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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Bobo Spoils Munich

I've been dying to see Spielberg's Munich, and not just because I am shallow and Eric Bana is FUCKING HOT. Even though I was only a little kid at the time I well remember sitting in front of the television for hours on end watching the tragedy of the Israeli athletes take place in real-time, and the 1999 documentary recounting the events -- One Day In September -- is one of my favorite films. The Oscar it took that year was well deserved.

Leave it to Bobo Brooks to FUCK IT ALL UP. Even in his all-white mini van and pimento loaf fantasy world SOMEBODY must've heard of SPOILERS ALERTS, duh?
There is, above all, no evil. And that is the core of Spielberg's fable. In his depiction of reality there are no people so committed to a murderous ideology that they are impervious to the sort of compromise and dialogue Spielberg puts such great faith in.
And with that, we can safely infer that neither George Bush nor Dick Cheney appear in the film.

Asshole. There goes my Christmas Holiday season.


Richard Pryor, 1940-2005

The great Richard Pryor died today:
There is an entire generation or two around today that don't really know Pryor in his prime, and it's hard to explain in retrospect. Sure, he brought the "N word" to vogue; but that doesn't even begin to touch upon the magic. He came off as a God child; angry and remorseful about the state of race relations, but at the same time amused and dismissive of it - he grasped the absurdity of it, and threw it back out there for people to see.

"Why they never have a hero - a black hero? I always wanted to go in the movies and see a black hero. I figured out maybe some day on television they'll have it, man - like you see on the television, they come out, 'Look- up in the sky! It's a crow! It's a bat! No - it's Supernigger! Yes, friends, Supernigger! Able to leap tall buildings with a single bound! Faster than a bowl of chitlins! We find Supernigger with his X-ray vision, that enables him to see through everything except whitey."

To say that Pryor's career skyrocketed would be an understatement. If all the researched dates are right, he would have reappeared in '72, went straight into "Lady Sings the Blues," for which he received an Oscar nomination, helped write Lily Tomlin's legendary TV special, was then up for the lead in "Blazing Saddles" but couldn't be used because of the controversial nature of his stand-up act, and instead co-wrote the film with Mel Brooks, then wrote for -and appeared on - "The Flip Wilson Show." Then he recorded his act and released "That Nigger's Crazy" in 1974, and busted the charts. The next year, he recorded live again and put out "Is It Something I Said?," and busted the charts. Again. The next year he felt patriotic and released "Bicentennial Nigger," and busted the charts yet again.

Then, in succession "Car Wash," "Silver Streak," "Which Way is Up?," "Blue Collar," "The Wiz," "Stir Crazy," "Bustin' Loose" and finally his amazing "Live on Sunset Strip" in 1982. Richard Pryor had done more than capture the attention of America; he had unlocked the door. The man who was "too controversial" to star in "Blazing Saddles" in 1974 had hosted the Oscars twice, appeared as a presenter twice more and guested on Johnny Carson three times. No matter what well-earned reputation he has in the pantheon of comedy, it has to be remembered how much he contributed towards the "normalization" of blacks in Hollywood.
Richard Pryor always knew better than to become too respectable, and maybe that was simply due to a massive self-destructive streak, I don't know. But one of the mistakes he never made was to become what he despised.

Sixty five years was just way too short.

Digby has more.


He-Men, Masters of the Universe

Of all the offensive vignettes about GWB I have read, TBogg reminds us of the one that just may be the worst. From -- of all people, Tucker Carlson, in 1999:
In the week before [Karla Faye Tucker's] execution, Bush says, Bianca Jagger and a number of other protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Tucker. "Did you meet with any of them?" I ask.

Bush whips around and stares at me. "No, I didn't meet with any of them," he snaps, as though I've just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. "I didn't meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with [Tucker], though. He asked her real difficult questions, like 'What would you say to Governor Bush?' "

"What was her answer?" I wonder.

"Please," Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "don't kill me."

(When he sees Carlson's horrified reaction, Bush "immediately stops smirking": " 'It's tough stuff,' Bush says, suddenly somber, 'but my job is to enforce the law.'")
In California, Tookie Williams is scheduled to die on Monday night save for a decision made by another rich, entitled white man who is said to be concerned about the political ramifications of his actions. Meanwhile in LA they are worried about riots if Tookie is executed.

I wonder why.

(graphic by Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)


Friday, December 09, 2005

Love Match

John Amato says Michael Isikoff and David Corn are collaborating on an upcoming book. Too bad Ladies of the Club is already taken.


The Curse of Celebrity Journalism

Jay Rosen has an excellent piece today on Bob Woodward and why his his much-vaunted "access" is more of a curse than a blessing, both for him and for us:
Woodward and Bernstein of 1972-74 didn'’t have such access, and this probably influenced -- —for the better -- —their view of what Nixon and his men were capable of. Watergate wasn'’t broken by reporters who had entree to the inner corridors of power. It was two guys on the Metro Desk. The more experienced White House reporters didn'’t think much of the story. Nor did they get wind of the extraordinary abuses of power that were going on at the time.


To say Woodward is where he always is (at the heart of things) denies that there's any price to access. It asserts -- falsely, I think -- —that if something as bad as Watergate were happening in Washington today Woodward would be the one uncovering it. I don'’t buy a word of what Powers is selling about his friend and benefactor, but then I didn'’t enjoy jock culture, either. That's what "Getting Bob" reminds me of: the twelth guy on the team bragging about the star player. And I don'’t think Bob Woodward is going to uncover what really happened during the two terms of George W. Bush.
He's right. Entering "the club" seems to come at the price of perspective. For Plan of Attack, Woodward conducted 75 interviews, all of them anonymously sourced except for two -- Bush and Rumsfeld. Nowhere in the book is mention made of, say, Richard Clarke. How are we supposed to evaluate the veracity of this information? Obviously the opinions of dissenters were not cultivated. I can't imagine historians are going to look back on this and view it as the valuable piece of insight Woody imagines it to be -- more like a sadly deluded hagiography by a purveyor of celebrity journalism who couldn't see the abject corruption of the worst administration in US history for his close proximity to it.


Monk: Straight, No Chaser

Our good friend Monk, the incredibly talented artist who creates many of the wonderful images we post here at FDL (including the one above) has taken some financial wallops of late. He's put a PayPal button up on his site, so if you appreciate his efforts please stop by and help him out with whatever you can afford.


What's In a Date?

I realize this may be arguing the fine points to the ultimate boredom of many readers, but sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

Now that our earlier theory of conflicting stories for the conversation between Karl Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin and Viveca Novak is apparently true, many fine minds in the blogosphere are advancing the notion that Luskin is the one arguing for an earlier January conversation (prior to Rove's first GJ testimony), and that this somehow serves Rove's purposes. Which would mean that Vivak is the one who is claiming that the conversation happened at a later time.

I just want to make sure I've got this straight. Robert Luskin walks into Patrick Fitzgerald's office and says "hey, I have this great defense. I had a conversation with this Time reporter in January, 2004 that will explain everything."

So Fitgerald says "great!," walks out the door and asks Vivac "to testify under oath about conversations she had with Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, starting in May 2004."

What am I missing?



Thursday, December 08, 2005

I Fear I've Lost the Plot

According to sources familiar with Rove's status, Luskin persuaded Fitzgerald in late October to postpone indicting Rove by alerting Fitzgerald to Luskin's previous conversation with Novak, among other things. Luskin argued that these private discussions helped show Rove did not intentionally conceal his conversation with Cooper from investigators. Rove has argued he forgot about the chat he had with Cooper on the phone in the summer of 2003.

Sources familiar with their conversations say Novak's and Luskin's accounts to Fitzgerald appear to conflict on when they spoke.
Ergo both Luskin and Vivac were deposed. But then it gets confusing:
A source familiar with Novak's account said she believes the conversation took place in March or May, and definitely took place after February 2004, when Rove first testified before the grand jury.

But one person close to the case said the conversation took place before Rove's first grand jury appearance in February. This person said the conversation was not the event that led Rove to change his testimony.
I thought I was doing pretty good last night to have sussed that Vivac's and Luskin's versions were quite different, but this one throws me. It makes absolutely no sense that Luskin would be the promulgator of the pre-February tale that is certainly in circulation. Hard to know what's truth, what's spin and what can be chalked up to the impenetrability of the moment. Hopefully NYT will have more details later on.

Update: NYT story is up but doesn't have anything new to add. Until further notice I'm sticking with my assessment of last night.


Mr. Fitzgerald Goes To Town

Sounds like a very short chat. AP:
Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than an hour Thursday morning at a law firm representing Viveca Novak, a Time magazine reporter whose testimony was being sought in the CIA leak case.

Fitzgerald and an associate emerged from the office of attorney Hank Schuelke at 11:30 a.m. EDT, declined to answer questions and rode away in a taxi cab. A short time later, a court stenographer left the building.

An hour later, Schuelke escorted Novak from the building and helped her flag a taxi. He declined comment when asked if she had provided sworn testimony in FitzgeraldÂ’s investigation of the leak of an undercover CIA agent’s identity.
I've heard that Vivac tried like hell to keep from having to testify under oath, but Fitzgerald was having none of it.

Meanwhile on MSNBC, David Schuster says that Rover indulged in something they are referring to as "rolling disclosure" -- each time he went before the grand jury he remembered a little bit more. Schuster also seems to indicate that Vivac's conversation with Luskin happened before Rove's first February, 2004 appearance before the grand jury, and that in this testimony Rove said the subject of Plame had come up briefly. This contradicts earlier reports by the WaPo that in his first GJ appearance "Rove testified that he did not recall talking to Cooper about Plame."

Boy we can only hope Team Rove presume the Special Counsel is the credulous bumpkin they clearly take the media and the public for.


It's a Jungle Out There

Can I just say it is absolutely crazy out there? Nobody involved in this little drama (except, we presume, Fitzgerald) has any clue what the hell is going on. I called around trying to nail down the CNN story about Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin being deposed last Friday and nobody else had even heard of it. My hunch is it's true, however, especially in light of what I suspect -- Vivac's and Luskin's recollection of when the conversation in question took place is quite different. Although the NYT originally reported that the conversation took place in "summer or early fall," sources there say that they now concur with the Dec. 3 WaPo story which reported the conversation took place prior to Rove's February grand jury appearance. Which blows Rover's defense all to shit.

Vivac's account will probably go up on Time's website this weekend. No news on the Woodward front. I'll give him this much, Woody seems to be as leak-proof as Fitzgerald.

Update: When I called NYT to ask what they'd heard about this CNN Luskin thing earlier in the day, they hadn't heard anything. But I just got this email from them: "hey, guess what, CNN was right about luskin's deposition." So there you have it.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005


I don't have any reason to challenge the story in general circulation that Vivac is going to testify tomorrow because Luskin dragged her into the picture in the waning days of Scooter's gainful employment as a civil servant. Still unexplained is why it took Fitzgerald over a month to get around to interviewing her, but we'll cast that into the realm of the unexplainable for the moment and move onto more entertaining conjecture.

Time magazine disclosed on Nov. 27 that one of its reporters, Viveca Novak, would soon answer Fitzgerald's questions about conversations she had with Rove attorney Robert Luskin in 2004. Sources familiar with the case said Luskin told Fitzgerald in October that those conversations would help buttress Luskin's argument that Rove did not intentionally conceal his contacts with reporters from the grand jury.
When David Corn recounted his defense of Vivac, he indicated that there was just one conversation where she "pushed back" and said "this is not what I hear" after Luskin said he thought his client was in the clear. But the Nov. 27 Time article, and again the WaPo today, refer to "conversations." Plural. And seem to do so quite deliberately.

Fitzgerald originally asked for information on conversations taking place after May, 2004. A subsequent article in the NYT on December 2, 2005 -- which appear to have Luskin-esque sources -- said that:
Mr. Rove's lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, spoke in the summer or early fall of 2004 with Viveca Novak, a reporter for Time. In that conversation, Mr. Luskin heard from Ms. Novak that a colleague at the magazine, Matthew Cooper, might have interviewed Mr. Rove about the C.I.A. officer at the heart of the case, the people said. (my emphasis)
But on Saturday, December 3, the WaPo reported that "the conversation" took place before Rove's grand jury appearance in February 2004, and appears to be quite Viveca-centric in its sourcing.

It would appear that Mr. Luskin and Vivac may have spoken more than once on the topic. And it seems likely that when Luskin offered up his good friend Vivac in order to save his client, he told Fitzgerald that the relevant conversation (or conversations) happened a good while after Rove's testimony in February, 2004 where Rove presumably did not tell the grand jury about the Cooper conversation, because Fitzgerald's request for information starts in May 2004.

One can only imagine that Mr. Fitzgerald's eyes lit up and his response to the Dec. 3 WaPo article was "WTF?" It also seems like Vivac's memories of her Luskin chitchats might differ dramatically from Luskin's. Was Luskin planning on her pegging him to a February, 2004 (or earlier) conversation when he thought she would provide testimony exonerating his client? Was Fitzgerald the only one who read the Saturday article and said "WTF?"

It sounds quite probable that Vivac might not be providing the Rove-friendly testimony his lawyer was hoping for. If indeed there were multiple conversations and Vivac's recollections don't support the tight timeline that lead to the Hadley email's discovery and Rove's recantation of his earlier testimony in the way that it seems like it was originally relayed to Fitzgerald, this whole thing may just have blown up in Rover's pasty face.


Could George Tenet Be Bob Woodward's Source?

I've heard some recent speculation that George Tenet might be Bob Woodward's source. I don't have any reason to think it is anything more than just that -- speculation -- but the possibility that it was Tenet is certainly interesting.

There are many who presume that Tenet was the original 1x2x6 leaker (that is, the one who told the Washington Post that two administration officials had leaked to six journalists), and there has also been much speculation that he has been cooperating with Fitzgerald all along. But Tenet is a slippery character whose loyalties are hard to pin down. To the best of my knowledge he's never denied anything, and during the time in question he most certainly had the requisite information.

So what do you think?


Will Rover Skate?

CBS News is reporting that Fitzgerald spent three hours with the grand jury today, accompanied by three deputies and an FBI agent. Since Judge Hogan's ruling last summer said that anybody testifying before the grand jury had to walk in through the front door, it's unlikely anyone made an appearance today and Fitzgerald was probably bringing this new grand jury up to speed on whatever it is he hopes to bring to them.

I also hear that Viveca Novak will be giving a deposition tomorrow, though not before the grand jury.

Lawrence O'Donnell sketches a withering indictment of Vivak's defense in this matter as laid out by her good friend David Corn:
Corn’s stated mission in this account is to prove what a good person and honorable reporter Novak is. “Novak wasn’t trying to tip off Luskin …” Uh huh. But she did. Why was a Time reporter discussing Time’s secret source with Rove’s lawyer? No other Time reporter did that. Corn’s Novak defense could not be more tortured. He says she didn’t know who Cooper’s source was, that she didn’t tell him anything, she just “pushed back.” Then he quotes another friend of Novak saying, “She assumed that Luskin did know about the Rove-Cooper conversation and that she was not telling him anything he did not already know.” So, according to that friend, Novak did know Rove was Cooper’s source and she did tell Luskin. With friend/defenders like these … Hey, I like Viveca Novak too. Everyone does. But in this case, she may have more to answer for than any other reporter involved.
He then goes on to detail just how he thinks Vivak's testimony might very well get Rover off the hook. And he might be right, but I have still not heard enough to convince me of the rectitude of this particular argument.

For Karl Rove to be able to recant his early testimony before the grand jury where he stated he did not remember his conversation with Matt Cooper, he has to be able to prove that he did not come forward because of the likelihood that his lie would be exposed.

I want to underscore this because it is critical and I think sometimes I take it for granted that people understand this. Vivac either did or did not tip off Luskin to the fact that his client was Matt Cooper's source, and it really doesn't matter whether his client had been forthcoming with him or not. The piece of information Luskin gleaned from this conversation is that Matt Cooper was not the only one who knew this, the story was in circulation and even if Cooper was successful in his bid to invoke journalistic privilege the story might out anyway. No matter what happens, O'Donnell is right. Vivac gave her good friend Luskin -- and I'm told they are very good friends -- extremely valuable information.

Because as a result, Luskin began to lay the groundwork for a plausible excuse that would serve Rove if he ever needed to recant -- the Hadley email. Now, nobody knows whether the Hadley email was given to Fitzgerald before or after Time Magazine and Matt Cooper lost their bid to quash the subpoena in October 2004. But the timing is quite convenient -- Rove appeared to correct his testimony two days later.

Further, if the WaPo is correct and Luskin and Vivac had their little highball gab fest prior to Rove's February 2004 testimony, they've got to explain why:

a) there's a 9-10 month delay until the email is produced and Rove recants
b) how Rove knew of Vivac's story and still went before the grand jury and didn't tell them about Cooper
c) his conveniently timed amnesia cure when it became evident that Cooper would have to testify, and
d) his refusal to grant Cooper a waiver for another ten months ('til July 2005) about a conversation he testified to in October, 2004.

I'm of the mind that Vivac's testimony makes Rove look more oily and guilty, not less.

O'Donnell also thinks that Fitzgerald will shy away from indicting someone as powerful as Rove if there is a plausible explanation for his behavior. I absolutely don't agree. Fitzgerald is dogged. He may not indict until he thinks he has enough to do so, but if he thinks Rove's guilty -- and my guess is he most certainly does or he would not still be pursuing him after two years -- he will keep digging and keep digging until he has enough to go after him.

I think Fitzgerald is perfectly happy to run around on Luskin's goat ropes because it gives him an excellent look into Rover's defense, and he can shape his indictment accordingly. If Luskin was so confident that this particular defense was exculpatory I think he would've offered it up long before the final days before Libby was indicted. I think he held onto it until the last moment because he knew it was incredibly dangerous, as likely to hurt his client as it was to help him, but he was willing to do anything at the last minute to keep Karl from being indicted on the same day as Scooter. In the smoke and mirrors world Rove lives in, appearances are everything and he was more than willing to roll the dice to push Libby out on that limb first.

And by the way, I admire Lawrence O'Donnell absolutely, and I know he has had much fun going back and forth with Luskin in the press. But I am more inclined to buy the Ryan Lizza portrait of Luskin than the full-lipped hummer he gets in today's WaPo.

Let's remember. If Luskin hadn't shot his big mouth off in the press, Matt Cooper might never have testified. If Rove skates, it might very well be due to Viveca Novak as O'Donnell speculates. But if he goes down, it's equally likely his own chatty lawyer had a hand in it.

Update: Over at the Agonist, Sean-Paul Kelly says DC bets are on Rover to be indicted.

And the NY Observer is saying that Vivac will testify tomorrow.


DC Love Match: Unka Karl and Gold Bars Luskin

Even as the indictment drums beat again at the courthouse, the WaPo has an enormous puff piece on Karl Rove's lawyer Robert Luskin this morning, who seems to think his own apple needs a press polishing these days. He tells them to laud him as the perfect attorney for Karl Rove because he "knows how to do the sharp lawyering required to wage a strong criminal defense -- all the while nudging reporters toward his position, attempting to soften public perception of Rove and getting out his client's side of the story," and as if to prove the point they quite dutifully transcribe it.

But we think they get to the "perfectly suited" bit a little further down in the story:
Luskin had to do a lot of spinning for himself when the U.S. attorney in Rhode Island accused him of "willful blindness" for accepting 45 gold bars worth more than $505,000, as well as Swiss wire transfers of $169,000, for his work on the case of a precious-metals dealer convicted of laundering millions in drug money. In 1998 Luskin settled with the government, forfeiting $245,000 in fees.

Luskin says he did due diligence to assure that the money he got was legit, even if it was paid in "a somewhat unusual fashion," but now admits it looked bad. "I kind of got lost in what I thought were the legalities of the situation and didn't take a step back and say, you know, how would people regard something like this?"
In old "Gold Bars Luskin," it sounds like Rove found the perfect, morally flexible counterpart to do what it takes to get him off the hook. And as for his "skill" in handling the press, it seems about as ham-handed as Karl's own efforts.

According to the NY Observer this morning, Luskin is still angry at Matt Cooper because "[i]t just looks to me like there was less a desire to protect a source." Maybe he's still just a tad scalded because he blabbed to the press that "[i]f Matt Cooper is going to jail to protect a source, itÂ’s not Karl heÂ’s protecting," and Cooper's lawyer seized on it to get his client a waiver?

Sounds like the skillful press manipulator's attempt to provide appropriate lighting for his client might be the very thing that leads to a big, fat indictment for Unka Karl to chew on.

Are they attempting to redefine "skill" as a bunch of high priced, loud-mouthed wankery that plays right into the Special Counsel's hands?


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Late Nite at FDL

-- TBogg sends this along for the true Fitzgerald fans. BTW I'm pretty sure it was skin cancer and not adult onset acne, but regardless you can rest assured that with democracy hanging in the balance and all I would've done a full-on Edina Monsoon and barred the door until I'd had my way with a little Chanel concealer and some T. Le Clerc powder but this is probably why they feel adequate to handle things without the benefit of my help.

I'll just save democracy from over here.

-- Here's a spiffy photo of our good friends Johns Taylor and Amato (of Crooks & Liars fame).

-- Brian Linse says OG Blogger Mickey Kaus is on talking about Tom Maguire and FDL and giving us props for being on opposite sides of the political fence but working from the same set of facts to try and get at some kind of truth. It's a nice bit, and your chance to see Mickey Kaus live. Roger, are you there?

-- Several bloggers have made their way onto Cafe Press stamps, t-shirts and holiday ornaments. Digby is chortling that I am an angel. I guess until "shady character smoking unfiltered Gauloise and playing midnight baccarat while breaking up Chinese high-tech spy rings" becomes appropriate for Christmas ornamentation, a snowman will just have to do.


Mata Whori Rides Again

I'd heard Vanity Fair was trying desperately to get Judy Miller to write a deep dish piece for them, but I guess they were unsuccessful and instead got Seth Mnookin. Still nothing from either Judy or Pinch himself, but looks like plenty on-the-record disgust from her colleagues. I remember reading that story about Judy's glorious return to the newsroom and thinking "my God, they must've kidnapped their kids."
Mnookin describes step-by-step how the reporters, including Don Van Natta and Janny Scott, were picked to write that October piece and how Miller often failed to cooperate fully with them. She allegedly refused to talk to Scott because she had not bothered to write to her in jail.

Von Natta talks about Miller putting him off even as she had time to talk with Lou Dobbs and Barbara Walters. "That was pretty amazing to me," he tells Mnookin, author of "Hard News," the recent book about the Jayson Blair/Howell Raines blowout. "I'm a colleague of hers, I'm trying to get an interview, and she doesn't have time for that, but she has time for Barbara Walters."

Von Natta came to believe that what Miller was saying at the time was so "preposterous" she must be "saving it all for a book.”

The Vanity Fair article reveals that the Times team actually finished a draft of that piece exactly a week before it appeared. Adam Liptak, one of the team members, recalls printing it out at 3 a.m. on a Saturday morning and reading it in the cab home, before deciding, "This thing sucks and I don't want my name on it. ... There was no logical reason why she couldn't tell us her testimony." So it went through another week of drafting, with Miller finally convinced, partly on the advice of her Times friend David Barstow, to reveal her grand jury testimony.

Elsewhere, Mnookin pulls no punches in stating that over the years Miller "had built a reputation for sleeping with her sources," had dated one of Sulzberger's best friends, Steve Ratner, "and had even, for a time, shared a vacation home with Sulzberger," whatever that means.

He hits Sulzberger hard with quotes from various unnamed Times people, who say things like, "Post-Howell, Arthur and Judy were both looking at resurrecting their reputations. And Arthur was so oblivious he didn't care about the repercussions."
Like her WoodMill counterpart, I guess Judy is holding back all the sizzle for her own book deal, which there is reportedly abject little interest in outside of fellow sex-in-disaster aficionado Judith Regan. I think they should collaborate, something catchy like War Tips for Hot Chicks: Gettin' It On at Ground Zero and the Green Zone.

I know, I know. They can thank me later.


Strip Search Sammy Saves Christmas

It looks like they're relaunching Alito:
"Liberal groups like People for the American Way and the A.C.L.U. have opposed public Christmas and Hanukkah displays and even fought to keep Christmas carols out of school," declares a radio commercial paid for by the conservative Committee for Justice beginning Monday in Colorado, Wisconsin and West Virginia, states whose senators are considered pivotal votes on Judge Alito.

"Some courts and judges have supported this radical agenda, but not Judge Sam Alito," it continues. "Throughout his career, Judge Alito has consistently upheld the Constitution's protection of free religious expression."
I guess this is an attempt to "shore up the base" but things can get a little sticky when you inherit your wedge issues from Bill O'Reilly. The super social conservatives, the really repressed fundie freaks who screech on cue whenever Ralph Reed says "Indian Gambling" think Christmas is an attempt to commercialize the birth of Jesus with secular symbols (you know, like Santa Claus). I'm not sure if they're going to rally behind Strip Search Sammy for making sure Rudoph stays in Macy's and they damn sure don't care about the right of Muslim police officers to wear beads.

It's more of an issue for O'Reilly viewers -- the Velveeta and Wonderbread set who don't really pay a lot of attention to the Supreme Court and just tune in to see Bill get hot under the gyros. Maybe I'm making too fine a distinction between loons here. I mean, Dobson gives it the knuckledragger seal of approval. But I've just always thought of it as more of an opportunity to enfranchise the middle rather than rally the true snakehandlers who will spend their last nicklel to see the embryo killers burn in hell.

Whatever. Maybe it will turn Alito into a national hero. In the mean time I'm bucking for a seat on the War on Christmas steering committee. I'm thinking my superior hillbilly fundamentalist bona fides may just put me over the top.


Monday, December 05, 2005

And Just When That Racial Profiling Thing Was Working So Well

Muriel Degauque, believed to be the first European Muslim woman to stage a suicide attack, started out life as a good Roman Catholic girl in this coal mining corner of Belgium known as the black country. She ended it in a grisly blast deep inside Iraq last month.

Ms. Degauque, 38, detonated her explosive vest amid an American military patrol in the town of Baquba on Nov. 9, wounding one American soldier, according to an account received from the State Department and given to the Federal Police in Belgium.

Her unlikely journey into militant Islam stunned Europe and for many people was an incomprehensible aberration, a lost soul led astray. But her story supports fears among many law enforcement officials and academics that converts to Europe's fastest-growing religion could bring with them a disturbing new aspect in the war on terror: Caucasian women committed to one of the world's deadliest causes.

European women who marry Muslim men are now the largest source of religious conversions in Europe, the experts say. While a vast majority of those conversions are pro forma gestures for moderately religious in-laws, a small but growing number are women who willingly adopt the conservative comportment of their fundamentalist husbands.

Most of those in the conservative ranks are motivated by spiritual quests or are attracted to what they regard as an exotic culture.

But for some, conversion is a political act, not unlike the women who joined the ranks of South American Marxist rebels in the 1960's and 1970's.

"They are people rebelling against a society in which they feel they don't belong," said Alain Grignard, a senior official in the antiterrorism division of the Belgian Police. "They are people searching through a religion like Islam for a sense of solidarity."
I have no idea why this is happening, except to say that when the power structure is exceptionally fucked up people are drawn to all sorts of weird extremes as a form of rebellion (and by that I mean the blowing yourself up part). And then some people are just crazy. But now that the Face of Extreme Islam is no longer conveniently brown, I've got twenty bucks on The Corner to be the first to Blame It On The Feminists.

And I don't mean to mock the tragedy. I mean to mock those who will most certainly exploit it in an attempt to put down women for demanding dignity for themselves.

So anybody want to go 2:1 on Cap'n Ed?


And the Winner Is....

Our good friends over at Crooks & Liars are up for the Best Video Blog award over at the 2005 Weblog Awards, and we urge you to take a moment and go over and vote for them. The General is up for Most Humorous Blog, James Wolcott is up for Best Media/Journalist Blog, and both TBogg and Jeralyn are up for Best Liberal Blog. There are many fine blogs in the Best Blog category (I myself voted for Atrios, who as far as I'm concerned after this week of blogging by myself is an iron man) but since Michelle Malkin is winning I urge you to go over there and exercise your discretion in any way you see fit. She really shouldn't be encouraged. (NB: It has been brought to our attention that both Needlenose and Roger Ailes are up for Best 501-1000 Blog. Since we are totally torn over that one we leave it to you, but recommend checking them both out in any event.)

And I did not realize it until I started poking around, but firedoglake is nominated for Best of the Top 250 Blogs. I'm not even sure what that means but I don't really care, we've never won a blog award before and it sounds good to me.


The Misery of Duke

Howie Klein has a good roundup of Duke Cunningham's shenanigans, including a link to a site that lets you listen to MP3s of the Dukester in all his wingnut glory:
Mr. Cunningham, who underwent prostate surgery in August, compared prostate cancer treatment to gay anal sex before the above-mentioned group of elderly cancer patients at Alvarado Hospital. Cunningham said no man would enjoy prostate cancer treatment “unless he’s Barney Frank.”
But Howie also points us to the Washington Blade, who now claim that the Dukester is yet another self-loathing GOP closet queen. Oh please. This cliche is growing a bit threadbare, don't you think?

(hat tip Johnny Wendall)

Update:: Okay, let me spell it out. It's not the story that's a cliche, it's the being a self-loathing GOP closet queen that's cliche. I thought that would be obvious from the many, many posts I have done on the topic of hyporcritical, repressed Republicans, but I guess I need to be more vigilant about ambiguity these days.


A Few Questions for Viveca Novak

Well Viveca, your good friend Robert Luskin seems to have catapulted you into the middle of political bedlam. How exactly does one get through this present situation with one's journalistic integrity intact? Judy Miller and Bob Woodward have subsequently rendered their credibility insufficient to hawk the Popeil Drain Buster and offer no guidance. Matt Cooper, having had the foresight to understand that the leak was a "War on Wilson" and having written the first (and best) account of his grand jury testimony, offers a road map.

Your friend David Corn admirably leapt to your defense, referring to you as "my old friend Viveca Novak, a kick-ass reporter for Time magazine." He claims that Luskin was a longtime source of yours and "not a close friend (as has been wrongly reported)," without mentioning that the day before he was the one who wrongly reported it. Never mind the fact that Corn, approaching 50, uses the phrase "kick-ass" without irony as if he were still lighting a match at a Foghat concert.

We applaud his chivalry and are willing to overlook the fact that his blog now appears to be written by Harriet Miers. But it does raise the awkward question -- what exactly was your relationship with Robert Luskin? We will do you the courtesy of presuming you were not buttering each other's toast at the St. Regis like Scooter and Judy, but where does it fall along the contiuum, say, from narc/snitch to "let's load up on Manhattans and hit the handbag sale at Barney's?"

So in the spirit of being helpful we offer up a few suggestions for questions it would be nice to have answered in your upcoming piece for Time, which we read will be forthcoming after you tell-all to Patrick Fitzgerald:

1. When and where did the fated "over drinks" conversation with Luskin take place, and what did you say that purportedly "tipped him off?" How many drinks had you had and did it affect your judgment? Did you in any way indicate you knew who Cooper's source was? It's been reported that when Luskin said Karl was out of danger your response was "that's not what I hear." What were you trying to garner from him? Isn't that a tip-off pure and simple? Didn't he get more out of you than you got out of him?

2. Did you go back to your editors immediately afterward and say "hey, funny thing, you'll never believe what Rove's lawyer says..." Or did the significance of the encounter not occur to you at the time? If it DID occur to you and you DIDN'T speak up, why the delay?

3. How exactly did you know Matt Cooper's source? When did you know it? How widely was it known around Time?

4. Did you wait until it became apparent that your colleague would very likely go to jail for a man who never intended to give him a waiver before you went to your editors and said "hey, I don't know exactly how this fits in, but before they ship Matt off to some Romanian gulag for waterboarding I thought I should mention...?" Or did you wait until after July 2005 to mention this all to your editors?

5. Why aren't you fighting talking to Fitzgerald? Why isn't Time, Inc.? Why comply without even so much as a brief? Is it because Luskin was not a confidential source? If he wasn't, what was he?

6. Will you turn over notes as well? If so, what is contained in those notes? Will you publish at least part of them?

7. When will you testify? Where? Will you tell us if you refused to answer any questions?

8. Who is your lawyer? How long has he/she represented you and is Time, Inc. paying for them?

9. Have you had any previous formal or informal communication with Fitzgerald or his staff prior to this point?

10. When did Luskin inform you that he was going to Fitzgerald about your conversation? Did it put a crimp in your relationship? Did you ask him not to?

11. Please describe your friendship with Luskin. Have you ever had, say, a social dinner or Cosmos with him or been to his home or had him to yours for a social visit?

12. How do you feel about claims that you will now provide the backbone of Karl Rove's defense? I mean, Karl Rove. The man who was perfectly happy to cause a First Amendment crisis over a conversation he'd already testified about? The man who spends his days trying to shred the Bill of Rights into a tidy heap of cat box litter? The man who would have happily seen your colleague rot in prison to save his sorry ass? David Corn says you're not a resident of wingnuttia, and this we believe. It's got to rankle.

13. Did you apologize to Time, Inc, your editors, and to Matt Cooper? Do you think you owe it to them? If not, why not? If tipping off Luskin was in the service of reporting, what did you as a reporter and Time Magazine get out of it?

14. Will you sit for interviews with serious reporters (and by that we don't mean Larry King) or will you hide out like Bob Woodward?

15. Who will pay your legal bills? Assuming there is a clause in your contract that requires employees to act in good faith before the employer assumes their legal bills, do you think that Time, Inc. should have to pay yours?

16. Did you ever mention to anyone else besides Luskin either personally or professionally that you knew who Cooper's source was?

I think you have a really wonderful opportunity here Viveca to go to school on Woodward and Miller who denied their own culpability and ratholed the juicy bits for fat book deals that may never materialize and blamed it all on Patrick Fitzgerald, with predictably disastrous results. Bob Woodward is looking at life in the remainder bin while Judy Miller will probably languish in the Regnery ghetto or battle Kay Grogan in some steel-cage death match for column inches over at Renew America. But even if those options were available, it is unimaginable that you -- or anyone -- would want them.

Your upcoming reconciliation of all these disparate threads is anxiously awaited.

By the way, did any of this come up in your interview with Bob Woodward?


Those Who Can Do, Those Who Can't Whine

Screenwriter Samm Hamm is interviewed this morning over at Corrente about the show Homecoming that he and Joe Dante did for Showtime (which I hope everyone watched, it was great.):
For the last few years Joe Dante and I have been exchanging at least a dozen e-mails a day, mostly links to blog entries and news items we stumble across and insist on sharing with the poor hapless bastards on our e-mail lists. We probably both suffer from some newshound version of ADD, and because misery loves company we’re trying to spread it to everyone we know. So yeah, blogs clearly had some influence on the issue-a-minute machine-gun style of “Homecoming.”
But for those who think intelligence is highly overrated, TBogg has the real scoop -- the response of that Liberty Film Festival never-had-anything-but-a-wingnut-welfare-job-who-nonetheless-always-manages-to-get-himself-quoted guy Jayson something who complains because people say the Liberty Film Festival is responsible for "politicizing" film:
Actually I don't think anyone was telling the good folks at the Liberty Film Festival about their being responsible for 'politicizing film'. There have been political films going back to Birth of A Nation. It was much more along the lines of not looking at every film for hidden political agendas that might somehow disturb your narrow worldview while shouting "dibs!" on anything that you like and then, on the chance that the film is successful, proclaiming it as sign from God that Hollywood needs more conservative films and hey, c'mon, throw me a bone, I'm dyin' out here.

Begging and whining and snivelling is so unattractive...
Have some pity, TBogg. The guy is trying to carve out a career and he can't get a gig directing traffic. It's all he's got.


Sunday, December 04, 2005


I've really left the Pajamas Media thing to superior wits. But you have to wonder what part of boardmember Michael Ledeen they didn't get?

With all the kindness in my heart that I could scrape together on short notice, I tried to warn The Nation's David Corn that by lending his name to the blog roster of Pajamas Media, he risked being associated with the worst sort of wharf rats and riffraff. None would condemn him for seeking other inklings of steady income, but not if it meant working the piano bar in a house of ill-repute. Corn spurned my well-intentioned counsel, deflecting my Polonious advice by casting aspersions upon Vanity Fair. If he had only listened, he might have spared himself needless shame. That's what happens when you let pride overrule the nagging voice of reason. Today Corn no doubt wishes he had heeded mine and similar admonitions, given the industrial-strength stinker Pajamas Media has become, the internet's first Edsel. I mean, it renames itself Pajamas Media--after the inept interlude of branding itself Open Source Media--and unveils its new cartoon logo: a bathrobe. To quote a line from David Mamet, these guys could fuck up a baked potato.
It's a bit of a bad day to be David Corn, I suppose. Probably explains why he took John Amato's gentle ribbing a bit too seriously. But oh lord, the comments. I don't wish that on anyone.

Well, maybe Michael Ledeen.


Wouldn't It Be Nice?

Katherine Harris can't understand why she got so many mysterious donations from defense contractor MZM, Inc., but now that the company has become toxic in the wake of the demise of her good friend Duke Cunningham, she's decided to unload them:
U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris has changed her mind and is now ready to dump more than $51,000 in campaign donations that are tied to the growing scandal around former U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham.


Harris spokeswoman Morgan Dobbs said Harris doesn't want to be linked with Cunningham and thought it was best to donate the money to a charity. Harris could not be reached Saturday for comment.

Cunningham and Harris have been helping each other on their campaigns for the past few years. In October 2004, Harris brought Cunningham to Sarasota to help her raise money and to attend a candidates debate with her.


In June, Harris was identified as one of the members of Congress that former MZM employees say they say they were pressured into giving campaign donations to.


In March 2004, when MZM officials first offered the contributions, Harris said they told her that the firm planned to open a facility in Sarasota.

Harris said she saw no downside: The deal would have brought at least 40 jobs to her district, and the firm's agents were writing checks to her campaign account. Harris said she was a little puzzled by the donation, since she wasn't assigned to any committees that handled defense budgets or policy that could have helped MZM win contracts.


Harris isn't the only member of Congress trying to return money from MZM and Cunningham. A dozen other members of Congress announced last week that they are giving money they received from Cunningham to charity.

They include Reps. Richard Pombo of California, Jim Nussle of Iowa, Heather Wilson of New Mexico and Charles Dent of Pennsylvania; Sen. John Thune of South Dakota; and Minnesota Senate candidate and Rep. Mark Kennedy.

This summer, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., returned $6,000 she received from MZM officials over the past six years, a spokesman for Dole said.
...who neglected to mention that all these people are Republicans.

Can we have a round of applause for the Cunningham Eight?

Update: Shez from the comments points out that it's more like the Cunningham Sixty.

(thanks to reader DB)


The Price of Access

Stephen Hadley spoke with the bearded one this morning in a performance so finely choreographed that when Hadley defended rendition by saying that it had happened to Carlos the Jackal, his picture flashed on up the screen.

With only moments to go in the interview, assuring that Hadley would only be on the spot for the briefest of time, Wolf popped the question everyone had tuned in for:
BLITZER: One final question on a totally unrelated matter, the CIA leak. Your name came up. Supposedly Karl Rove had sent you an e- mail about a conversation he had with Time magazine's Matt Cooper involving the wife of former U.S. Ambassador Joe Wilson. What can you tell us about your role in the CIA leak investigation?

HADLEY: I've seen press reports of that, the e-mail. The question puts me in a difficult position because there is an ongoing investigation. We have all at the White House have gotten instructions from the president that we are to fully cooperate with that investigation. And we all are. And that we are also not to talk about it publicly until it is concluded. And that's really all I can say.
Wouldn't it have been nice if Wolf had surprised us all and taken some courses in journalism 101 over the past week, say, and followed up with a question like "hey, Steve, nice Scott McClellan impression there, but didn't you officially deny being Bob Woodward's source? And what was that little dance in South Korea about? Seems to me like you get right chatty when it suits you, but clam up when the questions cut too close. Is it getting hot in here? 'Cos I can turn the heat down if it's bothering you. So anyway, back to the memo. What's up with that?"

But alas it was not to be.

In the New World Order WE ARE ALL FOX NEWS.

(Thanks to reader Patty M. for the tip)


Sunday Morning Counter-Programming

Spotted in the comments over at Atrios:
Luskin's strategy so far has been to pretend that grand juries are made up of the kind of people who book Sunday pundit wankshows.
And so we present our counter-programming moment. If you didn't catch Redd's appearance on the Charles Goyette show on Friday where she outs herself and mentions her real name, Charles has it archived here (it's the third segment).

A faculty for critical thinking not absolutely required, but it will certainly enhance your listening pleasure.