Thursday, June 23, 2005

Molly is the singer in the band

The lovely and talented Molly Ivins, hereinafter annointed by me as the Smartest Woman Ever To Speak With A Southern Accent (SWETSWASA) says this:

I hope this is not too Inside Baseball, but I am genuinely astonished by what the bloggers call "Mainstream Media." (In my youth, it was quaintly called "the Establishment press.")

The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times have all gone way out of their way to deny that the Downing Street Memos (it's now plural) are news. Like many of you, during the entire lead-up to the war with Iraq, I thought the whole thing was a set-up.

I raise this point not to prove how smart we are, but to emphasize that I followed the debate closely and probably unconsciously searched for evidence that reinforced what I already thought. Most people do that. I read some of the European press and most of the liberal publications in this country. I read the Times, the Post, the Wall Street Journal and several Texas papers every day. It's my job.

But when I read the first Downing Street Memo, my eyes bugged out and my jaw fell open. I could not believe what I was reading. It was news to me, and as I have tried to indicate, I'm no slouch at keeping up. Yes, it has long seemed to me the administration had been planning the war for months before it began its pubic relations campaign to scare a skeptical public.

. . .

I don't know if these memos represent an impeachable offense -- although I must say, I don't want to bring up the Clinton comparison again. But they strike me as a hell of lot worse than anything Richard Nixon ever contemplated. He used the government for petty political vindictiveness. Heck, I'd settle for that again, over what we're looking at now.

The irony of Deep Throat surfacing after all these years in the midst of this memo mess is almost too precious. Does The Washington Post have any hungry young reporters on Metro anymore? I'd say, start with: Who did Dearlove meet with besides George Tenet?

Nothing I can write would have value added, so there it is.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Tie me kangaroo down, sport

In a shamless and whorish attempt to increase traffic, skippy the bush kangaroo pleads, no, begs, no grovels...yeah, that's the ticket. See here

Skippy is about to celebrate his 3rd year riding the big waves of the blogocean (just made that up). He also is zeroing in on 1 million hits, something mere mortals such as myself can only dream about... my precioussss...

He is hoping to have both events coincide, which would be a moment of celestial proportions, momentous in nature, vast in scope, steeped in history, worshipped and adored. And damned cool!

Anyway, skippy is great, the blog is necessary for continued existance of life on this planet, so go, dammit, and pay homage.

Once, twice, three times...

Monday, June 20, 2005

Listen children to a story, that was written long ago

In the NYTimes today:

It has been more than 30 years, but Billy Jack is still plenty ticked off.

. . .

Now the man who created and personified Billy Jack, Tom Laughlin - the writer, director, producer and actor - is determined to take on the establishment again, and his concerns are not so terribly different. Mr. Laughlin (and therefore Billy Jack) is angry about the war in Iraq and about the influence of big business in politics. And he still has a thing for the nuclear power industry.

. . .

"We the people have no representative of any kind," he continued. "It's now the multinationals. They've taken over. It's no different than the 70's, but it's gotten worse. And if you use words like 'impeachment' or 'fascist' you're a nut on a soapbox."

So Mr. Laughlin and Ms. Taylor are planning to bring their characters back to the big screen with a new $12 million sequel, raising money from individuals just as they did to make their films three decades ago.

Kids, I remember that movie. In the heady and naive times of the late '60s and early '70s, films like "Billy Jack" and "Easy Rider" resonated with progressives and maturing hippies of the times.

"Billy Jack" was a statement, it was "Blows Against The Empire," it was MLKing with an attitude. "We're really pacifists, but we'll fight for what we believe is right if you push us." It appealed to those of us who were less Zen-like. While inclined to turn the other cheek, we still felt an outrage about the atrocities of the times: the civil rights movement, Viet Nam, Native American issues, these were all topics on every campus and in every cofffee house. And we were getting more pissed off by the day.

Now, 34 years later, we find the political climate similar. Iraq, as filtered through the Downing Street documents is far worse than Viet Nam, in that there was no crisis there. While a genuine civil war was taking place in that troubled corner of Southeast Asia, the only thing compelling about Iraq, aside from the obvious cruelty of Saddam (as aided by the arms and munitions sold to him by Reagan), was a petulant and shallow boy trying to either make his Daddy proud, or prove that he was a better man than his Dad. How sad, how troubled, how trivial.

In this new film, they say, they will take on social scourges like drugs, and power players like the religious right. They say they will also outline a way to end the current war and launch a political campaign for a third-party presidential candidate.

While I appreciate the sincerity of their convictions, I don't really think the third-party idea is going anywhere soon. Yes the Democrats are wishy-washy and craven: see Biden (R-MBNA) and Lieberman (R-DLC). But has anyone from a different vector helped at all? (See: Ralph).

And this is interesting:

" 'Billy Jack' had a huge impact on me," said Gavin Polone, a television producer who made "Revelations," on NBC this past season, and who approached Mr. Laughlin years ago about making a sequel to his trademark film. But, he said, Mr. Laughlin was unwilling to work within the Hollywood system, and his new project would probably suffer as a result.

Was that before or after you inhaled the LaHaye rants that seem to be the inspiration for "Revelations?" That Dominionist crap should be titled "Revoltings."

Anyway, God bless you, Tom and Delores, for putting your money where your heart is.

"On the bloody morning after one tin soldier rides away"

It's only love, and that is all

25,000 women in the US get pregnant due to rape every year. Stunning!

Here in the NYTimes

Of the 300,000 women who are sexually assaulted each year in this country, some 25,000 suffer the added trauma of finding they are pregnant as a result of the attack. Prompt administration of emergency contraceptives could prevent most of these unwanted pregnancies. Yet, a 2002 study found that most hospital emergency rooms do not routinely offer rape victims this safe and effective option.

The Justice Department could have helped ameliorate this problem last year when it issued voluntary medical and forensic guidelines for hospitals to follow in the treatment of rape victims. But emergency contraception got no mention as a possible option in the 141-page protocol. That is a cruel omission, and yet another instance of the Bush administration allowing right-wing religious groups to set national policy on issues that relate to women's reproductive health and rights.

Even Republican Olympia Snowe (R-Reality) gets it:

Looking to cut through the inertia and ideology, a bipartisan group of lawmakers last week introduced legislation that would mandate that all hospitals receiving federal funds offer rape victims emergency contraception as a matter of basic care. The measure, sponsored by Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jon Corzine, both Democrats, and Olympia Snowe, a Republican, also includes provisions to ensure that women receive the necessary treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

Like the old saying goes: "If men were the ones who got pregnant, . . . "

Monday, June 13, 2005

Bill, I love you still

Clinton hating has become like religion to wingers. First Bill, now Hillary. As my wife recently reminded me, Hillary served with Sam Ervin investigating...drum roll please...Watergate! So that is possibly at the root of some of the bile spewed at her by the radical right.

But as re Bill, Ezra Klein has this to say:

In response to yesterday's post on Clinton hatred, Tim Lee writes in with a possible explanation:

Clinton hatred started during the campaign. By the end of 1992, it was clear that Clinton was a draft dodging, pot smoking, womanizing, shameless liar. To conservatives, this a big deal, and Clinton made no particular attempt to hide or apologize for it. Now, liberals rightly point out that Bush is a draft dodging, coke-consuming liar as well. And they're right.

However, that misunderstands the basis of conservative hatred. Conservatives aren't so much reacting to Clinton's specific actions as to the picture they believe it paints about his character. Bush has sold himself as a born-again Christian and a devout family man. Most of his indiscretions took place before he found Jesus and stopped drinking. Clinton's frequent bimbo eruptions and his smug non-denials of past misbehavior, in contrast, painted him as a self-indulgent, unrepentant child of the sixties.

The rest of Lee's post is a good example of the Clinton years seen through the eyes of a Clinton-hater. Interesting. Moreover, I think Lee gets at something important: Bush repented for the 60's, Clinton did not. Put another way, Bush sold out Boomer ethics in his 40's, Clinton never did. I guess the next logical question is why, exactly, conservatives hate Boomers so much, particularly when so many among them philander, divorce, and booze it up, but this strikes me as a good start.

Interesting and on point. Here's my take on it, posted in comments to Ezra's post, and referring to another commenter there:

As a "boomer" who lived in the '60s, I can tell you that my HS graduating class ('66) consisted of progressive anti-war anti-segregation types (moi), capitalists who became conservative doctors and lawyers, dunces who became, well, adult dunces, in short, a cross section of types.

Clinton is of my group, who while having human flaws, felt a sense of destiny, that we were witnessing a profound change in the world, and that it was our duty to carry the change forward, in other words, not just grow into the world, but make it a better place. For younger types like weboy, who feel annoyed by boomers like me, tough shit, spanky. My generation, along with Mark Felt, brought down Nixon, stopped Viet Nam, marched on Washington, and worked for MLK day.

Bush and his lovers are of a type. They are those of my generation who were CONSERVATIVE, who thought status quo was fine, especially if it didn't inconvenience them, and felt that, as children of wealth or just status quo, that entitled them to everything. And people like me who marched, went to love-ins at Griffith Park and smoked reefer while listening to groovy music, were hated by our conservative contemporaries.

They were unconcerned by doings at Selma, Memphis, and My Lai. They were unconcerned by Reagan's treatment of Chavez here in California. They were unconcerned with black and poor kids dying in Southeast Asia.

The only thing that concerned them was: "How does this affect me?" Rich, poor, or middle class, the conservatives of the time, including the delusional youth who supported Goldwater, cared about their own chances, their own college entrance exams, their own asses. And little else.

Clinton has no need to repent of his '60s sins, and neither do I or anyone who found their way to progressive ideals. Bush supporters who are angry about the '60s are much like Jesse Helms in his latest written revealing as the prototypical Dixiecrat. They yearn for a past that was hateful, toxic, and disgusting. Black folks were mistreated, women were kept "in their place," and capitalists could move unfettered through the American landscape.

What kills me about conservatives is that even those who are relatively poor or middle class still don't get it. Their ideological masters (Strauss, et al) don't give a crap about you. The only people who give a crap about you and your position in society are progressives. How's that health care working for you? What are you going to do for income when your retirement plan fails and Soc. Sec. is dismantled? Don't you get it? You are cannon fodder, soylent green, fertilizer for the Wall Street reading elite.

Clinton has apologized for putting his dick where it didn't belong. Bush should apologize for breathing my air. But he's "saved" so it's all OK.

Well, save this.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

If I were a Rich man

Frank Rich in today's NYTimes:

. . . The Times, have been found guilty of failing to puncture the administration's prewar W.M.D. hype, new details on that same story are still being ignored or left uninvestigated. The July 2002 "Downing Street memo," the minutes of a meeting in which Tony Blair and his advisers learned of a White House effort to fix "the intelligence and facts" to justify the war in Iraq, was published by The London Sunday Times on May 1. Yet in the 19 daily Scott McClellan briefings that followed, the memo was the subject of only 2 out of the approximately 940 questions asked by the White House press corps, according to Eric Boehlert of Salon.

This is the kind of lapdog news media the Nixon White House cherished. To foster it, Nixon's special counsel, Charles W. Colson, embarked on a ruthless program of intimidation that included threatening antitrust action against the networks if they didn't run pro-Nixon stories. Watergate tapes and memos make Mr. Colson, who boasted of "destroying the old establishment," sound like the founding father of today's blogging lynch mobs. He exulted in bullying CBS to cut back its Watergate reports before the '72 election. He enlisted NBC in pro-administration propaganda by browbeating it to repackage 10-day-old coverage of Tricia Nixon's wedding as a prime-time special. It was the Colson office as well that compiled a White House enemies list that included journalists who had the audacity to question administration policies.

Such is the equivalently supine state of much of the news media today that Mr. Colson was repeatedly trotted out, without irony, to pass moral judgment on Mr. Felt - and not just on Fox News, the cable channel that is actually run by the former Nixon media maven, Roger Ailes. "I want kids to look up to heroes," Mr. Colson said, oh so sorrowfully, on NBC's "Today" show, condemning Mr. Felt for dishonoring "the confidence of the president of the United States." Never mind that Mr. Colson dishonored the law, proposed bombing the Brookings Institution and went to prison for his role in the break-in to steal the psychiatric records of The Times's Deep Throat on Vietnam, Daniel Ellsberg. The "Today" host, Matt Lauer, didn't mention any of this - or even that his guest had done jail time. None of the other TV anchors who interviewed Mr. Colson - and he was ubiquitous - ever specified his criminal actions in the Nixon years. Some identified him onscreen only as a "former White House counsel."

Go. Read.

Thanks, Frank!

England swings

Downing Street part II. Here's the big update from Shakespeare's Sister:

The big news is that there has been another leaked British document, confirming that it was "necessary to create the conditions" for the legality of the Iraq War.
The Times' coverage of it can be read here:,,2087-1650822,00.html
My post on it is here:

Also, there's a great editorial in the St. Petersburg Times here that you might find useful (and hopeful):

What I find interesting is that, although it hasn't really made the MSM, the 101st Fighting Keyboarders haven't made too much about it either. No "That font doesn;t look British"-type crap, just a few comments of the usual "Would you rather have Saddam?" variety.

Actually, the answer is yes. See Ranger Shade @ Kos here:

I didn't think it was possible to depress me more about Iraq. I was wrong.

An hour before dawn, the sky still clouded by a dust storm, the soldiers of the Iraqi army's Charlie Company began their mission with a ballad to ousted president Saddam Hussein. "We have lived in humiliation since you left," one sang in Arabic, out of earshot of his U.S. counterparts. "We had hoped to spend our life with you."

Now keep in mind, these are the Iraqis supposedly on OUR side. If that's the sentiment of the people who AREN'T shooting at our boys and girls, one can only imagine what the Iraqis who actually hate our military forces there feel.

And it only gets worse from there.

We broke it, how the hell do we fix it?

Monday, June 06, 2005

It's the euro theatre...

Not sure of the provenance of this gem, it is said to be a letter to the BBC. I searched the BBC site, but no luck. I contacted the person who posted it where I found it on a Pro Audio/Politics email list, and am waiting for a reply.

Any way, here it is. And it's hysterical.

Update: Here's the link:
Scroll down...

Is it me or have we all been locked in a Monty Python sketch this week?
Dutch Voter: Hello, I wish to complain about this treaty what I voted for
not half an hour ago.

Eurocrat: Oh yes, the EU Constitution. What, uh... what's wrong with it?

DV: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. Its dead, that's what's
wrong with it!

E: No, no, uh... what we need now is a period of reflection.

DV: Look matey, I know a dead treaty when I see one, and I'm looking at one
right now.

E: No, no it's not dead, it's being ratified. Remarkable treaty, the EU
Constitution, innit, eh? 300 pages!

DV: The verbosity don't enter into it, my lad.
It's stone dead.
It's passed on!
This treaty is no more!
It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker!
It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace!
If the senior politicians hadn't been ramming it down our throats, it'd
be pushing up daisies! It's off the table. It's kicked the waste paper
basket. It's in the shredder. It's shuffled off its mortal coil, run down
the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible! THIS IS AN EX-TREATY!

E: Well, I'd better replace it then.

[takes a quick peek around Brussels]

E: Sorry squire, I've had a look around Brussels, and uh, we're right out of

DV: I see. I see, I get the picture.

E: I've got a Charter of Fundamental Rights.

DV: Pray, does it lead us to an increasingly united federation of nation

E: Not really.


Jonathan Rowles, Fleet

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The two of us...

Seen in a computer lab on the NCIS TV show:

There are 10 types of

people in the world;

those who understand binary,

and those who don't.

Well, I thought it was funny.

If I listen long enough to you, I'd find a way to believe that it's all true

There's a certain synchronicity in Mark Felt's unveiling as "Deep Throat" and the newly founded Big Brass Blog, following up on the work of After Downing Street and The Downing Street Memo . Both situations are about exposing perfidy and corruption in power, in both cases in the White House.

And in both cases, the Right wingers are in full of outrage and contempt. In what surely is the richest irony of the day, we have Chuck Colson here:

“Mark first served this country with honor, and I can’t imagine how Mark Felt was sneaking in dark alleys leaving messages under flower pots and violating his oath to keep this nation’s secrets. I cannot compute that with the Mark Felt that I know,” Colson said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press. Colson pleaded no contest to an obstruction of justice charge in the Watergate scandal and served time in prison.
And the lovely and talented G. Gordon Liddy:

“If he were interested in performing his duty, he would have gone to the grand jury with his information,” Liddy, who was finance counsel at Nixon’s re-election committee and helped direct the break-in, said in an interview on CNN.
As Ben Bradlee says, "Liddy hasn't been out of jail thtat long. It makes me sick, Liddy talking about morality."

I mean, come on now! Here's Liddy translated:

"If Felt had wanted to really be a whistle blower against me, when I COMMITTED A CRIME, he should have, you know, followed the law. And stuff."

Tresy at Corrente has this followup about Colson:

As many know, Colson's career has had a lucrative (and lachrymose) second act as a "born-again Christian." Fewer might recall that his conversion came about after the Watergate-induced shattering of his earlier lucrative career as self-described "hatchet man" who "would walk over my grandmother for Nixon."

You might think that, as a Christian for whom coming to Christ is the only thing that matters in life, he might have considered thanking Mark Felt for literally making his salvation possible. But this is a guy who has bupkis to say when a fellow Christian hypocrite lies to the voters on a daily basis about matters of life and death, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Which is further proof, if any is needed, that a born-again Christian is just the same old turd with a fresh coat of paint.

Here's the thing: both issues are about Presidential lying, covering the lies up, and public acceptance of that behavior.

As this wonderful followup by Lambert, also at Corrente says, the times have changed:

Nixon, the first wave: Watergate, and the plumbers, were felonies orchestrated and directed from the White House. And Nixon tried to use national security as a cloak to hide his crimes. But our Democratic institutions—and here I use the letter "D" in both upper and lower case—were strong enough to withstand the assault. Hearings were held, and Nixon resigned rather than face impeachment.

Reagan, the second wave: Iran-Contra was a covert, off-the-shelf army run from the White House, off budget, and against the express intent of a law passed by Congress exactly to forbid such a thing. In this case, our Democratic institutions were weaker. Hearings were held, but even though the offense was greater than Nixon's, Reagan suffered no penalty, and the all the malefactors were pardoned.

Bush, the third wave: Name it. A war founded on deception ("facts and intelligence to fit the policy"). The Geneva convention, a treaty ratified by Congress, turned to a scrap of paper by White House Lawyers. The Patriot Act. The theft of at least one Presidential election. The Cheney task force.

For Bush, nothing. No penalties, no consequence. Are our Democratic institutions so weak?

Look, some of you out there don't remember Watergate in real time. I do. It was a THING. The only thing I can think of recently that had the same impact on our daily conversation, our feeling of zeitgeist, is 9/11. All other political scandals are just ho hum exercises in misdemeanors, quickly forgotten by the public.

Folks, Watergate CHANGED EVERYTHING. It crystallized the anti-war movement, energized the left, and taught the Eisenhower-loving real conservatives from the '50s that the Government was not to be trusted.

Sadly, these are all double edged swords. The anti-government faux libertarians and anti-United Nations nuts, eventually culminating in "drown the government" kooks like Grover Norquist, were also energized by a chance to condemn "Big Government." The far right social conservatives, like the Vigurie/Scaife movement were also energized by what they viewed as the cultural excesses of the late '60s and early '70s.

And as Lambert points out, the public was innoculated. No longer were they "Shocked, shocked I say" by politicians committing "high crimes and misdemeanors." The new mantra was that they are all bad, they are all corrupt. And the worst extension of this idea, that both parties do it. Clearly both parties comprise corrupt members, but as I see it, the Right has the edge here.

After all, Clinton, while no saint, didn't commit a crime. Nixon, Reagan, Bush 41 & 43, well...

Incidently, I just heard Kissinger on Hard Balls say that:

Nixon was just being macho and rhetorical when he discussed ordering further break ins, and that Nixon wasn't anti-Semitic while discussing Felt with Haldeman, and that, in fact, Nixon wasn't anti-Semitic because he had a lot of Jews in his Cabinet.

Crap. Steaming crap. Hank, been to Europe lately? Just wondering, 'cause, you know...

Update: corrected spelling and grammar