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

Saturday, July 02, 2005


Seems that Lawrence O'Donnell, and now Newsweek, is reporting that Karl Rove may have been the main leaker in the Valerie Plame case. That would certainly explain why he emerged from the shadows last week with that "liberals wanted to give Osama therapy" speech; if he's on the collar for this, he'll need all the help he can get. Others think the real issue is perjury; that Rove, who has testified before the grand jury, might have said he never spoke to Time's Matt Cooper about Plame, and the now-turned-over notes prove this to be a falsehood.

Just when everybody's steeling for a Supreme Court fight, "The Architect" getting hauled into court would not be the most auspicious of beginnings.

I'll be popping open a Fresca and watching this one with relish. I did mention before that the way in which this came about, by Time forcibly releasing the notes to the grand jury, left a poor taste in my mouth. But what leaves an even poorer one is the notion that literally dozens of other reporters apparently had this information, and none of them came forward to the grand jury. Not the press corps members who wrote or wanted to write stories about it, mind you; I'm talking about colleagues. O'Donnell himself said "I don't want to get hauled before the grand jury, but Rove did it." That kind of talk signals to me that it was an open secret. So ordinary citizens, journalists who weren't protecting sources, knew about the uncovering of a CIA agent, and just sat on the news?

Digby is wondering the same thing:

This is a very interesting professional and ethical question for the media. Does the reporter's privilege extend to his friends? Here you apparently have quite a few members of the DC press corps with a piece of very juicy information (allegedly) about the most powerful political operative in the United States --- information that also has to do with an important matter of national security and a Justice department investigation. In some sort of friendship extension of the reporter's privilege they say nothing. Amazing.

And during the time they say nothing an election is held in which the political operative in question works feverishly to smear his client's opponent with scurrilous charges of borderline treason and cowardly behavior during wartime. The entire election is premised on the fact that the president, this man's client, is the only one capable of handling national security. His prior campaign had been waged with an overt promise to bring honor and integrity back to the White House. Still nothing.

Finally, when their friend seems headed to jail and his boss has agreed to turn over notes, they start to step up and reveal what they know.

Hookay. I think it's time to convene another conference on blogger ethics and professional journalistic standards. I get so confused about these things.


Friday, July 01, 2005

Corporate Democrats Sell Out, Take 864

The Senate approved CAFTA with 10 Democrats crossing party lines to vote for it. Somehow, none of these 10 (Bingaman (NM), Cantwell (WA), Carper (DE), Feinstein (CA), Lincoln (AR), Murray (WA), Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Pryor (AR), Wyden (OR), plus Jeffords the independent) have learned the lessons of NAFTA, that when you open trade with countries without established labor and environmental standards, you turn on the vaccuum to make Ross Perot's "giant sucking sound," and make life miserable for manufacturing workers everywhere. Union workers get their jobs taken away, lose their power in collective bargaining, and generally continue to see the industrial base in this country erode. Globally, workers are forced to endure even more hardship, with larger corporations in charge, making it even more difficult to challenge them.

The bill faces more strident opposition in the House. On this count I do see much reason to call your reporesentative. Without global labor and environmental standards we all lose.


Operation Fake Memos Ends (again)

I wonder if Captain Ed is still insisting that the Downing Street Memos are fake, now that the Prime Minister of Britain, who might know, has AGAIN confirmed their veracity:

Adam Price: Does the Prime Minister still regard Sir Richard Dearlove as having been a reliable source of information on Iraq? If so, is it safe to assume that Sir Richard's statement in the summer of 2002 that the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy was an accurate assessment of the intentions and actions of the Bush Administration?

The Prime Minister: As I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows, that memo and other documents of the time were covered by the Butler review. In addition, that was before we went to the United Nations and secured the second resolution, 1441, which had unanimous support. Contrary to the hon. Gentleman's view, when I stood next to the new Prime Minister of Iraq, who had five of his relatives assassinated by Saddam, and realised that he was in power because of the democratic votes of 8 million Iraqis, I was glad that we took the action that we did and ensured that Iraq was no longer governed by a dictatorship but by a democracy.

I know there were a lot of posts to be written about font technology and superscripts, but sadly, it's not to be. And I was so looking forward to them.


The Moderate Voice

Let us not forget, in all this talk of Sandra Day O'Connor as a "swing vote" and a "voice of moderation," who this lady really is:

[A]t an election-night party on Nov. 7, surrounded for the most part by friends and familiar acquaintances, [Justice O'Connor] let her guard drop for a moment when she heard the first critical returns shortly before 8 p.m. Sitting in her hostess's den, staring at a small black-and-white television set, she visibly started when CBS anchor Dan Rather called Florida for Al Gore. "This is terrible," she exclaimed. She explained to another partygoer that Gore's reported victory in Florida meant that the election was "over," since Gore had already carried two other swing states, Michigan and Illinois.

Moments later, with an air of obvious disgust, she rose to get a plate of food, leaving it to her husband to explain her somewhat uncharacteristic outburst. John O'Connor said his wife was upset because they wanted to retire to Arizona, and a Gore win meant they'd have to wait another four years. O'Connor, the former Republican majority leader of the Arizona State Senate and a 1981 Ronald Reagan appointee, did not want a Democrat to name her successor. Two witnesses described this extraordinary scene to Newsweek. Responding through a spokesman at the high court, O'Connor had no comment.

Read that whole article. It's clear her vote on Bush v. Gore was completely tainted by personal interests. Then, after a few years to take the heat off, she makes the decision she always wanted to make, leaving her seat on the bench in Republican hands.

In our system, that's her right, and nobody can stop her, but the fact that it influenced arguably the most important SCOTUS decision of the last 20 years is disgusting.



Big news indeed. I tend to be pretty pessimistic that the President will suddenly find a consensus bone in his body and reach out across party lines on this one. This is obviously his chance to make a legacy for himself. And he's shown no inclination to do so with any other judicial appointments. Also, the guy was elected to two terms, sort of, and he clearly feels that he still has enough of a mandate to put his kind of conservative on the bench. Additionally, this will shift the focus away from Iraq, Social Security, and all of the other things dragging down this penalty. He'll WANT a Supreme Court fight; he'll relish it.

So I'd put up all the names and numbers of who to call and email to plead for moderation in this nomination, but I'm pretty sure it won't do a hell of a lot of good. We'll all have to deal with the aftermath after a nominee is selected.

It's nice to think that a groundswell of public support for moderation in advance of a nominee will somehow sway the White House's viewpoint. It's also nice to think about flowers and trees and magical unicorns.


Thursday, June 30, 2005

(Certain) Reporter's Privilege

I want to see some closure in the Valerie Plame case as much as the next guy, but I certainly don't feel comfortable about a parent company handing over a reporter's notes and revealing his sources. I've written for a couple of magazines (not as a news journalist, per se), and I believe journalists ought to have a right to protect their sources, particularly when the reporter in question didn't even reveal the leak of Plame's name. I understand somewhat that, in Novakula's case, he abetted the commission of a federal crime by naming Plame. But Matt Cooper at Time and Judith Miller at the New York Times (who I have my own problems with) did no such thing.

By the way, Novakula himself is testy, testy, testy:

ED HENRY: In general, have you cooperated with investigators in this case?

BOB NOVAK: I can't answer any questions about this case at all.

HENRY: OK. Now, just in general about the principle at stake here -- William Safire, fellow conservative, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times saying that at the very least, he believes that you owe your readers, and in this case, your viewers, some explanation. He said, "Mr. Novak should finally write the column he owes readers and colleagues perhaps explaining how his two sources, who may have truthfully revealed themselves to investigators, managed to get the prosecutor off his back." I think that's the question. Why sit that there are two reporters out there who may go to jail, Bob, but it doesn't appear that you are going to go to jail?

NOVAK: Well, that's what I can't reveal until this case is finished. I hope it is finished soon. And when it does, I agree with Mr. Safire, I will reveal all in a column and on the air.

HENRY: Do you understand why in general there's frustration among fellow journalist[s] after 41 years of distinguished work, where you've always pushed and been a fierce advocate of the public's right to know, you're not letting the public know about such a critical case, and two people may go to jail.

NOVAK: Well, they are not going to jail because of me. Whether I answer your questions or not, it has nothing to do with that. That's very ridiculous to think that I am the cause of their going to jail. I don't think they should be going to jail.

HENRY: Yes. But I didn't say you were the cause. But there are some people...

NOVAK: Yes, you did.

HENRY: No, but some people feel if you would come forward with the information that you have, that maybe they would not go to jail.

NOVAK: But you don't know -- Ed, you don't know anything about the case. And those people who say that don't know anything about the case. And unfortunately, as somebody who likes to write, I'd like to say a lot about the case, but because of my attorney's advice I can't. But I will. And there might be some surprising things.

It can't be seen as shocking that somebody who's spent four decades challenging the subjects of his columns doesn't like to be challenged himself. Nor is it surprising that he makes no ethical connection whatsoever about the consequences of his actions. The hatchet man isn't going to just get a conscience overnight. I'm just surprised that he would deign to come on the air at all, considering he's carefully avoided the question for years:

The one ground rule for my interview with Novak for this article, conveyed to me by his assistant, Kathleen, was that I could not ask him any questions about the Plame case. It wasn't that Novak wouldn't answer such questions; that was so obvious as almost to go without saying. But if I raised the topic in any way, she told me, “the interview will be immediately terminated.” The morning of the scheduled interview, Kathleen called me to say that Mr. Novak wanted to “make sure” I understood that if the Plame case came up during our talk, the interview would be over. I assured her that I got the picture....

Colleagues like (Paul) Begala say that they don't question Novak about the Plame case out of personal loyalty. “Look, he's a friend of mine,” Begala said to me. “I know that he can't talk about it. I respect that fact, so I don't bring it up.” But there's another reason they don't ask. Novak won't let them. The topic hasn't come up on “The Capital Gang,” for instance, because, according to one source at CNN, “Bob is the executive producer and he has more say than anybody else…He won't talk about it.” Novak's role at the show means that he gets to determine what subjects do—and, more importantly, do not—get discussed. But couldn't one of the other panelists bring it up, even so? “You have to understand,” said the source, “this is Bob's show. He's the boss."

Even William Safire realizes that Novak is acting in bad faith:

Mr. Novak should finally write the column he owes readers and colleagues perhaps explaining how his two sources - who may have truthfully revealed themselves to investigators - managed to get the prosecutor off his back.

The insistent focus on Cooper and Miller, and not Novak, is really intriguing. How do the two reporters who declined to leak Plame's identity get threatened with jail time, and the one who slavishly did it, risking the lives of CIA agents and sources around the world, get off scot-free? And this is a real black eye for Time. What journalist worth his salt would want to write for them now after such a sell-out? This really damages the whole concept of confidentiality. I want to see people held accountable for the heinous, vindictive act of revealing a covert CIA agent. But this is over the top.


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

How does this fit in with spreading freedom?

Days after Iraq's new Shiite-led government was announced on April 28, the bodies of Sunni Muslim men began turning up at the capital's central morgue after the men had been detained by people wearing Iraqi police uniforms.

Faik Baqr, the director and chief forensic investigator at the central Baghdad morgue, said the corpses first caught his attention because the men appeared to have been killed in methodical fashion. Their hands had been tied or handcuffed behind their backs, their eyes were blindfolded and they appeared to have been tortured. In most cases, the dead men looked as if they'd been whipped with a cord, subjected to electric shocks or beaten with a blunt object and shot to death, often with single bullets to their heads.

I seem to remember isolated stories about roving bands of Shiite vigilantes who were going around maiming Sunnis in Iraq, but now this has apparently graduated from under the radar incident to official policy:

The Interior Ministry, which oversees the Iraqi police, denies any involvement in the killings. But eyewitnesses said that many of the dead were apprehended by large groups of men driving white Toyota Land Cruisers with police markings. The men were wearing police commando uniforms and bulletproof vests, carrying expensive 9-millimeter Glock pistols and using sophisticated radios, the witnesses said.

Predictable denials all around from US officials on this one. But human nature suggests that the persecuted minority, once installed in the seat of power, typically sets out to do some persecuting of their own. It's exactly what happened in Rwanda and plenty of other places on the globe. And this particular excuse doesn't pass the smell test:

"The small numbers that we've investigated we've found to be either rumor or innuendo," said Steven Casteel, a senior U.S. adviser to the ministry and former Drug Enforcement Administration intelligence chief. "You can buy a police uniform in 20 different places in the market."

Show me where in the market you can buy Toyota Land Cruisers and Glocks and maybe I'll start to believe you.

Unfortunately, you can simply add this to the allegations of detainee abuse in Iraqi-run prisons, and you get the general idea that the fog of war is starting to make everybody over there mad. The attorney general of the country as much as said so:

Ghathanfar al Jasim, who sits on Iraq's national judicial council and functions as an attorney general, said it's difficult to discuss extrajudicial murder.

"We cannot admit that our police are doing it; it would make them look weak," Jasim said, adding that Sunni insurgents often target Iraqi security forces, especially commando units such as the Interior Ministry's Wolf Brigade.

"When a man kills another man (from their group), what do you think will be the result?" he said. "How do you think the Wolf Brigade would behave? If you arrested (Osama) bin Laden, what would you do with him?"

So much for spreading freedom and democracy; this sounds more like a gang war.



For some reason the old design was messing up, so I decided on a fresh start. I'll be tweaking back to the original colors, et al. in the coming days.


New Speech Thread

Instead of adding to the old one.

I actually read the speech (full transcript here) instead of listened to it, which probably improved my reaction, since I didn't have to hear the dead crowd, fake applause, and Bush's delivery (not exactly FDR). The text is nothing we haven't heard before, though I appreciated the things I heard that were new. Although gradually mixing US military leaders with Iraqi troops is kind of a no-brainer, I'm glad we're doing it. And the concept of shared sacrifice was buried in there, particularly this call on the war supporters to serve:

I thank those of you who have re-enlisted in an hour when your country needs you. And to those watching tonight who are considering a military career, there is no higher calling than service in our Armed Forces. We live in freedom because every generation has produced patriots willing to serve a cause greater than themselves. Those who serve today are taking their rightful place among the greatest generations that have worn our Nation's uniform.

Paging Jonah Goldberg...

I agree with David Gergen that the insistent references to 9/11 are somewhat offensive, considering Iraq never had anything to do with it. Indeed al Qaeda is in Iraq NOW, but that's a direct result of this war. And Billmon noticed that there was a new technique of splitting out terrorists from insurgents (about four or five instances in the speech), surmising that the terrorists are the ones we are fighting, while the insurgents are the ones we are negotiating with.

Predictably, there was no talk of those negotiations wth insurgent leaders, acknowledged by US generals. And the same "they'd wait us out" arguments were made to dismiss an exit strategy, despite the fact that Bush asked for a timetable on Kosovo two months into that war. Nor was there a mention that the current course hasn't yielded the best results. We're just going to dance with the gurl we brung.

But the real reason I think that nobody will be satisfied with this speech (46% numbers in a poll with 50% Republican repsondents!) is that deep down, we all know that there are no good options left to us in Iraq. We passed the last positive option there about a year ago. If we withdraw and send in the UN we simply grease the wheels for a civil war. If we add more troops we simply turn the country against us by having them view us as occupiers. If we wait until we train a good bit of their troops (and the 160,000 trained Iraqi troops number Bush threw out is an absolute joke) we'll be there a dozen years, like Rumsfeld predicted. If we negotitate a settlement with insurgents... well, we're trying that, and we all know how disastrous that would be to this doctrine of spreading freedom (putting former Baathists back in charge? I guess it's force of habit).

Nobody really wants to hear it, but we've alrady lost in Iraq, and it's a loss of our own doing. I'm not suggesting withdrawal, I'm actually not advocating everything. I'm merely stating the facts as they are. I don't expect this from my political leaders.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005


The President goes in front of the American people tonight, live from Fort Bragg, and there are some prereleased excerpts out there.

"The work in Iraq is difficult and dangerous. Like most Americans, I see the images of violence and bloodshed. Every picture is horrifying - and the suffering is real. Amid all this violence, I know Americans ask the question: Is the sacrifice worth it? It is worth it, and it is vital to the future security of our country. And tonight I will explain the reasons why."

"The terrorists can kill the innocent -- but they cannot stop the advance of freedom. The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September 11 ... if we abandon the Iraqi people to men like Zarqawi ... and if we yield the future of the Middle East to men like Bin Laden."

"We have more work to do, and there will be tough moments that test America's resolve. We are fighting against men with blind hatred -- and armed with lethal weapons -- who are capable of any atrocity. They wear no uniform; they respect no laws of warfare or morality. They take innocent lives to create chaos for the cameras. They are trying to shake our will in Iraq -- just as they tried to shake our will on September 11, 2001. They will fail. The terrorists do not understand America. The American people do not falter under threat -- and we will not allow our future to be determined by car bombers and assassins."

Not much that you wouldn't expect. Two September 11ths, a few terrorists, and a canny reference to insurgents not wearing uniforms (which I guess means we can do anything we want to them, and by extension any prisoners we take in the service of this war). Meanwhile, no mention of a military strategy for winning the peace, no mention of additional troop requests, no pleas for shared sacrifice or volunteer enlistment, no acknowledgement of mistakes made. Simply put, the speech appears to be Iraq=terrorists. Of course, this war is exactly how it got that way, but that's down the memory hole.

We are nearing dire straits in Iraq, and this calls for leadership. And just when I'm getting to my point, I have to go work again. I'll add to this after the speech...


Free Market Conservatives

Apparently the free market is only free for conservatives, at least judging from these quotes about George Soros' bid to buy the Washington Nationals:

Earlier this month, Soros joined an ownership bid being led by entrepreneur Jonathan Ledecky. Their group is one of more than a half-dozen angling to take over the Nats, who are currently owned by Major League Baseball.

In addition to being a well-known currency speculator and philanthropist, Soros is also known in political circles for having pumped more than $20 million in the last cycle into groups seeking to unseat President Bush and elect Democrats.

While the Soros-Ledecky group is not seen as the frontrunner to win the bidding for the Nationals, who should be awarded to their new owner at the end of the 2005 season, the very prospect that Soros could have a stake in the team is enough to irritate Congressional Republicans.

"I think Major League Baseball understands the stakes," said Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (R), the Northern Virginia lawmaker who recently convened high-profile steroid hearings. "I don't think they want to get involved in a political fight."

Davis, whose panel also oversees District of Columbia issues, said that if a Soros sale went through, "I don't think it's the Nats that get hurt. I think it's Major League Baseball that gets hurt. They enjoy all sorts of exemptions" from anti-trust laws.

This isn't even politics, really, it's personal. Soros used his money to try to unseat Bush and Republicans are pissed off about it, and now they want to make it hard for him to do business. That's some petty shakedown kind of stuff. Apparently when the Richard Mellon Scaifes and the Olins and the Kochs of the world pump millions into GOP and RNC coffers it comes down from the sky like magic. They're not INTENTIONALLY trying to defeat Democrats. Perish the thought.

Not to mention the fact that it's hard to argue that as a partisan Democrat, George Soros shouldn't be allowed to own a baseball team, when the SITTING REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT used to own the Texas Rangers.

Hate George Soros, slander him even, attempt to beat him with your own candidates. I have no problem with that. When you try to deliberately mess up his business, you've gone too far.


Monday, June 27, 2005

The 100 Years War With Iraq is Almost Over!

I was in New York over the weekend, so I missed the big Rumsfeld-Russert meeting of the minds on the Sunday gabfest. After reading the transcript, it's not surprising to me that, of the three, Bono came off with the most credibility. And apparently, I missed the introduction, possibly in conjunction with "the New Europe," of "the New Math" when talking about Iraq. Look how astounding these particular exchanges are side-by side. First, the "throes" question:

RUSSERT: For the sake of clarity for the American people, what about this insurgency? Is it in its last throes or is it alive and well and vibrant and strong as it was six months ago?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Well, there are various ways to measure it. If you measure the number of incidents, it's gone up during the election period and now it's back down. If you look at lethality of those instances, it's up. Now, what does that mean? Does it mean that the insurgency's stronger? Is it in its last throes? The last throes could be violence, as you well know from a dictionary standpoint. I think the way to think of it is that the insurgents are foreigners in some significant number. They are attacking Iraqis and killing them. They are opposing an elected Iraqi government. They know they have a great deal to lose. If they lose this and if Iraq becomes a constitutional representative system in the middle of the Middle East, the effect on the terrorists will be devastating. So they are going to fight very hard. And you saw that when the elections--they wanted to disrupt those elections on January 30th and so the peak went way up in violence. They're going to feel the same way about the constitution and the elections coming up in December. So I would anticipate you're going to see an escalation of violence between now and the December elections.

MR. RUSSERT: But you wouldn't say the insurgency is on its last legs?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Well, if you are successful in having a constitution and having another election under the new constitution, that will have an effect on the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people will see that the people opposing that don't have the interest of Iraq in mind. They have the interests of the violent extremists. And will that hurt the insurgency? I believe it will. I think there's no question but that if we get through this period we will see that the Iraqi security forces will be stronger. They're very well respected today by the population in Iraq, and we will have more and more of an Iraqi face on this, less of an occupation face, which is a good thing. And over time--I mean, foreign troops are not going to beat the insurgency. It's going be the Iraqi people that are going to beat the insurgency and Iraqi security forces. That's just the nature of an insurgency and it may take time, but our task is to get the Iraqi security forces sufficiently capable that that process of defeating the insurgency by the Iraqi people can take place.

Kind of a noncommital answer (also fascinating in the sense that he allows the US military to be rendered blameless for the insurgency itself, by saying that the Iraqi people have to beat it), but certainly more along the party line that the insurgency is, indeed, in its last throes. Then there's this from Fox News Sunday:

WASHINGTON -Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Sunday that it could take as long as 12 years to defeat the insurgency in Iraq, but he said it will be up to Iraqi forces to do the job.

"We're not going to win against the insurgency. The Iraqi people are going to win against the insurgency," Rumsfeld told Fox News Sunday. "That insurgency could go on for any number of years. Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years."

So the insurgency is on its last legs, but we're as many as 12 years out from victory. Considering we began the war back in 1902, I'd say that's consistent. Otherwise, we've got a math problem.