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

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Slow Death Of Global Conservatism

Australia joins Britain, Spain, and Italy. France and Germany, which had more social democratic models, are going somewhat in the other direction, but anyone who calls Sarkozy "conservative" is being wilfully blind.

The truth is that incumbency in the Bush era has threatened anyone and everyone who even tolerated him.

Labels: , , ,


Friday, November 23, 2007

The New Meaning Of Probable Cause

"Do you want a warrant?"




Federal officials are routinely asking courts to order cellphone companies to furnish real-time tracking data so they can pinpoint the whereabouts of drug traffickers, fugitives and other criminal suspects, according to judges and industry lawyers.

In some cases, judges have granted the requests without requiring the government to demonstrate that there is probable cause to believe that a crime is taking place or that the inquiry will yield evidence of a crime. Privacy advocates fear such a practice may expose average Americans to a new level of government scrutiny of their daily lives.

Such requests run counter to the Justice Department's internal recommendation that federal prosecutors seek warrants based on probable cause to obtain precise location data in private areas. The requests and orders are sealed at the government's request, so it is difficult to know how often the orders are issued or denied.

Only us "civil liberties extremists" are worried about this, I guess.

By the way, Justice Department, I'll be out at dinner, but since my cell phone is with me, YOU ALREADY KNEW THAT.

Labels: , , ,


The Thing About The Right

using body counts as a measure to define success in Iraq is that it only takes a couple bad events to ruin their narrative and make them look foolish. That's why nobody interested in success in Iraq would actually peg it to casualty rates. A political settlement is a long-lasting solution. Ephemeral security benchmarks can be upset by a lone suicide bomber.

I don't understand why the wingnutosphere keeps falling for this. Shouting "We're winning" at the top of your lungs is not a strategy. Neither is pointing to a chart and saying "They're only killing as many people as they did in January 2006!"

Labels: ,


Black Friday Random Ten

Sorry, not much time for tending the blog garden this week. Here's a musical interlude:

People Of The Sun - Rage Against The Machine
Beercan - Beck
Come As You Are - Nirvana
On A Plain - Nirvana
Down To This - Soul Coughing
Once - Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova
Planet Of Weed - Fountains Of Wayne
Warm Sound - Jill Cunniff
Ready For Action - The Crystal Method
Thursday - Morphine

Labels: ,


Crossing the Line

According to Bush, Musharraf hasn't crossed the line yet.

"He's been a loyal ally in fighting terrorists. He's also advanced democracy in Pakistan," Bush said. "He has said he's going to take off his uniform. He's said there will be elections. Today he released prisoners, and so far I've found him to be a man of his word."

The reason for this optimism is that, to Bush, suspending the Constitution, arresting the opposition, shutting down independent media, firing the Supreme Court and installing your own judges are all within the boundaries of what he calls democracy, because they're all things HE would do if given the chance.

Freedom's on the march.

Labels: , , ,


Thursday, November 22, 2007

And A Happy Turkey Day To You

Please visit our fabulous archives for the remainder of the evening!



Joe Klein Takes Orders Well

Responding to criticism of yet another horrible article about FISA that proves he doesn't have even a little understanding of intelligence gathering and civil liberties, Joke Line pens this candidate for the worst line of the year:

It would also have taken a middle path on immunity for telecoms--no blanket immunity (as is currently provided in the Senate draft), but selective immunity to those telecoms who can provide written proof that they were acting in response to a direct order from the government. That seems fair to me.

Apparently the President is allowed to give a "direct order" that supersedes all legal precedent and the entire governmental system of the United States. Snipers can kill Nancy Pelosi as long as they were responding to a "direct order," I guess. Halliburton? Now a state and eligible for federal funding. That's a "direct order"!

Greenwald smacks this down:

Seriously, in what country does Joe Klein live? Can someone please explain to him that in the United States, the President doesn't have the power to give "direct orders" to violate the law? And what kind of person who isn't in the military runs around talking about "direct orders" from the American President at all? That isn't how our country works. Presidents obviously don't have the power to give "direct orders" to anyone to break the law, let alone civilians and private companies. Why does that even need to be explained?

Klein also coins the phrase "civil liberties extremists." Come again? Are they for "extreme fairness"? "Extreme lack of racial profiling?" "Extreme suspicion of a powerful central government with no checks on its abilities?" "Extreme don't tase me, bro?"

I'd had a good stretch not reading Swampland. Damn Joke Line for writing something this stupid to pull me back in.

Labels: , , , , , ,


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bigger Than Dirty Tricks: The Corruption of Direct Democracy

So I edited this video for Courage Campaign about the dirty tricks initiative. Erik Love went up to UC-Santa Barbara and explored the foul underbelly of paid signature gatherers.

There's no smoking gun here, and yet there's a lot of smoke. Clearly the petitioners are luring potential signers over there with the prospect of helping kids survive cancer, and then the dirty tricks initiative is sprung upon them. I think the most damning bit is when the signature gatherer admits that he has nothing to do with the procedures and he is just told how many signatures to get. There's a "by any means necessary" approach that goes beyond this initiative and to the signature gathering process as a whole. It's a scummy, dirty business, and this gives it a little bit of sunshine.

Erik has more at DKos.

UPDATE: And more shenanigans.

The chairman of a committee formed to fight a ballot initiative to change how California’s electoral college votes are apportioned has asked the city attorney here to investigate a report that a group collecting signatures for the initiative has offered food to homeless people in exchange for signing the petitions [...]

Mr. Steyer’s letter, dated Nov. 19, stems from an article in The Los Angeles Downtown News that detailed reporters’ observations of signature gatherers asking homeless people on the city’s notorious Skid Row for their signatures to help qualify the electoral vote initiative and three others, as well as asking them to fill out voter registration cards.

In exchange, the paper reported, homeless people and those in nearby shelters were given Snickers bars, instant noodles and other snack foods.

If California outlawed initiatives tomorrow, I don't think I'd miss them.

Labels: , , ,


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Posting, It Will Be Light

I'm getting ready to hop a redeye out to Philadelphia for the Thanksgiving holiday, so posting will be sporadic between now and then. In the meantime, here are a few flights of fancy.

• This is awesome. At the same school where the infamous "Don't tase me, bro" incident went down, Alberto Gonzales was heckled by a student in an Abu Ghraib jumpsuit and another holding a sign saying habeas corpus. Neither of those protesters were tortured or held without charges after being led away by police, AFAIK, so perhaps things are looking up.

• The big story is this excerpt from Scott McClellan's forthcoming book, which apparently blames Bush, Cheney and Rove for forcing him to lie about White House official's role in the outing of Valerie Plame, but somehow I think these will generate a lot more heat than light. I bet that McClellan offers little more in the book itself (that's the report, anyway), and will demur at any attempts to get him to testify before Congress about the issue. Chris Dodd is calling for investigations, but it's like, just throw it on the pile. It's clear that practically everyone in the White House committed crimes by illegally releasing the identity of Plame to reporters. That has been proven time and again. It came out in the trial. So far nobody has been held accountable, and we're four years gone from the outing. I want to be optimistic, but can't be.

Troops leave, violence drops. It's really a simple formula. Worked in Basra, would work in the rest of Iraq. But we stay, accomplishing approximately nothing of substance instead of turning the country into a series of armed encampments.

OK, gotta go. Enjoy.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


The Best Health Care System Money Can't Buy

According to Rudy 9iu11iani and the rest of the Right's Field, the American health insurance marketplace is clearly superior than a system of "socialized medicine". Gubmint-run health care will force Americans into long lines, rationed care, and stunted innovation. Interesting how they haven't learned from their own experiences with the US health care system. This of course is because most of them are rich enough to get the best care possible. They're simply unconcerned with the plight of the unwashed masses.

When Rudolph W. Giuliani was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the spring of 2000, one thing he did not have to worry about was a lack of medical insurance.

Today, the former New York mayor joins two other cancer survivors in seeking the Republican presidential nomination: Arizona Sen. John McCain has been treated for melanoma, the most serious type of skin malignancy, and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson had lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system.

All three have offered proposals with the stated aim of helping the 47 million people in the U.S. who have no health insurance, including those with preexisting medical conditions.

But under the plans all three have put forward, cancer survivors such as themselves could not be sure of getting coverage -- especially if they were not already covered by a government or job-related plan and had to seek insurance as individuals.

McCain and 9iu11liani had government-run health care at the time of their illnesses. Fred Thompson is covered through the Screen Actors Guild. They simply aren't in touch with what most Americans who actually have to navigate the insurance system have to face. They want to depend on the ravages of the private market when they don't even depend on it themselves. The truth is that nobody with a pre-existing condition is going to come close to their wonderful market-driven health insurance. You'll either be denied off the bat or you won't be able to afford it.

The candidates "can't sit there and say they understand what people are going through, because they've got healthcare," (cancer patient Susan) Brown said. "We went through the same illness, however [they] don't understand what it's like not to have health insurance."

This would require the foreign concept of empathy.

Labels: , , , ,


Almost More Disgusting

Army recruits get a signing bonus when they enlist. As it's been harder and harder to get recruits, the bonus has increased over the years. The reason it's been harder to recruit is that thousands of soldiers have been killed or severely wounded from their tours of duty. Which brings us around to this story.

Just in time for the holidays, there's a special place in Hell just waiting to be filled by some as-yet-unknown Pentagon bureaucrat. Apparently, thousands of wounded soldiers who served in Iraq are being asked to return part of their enlistment bonuses -- because their injuries prevented them from completing their tours.

It's bad enough that Bush is looking to hold 150,000 military base personnel hostage until he gets his golden war bucks. Now he's trying to take money from the disabled because of their disabilities - which seems to violate plenty of anti-discrimination laws.

One of them is Jordan Fox, a young soldier from the South Hills.
He finds solace in the hundreds of boxes he loads onto a truck in Carnegie. In each box is a care package that will be sent to a man or woman serving in Iraq. It was in his name Operation Pittsburgh Pride was started.

Fox was seriously injured when a roadside bomb blew up his vehicle. He was knocked unconscious. His back was injured and lost all vision in his right eye.

A few months later Fox was sent home. His injuries prohibited him from fulfilling three months of his commitment. A few days ago, he received a letter from the military demanding nearly $3,000 of his signing bonus back.

"I tried to do my best and serve my country. I was unfortunately hurt in the process. Now they're telling me they want their money back," he explained.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Labels: , , , ,


A Turning Point For The Progressive Movement in California

Here we see California Democratic Party strategist Bob Mulholland acting like a four year-old because he feels the grip of power slipping away.

Julia Rosen has the full story on this at Crooks and Liars. Much ink has been spilled from the results of the executive board meeting and the squashing of the censure resolution of Dianne Feinstein, but the bottom line is this. That meeting will be remembered as the moment when the grassroots rose to prominence in California. It will be remembered as the moment that Courage Campaign became the of California. And it will be remembered as a turning point, the moment when the establishment that has been running the Party their way for decades finally got nervous.

Art Torres' message to the party was cleverly edited to make it look like he just spent a few minutes on the Feinstein situation. Actually, he spent about a half-hour on it, extolling the virtues of the senior Senator and pleading with the members not to go forward with condemning her. The scene in the Resolutions Committee resulted in the chairman phsyically shoving an activist for putting up a sign. That's a defensive posture, and it springs from the mentality of a leadership which chooses not to work in concert with, or even listen to, its base.

Bob Mulholland is nothing but a firewall. He was sent in to hold back the rabble, and this past weekend he did his job. That he's paid by the rank and file of the party to ensure that their voices aren't heard is certainly perverse, but the bigger problem is who's paying him. Last weekend's events did change the conversation. The Party leadership has two options. They can listen to the concerns of the rank and file, and build lines of communication to facilitate that, or they can continue this practice of stonewalling and plowing forward with their own agenda. The former could succeed; the latter is destined to fail.

Labels: , , , , ,


Disgusting: Bush threatens to lay off 150,000 military base personnel if he doesn't get his war money

The Bush administration is threatening that it will issue furlough notices to up to 150,000 civilian workers at military bases in mid-December if Congress does not approve unrestricted Iraq funding immediately. As part of this campaign, the Pentagon is distributing a document warning that the Army may cease to function if it does not receive the funds now. (View the document here.)

This is just craven. The President signed a $471 funding bill for defense spending a WEEK ago. The bill even has a provision to shift money to the war in it "from other Pentagon accounts." You can argue about the relative wisdom of that. However, to tell 150,000 military families that they're going to be laid off DURING CHRISTMAS when there's ample money to keep all critical military operations afloat is maybe the most crass thing I've ever seen this Administration do.

Jack Murtha referred to this in a press conference today:

MURTHA: While Congress is working to improve the quality of life for our troops, this administration is reversing these efforts with this political document. You talk about morale, when they make statements like, “We’re going to lay-off people,” there’s thousand of people throughout the country that don’t need to be laid-off and shouldn’t be laid-off and they’re worrying them — those folks. This reduces the morale of the people throughout the country […]

I don’t like to think this, but it’s almost like a Rumsfeld-like prediction here — a Rumsfeld-like. I thought we’d gotten rid of Secretary Rumsfeld, but this really worries me that there would be such a political document […]

There’s seven months’ backlog at the depots — seven months’ backlog. In other words, there’s seven months’ work still in the depots, fully funded. They talked about IEDs the other day. We already funded over $3 billion for IEDs in a big unobligated (inaudible). This is a political document. They’re scaring people. They’re scaring the families of the troops with this document. That’s the thing that’s so despicable about what they’re doing.

The real truth is that if war funding was constrained and they had to cut nonessential programs to keep it going, their beloved defense contactors who are making useless systems would have to wait for their hundreds of millions of dollars. That is unacceptable. What is perfectly acceptable is playing a game of chicken with 150,000 men and women who've made the choice to serve their country. It's a contemptible little game being played with people's lives.

Amazingly enough, they're not even hiding this gambit. ThinkProgress notes today's White House press gaggle:

QUESTION: So this is a way to remind Congress that you want them to pass this bill?

PERINO: That’s exactly what that was.

QUESTION: So you’re making them suffer –

PERINO: I’m making the Democrats suffer?

QUESTION: No, you’re making the civilians who work for the Defense –

PERINO: Oh, no, it is not us who are making any civilians suffer.

QUESTION: There ought to be –

PERINO: We are calling on Congress to –

QUESTION: How many billions have we spent already for the Defense Department?

PERINO: The Defense Department says that they need this funding in order to keep the war running, as well as to keep these civilians…

QUESTION: Maybe they don’t want the war to keep running.

There it is, an admission that they are needlessly using 150,000 civilian Army personnel's livelihoods as a political football. This goes beyond 24% territory. I don't know how ANYONE could have the slightest respect for such ghouls.

Labels: , , , , , , ,


CA Lawsuit Watch

Let's turn D-Day into Court TV for a little while, shall we? There seems to be a spate of lawsuits going on in California. First, Debra Bowen has sued ES&S, a voting machine company, for selling systems that were not certified by the state to 5 counties. Bowen is simply fulfilling campaign promises here, though the company is screaming and crying about it.

Jerry Brown has made the strongest move to date against companies who profited from toxic toys made in China, suing Mattel, Toys "R" Us and about 20 other companies for "knowingly" selling the products with illegal amounts of lead.

The suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, alleges the companies knowingly exposed children to lead and failed to provide warning of the risk, which is required under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, known as Proposition 65.

If the suit is successful, the companies could pay a $2,500 fine for each violation, according to the complaint [...]

The suit, which was joined by the Los Angeles city attorney’s office, also named as defendants Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, KB Toys, Costco Wholesale and others.

That could add up in a hurry, when you consider the millions of lead-filled toys in California that have been sold.

Meanwhile, the state isn't the only with prosecuting attorneys, as the auto industry is challenging the state's global warming law in a Fresno District Court.

Lawyers for car manufacturers, dealers and trade associations said California's 2002 law, the model for statutes in 11 other states, amounted to a requirement for higher gas mileage, a subject that only the federal government can regulate.

Although federal law allows California to take a lead role in reducing air pollution, Congress never "intended a single state to have such sweeping authority to unilaterally set national fuel economy policy ... and profoundly affect a vital national industry," said Raymond Ludwiszewski, lawyer for a trade group of international automakers.

But U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii suggested that the industry's argument had been undercut by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in April upholding the federal government's authority to limit emissions of greenhouse gases.

The district judge will follow precedent here; this lawsuit is frivolous. But the point is to buy time. Meanwhile, the EPA is still foot-dragging on granting a waiver that would put the 2002 tailpipe emissions law into effect, and the state has sued the federal government over that.

Labels: , , , , , ,


Huckabee Winning The Washed-Up Celebrity Primary

9iu11iani was in the running with the Bo Derek endorsement, but Mike Huckabee just thundered past him.

Ric Flair

Morgan Fliehr, aka "Nature Boy" Ric Flair of WWF/WWE pro wrestling fame, has endorsed the former Arkansas governor and minister. CNN reports that Flair will co-host a tailgate with Huckabee at this Saturday's South Carolina vs. Clemson college football game. Flair joins rocker Ted Nugent, he of the flaming arrows and lointcloths — not to mention stage routines calling for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to suck on his machine guns — plus the one and only Chuck Norris, in supporting Huckabee's candidacy.

When I would go to my grandparents' house in rural Pennsylvania as a kid, I would notice that the "new" songs on the radio were about 2 years old. Does that get multiplied for the Republican Party? Ric Flair? Ted Nugent? Chuck Norris? Has anyone given a rat's ass about any of these people in the past 10 years?

Can't wait to see who Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff, Chief Wahoo McDaniel and Kamala the Ugandan Giant decide to endorse.

Labels: , , ,


The Slow March Out Of The Bush Administration

I thought that the reason given for the mass exodus this summer of all the White House officials was that the Chief of Staff told everybody that you either leave by Labor Day or stay on until the bitter end. Fran Townsend apparently didn't get the memo (neither did Karen Hughes, meaning that basically that whole line of argument was a crock).

Fran Townsend, the leading White House-based terrorism adviser who gave public updates on the extent of the threat to U.S. security, is stepping down after 4 1/2 years.

President Bush said in a statement Monday morning that Townsend, 45, ''has ably guided the Homeland Security Council. She has played an integral role in the formation of the key strategies and policies my administration has used to combat terror and protect Americans.''

Townsend jumped, after seeing counter-terrorism efforts put in a precarious position by failed foreign policy initiatives like the occupation of Iraq. Rachel Paulose, however, one of the legacies of the US Attorney scandal, was pushed.

Rachel Paulose, the embattled U.S. attorney for Minnesota, will be leaving the post to take a position at the Justice Department in Washington, the department confirmed Monday.

''We are pleased that Rachel Paulose has accepted the position of counselor to the assistant attorney general in the department's office of legal policy,'' Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said in an e-mail statement [...]

Paulose was just 32 and working for the Justice Department in Washington when she was named interim U.S. attorney in February 2006 to succeed Tom Heffelfinger, who had resigned and returned to private practice [...]

Paulose's troubles flared up again recently over allegations that she had made racially disparaging comments about one employee and mishandled classified documents that should have been kept locked up. The Justice Department began an internal investigation.

That prompted Coleman to urge Mukasey, then the attorney general nominee, that there should be a ''thorough review'' of the allegations, and that the Justice Department needed to provide better management support to U.S. attorney offices.

Paulose was the epitome of a Federalist Society-approved political hack, thrown into the US Attorney position without the relevant management skills, and thundering through the office like a house afire. Her return back to the rock she crawled out from under is encouraging, but of course there will be hundreds like her, little landmines all over the civil service just waiting for the next President.

Labels: , , , ,


They'll Still Find A Way To Oppose It

With the news that researchers have figured out how to create stem cells without destroying embyros, the theocratic right will have to come up with a new rationale for stopping scientific breakthroughs. Maybe they'll decide that it's akin to cloning people.

The unencumbered ability to turn adult cells into embryonic ones capable of morphing into virtually every kind of cell or tissue, described in two scientific journal articles released today, has been the ultimate goal of researchers for years. In theory, it would allow people to grow personalized replacement parts for their bodies from a few of their own skin cells, while giving researchers a uniquely powerful means of understanding and treating diseases.

Until now, only human egg cells and embryos, both difficult to obtain and laden with legal and ethical issues, had the mysterious power to turn ordinary cells into stem cells. And until this summer, the challenge of mimicking that process in the lab seemed almost insurmountable, leading many to wonder if stem cell research would ever wrest free of its political baggage.

There weren't any mad scientists looking to build a race of über-humans. The goal was to create stem cells from adult skin cells all along, mainly because they are more efficient and more plentiful. The fundies were trying to hold back progress on technical grounds, and I have no doubt they'll continue to do so.

Labels: , ,


Monday, November 19, 2007

The Design Failure Of Bush-Era Foreign Policy - Making The Military Option The Only Option

Over the weekend we sent John Negroponte over to Pakistan to do the old lean on Pervez Musharraf. This was the beginnings of the "surge of diplomacy" that people are calling for in Iraq. The problem, as it would be in Iraq, is that it's too late and the Bush Administration is too discredited for any of it to matter.

A special US mission to the embattled Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf ended in failure yesterday, and the Bush administration is inceasingly alarmed about the possible collapse of the government. There are also fears that its nuclear weapons could end up in the hands of Islamist extremists.

John Negroponte, the US deputy secretary of state, flew out of Islamabad after Musharraf, a close ally of the US, rejected his call to end emergency rule, to free political prisoners, resign from his post as army commander and hold free and fair elections in January.

Negroponte failed because he has almost nothing to offer. The Pakistani foreign minister said that he "had brought no new proposals and received no assurances in return." What could he possibly say? Could he denounce the destruction of democracy from a position of moral authority? Clearly not. Could he threaten to eliminate the $10 billion in military aid? No, the Cheneyite faction wouldn't let him. Could he forge a power-sharing agreement with some of the opposition parties? It's way too late for that.

There's a structural design flaw in Bush-style foreign policy, and indeed MOST foreign policy from the establishment perspective. This can be best summed up by this awful editorial by surge architect Fred Kagan and Michael O'Hanlon, of all people, which boils down Pakistan, as they do every trouble spot globally, to a course of military action.

As the government of Pakistan totters, we must face a fact: the United States simply could not stand by as a nuclear-armed Pakistan descended into the abyss. Nor would it be strategically prudent to withdraw our forces from an improving situation in Iraq to cope with a deteriorating one in Pakistan. We need to think — now — about our feasible military options in Pakistan, should it really come to that.

First of all, we've already stood by as Pakistan descended into an abyss. They're under martial law, have turned the legal system into a kangaroo court, arrested all dissenters and indifferently watched as Islamists have taken more and more territory in the northwest region. Neoconservative loons like this aren't interested in seeing a problem until it lands on them with a thud. It's beyond the time in which America can bring forward a solution in Pakistan. Other than a military one. Which is the default position.

So then these two armchair Napoleons get our their little green Army men and spread them onto the Risk board and writhe around on the floor in ecstasy at their new glorious war plan.

The task of stabilizing a collapsed Pakistan is beyond the means of the United States and its allies. Rule-of-thumb estimates suggest that a force of more than a million troops would be required for a country of this size. Thus, if we have any hope of success, we would have to act before a complete government collapse, and we would need the cooperation of moderate Pakistani forces.

One possible plan would be a Special Forces operation with the limited goal of preventing Pakistan’s nuclear materials and warheads from getting into the wrong hands. Given the degree to which Pakistani nationalists cherish these assets, it is unlikely the United States would get permission to destroy them. Somehow, American forces would have to team with Pakistanis to secure critical sites and possibly to move the material to a safer place.

For the United States, the safest bet would be shipping the material to someplace like New Mexico; but even pro-American Pakistanis would be unlikely to cooperate. More likely, we would have to settle for establishing a remote redoubt within Pakistan, with the nuclear technology guarded by elite Pakistani forces backed up (and watched over) by crack international troops. It is realistic to think that such a mission might be undertaken within days of a decision to act. The price for rapid action and secrecy, however, would probably be a very small international coalition.

It goes on and on like this. Presumably these two think those little army men are actual soldiers.

The problem is that the military option is always foregrounded. Diplomatic solutions don't exist; diplomats are sent into countries years too late with empty briefcases.

Emptywheel had the same idea today.

I'm just a DFH and not a "serious person" or anything. But I am certain they have this wrong--dead wrong. It highlights the problem of neoconservatism--an acute myopia that therefore cannot see a problem until we're already in the thick of it and until they can make an argument--however specious--that the only solution is military.

Couple that with their ignorant assertion that, "There was a time when volatility in places like Pakistan was mostly a humanitarian worry," and you see the problem. They would not--and did not--consider action at a time when non-military solutions were the obvious solution to the problem, when AQ Khan and his nukes didn't have us by the nuts. As I said last year when I was earning Matt Bai's wrath, the time to address these problems is before they've exploded, while we're still nominally allies.

If I were of this default-to-militarism mindset, the best thing I could do would be to ignore global problems until I can claim that there's no choice but a military option. Pervez Musharraf was obviously a despot when he forced Nawaz Sharif out of the country at gunpoint in 1999. We could have conditioned aid to a return to democratic institutions, we could have finished the job at Tora Bora ourselves instead of putting Pakistan in the position to have to do our dirty work. Now we're faced with a nuclear-armed country in a fair amount of peril, and our image is worse than bin Laden's in that country. Any future interventions will be poison for whoever we intervene in favor of. A bottom up strategy in Pakistan is absolutely insane and will be sure to make things far worse. But the way these neocons get to that is by sabotaging any other reasonable effort to resolve global difficulties.

Labels: , , , , , ,


Looming Recession Update: Just Shedding Jobs

The nation actually had a good employment month in October. The economy added 166,000 jobs, mainly in the professional and business services, health care, and leisure and hospitality sectors, and even construction was largely unchanged.

On the other hand, California lost 15,800 jobs, and year-over-year unemployment is up a full point to 5.6% (and that of course doesn't include those who have stopped looking for work). That's also a full point over the national average. The apologists that call themselves economists in this article are trying to spin the numbers but it won't wash.

October's decline in employment, the biggest since the loss of 14,000 jobs in July, confirms that the state's economy is slowing, said Stephen Levy, who directs the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto.

But "this is a slowdown that the nation is participating in," Levy said. (Then why did the US add 166,000 jobs in the same month? -ed.) [...]

Levy cautioned against making "a big deal" of the overall job loss figures.

"None of this is like when we lost our aerospace industry -- that was permanent -- or when the Internet bubble burst," he said.

The current job losses do not signify any loss of strength in the state's key economic sectors, he said. "It's not like our economy is threatened from this."

Really? You mean the construction sector isn't losing strength due to the housing meltdown? And that isn't driving economic trouble in all other sectors, as the end of refinancing and redecorating new homes depresses consumer spending?

Ever hear of trash-outs?

“An old wooden house along Genevieve Street in San Bernardino was the scene recently of a trash pickup for tenants who lost their home to a bank foreclosure.”

“On Thursday morning, the driveway was piled up with appliances, furniture and clothes that were littered everywhere - a telltale sign of a family that recently lived there. An old gas stove with a skillet full of dust was found. In the back yard, there were mattresses, a microwave, two mangled couches and a bulky refrigerator.”

“Foreclosed homes all over the Inland Empire are turning into what Lisa Carvalho calls ‘trash-outs’ - wooden and stucco carcasses with piles of junk left behind by former tenants.”

“The High Desert offers even more interesting tales. The area is full of tract homes in subdivisions that have stacks of furniture piled inside every room, she said.”

“‘These typically look like they’re occupied, but they’re not trashed,’ she said about these homes. ‘(The owners) just walk away and wash their hands of it.’”

Distressed properties (which are usually foreclosures or short sales) made up one out of every five homes listed for sale in Orange County last week. And it's hard to even say who's in worse shape, homeowners, realtors, or financial institutions stuck with mortgages that will be defaulted without delay.

This is a crisis, and economists who keep their heads in the sand aren't serving whoever it is they're supposed to serve. The legislation that would have at least helped to address this was blocked by Senate Republicans last week. Where California is able to go in the next decade relies on stabilizing this housing situation.

Labels: , , , ,


Write A New Story

I'm not always comfortable with publishing polls because they're a snapshot. But we're only a month-plus out of New Hampshire, and the trends of this CNN poll show that the media simply needs to start running a new story about the Republican race. Because Mitt Romney is solidly in the lead right now.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson has skidded into sixth place in a new CNN/WMUR poll of likely Republican voters in New Hampshire, edged out by ex-Libertarian and anti-war congressman Ron Paul and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney topped the poll, widening a lead he has held for months in neighboring New Hampshire, while Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani were running close in the second and third spots.

Thompson ... has trailed the GOP front-runners in early voting states since entering the race in August, and his support in New Hampshire dropped from 13 percent in a September poll to 4 percent in November's survey.

By contrast, Romney's support grew from 25 percent to 33 percent over the same period; McCain held steady at 18 percent; and Giuliani dipped from 24 to 16 percent.

Meanwhile, the percentage of support for Paul grew from 4 percent to 8 percent, putting him fourth among the GOP contenders in the Granite State [...]

Among other contenders, Huckabee — seen gaining ground ahead of the Iowa caucuses — claimed 5 percent support in the new poll. Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, who has made opposition to illegal immigration the centerpiece of his campaign, drew 1 percent; and California Rep. Duncan Hunter, the former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, had the support of fewer than half of 1 percent.

Romney is now well beyond the margin of error in New Hampshire, and 9iu11iani, who's trying to make a strong showing UP TO THIRD in Iowa, is looking at the same placement in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, Ron Paul is surging and will probably spend as much money in that state as anyone else. And Fred Thompson no longer exists.

All I'm saying is that it might be time to rewrite those stories (And do it yourself, because the CBS newswriters are going on strike). If all you're going to do is focus on the horse race, the least you can do is get it right.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Triangle of Corruption Update: They're Still Under Investigation

The long-dormant Jerry Lewis investigation showed signs of being restarted in recent months after one of his top aides was handed a federal subpoena. Now we've learned that the FBI has been taking a look at Lewis' personal financial records - and fellow Triangle of Corruption member Ken Calvert's, too.

The apparently stalled probe of Lewis has focused on his relationship to buddy and lobbyist Bill Lowery. Roll Call notes that the feds pulled records for two of Lowery's lobbyists, Jeffrey Shockey and Letitia White. Both once worked to Lewis, but moved over to work for Lowery. Shockey has since moved back to Lewis again. The feds also pulled records for Lewis' wife, his chief of staff Arlene Willis.

As for Calvert, it's unclear just what the feds are scrutinizing (one of his "honest graft" schemes?) or even if he's the focus of a full-blown investigation.

His trouble started last May, when the Los Angeles Times reported that he and a partner pocketed a profit of nearly a half-million dollars in less than a year on a land deal. The report found that while he owned the land, Calvert earmarked $1.5 million for commercial development nearby and $8 million for a freeway exchange 16 miles away.

About a week later, the California FBI agent pulled Calvert’s financial disclosure forms for 2000 through 2005. Calvert never retained legal counsel, but buzz over the issue compelled GOP leaders to skip over him last year when a slot opened on the Appropriations panel....

Candidates and campaigns in these districts take note: these corruption investigations are not going away.

Labels: , , ,


More Iowa Stories

It looks like the Right's Field is trying to manage expectations in preparation for the January 3 caucuses. Mike Huckabee could end Mitt Romney's Presidential ambitions right there if he should manage a victory. He's now on the radar screen and his opponents are hitting him over the familiar issue of immigration.

On Fox News on Wednesday, he was asked about a bill he supported as governor that would have granted tuition breaks to the children of illegal immigrants. He suggested that he had only wanted to give such children access to scholarships. In fact, the initial bill he supported did have a scholarship provision. But that provision was later stripped out and was not included in the legislation that Huckabee continued to push.

Ex-Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, still leading in Iowa, has decided that it's time to take the gloves off with regard to Huckabee. Campaigning in Iowa this week, the Associated Press reported, Romney told reporters: "Giving a better deal to the children of illegal aliens than we give to U.S. citizens from surrounding states is simply not fair and not right."

On Fox News, Huckabee responded with a dig at prior reports that Romney had employed groundskeepers who were illegal: "I guess Mitt Romney would rather keep people out of college so they can keep working on his lawn, since he had illegals there."

Not a bad comeback. I thought Huckabee's Chuck Norris facts ad was funny but it's going to confuse the hell out of 70 year-olds in Iowa who aren't familiar with hipster jokes on the Internet. His problem is that, if the immigration issue is as strong in the Republican Party as polls suggest, he's going to have trouble with this stand.

Meanwhile, Rudy donned his farm clothes and visited Iowa once again, and apparently he's blanketing the state with mailers and phone calls and radio ads, trying to maybe move up to third and declare victory. Of course, when one of the most powerful GOP electeds in the state says that your nomination would undermine the Party... that's not a good sign.

Rep. Steve King of Iowa warned today that the conservative underpinnings of the Republican party platform would be "sacrificed" if Rudy Giuliani is the Republican presidential nominee.

King, a leading conservative from western Iowa's heavily Republican 5th District, said that in addition he fears the nomination of Giuliani would spur a third-party candidate on the right who would "sink" GOP chances of winning the White House.

"I don't know anybody else who has spoken publicly about that concern," King said in an interview in his office at the U.S. Capitol. "What's it take to be a spoiler? Not much."

As for Grandpa Freddie, he's attacked Huckabee by calling him "John Edwards in a Republican suit" (what's the cut of a Republican suit? Is it made out of poor people?), but privately, his Congressional supporters are trying to find a way to sneak out the side door.

Several House Republicans who endorsed Fred Thompson for president now say that they are frustrated with what they view as an apathetic campaign, and at least one regrets having committed to the former Tennessee senator.

“I think he’s kind of done a belly flop,” said an estranged Thompson backer who indicated he will not pull his public support before the “Super Tuesday” primaries. “We’ll just wait till after Feb. 5 because I think he’s going to get beat.”

The disaffected members of team Thompson say he has failed to put to rest whispers that he is unwilling to campaign hard enough to win the presidency.

“He seems to be perpetuating it instead of defeating it,” another dissatisfied Thompson backer said. “I can’t see me bailing on him, but there’s some frustration.”

Now that's a proud group of endorsers right there.

Labels: , , , , , ,


Like Scheduling Bowling On Prom Night After Nobody Asks You To Go

John McCain is trying to pull a "Well I didn't want to be in your stupid caucus anyway" maneuver by dropping out of Iowa to avoid an embarrassing defeat.

Sen. John McCain soon will consider opting out of the Jan. 3 Iowa presidential caucuses to take the sting out of a probable fifth-place finish there.

McCain skipped Iowa in 2000 while nearly seizing the presidential nomination from heavily favored George W. Bush. But when McCain was the early front-runner for 2008, it was decided he would contest the state this time.

The rationale for leaving Iowa now would be total concentration on the subsequent New Hampshire primary. Although McCain defeated Bush by landslide proportions in New Hampshire eight years ago, he did so with overwhelming support from independents who are likely to vote in the Democratic primary this time.

And if they don't vote in the Democratic primary, they have other options on the Republican side, like Ron Paul. The dynamics are completely different from 2000, but for McCain, the result is likely to be the same, despite the media's best efforts.

No word on whether McCain will drop out of the Arizona primary, where he's trailing Rudy Giuliani even though it's his home state. Because that would be even more embarrassing.

Labels: , , ,


They Must Be Doing Worse Than We Thought

Most of the Republican retirements in the House were more understandable because the guys were old and they didn't expect being back in the majority anytime soon. But Mike Ferguson is 37.

After barely defeating Linda Stender last year, Congressman Ferguson says he won't seek reelection in 2008. His announcement is surprising considering he's only 37.

Linda Stender is running again, and the only explanation I have for this is that internal polling showed Ferguson that he'd be blown out next year. Better to run away and come back another day when the national mood is favorable.

We're at around 20 GOP retirements in the House of Representatives, many of them in swing districts like this one. That's not happening in a vacuum. The Republican insiders in Washington are figuring out that Americans generally hate what they've done to the country.

Labels: , , , ,


Monday Random Flickr Blogging

Courtesy of our random Flickr blogfather.

"Son, I don't want to say nothing, but that may be the worst football uniform I've ever seen."

"But this is what Coach Carr told me to wear!"

"Maybe that's why he's not around here no more. Now go get some shoulder pads."

"Run for your lives, it's the Attack of the 70s-Era Volkswagen Beetle!"

Labels: , ,


CA-12: Speier To Challenge Lantos?

This should be very interesting. It looks like Jackie Speier, who was a fine state Senator who just missed in a there-are-no-losers primary for Lt. Governor with John Garamendi last year, is going to run for Congress in a primary against longtime incumbent Tom Lantos.

"It's Time!" declares an e-mail circulated by supporters to "friends" and "fans" this past week, announcing the first organizing meeting of the Jackie Speier for Congress Exploratory Committee on Tuesday at a home in Hillsborough.

Speier has been consulting with friends and supporters about a run since a poll conducted by allies in January showed her a 2-1 favorite among voters in the 12th Congressional District, which covers northern San Mateo County and parts of San Francisco.

Speier has since hired at least one staffer to start gearing up. Nonetheless, she told us late Friday that she hasn't made a final decision - and that when she does, we'll be among the first to know.

This is the first interesting primary fight in California on the Democratic side that we've seen in the US Congress this cycle. Speier would likely be seen as an upgrade to Lantos for progressives. So far this year Lantos has condemned MoveOn and intimated that "Europe was not as outraged by Auschwitz as by Guantanamo Bay."

Labels: , , ,


Most Predictable Court Case Ever

In Pakistan, a challenge to Pervez Musharraf's victory in the Presidential election, on the grounds that it's unconstitutional for him to be a military officer at the same time as being President, was thrown out by Musharraf's new, handpicked Supreme Court, because the lawyers were not present in court.

The lawyers were all under arrest by Musharraf's military.

This dictatorin' is easy!

Labels: , ,


Iraq 4-Evah

So the latest news out of Iraq is that, if you believe military statistics, attacks have fallen to a February 2006 level. This is down-the-memory-hole-ism at its finest. February 2006 was NOT a good time for Iraq. The country was a mess well before the Samarra Golden Dome bombing late in that month. The sectarian attacks were robust at that time. And the fact that this announcement came on the same day that bombs across Iraq killed 20 people shows you that peace, such as it is in Iraq, is ephemeral.

The real story about Iraq that should let everyone know where a Bush strategy has gotten us is in this prediction from expert Stephen Biddle.

Without getting in to his arguments or my reservations, I just wanted to lay out Biddle's best case scenario as he presented it: if everything goes right and if the US continues to "hit the lottery" with the spread of local ceasefires and none of a dozen different spoilers happens, then a patchwork of local ceasefires between heavily armed, mistrustful communities could possibly hold if and only if the US keeps 80,000-100,000 troops in Iraq for the next twenty to thirty years. And that's the best case scenario of one of the current strategy's smartest supporters. Man.

So I wouldn't be getting all crazy about a couple months worth of numbers, when they haven't meant squat for a political solution and have just put the country completely in the hands of the US military for the next 30 years, which is a completely unsustainable scenario.

Labels: , , ,


Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Power of Bottom-Up Media

The studios are going back to the bargaining table with the WGA after the Thanksgiving holiday. TAPPED has an interview with the union leaders, and there's this really interesting note:

TAP: A lot of the organizing around this is going on through new media, through blogs, Facebook – the very new media that you're working to get a piece of.

PV: [Writers and actors] can get together and actually do media without these guys and get it delivered. It goes back to this quote from Frances Coppola about 12 years ago, where he said that he wasn't going to make the next Godfather, it was going to be some 7-year-old girl with a digital camera. But how was she going to distribute it? Well, now we have the answer. We now have this distribution model that really seriously impacts the ability of the conglomerates to control production and distribution. What can help them survive in that brave new world is collaboration with the content providers, and yet it seems as though a routine has developed where they would rather try to find the cheaper way or the non-union way, or an approach that cuts us out.

There's no doubt that the embrace of new, bottom-up media by the writers has directly led to the AMPTP going back to the negotiating table. The studios are actually MAKING money at this stage of the strike. There's no production happening, which lowers the budget. They've terminated a lot of long-term contracts with some of the showrunners who have honored the strike, saving them more money. The strike wouldn't affect their bottom line for a few months. Beginning negotiations now is counter to their strategy of bleeding the union dry and dividing them through bringing certain shows back (like Conan, who's apparently under a lot of pressure). The ONLY reason they're coming back is because they're losing the media war. And this is really interesting, because the top-down media, in newspapers and even television, is supporting the AMPTP position, at least implicitly if not explicitly. But United Hollywood is a great organizing tool, the use of YouTubes has been brilliant, and it has not only kept the members unified and made them part of a movement, but it's increased public awareness of their issues, to the extent that polls are showing enormous sympathy for the writers.

This is really powerful for the future. Other unions can learn from this new model of organizing and leveraging the online space to push the message. Obviously a bunch of professional writers are going to have innovative and creative ideas to do this. But it can be replicated.

Labels: , , , ,


The Rest Of The Week In Review

I had a bit of trouble with Internet-related matters this week. My laptop was in the shop, and when I got it back I was delighted to learn that it was in many ways more broken than when I gave it to them! So I didn't have the opportunity to scan the sphere de blog as much as normally. Still, there's plenty that I missed:

• I know it wouldn't be exactly legal to put a moratorium on these Republican legal defense funds, but they're so nauseating that something ought to be done. Alberto Gonzales expects to be indicted. So he's getting rich friends and movement conservatives to pay his legal bills to keep him out of jail. Something's wrong here. And it's not just Gonzales, obviously; off the top of my head I can think of Bernie Kerik, Scooter Libby, John Doolittle, Tom DeLay. In fact, legal defense funds are the only growth fundraising industry for Republicans.

• This Cookie and Buzzy show is really interesting. So Cookie Krongard, the State Department's Inspector General, has a brother, Buzzy, who was recently hired as part of Blackwater's advisory board (Buzzy later resigned). Cookie testified to the House Oversight Committee that he didn't know anything about it. Except Buzzy admitted that he told Cookie about it a couple weeks ago. Cookie even concealed this revelation from his own deputy. Cookie since recused himself from all Blackwater inquiries as well as the US Embassy scandal. So what is the Inspector General left to be allowed to inspect?

• That post mainly was done for the opportunity to repeatedly use the words "Cookie" and "Buzzy."

• In addition to telecom immunity probably coming back on the floor of the US Senate, the bill that got reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee is apparently worse than I thought, as it still allows for warrantless surveillance in foreign-to-domestic communications, without a role for the FISA court. The Attorney General still gets the power to authorize that. What's most frustrating is that all is needed here is a fix to the foreign communications that come through a domestic switcher. Other than that, the FISA law works just fine. There's no need to give the farm away along with it.

• Bush's veto on the labor, health and education bill was upheld. It would be a lot easier to take the President's newfound interest in fiscal responsibility if he wasn't stuffing budget bills with money for his wife's librarian program. Incidentally, porkbarrel spending is down 33% this year, I wish someone would send that message out to the campaign trail, where "porkbarrel spending" is such a punching bag.

• Bottom line, Ronald Reagan pursued policies that openly played to bigots. It doesn't matter whether or not he was personally a racist. What politicians advocate and what they say matters.

• I think I've reported that Dennis Hastert will resign this year maybe four times, but this time it appears to be for real, triggering a special election. The Polish sausage industry back in his hometown applauded the move, while DC's kielbasa makers hung their heads in lament. (This is a seat Democrats can win, by the way.)

• In Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto has rejected the caretaker government of loyalists sworn in by Musharraf, while Nawaz Sharif, who Musharraf deposed in 1999, lambastes the dictator in the Washington Post.

These are the wages of dictatorship. Democracy holds the key to resolving Pakistan's problems. Musharraf hopes that other nations will prefer his despotism to the anarchy he claims would erupt were he to leave office. This is a lie that America and other Western nations should not accept. Tyranny is never a substitute for freedom, and there is no substitute for democracy.

There's an opening for a new reform era in Pakistan based on Democratic principles. The man standing in the way is named Busharraf.

This is disgusting, and really forces us to take a look at who are friends are. The traditional media characterized Bill Richardson as naive for saying in this week's debate that human rights can trump national security, but his point was that the two are complementary. When women are being jailed after they are gang-raped for being alone in a car with a man, there is a sense that this oppression breeds desperation, and eventually violent revolt. It's not an accident that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis.

• I still say that, in the event of a nuclear attack, the only creatures left will be cockroaches and Ahmad Chalabi.

• And finally, a quick recommend for the Romanian film 12:08 East of Bucharest. Very amusing. Basically the Romanian version of Wayne's World as a public affairs show.



You Punch A Bully In The Nose

During the first Yearly Kos convention in Las Vegas, I remember heading to my room and encountering a hotel guest with a Southern accent who wasn't an attendee. She asked me what the gathering was all about and I explained that it was a convention for a Democratic website. We got out of the elevator and right before she went into her room she turned to me and said, "I still don't like John Kerry."

It occurred to me that if I had said "I don't like George Bush" unsolicited, I would be seen as an angry vituperative blogger. But after reading this I think I understood why she didn't like Kerry. During the campaign, he didn't have the gumption to stand up for himself. That was Kerry the Presidential candidate, a construction of consultants. Kerry the man has no such problem.

Sen. John Kerry, whose 2004 presidential campaign was torpedoed by critics of his Vietnam War record, said Friday he has personally accepted Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens’ offer of $1 million to anyone who can disprove even a single charge of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

"While I am prepared to show they lied on allegation after allegation, you have generously offered to pay one million dollars for just one thing that can be proven false," Kerry wrote to Pickens. "I am prepared to prove the lie beyond any reasonable doubt."

The Massachusetts Democrat, a Navy veteran and former prosecutor, said he was willing to present his case directly to Pickens and would donate any proceeds to the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

In an interview, Kerry added: "It’s beyond me; it’s important for all the vets who served with me, who cared about it, whose own records were lied about. The problem is, it’s the way they operate on the other side, and we have to end swift-boating forever. The way to do that is to have this public accounting."

T. Boone Pickens is one of America's worst people, a filthy rich oilman who is one of the behind-the-scenes forces behind movement conservatism. He made a crack that he would give a million dollars to anyone who disproved any Swiftie allegation, expecting nobody to take him up on it. As soon as John Kerry challenged him, Pickens started changing everything around:

In his response, Pickens wrote: "I am certainly open to your challenge," but he said he would not pay Kerry unless the senator first provided him with copies of his wartime journals, as well as movies he shot while on patrol and his complete military records for 1971 to 1978.

Pickens said such documentation, which the group has previously sought, would be needed to disprove its ads.

"When you have done so, if you can then prove anything in the ads was materially untrue, I will gladly award $1 million. As you know, I have been a long and proud supporter of the American military and veterans’ causes," Pickens wrote.

He also proposed a counter-challenge: "If you cannot prove anything in the Swift Boat ads to be untrue, that you will make a $1 million gift to the charity I am choosing — the (Congressional) Medal of Honor Foundation."

Now who's being defensive? T. Boone Pickens is a bully, who thinks that the fact that he has more money than God will sufficiently stop anyone who dares to challenge him. John Kerry did and now he's changing things around, moving the goalposts and generally running scared.

This was a good response.

In his letter to Pickens, the senator challenged the billionaire’s honor.

“I trust that you are a man of your word, having made a very public challenge at a major Washington dinner, and look forward to taking you up on this challenge,” Kerry wrote.

Why is this important? Because liars and con artists ought to be exposed for what they are. The Swift Boat allegations may be old news, but John Kerry is offering a model for the next Democrat in the line of fire. We all wish he had done this sooner, but it's great that he's doing it now.

Labels: , , ,


Wake Up: Sen. Feinstein Did Not Kill Telecom Immunity

You can draw your own conclusions from what went down this weekend in Anaheim, where a physical altercation and an eventual squashing of the censure resolution to Dianne Feinstein made for an unusually interesting executive board meeting. But I have to call attention to what is being put out there as a growing meme, that DiFi somehow worked with Chris Dodd to "kill" telecom immunity in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. Art Torres in his speech to the party reiterated this point. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth, and anyone pushing this line is delivering blatant misinformation.

Sen. Feinstein voted AGAINST stripping immunity out of the Title II provisions of the bill. The eventual vote to report out a bill without immunity was simply a chance to buy time. As I noted the other day, James Risen's article in the New York Times nailed this:

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who also opposed Mr. Feingold's measure, pleaded with Mr. Leahy to defer the immunity issue because she wants more time to consider several compromise proposals.

What happened in the Judiciary Committee was a punt. There's going to be a floor fight, and NOTHING is resolved. DiFi wants to sign on to a bipartisan centrist compromise that probably won't be a compromise at all. If and when she does so, we can assess her position on the merits; for now, we can continue to tell her how we feel on the issue (And I hope Chairman Torres along with anyone else concerned about granting legal amnesty to companies who break the law and violate our privacy will continue to do so). But suggesting that she "led the fight" to kill telecom immunity is an insult to my intelligence. How can you kill something that's not dead, and where the so-called leader is actually looking for ways to return it to the bill on the floor? Try that logic on somebody else.

(Incidentally, the way certain progressive organizations whooped and hollered and jumped in to take credit for DiFi's vote, which was nothing more than a vote to take pressure off of her, didn't help matters.)

Labels: , , , ,


Just Curious

Why did the story that African-American protesters surrounded the Justice Department on Friday to get them to increase their prosecution of hate crimes get more attention in the media? I caught some of the speeches on C-SPAN and they were stirring, particuarly Al Sharpton, who called the dodge that states must handle issues of this nature "a return to state's rights" and the issues over which the Civil War was fought. The scene at the DoJ was dramatic. Yet, very little beyond a blurb here or there.

I'm trying to figure out if this is because of a bias against African-American issues in the traditional media, or that protests as a whole don't work anymore because they don't focus attention. Both of those are undercut by the extensive coverage of the march on Jena, Louisiana, of which this protest was a kind of sequel.

Labels: , , , ,