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Saturday, August 27, 2005

Hell We Already Knew She Was an Alien

Kevin Drum alerts us to the fact that the Able Danger data miners tagged Condi Rice as a Chinese agent. Which is funny enough right there. But Mark Kleiman thinks they might be right:
Still, are we absolutely certain that Condi Rice is not a Chinese agent?

Consider: In the long term, the U.S. is China's rival as the dominant world power. Anything that weakens the U.S. is good for China.

The Bush foreign policy, of which Rice was one of the architects, has been a spectacular success -- from the Chinese perspective.

It is a maxim of the law that a person may be taken to intend the reasonably forseeable consequences of his actions. Since much of the foreign policy train wreck of the past five years was completely forseeable, by courtroom standards Rice can be taken to have intentionally screwed the pooch. By the rule of qui bono?, she can be taken to have done so at the behest of the obvious beneficiary, China.

Thus the data-miners, and the process of data-mining, are not only vindicated but can be seen to have done the country a great service by revealing the disloyalty of the Secretary of State.

Yes, I know that by this logic Tenet, Rumsfeld, Bolton, and many others also fit the profile of Chinese agents of influence. (The only one we're sure doesn't work for the Chinese is Bush himself, who obviously works for the Saudis.)
Throw Greenspan in there and I think you get eggroll. Seriously, the Chinese could not have done anything more to successfully dismantle the US intelligence apparatus and buy our economic security at fire sale prices than the neocons have willingly done for them. Happy coincidence? I think not.

Clever those Chinese.


Well She Has Always Depended Upon the Kindness of Strangers

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Professor Tom McPhail has a new pen pal. McPhail, who teaches media studies at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, wrote to Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter sent to jail for refusing to identify her sources in the Valerie Plame case. Miller wrote back to McPhail to thank him for his "kind words and expressions of support." She added that she would have written more but "there is no typewriter in jail and my hand is worn out." The letter was on letterhead from Alexandria Detention Center in Alexandria, Va., and listed Miller's inmate number.
Yeah endlessly jerking off Bill Keller must be exhausting.

Cue the violins.


Friday, August 26, 2005

Well You Can't Say We Weren't Willing To Do Our Duty to King and Country

Per the suggestion of Slim and others, I emailed Joe Wilson and told him that the readers of this blog were willing to sponsor him at the Robert Novak conference where for the low low price of $595 Novak promised to tell the "truth."

Today, from Ambassador Wilson:
Thank you very much for the offer. As tempting as it is I am afraid I am going to have to pass. I do hope somebody asks him the questions he needs to answer but I am not sanguine that he will be any more candid to his "clientele" than he is publicly. In any event, I think he is through.

Thank you also for your continued support. Valerie and I draw tremendous strength from the millions of Americans who understand what has happened, to us, yes, but most of all to our country. We will continue to fight to regain our democracy from the hands of these thugs.

Joe Wilson
Well that was classy. Maybe we should send John from Crooks & Liars, he's been feeling under the weather lately but that would be some celebrity death match.

Thanks much to eriposte of the Left Coaster for passing on the email to Joe Wilson, they are both so going on the guest list for Kobepalooza II.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Is the Media Worm Ready to Turn?

Although there was nothing particularly earth-shaking in today's LA Times rundown of the events surrounding the exposure of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity, the rather remarkable thing is that it happened at all.

Coming on the heels of the CNN documentary this week that explored the FUBAR intelligence which assured the public of the existence of WMDs in Iraq and therefore the necessity of war, it feels like the large media outlets are positioning themselves for a story that is only going to grow bigger.

The NY Times, of course, has busied itself with defending the Martyr of the Bended Knees, Judith Miller. The WaPo is equally compromised, and given its role in promoting the war in Iraq really not in much of a position to start criticizing an administration it has been publicly fellating for so long. And as Michael Wolff noted in this month's Vanity Fair, Time Magazine did not even ask Matt Cooper's source for a waiver for a year -- waiting until after the election and obstructing an investigation out of fear of becoming Dan Rathered.

Hardly the stuff of Edward R. Murrow.

The LA Times piece today has the feel of a foundation piece, one that the paper hopes to build on. There's definitely a niche that isn't being filled -- investigative reporting about the most serious political scandal of our time by a publication with some heavy journalistic chops that isn't afraid to be critical of the 1600 crew. Likewise, CNN isn't really getting anywhere in he ratings war trying to be Fox Lite. I mean, WTF, might as well, know what I mean?

Right out of the gate, the tone of the LA Times piece is unusual as MSM coverage goes. They cut through the crap and don't dilly-dally around with the usual he said/she said obfuscations of the Mighty Wurlitzer:
Rove mentioned to reporters that Wilson's wife had suggested or arranged the trip. The idea apparently was to undermine its import by suggesting that the mission was really "a boondoggle set up by his wife," as an administration official described the trip to a reporter, according to an account in the Washington Post.

This approach depended largely on a falsehood: that Wilson had claimed Cheney sent him to Niger. Wilson never made such a claim.

(my emphasis)
Further, they don't buy into the sidestepping of the serial dissemblers who are incapable of ranting little other than "Joe Wilson lied" about his wife's role in sending him to Niger, and call it what it is: "a noisy sideshow to the substantive questions his trip raised about prewar intelligence."

And perhaps best of all, rather than identify unnamed sources merely as "an individual familiar with the case," they openly divulge the bias of those upon whose comments they rely, taking away the guess work citing one in particular as "a Rove ally."

But my favorite part of the article was, of course, the verification that BushCo. is shitting itself over Patrick J. Fitzgerald's zeal for justice:
Those who knew Fitzgerald predicted he would charge hard and range far. Nonetheless, his investigative sweep startled the White House. He asked immediately for White House telephone logs, call sheets, attendance lists for meetings of the Iraq group, party invitation lists and even phone logs from Air Force One.
Is this the first of many articles? Is it the LA Times' bid to become the go-to source on TraitorGate, now that the Paper of Record has become the Toilet Paper of Record? Holy crap, wouldn't that be visionary.

Update: One of the authors of the LA Times article, Tom Hamburger, appears here on an NPR radio interview. Looks like they're getting these guys out to promote the story, which can only be a good sign.


The Supreme Court & Me

The latest GOP talking points seem to be chalking up Pat Robertson's invocation to "take out" Hugo Chavez as something covered by the First Amendment.


Your right to engage in free speech does not cover your right to go into a crowded theater and yell "fire," and it certainly does not cover your right to say that someone should be killed. Following the release of Natural Born Killers it became quite the trend for dangerously sick people to claim they had gotten the inspiration for their acts from watching the movie, and because there were big names and deep pockets involved my name wound up on a lot of lawsuits.

Most of them were dismissed in rather short order, but one of them made its way to the Supreme Court. And in that particular case they had taken the position that in making the film, we had intended to induce people to go out and commit murder.

Now before you get any image in your head of me on my knees pleading with Antonin Scalia for mercy, know that I only heard about the case from occasional memos that sailed across my desk, I really wasn't involved. The charge was absurd, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, and that was the end of it. But the fact remains that had they been able to prove we acted with that intent, we could potentially have been found liable.

There really isn't much of a limit to what I'll say to get a rise -- ad hominim attacks on Kay Grogin's face, Jonah Goldberg's fashion sense and Michelle Malkin's entire existence are de rigeur around here. But I'm very careful to never even joke about physical harm being a good thing. Pat Robertson cannot say the same.

On the other hand I did win a case based on First Amendment privileges after I called some lawyer a "Kmart Johnnie Cochran." It actually turned out to be something of a landmark freedom of speech case. I think the judges on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals got a kick out of the whole thing, because the decision they wrote is pretty funny:
Hamsher' s imaginative phrase "Kmart Johnnie Cochran" is also not actionable. Fer****o asserts the phrase means that his legal services were of low quality and that he is unethical. The phrase is a lusty and creative expression of contempt, too loose and figurative to be susceptible of being proved true or false.
Yep, that would be me.

I've decided that hate speech is what you must resort to when you have absolutely no ability to be funny.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Bullshit Protectors

Jo Fish clearly has a set. He responds to the American Legion's frightening call-to-arms to use "whatever means necessary" to "ensure the united backing of the American people to support our troops and the global war on terrorism:"
Well, that's pretty interesting, "use whatever means necessary" to ensure that everyone just shuts the fuck up. Then Mr. "Fuck the First Amendment" American Legionnaire tries to cover a skosh for his eliminationist rhetoric, and make no mistake that's what this is.
Cadmus explained, "No one respects the right to protest more than one who has fought for it, but we hope that Americans will present their views in correspondence to their elected officials rather than by public media events guaranteed to be picked up and used as tools of encouragement by our enemie."
First, if my elected officials happen to be a bought-and-paid-for members of the Delay Fascism Society, I doubt they're going to give a pig fart whether or not I support the GSAVE/GWOT/Phenomenal Contractor Boondoggle from Hell. They're not going to express my views, or any that are not approved by their party leadership on the floor of the House or Senate any more than Cindy Sheehan is going to learn what the "Noble Cause" her son died for is from the lips of Preznit Horse Fluffer in this or any other lifetime.

Second, isn't threatening violence and creating fear among the populace, well, sort of Terroristic Behavior? I mean when this guy tells me, that he's going to "use whatever means necessary" to silence my and others First Amendment protected objections to this Neo-Con Fantasy War, is he planning to come to my house, burn it down and kill me and my family? Or maybe just something a little less direct, like having a sympathetic AL member who's in law enforcement, picking up my kids at school and taking them for a ride and calling me up and asking where the kids are, and I'd better shut the fuck up now.

I certainly don't think that anyone in the 1600 Crew will gainsay this guy. Not after Trent Duffy threatened the press corpse again yesterday with another "yer with us, or agin us". Members of the American Legion who think this thing is over the top and believe that this reflects poorly on the Legion and it's history and principles, will you speak out?
Dedicated Atrios readers know that when Bush's approval ratings slipped below 40% this week, Holden got a pony. He then asked "What do I get for less than 30?" To which Watertiger quipped, "Under 30 and you get martial law."

I have a very bad feeling about all of this. Not that martial law is necessarily in the wings, but the rhetoric is growing so heated and the culture war so fractious that I worry we're on the verge of violent confrontation a la Kent State.

I really hope I'm wrong.


Pass the Pork Rinds Baby, It's "The Factor!"

Whenever I visited my family in Tennessee, my Aunt Ola Mae would always introduce me by saying "This is mah niece Jane, mah brother Russell's oldest girl, she's in the moving picture business." Which is to say, it's a different world down there, and I think most of my fellow blue-staters fail to understand just how different.

To say the "health food craze" has not hit the South would be a gross understatement:
Alabama is getting fatter faster.

The state ranked second in America in highest rate of adult obesity -- at 27.7 percent, according to a nationwide report on the country's fattest and leanest states.

Alabama had the largest increase. The obesity rate jumped 1.5 percentage points to 27.7 percent.

The report, "F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America, 2005," calls the roll of the nation's fattest states and spotlights areas in which America's waistline can shape up.

Alabama also ranked second in the country in highest rate of obese and overweight adults combined at 63.5 percent. Mississippi is the fattest state, according to the report. Colorado ranked as the leanest.

More than 25 percent of adults in 10 states are obese: Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana, and South Carolina.
My own theory is that when the South was primarily agrarian and people worked on farms from sun up to sun down, a dinner that included corn on the cob, biscuits and gravy, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese (and all in the same meal, mind you) was somewhat more appropriate. Now that people don't work those kind of day jobs, the diet nonetheless persists -- a typical meal at one of my cousins' houses would include all of the above, along with some mustard greens with bacon fat and maybe a few pork chops. Then of course you've gotta have a Coors so you can spit your ambeer in the empties.

For desert you get to sit around and watch O'Reilly, eat ice cream and question everyone else's patriotism.

I was staying with one of my cousin's during 9/11, and I had made the comment that the dogs were really happy to be there, they liked the big carb and beef leftovers a lot better than the vegetables, tofu and brown rice they were likely to get at home. So one night I was getting ready to cook dinner while my cousin was at work, and I asked her husband Willard what he wanted for dinner.

"Something the dogs'll eat," he said.

Okay well so much for my cooking.

Spending 9/11 in the South was a trip. By noon the TV news stations were calling for the round up of all people of middle eastern descent. I had to watch a lot of Fox News, which went into full-throttle jingoism. Actual phrase uttered by my cousin: "All the news media is biased, but I like to watch Fox News, they're the most fair and balanced."

I would personally like to see a study that explores the correlation between heart attack food and mind-boggling credulity. I think I'm on to something here.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hey, a Guy's Gotta Make a Living

This is rich. From Sydney Schanberg:
Robert Novak, whose "confidential" sources helped him light the match that set off the Plamegate wildfire, is now on the Internet blithely hawking "confidential" sessions with Washington's power elite. He's only asking $595 a person. The invitation says: "This meeting is 100% off the record." The e-mail letter goes on to explain that the secrecy is necessary so that the speakers can speak candidly and tell the truth. The truth, in the nation's capital—that's certainly worth $595.
Five hundred ninety-five dollars to hear Robert Novak tell the truth? Ho, sign me the fuck up!
The request for my presence was very tempting. The letter from Winter began: "Dear friend, When was the last time you sat in a room just a few feet from the likes of Vice President Cheney or Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, asked a question and got a straightforward answer?" A straightforward answer. Just the thought of witnessing one in Washington sends a tingle up the spine.
Of course, that presumes that Novakula actually knows how to give a straight answer. And I suspect there is a better chance he and his fugitive hip will join the Flying Wallendas for a spontaneous high-wire trapeze act.
The four-page invite came from Tom Winter, president and editor in chief of Human Events. He referred to Novak as "my friend." Winter wrote: "Given the limited number of attendees, the stature of the speakers, and the confidential nature of the meeting, this Forum is rarely publicized. In fact, in its 30-year history, the Forum has always been and will continue to be one of Washington's best kept secrets."


As I was reading over the invitation again, I got a jolt—a couple of lines I'd missed on the first go-around: "Each speaker speaks briefly about the issues of the day, then opens the floor to questions—any questions. The answers are frank and open, because there are no reporters."
I know the Justice Department can be tricky about expenses, so I hereby pledge the $595 it would take to send Patrick Fitzgerald to the Novak soiree. Not that I think Novak has any actual plans to be honest. I just really like the idea of him sitting up there and looking out over the crowd of fellow kleptocrats to see Fitzgerald's face like some Telltale Heart.

Of course, there are dangers involved. I always worry that events like this are going to be the place an angry deity would choose to begin the Apoloclypse.

Update: Okay, several commeners have made note of the fact that sending Patrick Fitzgerald would probably break laws I haven't even heard of, and rightly suggest that Joe Wilson would be a much better choice. I have emailed Ambassador Wilson and let him know we are willing to help.


Monday, August 22, 2005

Ron Wyden: "There is No Doubt in My Mind That John Roberts Will Vote to Overturn Roe v. Wade"

On Friday night, I drove up to Santa Barbara for a dinner given by Ellen Nagler of The Broad View, mostly because I wanted to hear RJ Eskow play country music with his band The Red State Wranglers, but also because Oregon state senator Ron Wyden was going to be there. And I figure, as much time as I spend bitching about how people should be letting their Senators hear about their objections to John Roberts, how could I turn down an opportunity to bore my own senator in person by piling on with my two cents?

So I treed the poor man over a lovely salmon dinner and tried to remain mindful that he is, indeed, one of the good guys and has a 100% pro-choice score from NARAL, while expressing my dire concern that anyone who stands so clearly and openly against women's rights as John Roberts should even be considered as a candidate for the Supreme Court. Wyden said he'd met with the guy for an hour recently, and that if he was in the room right now I'd probably like him even though I would disagree with everything he believed, because he'd sympathize with me for it. He said that Democrats were going to have a really hard time opposing Roberts because he's very likeable and in the hearings he'll be very winning.

And for all those people who are sitting around deluding themselves that Roberts is going to get on the court and do a Souter, Senator Wyden said, "There is no doubt in my mind that John Roberts will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade."

I mean, did anyone really think differently? For all the noise about "you can't judge him by his wife's opinions," Roberts is a guy who's been on the stump for the job for a year, meeting with Christo-fascists like Falwell and Dobson and earning their Good Housekeeping seal of approval. Do you really kid yourself into believing that he earned that by sitting there hemming and hawing over abortion? Get real.

And for those who say "well, Bush will only appoint someone worse" -- that is no reason not to oppose a very bad candidate. It's the weak rational of Vichy Democrats who are more interested in running for President than they are in representing the interests of the people who voted them into office in the first place, who are overwhelmingly pro-choice. With Republicans in disarray over Traitorgate and Preznit "Cindy Who?" now at 36% approval rating, the time has never been better to make a public show of the fact that the party stands for something.

He also said we owe yet another big heap of thanks to Sandra Day O'Connor, who would've stayed on the court 'til she was a hundred if Kerry had won.

As a side note -- Wyden was also there with his extra-cool pro-choice fiance Nancy Bass, who owns the Strand bookstore in New York. Which just went to further shore up my theory that you can always spot the good guys by their cool wives.

And many thanks to the Heretik who did the above graphic as a special request. Please feel free to copy it and use it (with appropriate credit to the Heretik). I think it is tragically going to be quite useful as it becomes ever more apparent that both in this country and abroad, the operant modality is that "women's social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy."


Sunday, August 21, 2005

Failing Upward

Saw CNN's special on the series of intelligence fuckups that lead to the war in Iraq. Except for saying that they really weren't interested in any intelligence that didn't support their desire to invade Iraq, it more or less let the administration off the hook and blamed all the mistakes on the CIA. They did mention the Downing Street Memo, however, and also noted that Cheney's early war-mongering speeches were fact-free and uncleared by the CIA, which was nice.

But they did hit the point hard that much of the intelligence that made Colin Powell look like a serial liar before the UN came from a source known as Curveball, whom the CIA knew to be untrustworthy. That's reason enough to drag out this oldie but goody from TBogg:
It's not too surprising that an Administration that treated a document entitled Bin Laden Determined to Strike In US like it was a four month-old copy of People magazine, would derive their war intelligence from a source with a codename of "Curveball."
I just love that one.

Am off to watch the rerun of Press the Meat where Trent Lott further unsettles the Camp Crawford crew's jolly August holiday. How bad is it when the guy they invite on to defend your Iraq policy takes the opportunity to first kick you around like a hackeysack?