Saturday, October 15, 2005

Always Asking Questions

At firedoglake, "ReddHedd" has a good piece summarizing where we are in "Rovegate." To summarize the summary,
The clues to [Rove's] testimony are in the always cryptic remarks of sources familiar with Rove's testimony, i.e. from Rove himself or from someone on his legal defense team, which is the most likely source in my mind.

From the WaPo:
The grand jury investigating the CIA leak case pressed White House senior adviser Karl Rove yesterday to more fully explain his conversations with reporters about CIA operative Valerie Plame, including discrepancies between his testimony and the account provided by a key witness in the investigation, according to a source familiar with Rove's account.

The "source" went on to say that the grand jury itself was very interested in discrepencies in testimony. And regarding the "missing e-mail" and how it "refreshed" Rove's recollection of his talk with Cooper -- conveniently in my mind right before Rove had to testify again in this matter. (ooooh, what I wouldn't give to know whether Fitz or Rove found that e-mail or information about it first.)

Clearly Carol Leonnig and Jim VandeHei of the WaPo are thinking that something bigger than just an after-investigation report is coming down the pike. They've named Libby and Rove outright as potential indictments and added the "other administration officials" possibility as a kicker. Rove didn't go back to the White House after testimony -- maybe he needed a shower. Or maybe he went up to Camp David to meet with the Preznit, deciding to drive his Jag instead of taking the 'copter.

The whole piece is worth reading if you're curious.

Never let it be said that I don't promptly post corrections when I'm courteously asked

Got a comment yesterday from someone who posted anonymously but is almost certainly Marcus of the Salient Points blog. Marcus lives in Town Creek, Alabama, is a born-again Christian, and has an animated graphic on his page that is creepy and just not right.

It shows a sequence of scenes from (or that he associates with, rightly or wrongly) September 11, and the words "never forget who did it." Oddly, not a word about how going to war against a country that had nothing to do with September 11 jibes with "never forgetting who did it."

Anyway, elsewhere on Marcus's site, you'll find him decrying Americans' increasing rudeness. On a completely unrelated matter, the Salient Point(tm) he wanted to politely bring to my attention was in regards to that whole "Only 2% of black Americans approve of the job George W. Bush is doing as president" thing.

Here is what the brave, Christian Marcus, who I remind you again, hates rudeness, had to say to me.
I noticed neither you nor ODub [he means Oliver Willis]posted the correct figures which were updated by the WaPo (12%).

Nah, too much copying and pasting to bother, eh?

And well, gosh darn it, sure enough, he's right, the Washington Post did add an update to a column about the poll.

[Late Update: The Pew Research Center is just out with its latest poll, which has a larger sample, and it finds Bush's approval rating among blacks at 12 percent, down only slightly from 14 in July.

Of course, the same column also originally quoted
David Bositis, a senior political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which tracks African American public opinion, told me this morning that it's clear that Bush's job approval among blacks "has taken a hit from both the ongoing things in Iraq and what happened with Katrina."

But down to 2 percent? "I doubt that it's actually 2," he said.

"But would I be surprised if it's 10 or 12? No." And 10, he said, is typically "about as low as you can go" when it comes to approval ratings.

Still, Marcus is right, and I was wrong. 98% of black people do not disapprove of the way Bush does his job. It's only 88%. I know that may not seem like anything to get too excited about to you either, but you know what? I'm going to give it to him.

What with Karl Rove's big-deal fourth testimony, the White House's clumsy gaffe of the "chat" with U.S. soldiers, Bush's low ratings, Katrina, et all, people like Marcus need all the victories they can get.

So in the spirit of Christian charity, I'm going to give him this one. Oh, incidentally, if you scroll even further down Marcus's site, you'll find this good Christian man laughing cynically at a story about someone's pet cat who was eaten by a snake.

In a weird way, I admire him for just coming out and saying it

Right-wing radio host and conservative pundit Neal Boortz, who is given camera time on CNN and Fox, today voiced what most of us already think right-wing conservatives believe. It's just most of the time, they're too crafty to admit it publically.

Now, however, what with Bush's approval rating hitting new lows on a seemingly daily basis, Tom Delay's legal issues and so on, I guess he's decided to voice his deepest beliefs at the top of his voice.

This is what he said:

if we are faced with a disaster in this country, which group do we want to save? The rich or the poor? Now, if you have time, save as many people as you can. But if you have to set some priorities, where do you go?

Who is a drag on society?

[Poor]people don't achieve squat. They sit around all the time waiting for somebody else to take care of them. They have children they can't afford. They're uneducated. They can barely read.

Well, hell, yes, we should save the rich people first. You know, they're the ones that are responsible for this prosperity.

That's it Neal, there now, don't you feel better? I know you needed that.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Oh look, it's The Admirable Crichton

Blogger Ed, whose desire to be known as "the Captain" we've raised eyebrows at before, takes issue with that poll suggesting that black people don't care much for George Bush.

It's kind of a dazzling display of the old "baffle 'em with bullshit" technique. I'm a smart guy, and I know those of you who read this are smart guys and gals. But I defy you to understand this sentence without reading it three times:

So the biggest free-fall in history has George Bush losing 2 points among a demographic which proportionally voted for him in reality one point lower last November than where he shows now.

This though, is what I love.

UPDATE: CQ reader and night owl Kyle H. just saw Conan O'Brian use the 2% polling number on his show. Welcome to the birth of an urban legend, yet another one from the fertile womb of Katrina.

"Urban legend." Yes, if not for the Washington Post, Conan O'Brien and their ilk, them uppity black folk would realize they have nothing to complain about, especially not in the wake of Katrina, and George W. Bush is in fact a brilliant president.

Bright idea, uncle Walter

Via Daily Kos.

Walter Cronkite wrote a letter to the NYT regarding that same "Democrats See Dream of '06 Victory Taking Form" story to which I linked yesterday. In it, he suggests an idea for how Democrats can turn that dream into action.

A suggestion by which the Democratic Party could command the greatest public attention for its positive agenda: It could within weeks call an extraordinary midterm convention to draw up its platform.

The convention would not need to be expensive. The delegates could be those who attended the 2004 convention. Their meeting would be open to the public and of course the press.

In sharp contrast to the secrecy of the Bush administration, it would let the public, if only remotely, share in the construction of the Democratic platform.

I think this is a good, possibly even great idea. If the poll at Daily Kos is anything to go by, so do a lot of other people...

the British left will never like us

So rightward blogger Tom Smith said yesterday. I wonder what he thinks of the latest person to state doubts over the basis for the Iraq war. He'll find it in this column by Tina Brown. You can wade through some of Brown's gossipy style (in which case my condolences) or you can read what I think are the highlights here.

The healthiest aspect of the Harriet Miers nomination is that women haven't rallied to her cause. Ten years ago, there would have been a lot of reflexive solidarity about keeping the Sandra Day O'Connor spot on the Supreme Court from reverting to male type. But every female lawyer I've spoken with in the past week skips right past the sisterly support into a rant about Miers's meager qualifications or her abject obeisance to power. The good news is that for women, it seems, Miers's nomination is like the moment for blacks in Hollywood when it was suddenly okay to cast an African American actor as something other than a perfect hero. The Sidney Poitier phase is definitively over.

Twenty years or even 10 years ago ABC's "Commander in Chief" would have been a sitcom, not a drama. Now it's Bush who's the sitcom, though the laughs are bitter. He's the biggest reason why female leaders suddenly seem so relevant. He has debased the currency of machismo. From Iraq to New Orleans and back to Washington, his empty posturings, bonehead mistakes and panicky pratfalls have turned testosterone into Kryptonite. The cultural stage is being set for a woman president, even if the current understudies, from Hillary to Condi, end up stumbling over their own props or never come out of the wings.

Actually, "Hail To the Chief" was a sitcom, exactly 20 years ago, with Patty Duke in the Geena Davis role. Here though, is the scoop:

The former chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain, Lord Palumbo, who lunched with [Margaret Thatcher] six months ago, told me recently what she said when he asked her if, given the intelligence at the time, she would have made the decision to invade Iraq. "I was a scientist before I was a politician, Peter," she told him carefully. "And as a scientist I know you need facts, evidence and proof -- and then you check, recheck and check again. The fact was that there were no facts, there was no evidence, and there was no proof. As a politician the most serious decision you can take is to commit your armed services to war from which they may not return."

Margaret Thatcher. Margaret Thatcher saying there were no facts, there was no evidence, and there was no proof. So...yeah. I'm wondering how the right will take this...

Ink 19 Update

Hey, remember when I used to write reviews? This is Emily Easterly.

Go, VFW!

These originally appeared in the Claremore Progress and The Nation. I've stitched together, re-ordered and otherwise edited some of the paragraphs to what I consider better effect; my apologies to the original writers.

A funeral was held in Kansas a couple of days ago for Staff Sgt. John Glen Doles.
Chelsea’s main street was lined with American Flags in honor of Doles, who was killed when he and five others were ambushed by enemy fire last week in Afghanistan. He was laid to rest with honors in a small cemetery southeast of Chelsea.

Doles’ team leader and 14 other fellow soldiers from Fort Polk in Louisiana who either trained or served with Doles attended the funeral.

Staff Sgt. Adam Oliver, Doles’ team leader, said, Doles “was the hardest worker I’ve ever seen in my life. He was one of those guys that everybody liked and probably the best soldier I’ve ever been in charge of. He was always willing to go the distance and beyond without ever being asked.”

Staff Sgt. Stephen Podymaitis, said “I’m just a better man for having known him.”

Podymaitis said he and his family lived next door to Doles and his family and their two sons practically grew up together.

“He brought happiness to everybody’s life,” Podymaitis said. Still in disbelief that his friend is gone Podymaitis said: “He’s a brother in arms and a brother in heart.”

Chelsea Mayor Kenny Weast said he received a fax last Tuesday saying six members of a Kansas church that believes God is punishing the U.S. for protecting homosexuals by killing soldiers overseas would be in Chelsea to protest at the funeral.

Weast contacted local law enforcement and a successful plan was devised.

Said Weast: “We planned for the worst and hoped for the best.”

Weast’s own feelings about the protest, however resonated those of the town.

“What a tragedy to have a group like this protest the day of the funeral, one of the hardest days this family will have. It makes me sick,” he said.

Chelsea residents...believed God spoke on their behalf as the engines of more than 100 Veterans of Foreign Wars motorcycles drowned out the voices of the Westboro Baptist Church members who were allowed to protest from 1-1:30 p.m. before the 2 p.m. funeral services.

The American Legion Riders from Southeast Kansas, which represented a number of Kansas towns and communities along with members of other organized motorcycle groups, attended the funeral to protest the protesters.

But the No. 1 reason was to show support for Staff Sgt. Doles and his family and to oppose Fred Phelps, who is the leader of the anti-homosexual group.

The bikers succeeded in keeping the protesters out of sight and sound of the Doles family but for anyone else close enough to see their brightly colored signs spoke loud and clear: “GOD IS YOU OR ENEMY; GOD HATES THE USA; GOD IS AN AMERICAN TERRORIST; TOO LATE TO PRAY; THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS; YOU’RE GOING TO HELL; GOD HAS SPOKEN IT’S NOT A BLESSING IT’S A CURSE and AMERICA IS DOOMED.”

The locals had a couple of signs of their own. Three older women held up a white sheet that said “SHOW AMAZING GRACE” and two young people held a cardboard sign saying “YE WITHOUT SIN CAST THE FIRST STONE.”

Kansas has a history of rejecting Phelps. From The Nation in March of this year:
"First, Topekans voted to reject Phelps' bid to overturn the city's ordinance banning discrimination of gays in municipal hiring...Topekans voted it down 14,285 to 12,795...[Then], in the city council primary, Phelps' 20-year-old granddaughter and fellow anti-gay activist, Jael Phelps, lost big to Topeka's first and only openly gay council member, Tiffany Muller. Muller, who initiated the ordinance last November, received 1,329 votes to Phelps' 202.

The only person asking, "What's the matter with Kansas?" right now is the Rev. Fred Phelps. His decades of anti-gay activism--which include picketing outside hate crime victim Matthew Sheppard's funeral with "God Hates Fags" signs--have apparently had little effect in his own backyard."

You always gotta think about the acronym

Ladies Against Feminism, or LAF. As in, well you've got to laugh, haven't you? And yes, they're serious. My favorite--the story that starts,

Oh, what joy to see young girls--no matter the different ages--showing affection and care for each other!

KEITHA: Yeah...

ANNABEL: Stop it.

That legacy question

The latest poll via Yahoo! News:
Forty-one percent of respondents said Bush's presidency will be seen as unsuccessful in the long run, while 26 percent said the opposite.

In January, 36 percent said successful and 27 percent said unsuccessful.

Yes, Mr. Bush has had a bad year.

Seven in 10 said they want the next president to offer policies and programs that are different from the Bush administration's.

Only half said they wanted the next president to offer different policies in 2000, at the end of the Clinton presidency. By a 2-1 margin, people said the Bush administration has had a negative impact on politics and the way government works.

Republicans give the president mixed reviews in many of these areas. Almost half of Republicans said Bush's policies have made the deficit worse and just 12 percent say he has improved that situation.

Deep breaths, everybody. It's coming to an's over. It's finally over.

(Of course, in the horror films, that would be the point where Jason comes out of the lake or Freddy pulls your mother through the doorway for one last scare...)

PS: Something tells me one or two of the Republican blogs will be challenging this poll. Bulletins when they happen.

The most indecently cute puppy you've ever seen in your life

Courtesy of AmericaBlog, where you'll find more pictures, if you can stand it.

And an embrace back to you

Well, we've heard from Mariano, the "mystery artist" whose drawings I like, who comments:
Hello! I am Mariano! I am glad much that you are pleased by my drawings (the one that you published is also my favorite). Thank you for the commentary. An embrace

The Sherman Brothers were right. It is a small world after all...actually, I think I'm beginning to understand why I'm pleased by the drawings. This first picture that I'm running now I like because it reminds me of a Duran Duran cover.

And the second one...tell me that isn't Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go's.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Oh, wow

The wheels are coming off the bus faster than I ever imagined.

Josh Marshall:
In this morning's gaggle, Scott McClellan got asked whether the teleconference the president had with troops in Tikrit was scripted. Here's what he said ...

QUESTION: How were they selected, and are their comments to the president pre-screened, any questions or anything...

QUESTION: Not at all?

MCCLELLAN: This is a back-and-forth.

Here's how the pool report (i.e., from the designated reporter on the scene) described what happened.

The soldiers, nine U.S. men and one U.S. woman, plus an Iraqi, had been tipped off in advance about the questions in the highly scripted event. Allison Barber, deputy assistant to the Secretary of Defense for internal communication, could be heard asking one soldier before the start of the event, "Who are we going to give that [question] to?"

Wait, it gets better. Later, McClellan said Helen Thomas opposed the "war on terror."
McCLELLAN: Well, Helen, the President recognizes that we are engaged in a global war on terrorism. And when you're engaged in a war, it's not always pleasant, and it's certainly a last resort. But when you engage in a war, you take the fight to the enemy, you go on the offense. And that's exactly what we are doing. We are fighting them there so that we don't have to fight them here. September 11th taught us --

THOMAS It has nothing to do with -- Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

McCLELLAN: Well, you have a very different view of the war on terrorism, and I'm sure you're opposed to the broader war on terrorism. The President recognizes this requires a comprehensive strategy, and that this is a broad war, that it is not a law enforcement matter.


TERRY MORAN On what basis do you say Helen is opposed to the broader war on terrorism?

McCLELLAN: Well, she certainly expressed her concerns about Afghanistan and Iraq and going into those two countries. I think I can go back and pull up her comments over the course of the past couple of years.

MORAN And speak for her, which is odd.

Let's remember that a press secretary is the second most visible face in any administration. If he's making mistakes like, backstage at the West Wing right now must be drama outside even Aaron Sorkin's imagination.

BTW, if you missed the story about the White House's seemingly inexplicable screw-up of this Presidential "chat" (GWB, you're no FDR. You're not even Jimmy Carter), Mark has a good wrap-up.

We politics junkies have known for a fact for a long while that almost all Bush's public events are tightly scripted and/or screened. But what the hell made anyone think they could get away with this?
This "media event" was carefully rehearsed and loosely-scripted and someone -- maybe the same someone who erred by suggesting the format in the first place -- compounded the disaster. They allowed the media to see and tape the rehearsals where the troops were told what would be discussed in seeming spontaneity. I would love to hear the explanation of why they allowed this to be seen. It made Bush look like a marionette who walks in and does what his own handlers don't trust him to do without careful preparation. We all know that much of what we see on television that's represented as unplanned is meticulously prearranged. Most producers, however, know enough not to show the world just how prearranged.

How awful was it all? I felt sorry for George W. Bush. That's how awful it all was.

The other video worth a look is the press briefing that Scott McClellan engaged in later, denying to reporters who'd see the rehearsal that the event was rehearsed. I don't know why anyone with an ounce of self-respect would ever want to be a presidential press secretary. At some point in every administration, your boss is caught picking his nose, there's videotape of him picking his nose, and you're sent out to deny that he picked his nose and to suggest that there's something seriously wrong with a reporter who thinks so. For the last few years, the White House Press Corps has taken polite dictation and asked questions that don't even measure up to the softball standard. Wiffleball is more like it...or Nerf. I dunno if they're just lazy or if, as I suspect, there's some fear there of feeding the rage of those who scream "Liberal Media" every time there's something on the news they don't like. But every so often lately, there's been some Scott McClellan tap-dance that is so far from provable reality that even the guy from Fox News has to go, "Come on."

(Emphasis is mine.)

That's what I mean by "seemingly inexplicable." Maybe they thought they were still dealing with a press corps that didn't do their job. As for why the press corps has now decided to do their job, I'm thinking it has to be the new George Clooney movie...

Tell me the truth, ladies

Don't you feel silly sitting there with breasts that can't do anything save be pleasing asthetically and/or feed children? Well, good news.
Computer chips that store music could soon be built into a woman's breast implants.

One boob could hold an MP3 player and the other the person's whole music collection.

BT futurology, who have developed the idea, say it could be available within 15 years.

BT Laboratories' analyst Ian Pearson said flexible plastic electronics would sit inside the breast. A signal would be relayed to headphones, while the device would be controlled by Bluetooth using a panel on the wrist.

According to The Sun he said: "It is now very hard for me to think of breast implants as just decorative. If a woman has something implanted permanently, it might as well do something useful."

Hey, I'm not knocking this

I've known one or two girls who had crushes on Kermit. It's just that I've always seen myself more as Fozzie.

You are like Kermit

Half way down the stairs is the place where you sit, there isn't any other place quite like it. It's not at the bottom, it's not at the top, but this is the place where you'll always hop.

Sad sack!

Which sorry excuse of a Muppet are you?

And black people don't care for George Bush either, Kanye

Oliver Willis:
Holy cow.
I missed this data point because it’s only in the video that goes with MSNBC’s story about Bush’s bad poll numbers.

Only 2% of black Americans approve of the job George Bush is doing as president, according to Tim Russert - the lowest that number has ever been since they’ve been doing polling.

Again, only 2% of black Americans - liberal, moderate, conservative, Democrat, and Republican - approve of George W. Bush as their president.

You gotta think the RNC is about to just give up its whole dog and pony show giving lip service to blacks.

Is it wrong to think that this casts the picture I posted yesterday in yet another new light?

Something to send to your (honest) conservative friends

So they might be reminded that even in these times, they still have one or two things to be proud of. A blogger calling him-or-herself "Poppy" writes:
Bill Frist may be innocent in his sale of the family business' stock weeks before it tanked due to poor earnings, but it is the Security and Exchange Commission that is pressing the issue. The SEC is part of the Bush administration, and has been under Bush control for a little under five years, pretty much ensuring that the liberals didn't set this one up.

The people most upset about Cronyism right now are the religious right as they look at Harriet Miers. True, we were pretty pissed off that former horse judge judge Michael Brown's incompetence lost lives, but it was when Fox News reporters on the scene yelled at their anchors that things were really bad that it his the fan. Then Michelle Malkin (hardly a liberal) started attacking the appointment of Julie Myers to the head of immigration control with the headline: NO MORE CRONYISM: BUSH DHS NOMINEE DOESN'T DESERVE THE JOB.

And the right wing has gone off the rails about the cronyism in appointing Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Democrats reacted with caution and, sometimes, with approval to the appointment and the blogs and religous right folks went ballistic. The White House has held conference calls and pleaded with both the internet kids and the churchified to accept Miers as their own, but it is not happening.

Now, you might get Tom DeLay as a liberal attack, except for the fact that Ronnie Earle is hardly a partisan hack. He has indicted 12 Democrats and (prior to the Texas Campaign Finance scandal) four Republicans. He has a winning record of 13-3. If he lets his partisan Democrat leaning influence his work as a District Attoney he has a funny way of showing it.

Scooter Libby, Karl Rove and maybe Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney are in deep doo-doo over the outing of Valerie Wilson, nee Plame, but it was not liberals who led the attack. The CIA requested that the Justice Department investigate the leak. The Justice Department tried, but discovered too many conflicts and hired a special prosecutor. The prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, was appointed a United State's Attorney by President George Bush, and is a Republican. Not a single liberal there.

The same Justice Department used a federal grand jury to indict Jack Abramoff in the SunCruz Casino's scandal for wire fraud and conspiracy. His co-indictees are also accused of a mob-style hit.

The USA Today profile I posted a couple of days ago says " registered to vote with no party affiliation." I'm not sure where "Poppy" got the idea that Fitzgerald is a Republican; he-or-she doesn't source the comment.

But whether that specific point is right or wrong, I think the larger point is well taken: However much we liberals are enjoying the shitstorm Bush Republicans are currently experiencing, we can't claim much credit for it at all. We're Democrats, for god's sake, we can't even decide whether to put on our shoes or find our keys first.

The Republican party is being brought down by two things: Its own hubris, and the fact that there are still some actual, honest-to-god patriots among them. Those who put...well, there's no other way to say it: Those who put truth, justice and the American way above politics.

This will likely be the nicest thing you ever see me say about any conservatives that are not known to me personally, so you might want to save it.

Harold Pinter wins Nobel Prize in Literature

Now, I actually haven't seen or read as much Pinter as I should, so this post is not about the rights or wrongs of the award. I'll merely note the fact that, as the BBC News said,

His spare style, full of threatening silences, has given rise to the adjective "Pinteresque".
I'd say when your style gives rise to an adjective, named after you no less, that people recognize the meaning of even if they don't know your can fairly be said you've had an profound effect on your field.

But again, this post is not about that. No, this is another in my series on the fascinating (to me) way the rightward blogs of the world view the arts.

Let's start with The Right Coast, where one Tom Smith manages to out-Kerry Kerry when it comes to long-winded, redundant rambling. Quoted in toto:

Pinter wins Nobel Prize in Literature
By Tom Smith

Do you care? I don't care. All that existential yak yak bores me to tears. It's so boring, I'd rather watch a NASCAR race, and that's saying something. British lefty moral superiority also bores me senseless. I'm glad I don't live in the UK anymore, except I do miss the ale at lunch time and the sausage and eggs, even if it is a good way to get Mad Cow. I think we should just deal with the fact that sometimes life sucks, and spare ourselves the agony of sitting through a Pinter play. Sometimes life sucks. Now you know. That wasn't so bad, was it? And it didn't take the whole evening. Now there's time to go to the pub and have 2 or 4 pints of real ale. Then it turns out, life doesn't suck so much! And we should also just deal with the fact that the British left will never like us, and the left in general will never like us, because hating America is all that is left of the left. If the enemies of America advocated enslaving women and everybody else except a few pampered scholars under a wacko medieval theocracy, the left would suddenly see their point and support them. Oh, that's right, they do. They must really miss Uncle Joe. Poor things. Nothing to do but sit around giving awards to each other.

Ahem. Moving on, we find the always-delightful Michelle Malkin. To her as well, Pinter's politics and specifically his opposition to the war are more important than any so-called "literary achivement" or "contribution" he might have made.

Funny, somehow I don't see "Malkinesque" entering any Literary Encyclopedias any time soon. She goes on to sarcastically "praise" a poem of Pinter's, "American Football." Here's the poem as it appears on Pinter's own website, with commentary by his biographer and Pinter himself and here's Malkin's hysterical, tired attempt at lit-crit.

You be the judge. Personally, I find it impressive. I find it even more impressive that, because it contains language that some would find obscene or offensive, Malkin implies that the poem is no better than those one finds in the average restroom.

She must go to a better class of restroom than I do. The graffiti I've seen scrawled in such premises rarely rises above the level of "Here I sit, broken-hearted..."

Finally, going "Outside The Beltway," we find Steve Verdon, who manages to combine the vocabulary of a stoner with the originality of a clone. Most of his post is devoted to "me-tooing" Ms. Malkin, with the exception of the following piece of brilliance:

Harold Pinter British playwright and poet has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The citation reads as,

"who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms"


Go back to the bong, Steve. It's okay.

My point is this: To people like this, Pinter's work doesn't matter. I doubt they've seen or read enough of it to be entitled to an opinion. He criticized their politics and their war (the one they support without actually fighting).

Therefore, he must be crushed. Have I mentioned lately how much dealing with Joss Whedon fans prepared me for reading the blogs of right-wingnuts?

Stupid, stupid Democrats part II: Revenge on '94?

In the New York Times, Robin Toner writes:

Suddenly, Democrats see a possibility in 2006 they have long dreamed of: a sweeping midterm election framed around what they describe as the simple choice of change with the Democrats or more of an unpopular status quo with the Republican majority.

Well, great. Be even better if we actually had some change to offer.

In the meantime, the different strategies of the parties are apparent. "These guys represent the status quo, and we are change," said Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. His Republican counterpart, Representative Thomas M. Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, argued in a recent memorandum that, "in the end, Congressional elections have less to do with current events, opinions and polls, than they do with the fundamentals," which he defined as "money, message and members."

"We are change." Sigh. Shut up, Emanuel.

Elsewhere, the Republican PunditGuy has an interesting response to the same story. He agrees; Republicans do have cause for concern. But not because they're being increasingly revealed to be crooks and incompetents more concerned with covering their own asses than those they were elected to serve. No, because if enough people just think they are, that's the ball game.

Even if the Iraq, Katrina, Rita, and Harriet combination isn't the perfect storm Democrats are praying for, it is only the perception that matters. If a majority of Americans believe those forces, along with the problems encircling DeLay, Rove, and Frist are enough to topple the GOP, we'll experience an '06 cycle like the Democrats experienced the '94 cycle.

He overlooks the Terri Schiavo case when listing the problems that have made a majority of Americans turn against the republicans. I continue to think that you can hardly overestimate its importance. It was the moment the majority finally began to realize the full extent of Bush's arrogance, and raised concerns about his "moral agenda" that I don't think have been forgotten. But he continues:

We can't afford to let the Democrats take advantage of the current environment. For if they do, they'll command the attention, they'll control the dialog, and they'll convince the public that Republicans need to go.

And that's not reality.

Well, I wouldn't worry about the Democrats taking advantage of the current enviroment too hard. The Democrats couldn't take advantage of a dunken, gorgeous nympomaniac on her 18th birthday.

No, if I were PunditGuy, I'd be cautioning my party that they can't afford to keep creating the current enviroment. But that's just me. From where I'm sitting, if Democrats do make any gains in 2006, it's not going to be because they offered such a shining vision of hope.

It's going to be because the other guys spent a year showing why their election was even more unthinkable. In other words, this is not going to be '94 all over again. It's going to be Bush 1 vs. Dukakis all over again. Only this time, the republicans are in the tank.

My intention, ask my opinion, with no excuse...

The word "intention" seems to be bleating around the bloggers today. Funny thought, really. Sometime around the middle of last year, Bush & Rumsfeld were reduced to using it as after-the-fact justification for the invasion of Iraq. As in, well no, we never found those weapons and (at that time) over 500 U.S. soldiers had been killed...but, you know, Saddam Hussien fully intended to...

To which my response today remains basically the same as it was then: I have every intention of sleeping with Jodie Foster the very first chance I get, but that doesn't mean I'm the unknown father of her children.

Yesterday, Hoffmania grasped at similar straws in saying that his money's still on Gore. After all, he only said he has no plans and expectations of ever being a candidate again...

But here's the big one. Today, Richard Cohen of the Washington Post published a column in which he argues that:
The best thing Patrick Fitzgerald could do for his country is get out of Washington, return to Chicago and prosecute some real criminals. As it is, all he has done so far is send Judith Miller of the New York Times to jail and repeatedly haul this or that administration high official before a grand jury, investigating a crime that probably wasn't one in the first place but that now, as is often the case, might have metastasized into some sort of coverup -- but, again, of nothing much. Go home, Pat.

The alleged crime involves the outing of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative whose husband, Joseph Wilson IV, had gone to Africa at the behest of the agency and therefore said he knew that the Bush administration -- no, actually, the president himself -- had later misstated (in the State of the Union address, yet) the case that Iraq had sought uranium in Niger.

Wilson made his case in a New York Times op-ed piece. This rocked the administration, which was already fighting to retain its credibility in the face of mounting and irrefutable evidence that the case it had made for war in Iraq -- weapons of mass destruction, above all -- was a fiction. So it set out to impeach Wilson's credibility, purportedly answering the important question of who had sent him to Africa in the first place: his wife. This was a clear case of nepotism, the leakers just as clearly implied.

Not nice, but it was what Washington does day in and day out. (For some historical perspective see George Clooney's "Good Night, and Good Luck'' about Edward R. Murrow and that most odious of leakers-cum-character assassins, Joseph McCarthy.) This is rarely considered a crime. In the Plame case, it might technically be one, but it was not the intent of anyone to out a CIA agent and have her assassinated (which happened once) but to assassinate the character of her husband. This is an entirely different thing. She got hit by a ricochet.

(Emphasis mine)

Well! As Matthew Gross writes:
It goes without saying that Cohen has no way of knowing what the "intent" of anyone was in the matter; but it is also worth saying that intent has nothing to do with it, and lack of intent does not absolve a person of a crime. The drunk who plows his car into a gaggle of pedestrians had no intent to jump the curb and kill people, but still we find him guilty of manslaughter. Anyone who's ever made a mistake on their taxes knows that lack of intent doesn't stop the IRS from demanding payment of the requisite penalty. And, when you get pulled over for speeding, claiming to have not seen the sign doesn't mean the cop will let you go, or that you won't have to pay the fine. Lack of intent may serve as an absolution when you accidentally bump into someone on the sidewalk; but in a criminal case, lacking intent-- while often factoring into the penalty phase-- is not the same thing as innocence.

So why would someone argue because, supposedly, high-ups in the White House had no intention of commiting a crime, they should not be tried for doing so? Well, believe it or not, I think Crooks and Liars is onto something when they ask,
Is Cohen just frustrated because he can't get any information out of Fitzgerald?
It's easy to see why they would think that when you read Cohen's paragraphs like this one:

I have no idea what Fitzgerald will do. My own diligent efforts to find out anything have come to naught. Fitzgerald's non-speaking spokesman would not even tell me if his boss is authorized to issue a report, as several members of Congress are now demanding -- although Joseph E. diGenova, a former U.S. attorney in Washington, tells me that only a possibly unprecedented court order would permit it. Whatever the case, I pray Fitzgerald is not going to reach for an indictment or, after so much tumult, merely fold his tent, not telling us, among other things, whether Miller is the martyr to a free press that I and others believe she is or whether, as some lefty critics hiss, she's a double-dealing grandstander, in the manner of some of her accusers.

I mean, maybe it's just me, but I think that reads very much like a petulant child. Fine, you don't wanna tell me what you're doing, you big bully? I hope nothing comes of your stupid investigation! See if I care! Nyeah!

No wonder he sympathizes with the Bush White House.'s that war going?

From CBS News:

"In previous polls, adding Saddam Hussein’s name to the question has caused opinion toward the war to become more favorable. That isn’t the case in this poll."

Public support for U.S. involvement in Iraq continues to fall. By two to one, Americans reject financing the war through an increased federal deficit, and 62% would finance paying for the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast by cutting spending in Iraq.

More than half of Americans think Iraq is not secure enough to hold its constitutional referendum in just under a week, and many doubt that country will ever become a stable democracy.


Public opinion is now fairly solidly against the war in Iraq. More than half of Americans – 55% - think the U.S. should have stayed out of Iraq (the highest figure to date), while 41% think taking military action there was the right thing to do. As the war began, Americans overwhelmingly approved of U.S. action against Iraq; 69% said the U.S. did the right thing in taking military action (the highest level of support in our polls for the war). Support for the war waned in 2004.

You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Playbill News reports:

Composer Adam Guettel and screenwriter William Goldman will collaborate on a musical version or the hit fairy tale film "The Princess Bride," the New York Post reported.

Well, "hit" is stretching things a bit. "The Princess Bride," while certainly not a flop, was only a modest success in theaters, but developed a following on video. Still, the idea of turning the story into a musical is a great one; it's romantic and sweeping and dramatic and funny; choice material for musicalization.

I suppose there's no chance of getting Mandy Patinkin, who played a featured role in the movie and of course has a great singing voice, to reprise his role for the stage. Inigo Montoya is a well-loved part, but it's not the lead, and casting a star (in Broadway terms) of Patinkin's calliber would tend to detract.

The material would make for a decided shift to the lighthearted for Guettel, whose two previous musicals, Floyd Collins and The Light in the Piazza, both examine the darker and moodier sides of human nature.

Goldman is a famed screenwriter known for the films "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "All the President's Men" and "Marathon Man." He also wrote the classic examination of the Broadway world, "The Season."

I've heard Guettel's Light in the Piazza score and was not impressed. But I think it won a Tony, so what do I know? I think it's interesting that nowhere in this item do they mention that Goldman is also a novelist and "Princess Bride" was originally a (IMO superior) novel.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Wanna see a truly chilling picture?

Yeah, it's safe for work......sorta. Shakespeare's Sister is having a "Caption This Photo" contest. I hear the girl in the middle saying to her friend: "Steady...steady...they'll be gone soon..."

Al Gore: Don't believe the hype

There's a bit of tittle going around the blogs in the last day or so to the effect that Al Gore will challenge Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries. The thinking seems to be that some people--especially the so-called "Hollywood elite"--really, really don't like Hillary.

They think she's a moderate in liberal's clothing, and they want a liberal, not just someone conservatives happen to despise. I have some sympathy for that position. Here's my problem. She's not my first choice either in a wide-open field, but I think if it came down to just the two of them, I'd have to go with her.

Even though there's no doubt in my mind that Gore would have been better suited than Bush has turned out to be to face the pressures he has faced. For one thing, I'm guessing a man who served two tours in Vietnam does not commit troops willy-nilly.

Yes, I have a lot of respect for Al Gore, I want to make that explicit. But I suspect for a lot of people who love the idea of Gore running again, it's about trying to re-fight 2000. And, sorry, it's over. We lost. We got screwed. And one the reasons we got screwed is because not enough people from our side emulated Spencer Tracy's great advice about the secret of good acting: Stand on the balls of your feet and tell the truth.

And one of the people who failed to do that is Al Gore. He chose to appease, bend, and compromise on something as important as honest and free elections. He chose to "play nice" with the other team who had been fouling him for months (Invented the internet, yuk yuk).

He was a chump. We've had a chimp, we don't need a chump. Yes, after five years of Bush, Gore looks great, but I have not forgotten why I couldn't vote for him in the first place (I voted for Nader, which I remind you did not seem nearly as crazy in 2000. And Gore took Washington State anyway).

I have not forgotten that he wanted to place DINO Joe Lieberman a heartbeat away from the presidency. I have not forgotten that he conducted some of the most meaningless hearings in the history of the senate (and that's gotta be saying something). Purple Rain contains a song that mentions masturbation--this is a job for the United States senate!

I have not forgotten that he fell into lock-step with the prevailing beltway attitude that "Monicagate" cast some sort of pall over the country. When the country kept saying we don't care that much, and we certainly don't think it's grounds for impeachment or resignation.

Finally, there is occasional talk that this hypothetical Gore who would run again would be the "new" Al Gore, the "progressive firebrand." Personally, I think the entire reason Gore now comes off that way is precisely because he's not running for office anymore.

I think if he were to put on his candidate suit once again, we would see the new Al Gore slowly but surely replaced by the old Al Gore, the automaton. I think right now he serves his country best as an outside critic who knows his shit, knows the ways of Washington, and has nothing to prove. If and when a Democrat wins again he or she would be wise to make Gore one of their most trusted advisors.

But I can't see a good result from him running again for the forseeable future.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

the three greatest americans of all time

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo's having a survey to make a list of the 100 greatest Americans of all time. To vote, you pick your top three, ranked in order. I went with:

  1. Thomas Jefferson
  2. Benjamin Franklin
  3. John Adams

Call me a traditionalist. No them, no America.

Americans want Bush impeached

By a margin of 50% to 44%, Americans want Congress to consider impeaching President Bush if he lied about the war in Iraq, according to a new poll commissioned by, a grassroots coalition that supports a Congressional investigation of President Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

The poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, the highly-regarded non-partisan polling company. The poll interviewed 1,001 U.S. adults on October 6-9.

The poll found that 50% agreed with the statement:

"If President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable by impeaching him."

44% disagreed, and 6% said they didn't know or declined to answer. The poll has a +/- 3.1% margin of error.

Follow this link to read the full press release for more details, including the fact that a majority of U.S. adults already believe he did lie. And that more Americans want Bush impeached than ever wanted if for Clinton.

Curious, isn't it, that that darned liberal media hasn't picked up this story?

You know what I'd do, if I were a Republican plotting to run for president in '08 like oh, say, John McCain? I'd be the first one to bring this up.

You know what I might do, if I were the Democratic party?

I might just buy myself a little commercial time to run during Commander In Chief, Law & Order SVU, NCIS, My Name Is Earl or something like that. And I'd buy this commercial time to run on the first Tuesday in November (besides being popular, all those shows run on Tuesday).

And in this commercial, I'd have Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean open by asking the voters: Are you better off than you were one year ago? Than you were five years ago? Is the country?

And then I'd have him spend a brief time--the ad should be no more than a minute--saying concisely what it is that Democrats think should be done to help fix the problems in this country.

At no time should he endorse any specific candidate; he should just essentially say, losing hope? There is another way. Of course, between then and now that would mean the Democratic braintrust would have to actually come up with another way.

But anyway, you'll notice I said if I were the Democratic party...

(I've been meaning to put this idea out there for a while, thanks to The Left Coaster, who has his own ideas for what Democrats should do, for the excuse.)

Let 'em dangle

Firedoglake has a good entry, sort of a preview of coming attractions for the weeks ahead. In case you hadn't heard...
Okay, now it is officially getting good. Two days in a row, Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC has featured guests and commentary on how much trouble Rove and others in the President's inner circle are likely to be facing in Traitorgate.

On Friday, Michael Isikoff previewed tidbits from his article in Newsweek (even though they didn't come out and say there was a short article in the offing), along with panel discussions with The Washington Post's John Harris and The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes. The transcript for this segment of the show is on the Hardball website and makes for some intriguing, if very much read-between-the-lines reading.

That's just the beginning; read all here.

God help me, I'd like to listen to that

David Lee Roth is replacing Howard Stern...but unfortunately, apparently only on the east coast. I say "unfortunately" because I've always gotten a kick out of David Lee Roth.

Say what you will, the man knew how to make rock videos: Our flamboyant, larger-than-life lead singer surrounded by an endless procession of girls in bikinis. You have no idea how brilliant the "California Girls" video was when I was 14.

He was also worth his weight in quotes, which is why I'm anticipating such gems when he has access to the airwaves on a regular basis. My favorites? "The bad news is, we've lost our way. The good news is, we're way ahead of schedule!"

And of course: "Always remember two things. Point one, don't sweat the small stuff. Point two, it's all small stuff!" He's everything you want in a rock star, basically: Entertaining, dumb, and full of it.

Deep inside, didn't we all know this, really?

What's your ideal job?

Ben Varkentine, Your ideal job is a Soap Actor.

"Damnit, Dominique...I wasn't ready to play God today!"

Portrait of a threatening bully

Say, you know who I'd like to know more about? Patrick Fitzgerald, special council in the "treasongate" case. You know, the guy the white House aides say is a threatening bully.

Fortunately, USA Today has a brief profile of the man. Let's see just what kind of a bastard he really is...
When defense attorney Ron Safer heard that Patrick Fitzgerald would lead an inquiry into the leak of a CIA operative's name, his first thought was that, from the Bush administration's perspective, “they could not have picked a worse person.”

Whoops. Because he's a threatening bully, right? That's why he was such a bad choice.
Friends and critics agree that his integrity is unassailable and that he is relentless. The list of people he has prosecuted — including al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, former Illinois governor George Ryan and New York mobsters — shows he has no qualms about going after the powerful.

Wait a minute. "Friend and critics agree that his integrity is unassailable?" That doesn't sound like a threatening bully to me. Let's read on:

“He has no agenda,” says David Kelley, former U.S. attorney in New York and a longtime friend. “He looks at the facts, uncovers the facts and goes where the facts lead him.”

No agenda? That can't be right. He's investigating republicans, for god's sake, and we all know that only ever comes about because of a political agenda. Free Tom Delay!

Fitzgerald, who declined interview requests, is registered to vote with no party affiliation.

Defense lawyers have a different perspective. Scott Mendeloff, a Chicago lawyer who specializes in corporate fraud cases and formerly tried and supervised public corruption prosecutions in the U.S. attorney's office, says Fitzgerald demonstrates “a more black-and-white view of the world” that is “reductionist in disregarding nuances beyond what it will take to prevail.” Some defense lawyers, he says, believe Fitzgerald is “not prone to consider what some would term humane factors in charging and sentencing decisions.”

Wait a minute. He declined interview requests? Doesn't he know this is about him becoming famous?

Fitzgerald, 44, was born in Brooklyn

Oh, well, say no more!

Even lawyers who question Fitzgerald's tactics say they don't doubt his character. “Pat is driven by iron-tight integrity and a tireless work ethic,” Mendeloff says.

Safer, who also once worked in the U.S. attorney's office, faults Fitzgerald for “trying to expand the reach of the mail fraud statutes in ways that are unprecedented” in his government corruption cases. Some errors by politicians, Safer says, “are punishable at the ballot box and not in criminal court.” He says Fitzgerald “is impervious to political pressure. … I've seen no evidence that he has anything but the purest motives.”

There's that word again..."integrity." Also, "work ethic," "character," and "impervious to political pressure."

Cut to George Bush calling for a dictionary...

Monday, October 10, 2005

I'm being stalked by God

Things I've Found In Books, continued:

Just now, between pages 54 and 55 of the Seattle Public Library's copy of Elementary, My Dear Groucho, by Ron Goulart, the following:

ROM. 6:23


JN. 3:7



--typewritten and Xeroxed onto a square piece of paper. I suppose it's true, the wages of sin are death. But after taxes, it's more of a tired feeling, really. (Paula Poundstone).

As for being born again...well. Pardon me for getting it right the first time... (Dennis Miller, back when he was funny).

You can't script October

You remember Bill Kristol. He's on the very short list of Bush-supporters for whom I (sometimes) can find some respect. Quoted verbatim and wholesale from Think Progress:
Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol on Fox News Sunday:

Criminal defense lawyers I’ve spoken to who are friendly to the administration are very worried that there will be one or more indictments in the next three weeks of senior administration officials, just looking at what Fitzgerald is doing and taking him at his word, you know, being a serious prosecutor here. And I think it’s going to be bad for the Bush administration.

Someone like Bill Kristol doesn’t get information like this by accident. It’s being fed to him so, if there is an indictment, he can prepare the base. Towards the end of the segment, Kristol got started, saying, “I hate the criminalization of politics.”

The best way to stop the criminalization of politics is to get the criminals out of politics.

Oh my god. It's actually going to happen. Excuse me, I have to go outside, turn around and spit now so as not to be tempting fate, but still...oh my god.

Aw, the poor widdle puppies

From TIME:
the investigation has taken a toll on White House aides, many of whom now fear that the special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, is intent on issuing indictments. "Fitzgerald's office, although very professional, has been very aggressive in pursuing people," the adviser said. "These guys are bullies, and they threaten you."

Guys, heads up: One or more of the people for whom you work are suspected of betraying their country. That is serious. It's something that I think most Americans would agree deserves a little aggression in investigation.

I mean, I know it's not a blow job, in which case you'd be all over it (so to speak), but...

They've got to be kidding me

Smurfs used as shock treatment in UNICEF's fundraising drive

Cartoon characters' village bombed in anti-war TV commercial

The people of Belgium have been left reeling by a public service commercial featuring the Smurfs, in which the blue-skinned cartoon characters' village is annihilated by warplanes.

The 25-second commercial is the work of UNICEF, and is to be broadcast on TV across Belgium next week as a public fundraiser. It is intended as the keystone of a drive, by UNICEF's Belgian arm, to raise about $145,000 for the rehabilitation of former child soldiers in Burundi.

The animation was approved by the family of the Smurfs' late creator, "Peyo."

The ad pulls no punches. It opens with the Smurfs dancing, hand-in-hand, around a campfire and singing the Smurf song. Bluebirds flutter past and rabbits gambol around their familiar village of mushroom- shaped houses until, without warning, bombs begin to rain from the sky.

Tiny Smurfs scatter and run in vain from the whistling bombs, before being felled by blast waves and fiery explosions. The final scene shows a scorched and tattered Baby Smurf sobbing inconsolably, surrounded by prone Smurfs.

The final frame bears the message: "Don't let war affect the lives of children.''

we all come from God News has a story about a Saudi woman whose husband tried to beat her to death.
She pleaded with her husband not to beat her, but he punched her in the face. "I'm not going to beat you, I am going to kill you," he said. Then he began to smash her head, face down, against the floor, while a servant and their 5-year-old son watched. At the same time he was also throttling her, releasing his grip momentarily to demand that she repeat the Shahadah testimony of faith -- which Islam requires a dying person to recite -- three times: "There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger." Baz obediently spoke her lines until she lost consciousness.

Fallatta [the husband] then showered, changed his clothes and put what he thought was his wife's dead body into their car, driving off with the apparent intent of burying her. But as she regained partial consciousness, he panicked and dropped her off at Bugshan hospital, saying she had been involved in a car crash and that he had to hurry back to the scene to try to rescue others involved.

During the days in which Baz was in a coma, fighting for her life, her father took photographs of her grotesquely disfigured face. And after she recovered, she decided to permit the photographs to be published, thus doing what no woman in the kingdom had ever done. Of course, there was nothing particularly unusual about her bruises: Baz was a victim of one of the world's most common, and least punished, crimes. But in Saudi Arabia especially, Baz had shattered a wall of silence about domestic violence. The images of her grotesquely bruised and swollen face sent shockwaves through her country and around the world, casting an unwelcome but glaring spotlight on the abuse of women that thrives behind the mask of Saudi religious dogmatism. Baz would also go on to divorce her husband -- almost unheard of in Saudi Arabia, where divorce is invariably the other way around -- and win custody of her children, again in defiance of precedent.

After 12 operations, Baz has recovered her beauty -- if anything, the few scars that remain are cogent, rather than disfiguring. She sips a glass of St. Emilion and emphasizes that she is a devout Muslim. "But I do not think about who is Muslim or who is Christian -- we all come from God," she says. "None of this is about a religion; it is about society. What happened to me happens to women all over the world. But you can take what happens to women all over the world, and in Saudi Arabia, multiply it by 10.

With a nod to Jill from Feministe, who writes,
This is what bravery looks like.
She's right.

Oh, man

I don't like the "Wallace and Gromit" movies as much as some people do, though I certainly admire them for pure craftsmanship. And I'm a big fan of the "Creature Comforts" short. But: Oh, man.

From CNN:

BRISTOL, England -- The company behind the new "Wallace and Gromit" film said Monday its "entire history" has been destroyed in a fire at a warehouse containing props and sets.

"Today was supposed to be a day of celebration, with the news that 'Wallace and Gromit' had gone in at No. 1 at the U.S. box office, but instead our whole history has been wiped out," Aardman spokesman Arthur Sheriff said. "It's turned out to be a terrible day."

Sheriff said the warehouse contained sets, props and models from the company's productions, from the children's cartoon character "Morph" through the Oscar-winning, anthropomorphic "Creature Comforts" series to the Wallace and Gromit films.

And my hat is off to creator Nick Park for keeping his perspective. If almost the whole of my life's work had been destroyed in a day, there's no way I'd be taking it this well.

Wallace and Gromit's creator, Nick Park, said the earthquake in South Asia helped put the loss into perspective.

"Even though it is a precious and nostalgic collection and valuable to the company, in light of other tragedies, today isn't a big deal," he said.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Brit Hume of Fox News makes an argument in favor of Miers

Please pass this along to any activist conservatives you may know who are none-too-pleased with Bush's selection of a plainly unqualified candidate for the Supreme Court. Brit Hume let a new banner unfurl on Fox News Sunday:

WILLIAM KRISTOL: I was opposed to the president nominating [Alberto] Gonzalez, but I think it is absolutely the case just on the merits that Judge Gonzalez was more qualified than Harriet Meiers.

BRIT HUME: I think, Chris, that to the extent that the president flinched, he flinched on this point, and that is he decided it had to be a woman and/or a minority, and that narrowed the field...And in that context, she looked much better than she would have against a full field, men and women alike.

In other words, the argument in favor of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court is...affirmative action. I don't see the Republican faithful having any problem with that, do you?

At length

A site called has an long-ish article that tends to support a theory, not mine originally but certainly shared by me, about the Miers nominiation.
The most common theory is that Bush was looking for a stealth candidate who wouldn’t provoke strong Democratic opposition but would get solid Republican backing – after some wink-wink assurances that she would vote the right way on abortion and other core conservative issues.

That indeed may be the answer. Bush may have just miscalculated how disappointed his conservative base would be and how offended other Americans would be at his straight-faced assertion that his White House counsel was “the best person I could find.”

But there is another theory that would fit the facts. It may be that Bush is less concerned about constitutional issues than he is about criminal and political disputes that might reach the court if the troubles surging around his administration get worse.

It goes on from there to trace the Republican desire to stack the Supreme Court; not to legislate as they might wish, but to protect their own asses (and act as their attack dogs). All the way back to Watergate, through Iran-Contra, the Clinton hunt, and Bush v. Gore.

My friend James is right: We are living out the truth of the old Chinese curse, "may you live in interesting times." But to get back to the article, finally, reporter/author Robert Parry suggests another potential reason for Bush's outwardly inexplicable nomination.
For some conservatives, the Miers nomination represented the cronyism-bridge-too-far, but other Bush watchers saw the Miers pick as part of the president’s psychological need for approval from loyal and adoring women, such as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Under Secretary of State Karen Hughes.

“W. loves being surrounded by tough women who steadfastly devote their entire lives to doting on him, like the vestal virgins guarding the sacred fire, serving as custodians for his values and watchdogs for his reputation,” wrote New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

Definitely worth a read, but like I say, it'll take a few minutes.

Ah, it was a happy day back in the early '90s, too

Oliver Willis has an open letter to the Democratic party. I don't agree with all of it, but I think it's worth reading. He also runs a photograph of one of Clinton's swearing-in ceremonies, which reminds me of something.

The first time around, I actually got up early to watch. It was worth it, too, for one moment. As the President and Vice-President elect's families sat in the bleachers, a marching band performed a nice assortment of tunes. Nice if you like marching band music, that is.

And then suddenly I began to hear, coming from the band below...John Phillip Sousa's Liberty Bell. Which, for those of you who don't know, is better known as the Monty Python theme.

It was fucking surreal. Though in retrospect, perhaps I should have taken it as an omen.

("Some watery tart...")

It's a hap-hap-happy day

The "traitorgate," or whatever we're calling it this week, story. The president's senior political advisor implicated in a betrayal of his country, and facing the real possibility of time in jail. Specifically for actions so obviously bad even a theater director in Knoxville, Tennessee could get the seriousness of them: Revealing the name of a spy for our side.

Now, he sure seems to be at the very least spinning like mad, and may even be preparing to fall on a sword. That's what I think, anyway. Because, as implied earlier this week, I don't believe the "Rove lied to Bush about his involvement" story.

I think Bush's hands are dirty up to his wrists. But let's say I'm wrong. Because even without that, this is certainly a gift bag stuffed so full of goodies that for we on the left, you have to ask yourself:

Is there anything that could make this scandal any better?

Oh well, I don't know, maybe if, somehow, Jeff Gannon was involved...

Well, guess what.

Jeff Gannon is involved.

Via The Mahablog, there's
evidence that our boy JimmyJeff knew about the classified State Department intelligence memo mentioning Valerie Plame before knowledge of the memo had been made public.

Gannon--who was a phony Marine and an even phonier reporter--but a real male "escort." And Karl Rove trusted him with a State Department top secret memo. Wow.