Filtered news 8/8

How stupid is corporate media?  were never said:

Conservatives tend to say the media is liberal, but Olbermann heads the only lefty show on broadcast or cable news. (Olbermann once described himself not as a liberal, but as an American.)  "I'm surprised that nobody has tried to come in and snake my turf," he says, especially since "Countdown" earns "a good deal of money."

This is the bottom-line idiocy of the corporate media. They keep ratings-starved conservative shows like Glenn Beck and Tucker Carlson on the air, while the fastest growing show on all of cable news-land is still the only liberal show on the schedule.

For an industry that thrives on ripping off each other's successes, this is curious indeed.

Today's must read In the wake of the FISA bill, Democrats ask: Was intelligence chief Mike McConnell bamboozled by the Bush administration? Or is he a ?

How appropritate  Ben Stevens update alert. We thought Ben Stevens, disgraced son of semi-disgraced (R-AK) had signed on with a fishing boat to make a buck in his post influence-peddling career. Now it seems aboard a Shell oil exploratory vessel.

Barack Obama recently chatted with TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and had for the religious right.

For my friends on the right, I think it would be helpful to remember the critical role that the separation of church and state has played in preserving not only our democracy but also our religious practice. Folks tend to forget that during our founding, it wasn’t the atheists or the civil libertarians who were the most effective champions of the First Amendment…. It was the forbearers of Evangelicals who were the most adamant about not mingling government with religious, because they didn’t want state-sponsored religion hindering their ability to practice their faith as they understood it.

Whatever we once were, we’re no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of non-believers. We should acknowledge this and realize that when we’re formulating policies from the state house to the Senate floor to the White House, we’ve got to work to translate our reasoning into values that are accessible to every one of our citizens, not just members of our own faith community.

Good stuff. I’ve long believed Democratic leaders have done too little to emphasize their First Amendment, and Obama’s comments to CBN helped frame the issue in a helpful way — everyone should support the separation of church and state, especially the devout.  Of course, TV preacher Pat Robertson, who still controls CBN, .

Uglier and uglier  Earlier this month we brought you the on-going story of Scott Thomas Beauchamp, a US Army private who a series of 'Baghdad Diaries' in the New Republic under the name Scott Thomas.

Thomas told a dark story US soldiers in Iraq acting in various dishonorable and sadistic ways.

This brought forth a storm of charges from the right-wing blogs and the Weekly Standard claiming that the diaries were fabrications. Then TNR did its own reinvestigation of the diaries and found that with the exception of one error, the stories checked out.

Post media critic Howard Kurtz has been writing about these criticisms in his column. And tomorrow he that now the US Army has determined that Beauchamp's claims were "found to be false."

Kurtz got a few more statements from an unnamed "military official" who would not go on the record "because the probe is confidential." And he was told that the investigation into the truth of Beauchamp's article will not be released. The unnamed official further explained that the Army will not prosecute Beauchamp but rather deal with the matter administratively "by having his cellphone and laptop confiscated."

For reasons I'm not entirely clear on, the statement announcing the investigation and its verdict appears not to have been a public release but rather a statement released uniquely to the Weekly Standard. That's how the Kurtz article reads and some quick reporting on my part suggests this is in fact the case.

And it gets better.

The Weekly Standard, which has been leading the charge against Beauchamp, another unnamed military official told the magazine that not only had the Army found Beauchamp's written accounts to be false but that Beauchamp himself has now signed a recantation of all his claims. So case closed; he fessed up. Yet when TNR contacted the Army public affairs a Maj. Steve Lamb told them: "I have no knowledge of that."

So what's up here?

Beauchamp makes his charges. The US Army allegedly investigates and finds the highly embarrassing charges to be false. But no information will be released about which of his charges were false, how they were false or how they were determined to be false.

They then punish Beauchamp by preventing him from having any communication with the civilian world. And if that's not enough, an unnamed military source tells the Standard that Beauchamp has undergone a successful self-criticism session and has recanted everything. But an Army spokesman tells TNR that he's not aware of any confession or recantation.

We can at least be thankful that the matter is being handled with such transparency.

Maybe Beauchamp was always a teller of tales. He wouldn't be the first nor even the first to have wormed his way into the pages of The New Republic. But it's hard not to have some suspicion that the Army has put itself in charge of investigating charges which, if true, would be deeply embarrassing to the Army; that it has provided itself a full exoneration through an investigation, the details of which it will not divulge; and it has chosen to use as its exclusive conduit for disseminating information about the case, The Weekly Standard, a publication which can at best be described as a charged partisan in the public controversy about the case.

This hardly inspires much confidence.

Sign me up “The Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, a coalition that includes MoveOn, is mounting a multimillion-dollar campaign aimed at 23 senators and 70 representatives to chip away at support for Bush’s war strategy. The includes nearly 100 organizers in 15 states.”

Silly polls.  We're including this item so we can refer back to its silliness in the future.  New USA Today/Gallup poll has .  But since primaries happen state-by-state, a national poll is worth about as much as a dried loogey on a hot sidewalk.  In a related story, my spellchecker just flagged "loogey."  What a dumbass.

Dems slug it out The most heated moments from tonight’s AFL-CIO forum came when the topic turned to Senator Barack Obama and his claim for the last debate that he would invade Pakistan to fight terrorism, even without permission from President Pervez Musharraf. Senator Chris Dodd was asked about his critical response to Obama’s statements and reiterates his criticism and things get going from there. Obama stands his ground and jabs Dodd and Clinton for voting for the invasion of Iraq, then turning around and attacking him “for making sure we are on the right battlefield, and not the wrong battlefield in the war against terrorism,” which drew huge applause from the audience.    (1090) |  (1255)   (506) |  (911)  Senator Clinton once again attacked Obama on this issue which didn’t go over well with the crowd…

Better late than never?  Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) has been a favorite of the Grover Norquist crowd for quite a while, in part because of his fealty to the far-right agenda on taxes and spending. But once in a while, of conservative talking points.

In the past two years, Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota twice vetoed legislation to raise the state’s gas tax to pay for transportation needs.

Now, with at least five people dead in the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge here, Mr. Pawlenty, a Republican, appears to have had a change of heart.

“He’s open to that,” Brian McClung, a spokesman for the governor, said Monday of a higher gas tax. “He believes we need to do everything we can to address this situation and the extraordinary costs.”

NY's Big Brother tactics about to come to light : (reg. req’d.)

A federal judge yesterday rejected New York City’s efforts to prevent the release of nearly 2,000 pages of raw intelligence reports and other documents detailing the Police Department’s covert surveillance of protest groups and individual activists before the Republican National Convention in 2004.

In a 20-page ruling, Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV ordered the disclosure of hundreds of field intelligence reports by undercover investigators who infiltrated and compiled dossiers on protest groups in a huge operation that the police said was needed to head off violence and disruptions at the convention.

But at the behest of the city and with the concurrence of civil liberties lawyers representing plaintiffs swept up in mass arrests during the convention, the judge agreed to the deletion of sensitive information in the documents to protect the identities of undercover officers and confidential informants and to safeguard police investigative methods and the privacy of individuals caught up in investigations.

The city had largely based its bid for nondisclosure on the need to protect those identities and methods, and argued that the public might misinterpret the documents or the news media sensationalize them. But the civil liberties lawyers insisted that the documents - even without the sensitive materials - were needed to show in court that the police had overstepped legal boundaries in arresting, detaining and fingerprinting hundreds of people instead of handing out summonses for minor offenses. 

If this man’s genuine passion and anguish doesn’t move you, you’re not human. Steve Skvara, a disabled, retired steel worker from Indiana tells the story of how he lost his family’s health insurance after the company he worked for, for 34 years closed two years after they forced him to retire. Skvara received a standing ovation, and rightfully so. He represents millions of hard working Americans who have lost their jobs and benefits and face the humiliation of not being able to provide for themselves or their families. Can you imagine a Republican fielding a question like this?    (1186) |  (1401)   (530) |  (873)  The question was directed toward John Edwards and his answer was passionate and on the money. Edwards vowed to stand up with the American people, calling for Universal health care for all.

Dubya love him some Dubya The AP writes that President Bush “” to see the type of American who still supports him: “a conservative, white, Republican man, an evangelical Christian who goes to church regularly.” Bush’s .

Gingrich: We're losing "phony" "war on terror"  Gingrich is from the officially sanctioned GOP playbook:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Thursday the Bush administration is waging a "phony war" on terrorism, warning that the country is losing ground against the kind of Islamic radicals who attacked the country on Sept. 11, 2001.

A more effective approach, said Gingrich, would begin with a national energy strategy aimed at weaning the country from its reliance on imported oil and some of the regimes that petro-dollars support.

"None of you should believe we are winning this war. There is no evidence that we are winning this war," the ex-Georgian told a group of about 300 students attending a conference for collegiate conservatives.

Newt went on to make the case for Democratic control next year:

"We were in charge for six years," he said, referring to the period between 2001 and early 2007, when the GOP controlled the White House and both houses of Congress. "I don't think you can look and say that was a great success."

And he continues to talk as if he wants to take on the pygmies currently running for the nomination of his party:

"I believe we need to find leaders who are prepared to tell the truth ... about the failures of the performance of Republicans ... failed bureaucracies ... about how dangerous the world is," he said when asked what kind of Republican he would back for president.

So to recap -- Gingrich says Republicans were horrible at governance, that we're losing the Iraq War, and that  Bush's "war on terror" formulation is, as Edwards has argued, a fabrication.

The tide is turning “Britain called Tuesday for the Bush administration to release five British residents held at Guantanamo Bay — a policy reversal that suggests new Prime Minister Gordon Brown is than his predecessor.” During his time as Prime Minister, Tony Blair rarely intervened in Guantanamo cases.

Neocon media at play Following the conclusion of tonight’s presidential forum, host Chris Matthews immediately began to focus on the pressing issues. He offered an array of trifling analysis that included musings about Sen. John Edwards’ height, Sen. Hillary Clinton’s use of the word “girl,” and Clinton’s Chicago accent. 

The trouble with facts  When I read this story about conditions after British troops handed practical control over to the locals, I thought it was yet-more ammunition for my quest to persuade whoever will listen that the US ought to end its tragic military engagement in Iraq. Somehow, though, I never got around to writing the post and it occurs to me that, of course, the article could be used to prove the precise reverse -- that we can't afford to leave lest we wind up with a country-sized Basra.

This sort of thing, ultimately, is why no conceivable September report will make any real difference to the Iraq debate. It's not that ideological blinders prevent people from seeing the facts, it's that the facts don't really determine anything. Signs of improving conditions can be a reason to stay or a reason to leave. Signs of deteriorating conditions can be a reason to leave or a reason to stay. Ultimately, the issue doesn't hinge on fine-grained appreciation of the facts, nearly so much as it hinges on broader questions of how you look at American interests in the region and whether or not the prospect of spending tens of billions of dollars a day for an indefinite period of time on maintaining a military presence in a foreign country against the will of the population is the kind of thing that makes you queasy.

Huh? There are people I

Cowardly Dems  Look how Democrats looked in the news!

The Senate bowed to White House pressure last night and passed a Republican plan for overhauling the federal government's terrorist surveillance laws, approving changes that would temporarily give U.S. spy agencies expanded power to eavesdrop on foreign suspects without a court order.

Can you feel the Democratic strength oozing from that paragraph! "Bowed the White House pressure" will sure teach Americans about how strong the Democratic Party is! Everyone will think, "wow, those guys bowing to pressure from a guy whose approval rating is in the toilet sure aren't weak or cowardly!"

So what happened? Greenwald got Sen. Dodd to a bit:

GG: There is this gap in FISA, which everyone, even Russ Feingold, says needs to be filled, which is that if there is a foreign-to-foreign conversation which happens to be routed through the U.S., it requires a warrant -- so why not just say "OK, we fixed this gap and here's our bill and if you veto it, and there's a terrorist attack, then it's your responsibility"?

CD: Hello? Sounds pretty reasonable to me. But part of what this comes down to is that too many people in public life are not secure enough in their own beliefs -- feel vulnerable to attacks by people who will attack you -- and feel unwilling or unable to respond to them with clarity and conviction. And if you lack that clarity and conviction, and if you haven't been through this in the past, then you're likely to be a little weaker in the legs.

Feingold has a :

Six years ago, in the aftermath of 9/11, Congress rammed through the USA PATRIOT Act with little consideration of what that bill actually contained. Five years ago, Congress authorized a reckless and ill-advised war in Iraq. One year ago, Congress passed the deeply flawed Military Commissions Act. And late last week, a Democratic Congress passed legislation that dramatically expands the government's ability to conduct warrantless wiretapping, which could affect innocent Americans. It is clear that many congressional Democrats have not learned from those earlier mistakes, two of which happened when Democrats controlled the Senate. Once again, Congress has buckled to pressure and intimidation by the administration [...]

The American people see through these tactics, and don't buy the president's attempts to use the threat of terrorism to get what he wants any more. Unfortunately, 16 Senate Democrats and an Independent, as well as 41 House Democrats were all too willing last week to let the president successfully employ this ruse yet again.

Yeah, it's all about fear. They're afraid of attack ads that will say nasty things about them, as if cowardly caving to the administration will somehow give them a free pass this coming election.

Nothing will give them a free pass. They'll be accused of coddling terrorists.

In 2002 and 2004, Democrats caved on Iraq and were still targeted on the issue. They lost. In 2006, Democrats got tough, demanding a change in administration policies. Republicans still attacked accused them of coddling terrorists. But it didn't matter, this time they won.

It's amazing that they have to re-learn this lesson again and again, but what can we do. Eventually, you figure the lesson will have to sink in.

While all of this was talked about last week and through the weekend, here's another reminder of those Democrats too cowardly to stand up to the unitary executive.

In the House:

Jason Altmire (4th Pennsylvania)
John Barrow (12th Georgia)
Melissa Bean  (8th Illinois)
Dan Boren  (2nd Oklahoma)
Leonard Boswell (3rd Iowa)
Allen Boyd  (2nd Florida)
Christopher Carney  (10th Pennsylvania)
Ben Chandler  (6th Kentucky)
Rep. Jim Cooper (5th Tennessee)
Jim Costa (20th California)
Bud Cramer (5th Alabama)
Henry Cuellar (28th Texas)
Artur Davis (7th Alabama)
Lincoln Davis  (4th Tennessee)
Joe Donnelly (2nd Indiana)
Chet Edwards (17th Texas)
Brad Ellsworth (8th Indiana)
Bob Etheridge (North Carolina)
Bart Gordon (6th Tennessee)
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (South Dakota)
Brian Higgins (27th New York)
Baron Hill (9th Indiana)
Nick Lampson (23rd Texas)
Daniel Lipinski (3rd Illinois)
Jim Marshall (8th Georgia)
Jim Matheson (2nd Utah)
Mike McIntyre (7th North Carolina)
Charlie Melancon (3rd Louisiana)
Harry Mitchell (5th Arizona)
Colin Peterson (7th Minnesota)
Earl Pomeroy (North Dakota)
Ciro Rodriguez (23rd Texas)
Mike Ross (4th Arkansas)
John Salazar (3rd Colorado)
Heath Shuler (11th North Carolina)
Vic Snyder (2nd Arkansas)
Zachary Space (18th Ohio)
John Tanner (8th Tennessee)
Gene Taylor (4th Mississippi)
Timothy Walz (1st Minnesota)
Charles A. Wilson (6th Ohio)

 

In the Senate:

Evan Bayh (Indiana)
Tom Carper (Delaware)
Bob Casey (Pennsylvania)
Kent Conrad (North Dakota)
Dianne Feinstein (California)
Daniel Inouye (Hawai‘i)
Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota)
Mary Landrieu (Louisiana)
Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas)
Claire McCaskill (Missouri)
Barbara Mikulski (Maryland)
Bill Nelson (Florida)
Ben Nelson (Nebraska)
Mark Pryor (Arkansas)
Ken Salazar (Colorado)
Jim Webb (Virginia)

 

For a bunch of people who want to strut around acting "tough", this crowd sure ran around like a whipped puppy once Big Bad Mr. 25% said "boo!" Scary!

Of course this is shameful and ridiculous, but it's also a helpful reminder that our efforts to transform our Democratic Party continue to be a long-term project.

Hillary vs Hitlery  Over at National Review, Kathryn Jean Lopez comments on

In response to more than a few answers tonight — on Iraq, on China — I've said, "she sounds reasonable." If I were a normal America, I think I'd really think that. That's really hard to admit.

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that I'm going to unleash some snark about Lopez not being normal. And sure, that's tempting. But not tonight.

Instead, I want to make a serious point: she's right. The audience for presidential debates is still small, but obviously it's growing as we get closer to the primaries. And a lot of people who have vague, media-fueled recollections of Hillary as a conniving, ball-busting uber liberal, are starting to watch these debates and realize that.....she seems pretty reasonable. Pretty normal. Not at all the Hitlery of wingnut fame. What was all that nonsense about, anyway?

Anyway, I've mentioned this before. Just thought I'd repeat myself. An awful lot of people are effectively seeing Hillary for the first time ever following a very long hiatus, and they're not likely to see any resemblance to the fever swamp creation of Rush Limbaugh ravings from the 90s. Her negatives are never going to be as low as, say, Obama's, but I betcha they go down five or ten points by the time this is all over.

That said, on the merits Hillary Clinton's notion that it's inappropriate to debate Pakistan policy in public doesn't really make sense to me. Just deciding that we can trust our overlords to do the right thing -- even if they're Democratic Party overlords -- hasn't worked out extremely well for us in the past. That's how we got into Iraq.

Published

August 8, 2007 - 6:09pm

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