Paul Krugman: Missing Molly Ivins

Economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman joins us in our grief for the late, great Molly. Read it all at Welcome to Pottersville, but here's a snip:

Molly Ivins, the Texas columnist, died of breast cancer on Wednesday. I first met her more than three years ago, when our book tours crossed. She was, as she wrote, “a card-carrying member of The Great Liberal Backlash of 2003, one of the half-dozen or so writers now schlepping around the country promoting books that do not speak kindly of Our Leader’s record.”

I can’t claim to have known her well. But I spent enough time with her, and paid enough attention to her work, to know that obituaries that mostly stressed her satirical gifts missed the main point. Yes, she liked to poke fun at the powerful, and was very good at it. But her satire was only the means to an end: holding the powerful accountable.

She explained her philosophy in a stinging 1995 article in Mother Jones magazine about Rush Limbaugh.

“Satire … has historically been the weapon of powerless people aimed at the powerful,” she wrote. “When you use satire against powerless people … it is like kicking a cripple.”

Molly never lost sight of two eternal truths: rulers lie, and the times when people are most afraid to challenge authority are also the times when it’s most important to do just that. And the fact that she remembered these truths explains something I haven’t seen pointed out in any of the tributes: her extraordinary prescience on the central political issue of our time.

I’ve been going through Molly’s columns from 2002 and 2003, the period when most of the wise men of the press cheered as Our Leader took us to war on false pretenses, then dismissed as “Bush haters” anyone who complained about the absence of W.M.D. or warned that the victory celebrations were premature. Here are a few selections:

Nov. 19, 2002: “The greatest risk for us in invading Iraq is probably not war itself, so much as: What happens after we win? … There is a batty degree of triumphalism loose in this country right now.”

Jan. 16, 2003: “I assume we can defeat Hussein without great cost to our side (God forgive me if that is hubris). The problem is what happens after we win. The country is 20 percent Kurd, 20 percent Sunni and 60 percent Shiite. Can you say, ‘Horrible three-way civil war?’ ”
Emphasis mine; rest of the column available here.


Is Keith Olbermann The Future of Journalism?

That's the question asked - and at least, to some degree, answered - by American Journalism Review in a long look at the phenomenon of Keith Olbermann's success with Countdown on MSNBC.

My one major reaction was the question asked of how much the show blurs fact with opinion.

OK, I'll accept the premise of the question.

However, considering the way the mainstream media portrays so much today - for example, frequently President Bush is portrayed as a victim of circumstances when, the rest of the time, he pounds his chest and insists he's the leader of the freaking world - it's hard to call Olbermann out for a practice that not just exists but abounds.

A Salute to Molly Ivins, 1944-2007

You'll find such salutes abound today with word of her untimely death. It's also the subject of my first official post at the newly-reopened, All Things Democrat blog.


Speaking of Wars And Those Of Us Who Stand Up And Say No...

Check out yesterday's (1-30-07) Jeff Danziger cartoon on the heels of the half million people who showed up to say "Hell, No!" in Washington, D.C. in anti-war protests this past weekend.

Am I The Only Skeptic On This Latest "Foiled" Terror Plot?

All evening long, both on TV newscasts and through online news orgs, I've heard non-stop chatter about the latest foiled Great Britain terror plot. And even the plot itself sounds a tad uh... um... not much.

Excuse me, but where was the mention of how many of these we've heard about that, as soon as the media and public stop paying attention, turn out to be NOTHING? Not a peep of this tonight.

The last big English terror plot foiled turned out to be a yawner, with almost everyone involved cleared and released in short order. Same with the "engineered" plot in Florida months ago. Of course, the coming apart of such is never reported.

See my post last night on Keith Olbermann's Special Comment for January 30th for how facts defy Bush's State of the Union "foiled terror plots" claims. Also check David Swanson's post on same.

[Personal note: Fool us once, shame on Bush. Fool us 3,912 times and... well....]

More On Iran

[Note: See previous post on Iran and Bush.]

While Israel reports it has no plans for a fight with Iran (of course; Olmert would leave that to us), the Brit paper, The Guardian, quite accurately says that Bush is deliberately spoiling for war with Iran.

Who can disagree? Really.

But we need to make certain that Bush is prevented from doing so. If you think we've been creamed in Iraq, you ain't seen nothin' yet if we get into Iran.

Also check out the piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, "The Iran Factor", and the Washington Post's, "Cracks in Iran."

Also keep in mind the piece in Scotland's Sunday Herald over the weekend stating that there is evidence Bush plans no less than a major attack on Iran's nuclear facilities before the end of April, less than three months away. We've been hearing from Scott Ritter and others that Bush isn't just hinting at war with Iran, but that we already have people inside Iran doing advance prep work.

Hear The Quickening Drumbeat? That's Bush Pounding The War Drums On Iran

[Update: CNN is saying that Iraq's prime minister al Maliki is firmly telling both the U.S. and Iran to take their childish spat elsewhere; I agree: Iraq has enough problems without this. However, as far as I'm concerned, almost ALL of the evil overtures have been coming from 1600 Pennsylvania with Tehran basically batting them back as fast as they're lobbed.]

Let's see, Bush first tells Iranians they can't go into Iraq even though the supposedly sovereign and democratically elected government of Iraq has invited them. Then he tells the troops to raid any Iranian offices in Iraq. THEN he swears out a death warrant on any Iranian "operatives" (which, in Bush parlance, could mean someone selling kabobs in downtown Tikrit) found in Iraq...

But I guess it's just unthinkable that - just possibly, because we have no idea whether this is a stunt "shaped" by the Bush Administration as another excuse for another war - Iranians might take the bellicose rhetoric to heart and strike back. From AP:

Citing Iranian involvement with Iraqi militias and Tehran's nuclear ambitions, the Bush administration has shifted to offense in its confrontation with Iran — building up the U.S. military in the Persian Gulf and promising more aggressive moves against Iranian operatives in Iraq and Lebanon.

The behind-the-scenes struggle between the two nations could explode into open warfare over a single misstep, analysts and U.S. military officials warn.

Iraq has become a proxy battleground between Washington and Tehran, which is challenging — at least rhetorically — America's dominance of the Gulf. That has worried even Iraq's U.S.-backed Shiite prime minister, who — in a reflection of Iraq's complexity — also has close ties to Iran.

Iran and the United States are already sparring on the ground.

On Jan. 20, militants kidnapped and killed four American soldiers in a raid in Karbala, and a fifth was killed in the firefight. A U.S. defense official said one possibility under study is that Iranian agents either executed or masterminded the attack, a suspicion based on the sophisticated and unusual methods used in the attack, including weapons and uniforms that may have been American.

He spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe is ongoing.

There has been speculation that the Karbala assault may have been in retaliation for the arrest of five Iranians by U.S. troops in northern Iraq.
I would NOT take this with a pinch of salt. After what Bush has done before, there is absolutely zero reason to assume that what we're being told here is anything residing even within the same hemisphere as the truth.

Good Night - and God, We Miss You Already - Molly Ivins

I just sat down at my PC and found a dozen emails all telling me that the unsinkable Molly Ivins, easily my favorite Texan of all time, has died.

I am beyond heartbroken. The very first time I heard her speak, which was even before I became a huge fan of her writing, I fell in love with her. I wanted to be Molly Ivins when I grow up (and at 5'2, I'm still waiting for that to happen - grow up, I mean, since I'll never be dear Molly).

As someone who has barely ever exchanged hellos with green-eyed envy, I was also insanely jealous because I somehow knew I would never be half the woman she was: smart, sharp of mind with a rapier tongue and pen, hellaciously funny, someone who could fill and rivet any room, a woman who could best any man, and a person who could slam dunk "Shrub" with her eyes blindfolded and all her limbs hog-tied.

Somehow, the world seems a little less tonight knowing Molly isn't here anymore.

But she gave us so much that we know Molly will continue with us in her bigger-than-Texas-itself spirit. She may have been the best thing that has ever came from the Lone Star state and she will always be my favorite Texas rose (but a fiery, passionate red one and no yellow-bellied hybrid).

God bless you, Molly. My condolences to your family and inner circle. And thank you so very, very, very much for all you gave to us.

You truly were a beauty of the greatest magnitude and in every sense of the word.

While Iraqis Are NOT Welcome Here, U.S. Has Created Nearly 4 Million Iraq Refugees

I would not be at all surprised if this number was actually quite a bit larger since we're deliberately NOT tracking many of the dead/displaced in Iraq; also from the wonderful Jon Ponder at Pensito Review:

The Iraq war has spawned a refugee crisis that will likely become increasingly dire over the next year. According to the United Nations, 3.7 million Iraqi citizens are currently displaced as a result of the civil war the U.S. invasion has unleashed. They include 1.7 million who are homeless inside Iraq and 2 million who are living in other countries.

The United States will accept fewer than 500 refugees out of the 3.7 million Bush’s war has created.

“The current exodus is the largest long-term population movement in the Middle East since the displacement of Palestinians following the creation of Israel in 1948,” said a U.N. report in early January. The U.N.’s refugee commission is seeking $6o million to apply to the crisis.

Astoundingly, the United States — whose president started the war — will accept fewer than 500 Iraqi refugees this year. (Not a typo: 500.)

By comparison, between 500,000 and 1 million Iraqi refugees are living in Syria, 700,000 are in Jordan, 20,000 to 80,000 are in Egypt and up to 40,000 are living in Lebanon.

Calling Democratic Party "Democrat Party" Is Straight From Joe McCarthy's Playbook

I knew this from years of reading on McCarthyism, but Pensito Review's clear summary is worth a read (God only knows there simply is no American better to emulate than the hateful Joe McCarthy):

Exhuming McCarthy: Pres. Bush’s deliberate use of the term “Democrat Party” in his State of the Union speech this month has put this too-cleverly couched linguistic smear back in the spotlight.

Misusing the noun Democrat as an adjective is just one of dozens of deceptive verbal tricks the Republicans used to gain power over the past few decades.

Republican politicans use this mangled syntax to express solidarity with their toothless, knuckledragging base. They don’t appear to care that, to independent voters and Democrats listening in, it makes them sound like the flaming assholes they are.

The origin of the Democrat smear is both surprising and not the least shocking. The man who first popularized it was Sen. Joe McCarthy — whose witch hunt against commies in the 1950s was nearly as destructive to the Republican Party then as George Bush’s needless war in Iraq is now:
    [The] term became controversial as far back as the 1950s. Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) famously used it to deride Democrats during his hearings investigating whether Communists had infiltrated the U.S. government. During the 1956 Republican convention, the usage was so common that it prompted the New York Times to report that dropping the “-ic” had become official party policy.

    “‘Democratic’ as an adjective is not descriptive of the party as it exists today,” GOP spokesman L. Richard Guylay explained in that report, referring to allegations of vote-fixing by the Democratic Party’s political machine in large cities. “I can’t consider the party of the Pendergasts or Tammany Hall as a democratic party.”

    In 1957, writing about the phenomenon in American Speech, the quarterly journal of the American Dialect Society, scholar Ignace Feuerlicht wrote: “It will be interesting to see whether ‘Democrat Party’ will stay with us or go out of existence again or be revived and revitalized at intervals just before successive national elections.”
Just FYI: ever wonder what made Sean Penn so political?

Well, besides being obviously very smart himself, Sean and his entire family was hurt by Joe McCarthy when his father was one of the many people blacklisted because they would not willingly participate in the Red Scare witch hunts.

Woman Who Reports Rape Is Arrested, Denied "Morning After" Pill/Emergency Contraception

When I heard this on Democracy Now! this morning on the drive down to my doctor's appointment, it made me ill. Here's the post from Vermont's own Reason and Brimstone (and gee, Florida? who could have ever guessed?):

Welcome to the Republic of Gilead:
    TAMPA - A 21-year-old woman told police Saturday that a man grabbed her off Howard Avenue and raped her behind a building during the Gasparilla festivities.

    But officers investigating the case arrested her after learning she had an outstanding warrant from her teenage years for failure to pay restitution.

    She spent the next two nights in jail.
    Adding to the mother's ire is her claim that a jail nurse prevented her daughter from taking a second dose of emergency contraception prescribed by a nurse at a clinic as part of a rape examination. The jail nurse, said the mother and the victim's attorney, denied the medication for religious reasons.

[story here.]Gee, I wonder why so many women don't report rape? I also question the implication that money this woman owes from her teen years is more important than a crime committed against her.

Democracy for America: The War Tapes: Through a Soldier's Eyes

Just got this from Democracy for America (the wonderful organization that Howard Dean started as an outgrowth of his 2004 presidential campaign that sparked net-based grassroots at its finest), who wants volunteers to host a home showing of this film to friends, family, and neighbors:

The enormous human and financial cost of the war in Iraq continues to build each day. And so does the movement to stop it. This month we will keep the pressure on both the President and Congress to not only stop the escalation, but end the occupation and bring our brave men and women home.

You can play an important role by hosting a screening of the provocative and hard hitting documentary The War Tapes during the week of February 18 to 24. Can you host a screening?


Straight from the front lines in Iraq, The War Tapes is the first war movie filmed by soldiers themselves. The War Tapes is the complete story of three very different soldiers. It focuses not just on the war, but life back home and the difficult ways family and relationships change. You have never seen film like this before. The film is powerful and moving conveying both the passion and mindset of American soldiers and the incredible human and community cost of war. You will leave this movie more motivated than ever to end the occupation and bring our troops home.

Mother Of Woman Soldier Stationed in Afghanistan Wants Her Daughter Home Now

From a piece in the Orlando Sentinel, combat mom Kerri Drylie writes passionately and persuasively about wanting her soldier daughter - you know, one of those "unimportant" girl GIS the likes of Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh scoff at yet who are dying in significant numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan - home.

I am equally sure there are other mothers, those living in Afghanistan and Iraq, who also would like to see the Americans go home unless the administration who dispatched them there is actually going to live up to its rhetoric, rather than just create more needless death and destruction for both civilians and the soldiers.

No one is winning; not here, not in Iraq or Afghanistan.

But people are dying. And moms and dads, and children, want it to stop.

That message is universal.

And it's why we cannot allow Bush to do in Iran and perhaps Syria what he has done elsewhere.

Maureen Dowd: "Momma Hugs Iowa"

The latest MoDo on the topic of "Hill", not Bill, Clinton, which Rozius offers generously (read it all here) while I give you but a snippet:

DAVENPORT, Iowa - When she was little, Hillary Rodham would sit on a basement bench and pretend she was flying a spaceship to Mars. Her younger brother Hugh, perched behind, would sometimes beg for a chance to be captain.

No dice. “She would always drive, and I would always have to sit in the back,” he once told me.

Through all the years of sitting behind Bill Clinton on his trip to the stars, Hillary fidgeted and elbowed, trying to be co-captain rather than just wingman, or worse, winglady.

Finally, in Iowa, she was once more behind the wheel of her spaceship to Mars. She didn’t have to prop up Bill after one of his roguish pratfalls. She didn’t have to feign interest in East Wing piffle — table settings and pastry chefs and designer gowns. She didn’t have to defer to her male colleagues in the Senate, stepping back to give them the limelight.

She positively glistened as she talked about how “I” — rather than the “we” of ’92 — would run the world.Humbly, graciously, deftly, she offered Iowa the answer to that eternal question, What Is Hillary Owed?


John Wood, a self-described “plainsman,” Republican and machinery-and-tool salesman from Davenport, asked Hillary how she would handle the world’s evil and bad men, provoking the slyly ambiguous retort: “What in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men?”

He said afterward that he was more worried about her ability to face down villains, “being a lady,” but conceded, “The woman did good today.”

(His question was reminiscent of Ali G’s interview of Newt Gingrich, when the faux rapper asked whether a woman president would be turned on and manipulated by evil dictators, given that, with women, “the worse you treat ’em, the more they want you.”)

As YouTube attests, Hillary didn’t care about style as first lady; she was too busy trying to get in on Bill’s substance.

[...] When Geraldine Ferraro made her historic run in ’84, she tried to blend a mother’s concerns into her foreign policy answers, but it did not work so well once she started getting her nuclear terminology mixed up.

Hillary dealt with the issue head on — “I’m a woman; I’m a mom” — hoping to stir that sisterly vote that Ms. Ferraro failed to draw after it turned out that many women were skeptical about one of their own facing down the Soviets.

Unlike Barack Obama, who once said he was bored by the suburbs, she introduced herself in the land of bingo and bacon as a product of the suburbs, wallowing in the minutiae of kitchen-table issues.

W. and Cheney have lavished attention and money on Iraq, leaving Americans feeling neglected. Hillary offered Iowans a warm bath of “you,” homey rumination rather than harsh domination.
Read the rest here.

Nat Hentoff @ The Village Voice: Why Is the Bush Administration So "Afraid of Freedom?"

For a government that can't say 10 words without adding that, "Terrorists hate our freedoms and that is why they want to kill us", it's bloody amazing (and bloody, it is) that there has perhaps never been a president or his administration so afraid of American "freedom" and so willing to rescind it as the Bush-Cheney crew.

Wherever you look, whatever you read, time and again, we see them shredding the Constitution, drowning habeas corpus (again, not an American invention, but one dating back to the 1200s and considered one of the foundations of true civilization), trying to limit free speech, and increasing the surveillance on the most private and personal of our communications.

Thankfully, one of the U.S. media outlets that still remembers what the First Amendment means is the Village Voice, and one of their best voices on the subject has been and remains Nat Hentoff, who asks this week, "Is America Afraid of Freedom?" Here's a (albeit generous) snip:

The Bush administration's sudden decision to apparently end the president's illegal unleashing of the National Security Agency's secret, warrantless spying on us does not offer an armistice on the Bush team's pursuit of the press as a danger to national security.

If you look behind the curtain of this "retreat" on the commander-in-chief's "inherent power" to deal with terror as he sees fit, it is not clear whether placing the responsibility on the special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court—which hears only government lawyers before it makes a ruling—means the court will issue individual warrants or a blanket dragnet of warrants not attached to a specific person. A classic example are the "John Doe" nameless warrants attached to a particular telephone and everyone using it. Similarly, an Internet provider could be served with such a blanket warrant.

Also, the president in no way acknowledges that he broke the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in the NSA's warrantless filling of FBI and CIA databases in its secret spying. As New York Times legal analyst Adam Liptak noted on January 19: "The administration continues to maintain it is free to operate without court approval." The president has not embraced the Fourth Amendment and judicial review of his "inherent" powers, despite his backtracking on the warrantless spying."

Furthermore, in a little–noticed declaration on January 17, the nation's chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, said in a speech at Washington's American Enterprise Institute that federal judges are not "equipped to make decisions" about actions taken by the commander-in-chief regarding national security. "A judge," said Gonzales, "will never be in the position to know what is in the national security interest of the country." So judges should back off.

The ever–loyal attorney general would not have issued this manifesto of unchecked presidential powers without knowing he had the approval of the man who made him what he is today.
Get the rest here; and yes, it's free but don't be afraid.

What I Find Ha'aretz A Must-Read; Why You Perhaps Should As Well

Frequently, people drop a note and ask for recommendations for publications outside the usual suspects in American media; almost invariably, one of the publications I highly recommend is Ha'aretz, which I believe to be Israel's finest newspaper.

I say this for a number of reasons. Just as with the U.S., Israel faces the problem of corporate media and media driven by partisan interests. Ha'aretz however offers a diverse range of voices, from hard liners and settler zealots of the Likud Party and others, but all the way along the continuum to some of the finest minds I get to read in my daily media perusal (and I try to hit at least a dozen papers around the world each morning).

While we talk about terrorism here, it's often far more abstract. Few of us have to worry about climbing on a city bus or visiting our local market or coffee shop for fear that doing so may put us right in the striking range of a suicide bomber. Too often, this has been reality in Israel.

But many in Israel see this issue - and that they would be terrified is most understandable - in a greater context, one in which they can, despite their fears, appreciate that building a huge wall, as Ariel Sharon ordered, or impoverishing their Palestinian and other-Arab neighbors will do nothing to bring about peace and is, sadly, far more likely to cause more pain for themselves and their country as well as for everyone else.

Too frequently, in this country, our leaders speak of Israel as a country with a single voice that is, beneath the surface, as anti-Muslim and anti-Arab as our own. But the Israel I see in Ha'aretz and the Israelis I'd met real-time as well as come to know through correspondence in the last few years are hardly one-dimensional.

Even if you're not looking to understand Israel, I don't see how we can separate ourselves from the conflict in the Middle East because it is tied - both intrinsically as well as politically and in some very bizarre ways, through an almost surreal alliance between our ultra-religious right and the farthest right of the Likuds/settlers/extreme Zionists (each looking for their own version of winning through a version of Rapture) - to the health of the entire world.

In my humble opinion, reading Ha'aretz - and not just the headlines, but the many individual essays and the forums where Israelis (Jews and non-Jews) post comments - gives a much needed perspective that you simply aren't going to find in American or British papers. It allows you to see beyond Israel, too, into Iraq and Iran, into Syria and Lebanon. And it gives you the gift of insight you won't find anywhere else, including into schizophrenic U.S. policy that seems to do little but increase tensions between Israel and its neighbors. Example: while we barely paid attention to the war Israel engaged in within Lebanon last summer, Israelis were involved in very serious debate over a) whether this action was proper and b) whether this was a war waged in proxy for the U.S. to send a signal to Iran and Syria, who are often viewed as enabling Hezbollah's power in Lebanon.

For example, on any given day, you see how Israelis are as torn by the leadership of their country as we are here with the Bush Administration. A great many Israelis are gravely concerned that the operation of the country under Ehud Olmert, Sharon's hand-picked successor - and its sometimes unholy alliance with the Bushies - not only makes things worse for the Palestinians, but makes every Israeli citizen far less safe. Israel has the right - and we have the obligation as "our brother's keeper" to help ensure this happens - to exist. But, as you'll see often in Ha'aretz, many Israelis recognize they have many neighbors in the Middle East who also have the right to exist; to deny them this right can only bring more fear, hate, and ultimately, death and destruction.

Call me idealistic (and it would be an all too apt label to attach to me), but I truly believe that the answers may have to come from us - the people of the U.S., the people of Israel, and the people of Arab/Muslim countries, to name but a few - and to be able to accomplish that, we must understand what goes on outside our respective bubbles. I believe reading Ha'aretz, for example, is one of the ways we can learn and begin a dialogue independent of our governments.

OK, I'm kickin' the soapbox back under my desk. But let me add that Ha'aretz is a good read, too. 'Nuff said.


Fascinating Look At Senators And Congressional War Powers

[Ed. note: You also might want to look at Mark McDonald's post on why American hubris bears a big blame in the Iraq war fiasco at Beggars Can Be Choosers.]

Glenn Greenwald is hot today with an excellent round-up of where our senators have stood on presidential v. Congressional powers on war (go to the link to see a heluva summary of quotes and context):

Russ Feingold today is chairing a Committee hearing in order to demonstrate that Congress has the Constitutional authority to compel the President to withdraw troops from Iraq, a power that is not merely confined to cutting off appropriations. Sen. Feingold is holding the hearing in the face of claims -- mostly from Congressional Republicans and their supporters -- that only the President has the power to make determinations about troop deployments, and Congress' only power is one of appropriations.

Back in September, when Chris Wallace falsely accused Bill Clinton of emboldening the Terrorists by prematurely cutting-and-running from Somalia (a favorite right-wing meme), it was documented here (as Clinton himself pointed out to Wallace) that it was actually Republican Senators who forced Clinton to withdraw troops by imposing troop withdrawal deadlines on him and threatening further restrictions on his ability to keep troops there. But if one goes back and reviews that debate, it is quite striking that Republicans back then certainly did not seem to believe that Congress lacked the ability to restrict the President's power to deploy troops. They argued exactly the opposite - that they had that power -- and they used it to force Clinton out of Somalia (all excerpts are available here, by searching "Somalia):

John McCain's stirring pro-withdrawal Senate speech about why it was urgent that the Senate force Clinton to leave Somalia is particularly interesting in light of all of his completely contrary claims today about Iraq...

While Senators Warn Against a Bush Push For War With Iran, We Hear About Iranians Killing Americans In Iraq

[Update: Former "intelligence" czar and now State Dept Asst Secretary John Negroponte warns that Iran "cannot go unchallenged" in Iraq, while Bush insists "nobody's talking about invading Iran" (right - he said that about Iraq as late as a few weeks before we did).]

Here's the AP story on the senators warning about Iran and now here is also this from Hoffmania which, to me, can ONLY be expected AFTER Bush announced a "death warrant" on any "Iranian operatives" found "interfering" in Iraq (and Mr. Bush would say I'm interfering, for example, by questioning his motivation for wanting to attack Iran):

MSNBC is reporting that Iranian forces gunned down five American troops. That's what "intel" is saying.

Really? Pardon my cynicism. There is absolutely no reason for us to NOT believe that this is all a giant setup to start a war with Iran. Every ounce of "evidence" this White House has made every step of the way when it comes to military action in the Middle East was trumped up. Fake. Phoney. Failed to exist.

So this latest "outrage" rings utterly hollow. And unless they suddenly get the urge to use diplomacy instead of military force in Iran, we call bullshit. Complete bullshit.

And sending more US troops in to egg on Iranians smacks of all the attempts to goad Saddam Hussein into a war. If America has a brain left, we'll all call for complete and total hand-tying on these war mongers if they even LOOK at Iran funny.

Besides, Ahmadenijad's got his own people to worry about before he can deal with us. His economy is now in the toilet and his citizens are fed up with his hubris.

Judy Judy Judy: Just How Do We Believe Anything Out of Judith Miller's Mouth or Byline?

You may have noticed I have not commented on former "journalist" (in the same way, I suppose, that Bill O'Reilly is a "journalist", meaning, nah... they just serve dark masters, including but not exclusive to themselves) Judith Miller - most recently the New York Times' "I see WMD everywhere gal -testimony, under subpoena, at the Scooter Libby/CIA Spy Leak/PlameGate trial today.

But I'll let you read this because I cannot believe a single syllable that comes out of her mouth or keyboard. In that respect, she's very much like Bush, Cheney, Rove, etc.

I Missed It; You Shouldn't: Keith Olbermann's Special Comment For Tuesday, January 30th

[Addition: Also check this out from Olbermann's latest special comment: I am indebted to David Swanson, press secretary for Dennis Kucinich’s 2004 presidential campaign, who has blogged about the dubious 96 words in Mr. Bush’s address this year and who has concluded that of the four counter-terror claims the president made, he went 0-for-4.]

Keith Olbermann truth-fact checked the president's SoTU address (specifically, things like the claim to have stopped four terror plots) and found Bush, as usual, just making it up as he goes along.

See it or read it all here, but I'm offering a big snip-snip:

“We cannot know the full extent of the attacks that we and our allies have prevented,” Mr. Bush noted, “but here is some of what we do know: We stopped an al-Qaida plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast.”

This would, of course, sir, be the purported plot to knock down the 73-story building in Los Angeles, the one once known as the Library Tower — the one you personally revealed so breathlessly a year ago next month.

It was embarrassing enough that you mistakenly referred to the structure as the “Liberty Tower.”

But within hours it was also revealed that authorities in Los Angeles had had no idea you were going to make any of the details — whether serious or fanciful — public.

Who terrorized Southern California that day, Mr. Bush?

A year ago next month, the Los Angeles Times quoted a source — identified only by the labyrinthine description “a U.S. official familiar with the operational aspects of the war on terrorism” — who insisted that the purported “Library Tower plot” was one of many al-Qaida operations that had not gotten very far past the conceptual stage.

The former staff director of counter-terrorism for the National Security Council — now a news analyst for NBC News and MSNBC — Roger Cressey, puts it a little more bluntly.

In our conversation, he put the “Library Tower story” into a category he called the “What-Ifs” — as in the old “Saturday Night Live sketches that tested the range of comic absurdity:

What if ... Superman had worked for the Nazis?

[...]Your totally black-and-white conclusions in the State of the Union were based on one gray area, and on three palettes on which the experts can’t even see smudge, let alone gray.

It would all be laughable, Mr. Bush, were you not the president of the United States.

It would all be political hyperbole, Mr. Bush, if you had not, on this kind of “intelligence,” taken us to war, now sought to escalate that war, and are threatening new war in Iran and maybe even elsewhere.

Dan Froomkin: "How This White House Operates"

Great piece by Froomkin in WaPo today:

From the first time the White House was asked about allegations that senior officials had exposed a CIA agent's identity as part of a plot to discredit an administration critic, the answer was consistent.

As spokesman Scott McClellan put it as early as July 22, 2003: "That is not the way this President or this White House operates."

But in the course of the Scooter Libby trial, one thing has become quite clear: That is precisely the way this White House operates.

Faced with accusations that they had marched the country to war on evidence they knew was suspect, White House aides evidently responded with little if any restraint in attempting to discredit their critics.

That lack of restraint, now exposed for all to see, is likely to leave a bad taste in the public's mouth.

But generally speaking, it has served Bush and his aides well. The White House's ferocity -- compounded by an easily distracted press corps and a Republican-controlled Congress not the least bit interested in oversight -- successfully kept crucial information about the administration's use and abuse of prewar intelligence out of the public sphere through the 2004 election and, arguably, to this day.

Not Exactly Political But Damned Interesting: Stone Age Village Uncovered at Stonehenge

Damn, this is interesting:

Archeological dig in England uncovers houses where hundreds of people lived during Stone Age.
Mind you, I'm deep into Arnold C. Brackman's (my late journalism prof's) "The Dream of Troy" about Heinrich Schliemann's (successful) efforts to uncover the city of Troy which many of his time were sure was solely a fictional invention of Homer and those who believed thought was located in another place altogether from where it indicators were ultimately found.

[And no, it's not my usual reading material, but I'm been going back and forth between this, some material from heretofore unpublished "gospels" of the Bible, (separately) a great book about Jesus called "Lamb" by Christopher Moore, AND I'm working trying to learn some Hebrew (which sucks as you might expect from a shiksa), which is different from the 100 or so Yiddish words I know.]

You Don't Have to Love Castro To Find This Sickening

From AP:

The city of Miami is planning an official celebration at the Orange Bowl whenever Cuban president Fidel Castro dies.
And if Iran or Cuba or Venezuela celebrated the death of Bush or another U.S. president, we'd be demanding war.

Again, the only people to "thank" for maintaining Fidel Castro's power over Cuba is the U.S., among them the extreme rabid, wealthy Cubans initially displaced by la revolucion, largely for their extremely bad behavior toward the people of Cuba, and the American politicians who sucked up to them and took their money.

A Note From A Cousin of Casey Casavant, Iraq Vet and Blackwater Operative

Since I had my say - in which I hoped to reflect some admiration for the dead former Iraq soldier, Casey Casavant, and my feeling that he was not just "another" Blackwater "soldier of fortune" op, but perhaps failing badly in doing so - I feel it's only right to post, where it will be seen, a comment that arrived from Tamera Pariseau, who identifies herself as the E Montpelier VT native's cousin:

Casey wasn't "forced" to do anything. Casey was doing something he believed in, whether we agree with it or not, and for that I am extremely proud of him.

Casey's family is and always has been very proud of him and his service to his country. Please don't tarnish that by making assumptions about things you know nothing about.

I've never been a believer in this war, but I'm damn proud of my cousin.
You should be proud of your cousin.

As I wrote, I am no fan of Blackwater or of the Bush agenda in Iraq; that is quite separate, however, from those called upon to serve in the U.S. military. Your cousin did a most difficult job that was asked of him, not once but in three separate tours for the U.S. military.

My comment about "forced" through three tours was taken straight from the media, which has (often and quite reprehensibly) misreported; I should have made that clear.

My sincere sympathies to you and your family. I've lost loved ones in war as well as lost those I knew because they came back forever, irrecoverably changed by what they experienced. It's most terrible, even in the best supported wars.

I am encouraged, however, by the number of Google and other searches I see on Casey's name. Too often, I'm afraid, the dead in Iraq - civilian and military - go anonymous for all but their family and friends.

Dick Cheney: He May Be the Vice President But As For Respected, Liked, And Thought Truthful... Well...

Cheney's protestations of pompous and infinite importance aside, it's sounding like the masses are trying of "Duck, it's Dick!".

From Eugene Robinson's column ("The Ba-Da-Boom Crew") in the Clarksville, TN, Leaf-Chronicle:

If you've been following the Lewis "Scooter" Libby perjury trial, I can understand how you might confuse Dick Cheney with Tony Soprano. Cheney's office is beginning to sound a lot like the Bada Bing, minus the dancers.

Court has been in session only for a week, and already we've heard about characters being set up (Libby, allegedly, to save political wizard Karl Rove), strung along (media bigwigs, who were to be played like patsies), buried in mud (former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who questioned the raison d'etre of the Iraq War) and ratted out (the famously leak-averse Cheney, revealed to be willing to leak like a washerless faucet when it suits his purposes).

Cheney's no Tony, though. For one thing, Tony would never let one of his top henchmen go by a preppy-sounding handle like "Scooter." For another, this kind of all-in-the-family mess would send Tony moping to his long-suffering shrink, whereas Cheney shows no inclination to deal with uncomfortable issues or face harsh realities.

Increasingly, the vice president is sounding as if he lives in a la-la land of his own imagining, a place beyond truth.

In Cheney's world, the Iraq War is an enormous success. The idea that anyone would think otherwise is hogwash. The midterm election doesn't seem to have happened yet — some sort of time warp may be involved. Polls that show overwhelming public opposition to the war do not even merit a nod of acknowledgement.

And it's "out of line," as Wolf Blitzer learned, to ask Cheney about a glaring personal contradiction — the administration he serves wants to ban gay marriage, and meanwhile his lesbian daughter and her life partner are having a baby. Cheney acts as if he's willing to go to any lengths to keep people from learning that on the subject of homosexuality, he's probably pretty enlightened.

Let's hope that Cheney isn't really out to lunch, that he's just playing politics. A conservative friend reminded me the other day that all the White House has left, in terms of public support, is the hard-line Republican right. Let's hope Cheney is just tossing out red meat to keep these stalwarts on the team.
And from the American Politics Journal:
Thank you, Dick Cheney.

You have freed us from the bondage of the Sunday morning news programs. We now know, thanks to your brutal honesty, what we have long suspected but only just this week had corroborated. That is, these shows are part of the Big Lie, part of what was once quaintly called the “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” (VRWC).

In case you missed it, Cathie Martin, Cheney’s former communications director, admitted on the witness stand at Lewis Libby’s perjury trial that the best way to respond to the accusations that the Bush administration had misled Congress and the nation into going to war with Iraq was to book her boss on Meet the Press. “Chatty” Cathie said that the advantage to doing this is that Cheney would be able to “control the message” (read: lie constantly without being called on it). She admitted, “I suggested we put the vice president on 'Meet the Press,' which was a tactic we often used. It's our best format.”

It’s our best format.


And why wouldn’t it be? Week after week, it is the same song. Week after week, the symphony of sycophancy is more reliable than Old Faithful at Yellowstone Park. And, like that famous geyser, it’s one prodigious blast of hot air, gas and ashes.
This is, of course, true of all the Sunday morning shows, not just Meet the Press. Thanks to Cheney we know that every one of these shows is involved in mind control.

President Bush Isn't the Only "Decider"

This comes from PA Republican (aka "the senator from Scotland"), Arlen Specter, who insisted that Congress has a say, that "the decider" is a shared responsibility.

Around that time - while Russ Feingold also fiercely said Congress had the right and responsibility to stop the president's planned escalation in Iraq - the "deciders" were "interrupted" (quoth the media) by one of the people they represent (interruptions I say they direly need), a woman who begged them to stop the Iraq surge before her son, a Marine, was forced to take a third tour in Iraq.

Liner Notes (Of Sorts)

I mentioned earlier that I will be sharing blogging duties between this blog and my Green Mountain-centric, Vermont: Now & Zen, and another blog.

Well, now I feel comfortable in telling you the other blog is All Things Democrat (yes, I know, I'm an Independent but it's a decent fit since I will be a progressive to my dying day), run by Doug Marquardt.

All Things Democrat has been on hiatus, but it will re-emerge with daily postings on Thursday, February 1st, with forums as well as the blog.

U.S. To Blame For Rise of Sectarian Problems and Iran's Rise In Influence in Region

I do not disagree with this assessment, as reported in WaPo:

Four years after the Iraq invasion, Arab nations are awash in sharpening sectarian currents that many blame the United States for exacerbating.

Dan Froomkin on "The Unraveling of Dick Cheney" (Yank Harder, People!)

Dan at WaPo writes about our esteemedsteamed 2nd in Delusion, "I'm the vice president and they're not" (shades of Chevy Chase), Dick Cheney:

While Dick Cheney undoubtedly remains the most powerful vice president this nation has ever seen, it's becoming increasingly unclear whether anyone outside the White House believes a word he says.

Inside the West Wing, Cheney's influence remains considerable. In fact, nothing better explains Bush's perplexing plan to send more troops to Iraq than Cheney's neoconservative conviction that showing the world that we have the "stomach for the fight" is the most important thing -- even if it isn't accomplishing the things we're supposed to be fighting for. Even if it's backfiring horribly.

But as his astonishing interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer laid bare last week, Cheney is increasingly out of touch with reality. He seems to think that by asserting things that are simply untrue, he can make others believe they are so.

Maybe that works within the White House. But for the rest of us, it's becoming a better bet to assume that everything -- or almost everything -- Cheney says is flat wrong.

Meanwhile, the trial of Cheney's former chief of staff Scooter Libby is exposing to public view the vice president's role as master-manipulator of misinformation and vindictive retaliator-in-chief -- once again, indifferent to the truth. (For example, Cheney ordered his staff to lie to reporters about the contents of a highly classified National Intelligence Estimate.)

And former aide Cathie Martin's testimony on Friday validated the most cynical conspiracy theories about how Cheney manipulates the press.

Montpelier's Thom Hartmann Takes Helm From Al Franken At Air America

Looks like the great - and quite nearly, the late - experiment in anything other than hard right radio, Air America, has been saved. And as Air America's "flagship" personality, Al Franken, steps down to explore a run for U.S. Senate for Minnesota (kick Norm Coleman's ass, Al), Montpelier, VT's own Thom Hartmann will step in to replace Al in the prime time slot.

You can read the entire story, including how it was former NYC consumer advocate Mark Green's brother, Stephen, who is buying Air America to save it from dissolution, on the Huffington Post.

Thom is already on the radio, including on Air America, and the author of several books, including "Screwed, The Undeclared War Against The Middle Class" (a must-read, IMHO).

Give 'em hell, Thom! Your neighbors in Vermont wish you the best.


Jeffrey Kuhner, The Man Behind The Obama Madrassa Smear

From today's New York Times entitled "Feeding Frenzy" (won't name his reporters?):

Jeffrey T. Kuhner, whose Web site published the first anonymous smear of the 2008 presidential race, is hardly the only editor who will not reveal his reporters’ sources. What sets him apart is that he will not even disclose the names of his reporters.

But their anonymity has not stopped them from making an impact. In the last two weeks, Mr. Kuhner’s Web site, Insight, the last remnant of a defunct conservative print magazine owned by the Unification Church led by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, was able to set off a wave of television commentary, talk-radio chatter, official denials, investigations by journalists around the globe and news media self-analysis that has lasted 11 days and counting.

The controversy started with a quickly discredited Jan. 17 article on the Insight Web site asserting that the presidential campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was preparing an accusation that her rival, Senator Barack Obama, had covered up a brief period he had spent in an Islamic religious school in Indonesia when he was 6.

(Other news organizations have confirmed Mr. Obama’s descriptions of the school as a secular public school. Both senators have denounced the report, and there is no evidence that Mrs. Clinton’s campaign planned to spread those accusations.)

Smoke and Mirrors, Indeed

From Phil BC at A Very Public Sociologist:

According to this morning's Guardian the US government is considering whether building giant space mirrors and pumping dust(!) into the atmosphere could be a viable means to combat global warming. The idea is these could reflect away around 1% of the sun’s rays, counteracting the heating effects of greenhouse gases.

This reminds me of the urban myth about the US and Soviet space programmes. Because conventional pens couldn't work in weightless environments, the US spent millions developing one that did. The Russians on the other hand just used a pencil.

And so it is with this latest technological fix. The administration stands prepared to spend billions undertaking complex engineering projects in near-Earth space but refuses to countenance the technically simpler measure of reducing emissions. We can't have business paying to clean up their mess can we? And yet tax dollars by the billions can be found to fund hare-brained schemes, such as these.

Will The Real John McCain (Video) Please Stand Down

Robert Greenwald is back with a blistering viral video of uber hawk (for no apparent good reason other than his wanton desire to become president in 2008), John McCain. To see it, visit The RealMcCain.

(Did you know our president, George W. Bush, ever sooooo sooooo thoughtful of men, unlike him, who actually DID serve the U.S. in the military, calls McCain "Hogan", after the Bob Crane character in Hogan's Heroes?)


While I will no longer refer to McCain as a war hero for his stance that will send more men and women needlessly into war and result in far more Iraqi civilian deaths, calling him Hogan is a bit much.

So What Did Go On In Najaf on Sunday?

I'm mystified, and I'm apparently not the only one based on various blog postings, including this from AJ at AmericaBlog:

I'm a little baffled by the news on yesterday's battle in Najaf. Outlets are breathlessly reporting that an attack on major Shia religious leaders, including Ayatollah Sistani (a "good" Ayatollah, for those keeping score at home), was foiled by Iraqi troops with American support. The lead of most articles is, of course, that 250 fighters were (reportedly) killed, but that's probably the least important element of the story.

The implication generally seems to be that there were Sunni insurgents in the outskirts of Najaf, a holy city in Iraq and the home of Sistani, in the operational stages of an attack on the city, including a major Shia mosque and Sistani himself. When I first read this, I was extremely skeptical. The insurgency is largely decentralized, including widespread reports of infighting, and even when they're able to cooperate on a large scale, insurgents largely use indirect fire (IEDs, mortars, etc.) -- rather than small arms fire (guns) -- against major targets. It sounded to me more like some kind of mass uprising of a particular group or sect.I wasn't surprised to read, therefore, that Arab press is reporting not one, not two, but three possible scenarios to explain the fighting.

One is the Sunni insurgent possibility, but the other two indicate that the fighters were actually Shia. As usual, Juan Cole is indispensable on the intricacies. One Shia narrative suggests an uprising after an attempt to arrest a radical Shia cleric; the other indicates the group consisted of "Twelvers" (sometimes referred to as millenarians) who sought to bring about the return of the Mahdi by assassinating the four main Najaf clerics.It is hard for me to understand why the identities of the fighters is still in question...a

Nice To See Mr. Cheney Has Chartered A Course Even Further From Reality in Latest Newsweek Interview

From Joe at AmericaBlog:

Further proof that the Vice President has no concept of reality evidenced in the Newsweek interview:
    [Interviewer]There has been little open support from the Republican Party for the president's plan for extra troops in Iraq. Do you worry that the party has lost the stomach for the fight?

    [Cheney] The election results last November obviously represented a blow to our friends on the Hill, Republicans on the Hill—to go from majority to minority status. A lot of members were concerned or felt that their political fortunes were adversely affected by our ongoing operations in Iraq. What's happened here now over the last few weeks is that the president has shored up his position with the speech he made specifically on Iraq.
Shored up his position? We know Cheney is delusional about Iraq. But, obviously, his ability to understand the truth extends beyond Iraq. There's no evidence anywhere that Bush has "shored up his position." Whenever Dick Cheney says something, the opposite is probably true. And, that's the case with Bush's approval. The reality from the Newsweek poll:
    The president’s approval ratings are at their lowest point in the poll’s history—30 percent—and more than half the country (58 percent) say they wish the Bush presidency were simply over, a sentiment that is almost unanimous among Democrats (86 percent), and is shared by a clear majority (59 percent) of independents and even one in five (21 percent) Republicans. Half (49 percent) of all registered voters would rather see a Democrat elected president in 2008, compared to just 28 percent who’d prefer the GOP to remain in the White House.

Scots: Bush Will Attack Iran Before End Of April

From Scotland's Sunday Herald, as reported by Buzzflash:

Bush is preparing to attack Iran's nuclear facilities before the end of April and the US Air Force's new bases in Bulgaria and Romania would be used as back-up in the onslaught, according to an official report from Sofia.
Uh, can we nuke George first?


Why Assholes Are More Important Than Either Rush Limbaugh Or Glenn Beck

There is one reason: assholes come in handy at least once a day for removing waste from the body whereas I can't think of a single good reason why Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck could ever be viewed as useful (not even for target practice, since they're both large enough that it takes away the challenge).

From Think Progress on Rush Limbaugh "comedian":

Limbaugh demeans American servicewomen.

On his radio show today, right-wing host Rush Limbaugh criticized the military for allowing women to fight for the United States, asking what “it says about a cultured civilized society that it will round up babes send them off to basic training and send them off to the foxholes.”
Sounds like Newt (the brain trust) Gingrich's "women can't be in combat because they get infections in foxholes" play.

Also from Think Progress on Glenn (who says, "I love the word faggot 'cus it's cute and naughty") Beck:
Update: Beck recants, swears allegiance to Rush.

Yesterday on NPR, right-wing talk show host Glenn Beck criticized fellow conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh for his strident rhetoric, saying it will be “the death of our industry, and the death of our country.” Today, Beck released a statement taking it all back: “I was disappointed to see how NPR chose to make it look like I was insulting Rush, which is something I would never do.
Gee, Glenn.. you really feel that strongly about Rush?

If so, you two should get a room. Smoochies!

And CNN? You should be so proud of yourself for hiring Beck the Dreck.

Give It Hell, Molly!

From Shayera at Excuse the Mess; my best wishes go out to Molly and her family that she will be able to battle the cancer as bravely and with as much humor as she has the assholes:

Ivins Hospitalized in Ongoing Battle With Cancer

Molly Ivins has been hospitalized in her battle against breast cancer. This is her third go around with the cancer. Send some good thoughts her way.

(And Yet More) Paul Krugman: "The Sum Of All Ears"

Go there for it all, or have a taste here:

For those hoping for real action on global warming and energy policy, the State of the Union address was a downer. There had been hints and hopes that the speech would be a Nixon-goes-to-China moment, with President Bush turning conservationist. But it ended up being more of a Nixon-bombs-Cambodia moment.

Too bad: the rumors were tantalizing. Al Hubbard, the chairman of the National Economic Council, predicted “headlines above the fold that will knock your socks off in terms of our commitment to energy independence.” British officials told the newspaper The Observer that Mr. Bush would “make a historic shift in his position on global warming.”

None of it happened. Mr. Bush acknowledged that climate change is a problem, but you missed it if you sneezed. He said something vague about fuel economy, but the White House fact sheet on energy makes it clear that there was even less there than met the ear.

The only real substance was Mr. Bush’s call for a huge increase in the supply of “alternative fuels.” Mainly that means using ethanol to replace gasoline. Unfortunately, that’s a really bad idea.

There is a place for ethanol in the world’s energy future — but that place is in the tropics. Brazil has managed to replace a lot of its gasoline consumption with ethanol. But Brazil’s ethanol comes from sugar cane.In the United States, ethanol comes overwhelmingly from corn, a much less suitable raw material. In fact, corn is such a poor source of ethanol that researchers at the University of Minnesota estimate that converting the entire U.S. corn crop — the sum of all our ears — into ethanol would replace only 12 percent of our gasoline consumption.

Still, doesn’t every little bit help? Well, this little bit would come at a very high price compared with the obvious alternative — conservation. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that reducing gasoline consumption 10 percent through an increase in fuel economy standards would cost producers and consumers about $3.6 billion a year. Achieving the same result by expanding ethanol production would cost taxpayers at least $10 billion a year, based on the subsidies ethanol already receives — and probably much more, because expanding production would require higher subsidies.

What’s more, ethanol production has hidden costs. Even the Department of Energy, which is relatively optimistic, says that the net energy savings from replacing a gallon of gasoline with ethanol are only the equivalent of about a quarter of a gallon, because of the energy used to grow corn, transport it, run ethanol plants, and so on. And these energy inputs come almost entirely from fossil fuels, so it’s not clear whether promoting ethanol does anything to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Get your full Krugman fix here.


Did I mention it's fucking frigid in New England?

Well, it is!

Paul Krugman: "On Being Partisan"

Read it all from Paul Krugman here, but have this taste:

American politics is ugly these days, and many people wish things were different. For example, Barack Obama recently lamented the fact that “politics has become so bitter and partisan” — which it certainly has.

But he then went on to say that partisanship is why “we can’t tackle the big problems that demand solutions. And that’s what we have to change first.” Um, no. If history is any guide, what we need are political leaders willing to tackle the big problems despite bitter partisan opposition. If all goes well, we’ll eventually have a new era of bipartisanship — but that will be the end of the story, not the beginning.

Or to put it another way: what we need now is another F.D.R., not another Dwight Eisenhower.You see, the nastiness of modern American politics isn’t the result of a random outbreak of bad manners. It’s a symptom of deeper factors — mainly the growing polarization of our economy. And history says that we’ll see a return to bipartisanship only if and when that economic polarization is reversed.

After all, American politics has been nasty in the past. Before the New Deal, America was a nation with a vast gap between the rich and everyone else, and this gap was reflected in a sharp political divide. The Republican Party, in effect, represented the interests of the economic elite, and the Democratic Party, in an often confused way, represented the populist alternative.In that divided political system, the Democrats probably came much closer to representing the interests of the typical American.

But the G.O.P.’s advantage in money, and the superior organization that money bought, usually allowed it to dominate national politics. “I am not a member of any organized party,” Will Rogers said. “I am a Democrat.”

Then came the New Deal. I urge Mr. Obama — and everyone else who thinks that good will alone is enough to change the tone of our politics — to read the speeches of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the quintessential example of a president who tackled big problems that demanded solutions.For the fact is that F.D.R. faced fierce opposition as he created the institutions — Social Security, unemployment insurance, more progressive taxation and beyond — that helped alleviate inequality. And he didn’t shy away from confrontation.

“We had to struggle,” he declared in 1936, “with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. ...

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.”It was only after F.D.R. had created a more equal society, and the old class warriors of the G.O.P. were replaced by “modern Republicans” who accepted the New Deal, that bipartisanship began to prevail.

The history of the last few decades has basically been the story of the New Deal in reverse. Income inequality has returned to levels not seen since the pre-New Deal era, and so have political divisions in Congress as the Republicans have moved right, once again becoming the party of the economic elite. The signature domestic policy initiatives of the Bush administration have been attempts to undo F.D.R.’s legacy, from slashing taxes on the rich to privatizing Social Security. And a bitter partisan gap has opened up between the G.O.P. and Democrats, who have tried to defend that legacy.

What about the smear campaigns, like Karl Rove’s 2005 declaration that after 9/11 liberals wanted to “offer therapy and understanding for our attackers”? Well, they’re reminiscent of the vicious anti-Catholic propaganda used to defeat Al Smith in 1928: smear tactics are what a well-organized, well-financed party with a fundamentally unpopular domestic agenda uses to change the subject.

Buzzflash: Bush & Cheney Should Be On Trial For Treason

As regular readers know, I have long stated - and continue to do so - that we need to look at far more serious issues and consequences than filing impeachment charges against Bush and Cheney for their many lies, their many fuckups, their many corrupt acts, and their wanton destruction of everything from the environment to our financial health to public education and science, to the U.S. Constitution.

After all, we impeached a president less than 10 years ago for lying about a blowup; I think what Bush & Cheney did was fuck over the world and deserves more than a little censure.

So I was glad to see that Buzzflash today says that while Scooter Libby may be on trial for perjury, Bush and Cheney - and perhaps the entire Bush Administration - belongs on trial for treason. I do, too.

Another Shoutout: Welcome Back DR at Trailing Edge Blog

I notice DailyRead is back posting at one of my regular stops, Trailing Edge blog.

Welcome back, DR. You were missed.

Happy Second Anniversary to JurassicPork and Welcome to Pottersville

Join me in wishing JurassicPork at Welcome to Pottersville a happy blog anniversary today (Monday, the 29th, if I recall correctly his notation last week).

Oops, and while I'm on the subject of JP and WtP, let me note that he has additional information on Lara Logan, the chief foreign correspondent for CBS News who is begging for help getting real stories out of Iraq because the corporate media here doesn't want to show us the bloody reality of Baghdad, et al. The post is entitled, "Meet the New Fucker..." and you don't want to miss. You also will see there this link to one of the Iraq videos Logan can't get shown without our help (and it's a doozy). As JP notes:

This is what George Bush doesn’t want you to know or remember: That war has consequences, it has deaths and it produces injuries that all too often prevent a trip to Washington, DC to serve as window dressing for 45 minutes at a State of the Union Address.

Update:The folks at Media Channel inform us in the comments section that CBS, indeed, did air last night ‘The Battle for Haifa Street’, Logan's previously suppressed piece. Perhaps word got out that Logan was helping this go viral.
If you haven't experienced Pottersville yet, do so.. and wish JP a happy 2nd anniversary while you're there.

If We Aren't In the Army, Then Bush is NOT Our Commander in Chief

Thank God someone else finally said this because Bush is not the "commander in chief" (commander in cheat, fine and dandy; commander in corruption, no shit Sherlock; commander in chaos and confusion, most definitely) of the American people because we are not - all indications to the contrary with the tragic amount of money that rolls into the Pentagon that would be better spent elsewhere, notwithstanding - a military state.

From Glenn Greenwald ("Public Servant v. Military Commander"):

Garry Wills has an Op-Ed in the New York Times this morning criticizing the practice of constantly referring to the President as the "Commander-in-Chief":
    The word has become a synonym for “president.” It is said that we “elect a commander in chief.” It is asked whether this or that candidate is “worthy to be our commander in chief.”

    But the president is not our commander in chief. He certainly is not mine. I am not in the Army.

    . . .The glorification of the president as a war leader is registered in numerous and substantial executive aggrandizements; but it is symbolized in other ways that, while small in themselves, dispose the citizenry to accept those aggrandizements.
Wills recounts that Dwight Eisenhower, "a real general," would not exchange salutes while President, because saluting was for those in the military, not civilian Presidents. The practice of presidential saluting was begun by Ronald Reagan, who -- like our current President -- loved ceremonial displays of warrior courage and military power even though (more likely: because) he had none in his real history.

The point Wills makes is an important one, but like most politically insightful points, my first exposure to this insight was in the blogosphere. Back in January, 2006, as part of its "reporting" on the NSA scandal, Newsweek's Evan Thomas and Daniel Klaidman labeled objections over President Bush's illegal eavesdropping program as "histrionics," and pronounced that "the debate was narrow and somewhat vacuous." After all, this was all that had happened with the NSA scandal:
    The message to White House lawyers from their commander in chief, recalls one who was deeply involved at the time, was clear enough: find a way to exercise the full panoply of powers granted the president by Congress and the Constitution.
Read the rest here.


Frank Rich: "Hillary Clinton's Mission Unaccomplished"

Frank Rich takes on the First Lady who would be President; read it all here since I offer you but a big snip:

Hillary Clinton has an answer to those who suspect that her “I’m in to win” Webcast last weekend was forced by Barack Obama’s Webcast of just four days earlier. “I wanted to do it before the president’s State of the Union,” she explained to Brian Williams on NBC, “because I wanted to draw the contrast between what we’ve seen over the last six years, and the kind of leadership and experience that I would bring to the office.”

She couldn’t have set the bar any lower. President Bush’s speech was less compelling than the Monty Python sketch playing out behind it: the unacknowledged race between Nancy Pelosi and Dick Cheney to be the first to stand up for each bipartisan ovation. (Winner: Pelosi.)

As we’ve been much reminded, the most recent presidents to face Congress in such low estate were Harry Truman in 1952 and Richard Nixon in 1974, both in the last ebbs of their administrations, both mired in unpopular wars that their successors would soon end, and both eager to change the subject just as Mr. Bush did. In his ’52 State of the Union address, Truman vowed “to bring the cost of modern medical care within the reach of all the people” while Nixon, 22 years later, promised “a new system that makes high-quality health care available to every American.” Not to be outdone, Mr. Bush offered a dead-on-arrival proposal that “all our citizens have affordable and available health care.” The empty promise of a free intravenous lunch, it seems, is the last refuge of desperate war presidents.

Few Americans know more than Senator Clinton about health care, as it happens, and if 27 Americans hadn’t been killed in Iraq last weekend, voters might be in the mood to listen to her about it. But polls continue to show Iraq dwarfing every other issue as the nation’s No. 1 concern. The Democrats’ pre-eminent presidential candidate can’t escape the war any more than the president can. And so she was blindsided Tuesday night, just as Mr. Bush was, by an unexpected gate crasher, the rookie senator from Virginia, Jim Webb. Though he’s not a candidate for national office, Mr. Webb’s nine-minute Democratic response not only upstaged the president but also, in an unintended political drive-by shooting, gave Mrs. Clinton a more pointed State of the Union “contrast” than she had bargained for.

To the political consultants favored by both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Bush, Mr. Webb is an amateur. More than a few Washington insiders initially wrote him off in last year’s race to unseat a star presidential prospect, the incumbent Senator George Allen. Mr. Webb is standoffish. He doesn’t care whom he offends, including in his own base. He gives the impression — as he did Tuesday night — that he just might punch out his opponent. When he had his famously testy exchange with Mr. Bush over the war at a White House reception after his victory, Beltway pooh-bahs labeled him a boor, much as they had that other interloper who refused to censor himself before the president last year, Stephen Colbert.

But this country is at a grave crossroads. It craves leadership. When Mr. Webb spoke on Tuesday, he stepped into that vacuum and, for a few minutes anyway, filled it. It’s not merely his military credentials as a Vietnam veteran and a former Navy secretary for Ronald Reagan that gave him authority, or the fact that his son, also a marine, is serving in Iraq. It was the simplicity and honesty of Mr. Webb’s message. Like Senator Obama, he was a talented professional writer before entering politics, so he could discard whatever risk-averse speech his party handed him and write his own. His exquisitely calibrated threat of Democratic pushback should Mr. Bush fail to change course on the war — “If he does not, we will be showing him the way” — continued to charge the air even as Mrs. Clinton made the post-speech rounds on the networks.

...The image that Mrs. Clinton wants to sell is summed up by her frequent invocation of the word middle, as in “I grew up in a middle-class family in the middle of America.” She’s not left or right, you see, but exactly in the center where everyone feels safe. But as the fierce war critic Chuck Hagel, the Republican senator from Nebraska, argues in a must-read interview at gq.com, the war is “starting to redefine the political landscape” and scramble the old party labels. Like Mrs. Clinton, the middle-American Mr. Hagel voted to authorize the Iraq war, but that has not impeded his leadership in questioning it ever since.
The issue raised by the tragedy of Iraq is not who’s on the left or the right, but who is in front and who is behind. Mrs. Clinton has always been a follower of public opinion on the war, not a leader. Now events are outrunning her. Support for the war both in the polls and among Republicans in Congress is plummeting faster than she can recalibrate her rhetoric; unreliable Iraqi troops are already proving no-shows in the new Iraqi-American “joint patrols” of Baghdad; the Congressional showdown over fresh appropriations for Iraq is just weeks away.

This, in other words, is a moment of crisis in our history and there will be no do-overs. Should Mrs. Clinton actually seek unfiltered exposure to voters, she will learn that they are anxiously waiting to see just who in Washington is brave enough to act.

Passing The Buck: CNN & NBC Blame Obama's Opponents For Smear Campaign

While CNN and NBC - not to mention the slimeballs at Fox and Rev. Moon's Washington Times, et al - are busy pointing to those who might run against Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential nomination race for Dem candidate (like Hillary Clinton and John Edwards), I think the blame only lies ONE place: with those news organizations who chose to report the smears. In this case, I'm referring to the stories that circulated that Obama, as a six-year-old toddler, was in an "advanced" Islamic terrorism school (quite a bright and evil 6 year old, eh?).

See, anyone can and does say anything they like about another person. It's called rumors and gossip.

But professional news organizations should NOT be in the rumors and gossip department. They should be fully vetting their stories before they run with them. If the story about one person is coming from those who oppose him or her, the flag should wave harder to investigate. And then the story, if there is one, should also embrace who is trying to smear whom and for what motivation.

CNN and a few others have done some really bizarre things like confuse Obama's name with Osama's, as in Osama bin Forgotten Laden. Once is a typo; two or more times gets a little.. uh... shall we say... not just a silly blunder.