Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ann Coulter, Christian Revisionist

Isn't it off message for Coulter to talk about "perfecting" the Jews? I thought the object of the game was to "save" us.

She called Christianity the FedEx version of Judaism. As in, "There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold And she's buying the FedEx to heaven."

Mickeleh's Take: In Coulter's view of her religion, she gets to think of herself as being perfect, without actually having to be decent.

(Tags:, , )

Friday, September 21, 2007

Money Talks

Tristero at Hullabaloo explains how it works.

President Bush or President Betray Us?

The freedom to dissent got a double-barreled blast yesterday—from the President and the Senate. (Yes, the same Senate that earlier failed to restore the right to Habeas Corpus.) Both condemned the "General Betray Us?" ad that MoveOn.org placed in the New York Times last week.

Are we now supposed to hold our General in the same reverence that the Muslims hold their Prophet?

Isn't General Petraeus is fighting for our liberty to make cheap puns on his name? Or don't we have that freedom anymore?

Bush, on the other hand, is fighting to equate dissent with treason, subvert our Constitutional liberties, and gather dictatorial powers to the Presidency.

Yesterday he came up to (maybe over) the line of warning the Democrats not to irritate the military. He does this while cherishing the privilege of his political allies to smear honorable opponents with lies and innuendo. He said, "I felt like the ad was an attack, not only on Gen. Petraeus, but on the US military." (Hats off to Prof. Lakoff who presciently declared yesterday "Metonymy Day.")

I'm embarrassed and infuriated that twenty-two Democrats made it possible for the Dornyn amendment to pass. (SEE BELOW for the names.) Thought experiment: how many Republicans would join with Democrats in condemning the Swift-boating of Kerry, the smears of Max Cleland and John Murtha?

Turning an ad (whether you liked it or not—and I didn't like much, BTW) into a issue worthy of Presidential threats and Senatorial condemnation is not simply an attempt to distract from weightier matters (cholera breaks out in Iraq; Blackwater security guards ordered to leave by Iraqi government, etc.). It's an attempt to chill dissent. (Please see the excellent post on Kos by hbjackson.)

To guard against having all of our liberties frog-boiled away by slow increments, I'm reviving and adapting the old Homeland Security alerts to track attacks against our freedoms. I'm raising the threat level to Orange.

I'm also signing up and sending MoveOn.org some money to continue their fight. Please do likewise. Liberty: use it or lose it.

Mickeleh's Take: Bush claimed, after 9-11, "they hate us for our freedoms." Maybe he thinks that suppressing our freedoms will make them hate us less.

Here are the Democrats who voted to condemn the ad: Baucus (MT), Bayh (IN), Cardin (MD), Carper (DE), Casey (PA), Conrad (ND), Dorgan (ND), Feinstein (CA), Johnson (SD), Klobuchar (MN), Kohl (WI), Landrieu (LA), Leahy (VT), Lincoln (AR), McCaskill (MO), Mikulski (MD), Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Pryor (AR), Salazar (CO), Tester (MT), Webb (VA)

Three Democrats avoided the issue: presidential candidates Biden (DL) and Obama (IL), and my own Iraq-tightrope-walking, needle-threading Sen. Cantwell (WA).


(Tags:, , , , , , , , )

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Five Questions Following Senate's Failure to Restore Habeas Corpus

  1. Why is the headline: "Senate Rejects Habeas Legislation" and not "Republican Minority Blocks Vote on Habeas Legislation"?
  2. Why does Majority Leader Reed accept cloture votes and move on rather than forcing Republicans (plus Joe Lieberman) to go to the diapers and actually filibuster?
  3. Why don't Democratic Party leaders (including the presidential candidates who have the media spotlight) make Republican obstructionism the issue—leaving Republicans a clear field to make "Democrat" ineffectiveness their issue.
  4. If we support the Democratic campaigns to get a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, will we actually see progressive legislation?
  5. Is the Ralph Nader claim that there's no significant difference between the parties starting to look any better to you?

Mickeleh's Take: Congressional approval polls are even lower than Presidential approval polls. Bonus question: How politically risky would it be for the Democratic leaders to more assertive?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Edwards Fundraising: Smart, Postitive, Uplifting

In a word, here's how politicians raise money: fear.

The typical fundraiser is an appeal for money to keep the boogeyman du jour at bay. You've seen 'em: If so-and-so wins the world will end and you'll lose your immortal soul and your Google stock.

Can we stand four more years of the Bush war? Can we stand to have Hillary in the White House? Can we stand by while gays destroy the sanctity of marriage? While abortionists murder the unborn? While the Republicans shred the Constitution? While Al Qaeda plots to murder us in our beds? While Republican senators and airport policemen spend all afternoon hogging the toilet stalls, preventing decent travelers from finding a place to poop? etc.

John Edwards decided to go a different way. Contribute to his campaign and you'll be entered into a drawing to go to New Orleans with him to work with him "alongside families who are rebuilding their homes and their lives."

Mickeleh's Take: A politician ppealing to goodness, generosity, and our better natures? Hmmm. Isn't this newsworthy in the traditional "man-bites-dog" sense? Which means it will go unnoticed in a media world where the top stories are a girls doing an awkward dance in her undies and a football player turned murderer makes a grab for sports memorabilia.

Here's my suggestion, John. You want coverage? While you're in New Orleans, get your hair cut in a local barber shop. And throw the guy a $400 tip.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Francine's Take on Alive Day Memories

Francine Hardaway has written a deeply moving reflection on watching the HBO documentary Alive Day Memories, in which James Gandolfini interviews troopers who had been seriously wounded, physically and emotionally in Iraq. She notes
The war goes into its fifth year. Bush goes on doing whatever he wants. Congress goes on doing nothing. And I wonder how the voters feel about staying in Iraq forever.
While I was reading it, iTunes randomly selected The Band's "Tears of Rage" as the soundtrack.

Mickeleh's Take: This quick note is no substitute for reading Francine's blog. And reading her blog is no substitute for watching Alive Day Memories. And watching Alive Day Memories is no substitute for ... what? What are we doing to stop this?

Friday, September 14, 2007

"Return on Success"? Nah, Impeach on Failure

Whatever happened to the fearsome Republican phrasemaking A-team? You know, the folks who brought us "the death tax," "clear skies initiative," "defense of marriage." Have they all left the building? Is there nobody left who can do better than "Return on Success"?

The phrase can't help but stir echoes of "Return on Investment." We have made an investment of 3776 dead (3637 since "Mission Accomplished"), 27,848 wounded, (at least 500 with amputations), and a cost surging well past $400 billion. The Bush proposed investment will see us to at least another thousand U.S. dead and a cost mounting toward a trillion dollars. (And that investment, of course, doesn't see us to the end. It leaves us with more troops in Iraq than we had before the surge began.)

What is our return? Well, we got Saddam and Bush got to prance around and parade his package in a flight suit. And I think some Iraqi schools got painted. And there's a market somewhere that U.S. politicians can visit if they are sufficiently well guarded.

Any other returns on our investment? Iraqi deaths number, by the most conservative estimates, about 70,000. By more likely estimates, they are multiple hundred thousands—and a story by Tina Susman in this morning's L.A. Times says the Iraqi toll may pass one million. Dead.

The U.N estimates more than 4 million Iraqis have been forced from their homes, some 2 million are now living in other (mostly Arab) countries. We've fueled worldwide recruiting for al-Qaeda.

And the other day, our poster-boy for "success" in Anbar province, Sheikh Sattar Abu Reesh was blown up near his heavily guarded compound.

Krugman, this morning, notes that Bush political crony and member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, Ray Hunt has gone and cut a side deal with the Kurds in Iraq for oil. Talk about insider trading—here's a guy in a position to know and he's betting on the failure of Bush's proclaimed policy of seeking a united Iraq. Over the line, Smokey puts in more plainly: "Bush's pals begin the looting of Iraq."

That's just a partial accounting of our return on investment.

But "return on success" is not a bad choice simply for its echo of "return on investment." It's downright monstrous in its own right. It seems to place the burden of coming home squarely on the shoulders of the soldiers and marines in Iraq. Get the job done and you can come home.

As if the job is theirs to do. As if they had the power to deliver success.

Everyone (but Bush and Cheney) agrees that there is no military solution to Iraq. The only way out is diplomatic and political. But there, we got nothin'.

So, Bush is holding our military force hostage pending a "success" that they cannot influence, a success that he has so far refused to pursue with any vigor, commitment, or competence.

Mickeleh's Take
: When Bush lists all the awful things that might happen if we pull out, he comes up with a list that's very close to the things that have happened since we invaded. How about replacing "Return on Success" with "Impeach on Failure"?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Caustic Column by Kitman on Couric

Marvin Kitman spews a little well-deserved sarcasm in his take on New York mag's cover story on Katie Couric.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Michael Moore Does Surgery on Wolf Blitzer With No Anesthetic

Here's a bit of joy. Crooks and Liars has video of Michael Moore on the Wolf Blitzer show on CNN. Moore detours the interview away from Wolf's agenda to demand an apology from Blitzer (as well as CNN and the rest of the MSM) for neglecting their job in the run-up to the Iraq war. He reminds Blitzer that Fahrenheit 911 was right and CNN's coverage of the run-up to the war was wrong. He points out that CNN's hostility to Sicko might be motivated by the large infusion of advertising they carry from big pharma.

Moore also has the video on his own site along with a refutation of the Sicko slams that intro'd the interview.

Mickeleh's Take: Nice to know that someone other than Cheney can reduce Wolf Blitzer to a stunned, sputtering blintz. Wouldn't the world get better faster if more guests would follow Moore's lead? Why do guests blandly accept the premises of the interviewer?

(Tags: , , , , , )

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Isikoff Quotes White House Aid: Bush Pardoned Libby to Avoid "Fracture" with Cheney

Michael Isikoff has some insder reporting on how Bush came to commute Libby's sentence. No surprises, but some good detail. The money quote of the report is attributed to one of two unnamed White House "advisers," "I'm not sure Bush had a choice. If he didn't act, it would have caused a fracture with the vice president."

Naturally, Isikoff has to balance the article by throwing up Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich as an equivalent. Howie Kurtz on TV ended his segment on this topic with "enough hypocrisy on both sides."

It's time for the press to cease and desist from using false balance to distort what's happening. Bush clearly used the power of a commutation to stop an investigation into what special prosecutor Fitzgerald J Fitzgerald identified as a "cloud over the Vice President." There is no equivalent to that in Clinton's actions. As Fitzgerald said last February, "We didn't put that cloud there. That cloud's there because the defendant obstructed justice. That cloud is something you just can't pretend isn't there."

During the investigation, Libby was told not to discuss the case with anybody. He almost complied. Who did he discuss it with? Says Fitzgerald: "the only person [Libby] told is the vice president. Think about that." (source: Truthout.)

Mickeleh's Take: The fix is still in. The big lie is still the order of the day. And too much of the media still plays along. Mr. Isikoff, what's the compulsion to stuff every report with "on the other hand..."? Keep the other hand in your pocket. It will improve your objectivity.

And yes. Clinton did some terrible things. So did Bush 41. (He pardoned the Iran-Contragate crew.). If you have to find historical balance, how come you only talk about Clinton? The Bush example is a much closer parallel.

(Tags: , , , , , )

Friday, July 06, 2007

Thom Hartmann: An Even Better Rant

A common thread in the rants I linked to below is the common sense view that George W. Bush kept Scooter out of jail to keep him silent and protect the White House.

Thom Hartmann
presents a chronology that points within a week or so the moment that the fix went in—the moment when Scooter's defense team suddenly decided to mount no defense—not to call Libby, not to call Cheney, not to do anything but smile and wait it out.

Hartmann begins with the objection raised by George Mason at the time the constitution was written:
The President of the United States has the unrestrained Power of granting Pardons for Treason; which may be sometimes exercised to screen from punishment those whom he had secretly instigated to commit the Crime, & thereby prevent a Discovery of his own Guilt. –
and makes a very strong case that what Mason feared is exactly what transpired.

Mickeleh's Take: The framers did not leave us without remedy. As James Madison responded to Mason's objection:
[I]f the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds tp believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty...
It's up to Congress to act. It's up to us to keep the pressure on Congress.

For your Weekend Reading: 10 Best Rants About Bush-Cheney-Scooter

That dead soul who slinks into a room to the strains of "Hail to the Chief"... that smirk on a stick who tells audiences he's happy to take an incomplete on how history will judge his administration... that self-styled commander guy and decider who, in reality, is content to merely be puppeteered by his vice president... that guy who in refering to himself simply as "43," reminds us continually of his I.Q... has this week provoked new outrage, scorn, and deeply earned contempt for handing a stay-out-of-jail card that George W. Bush handed to his and Cheney's shared operative, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Jr as well as carefully reasoned and researched explanations of how far Bush has strayed from the guidelines of his own Justice Department.

Here (with a nod to the friends who have emailed me pointers) are ten of the best responses. Actually, it goes to eleven (and beyond).

Mark Morford (S.F. Gate)
...But really, you do have to laugh at the vicious antics this administration, and perhaps Dick Cheney in particular, that most nefarious molester of U.S. law and ignorer of all political integrity and deeply homophobic father of a creepily lesbian daughter and overall gruntingly guff sneerer at all moral principle, masterful mocker of everything you somehow still manage to think, even in your most despondent and ethically disillusioned state, that American politics is somehow supposed to be about....
Juan Cole (Informed Comment)
...Basically, in Bushworld, high government officials are above the law, including all international law and most domestic...
Hunter (Daily Kos)
...With each passing day, Bush becomes a little less presidential, and a little more like Al Capone with an Air Force.
Editorial (NYT)
...Mr. Bush’s assertion that he respected the verdict but considered the sentence excessive only underscored the way this president is tough on crime when it’s committed by common folk. As governor of Texas, he was infamous for joking about the impending execution of Karla Faye Tucker, a killer who became a born-again Christian on death row. As president, he has repeatedly put himself and those on his team, especially Mr. Cheney, above the law.... Mr. Bush did not sound like a leader making tough decisions about justice. He sounded like a man worried about what a former loyalist might say when actually staring into a prison cell.
Edward Lazarus (FindLaw)
As a procedural matter, the President chose to bypass long-established Department of Justice guidelines for exercising his pardon and commutation power.

These guidelines recommend and anticipate that the Administration will consult with the lead prosecutor on the case, and even with the sentencing judge... that commutations ordinarily should not be given until the individual under consideration has served some period of time in jail, and has either exhausted or given up his or her appeals...

TPM Reader AR (Talking Points Memo)
It seems pretty clear to me that Bush would not be taking nearly as much heat if he'd waited for Libby to do some time in prison. So why the hurry? Was the hurry because Bush wanted to take no chance that Libby would start talking?...
Amy Butler (Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.)
Dear Mr. Bush... Maybe you feel you’re protected enough to behave in whatever manner you want, to leave democracy and the American people in the dust while you keep your friends happy, but I want you to know I’m tired of it all. For the first time in my adult life I am genuinely alarmed about the kind of country I will be handing off to my kids....
Andrew Sullivan (The Atlantic)
... The number of people George W. Bush sent to their deaths without a second's thought is higher than any living governor in the United States. And yet it took a perjury conviction of a white, wealthy, connected apparatchik to awaken the president's sensitivity to injustice...
(For the record, the number Bush sent to their deaths is 152, including 2 women. In the case of one of those women, Karla Faye Tucker, Bush ignored pleas for mercy from the Pope, Jerry Falwell, Pat Roberts. Sullivan cites a devastating 2003 article from by Alan Berlow from The Atlantic, "The Texas Clemency Memos." Read it and weep.)

Editorial (The Montgomery Advertiser)
Don Siegelman must be wondering right about now about the wisdom of being a lifelong Democrat, not a Republican.

The former governor, who last week pleaded with a federal judge that he deserved probation and not prison time, instead was whisked off in shackles immediately after his sentencing to start serving a seven-year sentence, despite the fact that his appeals in the case were still pending...
Dan Froomkin (washingtonpost.com)
... Was there a quid pro quo at work? Was Libby being repaid for falling on his sword and protecting his bosses from further scrutiny? Alternately, was he being repaid for his defense team's abrupt decision in mid-trial not to drag Cheney into court, where he would have faced cross-examination by Fitzgerald?...
(Froomkin cites A Judiciary Committee report prepared after Watergate: which summarizes the framers' intent regarding Impeachment. George Mason, anticipated circumstances much like our own in which a president might use the pardon power to shield actions that he himself initiated, "to stop inquiry and prevent detection." James Madison responded, "[I]f the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds tp believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him...")

Keith Olbermann, Special Comment (MSNBC)
[AGAINST FOOTAGE OF BUSH AT GROUND ZERO] ...We enveloped our President in 2001. And those who did not believe he should have been elected—indeed those who did not believe he had been elected—willingly lowered their voices and assented to the sacred oath of non-partisanship.

And George W. Bush took our assent, and re-configured it, and honed it, and shaped it to a razor-sharp point and stabbed this nation in the back with it.

Were there any remaining lingering doubt otherwise, or any remaining lingering hope, it ended yesterday when Mr. Bush commuted the prison sentence of one of his own staffers....
(See it on YouTube.)

[late breaking:
Thom Hartmann's even better rant]


Bonus section: The Washington Post Series on Cheney by Barton Gellman and Jo Becker:

Part 1: “A Different Understanding with the President”
Part 2: “Pushing the Envelope on Presidential Power”
Part 3: “A Strong Push from Backstage”
Part 4: “Leaving No Tracks”

Sidney Blumenthal (Salon)

Mickeleh's Take: The White House is counting on our national ADHD to ensure that we quickly move on to some other shiny thing and lose sight of our outrage. We're not moving on until Bush and Cheney move on. I wonder if moveon.org should consider a name change.

(Tags:, , , , , , , )

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Can You Spare $61 To Help Undo What Bush Has Done?

George W. Bush turns 61 tomorrow. To exploit the occasion, Laura Bush's name has been appended to a GOP fundraising letter inviting folks to give a present that all Republicans can share: a donation to the party.

Alan Bisbort has a better way to celebrate: Donate $61 to someone or some group to help repair even a bit of the damage caused by the Bush administration.
Consider, for example, sending $61 to a friend who needs help with the bills after her recent illness and lack of insurance has wiped out her life's savings (I've got a couple candidates, if you're stumped for anyone who qualifies). Or consider sending $61 to any prisoner jailed for political reasons. (My personal pick is Jeff Luers; for more information, visit http://www.freefreenow.org). Or just send the $61 to the usual suspects who are out there on the front lines, trying to redress global crises and political repression: Greenpeace (www.greenpeace.org), Earth First! (www.earthfirst.org), Wild Aid (www.wildaid.org), Population Connection (www.populationconnection.org), Amnesty International (www.amnesty.org), and Doctors Without Borders (www.doctorswithoutborders.org).

The point is to send the $61 anywhere that offers hope, compassion, healing. That means, literally, anywhere but the GOP!
Bisbort urges that you accompany your gift with a note explaining its significance.

Mickeleh's Take: It's a great idea. Where will you donate your $61?

Surprise: Bush Can Use Language With Great Precision

A running bit on Letterman called "Great Moments in Presidential Speeches," follows the classic comedy three-step of set-up, set-up, punchline.

  1. Set-up: FDR, delivering his best remembered line: "The only thing we have to fear is... fear itself"
  2. Set-up: JFK, delivering his best remembered line: "Ahsk not what youah country can do faw you. Ahsk what you can do faw yoah country"
  3. Punchline: GWB, fumfering and stammering, eyes darting, shoulders hunched
It's a sure-fire laugh. But it's Bush and team that get the last laugh. When the chips are down, Bush says neither more nor less than he means.

When Plame's name was first leaked, Bush said: "If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated the law, the person will be taken care of.'' After a jury said Libby violated the law, Bush took very good care of him. (With an implication of even better care to come.)

When Gonzales play-acted advanced Alzheimer's in front of the U.S. Senate, Bush said Gonzales "answered every answer he could possibly answer, honestly answer, in a way that increased my confidence in his ability to do his job.” Translation: Gonzales answered only the questions that could be answered without implicating Rove, Cheney, or me. His ability to stonewall increased my confidence that he could do his job, which is to shield the rest of us." He went on to say, "Some senators didn’t like his explanation, but he answered as honestly as he could."

Mickeleh's Take: If a prisoner is stabbed in a fight, and he tells the authorities that he must have slipped and fallen on the shiv, he gains status in the yard for having "held his mud." Libby and Gonzales both held their mud. They'll be taken care of.

(Tags:, , , )

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

When in the Course of Human Events...

On this fourth of July, please take a step to help put an end to the injustice of King George. I'm so appalled at the distance between the ideals under which this country was founded and the conduct of its current administration. Kohut says that in the Pew surveys, the single word that respondents use to describe Bush is "incompetent."

But incompetence is the least of it. IMHO, incompetence is a smokescreen for a very effective dismantling of the rule of law in this country.

In commuting Libby's sentence, Bush reaffirms that he believes that the Cheney-Bush administration is above the law.

In commuting Libby's sentence, Bush reveals that his insistence on on strict, mandatory sentencing guidelines does not apply to him or his cronies.

In commuting Libby's sentence, Bush tramples on the myth of fair, impartial justice.

In commuting Libby's sentence, Bush endorses obstruction of justice as a legitimate tool of statecraft to be applied when convenient.

Clemency has no part in Bush's calculation. He's simply reinforcing the stonewall that has protected Cheney, Rove, and ultimately himself.

Commuting Libby's sentence isn't about loyalty to Libby any more than endorsing Gonzales is about loyalty to Gonzales. In both cases, Bush is working to keep up the firewall that keeps real justice at bay.

Congress can leap that firewall with subpoenas backed by the force of impeachment. Will the Senate convict? unlikely. But the impeachment and investigation can move forwared and uncover the truth.

Please take an action to resist. Call the White House. Call your congressional reps. Sign this moveon.org petition to subpoena Cheney and, if he resists, impeach him:
"Congress must force Vice President Cheney to respond to its subpoenas. If he continues to obstruct justice and disregard the rule of law, Congress has no choice but to begin impeachment proceedings against him."

Mickeleh's take
: ... it becomes necessary.

(Tags:, , , , , , , , , )

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

All of MSNBC is off my DVR for two months

Yesterday Hardball books Coulter. (see my post yesterday). That earns me a one-month respite from the newscaster known to the blogosphere as Tweety.

Today, the entire network turns into all-Coulter, all-the-time as everyone needs to follow up on the Elizabeth Edwards phone call to Ann. That earns me a two-month respite from all MSNBC programming.

And, of course, the manufactured event takes the lead position on their website.

So, no links for them.

Mickeleh's Take
: If Olbermann does something wonderful, I'm sure I'll read about it somewhere.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hardball is off My DVR for a Month

Chris Matthews has booked Ann Coulter for his show today. Whenever that happens, I drop him from my DVR lineup for a month.

Mickeleh's Take: Hey, Chris, don't you know that Cable news builds its ratings on missing blond women?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Iraq Prognosis: Juan Cole Posts a Vet's List

The Commander Guy and his cheering section regularly regale us with the terrible consequences of leaving Iraq. By contrast, they expect positive outcomes if we stay. Considering the intentions and resources of the factions now in play, it might be prudent to remember what Rummy told us back in the days of looting accomplished: "Stuff happens."

Juan Cole posted a grim list of stuff that may well happen in the coming months provided to him by someone identified only as "a canny vet."

Mickeleh's Take: Read the list. Judge for yourself whether these outcomes seem more or less likely than those predicted by the Bushies

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Jon Stewart & McCain; Stewart's Best Republican Interview Ever

Time was that I cringed whenever Jon Stewart booked a right-winger for an interview. To his credit, Jon works hard to keep his interviews civil and congenial. In the past, however, that meant throwing too many polite, soft pitches and letting the right-winger control the segment.

That was then. This is now. Stewart has a found a voice that remains civil and congenial, but now adds tough and challenging. He follows up. He follows through. He doesn't take crap, pap, or talking points. And he does it all with humor. It's masterful.

As for McCain, like Uncle Junior on the latest episode of the Sopranos, the Senator managed to come out of his recent fog and lethargy to show us flashes of the sharp and feisty ad libber he used to be. He still can't get anything past Stewart.

Watch this through to the end. It has a wow finish.



Mickelehs' Take: The good news is that both men were at the top of their games. The better news is that Stewart still decked the old man. Civilly and Congenially.

(Tags: , , , , , , , , )

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Did Bush Okay Firing Iglesias? (Albuquerque Journal)

In October, the Justice Department had a list of U.S. Attorneys to fire. David Iglesias was not on the list. The November 15th version of that list included Iglesias. How'd that happen?

Josh Marshall points to a Mike Gallagher article in this morning's Albuquerque Journal that indicates Bush personally okayed the firing of U.S. Attorney David Iglesias. Iglesias, you remember, was the one who testified about the phone call he had from Sen. Pete Domenici asking whether he'd be filing an indictment of New Mexico's Democratic Attorney General before the election:
“I gave an answer to the effect of I didn't think so.

“He said, ‘I’m very sorry to hear that,’ and the line went dead, the telephone line went dead. I thought to myself, did he just hang up on me?

“He didn't call back; I didn't call back. I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that something bad had happened, and within six weeks I got a call from Mike Battle saying that it was time for me to move on.”
What does Gallagher add to the story? Two phone calls: Domenici called Rove after the election and asked him to take the firing request directly to Bush. Subsequently, Bush and Domenici had a direct conversation on the subject.

Mickeleh's Take: How does Gallagher know this? Looks like someone in the senator's office is talking. "The Journal confirmed the sequence of events through a variety of sources familiar with the firing of Iglesias, including sources close to Domenici. The senator's office declined comment." I wonder if this will come up during Tuesday's Gonazles testimony.

(Tags: , , , , , )

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Should Dems Boycott Fox News?

Twice now, the Democrats have managed to avoid airing their presidential nominating debates on Fox "News", on the grounds that Fox is little more than a propaganda arm of the Republican right disguised as a news network.

The discussion now, raised by John Aravosis after Obama sat for an Fox "News" interview, is whether prominent Democrats should escalate to giving Fox a total and global cold shoulder. No interviews, no nothin.

Mickeleh's Take: Isn't this the Bush position with regard to talking to Syria? Hmmm

(Tags: , , , , )

Friday, April 06, 2007

Why the Pelosi Trip is Getting So Much Negative Press

Devilstower on Kos finds the positive in all of the negative coverage that MSM is lavishing on Pelosi's visit to Syria. (Spoiler: it's a sign that the old applause lines aren't working anymore.)

Mickeleh's Take: Boy are they not working. How not working are they? Bush doing a medley of his greatest hits in front of the usual military audience got nothin' but crickets. Not one interruption for applause.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Q1 Fundraising: Hillary Loses Her Strongest Asset

With the reporting of Q1 fundraising in the race for the presidential nomination, Sen. Hilary Clinton lost her strongest asset: the aura of inevitability. Clinton's campaign has been running on two levels. Up top is a long list of positions, policies, events, experience, networks (hers and his), and, of course, her gender. Beneath it all was one simple, intimidating message: Hilary is unstoppable, so you're better off betting with her than against her. It's that subtextual message that's helped drive her numbers--both polling and fund-raising. She was IBM of the 60's--risky to bet agains

Obama brought excitement, charisma, youth but eventually, he'd be steamrollered by the inevitable Clinton momentum.

That story ended at the midnight boundary between March 31st and April 1st when Q1 fundraising came to an end.

Clinton's campaign announced a very impressive number: $26 million. Far more than anyone had ever raised this early in any presidential campaign.

This morning Obama's campaign announced numbers that trashed Clinton's. As a total, he announced $25 million, which on the face of it is close enough to derail the Clinton engine of inevitability. But behind those numbers, he trounced Clinton. Her money came from 50,000 donors. His money came from 100,000. Oops.

But wait, there's more: Clinton hasn't announced how much of the $26 million is earmarked for the primary, vs the general election, but it's likely that she called on her biggest donors to give to both campaigns so as to front-load her totals and underscore the "can't lose" message. Obama has $23.5 million for the primary, which observers suspect is far more than Clinton.

But wait there's more: If Clinton's donors have maxed out their legal contributions ($2300 for the primary and another $2300 for the general), she won't be able to call on them for Q2. Obama has lots of headroom among his current donor pool and growing momentum to pull in new donors -- including, some of Clinton's, who might be thinking about hedging their bets.

The Phil de Vellis video mashup of Hillary and 1984 was not only resonant, but prophetic. Clinton is still a formidable competitor in this race with a strong network, but she's no longer the inevitable winner. That changes the narrative profoundly.

Mickeleh's Take: Now playing at my inner cineplex: Dialog from Lawrence of Arabia.

LAWRENCE:
Nothing is written.


(Tags: , , , , , )

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

It's the Broadcasters Who Bought and Paid for That "Independent" Study Opposing XM-Sirius Merger

The headlines all talk about an independent analysis by the respected and influential Carmel Group making a strong case against the proposed merger of XM and Sirius. It's the body copy that tells you who commissioned and paid for this "independent" study: the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters)--you know, terrestrial radio.

I wonder what that contract looked like? What did the folks from the NAB ask for? "Hey, Carmel Group, could you figure out if this merger is a good idea or not? Let us know either way." Hmmm. You don't suppose there was any wink-wink, nudge-nudge about what that report was supposed to "discover," do you?

Mickeleh's Take: I'm not talking about whether the merger is a good or bad idea--or neutral. I'm questioning the coverage. Shouldn't the headlines say "NAB's Case Against Satellite Butressed By A Commissioned Study?" Should the lede be "The National Association of Broadcasters paid the Carmel Group to..." Oh, wait. That's the press, I'm talking about. AKA, the steno pool.

More on Techmeme

(Tags: , , , , )

Monday, April 02, 2007

Dave Winer: The 10-year Anniversary That Almost Wasn't

Oops. This post was meant for my other blog, Mickeleh's Take.

Last year, April Fool's day fell on March 13. On that day, Dave Winer posted on why he would stop blogging. Thank goodness he thought better of that and Scripting News persists. Yesterday, it passed its tenth anniversary. Mazel Tov.

Mickeleh's Take: Dave earned my eternal gratitude for writing Think Tank and More. He could have stopped there. But he didn't and he still hasn't. Consider that for most of his career he's worked as an individual or as leader of very small companies, yet he has done more to shape what I and many others do on the net on a daily basis than most of the giants. Thank you for being a hero not only to me, but to scads of my other heroes. Keep the fires lit. And keep holding everyone's feet to them.

(Tags: , , , , , )

Our Side Gets Great Words Too: "Bridge to Nowhere"

The right does not have a monopoly on powerful phrase-making. Bill Adair in the St. Petersburg Times tells the story behind three little words that helped the Dems retake congress, "Bridge to Nowhere." Thank you to Keith Ashdown of CREW who coined the phrase. Got any more where that came from?

Mickeleh's Take: George Lakoff, Jeffrey Feldman, and Geoffrey Nunberg, your lessons are sinking in.

John McCain's Having a Very Bad, Bad Year

McCain Caught Napping at State of the Union

We knew it was over for McCain on the night of the State of the Union. The camera cut away to this shot of him nodding off. But he chose to play out the charade of his quest for the presidency with one fiasco after another. He flubbed his Meet the Press shot and his Letterman shot and and and.

The latest McCain fiasco came when he set about to prove his assertion last week that--thanks to the Bush-McCain winning strategies--there are now neighborhoods in Baghdad where it's safe to stroll. And so he flew over to stroll, safely (accompanied by 100 U.S. soldiers on the ground with five helicopters overhead and wearing a bullet-proof vest over his shirt. Think Progress has the video.

More reality (from Newsweek): "Agence France Presse on Sunday quoted an Iraqi official who reported a 15 percent increase in violence across Iraq in March. According to their tally, 2,078 civilians, cops and soldiers were killed last month, 272 more fatalities than in February." Juan Cole has more of the grim details and a well-grounded assessment of McCain's descent from straight shooter to "playing illusionist with the lives of our troops."

Mickeleh's Take
: John, rent Requiem for a Heavyweight.

Monday, March 26, 2007

What Elizabeth Edwards Said

I didn't watch Sixty Minutes last night. I'd like to say there was some principle to that. (Someone told me she wasn't watching because she can't stand Katie Couric. Not that it would have mattered to CBS; my friend is in the wrong demo. But my reason was that I was having too much fun with my Apple TV. There I've said it.)

But here's what Elizabeth Edwards said:
"You know, you really have two choices here. I mean, either you push forward with the things that you were doing yesterday or you start dying. That seems to be your only two choices. If I had given up everything that my life was about – first of all, I'd let cancer win before it needed to. You know, maybe eventually it will win. But I'd let it win before I needed to.

And I'd just basically start dying. I don't want to do that. I want to live. And I want to do the work that I want next year to look like last year and... and the year after that and the year after that. And the only way to do that is to say I'm going to keep on with my life."

Mickeleh's Take: I'm sorry for the circumstance that compels Elizabeth Edwards to draw so soon on her enormous courage, strength, and wisdom. But it's a comfort to know that she has all three in such abundance. I've heard commentators throw the phrase "teaching moment" a lot since we learned of the return of her cancer. The phrase sounds awfully glib and pre-packaged. But Elizabeth Edwards taught me something in those remarks. I hope I can remember them in case of emergency.

By the way, for a perspective on Katie Couric from someone who did watch, see Taylor Marsh at HuffPo.

(Tag: )

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Attorneygate: A Slo-mo Saturday Night Massacre


When the Attorneygate story first broke, it looked to me like a slow-mo replay of a key event in the downfall of Richard Nixon, the "Saturday Night Massacre" as skewered by Herblock's cartoon with a one-word caption: "Mugging." (The cufflinks bear the initials, R.N.)

With Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox closing in, Nixon issued a simple order to his attorney general: fire Cox.

The A.G., Elliot Richardson, refused and resigned. Richardson's deputy, William Ruckelshaus did likewise.

At that point, the Solicitor General became acting Attorney General. And he carried out the order.

Who was that guy? Robert Bork, whose name became a verb when his nomination to the Supreme Court (by Reagan in 1987) was successfully challenged by the Senate.

See also: Oliver Willis: Somewhere, Richard Nixon is Thanking Bush for Making Him Look Good.

Times Scoop: White House vs Gonzales. It's starting

The Bush gang is not the the prime demographic for riding the bus. But they're starting to learn the routes. "Thrown under the bus" is fast becoming the operant phrase of the great unraveling. On Monday, the embattled A.G. (same initials for office and office-holder) tossed his own flunky, D. Kyle Sampson, under the bus for failing to make a clean getaway after replacing eight U.S. prosecutors with Rovian flunkies. "Mistakes were made here" said the A.G. without specifiying what and by whom.

According to Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Jeff Stolberg in the NY Times, some unnamed Republican insider confided, "“I really think there’s a serious estrangement between the White House and Alberto now."

From the White House perspective, there's no mistake in the firings.
  • Perfectly OK to fire Carol C. Lam who successfully prosecuted Randy Cunningham and was, surely on the trail of even more Republican malfeasance.
  • Perfectly OK to can Bud Cummings to make room for the Rove protege who managed the nomination of John Roberts for Chief Justice.
  • Perfectly OK to can David Iglesias who resisted pressure from Sen. Pete Domenici to embarrass the Democrats before the election.
  • Perfectly OK to can John McKay who wouldn't bow to pressure from a Republican operative to challenge the squeaker election of Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire with allegations of voter fraud. None of those were mistakes.
So what were the mistakes? Getting caught at it. As conveyed to the Times' reporters by another unnamed Republican: “I think Rove and Bolten believe there is the potential for erosion of the president’s credibility on this issue.”

Mickeleh's Take: What Credibility?

More on memeorandum.com

(Tags: , , , , , )

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Administration Warns Scientists on Mentioning Polar Bears

For a giant carnivore, polar bears are awfully cute—cute enough to help sell Coke as a secular second banana to Santa. They're also cute enough to provide one of the most heartbreaking icons of the devastation of global warming—swimming to exhaustion and death as the distances between safe, solid patches of arctic ice continue to grow.

The plight of the exhausted polar bear swimming to death packs an emotional wallop that, weirdly, hits folks harder than the disruptions to the economic and cultural life of humans, or the starving of reindeer. There's a thesis in there -- or a fine column by a writer with more time and talent than I can bring to the issue.

Oh yes, and the plight of the polar bear is also the subject of a suit by environmental groups seeking to have it listed as an endangered species.

So, naturally, the Bush administration is finally doing something about global warming: The Fish and Wildlife Service is telling scientists not to mention the polar bears. According to Andrew C. Revkin in NYT, if the polar bears are officially listed as endangered it might force action on restricting greenhouse gases.

Americablog has the memo.
“Please be advised that all foreign travel requests (SF 1175 requests) and any future travel requests involving or potentially involving climate change, sea ice and/or polar bears will also require a memorandum from the regional director to the director indicating who’ll be the official spokesman on the trip and the one responding to questions on these issues, particularly polar bears.”
More on memeorandum.com

Mickeleh's Take: It serves those ungodly polar bears right for letting Coke recruit them into the secular war on Christmas.

(Tags: , , ,

Saturday, March 03, 2007

NYT: McCain, Giuliani, Romney condemn Coulter's Remarks

Adam Nagourney reports that three of the Republican candidates for the presidential nomination have put some distance between themselves and the remarks made by Coulter at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

The Edwards campaign is asking supporters to sending him "Coulter Cash." Their goal: raising $100,000.

McCain (through a spokesperson): "... wildly inappropriate..."
Giuiliani: "... "completely inappropriate... "
Romney (through a spokesperson): "... an offensive remark..."

Even more encouraging, many conservative voices at redstate.com are chiming in to condemn the remarks. Most of them are pragmatic condemnations ("this isn't helping the cause") rather than moral outrage. But it's a start.

Mickeleh's Take: Coulter has been skating on thin ice for years. It's time she fell through.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Coulter Pulls Yucks from CPAC by Calling Edwards a "http://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifFaggot"

It's called finding the level of the room. A weak comic working bluer and bluer until finally the laughs start coming. Ann Coulter found the level of the Conservative Political Action Conference with this line:
“I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot,’ so I — so kind of an impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards.”
Before Coulter took the podium Mitt Romney, whose strongest qualification is a square chin that makes Chris Matthews weak in the knees, said this:
“I am happy to hear that after you hear from me, you will hear from Ann Coulter. That is a good thing. Oh yeah!”
Video of both is up on Think Progress.

That Coulter makes a living from unholy hate speech, is an overplayed dog-bites-man bit of non news. What's essential to take from this event is that she makes said living from a depraved audience that applauds, approves, and draws energy from her antics.

Mickeleh's Take
: That Coulter would extend her string of hate-speech for laughs is to be expected. That the conservative base eats it up is to be remembered. That Romney is pandering to this crowd is to no avail. That C-SPAN broadcast this and that Memeorandumis abuzz with it is to flip on the kitchen lights see see the cockroach infestation in our home.

Dick Cheney Brings Us "An Inadvertent Truth"

Here in the last throes of the Cheney vice presidency we're getting some unexpected treats:

First, a game of good-cop-bad-cop where Cheney plays good cop and casts the Democrats as bad cop. Yes, the Democrats, relentlessly ridiculed as softies by Cheney, Rove, and the Wurlitzer, are now cast as the tough cops.
"Cheney's message to military ruler Pervez Musharraf: Bush and I may still love you guys, but those uptight Democrats in Congress are going to kick your ass unless you get serious about stopping Al Qaeda."
Second, an official White House news release in which an unnamed "senior administration official" pierces his own veil of secrecy by speaking in the first person:
"I've seen some press reporting says, 'Cheney went in to beat up on them, threaten them.' That's not the way I work."
And now, a new wrinkle on justifying the war in Iraq. A defense of the war crowned with a nugget of actual, if inadvertent, truth. Tim Grieve plucked this gem out of Cheney's address to CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee):
"In these circumstances, it's worth reminding ourselves that, like it or not, the enemy we face in the war on terror has made Iraq the primary front in that war. To use a popular phrase, this is an 'inconvenient truth.'"
Droll as ever, that Cheney. Cheney new line is a twist on an old favorite: We're fighting them in Iraq so we don't have to fight them in Afghanistan. But the inadvertant truth of Cheney's remark is this: The enemy of our success in the war on terror is an ideologically blinded administration that has poured resources into making Iraq a distracting front in that war, while allowing the Taliban and Al Qaeda to regroup, train, and prepare their surge in Afghanistan.

Before the towers fell, Bush was handed the famed daily brief, "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US." He ignored it. Fast forward to now: I wonder what bin Laden is determined to do these days. According Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA bin Laden unit (1993-1996), "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US with Nuclear Weapon." Alternet has video of Schuer's interview with Keith Olbermann.

Mickeleh's Take: The direct cost of the Iraq war in lives, dollars, and honor is enormous. The opportunity cost may be even higher.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Robert Greenwald: The Fox News Campaign Against Obama

Here's another fine example of the ongoing YouTubification of political discourse.



Robert Greenwald's Fox Attacks: Obama

Robert Greenwald, is extending his feature-length Fox News expose, Outfoxed with a series of short updates. This one focuses on a Fox smear campaigns against Sen. Obama (He smokes; his middle name is Hussein; he's not really black; he's madrassa educated.)

Fox is not a news organization, but is a propaganda organ of the White House and right wing. So far that hasn't dissuaded, the Nevada Democratic from working with Fox News to broadcast a presidential candidates debate. Moveon.org is petitioning the party to drop those plans.
More on Memeorandum.

Mickeleh's Take: Is there any downside to urging all Democrats to freeze out Fox and refuse invitations to appear on their shows?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Iraq: The New Strategy Is Different, says Newsweek

Atrios calls it "Iraq4Ever." According to Newsweek, strategy of Gen. Petraeus is not simply more of the same. It's definitely more. But it's different. And it isn't yet another version of "we'll fix it in six months." Says Newsweek:
To a degree little understood by the U.S. public, Petraeus is engaged in a giant “do-over.” It is a near-reversal of the approach taken by Petraeus’s predecessor as commander of multinational forces in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, until the latter was relieved in early February, and most other top U.S. commanders going back to Rick Sanchez and Tommy Franks. Casey sought to accelerate both the training of Iraqi forces and American withdrawal. By 2008, the remaining 60,000 or so U.S. troops were supposed to be hunkering down in four giant “superbases,” where they would be relatively safe. Under Petraeus’s plan, a U.S. military force of 160,000 or more is setting up hundreds of “mini-forts” all over Baghdad and the rest of the country, right in the middle of the action.
Mickeleh's Take: The word on Petraeus is that he's the top guy on counter-insurgency and that he's put together a "best and brightest" team of warrior-PhDs. Maybe he knows what he's doing. If so, why did it take so long before they gave him the assignment?

GQ Has Indictment Prepared for Cheney Impeachment

Yes, that GQ. Well, why not? I've been watching the same clip of fat, fat, Cheney in an ill-fitting wrinkled suit plonkity plonking down the stairway from his jet on Olbermann everytime they cover the Libby trial. It's been running for weeks.

You could get Cheney on fashion offences alone. But the article by Wil S. Hylton is a serious six-count indictment. And you don't even need to go to G.Q to read it. Truthout has it.

Mickeleh's Take: Add this to the "Cloud over the Vice President" that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald described in his summation on the Libby case (see Froomkin) and the third of Ari Emanuel's Three Predictions may be a good bet.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tools for Totalitarians? A Machine that Remembers Everything

[This article spans technology and politics, I've cross posted it in Mickeleh's Take.]

The Scooter Libby case goes to the jury today. It hinges on this question: did he lie to the FBI about how and when he learned about Mrs. Wilson, or was he innocently mis-remembering?

Apparently, we will soon have the technology to expedite trials like this. Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmell, in Scientific American, describe research they are doing at Microsoft on harnessing the technology to record everything.
Scientific American: A Digital Life [ INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ]
New systems may allow people to record everything they see and hear--and even things they cannot sense--and to store all these data in a personal digital archive
Storage is getting cheap. Processors continue to obey Moore's law. Network access is getting ubiquitous. Sensors of various types being embedded everywhere. (Carry a cell phone? Then you're carrying a microphone and a camera that know where you are. hmmm.)
Mickeleh's Take: Feds Using Cell Phones to Eavesdrop
...feds can download software to many kinds of cell phone and then have the ability to turn on the microphone and listen in. Even when the cell phone is turned "off."

Bell has amassed 150 gigabytes of data in six years, and his descriptions of what he can do with it make it sound really cool. Without a good overlay of intelligence and analysis, however, an archive of everything in our lives might turn all of us into clones of the Borges character Funes, the Memorious, who remembered everything but understood nothing.
Bell and Gemmell acknowledge that "the prospect that identity thieves, gossipmongers or authoritarian states could gain access to such records is frightening." And, with the optimism of every scientist in a fifties sci-fi movie, they seem assured that technologies can be tamed so as to minimize potential dangers. I wonder if Admiral (Total Information Awareness) Poindexter would agree.

Mickeleh's Take: "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear." [EVIL LAUGH]

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Jane Smiley on the Martial Law Provisions

Over on HuffPost, Jane Smiley expands on the martial law business urging support of the Leahy/Bond bill for repeal of the stealth-provisions.

Monday, February 19, 2007

To Engineer a Totalitarian Takeover,
First Appoint a Clown to Be President

Coincidence or not, the NY Times editorializes, today, on language that was slipped without debate into a defense budget bill to make it easier to declare Martial law and, at the same time, Salon publishes an excerpt from Joe Conason's book, It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush. The context is being carefully cultivated; perpetual war, recurring fears of attack ("over here"), erosion of Consitutional and legal rights, accusations that political opponents are "aiding," "comforting," or "emboldening" our enemies.

And the front man for all this, a goofy galoot who can't string two sentences together without creating a bit for Letterman, Maher, or Stewart. Our flavor of totalitarianism will feature not a dictator, but a decider.

Mickeleh's Take: I'd love to see an expose on how this language-slipping business actually occurs. Who is the cadre of bill-writers who sneak these bits of proto-totalitarianism into our body of law? Who pays them? Who commands them? And will it stop now that the Democrats are in charge?

Woid Asks: Where is the Actual Filibuster The Senate Can't Muster 60 Votes to End?

With visions of Jimmy Stewart's Mr. Smith talking to the point of collapse, Woid, over at DownWithTyranny! wonders how the Senate took a vote that failed to stop a filibuster that didn't seem to get started in the first place.
This past Saturday, the Republicans killed the pathetic non-binding resolution that would have told Bush that the Senate "disapproves" of his current escalation. Tut, tut, such language! The resolution was killed when Democrats were unable to muster the 60 votes to get cloture, and so stop debate.

Here’s my question: WHAT debate?

Where’s that juicy filibuster? Why didn’t we get to see Republicans standing up in opposition to the overwhelming will of the people to stop this war? (Not that the toothless resolution would have done anything like that...)
Mickeleh's Take: It's a juicy post about the lack of a juicy filibuster. Go ahead, click.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Juan Cole Gives Senate Iraq Vote a Glass-Half-Full Headline: "Senate Comes Close"

Once again, the Senate has voted not to debate a non-binding resolution that disapproves of the latest Bush escalation. Typical stress the negative: Debate Ends in Deadlock... Republicans block... GOP foils... Democrats fail... Republicans Succeed... etc. Bless Juan Cole for looking at the bright side:
The US Senate came very close to passing a resolution condemning Bush's escalation of the Iraq War. It needed 60 to pass and got 56. Several Republicans voted for the resolution. In fact, if only 4 more had, it would have passed. This vote is very bad news for Bush's Iraq policy, because it seems pretty likely that over the next few months, at least another 4 Republican senators will join the anti-war chorus.
Mickeleh's Take: The Bush and GOP strategy in the debate over ending the Iraq war is not to have it. By announcing a "surge," they've moved the perimeter and blocked the debate about "shall we end the war?" with a new debate, "shall we escalate?" And then, they work on blocking that one. They're already setting up the next debate, "shall we have a military strike against Iran?" They're being very clever. But the public is catching on. And the Democrats have not only found their voice, but they're setting the agenda in the House and Senate. The gravitational pull of the 2008 Senate elections will pull some Republicans out of the Bush orbit--or the public will pull some Republicans out of the Senate. Or both. The pull of the 2008 Democratic primaries will keep Clinton, Obama, Edwards, and all the rest focused on Iraq. (Clinton, taking heat for not denouncing her original vote to authorize the President to use force in Iraq, is trying to overcome it by proposing that withdrawal begin within 90 days.)

Meanwhile, the killing and maiming goes on.

(Tags: , , , )

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bush still giggling and chuckling about war

This isn't new or newsworthy. But it's cringeworthy and shameful every time. Our president, leader of the "free" world continues add a few heh-hehs to his answers about life, death, war, and surge. Happened again, yesterday during his press conference.

It's a perverse confirmation of Mel Brooks' famed definition of the difference between comedy and tragedy. "Tragedy is if I cut my finger. Comedy is if you walk into an open sewer and die."

Mickeleh's Take
: I'm waiting for Bush to do something really funny and give us all a laugh.

And a tip of the Mickeleh Yarmulkeh to Woid who sent me scurrying to correct the Mel Brooks quote. (Google is no good for these things, because there are as many sources who get it wrong as get it right. Above is from Kenneth Tynan in his New Yorker Profile of Brooks, Oct. 30, 1978, page 94.)

(Tags: , , , )

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Questions from Molly Ivins

What happened to the nation that never tortured? The nation that wasn't supposed to start wars of choice? The nation that respected human rights and life? A nation that from the beginning was against tyranny?

Where have we gone? How did we let these people take us there? How did we let them fool us?
--Molly Ivins (from her last column)

Molly Ivins was among the first to warn us about George W. Bush. While he was still the death-warrant happy Governor of Texas, she co-authored (with Lou Dubose) Shrub: the Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush, and then, as we went to war, Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America.

Throughout the Bush presidency she reported plainly and with sharp humor on the true and sorry state of our union. One of her themes was the Bush regime's systematic support of the powerful against the powerless. The week of her passing, Robert Pear in The Times carried forth on her mission by reporting that Bush has signed an executive order to insert political operatives into federal regulatory agencies for the purpose of hampering their ability to regulate.

Mickeleh's Take: I'll miss her voice, her humor, and her record of seeing and saying what so many journalists were unable or unwilling to report about Bush. That more and more people now see Bush for what he is and what he does is due in no small measure to Molly Ivins.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Kaplan Sketches The Dimensions of Our Current Long National Nighmare

Bush is certifiably delusional, but impeachment is off the table, because Democrats can't muster the kind of political will and outrage at a tragically misconceived war that Republicans could summon for a blowjob.

Marty Kaplan has a must-read Post in the Huffington. Kaplan is clean, articulate and bright. Nice-looking too.

Mickeleh's Take: Bush, Cheney, the corporate oligarchs they service, the fear-crazed yahoos they exploit, and the craven, unscrupulous communications engine that earns its bread by throwing sand in our eyes have conspired to kidnap the country I love. They've spirited it off to a very dark and dangerous place. So much has gone wrong that it is hard to keep all of it in mind. The people have taken back the Congress. But, as Kaplan articulates so cleanly, the forces of darkness still hold the country.

Technorati Found Poetry

I looked at the top tags on the Technorati home page this morning and they made more sense than usual.

Bush celebrates China
Comedy Democrats
Flickr gaming Iran
Mac money
Open-source opinion
SEO shopping Vista war
Windows, Windows, Vista
Women fashion foto

Mickeleh's Take: We may have a new doorway into the wisdom of crowds here.

(Tags: , , )

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Edwards Takes A Smart, Subtle Jab at Obama

John Edwards says he may have been too inexperienced to run in 2004. Hmm. Can anyone think of a prominent candidate who has even less experience in national politics today than Edwards had in 2004?

Mickeleh's Take:
Watch out for the boomerang on this one. Yes, Edwards just reminded me that Obama has even less experience on the national stage, but he also reminded me that Hillary has more.

(Tags: , , , , , , , )

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Preview: Linda Stone Hips HBR Readers to Continuous Partial Attention

Linda Stone, who is wise and savvy enough to have managed successful careers at both Apple and Microsoft, examines how our many channels of communication and our fear of missing out on something important messes with our minds. People who attend meetings while surfing and blogging on their laptops and answering email on their Blackberry's may be beyond parody, but they're all around us. They are us. Linda says too many of us live in a state of Continuous Partial Attention, that it's driving us to distraction. Literally. She advises that there are important opportunities in offering relief to a population drowning in its own split focus. Linda offers a concise overview of Continuous Partial Attention in the upcoming Harvard Business Review. HBR ranks CPA as #7 in its breakthrough ideas of 2007.

Mickeleh's Take: The article is short enough to take in even if you're drowning in CPA yourself, but it will reward giving it some focused time to digest and ponder. Linda suggests folks seek immersion in iPod as a refuge from CPA. Hmmm. If email, cell phones, and IMs are enticements to CPA, and the iPod is a relief, where does that put the iPhone? It's got 'em all. It may be an entire ecosystem of disease and cure. No wonder we're going crazy for it.

(Tags: , , , , , , )

Wingnutters Gearing Up to Swiftboat Hillary; Backed by Gil Amelio and an All-Star Cast

Bob Novak's new column brings news of some new hires at TheVanguard.org, a right-wing answer to moveon.org. Sharpening their knives for the '08 race, The Vanguard is bringing on Jerome Corsi (co-author of Unfit for Command, the anti-Kerry screed that led to the coinage of the verb "to swiftboat.") and Richard Poe, a Freeper who is already hard at work at swiftboating Hillary, having fired numerous salvos in print and online.

Backing this adventure in the politics of smear and fear is none other than former Apple CEO, Gil Amelio. Joining Amelio as an advisor to the TheVanguard.org is Jane Russell. Yes, that Jane Russell. Also advising are Dr. Jack Wheeler, whose modest bio begins, "The debt which America and the entire world owes Dr. Jack Wheeler is virtually immeasurable," Grover Norquist, whose goal is to get government "down to the size where we an drown it in the bathtub," and Dr. Marvin Olasky founder of "compassionate conservatism," the fraudulant mask that Bush wore to his first election.

Mickeleh's Take: The new venture is quite open about aping the success of moveon.org and staffing it with character assassins of proven effectiveness. Nothing like starting in the sewer and moving down from there.

More on DailyKos.

(Tags: , , , , , )

Thursday, January 25, 2007

And Then Nancy Said...

Kos reports on an exchange between Speaker Pelosi and President Bush, in which Pelosi reminds him that he's tried a troop surge twice before, and it didn't work. She asks why he thinks it will work this time. John Aravosis on Americablog has a better version, which is the one I'll quote here.
PELOSI: He's tried this two times — it's failed twice. I asked him at the White House, 'Mr. President, why do you think this time it's going to work?'

BUSH: Because I told them it had to.

PELOSI: Why didn't you tell them that the other two times?
Mickeleh's Take: Rimshot. Classic joke structure. Did it really happen that way? Hope so. Even if it didn't, it's a good joke. Except that it's joke on a horrible deadly mess whose only merits live in the dark, deluded minds of Cheney, McCain, and Lieberman. As for the Decider himself, a Groucho line from Duck Soup keeps popping into my head:
RUFUS T. FIREFLY:
Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Top Ten Best Things about Sen. Webb's Reply to SOTU

Here are ten reasons why the choice of Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) to reply to the State of the Union speech was inspired. (Here are the transcript and the video in case you missed it last night.)

1. Webb is a netroots candidate. He was backed by the people not the machine (as Kos fairly gloats this morning.)

2. He listed four areas where the Democrats were eager to cooperate with the administration, even though only three of them had actually shown up in Bush's address: The four: education, healthcare, energy independence and restoring New Orleans. That last one was the kicker. Bush, who told us from Jackson Square, "We will do what it takes," neglected to mention New Orleans last night.

2. He gave us two clear points of disagreement to focus on, not a laundry list.

3. The first of these points was the growing wealth gap between the very rich and the rest of us. The Republicans have not only been waging class warfare, but the Democrats have been reticent to point that out. Webb made it clear: "It takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day."

4. By stressing economic inequality he's clearly aligned with outspoken progressive candidates for president such as Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards. (Chris Matthews, always a bit slow on the uptake, continued to pigeon-hole Webb as a centrist, as does most of the punditry.)

5. The second major point was Iraq. And here, he blew past the current Bush revisionist history (we were making progress until 2006 when the bad guys blew up the Golden Mosque). Webb went back to the beginning and reminded us that the war was opposed by a long list of people with strong security credentials.
"...the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs."
6. He reminded us of his family's military service, establishing his authority to speak. His father flew in the Berlin Airlift, he and his brother both served in Viet Nam, and his son is currently in Iraq. His character established his ability to speak authoritatively.

7. He was unflinching in saying what needed to be done, in sharp contrast to the careful hedging and triangulation that is a hallmark of brand Hillary.

8. He invoked two Republican presidents to reinforce his main points: Eisenhower on ending the war, and Teddy Roosevelt on balancing the needs of Main Street against the greeds of Wall Street.

9. He asked for the order—from the President, not the viewers. Referring back to Eisenhower and Roosevelt, he said:
"These presidents took the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world. Tonight we are calling on this president to take similar action, in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way."

10. He didn't fidget.

Mickeleh's Take: President Bush will not take the kind of action that Webb asks him to take. So, Democrats, show him the way.

More: Taylor Marsh, Matt Stoller,

(Tags: , , , , , )

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

State of the Union: Credibility Shot, Bush to Speak from a Deep, Deep Hole

Here's the most important thing you can know about tonight's State of The Union Speech: Bush speaks tonight from an even deeper hole than the one from which we dragged Saddam's sorry self.

Bush approval ratings are the lowest yet; they haven't found a floor. His reputation is so shattered that anything he says, regardless of merit (and experience indicates there will be precious little of that), will immediately be discounted, derided, and dismissed--and not just by left loonies like me, but by a majority of listeners. Even a many Republicans in and out of Congress.

When the speaker isn't credible, neither is the speech. We learn this from Aristotle. (And who knows where he got it?) Aristotle, in Rhetorix, said there are three pillars for a persuasive speech: ethos (the character of the speaker), logos (rational appeal), and pathos (emotional appeal). Rational appeal has never been a strong suit for Bush. And the emotional appeal of all-fear-all-the-time has pretty much evaporated. Which brings us back to character.

Here's what Aristotle says about ethos (It's in the third paragraph of part 2):
Persuasion is achieved by the speaker's personal character when the speech is so spoken as to make us think him credible. We believe good men more fully and more readily than others: this is true generally whatever the question is, and absolutely true where exact certainty is impossible and opinions are divided. This kind of persuasion, like the others, should be achieved by what the speaker says, not by what people think of his character before he begins to speak. It is not true, as some writers assume in their treatises on rhetoric, that the personal goodness revealed by the speaker contributes nothing to his power of persuasion; on the contrary, his character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion he possesses. (emphasis mine)
It wasn't that long ago that Chris Matthews was driving the left blogosphere to distraction with repeated assertions that ""Everybody sort of likes the president, except for the real whack-jobs, maybe on the left." And, of course, we all remember this old chestnut, "Bush is the guy you'd rather have a beer with."
By the way, How come nobody ever thought it was odd to benchmark the appeal of a reformed alcoholic by asking him to have beers with everyone? Maybe nobody ever really liked him.
This time out the gate, even the main stream media acknowledges that Bush is not well liked, not well-respected, and is pretty much tapped out of that "political capital" he imagined the voters gave him after he beat Kerry in a squeaker.

Mickeleh's Take: This speech will be fun to watch. Don't miss the Democratic response from Sen. Jim Webb. Think Progress promises real-time fact checking throughout the speech.

(Tags: , , , , )

Monday, January 22, 2007

John Edwards Campaigned for Lamont in Connecticut, Clinton and Obama Had Other Priorities

Sen. Cantwell sent her supporters a mass email today thanking some of the folks who came to Washington to help her win re-election to the Senate. On her list: Sen. Obama, Sen. Reid, and Sen. Kerry. They helped keep her in the club, and I'm glad they did.

Lest we forget: All but Boxer offered endorsements to Ned Lamont, but couldn't find time to appear with him in Connecticut, helping to keep Lieberman in the club as well. Sen. Clinton sent Lamont a check, and met with him in New York, but didn't quite find her way over the border that separates New York and Connecticut. Her husband, Bill, on Larry King, said that whether Lamont or Lieberman won, "My view is Connecticut is an unmitigated blessing for the Democrats because Lieberman has said if he wins he's going to vote with us to organize the Senate."

But John Edwards had more than lip service to give Lamont. He showed up.



Mickeleh's Take: Contrary to Bill Clinton's expectation, the blessing turned out to be plenty mitigated: Lieberman continues to support Bush on Iraq.

I will remember that John Edwards, stood with Ned Lamont in opposition to the Bush-McCain-Lieberman strategy of endless war. Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton weren't ready to be so unambiguous. They're still not.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Flag Down on Hillary's Entry into The Race

Hillary's in. Terry McAuliffe, her campaign manager summarized her assets for The Sunday Times: "She has the name recognition, the money, the glitz, she’s got it all."

I don't trust her.

Friday I was having lunch with a friend. We were talking about the leaders in the field for the Democratic nominatin for president. When Hilary's name popped up, we both went to the flag issue. (In 2005, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) joined with Sen. Robert Benton (R-UT) to proposed a bill that would outlaw burning the United States Flag.)

One of the reasons that I love my flag is that it stands for free speech. It's flag that stands for my right to burn it. How cool is that?

I get that burning the flag is shocking, disturbing, and repellent. That's why it's a weapon of protest. It's free speech.

But a lot of people would like to see it outlawed. And Hillary wants their votes.

I don't know how many of them she got with her flag bill pandering. But she lost mine. And she lost my friend's.

Mickeleh's Take: Hillary may have the name recognition, the money, and the glitz. But she doesn't have it all. She doesn't have my respect.

(Tags: , , , , , )