As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Well this is kind of interesting

Crossfire, 5/31/05:

(former Secy. of State Lawrence) EAGLEBURGER: Probably. You know, President Nixon once suspected him. I'm surprised he didn't end up dead somewhere because of that. But nevertheless, I think he did suspect it.

Someone should ask Mr. Eagleburger if he has knowledge of any other Nixon enemies that ended up dead. You know, in case there are any unsolved crimes out there.

...Incidentally, didn't CNN announce the cancellation of Crossfire like 6 months ago? Are you getting the feeling that was just a dodge to get the heat off the show after the Jon Stewart thing? I think the plan is to just keep it around, and hope we forget they said they cancelled it.


Friday, June 03, 2005

They Get Letters

Dear LA Times:

Gee, thanks for today's editorial ("Deep Throat Was Right: Follow the Money," 6/3/05) providing a forum for Nixon speechwriter Pat Buchanan to give his thoughts on the recently unmasked "Deep Throat," whose divulging of secrets to Washington Post reporters helped bring down Nixon. I would never have guessed that a Nixon speechwriter would think negatively about Deep Throat, and question his motives. Thanks for getting this out there.

And I'm glad you didn't question the Nixon speechwriter's motives in defending Nixon, because that would just be tactless.

For balance, I hope you print Haldeman and Ehrlichman's take on the issue soon.



Thursday, June 02, 2005

President Falls Down Tiny Hole in WH Floorboards; Secret Service Alerted

Anyone remember the President? He's certainly not having that easy a time getting his second-term agenda passed. His visibility events (some might say pseudo-events) on Social Security as generating about enough energy to keep a light bulb going for 15 minutes (low wattage). And he doesn't even get a courtesy call when the White House is evacuated.

Maybe that's because he has lost his proverbial mojo:

Two days after winning reelection last fall, President Bush declared that he had earned plenty of "political capital, and now I intend to spend it." Six months later, according to Republicans and Democrats alike, his bank account has been significantly drained.

In the past week alone, the Republican-led House defied his veto threat and passed legislation promoting stem cell research; Senate Democrats blocked confirmation, at least temporarily, of his choice for U.N. ambassador; and a rump group of GOP senators abandoned the president in his battle to win floor votes for all of his judicial nominees.

With his approval ratings in public opinion polls at the lowest level of his presidency, Bush has been stymied so far in his campaign to restructure Social Security. On the international front, violence has surged again in Iraq in recent weeks, dispelling much of the optimism generated by the purple-stained-finger elections back in January, while allies such as Egypt and Uzbekistan have complicated his campaign to spread democracy.

Well, what do you expect when you take a 51% "man-date" a govern like it's a 100% Kim Jong Il landslide?

"He has really burned up whatever mandate he had from that last election," said Leon E. Panetta, who served as White House chief of staff during President Bill Clinton's second term. "You can't slam-dunk issues in Washington. You can't just say, 'This is what I want done' and by mandate get it done. It's a lesson everybody has to learn, and sometimes you learn it the hard way."

It's the word "learn" I disagree with in that soundbite. Because that's really not the modus operandi of this White House. There are no mistakes to learn from. There are no opposing viewpoints to learn about. There are no compromises to learn and implement. There is only the One True Way of tax-the-poor, spend-the-surplus, corporate theo-conservative kleptocracy. And even Republicans are on to this:

"There is a growing sense of frustration with the president and the White House, quite frankly," said an influential Republican member of Congress. "The term I hear most often is 'tin ear,' " especially when it comes to pushing Social Security so aggressively at a time when the public is worried more about jobs and gasoline prices. "We could not have a worse message at a worse time."

If it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it's a duck, and a lame one to boot. What should scare everyone in this country is the knowledge that the only way out of this morass is another rat-a-tat-tat of the war drums. However, you'd need an Army to fight that, which is frankly in negligible supply. Not that any of the war hawks or conservative pundits or 101st Fighting Keyboarders are rushing to the recruiting offices (nor are they urging any of their fellow citizens to do so; it's the first-ever war without sacrifice).

But I'll wager that this Incredible Shrinking President will continue to blather away about cultures of life and presonal accounts, thinking that everything's hunky-dory since nobody would dare tell him anything's wrong. When they secretly replace the desk in the Oval Office with a set of Barbie furniture, he won't notice. When his toothbrush becomes a toothpick with a couple whiskers stapled on the front, he'll suspect nothing. When he's able to ride around in Dick Cheney's bad ticker like Martin Short in "Innerspace," I'm sure he'll just think it's some newfangled bike path. Surely the most powerful man in the free world can assemble enough advisers and handlers to shield him from the fact that he's only 16 inches high.

He'd just better damn well hope the folks at Diebold can hold off a Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006. Because then those twilight years will be summed up in two words: subpoena power.


Give Me A Frickin' Break

From over at Media Matters:

MSNBC analyst Pat Buchanan, nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh, and conservative author and TV personality Ben Stein suggested that, through their role in exposing the Watergate scandal, which resulted in the resignation of President Richard Nixon, newly disclosed "Deep Throat" W. Mark Felt and Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were responsible for the fall of South Vietnam and the genocide in Cambodia that left approximately 1.7 million people dead.

BUCHANAN: There's something deadly serious here. People that brought down Nixon also resulted in the fall of South Vietnam, the death of hundreds of thousands of people. ... Nixon was brought down by people who were a hell of a lot worse than he was. [MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, 5/31/05]

LIMBAUGH: Had they not brought down Nixon, we wouldn't have lost Vietnam. Had [they] not brought down Nixon, the Khmer Rouge would not have come to power and murdered two million people in a full-fledged genocide. [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 6/1/05]

STEIN: When his [Nixon's] enemies brought him down, and they had been laying for him since he proved that Alger Hiss was a traitor, since Alger Hiss was their fair-haired boy, this is what they bought for themselves in the Kharma Supermarket that is life:

1.) The defeat of the South Vietnamese government with decades of death and hardship for the people of Vietnam.

2.) The assumption of power in Cambodia by the bloodiest government of all time, the Khmer Rouge, who killed a third of their own people, often by making children beat their own parents to death. No one doubts RN [Richard Nixon] would never have let this happen. [The American Spectator, 6/1/05]

This is clearly some kind of GOP talking point.

Let me see. Who was President after Nixon? Ford. Who was Ford's Chief of Staff? Don Rumsfeld, you might have heard of him. Who was Deputy Chief of Staff? Guy named Cheney. Cheney then replaced Rumsfeld when Rummy became Secretary of Defense under Ford.

Now, you're not calling these guys incompetent, are you? You're not saying they lost Vietnam and brought about the Khmer Rouge? Surely not!

I didn't know Bob Woodward and Mark Felt briefly became President for a day in April 1975 during the fall of Saigon.


EU Sinking (for now)

Dutch voters have joined the French in rejecting the EU Constitution. While the EU will remain an economic force, these are two serious blows to establishing themselves as a political force, with a foreign minister and a functional hierarchy. The perception that Europe does not want to integrate will likely have an economic impact as well.

When your country measures its lifespan in the thousands rather than the hundreds, it's not surprising that your citizens would cherish their sovereignty and be loath to give it up without careful consideration. This is actually a dodge for the US, who would absolutely be affected by a United States of Europe (our corporations already are; in fact, most of them adhere to many environmental standards that don't exist stateside because of the implications of breaking into the European market).

This kicker line in the story is very illuminating:

"In the countries that haven't voted yet, the people have the right to have their voices heard and their parliaments have the right to speak their piece,'' Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean- Claude Juncker told a Brussels press conference late yesterday.

"One is forced to observe tonight that Europe is no longer the stuff of dreams,'' he said.

I'm sure the right considers European unification as a pipe dream, a subject without need for concern. But the reality of it is probably inevitable, once they work out a compromise amenable to the major players. As it has such long-term effects on our foreign policy, it's pretty crucial we pay attention. A strong Europe can help us economically and reducing our peacekeeping burden globally. I'm sure there's a perception that we're the only superpower on the block and nobody ought to try to get to our level. But without the paranoia inherent in that worldview, unified Europe could be a very positive thing for this country. And it's going to happen eventually, so we might as well prepare for it.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Game of Chicken

This past Sunday, the Times of London reported that US and UK air forces were bombing the shit out of Iraq in 2002, hoping to bait them into a provocation to start the war. In other words, not only had Bush drawn up war plans, he and his allies were already fighting the war before declaring it.

Nice, huh?

THE RAF and US aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs on Iraq in 2002 in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war, new evidence has shown.

The attacks were intensified from May, six months before the United Nations resolution that Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, argued gave the coalition the legal basis for war. By the end of August the raids had become a full air offensive.

The new information, obtained by the Liberal Democrats, shows that the allies dropped twice as many bombs on Iraq in the second half of 2002 as they did during the whole of 2001, and that the RAF increased their attacks even more quickly than the Americans did.

Tommy Franks, the allied commander, has since admitted this operation was designed to “degrade” Iraqi air defences in the same way as the air attacks that began the 1991 Gulf war.

Meanwhile, the indomitable John Conyers continues to ask questions:

"If true, these assertions indicate that not only had our nation secretly and perhaps illegally agreed to go to war by the summer of 2002, but that we had gone on to take specific and tangible military actions before asking Congress or the United Nations for authority," the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee pens.

This time, however, the congressman demands more than answers. In his letter, Conyers will request all computer files relating to questions surrounding the planning stages of the Iraq war.

"In connection with all of the above questions, please provide me with any memorandum, notes, minutes, documents, phone and other records, e-mails, computer files (including back-up records) or other material of any kind or nature concerning or relating thereto in the possession or accessible by the Department of Defense," he writes.

He'll get nowhere with this, of course (we can't even get the names of the energy officials Cheney met with 4 years ago), but this kind of stuff shows an arrogance, a dismissal of any challenge to power that I think Americans smell coming a mile away. The bungling of this war, and the subterfuges used to get us into it, will remain on this Administration like a foul stench throughout this next term.

It doesn't matter if the deluded Vice President claims that "the insurgency is in the last throes" and that major combat will end by 2009 (this in a month of at least 77 US casualties, the largest of the year). Saying "we're winning" doesn't make it true, any more than saying "Saddam has WMD" made it true. The truth appears to be: war as a foregone conclusion before Congressional approval; trashing of postwar plans based on canards that "we'll be greeted with flowers"; not enough troops on the ground and shortages filling the regiments at home; looting and chaos leading to a dug-in insurgency network; almost inevitable civil war. Those are the freedom-hating facts. Wishing won't change them.

Once again, I'll mention Downing Street Memo as an excellent place to learn about this travesty and see what you can do to help raise awareness.


We Make No Distinction...

...between terrorists and those states who harbor them.

Wasn't that what the President said, just 9 days after September 11th?

Then why are we harboring a known, confessed terrorists within our borders, and refusing to give him up to the country wherein he did the crimes?

Oh, because he's ex-CIA:

He is a man that time has left behind, and on Wednesday the Bush administration tried to figure out how to reconcile its war on terrorism with its treatment of a onetime ally accused of terrorist acts.

Castro and the Venezuelan government have said the U.S. will be applying a double standard in fighting terrorism if it does not act to ensure that Posada faces trial in the 1976 bombing of an airliner that killed 73 people.

The Cuban exile, 77, once worked with the CIA during its tooth-and-claw war on leftist radicals in Latin America. Now, instead of being hailed as an anticommunist hero, he is drawing little support even from Florida's Cuban American community.

And his presence in the United States is a problem, not a source of pride, for the Bush administration, which remains hostile to Castro but more concerned about its credibility in the war on terrorism.

An administration official said Wednesday that the United States would probably seek out a country willing to accept Posada but also willing to pledge that it would not deport him to Cuba or Venezuela, which has called on the United States to extradite him for alleged involvement in the airliner bombing. Venezuela has often acted on Cuba's behalf, and U.S. law prohibits extradition to such countries.

I don't know what country that's going to be, since Brazil, El Salvador, Great Britain, and of course Venezuela and Cuba have all called for Posada Carriles' extradition. It's not a good situation to be in when Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez can lecture you about terrorism and double standards. In fact, Chavez is surging in popularity because of this situation:

Mr. Chávez... is emerging as this generation's Castro - a charismatic figure and self-styled revolutionary who bearhugs his counterparts on state visits, inspires populist left-wing movements and draws out fervent well-wishers from Havana to Buenos Aires.

Like Mr. Castro, Mr. Chávez is burnishing his image by mining latent anti-American sentiment and capitalizing on Washington's mistakes, like the tacit support the White House gave to a short-lived coup against him in 2002.

He is now getting mileage out of the case of Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban-American exile and anti-Castro warrior accused of bombing a Cuban airliner.

Mr. Chávez has demanded that the United States, which is holding Mr. Posada Carriles, return him to Venezuela, his base of operations at the time of the bombing. Mr. Chávez has repeatedly accused the United States of having a double standard on terrorism, coming down hard on those it perceives as its enemies and pulling its punches with an accused terrorist at war with Washington's longtime nemesis, Mr. Castro.

The strategy is classic Castro, but Mr. Chávez has one great advantage the Cuban leader never had - the richest oil reserves outside the Middle East, a gusher of cash that he is using to weave ever closer diplomatic and commercial ties with Latin American nations.

And by holding Posada Carriles, we do nothing but give Chavez credibility. The US has already tried to overthrow him in a coup attempt once, in 2002. He now enjoys 70% popular support in his country. He's an enemy of the US. And he has a wellspring of oil under his control.

How long before the words "regime change" tumble out of Dick Cheney's mouth?


Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Inside Deep Throat

Arguably the biggest, most well-kept secret of the 20th century was revealed today, and not by some guy on Free Republic either, but by ABC News:

WASHINGTON May 31, 2005 — Breaking a silence of 30 years, former FBI official W. Mark Felt stepped forward Tuesday as Deep Throat, the secret Washington Post source that helped bring down President Nixon during the Watergate scandal.

Within hours, the paper confirmed his claim.

"It's the last secret" of the story, said Ben Bradlee, the paper's top editor at the time the riveting political drama played out three decades ago.

The piece is kind of fascinating, well worth reading. I'm just shocked that there was a time when the #2 guy at the FBI was a fellow Jew.

And speaking from experience, I'd gather that he's the only Jew ever to be nicknamed "Deep Throat."

That's as close as I get to a dick joke, people, so yuk it up. the way, lest anyone think that this revelation will inspire current Administration officials to come forward and be whistle-blowers, the top headline at yesterday was "Is Paris Hilton ready for marriage?" See, for that whole Watergate scenario to work, you need a journalist.


Stop By the Cafe

Josh Marshall really doesn't need my help, but his latest venture, TPM Cafe, is a fantastic site. It's something like 6 or 7 blogs in one, a space to hash out ideas on a variety of topics, not all of them political. There's a great assortment of writers on board, from Todd Gitlin to Judith Shulevitz to Matthew Yglesias, and the "table for one" guest blogger section this week features John Edwards. I love the layout and the opportunity for commentary. Yet another major blog on the left is allowing interaction with its audience, as opposed to the right, where most of them have none (I'm thinking of Instapundit and Powerline in particular).

TPM Cafe, Kos, and, to a lesser degree, The Huffington Post are reimaging blogs as more like destinations than the views of a single commentator. They're more like portals.

Anyway, you should take a look.


Monday, May 30, 2005

Why Can't We Just CG the Pothole?

Being that my state's governor is more used to taking questions on Entertainment Tonight rather than the NewsHour, and creating publicity stunts rather than substantive policies, should anyone be surprised by this latest boneheaded move?

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger traveled to a quiet San Jose neighborhood Thursday, and -- dogged by protesters -- filled a pothole dug by city crews just a few hours before, as part of an attempt to dramatize his efforts to increase money for transportation projects.

Schwarzenegger strode toward television cameras on Laguna Seca Way to the sounds of the Doobie Brothers' "Taking it to the Streets,'' while flanked by 10 San Jose city road workers wearing Day-Glo vests and work gear. After speeches by the governor and city officials, a dump truck backed up and unloaded a mound of black asphalt and, as television cameras recorded the moment, Schwarzenegger joined the work crew, taking up a broom and filling the 10-by-15-foot hole, later smoothed over by a massive roller truck.

I guess he couldn't find a stunt-double to lift the shovel on such short notice.

But you know, it's not just that Arnold filled a pothole he created (a perfect metaphor for his tenure in office, now that you think of it). It's the absolute shamelessness, the sleaziness, the movie-set fakeness, the contempuousness of the entire pseudo-event:

The governor's brief San Jose appearance, announced at the last minute, left some residents scratching their heads.

"For paving the streets, it's a lot of lighting,'' said resident Nick Porrovecchio, 48, motioning to a team of workmen setting up Hollywood-style floodlights on the street to bathe the gubernatorial podium in a soft glow... their street, he noted, didn't even have a hole to pave over until Thursday morning.

"They just dug it out,'' Porrovecchio said, shrugging. "There was a crack. But they dug out the whole road this morning.''

"It's a lot of money spent on a staged event,'' said Matt Vujevich, 74, a retiree whose home faced the crew-made trench that straddled nearly the whole street. "We still have the same problems. Everything's a press conference.''

Media advisories for the morning San Jose event were not issued until two hours before it started, and -- in an unusual move -- reporters were not provided with a location, but told to assemble in a parking lot where directions were distributed.

Indeed, the traffic event was such a well-kept secret that a row of spectator seats was mostly unfilled. City officials, road workers and media outnumbered neighbors, many of whom said they learned the governor was around only because of heavy police presence.

This contemptuousness spills over into his disgust for the very "people" that this purportedly populist governor loves to associate himself with. This is an amazing set pf paragraphs:

The governor, asked Thursday whether the stealth schedule suggested he has been bothered by his vocal opponents, blithely dismissed them, saying most "are paid by the unions to protest.''

"These are all people who want to stop progress. These are all people that are fighting for the status quo ... all the people that have created the problems in the first place,'' he said.

The governor said he also was unconcerned about criticism that he should be in Sacramento working on budget issues, saying "the biggest mistake you can make is to stick around in the Capitol ... and not be with the people.''

You mean the people that are protesting you? Those people, the ones that are just being paid by unions to protest? How Arnold can get away with being dismissive of the people and then presuming to share common cause with them in the space of a sentence is beyond me.

And anyone who thinks this guy is anything approaching a man of the people, check this shit:

As anyone who has worked on a commercial shoot knows, every single prop and piece of scenery that is seen in a commercial gets placed there carefully and purposefully. The chance that a certain product or logo could make it into the frame without getting there by explicit design is precisely zero.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's new commercial is filled with conspicuously placed products. And these products just so happen to be sold by major contributors to his campaign.

Good Lord. We've managed to become so deadened by celebrity-gazing that one of the most progressive states in the Union has been seduced by a corporate shill. Nothing more. The fact that any governor has often had his likeness on McDonald's souvenir drink cups should have been a red flag. This is not someone who wants to overthrow the status quo. He IS the status quo, keeping the masses happy and ignorant watching 'splosions and ass-kicking while setting in motion his real agenda to line corporate pockets and force-feed whatever swill they're selling this week down our collective throats. And the media, particularly in the dominant television medium, who are so dazed by the mere shine of his celebrity, are willing co-conspirators, mouths agape while forgetting to report on this travesty.

Angelides for Governor in 2006. No more pothole events. No more imagined reality. No more bullshit.


Memorial Day

This is a moment where we should, in particular, reflect on our servicemen in Iraq, who are in the midst of a growing chaos.

We should also reflect on me, because I have to work today.

This story, by the way, which details how US forces detained a Sunni leader in Iraq "in error," could be one of those moments that sparks civil war. I hope not.