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. 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.

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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.)

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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.