering rehab to wash away past indiscretions by "the Left." This is, of course, a little different from the "you have to go to rehab after saying un-p.c. stuff" argument, which others have used, but the former is the defense Coulter herself used on Hannity and Colmes.

In any case, it appears that the most high-profile uses of the tactic as of late have occurred on the other side of the Great Divide.

I will give her this: she said that the American people don't buy it when people use rehab to wash away their sins. I think she's exactly right.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

the dictionary definition of hypocrisy

From TPM:
In the wake of the Libby verdict, Fox News has wheeled out a brigade of legal analysts and their usual TV hosts, all of whom are reaching oddly similar conclusions: The verdict is flawed, and there was no underlying crime.

So the conservative gasbags on FOX News were complaining about the verdict because there was no underlying crime. That is, though Libby lied, he lied about something that is not, in fact, a criminal act. In a perjury and obstruction of justice trial. Of someone in the White House.

Of course, I'm just being facetious. After all, there is a major difference between the two cases: unlike adultery, leaking the identity of a clandestine CIA operative is, in fact, a federal crime. It could even constitute an act of domestic terrorism according to the Patriot Act.

Libby's a new wife

Ruh roh Raggy, here's more bad press for the "faggot" Right and the party of Walter Reed (which Jack Cafferty, BTW, thinks will be the next Katrina). The Republican Vice President's (until his indictment) Chief of Staff is officially a felon, and the line that he was told Plame's identity by reporters is officially a lie.

Ya gotta feel for Tony Snow, it's been one hell of a week and a half.

And the current Resident-in-Chief's approvals?
Zogby: 30%
USA Today/Gallup: 33
Newsweek: 31
FOX/Opinion Dynamics RV: 34
CBS/New York Times: 29 (!)
Time RV: 34
ABC/Washington Post: 36
Diageo/Hotline RV: 36

How much lower will they go? How much lower can they get?

Breaking the News

Here is a must-read article from Mother Jones on the problem with today's news media (particularly newspapers), and why their work is rather swiftly degrading in depth, research, and vetting.

I find it striking that, for supposedly being all conservative, movement conservatives in the government don't generally "get" the concept that laws and regulations, as a rule, have not always existed, but rather were consciously introduced and passed. Generally, they were created by smart people, and for a damn good reason, so maybe one should think twice before gutting them. Of course, the rank dishonesty displayed by the FCC chairman at the beginning of the article shows how interested they are in preserving the quality of anything besides their own wallets.

Deregulation in almost any form is snake oil, pure and simple. It almost never works, but always lines the pockets of society's predators. Anyone who brings the idea to you is in all likelihood hiding an ulterior motive.

Monday, March 05, 2007

"especially immigration and illegal drugs"

For those of you who've been living under a rock (or perhaps abroad?), in January a dozen or so US Attorneys were quietly fired under questionable circumstances. One had issued indictments for several Republicans, including the guy who was, by all accounts, the big cahuna in the Duke Cunningham scandal, only a couple of weeks beforehand. The attorneys will be testifying to Congress this week about the (questionable) circumstances of their firing.

One case that has become the exemplum for the entire scandal is that of the US Attorney for the state of New Mexico. It appears that, at some point during the week before the November midterms, he was contacted by two lawmakers trying to get him to speed up an indictment of a state Democrat on corruption charges. It now appears that those two lawmakers were Rep. Heather Wilson (who, you may remember, just barely survived her re-election by 875 votes out of nearly 211,000), and Senator Pete Domenici. As if it even needs to be mentioned anymore, they're both Republicans.

This weekend, both the White House and Sen. Domenici have gone into full damage control mode, as this scandal could get pretty big. And here's where I'd like to put in my 2 cents that, so far, no one else seems to have noticed. The White House/Domenici tactic from here is to paint the attorney as someone who's performance necessitated his ouster, rather than his partisanship. It also has nothing to do with filling posts with cronies or deepening the rather drained and wanting GOP bench.

We've talked a lot about "dog whistle politics" and GOP racist code in this wee corner of the blogosphere, and I feel like I'm starting to get a feel for it, and am learning where to look for it and when to expect it. Domenici, suddenly mired in bad press and staring down the barrel of his own re-election in '08, needs someone, to give him a break and come to his aid: GOP voters, those who really understand him and what New Mexico's problems are and why this attorney needed to go.

Everyone feel primed and ready?

From Sen. Domenici's statement:
During the course of the last six years, that already heavy caseload in our state has been swamped by unresolved new federal cases, especially in the areas of immigration and illegal drugs. I have asked, and my staff has asked, on many occasions whether the federal prosecutors and federal judiciary within our state had enough resources. I have been repeatedly told that we needed more resources. As a result I have introduced a variety of legislative measures, including new courthouse construction monies, to help alleviate the situation.

My conversations with [the US Attorney] over the years have been almost exclusively about this resource problem and complaints by constituents. He consistently told me that he needed more help, as have many other New Mexicans within the legal community.

My frustration with the U.S. Attorney’s office mounted as we tried to get more resources for it, but public accounts indicated an inability within the office to move more quickly on cases.[emphasis mine]

Why was the highlighted snippet so important to add? What bearing does it have on his larger point? Ahh, more important to the question (remember your audience) is, what kind of US Attorney would be neglectful of immigration and drugs cases in New Mexico and would be constantly asking for more government aid and more American dollars to do a job that, one would assume, other US Attorneys have done without extra it?

Meet United States Attorney David Iglesias.

Friday, March 02, 2007

a screw-up that boggles the mind

This is pretty amazing. From The New York Times (c/o Josh Marshall):
WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 — Last October, the North Koreans tested their first nuclear device, the fruition of decades of work to make a weapon out of plutonium.

For nearly five years, though, the Bush administration, based on intelligence estimates, has accused North Korea of also pursuing a secret, parallel path to a bomb, using enriched uranium. That accusation, first leveled in the fall of 2002, resulted in the rupture of an already tense relationship: The United States cut off oil supplies, and the North Koreans responded by throwing out international inspectors, building up their plutonium arsenal and, ultimately, producing that first plutonium bomb.

Okay, now this nuclear program stuff is a little confusing, so Josh explains:
Speaking very broadly, there are two big ways to make nuclear weapons -- with uranium and plutonium. Each involves different technical challenges and processes. And each has a different bang you get versus the complexity of the task of putting the thing together.

The big issue with North Korea has always been their plutonium production. Back in 1994, they were on the brink of being able to produce bombs with the plutonium they were making. The US came close to war with the North Koreans over it. But the two countries settled on something called the 'Agreed Framework' in which the North Koreans' plutonium production operation was shuttered and placed under international inspection in exchange for fuel oil shipments and assistance building 'light water' nuclear reactors.

We don't need to get into the details of the agreement at the moment. The relevant point is that from 1994 to 2002 the North Korean nuclear weapons program was frozen in place. The strong consensus judgment was that they had not yet made any nuclear weapons. And during that period they could not access the plutonium they had already produced.

It was on the basis of this alleged uranium enrichment program -- which may well not even have existed -- that the US pulled out of that agreement. This allowed the North Koreans to get back into the plutonium business with a gusto. And they have since produced -- by most estimates -- at least a hand full of nuclear weapons, one of which, albeit a rather feeble one, they detonated last October.

As he rightly notes, this is a pretty serious fuck-up even if the uranium program was real. But it's entirely possible that the Bush Administration undermined the one and only working deterrent to a North Korean nuclear arsenal and then did NOTHING while Kim Jong Il developed just such a thing over a figment of the CIA's imagination.

It's difficult even to articulate how big of a botch this was, what supreme incompetence at the highest levels this required. Like the Iraq War and the Bush Administration itself, this is a fuckup that has transformed world politics. Of all the nations that could've gone nuclear, North Korea was the worst case scenario (the second worst, incidentally, is Iran). Bill Clinton achieved a diplomatic solution that at worst slowed North Korean nuclear development to a crawl, and at best halted it entirely, yet after only a single year in office, George W. Bush demolished it and replaced it with... nothing.

And here we are, with a world that is significantly more perilous than it was only a decade ago, due perhaps single-handedly to George W. Bush.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

have you heard about Deamonte?

It's a funny phenomenon: You take an obvious moral imperative and bring it out into the open, and people get so easily sidetracked into discussions of money, and options, and then it veers off into weird ideological quasi-realities where the central issue is personal responsibility and parental duties and who's to blame and class warfare and socialism and capitalism and "the market"... and then a story like this comes around and snaps the whole issue back to a moment of utter, cold, crystalline, clarity.

This is madness, and it must stop.


I've added a new blog to my blogroll there on the right side of the screen: Orcinus. It's maintained mainly by a freelance journalist named David Neiwert, and it's very content-heavy and thematically oriented.

That theme is authoritarianism.

There's a lot of great material there on not only authoritarianism per se, but also things like eliminationist rhetoric, institutional (and individual) discrimination, rightwing quasi-fascism, and anti-immigrationism. And, of course, Michelle Malkin.

There's also, interestingly, a lot of discussion there of futurism, which from what I gather is the directing of science and systems theory to figure out what scenarios are most likely to happen in the relatively near future, especially considering potential crises like climate change, overpopulation, and peak oil.

I try to keep the blogroll short, limited to what I see are the couple very best blog out there. This one definitely belongs on the list.