Filtered news 6/21

From the mind of Neocons Andrew Sullivan to this video of neocon godfather Norman Podhoretz casually explaining how 'bombing' Iran is the only sensible policy.

Then one of his readers wrote in this noting one of the points Podhoretz makes at about exactly 4:00 minutes in ...

About halfway in he's asked what the correct British response should have been to the kidnapping of their sailors. Podhoretz responds that "they should have threatened to bomb the Iranians to smithereens." This comment in itself is unremarkable. Pretty much par for the course for Podhoretz these days. It's what follows that's illuminating.

He follows up his original comment with the caveat, "Whether they would have had to carry out threat, I doubt. Maybe they would have." He accompanies this last sentence with the most minimal of shrugs. And the shrug tells you everything you need to know about the current state of neo-conservativism.

The shrug, an incredibly casual gesture, suggests that in the end, such indelicacies as bombing a country "to smithereens," don't really matter. What is important is that the United States' will is enforced throughout the world. By any means necessary. The shrug suggests that posturing and diplomacy and military strikes are all (morally neutral) aspects of United States' foreign policy. And, finally, the ultimate neoconservative falsehood, the shrug suggests that the democracy of the sword is just as effective and lasting and precious as the democracy of the popular will and the ballot box.

Gets to the heart of the whole thing.

C'mon, guess. How many of the 1,000 employees in the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad speak Arabic fluently?

In Iowa, Two-Chin Tommy Says: If elected president, Thompson told the group it is important to reach across the aisle to Democrats. In his 14 years as Wisconsin's governor, Thompson said he did exactly that with a Democratic majority controlling the state's Legislature. "You need a bi-partisan approach to international relations," said Thompson, adding he would be very involved in foreign relations. "You have to if you want to get anything done." (As one who lived through those ugly years, all I can say is: Bwahahahahahaha! --Russ)

Take your pick According to Gallup, Clinton, Edwards, and Obama all the top Republican presidential contenders.

The Civil War (our's, not their's) ain't over John Edwards thinks he has an advantage over Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama because he's from the South and can therefore win votes from all over the country.

Part of this is that, to be frank, while people in Rhode Island or Oregon don't look on presidential candidates who come from regions other than their own with suspicion, lots of southerners seem to be reluctant to vote for people who don't share their drawl. Of course, this is never characterized as pathological regional xenophobia — it's just how regular folks think, and there's not supposed to be anything wrong with it.....Southerners are always taking offense at people who supposedly look down on them, but to someone who was raised in the Northeast, the idea that southerners are inherently more "real," and more American, than the rest of us is deeply insulting.

Amen to that. I can't begin to tell you how tired I am of the South's victim complex. Five of our last seven presidents have been from the South and the other two have been from the Southwest — and the reason, as near as I can tell, is that most Southerners just flatly refuse to vote for anyone who comes from north of the Mason-Dixon Line. And yet, somehow, it's the rest of us who are supposedly intolerant of Southern culture. Feh.

Walking the Baghdad beat. The Iraqi police force is doing great these days...if by "great" you mean :

Speaking before a House subcommittee, [Lt. General Martin] Dempsey said some 32,000 Iraqi police had been lost from the newly trained force of 188,000 in the 18 months before January. About 8,000 to 10,000 were believed killed in action and 6,000 to 8,000 wounded severely enough so they cannot serve, he said Tuesday. Another 5,000 "probably ... had deserted."

An Iraqi police captain was quick to add: "But don’t quote us on that until I send a squad car down to make sure they're not at Dunkin' Klechas."

Angels on the head of a pin update: Tommy Thompson says he'd make .

The other Thompson is nutty, too Maybe Rudy's campaign manager was selling some of that crack to Fred Thompson. Off the : "Tougher sanctions or a blockade on Iran could help foment growing internal dissent to topple the government, former U.S. Republican senator Fred Thompson, a potential presidential candidate, said on Tuesday."

What real journalism looks: like McClatchy news service. Formerly Knight-Ridder, these guys embody old-fashioned shoe leather journalism better than anyone in the "traditional media." And, to all our benefit, they've just launched a where you can see what "fair and balanced" really means. Bookmark it and give 'em lots of clicks. Good behavior should be rewarded.

Your neocon media at work Remember "Slick Willy"? Well, the Associated Press would like to on his wife: "Slick Hillary."

Neocon media II Remember that about Rudy Giuliani getting kicked off the Iraq Study Group because he couldn't find the time in his busy schedule to attend their meetings? You could be excused if you don't, since apparently no one in our press corps considered either the news itself or Giuliani's laughable explanation for his absences to be worth commenting on.

A quick Nexis search shows that among the mainstream media, the New York Times wrote a short piece, and the Kansas City Star and Chicago Tribune carried brief blurbs. That's it. On TV, Olberman discussed it, but no one else.

I'm keenly aware that an awful lot of blog criticism of the mainstream media is basically just partisan sniping. But is this seriously not considered news? A guy who's running for president based on his reputation as a hero of 9/11 was given a seat on the highest profile group ever created to investigate a way forward in Iraq, but he decided it wasn't worth his time? He blew off James Baker and Lee Hamilton so that he could give speeches in South Korea and attend fundraisers for Ralph Reed in Atlanta? And the consensus reaction is a big yawn?

Yeesh. Somebody please tell me this is just a case of the Nexis record being incomplete. Please?

Tortured logic. Richard Cohen loooves Scooter Libby, and penned an op-ed yesterday that sounds more like a junior high schooler's hastily-written letter to the principal for . Oh, why not...come, let's wallow in Cohen's muck:

  1. Outing a covert CIA officer working to keep WMDs out of the evildoers' paws was, according to Cohen, a "run-of-the-mill leak," not a hit job by the vice president on that officer's husband, a reputable former ambassador (Joe Wilson) for exposing one of the many lies used to drag this country into war. And World War II was just a spat between neighbors over a borrowed lawnmower.
  1. According to Cohen, Scooter Libby was just a prankster "practicing the dark art of politics. As with sex or real estate, it is often best to keep the lights off." That's right, look the other way---it's just politics. I mean, really, when have politicians ever done anything illegal behind closed doors?
  1. Cohen states that Scooter Libby is just "a previously obscure government official," as if anonymity warrants a Get Out Of Jail Free card or leniency...or something. Fact is, Libby was the chief of staff to the most powerful man in the world. Just because they kept him in the shadows means nothing.
  1. Prosecutions are scary and make Baby Scooter cry, says Cohen, because the big bad government is "a power so immense and sometimes so secretive that it poses much more of a threat to civil liberties, including freedom of the press, than anything in the interstices of the scary Patriot Act." So suspending habeas corpus and spying on American citizens without a warrant---both of which Libby no doubt wholeheartedly endorses---are minor annoyances compared to those scaaaaary public trials. And discovering that our current administration tried to turn the Judicial branch of government into a farm club for the Republic party is---let me guess---the "dark art of politics"? Ding Ding Ding!!!
  1. And what would a Scooter defense be without this old chestnut: "But the underlying crime is absent..." Ah yes, the underlying crime is absent. But if there was no crime, and everybody involved was as pure as January snow in Northern Maine, why did Scooter lie over and over? Oh yeah, he didn’t lie, he just "forgot." Man, those 12 jurors sure got snookered, huh.
  1. Towards the end of his rant, Cohen, having reached the end of his rope, declares: "This is a mess." No, it's actually very clean. Perhaps it's just a "mess" in Mr. Cohen's mind because one of his beltway buddies is going to the slammer lightly-guarded tennis resort. Cheer up, Richard, I'm sure they'll allow conjugal visits.

Bonus observation: You have to marvel at how Cohen fails to note that Libby was a Republican official nailed by a Republican-appointed prosecutor and sentenced by a Republican-appointed judge. I'm sure he wanted to mention it, but he was running late for his unicorn-riding lessons. P.S. I wonder how Mrs. Cohen felt when she read her husband's remark that sex is best with the lights off. Five will get ya ten her hubby's front-door key didn’t fit in the lock when he came home last night.

Is this how it works? The latest front in the voter fraud battle is North Carolina, where the Republican state auditor, following on the heels of the Justice Department, about possible fraud just as Democrats were bringing a bill to expand voter registration up for a vote.

Fair elections. Now, please. Right now, the Senate Rules Committee is holding a hearing on , a bipartisan bill to create a voluntary public financing option for Senate campaigns. (A parallel measure , and it has ">fifty sponsors already.) It has three parts:

  • Seed Money: Candidates can raise up to $100 per individual/PAC to get a campaign off the ground (up to a set limit), in an effort to finance their bid to ...
  • Gather Qualifying Contributions: To qualify for public financing, Senate candidate needs to demonstrate her seriousness and base of support by obtaining a set number of $5 contributions (and no more than $5) from citizens across the state. Obtain enough (based on the size of your state), and you receive ...
  • The Benefits: For agreeing not to accept private funding, a candidate instead receives a large sum of money to run her primary campaign, and if she is successful, a larger sum for the general as well. That sum is based on the size of the state and its media costs, and if the candidate is facing an opponent receing private money or support via independent expenditures, it can be as much as tripled (the "fair fight fund") to ensure a level playing field.

Among those testifying in support of the bill today are co-sponsor Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Arlen Specter (R-PA), former Stride-Rite CEO Arnold Hiatt (who's tired of having to be a big donor in the system) and Public Campaign's Nick Nyhart, :

Fortunately there is a common sense answer that will refocus elections on voters and volunteers instead of campaign cash and political bundlers. The Fair Elections Now Act (FENA) puts everyone in our country on an equal footing and provides candidates for Congress a way to run without joining in the campaign money chase.

FENA draws upon model laws in Maine and Arizona that have been in place for a number of political cycles and provide an alternative to the pay to play system. Under FENA, Senatorial candidates would qualify for public funding by collecting a set number of small contributions based on the size of their state's population. In California, for example, you'd need close to 30,000 five dollar contributions to qualify for the funding. Once qualified, these candidates would receive funds sufficient to run a competitive campaign while agreeing to strict spending limits and forgoing all private contributions. In California, candidates for U.S. Senate would get a baseline amount of about $20 million. If their opponent uses public financing they get they same amount and you have a financially level playing field. If the fair elections candidate has an opponent who raises more than the $20 million in private donations they receive additional "fair fight" funds to keep a level playing field. They also can receive additional matching funds if attacked by outside expenditures....

The cost of FENA is relatively small-less than one thirtieth of one percent of the federal budget. In fact, there were more than $64 billion in earmarks in 2006 while Fair Elections would cost us less than one billion dollars. ...

More than 110 Representatives and Senators have publicly stated their support for this kind of system, a near tripling of support levels from a year ago. Outside Congress, it's not just the good government and reform-oriented groups, like Americans For Campaign Reform, the Brennan Center for Justice. Common Cause, Democracy Matters, Democracy 21, Public Citizen, and USPIRG, that have taken up the cause of the Fair Elections Now Act. At the bill's introduction, some of the most established and respected organizations in our country, representing tens of millions of Americans also supported this measure, including the NAACP, the Sierra Club, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and the League of Women Voters. And there are business leaders on board as well; people like former Seagrams CEO Edgar Bronfman, Costco's President & CEO Jim Sinegal, New Yorker Alan Patricof, often referred to as the "father" of venture capitalism, former Stride Rite CEO Arnold Hiatt, and former Nixon administration official and founder of the Blackstone Group, Pete Peterson.

It is possible to change politics for the better. And we must do to it together. Working alongside each other we can leave behind the unsustainable money chase and its negative side effects. Together, we can create a new system based on the widely shared American values of fair competition, equal opportunity and inclusive participation. It is an idea whose time has come.

In addition to Durbin and Specter, the bill presently has eight additional co-sponsors: Boxer (CA), Cardin (MD), Carper (DE), Feingold (WI), Harkin (IA), Kennedy (MA), McCaskill (MO), Obama (IL). If your Senator isn't on the list, and ask them to sponsor this vital legislation.


June 21, 2007 - 11:03pm