Sunday, April 30, 2006
We Interrupt Our Usual Jaundiced Diatribes to Sing the Praises of the Lovely and Talented Mrs. Thersites2
Today we learned that she and her partner, Sebastien Rake of the U of O School of Architecture, have been named finalists in the extremely prestigious, international Berkeley Prize architectural design competition. There were over 200 submissions, and after two rounds of cuts Carol and Sebastien are the only Americans among the 8 finalists. The ultimate winners will be announced later in May, but the company they're in even at this stage is astounding -- and a humbling reminder that we Americans aren't the only ones on the planet with good educations and creative ideas:
[Apr-28-2006] The Finalists in the 2006 Berkeley Prize Essay Competition are announced. HERE ARE THE EIGHT FINALISTS FOR THE 2006 BERKELEY PRIZE.
Andrew Amara, of Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
Li Kang, of Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China
TEAM of: Soheil Karagah, Parisa Davachi, Ehsan Noorani, Parima Davachi, and Mohammad Afshar, of Islamic Azad University of Qazvin, Qazvin, Iran
Craig Miller, of the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Qurratulain Poonawala, of the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi, Pakistan
TEAM of: Sebastien Rake and Carol Bellows, of the University of Oregon, Eugene, United States
Ashween Ramhotar, of RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Petrina Yeap, of the National University of Singapore Singapore
So: Kampala, Glasgow, Karachi, Melbourne, Singapore; cities in China and Iran -- and Eugene, Oregon.
The Berkeley Prize website is here. Carol and Sebastien's essay, on the topic of children in cities, is the bottom post here.
I'm the luckiest guy on the planet, and I want the whole world to know about my wise and insightful life-partner. Wanna hear something really nuts? I mean, off-topic crazy? The political fights we engage in are, in the final analysis, just means to truly important ends, like healthy children, strong families, beautiful cities, good design, sustainable and accessible prosperity -- and love. Especially love; without it, the rest falls apart. It helps to stop from time to time and remember what we're really fighting for.
Feel free to tell me how lucky I am in the comments. Anyone who attempts to blather about how lucky she is to have me will be blacklisted for lacking discernment.
(And if you know of a good landscape architecture firm that's offering challenging internships this summer, or that might be interested in hiring a sharp, sophisticated, award-winning and -- a novelty -- adult landscape architect in about a year, please let me know!)
Images copr. 2006 Carol Maurey Bellows. BACK TO VICHYDEMS HOME
Oh, this is just deeply, deeply twisted. I'm blogging at this ungodly hour because I've got insomnia and now I'll NEVER get to sleep. Maybe if I pull the covers over my head. I thought just having Bush be President was bad enough; Bush as the first woman president is even worse. If this is sort of how some conservatives feel about Hillary then I'm beginning to understand them.
There are a couple more, of other pols, at Justaskjudy. I don't know whether she created them. I just know they trouble me and if I were a caring, gentle blogger I wouldn't inflict them on you.
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NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- With his ruddy tan and dark gray suit, Ned Lamont is an antiwar liberal with a twist. Rather than targeting a Republican, the millionaire Greenwich businessman is challenging a fellow Democrat, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, one of President Bush's strongest supporters on the war in Iraq.
When Lamont announced his primary challenge in mid-March, he was viewed as the longest of long shots, a quixotic blueblood who was scratching a political itch. While many Connecticut Democrats had soured on Lieberman over his war stance, a poll showed that voters backed the three-term senator over Lamont by 5 to 1.
But in the space of six weeks, the newcomer has come on strong. Lamont raised $344,111 from 4,337 online donors and added $371,500 of his own money. He hired a staff of seasoned professionals and signed up several thousand volunteers. The 52-year-old cable television entrepreneur is blitzing the state, hitting as many as three events per evening.
Now, Lamont has turned the Democratic primary into a horse race, giving Lieberman his first real test since he joined the Senate 18 years ago, according to Democratic operatives and analysts in Connecticut. Party leaders were so rattled by the challenge that Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) called Lamont asking him to back off. "Some of the party brass said, 'Ned, don't jeopardize a safe seat,' " Lamont recently told students at Southern Connecticut State University, who gathered for a meet-and-greet session. "But you're not going to lose a senator. You're going to gain a Democrat."
The race is one of the few in the country in which a well-established incumbent is being threatened by a challenger from his own party. It suggests that no member of the House or Senate can take reelection for granted, given the voter disenchantment with Iraq and a Congress weakened by a corruption scandal and a meager record of accomplishments.
(You can donate to Lamont here.)
I've long been saying that the Lieberman-Lamont primary is THE race of the year -- bigger than any of the general election races. Regular readers know how steamed I am at party elites trying to control the primary process; I've ranted about it here, here, here, here, and here, for just a few examples, and another excellent Democratic primary challenger, Chuck Pennacchio, who's being excluded by his own party in the Pennsylvania primary, graciously did a VichyDems guest blog about the problem of undemocratic Democratic primaries here. It's our party, not theirs, damn it, and I love it that at least one non-party-insider-endorsed candidate is giving the archetypical Vichy a hell of a run. If he wins, it'll send a resounding message to every waffler in the party, and even if he doesn't win, that's OK, we've just begun to fight, and Lamont's just one shot across their bow. (Everyone said the conservatives in the Republican Party were finished after Goldwater lost the '64 election, too; so much for the prescience of nabobs!)
So to everyone who rails at me for questioning whether Harry Reid really is "giving 'em hell" (as his website and emails claim), or for objecting when Barack Obama helps Lieberman in the primary, I say: sorry, but this is the future, and like the Establishment Republicans who wrote off the party's conservatives as unelectable and impractical after 1964 only to see them take over the party in 1968, the Presidency in 1980 and the entire government in 2000, folks like Reid and Obama had better learn quickly that the People are back and get on board, or they're going to be run over. The times, they are a-changing, and it's a long-term trend.
Update: Jane at FDL is blogging about this as well, and points out that there's an interview with Lamont at Truthdig.
(And, in an unrelated but related topic: check out Glenn Greenwald's book, please. It's the real deal by a great Constitutional lawyer, patriot, blogger, and friend of VichyDems. Send a copy to Reid and Obama; maybe they'll start catching on.)
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Saturday, April 29, 2006
He doesn't understand what Glenn Greenwald's new book, "How Would a Patriot Act?", really is about, nor why it's finding an early success that's not news at all to the readers of Unclaimed Territory or VichyDems but is an utter bafflement to the right:
There's something interesting happening on the best-seller list these days. A new book, How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok, by the left-wing blogger Glenn Greenwald, is number one on Amazon.com's top sellers list. It has been there for several days after having shot from somewhere in the 50,000 range to number one earlier this week — all in less than 24 hours and without the benefit of any high-profile radio and television publicity campaign. And it hasn't even been released yet — the official publication date for How Would a Patriot Act? is May 15, 2006....
How Would a Patriot Act? appears to have become something of a (quiet) publishing phenomenon, outperforming — at least in the early stages — other, higher-profile anti-Bush books, not to mention all the other best-sellers on the list these days. Why? No one seems to know.
Note: Glenn's not a left-wing blogger, just a civil libertarian who's following issues like this and this, and his book is also outperforming all the other, higher-profile pro-Bush books -- but I digress:
So far, How Would a Patriot Act? has received almost no attention in the press. Perhaps reporters just haven't noticed, or perhaps they don't understand what is going on. If the latter is the case, they have company at Amazon. "This is unusual," says Tom Nissley [of Amazon]. "We're still figuring out how this works."
I'm glad to see Glenn's book being noticed by people who aren't regular readers of his blog; that's the idea. And, to be frank, I'm glad to see that conservatives in the writing and publishing industries (which includes Amazon) don't understand the new model yet. What really matters is that both the concept that regular Americans care about their civil liberties, and Glenn's thoughtful, accurate legal analysis, are starting to reach the broader public, the opinion-makers, and (hopefully) the cowering class of national leaders, including both most Democrats and the small handful of "moderate" Republicans, who simply don't understand the issues as thoroughly as they should and who will either be educated (by Glenn and people like him) or schooled (by voters who sick to their souls of timid tepidity and will start throwing the bums out next November).
Go, Glenn. (You can buy the book here.)
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Friday, April 28, 2006
Here are some crazy, decidedly un-American, possibly Communist, propositions:
-- There are three branches of government, designed to check and balance each other, each jealously guarding the powers and prerogatives given specifically to it in the Constitution. The Founders designed it that way to ensure that no single branch, let alone party or individual, would completely dominate the government.
-- Even after he's elected, the President remains a democratic leader, continually responsible to the People from whom he draws his power, beholden to abide by the nation's laws, and subject to impeachment if he seriously violates those laws. It's the difference between an American President and a pirate captain: the President isn't an "elected King."
-- Even in wartime (which this isn't, since Al Quaeda isn't a sovereign state and the "war on terror" is as unending and attenuated as the "war on drugs" and the "war on poverty"), American citizens have the right to due process, to free access to nonclassified information about what their government's doing, and not to be subjected to warrantless searches and seizures absent compelling, emergency circumstances (in which cases, judicial review of the validity and necessity of the search should be conducted as quickly as possible).
-- Not just Democratic Presidents, but Republican Presidents as well, are subject to these Constitutional principles. And not just Democratic Congresses, but Republican Congresses as well, have taken an oath to defend the Constitution and might, in obedience to that oath, conduct hearings and investigations and things like that when a sitting President openly admits breaking the law and justifies it by claiming that the law doesn't apply to him.
If these concepts sound remotely sensible, and if you're interested in learning more about the balance between national security and civil rights that has been carefully worked out over the past 217 years, please pre-order Glenn Greenwald's new book, "How Would a Patriot Act?"
Glenn's the most knowledgeable guy on the planet about the debate over NSA surveillance, the "imperial presidency", and other Constitutional issues that are under the microscope these days. He's never been published before, was basically apolitical until the NSA surveillance issue arose in December, and is best known for posting painstakingly researched and detailed analyses on the blog Unclaimed Territory. He's been quoted by Senators and interviewed on numerous media outlets, but for a book from an unknown, first-time writer, "Patriot" is looking to be surprisingly influential. On its first day of pre-release sales (it's still at the printer's, and will be shipped in about two weeks), "Patriot" rose so fast to no. 1 on Amazon's sales charts that it nearly suffered the bends. After several days, it's now dropped to no. 3, which still ain't bad for a book that isn't even on paper yet.
Not only is "Patriot" an important book for an informed citizenry, but it's also important to keep it high on the Amazon charts. Why? Because watching Amazon is one way that other booksellers (from Borders and Barnes & Noble to small independents) decide what to stock. And yesterday, Amazon dropped the price from its original (incredibly reasonable) $12, to only $7.20 -- not because it's "clearance" but because it's selling so well they can afford to reduce their margin and count on volume to earn their profit. And the more widely distributed the book is, the more its ideas get circulated among the people who help frame the debate over the direction our government takes.
So: the book everyone's going to be talking about, by a Constitutional law expert who prior to the current debate about the "imperial presidency" was basically nonpartisan, for only seven bucks, and it helps support the author and publisher and boosts its marketing profile, too. What's not to like?
Here's the link to purchase. This is the heart of what America's about, folks: democracy, public debate over the form of government, freedom of the press, the marketplace of ideas, a tad of capitalism thrown in. Please support Glenn and Working Assets Publishing and consider picking up a copy.
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Wednesday, April 26, 2006
(A hypocritical rightie Republican who puts personal profit over principle? Who woulda thunk. With the recent shuffling in the White House, perhaps he can get a job at OMB.)
But some people have lost track of the argument (Democrats!), and have been sidetracked into snark about Cuban cigars, which are uniquely savory and delicious and make Dominican and Honduran plagiarists seem like the grocery-sack-paper cigarettes I pretended to smoke in Boy Scouts. In defense of cigars and Americanism, which are inextricably linked, the following is a comment I posted over at the General's which has NO RELEVANCE WHATSOEVER to the wars in Iraq or Iran (where we do have troops on the ground at this moment):
I'm distraught that some are innuendoizing that cigars resemble male anatomical nunits. They are forgetting the sacrifices of the Spanish American War.
Good American trees died to convince the world that the Spanish in Cuba harbored (get it? the Maine, Havana, "harbored"?) malicious intent and posed a clear and present danger to the U.S., and though we won that war quickly, good American boys died by the thousands in the Phillipines suppressing the insurgency that arose there after the war. Why? In order to secure a steady source of good Cuban cigars for Mr. Hearst and the other brave corporatists of the day.
There are lessons to be learned there. To those here who would denigrate their sacrifice, I say: remember the Maine. Remember the lessons of a war which was manufactured by the press and then quietly sapped the vital juices from our nation's lymphatic system: to-wit, once you've conquered a good cigar-making nation, don't let the Commies take it away without a fight.
Respectfully and reportingly yours, sir,
Buy Glenn Greenwald's "How Would a Patriot Act?" here
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Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Update, April 25, 3:37 pm PT: Amazon currently shows Glenn's book at number SIXTEEN in its sales rankings -- and it won't even be in stores for nearly three more weeks!! Awesome work, Glenn and Jennifer (the editor); awesome work, everyone who's pre-ordering it, because with that kind of ranking, the book will get the attention it deserves, and more importantly the IDEAS in the book will get circulation. I'm jazzed. YOU CAN BUY GLENN'S BOOK HERE.
Regular readers know that I respect and appreciate Glenn Greenwald's blog, Unclaimed Territory, which is the most comprehensive and intellectually honest legal analysis of the unitary executive, NSA surveillance, and other constitutional issues facing our country. And some time back, I began urging readers to pre-order Glenn's new book.
Glenn has officially launched the book's marketing campaign on his website today. My double-secret-probation inside sources tell me the book was sent to the printer yesterday, and it's due to be on store shelves on May 15 -- but it's available for pre-order on Amazon, and it's important that we rack up large pre-order numbers, because that drives bookseller demand.
Below, I'm repeating my original post about the book and the necessity for aggressive early orders. BUY HERE.
How Would A Patriot Act? is the first book issued by Working Assets' new publishing venture under a new, fast-to-market, grassroots-marketed publishing model that I believe will alter the impact of publishing on politics in our favor the way Regnery (the conservative imprint) did for neocons.
Glenn, proprietor of the Unclaimed Territory blog and without question the most knowledgeable, insightful commentator on the NSA spying scandal and related privacy issues, is a great writer who deserves both support and wider public recognition -- deserves to move from the blogs to the larger marketplace of ideas.
Early orders for his book are a key component of Working Assets' publishing strategy, since tons of early orders move books higher on Amazon's "what's selling" list, and other booksellers, especially independents, look for up-and-comers on that list when making their own purchasing decisions. In other words, a book can feed off its own buzz: if it sells well on Amazon, other booksellers will notice and start stocking it, more people will see it, and it can become a market leader.
So if you want to read a really good book for a great price ($12!), help a progressive leader, support a new liberal publisher, and multiply the impact of your purchase by helping the book get noticed, then please pre-order the book here.
One Unclaimed Territory and VichyDems reader has already ordered 25!
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Monday, April 24, 2006
Today, there's a report that McCarthy might NOT be the one who leaked the info -- even though the CIA (which officially won't talk about it) has leaked a confirmation that its original leak confirming McCarthy's identity is correct. (Yes, that's a ridiculous sentence. Yes, it's true: the CIA is leaking info about its efforts to plug leaks. God bless the Bushies.)
If it WAS McCarthy, a 21-year CIA veteran who writes for a Christian ecumenical organization -- any rightwing bloggers have credentials that sound? -- affirms on TomPaine.com that contrary to some reports the CIA's culture is "not to leak" but speculates that McCarthy must have seen no other recourse inside the agency and made the moral choice: to reveal war crimes. He remembers what happened to CIA employees who try to operate within agency channels, as the rightwing blogosphere says McCarthy should have done:
That’s what my colleague, CIA analyst Sam Adams, did 40 years ago—and came to rue the day. Through painstaking research, Adams discovered that Gen. William Westmoreland’s staff in Saigon had been ordered to keep Communist force figures artificially low—about half the actual strength—in order to project a picture of progress. When the countrywide offensive at Tet in early 1968 gave the lie to Westmoreland’s figures and vindicated Adams, Sam tried manfully to hold the culprits accountable by going to the CIA’s and the Pentagon’s inspectors general. He got the proverbial run-around, and some 30,000 additional U.S. troops and a million more Vietnamese fell before the war was over six years later. Adams was never able to shake his nagging remorse at the thought that he might have helped prevent further carnage, had he gone out of “official channels” and briefed his findings to the then-free mainstream press. He died at 55 when his heart gave out.
The tragedy of Sam Adams is well known, even to those, like Mary McCarthy, who joined the CIA many years after Sam left. From his present perch, I relish the thought that he is pleased that Mary may have learned a valuable lesson from the frustration he encountered by “staying within official grievance channels.”
We demanded, at Nuremburg, that German government officials not hide behind the "I was just following orders" defense. There is a higher moral code than mere law, we insisted then, and when human rights are being abused, it's a crime not to report them no matter what the law says. We were right then. I still stand by my position that Mary McCarthy -- whoever she is, and no matter how many there are of her -- did the right, moral, and American thing.
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What kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away
And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay
I can only imagine what the first lady has to say
You've come a long way from whiskey and cocaine....
Let me tell you about hard work: minimum wage with a baby on the way.
Let me tell you about hard work: rebuilding your house after the bombs took them away.
Let me tell you about hard work: building a bed out of a cardboard box...
You don’t know nothing about hard work!
The video is beautiful. The performers are talented. Most of all, watching the young audience gives me hope for the next generation, and energizes me to fight on to bequeath them a world as beautiful, as free and tolerant, as the one FDR and JFK and MLK tried to give to us.
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Hey, here's an idea! Don't upgrade the dikes and levees that protect the city from the tropical storms and hurricanes that assault it annually. When a world-class hurricane is announced, allow the middle-class and wealthy white people to leave early on clear roads, but do nothing to evacuate the poor who don't own cars (and who are afraid to leave their homes in high-crime neighborhoods). After the storm, respond clumsily, inconsistently, and late. Concentrate the survivors into camps run by the military and into stadiums with little food, no health care, and no security.
Then, when they're sick to their souls of the whole damned clusterfuck, give each of them just enough money to move away -- but not to move back, let alone to rebuild their homes and their lives. To make doubly sure that poor minorities don't repopulate the city, discourage the refugees' return and private investment in reconstruction by speculating publicly that maybe the city shouldn't be rebuilt at all, and don't appoint any landscape architects or other land-use professionals to the government panels planning the city's reconstruction. Make the nice white people feel they're being listened to by inviting a cadre of wealthy, mostly-white Southern Junior-Leaguers to Washington, listening to them attentively, and promising federal reconstruction dollars -- but delay actual funding. And, if your false promises of aid can sucker an inexcusably naive Louisiana senator like Mary Landrieu into refusing to filibuster a pro-life judicial nominee who favors an autocratic executive, and into casting the deciding vote to raise the nation's debt ceiling and enact a grotesquely unbalanced budget that pays for wealthy people's tax cuts while cutting services to the poor, why, so much the better!
Is our plan working? See for yourself:
Mayor C. Ray Nagin may have led Saturday's mayoral election, but he now faces a popular and better-financed opponent on a political landscape utterly changed by Hurricane Katrina, one in which the long-running dominance of the city's black vote has been significantly reduced.
Black residents, whose neighborhoods were the most devastated by the storm, voted in much smaller numbers than whites did on Saturday, even more so than usual. White turnout is usually higher than black turnout, but the gap was about double what it is normally, analysts said Sunday.As a result, most of the votes here were cast against Mr. Nagin, who is black, even though he came out on top in a crowded field, with 38 percent of the vote. If that trend holds, New Orleans will elect its first white mayor in nearly 30 years on May 20....
Best of all? Getting both candidates to pretend that race has nothing to do with it:
Incumbent C. Ray Nagin and rival Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu kicked off their mayoral runoff campaigns by urging voters and the news media to leave race out of the historic election here, calling in campaign stops for unity in the face of daunting rebuilding tasks after Hurricane Katrina.
But results in the first round of balloting suggest it may be difficult to do so.Next up: as the creators of SouthPark predicted, the first wave in the war against Iran will be code-named "Operation Get Behind the Darkies."
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Sunday, April 23, 2006
It's going to be a lot of fun watching the nutcase conspiracy theories expand and implode.
-- The theory that the prisons never existed and were fabricated as part of a sting operation seems to have been originated by the inexplicably popular Captain's Quarters, based on self-serving denials by the countries that hosted the prisons.
Other conservative sites love the idea that the U.S. is so clever that it has ruined its international reputation as a protector of human rights and vastly energized terrorist recruiting efforts in an ingenious ploy to nail a mole.
-- Stingray ("A Blog for Salty Christians") thinks the prisons don't exist. (Bible: all literally, indisputably true. Prisons testified to by living, breathing people who were detained there: don't exist.)
-- Macsmind, in its post "Rockefeller Did You Teller", likes both the "there were no prisons" and "Rockefeller's behind it all" theories: This is much more than just the leak of CIA prisons - a story which in itself is false....
-- Michelle Malkin thinks Mary McCarthy sent Joe Wilson to Niger. So does Ace of Spades HQ, a blog notable mainly for bragging about wanting to slit people's throats.
-- Stop The ACLU gets the first part of its story right: During the Bush Administration, a nexus of politicians, government workers and members of the news media have worked overtime in leaking classified information....
but instead of pointing out the treachery of Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney, and the President himself in leaking the National Intelligence Estimate, bemoaning the disclosure of Valerie Plame's identity (which blew not only her cover but the entire CIA front company she supposedly worked for), commenting on the news that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is seeking Karl Rove's indictment, or picking up on the new story that Condi Rice, too, has leaked classified information -- all good and true stuff! -- they instead drink the Kool-Aid:
From the secret terrorist prisons to the National Security Agency’s super-secret surveillance program, intelligence officials and the Bush Administration have had to watch their counterterrorism efforts neutralized for political reasons.
"Super secret surveillance system"? Does alliteration substitute for facts now? Hell, the NSA's "S.S.S.S." was revealed on the TV show "Alias" three years before the Times picked up the story!
And then, just for kicks, proceed to resurrect the old rightwing speculation that Jay Rockefeller, ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and a man who held his tongue about the NSA's illegal surveillance program, is secretly a leaker who's about to be brought down -- a story I debunked quite a while ago here.
-- Lifelike Pundits, in a permapost titled "The Democrats' Culture of Treason," buys into all the theories:
Mary McCarthy, Clinton/Burger appointee, belongs to the same club as Generals Clark and Zinni, worked in the same department of Valerie Plame. How far will this go? Senator Rockefeller?
So there you have it: like John Belushi begging Carrie Fisher not to blow him away in "The Blues Brothers" ("Honest... I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD"), the wingnuts trot out every conspiracy theory and excuse they can think of: McCarthy is a traitor for telling about the prisons, there aren't any prisons, it's all a sting, Jay Rockefeller's behind it all, the reporter's husband is behind it all, Joe Wilson is behind it all, Valerie Plame is behind it all, Bill Clinton (of course!) and Sandy Berger are behind it all, and most of all -- our leaks are good, your leaks are bad.
The one explanation they don't trot out? The simplest one, of course, the one that Occam's Razor suggests is the most likely: that maybe the prisons do exist, and they're illegal, immoral and unAmerican, and Mary McCarthy did precisely what we said, in the Nuremburg trials, that the Nazis should have done: courageously opposed her government when it violated human rights.
They're self-destructing right before our faces. Rove's about to be indicted, Condi's even getting tagged as a security risk, Bush and Cheney both lied to the special prosecutor. But unlike Jake Blues, they won't be able to wiggle out from under their string of ridiculous excuses by taking take off their Ray-Bans, smiling a big white smile, and getting us to fall in love with them all over again. Even Fox News admits Bush's approval numbers are at 33%, and it's only going to get worse.
Update: Congressional Democrats are suggesting there's a double standard on leaks. D'oh!
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Saturday, April 22, 2006
It’s coming to light that the “secret torture prisons” might well have been a sting operation. According to an NYT story yesterday, Mary McCarthy might just be “p0wned”.
BRUSSELS, April 20 — The European Union's antiterrorism chief told a hearing on Thursday that he had not been able to prove that secret C.I.A. prisons existed in Europe.
"We've heard all kinds of allegations," the official, Gijs de Vries, said before a committee of the European Parliament. "It does not appear to be proven beyond reasonable doubt." ***
See that line “scrutinize employees who had access to particularly classified information”? That might just mean this is an example of the old classic game of "tell certain people there is something going on, provide a little documentation to make it appear plausible", and see if it gets leaked.... I’m betting McCarthy, along with some others, were caught in a trap they gladly stepped into.
So now the neocon take is: there really aren't any secret prisons, it's just a trap to catch liberal CIA agents. Next up: we don't torture prisoners, Guantanamo is a bunch of empty barracks, and there's actually no war in Iraq -- it's all just a plan to catch traitors and make liberals look foolish, while our soldiers actually sip Mai Tais at a top-secret Club Med somewhere near Grand Tortuga.
Meanwhile, the same people who call McCarthy a traitor continue to claim that leaking components of the National Security Estimate, and the identity of a CIA agent and her entire cover organization, were justifiable.
I've fully recovered from my recent rage at the Right for destroying the career of yet another patriotic CIA agent, and have returned to laughing my ass off at them, which is the infinitely better response, if only because it makes them so upset. Grand Moff Texan would be proud.
Update 2, April 23: Original post on this topic here; additional post here.
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Friday, April 21, 2006
The CIA fired a long-serving intelligence officer for sharing classified information with The Washington Post and other news organizations, officials said yesterday, as the agency continued an aggressive internal search for anyone who may have discussed intelligence with the news media...
The CIA did not reveal the identity of the employee, who was dismissed Thursday, but NBC News reported last night she is Mary McCarthy. An intelligence source confirmed that the report was accurate...
The CIA said the firing was the result of an internal investigation initiated in late January of all "officers who were involved in or exposed to certain intelligence programs."...
Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. said people who provide citizens the information they need to hold their government accountable should not "come to harm for that."
"The reporting that Dana did was very important accountability reporting about how the CIA and the rest of the U.S. government have been conducting the war on terror," Downie said. "Whether or not the actions of the CIA or other agencies have interfered with anyone's civil liberties is important information for Americans to know and is an important part of our jobs."...Dozens of employees at the CIA, the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies have been interviewed by agents from the FBI's Washington field office. Others have been prohibited, in writing, from discussing even unclassified issues related to the domestic surveillance program. Some GOP lawmakers are also considering tougher penalties for leaking.
McCarthy's sin? Revealing that the U.S. is operating a string of secret prisons for interrogating prisoners out of the public eye and beyond the jurisdiction of U.S. courts -- a practice that the writ of habeas corpus prohibits and that every other civilized country, starting with England in Shakespeare's time, has rejected. Dangerous to national intelligence? Bah. Dangerous to those who would ignore the civil liberties on which America's greatness, and late and lamented reputation as a beacon of hope around the world, were based. If arrested, she will be a political prisoner. Let's hope she's not shipped to a gulag overseas.
This thoroughly un-American administration disgusts me even more than usual today. A pox on them.
Update, April 21: more analysis in the Comments.
Update 2, April 23: Additional posts on this topic here and here.
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Thursday, April 20, 2006
U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island is seen as one of the most vulnerable Republican senators in the country. But Wednesday, the national Sierra Club came out in support of him.The club said a vote for Chafee is better than a vote for a Democrat because of his position as a dissident within the majority party....
Chafee has said he needs voters registered as independents to come over and vote in the Republican primary so he can beat Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey. The Sierra Club promised to try to convince all of its members to vote for Chafee....
[I]t's Chafee who's still the man to beat in this race, and he's counting on liberals to carry him through the primary."Thank you Sierra Club. I look forward to working with you. You have a great grass-roots campaign, and I need it," Chafee said.
I've lavished praise on Linc Chafee. He is perhaps the last remaining Republican of conscience and the last conservative progressive in the Senate (yes, there used to be such creatures). In any primary contest between Chafee and a more retrograde Republican, every Democrat on Earth should donate, volunteer, and otherwise come to Chafee's aid. He is a treasure whose position as a dissident within the Republican Party should be protected at almost any cost.
But that doesn't mean that liberals should support him, rather than a Democrat, in the general election. Despite what some of my critics think, I don't want to pursue ideological purity at the expense of regaining a Democratic majority in at least one house of Congress; I want to throw the worst Democratic enablers on their asses and move the party itself to the left, where it belongs, but I'm also savvy about political strategy. I don't like Bill Nelson of Florida, for example, but I haven't said a peep against him for fear of hurting his chances of winning re-election over the far worse Katherine Harris.
If a Republican is going to win in Rhode Island then I hope it's Chafee, but I'd still prefer to have any halfway-decent Democrat over Chafee, if only to help us regain the majority (and, importantly, the procedural and subpoena powers that comes with majority status). Which makes the NARAL and Sierra Club endorsements inexplicable. If you belong to either group, please call or write and explain the math to them, using small words:
Support Chafee in the Republican primary over fellow Republican Steve Laffey. Hell, re-register people as Republicans so they can vote for him in the primary. But unless the Democrats nominate a God-awful Vichy, we must back the Democratic nominee (whoever that is) over the Republican nominee (whoever that is) in the general election.
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From that bloviating and traitorous but never- theless well- connected bag of wind, Bob Novak:
Robert Novak said Wednesday that special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald knows who outed a CIA agent to the Chicago Sun-Times columnist but hasn't acted on the information because Novak's source committed no crime.
Even better, from Truthout.org:
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald met with the grand jury hearing evidence in the CIA leak case and introduced additional evidence against Rove, attorneys and other US officials close to the investigation said.
The grand jury session in federal court in Washington, DC, sources close to the case said, was the first time this year that Fitzgerald told the jurors that he would soon present them with a list of criminal charges he intends to file against Rove in hopes of having the grand jury return a multi-count indictment against Rove.
In an interview Wednesday, Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, confirmed that Rove remains a "subject" of Fitzgerald's two-year-old probe.
Maybe Novak's source wasn't as current as Truthout's. Or maybe they're talking about different people: as I've pointed out previously, Fitz may not disclose wrongdoing by Bush or Cheney themselves because the remedy for their crimes is impeachment, not indictment, which puts them out of the purview of his assignment. But I like the direction both are heading.
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Stop yelling at your computer. I'm coming around.
If I reasonably feared Iranian mullahs using the bomb as an apocalyptic, last-ditch effort to retain power or die nobly in the face of a people's revolt against theocratic autocracy, then I should reasonably fear American mullahs doing the same thing. I think the Bush crowd is just crazy enough to start an unwinnable war in Iran, or even use a tactical nuke against Iran's nuclear facilities, either in the hope of holding on to Congress in November or of going out of power in a blaze of glory motivated either by PNAC white papers or the Book of Revelations, or both.
Here are some of the very scary things I'm now thinking about:
(1) Iran is really building a bomb, which no one in the White House wants to be their legacy. That bomb won't be complete for about a decade, but the ideologues in the White House honestly believe God has given them the "portfolio" to reform the Middle East, and they don't trust that future administrations will have the cojones to do it. Their timeline, therefore, isn't the ten years it will take Iran to build a nuke; it's the 1,000 days they have left in office.
(2) Bush refuses to rule out the use of military force, or even nuclear weapons, against Iraq. Bluster? From any other President, sure. Not from this one. Forgive me, but I just don't trust dry-drunk, religious-apocalyptic, demonstrably dishonest, serial war criminals with middle-aged Oedipal complexes to make solid judgments in this area.
(3) There's no longer a bright line between nukes and conventional weapons. Defense planners now refer to "micro-nukes", "mini-nukes" and other diminutives, as if using a "micro-nuke" is somehow less than "fully" committing the crime of using nuclear weapons. Even the smallest of these "micro" weapons is still in the ballpark of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs.
(4) The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (read: Department of Preemptive War) is planning to explode 1.5 MILLION pounds of high explosive in the Nevada desert, to simulate a small nuke and see whether one could penetrate the Iran nuclear weapons laboratory bunkers. Understand that this isn't a test of a large conventional bomb; it's a conventional dry run for a nuclear attack. In case anyone doesn't believe the Biblically apocalyptic nature of current defense planning, its code name is "Divine Strake."
(5) Bolstering the national defense and fulfilling-prophecy rationales for going to war with Iran, there's always that pesky petroleum thing. The U.S. economy completely depends on two things: cheap oil and ready credit. Iraq made the mistake, a few years back, of announcing that it would become the first OPEC member nation to trade oil in Euros rather than dollars. It's complicated economics, but a serious secondary world market trading oil in an alternative currency has the potential to rapidly deflate the dollar and increase our borrowing costs to the point that the U.S. could literally become bankrupt -- default on its international monetary obligations. Preventing the development of a secondary market trading oil in Euros was a major reason for the Iraq war. Iran has announced plans to open a bourse, or trading market, for its oil... in Euros. And oil prices already are rising in anticipation of the loss of Iranian sources.
(6) The U.S. already has troops on the ground in Iraq, scouting targets for future strikes. Deploying armed troops in another country in anticipation of war is, itself, an act of war. As we did in Iraq, bombing it at unprecedented levels while we pretended to seek peace in the U.N., the U.S. already is engaged in quiet warfare with Iran.
(7) All U.S. supply lines in Iraq run through the southern part of the country -- the area nearest to Iran, occupied by people religiously and culturally allied with Iran, who actually have a new mutual defense treaty with Iran. War with Iran cuts off all supplies and military support to our troops in Baghdad, Fallujah and the rest of Iraq. We can lose two countries with one stupid move.
(8) We're running war game scenarios to prepare for conflict in Iran.
Concerned? Yeah, me too. Want to learn more? Click here and here. Want to sound the alarm and hopefully head off an apocalyptic catastrophe? Try this and this and this.
H/T to democrats.com and to everyone at the Roots Project who are gearing up on this issue.
Update: the Nevada test is June 2. Randi Rhodes is one voice calling for sufficient publicity to get this test recognized for what it is: not a test of a bigger Daisycutter, but a dry run for a tactical nuclear strike on Iran.
Update 2: Harry Reid is getting ahead of the Senate caucus for a change, stating unequivocally that war with Iran is not a viable option. The G.O.P. already is saying that ruling out war weakens our hand in negotiations with Iran. I have two responses: (1) the only reason Iran, like other nations, is scrambling to build a bomb is that Bush has demonstrated, with North Korea and Iraq, that it will use diplomacy when confronted with a rogue regime that has nukes, and will use force when confronted with a rogue regime that doesn't. Iran wouldn't be building a bomb now if Bush hadn't stupidly designated it part of the "Axis of Evil" when he first took office. Taking force OFF the table would reassure Iran that it doesn't need a nuke in order to be treated responsibly by us. (2) Bush promised to negotiate in good faith, backed by a threat of force only as a very, very last resort, in the runup to Iraq. That's why so many Democrats voted for the Iraq force authorization: to give Bush a last card to play in hopes of AVOIDING war. Bush shoved the Democrats' goodwill in their faces, as he was planning to go to war all along. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice... um... you can't get fooled again.
What To Do: If we want Reid to Lead, we need to praise him when he does. It's just like dog training or childrearing, frankly. Contact info for Sen. Reid follows; get in touch with him by any convenient means, and pat him on the back.
H/T to Pachacutec at FDL, and to the Roots Project participants.
Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Minority Leader:
Main Capitol switchboard number (all Congressional offices): 888-355-3588
D.C. office direct line: 202-224-3542
D.C. office direct line toll-free from Nevada: 866-SEN-REID (866-736-7343)
Carson City office telephone: 775-882-7343
Reno office telephone: 775-686-5750
Las Vegas office telephone: 702-388-5020
D.C. office fax: 202-224-7327
Carson City office fax: 775-883-1980
Reno office fax: 775-686-5757
Las Vegas office fax: 702-388-5030
Senator Reid webmail link
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Wednesday, April 19, 2006
(Some of you may wonder why I've put a photo of Jennifer Garner on a post about Obama. Simple: I think the blog was greatly improved when her picture was up top, and I felt guilty -- sort of unesthetic -- when I saw how much worse things looked when Scott McClellan replaced her as the top post (see post below). So, I'm simply restoring the esthetics. Dumb? Of course. But it's my blog. Besides, I still like the post about Jennifer and like having an excuse to keep it alive.)
Update, April 20: I just came across this good catch by Matt Stoller from February, and will toss it onto the fire; why was Obama praising Joementum just a month after Joe undercut Obama?
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What do all these White House staff shakeups have in common? They're all window dressing. Yes, it's good to knock down as many neocon operatives as we can. It's also good to take pawns in chess, but it seldom wins the game. We can change all the supporting actors, but unless the man responsible for all the administration's missteps goes, the rest is just rearranging the deck chairs (update: and, yes, I called it that before Howard Kurtz did). Taking out the gunsels doesn't mean a thing if the Godfather isn't in your sights.
For real change, Cheney has to go. Though, to be honest, I suppose I'd settle for taking out Bush.
Do you believe President Bush's actions justify impeachment?
Out of 256,830 (!) responses, 86% responded:
Yes, between the secret spying, the deceptions leading to war and more, there is plenty to justify putting him on trial.
Only 7.4% say No, the man has done absolutely nothing wrong. Impeachment would just be a political lynching.
Let's put it over the top by bringing "Yes" over 90%. It'll feel good, and while it's not scientific, it will tell MSNBC's editors and producers that its most avid readership feels strongly about this issue, which will encourage them to pile on Bush even more, if only to increase their ratings. It's all good.
And, while we're taking the poll, we can ask ourselves: why are 86% of MSNBC readers more willing to defend the Constitution than 86% of Democratic senators?
H/T to Bob Fertik.
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Tuesday, April 18, 2006
What has my undies in a bunch is the Pulitzer Prize awarded yesterday to New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau for their December, 2005 article “revealing” the existence of the National Security Agency’s “secret” warrantless communications surveillance program. Making matters worse, everyone -- conservatives and liberals alike -- seems to believe the lie that these reporters broke the story.
The Pulitzer Prize people, of course, should know better (and probably do), but being journalists themselves, they’re just liberals, and can’t be trusted. And Glenn Greenwald, that crazy liberal lawyer who thinks the Constitution isn't automatically suspended when some foreigners don’t like America -- well, he’s obviously fallen off the left side of the playing field, probably lives in Rio de Janeiro or some foreign place like that, and is just trying to shill his blatantly antipatriotic book.
What really baffles me is that even the righties, who usually are so diligent at exposing the naked truth of journalism’s yellow liberal underbelly and who (according to their occasional comments on my blog) are careful to stay on top of truthful documentaries like “24" and “Alias”, are making the same mistake, blaming everyone from Risen and Lichtblau to Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller for blowing the lid off the supposedly “secret” program. The National Review has said the Times reporters should be jailed for publicizing the story, and Powerline said the journalists deserved “A Pulitzer for Treason.” Even noted gambler and moralist Bill Bennett, whose Virtue usually protects him from error, fell prey to the propaganda:
Are they punished, are they in shame, are they embarrassed, are they arrested? No, they win pulitzer prizes - they win pulitzer prizes - I don't think what they did was worthy of an award - I think what they did was worthy of jail, and I think this investigation needs to go forward. . . . . [T]hese people who reveal our secrets, who hurt our war efforts . . . who hurt the efforts of the President's people . . . they shouldn't be given prizes and awards for this, they shouldn't be given prizes and awards for this, they should be looked into . . . the Espionage Act, investigation of these leaks, I'm telling you, I'm hot. . . .
Well, sure, Bill Bennett IS hot, but not over this. Come on, people!! We all know it wasn’t the New York Times that popped the top off this puppy.
It was J.J. Abrams, creator of the television series “Alias.”
Yes: the action-adventure-spy TV series "Alias" nearly destroyed America’s entire counterterrorism effort nearly THREE YEARS before Risen and Lichtblau's story, in an episode titled "A Higher Echelon" that aired on January 5, 2003 (Season 2, episode 11):
Sydney Bristow (a secret agent played by the stunniferous Jennifer Garner): “Some people think there’s a conspiracy, that the government eavesdrops on everyone. It’s no conspiracy. Right now, satellites and ground station antennas are listening in. Faxes, internet communications, phone calls, all routed to high speed voice and optical recognition computers. They can analyze words spoken and written in every common language on earth. This system is called Echelon.”
Will Tippin (a naive, low-level CIA analyst played by Bradley Cooper): “Yeah, I heard about Echelon. I just don’t understand how it’s legal. So, what, it’s just like a computer that listens to and reads everything?”
Sydney: “Yeah, looking for key words. The system scans two million conversations an hour.”
Will: “Yeah, while shamelessly violating the Constitution.”
Sydney: “The National Security Agency argues it’s one of its most important weapons against terrorists. And, they don’t abuse the system.”
Will: “Somehow, that's unreassuring.”
So now we know the source of the leak. Before January 5, 2003, the terrorists had no idea the NSA was monitoring their conversations. Afterward, they did. And as President Bush and Attorney General Gonzalez have made clear, even reminding the terrorists that the government knows how to spy on them harms our nation's security.
Damn you for a traitor, J.J. Damn you.
Now let’s stop lauding those posers Risen and Lichtblau, and leave poor Jay Rockefeller alone.
Epilogue: Usually I'm content to let satire be satire, but this is such an important issue that I want to expressly connect the dots. The post above is humorous, but it's also deadly serious. There really was such an Alias episode in 2003. And there really are people claiming that the New York Times, and any government insiders who leaked the existence of the NSA's patently illegal program, are traitors because terrorists did not realize, until December 2005, that our government was trying to eavesdrop on their communications.
Such people are, to put it bluntly, idiots. EVERYONE knew the government was, and is, data-mining and eavesdropping on terrorists. Even TV producers and viewers knew it, long before the New York Times story ran.
The only real news disclosed by the New York Times was the MANNER in which such surveillance is occurring -- that the government, despite the existence of a special, secret court that approves literally 99.98% of warrant requests and operates under ridiculously liberal rules that even allow warrants to be issued retroactively, nevertheless insists on spying on Americans without warrants, without probable cause, domestically as well as internationally, and without meaningful Congressional oversight, even rejecting a Congressional offer to amend the law to allow such spying.
For whistleblowers and journalists to disclose government misconduct of that nature and scope -- to disclose that the basic safeguards of the Constitution are being not just set aside in the heat of battle, but purposefully and systematically disregarded and even dismantled -- is patriotism of the highest order. Those who argue otherwise are as unAmerican, and as silly, as those who would criticize "Alias" for disclosing national secrets.
Update: More evidence of the Hollywood-wiretap conspiracy!!
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