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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Foxy Eddie

by digby

Atrios links to the Bob Casey/Ed Rendell endorsement of Alito and it is pretty hard to take. I happened to see Rendell on Fox earlier today (Bill Hemmer's show) and he didn't just endorse Alito. He went out of his way to bash Democrats for being so partisan and failing to recognise that Alito is superbly qualified. Oh, and Bush won the election so he is out King.

He was good little Fox Democrat. I hope they gave him nice chew bone and a scratch behind the ears when he was done.

Probable Destruction Of The Fourth Amendment

by digby

Talk Left has an interesting post up about a proposed expansion of the uniformed secret service which is being called a "federal police force."

I guess the FBI, DEA and ATF aren't getting the job done.

But why should they be given the power to "make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence" ... "or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony."

The last I heard police had to have probable cause to arrest someone. Apparently, the Republicans are trying to change the plain meaning of the fourth amendment.

I hate to get all Godwin, but come on.

Here is what the above link says about reasonable suspicion and probable cause:

Definition of Probable Cause

Many factors contribute to a police officer’s level of authority in a given situation. Understanding the what, when, why, and how of police conduct during a stop is confusing for most people. Varying standards of proof exist to justify varying levels of police authority during citizen contacts. While FyR maintains that it is never a good idea to consent to a search or answer incriminating questions, an understanding of these standards will help the citizen understand when police can surpass constitutional protections.

Reasonable suspicion Facts or circumstances which would lead a reasonable person to suspect that a crime has been, is being, or will be committed

At this stage, police may detain the suspect for a brief period and perform a frisk. In some cases, drug-sniffing dogs may be called to the scene, although officers must cite a reason for suspecting the presence of drug evidence in particular. Refusing a search does not create reasonable suspicion, although acting nervous and answering questions inconsistently can. For this reason, it is best not to answer questions if you have to lie in order to do so. Police authority increases if they catch you in a lie, but not if you refuse to answer questions. As a general rule, reasonable suspicion applies to situation in which police have reason to believe you’re up to something, but they don’t know what it is.

Probable cause
Facts or evidence that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a crime has been, is being, or will be committed and the person arrested is responsible

At this stage, police may perform a search, and often an arrest. Probable cause generally means police know what crime they suspect you of and have discovered evidence to support that belief. Common examples include seeing or smelling evidence which is in plain view, or receiving an admission of guilt for a specific crime.

For the conscientious citizen, the best advice regarding police authority is to stick to your guns and not waive your constitutional rights under any circumstances. Police officers will often give misleading descriptions of what their authority is, but you have nothing to gain by submitting to coercive police tactics. Police must make ad hoc decisions in the streets regarding their authority level in a given situation and these decisions are subject to review in court. Asserting your rights properly is good way to avoid arrest, but it is an even better way to avoid a conviction.

Here is what Law.com says:

probable cause

n. sufficient reason based upon known facts to believe a crime has been committed or that certain property is connected with a crime. Probable cause must exist for a law enforcement officer to make an arrest without a warrant, search without a warrant, or seize property in the belief the items were evidence of a crime. While some cases are easy (pistols and illicit drugs in plain sight, gunshots, a suspect running from a liquor store with a clerk screaming "help"), actions "typical" of drug dealers, burglars, prostitutes, thieves, or people with guilt "written across their faces," are more difficult to categorize. "Probable cause" is often subjective, but if the police officer's belief or even hunch was correct, finding stolen goods, the hidden weapon or drugs may be claimed as self-fulfilling proof of probable cause. Technically, probable cause has to exist prior to arrest, search or seizure.

Update to the post directly below:

Speaking of writing your own epitaph: It's not the same James A. Baker.

This is particularly galling because I was aware of the earlier flap about James A Baker,even wrote about it, so I checked. When I saw the Wikipedia entry I made the assumption that it was the "real" James Baker this time, "serving quietly" in an oversight position (which I assumed to be kind of like the defense policy board or something.) Wrong, wrong, wrong. Wiki was wrong and I was wrong to have believed it.

Played For A Fool

by digby

I'm sure that most of you have already read Glenn Greenwald's blockbuster catch today in which it's shown that Mike DeWine submitted legislation in 2002 that would have reduced the standard for FISA wiretaps from "probable" to "reasonable" cause, but the administration's own Office of Intelligence Policy argued against it. Needless to say, this blows General Hayden's explanation yesterday out of the water.

One little tid-bit I don't think people may get right away about this is that the man who issued the statement arguing against changing the law is none other than major league heavyweight, James A. Baker III.

Since 2001 he has quietly served as head of the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review. This government agency handles all Justice Department requests for surveillance authorizations under the terms of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, advises the Attorney General and all major intelligence-gathering agencies on legal issues relating to national security and surveillance, and, according to the agency website, "coordinates" the views of the intelligence community regarding intelligence legislation. Baker has often testified before Congress on behalf of Bush administration intelligence policies, and most recently has defended the USA PATRIOT Act before the House Judiciary Committee.

You. Do. Not. Fuck. With. Jim. Baker. Not even Rove would dare try it.

I think Jimbo needs to be added to the witness list as well. Maybe we can "devaaaahn the will of the administration" from him.

In June of 2002, James Baker didn't even believe it was constitutional, necessary or practical to use this "reasonable" standard to wiretap non US citizens. It's very hard to believe that he's changed his mind so much that he now thinks it was fine for the administration to wiretap US citizens without any kind of warrant at all.

He's a very slippery operator. I'm sure he'll come up with something creative to square what the administration was already doing when he made that public judgment. But it's going to have to be mighty creative or he's going to look like an idiot. I don't think James A Baker III likes looking like an idiot.

Getting With The Program

by digby

I am really loving the wingnut magnolia wilting over us rude leftist vulgarians. I am tempted to get out my bulging folder filled with examples of right wing cretinism (which I've been collecting for over 15 years) but it's a waste of time. The newsmedia is feeling beseiged by the left and that is an unadultered good thing. Being nice is beside the point.

But it's a pleasure to reprint this e-mail from Rick Perlstein to this little naif over at CBS who seems to think that the left invented swarming the Amazon reviews section:

Cher colleague, you know nothing about Amazon.com and have fallen for a
right-wing propaganda campaign. People have been driving down the ratings of books for ideological reasons since there have been reviews on Amazon, with conservatives in the lead by about half a decade.

I append an article I wrote on the subject in 2000, in which I observed "most conservative books" garner "80 percent five-star ratings and 20 percent one-star, as opposed to pro-Clinton books, which receive 20 percent five-star, 80 percent one-star."

I humbly suggest a correction.

Rick Perlstein

That article was written in 2000.

To those of us not living in a cave for the last decade, the manipulation of book reviews on Amazon by freepers of one ilk or another is not a surprise any more than is right wing manipulation of book sales. I've always kind of admired them for it. For decades the right has had book clubs and book stores and now online book clubs and book stores to promote their own thinkers and writers. They support their idea people explicitly and compensate them well. I think that's a good idea if your job is to persuade people that your idea is better than the other guys' which is what politics is all about.

They also learned very early on to game the system in both the media and in places like Amazon by placing fake "liberals" on TV and radio and creating a false impression in the public's consciousness that conservatism is a much more powerful force than it actually is. They have been using mischief to manipulate the Amazon rating system for years.

This is simply another illustration of the whiny-ass bedwetting that characterizes so much of the right wing. They benefit for years from gaming the system and then faint with the vapors when subjected to their own tactics.

What a shame. Here's a hankie.


by digby

Kevin notices something quite important about General Hayden's Q and A yesterday; He said the illegal wiretapping this was not some sort of vague, impersonal data mining:

Hayden stressed that the program "is not a drift net over Dearborn or Lackawanna or Freemont, grabbing conversations that we then sort out by these alleged keyword searches or data-mining tools or other devices that so-called experts keep talking about. This is targeted and focused."

Ok. Good to know. Kevin says:

This was just ordinary call monitoring, according to General Hayden, and the only problem was that both FISA and the attorney general required a standard of evidence they couldn't meet before issuing a warrant. In other words, the only change necessary to make this program legal was an amendment to FISA modifying the circumstances necessary to issue certain kinds of warrants. This would have tipped off terrorists to nothing.

So why didn't they ask Congress for that change? It certainly would have passed easily.

Matt Yglesias surmises that their "reasonable" (as opposed to probable) standard is probably quite elastic. They might just think it's reasonable to monitor any call made overseas by an American of Arab descent. They could, after all, know someone who knows someone who knows Kevin Bacon. In any case, their reason for not working to change the law or finding ways to do this legally is clearly because they knew very well that reasonable people can disagree quite disagreeably about what is reasonable.

For instance, in this week's Newsweek, we learn more about another program the government is using to protect us from terrorists:

The demonstration seemed harmless enough. Late on a June afternoon in 2004, a motley group of about 10 peace activists showed up outside the Houston headquarters of Halliburton, the giant military contractor once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. They were there to protest the corporation's supposed "war profiteering." The demonstrators wore papier-mache masks and handed out free peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches to Halliburton employees as they left work. The idea, according to organizer Scott Parkin, was to call attention to allegations that the company was overcharging on a food contract for troops in Iraq. "It was tongue-in-street political theater," Parkin says.

But that's not how the Pentagon saw it. To U.S. Army analysts at the top-secret Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), the peanut-butter protest was regarded as a potential threat to national security. Created three years ago by the Defense Department, CIFA's role is "force protection"—tracking threats and terrorist plots against military installations and personnel inside the United States. In May 2003, Paul Wolfowitz, then deputy Defense secretary, authorized a fact-gathering operation code-named TALON—short for Threat and Local Observation Notice—that would collect "raw information" about "suspicious incidents." The data would be fed to CIFA to help the Pentagon's "terrorism threat warning process," according to an internal Pentagon memo.

Just because one secret government spying program thinks that handing out peanut butter sandwiches outside Halliburton is a threat to national security perhaps we shouldn't jump to any conclusions about this secret NSA program either. But let's just say it makes it "reasonable" for us to have some suspicions. Critics of the president have been told often enough that we are giving aid and comfort to the enemy, which is the explicit constitutional definition of treason.

"The American people know the difference between responsible and irresponsible debate when they see it…. And they know the difference between a loyal opposition that points out what is wrong, and defeatists who refuse to see that anything is right," Bush said.

"I ask all Americans to hold their elected leaders to account and demand a debate that brings credit to our democracy — not comfort to our adversaries," Bush said.

When the president says things like this, how unreasonable is it to demand that somebody oversee his secret program?

I know one person who should be very worried about this now that the NSA has revealed that this is not a random program: Grover Norquist. Needless to day, his "leave us alone" coalition should be supportive of a check on executive power and against warrantless wiretaps on principle alone. But Norquist also happens to be married to a Muslim, had contacts with the Taliban going way back and spent considerable time cultivating the Muslim community in the US as a Republican voting block. He is the prime example of an American who the government could find it "reasonable" to monitor without a warrant.

Perhaps Norquist would like to testify before the senate judiciary committee in the illegal wiretap hearings next month. Aside from proving that he isn't all talk and no action when it comes to privacy and liberty, this could be a very personal issue for him.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Liars For Life

by digby

William Schneider did a little blurb earlier today on Blitzer about the Alito nomination in which he said that most people think that Samuel Alito will not vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade:

SCHNEIDER ... Just over a third of the public believes Alito would vote to overturn Roe. While 44 percent believe he would not. That's what shapes opinion on Alito's confirmation. People who favor Alito's confirmation overwhelmingly believe he would not vote to overturn Roe. Those who oppose Alito believe even more strongly that he would vote to overturn Row. But the number of people who believe that is not large enough to turn public sentiment against him.


(on camera): Is there public support for filibuster of Alito's confirmation? By 48 percent to 38 percent the public says a filibuster is not justified -- Wolf.

People who favor Alito's confirmation overwhelmingly believe he would not vote to overturn Roe.

Bullshit. It is absurd to think that the wingnuts who support Alito so fervently don't believe that he will overturn Roe. They are lying.

When I saw an anti-abortion activist appear on NOW a couple of weeks ago I was struck by how deeply and profoundly dishonest she was:

BRANCACCIO: The head of Kansans for Life, Mary Kay Culp has a good reason for watching the big story in Washington this week.

Appeals court judge Samuel Alito did not trip up in any grotesque way this week. The conventional wisdom that dictates these things signals that Alito will soon occupy the swing seat on the Supreme Court. And his rulings could shift the court's position on hot-button issues like abortion.

It's just that kind of shift on the court that Mary Kay Culp and her group in Kansas have been hoping for.

BRANCACCIO: Thanks for coming in.

MARY KAY CULP: Thanks for having me.

BRANCACCIO: Well, looks like Samuel Alito is going to get this. That must, given all the work you've done over these years, make you happy.

MARY KAY CULP: I am glad that President Bush's nominee looks like he's going to make it on the court. Whether or not it's going to make me happy from a pro-life point of view, I think that remains to be seen.

BRANCACCIO: Why are you being tentative? He--

MARY KAY CULP: Well, he looks like he's a real careful-- a real careful, thoughtful, analytical guy, and I like that. And-- because I'm a little tired of this being portrayed as if he has an agenda, that all of a sudden, poof is going to happen if he gets on the court.

BRANCACCIO: Agenda being getting rid of Roe v. Wade?

MARY KAY CULP: Exactly. I don't think that that's going to happen. And if it does, all it means is that the issue comes back to the states.

BRANCACCIO: But, with all the work that you've been doing in Kansas for all these years, don't you think that if it becomes a State's matter that in Kansas like that (SNAP) you'll get rid of abortion? Huh?

MARY KAY CULP: No. I don't. Unh-uh. I don't think that'll happen in the states. But, what can happen is a real discussion. What can happen are committee hearings in your Senate and your House where witnesses are called-- witnesses who have had abortions-- witnesses on both side of the issue. And, it can be heard — the most frustrating thing about Roe is that it just slammed the door. When you try to get a State law passed even to regulate just a little bit, or partial birth abortion, anything, a legislator will tell you-- "Well, you know-- we can't do that under Roe versus Wade anyway."

BRANCACCIO: But you must be encouraged about the way things are going with Samuel Alito? All right, I'll encourage you then.


BRANCACCIO: You know-- Pat Buchanan?


BRANCACCIO: My favorite conservative commentator.

MARY KAY CULP: Yes. Uh-huh.

BRANCACCIO: He said with Alito-- here's the quote from this week.


BRANCACCIO: "Roe could go. George W. Bush is one Justice away from succeeding where Nixon, Ford, his father and even Ronald Reagan all failed."

MARY KAY CULP: That would be - one Justice after Alito.

BRANCACCIO: One Justice after Alito.

MARY KAY CULP: Unless-- not with Alito. Yeah.

BRANCACCIO: So, it's gettin' there.


BRANCACCIO: I don't understand how Kansas wouldn't-- ban abortion quit quickly after that. What do you know about the state of that debate in your state...

MARY KAY CULP: It isn't that. It's just that I know how the political system works. Then you can have real discussion. Then every-- both sides are gonna get aired, and if the media's fair about it, both sides are gonna get aired. That-- you know, that's a question. But at least democracy will have a chance to work on it. But, that doesn't necessarily mean anything either way.

But, well, I do know what might happen in Kansas. We have late term abortions in Kansas, and we're known for having late term abortions in Kansas. Those, yes, we might be able to get rid of right away.

BRANCACCIO: But, really there are two questions here. There's the political calculation that I did ask you about. Do you think that Roe v. Wade's going to be overturned and therefore abortion will become illegal? You don't think so. But, what about your goal? Would it make you happier? Is this your vision of America where abortion is illegal.

MARY KAY CULP: It would be nice to know that tomorrow morning no knives are gonna be taken to unborn babies. That'd be a nice thing. But, in order for that to happen and for it to-- to stay in place, I mean, if you just boom turn it around-- without people really understanding the issue, it's not as-- certainly not as satisfying as it happening for the right reasons.

Because, the media in this country becomes unafraid to actually hear both sides of this issue, 'cause that hasn't been the case for 30 years. It's been getting better. But, really it's kind of an interesting dynamic, because-- I didn't notice really a change until a partial birth abortion issue came along in Congress, and that really earns you a lot of credibility. And, then people start to look and listen. And, as we got stronger politically, it's really-- it's amazing how a political win really can draw peoples' attention to an issue.

BRANCACCIO: You know, Mary Kay, from your discussion, though, there are a lot of people who do not like abortion, who want to reduce the number of abortions I America--


BRANCACCIO: But are very concerned about an America where if a woman chooses to do this for whatever complicated reason that they have that choice. You could have some of these States deciding based on a different Supreme Court, "We are gonna outlaw it." And, that means if you got the money, you go to another state. If you don't got the money and your poor, terrible things could happen.

MARY KAY CULP: You know, terrible things are happening right now-- terrible things. But, nobody knows about 'em, because nobody's really looking at the other side of this issue. Terrible things can happen on both sides of this issues, if it's recognized for what it is and the way it impacts a woman's life and impacts society. And that's what I think we need to look at.

There are a lot of mainstream Americans out there that care about this issue. It isn't-- you know-- people can stereotype us and call us names if they want to. You know what? We don't care, because there's just more and more of us, and we're having more of a political effect. And, I hope we'll get some credibility with the media only so that we can look at these issues in a-- in a real way.

BRANCACCIO: Well, Mary Kay Culp, Kansans for Life, thanks for coming in to help us understand where you're coming from and possibly understand where the ascent of Samuel Alito came from.

MARY KAY CULP: Thank you for allowing me to come. I appreciate it.

That woman who believes that abortion is the killing of babies with knives is one slick political operator. She knows that this isn't about any dialog. She knows that Alito will vote to overturn Roe. She knows that the minute Roe is overturned a whole bunch of states will make it illegal. She is lying about all of that.

Why in the hell is it necessary for some woman from Kansas not to tell the truth about her cause or her goals? What is she so afraid of? Why does the born again conservative president have to phone in his support instead of appearing proudly and openly before his pro-life supporters? If this is an issue of deeply felt morality that all Americans are having difficulty dealing with, why can't they just admit openly that they want to outlaw abortion?

We know why:

Only 25 percent of those polled said they believe the precedent should be overturned, while 66 percent said they believe Roe should stand.

Could someone please inform the Democrats that when 66 percent of the public agrees with you on an issue that you can feel confident that you are not losing elections because of that issue?

Pro-life people even at the state level are savvy political con artists who are pretending to be more powerful than they are while lying about their goals. They are operating from a position of weakness not strength. Anybody in politics who is fooled by this crap should be fired.

What Creeps Me Out More

by digby

From the future ex-Mrs Limbaugh:

KAGAN: Yes, I'm not doing that. I don't know what creeps me out more, vampires or the idea of Colin Farrell kissing a 14-year-old girl in this other movie, "The New World."

LEATHERMAN: It's really weird. It's a little bit strange.

KAGAN: It's illegal is what it is!

LEATHERMAN: When they made this movie she was 14. And the thing about this movie is everybody knows the plot. It's about the settlers coming over. He plays John Smith, who gets in a relationship with Pochahantas, who was -- the actress was 14 when they made this movie.

This is a Terrence Malick film. He makes a film about one every 27 years.

KAGAN: Yes, that's good.

LEATHERMAN: A lot of people really love his work. I have to tell you, I thought this movie was tedious and slow, boring and slow and slow. It was just -- for the parts of the movie I was awake, Daryn, it was beautiful to look at. But if you're looking for a good snooze, I suggest you go see "The New World."

KAGAN: And you got the biggest womanizer in Hollywood kissing a 14-year-old girl. Pass and pass.

LEATHERMAN: You are angry.

KAGAN: I'm angry about that.

I'm angry that sometimes I turn on my television and this woman appears, instantly bringing to mind a picture of her in bed with that gelatinous pill-popping cretin. And then I throw up a little in my mouth.

Tally Me Bananas

by digby

I see that many people are upset about Father Tim's rather odd question this week-end in which he queried Barack Obama about Harry Belafonte. Attaturk defends the Monsignor and rightly so:

Before we get too angry at Li'l Russ

He didn't ask about Harry Belafonte's quotes of just Barak Obama and Colin Powell just because they are African-American.

After all the next time he has Condelezza Rice on, I'm sure he won't ask her about Belafonte.

He'll stick to asking her about what she thinks of Li'l Kim serving time.

I also heard that His Holiness plans to ask Russ Feingold about Barbra Streisand's political contributions, so that's good. It's not like it's a black thing.

Be sure to click the link to Attaturk for an illustration of what we can expect the next time the Secretary of State appears on Press the Meat.

Lefties Rule

by digby

How great is it that every blog nominated for best Political Blog in the Bloggies is a member of the left blogosphere?

Wonkette, Kos, Talking Points Memo and Crooks & Liars, Firedoglake

Great blogs, all of them.

That would not have happened just a year or so ago. When I first started lurking around the blogosphere it was pretty slim pickings for libs. I had to pretend that Instapundit was a real libertarian and actually read him because there just wasn't much else. Liberals were way in the wilderness then.

Now a thousand bloggy liberal voices have bloomed. Congratulations to all the nominees.

And pay a little visit to our very own friendly folks at Wampum, too, who are hosting the Koufaxes --- Left Blogistans community awards. And toss them a couple of bucks if you can. They are wonderful people who devote a ridiculous amount of time to doing this every year for us.

Tweety's Oeuvre

by digby

If you haven't paid a visit to An Open Letter To Chris Matthews today, check it out. They have gathered quite a list of Tweety's biased (and bizarre) comments.

But come on folks, how could you leave this one out?

I want to see him debate somebody like John Kerry or Lieberman or somebody wearing that jumpsuit ... it was like throwing that strike in Yankee Stadium a while back after 9/11. It's not a stunt if it works and it's real. And I felt the faces of those guys--I thought most of our guys were looking up like they were looking at Bob Hope and John Wayne combined on that ship.


by digby

I don't know what class in Wingnut U teaches phony sanctimony, but it's clearly a requirement for graduation. Even the father of convicted felon Jack Abramoff has the unmitigated gall to pull a "this is not a goood man" on George Clooney:

He said the lobbyist’s daughter, who was watching the show, was in “a fit of tears” after hearing Clooney’s remarks.

“Are you proud of that?” Abramoff wrote. “Shame on you.”

Huckleberry Graham would be proud. The man whose son, the orthodox Jew, just pled guilty to several felonies and is about to implicate his friends and colleagues in any number of crimes says, "shame on you" to someone who derides him publicly. It clearly didn't even occur to him that he had no legitimate claim to the moral high ground; it didn't occur to him that he should be hanging his head in shame himself. Indeed, he apparently felt entirely justified in publicly protesting that his son's immoral and criminal behavior was the subject of public derision.

No matter how nasty, how ruthless, how cruel or how unjust Republicans are (and they are) they never fail to shamelessly turn on the crocodile tears and blubber into their lace hankies like Miss Manners when Democrats say "enough." They have taken manipulative behavior to its most exalted level. Dems need to jettison the political strategists and start consulting psychologists.

Killing Me Softly

by digby

I'm feeling down right now. I know I shouldn't. The fact that Tom DeLay has stepped down is such a huge victory for humanity all by itself that I should be dancing a jig for the next six months. But, I'm down in the dumps, mostly because I am watching George W. Bush repeat his patented mantra for the 514,346th time. It's filled with lies, mischaracterizations and simple-minded gibberish, as always, and I'm watching it go out unfiltered, in its entirety, unchallenged by the media, no Democrats in sight, on every cable channel. I think they are personally trying to drive me crazy.

There is one new wrinkle. Regarding the illegal wiretapping, he just said, "it's amazing to me when people say I just wanted to break the law. If I wanted to break the law why would I brief congress?"

His masterful sound guy is there, compressing the sound, building the audience response to statements like that from a distant chuckle to a soft moan of appreciation, slowly ratcheting it up to a low roar until it reaches a crescendo of ecstatic, sustained hysteria. I think I even saw some rending of garments in the fourth row.

They are going to the 9/11 well again. They say that Democrats are sending talking points to Osama and giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Rove says we don't believe that the government should monitor al Qaeda's telephone calls. The next several months will be spent fending off accusations that if we don't let the president do anything he damned well pleases we are all going to die.

I don't know if it will work again. But I also don't know if I can take this campaign one more time. Five years of hearing the same thing over and over again and watching American sheeple fall for it over and over again is just too depressing. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to January 20, 2009 (and I'm of an age where rushing the future is no longer wise.) The day I no longer have to listen to one more word from this immoral, dishonest, incompetent, delusional prick will be the best day of my life.

They Sound Just Like Osama!

by digby

Bill Sherr reminds me of certain "similarities" between the views of the Republican party and Osama bin Laden:

"Who can forget your President Clinton's immoral acts committed in the official Oval office? After that you did not even bring him to account, other than that he 'made a mistake', after which everything passed with no punishment. Is there a worse kind of event for which your name will go down in history and remembered by nations?"

Absolutely not and I imagine that Osama and his good friends on the right are in complete agreement on this. He's much happier to be fighting Jihad against a man of great personal moral rectitude like George W. Bush.

But then, our president has often called forth language that is similar to that used by bin Laden. Indeed, when you read their words together you would think that we are engaged in a religious war. I noticed this back in 2003 when I wrote a post called Brothers In Weltanschauung:

"We do not claim to know all the ways of Providence yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the loving God behind all of life, and all of history. May he guide us now."

In the end, I advise myself and you to fear God covertly and openly and to be patient in the jihad. Victory will be achieved with patience.

I also advise myself and you to say more prayers.

"Our prayer tonight is that God will see us through and keep us worthy," "Hope still lights our way, and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it."

God Almighty says: "Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject faith fight in the cause of evil."

"There is power -- wonder-working power -- in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people."

Verily, Allah guideth not a people unjust.

"The American people have deep and diverse religious beliefs, truly one of the great strengths of our country. And the faith of our citizens is seeing us through some demanding times. We're being challenged. We're meeting those challenges because of our faith."

God Almighty says: "Oh ye who believe! If ye will help the cause of Allah, He will help you and plant your feet firmly."

"After we were attacked on September the 11th, we carried our grief to the Lord Almighty in prayer."

Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always, and die not except in a state of Islam with complete submission to Allah.

"The role of government is limited, because government cannot put hope in people's hearts, or a sense of purpose in people's lives. That happens when someone puts an arm around a neighbor and says, God loves you, I love you, and you can count on us both."

The jurisdiction of the socialists and those rulers has fallen a long time ago. Socialists are infidels wherever they are, whether they are in Baghdad or Aden

"I ask you to challenge your listeners to encourage your congregations to work together for the good of this nation, to work hard to break down the barriers that have divided the children of God for too long. There is no question that we can rid this nation of hopelessness and despair, because the greatest of America is the character of the American people."

Before concluding, we reiterate the importance of high morale and caution against false rumors, defeatism, uncertainty, and discouragement.

"What I'm saying is, the days of discriminating against religious groups just because they're religious are coming to an end. I have issued an executive order banning discrimination against faith-based charities and social service grants by federal agencies."

Allah is sufficient for us and He is the best disposer of affairs.

"And we are a courageous country, ready when necessary to defend the peace. And today, the peace is threatened. We face a continuing threat of terrorist networks that hate the very thought of people being able to live in freedom."

We also stress to honest Muslims that they should move, incite, and mobilize the [Islamic] nation, amid such grave events and hot atmosphere so as to liberate themselves from those unjust and renegade ruling regimes, which are enslaved by the United States.

"They hate the thought of the fact that in this great country, we can worship the Almighty God the way we see fit. And what probably makes him even angrier is we're not going to change."

Muslims' doctrine and banner should be clear in fighting for the sake of God. He who fights to raise the word of God will fight for God's sake. So fight ye against the friends of Satan: feeble indeed is the cunning of Satan

"We face an outlaw regime in Iraq that hates our country."

Needless to say, this crusade war is primarily targeted against the people of Islam.

"A regime that aids and harbors terrorists and is armed with weapons of mass murder. Chemical agents, lethal viruses, and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained. Secretly, without fingerprints, Saddam Hussein could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own. Saddam Hussein is a threat. He's a threat to the United States of America. He's a threat to some of our closest friends and allies. We don't accept this threat."

We are following up with great interest and extreme concern the crusaders' preparations for war to occupy a former capital of Islam, loot Muslims' wealth, and install an agent government, which would be a satellite for its masters in Washington and Tel Aviv, just like all the other treasonous and agent Arab governments.
This would be in preparation for establishing the Greater Israel.

"My attitude is that we owe it to future generations of Americans and citizens in freedom-loving countries to see to it that Mr. Saddam Hussein is disarmed."

This is a prescribed duty. God says: "[And let them pray with thee] taking all precautions and bearing arms: the unbelievers wish if ye were negligent of your arms and your baggage, to assault you in a single rush."

"It's his choice to make as to how he will be disarmed. He can either do so -- which it doesn't look like he's going to -- for the sake of peace, we will lead a coalition of willing countries and disarm Saddam Hussein."

Regardless of the removal or the survival of the socialist party or Saddam, Muslims in general and the Iraqis in particular must brace themselves for jihad against this unjust campaign and acquire ammunition and weapons.

"But should we need to use troops, for the sake of future generations of Americans, American troops will act in the honorable traditions of our military and in the highest moral traditions of our country."

Amid this unjust war, the war of infidels and debauchees led by America along with its allies and agents, we would like to stress a number of important values

"In violation of the Geneva Conventions, Saddam Hussein is positioning his military forces within civilian populations in order to shield his military and blame coalition forces for civilian casualties that he has caused. Saddam Hussein regards the Iraqi people as human shields, entirely expendable when their suffering serves his purposes."

"...we realized from our defense and fighting against the American enemy that, in combat, they mainly depend on psychological warfare. This is in light of the huge media machine they have. They also depend on massive air strikes so as to conceal their most prominent point of weakness, which is the fear, cowardliness, and the absence of combat spirit among US soldiers.

"America views the Iraqi people as human beings who have suffered long enough under this tyrant. And the Iraqi people can be certain of this: the United States is committed to helping them build a better future. If conflict occurs, we'll bring Iraq food and medicine and supplies and, most importantly, freedom."

In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate. A message to our Muslim brothers in Iraq, may God's peace, mercy, and blessings be upon you.

"We're called to defend our nation and to lead the world to peace, and we will meet both challenges with courage and with confidence."

If all the world forces of evil could not achieve their goals on a one square mile of area against a small number of mujahideen with very limited capabilities, how can these evil forces triumph over the Muslim world?

"Liberty is not America's gift to the world. Liberty is God's gift to every human being in the world."

God, who sent the book unto the prophet, who drives the clouds, and who defeated the enemy parties, defeat them and make us victorious over them.

"There's an old saying, 'Let us not pray for tasks equal to our strength. Let us pray for strength equal to our tasks.' And that is our prayer today, for the strength in every task we face."

...we remind that victory comes only from God and all we have to do is prepare and motivate for jihad.

"I want to thank each of you for your prayers. I want to thank you for your faithfulness. I want to thank you for your good work. And I want to thank you for loving your country. May God bless you all, and may God bless America."

O ye who believe. When ye meet a force, be firm, and call Allah in remembrance much (and often); That ye may prosper. Our Lord. Give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter and save us from the torment of the Fire. May God's peace and blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad and his household.

Us, them


by tristero

Photographer Robert Mapplethorpe used to boast that within one year of his coming out and entering the heavy leather gay scene, he had seen every kind of deviance, fetish, and perversion there was to see. Nothing could shock him.

Then again, Mapplethorpe never lived to see the Bush administration. Read it all. And if you don't get it, then read it again.

Got it now? That's right, the Bush administration, in cahoots with the gas and oil industries, has systematically defrauded the US government. To the tune of $700 million for gas royalties alone.

Can't get your head around the leaders of a US administration conspiring to bilk the US government of more than 2/3 of a billion bucks? Neither can I. But that's exactly what's going on.

What Bush's henchmen are doing makes jamming a finger inside another man's penis look like a gentle caress.

(Revised shortly after posting to correct a bad typo on the amount defrauded ($700 million not billion), which required editing out some inappropriate examples. An apology: I read the article in the print edition of the Times and misread the amount. An inexcusable error of fact which I will make every effort not to repeat. During my career as a blogger, I haven't made too many of these careless mistakes -literally around a handful, but if someone has kept track, and I've made more, I'll issue another correction. Nevertheless each one I've learned about has been quickly corrected and a straightforward apology has been offered. Thanks much to the readers who found this one.)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

What Molly Says

by tristero

Like Howard Dean, Ivins is saying things that need to be said and saying them the way they need to be::
There are times when regular politics will not do, and this is one of those times.

What kind of courage does it take, for mercy's sake? The majority of the American people think the war in Iraq is a mistake and we should get out. The majority (65 percent) of the American people want single-payer health care and are willing to pay more taxes to get it. The majority (86 percent) favor raising the minimum wage. The majority (60 percent) favor repealing Bush's tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (66 percent) want to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes.

The majority (77 percent) think we should do "whatever it takes" to protect the environment. The majority (87 percent) think big oil companies are gouging consumers and would support a windfall profits tax. That is the center, you fools. Whom are you afraid of?

I listen to people like Rahm Emanuel superciliously explaining elementary politics to us clueless naifs outside the Beltway ("First, you have to win elections"). Can't you even read the damn polls?

Here's a prize example by someone named Barry Casselman, who writes, "There is an invisible civil war in the Democratic Party, and it is between those who are attempting to satisfy the defeatist and pacifist left base of the party and those who are attempting to prepare the party for successful elections in 2006 and 2008."

Oh come on, people — get a grip on the concept of leadership. Look at this war — from the lies that led us into it, to the lies they continue to dump on us daily...

Bush, Cheney and Co. will continue to play the patriotic bully card just as long as you let them. War brings out the patriotic bullies. In World War I, they went around kicking dachshunds because they were "German dogs." They did not, however, go around kicking German shepherds. The minute someone impugns your patriotism for opposing this war, turn on them like a snarling dog and explain what loving your country really means. Or eviscerate them with wit (look up Mark Twain on the war in the Philippines). Or point out the latest in the endless "string of bad news."

Do not sit there cowering and pretending the only way to win is as Republican-lite. If the Washington-based party can't get up and fight, we'll find someone who can.

This Is How Dems Should Talk When They're Being Charitable To Republicans

by tristero

Governor Dean:
"Karl Rove only has a White House job and a security clearance because President Bush has refused to keep his promise to fire anyone involved in revealing the identity of an undercover CIA operative," said Dean. "Rove's political standing gets him an invitation to address Republicans in Washington, DC today, but it doesn't give him the credibility to question Democrats' commitment to national security. The truth is, Karl Rove breached our national security for partisan gain and that is both unpatriotic and wrong."

Saturday, January 21, 2006

When Will The Times Stop Kowtowing To Creationists?

by tristero

Judith Shulevitz in tomorrow's Times Book Review continues the utterly disgraceful NY Times coverage of evolution and "intelligent design" creationism. Shulevitz lets some creationist from Discovery rail against Judge Jones' brilliant decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover for somehow imposing his religious opinions on others. You'd never guess that during the trial, this very same judge listened patiently for hours while creationist "experts" demonstrated from their own words that "intelligent design" was just a new phrase for the same old creationism and that in fact these same "experts" had repeatedly stated that "intelligent design" was invented to bring religious ideas back into public schools. She neglected to mention that one of these brilliant "scholars" was so ignorant of what science is, he asserted that by his definition, astrology would be considered a science. And you'd never guess that some of the instigators of the "intelligent design" creationism initiative in Dover were so deceitful in their answers and behavior that the judge made a point of declaring calling them out and out liars.

And then there are Shulevitz's mistakes. She writes:
Darwin...realized that if he were to turn his theories into a credible science, he'd have to avoid ascribing a higher merit to those who won out in the battle for life.
But earlier Shulevitz (mis-)described Darwin's theory of natural selection as "the continual culling of less fit forms of life that drives evolution forward," ie, precisely the kind of oversimplified, easily mistaken, Spencerian formulation of evolution Darwin was trying to avoid.

Shulevitz then discusses Michael Ruse's contention that there's a quasi-religious movement among scientists called "evolutionism," which apparently is a "partly secularized postmillennialist" movement. The problem with this is that as far as I know of no scientist when discussing either evolution or their thoughts about how evolution might - repeat might - impact ethics, politics, and culture has ever tried to bring discussions of when the Son of God will return (and what we need to do to hasten that happy day) into the discussion. It doesn't work, even as metaphor, as Shulevitz suggests.

No matter. Shulevitz nevertheless accepts the existence of an evolutionism religious cult:
[T]he notion that evolution equals progress still runs through many evolutionary theorists' works and public statements, giving them, at times, a curiously spiritual feel.
But she fails to provide a single example. I've read Ruse's The Evolution-Creation Struggle, the book she discusses, and I can't remember detecting a "spiritual feel" behind any of the remarks Ruse describes as "evolutionistic." And I recall being quite unimpressed with the notion that there was any coherent religious or philosophical system in the extra-scientific musings he quoted, even from such known firebrands as Dawkins. It all seemed more ad hoc than "spriitual."

Finally, Shulevitz winds up saying, sure, teach science in science class - good for her! But were it not for the IDiots and their tomfoolery, that would go without saying. And then:
Teach evolution in biology class and evolutionism in religion class, along with creationism, deism and all the other cosmologies that float unexamined through our lives.
But Judith, how can you teach "evolutionism" as a religion if there is no such thing, outside of Ruse's dubious ruminations?!?

In short, Shulevitz, and the Times in general, continue to mis-cast the battle over teaching "intelligent design" creationism as one between two sides, religion or science. This mischaracterization persists despite considerable evidence that it is simply not the case that this is a religion/science clash of civilizations. Rather, it really is a fight between a handful of well-funded lunatics clamoring to make their particular religion - and no one else's - a State religion and the rest of us, who know that that is one of the stupidest fucking ideas ever.

(I'll leave the interesting subject of whether creationism is a fit subject even for a religion class to another post. For now, I'll just say that in some overlooked testimony during Kitzmiller, a Christian theologian and scholar cast considerable doubt on creationism's viability as an intelligible theology. In short, creationism is to theology as astrology is to astronomy: not worth the time and effort to study. )

Friday, January 20, 2006


by digby

So Tweety introduced a new feature today called the "Hardball Hotshots" with Joe Scarborough, Tucker Carlson and Rita Cosby --- two wingnuts and a babbling tabloid airhead. They all agreed that bin Laden was parroting Michael Moore, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy in his tape yesterday.

No apologies. In fact, quite the opposite. Chris did say that he'd been misunderstood, but he didn't elaborate. They all agreed that it was going to help the president.

(Remind me. Whose side is bin Laden supposed to be on again?)

They also agreed that Hillary was incredibly offensive with her plantation statement. Rita was particularly shocked because she's from the south. No comment yet from anyone in the media about all the prominent Republican references to the "Democratic Plantation." Perhaps those comments aren't offensive because it only refers to African Americans who are supposed to be too stupid to know which party better serves their interests. Hillary was beyond the pale. She accused white southern males of running a plantation. In Limbaugh Nation, that's racist you see.


(202) 824-6707

Tell Chris Matthews
what you think.


Apparently the number for Hardball is:

(202) 824-6707

Just in case.

thanks again to uggabugga
Limbaugh Nation

by digby

A commenter alerted me to this article in The American Prospect that explains why the Democrats picked Tim Kaine to give the Democratic response at the State of the Union: he speaks in religious moral terms. Good to know.

But the article is interesting because it profiles a new and influential polling and analysis group that is trying to change the way the Democrats look at the electorate. And as far as I can tell, the Democrats (or maybe just the author) are taking the wrong lessons from them.

Here's the story:

In April 2005, Nordhaus left his job at the opinion research firm Evans/McDonough Company to start, along with Shellenberger, an American branch of the Canadian market research behemoth Environics, which specializes in the study of consumer behavior, right down to the level of “neighborhood lifestyle segmentation.” Though such data are not collected on behalf of political figures, it’s the kind of information political operatives often use to slice and dice the electorate into ever thinner pieces. Similar data allowed Republicans in 2004 to make sure they targeted last-minute calls and fliers to domestic SUV-drivers, subscribers to hunting magazines, and women who watch Will and Grace. American Environics intended to use the detailed data its parent company had collected since 1992 for a different purpose, however: to challenge progressive interest-group orthodoxies and the progressive movement itself.

In the great debate about how Democrats can stage a comeback (beyond simply waiting for the coming Republican implosion that never seems to arrive), American Environics rejected some of the more popular recommendations out there. Rather than focusing on reframing the Democratic message, as Berkeley linguistics and cognitive science professor George Lakoff has recommended, or on redoubling Democratic efforts to persuade Americans to become economic populists, as another school of thought suggests, the American Environics team argued that the way to move voters on progressive issues is to sometimes set aside policies in favor of values. By focusing on “bridge values,” they say, progressives can reach out to constituents of opportunity who share certain fundamental beliefs, even if the targeted parties don’t necessarily share progressives’ every last goal. In that assessment, Shellenberger and Nordhaus are representative of an increasingly influential school of thought within the Democratic Party.

Nothing too revolutionary there, you say? Well, no, when described in that predictable way. We all love values. Values are, in fact, the basis of all poltiics. What a good idea. Let's talk values. The article also (for inexplicable reasons) spends a great deal of time discussing the data produced by Stanley Greenberg who, like clockwork, interviews a bunch of rural voters in Arkansas and finds out that they care more about gay marriage than putting food on the table. Which means we will lose because of values and we need to get some. (Those of us who disagree with the rural Arkansans are assumed to have no values, apparently.)

But the article skews that way for reasons that have little to do with the study. Here's what Environics actually found out and it's quite interesting:

Looking at the data from 1992 to 2004, Shellenberger and Nordhaus found a country whose citizens are increasingly authoritarian while at the same time feeling evermore adrift, isolated, and nihilistic. They found a society at once more libertine and more puritanical than in the past, a society where solidarity among citizens was deteriorating, and, most worrisomely to them, a progressive clock that seemed to be unwinding backward on broad questions of social equity. Between 1992 and 2004, for example, the percentage of people who said they agree that “the father of the family must be the master in his own house” increased ten points, from 42 to 52 percent, in the 2,500-person Environics survey. The percentage agreeing that “men are naturally superior to women” increased from 30 percent to 40 percent. Meanwhile, the fraction that said they discussed local problems with people they knew plummeted from 66 percent to 39 percent. Survey respondents were also increasingly accepting of the value that “violence is a normal part of life” -- and that figure had doubled even before the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks.

Lumping specific survey statements like these together into related groups, Nordhaus and Shellenberger arrived at what they call “social values trends,” such as “sexism,” “patriotism,” or “acceptance of flexible families.” But the real meaning of those trends was revealed only by plugging them into the “values matrix” -- a four-quadrant plot with plenty of curving arrows to show direction, which is then overlaid onto voting data. The quadrants represent different worldviews. On the top lies authority, an orientation that values traditional family, religiosity, emotional control, and obedience. On the bottom, the individuality orientation encompasses risk-taking, “anomie-aimlessness,” and the acceptance of flexible families and personal choice. On the right side of the scale are values that celebrate fulfillment, such as civic engagement, ecological concern, and empathy. On the left, there’s a cluster of values representing the sense that life is a struggle for survival: acceptance of violence, a conviction that people get what they deserve in life, and civic apathy. These quadrants are not random: Shellenberger and Nordaus developed them based on an assessment of how likely it was that holders of certain values also held other values, or “self-clustered.”

Over the past dozen years, the arrows have started to point away from the fulfillment side of the scale, home to such values as gender parity and personal expression, to the survival quadrant, home to illiberal values such as sexism, fatalism, and a focus on “every man for himself.” Despite the increasing political power of the religious right, Environics found social values moving away from the authority end of the scale, with its emphasis on responsibility, duty, and tradition, to a more atomized, rage-filled outlook that values consumption, sexual permissiveness, and xenophobia. The trend was toward values in the individuality quadrant.

No kidding. Is the culture growing more coarse? Check. Cruel? check. Nihilisitic? check. Xenophobic? check. Consumption worshipping? check. Sexist? check. Rage filled? check. Hmmmm.

Exactly my point! This is no different than what happens at the skull and bones initiation and we're going to ruin people's lives over it and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You of heard of need to blow some steam off?"

This is a very revealing portrait of what's happening in America and it explains some things about why the right is so successful. And it's the opposite of what everybody says it is. It isn't because they've become more moral and religious. It's because they've fostered and exploited extremism, nihilism and cruelty. After all, if it was the libertine culture of "Brokeback Mountain" or "unwed motherhood" or (gasp) abortion that was creating this shift, you'd think we would have benefitted, not them. For all their crowing about traditional values, it's the right that has embraced decadence, sadism, vice and corruption.

Yes, it's a trend. It started years ago when the feminist movement decided that their best friends were going to be German shepherds. You know. So that's -- well, it's true. You go to the right airports and you can see it.

I have little doubt that most of the people who listen to Rush also believe that they are good practicing Christian conservatives. And many Christian conservatives probably don't listen to him. But they listen to this:

You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war.

And this:

How about group marriage? Or marriage between daddies and little girls? Or marriage between a man and his donkey? Anything allegedly linked to civil rights will be doable, and the legal underpinnings for marriage will have been destroyed." Now, that's more or less a prophecy. Not a divine prophecy, but a prediction.

Notice how Limbaugh and the preachers pander to the depraved imagination? It's not religious values these people are selling. They are selling a brutal, domineering, degenerate culture, making their listeners and viewers wallow in it, plumbing the depths of the subconscious, drawing forth Goyaesque images of bestiality and violence and death. That's a feature of some religions, to be sure, but it's not the nice upright Christian morality everybody's pretending it is.

If the culture is careening into a crude, dog-eat-dog corrupt "Pottersville" it's because the greedheads and the juvenile authoritarian thugs, whether in street gangs or talk radio or K Street, have taken it over. And it is hard for liberals to counter this because our bedrock values include tolerance, free expression and personal autonomy and that enables this decadent turn in many ways. But let's make no mistake, it is only on the right that purveyors of brutal, sadistic, depraved political discourse are welcomed into the houses, offices and beds of the nation's political leadership.

I'm not sure what the answer to this is, but I know that this is where the real political problem for Democrats lies. So, perhaps we can stop bullshitting ourselves that we can solve this problem by speaking in rightwing approved religious language and pulling our punches on abortion. That is not the real reason the right is winning and we won't win that way either. Religion is cover for these people. Rush Limbaugh is the guiding spirit of the Republican Party.

LIMBAUGH: And these American prisoners of war -- have you people noticed who the torturers are? Women! The babes! The babes are meting out the torture...You know, if you look at -- if you, really, if you look at these pictures, I mean, I don't know if it's just me, but it looks just like anything you'd see Madonna, or Britney Spears do on stage. Maybe I'm -- yeah. And get an NEA grant for something like this. I mean, this is something that you can see on stage at Lincoln Center from an NEA grant, maybe on Sex in the City -- the movie. I mean, I don't -- it's just me.

When Limbaugh came under fire for those vulgar comments, the leading lights of the Republican party quickly came to his defense.

Rush's angry, frustrated critics discount how hard it is to make an outrageous charge against him stick. But, we listeners have spent years with him, we know him, and trust him. Rush is one of those rare acquaintances who can be defended against an assault challenging his character without ever knowing the "facts." We trust his good judgment, his unerring decency, and his fierce loyalty to the country he loves and to the courageous young Americans who defend her. For millions of us, David Brock is firing blanks against a bulletproof target.

— Kate O'Beirne is Washington Editor for National Review.

Figure out how to deal with that and we might be able to make some headway.

Liberals Are Not Religious Fundamentalists

by digby

It's a contradiction in terms. Comparing liberals like Michael Moore to Islamic fundamentalist terrorists is calumny in every possible way. Islamic fundamentalism is the antithesis of liberalism. It's not funny and it's not cute when influential pundits try to make points by comparing the two. I'm sick of it.

Tell Chris Matthews you want an apology, by dropping by this board and leaving your remarks. He'll read it. MSNBC has been getting an earful.

Response To Kevin Drum

by tristero

Kevin asks liberal bloggers to respond to a hypothetical and I will cheerfully do so, although my argument won't please Kevin, I think:
For the sake of argument, let's assume that we had pretty good intelligence telling us that a bunch of al-Qaeda leaders were in the house we bombed. And let's also assume that we did indeed kill al-Masri and several other major al-Qaeda leaders. Finally, let's assume that the 18 civilians killed in the attack were genuinely innocent bystanders with no connection to terrorists.

Question: Under those assumptions, was the attack justified? I think the answer is pretty plainly yes, but I'd sure like to see the liberal blogosphere discuss it. And for those who answer no, I'm curious: under what circumstances would such an attack be justified?
My answer, which will surprise no one who knows my writing, is that what Kevin has written is so loaded that it is utterly incoherent as a spur to an honest discussion of terrorism and what to do about it. The only appropriate way to answer is ask the questions that should be asked in the first place, the ones that are being sidestepped. To explain:

Although it seems there are two questions here, there are exactly no real questions being asked. In fact, Kevin simply has crafted a blunt accusatory phrased as a question which can only elicit one possible answer: his. He's really saying, roughly, "You'd be out of your mind not to bomb them, even if 18 innocents died. Thousands, if not millions, of lives, will be spared."

The question, "Was the attack justified?" is not meant to be seriously disputed and a little bit of thought will show that it never can be. Let's just say you answer no and with tremendous eloquence you discuss the morality of it, invoking not only the Bible, but the Bhagavad Gita and a few scientific studies of moral dilemmas. It's all meaningless, for all Kevin needs to do is follow up with, "Okay, let's say the people in that building were putting the finishing touches on a plan to nuke Boston. Would you now say it's justified?" And if that doesn't change your mind, Kevin can simply continue to up the ante - in the house, say, was enough Chemical W to obliterate the Midwest for generations. Eventually, even you will be forced to abandon your objections.

But what happens if you agree with Kevin that the attack was justified? Well, an opponent can easily play this game, too. Simply respond with the opposite extension of the hypothetical. "Okay, let's say those 18 killed included your Mom, your Dad, your brother, two sisters, and your favorite cousins. Was it still justified to attack that house?" And sooner or later you will end up saying, no it wasn't justified.

And around and around you'll go, fine tuning the hypothetical to provide you with exactly the answer you want. It only looks like a moral dilemma but really, it isn't. A moral dilemma happens in the real world, not in hypothetical situations. Kevin's hypothetical is a setup. In fact, and this really should be patently obvious, it isn't even Kevin's hypothetical, but the Bush administration's, a hypothetical they are asserting actually occurred. And while they're marketing it as likely fact, this situation doesn't resemble genuine moral dilemmas I know, which are far more complex than a carefully constructed hypothetical which this clearly is. In other words, the story of the attack and its justification is a lie.

The question Kevin asked is precisely the one Bush wants us to ask. They have composed this "justification" for the attack which they expect will meet the minimum standards necessary for some dispassionate observers to conclude that yes, it just might be worth it to have unfortunately killed all those innocent civilians. But the closer you look at the story, how it developed, how it's being described, the more bogus it seems. For example:

Mysteriously, the bodies of the targeted terrorists were removed before they could be identified. The US government, quite skillfully, has refused to confirm or deny the latest Pakistani story which originally contended it was al Zawahiri but now it's a mad bomber genius, al Qaeda's own Unabomber, who was - ever so ironically - blown to bits. Surely, that's worth 18 innocent lives, yes?

And that, plus other peculiarities, is why I don't believe a word of it. It's too pat, too perfect a concretization of a carefully crafted arm chair accusatory skewed towards only one right answer - Bush's - and as details emerge it can be easily adjusted to make that answer even more inevitable. And tellingly, the structure of the Pakistan assertion combined with a US refusal to confirm easily enables the story to be disowned a few months from now, when no one's paying much attention.

Am I saying that there is no way in hell the story put out by the Pakistanis and the Bushies could be true? What I'm saying is this: the story of 18 innocents sacrificed to eliminate an Evil Bombing Genius is so perfectly tailored to fit the moral theorizing of amateur philosophers rather than any possibly real conflict with al Qaeda that it resembles more the fake Jessica Lynch heroism stories than the real Lynch story.

This is merely Bush propaganda at its most cynical and crude. Frankly, I'm amazed that Kevin asked precisely the question Bush wanted us to ask, a question posed only so that outrage over American bombing of civilians - a war crime if deliberate - would dissipate. I'm also amazed, in fact saddened, that PZ Myers didn't realize this was was a con and chose to respond as if it were a serious question designed to "engage" a debate about national security and its tradeoffs. PZ didn't realize the fundamental bogosity of the question.

But while Kevin may be naive when it comes to accepting the terms of the Bush administration for debate - and he is, as his pre-invasion support for the war shows - he is no Bushite. In fact he is probably after a deeper question here: How should al Qaeda be confronted? What techniques and strategies will not only neutralize al Qaeda's ability to strike but eliminate al Qaeda-ism as a serious danger? That's a question I'd like not only liberal bloggers to discuss; I'd like the government of the United States to address it directly instead of spewing an endless stream of third rate propaganda intended only to make it impossible for their domestic political opponents to object to their cockmamie plans.

Perhaps Kevin is also posing a meta-question here: How can liberals construct narratives that are rhetorically as slippery as the rightwing, like this one about the botched bombing? That is another very good question. Personally, I lean towards crisply telling the truth no matter where the chips land. I'm not sure much more is required to bring down Bush and Bushism for good. It would be nice if a political party did that in a consistent fashion, just as an experiment some time.

(updated immediately after posting to fix grammar and clarify some subsidiary points.)
The Best Response To The Democrats' SOTU Response

by tristero

When you're asked to donate to the Democratic party, just remember that your dollars are paying the salaries of the idiots who decided that this man was the appropriate person to deliver the response to Bush's 2006 State of the Union address.

Don't get me wrong. There are some great Americans in the Democratic party - Dean, Kerry, Pelosi, Obama - make your own list. But something is seriously - major seriously - askew with the plumbing behind the scenes. And Dean, even as head of the party, won't be able to fix it. In short, Daou's an optimist.

What to do? I suggest donating to another organization that recognizes exactly how serious a danger Bushism represents an organization that's shown they will fight tooth and nail against it. I'm suggesting that such an organization could then use its financial and electoral clout to demand the Democrats fire every last strategist, consultant, and adviser who was involved in the inexcusable losses of the 2002 and 2004 elections and hire new people who are prepared to implement a winning strategy.

What NOT to do? Don't forgo political donations - give them to groups that you think matter. Don't drop out and refuse to vote - every vote counts. Most importantly, don't, for a moment, hold on to the delusion that the Democrats, as presently run, are a viable national second party. They're not, and we're going to have to work like hell to create a national party that can confront the Republicans and marginalize the extreme right.

One personal note. I truly hate having to blog about this issue. I'm no purist, I'm not a Naderite, a radical. I'm a moderate liberal. I recognize that a national strategy opposed to Bush can't possibly address many of the issues I care about. I understand that I will inevitably disagree with positions taken to attract a more conservative voter than myself.

But what the Democratic advisers are doing isn't wise strategy designed to appeal to the center. It's sheer stupidity and incoherence. And if bloggers don't speak out - loudly - then no one will. Although our influence is genuinely trivial, it is not zero. And so we must protest in the hopes that someone, somewhere, will read what we say and perhaps try in some small way to turn the Democrats around so that the US can once again become a two party democracy.
Timing Is Everything

by tristero

It looks like some Gooper brownshirt was a bit ahead of his time in his offer of a $100 to any student willing to record the lectures of politically "suspect faculty." Another few years, at the most, and CNN will instead describe them as "deviant faculty" and some earnest Ralph Reed clone will say that if professors have nothing to hide, then they won't object to having their lectures taped and sold to watchdog organizations. And after a while, no one will care and eyes will roll at dinner parties if anyone is politically correct enough to question its morality.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

One of The Boys

by digby

Just this morning, in honor of Matthews and Imus sharing masculine chuckles over "that movie" I took a little trip down Hardball lane and relived those glorious days of yore when Tweety and the Sycophants sang their song of manly love to Commander Codpiece and Big Dick Cheney.

A commenter later pointed out that Tweety has been socializing with GOP mouthpiece Ed Rogers, celebrating the impending nuptials of objective reporter Campbell Brown and her fiance Dan Senor, former professional GOP spokesliar for Viceroy Bremer. (He had been promoted from Ari Fleischer's harem.) Tweety gushed at how much fun he'd had hanging with the wingnuts:

MATTHEWS: Dee Dee, you're great to come on. Ed Rogers, same to you.

Thanks for the party the other night.

ROGERS: Enjoyed having you.

MATTHEWS: (inaudible) Brown and her husband about to be.

This was after a ridiculous segment in which Tweety let Rogers spin like Tonya Harding on meth about the goddamned plantation nonsense, while Dee Dee Myers (typically unprepared) apologized for Hillary and babbled nonsensically about Democrats being in the minority.

That's all within a 24 hour period. But that wasn't the end of it. Tonight he said that Osama bin Laden sounds like Michael Moore (via Crooks and Liars):

I mean he sounds like an over the top Michael Moore here, if not a Michael Moore. You think that sells...

Come on. This is ridiculous. This man is either working overtime to kiss right wing ass for some reason or he's been paid off to do full-on GOP character assasination. This is exactly what the Republicans did to Tom Daschle and Max Cleland.

This comparing liberals to Osama bin laden has been going on long enough. We don't want to subjugate women and kill gays. We don't want to turn free societies into theocracies and inflict a particular religious doctine on everyone. We don't see geopoliticc through the lens of religious revelation and compel others to act upon it. It is beyond absurd to keep comparing liberals, any of us, to religious fundamentalist terrorists.

Peter Daou calls for an apology and I agree that it's long overdue:

Bin Laden sounds like Clint Eastwood" -- "Bin Laden sounds like Ron Silver" -- "Bin Laden sounds like Rush Limbaugh" -- "Bin Laden sounds like Bill O'Reilly"-- "Bin Laden sounds like Mel Gibson" -- "Bin Laden sounds like Bruce Willis" -- "Bin Laden sounds like Michelle Malkin"... Imagine the outrage on the right and in the press (but I repeat myself) if a major media figure spat out those words. Well, on Hardball, Chris Matthews just blurted out that Bin Laden sounds like Michael Moore. Simple: Matthews should apologize. On the air. This has NOTHING to do with Michael Moore and everything to do with how far media figures can go slandering the left. And last I checked, Michael Moore didn't massacre thousands of innocent Americans.

Golly gee, I only wish that I had Monsignor Tim's number and could call and report Tweety's transgressions as Scooter Libby did. Scooter's complaint got a call from the padre to the president of NBC news and I'm pretty sure Matthews got a trip to the woodshed.

But a few thousand emails from readers demanding an apology might just get somebody's attention too:




One MSNBC Plaza
Secaucus, NJ 07094
Phone: (201) 583-5000
Fax: (201) 583-5453

NBC News


30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112
Phone: (212) 664-5900
Fax: (212) 664-2914

By the way: Tweety's tied to the Abramoff probe. He happily raised money for one of Casino Jack's front groups. And he's gone out of his way to trivialize the unprecedented bribery, shakedowns and protection racket his best pals have been engaged in. I'm just sayin'

Update: Thank you John Kerry.

"You'd think the only focus tonight would be on destroying Osama Bin Laden, not comparing him to an American who opposes the war whether you like him or not. You want a real debate that America needs? Here goes: If the administration had done the job right in Tora Bora we might not be having discussions on Hardball about a new Bin Laden tape. How dare Scott McClellan tell America that this Administration puts terrorists out of business when had they put Osama Bin Laden out of business in Afghanistan when our troops wanted to, we wouldn't have to hear this barbarian's voice on tape. That's what we should be talking about in America." -- John Kerry

Update II: Americablog, Daily Kos, firedoglake, and MYDD have all issued a call for apology as well.

Keepers of The Flame

by digby

Garance at TAPPED writes today about the Patriots to Restore Civil Liberties and cautions the Democrats not to get too excited about guys like Grover Norquist or Paul Weyrich leaving the Republican coalition over Bush's disregard for civil liberties.

I have no idea if she was referring to my post among those she admonishes, but I think it's worth clarifying anyway. My point was not that Grover and company were going to leave the Republican Party, but that they were laying the groundwork for purging others from the coalition. They will not do this while Bush is in office, for obvious reasons, but they are beginning to make the case that Bush was not a "real conservative" and therefore anything he did while in office cannot be defined as "conservatism." They do this whenever a politican becomes unpopular.

I linked to Rick Perlstein's post on HuffPo from a while back in which he tells of his speech to the conservative cabal that was meeting at Princeton late last year:

This past year, I interviewed Richard Viguerie about conservatives and the presidential campaign. I showed him an infamous flier the Republican National Committee had willingly taken credit for, featuring a crossed-out Bible and the legend, "This will be Arkansas if you don't vote." "To do this," Viguerie told me, "it reminds me of Bush the 41st, and not just him, but other non-conservative Republicans."

Republicans are different from conservatives: that was one of the first lessons I learned when I started interviewing YAFers. I learned it making small talk with conservative publisher Jameson Campaigne, in Ottawa, Illinois, when I asked him if he golfed. He said something like: "Are you kidding? I'm a conservative, not a Republican."

But back to Viguerie's expression of same. With a couple of hours' research I was able to find a mailer from an organization that was then one of his direct-mail clients that said "babies are being harvested and sold on the black market by Planned Parenthood."

Why not cut corners like this, if you believe you are defending the unchanging ground of our changing experience?


This part of my talk, I imagine, is long after the point a constitutive operation of conservative intellectual work has clicked on in your minds: the part where you argue that malefactor A or B or C, or transgression X or Y or Z, is not "really" conservative. In conservative intellectual discourse there is no such thing as a bad conservative. Conservatism never fails. It is only failed. One guy will get up, at a conference like this, and say conservatism, in its proper conception, is 33 1/3 percent this, 33 1/3 percent that, 33 1/3 percent the other thing. Another rises to declaim that the proper admixture is 50-25-25.

It is, among other things, a strategy of psychological innocence. If the first guy turns out to be someone you would not care to be associated with, you have an easy, Platonic, out: with his crazy 33-33-33 formula--well, maybe he's a Republican. Or a neocon, or a paleo. He's certainly not a conservative. The structure holds whether it's William Kristol calling out Pat Buchanan, or Pat Buchanan calling out William Kristol.

Norquist, Weyrich and Keene (not Barr, who I think might be a principled libertarian) are all keepers of the flame. Their job is to maintain "Conservatism" the brand, the movement, the value. The Republican party is their beloved vessel, not their cause.

I doubt that anyone is suggesting that Grover Norquist is thinking of leaving the Republican coalition over this. He's thinking ahead to the moment when it is clear that Bushism and DeLayism are so tainted that they will make "conservatism" look bad. That is when they will be revealed to have not been true blue in the first place. In fact they will have been traitors to the movement. Only "real conservatives" like Norquist and Weyrich and Keene can be counted upon to be pure keepers of the flame. Or so they say.

Garance points out that these "Patriots for Checks and Balances" aren't actually doing anything, just sending out press releases. This is par for the course. They aren't going to actually work to undercut the Republican Party. The party is one of their assets. What they are most concerned with is maintaining the value of their brand and that requires constant vigilance. Grover and his conservative "leave us alone coalition" aren't worth much if they sign on blindly to illegal wiretapping, are they?

None of this means that Democrats could still not deftly exploit this for our own purposes. But that's another story.


by digby

Glenn Greenwald tells me that KellyAnn "I wish I were as cute as Ann Coulter" Conway and her little dog George have started a blog in which they are recapping the Cinton scandals for the folks. Glenn's post does a smashing job of reminding us of the professional character assasins of the GOP, many of whom have been woefully underemployed since the GOP owns everything in town:

Examining filth-peddling relics of the 1990s like the Conways is not merely an exercise in masochistic nostalgia. As their new National Review blog demonstrates, lowly character smears are a quite current and integral weapon in the Republican arsenal. These gutter tactics and their vile purveyors haven’t gone anywhere. And it is beyond doubt that all of the Clinton smears which lowered our political discourse to the primordial level, along with many new ones, are being kept warming in the oven just in case Hillary gets anywhere near a Presidential election.

But the real reason to remember this despicable filth-peddling is because these same Republicans are being permitted by an amnesic and manipulated media to parade themselves around as the Paragons of Civility and Dignity. That Republicans can deliver dignity lectures to the media, which then dutifully reports them with a concerned face while repeatedly showing video of Sam Alito’s wife crying, is quite compelling evidence of just how wretchedly dishonest Republican moralizing is and, worse, how utterly dysfunctional our media has become.

There's another reason they have trotted out the bitch-twins, as well. They are desperate to keep the public believing that the "culture of corruption" is bi-partisan. I have no doubt in my mind that Mighty Wurlitzer has employed Kellyanne and George for the specific purpose of recycling smears from the 90's (that can be helpfully passed on to the right wing blogs, talk radio and TV pundits) in order to "remind" people how corrupt Democrat Clinton was. Look for the Conway crap to show up in the blogosphere before long and soon in the major media. We should be prepared for it.

In some ways, the Clinton scandals of the 90's can be seen as innoculation for the Republican corruption that was rampant, even then. We all know that the charges against the Clinton administration were bullshit, but the non-stop pounding for eight long years is one of the main reason why the public sees corruption as bi=partisan in Washington today. They've been hearing about scandals pretty much non-stop for the last 14 years. I don't believe this is an accident. These people are very good at this stuff. And we are very bad at seeing it coming.

Tweety And His Hot Man Love

by digby

So I see from Atrios that Tweety was on Imus and the two of them shared a few manly laughs about "Brokeback Mountain" and praising the psychotic Michael Savage.

MATTHEWS (1/18/06): Have you gone to see it yet? I’ve seen everything else but that. I just—

IMUS: No, I haven’t seen it. Why would I want to see that?

MATTHEWS: I don’t know. No opinion on that. I haven’t seen it either, so—

IMUS: So they were—it was out when I was in New Mexico and—it doesn’t resonate with real cowboys who I know.


IMUS: But then, maybe there’s stuff going on on the ranch that I don’t know about. Not on my ranch, but you know—

MATTHEWS: Well, the wonderful Michael Savage, who’s on 570 in DC, who shares a station with you at least, he calls it [laughter]—what’s he call it?—he calls it Bare-back Mount-ing. That’s his name for the movie.

IMUS: Of course, Bernard calls it Fudgepack Mountain...

How droll.

Oopsie. Somebody's glass house has a big fat crack in it. Let's take a little trip down memory lane, shall we?

MATTHEWS: Let's go to this sub--what happened to this week, which was to me was astounding as a student of politics, like all of us. Lights, camera, action. This week the president landed the best photo of in a very long time. Other great visuals: Ronald Reagan at the D-Day cemetery in Normandy, Bill Clinton on horseback in Wyoming. Nothing compared to this, I've got to say.

Katty, for visual, the president of the United States arriving in an F-18, looking like he flew it in himself. The GIs, the women on--onboard that ship loved this guy.

Ms. KAY: He looked great. Look, I'm not a Bush man. I mean, he doesn't do it for me personally, especially not when he's in a suit, but he arrived there...

MATTHEWS: No one would call you a Bush man, by the way.

Ms. KAY: ...he arrived there in his flight suit, in a jumpsuit. He should wear that all the time. Why doesn't he do all his campaign speeches in that jumpsuit? He just looks so great.

MATTHEWS: I want him to wa--I want to see him debate somebody like John Kerry or Lieberman or somebody wearing that jumpsuit.

Mr. DOBBS: Well, it was just--I can't think of any, any stunt by the White House--and I'll call it a stunt--that has come close. I mean, this is not only a home run; the ball is still flying out beyond the park.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know what, it was like throwing that strike in Yankee Stadium a while back after 9/11. It's not a stunt if it works and it's real. And I felt the faces of those guys--I thought most of our guys were looking up like they were looking at Bob Hope and John Wayne combined on that ship.

Mr. GIGOT: The reason it works is because of--the reason it works is because Bush looks authentic and he felt that he--you could feel the connection with the troops. He looked like he was sincere. People trust him. That's what he has going for him.

MATTHEWS: Fareed, you're watching that from--say you were over in the Middle East watching the president of the United States on this humongous aircraft carrier. It looks like it could take down Syria just one boat, right, and the president of the United States is pointing a finger and saying, `You people with the weapons of mass destruction, you people backing terrorism, look out. We're coming.' Do you think that picture mattered over there?

Mr. ZAKARIA: Oh yeah. Look, this is a part of the war where we have not--we've allowed a lot of states to do some very nasty stuff, traffic with nasty people and nasty material, and I think it's time to tell them, you know what, `You're going to be help accountable for this.'

MATTHEWS: Well, it was a powerful statement and picture as well.

After the segment, Chris handed out cigarettes and ice cold bottles of evian to the panel. But they had rolled over and gone to sleep.

If there has ever been a more embarrassing display of repressed erotic longing on national television, I haven't seen it. Oh, wait:

From May 13, 2003, Via The Daily Howler:

MATTHEWS: What do you make of this broadside against the USS Abraham Lincoln and its chief visitor last week?

LIDDY: Well, I-- in the first place, I think it's envy. I mean, after all, Al Gore had to go get some woman to tell him how to be a man [Official Naomi Wolf Spin-Point]. And here comes George Bush. You know, he's in his flight suit, he's striding across the deck, and he's wearing his parachute harness, you know --- and I've worn those because I parachute --- and it makes the best of his manly characteristic. You go run those, run that stuff again of him walking across there with the parachute. He has just won every woman's vote in the United States of America. You know, all those women who say size doesn't count --- they're all liars. Check that out. I hope the Democrats keep ratting on him and all of this stuff so that they keep showing that tape.

"You know, it's funny. I shouldn't talk about ratings," he [Matthews] said, also gazing at Bush's crotch. "But last night was a riot because ... these pictures were showing last night, and everybody's tuning in to see these pictures again."

I have no doubt that Chris watched those pictures again and again and again --- until his hand got tired.

If ever there was a closet case, he is it. He routinely makes a fool of himself on national television, literally drooling over what he thinks are big masculine Republican men.

Remember this one?

MATTHEWS: Will the most powerful vice president in American history become the man who ramrods the rise of the new South and with it a legacy that could promote a draft for a Cheney presidency? The question is a big one. Is Cheney charging down South to serve as President Bush‘s executioner or full-fledged viceroy?

Oooh lala. The question is HUGE! Ramrodding the rise of the new south, indeed.

I suppose we should have some sympathy for Tweety. He probably felt all hot and confused and funny down there when he was talking to Don Imus. After all, Imus wears a cowboy hat and you know what those masculine symbols do to old Chris. I'm sure when he snuck in to see Brokeback Mountain in the suburbs last week, he was smart enough to carry a raincoat.