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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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,

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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.

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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.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

WH Correspondents Wimp Out, Proving Moyers Correct

For the first time in memory, last year's White House Correspondent's dinner had some relevance to our national dialog thanks to the merciless skewering that Steven Colbert gave the press and the president. Video (Colbert starts about 51 minutes in) Transcript.

As if to prove Bill Moyers correct about the plantation mentality that has seized the press corps, this year the White House Correspondents Association has invited Rich Little to lay a little pablum on us.

Mickeleh's Take: The press continues to pretend that it's not the story. But in fact, it's inability or unwillingness to actually tell the story is chapter one of the story. I salute WHCA for making that clearer than ever.

More at Memeorandum.com

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Leahy Says Gonzales Testimony is "Alice in Wonderland"

Which is a terrible insult to Lewis Carroll.

Challenged in the Senate about the Administration's readiness to ignore the constitutional guarantee of habeas corpus, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales answered this way:
Gonzales: I meant by that comment that the Constitution doesn't say that every individual in the United States or every citizen has or is assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn't say that. It simply says that the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended.

Get it. All the constitution says is that the right can't be suspended. It never said who, if anybody, actually has that right.

Mickeleh's Take
: Alberto (it's not torture if the president says it's not) Gonzales is a weaselly wiseguy of the highest order. (I'll refrain from saying, "in other words, he's a lawyer." I'll just say, "in other words, he's working for the Bush White House.")

More at Memeorandum

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Bill Moyers: On the Consolidation of Media and How We Can Fight It

Rich Binell emailed a Kos Diary by Delicate Monster that includes excerpts from last week's Bill Moyers address to the National Conference of Media Reform.

I've embedded the Moyers speech in this post. It's well-researched, well-reasoned, well-written, and inspiring.

Please, play it. It's worth an hour of your time.

Moyers talks about how media consolidation has fostered a plantation mentality that has turned mainstream reporting into a docile stenography pool content to parrot the propaganda of the establishment without question.

Moyers tells it straight. No pablum. He scares us. He challenges us to fight back. And he shows us the way.

I think you should hear what he has to say.

Nevertheless, it's a hopeful, inspiring speech, pointing to a future where the internet empowers us all of us become story-tellers.

"We've got to get alternative content out or this country's going to die of too many lies."




Bill Moyers at NCMR 2007 -- Part 1


Bill Moyers at NCMR 2007 -- Part 2


Mickeleh's Take: What is hopeful is that despite the drumbeat of propaganda, the public sees through the White House spin. What is terrifying is that for years following the 9-11 attacks neither the public nor the media bothered to. What happened in November was that some Republicans were defeated and some Democrats were elected. But Bush is still in the White House. The cominant media companies are still fighting to kill the badly named "net neutrality" principle. The main stream media shows signs of stirring, but it is not yet awake. There's work to do.

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PleaseSend Money to Firedoglake If You Can

I haven't been posting here for a while, so I don't know who will see this. But I want to pass it along just in case. Jane Hamsher and the gang and firedoglake.com have proven to be the go-to resource for understanding the arcana of the Scooter Libby case. Now that the trial has started we need them more than ever.

Turns out they need us more than ever, too. If you can spare a bit, please do so.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Jack Bauer's Job Is To Keep Us Terrorized. Boycott 24

If it weren't for the blood and the stabbings, and the screaming and the killing people by biting their throats out and the children in jeopardy and the suicide bombers detonating all over the country and the killing your best friend and nuking L.A., this would be a pretty funny show.

As it is, it's just an audio-video fear extravaganza, a pumped-up version of the terror alert color-charts that used to be trotted out to keep us scared and the Bush poll numbers up.

I've watched my last four hours of this Fox propaganda fest. Bad Muslims everywhere. Even the good-guy hero Muslim is a mass murderer.

If that's your idea of a good time, you're welcome to it.

Mickeleh's Take: Bauer may work for CTU, but Kiefer works for Rupert. And I say the hell with them both. They are doing evil. Include me out.

Monday, January 08, 2007

In New York. I smell the smell. My friend Jack smells a rat

Jack emails me to ask:
Who else entertained the idea that the suspicious odor in New York air and the dead birds on the streets of Austin were just a little something--courtesy of Uncle Sam--to provide us with a jolt of fear? After all, Bush speaks of his build up tomorrow and we will all be reminded that it's better to fight them over there than over here.


Mickeleh's Take: Where I'm working today in mid-town Manhattan, people are still more worried about their email disappearing because of computer viruses. New Yorkers are hardy folks. But what the hell have we been breathing all day?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

For Jefferson and Liberty. And The Koran

This one is too delicious times two. When Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress announced that he wanted to take his oath of office holding a Koran, he was pounced on as un-American by some folks whose understanding of the the Constitutional guarantee of religious freedom is tenuous at best—including Rep. Virgil Goode. First, it turns out that the Library of Congress will make available a copy of the Koran that was once owned by Thomas Jefferson. Second, it turns out that the Jefferson estate, Monticello, is in Rep. Goode's district.

We go out on that? No. We do reprise of song. That help.

Song? Yes.

In 1880, Thomas Jefferson ran against John Adams, one of Bush's predecessors in assaulting the Constitution and American ideals. In Adams's case it was the Alien and Sedition Acts.

This was, it goes without saying, pre-netroots, pre-TV, and even pre-radio. But it was not pre-jingle.

Jefferson and Liberty is, perhaps, America's first true campaign song. The Lyrics are by Robert Treat Paine Jr. In reading the opening stanza, it's hard to imagine that Paine had no knowledge of the excesses of the Bush regime and such Bush apologists as Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter.
The gloomy night before us flies; The reign of terror now is o'er
No gags, inquisitors, and spies; The herds of harpies are no more
The song rejects the "fiery bigot's holy laws," and promises
Here, free as air's expanded space, To every soul and sect shall be;
That sacred privilege of our race, The worship of the Deity.
Chorus:
Rejoice, Columbia's sons, rejoicel To tyrants never bend the knee
But join with heart, and soul and voicel For Jefferson and Liberty.


The song is included in Oscar Brand's Presidential Campaign Songs: 1789–1996. You can hear a snip of it at Amazon.


Mickeleh's Take
: Even in at the turn of the 19th century, consultants recycled limited their ideas and worked for anyone who paid them. Four years earlier, Paine had penned "Adams and Liberty" on a commission from the Massachusetts Charitable Fire Society. Well, maybe it was an honest conversion. I guess you could say that Paine was for Adams before he was against him. As for me, I look forward to singing a rousing verse or two of Jefferson and Liberty to cheer the current White House incumbent on his way. I will sing even louder when "the herds of harpies are no more."

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Monday, January 01, 2007

BBC: Bush to send more troops; talk sacrifice

A "senior official" is doing the prep-work for the long-postponed Bush plan for the next phase of our Iraq fiasco. Justin Webb of the BBC confirms that Bush plans to escalate in Iraq. Central theme of the speech is one that Bush has strenuously avoided since the beginning of the War: sacrifice. Now that U.S. service deaths have hit the 3000 mark, the White House if finally willing to acknowledge that some sacrifice is going on. And while the public has clearly concluded that it's time to curtail the sacrifice, the White House is ready to ask for more.

Webb reports "The exact mission of the extra troops in Iraq is still under discussion, according to officials."

Mickeleh's Take: The strategy may be under discussion, but the mission is clear: they're being sacrificed in order to allow Bush to continue evading the reality of the awful fiasco he has created in the name of the United States of America. For Bush, leaving equals losing, and that he will not do. And please, it's not a "surge" or a "boost." It's an escalation. It's the McCain-Lieberman strategy.
Here are some folks who will discourse on this at greater length and with more citations:

Devilstower
on Kos
Jane Hamsher on Firedoglake
David E. Sanger, Michael R. Gordon and John F. Burns in The New York Times

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