Thursday, August 31, 2006

Followup comments on the Olbermann commentary

The Washington Note also has the transcript of Keith Olbermann's denunciation of Rumsfeld from last night plus a strong amen chorus in the the blog comments.

Earlier in the show, Keith interviewed Howard Dean. Keith's leading questions gave Dean a wide opening for an angry denunciation of the Rumsfeld speech. But Dean was wise enough to side-step a point-by-point refutation of Rumsfeld. Instead, he pointed out that Rumsfeld was denouncing, not just the Democrats, but a majority of the U.S. public--which sees that Iraq as separate from Al Qaeda. He also mocked the administration's political tactics as desperate.

While I loved the Keith tirade, and look forward to more from him--and others, I think Dean's approach is, in the longrun, more effective.

Here's the key: The Bush mystique burst with the levees in New Orleans a year ago. The Republicans are playing defense by getting more and more shrill and preposterous in their charges. I'm happy to see Keith continue to demolish their arguments. But I'm even more glad that Dean is simply pointing out that a majority of the public has already moved on.

As Bush famously stumble-mumbled... "Fool me once..."

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Keith Olbermann channels Murrow

I thank my sister for urging me to skip ahead on Moxi to the #1 story on tonight's Countdown. Keith corrects Rumsfeld's outrageous analogy between those who dissent from our current Iraq policy and those appeased Hitler. The apt analogy, says Keith, is between Neville Chamberlain and Donald Rumsfeld himself. And if there is a hint of fascism that must not be appeased, it is very close to home. This is Keith at his best.

I thank Crooks and Liars for posting the transcript. Please to click over and read it. Watch the video clip. And join the fight.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Dave Winer: Republicans for "Cut And Run"

Watching Republicans ooze away from the Bush "Stay the Course" madness in Iraq, Dave Winer has started a website to track Republicans for Cut and Run. He's looking for new submissions.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

NPR leads with Jon Benet Ramsey (Winer)

Dave Winer notes that (even) NPR is leading with the Jon Benet Ramsey story in their 11:00 am newscast. Sez Dave, "The third story, a plane crash in Ukraine, 170 people died, including 45 children."

Oops. And now, I'm leading with it. (Well, no. I'd prefer to think I'm leading with the meta-Jon Benet Ramsey story. Namely, why is the story kidnapping the news? Everywhere?)

Perhaps it's because JBR the perfect story for a world where news has devolved into Entertainment. High interest, low consequence. The story itself connects to nothing. (compare to the complexity of the middle east, with Muslim factionalism, secularism, Islamism--which is something more than Islam... or something less?-- European imperialism, oil, hegemony, Zionism, Christianity, terrorism all knit together in a stew that perpetually makes fools of the wisest among us. Compare to the intricacies of the Plame leak.)

Here's a creepy looking little girl killed. And a creepy looking little man confesses. Commercial networks get to turn their newscasts into el cheapo knockoffs of 'Law & Order,' and 'CSI.' Ratings bonanza? If one does it, they all need to do it.

OK, I get all that, but NPR? Whatever happened to counter-programming.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Reardon: The "Bush is an idiot" ploy is bad for Dems

Here's a head spinner: Kathleen Reardon in Huff Po thinks the "Is Bush an Idiot" seg on Scarborough last week, is a trick. It's a deliberate trial balloon intended to deflect the defectors. If right-wingers calling Bush an idiot can create a ahared POV between Republicans and Democrats, then right-leaning voters will have less reason to switch over and elect Democrats column. She says that anti-Bush rhetoric out of England simply means that Blair got the memo too.

Mickeleh's Take: If Reardon is correct, then Bush isn't the only idiot in town. If the voters targeted by this gambit fall for it, I can only refer them to the wit and wisdom of their president:
"Fool me once, [PAUSE] shame on [PAUSE] shame on you. [LONG PAUSE] Fool me... can't get fooled again."
Don't take me wrong on this, but I'm hoping that Reardon is being an idiot here.

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Joe won't quit when asked. Should Rummy?

On Face the Nation, not-the-Democratic candidate for Senate (Connecticut), Joe Lieberman, called for Don Rumsfeld to quit. Yep.

Hmmm. Lots of folks are asking Joe to quit. Is he gonna? If he really wants Rummy to stand aside, Lieberman should lead by example.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Blair: 'Feels betrayed by Bush'

Hot on the heels of Joe Scarborough's, "Is Bush an Idiot?" segment, comes word that Prime Minister Tony Blair (known to some as "Bush's Poodle") feels let down by our esteemed President.

An unnamed source is quoted in the Daily Mail: "We all feel badly let down by Bush. We thought we had persuaded him to take the Israel-Palestine situation seriously, but we were wrong. How can anyone have faith in a man of such low intellect."

The news here is not that Bush is a couple of cents shy of a nickel--surely nobody is just now getting around to noticing that--but rather that his press supporters and poodle are now willing to be heard saying so. For the public, the facade cracked in the aftermath of Katrina and all the King's women and all the King's men and all the King's puppeteers have not been able to put W back together again. It's as though an animatronic in Disney's Hall of President's has malfunctioned. (All forseen by the Fireside Theatre in We're all Bozos on this Bus and by Frank Baum in The W of Oz.)

Mickeleh's Take: Hey, Democrats, pile on in, the water's fine. Time to hit hard on how Bush is misleading the country and the world.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

How did Jon Benet Ramsey Kidnap Keith Olbermann?

Dave Winer asks what's the deal with Jon Benet Ramsey that the news of an arrest would take three-quarters of Countdown with Keith Olbermann, crowding out more significant news. (Dave wanted to hear something about, "How many Iraqis died yesterday? How many Americans died in Iraq? How's the Lebanon peace thing working out? What about the hysterical passenger on the flight from London to NY? Not one word on Countdown.")

I'd ask the question slightly differently: Doesn't MSNBC understand the Keith Olbermann brand? Doesn't MSNBC respect the Keith Olbermann audience? The network used to have a show that specialized in white women in peril. They noticed that Keith was a bright spot in their ratings and they reconfigured their lineup.

The whole world is upside down. Keith is covering Jon Benet Ramsey and Joe Scarborough is asking "Is Bush an Idiot?" He can't bring himself to say no.)

Dave Winer says that to repent, Olbermann should name himself Worst. Person. In the Woooorrrrrld

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Cross-posted to my Daily Kos Diary

Josh on CT-Sen... why is Joe doing so well in Q-poll

Joshua Micah Marshall notes the new Quinnipiac poll that has Lieberman ahead of Lamont among likely voters by 53% to 41%. Josh attributes some of this to Lieberman's continued presence in the media in the days immediately following the election, while Lamont took a breather. There might be something to that, but it's also important to look at trends. Lamont shows dramatic improvement in this poll compared to the Q-poll of July 20.

Among registered voters (the earlier poll didn't ask likely voters) here's the trend.

Aug: Lieberman 49%, Lamont 38%, Schlesinger 4%,
July: Lieberman 51%, Lamont 27%, Schlesinger 9%

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The best bit I've read so far on the terror plot

Kung Fu Monkey puts it in perspective. Not the perspective that Bush, Cheney, Lieberman, and the rest of the Mighty Wurlitzer would like to perpetuate ("Be afraid. Be very afraid."), but a realistic perspective. Seriously.

Monday, August 14, 2006

TimesOnLine: If this was a defeat, the Israelis must be praying for a lot more of them

Tim Hames in the Times (London) punctures Nasrallah's claims of victory for Hizbollah. He calls their victory, "one of a presentational character," and considers it bizarre that "Israeli politicians on both the hard Left and the hard Right appear to agree with the terrorists. All are profoundly mistaken."

It's as though we're all grading Israel on a curve, where an A+ is reserved for the Six Day War.

Instead, Hames urges us to look at what has changed strategically. The Lebanese government, which previouly declined to fulfill its obligations to control the southern region of its country is now engaged along with an international force and the backing of the Security Council.
If Ehud Olmert, the Prime Minister, had been told six weeks ago that Hezbollah would cease to be the principal militia in southern Lebanon by the beginning of September he wouldn’t have believed it possible.
Another measure of success, says Hames, is that Iran's role in backing Hezbollah and terror is now fully fleshed out.

He also acknowledges, as should we all, that the loss of life among Lebanese civilians with no connection to Hezbollah is, "a tragedy of the highest order."

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Sy Hersh: White House Interests in Israel vs. Hezbollah

It's been widely assumed that Israel and the neocon faction in the White House have had common interests in weakening Hezbollah. It's also been assumed that Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, and Iran have common interests in raising the terror activities against Israel.

It's easy to see the Israel vs. Hezbollah conflict as a proxy and beta test for U.S. vs. Iran.

Assumption and speculation is something we can all do. But what Seymour Hersh does is find people who know and are willing to spill. His latest New Yorker piece is online. It's granular and specific and worth close attention.

According to Hersch there was more than a common interest between the White House and the Olmert government, there were also cooperation in planning and intelligence. Hersh quotes an unnamed former U.S. intelligence officer:
“We told Israel, ‘Look, if you guys have to go, we’re behind you all the way. But we think it should be sooner rather than later—the longer you wait, the less time we have to evaluate and plan for Iran before Bush gets out of office.’ ”
It remains to be seen how significantly Israel has managed to degrade Hezbollah's ability to attack and harrass. But the past month has clearly shown the limits of an air war. Hersh writes:
The surprising strength of Hezbollah’s resistance, and its continuing ability to fire rockets into northern Israel in the face of the constant Israeli bombing, the Middle East expert told me, “is a massive setback for those in the White House who want to use force in Iran. And those who argue that the bombing will create internal dissent and revolt in Iran are also set back."
Vali Nasr, author of The Shia Revival tells Hersh that if the U.S. bombs the Iranian nuclear facilities, “you may end up turning Ahmadinejad into another Nasrallah—the rock star of the Arab street.”

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Newsweek: Rabbi Gellman mystified that Jews didn't back Joe

Newsweek online has a bizarre and infuriating perspective on the Lieberman loss. Rabbi Marc Gellman, blames the Jews—and one in particular:
He lost because Barbra Streisand's highly publicized contribution to Lamont and because of the number of Jews who hated Bush and the war more than they loved Joe. That's why he lost, and I don't get it...
This, of course, is the behavior of a self-hating Jew. If there's something you're unhappy about, blame the Jews. Now, when Mel Gibson does it, I can understand. Given his upbringing, Mel Gibson, when he's drunk, doesn't shock me with a little Jew-blaming. But the rabbi, I presume, was sober when he wrote this, and I presume he had a more pro-Jewish upbringing than Mel. So, why is he blaming the Jews?

And why blame Streisand? If there is a Jew to blame here, it's Lieberman. He brought this on himself

Rabbi Gellman goes on to profess that he's a little ferblonschet on the subject
I cannot understand why Joe's percentage of the Jewish vote was not in the high 90s instead of the 54-57 percent range (according to Lieberman’s campaign).
He's also "bewildered about why Jews do not support President Bush."

That's where you have to start on this--why Jews don't support Bush. Then we can work our way back to Joe.

The reasons not to support Bush are so numerous I can't remember them all anymore. I have to keep them written down on a little list and the list is too long to type in here: But let me mention a few: He gets a memo that Bin Laden wants to attack and ignores it. He's on vacation. He gets a warning that a big Hurricane is coming to New Orleans, he's not that interested. He's on vacation. He has Bin Laden trapped in the Tora Bora mountains, he let's him get away to start a war in Iraq. He's got a bunch of lawyers who say torture is OK up to a point. He goes around the law to initiate survellance. (And Rabbi, the issue is not the survellance, it's the going around the law.) He uses the Homeland Security Department for pork rather than protection. (I'm not sure how you feel about pork , rabbi, but in my house it's not kosher.) He appoints far right judges to the Supreme Court. He takes it on himself to issue signing statements that nullify the intent of Congress. etc. etc. In a minute I'm going to break into a chorus of Dayenu. If he had done any one of these things, it would be enough to oppose him.

Oh yes, and one more thing: The president and his henchmen are quick to say that anyone who disagrees with him hates America and supports the terrorists.

And that's what brings it back to Joe. Because Joe has become one of those henchmen. Saying if you disagree with me you're pro-terrorist is not an argument. That's dirty pool.

Joe has allowed himself to become a stick with which right wing Republicans can bash Democrats. That's why Hannity, Coulter, and Rove embrace him. And that's why many Jews oppose him.

But maybe Rabbi Gellman is right. Politics is not as important as having Jews stick together and support each other. I hope his conviction on that is strong. Because I want to test it by asking him to join me in supporting Russ Feingold for president.

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Another right-wing myth: We need illegal surveillance to stop terror

The right-wing big lie machinery is using the U.K terror plot as a proof-point for Pres. Bush's illegal warrantless surveillance tactics. Nuh-uh. Glenn Greenwald busts that lie wide open. Turns out the surveillance was legal and backed by warrants. And it worked.

M.J. Rosenberg: Dems must exploit Bush failure to prepare for liquid bombs

On TPM Cafe, MJ Rosenberg looks at the latest terror plot through a domestic political lens. The Dems need to remind the public that Bush has been asleep at the switch on protecting the homeland from terror. This is not only the right opportunity to do so, it may be the last. Do it or lose.

I agree. It's time to take control of the dialog. Prominent Democrats need begin calling the Bush administration to account for being as incompetent on terror as they've been on Iraq, Katrina, etc.

Otherwise, we're mired in a world in which, as Steve Young says, "everything that happens proves that Democrats are soft on terrorism."

Sign of encouragement: The official response to Bush's weekly radio address. Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor laid out the indictment:
"Our ports, borders and chemical plants remain unsecured, the person responsible for the 9/11 attacks - Osama bin Laden - is still on the loose, and North Korea and Iran continue to pursue their nuclear ambitions.

"We need a new direction. It's time for Washington to be tough AND smart about the threats we face. Americans deserve real security, not just leaders who talk tough but fail to deliver....

Our troops have performed heroically in Iraq, but the Administration's poor management has created a rallying cry for international terrorists. The poor management of the war has diverted our focus, our military and more than $300 billion from the war on terrorism. Our troops and people deserve better.
(tags: terror, Democrats, TPM, Bush)

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Daniel Levy in Haaretz: U.S. Neocons using Israel

Daniel Levy, a member of the Israeli diplomatic team in negotiating the Oslo accords, argues that the U.S. neocons, discredited in Iraq, are using the current Israeli action in Lebanon to write themselves "a ticket back to the ascendancy." Is the alliance between the neocons, the evangelicals, and the Israeli government really in the best interests of Israeli security?

"Israel does have enemies, interests and security imperatives, but there is no logic in the country volunteering itself for the frontline of an ideologically misguided and avoidable war of civilizations."

Witnessing the near-perfect symmetry of Israeli and American policy has been one of the more noteworthy aspects of the latest Lebanon war. A true friend in the White House. No deescalate and stabilize, honest-broker, diplomatic jaw-jaw from this president. Great. Except that Israel was actually in need of an early exit strategy...

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Friday, August 11, 2006

A closer look at how the White House politicizes terror

Larisa Alexandrova in Huffington Post takes a look at how well-briefed the White House and the Republican message-carriers were with a unified set of talking points to fire off the instant the London terror plot hit the news. Were the Republicans so eager to muffle the coverage of Lamont's victory that they tipped their hand and forced the Brits to move early and sloppily in making arrests? Alexandrova points to White House press secretary Tony Snow's remarks that came a day before the rest of us heard about the plan to bring down transatlantic flights: Snow accused Democrats of raising "a white flag in the war on terror." Cheney had similar remarks.
Is it possible that the White House, eager to score political points with the American radical right (note, not actual Republicans, those having jumped ship eons ago), actually blew yet another classified program by yapping to reporters and talking point crafters? In my opinion, yes.

In my opinion it was despite the Bush administration that the Brits managed to still secure the alleged plotters, not as a result of White House help in the matter.

CNN: Lamont is the Al Qaeda candidate?

From Think Progress, a clip showing CNN anchor Chuck Roberts posing this question to a guest: "... might some argue, as some have, that Lamont is the al Qaeda candidate?"

Here's what I would argue:
  1. Bush and the Republican party of fear have demonstrably benefited from Al Qaeda--including a 2004 pre-election tape from Osama himself that helped tip a tight election to Bush.
  2. It was Bush who diverted U.S. military resources away from hunting down Osama to pursue the fiasco in Iraq, which not only allowed Osama to continue, but also created a new haven and training ground for Al Qaeda in Iraq.
  3. It was British police work, not Bush military interventions that foiled the most recent plot.
  4. Chuck Roberts and CNN are strong candidates for positioning themselves as the second-string Carl Rove media outlet, behind Fox News.
  5. Roberts, and CNN owe Lamont, the Connecticut Democrats who nominated him, and the country an abject apology.
It is beyond arguing that this was an outrageous unsubstantiated echo of talking points that come straight from the Republican ministry of propaganda.

(tags: CNN, Lamont, Al Qaeda)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bill Press tells it straight

The mainstream press still hasn't broken the habit of echoing Republican talking points uncritically and unchallenged. Every reporter and editor should go to school with this post from Bill Press.

Ramping up

Sorry, it's taken so long to get this side of the blog active. When I started blogging, it was mainly political. Then tech and media (my profession) crept in and shoved the news and politics aside. I decided to split the blog, but have not tended this side of it at all.

But let's start with this great quote from Jane Hamsher on Lieberman:
I realize there was a window when it was necessary to give Joe some graceful exit room, but he’s not taking it. He’s barricaded himself in his bubble of wounded delusion, refusing to answer the hotel door when Chris Dodd came a-knockin’ while staring into that magic mirror which whispers to him he’s a Great Man.
It has to be a top Democratic priority to get Lieberman to drop out. He's doing nothing but serving Republican purposes and his own ego by running. I'm encouraged by how quickly key Democrats have closed ranks with Ned Lamont. But it's by no means unanimous. Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colorado) is still backing Joe.

As a three-way, Connecticut race will continue to suck oxygen from all the other critical races that Democrats need to win to regain Congress. Go, Joe, Go. And I wish you'd start now.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006