Friday, June 29, 2007

Something Light for a Saturday Night - Macswain Version

Since I'm heading out with the family for a night of camping, my submission is early.

Here's a song and video that takes me back to the days when I was deep into The Specials, The Clash, The Untouchables, The English Beat, etc.

It's Tim Armstrong (of Rancid) teaming with - WTF? - Skye Sweetnam for Into Action.

Mr. M - the night's on you. You better rock the house while I'm gone.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Another Hundred

For the third straight month, coalition troop deaths have exceeded 100.

Who will be July's 100?

One thing we do know ... none will be related to George Bush or Dick Cheney.

Why Democrats Can't Work With Bush --- He'll Screw Ya Everytime

Josh posts this video of President Bush decrying the second failure at Immigration Reform legislation on "Congress." Not the Republicans in Congress, not on his failure to muscle any meaningful support from his party but just on "Congress."

He knows full well that with Democrats holding slim majorities in both houses that this criticising just criticizing "Congress" carries with it the misleading notion that the failure on immigratiuon reform is the Democrats' fault - those people who once again reached across the divide to support Bush's compromise legislation that contained a putrid pro-corporation guest worker program that contained no path toward citizenship. They did so because of the more humane treatment the legislation provided for many of the illegal immigrants than exists under the status quo.

Once again, the Democrats got burned by Bush.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bizarre Nutter Idea of the Day: Build the Israeli Wall on the Mexican Border

This post has been cross posted at the much better site - Comments From Left Field - where I participate in a group blog. If you like anything on this site, I would encourage you to check out CFLF for more content with greater analysis. Thanks for stopping by.

Rightwing immigration nutter extraordinaire - Ace of Spades - has come up with the nuttiest idea of the day.

He wants to build a wall that would stretch the entire 2,000 mile border between Mexico and the U.S. that would be in the nature of the biggest portions of the wall Israel is building on its border with Palestine.

Here are the details of what the wall would include:

a layer of razor wire, a trench to stop cars, the actual wall (including electronic sensors, radar, etc. so that the army could tell when it was breached), a dirt road that would evidence footprints of would-be crossers, an asphalt road for quick deployment to areas where crossing had been detected, and another layer of barbed wire

Because the Israel Defense Ministry claims it only costs $2 million per kilometer, the nutters estimate that our wall will only cost $6,280,0000,0000. Pocket change to nutters who believing in wasting $100 billion a year on a vanity war.

To bolster his argument, Ace (an unsightly man with an odd attraction to mocking others' looks) posts a graph showing an increase in successful interception of attacks that coincides with "IDF Presence in PA, Fence Construction Begins."

So I decided to engage the nutters and posted this comment:

There are so many twists of logic here it's hard to know where to begin --- Do you really believe American contractors can do this work for that price - presumably without immigrant labor?

Do we really want such a structure with the very few checkpoints Israel allows - it has put a huge constraint on legitimate Palestinian business with Israel? Do we really want a similar constraint on legitimate Mexican business?

But I like the graph. It shows you don't really have to spend all that money as the decrease in attacks coincides with "beginning construction." Thus, I propose an unfunded mandate on all the border States to "begin construction" on a wall.

Oh, what a silly little man.

Let's see how this goes.

UPDATE: I didn't expect the link at Crooks & Liars to this post (thanks, C Dog!). In any event, anyone interested in more detail about how nutty the wall idea is should read this report from the Houston Press. Building a wall isn't just a matter of the cost of construction. As the report makes clear there are tons of other costs - condemnation, accomodations for irrigation from the Rio Grande and the destruction of wildlife habitat, just to name a few. Of course, the nutters have completely failed to account for these costs which makes it as viable as the equally nutty idea of installing a 2,000 mile bug zapper for humans or a Star Wars missile defense shield.

Language Creep

As of late, the Bushies have been noticeably spinning virtually all military actions in Iraq as being against Al Qaeda and attributing most of the violence to Al Qaeda. The media has dutifully followed along uncritically reporting this spin.

Here's General Batiste on this language creep:

I also believe we cannot attribute all the violence in Iraq to al-Qaeda. There's a tendency now to lump it all together, and call it al-Qaeda. We have to be very careful with that. This is a very complex region. al-Qaeda is certainly a component. But there's larger components. al-Qaeda is a worldwide organization. It recognizes no national boundaries. And it's in areas where we ought to be focused.

The Right's Big Lies About Talk Radio

Last week's release of The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio, a joint report and statistical analysis prepared by the Center for American Progress and FreePress had the blogs buzzing about the reasons for the massive rightwing bias on the radio.

How bad is the tilt. Here's one key 'graph from the study:

Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk is broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk -- 10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk.

A separate analysis of all of the news/talk stations in the top ten radio markets reveals that 76 percent of the programming in these markets is conservative, and 24 percent is progressive, although programming is more balanced in markets such as New York and Chicago.

As for the reasons, Conservatives predictably have rallied to claim the disparity is merely the result of the market or, more specifically, public demand.

For a snippet of the debate, Crooks & Liars posted this video clip of a back-and-forth between Michael Smerconish and Ed Schulz.

You can actual boil down the Righty argument to the following formula:

Public Demand (Ratings) = Ad Revenue = Corporate Profits = Show Selection

This simplistic theory is so full of wholes that if a college econ student submitted it as a paper he'd get an "F" at any name college other than the University of Chicago.

The big problem is large group or corporate ownership over radio. Corporations are first and foremost interested in pursuing profits but are not so stupid as to view ad revenue as the sole source of corporate profits from radio. Corporations understand that there are indirect routes toward profits; that's why they give tons of money to political campaigns. As Matt Yglesias pointed out this week, media behemoth GE gave $807,282 to Republicans and just $474,118 to Democrats. Was there a direct profit from this? No. Was it profit motivated? Yes, GE certainly hopes it leads to favorable regulation and legislation empowering it to make greater fortunes.

Once you understand the simple concept that corporations are smart enough to understand that they make greater profits by affecting the regulatory and legislative processes, it is just as easy to understand that they have profit-motivated reasons for affecting public opinion that, like politicians, can impact these processes. Corporations understand, and factor in, the fact that right wing radio with a corporate friendly message makes them more indirect money than progressive radio with a corporate accountability message.

This is not only done through programming decisions by ownership but by corporations through their decisions in spending advertising dollars.

Turning over control of the public airwaves to profit-motivated corporations is problematic for the public. The public airwaves belong to us all and should be distributed in a fashion that more proportionately represents all voices. A return to the Fairness Doctrine and requirements for greater local control and less consolidation of the airwaves in the hands of giant corporations is what is needed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Costs of War: Psychological Trauma to the Children

Violence begets violence.

The Washington Post has a must read on the psychological trauma being exacted on the children of Iraq as a result of the war.

Iraq's conflict is exacting an immense and largely unnoticed psychological toll on children and youth that will have long-term consequences, said social workers, psychiatrists, teachers and aid workers in interviews across Baghdad and in neighboring Jordan.

"With our limited resources, the societal impact is going to be very bad," said Haider Abdul Muhsin, one of the country's few child psychiatrists. "This generation will become a very violent generation, much worse than during Saddam Hussein's regime."

Even when factoring the positive aspect of Saddam's demise, the war as a whole has been a huge human rights catastrophe.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Something Light for a Saturday Night

Mr. M kicked off our weekly foray with a clip of Jamie Foxx destroying some guy's career (the dude who takes the screwing has to try to be gracious but his expression and body language betray the fact that he's seething) and a second clip of Connor Oberst's great homage to our President.

I'm taking a different tack ... twisted!!! Here's the music video for Fluorescent Adolescent from one of my current faves The Arctic Monkeys. It's extremely violent but hard not to watch all the way through.

Oddly, the clowns remind me of the Baseball Furies.

To redeem myself, I, like M, am following up with a second video. A gem from where you might least expect it. Remember The Cardigans and their sappy and annoying superhit from 1995, Lovefool? I hate that song. Then, in 2005, they released a little noticed album. Yet, one tune on that album with one of the greatest song titles ever gained attention through still growing internet and satellite play. Here's I Need Some Fine Wine and You, You Need to Be Nicer:

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Bush Reaches New Low


He now only has Richard Nixon's low of 23% to beat.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The 'Eaters Dramatic Comeback Puts Them In Final Four

Tonight's College Baseball World Series game between powerhouse Arizona State and the upstart Anteaters of UC Irvine was a classic.

The all-pitching, light-hitting 'Eaters rallied for 4 runs in the Eighth inning off of ASU's lights-out closer. They then won the tension-filled game in the bottom of the tenth.

The 'Eaters will next be facing the defending champion Oregon State Beavers.

Rumor has it that one of the writers at Comments From Left Field is an Irvine alum.

Rocky Delgadillo: Nobody's Above the Law (Except My Wife & I)

THE LA Times has the full story on the scoff law activities of LA's Democratric District Attorney (you know the one who demanded that the book be thrown at Paris Hilton).

Apparently, when his wife damaged a city-owned vehicle while driving with a suspended license, he covered it up and passed on the damages to the taxpayers.

Read all the constant-changing spin and excuses coming from Rocky and his office. It's the kind of stuff a prosecutor would mock from any other defendant.

It should be the kind of stuff that ends this guy's job as District Attorney.

Culture of Corruption Roster

We've had some recent movement in the culture of corruption roster. Senator Ted Stevens and his son Ben, the former President of the Alaska State Senate, are both under grand jury investigation. J. Steven Griles, a top Bush administration official in the Departmment of Interior, is being sentenced today for obstruction of justice. But as we know, all that should pale in comparison to the story that deserves big headlines every three months, the charges of corruption by DEMOCRAT William Jefferson.



J. Steven Griles (Bushie; Dept of Interior) - GUILTY
Scooter Libby (White House) - GUILTY
Rep. Bob Ney - GUILTY
Rep. Duke Cunningham - GUILTY
Gov. John Rowland - GUILTY
Gov. George Ryan - GUILTY
James Tobin - GUILTY
David Safavian (White House) - GUILTY
Jack Abramoff - GUILTY
Ken Lay - GUILTY
Jeff Skilling - GUILTY
Tommy Noe - GUILTY
Michael Scanlon - GUILTY
Neil Volz - GUILTY
Claude Allen (White House) - GUILTY
Adam Kidan - GUILTY
Chuck McGee - GUILTY
Allen Raymond - GUILTY
Tony Rudy - GUILTY
Mitchell Wade - GUILTY
Gov. Ernie Fletcher
Rep. Tom Delay
John Colyandro
Jim Ellis
Shaun Hansen
Warren RoBold
Dusty Foggo
Brent Wilkes

Sen. Ted Stevens
Alaska State Senator Stevens
Rep. Jerry Lewis
Sen. Conrad Burns
Gov. Bob Taft
Nine Fingers
Ed Buckham



Brent Pfeffer - GUILTY
William Jefferson

Monday, June 18, 2007

Winning Hearts

CBS's Lara Logan has this great story from Baghdad of American troops' discovery and rescue of a bunch of orphaned special-needs kids.

The 24 boys were naked, starving and chained to their beds.

A big hat tip to the good guys and let's hope the publicity of this story gets these placed with those willing to give them care and compassion.

Dana Perino's Big Hands

One of the big stories today is the House Oversight Committee's Report on the use of political e-mail accounts by White House staff in violation of the Presidential Records Act. Here are some tidbits:

In March 2007, White House spokesperson Dana Perino said that only a “handful of officials” had RNC e-mail accounts. In later statements, her estimate rose to “50 over the course of the administration.” In fact, the Committee has learned from the RNC that at least 88 White House officials had RNC e-mail accounts.

... The RNC has preserved 140,216 e-mails sent or received by Karl Rove. Over half of these e-mails (75,374) were sent to or received from individuals using official “.gov” e-mail accounts. Other heavy users of RNC e-mail accounts include former White House Director of Political Affairs Sara Taylor (66,018 e-mails) and Deputy Director of Political Affairs Scott Jennings (35,198 e-mails). These e-mail accounts were used by White House officials for official purposes, such as communicating with federal agencies about federal appointments and policies.

... There has been extensive destruction of the e-mails of White House officials by the RNC. Of the 88 White House officials who received RNC e-mail accounts, the RNC has preserved no e-mails for 51 officials.

The Bush Administration has put more effort into the War on Transparent Government than it ever did into capturing or killing Osama Bin Laden.

Apparently, they've got a lot to hide.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Peaking Behind the Media's "Paris Hilton "Curtain

I've refrained from talking about the Paris Hilton saga mainly because it distracts from discussions about the real problems that exist in our criminal justice system, i.e. that the poor often do not receive adequate representation with the result being disproportionate sentences and even innocent people being sent to jail regularly. The Innocence Project has been using DNA evidence to free hundreds of the wrongly convicted. Innocent people convicted on circumstantial or negligible evidence will serve their sentences as virtually all post-conviction resources are directed to death penalty cases.

I was wrong in ignoring this story because, with the public attention surrounding it, it provides a good vehicle for raising the issues I point out above.

Many of the problems with our criminal justice system are the result of public misperception. That's why I want to applaud the LA Times for its story pointing out what virtually every judge and lawyer in the country already knows --- Paris Hilton will serve more time than the average person would for the same offense. The article notes thata fter 4 days Hilton served more time than 60% of those who committed the same offense and that, after 23 days, she will have served more time than 80% of those who committed the same offense. I am willing to bet that the 20% who serve longer than 23 days have aggravating circumstances that are not present in Paris' case; that is unless you consider being a spoiled brat a punishable, aggravating circumstance. Further, the story notes: "[Hilton] is believed to be the first inmate in years who actually was sent back to jail to serve more of her term." In other words, Paris Hilton is being singled out because of the publicity of her case and is not, as the media created myth has it, being treated just like everyone else.

The injustice to Paris, who after all is undeniably guilty, is slight in my mind compared to the ten year sentence (with two already served) given to Genarlow Wilson for doing what probably half off all Americans have done or to the eleven innocent men who served years in prison as the result of an ultra-aggressive prosecutor from Dallas, Texas, before being cleared by DNA evidence (why isn't the right going after this prosecutor given the zeal they have for going after Mike Nifong for his decision to charge the Duke Lacrossers?)

However, it doesn't take much to know that this story has more angles than the spoiled rich kid who has to serve time for her crime. There is the posturing of Los Angeles Democratic District Attorney who is playing this for political publicity while masking the true problems LA has with prison overcrowding. There is the Judge who certainly knows he is abandoning the normal course because he is either too cowardly to admit publicly what normally occurs with such cases or is intentionally grandstanding to portray himself as a tough law and order judge, probably a bit of both. There are the sadists in the media who love getting pictures of of people dragged about in handcuffs and thrown into jail so that they can whip up ratings or newspaper sales.

California, and virtually every other state, have a problem. The public wants jail or prison sentences imposed on other people for virtually every crime, but doesn't want to pay for the jails or prisons necessary for all these folks. Someone should have the courage to raise these issues honestly with the public.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Build It & They Will Come

Looks like there is news out of Iraq that the Imam al-Askari mosque in Samarra was attacked and seriously damaged again. Here's the NYT's report.

Progressive America

Here's a report showing what most of us have long understood. When Americans are polled on the issues, they are generally progressive.

Yet, consistently in polls, only about 20% of Americans self-describe themselves as liberals.

To me the answer for this discrepancy is obvious. For years, Republicans have engaged in a PR war against liberals. They have been aided and abetted by the corporate media where it is rare for a liberal voice to be heard (see, for example, Media Matters' latest report on CNN's complete exclusion of liberal voices from its immigration coverage) and that time and again misportrays liberals or appoints representatives for us that really don't represent us.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Romney's Principles: Black Is Red

Here's the quote of the day on the unprincipled one:

"If someone comes in the door and says, ‘Mitt, black is white,' he'll say, ‘Oh, no, black is black or black is red.'He never takes anything at face value; he can argue any side of a question. And sometimes you think he's like really believing his argument, but he's not. He just flushes the whole thing out and figures out the whole picture."

That quote comes from Mitt's wife Ann. Ouch!!! I guess that's what happens when you have to try and cover flip-flopping as just a matter of playing Devil's Advocate.

Barney Frank has a more direct way of making Ann's point:

"The real Romney is clearly an extraordinarily ambitious man with no perceivable political principle whatsover. He is the most intellectually dishonest human being in the history of politics."

Friday, June 08, 2007

Poland & Romania Hosted CIA Secret Prisons

TPM Muckraker has the latest on the confirmation that Poland and Romania hosted secret CIA prisons.

Apparently some in Poland and Romania still have fond memories of their days behind the Iron Curtain.

Assault: "It's O.K. If You're A Republican" Version

Here's the video of Alabama State Senator Charles Bishop assaulting another Senator.

When there's a fight in an NBA game, many Righties love to call for lengthy suspensions or even expulsions of the players involved and that's even when there is a sincere apology.

Let's see what happens when the "thug" involved is a Republican politician. Who much of his pay should he lose? How long should he be suspended from his job?

Back to the Status Quo on Immigration

The Grand Immigration compromise has gone down to defeat. The result is largely the fault of President Bush to deliver the votes of Republican Senators in Congress - just 7 voted in favor of cloture. He didn't expend any political capital or engage in any of the hardcore arm-twisting he did in the past with legislation to restrict habeas corpus, etc.

I have mixed feelings on the defeat. The legislation provided a road to citizenship - albeit with more hurdles than I favor - for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants curently in the U.S. In that respect, it was a good first step.

The legislation was horrible in not providing a road to citizenship in its guest worker program. People who come here and do some of the hardest work deserve a path to citizenship once they've established a record as a good, law abiding resident.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Today, we surpassed 3,500 dead American troops in Iraq.

Who will be June's 100 plus soldiers to pay the cost of Bush's vanity war? Righties need not worry. You won't see their caskets or funerals and you're not likely to hear their stories or the stories of the pain and loss being felt by their families and friends.

Kevin Drum recently warned against focusing on troop deaths as part of the redeployment argument and urged a focus instead on broad national interest. I think understanding the costs of the war are critically important and can and should be considered as one part of the broader discussion against this war that also includes the detrimental impact it is having on our national interests.

Is Mitt Romney Dumb or Just Playing Dumb to Court the Conservative Base?

Mr. M at Comments from Left Field (where I cross-post) has put up an excellent recap of last night's Republican debate. In it, he notes Romney's awkward dodge on an audience question about the apparent inconsistency of calling for English as the official language while putting out Spanish language campaign ads.

During a debate in which the candidates apparently planted cheering supporters, Romney's dodge was so obvious it apparently brought an uncomfortable silence.

In reviewing the transcript, Romney was even worse in his answer to a question as to whether the Iraq War was a mistake. He said:

Well, the question is, kind of, a non sequitur, if you will. What I mean by that — or a null set — that is that if you're saying let's turn back the clock and Saddam Hussein had opening up his country to IAEA inspectors and they'd come in and they'd found that there were no weapons of mass destruction, had Saddam Hussein therefore not violated United Nations resolutions, we wouldn't be in the conflict we're in. But he didn't do those things, and we knew what we knew at the point we made the decision to get in.

Remember that Bush tried this spin a long time ago and his response was denounced as factually wrong throughout the liberal blogosphere. Did Mitt miss this episode? Worse, does he really not know that the inspectors went to Iraq, found nothing and then were ordered out by Bush?

Kevin Drum beats me to it and adds:

Or does he know it perfectly well and has simply calculated that no one in the media cares enough about this stuff to make a big deal out of a howler like this? In any sane world, this kind of thing would be enough to disqualify a candidate from running for dogcatcher, let alone president of the United States.

But Kevin stops short. If Mitt's being intentionally misleading its not just because the media won't call him on it. It's because he has something to gain. It's because he is speaking to the conservative base - a lot of them whom both Bush & Romney likely believe have bought into this falsehood. A false impression the media has failed to adequately address.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Righties Furious Over Application of Federal Sentencing Guidelines to Libbey

Libbey got 30 months in prison after the Judge basically followed the federal sentencing guidelines.

The Right is furious over this "remarkable" sentence.

I find the Right's reaction amusing.

The Judge followed the harsh federal sentencing guidelines the right has pimped for years. The Judge didn't exercise discretion to depart downward from the guidelines as the right has argued Judges should be prohibited from doing. In effect, the judge has done exactly what the right demanded judges do during sentencing.

But no one ever accused the Right of having principles. Screw all those poor schleps who have had their lives ruined over the years by these harsh rules. Libbey is a rightwing political operative and in the conservative world he deserves special treatment. Nay ... pardon him ... conservatives should be above the law.

At Fox News, All Blacks Look Alike

A couple of weeks ago, Fox News ran a story on voter fraud which used file footage of voters going to the polls. Alll the voters shown just happened to be black.

Yesterday, Fox News ran a story about charges of graft against Democratic Congressman William Jefferson. But in the story, Fox ran video footage of ... John Conyers.

Josh has the must-see video up.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Democratic Debate

I caught about half of the debate last night.

Here are some quick thoughts:

Hillary is going to surprise a lot of people who have not seen her live. She is now quite comfortable as a public speaker. She handled the tough questions with an ease that speaks well of her ability to handle the smears that will come her way if she gets the nomination.

Joe "Foxholes" Biden also sounded better than I've ever heard him sound. That he bought into the President's line that you only support the troops is by funding them is a bit disturbing. Couldn't Congress have done a separate bill to get the military Hum-Vees with V-shaped hulls that is not tied to Iraq War funding? Of course.

Wolf was a jerk in how he manipulated the debate so that the leading candidates got a lot more time than others. My DD has a great breakdown on this.

The Surge --- Not Working

Fester at the Newshoggers has a piece of analysis on how Bush's surge strategy is faring in Iraq.

The results are unsurprising. The Iraqi security forces still suck and the insurgents and deathsquads are still responding to strategic shifts from our military with their policy of observe, learn then reinfiltrate.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Something Light for a Saturday Night

I haven't been able to get this song out of my head for about a month now.

Young Folks by Peter, Bjorn & John.

Friday, June 01, 2007

More "Troop Drawdown" Propaganda

Unnamed "U.S. Officials" are telling the media that the surge is making progress and our Generals in Iraq plan to start drawdowns in February 2008.

This is just another effort to buy more time so that the Republicans and conservative hawks in the military don't have to withdraw our troops and take ownership of the Iraqi failure. They want to dump the mess in the next President's lap regardless of cost in lives and money.

It's not like they haven't promised future drawdowns before and failed to deliver. Hell, Atrios just reminded us yesterday of Nouri Al Maliki's assurance in November 2006 that Iraqi security forces would take over in June 2007. He, of course, was pimping for Bush's forthcoming surge plan then.

The media might serve us better if it pointed out all the bogus prior promises of drawdowns when it reports all the new promises. I guess context and accountability don't count when "strong" rightwing militarists are talking. Why should ABC News give a damn if a hundred troops a month will keep dying for their propaganda? They don't. Worse than that would be providing critical context that might result in some rightwing strong armer placing a call to their boss.

Bush's Big Liar Resigns

Getting out before the getting gets to him, Dan Bartlett, a counselor to Bush for 12 years, announced he is resigning from his post at the White House.

Here's one of my favorite Bartlett quotes:

WOLF BLITZER: But is he an imminent threat to U.S. interests, either in that part of the world or to Americans right here at home?

BARTLETT: Well, of course he is.

Less than a year later, the Bushies would be spinning furiously that they never portrayed Saddam as an imminent threat.