Filtered news 8/17

In sum, I shall Kick Global Ass  Fred Kaplan offers a of Rudy's ridiculous Foreign Affairs article.

Stupid Dem of the Day: Gov. Jim Doyle (D-Wi) The NYT carried a story on Lakes Superior, Huron, and Michigan approaching record low levels. That is not news to those visiting or living on the shores. Something is happening to our most precious resource.  Billions of gallons of Great Lakes water . Its the equivalent of a leak in a balloon. What are we doing about it? Not much. In fact Lake Michigan is not on the governor's radar screen. Ominous silence on the BP plan to dump more toxic waste into the lake in Indiana and no effort to pass the Great Lakes Compact. Untreated sewage still pours into Lake Michigan and Waukesha County wants to take Lake Michigan water despite the consequences.

  “People using CIA and FBI computers have in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia on topics including the Iraq war and the Guantanamo prison, according to a new tracing program.” It was not known whether changes were made by an official representative of an agency or company, a CIA spokesman said, but it was certain the change was made by someone with access to the organization’s network.  Also: Steve Benen notes Fox News has been editing Wikipedia entries too. And now that they’ve been caught,

Hey, when you cry wolf too often...    According to a CNN poll released today, said they suspect that the military assessment of the situation will try to make it sound better than it actually is. Forty-three percent said they do trust the report.

"Well aren't we glad to see him go?" -- HRC, on hearing Rove called her "a fatally flawed candidate." 

A chart that needs no comment

Ignorance Is Strength!  You know that Mitt Romney is a huge phony. What's more concrete and troubling is that he seems remarkably ignorant of anything beyond America's shores. His new kick is demanding an apology from Barack Obama for saying something that the President of Afghanistan, the Ambassador from Afghanistan, US Commanders on the ground in Afghanistan and even President Bush thinks is true.

Today's Must Read  A panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals at the Justice Department's pleas to throw warrantless-surveillance lawsuits out of court.

Enough to make you start tearing out your hair?     The Pentagon paid a small South Carolina parts supplier about $20.5 million over six years “for fraudulent shipping costs, including $998,798 for sending two 19-cent washers to an Army base in Texas. The company also billed and was costing $1.31 each to Marines in Habbaniyah, Iraq.” 

   The “number of coalition military deaths in the war in Iraq has reached 4,000,” with the majority of the fatalities — 3,702 — suffered by U.S. soldiers. this month.  

How we are being used in Iraq  After the Sunni parties withdrew from the Iraqi government earlier this month, President Jalal Talabani called an emergency political summit that was widely viewed as the last chance to maintain even a semblance of political comity between Shiites and Sunnis.

Al-Arabiya is reporting that the emergency political summit of Iraq's leaders has failed to produce even nominal political reconciliation. This is a devastating outcome for the Maliki government and for those Americans who hoped to have some political progress to show in the upcoming Crocker/Petraeus report. There's no other way to spin this: this summit was billed as the last chance, and it has failed.....I thought there was at least a chance that they would cobble something together out of desperation and find ways to lure the Sunni parties back in....They did not. Instead, Talabani announced the formation of a new four party coalition in support of the current government without any Sunni representation. What's left is a government stripped to its sectarian base — the two Kurdish parties and the two major Shia parties — and a world of political hurt.

Italics mine. On a related subject, on the Shia takeover of the Iraqi army. It's not exactly news or anything, just further confirmation of the obvious: the eventual fate of Iraq (outside the Kurdish north) is the establishment of a Shia theocracy closely aligned with Iran. As far as I can tell, no one has even a colorable argument that things are moving in any other direction, and equally, no colorable argument that there's anything we can do to stop it. Maliki is using the U.S. military brass as useful idiots to fight his battles for him, and George Bush is his Useful Idiot in Chief.

And don't forget: every single major Republican candidate for president wants to continue our useful idiot role. They're practically duelling each other to see who can be the most fatuously naive about foreign policy. Quite a spectacle, no?

"Rudy wants to brag about his foreign policy vision which can be best described as "George Bush without the thinking." -- John Edwards' spokesman Eric Schultz, 

  Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen who had been arrested in 2002 as an enemy combatant, in a Miami court on all charges of supporting terrorism. The Washington Post wrote that the administration’s detention of him had been “.” The Bush administration had claimed that Padilla, who was held in a military brig for more than 3 years, could be detained indefinitely and without access to a lawyer. Ultimately, the federal courts to provide Padilla access to the courts. The verdict today affirms the merits of a judicial system that provides both due process and due punishment. Padilla’s attorneys are expected to .

Neocon media at play   In a battle of breaking stories, CNN chooses Jenna Bush’s engagement over the Jose Padilla conviction.

One of the last real journalists?  Reporters were forbidden from asking questions during Karl Rove’s farewell press conference on the White House lawn with President Bush on Monday. But CBS correspondent Bill Plante ignored the embargo, shouting “  For having the gall to disrupt the White House’s scripted moment, Plante’s off-the-cuff query became for right-wing criticism and abuse.  Newsbusters called it “. Powerline called his “.” According to Plante, there was personally directed at him:

Judging by some of the reaction, you’d think I had been shouting obscenities in church!

“Unprofessional;” “Inappropriate;” “Unbecoming;” “Doesn’t show much class;” “you are a total idiot;” “Shill for the liberal Democrats.

Plante commented on his now-famous question in with CBS’ Public Eye today. Plante said that “asking questions should not be dependent on what the White House thinks the mood or the tone of an event should be”:

Anytime you challenge or appear to challenge the president — and I don’t care if the president is a Republican or a Democrat — there are people who will take issue with it and tell you it’s inappropriate. And you kind of expect that. I knew that was I did on Monday was smart-assed, but I think that that’s beside the point.

Our asking questions should not be dependent on what the White House thinks the mood or the tone of an event should be. And the fact that they say ‘no questions’ or don’t allow time for questions really has nothing to do with it. They don’t have to answer, but I think we need to preserve and aggressively push our right to ask.

Plante is right. The problem with the traditional media today isn’t that reporters have neglected to show proper decency towards the White House, but rather that they’ve shown much too much deference.

Stubby little legs?  Garance Franke-Ruta, reporting from deep in the wilds of heartland Republicanism, is trying to figure out why so many GOPers are going gaga over Fred Thompson. So she asked a "leading figure in the Iowa Republican Party," who told her it's because Fred is a celebrity, Fred is a real conservative, and Fred weighs more than Hillary Clinton.

"Can you imagine what debates are going to be like with great big Andrew Jackson-looking Fred and Hillary on her stubby little legs, stamping her feet?" Thompson, if elected, would be the tallest president ever. Republicans are not just looking for the usual John Wayne-type signifiers as they go about selecting a candidate, but thinking about who can best loom over Hillary Clinton and make her look like a shrill, small, silly little woman. Thompson's booming voice will make her "sound like Madame Defarge."

If there's any reason to support Hillary Clinton in the primaries, this is it. Contrary to this guy's delusions, Clinton would eviscerate Fred Thompson in a debate, and maybe, just maybe, this would drive the GOP's core jockocracy into such shrill unholy madness that the entire party would self-destruct in a stupendous display of mass hysteria. It's worth a try, anyway.

No Religio-wacko video games for troops   Pentagon cancels plans to send 'kill or convert' game to soldiers Excerpt:  Plans by a Christian group to send an evangelical video game to U.S. troops in Iraq were abruptly halted yesterday by the Department of Defense after ABC News inquired about the program. So, they were going to do it until they got caught -- is that how Jesus did things?  The game has inspired controversy among freedom of religion advocates since it was released last year. “It’s a horrible game,” said the Rev. Timothy Simpson of the CAP.  “You either kill or covert  the other side. This is exactly what the Osama bin Ladens of the world have portrayed us.”

Big Brother in the sky  Julian Sanchez that advances in satellite technology may have rendered our conventional privacy laws obsolete:

The courts have, to date, not regarded aerial observation by planes as a "search" for Fourth Amendment purposes, under the . The sensible intuition here is that you have no protected privacy interest in what can be observed without entering your property: If you're foolish enough to put your marijuana crop in front of an open window—or in a field that can be spotted by someone flying overhead—you can't complain if the police notice it. But the analogy to casual observation begins to seem awfully strained when we consider the potential of satellite imaging to create a perpetual record of whole regions of the country, allowing anyone's comings and goings to be tracked. This may, then, present a problem of what : Constitutional rules create a balance between conflicting interests—citizens' need for privacy and law enforcement's need to gather information—but as technology changes, the application of the same rule may produce a very different balance of interests. The question, then, is how, whether, and when fidelity to the Constitution may mean discarding the original rule in order to preserve the original balance.

Of course, another solution here would be for congress to recognize there's a problem and pass a sensible law governing the use of satellite imagery. Sadly, though, we've seen a few times that there seems to be majority support in congress for the view that 9/11 made civil liberties obsolete.

 People Disagree About Stuff   And it's the job of politicians to try to get their desired policy outcome enacted. This reflexive tic of journalists to deride all disagreement as

MINNEAPOLIS, Aug. 15 — It took all of two weeks for the political unity brought on by a deadly bridge collapse here to fall apart. Even as divers continued searching the Mississippi River on Wednesday for four people missing since the busy Interstate 35W bridge fell on Aug. 1, political leaders were dueling over plans for a replacement span.  The battle lines extended from disputed plans for light rail to suggestions that Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, was unnecessarily rushing reconstruction to impress Republican Party leaders, who will hold their presidential convention in the Twin Cities in September 2008. Mr. Pawlenty says such talk is nonsense.

There appears to be genuine disagreement about how to rebuild the bridge. That disagreement has to be resolved somehow. One way to resolve it would be for everyone to drop the David Broder special acid, at which point their third eye would open up and they'd magically have access to the "bipartisan unity consensus" that God demands. Another way is to just defer to the governor, no matter how bad his plan is. A third way is to hash out some compromise behind closed doors without any public disagreement... or public scrutiny or input. Or, fourth, they can do their damn jobs and fight it out.  is fine with me. I don't know why it troubles journalists so.

Buddhist teacher releases anti-Bush, anti-war songs We've just released a CD of her music titled Revolution of Compassion. It includes a fierce anti-Bush track called "Step Down." You can hear it at , on which we've also just added a new, unreleased track about the Iraq War called "Ain't We Deep."

Black enough For about two centuries it was widely understood that being black at all was a disqualifying qualification for being elected president. So why don't more people see at as more than vaguely nauseating that the first black candidate for president with a realistic chance of getting the job is continually asked if he's black enough?

Follow the rules; save lives  At Huffington Post, Arianna and her crew have been of the Utah mine story. And it really deserves a lot more attention. We've seen a series of these mine tragedies in recent years. And pretty much every time it ends up being a mine -- not surprisingly -- with a terrible record of safety violations.

Again, that's not exactly a shocking correlation. But it does throw into sharper relief the essential fact that these are not random lightning bolts of tragedy visited on small towns in middle America. These are guys who got killed because they worked for companies that routinely broke the rules put in pace to keep their employees alive.

And there's more. It turns out that the guy in charge of mine safety for the federal government, Assistant Secretary of Labor Richard Stickler, back when it was under Republican control because his own record on safety issues was so questionable. President Bush had to put him in with a recess appointment.

Perhaps it's not time to assign fault while active rescue operations are underway. But once that's over, maybe it would be worth the networks taking a tenth of the time they use milking ratings from these mine sagas and cast a little light on how a lot of this is preventable if the mine owners would stop breaking the rules and the federal government stopped looking the other way.

Deal?

Matthews, Duffy talk nonsense on Dems, religion   Sometimes, I just have to shake my head at how dumb shows like Hardball are. Somehow, these programs manage to give viewers less news and information than if folks just watched a blank screen. , for example, is just mindless, ignorant drivel, offered by media figures who presumably know better. Here’s MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and Time magazine assistant managing editor Michael Duffy:

MATTHEWS: Joe Biden…said the other day, yesterday, that the people like Al Gore and John Kerry, the last two Democratic candidates for president, said — created an image that they were somehow — we’re looking at it right now — that if they were — as he put it, when they’re sitting next to the pew, that maybe he really doesn’t respect your view. In other words, they’re not really religious people. They don’t share your evangelical views and your deeply religious views. They’re too secular.

DUFFY: Yeah. Well, I think, for the last 25 years, Democrats have done everything they can to alienate religious voters, faith-minded voters, and the –

MATTHEWS: Not a smart move politically.

DUFFY: Oh, no. And it seemed to be part of the program. They did it to woo a secular left that they thought didn’t want to have anything to do with that.

Duffy said it started “with Jimmy Carter…making fun of Jerry Falwell.” Matthews added that Democrats have been “making fun of the people in the churches, in the tents, in the megachurches.” He added, “Elitism doesn’t really work in politics, does it?”

This is political analysis at most ridiculous. I’m practically embarrassed for Matthews and Duffy, because, as professional media personalities, they should feel some shame for having uttered such nonsense for a national television audience.

Let’s unpack their ignorance a bit.

First, Matthews can’t just blame Biden, who was talking about a public perception, not a reality. The perception is reinforced by pathetic “journalism” like that found on Hardball.

Second, the idea that Gore was anti-religion is absurd. This, of course, was the same church-going candidate who frequently reminded audiences in 2000 that he liked to ask himself, “What would Jesus do?” On the day Gore introduced Joe Lieberman as his running mate, the two led a large public audience in prayer. Gore spent the bulk of the campaign in 2000 infusing his speeches with religious talk, scriptural references, and spirituality — to the great annoyance of the secular left.

Third is the notion that Kerry was also an anti-religion candidate. I don’t expect Matthews and Duffy to remember this — it was three whole years ago — but I’d remind folks of these comments Kerry made during a debate with Bush: “I grew up a Catholic. I was an altar boy. I know that throughout my life this has made a difference to me. And as President Kennedy said when he ran for president, he said, ‘I’m not running to be a Catholic president. I’m running to be a president who happens to be Catholic.’ My faith affects everything that I do, in truth. There’s a great passage of the Bible that says, ‘What does it mean, my brother, to say you have faith if there are no deeds? Faith without works is dead.’ And I think that everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith, affected by your faith, but without transferring it in any official way to other people.” A message aimed at fans of Richard Dawkins? I kind of doubt it.

Fourth, Duffy said the Democratic Party has spent the last quarter-century doing “everything they can to alienate religious voters.” Really? Name one example. Just one. Given that it’s been 25 years of constant effort, there should be hundreds of examples, but I’d like Duffy to name a single one. If he can’t, he ought to apologize for making such a ridiculous and baseless claim.

Fifth, these media personalities believe Jimmy Carter — a devout, evangelical Democrat — made fun of Jerry Falwell. And that’s proof of … what, exactly? Everyone made fun of Falwell. He was a clown who said ridiculous things on a very regular basis. Barry Goldwater used to make fun of Falwell all the time. By Duffy’s bizarre logic, that suggests Republicans are hostile towards religious people.

And sixth, Matthews had the gall to argue that Democrats have been “making fun of the people in the churches.” I’d offer the same challenge to him as I did Duffy: name once. Name a single instance in which a Democratic lawmaker or major-office candidate mocked a churchgoer for his or her beliefs. If he can’t, he ought to apologize for making such a ridiculous and baseless claim.

Honestly, what is wrong with these people? Are most secularists Democrats? Yes. Do Democrats honor the separation of church and state more than the GOP? Absolutely. Does that mean Dems have spent the last 25 years mocking the faithful and denigrating religion? Only if you have no idea what you’re talking about.

There’s a mistaken public perception about the party and faith communities. Instead of informing people about the truth, and actually using their positions as “journalists” to cut through the nonsense, Matthews and Duffy perpetuate the myth, buy into the caricature they helped create, and in the process, mislead their audience.

It’s just so tiresome.

Rats jumping ship  After the recent resignation of Karl Rove, media outlets speculated on what the rest of President Bush’s term will look like without “the Architect.” The President is “” reported the AP. In response, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow shot back: “As the president has said many times, .”  But even Tony Snow doesn’t want to be around for that sprint. In an interview with the conservative Hugh Hewitt show, Snow signaled that he . He also mentioned that there are “probably a couple” of other high-level resignations “coming up in the next month or so.”

HEWITT: Are there any other resignations upcoming, Tony Snow?

SNOW: I think that probably…as Josh said the other day, he thinks there are probably a couple coming up in the next month or so. […]

HEWITT: Your intention to go the distance, Tony Snow?

SNOW: No, I’m not going to be…I’ve already made it clear I’m not going to be able to go the distance, but that’s primarily for financial reasons. I’ve told people when my money runs out, then I’ve got to go.

Snow’s upcoming departure makes him one of a bevy of top administration officials who, since November, have left their posts. ThinkProgress has compiled a list of some of the key resignations:

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With so many key staff departures, the AP reports that “Bush has decided he might get more done in his final months by ,” making increased use of executive orders and veto power.

   When NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies recently announced that it was revising its temperature data, at the news to its global warming denial campaign. James Hansen — head of the NASA center — . He writes that the “corrected and uncorrected curves are indistinguishable,” adding that the “deceit” propagated by the right “has a clear purpose: to confuse the public about the status of knowledge of global climate change.”

   Yesterday, a federal appeals court “” towards the Bush administration’s argument that legal challenges to the NSA’s surveillance programs should be dismissed on “state secrets” and national security grounds, with one judge saying the government’s argument was tantamount to “.”

“The bottom line” of the administration’s argument “is the government declares something is a state secret, that’s the end of it. No cases,” said Judge Judge Harry Pregerson. “The king can do no wrong.”

The two cases argued yesterday — the first to reach the court out of 50 consolidated before the 9th Circuit court — concern :

1) A program where AT&T allegedly provides “the NSA its customers’ phone and Internet communications for a vast data-mining operation,” in a program that “the government has not acknowledged,” but plaintiff’s lawyers call a “content dragnet.”

2) A program disclosed by The New York Times in December 2005, which the administration calls the Terrorist Surveillance Program,” where the NSA bypasses “court warrants in monitoring international communications involving people in the United States.”

Federal lawyers argued that “almost in court,” but that the judges must give executive branch claims of state secrets the “.”

The three judges on the court were unsatisfied with the argument, offering various stinging comments and rebuttals:

- “Is it the government’s position that when our country is engaged in a war that the power of the executive when it comes to wiretapping is unchecked? Pregerson.

- “This seems to put us in the ‘trust us’ category. ‘We don’t do it. Trust us. And don’t ask us about it,’Judge M. Margaret McKeown.

- “Every ampersand, every comma is top-secret?” Judge Michael Daly Hawkins about a withheld document.

- “”Are you saying the courts are to rubber-stamp the determination of the executive of what’s a state secret? What’s our job?” Pregerson.

- “I feel like I’m in Alice and Wonderland,” McKeown.

When Deputy Solicitor General Greg Garre argued that “other avenues” than the court system were the proper forum for complaints about government surveillance, Pregerson shot back: “”  Wired liveblogged the hearing .

Published

August 17, 2007 - 9:39am

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