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

Friday, August 12, 2005

Catholic Priests Rehabilitating

Now, instead of preying on young boys, at least they're having sex with adult women:

NEW YORK - A Roman Catholic monsignor named in court papers as "the other man" in a divorce case resigned Thursday as rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral, the New York archdiocese said.

Cardinal Edward Egan accepted Msgr. Eugene Clark's resignation from the key church position despite the 79-year-old Clark's denials that he has been carrying on an affair with his 46-year-old private secretary, the church said.

"He offered his resignation for the good of Saint Patrick's and the archdiocese," the statement said. "He will not be celebrating Mass or the sacraments publicly until this matter has been resolved."

Clark had been rector of St. Patrick's in midtown Manhattan since 2001 and had often celebrated Mass there when the cardinal was away. He was named in divorce papers filed last week in Family Court in White Plains by Philip DeFilippo, 46, who said that a private investigator taped his wife, Laura, and the monsignor entering and leaving a Long Island hotel last month. The videotape was shown Monday to New York City newspapers.

The Archdiocese is apparently learning from their mistakes too, instead of sending Monsignor Clark to Iowa to preach and defile there, they're actually letting him resign.

As Tbogg said, I'm sure Sen. Santorum will promptly write an article blaming this on Massachusetts.

By the way, this guy MARRIED the couple he's now breaking up. He's also said this:

A strong proponent of traditional morality, Clark blamed the church's sex-abuse scandal in 2002 on "the campaign of liberal America against celibacy."  The staunch conservative suggested in a homily that homosexuality was a disorder caused by the sinful images that are pervasive in American culture.

I'm sure it was those same sinful images that forced you to be weak and break that 6th Commandment. Does that mean you were watching "Are You Hot?"

Family values, folks, come an' get it.


Gigi-Gate hits the Press

I wrote about Arnold Schwarzenegger's little "gentlemen's agreement" with American Media, who agreed to pay $20,000 in hush money to a former girlfriend of the would-be Governator's in exchange for a business relationship. Well, that was speculation then; now it's hit the LA Times:

SACRAMENTO — Days after Arnold Schwarzenegger jumped into the race for governor and girded for questions about his past, a tabloid publisher wooing him for a business deal promised to pay a woman $20,000 to sign a confidentiality agreement about an alleged affair with the candidate.

American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer, signed a friend of the woman to a similar contract about the alleged relationship for $1,000...

American Media's contracts with Goyette and Mora, both titled "Confidentiality Agreement," are two pages long and never expire; they bind the two women "in perpetuity."

Goyette's agreement states that she is not to disclose "conversations with Schwarzenegger, her interactions with Schwarzenegger or anything else relating in any way to any relationship [she] ever had with Schwarzenegger," except to American Media.

This was the missing link in the scandal about Arnold taking $8M from Flex and Muscle & Fitness Magazine, but it's missing no more. I don't think any politician wants their name and "hush money" in the same article. It's just another setback for the Governor, who's continuing his rappelling down the side of Public Opinion Mountain. Maybe this stuff works in Hollywood, but not in the political arena.

Here's my favorite part of the story:

Goyette did not dispute an account of her relationship in Leamer's biography of Schwarzenegger, published two months ago. Like the National Enquirer, Leamer's book says Goyette and Schwarzenegger had a periodic intimate relationship.

In the book, Leamer says Goyette and Schwarzenegger got together yearly at the Arnold Fitness Weekend in Columbus, Ohio, where she helped with events.

Leamer writes that Goyette described her contact with Schwarzenegger with the term " 'outercourse' because it's like foreplay." The interaction, she told him, was "whatever we wanted it to be."

Goyette's lawyer, Charlotte Hassett, told The Times: "She maintained it was more of a massage situation — however you want to interpret that."

"Outercourse" is another word you don't want in the same paragraph with your name. Then again, I believe this is the first time the word "outercourse" has ever been used.

By the way, who gets bought off for $1,000? Is it really that easy to silence somebody? I would've held out for at least 2 grand.


The Sword and TASER Beat

From occasional contributor COSMO:

Crusader Nabbed by Michigan Cops

AUGUST 5--Meet Robert McClain. The Michigan man, 42, was arrested last week after he attempted to literally go medieval on cops. According to the Royal Oak Police Department report, officers were dispatched to McClain's home after a motorist called 911 to report that McClain had fled the scene of an auto accident. When they arrived at his crib, McClain allegedly tried to strike a cop with a four-foot sword. After missing, McClain retreated to his basement, where he donned a chainmail armored vest and leather gauntlets to protect his arms. He also added a giant wooden mallet to his arsenal and beckoned officers to come downstairs and get him. "I'm gonna crush your fucking skulls," McClain warned. Then, in a nice rhetorical flourish (for a lunatic, at least), he added, "I have a thousand years of power." That omnipotence, however, was no match for a police Taser, which felled

COSMO directs us to the more interesting responses from an RPG site:

"Armor won't protect you against Power Word Stun..."

"He definitely falled his save vs electricity anyway. "

"It's about putting a whackjob who thinks the police are there to LARP with him on the floor without putting a bullet through him or breaking his skull with a nightstick."

I'll add that this guy has a whole new meaning of the word "encumberance."


With Friends Like These...

I don't think it's good for your Party's public standing on foreign policy when it's "wisest" counsel advises your Presidential candidate to be deliberately vague on Iraq.

This article, about the disconnect between public opinion and inside-the-Beltway Democratic opinion on withdrawal in Iraq, is required reading. When someone decides to get the courage of their convictions, they'll get not only my vote, but the votes of the majority of the country. Ditto to someone who decides to listen to his own heart rather than the Brookings Institution, or a dozen other like-minded "liberal hawk" think tanks.

Former Senator Gary Hart crystallizes my thoughts on this:

If democracy only works when there is open discussion of opposing ideas and policies, and if the opposition party, in this case the Democrats, has hand-cuffed, blind-folded, gagged, and hog-tied itself to a failed invasion and occupation in the Middle East, where will the expanding majority of Americans look for a representative, a spokesperson, a voice for their anger, frustration, and distrust at being misled?

The circumstances suggest it should be a Senate or House Democratic leader, a recognized authority on foreign policy constantly seen on the Sunday talk shows, certainly one of the many “leaders” lining up to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for president in 2008.

Strangely, no one in any of those categories comes to mind. Their voices are silent. Thus, both they and the party they claim or presume to represent look dumbstruck, awkward, pitiful, and timid. Where the single greatest issue of the day, and one of the most potent issues of our time, is concerned, there is no courageous opposition.

Read the whole thing. His answer to the search for someone to challenge the conventional wisdom is Cindy Sheehan. Citizens like her will have to take back the Party for themselves. This gang of bumblers isn't going to do it.


Unexpected Holiday

This Cindy Sheehan thing is turning into a fiasco for the Bush Administration. It shows how desperate this country is for an antiwar movement that 5 grieving mothers can set the GOP off their game so utterly. Yesterday the President had to address Sheehan while ignoring many of her fundamental points:

CRAWFORD, Texas - President Bush, acknowledging that some families of U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq want to bring the troops home now, believes that would be a big mistake.

"Pulling the troops out would send a terrible signal to the enemy," he said.

Reports that the Pentagon may increase or decrease troop levels in Iraq next year were simply "speculation and rumors," he said between meetings Thursday with his military and foreign affairs advisers.

So now he's forced to contradict his own generals (remember "my generals will tell me if they need people, and we'll give it to them"?) because that's the best way to frame opposition to Sheehan. Troop pullout is only one of her goals, the others being a full explanation of the "noble cause" for which her son died, an accounting of prewar intelligence, and a consideration of why the President doesn't ask his own daughters to serve. But the GOP can't touch those hot subjects. Plus, it looks just awful for the President to be hanging out at the ranch without letting this lady in for a few words. And the White House has no idea how to fix the situation.

Actually, the President is doing a lot more than just "hanging out":

On Friday, Bush was to turn from policy to politics. He was scheduled to visit a neighbor's ranch for a barbecue where he was to help raise a couple million dollars for the GOP just by showing up.

The fundraiser for some 230 people at Stan and Kathy Hickey's Broken Spoke Ranch, a 478-acre spread next to Bush's ranch, was expected to raise at least $2 million for the Republican National Committee, according to RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt.

The Bill O'Reillys and Michelle Malkins of the world can smear Cindy Sheehan's name all they want, but the public isn't buying it. The juxtaposition of a grieving mother sitting in the road and a fatcat having a fundraiser barbecue on a buddy's ranch is too stark.

The Downing Street Memo, the Rove allegations, and the other intelligence failures that have come to light in the past year have all led to this moment. A real antiwar movement in this country, populated by sensible people from all walks of life, just like during Vietnam, is about to explode.


Thursday, August 11, 2005

Prince of Darkness '08

oh please oh please oh please let this be true:

Aspen - Renowned journalist Bob Woodward predicts Dick Cheney will be the Republican Party's presidential nominee in 2008 and that the vice president could face Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton in a dramatic partisan showdown.

Speaking in the Paepcke Auditorium as part of the Aspen Institute's McCloskey Speaker Series, Woodward on Tuesday listed a number of reasons it is "highly likely" President Bush might implore Cheney to seek the Oval Office.

"He would be 67 if he ran and was elected. Reagan was 69. Republicans always like the old warhorse. ... Nixon was 68," said Woodward, best known for exposing the Watergate scandal that led to Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974. "Both parties like to nominate vice presidents. ... Cheney would do it, and I think it's highly likely, so stay tuned."

If anybody knows what's going on in DC, it's Woodward. So this has a lot of merit, IMO.

I'm guessing Novak would be the Veep.

Cheney would be as much a misstep for the Right as Dean in '08 would be for the Left, and for the same reason: they have a pre-sold narrative. Right or wrong, people think of Dean as something of a crazy Bush-hater, and people think of Cheney as Satan incarnate. Bush has been elected by razor-thin margins (in one case a negative margin) in part on his personality. Cheney eats personalities for breakfast.

This wouldn't work. But I'd love to see them try.


Happy Freedom Day

The Defense Department is apparently now in the holiday-creation business, Given how well they're doing at nation building, I expect this thing to erupt in a fiery disaster:

The U.S. Defense Department will hold a walk and country music concert to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks and to honor U.S. troops and veterans.

Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense, said the walk is "the perfect marriage of both sentiments: commemorating September 11 and the importance of our freedom."
The two-mile walk will begin at 10 a.m. past the section of the Pentagon hit in the attack and is tentatively scheduled to go through Arlington National Cemetery before crossing the Arlington Memorial Bridge and passing the Lincoln Memorial, said Air Force spokeswoman Tech. Sgt. Eileen Lainez.

They're calling this the America Supports You Freedom Walk, which sounds like a name dreamed up by a 3rd-grader. Doesn't the Pentagon have any better things to do than organize jingoistic public events? Isn't there a war going on?

By the way, here's the kicker.
Participants and volunteers must register by Sept. 9 at 10 a.m. at Organizers need 2,000 volunteers.
"We're asking people to register for security reasons [and] to make sure there are enough T-shirts and water," Sgt. Lainez said.

Yes, you have to register for the freedom walk. You have to give your name, email address, and phone number to walk in public. So here's the question: if I just happen to be in Washington on foot that day, sightseeing around the Lincoln Memorial, will I be arrested?

Gotta love that freedom.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

This Is Not Good

A defiant Iran resumed full operations at its uranium conversion plant Wednesday, as Europe and the United States struggled to find a way to stop the Islamic republic from pushing ahead with a nuclear program they fear will lead to weapons of mass destruction.

With United Nations inspectors watching, Iranian officials removed U.N. seals that had been placed voluntarily on equipment at the facility eight months ago when Tehran agreed to freeze most of its nuclear program.

Technicians then immediately resumed work on the process that turns raw uranium into gas for enrichment.

Iran's playing a game of chicken. This isn't full uranium enrichment they're doing here; it's an earlier step down the road. But they're daring the US to make an economic or military response, while staying ideologically pure by claiming that it's their right as a sovereign nation to convert uranium for peaceful purposes. They know all too well that the US is bogged down in Iraq, and that we'll likely have to play around the margins without making a meaningful response. They also know that Russia and China will leap to their aid in the UN Security Council, should the NATO powers attempt to impose sanctions.

This is exactly why the Iraq war was so dangerous and wrong-headed. It ignored the real trouble spots in the world, and it gave Iran some serious power leverage in the Middle East. If we attacked Iran tomorrow, I'm not sure Iraq would be on our side.

And don't expect Israel to bail us out of this one, either:

On Wednesday, security was tight around the complex, with plainclothes security agents shooing journalists away from the front gates.

Parts of the facility were built in tunnels in the mountains as protection from airstrikes. Tehran learned a lesson from the 1981 Israeli airstrike against Iraq's main nuclear reactor. Iran has spread its facilities over several locations, each with underground installations.

They're dug in, and they've been preparing for this for years. We know the Iranians lied about how far along they were at creating the bomb before. That's when a reformer was President. Now the hardliners control everything.

This is what they call "the law of unintended consequences."


And ice cream doesn't just show up on my plate...

More words of wisdom from the leader of the free world:

Highways just don't happen; people have got to show up and do the work to refit a highway or build a bridge.

If he'd only signed the "Highway-Fixing Elves Implementation Act of 2003," we wouldn't have these kinds of problems.

Incidentally, another group of things that just don't happen are pork-barrel projects, which the highway bill signed into law today is laden with. It includes a $200 million dollar bridge to connect the mainland of Alaska to an island inhabited by 50 people, $2.3 million for landscaping on the Ronald Reagan Freeway in California, and over 6,300 other "earmarked projects," few of which have anything to go with interstate highways.

And I know this is going to floor you, but the majority of those projects send money to districts with a Republican representative. By the way, they're the party in power. "Fiscal conservative Republican" is now a creature being added to the Endangered Species Act.


Eminent Domain

They have another kind of takings law in Iraq; that's the one where you take the mayor's office:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 9 - Armed men entered Baghdad's municipal building during a blinding dust storm on Monday, deposed the city's mayor and installed a member of Iraq's most powerful Shiite militia.

The deposed mayor, Alaa al-Tamimi, who was not in his offices at the time, recounted the events in a telephone interview on Tuesday and called the move a municipal coup d'état. He added that he had gone into hiding for fear of his life.

"This is the new Iraq," said Mr. Tamimi, a secular engineer with no party affiliation. "They use force to achieve their goal."

Al-Tamini was appointed by Paul Bremer last year. The new mayor is a member of the Badr Brigade, the armed militia for SCIRI, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. They're part of the ruling national government. SCIRI won the provincial election in Baghdad, and this guy was governor of the province. But he didn't have the control over Baghdad he wanted, so he took over by force. It's basically akin to an armed militia representing Schwarzenegger taking over the mayoralty of San Francisco.

Maybe I shouldn't give him any ideas.

Well, there's another installment of democracy, Iraq-style. Meanwhile, there are another five dead service members today, bringing it up to 38 in August.

Good thing Saddam was captured, or else it'd be a REAL mess over there.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Miller's Tale

Over the last several days, many eople have been speculating about just why Judy Miller is sitting in that jail cell right now. Despite the Beltway conventional wisdom that she's a martyr, others aren't so sure that she's protecting the 1st Amendment, but rather, taking the 5th. Arianna Huffington has sources that go down this road:

A well-connected media source e-mailed to say that the most interesting development on the Miller story is coming from inside the Times: "I gather that Doug Jehl, who is a dogged and respected reporter, has been assigned to do an in-house investigative report for the Times and that he is already cutting pretty close to the bone. Several editors he has spoken to are now asking themselves why there wasn't more questioning of whether Miller's silence reflects a fear of incriminating herself rather than betraying a source. I predict this will start to unravel in the next couple of weeks -- if only because the Times is afraid of getting scooped again by outside rivals."

Murray Waas informs us that Scooter Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, confirmed that he talked to Miller, three days before Novak's column outing Valerie Plame came out. They discussed Plame in that meeting, according to Libby's grand jury testimony.

And James Carville, appearing on Don Imus, claims that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald isn't stopping at Miller, instead going after the whole NYT:

"My sense is he's coming after more people at the New York Times. He's going subpoena Bill Keller and all of them and ask them what Judy Miller told them. And if they don't talk, he's going to stick them in jail."

All of these things, taken as a whole, provide a narrative: Miller was getting information from the White House, either from Libby or from someone else (and she then passed it on to Libby). She pushed this at the Times to her editors, and they didn't immediately go for it. Then Novak published and Miller didn't see any need to push it anymore, as it was already out there. Carville seems to concur with this:

Carville said there was "heavy, heavy speculation out there" that Miller was being used by the White House to "disseminate this" - an apparent reference to CIA employee Valerie Plame's name.

"There are all sorts of rumors and I hear second hand that [Miller] was screaming out in the news room about this."

The Times, said Carville, "to some extent is going to have to come clean. Because they're going to have to tell us what Judy Miller knew, when she knew it and who she told."

"And there's a lot of people at the Times - and I know this to be a fact - who believe that," he insisted.

"It's going to be very interesting to see," Carville mused, "whether [Miller's] problem is a First Amendment [problem] - i.e., I want to protect a source - or a Fifth Amendment [problem] - I was out spreading this stuff too."

Something's about to blow here. The New York Times wants to defend against all evidence that they had a neocon operative working in their offices. I think we need to at leat raise the possibility that Miller has some loyalties of which nobody is aware. CIA? FBI? Who knows. But these things do happen.

A high-ranking defector from Afghanistan's Taliban movement told The Washington Post late last month that he was visited "two or three times" by U.S. intelligence agents posing as journalists. Mohammed Khaksar made the claim in an interview in Kabul, Afghanistan. The CIA declined to discuss the matter.

The media have long objected to intelligence agencies using the cover of journalism, saying such a practice could expose reporters in the field to potentially lethal suspicion. "That adds an unnecessary risk," said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, based in Arlington, Va.

A CIA watchdog offered a different perspective. "In their point of view, there may be higher values than the protection of journalists -- and I'm not sure they're wrong," said Steven Aftergood, who directs the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. "It may save many lives."

That was from December 2001. Does anyone doubt the practice still exists?


Nice bazaar you've got here, it'd be a shame if something happened to it...

Forgot to share this bit of loveliness from my Sunday LA Times:

California Army National Guard troops sought unauthorized, off-the-books "rent" from Iraqi-owned businesses inside Baghdad's Green Zone to raise money for a "soldiers fund," military officials and sources within the troops' battalion said Friday...

According to military officials and members of the battalion, soldiers from the battalion's Bravo Company, which is based in Dublin, an East Bay suburb of San Francisco, approached several businesses earlier this year that were owned and operated by Iraqi nationals.

The businesses — a dry cleaner, a convenience store and the like — catered to U.S. soldiers and were located on the fringe of the U.S. military's operating base inside the Green Zone, the fortified hub of the Iraqi government, U.S. occupation officials, embassies and contractor headquarters. The businesses were asked to pay the soldiers "rent."

Lt. Col. Cliff Kent, spokesman for the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq, confirmed Friday that two vendors agreed to pay.

The money was used to create a "soldiers fund," said one member of the battalion, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Such funds are used by troops for a variety of purposes, such as receiving small loans to pay a bill back home or buying commemorative "challenge coins" — often specially minted to foster morale inside a unit.

Hey, they were just using their expertise in the free market! It's the American way, after all. By the way, they hate us for our freedom, right? Not the extortion, but the freedom?

Speaking of Iraq, this week Cindy Sheehan is down at the Bush ranch in Crawford staging a sit-in until she gets a meeting with the President. Despite attempts by Drudge and others to smear her, Sheehan stands in principled opposition to an illegal war, and seeks to help her fellow families by getting their sons and daughters out of harm's way. I don't know if I exactly agree with her about unilateral withdrawal (I've said before that we've reached a point in Iraq where all ideas are pretty much bad ones), but I admire her courage and support her right to engage in nonviolent resistance. There's a rumor that she'll be arrested Thursday, which would be the perfect way for the White House to raise even MORE awareness about her position.

I support her.


Monday, August 08, 2005

Peter Jennings RIP

My one and only post on the late Peter Jennings on this site was negative, but in general he was a competent, professional newsreader, perhaps our last. I didn't have any particular brand loyalty to any one network news outfit, but I was sorry to see him go. His untimely departure really signals an end of an era for the big 3 news outfits, an irreversible trend (IMO) where the anchor and, in addition, the broadcast are no longer as relevant.

I'll miss the guy.


"You're in The Situation Room..."

I stopped watching CNN when I didn't get it anymore at work. But I'm on a bit of a hiatus, and CNN premiered their newest "flagship" show today, "The Situation Room" with Leslie Blitzer. In case you didn't catch it, here's the big innovation:

Blitzer's standing up.

Also, sometimes they'll show a board with a list of top headlines on news websites. They won't REPORT on them, mind you, just show a board with 5 words on one news story or another. You want the news? Go look it up yourself!

Also, they'll continually tell you that "You're in the Situation Room!" As if it's a magical space where I'm in the heart of the news cycle, watching the "Political Stories" butter churn, and the "World Affairs" spin vaccuum.

And what ends up spitting out from this "I'm watching everything" type of coverage center? Well, on one of their quick hits watching "data feeds" (it's fucking taped footage, you morons), Leslie and the gang stopped on a water main break in suburban Atlanta. "Look at this, water splashing into the air!" intoned Blitzer.

Hard news. Data feeds. You're in the situation room.


The Truth Seeps Out in a Flag

Check out this post by David Neiwert, who spots a Nazi flag among the "America-first" pinheads at a Minuteman rally in Orange County.

That's what happens when your core issue is keeping 'dem dirty immigrants out of our country.

It's been amusing to watch the Minuteman Project quietly implode over the past few months. Internecine squabbling over, among other things, the rights to the word "Minutemen", has splintered the movement into a disorganized rabble of disparate groups. The latest project in California brought about two dozen people to the border. And now there's this, another example of the ugly racist undercurrent rearing its ugly head while leaders desperately try to tamp it down.

Sensible immigration policy doesn't attract people like members of the Stormfront forum (a neo-Nazi chatroom). It also doesn't involve guns and shootings:

A Tijuana man who last weekend said he was shot shortly after crossing the border illegally into the United States is sticking to his story, despite some reports that he may have been shot in Mexico.

Carlos Alfonso Estrada Martinez, 38, was one of two Mexican citizens shot in separate incidents during the early hours of Saturday in the border region between Tecate and Campo.

In statements he made to officials, Estrada had said he was about 200 yards inside the U.S. when he was hit about 1 a.m. A second man who was shot about an hour later said he was assaulted just south of the border fence in Mexico.

The second man, Jose Humberto Rivera Perez, a 32-year-old native of Guadalajara, was shot just below the left knee. Interviewed earlier this week as he recovered at the Centro de Salud hospital, he said he was shot by a man who had his face covered as Rivera and several others waited to cross the border roughly 20 yards south of the fence.

When they tried to flee, the man shouted at them in Spanish not to run and fired, hitting Rivera.

Jim Chase, the Oceanside resident who organized the three-week border watch, said none of his people have fired any weapons. But he added that while he turns away people he considers extremists, he has been running into people conducting their own patrols who are not with his group.

"It doesn't scare me, but it is scary from the standpoint of these are people who have not gone through me to pledge to be nonracist and nonviolent," Chase said earlier this week.

You may not be taking the blame but it is your fault. Setting up the conditions for violence and hatred is no different than setting up a party for alcohol to be served to minors. It should come as no surprise that the logical outcome of the faltering Minuteman Project is bloodshed.