The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Friday, March 30, 2007

Hey, remember me?

There were plenty of stories today talking about all the other BushCo scandals the press never got around to covering:

Think Progress: The Interior Department inspector general reports that a senior Bush political appointee, Julie MacDonald, repeatedly altered scientific field reports “to minimize protections for imperiled species, and disclosed confidential information to private groups seeking to affect policy decisions.”

The New Republic: Nor is there any specific statute mandating that presidents pay heed to government scientists, intelligence analysts, and other in-house wonks. But, before the Bush administration, presidents generally yielded to disinterested expertise. That's to say nothing of Bush's unprecedented mania for secrecy and rampant classification of documents or his exploitation of government agencies to disseminate pro-administration agitprop.

Career lawyers say the new hires [at the DOJ's Civil Rights Division] are increasingly white males with Federalist Society or Christian Legal Society credentials, even though many of them are shocked to find themselves in the Civil Rights Division. Richard Ugelow, a former employment deputy chief who now teaches at American University, says his students who ranked other divisions in the Department of Justice as their preferred choices for placement found themselves called to interview in the Civil Rights Division. One thing about those students' résumés stood out: They were members of the Federalist Society.

What was this newly conservative incarnation of the Civil Rights Division being asked to do? From the beginning, part of the Bush administration's purpose was advancing the Christian right's agenda, and one element of that agenda was the erosion of the wall between church and state. At the same time, in a five-year period beginning in 2001, the division brought no voting cases on behalf of African-Americans and only one employment case on behalf of African-Americans.


I honestly don't remember what my first thought was when I saw the title "Bush's Favorite Historian," but I knew it would be anything but reassuring. And for once, I'd like to be wrong. Couldn't we get just one teeny tiny morsel of information that suggests there's at least a sliver of something in him that isn't entirely motivated by greed, ignorance, or woefully misplaced narcissism.

President Bush is sometimes a boastful anti-intellectual, but in the past year he has been touting his reading lists and engaging in who-can-read-more contests with his chief political adviser, Karl Rove. (Bush claimed to have read 60 books in just the first seven and a half months of last year, the pace of a full-time reviewer.) [My guess: he looks at the first page, decides that he can 'see the soul' of the author, and leaves it at that.]. . .

Bush invited [conservative British writer Andrew] Roberts for a discussion over lunch at the White House earlier this month. The author was joined by Dick Cheney (who was recently photographed carrying the book), Rove, and a group of neoconservative intellectuals including Norman Podhoretz and Gertrude Himmelfarb, along with various other officials and conservative journalists. Though the event was supposed to be off the record, several participants wrote it up afterward. Bush's embrace of Roberts' book is hardly surprising, given how it glorifies his presidency. . . .

Roberts is as sloppy as he is snobbish. I am seldom bothered by minor errors from a good writer, but Roberts' mistakes are so extensive, foolish, and revealing of his basic ignorance about the United States in particular, that it may be worth noting a few of those I caught in a fast read. The San Francisco earthquake did considerably more than $400,000 in damage. Virginia Woolf, who drowned herself in 1941, did not write for Encounter, which began publication in 1953. The Proposition 13 Tax Revolt took place in the 1970s, not the 1980s—an important distinction because it presaged Ronald Reagan's election in 1980. Michael Milken was not a "takeover arbitrageur," whatever that is. Roberts cannot know that there were 500 registered lobbyists in Washington during World War II because lobbyists weren't forced to register until 1946. Gregg Easterbrook is not the editor of the New Republic. "No man gets left behind" is a line from the film Black Hawk Down, not the motto of the U.S. Army Rangers; their actual motto is "Rangers Lead the Way." In a breathtaking peroration, Roberts point out that "as a proportion of the total number of Americans, only 0.008 percent died bringing democracy to important parts of the Middle East in 2003-5." Leaving aside the question of whether those deaths have brought anything like democracy to Iraq, 0.008 percent of 300 million people is 24,000—off by a factor of 10, which is typical of his arithmetic.

That ignores all the stuff in the article about racially-tinged language, a pro-imperialist stance, and oodles of praises for Bush. In short, it's complete crap that only an egotistical despot could love. Like anyone in the White House Book Club.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Sizzle Sells the Steak

Since it's all about ideology today, I'm going to post some disturbing articles from Salon.

First, the terrifying piece, by Glenn Greenwald:

[In today's NYT column, David] Brooks comes out and explicitly declares the twin icons of "conservatism" to be every bit as quaint and obsolete as the Geneva Conventions: "Goldwater and Reagan were important leaders, but they're not models for the future."

Brooks admits what has been crystal clear for some time -- namely, that so-called "conservatives" (meaning the contemporary political "Right") no longer believe (if they ever did) that government power should be restrained in order to maximize freedom. That belief system, says Brooks, is an obsolete relic which arose out of the the 1970s, and has been replaced by the opposite desire -- for expanded government power on every front.

Brooks is a hack in sheep's clothing and always has been, but he's got the art of insincerity down to the point where he can sell totalitarianism as just what Mr & Mrs. Middle America are dreaming of. And be taken seriously.

And now the depressing piece:

"Maybe [Pakistani cricket fans] should focus less on cricket and a little more on hygiene," opined Rachel Marsden on a recent episode of Fox News' middle-of-the-night talk oddity "Red Eye." Marsden was adding her two cents to a discussion of murdered Pakistani cricket coach Bob Woolmer, and seemed unaware that she had said anything offensive.

Apparently Fox is grooming another Joanie Bravo to keep the airwaves sizzlin' hot with reactionary nonsense. And they certainly know how to pick fame-hungry demagogues with a couple of screws loose. And, once again, serious psychosexual problems.

Donnelly fired back, alleging that it was Marsden who had done the harassing. He handed over photos of the scantily clad student that he claimed she had slipped under his door, and released an e-mail she had sent him after the date of the alleged molestation that read in part, "I suggest that you just relax and let me undress you, touch you ... If you want, you can undo the garter and take off my stockings, take off my lace bra and underwear, and let your hands explore my body wherever they want to." . . .

According to Donnelly, Marsden had been stalking him for years, making multiple hang-up calls and showing up at his home. Donnelly claimed that this behavior had begun as early as 1992 but had worsened over time. He alleged that by 1995, someone he believed to be Marsden had vandalized his car, strewn condoms in his driveway, posted graffiti advertising his number as a phone-sex line in campus bathrooms, subscribed to Playboy in his name, and left phone messages for him with a voice-altering machine. Donnelly later told the press: "She was everywhere. She would turn up at events where I was working. She was phoning me all the time ... She admitted she bought a voice-altering machine. That was the one that scared me the most. It sounds like the devil."

Donnelly had lodged complaints with his local police departments about these occurrences in 1992, and again in 1995, when he named Marsden as the person he suspected was behind them. . . .

Marsden was next charged with criminally harassing former Vancouver radio host Michael Morgan in 2002. According to the statement of facts in the case, Marsden and Morgan met in 2001; soon after, he called the police when Marsden sent a teddy bear and flowers to his home. Marsden was warned to stay away from Morgan. But according to court documents, contact resumed and the two began a consensual sexual relationship several months later. When Marsden traveled to the U.S. in 2002, Morgan began dating another woman. According to the court summary of events, this didn't go over well with Marsden, and she began calling and e-mailing him repeatedly, also contacting his new girlfriend, his sister, his son and his business partner, and waiting for him outside his apartment. Police investigated at Morgan's house, where they listened to several phone messages from Marsden described in court documents as "vindictive and threatening." Morgan turned over 38 e-mails sent by Marsden between Sept. 20 and Oct. 10, 2002. According to the court, Marsden also rigged Morgan's computer to send her blind copies of every e-mail he sent to anyone.

In May 2004, Marsden pleaded guilty to the criminal harassment charges.

Look for her being fawned over at a right-wing gathering near you.

Breaking! Welfare Queen steals elections!

As much as I appreciate this article, "The Myth of Voter Fraud," it should have been written six months-- or six years-- before today. Instead, we were treated to the same old show-- wingers fan the flames of racial and class enmity for political gain, and their base is typically enraged. 'Serious journalist' asks Beltway GOoPer about the issue in the manner of a TV cop apologetically saying "I know it's absurd, but I'm required to ask." GOoPer condescendingly dismisses the story as nutty, left-wing fever dream. Everyone has a good laugh and the issue disappears. Oh, then the issue reappears when it's way too late to make a damn bit of difference.

As Congress probes the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, attention is centering on who knew what, and when. It's just as important to focus on "why," such as the reason given for the firing of at least one of the U.S. attorneys, John McKay of Washington state: failure to prosecute the phantom of individual voter fraud.

Allegations of voter fraud -- someone sneaking into the polls to cast an illicit vote -- have been pushed in recent years by partisans seeking to justify proof-of-citizenship and other restrictive ID requirements as a condition of voting. Scare stories abound on the Internet and on editorial pages, and they quickly become accepted wisdom.

But the notion of widespread voter fraud, as these prosecutors found out, is itself a fraud. Firing a prosecutor for failing to find wide voter fraud is like firing a park ranger for failing to find Sasquatch.

How about firing them for failing to produce Reagan's mythical 'Welfare Queen?'

The thing to keep in mind here, of course, is the 2006 attempt by neo-fascists across America to make voting more difficult-- not to level the playing field, but to tilt it heavily in their favor. As the article thankfully, if belatedly, observes.

Mmmmm, nothing like the taste of the press corps' table scraps, eh?

Guided By Voices

Since I was talking about the cultish mentality of today's GOP, this Harold Meyerson article seemed worthwhile:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' hour-long meeting on sacking federal prosecutors took place after the election. The subsequent sacking took place after the election. The videoconference between leaders of the General Services Administration and Karl Rove's deputy about how to help Republican candidates in 2008 [which is illegal], according to people who attended the meeting, took place Jan. 26 this year.

Lo and behold, they did it again just this afternoon as Kyle Sampson was giving damaging testimony-- under oath-- to the Senate Judiciary Committee:

A Senate Judiciary Committee source tells ThinkProgress conservatives objected to the hearing lasting beyond two hours, but then backed down after realizing it was a huge strategic blunder. [Senator Patrick] Leahy explains: “Just so people can understand what’s going on here. The lack of permission going forward has now been changed. I had raised questions and the — whatever objection there was on the Republican side has been withdrawn, so that we can continue."

So is this the day when they finally realized that the Senate floor is more than just a right-wing fiefdom? Naaah. Just the usual strongarm thuggery that triggered someone's instinct for self-preservation. Think about it: a Republican was giving testimony that made the GOP look bad, so they tried to stop the hearing.

In other words, "GOP attempts to subvert government still not newsworthy."

Failure is the new progress

Coming on the heels of McCain's falsehoods about progress in Baghdad and all over Iraq came several headlines about just how well things are going.

At least 104 killed in Iraq bombings: Multiple suicide bombers struck in predominantly Shi'ite markets in Baghdad and in a town north of the capital, killing at least 104 people and wounding scores on Thursday. . .

Dozens die in revenge spree-- Shiites, Sunnis clash in once-pacified city: The gunmen roamed Sunni neighborhoods in Tal Afar through the night, shooting at residents and homes, according to police and a local Sunni politician. Witnesses said relatives of the Shiite victims in the truck bombings broke into Sunni homes and killed the men inside or dragged them out and shot them in the streets.

Tim Grieve decided to play a little "Tal Afar Then & Now" with the story:

George W. Bush, March 20, 2006: "Today I'd like to share a concrete example of progress in Iraq that most Americans do not see every day in their newspapers and on their television screens. I'm going to tell you the story of a northern Iraqi city called Tal Afar, which was once a key base of operations for al Qaeda and is today a free city that gives reason for hope for a free Iraq.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Our Lady of Regressive Taxation

Jonathan Chait wrote an interesting piece for TNR on a favorite topic of mine-- why some people treat their political affiliation as a belief system, beyond critical thought or the possibility of error. It also addresses one of my pet theories, namely that when people convert it's to the same point on the other side of the spectrum.

What causes lefties to turn into conservatives? Conservatives are fascinated with this question, repeating, often for years on end, their stories of deliverance from liberal hell to conservative heaven. Several such testimonies can be found in a new volume, Why I Turned Right: Leading Baby Boom Conservatives Chronicle Their Political Journeys. Most of the journeys described are short ones--from apolitical child of (generally) conservative parents to conservative young adult. (Rich Lowry's progression from son of Republican parents to avid teenage reader of National Review to editor of National Review lacks the dramatic tension of, say, Whittaker Chambers's Witness.) Of the essays that do describe genuine left-to-right conversions, the striking thing about them is that encounters with actual liberalism are virtually absent. . . .

David Horowitz offers the model for this left-right metamorphosis, having changed almost overnight from gun-storing Black Panther wannabe to radical right-wing culture warrior--a story he has recounted in no fewer than four (as we go to press) books.

Christopher Hitchens is a more recent example of the phenomenon. In a 2001 Atlantic Monthly essay, Hitchens excoriated figures like Noam Chomsky, bell hooks, and Oliver Stone before concluding with a general denunciation of "America's liberals"--as if his targets were typical liberals, or even liberals at all. One day Hitchens was denouncing liberals as cruel imperialist aggressors (e.g., attacking Bill Clinton's 1998 air strike against Sudan), the next day as cowardly appeasers. . . .

Why do these converts register their disgust with the far left by immediately hopping into bed with the right, rather than settling down with some nice neoliberal think tank?

The whole article is well worth reading for its "case-study" look at the facile anti-intellectualism that's such a hallmark of today's conservatism. But at this point, I'd like to inject some of my own thoughts. Chait cites the case of "post-structuralist academic" turned right-wing stooge Heather MacDonald. And far from being an eye-opening conversion, it's nothing more than a case of trading psychological security blankets. But as an example, I'll have to quote my favorite modern philosopher, Karl Popper. Who, by the way, was a genuine liberal.

Acceptance of [Freudian or Adlerian psychoanalysis, Marxism, or other theories that claimed to be scientific] had, he observed, "the effect of an intellectual conversion or revelation, opening your eyes to a new truth hidden hidden from those not yet initiated. Once your eyes were opened, you saw confirming instances everywhere: the world was full of verifications of the theory. Thus its truth appeared manifest; and unbelievers were clearly people who did not want to see the manifest truth; who refused to see it, either because it was against their class interest, or because of their repressions which were still 'un-analysed' and crying out for treatment. . . . A Marxist could not open a newspaper without finding on every page confirming evidence for his interpretation of history; not only in the news, but also in its presentation-- which revealed the class bias of the paper-- and especially of course in what the paper did not say.*

This pretty much sums up the mindset that controls the GOP right now, and I'm more than willing to acknowledge that it holds disturbing sway in some areas of the humanities. Present non-falsifiable hypotheses as irrefutable truth. If someone disagrees, they may deserve pity, but not a rational argument.
And if all else fails, move the goalposts. The problem isn't with the left or the right, but that boundless thirst we have to define a complex world in black and white terms. Probably inevitable as long as people are people, but not the folks you want to see in charge of anything.

*Taken from the book Karl Popper by Bryan Magee, which is an outstanding and terse overview of Popper's philosophy. The quote comes from Popper's own Conjectures and Refutations.

McCain's credibility takes another hit

Man, this is pathetic. Not even right-wing bloggers pretend that Iraq is going really well these days, but John InSane is banking on it:

Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told CNN that that President Bush’s escalation in Iraq is going so well, “General Petraeus goes out there almost every day in an unarmed humvee.” On Monday, he told radio host Bill Bennett that there “are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods, today.”

This morning, during an interview with McCain, CNN’s John Roberts rebutted McCain’s assertions, stating, “I checked with General Petraeus’s people overnight and they said he never goes out in anything less than an up-armored humvee.” He added that a new report by retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey “said no Iraqi government official, coalition soldier, diplomat reporter could walk the streets of Baghdad without heavily armed protection.”

Faced with overwhelming evidence that he was wrong, McCain denied he’d ever said it: “Well, I’m not saying they could go without protection. The President goes around America with protection. So, certainly I didn’t say that.”

It's amazing, really. Read a little further and you'll see just how much like Fearless Leader he sounds. It's all there-- progress, accusations of media bias, etc. On the other hand, this could be an effective way to boost his standing with 'my party right or wrong' (or, more accurately, 'my party right.') wingers. Kissing evangelical ass clearly wasn't working. Video at the link.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

So much news....

Trying to get back into the swing of things is a little difficult. But at the same time, it's all so aggravatingly typical of the administration, the press, and the presidential candidates.

On the US Attorney front, the White House remains adamant: "We didn't do anything wrong. Even if we did something wrong, it wasn't our fault. And even if it was our fault, we'd happily admit it." Which explains why Alberto Gonzales' memory is suddenly going from crystal clear to all sort of... hazy. They must have everyone watching the Iran-Contra hearings.

I'm sure you remember that the White House is determined to keep the likes of Rove (or anyone else they consider indispensible) from talking about the incident under oath. And you've undoubtedly heard about Gonzales' top aide (and 'attorney for Jesus') who'll be pleading the Fifth. But that wasn't enough-- did you catch the bit about their attempt to prevent anything said from even being transcribed? But what you just don't understand is that asking people to testify under oath wouldn't even be necessary if it weren't for... here it comes... Bill Clinton. It's all they've got, folks.

In light of all this, Democrats and frightened Republicans decided to strip away one of the articles in the always-oily and mercilessly-abused Patriot Act: the one that permits the White House to appoint US Attorneys on a whim, indefinitely and for whatever reason, without any oversight. Somewhere out there, Nikita Kruschev is banging his loafer on a table and laughing hysterically.

But reality is still very much out of fashion among presidential fantasists. Joe Lieberman argues that there's no civil war in Iraq. John McCain knows that Iraq would be a cakewalk if only Democrats would do what the White House wants. I'd argue that this shows both men to be either A) utterly cynical liars who think it'll score them points in the future, or B) dangerously delusional. At any rate, people this out of touch shouldn't be leading Boy Scout troops, much less an entire state or (God forbid) the nation.

But I'm still really unhappy with their counterparts in the Democratic party. Remember that anecdote about a black athlete saying that black men had to be twice as good to even earn a spot on the team? I think it's been recycled for many other purposes, and sports anecdotes aren't exactly my forte, but the Dems should really be keeping it in mind-- they're going to be treated twice as harshly as any Republican just because they're Democrats. And the two front-runners aren't exactly inspiring me with their efforts. Barack Obama is still agonizingly vague about his own positions. But so is Hillary (I'd link to that story about her recent non-answer on gays in the military followed by a a hasty apology when she was called on it). Sadly, even though John Edwards has been admirably clear about specific issues, Katie Couric is too busy asking him why he's such a heartless monster to cover any of them. On 60 Minutes, for the luvva Pete.

"Some people watching this would say, `I would put my family first always, and my job second.' And you're doing the exact opposite. You're putting your work first, and your family second," she said, asking for their response.

Those questions provoked dozens of people to write to the CBS Web site, complaining that Couric was being insensitive. Some even questioned her right to ask them, given that Couric kept doing her "Today" show job, with breaks, when her husband Jay Monahan was diagnosed with colon cancer and died in 1998.

That WaPo article is disturbingly sympathetic to Couric, whose career should never, ever have gone beyond giving us the scoop on Rachael Ray's taste in footwear. Right, Katie. The man who wants to dedicate his life to fighting poverty in America is simply "putting work first."

But now let's go to our on-the-spot reporter, Ekatirena Kourakas, who has an exclusive interview with Hector and Andromache....

"Hector, you're determined to lead your countrymen into battle against a foe determined to level your city and kill or enslave all its people, even though you have a wife and young son at home. Some would say you're putting your work first, and your family second...."

And now that I've said that, it's clearly time for a refreshing latte followed by a sushi dinner.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Back on the virtual front line. Sorta.

Yep, still under the weather. I can feel my readership dropping by the day, but blogging is a harsh mistress. Yep.

The US Attorney scandal keeps getting worse for BushCo, but they just keep digging in: Snow is faux-shocked by any suggestion that the Bushies would try to conceal any (alleged) wrongdoing. Such as a curious, two-week gap in the massive document dump from the DOJ. Bush, ever the steely-eyed leader, has once again assured the public that everyone implicated in the mess has his full support. Although he'll fight tooth and nail to keep them from uttering a single syllable under oath.

But who expects them to change at this point? 70% of Americans realize they won't, and the other unfortunates will never, ever think they should.

The Grand Old Party is staying the course as well, insisting that anything less than an extreme, right-wing government with unchecked power is tantamount to rule by "Faggots, Niggers, and Bitches":

Please excuse the blunt language. From here forward, to avoid the ugly words, I'll refer to it as "FNB politics." With little to show the electorate in 2008--after six years of uninterrupted control--besides sub-standard care from a privatized workforce at Walter Reed Hospital, thrice-married "family values" presidential candidates, and a boom in home foreclosures, the conservative base's 2008 strategy has begun to emerge: Weaken the major Democratic opponents by making their image unpalatable to the public. . .

Take the saga of Trinity United Church of Christ and its "black value system"--a crucial building block in the absurd smear that Barack Obama is a Manchurian black nationalist. The first mention I could find of it via the blog search engine Technorati came in July, on a site called PollywogCreekPorch. The next was December 8, on the site Faith and Action, which reports that an "exclusive commitment to a cultural and national identity played a major role in Obama's decision to identify himself with Christianity." You find the claim proliferating around the time the madrassa smear refused to stick; a key driver was a column titled "Barack Hussein Obama: Who Is He?" by none other than Ted Sampley, the pioneering swift boater who invented the charge that John McCain was brainwashed by communists. By February, Tucker Carlson was quoting the Trinity document, noting it "calls for congregants to be 'soldiers for Black freedom.'"

Handily, he dropped the second part of the clause, "... and the dignity of all humankind."

Who knows? Maybe after eight years of Republican corruption and greed, the destruction of New Orleans, and thousands of needless deaths, GOP boosters with a brain will demand something more from their party than war profiteering, legislating religion, and driving the nation to the brink of ruin. And the endless procession of stupefying demagoguery, racial stereotyping, and WWII-era propaganda.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Day in Shame

Well, it's Thursday, and three or four days since the US Attorney story grabbed the attention of the mainstream press. (Hey, it took two years for them to turn the conditions at Walter Reed into news, so that's pretty good.) And the coverage is surprisingly non-wimpy, considering that it's a BushCo scandal.

Currently under the microscope, Tony Snow. For (gasp!) lying. Nothing he hasn't been doing since day one, but we have to take what we can get these days. But this ABC story really takes the cake-- this is as close as any MSM outlet I've seen come to calling every insider in the White House a total liar.

New unreleased e-mails from top administration officials show that the idea of firing all 93 U.S. attorneys was raised by White House adviser Karl Rove in early January 2005, indicating Rove was more involved in the plan than the White House previously acknowledged.

The e-mails also show that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales discussed the idea of firing the attorneys en masse weeks before he was confirmed as attorney general. (. . .)

White House press secretary Tony Snow told reporters Tuesday that Miers had suggested firing all 93, and that it was "her idea only." Snow said Miers' idea was quickly rejected by the Department of Justice.

To think, all it took for the media to do their jobs was seven years, fifteen or so scandals, several hundred instances of being lied to, and one of the most unpopular administrations in history!

Sadly, there's more to report today on Hillary Clinton. As much as I've lamented the fact that, even though she's already a pinata for the MSM, all signs point to her using the twice-failed strategy of playing DLC conservative who tries her best to say nothing at all. I hate to say it, but she's already running a campaign as bad as Gore or Kerry, and the press is even harder on her than on those two (more qualified) candidates. It looks like her slogan might wind up as "I'd rather squish than fight."

When asked Wednesday whether she -- like Pace -- considered homosexuality to be immoral, Clinton said: "Well, I am going to leave that to others to conclude." In the two statements posted on her Senate Web site today, Clinton acknowledges that her non-answer answer has prompted some very unhappy reactions from the gay community.

"I have heard from many of my friends in the gay community that my response yesterday to a question about homosexuality being immoral sounded evasive," Clinton says in a prepared statement. "My intention was to focus the conversation on the failed 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. I should have echoed my colleague Sen. John Warner's statement forcefully stating that homosexuality is not immoral because that is what I believe."

No-one's going to by that, and no-one should. She chickened out. Period. The Onion pretty much got it with this headline:

Hillary Clinton Tries To Woo Voters By Rescinding Candidacy

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Nothing you haven't seen before

Will I ever get well? Probably within the next few days, yeah. In the meantime, I'll continue to bring you some of the important news mere hours after pretty much everyone else in the blogosphere!

The US Attorney scandal continues apace, following the course of every other scandal of the last six years. So far:

1. Gonzales said A) he knew nothing of the whole "fired attorney" thing, and that B) it's just the sort of thing that wouldn't have happened if he'd known.
2. A) Lie and B) lie. Having been personally implicated, and confronted with evidence that it was a coordinated effort between the DOJ and White House...
3. Gonzales claims that it had absolutely nothing to do with partisan ideology.
4. That'd be another lie. See this article: In rating the prosecutors, Mr. Sampson factored in whether they “exhibited loyalty to the president and attorney general,” according to documents released by the Justice Department.

And today....

5. Fearless Leader decides takes the bull by the horns the only way he knows how. With more lies at a press conference.

Bush: "I do have confidence in Attorney General Al Gonzales. I talked to him this morning, and we talked about his need to go up to Capitol Hill and make it very clear to members in both political parties why the Justice Department made the decisions it made, making very clear about the facts. And he's right, mistakes were made. And I'm, frankly, not happy about it, because there is a lot of confusion over what really has been a customary practice by the presidents. U.S. attorneys and others serve at the pleasure of the president. Past administrations have removed U.S. attorneys; they're right to do so."

Fact: There's nothing "customary" about firing a slate of U.S. attorneys during the middle of a president's time in office. While Bill Clinton asked for the resignations of all sitting U.S. attorneys when he first took office, it's not at all typical for presidents to remove U.S. attorneys in the middle of their presidencies. As former Gonzales chief of staff Kyle Sampson acknowledged in a January 2006 memo to Harriet Miers, the last two-term presidents -- Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton -- "did not seek to remove and replace U.S. attorneys they had appointed whose four-year terms had expired, but instead permitted such U.S. attorneys to serve indefinitely under the [U.S. Code's] holdover provision.". . .

Bush: "The Justice Department recommended a list of U.S. attorneys. I believe the reasons why were entirely appropriate. And yet this issue was mishandled to the point now where you're asking me questions about it in Mexico, which is fine. If I were you, I'd ask the same question. This is an issue that -- let me just say, Al was right, mistakes were made, and he's going to go up to Capitol Hill to correct them."

Fact: Yes, the Justice Department "recommended a list of U.S. attorneys" to be fired, but only after Miers suggested firing all 93 of them. Further, it is now clear that White House officials -- including Karl Rove and the president himself -- had extensive contacts with the Justice Department about prosecutors on the list as the process moved forward.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The glorious return of Harriet Miers.

Finally, something we can thank the neo-fascists for-- their complete outrage over Miers' nomination to the Supreme Court. While Fearless Leader did, in fact, suggest that she was the best-qualified person for the job, not even his allies were buying it. The nomination went down in flames, but she did stay on the payroll. And you know what that means: corruption. Yaaaayyyy!

But the documents and interviews indicate that the idea for the firings originated at least two years ago, when then-White House counsel Harriet E. Miers suggested to Sampson in February 2005 that all prosecutors be dismissed and replaced.

Gonzales rejected that idea as impractical and disruptive, Justice officials said, but over the next 22 months Sampson orchestrated more limited dismissals.

"I recommend that the Department of Justice and the Office of the Counsel to the President work together to seek the replacement of a limited number of U.S. Attorneys," Sampson wrote to Miers in January 2006. A "limited number of U.S. attorneys could be targeted for removal and replacement, mitigating the shock to the system that would result from an across the board firing."

Translation: We can't be too egregious, or people might realize this is entirely partisan.

As the above story makes clear, facts have emerged that prevent the old "overzealous staffer" defense. Gonzales was trying (before the story emerged) to claim that he had no knowledge of the firings he had approved. No longer possible after this emerged:

E-mails released Tuesday, however, revealed that the firings were considered and discussed for two years by Justice Department and White House officials.

Being caught red-handed naturally prompted Gonzales to rapidly discover a broad streak of righteousness within himself:

"Obviously I am concerned about the fact that information -- incomplete information was communicated or may have been communicated to the Congress," Gonzales said. "I believe very strongly in our obligation to ensure that when we provide information to the Congress, it is accurate and it is complete. And I very dismayed that that may not have occurred here."

But that's the strange position in which we've found ourselves over and over and over again: Bush administration and Republican party push partisan and unethical (though not in this case illegal) agenda. Truth becomes apparent. Administration lies to conceal initial lies/incompetence/radicalism. Media publishes story about Hillary Clinton.

But maybe we really are reaching a tipping point. Bush is predictably claiming success for the meaningless "surge" as violence in Iraq grows deadlier than ever. And we're also losing Afghanistan. But BushCo continues to demand unlimited funding and "no artificial timetables," which even the most self-deluded are beginning to acknowledge as an admission that they have no idea what to do but let the killing continue until it's someone else's problem. Then came the AIPAC conference, which featured Ann Coulter calling a US Senator and vice-presidential nominee a faggot before a cheering crowd-- and a smiling Republican presidential hopeful. And another gay, right-wing prostitute. Joe Lieberman spoke, too, averring once again his unwavering support for the war in Iraq-- which Democratic primary voters rejected him for last fall. Remember when they were being derided for making it about one issue? Those were the days, huh? Then the news of Walter Reed hit the front pages, exposing the right's 'support the troops' mantra as just more hollow demagoguery. Oh, and then the architect of the GOP rise to power, Newt Gingrich, admitted that he was cheating on his second wife even as he spearheaded the Clinton impeachment. This is all over the course of what, two weeks?

And now, a fresh scandal. Going-- once again-- right to the top. We'll see, right? But as soon as articles like this move from places like Salon to Newsweek and Time, we'll know we're there.

This is about a pact the American right made with the devil, a pact the devil is now coming to collect on. American conservatism sold its soul to the Coulters and Limbaughs of the world to gain power, and now that its ideology has been exposed as empty and its leadership incompetent and corrupt, free-floating hatred is the only thing it has to offer. The problem, for the GOP, is that this isn't a winning political strategy anymore -- but they're stuck with it. They're trapped. They need the bigoted and reactionary base they helped create, but the very fanaticism that made the True Believers such potent shock troops will prevent the Republicans from achieving Karl Rove's dream of long-term GOP domination.

In the meantime, we're stuck with hacks like David Gergen saying things like "This is an administration that has been mostly free of scandal over the last six years" on stations like CNN.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Creeping Terror-- Week Two!

In spite of fighting valiantly all last week (and avoiding the high life this weekend), I'm finally giving in to illness. Nothing too serious, but I'm pretty lacking in energy. Which is a shame, because so many stories of the administration's malfeasance are breaking these days that it could be remembered as the time this bunch of crooks finally toppled over. Yeah, I know, if it hasn't happened during any of the previous dozen or so scandals, why now? Maybe it shows the incredibly importance of the Bush family's insistence on loyalty, loyalty, loyalty-- ideologues can be mighty handy to have around when you need a patsy.

ITEM! White House implicates Rove in US Attorney scandal.

ITEM! Lt. General Kiley 3rd officer to go over Walter Reed scandal.

ITEM! Joe Conason: In addition to Karl Rove and (at least) 3 GOP Congressmen, Alberto Gonzales should go over the US Attorney scandal.

ITEM! Bush's SOTU promise of earmark transparency? Broken in under six weeks.

Friday, March 09, 2007

...It pours.

And pours, and pours and pours.

Everyone knows by now that Newt Gingrich pulled a Jimmy Swaggart by confessing his sins to fundamentalist America. One of them, anyway. All that remains is the speculation. Personally, I see no reason whatsoever for him to have done that, and released a pandering book aimed squarely at the fundies, if he weren't quite serious about a presidential bid. But the one thing he's definitely done is given every other candidate the chance to say "Would you trust a president who had impeached a predecessor for cheating on his wife at the same time he was cheating on his second wife?" Newt tried to counter that in advance by claiming that it was the principle of lying under oath that he had a problem with. And if he's dumb enough to think that will fly, he's a genuine idiot. And I'd love to see him run.

But he's still the same ol' father of today's Congressional neo-fascists.

Hypocrite? Not me, says Newt.

"I drew a line in my mind that said, 'Even though I run the risk of being deeply embarrassed ... I have no choice except to move forward and say that you cannot accept ... perjury in your highest officials,'" he says.

Elsewhere in the interview, Gingrich says he doesn't believe in "situational ethics."

Then there's Bush. My fondest wish for his journey to Latin America was that he wouldn't further embarrass us as a nation. As usual, even that was too much to hope for. He's been greeted by throngs of protesters, repeatedly upstaged by Hugo Chavez (whose influence he hoped to counter), and openly called a tainted scourge of the innocent by Mayan holy men. And what is his tactic of choice? To deliver a stump speech filled with lies, apparently too dim-witted to understand that the press in other countries won't accept them as docilely as our own. But he's certainly managed to do the exact opposite of Bill Clinton-- fail completely. This sums it up nicely: Earlier this week, when U.S. cargo planes delivered $1.1 million in disaster relief to flooded areas in Bolivia, Chávez trumped the offer by contributing $15 million.

Back at home, however, the evil train keeps a' rollin', as House Republicans decided to install staunch anti-environmentalists to a special committe that will study global warming.

Finally, here's a lovely little piece from the Prospect on the poverty of the right-wing obsession with the 1960s. Which ended more than 30 years ago, of course. And it's been critical to the erosion of the two things they talk about most: the American family and moral values.

To be sure, the '60s, with its assaults on traditional authority, played some role in weakening the traditional family.

But its message was sounded loudest and clearest on elite college campuses, whose graduates were nonetheless the group most likely to have stable marriages. Then again, they were also the group most likely to have stable careers.

They enjoyed financial stability; they could plan for the future.

Such was not the case for working-class Americans. Over the past 35 years, the massive changes in the U.S. economy have largely condemned American workers to lives of economic insecurity. No longer can the worker count on a steady job for a single employer who provides a paycheck and health and retirement benefits, too.

So painfully obvious it hurts. Too bad John Edwards, the candidate most devoted to improving financial security for working-class Americans, is a hopelessly faggoty 'Breck Girl.'

Thursday, March 08, 2007

When it Rains...

It's nice to be able to report a juicy scandal or two-- look at the players, see how people are taking action against it, that sort of thing. But some days you good a deluge instead of a cloudburst, and this has been one of them. probably deserves a Blog o' the Day award for covering so many newsworthy stories that aren't making the news, as well as news stories that aren't worthy (although these links are from various sources):

*Another shameless pork play by Alaskan Republican Ted "Bridge to Nowhere" Stevens.
*A Republican Congressman who was aware of conditions at Walter Reed, but stayed mum.
*A report that Bush will veto any bill that requires him to end the Iraq War before leaving
office. Now that's leadership.
*The Judiciary Committee is getting ready with subpoenas over the partisan sacking of US Attorneys. Because the White House appears to have had direct involvement in making it partisan. New Mexico Republican Pete Domenici is getting ready by hiring "Duke" Cunningham's defense attorney. And ABC and CBS's evening news shows hadn't even reported the story as of yesterday evening, in spite of Congressional hearings on the issue.

But as we know, Democrats can be vile and corrupt as well.

*Did you know that ABC and MSNBC have reported on Barack Obama's "first real scandal," even though the story they're citing acknowledges that there's no evidence of any wrongdoing? Or is that his second "real scandal"? As the Boston Globe reports, the scheming senator recently paid parking tickets from Cambridge, MA! Just before declaring his candidacy. As someone in the vicinity, I'm fully aware of Harvard and Cambridge's draconian parking policies. And he paid the fines, of course. But other than that, the fact that he received parking citations makes me seriously doubt his ability to lead. After all, it's not like he killed a guy (Laura Bush) or used political connections to avoid service in a war he supported (G-Dub, Cheney, Ashcroft, et al.).

Then there's Hillary, making the front page of the NY Times for the way she nods. The good news is that a Chicago Sun columnist actually called bullshit on that whole irritating, lazy, and self-defeating game played by the many hacks who infest the press corps.

The story, prominently placed beneath the masthead and above the fold, was titled, "Clinton Shapes Tough and Tender Image for '08." . . .

But, wow, this 2,263-word story was almost as catty as Ann Coulter. (Scratch that, nothing's cattier than Coulter.) The first three paragraphs described in aching detail how Clinton "meticulously" signs autographs " 'H-i-l-l-a-r-y,' 'R-o-d-h-a-m,' 'C-l-i-n-t-o-n' " . . . no stray lines, no wayward marks . . ." . . .

And then, for t-h-i-r-t-e-e-n paragraphs, the piece deconstructed the candidate's head movements. Yes, head movements.

"Mrs. Clinton is a prodigious nodder . . . in an array of distinctive flavors . . . the stern, deferential nod . . . the empathetic, lips pursed nod . . . the squinty, disbelieving nod . . . the blushing nod."

Sure, it's a decade too late, but pointing out that a major paper like the New York Times is pushing bogus stories like this as 'news' is always welcome. Who knows? Someday it could prevent a war.

Finally, for anyone wondering how in the world anyone can continue to support this administration's corruption, extremism, totalitariansim and bloodletting, this article-- and especially the reader responses-- are well worth reading.

Jim Zumbo, who made a name for himself — and developed a large following — writing about big game hunting for the past 40 years, was on a Remington Arms-sponsored Wyoming coyote hunting trip. He learned during a conversation with one of his guides that a lot of people use military style rifles (M-16 and AK-47 knockoffs) to hunt prairie dogs and coyotes. This surprised Zumbo and he wrote about the situation in his Outdoor Life-sponsored blog. In his posting, Zumbo called the knockoffs “assault” and “terrorist” rifles. He also said their use was bad for the image of hunters and that “game departments should ban them from the prairies and woods.”

Within hours, gun owners from around the world were lathered up and sharpening their Internet knives. Remington Arms took the first cuts; they were swamped by messages from people who threatened to boycott Remington products because of their connection to Zumbo. Remington didn’t hesitate, pulling their sponsorship of Zumbo’s television show from the Outdoor Channel. Soon thereafter, other sponsors, including Mossy Oak and Cabela’s, had severed their relationships with him. These were not just symbolic departures ... these were outfits that regularly gave Zumbo money, lots of it, and now it’s gone. Even Outdoor Life, the venerable outdoor magazine for whom Zumbo has written for decades, fired him as their hunting editor.

And somebody should share that with the 30-something, Hispanic Marine (who loves to remind anyone listening that he's currently attending Princeton) who's recently become quite the right-wing darling. Except that his notoriety resulted in a Guckert/Gannon revelation by someone who appreciated him "for his early, smutty work." But he's got the male-escort-turned-White-House-reporter beat. This male esscort who also advertises on the Net also made a number of gay pornographic films. As in he was paid to have sex in front of a camera so that gay men (maybe an unfair assumption on my part) could purchase those films in adult stores or on the World-Wide Web and manually stimulate themselves. I just wanted to make that very clear, because the very same guy was at the AIPAC conference, where he was photographed with Ann "Gore/Kerry/etc. is a faggot" Coulter.

But he'd like you to know that he's the real victim here. And if it weren't for hateful liberals "digging into his personal life" as an actor in commercially available XXX porn and advertising gay escort, he'd be a happy Republican welcomed with open arms by the inclusive and understanding right. Oh, and he'd also like to remind you that he's a student at Princeton. Which is an Ivy-League school.

Again, the reader comments are priceless. But in a very different way from the RNA boosters.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Red Menace

Although there's been a huge amount of news in the last couple of days, it hasn't exactly been the sort to inspire me to take time away from feeling lousy to post about it. But I really need to catch up.

ITEM! Third scandal for Hillary Clinton in less than two weeks!

There appears to be a grain of truth in the story of "Drawlgate," but the truly sad part was seeing talking points move straight from the right-wing noise machine to "respectable" news outlets. TPM blogger Greg Sargent certainly demonstrated (here, here, and here) that the MSM resuscitated the story solely to cash in on this artificial controversy. While it's certainly arguable that Hillary is as carefully studied and image-conscious as any politician, she's at least as genuine as 'Dubya' is a hard-scrabble man of the people whose Texan heart brims with compassion.

ITEM! Conservative pundits decry trial by a jury of Americans as unfit for nobility!

At least, that's how I see the same old cries about pure-as-the-driven-snow Scooter Libby from the right-wing. Before the trial, Libby was (in the purest conservative sense) the victim of the shadowy left-wing cabal that ran the White House, Congress, the State Department, the Pentagon, etc. After a fair trial by twelve jurors (who showed every sign of taking their role seriously, deliberating long and carefully, and pressing the judge to answer numerous questions about legal issues) found Libby guilty of the charges against him, he's still a victim. In short, American citizens weren't fit to judge his case, seeing as how they wouldn't be up to the task of untangling the Left's web of deceit.

I'd point you to one of the many sites that compiled asinine defenses of Libby, but I'm sure you've already seen at least one. In case you haven't, here are the two lines of argumentation:

1. Libby didn't commit a crime. And even if he did commit a crime, it wasn't his fault. And even if it was his fault, the trial was a sham.

2. Justice-- like finance, economics, education, governance, publishing, law enforcement, the military, and communications-- is far too important to be entrusted to the hoi polloi, and must be put under the control of the responsible, enlightened few. Like me.

ITEM! MSM now stands for Mixed-Signal Manufacturers!

AP headline, March 6, 11:56 AM: 2 Suicide Bombers Kill 93 in Iraq

AP headline, March 6, 12:19 PM: Bush: US, Iraqi Forces Making Progress

And from TNR: "118 Shiite Pilgrims Killed in Iraq Attacks" --front page headline, The Washington Post, March 7, 2007

"Bush lauds 'surge' results" --front page headline, The Washington Times, same day.

ITEM! Inmates still running asylum!

Since I like to end things on something of a positive note, I thought I'd link to this slightly reassuring (but deeply entertaining) look at the GOP frontrunners. And what a sad, creepy bunch they are.

Giuliani: A thrice-married occasional cross-dresser with a penchant for seizing guns while turning a blind eye to illegal immigrants who also thinks cutting taxes on the rich is the be-all and end-all of economic policy isn't going to inspire anyone to wonder what's the matter with Kansas. Next to Giuliani, everyone looks like the candidate for values voters.

He can't decide which state he's from, invested major resources in barely winning a Conservative Political Action Committee straw poll last weekend, and, for his trouble, managed to snag the endorsement of Ann Coulter at the same time she was calling John Edwards a "faggot." [Hey kids! Did you know she was so fond of her new material that she repeated the same rib-tickler in front of a right-wing Christian group after the AIPAC event?]

McCain is old. And sick. And obviously so. He has the misfortune of being both the most conservative candidate in the race and the one most hated by conservatives. His website makes it look like he's campaigning for Führer.

Ahhhh, that helps a bit. I thought I might be ill when I considered the right's reaction to Libby in light of the longstanding-but-suddenly-huge story about US Attorneys being sacked for doing a great job. I'll have to leave that one for another day.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Sick Day

There's some kind of bug going around these days, and I'm battling it-- trying to get better before it gets worse and all. So I'm taking it easy today. I don't need to get all worked up over politics every day.

So I'll just leave you with a pretty cool video from Max Blumenthal of The Nation. Funny thing about Malkin, Coulter, Limbaugh, etc. They completely collapse when the deck isn't stacked in their favor. They both look pretty nervous to learn that the crowd is only 99% friendly. And I absolutely loved the bit about the Confederate lapel pin.

Friday, March 02, 2007

I'm the Understander

I'm sure someone else has already used that oh-so-clever line as the title of a blog post, but the ol' War Room has outdone itself with this post-- which rather nicely sums up Bush's shameful, mortifying trip to Louisiana. After all, the Bush administration has managed to jump a row of twenty sharks. On a tricycle.

One thing Bush likes to do in the Gulf Coast is hand out American flags to families rebuilding their houses. Long before he shows up, Bush’s advance team scouts the non-hostile property owners in a neighborhood, and later, the president drops by and gives the family a flag. The White House thinks this makes for good pictures — and maybe it did, a month after the storm. But a year and half later, with the region still a mess and so many people displaced, it seems a little tone-deaf to be handing out flags — politically, it does invite comparisons to what Bush isn’t doing in the region.

Anyway, here's the piece from Salon. Most of it, anyway.

At Lil Dizzy's Café in New Orleans Thursday, George W. Bush said: "I fully understand that there are frustrations and I want to know the frustrations. And to the extent we can help, we'll help."

It sounded a little familiar to us, and now we know why: Say what you will about the president's intellectual capabilities, the man fully understands an awful lot of things.

Among them:

Education: "I fully understand that if you read your newspaper articles -- which I do sometimes -- and listen carefully, you'll hear voices in both parties saying they don't like No Child Left Behind: It's too much testing, or, we don't want to be held to account, or whatever they say. The bill is working. It makes a lot of sense."

How Iraq would turn out: "I fully understand the consequences of what we're doing. We're changing the world. And the world will be better off and America will be more secure as a result of the actions we're taking."

How Iraq will turn out: "I told the American people I fully understand there are differences of opinion. But one of the things I have discovered is, in Washington, D.C., most people understand the consequences of failure."

Oh yes, there's more. Maybe I should've ended the blogging day with the Gore piece instead of a reminder that, well... you know.

Al Gore Friday

People have been reporting lately that the word is Al is out for 2008. Which I think is tragic. But Joe Conason managed to put a smile on my face with this story about the man who I'd like to think is at least leading a prosperous and happy America in some other timeline.

Had the recent adoration of Gore been accompanied by any sign of healthy introspection among those who once savaged him, there might be reason to hope that they've learned something from this extraordinarily costly lesson. But as usual, mainstream commentators prefer to write as if they suffer from severe amnesia (as well as database deprivation) -- and to pretend that everyone else does, too.

Consider Maureen Dowd, a perceptive and often witty columnist who understands very well how destructive the Bush presidency has been to her beloved country. Just the other day Dowd acknowledged in the New York Times that we and the world would be in considerably better shape today had Gore -- whom she described as "prescient on climate change, the Internet, terrorism and Iraq" -- ascended to the Oval Office instead of the current occupant. But she neither noted the guilt of the media in that travesty nor recalled her own starring role. This compilation of her past columns on the subject of Gore, replete with false accusations and trendy sneering, is must reading.

Particularly catty and revealing is a quote from a 1999 column in which she suggested that Gore's environmentalism raised questions about his masculinity. But that was simply one episode among dozens that continued well after the 2000 election cycle. When the former vice president dared to voice his anger about the bloody debacle in Iraq two years ago, the Times columnist sweetly lumped him in with "the wackadoo wing of the Democratic Party." He had to be nuts to be upset about the lies that led us into war, didn't he?

Sigh. What might have been.


This MSNBC story, which has been on the MSN portal all day, has a whole lot of information, but virtually nothing to reveal about Clinton. It's just bad, hacky journalism trying one more time to create controversy out of thin air. Granted, hiding in the shrubbery and peeping through their windows made some "journalists" very rich in the nineties-- and it's still a cash cow for cheap demagogues like Limbaugh and O'Reilly.

I suppose it's a little more juicy than the earlier front page WaPo headline that hinted menacingly at ethical lapses, only to reveal over the course of the article that the nefarious Senator had (Gasp!) under-reported her charitable donations.

Somehow I missed the entire "Hillary Clinton's Thesis" episode, which suggests to me that it was confined to wingnut radio, Fox News, and ideology-driven columnists. And the fetishistic obsession with a forty-year-old college paper as a "Rosetta Stone" for her psyche is on a par with sasquatch hunters and Rothschild conspiracists-- and just one step away from sending ninja to retrieve one of the senator's hairs for a voodoo doll.

*David Brock, in his 1996 biography, "The Seduction of Hillary Rodham," called her "Alinsky's daughter." [No mention of Brock admitting that he was a paid operative of the right back then who now champions responsible journalism as the man behind Media Matters.]

* Barbara Olson, the conservative lawyer and commentator, used an Alinsky quote to open every chapter of her 1999 book, "Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton." Olson, who died in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, had charged in her book that the thesis was locked away because Clinton "does not want the American people to know the extent to which she internalized and assimilated the beliefs and methods of Saul Alinsky."

* A purloined copy was offered for sale on eBay in 2001, then withdrawn when Clinton's staff cited copyright law.

* Bill O'Reilly waved a few pages on Fox TV in 2003, chiding Wellesley for hiding Clinton's analysis of a "far left" activist.

* Peggy Noonan, the former Reagan speechwriter writing in The Wall Street Journal in 2005, decried the continued suppression of "the Rosetta Stone of Hillary studies."

* Just last month, an anonymous commentator lamented on the conservative Web site Free Republic, "She's a Marxist. Saul Alinsky's student. I sure wish we could unearth that sealed thesis of hers that she wrote at Wellesley."

The punchline? The thesis has been free and open to the public for six years. In other words, one phone call to Wellesley College would've put the kibbosh on this whole story. But, typically, that isn't the author's point. After revealing that this is all a big nothing, he goes on for another two pages about all this... nothing. Which is to say he lends credibility to a story that he's already debunked.

So it's total crap, the right is being credibility where they deserve none (again!), and the press, along with the Republican party, is still obsessed with Hillary Clinton.

And after reading the article, it occurred to me-- in line with the idea that some violent homophobes are closet cases, how many freepers and Fox fans occasionally rub one out while imagining themselves sniffing Hillary's drawers? Or walking on them in spike-heeled boots? Not something I'd care to dwell on much, but between Rush and his sack of Viagra in a country notorious for child prostitution, the story of O'Reilly spanking it while making obscene calls to an underling, or vocally anti-gay Ted Haggard's fall from grace, you've got to wonder.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

When failure smells like success.

Here's an uplifting sort of article from the Prospect.

It seems unimaginable today, but I remember a time when people used to say "Tom Vilsack" and "president" in the same sentence and no one clucked. This was 2001 or 2002; he was a moderate governor of a swing state, the first Democrat elected governor in Iowa in 30 years when he won back in 1998. He was a darling of the Democratic Leadership Council, which, like it or not, seemed then to be in a position of power in championing Democratic candidates. . . .

When Vilsack dropped out of the race last week, he was confirming the obvious -- not only in terms of money, his stated reason for leaving, but also in terms of what's happened in the last five years. Vilsack's profile was now jaggedly out of tune with the times. I don't think it's a coincidence that he threw in the towel only days after his ludicrous announcement that he'd consider indexing Social Security benefits to prices rather than wages, a change that would open the door to privatization.

But there's more! Consider recent revelations from the Romney camp that right-wingers are not only firmly in control of the GOP, but they still have just one strategy:

The leaked Romney campaign document that The Boston Globe published Tuesday only confirmed matters. Here's a man who wants to become president by running against ... France! Gee -- maybe he'll issue an executive order dictating that our school cafeterias use "Freedom dressing" when they serve our children salad!

The memo got one thing right. His hair is too perfect, and it does make him look shallow. But from what we've seen of him so far, the hair makes the man.

I just wish someone would hand this to Clinton immediately before her DLC-inspired waffling and tortured "explanations" lead her down the path of Gore and Kerry-- she's already getting the endless abuse from the press.

The Horror in the Museum

It's tough for me to get a finger on the pervasiveness of the corporatist mindset in this country. As the 80s wound down, I was in high school and the word 'yuppie' had long since become a punchline. The corporate scandals of the decade -- Ivan Boesky, the Keating Five S&L fiasco (starring a Bush brother and John McCain), and the DeLorean guy-- replaced the advent of the CEO-as-hero mindset and brought lots of hand-wringing about the consumerist lifestyle and the corruption in big business. Then it was all Generation X, fed up with commercialism, onto Park Avenue's every trick.

But something big was happening in the nineties. Those nefarious scammers and robber barons hadn't been dealt with at all. In fact, they'd multiplied, finding new homes in higher education and the arts. And at the Smithsonian, where a business model no more sophisticated than Enron style get-rich-quickery has carried the day, resulting in fat paychecks for those causing the problems, and blocking the truly committed and passionate from having any say in the matter.

This was awkward in part because the owner, Lawrence Small, was head of the Smithsonian, one of the nation's premiere cultural institutions. And then there was the problem of his shifting stories. In December 2000, Small told Architectural Digest that he had legally purchased many of the artifacts while traveling through South America in the 1980s. But, when wildlife officials questioned him less than a year later, he claimed he had bought the bulk of his collection from an anthropologist in North Carolina in 1998 for about $400,000. After months of sifting through over 1,000 Amazonian artifacts, ornithologists and mammologists from the agency discovered that over 200 of the objets d'art contained feathers from protected birds, including the crested caracara and the roseate spoonbill. On January 5, 2004, a U.S. attorney in Raleigh, North Carolina, filed charges against Small for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Small pleaded out to a class B misdemeanor; a federal judge ordered that he serve two years probation and 100 hours community service.

The entire article is well worth reading-- it's a carbon copy of the Bush administration, writ small but still looting the treasury and contributing nothing but incompetence and ruin.