Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Thursday, June 30, 2005
Updated: A new Zogby poll finds that 42% of respondents would support impeaching President Bush if it was found he mislead the nation on the Iraq war... (tip of the hat to Bradblog.) The poll shows no bounce for Bush after his televised address (though that's attributable to the fact that barely anyone but his core supporters, the soldiers at Fort Bragg and the media and bloggers watched the speech), and a 4 in 10 minority for impeachment if he mislead. And among Republicans, 25 percent said they would support Bush's impeachment in that circumstance. There's also, apparently, trouble in the red states for Bush, mainly caused by Iraq:
In a more significant sign of the weakness of the President’s numbers, more “Red State” voters—that is, voters living in the states that cast their ballots for the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2004—now rate his job performance unfavorably, with 50% holding a negative impression of the President’s handling of his duties, and 48% holding a favorable view. The President also gets negative marks from one-in-four (25%) Republicans—as well as 86% of Democrats and 58% of independents. (Bush nets favorable marks from 75% of Republicans, 13% of Democrats and 40% of independents.)
posted by JReid @ 6:49 PM  
Somehow I knew...
...Michael Jackson would end up holed up in a Mideast or African getaway...
posted by JReid @ 6:18 PM  
Time tested

Bloggers on the left , right and center are slamming Time's decision to turn over Matthew Cooper's notes in the Valerie Plame case.

Gotta say, as a former member of the MSM myself, I am surprised with the reaction, and the hewing to "journalistic principles" involved in Cooper and Judith Miller's refusal to name their source(s). Cooper and Miller aren't protecting some good-egg Whistleblower in the Bush White House, they're shielding a potential felon and in my opinion, a two-bit traitor who cared more about political advantage than America's national security. And Time is simply protecting its bottom line, its reporter, and -- well -- upholding the rule of law. If the two reporters had known the identity of the Unabomber and refused to give that up to authorities, even with a court order and a Supreme Court ruling backing up the prosecutors, would it then be OK for one of their publications to give up the goods?

It would be different if there were a federal privilege, but there isn't, which is why the SupCo refused to hear Cooper and Miller's case. Jeff Jarvis makes some good points on the subject of privlege here.

Either way, I'll bet somewhere in a D.C. drink spot, Matt Cooper is downing a fifth of scotch and thanking God Time gave him up so he doesn't have to marry some guy with jailhouse tats.

Previous post: What about Bob?

posted by JReid @ 5:50 PM  
The general vs. the guy with the boil on his butt
Rush Limbaugh tees off on newly minted FNC contributor Wes Clark:

RUSH: I just have to get blue in the face. I got an e-mail today. "Why do you call Wesley Clark 'Ashley Wilkes'? You're going to have to start explaining some of these nicknames for people." I guess. (sigh) How many of you people have seen Gone With the Wind? There's a character in this movie that's an absolute candy ass and his name is Ashley Wilkes, and the more I heard Wesley Clark speak, the more he reminded me of Ashley Wilkes, ergo we call him Ashley Wilkes. ... It's a long four-hour movie. I don't have time to tell you the whole story here, but go buy it, that way you don't have to take it back or rent it if you have the time to take it back. With gas prices as high as they are, you might want to think about buying these movies and getting them over from FedEx or whatever. But that's up to you.

But as for the assertion that the Iraq war is responsible for increased terrorism my first reaction is: There isn't any terrorism happening in America right now. There hasn't been a repeatof 9/11 right now, and I know full well why there is terrorist activity in Iraq, and why there's terrorist activity in Afghanistan, and it's precisely because we're trying to wipe 'em out, and they are fighting for their survival.

Now in Iraq specifically, what they were doing was trying to prevent what's happening. The president was right last night, folks. They have failed everything. They've tried to do. Their biggest friends appear to be liberals in this country. The terrorists failed to stop the elections. They failed to stop sovereignty. They failed to keep Saddam in power. They failed to put him back in power.

Of course, this slap comes from the guy who, while "candy ass" Clark was serving his country in the jungles of Vietnam, sat out the war in the 'States with a nasty boil on his butt... and who, while Clark was rising to the rank of general, directing the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo in which not a single American life was lost in the completion of regime change, and then, after 34 years in the service, retiring and running for president, was spending his time telling Black radio listeners to pull the bones out of their noses and getting hooked on pain meds.

Yeah, he's the guy we should be listening to on the war stuff...

posted by JReid @ 3:28 PM  
CSI: Aruba, part 4
An Aruban gossip columnist named Rona Coster recently posted a link to an anti-Aruba web-site which she claims is the work of a "bigoted DJ from Atlanta," angry over the failure of authorities there to make progress on finding Natalee Holloway. She also gives her theories as to what might have happened to the teen:
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK. Natalee Holloway disappeared mysteriously 21 days ago. It must be tough on the family. From the sidelines it seems to me they’re only barking up the Aruba tree, as if the girl had no history at all. One of my friends suggested the following scenario. School’s prettiest girl comes to Aruba on a graduation trip. If you are a pretty girl, you have a boyfriend. Or two. Boyfriend from Alabama gets his heart broken when he sees dream girl out and about with island boy. He has a violent outburst, an accident, not pre-meditated, yet he goes home with the group Monday morning and sits tight, while the island here is ripped apart in the name of a search, an investigation. I wish I knew the FBI/Police is scrutinizing the kids back home, and questioning them . . .

and this defense of the three young men still in custody:
... growing up in Aruba implies the boys are sweet; obnoxious, si, mean, no! These kids, if they knew anything, would have spilled their guts three weeks ago. You would have gotten a confession the day following their arrest, these kids aren’t tough. They just look veneer coated, in reality they are mush and you will have to let them go . . . Perhaps we will never know what happened to Natalee Holloway. It doesn’t always have to be someone’s fault. She went swimming, escorted or not. God help me how many times I went swimming in the dark and endless ocean at the end of a late-into-the-night affair . . .

Meanwhile, CNN and other outlets report on the legal advice chief suspect Joran van der Sloot's father apparently gave his son and his friends, summed up as: "no body, no case."

Clearly the case is starting to ruffle feathers on this side of the pond, where Americans seem unable to grasp why the authorities on a tiny island can't come up with more evidence. Riehlworldview joins in the "do something" chorus with an open letter to Aruba.

Previous episodes: 3 2 1
posted by JReid @ 2:14 PM  
That '70s show

Update: 2:04: Andrea Mitchell is on 'Hardball' saying NBC sent the 1979-era pics to a photo expert who said there was a very small probability that the man in the pic circled at left is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Still, the former hostages are sticking by their story, and the U.S. is investigating with high interest...

Update: 2:04: Despite the current denials of his involvement in the 1979 hostage taking in Tehran, before Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's election as Iran's president, posted the following in a bio of the then-darkhorse candidate:

As a young student, Ahmadinejad joined an ultraconservative faction of the Office for Strengthening Unity, the radical student group spawned by the 1979 Islamic Revolution and staged the capture of the US Embassy. According to reports, Ahmadinejad attended planning meetings for the US Embassy takeover and at these meetings lobbied for a simultaneous takeover of the Soviet Embassy.
Meanwhile today, Lebanon's Daily Star has this chilling prediction for Ahmadinejad's tenure:

... Ahmadinejad's election is a major defeat for reformists of all tendencies. The reformist discourse of fundamentally remaking Iran's political institutions has been eclipsed by a more parochial and practical concern over the growing inequalities in society. Ahmadinejad's landslide victory proves in a dramatic way that reformist rhetoric in many of its aspects is mainly an intellectual pursuit without deep resonance in Iranian society. At a practical level, the defeat will further deepen divisions in the reformists' ranks, making them even less capable of shaping Iranian politics. The reformists have been sustaining electoral defeats since 2003, and it will take time for them to effectively challenge the electoral prowess of the Abadgaran and other right-wing groups.

Update 1:51: From the BBC profile of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

  • He is backed by a group of younger, second-generation revolutionaries known as the Abadgaran, or Developers, who are strong in the Iranian parliament, the Majlis.
  • His website says he joined the Revolutionary Guards voluntarily after helping to found the student union which took over the US embassy in 1979.
  • He is reported to have served in covert operations in Iraq.
  • He was born in Garmsar, near Tehran, in 1956, the son of a blacksmith.
  • He holds a PhD in traffic and transport from Tehran's University of Science and Technology, where he was a lecturer.
Refiled, 10:10 a.m.: CNN, ABC and other outlets are moving the report of claims that Iran's new president was one of the men who stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and seized American diplomats, holding them for 444 days (and effectively killing the Carter presidency). I first saw the story on the Jawa Report (and you can get comparative pics and lots of links there...)

A group of former U.S. hostages are making that accusation according to the AP, although three former leaders among the student hostage takers are denying Ahmadinejad had anything to do with the hostage taking, and spokesmen for the new Iranian president are vehemently denying it too, according to the BBC:

Mohsen Mirdamadi, who was the leader of the hostage takers, told the BBC that Mr Ahmadinejad had never been with them even for one minute. Another top student leader, Abbas Abdi, also denied the allegations as did Hamid Reza Jalaiepour, another hostage-taker. Mr Jalaiepour said the president-elect was a student from the science and technology university which was more radical than them.

The three former students are now reformists who oppose hardliners like Mr Ahmadinejad, and would have no reason to hide his involvement now.

Photographs have appeared on the internet showing a young bearded man leading a blindfolded American hostage - alleging that this was Mr Ahmadinejad a quarter of a century ago.

But the man in the photograph appears much taller than Mr Ahmadinejad, and looks nothing like other pictures of him as a student which can be found on his website.

Case closed?
posted by JReid @ 2:06 PM  
What about Bob?

In an interview yesterday, Al Hunt, a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal and a colleague of Mr. Novak's on the recently canceled CNN program "Capital Gang," said he supported Mr. Novak's decision not to discuss his sources publicly.

But Mr. Hunt said Mr. Novak, while protecting his sources, could probably shed some light on why Ms. Miller and Mr. Cooper were facing jail on contempt charges, while he, apparently, was not.

"It does beg the question why Matt and Judy, and not Bob," Mr. Hunt, an editor for Bloomberg News, said. "It's just so confusing to citizens and people in our business. If Bob could provide some context, I think it would be helpful." [N.Y. Times, 6/30/05]

While Time Magazine has now stepped in to save its reporter, Matthew Cooper, from jail over his (and NYT's Judith Miller's) refusal to name names in the CIA name-drop case, the media has, so far, been loathe to step into the face of the main recipient of the leak that reduced the national security of the United States to just another political football: Robert Novak.

The Chicago-Sun Times and Creators Syndicate columnist, sometimes dubbed the "prince of darkness" by detractors and admirers alike, has so far skated merrily along the pavement while his colleagues Miller and Cooper, who unlike him, didn't write a column or story naming the CIA operative wife of White House scourge Joe Wilson, face the imminent threat of jail.

And while some, myself included, fail to see the nobility in defending the confidentiality of a government lowlife who not only jeopardized the identity of a covert operative, threatening not only her life but the lives of others, not to mention American national security, most of the journo pack has thus far laid off Novak. Watching the recently canceled "Capitol Gang" has become an increasingly surreal experience, as only on the rarest occasion do any of the other gang members seated at the table with Novak build up the cheek to ask him why he isn't the one going to jail. Did he talk? And if he did cooperate with the grand jury investigation, why shouldn't Cooper and Miller do the same? Most important, why so much deference to Novak from the MSM establishment?

After all, Novak isn't exactly a saint. This the fellow, after all, who:

  • Was the leak bucket of choice for classified information from then "Scoop" Jackson aide Richard Perle during the 1970s, including a leak that Henry Kissinger and President Ford were preparing to make consessions on the Salt II treaty with the Soviets. Then-as-now Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld apparently stepped in to squash the deal.
  • Published a phony quote in 1972, supposedly from a Democratic Senator labeling candidate George McGovern as being for "acid, amnesty, and abortion";
  • Called the Iraq war a proxy fight by the U.S. on behalf of Israel's Ariel Sharon, just like Pat Buchanan and others, but without the outcry from Jewish groups;
  • Revealed convicted spy Robert Hanssen as the confidential source for some of his columns, including one in 1997 accusing then attorney general Janet Reno of covering up supposed Clinton fundraising no-nos (Novak said he felt justified in outing Hanssen "because he was a traitor," as if the current leaker isn't?);
  • Accused Bush administration whistleblower Richard Clarke of writing his book because he harboed racist, sexist resentments against Condi Rice during an episode of "Crossfire";
  • Failed to mention, until just months before the 2004 election, that his son was the marketing director of Regnery Press, the publisher behind the Swift Boat stories, which Novak vigorously supported in his columns and "Crossfire" commentary.
  • Wrote the column, called "Mission to Niger," in which Valerie Plame's cover as a CIA operative was blown.

Novak -- who is also the guy who demanded that CBS out its source in the Rathergate story on George W. Bush's spotty National Guard service -- has so far refused to answer direct questions about the case, although he claims that he's not the reason Cooper and Miller are facing jail, and that "after it's all over," he'll write a column about it, (and "people will be surprised.") Novak has previously denied being one in a group of seven reporters "cold called" with the Plame leak by an administration official, writing in a later column: "The published report that somebody in the White House failed to plant this story with six reporters and finally found me as a willing pawn is simply untrue."

But as Slate's Chris Suellentrop asked way back in October 2003, "how does he know the calls to the six reporters didn't happen? Does he know something about the Washington Post story that the rest of us don't? If so, why is he sitting on this scoop?) We've since learned that Cooper and Miller were among the scoop, and some claim Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell were in the group, too. But Novak is the only one -- however many people were given the information -- who used it.

And yet, he's not facing jail time. I'm betting somewhere out there is a grand jury transcript with his name all over it.


BustBob petition

posted by JReid @ 10:49 AM  
Mustn't see TV
More on the reax to Bush's speech Tuesday (perhaps more properly termed "yet another preselected-audience townhall meeting to which unbelievers were not admitted entrance." From the Guardian:

Though one poll showed that the speech drew the smallest audience of any Bush presidential appearance, another poll by Gallup found that it may have served its purpose in bolstering the resolve of viewers, at least temporarily.

Of an estimated 23 million who watched, 54% thought the US was winning the war, compared with 44% before the speech. But only 23% were registered Democrats - and the boost the president received was weak compared with the upsurge following similar set-piece speeches in the past.

The address was also savaged abroad. A Labour MP, Lynne Jones, said any attempt to suggest that it was a response to the September 11 attacks was "absolute nonsense".

"What they have ensured, in invading Iraq, is they have actually promoted al-Qaida's involvement in other countries, including Iraq."

Though WaPo suggests that Team Bush has carefully calibrated their war communications strategy with a bevy of public opinion experts and pollsters, you've got to wonder just what they think the meaning of "careful" is. Apparently, success in political communications for this team means one thing and one thing only: stoking the base. The rest of us be damned.
posted by JReid @ 9:43 AM  
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
(Don't) believe the hype
It never ceases to amaze me, four years on and multiple investigations and commissions later -- and even an admission by the president -- how many on the right continue to cling to the unsupported, almost desperate, believe that Saddam Hussein was involved in the planning of 9/11. Powerpundit celebrates the supposed juicy finds of SoCal pundit, and I just gave up on Jawa... Guys, the 9/11 link is a Rovian rhetorical flourish designed to sell the war and pump up Bush's poll numbers. You're not supposed to actually believe it...
Update: at least one Jawa has jumped off the Iraq-9/11 bandwagon...
I'm not going to bother quoting the Center for American Progress or any other Dem-linked or "liberal" group. Let's go to Paul "for the love of God PLEASE let's invade Iraq" Wolfowitz, from the year 2003:
8/06/03: (Information Clearing House) Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, one of the main architects for the war in Iraq, admitted for the first time that Iraq had nothing to do with the September 11 terrorist attacks, contradicting public statements made by senior White House and Pentagon officials whose attempt to link Saddam Hussein and the terrorist organization al-Qaeda was cited by the Bush administration as one of the main reasons for launching a preemptive strike in March against Iraq.

In an interview with conservative radio personality Laura Ingraham, Wolfowitz was asked when he first came to believe that Iraq was behind the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

“I’m not sure even now that I would say Iraq had something to do with it,” Wolfowitz said in the interview, aired Friday, a transcript of which can be found at

Wolfowitz’s answer confirms doubts long held by critics of the Iraq war that the Bush administration had no evidence linking Iraq to 9-11 or al-Qaeda, but simply used the horrific terrorist attacks as a reason to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his Baathist regime.

“I think what the realization to me is -- the fundamental point was that terrorism had reached the scale completely different from what we had thought of it up until then. And that it would only get worse when these people got access to weapons of mass destruction which would be only a matter of time,” Wolfowitz said in the interview. “…What you really got to do is, eliminate terrorist networks and eliminate terrorism as a problem. And clearly Iraq was one of the country -- you know top of the list of countries actively using terrorism as an instrument of national policy.”

That's exactly the same line of reasoning presented to myself and a group of editorial writers during a fellowship program in D.C. in December, 2003. We had the chance to ask questions of Douglas Feith and Stephen Cambone among others, and I personally put the question to Mr. Feith, about Iraq and the neoconservative desire to invade it before 9/11. His answer was that the invasion was not launched because Iraq was involved in 9/11, but because "9/11 changed the context in which we view Iraq," with the idea being that the U.S. wanted to diffuse Iraq as a potential supplier of wmd to terrorists.

Now, you can buy that argument or not, but no responsible government official -- not even George "bloody shirt" Bush himself, will go on the record saying Iraq planned 9/11 ... well, except this guy... and Cheney (but who believes anything he says anymore... last throes... give me a break...)

Clearly, nothing would be more beneficial to George W. Bush than to have clear and convincing evidence that Saddam Hussein was behind the Sept 11 terror attacks -- that belief, after all, is what propped up American support for the war for more than two years -- and the erosion of that belief, along with the failure to find wmd and the mounting insurgency and casualties, is what turned Americans sour. If Bush had the goods, he wouldn't just imply an Iraq-9/11 link as he did in his speech last night and as he and his spokespeople continue to do, he would outright make the claim. Instead, he repeatedly has stated that the opposite is true.

This case is closed, except in the minds of the most virulent neocons and Bush supporters. They've pushed the argument to the absurd point where Democrats like me choose to believe the president on this and they DON'T!
posted by JReid @ 8:34 PM  
Not exactly must-see TV
The ratings are in for Dubya's primetime speech last night, and they ain't good. Keith Olbermann just reported that only about 22 million people tuned in to the speech -- down from the 38 million who watched the State of the Union -- and this despite a full court press to air the speech live by the reluctant networks. That's bad even for a night of summer reruns. (22 out of 300 or so million people? damn...)

The upshot is, according to Michael Wolffe of TIME Magazine, also via "Countdown," was that the speech was mostly viewed by Bush's fans (and by eye rolling reporters and bloggers...) That's borne out by the ratings: Fox dominated, of course, since they are the home of the Bush cult. CNN and MSNBC got pasted (most of their viewers probably wouldn't have bought into Bush's storyline anyway...)

According to TVNewer:

- FNC: Number one, it goes without saying. The pre-show coverage from 7:55 to 8:02pm attracted 2,293,000 viewers; the speech itself averaged 3,410,000; and the Brit Hume post-game show delivered 3,266,000. At 9pm, Hannity & Colmes held onto 2,332,000 viewers; and Greta stayed strong at 10pm with 2,507,000. The 11pm speech replay delivered 1,162,000.

- CNN: Anderson Cooper averaged 547,000 viewers; the speech coverage, from 8 to 8:43pm, averaged 917,000; a few more viewers tuned in for the last quarter-hour, with 988,000 between 8:43 and 9pm. Larry King delivered 1,090,000, and NewsNight averaged 885,000. The 11pm speech replay averaged 539,000.

- MSNBC: The Hardball Church Tour averaged 267,000 viewers. The speech itself, from 8:02 to 8:30pm, delivered 316,000. More viewers tuned in for the post-game show: Chris Matthews attracted 384,000 viewers between 8:30 and 9pm. (For some strange Nielsen reason, that time period also includes two minutes at the top of the 8pm hour.) The 9pm Hardball held onto 258,000, and Scarborough Country had 312,000. The 11pm reair did 291,000.

- HLN: Nancy Grace ignored the President and delivered a big 722,000 in the 8pm hour. (She had 407,000 during the 10pm replay.)

- Also: Drudge says CBS delivered 5.8 million viewers during Bush's speech, while NBC had 5.3 and ABC had 5.0...
posted by JReid @ 8:23 PM  
What is to be done?

I think this about sums it up regarding Bush's speech last night:
"It was an artificial event; Bush was standing at the podium and reading words off a TelePrompTer that were written by a speechwriter not because he had anything new or significant to say but because the White House had no better PR alternatives at this moment." [David Corn]
As badly as he needed to something to break the chain of bad news and declining war support, what Bush mainly seemed to accomplish with his speech was to whip up anger among the opposition -- and among members of the press -- for his insistence on waving the bloody shirt of 9/11 every time he gets in trouble. The NYT pasted the speech this morning.

Sadly, Mr. Bush wasted his opportunity last night, giving a speech that only answered questions no one was asking. He told the nation, again and again, that a stable and democratic Iraq would be worth American sacrifices, while the nation was wondering whether American sacrifices could actually produce a stable and democratic Iraq.

The WashTimes editorial ignored the speech, instead spinning the latest WaPo poll to the president's advantage by emphasizing its finding that the majority of Americans do not want to pull troops out of Iraq.

But therein lies the problem for the president. Unlike the WashTimes editorial board, most Americans don't see their contention that the war was a mistake but we should keep troops their "until the job is done" as an oxymoron. Most have come to the conclusion -- many sadly -- that having overthrown the Iraqi dictator and precipitated the current violent situation in that country, America is obligated to see it thorugh, at least until Iraq is stable enough to stand on its own. Otherwise, we leave behind the legacy of a failed government, a failed state, and probably an even bloodier civil war. This would be a prospect even worse than our loss in Vietnam, because it would likely spread the chaos around the region, right in the middle of a huge patch of oil...

Tim at Crack the Bell, who originally supported the Iraq war, sums it up pretty well:

I think we ought to get the hell out of Iraq as soon as possible. But here's the thing - "as soon as possible" ain't next week, next month, next year or even next decade as far as I'm concerned.

We're there. You can hate George Bush all you want for taking us there, but dammit, we can't throw up our hands in disgust now and leave the whole thing for somebody else to clean up. There are very real threats in the world, and not just from terrorists with car bombs and automatic weapons. No, people, there are still actual
countries out there with evil on their minds and sharp objects in their hands, North Korea and Iran coming foremost to mind.

Turning tail in Iraq would embolden these idiots to make mischief, and that ain't empty rhetoric. Good lord, anybody with a four-year-old can tell you that if the boy thinks he can do something bad with impunity, he's damn well gonna try it.

Unfortunately, even as someone who never supported the idea of invading Iraq, I have come to the conclusion that like it or not, we're stuck there for now. The Kucinichian "yank the troops" strategy is a recipe for American humiliation and increased danger from the real terrorists and would-be nuclear states who harbor them. If we are "beaten" by a disconnected legion of Iraqi insurgents and jihadis, then America becomes an instant paper tiger. The message it would send to the recalcitrant Taliban in Afghanistan alone would be chilling, let alone what it would signal to Osama bin Laden.

The Democrats know that, and that's why they're attacking the president's rhetoric but, for the most part, not the war, and even calling for more troops. The Republicans know it, but only a handful with integrity like Chuck Hagel are willing to vent their frustrations in public. Members of the military know it too, and that's why you rarely here someone who has actually served -- or is currently serving -- in Iraq say we should pull all the troops out immediately. They want to come home, to be sure, but not without winning first.

This dilemma is, of course, George Bush's fault. He didn't have to listen to the prattling Wilsonian neocons or make their Iraq dreams come true. But he did. And our uniformed military, at home and abroad, is paying for it. The best we can hope for now is that the military commanders in Iraq find a way to wrap up the conflict with America's honor in tact. The Bush administration, with its WMD ruses and human rights relativism, has already sunk our credibility, so honor is about all there is left to salvage.

About all the president can do at this point is give a canned P.R. speech, because most likely, he has no better idea how we're going to finally end the Iraq project than the rest of us do.
posted by JReid @ 2:15 PM  
Hands off
The Castle Coalition and its parent, the Institute for justice, are launching a national petition to get governors to pledge to stop the abuse of eminent domain in their states. Here's a link to the info, the petition text, and email addresses for the governors of all 50 states.
posted by JReid @ 12:31 PM  
Stop this world, I wanna get off
From NYP's Page Six:

MAGICIAN Penn Jillette has traveled all over the world with his partner, Teller, and he hates every trip. "Every place outside of the U.S.A. is an absolute hellhole," Jillette rants to Mean magazine. "As much as we can complain about the U.S.'s lack of freedom, I just can't stand when they force women to dress like Batman, when they leave little girls out to die. I mean, at least we address the issues of equality and freedom, which are not even addressed in a place like Egypt or China or India . . . Other countries are pieces of s - - -, so they have a holier-than-thou attitude. I think the most insulting thing you can say about anybody is that they're more popular in another country."

Sheesh ... Guess we shouldn't expect to see him at this year's Live 8... Of course, it could be that Ole' Penn's disgust with the world has something to do with a nasty reaction to a certain comedy routine he tried out in Monte Carlo in 2003...

A sacrilegious stunt by Penn & Teller that offended some at a major magicians convention was defended Thursday by fellow local headliners.

A group walked out of a roast of Amazing Johnathan on Monday after Teller, dressed as Christ on a full-sized cross, entered the room on a cart. A midget dressed as an angel performed a simulated sex act on the near-naked Teller. Penn Jillette, in a Roman gladiator costume, unveiled the scene by pulling away a "Shroud of Turin" that covered the cross.

Rick Neiswonger, a longtime magician and local marketing executive, said "the majority" of the 400 who attended the roast were offended.

"They (organizers) warned everybody that something offensive was going to happen, but my God, where do you draw the line? I've seen Friar's Club ... Sam Kinison and Andrew Dice Clay, but this was beyond bad taste."

Good thing he only tried that in a shithole like Monte Carlo, and not in the good ole' U.S.A...

The Freepers unearth more Penn goodies way back in 2004 ...

posted by JReid @ 3:48 AM  
All booked up yet?
A number of blogs, including Holy Fool, are reporting that a developer is looking to use the Kelo v. New London decision -- which Justice Souter supported -- to build a hotel on land Souter owns. If this is true it is indeed "poetic justice."

Meanwhile Wizbang has a rundown on some of the very bad things eminent domain has wrought, including this nugget:

In case you think it couldn't happen to you... The Institute for Justice, has documented more than 10,000 instances of government taking property from one person to give it to another in just the last five years. In Lakewood, Ohio they've even gone so far as to redefining the word "blighted." A home their can be considered blighted if it doesn't have the following: three bedrooms, two baths, an attached two-car garage and central air.

In Miami, the Marlins are pushing for a new, partially taxpayer-financed stadium. And they reporteldy could wind up taking 50 homes to get it done. Have a great time with your land, Justice Souter! (while you still can!)

Previous Kelo posts:
posted by JReid @ 3:33 AM  
From the desk of: Baghdad Bush
The speech is live and accounted for on all the networks, reports TVNewser. Love this take:

I love how some FReepers believe putting a P.R. speech into context is propaganda: "CNN has not completed a fairly effective if formulaic set of pre-speech programming, intended to twist people's minds so that their mental filters interpret the President's speech as bogus," one person writes...> A blog commenter says: "Er...I think I've heard this record before. Over...and over...and over...again."
AP reports Democrats are already jumping all over the speech for its revival of the 9/11 equals Saddam tactic that worked so well for Bush during his first term. Interesting that everyone who is anyone in the newspaper biz is leading with this angle...

WaPo posts as good an analysis as I've seen on the big Bush speech, via an online Q&A with associate editor Robert G. Kaiser. I think he was a bit defensive on the press-related questions, which doesn't exactly surprise me (the media jealously guards its perception of itself as perpetual Nixon-era Woodwards and Bernsteins), but otherwise, the discussion hits all the right spots. Money clip:

Lancaster, Pa.: Hi Robert, I personally would like to hear this administration acknowledge that they were poorly prepared for the aftermath of the initial invasion. I believe it was Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfield who before the invasion predicted that it would take five days, five weeks, or five months but no longer. That statement contrasts sharply with what they’re saying now –- which is up to 12 years. Would it be political suicide for them to acknowledge errors?

Robert G. Kaiser: You know, I think it might be political salvation at this stage for the administration to admit what we all know - that this war didn't go the way our senior officials thought, and said, it would. There's a real disconnect now between public opinion (as measured, for example, in the latest Post-ABC Poll, to which I hope we can link here) and the assertions of the administration. That is a formula for continued political trouble for the president.

In the straight analysis piece, Dan Balz also zeroes in on Bush's focus on 9/11.

'Lessons of Sept. 11' Again Take Center Stage

One year after the transfer of power in Iraq, President Bush found himself in a familiar, if unsettling, position last night, as he sought to reinvigorate public support for his policies in the face of almost daily suicide bombings and continued U.S. casualties that have called into question whether the administration has a workable strategy for success and exit there.

Bush signaled no shifts in policy, as Democrats such as Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) and John F. Kerry (Mass.) have called for in recent days. Instead his goal was to reeducate Americans on his view of the stakes involved in Iraq and the consequences to the Middle East and U.S. security if the insurgents prevail.

His clearest message was to argue anew that Iraq is the critical battle in a war against terrorists that began with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He made repeated references to those attacks to underscore that U.S. security depends on defeating the insurgency in Iraq. "After September the 11th, I made a commitment to the American people," he said. "This nation will not wait to be attacked again. We will defend our freedom. We will take the fight to the enemy." He then added, "Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war."

Sept. 11 remains Bush's most reliable argument with the public when he faces political headwinds; it gave him the highest-rated moments of his presidency and helped sustain him through a difficult reelection campaign. Surprisingly, given how effectively he has used the collective emotion of that day in the past, Sept. 11 has been largely missing in the administration's discussions of Iraq this year. His critics
long have accused Bush of falsely drawing a connection between Iraq and Sept. 11 as a way to justify the original decision to launch the war in Iraq. That was not the point Bush made last night. Instead it was that Iraq has now become such a magnet for foreign terrorists that winning the current battle there is every bit as critical as was the fight to depose Saddam Hussein.

Meanwhile, NYT gauges the reaction from military families.

Specialist Worrell and her father did find some things to like in the speech. "That last part was good, telling people to fly the flag, and thanking the soldiers," said Mr. Worrell, a locomotive engineer for Union Pacific Railroad who described himself as a Democrat. Mr. Worrell also seconded the president's position that it is better to fight terrorism abroad than it is on American soil.

"He's right - I agree that we want to fight them over there not here," he said.
Then Specialist Worrell spoke: "But you can't destroy a country because you think they might come over here."

Specialist Worrell said she came to love many of the people she met and was able to help during the 5½ months she spent in Iraq before she was injured. She said she agreed with Mr. Bush that building roads and schools was a positive contribution to the world. "I don't feel it was a waste because of the people I got to meet and help," she said. "But we went over there for war, and now I think he's just telling you what you want to hear."

...including more proof that the Bush administration's mind-meld of Iraq and 9/11 has been very effective with members ofthe military and their families:

Petty Officer Garcia, whose battalion moved heavy equipment around the country, does not want to return to Iraq. In April 2004, he said, insurgents bombed a convoy he was traveling in, killing two members of his battalion. Days later, five more died when mortar fire hit their base. But he supports Mr. Bush's plan even if it means he must go back.

"I didn't watch seven of my buddies die just to withdraw without finishing the job," he said, adding that among other things, that would make terrorists think they could attack the United States again. As a human being, yes, "bring our boys back home," he said. "But this nation was built on standing up for itself. The terrorists came in and trashed our house, and it's on us to take care of them so it doesn't happen again."


Does he believe critics of the war who say Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?

"I remember hearing that in the movie 'Fahrenheit 9/11' " he said. "But in the end, it's all one big net. The bottom line is terrorists are everywhere out there, and all this stuff that came out afterwards about whether we should be in Iraq - you know what? What's done is done. We are in there, so let's finish the job and let them get back on their feet."

... and this summation:

Col. David Slotwitski, a former chief of staff for recruiting who retired in 2004 and watched the speech from his home in Olympia, said: "He just did a great rehash of everything that's been said so far.

"The last part of it, where he came out strong and thanked the troops, that was well done. But in the end, there still was not really that call for service. There was no call to arms. He didn't say 'America, I need your sons and daughters to support us in the fight.' "

Heading overseas, the BBC's analysis is charitable, calling the speech"subdued" but probably effective in the July 4 short-run.

Meanwhile the Guardian focuses on Bush's continued use of 9/11 to boost support for the Iraq war, something David Gergen warned could ultimately do even more damage to the president's credibility with the American people. And the Guardian's Leader column offers a sober Iraq assessment.

Ireland online focuses on the troop levels and timetable.

Al Jazeera goes with a wire story that touches on the speech, the politics, the Cheney "throes" and a protest outside the speech by

...and Germany's Deutsche Welle is short and to the point (this really is the entire story):

Bush says Iraq war worth it

US President George W. Bush has acknowledged American doubts about his Iraq strategy but argued it was worth the costs. In a keynote address one year after the US transferred power back to Iraqis, Bush repeatedly invoked the September 11 attacks and cited al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as a reason for staying the course. Bush also rejected calls for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq or sending more troops. Meanwhile, just hours before Bush's speech a suicide bomber killed a prominent member of the Iraqi parliament, along with his son and three bodyguards. Dhari al-Fayadh was the second Iraqi lawmaker to be assassinated since a new government took power in April.

posted by JReid @ 1:20 AM  
Liberal bias in the graphics department?
Something tells me didn't mean this headline the way it looks... I mean, that would be a pretty harsh commentary on the president's speech ... hm...

posted by JReid @ 1:00 AM  
Be Bush's ambassador!
Der Spiegel spills the beans on just how much money you have to give to the GOP to get the nod.
posted by JReid @ 12:50 AM  
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Axis of delusion
E&P asks if Dick Cheney is the new Baghdad Bob. And is there really any reason to watch GWB's Iraq speech tonight? There won't be anything new -- no breaking news -- just a rehash of all the latest justifications for invading Iraq: freedom yada yada yada, stay the course yada yada yada or you're a traitor. TVNewser as of 9:17 this morning reported that two of the three big networks and even Fox were undecided as to whether or not they would put their reruns on hold and carry Bush's speech live.
Updating yesterday's post: "CBS, NBC and Fox all said they would decide sometime
Tuesday whether to carry the speech," Paul Gough reports. "Concerns centered on the potential newsworthiness of the speech and the fact that it was being given not in the Oval Office but far from Washington."

BTW, a new poll says most Americans want the president to be "flexible" on Supreme Court nominees. But since when does Bush care what most Americans want? After all, he's the president of the Free Republic.
posted by JReid @ 2:54 PM  
Mining the WaPo
Robert MacMillan explains just how f'ed up the Supco decision on cable providers really is.

The 6-3 decision means that cable Internet providers won't have to face competition from smaller rivals who don't have the resources to build their own networks. And the Baby Bell phone giants, who are required to share their lines, are already clamoring that yesterday's ruling means they should get the same treatment.

That's just what we need -- even less choice. It means that situations like the one that happened to me last week will continue to occur across the country. ...

I live in Alexandria, Va., where last week I made an appointment to get Comcast to outfit my apartment with broadband Internet access. The first appointment didn't work out; the customer service rep said they called me to reschedule, though I never received a call. The second appointment foundered on similar grounds. By the time I got around to finding a human being to schedule a third appointment, I was ready to go with the competition.

But there wasn't any. The best I could do was splutter about how if this behavior continued, I'd... I'd... I'd choose Verizon DSL. But I didn't want DSL. I wanted cable. I like how reliable it is once it works, and I have enough friends who told me DSL horror stories that I didn't want to take the chance.

You see where this is going.

On an up note, Richard Cohen takes down Ed Klein and Karl Rove in one fell swoop (and throws in the Bush cult Freepers for good measure).

If I were a right-winger, I would be offended by both Klein and Rove. But I am
not a conservative, and so I can only wonder at their gullibility. Right-wingers are the useful idiots of our times and while they have their occasional left-wing counterparts, the lefties will not buy essentially the same book over and over again -- if only because they lack the funds.

E. J. Dionne tags Rove, too, along with his McCarthyits friends...

Meanwhile, Howard Kurtz downloads the White House vs. the press corps, Michael Tomasky vs. Ed Klein and Ed Klein vs. Tina Brown, plus this:

More on the Post Three: Frank Rich reported Sunday that CPB hired a guy to evaluate guests on the public radio shows of Diane Rehm and Tavis Smiley. "Three of The Washington Post's star beat reporters (none of whom covers the White House or politics or writes opinion pieces) were similarly singled out simply for doing their job as journalists by asking questions about administration policies."

My investigation reveals that the three are Dana Priest, Walter Pincus and Robin
Wright. Rich is right--they're all hard-working beat reporters. Is public broadcasting now afraid of such people?

Did you hear about this Dallas Morning News story about a conference of young Republicans? "Party strategist Grover Norquist lambasted three Republicans who broke party ranks over the issue of judicial filibusters. He referred to them as 'the two girls from Maine and the nut-job from Arizona' - Sens. Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and John McCain."

And McCain is going to get the GOP nomination with this crowd hanging around? I'll bet Arizona John wishes he could just skip the primary and go straight to the general election with Hillary...

posted by JReid @ 2:36 PM  
Bush on eminent domain and baseball, not that Bush, the other one ... back in April, regarding the Florida Marlins (er... Miami Marlins) attempts to get taxpayers to foot part of the bill for a $350 million retractable roof stadium in downtown Miami:

Wed. April 6, 2005, Miami Herald

Marlins' ballpark plan gets resistance

-- againAs the Florida Marlins take to the field for opening day, the effort to build a new ballpark with public money gets more difficult.

County numbers crunchers insist the stadium will generate between $7 million and $8 million in sales tax annually, but Fabricant blasted claims that professional teams boost public coffers.

He suggested that the money consumers spend at new stadiums is money that would have been spent elsewhere. He noted that some 40 economic studies conducted by independent researchers ''unambiguously and clearly'' agree: ``There is no net positive economic benefit from publicly supported professional sports teams and

Were stadiums good for the economy, Fabricant suggested, ``the Bronx and Detroit would be stellar examples of economic development. They're not. 'From an economic development perspective,'' he added, ``it's very rare to find positive economic development in these projects.''


The county has said it may need to take as many as 50 homes near the site to build the ballpark under its power of eminent domain -- a government's authority to force a sale of property when it will use it for a public purpose.

The move, Bush said, gives him ``pause.'' ''We have to be careful about how we go about using [eminent domain] or expanding its use,'' Bush said. ``Mark me down as pondering and reflecting on the subject.''

At least someone has been pondering and reflecting. Interesting to see how both Bushes respond to the Kelo ruling... so far, nothing.

Previous posts on this topic:
posted by JReid @ 1:46 PM  
Lurching toward Havana
I'm usually accustomed to hearing liberals say that under the Bush administation, the U.S. is edging closer and closer to Cuba or the old Soviet Union. Between the Patriot Act and the administration's brazen attempts to control the media (including public broadcasting), the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government have been giving away a little bit more of America's "specialness" every year. Now it's the Supreme Court's turn to play, and their recent decisions are, in many ways, straight out of Havana (and riling complaintants on the other side.)

Topping the list of Supco outrages is the Kelo v. New London decision, allowing municipalities to seize the property of one private owner and hand it over to another private owner whom the city deems "better" for urban development. Judging by the outpouring of public outrage, the decision didn't fool anyone with its "banthe blight" sugary coating. Instead, most Americans -- ironically, particularly those on the right -- see it for what it was: at worst, a straight-ahead sop to big developers and the politicians they pay for, and at best, an example of trust in government run amok. So why is this an issue making so much more waves on the right than on the left?

One reason could be the kinds of private entities that often own huge tracts of undeveloped land in urban or near-urban settings. In many cases, those owners include churches. In South Florida, large denomination churches in some cities own acres of land around their main buildings. With devlopable land quickly drying up in the U.S. housing boom, those lands are becoming more and more attractive and valuable to developers, who need only throw together a Community Redevelopment Agency, slap a minority or two on the board, grease up a few local pols, and it's IKEA, here we come!

Think about it: the suburbs are all-but built out. The next place developers are going, particularly here in South Florida, is downtown. And who owns large tracts of property downtown? Owners of Section 8 housing and apartments, retail holdouts who haven't hit the highway, and churches. They, far more than individual homeowners, are going to be the ones who find themselves in the path of oncoming "urban renewal."

That reality wasn't lost on the dissenters on the Court, including even Clarence Thomas, who for the first time I can recall, showed a modicum of interest in the history and fate of people like him. From Thomas' dissent:

Allowing the government to take property solely for public purposes is bad enough, but extending the concept of public purpose to encompass any economically beneficial goal guarantees that these losses will fall disproportionately on poor communities. Those communities are not only systematically less likely to put their lands to the highest and best social use, but are also the least politically powerful. If ever there were justification for intrusive judicial review of constitutional provisions that protect "discrete and insular minorities," United States v. Carolene Products Co., 304 U. S. 144, 152, n. 4 (1938), surely that principle would apply with great force to the powerless groups and individuals the Public Use Clause protects. The deferential standard this Court has adopted for the Public Use Clause is therefore deeply perverse. It encourages "those citizens with dis-proportionate influence and power in the political pro-cess, including large corporations and developmentfirms" to victimize the weak.

Those incentives have made the legacy of this Court's "public purpose" test an unhappy one. In the 1950's, no doubt emboldened in part by the expansive understanding of "public use" this Court adopted in Berman, cities "rushed to draw plans" for downtown development. B. Frieden & L. Sagalayn, Downtown, Inc. How America Rebuilds Cities 17 (1989). "Of all the families displaced by urban renewal from 1949 through 1963, 63 percent of those whose race was known were nonwhite, and of these families, 56 percent of nonwhites and 38 percent of whites had incomes low enough to qualify for public housing, which, however, was seldom available to them." Id., at 28. Public works projects in the 1950's and 1960's destroyed predominantly minority communities in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Baltimore, Maryland. Id., at 28-29. In 1981, urban planners in Detroit, Michigan, uprooted the largely "lower-income and elderly" Poletown neighborhood for the benefit of the General Motors Corporation. J. Wylie, Poletown: Community Betrayed 58 (1989). Urban renewal projects have long been associated with the displacement of blacks; "[i]n cities across the country, urban renewal came to be known as 'Negro removal.' " Pritchett, The "Public Menace" of Blight: Urban Renewal and the Private Uses of Eminent Domain, 21 Yale L. & Pol'y Rev. 1, 47 (2003). Over 97 percent of the individuals forcibly removed from their homes by the "slum-clearance" project upheld by this Court in Berman were black. 348 U. S., at 30. Regrettably, the predictable consequence of the Court's decision will be to exacerbate these effects.

Of course, this is the same Clarence Thomas who delivered the Court's opinion yesterday, finding that big, monopolist cable companies "with disproportionate influence and power" should be able to force you to use their broadband services, withholding their underground lines and preventing competition that could benefit comparatively "weak" consumers... and who's for every intrusive act of the federal government and who seems incapable of perceiving racial bias in jury selection even when it's slamming him over the head ...

But then, he's still Clarence Thomas.

Previous posts on this topic:
posted by JReid @ 1:06 PM  
Venus, if you will...
Looks like it's going to be Sharapova-V. Williams at the Wimbledon semi-finals.
posted by JReid @ 1:03 PM  
Win Ben Stein's popularity
Bush's approval rating heading into his primetime Iraq sales pitch on Tuesday: officially in the crapper. 53% disapprove, 45% think he's doing a swell job, according to CNN/USAToday/Gallup.

Maybe ThePrez should try warming the TV crowd up with a few jokes before his speech tonight ... have you heard the one about the president who pushed the hunt for Osama bin Ladin aside to launch an unneccessary war, and then didn't know how to fix the mess he and his neocon friends made after they failed to find weapons of mass destruction...?

...That's it, George ... just clap and wave .. clap and wave...
posted by JReid @ 12:27 AM  
Monday, June 27, 2005
Where it the world is....
Michael Jackson...? Guardian's newsblog tracks him down. ("hee hee!")
posted by JReid @ 5:19 PM  
Great site for those interested in news from the Americas, particularly Haiti:
Haitian Institute for International Studies ( .
posted by JReid @ 2:16 PM  
The (rich) people's court
The latest rash of Supreme Court decisions raises a troubling prospect for the left: that when it counts, its beloved moderate-liberal axis, and not just the hated axis of Freeper (Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas) is in thrall to big corporations against the interests of average Americans.

First there was the dreadful Kelo v. New London decision (5-4 with the "liberals" in the majority), which essentially turned the "ownership society" upside down by ruling that city leaders can decide that your hard-earned property is better off being owned by someone else... then today, the Court ruled ... unanimously ... that the entertainment industry, unable to find an old-fashioned marketing response to the file sharing phenomenon, are free to try and sue it out of existence.

On another case, the Court seemed to revert to form with a 6-3 ruling that cable companies can monopolize the broadband Internet market by forcing consumers to use their services, and withholding use of their underground lines by rival Internet companies. The deicision will limit choice to consumers, while throwing a big, fat bone to the Gilded Agers in the Bush administration. Vindicating my loathing of him -- temporarily suspended due to my agreement with him on Kelo -- Clarence Thomas reasoned in this case that judges should defer to the "expertise" of the political appointees at the FCC, "which concluded that limited access is best for the industry" (AP); a startling turnabout from his Kelo dissent, in which he foreshadowed the grave consdequences of a "city officials know best" policy on home seizures. I guess Thomas is only for the little guy when he stands in the way of "urban renewal..."
posted by JReid @ 11:52 AM  
Supreme anxiety
The Rehnquist watch has begun, after the Court issued another series of decisions that are sure to disappoint both sides of the Great Divide:
  • No on the public display of the Ten Commandments ... sort of;
  • Yes to suing file sharing services;
  • No review of the CIA leak case;
  • No, cable co's don't have to share
(Best Freeper post so far in response to the Court's sometimey Commandments decision, which struck down two displays in Kentucky but declined to outlaw all such displays, including one in Texas: "Well, at least they followed the 11th commandment. Don't Mess with Texas.")

Meanwhile, the right's anxiety, fueled by the God-awful Kelo v. New London decision and likely to be heightened by the liberal justices' 5-4 partial rejection of the Law of Moses, will be kicking into high gear as the Bush administration prepares to narrow down its shortlist into a single Rehnquist replacement (assuming he steps down). Novak runs down the right's fear and loathing of a Gonzalez nomination. This amid speculation by Bill Kristol in the Weekly Standard last week that Justice O'Connor -- and not Rehnquist -- could be the first to step down. (Apparently she is looking to spend more time with ailing family in Arizona, or some such-like...) If O'Connor goes, and Bush takes the opportunity to replace her "moderate seat" with moderate (and Hispanic) Gonzalez, watch for heads to literally explode on the right. The ideal scenario for the right is that both O'Connor and Rehnquist's chairs would be filled by reliable religous rightists, making the Court a 6-3 environment for the hated Roe v. Wade...

Slate runs down the Bush shortlist, and from last Thursday, explains why liberals might be sorry to see Mr. Rehnquist go.
posted by JReid @ 10:11 AM  
Postmark: America
In its latest scoop on #10 Downing Street, the Sunday Times of London intercepted the following letter on its way from Washington D.C. to the heart of power in the U.K.:

Office of Prime Minister Tony Blair
#10 Downing Street
London, England

Dear dad:

I'm have an absolutely smashing time on my Amerian internship. Congressman Dreier is absolutely the bees knees! He even took me to a real life congressional hangout -- he said it was just toppers, and he was right. It was a bit strange that only blokes frequent the place, but no matter -- some of them were dressed like girls, so I suppose it's all liver and beans in the end ...

Representative Dreier tells me I fit right in Capitol Hill -- called me a right young Republican, he did. He said my conservative dark suit and tie, and my clean cut appearance made me very appealing to him -- said it made me look masculine, yet boyish -- even commented on my creamy skin -- dunno why he focused on that... and my soft hands and perfumy smelling hair... That David -- he said I could call him David -- sure is a capitol bloke (hey, that was a bit of a joke, yeah?)

He's so nice to me, he even offered to give me a massage after we'd had a particularly tough day, dealing with the Democrats on the rules committee. He went so far out of his way, I thought he'd never stop rubbing! Made a bit of a noise whilst he was at it, but no matter... They're so nasty to him, those Democrats: kept calling him 'Mrs. Schwarzenegger' behind his back and playing the wedding march whenever he and I leave a room. I must say, despite what they say about Americans, I have to admit to being absolutely gobsmacked by the rudeness over here. They may not have prime minister's question time (David said President Bush would have an aneurism if he had to actually answer lawmakers' questions in a forum like that without someone there to give him the answers...) but they sure do have a lot of rules...

For example, David says never to put my head on his shoulder in public. Says people are out to get him and they might get the wrong idea -- like that awful Michael Jackson and that cancer-stricken boy. Dunno why he thinks I might do something like that, but I try to take in every piece of advice with an open mind and without asking too many stupid questions. He also says its very important to have on proper trousers -- flat fronts are best -- and he's so nice, he even helped me adjust mine today: hand his hand on my bum for a full thirteen minutes before I insisted he shouldn't go to any bother... David also says it's always important to apply "product" before going on television chat shows. I don't know what "product" is, but he made it sound so important, I made his legislative aide, "Pat", promise to get me some the next time he -- or it could be she -- was in the mens' store. David also says, I shouldn't drink to much at the bar, or leave my drink unattended, else I might wake up face down in some old, fat queen's bed. I didn't know they had a queen over here...!

Last thing, David promised to show me the ropes -- kind of break me in over here -- before it's the Democrats' turn with me. David says it's okay that I intend to intern with the other side too, but for some reason, he says I should steer a wide berth around someone named Barney Frank. ... Dunno but he seems really competitive with this Mr. Frank over me ... calls him an absolute bollucks poacher...

Anyway, I'm really enjoying myself, dad. David and I are as chummy as you are with President Bush (though we aren't planning on blowing anything up without a legal backing, eh, guvna!!???). And I don't even mind those sniveling, Georgetown interns calling me his "poodle." He's even offered to let me stay with him while I'm here. Poor thing lives all alone with nothing but a Jack Russell terrier and more muscle shirts than I've ever seen in my life!

Well, that's all for now, dad. I'm off to something called "the bath house" with David. Imagine: an entire house dedicated to a city in dear old England! I sure hope they have "product" there -- David says I'm going to need to oil up really good before I can be a right topper like him (although he's so modest, he denies being a topper at all...)

Toodle-oo for now, father.

God bless, and God save the queen!

Love, Euan

P.S.: I've enclosed a picture of us taken at a place called the U.S. Male (I feel like a regular part of the "old boys club" ennit, dad?!) Cheers!

David and me at "The U.S. Male"

posted by JReid @ 2:30 AM  
A brilliant piece of work
...Harvard K-school's Michael Ignatieff writing in the New York Times about freedom, American idealism and exceptionalism, and the convergence between Jefferson and Iraq. Sums up everything I believe about this war. Damned good work.
posted by JReid @ 2:20 AM  
The apology train keeps rolling along
Durbin apologizes again ... this time to Illinois veterans. Actors who appeared in "Black Hawk Down" (a phenomenal movie, btw, which I watched Sunday night) can't be far off...
posted by JReid @ 2:00 AM  
In case you missed it...
Frank Rich has a must-read article on the creepy goings on with the Bush administration and its paid monitoring of public broadcasting. Can you say "enemies list?" The long and short of it is that Bush's new chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting apparently paid an Indiana man named Fred Mann more than $14,000 to monitor the programs of Bill Moyers, Tavis Smiley and Diane Rehm. Rich picks it up from here:

Their guests were rated either L for liberal or C for conservative, and "anti-administration" was affixed to any segment raising questions about the Bush presidency. Thus was the conservative Republican Senator Chuck Hagel given the same L as Bill Clinton simply because he expressed doubts about Iraq in a discussion mainly devoted to praising Ronald Reagan. Three of The Washington Post's star beat reporters (none of whom covers the White House or politics or writes opinion pieces) were similarly singled out simply for doing their job as journalists by asking questions about administration policies.

"It's pretty scary stuff to judge media, particularly public media, by whether it's pro or anti the president," Senator Dorgan said. "It's unbelievable."

Indeed. Definitely worth reading it all.
posted by JReid @ 1:14 AM  
Can't get it back
Damnit, that Stella went and lost her groove again...!
posted by JReid @ 12:42 AM  
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Sunday stew
Paul Krugman on The War President. ... Also in NYT: the Polist plumber.

And is it just me, or is the Guardian having just too, too much fun explicating George Dubya's war woes? Besides "Battered Bush watches as support ebbs away," the other Sunday headline on the Guard is "Bush asks US: stay with me on Iraq."

Over at the Sunday Times, mum's the word from Condi Rice regarding women's rights in the Mideast, and apparently, we've gotten so fed up with trying to stop the Iraqi insurgents from blowing things up, we've actually started negotiating with them. The Freepers won't like that...

Meanwhile WaPo goes inside the high living CIA operation in Italy that's now got that government issuing arrest warrants.
posted by JReid @ 2:04 AM  
Get there while you can
Despite the cold, I'd love to see Alaska sometime ... better make it soon.
posted by JReid @ 2:01 AM  
Kelo rising, part 2
More on the Hollywood, Fla. eminent domain case ... and Tucker Carlson's one-on-one with the lawyer for the city of New London.
posted by JReid @ 1:54 AM  
Liberals rating low on the Kelometer?
As much as I hate to be wrong, it seems that Malkin, Instapundit basically have it right when they point t0 the virtual silence of the liberal blogosphere on the Kelo ruling. (Sigh.) A quick cruise of the top lib blogs, including Kos, finds nothing much on the ruling, but lots of continued obsessing over Karl Rove. There are also gratuitous links today to this year-old story about Young Republicans members who love the war but aren't interested in signing up to fight it. (Only TPM seems to have caught the article-age problem...) Newsflash guys: nobody wants to sign up for what would surely be a one-way ticket to Iraq, and even if the Alex P. Keaton set did want to sign up -- which they don't -- their parents wouldn't let them. Yes, yes, noone of the righties served, Limbaugh was a Vietnam coward with a boil on his bum and on and on and on... what about this awful ruling, whose impact will be felt far, far from New London, Connecticut???

I couldn't tell you why this thing is shaking out the way it is, but my suspicion is that the liberal world in general suffers a kind of tissue rejection when called on to take a position that would align them with a certain group who decided the wrong way in Bush v. Gore. If the dissents in this case had found just as forcefully that the ruling sided with big developers over less-than-affluent homeowners, but been written by Souter, Ginsberg,, I (sadly) have to assume you would have heard a louder hew and cry from the left.

Come on guys -- let's focus here. Karl Rove is not going to resign and you can't make him. Why would Bush give away his best political asset for essentially saying what Rush Limbaugh says about liberals every day on the radio? Glenn Reynolds calls you guys "the Kossaks" -- maybe he should resign or apologize, and I don't even want to tell you what Malkin says about liberals and Democrats alike (let alone her fellow minorities... this lady sounds like she'd like to inter the Japanese tomorrow...) The Democratic Party is supposed to be about supporting the little guy, it's supposed to be about upholding the dignity of the working man against the indignity of naked corporate greed, and about not allowing lobbyists, developers and paid-off politicians to run roughshod over our rights. That's why I'm still a Democrat, despite the many, many, politically stupid things my party does in the name of "pleasing the base."

Imagine the irony of the right wing universe getting out front to take up the cause of individuals against big business and potentially corrupt government -- against a practice their president has used to his own financial advantage, and which is more often than not wielded by his pet industry: Major League Baseball! And you know what? I don't begrudge them this fight, because it's the right thing to do. I don't care if I have to side with Clarence Thomas and his momma, this eminent domain ruling is wrong, wrong, wrong, and I hope the Congress will forget the flag burning amendment and get to work on legislation that would limit this ugly practice before some other homeowner gets run over by a Wal-Mart or condo complex.

I hope I'm wrong, and that I just need to dig deeper into the lib blogs to find the outrage. If not, I think this is a case where the liberal wing of the party has got its priorities all fouled up.

Previous posts on this topic:

Kelo rising
Don't come back now, y'hear?
Their eminence
Adventures in Eminent Domain
Eminent nonsense
This land is your land ... or not
In America?
posted by JReid @ 1:17 AM  
Saturday, June 25, 2005
One boob out, two boobs in
Now that that creepy Ashcroft guy is gone, it's once again time to release the mammaries on Capitol Hill.
posted by JReid @ 3:21 PM  
Iran gives the West the (purple) finger
Looks like the Bush administration's anti-poll rhetoric really had an effect on Iran -- unfortunately it was precisely the opposite effect they were looking for. It will be interesting to see how things progress now that Tehran's hardline former mayor is in charge (well, Ayatollah Khameni is really in charge, but there you go, Iranian democracy...) Then again, maybe they're more like us than we think: the Iranian poll has its own complaints of vote fraud...)

So far, the Iranian blogosphere is responding to the landslide poll result with despair, but the truth is, nobody really knows what's in store for the West now, although two things are clear: nuclear talks between Iran, the E.U. and the U.S. just got a lot more complicated, and Iran just became the next Venezuela, complete with tons of oil for the nationalizing, and a leader not predisposed to pro-American feelings.
posted by JReid @ 2:43 PM  
Kelo rising
Update: Kelo whiplash in Dallas -- Outside the Beltway blogs the impact on the Cowboys' stadium.


In case you're tempted to think the horror that is the Kelo decision will have limited application in our real lives, consider this example of an eminent domain outrage that's been brewing here in South Florida (which is quickly becoming the land of overpriced homes, strip malls and Super Wal-Marts) even before the Supreme Court dropped its F-bomb ("F-you, homeowner") decision this week (thanks to R.I. for catching me up on this story):

In this case, the neighborhood slated for "economic development" is far from a decaying urban outpost, as the New London city officials have asserted in their television defenses of the SUPCO decision. The target in Florida is in middle class Hollywood, in the county just to the north of Miami. The Miami Herald picks it up from here:

Wed, Jun. 22, 2005

City set to seize disputed property

A developer who wants to build condominiums above the Great Southern Hotel and save portions of the historic Hollywood landmark now has the city's legal muscle behind his effort to acquire a downtown building which is key to his project.

After hours of debate and emotional pleas from residents, city commissioners voted 5-2 to use their powers of eminent domain, which allow governments and redevelopment agencies to ''take'' property for a public purpose.

''I thought it was a public purpose to preserve 50 percent of the Great Southern Hotel,'' said Vice Mayor Cathy Anderson.

Hollywood's downtown Community Redevelopment Agency is working on behalf of Southern Facilities Development, which plans to build Young Circle Commons, a 19-story building with about 200 condos and 25,000 square feet of commercial space.

The CRA will now attempt to negotiate with property owner, 1843 LLC. If negotiations break down, the CRA will file a lawsuit. A judge then rules whether the property can be taken and, if it can, a jury decides the compensation.

David Mach, manager of 1843 LLC, said although the city has been discussing the project for several years, his family has never been notified of any meeting or proceeding. City officials said there was no legal requirement to notify the property owner before eminent-domain proceedings begin.

Mach says he does not want to sell the 2,900-square-foot building at 1843 Harrison St. An April 29, 2005 appraisal, commissioned by the CRA, valued the property at $725,000. A Feb. 3, 2005 appraisal came in at $850,000.

''Not everyone can be bought,'' Mach said.

Before the vote, Hollywood beach resident Kerry Sisselman said she was alarmed by the city's decision. She wondered if the city would target the T-shirt shops or Angelo's Pizza on the beach in the name of redevelopment.

''What will happen to my home on Hollywood beach?'' Sisselman asked. ``Will there be a line drawn once this precedent is set?''

The city had been awaiting the Kelo decision in hopes it would bolster their case. They clearly got their wish. (article contains pics, if you don't want to register, here's the print-friendly version.)

The irony is that these CRA's (community development agencies) take state and federal money, and come in under the guise of salvaging communities for the benefit of residents, but more often than not, the "public good" they're serving comes in the form of a baseball stadium, luxury condo's or strip malls, which mainly benefit middle and upper-class residents who move in, or wealthy developers who make a killing on the property. I can't tell you how many decaying neighborhoods are quickly turning into prime pieces of real estate in South Florida, simply due to the combination of their location and the diminishing acreage of developable land in this real estate boom-town.

How the "liberals" and moderates on the Court could have thought that siding with wealthy developers over property owners bears any resemblance to advancing the public good is beyond me. As one letter writer to the Herald put it on Friday, clearly, in Florida (and apparently, everywhere else, "developers rule."

Previous posts on this topic:

Don't come back now, y'hear?
Their eminence
Adventures in Eminent Domain
Eniment nonsense
This land is your land ... or not
In America?
posted by JReid @ 1:21 PM  
Don't come back now, y'hear?
File this under so sad, it's funny. Blogger Vince Autmorire trades Kelo for the Clampetts. Here's hoping none of you are living in the path of an oncoming Wal-Mart...
posted by JReid @ 10:42 AM  
Friday, June 24, 2005
Poll vault
The latest Zogby poll shows John McCain running rings around Hillary Clinton in a theoretical presidential matchup:

(keeping in mind that this is without the benefit of a bruising primary that brings down both their negatives, and it presumes that McCain could get past the Freepers and actually win the Republican primary...) McCain also beats John Kerry inthe poll, but honestly, does anyone really care...?

Back in the real world, the poll also reiterates the total deflation of George W. Bush's support across the board, in red states and blue, and in every conceivable job performance category, including the war on terror, his centerpiece issue (The conservative UK Independent's Friday headline was a keeper: America turns on Bush over Iraq). Wingers tempted to write off Zogby will find no comfort in any other poll, including CNN/USA Today Gallup, and even Fox/Opinion Dynamics -- all show the same trend. Bush (and Congress, for that matter,) are officially in the crapper.

Rasmussen, who was probably the most accurate pollster during the 2004 election, released a poll today showing Bush's job approval rating at 48%, with an even more astounding 49% of respondents saying Bush was more responsible for starting the Iraq war than Saddam Hussein. Iin that same poll, 70% say prisoners at Gitmo have been treated "about right" or "better than they deserve," and 52% say global warming is a threat to the human race...
posted by JReid @ 11:06 PM  
Their eminence
More proof of the bi-partisan revulsion over eminent domain, from way back in January.
posted by JReid @ 8:27 PM  
Adventures in Eminent Domain

Since this is one that I agree with them on, I'm curious how the right-wing universe feels about eminent domain when it's used by one of their own...

Michelle Malkin today:
"My wonk-ish hope is that more attention will be paid to bogus community redevelopment/urban blight eradication/tax increment-financing schemes masquerading as "public use" projects. In the New London case, the private corporate beneficiary was Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant. In Seattle, it was Nordstrom (reg reqd). Across the country, it's money-losing multiplexes and luxury stadium deals. In all cases, the losers are taxpayers, homeowners, and small businesses..."

Well, remember this story, which mirror's today's WaPo headline about how the Washington Nationals could benefit from the Supreme Courts property redistribution ruling? In the late 1980s, before he became governor of Texas, George W. Bush's profession wasn't politics (or oil, since he couldn't exactly find any in Texas), it was baseball. His father helped him snag a sweetheart deal to own a piece of the Texas Rangers, and before he screwed it up by OKing the trade of Sammy Sosa, Bush scored one big success: he and his partners built the Rangers a brand new ballpark. How'd they do it? Through the miracle of eminent domain. From the Texas Observer in 1998:

In 1993, while walking through the stadium, Bush told the Houston Chronicle, "When all those people in Austin say, 'He ain't never done anything,' well, this is it." But Bush would have never gotten the stadium deal off the ground if the city of Arlington had not agreed to use its power of eminent domain to seize the property that belonged to the Mathes family. And evidence presented in the Mathes lawsuit suggests that the Rangers' owners -- remember that Bush was the managing general partner -- were conspiring to use the city's condemnation powers to obtain the thirteen-acre tract a full six months before the ASFDA [Arlington Sports Facilities Development Authority [... which was set up by the city to condemn land for, and administer, the Ballpark at Arlington project] was even created.

In an October 26, 1990, memo from Mike Reilly (an Arlington real estate broker and part owner of the Rangers), to Tom Schieffer, Reilly says of the Mathes property, "... in this particular situation our first offer should be our final offer.... If this fails, we will probably have to initiate condemnation proceedings after the bond election passes."

The Mathes memo reveals a sharp contrast between Bush's public pronouncements in defense of property rights and his private profiteering. While running against Ann
Richards, Bush said, "I understand full well the value of private property and its importance not only in our state but in capitalism in general, and I will do everything I can to defend the power of private property and private property rights when I am the governor of this state."

Yet Bush and his partners used Arlington's powers to condemn the land for the stadium, and relied on taxpayers to repay the bonds sold to build the Ballpark -- receiving what amounts to a direct $135-million subsidy. Now, after tripling the amount they paid for the Rangers, Bush and his partners won't re-pay the city a measly $7.5 million.

An earlier article, also from the Texas Observer, by the same wrtier, Robert Bryce:

Briefly, here’s what happened on the Ballpark deal. Bush and his partners in the Rangers convinced Arlington officials to:

• Pass a half cent sales tax to pay for 70 percent of the stadium;

• Use the government’s powers of eminent domain to condemn land the Rangers couldn’t or didn’t want to buy on the open market;

• Give the Rangers control over what happens in and around the stadium;

• Allow the Rangers to buy the stadium (which cost $191 million to construct) for just $60 million;

Finally, after twelve years as the sole occupant and primary beneficiary of the stadium project, the Rangers, a privately owned business, can take title to the most expensive stadium ever built in Texas for the $60 million worth of rent and upkeep they will have already paid the city.

Not entough for ya? More links from About Austin, this more up-to-date look at the issue at, which also chronicles the MSM's failure to look into this issue, and this little ditty from the left-wing conspirators at ESPN.

Right wing blogosphere? Your thoughts?
posted by JReid @ 6:43 PM  
Don't sue me but...
Tom Cruise shouldn't be criticizing psychiatry ... he should be seeking it. Immediately.
posted by JReid @ 3:17 PM  
Keep it in the closet
Rush and Malloy lead with the story of Bush's gay assistant secretary of commerce, but the story also includes some meaty quotes from "independent journalist" Ed Klein, who apparently has been stashing some Freeper tendencies in his little, black heart.
posted by JReid @ 3:12 PM  
Eniment nonsense
George Will's column today (his baseball leanings aside) has become the must-read on the Eminent domain boondoggle. Here's a link, and here's an exerpt

The country is bracing for a bruising battle over filling a Supreme Court vacancy, a battle in which conservatives will praise "judicial restraint" and "deference" to popularly elected branches of government and liberals will praise judicial activism in defense of individual rights. But consider what the court did yesterday.

Most conservatives hoped that, in the most important case the court was to decide this term, judicial activism would put a leash on popularly elected local governments and would pull courts more deeply into American governance to protect the rights of individuals. Yesterday conservatives were disappointed.

The case came from New London, Conn., where the city government, like all governments, wants more revenue and has empowered a private entity, New London Development Corp., to exercise the awesome power of eminent domain. It has done so to condemn an unblighted working-class neighborhood in order to give the space to private developers whose condominiums, luxury hotel and private offices would pay more taxes than do the owners of the condemned homes and businesses.

The question answered yesterday was: Can government profit by seizing the property of people of modest means and giving it to wealthy people who can pay more taxes than can be extracted from the original owners? The court answered yes.

Anyone else see the irony in the "liberal" court ruling favoring rich developers or conservatives defending the rights of the little guy?

One organization that's fighting back: The Castle Coalition ( just joined. The links to do so are along the left side).
posted by JReid @ 2:51 PM  
The (liberal) people vs. Karl Rove
Day two of the Karl Rove apology watch. He's still not budging, and neither is the White House, which today began to pivot the argument toward the question of who Rove was talking about: "liberals" or Democrats in general. (Meanwhile, the 9/11 families weigh in on Rove's comments, repudiating them.)

Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford deftly handled the subject on "Countdown" this afternoon, saying he's sure "his liberal friends" have exactly the same will to win the war on terror as Rove does (as polls show was indeed the case, across the ideological spectrum, in the aftermath of 9/11). Nice parry by Ford, which shows he has spotted the WH strategy in its defense of Rove: seeking to draw a dividing line between the elected Democrats (like New York Senators Schumer and Clinton,) who are calling for Rove's head and the "liberal groups" who (sometimes grudgingly) support them. Call it the "MoveOn defense":

WASHINGTON (AP) - A White House official said Friday the administration finds it "somewhat puzzling'' that Democrats are demanding presidential adviser Karl Rove's apology or resignation for implying that liberals are soft on terrorism.

"I think Karl was very specific, very accurate, in who he was pointing out,'' communications director Dan Bartlett said. "It's touched a chord with these Democrats. I'm not sure why.''


"It's somewhat puzzling why all these Democrats ... who responded forcefully after 9-11, who voted to support President Bush's pursuit of the war on terror, are now rallying to the defense of, this liberal organization who put out a petition in the days after 9-11 and said that we ought not use military force in responding to 9-11,'' Bartlett said on NBC's "Today'' show. "That is who Karl Rove cited in that speech ... There is no need to apologize.''

Appearing on CBS's "The Early Show,'' Bartlett said that Rove was "just pointing out that is a liberal organization that didn't defend or accept the way that we prosecuted the war in the days after'' the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington.

At the end of the day, it's virtually indisputable that after the terror attacks, the vast majority of Americans were of one accord -- furious and more than willing to use force to exact payback, and the White House knows it (unfortunately, that payback was supposed to be the invasion of Afghanistan, which had overwhelming support from the American people following the attacks but which has become a tragic afterthought to Bush and his neocon friends' obsession with Iraq). A 2002 Harris poll even found overwhelming support for continued military action outside of Afghanistan, as well as the "assassination of terror leaders":


Americans express a willingness to use military force, including ground troops, in a variety of situations. This is especially true of military action aimed directly at combating terrorism and of multilateral rather than unilateral action. If a multilateral approach is not specified, however, the survey found no majority in favor of using force in several key scenarios that might involve extensive casualties.

In order to combat terrorism, an overwhelming majority of Americans (87%), favor U.S. air strikes against terrorist training camps (up 13 percentage points since 1998.) A hefty 84% favor similar attacks by U.S. ground troops, up a remarkable 27 percentage points, perhaps because of the nearly casualty-free success of the war in Afghanistan.

The use of military troops to "destroy a terrorist camp" is approved by fully 92% of the public. Smaller but still substantial majorities of the public also favor using U.S. troops to assist the Philippine government in fighting terrorism, to topple unfriendly regimes that support terrorist groups, and to help the government of Pakistan against a radical Islamic revolution. A solid 66% of Americans (up 12 points since 1998) favor the assassination of individual terrorist leaders.

It's also not debatable that Congressional Democrats became the veritable playthings of the Bush administration after the attacks, unanimously supporting the Afghanistan project, voting almost universally for the PATRIOT Act and even voting with one exception -- Russell Feingold -- to authorize the use of force against Iraq.

Rove's White House defenders are correct in stating that there were some in the U.S. who thought the use of force, even against Afghanistan, wasn't a good idea (though I still believe Rove was more than happy to impugn all Democrats -- not just liberal ones -- with his remarks). Those people did include liberals like the absolutely toxic ANSWER, the Win Without War Coalition, peacenik groups of all stripes and at times, (although many of these groups have since changed their focus to civil liberties and other issues). Unfortunately for Rove, the post 9/11 peace camp also included some families of 9/11 victims:

Far below the radar of the national media, contrary to what most of us expect, there are gentle but persistent voices who are telling a very different story about the effects of the tragedy of 9/11. An extraordinary group of people are telling their stories, all who lost loved ones in the attack, who took that stunning blow and turned it into a call to action toward a better future and away from the escalating violence that has dominated our world since that fateful day.

Slowly but very steadily, an extraordinary thread of human response has emerged from survivors of 9/11 victims. It has grown into a movement against war and the desire to turn the horrible violence of that day on its head, and work for a better day and a more peaceful world.

During the days and weeks following 9/11, the movement took flight as the families of victims began to speak out against the militaristic retribution that many were calling for in the streets and within the Bush administration. Through emails that became widely circulated and published on Web sites, letters to the editors of local and national news publications and appearances on talk radio and television news programs, these people slowly found one another.

On November 25, 2001, the Walk for Healing and Peace commenced with a group of
peace-oriented family members who lost loved ones on 9/11. Beginning at Georgetown University in D.C., the group traveled over the next eight days to New York City. By mid-December, this group (after much discussion and debate) had chosen a name that best represented their feelings: September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.

Over the next two years, Peaceful Tomorrows participated in hundreds of peace actions, political events, news articles and shows, and traveled to both post-US-bombing Afghanistan and pre-US-bombing Iraq.

The stories of their actions, personal notes from the family members themselves, and emails from both supporters and dissenters have been collected by David Potorti in the book, "September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows: Turning Our Grief into Action for Peace," being published by RDV Books/Akashic Books on the two-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

These folks do fit nicely into Bartlett's spin narrative, because they are clearly liberals but not explicitly Democrats. And since Moveon is already such a nice, juicy target for the right, the White House "it's not you, it's them" defense makes it harder for elected Democrats to maneuver.

That said, the New York delegation had to speak out, and they did, forcefully. But do continuing calls for Rove's resignation make sense? Probably not. First off, he's not going to resign. Second, he's not going to apologize (as Dan Froomkin points out in WaPo today, "why apologize when you said exactly what you meant to say), particularly now that Dan Bartlett has positioned an apology as saying sorry to

I'm probably on my own here, and maybe its because, like Congressman Ford, I don't consider myself a liberal, but personally I couldn't give a toss whether Karl Rove apologizes, resigns or moves to Neverland with Michael Jackson.

I'd prefer to see Democrats focus their anger on the people whose resignations would really mean something -- to our troops in the field who are suffering under their leadership, to the effort in Iraq, to the morale of the homefront, and yes, even to the credibility of the president: as I said in my earlier post, the line for resignations should form behind Donald "Westmoreland" Rumsfeld. After him, I'd take Porter Goss and Dick Cheney -- the guys who say they know where Osama bin Laden is but won't go get him for fear of offending governments like that of our pet dictator in Pakistan.

What changed about public support for the war on terrorism is not that it was undermined by mushy liberals. What changed is the infection of the legitimate terror war with neocon Iraq disase. Bush's distraction move -- invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and virtually forgetting about the guy who hit us: Osama bin Laden, is what poisoned the waters for him among liberals, Democrats, free-thinking Republicans, the late pope, the rest of the friggin world and even some American conservatives.

Rove may have been trying to pull the country back to its post-9/11 groupthink supporting the president by punishing liberals, but he's going to have to name call a lot more people than Moveon in order to fix what his boss has broken.
posted by JReid @ 1:13 PM  
This land is your land ... or not
Maybe someone should check into the sideline interests of the five members of the Supreme Court who ruled in favor of municipal seizures of private property. Think any of them are into D.C. baseball...?

Previous post

I'm in rare agreement with Michelle Malkin on this outrageous ruling, except for her disengenuous claim that only conservatives are speaking out on this ruling. I don't think I've heard a single defense of yesterday's Supreme outrage from anyone outside the government of New London. And I'm no New York Times liberal, but I am a Democrat, and for once, I agree with the Freeperati: the Supreme Court has lost its natural mind.

Text of the majority decision, Kelo vs. New London, and O'Connor's dissent.
posted by JReid @ 12:51 PM  
Thursday, June 23, 2005

It's the Democrats' turn to demand apologies, this time for a statement made by Karl Rove. Here's what Rove said in a speech in New York on Wednesday:

"liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers." Conservatives, he said in the speech to the New York state Conservative Party just a few miles north of Ground Zero, "saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war."


"Has there ever been a more revealing moment this year? Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."

And while Rove said "liberals" he likely meant -- or hoped his audience would hear -- "Democrats" -- the party currently throwing so many nasty roadblocks in the way of the president's congressional agenda. To be honest, Rove's rhetoric is really not much different from what the GOP has said or implied almost since the immediate aftermath of 9/11, and it's less harsh than the way the sentiment is routinely stated on conservative talk radio. Still, it's an opening, and after all the Durbin agonistes, the Dems are hot to pounce on the opportunity for turnabout.

The bigger issue here, I think, is that the White House has officially returned to campaign mode. Having lost most of the public when it comes to Iraq, and facing an escalating, bloody, violent mess in its key foreign policy push, Rove and Co. have decided that the best defense is a good offense -- and what better offense than the same one that worked so well against John Kerry (not to mention going back to the Iraq = al-Qaida canard that worked so well in snookering the american people the first time)? What the White House seems to hope is that they can get the Freeperati all fired up again to defend the war for them. (When you want something done right, get the bloggers to do it). As an added bonus, they hope that will bring up the Dems' negatives and by the law of political reversal, make the president and his policy more popular (possibly giving Bush some leverage to turn things around in the Senate -- though I think this view misses a fundamental point: Bush's Hill problem isn't that Senators aren't sufficiently cowed by his popularity; his problem is that he has no more discernible a strategy for dealing with the lawmakers on Capitol Hill than he has for salvaging Iraq...)

Of course, Bush's other problem is that Iraq is not just sinking in the eyes of liberals, Democrats and pollsters. The administration's Iraq policy is getting a good kicking from Republicans, too, not to mention Gen. Abizaid the CIA. I'm with the Democrats who want to see Rove apologize, or better yet, resign (he won't). But you know, I'm with Ted Kennedy in feeling that the line should form behind Donald Rumsfeld.

What remains to be seen is if the left is as efficient as the right in forcing a mea culpa. Rovewatch begins... now.
posted by JReid @ 3:32 PM  
It depends on what the meaning of "throes" is
Dick Cheney stood by his statement that the Iraq insurgency "is in its last throes" in his interview today with Wolf Blitzer. Cheney's defense: "throes can mean things are still violent." Does Cheney even realize he's contradicting his administration's own commanders in Iraq?
posted by JReid @ 3:25 PM  
CSI: Aruba, part 3
The Natalee Holloway case just gets curiouser and curiouser... Now the father of Joran van der Sloot has been arrested "for questioning." And the mother says police have been putting "tremendous pressure" on her son, calling him a "murderer" and "psychopath."

Riehworldview says the Holloway family is now offering a $150,000 reward in the case, and that the family has been told by police that a resolution "is imminent." Strange days, indeed.

Update: ScaredMonkeys is reporting via "sources" that the deejay, Croes and the two brothers rom Surinam might be released, and that they may have made up the story about dropping Holloway off at the Holiday Inn and that Van der Sloot (the father) may have had something to do with concocting that story. Developing...
posted by JReid @ 3:12 PM  
Stand by your man
Sorry, I'm fascinated by this stuff: Bush and Rove will host a major fundraiser for Lincoln Chafee. Despite their periodic differences, Bush and Chafee seem to stand by one another when it counts (Chafee famously became visibly dispeptic over John Bolton but was unwilling to speak up against him). Before becoming too befuddled, it's important to note that the Bushes and the Chafee's go back a long way -- the two men's fathers were frat brothers at Yale. That may not seem to mean much, but pretty much all of the Bush family's biographers (at least the unauthorized ones) point to an intense fraternal loyalty system, mostly stemming from their Yale ties...
posted by JReid @ 2:29 PM  
There's another documents-for-nomination fight brewing on the Hill, this time over the man George W. Bush has nominated to succeeed Douglas Feith as the Pentagon's policy chief. Sen. Carl Levin says Bush's pick is a non-starter unless the White House hands over docs related to Feith's use of intelligence before the Iraq invasion. Feith is the guy who, along with Pentagon intel chief Stephen Cambone, is most tied to the manipulation of intelligence to make Iraq look like a hotbed of al-Qaida activity despite no evidence of such a connection before the war. Feith's main vehicle for intel sifting was his "Office of Special Plans." (Here's a flashback link to a December 2003 column detailing my one and only face-to-face with Feith). Stay tuned...
posted by JReid @ 2:14 PM  
In America?
I'm not sure which is more frightening: the notion that cities can decide, on their own (without even checking with a federal or other court), to seize an individual's home or property and hand it over to a private developer "for the greater public good," or the fact that the justices I agree with on this score are O'Connor, Scalia, Thomas and Rehnquist. Are we so enamored and trusting of government -- local or otherwise -- that we're willing to take a "father knows best" attitude toward their decisions, pretending to ignore the inevitable influence of well-connected, rich developers versus the little people whose homes are on the block, and who now can be forced to sell to the city? This is an outrage that shouldn't be happening in America.

Quoting someone I never, ever, ever quote, Sandra Day O'Connor on today's SCOTUS ruling:
“Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random,” O’Connor wrote. “The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.” well as someone I normally find totally repulsive:
“The consequences of today’s decision are not difficult to predict, and promise to be harmful,” Thomas wrote (in a separate opinion). “So-called ’urban renewal’ programs provide some compensation for the properties they take, but no compensation is possible for the subjective value of these lands to the individuals displaced and the indignity inflicted.”
So what was the majority's excuse: that city's generally will act in the itnerests of the community -- particularly since many of the devlepment projects that are the "winners" in these property exchange schemes "benefit low income communities."

Writing for the court’s majority in Thursday’s ruling, Justice John Paul Stevens said local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community. States are within their rights to pass additional laws restricting condemnations if residents are overly burdened, he said.

“The city has carefully formulated an economic development that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including — but by no means limited to — new jobs and increased tax revenue,” Stevens wrote.

Bullsh**. So I should lose my home or business so Sam Walton can put up another Wal-Mart in the hood and create more $8 and hour jobs with no benefits? Give me a break! This is social engineering in the Twilight Zone! Cities and their developer friends should certainly be able to make their case for their being a better use for a given piece of property, and if one individual stands in the way of progress, say, for an entire neighborhood that badly needs it, the city should take them to court. The case of blighted or abandoned property is obvious and has nothing to do with this ruling. But at the end of the day, it seems to me that private property has no meaning if the government -- even supposedly do-gooder government -- can compel you to part with it.
posted by JReid @ 1:18 PM  
More news on Iraq's emergence as a prime terrorist training ground; the "terrorist West Point" as some have editorialized. This from the CSMonitor today:

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Online reporter Edmund Roy reports that the development of Iraq as a training ground for terrorists was something that the US and its allies had hoped to avoid.

Two decades ago Afghanistan became the magnet for Islamic militants, who later on became the Al Qaeda network operating under the protection of the Taliban. While the Afghan operation was largely fought on a rural battlefield, the CIA report says that Iraq is now providing extremists with more comprehensive skills, including training in operations devised for populated urban areas. Thus bombings, assassinations and conventional military attacks on police and military targets have increased with deadly effect, but the White House isn't quite ready to admit to anything just yet.

Mr. Roy also reports that American military officers in Iraq have told him
that "the gearing up of a competent new Iraqi military is at least five to
10 years off
. And that really is a figure that is just put forward because
no one quite knows."

...and this:

While the Guardian reports that Britain's Foreign Office and Security Service doubt there will be much "spillover" to other countries, the one country that might face a problem is Saudi Arabia.

If there was to be a spill-over, Saudi Arabia is potentially vulnerable
because many of the Arab fighters in Iraq originate from there. Jamal
Khashoggi, media adviser to the Saudi ambassador in London, said yesterday he agreed in part with the US assessment.

"It will be worse than Afghanistan," he said. "We are talking about a very brutal type, a very weird version of Islam in Iraq. It is very scary."

Newsweek reports that the insurgents' "most powerful weapon" is their vast network of spies and infiltrators. One of the biggest areas of concern is that the new Iraq army may have hundreds of "ghost soldiers" - enlistees who show up irregularly, just enough to keep up connections but are actually working for the insurgents. The US had originally set up a system to screen them out, but it ran into problems.

... with pressure on to find an exit strategy for Iraq – and to build significant Iraqi forces fast – a lot of doubtful characters seem to have slipped through the cracks. Gaps in the process were quickly exploited in a strategic campaign of infiltration by the insurgency.

This is progress? I'd hate to sound a defeatist tone, because I think there is merit to the argument that it does us no good to practically declare defeat in the face of a determined enemy, but at what point do we stop talking defeatism and start talking realism in this never-ending war? And at what point must we start questioning the basic, core competancy of the administration that's in charge of it? Theys seem to have learned nothing from the decade-long Soviet-Afghan war, which is the closest analogy to what we're doing in Iraq (as opposed to Vietnam, where we were intervening essentially in a civil war). And they themselves admit that despite our best efforts, the insurgency isn't weakening, as Dick Cheney so foolishly asserted, it's getting stronger...

posted by JReid @ 1:15 PM  
Justice delayed... not always justice denied. Have a nice rest of your life in prison, Mr. Killen.
posted by JReid @ 1:15 PM  
Burning down the House
{updated from original post on 6/22 at 6:49 p.m.} Look for Gary Ackerman to get "the treatment" from the right wing blogosphere any day now. The New York congressman was on Abrams' show on MSNBC tonight expressing his opposition to the newly minted Constitutional amendment banning flag burning, which was passed by the House 286-130.

Ackerman asked "who passes law banning flag burning? Hitler had a law against burning the flag. Mussolini had a law against burning the flag ... Saddam Hussein had a law making it punishable by death ... dictators pass laws like this. (paraphrasing) ..." I guess he didn't read his Washington Post today ...

Still, Durbin flap be damned, I'm agreeing with Ackerman -- and Dan Abrams -- on this one. Why do we need to amend the United States Constitution -- and the Bill of Rights at that -- to address maybe 120 incidents of desecration of the flag by a few nut-jobs? To paraphrase Abrams, what's next? An amendment barring the desecration of a picture of the president (I'm sure Dubya would love that one)... or maybe one barring American citizens from maligning or ridiculing the Commander in Chief during wartime...? Ackerman is right in saying that an amendment essentially banning protest speech smacks of dictatorial thinking, and paranoia.

A co-sponsor of the House bill stated on the same program that "in an age of terrorism..." we've got to ban actions that could incite our enemies. Well, newsflash GOP grandstanders: our enemies are already incited, and they are the ones doing most of the flag burning (Michelle Malkin has an entire section on her blog that's devoted to the point), along with Muslims all over the world and even people in countries we consider to be our friends.

So what we're saying is, go ahead foreigners angry with America: burn the flag. Just don't give any Americans any ideas? Or is this a sneaky work-around to find a new federal law with which to prosecute potential terrorists, pesky muslims and suspicious looking American citizens whose flag burning might signal that they're somehow down with al-Qaida? Even if that's the thinking, this new amendment, and the laws Washington politicians would create around if it were to pass the Senate (67 votes neeeded) and the 38 necessary state legislatures approved it, could theoretically be used to haul anti-government protesters -- American citizens mind you -- into federal court. Isn't that something dicatorships do?

On a more basic level, what in the hell is Congress doing up there on the Hill? Is this the most pressing item on their agenda? They've done nothing on health insurance, they've screwed up Medicare prescription drugs, and the FBI -- whom Congress supervises -- says it don't need no stinking terrorism experts. Pass a meaningful bill, guys. Cut the bloated budget or the deficit or something. We'll worry about the flag burning yahoos on this end.

Update: Here's what some of the bloggers are posting on this topic--

The conservative Jawa Report on June 15:

Utopian societies are evil because they force men to do what is seen as proper action. Communism compelled redistribution of wealth by murdering millions. Islamists compel proper religious duty through force of law and penalty of death. What makes America the last best hope on Earth is that we compel so little of our proper action. As Dinesh D'Souza so forcefully argues in What's So Great About America:

The radical Islamists hate us not because they misunderstand us, but because they understand us all too well. They know that "America is a subversive idea" -- and that the spread of American ideals such as democracy, capitalism, and individual rights will undermine their efforts to establish theocracy. [source]

To pass an Amendment outlawing flag desecration is to take away a little of America's greatness.

Esquilax revives his flag burning page (and counsels crazies not to bother with the death threats, he's immune...)

Nothing on Powerline, Hugh Hewitt or Malkin's sites yet on this topic... the conservs are peculirarly silent on this one...

Updeate 2: At least one RedState poster disagrees that the amendment is a bad idea --

Re: Flag-burning amendment [Paul J Cella]

I like it for this reason alone: If enacted, it represents the first example in modern times of the republican institution of this nation, namely Congress, rebuking the usurpation of the courts. There is even a certain poetry in the idea that such an example (a big step toward the restoration of robust self-government) would, in its formal appearance, concern the flag, our national symbol.
Posted at 06/22/2005 07:54:27 PM EST - #

posted by JReid @ 12:18 PM  
An Iraq reality check

A new CIA report begins to answer the key question regarding the Iraq war: are we producing terrorists faster than we can kill them? The answer ain't good.

According to the classified CIA report, the Iraq insurgency poses an international threat and may produce better trained Islamic terrorists than the 1980s Afghanistan war that gave rise to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

“The assessment, completed last month and circulated among government agencies, was described in recent days by several Congressional and intelligence officials,” Doug Jehl wrote in The New York Times. “The officials said it made clear that the war was likely to produce a dangerous legacy by dispersing to other countries Iraqi and foreign combatants more adept and better organized than they were before the conflict.”

The report says Iraqi and foreign fighters are developing a broad range of deadly skills, from car bombings and assassinations to tightly coordinated conventional attacks on police and military targets. If and when the insurgency ends, Islamic militants are likely to disperse as highly organized battle-hardened combatants capable of operating throughout the Arab-speaking world and in other regions including Europe.

Vice President Dick Cheney has recently argued that the insurgency is in its last throes, despite reports that the guerrillas have grown more sophisticated and more deadly. [Editor & Publisher]

And here, also from E&P, is McClellan's absolutely incredible answer to a question on how concerned the administration is about these developments at Wednesday's presser:

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let me mention a couple things. As the President has said for some time now, Iraq is a central front in the war on terrorism {overused talkingpoint}. Wherever you stood before the decision to go into Iraq, I think we can all recognize that the terrorists have made it a central front in the war on terrorism {repeated overused talking point}. That's why, as the President said earlier today, we are fighting the terrorists in Iraq so that we don't have to fight them here at home {ridiculously overused talking point}. And that's where things are. And that's why the terrorists understand how high the stakes are ...

Unbelievable. The White House hasn't changed a single word in its talking points in two-and-a-half years -- they remain the same no matter what is happening on the ground in Iraq, just as the administration's team of General Westmorelands continue to insist that the insurgency will fizzle any minute, no matter what is happening on the ground in Iraq (hence, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel's assertion that the White House is untethered to reality):

  • Bush on June 18: "We will fight them over there so we don't have to fight them here"
  • " Our men and women in uniform are fighting terrorists in Iraq, so we do not have to face them here at home." (Bush's 2005 State of the Union Address)
  • "We're still on the offense here in this country. We're chasing down these killers overseas so we don't have to face them here at home ... We're making good progress."Bush quoted in a pre-election Fox News story in September 2004
  • "Our military is confronting terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan and in other places so our people will not have to confront terrorist violence in New York or St. Louis or Los Angeles." George W. Bush in a speech to the American Legion National Convention August 26, 2003
What's even more incredible, is that the Bush minions on talk radio, Fox News and the Freepersphere are willing to suspend rationality, free thought and just plain common sense to repeat these talking points to their listeners and readers -- no matter how absurd those claims now sound in light of CIA and other analyses. (don't miss the Voice of America report from last week citing "experts" who say the Iraq war has actually reduced the terror threat... it's precious.)

It's worth noting that the CIA delivered almost the same assessment of Iraq's prospects in January, which indicates that elections or none, not much has improved in that country, despite the heroic efforts of U.S. troops (with some help from the Iraqi police and soldiers, when they're not getting blown up...)

So what have we learned here? The CIA under Bush's appointed man, Porter Goss, believes that we're churning out international terrorists in Iraq like so many Skittles from the Skittle factory, all trained up and ready for export around the world, and the White House's response is that apparently America is not in or of the world, because we can be assured we won't have to fight them here...?
posted by JReid @ 12:25 AM  
Supreme surprise?
Here's the latest Supreme Court vacancy scuttlebut, this time from William Krystol, who speculates that it might not be Rehnquist who steps down first, and that Alberto Gonzalez may not be long for his present job... (tip courtesy of

Meanwhile, sees things differently. They're saying they've got sources that say Rehquist will be the first to go, and soon ...
posted by JReid @ 12:10 AM  
The uprising
Fiscal conservatives have been stewing since Bush's first term in office. Now they're beginning to rebel. Exhibit A from a card-carrying fellow at the American Enterprise Institute... (originally unearthed by A.Sullivan)
posted by JReid @ 12:03 AM  
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
He said it!
I have absolutely no interest in reading Ed Klein's poorly sourced, factually challenged sleaze book on Hillary Clinton. In case you do, here's a succinct take on the book from someone who has read it: John Podhoretz (in the NY Post):

This is one of the most sordid volumes I've ever waded through. Thirty pages into it, I wanted to take a shower. Sixty pages into it, I wanted to be decontaminated. And 200 pages into it, I wanted someone to drive stakes through my eyes so I wouldn't have to suffer through another word.

Though Klein suggests in his subtitle that he has written a study of a power-hungry politician — "What She Knew, When She Knew It, And How Far She'll Go to Become President" — he's produced something quite different. An unduly celebratory biography is called a "hagiography." Klein's book is a "hate-eography."

Even most conservatives can't abide the book, and by the way, Klein has now backed off the most dispicable charge in the book, namely the charge that Bill conceived daughter Chelsea by raping his wife. While we're going around demanding apologies, I think it's time someone demanded that Klein apologize to the Clinton family -- especially Chelsea. And Klein might take a second to apologize to genuine rape victims, too...
posted by JReid @ 10:48 PM  
Apocalypse soon?
Foreign Policy magazine resurrects Robert MacNamara to comment on what he calls America's dangerous nuke policy.
posted by JReid @ 10:44 PM  
Mining the WaPo
Abramoff's dirty dealings:

Senate Panel: Former Lobbyist, Partner Pocketed $6.5M From Tribe
By James V. Grimaldi and Susan Schmidt, Washington Post
Wednesday, June 22, 2005; 4:42 PM

A former Republican lobbyist and his partner pocketed $6.5 million of the $7.7 million in consulting fees they received from a Mississippi Indian tribe in 2001 while congratulating themselves on their "gimme five" relationship, according to e-mails released today by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

The hearing is the third held by the committee examining the practices of Jack Abramoff, formerly one of the most prominent Republican lobbyists in Washington, and his partner Michael Scanlon, a public relations consultant and former spokesman for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). Abramoff also is at the center of a Justice Department investigation into the tens of millions of dollars in lobbying fees he and Scanlon received from tribes around the country.

"Today's hearing is about more than contempt," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the committee, who called on the Justice Department to investigate materials released today for possible mail and wire fraud. "It is simply and sadly a tale of betrayal."

Records examined by the committee also showed that a charitable foundation created by Abramoff directed 80 percent of its funds to an all-boys Jewish academy established by Abramoff. The Capital Athletic Foundation -- which had received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Indian tribes -- also paid a monthly stipend to a high school friend of Abramoff's living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and made loan payments on his jeep, according to the committee's investigation. The friend was conducting sniper workshops for members of the Israeli Defense Force, records show.

When pressed to justify the Israeli expenses as legitimate for a charity, the old friend offered to send an invoice with his Sniper Workshop logo. Abramoff replied in an e-mail, "No, don't do that. I don't want sniper letterhead."

McCain said that Abramoff had directed the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians to hire Scanlon for consulting work, but never revealed to the tribe that they had a secret partnership, which they called "gimme five," according to the e-mails released today. Whenever Scanlon pitched his services to a client, Abramoff would remind him of their extra profits. On Aug. 16, 2001, Abramoff wrote to Scanlon, "Don't forget the gimme five aspects." On Oct. 17, 2001, Abramoff wrote, "So there is more gimme five coming on all these as well, right?"

The "gimme five" schemes began with a $50,000 diversion of Choctaw money from Scanlon back to Abramoff, but "it would soon rocket into millions," McCain said. In all, investigators found that the Choctaw paid Scanlon's companies about $15 million and Scanlon then diverted about $5 million of those payments back to Abramoff, without the knowledge of the Choctaw.

"I'm past anger and bitterness," Nell Rogers, the Choctaw official who had worked most closely with Abramoff, told the committee. "It is an extraordinary story of
betrayal." [read more]

The Nazi analogy chronicles (Durbin's not alone)

... and apparently, we'll be feeding North Korea.

Not for leave out Howard Kurtz: Mr. President, it's six months into your second term; what exactly have you accomplished? (According to Washington's Prince of Darkness, if the answer to that question is "not much," Bush has his poor relations with Congress to blame...)
posted by JReid @ 5:13 PM  
Damn you, Mr. Moustache!
AP breaks down Bush's unappetizing smorgasbord of options on John "The Bully-Boy Moustache" Bolton:

Bush could bow to Democratic demands and turn over more material on Bolton. But that would be seen as a stinging concession by the president -- and there's no guarantee Democrats would drop their delaying tactics.

Or Bush could circumvent the process and give Bolton a short-term recess appointment to the post -- as early as the approaching Fourth of July congressional break. This could be the path of least resistance. But while it would let Bush seat
Bolton at the United Nations with the stroke of a pen, he could serve only to January 2007, when the current Congress adjourns.

Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Delaware, a leading Bolton opponent, said Wednesday the president would be making a mistake if he installed Bolton as a recess appointment.

"I think that would be a mistake, but we couldn't stop them," Biden said on NBC's "Today" show. Labeled up front as a short-timer and lacking the backing of the Senate could hamstring Bolton in the eyes of the international community and further polarize Congress.

"You want to send someone there that has the confidence not only of the president but also the Senate," said Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Connecticut, a leading Bolton critic.

Republicans are mindful of this. That's one reason the administration and its allies on Capitol Hill are not mentioning recess appointments -- just yet. Bush and his advisers are taking pains to make sure they don't signal such an intention and further fan partisan fires.

In the tag-team of Biden and Dodd, which one would you say is Batman and which is Robin? Hm...
posted by JReid @ 4:49 PM  
Don't look back ... or do
The DNC released its "explosive" report today, with promised "knock your socks off" information on on the 2004 elections. (Thanks for the heads-up, Bradblog)

The press conference for the release was late this morning, with with HoDo, Donna Brazile, a couple of poli-sci /gov porofessors (from Cornell and Rice Universities) and Cornell Belcher of Brilliant Corners (I'll withhold my story on that last name from the recent campaign...)

The report, which is on the DNC web-site, drew snores from the GOP, and scant attention from the press. It focused solely on Ohio (I was promised Florida too, so right off the bat I'm disappointed). Here's the summary:

An exhaustive five-month investigation by the VRI's research and investigative team identified grave problems in the administration of Ohio's voting system. More than 1 in 4 voters in Ohio faced problems at the polls, including illegal requests for identification, long lines, poorly trained election officials, and more. There were also dramatic disparities in voting conditions among different races; African Americans waited nearly three times as long on average as whites to vote. Most important, the VRI's comprehensive investigation resulted in concrete recommendations that will help protect every American's right to vote and to have that vote counted. These recommendations cover voting equipment, training for poll workers, uniform standards, and much more.
I'm still digesting the report, but a couple of interesting things jump out:
  • One of the biggest problems in certain Ohio precincts was not enough voting machines (predictably, especially in less well-off counties -- which is true just about everywhere);
  • Voter turnout increases were indeed associated with interest in (and "yes" votes for) the amendment banning gay marriage in Ohio, and the issue clearly "mobilized many people to vote who might not have otherwise" (liberal Dems take heed -- this issue hits the fan in Florida this year, and I'm willing to bet any money it passes -- with strong African-American support...);
  • Strong correllation between Kerry votes and votes for the Democratic candidate for governor suggest against widespread vote fraud that "changed votes for Kerry into votes for Bush";
  • Overall, voter registration efforts helped Kerry more, but voter turnout efforts helped Bush more;
Regarding controversial "provisional ballots":
  • Newly registered voters and voters who move more frequently were more likely to cast provisional ballots, as were African-Americans and younger voters (both of whom were the major focus of new voter registration efforts by Democratic groups, btw...);
  • Education, income, marital status and presidential preference had no impact on whether Ohioans voted on provisional ballots.

On electronic voting:

  • There was little meat here, data-wise, mostly explanations of the different systems and recommendations on each;
  • The study found that optical scan machines "are the most accurate ... and cost effective."
  • Electronic voting machines are said to be "not engineered to meet the needs of elections," but apparently, only because they are "extremely expensive to procure and maintain" and "not sufficiently robust against fraud";
  • The study predictably recommends voter-verified paper trails and parallel testing of machines.
I havent read through the entire report yet (it's pretty long) and will be interested to read the "incident reports" from different precincts, and the recommendations (not that a single Republican governor or secretary of state will follow them), but I have to say so far, I don't see much that's predictive of a high-temperature title like "Democracy at Risk." There doesn't seem to be much evidence of outright fraud, although I don't doubt Secretary of State Blackwell will come off looking like a hero. HoDo's summary says the study includes evidence of "voter confusion, voter suppression and negligence and incompetence." Sounds like Florida -- hell, it sounds like state or municipal bureaucracies and "confused" citizens anywhere ...

Maybe there's more there -- I'll keep reading...
posted by JReid @ 2:25 PM  
Durbin's mea culpa
In political communications training, you learn that the best way to get out from under a negative story you created, is to apologize quickly and move on. Looks like Dick Durbin learned that the hard way this week and finally issued his apology on Tuesday. Although I think it was the right thing to do given the outcry, I'm still with Andrew Sullivan and others who say the reaction to his comments was out of proportion to their actual content and meaning. (Here's a link to Sullivan's original post on the matter -- I frequently disagree with him, but on this he's spot on). From Tuesday:

"If Durbin had said, as Amnesty unfortunately did, that Gitmo was another Gulag, I'd be dismayed and critical, as I was with Amnesty. There's no comparison in any way between the scale, intent and context of the Soviet gulags and Gitmo. If Durbin had said that what was being done there in the aggregate was comparable to Auschwitz or Siberian death camps, the same would be true. But Durbin said something subtler. Now I know subtlety is not something that plays well on talk radio. But in this case, it matters. Durbin focused on one very credible account of inhumane treatment and abuse of detainees ... and asked an important question:

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime--Pol Pot or others--that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners."

So go ahead: answer his implied question. If you had been told that prisoners had been found in this state in one of Saddam's or Stalin's jails, would you have believed it? Of course, you would. In fact, I spent much time and effort before the war documenting the cruel and inhumane conduct of the regime we were trying to
destroy - a regime whose cruelty encompassed low-level inhumanity like Gitmos - and, of course, unimaginably worse.

Let's be real, here. No one can seriously believe that the United States Senator from Illinois likens American troops to Nazi or Soviet storm troopers -- he was criticizing a specific account of poor detainee treatment to make a larger point about the Bush administration's overall policies on detainees, and the way those policies have stained America's reputation.

The point -- and this is of no use to those who simply want to use Durbin's misstep for GOP political gain -- is that the picture painted in that FBI memo would never have been believable as an account of American behavior, even ten years ago. But it is believable now, and not because of our troops -- but rather because of the shoddy policies of their civilian leaders. I'll say it again -- I cringed initially when I heard Durbin's statement, because I know a number of men and women in uniform, and tend to believe that our troops are 99 percent good people doing their jobs in very tough circumstances. I can even understand that when put under the kind of pressure they're under, some will behave badly. But I'm with the late, great Col. Hackworth, who spent the last years of his life documenting the ineptitude and carelessness of the civilian leaders (and in some cases, the uniformed leadership) that is putting our military, and our country's reputation, at risk.

The interrogators at Guantanamo Bay are under enormous pressure to get useful intelligence, and they can only do what they are permitted to do by their commanders, and ultimately by the Pentagon. They are acting under the Rumsfeld Rules, not the Geneva Convention, and that ultimately undermines America's case around the world.

Durbin did a poor job making that point because he lashed out in frustration. And he was ultimately right to apologize, from both a P.R. standpoint and a sociopolitical one. But he isn't the first Senator to invoke the Nazi comparison. Wasn't it Rick Santorum of nearby PA who called Democrats Nazis for wanting to preserve the fillibuster?

No matter, Durbin finally gave up the ghost and did a full-on mea culpa (Hill version) Tuesday, apparently in part due to a nudge from John McCain. Here's a link to the full text, and a clip:

“Mr. President, I have come to understand that was a very poor choice of words. I tried to make this very clear last Friday that I understood to those analogies to the Nazis, Soviets and others were poorly chosen. I issued a release which I thought made my intentions and my inner-most feeling as clear as I possibly could.”

“Let me read to you what I said. ‘I have learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood. I sincerely regret if what I said causes anybody to misunderstand my true feelings. Our soldiers around the world and their families at home deserve our respect, admiration and total support.’”

“Mr. President, it is very clear that even though I thought I had said something that clarified the situation, to many people it was still unclear. I'm sorry if anything that I said caused any offense or pain to those who have such bitter memories of the Holocaust, the greatest moral tragedy of our time. Nothing, nothing should ever be said to demean or diminish that moral tragedy.”

“I'm also sorry if anything I said in any way cast a negative light on our fine men and women in the military. I went to Iraq just a few months ago with Senator Harry Reid and a bipartisan Senate delegation. When you look in the eyes of the soldiers you see your son and daughter. They are the best. I never, ever intended any disrespect for them.”

“Some may believe that my remarks crossed a line. To them, I extend my heartfelt apologies.”

Will that end it? Probably not. Not with Rumsfeld and his friends at Fox News and elsewhere out there comparing Durbin to Hanoi Jane... not with folks like John Hinderaker of Powerline actually assertingthings like "Americans heart Gitmo" -- in apparent defense of the tactics authorized by the Pentagon (tactics I assume they stipulate to being real and not made up by Dan Rather) -- no matter how unworthy of America's traditions and values those tactics may be (althought there's always hope) -- and certainly not when it comes time for him to seek reelection. Which is a shame.
posted by JReid @ 12:31 AM  
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Love don't cost a thing?
Word has it Warner Bros. has dropped giddy Cruise fiancee Katie Homes from the next Batman. Seems her googly-goo romance with the so-not-gay superstar overshadowed the film's opening, and the studio bosses didn't like that. Worse, the scuttle is that they didn't even feel she was key to the film -- Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine were, apparently, and all three will be back (along with a new Joker... you know, they should get the guy who plays Bo Duke in the upcoming 'Hazzard movie to play the Joker ... he kind of resembles him...) Anyway, all's not so well that ends well for Katie, who was already the subject of an intervention attempt designed to free her from her May-December Scientology zen master...

And speaking of Scientology, Mens News Daily writer Cliff Kincaid makes a valid point about the media's near-complete lack of scrutiny of the chic-yet-wierd religion, in sharp contrast to their ubiquitous dissection of Christians and Christianity. Since the 2004 "values election," we've been subjected to ad nauseum analyses of conservative Catholicism (also fueled by Mel Gibson's "Passion" success and the ascention of a new pope), and a steady stream of MSM articles pitting apparently ureconstructed Christians against gay rights groups (with the former always portrayed as near-nuts, or at least pathetically old-fashioned and intolerant), school boards, courthouses and more. True, part of this is the conservative Christian politiical movement's own fault -- it is drawing attention to itself on purpose, as part of a bid to advance a specific agenda. But Scientology has an agenda too, and it's high profile followers have the money, and the access (via Hollywood rather than Fox News and the Free Republic) to put that agenda forward.

So why no scrutiny of a religion that has been described as a cult (or even a scam) by its critics and which springs in part from a belief in aliens? What gives? Could it be that in some respects, the religious right is actually right about the mainstream press and its bias against traditional religion? At the very least, it seems clear that the MSM believes that certain moral questions are objectively settled (gay marriage, abortion, sem cell research, etc.,) and that it is religious people who need to catch up. But for many thoughtful, intelligent people, those questions are far from settled, and people turn to varying philosophies to find answers for themselves (including Scientology). So it seems that if you're going to scrutinize some, you should scrutinize them all.

After all, is Mel Gibson really any weirder than Tom Cruise?
posted by JReid @ 11:54 PM  
The towel, she is thrown in
Dick Durbin just issued a formal apology on the Senate floor for his Gitmo comments. Developing...
posted by JReid @ 5:51 PM  
Finally, some good news
The 11-year-old Utah Boy Scout who went missing in the mountains has been found alive. Wow. Thank God.
posted by JReid @ 5:02 PM  
Signs the Bush presidency is in trouble
Perhaps this:
Bush renews call for gay marriage amendment

...was meant to provide cover for this:
Bush backs Social Security bill without private accounts

Well buddy, it ain't working. leads with this headline:
Bush Sells Out Free-Market Conservatives on Social Security?

...and this lede:
I think I'm getting a better idea of how Bill Frist feels right about now, being
yanked one direction and then another by the President.

Yes, my red state friend, you're starting to get the picture. What Bush cares about are polls like these, and the implication, from the Bolton nomination fight to his inability to sell the public on continuing the war or privatizing Social Security (in whole or in part), to his backfiring pronouncements on Mideast democracy, that he is an ineffective, lame duck president. Two things he doesn't care about: Bill Frist, and the United States Congress (not that he should, necessarily, make them a top priority).
posted by JReid @ 4:28 PM  
It depends on what the meaning of "fixed" is
Former CIA spook -- and card carrying Scoop Jackson neocon -- James Woolsey tries to pull a fast one on Hardball, debating, alongside the ever-Bush-naive David Kay, the meaning of the word "fixed."
posted by JReid @ 3:14 PM  
If it's too sleazy for Dick Morris...
It's official: the garbage in Ed Kleins SwiftHillary book are so obscene even Dick Morris thinks they're over-the-top:

Says Morris in The Hill:

"I am no defender of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s, to put it mildly. But the recent charges in Ed Klein’s book to the effect that she is a closet homosexual or that Bill raped her and that this act triggered Chelsea’s conception are as crazy as the list that was circulating around of the 20 or so people the Clintons allegedly had killed.

These accusations do not belong in our public dialogue. They hit below the belt and tend to discredit the more serious and sober concerns so many of us have about the danger she would present in high office.

... these accusations (in The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She’ll Go to Become President) are highly personal and have little bearing on what kind of president Hillary would make. Why can’t her critics confine their attacks to the relevant and the obvious: that she would not be a good president and has not been a good senator?

After that it's basically more Hillary is bad, Bill is smar but bad Morris-puckey. ... More about Klein here, here, and in this previous post, which puts the lie to the following quote to the Post:
"I certainly didn't go into this with a political agenda, at first," said Klein
yesterday about "The Truth About Hillary." His research and manuscript have not
been directed by conservatives, he said, and his conclusions are his own.

posted by JReid @ 2:56 PM  
Red state wisdom
Some surprising wisdom from (the same folks behind, interestingly enough).

John Cole posts a basic, but important question to the site: Does Bolton really matter?
Assume that on the merits, all the objections that the Democrats have raised regarding Bolton are false. Other than the political defeat that this will hand the administration, will Bolton failing to be confirmed as UN Ambassador matter? Can one man really change the organizational culture at the United Nations?

Good point. I'm not sure the other Red State posters agree, but it's a question worth asking the White House. Could Bush gain more by junking Mr. Moustache and nominating someone virtually unassailable, say a John Danforth, as U.N. amb? Or would that just set the Freepers on fire and rush Goerge Dubya to the quack farm before summer's even over?
posted by JReid @ 2:51 PM  
Time for recess?
With Mr. Moustache foiled again in the Senate, the White House is under increasing pressure to pull the recess appointment card. The pressure is coming, of course, from the activists on the ground and the blogosphere, and also from the Senate itself, where it seemed early Tuesday that Dr. Video, Bill Frist, wasn't willing to subject himself (or his amateur vote counter Mitch McConnell) to another cloture humiliation, and announced there would be no more Bolton ballots. I last checked that headline on WaPo about 20 minutes ago, but of course, now it has been reversed. Frist, after "meeting with the White House," says he'll give voting another try. (Gotta get me a pair of those Dick Cheney brass knuckles!) WaPo now has this posted to the homepage from the AP wire:

WASHINGTON -- Reversing field after a meeting with President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said he will continue pushing for a floor vote on John R. Bolton for U.N. ambassador. Frist switched his position after initially saying Tuesday that negotiations with Democrats to get a vote on Bolton had been exhausted.

Talking to reporters in the White House driveway after he joined other GOP lawmakers for a luncheon with Bush, Frist said: "The president made it very clear that he expects an up or down vote."

Just about two hours hour earlier, Frist said he wouldn't schedule another vote on Bolton's nomination and said that Bush must decide the next move. Frist, R-Tenn., had said there was nothing further he could do to break a Democratic stalemate with the Bush White House over Bolton, an outspoken conservative who, opponents argue, would undermine U.S. interests at the world body. But he changed his tune after talking to Bush.

Frist's abrupt public turnabout underscored the political pressures that the long-running battle over Bolton have heaped upon himself and Bush.

Six months into his final term in office, Bush is struggling to avoid the perception of a weakened lame duck at a time when his proposal for revamping Social Security has made little progress and some lawmakers are calling for troop withdrawals from Iraq. Frist has lost control of the Republican-run Senate in recent weeks in fights over Bush's judicial appointments and earlier attempts to confirm Bolton.

Describing his talk with Bush, Frist said: "The decision in talking to the president is that he strongly supports John Bolton, as we know, and he asked that we to continue to work. And we'll continue to work."

"It's not dead," he said. "It is going to require some continued talking and discussion."

Frist, however, also said that some Democrats, led by Sens. Christopher Dodd and Joseph Biden, had "locked down."

Is it just me, or is Bush worried that sending Mr. Moustache to Turtle Bay without a Senate vote will make him -- Bush -- look like a weakling?

Speaking of Dodd and Biden and lockdowns...

I try to avoid quoting the Leaking Prince of Darkness, Bob Novak, because I have no respect for him, but in his column yesterday, the Capitol Gang member accused Sen. Chris Dodd of orchestrating a "charade" of purportedly phony defense of Senate prerogatives vis-a-vis the president.

Novak starts by proving that he dutifully watches C-SPAN

Dodd's unreported speech to an empty Senate before it adjourned for another long weekend was classic senatorial misdirection. He held out the prospect of ending the filibuster against Bolton and quickly confirming him, if only more information were given Democratic senators. Yet, in the same speech, he reiterated his unequivocal opposition to the conservative Bolton, not discussing competence or ideology but personality.

All this is a charade. Opposition to Bolton has become a party matter, where his possible Democratic supporters have been brought to heel. The cloture vote to end the filibuster scheduled for 6 p.m. today is unlikely to collect the necessary 60 votes. That effectively would end the confirmation struggle. President Bush then would face the dilemma of either sending Bolton to the United Nations on a recess appointment that will be reviled by Democrats as extra-constitutional, or accepting defeat. This outcome hardly seemed possible two months ago when Dodd, long seeking improved relations with Fidel Castro's Cuban dictatorship, renewed an old complaint about Bolton's disclosure as undersecretary of state of Castro's bioweapons development. Sen. Joseph Biden, ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee who seldom shuns a confirmation fight, eagerly joined Dodd.

Leaving aside that any Democrat who called a Bolton recess appointment "extra-Constitutional" could not ever have read the Constitution -- something Novak should know -- and the empty point that a down vote on cloture would effectively end the Bolton nomination (it clearly hasn't,)Novak appears to find the "real" cause of the Dodd-Biden roadblocks on Bolton to be their opposition to his opposition to Fidel Castro. Right. And so the assertion that the Senate, as a co-equal branch of government, has a right to demand, and to have the White House turn over, any documents it deems important to its role in advising and consenting to presidential nominations, is basically a false front, right Bob?

Seeking a way to justify preconceived opposition, Dodd and Biden seized on the executive branch's refusal to give the Senate what it wanted. The issue, so obscure it is difficult for the non-senatorial mind to grasp, goes to Bolton having requested intelligence intercepts. Dodd demands the names of U.S. officials listed there whom Bolton might have intimidated.
But if that is true, how can this be true?

This baffling process becomes intelligible only in terms that Dodd and Biden want to hold together the Democrats on grounds of senatorial prerogative in demanding information.
It's either one or the other. Either Dodd and Biden are fighting for the principle of separation (and equality) of powers within the branches of government, or they're faking. Novak appears undecided.

I, for one, believe they're not faking at all. But if Bolton ultimately is put through on recess, following another failed cloture vote, perhaps, Slate's Fred Kaplan is dead-on in surveying the consequences, based on the damage already done to Bolton by the confirmation hearings:
Still, there is something extremely peculiar—beyond precedent, in fact—about the idea of Bush invoking his constitutional privilege on Bolton's behalf. In all other cases, presidents evaded Senate scrutiny from the outset. Bolton, on the other hand, has been through confirmation hearings at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which passed the nomination to the floor without endorsement; and he has twice failed to gain the three-fifths majority of a cloture vote. In other words, other stealth appointees have dodged anticipated bullets. If Bolton slips through, he will have been strafed, hit, and mortally wounded—then resurrected by a magic wand waving on the president's outstretched middle finger.
posted by JReid @ 2:40 PM  
Buyer's remorse breaking out all over
Arnold Schwarzenegger's sky-high popularity in California has officially been terminated. Okay, that was the obvious joke but it's no worse than Jay Leno would have done...
posted by JReid @ 2:19 PM  
The DSM shuffle
"Just Briggs" at Snacks forwarded this link. Nice trailer for a "Downing Street Memo" movie, and sure to raise the blood pressure of your local Freeper.

Meanwhile, the Christian Science Monitor posts its take on the memos, which for all their lack of shock value to the American press, will likely be pure gold for historians as they evaluate George W. Bush's war. ... also, Christopher Hitchens plays Downing Street defense.
posted by JReid @ 2:03 PM  
Keeping the crazies out (Florida has plenty, thanks)
There's a new Mason-Dixon poll showing Sen. Bill Nelson opening up a wide lead over Katherine Harris in a theoretical '06 matchup. That's good news for Democrats: the prospect of the state where I live being led in the Senate by the team of Martinez-Harris is a nightmare too ghastly to contemplate. (Next thing you know Duncan Hunter will move to Florida and open up a cooking school...).

Of course, the Bush brothers are wasting no time in throwing their former flunkie, who was so useful during the 2000 campaign and recount, over the side. Says the Miami Herald:

The poll of 625 registered voters was conducted June 14-16, just days before reports surfaced that Gov. Jeb Bush and the White House were prodding state House Speaker Allan Bense into challenging Harris in the GOP primary.

The results provide a window into GOP fears that Harris -- whom some Democrats believe tilted the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush when she served as Florida secretary of state -- remains controversial and would motivate Democrats to turn out to vote against her, potentially affecting the other races on the ballot, including the governor's race.

What Harris does have going for her is money -- lots of it. The combination of inherited wealth and awesome fundraising power has put Harris in the position to run. She's been chomping at the bit for this since the '04 election, when she was goaded by the White House into standing down so that Mel "the Schiavo memo" Martinez could run for Bob Graham's old seat.

Now Harris believes it's her turn (it's not enough that the GOP rewarded her for her dual efforts as Florida secretary of state and co-chair of the Bush-Cheney Florida campaign in 2000 with a seat in Congress.) And from all accounts, she very badly wants to run. The question is, how many roadblocks are the White House and Jebbie willing to throw in her way in order to take her down (before she takes them down -- there's a governor's race, the Senate seat and possibly a marriage amendment up for grabs in 2006, you know).

Time will tell...

P.S.: Speaking of Kathy, TPM has her number on the latest in Washington sleaze...
posted by JReid @ 2:01 PM  
The good,the bad, and the ugly
Fareed Zakaria sorts out the good policy from the bad when it comes to getting rid of "ugly" regimes.
posted by JReid @ 1:10 PM  
Better late than never

(Update) Ironic headline of the day: More than 30 years after he spent the war guarding the home pubs from Texas to Alabama, George W. Bush will finally go to Vietnam (link updated).

So what's an angry right-winger to do on a day filled with so much painful irony? Why, resurrect the "Kerry didn't really get injured in Vietnam" line. How pathetic. I'm actually disappointed in the Powerline bloggers.
posted by JReid @ 9:59 AM  
Monday, June 20, 2005
All you need to know about Ed Klein
The supposed journalist who authored the latest anti-Hillary screed had this to say to AP:

"If you are a fair-minded, balanced journalist, you have to say Hillary has performed brilliantly in the last five years, and that's what makes her such a formidable politician," Klein told the AP.

The author said he expects Clinton to win easy re-election to the Senate next year, to capture the Democratic nomination for president in 2008 and to have "a real shot at winning red states" in the election.

"I think she would be, in the White House, a Nixonian president and a danger to the republic," Klein said.

There you have it folks, fair and balanced.

posted by JReid @ 11:50 PM  
Death by committee
According to WaPo, liberal and labor groups opposed to Bush's Social Security privatization plan believe they've found a way to kill it -- by letting it die in the House Ways and Means committee.
posted by JReid @ 11:15 PM  
The "Un-America"
If you need further proof that Canada is carnival funhouse mirror America, here it is: Canada's parliament is locked in a filibuster struggle of its own, only this time it's the conservatives who are playing "hard-to-vote":

Parliament may sit all summer to pass budget, same-sex legislation
Last Updated Mon, 20 Jun 2005 19:56:27 EDT - CBC News

The Liberal government is now prepared to sit through the summer to pass its final budget bill and legislation legalizing same-sex marriage.

Government House leader Tony Valeri notified MPs of the plan on Monday, amid signs that the Conservatives will not allow the government's budget deal with the NDP to come to a vote.

"They [the Conservatives] continue to put up speakers and filibuster legislation," said Valeri.


But Valeri says the government is determined to pass its budget bill, which provides $4.6 billion in spending on social programs in return for NDP support in the Commons. The Liberals also want to push through Bill C-38, the bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

Last week, Prime Minister Paul Martin said the bill wouldn't become law until the
fall because of delaying tactics by the Conservatives.


For their part the Conservatives make no apologies for using parliamentary tactics to stymie same-sex marriage, along with the Liberal budget.

"It's not the responsibility of the official Opposition to help the government achieve
its agenda when its agenda consists of two bills that we're strongly opposed to," said Opposition House leader Jay Hill.

...They also sell weed in pill form up there, man.
posted by JReid @ 10:59 PM  
Curses! Foiled again!

The Senate just voted 54 to 38 not to end debate on John Bolton's nomination to the U.N. Could a recess appointment really be the next step? Bush isn't talking, and sidestepped the question during his presser with the E.U. leaders today, but some on the right are urging the president to exercise a little nuclear option all his own.

Not all of them, though... Bush certainly has the constitutional right to recess appoint Mr. Bolton (Bill Clinton used the device to get through some of his judicial nominees), but some conservatives (including Joel Mowbray at are acknowledging that sending Mr. Moustache to New York "without the imprimatur of the Senate" (NYT) would hobble him even more than the debate and disclosures so far. He would essentially be the skunk at the garden party (whereas now he's only set to be the loud, obnoxious drunk nobody can stand.) Either way, I seriously doubt that John Bolton would have any more credibility at the U.N. than he had at the State Department, which, by all accounts, is glad to see him gone. Sure, he'll be tolerated, just as Wolfowitz is being tolerated at the World Bank, even as his peers are snorfling amongst themselves in contempt behind his back (and probably making fun of his Geraldo mustache). But will he be a credible spokesman for U.S. policy? Well, at this point would anyone?

Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich makes his best pro-Bolton case on NRO, but unfortutely, there's not one new thought in his article. Gingrich makes the same old arguments -- U.N. ineffective, weak, Darfur, starving children, etc., Bolton tough, blunt, can fix... if this isn't moving you it's probably because you've heard the usual suspects mouthing the same words ad infinitum on the cable shows.

-- Reracking this earlier post about a possible Neocon Disperal Theory of the Bolton nomination...
posted by JReid @ 6:52 PM  
He said it!
"Things aren't getting better; they're getting worse. The White House is completely disconnected from reality,' Hagel tells U.S. News. 'It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we're losing in Iraq." -- Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, in an interview with U.S. News and World Report.

The neocons at National Review clearly disagree, but even they make a case for reality-based statements from the White House:

But general statements of resolve from Bush won't be enough. He has to make a detailed case for the war, continuously. It is understandable that after the January elections the White House wanted to move onto issues besides the war that had already consumed so much of its energy in the first term. But the war has obviously never ended. Attention must be paid.

That means being careful to avoid unsupportable statements. Vice President Cheney famously said the other day that the insurgency is in its “last throes,” an implausible reading of the situation reminiscent of Secretary Rumsfeld's initial insistence two years ago that there wasn't a guerilla insurgency in Iraq. There is a case for optimism in Iraq, but if it is made in a way that seems untethered from reality — and from the fact that after ebbing in the aftermath of the January elections, the insurgency is flowing again — it will be dismissed out of hand.

posted by JReid @ 5:48 PM  
Court docket
From the Bush-friendly folks at U.S. News & World Report, this "Washington whisper" re Bush's plans for the Supreme Court battle to come:

With both sides girding for a summer and fall Supreme Court nomination fight, the White House is turning its direction to who should be appointed to fill a likely opening if Chief Justice William Rehnquist retires.

The latest thinking: Bush favors a Hispanic or black pro-life woman. One in­sider said Bush really wanted to put Janice Rogers Brown on the court, but the Democratic delay in approving her 2003 nomination to the appeals bench until just this month killed that option. Only after that's done will Bush then likely move to elevate Justice Antonin Scalia to the chief justice's post.

Here's the fun part: If Democrats try to fight Scalia, approved 98-to-0 in 1986, look for the White House to hit them with a court version of that deadly line from Sen. John Kerry about the war: "I voted for him before I voted against him."

Hm... I thought Republicans didn't believe in affirmative action -- this must be "affirmative access" in action ... And speaking of Black people on the Court, Earl Ofari Hutchinson deconstructs the attempts by Justice Clarence Thomas (hereafter known as the dumb, porno justice) to make others in his own image -- others like Janice Rogers Brown...

WaPo revists the story, saying the White House already is operating from a short-list:

President Bush's advisers are focusing their search for a new Supreme Court justice on a trio of candidates who could present the president with a choice that would help shape his legacy -- pick a reliable conservative to anchor the court for decades or go for history by naming the first Hispanic chief justice at the risk of alienating his base.

While the cancer-stricken Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist has not publicly signaled his decision, many in the WhiteHouse and around Washington expect him to announce his retirement at the end of the court's current term next week, opening the nation's top judicial post for the first time in 19 years and setting up a potentially savage nomination battle.

White House officials have prepared for the prospect by culling long lists of possible candidates, poring through old cases and weighing a variety of factors from judicial philosophy to age. Bush and his inner circle have had tightly held deliberations and no one can say for sure whom he might pick for chief justice, but outside advisers to the White House believe the main candidates are federal appeals Judges John G. Roberts [A former Rehnquist clerk] and J. Michael Luttig [an ex-Scalia clerk] and possibly Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

For a time, many officials and analysts in Washington assumed that Gonzales, a longtime Bush confidant and his first-term White House counsel, had been ruled out as a candidate because he took over the Justice Department in February. But in recent days, several advisers with close ties to the White House said Bush appears to be considering Gonzales, after all.

If so, it sets up a delicate conundrum for Bush. A Gonzales appointment would be a politically appealing "first" that could ease the confirmation process among Democrats and help expand the Republican base, according to some strategists. But many conservative leaders see him as too moderate on issues such as abortion and
affirmative action, and a Gonzales-for-Rehnquist trade would effectively move the court somewhat to the left.

So the smart money appears to be on an ethnic marketing candidate, though my money would be on an Hispanic, since the "Black seat" is already taken (even though calling Clarence Thomas "Black" diminishes the term to a technicality, and he probably would object to the term as well). Either way, the nomination decision will test just how blind they loyalty is among the members of the Bush cult.
posted by JReid @ 5:03 PM  
Thanks for nothing, Mr. President
From Dan Froomkin's WH briefing today, notes on the vanishing presidential authority. Bush's proposals are backfiring left and right, say the CW experts, most notably on Iran, where Bush's denunciation of the election there has had a surprising result.

...the latest backfire would appear to be in Iran, in response to Bush's denunciation last week of Iranian elections as a sham.Brian Murphy writes for the Associated Press: "Iran's spy chief used just two words to respond to White House ridicule of last week's presidential election: 'Thank you.' His sarcasm was barely hidden. The backfire on Washington was more evident.

"The sharp barbs from President Bush were widely seen in Iran as damaging to pro-reform groups because the comments appeared to have boosted turnout among hard-liners in Friday's election -- with the result being that an ultraconservative now is in a two-way showdown for the presidency."

Thanks for nothing, Mr. President. And then there's this disturbing passage:
More and more, his friends are deserting him. Julie Hirschfeld Davis writes in the altimore Sun: "President Bush, working to gain support for his ambitious domestic agenda, is encountering increasing resistance from an unlikely place: American business, a usually reliable ally."
Bush's problem on that score appears to be that his stated priorities: Social Security private accounts, the endless war on terror and Iraq, are not the priorities of big business. Sure, the big boys got their bankruptcy bill, which will help credit card companies stalk the gullible college students they send four and five cards to, and they have gotten all the tax reductions the market will bear (and then some), but even big corporations understand that the growing wealth gap, along with stagnant wages and an uncertain employment picture -- all read as Lou Dobbs nightly "assault on the middle class" -- means bad business in the longterm, for them. You can't sustain an industry on rich people's purchases alone (unless you're in the luxury jet business). You need a growing, thriving middle class to keep most business models afloat.

Just ask G.M.
posted by JReid @ 3:38 PM  
News from the Hill
The Hill reports that Tom Delay's communications director has quit. Having played the political communications game, I can assure you it's not an easy gig, and I couldn't imagine doing it over the past six months, as Delay's ethical "challenges" required full-time babysitting...

Staying with The Hill, the DCCC is feeling pretty good about a new internal poll showing seven Republican House members looking very beatable in ''06 ...

Wal-Mart continues to court the Congressional Black Caucus -- which doesn't exactly give me a warm, fuzzy feeling, given that the self-described largest employer of African-Americans pays the lousiest salaries and benefits in retail. This time, the togetherness is occasioned by the call the renew the Voting Rights Act of 1965 -- which at this point in history might be largely symbolic were it not for the states that continue to use such things as felon disenfranchisement (which disproportionately affects Blacks and which was enacted after the Civil War to upend reconstruction), the existence of purely partisan secretaries of state like Ohio's would-be governor Ken Blackwell, and for the many Jeb Bushian tactics wielded by some in the GOP at election time. The Act is set to expire in 2007.

As important as that is, I find myself wondering whether the CBC couldn't have found a more savory partner than Wal-Mart. This isn't the CBC's first flirtation with the Mart, but with the Black community still suffering disproportionately from wage stagnation and want, why our African-American representatives in Congress have chosen to take a stand with Wal-Mart despite their stand with China and against middle class wages, is beyond me. I guess they need the PAC money...
posted by JReid @ 2:11 PM  
Well that's a relief
CIA top gumshoe Porter Goss says he has an "excellent" idea where Osama bin Laden is ... well I know I'll sleep better tonight...
posted by JReid @ 12:07 PM  
Since you've been gone...
If there is a charitable way to look at George W. Bush's second term personnel changes, it is this: perhaps the White House is scanning the available job postings for a set of dignified drawers they can shove the more prominent neocons into where they won't feel like they're being punished for statements like these, these and these, but where they can do less damage -- namely, positions where they're not in a position to propose any more wars against Muslim countries.

Exhibit A: the relatively good vibrations at Foggy Bottom since John Bolton was sidelined, interestingly, by the same person promoting him for a brand new job far away in New York: Condi Rice. Says Mother WaPo:

For years, a key U.S. program intended to keep Russian nuclear fuel out of terrorist hands has been frozen by an arcane legal dispute. As undersecretary of state, John R. Bolton was charged with fixing the problem, but critics complained he was the roadblock.

Now with Bolton no longer in the job, U.S. negotiators report a breakthrough with the Russians and predict a resolution will be sealed by President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin at an international summit in Scotland next month, clearing the way to eliminate enough plutonium to fuel 8,000 nuclear bombs.

The prospective revival of the plutonium disposal project underlines a noticeable change since Bolton's departure from his old job as arms control chief. Regardless of whether the Senate confirms him as U.N. ambassador during a scheduled vote today, fellow U.S. officials and independent analysts said his absence has already been felt at the State Department.

Without the hard-charging Bolton around, the Bush administration not only has moved to reconcile with Russia over nuclear threat reduction but also has dropped its campaign to oust the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and made common cause with European allies in offering incentives to Iran to persuade it to drop any ambitions for nuclear weapons.


"Throughout his career in the first Bush administration, he was always playing the stopper role for a lot of different issues and even when there was obvious interest by the president in moving things forward, Bolton often found ways of stopping things by tying the interagency process in knots," said Rose Gottemoeller, a Clinton administration official who worked on nonproliferation issues. "That's the situation we're seeing dissipate now."

Whether the shifting policies reflect Bolton's absence or his absence reflects shifting
policies remains a point of debate. When she took over as secretary of state in January, Condoleezza Rice moved to sideline Bolton and reverse some of his approaches, U.S. officials said. By proposing him for the United Nations, she effectively moved him out of the policymaking center at the department's Foggy Bottom headquarters.

"It's less a question of these decisions being taken because John was no longer in the policy loop," said Robert J. Einhorn, who was assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation at the beginning of the Bush presidency. "It's that John was no longer in the Washington-based policymaking loop because the second Bush administration wants to adopt a different approach to dealing with the rest of the world."

Still, other specialists cautioned against overstating the extent of the changes since Bolton's departure and noted that he was always acting in concert with the president's broad wishes. "He was a lightning rod because of his strong and blunt statements," said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, an advocacy organization. "But this Bush administration is not going to become the Adlai Stevenson administration just because John Bolton has left the State Department."

The shift in Bolton's role occurred shortly after Bush named Rice as his second-term secretary of state. As the administration's point man confronting Iran's nuclear program, Bolton had blocked U.S. support for a European bid to negotiate a settlement with Tehran, arguing that such talks would legitimize Iran's clerical regime without stopping any secret weapons development.

But Bolton was shut out of Iran after Rice's ascension, according to two U.S. officials, and his policy was reversed. In early January, officials from France, Britain and Germany flew secretly to Washington for a brainstorming session on Iran. Bolton was not invited, European diplomats said.

Instead, they met with Elliott Abrams of the National Security Council. "We weren't the ones who wanted to keep the meeting secret," one European diplomat said. "It was the American side that didn't want him there."

Exhibit B: Paul Wolfowitz safely tucked away at the World Bank communing with Bono and proposing something few would take issue with: more money for Africa.

It's a theory...

Still to be tucked away: Douglas Feith (who is already headed out the door to parts unknown) and Stephen J. Cambone at the Pentagon, both of whom are heavily implicated in the intelligence hyping before the Iraq war, as well as in the shenanigans at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo ... not to mention their boss, Baron von Rumsfeld.

It remains to be seen if they get important-sounding but ultimately service-oriented, rather than policy oriented, jobs, or whether they are just allowed to go away quietly.
posted by JReid @ 1:50 AM  
The British dumb-TV-show invasion
The Guardian explains how Britain is paying us back for dragging them into Iraq by spoon feeding us endless globs of mind-numbing, celebrity-driven TV shows... (okay, the Iraq part isn't in there, but you get the idea...)
posted by JReid @ 1:30 AM  
Still the best place on earth
A writer who lives in the heart of my old stomping grounds -- downtown-area Brooklyn, N.Y., talks about the radical changes taking place in the now-trendy borough. For those who can live without the pictures, here's the print-friendly (no registration) version.
posted by JReid @ 1:20 AM  
Sunday, June 19, 2005
CSI: Aruba, episode 2
Riehworldview still on the Natalee Holloway case. His latest unofficial theory is a chilling one, but mirrors what I've thought was logical all along: that "something bad happened" to Natalee, as the original "breaking news" story read before it was hastily revised, but that it was probably accidental, and the young men who were with the American teen pannicked and hid the body. Just a theory of course... and cold comfort to the family, who have got to be desperate at this point...
posted by JReid @ 9:27 PM  
Sunday best
A Washington D.C. writer and stay-home dad serves up a good lesson in role reversal (and relationships) for Father's Day.

The man with the Constitution in his pocket: Senator Byrd discusses his KKK past in a new book.

Former Senator John Danforth makes the case for moderate Christianity in public life, and boosts his stock as one of the most coherent, impressive Republicans in or out of the game.

...meanwhile, the Southern Baptist Convention confronts the very real challenges of applying faith in daily life.

Schools are military recruiters face off over the provision of student info (note the little known clause in the No Child Left Behind Act that facilitates military access to your kid's vitals).

Also, Frank Rich delves into the multi-faceted world of fact-fakery, channelling Orson Wells to make the very depressing point that we've reached the age where almost everything is faked, from government reports (on everything from global warming to cattle grazing), to town hall meetings to war reports, to mushy-gushy celebrity romances (and lifestyle coverups...?) It's all entirely unbelievable (except, of course, for Jon Stewart. How sad that the most honest information you can get these days comes almost entirely from Comedy Central...)
posted by JReid @ 1:06 PM  
Saturday, June 18, 2005
The man from "uncle!"

Okay boys, let him up. ... Durbin on Friday issued the apology (I must have been too busy wondering where Michael Jackson goes from here to see it on the wires):
"I have learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood," Durbin said in a statement issued by his office late Friday. "I sincerely regret if what I said caused anyone to misunderstand my true feelings: Our soldiers around the world and their families at home deserve our respect, admiration and total support.

...More than 1,700 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq, and our country's standing in the world community has been badly damaged by the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. My statement in the Senate was critical of the policies of this administration which add to the risk our soldiers face," Durbin said.
Note that politicians always say sorry for the "misunderstanding", not the statement. The wingers of course, have been unforgiving, not that Durbin cares, but when the VFW is pissed off at you, I guess it's time to throw in the towel. Durbin's office issued the mea culpa late Friday, voiding this post, which referenced interviews Durbin gave to the Chicago media that very day in which he defended his statements ... Anyway, the FBI memo link is still useful.

Not surprisingly, the Durbin flap is giving the right one of its favorite talking points: that all Democrats think the military are a bunch of Nazi storm troopers. That, of course, is untrue, particularly given the number of Democratic members of Congress have worn the uniform of their country. Of course, there is an element of the Democratic base, the far left Van den Heuvelian end, that unfortunatly, does disdain the military, giving the rest of the party a bad name -- Durbin's biggest blunder was fueling that charge. But I take him at his word that his criticism, however unartfully done, points squarely at the policies from the Pentagon on up, not the Pentagon down. God rest his soul, it's something Col. Hackworth would agree with Durbin on -- that an utter lack of good civilian leadership is causing the United States to fail its armed forces.

Besides, how do you show more disdain for the military than by utterly breaking the Army, National Guard and Reserves through an unnecessary, costly war of choice, by cutting benefits to military families, and by failing to even put in a call to service from the people who voted for you -- and who loudly support the war -- by asking them and their children to sign up and serve? Of course, Bush would be an awkward messenger for voluntary military service, having spent the Vietnam war on a secret mission somewhere other than Texas, Boston or Alabama... but as the Commander in Chief, it is his job.
posted by JReid @ 1:39 PM  
(They wanna be) down with the King
AP is reporting that at least one juror partied with Michael Jackson's family at a California casino Friday night. Hm... must be the same one planning to write a book entitled "Freeing Michael Jackson: A star-struck juror's story..." Jacko didn't show. Maybe he was too busy communing with the man in the mirror...
posted by JReid @ 12:40 PM  
Friday, June 17, 2005
America the pessimistic
The New York Times buried its CBS co-sponsored poll on the inside pages today, but the results are unmistakable: Americans think the president's performance sucks. It's not just this poll, things look bad for Bush no matter what poll you look at, and Congress is faring even worse. Talk about your buyer's remorse...
posted by JReid @ 8:34 PM  
CSI: Aruba
Aruba police go public with the identity of the fourth person detained in the Natalee Holloway case. Here's the pic to go with it (from Riehlworldview). BTW it looks like Riehl will be feted on Fox Saturday night at 9 p.m.

posted by JReid @ 8:23 PM  
Unsurprising headlines
Rocker Bo Bice says he's glad he didn't win "American Idol."

Can't disagree with that. Being a pop idol was just not his thing.
posted by JReid @ 6:18 PM  
No apologies, no regrets (and a memo)
Nope... Dick Durbin's still not apologizing. FreeperRage notwithstanding.

Update: here 's a link to a copy of the FBI memo Durbin was reading from, which details such "good menu" treatment as chaining a detainee in the fetal position on a cold floor with no food or water for 24 hours or more, allowing the prioners to defecate on themselves, and subjecting barefoot detainees to extremes of hot and cold. It also describes the orange-chicken-pampered detainee as curled up on the floor, chained in the fetal positionnext to a pile of hair -- his own, which he hasd apparently been pulling out throughout the night.

I guess this was before he was served his noodles Jefferson...
posted by JReid @ 5:10 PM  
Sideshow Mel does it again
Poor Mel Martinez. He just can't seem to get anything right. First, he loses a newspaper endorsement because of something stupid he says during the campain, then he does something stupid during the Terri Schiavo case, handing a "Get Nelson" memo over to Harry Reid, and then he questions the desirability of Gitmo, gets blasted by that guy Ann Coulter, only to take back his comments a few days later. I'll bet the Gentleman Florida sure is glad Duncan Hunter is in Congress, otherwise, he'd be the dimmest bulb there.
''I would not feel comfortable with them in Florida,'' he said in a brief interview on Wednesday afternoon when asked to clarify his remarks, ''nor would I feel comfortable with them being released, nor would I feel comfortable with a number of things. So once the debate takes place, maybe this is the best option. Public diplomacy may not be the overriding concern.''

You know, Senator, I don't think I feel comfortable with you in Florida.
posted by JReid @ 4:40 PM  
Holloway mystery theater
Checking in with Riehlworldview and sure enough, he has the skinny on the fourth suspect arrested in the Natalee Holloway disappearance. Of course, not everyone is happy with Riehl's detective work on this case, particularly an interview he purports to have done with a friend of Joran Van der Sloot's.
posted by JReid @ 4:11 PM  
The people vs. Dana Milbank
Bradblog leads the charge with a shellacking of WaPo's Dana Milbank, whose piece today on Thursday's Downing Street Memo hearings event put on by anti-war groups and chaired by John Conyers in the basement of the Capitol was ... well ... not so nice. Even the title is snarky -- so much so, it could have been written by Karl Rove:

Democrats Play House To Rally Against the War

By Dana Milbank

Friday, June 17, 2005; Page A06

In the Capitol basement yesterday, long-suffering House Democrats took a trip to the land of make-believe.

They pretended a small conference room was the Judiciary Committee hearing room, draping white linens over folding tables to make them look like witness tables and bringing in cardboard name tags and extra flags to make the whole thing look official.

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) banged a large wooden gavel and got the other lawmakers to call him "Mr. Chairman." He liked that so much that he started calling himself "the chairman" and spouted other chairmanly phrases, such as "unanimous consent" and "without objection so ordered." The dress-up game looked realistic enough on C-SPAN, so two dozen more Democrats came downstairs to play along.

The session was a mock impeachment inquiry over the Iraq war. As luck would have it, all four of the witnesses agreed that President Bush lied to the nation and was guilty of high crimes -- and that a British memo on "fixed" intelligence that surfaced last month was the smoking gun equivalent to the Watergate tapes. Conyers was having so much fun that he ignored aides' entreaties to end the session.

"At the next hearing," he told his colleagues, "we could use a little subpoena power." That brought the house down.

As Conyers and his hearty band of playmates know, subpoena power and other perks of a real committee are but a fantasy unless Democrats can regain the majority in the House. But that's only one of the obstacles they're up against as they try to convince America that the "Downing Street Memo" is important.

Sounds like someone's been sticking his tongue out at the ombudsman, and anyone else who criticizes the Post and other MSM for ignoring the Downing Street story -- which Milbank insists is "irrelevant" since everybody already knows Bush came into office hell-bent on taking down Saddam Hussein. Hey Dana, who died and made you White House spokesman?

Well, the Chairman fired back today, in an angry letter to Milbank that's sure to be buried in the letters to the editor section of the paper sometime soon (either that, or the eds will offer Conyers a shot at the op-ed page). Either way, this just shows what happens when you let supposedly serious journalists appear on "Hardball." They start mistaking themselves for witty analysts.

Here's Conyers' response in full, again, with shout-outs to Bradblog:

June 17, 2005

Mr. Michael Abramowitz, National Editor
Mr. Michael Getler, Ombudsman
Mr. Dana Milbank
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20071

Dear Sirs:

I write to express my profound disappointment with Dana Milbank's June 17 report, "Democrats Play House to Rally Against the War," which purports to describe a Democratic hearing I chaired in the Capitol yesterday. In sum, the piece cherry-picks some facts, manufactures others out of whole cloth, and does a disservice to some 30 members of Congress who persevered under difficult circumstances, not of our own making, to examine a very serious subject: whether the American people were deliberately misled in the lead up to war. The fact that this was the Post's only coverage of this event makes the journalistic shortcomings in this piece even more egregious.

In an inaccurate piece of reporting that typifies the article, Milbank implies that one of the obstacles the Members in the meeting have is that "only one" member has mentioned the Downing Street Minutes on the floor of either the House or Senate. This is not only incorrect but misleading. In fact, just yesterday, the Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid, mentioned it on the Senate floor. Senator Boxer talked at some length about it at the recent confirmation hearing for the Ambassador to Iraq. The House Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi, recently signed on to my letter, along with 121 other Democrats asking for answers about the memo. This information is not difficult to find either. For example, the Reid speech was the subject of an AP wire service report posted on the Washington Post website with the headline "Democrats Cite Downing Street Memo in Bolton Fight". Other similar mistakes, mischaracterizations and cheap shots are littered throughout the article.

The article begins with an especially mean and nasty tone, claiming that House Democrats "pretended" a small conference was the Judiciary Committee hearing room and deriding the decor of the room. Milbank fails to share with his readers one essential fact: the reason the hearing was held in that room, an important piece of context. Despite the fact that a number of other suitable rooms were available in the Capitol and House office buildings, Republicans declined my request for each and every one of them. Milbank could have written about the perseverance of many of my colleagues in the face of such adverse circumstances, but declined to do so. Milbank also ignores the critical fact picked up by the AP, CNN and other newsletters that at the very moment the hearing was scheduled to begin, the Republican Leadership scheduled an almost unprecedented number of 11 consecutive floor votes, making it next to impossible for most Members to participate in the first hour and one half of the hearing.

In what can only be described as a deliberate effort to discredit the entire hearing, Milbank quotes one of the witnesses as making an anti-semitic assertion and further describes anti-semitic literature that was being handed out in the overflow room for the event. First, let me be clear: I consider myself to be friend and supporter of Israel and there were a number of other staunchly pro-Israel members who were in attendance at the hearing. I do not agree with, support, or condone any comments asserting Israeli control over U.S. policy, and I find any allegation that Israel is trying to dominate the world or had anything to do with the September 11 tragedy disgusting and ofensive.

That said, to give such emphasis to 100 seconds of a 3 hour and five minute hearing that included the powerful and sad testimony (hardly mentioned by Milbank) of a woman who lost her son in the Iraq war and now feels lied to as a result of the Downing Street Minutes, is incredibly misleading. Many, many different pamphlets were being passed out at the overflow room, including pamphlets about getting out of the Iraq war and anti-Central American Free Trade Agreement, and it is puzzling why Milbank saw fit to only mention the one he did.

In a typically derisive and uninformed passage, Milbank makes much of other lawmakers calling me "Mr. Chairman" and says I liked it so much that I used "chairmanly phrases." Milbank may not know that I was the Chairman of the House Government Operations Committee from 1988 to 1994. By protocol and tradition in the House, once you have been a Chairman you are always referred to as such. Thus, there was nothing unusual about my being referred to as Mr. Chairman.

To administer his coup-de-grace, Milbank literally makes up another cheap shot that I "was having so much fun that [I] ignored aides' entreaties to end the session." This did not occur. None of my aides offered entreaties to end the session and I have no idea where Milbank gets that information. The hearing certainly ran longer than expected, but that was because so many Members of Congress persevered under very difficult circumstances to attend, and I thought - given that - the least I could do was allow them to say their piece. That is called courtesy, not "fun."

By the way, the "Downing Street Memo" is actually the minutes of a British cabinet meeting. In the meeting, British officials - having just met with their American counterparts - describe their discussions with such counterparts. I mention this because that basic piece of context, a simple description of the memo, is found nowhere in Milbank's article.

The fact that I and my fellow Democrats had to stuff a hearing into a room the size of a large closet to hold a hearing on an important issue shouldn't make us the object of
ridicule. In my opinion, the ridicule should be placed in two places: first, at the feet of Republicans who are so afraid to discuss ideas and facts that they try to sabotage our efforts to do so; and second, on Dana Milbank and the Washington Post, who do not feel the need to give serious coverage on a serious hearing about a serious matter-whether more than 1700 Americans have died because of a deliberate lie. Milbank may disagree, but the Post certainly owed its readers some coverage of that viewpoint.

Sincerely,John Conyers, Jr.

...Not to mention the fact that it's particularly cheeky in this age of "citizen journalism" for Mother WaPo to decide on her own what inforamtion is, and what is not, important to the American people. I'm an American person, and you know what, Dana? I think that whether we were lied to in advance of a war that has killed more than 1,700 American servicemen and women, injured more than 12,000 and killed countless "liberated" Iraqis, is importatn.

Just for fun, here are a few handy emails:

Michael Abramowitz, National Editor -
Michael Getler, Ombudsman -
posted by JReid @ 3:25 PM  
A new definition of insanity
You know what insanity is? It's doing whatever silly thing you think will help you out with the Freepers, even if that thing is doomed to fail and piss them off even more...

In other words: ordering yet another probe into the bogus "Michael killed Terri Schiavo" canard despite a bona fide autopsy confirming -- and this is the key point -- that she is gone. So what happens when the Jeb-ordered probe into the original 911 call that started Terri's descent into persistent vegetation turns up nothing that can be used to string up the grieving husband (and just possibly grease up a Jeb run for v.p. in 2008?) The Freepers will freep-the-hell-out again with rekindled outrage at the "murder" -- or is it murders (since the hubby appears to have done it twice)... of Terri Schiavo and the inability of puny, Christ-poor politicians to save her... politicians like Jeb Bush, for instance, who just a couple months ago was being compared by this crowd to Pontius Pilate...

For the love of God, people, can't we just leave this one alone...!?
posted by JReid @ 3:10 PM  
Thursday, June 16, 2005
1001 reasons it's good to be a (cable news) celebrity
Money for nothing (and the disdain of your community for free). How'd you like to be the prosecutor who negotiated Jennifer Wilbanks' plea deal, in which she agreed to pay only about a third of the police departments' costs for finding her, now that she's coming into real money?


Previous "reasons": 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1
posted by JReid @ 6:09 PM  
For God sakes, Malkin...
...give up the ghost on Schiavo already. Even Bill Frist has thrown in the diagnosis at this point... What's posted today isn't a ""sober look," it's a depressing fiction novel.
posted by JReid @ 12:22 PM  
All apologies

At least Dick Durbin has made Howard Dean's week easier by drawing fire to himself over comments he made on Tuesday on the Senate floor. Before we get all jazzed up over it, let's have a look at exactly what Senator Durbin said:

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings," Durbin said. [Washington Post, June 16]
And why he said it:

Durbin, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, made the comparison during a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday after reading an FBI agent's report describing detainees at the Naval base in Guantanamo Bay as being chained to the floor without food or water in extreme temperatures. [San Francisco Chronicle - emphasis added]

Well, the wingers are on fire with outrage, and demanding Durbin say he's sorry. So far, D.D. is refusing to back down, saying it's the Bush administration that should apologize for tarnishing the good name of the United States with its lax rules on torture, for discarding of the Geneva Convention, and for the erection of a legally invisible prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.

As one who has great respect for the military, and the people in it, I viscerally cringe at the idea of comparing U.S. servicemen to Nazis or Soviets. But I don't think Durbin was doing that. The comparison he was making was between those brutal regimes and the one in Washington right now. The Bush administration is the one harkening back to old Soviet tactics in its prosecution of the war on terror (don't believe for a moment that the tactics at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo were invented by the troops themselves...).

Durbin may have used a poor choice of language, and no, George W. Bush isn't Pol Pot, but what's truly shameful is that a United States Senator can even find a way to make such an argument, based on what our own government has done.

The right, for its part, isn't exactly acquitting itself well, responding to every criticsm of Camp X-Ray by justifying the nasty tactics used there. Is that what we've become? Is maintaining our camp worth the cost of losing our standing as a law abiding, moral nation? And are Durbin's comments any worse than the juvenile justifications of prisoner mistreatment proposed by Limbaugh and others, or the utterly silly "menu defense" put forward this week by Rep. Duncan Hunter?

As usual, Craig Crawford is the voice of reasn on this one (he's on "Connected" now, doing battle with Monica Crowley and her fellow "torture the bastards!" WOT warriors). I'll have to check in with his blog later. Crawford makes the point that Gitmo simply isn't worth the public relations nightmare it has created for the U.S., which could fight the war on terror just as well -- perhaps more successfully, if we weren't appearing to throw Geneva out the window whenever its rules inconvenience us. He also goes after the wingers for appearing to justify torture -- er, "mishandling..."

How can you argue with that?
posted by JReid @ 12:07 PM  
Good luck with that one...
The NYPost's Deborah Orin, who manages to contain herself reasonably well on "Hardball," has a new suggestion for her fellow travelers on the right: Ignore Hillary Clinton. This is probably good advice, particularly as it relates to the Ed Klein sleaze tome on Ms. Clinton that's set to come out soon. The allegations in it, which reportedly include the "bombshell" that Hillary has dabbled in lesbianism (something David Brock investigated back in his GOP hit man days and dismissed as the hysterical rumblings of conservative Arkansas society unaccustomed to a women who doesn't do dishes), are far more salacious than what was in Kitty Kelly's book on the Bushes. Let's see if Matt lauer takes Orin's advice and lays into Klein the way he torched Kitty.
posted by JReid @ 11:27 AM  
Mining the WaPo
Howard Kurtz sees the media taking a second look at the Downing Street memo (the author of the Times UK story is taking questions on the site this afternoon).

Meanwhile, Jim Hoagland breaks down the rampant culture of criminality in "free" Iraq.

Back at the ranch, the GAO is running down some $3 billion in unpaid taxes by U.S. non-defense contractors.
posted by JReid @ 11:19 AM  
Back-peddlin' Mel (and other Schiavo rethinks)
Florida's embarrassment to the Senate, Mel Martinez, is having second thoughts about his zealous actions during the Terri Schiavo circus of life. He tells WaPo the issue probably should have been resolved at the state level after all. The reason for his internal review? The autopsy showing the severely brain damaged woman could not have recovered from her injuries, and could not have swallowed food and water, no matter what extraordinary measures were taken.

The news hasn't shaken most of Freeperdom, nor has it caused Schiavo's parents or her attorney, who made a fool of himself on Olbermann's show last night, to change their view. But for the sane world, the debate on Terri Schiavo has long been over. She was beyond repair, apparently cortically blind, incapable of recognizing her parents, responding to her siblings, or declaring her wish to live on. Her husband was right (and there's no evidence he abused her), her parents were wrong. End of debate, right?

Wrong. The debate on the GOP's shameful exploitation of the Florida woman's tragedy is back on in earnest, as well it should be.
posted by JReid @ 10:56 AM  
Message: I miss you
An AP news analysis suggests President Bush, struggling in the polls and watching his legacy play -- Iraq -- descend into chaos, is really missing his ole' Bonesman punching bag pal, John Kerry. Where are those damned Swiftboat Veterans when you really, really need them...
posted by JReid @ 10:48 AM  
Word of the day
There's a new buzzword on Capitol Hill, and it ain't "that's hot," despite the recent goings on at a certain Washington fundraiser at which a certain porn star was apparently propositioned for threesomes and a possible gig at a big spender's sister's strip joint...

The buzzword, which is actually more of a catch-phrase, is "exit strategy." It's not just being whispered -- and said aloud -- regarding Iraq. Bush's move to privatize Social Security is also getting the "E.S." treatment.
posted by JReid @ 10:44 AM  
'Beijing's bitch'
Microsoft's decision to censor Chinese blogs to comport with the communist government's policy (be barring such heinous words as "democracy" and "demonstration,") is drawing some well-deserved fire from the blogosphere.
posted by JReid @ 10:41 AM  
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
The "come backo" kid?
The latest British tab rumor: Michael Jackson set to appear at Philly "Live 8?" Doesn't sound all that plausible to me -- I'd have thought Jacko would stage his "comeback" overseas... where most of the wack-jobs who formed that three-ring circus outside the Santa Maria courthouse come from...
posted by JReid @ 2:55 PM  
You must sleep well if...
... two days after you acquit a man of child molestation, you have this to say:
Juror: Jackson 'dodged a bullet.'
posted by JReid @ 2:49 PM  
Case closed
Key paragraphs in what hopefully will be the final word on Terri Schiavo:
LARGO, Fla. - An autopsy on Terri Schiavo backed her husband's contention that she was in a persistent vegetative state, finding that she had massive and irreversible brain damage and was blind, the medical examiner's office said Wednesday. It also found no evidence that she was strangled or otherwise abused.

But what caused her collapse 15 years ago remained a mystery. The autopsy and
post-mortem investigation found no proof that she had an eating disorder, as was suspected at the time, Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner Jon Thogmartin said.


She died from dehydration, Thogmartin said. He said she did not appear to have suffered a heart attack and there was no evidence that she was given harmful drugs or other substances prior to her death.

He said that after her feeding tube was removed, she would not have been able to eat or drink if she had been given food by mouth, as her parents requested.

"Removal of her feeding tube would have resulted in her death whether she was fed or hydrated by mouth or not," Thogmartin told reporters.

He also said she was blind, because the "vision centers of her brain were dead," and that her brain was about half of its expected size when she died 13 days following the feeding tube's removal.

And this:
"The brain weighed 615 grams, roughly half of the expected weight of a human brain," he said. "This damage was irreversible, and no amount of therapy or treatment would have regenerated the massive loss of neurons."

I'm quite sure that despite these findings, the vagueries surrounding Schiavo's 1980 collapse will continue to be fodder for "culture of life" true believers. But for anyone interested in looking at this case rationally, this should be the end of the story.

Let's hope so, anyway.

For a look-see, let's go to the FReepers, who so far, appear to be vascillating between the doubters "it's all a big, anti-life conspiracy," to those who cling to the abuse theory based on the vagueries, to the more sober. Post that probably sums it all up:

The autopsy results are irrelevant to those who value life. But we've gone over that point endlessly on FR.
9 posted on 06/15/2005 10:29:53 AM PDT by TheDon (Euthanasia is an
posted by JReid @ 1:46 PM  
Off message
Rumsfeld tells the BBC Iraq is "statistically" no safer now than it was at the time Saddam was overthrown. So much for letting him handle the war P.R. ...
posted by JReid @ 2:01 AM  
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
She said it!
On MSNBC earlier tonight, porn star Mary Carey expurgated her zeal at the prospect of attending a GOP fundraiser.

"I just can't wait to see Bush," burbled the politically-minded pornie. "I just looove Bush..."

No, seriously, she really said it ...

Pic courtesy of
posted by JReid @ 9:59 PM  
I'll do anything for you (dear White House)

WaPo's E.J. Dionne paints the Democrats' nightmare scenario: McCain-(Jeb) Bush in 2008. I think that outside of Allen of Virginia, who has that Kennedy appeal (and the loyalty of the Freeperati), McCain-Jebbie is the GOP's best play against Hillary. That is, unless they can get Collin Powell to go in the tank one more time.

McCain sold out so hard and sucked up to Bush so forcefully, it's a wonder he and Dubya haven't eloped to Massachusetts. That may make Democrats who used to like him cringe, but it hasn't stopped the media from lathering up the so-called "maverick" at every turn. McCain has media love, indie credibility, and he's decidedly pro war. As Dionne puts it:

Times change and politicians do what they have to do. For years, McCain and the president couldn't stand each other. The surest way not to get a job in the early Bush administration was to have supported McCain over Bush in the 2000 primaries.

But McCain made a crucial decision to alter the relationship in 2004. Courted hard by John Kerry as a potential running mate, McCain said no. He decided he wanted to be president and that it was unlikely he would ever get a Democratic nomination -- and implausible that he could win as an independent. His one shot was as a Republican.

Once this choice was made, everything else fell into place. McCain joined the Bush crowd. He gave a powerful speech endorsing the president at last year's Republican National Convention in New York. The address was perfect for both McCain and Bush. Unlike the speeches bashing Kerry and the Democrats by Zell Miller, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rudy Giuliani, McCain's stuck to policy and praised Bush for his decision to go to war in Iraq.

This allowed McCain to keep his reputation for clinging to the high ground, but it was also important for Bush, whose central policy legacy, for better or worse, will be Iraq.
The standard view of McCain's choice, especially among Democrats, is that he sold out to Bush for nothing. This assumes that McCain can't win the 2008 Republican nomination because of the intense opposition he will face from the Republican right, especially from Christian conservatives. It also assumes that Bush will never lift a finger to help McCain.

In Bush's ideal world, that would probably be true. But the current moment is not ideal for Bush, and the economy, Iraq and the political situation may be even less ideal two and three years from now. If the Republicans' ethics problems worsen, McCain's Mr. Clean image will look ever more attractive to Republican members of Congress desperate to hold power. If things get really bad, many Republicans will be happy to dump House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and embrace McCain.

The situation in Iraq shows no sign of turning around quickly. Who would be willing to stick with Bush's adventure? Bush would like to hand over power to a president committed to his Iraq policy. McCain -- who is close to the party's neoconservative wing -- has been steadfast in defending the president's decision to go to war, despite doubts about prewar planning and mistakes early in the occupation.

And if middle-class income growth is sluggish, bread-and-butter discontent will benefit any Democrat running on a throw-the-bums-out platform. McCain could promise just enough change to win the election. He voted against Bush's tax policies, yet he is also among the most fiscally conservative members of the Senate.

For all these reasons, Bush and McCain could end up as each other's best friends. Bush has been battling, with Rove's help, for a long-term political realignment in favor of the Republicans. The president could well come to see McCain as the only
Republican with a chance to push a Republican era forward. McCain, in turn, knows that his only way around the Republican right is to run with Bush's open blessing, if not his outright endorsement.

I wouldn't rule it out. And if McCain has to ride with Jebbie to get into the White House, hell, he's an ambitious politician. He'll do what he has to do.

Of course, there are problems with the Bush not-quite-dream scenario. If Americans continue to sour on the war, by the time McCain runs for president it is possible that either 1) the Bushies have given up the ghost and begun to draw down troops amid growing public clamour to end the confict, or 2) anybody who wants to win the election will have to present a get-out-soon plan. McCain has shown no signs of quitterage, and instead, almost maniacly, continues to push the war. That won't likely be a popular position in 2008.

Second, McCain isn't just disliked by the Freeperati, they hate his guts. The ultra-righties aren't just going to sit still while a man who once called the religious right the Evil Empire gets the nomination.
posted by JReid @ 9:13 PM  
Dick and Sean, happy at last...
Well at least 40 percent of Americans surveyed didn't think he is a journalist...

...but apparently the White House does. In case you missed the story the other day, here's your chance to watch the sparks fly as FNC's Sean Hannity get a good topping off from his very favorite ogrish love sponge, Vice President Dick Cheney. A tiny sampling?

First, our intrepid reporter proves beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he listens to everything Dick says...

HANNITY: You said, "America's safer but we are not yet safe."

CHENEY: Well, it's true. We've made major progress, I think, in the War on Terror, and what we've been able to do in Afghanistan and Iraq. But we're still faced
with a deadly adversary out there in the Al Qaeda organization. We've just recently captured Abu Faraj Al-Libbi, who was currently the number-three man in the organization. We know they're trying to mount more attacks against the United States. Up until now, we've able to disrupt those attacks or intercept them. But we can't let our guard down for a minute.

HANNITY: You know, you said — we're talking about Al Qaeda. Are there Al Qaeda that we know are in the United States? Are they here, some, that we know, and we're trying to find?

CHENEY: Well, I can't say that. I mean, once we find somebody, then we'll move on them, obviously, as aggressively as possible, if somebody's been actually involved in terrorist training, for example, in the camps in Afghanistan or provides financial support and sustenance to a terrorist adversary. ...

HANNITY: I read your speech to the U.S. Air Force Academy. And you went into detail talking about the same topic here. And you said, "They hate our country. They oppose everything we stand for in the world. They hold an ideology that demands complete conformity, the crushing of dissent." You talk about subjugating of women, et cetera, and you said, "They have declared their intention to strike America again and kill even greater numbers of our citizens." So we're getting further and further away from 9/11, we forget, don't we?

(Always good to establish a bond of trust with the interview subject -- through the clever overuse of the word "we...")

Then, our boy goes in for the kill, making helpful and supportive statements not even posed in the form of a question. Take it, Sean!

HANNITY: You keep, in the administration, coming under fire for Iraq. We just had elections in Iraq. The security forces are growing in Iraq.

CHENEY: Right. [Clever boy, Sean, make him acknowledge what you've just said, using a single word...]

HANNITY: There's still an insurgency, but there's a lot of progress. What do you make of how that war has been politicized? Where would we be today if we didn't go to Iraq?

CHENEY: Well, I think if Saddam Hussein were still in power, if Iraq were still a safe-haven for terrorists, if in fact he'd been able to continue the pattern of activity he'd undertaken in the past — remember, he's the guy who did produce weapons of mass destruction, did use them against his own people and against the Iranians.
The world's much better off and much safer today because Saddam Hussein's in prison, will soon go on trial in Iraq, and the 25 million people in Iraq, as well as in Afghanistan, have been liberated. Those are all major achievements. ....

...blah blah blah, liberation blah blah... get on with it Hannity! Go for the journalistic kill!!! Show that veep that you, Sean Hannity, unlike the commie bastards at "real news stations" like CN-Communist-N, doesn't keep up with the "news", preferring instead to stick with Scott McClellan's spin from several weeks ago. Go man, go!

HANNITY: Let's talk about when a group like Amnesty International (search) compares Gitmo, Guantanamo Bay, to what happened in the gulags, where millions of people were murdered. And then later they admit they don't know what's going on. Or when Newsweek puts out reports that the Koran was flushed down the toilet, and then later they have to retract a story like that. The impact it has on people
worldwide and those people that are looking for reasons to hate the United States or justify, perhaps, actions against our troops. How dangerous is that?

CHENEY: Well, it hurts. And there's no question about it. I talked to Hamid Karzai (search) when he was here, president of Afghanistan, shortly after Newsweek had to apologize for their inaccurate report. But the report, in turn, precipitated demonstrations, I think, in Talalabad, in Afghanistan, that led to burning down of a major cultural facility there. Live threatened and so forth. In fact, something like 400 Korans were destroyed in the fire in the cultural center, supposedly as a way of protesting what had allegedly happened at Guantanamo, which of course didn't happen at all. The Koran had not been flushed down the toilet, and the — Newsweek had to withdraw its comment.

It's important that they be careful and exercise a sense of responsibility here, because lives are at stake.

That's it boy, show those journalism students how it's done!

HANNITY: Recently, by the North Korean Central News Agency — I don't know if you've read this — but you were called a "bloodthirsty beast." Are you surprised?

CHENEY: No. Not by the North Koreans. They frequently say outrageous things.

He's really vulnerable now! Show him who's boss!

HANNITY: Do we have hope?

CHENEY: Well, certainly, we have hope. We think this is the right way to proceed, is to resolve the matter diplomatically. But it's important that we continue to push hard on this, because if North Korea becomes a nuclear weapons state, it could well destabilize that part of East Asia.

Whew!! Now THAT's what I call journalism ... in the former Soviet Union!!!
posted by JReid @ 8:10 PM  
Best Jacko headline of the day:
From the NY Post..., the mother of all tirades from the Post reporter who asked that juror and mother-of-three if she would let her kids snuggle up to M.J. in his beddie-bye.

In the minds of a jury of Michael Jackson's "peers" — 12 ordinary men and women, many of them parents with young kids themselves — the choice was simple.

They accepted Michael's well-known predilection for cuddling up with preadolescents over the erratic and potentially irresponsible behavior of his young accuser's mother.

That is — they blamed the victim's mother for Michael's actions. And it makes me sick.

I got a good clue how Michael got away with it as I walked into the courtroom after his stunning acquittal to meet the jury who set him free.

There I saw woman with kind green eyes, a mother of three boys — two of whom, at ages 14 and 16, might be playmates of choice for Jackson. I had to ask, "Would you allow your own child to sleep in bed with this man?"

Just when you think you've heard it all, you meet someone like this lady, an attractive, 45-year-old, unemployed, married mother. Her response was as
weird, disgusting and as out-to-lunch as anything I've heard in the courtroom here, during all these months that I've wasted on this pointless freak show and celebrity petting zoo masquerading as a criminal trial.

At first, the juror laughed. Then she positively vibrated with anger. She seemed mad at the very notion of a middle-aged man who dares sleep with preadolescents. Or so I thought.

"As a parent, it's something that you are constantly protective of what happens to your children," she began. Then came the wallop. "Speaking for myself and a few other" parents on the jury, she said, "what mother in her right mind would allow that to happen? "To freely volunteer your child to sleep with someone?"

She was mad, all right. But at the wrong human.

I asked, incredulous — You're saying you had more of a problem with the victim's mother for letting her child spend the night with Michael Jackson than you had with Michael actually sleeping with a child?

To borrow the juror's own words — What kind of mother excuses a grown man for sleeping with a small child?

"I'd like to comment on that," she said coyly. "But later on." When, lady? When you sign your book deal?

There you have it, justice lovers. The little boys of this corner of California never had a chance.

posted by JReid @ 8:09 PM  
Another Jackson headline
Ugh... Phil Jackson has dissed the Knicks in order to sign up for three more years of bickering with Princess Kobe. What a schmuck.

"We don't have to have dinner together. We don't have to like each other. It's not about getting along with somebody. It's about winning," says Miss Bryant. Well that's got to come as a relief to Dr. Phil, who now won't have to dodge the flying dishes when Vanessa gets groupie-suspicious ...

Searching ... searching ... searching for a reason why the best NBA coach in my lifetime would want to go back to begging that surly, ball-hogging Ernie from Sesame Street lookalike to pass the pill ... ah, I think I've found it!

Jeanie Buss, the owner's daughter and the Lakers' executive vice president of business operations, publicly lobbied for months for the return of Jackson, her longtime boyfriend.

Mmm. Suddenly it all makes sense...

posted by JReid @ 8:00 PM  
The 'Hang 15'
Courtesy of DailyKos, here are the Senators -- all GOP unfortunately -- who refused to sign their names to the anti-lynching resolution that passed today:

Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Robert Bennett (R-UT)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Michael Crapo (R-ID)
Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Trent Lott (R-MS)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Richard Shelby (R-AL)
John Sununu (R-NH)
Craig Thomas (R-WY)
George Voinovich (R-OH) - I have to say, this one surprises me...

The resolution passed on a voice vote (the Senators apparently weren't in the mood for a potentially embarrassing roll call). It was introduced by Mary Landrieu (D-La) and potential presidential wonder-boy George Allen (R-Va) -- shrewd move, that. According to Kos, Democrat Kent Conrad of ND belatedly added his name to the list of co-sponsors, taking away the potential bi-partisan flavor of this particular turd.
posted by JReid @ 6:56 PM  
Agent, investigate thyself
David Corn serves up the dirt on how Deep Throat himself, Mark Felt, took on the job of ... investigating Deep Throat. Includes the obligatory Miami connection.
posted by JReid @ 5:29 PM  
The sound of history marching on
Okay, so I know Michael Jackson is happy to be acquitted, but his website is running a flash video comparing his acquittal with the release of Nelson Mandela from prison and the fall of the Berlin Wall...

The site also confirms that spokeslady Raymone Bain was indeed fired, her pre-verdict denials notwithstanding. (Man! No more appearances on "The Abrams Report...!") Ouch.

BTW, after nearly two years, the bets have expired at regarding the MJ verdict. More than 16,000 people took part, with a slight majority having bet that he would be convicted on at least one of the lewd act charges, and a clear majority thinking he'd get tagged with at least one of the drinks counts. Betonsports has already moved on (to Lindsey Lohan's wedding potential, Beyonce's sitcome potential and other important stuff). Their new best bet:

Which of the following will occur with Willie Nelson's new reggae album?

His Reggae Album will sell under 500 copies
His New Reggae Album will reach Billboard's Top 10 (overall)
Willie Nelson will get caught smoking Pot
Willie Nelson will win a Grammy
Willie Nelson will record an Album with Sean Paul
Willie Nelson will make a movie with Ali G
Willie Nelson will have an affair with Beyonce
Willie Nelson will grow hair dreds and start dressing like Bob Marley

yeah man.
posted by JReid @ 12:43 PM  
Roadmap to Downing Street
The Democrats this week will be pushing through the Michael Jackson media fog to try and get a foothold for the Downing Street memo story. WaPo has a Terry Neal piece on the push. Meanwhile, NBC has authenticated a new set of pre-DSM documents that dig further into the British-U.S. collusion to go to war as early as the spring of 2002, documents first seen on See earlier post. Developing...
posted by JReid @ 11:58 AM  
Censorship from unexpected sources
Microsoft plays ball with the Chinese government, censoring blogs from the communist country, blocking entries that contain words like "democracy" or "demonstration." The company says it must abide by the laws of hosting countries, and it is probably hamstrung by restrictions even to do business in China. Still, a disturbing result.
posted by JReid @ 11:43 AM  
Glad to be wrong
Michael Jackson's lawyer (now known in media coinage as "the Mez" says the singer won't be sharing his bed with pre-teen boys anymore. Sounds like a sound plan. This comes as jurors begin to be more forthcoming, including some admitting they don't think Jackson is entirely innocent, but that in the end, the family of his current accuser -- and the prosecutor's poorly thought out case -- just weren't credible.
posted by JReid @ 11:21 AM  
The journalism factor
A new Annenberg Foundation survey finds that about four in ten Americans consider FNC's Bill O'Reilly a journalist. Truly scary. Even worse, another 27 percent thought the same of Rush Limbaugh.
Limbaugh said Monday he was "not really surprised" by the results showing 27 percent of Americans would describe him as a journalist. "I am America's anchorman, doing news play-by-play 15 hours a week for nearly 17 years now, and this is just more evidence that the old media's monopoly-like dominance is finished," the conservative talk show host said.
Wow. America's anchorman is a pill-head, and Fox's biggest journo is someone who, along with Russell Crowe, shouldn't be allowed near a phone. We've come a long way since Cronkite...

Buzzmachine has more on the Annenberg Foundation event from whence the poll came, complete with journo musings on things like "objectivity" and "fairness." I wonder if anyone from Fox News is attending...

The surveyers also asked questions of journalists themselves. One bite:
: Journalists were asked the reason why journalists "unintentionally let bias into their reporting."38 percent say they accept information without checking, 29 say they have strong personal views on a subject, 18 percent blame tight deadlines, 7 percent blame writing for editors' approval.
posted by JReid @ 10:47 AM  
Beat it
You know, I want to be happy for Michael Jackson -- I really do. As someone who grew up being a huge fan of his -- at least through "Thriller", I would love to feel that justice has been done and the onetime icon's image vindicated once and for all. But I don't. Because deep down -- maybe not even that deep down -- I think Michael Jackson did it. (I got the feeling after watching Olbermann, Brown and Cooper tonight, that I'm not alone in my queasy feelings about the trial's outcome).

Maybe it's the 1993 and 1994 accusers, who despite taking the money, seem pretty compelling to me... Maybe it's because MJ has gone from "The Wiz" wonderful to just plain scary. Maybe it's because I worry that Jacko just might be arrogant enough to keep putting pre-teen boys in his bed, even now, no matter what Jesse Jackson says (when will Jesse learn that nobody listens to him anymore?) Or maybe it's because the jurors in this case strike me as rather dim bulbs -- not to get all Nancy Grace on you, but how do they justify these two opposing thoughts:

Michael Jackson is probably a child molestor...

Michael Jackson is probably not a child molestor...

The jurors in many ways seem to have discounted the prosecution's entire case based almost entirely on their personal distaste for the accuser's mother. Because she was a finger-pointing shrew in their opinion ("don't you point that finger at me, sister!") and tried too hard to bond non-verbally with one Hispanic juror -- apparently nothing she or her son said was believable. Okay, and she had a history of lying in court. Not exactly a star witness...

Of course, the prosecutor didn't help himself by introducing an entirely implausible timeline (Jackson makes the video, reaps the media whirlwind, and only then, molests the boy???), by including a silly, unbelievable "kidnapping" charge (without the conspiracy counts, the mom from hell wouldn't have had to testify at all -- removing the jury-offending finger once and for all), and by neglecting to ensure that all five of their "prior bad acts" witnesses would actually testify that the bad acts occurred (three, including child star Macaulay Culkin and that weird choreographer guy from MTV, testified for the defense). Micky Sherman was right when he said on CNN tonight that Sneddon owes the people of Santa Maria, California an apology.

If there's one definitive lesson from this trial, it's that Tom Sneddon should find another line of work. If there are two, the other is that you almost never can beat a celebrity -- current or even has-been -- at trial. It didn't work with O.J., or that Barretta guy who used to be on "Our Gang" ... hell, it didn't work with Fatty Arbuckle. So what made Sneddon believe he could nail the King of Pop? Not without one hell of a rock solid case, buddy. Not in Fame Central U.S.A.

Hey, this must be how all the white people felt after the O.J. verdict! By the way, we learned that O.J.'s wife and her friend had been killed at her home exactly 11 years ago on June 13, 1994. The verdict in that case came a year later. Creepy, no?

Anyway, I can only hope that M.J. has learned his lesson -- or at least that the insane people whose kids ket right on bunking at Neverland even after the 1993 allegations -- some for months at a time -- have learned theirs. No more slumber parties. If Michael wants a pretty young male in his bed, he should come out of the closet and start dating someone half his age, like a normal celebrity. Otherwise, his image, along with his career and any shot at near-normalcy, is toast. Actually, maybe it already is.
posted by JReid @ 1:51 AM  
Monday, June 13, 2005
See, Tink? They DO believe in fairies...

here it is, count by count:

1. conspiracy - not guilty
2. lewd act - not guilty
3. lewd act - not guilty
4. lewd act - not guilty
5. lewd act - not guilty
6. attempted lewd act - not guilty
7. admnistering alcohol to commit lewd act - not guilty
7.1 lesser included alcohol offense - not guilty
8. administering alcohol to commit felony - not guilty
8.1 lesser included alcohol offense - not guilty
9. administering intoxicating agent - not guilty
9.1 lesser alcohol offense - not guilty
10. administering intoxicating agent - not guilty
10.1 lesser alcohol offense - not guilty

Think this has been a good day for Michael Jackson? You bet. Message to the prosecutor: get better witnesses (or don't try prosecuting a celebrity, no matter how weird). Message to Michael: unclear. Jacko boy-in-bed-watch begins ... now.

BBC hits the verdict and Jackson's "unclear future."

VF's Maureen Orth, who has covered Jacko forever, gives her (pre-verdict) take on the onetime pop superstar.
posted by JReid @ 2:13 PM  
Was Howard Dean right... and are Democrats wimps?
No, and yes.

John Carroll of the SF Chronicle makes the argument today that there's really nothing remarkable or inaccurate about HoDo's characterization of the GOP as the party of "white Christians", since neither half of that term is an epithet. He goes on to say that such a characterization merely makes a partisan point -- nothing wrong with that, right? Both sides are partisan. He then goes on to list a string of very real, and very troubling things for the Bush administration, from the president's dismal approval ratings "a full twenty points lower than Bill Clinton's was on the day he was impeached" he quotes Eric Alterman as saying, to Americans' growing displeasure with the war, the Army's inability to find enough volunteers, and the many, many corporate-tinged scandals that make this White House operation look like a slap fight between the ghosts of Herbert Hoover and William Howard Taft.

All of those things are, of course, true. But what in the name of God ... sorry, Jesus ... does that have to do with Republicans being a bunch of "white Christians?" If Howard Dean wants to slam the Bushies for being a bunch of corporate whores who are robbing the American middle class in order to fork over our hard-earned money to the inheritance crowd, who hate workers and the military -- as evidenced by the speed with which they are destroying it -- fine. I'll even pin a medal on him. But here's the thing: none of that has anything to do with being white or Christian, and it's an insult to Christians -- and I'll assume, to white people -- to make that connection. (Let's not forget the many Black and Hispanic people who are participating in Dubya's great American shakedown).

The Bushies aren't corrupt because they're white Chistians, they're corrupt because they can get away with it, helped, as Carroll duly points out, by their loudmouth shills in the American media (not the least of which are the disgrace to the news business known as Fox and the Bush butt-kissing right wingers on talk radio) and by a public that's easily distracted and almost kicked-dog accepting of being lied to by politicians.

The Democrats can't beat back the Bushies by joining the Air America crowd in this constant bash-fest linking Christianity to the right wing nut-jobbery of Bush and his friends. Sure, the Bush crowd couch many of their policies in religion, but many of the post pernicious are virtually religion-free. In fact, it's worth remembering that a key camp within the Bush administration -- and the one pushing the policy most odious to liberaldom: the Iraq war -- aren't mainly Christians at all. (Most of the neocons happend to be Jewish.) And the business interests bellying up to the Congressional bar for more fat tax breaks and bankruptcy bills have no visible religious connection.

When Dean and friends talk about "white Christians," what they're really getting at are social policies -- "values" issues like gay marriage (what Carroll calls the "booga booga") and abortion, all of which are sure losers for the Democratic Party. Why on earth would Carroll want the DNC chairman to undermine the more valid arguments the party has going for it by reaching for the issues upon which most Americans -- being Christians -- agree with the other side?

By playing the "Christo-fascist" card every time Bush screws up, the liberals in the Democratic party cancel out whatever message they might bring to the table, and send a million fingers into the ears of potentially persuadable centrist voters. I'm a freaking Christian for Chrissakes (sorry again, Jesus), and I can't stand George W. Bush! So where does that leave me?

Should Dean fight the power? Of course he should. Should he slam the drug-taking, military service-avoiding, war-starting, corporate whoring, job-offshoring, illegal immigration-ignoring, phone sex-with-loofahs-having hypocrites on the other side of the political divide? Hell yes. Is he the chairman of a party overstocked with political wimps? Yessir! But does that have a single, solitary thing to do with white people or Christianity?

No, no, NO.
posted by JReid @ 1:15 PM  
Mining the Wapo
A couple of good gets from Howard Kurtz' column today, which is mostly a sendup to Air America radio hostess Stephanie Miller. There's also a good run on actual conservative criticism of Fox News -- namely Neil Cavuto, who put in the bravura kiss-ass performance of the year with his groopiefied interview last week with President Bush. Even that psycho Michael Savage pulled Cavuto's card over the journalism-light interview this weekend. Anyway, back to Kurtz:

Alter vs. Ailes

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter took a satirical swipe at Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes in the magazine, writing that if Watergate happened today, the "former Nixon media adviser" would ban the word in favor of the logo "Assault on the Presidency."

Now Alter writes on that "Mr.-Dish-It-Out apparently can't take it. . . . I heard that his stooges were out peddling a story to the press that I was guilty of a conflict-of-interest and should have disclosed in my column that I twice unsuccessfully sought employment at Fox News and now do part-time work under contract to NBC News and MSNBC." Ailes, he says, "assumes his adversaries are patsies who will be easily cowed into silence."

Ailes says Alter asked him for a commentator's job several years ago but balked at being identified as a liberal when Ailes told him "I can't pretend you're a straight journalist." He says that he was just a 28-year-old aide in Richard Nixon's 1968 campaign with "no editorial input" and that in his nine years at Fox, "I've never deleted a word, a phrase, a story." Unlike Newsweek and the Koran incident, he adds, Fox hasn't just done a major retraction.

Alter reminded Ailes in a letter that the column was satire, asking if he really believed "that MSNBC -- which apparently can take a joke better than Fox -- would pose as its question-of-the-day: 'Firebombing Brookings: Good Idea or Not?'"

And apparently, the White House's corporate Global Warming Report Doctor has resigned:

"A former oil industry lobbyist who changed government reports on global warming has resigned in a long-planned departure, the White House said Saturday," reports the AP.

"Philip Cooney, who was chief of staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, left Friday, two days after it was revealed that he had edited administration reports on climate change in 2002 and 2003.

"His departure was 'completely unrelated' to the disclosure, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said."

But of course!
posted by JReid @ 1:10 PM  
The invasion chronicles serves up new allegations on the Iraq war "pre-cooked meal" theory, including what it says are new documents detailing the British position a year before the invasion began.

One document, the Iraq options paper, certainly has that Tony Blair tone, talking up the idea of "reintegrating a law abiding Iraq" into the world community -- sans Saddam Hussein, of course, and getting the Americans to "consult widely" on the Bush invasion plan. Another supposedly details notes from British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, warning Tony Blair that his spring 2003 meeting in Crawford will have few rewards, and that the case for going to war with Iraq was weak, and moreover, would have been non-existent had it not been for 9/11.

The six documents Raw claims to have had "transcribed" are linked below. Unfortunately this stuff is impossible to confirm, although the blogosphere will likely get to cracking on them before too long.

Rawstory links:

- The Iraq options paper
- After axis of evil, British foreign secretary says Iraq case weak
- Condi committed to regime change in 2002
- The British legal background
- Admission that Iraq WMD program hadn't changed
- The 'need to wrongfoot' Saddam on inspectors

And here's the link to my earlier post, including links to this weekend's London Times article on the well documented memos and meeting minutes underlining the fact that the U.S. had committed to war long before George W. Bush told the Congress and the American people of his intentions.

Clearly, these stories are worth following up. MSM, do you dare?
posted by JReid @ 1:05 PM  
Thus spoke grumpy-wumpy...
And now, Dick Cheney's words of wisdom:

Guantanamo detainees are "bad people..."

Howard Dean's mother only possibly loves him...

And courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Stimes, here's Dean's response -- including a swipe at Fox News which he (rightly) calls a propaganda arm of the Republican Party.

The Iraq insurgency is just about over (May 31)
posted by JReid @ 12:34 PM  
Playing 'Dirrty'
Okay, so now I get the Pentagon's crack strategy for breaking potential terrorists at Guantanamo Bay: give them their MTV!

TIME's report going "inside" the interrogation tactics at the American "gulag of our times" desde Havana includes details of screwball tactics allegedly used by the guards, including blasting Christina Aguilera music (yes, that IS torture...), and forcing one detainee, the so-called "20th hijacker" Mohammed al Qahtani, to watch ... um... an Al Qaida puppet show. (Top that, Keith Olbermann, with your silly popsicle stick Jacko puppet theater...) Take it away, SkyNews:

The often hour-by-hour log spans a period of 50 days from November 2002 to January 2003.

Techniques included isolation for up to 30 days, removal of clothing, exploiting individual phobias and "mild, non-injurious physical contact". Such methods were later revoked.

The quizzing of al Qahtani often started at midnight, Time magazine reports. He was woken up by having water dripped on his head or Aguilera's music played. At one
point he was forced to watch a satirical puppet show concerning his involvement with al Qaeda.

The US national anthem was played while al Qahtani was forced to stand.

When put under a doctor's care, music was played to prevent him from sleeping.
The detainee was strip searched, forced to bark like a dog and growl at pictures of terrorists and had pictures of scantily clad women hung around his neck.

The US military offers no excuses for the methods used, saying his questioning followed a "detailed plan" and that prevention of new attacks justified the means.

Right ... that should be pretty effective -- if not for getting any information on potential terror attacks, at least for preparing our fine Muslim friend for his stint on the "Real World, Road Rules" challenge. He'll definitely be playing on the baddass team ... unless he really took that Aguilera music to heart ... ("you are beautiful ... no matter what they say...")
posted by JReid @ 12:20 PM  
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Memogate lives
The Times of London continues to own the memogate story, adding a new chapter on Sunday with the leaking of a pre-Downing Street Memo, July 2002 cabinet office briefing paper indicating that Tony Blair's government had already committed to invading Iraq -- a year before it happened -- and that British ministers "had no choice but to find a way of making it legal." Said the Times:

The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal.

This was required because, even if ministers decided Britain should not take part in an invasion, the American military would be using British bases. This would automatically make Britain complicit in any illegal US action.

“US plans assume, as a minimum, the use of British bases in Cyprus and Diego Farcia,” the briefing paper warned. This meant that issues of legality “would arise virtually whatever option ministers choose with regard to UK participation”.

The paper was circulated to those present at the meeting, among whom were Blair, Geoff Hoon, then defence secretary, Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, and Sir Richard Dearlove, then chief of MI6. The full minutes of the meeting were published last month in The Sunday Times.

The paper presented various options for getting the job done, including presenting Saddam Hussein with a U.N. ultimatum they knew -- or hoped -- he would refuse.

The Times in the same story castigates the American media, which has done all it can to ignore the Memogate scandal. (Is it any wonder the public has no confidence in the press?) For its part, the Washington Post ran a front page Walter Pincus piece on the same briefing paper (entitled "Iraq: Conditions for Military Action") on Sunday. But WaPo/MSNBC chose to focus not on the inevitability of war (and the inherent dishonesty of the Bush and Blair administrations in telling their publics that war was decided only as a last resort in the spring of 2003, but rather on the briefers' doubts about U.S. post-war planning. Forgive me while I have a "thanks for nothing" moment.

The Times story also picks up the John Conyers petition drive, which has doubled its original goal of obtaining 250,000 signatures demanding answers from the White House. And it follows up on the group, a group that has dared to ask the unthinkable question (to the Bush-fearing Washington press corps): if Bush did indeed lie to the country and the Congress regarding his administration's intention to invade Iraq, is that an impeachable offense?
Remember that Conyers has tossed around the impeachment football before, commissioning a team of lawyers to study whether any of the president's actions could be seen in that context as far back as 2003, and this year, exchanging notes on the idea with a Boston constitutional lawyer. And John Dean, former White House counsel during the Nixon administration, in June of 2003 did as thorough an analysis as there has been on the question of whether the administration misled the Congress and the American people on the issue of weapons of mass destruction in order to get approval to invade Iraq, and if so, whether that would constitute "high crimes and/or misdemeanor" (sorry, Rushbo, no sex stuff).

The real shame of this whole affair is that neither the American media nor the Republican-controlled congress (or a Democrat-controlled on either, probably), can be counted on to take these questions seriously. Having reduced impeachment to just another nasty political tactic during the Clinton administration, and twisting its meaning so grotesquely through the person of Ken Starr that it no longer seems like an option to be trusted inthe hands of politicians, the Congress and the media have given George W. Bush a veritable free pass to complete his ignominious stint as president.
posted by JReid @ 8:27 PM  
Down (and out) in the sixth...
Why did I waste my Saturday night watching the Mike Tyson fight? But for the Layla Ali undercard, and the guts shown by both Ali and her opponent (and the chance to glimpse my all-time sports hero, Muhammad Ali, even in his present condition), the night was a total disappointment. Yeah, I know I shouldn't have been surprised that Tyson, who has never shown great character, would sink onto the mat and then retire -- literally -- to his corner, midway through the sixth round, and summarily decide that he no longer loves the sport of boxing, and wants to quit (the fight and the game), right then and there.

Funny Iron Mike didn't that epiphany the day he signed that $5 million contract to fight an eight-round bout against a jolly green unknown Irish giant named Kevin McBride. Funny he didn't have that epiphany before stepping into the ring and wasting the time of not only a packed house in Washington D.C., but all the viewers who plunked down their hard-earned money to watch the onetime heavyweight champion become the heavyweight chump of all time.

The Tyson disaster says terrible things about the boxer, who tore off any shred of dignity long ago, between his brushes with the law (I was one of those who felt he got a raw deal on the rape charge -- a 2 a.m. visit to a hotel room is a booty call, no matter how you slice it...) and his nips at the bodyparts of his opponents (I saw that Holyfield fight -- the holier-than-thou boxer with fifty-'leven kids was head butting, period), to his inability to hold onto a dollar (thanks a lot, Don King). But if you ever doubted that the legendary Cus D'Amato forgot to instill character in the young man he trained into a killer boxer, you got your evidence Saturday night. Tyson, faced with the choice of fighting it through to the eighth round like a man, and losing on a decision if he had to (he might not have lost at all -- Tyson clearly was ahead on points before McBride turned it on in the sixth), or dropping out and taking the money, chose to take the money and run. (Even before taking his dive, Tyson resorted to the kinds of tactics that have lost him the respect of most of the boxing world -- head butting, arm twisting, and curiously, nipping at his own boxing gloves like a teething toddler...)

The fight was even more disappointing because it was not atypical of what professional sports has become -- a dash for cash in which there is no loyalty, team jumping and ring chasing is the norm (right, Alonzo Mourning?), retiring with the team that made you is quaint and old-fashioned (right Patrick Ewing?), as is sacrificing for the team (the way Michael Jordan did in giving up some of the money he could have made in order to make things right for Scottie Pippen), and rookies don't have to prove jack squat before they start making big people money.

"Take the money and run" isn't just Mike Tyson's motto, it's emblematic of almost all of professional sports. Throwing in the towel when the going gets tough isn't even considered shameful anymore. After all, the people who bought the tickets to watch professional sports are the suckers. Who told them to spend their paychecks watching grown men beat each other up or toss a ball around? Besides, we suckers can't get our money back.
posted by JReid @ 8:07 PM  
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Over the hill
The Hill serves up two interesting political stories for your weekend enjoyment:

John Thune, the guy who ousted Tom Daschle from his Senate seat (in a particularly nasty campaign that Democrats still resent) at the behest of the White House, may now buck the Bushies on John Bolton, as possible payback for the Pentagon's plan to close a key military base Thune ran on vowing to save.

...and my favorite Republican, Chuck Hagel, is running for president, provided he can get out from under the media-elongated shadow of John McCain...
posted by JReid @ 2:02 AM  
Paradise lost (and killer emails?)
The "Alabama teen missing in Aruba" story came full circle tonight, with one of the three young men who were last seen with Natalee Holloway apparently confessing to police that "something bad" happened to her on the night she disappeared. Surprise, surprise, the young woman is no longer with us, and the European boy she was drinking and snogging with is the main suspect -- he of course having fingered a "dark" man in the young woman's disappearance, leading to the arrest and very public perp walk of two Black security guards.

Meanwhile, true to convention, American news organizations are no longer using the name or the picture of the 17-year-old Dutch suspect, whose name, by the way, is "Joran Andreas Petrus Van Der Sloot, a student at Aruba International School, came out of his home in the upper-class neighbourhood of Oranjestad on Thursday with his head covered in a blue-green towel." -- Cheers to for not following this stupid convention.

Note that this comes after his picture had been used exhaustively since his arrest this week, and his mother has been working the networks, complete with name-revealing chyron...

This case has brought home a few key things:

1. the irresistability of the pretty, white damsel in distress story for the American news media (this story is simply not to be found on BBC News...)

2. the dangers of spring break, drinking, and random hookups with cute boys you don't know (young ladies beware);

3. the huge, cavernous difference between being a Black suspect (in which case you get frog marched out into the open and paraded before the cameras like a show dog), and a white suspect (in which case you are questioned and released straight away, then arrested quietly and sneaked into the jail through the back with a towel on your head, your identification is suddenly expunged from the media record, your picture disappears from Yahoo! and you become the only one of five suspects simply referred to as "the student."

4. the absurdity of certain American news media conventions. Does the fact that the chief suspect is one year under 18 really mean that he should be anonymized after the fact? Are we poor, silly viewers supposed to pretend we never heard or saw his name and face on the very networks now refusing to "identify" him? Give me a break!

Of course, I could be wrong -- it still could turn out to be one of the Surinamese fellas whose on the hook for this murder, but I doubt it.

Meanwhile, a blogger Named Dan Riehl of Riehlworldview posts pics of Van der Sloot, explications of the Dutch teens alleged "pimp" lifestyle and supposed contents of emails from the suspect to the blogger, in which he reportedly expressed "hope to God" that Holloway would be found unharmed.

Believable? Dunno. Interesting, though...

...Finally, leave it to a U.S. Senator to glom onto a tragic story like this for self-aggrandizement. On the linked web-site for NBC Birmingham affiliate WVTM, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions takes credit for getting the FBI involved in the Natalee Holloway case. And of course, he does so by "admitting" to his involvement -- in that, "aw shucks" kind of feint that makes it tough to decide who to despise more, the self-stroking politician or the compliant reporter...
The Mobile Republican said he was contacted by the girl's mother who was concerned that island officials weren't giving the case enough attention. Sessions said he began talking to the Birmingham FBI office and then approached Aruban authorities who did not want any U.S. assistance. He said he worked his way up the chain of officials to the prime minister, who eventually agreed to accept U.S. help and promised to treat the Holloway disappearance "like it was his own daughter.
...Because what would a case like this be without a little bit of publicity for a politician.

By the way, CNN International is out of step with the AP as of 1:30 this morning, still reporting the suspect confessed to killing the teen rather than the vague "something bad" being reported on the wires (and using all the suspects' names).

A few tidbits from the CNN story:

Later that night, Holloway went to a popular nightclub, Carlos 'N Charlie's, with about 40 of her classmates. She left around 1:30 a.m. on May 30 with the Kalpoes and Van Der Sloot, authorities said.

Holly Brown, a Holloway friend who was at the club that night, said she found Van Der Sloot to be "very different."

"He lied about his age, and when we went on the [Carlos 'N Charlie's] Web site, we found pictures of him there one week before at the same place, wearing the same clothes," Brown told CNN.

Police said the Kalpoes and Van Der Sloot told authorities they went with Holloway to a beach after leaving the bar before taking her back to her hotel at about 2 a.m.
The men claimed they visited a lighthouse on the northwestern tip of the island, which is only 19 miles long and 6 miles wide.

According to police statements, the Kalpoe brothers described her as stumbling on the way into the hotel, possibly as a result of alcohol, and that a "dark-colored" man in a black T-shirt with a radio helped her.

That testimony led to Sunday's arrest of Abraham Jones, 28, and Mickey John, 30, two security guards at a hotel near where Holloway was staying. But a Holiday Inn employee who has reviewed surveillance tapes from that morning said the tapes do not show any sign of Holloway. Authorities had no explanation and were looking at whether the five men have any connections to each other.

My money's on a search of the lighthouse... And of course, this will be a hell of a blow to the family, which has held onto hope long after it seemed feasible. So sorry for them...
posted by JReid @ 12:48 AM  
Friday, June 10, 2005
From the desk of Frank Lautenberg, in response to a GOP-led subcommittee's proposal to slash funding for public broadcasting:

posted by JReid @ 5:10 PM  
Mining the WaPo
The Wash Post is an embarrassment of riches today:

E.J. Dionne takes on the "blame Kerry first" crowd among the Democrats. I have to admit I have been in this camp -- I think Kerry was a terrible candidate (with the notable exceptio of the debates, in which he kicked Bush's ass). But Dionne makes the valid point that the Democrats' problems are much deeper than Kerrry (I have a better idea: let's just not talk about him anymore!) -- and even deeper than Dean. They are fundamental, having to do with a lack of coherent positioning on social, national security, foreign policy and other issues...

And Charles Krauthammer does a double back flip, zhushing Clarence Thomas -- yes, that Clarence Thomas -- into both an intellectual -- and an originalist Constitutional scholar who somebody thinks should be the next Chief Justice. I think if John Stewart ever takes a powder, there's a job for a certain guy named Krauthammer on the Daily Show...!

And speaking of Clarence Thomas, there's this catchy headline:
"Utah takes the porn challenge."
posted by JReid @ 1:44 PM  
White damsels in distress
WaPo's Eugene Robinson gives the media a talking to about their singular obsession with white women in trouble. Someone asked me the other day whether I think the media would have gone so bananas over a Black girl who disappeared in Aruba. Sadly, I'd have to say, having worked in a newsroom, they would not -- unless she had disappeared with Bill Clinton.

Case in point: there are nearly two dozen open cases of missing Americans, including young women, along the U.S.-Mexico border, including two Hispanic women from Laredo, Texas who disappeared across the border in September of last year. These cases get sporadic media attention -- even natioonal media coverage at times -- but not the sustained, soap opera-like coverage given to middle class blonde women or girls who go missing at home or abroad.

From May 26:

San Antonio Express-News ^ Jesse Bogan

government officials have had a "very frank exchange of views" with investigating authorities in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, about the lack of progress in 21 open cases of missing or killed Americans in the border city, U.S. Consul Michael Yoder said.

"If we could just have some success or progress on even one of those cases, it might encourage people to become more involved with Mexican authorities," Yoder said recently. He said the Nuevo Laredo office for the state of Tamaulipas' attorney general's office doesn't have the same number of cases the consulate has recorded because some of the victims' families haven't filed complaints with police.

"That is because family members and even the victims of kidnappings who have returned after paying ransom don't really want to involve the Mexican authorities in the investigation," Yoder said.

Though the past two weeks have been relatively quiet in Nuevo Laredo, in the past year, the city of some 400,000 people has seen more than its share of violence that
has mostly been blamed on rival drug gangs fighting for shipping routes into South Texas. There are 16 cases of missing Americans and five slayings that the police do have information on, Yoder said.

Roberto Maldonado Siller, supervisor of the attorney general's office in Nuevo Laredo, said investigators continue to pursue leads in open cases.

"We are never satisfied until the missing person appears," he said.

He said investigators can't solve crimes if a report isn't filed, adding that there are several cases the U.S. Consulate wouldn't share because of privacy concerns.

"While they may complain that they don't have information from another couple of dozen cases or so, the fact is that they do have (21 cases) open and so far we haven't seen any progress in even one of those cases," Yoder said.

Maldonado recently met with the family of Yvette Martinez, 27, who disappeared in September in Nuevo Laredo with her friend Brenda Cisneros, 23. Both women are from Laredo. The case has been the focus of national media reports, including stories by the New York Times and America's Most Wanted. (MSNBC did a story on Martinez this week)

The meeting between U.S. and Mexican officials was held in part to discuss family concerns about progress in the case. A report of the meeting said Martinez's family thanked authorities for the progress they have made.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Martinez's mother, Maria Slemaker, said she thanked the Mexican authorities for their efforts, but told them: "I have a sensation in my heart that you haven't even looked on the street corner." She added: "I want them to talk to me and tell me how the investigation is going." A recent case involves four young men from Laredo who, witnesses told police, were last seen partying in Texas on May 7 at 2 p.m. A photograph taken at an international bridge of the license plate of the car they supposedly used shows the vehicle crossed the border around 4 a.m.

The missing include a former U.S. Navy recruiter, who was about to start a job at Target, a city of Laredo sanitation worker, a restaurant employee, and a fourth person who is unemployed. Police initially said the group was headed to the red light

"On the surface at least, it appears to be just what it was, with nothing more behind it," Yoder said. "It's a very problematic case and I think the Mexican authorities are aware of that, that this case, it's important for them to try and solve as fast as they possibly can."

Maldonado said it's still uncertain if the four Laredoans were in the car that crossed into Nuevo Laredo.

"We are still investigating that," he said.

The trouble with these cases is that they are complicated, involve international reporting and sensitive subjects like U.S.-Mexican relations, crime and drug smuggling, and kidnapping for profit. Not exactly the Runaway Bride saga. And they often fail to include the key element in selling any story to the cable news-world: a pretty, blonde victim...

I won't even mention the many cases of Black girls and women who go missing each year, but who never make "Larry King Live."

It's not pretty, but it's true.

posted by JReid @ 1:03 PM  
This is just sick
An email claiming Michael Jackson tried to kill himself is really a computer virus, tech experts say. So beware.
posted by JReid @ 12:54 PM  
Back to the future
Paul Krugman writes a coherent lament of America's return to the robber baron era.
posted by JReid @ 12:49 PM  
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Liberalism = slavery?
This New York Times piece on Janice Rogers Brown is, I think, intended to portray her as an extremist. I don't think it makes the point. Brown appears to be a pretty typical Black conservative -- anti-welfare, evangelical in belief and based on her own "up from nothing" experience, impatient with the idea that moving up the economic or social ladder can't be done. At worst, she'll be a horror for consumers vs. corporations, and probably not too friendly to boutique notions like gay marriage. But other than that, sounds like a garden variety "Condi Rice" conservative to me.

Her friends and supporters say her views of slavery underpin her judicial philosophy. It was her study of that history, they say, combined with her evangelical Christian faith and her self-propelled rise from poverty that led her to abandon the liberal views she learned from her family.

"We discuss things like, 'How did slavery happen?' " said her friend and mentor Steve Merksamer, a lawyer in Sacramento, Calif. "It comes down to the fact that she
believes, as I do, that some things are, in fact, right and some things are, in fact, wrong. Segregation - even though the courts had sustained it for a hundred years - was morally indefensible and legally indefensible and yet it was the law of the land," he said. "She brings that philosophy to her legal work."

On the California Supreme Court, her opinions have reflected the philosophy and
language of her speeches. In an opinion involving fees charged to San Francisco hotel owners, for example, she proclaimed that "private property, already an endangered species in California, is now entirely extinct in San Francisco." In an affirmative action case, she criticized "entitlement programs based on group representation." And in dissenting in a case involving Nike's labor practices, she compared the United States Supreme Court to "a wizard trained at Hogwarts" conjuring up distinctions about commercial speech that she said restricted businesses' freedoms.

What I think really alarms people about Brown is that her thinking is seen as unorthodox for a Black person. Guess what: it's not. Visit a few Black churches and you'll see. Yes, in the short run, Brown will be Clarence Thomasized -- portrayed as an Auntie Tom, especially by the leading communicators to Black America (the Tavis Smileys of the world). But secretly, a lot of Blacks will agree with her (except for on the pro-corporate/anti-little guy stuff. There, she's on her own.) And from what I've read of her, Brown is no Clarence -- she appears to think for herself, unlike the Scalia hand-puppet on the Supreme Court. Intellectually, she is miles ahead of Ole' Clarence. And her stances, so far, don't appear to be basically self-loathing. Bottom line, she won't likely become the lightning rod that Thomas is, and again, on social issues, she will be in step with much of the Black community -- particularly the Black religious community.

This is a fundamental that the Democratic Party simply has to get, sooner or later, or they're going to begin to lose this leg of the base. You can uphold the identity politics only for so long, but as the Civil Rights Movement fades farther and farther into memory, younger Blacks are taking an ever greater cue from their faith, and the conservative moral traditions of African-American and more acutely, the Afro-Caribbean tradition, in building their political values.

If the Democrats don't figure out a way to communicate to Black voters on something other than affirmative action, welfare and "protecting you people from the Man," the GOP will become the party of "Black Christians," too.
posted by JReid @ 1:35 PM  
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
$674 million sounds like a lot of money ...
...but it isn't. The NYT ed board makes short work of the Bush Africa aid pledge (a/k/a the "miserly drop in a bucket.")

President Bush kept a remarkably straight face yesterday when he strode to the microphones with Britain's prime minister, Tony Blair, and told the world that the United States would now get around to spending $674 million in emergency aid that Congress had already approved for needy countries.

That's it. Not a penny more to buy treated mosquito nets to help save the thousands of children in Sierra Leone who die every year of preventable malaria. Nothing more
to train and pay teachers so 11-year-old girls in Kenya may go to school. And not a cent more to help Ghana develop the programs it needs to get legions of young boys off the streets.

Mr. Blair, who will be the host when the G-8, the club of eight leading economic powers, holds its annual meeting next month, is trying to line up pledges to double overall aid for Africa over the next 10 years. That extra $25 billion a year would do all those things, and much more, to raise the continent from dire poverty. Before getting to Washington, Mr. Blair had done very well, securing pledges of large increases from European Union members.

According to a poll, most Americans believe that the United States spends 24 percent of its budget on aid to poor countries; it actually spends well under a quarter of 1 percent. As Jeffrey Sachs, the Columbia University economist in charge of the United Nations' Millennium Project, put it so well, the notion that there is a flood of American aid going to Africa "is one of our great national myths."

The United States currently gives just 0.16 percent of its national income to help poor countries, despite signing a United Nations declaration three years ago in which rich countries agreed to increase their aid to 0.7 percent by 2015. Since then, Britain, France and Germany have all announced plans for how to get to 0.7 percent; America has not. The piddling amount Mr. Bush announced yesterday is not even 0.007 percent.

What is 0.7 percent of the American economy? About $80 billion. That is about the amount the Senate just approved for additional military spending, mostly in Iraq. It's not remotely close to the $140 billion corporate tax cut last year.

When you look at those numbers, it's truly staggering. $140 billion in tax cuts, more than $200 billion for Iraq, and $674 million for a continent of more than 620 million people (including 11 percent of the world's population living below the Sahara?) That's around a dollar a head! Meanwhile the Boston Globe reads Tony Blair's sullen countenance...

''Clearly, Blair was rebuffed on foreign aid and climate change," said Nile Gardiner, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation. ''Blair's advisers were fully aware that Bush would say no, but Blair can return to Britain saying he gave it his best shot."

Advocates for Africa and the environment had been optimistic that Bush would show some appreciation to Blair, given his dogged support for the US-led war in Iraq, which was widely unpopular in Europe.

''It seems to me that at some point the president has to acknowledge all that Tony Blair has done as a friend to the United States," an aide to Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine said before the meeting. Snowe has worked with Stephen Byers, a former British Cabinet minister and a confidant of Blair's, to try to develop a
plan to tackle global warming that Bush would support.

Tony Blair had been seeking stronger support for his "Marshall plan" for Africa, which calls on rich nations to relief much of the continent's debt, and to double aid to Africa to $50 billion. The plan has the support of the soon-to-be Wolfowitzed World Bank, the IMF and most of Europe. Bush, however, probably won't even watch the Philly Live 8 concert on TV.

Meanwhile, the Center for American Progress points out that the U.S. media once again stenographed the story on behalf of the Bushies:

The Washington Post took the bait: its headline today reads "Bush, Blair Agree on Aid For African Famine Relief."

posted by JReid @ 5:45 PM  
How the Aruba Blogs are covering the Holloway story
Amigoe (English -- the original site is in Dutch lang.):

"Large scale search rended no result"

ARUBA – Over 700 volunteers have searched a part of Aruba last Monday afternoon. They have been looking for indications concerning the disappearance of the American student Natalee Holloway. They have not found any trace of the girl.

They have thoroughly searched the northern- and eastern coast of the island, Seroe Colorado, and the National Park Arikok. In the vicinity of the entrance gate to Seroe Colorado they found a pair of shades, cloths, sun block spray, and foam plastic. The police took all these items with them. It is not yet known whether these objects have anything to do with Holloway.

Hundreds of civilians (including civil servants), military, military police, members of the Visibility Team, the Warda nos Costa, and the park rangers of Arikok gathered together at the sport complex of Santa Cruz. The Justice-minister Rudy Croes has said that every civil servant that wanted to participate in the search would be let off from work for this. He himself was also present and spoke to the media about the motive of this massive search.

“The community shows that they would do everything possible to find Holloway”, said Croes. Chief of police Trudy Hassel thought that 600 to 700 volunteers had come to Santa Cruz. Eight busses of De Palm Tours and a few busses of other tour operations were ready to transport all the volunteers to San Nicolas. There were also quadracers, police cars, and military vehicles available. Also the helicopter was put in. Each volunteer was asked to report to one of the policemen present. Each officer had a group of his/her own and pointed out a bus to the members of his/her group. The massive search concentrated on the undeveloped areas of Aruba. The organization had divided the areas in pieces of about two square kilometers. The policemen in the busses were in contact with the military, who know the area well and coordinated the exact location where the busses are to stop.

The actual search started around 15:30. The busses stopped at the location they were going to search and the volunteers continued by foot. They went through neighborhoods, woods and open areas. The military accompanied the volunteers with compasses and so helped them stay in their designated area. Some
volunteers asked the inhabitants questions. Some cooperated pretty good and answered the questions. Other clearly showed their disapproval of the action. There were police cars, ambulances fire engines and military vehicle on the connection road between San Nicolas and Seroe Colorado watching over the volunteers and handing them water bottles.

posted by JReid @ 3:40 PM  
Hillary unplugged, Dean un...supervised...?

Just getting to the NY Times recap of the Hillary Clinton fundraiser speech the other day. Hillary took the White House, and the media, to the woodshed for "messianic" bullying by the former and spinelessness by the latter (interesting coincidence that the next day, some enterprising reporter finally got up the nerve to ask George W. Bush about the Downing Street Memo -- but only because Dubya was sitting next to Tony Blair...)


Mrs. Clinton, who is running for a second term in 2006 and is widely described as a possible Democratic nominee for the presidency in 2008, said that her party is hamstrung because Republicans dissemble and smear without shame and the news media has lost its investigatory zeal for exposing misdeeds.

Left unchallenged, especially if Democrats fail to pick up seats in next year's Congressional elections, she said, Republican leaders could ram through extremist conservative judges, wreck Social Security and make unacceptable concessions to China, Saudi Arabia and other nations that are needed to finance the United States budget deficit.

"There has never been an administration, I don't believe in our history, more intent upon consolidating and abusing power to further their own agenda," Mrs. Clinton told the audience at a "Women for Hillary" gathering in Midtown Manhattan this morning.

"I know it's frustrating for many of you; it's frustrating for me: Why can't the Democrats do more to stop them?" she continued to growing applause and cheers. "I can tell yu this: It's very hard to stop people who have no shame about what they're
doing. It is very hard to tell people that they are making decisions that will undermine our checks and balances and constitutional system of government who don't care. It is very hard to stop people who have never been acquainted with the truth."

Mrs. Clinton described Republican leaders as messianic in their beliefs, willing to manipulate facts and even "destroy" the Senate to gain political advantage over the Democratic minority. She also labeled the House of Representatives as "a dictatorship of the Republican leadership," where individual members are all but required to vote in lock-step with the majority's agenda.

Referring to Congress' Republican leadership, she said, "Some honestly believe they are motivated by the truth, they are motivated by a higher calling, they are motivated by, I guess, a direct line to the heavens."

Then, leavening the moment a bit, she referred to reports from the Clinton White House that she would try to channel with a favorite First Lady of the past. "Now, I talk to Eleanor Roosevelt all the time, and she has never said there is any reason to only have one point of view," she said. "But apparently they have a different direct line."

And this bit for the press corps:

Abetting the Republicans, she said in some of her sharpest language, is a Washington press corps that has become a pale imitation of the Watergate-era reporters who are being celebrated this month amid the identification of the anonymous Washington Post source, Deep Throat.

"The press is missing in action, with all due respect," she said. "Where are the investigative reporters today? Why aren't they asking the hard questions? It's shocking when you see how easily they fold in the media today. They don't stand their ground. If they're criticized by the White House, they just fall apart.

"I mean, c'mon, toughen up, guys, it's only our Constitution and country at stake," she said. "Let's get some spine."

Suggesting some lines of reporting, she asserted that the Bush administration could not account for $9 billion in Coalition Authority spending in Iraq, and that the Food and Drug Administration had allowed religious and political bias to interfere with science-driven decision-making on reproductive drugs.

Mrs. Clinton said she wanted to "move back toward a progressive agenda that will lift up people." The other side, she argued, was pressing retrograde steps like the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown, a California Supreme Court Justice, for a federal appeals court seat. Many Democrats plan to vote against Judge Brown if her nomination comes to the Senate floor as expected this week, taking issue with an array of her court decisions and past remarks, like her once describing President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal as "the triumph of our own socialist revolution."

"If you read about her, try not to get upset - I had to read about her and it kept me upset for months," Mrs. Clinton said of Judge Brown. "This is a woman who truly sees the world in 19th century terms. You know, during the Clinton administration, we used to talk about building a bridge to the 21st century. This administration wants to build a bridge to the 19th century.

"They want to undo and turn the clock back on the progress of the 20th century, whether it's the right to organize, whether it's the right to be able to have a choice when it comes to the most private and intimate decisions that a woman has to make, whether it is to protect the environment."

Interesting to note that some of what Mrs. Clinton has to say is every bit as incendiary as Howard Dean's rhetoric, only Hillary can get away with it. I think the media narrative on Hillary, particularly the salivating among the press corps at her potential presidential run, gives her a much wider berth when it comes to speechifying. Meanwhile the media narrative on Dean is that he's nuts, and so anything he says is going to be filtered through that lens...

Then there's the fact that she's taking on elected Republicans, rather than appearing to dis the rank and file (not that Republican talking heads aren't apt to label all Democrats "socialsts" from time to time...) And most important, the economy, the media, Iraq, the appropriate role of religion in government, China... things Americans are talking about around the kitchen table -- not on which side has more hard-working adherents.

Two ways to throw red meat to the base, one much more effective.

And speaking of HoDo, he sought to fix the flap from his earlier remarks by taking it up a notch, dubbing the GOP the party of lookalike white Christians (doesn't that describe pretty much every political party in America, except maybe the Black Panthers?) Last time I checked, most Democrats, including Dr. Dean, were WASPs too...

In fairness, here's more of what Dean actually said in San Francisco:

"You know, the Republicans are not very friendly to different kinds of people. They're a pretty monolithic party. Pretty much, they all behave the same, and
they all look the same. ... It's pretty much a white Christian party, '' the former Vermont governor told a San Francisco roundtable Monday in reaction to a question about the lack of outreach to minority communities by political parties.

"Our folks have got to spend time in the communities,'' he said. "We want a very diverse group of people running for office -- African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos.''

I understand what the governor was trying to say. And to be sure, the Dems can't win unless they find a way to reenergize Black and other minority voters who are with them, but not very excited about it, as well as guarding against a potential leakage of these voters away from the party because of social issues. (Let's face it, Black voters by and large oppose gay marriage, are willing to hear the story on school vouchers, and wouldn't mind seeing lower taxes and more incentives to go into business for themselves -- and own stock). Tagging the other side as the Party of Whitey may sound like just the way to get these voters back, but it so misses the point.

First of all, the Democratic Party isn't spending all that much time in the communities. I'd be hard-pressed to name a Black, politically active Democrat who'd tell you the Party is better than the Republicans when it comes to being visible in the neighborhood. That's something Dean says he wants to change -- not something the Democrats already do well (they used to).

Second, Democrats may have more Blacks and Latinos running for office, but that's only because most Blacks are Democrats. As more middle and upper-middle class Blacks shake off the identity politics of the last 40 years, and decide to vote their actual beliefs, the Democrats will be in a heap of trouble. (Running Hillary Clinton is probably the last shot the Party has at getting strong Black turnout in 2008, short of running Barack Obama). That's because the Democratic Party has lost its "Clinton edge" (when it was the party of youthful energy, 21st century possibilities, fiscal sanity and Internet-fueled economic opportunity), and becoming identified with boutique, liberal social issues and this vague, supposedly bad thing called "obstructionism" (otherwise known as "we won the election, why won't they let us do whatever we want!" Freeper whine).

Howard Dean is trying to fire up the base, but he sometimes seems to forget that the part of the base that likes his sharp rhetoric -- the white, secular Christian, liberal, college educated part -- isn't the bit that needs shoring up. It's the "Joe average" guy -- strong Democrat or not -- Black or white, who's looking for an alternative to the increasingly messianic, overbearing, big-government, ignore-the-borders, close the plants and military bases and what the hell are we still doing in Iraq Republican Party, who would listen if there were only some Democratswho could convince them that the Party is a strong, sound, rational, non-radical alternative.

...and it's the big donors, many of whom are scratching their heads, wondering exactly what it is they got for their half a billion dollars last year.

As one big-time Silicon Valley fundraiser put it:

"For small donors, hearing 'George Bush is bad' is enough,'' Randlett said. "What I'm hearing very clearly from big donors is: Tell me how we'll win.

"We need a Democratic National Committee that is convincing white Republican Christians that they should be voting for us -- not vilifying them,'' said Randlett, who supported Dean for the chairmanship. "He's got himself in trouble with social commentary -- and that's not what the DNC chair does.''

...actually, it's what the party's leadership does, and right now, the leader talking the best game is Hillary Clinton.

posted by JReid @ 2:28 PM  
Will the jury please disregard... long as he wasn't high when he testified Jackson never felt him up...

"Culkin pleads guilty to drug charges"

posted by JReid @ 2:17 PM  
With regrets
A lot of liberals are having second thoughts about the "no nukes" filibuster deal, which paved the way first for Priscilla Owen and now for Janice Rogers Brown to come up for a vote.
posted by JReid @ 10:08 AM  
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Is this supposed to make me feel better?
Okay ... so John Kerry is just as dumb as George W. Bush... Is getting C's at Yale some kind of Skull and Bones tradition, or what?

I guess the question becomes, which privileged, bored, average-intellect
dilettante would you rather have running the country -- and more to the point, would there really be much of a difference...? I mean obviously John Kerry fakes it better, and he's clearly got a greater command of the English language than the POTUS. But if at the end of the day, his candle wattage is as dim as Dubya's, would his decision-making be any better...

Kerry votes -- a flashback:

Iraq invasion despite no connection to 9/11 - Yea
Big, fat tax cuts for his wife - Yea
Government's fat posterior in the classroom via NCLB - Yea
Money for previously approved Iraq war - Doh!

... Hey, you know what? I DO feel better!

(Okay, okay, I really don't think John Kerry is just as dumb as President Bush. There are different kids of stupid, after all. There's the kind that comes from boredom and inattention, say, to the rudiments of your mother toungue, mainly because you know your dad's going to hook you up even if the whole world thinks you're a dullard ... and there is the kind that comes from intellectual boredom, where you feel you already know it all, so you don't bother with studying, which of course is for little people. And there are tons of reasons why a student might do poorly their first years in college -- none of us is perfect. So they're not equally dumb. But that doesn't mean either one of them belongs in the White House.)
posted by JReid @ 3:14 PM  
On Britain and Hamas
Tony Blair's government is coming under increasing fire over low-level contacts with Hamas.
posted by JReid @ 3:08 PM  
Angry Sullivan watch
From today's Boston Globe: Pope says gay unions are false

Angry Sullivan rant in three ... two ... one ...
posted by JReid @ 3:02 PM  
Do the right thing
A bipartisan group, including Floyd Abrams (Dan's dad), Bob Barr (yes, that Bob Barr) and Thomas Pickering, a former ambassador to the U.N., are urging the Bush administration and Congress to "establish an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the issue of abuse of terrorist suspects." If I were this group, I wouldn't hold my breath, but good effort nonetheless. Read more here.
posted by JReid @ 2:04 AM  
Monday, June 06, 2005
Live 8: Black and white and (seeing) red all over...
Here's an interesting one off the emails:

"Live 8 tight-lipped over all-white lineup."

A site called Black Britain is firing up the presses over Live 8 -- Sir Bob Geldoff's Live Aid remix, which features 22 acts raising money to aid Africa. But here's the catch: many of the artists performing in the Hyde Park, London arm of the mega-concert are, how shall we say, mature, several are very popular, but none are Black.

Said the folks at Black Brit:
Ageing rock stars such as Paul McCArtney, Elton John and Madonna will be headlining the London event, which is aimed at putting pressure on G8 leaders to cancel Africa's debts ahead of their summit in Gleneagles, Scotland on July 6th.This has brought further criticism to Bob Geldof’s event that it is being approached from an ‘imperialistic’ mindset, and is failing to include the very people it is being billed as trying to help.Despite Black Britain making several phone calls to LD Communications, which is handling publicity for Live 8, they refused to give an answer to this question.
However, the article does point out that Black artists are going to be a part of the show, including, in the words of another UK site called Megastar, "bonker-boobed diva Mariah Carey, “who has Venezuelan, Irish and African-American ethnicity. Said Black Britain on Sunday:
Elsewhere, black artists performing in other Live 8 concerts around the world include Will Smith and Stevie Wonder in Philadelphia, Lauryn Hill in Berlin and Youssou N’Dour in Paris.
Okay, leaving aside the obvious question of what in God's name Will Smith is doing in the lineup (earth to actor: the "Willennium" is over, mainly in the sense that musically, it never really began ... except for "Summertime" -- that was hot), this seems a little bit nit-picky to me. Yes, it does always seem to be the pale Brits who ride to Africa's rescue every 20 years or so (it must be a Bono thing). And yes, the Euros whip out Youssou N'Dour every time they need a Black African to pal around with (I guess those guys who performed with Paul Simon back in the 80s have retired...). And I understand many people of African descent chaffe under the notion of Africa waiting on the helping hand of "middle aged white millionaires"... but I for one give Geldoff and crew credit for doing something on Africa. It's more than I can say for many other colonialist descendants on both sides of the pond.

Powerline points out today that Geldoff isn't just a guilty, white bleeding heart on Africa, he's a pragmatic guilty white bleeding heart, tying his project to the real need for democratic and economic reform across the continent, but also taking time to note the positive things happening in the sub-Saharan. I'm a little miffed at missing the conference call, but I guess it's my fault for not nosing up to Trippi (I had it on my list).

As a person whose father is native to, and still lives in, the Congo, I have to say on balance, Live 8 is a welcome thing. I'm not ready to quibble over the white people just yet, and I think it's probably a mistake to spend too much time setting up a permanent gripe and nitpick on every, single perceived racial slight... I'm more concerned that the concert will be a bore -- I mean come on, bringing back the Spice Girls??? Why even contemplate that?

Most important, Live 8 is providing the most media attention Africa has received since Bill Clinton's big visit in 1998 (just before Linda Tripp's broomstick bumped him on the head). Let's face it -- even active genocide in Darfur hasn't gotten the U.S. media (with the notable exception of NYT's Nicholas Kristoff) interested in Africa. Nor has rampant death from AIDS, and a mysterious Ebola-like virus that has killed hundreds of people in a fell swoop. If it takes Bob Geldoff and his aging, white rock stars (plus Will Smith and Mariah's tacky knockers) to get the American media to focus, even for a day or two, on the parts of the African continent not directly tied to marketing the neocon "war on terror / democracy on the march" storyline, I'll take it.
posted by JReid @ 11:44 PM  
The three-bullet rule
Not many people get this fundamental of marketing communications (it also works well in debates): When you want to make a solid point, boil it down to three succinct points, then drive those points home. Hillary Clinton gets it (or at least, her e-mail people do). Here's a bite from a recent "Friends of Hillary re-elect email:

While we are fighting back in Washington, Republicans are raising tens of millions of dollars to defeat me in 2006. "Whatever it takes," says the New York state Republican chairman. "STOP HER NOW" urges a new "independent" 527 committee.

They're going to find out that I am not easy to stop. I'm going to keep on working hard for the people of New York. I'm going to keep on working in the Senate for smart, effective policies that will make our country stronger and our children's future brighter.
...and the payoff:

And I'm going to continue speaking out about George W. Bush's policies because I think they are wrong for America:
  • It is wrong to keep piling up debt with irresponsible fiscal policy, endangering our national security and our ability to invest in education and economic growth;
  • It is wrong to disregard scientific evidence on issues ranging from the reality of global warming to the value of stem cell research; and
  • It is wrong to demand absolute power and try to stop dissenting voices - because our nation was built on the principle of checks and balances, and respect for the rights of minorities and majorities is a hallmark of American democracy!
The bullets: debt, scientific progress and dissent. Hm... a person could start to build a presidential campaign on that...
Meanwhile, the Freeperati are launching a few bullets of their own.
The Stop Her Now folks are demanding that Hillary denounce the latest shenanigans by Howard Dean. HoDo's latest remarks prompted two likely '08 presidential primary contenders, Joe Biden and John Edwards, to take a giant step back from the DNC chairman this weekend (Powerline does his best professorial schtick on "Democratic avoidance theory" and Salon serves up a heaping helping of Democratic angst today...)

Here's the NewsMax writeup:

On June 2, 2005, in remarks before a gathering of Campaign for America’s Future, DNC Chair Howard Dean said that Republicans "have never made an honest living in their lives."

Stop Her Now Executive Director William Black asserted Friday, "This intentional and deplorable insult to livelihoods of the tens of millions of Americans that identify themselves as Republican has truly lowered the discourse of politics to a previously unthinkable depth, even by Howard Dean's standards."

Stop Her Now, Black said, has called upon Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to forcefully and publicly denounce these remarks. "Not only should Hillary Clinton denounce these remarks on behalf of her Republican constituents, but also because they impugn her personal integrity," Black said.

Black notes that Hillary Clinton’s father Hugh Rodham, was a lifelong Republican.

The StopHerNow's then go on to get all teary-eyed over Hillary's Republican

Born to English immigrant parents in Pennsylvania, Mr. Rodham sought a better life than toiling in the Scranton coal mines, and attended Penn State University. He then began what was to prove to be a very successful career in the textile industry. Raising his children in the affluent Chicago suburb of Park Ridge, IL, Mr. Rodham was a staunch supporter of Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign and remained a committed Republican until his death in 1993.

Even after his daughter married Democrat Bill Clinton, he (according to Bill Clinton) "never gave up hope that his son-in-law would join him in the Republican Party and support a cut in the capital gains tax."

Black asks, "Does Hillary Clinton believe that her father came to his success dishonestly?" (as if you wingers don't...)

"If Hillary Rodham Clinton allows these comments to pass, she will indeed have joined Howard Dean in besmirching the memory of her late father and his life’s work," Black concluded, adding, "Work that clothed and fed Hillary, and paid for her Wellesley education."

It's almost like an eighteenth episode of Star Wars... Does Hillary's dad become Darth Vader, too?
And just so you know, the Maxers are already peddling "free" copies (with a subscription), of the swift-Rodham book that Drudge promises will "Sink her campaign!!!"
posted by JReid @ 9:49 PM  
Abrams report...
Marcia Clark was on, commenting on the Michael Jackson case, and sporting a new, blonde 'do. Would it be cruel to use the words "shetland pony" in describing her new look?
posted by JReid @ 9:36 PM  
Reefer madness
Doesn't it just figure it would take a bong to separate Clarence Thomas from his voter-twin Antonin Scalia? The Supreme sock puppet parted ways from his mentor on a 6-3 decision asserting the fed's right to override state laws allowing medicinal marijuana use. Also dissenting were Sandra Day O'Connor and Chief Justice Rehnquist, who -- let's face it -- might just be foreseeing the day he might need a toke or two to get through the rough patches.

Can't you just see the Alberto Gonzalez G-men marching cancer patients out of their California bungalows still attached to their IV's? More proof that big government is a fundamental threat to individual liberty, not to mention a hell of a buzz kill...


Salon has a nice piece (with a curiously familiar title...) on the medical marijuana ruling today, which offers a ray of hope to those who believe that federal overregulation of recreational drugs like pot is overbearing and stupid.

Here's a healthy chunk:

The battle over the war on drugs heated up several degrees on Monday when the
Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, ruled that state laws allowing the medicinal use of marijuana don't protect patients from federal prosecution for use of a controlled substance, despite a doctor's orders. The case, Raich vs. Gonzales, was originally filed by two California women who smoke pot for medical reasons.

Medical marijuana advocates were quick to point out that although the ruling was a disappointment, it came with a surprising acknowledgment by the justices that medical marijuana users had made "strong arguments that they will suffer irreparable harm because, despite a congressional finding to the contrary, marijuana does have valid therapeutic purposes."

"While we're disappointed, the validity of state medical marijuana laws was never at issue in this case," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, in a press statement. "The [state] medical marijuana laws ... will continue to protect patients from arrest by state and local authorities. Because [Drug Enforcement Agency] and other federal agents make only 1 percentof our nation's 750,000 marijuana arrests every year, patients in states with medical marijuana laws retain a high level of protection. Congress should act today to give those patients complete protection from arrest."

"In his opinion, Justice Stevens stressed the need for medical marijuana patients to use the democratic process, putting the ball in Congress' court," Kampia noted. "This is especially important now because next week, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on an amendment that would prevent the federal government from spending funds to interfere with state medical marijuana laws."

The good news is that Kampia and other leaders of the drug-war reform movement represent an increasingly informed and politically savvy group -- including several members of Congress -- who have spent the past several years trying to do something about America's draconian drug laws. As a result of the Supreme Court's decision on Monday, they are stepping up efforts to draw attention to the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, which will be considered this month as a part of an appropriations bill and, if passed, would prohibit the federal government from arresting, raiding or prosecuting patients who are abiding by state medical marijuana laws.

These reformers have also set their sights on another obviously needed legislative reform: repeal of the provision of the Higher Education Act that prohibits or delays the availability of financial aid to applicants with any drug-related misdemeanor or felony charge. The bill to repeal the provision (H.R. 1184), introduced by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., this session, already has 66 cosponsors in the House. To date, the Drug Reform Coordinator Network estimates, at least 165,000 would-be students have been denied financial aid since the amendment took effect in 2000. If passed, the bill would represent the first full repeal of a federal drug law since 1970.

To Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., denying students financial aid because they were busted for drug use or sales at some point in their lives looks more like a mental illness on a large scale than anything akin to an efficacious response to substance abuse. "The idea that we're going to prohibit people from using drugs is just a falsehood; it's just time that we stop what we're doing and try something else," McDermott, a nine-term veteran of Congress, told me at a Perry Fund event in Seattle last week.

As for the possibility of legalizing, regulating and even taxing certain illegal drugs, even the most forward-thinking of drug-war reformers have tended to stay away from discussing the idea in public, lest it seem too "radical." But on June 2, the legalization movement gained an unlikely set of supporters -- specifically relating to
marijuana, the most popular Schedule I drug. More than 500 leading economists,
led by Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman, called for the Bush administration to
engage in "an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition." Their move was in response to the release of a report on the budgetary implications of marijuana prohibition by Jeffrey Miron, a visiting professor at Harvard University. According to Miron's research, the legal regulation of cannabis would conservatively save $7.7 billion in law enforcement and criminal justice costs, while revenues for the government could range from $2.4 to $6.2 billion, depending on the type of
taxation system.

Another radical leap forward in drug-policy reform came in Washington state in January 2005, when the King County Bar Association passed a resolution supporting the statewide legalization and regulation of psychoactive substances. The move followed a three-year period of intensive research into the historical, social, racial, legal, economic and fiscal considerations surrounding the drug war -- both in Washington state and throughout the United States. The resulting 145-page report, "Effective Drug Control: Toward a New Legal Framework," was hailed by a wide spectrum of mainstream organizations, including the Church Council of Greater Seattle, King County Medical Society, Washington State Psychiatric Association, Washington Society of Addiction Medicine, and Washington Academy of Family Physicians. And as a result, Democratic state Sen. Adam Kline is pushing for legislation to examine the possibility of a new legal framework for regulating illicit substances.

You'll need a "day pass" to read the rest, if the printer link fails. Crib notes: U.S. drug laws are costly and burdensome to the criminal justice system, with the majority of prosecutions targeting simple pot possession, not big-time drug dealing (and more reefer busts than rape convictions).

posted by JReid @ 9:24 PM  
Bet on Jacko
-- Odds Michael Jackson will catch another back spasm on verdict day: 5 to 1 has the rest, as of June 5th:

What will be the outcome of Michael Jackson's Child molestation trial be by 12/31/05?

He will be found not guilty of all charges
Guilty in 1 to 5 counts
Guilty on 6 or more counts
There will be a mistrial
Declares bankruptcy before the veredict
posted by JReid @ 12:55 PM  
1001 reasons it's good to be a celebrity, vol. 6
Reason #6: You can make reporters be nice to you.

According to the NY Post, actors Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are serious about not wanting to take personal questions from reporters:
FIRST Amendment be damned! When Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie say they don't want to get personal, they mean it. Both stars are making journos who interview them sign a contract to that effect and if you break it, Jolie will sue you. Her lawyer, Robert Offer, sent out a letter stating: "Interviewer will not ask Ms. Jolie any questions regarding her personal relationships. In the event Interviewer does ask Ms. Jolie any questions regarding her personal relationships, Ms. Jolie will have the right to immediately terminate the interview and leave. The interview may only be used to promote the Picture. In no event may Interviewer be entitled to run all or any portion of the Interview in connection with any other story . . . The interview will not be used in a manner that is disparaging, demeaning or derogatory to Ms. Jolie." If an interviewer does not comply, he or she can be sued for an "undisclosed" amount, the document states. Pitt, meanwhile, noted in his contract with the journos
that he's willing to talk about his charity work as well as the movie. Luckily, director Doug Liman gives juicy interviews and is not afraid to talk about Jolie and Pitt's chemistry."
Jealous, Mr. President?

Previous "reasons": 5 4 3 2 1
posted by JReid @ 11:29 AM  
On confidence...
From pollingreport:

And trust...

posted by JReid @ 12:51 AM  
What ever happened to...
...Florida Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite's 2003 bill to bring American remains home from France, as punishment for the French government's failure to support the invasion of Iraq? It was called the American Heroes Repatriation Act of 2003. It's listed on the congresswoman's web site, just before H.R.2357 , which sought to "provide for the appointment of chiropractors in the Veterans Health Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs." I'm interested to know if the Freeperati are still all hopped up on that one, now that the majority of Americans no longer think the Iraq adventure was worth the trouble...
posted by JReid @ 12:47 AM  
D-Day anniversary
Today, we remember the good war...

And while Walter Cronkite has made the very valid point that "good" has nothing to do with the death and bloodshed of war, World War II had the distinct advantage among conflicts over the last 100 years of being, for the most part, morally unambiguous: Nazi Germany and the Axis was bad, the United States and the allies were good (George W. Bush's attack on the Allies handling of the aftermath notwithstanding -- although, if you've read Kitty Kelly's book, you get a good read on the Bush's congenital loathing of all things Roosevelt...)

Despite its fits and starts (most Americans wanted nothing to do with Europe's Nazi problem before Pearl Harbor), World War II was America's last moment of wartime moral clarity. As a family friend who lived through it stateside as "all the men she knew" marched off to war once told me, WWII was a unique moment in American history, where every facet of society was pulling on e direction. There was no draft dodging -- no draft riots (a la the Civil War) either. All who were called, seemed to serve, and most men seemed determined to go, rather than absorb the shame of being left stateside. Boys lied about their ages in order to serve. More than a few very old men still say the Army made a man of them.

Those who did remain at home rationed gasoline and heating fuel, bought war bonds or worked in the plants that built the machines of war. All of society joined in the effort, including Hollywood (Ronald Reagan, though he didn't fight in the war, spent the conflict making dramatic training films that were an integral part of the homefront effort). Soldiers came home to the immense pride of the American people (not to protests), and to the G.I. bill, which gave many of them a real leg up. Black soldiers got their first taste of full citizenship, and the war produced a raft of heroes of all races.

There were mistakes to be sure -- the Japanese interrments and FDR's overzealous use of the courts (reminiscent of Bush's "enemy combatant" game), America's controversial use of nuclear weapons to end the Japanese theater of the war, and the failure of the allies to grasp Stalin's sinister motives and intent to break his post-war word. And then there was America's disgraceful importation of Nazi personnel and know-how into our country and defense industries after the war (not to mention the private profiteering by men who bankrolled the Germany as Hitler rose to power ... ahem, Bush family...). But for the most part, few argue that WWII was anything but a "just" war for civilization itself. (Which makes the spectacle of a smart guy like Pat Buchanan continuing to defend the Vietnam war -- not to mention the criminal Nixon administration -- while insisting that WWII was unnecessary all the more shocking).

In terms of the national consensus on war and war-making, there hasn't been that kind of national consensus since (well, there was, briefly, with the invasion of Afghanistan in response to 9/11). But I'd venture to bet that short of another straight-on conflict with Bin Laden himself, there won't be for a long, long time.
posted by JReid @ 12:14 AM  
Friday, June 03, 2005
When wrong really isn't wrong...
Silly Newsweek. They screwed up by believing a source who told them confirmed instances of Quran desecration would be included in a Pentagon report about alleged detainee abuse at Gitmo, including incidences of the Muslim holy book being flushed down a toilet. The double onslaught of DiRita and McClellan that followed forced them to retract at least part of the story (the part about the source confirming what would be in the report), and were roundly blamed by the right wing bloggerati for all the violence in the Muslim world.

So what is Howard Fineman doing on a Friday night? Well, he's doing "Countdown" on MSNBC, explaining why a retraction really isn't a retraction, especially after a 7 p.m. document dump of that very Pentagon report reveals that, in fact, Newsweek's story was indeed wrong -- about the toilet.

Turns out the Gitmo guards in question didn't toss the Muhammad chronicles into the tidy-bowl, he and a few of his peers peed on it (and its holder) directly, through a vent, in addition to kicking it, hurling water balloons at it, and scrawling things inside copies of the book that surely the God of Abraham never intended. So says the Pentagon... the same Pentagon that vigorously denied that any Quranic abuse had taken place at all.

If this is "mishandling," the Pentagon's chosen terminology for the conflation of Allah's good word and Ralph Kramden's throne, then I'd hate to see desecration.

So now, who will the Freepers blame, if the latest information on the pristine U.S. war on terror hits the Muslim world like a soccer ball upside the head, touching off fresh Asiatic violence? Well, it was Rumsfeld's Pentagon that put the story out, not Newsweek, so you can't blame the MSM. Perhaps Jay Hood is to blame. After all, he is in charge of the U.S. detention center, and he's the guy who gave us the new and improved definition of "mishandling" that's currently in operation, including at the AP, which used the bland terminology in the story headline.

Personally, I'm with ret. Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the guy with the clenched teeth and damning insights who shared the set with Fineman (figuratively, since Fineman was on by telephone), and who laid the blame exactly where it belongs: the civilian leadership at the Pentagon. Right up through intelligence chieve Stephen Cambone and his boss Don Rumsfeld. After all, they're the guys who set the "anything goes" policy that allowed stressed out, pressurized G.I.s to do their worst if it meant getting actionable intelligence out of the inmates in Cuba -- many of whom have, upon their release, turned out to be goat herders or al-Qaida/Taliban light with nothing to tell.

The atmosphere of information desperation combined with a "we've been hit so fuck off" attitude that permeated the Bush administration (and the right wing mediasphere) after 9/11, is what's really to blame for the serial abuses -- I mean mishandling -- of prisoners in American custory, both in Iran and Guantanamo Bay. To paraphrase someone I never quote, Al Gore (yeesh, that doesn't even feel right), there was "no controlling authority", no voice of reason explaning to these neocon nutcases that this is no way to run a war on terror.

No one in the White House, the Pentagon, certainly the vice president's office, or at the intelligence agencies, stepped in to question to policies coming out of the Rumsfeldian Chocolate Factory. So who do you blame when the guys at the lower end of the anti-terror totem pole -- the troops -- go to far?

If you're the Pentagon, you blame the troops, and prosecute the hell out of them.

If you think like Barry McCaffrey, you point the finger much, much higher up.
posted by JReid @ 8:24 PM  
You said it

"The US media needs a modern-day 'Deep Throat' within the administration of President George W. Bush to reveal how America was 'misled' on Iraq, former presidential contender George McGovern said.

" 'We need someone like that who is highly placed to tell us what's really going on. We know that we were misled on Iraq,' McGovern told Fox News Radio. . . .

" 'This war in Iraq, in my opinion is worse than anything Nixon did.'"

-- From Agence France Presse

posted by JReid @ 2:04 PM  
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Your media dollars at work
Day three of the 'Felt is Throat' saga, and the Washington Post finally gets down to the real heart of this story: the paper's lost scoop (damn you, Vanity Fair!!! and yes, there will be a battle of the books between grandstanding Woodward and the Felt family...)

"I had been in touch with Mark Felt," said Woodward, the best-selling author who is an assistant managing editor at The Post. "How was his health? Had he changed his mind about being identified? This was an ongoing reporting enterprise." Felt suffered a mild stroke in 2001.

Woodward said the Vanity Fair story detailing Felt's role came as a total surprise to him when it was released Tuesday morning. "I didn't know he was gearing up to go public," he said.

To Bradlee, who was the paper's executive editor during Watergate, there was no decision to be made. "If you give your word you're not going to do it, you can't do it," said Bradlee, now a Post Co. vice president. "We were the only people who were clinically and morally bound not to break this story, so how could we break it?"

What's more, Bradlee said of Felt, "the guy has not got all his marbles. The question was whether he could have given us permission."

Well, the paper is making up for it by filling its homepage with DT stories today, including a complete Throat rehash by Bob Woodward himself (which of course is being cribbed by every news site and paper with access to a wire service).

And while this story has essentially obliterated all other news for the past several days, much to the president's relief I'm sure, since Iraq is quite clearly going to hell in a handbasket, it has been fascinating to watch the old Nixon accolytes and assorted felons -- from non-felonious Nixon loyalist Pat Buchanan to Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy, to Reagan takeover artist Al Haig -- and their talk radio mouthpieces blast poor Felt as a traitor and even as a criminal for spilling the beans on Nixon's misdeads.

MSNBC's David Schuster runs with the "whistleblower as villain" angle on his blog, but for the most part, the talking heads are giving the Nixonites plenty of room to bluster.

And does anyone but me wonder whether George W. Bush has got to be thanking God almighty that the U.S. mainstream media could give a damn about his nasty little whisltleblower problem, namely the globally infamous, but domestically ignored, Downing Street memo?
posted by JReid @ 9:58 AM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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